BROOKFIELD — A few weeks after first-time author Bob Dolan’s book was off the presses at Tau Publishing, he couldn’t resist “Googling” his name on Amazon.com to see the proof of his work.
His pride was almost tangible.
There it was, “Life Lessons from my Life with my Brother, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan,” available in paperback for purchase through Amazon for $13.94 or available on Kindle for $7.99.
Yet, moments later, his ego clashed with a dose of reality.
“I was thinking this is pretty cool. Amazon.com and there I am,” he admitted during a recent interview with your Catholic Herald. “I’m sure you’ve been on Amazon before where if you buy something, it immediately says ‘people who bought this are also interested in this…,
“and sure enough, there’s my book and there’s my brother’s five books right underneath it!”
As has happened so often in life, Bob’s big brother Tim seemed to one-up him.
“I just had to laugh,” said Bob. “Even on Amazon, he’s trumping me.”
While Bob good-naturedly spoke of how his older brother always seemed to be one step ahead of his four younger siblings, his stories are laden with pride for his brother, now archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, making him the most visible face of the church in the United States.
That pride is one of the main reasons Bob decided to pen his memories of life with the archbishop.
He began his project two years ago shortly after his brother was appointed to New York. “The timing was perfect,” admitted Bob, a member of St. Jerome Parish, Oconomowoc. “I knew that New York would be his final stop and I remember my wife and I took him out to dinner and I said … there’s a book out there that I think nobody but me could write. So I was pretty much asking his permission and his approval, which he granted. So what better time than now that he’s been elevated to this position where he’s very much in the public news, and people across the country now know who he is.”
Bob noted that while there are so many people who know him, and equally many who think they know him really well, he is uniquely qualified to write about his brother since they shared the same background and family life.
For example, who but Bob could offer a glimpse into the archbishop’s “babysitting skills”? Not only did 15-year-old Tim and his 13-year-old sister, Deb, ignore their father’s strictest rule when they were in charge of their younger brother, Bob, one evening when their parents were out bowling, but they terrified their young charge in the process.
They allowed him to watch an episode of “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” on television, scaring the youngster out of his mind. Shortly after the program ended, Bob walked into his bedroom to get ready for bed.
The light bulb must have burnt out, since it was pitch dark and the light switch didn’t work.
As he walked across the room, feeling for the desk lamp, the door slammed behind him, and the terrorized little boy was greeted by the future archbishop dressed in his mother’s bathrobe, holding a mop on top of his head like a wig.
“Eight-year-old Younger Brother is so scared he thinks he is going to die. He screams in terror and cries from the fright. He runs out of the bedroom. Older Brother howls with laughter. This will go down as one of the great pranks in his family’s history,” wrote Bob in the introduction to his 190-page book.
The book is full of similar anecdotes from Dolan family life in Ballwin, Mo., as well as stories from the archbishop’s time in Milwaukee where he became especially close to Bob, wife Beth and their daughters, Erin and Caitlin.
But more than sharing Dolan family lore, Bob’s purpose in writing the book was to share some of the lessons he has learned through the years from his brother.
“He’s impacted my life greatly. We’re all good practicing Catholics, always have been since the day we were born,” he said of his family. “But it wasn’t until he got (to Milwaukee) that I saw a different side of our faith. He brings it down to my level – I’m not the most intellectual guy in the world, especially when it comes to our faith. Like so many Catholics, we go to church, we celebrate the sacraments, we put our kids through school, but I’m not an expert on our faith. When I followed him and listened to him for seven years in Milwaukee, some of the stories he tells will bring a lump to my throat. These simple stories – all with the meaning and moral of let God take over, let Jesus take over. I think he strengthened my faith when he was around.”
Bob said through the book, he wants to share what he learned with others.
“I hope this is a book that every three or four, five months people go back on the shelf and pull it back out again, if they are having a particular struggle with their faith or and pull it out and read some of the faith chapters, some of the life lesson chapters.”
And what does the man who inspired the book have to say?
Archbishop Dolan, in an emailed response to your Catholic Herald, admitted he was initially nervous about his brother’s book.
|The book is available at: www.tau-publishing.com or www.amazon.com in print, Nook and Kindle forms.|
“My reaction now is pride in the skills of my brother, and gratitude that the book is not so much a biography as a reflection of our conversations about faith,” he wrote, adding, “I’m just glad he didn’t do a movie!”
He went on to write that “Bob says he wanted to put out a movie on me instead of a book, but, the man he wanted to portray me was not available: Governor Chris Christie!”
The archbishop also noted that he was surprised that his brother “actually listened to some of my ‘wandering orations’ on the porch or in front of the fire.”
“Bob is a normal Catholic – a faithful husband and a loving father. He has paid me the highest compliments in letting me be, not only a brother, but a priest to him. He listened! If I can get through to him … well … that gives me a lot of encouragement,” wrote Archbishop Dolan, who said he’s received positive feedback about the book, primarily praising Bob’s writing ability.
As he was writing, Bob said he sent chapters to the archbishop for review, “but I was never quite sure he was reading what I sent him. He rarely offered specific feedback. He might say, ‘Yeah, it looks good,’ but I was never quite sure.”
|Bob Dolan will sign copies of his book on Friday, Oct. 28 at T.H. Stemper, 1125 E. Potter Ave., Milwaukee, from noon to 3 p.m. and on Saturday, Oct. 29 at the Marian Center, 3712 N. 92nd St., Milwaukee, from 10 a.m. to noon.|
Several weeks ago, however, the brothers were together in Missouri for a family wedding over the Labor Day weekend and during that time, Bob said the archbishop told him he really enjoyed it “and I think he appreciates how it helps him get his message out.”
Ironically, for Bob, one of the toughest challenges in creating the book was not the writing, but was finding a publisher. He turned to the Catholic publishing business and connected with Tau Publishing.
When Jeffrey Campbell first saw the book, two things immediately struck him.
“The first was the love these two brothers had for each other and the love they shared as a family. The second piece was the deep, yet very easy to understand spirituality of Archbishop Dolan that was brought out in the book,” he said in an email to your Catholic Herald.
Campbell noted that he enjoyed the book’s humor, intertwined with the faith of the Dolans.
While Tau Publishing does not release sales figures, Campbell said feedback and sales have been positive.
“The book is doing very well. It’s the type of book that has staying power and will consistently sell,” he predicted. “People are touched by (Archbishop Dolan) and his faith in our Lord.”
He also predicts greater things on the horizon for him.
“Archbishop Dolan will be pope one day, there is no question about this,” he wrote. “This book is a great read. It is well written and it speaks to everyone. We need more priests like Archbishop Dolan and the answer to this is in the book. The deep love this family has for each other nurtured that seed of a vocation that God had planted in Timothy Dolan.”