Friday, January 06, 2017

In Father Ted's House, "Brother" Joe Begins

NEWARK – ...and on the 12th Day of Christmas, Il Papa gave Jersey no dozen of anything – just one red hat.

The first-ever installation of a cardinal at the helm of an American diocese, the rites entrusting Joe Tobin CSSR with this 1.4 million-member fold begin at 2.30pm Eastern.

To kick off the handover, the 2,500-seat Cathedral-Basilica of the Sacred Heart already filled up last night for the usual first Vespers for the local clergy and religious, joined by some 100 members of the Tobin clan and other assorted Hoosiers, Redemptorists and the like. In a poignant touch, North Jersey's Fourth Archbishop – now Washington's retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick – soldiered himself out of a wheelchair to make his entrance on foot, soaking up the exuberant response to an appointment he reportedly brought over the finish line with a direct appeal to Pope Francis.

With retiring Archbishop John Myers absent (ostensibly owing to the November hip injury that, until the last minute, threatened to keep him from one last trip to the chair at today's Mass) and the prodigal coadjutor, now Twin Cities' Archbishop Bernie Hebda, just a visitor in the pews (albeit one swarmed by emotional well-wishers), Tobin had one of Stateside Catholicism's most majestic stages to himself, using his first ascent to the basilica's "floating" Gothic pulpit to underscore that "if there was ever a place for one to separate being a bishop from being a missionary, it can no longer hold"... and leveling one jab at his old coworkers in the Vatican that brought down the house....