Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York did us a great service on Tuesday, June 22, when he came to Sacred Heart Cathedral to preach at a liturgy that celebrated several blessings: the Feast of St. John Fisher, patron saint of our diocese; the 25th and 50th anniversaries of several of our priests; and the closing of the Year for Priests proclaimed by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.
Our presbyterate and the 300 others who gathered for the occasion took delight in the archbishop’s wonderful wit and derived considerable nourishment from his moving homily. His reflections on priesthood — inspired, I am sure by the martyrdom of our patron saint — emphasized self-gift in imitation of our Lord.
We kept him busy before and after the liturgy. Immediately after his arrival at Sacred Heart, he met with representatives of the local media for a press conference. After Mass, he remained for a long while in the narthex visiting with the many people who were anxious to meet him. He chatted, blessed religious articles, autographed his books, posed for pictures, prayed for the sick and blessed the children.
Following the reception in the narthex, there was a luncheon for all of the priests in the parish hall to celebrate the jubilees of their brothers in ministry. The archbishop chatted with many of the priests from beginning to end of that gathering and obviously took delight in the experience.
In a note of thanks that I wrote June 23, I thanked Archbishop Dolan for the gifts of faith, energy, wit and warm humanity that he shared with our community on this wonderful occasion.
As I wrote, I remembered a younger Tim Dolan, a seminarian at the North American College in Rome while I served on the staff there. He was already a man of faith 35 years ago, and no less witty, energetic and warm then than he is now. It was a source of great delight for me on Tuesday to remember him then, and to reflect on how the Lord has so beautifully continued to deepen and shape Tim through his 24 years of priestly life and ministry.
At the luncheon June 22 and since then, many of our priests expressed their appreciation for the affirmation and encouragement they drew from the archbishop’s presence and his homily. I well understood their comments because my reaction was much the same as theirs.
If you are interested in viewing the archbishop’s press conference and/or his homily at the liturgy, you can find them on the Catholic Courier’s website. An array of photos of the event also has been posted there.
In keeping with the custom of the years, I will not be writing any weekly, online “Along the Way” columns during the month of July. This will be the last one until early August. My monthly column in the printed Catholic Courier will resume in September.
I hope that the days of summer will be very good to you and your loved ones. I promise you my continued prayers and ask for the favor of your own.
Peace to all.