MEETING THE CHILDREN: Archbishop Joseph Tobin, of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, talks to a class of fourth-graders during a visit to Shawe Memorial High School and Pope John XXIII Elementary School on Wednesday. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
MEETING THE CHILDREN: Archbishop Joseph Tobin, of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, talks to a class of fourth-graders during a visit to Shawe Memorial High School and Pope John XXIII Elementary School on Wednesday. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
The graduating seniors at Shawe Memorial High School received some special words of wisdom Wednesday from newly appointed Archbishop Joseph Tobin.

Tobin, who was appointed the archbishop for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis by former Pope Benedict XVI in October 2012, joined the 39 seniors for lunch at the school and conducted a special Mass following the meal.

The Indianapolis Archdiocese covers 39 Indiana counties, and Tobin said he has made it a point to visit several of the Catholic schools in the archdiocese. Tobin toured the school and met with teachers and parents in the afternoon.

"I think there's a feeling that everything centers around Indianapolis," Tobin said of the archdiocese. "But it's important to focus on all the different areas."

Tobin said the goal of the church is to educate "from the womb to the tomb" but noted the focus the church puts on K-12 education. In speaking with several soon-to-be graduates, he said he has been impressed with students' future plans and faith.

"You can tell when they talk about their faith it isn't put on," he said. "It's real."

Before being appointed to Indianapolis, Tobin spent 18 years in Rome working as a general consultor and then superior general. In 2010, Pope Benedict named him Archbishop Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and as titular bishop of Obba.

During his time in Rome, Tobin served alongside Pope Francis before the Argentine had received the church's highest position.

Since being named archbishop, Tobin said he has traveled about 15,000 miles.

Tobin said the Indianapolis Archdiocese is interesting because it's one of the few places he has served where Catholics are the minority faith. But he said that actually makes the community more tight-knit.

"There's a certain cohesiveness in the Catholic community," he said.