Monday, April 20, 2015

Cardinal George - Reflecting on a Humble, Gentle Shepherd

We were all saddened to learn of Cardinal George's death last week, but as Resurrection Women, we also trust that the Cardinal is now in an awesome place and enjoying his eternal visit with the "one" he waited his whole life to meet face to face, none other than the Risen Jesus!
Cardinal George is the only Cardinal I ever personally had the opportunity to meet with several times, and spend time in conversation with.  Those opportunities came to me when I was in health care ministry.  It was on those occasions that I came to realize and admire the truly pastoral side of the Cardinal.  He understood very well that his main role as bishop of the Archdiocese was first of all to be a shepherd to God's people. 
Leaders often get taken up with all the formal and business issues that come with their job, and rightly so.  But, I was so impressed by Cardinal George's presence to people and his willingness to stop and listen to others and to share a few words.  When we asked him to bless the new addition to Resurrection Medical Center he not only celebrated the Liturgy with us but he spent hours touring the hospital, stopping to speak with staff, patients and families.  He understood and cared about the pains others were feeling and he blessed them and promised his personal prayer for them.  He admired the doctors and nurses who dedicate their lives to helping others and he took the time to tell them so.
Perhaps my fondest memory is one that occurred just a few months after he became the Archbishop of Chicago.  It was the evening of the Resurrection Health Care Gala.  He was standing and waiting to give the blessing and prayer.  I was waiting to serve as the stand-in and give the welcome from our "head sister" who suddenly came down with the flu.  There were 1,000 guests and I was feeling quite intimidated.  I turned to the then Archbishop George and said:  "Your Eminence please say a prayer for me, I am scared to death of addressing this crowd."  Cardinal George looked kindly at me and said, "I'll pray for you if you pray for me.  Big crowds scare me to."  It was then that I knew he had the heart of a shepherd.  The brilliant man that he was, he was also humble and connected to others with his heart.
Thank you Cardinal George for all you taught us.  You have been a good shepherd!

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