Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

'I Could Never Have Imagined That I Would Serve As Archbishop Of Indianapolis'

The Message photo by Tim Lilley

Evansville Bishop Charles C. Thompson, now Archbishop-designate of Indianapolis, told a crowd estimated at 250 in the archdiocesan Catholic Center on June 13 that he had just returned home from the June 3 Ordination Mass for Father John Pfister and Father Jerry Pratt Jr. when he got a call from Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Archbishop Pierre informed him that Pope Francis had appointed him to serve as the seventh Archbishop of Indianapolis.

”My homily that day was on missionary discipleship,” he said, “talking to them about how the Lord calls, the Lord sends, and that we have to be prepared to go where the Lord sends us; not to become complacent…. I got off the phone and I thought, who was I preaching to this morning?!”

Archbishop-designate Thompson answered questions for about 20 minutes after his brief opening statement, which appears below. He paid tribute to those around him over his years of priestly ministry.

“I’ve always had great people around me,” he said. “I’ve been so blessed to have great people in my parishes and in the Diocese of Evansville. For a diocese our size, we have incredible, quality people … I’m just amazed at that.”

Archbishop-designate Thompson will serve as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Evansville until his July 28 installation as Archbishop of Indianapolis. The following week, a group of Evansville diocesan priests will convene as Consultors and elect one of their brother priests to serve as Diocesan Administrator until Pope Francis appoints the sixth bishop of Evansville.

The Message will provide continuing updates as information becomes available.

Following is the full text of Archbishop-designate Thompson’s opening statement from the June 13 Indianapolis press conference:

    “Having been appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as Bishop of Evansville in 2011, I am yet again humbled and honored that Pope Francis has now appointed me as Archbishop of Indianapolis.  During my seminary formation and education at St. Meinrad School of Theology, I could have never imagined that I would serve as Archbishop of Indianapolis.  I should point out that Archbishop-emeritus Daniel Buechlein, OSB, was my seminary rector.  Following Joseph Cardinal Tobin is more than a daunting task.  Moving from Evansville to Indianapolis, I cannot help but think of the best known song paying tribute to the Hoosier State, ‘Back Home Again in Indiana.’

    “I cannot begin to fully express my deepest gratitude and affection for those with whom I have served in the Diocese of Evansville.  These past six years, I have been very blessed to serve with such wonderful priests, deacons, religious, lay colleagues and, most especially, a great mentor and brother in Bishop-emeritus Gerald Gettelfinger.  You helped to form and educate me as a successor of the apostles.  Thank you for your patience and understanding in breaking in a rookie bishop. The Church in southwest Indiana will always have a special place in my heart. I look forward to serving in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, comprising the central and southeast part of our great state.  Special thanks to Msgr. Bill Stumpf for his great service as Diocesan Administrator, soon to be resuming his duties as vicar general.  I already know and admire so many of you.  I pledge to dedicate myself to you without hesitation or reservation. Together, we will build on the incredible foundation that already exists, striving to discern the signs of the times and make every effort to participate in framing the essential questions of faith and life, in order promote a shared vision rooted in Word, Sacrament and Service that enables us to respond rather than react to opportunities and challenges.   

    “I am especially happy to be remaining in the Province of Indianapolis where I will continue to serve with such wonderful brother bishops as Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Bishop Tim Doherty of Lafayette-in-Indiana and Bishop Don Hying of Gary, as well as our wonderful retired Bishops Gerald Gettelfinger, William Higi and Dale Melczek.  I look forward to continuing to work with Executive Director Glenn Tebbe and the Indiana Catholic Conference.

    “Drawing on my episcopal motto, Christ the Cornerstone, it is my first and foremost prayer that we be Christ-centered in all aspects of our identity, mission and witness in proclaiming the Joy of the Gospel.  Drawing on the Indiana Bishops’ 2015 Pastoral Letter, ‘Poverty at the Crossroads,’ may we continue to see, judge and act with the mind and heart of Jesus.  Drawing on the inspiration of Pope Francis, may we strive evermore diligently to embrace the call to dialogue, encounter, mercy, accompaniment and missionary discipleship, with Mary and the Saints, especially Mother Saint Theodore Guerin and Servant of God Bishop Simon Bruté, as our companions along the way.  I still have so much to learn, but I look forward to embarking upon the adventure throughout the Archdiocese and Province of Indianapolis.  

    “Let us never cease praying for one another and commend ourselves to Christ the Cornerstone.  Sts. Francis Xavier, Peter and Paul, Pray for Us.”