A Eulogy for Fr. Joyce

Notre Dame President Rev. Edward A. “Monk” Malloy, C.S.C. delivered the following eulogy Tuesday during wake services for Father Joyce.

The first time I met Father Ned Joyce, he would have had no recall, because I was a first-year student here, and he was entrusted with the responsibility of giving words of wisdom to the entering class. I do remember how strikingly handsome he was, and even eloquent as a speaker. And he said those lines that you never forget: Look to your left, look to your right. They probably won’t be there when you graduate. It grabbed our attention. We knew that Notre Dame would be a good but competitive place and that we had to work hard to succeed here.

From that time until quite recently on Sunday morning Ned was distinguished by his service as an administrator, as a priest, as a representative of the University of Notre Dame. He traveled the world. He interacted with the rich and the poor alike. And he was always someone characterized by classiness, and taste, and hard work habits, and a fear that the bank would be empty tomorrow. To say that he had conservative financial instincts would be true, because his longtime collaborator and visionary friend was inclined in the other direction. Somehow they usually met in the middle, and Notre Dame balanced its budget and was able to achieve great things, in the physical structures of the campus, in the beauty of the natural surroundings, in the growth in the size and the quality of the faculty and, of course, in a whole range of extracurricular pursuits. And, in Neds eyes, particularly athletics, for he oversaw that dimension of Notre Dame for his whole professional career.

I know that if you had asked Ned, when he decided to apply to Holy Cross, even though he had a degree in accountancy, with distinction, from Notre Dame, and even though he was thought to be a charming and athletically talented personhe would have said something like,I want to be a priest, and celebrate Mass, and preach, and counsel and engage in sacramental ministry.Because the vast majority of us, when we come to Holy Cross, have a certain image of what we want to do. It motivates us. It ties us to Gospel message. And it gives us a sense we will be, in this generation, Christs agent and emissary to the world. Little did Ned know that he would spend most of his priestly ministry looking over accounting books, and writing reports, and running meetings, and raising money, and giving talks, and doing what we would call administration. But the funny thing is, if you go back and read Pauls first letter to the Corinthians, it talks about the different gifts of the spirit, and how the church or the body of Christ will prosper only when each is willing to give from the storehouse of the gift of the spirit, over which we have little control. And if, in the eyes of those in the community under the vow of obedience, they ask us to have our life take a particular shape or form, then that is our call. Being an administrator is nothing like being a parish priest, worrying about the physical plant of the church or the school, or being concerned about boilers, and providing for the stuff that undergirds the power of the community gathering of faith to celebrate the presence of the risen Lord in their midst. Or like the retreat house director who also has to worry about the stuff and the things and the money that make it all go. Or the bishop, primarily entrusted with the responsibility to be a representative of the apostles, who also has to worry as part of that service about these same sorts of things.

And because Ned was good at it, and because he gathered to assist him so many bright and talented people, Notre Dame could flourish. We could enjoy a kind of expansiveness, a focus, a sense of perspective, through multiple fund-raising campaigns, multiple strategic plans, through all kinds of transformations in the institutional structure: coeducation, the development of a lay Board of Trustees, and all kinds of ways in which we were challenged in the course of the evolution of our history.

Ned was not simply important as a leader here at Notre Dame. But he also played a comparable role as a representative of Catholic higher education in the broader academy and as a leader in the evolution of various athletic organizations for all the sports, for Division I football, for an openness to the role of the media, particularly television, as the coverage of football became more intense. And he helped Notre Dame to negotiate independence yet to have affiliation, with long-term relationships and rivalries with some of the best institutions in the country and the world.

Ned, of course, never knew how long that service would last. How long hed be called to be an administrator on all of our behalf. He did it without complaint. He did it enthusiastically. He did it with great class and quality. And we are, those of us of the present and future generations, in his debt.

For he was also, when called upon, a very powerful preacher and an excellent public speaker. I know that he was a bit shy and private. And yet, he was able to find that fount of language and rhetoric that could move audiences and attract people to the cause. He could oversee complicated opportunities to explain the evolution, the Notre Dame sense of itself, and to win the support of people who were often suspicious about changing what they had inherited from the past.

What a wonderful sense of teamwork and friendliness and solidarity he displayed in his long-term relationships with our leader, Father Ted Hesburgh. Ted was there for him in a time of declining health. Who traveled the world with him in the time of their retirements. Who shared their concerns about how things were going and what kind of continued role they could play in the life of this institution and in the life of our community.

I always wondered, when they traveled and Ted wrote a book, “Travels with Ted and Ned,” what it would have looked like if it had been “Travels with Ned and Ted,” the other side of the story. Good friends are like that. They can fill in the blanks. They can bring out the best in each other. And so we, looking on this wonderful friendship and relationship, can do nothing but admire it. They were there for each other until the very end.

We try to remember who the great people have been, in the history of this community and the history of this University. One of the ways of celebrating it is on the basement floor of the Main Building, what we call the Wall of Honor. Almost everyone honored there is now deceased. One of few who were still living, honored during his lifetime, was Father Ned Joyce. I think we know from our experience it was well deserved. He has provided a wonderful model and example for us of administrative service, as a priest of Holy Cross. He was faithful to the end. He was committed with all his energy and strength. And he was confident, as his health declined, that he would be welcomed into the arms of his Lord and Savior. We are consoled by the power of that message. We are in awe of the example he provided.

May we share his depth of faith and conviction as we look forward to the day we can join him again around the eternal banquet that Christ promises to those who have loved Him.

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