Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Looking Back: July 18, 1963–Death of Archbishop O’Hara

Published July 18, 2013

The July 18, 1963 issue of The Georgia Bulletin announced the death in London of Archbishop Gerald P. O’Hara, former bishop of the Diocese of Savannah-Atlanta, who was serving as apostolic delegate to Great Britain. Distinguished in service to the church, Archbishop O’Hara was bishop of Savannah-Atlanta from 1936 to 1956. The title of the diocese was changed from Savannah to Savannah-Atlanta at his request, according to the news story at the time of his death. Archbishop O’Hara was reportedly giving recognition to the growing size and importance of the city of Atlanta and was also credited with advising the creation of the separate Atlanta Diocese. One of the highlights in Atlanta during his leadership was the construction and dedication of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta. Archbishop O’Hara was sent to Romania to serve as an interim delegate from the Vatican by Pope Pius XII. His constant protests against the communist regime led to his suffering house arrest and then being expelled from the country. He was then appointed as apostolic nuncio to Ireland and subsequently to Great Britain. He became the first papal representative to visit the Houses of Parliament in more than 400 years. He died on July 16, 1963, after suffering a heart attack several days earlier. He was 68. His funeral Mass was celebrated at Westminster Cathedral in London.


St. Mary’s Hospital in Athens celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary of opening by the Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. At the same time the silver jubilee coincided with the formal ground breaking for the “new” St. Mary’s Hospital. The hospital was dedicated July 10, 1938 by Archbishop Gerald P. O’Hara. At the request of civic and medical groups, the archbishop was instrumental in obtaining the services of the Missionary Sisters for the operation of the hospital. During the silver anniversary celebration, St. Mary’s expected to admit patient number 100,000. The Missionary Sisters began with one wing built in 1918 and added additional wings in the 1940s and received full accreditation for the hospital in 1954. Sixteen sisters were working at the hospital.


Archbishop Paul J. Hallinan presided at the graduation of 44 nurses from St. Joseph’s Infirmary School of Nursing. The nurses completed a 36-month course of study. The first graduating class of the St. Joseph’s Infirmary was in 1902 with five nurses. The 1963 class was the 61st graduating class. The class included one man, who was the fifth male nurse to graduate from St. Joseph’s.


Spokesmen for three major Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox, and Jewish agencies backed the Kennedy administration’s civil rights program in a joint statement to a House Judiciary subcommittee. They called for racial justice “now” and said that “what is right, both in terms of basic morality and in terms of our democratic ideals, must be granted without delay.” Their support extended to the Kennedy administration’s “controversial proposal” to bar discrimination in privately owned public accommodations, such as hotels and restaurants. They said the property right is not an absolute right but must yield to higher considerations. Among the presenters was Father John F. Cronin, of the National Catholic Welfare Conference.