Local News Archive
Print Issue: January 5, 1995
Nine Monsignors Invested; Sally Grubbs Receives Papal Honor
By Gretchen Keiser and Kathi Stearns, Staff Writers
ATLANTA--Honors given to nine priests of the archdiocese and to the archbishops staff member Sally Grubbs are a tribute to them but also an honor for the entire church. Archbishop John Donoghue said Dec. 20.
Speaking moments before the priests were invested as monsignors with the rank of prelate of honor, Archbishop Donoghue quoted St. Pauls letter to the Romans, which advises each Christian not to exaggerate his real importance, but to judge himself soberly.
The papal honor of monsignor and that given to Mrs. Grubbs of Dame of the Order of St. Gregory the Great with the rank of commander are honors that belong to all the members of this church because of the unity of the Body of Christ, the archbishop said. Ultimately the honor comes from and will return to the Lord Jesus Christ.
However the honorees, whose family members, longtime friends and parishioners filled the Cathedral of Christ the King to capacity, were being singled out as faithful servants of the local church, he said. It pleases us to honor those of our local family who have done well.
The nine new monsignors are Msgr. Walter J. Donovan, a retired priest who celebrated his golden jubilee in 1994 and began serving when the Diocese of Savannah-Atlanta comprised the state of Georgia; Msgr. Peter A. Dora, archdiocesan spokesman and pastor of St. Josephs Parish, Athens; Msgr. Henry C. Gracz, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish, Hapeville, and vicar for clergy; Msgr. Donald A. Kenny, chancellor of the archdiocese and vocations director; Msgr. Thomas A. Kenny, rector of the Cathedral; Msgr. Louis Naughton, judicial vicar of the Metropolitan Tribunal; Msgr. Daniel J. OConnor, former Secretary for Education and pastor of St. Jude Parish, Sandy Springs; Msgr. Francis Pham Van Phuong, administrator of Our Lady of Vietnam Mission, Forest Park and Msgr. Terry W. Young, Secretary for Education, past longtime principal of St. Pius X High School and pastor of St. Benedicts Parish, Duluth.
The procession into the Cathedral for vespers began with Mrs. Grubbs, escorted by Father Stewart Wilber, and then the monsignors wearing magenta cassocks. Later each of the priests was vested with a white rochet by the archbishop.
The papal medal in the form of the insignia of the Knights of St. Gregory was given to Mrs. Grubbs by the archbishop after he had lauded her as an indefatigable servant of each successive archbishop of Atlanta since the early 1960s. Her zeal has never flagged for an instant and those who know her have certainly felt the reliable glow of her energy, Archbishop Donoghue said.
She has served her Lord through the best and worst of times -- she has been a friend to literally thousands of people here and abroad. Standing to the left of the altar while the nine monsignors and eight rows of priest launched the nights only standing ovation, Mrs. Grubbs told the archbishop, Im going to cry. He hugged her, but then stepped aside as she faced the applause. Her family beamed and cried.
Her daughter, Betty Martin, recalled that when her mother told her about the award, The first thing she told me was that she didnt deserve it.
She doesnt like to be in the spotlight, but I know shes very happy. This is a tremendous honor for her.
Mrs. Grubbs granddaughter, Tammy Martin, great niece Ellen Krol and godchild Beverley Krol, fought back tears as Mrs. Grubbs received her medal from Archbishop Donoghue. She always puts herself last, said Beverley. She is the most wonderful, dedicated, loving and giving person that you will ever meet in this world. She is the type of person who is concerned about your health when she is uncomplainingly ill. She truly deserves this recognition.
After the honor to Mrs. Grubbs, the nine new monsignors approached the archbishop to be vested and recognized individually.
Msgr. Gracz not only gives of himself for his parish family but also makes time for his immediate family, according to his godson and nephew Mark Evaniak.
I remember that he showed up at my first communion in 1966, one year after he had been ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Evaniak said. Despite his hectic schedule he traveled all the way to St. Matthews in Buffalo to spend the day with me. No matter what was going on his life he always made time for family.
Members of the parish community of St. John the Evangelist believe that Msgr. Gracz has worked to maintain and intensify an environment where familial love and caring are the parish communitys strength, Deacon Henry Akers recalled how Msgr. Gracz worked with him and his family as he recovered from cancer surgery in May, 1994, only to suffer a heart attack two months later; this was followed by a life threatening infection.
It was his intervention that gave my family hope and gave me the will to withstand everything, Deacon Akers said. It was almost as if he was going through what I was going through. Ive experienced firsthand his love and compassion. I dont know how he has time for everybody, but he makes time. What he does for those in crisis is magnificent.
Msgr. Young was joined by personal and parish guests as well as former students, faculty and staff from St. Pius X High School where he served as principal for 15 years.
Pat OConnell, a former faculty member of St. Pius and parent of four St. Pius graduates, recalled the compassion and humanity of Msgr. Young when one of his children experienced difficulties during his high school career.
Terry Young had the gift of meeting the students just where he was, Mrs. OConnell said. Despite his Roman collar and position of authority the kids were able to reach him far better than they could to many lay people.
Her eldest son, Brendan, believes that Msgr. Young made a special effort to take him under his wing. Hes the only reason I graduated from high school. He had a belief in me that no one else had, Brendan said.
Msgr. Youngs mother, Jean Smith, of Naples, Fla., attended the investiture service and was beaming with pride. It is very inspiring and heartwarming to know that my son has come so far in his religious life and has been recognized for his endeavors.
It is nice to see someone who has worked behind the scenes for the diocese, who has worked so hard and strives so hard to be recognized, said Martha Gaynoe of Gulf Breeze, Fla., a former St. Pius staff member who has taught alongside Msgr. Young in several schools for 20 years.
Parishioners at St. Jude the Apostle believe that the investiture of Msgr. OConnor was an affirmation of the pastors active faith.
He has always had a lot of faith in God, his parishioners, and his staff, and it all works together very nicely, said Barbara Poole, principal of St. Jude the Apostle School. Every decision he has made has been based on his faith and has resulted in a loving, caring and supportive environment.
Parishioners recall how Msgr. OConnor greets parishioners before or after the celebration of Mass, always with a smile on his face and able to match names with faces because he personally cares so much about each individual in his faith community.
Tony Stevens, director of development at St. Pius X High School, said Msgr. OConnor has been a surrogate father to him since his own father died. Daniel OConnor has been the gel that has kept my family together, Stevens said. Msgr. OConnor buried both of Stephens parents and concelebrated or celebrated the wedding of each of his siblings. He has been with us through everything; through the good and the bad times he has been family.
Its about time, joked Msgr. OConnors longtime collaborator Sister Valentina Sheridan, RSM. And if it werent for me he wouldnt be there yet.
Members of Our Lady of Vietnam Mission said the honor given to their administrator, Msgr. Phuong, was shared by the tightly knit community as an honor to the whole people. For priests who are Vietnamese (in the U.S.) we only have about three monsignors, said Luk Tuan Nguyen. We are very proud for him and also for my parish.
I think he deserves the honor, said Tuan Tran. Through him we have grown to be a large community. Through him we are trying to have a new church. The 450 families in the mission have pledged to raise a quarter of a million dollars for a new church, Tran said.
Relatives of Msgr. Phoung and mission members filled three pews at the cathedral, beaming, applauding and standing on the pews to get a better view of his investiture by Archbishop Donoghue.
Nearby 11-year-old John Wallace whooped and gave an exuberant closed-fist cheer for the priest he calls Father D.
Msgr. Walter Donovan was the director of Catholic relief aid for the Diocese of Savannah-Atlanta over 40 years ago when John Wallaces mother, Loretta Totis Wallace, then five, and her parents and siblings, arrived in the U.S. as displaced persons following World War II.
They had nothing and spoke no English, but they were met at the train by Father D, who gave Baby Ruth bars to the children and communicated with the Italian-speaking parents in Latin.
He took care of us. He saw that my father got a job. I was five years old. Im 47 now, recalled Mrs. Wallace, resident of Marietta. Her twin brothers, who were then three years old, and her 10-year-old sister Maria also formed lifelong bonds with the priest and came from New Jersey and Philadelphia respectively with their children for the investiture as a monsignor. We are so proud of him, said Mrs. Wallace, and he could care less (about the honors). Hes just one of those guys. We wish he could be pope.
The parishioners of the Cathedral of Christ the King felt the investiture of Msgr. Tom Kenny was a result of their rectors vision for the spiritual growth of his parish.
He has helped so many parishioners develop their spirituality, said Marcia Edwards, secretary of the parish council. He believes if the individual people of the parish become spiritually stronger that the parish as a whole grows together forming a strong faith community.
He is so effective in getting the people to do what needs to be done, said parishioner Roger White who works closely with Msgr. Kenny at the cathedral. He is a pleasure to work with.
Three of the priest honored provide significant service in key ministerial areas of the archdiocese.
Msgr. Dora, who is pastor of St. Josephs Parish, Athens, has served as the primary spokesman for the archdiocese, a role which called him to respond to public and media questions about every sensitive and controversial situation the church has faced over the past eight years.
He is also a former officialis of the Metropolitan Marriage Tribunal where annulment proceedings are considered and worked for nine years in that archdiocesan ministry. While there he designed a computer program to handle the unique technological problems facing Catholic marriage tribunals, a program that is now in use in other diocesan tribunals around the country. He is also a former editor of The Georgia Bulletin.
Also serving the archdiocese in the area of canon law is Msgr. Naughton, who is currently the judicial vicar of the Metropolitan Tribunal. Before entering seminary, he was trained as an engineer and his background cemented a friendship with Serran Chris Quigley and his wife Francie. Quigley, who is also an engineer educated at Notre Dame, admires Msgr. Naughtons intelligence, reflected in his homilies, and in his pre-ordination technical papers.
His homilies are also appreciated by the Sisters of the Visitation in Snellville where Msgr. Naughton regularly celebrates Mass for the cloistered order.
Before Msgr. Donald Kenny was appointed chancellor and director of vocations for the archdiocese he was the dean of students at St. Pius X High School. As deal of students Msgr. Kenny was in charge of all discipline matters and was known for running a tight ship.
Yet on numerous occasions students could be found in Msgr. Kennys office receiving personal and spiritual guidance.
He knew when to set the rules aside and look at the individual student, said Pat OConnell, the former campus minister at St. Pius.
He realized that the students had to learn to accept responsibility for their actions but more importantly he believed that during that process there had to be some compassion and some hand-holding, he said.
Now a group to 50 to 60 seminarians benefit from his attentiveness and support, as he discerns their vocational call with them and provides ongoing support and friendship as they weather years of study, preparatory training and eventually diaconal and priestly ordination.