Tuesday, January 13th, 2009
Today America’s most famous and publicly influential Catholic convert was lovingly eulogized and reverently laid to rest. Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, the founder and prolific editor of First Things, died last Thursday from complications stemming from a recurrence of cancer.
Last night’s vigil and today’s funeral drew hundreds of friends and admirers to the quaint Church of the Immaculate Conception on East 14th Street. Appropriately enough, this formerly Lutheran church housed the priestly ministrations of the formerly Lutheran Neuhaus. And the assemblies of last night and this morning brought together for one final time the lifelong convivium Fr. Neuhaus maintained at his residence just a few blocks away. In his funeral homily, Fr. Raymond de Souza dwelt upon this little known aspect of Neuhaus’ priestly life. As a Christian and as a priest, Fr. Neuhaus was at his best not on television or in print, but rather when he was among an ever expanding collection of friends gathered around the dinner table, whose shared enjoyment of food always occasioned the shared rumination of ideas. Friendship, de Souza commented, which is to say the shared life of friends, was the context in which Neuhaus’ Christian soul was most itself. Today, in what brought this earthly convivium to greater perfection, those friends and admirers gathered around the altar of the Lord for the sacrum convivium, the Eucharistic sacrifice, offered for the repose of the soul of their friend and father.
First Things has collected many of the tributes written to Fr. Neuhaus over the past few days and posted them here on their site.
St. Vincent Ferrer was honored to host Fr. Neuhaus last June as one of the featured speakers of our public forum, “What Did Pope Benedict Say to America?” It seems appropriate to post the video of his remarks again. They begin around 24:30.
Requiescat in pace.