By Sarah Mac Donald - 16 May, 2017
The remains of the last official witness to the apparition in Knock in 1879 were reinterred in the walled graveyard outside St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York on Saturday as a Requiem Mass for John Curry was presided over by Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
John Curry was just five years old and the youngest of the 15 witnesses who saw the apparition in Knock on 21 August 1879, when Our Lady, St Joseph, St John the Evangelist and the Lamb of God appeared.
A number of John Curry’s relatives attended Saturday’s Mass, including his grand-nephew who has written a book on his life.
A pilgrimage group from Knock, led by parish priest and Rector of Knock Shrine Fr Richard Gibbons, also attended the Mass. They were part of the first ever pilgrimage to fly directly from Ireland West Airport to New York.
In his homily, Cardinal Dolan recalled how John Curry beheld the apparition “with the simplicity and sincerity of a little five year old boy”.
Curry arrived in New York as a young man of 21, “An immigrant who really only distinguished himself by his simplicity, his humility, his kindness and his piety,” Dr Dolan told the congregation.
He spent his final seven years with the Little Sisters of the Poor at Sacred Heart Home on 70th Street where he died quietly in 1943.
He was buried in a donated, unmarked grave. His remains lay there until Saturday when, the Cardinal said, “his proud and grateful spiritual and natural heirs gather to give him finally the prominence and esteem he deserves”.
Elsewhere in his homily, Cardinal Dolan expressed solidarity with immigrants, reminding the congregation that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were refugees once in Egypt and that “John Curry was but one of the millions of immigrants who came here to America from Ireland but also from almost every nation in the atlas to enrich this country mightily and to make this nation a light to the world through its embrace of the John Currys of the world.”
He stressed that this was a “light we cannot allow to grow dim today”.
The Cardinal said John Curry’s faith in Jesus had animated his tender care for the sick at the hospital for the destitute on Roosevelt Island where he worked.
He was “A man whose only quiet boast was that he was an altar boy from his childhood in Knock to his death at Sacred Heart home with the Little Sisters of the Poor – rarely if ever missing daily Mass – and Holy Communion.”
He said that they were burying John Curry, a simple, sincere, holy man “with reverence for who he was; with reverence for the country from whence he came; with reverence for the nation where he settled; and with reverence for what he saw that August 21st 1879.”