Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- His favorite hymn was "Let there be peace on earth."
According to Archbishop Gregory Aymond, Archbishop Philip Hannan was at peace early Thursday morning when he passed away in his sleep.
Aymond talked about his final farewell.
"As I was leaving I gave him a blessing," said Aymond. "I didn't think he was coherent at all, to tell you the truth, but I gave him a blessing and I said why don't you give me your blessing. He heard me and understood it because he tried to raise his hand and he had trouble doing it, but he in his own way made that sign of the cross."
The 98-year-old Hannan spent a lifetime inviting people of all faiths and denominations to come together for the good of the community.
He helped heal tensions during the civil rights movement, created a housing program for the elderly and ministered to the poor and aids patients.
"When AIDS was first becoming a known kind of disease we said we need to do something there," said Hannan's longtime friend and colleague Sister Anthony Barczykowski. "It was kind of a controversial thing, but he would say they are people who need us."
"So many of the ministries that are the backbone of Catholic Charities today are the ones that we build on he started," said Gordon Wadge, president and CEO of Catholic Charities in New Orleans.
Aymond said that Hannan taught us not only how to live, but how to age with grace and die with dignity.
He told a touching story about Hannan's reaction to receiving absolution during a special Mass at his bedside Saturday night.
"We knew he was in and out of consciousness and so I did give him absolution, the remission of his sins and low and behold he perked up and said sounds good to me. That's just Archbishop Hannan."
Hannan's death comes 46 years to the day from when he was appointed Archbishop of New Orleans.
"I don't think it is a coincidence," said Aymond. "I'm not suggesting that Archbishop Hannan planned this, but I think it is certainly a sign of God's fidelity that he served in this archdiocese for exactly 46 years."