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The naming of Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin as a cardinal—and his subsequent appointment to lead the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J.—was voted the top local news story of 2016, followed by the ordination of six new priests and the archdiocesan celebration of the Holy Year of Mercy.
Other stories of note included the archdiocese’s new partnership with Notre Dame ACE Academies, the 50th anniversary of the Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC), decisions from the Connected in the Spirit parish planning process, and the election of a new archabbot at Saint Meinrad Archabbey.
Following the tradition of other news agencies, The Criterion editorial staff votes each year for the top 10 local stories that were published in our newspaper.
Many of the top stories selected this year were covered in multiple articles. Read this article online to browse the links to all the original coverage.
Among the hundreds of locally produced news stories during 2016, here is our “Top 10” list:
The honor, described as a “shock,” was unexpected and became an instant source of celebration for Catholics in central and southern Indiana. In a press conference the next day, the cardinal-designate shared his thoughts with employees of the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis and local news media, which included his apprehension of any spotlight the new title would bring.
A second shock came less than two weeks before the consistory in Rome that would make his new title official: Pope Francis was moving Archbishop Tobin to lead the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J.
The joy of the previous weeks became bittersweet, as the cardinal-designate wrote of sleepless nights and tears.
Thinking of his years here, Archbishop Tobin wrote, “I remembered how you welcomed me, offered your support in so many ways, forgave my mistakes and limitations and always assured me of your love and the precious backing of your prayer. The thought of leaving you devastated me.”
Nevertheless, many lay faithful and priests from central and southern Indiana traveled to Rome to be with Cardinal Tobin as he officially joined the College of Cardinals; many more followed the events online.
A local celebration—which was also a farewell—was held on Dec. 3 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, during which Cardinal Tobin recalled his time here.
Quoting Scripture, he said, “ ‘With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you not only the Gospel of God, but our very selves as well, so beloved have you become to us’ ” (1 Thes 2:8).
All our coverage of Cardinal Tobin’s appointment can be found at www.archindy.org/archbishop.
During a Mass on June 25 at the cathedral, Fathers James Brockmeier, Anthony Hollowell, Douglas Hunter, Kyle Rodden, Matthew Tucci and Nicolás Ajpacajá Tzoc all took their first steps in a new life as priests.
Noting the Holy Year of Mercy, Archbishop Tobin spoke to them: “We have turned to God, begging for mercy and have been strengthened as ambassadors of reconciliation. Since we recognize that God has torn down each and every barrier that could really divide us, we have deepened our commitment to build bridges, not walls.”
“Pope Francis described the heart of the priest as a heart pierced by the love of the Lord,” Archbishop Tobin said. “For this reason, he no longer looks to himself or should look to himself, but is instead turned toward God and his brothers and sisters.”
“A priest,” he said, noting the preaching of the pope, “is changed by the mercy that he gives.”
During that year, individual parishes, schools and agencies worked to put mercy in action; special times were set aside for confessions during Lent; and the Holy Doors at the cathedral and the Archabbey Church of Our Lady of Einsiedeln in St. Meinrad were opened.
The culmination of the year for the archdiocese came on Oct. 8, during a special Marian Jubilee at St. Bartholomew Church in Columbus.
Eight hundred people from around the archdiocese attended the event, which featured recitation of the rosary, a Marian procession, a reflection from then-Archbishop Tobin and two presentations by best-selling Catholic author and speaker Dr. Scott Hahn.
“God’s mercy is what happens when you coordinate all of his attributes,” Hahn said. “His power, which is unlimited. His knowledge, which is infinite. His goodness and his love.
“When you coordinate all of those attributes, you discover that mercy is God’s all powerful love in action.”
The growing relationship between the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and the University of Notre Dame deepened on March 29 when it was announced that five center-city Catholic schools in Indianapolis will become part of the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) Academies network starting in the 2016-17 school year.
The five schools—Central Catholic, Holy Angels, Holy Cross Central, St. Anthony and St. Philip Neri—joined the growing network of Catholic schools that operate through ACE.
Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin praised this latest partnership connecting the archdiocese and Notre Dame.
“The Archdiocese of Indianapolis has long been a leader in finding innovative ways to serve the educational and spiritual needs of children from some of the lowest income areas in Indianapolis,” said Archbishop Tobin.
“Partnering with the Notre Dame ACE Academies will strengthen these five schools by providing students even more resources and opportunities. I’m committed to seeing that these children have the same chance I had to grow up in a community of faith and to receive an excellent Catholic education.”
In October of 1966, a small group of dedicated Catholics met in Indianapolis to do what their counterparts in only a handful of states had accomplished—to formalize a way for the Catholic Church to speak on both state and national issues. That was the genesis of the Indiana Catholic Conference [ICC], which this fall marked the 50th anniversary of its establishment as the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Indiana.
“The Church was beginning to see its role in how it impacts the culture,” said Glenn Tebbe, the fifth and current executive director of the ICC, in an Oct. 21 story. “The goal then was the same as it is today—to reflect on Church teaching and offer its wisdom for people to consider in a way that will benefit society.”
The ICC has been the voice of public policy for the Church in Indiana on issues that range from the poor and immigration to abortion and school choice.
“My job is to make sure the Catholic perspective is part of the discussion,” Tebbe said. “I try to be the voice of our five bishops, and also to enable the Catholic faithful and all people of good will to help shape public policy for the best interests of the common good.”
Speaking on Feb. 4 at St. Bartholomew Church in Columbus before Catholics from across central and southern Indiana, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin announced decisions that will affect 31 parishes in the Bloomington, Connersville and Seymour deaneries.
“As a result of the decisions, two parishes will be merged into neighboring faith communities.”
The changes were part of a 15-month consultation with pastoral leaders and lay representatives, and part of a larger, years-long parish planning process called Connected in the Spirit.
Archbishop Tobin said the process is “an effort to discern where God is leading the Catholic Church in central and southern Indiana, and determine how the Archdiocese of Indianapolis should change its structures in order to carry out its mission today and in the future.”
That day, an election was held that saw Benedictine Father Kurt Stasiak named the 10th abbot in the 162-year history of the community.
Speaking of his brother monks, the new archabbot said, “They’re looking at me as their abbot. Not that I’m better, but more is being asked of me now. They’re expecting more. That’s a humbling thing and certainly a privileged feeling.”
The resignation and election occurred almost exactly 50 years after the resignation of still-living Archabbot Bonaventure Knaebel, who guided the monastery through the years of the Second Vatican Council.
Though serving in the archdiocese at Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis, he does so as a member of the Houston-based Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, which was established in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. The ordinariate functions like a diocese for former Anglicans and Episcopalians in the United States and Canada.
As reported, “in full communion with the Church, the ordinariate is able to maintain its Anglican spiritual heritage in its worship—and in having married men ordained as priests.”
“I’m really excited about it,” said Father Reese shortly before his ordination. “I look forward to the adventure of it all.”
Addressing his new flock, the former priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis said, “Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, really means it when he says that he wants bishops to travel to the peripheries to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ and God’s love to strangers. With today’s appointment, he is sending me among you, in the name of Jesus Christ, as your new archbishop, to be your servant and shepherd. I humbly accept this commission, with great gratitude to Pope Francis.”
Archbishop Etienne was installed on Nov. 9 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral in Anchorage.
Father Hilary Meny, the longest serving priest in the history of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, died on Oct. 7 at his home in Haubstadt, Ind., where he had been cared for by his extended family for many years. He was 101, and had been a priest for 76 years.
Cardinal Tobin praised the life of the priest: “Father Hilary leaves a precious testimony of faithfulness. Though he retired decades ago, he retained a priestly heart and a keen interest in the parishes where he served. The archdiocese is grateful for his witness, and thanks his wonderful family for the tender, faith-filled care they lavished on Father over the last years.”
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Oct. 12 at SS. Peter and Paul Church in Haubstadt, Ind., in the Diocese of Evansville.