Cardinal Timothy Dolan hit the ground running this morning, for the start of the Lenten season.
Just back from Rome, Dolan arrived at St. Francis of Assisi Church on 31st Street this morning where he handed out food to the homeless.
A crowd of well-wishers was on hand to greet him as he started his busy day and to congratulate him on his elevation to the College of Cardinals.
Dolan thanked everyone for their support and also addressed the importance of the day.
"This is what it's all about. Those red robes that change and title...actually God cares a lot more about this than he does about that. When I stand before him at the last judgement, the fact that I might be wearing red isn't gonna amount to a hill of beans. The fact that we shared our bread with the hungry that's what's gonna count. So that's what Ash Wednesday is all about," said Dolan.
The new cardinal then made his way uptown, presiding over a noon Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Those who came to St. Patrick's were glad to welcome Dolan back.
"What a great place, there's just something about this, the whole thing is magic," said one worshiper.
"He's like a regular person, he laughs and today I saw him with a regular jacket on and he's not like, stuffy," noted another.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent -- the 40 days of penitence and renewal leading up to Holy Week and ending with Easter.
Many Christians receive traditional ashes on their foreheads to symbolize their mortality.
The Ashes traditionally come from burning palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday celebration.
Dolan returned home Tuesday after spending a week in Rome.
But he won't have any downtime, the Cardinal has a busy schedule this week.
On Saturday, Dolan will take part in a celebratory Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Patrick's Cathedral.