On October 7th, Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christof Pierre, traveled to Atlanta to confer upon Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., the Pallium.
The Pallium is a white liturgical vestment worn over the shoulders by Catholic archbishops throughout the world. It is made from wool that the Pope sheers from a lamb on the Feast of Saint Agnes at the Roman Basilica of Saint Agnes, and it is placed on the tomb of Saint Peter on the eve of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29th). On the feast day, the newly appointed archbishops of the world gather in Rome around the Successor of Peter to receive this special vestment. It serves as a visible sign of the unity of the Catholic Church under Peter, and reminds the archbishop who wears it of his responsibility to tend to the flock of his whole province.
I was slated to travel to Rome this year with Archbishop Hartmayer for this special occasion, but COVID restrictions made that impossible. It was an honor however to attend the celebration on October 7th at Saint Peter Chanel Parish in Roswell, Georgia, where the Pallium was presented to Archbishop. Especially since his installation on May 6th was attended by a mere ten people, this was an opportunity for the Church of Atlanta to gather in celebration.
Archbishop Christof Pierre delivered a magnificent homily, but his off the cuff opening words at the beginning of Mass before presenting the Pallium were particularly good. Simple but good. He had some practice already since he has already presented the Pallium to the newly appointed Archbishops of Philadelphia and Anchorage. Here I share his words where he reminds the Archbishop of his responsibility in maintaining unity, peace, and love:
“You have a new archbishop, and you know he has the responsibility to help his brother bishops in the province to be united because this is what the church is all about. Especially in a society which is divided, the Church should be the sign of unity. But a unity which comes not just as a fruit or result of our own efforts, but because we believe in God. Because we try to be in our lives, in our society, in our families, an even in the political world, signs of unity. So we are challenging this world, but we do not challenge this world only because we want to do so, but because we have been sent for that. This is our vocation and our mission. So the Church is the sacrament of God’s presence in human reality. The Church is not another society, it is a sign of God’s presence where we live.”
“Jesus has called us to become his disciples, Jesus has called us to show the world that love is more powerful than anything else. You [Archbishop Hartmayer] have been chosen by the Holy Father in the name of Christ precisely to be the instrument of unity. If the Church, if the disciples of Jesus are not instruments of peace, what are we doing in this world? And what is our Church all about if not a sign of unity, love and peace?”
“I will put on your shoulders the Pallium. The Pallium which is sent to you by the Holy Father. The Holy Father sent it to me as his representative so that I may put it on your shoulders in the presence of your brother bishops of the province. The Archbishop will have the responsibility of keeping you together, so you may experience what the Church is all about. The living sign of love and unity. This is a small symbol. The Pallium is the sign of your relationship with your brother bishops, but also a sign of your relationship with the Holy Father. May they be one as we are one, says Jesus, with his Father and the Holy Spirit.”
“So I invite you to participate joyfully. We are joyful because we have here a living sign of something that is above us, which will give us the enthusiasm to work for unity and love and peace.”
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