Archbishop Hannan's grand nephew remembers his great uncle's life

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wwltv.com

Posted on October 4, 2011 at 9:30 AM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 4 at 10:21 AM

WWL-TV

NEW ORLEANS - Everyone is getting the chance to say their final good-byes to the man who served as archbishop here for almost 25 years, making a huge impact on the city.

Archbishop Philip Hannan is lying in repose Tuesday at Notre Dame Seminary.

A fellow Archbishop said with Hannan’s passing an era has ended in New Orleans.

Archbishop Phillip Hannan touched the lives of so many people, especially those who knew him best as family.

WWL-TV reporter Jill Hezeau was with his grand nephew J.T. Hannan to talk about the religious leader’s life and work.

Q: Jill asked J.T. Hannan how he saw Archbishop Hannan as a family member.

A: “He was just a great uncle.  He was a great guy.  He would often invite me over for dinner, go to Saints games, and just do a lot of fun family events.  I saw him in a little bit of a different light than the Archbishop of New Orleans. A brilliant intellect, a great man, really good at history, politics…just an amazing person,” J.T. Hannan said.

Q: What would people be most surprised to know about him?

A: “He was a much more astute sports fan than people gave him credit for.  He knew a lot about golf.  He loved Notre Dame.  He knew about the Saints football.  I think he was really, really excited for the Bensons and for the entire community when the Saints won the Superbowl.  He really knew his stuff when it came to sports.”

Q: Does any wartime story or any part of his military service stick out in your mind?

A: “Certainly.  I was a history major at Loyola.  He and I used to talk history a lot.  There was a little known battle right before the Battle of the Bulge called the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest.  The Archbishop was nearly killed by a German ADHL that came in right behind him.  It was either a dud or it didn’t go off properly but he said he was very lucky to survive to do the rest of his life.  He always felt he was blessed in terms of surviving that encounter.”

Q: Turnout is expected to be large today.  Are you ever surprised or amazed about how much of an impact he has had in this area and on its people?

A: “No I am never surprised.  When we would go out in public or just go out to eat before a Saints game or something like that, dozens of people would come up to say, ‘You baptized me,’  ‘You confirmed me,’ ‘You married me,’ ‘You were part of my life from the very beginning.’  So I knew that whenever he passed it would be in the hundreds of thousands in terms of crowds.  I think that at today’s viewing we’ll see big numbers and I think tomorrow’s procession will be pretty spectacular.”

Q: You were with him in his last days.  What was his message to you in your time with him?

A: “He started getting really sick in December.  We really talked a lot about service to others.  His theme as Archbishop was charity is the bond of perfection and he really tried to impress upon me that that was something that was the highest ideal to obtain in life.  I have tried to do that with my work with Bayou District and I know my entire family strives to help his fellow man.”

Visitation begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday and ends at 9 p.m. at the Notre Dame Seminary. It will be closed between 11:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. for a private mass with Seminarians Tuesday and Wednesday.

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