Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Catholic Underground Brings Together More Than 400

By STEPHEN O'KANE, Staff Writer | Published April 15, 2010

Hundreds gathered inside a dimly lit sanctuary at the Cathedral of Christ the King on Saturday, March 6, for an hour of adoration with prayer and music led by Father Tim Hepburn, chaplain at Georgia Tech, and Father Neil Dhabliwala, parochial vicar at the cathedral.

The quiet, reflective hour was part of Catholic Underground, a first-time event in Atlanta but one that has been celebrated elsewhere around the country. Go FISH Outreach, a new ministry in Atlanta established by Janice Givens, used the event as its official kickoff. Go FISH Outreach focuses on bringing back Catholics away from the church and equipping those already involved in outreach ministries.

Blending prayer and social activities, the evening gave attendees the opportunity to come before the Blessed Sacrament in reflection as well as the chance to meet others from the Atlanta area.

People began filing into the church before the event began at 7:30 p.m. Many entered the pews in silent prayer, while others visited and mingled outside. The hour of adoration began with evening prayer led by Father Dhabliwala, who was assisted with music by Father Hepburn.

Following evening prayer, the already dim lights were shut off, leaving only a spotlight on a monstrance surrounded by candelabras. Father Hepburn led the crowd into reflective moments of prayer, either by singing and playing his guitar or by praying aloud in a gentle and reverent manner.

“Quiet your heart. Quiet your mind,” said Father Hepburn, encouraging those present to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to them. “The Lord wants to dwell in us. He wants to live in you.”

Some bowed their heads, and others raised their arms. The low light was focused only on the monstrance and created a silhouette of the group, contrasting the brightness of the monstrance with the dark shapes of the crowd.

Father Dhabliwala then led Benediction to end the hour of adoration. The crowd enthusiastically participated, and smiles could be seen on many faces as they left the sanctuary to enjoy the second part of the evening.

“The purpose of Catholic Underground is twofold,” said Billy Potter, who works with Go FISH Outreach. The first is to feed the spirit and the second is to feed the body, he said.

The first was achieved through Eucharistic adoration and the latter used a coffeehouse setting to allow participants to enjoy coffee, desserts and the company of others.

“Catholic Underground was started in New York City five years ago, and I had the chance to attend one last September in New York City and was struck by the beauty of adoration and the community building afterwards,” said Givens.

She approached the priest in charge and asked how she could begin Catholic Underground in Atlanta. He told her to find a parish that would host it and put a team of volunteers together and pray about it.

“I began a four-month e-mail discussion with the priest who helps groups start,” recalled Givens. “Then I began pulling together people from all over the archdiocese who wanted to find ways to deepen their own faith, while also inviting friends and family who are not always in the pews with us to come home.”

Various vendors and sponsors were set up in the gathering area between the cathedral and the parish hall, where the coffeehouse was held. Volunteers greeted the crowd and gave them the chance to sign up for an e-mail newsletter to stay up to date on Go FISH upcoming events.

After pouring coffee and picking up a few treats, attendees sat at tables and enjoyed the soulful sounds of the Batiste Brothers, a gospel group from the Atlanta area. The evening then ended with prayer as it began.

“This is such a good family event,” said Michele Cory, a parishioner of St. Michael the Archangel Church, Woodstock, who came with her children. “It’s great that families can come together for adoration and fellowship.”

Givens remembers feeling a call to start a ministry for those who may have been away from the church. Through prayer, adoration and a little help from friends, Go FISH Outreach was established at the end of last year and celebrated its official kickoff at Catholic Underground.

“I started reading a lot about Pope John Paul II New Evangelization and researched what other dioceses and faiths were doing to fulfill the great commission and decided to start Go FISH—Go Forth and Invite Someone Home,” wrote Givens on the ministry’s Web site.

“That means gathering and reaching out to the Catholics in the pews to better understand our call to evangelize with our lives and mouths and provide a place where Catholics who have left the fullness of the faith … (can) come home in a less intimidating environment,” she added.

The group plans to bring back Catholic Underground later this year and in the meantime will sponsor a monthly “Mass, meal and message” starting in May as well as Go FISH home faith-sharing groups, giving participants a chance to explore their faith in a more intimate setting.

“We are committed to seeing what God has in store for us,” said Givens. “We know that we all feel an urgency to figure out how to reach out to our family and friends that have left the fullness of the faith and to personally invite and welcome them home.”

For more information, visit the Go FISH Outreach Web site at