Today I offered Mass for my good friend Sarge Shriver, and I will say many more in the days and weeks ahead. I did this because I know how important the Mass was to Sarge. In the Peace Corps's earliest days, when its first offices were actually in the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, Sarge and his lieutenants were camped out there. No matter how late Sarge and his task forces met into the night, Sarge could be seen the following morning, just before seven o'clock, leaving the hotel and walking the few blocks to St. Mathew's Cathedral for the 7 o'clock Mass.
Notre Dame and I were privileged to be "present at the creation" of the Peace Corps - literally. One early day in March, 1961, I was on my way to the airport after a meeting of the Civil Rights Commission and I caught sight of Sarge and Harris Wofford walking across Layfayette park. They were waving a piece of paper at me. It was the Executive Order creating the Peace Corps that they were bringing to President Kennedy to sign that day. Later that day they both called me and asked if Notre Dame could develop a pilot Peace Corps project in Chile. We did and our volunteers were among the first hundred ever. Two hundred thousand idealistic and committed Americans have followed in their footsteps.
I have always believed that one person can make a difference, and I never hesitate to say this, especially to our students at Notre Dame. History is replete with heroic individuals who had a tremendous impact for good on our country and on the world. I tell them that Albert Schweitzer did; Dr. Tom Dooley did; Mother Theresa did and now I will certainly add another name to that list, my good friend Sarge Shriver.
Reverend Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C.
President Emeritus, University of Notre Dame