Archbishop Philip Hannan dies

Another giant is gone.  Details:

Philip Matthew Hannan, the archbishop who built an ever-widening network of services for the poor during nearly a quarter-century as the pastor of nearly a half-million New Orleans’ Catholics, died Thursday at 3 a.m. at Chateau de Notre Dame, the Archdiocese of New Orleans said. He was 98.

Archbishop Hannan died on the 46th anniversary of his appointment to New Orleans.

Archbishop Hannan “truly made New Orleans his home. This was his parish and his archdiocese, and it had no boundaries,’ Archbishop Gregory Aymond said in a statement.

At his death, Archbishop Hannan was the senior archbishop or bishop in the American hierarchy, and the third oldest, behind retired Archbishop Peter Gerety of Newark, 99, and retired Bishop Joseph McLaughlin of Buffalo,  98.

Archbishop Hannan enjoyed a long and robust public retirement well into his 90s. But though free of major chronic illness, he became more frail year by year. Enfeebled by a series of small strokes, he was hospitalized during a dangerous bout with pneumonia in December.

Read more. I’ve written about him previously, and his connection to my own life here and here.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him …


  1. He is among the number of the saints marchin’ in, with the biggest second line ever.

  2. I knew him; he was a relative by marriage. He was an incredible man and could easily converse on so many topics. On a trip to New Orleans when I was a college student, I went to his Mass at the cathedral. He remembered me from a family wedding and introduced me to everyone who was leaving after Mass. He will be missed by many here.

  3. He was a wonderful man, and he is remembered by so many in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, where he served as an auxiliary bishop for many years.

    He truly had a “well-lived” life: Army chaplain during WWII, pioneer in Catholic broadcasting, Archbishop of New Orleans. Even after Hurricane Katrina he remained active. When he heard that one of the priests remained missing, he quietly left the meeting, found the airborne commander and got him to take him up in a chopper and take him to the priest’s rectory, where the priest was found safe.

    He also put out a collection of his letters home from his years at the North American College in Rome during the first years of the Axis rise to power; I’m honored to have an autographed copy!

    An incredible life, indeed.

    God bless,

    Deacon Bill

  4. Deacon Bill

    What a coincidence!!!

    For the past two weeks I have been involved with a labor of love that I have not had the time to do for years, i.e., collate and edit the letters my uncle sent home from Rome when he studied at the Pontifical Major Seminary at the Lateran from 1938-1940, when all the American seminarians were sent home. (Fascinating reading, with coded words like “bread man” for Mussolini and descriptions of anti-American propaganda and air raids as well descriptions of the ceremonies surrounding the death of Pius XI, election and coronation of Pius XII.) I got the impression the Lateran was much stricter (no smoking) than the Gregorian – run by the “jebbies” (sic, from one of the letters) – where Archbishop Hannan studied) but had the advantage of prime involvement in the Papal ceremonies since the Lateran was a Pontifical Seminary.

    As you most probably know, until his death, Archbishop Hannan was one of two American bishops, who attended Vatican II, still alive. My uncle participated in Vatican II and I have an interesting story about the two of them at Vatican II, which probably would be a bit off topic for posting here. It is found in Xavier Rynnes’s book: “Letters from the Vatican” p.565-6.

  5. Correction #4:

    I was wrong in thinking that the Gregorian University is not a pontifical Seminary. However, the Lateran Seminary is located in Vatican City property.

  6. The face in the above picture says it all—he looks like a very caring and loving person who was an excellent priest. What a long life!

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