It's more than ironic that I came to Atlanta for a New Media Celebration, but have been unable to access the Internet for four days! I fully intend to rectify that situation now, with the help of the wireless connection at Corpus Christi Parish in Stone Mountain, home of blog commenter and fellow New Orleanian, Fr. Fred Sahuc, CMF. (I'll be giving a talk on St. Paul here tonight, and then heading to Mom's house tomorrow.)
I arrived in Atlanta on Friday so I could help Sr. Clare (from our Charleston community) with a book exhibit at the Eucharistic Congress (Friday and Saturday); turns out Sr. Tracey made the same arrangements, so it was a little FSP reunion there at the convention center! The Archdiocese has been holding a Eucharistic Congress every year, and it seems to be doing wonders for the life of the local Church. I was impressed at how diverse the Catholic community here is; it reminded me of Chicago. There is also a huge African population. Here in Stone Mountain there is a large Sudanese Catholic community, too. The Eucharistic Congress brought everyone together, some 20-30,000, all around the Eucharist. (Much better than a generic "celebrations of faith" with no real center, as if we were all about ourselves.) Then Sunday was the SQPN Catholic New Media Celebration. The three Pauline sisters were part of a crowd of hundreds interested in learning more about social networking, podcasting and other technologies available for the New Evangelization. The one phrase I heard the most yesterday, though, was "I think we're Facebook friends!" I met a number of people I follow on Twitter or whose blogs I read: Dr. Paul Camerata, Lisa Hendley, Fr. Jay (iPadre) Finelli... I did not actually meet, but at least I saw Jeff Miller (the CURT JESTER!!!) and Fr. Roderick. All people whose hearts are set on sharing the faith they live, and using great creativity in doing it. I picked up some good advice, and even got free Mystic Monk coffee (God is good).
Readers of this blog might also be interested in learning about a new Catholic social network, 4marks. I think it just launched a few weeks ago; I hadn't heard a breath about it until yesterday, but am looking into it right now.
Sr. Clare and I received warm hospitality with the Hawthorne Dominicans, the "Servants of Relief for Incurable Cancer," who were founded by Nathaniel Hawthorne's daughter (a convert to Catholicism who then became a nun). We even met their Mother General, who was in town for a meeting. (Nothing like sharing pizza with Mother General on Sunday night.) These sisters have such a powerful mission in the culture of life: assisting people in the last months of their life. There are about a dozen patients in their lovely facility, and these people get the most loving end-of-life care. Except for one thing: when I'm dying, please don't wake me up at 7:00 for breakfast. Let's skip breakfast, okay?