By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
MUNDELEIN, Ill. — Deacon Guillermo Trevino, who will be ordained a priest June 6 for the Davenport Diocese, posted on Facebook a memory of Cardinal Francis George, OMI, who died April 17 at his Chicago home.
“Rest in Peace, Cardinal George, who passed away today,” Deacon Trevino began. “At a golf banquet 5 years ago, I tried to sell him raffle tickets. He bought $100 worth and told me to put my mother’s name on them. Though my mom didn’t win, it meant the world to her and me that he’d do that for someone he never met. Eternal Rest grant unto him, O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him.”
Deacon Trevino, who is completing studies at Mundelein Seminary, was attending a jubilee Mass in the main chapel the morning Cardinal George died. Archbishop Blase Cupich, the cardinal’s successor as archbishop of the Chicago Archdiocese, presided at the jubilee Mass for alumni celebrating 25th and 50th anniversaries as priests. The seminary is in the Chicago Archdiocese.
A group photo was taken afterwards; then Archbishop Cupich left because of an emergency. Father Robert Barron, the seminary’s rector, left a short time later. Deacon Trevino admits he was puzzled until he heard during the banquet that Cardinal George had died. Bells were to ring 78 times that evening in honor of the 78-year-old American churchman, the seminarian said.
Deacon Trevino occasionally saw Cardinal George who led the archdiocese for 17 years before retiring last year due to ill health. “He would come several times a year for banquets, Masses, graduation,” the deacon said.
“Cardinal George meant to me a man who persevered in doing God’s will. As a teenager he was turned down by the Archdiocese of Chicago because of his health issues dealing with polio. But he believed he had a religious vocation so he joined the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) and became a religious order priest. He eventually came back to Chicago as archbishop. Later in his life, he fought cancer several times with that same perseverance.
“As I prepare for priesthood in less than two months, I think of him as a man who followed God and let God lead him to where he needed to be. I, too, hope to follow the road God opens for me.
“My impression is that Cardinal George always made time for people. In my photo with seminarian Ross Epping, who anticipates being ordained a deacon for the Davenport Diocese in June, there were 91 candidates for priesthood, yet Cardinal George stood for photos for all of them.
“When Father Marty Goetz was the Davenport Diocese’s vocations director, he took a group of youths to Mundelein and I remember hearing that they met the cardinal. I worked in the kitchen several years as a student worker and one of the kitchen workers wanted to meet Cardinal George. He spoke to her in Spanish. No matter the variety of people, the cardinal was always there for the people.”