December 7, 2012

Mass participants embrace archbishop and excitement for new era

Representing Hispanic Catholics in central and southern Indiana, Franciscan Brother Moises Gutierrez, archdiocesan coordinator of Hispanic ministry, and Angela Valdez, a member of St. Patrick Parish in Indianapolis, greet Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin during the Dec. 3 installation Mass in which he was installed as the sixth archbishop of Indianapolis. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Representing Hispanic Catholics in central and southern Indiana, Franciscan Brother Moises Gutierrez, archdiocesan coordinator of Hispanic ministry, and Angela Valdez, a member of St. Patrick Parish in Indianapolis, greet Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin during the Dec. 3 installation Mass in which he was installed as the sixth archbishop of Indianapolis. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By John Shaughnessy and Mike Krokos

Annie Fleming and Olivia Kirsch couldn’t have been more nervous as the two teenagers stood in line with religious and civic leaders to welcome Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin during his Mass of Installation on Dec. 3.

A week earlier, Annie and Olivia had each received phone calls telling them that they had been chosen to represent the youth of the archdiocese during the historic Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

(Click here to see more stories, photos and videos from the installation Mass)

Yet, a week’s worth of nervousness quickly turned to amazement when the new archbishop smiled and talked with them.

“Being asked to come to the installment of the archbishop was nothing I ever dreamed of,” said Annie, 17, a member of St. Simon the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis and the Archdiocesan Youth Council. “And then to not only come, but to welcome the archbishop personally. He said he’s excited about the youth here. That’s fantastic. We’ll benefit from that.”

Olivia described her opportunity to meet Archbishop Tobin as “a humbling experience.”

“It left a large impact on me,” said Olivia, 16, a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis and the Archdiocesan Youth Council. “Being part of it demonstrates the involvement of the youth in the Catholic faith in Indianapolis. It will also hopefully strengthen the involvement and the commitment of the youth in the archdiocese.”

The experiences of the two teenagers were just part of the overwhelmingly positive reactions that people had about Archbishop Tobin and the Mass of Installation.

An old neighbor’s road trip

At 81, Chuck Ballard wasn’t going to miss the installation of his former neighbor, Archbishop Tobin. So he and his wife of 57 years, Ann, made the trip from their home near Detroit.

“I grew up with them, the whole family,” Ballard said. “His dad was the nicest man I ever met in my life. His mother is the nicest woman. They are just beautiful people. Why do you think he is where he is today? You gotta have family.”

Ballard remembers Archbishop Tobin’s years as pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish in Detroit.

“I remember how good he was with the parish. The parish was kind of going down, and he brought it up. He’s a good man. You guys are lucky. You don’t know how lucky you are to get a guy like this.”

A native son returns

The new archbishop’s installation provided a homecoming opportunity for Bishop Paul D. Etienne of the Cheyenne Diocese in Wyoming.

Bishop Etienne grew up in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and served as a priest here for 17 years, including time as pastor of St. Paul Parish in Tell City, his home parish.

“It was very important [for me to be here today],” Bishop Etienne said. “I really was hoping that my calendar would allow this visit, and I’m glad it did. It was a great celebration.

“I had a chance to visit with the archbishop, and had a chance to assure him of my prayers for him and the people of the archdiocese, and to offer any assistance that I can give as a former son of the diocese. I think you’re all in very good hands.”

‘We are all together in this’

Franciscan Brother Moises Gutierrez couldn’t stop smiling after the installation Mass.

“I loved it!” said a beaming Brother Moises, coordinator of Hispanic ministry for the archdiocese. “All the different communities in the archdiocese were represented. And the blessing at the end was in Spanish. And some of the songs were bilingual. I loved it!

“It was beautiful to welcome him to the archdiocese. You can see the excitement in all the people. I’m excited to have a bishop who speaks so many languages [Spanish, English, Portuguese, French and Italian]. I’m looking forward to his guidance and his global vision of the Church. We are all one together in this as Catholics, as Christians.”

Respect for the Church

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard appreciated the ecumenical spirit that was part of the Mass of Installation. He participated in the Mass at the front of the cathedral, sitting near representatives of Muslim, Jewish and other Christian faith traditions in the city who also welcomed Archbishop Tobin.

“I love the crowd that is here,” Ballard said after the Mass. “I think that [gathering of representatives from other faith traditions] speaks well for the respect that the Catholic Church has in the city.”

Ballard attended the Mass with his wife, Winnie. They are members of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis.

“The Catholic Church has always been a great partner, no matter what city, but I think in particular, here in Indianapolis, we collaborate together.

“[Archbishop Tobin] will learn very quickly what a caring and compassionate city Indianapolis really is. He’ll fit right in, I’m sure.”

First impressions

Janis Dopp knows the power of first impressions, and she’s still struck by the effect that Archbishop Tobin had on her.

“I find him a remarkably real human being, no pretensions,” said Dopp, director of religious education at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bloomington. “In his homily and his remarks after the Mass, he did everything he could have done to relate to the people in the archdiocese in a very tangible way.

“I had a chance to meet him the day it was announced he was archbishop [Oct. 18]. He just has that capacity to focus on each person that he comes in contact with. He makes you feel like you’re the only person in the room, and he looks right in your eyes, and he says your name, and you really feel like you are talking to somebody in a relationship.”

From intimidating to uplifting

Andrew Motyka won’t have any trouble recalling his first major event as the archdiocese’s new director of liturgical music and cathedral music.

“Three days after I accepted the position, I heard that Archbishop Tobin was selected for the archdiocese,” said Motyka as he rested in the choir loft of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral after the installation Mass. “Here I had just accepted the position and was geared up to do something big, but this was something more high profile than I expected. It was intimidating.”

Fortunately, Motyka said, he was blessed with the instrumental help and direction of Charlie Gardner, executive director of the archdiocese’s Office for Spiritual Life and Worship, and Tom Nichols, music director of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis.

“Charlie and Tom made this so much easier,” Motyka noted about directing the archdiocesan choir during the Mass. “It let me come in and focus on the musical aspect. When I got here for the first rehearsal and heard their voices, I just smiled. I was so happy.”

Better than ‘wicked awesome’

Sister Judith Ayers will never forget the expression that Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese, used when he was ordained a bishop in the archdiocese in 2011.

“He said it was ‘wicked awesome,’ ” Sister Judith recalled with a laugh.

She used similar praise to describe the installation Mass of Archbishop Tobin.

“It was absolutely phenomenal,” said Sister Judith, who lives a life consecrated to God outside of a religious order. “I’ve lived here three years, and this was the most awesome experience I’ve had in the archdiocese. It was the representation of the many different vocations of the archdiocese—the laity, the priesthood, the religious. It was just a very wonderful experience.”

Hope for the future

After the two-hour Mass, William Spangler’s enthusiasm for the new archbishop and the liturgy soared.

“I thought he had such a presence—a spiritual, warm presence,” said Spangler, a member of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis. “I came away excited and very hopeful about the future of the archdiocese. He will be someone to bring us together and unite us in our mission. And the liturgy was fabulous.”

The last-minute opportunity

Catherine and James Hill didn’t learn until the late morning of the installation Mass that there would be room for them at the 2 p.m. celebration.

Still, the married couple from St. Paul Parish in Greencastle didn’t hesitate to clear their schedules to make the trip to Indianapolis.

“We had to wait until 10:30 this morning to find out if they had room for us,” Catherine Hill said. “So we were the last, I guess, to be called.

“It was beautiful. To see all of God’s servants—all the priests, the bishops and our new archbishop—it has touched my heart, and it filled my heart with love. I feel closer to our Lord.”

(Senior reporter Mary Ann Garber also contributed to this story.)

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