Published November 8, 2012
Michael Alexander is one of our resident artists who is outfitted with only a camera! Over the years he has captured so many special moments in the life of this local Church with his camera and his unassuming and unobtrusive presence.
Pictures do tell stories that written texts simply cannot summarize—which only confirms the ancient adage that a picture is worth a thousand words—and perhaps even many more. From the most solemn religious moments to the most comical everyday occasions, Michael’s imaginative eye serves us with exquisite judgment.
The last edition of The Georgia Bulletin provides another example of his wonderful service (as the newspaper’s staff photographer). The five couples who were highlighted in that particular issue celebrated their anniversaries along with dozens of others at our annual Mass held to recognize and honor those observing 50th and 60th wedding jubilees, and they gave us a visual image of what marriage means. They reflect an icon of fidelity, strength, commitment, and promise.
The wedding day photographs of those five couples displayed the incredible joy, excitement and perhaps naiveté of those young people beginning their married life. The anniversary photographs revealed something quite different. The anniversary jubilee pictures told the story of fidelity, of shared joy and sorrow, of wisdom born from experience and of hope for tomorrow. The people were the same but the Sacrament of Marriage had made them different—and the camera caught the change. While the anniversary pictures revealed individuals who certainly had aged, they also captured people who had grown in love with each other in ways that those early bridal photographs could not have anticipated.
The blessings of commitment and fidelity come only in time. The young and inexperienced can be bright, hopeful, positive, but only those who have weathered some of life’s storms can claim the treasured title of fidelity. Last July Msgr. Walter Donovan died after a very long and generous priestly ministry here in the Archdiocese. His memorial card currently sits on my desk at my home. There were also pictures of Walter that appeared in some of the funeral memorabilia and some of them were of his Ordination day—but the best one is that of Walter as an old man who had endured many long years of service and priestly dedication—those are the images of commitment.
We Americans are intrigued with youth and beauty, with being fit and trim, with the energy and drive that only the young seem to possess. But there are values and treasures that those who have endured much in life possess that the young will never understand until they get to that stage in life themselves.
Michael Alexander captures so many wonderful images of the people of our Archdiocese. He frames them with an artist’s eye. On some occasions, his images, especially when they can be paired with earlier photographs, help us understand the beauty of commitment—an oft-forgotten virtue in today’s society that promotes disposability and novelty, often at the expense of fidelity and commitment. Every seasoned married couple and veteran cleric that I know have stories to tell of the sorrow, disappointment and frustration that have marked their lives, but they also have at least as many stories of triumph, courage and fervor that have tempered and overcome all the moments of pain—and that is the image of commitment and fidelity that those jubilee couples and Msgr. Donovan made visible and achievable for all of us. It is the grace of the Sacraments that they have lived with success and obvious joy.