Surrounded by 'family,' U.S. cardinal takes possession of titular church

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

(CNS) — Flanked by the parishioners and well-wishers he called his “new
family,” Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, celebrated Mass
at his titular church in Rome.

cardinal formally took possession of the Church of St. Mary of the Graces Jan.
29. The church is located just a short distance from St. Peter’s Basilica.

dressed in his cardinal-red cassock, Cardinal Tobin was greeted by Father
Antonio Raimondo Fois, pastor of St. Mary of the Graces, and presented with a
cross which he solemnly kissed before he entered and blessed the people in the
packed church.

his homily, Cardinal Tobin reflected on the Sunday’s reading from the First
Letter to the Corinthians (1:26-31), in which St. Paul said that God
“chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise.”

parishioners that he may be a “foolish missionary cardinal” in the world’s eye,
Cardinal Tobin said that such a distinction unites Christians since throughout
history God “has chosen those who are shameful and despised by the

a world that prides itself in having, in dominating others, in being fearful of
others and in making selfish choices,” Cardinal Tobin said Christians
should instead heed St. Paul’s call to “boast in the Lord.”

the parish’s namesake, the cardinal said the first grace Mary gave to all
Christians is the grace of knowing and following Jesus, embarking on a path
that made her “the first disciple of Christ.”

we implore Mary’s help and graces, and we beseech her to accompany us in the
great adventure of becoming missionary disciples of Jesus Christ, the Most Holy
Redeemer,” said the cardinal, a former superior general of the
Redemptorist order.

At the
end of Mass, Father Fois thanked Cardinal Tobin for his closeness to the parish
and its namesake, telling parishioners that he was surprised by the cardinal’s
gesture of wearing a ring bearing the image of Our Lady of Grace, which he had
given the cardinal as a gift.

never would have expected that he would remove the ring given to him by Pope
Francis and place instead the ring of Our Lady on his finger,” Father Fois

his hand high, Cardinal Tobin showed the ring to the parishioners, who
responded with thunderous applause.

it to a wedding ring, Father Fois said his gesture “means that he wishes
us well and that he is married to us.”

pastor also asked parishioners to pray for Newark Auxiliary Bishop Manuel A.
Cruz who was assaulted while celebrating Mass Jan. 28 in the Cathedral Basilica
of the Sacred Heart.

Goodness, archdiocesan spokesman, told Catholic News Service Jan. 29 that
Bishop Cruz received 20 stitches and, although unable to celebrate Mass, he
went out to greet parishioners and well-wishers after Sunday Mass at the

Fois said parishioners would join the cardinal in praying for Bishop Cruz’s
“healing and quick recovery.”

he was happy to call the parish of St. Mary of the Graces “my new
family,” Cardinal Tobin said, “It gives me joy to share our faith,
the word of God and the sacraments with you. Pray for your brother ‘Giuseppe’
and I will never forget to pray for you.”

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Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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