On Monday of this week, the Holy See announced the appointment by Pope Benedict XVI of Archbishop Timothy Dolan as archbishop of New York.
The appointment is clearly of interest to people. Since Monday, our local media outlets and many individuals have expressed that interest in the questions they have asked me. Among them: Are you pleased with the appointment? Do you know Archbishop Dolan? What is he like? Will he be your boss now? Will you be working with him?
I am very pleased that Tim Dolan is the new archbishop of New York. In my opinion his faith, talent, experience and personality equip him very well to be the archbishop of what Pope John Paul II called “the capital of the world.” I think that Tim will be able to call together and focus the gifts and energies of that great community — to make the most of the resources they have and meet effectively the difficult pastoral challenges of the day.
I have known Tim since 1972 when I joined the staff and he began his theological studies at the North American College in Rome. It was a pleasure to live in the community with him. Tim was always of good spirit, always had words of encouragement, always pitched in when there was work to be done. I have many happy memories of him. It is because of students like Tim that I remember my experience at the North American College in such positive ways.
Tim will not be my boss when he comes to New York, but he will, by virtue of his office, preside at meetings of the bishops of our province (i.e., of the eight dioceses of New York state). On the civil side, he will be the chairperson of the New York State Catholic Conference. I think that the term “first among equals” applies here.
While he does not have jurisdiction over any diocese in his province, an archbishop is expected to be concerned with the well-being of the bishops and the dioceses in his province. Should there be concerns in this regard, the archbishop should offer the fraternal support or encouragement or admonition appropriate to the situation.
In my years as bishop, there has been a clear annual pattern of meetings which bring together the bishops of our province. We meet for two days in September, one day in January and one day in June. In addition to those meetings, we gather for brief sessions within the framework of the general meetings of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops which are held in November and June. And, there often are special occasions through the year (funerals, ordinations, anniversaries) which call us together.
I’ll be seeing quite a bit of Archbishop Dolan during the next few years, and I look forward with delight to that prospect. I have prayed for him through the years and especially through these days of transition. I have prayed for Tim, Cardinal Egan and for the lay faithful, clergy and religious of the Archdiocese of New York.
The heart of my prayer for Tim is that he will always be faithful to a bit of advice from his mother that he named recently as the best advice he ever received: “Be yourself.”
I think he will do that. If he does, he will be a knockout as the archbishop of New York.
Peace to all.