More From the 'Burgh
As the sub-hed on Ann Rodgers' story reads: "The long walk ends." It seems the only genuine Pittsburgh trapping missing was the Terrible Towel.
At communion, he gave the host first to members of his family. They included his brother, Wayne, of Peters; his aunt, Mary Ellen Sortino, his mother's sister; and many younger Sortinos from the area.
Each person who received communion from him -- or remained in a pew -- had personal memories of his ministry.
Starlee Harden attended with a group from St. Charles Lwanga, a predominantly black parish formed from a 1992 merger of six East End churches.
"He's a good example of what we should be as Christians. He brought the flock together -- not only Catholics but other Christians and Jews and Muslims -- as one people who love each other as God wants," she said.
Helen Allen, also from St. Charles Lwanga, said Bishop Wuerl made it a priority to address racism.
"He went to all the churches, preaching racial equality of all the people," she said.
As his chancellor for the past three years, Arlene McGannon worked closely with him. His spiritual and administrative gifts are "immeasurable," she said.
"He understood his responsibilities. He always has the good of the church at heart, even though that required a lot of difficult decisions," she said.
The mayor, whose son Bishop Wuerl ordained a priest in 2001, called him a leader for the whole community.
"He's a role model for all of us, with his hard work and dedication. The smallest neighborhood among his 214 churches is as important to him as the biggest," he said.
Many in attendance were not Catholic.
"The Muslim community of Pittsburgh is grateful especially for his outreach after Sept. 11," said Farooq Hussaini, who represented the Islamic Center of Greater Pittsburgh.
"When we were being persecuted and didn't know where to turn, he came to a press conference in the Islamic Center on the 13th of September 2001. That made us feel he cares," Mr. Hussaini said.
PHOTO: Robin Rombach/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette