December 23, 2011

Archbishop Buechlein’s retirement, arrival of Bishop Coyne top local stories

Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, right, exchanges a sign of peace with Bishop Christopher J. Coyne after ordaining him an auxiliary bishop on March 2 at St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis. Bishop Coyne’s appointment as auxiliary bishop and Archbishop Buechlein’s early retirement in September were among the top local stories in 2011. (File photo by Mary Ann Garber)

Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, right, exchanges a sign of peace with Bishop Christopher J. Coyne after ordaining him an auxiliary bishop on March 2 at St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis. Bishop Coyne’s appointment as auxiliary bishop and Archbishop Buechlein’s early retirement in September were among the top local stories in 2011. (File photo by Mary Ann Garber)

By Brandon A. Evans

The early retirement of Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein and the appointment of Bishop Christopher J. Coyne as auxiliary bishop were voted the top local news stories of 2011.

Other stories of note included coverage of the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) in Indianapolis, the successful passage of school voucher legislation and the announcement of parish closings in the Terre Haute Deanery.

Working in tandem with the custom of other news agencies, including Catholic News Service, The Criterion editorial staff votes each year for the top 10 stories that were published in our newspaper.

Many of the stories selected this year were actually made up of several individual articles. Read them all here

Amid the hundreds of locally produced news stories during 2011, here is our “Top 10” list:

1. Archbishop Buechlein announces his early retirement due to health reasons

In an emotional press conference, Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein addressed priests, co-workers, friends and media representatives on Sept. 21 to share the news of his early retirement.

During the past three years, the archbishop had dealt with a stomach tumor, shoulder replacement surgery and, most notably, a battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Despite the heavy toll on his health, he continued to serve the Church in central and southern Indiana.

It was a mild stroke in March of this year that proved to be too much. His recovery was not progressing as well as was hoped, and he made the decision to ask Pope Benedict XVI for an early retirement, which was granted.

“I leave with fond memories,” he told those gathered at the press conference in September, fighting back tears.

His auxiliary bishop, Christopher J. Coyne, became the apostolic administrator of the archdiocese on the same day—until a new archbishop is appointed—and praised the archbishop’s contributions to Catholic education, youth and young adult ministry, Catholic Charities, priestly vocations and capital campaigns.

“While we are sad to see his ministry here in [the Archdiocese of] Indianapolis come to an end,” Bishop Coyne said, “we are so grateful for Archbishop Daniel’s long and successful service to the people of central and southern Indiana.”

Among his other accolades, Archbishop Buechlein was honored in 2011 with the Bishop John England Award as publisher of the year by the Catholic Press Association.

Promising to pray for all those that he has known and worked with through the years, the archbishop asked in return for prayers as he began a life of simplicity at Saint Meinrad Archabbey in southern Indiana.

See links to more coverage of Archbishop Buechlein's retirement

2. Pope Benedict appoints an auxiliary bishop to the archdiocese

Even before the mild stroke that led to Archbishop Buechlein’s retirement, the pope responded to the need for support for the archbishop and appointed an assistant for him in January.

Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, originally a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston, was ordained an auxiliary bishop on March 2 by Archbishop Buechlein at St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis. He is the first auxiliary bishop that the archdiocese has had since 1933.

“I’m grateful to the Holy Father,” Archbishop Buechlein said during a

Jan. 14 press conference announcing Bishop Coyne’s appointment. “I consider this a late Christmas gift. We have a vibrant archdiocese with 151 parishes spread out over almost 14,000 square miles in 39 counties in central and southern Indiana. That’s a lot of territory for one bishop to be the shepherd of.”

Upon his ordination, Bishop Coyne became the second highest-ranking official in the archdiocese.

“I am truly excited about coming to Indianapolis and being a bishop for you,” Bishop Coyne said in remarks after his ordination. “I promise that I will try and do all that is possible to be a shepherd after God’s own heart.”

Six months later, Bishop Coyne became the apostolic administrator, assigned to care and tend to the archdiocese until the pope appoints a new archbishop.

See links to more coverage of Bishop Coyne's appointment

3. 23,000 people attend the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis

Ten years after hosting the event, the archdiocese again played host to the National Catholic Youth Conference, a three-day event which attracted more than 23,000 high school youths, chaperones and conference presenters to central Indiana to grow in their faith.

Bishop Coyne—who was joined by dozens of other bishops along with a myriad of priests and religious—celebrated the closing Mass at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Nov. 19.

Coinciding with the youth conference was the first-ever National Catholic Collegiate Conference, at which 250 college-aged young adults gathered for prayer and programs.

“The youths themselves kept amazing me,” said Kay Scoville, archdiocesan director of youth ministry. “Their reverence, and the way they were so respectful, patient and joyful.

“The conference truly brought glory to God, and that was the focus. Everybody was connected. It was the Catholic Church at its best.”

See links to more coverage of NCYC 2011

4. Gov. Mitch Daniels signs school choice legislation into law

“Real school choice has come to Indiana,” said Glenn Tebbe, Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC) executive director, moments after watching Gov. Mitch Daniels sign the school choice bill into law during a May 5 bill signing ceremony at the governor’s office.

Tebbe worked to promote school choice in Indiana for more than a decade.

“For the first time in the history of Indiana, eligible parents will be able to use a voucher to send their children to a nonpublic school,” Tebbe said. “And in many cases, that school of choice will be a Catholic school.”

Under the new law, working Hoosiers whose children qualify for free or reduced price lunches would get 50 to 90 percent of what it costs the state to educate those students in a public school to attend a private one of their choice.

By September, 1,028 students in Catholic schools across the archdiocese benefited from the Indiana voucher program.

5. Plan to energize Terre Haute Deanery includes the closing of four parishes

The “agonizing” decision to close four parishes in the Terre Haute Deanery came after more than two years of “much prayerful work, research and reflection by the Terre Haute Deanery Pastoral Leadership Team and the Deanery Planning Team,” according to archdiocesan officials.

A July 13 letter from Archbishop Buechlein announced the closing of four of the deanery’s 14 parishes—Holy Rosary Parish in Seelyville, St. Ann Parish in Terre Haute, St. Joseph Parish in Universal and St. Leonard of Port Maurice Parish in West Terre Haute.

The four parishes represent about 325 families or less than 10 percent of the approximate 4,000 households in the Terre Haute Deanery.

“Even as we grieve these closings, it is ours to look with anticipation to the new collaborations which are key to the strategic plan,” said Father Rick Ginther, dean of the Terre Haute Deanery.

The final Mass at St. Leonard Church was celebrated on Nov. 19—one century to the day after the inaugural Mass was celebrated there. The other three parishes will close in 2012.

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6. Archdiocesan Catholics prepare for the new translation of the Mass

Catholics in central and southern Indiana joined with the rest of the country in preparing for the new translation of the Mass, which debuted at the end of November on the first Sunday of Advent.

A Nov. 18 news story reported that, “It is the first major change to the words prayed at Mass in a generation. Many parish leaders have been hard at work preparing their parishioners for the new Roman Missal, and trying to help them come to a greater appreciation of the Mass at the same time.

“But because of the diversity of parishes, a variety of approaches have been implemented to prepare archdiocesan Catholics for the new Mass translation.”

SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral Parish in Indianapolis used pamphlets inserted in its weekly bulletin and letters in the bulletin from its pastor, Father Noah Casey, to help parishioners prepare for the new liturgy.

The archdiocesan Office of Worship also offered a series of one-day workshops that served as an introduction to the revised Roman Missal for pastoral musicians and parish liturgical leaders.

Some of the sung parts of the new translation were also allowed in parishes—at the discretion of pastors—beginning in September.

7. Historic estate gift announced at Catholic Community Foundation meeting

A Nov. 11 Criterion news story reported that “a historic estate gift to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis was announced during the annual meeting of the board of directors of the Catholic Community Foundation [CCF] at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis.

“Donald Horan, a member of St. Mary Parish in Greensburg and president of the CCF board, told meeting attendees on Nov. 2 that land given to the archdiocese was recently sold for $7.5 million.

“This estate gift—the largest in archdiocesan history—was made possible through the generosity of James P. Scott, who died in 1979 while a member of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis. … “When the archdiocese was informed of the unrestricted gift, Archbishop Emeritus Daniel M. Buechlein directed that at least $5 million of the gift be used to create the James P. Scott Endowment. Funds distributed from it annually—totaling approximately $250,000—will support capital projects in parishes, schools and agencies throughout central and southern Indiana.”

8. Sweeping pro-life legislation is signed into law in Indiana

When Gov. Mitch Daniels signed House Enrolled Act 1210 into law, he helped make Indiana one of the most pro-life states in the country, one of his spokesmen said.

Because of the act, Indiana became the first state to defund abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood. It also required women to be given certain information—in both oral and written forms—before undergoing an abortion.

A May 13 story explained that, “The wide-ranging pro-life act also prohibits abortions in Indiana after 20 weeks of gestation. …

“The act also will require doctors who perform abortions in the state to establish emergency room admitting privileges for the purpose of follow-up care should the post-abortive woman need it.

“HEA 1210 also bans an Indiana health insurance exchange established under the federal health care act from including elective abortion coverage.”

Because of legal challenges, HEA 1210 has yet to take effect.

9. Deacon Dustin Boehm is ordained to the priesthood

Bishop Coyne ordained transitional Deacon Dustin Boehm to the priesthood during a Mass on June 4 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

Bishop Coyne was the principal celebrant at the Mass, and Archbishop Buechlein was able to attend and preach the homily. It was his first public event since suffering a mild stroke in March.

“It was an overwhelming moment just to see all of the people there so representative of God’s grace and God’s love, and also their love,” Father Boehm said after the ordination liturgy. “It was an absolute gift. It was so humbling, [thinking about] what was about to happen.”

The archbishop gave advice and counsel to the new priest during the Mass.

“Priestly ministry is awesome,” Archbishop Buechlein said. “You will be able to serve because of God’s special grace, which you receive in the sacrament of holy orders this morning. God’s grace will accompany you all the days of your life.”

Father Boehm began his priestly ministry in July as associate pastor of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis.

10. Marian University continues work toward new medical school

On Aug. 24, Marian University in Indianapolis revealed that Michael Evans, a local businessman and veteran, had donated $48 million to aid in the creation of a medical school planned to open in the fall of 2013.

The same day, ground was broken for the facility, which Marian University president Daniel Elsener announced would be named the Michael A. Evans Center for Health Sciences. It will house the school of nursing and a new college for osteopathic medicine.

Evans was reluctant to take credit for the donation, which he said was inspired by a desire to share his talents, but Elsener urged him to acknowledge his gift.

“Our hope is that every student who is educated here will be inspired by [Evans’] legacy and understand how they can share their gifts with others as selflessly as he has,” Elsener noted.

The university also received a $1 million gift from the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation. †

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