What I Have Seen And Heard
Published: June 10, 2010
As is typically the case with any significant parish event, there are usually many people who work quietly behind the scenes to make special celebrations go smoothly. The behind-the-scenes folks often prefer not to step into the limelight; they like being the workforce that goes about their business without much fanfare. Occasionally even when the list of contributors is being assembled, they insist on not having their names included.
Nevertheless our Eucharistic Congresses are much more than simple parish events, and they depend upon the assistance of countless hundreds of volunteers, donors and helpers and therefore I would like to draw those wonderful folks into the limelight of this column! You were spectacular! As I roamed the halls of the Georgia International Convention Center, I saw so many folks who were quietly helping this Congress go smoothly, and they were successful well beyond their ability to know. I thank them in my name and in the names of all of those who attended this year’s Eucharistic Congress.
My own staff, who have become the experts in helping to make this event go smoothly, were simply wonderful. Many of them brought their spouses and kids to the event, and it was great seeing so many of the family members of our Chancery employees. Once again, I want to thank them for making this event, which the whole Archdiocese experiences as one parish, so successful.
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory holds the chalice in his hands during the consecration at the closing Mass of the 15th annual Eucharistic Congress. (Photo by Michael Alexander)
My bishop friends were once again so impressed with the Congress and with the vibrancy of faith of our folks. As happens each year, they asked for our planning notes and any written documentation of how this celebration occurs with such enthusiasm each year. I was happy to have our folks send those notes this year to Boston and Vancouver, but what I think that they really wanted to take with them (and certainly cannot have) was the joy, the faith, the enthusiasm and the religious spirit of the people of the Archdiocese of Atlanta who plan, staff, volunteer and attend the Congress. Thanks to all of them!
In addition to the speakers who came from other places, some of our own people played key roles in this year’s Congress. Father Jack Durkin and Bishop Luis Zarama helped to launch the two days with prayerful and spirited opening events. Our own Deacon Dennis Dorner gave just a splendid presentation and demonstrated another wonderful dimension of his generous service to this local Church. Our priests came in record numbers to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to concelebrate the closing Mass. At one point we actually ran out of designated places where the confessors could receive the penitents who sought that Sacrament. These generous priests added a couple of hours to an already busy Saturday schedule to stop by the Congress, visit with some of their parishioners, hear confessions and support the spirit of joy that was so obvious and uplifting.
Sunday morning, I celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation at St. Anthony’s Parish in the West End. More than a few people there came up to me and told me that they were at the Congress and had a splendid time meeting so many of the folks from throughout the Archdiocese of Atlanta—especially meeting people from other cultures and ethnic traditions who give us such an international flavor and religious enthusiasm. So once again, I say thanks to all those who make this special event possible and always joyful.