By GEORGIA BULLETIN STAFF | Published June 11, 2022
ATLANTA—Father Chris Williamson, a priest of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, died June 6. He was 78 years old.
Father Williamson was born in Dublin, Ireland to Christopher Williamson and Theresa O’Hara Williamson. He was one of seven children. Two of them became priests.
Father Williamson studied philosophy at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Ireland. He attended seminary at St. Patrick’s College in Carlow, Ireland, and then graduated with a degree in pastoral liturgy from the Irish Institute for Pastoral Liturgy in 1988.
Prior to his studies to become a diocesan priest, Father Williamson spent six years as a Benedictine monk.
Archbishop Eugene A. Marino ordained Father Williamson a priest for the archdiocese at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta on Dec. 10, 1988. Father Williamson was the first priest to be ordained for Atlanta by Archbishop Marino.
His first assignment was as parochial vicar for All Saints Church, Dunwoody. He was also a parochial vicar at the Cathedral of Christ the King, and at St. Lawrence Church, Lawrenceville.
In September 1997, he was assigned as pastor of Good Samaritan Church, Ellijay, and St. Anthony Church in Blue Ridge, serving both communities until 2006.
While serving those rural communities, he came up with a unique fundraising idea to help send the youth group members to World Youth Day in Toronto in 2002. Father Williamson believed in the youth and created “stock certificates” selling them for amounts ranging from $25 to 100 to pay for the travel costs. Parish members were, in effect, “sharing in the spiritual future of our youth by purchasing stock certificates,” he said at the time. The effort raised $18,000—with just $2,000 of that amount from car washes and outright monetary donations. His efforts enabled 22 youth and seven chaperones to attend the five-day event—making it the largest group sent from the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
After his service in Ellijay and Blue Ridge, Father Williamson was administrator of St. Mary Church in Elberton while leading St. Joseph Church in Washington as its pastor for six years.
Father Williamson retired from active ministry in 2012, reflecting on his priestly service and monastic background in a Georgia Bulletin interview.
“For me, to be a priest, there’s no substitute for prayer,” he said.
Father Williamson also reflected on the enthusiasm surrounding ordination in 1988. “I couldn’t wait to say Mass. That was the be all and end all. I just loved being a priest,” he said.
He is survived by his brothers Father Des Williamson, OCD, and Paul Williamson Sr.; his sister Mrs. Marie Scully and nieces and nephews. Father Williamson was preceded in death by his brother, Brian Williamson, and sisters Anne Williamson-Bird and Georgina Williamson.
The viewing and vigil prayer service were Wednesday, June 15 from 4-7 p.m. at Patterson Oglethorpe Funeral Home, Atlanta.
Father Williamson’s funeral Mass will be Thursday, June 16 at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of Christ the King, 2699 Peachtree Road, NE, in Atlanta. Bishop Joel M. Konzen, SM, will be the celebrant. Father Paul Flood will be the homilist. A reception will follow in Kenny Hall.
Father Williamson’s remains will be interred at a later date.
In memory of Father Williamson’s service to youth, donations may be given to Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School online at cristoreyatlanta.org or by mail to: Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School, ATTN: Carol English – Advancement, 222 Piedmont Avenue, NE Atlanta, GA 30308.