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John Mercure: Mercurey Rising

My Time with Archbishop Timothy Dolan

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   This morning as I heard that former Milwaukee Archbishop and current New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan had been named a Cardinal, I decided to throw Hail Mary pass. I called his office in New York. I spent considerable time with Dolan when he was in Milwaukee, and even go to know him before he arrived.  I knew there was little chance he would get back to me.  I was told by his office that media from around the world were trying to get in touch with him.  Despite the admonition, I left my cell phone number.

     In the summer of 2002 I was very fortunate.  St. Louis bishop Timothy Dolan was named Archbishop of Milwaukee. I was a young reporter at WTMJ TV and my news director decided to send a camera crew and me down to St. Louis to get to know the new Archbishop.

     It was an amazing few days.  We were welcomed like family.  Dolan showed us around. We spent time in the neighborhoods where he grew up.  We met his family.  We even hung out at one of his favorite watering holes.  We went into the neighborhood tavern to get some video of him interacting with folks.  After about ten minutes we told him that we had enough.  But he wasn’t done yet. I remember him asking us to sit down and just chat a little bit.  We had a couple of beverages and just got to know each. I was extremely curious about the man who was set to lead Milwaukee Catholics.  But what was amazing was that he was just as interested to get to know my photographer and me. It was a reflection of the kind of man he is; genuine, humble, sincere.

   Over the next several years I got to know Archbishop Dolan well.  And every time I saw him he remembered the name of my wife and two daughters.  Every time I felt like one of the busiest men in Milwaukee had all the time in the world to just chat.

   So today I’m sitting in the studio doing our radio show.  It’s about 4pm and I see my cell phone ringing.  I had just started a one minute commercial break. I don’t usually answer my phone during the show, but something told me I should pick it up.  It was a weird feeling.  “Hello, John. How are you?”  It was Archbishop Dolan.  “I would be happy to help you however I can.”  I was stunned.  Stunned.  I asked him to call back the hotline and he immediately did.  I was so surprised, I had trouble getting my act together.

   Here is our conversation with Archbishop Dolan.

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