By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Editor | Published September 3, 2020
ATLANTA–During the 2020 Chrism Mass, four priests were honored on their silver jubilees:
Msgr. Joseph Corbett
Msgr. Joseph “Joe” Corbett is celebrating his 25th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood.
A native of County Waterford, Ireland, Msgr. Corbett attended St. John’s College in Waterford. He was ordained on May 28, 1995 for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
Msgr. Corbett’s call to the priesthood began when he was an altar server at his home parish of Holy Cross Church, in Stradbally, a coastal village of 100 families in the south of Ireland. He recalls feeling drawn to serve the church and enjoyed assisting at Mass.
“At some stage during those altar server days, the impetus to serve God as his priest fired up,” he said in a 2010 Georgia Bulletin interview about Atlanta’s Irish priests.
After serving three years in his first assignment as a parochial vicar at All Saints Church in Dunwoody, Father Corbett was asked to begin a new mission in Alpharetta (now Johns Creek). The first Sunday Mass at St. Brigid Mission was celebrated Nov. 1, 1999. In 2000, Archbishop John F. Donoghue elevated the mission to parish status and appointed Father Corbett as the first pastor. While at St. Brigid, the priest served as chaplain for the Alpharetta Police Department.
In 2005, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory appointed Father Corbett as vicar general of the archdiocese. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI honored Father Corbett by conferring the title of monsignor upon him.
“With the Lord’s help and the intercession of Our Lady, St. Brigid and all the saints, I just try to serve the Lord every day, whether it’s here at the chancery or at a parish, school, or elsewhere,” he said upon learning of the honor.
Msgr. Corbett was appointed pastor of St. Jude the Apostle Church, Sandy Springs, in 2014. The parish has more than 80 ministries and vibrant Brazilian and Hispanic communities.
Msgr. Francis G. McNamee
Msgr. Francis “Frank” McNamee marks his 25th anniversary as a priest.
A native of Loughrea, Ireland, Father McNamee studied philosophy at St. Patrick’s College in Thurles and attended seminary at St. John’s College in Waterford City, Ireland. He was ordained May 26, 1995 at St. Brendan’s Cathedral in Loughrea by Atlanta Archbishop John F. Donoghue.
His earlier assignments in the archdiocese included Holy Trinity Church in Peachtree City (1995-97) and St. Catherine of Siena Church in Kennesaw (1997-98). He was appointed the founding pastor of St. Peter Chanel Church, Roswell, serving there for a decade.
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory appointed Father McNamee to serve as rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Jan. 1, 2009. Like many cathedrals in America, Christ the King possesses historical significance. What makes it unique from most other cathedrals, said Msgr. McNamee, is that it’s still a booming parish.
The cathedral parish has 6,000 registered families and 100 ministries.
“The cathedral never sleeps,” the rector once said. “It’s a happening place. It’s very diverse.”
Msgr. McNamee is a fixture on campus at Christ the King School, founded in 1937 by the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart. With his daily visits to the school, the priest’s love of Catholic education is obvious. His liturgical questions during school Masses are a favorite.
“We’ve always tried to continue the spirit of the Grey Nuns,” he said. “That is very important for us.”
Pope Benedict XVI honored the then-Father McNamee with the title of monsignor in 2013.
He continues to guide parishioners during this time of pandemic, addressing fear in one homily.
“The virus is no respecter of persons,” said the pastor. “So, what do we do? We rely on God as our strength, our hope and our consolation.”
Father Lawrence Niese
Father Lawrence “Larry” Niese celebrates his 25th anniversary of priestly ordination.
He began his journey to the priesthood at St. Mary’s in Leipsic, Ohio where he was baptized on January 25, 1959.
“I am so grateful to the parish of St. Mary’s in Leipsic where my early years there helped form me for the priesthood,” said Father Niese.
He was ordained a priest in Ottawa, Ohio at Sts. Peter and Paul Church on Jan. 7, 1995. Because his mother was terminally ill, he hoped she would be able to attend by moving the ceremony forward from the typical June date. But his mother, Monica, died in November 1994. The January ordination took place after a storm dumped inches of snow. Atlanta Archbishop John F. Donoghue and Msgr. Don Kenny, then vocation director, flew to Ohio for the ordination. Father Niese was ordained in the same parish where his parents were married.
The priest served as parochial vicar at Holy Cross Church, Atlanta, for four years. His first ministry as a pastor was at St. Peter Church, LaGrange, for three years, followed by St. Joseph Church, Athens, for two years. For the past 16 years, he has been the pastor at St. Michael the Archangel Church, Woodstock.
Hundreds of St. Michael the Archangel Church parishioners came to a Mass on Jan. 11 to celebrate their pastor and the 25 years since his ordination.
During Mass, the pastor used his 75-year-old chalice passed down to him at ordination. Father Niese uses the antique chalice at every Mass he celebrates.
Father Niese said even with challenges of serving as a priest “it has been a great joy bringing Christ to God’s people.”
Father Paul D. Williams
Father Paul D. Williams marks his 25th anniversary of priestly ordination.
Ordained on March 4, 1995, his vocation journey began as a member of the parish community at St. Andrew Church, Roswell.
Father Williams’ assignments have included St. Pius X Church, Conyers (1995-97); Holy Family Church, Marietta (1997-99) and Sacred Heart Church in Griffin (1999-2001), before serving a year as pastor at Iglesia de Santa Lucia in El Paso Texas.
While in Texas, he received groups of seminarians for Spanish-language immersion through the El Paso Project.
Upon returning to the archdiocese, Father Williams was named pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Carrollton. He served there for seven years.
He was appointed pastor of St. Joseph Church, Dalton, in 2009.
Father Williams persevered in Hispanic ministry beginning outreach to the community early in his priesthood. Despite only having two years of high school Spanish, he quickly began to minister fully in the language.
“The Lord gave me a heart for Hispanic ministry and to now see it bearing beautiful fruit is very fulfilling,” said Father Williams.
Under his leadership, St. Joseph Church established St. Toribio Romo mission. The mission was first housed in a trailer before the archdiocese purchased a vacant car dealership for the church in Chatsworth.
In 2015, the parish began broadcasting from WSEF-LP at 99.5 FM to share Mass and immigration outreach. “Angels of St. Joseph” ministers to special needs children, assisting them to receive the sacraments.
“We were doing Pope Francis before Pope Francis,” Father Williams said in 2016.
St. Joseph’s transformation into a booming bilingual parish reflected Murray County’s demographic and growth.
“The Hispanic population is very community-oriented and very devotional and very sacramental, and so the sacramental life of the church is very much a part of their lives,” said Father Williams in The Georgia Bulletin.