Archbishop Hartmayer’s statement in response to Holy Land violence

ATLANTA–Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., issued a statement Oct. 12 in response to violence in the Holy Land. His statement follows:

“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. We pray for our Jewish brothers and sisters in Israel, as well as those here in Georgia, many of whom have been directly impacted by this violence. We also pray for all of the innocent victims caught in the crossfire. In response to the violence and escalating tensions in the Holy Land, I implore not only the Catholic community in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, but all people of good will to pray for peace.

In his weekly Angelus address on October 8, 2023, Pope Francis stated, ‘I am following apprehensively and sorrowfully what is happening in Israel where the violence has exploded even more ferociously, causing hundreds of deaths and casualties. I express my closeness to the families and victims. I am praying for them and for all who are living hours of terror and anguish. May the attacks and weaponry cease. Please! And let it be understood that terrorism and war do not lead to any resolutions, but only to the death and suffering of so many innocent people. War is a defeat! Every war is a defeat! Let us pray that there be peace in Israel and in Palestine.’

The Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem issued a statement on Oct. 7, condemning the attacks and calling for prayer during this time of instability. I unite my sentiments with theirs: ‘We unequivocally condemn any acts that target civilians, regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, or faith. Such actions go against the fundamental principles of humanity and the teachings of Christ, who implored us to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ (Mk 12:31).’

Additionally, we pray for the Christian community in the Holy Land, many of whom have fled the region. Father Francesco Patton, OFM, the Custos of the Holy Land, stated in a recent interview: ‘The Christian population is always a peaceful population and the risk when there are conflicts, confrontations and war, is that the Christian population is the first victim after every war. Some of the members of our communities leave the country.’

The International Justice and Peace Commission of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement on October 8, 2023 condemning the violence and asking to never tire of praying for peace. Violence–especially against innocent citizens–must always be condemned.

Let us invoke the intercession of Our Lady under her title of Queen of Peace to bring peace to the beloved land we call “holy” and to all parts of the world, where conflict rages.

As a spiritual son of St. Francis of Assisi, I commend to you his prayer for peace.  May we all be instruments of peace at this critical time in history.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.”

Lifelong commitment to Christ: five ordained as deacons

ROSWELL—The men about to be ordained deacons walked into the crowded St. Peter Chanel Church arm in arm with those who raised them first in their faith, their moms and dads. 

Calling the new clergyman “my dear brothers and sons,” Atlanta Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., told the crowd the five men were making “a lifelong commitment to Christ, a lifelong commitment to his church and a lifelong commitment to serving his people.” 

Archbishop Hartmayer led the ceremony, with Auxiliary Bishop John N. Tran, Auxiliary Bishop Bernard E. Shlesinger III and Auxiliary Bishop Joel M. Konzen, S.M. Also, Auxiliary Bishop Richard Spencer of the Archdiocese for Military Services concelebrated the Mass. Scores of deacons and priests also attended.  

Deacon David DesPres elevates the chalice as Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer, OFM Conv., celebrates the transitional diaconate ordination Mass at St. Peter Chanel Church. Photo by Johnathon Kelso

Friends and family of the men filled the church, which can hold close to 900 people. 

During the ceremony rich with tradition, the men promised celibacy, prayer and obedience to the archbishop and his successors.  

Deacons preach at Mass, witness marriages, baptize children and offer funeral prayers. And for these five men, the year serves as a transition to the priesthood in June 2023.  

During the next months, the men will serve in parishes in the Atlanta area and then return to seminary to finish their studies for priestly ordination. They will serve as deacons in parishes and ministries around their seminary community.  

In his homily, the archbishop said their new role as deacons in the church requires them to “servant healers.”  

Deacons are to be “Christ’s loving presence in the world today, walking alongside God’s holy people,” he said. “You are commissioned to be instruments of God’s consoling and healing presence in a broken world.”  

The archbishop encouraged the men to seek out and be surprised where they find Jesus.  

“You must stand by the downtrodden, bind up hearts that are broken,” he said. “With a servant’s heart, you will meet Christ in places you never expected.” 

After graduation from the University of Georgia in 2015, Deacon Arturo Merriman worked as a project manager for a home builder and developer. But it did not satisfy him. Sharing God’s word “will be an honor to speak to those in the pews and also a challenge I will enjoy,” he said.   

Joseph Nguyen is photographed with members of his family before the Mass of ordination to the transitional diaconate at St. Peter Chanel Church in Roswell. Photo by Johnathon Kelso

Deacon “Joseph” Anh T. Nguyen, 30, grew up in Vietnam in a faith-filled family. Tuan credits his family and their nightly prayers together with being his “first school of faith.” As a new deacon, he hopes with “my humble heart” to serve a community. 

Deacon David J. DesPres, 27, worshipped in the rural parish of St. Augustine Church, Covington. He will be spending months after his ordination in Cedartown at St. Bernadette Church. For him, the Scripture passage “Do not be afraid” has been crucial for him, especially as he considered his vocation.   

The others ordained were Deacon Jared J. Kleinwaechter and Deacon Colin F. Patrick. 

After the ordination Mass, a crowd gathered in the parish hall to receive a blessing from the deacons.   

DiAnn Kiel and Jan Miller visited with Deacon DesPres. They knew him when he spent a year at the St. John Paul II Mission in Gainesville.  

Said Kiel, “I just watched him grow more and more.” She recalled how humble he was and a good listener. Miller worked with him with the English-speaking young adults and those joining the church.  She said he related well with everyone and was well liked by the whole community.   

Archbishop Hartmayer’s statement on the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

ATLANTA–Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., offered the following statement on Dec. 31 following the death of retired Pope Benedict XVI:

“It was with deep sorrow that I received the news of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI this morning. Pope Francis appealed for prayers at the end of his Wednesday audience this past week, saying “I would ask you all for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who in silence is supporting the church. Remember him–he is very ill–asking the Lord to console him in this witness of love for the Church, until the end.” And this morning at 9:34 a.m. on the last day of 2022, our beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict returned to the House of the Father.

The outpouring of grief throughout the world, as well as the many tributes made by religious and civil leaders, bear witness to the respect and esteem in which he was held. A man of deep faith, a scholar of great learning and a pastor imbued with the heart of the Good Shepherd, he was the voice of truth in a world in which the ‘dictatorship of relativism’ has challenged every teaching and doctrine of the faith. Benedict inspired others, not only by his brilliant intellect, but also by his humility and courage as well as his charity and simplicity.

Speaking at a vespers service for New Year’s Eve, Pope Francis stated: ‘With emotion we remember his person, so noble and so kind. And we feel so much gratitude in our hearts: gratitude to God for having given him to the Church and to the world, gratitude to him for all the good he has done, and above all for his witness of faith and of prayer, especially in these last years of his retired life … Only God knows the value and strength of his intercession, of his sacrifices offered for the good of the Church.’

While the world has lost a great voice of truth and the Catholic Church, a beloved pastor, we thank God for the gift of the life and ministry of this ‘humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.’ As Pope Emeritus Benedict prayed for the church throughout his life, and especially during his years in retirement, he will continue to do so from the House of the Father. I am humbled and especially grateful to him for appointing me as Bishop of Savannah on July 19, 2011.  I remember fondly meeting him on different occasions such as the ad limina visits. His humility and sincerity were just a couple of the qualities that he exemplified.

Well done, good and faithful servant! May Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI rest in peace and may his memory be eternal.

A Requiem Mass for the repose of the soul of the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will be celebrated at the Cathedral of Christ the King in the coming days.”