CLEVELAND-- Catholics are coming together from across the country and the Diocese of Cleveland to mourn the death of Bishop Richard Lennon.
The 72-year-old passed away Oct. 29 after a lengthy illness.
Hundreds gathered at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in downtown Cleveland Monday for a prayer service and calling hours led by current Bishop Nelson Perez.
Bishop Lennon was the 10th bishop to serve in Cleveland and resigned after 10 years due to failing health.
Although things became difficult toward the end, Bishop Perez said his faith and courage never wavered.
“He always received me with a smile,” Bishop Perez said. “Never heard him complain... And he knew very well.”
Bishop Lennon was referred to as a reluctant leader, who really “only wanted to be a priest,” but was then placed in difficult situations during the most stressful of times.
In 2002, Pope John Paull II appointed Bishop Lennon to lead the Archdiocese of Boston during the clergy sexual abuse scandal.
“He said 'I was never the same.' He was never the same after that,” sBishop Perez said.
Then in 2006, he was sent to lead the Diocese of Cleveland and faced a financial crisis that forced him to close dozens of churches.
However, during his time, he managed to turn things around and organized a massive capital campaign that brought in $170 million, which continues to support the diocese, schools, churches and evangelization efforts.
“He’d frequently say, 'We will not be less than who we are,” said Sister Therese Guerin Sullivan, who worked with Bishop Lennon as the former Chancellor of the Diocese of Cleveland.
Nearly everyone who knew Bishop Lennon remarked on his wry sense of humor.
They said, if you were lucky enough to know him, you were lucky enough.
“Wonderful sense of humor, and he saw through stuff, saw the big picture,” said Sister Guerin Sullivan, “A wonderful, wonderful man.”
The bishop’s body will continue to lie in state Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. prior to the funeral mass at 11 a.m.