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New York – The installation of New York Archbishop-designate Timothy Dolan is stretching over two days in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, in services before thousands of well-wishers ranging from his elementary school teacher to the Vatican’s U.S. ambassador.
Dolan, 59, the former Milwaukee archbishop, is taking over the most visible American job in the Roman Catholic Church and the nation’s second-largest diocese after Los Angeles.
Cardinal Edward Egan, 77, is retiring as New York’s archbishop after nine years. Dolan is expected to eventually be made a cardinal, as well.
His predecessors were men who were prominent not only in the church, but also in broader society.
Cardinal Francis Spellman was so influential in New York politics that his residence was dubbed “the powerhouse.” Cardinal John O’Connor was the most forceful U.S. Catholic voice in the public debates of his era. In the 2000 election, when President George W. Bush apologized for visiting Bob Jones University, which considers Catholicism a false religion, he wrote a public letter of contrition to O’Connor.
President Barack Obama congratulated Dolan by phone Feb. 23, when the church announced his appointment.
A St. Louis native and the oldest of five children, Dolan holds a doctorate from The Catholic University of America and is former rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, considered the West Point for U.S. priests.
In the ceremony Tuesday night, Dolan will knock on the cathedral doors three times, seeking entrance to take claim of the archbishop’s seat.
In his sermons Tuesday and Wednesday, Dolan said he will ask that Catholics not be so consumed by their problems in these difficult times that they turn inward and away from the church and wider community.
Dolan said Monday that he will reach out to alienated Catholics and urge them to rejoin the church.
“We need you. We love you. The church is your family,” he said. “Please come back. We miss you. We’re sorry if we hurt you. We’ll listen to you. It’s not the same without you.”
The archdiocese covers a region with 2.5 million parishioners in nearly 400 churches and an annual budget estimated to be at least half a billion dollars.
The vast Catholic service network in the region includes 10 colleges and universities, hundreds of schools and aid agencies, and nine hospitals that treat about a million people annually.
Among the challenges Dolan faces are drawing more men to the priesthood; serving the growing number of New York Latinos; strengthening the finances of Catholic schools and parishes; and leading the church’s opposition to gay marriage and abortion in liberal-leaning New York.
Dolan’s elementary school teacher, Sister Mary Bosco Daly, who lives in Ireland, was invited to give a reading at the Tuesday night event. Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Vatican ambassador to the U.S., will read a letter from Pope Benedict XVI naming Dolan to the job. On Wednesday, a Mass will be celebrated in the cathedral, formally installing Dolan. About 5,000 well-wishers are expected to attend.
Associated Press
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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