By Mark Zimmermann | Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) — At his June 22 funeral Mass, political pundit Mark Shields — a fixture for 33 years as a commentator on the PBS “NewsHour” — was remembered as a man who believed in the power of politics serving the common good, and as a man of faith and humor.
The Mass at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington, where Shields was a longtime parishioner, drew hundreds of people. Shields, who was 85, died at his Chevy Chase, Maryland, home June 18 from complications of kidney failure.
John Carr — the co-director of the Initiative on Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University and one of the speakers at the Mass — said he visited Shields two days before his death and told his friend that he “made Washington and the nation better places.”
Carr said the full church of people at Shields’ funeral Mass had come together “to say thank-you and goodbye to a good man who showed us what a life of faith, hope and love can achieve.”
Msgr. John Enzler — president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington and a former pastor at Blessed Sacrament — was the main celebrant, joined by five other priests as concelebrants, including Holy Cross Father John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame.
Shields earned a philosophy degree from Notre Dame, was an ardent supporter of its sports teams, and returned to the campus in 1997 to receive an honorary degree and serve as commencement speaker.
“For me and the priests here today, we knew Mark also as a man of faith,” Msgr. Enzler said, noting that Shields was an usher at the noon Sunday Masses at Blessed Sacrament.
The priest added, “I loved his faith. I loved his integrity. I love the way he lived that faith every day and the way he was able to share that faith, even on national television.”
Carr in his remarks said that Mark Shields was a faithful man, faithful to his family, to his nation, to his alma mater Notre Dame, to his church, to politics and to his Democratic Party.
“He was faithful to his church, living the beatitudes, championing its social teaching and challenging its failures. Mark was a ‘Pope Francis Catholic’ before there was a Pope Francis,” Carr said.
In being faithful to politics, Carr said that Shields insisted “public service is a vocation, compromise is not evil and politics is the pursuit of the common good.”
Noting Shields’ humor, Carr said when a “particularly self-absorbed pol asked him, ‘Why do people take such an instant dislike to me?’ Mark’s response was, ‘It saves them time.'”
Another speaker was Al Hunt, formerly the Washington bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal who appeared on CNN’s “Capital Gang” show with Shields.
He praised his friend as a man who “believed President Kennedy’s notion that politics is a noble and honorable profession and the best vehicle for social change.”
He said Shields admired politicians who were advocates for “the less privileged and the less powerful,” and championed his political ideals with clarity and civility.
Hunt noted that “the legendary Shields humor was sharp but never mean.” He added that Shields was loved by his “NewsHour” staff colleagues, but they knew that when he tried out a joke before taping the show, that it was OK to laugh if it was funny, but they knew not to laugh if it wasn’t funny, because “he may use it on national television.”
Shields’ daughter, Amy Shields Doyle, was the last speaker. While growing up, she said, she often answered the telephone at home for her father. “Little did I know I was talking to so many incredible people from the political sphere. To me, they just were dad’s friends. He loved people, and he loved politics.”
She noted that her father was not organized and left piles of papers in any room where he was working. They found his instructions for his funeral Mass on pieces of paper, except for one last page they uncovered in a drawer the day before the Mass.
“He wanted us to say he was a man who loved his family, his alma mater, his friends, his country and his church, who stood up for the underdog, the less fortunate and forgotten, and who believed politics was about justice,” Amy Shields Doyle said.
Besides his daughter, Shields is survived by his wife of 55 years, the former Anne Hudson, a lawyer and federal official, and by two grandchildren.