Fr. Hesburgh’s 96th birthday celebration at the U.S. Capitol

I had the great fortune to travel to Washington to photograph Father Hesburgh’s 96th birthday party at the Capitol.

Walking into a dimly lit, wood-paneled room filled with people in dark suits can be a bit daunting because of the photographic technical challenges. But when it’s the movers and shakers of our country joined to celebrate Father Hesburgh’s birthday, that’s a whole different ball game. So I immediately began working the room, to get my mind off how important it was to capture this remarkable event for Notre Dame.

As I was shooting, U.S. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi turned to me and gave me a direct order to photograph the members of Congress as they greeted Father Hesburgh. For a moment I was very confused but realized she had mistaken me for their staff photographer. I guess they have many. Fortunately I was wearing my trusty ND nametag and to my relief she saw it and very graciously touched my shoulder and apologized. She showed her sincerity by apologizing more than once and called me dear too!

I have often wished I kept a journal of all the really cool places and events I have been fortunate to cover as a photojournalist, and now ND photographer. I guess it’s never too late.

Here is a selection of photos from the day. I hope you will enjoy seeing them as much as I enjoyed making them.

-Barbara Johnston