How excited was Archbishop William Henry Keeler at being elevated to the rank of cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church?
Just ask his cook.
"He was very, very excited," said Ginny Ferandi. She saw him at 6 o'clock yesterday morning when her husband brought her to work at the rectory of the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the national monument that rises twin-domed over Cathedral Street.
"He couldn't sleep," she recalled. "He was wide awake. In fact, he went out and shook hands with my husband."
Archbishop Keeler even ate breakfast in the kitchen so he could read the newspaper and catch the early television news on the event he was at the center of -- Pope John Paul II's announcement of 30 new cardinals on Sunday.
Later in the day, as he traveled around Baltimore there would be more of this: lights in his eyes, cameras and microphones in his face. More interviews. More questions about how he felt, about what it all meant, to him, to Baltimore.
At the Catholic Schools Convention downtown, he was asked whether his new duties as cardinal, on top of an already heavy schedule as chairman of the National Catholic Bishop's Conference, would hurt his ability to run the Baltimore Archdiocese.
Not appreciably, the 63-year-old archbishop said. He expects to be in Rome only three or four days every 18 months or so. His chairmanship of the bishop's conference, he said, expires in about a year.
He also was asked whether, as a cardinal and an elector of popes, he might be better able to ameliorate some of the misunderstandings that arise between American Catholics and the Vatican on issues such as birth control and the ordination of women.
These misunderstandings, he said, exist "not just in the U.S.A., but in Western countries in general. They have had their culture shaped [in recent years] in a different way" from much of the rest of the Catholic world.
He added that disagreements between the church hierarchy and its congregations are not new: "You can see it in St. Paul's epistle to the Ephesians."
Archbishop Keeler was an inevitable cardinal, at least to many of his friends and admirers.
"It doesn't surprise me at all," said the Rev. Andrew Mohl of Archbishop Spalding High School in Severn, whose father and brothers went to school in Lebanon, Pa., with the new prince of the church.
"I thought it was coming," affirmed Marie Sauter, a teacher at John Paul Regional Catholic School in Woodlawn. "I just had this feeling that sooner or later he'd be recognized."
Faye Courtney, who is from John Paul Regional Catholic and was attending the Catholic Schools Conference, nodded, and added: "He deserves it."
"I personally was expecting it," said the Rev. James Vincent Hobbs, rector at the Basilica, although he thought Archbishop Keeler would be included in the next batch of cardinals rather than those announced Sunday.
Even the cook saw it coming.
Which is not to say she and the rest of the rectory's staff and residents took the announcement calmly.
"We're all ecstatic," said Mrs. Ferandi.
And the prospective cardinal himself?
"I'm just taking it a day at a time," he said at the finish of a walk to the Convention Center from the Catholic Center at Cathedral and Mulberry. The sun, he hoped, would help synchronize his body clock with the here and now of Baltimore.
"I'm still jet-lagged," Archbishop Keeler added, referring to Sunday's flight from Rome, where he got the news of his appointment. When the appointment is formalized next month, he will become the third cardinal in the 205-year history of the Baltimore Archdiocese, the nation's oldest.