Cardinal says his friend seemingly had 'premonition' about crash
Oct 24, 2006
Cardinal William Keeler said his late friend, the Rev. Bernard Quinn, "must have had some kind of premonition" about the car accident that took his life during a vacation in Italy because he repeatedly spoke that day about how "he was ready to go to the Lord."
(The Associated Press, Oct 23, 2006) BALTIMORE - In his first public comments about the crash that killed Quinn and left him with a broken ankle, the archbishop of Baltimore said Monday that he doesn't remember many details about the accident because it happened so suddenly.
Keeler, 75, and Quinn, 78, were passengers in a car driven by Monsignor Thomas Smith, 75, when it was struck by another car in Terni, Italy, on Oct. 7. Smith broke several ribs but was well enough to preach at Quinn's funeral on Saturday, Keeler said.
Keeler said he doesn't recall the impact, but he felt disoriented afterward and wondered what had happened to his eyeglasses, which were broken. When he realized they'd been in a crash, he sprung to action.
"What Monsignor Smith and I immediately did was give absolution to Father Quinn and to each other," Keeler said. "The instinctive reaction of the priest is to make sure that the sacraments of the church are available to someone who is dying or in danger of death."
The accident happened as the priests were returning to their hotel in Terni, about 60 miles north of Rome, after visits to the tombs of St. Valentine and St. Rita. Keeler said he was surprised to hear Quinn mention at least four times throughout the day that he was prepared for death.
"The fact that Father Quinn said that he was ready to go to the Lord, I think he must have had some kind of premonition that God was going to call him soon, and that's the only way I can see that you can make sense out of it," Keeler said.
The remarks seemed to come from nowhere, although Quinn was clearly happy to be back in Italy, Keeler said. The two priests became friends in the early 1960s, when they were both studying in Rome. A trip they took to Sicily, to "a beautiful little town where I was told the head of the Italian Mafia lived," was the first of many vacations together, he said.
Keeler moved slowly but steadily Monday, using a walker and wearing a protective boot on his right foot. He's being treated by Dr. Mark Myerson, director of the Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction at Mercy Medical Center, who operated on the ankle of football star Terrell Owens in 2004.
The cardinal said Myerson examined him Monday, and "he says that the healing process is moving ahead, although because of my years, it's a little slower than it is for other people."
The festivities surrounding the Nov. 4 reopening of the Basilica of the Assumption, the nation's first Roman Catholic cathedral, will continue as planned, Keeler said, although his own participation may be scaled back because of his limited mobility.
Keeler, who has served as archbishop of Baltimore since 1989, said he is still awaiting word about whether Pope Benedict XVI will accept his resignation. All bishops who turn 75 must offer to resign.