Margaret Cain, the cardinal's sister, receives Communion from him during Mass. Close to 100 bishops and six cardinals joined Cardinal George at a Mass to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of his priestly ordination, at Holy Name Cathedral on Dec. 18. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)
Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States, addresses the congregation at the end of Mass. Standing behind him is Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and archbishop of Louisville, Ky. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)
Bishops process into Holy Name Cathedral on Dec. 18 for Cardinal George's anniversary Mass. Six cardinals attended the service along with more than 90 bishops, 200 priests, 35 deacons and many laypeople and religious. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)
Cardinal George celebrates the Eucharist with (from left) Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Cardinal William Levada, Cardinal Justin Rigali and Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)
A knight of the Holy Sepulchre holds a banner as he looks up the aisle during the Dec. 18 Mass. In front of him are Ladies of St. Peter Claver and Knights of Columbus. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)
Children from archdiocesan Catholic schools bring up the gifts during Mass. Close to 100 bishops and six cardinals joined Cardinal George at a Mass to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of his Priestly Ordination at Holy Name Cathedral on Dec. 18. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)
Cardinal George celebrated the golden anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood with an afternoon Mass Dec. 18 at Holy Name Cathedral. Six cardinals, more than 90 bishops, 200 priests and 35 deacons joined Cardinal George for the Mass, along with ecumenical and interfaith leaders, religious women and men and many laypeople.
Following the Mass, a dinner was held in the cardinal’s honor at the Drake Hotel.
“Trust in the goodness of God,” was the parting message from Cardinal George’s homily, a message he also visited during a gathering with priests on Dec. 11 to celebrate his anniversary. (See his column on Page 3 and story on Page 16.)
Calling on the themes of the day’s Gospel reading from Mt 1: 18-25, Cardinal George reflected on St. Joseph as a man who worked and dreamed.
“Joseph accepted as his own path God’s will for him and those God gave for him to love,” he said.
Joseph was the last of the Old Covenant patriarchs. “Priests are patriarchs of the new covenant,” he said.
Like Joseph, they work to meet the demands of God’s people and they dream for the coming of God’s kingdom.
“Fifty years ago I never dreamt — and you didn’t either if you were there with me — that I would be celebrating this ordination anniversary at the altar of Holy Name Cathedral,” Cardinal George told the congregation.
At the end of Mass, apostolic nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano addressed Cardinal George saying that wherever he has been his example has helped others develop more meaningful relationships with Christ.
Archbishop Vigano, the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States, said Cardinal George’s leadership and service “has been a great source of strength for the church.”
“We are all deeply in debt to you,” Archbishop Vigano said.
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and archbishop of Louisville, Ky., also addressed Cardinal George.
“We bishops of the United States have such a deep and abiding respect for you,” Archbishop Kurtz said, adding that it can be said that “we love you.”
He offered three reasons for that love: “You are a bishop’s bishop”; “Like Pope Francis, we see in you a generous heart and a zealous missionary spirit”; and “You are a humble man of vision.”
Many laypeople turned out to celebrate the anniversary Mass with Cardinal George.
Rayelle Weber, a longtime volunteer with Catholic Charities, said she came to the Mass to celebrate with him because of all the good work she has seen him do through Catholic Charities and “all the good he does not only for the Archdiocese of Chicago but for the City of Chicago as well and Lake County and other suburbs that we have services in.”
Chuck Hunt from St. Matthew Parish in Schaumburg agreed.
“We see him working so hard for the church and we just wanted to come down here and honor 50 years of service on his part for the church and for the Lord,” said
If given the chance, Hunt said he would thank the cardinal for saying “yes” to the Lord.
“This is a very challenging and huge archdiocese to run,” he said.