If there was any doubt that Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan was the leader, the face and voice of the Catholic Church in the United States, there isn’t after his election as president of the U.S. Conference of Bishops on Nov. 16. It is safe to say that Archbishop Dolan is Pope Benedict XVI’s and his brother bishops’ “go to” guy in the U.S. With his media savvy — probably as comfortable with Comedy Central as he is with EWTN, and diplomatic skills — he’ll talk to anybody about anything, he’s an excellent choice for that role. The bishops had to be impressed by the archbishop’s willingness to stand up to the anti-Catholicism of The New York Times. Expect numerous rematches in the years ahead. 

So many are writing how this was an upset victory for Archbishop Dolan, but they forget that in 2007, he only lost the vice presidency to Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas by two votes. Consider how much the landscape of the bishops’ conference has changed during those three years. Thus, it is no surprise that the protege of Cardinal Justin F. Rigali (Dolan) proved to be a more popular presidential choice than the protege of Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin (Kicanas). By the way, last Sunday, Nov. 14, marked the 14th anniversary of the death of Cardinal Bernardin.

Presidential visit: Mark your calendar — Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011 — Archbishop Dolan is scheduled to give the Pallium Lecture in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee that night. Keep in mind that schedules and commitments change, but if he is able to keep this one, they will need a venue that will hold several thousand people. While the Pallium Lecture is always free, this is one people would definitely pay to hear.  

Faith and field: Mike DeWitt, the longtime track and cross country coach at UW-Parkside who took the same job at Ave Maria University in Florida, wrote to say that a few weeks ago, after his team competed in a meet at Disneyworld, he and his athletes stopped at the Shrine of Our Lady Queen of the World in Orlando. “… not just for 15 minutes either, we were there a good hour …” the coach wrote. Imagine, athletes from a Catholic school making prayer a part of their lives. You can read more about this faith-filled coach at http://www.chnonline.org/news/local/9687-mike-dewitt-doing-what-god-wanted.html

Holy days: OK, the Feast of St. Cecilia, Nov. 22, isn’t a holy day of obligation, but it is the feast of the patron saint of church musicians. Why not thank them for all they do to enhance our liturgical celebrations?

And don’t forget the coming week’s other big day: Buy Nothing Day is Friday, Nov. 26. Go ahead; see if you can make it through that day without buying a thing.

Oh, right, I almost forgot: Happy Thanksgiving, too!