The music group setting up for Mass had eight singers, five guitarists, a pianist, a flutist and a brass player, about four times more people than on a typical Sunday. They had practiced secretly in another location on the Georgia Tech campus.
Downstairs, tables were surreptitiously prepared for a massive buffet of sandwiches, platters of fresh fruits and vegetables, soft drinks and cakes paid for by Coach George O’Leary, Tech’s football coach in the 1990s.
When they set up 300 chairs for Mass, Franciscan Father Mario DiLella knew his “kids” were up to something. The people drifting in were not just students, but they tried to look innocent per the plan students had cooked up and sent out by e-mail.
However, when Father Kevin Hargaden, Tech ’94 and past president of the campus Catholic Center, showed up to concelebrate, along with vicar general Msgr. Joseph Corbett, all pretense that this was an ordinary Sunday Mass was over.
After 37 and a half years, it was the last Sunday Father Mario would celebrate Mass as Georgia Tech’s Catholic chaplain. He couldn’t get mad but just said these visitors were “cramping my style” as he preached to the students who have been his whole life.
Father Mario spoke of his favorite saint, Peter, and repeated messages that he wanted to underline for the last time.
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