Cardinal Timoth Dolan is a charismatic, ebullient man who has inspired a legion of ardent supporters. I don’t know much about him, but having met him over the weekend, it’s easy to see why so many Catholics find him so likeable.
(Cardinal Timothy Dolan greets parishioners at St. Anthony of Padua Church in West Harrison on Saturday, Feb. 16. Photo by Ned P. Rauch)
His visit to St. Anthony of Padua Church in West Harrison on Saturday provided this reporter with way more material than I could fit into this article I wrote for Sunday’s paper. Following, then, is some of what I’d wanted to include but, because of space restrictions, had to leave out.
- Looking out at the crowd, estimated at around 1,000 people, Dolan smiled and said, “At St. Patrick’s Cathedral, we would call this a three-collection crowd.”
- Dolan, who is just about bald, thanked the church’s energetic and wild-haired musical director, Laurence Broderick, for his music and then confessed to envying Broderick his flowing mane.
- When a pair of young girls presented him with some gifts, including a bouquet of flowers and a red T-shirt bearing the name of Dolan’s hometown baseball team, the archbishop of New York held up the shirt and cracked, “Now that’s what I call a real cardinal.” Dolan grew up just outside of St. Louis, home of the Cardinals.
- Dolan’s homily, though buoyed by numerous humorous asides, focused on humility and cited the recent announcement from Pope Benedict XVI that he would resign as an example of profound humility. Throughout his address to the congregation, he praised St. Anthony’s and repeatedly thanked the church for inviting him. “Am I ever happy to be here with you all at St. Anthony’s church,” he said at the start of the service. “Thank you so, so much.”
- At a reception following the service, Jennifer Soares, of Rye, asked the cardinal to bless her soon-to-be-born child (her due date is April 22). “I’m 40. This is our first kid. I need all the help I can get,” Soares said. Dolan obliged, laying his hands on her stomach. “It was amazing,” Soares said.
- Asked about Benedict’s decision to resign, Dolan said, “I don’t know if disappointment is the word. I was certainly surprised, and then I have to admit I was saddened. ‘Cause I’ll miss him. I really love him. I mean I’d like to think I’ve loved every holy father and will love the next, and I would like to think that every Catholic would have felt some sadness. He’s our father. … I feel a special bond to him. He appointed me to be archbishop of New York. He made me a cardinal and I knew him before he was pope. I was a fan of his writing and everything. So, yeah, I’m sad. I don’t mind admitting it.”
- Asked what he plans to say to Benedict when he sees him, Dolan replied, “I’d say I love you, we’ll miss you, stick around, we need you.”