Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley incenses the casket of firefighter Paul Cahill. Cardinal O’Malley presided at the Sept. 6 funeral Mass for Cahill who, along with fellow firefighter Warren Payne, was killed fighting a restaurant fire Aug. 29. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy
WEST ROXBURY -- It was a fitting farewell to a fallen hero.
The flag-draped casket of Paul Cahill was borne on Boston Engine 30 as it made its way toward Holy Name Church on Sep 6. The memorial procession began in Canton, where Cahill was raised. On the way to the church, the procession stopped in front of Cahill’s West Roxbury fire station and the Tai-Ho Restaurant where Cahill, together with fellow firefighter Warren Payne, lost his life in the line of duty on Aug. 29 in a four-alarm fire.
Thousands of firefighters from around the country lined the route. As Ladder 25, covered in memorial flowers, and Engine 30 passed, mourners saluted or placed their hands over their hearts. Among those who came to pay their respects were Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry, Gov. Deval Patrick, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and other dignitaries and elected officials.
As the engine came to a stop in front of the church, eight Boston firefighters carefully lifted the casket off the engine and made their way slowly up the steps and down the main aisle of Holy Name Church.
Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, joined by Central Region Auxiliary Bishop Robert Hennessey, presided at the funeral Mass. The principal celebrant was Boston Fire Department chaplain Father Daniel Mahoney.
“May we pray for the peace, and the love, and the strength that binds us together in this difficult time,” prayed Father Mahoney.
“How much sorrow can Paul’s family suffer?” Father Mahoney asked in his homily.
“Unfortunately, pain is all too often a part of the life of firefighters and their families...but we always struggle through it.”
“There are very few professions, if any, whose job description calls for running into danger, not away from it,” Father Mahoney continued. “May St. Florian, the firefighter’s patron saint, welcome our latest shining knight and shining light -- Firefighter Paul Cahill -- into the halls of heaven.”
Cahill is survived by his wife Anne Cahill, and three children Brendan, Adam and Shauna.
“Today we share your grief,” Engine 30 Captain Stephen Keogh, one of the several speakers who offered their reflections during the funeral Mass, told the surviving family.
“Paul was a good man, a kind man, always smiling, telling funny stories. He took great pleasure in making people laugh. He would do anything for anybody. It was impossible not to like him,” Keogh said.
“Paul loved being a firefighter. Paul loved this job and it showed in every task he performed,” he added.
“Paul and Warren made the ultimate sacrifice, and I’m here to tell you that sacrifice was not in vain,” stated Edward Kelly, president of Firefighters Local 718.
Kelly spoke of Cahill’s love of fighting fires, and his tenacity in the face of danger.
“Paul, may your soul rest in peace, and may your spirit live forever,” said Kelly.
Following the conclusion of the Mass, Cahill’s casket was again placed on Engine 30 for the journey to Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain.