December 2, 2016

My Journey to God: Poems about Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin

A call was sent out to all poets who have been published in The Criterion in the last four years—the length of time Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin served as the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis—to write a poem in honor of his elevation to cardinal and his reassignment to the Archdiocese of Newark. Below are the pieces submitted in a special My Journey to God tribute to Cardinal Tobin.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin

By Sandra Bierly

Pope Benedict XVI sent Archbishop Tobin to us from Rome,
Perhaps it was because he would be closer to home.
Archbishop Tobin brought his gifts of love to share,
With his leadership he showed us that he truly cares.
Archbishop Tobin immediately called Indianapolis his home!

He pastored his sheep with love and truth.
While keeping busy with the things that archbishops do.
Ordaining young men and confirming the youth,
He also blessed holy oils at the Chrism Mass for priests to use.
He showed us that each one of us is special in our own way.

Now Pope Francis has elevated Archbishop Tobin
To the College of Cardinals which came as a surprise,
As did our need soon after to bid him our goodbyes.
Congratulations Cardinal Joseph Tobin.
The people of the Archdiocese love you!

(Sandra Bierly is a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in New Albany.)

Late Afternoon March Light

By Norbert Krapf

The late afternoon March light
brightens as we three hold hands
in his office and say prayers we

create in gratitude for being brought
together in the right time and place
to share our stories and histories.

His eyes brightened when he offered
to send my book of poems about
surviving abuse by a priest through

official channels to Pope Francis.
My eyes became moist and full.
When unexpected light comes

into our lives, all seems clear.
Fear and anxieties fade away.
Grace comes in such quiet,

eloquent and mysterious ways
that even fingertips transmit
healing epiphanies of blessing.

(Norbert Krapf is a member of St. Mary Parish in Indianapolis. His poem honors a private meeting he and his wife had with then-Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin.)

For a Loving Shepherd

By Linda Abner

You have chosen him for higher things, O Lord.
But what is higher than serving You
In the day-to-day encounters with You in Your children?
You Yourself walked among the people of Your day—
Street people, hungry people, criminals, outcasts;
The powerless and simple
And those who knew they did not know.

If You had chosen to live among
The rich, content and powerful,
Would anything have changed?

Yet Your Church needs leaders.
You showed that the true leader
Is one who serves;
That to be great, one must humble himself.

He is humble, Lord;
He is willing to follow, hard though it may be.
Keep this one You have chosen
Close to Your Heart,
Even as he remains in ours.
Let his eyes not stray to the left, or to the right,
But stay fixed steadfastly on You:
His model and hope,
Help and Light
Comfort and strength
For this service to which he is called.

(Linda Abner is a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Indianapolis.)

My Prayers Will Follow

By Gayle Schrank

As I pray and give thanks
for people sent from our Lord,
Cardinal Tobin, you come to mind.
You shepherd with one accord.
Your gentleness shows strength.
Your attention is sincere.
God’s goodness is reflected
when His chosen one is near.
Cardinal Tobin, you enkindle
God’s mighty power of love.
As you leave my prayers will follow.
Be guarded and protected from above.

(Gayle Schrank is pastoral associate of St. Mary Parish in Navilleton.)

A New Cardinal

By Catherine Szakel

A new Cardinal has been selected,
And he surely earned the spot.
He’s done so much for us
And we love him quite a lot.

Archbishop Tobin is the man
Who makes us very proud.
He’s done his work here, that is sure
And we’ll tell it good and loud.

We will miss him when he leaves us,
But what we say is true.
To find another man like him
We’ll have to stir the brew.

We wish him all good fortune
And blessings from above.
And hope he takes with him
All our enduring love.

(Catherine Szakel is a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield.)

He was Chosen by God

By Thomas J. Rillo

Somewhere between childhood and adulthood
a young boy hears God’s voice
There is no immediate recognition
and for him there is no choice
God has chosen the boy to be a servant in His court
Establishing certain stages of spirituality

A first stage of spirituality in familial prayer and worship
Grace before all meals and the rosary before bed
God quietly exerts His guiding hand and the boy is duly led
Attendance at daily and Sunday Masses in family union
Serving as an acolyte and assisting with Communion
Going through the stages of God’s plan for him

He was chosen by God to be a universal shepherd
He listened to God’s voice and attentively he heard
Preparatory education began his priestly journey
Putting his trust in God and submitting without worry
Ordination came as years of preparation and study culminated
Pastoral service assigned and carefully mandated

He rose in various assignments in the hierarchy of the Church
Each assignment brought him recognition justly deserved
Devotion and service to God and Church fully recognized
Consummate shepherd to the Church and believers as the prize
Elevation to Cardinal came to those who knew him as no surprise
His journey in Holy Orders not finished but just begun.

(Thomas J. Rillo is a member of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bloomington and a Benedictine oblate of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad.)

Archbishop Joseph Tobin, Cardinal

By Benedictine Sister Kathleen Yeadon

You appeared in Indy with your gregarious self
embracing Hoosier hospitality
and modeling mission and zeal
for the poor, the hurting and those needing roots.

Your witness was let’s do this Gospel life
no matter the cost.
Your energy matched that of Pope Francis
so here in Indy we had an extension of Rome
and an extension of Christ.

Your love for our monastery
and all women religious
will never be forgotten.
Your sermons always had a connection to a woman
who helped you in your own formation.
Thank you for including the gift of women
in the Church.

Thank you for how you encouraged our monastic leadership
with your listening heart
and supportive ways.

May the Joy of the Gospel
continue to strengthen you
through the future days.
May the Light of Faith
be a source of comfort.

and may Laudato Si’ and Joy of Love
give you wisdom for healing life’s hurts
and bringing hope to others.

(Benedictine Sister Kathleen Yeadon is a member of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove.)

The Hoosier Cardinal

By Natalie Hoefer

How awe-inspiring is the state bird of Indiana,
The Cardinal,
With his bold red feathers
Reminiscent of the blood Christ shed.

What heart is not drawn to
His simplicity,
So humble despite his status,
So down to earth yet soaring so high?

What ear does not find comfort in
His voice,
So strong and recognizable,
So consistent in its encouraging song?

What person is not comforted by
His presence,
Through vibrant spring and joyful summer,
Through changing fall and biting winter?

Other states may have cardinals, but
The Cardinal
Is especially loved by us Hoosiers,
And will always have a home in our hearts.

(Natalie Hoefer is a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis and is a reporter for The Criterion.)

A Blessing for the Occasion of the Induction of Cardinal Tobin into the College of Cardinals

By Patrick Harkins

That time of year when Thanksgiving helps us
Believe the goodness of God is not far
Blessings seem to tumble, spectacular,
To the point of being miraculous.

What might a new shepherd do when the flock
Is surprised that one so close to them would lead
Them? First, to listen. What do people need?
What does God say when outcast people knock

Expecting heaven’s door to open? Two,
Use the gift of languages to speak as
If Pentecost’s fire could still amaze.
Third, smile as if each day were something new.

Even more than this, do not forget the place
That gave you birth, your father and mother,
The Redemptorists who love the poor
In the core of their hearts. Accept with good grace

And generosity what roles to you will come in.
Archbishop and Cardinal! Still shepherd
At heart, our guide and teacher of the Word.
God bless you, Joseph Cardinal Tobin.

(Patrick Harkins is a member of St. Joseph University Parish in Terre Haute.)

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