Cardinal William H. Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore is recovering today after being involved in a car accident which left one priest dead and another injured. The Cardinal’s car was sideswiped while the three were traveling through Terni, Italy.
According to a press release from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Cardinal was vacationing with the two priests, both longtime friends when their car was struck. Fr. Bernard Quinn, 78, a retired priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg was killed and Msgr. Thomas Smith, 75, pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, suffered broken ribs. The Cardinal sustained a broken ankle.
According to the archdiocese, Cardinal Keeler and Msgr. Smith remain hospitalized and continue to receive treatment for their injuries.
Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Harrisburg told Baltimore’s NBC affiliate that in a phone conversation with Keeler on Sunday, the cardinal told him that just before Saturday’s accident, "Father Quinn started talking about how happy he was and how much he was at peace in his life and he even said, 'I'll be ready to meet the Lord whenever he calls me'.”
The accident occurred on Saturday, but was not made public until last night, in order to allow the family of Fr. Quinn to be notified, the Baltimore Sun has reported. The cardinal was previously scheduled to return to the United States on Saturday, though his travel plans are now unknown.
All three men served together in the diocese of Harrisburg. And according to the Baltimore Sun, the three men were friends who often vacationed together.
Cardinal Keeler was a priest and then bishop of the diocese of prior to his appointment as Archbishop of Baltimore in 1989.
Fr. Quinn was ordained a priest for the Glenmary Home Missioners in 1953, and served in the Diocese of Harrisburg for many years before being made a priest of the diocese in 1990. He served in several diocesan parishes until his retirement in 2001. At the time of his death he was in residence at Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Lancaster where he assisted with parish duties.
Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Harrisburg and the Auxiliary Bishops of Baltimore, Bishop W. Francis Malooly, Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, and Bishop Denis J. Madden, are requesting prayers for the repose of the soul of Fr. Bernard Quinn, as well as for the complete and speedy recovery of Cardinal Keeler and Msgr. Smith.