What I Have Seen and Heard
Published: June 2, 2005
Last weekend I visited my 50th parish in the Archdiocese—I have almost that many to go before I can say that I have been at each community of faith within this local Church. It is a challenge—but also a joy—to respond to the many invitations that I have received to be present with our people.
Several weeks ago, a gentleman at one of the parishes that I had visited asked me this question, “What’s your favorite parish, Archbishop?” I immediately recognized the landmine! No bishop can have a “favorite parish” any more than a parent can have a “favorite child.”
I must and really do love each community for being the community that it is. Comparisons are really inadequate.
Each parish is a unique assembly of believers. The small ones enjoy the intimacy of feeling close because every one seems to know every one else. The larger ones can accomplish many rewarding projects and activities because of the sheer numbers and resources that are at their disposal. New parishes have the excitement of being pioneers and the great adventure of establishing a new community, while the older parishes have legacies and memories that make them special.
Each different parish has a flavor and a personality that distinguishes them, and I feel deeply honored whenever I visit them and learn about their heritage and their composition.
In spite of the individuality of our parishes, there is always present a very healthy spirit of competition among the various communities. This no doubt prompted the question about being the “archbishop’s favorite parish” in the first place. Competition is a wholesome way of looking at oneself. We all enjoy a competitive spirit when it results in helping us to improve.
The same type of competition that can be found among parishes can be found among dioceses as well. This weekend, the Archdiocese of Atlanta will celebrate our 10th Eucharistic Congress. This Atlanta tradition has drawn the attention of other dioceses who have heard of the tremendous spiritual advantages that have accrued to this local Church because of our focus on the great gift of the Eucharist. One of those dioceses is the Archdiocese of Chicago—my original home community. This weekend, representatives from the Archdiocese of Chicago will be here to participate in our Eucharistic Congress in order to see how we manage to pull off such an event.
In truth, since this will be my first Eucharistic Congress, I too shall be interested in learning how so many people can come together for so many different religious events throughout the day.
But there will also be a special sense of satisfaction and pride that I will enjoy just knowing that the Archdiocese of Chicago, which is so much larger and older than we are as an archdiocese, is coming to Atlanta to learn from our experience. Maybe it’s that spirit of competition that exists among parishes and dioceses that fills me with more than a little satisfaction at what we have accomplished through the wise leadership of Archbishop John Francis Donoghue and all those many men and women who have sponsored and supported the Eucharistic Congresses in the past.
Come on down, Chicago, and see how it’s done—you’re most welcome, and we ask you to excuse us as we bask in our success.
May the Lord Jesus and His Blessed Mother make us both better dioceses and much holier people!