September 29th, 2011
03:03 PM ET
By the CNN Wire Staff
"At 98, he lived a full life dedicated to God and his church. We will miss him. We commend him to the Lord," the archdiocese said in a statement.
Hannan served the archdiocese of New Orleans from 1965 until 1988. He had become increasingly frail in recent months due to a series of strokes and other health problems, the archdiocese said.
He was called a "dynamo" in building affordable apartments for the poor and elderly. Even after retirement, Hannan was never far from the public spotlight.
Hannan, a World War II paratroops chaplain, befriended Kennedy in the late 1940s. He was asked by first lady Jacqueline Kennedy to deliver the eulogy at the November 25, 1963, funeral Mass at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington, according to the Clarion Herald, the archdiocese's newspaper.
"Today, New Orleans has lost one of its greatest leaders in our nearly 300-year history," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a statement. "A World War II veteran, he assumed the role of Archbishop during one of our city's most difficult periods, just on the heels of Hurricane Betsy. A builder in the truest form and a man dedicated to education, from his earliest days he led the rebuilding of badly damaged churches and schools and drove the creation of a strong Catholic school system throughout the Archdiocese."
One of eight children born to an Irish immigrant, Hannan was ordained auxiliary bishop of Washington in 1956. He was attending the final session of Vatican II when Pope Paul VI appointed him the 11th archbishop of New Orleans in 1965, three weeks after Hurricane Betsy ravaged the city.
He retired one year after Pope John Paul II visited New Orleans.
Hannan, who rode out Hurricane Katrina in 2005, published his memoirs, "The Archbishop Wore Combat Boots," in 2010.
Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond said Hannan was a great shepherd and was beloved.
"People knew him and recognized him as THE archbishop of New Orleans," Aymond said in a statement. "I think that was a testament to the love, admiration and affection that people have for him. It never bothered me in any way when I heard people talking about THE archbishop and meaning it was Archbishop Hannan."
Public visitation will be held Monday evening until 1 p.m. Wednesday at Notre Dame Seminary Chapel. After a funeral procession, visitation will continue Wednesday and October 6 at St. Louis Cathedral. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 2 p.m. October 6 at the cathedral, where the archbishop will be interred.
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