Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic laid to rest in Toronto Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/national/Cardinal+Aloysius+Ambrozic+laid+rest+Toronto/5336094/story.html#ixzz1YEG26ZOV
Sept 17, 2011
TORONTO — A few minutes before the funeral mass for Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic at St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto on Wednesday morning — before the procession of 40 bishops to the altar, the rising voices of the choir, and the puffs of incense floating through the pews — a small ritual took place that might have easily been missed by many of the more than 1,000 worshippers in attendance.
Father Michael Busch, the rector of the cathedral, approached the open casket at the foot of the altar and carefully removed the Cardinal's mitre and ring — and then the casket was closed for good.
The tiny ritual of removing the signs of office signified the end of Ambrozic's earthly mission and the start, as Catholics believe, of his soul's ascent to God.
Ambrozic, who died Friday at 81, rose from the ranks of Slovenian refugees who fled totalitarianism at the end of the Second World War to attain the upper reaches of the Roman Catholic Church.
"What happened to him was beyond, beyond what anyone in the Slovenian community could have hoped for," said Vida Jan, who stood outside the cathedral with several hundred mourners who could not find a seat inside. "We were all refugees and poor people. It meant everything to us."
He was made archbishop of Toronto in 1990, made a cardinal in 1998 and was part of the conclave in 2005 that chose Pope Benedict XVI. He also hosted World Youth Day in 2002, an event that drew more than 750,000 pilgrims to Toronto to worship with Pope John Paul II. He reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 in 2006.
Along with bishops from across Canada, as well as Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte of Montreal and Bishop Anton Stres of Slovenia, in attendance were such civic leaders as Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Mayor Hazel McCallion of Mississauga, west of Toronto.
Some of those who knew him said he never wanted to be in the limelight and that his duties as archbishop of Toronto and as a cardinal were not positions he courted but accepted out of a sense of duty to the church.
"The vision of hope that he lived and proclaimed was expressed more quietly and more profoundly thorough a life of daily fidelity to his mission as disciple, pastor and apostle," Archbishop Thomas Collins said of his predecessor in his homily. He said Ambrozic looked "for a simple readiness to sacrifice, a simple readiness to give of oneself" in all his priests.
Many spoke of him as a man who had deep compassion but could appear outwardly cold, someone who found small talk painful and found it difficult to be gregarious.
"What I learned about him was that the public demeanour was not the man," said Joseph Sinasac, who was publisher and editor of the Catholic Register under Ambrozic. "He came across as someone rather aloof, stern and doctrinaire, but the man himself was someone much fairer than you would think."
He said there were a lot of similarities between Ambrozic and Pope Benedict. Both followed men who had outgoing personalities and loved the limelight — Cardinal Emmett Carter and Pope John Paul II — and both were essentially private people who were professors and intellectuals.
"I think Cardinal Ambrozic found it very challenging to talk in everyday language and to make small talk," said Sinasac. "He never liked to speak about himself, but if you asked him to talk about a book he was reading then he was most comfortable."
Despite any misgivings about taking on more public roles, Ambrozic would have never questioned doing what he was asked to do by the church, said Sinasac.
"He believed in duty and service," he said. "He would never talk the language of self-fulfilment. He talked about that your role in life is to do what was asked of you."