Cardinal George celebrates final Mass at Holy Name Cathedral

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Francis Cardinal George celebrated his last Sunday Mass at Holy Name Cathedral as Chicago's archbishop. (WLS)

The installation of Chicago's next archbishop, Blase Cupich, is two days away and on Sunday, Francis Cardinal George celebrated his last Sunday Mass at Holy Name Cathedral as Chicago's archbishop.

For a final time, Cardinal George led Mass as the leader of Chicago's archdiocese and its over two million Catholics. Of those who have held the position before, George is the first to step down while still alive.

Sunday, the faithful at Holy Name Cathedral expressed their gratitude for George's commitment to service.

The church bells at Holy Name Cathedral signal the end of an era for Chicago's Catholics.

"It's mixed emotions, the past and moving forward," said parishioner Rose Guerrero.

Sunday Cardinal George presided over his last public Mass as archbishop of Chicago.

"He's made a big impact here in Chicago and I hope he continues to do so, God willing with his health," parishioner Amy Moyer said.

Cardinal George is retiring as the eighth archbishop of Chicago as he battles his third bout of cancer.

When he was appointed back in 1997, he began the first Chicago area native to hold the title and elevated to cardinal by Pope John Paul II the next year.

The 77-year-old, who is a few months into an experimental cancer therapy, was on crutches Sunday morning as he delivered a message of thanks to parishioners, calling the people of the archdiocese his legacy.

"Have I invested myself in the people, that they are better able to know and live their faith, able to worship God in spirit and it truth, able to give themselves to the salvation of others? Yes," he said.

Last week, George ordered the release of once secret documents of 36 priests accused of child sexual abuse. The scandal is just one of the controversial issues the cardinal has dealt with during his 17-year tenure.

"He's had a lot of challenges and stuck through it all," said parishioner Nicholas Tedeschi.

After receiving gifts from the parish, the congregation applauded the cardinal as he left the sanctuary to greet church-goers, including one man who made an unusual request while saying goodbye to the his eminence.

"Job well done, please pray for the Bears," Herman Murden said.

For his part Cardinal George remains humble and hopeful as he embraces a new life.

"When people tell me that I have helped them to grow spiritually, I believe them," he said.

George says he plans to remain in Chicago. He says he will remain in prayer and believing in the power of God.

Cardinal George will preside over a private Mass Monday night for the archbishop-designate who will be officially installed Tuesday.

Join ABC7 for live coverage of the installation of Blase Cupich as Chicago's next archbishop with a special report starting Tuesday afternoon at 1 p.m. The installation can also be seen on

Related Topics:
religioncatholic churchchicago archdioceseChicago - Gold CoastChicago - River North
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