Editor Emeritus - Ed Wilkinson

Gov. Carey Was a Neighborhood Guy

From all indications, the late Gov. Hugh Carey was a very successful governor and congressman.  As a homegrown product of the Brooklyn Diocese, there was always considerable pride in the Brooklyn-born politician.
Gov. Carey came out of Park Slope where he attended St. Augustine Diocesan H.S. before moving on to St. John’s University and St. John’s Law.
While serving in office, he was a member of St. Saviour’s parish and was a close friend to Msgr. Thomas Haggerty, the former pastor there. When Carey’s wife, Helen, passed away, it was to his pastor as well as family that he turned for consolation.
A popular, gregarious Irishman, Hughie, as he was known to his friends, was a familiar face in the neighborhood. Campaign victory parties were conducted in Snooky’s Pub, the local watering hole on Seventh Ave. When he was elected governor in 1972, a large tour bus awaited him and his 14 kids outside the apartment house on Prospect Park West where he lived as the neighbors gathered to send off their favorite son.
In 1978, when Pope Paul VI died, Gov. Carey was named to head the U.S. delegation to the Vatican for the papal funeral. The Tablet assigned cub reporter Matthew Monahan to do a follow-up story. A call to the governor’s press office was returned. Sure, Monahan could ride with Gov. Carey, via private jet, to Buffalo and back and he could have the whole story. Not only did our man get the scoop but he returned with a prized photo of Carey sitting in the plane reading The Tablet.
Carey’s relationship with the Church wasn’t always as comfortable as he would have liked. A liberal Democrat, his position on abortion was not the clear-cut opposition that should have been expected of a church-going Catholic. Later when he married a socialite who was married and divorced, the status of his marriage in the Church was called into question.
Following his retirement from politics, Carey later admitted that he had been wrong not to oppose abortion. His ‘confession’ was accepted and churchmen looked kindly upon his presence at social events. In fact, it was downright welcomed. In recent years, he attended St. Augustine H.S. reunions, his swagger and bravado still intact.
Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany remembered his former neighbor this way when he spoke on behalf of the state’s bishops this week:
“Governor Hugh L. Carey was a superb public servant whose commitment to our nation and state was extraordinary. He demonstrated great vision and courage in confronting the fiscal crisis in New York City in a bipartisan fashion, while at the same time protecting the needs of the most vulnerable in our Empire State: the poor, children, the mentally ill and the elderly.
“The Governor was a role model of faith, integrity and civility in a society where such is needed today so desperately.”
Cardinal Edward Egan, the retired Archbishop of New York, added, “It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Governor Hugh Carey.  The Governor was a marvelous political leader and a dear friend. I will deeply miss his wise counsel and many kindnesses to me, during my years as Archbishop of New York and afterwards as well.  He and his beloved family have a very special place in my Masses and prayers.”
Not a bad way to be remembered.
To which we add, he was a Catholic from Brooklyn!

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