Discover the Archdiocese of Atlanta

The Archdiocese of Atlanta is an archdiocese of the Catholic Church in the U.S. state of Georgia.  Its ecclesiastical territory comprises Georgia's northern counties, including the capital of Atlanta.  It is led by a prelate archbishop, currently Wilton D. Gregory, who is also pastor of the mother church, the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta.  The Cathedral is the metropolitan see of the Catholic Ecclesiastical Province of Atlanta, which covers Georgia,  South Carolina, and North Carolina. As of 2014, there were 100 parishes and missions in the Archdiocese.  There were 900,000 registered Catholics in the Archdiocese as of 2010.


The former Diocese of Atlanta was established by a division of the Diocese of Savannah-Atlanta on July 2, 1956.  At that time, there were also two designated co-cathedrals, including St. John the Baptist in Savannah and Christ the King in Atlanta.  The Diocese of Savannah-Atlanta was originated through the Diocese of CharlestonSouth Carolina;  and prior to that, the Archdiocese of BaltimoreMaryland.  Catholic settlement began in Georgia in the 1700s,  with the establishment of a Catholic mission in Georgia by Catholic settlers who had moved to Georgia from Baltimore.  The Diocese of Atlanta was elevated to the rank of archdiocese on February 10, 1962.

Selected leadership history

In 1966, the Archdiocese was home to the youngest bishop in the nation, Joseph Bernardin. Ordained an auxiliary bishop  at the age of 38, Bernardin  later became Archbishop of Cincinnati and ultimately the Archbishop of Chicago and cardinal.
In 1988, Eugene Antonio Marino  was named Archbishop of Atlanta,  becoming the firstAfrican American archbishop in the United States.  He resigned from his position two years later after his affair - termed an "inappropriate relationship"  by the Archdiocese - with a lay minister became public knowledge. After a period of reflection and renewal,  he continued on in religious service in New York State until his death.
In December 2004, Pope John Paul II appointed Wilton Gregory as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta,  and he was installed in January 2005.
In July 2009, Pope Benedict XVI, recognizing Archbishop Gregory's need for assistance in governing the burgeoning archdiocese, named Monsignor Luis Rafael Zarama as the second Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta.  In April 2013, Monsignor David Talley was installed as an additional Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta.


Cathedral of Christ the King in Buckhead
Metro Atlanta contains a large, and rapidly growing, Roman Catholic population. The number of Catholics grew from 292,300 members in 1998 to 900,000 members in 2010, an increase of 207 percent.  The population is estimated by the USCCB to top 1 million by 2011, with an overall increase of 2,500 people.  The increase is fueled by Catholics moving to Atlanta from other parts of the U.S. and the world, and from newcomers to the church.  About 11 percent of all metropolitan Atlanta residents are Catholic.


In 2014, the Archdiocese included 100 parishes and missions.  In 2007, the Archdiocese comprised 84 parishes,  serving the following northern Georgia counties:


Sacred Heart, located in Peachtree Center



Auxiliary Bishops

Religious orders serving the Archdiocese

There are many religious orders of women and men serving in the Archdiocese of Atlanta.  Orders currently represented in the Archdiocese are included in the lists to follow.

Women's orders

Men's orders


The Archdiocese operates eighteen elementary and high schools.  Additionally, there are six independent Catholic schools (as noted in the lists to follow) located in the Atlanta metropolitan area.  While those six schools are independent, they fall within the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese. The population of student enrollment in all of the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese in 2011-2012 was approximately 12,000.  The superintendent of the schools in the Archdiocese is currently Diane Starkovich.

High schools

Elementary schools

About the Archdiocese of Atlanta
The Archdiocese of Atlanta was created on February 21, 1962, from the Diocese of Atlanta which was established on July 2, 1956.
The archdiocese encompasses 21,445 square miles in north Georgia. It includes the 69 counties north of and including the following counties: Lincoln, McDuffie, Warren, Hancock, Baldwin, Putnam, Jasper, Monroe, Upson, Meriwether and Troup. See the list and map.
The Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory, S.L.D. is the Archbishop of Atlanta.

Mission Statement:

We, the faithful of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, are a people of prayer, love and joy who are dedicated to the salvation of all. As disciples and believers in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we proclaim the good news and grow in faith, hope, love, and service to others. We are unified in our commitment to sacramental life, pastoral care, and life-long formation in our Roman Catholic faith. We express our love through evangelization, fellowship, Catholic education, social services and charity in the full pursuit of effective discipleship.

Contacting the Archdiocese of Atlanta

For communications with the archdiocese please write, phone or fax:
Mailing address:
Archdiocese of Atlanta
2401 Lake Park Drive S.E.
Smyrna, Georgia 30080

History of the Archdiocese of Atlanta

Mission Statement

We, the faithful of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, are a people of prayer, love and joy who are dedicated to the salvation of all. As disciples and believers in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we proclaim the good news and grow in faith, hope, love, and service to others. We are unified in our commitment to sacramental life, pastoral care, and life-long formation in our Roman Catholic faith. We express our love through evangelization, fellowship, Catholic education, social services and charity in the full pursuit of effective discipleship.
Bishop and Archbishops of the Archdiocese of Atlanta | Province of Atlanta | Parishes | Statistics |

The Catholic Church in Georgia

The Catholic population in North Georgia can trace its beginnings to a little mission in Locust Grove where a small group of faithful from Charles County, Maryland began worshipping sometime between 1790 and 1792. Ever since they built their first log cabin church in 1800, eight years before the Archdiocese of Baltimore was even established, the Catholic population has experienced steady growth. By 1824 the church was referred to as the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and in 1826 was incorporated by an act of the Georgia General Assembly. It was in 1850 that Catholics in Georgia and parts of Florida became a new diocese, the Diocese of Savannah. By the time of the Civil War, there were 4,000 Catholics in Georgia alone, with parishes in Atlanta, Savannah, Macon, Columbus and Locust Grove.
After the war, along with the growth of the city of Atlanta, came a new growth in the Catholic population. The first Catholic church in Atlanta, the Immaculate Conception, built in 1848, was used as a hospital during the Civil War. Immaculate Conception’s present church was built between 1869 and 1880. In 1954 the church became a Shrine and later, in 1984, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish was next established in 1880 when Atlanta only had 37,409 souls. Originally it was known as Saints Peter and Paul until 1898. It was also in the year of 1880 that the Sisters of Mercy opened an infirmary on Baker Street which later became Saint Joseph Hospital. Saint Anthony Parish was established in 1903, adding a school in 1912, the same year that Our Lady of Lourdes Parish was formed.

The Diocese of Savannah-Atlanta

In 1936, the Diocese of Savannah-Atlanta was established and the Cathedral of Christ the King on Peachtree Street was erected. Bishop Gerald P. O'Hara (b.1895-d.1963), appointed Bishop of Savannah in 1935, was the last Bishop to serve the faithful of the entire state of Georgia.

The Diocese of Atlanta

The Diocese of Atlanta was established in 1956 when the northern 71 counties of Georgia were separated from the Diocese of Savannah and assigned to the new diocese giving the state two dioceses. The number was later reduced to 69 when two counties were returned to the jurisdiction of the Savannah Diocese. At the time, the Diocese of Atlanta, which covered 23,000 square miles, numbered 23,600 Catholics in 23 parishes and 12 missions. The total population in the region totaled 1,800,000. The first Bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta was Francis E. Hyland (1901 - 1968), who had first served as Auxiliary Bishop of Savannah since 1949. He began his service to the new diocese as the city of Atlanta and the Catholic population of the area was experiencing rapid growth. Bishop Hyland resigned in 1961.

The Archdiocese of Atlanta

On February 21, 1962 the Diocese of Atlanta was elevated to the status of Archdiocese, becoming the center of an Ecclesiastical Province which included the states of Georgia, North and South Carolina and Florida.  (Florida was detached in 1969 to become the Province of Miami). That year the Catholic population of the diocese numbered 32,000 out of a total population of 2,152,000. When the Diocese of Atlanta became the Archdiocese of Atlanta, the ecclesiastical Province of Atlanta came into being as well.

The Archbishops

Paul J. Hallinan (b. 1911, d. 1968), Bishop of Charleston, S.C., was named the first Archbishop of Atlanta. During the last two years of his life, Archbishop Hallinan was assisted by Auxiliary Bishop Joseph L. Bernardin, who subsequently became Cardinal-Archbishop of Chicago.
Since Archbishop Hallinan’s reign, the Archdiocese has been served by five succeeding archbishops. Thomas A. Donnellan (b.1914, d.1987) was Archbishop from 1968 until his death. Eugene A. Marino (b.1934, d.2000), the first black Archbishop in the United States, served from 1988 to 1990. James P. Lyke (b.1939, d.1992) was installed as Archbishop in 1991 and died the following year. John Francis Donoghue (b.1928, d.2011) was appointed the fifth Archbishop of Atlanta in 1993 and served until his retirement in 2004.
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, S.L.D. (b. 1947) was appointed sixth Archbishop of Atlanta on December 9, 2004 and was installed on January 17, 2005. He was ordained a Catholic priest at the Archdiocese of Chicago on May 9, 1973. He was then ordained a Bishop in 1983. Bishop Gregory was installed as the Seventh Bishop of Belleville in 1994, following ten years as Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago. In 2001, Bishop Gregory was elected President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, following three years as Vice President under Bishop Joseph Fiorenza of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston.

The Archdiocese Today

Since the beginning of Archbishop Gregory's tenure in Atlanta, eight additional parishes have been organized, as well as five missions, for a total of 101 parishes and missions (including one station and a basilica), while the Catholic population of the Archdiocese has risen to over 1,000,000. The oldest operating parish in the archdiocese, originally established as a mission in 1845, is Saint Joseph in Washington, Georgia. The oldest Catholic church still standing is Sacred Heart in Milledgeville, Georgia, which was built in 1874. 
In 2009, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, named the Most Reverend Luis Rafael Zarama of Pasto, Colombia, as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. 

The Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory, S.L.D. Metropolitan Archbishop of Atlanta
"We Are The Lord's"

Biographical Dates


December 7, 1947

Ordained priest:

May 9, 1973

Ordained bishop:

December 13, 1983

Installed as Archbishop of Atlanta:

January 17, 2005

Born December 7, 1947, in Chicago to Wilton Sr. and Ethel Duncan Gregory, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory attended St. Carthage Grammar School, where he converted to Catholicism. He attended Quigley Preparatory Seminary South, Niles College (now St. Joseph's College Seminary) of Loyola University and St. Mary of the Lake Seminary.
He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago on May 9, 1973. Three years after his ordination he began graduate studies at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute (Sant' Anselmo) in Rome. There he earned his doctorate in sacred liturgy in 1980.
After having served as an associate pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Glenview, IL as a member of the faculty of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein and as a master of ceremonies to Cardinals John Cody and Joseph Bernardin, he was ordained an auxiliary bishop of Chicago on December 13, 1983. On February 10, 1994, he was installed as the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Belleville, IL where he served for the next eleven years.
On December 9, 2004, Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop Gregory as the sixth archbishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. He was installed on January 17, 2005. Archbishop Gregory has also contributed a leading role in the U.S. church. In November 2001, he was elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops following three years as vice president under Bishop Joseph Fiorenza of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston. During his tenure in office, the crisis of sex abuse by Catholic clergy escalated, and under his leadership, the bishops implemented the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People."
He served on the NCCB Executive and Administrative Committees, the Administrative Board, the Committee on Doctrine and the U.S. Catholic Conference Committee on International Policy. He previously served as the chairman of the Bishops' Committees on Personnel and the Third Millennium/Jubilee Year 2000 from 1998-2001, and Liturgy from 1991-93.
Archbishop Gregory has written extensively on church issues, including pastoral statements on the death penalty and euthanasia/physician-assisted suicide, and has published numerous articles on the subject of liturgy, particularly in the African-American community.
Archbishop Gregory has been awarded nine honorary doctoral degrees.  He received the Great Preacher Award from Saint Louis University in 2002; Doctorate of Humanities from Lewis University in Romeoville, IL in 2002-2003; Sword of Loyola from Loyola University of Chicago in 2004; Doctorate of Humane Letters from Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL in 2005; Doctorate of Humane Letters from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH; Doctorate of Humane Letters from McKendree College in Lebanon, IL; Doctorate of Humanities from Fontbonne University in St. Louis, MO; Honorary Law Degree from Notre Dame University in 2012; and the Chicago Catholic Theological Union Honorary Doctorate from Saint Louis University in 2013.
In 2006, he joined an illustrious group of preachers with his induction into the Martin Luther King Board of Preachers at Morehouse College, Atlanta. At the National Pastoral Life Center in Washington, D.C., in June 2006, Archbishop Gregory was honored with the Cardinal Bernardin Award given by the Catholic Common Ground Initiative.


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