Cardinal Egan, Oak Park native and Chicago priest, dies

By Catholic News Service
Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cardinal Edward Egan, right, embraces retired Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Lyne at a 2013 Mass. Cardinal Egan died March 5. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)

New York (CNS) — Cardinal Edward M. Egan, who retired as archbishop of New York in 2009, died March 5. The cause of death was cardiac arrest. He was 82.

After collapsing at his residence, he was taken to NYU Langone Medical Center, where doctors pronounced him dead. He was laid to rest in the crypt at St. Patrick Cathedral after a March 10 funeral Mass.

At Cardinal Egan’s funeral, Cardinal Timothy Dolan praised his predecessor’s devotion to the church.

“His ‘pearl of great price’ was not his erudition, his love of music and art, his renown in canon law, his administrative acumen or distinctive preaching, his bishop’s ring or cardinal’s hat, but his faith in Jesus Christ,” Cardinal Dolan told the congregation.

“I call him a churchman, a term that cannot be reduced to describing a man who prefers brick-and-mortar, ledgers and an aloof institution, but a man who sees in the church Jesus Christ, his lord and savior, alive in teaching, serving and sanctifying,” the cardinal said.

In a telegram to Cardinal Dolan, Pope Francis offered his heartfelt condolences.

“I join you in commending the late cardinal’s noble soul to God, the father of mercies,” the pope said, “with gratitude for his years of episcopal ministry among Christ’s flock in Bridgeport (Connecticut) and New York, his distinguished service to the Apostolic See, and his expert contribution to the revision of the church’s law in the years following the Second Vatican Council.”

Archbishop Cupich joined the Holy Father in lauding Cardinal Egan.

“The Archdiocese of Chicago has lost a favorite and beloved son with the death of His Eminence Edward Cardinal Egan,” the archbishop said in a March 5 statement.

“Cardinal Egan was an urbane and cultured man, a skilled pianist and lover of the arts. He was also known for good common sense and an organizational acuity, traits which benefitted the dioceses he was called to shepherd. At the same time he had a place close in his heart for those in need, and a list of friends from every walk in life. Bishops in this country and around the world knew him as a friend and support, as did Cardinal George and I.”

Cardinal George sent condolences to Cardinal Dolan, saying:

“The news of Cardinal Egan’s sudden death prompts me to write this letter of condolence to you, and to the clergy, religious and faithful of the Archdiocese of New York. While much of Cardinal Egan’s priestly and episcopal ministry was in Rome, Connecticut and New York, Chicago will continue to remember him with respect and gratitude for his service to the church in his home archdiocese.”

Chicago retired Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Goedert planned to attend Cardinal Egan’s funeral, but was unable to after his flight to New York was cancelled.

Bishop Goedert and Cardinal Egan both grew up in St. Giles Parish in Oak Park, where the future cardinal was about six years behind the bishop, in the same class as Bishop Goedert’s youngest sister.

“He was quite a brilliant man,” Bishop Goedert said. “He had polio as a child, but despite missing a lot of classes, it was never a problem with his studies.”

John Madigan, vice president of St. Joseph College Seminary, said his father, J.D. Madigan, used to stop at Cardinal Egan’s house when the future cardinal was ill as a child.

When Madigan’s father died in 2012, Cardinal Egan came back to concelebrate his funeral Mass, and he shared the story with the Madigan family.

“He told how my father’s simple act of kindness — regularly stopping to visit his sick friend on the way home from school —influenced him as a profound example of Christian charity,” Madigan said. “Cardinal Egan took that childhood lesson to heart. Though very much a dutiful leader, he was also affable, warm and gracious, very much a father.”

Cardinal Egan maintained a lifelong relationship with Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Lyne, whom he called the best of his counsellors when he spoke at Bishop Lyne’s funeral in 2013.

For several years the two served together at Holy Name Cathedral, where Cardinal Egan was assigned following his 1957 ordination.

“I never felt more at home than I did at 730 N. Wabash, Chicago, Illinois, 60611,” Cardinal Egan said, giving the address of the cathedral rectory.

A former auxiliary bishop of New York, then-Bishop Egan was named to head the Diocese of Bridgeport in 1988 and was appointed as archbishop of New York in 2000. He was named a cardinal in 2001.

In retirement, Cardinal Egan assisted in the works of the New York archdiocese and participated in the 2005 conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI.

Contributing: Michelle Martin, Catholic New World