By GRETCHEN KEISER, Staff Writer | Published November 17, 2005
The 49th annual luncheon given by the auxiliary of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Home was held Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel and brought together hundreds of people from across the archdiocese in support of the ministry of the home.
In a gracious ballroom setting, old friends from distant parishes greeted one another before the luncheon and perused a table of silent auction items from handmade crocheted afghans, baby booties and caps, knitted scarves and hats, to autographed sports memorabilia, jewelry and original artwork. All were donated to assist the Hawthorne Dominican sisters who serve at OLPH home, relying totally on God’s providence to meet their needs.
As the luncheon began, FOX 5 Atlanta meteorologist Ken Cook, who, along with his wife, Susie, has been a supporter of the home for decades, introduced the Hawthorne Dominican sisters whose vocation is to give free care to people terminally ill with cancer.
Sister Miriam, superior of the home, who is from Philadelphia, shares “love freely with her sisters, the patients and their families and all of the employees … (Her) ready smile, great sense of humor and hearty laugh are enjoyed by all,” he said.
Sister Martha, a Hawthorne Dominican for over 50 years, grew up in farming country in Pennsylvania and is “a natural with all our Southern farmers”; Sister Walter, a native New Englander, has been assigned to Atlanta for the past 10 years and hopes the mother superior will “just forget about her and leave her here to enjoy our very mild winters after her childhood growing up in cold, snowy New England.”
Sister Ellen has spent many years serving in the Atlanta home, as has Sister Eugenia, who has been here more than 30 years. Sister Augustine, who will celebrate her silver jubilee in 2005, has been reassigned to Atlanta after serving in this facility for five years in the 1980s. Sister Edwin has been serving in Atlanta for the first time for the past three years; she is doing so right now while in rehabilitation herself after receiving new knees in January and August 2005. Sister Rosemary, the most recently assigned to Atlanta, is from Plattsburgh, N.Y.
“It is the first time she has ever lived out of New York State, and she is just thrilled to be here. The size of the highways and the speed of the cars does intimidate her somewhat, but she seems to be thriving on the challenge and loves the people she has met,” Cook said.
A visiting Hawthorne Dominican, Sister Patricia, also came to the luncheon from the motherhouse of the order in Rosary Hill, N.Y.
Cook said that in their visits to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Home, he and his wife “have found a home of love, of compassion, of caring and of joy—truly one filled with love and with the presence of God.”
“Truly we are blessed by God in the Atlanta community to have the sisters working with us,” he said, adding, “let’s spread the word” in parishes and among friends and neighbors, so the ministry of the home is well known and supported.
Msgr. Paul Reynolds, vicar general of the archdiocese, spoke on behalf of Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, who was attending the synod of bishops in Rome, Italy.
He spoke of how the nation was deeply touched the previous week by the story of Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis and a young boy named Montana who was dying of cancer.
Hearing of the boy’s love for Notre Dame football, the coach went to his home and visited him, talked to him about his college friend, star quarterback Joe Montana, for whom Montana was named, and about the difficulties and pain the young boy was facing. Then Weis asked if there was anything he could do for him.
Montana said he’d like to call the first Notre Dame play in that Saturday’s upcoming game against Washington; the play he wanted was a pass to the right. Weis promised him that would be the first play called. But the 10-year-old boy died Friday, the day before the game. That night Weis called his mother and said Montana’s play would still be the first one called.
But when Notre Dame lined up for the first play, the team was backed up to its own end zone because they had recovered a fumble on the one-yard line. Quarterback Brady Quinn had no room to drop back and pass and, if he did, he risked a sack in the end zone and a safety by Washington.
A pass was not the call the coach normally would have made, but because of his promise it was the call. Quinn dropped back and passed—and as the receiver, Anthony Fasano, caught the ball and then hurdled over a startled would-be tackler for a 13-yard gain, it became a play for the highlight film and for the hearts of those who knew about Montana.
“That story lit up and moved the nation last week,” Msgr. Reynolds recounted. Thinking of that, he said he realized there was a parallel between the compassion showed by the Notre Dame coach and the constant ministry to the dying of the Hawthorne Dominican sisters.
“It is so easy to overlook the fact that the love and care in that story is present in the cancer home every day,” he said. “The sisters are present every day. They never leave. They give their patients every day their love and awesome care.”
He expressed the “profound gratitude of the Archdiocese of Atlanta … for the way they show us with their definitive focus the presence of God in the community.”
“Sisters, may we never take for granted what you do,” Msgr. Reynolds concluded. “May we always be profoundly grateful.”
To cap the day, out of thousands of names on slips of paper, the coveted autographed and framed jersey of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was won by a surprised but delighted pastor and his staff, Father Peter Rau and the staff of Good Shepherd Church in Cumming.
For more information or to become involved in the Our Lady of Perpetual Help auxiliary call (404) 688-9515. New members are welcome.