June 16, 2017

‘We will build on the incredible foundation’

Archbishop-designate Charles C. Thompson of Evansville will be installed on July 28

Archbishop-designate Charles C. Thompson speaks during a press conference on June 13 at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis. Earlier in the day Pope Francis had named the Evansville bishop as the seventh archbishop of Indianapolis, succeeding Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, who was appointed to lead the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., last November. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Archbishop-designate Charles C. Thompson speaks during a press conference on June 13 at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis. Earlier in the day Pope Francis had named the Evansville bishop as the seventh archbishop of Indianapolis, succeeding Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, who was appointed to lead the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., last November. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Charles C. Thompson of Evansville as the seventh archbishop of Indianapolis. The appointment was announced on June 13 at the Vatican and in Washington.

That same day, Archbishop-designate Thompson spoke to priests, deacons, religious and laity from across central and southern Indiana about his appointment during a press conference at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis on the eve of the start of the spring general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Indianapolis.

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“I pledge to dedicate myself to you without hesitation or reservation,” said Archbishop-designate Thompson, 56. “Together, we will build on the incredible foundation that already exists, striving to discern the signs of the times and make every effort to participate in framing the essential questions of faith and life, in order to promote a shared vision rooted in word, sacrament and service that enables us to respond rather than react to opportunities and challenges.”

He will be installed as archbishop of Indianapolis on July 28 during a Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

Prior to that, he will ordain 21 men as permanent deacons for the archdiocese on June 24 at the cathedral. (See related story)

The next day, he will travel to Rome to participate on June 29—the Solemnity of SS. Peter and Paul—in Pope Francis’ blessing of palliums for metropolitan archbishops appointed during the past year.

Archbishop-designate Thompson’s pallium, a woolen band worn over the shoulders that symbolizes an archbishop’s pastoral care for the people of his archdiocese and his sharing with the pope of the shepherding of the universal Church, will be placed on him during his July 28 installation Mass.

Archbishop-designate Thompson’s remarks during the press conference were at times marked by self-deprecating humor.

When asked how he would describe himself, the prelate, who stands at about 5’7”, answered, “Short”—drawing a round of laughter.

He followed this up, however, by expressing his love of his faith nurtured in his native Kentucky and his family, which includes 90 first cousins and more than 200 second cousins.

In describing the phone call he received on June 3 from Archbishop Christoph Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, in which he learned of his appointment, Archbishop-designate Thompson said, “I kept saying, ‘Wow. OK. Wow. Wow.’ He just started giggling. He was very patient with my nervousness.”

Earlier that day, Archbishop-designate Thompson had ordained two men priests for the Evansville Diocese.

“My homily that day was on missionary discipleship,” he recalled. “I talked to them about how the Lord sends, and we have to be prepared to go where the Lord sends us and not to become complacent.

“I got off the phone and I thought, ‘Who was I preaching to this morning?’ ”

The modest way he described his homily and his later reaction to it provoked much laughter among his listeners.

Archbishop-designate Thompson expressed a humble modesty in a different way in soberly reflecting on changing from leading the Evansville Diocese to the archdiocese.

“Going from 12 counties to 39,” he said. “Going from half a million people to over 2 million people. Going from about 80,000 Catholics to about 225,000 Catholics. I prayed the rosary at that point.”

His humility was also seen in his recognition of the necessity to collaborate with others in leading the Church in central and southern Indiana.

“Anywhere I go, what always sustains me is obviously prayer,” Archbishop-designate Thompson said. “I rely on the people around me for great counsel and advice, working together, collaborating. I don’t do this by myself. We do this together. Ultimately, it’s Christ’s Church, not mine.”

Two people with whom Archbishop-designate Thompson will work closely in the archdiocese are chancellor Annette “Mickey” Lentz and

Msgr. William F. Stumpf, who will continue to serve as archdiocesan administrator until the July 28 installation Mass.

“I was so thrilled when I knew that he was going to be our new archbishop,” Msgr. Stumpf said. “He brings so many wonderful qualities. He’s an extremely humble man, very personable. He’s a very prayerful man, which is absolutely essential in that type of job. He brings a wide variety of pastoral experiences. I know we’re in good hands.”

During the press conference, Archbishop-designate Thompson said that Msgr. Stumpf will serve as his vicar general, a position he held under Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, archbishop of Indianapolis from 2012-16.

Lentz appreciated Archbishop-designate Thompson’s continuity with previous leaders of the archdiocese going back to Archbishop-Emeritus Daniel M. Buechlein, who was president-rector of Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad when the new archbishop received his priestly formation there for the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky.

“I’m hopeful,” Lentz said. “For me, it’s a continuation of what we had through Archbishop Emeritus Daniel and Cardinal Tobin. It’s an exciting time. He’s a good man.”

Although many spoke his praise after the press conference, Archbishop-designate Thompson placed the focus on Christ during the press conference when reflecting on his episcopal motto, “Christ the Cornerstone.”

“I try to keep before myself that we have to be Christ-centered,” he said, “not self-centered, ideology-centered, not to be driven by my agenda, but to be driven by God’s will, the mission of Jesus Christ and the grace of the Holy Spirit.” †


About Archbishop-designate Charles C. Thompson

Archbishop-designate Charles C. ThompsonBorn: April 11, 1961, in Louisville, Ky.

Parents: Coleman and Joyce Thompson.

Education: Graduated from Moore High School in Louisville in 1979; earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting at Bellarmine University in Louisville in 1983; earned a master of divinity at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad in 1987; earned a licentiate in canon law at St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada in 1992.

Ordination: Ordained a deacon at St. Bernard Church in Louisville on Oct. 25, 1986; ordained a priest at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Louisville on May 30, 1987; ordained as bishop of Evansville, Ind., on June 29, 2011, in Evansville.

Ministries: Served in the Louisville Archdiocese as associate pastor, administrator and pastor of several parishes, as chaplain of three high schools, as vicar judicial and later as vicar general; taught canon law at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology.

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