Local News Archive
Print Issue: July 20, 2000
Awards Pay Tribute To Senior Parishioners
By Priscilla Greear, Staff Writer
ATLANTASt. Paul of the Cross Church recognized senior parishioners who have blazed trails of hope, compassion and social justice for over 40 years in their African-American parish as well as in the community of Collier Heights and the city of Atlanta.
Pastor Father Melvin Shorter, CP, presented the 2nd annual Trailblazer Awards at morning Mass May 21 to eight parishioners for outstanding service since the parish was founded in 1954.
Honorees were Deacon Leon Allain, who died June 20, and his wife, Gloria, Bernese Meyer, William Leggett, Clifford and Jacquelyn Chandler, Regina Sanford and Catherine Goolsby.
The pastor read a congratulatory letter from Gov. Roy Barnes, as well as proclamations from Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell and the Fulton County Board of Commissioners designating the date as St. Paul of the Cross Trailblazer Awards Day.
Reflecting the pioneer parishioners contributions, the Gospel reading told of Jesus commandment for his followers to remain in him and to bear fruit. The pastor opened his homily describing his encounter with a man at a bus stop who said that for his whole life he had been waiting for something, whether to finish school, get married or die.
Most of us are like that man. We are never comfortable in the present moment. There is always something out there, something else that we want. We never seem to have enough ... I do that all the time. Im not comfortable in the present moment, but what is it Jesus says in the Gospel? Remain in me and I will remain in you. What Jesus is saying to his disciples and to all of us is to just be patient in the present moment because I am with you always and there is nothing too big or too difficult for the two of us to handle, he said.
You dont need a million dollars to be well off in Christ Jesus ... You are already well off. Enjoy the moment. When you do sit back and enjoy the moment just think how wonderful it is ... We do not have to have all the answers.
He encouraged parishioners to follow the trailblazers lead. What is the fruit that Jesus is asking us to bear? It is simply the Gospel message. Give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked. Give housing to the homeless; love one another as I have loved you. Forgive one another of their faults, bear one anothers grievances, he said. For parents this means accepting our children as they are, not as what we want them to be. So what if theyre not Rhodes scholars, but they are creations of God and they belong to you. Love them as they are. Children, accept your parents as they are.
The pastor told how his sister once sought a shoulder on which to cry and lay her many woes. He responded by letting her have it instead of listening without judgment, in imitation of Christ.
Thats the fruit that Jesus is asking us to bearto love one another as he loved us. There is not one person in this room that Jesus has judged. God has opened his heart to all of us even though time and time again we have sinned and gone on. God has always called us by name and not by sin, he continued. Christianity is not impossible. Yes, it is difficult, but Jesus says, Remain in me and I remain in you and there will be no difficulty because the two of us will bear much fruit.
Reading from the mayors proclamation, the pastor said that honorees were instrumental in laying the physical and spiritual foundation for the parish. They have diligently and unselfishly given of their time, talent and treasure while working for quality, justice and economic support for all people, uplifting their parish and enhancing the well-being of the community through extensive outreach, he said.
Each honoree received a carved glass block with an inscription.
Parishioners for over 30 years, the Allains helped to plan the parish 40th anniversary celebration. They have helped beautify the parish and grounds, have served as case sponsors for the Metropolitan Tribunal in the annulment process and have served as fund-raisers for the Morehouse School of Medicine. Mrs. Allain is a member of the womens society, a lector and eucharistic minister and the late Deacon Allain was ordained to the permanent diaconate in 1982, served on the parish council and finance committee and was a life member of the NAACP.
Clifford and Jacquelyn Chandler, in over 30 years at the parish, have served on the pastoral council and liturgy committee, directed Passion Sunday and Good Friday pageants and are ministers of the Eucharist and special ministers to the sick. Outside the parish they are members of the Highpoint Community Association.
Mr. Chandler was appointed to the Carnegie Commission on improving minority education and Mrs. Chandler is past president of the Georgia Association of Nurse Anesthetists. She received the Rosalie McDonald Award in 1997 as the most outstanding nurse anesthetist in Georgia.
In her 30 years at the church, Regina Sanford has served on the pastoral care committee, as president of the pastoral council and as a Grand Lady of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of Peter Claver. She is involved with the Jolly Bunch, Bible study, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and chairs the AIDS Walk. Sanford is also a member of the Tribunal Committee for Atlanta public schools, the archdiocesan social action committee, the implementation team for the Office for Black Catholic Ministry and chairs the outreach program at Sadie Mays Home for her community block club.
An over 40-year member, Catherine Goolsby is chair of the pastoral care ministry, a member of the liturgy committee, womens society and the Jolly Bunch. She works with eucharistic ministers and the breakfast committee, participates in Bible study and is a past Grand Lady of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of Peter Claver.
Bernese Meyer, a 36-year parishioner, is a member of the womens society, hospitality committee, rosary society and pastoral care committee. A past president of the pastoral council and the altar rosary society, she was named parish woman of the year in 1978. An active Girl Scout leader, she received the St. Ann Medal, the highest Catholic Scouting honor. She has served on the Human Resources Board of Georgia, and volunteers at her alma mater Morris Brown College, at Habitat for Humanity and the NAACP.
William Leggett is president of the mens club, serves on the pastoral care committee and the parking lot watch committee, was a member of the census committee and helped create the anniversary journal for the parishs 40th anniversary celebration. A 44-year member of the parish, he coached the basketball and track teams at the parish school and has been treasurer of the Valleydale Community Club and election chairman of Neighborhood Planning Unit I.
The congregation enjoyed a reception afterwards at which parishioner Mason Johnson played jazz on the keyboard and parishioners expressed joy for their awards. Deacon Allain described his love for the church.
Its most rewarding because the work that I do in the parish I enjoy, he said. I accept the honor, but I would do the work without it because I love my church ... There are two things that I find (most) rewarding. Number one, I find preaching rewarding because I get more out of preaching than the parishioners do and I also enjoy working with married couples. My wife and I conduct marriage preparation. Its rewarding to see them come to the church.
Gloria Allain was deeply honored when recognized for work she believes in and that her husband motivated her to do. We believe in our faith and its a way we can repay our church by doing all the things that were doing, Mrs. Allain said. We have a wonderful priest and we dont mind doing things because he is very nice.
Meyer was also touched by the recognition. Its very special. I love my church and I love the Lord and Im just glad to serve. It motivates me to be of service, she said, adding that her husband is her primary support.
She traces her desire to serve back to her childhood when she used to give away peaches her family got from a nearby farm before members had a chance to can them. She also ran a neighborhood beauty salon.
Shes very much concerned about the community, the church, her school and her sorority and has demonstrated (that) by the time that she puts into her work in these areas, her husband, Archie, said. It has to be the Spirit of God. You cant describe it any other way. When theres a call, theres a need (and) shes involved in it.
Alflorence Wadkins, chair of the committee that initiated the awards, said that honorees had to be at least 30-year parishioners and 60 years of age.
We just wanted to honor them so that our young people will recognize them ... and let the young people know how much we appreciate how much is being done and whats being done ... Wed like them to appreciate the seniors and understand all the work they do and maybe that would encourage them and make them see some of the things they can do also. Its definitely like a family affair to bring the church family together, she said.
Michelle Williams, 40, cantor during Mass, agreed. I think we need to give them credit for what they do because without them we wouldnt have a church. Its amazing what some of them have done.
THIS IS THE DAY --
Pastor Father Melvin Shorter, CP, reads a civic proclamation recognizing the
contributions made to the church and the community of Collier Heights by the
eight parishioners honored May 21