Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Remembering the top stories of 2018

By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published January 10, 2019

Photo Illustration By Tom Schulte and Michael Alexander

It’s that time when we consider the events that shaped 2018 for the Atlanta Catholic community.

We must have printed hundreds of thousands of words and hundreds of photos in last year’s 23 issues. Editor Nichole Golden, Photographer Michael Alexander and Staff Writer Andrew Nelson flipped through the pages to select the stories with an eye toward spotlighting the most memorable. However, if you have a favorite story you think we missed, you can share it on the Georgia Bulletin Facebook page or send us an email to with subject line “2018 Memorable Story.”

ATLANTA—2018 for believers felt like a 1-2-3 punch, a time of discouragement, anger, confusion, among other emotions, by the continued fallout from the clergy sexual abuse. It was June when the Catholic community learned one of the church’s leaders—ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick—was accused of having abused young people and making sexual advances toward seminarians. He resigned as a cardinal and was removed from public ministry to a life of prayer and penance. Then in August came the Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing the abuse of thousands of victims by hundreds of priests in six dioceses. Adding to those horrific stories, a report by the former papal nuncio to the United States in August charged that Pope Francis and senior prelates overlooked the sexual abuse by the former cardinal and called for the pope to resign.

In November, the Atlanta Archdiocese released a list of 15 seminarians, deacons, priests and members of religious orders with credible allegations of sexual abuse. The list covers allegations dating back to the establishment of the diocese in 1956.


Marist Father Joel Konzen named Atlanta auxiliary bishop

Pulled from the campus of the Marist School, this longtime school principal is one of two bishops assisting the archbishop in the administration of the Atlanta Archdiocese. Pope Francis made the appointment in February, and the bishop was ordained in April.

Shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and the response of local Catholic schools

Catholic students joined their peers in commemorating the fatal shooting of 17 students and staff members at the Florida high school. While some held silent protests and said prayers, other students were encouraged to commit to random acts of kindness.

Pinecrest Academy celebrates its 25th anniversary

This independent Catholic school in Cumming, with nearly 780 students from kindergarten to 12th grade, was founded by a group of educators, businessmen and lay leaders, in collaboration with the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi movement. As part of the many festivities, there was a ground breaking for a new school building and a time capsule was filled with keepsakes from each grade level.

Honorable mention: Pope Francis marks his fifth anniversary

Growth was an Archdiocese of Atlanta top story in 2018, which was evidenced by the completed construction and dedication of new worship spaces for St. Bernadette Church, Cedartown, above, St. Clare Mission, Acworth, and St. John Paul II Mission, Gainesville. Photo By Michael Alexander


Ecumenical prayer service marks 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Ministers from different Christian churches and hundreds of worshippers joined a service of remembrance and renewal at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta, to recall the slain civil rights leader.

Father Panayiotis Papageorgiou, presiding presbyter of the Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church of Marietta, said one of the great lessons left by King is a deeper understanding of hope. “Hope is related to the benefit of we, all of us, the many,” he said.

First graduation class of Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School

The Georgia Bulletin followed this Jesuit Catholic high school when it opened its doors in 2014, spotlighting its mission to take students from working-class families, train them to work in top Atlanta companies and give them a college-prep education. Some 76 percent of students who entered the Atlanta school as freshmen graduated and all graduates were accepted into college.

Separation of children from their parents and detention of children at the Mexico-U.S. border

Catholic bishops and organizations urged the Trump administration to end separating children from their parents as they seek refuge in the United States.

“Refugee children belong to their parents, not to the government or other institutions. To steal children from their parents is a grave sin, immoral and evil,” said San Antonio’s Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller via Twitter.

Honorable mention: Father Paul Burke shares diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease

Father Paul Burke, an Irish-born priest, shared his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, the disease affects some 20,600 in Georgia and more often in men. The priest, chaplain of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Home and promoter of justice for the Tribunal, crossed paths with St. John Paul II several times, never anticipating they would share Parkinson’s disease in common. The disease has deepened the priest’s devotion to the saint.

The Pennsylvania statehouse is seen from the State Street bridge in Harrisburg. The Pennsylvania attorney general released a grand jury report Aug. 14, 2018 after a months-long investigation into abuse claims spanning a 70-year period in the Dioceses of Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Scranton, Allentown, Greensburg and Erie. CNS photo/Tim Shaffer, Reuters


Three communities celebrate new enlarged churches for growing number of believers

St. Bernadette Church, Cedartown; St. John Paul II Mission, Gainesville, and St. Clare of Assisi Church, Acworth celebrate new facilities for their growing communities. The largely Hispanic parishes of St. Bernadette and St. John Paul II relied on an archdiocesan initiative for parishes crunched for space but without financial resources to build new facilities. Hispanics are estimated to make up about half of the Catholic community in the archdiocese.

St. Clare dedicated its new church in October after using borrowed space for worship since 2014.

Atlanta delegates prepare for national V Encuentro

Two dozen women and men represented Atlanta at the national V Encuentro, where Hispanic Catholics gathered to strengthen the Latino presence in the church.

Daniel Hernandez, 25, said he hopes the conference “encourages us as leaders to be bold, to help us speak to other communities in the church, I want to be able to empower young people to continue their faith journey, but really pursue their dreams, aspirations and goals.”

The Catholic community was buffeted by clergy sexual abuse developments, including the Pennsylvania grand jury report, ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s allegations of abuse against minors and seminarians, along with a memo by a former papal nuncio.

Honorable mention: New nonprofit formed to help Puerto Ricans in hurricane recovery

Working with priests and human service organizations in Puerto Rico, the Rebuilding Hope ministry based in St. Joseph Church, Marietta, wants to develop a network between Atlanta parishes and people in the rural areas of the storm-damaged island.

In 2018 staff writer Andrew Nelson covered Jesuit Father James Martin’s Oct. 20 talk at St. Thomas More Church, Decatur, and Dan Mattson’s Oct. 11 presentation at the Georgia Tech Catholic Center, Atlanta. Father Martin, above, discussed his most recent book, “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity,” Mattson, the author of “Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay: How I Reclaimed My Sexual Reality and Found Peace,” spoke of his struggles with same-sex attraction. Photo By Michael Alexander


Georgia Bulletin executive editor Mary Anne Castranio dies

Mary Anne Castranio died Friday, Oct. 12. She joined the archdiocesan newspaper as the executive editor in August 2003. Castranio’s biggest joy was her daughter, Amy.

50th anniversary of the reinstitution of the permanent diaconate

In 1977, the first permanent deacons in Atlanta were ordained. There were three of them. Now, nearly 300 permanent deacons serve. To mark the anniversary, we looked at the work of long-serving Atlanta deacons, the support of their wives and the laypeople who work in diaconate formation

Atlanta talks by Jesuit Father James Martin and Courage Apostolate member Daniel Mattson

Members of the Atlanta Archdiocese got the chance to hear two voices addressing homosexuality and the faith. Daniel Mattson penned a book in 2017 called “Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay.” The memoir traces his attraction to men to how he was led to the Catholic Church and Courage, the ministry to gay Catholics. Jesuit Father James Martin wrote “Building a Bridge,” focused on themes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church about a two-way bridge of respect between the gay community and the Catholic Church. Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory issued a statement of support for Father Martin’s visit when his appearance at two parishes caused some to protest the visit.

Honorable mention: CRS marks its 75th anniversary and the work of local volunteers

We marked the anniversary of Catholic Relief Services by profiling some of members of the archdiocese who support its mission through meal-packing events, ethical trade sales and Lenten campaigns.