Fatal Harlem fire used as example in Cardinal Dolan’s Easter sermon

Cardinal Timothy Dolan said his Easter sermon was inspired by the death of FDNY Lt. Michael Davidson on Sunday, remarking that the loss evoked feelings of sadness but also outpourings of love and support, paralleling Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Dolan presided over Davidson’s funeral last week after the firefighter passed away battling a blaze in Harlem.

“It was such a piercing example for me of the power of the resurrection,” Dolan said after the Easter service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Sunday. “And I saw it in those firefighters, I saw it in [his wife] Eileen and his kids. Boy, their sorrow was profound, their missing him was deep, but yet they didn’t give up, they kept going and I thought that’s what Easter’s about. That’s what Easter is: life over death, good over evil, love over hatred. And they exemplified it for me.”

Davidson was found unconscious in the basement of a St. Nicholas Avenue building and ultimately died of smoke inhalation, authorities have said, after he was separated from other firefighters while they battled the blaze that broke out at about 11 p.m. on March 22.

The building was being used by the film crew of “Motherless Brooklyn,” a period crime drama directed by and starring Edward Norton.

During the sermon in front of more than 2,000 parishioners on Sunday, Dolan said Davidson’s funeral represented a second Good Friday.

“Like that first Good Friday, the darkness was thick. Like that first Good Friday, the floors of this cathedral seemed to tremble with an earthquake of sadness,” Dolan told those gathered for Easter Sunday mass. “And then, you know everybody, from here after the funeral the firefighters went back to work, and Eileen and the kids went back home because life goes on, because they have faith and hope. And the sun came up the next morning because of that faith and hope, because of Easter.”