Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

  • In January of 2015 Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory marked the 10th anniversary of his installation as the Atlanta archbishop, in April he rolled out a new pastoral plan for the Archdiocese of Atlanta and in June he wrote a heartfelt column in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same sex marriage. Photo By Michael Alexander
  • Missionaries of Charity Sister Leo Grace, left, introduces herself to Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance monk Father Eduardo Rodriguez during a Year of Consecrated Life reception at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers. 2015 was the Year of Consecrated Life worldwide. Photo By Michael Alexander
  • Based on the recommendations under one of the key issues of the new Pastoral Plan, Knowing Your Faith, the existing Parish School of Religion (PSR) and catechetical programs for all ages will be modified. Photo By Michael Alexander
  • Eight of the nearly 40 churches that served as host sites for prayer during Atlanta Prays (125 hours of prayer for the metro Atlanta area) were Catholic. It took place in 2015 from noon on May 4 to 5 p.m. on May 9. Here Marlene Lee-Seaton leads a prayer at Corpus Christi Church. The parish’s Servants of the Lord prayer group coordinated the Atlanta Prays efforts at the Stone Mountain church. Photo By Michael Alexander
  • Unlike some of his classmates, Notre Dame Academy High School freshman Andrew Brautigan successfully conquers the combination lock on his new locker before his first class at the new Notre Dame Academy High School in Duluth. Photo By Michael Alexander
  • Immaculate Heart of Mary School fourth-grader Grace Sheehy and her brother Will, a third-grader, release some 20 doves from a basket to the surprise of all during the final installment of the school’s symbolic welcome of Pope Francis to the United States. Watching from the side is director of Faith Formation Carmen Graciaa. Photo By Michael Alexander
  • The Amazing Grace Liturgical Dancers from Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Atlanta, were one of the groups to perform a the Oct. 28, 2015 Nostra Aetate Jubilee event held at the Ferst Center at Georgia Tech, Atlanta. The evening of drama, dance and music was organized by the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the American Jewish Committee-Atlanta to honor the 50th anniversary of the Vatican document on interfaith relations for the Catholic Church. Photo by Thomas Spink
  • The community garden at St. Pius X Church, Conyers, was started in March 2015. Community gardens are one of the ideas proposed in the “Laudato Si’ Action Plan” released by the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 2015. Photo By Michael Alexander
  • Kayla Gissendaner shares a testimony about her mother, Kelly Renee Gissendaner (displayed in a black and white drawing on the easel) during an educational summit on an interfaith call to halt the death penalty last month at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Atlanta. Despite appeals to commute Kelly’s death sentence, she was executed just after 12 a.m. on Sept. 30. Photo By Michael Alexander

In January 2015 Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory marked the 10th anniversary of his installation as the Atlanta archbishop. In April he rolled out a new pastoral plan for the Archdiocese of Atlanta. His June statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision legalizing same-sex marriage was the most widely read online Georgia Bulletin story of 2015. Photo By Michael Alexander


Editors’ Choice: 2015 stories

Published January 7, 2016

In 2015 The Georgia Bulletin told the stories about the Catholic community in the 69 counties of the archdiocese in over two-dozen issues. Editors and reporters compiled the following list as the most impactful news events for the Atlanta Archdiocese last year:

1. Marking an episcopal anniversary: 

Archbishop Gregory reflects on his first decade in Atlanta

While his 10th anniversary as archbishop of Atlanta was a time to reflect, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory was also looking ahead to goals to be accomplished when the milestone occurred in January 2015.

“I would certainly like to find ways to reach out to the un-churched, to the disaffected, our young people,” he said. “There’s still much to be done in the evangelization of those who for whatever reason have disassociated themselves from the practice of their faith.”

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2. Year of Consecrated Life invites all

to explore, make ‘courageous’ decisions

Pope Francis called 2015 to be a Year of Consecrated Life, ending on Feb. 2, 2016, the World Day of Consecrated Life. He expressed his hope that consecrated life will “wake the world up.”

In Atlanta, Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Margaret McAnoy, who serves as vicar for religious for the archdiocese, saw the year as “a call to listen, a call to joy.”

“It’s so appropriate, particularly for these days. The vast majority of people don’t know sisters or brothers or consecrated women unless they minister at a school or a parish nearby.”

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3. Pastoral Plan for archdiocese rolled out

The pastoral priorities for the archdiocese grew out of a series of meetings held around its 69 counties. Parishioners and clergy were invited to comment, vote and write-in priorities that should guide the work of the church here. Archbishop Gregory collected the insights and crafted the plan.

After the work, the archdiocese in April released its Pastoral Plan, identifying 14 key goals under four priorities: knowing, living and sharing our faith and evolution of our parishes.

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4. 125 hours of prayer for Atlanta:

Catholics participate in citywide intercession

Eight parishes joined an ecumenical effort from May 4 to May 9—125 hours of prayer for the metro Atlanta area. The topics of concern included sex trafficking, crime and violence, and the exposure of children to a culture of disappearing Christian morals and values.

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5. Archbishop Gregory responds to

same-sex marriage decision of U.S. Supreme Court

This statement, published online on June 26 and in the July 9 print edition, was the most viewed page on The Georgia Bulletin’s website in 2015.

In a measured style, Archbishop Gregory reasserted the church’s view of marriage as a sacrament between a man and a woman, addressed the need for civility in the continuing moral debate, and encouraged people to “continue the vitally important dialogue of human encounter, especially between those of diametrically differing opinions regarding its outcome.”

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6. Notre Dame Academy in Duluth opens high school

Families in Gwinnett County got another educational option, as Notre Dame Academy, Duluth, expanded to high school with an international baccalaureate curriculum. It is the first Catholic high school in the county, northeast of Atlanta. The program at the independent Catholic school will add a grade a year, starting with about 30 ninth-graders. Notre Dame is sponsored by the Marist religious community.

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7. Pope Francis visits the United States

Pope Francis spent six days in September in U.S. cities, where he visited both the powerful and the poor, from the halls of Congress to prison inmates.

His last stop was Philadelphia, where he greeted millions and those attending the World Meeting of Families.

Scores of Catholics in Atlanta made the trek up the East Coast to see the pontiff. Besides being among the throngs of well-wishers, many signed up to do acts of mercy during their visit to the City of Brotherly Love.

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8. Golden anniversary of “Nostra Aetate”

spotlights Catholic-Jewish ties

The landmark Vatican Council II document reshaped the church’s relationship with all world religions, but especially the Jewish community. To commemorate the event, the archdiocese and the American Jewish Committee-Atlanta hosted an evening of the arts. It brought together choirs and dramatic performances at the Ferst Center at Georgia Tech. The evening was lauded as part of a history of close ties in Atlanta between members of the two faiths and occurred on Oct. 28, 2015, exactly 50 years since “Nostra Aetate” was adopted as the guiding document on interfaith relations for the Catholic Church.

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9. Laudato Si’ Action Plan:

Putting environmental encyclical into practice

The action plan is a collaborative effort between scientists and the Atlanta Archdiocese to encourage the implementation of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical “Laudato Si’.” The plan offered the science behind climate change and suggestions for people and parishes to reduce their carbon footprint. Some of the ideas were small, like shopping with reusable cloth bags, while others were more ambitious, like implementing a community garden. The plan has been saluted as one of the few church guidelines to help people implement the pope’s vision for caring for the Earth. The encyclical was also the centerpiece of a conversation between Archbishop Gregory and a gathering of Atlanta priests.

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10. Efforts to abolish the death penalty

in Georgia intensify while executions continue

Georgia executed five prisoners in 2015, including the first woman in decades, Kelly Gissendaner, despite an appeal for mercy from Pope Francis. The archdiocesan Prison and Jail Ministry focused attention on the issue throughout the year, concluding in December with an interfaith conference featuring a former Georgia Supreme Court justice who now advocates abolishing the death penalty and a daughter of Gissendaner, along with others. There is also an effort underway to change Georgia law regarding conditions for imposing the death penalty on people who are mentally handicapped.

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