NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Social distancing does not come naturally to our affectionate Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan.

Saying mass in an empty cathedral and closing churches to protect public health are necessary but painful moves for Dolan and his fellow priests.

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“We’re shepherds without sheep because we’re not seeing our people. This is contrary to everything that we feel. We kind of feel straitjacketed in that we’re unable to be out there physically with our people to tend to them,” Dolan said.

To stay connected, his eminence is sharing more than usual on social media, posting videos of his prayer sessions, with special intentions offered for healthcare workers.


“They seem to be stretched physically, emotionally, spiritually and their supplies. They seem to be at their wits end. That concerns me. What gives me hope Tony, and does it ever, is to see how everybody’s pitching in,” Dolan told CBS2’s Tony Aiello.

The cardinal points to moments of community grace, such as a food distribution event at Washington Elementary School in White Plains.

Helping hands, open hearts – it’s the Golden Rule in action, Aiello reported.

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“They say it to me – ‘I found strength that I never knew was out there. I found strength within. I find strength in other people. I find strength in the Lord that I’ve kind of mentally known was there but didn’t click into practice. And now my faith is come alive,'” Dolan said.

Friday in Rome, Pope Francis delivered an extraordinary message to the world: Be not afraid, faith will free you from fear.

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“We turn to God for strength, we turn to God for encouragement and hope, because we need it very much, and when we get it, as we’re sure we will when the Lord answers our prayer, we want to share it with others – Amen!” Dolan said.

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This too shall pass, and the doors to St. Patrick’s Cathedral will open.