December 7, 2012

Redemptorists flock to Indianapolis for Archbishop Tobin’s installation

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin smiles as he walks out of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis after the Dec. 3 Mass in which he was installed as the sixth archbishop of Indianapolis. Walking in front of Archbishop Tobin is Father Patrick Beidelman, archdiocesan director of liturgy. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin smiles as he walks out of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis after the Dec. 3 Mass in which he was installed as the sixth archbishop of Indianapolis. Walking in front of Archbishop Tobin is Father Patrick Beidelman, archdiocesan director of liturgy. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

For much of his adult life, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin has lived and built deep relationships with many members of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, commonly known as the Redemptorists.

Many of those Redemptorists made their way from around the world to Indianapolis on Dec. 3 for the installation Mass of Archbishop Tobin.

(Click here to see more stories, photos and videos from the installation Mass)

Archbishop Tobin became a Redemptorist novice in 1972, first professed vows in the order the following year and was ordained a priest in 1978. In 1997, he was elected as the superior general of the worldwide order and served in Rome in that position until 2009.

The following year, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as secretary for the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, which helps guide the life and ministry of more than 1 million men and women religious around the world. By virtue of that appointment, Archbishop Tobin was ordained an archbishop.

Long before rising to such positions of leadership in the Church, however, Redemptorist Father Harry Grile met Archbishop Tobin when he was a “short, rather rotund little kid from Detroit” who, while a junior high school student, participated in a Redemptorist vocation program during the summer at a minor seminary the order operated in the mid-1960s in Wisconsin.

“He did cannon balls off of the diving board of our swimming pool,” said Father Harry with a laugh.

Father Harry later taught Church history to Archbishop Tobin at the now-closed Mount St. Alphonsus Seminary in Esopus, N.Y.

“It’s wonderful,” said Father Harry, provincial of the Redemptorist’s Denver Province, about attending the installation. “I was touched. He’s an exceptional person. He was one of the better students I had. He’s got a heart as big as he is. He will really reach out to a lot of the people.”

Redemptorist Father John Schmidt, also a leader in the Denver Province, served as an associate pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in Chicago in the early 1990s when Archbishop Tobin was pastor of the parish.

Watching Archbishop Tobin during the installation Mass, he recognized many qualities in him that he came to know 20 years ago.

“I saw his warmth and his ability to make jokes at his own expense,” Father John said. “He’s a humble man in many ways.”

He also expected the charism of the Redemptorists to influence the ministry of Archbishop Tobin in the Church in central and southern Indiana and beyond.

“Our charism is a very pastoral charism,” Father John said. “It’s closeness to the people. And I know that Archbishop Tobin will bring that to his ministry. And that will be a great influence in the U.S. Church.”

Archbishop Tobin is currently the only Redemptorist serving as a bishop in the United States. Father John said that the last one to do so was Bishop Aloysius J. Willinger, who served as the bishop of Monterey, Calif., from 1953 to 1967 and died in 1973.

Also representing the Redemptorists at the installation Mass were young members of the order still in formation.

Redemptorist Brothers Landon Cao, 30, and Aaron Meszaros, 27, are about a year away from being ordained priests. They are currently receiving their priestly formation at Chicago Theological Union in Chicago.

Brother Aaron lived with Archbishop Tobin for about a month in 2007 when he was a novice in the order. He said participating in the installation Mass was a moving experience.

“It’s powerful because he’s such a kind man,” Brother Aaron said. “He’s really so personable, so kind, so compassionate and so pastoral. I think that’s the key word—pastoral. I’m really proud to see one of our Redemptorists lead a diocese in the U.S.”

Brother Landon, whose parents emigrated to the United States from Vietnam, sees Archbishop Tobin as a role model.

“His personality is very down to earth. He likes to be with the people,” Brother Landon said. “That is our characteristic as Redemptorists. We go to the people. And for an archbishop to be like that … is an inspiration for us as future priests.”

Brother Aaron echoed Brother Landon’s sentiments.

“Being a Redemptorist is to be with the people, to really serve the people,” Brother Aaron said. “That’s where our hearts lie. And I see that with Joe Tobin. His heart is with the people.” †

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