Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

‘Invited To Recall And Pray’

Published November 22, 2012

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory’s Homily At The Mass Honoring Archbishop John F. Donoghue On The First Anniversary Of His Death

Cathedral of Christ the King,  Atlanta, Nov. 10

Annually we Catholics throughout the world turn our hearts and minds to the memory of our faithful departed during this month of November. Beginning with our Hispanic brothers and sisters who each year observe El Dia de Los Muertos on October 31 and continuing throughout the entire month, we recall the cherished memories of our beloved dead, and we praise and thank God for the great gift of their presence in our lives as we fervently beg God’s Mercy and Forgiveness upon them that they might even now enjoy the fullness of life and happiness in that kingdom that we shall all enter at some moment in our own futures.

This November the heart of our entire Archdiocesan family recalls with a spirit of deep gratitude and thanksgiving the life and ministry of John Francis Donoghue, our fifth Archbishop, who fell asleep in Christ one year ago tomorrow. Each one of us undoubtedly has his or her own personal remembrances of the Archbishop’s goodness and kindness, of his simplicity of life and his deep dedication to the mission of the Church—those very thoughts now prompt us to praise the generosity of Our Heavenly Father for having sent this extraordinarily fine priest to serve the Church in Washington, D.C., in Charlotte, North Carolina, and finally here in Atlanta. Throughout his long and generous priestly and episcopal ministry he touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people—may God now reward him for his goodness.

But the faith of our Church calls us to do more than merely reverence the cherished memory of Archbishop Donoghue or any of our beloved departed—we also must reflect in faith upon the certain truth that we shall all be judged upon the way that we live our own lives—how do we care for the poor, the hungry, the neglected, the prisoner as today’s Gospel passage graphically reminds us. We know that John Francis Donoghue had a great heart for the little ones that Christ Himself loved in a special way. But we need to do far more than simply to remember the deeds of such a very good and loving man—we need to make a decision that we too will become more loving, more faithful in our service to and through our care for those with whom Christ Himself identified. November has long been called the month of the poor souls—a title that at surface refers to our deceased sisters and brothers, but we too are all poor souls struggling to live according to the pattern of Christ Jesus.

St. Matthew’s Gospel passage today describes the astonishment of both the wicked and the just that they had not recognized Christ present in His poor sisters and brothers. Both those who cared for Him and those who had neglected Him did not recognize Him at the moment of their encounter. Jesus chooses to hide Himself, to disguise Himself, to conceal Himself in the midst of those who are poor and neglected.

The lesson to be had is to remember that He is found most regularly within those that we might not even imagine Him to be found. Both the wicked and the just failed to identify Him with the poor—we dare not to make that mistake since that mistake will be the final source of our own condemnation or reward.

John Francis Donoghue’s heart was always inclined toward the little ones, and therefore he was essentially inclined toward Christ Himself. May our own hearts be so inclined, sensitive and compassionate toward those who always appear weak, defenseless and perhaps even insignificant by the standards of our world today. The lesson of St. Matthew’s Gospel passage for each one of us is to be vigilant and watchful for the Christ who can so easily and often be overlooked in the unexpected needy faces of those who seek our help and care.

November is a time that invites us to recall and to pray for those whose lives have touched our own and whose goodness has inspired us and whose loss still saddens us. Yet this is also a time to rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of the Christ who always lingers in the midst of the most unlikely of persons—not to confuse us but to challenge us to care for those that He has said He loves as His very own.

John Francis Donoghue discovered Christ among those types and loved them as He loved Christ Himself. May the Lord grant him light, happiness and peace, forgive his sins and assign him a place in that Kingdom that the Father has prepared for all those who are faithful to the Lord’s command to love those whom He calls the least of His sisters and brothers. Amen.