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Cardinal Francis George was drawn to be a priest since childhood

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Updated: January 24, 2014 6:25AM

At a public Mass on Sunday commemorating his 50 years in the priesthood, Cardinal Francis George shared he didn’t experience any “great sign” that led him to become a priest.

As he presided over the Mass at Holy Name Cathedral, he said he first felt something in his heart when he received his first Holy Communion. After 50 years as a priest, the role for him still works, he said.

“Each Sunday, as I go from parish to parish, I meet holy people, members of God’s family,” he shared. “The gospel is preached. The sacraments . . . are celebrated. . . . It works.”

He used the occasion to turn the spotlight on other priests.

“They are life givers in the spirit,” he said. “Through their self sacrifice and ministry, priests govern God’s family and they restore relationships that have been weakened or broken.”

The Mass followed a private Golden Jubilee Mass in George’s honor held Wednesday that drew Catholic church officials from across the country.

Among those on hand at Sunday’s public celebration was Matt Wagner, 43, of Edgewater. He came out because of the anniversary. It’s significant, he said, noting, “It’s a half century, a dedication of 50 years to the calling that he had as a priest.”

Dustin Schadt, who also attended the service with his wife and five young children, shared similar views.

“It’s quite a challenge to be ordained and be able to continue to pastor 50 years,” he said.

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