Joseph DeVaughn, a small, shy man dressed in a worn Sunday suit, stood today in the immense nave of Mary Our Queen Cathedral along with 2,500 other worshipers to celebrate the life and death of the man who had visited his soup kitchen miles away downtown: Cardinal Lawrence J. Shehan, retired Roman Catholic archbishop of Baltimore.
"Yes sir," said DeVaughn, 66, retired dishwasher at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen, his eyes soft and sad. "He used to come to our place just to see how we was doing. We fed people that was hungry . . . . He was very nice to everybody there."
Amid the choirs and incense of a two-hour-long burial mass, Shehan, 86, was remembered for his long years of service, especially as a peacemaker among clashing groups.
"He was a true pontifex -- bridge builder -- between one person and another, between different groups, between people and God," said Baltimore Auxiliary Bishop P. Francis Murphy, recalling Shehan's efforts in the 1960s to calm racial unrest, rid the church of racism and establish ecumenical ties with Jews and other non-Catholics.
Murphy, who served as Shehan's personal secretary for several years, remembered the prelate with humor and affection. He spoke to the mourners of Shehan's "quiet charm," his "inexhaustible energy" and "spritely gait," but also his humility and "courage to admit, both publicly and privately, when a mistake or error in judgment was made."
Looking out over the high-ranking dignitaries, priests, nuns, festooned Knights of Columbus honor guardsmen and other worshipers in the cathedral, Murphy recalled that Shehan once asked him for a "simple funeral without any fuss . . . . but don't exaggerate."
"Your Eminence," said Murphy, "I know that we have made a fuss over you . . . but as you requested, I believe that we have not exaggerated."
Before the mass, hundreds of worshipers filed silently by Shehan's open coffin in the cathedral, paying their last respects. His tiny frail hands held a family rosary. A galero, the traditional broad-brimmed cardinal's red hat, was draped over his feet.
Among the worshipers were much of the American Roman Catholic hierarchy, six cardinals and more than two dozen bishops, including Washington Archbishop James Hickey and papal nuncio Archbishop Pio Laghi. Many of Maryland's political and civic leaders were present also: Gov. Harry Hughes, Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D), Rep. Barbara A. Mikulski (D), state Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs and several state judges and Baltimore City Council members.
The cathedral was filled, with nearly half the pews taken by a vast assortment of priests, nuns, monks, nurses and other religious lay workers who had served Shehan during his years as archbishop of Baltimore from 1961 to 1974. Some wept silently.
Before the mass began, Joseph Wise, 67, who as a sacristan at the cathedral helped prepare the masses at which Shehan presided, recalled that "he was kind, he was stern, and he was a very passionate man . . . . I used to vest him for the masses. He called me 'Brother Joe' because we were both short and white-haired."
Later, DeVaughn recalled seeing Shehan taking early morning walks in downtown Baltimore when he lived in the rectory of the Basilica of the Assumption near the soup kitchen. "He was just by himself," DeVaughn said. "He'd be wearing an ordinary shirt and pants so people couldn't tell he was a bishop or nothing."