January 25, 2013

'Where is God opening a door for us today?'

Indianapolis South Deanery Mass begins archbishop’s tour of archdiocese

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin delivers a homily during a Jan. 16 Mass at St. Jude Church in the Indianapolis South Deanery. The liturgy was the first in a series of Masses that Archbishop Tobin will celebrate in each of the archdiocese’s 11 deaneries to worship with and get to know Catholics across central and southern Indiana. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin delivers a homily during a Jan. 16 Mass at St. Jude Church in the Indianapolis South Deanery. The liturgy was the first in a series of Masses that Archbishop Tobin will celebrate in each of the archdiocese’s 11 deaneries to worship with and get to know Catholics across central and southern Indiana. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin may have been installed as the sixth archbishop of Indianapolis on Dec. 3 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

But he started to introduce himself more broadly to the Catholic faithful spread across 39 counties in central and southern Indiana during a festive Mass celebrated on Jan. 16 about five miles south of the cathedral at St. Jude Church in Indianapolis.

The liturgy was the first of 11 Masses the archbishop is scheduled to celebrate during January and February in each of the archdiocese’s deaneries. (See a listing of all the Masses here)

Approximately 1,000 Catholics from across the Indianapolis South Deanery filled the church to overflowing as Archbishop Tobin and 15 priests who minister or are in residence in the deanery processed down its main aisle.

The opening procession was accompanied by the singing of a choir made up of dozens of singers and instrumentalists playing French horns, trumpets, violins, cellos, guitars, a piano and several drums.

“What a wonderful sight, to see in microcosm the Catholic Church in central and southern Indiana, to be here with the priests and deacons, the baptized, all different ministries, the catechumens and candidates, young and old,” said Archbishop Tobin a few moments later during remarks at the start of the Mass. “Aren’t we fortunate, that, out of the darkness of this night, God has called us to share and rejoice in the light of his Son?”

At the same time, the new shepherd of the Church in central and southern Indiana acknowledged a little nervousness celebrating his initial deanery Mass.

“In case you can’t tell, this is the first time that I’ve ever done this,” Archbishop Tobin said. “So it’s nice to be wearing this stuff [vestments] so you can’t see my knees.”

During his homily, Archbishop Tobin reflected on how important St. Peter was for him as he meditated on the Scriptures. He talked about how impressed he was that the Apostle, despite his failings, kept coming back to Jesus because he “knew that only with this one would he receive the answers to the deepest longing of his heart.”

“We keep coming back because we have no other place to go, really, if we want our hearts to rest in God,” Archbishop Tobin said. “Why are we here this evening? Because we represent the Church in central and southern Indiana.”

He later invited his listeners to consider the question, “Where is God opening a door for us today?” and to share with others the blessings Christ has given them.

“Could it be to ensure that our faith is transmitted in its entire beauty from one generation to the next?” Archbishop Tobin asked. “Could it be that we are to reach out to the nearly 20 percent of the population of this state that has no affiliation with any church, that does not receive the comfort and the solace that we receive from our faith?

“Could it be that we are to recognize that there are new Catholic Christians in our midst, people who have come here to find a home and may not yet feel at home with us?”

Although he asked many questions about the possible mission of the Church in central and southern Indiana, Archbishop Tobin didn’t pretend to have all the answers. Yet, he said he ultimately knew where to look for them.

“Where is God opening a door for us today?” Archbishop Tobin asked again. “You tell me, because every morning I’m going to have to ask that question and then encourage and animate my brothers and sisters to walk through that door and announce that only with Jesus, with his word, with his sacraments, with the exercise of charity will we find the answer to the deepest desires of our hearts.”

During a reception that followed, a long line of people who attended the Mass waited to meet Archbishop Tobin.

Maria Rodriguez, a member of St. Patrick Parish in Indianapolis, was one of them.

“I’m so glad to be here,” said Rodriguez. “I feel that he is open to everybody. He’s so humble. I liked his homily and that he speaks Spanish.”

At the end of the Mass, Archbishop Tobin made remarks in Spanish to the Hispanics in the congregation.

“… I present you with some words from the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis,” Archbishop Tobin said. “I am your brother, brother as a disciple of Christ, brother as a witness to the resurrection, and for me it is a joy, it is a great joy to serve.”

Michael Kalscheur was one of a large contingent of members of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood that attended the Mass, many of whom arrived at St. Jude in two school buses.

“It was fantastic,” said Kalscheur of getting to worship with his new archbishop. “What a presence. He just exudes holiness. It was just an honor to be in his presence.”

Mary Ann Bays was all smiles after getting to speak with Archbishop Tobin. At 84, she has been a member of St. Jude Parish for 51 years.

“This was the first time that I’ve ever shook hands with an archbishop,” said Bays with a laugh. “It’s the first time that I’ve ever really met one personally. It was exciting.”

The night of the Mass was the first time that Father Stephen Banet met Archbishop Tobin.

For Father Banet, St. Jude’s pastor since 2002, it was an honor to have Archbishop Tobin worship with Indianapolis South Deanery Catholics at his faith community’s church.

“When he arrived here in October, we shook hands and that was it,” Father Banet said. “I never got to him in December [at the installation Mass]. So this is an extraordinary event for us at St. Jude. … I couldn’t ask for a better gift.” †

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