Published August 17, 2006
Our 50th Jubilee Year has been a rich source of discovery for me of some of the early events and traditions of our diocese. We began so modestly as a diocese and have grown so rapidly that those early routines and practices that fit quite well in 1956 seem quaint today.
Our first diocesan offices were opened in the basement of Christ the King Cathedral with only three employees in 1961 and then moved to the Archbishop’s residence in 1966 with a total of six staff members. By 1969 we had 50 persons working for the Archdiocese, and we moved into our first “real Chancery” at 756 West Peachtree Street. We moved into our current space at 680 West Peachtree in 1980.
Since that time, we have grown to a staff of more than 164 employees, and we have long since outgrown this last location. Over the past few years, we have had to rent satellite offices for The Georgia Bulletin, the Office for Catholic Education, and the Office for Religious Education. On occasion, we have parceled out the Tribunal and the Office for Catholic Construction. We are now about to rent space for other offices to relocate so that we can continue to serve the needs of the People of God in North Georgia.
It is not so much a case of bureaucracy as it is a reflection of the fact that we are a growing diocese with many services and activities that indicate that the Catholic Church in North Georgia has an important presence and offers services that are needed not only by Catholics but by people who turn to the Catholic Church for care and assistance.
Fortunately, Archbishop Thomas Donnellan made the very wise decision to purchase land in a part of the City of Atlanta that has only grown more valuable with each passing decade. Our present location represents a source of great potential as we must now plan for a new site to house the current reality of the ministries of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. We simply cannot continue entering into temporary leases to alleviate the space needs of the Catholic Center. This is costly and ultimately not an adequate way to address our growth.
Some people might suggest that we merely reduce staff and cut programs—but which programs do you suggest that we slash … Catholic Education, Pro-Life, Family Life, Catechetics, Vocations, Catholic Charities, the Diaconate Office, Hispanic Ministry, African-American Ministry, Ministry to the Disabled or perhaps the Tribunal? The simple fact is that our services are vital to the continued growth of this vibrant and wonderful local Church.
Over the last several months we have been considering the choices that lie before us. We shall continue to review all of these possibilities before making a final decision. We shall attempt to make our Catholic Center accessible to those who must use it, accessible to our staff who must travel there to work each day, and capable of bringing our ministries and activities together for efficiency and ease of access to each other.
While these are important decisions, they represent a challenge that is basically a happy one—the Archdiocese of Atlanta is growing and developing into an evermore vibrant community of Faith, and we need to find ways to provide for those services that are the obvious result of 50 years of growth and faith—a happy problem to be sure.