After four years of serving as Archbishop of Indianapolis — and just weeks after being named to the Catholic Church’s College of Cardinals — Archbisop Joseph Tobin will be leaving the Circle City.
In a Nov. 7 letter addressed to “the priests, deacons, religious and faithful of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis,” Tobin says he received a phone call on Oct. 22 informing him that Pope Francis had reassigned him to be the archbishop of Newark, New Jersey.
“I immediately thought of you, the people of this great Archodiocese whose pastoral care was entrusted to me four years ago,” Tobin wrote in his letter. “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 devasted me. I have had many sleepless nights and shed more than a few tears.”
Tobin will succeed Archbishop John Myers, who reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 in July. Myers introduced Tobin to a gathering of local journalists and Archdiocesan employees at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark on Nov. 7.
Tobin humbly addressed the crowd, saying, “Two weeks ago, I learned that Pope Francis was entrusting to me the pastoral care of this storied Archdiocese. Two weeks earlier, I discovered that the Holy Father had named me to the College of Cardinals. I am not sure my central nervous system can take much more news. You will forgive the occasional stutter or facial twitch.”
According to the Associated Press, the Newark archdiocese serves about 1.7 million Catholics of diverse backgrounds — about 20 percent are Latino and nearly as many are Black.
That’s good news to Tobin, who speaks Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and French.
Growing up in a multi-cultural area in Detroit, he told the Newark gathering, “I was a little jealous of classmates that went home and spoke a different language, ate different food, thought differently. My service of the Church obliged me to live many years in cultures different from the Irish-American ambient of my family. So I am excited to lead an Archdiocese where the Eucharist is celebrated each Sunday in 20 languages.”
Tobin will be installed in Newark on Jan. 6, 2017.
He was appointed to his current post as Sixth Archbishop of Indianapolis in October 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI and was installed that December.
Tobin speaks fondly of his time in Indianapolis, and he has asked for well-wishes as he takes his next step.
“I hope that you will commission me — send me forth with your blessing to preach and heal in the Archdiocese of Newark,” he wrote in his letter. “I know that I will leave a considerable chunk of my heart here in the Catholic communities of central and southern Indiana. I trust that God will fill that void wil overflowing gratitude for the gift of sharing a portion of the pilgrimage with you.”
Looking ahead to life in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis after his departure, Tobin said he expects a quicker transition than the Archdiocese experienced last time. Archbishop Daniel Buechlein was allowed to retire early in September 2011 due to an illness, and in the interim, Auxiliary Bishop Christopher Coyne served as Apostolic Administrator until Tobin’s appointment.
“The Archdiocese is not helpless in the face of this change. Just as what happened after the resignation of Archbishop Daniel (Buechlien), the Church will provide stable leadership for the Archdiocese until the new Archbishop is named. I believe you will receive a good pastor and you will not have to wait as long as you did before I was named.”