What I Have Seen and Heard
Published: February 15, 2007
February is not usually associated with the celebration of many new things—in fact, it is the month that seems to elicit a slump in our mood, as we no longer have the excitement of the Christmas spirit and are not yet ready for the freshness of spring. Yet this February has been a bit different here in the Archdiocese of Atlanta because we have witnessed three new moments of exhilaration that defy the usual February gloom!
St. Mary Magdalene in Coweta County held a festive celebration of the dedication of its new parish church and complex—it was a splendid event that capped a long and generous effort on the part of this youthful parish community. The building is a tribute to their generosity and reflects the growing Catholic presence in that part of the archdiocese. St. Mary’s neighboring parishes of St. George and Holy Trinity were well represented by clergy and faithful who came to witness this triumph by their youthful neighbor. The music, the pageantry, and the joyful spirit of pride made for a special joy for all of this local Church during the usually sober month of February. I congratulate all of the parishioners, the benefactors, and especially Father Dan Fleming for providing us with such an uplifting moment this February. The enthusiasm and happiness of this dedication is a sure sign that new and wonderful things will continue to happen in this growing community of St. Mary Magdalene.
Last Saturday, we gained 13 new deacons as I had the privilege of ordaining the class of 2007 for our diaconate community. More than 100 deacons, along with the wives, children, grandchildren, and friends of these men filled the Cathedral of Christ the King for this special day in their lives. I was joined by my brother priests, many of whom will be the first pastors for the new deacons as we prayed for a long, fruitful and happy ministry of service for these, our newest servant ministers of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. A few of the new deacons may well be the first deacon assigned in a particular parish. I know that parishioners everywhere will come to appreciate the zealous service of these fine men. It was therefore a happy day, not only for the individual deacons and their families, but for all of the members of the Family of the Church in North Georgia.
And then this past Sunday morning, I visited Sacred Heart Church in Hartwell to dedicate their new parish hall. This industrious community undertook an impressive task as they raised the funds for and oversaw the construction of a beautiful new facility to serve the needs of this community close to the South Carolina border. Some of the parishioners at Sacred Heart actually live across the South Carolina border but have found a church home in Hartwell. Father Terry Kane welcomed me to the Sunday Eucharist that preceded the dedication ceremony and spoke affectionately and proudly of the generosity and vitality of the Sacred Heart community. Sacred Heart has a growing Latino and Vietnamese community along with many members who have lake resort houses in the parish. The new parish hall will allow the community to reconfigure its current parish facility to accommodate more effectively the growing pastoral and catechetical needs of the parish. There was much excitement and a great deal of satisfaction as the parishioners who took leadership in this project proudly thanked all of the contributors and benefactors. I was particularly grateful to hear the parish family thank Dennis Kelly from Catholic Construction for the splendid assistance that Catholic Construction provided for the entire project—he and his family beamed as proudly as did all of the parishioners at what God had accomplished through their efforts.
These three events certainly cast a different light on February as we continue to see the growth and development of our archdiocese—even during a month not commonly noted for its excitement!