One more look back at the last installation

Before I head back to the cathedral…

So here’s what I wrote about Day Two of Cardinal Egan’s installation for the Journal News of June 20, 2000:

NEW YORK – Archbishop Edward M. Egan, distinguished canon lawyer and personal friend of Pope John Paul II, was better known in Rome than in America when he was introduced five weeks ago as the next leader of the New York Archdiocese.

How quickly things change.

Nearly 3,000 people filled St. Patrick’s Cathedral yesterday to witness Egan celebrate his first Mass as archbishop. The special Mass, honoring Egan‘s installation as New York’s ninth archbishop, was fit for a prince of a nearly 2,000-year-old church.

A 100-voice choir sang sacred hymns and St. Patrick’s majestic organ soared to announce Egan‘s presence at the end of a 45-minute procession into the cathedral. All eyes were on the new archbishop as he slowly walked up the main aisle, claimed the ornate bishop’s chair upon the altar and celebrated the Mass that is at the heart of Roman Catholic faith.

Egan, a native of Oak Park, Ill., who was ordained in 1958, succeeds Cardinal John J. O’Connor, who died May 3. O’Connor’s name was invoked several times during the joyous ceremony.

During his homily, Egan focused on the need for the 10-county Archdiocese of New York and its 2.4 million Catholics to come together in prayer and good works. He called on the faithful to fight discrimination, poverty and abortion.

” May we stand idly by while the being within the mother is killed, even though no one has ever been able to prove it has anything but an inalienable right to live? ” he asked, drawing sustained applause from the mostly invited guests in the pews.

Egan is concluding 12 years as bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport and is beginning his new job at the age of 68, when most men are readying for retirement, if not reveling in it.

He faces numerous pressing challenges, including how to minister to the growing number of Catholics from non-English speaking countries, and solutions for Catholic hospitals bleeding money. Other issues include inner-city churches that may need to be closed and how to reverse the declining number of priests.

But yesterday was about the archbishop’s arrival, not the work before him.

Egan actually became archbishop on Sunday, when he took canonical possession of the archdiocese through a simple legal ceremony required by canon law. Yesterday’s Mass was a liturgical celebration of his assumption of power.

” One of the earliest characteristics that makes a Christian community is the presence of the bishop, ” Christopher Bellitto, professor of church history at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, said before Mass. ” From the earliest days of the church, when there is not a bishop, there has been disorder, a lack of communion and confusion. When a bishop is named, you have social and religious peace. That is what today is about. ”

Among the many dignitaries to fill the front rows were: Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and her rival for U.S. Senate, Rep. Rick Lazio, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Gov. George Pataki, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and other state and city officials.

Egan spent much of his early career in Rome and is considered theologically conservative. He has quickly developed a reputation in New York as being brainy, formal and reserved.

But he showed a bit of a personal touch just before yesterday’s closing procession when he introduced his 96-year-old first-grade teacher, Sister Mary Donatilla Ryan, a Dominican nun from River Forest, Ill.

” She always begins her letters, ‘Dear Father Eddie,’ ” Egan said, smiling broadly. ” They always contain suggestions and directives. ”

Ryan, a small, white-haired lady sitting about 20 pews back, stood up for an unexpected round of applause.

An elaborate procession featuring more than 800 priests, bishops, archbishops and eight cardinals led Egan into the cathedral. The cardinals included Cardinal William Baum of the Vatican and Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, who gave the homily at O’Connor’s funeral Mass.

Among the bishops were several churchmen who were once considered front-runners to succeed O’Connor, including Archbishop Theodore McCarrick of Newark, Archbishop Justin Rigali of St. Louis, Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of the archdiocese of military services, and Bishop Henry Mansell of Buffalo.

Dozens of bishops represented every corner of the country, from Hartford to Tulsa, Green Bay to Great Falls.

When the procession concluded and Egan reached the altar, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States, read a letter from John Paul II that nominated Egan for his new post.

”We exhort you, venerable brother, mindful of the greater authority which you have received, to renew your commitment to teach and guide the flock entrusted to your care, ” Montalvo read.

Montalvo then led Egan to the bishop’s chair, where Egan greeted dozens of church officials, lay leaders and representatives of other Christian churches and other religions. At first, guests climbed the three stairs to the cathedral, where Egan placed his hands on their shoulders to greet them. But then Egan left his new seat and descended to meet his guests.

Once the installation ceremony was complete, Egan, without delay, made the sign of the cross and began the celebration of the Mass. A nephew and namesake, Edward Michael Egan, brought up the bread and wine for communion.

Additionally, a niece, Mary Egan Hayes, gave the first reading, from Jeremiah 1: 4-9. The second reading, from the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians, was given in Spanish, signaling Egan‘s intention of reaching out to Hispanics, who represent about 40 percent of Catholics in the archdiocese.

In fact, prayers of intercession were said in nine languages, including Chinese, Creole and Slovak.

In his homily, Egan talked about his visits to the Basilica of Sts. John and Paul in Rome and referred to St. Patrick’s as a basilica. He also focused on the importance of Catholic education and noted a national poll that found many Catholics uncertain about the meaning of the bread and wine of communion.

” I do not know how valid that poll might have been, ” he said. ” But I do know we must be a prayerful people in the Archdiocese of New York – a Eucharistic prayerful people – if our basilica is to stand. And our basilica will thrive on prayer if the prayer is lived up to in works of charity.

”My prayer today, ” Egan said, ” is that a New Yorker can remove all doubt that faith is the foundation of our basilica. ”

After several priests distributed communion wafers, soprano Renee Fleming of the Metropolitan Opera, whom Egan referred to as ” a dear friend, ” sang a stirring rendition of ” Alleluia ” from Mozart’s ” Exultate Jubilate. ” Many worshipers looked spellbound by her performance.

As the service came to a close, Egan stepped down from the altar to follow the procession back to the cathedral‘s great doors. He walked slowly up the center aisle, stopping to shake hands, call out to friends and acknowledge applause. He seemed to want to give as many people as possible an opportunity to see their spiritual leader up close.

Then he walked out the great doors, clutching his crucifix in his right hand and the bishop’s staff in his left, and smiled at the thousands of parishioners, shoppers, tourists and others who strained for a glimpse of the new archbishop of New York.

Half way there

Just back from St. Patrick’s and Solemn Vespers.

Now, I didn’t have the best view. The media were put on the side of the sanctuary, behind two sections of priests. So we mostly had to watch on TV screens, although we could see the tops of everyone’s heads in the sanctuary.

We did get a good look at Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s back when he climbed up to the pulpit to deliver his homily.

It was a good vantage point, actually, when he talked about his “brother priests.” “I am so awestruck,” he said, “to be the elder brother of a presbyterate known for its zeal and devotion. I thank you, brother priests, for continuing to be agents of the divine institution, and to you I pledge my life and love.”

After he said this, he stopped back, turned around and motioned to the rows of priests in front of us. He wanted to emphasize that he meant it — his life and love. Clearly, Dolan knows that priests have been battered in recent years and that the priests of New York, in particular, are suffering from low morale.

Having knocked on the doors of St. Patrick’s (9 times!) to start the service, Dolan talked about the need to open oneself to Jesus and the church. He cited some reasons that people close themselves off:

“There’s sin, fear, and sadness to keep us closed-up inside, evident in so many problems and worries: the scandal of clergy sexual abuse and caring for those hurt; the challenges of strengthening our parishes, schools, and charitable outreach; the threats to marriage, family, to the unborn baby and fragile human life at all stages; the need for vocations. The list is long. The list is haunting.”

He joked about having on his own chains, which made him weary of coming to the great pulpit of NY.

“Following the likes of Hughes, Hayes, Spellman, Cooke, O’Connor, and Egan! Sounds like McNamara’s band, and I’m not up to being part of it.”

But he decided to be brave — counting on some God-given confidence — and called on the Catholics of New York to do the same:

“And this evening, when you opened those bronze doors to my knock, and I beheld a church, an archdiocese, that has been opening the doors to Christ for 201 years, am I ever glad I listened to him and took the chain off.”

On to tomorrow’s Mass of Installation, when this midwestern prelate — who blows kisses to his congregants — takes canonical possession of NY and its 2-and-a-half million Catholics (give or take a few hundred thousand).

Dolan hits the ground running (and talking)

As I head out for St. Patrick’s…

If you read Archbishop Dolan’s interview with the AP’s Rachel Zoll or watch his impromptu press conference yesterday outside the cathedral, you almost have to like the guy.

That doesn’t mean that you have to agree with him or even like everything about him.

But he’s direct, open, talks about his faith in a clear way, is a good communicator and has a sense of humor. How many religious leaders can you say that about?

Walking into St. Patrick’s “brought a tear to my eye.” He can’t wait to visit Ground Zero “like the Holy Father did.” He’s going to a food pantry in the South Bronx on Friday and a Holocaust memorial service on Monday. He wants to fight skepticism about his church, especially bad feelings from the sex-abuse crisis. He’s going to explain the church’s opposition to gay marriage and abortion over and over and talk to those who believe differently.

And he’ll keep talking about hot dogs and baseball and “wanting to be a parish priest.”

If you care at all about the role of religion in the public square, Tim Dolan promises to be a compelling fellow.

I’ll try to post some thoughts when I get home tonight, but it will be kind of late.

And then there’s a press conference tomorrow morning. But it sounds like Dolan’s tenure will be something like one, long press conference, doesn’t it?

Looking back at Egan’s installation

Way back in June of 2000, I attended the two-day installation of Archbishop Edward Egan at St. Patrick’s.

It’s a cliche, but true: It seems like just yesterday.

The way things were set up then, Egan took “canonical possession” of the archdiocese on the first day and celebrated Mass the second day.

This time around, Archbishop Dolan will take part in a Solemn Vespers service today. But he will take charge tomorrow at the Mass of Installation.

Anyway, here’s what I wrote for the June 19th Journal News about Day One of Egan’s installation (the article I write tonight will likely be quite similar):

NEW YORK – A bishop’s miter placed on his head, a shepherd’s staff now in his hand, Archbishop Edward M. Egan yesterday walked slowly across the altar at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and stopped in front of the great chair from which Cardinal John J. O’Connor presided.

He hesitated briefly before finally sitting back in the cathedra. A burst of applause rose from the pews. A new era for the Roman Catholic church in New York had begun.

Egan, 68, officially took charge of the Archdiocese of New York, becoming its ninth archbishop and 12th overall leader. Before 2,400 mostly invited guests, he became the spiritual leader of the archdiocese’s 2.4 million Catholics and the unofficial leader of Catholicism in America.

In a mostly low-key legal ceremony, Egan took ” canonical possession ” of the archdiocese, succeeding the beloved O’Connor, who died May 3. A far more elaborate installation ceremony will take place at the cathedral today, featuring a 45-minute procession with at least eight cardinals and the appearance of numerous politicians and dignitaries.

Egan, the outgoing bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, was humble and deeply appreciative of his new assignment. During a sharply focused homily, his first as archbishop, he talked about his affection for the archdiocese, where he served as an auxiliary bishop from 1985 to 1988.

” Throughout the 3 1/2 years, I was continuously captivated by the wonder and goodness of this great archdiocese, ” he said in a slow, measured cadence. ” There was hardly a day when I was not genuinely inspired. ”

The ceremony began at 3:45 p.m. with a procession of 11 tall banners. The first proclaimed ” Unus Dominus, Una Fides, Unum Baptisma (One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism). ” Then students carried banners for each of the archdiocese’s 10 counties, inspiring applause from worshipers in the pews.

” This is really a privilege, ” Margaret Anthony, 18, of Brewster, one of three students who carried Putnam County’s banner, said just before the ceremony. ” I didn’t understand how important this was until now. ”

” It’s a honor to represent your county at something like this, ” said Kristen Ragazzo, 17, of Brewster.

” It’s history, really, ” Anthony added.

Soon after the procession ended, Egan appeared at the cathedral‘s great doors in flowing white vestments and spectators strained their necks for a glimpse. In accordance with church tradition, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, the papal nuncio in the United States, formally presented Egan to Bishop Robert Brucato, the apostolic administrator of the archdiocese.

” On behalf of the people of the Archdiocese of New York, I welcome you to this cathedral and this archdiocese, ” Brucato said.

Bishop Patrick Sheridan, vicar general of the archdiocese, then presented Egan with a crucifix. And Monsignor Anthony Dalla Villa, rector of St. Patrick’s, presented him with a sprinkler of holy water.

Egan blessed himself and those in the rear of the cathedral and then, as the cathedral organ swelled, began to walk slowly up the main aisle. Applause rippled forward from the back of the cathedral like a wave. Egan, smiling broadly, bowed to one side and then the other, and stopped several times so that everyone could see him.

When Egan reached the altar, he stood and faced the pews, his hands clasped in front of him. He did not move, except to wipe perspiration from his brow, as Montalvo praised his commitment to the church and read a letter of appointment from Pope John Paul II.

” Archbishop Egan is called by God to continue the work of the great archbishops who have come before, ” Montalvo said.

Monsignor Edward O’Connell, the chancellor and notary of the archdiocese, then showed the appointment papers to the veteran priests who make up the archdiocese’s Board of Consultors and stamped the documents with the seal of the archdiocese.

Montalvo presented Egan with his miter and crosier, the bishop’s staff, and the transition was over.

Despite several enthusiastic ovations, ticket holders for yesterday’s ceremony were generally respectful and quiet, perhaps trying to figure out what to make of Egan, who is largely unknown in New York, outside of the archdiocese’s headquarters.

Then again, O’Connor, coming from Scranton, Pa., was a mysterious figure when he was appointed to replace Cardinal Terence Cooke.

” Archbishop Egan has spent much of his time in Rome, so he has quite a background, ” said Sister Joan Clark, director of pastoral care and counseling for St. Dominick’s Home in Blauvelt. ” In Bridgeport, he really made his place in financial circles, so he may be able to get people to contribute more money here. But, hopefully, he will also bring the pastoral service that the church needs. The people want a listener and a responder. ”

Egan, a native of Oak Park, Ill., used most of his homily to tell a story that connected his former diocese in Connecticut with his new one.

During his years as an auxiliary bishop in New York, he said, he visited a parish in the Highbridge section of the Bronx to ordain deacons in the presence of Mother Teresa. But just before the Mass was over, a bloodied and beaten man ran into the church seeking refuge.

He described how Mother Teresa and several other nuns attended to the man.

” Never in my life had I seen anything like the way he was treated, ” Egan said. ” It was everything that Jesus Christ would want. ”

Another man at the parish that day was similarly affected and, offering to drive Egan home, promised to help the church some day. That man, Jon Bokron, would later enter St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers and become a priest in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Bokron was ordained in 1991 and died from leukemia in 1993.

Egan concluded his homily by telling Hispanic worshippers, in Spanish, how much he appreciates Latino language, culture and music. Hispanics make up about 40 percent of Catholics in the archdiocese.

Afterward, Egan joined clergy and representatives of Catholic organizations and orders for a private reception at the archdiocese’s headquarters.

St. Patrick’s was not full on a rainy Father’s Day, so several hundred people without tickets were invited inside to fill the pews and stand along the sides of the cathedral. Tourists with thick shopping bags, teen-agers in frayed shorts and a young mother with an infant on her back were among those surprised to witness Egan‘s historic installation.

”Now he’s getting a taste of the real New York, ” one guest said.

Dolan: Catholics not unenlightened

The AP’s Rachel Zoll interviewed Archbishop Dolan today.

Here’s an updated draft:

RACHEL ZOLL
AP Religion Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — New York Archbishop-designate Timothy Dolan said Monday, on the eve of his installation, that he will challenge the idea that the Roman Catholic Church is unenlightened because it opposes gay marriage and abortion.

In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Dolan said he wants to restore pride in being Catholic, especially given the damage the church endured in the clergy sex abuse scandal, which he called a continuing source of shame.

“One would hope that through education and through the joy that we give by our lives that people will begin to see that these fears and this skepticism we have about the church are unwarranted,” Dolan said.

He said Catholics also must defend themselves against bias, which he said was still deeply ingrained in American culture.

“Periodically, we Catholics have to stand up and say, ‘Enough,'” he said. “The church as a whole still calls out to what is noble in us.”

Dolan, 59, will be installed as leader of the Archdiocese of New York before thousands of well-wishers in services Tuesday night and Wednesday in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The former archbishop of Milwaukee, Dolan succeeds New York Cardinal Edward Egan, who is retiring at age 77.

In his sermons this week, Dolan says he will ask Catholics not to be so consumed by their problems in these difficult times that they turn inward and away from the community.

His daily life has been a whirlwind since the Vatican announced his appointment seven weeks ago. He celebrated Mass on Easter Sunday in Milwaukee then flew with relatives to New York.

On Monday, speaking in the archbishop’s residence, which is attached to St. Patrick’s through a dining room door, he said he was still unpacking.

The job of New York archbishop is the most visible in the church in the United States, and has been filled by men who became giants not only in the American church, but also in broader society. Among them are Cardinals Francis Spellman and John O’Connor.

Dolan will have a daily reminder of his predecessors’ achievements every moment he’s in the residence. Imposing portraits of the clergymen line the entrance hall and stairways.

On Feb. 23, the day the Vatican announced his appointment, Dolan asked Egan to take him to the crypt in St. Patrick’s, where the previous archbishops are buried.

Dolan said he wanted to pray for them and ask for their prayers, and to see where he will be buried, so he can remember his goal: to live a holy life and “be with God forever in Heaven.”

Dolan is known for defending church orthodoxy with a friendly face. At one service in Milwaukee, he donned a cheesehead hat in honor of the Green Bay Packers. Dolan often jokes about his girth; he had said that one of his previous church jobs was so demanding that he forgot to eat and lost one of his chins.

Still, Dolan said he struggles with how best to convey Catholic teaching. Among his heroes is New York Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who was a 20th century pioneer in TV and radio evangelism.

Dolan was given a rosary used by Sheen and said he prays with it every day. He plans to talk about the church “as our spiritual family,” which people need despite its flaws.

“We need you. We love you. The church is your family,” he plans to tell alienated Catholics. “Please come back. We miss you. We’re sorry if we hurt you. We’ll listen to you. It’s not the same without you.”

The archbishop is taking the New York job at a time when same-sex couples need only drive over the state border to be married — in Connecticut, Massachusetts and later this year, Vermont. New York Gov. David Paterson ordered state agencies last May to respect out-of-state gay marriages.

Dolan said he would challenge any efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in New York, but insisted that his position was not anti-gay.

“We love them,” he said of gays and lesbians. “We would defend their rights.”

However, marriage must remain as it always has been, between one man and one woman, he said.

“If we let that definition of marriage go and begin to include other relationships, it will be to a detriment to the civilization,” he said.

Regarding the fight against abortion, Dolan said that the University of Notre Dame had made a mistake by inviting President Barack Obama to give this year’s commencement address, in light of Obama’s support for abortion rights.

Dolan said that the invitation and the honorary degree the president will receive sent the wrong signal to students that “we hold him up as a model to you.”

But the archbishop said it would also be wrong to freeze out abortion rights supporters and that Catholics should instead engage them. He said Obama could have been invited to Notre Dame to speak without honoring him.

“The word we have to keep using is engagement,” said Dolan. He does not deny Holy Communion to Catholic politicians who break with church teaching. Obama called Dolan on the day of his appointment and the archbishop says he prays for the president daily.

Dolan joked that he had crows instead of butterflies in his stomach at the prospect of taking over the New York archdiocese, which serves 2.5 million parishioners and is the nation’s second-largest diocese after Los Angeles.

But he said, “I hope at my core, I hear Jesus say, ‘Timothy be not afraid,'” he said.

“Then I take a deep breath and say, ‘Let’s go,'” he said, “and I’m going to enjoy it and I’m going to give it my best.”

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

As the church turns: Egan, Dolan say their farewells

Archbishop Dolan celebrated Easter Mass in Milwaukee yesterday and said farewell to the archdiocese:

“I will miss you all very much. I love you very much. I will never forget you. And I will remain ever grateful to you.”

According to a Milwaukee TV station, Dolan spent some time at the end of the Mass “doing what he does best: talking, connecting with people, and of course making them all laugh.”

There’s a slideshow here.

Dolan comes to New York today — and he’ll be all over the news the next few days.

Solemn Vespers tomorrow evening. Mass of Installation Wednesday. You know he’s going to say some memorable stuff.

I’ll be at St. Patrick’s for both events.

I have an article in today’s Journal News/LoHud about the Great Expectations facing the new Archbishop of New York.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Egan covered a lot of ground during Easter Mass at St. Patrick’s. Here’s the AP story (and make sure you catch the last line):

KAREN MATTHEWS
Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Cardinal Edward Egan, who will retire as head of New York City’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese on Wednesday, told worshippers at his last Easter Mass that mortal life is fleeting and “we are here for a moment in eternity.”

Egan, who was hospitalized for several days with a stomach ailment and missed Palm Sunday services, appeared robust though at times he leaned heavily on his staff.

A standing-room-only crowed of about 2,700 attended Sunday’s Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.

Afterward, the 77-year-old Egan said he felt fine.

“I don’t know what in the world happened to me last Saturday,” he said. “I got this virus or something or other in my stomach and things weren’t operating.”

Egan was released from St. Vincent’s Hospital on Tuesday. While he was there, doctors said he would need to have a pacemaker implanted.

“I’ve got plenty of time to do that,” Egan said Sunday. “The heart is still ticking.”

Egan is leaving after nine years leading the New York Archdiocese’s 2.5 million Catholics in New York City and its northern suburbs. Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan will be installed as his successor on Wednesday.

Egan plans a busy retirement ministering to French-speaking Catholics at the new Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary mission on Manhattan’s East Side.

“I am going to see if we can create a community that supports in a very special way what we call the Francophone community,” he said.

During his homily, Egan spoke of a visit to China 35 years ago when a group of young people living under Mao’s rule asked, “Tell us about God.”

Egan said he told them about the resurrection of Christ, and when a young man asked if he believed it, he responded that “witnesses to the death and resurrection were not such as would invent such a story.”

He said that Americans are fortunate to live in a country where religion can be practiced freely, though “the media are rather unfriendly.”

He said the Easter message is more relevant than ever in the current gloomy economic time.

“In my 77 years I have never known a time when the proclaiming was as needed as it is now,” he said.

Egan often has seemed a distant and aloof figure and has not cultivated a warm relationship with New York’s media.

Asked about successor, he told reporters, “You’re going to like him very much. He’s going to talk to you much more than I do.”

Egan: AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Prayer requests flood in for Good Friday

I’m just back from the Peale Center for Christian Living in Pawling, where the 39th annual Good Friday Day of Prayer is underway.

From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., staff members and volunteers are parsing through prayer requests from people around the world — and then praying for them.

The Peale Center received about 16,000 prayer requests for today, mostly at this Website, but also in handwritten letters.

As you would expect, many of this year’s requests have to do with economic worries, the need to find a job, to keep a home. But, like every year, many requests have to do with health concerns and relationship worries.

I looked through a stack of requests and was surprised how many had to do with divorce.

The center was founded by Norman Vincent Peale, the author of ”The Power of Positive Thinking,” in 1940 in New York and moved to Pawling, just over the Putnam/Dutchess line, in 1952.

The Peale Center is a non-denominational ministry of Guideposts, the inspirational Christian publishing company founded by Peale and his wife, Ruth Stafford Peale. They started taking prayer requests from readers decades ago and now do it year-round over the Web.

But the Good Friday Day of Prayer is special for many people there. I stood in the back of a large chapel for a while, watching volunteers read letters and then stop and pray.

Then read more letters. And pray some more.

I’ll write about it for tomorrow’s FaithBeat column.

Going to church on Easter, Twittering on Good Friday

Who’s going to church on Easter?

According to a new Marist Poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus, 63% of Americans and 74% of Catholic Americans plan to attend church on Easter.

In addition, 86% of Americans and 89% of Catholic Americans correctly identified Easter as the celebration of Christ’s resurrection.

About the 11% of Catholics who don’t know what Easter is about, can we go ahead and call them lapsed? How about super-lapsed?

Also, Trinity Wall Street, the famous downtown Episcopal church, plans a “Twittered Passion Play” at noon tomorrow. What is a Twittered Passion Play, you ask?

Their website explains:

*****

What Would Jesus Tweet?

In addition, Trinity will put on a unique Passion Play that marries this timeless Christian tradition with the latest in social networking trends.

The play begins on Good Friday, April 10, at 12 noon.

Lasting 3 hours, you can become an audience member by following twspassionplay on twitter and enabling direct messages. Have the feed delivered to your cell phone, blackberry, or email address.

You will receive Tweets from the main characters as the events of Christ’s passion unfold. Experience the passion wherever you are in your day, and feel free to forward it on to friends.

*****

Trinity will also have an “Online Stations of the Cross:”

*****

Stations of the Cross

A contemporary recreation of Christ’s Passion, the online Stations allow you to meditate on Christ’s final hours at your own pace. Experience the Stations in a modern dramatic recreation including photos, scriptural passages and prayers, and meditative music.

Users will find a main image that consist of a cross made up of 14 squares, taken from black and white photos of a recent staging of the Stations in Lower Manhattan. When clicked, each square will open to reveal one station of the cross.

Cardinal Egan ready to go

Cardinal Egan will celebrate Mass for Holy Thursday at 5:30 p.m. today at St. Patrick’s.

His role in Holy Week had been unclear because of two health scares.

The cardinal also plans to participate in tomorrow’s Good Friday service at noon, when he will preach on the Seven Last Words of Christ.

And he expects to celebrate Easter Mass at 10:15 a.m. (when tickets are required).

As you know by now, the cardinal was hospitalized Saturday with stomach pain. Subsequent tests showed that he will need a pacemaker, but the procedure has been temporarily put off.

Egan was released from St. Vincent’s Hospital Tuesday and has been resting up at home.

So he will take part in his last Holy Week as archbishop — yes, officially, he is now “administrator” of the archdiocese — before Archbishop Timothy Dolan takes charge next week.