By ANDREW NELSON, Staff reporter | Published April 16, 2014
ATLANTA—One priest marched for civil rights. Another served in violent Atlanta public housing projects. And one left his native Pennsylvania to minister to the small Catholic community in north Georgia.
All of these three priests mark milestones this year, commemorating 25 and 50 years since their ordinations. Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory and their brother priests recognized their years of ministry at the 2014 Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta, on Tuesday, April 15.
Father Edward Danneker is a senior retired priest.
He was born Sept. 5, 1937, in Williamsport, Pa. He attended St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Md., and was ordained in 1964. His first Georgia parish was St. Thomas More, Decatur, where he served as an associate pastor for several years and then as pastor of numerous parishes. He retired as pastor from St. Luke Church, Dahlonega, in 2002. Father Danneker has continued to help in parishes. He lives in the rectory at Atlanta’s Holy Cross Church with fellow priests.
He attended seminary initially to be ordained for a diocese in Pennsylvania, but he, along with two seminary friends, wanted to be priests here once they learned about the formation of the then Diocese of Atlanta. Father Danneker remembered a religious sister in school talked “always in praise” about serving in the South and so he applied to be a seminarian for the new diocese.
In addition, he was impressed with the Catholic leader, Archbishop Paul J. Hallinan, who seemed “future looking” with his enthusiasm for Vatican Council II.
One of his ministries was for a dozen years to serve as the liaison between the archdiocese and Atlanta’s interfaith and ecumenical community.
“It made me a better Catholic because I had to understand (Scripture) better when I discussed it with ministers of other denominations,” said the 76-year-old, with his eyeglasses hanging on a rope from his neck.
New priests should reach out to get involved with the broader community and neighborhoods outside their parish walls, he said. “I was always at home with other denominations.”
Considering the span of his ministry, Father Danneker said the Catholic community has spread beyond what people imagined.
“It mushroomed. The growth in the archdiocese far outreached any expectation they had. There are churches that have been built I haven’t even seen,” he said.
Father Danneker’s fellow priests and friends called him a thoughtful minister who has touched many people’s lives. “Father Danneker dedicated his life to the people of Georgia and we are deeply grateful. For 50 years he has left a trail in the name of God. We are most grateful and we wish him well,” said his friend, Father Daniel McCormick.
Trust in the plan
Claretian Father Richard H. DeTore credits the folk music of the 1960s for influencing his life as a priest.
“An essential point of folk music is it wants to move people to act. It is very much a social justice form of music,” said Father DeTore, who as a seminarian played in his own troupe called the Sundown Singers.
At peace rallies, at civil rights marches, the musicians sparked people to the cause, he said. “Folk music was an important part,” he said.
The 76-year-old was born in Philadelphia in 1937, the oldest of seven and the product of two religious Italian and Irish families.
After World War II, his family moved to the Panama Canal Zone where his grandfather had worked constructing the modern wonder. Getting to know the American missionaries there sparked his interest in missionary priesthood. At 14, he boarded a plane in Panama that took him 3,000 miles to southern California and the Claretian Junior Seminary. He was the only man out for his 24 classmates who ended up being ordained.
He felt called to ministry even at that young age. Seminary fit comfortably, he said, even though he was the “most homesick kid in that school.” He didn’t see his family for two years because of the distance to travel. He started seminary not sure if he’d stay to ordination but wanted to try it out. And after two years, he felt confident that this calling from God was to serve as a priest.
Father DeTore made his first vows as a Claretian missionary in 1956 and went on to study philosophy at seminaries in California. In 1960 he began his study of theology at Catholic University in Washington, D. C. During his summers he did graduate work in biology, while in the early sixties he could be found at folk music events and civil rights demonstrations, including at the March on Washington to hear Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
In 1964 he was ordained at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Since then his priestly ministry has varied, but most often in parishes in six states. In 1974, he was a pioneer member of Vatican II Institute in Menlo Park, Calif. From 1982 to 1986, he taught at the Claretian Institute of Philosophy in Nigeria where he helped train native clergy. In 2007 he was elected provincial of the congregation’s Western Province of the U.S. and in 2011 he came to serve as a parochial vicar at Corpus Christi Church, Stone Mountain.
New priests can be true to ministry when they trust they are guided by God, he said. Men starting as priests and men in seminary should know they are responding to God’s call and trust in the plan, he said.
“You need to have an adventurous spirit, be wiling to take a risk,” he said.
‘Grateful for 25 years’
Atlanta Auxiliary Bishop David P. Talley said his years of ministry have allowed him to “offer everything I have in my heart.”
“I am grateful for 25 years,” said Bishop Talley, who often interrupted his thoughts to say hello to priests passing him in the hallway.
“I have received more than I have given from the people at the parishes I’ve been a part of, and the priests I have served with,” said the bishop, the first native Georgian to serve as a bishop in the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
He was born in Columbus and attended Hardaway High School there. He graduated from Auburn University, earning a bachelor’s in philosophy. A convert to the faith, he credited the Trappist monk and author Thomas Merton for attracting him to the Catholic Church.
He studied at Sacred Heart School of Theology and the University of Georgia, earning a master’s degree in social work.
He later served as a social worker at Atlanta’s public housing projects.
He attended St. Meinrad School of Theology and earned a master of divinity degree. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Atlanta in June 1989.
He then earned graduate degrees in canonical studies at the Pontificia Universita Gregoriana in Rome, Italy, including a doctorate in canon law. He then continued his studies in spiritual direction and spirituality at Spring Hill College.
He served in his first assignment as parochial vicar and administrator at St. Jude the Apostle Church. He served as assistant director of vocations, as director of vocations, tribunal judge, judicial vicar and chancellor. In 2001, he was named a prelate of honor with the title of monsignor by Pope John Paul II. Msgr. Talley served as pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Church; parochial vicar at St. Anne Church in Columbus, in the Diocese of Savannah; and pastor of St. John Neumann Church and St. Brigid Church.
Msgr. Talley has also served on the archdiocesan Hispanic Ministry board, in the permanent diaconate program, and in the ministry to those with disabilities.
He was ordained an auxiliary bishop by Archbishop Gregory in April 2013.
He chose as his motto, “Dabo Vobis Cor Novum,” which translates “I will give you a new heart.” It is a phrase from the Book of Ezekiel.
Bishop Talley said, “It is how the Lord allowed me to know him. It’s through the great love of his heart.”
He often meets with seminarians, as he did when he served as the director of vocations. He tells them of the unexpected blessing and happiness that can come from being a priest.
“If God is calling you, and you have said yes to the invitation, it’s a great life and an extraordinary experience of love,” he said.