Cardinal Edward Michael Egan was laid to rest Tuesdayin the crypt of St. Patrick's Cathedral following a dignitary-studded funeral attended by all four living NYC mayors, hundreds of top-ranking clergy (including the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States) and a send-off of "Ave Maria" sung by Metropolitan Opera soprano Renee Fleming.
In his homily, Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan said that while Egan, who died Thursday at age 82 of a heart attack, loved the church, he was not fond of eulogies.
Dolan said the two had attended many funerals together and related a story concerning the funeral of Egan's mother. "As soon as the Mass was over, Cardinal Egan started down the aisle to process out. One of his nieces whispered, 'Uncle Eddie, you forget that we have someone to give a eulogy.' To which he replied, 'I didn't forget at all. Mom didn't like eulogies. Neither does her son. Let's go."
Nevertheless, Dolan paid tribute to Egan's ministry of comfort after 9/11, his "ready ear, big shoulders, and hearty help," his erudition, affection for music and labors on behalf of parishes, schools, religious education and charities -- but emphasized that Egan's first love was the church. By way of illustration, Dolan shared another story: "Visiting the priests' lot at one of our cemeteries, he once pointed out to me the inscription on one tombstone: Dilexit ecclesiam" -- Latin, Dolan said, for "He loved the church." Dolan said Egan lauded the simple tribute with which he so closely identified.
A great nephew named Ryan also gave a personal tribute to "my great Uncle Ed," who served as a paternal figure in the Egan family. Egan was a man who respected craft and fine workmanship, adored art-filled Italian flea markets and "Renee Fleming's voice," and who so loved the church, he considered all within it a part of his own family, Ryan said.
The service lasted more than two hours and included Metropolitan Opera tenor Matthew Polenzani singing the lead on Cesar Franck's "Panis Angelicus." The funeral took place in an 1858 building now filled with modern monitors with much of the interior obscured by scaffolding, as a major renovation of the interior is underway.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and past mayors Michael Bloomberg, Rudy Giuliani and David Dinkins were among the dignitaries who packed St. Patrick’s to pay their respects.