Archbishop Timothy Dolan to visit Holy Land
GalleriesCardinal Timothy M. Dolan
A spiritual trip to the Holy Land is exactly what Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan says he needs before he goes to Rome to be elevated to cardinal next month.
"I need it more now than ever to visit the roots of Christianity," said Dolan, 61, who visited children and spoke at Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary School in East Harlem Wednesday.
"What better way to prepare than to be back in touch with Jesus Christ. To go to the place where he was born. Where he had the Last Supper. It will be a time of praying and being on my knees. This is reviving," he said, clutching his hands to his chest.
Dolan, who leaves for Israel next week for a nine-day visit, called the trip a "retreat." The archbishop will be accompanied by 50 priests from the New York Archdiocese.
"We will be able to spend time together and get to know one another better," he said, emphasizing that even after becoming a cardinal, his primary duty will be to lead the New York Archdiocese.
For math teacher Marcia Sirni, 63, of Manhattan, meeting Dolan yesterday was "exhilarating. He is such an open, warm and friendly person. He made me feel welcomed in my own school," she said.
"Having him visit gives me a real sense of accomplishment. We don't get to see the people at the top, and for people like us who are in the trenches it just makes me -- us -- feel good and appreciated."
Dolan has always had the ability to warm up to people and bring them together, said Eileen Shannahan, 83, of Ballwin, Mo., his first-grade Catholic school teacher. She will make the trip to Rome for the consistory ceremony.
"This is a trip of a lifetime," said Shannahan, who has followed Dolan's career and attended his Masses when he was bishop in St. Louis.
At the Holy Infant school in Ballwin, a small St. Louis suburb, Shannahan remembers, Dolan was "a shy boy," always well-behaved.
"A star pupil," she said. "He was never one to wave his hand all the time. But when I called on him, I could always depend on him for the right answer."
Dolan's success "is no surprise," she said. "He was a very intelligent boy. He always came along and was everybody's friend."
"There wasn't any situation he could not handle. He was open to all, and was a problem solver -- a great mediator. It was a lot of fun to watch him become outgoing and humorous."
Also, making the trip to Rome for the Feb. 18 ceremonies will be Mary and Rob Bossart of Rockville Centre, parishioners of St. Agnes Cathedral, the seat of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
"It will be a spiritual time," said Mary Bossart. "To be there and experience the rites of the church will be very uplifting and strengthening."