Joseph Tobin: Cardinal Leads Catholic Church Through Care for Others


Elvin Alicea

Cardinal Tobin was presented with a painting by SBP student Elvin Alicea. The artist tried to unify the cardinals advocacy for the undocumented with the benedictine ideal of hospitality.

Last Friday, on a visit to St. Benedict’s Prep, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, the Archbishop of Newark, delivered a speech about the importance of education and the value of helping others.

“Most of the people I know that are happy, and have something to say, are still learning,” said Cardinal Tobin, who gave opening remarks for a Day of Reflection at St. Benedict’s.  

Pointing to a present culture that is obsessed with itself, he stressed the importance of helping others. A religious scholar, and a person fluent in at least four languages, he quoted passages from the Talmud, the Quran, and the New Testament to make his point.

Quoting from the Talmud, he said: “The one who saves the life of another person has redeemed the world.” Further making his point, using the Quran, he said: “The one who saved the life of another, has saved a nation.” Christianity, his own faith,  espouses the same ideal: “The one who tries to keep his life, loses it, the one who loses his life… for my sake, finds it.”

In an interview following his speech, the cardinal said he was excited about visiting St. Benedict’s because he wanted to experience its unique culture.

“Fr. Edwin told me that ‘We don’t talk about the school, we talk about the community,’ which is a beautiful concept,” said Cardinal Tobin, upon seeing Convocation for the first time. “Especially in this world where people are pulled apart.”

Cardinal Tobin further explained what his main mission as a Christian is.

“Well I think it’s to help the community be what God wants us to be, and that’s light for the world, and salt for the earth, and then you know, to work together as advocates to leave this world a better place than we found it.”

The cardinal visited because of an event last year, where he met Mr. Stephen Adubato, a religion teacher at SBP. The cardinal continues to inspire Mr. Adubato.

“I think about what his position is in the church,” Mr. Adubato said. “He’s supposed to be a sign that Jesus is promised, that we can find hope, that we can find meaning in our everyday lives, that it continues to be real — even 2,000 years later.”

Mr. Adubato believes that, like the cardinal, he should always be open to learning and listening.

He likes especially that Cardinal Tobin learns from the Pope. “The Pope is called to be a teacher to all of us,” Mr. Adubato said. “So that reminds me that as a teacher, my main job is to learn from my students, not just to tell them information.”

The school presented Cardinal Tobin with a painting of St. Benedict and his original monastery in Norcia, Italy, and Cardinal Tobin’s original Archabbey in St. Meinrad, Indiana. The artist Elvin Alicea SY said he wanted to emphasize Cardinal Tobin’s advocacy of undocumented people and connect it with the Benedictine ideal of hospitality.

“The piece took me about an hour every day for a month,” said Alicea, describing the 9-inch by 12-inch mixed media canvas. “Perfecting it prolonged the process, as new and better ideas came to mind. When the gift was presented to the cardinal, I felt a sense of peace from his surprised reaction. He really liked his new gift and I was honored to create it.”

After receiving his gift, Cardinal Tobin left to tend to the many tasks on his schedule.

Having visited the Hive once, Fr. Ed reminded the community, Cardinal Tobin would not be a guest on his next visit, but a member of the community.