Baltimore cardinal Celebrates 50 years of priesthood
Oct 15, 2005
With a humble "I'm blessed to be here," Cardinal William H. Keeler marked 50 years since becoming a priest with a thanksgiving mass Wednesday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.
(The Associated Press, October 05, 2005) Keeler, the 14th Archbishop of Baltimore, said the past 50 years have been a blessing and a learning experience, at a press conference prior to mass.
Keeler, who entered the priesthood in Harrisburg, Pa. in 1955, noted changes in the church.
"Perhaps the number of Catholics is fewer, but the depths of their faith is absolutely incredible," he said. "What I see happening here in the Archdiocese of Baltimore is young people who are very excited about their faith."
Keeler said he is looking to a possible visit from Pope Benedict XVI in November 2006 for the rededication of the Basilica of the Assumption. An invitation has been sent and received, but there is no word yet on whether he will attend.
The cardinal will be traveling to Rome later this month and will ask again, but he doesn't expect a final decision from the Pope any time soon. He also said he received a letter signed by the Pope for his anniversary.
Two people who Keeler said have been key over the years are his mother and Pope John Paul II, who gave him the cross that he was wearing.
Keeler, who was installed as the Archbishop of Baltimore in 1989, has also served as president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the U.S. Catholic Conference from 1992 to 1995.
He was ordained auxiliary bishop at the Harrisburg Diocese in 1979 and served as bishop of Harrisburg from 1983 to 1989.
The cathedral, which holds 2,000 people, was nearly filled to capacity. Those attending the mass describe Keeler as a community leader, deeply committed to his religion and admirable.
"I think it's a wonderful milestone," said Dolores Kozlowski of Edgewater. "He's a leader in the community and church. Who knows what the future holds for him?"
Lifelong Baltimore resident Mary Bunting said she has met with Keeler on several occasions and attended a mass at his residence.
"I admire him for all the work he's done for the Archdiocese of Baltimore," she said. "Particularly his interfaith work that he's done, especially with the Jewish-Christian dialogue."
She said despite the changes in the church, Keeler has stuck to his principles and remained deeply spiritual.
"We in Baltimore have been blessed to have very good bishops and cardinals."