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December 6, 2002

REMARKS OF ANTHONY CARDINAL BEVILACUA
ARCHBISHOP OF PHILADELPHIA
AMBASSADOR WALTER H. ANNENBERG MEMORIAL SERVICE

To Lee Annenberg and the entire Annenberg family, I extend my sincere condolences and assurance of prayers for God's consolation at this time of sorrow.

I shall never forget the last words Ambassador Annenberg spoke to me. They were uttered a number of months before his passing. I arrived at the Annenberg home for a dinner gathering of several of their friends. I was aware that the Ambassador's illness confined him to a wheelchair and had impaired his ability to speak. As I approached him, before I could say a word, he looked up at me, smiled and proclaimed in a loud voice: "God bless you." As though to convince me that he meant what he said, he immediately exclaimed again: "God bless you."

I have often meditated on those three last words addressed to me, a Catholic Cardinal, by this faithful son of Abraham. I have come to believe that these inspired words were addressed not just to me but to all the recipients of the Ambassador's beneficence.

These three words, "God bless you," in a certain sense capture the essence of the bountiful spirit of Walter Annenberg. In His Providence, God granted the Ambassador many gifts, intellectual and material. Intuitively, Ambassador Annenberg realized that he was but the trustee of these blessings of God, to be utilized primarily for the benefit of others. With this conviction, he exercised a stewardship over these divine gifts, especially financial resources, that had a beneficial impact in many areas from education to the arts.

Thus, for example, for countless years to come, thousands of young students in our Catholic schools, in public schools, in universities, will be seeking truth, which ultimately is another word for God, only because God Himself provided them with the opportunity through the charity of His servant, Walter.

In spite of personal sorrows, which all of us bear in life, Walter Annenberg was a happy man primarily, I believe, because he gave so much to others of the blessings God had given to him. Yes, Walter Annenberg had the right to say to all of us recipients of his friendship and generosity: "God bless you" because through him God has blessed us. And today we can have for Ambassador Walter Annenberg that certain hope of the divine reward described in the Hebrew Scriptures: "Joy and gladness he will find, an everlasting name he will inherit." (Sirach 15: 6)
Walter, God bless you.

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