What I Have Seen and Heard
Published: January 19, 2012
Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy and his enduring presence hold a unique place within the heart of this Archdiocese. Atlanta, after all, was his home as a young man and later the privileged location where he exercised the zenith of his pastoral career. Atlanta was the place where his funeral was held and is now the resting place for his mortal remains. Atlanta is forever identified with his mission and with his personal history. This must be a source of pride for all those of us who now call Atlanta our home, no matter where we might have originated.
As we recall his legacy during this time of year, we should also remember that he was concerned about a great many other social issues in his lifetime well beyond that of advancing civil rights for African-American peoples. Dr. King was deeply involved with the peace movement, with the plight of those who were economically underprivileged, and with the moral fabric of our nation. His greatness touched the lives of millions of people representing all of the citizens of our nation. He specifically challenged African-Americans to rise up to the obligations that belong to all those who are fortunate enough to claim freedom as a birthright. Dr. King challenged African-Americans, and indeed all men and women, to care about one another and then to act upon that concern.
That challenge was the reason for this year’s archdiocesan King Celebration motto: “Here I am Lord, I will hold your people in my heart” and for the alliance that our Office for Black Catholic Ministry and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul have jointly embraced—an enormous 10-ton food drive intended to restock the food pantries run by the St. Vincent de Paul Society throughout the Archdiocese and in some cases to begin food distribution locations in places where hunger often goes unnoticed.
We may be quite aware of the presence of hungry people in urban settings, yet we also should remember that there are many hungry men, women and children who live in rural settings and who often remain hidden from public view. The 10-ton food drive is intended to help hungry people throughout the Archdiocese of Atlanta—irrespective of their location, race, religion or ethnicity.
In memory of Dr. King and reflective of our own Catholic faith, this drive responds to the highest principles of humanity—to care for those who need us. Dr. King’s holiday has become identified with service projects and outreach. This collaborative effort, which will extend until Easter, is thus in keeping with that tradition.
I am grateful that our Office for Back Catholic Ministry is teaming up with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to take on this worthy project. During the next few months you will hear more about this endeavor and you will be invited to support it. You may find food collection barrels at your parishes or schools. Your youngsters may take on this project as a service venture through their schools. Other organizations may lend their support to the food drive—all in the name of a man who challenged us to be concerned about all those who are poor.
May his legacy and moral vision touch the hearts of all of us as we honor him and the work that he did beginning here in Atlanta—his home and now ours as well.