For most Americans, the word “choice” has become a synonym for abortion. But in Wisconsin, when someone asks if you are for or against “choice,” they’re most likely talking about the state’s school voucher program, a program that funds what is now the largest Catholic school in the country.
Bob Dolan, brother of New York’s Cardinal Dolan and a TV and Radio producer who owns his own production company, is here this week working on a new EWTN series (“my fifth or sixth”) about St. Anthony School in Milwaukee, a school for poor children whose parents could not afford to send them to Catholic school under any other circumstances. The school educates about 2,000 kids from pre-school through high school.
“People in Wisconsin either love or hate choice,” Dolan says. “Every time there’s an election, that’s the question. Our current governor, Scott Walker, loves the Parental Choice Program. A large majority of kids go to St. Anthony because of the Choice program. We’re telling this story because so many Catholic schools are not making it. Here, we have the opposite. It’s a hopeful story for the rest of us. It can still be done in 2013.”
The experience in Wisconsin proves that vouchers can work!
While Bob was here, I couldn’t resist asking him what it was like being Cardinal Dolan’s brother during the papal conclave. I knew he had been bombarded by the press because, as EWTN’s Communications Director, I fielded a fair number of calls from the media during that time who wanted Bob’s phone number. [For the curious, we passed on messages, but did NOT give out his phone number!]
“It was nerve wracking and exciting,” Bob said. “Family members read the same things everyone else read. The media said there were 10 or 15 Cardinals [up for election] and he was one of them. But we didn’t buy into it because we had talked to him! Even though we weren’t thinking about it, there is an hour between the white smoke [going up] and the man on the balcony; it was the longest hour of my life. You couldn’t help but think, ‘What if? How life would change for him and for us!’ It was a remarkable experience!”
Bob says his brother obviously couldn’t say much about the conclave. “But he did tell me it was the most emotional and spiritual experience he’s ever had in the conclave,” Bob said. “He said you could literally feel the presence of the Holy Spirit!”
Cardinal Timothy Dolan is the oldest of five children while Bob is smack in the middle. For years, Bob hosted a popular morning drive talk radio program in Milwaukee – and when his brother was Archbishop of Milwaukee, Bob says the two of them co-hosted a television show for three years called “Living Our Faith.”
Says Bob: “It was the first and only time we’ve ever worked together. My brother is good on camera, so there was no holding his hand. I may have been the media professional, but he ran away with the show. It was a blast!”
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