Born February 6, 1950, Cardinal Dolan was the first of five children born to Shirley Radcliffe Dolan and the late Robert Dolan. In 1964, he began his high school seminary education at St. Louis Preparatory Seminary South in Shrewsbury, Mo. His seminary foundation continued at Cardinal Glennon College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy. He then completed his priestly formation at the Pontifical North American College in Rome where he earned a License in Sacred Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas.
Cardinal Dolan was ordained to the priesthood on June 19, 1976. He then served as associate pastor at Immacolata Parish in Richmond Heights, Mo., until 1979 when he began studies for a doctorate in American Church History at the Catholic University of America. Before completing the doctorate, he spent a year researching the late Archbishop Edwin O’Hara, a founder of the Catholic Biblical Association. Archbishop O’Hara’s life and ministry was the subject of the Archbishop’s doctoral dissertation.
On his return to St. Louis, Cardinal Dolan served in parish ministry from 1983-87, during which time he was also liaison for the late Archbishop John L. May in the restructuring of the college and theology programs of the archdiocesan seminary system.
In 1987, Cardinal Dolan was appointed to a five-year term as secretary to the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C. When he returned to St. Louis in 1992, he was appointed vice rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, serving also as director of Spiritual Formation and professor of Church History. He was also an adjunct professor of theology at Saint Louis University.
In 1994, he was appointed rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome where he served until June 2001. While in Rome, he also served as a visiting professor of Church History at the Pontifical Gregorian University and as a faculty member in the Department of Ecumenical Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. The work of the Cardinal in the area of seminary education has influenced the life and ministry of a great number of priests of the new millennium.
On June 19, 2001 – the 25th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood – then Fr. Dolan was named the Auxiliary Bishop of St. Louis by Pope John Paul II. The new Bishop Dolan chose for his Episcopal motto the profession of faith of St. Peter: Ad Quem Ibimus, “Lord To Whom Shall We Go?” (Jn 6:68).
Cardinal Dolan served as chairman of Catholic Relief Services from January 2009 – November 2010. He is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of The Catholic University of America. He is also a member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
On June 29, 2009, Cardinal Dolan received the pallium, a symbol of his office as an archbishop, from His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, at St. Peter’s Basilica.
Cardinal Dolan was elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in November, 2010, succeeding Cardinal Francis George of Chicago. He was succeeded by Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville in November of 2013, having completed his three year term as president.
On January 6, 2012, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI announced that Cardinal Dolan was to be appointed to the College of Cardinals. He was elevated in the Consistory of February 18, 2012.