ST. LOUIS — Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York came home to St. Louis July 31 with a loud gathering of friends and family — eventually adding a national audience — while munching on a cheeseburger and a shake.
The joy of being Catholic was present at the visit by Cardinal Dolan to a Steak ‘n Shake restaurant in Maplewood.
Billed as “Dinner With Cardinal Dolan: A Homecoming Broadcast,” he recorded his “Conversations With Cardinal Dolan” show, which airs on the Catholic Channel on SiriusXM satellite radio.
Cardinal Dolan also was joined at his favorite restaurant — the place he and his siblings always picked when their parents mentioned going out to eat — by an audience of SiriusXM listeners. He was in town for the Knights of Columbus’ 135th annual Supreme Convention.
Cardinal Dolan joked with his guests. They included Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis; Cardinal Justin Rigali, retired archbishop of Philadelphia and former archbishop of St. Louis; Bishop Richard F. Stika of Knoxville, Tennessee, a native of St. Louis; Msgr. Michael Witt, a professor of church history at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis; and Father Peter Blake, a parish pastor.
Also joining the cardinal were his mother, Shirley Dolan, his niece Kathleen Dolan, who sang “What Do I Know,” representatives from Immaculate Conception — the parish where Cardinal Dolan was baptized and his parents were married — and John A. Marrella, the supreme advocate and general counsel of the Knights of Columbus.
Each guest received a dose of Cardinal Dolan’s wit and charm but also provided insight, such as Msgr. Witt’s knowledge of church history in St. Louis, starting with the first settlers who he said were “devout Catholics.”
Cardinal Dolan shook hands, patted people on the back and posed for photos before and after the recording. He initially wore a New York Yankees hat but asked, “Is this going to be on TV?” Hearing “No,” he replaced the hat with a St. Louis Cardinals cap. He raved about Maplewood and joked about a rivalry with neighboring towns and parishes. His father proposed to his mother at a neighborhood tavern, he said.
He welcomed Archbishop Carlson, noting that he’s a Minneapolis-St. Paul native, “a great city with a stinking ball team.” Cardinal Dolan praised St. Louis Catholics, and Archbishop Carlson explained that “the roots of the faith are very deep” in St. Louis, the people are “fantastic supporters of the church and its Catholic educational system” and the city has a lot of things to do.
Cardinal Dolan introduced Cardinal Rigali, saying that with a few more cardinals they could field a team. He introduced Bishop Stika as “a great St. Louis boy from Epiphany Parish.”
When presented with a couple bags of Cardinals baseball items, Cardinal Dolan joked, “This will go over big in St. Patrick’s Cathedral” in New York.
Afterward, in a brief interview, Cardinal Dolan talked of his memories of the area, adding that he doesn’t forget Holy Infant Parish in Ballwin, where he spent most of his youth. “It’s good to be back here,” he said.
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Kenny is on the staff of the St. Louis Review, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.