October 14, 2016

‘Families’ of Cardinal-elect Tobin express pride, joy after announcement

Cardinal-designate Joseph W. Tobin poses with his mother, Marie Tobin, on Oct. 9, 2010, after he was ordained an archbishop at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. (Criterion file photo)

Cardinal-designate Joseph W. Tobin poses with his mother, Marie Tobin, on Oct. 9, 2010, after he was ordained an archbishop at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. (Criterion file photo)

By Sean Gallagher, Natalie Hoefer, Mike Krokos and John Shaughnessy

The “families” of Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin showed their pride, joy and excitement following the announcement that he had been chosen by Pope Francis on Oct. 9 to be one of the Church’s 17 new cardinals.

The pride and joy started with his mother, Marie Tobin, for the oldest of her 13 children. Since her son decided to become a priest, she said, she has prayed for only one thing through the years—for him “to be a good priest.” She believes God has answered that prayer.

“The older I get, my prayer changes to gratitude for what he’s done,” says Marie Tobin, who is 93. “I thank the Lord and know he’s taking special care of him.”

She’s also thankful to Pope Francis for leaving her son in the archdiocese, noting that Cardinal-designate Tobin has “left part of his heart” in every place where he’s ministered.

“He so loves Indiana,” his mother said by phone from her home in Stoney Pointe, Ontario. “I would be afraid that he wouldn’t have heart left [if he had to leave.] I couldn’t imagine how sad he would be.

“I gave him to God a long time ago when he was ordained. And I know the Lord loves a cheerful giver. So I would be happy wherever he is, because I can’t go back on that.”

She plans to travel to Rome for her son’s installation as a cardinal in St. Peter’s Basilica on Nov. 19.

“I know it’s going to take my breath away, but I’m going anyway.”

His sister Margo Tobin recalled their days of growing up together, including how they would play “Mass,” with Cardinal-designate Tobin being the priest and some of his sisters being the altar servers.

“I always look back to that and marvel that he knew then [about his vocation],” she said from her home in Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.

Turning her thoughts to the pope’s selection of her brother as a cardinal, she added, “We’re so proud of him. I know he can handle anything the Holy Father puts him up to.

“Having him in Indianapolis is wonderful for him and for us. Over the past few years, we have gotten to know and appreciate the people of the archdiocese who have welcomed him so. It’s a wonderful place for him to be.

I watch him with people and I think that to take him out of being a pastor in Indianapolis would be hard for him. So I’m glad that he’s able to continue to do that.”

So is his brother, Jim Tobin.

“He’s a great leader and a very humble person,” Jim said. “I think the pope thinks a lot of him. People recognize what an impact he’s had on the Church across the globe. No matter where he goes, he leaves a good path.”

‘He’s our pastor. He’s our shepherd.’

Praise and pride also came from another “family” of Cardinal-designate Tobin—the Redemptorists, the order in which he was ordained to the priesthood 38 years ago. He served as the superior general of the order from 1997 to 2009. The closeness between him and his order continues.

“I extend the heartfelt congratulations of the entire Denver Province to Archbishop Tobin,” said Father Stephen Rehrauer, provincial superior of the order’s Denver Province. “His selection to the College of Cardinals affirms Archbishop Tobin’s extensive service to the Church.”

The pope’s choice of Cardinal-designate Tobin also excited the family he has created in the archdiocese in his nearly four years as spiritual leader of the Church in central and southern Indiana.

At 17, Caleb Moster was part of a group of high school students from southeastern Indiana who delayed a visit to the Bishop Simon Bruté Seminary in Indianapolis on Oct. 10 to attend the press conference for the new cardinal-designate in the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis.

“I’ve talked to him before, and it’s cool to know there’s a holy man in the archdiocese,” said Caleb, a member of

St. Louis Parish in Batesville. “You don’t get to meet a cardinal every day.”

The group, who posed for photos and selfies with Cardinal-designate Tobin after the press conference, was led by Father Jonathan Meyer, pastor of All Saints Parish in Dearborn County.

“I’m feeling blessed and thankful,” Father Meyer said. “He’s our pastor. He’s our shepherd. Our archbishop will have the opportunity to share his experiences of our local Church in the heart of the world. I find that to be a blessing.”

So does Father Kenneth Taylor, pastor of Holy Angels and St. Rita parishes, both in Indianapolis.

“It seems to be his pastoral approach and his concern for justice and correcting society were motivating factors behind him being named,” Father Taylor noted. “It says something good about both him and the pope, and the direction they want the Church to go. This is great symbolism for us.”

‘Please don’t take him from us’

The news created incredible excitement—and some initial concern—for Cardinal-designate Tobin’s close friend and colleague, Annette “Mickey” Lentz, chancellor of the archdiocese.

“I was so happy and proud of him, and at the same time thinking, ‘Please don’t take him from us,’ ” Lentz said.

“Knowing Archbishop Tobin the way I do and the privilege I have of working so closely with him, he was a great choice. I think the pope knows that, obviously, and I think he will have a great impact on cities around us in the Midwest, on those who are working for the same causes that Pope Francis is working for. He’s already been a good shepherd. I think this just affords people the opportunity to see that he really and truly is out there with the sheep and wants to be a part of them.”

After initially hearing the news, Msgr. William F. Stumpf, vicar general of the archdiocese, also wondered if Cardinal-designate Tobin was being assigned somewhere else. When he learned that the archbishop was staying with the archdiocese, he considered both pieces of news to be terrific.

“When I actually heard he was named a cardinal, I said, ‘Where?’ ” Msgr. Stumpf recalled. “And the person said, ‘Here!’ I said, ‘You’re kidding!’

“I think it’s absolutely awesome. I can understand why, because he is such an extraordinary leader, and he has such a phenomenal heart, and he’s so humble. He has so much care for the poor and the marginalized. He’s just a perfect fit in terms of the efforts Pope Francis is looking for in the Church.”

The pope’s choice is also great news for the young adults of the archdiocese, according to Katie Sahm, associate director of young adult and college campus ministry for the archdiocese.

“We’re really excited for him—all the young adults love him,” Sahm said. “We can’t wait to see what happens next.”

That enthusiasm was shared by Father Joseph Feltz, the archdiocese’s vice-chancellor and vicar for clergy, religious and parish life coordinators.

“It’s quite a blessing for the archdiocese and for him personally,” Father Feltz said. “It shows a lot of great faith that the Holy Father has in him and his talents and gifts. It’s wonderful.”

Ken Ogorek, archdiocesan director of catechesis, agreed.

“I was very happy to hear that someone as gifted as Archbishop Tobin will be an even closer collaborator with our Holy Father,” he said.

Marian University president Daniel Elsener also praised the pope’s selection.

“Since his arrival in Indianapolis, Archbishop Tobin has served this community and the Church admirably,” Elsener said. “I ask that the community join me in praying for Archbishop Tobin as he continues serving the Church and giving witness to Christ.”

‘Join him in this call of Pope Francis’

The pope’s selection also thrilled Bishop Paul D. Etienne, the spiritual leader of the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyo., who was recently chosen by Pope Francis to become the archbishop of Anchorage, Alaska. Archbishop-designate Etienne and Cardinal-designate Tobin talked by phone on the day that Pope Francis announced his new selections for cardinals.

“It’s one more reason why I love Pope Francis,” said Archbishop-designate Etienne, who served as a priest in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis for 17 years. “He is picking pastors that embrace his vision of the Church. I can’t think of anyone that is more fully realizing the vision of Pope Francis in a local Church as Archbishop Tobin is. He is a humble man. He is an incredibly intelligent and wise man. And he’s just got his focus on other people all the time.

“I told him yesterday, ‘Archbishop, every time we get one of these phone calls, it just means that we’re called to greater service and a broader engagement with the broader Church. I know that will be daunting, but I also know that you’re very capable and the Church will be all the better for your ‘Yes.’ “

Archbishop-designate Etienne also understands the pride and the excitement that people in the archdiocese are feeling, but he also encouraged people to consider more deeply what the pope’s selection of Cardinal-designate Tobin means.

“Initially, there’s so much excitement in having your local bishop named a cardinal of the Church. But it’s important, once the excitement begins to settle down, that people look deeper to better understand what the Holy Father is communicating to us. And it’s service. He is choosing bishops that are engaged with all of God’s people, and take their role as servants of Christ and his Church very practically and seriously.

“And that’s the message to the people of the archdiocese—not to just settle for being excited that your archbishop is now a cardinal, but to join him in this call of Pope Francis to go beyond self to serve others, to be that compassion and the nearness of Christ to those who need us most. That’s how we celebrate this announcement as a local Church and a universal Church.” †


See more news about Cardinal-designate Joseph W. Tobin here

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