December 2, 2016

Cardinal Tobin leaves with ‘bonds of love, mercy, forgiveness and joy’

By John Shaughnessy

While Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin has traveled to more than 70 countries in his 38 years as a priest, one of his favorite international trips involved representing the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

Defining Moments logoThat memorable moment occurred during the summer of 2013 when he led 80 Catholics from central and southern Indiana on a pilgrimage to Italy.

On the morning of June 29 of that year, Archbishop Tobin knelt in front of Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican to receive his pallium—a circular band made from lamb’s wool that symbolizes his role as the shepherd of the archdiocese and his communion with the pope.

“I’m where I’m meant to be—with the Church in central and southern Indiana,” he noted after the pallium Mass.

His commitment and his connection with the people of the archdiocese grew so much deeper in the 3 1/2 years since that symbolic moment, Cardinal Tobin says.

When Pope Francis announced 17 new cardinals on Oct. 9, Cardinal Tobin’s immediate reaction was one of gratitude for the people in the archdiocese. There was a feeling of heartbreak 13 days later when Pope Francis told Cardinal Tobin he was being reassigned to lead the Archdiocese of Newark, N. J.

Cardinal Tobin shared his sadness in a letter to the Catholics of central and southern Indiana on Nov. 7. In part of that letter, he noted, “I know that I will leave a considerable chunk of my heart here in the Catholic communities of central and southern Indiana. I trust that God will fill that void with overflowing gratitude for the gift of sharing a portion of the pilgrimage with you.”

That journey together has led to lasting “bonds of love, mercy, forgiveness and joy” for Cardinal Tobin.

“What four years has done for me is that this wonderful Catholic community spread across 39 counties has gone from ‘the archdiocese’ to ‘my people.’ I don’t mean that in a proprietary way at all. They have a claim on me, and I have a claim on them.”

It’s a claim that continues even as he heads to Newark. †

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