Local News Archive
Print Issue: May 9, 1988
Archbishop Installed In Celebrative Mass
By Gretchen Keiser
Archbishop Eugene A. Marino, S.S.J. was installed as Atlantas third archbishop May 5 in a Mass that celebrated the Catholic Churchs cultural diversity his appointment has come to symbolize.
Among the 4,600 people gathered in the Atlanta Civic Center were those for whom his appointment as the first black archbishop in the U.S. has fulfilled the hope of generations to be called forth as leaders in the Church.
Yet Archbishop Marino introduced himself to his people as a bishop whose precedent-setting appointment will not obscure his mission to serve and lead the archdiocese of Atlanta.
My first words must be to the Catholic faithful of the archdiocese of Atlanta, for it is to you especially that I have been sent in the name of Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, he said in his homily. As chief shepherd of the Church of Atlanta, it is now my privilege and my duty to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ authentically, to govern the Church with strength and compassion, and to lead the People of God surely in the way of truth and in the path of holiness.
The Mass, which included spirituals, a Scripture reading in Spanish, an offertory procession by children in ethnic garb from around the archdiocese, was marked by a warmth and joy that began when the half-hour long procession of altar boys, seminarians, permanent deacons, priests and brothers, bishops and cardinals entered the hall.
People in the balconies waved while friends and colleagues stretched out their hands as Archbishop Marino entered the end of the procession. Applause followed his movement down the aisles and onto the Civic Center stage where 80 to 90 American bishops were seated behind the altar.
Archbishop Pio Laghi, the popes representative in the U.S. who came to install Archbishop Marino, said that he has been to so many installations, but called this one a splendid ceremony that was really unique.
This is really one exception, Archbishop Laghi said enthusiastically, provoking long applause from the people. Archbishop Marino, who was seated, finally rose and doffed his scarlet skull cap to the people and beamed.
Listening to the applause, Archbishop Laghi continued, That means the selection made by the Holy Father of Archbishop Marino has been the right one. The audience rose in a standing ovation until the archbishop again doffed his cap and bowed.
Archbishop Laghi read the papal letter of appointment, which noted that in assuming leadership of the archdiocese, Archbishop Marino would be taking on a more serious ministry. Yet the message said the archbishop displayed clear virtues and pastoral abilities as auxiliary bishop of Washington, D.C. for the last 14 years. In addition it spoke of the popes brotherly affection which may continuously accompany your journey and which may support your spirit in your work and may be a consolation in your concerns.
After reading the document, and asking Archbishop Marino whether he would be willing to accept the call to shepherd the archdiocese of Atlanta, Archbishop Laghi presented Archbishop Marino with his crozier, a wooden shepherds staff carved by a Mississippi man that the bishop received at his episcopal ordination in 1974. He was then led to the presiding chair for the first time as archbishop of Atlanta.
Among those presiding at the Mass were Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, who once served in Mississippi and is a friend of the archbishop; retired Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia; and Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago, whose ties to Atlanta as a former auxiliary bishop in the archdiocese were acknowledged.
Principal concelebrants included the bishops of Georgia and North Carolina, Bishop Raymond Lessard of Savannah; Bishop John Donoghue of Charlotte; and Bishop Joseph Grossman of Raleigh; Archbishop John Hickey of Washington, D.C.; Archbishop John May of St. Louis, Mo., president of the National Conference of Catholic bishops; and Bishop Joseph Howze, bishop of Biloxi, Miss. and the first black ordinary in the U.S.
Other concelebrants were Father John Harfmann, S.S.J. and Father William McKenna, S.S.J., Josephite seminary classmates of the archbishop in the 1950; Monsignor John McDonough, representing the archdiocese of Atlanta, and Father David Kukielski, representing the priests of the archdiocese.
In his homily, Archbishop Marino said that the Eucharist illumines the relationship of bishop and diocese. There is no Church without Eucharist, and there is no Eucharist without the bishop.
In the Eucharist, we draw the substance of our teaching and the energy and direction for the educational and social activities that we perform, he said. Our programs, our schools, our institutions, indeed our total apostolate of education, advocacy, and outreach must clearly reflect this Eucharistic centrality, for it is in the Eucharist that we most authentically encounter Jesus Christ.
We do the things we do with and for people not because they are Catholic necessarily, but because we are, he said.
He also noted that in response to the Lords command, Feed My Lambs, he must have a particular concern for those weakest and most vulnerable members of the flock for those on the fringes, those most likely to stray, those most threatened by danger.
Evil surround us and danger threatens the entire human family today as never before in history, he said. Among dangers of the age he cited were a disregard for authority, an attitude of self gratification that produced pornography, sexual immorality, alcohol and drug addiction and child and spouse abuse.
Over this grim landscape hangs the dark and ominous cloud of abortion, he said, calling it truly the pervasive evil of our time. He likened this generation to the one addressed by the prophet Isaiah in a Mass reading: They seek me day after day, and desire to know my ways, like a nation that has done what is just and not abandoned the law of their God.
Archbishop Marino then directly acknowledged his appointments historic quality and the media attention it had drawn.
There can be no escaping the fact that I am the first black bishop to serve in Atlanta, and the first black archbishop in the nation, he said.
Having noted the fact, I hasten to add my deep personal conviction that it need not affect the quality of my ministry among you, nor the nature of our relationship with each other. As applause interrupted his words, he added, You obviously share that conviction.
In the first of many displays of ethnicity in the Mass, the 53-year-old archbishop, who grew up in Biloxi, Mississippi, acknowledged his own black and Puerto Rican identity with pride, likening it to the pride of other groups including the Irish, Hispanic, Anglo and Asian.
We are a richer Church for all our cultural and ethnic diversity, he said. Let our differences be a source of strength for all of us.
He then spoke for a few minutes in Spanish, his fathers native language which he has learned as an adults. A banner hanging from the balcony said: Bienvenido The Hispanic Community Welcomes You.
Diverging from his prepared text, the archbishop then spoke movingly of his background as a Southerner in a time marked by segregation. I was born and raised in the deep South, in the old South, he said, noting that it was a curious mixture of gracious hospitality on the one hand and racial segregation on the other.
Although embarrassed by this heritage at times, the bishop said, I am not ashamed of whence I have come.
He noted that the experience of the Old South has profoundly influenced us and that the suffering of that experience has paved the way for the new South typified by Atlanta.
Today I am happy to be a citizen of Atlanta, he said. Today I am proud to call myself a Georgian.
Concluding the homily he noted, As bishop and Church we have been called by God to walk together through the final years of the twentieth century and into the dawn of a new millenium of the Christian era.
May this first Eucharist we celebrate as archbishop and people help us to show forth the living presence of Christ in the world, help us to be a light shining in the darkness.
The archbishop renewed the consecration of the archdiocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as he had at Vespers the previous evening in the presence of the clergy.
The diverse communities of the Atlanta archdiocese wee called forward: representatives of President Ronald Reagan and Gov. Joe Frank Harris; Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, who embraced the new archbishop; a diplomat; and the president of the Christian Council of Metropolitan Atlanta, the Rev. Dr. William J. Hinson.
From the Church community, archdiocesan leaders and men and women from the black Catholic, Hispanic, Korean and Vietnamese communities came forward, some in native dress. The theme was repeated moments later as children in ethnic garb brought Offertory gifts up to the archbishop with members of his family who also took part in the procession.
Music drew forth murmurs of prayer, praise and worship from the congregation at several points.
During the distribution of Communion, the full choir with soprano soloist Jeanne Brown sang the hymn Blessed Assurance, alternating choruses with the refrain: this is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long. The singing lasted eight minutes, choir director Alphonso Nuckles said later, but the congregation, which joined in song and spontaneous applause, was reluctant to let the prayer diminish.
In a post-Communion meditation, an unassuming Sister, wearing the habit of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, came to the choir area and, sitting behind an electronic keyboard, began to play the spiritual, His Eye Is On The Sparrow. She rapidly had the congregation in her hand.
Sister Elaine Frederick, O.S.P., a composer and performer of liturgical music, had been asked by the archbishop to sing the meditation. The refrain was picked up by the people and by the archbishop himself: I sing because Im happy; I sing because Im free. His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.
He wanted it so special, Sister Elaine said afterward. Her coming made up for the fact that she was unable to sing as part of the archbishops silver jubilee in the priesthood last year. She came from Baltimore to be a part of this Mass.
The faith-filled spirituals contrasted with strong processionals, accompanied by brass and organ, and rhythmic folk music and syncopated Hispanic songs. This diversity was chosen by music director Hamilton Smith, with the assistance of Rhonwyn Rogers, director of the archdiocesan Office of Black Catholics.
Archbishop Marino particularly acknowledged the leadership of Monsignor McDonough during the past year, and the work of Father Peter Ludden, chancellor, in preparing for the installation services.
Its gonna take the next 21 years, three weeks and four days but whos counting? to show you how much I appreciate all that you are and all that you will be to me as your archbishop, he told the people.
The Mass concluded at about 4 p.m., the procession winding its way out of the center, with the archbishop being stopped frequently by those who wanted a word or two with him. In a special area for guests, Mayor Young and his wife sat beside Mrs. Coretta Scott King, former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson and DeKalb County Commissioner Manuel Maloof.
Outside the center, a yellow and white tent sheltered buffet tables for a reception, while the archbishop stood in a two-hour receiving line, speaking individually to everyone who wanted to see him.
Those who attended included people from the archdiocese; priests and deacons estimated to number well over 500; large delegations from Biloxi, Mississippi and the Washington, D.C. archdiocese; black Catholics who came from as far as California and New York to be part of the celebration and Mass; and many reporters and photographers.
Broadcast live by Eternal Word Television Network of Birmingham, Alabama, the telecast was also carried by independent Atlanta station WVEU. U.S. News & World Reports and New York Times reporters sat in rows that also included Eternal Word founder Mother Angelica, Catholic press representatives from Mississippi and Louisiana; and reporters from the black press.
Evelyn Cook of St. Marks parish in Richmond, Calif. flew to Atlanta for the installation with her pastor, Father Hilary Cooper. The sister of Katherine Woodyard, chairman of the Atlanta Commission for Black Catholic concerns, she called the historic ceremony, a true replica of Pentecost.
Roscoe Thomas of St. Paul of the Cross and Mrs. Adele Summerhour of Our Lady of Lourdes represented the black Catholics in the archdiocese during the presentation to the archbishop of various groups. Businessman Rawson Haverty and Sandi Odendahl of the Atlanta Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women were representatives for the archdiocese.
Mrs. Summerhour said at the reception that she had been surprised when she received a phone call asking her to participate. A former schoolteacher at Lourdes for over 30 years she was accompanied by Nettie Singleton, another longtime Lourdes parishioner, for over 60 years.
The Rev. McClellon D. Cox, associate pastor at Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Auburn Avenue, said the installation was a tribute to the Catholic archdiocese, but also to the whole people of Atlanta. In the ceremony, with its interweaving of cultures, God was given glory, he commented.
His observation was shared by two Cleveland women who had traveled for 13 hours by bus to come to the installation Mass. The colorful celebration was a witness to Addie Gonsalves, a grandmother of three children. Were all His people, she said. Its about time we started acting like it.
It was very momentous for me just to be here, to be present, to feel the presence of the Lord, said Delores Breckenridge, her companion. Its a great step forward for the Church to really know we are a universal Church.
Brother James from the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers carried a colorful hanging basket of pinks into the huge auditorium and was finally able to deliver the gift, grown in the monastery greenhouse at the reception afterwards.
Josephite priests, whose order marked their 100th anniversary of the establishment of their Baltimore seminary this year, were especially proud of their fellow Josephite.
Father Eugene P. McManus, superior general of the order, said he counted at least 100 of the orders 170 priests at the Mass. Were operating on automatic pilot today, he said. A founding goal of the society, he said, was to develop an American black clergy which would provide leaders for evangelizing black Americans.
Today, he said, this is fulfilled in symbolic and substance.
(Rita McInerney also contributed to this story)