Published: Fri, March 31, 2017
World | By Tasha Manning

Cardinal William Keeler dies at 86; led oldest diocese in US

Cardinal William Keeler dies at 86; led oldest diocese in US

Keeler was the seventh bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, serving in that capacity from 1984 to 1989.

WBAL reports former Baltimore archbishop Cardinal William Henry Keeler has died, Archdiocese of Baltimore officials confirm. We offer prayers of gratitude for Cardinal Keeler's return to the Lord he so dearly loved.

He went on to refer to the following Easter Sunday - when Cardinal Keeler, then archbishop emeritus of Baltimore, was well enough to preside at Mass at the newly "re-renovated" basilica and receive a "thunderous ovation" - as "one of the happy moments in my time here".

"One of the great blessings in my life was coming to know Cardinal Keeler", said Baltimore Archbishop William E Lori in a statement. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa., in 1952 and studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and was ordained to the priesthood on July 17, 1955.

FILE PHOTO: In this November 12, 2006, file photo, Baltimore Cardinal William Keeler listens during the Bishops' Mass at The Baltimore Basilica in Baltimore.

When he retired in 2007, he had 51 years of active ministry, including 33 years in the Harrisburg diocese and 18 years in Baltimore.

In 1989, Pope John Paul II appointed him archbishop of Baltimore, the nation's first diocese.

Archbishop Lori also highlighted the cardinal's ecumenical and interfaith work, noting Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople's 1998 visit to Baltimore as well as the cardinal's enduring relationship with the Jewish community.

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"Pope John Paul loved Cardinal Keeler", Fr White said.

Later, as the Baltimore Basilica was undergoing extensive renovations under Cardinal Keeler's watch, there were various celebrations, and "I was lucky enough to go to those things as Cardinal Hickey's sidekick", the archbishop added.

He later was named vice chancellor and vicar general of the Harrisburg Diocese and named an auxiliary bishop for the diocese in 1979. On Tuesday there will be a second public viewing from 9 1 Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Homeland, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 2 p.m. and Rite of Commital in the crypt of Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore at 4:30 p.m. Glemp had delivered a sermon two years before that many Jews viewed as containing anti-Semitic references.

Three weeks after signing the photo, Keeler was installed as the archbishop of Baltimore - hence the inscription.

In the early part of his retirement, Cardinal Keeler remained focused on numerous same priorities he had always held: promoting better relations between the Catholic and Jewish communities, celebrating Mass every day and staying in touch with friends.

Father Michael White, pastor of the Church of the Nativity in Timonium and Cardinal Keeler's first priest-secretary in Baltimore, said Cardinal Keeler "put Baltimore on the map in the Catholic Church".

Cardinal Keeler was very involved in both interreligious and ecumenical activities, as well as the pro-life movement.

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