A Time of Transition: from Archbishop to Apostolic Administrator
I haven’t had a chance to post on this blog some words concerning the retirement of Archbishop Daniel Buechlein as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. As some of you are aware, I do post almost every day to my FaceBook and Twitter accounts and I did have the opportunity to do so there. Still, a few, more substantial words may be in line here.
When I was first asked to come to Indianapolis in December of last year, it was to assist Archbishop Daniel in his final years of episcopal service as chief shepherd of the archdiocese. I was basically going to be spending a lot of time on the road, most especially visiting the parishes and schools outside of the city. But God had a different plan. I was ordained a bishop on March 2 and on March 19, Archbishop Daniel suffered a stroke. At the time, his doctors were optimistic that he would recover and be able to return to public ministry. He had done so before in his recoveries from cancer, a stomach tumor, and shoulder replacement surgery. Unfortunately, while the archbishop was able to recover from the immediate effects of the stroke, the accumulation of all the treatments, operations and procedures that he had undergone over the pat few years finally caught up with him. After months of physical therapy, Archbishop Daniel realized that he could no longer fulfill the office of archbishop and asked the Holy Father to grant him early retirement. Pope Benedict XVI granted his request on Wednesday, September 21, 2011, accepting his resignation as archbishop and naming me Apostolic Administrator.
At the press conference on the day of his retirement, Archbishop Daniel spoke movingly of his time as archbishop and his decision to ask for early retirement. Many in attendance that day expressed great fondness for him and gratitude for all that he had done for the people of Indiana. I was able to offer my own thoughts and words on his retirement as well. In keeping with his early call to become a Benedictine monk, the archbishop will be returning to St. Meinrad Archabbey to take up his monastic vows of poverty and stability once again. We all, I’m sure, wish him a happy and holy, well earned retirement. “Ad multos annos.”
As for me, things are pretty much they way they have been since March 19, just with a title. As Apostolic Administrator I am to see to the good order of the archdiocese until the next archbishop is named. As such, I am trying to prepare the way for the next man while not starting – in as much as it is possible – anything that he will inherit as a new endeavor. As I said at the press conference, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis is in phenomenal shape. Yes, we do have some issues that need to be attended to – shifts in demographics that are requiring the movement of parish resources and/or the consolidation of parishes and schools, an aging presbyterate, the need for more Spanish-speaking clergy and church ministers and greater attention to multi-cultural ministries, and the fact that we have not really been attentive to the call to the “new evangelization” to name a few – but our financial, pastoral, and spiritual foundation is very solid. This is all due to the great leadership of Archbishop Daniel and the full, active, and participatory faith of the Catholic people here in central and southern Indiana. I tell you, if I was the next archbishop coming to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, I would be mighty pleased with all of this.
The people, religious, and clergy of the archdiocese are all praying for our new archbishop, whoever he may be. We pray, as always for the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI and for all of his works and efforts on behalf of the universal Church. May God bless us all with his love and mercy.