By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Staff Photographer | Published October 30, 2014
ATLANTA—Lyke House, the Catholic Center at Atlanta University Center, marked the 15th anniversary of its dedication Oct. 17-19. Students, alumni, benefactors and a host of people in the community who assist in cultivating and shaping the mission of Lyke House were there to celebrate the occasion. This has been a banner year for Lyke House and for those associated with it.
It all began this past June when one of its own, 31-year-old Desmond Drummer, was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Drummer met Lyke House chaplain Msgr. Edward Branch in the spring of 2003, his sophomore year at Morehouse College, one of the five historically black colleges and universities at the AUC. Lyke House is where Drummer completed the RCIA process and became a member of the Catholic Church.
“When I first arrived at Lyke House, everything made sense—it was everything I needed. Catholic young adults from the continent of Africa, the Caribbean and the United States embraced me, welcomed me and taught me more about who I was,” said Father Drummer. Lyke House provided Drummer the foundation that has helped shape the context of his Catholic and priestly formation.
In attendance at Drummer’s ordination and Lyke House reception was Father Christopher Rhodes, another African-American young adult and a 2002 graduate of Morehouse, who entered into full communion with the Catholic Church by way of Lyke House. Father Rhodes, 37, was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky, in May 2012. He, too, credits Lyke House and Msgr. Branch as an integral part of his spiritual and priestly journey.
“The sense of community and the atmosphere of prayer and academic study drew me to Lyke House,” said Father Rhodes.
During Father Drummer’s rite of ordination, Msgr. Branch said he was having flashbacks of Father Drummer and Father Rhodes during their college years at Lyke House.
“I remembered the days before they came into full membership in the Church and their shenanigans as undergraduates. I recall that they were each singularly aggressive about whatever they were engaged in, whether work or play,” said Msgr. Branch.
This year also marked Msgr. Branch’s 40th anniversary as a priest, which was celebrated on Aug. 31. He has spent 35 of those years in campus ministry, and 24 of those 35 have been at the Atlanta University Center. While the students at Lyke House have been impacted by his presence, he says they, in turn, have touched him in ways he never expected.
“I am much more open to collaboration with young adults, and I trust them with large responsibility more than I would have before I got to the AUC,” said Msgr. Branch. “Each of them has in different ways changed my prayer agenda. I have been moved to trust God more because of their trust.”
Today Father Drummer is the parochial vicar at St. Peter Chanel Church in Roswell. Father Rhodes is the parochial vicar at St. Patrick Church in Louisville. He is also a Catholic chaplain for the Kentucky Army National Guard with responsibilities for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, southern Indiana, and southern Ohio.
In addition to the two priestly vocations, Lyke House has produced three lay ministry professionals from among its students, including Ashley Morris, the assistant director for the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s Office for Black Catholic Ministry. Morris, a 2005 graduate of Clark Atlanta University, is also the assistant campus minister of Lyke House.
Father Drummer said Lyke House is not a place for spiritual or intellectual lightweights. For every student who passes through Lyke House, “Msgr. Branch demands that they expand their hearts and minds to receive the word of God and act on it as people of African descent, global citizens, and disciples of Jesus Christ who are called to witness,” he said.
The anniversary weekend included a meet-and-greet on Friday, Oct. 17, a day of service on Saturday, Oct. 18, and a closing Mass with Father Drummer as the principal celebrant on Sunday, Oct. 19. Candis and Christopher Hunter, an alumni couple, were honored with the Merrine McDonald award.
For more information, see the Lyke House website at www.lykehouse.org.