A flash of cameras greeted New York's Catholic leader Saturday night as he left his residence in Midtown to begin a week-long spiritual journey that culminates with his elevation to cardinal next Saturday at the Vatican.
Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan knows the next several days will be a whirlwind of activity.
"To tell you the truth, I'll be kind of relieved maybe to get back to normal after all the excitement and all the company and all the good wishes and it will be kind of good to get back to normal," Dolan said.
Much will take place before that happens.
The 62-year-old follows in the footsteps of his predecessor, Edward Cardinal Egan, who received his red hat in February of 2001.
The former New York Archbishop turns 80 in April.
It means for the next few weeks, the Archdiocese will have two cardinals eligible to vote for a new pope; a Catholic rarity.
Cardinal-designate Dolan will have his mother, siblings, nieces and nephews in attendance.
And in some ways much of New York City will be with him as well.
"I meant it on January 6th when I said this is a tribute to the entire community and I'm glad that the Catholic family particularly feels excited about it, but I'm getting that impression. When policemen, when people, when even garbage collectors stop and wish me congratulations, that means the world and I'm glad they're sharing in my joy," Dolan said.
As he arrived at Kennedy Airport, the approachable and spirited Archbishop of New York told us he packed some New York bagels to accompany the pasta he plans to enjoy in Rome.
He said he looks forward to meeting with Pope Benedict XVI.
But he's also thankful for a little quiet time before his jam-packed schedule begins.
"The folks start arriving on Tuesday, most of them come on Wednesday and Thursday. So I have a couple of days to myself because I've got to do some work and get measured for my duds and all that stuff, so it'll be good to have a couple of days to myself before all the excitement starts," Dolan said.
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