Sunday, March 01, 2009

Transition Digest #1

On Ash Wednesday morning, hours after returning from his Appointment Day rollout in New York, a packed gym of Milwaukee high schoolers began Archbishop Timothy Dolan's Lakeside sendoff... with the wave.

Despite the penitential mood of the day, the Strongman-elect didn't seem to mind.

Admitting to an "exhilaration" at taking over American Catholicism's most prominent post (even as he pledged that he'd be no more than "a tourist" for his first year in it) B16's choice to helm the 2.5 million-member church in the "capital of the world" dove into his historic transition with both feet this week, revealing his Lenten sacrifices not in his chat with Packerland's Journal-Sentinel, but to his new cheering section at the New York Post.

For the record, Dolan's banished the beer and cigars for the 40 Days. But even so, the top money-quote is this one:
Asked if he will use St. Patrick's Cathedral as a bully pulpit to advocate Catholic views on national social issues - including opposition to abortion - the burly Irish-American cleric said firmly, "You can plan on it."
And with that, the ground shook. Not from the subway underfoot, either.

As one observer said of the captive Gotham press -- a handful of whom tailed the Appointed One back to Beer City following Monday's introductions -- "they're in love." And, indeed, they are... already chomping at the bit to get him on the TV... and in prime time, no less.

Before week's end, a first meeting was held at 1011 to begin planning the 15 April installation -- which, by the looks of it, could use the addition of bleachers to the nation's best-known house of worship to fit the global crush of Dolanites and hierarchs, local church and dignitaries all clamoring, even now, for seats. Yet in what might be the surest sign of hope for the beleaguered Big Apple clergy, a notable number of Milwaukee priests are reportedly looking to attend as a tribute to their departing boss.

Elsewhere, taking a cue from the mayoral residence, 452 Madison's already been given a new name -- "Timmy Mansion" -- its incoming occupant's auxiliaries already dubbed the "Timettes." And, said to have defended his record of respect and support for his priests before their elected council at the latter's monthly meeting on Thursday, Cardinal Edward Egan presided at his final Rite of Election earlier today in the Midtown cathedral, happily noting along the way an especially large contingent of Chinese-speaking catechumens and candidates.

All that said, the tenth archbishop's canonical possession might still be 44 days away... but so far as the city crowd's concerned, the new era has already begun.

As always, more as it's fit to print.

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For the record, the photos above come from a priceless gallery of shots taken by Sam Lucero, a freelance shutterbug and editor of the Green Bay diocese's Compass-News.

As pictures tend to put words to shame, just enjoy the whole shebang:

PHOTOS: Sam Lucero/Green Bay Compass-News