Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo By Michael Alexander
Bishop-designate Joel M. Konzen, S.M., front row, second from right, poses for a group photo with his brother Marist priests in the spring of 2017. They include (l-r) Fathers Thomas Ellerman, Francis Kissel, John Harhager, Ralph Olek, William Rowland and David Musso.


New bishop called ‘great asset’ by friends, colleagues

By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff writer | Published February 8, 2018  | En Español

ATLANTA—Marist priests serving in Atlanta gathered for a day of recollection at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers Feb. 6, the day after one of their own was appointed the new auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

Bishop-designate Joel M. Konzen, SM, was to join his fellow Society of Mary priests at the monastery for the retreat, which ended with the celebration of consecrated life.

Father Jim Duffy, SM, pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Atlanta, has known the bishop-designate since 1973. They met when the future bishop was studying at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana.

They professed with the Society in different years but were both ordained to the priesthood in 1979.

“He is extremely organized … exceptional organizational skills. He has a great sense of pastoral care,” said Father Duffy. “I think he will be an excellent bishop.”

The pastor called his longtime friend the day of the announcement to congratulate him.

He said the OLA community is pleased with the news. Many of the parents of the parish send their children to Marist School, where Bishop-designate Konzen has served as principal since 1999.

“They’re very excited,” said Father Duffy.

Father Konzen and all the Marists serving at the school are always quick to lend a hand at the parish with sacraments such as first reconciliation or wherever needed.

Father Duffy said that the bishop-to-be is a very informed, “well-read” man.

The priest also appreciates Bishop-designate Konzen’s wit.

“He had a dry sense of humor,” he said.

Father Duffy said the Society of Mary priests were surprised at the news, and he suspects that many of them will attend the April 3 ordination Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta.

Msgr. Eugene Driscoll, pastor emeritus of Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Lubbock, Texas, hopes to be one of those attending the Mass, if he is able to travel.

“I was delighted,” said the monsignor about the appointment. “He will be a great asset. He’s a brilliant man.”

Beginning his priestly service as a Marist, Msgr. Driscoll was incardinated by the Diocese of Lubbock where he was founding pastor of Holy Spirit. He once served as pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption in Atlanta. Msgr. Driscoll worked alongside then-Father Konzen through the years as they both held religious leadership roles for the Society of Mary in Washington, D.C.

“I’ve enjoyed working with him,” said Msgr. Driscoll.

He agreed that there is a spirit of real brotherhood among the Marists.

“I still feel that in the Society, and I tried to promote it,”

Msgr. Driscoll believes it’s the same type of atmosphere that the bishop-designate was able to cultivate at Marist School.

Bishop-designate Konzen’s long, distinguished career in education has enabled him to hone skills in listening, conflict resolution and effective decision-making, said Diane Starkovich, Ph.D., superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

“As a school administrator, Bishop-elect Konzen mastered leadership skills and managed a large organization. To do this effectively, one needs to be able to see the big picture,” said Starkovich. “He will be taking all of his prior experiences to help minister to a much larger classroom and a much larger institution.”

It’s an advantage that the future bishop knows the archdiocese and has served as a supply priest.

“I’ve enjoyed hearing his homilies as a parishioner at one of the parishes he has visited and served,” said Starkovich.

She said Father Konzen was one of the first principals she met when arriving as superintendent in the spring of 2006.

“My first impressions were of a humble, gentle and considerate administrator. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate that this is who he really is—a servant-leader, a collaborative, collegial and effective administrator—someone who is well respected by the school community,” she said. “He has a tremendous sense of humor, and all of these attributes will position him to take on this new role for all of the people in the archdiocese.”