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Cardinal recalled as 'tornado' of nonstop work with caring, pastoral side


  • Father Michael White and Msgr. Robert Jaskot, two of Cardinal William H. Keeler's former priest-secretaries, reminisce as they pay their respects to the cardinal March 27 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore. Cardinal Keeler, Baltimore's 14th archbishop, died March 23 at age 86. (CNS photo/Denise Warfield, Catholic Review)
  • Family and friends attend the vespers service for Cardinal William H. Keeler, retired archbishop of Baltimore, March 27 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore. Cardinal Keeler, Baltimore's 14th archbishop, died March 23 at age 86. (CNS photo/Denise Warfield, Catholic Review)

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BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Describing Cardinal William H. Keeler as a "tornado" of nonstop work who considered it the "highest form of asceticism to never waste a moment," the cardinal's first priest-secretary in the Archdiocese of Baltimore said his boss also had a caring, pastoral side.

Father Michael White made the comments in his homily at the March 27 vespers service for the late cardinal at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore.

The cardinal's body was to be interred in the basilica crypt following the funeral Mass March 28 at Baltimore's Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

At the vespers service, Father White in his homily recalled that when the cardinal was elevated to the College of Cardinals in 1994, he took time out of a whirlwind schedule of activity in Rome to show concern for a member of the Swiss Guard whose mother had been ill.

The cardinal walked up to the guard and called him by name, Father White remembered in amazement, asking how the guard's mother was doing. When the cardinal found out the woman had died, he immediately pulled out his pocket calendar and scheduled a Mass for her on the spot, inviting the guard to attend.

As Cardinal Keeler walked away, Father White recalled, the shaken guard whispered to no one in particular: "There goes a prince."

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