Channel 16, Father Hesburgh, and the Prayer for Peace

Kids today don’t know how good they have it, with Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network delivering animation to their living rooms 24x7x365. During my 1970s-80s childhood, we got cartoons on Saturday mornings and for an hour after school, and that was it. My brother and I liked animation so much that we’d rise early on Saturday morning to catch every available hour of cartoons.

We started on Channel 16 because they aired the Japanese anime Battle of the Planets right after sign on. Channel 16, WNDU-TV, was our local NBC station. We had no idea how unusual it was that it was owned by the University of Notre Dame. All we knew was that during sign-on they played a recording of University President Father Theodore Hesburgh reading of the Prayer for Peace of St. Francis of Assisi.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

I heard that recording so often that even today I can recite most of this prayer from memory. I haven’t heard that recording in 30 years until someone recently uploaded a 1985 sign-off that included it. Here it is!

I wasn’t raised in the faith. What I saw of Christians as a kid tended to repel me. (Here’s a story about how.) But hearing Father Hesburgh read this gentle prayer on those Saturday mornings gave me hope that perhaps somewhere people lived their faith in these ways. That’d be a faith worth following. When I sought God, I looked for him in people this quiet and humble.

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21 responses to “Channel 16, Father Hesburgh, and the Prayer for Peace”

  1. Gerald Avatar

    Ah, I fondly remember Battle of the Planets! Coincidentally (and at the risk of demonstrating I have too much time on my hands) I was reading the Wikipedia page a few months back.

    It’s an interesting read with regard to the changes from the original Japanese version, and why the robot performed those expositional voiceovers.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oh lordy, that dumb robot. (shakes head)

      I don’t know now what I saw in that show!

  2. J P Avatar

    The idea of a TV station signing on in the morning and signing off at night seems so quaint now.

    Fr. Hesburgh has been getting a lot of attention lately. For those who don’t know, he led Notre Dame (the university, not the French cathedral) for decades. There was a movie done about his life recently that was kind of a puff piece and a book out early this year with a more honest look at his complex legacy.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      He was larger than life to us in South Bend.

  3. Matt Avatar

    I remember this sign-off well, since I stayed up late quite a bit back then. A contest spot by the late, great Dick Addis. Also, the late Kris Robbins (Michael Bales) had left South Bend in the early ’80s, but WNDU still was using his voiceover for this sign-off.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Good old Dick Addis! This might be the only clip of him on the entire Internet.

      1. Matt Avatar

        At least a few clips do exist… including this one with the BOC gang.

        Dick Addis Show- Beyond Our Control- 1983

        1. Jim Grey Avatar


  4. DougD Avatar

    Ah, Battle of the Planets. I did watch it, but my younger brother was more into it than I, although we used to make Lego models of the various vehicles.

    I always wondered, since Zoltar was always BARELY defeated in each episode why didn’t he wait a while, build TWO giant robots and he would totally clean up? I guess the Luminous One wouldn’t let him do that.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oh, the show had to resolve cleanly in a half hour! You know how that goes.

  5. Dan Cluley Avatar
    Dan Cluley

    I see that Battle of the Planets picture and remember being really into the show at one point, but I can’t tell you one thing about it otherwise.

    I’m sure the local stations here were still signing off at night when I was a kid, but I don’t think I was ever up early or late enough to notice.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I watched a lot of that show but also can’t tell you much about it now. I’m not sure it ever made sense to me!

  6. Robyn Weber Avatar
    Robyn Weber

    I shared this with my ex husband who spent his high school years working for WSBT, both out at the transmitter and at the station in town. His Dad, my former father in law, retired from WSBT after a long career. Dave loved this, and said it brought back a lot of great memories. 💜

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oh how awesome! Your ex might also enjoy this blast from the past:

      Robertson’s Remnant Days jingle

  7. Martin Cutrone Avatar

    It’s a beautiful prayer, and should sum up what Catholicism means. I went to a Franciscan college, Siena College, and heard this prayer many, many times. The Franciscans I knew mostly seemed to live that humble and service based life. Although I don’ t go to church any longer, this prayer always gives me a good feeling. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m happy this reconnected you to the goodness of your faith!

  8. Read.Count.Craft Avatar

    As a new Christian rich Mullins had just died & Awesome God song had just taken off- the remake of his original. I actually like his song that encompasses the first part of the St Francis prayer. Rich wasn’t Catholic but from my research he didn’t pay attention to denominational divisions. He didn’t even know how much money he made and embraced that from Assissi. He was a huge influence in my walk with Christ back then and the only poem I wrote this year basically emulated the first stanza from this prayer…but kept “Lots make me an Instrument of Peace..

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That’s awesome. It’s remarkable how music can draw us closer to God.

  9. Deb Sinclair Avatar
    Deb Sinclair

    I too can recite from memory most of this prayer because of its use for sign-off. Even though I’m not Catholic, I love this prayer. It should be a universal one for all Christians . Thanks for bringing up this memory.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      My pleasure!

  10. Barb Avatar

    Thank you.. a Beautiful send off.. Beautiful prayer too

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