Local News Archive
Print Issue: January 7, 1993
Evening Service, Archbishop Never Passed His Burdens On
At Evening Prayer Dec. 28, members of the Church of Atlanta had their first chance to begin expressing their feelings of loss as they welcomed the body of Archbishop James Patterson Lyke, OFM, to the Cathedral of Christ the King.
The opening hymn, Abide With Me, selected by Archbishop Lyke, appropriately could be sung by each in the gathering of close family members and extended church family; of young and old; lay, Religious and priests; black, white Hispanic and Oriental who filled the cathedral.
Clothed in the Franciscan habit, the symbol of simplicity and poverty he had worn in life, the body of Archbishop Lyke was placed in the center aisle before the altar. Monsignor Edward Dillon, archdiocesan administrator, led the service.
The liturgy had been planned by the archbishop and bore the stamp of his elegant yet simple liturgical style.
Shine thru the gloom and point me to the skies; Heavns morning breaks and earths vain shadow flee in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me! sang the Cathedral Choir and congregation.
Father Patrick Bishop, leader of the priests council, delivered the homily for the service. He remembered his first impression of Atlantas fourth archbishop as unsettling. The new leader had told the gathering of priests that although he had come to love and shepherd them, his greatest concern was for the people of Atlanta and they would receive his first attention.
And who will heal us? Father Bishop remembers asking silently until he realized that the new archbishop knew the deeper truth.
It was the powerful Spirit of Wisdom that told you the obvious answer, A healthy church will heal you.
The archbishops vision embraced the entire church of Atlanta, the homilist recalled. Listening with both his ears and heart to his brother priests, he could disagree with them in lively debate, but he always knew it (the debate) was because we loved the same people and wanted the same things for them.
Recalling that Archbishop Lyke never let the controversy he faced become someone elses burden, Father Bishop said he often shouldered our mistakes so that we wouldnt look bad.
As chief liturgist the archbishop had given his priests an example of how to pray the Mass, Father Bishop recalled, noting his forthright acclamations and gentle incantations during the liturgy.
He would always inquire about the people of the parish when talking to Father Bishop on the phone, but on a parish visit would also tell the parishioners, Be good to him, hes a good priest.
Father Bishop reminded his listeners of Easter and its promise, but concluded that for tonight, I think it is fair to stand in a hushed church, perhaps trying to hide tears in a winters darkness.
Archbishop Lykes nephew Andrew and his wife, Terri, spoke on behalf of the Lyke family at the close of the service. The younger man said his uncle had been intimately involved in their lives and when he entered the seminary Andrew feared the Church had taken him away from his family. But as the young Jimmy had been instrumental in bringing first his mother and then most of the rest of the family into the Catholic Church, he continued to be a catalyst for the family, and a positive male role model.
I feel so blessed. My children can look to a true hero, a beloved uncle whose life they were very much a part of. Terri Lyke called the archbishop my rich uncle who gave us so many treasures that will last our whole lives.
Archbishop Lyke has approved the details of the liturgical services to be held at the time of his death. He worked with the members of his staff, the chancellor and vicar general, Kevin Culver from the Cathedral of Christ the King and Father Louis Naughton.
He wanted it to be simple. He wanted brevity. He specifically said no one should eulogize him, said Gerard OConnor, his administrative assistant.