Remembering Cardinal Edward Egan

The former archbishop of New York died Thursday at the age of 82.

Cardinal Edward Egan
Cardinal Edward Egan (photo: CNA)

NEW YORK — Cardinal Edward Egan, a former archbishop of New York who shepherded the city in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, died Thursday at the age of 82.

“Join me, please, in thanking God for his life, especially his generous and faithful priesthood,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York said March 5. “Pray as well that the powerful mercy of Jesus, in which our cardinal had such trust, has ushered him into heaven.”

Cardinal Dolan said his predecessor passed away after lunch in residence at the Chapel of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. His secretary, Father Douglas Crawford, gave him the sacraments. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead due to cardiac arrest.

Cardinal Egan served as archbishop of New York from 2000 to 2009. His time as New York archbishop included the horrors of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the intense emotion of the rescue efforts.

“It was a time of great tragedy, but also of great heroes,” he told the National Catholic Register in a September 2011 interview.

“New York and the world saw examples of self-sacrifice that I don't think have ever been matched in our time,” he said. “People worked around the clock, with dust and sand from above or below. No one was thinking about themselves. Police officers, firefighters, emergency workers poured themselves out for others. You couldn't help but be inspired by that. We saw heroism and self-sacrifice — expressions of great holiness.”

Cardinal Egan went to a hospital soon after the attacks and then visited Ground Zero at the site of the World Trade Center, trying to comfort victims and encourage relief workers.

The cardinal’s time in New York also witnessed celebrations of the archdiocese’s bicentennial in 2008, a year which also included the pastoral visit of Benedict XVI to the city.

St. John Paul II named him a cardinal in 2001, giving him as his titular church the Basilica of Sts. John and Paul on the Caelian Hill.

As archbishop, Cardinal Egan worked to ensure financial reform in one of the largest archdioceses of the United States.

He also established the Catholic Channel on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio.

Cardinal Egan was born April 2, 1932, in Oak Park, Ill. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Ill. He finished his seminary studies at the Pontifical North American College in Vatican City and was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1957. He earned a licentiate in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University and then served in the Chicago Archdiocese before returning to Rome to serve as assistant vice rector and an instructor at the Pontifical North American College.

After earning a doctoral degree in canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University, he served as a secretary to Cardinal John Cody of Chicago and later served as chancellor of the Chicago Archdiocese. He served on several ecumenical boards and other organizations that addressed social concerns, including racial issues.

From 1971-1985, he served as a judge on the tribunal of the Roman Rota. During this time, he also worked for the Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship and the Congregation for the Clergy. He was a professor at several Catholic universities in Rome and was among the six canon-law experts who reviewed the 1983 Code of Canon Law before its promulgation.

Cardinal Egan was consecrated a bishop in 1985 and appointed an auxiliary bishop of New York. He served there until 1988, when he was made bishop of Bridgeport, Conn.

His time in Connecticut included work in organizing the Catholic school system and the diocesan health-care system, as well as service in the U.S. bishops’ conference.

Cardinal Egan remained in the Diocese of Bridgeport until his 2000 transfer to the Archdiocese of New York.

He served on the boards of many universities, charities and hospitals. He had leadership roles in many Catholic organizations, including the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, the Knights of Malta, the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, the Society of Catholic Social Scientists and the Black and Indian Mission Office.

Cardinal Dolan expressed his sympathies to Cardinal Egan’s family and to his “spiritual family” in the Archdiocese of New York.

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito says of discerning one’s college choice, ‘There has to be something that tugs at you and makes you want to investigate it further. And then the personal encounter comes in the form of a visit or a chat with a student or alumnus who communicates with the same enthusiasm or energy about the place. And then that love of a place can be a seed which germinates in your own heart through prayer.’

Choose a College With a Discerning Mind and Heart

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito, assistant professor of theology at the University of Dallas (UD) and subprior (and former vocations director) of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Dallas, drew from his experience as both a student and now monastic religious to help those discerning understand the parallels between religious and college discernment.