The Shrivers were devout Catholics who lived their faith with integrity privately before bringing its implications to the public square. Before Alzheimer's took its toll on Sargent, he was a daily communicant, attending Mass either in Maryland or in Hyannis, Mass., a well-worn rosary often in hand. He shared his Marian devotion with his wife; in a statement upon Eunice's death, her family noted that "she was forever devoted to the Blessed Mother. May she be welcomed now by Mary to the joy and love of life everlasting, in the certain truth that her love and spirit will live forever."
Such lines will not be written of Ted Kennedy who, as one of America's most prominent Catholics, blazed the trail of making religious belief an entirely private matter. His debauchery was the opposite of the Shrivers' piety. Having broken up his own family, he degenerated into a dissoluteness that reached its nadir on Good Friday, 1991, when instead of doing the Stations of the Cross at the local parish, he took his son and nephew out for a night of bar-hopping and skirt-chasing. The details of Ted's behaviour that night were embarrassingly sordid. It gave rise to the joke that Senator Kennedy's religion was so private he refused to impose it on himself.