Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

OSV News photo/Troy Hull, Catholic News Herald
Atlanta Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer anoints Bishop Michael T. Martin with holy chrism during his ordination and installation Mass as the new bishop of Charlotte, N.C., at St. Mark Church in Huntersville, N.C., May 29. Bishop Martin, a Conventual Franciscan who was pastor at St. Philip Benizi Church in Jonesboro, succeeds retired Bishop Peter J. Jugis.


Newly ordained Bishop Martin to people of Charlotte Diocese: ‘I’m yours now’

By ANNIE FERGUSON, OSV News | Published June 2, 2024

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (OSV News)–Sunlight streamed into St. Mark Church May 29–a poignant visual representation of the Holy Spirit– as the Diocese of Charlotte welcomed a new bishop for the first time in 20 years.

Conventual Franciscan Father Michael T. Martin was ordained during a three-hour liturgy that included hundreds of priests and deacons, more than a dozen bishops and one cardinal representing Pope Francis. Bishop Martin succeeds the retiring Bishop Peter J. Jugis.

Percussion instruments and horns heralded the entrance procession into the Huntersville church and parish hall that were filled with 1,700 ticketed guests, including many of Bishop Martin’s former parishioners from St. Philip Benizi Church in Jonesboro, whom he greeted with smiles.

His family, friends, Franciscans friars, and clergy from the Charlotte diocese and multiple states packed the pews for the historic occasion.

“I am so proud of my brother (in Christ). It is an honor to have a role in his ordination liturgy,” said Bishop Martin’s longtime friend and fellow Conventual Franciscan Father Michael Heine. “The smile on his face and the joy of the day truly shows us the Holy Spirit is moving in exciting ways!”

Father Christian Cook, pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Swannanoa, was among more than 100 priests from the Charlotte Diocese in attendance. He said it was his first episcopal ordination as a priest or otherwise.

“Taking part as a priest is very special because the episcopal ordination Mass is apostolic succession on full display. When I was ordained a priest, I made a promise of obedience to Bishop Jugis, but also to his successors,” he said. “So the continuity of the church, the ordination promises of my priesthood, and the passing down of office of bishop is very comforting. The church of Jesus Christ is as he made it, for where the bishop is, there is the church.”

Atlanta Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, also a Conventual Franciscan and a close friend of Bishop Martin, was the principal celebrant and consecrator for the Mass. He offered a moving homily, highlighting the new bishop’s Franciscan roots, his prayerfulness and humility, as well as their long history together–beginning when the archbishop was a teacher and Martin was a student at Archbishop Curley High School in Baltimore.

Co-consecrators were Bishop Jugis and Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Michael T. Martin gestures as he concelebrates his ordination and installation Mass as the new bishop of Charlotte, N.C., at St. Mark Church in Huntersville, N.C., May 29. Bishop Martin, a Conventual Franciscan who was pastor at St. Philip Benizi Church in Jonesboro, succeeds retired Bishop Peter J. Jugis. OSV News photo/Troy Hull, Catholic News Herald

In his homily, Archbishop Hartmayer emphasized the new bishop’s chosen episcopal motto, the words spoken by Jesus to Peter–“duc in altum” or “put out into the deep”–referring to the bishop’s call for people to deepen their relationship with Jesus.

“It is the Lord who invites us to put out into the deep as Peter did,” Archbishop Hartmayer said. “Putting out into the deep is an invitation to trust in the Lord at all times. It means relying less on ourselves and more on the One who calls us. The call of Christ, ‘duc in altum,’ is a challenge for each of us. With Peter, we can put out into the deep, having caught nothing all day, and see the miracles that the Lord works.”

Archbishop Hartmayer opened his homily by greeting all the bishops and Franciscan friars present as well as the Martin family.

“Episcopal ministry is, first and foremost, a call to a deepened friendship with the Lord Jesus. Cut off from Him, we can do nothing.”

Addressing the bishop-elect, he continued, “You will be even more dependent on the Lord’s loving kindness as you step forward in this service of sacrificial loving for the church, both local and universal as a contemporary apostle. You stand in a continuous line of succession reaching back to those first apostles who became friends with the Lord Jesus.”

“Do all you can to call the people of the Diocese of Charlotte to an ever more loving and joyful friendship with Our Savior. And by your own example, lead your seminarians, priests, deacons and consecrated religious toward a renewed personal relationship with the Lord.”
As the ordination rite began, the entire congregation chanted the ancient prayer “Veni, Creator Spiritus” (“Come, Creator Spirit”), invoking the Holy Spirit.

Bishop Michael T. Martin poses with his mother, Bev Martin, following his ordination and installation Mass as the new bishop of Charlotte, N.C., at St. Mark Church in Huntersville, N.C., May 29. OSV News photo/Troy Hull, Catholic News Herald

Father Heine and Conventual Franciscan Father Jude Michael Krill presented Martin to Archbishop Hartmayer for ordination in the name of the Charlotte diocese. Then Cardinal Pierre read the apostolic letter from Pope Francis, testifying that Martin should be ordained bishop. Martin then processed through the congregation displaying the apostolic letter.
All present assented to his election as bishop, proclaiming: “Thanks be to God.”

After the ordination rite, Bishop Martin processed through the aisles of the church and parish hall again to give the congregation his first episcopal blessing. Returning to the altar, he offered concluding remarks in Spanish and English.

Starting with a tribute and applause for Bishop Jugis, Bishop Martin said he looks forward to having him as a brother bishop in the diocese. He also thanked Cardinal Pierre, noting his kindness when he informed Bishop Martin of his new assignment as well as his “beautiful French accent.”

He also thanked Archbishop Hartmayer, who had noted in his homily how they first met each other when the new bishop was an eighth-grader. He thanked him for his faithful example and his friendship of 50 years. He thanked his Franciscan family as well as his mother, sisters and late father.

Then he threw open his arms and said, “That’s it. I’m yours now. May God bless you all.”

Craig and Kathleen Lewis, parishioners of St. Ann Church in Charlotte, said they were honored to attend the ordination, noting that they also attended the ordination of Bishop Jugis and installation of his predecessor, the late Bishop William G. Curlin.

Kathleen Lewis recalled what she found moving about all three historic occasions.

“It really struck me that hands have been laid from the time that there were hands that touched Our Lord,” she said. “Those hands touched a man’s head and those hands and so forth, all the way to the hands that were on Bishop Jugis. And it will be the same today, that’s the reality of apostolic succession. To be there, to see that is a privilege–it really is.”

Annie Ferguson writes for The Catholic News Herald, the newspaper of the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina.