By ARCHBISHOP GREGORY J. HARTMAYER, OFM Conv., Commentary | Published October 1, 2020 | En Español
It has often been said that we get only one chance to make a first impression. That expression has been on my mind lately as I’ve begun my service to you in conditions that are far from conducive to introducing ourselves properly and getting to know one another as we would like.
Yet, despite the constraints placed on us by the coronavirus, by your words and your deeds I have formed a first impression of the people of God in the Archdiocese of Atlanta that is both profoundly powerful and deeply humbling.
Over these past several months it has become evident to me how much you love and value your parish communities and the Catholic ministries that serve our brothers and sisters in Christ. Again and again I have heard from our pastors of your kindness and generosity to our church and to those she serves on the margins, including so many of our family members, neighbors and fellow parishioners who are without work and are perhaps unable to meet their living expenses, feed their families and keep their homes.
During this unprecedented moment in our lives it seems we have all paused to reflect on his many blessings to us. We have, by design or circumstance, meaningfully refocused our priorities around family, service, and simplicity. We shepherds have witnessed in the faithful a recognition of and a renewed commitment to a spirituality of stewardship and co-responsibility–sharing that with which we have been entrusted with those who would otherwise do without. It is in those moments that the lessons of Christ are made manifest, and the ones who have imparted those lessons–parents, pastors and teachers–are most gratified and humbled.
It is my profound prayer and my promise that we will build on the jarring experience of 2020 as we journey toward becoming a “stewardship archdiocese,” committed wholly to becoming disciples and making disciples.
I want to thank you personally, from my heart, for your continued support of your parish, your archdiocese, and important ministries like Catholic Charities, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Mercy Care, which embrace and embody Matthew 25: “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
I ask you to join me in praying for a day when we may soon all gather again in community to worship and learn, when our neighbors and family members are able to reclaim the dignity of work, when people may simply hug their parents or their grandchildren without anxiety.
In the meantime, this moving and powerful first impression of your witness to Christ and to one another will sustain us even as it pleases our heavenly Father, who has entrusted us with all we have and all we are. May God bless you and all who are dear to you!
“Tell the rich in the present age not to be proud and not to rely on so uncertain a thing as wealth but rather on God, who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment. Tell them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, ready to share, thus accumulating as treasure a good foundation for the future, so as to win the life that is true life.” 1 Tm 6: 17-19