The Archdiocese of Washington has a new archbishop! On May 21, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta, Georgia, will be installed as our new archbishop. He replaces Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who retired.
When he is installed, he will be the seventh archbishop in the history of the archdiocese and the first African-American to lead the Church in Washington and the surrounding Maryland counties – Montgomery, Prince George’s, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s.
Pope Francis announced Archbishop Gregory’s appointment on April 4, and that very day the new archbishop addressed the people of the archdiocese. He pledged to “model for all the love and teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Archbishop Gregory said he is excited to learn about his new home. He said he wants to “be in the midst of our people, listening to them, praying with them, dining with them. I want to be in the pews with the people.”
On the day after the announcement, Archbishop Gregory did indeed meet with the people. He visited the Little Sisters of the Poor and the elderly they serve. He stopped by Catholic Charities headquarters to learn about the good work they do. He met and prayed with young men preparing to become priests. He stopped by a fish fry dinner at Nativity Parish in Washington. And he visited St. Anthony School in Washington.
When he was visiting with the students, the archbishop told them that his favorite movie is “The Wizard of Oz” and his favorite subject in school was history.
Archbishop Gregory was also a Catholic school student himself. When he was a sixth-grade student, he started attending St. Carthage School in Chicago. After a few weeks there, he decided to become a Catholic and was later baptized, received his First Holy Communion and was confirmed.
It was also as a young Catholic school student that he decided to become a priest. He said that at his school, the priests and sisters there were kind and gentle and that is what inspired him to enter the priesthood.
Archbishop Gregory has said that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the famous civil rights leader, has had an influence on his life. He called Dr. King an “extraordinary American, preacher of the Gospel and great humanitarian.” The archbishop said his own life was changed because of the example of Dr. King, who died for “the cause of justice, peace and unity.”
Archbishop Gregory was born on Dec. 7, 1947, and was ordained as a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1973. Ten years later, he was ordained as an auxiliary bishop for Chicago at the age of 36. At the time, he was this country’s youngest Catholic bishop.
He was also the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops between 2001-04.
For his motto (a few words that sums up a person’s beliefs), Archbishop Gregory chose the phrase, “We are the Lord’s,” from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans (Romans 14:8), to express that whoever people are and whatever they do, they belong to God.
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