How Fragile and Brilliant is the Gift of Life by zlf11327

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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).

								
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