What I Have Seen and Heard
Published: February 22, 2007
I’ve seen and heard quite a bit over the past week—more than usual, I might add!
I was invited by the Atlanta Rabbinical Association to have lunch with them and to offer some personal reflections on the state of Catholic-Jewish relations locally, nationally and internationally. My hosts could not have been more cordial or more open to seeking ways to improve and to strengthen our relations. The Catholic Church in North Georgia has a long and cherished friendship with our Jewish brothers and sisters. I consider that association to be vitally important and a proud legacy of all my predecessors in office—in a special way dating back to Archbishop Paul Hallinan. I assured the Atlanta rabbis that Catholics in North Georgia treasured our affiliation with them and that we were working to make a great friendship even stronger. In particular, I told them of the collaboration that exists between Jewish leaders and a number of our high schools to ensure that the horrors and the hatred that was the Shoah will never be forgotten or repeated.
Last Tuesday, I celebrated Mass with a group of home-school families and that was a sheer delight! Home-school families face many challenges, and yet they always seem to respond to those complications with Faith and ingenuity. I am pleased to support families who choose home schooling as an educational option even though I know that many families simply cannot follow that path in educating their children.
The dominant reason that most families home school is so that the parents can have quality time with their kids and a hands-on involvement in the education of their children. So for those who are able to and who are so inclined to engage in this form of teaching and forming their children, I offer a word of best wishes, and of course I assure them of my prayers. Both here in Atlanta and in the Diocese of Belleville, I have always found our home-schooled kids to be bright, energetic, self-assured and socially well-adjusted. Our home-school families are finding ways to connect with each other and to share their triumphs and tragedies. The only drawback to home schooling seems to be the lack of “snow days!”
I began the week with a Mass with and for some of our disabled Catholics. These wonderful folks have devoted themselves to the care of their children—or grandchildren—so that they can share fully in the life of the Church. We all need to remember the many people who live with disabilities and yet who continue to engage in the life of our community. St. Jude’s Parish once again hosted this annual gathering and proudly pledged itself to be engaged in welcoming and caring for those with disabilities in the future. What I saw and heard at that Mass filled me with pride as members of our community of Faith joyfully took their places within the assembly of God’s People.
This Wednesday the Church throughout the world will begin our Lenten pilgrimage. With a humble and contrite heart let us follow the Lord during these 40 days so that we will rise with Him anew at Easter. Lenten blessings to all of you, my dear brothers and sisters.