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Hickey Honored as Friend of Poor

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, who succeeded Hickey as archbishop of Washington, was the principal celebrant and homilist. He was one of several speakers to pay tribute to Hickey's work on behalf of the less fortunate.

"He was not an avid seeker for the public eye or a man who enjoyed walking in the corridors of power. He was a leader who never sought to involve his people in contention or controversy, but he made an impact among us such as few bishops have done," McCarrick said.

The casket of Cardinal James A. Hickey receives a final blessing with holy water by the celebrants at his funeral Mass. (Bill O'Leary -- The Washington Post)

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McCarrick also said that every time he has a "great new idea, I learned quickly and with great awe and wonder that Cardinal Hickey had already done that," prompting chuckles and laughter from the congregants.

Among Hickey's greatest achievements, McCarrick said, were the Center City Consortium, an initiative that provided extra resources to a group of inner-city Catholic elementary schools; the archdiocesan legal and health care networks, which provide pro bono care for the region's low-income residents; and the Birthing and Care program, which provides prenatal, delivery and postnatal medical care and other support to women in financial need.

Bishop William E. Lori, who was one of Hickey's top aides for more than 18 years, offered a more personal story.

About 14 years ago, while the two were driving to a funeral in Southern Maryland, Hickey began quizzing Lori, then his secretary, about that day's schedule.

"His questions were precise, numerous and preoccupying," Lori recalled. "My answers were fuzzy, sparse and preoccupying." Before he knew it, Lori was speeding past a police car. When the officer pulled him over, Cardinal Hickey "caught the patrolman's eye and said, 'Officer, book him!' " The police officer let Lori off.

In his remarks, the mayor said he was "heartbroken" when he heard the news of Hickey's death. In recalling Hickey's unflagging devotion to the poor, Williams said the cardinal used to telephone him and say, in no uncertain terms, "You are doing affordable housing." The only possible responses, Williams said, were: "Yes, your eminence. Yes, Cardinal Hickey. Or yes, sir."

Immediately after the Mass, a private service was held at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Northwest Washington, site of President John F. Kennedy's funeral Mass. Hickey was interred at the cathedral, in a crypt designed for archbishops. After a brief rite, his coffin was slid into the tomb, directly above the remains of O'Boyle, who headed the archdiocese from 1948 to 1973.

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