Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS - Nearly two years after his death, the legend and legacy of Archbishop Philip Hannan still looms large in the city he served for more than 45 years. Beginning next month, a special exhibit at the Old Ursuline Convent will highlight some of that remarkable history.
The exhibit, The Archbishop Wore Combat Boots: the Life & Ministry of Archbishop Philip Hannan, will go on display for seven months, featuring many of the legendary Catholic church leader’s personal belongings, photographs and writings, the Archdiocese of New Orleans announced.
The Catholic Cultural Heritage Center, inside the Old Ursuline Convent and museum on Chartres Street in the French Quarter, will host the exhibit from Oct. 5 through Memorial Day, May 26, 2014.
The exhibit borrows its name from the retired archbishop's 2010 memoir, written with Peter Finney Jr. and Nancy Collins. Hannan died Sept. 29, 2011 at the age of 98.
The new exhibit will feature an electronic interactive experience for visitors, as well as traditional museum displays, organizers said.
They will chronicle his early life, growing up in Washington, D.C.; his legendary World War II service; his relationship with President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy, including his delivering the president’s eulogy; and his career in New Orleans, which spanned 24 years as archbishop, and the memorable visit of Pope John Paul II to the city in 1987.
Several iPads will feature a selection of Archbishop Hannan’s personal letters and his military chaplain guide, complete with handwritten notes for visitors to “flip” through. Other photographs and murals will chronicle Hannan’s military service as a chaplain for the 82nd Airborne Division in Europe during World War II. His combat boots and uniform, along with the complete military “Mass kit” Hannan used to celebrate Mass in the field for soldiers will be on display.
Several large television monitors will feature archival video of the archbishop, including his delivering the homily at President John F. Kennedy’s funeral 50 years ago this November. Also on display with the video will be the archbishop’s original typed document with his handwritten notes and comments noting changes he would make in its delivery. Hannan was bishop in Washington, D.C. prior to coming to New Orleans and became a confidant of the Kennedys during their years in Washington and at The White House.
A major section of the exhibit will also revisit Pope John Paul II’s historic Sept. 1987 trip to New Orleans, a visit that Hannan called the highlight of his time here.
Priestly vestments from Archbishop Hannan’s tenure in New Orleans, as well as photos and memorabilia will chronicle his service to the city, which began 48 years ago this month. Hannan arrived in the city in 1965 shortly after Hurricane Betsy devastated parts of the area. He served as archbishop until 1989, though his service to the city and local Catholics extended well past his retirement. He is remembered for establishing a network of social service programs for the poor, disadvantaged, elderly and disabled.
“Archbishop Hannan was an example of a priest who truly lived his vocation with a love for all and in service to those most in need,” said New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond in a statement. “I am very pleased that we are able to honor his memory and his extraordinary contributions to the City of New Orleans with this special exhibition about his life.”
General admission to the museum exhibit, which will be open to the public Oct. 5 through May 26, will be $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and $5 for students.