Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Update on the Health of Fr. Richard John Neuhaus

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things and undoubtedly one of America's greatest priests and theologians is in very ill health and may very well be dying. Here are some updates on his health that I have been able to find on the internet.

On Dec. 5th, Fr. Neuhaus himself wrote the following note at the end of his article "The Religion Business":
  • I cannot begin to respond to the deluge of assurances of prayer and concern about my health. Please be assured that I am grateful and count mightily on being remembered by you before the Throne of Grace. Or, as Catholics are wont to say, on your storming the gates of heaven. The nature of the cancer is beginning to come into clearer focus, and I hope to have more details in short order. Meanwhile, I will, please God, continue to be as engaged as possible in the work of First Things and other apostolates, even as I am compelled by grace to know more deeply our solidarity within the Body of Christ.

Since then, there have been further developments. From the First Things blog:
  • So many have asked after the health of our editor-in-chief, Richard John Neuhaus, that it seemed best to post this note on our website.

    Fr. Neuhaus is in the hospital here in New York. Over Thanksgiving, he was diagnosed with a serious cancer. The long-term prognosis for this particular cancer is not good, but it is not hopeless, either, and there is a possibility that it will respond to the recommended out-patient chemotherapy treatment.

    Unfortunately, over Christmas, he was taken dangerously ill with what seems to be a systemic infection that has left him very weak. Entering the hospital the day after Christmas, he was sedated to lower an elevated heart rate and treatment was begun for the infection. Over the last few days, he has shown some signs of improvement, and there is a reasonable expectation that he will recover from this present illness—sufficiently, we hope, that he will be able to begin the chemotherapy for the cancer.
    Fr. Neuhaus is not able at the moment to receive visitors or speak on the telephone or answer his mail, and he has requested that no flowers, candy, or other get-well presents be sent—just your prayers for his quick recovery.

From Kathryn Jean Lopez over at The Corner:
  • His friends and family are keeping vigil and he was administered last rites shortly after midnight. Fr. George Rutler, who gave him the Catholic Sacrament, says that “he is not expected to live long” and suggests “that it is appropriate that prayers be offered for a holy death.”

    Fr. Neuhaus has come close to this moment before and been back. If it’s his time: Go in peace. He's a man who has loved and served His Lord. When he leaves this world, his vast intellectual and spiritual body of work will have a long life here.

    Speaking of his archives: Fr. Neuhaus might agree with his brother priest on the appropriate prayer for him. Fr. Neuhaus might say, if he could right now, what he's already written:

    • We are born to die. Not that death is the purpose of our being born, but we are born toward death, and in each of our lives the work of dying is already underway. The work of dying well is, in largest part, the work of living well. Most of us are at ease in discussing what makes for a good life, but we typically become tongue-tied and nervous when the discussion turns to a good death. As children of a culture radically, even religiously, devoted to youth and health, many find it incomprehensible, indeed offensive, that the word "good" should in any way be associated with death. Death, it is thought, is an unmitigated evil, the very antithesis of all that is good.

      Death is to be warded off by exercise, by healthy habits, by medical advances. What cannot be halted can be delayed, and what cannot forever be delayed can be denied. But all our progress and all our protest notwithstanding, the mortality rate holds steady at 100 percent.

      Death is the most everyday of everyday things. It is not simply that thousands of people die every day, that thousands will die this day, although that too is true. Death is the warp and woof of existence in the ordinary, the quotidian, the way things are. It is the horizon against which we get up in the morning and go to bed at night, and the next morning we awake to find the horizon has drawn closer. From the twelfth-century Enchiridion Leonis comes the nighttime prayer of children of all ages: "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee Lord my soul to keep; if I should die before I wake, I pray thee Lord my soul to take." Every going to sleep is a little death, a rehearsal for the real thing.

From Tom McFeely over at Free Republic:
  • Father Richard John Neuhaus, editor in chief of First Things, is currently undergoing treatment for cancer in Manhattan’s Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

    Father Neuhaus disclosed his cancer at the end of this post on the First Things website in early December.

    The Daily Blog spoke today with pro-life advocate Chris Slattery, who visited Father Neuhaus yesterday afternoon at the hospital.

    “I got a call yesterday morning from his office, saying that he was put in on the weekend and please go visit him,” said Slattery, who is founder and president of Expectant Mother Care.

    Said Slattery, “He’s clearly had a serious recurrence of a new cancer. It’s going to require some immediate chemotherapy. He was in a lot of pain.”

    Slattery said that Father Neuhaus could speak only a few words during their visit because he was heavily sedated in order to help him regain strength prior to undergoing chemotherapy.

    “And for a man of that intellect, it’s just torture for him to be unable to really communicate,” said Slattery, who noted that Father Neuhaus was hospitalized several years earlier for the successful treatment of another cancer.

    “I think what he’s got is a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma which is completely unrelated to the previous cancer he had some ten years ago, which was a colon cancer,” Slattery said. “He wrote a book about his experiences — I visited him in the hospital then too — he was near death with that cancer. He wrote a book called, ‘As I Lay Dying,’ which describes his mental state as he was going through that treatment. It’s a very edifying book. It’s a good time for people to check back on that book.”

    Staff from First Things as well as his sister from Valparaiso, Indiana, are visiting with Father Neuhaus while he’s in hospital, said Slattery.

    Slattery is optimistic about Father Neuhaus’s prognosis.

    “My mother, my father and I have all been treated for cancer in that same hospital, Sloan-Kettering,” he said. “He’s got top care there. They’re going to give him the best treatment he can get in the world there.”

    Added Slattery, “I just don’t think it’s his time, the Church really needs him. He’s one of the most brilliant churchmen we have. He’s been named one of the 100 most influential Americans by U.S. News & World Report, and in my book he’s one of the top two or three priests in the country in his understanding of the Church and the faith, intellectually and theologically.”

    Said Slattery, “So we have to pray for him.”

UPDATE: This came this morning, from Joseph Bottum, Editor of First Things:
  • Richard John Neuhaus, 1936-2009

    Fr. Richard John Neuhaus slipped away today, January 8, shortly before 10 o’clock, at the age of seventy-two. He never recovered from the weakness that sent him to the hospital the day after Christmas, caused by a series of side effects from the cancer he was suffering. He lost consciousness Tuesday evening after a collapse in his heart rate, and the next day, in the company of friends, he died.

    My tears are not for him—for he knew, all his life, that his Redeemer lives, and he has now been gathered by the Lord in whom he trusted.

    I weep, rather for all the rest of us. As a priest, as a writer, as a public leader in so many struggles, and as a friend, no one can take his place. The fabric of life has been torn by his death, and it will not be repaired, for those of us who knew him, until that time when everything is mended and all our tears are wiped away. Funeral arrangements are still being planned; information about the funeral will be made public shortly. Please accept our thanks for all your prayers and good wishes.

    In Deepest Sorrow,
    Joseph Bottum
    First Things

UPDATE #2: Funeral arrangements for Fr. Richard John Neuhaus:
  • A Funeral Mass will be celebrated for Father Richard John Neuhaus at the Church of the Immaculate Conception—414 E. 14th Street, New York City—on Tuesday, January 13, 2009, at 10 a.m.

    Bishops and priests who wish to attend are asked please to inform Nathaniel Peters (by e-mail or phone 212-627-2288) by Sunday afternoon, January 11, at the latest.

    A Christian wake service in the form of a Vigil for the Deceased will be celebrated at the Church of the Immaculate Conception on Monday evening, January 12, at 7:30 p.m. Clergy who plan to attend are asked to sit with the congregation.

    In lieu of flowers, donations are requested for Fr. Neuhaus’ work, the Institute on Religion and Public Life, online at this page or by mail to:

    Institute on Religion and Public Life
    156 Fifth Avenue
    Suite 400
    New York, NY 10010

To learn more about Fr. Neuhaus' life and work, see his short bios at Wikipedia and Right Web, and a collection of his works at the Ratzinger Fan Club. First Things also has a collection of photos, audio, and video.

Our country is worse off without this man. Please don't forget to pray for him.

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus ... requiescat in pace.

Pax Christi,


SDG said...

First Things has announced that Fr. Neuhaus has died.

cmom said...

Father died this morning, I posted a note at phatmass. May the Lord welcome him home.

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phatcatholic said...

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