Monday, December 10, 2012
OUR NEW SHEPHERD: ARCHBISHOP JOSEPH W. TOBIN
W E L C O M E!
For two days last week I was among a select few invited to participate in the pageantry of the Installation of a beloved Redemptorist, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, who is now the Archbishop of Indianapolis. This holy man is cloaked in spirituality – a palpable spirituality that he would surely deny. He exudes a spirit of caring, sincerity, and love, and reaches out to others. My heart soars when Archbishop Tobin speaks of his beloved parents and siblings. His mother and most of his twelve siblings attended both ceremonies. His mother is fragile, but she was here and oh so proud of her oldest son. It was touching to see him give Holy Communion to her and his other family members.
At the end of the two days, I felt as if I had attended a two-day spiritual retreat. A month ago we learned that we had a new archbishop coming to us after 12 years in Rome. Some said it was a demotion for him, but most of us knew - without knowing how we knew - that we were blessed with the appointment of Archbishop Joseph Tobin. We have been praying for over a year that the Lord would send us a good shepherd and He has. Archbishop Tobin immediately flew to Indianapolis for a whirlwind few days to meet his flock. During the few days that Archbishop Tobin was in Indianapolis, he celebrated Mass for the seminarians at Marian University; a Mass a The Little Sisters of the Poor and the elderly residing there; he was everywhere, but quietly. At his press conference he was prayerful and humble, humorous, and he paid homage to his predecessor, Archbishop Buechlein, who retired due to illness. He thanked our Apostolic Administrator Bishop Coyne for guiding us almost immediately after he was named Auxiliary Bishop to assist Archbishop Buechlein.
And then came the ceremonies that began on Sunday, December 2, at a Solemn Evening Prayer for the First Sunday of Advent and Profession of Faith in anticipation of his Installation. At first, the Sunday evening service was to be open to the public, but then it became “by invitation only” due to the large number of religious, family members and friends of Archbishop Tobin. I had looked forward to attending because I knew I would never get an invitation to the Installation Mass – or so I thought. A nun friend invited me and my house guest to that service. The service was joyful, lots of wonderful music along with the blessing of the Archbishop’s miter, his staff and his pectoral cross. I walked out of the Cathedral feeling very blessed. And why not – I had just been in the presence of greatness – our new archbishop.
After the Mass we were invited to the Catholic Center (across the street) for refreshments. What a spread that was! The company sponsoring the reception spared no expense. They apparently served everything they would serve for their own receptions, including hot hors oeuvres, miniature sandwiches, fruits, veggies, many desserts, and an outstanding bar. I chuckled and thought: only Catholics!
Two weeks before the Installation I learned that each of our 147 parishes was given two tickets to give away. I immediately told my parish priest that I would like an invitation to the Installation and he said he would look into it. That sounded like “no way.” It was not going to happen. I steamed and stewed! And I wanted one or two if possible. And then came the day that my pastor said I had a ticket! I almost shouted with joy! I then told my house guest that she could have it. She adamantly refused and insisted that I go. However, she is blessed with the gift of gab, and managed to wheedle her own invitation to the Installation Mass.
The pageantry continued on Monday, December 2 at the SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral. The Archdiocesan Choir, composed of singers from various choirs in the archdiocese, entertained as we waited for Mass to begin. The voices were angelic and the musical instruments from flutes to trumpets to kettledrums demanded to be heard and appreciated, and they were. The procession began. Altar servers were followed by the Knights and Ladies of St. Peter Claver; the Knights and Ladies of Malta, the Knights of Columbus, Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulcher, and an Irish group of women from the Orange Order. Our hundreds of priests and seminarians processed in along with Indiana’s bishops, the few visiting bishops, the Papal Nuncio and finally our Archbishop Tobin. He must have been nearly blinded by the flashes going off as he was welcomed into the Hoosier state. This saintly and holy man opened his Installation homily with a joke about his girth, and he saluted the largest Catholic group in Indiana – the Notre Dame football fans. He spoke lovingly about the Church reaching out to the “marginalized the forgotten, and those hurt by the Church.” I have waited for years to hear such words from a bishop. I was in love!
Some say Archbishop Tobin was removed from the Vatican because he was sympathetic to the U.S. nuns in the cross hairs of some at the Vatican. His group was responsible for the nuns and their supposed “disobedience.” I doubt that this holy man would ever have approved the insults and accusations hurled at the very nuns who taught many of us about our faith. I was not a Catholic when I attended a Catholic school, but I never forgot it. During a very rough period in my young life – which lasted for 9 years – it was the Catholic prayers I was taught, and my mother’s promise that when I reached age 16, I could be baptized in the Catholic faith, that kept me sane. Despite the nightmarish and terrifying events thrust upon me, I knew that our Lord and His Mother were with me. They have never failed me.
How I wish that each of my priests in prison had had a bishop such as Archbishop Tobin. I can’t wait to tell him all about our priests in prison and what I try to do for them and what they do for me. I am so blessed to have them in my life. I will always feel that way despite their protestations that they do nothing for me while I do so much for them. It is a blessing to me to serve these fallen angels who made mistakes in their lives. Our Lord will judge them and He will judge me.
And so I rejoice in he who we have awaited – Archbishop Tobin. He is humble and comes ready to serve. He has a forever home - here in Indianapolis. We welcome our Shepherd, and I wish him our Lord's peace and blessings.