Cardinal Dolan, many others honor Bishop Clark at funeral - Catholic Courier
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York, censes Bishop Mathew H. Clark’s casket near the end of the Jan. 30 funeral Mass at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral. (Courier photo by Jeff Witherow)

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York, censes Bishop Mathew H. Clark’s casket near the end of the Jan. 30 funeral Mass at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral. (Courier photo by Jeff Witherow)

Cardinal Dolan, many others honor Bishop Clark at funeral

ROCHESTER —Recalling his days as a seminarian some 50 years ago, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York, noted the soothing encouragement he often received from his spiritual director, then-Father Matthew H. Clark.

“He’d say ‘Tim, Tim, slow down,’” Cardinal Dolan said about their frequent chats at the North American College in Rome. “‘Be at peace; be still. Let the power of God’s word sink into your heart. Listen to it, not to the worries and fears and tensions that you so readily admit. God’s word will not fail; it will never let you down.’”

The calm and calming demeanor of Bishop Emeritus Clark was among several special qualities Cardinal Dolan noted in his homily for the bishop’s Jan. 30, 2023, funeral Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral. The liturgy, for which Cardinal Dolan also was principal celebrant, took place eight days after Bishop Clark’s death at age 85.

Large crowd pays respects

Prior to the noon Mass, a steady stream of people entered the cathedral for 90 minutes to pay their respects to Bishop Clark, who had served as bishop of Rochester for more than 33 years prior to his 2012 retirement. He lay in an open casket in front of the altar, as he had done the previous day, when a four-hour visitation was followed by an evening prayer service.

By the time the Jan. 30 funeral Mass began, the cathedral was filled with laity and clergy, including numerous priests and deacons whom Bishop Clark had ordained during his tenure as bishop from 1979-2012.

Just before the start of Mass, Bishop Clark’s casket was circled by family members along with Mercy Sister Mary Ann Binsack, longtime administrator of his office. The group gently laid a pall, or cloth, over the casket after it was closed.

Bishop Matano offers welcome

Rochester Bishop Salvatore R. Matano began the Mass with a welcoming message for the congregation.

“To all of you I offer a prayerful welcome, the daughters and sons of God, whom Bishop Clark served for over 33 years with fidelity to his motto, ‘God’s Love Endures Forever,’” Bishop Matano said.

Bishop Matano noted that Pope Francis — by means of a letter from Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state — sent his condolences and blessings as well.

Bishop Matano and Cardinal Dolan were joined by a number of New York church dignitaries for the funeral. The others were Bishops John S. Bonnici, Edmund J. Whalen and Gerardo J. Collacicco, all auxiliary bishops of New York; Buffalo Bishop Michael W. Fisher; Buffalo Bishop Emeritus Richard J. Malone; Syracuse Bishop Douglas A. Lucia; Syracuse Bishop Emeritus Robert J. Cunningham; Ogdensburg Bishop Terry R. LaValley; and Abbey of the Genesee Abbot Gerard D’Souza.

‘A deep gratitude’

The 70-minute Mass was highlighted by readings, music and liturgical ministers, all preselected by Bishop Clark.

Soon after the liturgy ended, a procession made its way to Holy Sepulchre Cemetery for a private interment. Meanwhile, many who had journeyed to the cathedral lingered in its narthex, reflecting about the man who held the second-longest tenure as bishop in diocesan history. Combined with his 10 years as bishop emeritus, Bishop Clark spent 43 1/2 years in all serving the Rochester Diocese.

During his homily, Cardinal Dolan acknowledged the feelings of loss and sadness felt by so many at Bishop Clark’s passing. Yet he described these emotions as “sentiments, though, which trigger a gratitude — a deep gratitude — for this man, this priest, this bishop, this brother, uncle and friend that we so cherish.”

Tags: Bishop Matthew H. Clark, NY Catholics
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