News and Events

News Releases

Archdiocese of Chicago to Mark the 25th Anniversary of the Death of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin with Memorial Events on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2, 2021

November 14 marks the passing of the beloved pastor. Ecumenical and interreligious partners will be present for the commemoration honoring Cardinal Bernardin’s legacy and his relevance today.

Chicago, (Oct. 27, 2021) – The Archdiocese of Chicago will mark the 25th anniversary of the death of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin with two archdiocesan events. The beloved pastor died on Nov. 14, 1996 and his contributions to the Church and civic life will be commemorated by Catholics and a delegation of Christian and interreligious partners on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. during a remembrance “Now More Than Ever: The Enduring Prophetic Voice and Legacy of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin 25 Years after His Death” at Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N. State St., Chicago. On Nov. 2, All Souls’ Day, Cardinal Bernardin will be specially remembered during the Annual Memorial Mass for Deceased Bishops and Priests of the Archdiocese of Chicago at 12 p.m. at Holy Name Cathedral.

“Cardinal Bernardin left an enduring impact on the Catholic Church in Chicago, nationwide and globally,” said Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago. “His leadership inaugurated new initiatives and needed reforms, which continue to benefit the church’s engagement with the world as we carry on the mission of Christ. He was deeply committed to interreligious dialogue and understanding, the dignity of all human life and the hope for peace.”

During the commemoration, “Now More Than Ever: The Enduring Prophetic Voice and Legacy of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Twenty-five Years after His Death,” five speakers will address aspects of his legacy and its continuing relevance in today’s world. Rev. Scott Donohue, president and CEO of Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, will introduce the evening and the speakers. Monsignor Ken Velo, former executive secretary to Cardinal Bernardin, will offer an opening invocation. Sister Joan McGlinchey, vicar for religious, will conclude the evening with a prayer. The event will be in-person and available by live-stream at

Speakers include:

  • Steven P. Millies, director of the Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union, will reflect on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 1982 pastoral letter on peace, an initiative that Cardinal Bernardin directed and that had national and international ramifications.
  • Rev. J. Cletus Kiley, a close collaborator with Cardinal Bernardin, will explain the cardinal’s contributions to a renewed vision of ministers and ministry in the Church as well as the ways he was a forerunner in addressing the Catholic sexual-abuse crisis.
  • Andrew McKenna, a close collaborator with Cardinal Bernardin in founding the Big Shoulders Initiative, will highlight the cardinal’s commitment to Catholic education.
  • Rabbi Wendi Geffen, senior rabbi at North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, will speak about the way Cardinal Bernardin fostered ecumenical and interreligious relationships with a particular focus on his commitment to the Jewish community.
  • Cardinal Cupich will address Cardinal Bernardin’s consistent ethic of life, a vision of human life on a continuum from conception to natural death and how we are summoned to protect and nurture all human life, especially at its most vulnerable.

At the Annual Memorial Mass for Deceased Bishops and Priests of the Archdiocese of Chicago, on All Soul’s Day, Cardinal Bernardin will be specially remembered. The Mass will be in-person and available by live-stream at

Joseph Louis Bernardin was born on April 2, 1928 in Columbia, South Carolina, to a family of Italian immigrants. He was ordained a priest in 1952. At 38, he was named auxiliary bishop of Atlanta, becoming the youngest bishop in the country. In 1968, he became the general secretary of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (now the USCCB), a post he held until 1972. He was elected president of the NCCB (USCCB) in 1974, serving in that role until 1977. He was instrumental in founding one of the conference's most influential and successful programs, the anti-poverty Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

Pope Paul VI appointed Cardinal Bernardin archbishop of Cincinnati on Nov. 21, 1972 and he served there for nearly 10 years. He was installed as archbishop of Chicago on August 25, 1982 and was elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinals by Pope John Paul II on Feb. 2, 1983.

Cardinal Bernardin is remembered as a pioneer in Church’s efforts to reform clergy sexual abuse of children by implementing in 1992 the strongest, most comprehensive policies on priests accused of sexual misconduct with minors, a model that forms the basis for national and global child protections programs. He was also a strong advocate for the "seamless garment," a consistent ethic of life across a broad range of issues, including abortion, capital punishment, modern warfare and euthanasia, asserting that all human life is valuable and must be respected consistently from conception to natural death.