NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Iona Preparatory School students, parents, alumni and faculty welcomed Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York on Monday, for the celebration of a Lenten mass. His visit, which brought the entire Iona Prep community to the school’s Tully Gymnasium, was prompted by the efforts of one of its students.
That student, senior and City Island resident Joseph Noschese, in October asked the Cardinal if he would visit the school. They crossed paths while serving a funeral mass for a priest at the Church of Holy Family (in Bronx, N.Y.) where Noschese is an altar server and active parishioner.
Noschese was emboldened to ask the Cardinal to visit his school because, on meeting, he immediately admired and was inspired by the Cardinal’s charismatic personality.
And he thought his school deserved it. “I thought it would be a good honor,” said Noschese.
The Cardinal, appreciative of Noschese’s request, worked hard with his staff to fit a visit into his schedule. One condition Noschese had to meet was to send the Cardinal a formal, written invitation.
“He’s the man of the hour,” the Cardinal said. “I told him I’m honored by your inquiry so let’s do our best.”
Then, in December, Noschese received correspondence from the Cardinal’s office, telling him when the Cardinal would visit Iona.
In the interim, Cardinal Dolan travelled to the Vatican in Rome, Italy where he was appointed to the College of Cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI.
On arriving at Iona on Monday, Cardinal Dolan was greeted by a welcome sign in the front of the school, and bagpipe music rang out as he stepped onto school grounds.
“Today is a special day. We welcome Cardinal Dolan to our school and our community,” said Iona Brother Thomas Leto.
Later, at mass, the Cardinal talked about being “excellent” toward the Lord and the concept of sinning.
“The start to holiness is to acknowledge that we’re sinning,” he told those assembled.
Afterwards, Iona showed its appreciation by giving Cardinal Dolan a note, a gift basket of Iona Prep apparel, and a Celtic cross made from stone from the Isle of Iona. Several students and administrators then led the Cardinal on a tour of the school, with special stops at Jakeway Library, the newly renovated science labs, and math and science classrooms. Before leaving, the school held a private lunch for the Cardinal.
“I feel very much at home, and I thank you very much for this,” he said.
He suggested that he would petition the Archdiocese of New York to declare March 26 “Cardinal's Holiday,” meaning a day off from school for students.
“That’s just a sign of my admiration, affection, and appreciation for Iona,” the Cardinal said.