Edward Cardinal Egan presided over his final Easter Sunday Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral as the New York Archdiocese prepares for the installment of its new leader later this week.
There had been concerns Egan would miss the Mass after he was hospitalized last weekend. But after being released on Tuesday, Egan said he couldn't bear the thought of missing his final Holy Week at St. Patrick's.
"I've fallen in love with New York and I'm very, very grateful and I only wish I had the eloquence to express that gratitude as it should be expressed," said Egan.
Egan says the message of Easter is strength and peace. He says he has never known a time where the weight of problems in the city, nation and world has been so heavy. He also recalled meeting many people this year who have lost their jobs, homes or pensions and urges them not to lose hope.
"The answer my dear friends is the Easter answer. This is not all that there is to life. We are here for a passing moment of eternity and we are destined to live forever in the presence and the embrace of a loving creator and savior. And this is what Easter is all about," said Egan.
Although he often was seen as a private man, those who heard his sermon felt he let down his guard, and spoke from the heart.
"It was a wonderful, beautiful homily," said one parishioner. "He was very warm."
"It was wonderful," agreed another. "I'm sorry New York didn't know him that well all the time."
Meanwhile, Cardinal Egan's successor is scheduled to arrive in the city sometime Sunday night.
Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan was selected by the Vatican to replace Egan.
Dolan will be installed as the new head of the Archdiocese on Wednesday, and Egan is expected to take part in the ceremony.
As for his future, Egan said he plans to be a "very good paris priest," focusing on the Parish of St. Stephens on East 33rd Street.
"I plan to be around New York haunting you all the while," joke Egan.
NY1 will have complete coverage of Dolan's installation beginning Monday.
On Tuesday, NY1 will carry the Solemn Vespers prayer service LIVE beginning at 6:30 p.m., during which Archbishop Dolan will be received for the first time at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
NY1 will also have live coverage of the installation ceremony Wednesday starting at 1 p.m.