Institute award marks years of service to Church

By Lou Baldwin
Special to The CS&T

PHILADELPHIA – Cardinal John P. Foley, who recently retired as grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, was honored for his many years of service to the Church at a Catholic Philopatrian Literary Institute reception April 14.

Cardinal Foley, who served as editor of The Catholic Standard & Times before going to Rome as an archbishop and president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, a position he held for 23 years until his 2007 appointment as grand master and subsequent elevation to the rank of cardinal. {{more}}

“I’m flattered and humbled by this,” Cardinal Foley said at the reception, held in the beautifully refurbished ballroom of the Philo’s Walnut Street headquarters in Center City Philadelphia. The Cardinal noted he was previously honored in 1990 when he was given the Philo’s prestigious Sourin Award, named for Father Edward Sourin who founded the club in 1850, primarily to foster education among young Catholic men.

This was not his only connection with the institute. He recalled his friend and Philo member Bob Simms once asking him, “How come you never mention to the Philos the scholarship you received from them to attend Columbia University?”

That was back in 1965-66 when he was sent to Columbia to pursue a master’s degree in journalism.

“I was sent by the diocese and I went; I didn’t know my education was being paid for by somebody else,” Cardinal Foley said. “Belatedly, I thank you. I hope I turned out well.”

During his time at Columbia, Pope Paul VI became the first pope to visit the United Nations, and the Cardinal covered the visit for The Catholic Standard & Times. Since then, he has returned for all the other papal visits to the U.N., two by Pope John Paul II and one by Pope Benedict XVI.

The Philos, Cardinal Foley noted, is the oldest Catholic lay organization in the country. “I think you can be very proud of that,” he said.

Calling attention to recent court decisions, which in a break from the past have suggested some forms of government funding for nonpublic schools is permissible, Cardinal Foley said, “It might be good for you as inspaniduals interested in the Church, loyal to the nation and interested in Catholic education, to see what can be done.”

American Catholics know him best for his role as English language commentator for papal Masses at Christmas and Easter and other liturgies including on Good Friday. Cardinal Foley would have liked to remain in Rome as commentator for the May 1 beatification of Pope John Paul II, but due to his recent health concerns, he submitted his resignation to the Pope. The Cardinal now lives at Villa St. Joseph, Darby, the archdiocesan facility for retired and convalescent priests.

Health permitting, Cardinal Foley has agreed to do the local commentary on the beatification ceremony. He said if anyone is up at 4 a.m. until 6:30 a.m. on May 1, they can turn on KYW-AM or CBS-TV to watch the live ceremony or listen to it on the radio.

Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.