The Archdiocese of New Orleans and all of southeast Louisiana lost a very active leader with the death last week of Archbishop Philip Hannan. He will be buried today in a crypt below St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.
He was ordained in Rome in 1939 and served there until 1941 when he returned to the United States. World War II was raging at that time and he joined the army as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division. After the war, he returned to Washington, his home town, where he later became an auxiliary bishop.
In the capital, he became friends with President John F. Kennedy and wife Jaqueline and brother Robert. He participated and delivered eulogies at their funerals later.
Hannan was appointed archbishop of the New Orleans Archdiocese in 1965, a position he held for 24 years. He especially served the community after the 1976 Luling Ferry Disaster in which 77 died and many were injured. He set up a temporary morgue for victims in the Knights of Columbus home in Norco.
After his retirement, he continued to be physically active in the region, being remembered by many for his frequent jogs around City Park in New Orleans. He spent a great deal of time setting up a television station that specialized in religious programming and leading the way in developing other spiritual needs of the community.
Here in St. Charles Parish, he was active in setting up several programs that brought charitable services to the poor. He also worked long and hard as a private citizen to help the needy.
Hannan did not hesitate to voice his opinion on controversial issues. He was usually firm in his positions, which always followed his sincere beliefs, and took leadership roles in supporting them.
Archbishop Philip Hannan will be remembered as an outstanding leader in the spiritual and everyday life of the people in southeast Louisiana. He was a blessing for us all.