Former ND president speaks at St. Mary’s

Published 9:36 am Monday, January 29, 2007

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES – Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, former head of the University of Notre Dame and advisor to numerous U.S. presidents, spoke about immigration Sunday at St. Mary's Church in Niles.
Roger Gregorski, permanent deacon of St. Mary's, said he asked Father Hesburgh to speak as part of the church's youth group series on intergenerational catechesis, which focuses on "hot button" topics in the world. Youth group members attend the speeches with parents, Gregorski said, to encourage discussions regarding faith and current issues between generations.
Previous topics discussed in the youth group series included the death penalty, Gregorski said. Father Hesburgh was asked to speak about immigration.
Hesburgh assisted President Jimmy Carter during his term in the late 1970s with creating solutions to immigration. The goal of that administration, as Gregorski said Father Hesburgh explained, was to provide a legal avenue for immigrants to enter the country legally either as temporary workers or with the purpose of becoming permanent residents.
Father Hesburgh, who, Gregorski said, turns 90 in May, began his speech by giving a history of Notre Dame, of which he served as the president of from 1952 to 1987. The university, just like the U.S., was founded by individuals with varying European backgrounds.
"He was trying to show we are a nation of immigrants," Gregorski said. "Our roots, our origins – not only in our country but our churches – are immigrants."
The second part of the speech was about President Carter's plans for immigration, which included small, pocket-sized cards for all citizens, Gregorski said. The proposal was met with a lot of resistance by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Gregorski said, and never came to fruition.
Father Hesburgh was named the 15th president of Notre Dame in 1952 at the age of 35.
His services have also been employed by four popes and 15 presidents, and he has also been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the Medal of Freedom and more than 150 honorary degrees.