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.

Cardinal William H. Keeler was known for his ability to foster support for the ministries of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

The cardinal also established the Partners in Excellence program, which provides tuition scholarships for children in inner-city Catholic schools. Since its inception in 1996, Partners in Excellence has provided more than $26 million in tuition assistance.

Father Michael White, pastor of Church of the Nativity and the cardinal’s first priest-secretary, remembered that Cardinal Keeler viewed fundraising as an important part of his job, one that he didn’t avoid. During one campaign, Father White recalled, Cardinal Keeler met with a prominent leader to ask for a significant amount of money – more than had been asked of anyone else. During their meeting, the cardinal slid a card across the table to the potential donor with the suggested amount. The man looked at it and agreed to the contribution.

“After the guy left, I said, ‘You must have been so nervous,’” Father White said. “The cardinal said, ‘Oh, I was – because I doubled the number. At the last minute, I thought, ‘Why not?’”

The cardinal also spearheaded the fundraising drive for the successful $32 million restoration of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore.

Donors supported the cardinal’s initiatives because they knew and trusted him, Father White said.


This is an excerpt from the Catholic Review obituary on Cardinal Keeler by George P. Matysek Jr.  For the complete article, click here.