(CBS) — Mourners outside Holy Name Cathedral shared their memories of Cardinal Francis George.

Thursday’s funeral mass required a ticket, and the attendees included regular parishioners and Catholic clergy.

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“He was a wonderful, wonderful mentor and friend to me,” Sister Anita Baird told CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley.

Baird served as the cardinal’s assistant when he first returned to his hometown of Chicago as archbishop.

“He loved the city. He did. He said he was Francis, our neighbor, and I think he really felt that way,” she said.

Cardinal George’s background as a native Chicagoan also made him special to Maria Gutierrez.

“He had a special connection with all Chicagoans and all the Catholic people of Chicago,” she said.

Others praised George for how he handled perhaps the most difficult issue during his watch: the sex abuse crisis.

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“He didn’t push it under the rug like other cardinals or bishops in other states. He went at it head on,” Liz Mago said.

A longtime deacon at Holy Name considered the cardinal a trusted friend.

“He tried to be kind to everyone, and he was gentle,” Giulio Camerini said.

Cardinal George was a stickler on church  policy but some priests also remember him for his sense of humor.



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