Saturday, April 01, 2006

Thank You Cardinal George!

Last Tuesday, The Daily Southtown printed an opinion piece by me asking Cardinal George to step in and help Queen of Peace Principal Patty Nolan Fitzgerald remain with her young women at the school and continue to make such a great impact on young lives. Mrs. Fitzgerald was dismissed last month by the Queen of Peace board of directors.

Ignoring the over-whelming support of students, staff, Alumnae and Catholics at large in the southland community, the board of director chose to play hard-ball: ignoring phone calls, e-mails, protests, and going so far as to order students and staff to cease and desist in this matter.

I have great personal and professional regard for Patty Nolan Fitzgerald. I wrote a very strong letter in order to get the Cardinal's attention, arguing that Illinois legislation creating ' a corporation sole' for the Chicago Archdiocese in the 1840's was enough of a hammer to make a difference. I went so far as to use the Cardinal's own words as leverage in the argument to make a phone call in Mrs. Fitzgerald's cause.

The fact of the matter is that the Archbishop of Chicago can not legally dictate to separate corporations calling themselves Catholic: Loyola University, DePaul University, Alexian Brothers Hospital and those schools operated under a corporate trusteeship like Queen of Peace( run by Carmelites, Augustinians, Jesuits, and the Sinsinawa Dominicans). The Cardinal can, and will admonish as Chicago's leading minister and priest.

On Friday night at about 6 P.M., Cardinal George called me at my home to discuss the matters facing Patty Nolan Fitzgerald, the young women of Queen of Peace, and all Catholics in our area so effected by the summary dismissal of a great Catholic educator.

We talked for a good twenty minutes and Cardinal George straightened me out about his powers and their many limitations. It was like talking to one of the guys working the parish festival, or a Mom working Market Days. The entire time we spoke Cardinal George exacted as much information about the situation at Queen of Peace from me as was in my powers to give. I mentioned that the Daily Southtown more than any other Chicago news medium, kept the struggle for justice at Queen of Peace in the public eye.

Cardinal spoke of the limits he has in the matter and said ' I'll make a call to the Provincial of the Sinsinawa Dominicans and make note of the concerns people have in this matter.' Instead, of dressing down one of his employees - I work for a school that is an Archdiocesan school - Cardinal George was more concerned about the injustice done to one of his Faith. The Cardinal is going to do what is in his power to do. He'll talk to the Head of the Sinsisnaw Dominicans, but that does not mean they will do as he asks. However, after my conversation with this great priest, I feel that Cardinal George's powers of persuasion may be enough. I feel like I did when I received my First Holy Communion - the Cardinal recharged my Faith in a loving and resilient Church.

Francis Cardinal George, the Thirteenth Bishop of Chicago, is my priest. Say what you want about Cardinal George and I will have an answer for you - He is a Great Shepherd!