It was equal parts pep rally, comedy show, and religious revival in the Rose Hill Gymnasium on Friday evening, Sept. 14, when Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York, joined Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, for “The Cardinal and Colbert: Humor, Joy, and the Spiritual Life.” The discussion—moderated by James Martin, S.J., author of the book Between Heaven and Mirth (HarperOne, 2011)—drew a rousing crowd of more than 3,000 spectators, mostly students, prompting The New York Times to call it perhaps “the most successful Roman Catholic youth evangelization event since Pope John Paul II last appeared at World Youth Day.”
The conversation had more than its fair share of zingers—Dolan: “Do you feel pressure to be funny all the time?” Colbert: “Do you feel pressure to be holy all the time?”—but the theme that emerged was quite serious.
“Lord knows there are plenty of Good Fridays in our lives,” Cardinal Dolan said, “but they will not prevail. Easter will. As we Irish claim, ‘Life is all about loving, living, and laughing, not about hating, dying, and moaning.’”
One of the highlights of the evening was an animated cartoon created by Fordham College at Rose Hill senior Tim Luecke, a visual arts major and an honors student. The video, screened at the start of the event, shows the participants on campus, where Cardinal Dolan and Colbert get chased by the Ram, and Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, has the last laugh.