Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- While hundreds of people packed the inside of Saint Louis Cathedral, several hundred more gathered outside to watch the funeral on a large projection screen.
His presence spanned the decades and generations in New Orleans, a legacy of Archbishop Philip Hannan evident in the crowds who gathered in Jackson Square to witness his funeral Mass.
“He was such a loving, sweet man and he took care of all us in the city,” said Lucille Carr McCormick.
Many here honored Hannan for his leadership in the Catholic community and in the community at large, pointing to his efforts to heal racial strife and encourage diversity to the city.
“He opened our pools to our children, the children of color,” McCormick said. “And my sons, oh God, they were so happy.”
“Hurricane Betsy,” said Lawrence Vanderhorst, “how he came and helped get things done and being there for the people in the 9th Ward.”
Members of the Vietnamese community say they feel a special connection to him since Hannan welcomed many to New Orleans after the fall of Saigon.
“He’s like our Grandpa in faith and we come here to pray for him, but also to pray with him,” said Fr. Thang Tran of St. Luke Catholic Church.
Catholic school students say they also felt an affinity for Hannan, even though most were born well after his time as archbishop.
“I’m thinking of people and how much they believe in God and how much he meant to everybody, in which everybody loved him,” said Destrehan resident Grace Galey.
“It’s a celebration of our Catholic faith and it’s important the children be a part of that,” said Mary Schmidt, principal of St. Charles Borromeo.
And a number of those in the overflow crowd were children. The Archdiocese set up 300 chairs for the crowd outside, and still many remained standing during the two-hour Mass.