The Catholic University of America

Funeral for Monsignor Robert Paul Mohan
Eulogy by Very Rev. Very Reverend David M. O'Connell, C.M., University President
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Jan. 31, 2007

My dear friends,

There are, I am quite sure, thousands of stories and memories of Monsignor Mohan that fill our minds and hearts this morning as there are, no doubt, many others who should be standing in this pulpit ahead of me to share them. But, the awesome task falls to me, as president of the university to whom he gave his life, to give expression to both the sadness and the joy we feel today.

Preaching at the funeral of his dear friend Sulpician Father Walter Schmitz some years ago, Monsignor Mohan observed, "We are not here to sing sad songs … we meet in sadness but we are by no means desolate. We meet because of a death but we celebrate life. … We are children not of death but of life, of resurrection."

Monsignor Mohan believed that truth with his whole being. And those who were privileged to be with him in his last weeks and days and hours witnessed that deep faith as he grew closer to his final moments.

There was nothing sad about Bob Mohan. Quite the contrary. He loved life and lived it to the full. In the midst of an incredibly productive and scholarly academic career here at The Catholic University of America, Bob traveled extensively, soaking up culture, enjoying the theater, seeing the world and all its wonders and regaling us all with stories about people he met and funny things that happened to him on the way. Bob was an easy man to love. That perennial twinkle in his eyes, the way he would smile at you, his great laugh, gentle bits of advice packed with profound wisdom, the promise of prayers, the kindness and warmth that everyone felt just being in his presence. Even his one or two eccentricities --- how many priests do you know who would show up for their 60th anniversary of priesthood dressed in a white suit and white shoes? These were gifts he gave us that will last forever.

As an academic, he authored three books and over 40 articles in his beloved discipline of philosophy as well as countless lectures and homilies. In meeting alumni all over the world, I have been asked with great regularity, "how is Father Mohan? He was our best professor at Catholic." The amazing thing was, when I would report such names and conversations to him, he would remember the student and something about them. That says a lot more about him than simply "he had a good memory."

Bob was an incredibly well educated and refined man. He used to love to pepper his conversations with Latin or French. There was a French phrase I heard him use once to describe someone. He called him "a man 'bien dans sa peau," a man comfortable in his own skin. That was Bob Mohan, a 'man comfortable with himself,' aware of his strengths and shortcomings, destined to use both to give glory to God and to advance his Kingdom here on earth.

He meant so much to all of us. And I know he would be so pleased and proud today. I would be remiss if I did not thank Archbishop Wuerl for presiding and preaching so beautifully today; Cardinal McCarrick for his presence today and last night; Dr. Leo Nestor and his schola from the Music School; Msgr. Rossi and the Basilica staff; the priest concelebrants and all of you here today.

Many people followed Bob in his last days but I want to thank the priests of Curley Hall, especially Father Ray Studzinki, Father Regis Armstrong and Father Bob Schlageter who gave so much time and care to Monsignor Mohan.

Last Thursday, in conversation with Monsignor Rossi, Rector of the Basilica, Monsignor Mohan said something puzzling at the time and strange. He remarked, "I'll be leaving by the end of the month." The comment passed without question. Today, we gather for his funeral. It is January 31, the end of the month. You were right once again, Bob Mohan. Thank you for being our teacher, our colleague, our friend but most of all, our priest. To God, Monsignor Mohan, or as they say in French, "A dieu."