The year 2023 in review   – Georgia Bulletin

Photo by Jackie HolcombeSara Bowers Tintle, right, was welcomed by Bishop Bernard E. Shlesinger III following the Rite of Election at St. Philip Benizi Church in Jonesboro Feb. 25, 2023. Tintle was preparing to enter the Catholic Church at Easter through the RCIA program at Christ Our King and Savior Church, Greensboro. Her mother-in-law, Kathleen Tintle, center, looked on. 

Atlanta

By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Editor | Published January 11, 2024

ATLANTA—From the ordination of a third auxiliary bishop to a continued focus on the Eucharist ahead of a national revival, The Georgia Bulletin looks at the stories of 2023 that shaped life in Atlanta’s Catholic community: 

JANUARY 

The archdiocesan newspaper marked its 60th anniversary Jan. 4. The first issue of The Georgia Bulletin was published in 1963. In its inaugural edition, Archbishop Paul J. Hallinan, first archbishop for the Atlanta Archdiocese, wrote “The religious press is not intended to be a ‘house organ’ or a ‘trade sheet.’ Its whole reason for being is that it might enter the community bearing light and courage—light enough to expose society’s ills as well as its strengths; courage enough to inspire justice and charity in those who might falter along the path.”  

Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., celebrated a Mass for the repose of Pope Benedict’s soul Jan. 5 at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta with Bishop Joel M. Konzen, SM, Bishop Bernard E. Shlesinger III and priests of the archdiocese concelebrating. Pope Emeritus Benedict died Dec. 31, 2022.

Bishop John N. Tran was ordained Atlanta’s third auxiliary bishop Jan. 23, 2023.

Bishop John Nhan Tran was ordained Jan. 23, in an afternoon Mass at St. Peter Chanel Church in Roswell as Atlanta’s third auxiliary bishop. He had most recently served as pastor at Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Mandeville, Louisiana, in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Bishop Tran’s episcopal motto is “God will provide.”  

FEBRUARY 

Eleven men celebrated their ordination to serve in the Archdiocese of Atlanta as permanent deacons Feb. 4 at the Cathedral of Christ the King. Bishop Joel M. Konzen, SM, presided. The newly ordained brought the number of permanent deacons serving in central and north Georgia to close to 250. 

Scores of men and women came out in support of the Together for Life rally at the Georgia State Capitol. The midday rally on Feb. 9 was organized by nine civic and faith groups, including the Archdiocese of Atlanta, in opposition to abortion and to promote a culture of life.  

Travelers going through Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport now have the Blessed Sacrament to pray with. Archbishop Hartmayer blessed a new tabernacle in the Interfaith Chapel at the world’s busiest airport Feb. 13. 

A Vatican postage stamp marking the 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’ election features a photo of him praying during the Mass to inaugurate his pontificate March 19, 2013. CNS photo/Courtesy of the Vatican Philatelic and Numismatic Office

MARCH 

In March 2023, the Catholic Church celebrated a decade with Pope Francis as its leader. He has traveled to visit migrants and refugees, prayed with the world during the COVID-19 pandemic and emphasized the church should be a field hospital of mercy. Atlanta Catholics reflected on his pontificate.  

The newspaper shared the story of the Rites of Election held the first weekend of Lent. Across the archdiocese, 1,831 catechumens and candidates were preparing to receive the sacraments for the first time at Easter and more than 600 catechumens were to be baptized. Holy Vietnamese Martyrs Church, Norcross; St. Catherine of Siena Church, Kennesaw; and St. Philip Benizi Church, Jonesboro hosted the rites. 

The Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia (PAC) released a report on its independent review of child sexual abuse cases in the Archdiocese of Atlanta and Diocese of Savannah March 24. The third-party review of records regarding suspected child abuse was initiated in 2019 and was fully supported by diocesan leaders. The report stated that no case needed referral for criminal prosecution, acknowledges the work of the archdiocese in its efforts to create and maintain a safe environment and commented on a positive relationship with law enforcement and state agencies.  

Sister Peggy Fannon, a Sister of Mercy, marked 50 years of service at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Atlanta’s oldest hospital, March 24. Sister Peggy grew up in Atlanta as one of eight children in a devoted Catholic family. 

APRIL 

Archbishop Hartmayer celebrated the annual Chrism Mass April 4, at the Cathedral of Christ the King, encouraging priests to be close to one another and the people of God. Seventeen priests celebrated jubiliee anniversaries of their ordinations. 

The exterior of Cathedral of Christ the King on the evening of the Tenebrae service, a solemn prayer service of song and Scripture. Photo by Johnathon Kelso

The Cathedral of Christ the King held a Tenebrae service April 5. Tenebrae is a mournful prayer service of song and Scripture, marked by the gradual extinguishing of lights until the service ends in darkness and silence. An ancient tradition, the service recalls Christ’s suffering and death. It had been 61 years since Tenebrae was last prayed at the Cathedral.  

MAY 

Archbishop Hartmayer encouraged prayer to lead to action in the wake of a mass shooting in Atlanta May 3 at a medical office in midtown Atlanta. “Every act of violence makes the world a little bit darker. It can erode our hope and challenge our faith,” he said. Amy (Wald) St. Pierre, who graduated from Blessed Trinity High School in 2003, died in the shooting. 

The Catholic Foundation of North Georgia concluded its 30th anniversary year. Its first focus was awarding grants to schools, parishes and nonprofits. The foundation’s scope expanded in 2008 to include endowments for Catholic organizations and gift planning for donors to make lasting impacts. Msgr. Edward Dillon served on the foundation’s board for 20 years. He was honored with the renaming of the original fund for grants and general purposes to the “Reverend Monsignor Edward J. Dillon Fund.”  

Bishop John N. Tran and the campers and volunteers of Toni’s Camp gather for a photo following the celebration of Mass. Photo by Allen Kinzly

Toni’s Camp for children with developmental disabilities celebrated 50 years. The camp is held each May at Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge. Volunteers and the archdiocese’s disabilities ministry plan and execute the weekend camp program, which includes activities, fellowship and Mass, giving parents much-needed rest. 

Atlanta welcomed four new priests, ordained on May 27 at Holy Vietnamese Martyrs Church in Norcross. The priests ordained were Father Pete Coppola, Father Evan Glowzinski, Father Matthew Howard and Father Nicholas Le. 

JUNE 

The Aquinas Center of Theology at Emory University welcomed a new executive director, Dr. Gregory Hillis, June 1. He is the Aquinas Center’s seventh director. Prior to joining the center, he spent 15 years as professor of theology and religious studies at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky. 

The Georgia Bulletin received nine Catholic Press Awards during the 2023 Catholic Media Conference held June 6-9 in Baltimore. The Georgia Bulletin earned awards for stories, columns, photography and its website. 

Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, right, looks on as Bishop Bernard E. Shlesinger III signs a joint statement of the bishops of the Atlanta Province urging action on gun safety reforms. Eight bishops signed the statement June 27 at the Cathedral of Christ the King.

The bishops of the Atlanta Province signed a joint statement June 27 urging “decisive action” on legislation to curb gun violence. The Atlanta Province includes the Diocese of Savannah, the Diocese of Charleston in South Carolina and the Dioceses of Charlotte and Raleigh in North Carolina. The bishops called on federal and state officials within the province to implement meaningful legislation addressing the “plague of gun violence.” 

JULY 

The newspaper highlighted the food truck ministry of the Franciscan Capuchin community. The Capuchins intentionally came to the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 2020 to meet people living on the streets. The brothers serve hot meals to the homeless and help others to stretch their food dollars.  

Capuchin Franciscan Praveen Turaka arrives for food prep at his order’s food truck at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Photo by Johnathon Kelso

With the largest single donation in its 120-year history, St. Vincent de Paul Georgia announced expansion of its Motel to Home Initiative. The organization received a three-year grant of more than $1 million from the QuikTrip Corporation. The goal was to find permanent housing for 200 families in 2023. 

The musical “Garden” had its first performance in Atlanta in a two-weekend run beginning at the end of July. Written by Joey Martineck, the musical was produced by the archdiocese with the Echo Community. Martineck is director of the archdiocesan Respect Life Ministry. He said his purpose in writing the musical was to explore God’s intention for humanity through a retelling of the oldest story of the Bible. 

AUGUST 

World Youth Day began in Lisbon, Portugal Aug. 1. Bishop Joel M. Konzen, SM, was one of 700 bishops attending. He met up with Atlanta pilgrims, concelebrated a Mass in Fatima and attended an event hosted by the U.S. Ambassador to Portugal. The bishop celebrated a send-off Mass in Atlanta for local pilgrims prior to departure. 

Atlanta Catholics shared their experiences attending the National Black Catholic Congress, held every five years. The congress brings together Black and African Catholics from across the nation to celebrate faith and culture. With agendas for adults and youth, the event included Masses, prayer and presentations on issues facing the community.  

As a member of the Catholic Relief Services Board of Directors, Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., traveled to Honduras in June to witness the agency’s lifesaving work. In the August edition, he shared details of the vital CRS programs that help families be more self-sufficient. 

SEPTEMBER 

The Atlanta Archdiocese hosted the one-day Rescue Live event as part of its initiative to advance the national Eucharistic Revival. Father John Riccardo and the ACTS XXIX team, based in Detroit, presented the day of preaching, reflection and small-group discussion on Sept. 9 at the Cobb Galleria Centre to 1,260 attendees. 

Participants listen to Father John Riccardo during Rescue Atlanta at the Cobb Galleria Centre. Photo by Johnathon Kelso

Commemorating a decade of education, Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School unveiled a 28-foot-long, colorful mural featuring a collage of its students, showcasing their diverse backgrounds.    

The new school year brought a different model of operation for Christ the King School. The 86-year-old school announced it is now an accredited independent Catholic school within the Archdiocese of Atlanta.   

Two schools in the Archdiocese of Atlanta were recognized as national models of excellence. Blessed Trinity High School and St. Jude the Apostle School were named 2023 National Blue Ribbon schools on Tuesday, Sept. 19. It was a repeat honor for both schools. 

St. Joseph Church, the first Catholic Church in Athens, celebrated its 150th anniversary on Sunday, Sept. 17, with Mass and a reception at its Epps Bridge Parkway location.  

OCTOBER 

The Georgia Bulletin announces an endowment named for its late executive editor Mary Anne Castranio.  The fund supports the newspaper of historical record for the archdiocese, in all present and future print and digital forms of storytelling. The endowment is managed by the Catholic Foundation of North Georgia.   

Archbishop Hartmayer asked for prayers for the Holy Land following the Oct. 7 attack on Israel. He wrote, “The news of the violent terrorist attacks in Israel over the past few days has been heartbreaking. We join our prayers to those of the Holy Father in this time of crisis.” 

United in commitment to end the death penalty, dozens of faith leaders and advocates assembled outside the Georgia State Capitol Oct. 10 for a prayer vigil.  More than 50 people gathered in for World Day Against the Death Penalty, encouraging lawmakers to change the standard of proof for those with intellectual disabilities in capital cases.   

The Order of Friars Minor—known as the “lesser brothers” of the Franciscan orders for their humility and simple brown robes—formed a new, unified Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe that spans the United States coast to coast. They are headquartered in Atlanta. 

Portaits of the Black American candidates for sainthood are presented at the altar of Sts. Peter and Paul church before the Sojourning On the Road to Sainthood event. Photo by Johnathon Kelso

Sts. Peter and Paul Church, ahead of Black Catholic History Month, held a program on the “Saintly Six,” a group of pioneering Black Catholics, who served with love and devotion in the face of racism and injustice. The six are at the center of an effort to urge Pope Francis to expedite canonization.  

NOVEMBER 

The newspaper featured the work of the Linus Lunch Bunch volunteers, who have delivered meals to Kennesaw State University Catholic Center students since the early 2000s, continuing a beloved tradition. The center, a 10-minute walk from the heart of the campus, has seen a surge of students visiting for fellowship, faith and home cooking. 

Pam Haeger, left, and Leslie McCloskey, right, sit outside the KSU Catholic Center before lunch begins. Photo by Johnathon Kelso

Family and scores of students from Clark Atlanta University gathered at the Catholic center at the Atlanta University Center on Nov. 16 to remember Jatonne Sterling. A granite cross was erected in the parking lot of the Lyke House Newman Center where Sterling was fatally shot in February 2023. 

The newspaper shared stories of the anniversaries of Holy Family Church in Marietta, which marked 50 years in 2023 and of Mother of God Ukrainian Catholic Church, which celebrated its 25th anniversary. 

J.D. Childs, the first appointed lay president of Marist School in its 122-year history, shared his hopes and goals after beginning his first school year there. Childs said he planned to center the year around teachers and students.  

DECEMBER 

Bishop Joel M. Konzen recounted experiences from his trip to Ghana in the fall to visit the Pope Francis School & Health Centre (PFSHC). The program serves orphans with chronic health needs. Bishop Konzen and a group of Atlanta Catholics, led by the program’s founder Mike Barry, visited the Volta region of Ghana. 

A student leads Bishop Joel M. Konzen, SM, during his October visit to the Pope Francis School & Health Centre in Ghana. Mike Barry, formerly of Atlanta, founded the program that educates and cares for orphans with chronic health conditions. Photo Courtesy of PFSHC

From ministries to help the hungry to its well-known music programs, the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Atlanta was chronicled to commemorate its 175 years. The shrine is known for its welcoming tradition among parishioners and the community. 

Sister Margaret McAnoy, IHM, died Dec. 14, at the IHM Senior Living Community, Monroe, Michigan. She was 89 years old and served in various ministries in the Archdiocese of Atlanta for 50 years. 

In a Dec. 19 memo to archdiocesan priests, Archbishop Hartmayer encouraged them all to read the full text of the declaration, “Fiducia Supplicans on the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings,” issued by the Vatican’s Discastery for the Doctrine of the Faith the previous day. The declaration on informally blessing same-sex couples or other non-married couples is a reminder that the church and its pastors never close the door on people seeking God’s help, said a commentary published in Vatican media.  

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