New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan makes a powerful presentation at the cathedral
By COLE DESANTIS, Rhode Island Catholic Correspondent
PROVIDENCE — On Sunday, May 15, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, made a special presentation at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul as part of the 150th anniversary celebration of the Diocese of Providence.
Hundreds of people were in attendance for the major event, co-sponsored by the Diocese and the Portsmouth Institute for Faith and Culture, including lay people, clergy and religious, as well as pupils from Catholic schools dressed of their school uniforms.
Welcoming guests at the cathedral door were a group of student ambassadors from Bishop Hendricken High School.
One of those students, freshman Evan Francchina, was eagerly awaiting the cardinal’s speech.
“[I was told that] Cardinal Dolan is a very dynamic personality, a great speaker, and he’s done a lot so far with Jewish-Catholic relations, and I feel like that’s something I’m really open to and ready to listen,” Francina said.
Cardinal Dolan, well known for his many books and articles explaining and defending the faith, as well as his frequent television and radio appearances, did not disappoint.
During his presentation, he combined, as usual, theological depth with wit and humor.
“My friends, it is a real honor and a joy to be here,” Cardinal Dolan said. “And congratulations, beloved Diocese of Providence. Now take it from this guy from a diocese on the coast that’s been around for about 44 years longer than you, you don’t look bad for 150 years.
The night’s events began with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, which also included a short reflection by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin.
“Your Eminence, we are very grateful to you for your presence among us this evening,” Bishop Tobin began. “We are so proud of Cardinal Dolan. He was an outstanding friend and leader to the Church in the Archdiocese of New York and across the United States in many ways and for many days.
“But the truth is,” Bishop Tobin continued, “His Eminence is not our most important guest tonight. Our most important guest is our Lord Jesus Christ, present with us at this time in the Blessed Sacrament. This should not surprise us at all, for from the very beginning of the Church, from the apostolic era, Jesus has been present to his Church in the Eucharist.
“In all countries, saints and sinners, martyrs and missionaries, religious and royalty, peasants and popes, they have all been nourished by the same Eucharist,” the bishop said.
The theme of Jesus’ presence in his Church being the central part of Catholic life was later taken up by Cardinal Dolan.
After the Adoration and Blessing, Cardinal Dolan was introduced by Auxiliary Bishop Robert C. Evans, who noted that the cardinal’s episcopal motto is “Ad Quem Ibimus,” “To whom shall we go?” based on the words of St. Peter in John 6:68.
“After all the other followers of Jesus left him after hearing the discourse on the bread of life, only the apostles remained,” Bishop Evans said.
“St. Peter, speaking on behalf of the other apostles, said, ‘Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’”
Commenting on this, Bishop Evans said, “May I suggest that Cardinal Dolan’s ministry has been to help others echo Peter’s response, to discover in Jesus of Nazareth the Alpha and Omega, the Way, Truth and Life”.
“He did it shamelessly, but humbly,” Bishop Evans continued, giving a brief summary of the cardinal’s life, ministry and church career.
Cardinal Dolan, 72, began his ministry in 1976 when he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. During his career, Father Dolan went on to work as a parish priest, in addition to serving at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, DC, and as a spiritual director at the local seminary.
In addition to his various ecclesial roles, he also held a series of academic roles, including as rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome and assistant professor of theology at Saint Louis University.
In 2001, he was consecrated Auxiliary Bishop of St. Louis, a position he held for just over a year until he was named Archbishop of Milwaukee. In 2009 he was named the 14th Archbishop of New York, and in 2012 he was elevated by Pope Benedict XVI to the dignity of cardinal.
He has also served as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as chairman of the USCCB pro-life committee.
Cardinal Dolan’s presentation, which was titled “I have neither silver nor gold” – a reference to the words spoken by St. Peter as he healed the crippled man in Acts 3:6 (“I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give unto you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, walk”) – focused on what he saw as the fundamental qualities of the Church in apostolic times, which, according to him, needed to be emphasized in our time to help the Church through its present crisis.
He specifically saw nine key qualities as defining the New Testament Church, the first being a strong emphasis on the continued presence of Christ with His Church.
Another quality of the Church in apostolic times was strong devotion and a deep knowledge of moral good and evil. This included, he noted, not only a devotion to obeying Jewish religious law, but also a strong emphasis on helping the poor, defending marriage, pursuing virtue and defending dignity. of every human life.
Cardinal Dolan went on to say that these qualities do not define the Church in times gone by, but still apply to the Church to this day. It is these qualities, he asserted, that should be central to the Christian life.
He noted that many in the Church today unfortunately remain too focused on the Church as it existed in its past glory, at the height of its material prosperity and cultural and moral influence.
“A danger today, I fear,” Cardinal Dolan said, “just looked at the Church we knew years ago, and lamented that much of it no longer exists. “.
He used as an example an anecdote from shortly after his appointment as Archbishop of New York: While being shown around the city by a local deacon from another New York diocese, the deacon frequently took the time to report closed or missing places. Catholic parishes, schools, hospitals, seminaries and orphanages once existed.
He concluded by affirming that there are two attitudes that one can adopt: the first is to see the vigor of the Church as something linked to influence, wealth and cultural dynamism; the second is to see the vitality of the Church as something linked primarily to its devotion to Christ.
“Is it all a curse, this silver and gold we don’t have?” asked the cardinal. “I would suggest otherwise,” he proclaimed.
“Yes, we have neither silver nor gold, but we still have the greatest treasure of all, this pearl of great price. What we have, we give, Jesus Christ. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow,” he said.
“All those famous buildings, structures, institutions, numbers, weights, were a means to an end, weren’t they, the end being to give us and the world Jesus Christ.”
Cardinal Dolan’s speech was followed by a reception in the Cathedral Hall, where he happily mingled with those present.
Seminarian Adam Habershaw said he enjoyed the cardinal’s presentation.
“I think the points he scored were great,” Habershaw said. “We are not a Church to have silver or gold, we are a Church to have Jesus and to indwell the Holy Spirit in us, and to come out, as we are commanded, to go baptize in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and go and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the rest of the world.
Father John A. Kiley, a senior priest who is the ecumenical officer for the diocese, said Cardinal Dolan’s observations were accurate.
“What he said was true,” Father Kiley said. “There was a time when the Church was materially very prosperous, very visible, very rich. And times have changed… but, as he said, ‘I have neither silver nor gold, but what I have I give to you, Jesus Christ.’ We still have that.
“I thought it was very powerful,” said retired journalist Richard Dujardin. “He knew how to raise the diocese. … It was actually very inspiring.
Bishop Tobin said the cardinal really “hit the nail on the head” with his presentation.
“We are certainly very happy and very honored to have his presence this evening, and I think his presentation was perfect for this moment in the history of the diocese.