Liam on Eunice Kennedy Shriver

I thought I’d take the occasion to note an almost-absence in Catholic blogdom: the near silence about the passing of one of the most extraordinary American Catholics of our time, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

Vox Nova offers by far the most complete appreciation so far.

That said, I am frankly amazed at this near silence. Maybe I was hoping for too much. Are Eunice’s and Sargent’s identification with the Democratic party establishment so salient as to blind people to their authentic Catholic advocacy in the best of the seamless garment tradition? Of course, I guess I should not be surprised when too many people spit out “seamless garment” as a facile epithet meaning “cop-out” and they forget people for whom it was never a cop-out.

The lives of two Kennedy sisters who never held office – Rosemary and Eunice – should demonstrate yet again that one need not hold civil or ecclesiastical office to do the most for the least of God’s children. In Rosemary’s case, it was not voluntary as such, but I think the two of them together represent a powerful reminder of the traditional Catholic appreciation of the complementarity of the operations of grace through human lives, not merely through our actions but through our just being who we are.

Would that any of us could meet our Creator with the lives they presented back to Him at the end of their earthly pilgrimages.

Pax ex bonum



About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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13 Responses to Liam on Eunice Kennedy Shriver

  1. Jim McK says:

    Do you think anyone will push for the church to recognize her as a saint?

  2. Liam says:


    Thanks for posting his.


    Well, as you may have seen, I concluded my remarks over at Vox Nova with Santo Subito! The beginning of a cause – regardless of whether it ends up being found meritorious by the Church – is a cult that seeks to offer prayers through the intercession of the soul in question.

  3. Liam says:

    There’s a *wonderful* tribute site that was set up almost immediately after Mrs Shriver’s death. You can see clips from the wake (Bobby Kennedy Jr’s remembrance is rich if rambling, worth a patient listening) and the funeral.

    There are also letters. The one from Ophrah Winfrey, to my pleasant surprise, captured a bit of the spiritual lightning in this special soul:

  4. Anne says:

    What did you think of the televised funeral liturgy?

  5. Liam says:

    I haven’t watched the wake or funeral as such, just clips. It was acoustically difficult to follow, which I found frustrating, and when I looked up the space (St Francis Xavier in Hyannis), it’s a space that has been expanded several times over the past century from a small country church to a large church with fairly deep transept wings to seat 1200 (for summer crowds) and a fairly low ceiling, which makes for the place feeling like there’s three congregations instead of one.

  6. Anne says:

    I have been in that church but not for quite a long time. My late uncle lived nearby. I know about the “three congregations”. Yes, the design is to accommodate the summer crowds.
    I don’t know the present pastor. Do you think he caved to the wishes of the Kennedys? There were a few irregularities in the liturgy that to my mind Father Richard Fragomeni, the priest presider, would not have agreed to. i could be wrong.

  7. Liam says:

    Given that funerals are the ritual Masses most prone to pragmatic/pastoral concessions on liturgical matters, I am least surprised at irregularities at funerals. That a prominent parish family with such international prominence, the size of the family and loved ones, and the obvious desire to include people involved in her apostolate, was the occasion for irregularities is even less surprising, though I am pleasantly surprised when these things are finessed so as not to be noticeable.

  8. Anne says:

    Liam,I may be mistaken but did you not mention at one time that you have a brother with special needs? Perhaps I’m thinking of someone else.
    We all can appreciate Mrs Shriver’s accomplishments but I think that for families who needed hope and got it, her legacy will live on.

  9. Liam says:

    The younger of my two older sisters was born with developmental disabilities that were not diagnosable in the 1950s. She was not diagnosed with severe ADHD until she was in her 40s, but there were many things going on when she was a child. My parents joined with 3 other couples on Long Island to push for mainstreaming their children into our excellent public school systems, and it was quite a battle but they won. A couple of the other couples got involved in the new founded cystic fibrosis foundation.

    Mainstreaming my sister turned out to be insufficient, and in 4th grade she was moved to a private school, the Astor Home for Children in Rhinebeck NY (one of Mrs Astor’s earliest philanthropies) for a few years before she rejoined the public school system.

    My parents were very much of the generation of largely Catholic (and Jewish, I might add) parents who were pioneers in championing the rights of special needs children.

    My family got to relive this a generation later when that same sister of mine had a son who was very special needs and they lived with my family during his early years, which were quite traumatic; he has been in and out of institutions, group homes, hospitals and jail for 25 of his 30 years.

  10. Rosemary says:

    Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, on his blog this week has an excellent post on Eunice Kennedy Shriver

  11. TJuan Davis says:

    I love this woman she was strong and she meant what she said. This Angel have left her foot prints in are hearts. And she was the one to make America Notice and believe again I love you Eunice Kennedy Shriver

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