Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory Installed as Seventh Archbishop of Washington
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory was installed today as the seventh Archbishop of Washington. Archbishop Gregory, who previously served as the archbishop of Atlanta was named by Pope Francis in April to succeed Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who served as Washington’s archbishop from June 2006 to October 2018.
More than 3,000 people filled the basilica for a joyful Mass celebrated in the presence of eight cardinals, over fifty bishops, three hundred priests and nearly a hundred deacons. At the beginning of the Mass, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States read the Apostolic Mandate, the decree from the Holy Father that appoints Archbishop Gregory to the new seat of the Archdiocese of Washington, and asked Archbishop Gregory if he accepts his new assignment. After accepting, the archbishop was escorted to the throne (the liturgical chair used by the archbishop for Mass) by Cardinal Wuerl and Archbishop Pierre. The nuncio then presented him with the crosier, which signified the moment that Archbishop Gregory became the seventh archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Washington.
As he began his homily, Archbishop Gregory shared his joy as he begins shepherding the flock of the faithful of Washington. “I arrive at this almost indescribably humbling moment in my life and ministry filled with deep gratitude, immeasurable joy and unwavering confidence that the Risen Lord who has guided my every voyage will remain beside me as I begin my service to the people of God in the Archdiocese of Washington as a fellow believer, friend, and pastor,” he said.
He expressed his gratitude to Pope Francis, and pledged his loyalty, respect, and fraternal affection to him, and assured the Holy Father of his prayers for him, and called on the faithful to do the same. He also thanked the laity, religious and clergy of the Archdiocese of Washington, saying they had provided an “affectionate and embarrassingly gracious welcome” to him and conveyed that he looked forward to deepening his closeness with, and love for them.
“We stand at a defining moment for this local faith community – our hearts filled with hope and eagerness,” he said. “The storied history of this great Archdiocese is a gift to the Church in the United States. Our recent sorrow and shame do not define us; rather, they serve to chasten and strengthen us to face tomorrow with spirits undeterred. Together, we implore the Holy Spirit to fortify us with the grace, perseverance and determination that only Christ Himself is able to provide as a gift of His Presence, Peace and Promise.”
The archbishop spoke of the Gospel from the book of Mark, when Christ calms the storm as it buffets the boat of his fearful disciples. “Life on the sea continues to serve as a worthy metaphor for us – as people of faith,” he said. “We have been tossed about by an unusually turbulent moment in our own faith journeys recently and for far too long. Waves of unsettling revelations have caused even the heartiest among us to grow fearful and perhaps even, at times, to want to panic. We too, like those frightened disciples tossed about by the wind and the waves have cried out, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ Jesus’ questions to them are also meant for us: ‘Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?’”
Like the disciples, Archbishop Gregory said, Jesus is in the boat with us during both the calm and the storm. And He beckons us, he said, to trust Him “to bring us back safely to shore and even be bolstered by the trials that we have endured.”
“If indeed we are to trust more in Him and less in ourselves, we must admit our own failures,” he said. “We clerics and hierarchs have irrefutably been the source of this current tempest. The entire Church must recall that we all belong to Christ first and foremost.”
As he concluded his homily, the archbishop acknowledged his gratitude and hope — virtues that he discovered in the lives of those who are close to him, remembering his late parents and grandmother. He also acknowledged his two sisters, Elaine and Claudia who were in attendance at the Mass, saying, “A brother could not have better or more loving sisters than do I.” The archbishop was met with applause from the congregation as he acknowledged his Chicago roots, and the Diocese of Belleville, and he gave a heartwarming tribute to the people of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, assuring them, “there will never be a day when Georgia isn’t on my mind,” a phrase that drew loud applause and cheers.
“When Jesus Christ, with a phrase, in a breath, finally leads us out of this storm of our own making, may He not feel compelled to admonish us for exhibiting a collective lack of confidence in Him,” he said, “but rather to be proud of the undaunted, uncompromising faith that we never lost, for the gospel makes it clear – and I believe, and you believe – that ‘the One whom even wind and sea obey has never left our side!’”
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.
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