Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer will begin his new role following his installation May 6. Photograph by Donnell Suggs

Bishop Gregory John Hartmayer named Archbishop of Atlanta

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Atlanta- The recent deluge of rainy days did not stop Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer OFM, Conv., from taking the podium at the Archdiocese of Atlanta in a good mood Thursday morning. Hartmayer had learned earlier this week that Pope Francis assigned him to become the seventh Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Taking his place behind a microphone in Franciscan garb, and before a room full of assembled media, diocesan members and staff, Hartmayer spoke of both being back home and having to eventually leave his other home in Savannah. "It's tough, I love the people I've been working with and serving in Savannah," he said. "I am humbled by the appointment and grateful for the confidence that Pope Francis has in me."

Hartmayer, who led the Archdiocese of Savannah since July 2011 and will continue to do so for the next two months, joked to much laughter about having recently met the Pope, "It's interesting, we were with him at beginning of this month, he never said a word to me. He could have given me a hint. He's a wonderful, wonderful pope and we are so privileged in our generation at this time in our lives as a Catholic church to have such a leader as Pope Francis."

And moments earlier said of the relationship between Atlanta and Savannah, "I want to remind Atlanta that you came from Savannah. You are our daughter. An elder daughter that has been very successful and has many, many members and we're happy about that." Hartmayer served as the pastor at St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church, Jonesboro before moving to Savannah. "I felt very close to the people of St. Philip Benizi, which is a very diverse community made up of more than 20 nationalities and ethnic groups."

The road back to Atlanta comes after nearly a decade of service in Savannah. Hartmayer spoke of being a Franciscan and of serving the people wherever and whenever he is called. "The vow of poverty is about detachment, and if there's ever a sense or feeling of detachment in my life as a Franciscan it's been to leave the place that I love and that is my feeling now regarding Savannah," said Hartmayer. "I had the same feeling when I left Atlanta eight years ago. That's the poverty of our life, both as religious priests and diocesan priest and bishops, that when you come to know a community and work with people so closely, and you see a community grow in their faith and then God calls you in another direction. It's tough."

Bishop Hartmayer formerly accepted Pope Francis' invitation to serve as the Archbishop of Atlanta and took questions from the media. His installation will take place at St. Peter Chanel Church, Roswell, May 6, TBD. "My last eight years as the bishop of Savannah has also prepared me for this new chapter in my life," said Hartmayer.

"The Diocese of Savannah was a wonderful experience for me. I lived and served the ministers and the people of the diocese as a missionary. As Bishop I will never forget the people of my first diocese and I am bringing those many memories with me when I come here to Atlanta.

He continued, "My time in the Diocese of Savannah has made me a better person, and hopefully a more effective and compassionate priest and bishop. I am so thankful to God for giving me those precious eight years that have blessed my life."

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