BANGOR – Not far from the main gate at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, the only Bangor native to serve as bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland was buried Tuesday afternoon.
With a private committal service led by his nephew, the Rev. Vincent Daily of Massachusetts, the Most Rev. Edward C. O’Leary was laid to rest next to his parents, Cornelius and Annabel O’Leary.
On Thursday, a memorial Mass for the bishop emeritus, who led the diocese from 1974 to 1989, and died April 2 at 81, was held at his home church of St. Mary’s in Bangor.
More than 100 people from area parishes attended the Mass, celebrated by the Very Rev. Frank Murray, pastor of St. Mary’s.
The Scripture readings from the Acts of the Apostles, Corinthians and Luke were the same verses used at O’Leary’s funeral Mass in Portland earlier in the week.
The readings, Murray pointed out, illustrated the fact that Roman Catholics “are an Easter people, throughout our lives.”
Catholics come to the Mass, he said, “to praise God, to thank God, and finally to ask God for his continued blessings.”
Remembering O’Leary reminded many in Bangor of their own roots, Murray said, calling the day a time to give thanks for the “special gift” that O’Leary was, a time to ask God “to welcome our friend and our bishop into his eternal embrace. He lived a life of prayer and of service.”
He concluded, “We say goodbye to a faithful servant, to a man of the church, and to a dear friend. May he rest in peace.”
Concelebrating the Mass with Murray were the Very Rev. Richard Harvey, the Rev. Rudolph Leveille, the Rev. Richard Rokos and the Rev. Paul Marquis.
Just down the street from St. Mary’s, a few of the priests buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery have large monuments. A massive cross down the path from O’Leary’s burial site details the Irish origins of Monsignor Edward McSweeney, pastor at St. John’s from 1874 to 1908.
But O’Leary’s marker will be much simpler – his name to be added to those of his parents and brother-in-law on the back of the family monument, a rectangular piece of granite.
On the front, only the small engraving of a chalice and Communion host – central to the Mass each priest celebrates daily – indicate the resting place of a priest.
Before the Tuesday burial, O’Leary’s funeral had been held in Portland, the culmination of three days of activities at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
The attendance of the cardinal and other dignitaries, more than 100 priests and many brothers and women religious, and members of each Catholic parish in Maine indicated O’Leary’s position in the diocese he served all his life.
But the week ended with a smaller event in Bangor, attended by many of those who grew up with O’Leary, or knew him as a priest and a bishop.