Archbishop Hannan would have been 100 on May 20

J.T. Hannan and his wife Katherine had fond memories May 20 as they reflected on what would have been Archbishop Philip Matthew Hannan’s 100th birthday.

They named their first child Philip Michael Hannan – another P.M.H. – when he was born on Jan. 30. Family members in Washington, D.C., sent the new parents a baby outfit with an embroidered top that read: “Future Archbishop.”

Reaching the century mark would have been “a big goal” of Archbishop Hannan, who fell just shy of becoming a centenarian when he died Sept. 29, 2011, at age 98 following an extended illness.

A date with meaning

Archbishop Hannan died 46 years to the day that he was appointed the 11th archbishop of New Orleans. Sept. 29 also is the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of paratroopers. Archbishop Hannan served as a paratroop chaplain with the 82nd Airborne during WWII.

“He would have celebrated Mass in his house in celebration of reaching 100, and he probably would have sat down to eat lunch made by Drago’s and then told stories about World War II,” J.T. Hannan said. “He would have been all over this political stuff.”

J.T. and his wife have a portrait of Archbishop Hannan in their Lakeview home, and “we think about him every day. Now, with young Philip on the scene, he’s a constant reminder of what a great guy the archbishop was and how generous and kind he was to me and my whole family.”

Procession stands out

In reflecting on Archbishop Hannan, J.T. said he still has incredible memories of the horse-drawn funeral procession from Notre Dame Seminary to St. Louis Cathedral, which drew thick crowds all along the 5-mile route.

“What struck me were the massive crowds, from the seminary to Xavier University to Jesuit High School. And then, turning the corner and going down Canal Street, we got into some areas of poverty, and there were a lot of people there, too.

“He wasn’t loved just by the well-to-do. People from all races, creeds and backgrounds came out to say farewell. That’s still at the very top of my mind.”

Archbishop Hannan’s brother Tom was J.T. Hannan’s grandfather.

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