Cardinal Baum to return for visit

Thursday, September 13, 2001

Cardinal William Wakefield Baum will mark 50 years as a priest and 25 as a cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church during a Mass at 7 p.m. Friday at Old St. Vincent's Church in Cape Girardeau.

Baum, 74, served as an assistant to the first bishop of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese in 1962. He also assisted the bishop during sessions of the Vatican II council. He later served as bishop of the diocese from 1970 to 1973.

Baum is visiting the area for nostalgic reasons, said Monsignor Richard Rolwing of St. Mary's Cathedral. Often priests will visit the places where they previously served.

Many of the visiting priests include those who served with Baum during his tenure in the diocese, Rolwing said.

The visit will not be affected by the events Tuesday in the nation's capital and New York, despite delays in air travel, said Marilyn Vydra, communications director for the diocese office.

The Mass is open to the public and will include 34 priests marching in procession to the historic church. There also will be a trumpet fanfare announcing the procession and Mass. A reception is planned after the service at St. Mary's gymnasium.

Baum has had a celebrated career and is the first cardinal to return to Cape Girardeau for a celebration of his ordination. "We've had visits but never to celebrate an anniversary," Rolwing said. Cardinal Bernard Law of the Archdiocese of Boston is a frequent visitor and former bishop in the area.

Ordained in Kansas City

Baum was first ordained as priest in Kansas City, Mo., and served at St. Aloysius parish there. Five years later he went to Rome to continue his studies, completing a theology degree in 1958.

He was selected as the first executive director of the Commission for Ecumenical Affairs in Washington, D.C. The office was opened in 1965 after the U.S. Bishops Conference created a committee in 1964 to study the tasks and responsibilities of bishops.

Baum was named a bishop in 1970 by Pope Paul VI and was assigned to the Springfield-Cape Girardeau diocese. Three years later, the pope named him archbishop for the Washington, D.C., area, where he continued to work for Catholic education around the world. He was selected as a cardinal and returned to Rome and the Vatican City.

Bishops are selected by the pope based on their abilities and skills, Rolwing said.

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