Archbishop Timothy Dolan is being ceremoniously welcomed at St. Patrick's Cathedral tonight as the head of the New York Archdiocese.
A procession of banners representing the 19 vicariates of the archdiocese paved the way for the new leader, who will preside over the Solemn Vespers, an evening prayer service which will include Scripture readings and the first homily delivered by Dolan.
The ceremony begins with Dolan knocking on the door of St. Patrick's. He will then be led in through the back of the church, accompanied by the archdiocese's outgoing leader, Edward Cardinal Egan.
“It took us a little while, but we decided to go with the basics,” said Archdiocesan spokesman Joseph Zwilling. “We thought we’d take a little metal hammer, [have a] couple of nice knocks on the door. We’ll have a microphone inside, everybody’ll hear it. It’ll sound wonderful.”
They will be followed by a procession of banners representing the 19 areas of the Archdiocese of New York. A letter from Pope Benedict XVI appointing Dolan will also be read.
"Not that he's overly confident - it's a daunting task becoming archbishop of New York, he he feels that with God's grace he'll be able to do what the Lord sent him here to do," said Zwilling.
It is the first time in the archdiocese's history that the outgoing archbishop is taking part in the ceremony. All previous archbishops had passed away before a successor was installed.
Those waiting to enter the cathedral said that Dolan is ready for the challenge, but were sorry to see Egan go.
"I think he's very excited to be here," said Sister Sheila O'Neil, who has known for years. "He loves people, loves life. He's such a dedicated servant of God."
"I'm looking forward to the new archbishop, although I like Cardinal Egan," said attendee James Hazel. "This bishop is going to offer new views for young men to become priests."
On Monday, the archbishop settled into his new home with the help of his family and close friends.
Dolan said he would challenge any suggestion that Catholics who oppose gay marriage and abortion are unenlightened. He says even as more people come to embrace such practices, Catholics who don't believe in them are just abiding by long-standing beliefs of the religion.
"I think we Catholics just need to stand up and say, we're above the times, we're timeless in our beliefs, in our values and in our ethics and in our morality, and we don't take our cue from the winds and the trends of the day but we kind of hold strong to the timeless trues of Christ and his church," said Dolan.
Worshippers at St. Patrick's this morning told NY1 that they were optimistic about Dolan leading the archdiocese.
"The Catholic Church has some problems and I think he'll right the ship a little bit," said one worshipper.
"He seems like a real good guy," said another. "Saw him on the news last night, he has a good sense of humor, baseball fan. Looks like he'll do well in New York."
NY1 will also carry Wednesday's installation ceremony LIVE starting at 1 p.m.