Father Andrew Dana Dalton, a Lassiter High School graduate who has been studying in Rome the past two years, was recently ordained as a member of the Legionaries of Christ, a Catholic congregation. On Thursday, he shared fond memories of Pope Benedict, whom Dalton presented with a lectionary at the Oct. 7 Papal Mass.
“I count it as a blessing to have been present in Saint Peter’s Square on the day of Pope Benedict’s election and now to accompany him in his last days in the Chair of Peter,” said Dalton, who trains near the Vatican in order to be close to the pope. “I have always admired the rare mix of high talent and profound humility in this man of God. His gesture of stepping down fills me with affection and stirs me to faith.”
Local Catholics look forward, back
Closer to home, some Cobb residents attended a Mass of Thanksgiving for Pope Benedict at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Buckhead on Thursday evening.
David Pace of Kennesaw, who attends Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Marietta, fondly recalls when his daughter, Olivia, was blessed by the pope on her third birthday during a visit to Rome in early 2010.
“We were kind of blown away by the whole thing,” Pace said of the experience.
Pace would like to see the papal conclave choose a Pope who is a good pastor.
“There are over a billion Catholics in the world. Some think one way, some think another,” Pace said. “It’s going to take a real good pastor to unify everything. I’m just going on faith that the Holy Spirit is going to bring us the man we need.”
The Rev. John Walsh, pastor at Saint Joseph, said Pope Benedict did a good job leading the church in the aftermath of sexual abuse scandals in the years prior to his papacy.
“He was trying to get people to come back and living their faith,” Walsh said. “And for a man of 85, he was doing an awful lot.”
Walsh said the College of Cardinals will select a man who is ready for the job.
“I just hope that he’s a holy man, that he has the energy to do all the things that need to be done,” he said. “There are just lots of different challenges out there.”
Continue the message
Patricia DeJarnett of Acworth, who works in Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory’s office, saw Pope Benedict in 2008 when he visited New York. She said she will remember the pope, whose final day as pontiff was Thursday, for his writing and the way he conducted mass. She would like for the new pope to have a similar message.
“I hope he continues the same practices,” she said. “I hope he just stays true to what the Catholic Church is.”
In his mass, Gregory called for unity among Catholics as they go through a stretch without a pope.
“Our prayers this evening must not only involve Benedict, our ‘pontiff emeritus,’ but also the College of Cardinals, who are entrusted with choosing his successor,” he said.
Retired Cobb Magistrate Judge Roger Plichta was able to kiss Pope Benedict’s ring three times, and he also knew Pope John Paul II, whom Pope Benedict replaced in 2005. He looks for a younger pope to be selected.
“I don’t have any hopes for the church, except finding a more youthful leader who will be there for a long while and continue with the business of the church,” Plichta said. “Like any organization, like Coca-Cola, you can continue the success.”