Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

What I Have Seen and Heard (April 14, 2005)

Published April 14, 2005

One of the frequent, if not favorite, questions that youngsters like to ask me is: “Is it fun being the Archbishop?” As we adults know, “having fun” is a major concern for young people. But it is interesting to understand what “having fun” means for a teenager. I suspect, if memory serves me well, for youngsters having fun means doing something that is personally satisfying, personally fulfilling and pleasing—although they would never use those terms.

My office brings me incredible satisfaction, fulfillment and joy. I have lots of “fun” being Archbishop—to borrow a term. The most satisfying activity for me is being with our people at parish visitations, visits to schools, celebrations of the Sacraments and Liturgy. I have most fun when I am with you and your children under a wide variety of circumstances. Those activities remind me of why I wanted to become a priest in the first place. I consider visiting the parishes and schools of the Archdiocese the most important activity that I perform. And I try to include as many of these visits into the week as I can.

My administrative responsibilities are also important and necessary, but they are not as much “fun” as my pastoral duties. As the Archbishop, I must attend to both. But going to meetings, doing desk work, preparing reports, drafting documents, reviewing fiscal accounts is not nearly as much “fun” as spending time with the people of this local Church.

As I visited parishes over this past weekend, St. Monica’s and St. Paul of the Cross, I realized once more just how wonderful our parish families are. Obviously there are challenges that every parish faces, but when our people come together in faith to celebrate a happy moment, like the confirmation of their children we observed at these two parishes, there is clear evidence of the health of these families of faith. Some people might imagine that these pastoral visits are time-consuming and perhaps exhausting, but for me they are energizing. I catch a glimpse of the enthusiasm, the faith, the generosity, the love and devotion that people have for their parish life. That makes my ministry both satisfying and fulfilling—you know, “fun”!

I meet the people of the Archdiocese during those visits, and that is always a gift and a blessing for me. It is also the best way for me to come to know the Archdiocese and to witness the deep faith, the hopes, the aspirations, and the love of our people.

It’s an accurate barometer of the health of this local Church.

My public calendar that is available in The Georgia Bulletin and on our Archdiocesan Web site only covers the ceremonial events and major meetings. It does not include the other activities that fill my week because those activities are generally not known far enough in advance to list them. But I think it is very important for me to let you know what I’m about on most days. It is not that my calendar is so important or so noteworthy. It’s just that I want all of you to know when the Archbishop is having fun—you know, being with all of you!

Perhaps our kids have it right after all.