Saturday, December 31, 2011

Photos From 2011

Photojournalist Michael Alexander selected these photos to look back at some of the events that took place in the Atlanta Archdiocese in 2011.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Looking Back at 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Championship Gesture On 11-11-11

The night of November 11 I was down on the sidelines covering the Glory For Christ Football League Championship game between Holy Spirit Preparatory School and Christian Heritage School.

I couldn’t help but notice that a Holy Spirit student (Ricky Walker) was pushing one of the players, Peter Nagle, around in a wheelchair. Nagle, a freshman and first-year defensive tackle on the varsity team, broke his leg in three places during the semifinal game against Augusta Prep.  

With the help of Walker, Nagle was fully engaged in the game. He rolled through the banner at the beginning of the game with the team, he rolled along the sideline following the action and he also joined the team huddle during the timeouts. “Although it was extremely disappointing for Peter, he is no stranger to pain and inconvenience. Peter has cerebral palsy, but he refuses to use ‘handicap’ as an excuse not to play football,” said assistant coach and school chaplain Father Jason Brooks.

“He (Peter) is a tremendous asset and a great inspiration. He has two desires - one is to be treated like everyone else and the other is to play football,” said head coach James Falcetti. “We rally around Peter. He is a tough kid. He's a warrior.”

Well, Holy Spirit was victorious in the title game. When the clock on the scoreboard reached zero, the fans rushed the field in jubilation. They yelled and screamed and jumped for joy. The players passed the trophy around and kissed it like it was the NFL’s Lombardi Trophy. In the middle of all the hoopla was Nagle.

There was a single moment in the midst of all the celebration that caught my attention. A momentary hush came over the players when nose tackle William Oppermann and defensive line coach Jesse Garcia extended the trophy to Nagle. As soon as Nagle touched and held it, the players and the crowd erupted once again, but this time they were chanting Peter Nagle’s name.

        Peter Nagle, in wheelchair right, is the recipient of a 
        championship gesture during a championship moment. 

All season Father Brooks prayed with the players and coaches. They attempted to teach and shape the young men into good players on the field and students of character and followers of Christ off the field. That gesture, a championship gesture, validated the effort and work of the coaches and chaplain over the 12-week season.

Michael Alexander, Staff Photographer

Check out how Holy Spirit won their first football championship in the Nov. 24 issue of The Georgia Bulletin.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Brief slideshow

The newspaper, which is being edited as I type, has powerful photos and stories that capture the ceremonies surrounding the death of Archbishop-emeritus John F. Donoghue. We also have a centerfold of photos taken of happier times during his 11 years as the spiritual leader for Atlanta's Catholics.

I've put together a brief slideshow of some of the photos. But believe me you'll want to hold on to the next issue of the Georgia Bulletin because the photo journalism is very strong.  - Andrew

Try our video maker at Animoto.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

At Sacred Heart Basilica

ATLANTA - The remains of retired Archbishop John F. Donoghue Wednesday morning entered the Basilica of Sacred Heart allowing people to come and pray. 
Olga Myers, of All Saints, like some 30 others came early to pay respects and “to say farewell to my dear friend of many years.”  
An honor guard of knights of Columbus and St. Peter Claver in plumed hats and swords stood beside the open wooden casket. Six lit candles are beside the casket. A kneeler for people to pay their respects is at the foot of the casket. 
Archbishop Donoghue died on Friday, Nov. 11. He was 83.  

There will be much more about retired Archbishop John F. Donoghue in the next "Georgia Bulletin." Please be on the look out for it.

If you are on Twitter, follow #+Donoghue to get reports throughout the day. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Timeline of Archbishop-emeritus John F. Donoghue

f Archbishop John F. Donoghue served as the spiritual leader for Catholics in and around Atlanta from August 1993 to December 2004. He encouraged the expansion of Catholic schools and instituted the annual Eucharistic Congress.

This timeline is just a brief survey of the milestones of his time as the archbishop.

Atlanta Catholics To Remember Archbishop Donoghue

Here is the schedule for the funeral rites for Archbishop-emeritus John F. Donoghue which begin on Wednesday at the Sacred Heart Basilica, on Peachtree Street.

View Funeral Rites for retired Archbishop John F. Donoghue in a larger map Clergy and parishioners are invited to participate in all of the ceremonies at the Basilica.

The Sacred Heart Basilica is located at 353 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta. As you may know parking is extremely limited, so visitors are strongly encouraged park in the parking lot at 680 W. Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta (the old chancery building) and ride a free shuttle buse.

It will leave every 30 minutes from 9:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. On Thursday morning, November 17, shuttle buses will be provided from 8:15 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Reflecting On An Old Soul During All Souls Day

On October 16, Nettie Singleton, the oldest living member of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Atlanta, passed away at the age of 102 years old. “Ms. Nettie,” as she was affectionately known by her fellow parishioners, was born in Eatonton, Ga., in 1909.

Nettie Singleton attends a 1997 rosary rally.

Singleton enrolled in Our Lady of Lourdes School in 1915, where she attended up through her graduation from eighth grade. She would recall over the years how she met St. Katharine Drexel as a student. Drexel, the founder of the Blessed Sacrament Sisters, helped establish Our Lady of Lourdes School and would make visits from time to time.

Singleton grew up in a family with an African Methodist Episcopal Church background, but she converted to Catholicism in 1933. In his October 22 eulogy, former Our Lady of Lourdes pastor Father John Adamski indicated that the church’s baptism register contains many references to Nettie Singleton as a godmother for others. “Indeed, Nettie constantly sought to help others and share her faith,” said Adamski. For many years she served in a number of church related organizations. Singleton was the first secretary of the Our Lady of Lourdes School PTA.

I photographed Ms. Singleton for the first time in 1997 during an October rosary rally at St. Thomas More Church, Decatur. She was just four score and eight at that time. Altogether I probably photographed her on three different occasions. She would always say, “Baby, I’m going to break your camera.” Well, she never broke my camera, but we would both break out in a laugh.

The last time I photographed Ms. Singleton was for a series of photos that accompanied Andrew Nelson’s 2009 story (Centenarians’ Serving Spirit Hailed On Birthdays). She reached the century mark that year. Her family presented her with an honorary “Doctorate of Evangelism” on her 100th birthday.

Nettie Singleton, right, celebrates her 
100th birthday at Our Lady of Lourdes Church

The funny thing about Ms. Singleton is I believe she stopped aging at a certain point. Her physical appearance in 2009 was not much different from that initial encounter in 1997. “Ms. Nettie” was well preserved and immensely blessed by God. That’s probably why she’s in the All Souls Class of 2011.

May the soul of Nettie Singleton and all the souls of the faithfully departed rest in peace.


Michael Alexander, Staff Photographer

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Coach Who Balances Multiple Roles

It’s not unheard of for coaches to coach at least one of their children. Marist School’s Mike Trapani coached his daughter in softball and his son in baseball. Our Lady of Mercy’s Tony Caruso also coached his son in basketball.

However, for the last three seasons, Bill Schmitz, athletic director and head volleyball coach at Our Lady of Mercy School, Fayetteville, has coached his two eldest children, Olivia, 18, and Mary Katherine, 16, in the same sport at the same time. Olivia is the team’s senior outside hitter and Mary Katherine is a junior setter.

                          Coach Bill Schmitz sits between his daughters Olivia, left, and Mary Katherine

“It’s been both challenging and extremely rewarding. My daughters and I are very close, but it is very tough on them since they are virtually with their dad all of the time. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I will cherish our time together for years to come,” said Schmitz. He said the best thing about coaching his daughters is he can be a part of their lives, but the toughest part is the feeling that the three of them are under a magnifying glass.

For Olivia and Mary Katherine the hardest part about being coached by dad is the occasional frustration and tension with each other that can arise during games, but in the end they always get through it and they stick together. “The best thing is my dad comes to every game, so his support is always there,” said Olivia.

As a coach and a dad Schmitz is proud of his daughters’ accomplishments. Olivia is ranked number one in the state in kills for all classifications and she is ranked 13 in the nation for the same category. Mary Katherine is ranked number one in the state in aces and holds a number five ranking in the nation.

This year Our Lady of Mercy’s volleyball team made it to the Sweet 16 of the state tournament. Unfortunately for Schmitz and his squad, they were eliminated by Greater Atlanta Christian School, a very good team competing in this Saturday’s state championship game.

This is Olivia’s last season on the court with her team, her sister and her coach as she prepares to head off for college. Olivia said she’ll miss her biggest supporter. “Although he is my coach, he has never made me feel like I've let him down or disappointed him, even if I miss a serve or need coaching. I can tell that he is always proud of me, even if I'm playing horribly,” said Olivia.

Both siblings said they have learned valuable life lessons from their coach and dad during these years of volleyball together. Olivia said he's taught her not to take life too seriously. “I'm a very focused and determined person and sometimes I miss out on things, because I let my passion for the sport get in the way of being a good teammate or a good leader. He is always reminding me to just breathe and let things be.”

Mary Katherine, who returns for one more season under her dad, said the greatest lesion she has learned is perseverance. “He has shown me that even when things get hard I have to push through it and he’s always got my back. This lesson has carried over into my faith as well as academics.”

Michael Alexander, Staff Photographer

See the volleyball report in the Oct. 27 issue of The Georgia Bulletin. 

Update: Eagles Landing Christian Academy defeated Blessed Trinity 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 29-27). St. Pius X defeated Woodward Academy 3-1 (25-23, 20-25, 25-16, 25-21) to advance to the state finals against Sandy Creek High School, Tyrone. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Teaching With A Touch Of Grace

Earlier this month I covered the dedication of Pinecrest Academy’s new John Paul II Lower School Activities Building. During the ribbon cutting ceremony, sandwiched between the Lower School principal and the construction company’s project manager was a woman named My Thi Huynh. To my surprise she was listed in the press release as “the teacher who has taught in the Lower School the longest.”

I met My Thi and her husband, Deacon Hung Viet, for the first time back in 1998. I was covering the annual Eucharistic celebration of Our Lady of LaVang at Riverdale’s Our Lady of Vietnam Church. Even though it was not her official role, My Thi was like the parish ambassador, and she made me feel very welcome during that initial visit to the parish. 

In August of 1998 Pinecrest Academy broke ground on what began as its 53-acre Cumming location. I was there as Archbishop emeritus John F. Donoghue presided over the ceremony to turn over the dirt, mixed with Georgia red clay, marking the beginning of its Forsyth County existence. Today it has grown into a sprawling campus with 15 buildings, two gymnasiums and three athletic fields.

Through it all My Thi has been a part of the Pinecrest Academy growth and expansion. Initially she served as a parent volunteer when her youngest son John attended the school. In 1997 she became a teacher’s assistant at the Lower School. My Thi said it’s a wonderful opportunity to work with the young children at Pinecrest Academy. “It’s like a family at Pinecrest and there’s a love expressed by all at the school,” said My Thi. Before the students arrive, the teachers come together in the hallway each morning to pray that the Lord will show them the way to help and guide each child through the day.

My Thi came to the United States from Vietnam in 1975. She is the seventh of 10 children. My Thi and her husband were married at St. Margaret of Scotland Church, Morristown, N.J., in 1978. In addition to John, they are parents to Peter, 30, and Jason, 29. Both young men are seminarians with the Legionaries of Christ in Rome. In her spare time My Thi said she likes to cook, garden and take walks so she can meditate and reflect.

I’ve always known My Thi as a kind person who exudes a jovial and peaceful disposition. I also know her to be a devout and faith-filled Catholic woman. She told me she attends 7 a.m. Mass in the school’s main chapel every morning. Even though she resides in Norcross, occasionally I see her at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta; yet, until recently I never knew that since 1994, she spends one hour a week praying before the Blessed Sacrament in the adoration chapel.

My Thi said the innocence and pure souls of Pinecrest’s youngest students provides an example to her. “The parents give their children to me so I can look after and care for them, so that’s a big responsibility for me and all the teachers. But what a blessing and a gift,” concluded My Thi.  

Michael Alexander, Staff Photographer

See the story and photos surrounding dedication of Pinecrest Academy’s new John Paul II Lower School Activities Building in the Oct. 27 issue of The Georgia Bulletin.

Monday, October 10, 2011

50 Years later, here they are, Earl and Barbara Beck

50 Years of Marriage Begins with Mutual Dislike by GeorgiaBulletin

Please listen to Barbara Beck tell how her marriage of 50 years to her husband, Earl, began with mutual dislike. It's a great story.

You can read my article in the Georgia Bulletin about the annual Mass honoring couples in 2011 who celebrate their 50th and 60th wedding anniversaries. The story appears in the Oct. 13 issue.

On a side note, my own parents - who marked in September the 45th anniversary of their wedding - were set up by their parents. My dad's mother worked at Syracuse University as did my mom. My grandmother suggested my dad take out her co-worker and the rest is history (Although, as my father tells it, at the proposal, my mom tried to talk him out of it. My mom is mum on the subject.)  Anyhoo. I wonder if it was common for parents to play the matchmaker back in the day. How'd your parents meet?


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Voices of the Nigerian Catholic Community Choir

I set out for the inaugural Mass of the Pan African Catholic Organization of the Atlanta last weekend.
Wandering around before the service began, I found a choir of women, wearing colorful clothes, practicing for the upcoming Mass. You can hear the choir below.

Here's my lede for the story:
Worshippers recited prayers in five languages as they praised God African-style.

Crowds filled the pews at Stone Mountain’s Corpus Christi Church, with many wearing vibrant African clothes and women in elaborate headdresses.

At the start of Mass, five women danced down the center aisle of Corpus Christi Church to the drum beat of African rhythms, as one carried the book with the day’s Bible readings on her back.

Choirs from the communities of Cameroon, Gambian, Nigeria raised their voices to lead the faithful in song.

The Pan African Catholic Organization of Atlanta in the archdiocese held its inaugural Mass on Saturday, Oct. 1, bringing together nine different immigrant nationalities and ethnic groups.
Some details about the African Catholic community came from a survey done four years ago:
A 2007 survey for the Office of Black Catholic Ministry estimated in the archdiocese there are more than 22,000 black Catholics.

And in the survey, about one in three respondents identified themselves as African. The largest number of people born in Africa came from Nigeria, followed by Eritrea and Ivory Coast. (Cote d’Ivoire).

Finally, the choir.  (To enlarge the photo, please hover the cursor over the photo.).

listen to ‘Church choir practice ’ on Audioboo


Thursday, September 1, 2011

What I Saw:

Song at a funeral for an Atlanta Catholic priest by anelson-1

I attended the funeral of Marist Father Larry Schmuhl last week, and I wrote about it in the Sept. 1 "Georgia Bulletin."

There's a custom I first noticed at other funerals for priests. And I don't know if it's part of the funeral rite for priests, or a nice tradition that has been adopted by clergy. (Or perhaps lay people also have this custom, but I am not familiar with it.)

After the prayer of commendation and the conclusion of Mass, priests gather and circle the casket before it's placed in the hearse.

The group chants the prayer "Salve Regina" in Latin. The prayer may date to the 11th century, according to Wikipedia.

In Latin:
Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiae,
vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae,
ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos
misericordes oculos ad nos converte;
et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.
In English:
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sharing A Common Date In August

Today, August 11, is the feast of Italy’s St. Clare. This young woman left her life of nobility to follow St. Francis of Assisi and give her life over to God. St. Clare is also the founder of the order of nuns known as the Poor Clares. Back on Palm Sunday of this year the Poor Clares commenced a yearlong celebration marking their 800th anniversary. The celebration will culminate on St. Clare’s feast day a year from now. St. Clare started the order on Palm Sunday in 1212.

A stained glass image of St. Clare inside the Church of San Damiano, Assisi, Italy.

(Georgia Bulletin Photo By Michael Alexander, June 2005)

My first encounter with the Poor Clares took place back in 1993 or 1994 when Mark Zimmermann, my former editor at The Catholic Standard, Washington, DC, assigned writer Richard Szczepanowski to do a story on the nuns who reside in the nearby neighborhood of Brookland. I joined Richard in an effort to provide photographs for the feature piece.

Initially I must have thought it was going to be pretty boring covering a group of cloistered nuns, but was I ever wrong. They were so happy, so full of life and so in love with Christ. We became good friends with the Poor Clares after the story was published, and at least once a week or more I would meet Richard at their chapel for 7 a.m. Mass.

Some mornings I would take our two children before I dropped them off at St. Gabriel School. At the time the youngest was in kindergarten and the oldest was in the fourth grade. We often enjoyed conversing with the Mother Superior Sister Margaret Mary and the other nuns after Mass in the parlor. The biggest treat for the kids was playing with the Poor Clares’ beagle hound name Kyra. To this day we remain friends with the Poor Clares, and we like to stop by their monastery and home at 3900 13th Street, NE, during visits to D.C. In addition to their friendship, we appreciate their prayers on our behalf.

Today is also the our 27th wedding anniversary. On this day in 1984 at 1 p.m. Tramell and I were married at St. Anthony of Padua Church, Atlanta. To be perfectly honest, we didn’t know it was the feast of St. Clare. We picked that day because it was a Saturday, the church was available and it was a good weekend for relatives and friends. While St. Francis of Assisi was probably delighted that Clare answered the call to religious life, I’m equally blessed and thankful that Tramell became my soul mate in our matrimonial life.

Wedding Day

(Photo by Julius Alexander, August 11, 1984)

Happy feast day St. Clare.

Happy anniversary Tramell. I love you today and always!

Michael Alexander, Staff Photographer

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Monk For The Ages

Last week writer Andrew Nelson and I went out to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, to interview and photograph Father Luke Kot, someone I would only describe as a real gem and living legend in monastic circles. It was a week before his 100th birthday.

I arrived about 40 minutes ahead of our scheduled 10 a.m. meeting, so I could set up and scout out the historic barn, which is a central component of the monastery’s new Monastic Heritage Center.

Just a few minutes after the hour Brother Callistus, the monastery’s public relations and development coordinator, was seen approaching the barn, walking beside the 99-year-old monk. Pushing his walker, Father Luke stopped to pose for a photo and talk to a passerby he saw along the way. It was like he was walking the red carpet to the Oscars. “Come on Father Luke, come on Father Luke,” implored Brother Callistus.

As I held the door open Brother Calistus asked, “Do you know who this guy is?” Father Luke stopped in his tracks, formed a camera with his hands and said, “The photographer!” He walked to the center of the barn and sat next to Andrew for the interview. Andrew said he needed about 20 minutes, so I left so they could have their time alone. After Brother Callistus led me on my first tour of the Monastic Heritage Center, we returned to the barn for the photo session.

I decided I wanted to try three different poses within the barn’s interior and I was hoping he would be able to withstand the demands I was placing upon him. On top of that, the air condition was not on in the barn and I’m guessing the temperature must have been in the low to mid 80s. First I took some photos of him in front of a display featuring an image of the Abbey Church. It almost looks like we’re really outdoors in front of it.

From there we moved a few feet over to the front of a display with an old black and white image of three monks. There was one moment of brief laughter among all of us as we were moving from spot to the other. As Father Luke was getting up from his walker, unaware of what he was doing, Brother Callistus just instinctively grabbed the walker and moved it to the front of the black and white display. For a brief moment before Brother Callistus realized what happened, Father Luke was left standing there wondering, ‘Why did he just take my walker? Doesn’t he know I need that?’ It was an unforgettable look.

It was just further indication of what a trooper Father Luke was that day. He was so patient and so giving of himself. For the final shot I posed him in front of the monastic cowls and hats. It was also during these final series of shots that my sync cord started to malfunction and the strobe light would not fire. I had to use available light, in combination with the modeling light.

By the time we finished, nearly an hour later, I was sweating through my shirt. Brother Callistus asked if we wanted some water, but since the 99-year-old monk had made no such request or never asked to stop for a break, neither could I.

Father Luke has a great face, wonderful stories and a beautiful spirit. You can read Andrew’s story about Father Luke turning 100-years-old in the August 4 issue of The Georgia Bulletin.

Happy Birthday Father Luke and thanks for your time.

Oh, by the way, we did stop in the Abbey Gift Shop and Café on the way out and purchased two bottles of water.

Michael Alexander, Staff Photographer

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Happy Birthday to Father Luke!

Today, Wednesday, Aug. 3, Father Luke Kot, a monk at the Trappist Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, turns 100.

You can see the multimedia slide show photographer Michael Alexander and I did when he was a young man at 98. We've done a few of the slideshows and this remains one of my favorites.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Photographing Sisters of Distinction

One of my assignments this month has been tracking down five of the six sister jubilarians celebrating between 25 and 60 years of service with their respective religious orders. I set out to take their portraits with one light in order to capture various moods and expressions.

The first sister I photographed was Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Sister Esther Ordonez. We met inside St. Lawrence Church, Lawrenceville. I’ve known Sister Esther for a number of years because of her devoted work within the Hispanic community. It was an emotional period for Sister Esther. Just a few weeks earlier her mother had died, and she was also preparing for a move to Paducah, Ky., after 18 years of working in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. The sadness comes across in some of the images. While the side and split lighting evokes emotion, it also hides some of her pain in the shadows. If Sister Esther found it difficult to pose for me, she never let it be known. She was very patient and cordial.

After I finished with Sister Esther I drove over to Divino Nino Jesus Mission, Duluth, to photograph Sister Martha Herrera, a Franciscan Sister of Our Lady of Refuge. Sister Martha was wearing a bright, white habit and she was in a cheerful mood. I tried to capture her jovial demeanor in the photos.

Nearly a week later I went to the residence of Sisters of St. Joseph (Concordia, Kansas), Sister Jodi Creten. It was pouring down raining when I arrived. I had to wait for the rain to subside a bit before I could bring the equipment out of the car. Sister Jodi lives in the community behind Most Blessed Sacrament Church called St. Joseph’s Place. Photographing Sister Jodi was like photographing an old friend. In the late 80s/early 90s our family volunteered at St. Thomas Manor in East Point. It was a small personal care home formerly operated by the Archdiocese of Atlanta. At the time Sister Jodi was the resident services coordinator. I took a couple of different shots in the living room of her small one bedroom apartment, but the shot of here sitting by her window with the strobe light over her right shoulder works the best.

A day after I photographed Sister Jodi, I went to the apartment of Sister Angela Abood, a Sister of St. Joseph (Carondolet, St. Louis). She lives in a senior high rise building in Decatur. In fact, she likes to minister to residents there. Out of the three previously mentioned sisters, Sister Angela is the only Georgia native. She used to teach school and it was just my luck that her building had a library on the first floor. The librarian working at the time, a woman by the name of Dorothy Collins, allowed me to set up in there. The only request Sister Angel made for her photo was that I show the cross around her neck, a jubilee gift from one of the residents. I think Sister Angela enjoyed the photo session as much as I did.

I have one more sister to photograph, Sister Susan Arcaro. She’s celebrating her 50th anniversary with the Congregation of Our Lady of the Retreat in The Cenacle.
You will be able to read the story of the other sisters in upcoming issues of the paper.You can read Stephen O’Kane’s story of Sister Esther, Sister Jodi and Sister Angela in the July 21 issue of The Georgia Bulletin.

Michael Alexander, Staff Photographer

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Trip to Dalton

Shrine on the campus of St. Joseph Church, Dalton

I drove to Dalton to meet with Father Paul Williams on Friday, July 15. He is the pastor of St. Joseph Church, a parish that is about 90 percent Hispanic. The story focused on the STATE immigration law, HB 87. That evening hundreds of Hispanics gathered in a lively prayer service and I figured I could speak with a few folks about the law. I wrote about it in the July 21 issue of the Georgia Bulletin.

I shot this video and then used the scene as my lede for the story:

I also took this photo of leaders of the prayer group crowded into this small room. I heard this intense sound coming from the room before I could peer in and see the scene. I couldn't understand what they were saying, but it was obviously heart felt.


Also, Father Williams and his community are expected to be profiled in Time Magazine. A writer and a crew of photographers visited Dalton and the parish to take a look it from a national perspective. I'm curious to see what they saw and wrote. --Andrew

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Revive! with tweets, photo and video

Monday, June 27, 2011

Revive! @ Eucharistic Congress 2011

Here's the remarks by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory at the Revive! celebration on the first
evening of Eucharistic Celebration 2011.

Adoration Chapel

There's a constant stream of women, men, and children into the conference room set aside for prayer and eucharistic adoration at the Georgia International Conference Center, long time home for the Eucharistic Congress.

The Atlanta Archdiocese just marked the 16th annual celebration on June 24th and 25th. Estimates are that more than 20,000 people attend.

Below is a photo of adoration chapel with the diversity of people in prayer.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Video Interview with Father James Martin

Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest and best-selling author, visited Atlanta during the last week in May. He did a Q & A with young people at the Ignatius Jesuit Retreat House in Atlanta. Some 60 people came to hear him speak.

After talking for close to two hours, posing for photos and signing his books, Father Martin kindly stood in front of my iPhone for a short interview on video. (I'm a bit of a novice with the video on my phone, so it's a bit wobbly. I need to work on that.)
Here's the video:

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pretty Good Mission Statement

The great thing about the Web is how way leads on to way. You can forget where the trail started. That's how I stumbled on this essay at a publication called Ekklesia: A New Way of Thinking.
As someone who has hung out with the Religion Newswriters Association (RNA) types for a half century, I’d argue that the problem results not from villainy or bias so much as from the nature of things, and have come up with a formula: if religion is covered as news, the bad stuff will predominate; if it appears as features, the good side gets a chance to show.

News waits for someone to embezzle or kill or seduce another in the name of God. Features allow for creative reporters to get up close to believing and behaving people who use their imagination, faith, energy, and communal spirit to serve others.

(To read the full note at "Bad news and good news in religion reporting.")

The author uses a story in the New York Times to point out how these feature stories tell another side to religious infighting. Here it is: Kim Severson, 'For Some, Helping With Disaster Relief Is Not Just Aid, It’s a Calling,'

That's the goal at the Georgia Bulletin's story telling

What do you think? How do you think we are doing?

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Wall of Scholars

Newman Scholar portraits hang on the wall at Lyke House.

Before the seniors at the Atlanta University Center marched to the sound of “Pomp and Circumstance” and the underclassmen returned home, Lyke House – the Catholic Center at Atlanta University announced its 2011 Newman Scholar. Since 1992 a Newman Scholar has been named at the end of each school year. The student members of Lyke House recommend three people to the chaplain, Father Edward Branch. Then Father Branch chooses the candidate who best exemplifies the qualities of service, scholarship and spirituality.

This year Christopher Lamb was the center’s twenty-first Newman Scholar. The 21-year-old native of Portsmouth, Va., is a Clark Atlanta University student majoring in film. The honor was bestowed upon him on May 1 following the 10:15 a.m. Mass. “It was humbling to get the honor,” said Lamb. “It shows the love and respect I earned from my peers and Father Branch,”

“He’s constant in his service at the Catholic Center. In terms of leadership and growth development, he’s outstanding,” said Father Branch speaking about his selection of Lamb. “He has developed a confidence when it comes to talking about his faith and defending it around campus, especially in the face of ignorant and false accusations made about Catholics.”

For his or her recognition the Newman Scholar receives a small stipend and a sitting for a hand-drawn charcoal portrait by artist James Adair. Adair has drawn all 21 Newman Scholars. The first seven were done from a photograph, but since then the rest have been live sittings. Adair is an Atlanta native and retired public school art teacher who has also been a professional artist for 50 years. “It’s always a pleasure and a personal test as an artist,” said Adair. “It’s a successful endeavor when I have the opportunity to engage in conversation and talk to the student.” Through conversation with the students he is able to acquire various personality traits, strengths and interests, which he uses beyond their physical appearance, to compose the drawing. Each sitting takes an average of 45 minutes to an hour.

Artist James Adair draws 2011 Newman Scholar Christopher Lamb.

Nineteen framed drawings (two are still in the process of being framed) of Newman Scholars hang on the wall of Lyke House’s Sister Thea Bowman Library. Many of the past Newman Scholars have gone on to earn Master’s and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees like Francis Insaidoo, who earned a doctorate in biochemistry last year at the University of Notre Dame. Alessandra Ennett-Shepard, the very first Newman Scholar, received her Ph.D. in physics and currently works for Eli Lilly and Company.

Others like Desmond Drummer and John Phillips have gone on to pursue religious vocations. Drummer is a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Atlanta and studies at Mundelein Seminary near Chicago. Phillips is known today as Brother John Paul Phillips, an Order of Preachers, Dominican friar who is pursuing a Masters of Divinity and Theology degree at the Aquinas Institute of Theology.

Michael Alexander, Staff Photographer

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chapel Blessing

SMYRNA - The Atlanta Archdiocese celebrated the blessing of its new chapel Thursday, May 26, at the Chancery.
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory was the main celebrant, along with Aux. Bishop Luis R. Zarama and several priests and deacons.

These photos were taken with my iPhone and then filtered through a couple photo apps.


From upper left, the Blessed Sacrament ciborium
before being taken to the tabernacl; prayer card cover;
and Easter Candle and reader

Gathering prayer with altar
before blessing with holy water


These windows adorn the chapel, dedicated to St. Dominic.
Clockwise from left, Mother and Child Jesus, with on the right St. Joseph, and St. Dominic. He is the patron of astronomers, astronomy and falsely accused people.

You can read and hear about the installation of the stained glass here.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ordination at Holy Spirit Monastery

I had the good fortune to spend some time at the Holy Spirit Monastery recently. The assignment was to write about the ordination of a monk.

CONYERS - With prayers and ancient rituals, the monks at Holy Spirit Monastery and friends celebrated the ordination of Brother Augustine Myslinski to the priesthood.
Friends and colleagues crowded the abbey church Saturday, April 30, as streaming light from the stained glass windows made the stone glow blue.
A long faith journey for now Father Augustine Myslinksi came to an end when he kneeled in front of Auxiliary Bishop Luis R. Zarama and the bishop in silent prayer laid his hands on the monk’s head. During that moment, the church teaches that a man receives the Holy Spirit to serve as a priest.
“May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment,” said the bishop.

Read the rest of the story and in next week's edition of the Georgia Bulletin. Below is the video of the procession at the end of Mass:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Lent Recipe -- Update

The dish was a hit. Words like "wow" and "yum" were thrown around.

What I liked is the zip in the food from the red pepper. It gave the meal a bit of a zing. I hadn't been expecting that, even though I made it.

It was a very easy to make and took no time. I am going to be adding this to my cookbook.

The newspaper invited, asked, pleaded with readers to submit Lent recipes to run in the paper. We wanted to find dishes to get out of the It's-Friday-it-must-be-fish-sticks-for-dinner rut. You readers delivered. We received about a dozen recipes to try.

Yours truly made shrimp with orzo. I had most things - olive oil and spices - in my kitchen. But I faced a bit of choice with buying the shrimp and figuring out where to find orzo.

I'll update this post after we taste the meal.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Immigration Rally

Atlanta - Thousands of rallied against tough illegal immigration bills at the Georgia Statehouse Thursday, March 24.

Opponents of the law say the law will promote racial profiling, hurt the state's economy as law enforcement is given broader powers to enforce immigration laws.

Here's some photos and a video at the end taken with a mobile phone:

US Rep. John Lewis, D- Ga., a civil rights icon, rallied protesters at the immigration rally in Atlanta.

Look for a full report and thoughts about people who attended the rally in next week's Georgia Bulletin.