The Life of Cardinal Keeler

The Church mourns Cardinal Keeler's passing

As In His Life, All Are Welcomed in Cardinal Keeler’s Funeral Mass

Mourners from near and far, and all walks of life and various creeds, filled the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Homeland March 28 for the funeral Mass of Cardinal William H. Keeler, 14th archbishop of Baltimore.

Thirty prelates, including six cardinals, and dozens of priests and deacons mourned Cardinal Keeler, who died March 28 at 86, and commended his soul to God.

Dignitaries and officials came to pay their respects, including Maryland Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr., Baltimore County Executive Kevin B. Kamenetz, retired U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and State Sen. James “Ed” DeGrange Sr.

While a churchman of the highest stature, to be sure – Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori in his closing remarks ranked Cardinal Keeler among the most illustrious of his predecessors, including Archbishop John Carroll, Cardinal James Gibbons and Cardinal Lawrence Shehan – many came to Cardinal Keeler’s funeral to remember a man who had simply never forgotten them.

“He always remembered who I was and what church I came from,” said Jo Anne Harris, mother of Father Raymond Harris, who was ordained by Cardinal Keeler and now serves as pastor of Holy Family Parish in Randallstown. “You would always get a smile and a handshake, and you knew it wasn’t phony. It was from the heart.”

Sheila Peter, a cathedral parishioner, remembered bringing her son, Tommy, then 10, to see Cardinal Keeler in the sacristy after a Good Friday Veneration of the Cross.

“I said, ‘Here’s a big fan of yours,’ and the cardinal held his (zucchetto) over Tommy’s head and we took a picture,” she said.

Mary Lou LaMartina, a parishioner of St. Agnes in Catonsville, recalled two very young children from her parish who were sometimes brought to daily Mass at St. Martin’s Home for the Aged in Catonsville after Cardinal Keeler retired there.

“They would run up and say, ‘Cardinal Keeler, can we have your blessing?’” LaMartina remembered. “Even if he didn’t have any energy, he would put his hand on their heads.”

“He was just a dear,” said Patricia Frederick, also a parishioner of St. Agnes in Catonsville and a volunteer docent at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore. “He was everything people say he was.”

People said a lot.

By Erik Zygmont, Catholic Review.  For the complete story, click here.

Early life

Cardinal Keeler’s response to priesthood call was way of saying thanks

Born in San Antonio, Texas, and raised in Lebanon, Pa., Cardinal William H. Keeler knew from an early age he was called to the priesthood. In a 2005 interview with the Catholic Review, he recalled visiting his grandfather’s farm in Illinois when the local Catholic pastor stopped by for a visit – pointing to the 4-year-old boy and announcing that he would one day become a priest. (more…)

Archbishop of Baltimore

A gentle leader with a sense of humor

Although many who knew Cardinal William H. Keeler described him as an essentially shy person, they noted that he was warm and congenial with a good sense of humor. (more…)

Celebrating a diverse church

Cardinal William H. Keeler reached out to African American Catholics, Hispanics and young people in active ways. (more…)

Supporting Catholic education in creative ways

Cardinal William H. Keeler, who served as a bus driver for a parish school after he was first ordained, gave his blessing to several innovative educational programs within the Baltimore archdiocese, including one for children with special needs – PRIDE (Pupils Receiving Inclusive Diversified Education.) (more…)

Cardinal Keeler showed sensitivity in responding to the abuse crisis

Just as he worked to rebuild historic structures and respect among people of different faiths, Cardinal William H. Keeler also worked to rebuild trust in the wake of the clergy child abuse crisis that broke in 2001. (more…)

Basilica restoration made possible by cardinal’s ‘heroic and extraordinary efforts’

One of Cardinal William H. Keeler’s major efforts was the $32 million campaign to restore the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore. (more…)

A leader unafraid of seeking financial support for ministry

A prodigious fundraiser, Cardinal William H. Keeler established what is now known as the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal. In 1997, he launched a major capital campaign known as Heritage of Hope that raised more than $137 million from more than 39,000 gifts and pledges. (more…)

Cardinal Keeler helped put Baltimore ‘on the map’

Father Michael White, pastor of the Church of the Nativity in Timonium and Cardinal William H. Keeler’s first priest-secretary in Baltimore, said Cardinal Keeler “put Baltimore on the map in the Catholic Church.” (more…)

National and international influence

Cardinal Keeler was strong voice in public arena

With a keen interest in promoting pro-life, education and social justice, Cardinal Keeler was active in the legislative process. Former chairman of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference when he was bishop of Harrisburg, he took on a similar role in Baltimore as chairman of the Maryland Catholic Conference, the Annapolis-based legislative lobbying arm of the state’s bishops. (more…)

Champion of ecumenical and interfaith dialogue

Cardinal William H. Keeler was a champion of interfaith and ecumenical understanding, regarded as one of the world’s leading figures in the field. (more…)

Retired Life

In his own words

Visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to Baltimore

Your All Holiness, With great joy we welcome you to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore.


Pastoral Statement on Marriage, Sexuality and Chastity

Welcome to Pope John Paul II during his visit to Cathedral of Mary Our Queen

Most Holy Father,

It is a joy to welcome you to the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

Here to greet you are parishioners from throughout the Archdiocese of Baltimore, members of organizations, representatives of Catholic educational and health care institutions – in short the Archdiocese in miniature.


Welcome address during visit of Pope John Paul II to Baltimore

Most Holy Father,

With joy we welcome you to Baltimore in Maryland.

We welcome you, remembering how you have spoken in Eastern Europe with such persuasive power of the God-given right to religious freedom.


Prayer service on poverty and racism

The reading from the prophet Micah calls us to do works of justice. Repeatedly in this year of the Great Jubilee Pope John Paul II, speaking in the name of the gospel of Jesus, has called us to the same evangelical task.


2001 Keynote Address, Missouri Catholic Conference

To Archbishop Justin Rigali, a dear friend of many years and a great shepherd in the Church, I express my thanks for the personal invitation to be with you today. It is a grace to be able to reflect with you on the life of the Church in a critical moment of our nation’s history and indeed of the history of the world.


Pro-life homily at the Mass for Life, Washington

Catholic-Jewish Dialogue: A Developing Agenda

With two very important exceptions, the Shoah and the deeper levels of theological discourse, which I will deal with at the end of this paper, the agenda for dialogue between Catholics and Jews has been rather remarkably constant since its early days at the time of the Second Vatican Council.


Address to National Conference of Catholic Bishops

Six weeks ago Pope John Paul II came to the United States and to the United Nations. In a few full days, he gave our nation, and our world, a remarkable lesson in leadership, a lesson of consistency and courage, rooted in the gospel of Jesus.