By John Shaughnessy
INDIANAPOLIS — Calling it “a late Christmas gift” from Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein announced on Jan. 14 that Father Christopher J. Coyne has been appointed as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
As auxiliary bishop, Bishop-designate Coyne will assist Archbishop Buechlein in fulfilling the responsibilities of leading the nearly 225,000 Catholics in central and southern Indiana.
While he becomes the second highest-ranking official in the archdiocese, he is not guaranteed or expected to be Archbishop Buechlein’s eventual successor, according to archdiocesan officials.
Bishop-designate Coyne becomes the first auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis since Bishop Joseph E. Ritter received that appointment in 1933.
At 52, Bishop-designate Coyne has been a pastor, a professor of liturgy and homiletics, and the director of the Office of Worship and spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Boston.
“I’m grateful to the Holy Father,” Archbishop Buechlein said during the Jan. 14 press conference at St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis.
“I consider this a late Christmas gift. We have a vibrant archdiocese with 151 parishes spread out over almost 14,000 square miles in 39 counties in central and southern Indiana. That’s a lot of territory for one bishop to be the shepherd of.
“As most of you know, I’ve had some health issues in recent years, including a bout with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2008, and that has curtailed some of my activities. Bishop-designate Coyne is a young 52, and I’m 72. I’m looking forward to the energy that he will bring to helping us carry out our mission.”
Bishop-designate Coyne exuded that energy at the press conference, displaying a combination of humor, humility and humanity during his remarks.
“I am humbled by the desire of the Church, through the Holy Father, Pope Benedict, that I become a bishop,” he said. “I already participate in the great priesthood, which I share with my brothers here, and to me that’s the greatest job ever.
“While I come with almost 25 years of priestly ministry in many and various roles within the Church, I know I have a lot to learn,” he said. “I need to learn names, faces, policies and practices, histories and stories.”
For this story and more news from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, log on to the website of The Criterion at www.CriterionOnline.com
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