Catholics express excitement, hope with new archbishop

| Susan Klemond | May 14, 2016 | 0 Comments
Archbishop Bernard Hebda greets knights and ladies of the Holy Sepulcher after his installation Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul May 13. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Archbishop Bernard Hebda greets knights and ladies of the Holy Sepulchre after his installation Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul May 13. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Even if they had not previously met him, Catholics attending Archbishop Bernard Hebda’s May 13 installation Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul used some of the same words to describe their new prelate: warm, personable, joyful and a good listener.

Many had hope for a new start following a period of challenges — including clergy sex abuse cases and bankruptcy — and that the archbishop would be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as he leads the archdiocese and continues to resolve some of those issues.

“I just think it’s a wonderful, beautiful change for our archdiocese,” said Lynette Graham, 59, a parishioner of St. Peter Claver in St. Paul. “I think it’s going to be really good.” Graham said she hopes to meet Archbishop Hebda as the parish prepares to celebrate its 125th anniversary next year.

Pamela Thomes, 68, did meet Archbishop Hebda at the Cathedral when he received her and her son into the Church at the Easter vigil this year. “I just think he’s so warm and loving, and I think he’s going to be just great for this archdiocese,” said Thomes, who now attends the Cathedral. “I see nothing but good things with him.”

Thomes said she would like to see the archbishop and other members of the clergy do more to explain the Church’s positions on issues such as abortion and gay marriage to Catholics and those outside the Church.

The archbishop has some significant challenges ahead, but the installation marked a fresh start, said Michael Stenquist, 57, a parishioner at All Saints in Minneapolis and a knight in the Order of Malta, a worldwide Catholic lay religious order that promotes work with the sick and poor, and defense of the Catholic faith.

Archbishop Hebda has good qualifications to take on those challenges. “He’s got just such a peaceful presence,” he said. “He’s just even-keeled and personable. Everywhere he goes he seems to draw people to him. I think that’s a bishop.”

As a canon lawyer, Archbishop Hebda is bringing wisdom and expertise to the archdiocese, said Amy Tadlock, a Cathedral parishioner and a judge in the archdiocesan tribunal.

Though she hasn’t worked with him yet, Tadlock said, “What I’ve come to appreciate about Archbishop Hebda in the time I’ve had to observe him here is just his willingness to be with the people. His willingness to walk amongst them and meet with them. … I have every belief that that is part of his personality and that will continue and be a part of his ministry here as archbishop.”

Andrew Zipp, 23, who came to the installation to support Archbishop Hebda, said he is excited that the archdiocese has a new father figure.

“It’s such a historic time for our archdiocese, and I’m just super excited to have a new bishop after being left for a few months without one,” said Zipp, a first-year seminarian at the St. Paul Seminary who is from St. Michael in St. Michael.

Former parishioners of St. Olaf in Minneapolis, Bruce and Mary Palmborg stayed an extra day in the Twin Cities to attend the installation before returning to their home in the Dubuque diocese. They agreed that Archbishop Hebda seems to be the right person at the right time.

“The fact that he was able to step in when he did and the fact that Pope Francis, whom we admire very much, deems him the right choice, to me, that says a lot about Archbishop Hebda,” Mary said.

The atmosphere at the installation added to the excitement, Bruce said. “All of these people here, it’s just wonderful,” he said. “It’s just an uplifting experience.”

Stenquist agreed: “When there’s an event like this, it’s so deeply meaningful for the archdiocese. This is really extra special. It’s just in the air.”

Eileen Noble, 58, came with her husband, Jim, to celebrate a new chapter in the archdiocese, which she considers an opportunity for unity. Both belong to St. Louis King of France in St. Paul and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, a lay institution of the Vatican State that provides support for the Christian presence in the Holy Land.

“I think the archbishop has the most extraordinary grasp of both our history and our future,” she said. “He’s so respectful of who we are and so excited about what can come.”

Noble said she hopes Archbishop Hebda will help the archdiocese move beyond recent challenges and deeper into its mission.

“It’s just time to move forward and to join together as Catholics and say ‘look at all the good we do, look at who we are and let us rejoice and do more of that,’” she said. “I’m hopeful that we can move forward with no diminishment of our Gospel mission as Catholics.”

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Category: Welcome Archbishop Hebda