June 7, 2013

Archbishop thanks Miter Society members for their support

Father Juan Jose Valdes, left, administrator of St. Mary Parish in Lanesville, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, and Deacon Rick Cooper of St. Mary Parish in Lanesville pose for a photo after the Miter Society Mass on May 22 at St. Mary Church in Lanesville. (Photo by Leslie Lynch)

Father Juan Jose Valdes, left, administrator of St. Mary Parish in Lanesville, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, and Deacon Rick Cooper of St. Mary Parish in Lanesville pose for a photo after the Miter Society Mass on May 22 at St. Mary Church in Lanesville. (Photo by Leslie Lynch)

By Leslie Lynch (Special to The Criterion)

LANESVILLE—While Miter Society members in southern Indiana braved a spring rainstorm to attend Mass and a reception at St. Mary Parish in Lanesville on May 22, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin poured out his appreciation for their generosity and the commitment of Catholics across the archdiocese.

The event was part of the archbishop’s follow up to the “United Catholic Appeal: Christ Our Hope” annual appeal offered in thanksgiving to Catholics across central and southern Indiana who contribute $1,500 or more to support Catholic Charities, Catholic education and faith formation, vocations and care for retired priests.

Several priests concelebrated the liturgy with the archbishop.

In his homily, Archbishop Tobin spoke about learning to see what God wants us to see. The sin of the rich that Jesus decries, he said, is not cruelty to the poor. Rather, it is the failure to see the poor around us.

Our sacrificial giving through the United Catholic Appeal, then, “is not so much a good deed as being willing to let God sharpen your eyesight,” the archbishop noted.

Like the disciples who misunderstood Jesus repeatedly in St. Mark’s Gospel, our life with God is never a finished business, Archbishop Tobin said. He encouraged frequent reception of the sacraments because they are the way God increases our faith and trains us to see with his eyes.

During his remarks at the reception, Archbishop Tobin spoke of his deepening understanding of St. Paul’s practice of opening and closing his letters with expressions of gratitude for the faithful.

Having traveled more than 50,000 miles since his installation as shepherd of the archdiocese on Dec. 3, 2012, Archbishop Tobin finds his own faith bolstered by meeting parishioners from all corners of the archdiocese.

He mentioned the loving response of people who gathered around the orphaned children of two families in Greensburg to the aid that Henryville residents—victims of tornadoes in 2012—have already sent to victims of recent tornadoes in Oklahoma.

Archbishop Tobin also shared how he has been touched by high school graduates speaking naturally and openly about their faith and the values they will take with them into life.

He praised how Catholic Charities in the Tell City Deanery provided home repairs and improvements for people in need.

All these examples demonstrate a vibrant and active commitment to the mission of the Church, Archbishop Tobin said.

The archdiocese also faces challenges, he noted.

Through “Connected in the Spirit,” representatives from parishes are meeting or will meet to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each parish, and determine how to most effectively carry out the Church’s mission in a changing world. Archbishop Tobin will make decisions regarding mergers and closures based on recommendations that come “from the bottom up,” he said.

He also talked about how the five bishops in Indiana met in April at the University of Notre Dame in northern Indiana to discuss how to better coordinate responses to poverty throughout the state. He said he plans to write a pastoral letter to address the question.

The archbishop also plans to pen a letter to encourage participation among Catholics in the archdiocese during the Fortnight for Freedom, a period of prayer and action focused from June 21 to July 4. This effort, which is a follow up of the first Fortnight for Freedom last year, is in response to the many current challenges to religious liberty in this country.

Adult faith formation—whether at seminaries, universities or in parishes—is also a high priority for the archdiocese, he said.

Archbishop Tobin stressed the importance of providing quality education and making it accessible and relevant for today’s busy families. One response is the use of San Damiano Scholars, a program of solid theological and pastoral formation at Marian University in Indianapolis, which is preparing catechists to step into parishes and other ministries.

The archbishop’s words of encouragement and commitment struck a chord with Barbara Amy, a member of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Jeffersonville, who attended the Mass and reception.

“Archbishop Tobin is really down to earth. He’s saying the right things,” Amy said. “Everybody just has so much work to do.”

Archbishop Tobin shared his straightforward definition of the best way to approach that work: “What I do, with what I have, when I believe in God.”

For disciples of Jesus, time, talent and treasure are gifts that bear conditions lovingly imposed by faith, the archbishop noted. As people more clearly see through the eyes of God, they direct those gifts more freely to the service of those in need, he added.

The archbishop applauded the members of the Miter Society for their commitment and generosity.

“I am proud to be your archbishop, and grateful that you are partners with us in the mission of Christ in this archdiocese.”

(For more information on the “United Catholic Appeal: Christ Our Hope” and the Miter Society, or to contribute to the appeal, log on to www.archindy.org/uca. For questions, contact Jolinda Moore, director of stewardship and development, at 317-236-1462 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1462.)

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