R. Sargent Shriver Remembered at Funeral Mass
About 1,000 of Shriver's family, friends and supporters came to his funeral on Saturday in Potomac.
Mark Kennedy Shriver’s voice shook as he read an excerpt from a letter his father, the late R. Sargent Shriver, wrote to his five children before his passing at age 95 on Jan. 18.
“You should be happy I am finally getting to meet my Lord, my superstar, face to face,” Mark read from the letter.
Shriver, who was described as a deeply religious man, wrote that he wanted his children to know that his family — what he called the Lucky Seven — would be lucky again when they met in heaven.
Shriver’s funeral on Saturday demonstrated his bond with his children, his faith and his devotion to improving humanity. There was standing-room only at the funeral mass, which about 1,000 people attended at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Potomac.
The funeral featured hymns and songs performed by Bono, Vanessa Williams, Wyclef Jean, Harolyn Blackwell and Glen Hansard. Former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden spoke about Shriver’s passion for life and deep commitment to his religion.
“I’ve never met a man in my life who was as happy in the moment as Sargent Shriver,” Clinton said of Shriver, who founded the Peace Corps. “He really was as good as his family just told us — and maybe even better.”
Shriver’s son Anthony Shriver welcomed the crowded chapel with laughter and later spoke about his love for his father.
“There will be more Shrivers up on stage than you knew existed,” said Anthony, who is the founder of Best Buddies International.
“Many of you think this is the end for him, but it is only the beginning. I hope we can all be apostles of Sarge and wake up every day with the same energy and enthusiasm to change the world as he had.”
Shriver’s four other children delivered eulogies and spoke about their love for “Daddy,” his commitment to his family and religion, the hard work and dedication he showed in his work and his eternal love for his wife, Eunice Kennedy Shriver — the sister of the late president John F. Kennedy and founder of the Special Olympics.
“I take great comfort in knowing that he is with God and Mommy,” said Maria Shriver, the only daughter of the family and the former first lady of California. “When I think of him, I think of the way he loved our mother, cared for her, admired and respected her.”
Shriver’s son Timothy Shriver — the CEO of the Special Olympics — shared his memories of growing up with a well-known father he loved and respected.
“He never coddled us — and there’s a lot of talk about how kids today are being coddled — but boy, did he believe in us,” he said.
Other well-known guests at the funeral included First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and her pal, Gayle King, musician Stevie Wonder, journalists Chris Matthews, David Gregory and Andrea Mitchell and former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, Shriver's son-in-law.
The ceremony, which was held at the church Shriver attended for more than 20 years, was open to the public and lead by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington.
“This family has been the epitome of public service and has worked hard to positively touch people’s lives,” said Ted Leonsis, the owner of the Washington Capital and the Washington Wizards and a new Potomac resident. “This ceremony reflected who Sarge was.”
Kathleen Drew — a Chevy Chase resident who is family friends with Timothy Shriver, also of Chevy Chase — said she came to the funeral to offer her support and love.
“This service really did justice to his legacy,” Drew said.
There has been an amazing amount of support and love for Shriver, said Kirsten Sutoseckler, the vice president of branding and communication for Special Olympics International and the family spokeswoman.
Of the mass, Sutoseckler said, “there was humor, music, warmth, love and God — all things that embody Sargent Shriver."