NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Cardinal Timothy Dolan on Friday honored his longtime Chicago counterpart, Cardinal Francis George, as a “pastor, friend and guide.”

George, 78, passed away Friday morning at his official residence in Chicago, according to his successor, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich.

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Dolan said while George had been ill for some time, his death was still heartbreaking.

“While we have all realized for a while that it was near, the passing of Cardinal Francis George still comes as a jolt, and leaves us with a sense of emptiness and loss,” Dolan said in the statement. “I assure Archbishop Cupich and the Catholic family of Chicago of our love, condolences, and prayers here in New York. I will miss him as a pastor, friend, and guide, and can only thank God for the gift that he was and will ever be.”

George had battled three bouts with cancer, his most recent diagnosis coming last year, CBS Chicago reported.

Cupich said despite George’s many health issues at the end of his career, he maintained his dedication to keeping busy with his duties leading the Catholic Church in Chicago, CBS Chicago reported.

“He pursued an over-full schedule, always choosing the church over his own comfort, and the people over his own needs,” Cupich said.

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In late January, George announced his cancer treatments had stopped, and his doctors had run out of options, after an experimental drug proved ineffective for him, CBS Chicago reported.

Appointed to lead the Archdiocese of Chicago by Pope John Paul II in 1997, he was the first Chicago native to be named head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, CBS Chicago reported.

Cardinal George’s passing comes barely a month after New York’s Cardinal Edward Egan — who served concurrently with Cardinal George – also passed away.

Egan, 82, retired in 2009 after nine years of leading the Archdiocese of New York, which serves about 2.6 million Catholics in about 400 parishes in parts of the city and its northern suburbs.

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