Sadness and a request for healing

  • Notre Dame football players, including linebacker Manti Teo (second from right), leave St. Mary Catholic Church on Monday after the funeral for Declan Sullivan.

    Notre Dame football players, including linebacker Manti Teo (second from right), leave St. Mary Catholic Church on Monday after the funeral for Declan Sullivan. Bob Chwedyk

  • Declan Sullivan's parents, Alison and Barry Sullivan, center, leave their son's funeral Mass on Monday in Buffalo Grove.

    Declan Sullivan's parents, Alison and Barry Sullivan, center, leave their son's funeral Mass on Monday in Buffalo Grove. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 11/2/2010 11:47 AM

The Notre Dame-Tulsa football game played on a television screen in the United Center media workroom late Saturday afternoon.

A member of a local TV crew sat at a table shaking his head and saying, "I hope Notre Dame gets its (butt) kicked."

 

That seems to be the mood on the street toward the Fighting Irish these days. Many people want Notre Dame to suffer somehow for Declan Sullivan's death.

By now you know the 20-year-old Notre Dame student videographer died last week while taping practice for the Irish football team.

A wind gust blew over the hydraulic scissor lift Sullivan was perched on and he died in the ensuing crash.

This became a national story actually international, considering Notre Dame's global reach that hit a little too close to home here.

The Sullivan family lives in Long Grove. Declan attended Carmel High School in Mundelein. A wake was held for him Sunday in Lake Zurich. A funeral Mass took place Monday at St. Mary Catholic Church in Buffalo Grove.

I live in Arlington Heights, a couple of miles down Buffalo Grove Road from St. Mary. Maybe that's why you can include me among those who want someone at Notre Dame to be held accountable for what sure seems at best like negligence.

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Like many, I thought some of ND athletic director Jack Swarbrick's immediate remarks last week sounded like a lawyer protecting a client; I thought the Tulsa game should have been postponed; I thought overall the school's public response to the tragedy was inadequate.

However, the Sullivan family sentiment appeared to be much different Monday as I watched with other media members from the sidewalk behind a fence outside the St. Mary grounds.

Instead of anger was a sense of sadness, instead of animosity a request for healing.

Whether the Sullivans can maintain that tone as time passes will be interesting, but the family's ties to Notre Dame are strong. Not only did Declan attend the school, his sister Wyn does.

"Since the older two (of three Sullivan children) were on campus, the bond has gotten stronger (with ND)," said Michael Miley, Declan's uncle and the family spokesman.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The incident that took Declan's life is under investigation and Miley said, "We're not at all engaged in the process. We're very much into healing."

Carmel High was well represented at St. Mary, as was Notre Dame. Rev. Thomas Doyle, ND's vice president of student affairs, was the homilist. Football head coach Brian Kelly attended with a number of his players.

"The family is overwhelmed by how (the Notre Dame community) has come to its side," Miley said.

While outsiders like me want to assess blame on Swarbrick, Kelly, somebody, anybody, everybody for now Sullivan family insiders devote their energies to searching for inner peace after losing a loved one.

Following the 75-minute Mass were supportive hugs, tears and even smiles as the standing-room-only congregation gathered in the church parking lot.

Absent were anger and revenge and everything else some of us have felt since first hearing of how Declan Sullivan died.

The family is grieving with more dignity than many outside their circle ever could under similar circumstances.

mimrem@dailyherald.com