The rain, sleet, and snow came pelting down, but 400 people turned out Sunday for a Mass in honor of long-time Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino, who died Thursday after a battle with cancer.
Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley devoted the first three minutes of his homily to Menino’s deep devotion to his family, his faith, and the people of Boston.
“He was a man devoted to his family and to his extended family, the people of Boston,” he said.
“He was very close to the people, especially in times of trouble or tragedy, like the Marathon bombings,” the cardinal said as mourners listened in silence.
O’Malley recalled his encounters with Menino at groundbreakings for affordable housing, at homeless shelters, and in neighborhoods hit by violence.
“He cared deeply for people, especially the poor and disenfranchised,”O’Malley said. “Mayor Menino cared deeply about Boston and its very diverse population, and worked tirelessly to make this city the very best, safe place possible,” O’Malley said.
The cardinal spoke of Menino’s deep Catholic faith, saying he was “very faithful to Sunday Mass,” and had a special devotion to St. Joseph, a carpenter who, O’Malley noted, “is a patron saint of a happy death, having died in the arms of Jesus and Mary.”
After the Mass, O’Malley spoke briefly to reporters, recalling a visit with Menino to a homeless shelter on a Thanksgiving Day.
“Just to see the kindness and the real concern he had for people — I was very moved by that. It wasn’t a politician going through some kind of ritual,” he said. “He was truly concerned for them. He had that humanity that touched people.”
The Mass was celebrated in the South End as Menino’s body lay in state across the city at historic Faneuil Hall. Thousands of people, including a who’s who of the state’s top elected officials, gravitated there to say a final goodbye to the man who led the city for five terms.
Menino’s hearse will travel through the city Monday, past 10 locations dear to the former mayor’s heart, to a funeral Mass at Most Precious Blood Church in Hyde Park, his childhood parish.