February 1, 2013

Archbishop Tobin gets warm welcome in Tell City Deanery

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin greets Judy Hagedorn, left, and her daughter, JoAnn Smith, members of St. Mark Parish in Perry County, after celebrating Mass on Jan. 21 at St. Paul Church in Tell City. (Submitted photo courtesy of Vince Luecke, Perry County News)

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin greets Judy Hagedorn, left, and her daughter, JoAnn Smith, members of St. Mark Parish in Perry County, after celebrating Mass on Jan. 21 at St. Paul Church in Tell City. (Submitted photo courtesy of Vince Luecke, Perry County News)

By Leslie Lynch (Special to The Criterion)

TELL CITY—A sense of reverence and hushed anticipation filled the sanctuary at St. Paul Church in Tell City on Jan. 21 where Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin would celebrate his first deanery Mass outside Indianapolis.

Installed as the shepherd of the Church in central and southern Indiana on Dec. 3, 2012, at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis, Archbishop Tobin has the goal of visiting each of the archdiocese’s 11 deaneries in the next three weeks to learn more about the archdiocese and meet the people who comprise it. (Related: Deanery Masses to continue in February)

Members of the Tell City Deanery’s 11 parishes traveled to St. Paul Church and gathered to welcome the new archbishop.

In preparing for the special Mass, Vickie Hillenbrand, coordinator of liturgy and music director at St. Paul Parish, said, “We wanted to set a beautiful and festive tone.”

At the beginning of the Mass, Archbishop Tobin acknowledged the enormity of his transition into his new role. “There’s so much to learn. But I’ve discovered Hoosier hospitality is not just an empty slogan. It’s the real deal. Thank you for coming out to welcome me.”

In his homily, Archbishop Tobin spoke about the personal nature of faith.

Faith isn’t about facts, he said, it is about getting to know God on a more intimate level. He reflected on time spent in prayer before a three-quarter view painting of the face of Jesus, and his subsequent growth in his desire to understand the hidden side.

“The point is, brothers and sisters, every day we get a chance to know the Lord a little more,” he said.

Archbishop Tobin cited prayer, the daily readings and frequent reception of the sacraments as ways to deepen our relationship with God.

He also asked, “Where is God opening a door for us?”

This question resonated with Benedictine Sister Mary Emma Jochum, longtime director of religious education at St. Paul Parish.

“I felt like the bishop’s presence brought a lot of spirit to the Mass,” she said. “I was very much moved by his presence.”

Regarding the question the archbishop posed, she said, “I’ll have to wait and see,” indicating it to be of such importance as to require some prayer and reflection.

Judy Meunier, a member of St. Paul Parish, made note of the fact that Archbishop Tobin paused to pray before preaching the homily.

“I was so impressed,” Meunier said. “It’s a great reminder for any of us to stop and think and pray before we speak.”

Concelebrating priests during the Mass included Benedictine Father Guy Mansini, pastor of St. Isidore the Farmer Parish in Perry County; Father Brian Esaray, pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Leopold, Holy Cross Parish in St. Croix, and St. Martin of Tours Parish in Siberia; Benedictine Father Anthony Vinson, administrator of St. Meinrad Parish in St. Meinrad, and St. Boniface Parish in Fulda; and Father Dennis Duvelius, pastor of St. Paul Parish in Tell City and St. Mark Parish in Perry County.

Father Duvelius was pleased his parish was able to host the deanery Mass.

“This was my first opportunity to meet the archbishop,” he said. “He joined us [the priests of the deanery] for dinner, and we had a nice opportunity to chat before Mass. I’m very grateful he was able to come down here so soon after he was installed. We’re very honored by that. I’m also pleased that we had such a good turnout. I recognize people from a number of the parishes of the deanery. I was hoping to see that.”

Beaming, he added, “We’re just so happy to have him.”

An impromptu greeting line formed during a reception afterward, and never lacked for people wishing to welcome Archbishop Tobin. Smiling and unhurried, he focused his complete attention on each person who approached him.

After speaking with the new shepherd, Norma Ramsey said she was happy she attended the liturgy.

“I think it’s just wonderful that he’s visiting the deaneries,” said Ramsey, a member of St. Isidore the Farmer Parish in Perry County. “He’s a wonderful speaker, he has a wonderful demeanor, and I just feel very blessed here tonight. He’s very personable.”

Garrett Jarboe, 16, who was an altar serving during the Mass, agreed.

“I connected with Archbishop Tobin on a personal level with the homily,” said Garrett, a member of St. Paul Parish. “I felt like I’ve known him all my life. Afterward, he wanted quality time with everyone. He is very knowledgeable about our deanery, and genuinely cares to know more about us.”

As an added bonus, Garrett said, “Archbishop Tobin will confirm me this year, and meeting him takes the unknown out of the situation. I’m really comfortable with taking the step now.”

Mercedes Mendez, 16, also was an altar server, and she expressed the deep honor she felt at the opportunity.

“When we washed his hands, it was, well, not like a miracle, but it was amazing,” said Mercedes, a member of St. Paul Parish. “I wish more people could have come. We don’t get to see an archbishop very often.”

Mercedes and her family also found common ground in language. Archbishop Tobin speaks fluent Spanish and is familiar with Guadalajara, Mexico, where they have relatives.

“I really related to what the archbishop said in his homily. It made me closer to God,” Mercedes said. “I think kids my age should come to church more. The priests actually say good things to us.”

(Leslie Lynch is a member of St. Mary Parish in Lanesville.)

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