Cardiff: 53 years of service recalled at Archbishop Ward's funeral Mass

 The Funeral Mass for the Most Reverend John Aloysius Ward OFMCap, Archbishop Emeritus of Cardiff, was held in the Metropolitan Cathedral Church of St David in Cardiff, yesterday, writes Peter Jennings. Archbishop Ward was relieved of the pastoral care of the Archdiocese of Cardiff during November 2000 following a deep vein thrombosis. After a meeting with Pope John Paul II, in Rome, during October 2001, his resignation, due to ill health, was accepted. He died suddenly on 27 March, aged 78. Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff was the principal celebrant at the Funeral Mass in the packed Cathedral. Cardinal Cormac Murphy- O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, and the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Sainz Munoz, were among more than 20 bishops who concelebrated the Mass, together with priests from the three Welsh dioceses and from further afield. In his homily, Archbishop Vincent Nichols said: "Death came suddenly to Archbishop Ward. But it was not unprovided. He had the attention of the doctors and the company not only of Fr Gareth Jones, who administered the last Rites of the Church, but also of his loving sister, Margaret. "Today we also think of the Franciscan family which John Aloysius served so faithfully, as a member of the Menevia travelling mission, as parish priest and guardian in Peckham, as a member of the provincial council and vocations director, as provincial minister and then, for 10 years in the Generalate in Rome. The Order has lost a great servant and our prayers are with them. "We think, too, of the Diocese of Menevia, of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and, of course, of this Archdiocese of Cardiff. In each place Archbishop Ward made his impact, bringing his forthright leadership to bear, and encouraging steadfast practice of the faith. "In my experience he was so often fun to be with. He was fond of saying that as a Catholic he knew both how to fast and to feast, and he was ashamed of neither. He took such joy in his robust promotion of the Welsh Church, and, of course, of Welsh rugby. "Archbishop Ward knew keenly what it was to bear the wounds of failure and sin. The litany of the wounds that came in the last years of the life of our Archbishop has been well rehearsed in the obituaries. As with all of us, to some degree they were self-inflicted. To some degree they were undoubtedly the consequence of the wrong-doing of others. The ratio of these degrees is not ours to estimate, nor ours to worry over now. "Today we pray for John Aloysius, asking mercy of God for his failings. And we pray for those whose wilful actions ended up bringing such distress upon him, that they too may put their trust in the Lord, in his justice and in his mercy." The Archbishop of Birmingham concluded: "We praise and thank the Lord for all his gifts and for the gift of the life of Archbishop Ward, with all that he achieved. We thank God for the joy he brought to so many, for the unfailing personal kindness he showed not only during his public ministry but also throughout the years of his retirement. His attention to the sick and to those in need never faltered. We thank God for all the priestly work of the 53 years of his faithful ministry."

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