March 1, 2013

Archbishop Tobin reflects on worshiping, meeting parishioners in 11 deaneries

By Sean Gallagher

Over the course of about a month, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin visited each of the 11 deaneries of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, worshiping with and meeting many Catholics from these regions.

After the final deanery Mass on Feb. 19 at St. Louis Church in Batesville, Archbishop Tobin spoke about his experience in visiting the deaneries. (Related story: Archbishop finishes tour of deaneries with Batesville Mass)

He first talked about his appreciation for the strong turnout for his visits in nearly every deanery.

“It humbles me, and it energizes me because of the sheer goodness of the people, and the sincerity of their welcome make me want to do the best I can for the people,” Archbishop Tobin said. “And I realize that there are thousands and thousands of more people in the archdiocese, but the welcome was consistent.

“So I have to believe that people here have a great openness to the Church, to the word of God. I think we can go forward together.”

Visiting each of the deaneries also gave Archbishop Tobin an appreciation for what he described as “the sort of anomalous location of the cathedral, the archbishop’s residence and the archdiocesan offices in the extreme north.

“I don’t think that I will forget that there’s a lot of the archdiocese outside of Indianapolis,” he said. “I wouldn’t want them to feel like there’s Indianapolis and, as an afterthought, there’s the rest of us.”

Archbishop Tobin put that desire into action by celebrating a Rite of Election on Feb. 17 at St. Mary-of-the-Knobs Church in Floyd County.

It was the first time in the history of the archdiocese that this ritual, part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults process of welcoming catechumens and candidates into the Church at the Easter Vigil, was celebrated away from SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

Archbishop Tobin had in part been prepared for visiting each of the deaneries and the enthusiastic reception he received in them by the 12 years he served as the superior general of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.

When he visited parishes around the world staffed by his fellow Redemptorist priests, the parishioners were excited to meet him, just as they were in parishes in central and southern Indiana.

But he said that there is one critical difference between the two experiences.

“I was never sure that I’d ever come back to visit the people that I visited, say, in Burkina Faso [in Africa],” Archbishop Tobin said. “Here, I’m interested in each of these communities because these are my people. I’m going to see them again. The fact that they welcomed me with such sincerity was a marvelous experience for me.”

It has been an experience that has also affected Archbishop Tobin’s daily prayer.

“I pray for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis several times a day,” he said. “And those experiences help me put a face on the prayer. I’m not only praying for where I live, but for people I know and people I share the most important things in life with—God’s word, God’s sacraments.”

Archbishop Tobin also said that his own faith has been strengthened by meeting Catholics from across central and southern Indiana in receptions after each deanery Mass, hearing about the blessings and crosses in their lives and how their faith helped them accept them all.

“Those are the people that I like to say help me get out of bed in the morning,” Archbishop Tobin said. “I might have had a late night the night before, and I might say, ‘What the heck. I’ll call in sick.’ But I get out of bed because of these people, because they get out of bed with a lot more [cares] than I ever carried.” †

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