Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

What I Have Seen and Heard (October 5, 2006)

Published October 5, 2006

I spent a bit of quality time last week with some of our young people.

For openers, last Sunday, I visited the Cathedral Parish school of religion. There are more than 600 youngsters enrolled in religious education classes at the Cathedral Parish, and they are a source of great joy and a lot of energy on Sunday mornings! These youngsters spend part of their Sunday learning about our Catholic Faith, and the questions that they were able to ask the Archbishop assured me that the catechists are doing a fine job.

Many of the parents of these youngsters gather for coffee as they await their children’s dismissal at the end of the program. They have also become friends with one another, and that too is a sign of the vitality of this program.

Later in the week, I spent a class with some juniors and seniors at Marist. The class was part of a leadership course that these young people are taking, and the Archbishop was “exhibit A” for the day. Their questions were intriguing, as they indicated that these young people are already considering life choices that they will soon be making for their futures. I was pleased to hear the serious and penetrating questions the students asked. They are certainly asking the right questions about the qualities needed for leadership in the world that they will all too soon manage.

They wanted to know how does God communicate a vocation. I assured them that God’s grace is often subtle and yet persistent—He rarely speaks with thunderbolts—and that I think St. Paul was probably the last man whose vocation knocked him off his horse! But the simple fact that they are asking questions about how does one know that God is speaking to you is a pretty good indication that perhaps God is already whispering to their young hearts!

Young Adult Ministry, or YAM, serves a more mature group of our young people—but no less energetic or enthused than their younger counterparts. Theology on Tap is an engaging forum for young Catholic adults to listen to a speaker and then exchange questions and opinions about faith and ethical issues that impact all of our lives. I was the closing speaker for this series of Theology on Tap, and the questions came fast and furious from young adults who love their faith, love life, and at least from my perspective, seem to love their Archbishop. They see clearly the challenges that face them each day on the job, at the university, and among their peers as they struggle to be both faithful Catholics and popular among their colleagues. I was deeply edified at the caliber of questions and the seriousness of their desire to follow Christ and to practice our Faith.

All of those encounters with our young people happened during a week in which three separate violent attacks took the lives of youngsters and teachers in school settings. I could not help but reflect on the disordered state of our world that seems to produce so many violent personalities who seek to harm the young. What is there in our society that seems to produce characters of such distorted mentalities that they would seek to harm the young and the innocent? I must confess that I was mystified at the events that occurred during the very same week that I was encountering such wonderful young people in this local Church.

On this most recent Sunday afternoon, I was part of the Life Chain outside our Cathedral and carried a sign that read “Abortion Kills Babies!” Then it occurred to me that a society that has sanctioned the taking of innocent human life within the womb may already have provided an overture for these later acts of brutality against children.