Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory Celebrates His First Sunday Mass as Archbishop of Washington
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory celebrated his first Sunday Mass as the Archbishop of Washington today. At the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle in Washington, the archbishop formally took possession of the cathedral which is the “Mother Church” of the archdiocese and the site of the “cathedra,” the bishop’s chair that represents his teaching authority. At the start of the Mass, Archbishop Gregory remained outside, and as is customary for a bishop taking possession of his cathedral, knocked on the door, which was then opened for him to enter. He was received by Monsignor Ronald Jameson, the rector of Saint Matthew’s, and upon entering the cathedral, the archbishop venerated a crucifix, then sprinkled holy water before processing down the aisle for Mass.
The archbishop was joined by the Most Reverend Charles G. Palmer-Buckle, the archbishop of Cape Coast (Ghana), and the auxiliary bishops for the archdiocese of Washington, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, Bishop Roy E. Campbell, Jr., and Bishop Michael W. Fisher, as well as the cathedral’s priests for the celebration of Mass.
Archbishop Gregory began his homily by expressing joy as he begins his service as archbishop of Washington. “There is excitement in this moment for me and I pray a spirit of hope for all of you, but there is also a realistic sense as well. We are beginning something new – we are establishing a new friendship and a new relationship that we all pray will be fruitful and filled with joy. Together we will face our future and we pray this morning that it will indeed be a future blessed by God Himself.”
Referencing the Gospel reading for the day, the archbishop said, as Jesus prepared to leave the disciples, they were frightened as to what might happen to them. “They were frightened to consider their future which at first led them to sequester themselves in that upper room until the Holy Spirit came to bestow on them the gifts of courage and boldness to encounter the world with the Gospel of Christ. We find ourselves in a similar situation all too frequently.”
In the same way that the disciples were given the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost when they turned into bold witnesses, the archbishop said we need to be reminded of the Lord’s promise to send us the help that we need to face the challenges that will lie ahead. “Perhaps the ministry most identified with any bishop is the bestowal of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation. In a sense, I hope to confirm you in the Spirit once again – and to rediscover that very same Spirit in my own life,” said Archbishop Gregory.
“As knocked on the door of Saint Matthew’s Cathedral, I sought entry not into a building, but into the lives of the people of the Church. I pray that you will let me in so that together we can strengthen one another, encourage one another, and together wait in hope for the return of the One we seek most of all,” he said as he concluded his homily. His warm sentiments drew applause from the faithful in the pews.
After the Mass, the archbishop took time to greet the faithful as they exited the cathedral. Archbishop Gregory was installed on Tuesday (May 21) as the seventh Archbishop of Washington. He previously served as the archbishop of Atlanta and was named by Pope Francis in April to succeed Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who served as Washington’s archbishop from June 2006 to October 2018.
Founded in 1939, the Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 655,000 Catholics who worship in 139 parishes located in Washington, D.C., and the five Maryland counties of Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s. Each year, the 93 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese educate nearly 27,000 students. The largest non-public social service organization in the region, the archdiocese and its affiliated agencies, including Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington and Victory Housing, provide shelter, food, counseling, medical care, legal assistance, employment training and more to more than 143,000 people each year.
# # #