Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Looking Back: Aug. 15, 1963

Published August 15, 2013

The fascinating early history of the Catholic Center at the University of Georgia in Athens was the subject of a column by Father R. Donald Kiernan in the Aug. 8, 1963 edition of The Georgia Bulletin. Father Kiernan’s “Georgia Pines” column gave him a place to introduce many of the more unusual and interesting parts of the Atlanta Archdiocese to readers. This one spoke of a remarkable Benedictine priest, Father Francis Clougherty, who came to Athens in 1946 after missionary years in China and wartime internment and apparently made a lasting impact in Georgia as well. “Father Francis” was chaplain of the Newman Club and director of the UGA Catholic Student Center from 1946 to 1956, Father Kiernan wrote. “A man of letters, gifted with a keen wit, his counsel was continually sought by students … There is hardly a student who attended the university between the years 46 to 56, or who lived in the city of Athens during that period who did not know Father Francis.” This priest who helped organize the Catholic ministry on the UGA campus had previously spent 26 years as a missionary in China, teaching at the Catholic University of Peking, becoming its chancellor and serving as a dean of Western literature at a Chinese National University. During the Sino-Japanese War (1936-45), Father Francis helped to direct relief work for wounded Chinese and was honored by the government with its highest honor awarded to a foreigner. However, within an hour after the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, he was taken prisoner by the Japanese and held captive for four years until the peace accords were signed with the United States. When he was released he came to the United States for a rest period, Father Kiernan wrote, and agreed to come to Athens to help organize the Newman Club. History intervened, as he hoped to return to China quickly, but the ascension of communist leaders prevented him from returning. Instead his gifts were used for a decade to build the UGA campus ministry program. When he left Athens for a Benedictine assignment elsewhere, “the missionary who had come to Athens to recuperate from a concentration camp ordeal … had left an indelible mark on the hearts of all Athenians,” Father Kiernan wrote.

Atlanta Archbishop Paul J. Hallinan wrote about a meeting of the U.S. bishops in Chicago in the Aug. 15, 1963 issue. The bishops met to inform themselves on the doctrinal issues that were to come up for debate during the imminent second session of the Vatican Council to begin in September. Archbishop Hallinan said this was the first opportunity for American bishops to come together since the first session of the Council. “Great issues lie ahead: the relationship of the bishops’ authority to the Popes, the concept of religious liberty, the laity’s role, and a dozen more,” Archbishop Hallinan wrote in the Bulletin. “Bishops who are members of the various commissions went over the proposed texts of each, brought us up to date on background material, and gave us their personal evaluation. The American bishops at the Council revealed a pastoral bent that surprised many. One of the old stereotypes has been that the American bishop is chiefly a fund-raiser. Certainly the construction record of Catholic churches, schools and institutions is impressive, and Catholic people have a high confidence that the funds they raise will be well spent by those in charge. But the average U.S. bishop actually spends a greater part of his time in pastoral work: the administration; the preparation, ordination, assignment and welfare of his priests; the sermons, pastoral letters, lectures and public appearances that carry the presence and the mind of the Church into every part of the community; the general care of the schools and teachers, of the sick and needy.”

Before his death, Pope John XXIII had established a peace prize bearing his own name to be given every three years, the Vatican announced. The pope set up a foundation using $160,000 in funds that had been awarded to him by the Balzan Peace Prize because of his own devotion to the search for world peace. He wrote that he intended this prize money to create “a perpetual fund in favor of peace.” His goal was to assist “initiatives in favor of true peace and brotherhood among men and nations.”