February 15, 2013

Archbishop’s visits connect with faithful in deaneries

Anita Bardo, left, Mary Guynn and Charles Guynn, all members of St. Rita Parish in Indianapolis, greet Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin during a reception following a Feb. 5 Mass at St. Therese of the Infant Jesus (Little Flower) Church in Indianapolis. Mary Guynn, a mother of 21 children, is the great aunt of Anita and Charles. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Anita Bardo, left, Mary Guynn and Charles Guynn, all members of St. Rita Parish in Indianapolis, greet Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin during a reception following a Feb. 5 Mass at St. Therese of the Infant Jesus (Little Flower) Church in Indianapolis. Mary Guynn, a mother of 21 children, is the great aunt of Anita and Charles. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher, Natalie Hoefer and John Shaughnessy

TERRE HAUTE, RICHMOND AND INDIANAPOLIS—As Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin continued to visit deaneries across the archdiocese, the reception he received was as heartfelt and hopeful as his message of humility and holiness.

Catholics from the Indianapolis East Deanery filled St. Therese of the Infant Jesus (Little Flower) Church on Feb. 5 as the archbishop celebrated Mass.

On Feb. 6, he traveled to St. Patrick Church in Terre Haute to celebrate Mass with members of the 10 parishes in the Terre Haute Deanery. (Related: See a photo gallery from all three Masses)

Four days later, the archbishop headed toward the eastern border of Indiana to celebrate Mass at St. Andrew Church in Richmond with members of the 11 parishes in the Connersville Deanery.

The trips reflected the archbishop’s desire to visit the 11 deaneries in the archdiocese as soon as possible—a commitment he made when he was installed as the sixth archbishop of Indianapolis on Dec. 3.

His homilies in Richmond, Terre Haute and the Indianapolis East Deanery also focused on his consistent themes of holiness and humility.

Archbishop Tobin spoke of everyone’s call to holiness in his homily at St. Patrick Church in Terre Haute. The archbishop quoted from an apostolic letter of Blessed John Paul II: “He said, ‘… all pastoral initiatives—what the Church is about—have to be, and must be, set in holiness.”

The archbishop continued with the question, “What is holiness?”

Archbishop Tobin said, “A little later in his letter, Pope John Paul II defines what he is talking about. He says, ‘Holiness is simply belonging to the one who is all holy.’ ”

The archbishop explained that “belonging to the one who is holy involves two things—gift and task.”

The “gift” part, he said, is realizing that “you are a royal priesthood … a people of God” with Christ as a high priest who “lives to make intercession for us.”

The “task” part of belonging to the one who is holy, he said, is that “we are called to respond with faith.”

Before the close of the Mass, the archbishop recognized the faith that people in the Terre Haute deanery have had, with two parishes closing in 2012 and one in 2011.

“I’m reminded of St. Paul, who often mentioned in his letters that his faith was strengthened by the faith of the Christian communities,” the archbishop said. “I feel very much the same way here—your faith strengthens my faith.”

That theme of humility was echoed in his homily at St. Andrew Church in Richmond.

The archbishop focused on how the Mass readings of Feb. 10 showed that Isaiah, St. Paul and St. Peter all expressed their unworthiness toward God. Yet instead of rejecting them, God embraced them and called them to a life with him.

“Where is God opening a door for us today as a Church in central and southern Indiana?” the archbishop asked. “We answer with the words of Isaiah: ‘Here I am, Lord, send me’ ” (Is 6:8).

The archbishop’s combination of humor and humility at the beginning and end of the three Masses—and during the receptions that followed—resonated with the people who attended the celebrations.

“Seeing the large crowd was so exciting,” said Msgr. Paul Koetter, pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in Indianapolis and dean of the Indianapolis East Deanery. “It was a blend of all the parishes. Our people were very happy to be there and have the chance to meet the archbishop afterward. He welcomes people so well.”

Msgr. Koetter noted that people in the congregation at Little Flower Church during the archbishop’s visit represented the many Catholics on the east side with Irish roots as well as black Catholics, largely from St. Rita Parish, and Hispanic Catholics from several parishes.

Their welcome gifts also reflected the character of east side Indianapolis Catholics. The gifts included a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe and a jacket from Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School, the archdiocese’s interparochial high school in the deanery.

The archbishop also received gift certificates to three restaurants that Msgr. Koetter said represented the “blue collar” nature of much of the population of the east side of Indianapolis.

After the Mass at St. Patrick Church in Terre Haute, the faithful of the Terre Haute Deanery greeted the archbishop at the St. Patrick Parish Life Center.

“This is just an excellent thing that he [Archbishop Tobin] is doing,” said Father Rick Ginther, pastor of St. Patrick and St. Margaret Mary parishes, both in Terre Haute, and dean of the Terre Haute Deanery.

Conventual Franciscan Father Mark Weaver, pastor of St. Joseph University Parish in Terre Haute, returned home on Feb. 5 from a conference in Italy to concelebrate the deanery Mass.

“I talked to people over there [in Italy] who knew him, and they said we are so blessed and fortunate to have him,” Father Mark said. “They spoke very highly of him.”

Nine-year-old Kaden Boyer, a third-grader at St. Patrick School, joined the Catholic Church last Easter and was excited to meet Archbishop Tobin.

“I told him I came into the Church last year here at the Easter Vigil and that I had a lot of fun doing it,” said Kaden, who also showed the archbishop the cross-shaped freckle pattern on his nose. “He said that’s a sign of faith, and that I’m probably going to be a priest.”

Donna Murphy had the same glow of joy when she met Archbishop Tobin during an after-Mass reception in the gymnasium of Seton Catholic High School in Richmond. His visit on Feb. 10 coincided with her 75th birthday.

“I was thanking him for coming for my 75th birthday,” Murphy said with a smile. “He just wished me a happy birthday and said he hoped I would have a big party tonight. He’s very nice, and I enjoyed his homily.”

David and Annette Willhelm waited in a long receiving line in the gymnasium to meet Archbishop Tobin.

“I’ve heard a lot of good things about him,” said David Willhelm, a member of Holy Guardian Angels Parish in Cedar Grove. “We wanted to meet him in person. I feel he will be a good leader for us.”

The Willhelms were among a number of people who expressed their appreciation for Archbishop Tobin’s desire to connect with all the deaneries of the archdiocese.

“It’s a great honor for us,” said Father Jeremy Gries, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Rushville and dean of the Connersville Deanery. “He’s very personable and very gracious. It’s wonderful to have a bishop who is able to be out with the people. That’s great for the spiritual health and well-being of the people in the archdiocese.” †

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