August 4, 2017

New archbishop is ‘humble, holy’ shepherd who will love his flock

By Mike Krokos

The smile on Louisville Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz’s face spoke volumes.

The joy was palpable too as he talked about his former priest and vicar general who was moments away from being installed as the new shepherd of the Church in central and southern Indiana.

“Well, I can only tell you how proud we in the local Church of Louisville are that one of our sons has been raised to this level of service to Christ and his people,” Archbishop Kurtz said of Archbishop Charles C. Thompson of Indianapolis.

“We’re thrilled that Pope Francis has appointed him as archbishop. It seems like yesterday—it was six years ago—that he was plucked out of the Archdiocese of Louisville to become the bishop in Evansville, and he has just served in such a pastoral way, so we’re really proud of him.

“I’m happy also to be with his family, who are all deeply rooted in the Archdiocese [of Louisville], specifically in Marion County.”

Archbishop Kurtz was one of 23 bishops who concelebrated at the July 28 installation Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis, and he, like many others, felt Archbishop Thompson would bring many gifts in his ministry to the archdiocese.

“He’s someone who’s very humble, and he is always looking to serve others. There’s not a bone of narcissism in him. He’s other-directed,” Archbishop Kurtz said. “I believe he’s a very spiritual man, he’s someone who listens, and I think he’s someone who’s not afraid to make a decision. And those are the recipes for really a good leader. So I think the Archdiocese of Indianapolis is going to be blessed.”

Other bishops, including several from Indiana, were quick to agree with Archbishop Kurtz’s sentiments.

“Archbishop Thompson is a wonderful friend, a great inspiration, very humble and very holy,” said Bishop Donald J. Hying of the Diocese of Gary, Ind. “It gave me great joy to know that he’s in this position of service and of greater influence, and I truly love him as a brother.”

Bishop Hying added, “[Archbishop Thompson] brings a great insight into the pastoral reality of the Church, deep empathy for people suffering in existential situations, and I think great fraternity with everyone in the Church [and is] a wonderful collaborator.”

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., called Archbishop Thompson “a good man and a good friend,” and said he believed people in the local Church will witness a shepherd who embraces his flock.

“I think, you know, he’s just a very pastoral bishop, he kind of exudes that real heartfelt care and concern for everyone, and I think that’s going to come across right away, when he goes and visits parishes,” Bishop Rhoades said. “The people will see there’s a simplicity and a humility about him, that he’s so very approachable, and I think that will serve the archdiocese well.”

Friendship also came to the forefront for Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette, Ind., when he talked about Archbishop Thompson, as did the proximity of the archdiocese to his own diocese.

“The Archdiocese of Indianapolis is a neighbor of mine, and we’re all part of one Church,” Bishop Doherty said. “I have only happy reasons for being here today, and consider it a privilege, and I’m so happy for the archdiocese as well. They’ve got a real good pastor coming in, and they’ll be very happy.”

Bishop Doherty called the new archbishop “a good listener” who will be capable of continuing long-range planning in the archdiocese. He also cited Archbishop Thompson’s background in Church law.

“One of the gifts that he brings—also not only to the archdiocese but to all bishops in the state—is he’s a very competent canon lawyer,” he said. “For people who deal in Church administration like I do, while we have our own consultants inside, it’s great to have a man of his wide experience. I think people will be very pleased to find out that … he’s got an established reputation as a canonist, which is very valuable to the whole Church, not just to Indiana.”

Retired Bishop William L. Higi of Lafayette said he felt “privileged” to attend the installation liturgy, and added it was “a special, special moment in the life of the Church in Indiana.”

The retired Lafayette bishop said he had gotten to know Archbishop Thompson through meetings of the bishops of the state, and added, “I’ve been impressed. I think he’s an excellent choice.” †

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