VATICAN CITY (CBSNewYork) – It was a day for family and friends for New York’s next cardinal.
On Wednesday, people who have known him for years gathered for a special mass, reports CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.
The New York delegation gathered for Mass in a church founded 300 years after the birth of Christ. St. John Lateran is the personal church of the pope, who gave Archbishop Dolan special permission to celebrate Mass at the ornate main altar.
“I so very much appreciate your presence. I am so happy that you are here!” Dolan told those in attendance.
Almost 1,000 pilgrims from Dolan’s past postings in St. Louis and Milwaukee — and his current post in New York — will be joining him in the days leading up to the consistory.
His very early days are represented, too. Sister Mary Bosco, now 87, was his first grade teacher. Dolan called her his supernatural mother.
“Mom keeps reminding Sister Bosco that shes older!” Dolan said.
Diane Beach was a classmate.
“He always wanted to be a priest, and he’s such a people person. He loves people, and we just knew he’d make it,” Beach said.
And while some tout Dolan as a potential pope, Sister Bosco had her own view.
“I don’t think I’d wish that on him. It’s too big a responsibility. He’s too young!” she said.
One moment Wednesday truly stood out. The archbishop’s younger brother, Robert, and his 84-year-old mother, Shirley, delivered the communion hosts to the soon-to-be cardinal.
On his way to Rome the archbishop joked about hiding her credit card so she couldn’t shop, but on Wednesday he paid her tribute.
“I speak about all the blessings I have, but the greatest blessing I have is to be Bob and Shirley Dolan’s son, so to have her with me … dynamite!” Dolan said.
Shirley Dolan was clearly tired after her trip from St. Louis and said it’s hard to describe what she feels on the eve of her son becoming a prince of the Church.
“I feel like I’m on the outside looking in. I’m just kind of floating around!” she said.
The archbishop’s brother said the reality of what will soon take place is starting to sink in.
“The last few weeks it’s been a buildup, but it was down the road, at arm’s length, but now that we’re here in Rome, I think the impact is starting to take its toll on all of us. Were very proud, obviously, but also humbled and proud to be here,” Robert Dolan said.
Nancy Waters of Bronxville said the first time she met Dolan he joined her in prayer for a friend who was dying.
“Ignored all his people trying to get his attention, and prayed for the dying man then and there in Latin and English. It doesn’t get any better than that,” Waters said.
The soon-to-be cardinal said he hopes to reward the pilgrims in attendance with lots of personal attention.
“I want to do two things together every day. I want to have Mass and I want to have a meal. So every day I will try to be with them for the great prayer, the Mass, and we’ll usually have a meal together, which you’re all invited to. I hope you can make it,” Archbishop Dolan said.
On Thursday, Cardinal-designate Dolan has a full schedule of activities. He is taping a radio show, meeting with the news media and then celebrating Mass with pilgrims at one of Rome’s four great basilicas later Thursday afternoon.
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