Blog replay: Gordie Howe funeral

Al Willman
The Detroit News
The casket lies in front of the church before the service begins for Red Wings legend Gordie Howe.

The funeral mass for Red Wings legend Gordie Howe, who died last Friday at the age of 88 has concluded. The mass, held at the Cathedral for the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit, was officiated by the cathedral's rector, the Rev. J.J. Mech. The 850-seat cathedral was filled for the nearly two-hour mass.

Before the mass began, Howe's son, Dr. Murray Howe gave a 27-minute eulogy of his father.

For continued coverage from The News' Ted Kulfan and Holly Fournier, follow along with their story here.

Communion underway

The Liturgy of the Eucharist, which is currently underway, culminates with Consecration and Holy Communion. The physical representation of the body and blood (bread and wine) is blessed by the priest and given to those Catholics who have received their First Communion. This ritual happens near the end of mass.

Mass changes gears

After the homily by the Rev. J.J. Mech, rector of the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the mass changed gears. The first half of the mass, the Liturgy of the Word, in which the readings and prayers of the faithful are recited, transitioned to the Liturgy of the Eucharist. At that time, more prayers are recited in preparation for Holy Communion. In Catholic teaching, that is the physical manifestation of the body and blood of Jesus.

The Rev. Mech's homily

The Rev. J.J. Mech, rector of the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament began his homily with a question: "When you think about what Murray said to us...when you think about who (Gordie) is: What was his purpose?"

He then read off Gordie Howe's many names, such as Mr. Hockey. Fr. Mech then listed Howe's career statistics and many accomplishments.

He wrapped the homily with this: "I just hope he (Gordie) doesn't elbow too many angels.

Homily highlights

- The Rev. Mech, quoting the Howe family: "While he was a great hockey player, he was an even better people person."

- The Rev. Mech, quoting a Howe grandchild: "Serve! He (Gordie) loved to serve!"

- The Rev. Mech on Gordie signing autographs: "It gives me more time with the people."

- According to the Howe family: "He was best with kids." and "He changed people's lives."

- The Rev. Mech, describing everyone at or watching the funeral: "We're family because we have been affected."

- The Rev. Mech: "Let's make Mr. Hockey proud. Let's make our Lord even prouder."

Funeral begins

Following the eulogy by Gordie Howe's son, Dr. Murray Howe, the funeral mass began at The Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit. After the procession, the cathedral's rector, the Rev. J.J. Mech welcomed those in attendance -- family and friends, dignitaries and fans -- and broke down the early part of the mass, explaining it to those who may not regularly attend.

Gordie's son Murray speaks

The first to speak at the funeral of hockey legend Gordie Howe was Dr. Murray Howe, Gordie's son. Dr. Howe shared memories of his father.

Dr. Howe started, "How do I do justice to the life of a living legend, my own hero. I still pinch at the realization that he was my father."

Dr. Howe explaining a time when Gordie busted his thumb with a hammer: "He shakes his thumb a little bit and keeps on going. It was broken."

Life lessons from Gordie Howe (as related by Dr. Murray Howe)

- "Don't ever gripe about the cards you've been dealt, don't worry about anyone else's ... be thankful that you get to play."

- "A good body check will be remembered."

Mr. Hockey funeral set for 11 a.m.

After thousands flocked to the Joe Louis Arena yesterday to pay their respects to Gordie Howe -- including a fan who waited in line for nearly 11 hours -- the 850-seat Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit is expected to fill for the funeral of Mr. Hockey.

Fans arrived as early as 6:30 a.m. for the funeral, which is scheduled to begin at 11.

The service will be presided by the Rev. J.J. Mech, rector of the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Another hockey legend, "The Great One" Wayne Gretzky, served as a pallbearer yesterday, and many other sports legends -- former Tiger Al Kaline, former Red Wing Steve Yzerman and others -- were in attendance, as well.

The common theme yesterday, which is likely to be repeated today, is this: Gordie Howe always had time for the fans.

Follow along here for updates throughout the service.

Tigers’ Kaline on Howe: ‘How great he was’

Krupa: Fellow greats, common man salute Howe

Gordie Howe’s assists, advice stuck with Yzerman