CHICAGO (CBS) — Thousands of mourners were expected to visit Holy Name Cathedral on Tuesday, as a two-day visitation begins for Cardinal Francis George, the retired archbishop of Chicago, who died on Friday.
Doors at Holy Name open to the public at 1 p.m., followed by what’s called the rite of reception at 2 p.m., when George’s body will be officially welcomed back to the cathedral where he presided over the Catholic Church in Chicago for 17 years. Visitation for the late cardinal will be held from 2:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. There will be a prayer vigil reserved for members of the clergy, from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
A second day of visitation was scheduled for Wednesday, followed by a funeral mass on Thursday for the first Chicago native to serve as the city’s archbishop, and the first priest ever to retire as head of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Rev. Bradley Zamora, the last priest ever ordained by Cardinal George, offered xxx for the departed bishop. Zamora said he’s been thinking of the cardinal since learning of George’s passing on Friday.
“Today is special, because the city that he loved so much – a city that he grew up in, and a city that he was blessed to shepherd for 17 years – comes together to say thank you,” Zamora said.
For him, George’s death was something like losing a spiritual father figure. It’s a loss that has been felt far outside the walls of Archdiocese rectories and convents.
“To see the love that’s been poured out already in the last number of days, and the love that will continue to be poured out – not only for him, but for his family, his personal family, and the church of Chicago – is just remarkable,” Zamora said.
Susan Tassone not only lost her bishop, she also lost her boss, since she worked for George in the Catholic Mission Office for years.
She describe him as “somebody you want to get close to that opened his heart, and was always willing to listen; and when you did talk to him, he zeroed in on you, and there was nobody else around you, which I was really touched by that.”
Tassone said George was a humble man who loved cookies and a good laugh. She said his humility was exemplified by his decision to retire, and by his decision to be buried next to his parents, rather than in a massive marble mausoleum.
She said it was also on display at mass, when he would often shake the hands of hundreds or even thousands of parishioners.
“He stayed until he shook every person’s hands. He had contact with everybody. So he was for the people when he was with us,” she said.
George’s funeral on Thursday is by invitation only, but CBS 2 will have live coverage Thursday starting at 11 a.m.
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