Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sealed With a Kiss

Indeed, the Lord is Risen... and now, it's time for what's might just be the biggest celebration since.

But, er, what's with the monsignor's biretta?

Hundreds spilling into its atrium, an overflow crowd showed up this morning at Milwaukee's Cathedral of St John the Evangelist to praise Christ's Resurrection from the Tomb... and witness Tim's Ascension into Gotham.

Hours after his final Beer City Mass (homily) was broadcast live on local TV -- with sendoff specials running in prime-time, to boot -- the tenth archbishop is en route to New York, where he arrives tonight, 48 hours before his formal welcome begins in St Patrick's Cathedral.

In a sentimental round of farewell interviews over Holy Week, the Appointed One gave his Easter message on drive-time radio, held firm on the obligation of abstinence for the Brewers' home opener on Good Friday, admitted that it was "downright difficult" to leave the Wisconsin church of 700,000 that he's led since 2002 and described his nerves on approaching "The Powerhouse" as "more like crows flying around than butterflies."

That said, as his final TV show aired on Holy Saturday, Dolan also 'fessed that he "hate[s] transitional limbos" and was just ready to "get at it."

With significant chunks of Milwaukee and his native St Louis heading Eastward for the two-day installation rites that begin Tuesday at dusk, the final piece of the six-week sprint of preparations in Midtown will likely be handled sometime tomorrow, when Cardinal Edward Egan's coat of arms is removed from the archbishop's throne in St Patrick's and replaced with the shield of his successor.

The first Packerland archbishop to be transferred out since then-Archbishop Albert Meyer was sent to Chicago in 1958, at the close of the Milwaukee Mass Dolan removed the pallium given him by Pope John Paul II in 2003 and looked on as the tapestry of his coat of arms was removed from its place above the "comfortable" marble cathedra in St John's, symbolizing the vacancy of the Midwestern archdiocese.

"Start[ing] all over again" as archbishop of New York, the 59 year old will receive a new copy of the metropolitan's woolen band from Pope Benedict at late June's celebrations in Rome for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. According to the church's ancient tradition, the pallium is bound not to the rank of archbishop, but to the local church in which a prelate receives it.

Already looking forward to what lies beyond Opening Day, however, Dolan told Thursday's farewell edition of Milwaukee's archdiocesan weekly that he wouldn't mind an appearance on Broadway's longest-running production -- David Letterman's Late Show -- to kickoff his tenure in the "capital of the world":
“We should never, ever pass up the opportunity to represent the church; we should never pass up an occasion to say the name of Jesus to speak about faith and love and hope,” he told your Catholic Herald.

He would take the same approach on the New York-based “Late Show” that he has taken with other media opportunities.

“I wouldn’t go on there to give a sermon, but you can bet I’d thread that (faith, hope and love) in,” he said. “Afterwards, we’d like people to say, ‘He was on there for 10 minutes and we remember a couple jokes, but in retrospect he got a little catechism lesson in there, too.’ So I’d do that.”
Archbishop Dolan noted that one of his heroes was the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen whose work in radio and TV is considered some of the best in the history of broadcasting.
“I would never have (Archbishop Sheen’s) depth or eloquence when it comes to the pulpit, but I just mean style-wise that he never shied away from what he saw as a chance to evangelize, and I wouldn’t either,” Archbishop Dolan said.
Ordained an auxiliary bishop of New York in 1951, Sheen's buried in the crypt of St Patrick's, just steps from the dining-room door of the Archbishop's Residence.

A Midwesterner who came to the "capital of the world" and ate it up, the great Fulton was once the highest-rated draw on television.

At the close of this morning's Milwaukee liturgy, Dolan knelt as the cathedral congregation that's been his home most Sundays since 2002 extended their hands over him (above left) in a farewell blessing (video).

"I need a lot of hope, and a lot of faith, and a lot of trust," he said.

Asked by the city's paper of record to grade his tenure, a Journal-Sentinel poll of Milwaukeeans reports that 62% of web-clickers granted an "A" to Dolan's six years there, with 85% of the 8,500 respondents giving him a passing mark.

* * *
Meanwhile, on a beautiful Big Apple day, the Midtown mother-house was likewise packed to the doors as, in a "caring, lighthearted... perfect ending" to his nine-year tenure, Egan celebrated his last Mass at the helm before St Patrick's traditional ticket-only congregation for Easter morning.

Freshly recovered from his Palm Sunday bout with stomach pains, Egan "wowed" and moved cathedral-goers in his final Good Friday atop the nation's second-largest diocese, appearing buoyant during a Holy Thursday go-round with the city's press and delivering a strong homily this morning drawn from his visit to China with a group of Italians some thirty years ago.

And in "the wealthiest lady in Nanning," the decade-long stream of story-based preaching that began with Jon Bokron found its worthy bookend.

At the 10.15 liturgy's close, the cardinal came down from the cathedra's top step to offer his final thanks (video).

"I've fallen in love with New York," he said.

"I'm very, very grateful and I only wish I had the eloquence to express that gratitude as it should be expressed."

The pews responded with a standing ovation... and, in an unwitting sign that everything old is new again, the closing hymn was "All Creatures of Our God and King" -- that is, John O'Connor's favorite.

Speaking to reporters after the Mass, the cardinal said of his successor that the city's media are "going to like [Dolan] very much.

"He's going to talk to you much more than I do," the press-shy prelate added.

A farewell to #9 having anchored the last edition of Catholic New York, the paper's Holy Thursday run pulled out all the stops to welcome #10 to his new home -- namely, the House That Hughes Built.

The weather says that rain's on-deck for the festivities, with daytime temperatures running in the 50s. And as the ecclesiastical forecast goes, a high scarlet front's approaching: some five cardinals are expected for Tuesday night's Solemn Vespers in St Patrick's, with 12 to 15 red-hats slated to be sitting "in choir" for Wednesday's Installation Mass.

More tomorrow, live from the catbird's seat.

Buona pasqua a tutti -- as always, stay tuned.

PHOTO: Reuters(1,2); AP(3); Getty (4)