OSSINING, N.Y. Rev. Edward Byrne of St. Ann's Church said Pope Benedict XVI's nomination on Friday of New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan as cardinal came as a surprise to him given that Cardinal Edward Egan is already in the Archdiocese of New York and has not yet turned 80.
"The promotion would have been automatic once Egan turns 80 years old but the fact that the Pope would promote him now, ahead of time, is a sign that the Pope likes him, and we like him too," Byrne said.
Egan will turn 80 in April of this year.
Byrne said he likes Dolan because he is available and approachable and he knows how to make fun of himself.
"He takes away a lot of the formality by his humor," Byrne said. "He'll say things like, 'Oh boy, I'm eating good here in New York.'"
Dolan also adds a special touch by calling all of the more than 450 active priests in the Archdiocese of New York on their birthdays and also on the day they were ordained, Byrne said. Byrne received a call from Dolan on his last birthday on Feb. 24, 2011.
"He's very personable. He told me, 'I want to thank you for serving here. I know you work very hard and I'm proud of you.' He's very encouraging, always bolstering you up for what you do," Byrne said.
Bryne also noted that Dolan has a lot of stamina and patience.
"When he first came as an archbishop, he went to a mass with about 600 people at St. Patrick's in Yorktown. He stayed and greeted every single person individually," Byrne said. "We were all exhausted and he was still there glad-handing."
Dolan said in a statement on Friday that he was "honored, humbled and grateful" to have been named cardinal. He also thanked the people of the Archdiocese of New York, saying "This is about an affirmation of love from the Pope to a celebrated archdiocese and community, and a summons to its unworthy archbishop to serve Jesus, His Church universal, His vicar on earth, and His people better."
Dolan is the eighth archbishop of New York to be named a cardinal. He will become cardinal in a Consistory, or formal cardinals' meeting, on Feb. 18, 2012.
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