Archbishop Alexander Sample sprinkles holy water over the casket of Fr. George Wolf before celebrating funeral Mass.
Robert Pfohman Of the Catholic Sentinel
Father George Wolf was happiest being a priest and building up parish communities wherever he was assigned.
That was one message delivered this morning by Father John Kerns, who gave the homily at Father Wolf's funeral. St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was packed with people and 65 members of the clergy. Father Wolf died Feb. 6 of cancer at age 62.
"He was filled with gratitude to God, his family, friends, parishioners and people of other faiths," Father Kerns said of his longtime friend, whom he took to the movies just days before the illness worsened.
Father Wolf said to his friend: “I am so happy to be alive." The ailing priest had feared he would die before Christmas from the fast acting cancer that took over his body upon his return from a trip to Turkey. He was glad to spend that time with families and friends.
At the end of the Mass, Archbishop Alexander Sample told the congregation that he phoned Father Wolf when he learned of his condition, hoping to offer his love and support. During the conversation, the humble priest with a highly developed sense of humor alluded to the wish expressed days before by Pope Francis that church leaders shelve the practice of naming priests monsignors. Father Wolf told the archbishop, if he wasn’t going to be named a monsignor, why keep living?
The congregation laughed hard at that one, because it was vintage George Wolf.
He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Peoria three days after his 29th birthday and was active in youth retreat work and family life ministry and was a high school chaplain.
Father Wolf came to the Archdiocese of Portland in 1986 and was incardinated here in 1989. He served as parochial vicar at St. Matthew in Hillsboro before becoming pastor of Our Lady of Victory in Seaside in 1989. He later served as pastor at Queen of Peace Parish in Salem, St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland and most recently Holy Family Parish in Portland.