The Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory, S.L.D. Metropolitan Archbishop of Atlanta


“We Are The Lord’s”

Biographical Dates:

Born: 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 served in many leading roles 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 1991-1993.

Archbishop Gregory has written extensively on church issues, including pastoral statements on the death penalty, 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 (2002-2003); Sword of Loyola from Loyola University of Chicago (2004); Doctorate of Humane Letters from Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL (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 (2012); and the Chicago Catholic Theological Union Honorary Doctorate from Saint Louis University (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., Archbishop Gregory was honored with the Cardinal Bernardin Award given by the Catholic Common Ground Initiative (2006).

For a list of all articles referencing Archbishop Gregory and his bi-weekly column, “What I Have Seen and Heard” visit the Georgia Bulletin Website.

Coat of Arms

Archbishop Gregory’s Coat of Arms

The impalement of the personal Arms of Archbishop Gregory with those of the Archdiocese of Atlanta was undertaken by Deacon Paul Sullivan of Saunderstown, Rhode Island. The Arms of the Archdiocese of Atlanta were devised by the late William F. J. Ryan, New York, NY, and West Chatham, MA.

Written by: Rev. Mr. Paul J. Sullivan, Permanent Deacon of the Diocese of Providence

Arms impaled. Dexter: Bary wavy of seven Argent and Azure; at the centre point overall an open crown Or and at the honour point a rose of the first with a center of the last. Sinister: Argent, on a cross Gules a cross Sable fimbriated Vert; between to chief dexter a raven Proper, to chief sinister a bear rampant of the third, to base dexter a fleur-de-lis of the second and to base sinister a phoenix Or issuant from flames of the second.

The archiepiscopal heraldic achievement or archbishop’s coat of arms is composed of a shield with its charges (symbols), a motto scroll and the external ornamentation. The shield, which is the central and most important feature of any heraldic device, is described (blazoned) in 12th century terms that are archaic to our modern language, and this description is presented if given by the bearer with the shield being worn on the arm. Thus, where it applies, the terms dexter and sinister are reversed as the device is viewed from the front.

By heraldic tradition the arms of the bishop, who is “first among equals” of an ecclesiastical province, called a “Metropolitan Archbishop,” are joined, impaled, with the arms of his jurisdiction. In this case, these are the arms of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

These arms are composed of a field that is composed of seven alternating silver (white) and blue bars charged with a silver and gold rose and a gold crown.

For years, known as the “Crossroads of the South,” because it served as the hub of transportation in the region, Atlanta was originally known as “ Whitehall .” A succession of names, “Terminus,” in 1843 “Marthasville”, finally came to be “ Atlanta,” indirectly referencing the Atlantic Ocean, signified by the wavy bars of the design, in 1847. Upon this symbolism are an open gold crown to honor the titular of the Cathedral Church , Christ the King and a Cherokee Rose (Rosa Laevigata), a white rose with a golden center, the state flower of Georgia.

For his personal arms, His Excellency, Archbishop Gregory has retained the design that was adopted upon his selection to receive the fullness of Christ’s Priesthood, as a bishop, when he was appointed as an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Chicago and he retained the design during his tenure as Bishop of Belleville.

On a silver (white) field is a cross, of The Faith, that is composed of three colors; black on green on red. These colors are referred to as the African-American colors and by their use, His Excellency, Archbishop Gregory honors the religious and racial heritage that has come to him from his parents, Wilton and Ethel (Duncan) Gregory.

Within the quarters that are formed by the cross are a raven, to honor the Archbishop’s Benedictine education at Sant’ Anselmo (in Rome), and a black bear taken from the arms of His Eminence, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, His Excellency’s principal Episcopal consecrator. Also within the quarters are a red fleur-de-lis taken from the arms of the Mundelein Seminary in Chicago, where Archbishop Gregory was a student and faculty member, and a golden phoenix, coming forth from red flames, to honor Chicago, the city reborn after the famous Chicago fire.

For his motto, Archbishop Gregory continues to use the phrase “We are the Lord’s,” which is taken from St. Paul ’s Epistle to the Romans (Romans 14:8). By the use of this phrase, His Excellency, Archbishop Gregory expresses the deep Christian belief that all that we are and in all that we do, “we are the Lord’s.”

The achievement is completed with the external ornaments which are a gold processional cross that has two cross-members, that is placed in back of and which extends above and below the shield, and the pontifical hat, called the “gallero,” with its ten tassels, in four rows, on either side of the shield, all in green. These are the heraldic insignia of a prelate of the rank of archbishop by instruction of The Holy See of March 31, 1969.

Archbishop Gregory Writings

The following include select writings, press releases, statements, and homilies by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory during his time at the Archdiocese of Atlanta.