"How Fragile and Brilliant is the Gift of Life"
F O R D H A M page 32 Finis How Fragile and Brilliant is the Gift of Life: Father O’Hare as the Fordham Pastor By Ryan Stellabotte As Fordham’s 31st president, the Rev. Joseph A. When The World of O’Hare, S.J., has left a legacy that can be measured Hibernia magazine fea- tured Father O’Hare in in square footage and financial growth, but what a 1998 article about the is less tangible—though certainly no less felt—is “shining stars of the his enduring impact on countless members of the Irish diaspora,” he Fordham family as their spiritual leader. summed up the boon of his heritage: “I welcome “We’ll remember [Father O’Hare] when tragedy struck as the the Irish sense of both pastor who, through his presence, words and voice, trans- the tragedy and comedy formed suffering into an occasion for learning and grace,” of life—and the Irish said the Rev. Raymond Schroth, S.J., author of Fordham: A gift of language to deal History and Memoir. with both.” When the Fordham community gathered to mourn the loss While president, he officiated at more than 50 alumni wed- of three students and 36 alumni who were killed in the terror- dings. One particularly memorable wedding took place on ist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, with a Mass of Remembrance Oct. 26, 1996, the same day the New York Yankees beat the and Hope, Father O’Hare said: “We can be transformed by Atlanta Braves to win the World Series. After celebrating the better realizing how fragile is the gift of life and learn to trea- nuptial Mass for Bob Hagan (FCO ’88, GBA ’90) and his sure it all the more…We can respect the promise of life, in wife, Kerri, Father O’Hare joined the families for the reception ourselves and in others more deeply, and recognize, more keenly at the Canyon Club in Armonk, N.Y. Midway through the fes- than before, that if life is not shared, it will be squandered.” tivities, however, Hagan’s parents noticed that Father O’Hare Father O’Hare has shared his pastoral gifts in the wake of was leaving in a hurry. They alerted their son, who recently events that have forever changed the world and during moments recalled what happened next. that have deeply affected the Fordham family. Meaningfully “I literally ran to the parking lot to track him down. I said, and memorably, he spoke at an impromptu memorial Mass ‘Father, is everything all right?’ ‘Robert, I am fine,’ he said. ‘The when 20-year-old defensive back Bill Tierney died suddenly on Yankees can clinch the Series tonight, and I have tickets to the Coffey Field just before the Homecoming game in October game. I really have to go.’ 1996. To mark the loss, Sesquicentennial Hall was renamed “We still laugh about that,” said Hagan. “I love that guy.” Tierney Hall in 1998. He has been called upon again and again to comfort and console the Fordham family in difficult times, but also to cel- ebrate and christen its happiest moments. “His presence made the milestones even more meaningful,” said John Buckley (GSE ’89), assistant vice president for undergraduate enroll- ment, reflecting on the fact that his two children were baptized by Father O’Hare. King Arthur surrounded by his knights: Bottom row (L to R): Eric J. Fields (FCO ’88, LAW ’95), Mike McGivney (FCO ’88), Father O’Hare, Mike Shragher (CBA ’90) and Mike Keefe (CBA’87, LAW ’92). Top row (L to R): Yon Elvira (FCO ’88); Larry McGivney (CBA ’85); Rick Hollawell (CBA ’90); the groom, Bob Hagan (FCO ’88, GBA ’90); John Somers (CBA ’88); and Mark Mullen (CBA ’88).