MILWAUKEE — Pope Benedict XVI’s appointment of Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan as archbishop of New York has resulted in frequent use of “bittersweet” to describe how Catholics in southeastern Wisconsin feel about their archbishop’s new job. In speaking with your Catholic Herald, various civic and business leaders who are members of the Catholic community confirmed the archbishop will be missed.

“It’s our loss,” former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow said about the archbishop’s transfer. “I think it’s something we’ve all been hearing so much about as a possibility. I think (New York) is gaining a great spiritual leader. We’ve had a great spiritual leader in him the (six and a half) years he’s been with us, and he taught us to trust in God and trust in Christ and the Holy Spirit.”


Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan holds a Green Bay Packers baseball cap and sweatshirt while wearing a cheesehead given to him by Alderman Robert Donovan, a member of Blessed Sacrament Parish, Milwaukee, during a visit to Milwaukee City Hall in September 2002. Civic and business leaders said Archbishop Dolan’s leadership will be missed when he leaves Milwaukee in April to head the New York Archdiocese. (Catholic Herald photo by Sam Lucero)

Farrow, Wisconsin’s first female lieutenant governor, had known Archbishop Dolan since she first learned of his appointment as Archbishop of Milwaukee in 2002. She sent him a welcome letter, offering her assistance in any way possible.

“He brings so much humanity to his spirituality,” she said, adding that listening to him talk at the press conference in New York Feb. 23 was “no different than we’ve all got to know him to be (in Milwaukee). He had that genuine, down to earth attitude he brings, and then yet have such a strength.”

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett agrees. Archbishop Dolan helped the mayor, since his election in 2004, implement programs designed to cut down on gangs and illegal guns in the city. Barrett, who often did that by forging relationships with faith-based groups and neighborhood organizations to strengthen the community’s role in crime reduction, noted the archbishop’s role in that.

“Well, I’m very happy for him. I’m sad to lose him here in Milwaukee; he’s been a fantastic partner here in the city, in particular when we reached out to him on our anti-violence efforts, and our ‘Ceasefire Sabbath,’” Barrett said. “He was very responsive in a positive way, and I’m very grateful for that.

“I loved working with him, and he has all the skills to be a huge success in New York City, that’s for sure. I think we should all be proud – proud that he’s moving on, and I think it puts our community in a very good light as well. So, I’m proud of him and happy for him. I’m saddened to lose him, but I think this is what was meant for him.”

Jane Mullaney Anderson, executive director of Milwaukee Irish Fest, was present when Archbishop Dolan celebrated his first Mass in Milwaukee.

“We had invited him the year before (2001) to celebrate Mass, and then the word came that he was to become the archbishop of Milwaukee, so it was absolutely coincidental,” Anderson recalled. “We weren’t sure that he would – after the announcement – still come to Milwaukee, but he did, and that was the first time that he celebrated a Mass in Milwaukee, at Irish Fest. So, that’s kind of a unique connection.”

According to Anderson, Archbishop Dolan had a huge impact on the Irish community.

“We are going to miss him. I don’t think it was a surprise that he is leaving us. We just have to know that we are going to have to share him with somebody else now. He’s a great guy; I think we’re going to miss him in terms of our relationship. He’s become a good friend of ours (in the Irish community), and I think we’re in a better place for it.”

In a press release, State Sen. Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee) noted what Archbishop Dolan’s transfer means to the Milwaukee Catholic community.

Did you know…
One thing that Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan’s appointments to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the Archdiocese of New York have in common has to do with the men he succeeded. Archbishop emeritus Rembert G. Weakland and Cardinal Edward Egan were both born on April 2. The former in 1927; the latter in 1932.

“While we are sad to see Archbishop Dolan leave Milwaukee, we are excited he is being honored with this appointment,” the senator wrote. “For the last nearly seven years, Archbishop Dolan has reinvigorated Milwaukee with faith and purpose (and) has been a leader to Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

“I can think of no more deserving person of faith to serve in this prestigious position.”

While the archbishop helped the City of Milwaukee, he also touched people on an individual basis. Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke described him as “a leadership role model, spiritual advisor, and a friend.”

Clarke said that since becoming sheriff in 2002, he has frequently asked Archbishop Dolan for private time with him, and was never turned down.

“I have a very close relationship,” Clarke said. “The times and the crazy life that I’m in, I often needed spiritual encouragement. I would call the archbishop up and ask if I could have counsel with him, and he always made room; he would move his schedule around.

“I (felt) a renewed sense of strength, not only with my responsibilities, but with my faith as well. Not only that, but I would always ask for a blessing, and he would give it to me.” Asked if he thought Archbishop Dolan would be as successful in New York as he has been in Milwaukee, Clarke said it depended on how one defined success.

“I think that the role that he plays for the church, I don’t know if you would gauge it by success. It’s a responsibility; obviously, it’s a vocation. A man of deep faith and conviction, he has a great sense of who he is, and that’s what I believe will serve him well in his role in the Archdiocese of New York.”

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker could not be reached, but wrote a personal statement about his relationship with Archbishop Dolan.

“We have all come to love his larger-than-life personality and heartfelt connection to our community,” Walker wrote. “My family and I are proud to consider him a friend, and I wish him many blessings in his service to the New York Diocese.”

Steve Smith, chairman and CEO of Journal Communications Inc., came to know the archbishop due to Smith’s work on the Faith in Our Future capital campaign.

“I think his presence has been a real blessing,” Smith said. “Archbishop Dolan has been a solid, inspirational leader for all of us. I think his personal style is so admirable; he always remembers to say how much he appreciates people.”

Smith also termed Archbishop Dolan as “articulate and sincere” and having a personality that “energizes the Catholic community around things like education, values, stewardship.”

“The archbishop has articulated an exciting vision for the future of the church in southeastern Wisconsin,” he said. “I also think that he has instilled confidence in a great team that will carry on, so I think that’s been a real gift as well, the confidence that he’s instilled in his team and all of us as volunteers.”

Northwestern Mutual’s president and CEO Ed Zore also knew Archbishop Dolan through the Faith in Our Future campaign. Working closely with Archbishop Dolan has been an enlightening experience for Ed and his wife, Diane.

“It’s a big loss for Milwaukee, in my opinion,” he said. “It’s a good thing for New York, though. It’s a plum position in the Catholic Church, other than being in the Vatican, and he’s the person. New York’s got two and a half million Catholics, about 400 parishes, and it’s a pretty diverse group of folks.

“He’s a people person and I think he’s going to do real well there.”