Today Pope Benedict XVI appointed Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee to become the next Archbishop of New York, a see that the Vatican more than once has described as “the capital of the world.”
Timothy Michael Dolan was born February 6, 1950, the first of five children of Shirley Radcliffe Dolan and the late Robert Dolan.
In 1964, he began his high school seminary education at St. Louis Preparatory Seminary South in Shrewsbury, Mo. After studying at Cardinal Glennon College and then at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Archbishop Dolan was ordained a priest on June 19, 1976.
Dolan then began his time in parish ministry serving as associate pastor at Immacolata Parish in Richmond Heights, Mo., until 1979 when he began studies for a doctorate in American Church History at the Catholic University of America.
Before completing his doctorate, he spent a year researching the late Archbishop Edwin O'Hara, a founder of the Catholic Biblical Association. Archbishop O'Hara's life and ministry was the subject of the archbishop's doctoral dissertation.
On his return to St. Louis, Dolan resumed parish ministry (1983-87) and simultaneously served as a liaison for the late Archbishop John L. May tasked with restructuring the college and theology programs of the archdiocesan seminary system.
In 1987, he was appointed to a five-year term as secretary to the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C.
When he returned to St. Louis in 1992, he was appointed vice rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, serving also as director of Spiritual Formation and a professor of Church History.
In 1994, he became rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome where he served until June 2001.
While in Rome, he also served as a visiting professor of Church History at the Pontifical Gregorian University and as a faculty member in the Department of Ecumenical Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, his Alma Mater.
On June 19, 2001 –the 25th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood- Fr. Dolan was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of St. Louis by Pope John Paul II, choosing for his Episcopal motto the profession of faith of St. Peter: Ad Quem Ibimus, "Lord to whom shall we go?" (Jn 6:68).
Timothy Michael Dolan was named Archbishop of Milwaukee by Pope John Paul II on June 25, 2002.
He was installed as Milwaukee's 10th Archbishop on August 28, 2002, following the controversial leadership of Archbishop Rembert Weakland, whose resignation was accepted less than 24 hours after its submission to the Vatican, after he admitted having a sexual relationship with an adult man in the 80s.
During his years in Milwaukee, the Archbishop-elect of New York earned a reputation of a “fish-and-chips type of man" –as he described himself when appointed to Milwaukee, - capable of building a good relationship with the priests of the diocese, while at the same time restoring a sense of authority and fidelity to the teachings of the Church.
In January of 2004—right in the middle of the sexual abuse crisis—Archbishop Dolan created a "Clergy sexual abuse mediation system" that was aimed at dealing "openly, compassionately and creatively with victims/survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy members."
"While this system clearly will function outside the structure of the Catholic Church, I still will be involved with victims/survivors who wish to meet with me. Hearing from victims/survivors is not only important for their recovery from this tragedy, but it is important for me as the leader of the Catholic Church of southeastern Wisconsin," Dolan said in 2004.
Eager to use mass media for the new evangelization, Archbishop Dolan has also been the host of a TV program that explains Catholic beliefs and teachings and is sponsored by Milwaukee's Catholic Knights. The second series of the 30-minute television program entitled "Living Our Faith” began on February 14, 2009.
Despite the fact that he is set to depart Milwaukee for his new mission in New York, the remaining eight episodes will air at noon every Saturday until April 11, at which time the name of his successor will probably be already known.
Archbishop Dolan will arrive to New York with the reputation of a man that is comfortable with the press and has a passion for Catholic education. Also of note is his expertise in working with seminaries. According to his official biography posted on the Archdiocese of Milwaukee's website, "the work of the Archbishop in the area of seminary education has influenced the life and ministry of a great number of priests of the new millennium."
Bishop Robert Morlino, of Madison, Wisconsin, reacted saying that “while the State of Wisconsin is loosing an excellent pastor, I cannot react to the news of today’s appointment with anything but joy! Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who I’ve been blessed to know for many years – as rector of the North American College, Auxiliary-Bishop of Saint Louis and as my own metropolitan archbishop – is a man dedicated, without question, to the service of Christ and His Church.”“While he comes to the Archdiocese of New York, equipped with a tremendous understanding of the history of our Church and a profound love of the priesthood, Archbishop Dolan is also a man particularly endowed with gifts of charity and zeal, and is truly dedicated to the New Evangelization proclaimed by Pope John Paul the Great. Building on the great work already accomplished by the faithful of the Archdiocese of New York, including his most recent predecessors Edward Cardinal Egan and John Cardinal O’Connor, I am certain that Archbishop Dolan will be an outstanding pastor and father, guiding his new flock to ever deeper faith, hope, and charity,” Bishop Morlino said.
As the new Archbishop of New York, Dolan will be serving 2.5 million Catholics.