By SAMANTHA SMITH, Staff Writer | Published October 15, 2020
ROSWELL—Father Michael Heine, OFM Conv., joined with brothers from his province to celebrate the pallium Mass for Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., at St. Peter Chanel Church on Oct. 7.
It was disappointing not to attend the archbishop’s installation in May, but this is the second-best thing, said Father Heine.
The priest has known Archbishop Hartmayer for more than 35 years. Both are Franciscan friars of Our Lady of the Angels Province, Order of Friars Minor Conventual.
As a gift, the Franciscans pitched in to give Archbishop Hartmayer a grandfather clock to celebrate his new leadership position in the church. Its inscription reads, “While we have time, let us do good,” a quote from St. Francis of Assisi.
Hopefully when he looks at it, the archbishop will know we’re with him every moment of the day, said Father Heine.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many were unable to attend the installation Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the King in the spring. The pallium Mass was the first opportunity for family and friends to gather and celebrate Archbishop Hartmayer’s new role as the shepherd of Atlanta.
Some 130 clergy and faithful celebrated with Archbishop Hartmayer at the Roswell parish as he received his pallium, bands of wool worn around the shoulders to signify unity with the pope and responsibility to care for his flock.
In the front row sat the archbishop’s three siblings; the oldest, C. Douglas Hartmayer, and younger siblings, Mary Jo Kotacka and John H. Hartmayer. The Hartmayers grew up about 15 miles from Buffalo.
During his remarks at the Mass, the archbishop shared that he and his siblings were born and raised in the Catholic Church.
“Our parents worked hard to provide us with a Catholic school education. I wish they were here today to enjoy this moment of which they were so much a part,” he reflected.
Unable to attend the installation Mass in May, the Hartmayer siblings were happy to celebrate in person.
Just being together was wonderful, said Doug Hartmayer, who lives in New York.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to have a reunion of sorts and be with him during this very solemn and sacred ceremony,” said Hartmayer.
Hartmayer has kept in touch with his younger brother during these first few months as archbishop. They usually catch up on Sunday evenings, if schedules permit. Kotacka lives the closest to Atlanta and makes an effort to visit as she can.
“As a family, we are very proud of Greg and his accomplishments and look to support him whenever we can,” said Doug.
Father Fredy Angel has been a priest for the Diocese of Savannah since 2005, and met Archbishop Hartmayer before he became bishop of the southern diocese in 2011. He considers the archbishop to be a close friend. They’ve kept in touch since the archbishop moved to Atlanta.
Archbishop Hartmayer is happy, and I know he is going to be great for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, said Father Angel.
Beginning a new role amid the coronavirus pandemic brings its challenges not only in leadership, but also in ministry.
A unique community has developed online since the pandemic, explained Father Heine. “But we also know that we need to be present with each other,” said the priest.
“During this time, there’s been an isolation,” said Father James McCurry, minister provincial for the Franciscan Friars of Our Lady of the Angels Province. “Normally, a new archbishop is surrounded by people. The new archbishop hasn’t had that customary support of the masses of people around him.”
His Franciscan brothers have provided additional support. Instead of losing our brother as he assumes this greater role in the church, we feel more bonded to him, he said.
Father McCurry, has known Archbishop Hartmayer for 50 years. He was delighted to be at the pallium Mass, along with other Franciscans to show their solidarity for the archbishop and the faithful of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
“I’ve had the privilege of accompanying him, or following him, this whole journey of his Franciscan life,” said Father McCurry. “I couldn’t be more delighted and pleased at the unfolding of this script that only God could write.”