October 26, 2012

Priests, religious and laity welcome new archbishop

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, left, meets Archbishop Emeritus Daniel M. Buechlein in the chancery at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis on Oct. 18. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, left, meets Archbishop Emeritus Daniel M. Buechlein in the chancery at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis on Oct. 18. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Criterion staff report

Willing to adapt his schedule for the opportunity to witness “a historic event,” Jim Kenney made the early morning drive from southern Indiana to Indianapolis on Oct. 18—the day that Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin was introduced as the new archbishop of the archdiocese.

A member of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Clarksville, Kenney was already planning to come to Indianapolis for a meeting later that day when he learned the night before about the press conference at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral.

“Very positive,” said Kenney, part-time director of stewardship at his parish, in offering his first impression of the new archbishop. “I got his name last night, got on the Internet to check him out, and was very impressed with his credentials and what he’s done in the past. I thought it was a good opportunity to see a historic event.”

Archbishop Tobin, 60, succeeds Archbishop Emeritus Daniel M. Buechlein, who resigned in September 2011 at age 73 for health reasons. He had headed the archdiocese for 19 years.

A native of Detroit, Archbishop Tobin joined the Redemptorist religious congregation in the early 1970’s. He will be installed as archbishop of Indianapolis during a special Mass at 2 p.m. on Dec. 3 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral. The date is the feast day of St. Francis Xavier, patron saint of the archdiocese. (See more stories and photos here)

Auxiliary Bishop Christopher J. Coyne has been serving as apostolic administrator of the archdiocese, and will continue in that role until Archbishop Tobin’s installation.

Bishop Coyne introduced Indianapolis’ new shepherd at the news conference, but first paid tribute to Archbishop Buechlein, who was in attendance. The retired archbishop, a Benedictine monk, lives at Saint Meinrad Archabbey in southern Indiana.

“The archdiocese is a thriving and healthy Catholic community that serves not only our people, but [also] so many of the greater community of central and southern Indiana,” Bishop Coyne said, which is “due in no small part to the vision and leadership of Archbishop Buechlein.”

Bishop Coyne said Archbishop Tobin “shared with me he really has a missionary’s heart and never imagined he’d be called to serve as archbishop of Indianapolis. We are all very pleased you have been missioned to this great archdiocese.”

In his remarks, Archbishop Tobin talked about faith as “the capacity to be surprised by God.

“Together, we accept this mission. In the eyes of faith, we allow God to surprise us because we know that God is faithful,” he said. “In all of my life as a priest and as a religious, I’ve been surprised by God. Sometimes I’ve said, ‘Are you sure you know what you’re doing?’ I’ve learned to just walk by faith, not always by sight.”

He added, “One of the most serious responsibilities that I accept is in identifying and empowering the gifts of this archdiocese.”

Archbishop Tobin described his appointment to lead the archdiocese as “a wonderful and daunting mission.

“I’m coming with a missionary’s heart to learn where God is opening a door for the Catholic Church in central and southern Indiana,” he said.

Archbishop Tobin thanked Archbishop Buechlein “for what you did for this Church for 19 years, for your example as a bishop, first in Memphis, then in Indianapolis and now in retirement.

“Like Pope John Paul II, you showed us the dignity and the acceptance of the Cross, and that suffering doesn’t have the final word,” he said.

As the Hispanic ministry coordinator for the archdiocese, Franciscan Brother Moises Guiterrez was touched when Archbishop Tobin used part of the press conference to speak Spanish as a sign of his connection with the Latino community.

“It was perfect Spanish,” said Brother Moises, a native of Mexico. “I can feel the excitement in the Latino community and the archdiocese in general. He has a good sense of diversity appreciation, and how important diversity is to the community and the Catholic Church.”

Father Michael O’Mara, pastor of St. Mary Parish in downtown Indianapolis, has a large Hispanic presence at his parish.

He, too, was excited that the new archbishop will offer “continuity” to the outreach that Archbishop Buechlein offered to Spanish-speaking Catholics.

“The Latinos also want to feel that the archbishop is their pastor, and they are going to feel that,” he said.

Mother Mary Vincent Mannion also was thrilled by Pope Benedict XVI’s choice of Archbishop Tobin to lead the nearly 228,000 Catholics in 147 parishes in central and southern Indiana.

“I am so delighted,” said Mother Mary Vincent, superior of the Little Sisters of the Poor at the St. Augustine Home for the Aged in Indianapolis. “It’s a wonderful archdiocese to be a part of so I’m sure he’s happy, and we’re happy with him, too.

“He certainly knows religious life, and the problems and the joys we have as religious. And the fact that he’s so interested in vocations, isn’t that marvelous? Right up front, he told us how important it is for us.”

Providence Sister Denise Wilkinson said members of her order were eager to meet the new shepherd.

“With the blessings of our Provident God, we wish Archbishop Tobin the very best as he engages in his new ministry in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis,” said Sister Denise, who is general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. “We are hopeful that the Sisters of Providence will enjoy a valuable relationship with him as we did with Archbishop Buechlein. We look forward to getting to know him more personally soon.”

Many priests from across the archdiocese also attended the press conference, viewing it as an opportunity to see and meet the new archbishop while also visiting with and paying tribute to Archbishop Emeritus Buechlein.

“I was really impressed with how prayerful and spiritual he is—very much like Archbishop Buechlein in that regard,” said Father John Hollowell, administrator of Annunciation Parish in Brazil and sacramental minister of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Terre Haute.

“You can sort of tell about a person’s priorities when you listen to them speaking, especially in something like this where you’re introducing yourself. And to begin with one’s baptism sets a real tone.”

Father Patrick Beidelman also noticed the connection between the two archbishops.

“Archbishop Daniel ordained me in 1998,” said Father Beidelman, archdiocesan director of liturgy. “I am eagerly anticipating the opportunity to serve with Archbishop Tobin. I sense that he has wonderful gifts in leading people, empowering people, supporting people and letting them thrive through the grace and mercy of God.”

As the president of Marian University in Indianapolis, Daniel Elsener was pleased to hear the new archbishop’s strong support of Catholic education.

“I’m sure he will continue the legacy of Archbishop Daniel on education,” Elsener said. “I look forward to working with him.”

Father Rick Ginther, who was recently appointed director of the archdiocesan Office of Ecumenism, was struck by Archbishop Tobin’s commitment to a missionary spirit across the archdiocese.

“That sense of the missionary spirit is going to be crucial for us in the new evangelization, and that will be in every parish, in every county, in every city, in every rural area, bringing the faith in a renewed way to those that are on the margins of the Roman Catholic Church right now,” said Father Ginther, who also serves as pastor of St. Margaret Mary and St. Patrick parishes in Terre Haute and as dean of the Terre Haute Deanery.

Father Noah Casey also praised the unique perspective that Archbishop Tobin will bring to the archdiocese.

“He brings a worldwide view to an urban culture of Indianapolis that is becoming more and more multicultural,” said Father Casey, the rector of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral. “So it’s a good mix of religious tradition and multicultural awareness, and even multilingual ability, which is a great thing for us.”

Several priests commented on the continuity of leadership for the archdiocese that has extended from Archbishop Buechlein to Bishop Coyne and now to Archbishop Tobin in the past 13 months.

“It is an exciting day for the archdiocese,” said Msgr. Joseph Schaedel, pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis. “I think Bishop Coyne has done a wonderful job in the interim, but we’ve been anxiously awaiting a permanent archbishop as we move forward on so many of the initiatives that Archbishop Buechlein started, and we have continued this ministry under Bishop Coyne.

“It is a historic day. It’s wonderful that we are going to be able to now pray for our bishop, Joseph.”

(Contributing to this story were Sean Gallagher, Mary Ann Garber and Mike Krokos.)

Local site Links: