August 4, 2017

Youths lead the chorus of support for new archbishop

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson greets 17-year-old Emma Lashley, a member of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bloomington, during the installation Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on July 28. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson greets 17-year-old Emma Lashley, a member of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bloomington, during the installation Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on July 28. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher, Natalie Hoefer, Mike Krokos and John Shaughnessy

At 15, Logan Struewing had a wonderfully-youthful reaction to being the youngest person chosen to welcome Archbishop Charles C. Thompson during his installation Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on July 28.

“It’s especially cool to have this honor,” said Logan, a member of Holy Spirit Parish in Indianapolis.

His enthusiasm was even higher after he had a short conversation with the new archbishop.

“It was amazing,” said Logan, a member of the Archdiocesan Youth Council who was part of a group of civic leaders, religious leaders and members of the archdiocese who greeted the archbishop during the liturgy. “He seemed really kind, really interested. I just got confirmed, and I’m excited to be doing more in the Church. I feel like the youth are ready to be a bigger part of the Church.”

At 17, Emma Lashley had the same hope as she welcomed Archbishop Thompson.

“The youth are all really willing to work with him,” said Emma, a member of the Archdiocesan Youth Council and St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bloomington. “We want to help spread the Catholic mission to people.”

The experiences of the two teenagers reflected the positive reactions that people shared about Archbishop Thompson on the day he became the seventh archbishop of Indianapolis.

A commitment to collaboration

Indianapolis Mayor Joseph Hogsett made a point of noting that he was “still mourning the loss” of Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin to the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., but he was comforted by the exchange he had with Archbishop Thompson during the Mass.

“He was incredibly engaging,” the mayor said. “We both committed ourselves to collaboration for the people of Indianapolis and all the people he will serve throughout the archdiocese.

“I’m profoundly optimistic that the City of Indianapolis and the Church will continue its very close working relationship, particularly on issues of poverty and those most vulnerable in our society. I look forward to sitting down with him and talking about how we can collaborate—not only as leaders but as a faith community to make Indianapolis an even better place than it already is.”

‘A wonderful guy’

Byron and Kay Corbett traveled from their home in Bardstown, Ky., to be there for Archbishop Thompson, their longtime friend from his first assignment as a newly ordained priest in 1987 as associate pastor of the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral.

“I felt so thrilled that he was recognized for such an honor,” said Byron, who recalled the times the couple had him over to their house for pizza and beer. “He was always very concerned about young people when he was in Bardstown. He would always spend a lot of time at the high school. He’s very humble.”

Kay Corbett added, “Indy is so blessed. He’s a wonderful guy. He will lead the [Church] well. He has a wonderful sense of humor, but is very serious at times—a God-gifted man.”

‘A blessed experience’

For Joe Paul Hayden, the installation Mass of Archbishop Thompson was a “bittersweet” moment. After all, the former bishop of Evansville, Ind., served as a role model for Hayden as he prepares to be a priest in that diocese.

“It’s been a blessed experience getting to know him over the last several years,” said Hayden, a senior in formation at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary and Marian University, both in Indianapolis.

“It’s a bittersweet thing to see him leave because my experience of getting to know him has been such a great one. He’s a really humble man, a good model of the faith. As I’m studying to be a priest, he’s somebody I would like to model after for sure.”

‘He knows he’s far from perfect’

For Annette “Mickey” Lentz, the defining moment of the “beautiful, very moving” installation Mass came when Archbishop Thompson paid tribute to his father Coleman.

“I was so moved. The mayor was next to me in tears,” said Lentz, the chancellor of the archdiocese.

That moment reflects the closeness that Lentz has already witnessed between Archbishop Thompson and his family.

“I’m impressed with him always, but just the support behind him, and his humility,” Lentz said. “He knows he’s far from perfect, and he has the need for prayer at all times.”

A family’s pride

As one of Archbishop Thompson’s 90 first cousins, Denise Mutter traveled from Rochester, Minn., to be there for him.

“I loved every minute [of the Mass] from start to finish,” Mutter said. “I never thought it was a possibility [to have an archbishop in the family], but we couldn’t be more proud of him.”

A vision to embrace

For Msgr. William F. Stumpf, one of the highlights of the installation Mass was Archbishop Thompson’s homily in which he shared the theme of how the Catholic faith should be inclusive, welcoming and supportive.

“I think he’s helping us already to start thinking about vision,” said Msgr. Stumpf, vicar general of the archdiocese. “We’re really blessed. In his homily and throughout his remarks at the end, you sensed his humility and his being very down-to-earth—and Cardinal Tobin was too—and it’s just nice to have another shepherd like that, that has that same quality.”

‘A sense of all the people’

Benedictine Sister Jennifer Mechtild Horner considered it “a real gift” to be among the people who greeted Archbishop Thompson during his installation Mass.

“He has a sense of all the people, and that we need to take care of all of them, not just one or the other,” said Sister Jennifer, prioress of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove.

“If we can be that bridge for the people of God, we’ll do wonderful things for Christ.”

An answer to a prayer

As a priest in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Father Eric Johnson views Archbishop Thompson as an answer to a prayer that has been shared by Catholics in southern and central Indiana.

“We’ve been waiting and praying for the Holy Spirit and the Holy Father to send us a shepherd that would lead us and kind of help us move forward,” said Father Johnson, pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in New Albany. “As an archdiocese, we’re very much at a place where we’re excited for that.

“He has a humility about him in a lot of what he says, and in the ways he speaks about himself. Yet, I do think he’s also able to kind of articulate where it is that we need to be as the people of God—to be a people that stands in the middle and tries to hold people together in hope, unity and faith, but to do that with a humble spirit, in a way that is inviting.” †

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