Bishop Walter Edyvean laid to rest

NATICK -- Dozens of priests and bishops joined family and friends at St. Patrick Church in Natick Feb. 8 to bid farewell to Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Walter Edyvean. Bishop Edyvean had lived at St. Patrick's for many years as West Regional bishop and in his retirement.

Cardinal Seán O'Malley was the principal celebrant at the funeral Mass, and he had been present when Bishop Edyvean died suddenly on Feb. 2 at the age of 80.

Bishop Edyvean was ordained a priest in 1964. His first and only parish assignment was St. Joseph Parish in Ipswich for about three years, during which he also taught theology and Church history at Emmanuel College as a visiting professor. He then completed his doctoral studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University. He was a faculty member and board member at St. John's Seminary for many years.

He and his former student, Bishop Richard Lennon, were named auxiliary bishops in 2001. Bishop Edyvean served as vicar general and moderator of the curia, then as bishop of the West Region from 2003 to 2014.

Father Stephen Linehan, who was once a student of Bishop Edyvean at St. John's Seminary, delivered the homily at the funeral.

He alluded to "Walter stories," anecdotes that he had heard from Bishop Edyvean's friends and relatives. He mentioned that as a child Bishop Edyvean sometimes pretended to celebrate Mass and made his cousin Mildred serve as altar girl, "Way ahead of his time."

"Pope St. Paul VI in the Second Vatican Council spoke of the priest as first a man, then a Christian, and then a priest. Walter believed that in his life, and he reflected it in the way he lived," Father Linehan said.

He quoted St. John Henry Newman, who said, "It is almost the definition of a gentleman to say that he is one who never inflicts pain."

"Walter was so much a Christian gentleman. A man of his age, some said even Victorian or perhaps Edwardian, but definitely a period piece. In the many conversations we had, I never heard him speak unkindly. He always said something either positively or not at all," Father Linehan said.

He spoke of how important the formation and training of priests was to Bishop Edyvean, who taught courses in Sacramental Theology at St. John's Seminary for 19 years.

"The presence of Christ in the sacraments, and especially in the holy Eucharist, was especially real to him. He taught it and he lived it," Father Linehan said.

Cardinal O'Malley offered some words before the final commendation. He spoke of the Spanish idiom "cada muerte de Obispo," "every death of a bishop," which is used in a similar way to the English expression "once in a blue moon," and refers to something that does not happen often.

"The death of a bishop gives us an opportunity to see the priests and the bishops gather in the oneness of the priesthood of Jesus Christ and to give thanks for the manifestation of that priesthood," Cardinal O'Malley said.

He agreed with Father Linehan's comments about Bishop Edyvean being a gentleman, adding, "his gentleness was not weakness. It was strength, the strength of a man whose life was grounded in his faith, a man who was always filled with serenity and confidence because he knew that his redeemer lives."