'Regular person' Cardinal George takes final resting place in Des Plaines
Whether they knew him or not, those who gathered for Cardinal Francis George's burial at a Des Plaines cemetery Thursday afternoon say the Chicago native left a mark on them and the church he led.
The burial service at All Saints Cemetery followed a funeral procession from Holy Name Cathedral and past St. Pascal Parish in Chicago, where George attended Mass as a boy and later was ordained a priest. Among the 300 or so gathered at the cemetery were family, priests and nuns, as well as everyday Catholics who came to pay their final respects.
It was George's wish that he be buried next to his parents, Francis and Julia, and maternal grandmother, Lucy McCarthy. Other archbishops of Chicago are interred at the Bishops' Mausoleum at Mount Carmel Cemetery in West suburban Hillside, or on the grounds of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Mundelein.
Deidre Dorgan-Collins of Park Ridge, a cousin of George, came to the cemetery with other family members to see his casket lowered into the ground.
"I think it's his humility," Dorgan-Collins said of the cardinal wanting to be buried at the family plot. "He was just a regular person. A good and faithful servant."
Even as George rose in leadership through the church and traveled the world, he stayed in contact with family back home in Chicago, she said.
When her mother was ill and in the hospital, George called.
"It's Frannie. How's your mother?" Dorgan-Collins recalls George saying.
When Dorgan-Collins' father became sick, George came to the hospital to give a blessing. The cardinal later officiated at his funeral.
Dorgan-Collins said she remembers attending George's ordination at St. Pascal when she was 14. Seeing him years later become the eighth archbishop of Chicago was an important moment for the family.
"All the cousins were very proud of him," she said.
Standing nearby was Jim Brantman of Deerfield, who often encountered the cardinal in the hallways of the Archbishop Quigley Center in downtown Chicago, where he works in the building maintenance department.
"He was a very nice man. He was genuine. We talked a lot," Brantman said. "If there was something I needed a prayer for, he would say a prayer, or remember that while saying Mass."
Even those who didn't know the cardinal personally say they were touched by him, particularly when he would come to say Mass at their local parish.
Jerry Noonan, who works at a social service agency in Des Plaines, said he came to the burial service as a sign of respect and to "say a prayer or two." He met George briefly when the cardinal came to Our Lady of the Woods Parish in South suburban Orland Park.
"I think he was a wonderful guy. Some thought he was cold. But deep down he was a wonderful pastor," Noonan said.
James Stanislas of Des Plaines recalls shaking the cardinal's hand after Mass at St. Zachary Parish, where he gave a powerful Homily.
"The way Jesus preached his word -- he brought to us," Stanislas said of George. "The pope chose the right person for us. The pope sent the right person to the city of Chicago."