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Scecina students celebrate Senior Mass with new Cardinal Tobin

Scecina students surround Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin after the annual Senior Mass on Nov. 30 at SS. Peter & Paul Cathedral in downtown Indianapolis. 

By Beth Murphy, Director of Marketing Communications

Celebrating Mass with the archbishop at the majestic downtown SS. Peter & Paul Cathedral is a special tradition each year for Catholic high school seniors in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. 

The tradition continued this year on Nov. 30, and the 2016 version was even more special. The archbishop, Joseph W. Tobin, is now a cardinal, and Scecina students played major roles in the Senior Mass as the host school. The special day also served as a farewell for Cardinal Tobin, who celebrated his last Senior Mass as the head of the Church in Central and Southern Indiana. The cardinal is headed to Newark, N.J., where he will become the new archbishop in January. 

After Mass, Cardinal Tobin, dressed in his scarlet vestments and a mitre cap, greeted seniors as they exited the cathedral, with many students stopping to snap a photo or selfie with him. For most, it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to have Mass said by a cardinal. 

“I think it was a great experience,” said Scecina junior Monica Higgins, “because you have the mindset that he will help select the next pope.” Monica and her cousin, Libby Joson, also a junior, sang the Psalm at Mass because some Scecina senior choir students were on retreat (although they did attend the Mass). It was the first time either had sung at the Cathedral. 

“It was really cool,” said Libby, who said the Scecina singers received compliments from the other schools. 

In his homily, the cardinal compared the seniors’ excitement and anxiety over the next chapter in their lives to his own feelings about moving to a new job in a new city, Newark, a place he’s visited just twice. The Word of God, he told the students, provides headlights for the path ahead, although not all is revealed to us at once. 

“The headlights of our life help us to see ahead,” he said in ending his homily. “You know that wherever the road is headed, we’re on our way home.”

“I wish you a very happy senior year,” he then told the students. “Be kind to the freshmen, be stern to the sophomores, be nice to the juniors, because they have to take your place.” He also told them he was proud of the “love and care that you show for each other.” He reminded them to love their families and teachers and all who have helped them on their journey. 

“The Senior Mass this morning with Cardinal Tobin was beautiful,” said Scecina President Joe Therber. “Virtually all the seniors from the Class of 2017 in Catholic high schools throughout the archdiocese were present. The Cardinal said that he was proud of them for how they support one another and put their God-given gifts to use in service to others.” 

“The Cardinal said the sweetest things to all of the seniors,” said Scecina Alexia Morris. “He wished us a good senior year and really encouraged us. It means a lot that he understands where we are and wants us to have a good life. And I was happy to see so many friends from the other high schools and sharing hugs with them at peace time.” 

Mr. Therber praised Scecina’s staff, especially Director of Campus Ministry Maria Siap and music teacher Donnie Glowinski, for planning aspects of the Mass. 

“Our choir and other students did an outstanding job of representing Scecina and contributing to a very prayerful experience for everyone at SS. Peter & Paul Cathedral,” said President Therber. Junior DeChelle Turner was a bit nervous about her turn as cantor during the Eucharistic rites of the Mass “because seniors from all of the Catholics schools were there. I’ve just sung Mass in our gymnasium at Scecina.” 

She added: “It was an awesome and amazing experience.” After Mass, she took a photo with the new cardinal and immediately texted it to her mother.

Pope Francis announced on Oct. 9 that Tobin would become a cardinal. A month later, the pope announced that Tobin would be reassigned to Newark. Less than two weeks before the Senior Mass, on Nov. 19, during a ceremony called the consistory at the Vatican in Rome, Archbishop Tobin became Cardinal Tobin. He was one of three American bishops named cardinal among a total of 17 from 11 different countries.

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