Local News Archive
Print Issue: January 6, 1983
In 1982 People Looked For Ways To Reach The Poor
By Gretchen Keiser
During the year 1982 the church in Atlanta deliberated and said its highest priority was to provide food, shelter and help to the poor.
It was also a year in which good ideas about how to help feed the hungry sprung up and came to life through the work of people at the grass roots level of the church.
One program that asks five dollars a month for food from contributors began in February and ended the year with $24,508 in contributions from hundreds of people. The money collected through Five for Food was used to buy groceries on a wholesale scale once a month and the food was then distributed to families in need through the inner city office of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The program was initiated by Marguerite and John Oberg of the Cathedral of Christ the King and at years end had involved over 400 contributors.
In April on Holy Saturday, a dining room opened in the basement of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Despite the devastation of a fire at the Shrine in August, St. Francis Table survived and ended 1982 by serving a full Christmas dinner to 340 people on the last Saturday of the year, December 25.
The nucleus for St. Francis Table comes from the parish St. Vincent de Paul conference, but it has drawn volunteers from throughout the archdiocese to serve a simple lunch each Saturday to street people and those without food in Atlanta.
The Table began with 85 guests coming to Saturday lunch its first day. Over the months the average has been between 200 and 300 each Saturday, with the highest being a day when 430 people came. The Table has been serving from Trinity United Methodist Church since the August fire.
In addition to the programs that began in the Catholic community in 1982, many people volunteered to work in the citys growing shelter program during the winter months. Central Presbyterian Church and other churches including All Saints Episcopal Church, Oakhurst Baptist Church and the Open Door community on Ponce de Leon Avenue were places where people were drawn to serve Christ in those needing basic shelter, clothing, food and loving care.
These concerns also surfaced in the series of deliberations conducted during 1982 to determine the top priorities of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
Consultations with clergy, sisters, parishes, deaneries and a pastoral Council led to the statement of five priorities to set a course for the archdiocese over the coming years. The priorities were approved by Archbishop Donnellan and the Board of Consultors. Briefly they are:
To help parish leaders recognize and secure competent persons as coordinators and catechists in religious education programs.
In addition to developing the priorities for the archdiocese, the process of priority selection, coordinated by Monsignor Jerry Hardy and Father James Kelly, led to the reconstituting of an archdiocesan Pastoral Council, made up of people representing the six geographical sections of the archdiocese. Now that the priorities have been decided upon, the Pastoral Council, which includes clergy, sisters and lay members, is working with different departments on ways the priorities can be implemented. Father Kelly, pastor of Queen of Angels parish in Thomson, was named Priest Secretary of the Pastoral Council.