Thursday, December 22, 2005

Elvis Jr. Talks Christmas

I was corresponding the other day with a friend, an alum of the North American College, commiserating over the late tumult on the Gianicolo.

It's no secret that Kevin McCoy -- who, I'm told, asked to be relieved of his commission six months ahead of his scheduled departure at the end of the academic year -- had the misfortune of having to follow Elvis on the stage.

Talk about your long shadows.

In this scenario, of course, The King is Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee. In light of Dolan's mind-blowing success, taking care of business in terms of fund-raising, morale, discipline and fidelity over his seven years as Rector there (for which he was promptly rewarded with the mitre, then given the challenge of Milwaukee ten months afterward), I opined that the NAC Rectorship should become something akin to a named academic chair, the incumbent being known as "The Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan Rector of the Pontifical North American College."

For maximal effect, minimize the holder's name on the fund-raising letters, enlarge the named title and -- Voila! -- windfall (i.e. $$).

People don't just like Dolan, they love him, they adore him. And rightfully so. Half of St. Louis, and surely a good many Milwaukeans, would walk through fire for the man -- partly because they know they'd find him on the other side, with a Brat, a Miller and a Macanudo waiting. And if there's anything that'll get things back on track in the broad, effective scale, it's bishops of his ilk who can inspire confidence in people through personal integrity and good humor, not fear and bullying.

Thanks to those qualities, don't be surprised to see Dolan headed to the Big Apple to reclaim O'Connor's mantle and reassert the bully pulpit of the archbishopric quickly after Egan turns in his retirement letter (and, subito dopo, gets on an eastward-bound Alitalia jet at JFK) in a little over 15 months. And when it happens, don't say I didn't tell you first. This isn't the first time I've said it, either.

(Of course, if Sean O'Malley implodes in the interim -- here's hoping he doesn't, but the poor man is just so overweighed -- there might well be a change of plans....)

This is all a long way of introducing Archbishop Dolan's Christmas reflection on video (RealPlayer), released through the good auspices of the Catholic Communications Campaign at the USCCB. Watch it, enjoy it and get ready to see a lot more of this guy in the years to come.

Just look at how Tim talks to the camera. While most of his brother bishops would rather take a panic attack and a public pedicure than do a four-minute headshot, Dolan's kibbitzing with the thing, engaging it, inspiring it, like it was his best friend from elementary school. To think: he's like the Catholic Joel Osteen -- just without the megalomaniac wife who acted like a triumphalist neocon seminarian on a plane.

Thank God we've got that celibacy thing. And thank God we've got Dolan.