The life of Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., America’s preeminent Catholic theologian, was celebrated on Dec. 18 in a Mass of Christian Burial held at the Cathedral of St. Patrick in New York City. The Mass drew hundreds of mourners to the cathedral, including Cardinal Dulles’ friends and family, as well as fellow Jesuits and other members of the New York and national Catholic communities.

News and Media Relations staff attended the Mass and offered their informal observations on it and the cathedral:

For those who aren’t familiar with the Cathedral of St. Patrick, as it’s formally known, attending a funeral there can be an educational experience on both the layout and the schedule of New York City’s most famous house of worship. If you arrive early with the hopes of getting a good seat, you will find that even as tourists mill about the aisles looking at the Christmas Creche and the Stations of the Cross, masses are performed at noon, 12:30 and 1 p.m.

In the case of Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., whose Mass of Christian Burial was held today at 2 p.m., the same is true, even though Cardinal Dulles laid in state at the Cathedral from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visitors wishing to pay their final respects to the Cardinal needed only walk around the sanctuary where mass was being celebrated to the Lady Chapel, a much more intimate space with pews for about 50 that’s dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Located at the eastern end of the cathedral, the Lady Chapel is far enough away from the hubbub of the rest of the church to allow for serious reflection on the accomplishments of a man who lived the kind of life that inspired millions.

Patrick Verel, Assistant Editor
Inside Fordham

What began with a moment of silence ended with applause, long and loud, ringing out through St. Patrick’s Cathedral for Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J.

Mourners greeted the Cardinal’s casket with respectful quiet as pallbearers moved it into place at the foot of the main altar to begin the proceedings.

When Archbishop Edward Cardinal Egan closed the Mass, Cardinal Dulles’ family and friends began a round of applause that moved like a wave through the assemblage. The final salute followed the casket as it was moved down the center aisle out of the church.

Joseph McLaughlin, Editor
Inside Fordham

For more detailed coverage of Cardinal Dulles’ life, see Fordham Mourns the Death of Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., and U.S. Catholic Community Bids Farewell to Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J.