Cardinal Edward Egan, retired archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York, died Thursday at 82 and was remembered as a New York leader who gave moral support during some of the city's most trying times.
Egan suffered a heart attack and was taken to NYU Langone Medical Center where he was pronounced dead about 2:20 p.m. His successor, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, announced his death on his blog, and later reflected on Egan's strong connection to the Big Apple during a news conference inside St. Patrick's Cathedral.
"He loved this city. He obviously loved the Catholic family of New York with a particularly paternal care," Dolan said. "He loved its priests, and its sisters, and the parishes and, especially, the people."
Egan served the New York Archdiocese -- which oversees the Catholic parishes in Staten Island, Manhattan, the Bronx, Westchester and other parts of upstate New York -- from 2000 to 2009.
Dolan said Egan was eating lunch with his secretary when he suffered the heart attack. He received his final sacrament, the anointing of the sick, before he died.
Dolan said he expects there will be a wake at the cathedral, but didn't have immediate details. He said he expects Egan's body will be entombed beneath the altar. "It's sad to lose him but it leaves us grateful for who he was and thankful to God that he had a very happy death," he said. "What [New Yorkers] will miss most about Cardinal Egan would be his sense of faith and hope."
Egan's portrait was shown on the video monitors inside the cathedral while the organ played Thursday afternoon. About two dozen people, many tourists, sat around the cavernous cathedral. The visitors were surprised by the news.
"It does make coming here a little more meaningful," said Patricia Hoynes, 51, of Cheshire, Connecticut. "As a Catholic you're working towards something and it's a good thing ... I think it's a day of rebirth."
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he and first lady Chirlane McCray were saddened by the loss, highlighting Egan's impact on all New Yorkers.
"He was a generous man who committed his life to serving others," de Blasio said in a statement. "His compassion was reflected in his deeds, and his ability to inspire those around him."
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg called Egan a "good friend" who "shared a lot of laughs."
"He led his Church through difficult times, and he helped lead New York City out of our darkest hour," Bloomberg said in a statement. "I could always count on his personal support, even when we held very different views."
Egan, an Oak Park, Illinois, native, was the Bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut, for 12 years before he was installed in the New York Archdiocese. A year later, Pope John Paul II ordained him as a cardinal, the seventh in the city's history.
Egan led the church during trying times, including after the 9/11 attacks. "I had my pockets full of rosaries," Egan told the National Catholic Register during the 10th anniversary of the attacks. "We did what priests should do -- we weren't policemen or firemen. We did what we could." Egan also offered his apologies to victims of sex abuse in the church in a 2002 letter.