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In the company of cardinals!

By Rachel Daly
Contributing writer

When I heard that Archbishop Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York was being made a cardinal, and I realized I would be in Rome at the time of the ceremony, I decided right then that I had to go.

Having encountered Archbishop Dolan at the New York State Catholic Conference in 2010 and then again at World Youth Day just this past summer, I knew him to be a sound teacher, a courageous leader, and a joyous and humble example of faith, and it didn’t escape my awareness just how momentous his elevation to the College of Cardinals would be.

Everyone I asked agreed that it would be next to impossible to get tickets to the event, but with a laugh I told them that I would gate crash if I had to. Not even I believed that I would actually get to go. But God had other plans for me. I somehow found myself in St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday, February 18th, amidst an eagerly expectant crowd of people, waiting for the consistory of the cardinals to begin.

My friends and I had scraped tickets to the event, fought all-out mobs, and by some miracle made it inside the basilica. Not only that, but we had also landed aisle seating, within eight to ten feet of where the pope and cardinals-to-be would soon be processing in.

While we waited, bishops and cardinals casually strolled the aisles, shaking hands and receiving congratulations from the crowd. Soon-to-be-Cardinal Dolan even made a pre-ceremony appearance, showing off his new red colors with his characteristic humor.

The crowd was abuzz with excitement at the day’s events and what they signified for the Catholic Church.
Throughout history, God has raised up saints to help carry the Church through times of adversity, and these men being elevated to the status of cardinal were among those He had raised up to lead us through the challenges of the here and now.

The recent health care mandate regarding contraception stands out as a vivid example of the difficulty that the Church now faces, and the bishops in the US have taken the lead in defending against this threat to our freedom and our faith. Though I won’t presume to call any of these men saints just yet, I will say that there is ongoing renewal happening within the Church, and that seeing these new faces joining the ranks of the cardinals in Rome only served to make this renewal more apparent to me.

The Church is alive and dynamic, and despite the daunting challenges we face, we have every reason to hope that God will supply sufficient grace to lead us through. The ceremony was beautiful, and afterward, I had the extraordinary privilege of meeting Cardinal Dolan and personally assuring him that the Diocese of Ogdensburg sent their congratulations.

I also got to meet Cardinal O’Brien of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and the following day, I attended Mass with the pope and all the new cardinals.

The entire experience was a blessing, and I carried everyone from back home in my heart, knowing that so many people would have loved to have been there to share in that experience with me. But what I learned from this was that however extraordinary it was to witness the raising up of new people to lead the Church in the Vatican, this kind of renewal is not limited to what goes on in Rome.

God is raising up new people to carry His Church across the globe. We can look to those who serve us in positions of leadership for inspiration when the going gets tough, but in the end we ourselves must be willing to be raised up, and no matter how small we are, to stand side by side with them as members of the same body, the same spirit in Christ.

Rachel Daly, graduate of Seton Catholic in Plattsburgh and current student at the University of Dallas, is spending a semester in Rome. On Feb. 18, she was able to attend the Consistory during which Pope Benedict XVI elevated 22 to the College of Cardinals. After the ceremony, “I had the extraordinary privilege of meeting Cardinal Dolan and personally assuring him that the Diocese of Ogdensburg sent their congratulations,” Rachel writes.


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