By GRETCHEN KEISER, Staff Writer | Published July 6, 2006
Over 60 priests of the archdiocese joined with Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory June 7 in honoring eight priest jubilarians celebrating 50 or 25 years of ordination.
“May this year’s anniversary strengthen your hearts with the gratitude of those whom you have served with such devotion for 25 or 50 years,” the archbishop said to the jubilarians, who include three priests, Father Joseph Fahy, CP, Father Niel Jarreau, SJ, and Father Matthew Torpey, OCSO, whose golden anniversaries coincide with the 50th jubilee of the Atlanta Diocese.
Celebrating their silver jubilees this year are Father Austin Fogarty, Father Norberto Mateus, Father John O’Brien, OCSO, Father Bruce Wilkinson and Father Richard Wise.
The priests’ celebration at the Cathedral of Christ the King was linked by Archbishop Gregory to the history of the Atlanta Diocese, established in July 1956.
“Fifty is a very significant number for the Archdiocese of Atlanta this year. It is a lucky number for all of us to be sure since it represents the aggregate number of years of good fortune and blessing that have graced this local Church,” he said. “For 50 years we have been particularly blessed with the gracious and generous service of our priests—a few of whom here present have labored for all five of those decades in service to the people of God in the Diocese and now the Archdiocese of Atlanta.”
Thanking those who have served for five decades, he also thanked those reaching personal milestones, whether 40 years or one year, “each of you, my dear brothers … no matter what the number of years of your service to Atlanta.”
“Thank you for your priestly ministry in whatever form it has taken—as parish priest, high school teacher, prison or hospital chaplain, Newman ministry, cloistered monk at prayer, military chaplain or Chancery or Tribunal official. Thank you for being a priest for these wonderful people in this archdiocese. Thank you for being a brother to me and, most importantly, for being brothers to one another.”
With a full complement of priests facing him in many pews, Archbishop Gregory also said that he wanted “to remind all of you—and myself as well—of the grace that we all received on the day of our Ordination.”
“I invite you to stir up into a flame the grace and spirit that we share in this Sacrament of Orders—given to each of us for the service of God’s People. This Sacrament unites us one to another by the grace of the Holy Spirit, but always for the care of the people the Lord calls his own.”
“It is my fondest prayer on this anniversary day celebration that we all fan into a flame that grace of unity and love, of laughter and compassion, of hope and zeal so that all the priests of this archdiocese may deepen our love and concern for one another, may recommit ourselves to the mission of the Church, and may seek to provide even more intense pastoral service to the people entrusted to our care,” he said.
The jubilarians publicly renewed their priestly commitment at the morning Mass, which was followed by a luncheon for the priests of the archdiocese with the archbishop.
Profiles of the jubilarians appear in other articles in this issue.