New Archbishop's Life and Legacy
Biography of Archbishop Wilton Gregory
Apr 3, 2019
US & World
Archbishop Wilton Gregory was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1973 and was named an auxiliary bishop in 1983. He was named Bishop of Belleville in 1994 where he served for eleven years before being named by Pope John Paul II as the sixth Archbishop of Atlanta in 2005. Archbishop Gregory will be the seventh Archbishop of Washington.
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory was born December 7, 1947 in Chicago to Wilton Sr. and Ethel Duncan Gregory; he has two sisters, Elaine and Claudia. He 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 of the Archdiocese of Chicago on May 9, 1973, and three years after his ordination 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 Saint John Paul II appointed Bishop Gregory as the sixth archbishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. He was installed on January 17, 2005.
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 (USCCB) 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 has served on the USCCB’S 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, Divine Worship 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).
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