Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

  • Patricia Thernell helps her son Billy follow along with the congregation during the Profession of Faith at the Oct. 10 Faith and Sharing Mass at St. Benedict Church, Johns Creek. Photo By Michael Alexander
  • (L-r) Karen Ehmer of St. Jude the Apostle Church in Sandy Springs accompanies Scott Taquechel and Julie Doyal as they present the gifts of bread and wine to Bishop David P. Talley, auxiliary bishop of Atlanta. Looking on are Deacon Gerry Kazin and Derek Gant of St. Benedict Church. Photo By Michael Alexander
  • Lauren Grzeszkowiak of St. Ann’s Church, Marietta, and Ricardo Aranda of St. John Vianney Church, Lithia Springs, join hands as they pray the Our Father. Photo By Michael Alexander

Patricia Thernell helps her son Billy follow along with the congregation during the Profession of Faith at the Oct. 10 Faith and Sharing Mass at St. Benedict Church, Johns Creek. Photo By Michael Alexander

Johns Creek

At Faith & Sharing Mass, people ‘usually leave smiling’

By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published October 24, 2013

JOHNS CREEK—Joy was the prevailing spirit at the Faith & Sharing Mass on Sunday, Oct. 13, at St. Benedict Church in Johns Creek.

Twice a year, the Disabilities Ministry of the archdiocese organizes the Mass for people of all abilities, their family members and friends.

Nearly 200 people attended the Mass celebrated by Bishop David P. Talley and enjoyed fellowship during a potluck dinner afterward.

Those with special needs participated in each part of the Mass from the presentation of the music and the readings to the offering of the gifts.

Bishop Talley began by expressing gratitude to the deacons, altar server, and St. Benedict pastor Father Paul Flood for use of the sanctuary, which features a wheelchair ramp at the front.

The Gospel reading for the Mass was Luke 17:11-19, telling the story of the 10 lepers who met Jesus on his travels. The Master heals them, but only one returns to glorify God and thank him.

The “whole point” of this Gospel reading is that “Jesus came to heal,” said Bishop Talley.

“They had this terrible disease of the skin,” he explained.

(L-r) Bonaventure Galabuzi attends the Faith and Sharing Mass with his son Robert. They are members of St. Monica Church, Duluth. Photo By Michael Alexander

The condition of leprosy caused them great pain in their hands and feet. While Jesus cleanses them, he can heal another kind of wound as well. “It’s in the heart,” Bishop Talley said. The wounds are not to the heart muscle itself, but to the human center and human soul, he added.

“We have the capacity to lose our way,” said Bishop Talley. This happens, he said, when people try to live by themselves, not wanting to help others and thinking of the church as their own.

“It’s God’s church,” he said.

The bishop posed questions. “Do you have breath in your lungs? How many of you have beating hearts?” He then asked if these gifts are deserved gifts. The answer, he shared, is “no.”

“None of us worked for it,” he said. “It’s all God’s.”

If everyone offers God all that they are during the Mass, “He’s going to offer us healing,” said Bishop Talley. “I promise it will happen.”

Following the homily, all happily sang “Love the Lord your God,” complete with the accompanying hand motions for the lyrics, “With all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

The recessional song was “His Banner Over Me Is Love” and several of the special needs youth gathered up front to sing.

“We usually leave the Mass smiling,” said Bishop Talley about the Faith & Sharing Mass.

Melanie Couvillon, St. Benedict parishioner, attended the Mass with her son, Jacob.

She agreed that the joy of the young people with special needs was contagious.

“I caught myself smiling,” she said. “Your attitude gets better.”

Couvillon, attending the Faith & Sharing Mass for the first time, has a 2-year-old niece with Down syndrome. “She’s happy all the time,” she said.

Couvillon’s daughter, Abby, was among the teens of the parish volunteering to usher and hand out programs.

Pat Tweed, longtime Disabilities Ministry volunteer, read the “Beatitudes for the Friends of Special People.”

Following the Mass, Maggie Rousseau, who heads the archdiocesan Disabilities Ministry, invited the families of those with special needs to have photos taken at the dinner. She also encouraged the families to make a disaster plan for their own homes.

October 13 was the International Day for Disaster Reduction with a special focus on helping those with disabilities prepare for emergencies. The U.N. General Assembly approved the program. Rousseau said pictures taken at the celebration would be posted on the U.N. website for the campaign.

“It’s so wonderful to all be together,” said Rousseau in conclusion.

Rousseau said that many of those who faithfully attend this sharing Mass are “Toni’s Campers. ”

Deacon Francis Head Jr. of St. Gabriel Church, Fayetteville, served as the deacon of the word during the Oct. 10 Faith and Sharing Mass. Deacon Head was ordained to the permanent diaconate last February. Photo By Michael Alexander

Toni’s Camp is for any person with physical or mental impairments and is a retreat-style camp with spiritual, social and recreational activities. Although Roman Catholic in nature, the retreat is open to people of all faiths. The camp is held each May at Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge, with Bishop Talley as the longtime spiritual director and dedicated participant. The 2014 camp will be held May 2-4.

Toni’s Camper Ricardo Aranda always attends the Faith & Sharing Mass.

“I haven’t missed one,” said Aranda.

Aranda, who turned 23 on Oct. 15, is a student at Chattahoochee Technical College, planning to transfer to Kennesaw State University.

“It’s the most amazing weekend,” said Aranda. He described Toni’s Camp as part camp, part religious retreat.

Aranda used to go to Camp Twin Lakes for Camp Infinity, and then his mother found out about Toni’s Camp on the archdiocesan website.

“I feel right at home,” he said.

Aranda, a parishioner at St. John Vianney Church in Lithia Springs, said the camp program relaxes him, he sees lots of old friends, and he loves that it is Catholic.

“The thing I absolutely love is Mass,” he said.