Reaching Out to Those in Darkness
Rev. Thomas J. O’Hara, C.S.C.
In my student days I loved meditating before the coal altar at King’s College. For me that altar represented thousands of miners who daily faced the darkness of the earth hoping for a better life, if not for themselves, then for their descendents. For many miners that hope was realized when Holy Cross brothers and priests came from the University of Notre Dame to establish King’s in 1946.
As one of those descendents educated by Holy Cross, I am indebted both to the miners who faced the darkness with hope and to the Holy Cross men who indeed brought hope by educating the hearts and minds of thousands of the sons (and ultimately daughters) of those miners.
Today that coal altar is in the Blessed Sacrament chapel, as if the Blessed Sacrament overlooking it sacramentalizes both the dedication of the miners and the commitment of Holy Cross.
The mines are no longer but the men of Holy Cross continue to bring hope to millions of Americans by forming their hearts and minds. In our relatively prosperous country we still find many of our brothers and sisters facing darkness. But in parishes from Vermont to Arizona, higher educational institutions from Massachusetts to Oregon, and specialized ministries throughout the country we reach out to those people.
We challenge the minds of the powerful to think ethically and justly and to have hearts that are compassionate and loving. We cultivate the minds of the poor so they can see new possibilities for life and their hearts so that they are comforted by God’s loving presence.
We bring hope to all in the midst of whatever darkness shadows their lives. And most amazingly, we find ourselves blessed by those very ones to whom we bring hope, for they bring hope to us.
Fr. Thomas J. O'Hara, C.S.C., is the Superior of the United States Province (Notre Dame, Indiana).