Tuesday, January 13, 2009


This morning, I attended the funeral Mass of Fr. Richard John Neuhaus. It was celebrated at the Church of the Immaculate Conception on 14th Street just east of 1st Avenue -- where Fr. Neuhuas had served as a priest for some 17 years.

I arrived 20 minutes prior to the 10 a.m. start time and the church was already standing-room only.

I thought it was a beautiful statement about Catholicism that Fr. Neuhaus' funeral brought some of the nation's leading conservative thinkers and writers to a parish of New York City's East Village -- a neighborhood where Barack Obama's election was celebrated like the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The liturgy itself was a fine reflection of the man for whom it was celebrated. It was refined and stately with a memorable, well-crafted homily by Fr. Raymond de Souza.

Fr. de Souza spoke of Fr. Neuhaus the man instead of focusing on the public figure and his published works. He remembered that his friend enjoyed the word "convivium" (as in its Latin usage as a banquet or feast) -- and how brilliant he was in conversation around the dinner table. He also stated that, despite his many achievements, Fr. Neuhaus' "axis mundi" was the altar at Immaculate Conception on 14th Street.

Fr. de Souza recalled that, during "the long Lent" of the sexual abuse crisis, Fr. Neuhuas stressed the need for "fidelity, fidelity, fidelity."

For the historical record:

The principal celebrant of the Mass was Auxiliary Bishop Dennis Sullivan, vicar general of the Archdiocese of New York. The concelebrants included Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of Baltimore, Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre (Long Island), other New York auxiliary bishops, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., Fr. Romanus Cessario, O.P., Fr. Aquinas Guilbeau, O.P., and many other priests.

Some of the Sisters of Life also were present. (In his homily, Fr. de Souza noted that Fr. Neuhaus and the Sisters of Life were the two great gifts of the late Cardinal John O'Connor to the pro-life movement, adding, "The cardinal would be pleased to know that the latter are here praying for the former.")

Some of the laity at the funeral included Rick Santorum, George Weigel, Robert P. George, William Donohue, Raymond Arroyo and George Marlin. Among the Faithful standing in the back aisle were John Wilson and Peter Steinfels.

The funeral featured many beautiful hymns including "Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones" and "The Church's One Foundation." Near the end of Communion, the choir sang Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." I embed it below in memoriam:

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