DAILY CATHOLIC    FRI-SAT-SUN-MON     May 28-31, 1999     vol. 10, no. 104


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      Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we spotlight each member of the Conclave in alphabetical order. We find this necessary as our dear Sovereign Pontiff Pope John Paul II grows older, clinging to hope, as we join him, of seeing the light of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart with the dawn of the new millennium - the Jubilee Year 2000. How much longer this 264th successor of Peter has left on this earth only God knows for sure, but His Divine Mercy is evident in allowing him to be with us this long for he truly is a saint for our times, truly Christ's Vicar on earth in these waning days before the glorious Reign of the Sacred Heart, the Time of Peace, the Era of the Eucharistic Presence, the New Pentecost, the Second Advent, the Age of the Holy Spirit. What 1999 will bring we have no idea, nor does anyone else, but with John Paul II at the helm, we feel much more secure in knowing God's Will will be done. Nevertheless, we want to preview the future Pope whether that be soon or much, much later, for no one lives forever and eventually one of those prelates will be selected as the 265th successor of Peter. This will give the reader a better insight into the man whom the Holy Spirit will move the conclave to choose. Thus we bring the reader vignettes on each cardinal in alphabetical order gleaned from the Catholic Almanac, Inside the Vatican and other sources.

59.   Cardinal William Henry Keeler

          This Texas-born Prince of the Church has been Archbishop of Baltimore, the Primatial See in the United States, since April 11, 1989. Cardinal William Henry Keeler was born on March 4, 1931 the son of Thomas and Margaret Keeler in the Diocese of San Antonio. The family moved to Lebanon, Pennsylvania and he attended Lebanon Catholic High, then received his Bachelors from St. Charles Seminary in Overbrook, Pennsylvania before being sent to Rome for further studies. It was there he was ordained in the Church of the Holy Apostles by the future Cardinal Luigi Traglia on July 17, 1955. After ordination he completed his Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University and returned to the States, becoming an associate pastor at Our Lady of Good Cousel in Marysville in his home diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where he also was appointed Secretary of the Diocesan Tribunal until 1958 when he returned to the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome to study Canon Law. After receiving his Doctorate he was sent back to his home diocese where he resumed the same position he had before leaving for Rome, but Rome would not be forgotten nor would Rome forget him. Harrisburg's Bishop George Leech took the young Fr. Keeler with him as his secretary for the Second Vatican Council in 1962 and Pope John XXIII appointed him a member of the periti as special advisor during Vatican II where he also worked on the Council Digest which was a communication service that the United States Bishops used to communicate news of the Council on a daily basis back to the states. After Vatican II he returned to Our Lady of Good Counsel as pastor as well as Defender of the Bond for the Diocesan Tribunal, being appointed Papal Chaplain by Pope Paul VI.

          In 1965 he became Vice Chancellor of the Diocese and four years later Chancellor. In 1970 He was named Prelate of Honor by the Holy Father. He was Vicar General of his diocese when he was named Auxiliary Bishop of Harrisburg and Titular Bishop of Ulcinium in Dulcigno by Pope John Paul II on July 24, 1979. He was ordained a month later in St. Patrick's Cathedral in Harrisburg where he officially became acting Bishop on January 4, 1984 being installed by Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia. He was promoted to Archbishop of the Baltimore Archdiocese on April 6, 1989 by the Pope and formally installed on May 23, 1989 After hosting the city's bicentennial celebration, he was chosen Vice President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops Three years later he was elected President of the NCCB.

          His greatest honor came in 1994 when the Holy Father elected him to the Sacred Conclave by including his name for the cardinalate in the Consistory of November 26, 1994 at which time he received his red hat and the titular church of St. Mary of the Angels. At 68 years-old, Cardinal Keeler remains one of the younger United States cardinals along with Cardinals Law, Mahoney and George and feels his work has just begun. He has been most active in the Curial memberships of the Congregation for Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. It is his intricate involvement in these two offices that have made him so valuable in the cause of reuniting the Orthodox and Western Churches. Sadly, because of the war in Kosovo and Balkan unrest, the co-presidents of the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between East and West - Cardinal Keeler and Archbishop Spyridon, head of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, were forced to postpone their historic meeting that had been scheduled next month at Emmitsburg. Besides his knowledge of the Orthodox Church, he is also very adept at Christian-Judaic relationship from his experience in interfaith dialogue. He was invaluable to Pope John Paul II in 1987 when the Holy Father visited our shores in setting up meetings with Jewish leaders in Miami and Protestant representatives in the Bible Belt of Columbia, South Carolina. His experience in ecumenical endeavors served him well in being appointed to the previous-mentioned Curial offices.

          The honors he has received read like a who's who. They include the Americanism Award from the Anti-Defamation League, Marylander of the Year (once in 1986 and again in 1994), Nostra Aetate Award conferred by the Insitute for Christian-Jewish understanding, the Silver St. George Medal from the National Catholic Committee on Scouting and the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem Lifetime Achievement Award presented this year in February to name just a handful of honors.

May 28-31, 1999       volume 10, no. 104


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