WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, to be archbishop of Indianapolis.
The appointment was announced Oct. 18 in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Archbishop Tobin, 60, succeeds Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, who resigned in September 2011 at age 73 for health reasons.
Auxiliary Bishop Christopher J. Coyne has been serving as apostolic administrator of the archdiocese.
A native of Detroit, Archbishop Tobin is a member of the Redemptorist congregation. He has been secretary of the Vatican congregation since October 2010.
He will be installed as archbishop of Indianapolis during a special Mass Dec. 3 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral. The date is the feast day of St. Francis Xavier, patron saint of the archdiocese.
Auxiliary Bishop Christopher J. Coyne has been serving as apostolic administrator of the archdiocese and will continue in that role until Archbishop Tobin’s installation.
Bishop Coyne introduced Indianapolis’ new shepherd at a news conference, but first paid tribute to Archbishop Buechlein, who was in attendance. The retired prelate, who is a Benedictine monk, lives at St. Meinrad Archabbey in southern Indiana.
“The archdiocese is a thriving and healthy Catholic community that serves not only our people but so many of the greater community of central and southern Indiana,” he said, which is “due in no small part to the vision and leadership of Archbishop Buechlein.”
Bishop Coyne said Archbishop Tobin “shared with me he really has a missionary’s heart and never imagined he’d be called to serve as archbishop of Indiana. We are all very pleased you have been missioned to this great archdiocese.”
In his remarks, Archbishop Tobin talked about faith as “the capacity to be surprised by God.”
“Together we accept this mission. In the eyes of faith, we allow God to surprise us because we know that God is faithful,” he said. “In all of my life as a priest and as a religious, I’ve been surprised by God,” he continued. “Sometimes I’ve said, ‘Are you sure you know what you’re doing?’ I’ve learned to just walk by faith, not always by sight.”
He added, “One of the most serious responsibilities that I accept is in identifying and empowering the gifts of this archdiocese.”
He described his appointment to lead the Archdiocese of Indianapolis as “a wonderful and daunting mission.”
“I’m coming with a missionary’s heart to learn where God is opening a door for the Catholic Church in central and southern Indiana.”
Archbishop Tobin thanked Archbishop Buechlein “for what you did for this church for 19 years, for your example as a bishop, first in Memphis, then in Indianapolis and now in retirement.”
“Like Pope John Paul II, you showed us the dignity and the acceptance of the cross and that suffering doesn’t have the final word,” he said.
In March 2011 Archbishop Buechlein suffered a mild stroke. He had a series of other health problems before that. In 2009, he had shoulder replacement surgery and in 2010, he had surgery to remove a benign tumor from his stomach.
In 2008, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and underwent a successful course of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Prior to his Vatican appointment, Archbishop Tobin was general consultor of the Redemptorists from 1991 to 1997 and superior general from 1997 to 2009. He was appointed by Pope John Paul II to the world Synod of Bishops in 1998, 1999 and 2001 and by Pope Benedict to the synods in 2005 and 2008.
Before going to Rome, then-Father Tobin was a parish priest in the inner city in Detroit and Chicago. As associate pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish in Detroit from 1979 to 1984, Father Tobin was responsible for ministering to the Hispanic community. He was pastor of Holy Redeemer from 1984 to 1990, then was pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in Chicago from July 1990 until October 1991.
Born May 3, 1952, he is the oldest of 13 children. He was educated at Catholic schools. He studied at Holy Redeemer College in Waterford, Wis., where he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1975. He also studied at Mount St. Alphonsus Seminary in Esopus, N.Y., where he received a master’s degree in religious education in 1977 and a master of divinity degree in 1979.
On Aug. 21, 1976, he professed perpetual vows as a member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, known as the Redemptorists. He was ordained a priest June 1, 1978. He was ordained an archbishop Oct. 9, 2010, in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome following his papal appointment in August of that year to be the secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
Archbishop Tobin speaks several languages including Spanish, Italian, French and Portuguese and reads several other languages.
The Archdiocese of Indianapolis serves nearly 228,000 Catholics in 147 parishes in 39 counties in central and southern Indiana. The archdiocese covers 13,757 square miles.
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Contributing to this story was Sean Gallagher in Indianapolis.
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