By GRETCHEN KEISER,Staff Writer | Published January 26, 2006
The community at St. George Village now has the opportunity to come to Mass there and to pray before the Blessed Sacrament following the dedication of the Sts. Joachim and Anne Chapel on Dec. 21, 2005 by Archbishop-emeritus John F. Donoghue.
Participating in the Mass of Dedication were residents of the new Catholic continuing care retirement community, which opened in November, several retired priests who expect to reside there, and priests from the adjacent parish, St. Peter Chanel.
Archbishop Donoghue said that the first-floor chapel will be “the heart of St. George Village.”
“Starting today, prayer and thanksgiving, and the Presence of Jesus Christ, from this chapel, will enter daily the life of St. George—and bring us a strength and life greater than our own,” he said in his homily.
“From today on, all of us, joined in Christ, will feel and will thrive on the holiness housed in this chapel—a holiness to join our own lives, and make our days here, under this roof, days of peace, acceptance, and unity.”
The intimate chapel was transformed during the Mass of Dedication into a sacred place where Jesus is present in the Blessed Sacrament. Following the homily, the congregation knelt and prayed the Litany of the Saints led by cantor Claud Shirley. Then, assisted by altar server Cameron Chaney from St. John the Evangelist Church in Hapeville and Deacon Ray Egan from All Saints Church in Dunwoody, the archbishop prayed the prayer of dedication and anointed the new altar and the four corners of the chapel with chrism, its aromatic fragrance filling the small chapel.
Then a copper-colored bowl was brought to the altar and incense was prepared and the altar and chapel were incensed. Candles in the chapel were lighted and the Eucharist was celebrated for the first time. After the reception of Communion the Blessed Sacrament was reserved in the tabernacle.
Mass concelebrants included retired priests Father Ed Danneker and Msgr. Bill Hoffman who, along with Archbishop Donoghue, are expected to reside at St. George Village. Father Frank McNamee, pastor of St. Peter Chanel Church, and Father John Shramko, parochial vicar, also concelebrated the Mass. St. George Village executive director Judy Hinman presented the keys of the chapel to the archbishop.
Honoring the time of life of the retirees who are making St. George Village their home, the chapel was dedicated to the saints who were the parents of the Virgin Mary and therefore the grandparents of Jesus. Like all grandparents, those who live at St. George Village hold their children and grandchildren close to their hearts and constantly lift them up in prayer.
The archbishop pointed out in his homily that for those who have reached this age it is a tremendous gift to have a Blessed Sacrament chapel accessible within their own home.
“What a blessing we have, and share, that this house of God, this holy tabernacle where Jesus Christ will always be found, is but a door away from our own doors—just a few steps down the hall and around the corner from our living rooms,” he said. “How could there be a better Christmas present?”
Residents who came to the Mass said the chapel has added a spiritual richness to what has been a wonderful experience for them in their first weeks at St. George Village.
“We came here from Florida. I had lived in Roswell previously,” Doris McKinley said. “It just has been absolutely wonderful.”
St. Andrew Church parishioner Mary Warren and her husband Jim moved in Nov. 8. “I haven’t talked to anyone who is not extremely happy to be here,” Mrs. Warren said.
Tim and Irene Crow said the community has met “all our expectations and then-some. It is like heaven. ”
St. George Village is owned by Catholic Continuing Care Retirement Communities, Inc., and is being managed by Wesley Woods, Inc. While it was built under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, it is open to both Catholics and the general public and has a religiously diverse group of charter residents.
An estimated $50 million project, St. George Village has 153 one- and two-bedroom independent living units, including 10 reserved for retired priests of the archdiocese. The complex also has 25 assisted living units, a skilled nursing care area with 15 private rooms and the capacity to add 15 more, and 14 residences in a memory-support section.
There is already a waiting list for the independent living residences, which were fully reserved at opening.
St. George Village is adjacent to St. Peter Chanel Church and the campus of Blessed Trinity High School and Queen of Angels Elementary School on Woodstock Road in Roswell.