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Two archbishops who teamed up to help military family now cardinals

Funny how things work out. Two  U.S. prelates were among 22 Catholic Church leaders worldwide to receive the cardinal’s red hat during a Feb. 18 consistory led by Pope Benedict XVI. The two include Cardinals Timothy M. Dolan and Edwin F. O’Brien.

Both men have known each other for years, as they’ve attended bishops’ meetings in Washington, D.C., and were both rectors of the North American College in Rome. But who would have guessed back in 2003 that these men would represent the United States at the cardinal’s consistory in 2012? The thought never crossed my mind while in the presence of then-Milwaukee Archbishop Dolan in July 2003.

We were in Brookfield, Wis., where I was reporting on and photographing a special visit the archbishop made to the home of Mary Kay Kulla. Kulla’s husband, Scott, an Army lieutenant, was stationed in Iraq and Mary Kay had just given birth to the couple’s fourth child nine days earlier.

There in the Kulla living room, Archbishop Dolan sat on the sofa holding 9-day-old Blaise Augustine Kulla, in his left arm while conversing with Kulla and her three other children, 11-year-old Celeste, 6-year-old Gabriel, and 2-year-old Genevieve.

“Since the war broke out I’ve been praying for military families,” Archbishop Dolan told me. “I found out about (Mary Kay’s) story and I took a liking to her.”

During his visit, the archbishop offered a special blessing for Blaise, who weighed 6 pounds, 15 ounces at birth. He also made a phone call to a fellow archbishop, Edwin F. O’Brien, who was head of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services. He wanted Archbishop O’Brien to keep in touch with Kulla and her family while Scott was overseas.

So the two archbishops who teamed up to help a military family in 2003 are now teaming up to be part of Pope Benedict’s College of Cardinals. Yes, it’s funny how things work out.

In 2003, then-Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan cradled 9-day-old Blaise Augustine Kulla during a visit to the Kulla home in Brookfield, Wis. (Photo by Sam Lucero)

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