Archbishop Tobin: A pastor with the spirit of willing obedience

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Today, 7th November, at the end of our working day, our Superior General Fr. Michael Brehl informed us that at noon today the Vatican announced that Archbishop Joseph Tobin had been transferred from the See of Indianapolis to the See of Newark, New Jersey. He asked us to pray for Archbishop Tobin in a special way.

I recall clearly when the Archbishop was first moved from his position as Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Apostolic Life, he was interviewed on television and asked if he felt happy to be returning ‘home’ to USA. He gave a very spiritual response. He said “I did not ask to leave Rome. I did not ask to move. I go willingly at the service of the Holy Father who has appointed me to Indianapolis”.

 In this I believe the Archbishop was saying that he felt missioned, sent, to be a pastor in this diocese. And indeed in the years he has served, his pastoral ministry has proved to be immensely fruitful and he has won the affection off all in the Archdiocese.

When he was named Cardinal a few weeks ago, he gave a press conference and again said very clearly “I love this Archdiocese and hope to continue my ministry here”. However he added, “If the Holy Father decides to transfer me elsewhere, I will accept it in a spirit of willing obedience”.And so it has come about.

At the press conference it was fairly obvious that the Archbishop had won the hearts of the priests, Religious and laity in the Archdiocese, and whilst our first thoughts and prayers go to the Archbishop, I am also very conscious of the sense of loss for the people of Indianapolis.

They welcomed the Archbishop into their midst and made him feel at home. They took him to the hearts. Our thoughts must be with them in these difficult days in which he has been asked to leave them and serve elsewhere.

Of course our prayers and best wishes also go to the people of the Archdiocese of Newark. However the Redemptorists assure them that they are receiving a great gift from God and from Pope Francis of a good pastor to accompany them in the years that lie ahead.

Archbishop Tobin often said among his happiest years were when he was a pastor in Detroit; and indeed it is this pastoral spirit which has been most manifest in his priestly ministry over the years. As Redemptorists we continue to pray for him and support him, and wish him well in the new role to which Pope Francis has appointed him.

 Ronald J. McAinsh, C.SS.R.

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