Monday, June 18, 2007

Keeler Under the Knife

Later this morning, Baltimore's Cardinal William Keeler will undergo brain surgery at Johns Hopkins Medical Center.

Aides to the 76 year-old prelate say the procedure will be brief and minimally invasive, involving the insertion of a shunt to drain an accumulation of cranial fluid, or hydrocephalus. The fluid's presence has caused the cardinal some difficulties of thought and movement in recent months, but not too many: on a visit to the Premier See in late April, as I stood with him on the portico of the Basilica of the Assumption, the keen history buff's steel-blue eyes sparkled as he held forth in a lengthy chat on topics as diverse as his 19th century predecessors, the recent NCEA convention in the archdiocese, his Scottish heritage, and even the Glasgow phone book -- which, he assured me, would "turn up a lot of Keelers" if I ever flipped through its pages.

(The latter bits came courtesy of the "Charm City"'s St Andrew's Society; the cardinal had presided at the Scots' Catholics annual "Blessing of the Tartans" in the Basilica some weeks before... an engagement which, as he detailed the day's liturgy at length, he clearly undertook with relish.)

Projections from Keeler's medical team are that he should be back in his Charles Street residence on Wednesday. In the run-up to the operation, the eminent patient has earnestly sought out the gift of prayers for a successful surgery and his quick and complete recovery.

The cardinal still has much to teach me about Whitfield, Eccleston, and Bayley. As for his own progress, further updates to come.

Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun