New leader eager to meet stalwarts of the archdiocese
By TOM HEINEN and MEG KISSINGER
of the Journal Sentinel staffLast Updated: June 25, 2002Blending
expressions of faith with Irish wit, Milwaukee's gregarious new
archbishop-elect let it be known Tuesday that his top priority would be to
get out among the "meat and potato" Catholics who are the heart of the
The next archbishop of Milwaukee, Timothy M. Dolan (right), and retired
Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland greet each other Tuesday at a news
conference at the Cousins Center in St. Francis.
Timothy Dolan let it be known Tuesday that he doesn't like convenient
The Dolan File
Born: Feb. 6, 1950, in St. Louis.
Ordained: June 19, 1976, by Edward T. O'Meara, then auxiliary
bishop of St. Louis.
Education: St. Louis Preparatory Seminary in Shrewsbury, Mo.;
bachelor's degree, Cardinal Glennon College in Shrewsbury; master's
degrees, Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome and Catholic
University in Washington, D.C.; doctorate, Catholic University.
Associate pastor at Immacolata Parish in Richmond Heights, Mo.
Served at two other St. Louis-area parishes.
From 1987 to 1992, he was secretary to the Apostolic Nunciature in
In 1992, he became vice rector of the Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St.
In 1994, he became rector of the Pontifical North American College in
In June 2001, he was named auxiliary bishop of St. Louis.
Maureen Fitzsimmons-Vanden Heuvel celebrates the selection of a new
archbishop of Milwaukee by decorating St. Patrick's Catholic Church in the
Town of Erin in Washington County. Fitzsimmons-Vanden Heuvel and others
are fighting former Archbishop Weakland's decision to merge St. Patrick's
with St. Kilian in Hartford.
We think he's Catholic. He seems interested in building up the Catholic
Church. That should be a refreshing change in what we have
- Al Szews,
Weakland critic and Milwaukee chapter president of Catholics United for
don't think it is with glee.
- Terry Ryan,
member of Voices of the Faithful, on how liberals would accept Dolan
think he can give us some balance that has been lost over these last few
- Tim Kitzke,
pastor, Three Holy Women
"My first major challenge is to get to know the folks," said Dolan, who
quipped that in St. Louis he visited so many school events, fish fries and
bingo games that he nearly had to be chained to his desk.
"I always say that the strength of any diocese, and it's certainly true of
the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, is what I would call the meat and potato
Catholics. These are just the faithful men and women who love the Lord,
who love their church, who want to raise their kids in the faith. This is
the heart and soul of the church."
The man who will be installed Aug. 28 in the Cathedral of St. John the
Evangelist as the new leader of the 10-county archdiocese's nearly 690,000
Catholics and nearly 440 diocesan priests sees the archdiocese as simply a
He's been an associate pastor and seminary rector in Rome and St. Louis.
He's been in recent months the point man handling sexual abuse allegations
for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. And, for the past 10 months, he's been
an auxiliary bishop in St. Louis.
But he's never been the pastor in charge.
Where he ultimately will try to lead his flock is a matter of intense
interest for Catholics at every point on the theological spectrum.
Hand-picked by the hierarchy in the United States and Rome, and appointed
Tuesday by Pope John Paul II, the 52-year-old Dolan is more conservative
than the man he is replacing. Former Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland was
seen as one of the nation's leading liberal intellectuals in an
increasingly conservative church.
Weakland retired amid revelations that the archdiocese paid $450,000 to
Paul Marcoux, a man who claimed that Weakland sexually assaulted him more
than 20 years ago when Marcoux was a theology student at Marquette
Dolan, who has a doctorate in church history and a licentiate in sacred
theology, is no academic slouch. But he let it be known during a morning
news conference at the Cousins Center in St. Francis that he doesn't abide
by convenient labels and a paint-by-the-numbers approach to doing
Asked what it will be like to succeed the liberal Weakland, the ample
archbishop-elect said, "You're asking maybe if there's any difference
between Archbishop Weakland and me? And there is, a big one. About 50
pounds, right off the bat."
Dolan went on to say that he has been described as a man without
ideologies, who doesn't put much trust in labels of liberal and
conservative. He is a man, he said, who loves his church, Jesus Christ,
his people and his priesthood.
"So, are there going to be differences between Archbishop Weakland and
me?" Dolan asked rhetorically. "I suppose so, just as there were between
Archbishop Cousins and Archbishop Weakland. But he's a man I respect a
lot, and I would say that we share the same faith, we share the same deep
commitment. So just those kind of vocabularies and those kind of titles as
liberal and conservative, they don't cut much mustard with me."
Weakland, who had praised Dolan's selection moments earlier as "a very
wise and a good choice at this moment of history for the Archdiocese of
Milwaukee," was sitting a few feet away from Dolan with Auxiliary Bishop
Richard J. Sklba.
Father Thomas Reese, editor of the Jesuit weekly magazine America and an
expert on the Vatican, recalled that Dolan had called for happy and holy
priests to attract more men to the priesthood while speaking at a
"If he comes to Milwaukee and he wants to make his priests happy and holy,
I think they will like that, and the people will like that," Reese said.
"He seems to have a pastoral orientation, and if he comes and listens to
the people, I think he'll work out very well."
Father Robert Wild, president of Marquette University, said that he was
"I would presume he would be more conservative, in the sense that this is
the tenor of the kinds of appointments that have been made . . . but to me
the major issue is if he is open to people and in touch with the real
concerns of real people, if he has a pastoral understanding. I think
that's going to carry him a long way no matter where he falls on the
While Dolan's brother priests might worry about his views at first, Frank
Malloy, pastor at St. Luke's in Brookfield, said those concerns should
soon melt away.
"Once they meet him, I don't think it will be a problem," Malloy said. "He
is a very understanding fellow."
Al Szews, a longtime critic of Weakland's and the Milwaukee chapter
president of Catholics United for the Faith, a group that others call
conservative and members describe as orthodox, said their members were
"especially grateful" for Dolan's appointment.
"We think he's Catholic," Szews said. "He seems interested in building up
the Catholic Church. That should be a refreshing change in what we have
Szews said he expects that some priests will leave the church as a result
of Dolan's appointment.
"There will be some who fall by the wayside," Szews said. "These are
priests who have become accustomed in the last 25 years to a way of life
not conducive to priestly lives. You had an archbishop that forced priests
out of the rectories. Men who are supposed to be living a chaste life were
plied with the biggest salary schedule in the country. The emphasis has
been on letting the priests find themselves rather than priests serving
God by serving man. You have priests openly engaging in homosexual and
Likewise, Maureen Fitzsimmons-Vanden Heuvel, who fought Weakland's plan to
close St. Patrick Church in Erin, said she and members of her church
preservation group were "thrilled" with Dolan's appointment.
Fitzsimmons-Vanden Heuvel said she was frustrated with the lack of
response her group got with Weakland in their efforts to meet with him and
challenge his decision to close their church. She said she was hopeful
that Dolan would be more responsive.
"I'm confident we have the right man for the job," she said.
Not everyone was as enthusiastic. Terry Ryan, a member of Voices of the
Faithful, a group encouraging the empowerment of laity in the church, said
she was disappointed that the people were not consulted on their
preference for a new archbishop.
"It was just imposed by Rome," she said.
Asked how she thought Dolan would be accepted by the more liberal members
of the diocese, Ryan said, "I don't think it is with glee."
Bryan Massingale, a theologian who teaches ethics at St. Francis Seminary,
said he would reserve judgment until he could get to know Dolan. Still, he
said, he was impressed with Dolan's "upbeat personality and sense of
"That's something that's really needed here now," Massingale said.
Tim Kitzke, pastor of Three Holy Women, said he hoped people would not
judge Dolan on ideological lines. "Instead of putting on labels, it's time
to gather together," he said. "Let's give this guy some breathing room."
Kitzke said he was looking at Dolan's faith, not his politics.
"I think he can give us some balance that has been lost over these last
few months," Kitzke said. "I'm excited about moving on to the next phase.
There is some real healing that still needs to be done, and to do that we
need time. Now we have a fresh vantage."
Dolan said that he hoped his appointment would be an occasion of spiritual
renewal and commitment for himself and for the archdiocese. The church in
southeastern Wisconsin and across the nation has experienced a lot of pain
in recent months, he said.
"About all I can do - but boy I want to do with all the exuberance that I
can - is through my words and actions to be a man of hope," he said.
Dolan said he supported the pope's view that no one who has sexually
abused a child or youth should be permitted to remain in ministry. And he
pledged to carry out the new national policy on sexual abuse that the U.S.
bishops adopted on June 15 in Dallas.
Later, he said that he had learned four things from his recent months
handling sexual abuse allegations for the Archdiocese of St. Louis: It is
not possible to exaggerate the pain of the victims; church leaders can
never say "I'm sorry" enough; be honest, open and upfront; and mean it
with every fiber of your being when you say that your primary goal is to
One clue to Dolan's broader approach to ministry came through as he
described in an interview the influence on him of Holy Infant Parish, the
small-town parish outside of St. Louis in which he grew up.
"That parish was so cohesive, so supportive," he said. "It was the center
of our lives. We were blessed with Irish nuns, nuns who came from Ireland.
Great priests. And I've often thought my goal as a priest is to re-create
that beautiful, happy, sustaining environment of the parish where I was
Dolan, who was ordained in 1976, is finally getting his chance.