Archbishop Dolan reflects on a year in NYC

February 22, 2010 3:18:00 PM PST
It has now been almost a year for New Yorkers to get to know Archbishop Timothy Dolan. It was a year ago this week that the Midwesterner was appointed Archbishop of New York.

Since then he has traveled to every vicariate and talked with hundreds of priests.

We talked with Archbishop Dolan on Monday about the challenges facing the church and how he's adapting to life in New York City.

Laughter comes easily to Archbishop Timothy Dolan. He pokes fun at himself even as he reflects back on his first year.

"It has been exciting. It has gone by fast. It has been learning. It's obvious that New York has grown on me and I am trying to work on that during Lent," Dolan said with a smile.

And it's no surprise. Many New Yorkers have been blunt when it comes to his girth.

"The number of people who have come to me, from the mayor's office on down, and said, 'Archbishop, we kind of like having you around. We're worried about you. You better work on your weight." They're right, and I really, really have to watch the intake because I love to eat. I love being with people," he said.

On more serious matters, Archbishop Dolan has spent his first year in New York battling a down economy, one that he says has delivered a double whammy for the church.

"Whammy number one, more people are coming to church for help. Whammy number two, we have less money to give out," Dolan said.

His predecessor, Cardinal Egan, closed many schools and parishes to help balance church finances. It's a painful process and one that may not be over.

"Will there be future school closings? I wish I could say no. I sure hate doing it, but I'm sure there will be," he said.

Archbishop Dolan doesn't like delivering bad news. His trademark sense of humor helps lessen the pain. He can throw out one liners like a night club act.

"I love walks and I love fresh air. Do you know where I can get any?" he joked with us.

He says humor to him is a "virtue of hope."

And speaking of hope, there is that matter of being elevated to cardinal. An announcement could come as early as this fall.

Archbishop Dolan will be our special guest on Up Close this coming Sunday at 11:00 a.m.