Sunday, August 3, 2008
Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
I did not know the rural Wisconsin farm boy, youngest of six children, who entered the seminary, went off to Rome, and was ordained a priest by the late Pope John Paul II.
I met the priest who'd been in Rome as a canon lawyer and became a bishop, only to return to serve the people of his rural homeland in Wisconsin, the descendants of European immigrants in the American heartland along the banks of the Mississippi.
My husband had known Bishop Burke's three predecessors well, Bishops Treacy, Frekking and Paul. We had been given a special blessing by Bishop Paul shortly after our marriage prior to departing on our honeymoon. And my husband had known "Father Burke" prior to his departure to Rome as a member of the Diocese of La Crosse.
But I came to know him shortly after our marriage, meeting him for the first time when we attended an anniversary celebration for Marriage Encounter in Marathon, Wisconsin. I was struck then by his intelligence and the strength of his spirit, and came to know over the subsequent years the great depths of his holiness. Whether vacationing on the beach in Sanibel Island or ministering to his flock in central Wisconsin, he was always that rarest of things, a truly holy man.
It was always clear that God had great things in mind for this servant shepherd. And the Mother of God entrusted him with the great task of building a shrine to bring the faithful to her Son.
Divine providence took him in 2004 from the banks of the Mississippi in Wisconsin to the the banks of the Mississippi in Missouri, when he became Archbishop of Saint Louis, and now takes him again back to Rome, as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the chief judge of the highest canonical court of the Roman Catholic Church and Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Louis.
On November 20, 2010, he was elevated to the position of cardinal in the Holy Roman Catholic Church by Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke.
He will always be to us a treasured friend, someone tapped on the shoulder by the divine, servant of God and His people, devoted son to a loving mother, a leader, a visionary, an example.
Secundum cor tuum.