The Catholic University of America

July 17, 2008

CUA President Delivers Homily at Funeral for Tony Snow

Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., university president, and Frank Persico, vice president for university relations, arrive at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. (Photo by Chase McAlpine)
Former White House press secretary and CUA honorary degree recipient Robert Anthony "Tony" Snow lived the conviction that the "true measure of a man lies in his efforts to please God," said Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., president of Catholic University, in his homily at the Mass of Christian Burial for Snow on July 17 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Even at the end of his life when he was dying from cancer, Snow's faith prompted love that "spilled over to touch and include many others," said Father O'Connell. (To read the full text of the homily, click here.)

In May 2007, Father O'Connell presented Snow with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at CUA's commencement, where Snow gave the address.

Beginning at 8 a.m., those who had been touched by Snow began lining up to go through security to enter the National Shrine and sit shoulder to shoulder, filling the pews of the expansive Upper Church. Dignitaries attending the funeral included President George W. Bush, First Lady Laura Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney and his wife, Lynne Cheney, as well as hundreds of other political leaders and journalists.

Presiding at the Mass was Most Rev. Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington. Father O'Connell served as celebrant and homilist. Monsignor Walter R. Rossi, rector of the National Shrine, concelebrated.

Marine One, President George W. Bush's helicopter, lands at CUA's Robert J. Talbot Baseball Field. (Photo by Tyler Fleming)
At the front of the sanctuary, surrounded by flowers, was a poster-sized photo of Snow with the quintessential grin for which he will be long remembered.

Those who shared remembrances described a man devoted to his family and friends and ever optimistic behind that smile.

"The measure of this man's life can be found in his character, in his optimism, in his joy and great sense of humor, in his courage, in his passion for what was good and true and right, in his love of God and of family and of neighbor and of country," Father O'Connell said.

"Tony Snow did not need a long life for us to measure," Father O'Connell continued. "It was, rather, we who needed his life to be longer."

In his tribute to Snow, President Bush referred to him as a man of "uncommon decency and compassion."

"Tony Snow the professional is a hard act to follow. Tony Snow the man is simply irreplaceable," the president said. "Tony Snow has left the city of Washington for the City of God."

Several media outlets set up on the CUA mall. (Photo by Chase McAlpine)
President Bush referenced the advice that Snow passed on to Catholic University's 2007 graduating class as its commencement speaker. One of those graduates, Joe Musmanno, attended the funeral to pay his respects to the man whose advice he says still rings true to him today.

" 'Live boldly and live life to the fullest,' " Musmanno said repeating part of Snow's commencement address. "Back at graduation, they were the best words that could have been said to my class. And hearing how he lived his life, it's been really inspiring."

(For the full text of Tony Snow's 2007 commencement address at Catholic University, click here.)