Tractor Used for Bishop McRaith Procession

Owensboro residents, lining streets across the city to remember Bishop John McRaith.

This morning's funeral procession marked his love of his faith, and love of farming.

He was known as the leader of the Diocese of Owensboro for nearly 27 years. Today's procession honored another part of his life: agriculture.

On the wagon pulled by the tractor he owned, Bishop John McRaith made his final journey, past the schools he visited, and the people whose lives he touched.

"He means a lot. He was the bishop for many years. He was always very kind and pastoral, always had a smile for everyone," said Brett Ballard of Owensboro.

Joe Cecil drove the tractor Bishop McRaith got for his 20th anniversary as bishop.

"Used to actually work the farm that he lived on about 20 years ago, and I got to be good friends with him," Cecil recalled. He said it's a good way to honor the man who was true to his faith, and his belief of agriculture's importance.  McRaith lived on a farm in western Daviess County for many years, and grew up on one in Minnesota.

"He was great in his ministry, but when he was out touching people in agriculture, or playing on the farm as he would like to say, that's when he was at his best," Cecil said.

"It was the first time I've seen it, and I think it was beautiful, especially let him go home in something he really loved so much," says Fr. Emmanuel Udoh, associate pastor at Blessed Mother Catholic Church.

Bishop William Medley said the idea for the tractor came from family members. Cecil called the journey, and seeing all the well-wishers along it, humbling.

"It was touching to see how many people lined up along the route to pay their respects, and say goodbye, and to see him on his final journey," says Cecil.

A public viewing is scheduled for tomorrow morning here at Saint Stephen starting at 8:00 AM. Funeral services will start at 11:00 AM with Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz presiding.
 


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