Cardinal Dolan receives warm welcome at his visit to Holy Hill

New York City Cardinal Timothy Dolan made a return to Milwaukee on Saturday for a Mass of Thanksgiving. Photo by Richard Dolan / Associated Press

Former Archbishop of Milwaukee and current New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan returned to Wisconsin Saturday for a special Mass of Thanksgiving at Holy Hill in Hubertus, Wis. Dolan drew hundreds of practicing Catholics to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians, some arriving as early as 6 a.m.

In his first visit to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee since his elevation to cardinal in February, Dolan made a point to greet as many people as possible. He proceeded down the aisle shaking enthusiastic attendees’ hands, hugging others and smiling at children in the crowd. After the Mass he went to the lower chapel and spoke to a second group, who had watched the Mass on a television screen.

In an interview with the Tribune, Dolan said he was excited to return to Milwaukee, having left for New York in 2009.

“Coming back to the A

rchdiocese of Milwaukee is coming home,” Dolan said. “When you’re a bishop or an archbishop, you’re a father of a family, and it’s like a great family reunion and coming back here to Holy Hill. … It was a homecoming, and I hope it showed.”

During his homily, Dolan said his love for the people and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has not changed.

“You stood with me those seven happy years and you have not forgotten me these past three, and I return as a grateful friend,” Dolan said.

The Rev. Jude Peters, a friar of Holy Hill, said Dolan’s appearance was a wonderful experience.

“It’s a great blessing from God for us to have the cardinal here and our archbishop and all the other bishops who were here,” Peters said.

Dolan also dedicated his elevation to Milwaukee.

“I could greet so many of you by name and just to see you again brings a smile to my face and such happy memories,” Dolan said. “Old friends, I say to you this evening that this hat is for you.”

Jenni Oliva, an archdiocese employee, assisted with hospitality at the mass and met Dolan several years ago. She said he is still the same upbeat man he was before.

“He is extremely kind and definitely puts others before himself,” Oliva said. “We were here at eight and about 75 people were lined up. It goes to show how he has positively affected people.”

Oliva said she heard nothing but positive comments as she assisted people.

“I think everyone has had a wonderful time and enjoyed the liturgy,” she said. “It was truly a celebration.”