I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Cardinal Keeler on a few occasions during his time as Archbishop Emeritus of Baltimore. My favorite time with him was when I visited him in Baltimore at his home back in 2008. I told him that I was planning on visiting the city for the very first time and will be visiting the Basilica for mass. He invited me to come and see him at his home at the historic Archbishop’s Residence behind the Basilica. When I arrived there, he took me on tour of the majestic place and I was in such awe of the man himself. He was holy, humble, kind and very smart! He told me both the history of the historic building and of the Archdiocese. He had such great intellect, and a sincere devotion to Christ and his Church. For he so loved the Church! He was definitely a people’s priest! My prayers are with the people of this wonderful Archdiocese he so faithfully served as its 14th Archbishop and with the entire Keeler family during this difficult time. May the good Lord reward this holy and faithful servant of the Church eternal peace among the angels in Heaven! Rest in peace Your Eminence! Well done, good and faithful servant!
As I was just immersing myself in Catholic Social Teaching and advocacy, his support for community organizing for the Campaign for Human Development was writ large. He is sorely missed.
My husband, Bob Fewster, president and owner of R. H. Fewster Painting Company received an award from Cardinal Keller for painting the Immaculate Conception Church. Msgr. Tinder, pastor at the time, was thrilled with the beautiful job that Bob and his company did. Bob cherishes the award and recognition from Cardinal Keeler. Bob’s company also had the honor of painting the personal residence of the Cardinal and always felt a sense of great pride in making the Cardinal Keeler smile. We will always love and remember the Cardinal and are grateful for the significant impact on he had on all of our lives.
-The Fewster Family (Bob, Darlene, Kelly, and Stacy)
Besides the other outstanding virtues for which Cardinal Keeler should be remembered I would like to single out his loyalty to his friends. As Archbishop of Baltimore and even in retirement until a few years ago he continued to invite to a modest celebration of the anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood (on July 17) friends from the time he had spent both at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and in the Diocese of Harrisburg, and he showed his interest in them in other practical ways. He was deeply grieved when one of his friends was killed and another was seriously injured in the automobile accident in Italy in which he also suffered grievous injuries. We who benefited from his kindness will always remain grateful to his memory. Rev. Msgr. Robert Trisco, P.A., The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
We were very blessed to have his Eminence Cardinal William Keeler sit beside us at a luncheon at Turf Valley.We were being honored as faithful contributors of the Archbishops Lenten Appeal, The spirit of Cardinal Keeler and his sense of humor enlightened our whole visit. We pray for the repose of his soul and and give thanks for all he did for our city of Baltimore.
-John & Beverly Zambito
My brother was involved in a motorcycle accident in 2005 and was not expected to live. Cardinal Keeler was at the same hospital looking after his brother who was in the next cubicle. After listening to my story about my brother, he insisted on giving my brother Bob the Last Rites. I said that was not necessary but he insisted. He went to his car that was in the garage, returned and performed the Last Rites for my brother. What really amazed me about the Cardinal, after giving Bob the sacrament, he went around the room and asked who everyone was. When he got to me I told him I was his brother Bill. His Response was,” my name is Bill, too”. At that point he was not a Cardinal but a friend with someone who was in the same situation as he was. I will always remember that moment at the Hospital.
My mother, Jane Runey, was very proud to serve Cardinal Keeler in the twilight of his life. She will miss working for him and has so many stories to tell! She was very dedicated to him and loved this man for his gentle soul. Rest in Peace, Cardinal Keeler.
When my uncle, Monsignor Nicholas W. Dohony, was on his death bed, Cardinal Keeler visited him, knelt and asked for his blessing. I then worked with His Eminence on the board of the Basilica Restoration Trust and accompanied him to Rome in 2001 when we presented the plans for the restoration of the nation’s oldest Catholic cathedral to His Holiness. On that trip, His Eminence enabled me to meet Saint John Paul II at St. Peter’s, just outside the Porta Sancta. After his tenure as the shepherd of the Archdiocese, I served as president of the local St. Thomas More Society and saw him from time to time. Later, he honored me by allowing me to drive him to the installation of Monsignor Jim Farmer as pastor of St. John’s Westminster. I saw him from time to time at St. Martin’s Home because I am a past president and current counsel (for the last 30 years or so) of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, whose principal charity if the Little Sisters of the Poor. At the end, his prodigious intellect and seemingly eidetic memory had departed. What remained was his gentle humility, which leaves all of us with an enduring legacy of faith.
In 2009 Cardinal Keeler and Fr. Jeff Dauses welcomed our Cub Scouts (Pack 794 – OLPH Ellicott City) who were working on their Parvuli Dei religious award to the Basilica and Cardinal’s residence. The Cardinal took the time to answer questions from the scouts about his scouting experiences and how became an Eagle Scout, a Priest, a Bishop and Cardinal.
I got to know Cardinal Keeler real well in 1977 when he was a monsignor. We all went to Rome with Bishop Daley and the Diocese of Harrisburg for the cannonization of John Neuman. During those eight days at that time, Monsignor Keeler and I established a close relationship with each other. When he became Bishop of Harrisburg we still stayed in touch with each other and even when he left for Baltimore and became Archbishop and then Cardinal our relationship became even greater. I visited him at the Little Sisters of the Poor last summer and his health was very bad. I will miss him very much but I know that he at peace with Our Lord in heaven and that he will not suffer anymore. May God Bless you Cardinal Keeler and I will miss you very much but your spirit will remain with me always.
-Robert M. Mraz
Cathedral Parish of St. Patrick – Harrisburg, Pa
I remember the Mass and Christ The King breakfast we shared with Cardinal Keeler. The talk he gave to us Catholic men in Portland Maine gave me inspiration to be a faithful man of Jesus Christ our Lord. Also to keep courage and Love in occupation and public life. I will miss him and pray for the family and friends of Cardinal Keeler. I pray to continue the good work he accomplished.
The great Cardinal William Keeler was exceptional and truly an one-of-a-kind caring and loving and very important person. When my Dad had only 2 weeks to live in May of 1998 I went to the Basillica in Baltimore City, to pray for him. Cardinal Keeler happened to be there that very afternoon and he said he had just returned from Rome after visiting with then Pope John Paul the II. I told him that my Dad needed a miracle and we were there to respectfully and fervently pray for him. I mostly wanted my Dad to be there so the Highly Revered and Respected Cardinal Keeler could actually bless him. So then Cardinal William Keeler said to me, “I’ll bless you, and he placed the sign of the cross on my forehead and now you can go and bless him.” So when I got back to my parents home I rubbed my forehead onto my Father’s forehead and I made the sign of the cross over him and I told him that that was directly from Cardinal Keeler. After my Dad died I wrote to Cardinal Keeler to thank him and he replied back to me by sending me a beautiful letter of condolence. Cardinal Keeler was a very “SPECIAL” person and man and Priest and Catholic Man of the very SACRED and Holy and Old School Cloth. HE WAS A TRUE MAN OF GOD AND HE HAD GOD EMANATING FROM HIS EYES, HIS SOUL AND EVERY PORE AND HIS WHOLE BODY. He will be greatly missed!
– Lillian Howarth
When Cardinal Keeler was Bishop of Harrisburg, PA, he would often quietly enter the Harrisburg Hospital which was downtown and visit patients. One evening, I was visiting my father in that hospital, and I noticed Bishop Keeler walk past the door of my father’s room, glance inside and briefly make eye contact with my father’s room mate, keep walking, and then quickly turn around to enter the room. Bishop did know my father, but he was primarily interested in my father’s roommate. His roommate was a lovely gentleman who I believe used to be a curator at the museum downtown, and whom Bishop had helped with a display of Catholic objects which had been at the museum for a time. Bishop’s first words to the man were “You were right.” They had a very nice conversation about Catholics use of the word “Father”, after which Bishop blessed both patients and then left. My father’s roommate was astounded. When we asked him why, he said that he hadn’t seen Bishop for many, many years. Bishop had remembered the very last thing they had spoken about so many years before , and had continued the conversation as if it had happened yesterday. Cardinal Keeler had an amazing memory, and he certainly delighted my father’s roommate with his special way of remembering people and conversations.
– Ann Marie Lapcowicz
My family and I were on the same flight from Orlando to Baltimore with Cardinal Keeler about 9 years ago. He was brought to the waiting area in a wheelchair. I was nervous about approaching him but I introduced myself and my wife. He was so friendly and wanted to know about the parish we attend and our family. I finally asked if he would give his personal blessing to my wife and I which he did gladly. I had a chance to return his kindness at BWI when we were waiting for our luggage to come out on the belt that was listed but it didn’t. Everyone including the Cardinal were just standing around. I check several of the other belts and found our luggage. Directly next to ours was the Cardinals. i escorted him to his luggage which he thanked me for. His last words to me were God Bless. I know he is with the Lord and is happier than anyone could possibly express. God Bless you Cardinal Keeler Lyndon Freeman & family (Our Lady of Hope parish)
– Lyndon B. Freeman II
As one of Cardinal Keeler’s caregivers I had many great opportunities for special conversations on Religion that helped to bring me back to my Catholic faith.I also appreciated the many smiles and laughs that brightened the days.Thank you Cardinal Keeler for all our special times.
– Theresa Bushee
I remember the many years he walked with the youth of Baltimore for the Annual Youth Pilgrimage – even as he got up in years he loved being with the young people – and they loved him too!
I remember how gracious Cardinal Keeler was at one of our Catholic School Conventions. At the end of the Mass, he waited in the back to shake our hand and talk to us. There were at least 2,000 educators there. I was moved and impressed by this.
The first time we met the Cardinal, it was in February 1995 at a kickoff meeting promoting his annual Archbishop’s appeal. After his presentation, we asked the Cardinal how we could get a letter from his office in order to go to a Papal audience in Rome someday. In a very manner of fact manner Cardinal Keeler said, “I’m going to Rome in May, why don’t you come with me?” Because of Cardinal Keeler, on May 1, 1995, we actually met Saint Pope John Paul II in a private audience with our pilgrimage tour group at the Vatican. May 1st is a national holiday in Italy, and the Pope had only returned from Castle Gandolfo the day before, but the Pope honored Cardinal Keeler by granting the private audience. As a thanksgiving for that day, my wife and I volunteered weekends that summer to prepare for the Pope’s October visit to Baltimore. We were able to attend the Papal mass at Camden Yards and the farewell ceremony at BWI airport. Five years later, we introduced him to our own young son, named John Paul. At a World Marriage Day at the Cathedral, walking in the opening procession, Cardinal Keeler spotted John Paul and blessed him and others along the main aisle. In his homily, Cardinal Keeler talked about the need for vocations to the priesthood and noted, “And I have my eye on a certain young man in this church today…” After mass, he told us with a smile that of course he was referring to our John Paul. Whenever Cardinal Keeler met John Paul, he would take off his red Cardinal’s cap and warmly put it on John Paul’s head. In 2003, we once again went with Cardinal Keeler on a pilgrimage tour to Rome and Vatican City, bringing John Paul with us, who was only 3 at the time. There are so many other stories, but I end by giving our many thanks to Cardinal Keeler for all he did for our family. The photo is from October 15, 2003 at St. Peter’s Basilica right after an outdoor address by Saint Pope John Paul II.
In the mid 1990’s as a research scientist working at the time at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico (USA), I was in Baltimore for a national annual conference on nondestructive testing. It was at a low point in my life and I took some time off from listening to talks in the technical sessions to go to a weekday Mass at the Cathedral which was within walking distance of the conference site. His Eminence, Cardinal Archbishop Keeler, was the Celebrant. It was the only time in my life I was in the presence of this holy man. At that time I was unaware of his work to promote interfaith encounter or of his motto “Do the work of an evangelist,” two themes that since then have operated in my own life of service to the Church. But my service seen at age 74 here in Vermont now as my home has been tiny in comparison to his opus magnus. Knowing thus he is missed, I offer heartfelt condolences to those who knew him much better, over years and decades, not for just an half hour.
-Harold M. “Hall” Frost Ph.D.