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Conway, Patrick Joseph
Kennedy, Julia Agnes
Keeler, Thomas L.
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Keeler, Cardinal William


Keeler, Cardinal William


bullet  General Notes:

His Eminence William Henry Cardinal Keeler (born March 4, 1931, in San Antonio, Texas) was the
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Baltimore from 1989 until his retirement in 2007. He was named a Cardinal in 1994.

bullet  Cardinal Keeler's Biography

William Henry Keeler was born March 4, 1931, in San Antonio, Texas, the son of Thomas L. Keeler and Margaret T. (Conway) Keeler. He was raised in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, where he attended St. Mary School and Lebanon Catholic High School. He received a B.A. from St. Charles Seminary, Overbrook, Philadelphia, in 1952 and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1956.

He was ordained a priest on July 17, 1955, in the Church of the Holy Apostles, Rome. On returning from Rome in 1956, he became assistant pastor at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Marysville, Pennsylvania, and secretary of the diocesan Tribunal. In 1958 he was assigned to study Canon Law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and in 1961 received his doctorate from that institution. During the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) he served as secretary to Bishop George L. Leech and was appointed a peritus to the Council.

In the years following the Council he served as Vice Chancellor, Chancellor, and Vicar General in the Harrisburg diocese. He was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Harrisburg on September 21, 1979, and installed as the Bishop of Harrisburg on January 4, 1984. Bishop Keeler was named the 14th Archbishop of Baltimore in 1989 and appointed to the College of Cardinals by the late Pope John Paul II in November 1994.

An influential participant in a wide range of national and international issues, Cardinal Keeler was elected President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the United States Catholic Conference in November 1992. He had been elected as the organizations' Vice President in November of 1989, when he hosted Baltimore's bicentennial celebration of the founding of America's first Roman Catholic diocese.

As part of his work with the NCCB, Cardinal Keeler developed a reputation for effectively building interfaith bonds. He is particularly noted for his work in furthering Catholic-Jewish dialogue and served for more than twenty years as moderator of Catholic-Jewish relations for the USCCB. He has been a member of the International Catholic Orthodox Commission for Theological Dialogue since 1986. As Chair of the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs from 1984 to November 1987, he helped arrange the Pope's meetings with Jewish leaders in Miami and with Protestant leaders in Columbia, S.C., during the 1987 papal visit. The Archbishop was appointed to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in the summer of 1994, and to the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in November 1994. From 1998-2001 and again from 2003-2006, he served as Chair for the Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

During his time as Archbishop of Baltimore, Cardinal Keeler made the strengthening of the Catholic school system a priority. His Partners in Excellence scholarship program, begun in 1996, had at the time of his retirement raised over $16 million in tuition assistance for at-risk children. He also has been a vigilant leader of the pro-life movement and an outspoken advocate for expanded evangelization throughout the Catholic community. In 1992 the Cardinal initiated the Lenten Appeal, a giving campaign that by early 2010 had raised over $70 million in support of area Catholic schools, the needs of the less fortunate, and a variety of spiritual development efforts.

Cardinal Keeler with Pope Benedict XVI

The Cardinal is also responsible for the effort to restore America's first cathedral, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore. Work to restore the Basilica began in 2004 and was completed by November 2006, in time for the 200th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone. As a result of the Cardinal's leadership, the vast majority of the $32 million cost has been financed through private donations.


  • Lebanon Valley College
  • Mount St. Mary's
  • Gettysburg College
  • Susquehanna University
  • Gannon University, Erie, Pennsylvania
  • Loyola College, Baltimore
  • St. Mary's College of Minnesota, Winona, Minnesota
  • Shippensburg State University, Pennsylvania
  • Elizabethtown College, Pennsylvania
  • University of Notre Dame, South Bend
  • Ateneo University, Philippines
  • College of Notre Dame of Maryland, Baltimore
  • Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio
  • Viterbo University, LaCrosse, Wisconsin
  • Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • bullet   In December 2007 the following article appeared in the magazine America.

    America - The National Catholic Weekly
    Drew Christiansen, S.J., is editor in chief of America
    December 10, 2007

    Yad, Rabbi Joel Meier explained to an audience of Jewish and Catholic leaders, "means 'hand' in Hebrew." By extension it refers to a pointer lectors use as they read the Torah before a congregation. The occasion for his remark on Nov. 19 was the conclusion of the semi-annual meeting of the National Council of Synagogues, an association of Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist Jewish leaders, with the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs. The rabbi was presenting a "yad" to Cardinal William H. Keeler in gratitude for 20 years of leadership in Catholic-Jewish relations.

    It was a quiet, low-key transition, suited to the man it honored. For Cardinal Keeler, the archbishop emeritus of Baltimore, is a soft-spoken, modest gentleman, whose plain words are carefully chosen. It would be easy to mistake him for just another Catholic prelate. But when the history of the Catholic Church in the late 20th century is written, his achievements will stand above those of many. More than anyone else, he has been responsible for the progress of the U.S. church in ecumenical and interfaith affairs, and above all for unique advances in Catholic-Jewish relations that made this special relationship a model for the world.

    With calm determination, he has fostered those relations, earning the respect and affection of the Jewish community. Whether the climate was stormy or sunny, he was tireless in meeting with local Jewish groups around the country. With sureness of purpose, he worked with American Jewish leaders through crises, like the controversy over the Carmelite convent at Auschwitz in the mid-90s. When Jewish defense groups complained about Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah's defense of Palestinian rights, he would calmly urge them to meet the patriarch in person; and when Patriarch Sabbah planned visits to the United States, the cardinal would quietly offer to arrange meetings for him with his Jewish friends.

    In 1983 Cardinal Keeler became chairman of the Bishops' Committee on Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs. After his term as N.C.C.B./U.S.C.C. president concluded, he again became the moderator for Jewish relations; and after a split between the Orthodox Jewish leadership and the Reform and Conservative rabbis and lay leaders, he co-chaired the dialogue with the National Council of Synagogues, the Reform-Conservative umbrella organization. (First the late Cardinal John J. O'Connor and more recently Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre have chaired the dialogue with Orthodox Judaism.)

    When Bishop Keeler of Harrisburg took over as moderator of Catholic-Jewish relations from Bishop Francis Mugavero of Brooklyn in 1987, plans were underway for Pope John Paul II's second visit to the United States. About six weeks before the visit the Austrian president, Kurt Waldheim, a former Nazi officer whose unit had participated in killing Jews, visited the pope at the Vatican. A storm of protest went up from the Jewish community. Bishop Keeler was at the heart of negotiations that put the pope's anticipated meeting with American Jewish leaders during the visit back on track. At the same time, he helped Jewish leaders resolve a dispute among themselves about where in Miami they would meet the pope.

    Similarly, as a member of the Dialogue of [Eastern] Orthodox and Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Keeler, even in difficult times, always found ways to sustain relations. In 1997, after Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew had given a provocative address at Georgetown University, the cardinal offered the patriarch an irenic welcome in Baltimore and soon after hosted one of the more contentious meetings of the International Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue at Mount Saint Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. Afterward he worked steadily to re-gather the group and re-establish the dialogue. That Catholic-Orthodox relations are now on a steadier, more positive course is due, in large part, to Cardinal Keeler's fidelity to the cause of Christian unity.

    Among his other accomplishments were gaining the bishops' approval to fund and staff interreligious dialogue, resulting in solid Islamic relations; interreligious collaboration for peace; and the formation of Christian Churches Coming Together in the USA, a Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical forum on public issues.

    Drew Christiansen, S.J., is editor in chief of America



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