Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo by Thomas Spink
Archbishop Gregory brings in the monstrance during adoration in the Kids Track.

College Park

‘Jesus Thinks You Are Terrific,’ Archbishop Tells Kids

By GRETCHEN KEISER, Staff Writer | Published July 7, 2011

Never have 610 children been so quiet. Prepped by their catechists, they knelt or sat in complete silence as the bells chimed and the archbishop entered the room holding the monstrance aloft with the Blessed Sacrament.

After he placed the monstrance on an altar at the front, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory told the children, “You are being absolutely wonderful. You are so quiet and so prayerful that I know our Lord Jesus is very happy to spend some time with you.”

“Not only moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas think you are terrific. Jesus thinks you are terrific because you are his children,” the archbishop said.

“He made a special point to tell his disciples to take very, very, very good care of the little ones,” he added. “He still thinks you are special. He still reminds the big ones to be sure to let the little ones come to me.”

Only God is adored, Archbishop Gregory pointed out, as the children took part in a track titled ADORE! for those ages 5 to 11 at the 2011 Eucharistic Congress.

But he admitted that they were “so quiet, so prayerful, so attentive” that he might even have to say they were being adorable.

His visit and blessing of the children with the Eucharist is a highlight each year at the congress for him, Archbishop Gregory had earlier told the thousands of adults in the main session. The children gave him a basket of their crafts and a cap that said “I’m a member of God’s team.”

Completely silent throughout the adoration time, the children erupted into activity once the doors closed behind the departing procession.

Sori Govin, catechetical leader in the archdiocesan Office of Formation and Discipleship, coordinated the track, which was held in a large open room where colored tape created smaller squares for groups of children and their volunteer leaders to gather for activities, crafts, music and prayer. The whole group sang with The Donut Man, a Christian musician.

On June 24 staff and volunteers spent the whole day preparing materials for the track and setting up the room. On June 25 some 140 volunteers spent the entire day in the ADORE! track so parents could attend the congress sessions without concern about their children. The track was filled to capacity, and about 200 more children would have attended if there had been enough additional volunteers to handle the larger crowd.

Govin said, “I could have used 40 more volunteers.”

“I have a great team,” she said. “It is a huge commitment. You have to be here at 7 o’clock in the morning and stay until 4:30. You can’t go out. I have a lady who comes at 6 a.m. every year to (prepare to) register children. … She got up at 4 o’clock in the morning to get here. People like that make it worthwhile.”

“If it wasn’t for the volunteers, this would not happen,” she said. “They are the ones who have to be thanked.”

Volunteers include teachers, catechists, teens, retirees and grandparents, she said.

“The kids leave excited,” she added. “Anytime we can do anything so kids learn more about Jesus, any sacrifice is acceptable.”

At the end of the day, as parents come and pick up their children, Govin said, “I am physically exhausted, but my spirit is dancing.”