Monsignor James Vincent Hobbs

Monsignor James Vincent Hobbs

"Monsignor Hobbs had made the arrangements for us to visit the Holy Father, and then 9/11 happened. Our original delegation was about 100 people, but after 9/11, people were afraid to travel and didn't know what might happen next," recalled Mr. Lancelotta.

"I think there was about a dozen who went," he said. "It really was a neat event."

"Monsignor Hobbs was very level-headed, and whatever came up during the restoration — and there were surprises — he handled it," said Mr. Ruck. "When you're dealing with a 200-year-old building, there will be surprises."

The restored basilica was reopened to communicants and visitors Nov. 4, 2006.

"They never expected anything like this," Monsignor Hobbs told The Baltimore Sun at the time, speaking of the 400 families, "from every ZIP code" of the archdiocese, who make up the parish.

"I've enjoyed every moment of my ministry," he told The Catholic Review when he announced that he would retire Feb. 1, 2008.

Reflecting on his career at the time of his retirement, Monsignor Hobbs told The Catholic Review, "Knowing that you can bring Christ into the lives of other people is wonderful. It's been a precious gift."

Monsignor Hobbs left Baltimore and moved to a home he owned in Thurmont.

"He loved vacationing in Ocean City," said a niece, Teresa Baker, who lives in Jefferson, Frederick County. "He was an Orioles and Ravens fan, and had a knack for interior decorating."

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday in the chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg.

Also surviving are two sisters, Mary Jo Williardof Thurmont and Ann M. Kot of Davidsonville; and many other nieces and nephews.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com