Chronology of Archbishop Wilton Gregory’s first year as archbishop of Washington
May 21, 2020
April 4, 2019 – Pope Francis names Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory as the new archbishop of Washington, succeeding Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who served as Washington’s archbishop from June 2006 until October 2018. That morning at a press conference at the Archdiocese of Washington’s Pastoral Center, Archbishop Gregory pledges to an archdiocese shaken by the abuse allegations against former cardinal and archbishop Theodore McCarrick, “I will rebuild your trust.”
April 5, 2019 – The day after being appointed to Washington, Archbishop Wilton Gregory begins to get to know his new home, visiting the headquarters of Catholic Charities, then St. Anthony Catholic School, and later the Jeanne Jugan Residence for the elderly poor operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor in Washington. He concludes his day by celebrating Mass at the archdiocese’s Saint John Paul II Seminary, where in his opening prayer he addresses the seminarians as “my dear young brothers” and says in his homily, “Like you, I’m on a journey to Christ.”
May 21, 2019 – Archbishop Wilton Gregory is installed as the seventh archbishop of Washington during a Mass of Installation at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. In his homily, he reflects on the story of how when Jesus was in the boat with His disciples when seas were stormy, He brought them back safely to shore. “He invites us to place our trust in Him,” the archbishop says.
May 26, 2019 – Archbishop Gregory celebrates his first Mass as archbishop of Washington at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, where the rector, Msgr. W. Ronald Jameson, says, “Today we welcome you to your cathedral.”
May 27, 2019 – At a Memorial Day Mass attended by 400 people at Resurrection Cemetery in Clinton, Maryland, Archbishop Gregory says, “We remember countless men and women who offered their lives in selfless service to our country so we can be free.”
May 29, 2019 – At a baccalaureate Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for the graduating students of Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park, Archbishop Gregory encourages them to follow their dreams and help build a better world. Don Bosco Cristo Rey, which offers students from low-income families a college preparatory curriculum and an innovative Corporate Work Study Program, is sponsored by the archdiocese and the Salesians of Don Bosco.
June 2, 2019 – Archbishop Gregory, the first African American archbishop of Washington, is greeted with shouts of joy when he appears in the doorway to celebrate Mass at St. Augustine Church in Washington, D.C. St. Augustine, the mother church of African American Catholics in the nation’s capital, was founded in 1858 by free men and women of color, including some people emancipated from slavery. In his homily, Archbishop Gregory says, “I stand on holy ground, as do all of you when you gather each Sunday for the Eucharist… Today a son of the African diaspora stands in your midst as the shepherd of the entire family of faith that is the Archdiocese of Washington.”
June 15, 2019 – In a Mass at the National Shrine, Archbishop Gregory ordains 10 new priests for the Archdiocese of Washington. In his homily, he encourages them to model their lives after Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and reflect Christ’s love as they carry out their priestly ministry.
June 16, 2019 – Archbishop Gregory praises the love and faith of 440 couples from across the archdiocese marking milestone wedding anniversaries at the annual Jubilarian Mass at the National Shrine.
June 21, 2019 – In an interview with the Catholic Standard newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington, Archbishop Gregory praises actions taken by the nation’s bishops at their June 11-13 meeting to address the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, saying it involves “a procedure for receiving and reviewing allegations of inappropriate behavior on the part of bishops involving the abuse of minors or sexual harassment,” building on the 2002 Dallas charter for the protection of young people. The archbishop adds, “the bedrock issue should be the respect and treatment of those victims and survivors who may have been disbelieved, ignored and certainly insulted when they came forward with their claims in the past.”
June 22, 2019 – Ordaining nine new permanent deacons for the archdiocese during a Mass at the National Shrine, Archbishop Wilton Gregory notes that deacons since the Church’s beginning have been called by the Holy Spirit to serve the Church and witness to the faith as they lead people to Christ.
July 6, 2019 – Archbishop Gregory celebrates the closing Mass at the National Harbor in Maryland for the Archbishop Lyke Conference that seeks to enrich liturgies and ministries and promote evangelization at parishes serving Black Catholics.
July 14, 2019 – Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the pope’s apostolic nuncio to the United States, confers the pallium, a lambs wool band, around the neck and over the shoulders of Archbishop Wilton Gregory as a sign of his office as archbishop of Washington during a Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, saying it reflects his unity and communion with the Holy See and represents the bonds of love and courage a shepherd must have in serving his flock.
July 21, 2019 – Archbishop Gregory celebrates a Mass marking the 160th anniversary of St. Ignatius of Loyola Church in Hilltop, Maryland, praising the “faithful fidelity” that parishioners have reflected for generations in that small parish in rural Charles County.
July 27, 2019 – Archbishop Gregory celebrates a Mass for seminarians and their families at the 13th annual Seminarian Family Day at St. Patrick Church in Rockville, Maryland.
Aug. 1, 2019 – In a statement, Archbishop Gregory urges an end to divisive, disrespectful speech, saying recent public statement by President Trump and others “have deepened divisions and diminished our national life.” The archbishop’s statement calls on people to reject language “that ridicules, condemns or vilifies another person because of their race, religion, gender, age, culture or ethnic background.”
Aug. 2, 2019 – Archbishop Gregory offers the invocation at the official opening and ribbon cutting of the Providence Urgent Care Center in Northeast Washington, D.C., at the site of the former Providence Hospital, which had been founded by the Daughters of Charity in 1861 and has served patients in Washington for more than 150 years.
Aug. 13, 2019 – Addressing young adult Catholics at a Theology on Tap gathering at Public Bar Live in Washington, D.C., Archbishop Gregory encourages them to be active members of the Church, saying, “You cannot be a Catholic and sit on the sidelines.”
Aug. 26, 2019 – Celebrating the Opening of Schools Mass at the National Shrine for Catholic school teachers and administrators in the archdiocese, Archbishop Gregory encouraged them to turn to the Holy Spirit to guide their work in the new school year. Also at the Mass, Catholic schools and educators marking milestone anniversaries were honored for their service.
Aug. 28, 2019 – Archbishop Gregory celebrates an opening school year Mass for students and faculty at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, for seminarians at the Saint John Paul II Seminary later that day, and at Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park on Aug. 30.
Sept. 5, 2019 – At a Mass at St. Mary’s Ryken High School in Leonardtown, Maryland, Archbishop Gregory installs Dr. Rick Wood as the school’s new president and CEO, and during his visit there, he also blesses Ryken’s recently constructed Donnie Williams Center, which includes new courts for volleyball and basketball and other athletic facilities.
Sept. 8, 2019 – Joining religious leaders and members of different faiths at the annual Unity Walk sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Washington, Archbishop Gregory says that event shows that people of different faiths “are intended to live together in harmony” and “intended to walk together into the future.”
Sept. 13, 2019 – Washington’s new archbishop celebrates Masses at Holy Cross Church in Garrett Park, Maryland, for students of Holy Cross School, and at the nearby Academy of the Holy Cross in Kensington to mark the feast day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and tells students that the cross offers a reminder of “just how much Jesus loves us.”
Sept. 14, 2019 – At the Mid-Maryland Mission of Mercy hosted by Catholic Charities and the University of Maryland, Archbishop Gregory greets some of the 1,100 patients who received dental care at the two-day clinic for the uninsured and underinsured, and also meets and thanks some of the 500 volunteer dental and medical professionals serving there.
Sept. 17, 2019 – Celebrating a Mass marking the 60th anniversary of Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg, Maryland, Archbishop Gregory encourages the young women there to emulate their school’s patron saint, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, a pioneer in Catholic education who in 1975 became the first citizen born in the United States to be named a saint.
Sept. 21, 2019 – Celebrating a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Matthew’s Cathedral for noted broadcast journalist and author Cokie Roberts, Archbishop Gregory said, “We rejoice in her humor, her conviction of faith, and her womanly ability to bring out the best in us – and to insist on nothing less.”
Sept. 22, 2019 – Archbishop Gregory celebrates Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Deaf Catholic Church in Landover Hills, with his spoken words communicated in American Sign Language to the congregation, which included students from Gallaudet University, the liberal arts university in Washington, D.C., that serves deaf and hard of hearing students.
Sept. 26, 2019 – During a visit to St. Joseph’s Regional Catholic School in Beltsville, Maryland, Archbishop Wilton Gregory makes a surprise announcement that the school is one of four Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Washington to be named as 2019 National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education, joining St. Peter’s School on Capitol Hill, Blessed Sacrament School in Washington, D.C., and St. Raphael School in Rockville, Maryland, in receiving that honor. The archbishop visits St. Peter’s School later that day and celebrates a Grandparents Day Mass for the St. Raphael School community the next day.
Sept. 29, 2019 – Celebrating a Mass for the 100th anniversary of St. Gabriel Parish in Washington, D.C., on the feast day of St. Gabriel the archangel, Archbishop Gregory encourages parishioners to emulate their patron saint by being “loving (and) compassionate to those who look to you, hoping that you are the angels that your name suggests.”
Oct. 2, 2019 – Archbishop Gregory blesses the new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Spacemaker Lab during a ribbon cutting ceremony at Holy Family School in Hillcrest Heights, Maryland.
Oct. 5, 2019 – After celebrating a Mass at Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School in Washington, D.C., Archbishop Gregory blesses the school’s new Berchmans Hall, named for Visitation Sister Mary Berchmans Hannan who has played a leading role at the Catholic high school for young women for more than six decades, serving over the years as a teacher, Head of School and president there. Berchmans Hall includes an art studio, classrooms for math and science and laboratories.
Oct. 6, 2019 – At the annual Red Mass held at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C., Archbishop Gregory encourages those in law to reflect God’s justice and mercy.
Oct. 13, 2019 – Archbishop Gregory presides at the dedication and blessing of the James M. Sullivan Memorial House on the campus of Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Potomac, Maryland, a home for three young women with developmental differences.
Oct. 17, 2019 – Archbishop Gregory blesses a solar array being installed on five acres of Catholic Charities’ land surrounding the Missionaries of Charity’s Gift of Peace Home. The array of 5,072 panels expected to be operational by early 2020 will be the largest such solar project built thus far in Washington, D.C. The proceeds will offset nearly all of the energy costs of Catholic Charities’ 12 properties in the District of Columbia. In his prayer of blessing, the archbishop asks God to “bless this solar array to produce energy from the light of day which you created.”
Oct. 19, 2019 – Celebrating a Mass for 600 religious educators gathered for the archdiocese’s annual Catechetical Day at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Maryland, Archbishop Gregory thanks them for their ministry of teaching and sharing the faith.
Oct. 20, 2019 – At a Mass celebrating the 150th anniversary of St. Ann Parish in Washington, D.C., Archbishop Gregory says, “St. Ann’s continues to be a beacon of hope to so many who come to worship, to be educated in the faith, to be renewed by the grace of the sacraments, and to be served in truth and charity.”
Oct. 23, 2019 – Before speaking at a reception celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Archdiocese’s Victory Housing program, Archbishop Gregory visits the Victory Heights apartment building in Washington’s Columbia Heights neighborhood, which provides 75 affordable apartment units for independent seniors. Victory Housing operates 31 communities with 2,280 units, including apartments for seniors, assisted living for the frail elderly and affordable apartments for low- and moderate-income families. In an interview, the archbishop said Victory Housing’s outreach shows “the Church is where it should be, in the midst of the lives of our people.”
Oct. 27, 2019 – In his homily at St. Matthew’s Cathedral for the Archdiocese of Washington’s 10th annual White Mass that recognizes the dignity of persons with special needs and their families and those who care for them, Archbishop Gregory says, “The great diversity of God’s world is a sign of God’s own splendor and goodness.”
Nov. 5-7, 2019 – Archbishop Gregory joins nearly 200 priests of the Archdiocese of Washington and the archdiocese’s auxiliary and retired bishops for three days of prayer and fellowship at the Convocation of Priests in Cambridge, Maryland. In his column for the Catholic Standard, the archbishop writes, “It was a much needed positive encounter for this presbyterate, especially after having endured such a painful past year. In many ways, it could not have come at a better moment for this local Church.”
Nov. 21, 2019 – Speaking at a panel on “The Francis Factor Today” cosponsored by Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, Archbishop Gregory says Pope Francis “is a pastor, and he approaches the papacy from that perspective.”
Nov. 23, 2019 – Before celebrating a Mass inaugurating the 100th anniversary of Holy Redeemer Parish in Washington, Archbishop Gregory participates in a groundbreaking for the parish’s planned “Welcome Annex” that will include an elevator offering accessibility for senior citizens and other Massgoers.
Nov. 26, 2019 – Archbishop Gregory celebrates a Thanksgiving Mass for students at St. Anthony Catholic School in Washington, D.C. The students’ offertory gifts at the Mass include some of the food they had collected in a large Thanksgiving drive for their parish’s St. Anthony’s Bread/St. Vincent de Paul Emergency Food Pantry.
Dec. 3, 2019 – Archbishop Gregory says the Ad Limina meeting in Rome that he and fellow Catholic bishops from Washington and other U.S. dioceses had with Pope Francis offered a “give and take dialogue with the successor of Peter… He spoke from his heart and suggested that we be as candid and open as he was with us.”
Dec. 5, 2019 – At a Mass with U.S. bishops at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome, Archbishop Gregory says that just as children run to their mother’s arms in times of trouble, so too should Catholics, including popes and bishops, turn to Mary to seek her wisdom and protection.
Dec. 7, 2019 – Archbishop Gregory marks his 72nd birthday.
Dec. 14, 2019 – Following the Archdiocese of Washington’s annual Walk with Mary procession to the National Shrine, Archbishop Gregory celebrates a Mass honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the Americas.
Dec. 23, 2019 – Joining Filipino Catholics at St. Columba Church in Oxon Hill, Maryland, for a traditional Simbang Gabi Mass before Christmas, Archbishop Gregory praised them for their faith and devotion and for helping to shine Christ's light in the world. “Our Filipino brothers and sisters use this time of year to prepare their hearts for the coming of Christ,” the archbishop said at the final Mass in a novena of nine evening Masses held at the church leading up to Christmas.
Dec. 24, 2019 – Celebrating his first Christmas Mass as archbishop of Washington at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, Archbishop Gregory notes that Christmas is often seen as a special day for children, but he adds that Christmas is also an important holy day for adults to open their hearts to Christ – “...None of us who comes close to this infant and opens our hearts to Him will ever be the same again.”
Jan. 1, 2020 – On New Year’s Day, which also marks the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God and the day when the people of Haiti celebrate their nation’s independence, Archbishop Gregory celebrates a Mass for Haitian Catholics at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Washington, D.C. The Mass celebrating faith and freedom was marked by reverent prayers and joyful songs in French and Creole, and Archbishop Gregory praised the faith and depth of character of the Haitian people, who in recent years have endured several natural disasters in that island nation.
Jan. 14, 2020 – Archbishop Gregory celebrates a Mass for St. Mary’s School of Piscataway in Clinton, Maryland, and then blesses the school’s new Media Center, the remodeled school library that features an expanded selection of books and state-of-the-art technology including virtual reality goggles and new educational software.
Jan. 18, 2020 – Celebrating the Archdiocese of Washington’s annual Mass honoring the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Washington, D.C., Archbishop Gregory says the proper way to honor the late civil rights leader is to “develop our own characters according to the highest principles of our nation and religious heritage.”
Jan. 24, 2020 – At the Youth Rally and Mass for Life at the Capital One Arena, Archbishop Gregory celebrates a Mass for the 18,000 teens and young adults attending the archdiocese’s largest annual event. The archbishop says seeing so many young people there shows that the Church’s “witness to the dignity of life is youthful and has a future.”
Jan. 26, 2020 – Archbishop Gregory opens Catholic Schools Week at St. Andrew Apostle Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, encouraging students from the parish’s school to be disciples of Christ in sharing the Good News of the Gospel. He also celebrates Catholic Schools Week Masses at Mother Catherine Academy in Mechanicsville, Maryland, on Jan. 28, and for students from St. Francis International School in Silver Spring, Maryland, on Jan. 29.
Jan. 30, 2020 – After a Mass at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Maryland, Archbishop Gregory blesses the construction site for the school’s future Student Life Center. That new facility, expected to be completed in 2021, will include an all-school dining space and event space, and classrooms for the arts.
Feb. 1, 2020 – Archbishop Gregory celebrates a Mass marking the 25th anniversary of Jesus the Divine Word Parish in Huntingtown, Maryland, praising clergy and laity for the “strong foundation of faith in this community,” and adding, “You should all rejoice in what God has accomplished in you.”
Feb. 2, 2020 – To mark the World Day for Consecrated Life, Archbishop Gregory celebrates a Mass at the St. Ursula Chapel of the Archdiocese of Washington’s Pastoral Center honoring 17 local women and men in consecrated life marking milestone anniversaries this year.
Feb. 5, 2020 – Celebrating a Mass at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C., in honor of African American History Month, Archbishop Gregory tells students that in learning more about the heritage of men and women of color, “we might be encouraged to believe that we, too, can be contributors to the future.”
Feb. 26, 2020 – At an Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral opening the season of Lent, Archbishop Gregory encouraged Catholics to “continue to be ambassadors for Christ long after the ashes are washed away.”
Feb. 28, 2020 – Celebrating the opening Mass at the 2020 Catholic Partnership Summit in Washington, D.C, that brought together Catholic leaders from across the United States, Archbishop Gregory says Jesus emphasized that leadership within the Church “has always been identified with service and never merely to be equated with title or rank.” That emphasis on service resonates with young Catholics that the Church needs for its future leadership, he adds.
March 1, 2020 – Presiding at the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the first of two successive Sundays, Archbishop Gregory welcomes the 1,100 people in the Archdiocese of Washington preparing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church this Easter, and expresses “how happy we are to have you join us on the journey of faith.”
March 12, 2020 – Archbishop Gregory blesses and cuts the ribbon on the new Jim Vance Media Center at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C., named for the veteran NBC4 news anchor who died in 2017. The media center, which was praised for continuing Vance’s legacy of journalism and support for education, includes broadcast and recording studios, editing booths and master control rooms.
March 12, 2020 – In a statement from the Archdiocese of Washington, Archbishop Gregory announces that in response to public health recommendations from local government leaders regarding the potential spread of coronavirus, Masses open to the public in all archdiocesan parishes, missions and campus ministries will not be celebrated starting March 14 until further notice. The archdiocese also announces that its Catholic schools will be closed from March 16-27, and later extends those closures through April 24 following the public safety directives of local educational leaders. The archbishop also issues a dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass during this time to all parishioners of the Archdiocese of Washington.
In the archdiocese’s statement, Archbishop Gregory says, “We are aware of the rapidly developing district and state guidelines regarding the coronavirus. My number one priority as your archbishop is to ensure the safety and health of all who attend our Masses, the children in our schools, and those we welcome through our outreach and services. Please know that this decision does not come lightly to close our schools or cancel Masses. We are profoundly saddened that we are not able to celebrate our sacraments as a community for the time being, but we know Christ remains with us at all times – specifically in times of worry like this.”
April 11, 2020 – Marking his first Easter as the archbishop of Washington, Archbishop Wilton Gregory celebrates the Easter Vigil in a livestreamed Mass on Holy Saturday, April 11, at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in the nation’s capital, and encourages people to seek the risen Christ.
“Easter is the feast that urges us not to look for Him in the tomb, but to remember He always goes before us, if we only take the time to search for Jesus with our hearts and our eyes open and always eager to find Him,” the archbishop says in his homily.
May 1, 2020 – In a ceremony at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., Archbishop Gregory reconsecrates the United States to Mary, joining bishops across the United States and Canada in rededicating their countries to the Blessed Mother’s protection during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In this difficult time we turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of Peace, to ask that she intercede with her Son for all those who are affected in any way by this pandemic,” Archbishop Gregory prays during the livestreamed service.
May 13, 2020 – Archbishop Gregory celebrates the first All Schools Mass for the Archdiocese of Washington. The livestreamed liturgy at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center’s St. Ursula Chapel in Hyattsville, Maryland, was held to unite the archdiocese’s Catholic school communities together during a time of distance learning when school campuses were closed following government restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Pointing to the example of young people who during the Catholic Church’s history have been declared saints, Archbishop Gregory tells Catholic school students, “You are also called to become saints, even now as you are still school-aged young people… The grace of the Holy Spirit can work wonders in and through you.”
May 15, 2020 – The Archdiocese of Washington sends a letter to local priests, notifying them that parishes can resume celebrating public Masses on May 25 in jurisdictions that allow them. That week, most jurisdictions within the archdiocese – which includes the nation’s capital and the five surrounding counties – announced that they were maintaining coronavirus restrictions, including strict limits on the sizes of public gatherings. The archdiocese also sends priests recommendations on planning for the resumption of Masses, with safety measures including Mass goers wearing masks, using hand sanitizer as they enter church, and maintaining a social distance from others in pews and as they receive Communion.
In a video message to local Catholics that day, Archbishop Gregory says, “It is important to understand that things will not immediately ‘go back to normal.’ Precautionary measures will need to be in place for the health and safety of everyone. And at least in some respects, we should not want to simply go back to the way things used to be.”
Archbishop Gregory also notes in the video message that, “In these past months, in the face of the coronavirus health emergency, we have experienced challenges and hardships unlike any we have ever faced as a nation, a people, or a Church. Our best and smartest first response – as in all things – is to turn to the Lord who comforts us and strengthens us. Our Lord walks with us and guides our way forward.”
May 21, 2020 – In a message posted on the Archdiocese of Washington’s website and on its social media, Archbishop Gregory marks the first anniversary of his installation as the archbishop of Washington by thanking local Catholics for their warm welcome.
“During this year, I have vividly seen first-hand how much the love of the Holy Spirit fills our archdiocesan family,” the archbishop writes. “The year has seen many great joys and, certainly more recently, some unique challenges. Thanks be to God that through it all, ‘We are the Lord’s.’ It is a comfort to know that as we continue on our pilgrim journey, there is still more for us to discover because love is an inexhaustible gift that continues to deepen, the more it is shared.”