A chronicle of Bishop Coyne's ordination

INDIANAPOLIS -- It was a sunny, crisp day in the Hoosier state and the state capital, also the seat of the state's metropolitan see, was hosting a very rare event -- the ordination of a new auxiliary bishop for the metropolitan see. The archdiocese covers a good portion of the southern and southwestern part of the state.

One of the oldest churches in the archdiocese, St. John the Evangelist, was the host of the ordination. Beautifully maintained, and in the process of a careful restoration, the church readily and easily welcomed the more than 700 worshippers who were present.

Benedictine Archbishop Daniel Buechlein was the principal celebrant of the Mass and the principal ordaining bishop. Two principal co-ordaining bishops, Bishop Richard Lennon and Bishop Paul Etienne, were joined by some 20 other bishops mostly from Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. Bishop Coyne had worked closely with Bishop Lennon while Lennon was the apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Boston and also on the St. John's Seminary faculty where Bishop Lennon was rector. Bishop Etienne of Cheyenne was a priest of the Indianapolis diocese before being named to the statewide Wyoming see. Among the other bishops was former Boston auxiliary and now retired bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, John M. D'Arcy. Boston was represented by Cardinal Seán O'Malley and South Region Bishop John Dooher. About 200 priests including a good representation from Boston joined the concelebrating bishops.

Prior to the Mass the people had begun to line up for entry into the church, easily two hours before the Mass was scheduled to begin. Although a brisk day, the line of awaiting attendees was cheerful and clearly happy to be present. They were eager to extend a welcome to the visitors and especially to Bostonians.

Tents had been set up in the parking area next to the church and for the gathering and vesting area for priests. The seminarians of the archdiocese were readily available to help, to answer questions and to welcome visitors. Indianapolis' priests were equally welcoming and eager to chat with the Bostonians. Conversation varied from parishes, parish composition and demographics and parish finances.

Father Michael Welch, pastor of St. Christopher in Indianapolis, has a large parish not too far from the site of the annual Indy 500. He was delighted to have Bishop Coyne on board and felt immediately at ease with him.

Another priest who shepherds another large parish which currently has 13 seminarians -- about one-third of the archdiocesan total -- at various levels of formation was happy that the new bishop came with some experience of seminary formation, recalling Bishop Coyne's years as professor of liturgy at St. John's Seminary, Brighton.

Prior to the Mass, the staff of the parish and some staff of the archdiocesan offices were getting things ready inside. They seemed genuinely delighted to welcome Bishop Coyne and were happy that he would be giving a much needed assist to Archbishop Buechlein.

The atmosphere both inside and outside the church was one of celebration and enthusiasm. The new bishop seemed especially relaxed and already at home, though he did remind the Indianans that there was a long family history of Patriots' fans...the Colts fans figured they might be able to change that!