Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Mary’s Joyful Obedience Inspires On ‘Mary Day’

By JEAN DRISKELL, Special Contributor | Published May 11, 2006

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory celebrated the seventh annual Mary Day program with a concelebrated Mass at Sts. Peter and Paul Church on Saturday, March 25, the feast of the Annunciation. Father Eric Hill, pastor, and visiting priest Father Thierry St. Clair concelebrated with the archbishop.

Along with parishioners of Sts. Peter and Paul Church, members of the Haitian community and visitors from around the archdiocese attended as an estimated 175 people gathered to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Mary Day started at the parish in the year 2000 when Edna Taylor, chairperson, accepted the position of Church Commission chair of the Sts. Peter and Paul’s Women’s Council.

“Agnes Driskell, former Women’s Council president, seeing I needed help in understanding my commission duties, called me and explained them to me,” Taylor said. “She also told me about the Holy Father’s (Pope John Paul II) request for Catholic women to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary since he declared the year 2000 as the Marian Year in November 1999.”

“I began organizing it by putting together a committee, which decided to have it as close as possible to a Marian holy day in the spring,” Taylor said. “So we chose the feast of the Annunciation every year. This year we chose (to emphasize) Our Lady of Perpetual Help.”

However, since Mary Day actually fell on the feast of the Annunciation the archbishop’s homily concentrated on the Annunciation and Mary’s faith.

Archbishop Gregory stated that the church wants Catholics to begin thinking about Christmas “with this happy feast of the Annunciation of the Lord Jesus.”

God “sends the Archangel Gabriel to Mary and asks her to become the Mother of God’s own Son,” Archbishop Gregory said. “Mary’s answer ‘I am the Handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you say,’ is absolute, complete, perfect submission to the will of God.”

“How I wish that I could offer my own life with such perfect openness,” he said. “How I wish that I could obey God with such simple joy. How I wish that I could trust with Mary’s confidence.”

Archbishop Gregory said it can be difficult to be obedient. Obedience, real Christian obedience, should be like Mary’s response. “It was sincere and quick and joyful. She said with her whole heart that she wanted to do God’s will for her with absolute openness.”

“Obedience is not a lack of freedom, but the proper use of freedom. Obedience is the virtue that allows our hearts to desire only what God wants for us and from us,” he said.

Archbishop Gregory concluded, “It might be early to begin thinking about Christmas, but since the virtue and the practice of obedience takes such a long time for any of us to perfect, perhaps it is not too early to begin thinking about Christmas if the obedience of Mary to the will of God is how the church begins to prepare for the birth of Jesus.”

Before the final blessing at Mass, Linda Giles, president of the parish Women’s Council, presented Archbishop Gregory with a World Mission Rosary, handmade for him by Blake Hoffmeyer, a custom rosary maker.

After Mass there was a time for meditation, reconciliation, and a continental breakfast, followed by the Stations of the Cross. Father Hill, assisted by Carmen and Nigel Scott, led the Stations, which emphasized praying the Stations with Mary.

“We wanted our day to be totally focused on Mary, and by being focused on Mary, we are totally focused on Jesus,” Taylor said. “These Stations speak from Mary’s point of view of how she may have felt and experienced the Passion of her Son.”

“In addition, I find it challenges us to look at our own attitudes and become better people,” Taylor said. “It makes me look at my life and attitude toward other people. I hope it does the same with everyone who experiences Mary’s way of the Stations of the Cross.”

After the Stations the World Mission Rosary was prayed, a rosary chosen by parishioner Dot Lewis. “Praying the Mission Rosary incorporates all the continents in the world and it has a message for each group of people in the world,” Taylor said.

The World Mission Rosary and its full explanation can be found in the October 2005 issue of Maryknoll magazine. The late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen introduced this rosary in the 1950s. Each mystery reflects Jesus’ mission and each mystery’s beads are in different colors to represent the geographical areas in the world. Red is for the missionaries’ fiery faith to the Americas, green is for the forests and grasslands of Africa, yellow is for the morning light of Asia, blue is for the island nations of the Pacific Ocean, and white is for Europe, where the Holy Father resides and shepherds his people.

During the rosary there was a children’s track led by Nina Payne and Jeannine Purvis. They helped the children make rosaries out of pasta and string and gave each child a small wooden cross to complete their rosaries. Father Hill blessed their rosaries.

At noon Father Hill led everyone in the Angelus. This was followed by lunch where everyone was assigned a table. Within 20 minutes into lunch a facilitator at each table led their groups in discussing Mary, her life, what she means to each person, and how each individual can present her to others in their communities.

After lunch and discussion everyone went into the church and each group representative reported on what their group discussed. The children also showed everyone their finished rosaries.

The day ended with the Litany to the Blessed Virgin Mary led by Beverly Maxwell, Church Commission chair for the Women’s Council.

“It was a great day to put aside for Lent and the obligations to celebrate the feast of the Annunciation,” Father Hill said. “I think the attendees had a wonderful opportunity to reflect and share their thoughts and feelings on how Mary has impacted their lives.”

“Very blessed day,” parishioner Es Dorsey said. “It helped me to refocus on the importance of Mary in our lives.”

“I think this is something we should do regularly, not just for Mary Day,” Tom Grant, parishioner, said on speaking about the rosary. “The rosary is a formidable part of our religion. We need to show our devotion to Mary by publicly displaying and saying the rosary. I always carry my rosary around with me.”

Judy DaSilva, Corpus Christi Church parishioner, Stone Mountain, said, “It was lovely. I also go to Mary. She always helps me. She tells me to trust God.”

“In 2000 the Holy Father requested we honor Mary and we are obeying his request with this day,” Joyce Hardwick, parishioner, said. “In past years we have put Mary on a back burner in order to be more ecumenical. Through our Mary Days we have put her in her God-ordained place. She’s our Mother. We are her offspring.”

Taylor said, “It’s like we’ve been doubly blessed by the Blessed Virgin Mary by having others from around the archdiocese participate. It was a blessed day for me.”

Each participant was given a souvenir bag, which included a booklet showing the program, prayers said throughout the day, and information about Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

The Mary Day committee consisted of the following chairs: Marjorie Bell and Caren Dias, decorations; Jean Robert Durrand, facilitators; Linda Giles, treasurer; Agnes Harper, souvenir bags; Emma Jackson, booklets; Eloise Joyner, publicity; Dorothy Lewis, rosary; Yvonne Shanks, secretary and welcoming; Edna Taylor, head chair and Stations of the Cross.


Jean Driskell is a member of Sts. Peter and Paul Church.