At farewell Mass, Chaput says an emotional goodbye

Mark Abrams
February 17, 2020 - 6:53 am
Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul

Shara Dae Howard/KYW Newsradio

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UPDATED: 8:40 a.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It's the end of an era for Philadelphia Catholics, and the historic beginning of another. Outgoing Archbishop Charles Chaput gave his final evening mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul on Sunday. 

For Chaput, the Sunday evening Mass at the cathedral had been his weekly ritual. He called it the highlight of his week.

The archbishop stood before the congregation for one last time to deliver a homily focusing on the Sunday scriptures and a reminder to live – not just listen to – the Ten Commandments. As he wrapped up his instruction, Chaput paused to reflect on the impending end of his service.

"You know, this is my last Sunday night Mass here at the cathedral, because on Tuesday of this week I am being replaced by Archbishop Perez, who's a very good man and will serve you very well as your archbishop. But I'm very grateful to those who have supported me at this Mass for the last eight-and-a-half years," he said.

Among those attending the Mass, Christopher Trueax said Chaput made an indelible mark on the life of the Catholic Church in Philadelphia.

"It was very emotional," Trueax said. "He brought so many good things to Philadelphia over the past eight years."

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Sofia Trueax agreed, saying it was important to make it to Chaput's last mass.

"The archbishop has truly been a pilar of the community here, and we're going to miss him," she said.

Chaput arrived in Philadelphia in 2011. At a Mass on Tuesday, Nelson Perez, formerly the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio, will succeed him. Pope Francis made the appointment in January. 

Perez, who studied for the priesthood in Philadelphia and served in parishes and ministry leadership for more than 20 years, will be the first Hispanic archbishop in the city's history.

James Rowan said he attends evening mass every week and says Chaput has done great work in Philadelphia. He said he has no doubt that Perez will continue that work.

"I wish him all the best in his new phase of life, and we hope Nelson Perez is a good successor, which we think he will be," Rowan said.

Julie Matskin said Chaput gave Perez an inspired introduction on Sunday, and she is looking forward to new energy at the church.

"Everyone was feeling united," Matskin said. "He gave an intro to the new bishop, and everyone is going to welcome him."

The Rev. Dennis Gill, rector and pastor at the Cathedral Basilica, says the church is being left in good hands. Though it's hard to say goodbye, Gill said, he'll simply send him off with his best wishes flor a restful and peaceful retirement.

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KYW Newsradio's Shara Dae Howard contributed to this report.