Cardinal George funeral Mass, burial concludes 3 days of memorials

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Three days of memorials for Francis Cardinal George concluded with a funeral Mass at Holy Name Cathedral and burial at All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines Thursday.

PHOTOS: Cardinal George Funeral Mass

Bishops and cardinals from across the country as well as Gov. Bruce Rauner, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle were among those in attendance for the cardinal's invitation-only funeral Mass that began at noon.

"The only thing we take with us when we die is what we have given away," said Archbishop Peter Sartain of the Archdiocese of Seattle, quoting Cardinal George during the homily. Reflecting on the cardinal's legacy, Sartain later said, "Everything he gave us was not his at all, but the living truth of Christ."

VIDEO: Cardinal George funeral homily

After the cardinal's casket left Holy Name Cathedral, mourners soon followed, their hearts filled with gratitude.

"It's a very moving experience to be part of this kind of celebration," said Annmarie Gesualdo, a funeral attendee.

"He was a spiritual father, he was very warm, very loving, he cared about the parishes, he cared about the people," said Twanna Bolling, a funeral attendee. "If he met you and you told him things about yourself and you saw him again, he'd remember it."

Immediately following Mass, the procession went to All Saints Cemetery in northwest suburban Des Plaines for a committal service. Before he died, the cardinal asked to be buried in his family's plot.

A few hundred people of all ages gathered to pay their respects to the cardinal at the cemetery. Auxiliary Bishop Francis Kane, Archdiocese of Chicago, said the cardinal was a son of Chicago who chose to be buried among his family and his people.

"I hope we will remember the values he stood for, the determination that he had, and even his hearty, uninhibited laugh that betrayed a sense of humor that he often kept hidden," Archbishop Francis Kane said. "But above all, I hope we will remember his faith."

VIDEO: Final Commendation at funeral for Cardinal George


Thursday will be especially memorable for some children at the St. Mary of the Lake in the city's Buena Park neighborhood.

The students gathered to mourn Cardinal Francis George as the Thursday Mass was dedicated to remembering him for his generosity and strength.

"We follow Cardinal George's example of life, love for other people and in death, calm and loving and then resurrection," said Rev. James Kastigar, St. Mary of the Lake Church.

The death of the cardinal affected the Uptown neighborhood elementary school, which had a special relationship with the man who was leader of 2.3 million Catholics in Cook and Lake counties.

St. Mary's made up of first-generation immigrants families and, over the years, the school's choir performed for Cardinal George.

"We certainly never thought we'd be burying our archbishop on the day of this baptism but it all came together, I guess God has bigger plans than we do," said Christine Boyd, St. Mary of the Lake School principal.

And on the same day he would be laid to rest, six students who attend the North Side school received the name Francis as a part of their baptismal name.

Thursday morning's Mass along with the baptismal ceremony were planned weeks ago but happened to coincide with George's passing.

"The priest before said it's like the beginning of life so that's why it's special to me," said Sarah Teteje, a baptismal candidate.

And so will many others here including eighth grader Calvin Henaku, who viewed the cardinal's funeral mass at Holy Name Cathedral.

"I think we could all learn from the lesson of his to just keep on trying," said Calvin Henaku, a student.

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