Cardinal Dolan’s Mass of Thanksgiving: Welcoming Home a Good Shepherd

Ergo sum pastor bonus, dicit Dominus; et cognosco oves meas, et cognos- cunt me meae.“I am the Good Shepherd, says the Lord; I know my sheep and mine know me (John 10:14).”

This is My Body! ©, 2012. photo by KJU

Through this blog, I have previously expressed my esteem for Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Just prior to his elevation in February, I posted, “May God Bless Timothy Cardinal Dolan,”, tracing my admiration for this brilliant, charismatic leader to his early days as Archbishop of Milwaukee, and his involvement with my cherished Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill.

Bless these O Lord, . . . ©, 2012.

Months ago, when I heard that Cardinal Dolan had chosen to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at Holy Hill, I was thrilled. It was under his leadership that Holy Hill became a minor Basilica. During Cardinal Dolan’s 7 years as Archbishop of Milwaukee, he affectionately used to call Holy Hill, “Our Mother’s House” or “Our Lady’s House.” How fitting for one of Blessed Virgin’s favorite sons to make his homecoming, in Her House. Over the months, the sense of anticipation built to a crescendo. As we would come and go for daily Mass the kids and I enjoyed watching the preparations unfold. For weeks the sacristy and grounds have been abuzz with busy hands. Even the very door handles of the upper church were scrubbed to a polish!

Fr. Don Brick, O.C.D., Rector of the Basilica, was charged with the monumental task of organizing the Cardinal’s visit to Holy Hill, National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians. He and the Archdiocesan staff worked tirelessly to make this homecoming a success. In recent weeks, one truly began to wonder if Fr. Don could bilocate – sightings of the busy friar were reported from all corners of the grounds. One would catch a glimpse of him with the grounds-keepers mulching the bushes, five minutes later he’d be in his confessional before Holy Mass, later we’d see him with workers repairing the wrought-iron railing around the out-door Stations of the Cross. The man was everywhere! His sense of humor remained in-tact, and it was easy to discern that each detail of these preparations was born of a labor of love.

Fr. Rocky (Francis Hoffman) of Relevant Radio & KJ . ©, 2012.

My family was blessed to participate with the music for this celebration. Two of my children played violin and viola, while two others sang in the choir. Under Annie’s gentle direction, weeks of practice and polish manifested into a sound that Heaven must have inspired.

Welcome Home! ©, 2012.

Saturday morning arrived and my eldest served the 11 a.m. Mass, as is his habit. The girls brought their instruments and helped with the final preparations. A frigid rain may have kept the crowds at bay, but it did not dampen the enthusiasm of those present. In a huge white tent in the middle parking lot, folks began to gather around 5 a.m., waiting for a coveted wrist band – a necessary pass to obtain a seat in either the upper or lower churches. Among the hundreds of folks waiting in the wee morning hours were our dear Schoenstatt Sisters from Pewaukee. Cardinal Dolan has a special devotion to Our Mother Thrice Admirable, and Schoenstatt spirituality. One of the sisters had brought a lovely image of Our Mother Thrice Admirable for the Cardinal to bless.

I know My Sheep, and My Sheep Know Me ©, 2012.

Despite the large crowds and foul weather, the atmosphere remained festive. Cordial conversations bonded intimate strangers, sharing exuberance in the beauty of the day. We were there for HOURS – in that time we passed among thousands of people. Through it all, there wasn’t a harsh word, a snide comment, or a muffled complaint. Dignitaries arrived and the press and cameras seemed to fill every corner. Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, Jim Sensenbrenner, Sheriff David Clark, and Tommy Thompson all waited to share this moment in time. I marveled at how flawlessly the day progressed; joy and peace filled the Basilica.

Archbishop Jerome Listecki, Bishop Donald Hying, and Bishop David Ricken ©, 2012.

As Cardinal Dolan and the concelebrating Bishops and priests began to line up for the processional hymn, the exhilaration was palpable. Holy Mass was incredible! Cardinal Dolan was welcomed home by a congregation who truly loves him. He was joined by Archbishop Listecki and Bishops Don Hying, William Callahan, and David Ricken, as well as dozens of ordered and diocesan priests in concelebrating this magnificent Mass. I will never forget the beautiful image of all of those faithful shepherds filling the sanctuary during the Eucharistic prayer.

Shepherd Us ©, 2012.

This was Good Shepherd Sunday, and the reading from John 10: 11-18 seemed chosen for this moment in time.

“I am the Good Shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, the wolf catches them and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the Good Shepherd, and I know mine and mine know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. . . “

Bless them O Lord! ©, 2012. KJU photographer

While Jesus Christ is The Good Shepherd, it is abundantly clear that He elevated Timothy Cardinal Dolan to be one of the Princes of His Church, because this dear human man is himself a good shepherd. He is no mere hired-hand, nor is he one to capitulate to the wolves of contemporary society. No, in recent months Cardinal Dolan confirmed the fiber of his character. As a good shepherd he is willing to defend his flock from the dark threats. Standing up for religious freedom, Cardinal Dolan has demonstrated that when wolves lurk with HHS mandates and assaults to religious liberty, that he will defend not only his flock, but sheep from all folds. Truly his life has become that of a public figure. He can no longer sneak into the Basilica at Holy Hill unannounced and pray in solitude. Where he goes throngs follow, and unlike the crowds at Holy Hill, those crowds are not always filled with well-wishers. Cardinal Dolan is living the life of the good shepherd – he lives for his flock, and is willing to defend both their spiritual and temporal existence from dark and real threats.

Good Shepherd Sunday, May God Bless Them ©, 2012. KJU photographer

Saturday was a Mass of Thanksgiving. Cardinal Dolan was here to thank Our Lord for the gift of his office. However, each of us in the pews also experienced this as a Mass of Thanksgiving, as a Mass at which we expressed our deepest gratitude to God for the gift of Timothy Cardinal Dolan.

With sincerest gratitude to The Good Shepherd for giving us this good shepherd, may God continue bless Cardinal Timothy Dolan!


Ad Jesum per Mariam,



With Gratitude and Love ©, 2012.

16 thoughts on “Cardinal Dolan’s Mass of Thanksgiving: Welcoming Home a Good Shepherd

  1. Mary Anne,
    Thank you for the wonderful article and pictures of the Mass with Cardinal Dolan. For those of us unable to attend, I will greatly treasure the words and pictures.
    Truly you have a blessed way of writing. Thank you for your blog.
    God bless you.

    • Maria,

      You are so kind! We missed you, your Mom, and the boys. Our Lord needed you there by her side, and appreciates the sacrifice it was for you follow your heart and stay where you were needed. I’m glad you like the photos. Thank you for your kind words, my dear.


      Ad Jesum per Mariam,

      Mary Anne

  2. Mary Anne:

    Thank you so much for sharing your pictures. We enjoyed reading your blog also. We have a special following iwth Cardinal Dolan also.

    We have to continue to pray and sacrifice for him and Obama, (especially Obama, since Obama is still blinded, as so many other pro choice people are, by the lies of abortion, etc.) as they are attacked by the evil one in the Obama Health Care Mandate.

    We know of the stories of the evil that our nation faces. Jesus and Mary, the Mother of God, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

    • Shari,

      Thank you for the kind words. I agree, our nation is plagued with many trials. It is a blessing that God has given us Cardinal Dolan to lead us in grace through these dark times. We continue to pray that in God’s Mercy and Grace that His Will will triumph. It was wonderful to see you and your lovely family at that magnificent Mass.


      Mary Anne

  3. Mary Anne, this was lovely! Your pictures are the best! I still can’t believe I was actually there, really a part of all of that joy and love! And I’m so thrilled that I actually spotted you and was able to catch a hug! I spoke with Kenny, too, and saw your daughters in their beautiful dresses.

    Your words of love and tribute to Fr. Brick are wonderful!

    You are so right that no longer can Cardinal Dolan come and go as he pleases. When I spoke with Bishop Hying’s secretary she mentioned that fact as well. She talked about how he used to jump into his truck and go where ever he wanted and would just slip out for a walk in the seminary woods when he was here. She said that even in New York he would just head out for a walk in Central Park. But no more. Now he can’t go anywhere unless he is accompanied by his staff or security. That makes me sad for him.

    Love you dear and hope to see you soon!

    • Anne,

      It was sheer bliss! I’m so glad we were able to both be there among the crowd and share the joy and grace of the moment. Thank you for the kind words. It was an amazing day, a moment in time forever etched on my heart. May God Bless Cardinal Dolan and those whom he leads with such devotion.

      Ad Jesum per Mariam,

      Mary Anne

  4. AMDG

    Ah, Mary Anne,
    THANK YOU for sharing your love for Cardinal Dolan with others through your writings and your pictures. The pictures are so beautiful! Yes, thanks, also, to Fr. Don Brick for the endless hours of planning and preparation he put into making Cardinal Dolan’s return a beautiful homecoming. It truly was a blessing to be present in the basilica on Saturday. The air was filled with joy! May God bless you, Mary Anne, and may God bless dear Cardinal Dolan! Mary Kroening

    • Mary,

      Thank you for the lovely comment. Your rosary and Camrelite Mediation prior to Mass were beautiful! It was incredible to be a part of the tribute to our much loved Cardinal Dolan. May Our Dear Lord continue to bless him. May Our Dear Lord also bless you and yours, Mary.

      Ad Jesum per Mariam,

      Mary Anne

    • You are most welcome Jacob. Thank you for the kind words. The kids and I praying for you and our adopted Jesuit Seminarians.


      Mary Anne

    • Thank you for the kind words, Deacon Ryan. I’m looking forward to posting photos and a story on your ordination in a few weeks. We’re praying or you!


      Mary Anne

    • Thanks Norb & Judy,

      I know you folks had duties with the First Communicants, but were with us in spirit.


      Mary Anne

  5. Fabulous pictures and heartfelt reflection! I’m so glad we could be there and experience this historical event. I’ll bet Deacon Philip’s mother would love a copy of the first picture. Thanks so much for taking the time to post everything.

    • Anne,

      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I’d love to get a copy of these photos to Deacon Philip’s Mom. If you know her, send her my e-mail address and I’ll be happy to forward them w/o the watermark. It was an amazing day. I was glad to see you there enjoying it as well. Thank you again for the kind words.

      Ad Jesum per Mariam,

      Mary Anne

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