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 CNS Story:

RUSSERT-FUNERAL Jun-18-2008 (600 words) xxxn

Obama, McCain among mourners at Washington funeral Mass for Russert

By Chaz Muth
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The presumptive Democratic and Republican presidential nominees were among the scores of mourners at the June 18 private funeral Mass for NBC News Washington bureau chief and "Meet the Press" moderator Tim Russert, who died June 13 at the age of 58.

In his homily, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, said the presence of both Democratic Sen. Barack Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain was not only a special tribute to Russert, but to the U.S., speaking to the country's "values of respect and to those fundamental virtues which ultimately are more important even than politics and the shifting sands of public life."

Before his unexpected death, Russert expressed his excitement about the 2008 presidential race and was eager to see the Obama-McCain race through to November.

The funeral Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in the Georgetown section of Washington -- Russert's parish -- was a private service, but a speaker system had been set up outside the church for listeners to hear the proceedings.

"It is not easy to preach a homily for Tim and to communicate the feelings we all share concerning this remarkable man, for he was surely one of the great communicators in American society," the cardinal told family and friends who gathered for the Mass, concelebrated by Holy Trinity pastor Jesuit Father James M. Shea and associate pastor Jesuit Father Leo A. Murray.

"His passion for truth, his dedication for integrity in the media, in public life and throughout the kaleidoscope that marks American society was unequalled," the cardinal said.

Though he lavished praise on Russert's work ethic, loyalty to his staff and colleagues, love for his family and enthusiasm for life, Cardinal McCarrick said it was the broadcaster's undying Catholic faith that most influenced his life.

"He truly knew the Good Shepherd and found strength in his protection and in his love," Cardinal McCarrick said. "The man of faith knows who his Redeemer is -- and so did Tim. And God always took care of him -- as we believe he took care of him last Friday when he reached out and called him home."

Russert collapsed at NBC's Washington studios June 13, suffering a heart attack.

Cardinal McCarrick told the congregation that though Russert was still young and energetic, he believes his longtime friend was ready to be called to God's kingdom, because in life he followed the lessons of the Gospel, "that we must always be ready," and "that we must always be generous."

"No matter how busy, no matter how harried, Tim never turned his back on a good cause," he said. "How many times have many of us asked him to lend his name, to give his time and to reach out in help to a worthy cause or a person in need. A list of his benefactions would be hard to compute, but it was always done with graciousness and generosity."

The tributes for Russert that have flooded the airwaves and print media since June 13 also speak volumes about the impact he had on his family, colleagues, viewers and listeners, Cardinal McCarrick said.

"It has been said in the valiant love and deep faith of his wife and son," he said. "All that remains is to say thank you to the good and gracious God who gave us Tim Russert for 58 years and to pray that the beloved anchor of 'Meet the Press' is now sitting at the large table of the Lord to begin a conversation which will last forever."


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