- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 12, 2010


WILMINGTON, Del. — Jean Finnegan Biden, mother of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., was remembered Tuesday as a strong-willed woman of unshakable faith who instilled a sense of loyalty and courage in her children.

The matriarch, known to the Biden family as “Mom-Mom,” died Friday at the age of 92 after a brief illness.

A crowd of about 700 people gathered in the sanctuary at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church for a funeral Mass. The guest list included President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and several Cabinet officials and members of Congress.

Mr. Biden thanked Mr. Obama for treating his mother “with warmth and personal affection.”

As the vice president began his eulogy, sunlight illuminated the stained-glass window behind him.

“She believed in us, so we believe in ourselves. How could we do less?” he said. “Mom taught us that courage was not defined by the lack of fear, but by the willingness to act in spite of your fears; that bravery lived in each of our hearts. And her expectation was that we would be summoned to reach for it when necessary.”

In his upbeat tribute, Mr. Biden noted the attendance of Bishop W. Francis Malooly, who took over as head of the Diocese of Wilmington in 2008.

“My mother said it’s about time we got back an Irishman,” he joked.

Raised in a family with a strong Irish-Catholic tradition, Mrs. Biden leaned on her faith in comforting Mr. Biden after his first wife and daughter were killed in a car crash in December 1972, the month after he was elected to the Senate. His two sons were seriously injured.

Mr. Biden said his mother, who was raised in Scranton, Pa., was fiercely protective.

“To Mom, the greatest virtue was courage,” he said. “She taught her children that the thickest of all substances was blood.”

Three granddaughters gave Scripture readings, and pallbearers included four grandsons.

Monsignor Thomas Cini told Mrs. Biden’s children that she was “your strength, your rock.”

In death, Monsignor Cini added, Mrs. Biden has been reunited with her siblings and her husband, who died in 2002.

“You can imagine the Irish feast that’s going on right now, and she’s leading them,” the priest said.

The vice president closed his eulogy echoing those remarks.

“Mom is back in Dad’s embrace, where she belongs, and we’re all at peace,” he said.

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