One son served as Shirley Dolan's escort. Another son served her communion. She had trouble describing what's running through her heart.
"Well, I could hardly talk...gratitude. Gratitude," she said.
With dozens of family and friends by her side, the 83-year-old mother of New York's Archbishop watched with joy, pride and adoration as her Cardinal-to-be son celebrated mass at the main altar of this historic and sacred basilica.
"St. John Lateran is the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome. That means it is the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome who is the Pope," Archbishop Timothy Dolan said.
About half of the one thousand pilgrims from New York, Milwaukee, St. Louis and even Ireland are here in Rome to witness the 62-year-old's elevation to cardinal on Saturday. Among them are more than 50-members of the Dolan family including siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews.
"It's been throughout his whole career that we've had these incredible, like, shocking moments and - it's hard to put into words. Unbelievable is basically the best word for it," Erin Steidley, his niece said. The cardinal-designate unveiled his folksy manner and sense of humor during a brief mass filled with deep gratitude, heartfelt prayer and heavenly adoration.
Afterwards, he spoke to reporters about the divine blessing of a cherished and supportive family.
"To be raised in a loving family united with my brothers and sisters and have a great Mom and Dad... I don't think anything else would've happened including life itself, if it weren't for them," Dolan said.
Stay with 7online and Eyewitness News for complete coverage of Archbishop Dolan's elevation to Cardinal. Joe Torres will be reporting from Rome all week, and you can watch the elevation ceremony live, beginning at 4:30 a.m. Saturday.
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