Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo by Johnathon Kelso
Facilities Manager Milton Hawkins stands outside of Corpus Christi Church holding the keys to the parish. Hawkins began working at the parish at the age of 19 and retires after 46 years there.

Stone Mountain

Corpus Christi’s facilities manager retires after 46 years at parish 

By SAMANTHA SMITH, Special to the Bulletin | Published December 28, 2023

STONE MOUNTAIN—A fixture of Corpus Christi Church, Facilities Technician Milton Hawkins will retire Dec. 31 after 46 years of service. 

Known as the man who can fix almost anything, Hawkins, 65, has done it all—from the routine changing of light bulbs in meeting rooms to preparing for the fall Festival of Nations, an outdoor celebration of the many cultures at the Stone Mountain parish. 

Kay DeLafosse, a founding member of Corpus Christi, met Hawkins when he first started working at the parish in 1977. At the time, he was 19 years old. 

Facilities Manager Milton Hawkins sits near a statue of St. Francis Assisi, one of his first projects completed during his decades employed at Corpus Christi church. Photo by Johnathon Kelso

DeLafosse was working in religious education at the time. She remembers Hawkins as ever willing to lend a helping hand.  

“Anything we needed, he was always there to help us,” she said. 

Hawkins is a member of the Corpus Christi family, said DeLafosse, who will miss his wonderful laugh and how he makes the church feel more like home.  

“We’ve watched each other grow up,” said DeLafosse. “I’ve watched him get married, be a father and a grandfather. Our families have all grown up with Milton.” 

‘A genuine, unique soul’ 

On a hot summer day in 1977, Hawkins walked to Corpus Christi in search of a job.  

While working at the Merchandise Mart in downtown Atlanta, Corpus Christi parishioner John Burns approached Hawkins about a maintenance job at the church. 

Because there were no public buses and he didn’t have a car, Hawkins walked from Memorial Drive to “the little white church on the hill,” nestled in a quiet neighborhood. The walk was roughly six miles. 

After meeting with Msgr. Thomas Kenny, pastor of Corpus Christi at the time, Hawkins was hired on the spot. Hawkins remembers when Msgr. Kenny said to him, “Anybody who would walk that far to get a job deserves it.” 

A tabernacle sits on a desk inside the office of Facilities Manager Milton Hawkins at Corpus Christi Church. Photo by Johnathon Kelso

What has kept Hawkins at Corpus Christi for nearly 50 years are the people. And as a Methodist, he has come to appreciate how Catholics celebrate their faith. 

I appreciate “how faithful the parishioners are, how humble they are and how true they are to their faith,” he said. 

Allana-Ann Joseph met Hawkins when she first moved to Georgia in 2012.  

“He is so friendly, so nice,” said Joseph. “He loves everybody. He’s always there to welcome you, to say ‘hi,’ to find out what you need.” 

Joseph worked with Hawkins for five years when she was the administrative assistant at Corpus Christi. With the parish being so diverse, representing more than 50 different cultures, Joseph appreciated Hawkins’ willingness to work with all. 

“It doesn’t matter if you’re rich, old, poor, young—he treats everybody the same,” she said. “I think all the communities love him.” 

One of Joseph’s favorite memories of Hawkins is when the office received a card from a woman who visited the Stone Mountain parish on a weekday during Christmastime. She met Hawkins and asked if she could speak to a priest. He went to look for one, but there wasn’t a priest available. 

So Hawkins took some time to talk to the woman. After a while, she left. Two weeks later, she sent a Christmas card to the church office to thank Hawkins. She was contemplating suicide, and her interaction with Hawkins that day changed her mind. 

“He wasn’t trying to do anything special–he was just being Milton,” said Joseph. “He represents to me what being Christ-like should be about.”  

“He’s such a genuine, unique soul,” she said. “I’m just so happy that I got a chance to meet him and be able to work with him.” 

Father Paschal Amagba, CMF, pastor of Corpus Christi since 2015, described Hawkins as part of the church’s history—connecting the past and present. 

Milton Hawkins, retiring facilities manager at Corpus Christi Church, holds a card received after one of his many meaningful encounters during his decades employed at the parish. The card reads, “To the man who cared enough to get someone to help me. He didn’t show, but you showed me you cared. Thank you for stopping my suicide thoughts.” Photo by Johnathon Kelso

“He knows where things are, even all by memory,” said Father Amagba. “And even though he’s not Catholic, he knows all the Catholic traditions. That’s where he is outstanding.” 

Corpus Christi parishioners will have an opportunity to say goodbye to Hawkins at a reception after every Mass on Sunday, Dec. 31.  

In retirement, “we wish him God’s abundant blessings, protection and happiness,” said Father Amagba. 

For Hawkins, it will be bittersweet as he has spent more than half of his life at the Stone Mountain church. But he knows, “the good Lord will send somebody else, like he sent me.” 

Hawkins looks forward to traveling and spending time with his family, especially his grandchildren. He also plans to ride the Amtrak train across the country. He looks forward to taking things at a slower pace and seeing what the world has to offer. 

“It’s been a pleasure working here,” said Hawkins of Corpus Christi Church. “It’s more than just a job, it’s a holy experience.”