By ERIKA ANDERSON, Staff Writer | Published September 14, 2006
Catholic history lovers will have a unique opportunity to celebrate the jubilee of the Diocese of Atlanta with a pilgrimage to some of the archdiocese’s most historically important sites.
The jubilee pilgrimage, part of the celebration commemorating Atlanta’s elevation to a diocese in 1956, is a two-day, overnight trip, set for Oct. 17-18.
Led by Father Luke Ballman, pastor of St. Augustine Church in Covington, and Father Charles Byrd, the pilgrimage will begin at the Cathedral of Christ the King, where participants will board motor coaches for the journey.
The trip will first stop at Sacred Heart Church in Atlanta, where participants will have an in-depth tour of the 108-year-old church building. The buses will then make their way to Locust Grove, site of the first Catholic Church in Georgia, the Church of the Purification, which is now located in the nearby town of Sharon. Participants will have a tour of the Locust Grove cemetery, which will be followed by Mass celebrated at the Church of the Purification in Sharon. The buses will head to Washington, Ga., for lunch at the historic Fitzpatrick Hotel, followed by a tour of Washington, including the old St. Joseph’s Orphanage, St. Patrick’s Cemetery and St. Joseph’s Church.
Tour participants will stay overnight in Milledgeville, where they will celebrate Mass at Sacred Heart Church the next morning.
Making their way back to Atlanta, the buses will stop at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, where participants will have a full tour and lunch. The final stop will be an in-depth tour of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Atlanta.
Archdiocesan archivist John Hanley will accompany the tour, sharing history along the way and discussing with participants the past and present of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
Hanley said that the pilgrimage is not only a history experience but a religious one as well.
“It will really help people to understand Catholicism in the South. It shows how much we’ve grown,” he said. “It’s partly a religious experience, too, because we’ll have Mass in all these parishes that they may not have had the chance to see before.”
Hanley added that participants would receive an extended version of the history of the archdiocese that will only be available on the Internet later in the year. He also said he hopes the tour will become an annual event, with participants visiting different sites and possibly collaborating with the Diocese of Savannah in the future.
The cost of the pilgrimage is $225 per person, which includes the bus trip, meals and hotel costs in Milledgeville.
For more information or to register for the pilgrimage, contact Mary Elkins at (404) 456-4285, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.