By ERIKA ANDERSON, Staff Writer | Published January 13, 2005
Before Omar Loggiodice became a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, he wrote to Archbishop John F. Donoghue, thanking him for nurturing his faith.
Now in his second year of pre-theology, Loggiodice considers Archbishop Donoghue a major factor in his vocation.
“He really is like the father that nurtured my vocation, through his love for the Eucharist and Mother Mary,” he said.
During his 11 years as archbishop of Atlanta, while other dioceses around the nation were experiencing dismal numbers of vocations, Archbishop Donoghue ordained over 100 men to the priesthood. Father Brian Higgins was one of those men. Ordained to the priesthood in 1999, Father Higgins was chosen by Archbishop Donoghue to be the vocations director in 2002.
“I feel that of all the bishops in the United States, Archbishop Donoghue is one of the most supportive. He really stands behind his priests,” Father Higgins said. “I wasn’t even ordained three years, but he really believed in me…anything I’ve ever asked him for I’ve received. He’s been 100 percent supportive.”
Though Father Higgins gives “all credit to the Holy Spirit” for vocations, it’s obvious that Archbishop Donoghue has attracted men to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, he said.
“People are attracted to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church,” he said. “And when you have a strong leader who stands by all the teachings of the church, it makes our job easier as priests. A lot of seminarians and men who are now priests came here specifically because of Archbishop Donoghue.”
Father Higgins and Loggiodice both point specifically to the archbishop’s focus on Eucharistic adoration.
“Adoration was started in my own church—St. Catherine of Siena (in Kennesaw)—just when I was deciding what to do abut my vocation. I would go to perpetual adoration all the time, sometimes at like 4 a.m.,” Loggiodice said. “And little by little it cemented my vocation.”
When that vocation comes to fruition and a man is ordained to the priesthood, Father Higgins said, they found a great support system in Archbishop Donoghue.
“He’s the type of bishop that doesn’t need success. He’s thrilled when his priests are thought well of. He is a man of great humility and a man of prayer,” he said. “He is a quiet leader, but when he says something, it speaks volumes.”
For Loggiodice, 34, even if he eventually discovers he is not called to the priesthood, Archbishop Donoghue’s love for Mary and the Eucharist have changed his life forever.
“Even if I’m not ordained, what Archbishop Donoghue has built in my soul—the imprint of those two columns, the Eucharist and Mary—that will be there forever.”