By Anne Allred
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Cardinal Timothy Dolan knew he wanted to be a priest when he was a toddler.
NewsChannel 5's Anne Allred sat down with his neighbor, Ballwin resident Mildred Brenner. She remembers his dreams of the priesthood vividly.
It was 60 years ago, at 3-years-old, when the Holy Spirit called Cardinal Timothy Dolan to a life in the priesthood.
"They took him to mass and he came home and said that's what I want to be when I grow up. At 3-years-old he had that feeling, this is what I want to be," said Brenner.
Brenner lived next door to Dolan, and her children grew up with him. And while most kids were playing house or cops and robbers, Dolan was playing priest, enlisting the help of his four younger siblings.
"He liked to play mass in his yard and the kids would line up and Tim was the priest and they'd all have to be there and be holy I guess," she said.
Brenner has remained close with Dolan his entire career, always praying for him.
She travelled to New York to see him installed as the archbishop and visited with him at their parish, Holy Infant in Ballwin, during the church's 50th anniversary celebration.
"He comes over and gives this big bear hug that he does you know, and he turns around to all of the others and says 'I always do this to the little old ladies,'" said Brenner.
She adores his jovial spirit and admires his conservative doctrine, and her prayers will continue as she thinks about the possibility that the little boy from Ballwin could be the next pope.
"To think what it would do for St. Louis and what it would do for us never before for this country has there even been a thought of one," said Brenner.
To really prove how excited Mildred is about the conclave, she says she has broken her Lenten promise.
She gave up TV during the day but she can't help herself. She's been watching papal coverage non stop since Thursday.