Cardinal Edward Michael Egan, Archbishop Emeritus of New York, was remembered as a distinguished prince of the Church and devoted uncle at his Funeral Mass March 10 in a packed St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Cardinal Dolan served as principal celebrant and homilist at the dignified liturgy that drew droves of prelates and dignitaries.
He recalled visiting the priests’ lot at one of the cemeteries with Cardinal Egan, who pointed out to Cardinal Dolan the inscription on the tombstone of a departed priest: “Dilexit ecclesiam,” Cardinal Dolan recalled in his homily. Cardinal Egan cherished the reference, he said, not just because it was in Latin, but because of what it said: ‘He loved the Church!’
“‘What a tribute,’ he commented to me,” Cardinal Dolan continued. Such a tribute, he added, “Edward Egan also merits, because, dilexit ecclesiam, he loved the Church.”
Cardinal Dolan said he salutes Cardinal Egan “as a churchman,” a term “that cannot be reduced to describing a man who prefers brick-and-mortar, ledgers, and an aloof, cold institution, no, no, but a man who sees in the Church, Jesus Christ…”
Cardinal Egan, who died at age 82 March 5, had served as the ninth archbishop of New York from 2000 to 2009. He was the first to retire; all his predecessors died in office.
Concelebrants at the afternoon Funeral Mass included Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley; Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston; Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó, apostolic nuncio to the United States and Archbishop Bernardito Auza, apostolic nuncio to the United Nations; Baltimore Archbishop William Lori; Chicago Archbishop Blasé Cupich; New York’s Auxiliary Bishops Gerald Walsh, John O’Hara, Peter Byrne, John Jenik and Dominick Lagonegro; Camden Bishop Dennis Sullivan; Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio; and Rockville Centre Bishop William Murphy.
Also, Cardinal William Levada, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Adam Maida, Archbishop Emertus of Detroit; Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington; Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles; Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia; Archbishops Emeriti of Hartford Henry Mansell and Daniel Cronin, and numerous other archbishops, bishops and priests.
Deacons were Rev. Mr. José Cruz and Deacon Francis Orlando. Seminarians were also in attendance, as were ecumenical and interreligious leaders.
Also present were elected officials, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo; Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Mayors Michael Bloomberg, Rudy Giuliani and David Dinkins; Robert P. Astorino, Westchester County executive; and many other civic and community officials.
“It is a very sad day,” best-selling author Mary Higgins Clark told CNY just before the Funeral Mass began. “On the other hand, precious to the Lord is the death of his saints.”
“I loved him,” she added. Among Ms. Clark’s prayers that night would be for the late cardinal “to start blessing us.”
Archbishop Viganó read a letter of condolence from Pope Francis, who also conferred his apostolic blessing.
Many of the cardinal’s relatives participated in the liturgy. Bryan Hayes, a great-nephew, provided riveting reflections of his great-uncle.
Cardinal Egan set the bar high, Hayes said, as a leader in the Church and in his family, and in a resolve to love God and neighbor.
His affection for New York was apparent, and he called it “the greatest city in the world,” his nephew said. “He’d look at us out of the corner of his eyes, turn his head and smile and bellow that ‘New York can’t be beat.’” And then he’d repeat the adage with a nod: “No way—it can’t be beat.”
Hayes said he shared the sentiment as a thank you for all those assembled in the cathedral for the 2 p.m. Funeral Mass. “You all meant the world to him. He was very proud to have been part of your family. And I’m very proud to be a part of his…. He’ll continue to watch over us from heaven….”
Edward M. Egan and Robert A. Egan, nephews of the late cardinal, served as lectors. Intercession readers were Mary E. Hayes and Kathryn E. Morris, nieces of Cardinal Egan, and Thomas J. Egan, his nephew. Gift-bearers were great-nieces and great-nephews of Cardinal Egan.
Among the Church’s faithful who came from far away to pay their respects was Tony Todora, 71, of Dallas. Numerous family members, also from Texas, including two granddaughters, Scarlett Fulmer, 13 and Savanna Fulmer, 10, accompanied him.
“This is a huge event,” Todora said. “The cardinal was a very important figure in the Catholic Church, and could have been considered to be a pope…He had a very wonderful life, made several accomplishments, and was highly respected. We thought it…important to come here and see where he did his work for the last days of his life. And we wanted our grandchildren to realize the significance of this event.”
Knight of Malta Rory Kelleher, 66, who is the board chair of Catholic Guardian Services, an agency of Catholic Charities, remembered Cardinal Egan as one who “set an example for all of us to follow as a good Catholic and a leader. We should all carry on in that vein,” added Kelleher, who belongs to St. Thomas More parish in Manhattan.
In addition to the striking sounds of drums and bagpipes at the beginning of the procession, resplendent music was provided throughout the rite by the Cathedral Choir, under the direction of Jennifer Pascual, director of music. Renée Fleming and Matthew Polenzani, soloists of the Metropolitan Opera, provided additional dignity to the rite, including through the hymn, “Ave Maria.”
Also in honor of the Blessed Mother, in tribute to Cardinal Egan, Cardinal Dolan led the priests of the archdiocese in singing “Salve Regina.”
Bidding the archbishop emeritus a fond farewell, congregants reverently made the sign of the cross as Cardinal Egan’s casket passed by a final time in the cathedral he served so faithfully. Applause reverberated throughout the cathedral. At the conclusion of the Rite of Committal and Final Commendation, Cardinal Egan was entombed in the cathedral crypt below the main altar.