January 21, 2011


Welcome, Bishop-designate Coyne

It was welcome news for Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein.

And as people of faith who know the health challenges that our archdiocesan shepherd has faced in the past few years, it is an announcement that we should be happy to hear, too.

Bishop-designate Christopher J. Coyne’s appointment as auxiliary bishop to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis on Jan. 14 is surprising in the sense that he is the archdiocese’s first auxiliary bishop since Bishop Joseph E. Ritter was named to the same post in 1933.

Bishop Ritter later became the archbishop of Indianapolis and a cardinal in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

But when you consider the size of our archdiocese—151 parishes spread over nearly 14,000 miles in 39 counties in central and southern Indiana—and the fact that the archbishop asked the Vatican for some help, the appointment makes sense.

“As you can imagine, that’s a lot of territory for one bishop to shepherd,” Archbishop Buechlein said during a Jan. 14 press conference at St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis.

“Bishop-designate Coyne is a young 52, and I’m 72,” the archbishop added. “I’m looking forward to the energy [that] he will bring to helping us carry out our mission.”

Bishop-designate Coyne, a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston, will bring many other gifts to his new ministry. They include time spent as a parish pastor, experience as a professor of liturgy and homiletics, and a strong communications background as a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Boston, including during the height of the priest sex-abuse crisis there.

He also is active in sharing the Gospel on the Internet through blogging and posting videos about the faith.

There is one downside to Bishop-designate Coyne’s appointment, Archbishop Buechlein joked. “He’s been a lifelong [New England] Patriots fan.

“I told him that would fade,” the archbishop said to roars of laughter during the press conference.

Bishop-designate Coyne was quick to make sure his sense of humor was evident during his introduction to our archdiocese as well.

He talked about his mother’s disappointment that he would be leaving Massachusetts to minister in Indiana.

“My mother is not happy,” Bishop-designate Coyne said. “She used to like the pope.”

The new bishop also said he had not yet chosen an episcopal motto.

“I did look to see whether ‘It is what it is’ is in the Bible, but it is not,” he said.

All joking aside, Bishop-designate Coyne said that he had learned a lot of things during his nearly 25 years of priestly ministry in Boston, including “the importance of relying on the cautions and advice of others, and the need to listen to what is being said with an open heart and an open mind.

“I pledge that to you,” he said.

He later added, “Please know that my prayers are for you, and I ask only the same in return.”

We all should, indeed, offer prayers for Bishop-designate Coyne. In taking on this new role, let us pray that he is able to help the archbishop in carrying out his mission. We pray that his time here bears much fruit for our archdiocese, and that Bishop-designate Coyne learns to love Indiana.

And most important, we pray that this man of God helps us all grow in our lives of faith.

—Mike Krokos

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