February 8, 2013

Estimated 1,000 welcome archbishop to New Albany Deanery

High school students from the New Albany Deanery sing in a youth choir prior to Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin’s welcome Mass at St. Mary-of-the-Knobs Church in Floyd County on Jan. 29. Several choirs sang before and during the liturgy. (Photo by Patricia Happel Cornwell)

High school students from the New Albany Deanery sing in a youth choir prior to Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin’s welcome Mass at St. Mary-of-the-Knobs Church in Floyd County on Jan. 29. Several choirs sang before and during the liturgy. (Photo by Patricia Happel Cornwell)

By Patricia Happel Cornwell (Special to The Criterion)

FLOYD COUNTY—“It is wonderful to be here in the oldest parish and the newest church in the county,” Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin told an estimated 1,000 worshipers at St. Mary-of-the-Knobs Church in Floyd County on Jan. 29.

The parish, founded in 1823 which features a new, large church, hosted the New Albany Deanery’s welcome Mass for the archbishop. Father Mike Hilderbrand is current pastor of St. Mary-of-the-Knobs Parish.

The deanery comprises 19 parishes in Clark, Floyd and Harrison counties in south central Indiana. The Mass was concelebrated by 16 priests. The liturgy involved greeters, lectors, altar servers and musicians from throughout the deanery. (See remaining deanery Masses)

Archbishop Tobin, who was installed as the sixth archbishop of Indianapolis on Dec. 3, greeted those in attendance in both English and Spanish.

“I thought that Hoosier hospitality was just a bumper sticker,” he said, “but it’s the real thing.”

During the Mass, Jeannine Newcomb, music director at Holy Family, sang Psalm 40, the refrain of which formed the basis of the archbishop’s homily: “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.”

In his homily, Archbishop Tobin talked about the importance of living out our faith.

“We do God’s will when we listen to his word and when we come to the Eucharist. We are never more family than when we gather around this table. We are Church because we proclaim the word we have heard, and we celebrate the Eucharist.

“Tonight, brothers and sisters,” he continued, “we embark on a journey. We go forward, trying to do God’s will, saying with our mother Mary, ‘Yes, Lord, let it be as you say,’ for we have nowhere else to go.”

Prior to the Mass, music was provided by a deanery honor choir of children in grades five through eight, a deanery youth choir of high school students, and the bilingual choir of St. Joseph Parish in Corydon. A combined deanery adult choir provided music for the liturgy.

Rick Rebilas and Erica Pangburn directed the honor choir, and Suzie Naville led the youth choir. Rebilas teaches music at Our Lady of Providence Jr./Sr. High School in Clarksville. Pangburn is music teacher at Holy Family School in New Albany and Sacred Heart School in Jeffersonville. Naville is youth choir director at St. Mary Parish in Navilleton. Winnie Mikeska led the St. Joseph bilingual choir.

Pangburn, a member of St. John the Baptist Parish in Starlight, also sang a setting of “Ave Maria.”

At a reception following the Mass, the archbishop received rave reviews from New Albany Deanery Catholics, most of whom heard him speak for the first time.

Jean Batliner, a member of St. Mary-of-the-Knobs Parish and sister of Evansville Bishop-Emeritus Gerald Gettelfinger, said, “He [Archbishop Tobin] seems very down to earth. I think he’ll be a very good shepherd.”

Diane Cooper of St. Mary Parish in Lanesville, wife of Deacon Rick Cooper, agreed. “I love him,” she said. “He’s very grounded, personable, approachable.”

Mary Ann Eaglin, who is a member of St. Mary of the Annunciation Parish in New Albany, said, “He seems very much at home here in Indiana. He seems like a really wonderful person.”

Henry Andres, a lifelong member of St. Mary-of-the-Knobs Parish, called the new archbishop “awesome. He’s on our level. I think he’s someone we can talk to.”

Theresa Shaw is a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Jeffersonville, and coordinator of youth religious education at Holy Family Parish in New Albany. She called Archbishop Tobin “warm and personable, humorous and loving. I just think he’s going to be awesome.”

“We’re not retaining our kids in the Church,” she said. “I think he can change that.”

Michael Clark, 17, a member of St. Mary Parish in Navilleton, sang with the deanery youth choir. “I really enjoyed the Mass,” he said. “The archbishop seems like a really good guy. He really connected. And his singing voice was amazing.”

Steve Byerley, a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in New Albany, echoed Clark’s comments. “He [the archbishop] is really easy to listen to. I can connect with him very easily. It seems like he’s on our level, not talking down to us.”

Dan Stilger, a member of St. Mary Parish in Lanesville, liked the archbishop’s sense of humor. “He’s fun. I think he’ll be a very good leader. He held everyone’s attention.”

Carolyn Stewart, a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in New Albany for 33 years, agreed. “He has a delightful sense of humor. He uses a little humor, a little seriousness, and he incorporated the readings into his homily.”

Deyanira Laaz, a member of the bilingual choir at St. Joseph Parish in Corydon and a native of the Dominican Republic, appreciated the archbishop’s command of Spanish.

“He surprised me,” she said. “I thank God that he spoke Spanish. He realized there are Hispanic people here, and he spoke good Spanish. I loved his homily.”

Florence Renn, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Clark County, praised the archbishop’s “good voice.”

Her friend Martha Fessel, a member of St. Mary-of-the-Knobs Parish, added, “He looks like he’s healthy, and he’s going to be with us for a good long time.”
 

(Patricia Happel Cornwell is a freelance writer and member of St. Joseph Parish in Corydon.)

 

Related: Bloomington Deanery parishioners feel connection to new archbishop

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