December 19, 2008

Archbishop’s cancer diagnosis tops local news stories for 2008

The 25 archdiocesan deacon candidates lay prostrate in prayer during the praying of the Litany of the Saints just moments before Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein ordained them as the first class of permanent deacons in the history of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The ordination liturgy took place on June 28 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

The 25 archdiocesan deacon candidates lay prostrate in prayer during the praying of the Litany of the Saints just moments before Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein ordained them as the first class of permanent deacons in the history of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The ordination liturgy took place on June 28 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Brandon A. Evans

The announcement that Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein had been diagnosed with cancer was voted the top news story for the archdiocese this year, a story followed closely by the ordination of the archdiocese’s first-ever class of permanent deacons and local pilgrimages to see Pope Benedict XVI in New York and Washington.

Working in tandem with the custom of other news agencies, including Catholic News Service (see story in our print edition on page 3), The Criterion editorial staff votes each year for the top 10 stories that have appeared in the archdiocesan newspaper.

Many of the stories selected this year were actually made up of several individual articles. Read them all here

So, amid the more than 475 locally produced news stories this year, here is our top 10:

1. Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein is diagnosed with cancer

On Jan. 18, the archbishop received a medical report that he had Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer affecting the lymph nodes, which is commonly known as Hodgkin’s disease.

A novena was quickly organized for Catholics in central and southern Indiana to pray for Archbishop Buechlein. Its culmination was at a Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Feb. 11, the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes and also the Church’s observance of the World Day of the Sick.

More than 200 people also logged on to and offered prayers and messages of support for the archbishop.

The archbishop’s schedule was severely curtailed for part of the year as he underwent chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatments.

The Criterion published updates on the archbishop’s prognosis, including the June 20 announcement that his cancer was in full remission after the completion of his treatments.

“I am humbled and profoundly grateful to all of you for the countless prayers and expressions of support you extended to me during the last five months,” he wrote.

Archbishop Buechlein resumed his regular schedule in the fall.

2. History is made as 25 men are ordained permanent deacons

After four years of preparation, 25 men became a part of history when they became the first class ordained to the permanent diaconate in the archdiocese during a June 28 Mass at the cathedral.

Though the permanent diaconate was restored after the Second Vatican Council, it had not yet been implemented in the archdiocese.

“The new permanent deacons will be ministering in parishes and in the broader community in such places as jails, prisons, hospitals and nursing homes,” wrote reporter Sean Gallagher in our July 4 news story. “They will be able to baptize, witness marriages and preside over funeral services. At Mass, they will be able to proclaim the Gospel and preach, but will not serve as celebrant or consecrate the Eucharist.”

Criterion coverage throughout the year, which can also be found online at, not only gave the background on the history of the diaconate, it explored the roles that the deacons would play and included brief biographies of each deacon candidate.

Shortly after the ordination, 18 other men began formation to be ordained deacons in 2012.

On a sad note, Deacon Ronald Stier, who was ordained in June and ministered at the Richmond Catholic Community, died on Aug. 24 after a two-year struggle with pancreatic cancer.

3. Local Catholics, including youths, travel to New York and Washington to see Pope Benedict XVI

Many archdiocesan Catholics participated—either by pilgrimage or prayer—in what may have been the biggest national Catholic news story of the year: the apostolic visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United States.

Our special coverage included eight stories in the April 25 issue focusing on the many people from our archdiocese who went to New York for a papal Mass at Yankee Stadium and others who attended the papal Mass at Nationals Park in Washington.

Of particular note was a group of 44 archdiocesan youths who attended a rally with Pope Benedict at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y., on April 19. Their pilgrimage was captured “live” on a blog hosted on our Web site. One of the youths sent photos and updates throughout their journey.

4. Archdiocese launches 175th anniversary year

In what promises to be a major news story next year as well, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis in the fall kicked off a year of celebrating the 175th anniversary of its founding with a September pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

The pilgrimage, led by Archbishop Buechlein, was chronicled on a blog run by young adults at

The anniversary celebration will culminate on May 3, 2009, with a special Mass at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Also premiering in the final month of the year is an archdiocesan history book, written to commemorate 175 years of growth and to highlight all 151 parishes in the archdiocese.

The book is available for $31.50 at Additional resources for the anniversary year are also located on that site, including a special hymn composed for the anniversary.

5. Two men are ordained the archdiocese’s newest priests

News coverage and two online photo galleries followed the priestly ordination of two sons of the archdiocese: Fathers Aaron Jenkins and Joseph Newton.

The pair were ordained on June 7 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral.

“Joe and Aaron, the heart and soul of a priest is being a friend of Jesus, and being a friend of Jesus means being a man of prayer,” Archbishop Buechlein told them during his homily. Quoting Pope Benedict XVI, he added, “ ‘always think back to this moment’ ” that “ ‘is full of mystery because this is the origin of your new mission.’ ”

Our coverage also included detailed profiles of the new priests.

6. Archdiocese hosts National Catholic Educational Association Convention

The archdiocese hosted, for the first time, the National Catholic Educational Association’s annual convention in downtown Indianapolis at the end of March.

More than 8,000 delegates from all over the United States attended the event, which included two special supplements in our newspaper and more than 20 news stories before and after the event.

The convention was a success, and a chance for archdiocesan efforts for excellence in education—from our record-setting number of Blue Ribbon schools to the first year of Providence Cristo Rey High School, to the ongoing celebration of the 2006 canonization of education role model St. Theodora Guérin—to shine.

Everything about the convention, including more than 30 photo galleries, can be found at

7. Carmelites leave Indianapolis and seminarians move into old convent

After more than 75 years in Indianapolis, the Carmelite Sisters of the Monastery of the Resurrection sold their property to the archdiocese and moved to Oldenburg.

Quoting our March 21 news story: “In recent years, the community, currently numbering 10 nuns, has found it increasingly difficult to manage the upkeep of their monastery and decided to move to the motherhouse of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis in Oldenburg, where they will have their own building.”

A July 16 Mass of Thanksgiving at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral celebrated the sisters’ ministry.

The monastery became home to the Bishop Bruté College Seminary, which had formerly been located on the campus of Marian College. Seventeen seminarians are currently studying for the priesthood there.

Archbishop Buechlein dedicated the new seminary home on Sept. 8.

“My greatest wish for our college seminary is that it be a simple and joyful house of prayer,” the archbishop said, “… surely the vestige and the ethos of the Carmelite prayer continues to flow through these corridors.”

8. Legacy for Our Mission campaign wraps up

After four years of planning and implementation, the archdiocese’s largest capital campaign, Legacy for Our Mission: For Our Children and the Future, began to wind down amid incredible success.

As noted in an Oct. 17 news story: “Over the course of the four years of Legacy for Our Mission, many of those hopes have been fulfilled as more than 33,000 archdiocesan Catholics pledged $104 million and more than 14,000 volunteered their time and talent to see the campaign be a success.” The campaign received an additional $10 million in corporate donations.

“Parishes across the archdiocese’s 11 deaneries have constructed new activity centers, made extensive renovations to their current facilities and established new endowments or grown already established ones,” the story said.

Information about the campaign, including its success stories, can be found at

9. Area flood victims find shelter in parishes

Flooding in central and southern Indiana on June 6-7 prompted parishes and archdiocesan agencies to reach out to support people in affected communities.

As a result, St. Martin of Tours Parish in Martinsville was opened as a Red Cross shelter for flood victims; more than 50 households at St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus received aid; parishioners at Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood collaborated with the American Red Cross and the United Way of Johnson County; and Catholic Charities Terre Haute joined other groups in helping the residents of 2,500 homes in the area damaged by flooding.

In addition, second collections were taken in some parishes on June 14-15, and Catholic Charities accepted donations online and coordinated offers for help.

10. $5 million capital grant is awarded to improve archdiocesan schools

An Aug. 8 news story announced that Lilly Endowment Inc. had “made a major commitment of its resources to support archdiocesan schools in the center city of Indianapolis and in two of its urban high schools.

“The archdiocese has determined to use the $5 million grant the Endowment awarded to make much-needed capital improvements to the Mother Theodore Catholic Academies (MTCA) in the center city of Indianapolis, to Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School in the Indianapolis West Deanery and to Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School in the

Indianapolis East Deanery.”

The grant was one of the largest ever awarded to the archdiocese and helped to secure the future of Catholic education in the center city, archdiocesan officials said.

(To read more about these 10 stories, including links to all our original Criterion news coverage, log on to our Web site at

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