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.