By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
The family and friends of Bishop Charles C. Thompson of Evansville, Ind., see his appointment to lead the Archdiocese of Indianapolis as an honor and a blessing.
Father Dale Cieslik, first cousin of Archbishop-designate Thompson, said he was “completely delighted and happy” for his cousin and for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
Father Cieslik, pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church in Mount Washington, Ky., and archivist for the Archdiocese of Louisville, said Archbishop-designate Thompson is “extremely dedicated to the foundations” of the church.
“He’s faithful to what we’re about as Roman Catholics today,” he said.
The archbishop designate is also a “bishop in the mold of Pope Francis,” according to Bishop William F. Medley of the Diocese of Owensboro, Ky.
Bishop Medley, a former priest of the Louisville Archdiocese and a friend of the newly named archbishop, said his appointment to lead the Archdiocese of Indianapolis “is a great blessing for the church.”
“The Catholic Church of Indianapolis will be enriched by a fine shepherd who comes with wisdom and experience. Clearly he is a bishop in the mold of Pope Francis and will accompany the church to the peripheries to bring Christ’s good news,” said Bishop Medley in a statement June 13. “I am pleased that his leadership may be even more recognized in his new position.”
Father J. Mark Spalding, a friend who’s known Archbishop-elect Thompson since their days in seminary, called his appointment “a great blessing for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and a great blessing and compliment to the Archdiocese of Louisville at the same time.”
Father Spalding succeeded the archbishop designate as vicar general of the Archdiocese of Louisville and as pastor of Holy Trinity Church in 2011, when Archbishop-designate Thompson became Bishop of Evansville.
He believes the archbishop-elect will be “most adept” at handling his new responsibilities.
“Chuck is a uniquely gifted priest and I think the church, with this appointment, has recognized that,” said Father Spalding.
“He’s a gifted preacher and pastor. If you have those two gifts you’re going to serve the church well.”
Coleman and Joyce Thompson, parents of the archbishop designate and members of St. Bernard Church, are “very happy and honored for their son being appointed Archbishop of Indianapolis,” said Father Cieslik, who spoke to them the day of the announcement.
Archbishop-designate Thompson was born in Louisville in 1961 and spent part of his childhood in Marion County — in Kentucky’s Catholic Holy Land. He attended St. Charles School in St. Mary, Ky., for part of his elementary education.
His family later returned to Louisville and he graduated from Luhr Elementary School in 1971.
Bishop Thompson graduated from Louisville’s Moore High School in 1979 and went on to earn an accounting degree from Bellarmine University in 1983.
He received a master’s degree in divinity from St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in 1987, the same year he was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville. In 1992 he graduated with a licentiate in canon law from St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada.
Father Cieslik believes the archbishop designate will be well-served as an archbishop by his education and experience. He will bring to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Father Cieslik said, “an excellent listening ear on what situation is going on and seeks out counsel.
He’s collaborative. He discerns what needs to be done and sticks to the plan,” said Father Cieslik.
He added that Archbishop-designate Thompson’s background in canon law and his “insight,” will also be a plus.