Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Good Neighbor Joe

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Good Neighbor Joe

Article excerpt

American Catholics, especially Chicagoans, will think of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin this March 19, his patron saint's feast. Myriad memories of the cardinal, dead a quarter of a year now, linger lovingly.

I remember my last visit with Cardinal Bernardin in early morning, before dawn's first light. I entered Holy Name Cathedral, signed one of the visitation books, walked up the main aisle toward the cardinal's body, and rested my hand, ever so briefly, on his casket. Then I knelt in the third-row pew to watch and pray.

This high-ranking churchman was clad with the priest's vestments, a bishop's miter, a cardinal's ring. Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus--tuxedoed, caped, gloved, and plumed, silver swords at their sides--acted as Honor Guard. Even amid such splendor, however, I remembered his simplicity. This prince of the church kept formal moments familial. His neighborly humanity was ever present.

I suspect it was his neighborliness that brought so many people past the body of Bernardin. Full-length furs, down jackets, threadbare cloth coats, trench coats, polyester jackets, navy pea coats, sweatshirts. Mantillas, stocking caps, berets, babushkas, yarmulkes. …

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