November 4, 2016

Cardinal-designate Tobin reflects on appointment at Miter Society event

Cardinal-designate Joseph W. Tobin receives offertory gifts from Mary Jo and Andreas Sashegyi, members of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral Parish, during the Miter Society Mass on Oct. 18 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. Deacons Steven Gretencord, left, and Patrick Bower assist Cardinal-designate Tobin. (Photos by Natalie Hoefer)

Cardinal-designate Joseph W. Tobin receives offertory gifts from Mary Jo and Andreas Sashegyi, members of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral Parish, during the Miter Society Mass on Oct. 18 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. Deacons Steven Gretencord, left, and Patrick Bower assist Cardinal-designate Tobin. (Photos by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

When the speaker’s name was announced at the reception following the Miter Society Mass in Indianapolis on Oct. 18, he received a standing ovation.

All in the crowd were familiar with him, and many in the crowd had heard him speak previously.

But this occasion was unique: It was the first time he’d been introduced to them not as archbishop, but as Cardinal-designate Joseph W. Tobin.

Cardinal-designate Tobin first addressed the members of the Miter Society—those who contribute $1,500 or more to the United Catholic Appeal—during a Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral.

“Four years ago today, I was standing right there,” he told the congregation, pointing to the front of the sanctuary where he was first introduced to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis as its new archbishop on Oct. 18, 2012. “I was grateful then, and I’m even more grateful now.”

He noted that the readings for that day, the feast of St. Luke, “ask us to think [about how we] respond when the world seems to be crashing in on us—when there is no justice or apparent solution, or those we love are in pain or, worse yet, abandon us, [or] when sickness overtakes us.”

In the first reading from Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy, the cardinal-designate pointed out that Paul’s frustration with his situation—imprisoned, abandoned by his friends, attacked by his enemies—is evident.

“Yet maybe the first takeaway is that Paul left retribution to the Lord,” he said. “Paul understood that even when his friends lacked the courage to stand with him, God never abandoned him.”

Hindsight is telling, said Cardinal-designate Tobin, noting that “through hindsight, I can easily see God’s presence in guiding me through the challenges in my life. But what makes no sense at all to me … is how easy it is to forget that. …

“It’s all too easy to begin worrying over how on earth will these challenges [we’re faced with] ever work out, forgetting that they always did, that God was there.”

God’s presence is imperative, he said, in light of the message from the Gospel, that “the harvest is plenty, but the laborers are few” (Lk 10:2).

“Since nothing is more important than helping those God has placed in my life to understand the only way to salvation, life, and true peace and joy is through my Savior Jesus Christ, I should know that God would not leave such an important task up to someone like me without his personal guidance.

“And he doesn’t ask you to do anything that he’s not willing to walk with you and promise to be faithful to you in whatever you face as long as your purpose is to bear fruit, fruit that will remain.”

Later, in his talk at the dinner following the Mass, Cardinal-designate Tobin enumerated the fruitful ministries in the archdiocese made possible by all who contribute to the United Catholic Appeal: seminarian and diaconate formation, retirement funds for priests, Catholic school and religious education for youths, young adult and college campus ministry, pro-life and family life programs, and ministry to the poor through Catholic Charities.

But he first recounted the story of how he heard of his appointment as a cardinal—through Twitter on his iPad early on the morning of Oct. 9 while staying at Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad.

“But I’d prefer to talk about what I did two days after,” he said, referring to his celebrating the Mass of Christian Burial for the archdiocese’s oldest priest, Father Hilary Meny, who died on Oct. 7 at the age of 101 after 76 years as a priest.

“I couldn’t help but think, ‘Who’s elevated whom?’ … I want to put a perspective on things. Yeah, Pope Francis has asked me to serve in a different way, but what’s really important is someone like that, someone who’s given his whole life away. ...

“While I appreciate people saying, ‘Congratulations on your promotion,’ it’s not a promotion. It’s an opportunity to walk compassionately with the people of this archdiocese, and wherever else the Holy Father asks me to serve.”

Cardinal-designate Tobin likened his appointment as a call “to widen my stewardship, and I think we’re all stewards in one way or another, because all of us make decisions on how we treat what we have, what we’ve received.

“I think each of us must take what the Lord has given us and do something with it. … If you risk what you have as stewards, you don’t lose it. Making decisions about what you have, in light of your faith, you don’t lose it.”

Donations given in stewardship to the United Catholic Appeal are not lost, he said, because they further the merciful works of the archdiocese that no parish or deanery could accomplish on its own.

In speaking of mercy, Cardinal-designate Tobin noted that on Nov. 20, the day after he and the 16 other bishops are inducted into the College of Cardinals in Rome, they will “concelebrate the Eucharist with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s [Basilica], and that will be the big conclusion of the Holy Year of Mercy. They’ll shut the door that symbolizes this particular and special access to God’s mercy. ...

“But mercy will continue. The Holy Father said, ‘Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life. … The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love.

“Thank you for your generosity [to the United Catholic Appeal], which has helped the Church bring mercy here in central and southern Indiana. … I’m confident that all of you will make as generous a response as you can.

“I’m proud to be your archbishop, and I guess if I have to be a cardinal, I’m proud to be your cardinal.” †

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!