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Photo: Father Timothy Gallagher, pastor of St. Bernadette Church in Cedartown, Ga., centre, is joined by Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory 8-year-old Tony Pizano and building committee members for the official groundbreaking of a new parish center. Deacon Jose Orellana is shown at right. (CNS photo/Gibbs Frazeur, Georgia Bulletin)
Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta said, ‘We are all in a growth mode. That’s a good thing’
The Catholic dioceses of the Carolinas and Georgia are experiencing record growth, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta said during a meeting of the U.S. Catholic Church’s Atlanta province.
“We realised that all five of the dioceses represented here have recently opened new chancery offices,” Archbishop Gregory said in an interview with The Catholic Miscellany, newspaper of the Diocese of Charleston.
“We are all in a growth mode. That’s a good thing,” he said during the province’s June meeting in Charleston. “We are spending part of our time here talking about the need to establish new parishes, expand pastoral outreach, and respond to growing numbers both from immigration and those moving here from other parts of the country. We all are sharing in this growth.”
Archbishop Gregory said the leaders realised the scope of growth in their Southern province while touring the Diocese of Charleston’s new pastoral centre, which opened in 2016.
That growth is the opposite of what is happening in some northern US dioceses, where the number of people in the pews is declining in many areas, and parishes and schools are being closed or forced to consolidate.
In addition to the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Charleston, the province includes the Diocese of Savannah, Georgia, and the North Carolina dioceses of Raleigh and Charlotte.
Archbishop Gregory said the prelates spoke about the ongoing impact of immigration in their areas, including how new legislation and the political climate are affecting the immigrant population.
Bishop Guglielmone said increased attention to the immigration question is especially important to dioceses in the province because most of the Hispanic immigrants in the region are Catholic.
“We realize that we have those who are documented and undocumented, and they are all our brothers and sisters,” Bishop Guglielmone said. “We have to see how we can be of assistance to them.”