What I Have Seen And Heard
Published: September 2, 2010
This summer three special celebrations came together on my calendar, and they all honored and offered an opportunity for us to express our gratitude to some of the women religious serving in the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
On Aug. 12, I celebrated Mass with the Visitation Sisters in Snellville as they observed the 400th anniversary of their foundation by St. Jane Frances de Chantal. We are graced to have had some of her daughters as residents of this local Church for the past 56 years, arriving here two years even before the establishment of the Diocese of Atlanta.
The Visitation Sisters are engaged in the ministry of prayer—they are a cloistered community and within the confines of that monastery, they pray for the Archdiocese of Atlanta along with the needs of many people who ask for their prayers. The list is longer than I might imagine. During my visit, I was formally introduced to their newest residents: two Great Pyrenees named Peter and Paul. These two pooches are not exactly members of the community, but they do bring much joy to the sisters and generally they offer a big surprise to those who might happen to meet them!
On Wednesday, Sept. 1, I celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving for the ministry of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart here in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. For more than 73 years, these wonderful women have been in service to this local Church. There are so many wonderful memories of their care for the people—especially the students of our Catholic schools that we hold dear whenever we think of the Grey Nuns.
These women religious, in imitation of their foundress, St. Marguerite d’Youville, have also made the needs of the social outcasts and the marginalized their concern. From their foundation in Canada, they have identified with the welfare of the poor and those whose voices are often overlooked by society. As the Grey Nuns take leave of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, I want to assure them of two things—that we are most grateful for the many years of service they leave as a legacy here in North Georgia and that we will not allow them to pass from our hearts. We hold dear their entire community, and our parish of St. Marguerite d’Youville will remain as a physical memory of their blessed presence in this community.
Finally on Saturday I will celebrate Mass with the Missionaries of Charity at the Gift of Grace House in observance of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, their foundress. Because of Mother Teresa’s worldwide recognition, we know that these sisters are following in the footsteps of a modern-day saint. They work quietly among many of those whose lives have been so devastated by HIV/AIDS. Once again, in the heart of the city of Atlanta, the Gospel comes alive in the compassionate care that these fine women religious provide for the least of His sisters and brothers.
In each one of these three celebrations, I praise God for the charisms of the foundresses of these three communities of sisters. The world has been changed for the better because of the faith and service of the daughters of Jane Frances de Chantal, Marguerite d’Youville and Teresa of Calcutta. And we are a much stronger Church because these daughters have lived in our midst. Thank you, sisters!