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Blog: Welcome Home Cardinal Timothy Dolan

By 1010 WINS' reporter Juliet Papa

(NEW YORK) - He's now called "Your Eminence," and although it's a very formal title – New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan is anything but.

He will be greeting New York's faithful here on his own turf with a prayer service and Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral – a culmination of the grand festivities and solemn ceremonies in Rome that elevated him to the position as the Archdiocese' eighth Cardinal. It was a whirlwind week in which I had a front-row seat. And I observed in amazement as Dolan's boundless joy and exuberance took the Vatican by storm.

Mass at St Peter's Basilica
Mass at St Peter's basilica on Friday, Feb. 17, 2012 (credit: Juliet Papa/1010 WINS)

Even in the hours before he was to receive his cardinal's red hat on Saturday, Dolan stood outside, wearing an NYPD Emerald Society windbreaker and a newsboy's cap, waiting for his guests to arrive. I asked him if he was nervous and he laughed and said "no" – after all, he had a "reserved seat" inside and wanted to make sure his family and friends would get to their spots. Hours later, Dolan and his 21 brethren gathered inside the soaring halls of the Basilica getting ready for the ceremony to begin. And as I watched, our new cardinal-to-be was "working the room" – greeting people, shaking hands, walking up and down the main aisle as he saw people he knew. He served in Rome for several years as the rector of the North American College – where American seminarians are educated, so he's made many friends over the years behind Vatican walls.

When his name was called and he knelt before Pope Benedict the XVI in the splendor and history of St. Peter's Basilica there were broad smiles, and Dolan later said he was elated when the Pope thanked him for his wonderful speech the day before on the "New Evangelization," a papal pet project on rekindling the faith in lapsed Catholics. Nearly a thousand people followed Dolan to Rome – many New Yorkers who love his energy and spirit, and those who experienced it when he was a priest in St. Louis and an archbishop in Milwaukee.

The crowd and media entourage generated so much "buzz" that other religion and Vatican reporters took notice. They sensed the excitement, Dolan's accessibility, his positive spirit , describing it as a "refreshing change," the "Dolan effect," and conjecturing about the possibility of a future "American Pope." After all, he heads the most powerful archdiocese in this country and he was elected by his colleagues to head the U.S. Conference of Bishops, an American representation of faith and clergy interests.

But as papal successor? That's a subject Dolan doesn't talk about. When asked, he replies with a smile, "Non parlo Italiano" meaning – "I don't speak Italian" – really saying, ' no comment.'

He says he is happy to be back tending his flock. As one local priest from, of all places , a Hell's Kitchen parish put it, "What better way to evangelize than to show that you love what you do as a Cardinal, as a priest, as a Catholic."

Click Here For Juliet Papa's Vatican Blogs 'Following The Faithful'

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