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NY Cardinal Returns to Pulpit

October 24, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ Still weak from radiation therapy, Cardinal John O’Connor returned to the pulpit Sunday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for his first public Mass in three weeks.

The spiritual leader for New York’s 2.2 million Catholics joked about his newly bald pate and made an emotional promise to continue preaching.

``Some people tell me my hair may grow back. Red and curly, perhaps,″ O’Connor told the worshippers, who applauded his returned. ``Maybe I’ll stick with the Yul Brynner look. ... Our Lord never said that hair had anything to do with getting to heaven.″

O’Connor, 79, was hospitalized last week for side effects from the radiation therapy he received after a brain tumor was removed in September. On Sunday, he slowly gave a 15-minute homily, then sat down.

``Given his age ... and given the relatively high doses of radiation that he received, he’s going to experience a little bit lower energy level,″ said Archdiocese spokesman Joe Zwilling. ``He was actually overjoyed to be able to preach at the Mass today.″

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