Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Priests chosen as regional deans will serve on Priest Personnel Review Board

Published August 18, 2016

ATLANTA—Beginning in July, a priest who is newly elected and appointed as dean in any of 10 geographic deaneries of the Atlanta Archdiocese will also serve on the Priest Personnel Review Board.

The board “advises the archbishop on all personnel matters involving archdiocesan priests that serve in our parishes and missions,” said Bishop David P. Talley.

“Deans will bring a personal knowledge of the well-being of the priests in their deanery to the discerning work of the Priest Personnel Review Board,” Bishop Talley said. “This shared personal knowledge should offer the members of the board and the archbishop a deeper understanding of the presbyterate as the archbishop contemplates the changes of assignments for archdiocesan priests, year by year.”

Deans already are disposed to be knowledgeable about the priests and the parishes and missions within their respective deaneries and they “serve as trusted leaders among their brother priests,” the bishop said.

The Office of Priest Personnel is one of the archdiocesan offices under the purview of Bishop Talley as auxiliary bishop to Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory.

He observed that the archdiocese “covers a large piece of real estate” and includes 21,445 square miles in north and central Georgia and 69 of the state’s 159 counties. Archbishop Gregory is called to shepherd over 1 million Catholics congregated in 101 parishes and missions.

The archbishop “is assisted in this shepherding of the Lord’s flock by hundreds of parish-based lay leaders, by the professed sisters and brothers who live their vowed life among us, by an extraordinary group of men who serve us in the permanent diaconate, and by the presbyterate, the body of his brother priests who are his closest advisors,” Bishop Talley said.

In the basic organizational structure of the archdiocese, the 101 parishes and missions are divided into 10 deaneries. This is meant to foster and enhance pastoral care through the common pastoral action of neighboring parishes and missions. This kind of collaboration among neighboring churches is highlighted in the archbishop’s 2015 Pastoral Plan for the archdiocese.

“Working collaboratively is a key tool in our longing for the renewal of Christ’s Church,” Bishop Talley said.

Each of the 10 deaneries is led by a priest appointed by the archbishop after he consults with that deanery’s priests. The archbishop allows the priests of each deanery to advise him by “electing” their dean as their leader. The dean, usually a pastor in the deanery, has clear responsibilities according to canon law.

The dean is called to promote common pastoral action in the deanery. He is to see that the clerics in the deanery lead a life in keeping with their vocation and their commitment to pastoral ministry. The dean is to foster the beauty and elegance of the liturgical life of the parishes and missions of his deanery. These functions and all others mentioned in law and in the norms of the archdiocese allow the 10 deans to be of great assistance to their brother priests in ministry.

As respected leaders, the deans also serve on the Council of Priests. The deans bring to the attention of the archbishop and the membership of the council any specific challenge or opportunity that the members of their deaneries face. Membership on the council also allows the deans to take back any word of advice or exhortation given by the archbishop to the priests of his deanery.

The Priest Personnel Review Board will now include Archbishop Gregory; the auxiliary bishops, Bishop Luis R. Zarama and Bishop Talley; Father Tim Hepburn, vocations director; three priest members from past service, Msgr. Peter Rau, Father Eric Hill and Father Juan Anzora; and the deans appointed after July 2016.