March 22, 2013

Archbishop celebrates Mass of Thanksgiving for papal election

Yellow and white bunting decorates the main doors of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis after a March 14 Mass that celebrated the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires as Pope Francis. The flag of Vatican City features yellow and white. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Yellow and white bunting decorates the main doors of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis after a March 14 Mass that celebrated the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires as Pope Francis. The flag of Vatican City features yellow and white. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

Less than 24 hours after Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires was elected the Church’s 266th pope and took the name Francis, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin celebrated a Mass to give thanks and pray for the new pontiff in SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on March 14 with approximately 300 Catholics. (Related: More coverage of the papal transition)

Before the start of the Mass, Dabrice Bartet, a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, spoke of why she took time out of her day to attend the Mass.

“It is very important for us to get together as a community to pray for the new pope,” said Bartet. “He has a lot of challenges that he has to face.”

Bartet was born in Paris and grew up in Togo in West Africa. She appreciated having a pope elected from outside of Europe.

“It’s very exciting,” she said. “Like in Latin America, in Africa we do a lot of praising [in worship]. We have a lot of celebration during Mass. We’re pretty similar.”

In his homily, Archbishop Tobin noted how many people beyond the Church were also excited by the papal election. Yet he recognized that this broad enthusiasm for the new pope might not last, noting that “you can be a peacock today and a feather duster tomorrow.”

Instead, Archbishop Tobin suggested more lasting reasons for being excited about the election of Pope Francis, namely that in the Holy Father, the faithful, the flock of Christ, can recognize Christ’s voice.

“The first commission of the Holy Father, of Pope Francis, is to make the voice of Jesus recognizable,” Archbishop Tobin said, “for without that a shepherd cannot do what the God shepherd wants to do—bind up the wounded, lead those [who are] astray, bring people home. Sheep will run from a voice they don’t recognize.” (Watch his homily here)

Archbishop Tobin also reflected on the choice of Francis as the pope’s new name.

“That excites our imagination,” Archbishop Tobin said. “What characteristics of [St.] Francis [of Assisi] is he thinking of? His simplicity? The austerity that Francis showed in his own self? His union with the poor? His preference for those that were lost? Could it be Francis’ commission from the Lord to rebuild his Church?

“Could it be Francis’ willingness to go to Cairo to speak to the sultan about what Jesus Christ really means? Could it be his prayer to make the Holy Father especially an instrument of God’s peace? It could be all of that.”

In the end, Archbishop Tobin said that Pope Francis “is our leader and our brother. And we pray that the Lord will confirm him so that he may strengthen us.”

Sean Belby, a member of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, was excited by the election of Pope Francis, and said that he attended the Mass “to take a moment and give thanks for the gift of our new Holy Father.”

“I’m still learning a lot about this man,” said Belby, who is involved in a variety of pro-life ministries. “But from the early indications, he’s a very holy and pious man. He certainly has a place in his heart and mind for the poor and for the defenseless among us, [including] the unborn.”

Leo Soliven was also filled with excitement at the election of the new pope. A native of the Philippines, Soliven moved to Indianapolis in 1970. He is a member of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis, and was at a meeting of its spiritual life committee at the parish when the new pope was announced.

“After the meeting, we saw the white smoke and stayed there for a while,” said Soliven with a laugh. “Then we toasted the new pontiff.” †

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!