When the editor of Catholic New York first came out into the newsroom and announced “Cardinal Egan died this afternoon,” his own voice full of shock, I couldn’t help but cry. It wasn’t that I knew the cardinal well, or at all, really.
Sure, I knew him by hearing him speak at numerous assignments over four years, and even rode in the elevator with him on a few occasions, but that’s about it.
So the tears that came were quite a surprise. When they came again on Monday at the end of a long day working on a special issue in his honor, I was again, surprised. By Tuesday, when I caught a snippet of the Funeral Mass on the news, I knew the tears would come…and they did.
So why all the crying?
I tried to spend some time thinking about that and I think one of the reasons is because as I grew in my faith and obtained my job at Catholic New York, Cardinal Egan was in a sense, there to teach me. I learned about St. Joseph and Mary at his vocations Masses at the seminary; I learned about the importance of all life at his confirmation Masses for those with disabilities; and he taught me about the history of the faith at countless other Masses along the way.
He didn’t know me, but I knew him. And through him, I came to know Jesus better.