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'Father Dan' appointed cardinal

| Thursday, Oct. 18, 2007

Even after Daniel N. DiNardo became archbishop of the diocese of Galveston-Houston, he never forgot the church he founded in Marshall a decade ago.

"It was always just Father Dan," said Ginny Fisher, administrative assistant at the Saints John and Paul Roman Catholic Church, who often talked by phone with the man who hired her 14 years ago.

DiNardo, 58 -- who was fond of telling his flock that if he couldn't say his homily in seven minutes, it wasn't worth saying -- was among 23 bishops named cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday. They will be installed Nov. 24 in Rome.

"I am deeply grateful to the Holy Father for his kindness in appointing me, and his trust in allowing me to be placed in the college of cardinals," DiNardo said in a statement.

The phones at Saints John and Paul started ringing early yesterday with calls from parishioners asking if a trip to Rome was being planned for the installation of their beloved former pastor, Fisher said.

"He was always there for anybody who wanted to talk to him," said Walter Scheller, 82, of Franklin Park. "He was missed when he left."

DiNardo was born in Steubenville, Ohio, the son of Nicholas and Jane Green DiNardo. He has a twin sister, Margaret; an older brother, Thomas; and a younger sister, Mary Anne. The family moved to Pittsburgh, and DiNardo attended St. Anne's Catholic School in Castle Shannon. He graduated from The Bishop's Latin School in 1967.

"He's an absolutely brilliant man. He's a churchman through and through, a tremendous theologian," said Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik, who has known DiNardo since they entered St. Paul Seminary in 1967. "He's proving himself to be quite a shepherd."

DiNardo was ordained a priest in Pittsburgh in 1977 and served as parochial vicar at St. Pius X in Brookline.

"He was dynamic, a ball of energy," said Delores Nypaver, assistant director of development at the Diocese of Pittsburgh, who was a parishioner at St. Pius X during DiNardo's tenure. "We used to tease him that he would be the first American pope."

The selection of DiNardo as cardinal didn't come as a surprise to his closest friends.

"It's a great confluence -- a man who personally merits the job and a city that merits the attention," said the Rev. Louis Vallone, pastor at St. John of God in McKees Rocks, who has known DiNardo since 1963.

Vallone and others said the choice of a bishop from the Southwest reflects the changing demographics of the church. DiNardo's diocese serves 1.3 million Catholics.

"We pretty much knew Rome would have to take note of the demographic shift and send a cardinal to the South," he said.

DiNardo went from St. Pius to several positions with the diocese. He was named assistant chancellor of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and part-time professor at St. Paul Seminary in 1981. While there, he served as spiritual director to seminarians such as Joseph McCaffrey, now pastor at Saints John and Paul Church.

Then he went to Rome to serve with the Vatican Congregation for Bishops.

He was assistant secretary for education in the Diocese of Pittsburgh while serving as co-pastor of Madonna del Castello in Swissvale with Auxiliary Bishop Paul Bradley in 1991.

In 1994, DiNardo founded Saints John and Paul Parish in Marshall and served there until 1997, when he was named coadjutor of the Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa. He was elevated to bishop that October.

In 2004 he went to the Diocese of Galveston-Houson and was named archbishop there last year.

McCaffrey said his mentor loves to cook and enjoyed taking his students out for a meal. He was surprised by the quick pace of DiNardo's career.

"What's amazing is that he was named a bishop 10 years ago and now a cardinal," McCaffrey said. "That's extremely quick."

Additional Information:

What is a cardinal•

The pope appoints cardinals to serve as his key advisers, hold important offices or lead prominent archdioceses. A cardinal's chief responsibility is to be part of the conclave that picks a successor when the pope dies.

There are 15 cardinals in the United States.

Source:U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Pittsburgh bishops who became cardinals

John Deardon -- 1969

Adam Maida -- 1994

John Wright -- 1969

Anthony Bevilacqua -- 1991

Source: Diocese of Pittsburgh

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