New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan displayed a stage presence and comic timing at Stepinac High School in White Plains Wednesday that easily could’ve translated into the entertainment field.
Although thoughts of pursuing that career path may have crossed Dolan’s mind at some point during his youth, a life in the priesthood was always something that fascinated him growing up.
“I can never remember a time when I did not want to become a priest,” Dolan said during a question and answer session with the school’s 700 students. “Now, that didn’t mean from the beginning I knew I was going to be or that I didn’t ever want to be a fireman or a teacher or that I didn’t want to play baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals. A lot of things I thought doing. But the attraction to serve Jesus in his church as a priest never, ever left me.”
Dolan, who presided over Mass at the school, visited Stepinac for the first time Wednesday. Following the service, Dolan held a question and answer session with students and took a tour of the school.
Officials in attendance included Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino; Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett, a graduate of Stepinac; and White Plains Mayor Tom Roach.
Dolan’s visit came during a busy time for the high school, which is celebrating its 65th anniversary and recently announced that it is the first high school in the nation to offer all of its textbooks through a digital format.
“It is really a joy and an honor for me to be here with you at Stepinac,” Dolan said during the Mass. “Of the many duties and responsibilities that I have as Archbishop of New York, this ranks among the ones I relish most, to be apart of the great Catholic school in the Archdiocese of New York and You’ve got a great one here at Archbishop Stepinac. You’re history is profound, you’re accomplishments are phenomenal, you’re alumni is shining, you’re faculty is among our best.”
During his visit, Dolan acknowledged that this is tough period for Catholic schools in the archdiocese, with the recent of closing of several schools in the area earlier this year. But Dolan said two-thirds of the students whose schools closed managed to relocate to nearby Catholic schools, strengthening those schools in the process.
But Dolan said financing remains an issue, along with marketing.
“We've got to get the good news out,” Dolan said. “That Catholic schools are here to stay, they are gem and they do not let us down.”
White Plains Mayor Tom Roach said he was impressed by Dolan’s appearance Wednesday.“He’s a wonderful, dynamic, individual and Catholic who carries spiritual gravitas and at the same time he is approachable, accessible, funny and genuine,” Roach said.