WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer of Savannah, Georgia, to be the archbishop of Atlanta.

He succeeds Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, who was Atlanta's archbishop from 2005 until he was appointed to head the Archdiocese of Washington in 2019. 

The appointment was announced March 5 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

A Conventual Franciscan, Archbishop-designate Hartmayer, 68, has served as Savannah's 14th bishop since Pope Benedict XVI appointed him to head that diocese July 19, 2011.

In Atlanta, Auxiliary Bishop Joel M. Konzen has been serving as administrator of the archdiocese of Atlanta since Archbishop Gregory's appointment to Washington. 

In a statement, Archbishop Gregory reacted to the appointment by saying, “Today, Pope Francis has sent the Archdiocese of Atlanta an extraordinary shepherd. Bishop Hartmayer is a familiar face for the Church in north Georgia, where he served with great distinction for many years as a local pastor.  He knows the people and is deeply loved and respected.  He will be an excellent archbishop, and the people of God will be blessed through his ministry and care.”

In their online news article announcing the appointment, the Georgia Bulletin, the newspaper and website of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, noted that Archbishop-designate Hartmayer, a native of Buffalo, New York, professed his solemn vows as a Conventual Franciscan friar in 1973 and was ordained to the priesthood in Albany, New York, in 1979. He has a master of arts degree in pastoral counseling from Emmanuel College in Boston and master's degree in secondary Catholic school administration from Boston College.

The Georgia Bulletin's story noted that after his ordination to the priesthood, Archbishop-designate Hartmayer served as a guidance counselor at Archbishop Curley High School in Baltimore, where he was later the principal from 1985-87. He later also served as a principal at two Catholic high schools in New York -- Cardinal O'Hara High School in Tonawanda at St. Francis High School in Hamburg.

After serving on the faculty at John Carroll High School in Fort Pierce, Florida, he then served as pastor of two parishes in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, leading St. Philip Benizi Church in Jonesboro, Georgia, from 1995-2010, when he was named pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Lithia Springs, Georgia, where he served until being named as bishop of Savannah in 2011.

Archbishop-designate Hartmayer will be introduced and welcomed at a press conference on March 5 at the Archdiocese of Atlanta's chancery. The solemn vespers for Atlanta's new archbishop will be on May 5 at the Cathedral of Christ the King, and his installation will be on May 6 at St. Peter Chanel Church in Roswell.

The Archdiocese of Atlanta encompasses 69 counties in the northern half of Georgia  covering 21,445 square miles. It includes 103 parishes and missions,  277 diocesan and religious priests, 62 seminarians, 18 archdiocesan  Catholic schools and 1.2 million Catholics in north central Georgia.