Cardinal Tomko’s love for service to Church recalled at funeral Mass

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re celebrates the funeral Mass for the late Cardinal Jozef Tomko, and recalls the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples’ faithful and fruitful service to the Church and the Pope.

By Sophie Peeters

Pope Francis, on Thursday morning, participated privately at the funeral Mass of the late Cardinal Jozef Tomko, celebrated at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. He presided over the funeral rites of Commendatio and Valedictio for the late Slovakian Cardinal.

Cardinal Jozef Tomko died on 8 August in his apartment in Rome at the age of 98. He was created a Cardinal in 1985 by Pope John Paul II and was the Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, presided over the Mass.

A life of service

In his homily, Cardinal Re recalled that the long and intense life of Cardinal Tomko was consecrated to the service of God and of his brothers and sisters and dedicated to service in the Roman Curia.

This service, Cardinal Re continued, was carried out with a great balance in judgments, the calmness, the good sense, the amiability and the finesse of his traits, always with the sense of the dedication to the “call to serve”.

After being unable to return to the Archdiocese of Kosice in his home country of Slovakia due to the communist government’s opposition to the Catholic Church, Tomko was ordained a priest in Rome in 1949 and was hired at the Congregation of the Holy Office in 1962.

His service to the Roman Curia continued as the Undersecretary of the Congregation for Bishops in 1974, and as Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops in 1979, appointed by Pope John Paul II, where his understanding and knowledge of the universal Church grew.

In 1985, he was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and became Cardinal soon afterwards.

‘Apostolic spirit’

In his homily, Cardinal Re said Tomko’s prolific life embodied the great missionary and apostolic spirit.

His work was dedicated to the creation of numerous new dioceses, the construction of new churches, education centres, social centres, and the development of the missionary cooperation of the Pontifical Mission Societies in many countries, while “always putting Christ at the center in his interventions and manifesting great spirit of openness to peoples, their cultures, their traditions. and sense of universality.”

His legacy of service and love for others, Cardinal Re affirmed, serves as a model for us “to complete our earthly journey in unswerving fidelity and in a never-failing momentum of service to the Church and our brothers and sisters, to which Cardinal Tomko left us edifying testimony.”