Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

What I Have Seen And Heard (March 5, 2009)

By MOST REVEREND WILTON D. GREGORY, Archbishop of Atlanta | Published March 5, 2009  | En Español

Finally in my fifth year as your Archbishop, I think that I have now earned my credentials as an official Atlanta citizen! I began worrying about two inches of snow—I watched the meteorologists with acute attention on Saturday evening and Sunday morning, worrying like many of you if this onslaught of winter weather would wreak havoc on our plans for Sunday!

As a native-born Chicagoan, two inches of snow would perhaps have been considered a dusting—and not even a sizeable dusting at that! Yet for many of our people, it was more than a mere inconvenience. I took the steps to cancel the final one of our four Rites of Election late Sunday morning since I did not want to have our people on the roads if the weather made that trip hazardous.

I apologize if this late cancellation was inconvenient for any catechumen, candidate, or parish minister. It was certainly a disappointment for me since I deeply enjoy these ceremonies that bring together so many of our people to rejoice in the gift of Faith and the growth of our Church.

The three ceremonies that we did celebrate on Saturday were filled to overflowing with catechumens, candidates, parish leaders and guests at each of the three parishes that generously hosted them: Transfiguration, Holy Cross and St. Benedict. I am grateful beyond words to those who planned the celebrations and provided the wonderful hospitality that followed each of these events. I ask that the pastor of each parish that was scheduled to attend the canceled Sunday Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion at St. Mary Magdalene receive the catechumens and candidates at their local parish at next Sunday’s Masses. I apologize once again for not being able to preside at that ceremony in the southern part of our Archdiocese, but I felt that the safety of our people was more than a valid reason to cancel this event.

During the course of the year, I always run into so many people who remind me that we first met at the Rite of Election as they were preparing to enter the Catholic Church. That first encounter is important for them and for me since it often begins our relationship as bishop and a new member of the faithful in this local Church. I suppose that for the next year, I may encounter people who will remind me that I was supposed to preside at their Rite of Election on the south side of the Archdiocese of Atlanta were it not for the snow that caused the ceremony to be canceled. My rejoinder to them—in addition to a renewal of my apology—will be “The South shall rise again!”

The Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion is a relatively new ceremony for the Church since the restoration of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults was issued in 1972. It brings together people from throughout the local Church to be chosen and enrolled by the bishop or his delegate. It has become a great moment of pride and hope for most dioceses as people witness the wondrous faith of so many people who will be joining the Catholic Faith at Easter.

I welcome all those within the Archdiocese of Atlanta who will grace us through the Easter Sacraments in a few weeks’ time. May the weather be more cooperative for us all on that happy celebration.