The Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory, S.L.D. Metropolitan Archbishop of Atlanta

Archbishop Wilton D Gregory

“We Are The Lord’s”

Biographical Dates:

Born:December 7, 1947
Ordained priest:May 9, 1973
Ordained bishop:December 13, 1983
Installed as Archbishop of Atlanta:January 17, 2005

Contact: archbishop@archatl.com

Biography

Born December 7, 1947 in Chicago to Wilton Sr. and Ethel Duncan Gregory, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory attended St. Carthage Grammar School, where he converted to Catholicism. He attended Quigley Preparatory Seminary South, Niles College (now St. Joseph’s College Seminary) of Loyola University and St. Mary of the Lake Seminary.

He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago on May 9, 1973. Three years after his ordination he began graduate studies at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute (Sant’ Anselmo) in Rome. There he earned his doctorate in sacred liturgy in 1980.

After having served as an associate pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Glenview, IL as a member of the faculty of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein and as a master of ceremonies to Cardinals John Cody and Joseph Bernardin, he was ordained an auxiliary bishop of Chicago on December 13, 1983. On February 10, 1994, he was installed as the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Belleville, IL where he served for the next eleven years. On December 9, 2004, Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop Gregory as the sixth archbishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. He was installed on January 17, 2005.

In the time since Archbishop Gregory’s arrival, the Archdiocese has:

  • Grown to approximately 1.2 million Catholics
  • Elevated nine parishes and established six missions resulting in 103 parishes and missions.
  • Ordained 64 priests and 152 permanent deacons.
  • Baptized nearly 150,000 infants, children, and adults; and brought over 16,000 people into full communion with the Catholic Church.

Archbishop Gregory has served in many leading roles in the U.S. church. In November 2001, he was elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops following three years as vice president under Bishop Joseph Fiorenza of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston. During his tenure in office, the crisis of sex abuse by Catholic clergy escalated; and under his leadership, the bishops implemented the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”

He served on the NCCB Executive and Administrative Committees, the Administrative Board, the Committee on Doctrine and the U.S. Catholic Conference Committee on International Policy. He previously served as the chairman of the Bishops’ Committees on Personnel and the Third Millennium/Jubilee Year 2000 from 1998-2001, and Liturgy from 1991-1993.

Archbishop Gregory has written extensively on church issues, including pastoral statements on the death penalty, euthanasia/physician-assisted suicide and has published numerous articles on the subject of liturgy, particularly in the African-American community.

Archbishop Gregory has been awarded nine honorary doctoral degrees.  He received the Great Preacher Award from Saint Louis University in 2002; Doctorate of Humanities from Lewis University in Romeoville, IL (2002-2003); Sword of Loyola from Loyola University of Chicago (2004); Doctorate of Humane Letters from Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL (2005); Doctorate of Humane Letters from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH; Doctorate of Humane Letters from McKendree College in Lebanon, IL; Doctorate of Humanities from Fontbonne University in St. Louis, MO; Honorary Law Degree from Notre Dame University (2012); and the Chicago Catholic Theological Union Honorary Doctorate from Saint Louis University (2013).

In 2006, he joined an illustrious group of preachers with his induction into the Martin Luther King Board of Preachers at Morehouse College, Atlanta. At the National Pastoral Life Center in Washington, D.C., Archbishop Gregory was honored with the Cardinal Bernardin Award given by the Catholic Common Ground Initiative (2006).

For a list of all articles referencing Archbishop Gregory and his bi-weekly column, “What I Have Seen and Heard” visit the Georgia Bulletin Website.

Coat of Arms

Archbishop Gregory’s Coat of Arms

The impalement of the personal Arms of Archbishop Gregory with those of the Archdiocese of Atlanta was undertaken by Deacon Paul Sullivan of Saunderstown, Rhode Island. The Arms of the Archdiocese of Atlanta were devised by the late William F. J. Ryan, New York, NY, and West Chatham, MA.

Written by: Rev. Mr. Paul J. Sullivan, Permanent Deacon of the Diocese of Providence

ABG-COA-web
Blazon
Arms impaled. Dexter: Bary wavy of seven Argent and Azure; at the centre point overall an open crown Or and at the honour point a rose of the first with a center of the last. Sinister: Argent, on a cross Gules a cross Sable fimbriated Vert; between to chief dexter a raven Proper, to chief sinister a bear rampant of the third, to base dexter a fleur-de-lis of the second and to base sinister a phoenix Or issuant from flames of the second.

Significance
The archiepiscopal heraldic achievement or archbishop’s coat of arms is composed of a shield with its charges (symbols), a motto scroll and the external ornamentation. The shield, which is the central and most important feature of any heraldic device, is described (blazoned) in 12th century terms that are archaic to our modern language, and this description is presented if given by the bearer with the shield being worn on the arm. Thus, where it applies, the terms dexter and sinister are reversed as the device is viewed from the front.

By heraldic tradition the arms of the bishop, who is “first among equals” of an ecclesiastical province, called a “Metropolitan Archbishop,” are joined, impaled, with the arms of his jurisdiction. In this case, these are the arms of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

These arms are composed of a field that is composed of seven alternating silver (white) and blue bars charged with a silver and gold rose and a gold crown.

For years, known as the “Crossroads of the South,” because it served as the hub of transportation in the region, Atlanta was originally known as “ Whitehall .” A succession of names, “Terminus,” in 1843 “Marthasville”, finally came to be “ Atlanta,” indirectly referencing the Atlantic Ocean, signified by the wavy bars of the design, in 1847. Upon this symbolism are an open gold crown to honor the titular of the Cathedral Church , Christ the King and a Cherokee Rose (Rosa Laevigata), a white rose with a golden center, the state flower of Georgia.

For his personal arms, His Excellency, Archbishop Gregory has retained the design that was adopted upon his selection to receive the fullness of Christ’s Priesthood, as a bishop, when he was appointed as an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Chicago and he retained the design during his tenure as Bishop of Belleville.

On a silver (white) field is a cross, of The Faith, that is composed of three colors; black on green on red. These colors are referred to as the African-American colors and by their use, His Excellency, Archbishop Gregory honors the religious and racial heritage that has come to him from his parents, Wilton and Ethel (Duncan) Gregory.

Within the quarters that are formed by the cross are a raven, to honor the Archbishop’s Benedictine education at Sant’ Anselmo (in Rome), and a black bear taken from the arms of His Eminence, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, His Excellency’s principal Episcopal consecrator. Also within the quarters are a red fleur-de-lis taken from the arms of the Mundelein Seminary in Chicago, where Archbishop Gregory was a student and faculty member, and a golden phoenix, coming forth from red flames, to honor Chicago, the city reborn after the famous Chicago fire.

For his motto, Archbishop Gregory continues to use the phrase “We are the Lord’s,” which is taken from St. Paul ’s Epistle to the Romans (Romans 14:8). By the use of this phrase, His Excellency, Archbishop Gregory expresses the deep Christian belief that all that we are and in all that we do, “we are the Lord’s.”

The achievement is completed with the external ornaments which are a gold processional cross that has two cross-members, that is placed in back of and which extends above and below the shield, and the pontifical hat, called the “gallero,” with its ten tassels, in four rows, on either side of the shield, all in green. These are the heraldic insignia of a prelate of the rank of archbishop by instruction of The Holy See of March 31, 1969.

Archbishop Gregory Writings

The following include select writings, press releases, statements, and homilies by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory during his time at the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

2018
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Statement of Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory Appointment of The Reverend Joel M. Konzen, S.M. as Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta

February 5, 2018
Chancery
Smyrna, Georgia

2017
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Regarding an Extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Persons from Haiti, El Salvador and Honduras   Statement  

October 27, 2017
Chancery
Smyrna, Georgia

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Has the Reformation Been a Failure?   Reflection  

October 26, 2017
Emory University
Atlanta, Georgia

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Reflection on "Repairing the World: Our Shared Responsibility"   Reflection  

October 26, 2017
The Temple
Atlanta, Georgia

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Regarding the Mass Shooting in Las Vegas   Statement  

October 2, 2017
Chancery
Smyrna, Georgia

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Regarding the Ending of the DACA Program   Statement  

September 5, 2017
Chancery
Smyrna, Georgia

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Regarding Bishop Luis R. Zarama's Appointment as Bishop of Raleigh, NC   Statement  

July 5, 2017
Chancery
Smyrna, Georgia

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Regarding the New Auxiliary Bishop Named for The Archdiocese of Atlanta   Statement  

May 15, 2017
Chancery
Smyrna, Georgia

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Pro-Life Mass Homily   Homily  

January 23, 2017
Cathedral of Christ the King
Atlanta, Georgia

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Mass in Commemoration of Dr. King's Birthday   Homily  

January 14, 2017
Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Church
Atlanta, Georgia

2016
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In Response to the Passage of HB 757 and the Promised Veto by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal   Statement  

March 29, 2016
Statement of Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of Atlanta and Most Reverend Gregory J. Hartmayer, Bishop of Savannah

PDF contains the English and Spanish Translation.

2015
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Introducing the New Office of Intercultural and Ethnic Diversity   Español     Letter  

November 9, 2015
A letter by Archbishop Gregory speaks to the creation of the Office of Intercultural and Ethnic Diversity (OIED) which has been founded to better respond to the concerns of our varied cultures and ethnic groups worshipping in the northern half of the state of Georgia.

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Archbishop Gregory's White Mass Homily   Homily  

October 30, 2015
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Arzobispo Gregory homilía de La Misa Roja   Español     Homily  

October 9, 2015
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Archbishop Gregory's Red Mass Homily   Homily  

October 9, 2015
Archbishop Gregory's Homily from the Red mass on Thursday, October 8, 2015.

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Letter from the Vatican re: Kelly Gissandaner   Letter  

September 29, 2015

A letter on behalf of Pope Francis asking for mercy for the life of Kelly Gissendaner.

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Archbishop Gregory Asks for Mercy for Kelly Gissendaner   Letter  

September 28, 2015

Archbishop Gregory sends a letter to the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles asking for mercy and to spare the life of Kelly Gissendaner.

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Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory Responds to Planned Parenthood   Statement  

September 16, 2015
"The struggle to restore our society's respect for human life will be neither easy nor swift, but it is our responsibility as people of faith to remain focused and persevere."

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Archbishop Gregory's Blue Mass Homily   Homily  

September 11, 2015
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Archbishop Gregory’s Statement on the Annulment Process   Statement  

September 9, 2015
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Declaración del Arzobispo en relación al Proceso de Anulación   Español     Statement  

September 9, 2015
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Archbishop Gregory responds to Supreme Court Same Sex Marriage Ruling   Statement  

June 26, 2015
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¡Incluso El Viento Y El Mar Deben Obedecerle! Homilía de la misa por la comunidad de Charleston   Español     Homily  

June 24, 2015
Homilía de la misa por la comunidad de Charleston

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Even The Wind and Sea Must Obey Him! Homily from Mass for Charleston Community   Homily  

June 24, 2015
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Declaración del Arzobispo Wilton D. Gregory en relación a la Carta Encíclica del Papa Francisco sobre el medio ambiente   Español     Statement  

June 19, 2015
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Archbishop Gregory's Response Statement on Pope Francis’ Encyclical on the Environment   Statement  

June 19, 2015
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