Frank Rizzo | Democrat
JAMES O'NEILL AND his wife Anne made the most of their minute with Archbishop Timothy Dolan at last Tuesday’s visit by the prelate. Jim is a member and former Grand Knight of the Delaware Valley Knights of Columbus, based at Holy Cross Church in Callicoon.
By Frank Rizzo
MONTICELLO The first encounter between Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan and members of his Sullivan County flock resulted in evident mutual admiration.
Dolan has been on an inaugural tour of his most distant vicariates since he was installed as successor to Cardinal Edward Egan to lead the nation’s second largest archdiocese after Los Angeles.
About 350 selected congregants from the county’s parishes received tickets for a Tuesday night Vespers service at St. Peter’s Church in Monticello.
The archbishop interspersed the somber prayers with flashes of wit and humor.
After praising the “vibrancy of Catholic life here in Sullivan County” and telling listeners how “you already made me feel so very much at home,” he could not help adding: “Imagine what it’s like to walk through the doors and hear ‘How Great Thou Art’!”
The theme of his talk was “Prayer, People and Parishes,” and he noted that “the church we love is about people not about a Cathedral on Fifth Avenue,” referencing the seat of the archdiocese.
“It’s as important to me being here as being at Saint Patrick’s,” he said.
He got a laugh when he referred to the county’s “eleven and a half parishes” Our Lady of the Assumption in Bloomingburg is a mission church soon to become seat of a full parish.
He got a laugh when he mentioned his favorite places in Sullivan County (aside from St. Peter’s in Monticello, of course): Monticello Raceway and the Roscoe Diner.
The archbishop, 59, who previously headed the church in Milwaukee, thanked everyone for attending. After all, he added, “you could have been home watching the Mets game.” Pause. “On the other hand, the way they’ve been playing lately… maybe you’re better off here!”
On the receiving line in the church hall later, which stretched back to Broadway, the archbishop gave every greeter his full attention.
“I told him not to believe the Yankees propaganda. Let’s go Mets!” said Jeannie Roosa of St. Joseph’s in Wurtsboro.
“I appreciated his not forgetting the people in the boondocks,” related Tom Bennis of Callicoon and a member of the Knights of Columbus.
“He’s down to earth, he’s one of us,” said Father Ignatius Smith of Holy Cross in Callicoon. “He made a good impression, like he’s been my friend all my life.”