Funeral Mass held for Cardinal John Foley

Clergy files past the coffin of Cardinal John Foley before mid-morning prayers as his public viewing takes place in Saint Martin Chapel at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in the Philadelphia suburb of Wynnewood, Pa. Thursday Dec. 15, 2011. Cardinal Foley died Dec. 11 of undisclosed causes at a residence for priests in Darby, the Philadelphia suburb where he was born 76 years ago.In addition to many other duties, Foley for 25 years narrated the Vatican's Christmas Midnight Mass for the American TV audience. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

December 16, 2011 3:45:59 PM PST
Hundreds of priests, bishops and cardinals processed into the Cathedral Basilica Friday afternoon for the solemn funeral mass for Cardinal John Foley.

The cardinal himself planned much of the service, choosing Bishop Edwin O'Brien of Baltimore, Maryland to be the principal celebrant. Bishop O'Brien succeeds Cardinal Foley as Grand Master of the Vatican organization that raises funds for churches in the Holy Land.

The homilist was New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan. He remembered Foley as a remarkable, lovable, humble, wise, holy man with a natural sense of humor.

"I once said to him, 'John, if I did not know for a fact that you were a teetotaler I'd swear you had a couple of shots of grappa before breakfast every morning,'" said Dolan.

Archbishop Dolan repeated what so many have said: that the cardinal loved Philadelphia. In a veiled reference to the local scandal he told members of the archdiocese to hold their heads high.

"A local church that can give us the likes of such a noble, gentle man, whose message literally went out to the ends of the earth, is a church which can endure and come out ever-stronger in the face of woe and tears," said Dolan.

After the mass the cardinal's body was carried to the cathedral crypt, its final resting place.

We spoke with some of the laity who paid their respects Friday, some of whom came from as far away as California.

"We were actually married by Cardinal Foley when he was an archbishop and we were married by him at St. Peter's in the Vatican," said Laurin Dodd of Orange County. "So he's been very close to our heart. We stayed in touch with him over the years."

"We know he is in a better place and we're happy for him," said Dodd's wife Sophia Rose.

Before Friday's mass, a viewing for Cardinal Foley began around 9:45 a.m. and continued until 1:30 p.m.

The casket carrying the body of Cardinal John Foley was received at the Cathedra Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul just before 10:00 a.m. Friday.

There was a mid-morning prayer service prior to the viewing. After prayers the casket was opened and the public viewing began.

Foley led an ancient Catholic order in the Holy Land for three years before retiring in February. Besides narrating the Christmas Mass for American audiences, he was the editor-in-chief of Philadelphia's archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Standard & Times, from 1970 to 1984.

"He loved Philadelphia, he loved everything about this city, about the church of Philadelphia," said Msgr. Arthur Rodgers. "When he would finish the midnight mass at the Vatican he would be on a plane immediately to spend Christmas with his mother here in Philadelphia."

Cardinal Foley died last Sunday of Leukemia at the age of 76.

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