Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan will soon have a new title: cardinal.
Hearing the news, his mother told him it's about time.
The archbishop said he learned of the decision by Pope Benedict XVI to elevate him to cardinal Thursday -- and promptly called his mother.
"I called Mom last night," the spirited Dolan, 61, said Friday. "She said, 'It's about time.' "
The formal announcement that the church would elevate 22 prelates to cardinal was made by the pope during a midday Mass at the Vatican Friday. The newly named cardinals will be recognized at a ceremony Feb. 18 in Rome.
In a statement released Friday morning by the Archdiocese of New York, Dolan said he is "honored, humbled, and grateful" by the news.
"This is about an affirmation of love from the pope to a celebrated archdiocese and community," Dolan said, in part.
State and New York City officials offered praise and congratulations.
Speaking on the radio Friday morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told host John Gambling: "He's a good guy, and I think it's great for New York City and great for the church."
"Our state has been blessed by Archbishop Dolan's vision and leadership, and I offer him my support and friendship as he continues to lead the Catholic Church here in New York," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement.
Dolan "is an inspiring spiritual leader who has devoted his life to the Catholic Church and to improving the lives of New Yorkers of all faiths," State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), the majority leader, said in a statement. "His elevation to cardinal is a well deserved recognition of his faith, service and leadership."
State Sen. Ruben Diaz (D-32nd district), said in an e-mailed letter of congratulations, "In the great spirit of interfaith unity, I look forward to your years of leadership in New York and I will continue to keep you in my prayers." Diaz is also an ordained minister.
And at noon Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, where some parishioners were first hearing the announcement, good feelings were in the air.
"I love him," Cora Vasconcellos, 70, of Queens, said. She said she has been coming to Mass at St. Patrick's for 30 years and said: "I am ecstatic this morning. It is the best news I have heard . . . He has a great personality. The chemistry is just there."
Another parishioner, Gloria Magri, 72, of Manhattan, echoed the feeling shared by fellow congregants Friday. "He has charisma," she said. "He has something special -- and he's something special to me."
Dolan, who will turn 62 on Feb. 6, is the eighth archbishop of New York to be named a cardinal, including: Egan (2000-09, elevated in 2001); Cardinal John O'Connor (1984-2000, elevated in 1985); Cardinal Terence Cooke (1968-83, elevated 1969); Cardinal Francis Spellman (1939-67, elevated 1946); Cardinal Patrick Hayes (1919-38, elevated 1924); Cardinal John Farley (1902-18, elevated 1911); and Cardinal John McCloskey (1864-85, elevated 1875), the first American cardinal.
Some thought Dolan might be elevated to cardinal in October 2010, when Pope Benedict named 24 new cardinals.
Dolan was named archbishop of New York by the pope on Feb. 23, 2009, after serving as the archbishop of Milwaukee. He was installed as the archbishop on April 15, 2009.
Dolan was ordained to the priesthood on June 19, 1976, according to the Archdiocese of New York, then served as an associate pastor at Immacolata Parish in Richmond Heights, Mo., until 1979, when he began studies for a doctoral degree in American church history at Catholic University. He then served in parish ministry in the St. Louis area from 1983 to 1987, before being appointed to a five-year term as secretary to the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C. In 1994, he was appointed rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, serving until 2001 -- when he was named the auxiliary bishop of St. Louis by Pope John Paul II.
A consistory -- or, consistorium, in Latin -- is a formal meeting of the Sacred College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church and at the February occasion is when Dolan will be elevated to cardinal. The official Vatican website is reporting that the pope made the announcement at the midday Angelus for the celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany on Friday, also naming new cardinals in Toronto, Prague, Berlin, Hong Kong, Jerusalem and Syro Malabar, India. Eighteen of the new designates are younger than 80 -- meaning they remain eligible to enter the secret conclave to name a new pope upon the death of Pope Benedict.
There are 120 cardinals who serve as papal electors.
The Archdiocese of New York will briefly have two.
Cardinal Edward M. Egan, whom Dolan succeeded in 2009, retains his place among the papal electorate until his 80th birthday, April 2.
With Maria Alvarez and Anthony M. DeStefano