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Eulogy for Father Drinan


Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi delivered the eulogy for Father Drinan at his funeral Mass today. Following is the text released by her office:

“When St. Francis of Assisi was asked what a person had to do to lead a good life, his reply was: ‘Preach the Gospel. Sometimes, use words.’ Father Robert Drinan preached the Gospel sometimes from the pulpit, sometimes from the House floor, sometimes from his Georgetown University classroom. But he always preached the Gospel through his example.

“Father Drinan lived and legislated according to an expansive view of the Gospel, believing that it had something to teach us about the whole range of public policy – from war and peace, to poverty and justice, to how we treat our children and our parents. It was because of his faith that he was one of our greatest champions for human rights.

“When the Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky was freed after eight years in a Siberian labor camp, it was because of years of advocacy by many. Yet at a reception welcoming him to the United States and the Capitol, Sharansky, surrounded by supporters and admirers, looked to the back so he could find and thank the man who was his major champion – Father Drinan.

“That was Father Drinan – eager to help all in need, slow to accept credit.

“I am particularly honored that earlier this month, Father Drinan celebrated a Mass at my alma mater, Trinity College, before I was sworn in as Speaker. He said that Mass in honor of the children of Darfur and Katrina, praying there that ‘the needs of every child are the needs of Jesus Christ himself.’

“He challenged us by saying, ‘Imagine what the world would think of the United States if the health and welfare of children everywhere became the top objective of America’s foreign policy! It could happen – and it could happen soon – if enough people cared.’

“He continued, ‘Let us reexamine our convictions, our commitments, and our courage. Our convictions and our commitments are clear and certain to us. But do we have the courage to carry them out? God has great hopes for what this nation will do in the near future. We are here to ask for the courage to carry out God’s hopes and aspirations.’

“As he led us in prayer that day, Father Drinan said, ‘We learn things in prayer that we otherwise would never know.’ Today we pray for the courage of Father Drinan.

“That may have been Father Drinan’s last sermon from the pulpit. But afterwards, he sent me a letter asking that I put his words in the Congressional Record. And I commend his call for ‘peaceful revolution’ to all of you gathered here today.

“These words join the many courageous words he said on the House floor. They join his powerful words on that day last May when we awarded him the Congressional Distinguished Service Award.

“They also join the words he shared with his students, one of whom shared with me a treasured memory.

“Just before graduation, Father Drinan offered advice to a group of Georgetown Law students. He said, ‘As I look out at all of you with your new and expensive law school educations, I would urge you to go forth into society not as mere legal tradesman, but as moral architects. Design, create and build a better and more equitable society and use your skills to help those who are otherwise not being served.’

“Father Drinan: your statement has been entered in the Congressional Record, and your message has been heard.”

Full text of Father Drinan’s homily at Trinity on January 3

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Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
Phone: 202.884.9050   Email: