[singlepic id=160 w=320 h=240 float=right]Salt + Light Television extends deep sympathy to the family of Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, Archbishop emeritus of Toronto who died this morning at the age of 81 after a long illness. The late Cardinal was a priest for 56 years, bishop for 35 years and served as 9th Archbishop of Toronto from 1990 to 2006.
Cardinal Ambrozic was born in 1930 in Gaberje, Slovenia, the second of seven children. In May 1945, the entire family fled to Austria, living in several refugee camps, where the young Aloysius completed his high school education. In September 1948, the family immigrated to Canada and settled near Markham, Ontario. Shortly afterwards, Aloysius Ambrozic entered St. Augustine’s Seminary, a spiritual home he would return to often as a student, professor, bishop, archbishop and cardinal.
After almost 21 years as a diocesan priest, Fr. Ambrozic was named an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Toronto in 1976. Bishop Ambrozic served alongside Archbishop Philip Pocock and Emmett Cardinal Carter, before his appointment as Archbishop of Toronto on March 17, 1990. In January 1998, Pope John Paul II named him Cardinal, a position that resulted in his participation in the conclave of 2005 that elected Pope Benedict XVI.
Cardinal Ambrozic was a very reserved man who was thrust onto the national and international scenes through the great responsibilities entrusted to him by the Church. He never forgot his humble origins nor did he lose his common touch with ordinary people. In my capacity as Pastor and Executive Director of the Newman Centre from 1994-2000, and as National Director and CEO of World Youth Day 2002, I worked closely with the Cardinal on many projects. He was a scholar who loved the Scriptures and taught them well. His frequent visits to the Newman Centre to deliver lectures offered him the opportunity to put his long years of biblical scholarship into practice in a pastoral setting with young adults. He preached Jesus Christ to all of us. We attended countless meetings together as we planned for World Youth Day 2002. He told me several times that World Youth Day was one of the the greatest moments of his life.
One of my favorite sayings of the Cardinal is that which is featured on the Archdiocesan website:
It is Jesus to whom we look. It is Jesus whom we imitate.
It is Jesus whom we follow. It is Jesus who is with us so we can be with him.
Yes, we work with others. Yes, we learn from others.
But in Jesus we find our ultimate identity and purpose.
He is the Alpha and the Omega for each one of us and for every human being.
The above photo is my favorite one of the Cardinal, taken during the opening mass of Toronto's World Youth Day on July 23, 2002 at Exhibition Place.
We can only echo the words of Archbishop Thomas Collins, the Cardinal’s successor as Archbishop of Toronto, who expressed the heartfelt words of the entire Archdiocese of Toronto on this sad occasion:
“Cardinal Ambrozic's tremendous contributions to the spiritual life of the faithful of our Archdiocese and the heritage of his wisdom, his knowledge, and his love of the priesthood will remain with us all.”
May Cardinal Ambrozic rest in peace and intercede for us all.
Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.,
CEO, Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation