By GEORGIA BULLETIN STAF | Published October 29, 2020
ATLANTA—In the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Catholics rejoiced at the news that their former shepherd, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of the Archdiocese of Washington, had been appointed by Pope Francis to become a cardinal.
Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer, OFM Conv., wrote a personal note to Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory the morning of Oct. 25, congratulating his predecessor on the appointment. Archbishop Hartmayer assured Archbishop Gregory of his continued prayers and thanked him for his faithful leadership to the church.
“I’m grateful to Pope Francis for recognizing the extraordinary contributions that Archbishop Wilton Gregory has made to the American Catholic Church since becoming a bishop 37 years ago,” said Archbishop Hartmayer in a public statement.
Archbishop Hartmayer said he is particularly thankful for Archbishop Gregory’s mentoring and fraternity.
“During his 15 years as Archbishop of Atlanta, Archbishop Gregory worked closely with the auxiliary bishops, priests, laity, deacons and religious in providing a Pastoral Plan for the future of the archdiocese. He worked closely with the interreligious leadership of the various churches in metropolitan Atlanta,” said Archbishop Hartmayer. “The cardinal-designate is also known for his personal interest in promoting Catholic education throughout the archdiocese.”
Archbishop Gregory was installed as Atlanta’s sixth archbishop in January 2005 serving until his appointment in Washington in the spring of 2019.
During his years in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, 12 new parishes and seven missions were established. He ordained 71 priests and 172 permanent deacons during that time.
Archbishop Gregory also expanded the Office of Intercultural Ministries and the outreach to the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s growing diverse Catholic community.
“It is incredibly humbling to witness this important moment in the life of our local and global church, particularly as the news comes to us on the eve of Black Catholic History Month,” said Ashley Morris, associate director of the Office of Intercultural Ministries. “Congratulations to Cardinal-designate Gregory on his appointment to the College of Cardinals, as he was and continues to be an influential and inspirational servant of God for me and millions of Black Catholics in the archdiocese and around our country.”
Morris added his prayers that the Holy Spirit would continue to move in Archbishop Gregory’s life and ministry.
Mary Ruth Jones of north Georgia was one of many Catholics taking to the Archdiocese of Atlanta and Georgia Bulletin Facebook pages to leave words of congratulations and support.
“I had the opportunity to interact with Archbishop Gregory when I was director of religious education for my parish. If you have never seen him celebrate the sacrament of confirmation with teenagers you have really missed something inspirational,” wrote Jones. “His leadership as president of the USCCB when the clergy abuse scandal broke, helped to guide the American Catholic Church through tumultuous times. May he walk with Jesus, know the love of the Father and be guided by the Holy Spirit always.”
Bishop David P. Talley of Memphis, Tennessee, tweeted upon hearing the news of the elevation. Bishop Talley worked with Archbishop Gregory as an auxiliary bishop in Atlanta.
“In elementary school, he asked his parents if he could become Catholic. Priests and Sisters in a Catholic school had inspired his heart. Today…look what the LORD has done….,” the Oct. 25 tweet proclaimed.
Kathryne Pusch, a parishioner of St. Pius X Church, Conyers, posted on Facebook about her pride and excitement.
“Needless to say, he will make a wonderful Cardinal and continue to bless everyone with whom he has contact. He is an amazing leader,” wrote Pusch. “Archbishop Gregory demonstrates a sincere empathy and compassion for all of our brothers and sisters in Christ. His words and actions are consistent with our beliefs and mission as a Church founded by Christ to build and maintain His family. I know his endeavors as a Cardinal will seek to unite us all in justice, peace, and love.”
Myles Logan grew up in the Catholic Church in Atlanta and the appointment gives him great pride.
“I had the honor of getting to know Archbishop Gregory while I was a student at Clark Atlanta University. Once a year Archbishop Gregory would come celebrate Mass with us at the Lyke House. We would have numerous conversations about the growth of the church and its bright future,” said Logan. “I am excited to see all he does in his new position.”