November 30, 2012

Open your hearts to receive God’s love and mercy, Archbishop Tobin says

By Mary Ann Garber

Smiles—lots of smiles—greeted Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin when he visited the Little Sisters of the Poor, elderly residents and guests on Oct. 19 at the St. Augustine Home for the Aged in Indianapolis.

“My brothers and sisters, it’s a wonderful experience to be able to celebrate the Eucharist with you,” the new archbishop told the people assembled for Mass in the full chapel.

“When I first was assigned to Indianapolis—a city [and an archdiocese] I didn’t know a whole lot about—I was grateful to know that there is a community of the Little Sisters here because all over the world I have been privileged to visit the Little Sisters,” he said. “I happen to know your superior general [Mother Ce’line de la Visitation Raber, a native of San Francisco], who comes to [Rome] every once in a while from Paris to make sure the Vatican has been working correctly.”

Archbishop Tobin was the principal celebrant for the liturgy at the Little Sisters’ home for the elderly poor. Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, apostolic administrator, and Msgr. John Duncan, the chaplain at the home, were the concelebrants.

“Even though I’ve been in Indianapolis for only a few days,” Archbishop Tobin said, “people have gone out of their way to make me feel at home.”

God wants to welcome each of us into a life of faith, he said, and all we have to do to receive his love and mercy is open our hearts to him.

“That’s the [faith] we want to show God,” the archbishop said, “when we pray and say, ‘God, I’m not afraid because I know you love me. I’m not afraid because you sent Jesus to save me. I’m not afraid because I have the gift of the Holy Spirit, which gives me courage.’ ”

Christians need to remind themselves that they are truly loved by God, Archbishop Tobin said, and remember to ask God to be merciful.

During the prayers of the faithful, the archbishop noted that the world Synod of Bishops was meeting in Rome to consider new ways of preaching the Good News.

“Let us pray that [the bishops] will be open to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “Let us pray for peace throughout the world, for peace among nations, for peace in our country and for peace in our lives. … Let us pray for those who need our prayers the most today.”

And especially, the archbishop said, let us thank God for his loving and merciful care.

“Nourish us with your word and the love of your Son,” Archbishop Tobin prayed, “and give us whatever else we need so that we might be faithful to you.”

After the liturgy, Little Sister Laetitia Kreft spent time in prayer in the quiet chapel then rolled her wheelchair to the hallway to greet the new archbishop.

“You have to take what God gives you,” Sister Laetitia said with a smile as she waited in line. “Everything is what God wants. This is his world, and we’re his people. He’s always there with everybody, but we don’t always see him. But he’s always there every minute. He’s always close to us.” †

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