February 8, 2013

Bloomington Deanery parishioners feel connection to new archbishop

Archbishop Joseph Tobin speaks with Gilbert Marsh, a member of St. Agnes Parish in Nashville, after a Jan. 31 Bloomington Deanery Mass at St. John the Apostle Parish in Bloomington. (Photo by Mike Krokos)

Archbishop Joseph Tobin speaks with Gilbert Marsh, a member of St. Agnes Parish in Nashville, after a Jan. 31 Bloomington Deanery Mass at St. John the Apostle Parish in Bloomington. (Photo by Mike Krokos)

By Mike Krokos

BLOOMINGTON—Standing on the kneeler in her pew, Alexa Salazar watched intently as Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin processed into St. John the Apostle Church in Bloomington on Jan. 31.

Seconds later, the 5-year-old girl’s face lit up when he paused, smiled and waved at her.

At the end of Mass, Alexa crouched in the main aisle near the back of the church waiting to snap a photograph of the archdiocese’s new shepherd as he processed out of the church.

Like so many, she felt an immediate connection to Archbishop Tobin.

Alexa attended the Bloomington Deanery welcome Mass with her grandparents, Jose and Leticia Salazar, natives of Mexico, who own a restaurant in Bloomington. (See remaining deanery Masses)

“He’s a holy man. I was thrilled to meet him,” said Jose, a member of St. Paul Catholic Center in Bloomington, after the Mass.

“His Spanish is perfect,” he added after the archbishop took time to converse with him and his wife in their native language.

While Alexa and her family were happy to meet Archbishop Tobin, Msgr. Frederick Easton was pleased to concelebrate Mass with him for the first time.

Msgr. Easton met Archbishop Tobin last May during a canon law conference in Scotland, then visited him in Rome last fall.

“The initial impressions are over-the-top favorable,” said Msgr. Easton, who retired as vicar judicial, the leader of the archdiocese’s Metropolitan Tribunal in 2011 but still serves as adjunct vicar judicial.

“He is so easy to talk to, really a good listener and very pastoral, and I think he leads by example,” added Msgr. Easton, who lives in Bloomington and was one of 11 priests from the deanery who concelebrated the Mass. “We have a lot to learn from him.”

During his homily, Archbishop Tobin spoke about the Christian call to holiness.

He shared a story about Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and Canada’s Jean Varnier, founder of the International Federation of L’Arche Communities for people with developmental disabilities, and how their vocations in life and their call to holiness were to make sure all people are loved.

The archbishop cited Blessed John Paul II who wrote an apostolic letter at the beginning of the new millennium, in which he said that all pastoral initiatives of the Church across the world must be set in relationship to holiness.

“I would say the same for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, that all of our initiatives, whatever we do as Catholics of central and southern Indiana, must be done in relation to holiness,” Archbishop Tobin said.

Dana Wells, a sophomore at Edgewood High School in Ellettsville and a member of St. John the Apostle Parish, was happy to be part of a combined choir that sang during the liturgy.

“It’s huge that we had him [Archbishop Tobin] come here, and we’ve been looking forward to it a lot,” she said.

Dana, who is involved in her parish’s youth group and is also preparing for confirmation, added, “I really like him. … He seems really relatable.”

Julie Routon agreed.

“He’s wonderful. He’s personable, easy to walk up and talk to, and friendly,” said Routon, a member of St. John the Apostle Parish.

Ashley Chandler, who is participating in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults at St. John the Apostle Parish, attended the Mass with her 6-month-old son, Jude.

She said the liturgy, especially Archbishop Tobin’s homily, added to her excitement about joining the Church at the Easter Vigil.

“The more I go to Mass, the more I learn about it [the faith], the more I want to be there,” she said.

Gilbert Marsh, a member of St. Agnes Parish in Nashville, attended the Mass with his wife, Moira. He, too, felt a connection to Archbishop Tobin.

“He’s very human, very warm, very spiritual,” said Gilbert.

Father Michael Fritsch, pastor of St. John the Apostle Parish, was pleased his parish was able to host the deanery Mass, and said those who attended were made to feel welcome by Archbishop Tobin.

“I think he makes people very much at ease, and I think people will find him very approachable,” he said.

At the end of the liturgy, Father Fritsch wore a huge smile as he presented a special gift to Archbishop Tobin—a basketball autographed by Indiana University men’s basketball coach Tom Crean, who is a member of St. Paul Catholic Center in Bloomington.

“I called Coach Crean’s wife [Joani], … and explained it would be great if we could do it, and she said, ‘we’ll make it happen,’ and we were able to do it,” he said. “It’s a nice remembrance of Bloomington.” †


Related: Estimated 1,000 welcome archbishop to New Albany Deanery

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