Above, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the archbishop emeritus of Washington, celebrates his 50th         anniversary Mass as a priest at the National Shrine on May 31, the day he was ordained 50 years ago. Below, At the Mass, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, left, embraces Archbishop Donald Wuerl, who succeeded him as Washington's archbishop in 2006. Archbishop Wuerl presented the cardinal with a chalice used by Pope Benedict XVI during the April 17 Mass that the pope celebrated at Nationals Park.
Above, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the archbishop emeritus of Washington, celebrates his 50th anniversary Mass as a priest at the National Shrine on May 31, the day he was ordained 50 years ago. Below, At the Mass, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, left, embraces Archbishop Donald Wuerl, who succeeded him as Washington's archbishop in 2006. Archbishop Wuerl presented the cardinal with a chalice used by Pope Benedict XVI during the April 17 Mass that the pope celebrated at Nationals Park.
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Rising the same chalice he used in his first Mass, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination on May 31 with a solemn Mass of Thanksgiving at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, N.E. The Mass was offered on the exact day Cardinal McCarrick was ordained a priest 50 years ago in New York.

About 800 people attended the Saturday vigil Mass including Archbishop Pietro Sambi, papal nuncio, who concelebrated the liturgy and read words of congratulations from Pope Benedict XVI. The pope's blessing read in part: "I express my gratitude for the devoted service to the Lord and His Church which marked your ministry in your native Archdiocese of New York and Puerto Rico, then as the first bishop of Metuchen, and finally as archbishop of Newark and cardinal archbishop of Washington."

Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, Bishop John Smith of Trenton, Bishop Michael Saltarelli of Wilmington, Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas, Washington Auxiliary Bishop Martin Holley and 50 priests of the archdiocese joined Cardinal McCarrick and Archbishop Sambi to concelebrate the Mass.

In tribute to Cardinal McCarrick's five decades of service to the priesthood, Archbishop Wuerl praised the cardinal for individual acts of ministry, service and care directed to the faithful here and throughout the world. "Each act of kindness," said Archbishop Wuerl, "comes together to form a dynamic mosaic depicting a priesthood in action."

A native of New York City, Cardinal McCarrick was ordained for that archdiocese on May 31, 1958. He received a doctorate in sociology from The Catholic University of America while also serving as assistant chaplain, dean of students, and director of development there. He later served as president of the Catholic University of Puerto Rico in Ponce.

Cardinal McCarrick returned to New York in 1969 where he served as associate secretary for education and secretary to Cardinal Terence Cooke.

Prior to being elevated to the school of cardinals in 2001 he served as auxiliary bishop of New York, founding bishop of Metuchen, N.J., and archbishop of Newark and Washington where he retired in 2006.

In his homily, Archbishop Wuerl thanked Cardinal McCarrick for his constant renewal of faith. "In your ministry you have not only offered the sacrifice of Mass daily for 50 years but through the celebration of the Eucharist enabled others to join their sacrifices to Christ."

In order to stand as the image of Christ in the community takes two special virtues, noted Archbishop Wuerl Ð faith and love. "Both of which you have manifested over 50 years," he said.

Later the archbishop presented Cardinal McCarrick with a new chalice Ð one used and blessed by Pope Benedict XVI during his April visit to Washington.

Family, friends, and many members of religious congregations and seminarians in attendance stood and applauded for Cardinal McCarrick.

During his ministry, the cardinal opened two seminaries for diocesan missionary priests Ð Redemptoris Mater Seminaries -- one in Newark and one here. The seminaries are part of the Neocatechumenal Way, a movement that focuses on living out the meaning of Baptism.

In Washington, Cardinal McCarrick also undertook a major capital campaign in order to support education, vocations, parish and social service needs into the future. The Forward in Faith campaign continues collecting more than $135 million in pledges today.

The cardinal is the past chair of the domestic and international policy committees for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Additionally, Cardinal McCarrick formerly served as chancellor of Catholic University, and as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

He sits on the board of directors of Catholic Relief Services, and has been a member of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

Cardinal McCarrick is fluent in five languages, travels throughout the world and is known internationally for his work on human rights and religious freedom. In 2000 Cardinal McCarrick received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights from then-President Clinton and also the Nostra Aetate award from the Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding.

In brief remarks at the end of the liturgy, Cardinal McCarrick once again asked for the prayers of the faithful. "When all is said and done, I thank God for His wondrous love and extraordinary patience," Cardinal McCarrick said. "I have felt (God's) presence in the darkest days. I know that He loves me."