Local News Archive
Print Issue: January 2, 1997
Cathedral Mass For Eucharistic Renewal
BY GRETCHEN KEISER
ATLANTA--Children from many countries carried flowers into Christ the King Cathedral Dec. 1 while musicians sang the name of Jesus, who brings unity amidst diversity.
The Mass celebrated on the first Sunday of Advent was the most recent event in the archdiocesan Eucharistic Renewal, a yearlong emphasis upon recognizing and reverencing the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
"Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ--yesterday, today and forever," sang the congregation, many garbed in festive or formal dress from native countries in Africa or Asia, their colors and fabrics easily outshining North American winter clothes.
Shimmering metallic fabric made up shawls known as iro and headpieces known as gele worn by women in one family from Nigeria. Francisca Ofili came to the Mass with her husband, children and other family members. Members of St. Philip Benizi Church in Jonesboro, they said in their native Nigeria the custom is not to receive the Eucharist unless one first goes to confession. Eucharistic processions and Benediction are common and the Eucharist is treated with great reverence and seriousness, Francisca Ofili said.
Throughout the Cathedral, African dashikis worn by men contrasted with bright coral and red fabric worn by African and African-American women and embroidered floor-length silk dresses in canary yellow and rose worn by women from Korea.
Musicians under the overall direction of Alan Brown came from Hispanic, Filipino, African-American and Korean Catholic communities, augmenting familiar parish music with a broad range of language and cadence. A hushed congregation listened as soloist Grace Lee sang Panis Angelicus in Korean and later in the Mass as Janis Griffin sang "In This Very Room" following Communion.
Priest concelebrants came from the U.S., India, Vietnam, Latin America and Africa, assisting Archbishop John F. Donoghue. Intercessory prayers were offered in eight languages and the Our Father was spoken together by the congregation in as many native tongues as were present in the church.
"In the earliest days of our Church, just after Christ ascended into heaven, it became immediately clear that the Gospel was going to be preached not just to a few, but to all men and women throughout the world," Archbishop Donoghue said in his homily. He cited the Scripture in which Jesus told the apostles, "You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth." The Acts of the Apostles also recounts the story of Peter preaching to "devout men from every nation under heaven" who each heard the message in his own language.
"We who have gathered here for this Mass, testify by our presence, the fact that the Church has not changed in this regard," Archbishop Donoghue continued. "Here, two thousand years later . . . we also have come together, to hear the Gospel preached, to pray to the Father in unity, and to receive, as His first and finest gift, the Body and Blood of Christ our Lord."
The archbishop said, "We are happy to gather in our diversity this afternoon to witness to the world, and to solemnly bring before God, the richness of our variations."
In that diversity the congregation reflects "a God who embraces all creation, all culture, all signs and languages, and all the feelings of which the human heart is capable," he continued.
Coming together as Catholics, yet displaying different dress, language and customs, the congregation gives thanks to God for all the rich and various gifts he has bestowed on different nations and peoples, Archbishop Donoghue noted. At the same time, the congregation is coming together in unity as fellow members of the universal Catholic Church and, in even deeper unity, as believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
"For it is there that Jesus speaks to every human heart, with no reference to sex, to nationality, to custom or to habit," Archbishop Donoghue said.
He encouraged Catholics to come frequently to Christ in the Eucharist in order to receive grace and strength for themselves and their families, to receive protection from danger and from temptations that weaken faith and hope, and to come to know Jesus personally as "the Living Love of God."
"At this Mass, and every day of our lives, let us unite and pray for one another, whatever our human and earthly heritage might be," he said, "and let us come often to the source of our strength and unity, the Holy Eucharist, the Sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood."
Following the homily Archbishop Donoghue consecrated the Eucharistic Renewal in the Archdiocese of Atlanta to Mary.
The theme for the Mass, "One Body, Many Parts," was taken from Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, "The body is one and has many parts, but all the parts, many though they are, are one body; and so it is with Christ." Participants were also asked to bring native foods to share at a reception afterward at the Hyland Center.
The multicultural Mass encouraged those who attended and may be done again in future years, according to Keri Allen, the chairwoman of the archdiocesan committee for the Eucharistic Renewal. The purpose was to make evident the diversity in the Catholic Church and the unity found in Christ, she said. But she also mentioned how important it is for people from various cultures to worship together in order to come to know one another.
"The more you get to know people in different cultures, the less separated you are, the more you can connect with brothers and sisters who don't look like you," Allen said.
"The Body of Christ doesn't look only like me," she said, adding, "thank God. It would be incomplete."
Those ethnic communities represented at the multicultural Mass Dec. 1 took part because the members of the archdiocesan committee took the word out to various communities, Allen said, and those who were able to participate responded. She was touched by "their enthusiasm, their innocence, their acceptance, their heart for serving the Lord. It was wonderful working with them."
Upcoming events as the Eucharistic Renewal continues in 1997 include a Life in the Eucharist Seminar that will be held Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at St. John Neumann Church in Lilburn and a day of reflection March 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Cathedral of Christ the King with Archbishop Donoghue and Father Richard Lopez. The archdiocesan Catechetical Institute in April will also focus on the Eucharist.
A major event will be the first anniversary celebration in June to be held at Marist School. Sister Briege McKenna and Father Kevin Scallon, CM, are scheduled to lead a healing service. Volunteers will be needed to help with this event and more information will be made available in the near future, Allen said.
CORPUS CHRISTI PERPETUAL ADORATION
Corpus Christi Parish in Stone Mountain inaugurates perpetual adoration of the Eucharist on Jan. 13 at a 7 p.m. Mass celebrated by Archbishop Donoghue. Parishioner Chris Paciorek who has been coordinating the schedule of volunteers said that more people are needed to ensure that at least one person is before the Blessed Sacrament at all times. However, she emphasized that anyone is welcome to come and pray in the Blessed Sacrament chapel at any time, regardless of whether they have the ability to sign up in advance as a volunteer. "I think it will be a great blessing for the parish. God is working," she said. The parish is located at 600 Mountain View Drive, Stone Mountain. To volunteer contact Paciorek at (770) 469-6535. This is the third parish in the archdiocese to establish perpetual adoration.