Connected in the Spirit planning process tops local news stories

(Note: The appointment of Auxiliary Bishop Christopher J. Coyne as the new Bishop of Burlington, VT, was announced by Pope Francis after publication of this news story, so is not included below. Learn more about the appointment here)

By Brandon A. Evans

Front page compilations from 2014Changes that parishes in the four Indianapolis deaneries saw as a result of the Connected in the Spirit planning process was voted the top local news story of 2014—followed closely by the appointment of auxiliary Bishop Christopher J. Coyne to lead the Catholics of southern Indiana, and the ordination of four men to the priesthood.

Other stories of note included coverage of the record $6.1 million raised for Catholic schools, the U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold religious liberty for closely held businesses—including one in Madison—and Indiana’s bishops supporting a proposed state amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

Following the tradition of other news agencies, The Criterion editorial staff votes each year for the top 10 local stories that were published in our newspaper.

Many of the top 10 stories selected this year were covered in multiple articles. Read this article online to browse the links to all the original coverage.

Among the hundreds of locally produced news stories during 2014, here is our “Top 10” list:

1. The work of Connected in the Spirit continues with changes to parishes in the Indianapolis deaneries.

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin speaks during a May 21 press conference held at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis in which he announced decisions regarding the Connected in the Spirit planning process for the four metropolitan Indianapolis deaneries. Archdiocesan chancellor Annette “Mickey” Lentz, right, looks on during the press conference. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin spoke before hundreds of clergy and lay Catholics at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on May 21 to announce the latest decisions made as part of the Connected in the Spirit planning process.

The changes, which affected Indianapolis parishes, included the closing of three parishes: Holy Cross, Holy Trinity and St. Bernadette, all of which were merged with nearby parishes as of Nov. 30.

Additionally, other parishes were linked in such a way that they will begin—or continue—to share a priest, other staff members and create joint programs, ministries and committees; still others would create partnerships to collaborate with nearby parishes.

Archbishop Tobin said that the goal of the ongoing process is to help parishes “discern where God is leading the Church in central and southern Indiana, and to discuss how the Archdiocese of Indianapolis should change its structures in order to carry out its mission today and in the future.”

The decisions followed on the heels of a busy 2013, which saw changes that affected 26 of the 27 parishes in the Batesville Deanery, along with three other nearby parishes.

Additionally, several appeals to the Vatican to re-open parishes in the Batesville and Terre Haute deaneries were denied.

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2. Bishop Christopher J. Coyne takes on a new leadership role in southern Indiana.

Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, then-apostolic administrator, blesses members of the congregation at the conclusion of the March 25, 2012, Mass of Dedication at the new St. Mary-of-the-Knobs Church in Floyd County. Bishop Coyne will assume pastoral responsibility for the New Albany, Seymour and Tell City deaneries in the southern part of the archdiocese on Oct. 1. (Criterion file photo)Starting in October, auxiliary Bishop Christopher J. Coyne—who up to that point was serving as vicar general in Indianapolis in assistance to Archbishop Tobin—assumed pastoral responsibility for the Catholics in the New Albany, Seymour and Tell City deaneries in southern Indiana.

Bishop Coyne also now serves as administrator of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Augustine parishes, both in Jeffersonville.

“We are fortunate to have two bishops to serve the Catholic communities of central and southern Indiana, and I would like to make the best use of our episcopal ministry,” Archbishop Tobin said in a letter that was read in parishes in September. “It is my hope that this new appointment will contribute to advancing the mission of the Church and take advantage of Bishop Coyne’s many gifts.”

Bishop Coyne was originally appointed to Indianapolis in 2011. Initially, he dedicated much of his time to leading the archdiocese after Archbishop Emeritus Daniel M. Buechlein suffered a stroke and was eventually granted an early retirement in the fall of the same year.

The dramatic change in current leadership also meant that Msgr. William F. Stumpf was appointed moderator of the curia and an additional vicar general.

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3. Four men are ordained to the priesthood for the archdiocese.

Newly ordained Fathers Daniel Bedel, left, Benjamin Syberg, Timothy Wyciskalla and David Marcotte join Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin and several priests behind them in praying part of the eucharistic prayer during a June 7 ordination Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. Earlier during the liturgy, Archbishop Tobin ordained the four men to the priesthood. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)Nearly 1,000 people—including more than 80 priests—filled SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral on June 7 to witness the priestly ordination of four men: Daniel Bedel, David Marcotte, Benjamin Syberg and Timothy Wyciskalla.

All four are graduates of Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis, and received further priestly formation at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad.

Archbishop Tobin asked all those present to pray for the new priests, that they can serve Christ’s truth and love with zeal.

Speaking directly to the four men, he said, “My brothers, you will be able to speak to the hearts of your people if you know their joys and their sorrows, their anxiety and their hope. You must never let the burden of administration or the pursuit of your own interests deafen you to the cry of our brothers and sisters who, like you, search for God and hunger for God’s word.”

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4. A record $6.1 million is raised to send children to Catholic schools.

With his mischievous sense of humor and his deep heart for Catholic education, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, captivated the audience at the archdiocese’s 19th annual Celebrating Catholic School Values event in Indianapolis on Nov. 5. (Photo by Rob Banayote)It was announced at this year’s Celebrating Catholic Schools Values Award event on Nov. 5 that a record $6.1 million had been raised this year to help children in the archdiocese receive a Catholic education.

The amount is more than twice the previous record: $3 million raised in 2013.

“I hope you gasped as I did when I heard that figure,” Archbishop Tobin said at the event. “It’s an incredible sign of life in our archdiocese. A lot of you heard me thank God that last April at the Easter Vigil across the archdiocese, 1,000 people were received into the Church through baptism or through the profession of faith. This figure of $6.1 million is another sign of our faith. It’s a sign of the generous gifts of people within the Church and without, because they believe in what we are trying to do with Catholic education.”

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5. High court upholds religious liberty for closely held businesses.

Bill Grote, left, chats on May 13, 2013, with Debbie Randall in a Grote Industries factory in Madison. Grote is chairman of the board of the family-owned business. (File photo by Sean Gallagher)On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court—in a 5-4 decision—ruled in Burrell v. Hobby Lobby that closely held companies cannot be forced to comply with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s (HHS) mandate that requires nearly all employers to provide abortion-inducing drugs, elective sterilizations and contraceptives to their employees free of charge if the individual or families that own these businesses have religious objections to the mandate.

“Bill Grote is a member of a family that owns such a business,” reported Sean Gallagher. “Since 1901, the Grote family has owned the Madison-based Grote Industries, a global manufacturer of commercial vehicle lighting products.”

Grote said that when he learned of the ruling “I jumped up out of my chair. My wife Terry was in the room. I gave her a hug and a big smile. It’s a wonderful day.”

Grote and his son Dominic, the family-owned company’s president and chief executive officer, are members of Prince of Peace Parish in Madison and had previously argued their case with success before the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

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6. Indiana’s bishops voice their support for a proposed state amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Eight Indiana bishops gather in May 2014 in Lafayette for a provincial meeting and a meeting with the executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference. They are, from front left: Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette; Bishop Charles C. Thompson of Evansville; Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend; Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR, of Indianapolis and Bishop Dale J. Melczek, of Gary. Behind them, from left to right, are Bishop Emeritus William L. Higi, of Lafayette; Bishop Emeritus Gerald A. Gettelfinger, of Evansville and Bishop Christopher Coyne, auxiliary bishop of Indianapolis. As they are retired, Bishops Gettelfinger and Higi were not signatories of this statement. Glenn Tebbe, executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC), spoke on behalf of the Indiana’s six Catholic bishops on Jan. 13 during an Indiana House Judiciary Committee meeting to express their support of House Joint Resolution 3 (HJR3).

The proposed state constitutional amendment defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman, and stated that other legal unions “identical or substantially similar to that of marriage” would not be recognized by the state.

In addition to supporting the proposed amendment, the state’s bishops also stressed the Church’s teaching on the dignity of every human person, including those persons with same-sex attraction.

A revised amendment was passed by the Senate, but because the language was changed from a resolution passed in 2011 it did not go to statewide voters this year.

A district court later in the year ruled, in the words of the bishops, “to redefine the institution of marriage as an emotional partnership between two consenting adults regardless of gender,” which effectively legalized same-sex marriage in the state of Indiana.

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7. Archbishop Emeritus Buechlein marks 50 years of priestly life.

Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein kneels in prayer during a June 7, 2007, priesthood ordination Mass in SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. (File photo by Sean Gallagher)Retired Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, currently in residence at Saint Meinrad Archabbey, celebrated the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination on May 3.

The archbishop, who led the archdiocese for 19 years, was ordained a priest as a Benedictine monk of the monastery by Archbishop Paul C. Schulte in 1964, and ever since has seen prayer as his primary focus.

“That was the case no matter what other aspects of his ministry came to the fore—priestly formation, pastoral leadership, catechesis or Catholic education,” wrote reporter Sean Gallagher.

“Every challenge was its own grace,” Archbishop Buechlein said. “Even [my] stroke had a way of waking me up to what’s really meaningful in life. Cancer was the same way. That’s the way I took it into prayer.”

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8. Daughters of Charity say goodbye after 133 years of ministry in the archdiocese.

Daughters of Charity sisters of the St. Louise Province in St. Louis, Mo., to which the sisters in Indiana belong, listen to Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin’s homily at the farewell Mass in SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on April 28. The Daughters of Charity, which have operated the St. Vincent Health network of hospitals in Indiana for 133 years, are leaving the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and the Diocese of Lafayette. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)“In 1881, four Daughters of Charity arrived in Indianapolis to establish a ‘house for the sick’ in an unused seminary downtown. So began what is now known as St. Vincent Hospital,” wrote reporter Natalie Hoefer.

“As in 1881, there are now four Daughters of Charity in Indianapolis. They will leave in June, thus ending 133 years of service of the order in the archdiocese.

“During those 133 years, more than 300 Daughters of Charity have ministered, leaving behind the legacy of St. Vincent Health, a system of 21 hospitals statewide.”

The announcement that the sisters would leave the archdiocese—and the Lafayette Diocese as well—came in October of 2013, and was finalized with a Mass of Thanksgiving at the SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on April 28.

“Today, sisters, we thank God for you,” said Archbishop Tobin in his homily. He commented on “the impressive legacy that [the Sisters] leave behind, which certainly is a tribute to [Daughters of Charity co-founders] St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac—a health system that will continue to provide care for the underprivileged, the poor and the marginalized.”

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9. A year of pro-life news culminates with the opening of a Women’s Care Center next to Planned Parenthood.

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin listens as Sarah Bardol, director of the new Women’s Care Center in Indianapolis, reads in the chapel during a service to bless the facility on Nov. 19. Father Patrick Beidelman, executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Spiritual Life and Worship, holds a book for Bardol. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)The new Women’s Care Center on the north side of Indianapolis was blessed by Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin on Nov. 19, opening its doors next to the state’s largest Planned Parenthood abortion facility.

“Founded in South Bend, Ind., in 1984, Women’s Care Center is a 100 percent donor-funded organization that builds facilities near abortion centers,” reporter Natalie Hoefer wrote. “At its 23 facilities spread among seven states, they offer free counseling and ultrasounds to women considering abortion, and support women during and after pregnancy.”

The opening came in the same year that Affiliated Women’s Services, one of Indianapolis’ four abortion centers, closed its doors, and also when a former Planned Parenthood nurse walked away from her line of work and now is a staunch pro-life advocate.

Pro-life legislation—including a requirement for abortion centers to have a physician on backup at a local hospital in case of complication—was also passed in the state.

The archdiocese also combined its pro-life and family life offices to better integrate the two ministries.

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10. Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary celebrates 10 years of priestly formation.

Father Martin Rodriguez, associate pastor of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, chats with Bishop Paul D. Etienne of Cheyenne, Wyo., on Sept. 8 on the grounds of Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the seminary’s founding. Father Rodriguez is a graduate of the seminary. Bishop Etienne served as a vice rector of the seminary while a priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)Ten years ago this fall, Archbishop Emeritus Buechlein opened the Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary with six seminarians, all who lived on the campus of Marian University in Indianapolis.

A decade later on Sept. 8, “approximately 230 people gathered on the grounds of a former Carmelite monastery that the seminary has called its home since 2008 to celebrate the many ways in which the seminary has grown over its first decade,” wrote reporter Sean Gallagher. “That growth was on display in the presence of the 42 seminarians from eight dioceses and archdioceses currently enrolled at the seminary.”

Archbishop Buechlein was unable to attend the event, but recorded a message, saying, “To you seminarians, students at [Bishop] Bruté, congratulations on this anniversary. My thanks to you, for you have indeed become a house of joy, a happy community, a community fueled by joy and the happiness that comes from living a true human life made so by being grounded in faith, charity and hope.”

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