CARDINAL PELL SPECIAL REPORT – Pell’s faith influenced whole family: friends and colleagues recall his kindness and devotion

12 Jan 2023

By Contributor

By Marilyn Rodrigues and Jamie O’Brien

Cardinal George Pell, then Archbishop of Sydney, with Perth Archdiocese Communications Manager Jamie O’Brien, top left, together with Patrick and Betty Tomelty at Meroo Conference Centre, Sydney, in mid-2002. Photo: Supplied/Jamie O’Brien.

Many of Cardinal George Pell’s family, friends and colleagues have this week remembered him for being extraordinarily generous in devoting his life to the Church and to others following his death in Rome on 10 January.

Cardinal Pell was Archbishop of Sydney from 2001-2014 and Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy from 2014-2018.

Juliette Pell, who lives in Perth, told The Record how Cardinal Pell’s life helped deepen her own faith.

“You could ask him any question and he would answer it,” Ms Pell said.

Cardinal George Pell speaks during a Mass at the Parish of San Leonardo Murialdo, Rome, 13 November 2016. Photo: Jamie O’Brien

“The devotion of his whole life to the Church helped deepen my faith and that of the whole family,” Ms Pell said.

“He used to say to me singing is twice prayer, which has always stayed with me,” she said.

Ms Pell spoke of her fond memories of knowing “Uncle George”; Cardinal Pell’s father and Juliette’s father were brothers.

“There was one time during a pilgrimage for World Youth Day in Israel in 2000 when he made me sit in his spot at the head of the table; he was always so generous like that,” Ms Pell recalled.

“He was so very generous, caring and had a great sense of humour,” she said.

Pope Benedict XVI greets World Youth Day pilgrims in Sydney July 17, 2008. Behind him is Cardinal George Pell, then Archbishop of Sydney. Photo: CNS/Paul Haring.

Author of Cardinal Pell’s biography and The Australian‘s chief lead writer, Tess Livingstone,  paid tribute to Cardinal Pell, saying he has lived “a huge life”.

“He made an enormous contribution to Australia as well as the Church throughout the world,” she told The Catholic Weekly. “He lived a huge, generous life and was utterly devoted to the Church.”

John McCarthy QC was the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See from 2012-2016 and is Chair of the Anti-Slavery Taskforce for the Archdiocese of Sydney and the Australian Catholic Anti-Slavery Network.

He said that Cardinal Pell was a great friend to himself and his family for more than 40 years.

Pope Francis signs a cricket bat of a Canterbury cricket team received from Australian Cardinal George Pell at the Vatican, 29 October 2015. Photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters.

“He visited many times and we had many happy occasions singing around the piano and and listening to his sports stories from Ballarat and Oxford,” Mr McCarthy said.

“He was most notable for his generous availability to Australian seminarians in Rome when he was visiting there.

“He also used these visits to remind them that he was watching their progress very carefully and tested that by speaking to them in his Australian-ised Italian.

“The Cardinal loved Rome and knew many of its secrets and special places. He would put together lists of places for visitors and everything was built around visiting St Peter’s Basilica. He always insisted that coming to Rome was about coming to St Peter’s.”

Cardinal George Pell speaks to youth from the Neocatechumenal Way at the Domain, Sydney in 2008, following World Youth Day. With him is Kiko Arguello, founder of the Neocatechumenal Way. Photo: Jamie O’Brien