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With nine knocks, Archbishop Timothy Michael Dolan entered the history books as the incoming leader of the area's 2.5 million Catholics.
Due to the ceremonies at St. Patrick's Cathedral, 50th and 51st Street between Madison Avenue and 5th Avenue will be closed Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Dolan conducted Tuesday evening's Solemn Vesper service at Saint Patrick's Cathedral, on the eve of his installation as the New York Archdiocese's 10th leader.
The St. Louis native and former leader of the Milwaukee Archdiocese was welcomed into the House of Worship by a procession of banners representing the 19 vicariates of the archdiocese.
Following his symbolic nine knocks on the cathedral's door, he was introduced by outgoing leader Edward Cardinal Egan.
"Your excellency Archbishop Dolan, allow me to assure you that this is the last time you will ever have to knock twice to get into St. Patrick's," Egan said. "We love you. We're so happy you're here."
A letter from Pope Benedict XVI appointing Dolan was also read.
Inside, Dolan was given a crucifix and holy water.
"As I begin my apostolic ministry as your new shepherd, there is nothing more effective, nothing more appropriate, nothing more powerful that we can do than pray," he said.
His first prayer was greeted with a loud round of applause.
Later in the service, Dolan delivered his first homily before his new congregation.
"There is sin and fear and sadness to keep us closed up inside," he said. "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, the unborn baby and the fragile human life at all stages. The need for vocations. The list is long. The list is haunting."
However, Dolan said that all of these challenges should only strengthen Catholics' faith.
It is the first time in the history of the archdiocese that a former leader has been in attendance. All eight previous archbishops had died while holding the post.
Followers say Dolan has the right message and attitude.
"Every time everyone stood up and clapped," said one service attendee. "And when they did, I got like goose bumps. It was just like amazing. It was great to experience this."
"Absolutely wonderful, very positive, very happy, a lot of clapping and I think he is being well accepted," said another.
After the welcoming prayer service, a reception was held for Dolan at the Catholic Center.
Earlier in the evening, more than 100 well-wishers gathered on the cathedral's steps in anticipation of tonight's service. The celebrating crowd played music, sang songs and carried banners to honor Dolan.
"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 Archdiocesan spokesman Joseph Zwilling.
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.