The people of New Orleans bade farewell to New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson on March 23 at St. Louis Cathedral.
A ‘New Orleans Saint’
New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson, who died March 15, was described by Archbishop Gregory Aymond at the March 23 Funeral Mass at St. Louis Cathedral as a man “rich in faith and rich in love. His generosity to others, the needy and the mission of the church was extraordinary. He kept giving of himself and of what he had. … Tom was a New Orleans Saint on earth. We come together as a community of faith to commend him to the Lord and to ask the Lord to make him a saint in heaven so that he may sing with the others, ‘The Saints go marching in.’”
Honorary pallbearers included Pelicans All-Star forward Anthony Davis, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry, Saints coach Sean Payton and long-time Saints employee Jay Romig.
Gayle Benson, Tom Benson’s widow, places a crucifix on her husband’s casket at the beginning of the Funeral Mass. The Bensons met in St. Louis Cathedral.
Archbishop Aymond embraces Gayle Benson at the sign of peace. “Tom often asked you, Gayle, ‘Do you know how much I love you?’ and then he would answer his own question, ‘You will never know how much I love you.’”
After the Funeral Mass, Tom Benson’s casket was placed in a horse-drawn carriage, which processed in a second line down Chartres Street to the Old Ursuline Convent. Archbishop Aymond reminded the congregation: “(Tom) takes with him only two things after a journey of 90 years – his hunger for God, that he may see God face to face – and a heart that is filled with love, those whom he loved and those who loved him.”
Gayle Benson acknowledges the crowds lining Jackson Square and the Presbytere as she and Archbishop Gregory Aymond follow the hearse down Chartres Street. At far left is Saints president Dennis Lauscha.