|Posted: 1/23/2013 8:16:14 AM|
As you may have heard, Stan Musial, a hero of baseball fame and a beloved person in St. Louis, passed away this past weekend. This article appeared on a local site today:
When St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson celebrates Stan Musial's funeral Mass at the Cathedral Basilica Saturday, one of his presiding bishops will be Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Dolan, 62, may be one of the Catholic church's most powerful American prelates, but he's also a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan. As a kid growing up in Ballwin, one of his biggest heroes was Stan Musial.
On Sunday, Dolan brought a Cardinals cap, autographed by Musial, to St. Patrick's Cathedral as a prop in his homily. He spoke about the prayer intentions Catholics should be mindful of â€” the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision.
And then he spoke about one of his heroes.
Another intention swirling around in my heart, if you don't mind me getting personal, is the sad news about the passing of a great American and a great athlete, Stan Musial.
Growing up in St. Louis as I did, you can imagine what he means to me. I can remember meeting him when I was 10 years of age and it's as if it were yesterday when I went up to him and I said, â€œHi, Stan.â€ And he rustled my hair and he said, â€œHow are you, Slugger?â€ I will never forget that.
And just last year, about this time when I was named a cardinal and had to go get the red hat from Benedict XVI.â€
At this point, Dolan pulled out his Cardinals hat.
Stan sent me this one and he said, â€œHere's a real red hat, all right?â€ It's autographed by him and obviously I'll cherish it more than ever now with his passing.
The last time I saw him was last May when I went back to my hometown of St. Louis at the invitation of Archbishop Robert Carlson. He was gracious in inviting me back to celebrate in my hometown the fact that I had been made a cardinal. The very same Sunday I was home it was the wake of Lil Musial, Stan's wife of 71 years. And I remember going to the wake â€“ can you imagine, 71 years of faithful marriage, Stan and Lil Musial. I went to the wake to convey my sympathies, and I remember seeing Stan then, and I knew it would not be long before the Lord called him.
He was not only a great athlete, but he took his Catholic faith very seriously. And in fact tried his best to go to Mass and Holy Communion every day.
In fact, the story I love to tell about him: One time I was saying Mass, substituting at his parish church, and he was there. Afterward he said, â€œC'mon let's go out for breakfast.â€ And I can tell you when it was, it was 12 years ago because he was 80 years old then, and he was 92 when he died yesterday.
And I remember going out with him and we started talking about baseball. And I said, Stan if you were playing today, what do you think you'd bat?â€ Remember his lifetime batting average was .331.
And he said, â€œAhh. If I were playing today with everything â€” with a juiced up ball and bat and AstroTurf, I might hit .275.â€
And I said, â€œStan, I think you're selling yourself short â€” .275?â€
And he shrugged and said, â€œWell, I'm 80.â€
After delivering the punchline from the pulpit on Sunday, Dolan started laughing so hard he induced a coughing fit.
â€œSo, I gratefully remember Stan,â€ the cardinal said, after pulling himself together.