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.”

The Most Reverend Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv. Statement regarding 11 Circuit Court ruling regarding Georgia abortion

ATLANTA–On Wednesday, July 20, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision, and said Georgia’s “heartbeat law” should be permitted to take effect. It bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is about six weeks into a pregnancy.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr filed notice June 24 in the 11th Circuit requesting the reversal, following the Supreme Court overturning of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in 1973. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization June 24 emphasized that there is no constitutional right to abortion in the United States.

Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., offered a statement July 20 upon learning of the appeals court ruling:

“We are grateful for the ruling from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding Georgia’s so-called heartbeat law. As I have said before, we are called to put our prayer and action into helping women and their babies. I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who works in pro-life ministries here in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Your work is love in action. You are helping to build stronger communities and supporting the most vulnerable among us. Whether you are hosting a baby shower, donating your time or talent to accompany a woman through a crisis pregnancy or offering any other kind of support, you are part of a critical ministry for the church today. Thank you for your devotion and may God bless your work.”

The Georgia law makes exceptions to save the life of the mother and in the case of rape and incest if a police report is filed. It also makes exceptions to allow abortions when a fetus has serious medical issues.

Archbishop Hartmayer offers statement following Dobbs ruling

ATLANTA—Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., released the following statement regarding today’s Supreme Court decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization:

“We rejoice today that the Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health will uphold some protection for unborn babies, their vulnerable mothers and fathers and the communities where abortion tears families apart, however, there is still work to be done. I applaud today’s ruling and urge further action to promote pro-life causes.

No matter how the court ruled today, we will never stop working to protect women and their babies. Whether or not abortion is legal, we want women to know that we are here to support you, to accompany you and to love you and your babies. This support goes beyond the sidewalk outside the clinic. It goes beyond the delivery room and it goes beyond those first days after a baby is born.

The Archdiocese of Atlanta has a number of programs to support pregnant and parenting families. If you need help, we hope you will contact one of these groups.

As we now face months of uncertainty and confusion over how the court’s decision will be applied, we ask all people to pray and act in a way that will build a greater respect for life. While politicians and judges wrestle with words, benchmarks and legal challenges, let us redouble our efforts to help pregnant women, expectant fathers and families so that they can choose life and thrive.

Laws alone cannot establish a culture of life in our nation. Catholics and people of goodwill must dedicate ourselves to this work. All human life is sacred. No civil law can counter this truth.

We also ask you to respond with love and in peace to those who wish to debate. There has been so much violence in this country in the last few months. We cannot counter violence with violence. If we are a pro-life people, this should show in how we act in all situations, including ones we are passionate about.

We urge you to contact your state representatives and ask for laws that protect babies and their mothers, to support pro-life and parenting ministries with your time, talent and treasure and to dedicate yourselves to prayer for mothers and babies in crisis.”

Archbishop Hartmayer offers statement in wake of Texas school shooting

ATLANTA—Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., offers the following words to the faithful in the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24:

“Last week, I offered a statement of grief and support to those impacted by shootings in Buffalo, New York and Laguna Woods, California. I am not sure I even have words today. The epidemic of violence and hate in this country is unfathomable. I do not think we can make sense of another mass shooting, and yet, we face a scene of slaughter at an elementary school in Texas.

Many of you are asking ‘my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

I am praying today for the dead; for the grieving; for the lonely and angry and lost.

If I find any comfort right now, it is in knowing we can trust our God who loves us. A God who wants the best for us. A God who told us, ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ If you want to do something, show your love for someone today. Chose to offer light in a dark time. Love one another as God has loved you.”

The Georgia Bulletin


This week in what is termed by Chief Justice John Roberts of the United States Supreme Court, an egregious breach of trust, a preliminary document on the court’s ruling on an abortion issue was leaked to the press. If the outcome from the preliminary document remains the same, it will overturn the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the United States. While this might be seen as a tremendous victory for the Pro-Life movement, it also potentially brings greater division in our civil society. It is interesting to note that pro-choice advocates have failed to recognize the irresponsible act of leaking this preliminary document to the public.  It is a complete disgrace on the individual or individuals who have broken their respect of office and the justices.

            Certainly, as Catholics, we are pro-life and have continued for almost fifty years to endorse overturning this tragic ruling.  The potential ruling will not make abortion illegal, but rather, will turn these decisions over to the states, an idea which even a previous pro-choice justice termed the proper ruling which should have happened with the original decision. As Catholics, we must continue to endorse respect for the dignity of life in all forms, certainly abortion, but which also, includes rescinding the death penalty, rescinding assisted suicide, standing in opposition to euthanasia and showing respect and dignity to all persons regardless of race, country of origin or religion.

            The outpouring of anger and hateful remarks against those who are pro-life, including against the Church, by pro-choice advocates is unacceptable and an offense against human dignity and freedom of religion guaranteed in the Constitution.  Equally offensive would be those who claim to be pro-life and yet endorse similar hateful words and tactics. As Catholics, we are called to promote peace and justice, dignity, and respect to all persons, even those whose views may be contrary to ours.  I pray that our focus on the issue of abortion does not cause us to be blinded by the plight of so many other injustices around us.  Archbishop Hartmayer issued a statement asking us to consider how we as Catholics can work to endorse respect of life in our various ministries and as Catholics. May we strive to advance peace and harmony in society. We must also pray for our political leaders, some of whom claim to be Catholics, yet reject the Church’s teaching on respect of life in the womb. Indeed, they need our prayers and to be reminded of the faith which they profess, a faith which is incompatible with taking of innocent life in the womb.  You cannot be Catholic and pro-choice. May the Lord keep us in his hand as we fight this terrible evil in society.

Pope Francis has asked bishops around the world to join him on March 25 in consecrating Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

“Pope Francis has invited the bishops of the whole world, along with their priests, to join him in the prayer for peace and in the consecration and entrustment of Russia and of Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”. A Mass will take place on Friday, March 25th at noon at the MisionCatolica San Juan Pablo II 2410 S Smith Rd SW, Gainesville, Ga. 30504

Transformed in Christ

Archbishop’s Annual Appeal 2022

A message from Archbishop Hartmayer

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Peace and all good things! Our most basic mission in life is to become more like Jesus. I chose the theme of this year’s annual appeal to invite you to make a spiritual resolution to seek this transformation in your life through a renewed understanding of and devotion to Christ’s real Presence in the Eucharist.

The words of Pope Saint John Paul II remind us that: “If we are to experience the Eucharist as the ‘source and summit of all Christian life,’ then we must celebrate it with faith, receive it with reverence and allow it to transform our minds and hearts through the prayer of adoration. Only by deepening our Eucharistic communion with the Lord through personal prayer can we discover what He asks of us in daily life.” This transformation is witnessed in our actions as we love like He did and do His will, serving others.Support the Appeal

The Archbishop’s Annual Appeal is a major source of funding for all the work of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, including our many vital ministries, outreach, education and formation programs…programs, such as:

Each of us is called to be Transformed in Christ by renewing and deepening our encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist through the Eucharistic Renewal initiative and our Eucharistic Congress.

Our families are Transformed in Christ through the development of resources for family-based religious education programs.

Our Church is Transformed in Christ through the formation of 47 seminarians and 44 candidates to the diaconate who are preparing to serve our local Church.

Our communities and the world are Transformed in Christ through the Laudato Si’ care for creation initiative as we take care of that with which God has entrusted us.

Please prayerfully consider a gift to this year’s appeal. Beyond what a single parish can provide, your generous gift to the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal allows us to continue our work building strong parishes with intentional disciples and funding archdiocese-wide initiatives that reach all the faithful in north and central Georgia, that we may be Transformed in Christ.

Thank you in advance for your thoughtful action and support of our community.

Gratefully yours in Christ,

Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv
Archbishop of Atlanta

Synod 2021 2022

“…the purpose of this Synod, and therefore of this consultation, is not to produce documents, but to ‘plant dreams, draw forth prophesies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands’” (Preparatory Document, 32).

Prayer-Centered Listening Sessions – Resources for Parish, School and Group Leaders

What is a Synod?

In the first millennium, ‘journeying together’—that is, practicing synodality—was the ordinary way in which the Church, understood as ‘People united in the unity of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,’ acted” (Preparatory Document, 11). When there was disagreement and division in the early Church, bishops gathered to listen and discern the path forward. These were the first synods which developed at all levels of the Church—local, regional, and universal. St. John Chrysostom said that “Church and Synod are synonymous.” (Preparatory Document, 11).