By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published May 23, 2013
ATLANTA—Two hundred and fifty years of priesthood were celebrated at the Cathedral of Christ the King when eight men were honored Wednesday, May 15, at the annual Mass for priests marking milestones of 25 and 50 years of service to the faithful. Two had golden anniversaries.
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory saluted the men for their efforts. The archbishop is also marking 40 years since his ordination to the priesthood in 1973.
“They are the church’s heroes in so many private, unknown and unrecognized occasions. They are simply loving men whom God loves and we love,” he said in his homily.
Some 50 priests, a few deacons, and nearly two dozen women and men attended the morning Mass. Music was provided by soprano Wanda Temko and organist Tim Wissler.
Archbishop Gregory said the priests are honored for that service, which means “giving a real face and a real voice to the priesthood of Jesus Christ.”
Honored on their golden jubilees were Msgr. Frank J. Giusta and Father Joseph A. Mendes, a Missionary of St. Francis de Sales.
Priests celebrating 25 years of priesthood this year are Archimandrite John Azar, Conventual Franciscan Father John Koziol, Father Jaime Molina, Missionary of the Nativity of Mary, Father G. Philip Ryan, Dominican Father Bruce Schultz, and Father Christopher Williamson.
Msgr. Giusta could have retired 10 years ago. But after a few months of retirement, he was anxious to get back to ministry. He is now the Catholic chaplain at the Emory Health System.
“I will continue to do it as long as I can. I find it very interesting,” said the 75-year-old.
He wanted to be a priest since the age of 10, but at his father’s insistence he waited until he was 18 to enter seminary and was ordained in his native Italy in 1963.
“It felt very normal to me, despite the times that were some problems like everyone has in life. I am very happy to be a priest,” he said. “I never really thought of anything else.”
He takes pride in being a practical person.
“My attitude is I get up in the morning and do whatever there is to do,” he said. “My attitude on church is on Sunday mornings, we open the doors and anyone who wants to come in, it’s fine. I am not a very abstract person. I tend to be very practical.”
His ministry has been varied, from teaching in high school to learning Spanish so that he could serve as a pastor when the Archdiocese of Atlanta opened an immersion program for seminarians in El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico.
“I did all sorts of ministries just because at the moment, they were needed. I was needed to do that,” Msgr. Giusta said.
Every ministry has been rewarding, he said, but it was special to serve at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Atlanta, where he was the pastor for 13 years.
“It opened up very big horizons, new horizons for me,” he said. Believers at the 100-year-old, historically African-American church have “an enormous attachment to their faith,” he said.
Another honoree was Father Ryan, pastor at Christ Our King and Savior Church, Greensboro, who marks 25 years since ordination.
The Irish native was 33 when ordained, which at the time was considered an older age for a new priest. Father Ryan said his primary task is to “bring Christ to Christ’s people, and bring Christ’s people to Christ” and administrative duties and other work are just “hotel management.”
The years of ministry have deepened his understanding of the priesthood. The opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist and “the hope of God’s love” with people is the best part of being a priest, he said.
Archbishop Gregory, in his homily, said while today’s culture celebrates the heroes of Spiderman and Superman, for many families a priest “can be something of a hero by coming into a hospital room to care for a dying parent at just the right moment or a priest who stood by a frightened immigrant family at a court hearing.”
“There are some true heroes among our priests today, and their only costume is a black suit and a collar,” he said.
The golden jubilarians include the following:
Msgr. Frank J. Giusta
A native of Italy, Msgr. Giusta was ordained a priest in the Cathedral of Torino, Italy, on Dec. 20, 1963. He traveled to the United States to study at Duquesne University and the University of Pittsburgh and later earned an M.A. degree from Syracuse University in cultural anthropology. He came to the archdiocese in 1972, with his first assignment at the former St. Joseph High School. He has served as pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Atlanta; St. Philip Benizi Church, Jonesboro; and St. Mark Church, Clarkesville. He also served as pastor of Santa Lucia Church, El Paso, Texas, during an immersion program for Atlanta seminarians and as coordinator of Mexican vocations. He retired from parish ministry in 2007 and has since served as a chaplain at Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Wesley Woods Senior Living, Emory University Orthopedics and Spine Hospital and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston.
Father Joseph A. Mendes, MSFS
Father Mendes is a member of the Missionary Society of St. Francis de Sales, Maharashtra-Goa Province, India. He was ordained on Sept. 21, 1963. He studied at John Carroll University in Cleveland, earning a bachelor’s degree in physics and math in 1969. He returned to India, serving as a principal, provincial and in other leadership roles. In 1994, he was appointed parochial vicar at St. Patrick Church, Norcross, serving until 1997 when he became chaplain to the Visitation Monastery, Snellville. From 2001 to 2012, he was the confessor and conference instructor to Mother Teresa’s sisters, the Missionaries of Charity, at the Gift of Grace House, Atlanta, and a permanent diaconate instructor. He is currently a parochial vicar at St. Marguerite d’Youville Church, Lawrenceville.
The silver jubilarians include the following:
Archimandrite John Azar
Archimandrite John Azar is a Rhode Island native, whose parents emigrated to the United States from Syria. He founded the Arab Cultural Institute of New Jersey. He studied in seminary at St. Gregory Melkite Seminary and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, both in Massachusetts, before being ordained a priest in 1988. He has spent the last 13 years in Atlanta as pastor of St. John Chrysostom Melkite Catholic Church. He has held several positions in the Melkite Diocese, including national advisor for young adults, College of Consultors and editor of Sophia magazine. He was elevated to the rank of Right Reverend Archimandrite in 2007. He is the vocations director and has recently been appointed to the Presbyteral Council for the Melkite Eparchy in the United States. He is also on the faculty of the diaconate formation program for the Atlanta Archdiocese.
Father John Koziol, OFM Conv.
Father Koziol is a member of the Conventual Franciscan Friars religious order and serves as pastor of St. Philip Benizi Church, Jonesboro. After college, he made his first profession as a friar in 1981 and his final profession in 1985. He studied theology at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas, and was ordained to the priesthood in Springfield, Mass. He was one of the three first friars to serve at St. Philip Benizi when in August 1991 the parish was placed under the care of the religious order. After nine years there, he went on to earn a doctor of ministry degree from The Catholic University of America in 2005. His service has been spent in ministries at parishes, colleges and formation ministry.
Father Jaime Molina, MNM
A native of Mexico, Father Molina was born on Feb. 19, 1961. He is a member of the Missionaries of the Nativity of Mary, making his perpetual vows of profession on Dec. 11, 1987. He was ordained at the Parish Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe in Ignacio Zaragoza, Chihuahua, Mexico, on Aug. 15, 1988. After serving in several parishes in Chihuahua, he was asked to lead the Pontifical Mission Societies in the diocese and then to direct evangelization and catechism for the diocese. Father Molina came to the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 1998 and in 1999, he was named a parochial vicar at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Smyrna, which is entrusted to the Missionaries of LaSalette. He continues to serve the Hispanic community here.
Father G. Philip Ryan
Father Ryan worked in hotel management on the west coast of Ireland, before pursuing his vocation to the priesthood, studying at St. John’s College in Waterford. He was ordained a priest on May 12, 1988, for the Atlanta Archdiocese at St. Mary Cathedral, Kilkenny, Ireland. Since arriving here, he has served at five parishes, St. John Neumann Church, Lilburn; St. Joseph Church, Athens; St. Joseph Church, Washington; Sacred Heart Church, Griffin; and currently at Christ Our King and Savior Church, Greensboro. He served as pastor at his last three parishes.
Father Bruce Schultz, OP
Dominican Father Schultz entered the church in 1980 at the Emory University Catholic Center. He was ordained a priest eight years later at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Atlanta, by Archbishop Eugene A. Marino, SSJ. Before his ministry, he worked as a journalist, writing for Newsweek, for the Associated Press and other publications. As a Dominican, he earned graduate degrees in theology and divinity, but he also earned a master’s degree in black Catholic theology at Xavier University of Louisiana’s Institute for Black Catholic Studies. Father Schultz has served much of his ministry in African-American Catholic communities across the South. He is now a parochial vicar at Our Lady of Lourdes Church and serves on the board of directors of the Aquinas Center of Theology at Emory University.
Father Christopher Williamson
Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Father Williamson served the people of the archdiocese since his ordination in 1988 by Archbishop Eugene A. Marino, SSJ. He has served mostly in the rural areas of the archdiocese. He spent a dozen years at St. Anthony Church, Blue Ridge, and also served at Good Samaritan Church, Ellijay. He also ministered to Catholics at All Saints Church, Dunwoody; Christ the King Cathedral, Atlanta; and St. Lawrence Church, Lawrenceville. His last assignment was as pastor of St. Joseph Church, Washington, where he served for six years before he retired in 2012. He lives at St. George Village, a Roswell retirement community.