December 7, 2012

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin is installed as the sixth archbishop of Indianapolis

While processing out of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin blesses members of the congregation after the Dec. 3 Mass during which he was installed as the sixth archbishop of Indianapolis. Accompanying him are permanent Deacon Russell Woodard, left, and transitional Deacon John Kamwendo. (Photo by Mary Ann Garber)

While processing out of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin blesses members of the congregation after the Dec. 3 Mass during which he was installed as the sixth archbishop of Indianapolis. Accompanying him are permanent Deacon Russell Woodard, left, and transitional Deacon John Kamwendo. (Photo by Mary Ann Garber)

By Sean Gallagher

In the ancient Mediterranean world and in medieval Europe, a chair was a symbol of a teacher. In those cultures, teachers sat in chairs, and their students sat at their feet to learn from them.

The Catholic Church continues this traditional symbol in the cathedra, the seat of a diocesan bishop in a local Church’s cathedral.

When Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin sat in the cathedra for the first time at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Dec. 3, he did so to teach the Catholic faithful of central and southern Indiana how to love and respond to Christ’s love for them.

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

In a homily he delivered during the Mass in which he was installed as the sixth shepherd of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Archbishop Tobin reflected on how St. Paul saw himself as obligated to preach the Gospel because Christ loved him first.

“And so, for us Catholics of central and southern Indiana, if someone asks us, ‘Why do you do what you do?,’ it’s not simply because we’re obeying rules,” Archbishop Tobin said. “In fact, on at least four different occasions, I heard Pope Benedict XVI say that the Gospel cannot be presented first and foremost as a list of moral obligations.

“It is rather an encounter with a person, someone who has loved us first and someone who asks us to continue his loving presence in the world. And so all of us who belong to this particular Church are under an obligation—the obligation of love.”

Archbishop Tobin said that he and the Catholics of central and southern Indiana are to express that love with the passion that drove St. Francis Xavier, a patron saint of the archdiocese whose feast day is Dec. 3, to preach the Gospel in India—halfway around the world from his home in Spain.

“What we will do together as a Church, we will do with passion, the passion that characterized our patron saint, Francis Xavier,” Archbishop Tobin said. “And we will do whatever the Lord asks us to do in bringing the Good News, especially to those who have the least chance of hearing it, for those who live on the margin of things, for those who have been hurt by the Church, for those who feel themselves to be forgotten.”

Archbishop Tobin also called upon the example of the Servant of God Bishop Simon Bruté, the first bishop of Vincennes, to explain how to love and avoid the opposite of love—fear.

He first quoted—and claimed as a description of his own mission—a pastoral letter that Bishop Bruté wrote to the Catholics of his diocese shortly after he was ordained a bishop in 1834 in which he described himself as “your chief pastor.”

“He didn’t say ‘the only pastor,’ ” Archbishop Tobin said. “For the mission that I begin today, I share.”

He then described the people with whom he will minister as shepherd of the archdiocese—Bishop Christopher J. Coyne and the archdiocese’s priests and deacons, its religious, lay ministers, heads of families and single people.

Archbishop Tobin then recalled a saying of Bishop Bruté.

“He said, ‘Fear is one of the devil’s greatest devices,’ ” Archbishop Tobin said. “The Archdiocese of Indianapolis will not be a Church of fear because it could not [then] be true to Jesus Christ, who said that love is the characteristic of his disciples. We will seek to eliminate fear. And we will announce the Good News together.”

In addition to paying tribute to the first in the line of bishops to lead the Church in central and southern Indiana, Archbishop Tobin honored his immediate predecessor, Archbishop Emeritus Daniel M. Buechlein, who attended the installation Mass.

In remarks at the end of the Mass, Archbishop Tobin thanked Archbishop Buechlein “for laying a firm foundation and of being so gracious to me in our conversations and for his promise to be always a cell phone call away when I run up against implacable problems.”

Before the Mass, Archbishop Buechlein spoke with The Criterion about how he was looking forward to witnessing the installation of his successor.

“I’m excited, and I’m grateful,” Archbishop Buechlein said. “I’m grateful to the Holy Father for giving us Archbishop Tobin, grateful for Archbishop Tobin for his saying ‘yes.’ He’s a good man.”

Archbishop Buechlein is the first retired shepherd of the Church in central and southern Indiana to be alive to witness the installation of his successor since Archbishop Paul C. Schulte was present for the installation of Archbishop George J. Biskup on Jan. 3, 1970.

The installation Mass started with Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States, serving as the principal celebrant.

More than a hundred priests and two dozen bishops processed into SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, which was filled with more than 1,000 worshippers.

Shortly after the start of the Mass, Archbishop Viganò began the rituals by which Archbishop Tobin would be installed.

“ … Archbishop Tobin, we pray through the intercession of St. Francis Xavier, whose feast the Church celebrates today, the patronal feast of this archdiocese,” Archbishop Viganò said, “that, in the spirit of this zealous missionary, your apostolic labors for the sake of the Gospel in the new evangelization will bear much spiritual fruit in this portion of the Lord’s vineyard and likewise serve the good of the community at large.

“May the holy season of Advent and the Year of Faith be a time of great grace and blessing for all of the people of God in Indianapolis.”

Archbishop Viganò then read the apostolic letter from Pope Benedict in which the pontiff appointed Archbishop Tobin to lead the Church in central and southern Indiana.

In the letter, Pope Benedict invoked the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for Archbishop Tobin “so that supported by her protection, you may so pastor the faithful confided to your pastoral care that they may continue to grow each day in Christian virtues, eager to hear the word of God, to practice works of mercy and to receive worthily the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, the Bread of Life given from heaven for the salvation of humankind.”

The apostolic letter was then ritually presented to the archdiocese’s College of Consultors, a group of priests who advise the archbishop, and to the entire congregation.

Archbishop Viganò then asked Archbishop Tobin if was “willing to serve the people of this archdiocese in the traditional apostolic faith of the Church?”

“With faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and with the love of God in my heart,” Archbishop Tobin said, “I do accept the pastoral care of the people of God in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. I resolve to serve faithfully the spiritual needs of the local Church.”

The congregation then responded with, “Thanks be to God” and applauded enthusiastically.

The central ritual of the installation Mass—the seating of Archbishop Tobin in the cathedra—then occurred.

Various people representing different parts of the faithful of the archdiocese then came to Archbishop Tobin at the cathedra to greet him. They included a priest, a deacon and his wife, religious, a married couple, youths and young adults, representatives of the Hispanic community and people with special needs.

Also greeting Archbishop Tobin were a representative of the Indianapolis-based Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a Muslim imam, a Jewish rabbi and various civic officials, including Indianapolis Mayor Gregory Ballard, who is Catholic.

At the conclusion of the installation Mass, Archbishop Tobin took time to thank Pope Benedict, Archbishop Buechlein, Bishop Coyne, other archdiocesan leaders, and the Catholics of central and southern Indiana who have been praying for a new archbishop for months now.

“I thank you for those prayers,” Archbishop Tobin said, “and I ask that they continue.”

He also thanked his mother, Marie Tobin, and his 12 siblings. Archbishop Tobin then thanked his family among the members of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, commonly known as the Redemptorists, in which he first professed vows in 1973.

He served as the superior general of the order of 5,300 members ministering in 78 countries from 1997 to 2009.

“My brothers here know the full story. I trust that they’re not going to tell it,” said Archbishop Tobin with a smile. “But I thank you for teaching me to love the poor, and to assure that the Gospel is preached in season and out.”

Finally, Archbishop Tobin noted that, while he could not predict what would happen “in this great adventure of being the archbishop of Indianapolis,” he was, nonetheless, happy to serve as the shepherd of the local Church.

“Whatever the Lord holds for me, that’s fine,” Archbishop Tobin said. “But I’m sure that I’m going to enjoy life with you, my brothers and sisters of the Church in central and southern Indiana.” †

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