Dolan out to change perceptions

Just got back from a one-on-one with Archbishop Dolan.

Truth is, it flew by. The guy is simply engaging. And he likes to get to heart of the matter on most issues.

If he doesn’t want to talk about something, he tells you instead of talking in circles, which I, as a reporter, appreciate.

He had interesting things to say on several issues, which I’ll get to after I transcribe my notes. There will be a full write-up on later today and in the paper tomorrow (ADD: Make that over the next few days).

I’ll say this, in general: Dolan wants to change the perception of Catholicism. He talks about perception quite a lot. He knows, I think, that the church is sometimes seen as an old and tired institution, doing what it’s always done. He wants people to know that Catholicism is alive and kicking and that Catholic practice should be exciting, meaningful and life-changing.

On the lack of vocations to the priesthood, for instance, Dolan said it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more people talk about how overworked all those aging priests are these days, the more reason young Catholic men have to not consider the priesthood. The church, instead, has to promote the meaning and fulfillment of the priestly life.

He does acknowledge that the archdiocese will have to deal with the declining numbers of priests at some point, possibly by assigning some priests to more than one parish. But he’s not throwing in the towel on vocations.

Mark Vergari was there with me to take pictures and record the interview. You can see some of it on the LoHud report at 4:30 p.m. today.

More to come…

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.