The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta  

Bishops of the Archdiocese of Atlanta

Note: Click on the name of the bishop for more information.

Most Rev. Wilton D. Gregory

Sixth Archbishop of Atlanta (2005 - )

Most Rev. Luis R. Zarama

Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta (2009- )

Most. Rev. David P. Talley

Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta (2013- )

Most Rev. John F. Donoghue

Fifth Archbishop of Atlanta (1993 - 2004)

Most Rev. James P. Lyke

Fourth Archbishop of Atlanta (1991 - 1992)

Most Rev. Eugene A. Marino

Third Archbishop of Atlanta (1988 - 1990)

Most Rev. Thomas A. Donnellan

Second Archbishop of Atlanta (1968 - 1987)

Most Rev. Joseph Louis Bernardin

Auxiliary Bishop (Mar 9, 1966 to Apr 5,1968)

Most Rev. Paul J. Hallinan

First Archbishop of Atlanta (1962 - 1968)

Most Rev. Francis E. Hyland

First Bishop of Atlanta (1956 - 1962)

Previous Jurisdiction

Archbishop John F. Donoghue is the first person to welcome Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory as the new archbishop of Atlanta at the 2005 installation. Photo by Michael Alexander, The Georgia Bulletin

During Colonial days the Vicar Apostolic of the London District held jurisdiction over the American colonies. About thirty priests attended the faithful who were found chiefly in Maryland and Pennsylvania, hence we find the beginnings of ecclesiastical organization in Catholic Maryland.

The last Vicar-Apostolic of the London District before the American Revolution was Dr. Richard Challoner, Bishop of Debra who was consecrated January 29, 1741. He died in January, 1781. His coadjutor, Right Rev. James Talbot, consecrated Bishop of Birtha, August 24, 1759, was actively in charge of the spiritual welfare of the Catholics in the Colonies at the time of the Revolution. When the Colonies declared their independence of England communication between the London Vicariate and the Catholic priests and people of the thirteen colonies ceased.

At the solicitation of the American clergy, after peace had succeeded war, Pope Pius VI appointed Father John Carroll, a missionary priest and a native of Maryland, Prefect-Apostolic on July 23, 1785. His jurisdiction as a Prefect-Apostolic did not include the whole of the United States. Indian Missions in Maine, New York and the present state of Ohio, and settlements in the present states of Michigan, Indiana and Illinois were under the charge of the Bishop of Quebec. Florida, a part of which state was in later years included in the Diocese of Savannah was not at that time a part of the United States. It was under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Santiago de Cuba.

The clergy of the new Republic, about thirty in number, assembled at White Marsh under date of March 12, 1788, to send a petition to the Holy Father asking for the appointment of a Bishop for the new republic and suggesting Baltimore as the See. The Holy Father received the petition and granted that the clergy propose the priest for this exalted dignity, the first bishop for the new republics. Father John Carroll received 24 of the 26 votes. Pope Pius VI, on November 6, 1789, erected the See of Baltimore and appointed Father John Carroll the first Bishop. He was consecrated bishop in the chapel of Lulworth Castle, England, on August 15, 1790.

The See of Baltimore embraced the territory of the new republic, the church grew rapidly, new Sees were erected. The Catholics in the Southern states solicited the appointment of a bishop. The Diocese of Charleston, embracing North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, was erected June 12, 1820. The first Bishop of Charleston was the Right Rev. John England. He was consecrated September 21, 1820, in the church of St. Finbar, in the City of Cork, Ireland. The See of Charleston was erected by Pope Pius VII.

The Seventh Provincial Council of Baltimore, during the second private session of the Council on May 8, 1849, at the request of Bishop Reynolds, second Bishop of Charleston, petitioned the Holy See to erect the See of Savannah. Pope Pius IX erected the Diocese of Savannah. The papal document, Exigit Pastorale Munus, erecting the See of Savannah, is dated July 19, 1850. Right Rev. Francis Xavier Gartland, the first Bishop of Savannah, was consecrated on September 10, 1850, in Philadelphia. The Diocese of Savannah then comprised the State of Georgia and Florida east of the Apalachicola River. It covered an area of about 90,000 square miles. In 1857 the Holy See severed Florida from the Savannah jurisdiction. The See of Savannah embracing the State of Georgia.

Under date of January 5, 1937, the Holy See changed the name of the title of the See to the Diocese of Savannah-Atlanta. This decree was solemnly promulgated by Most Rev. Michael J. Curley, Archbishop of Baltimore, on the night of April 15, 1937, in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Savannah, Georgia. Most Rev. Gerald Patrick O'Hara, D. D., J., U. D., became the first bishop of the Diocese of Savannah-Atlanta. Before his appointment as Bishop of Savannah, he served as auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia. He was consecrated Titular Bishop of Heliopolis on May 20, 1929, and was installed as Bishop of Savannah on January 15, 1936. The Savannah-Atlanta Diocese comprised the same territory as the recent Savannah Diocese, the State of Georgia.

In 1956 the Diocese of Atlanta was established, and in 1962 it was raised to the status of Archdiocese.

When Terminus, the precursor to the city of Atlanta, was first definitely located in 1837 it was in the diocese of Charleston, S.C. This See, established July 12, 1820, included South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. Right Reverend John England, the first Bishop of Charleston, was still the shepherd of the Catholics who were scattered through this vast territory. Bishop England died April 11, 1842, and was succeeded by Right Reverend Ignatius A. Reynolds, who was Bishop of Charleston until his death on March 9, 1855. In 1839, Bishop England stated there were but eleven priests in Georgia. There is no record that Bishop England was ever in our city. But Bishop Reynolds was in Atlanta and dedicated the first Immaculate Conception Church. On February 22, 1848, he administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to a class of twelve.

The new Diocese of Savannah was created in 1850 by Pius IX and its first bishop, Rt. Rev. F. X. Gartland, was consecrated on September 10, 1850. Atlanta then became a part of the new See of Savannah. Bishop Gartland was in Atlanta in June, 1854. He confirmed a class of nineteen on June 28, 1854. Immediately afterwards he returned to Savannah where an epidemic of yellow fever had broken out and in less than three months he had succumbed to that dread disease while caring for the members of his flock.

The second Bishop of Savannah was the Right Reverend John Barry. When Father Barry was performing noble work in the little town of Atlanta he was pastor of Augusta and the missions attached and he was also Vicar General of the Diocese of Charleston. After the creation of the new See of Savannah he was made its Vicar General in 1853. After the death of Bishop Gartland he was administrator of the diocese and on August 2, 1857, was consecrated Bishop of Savannah. Bishop Barry was in Atlanta in 1858, and administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to a class in the first Immaculate conception Church, which he did much to organize and which he served as a missionary. He only lived two years after his consecration as bishop. He died November 21, 1859.

Before the completion of the new church three other bishops were appointed to the See of Savannah. Right Reverend Augustus Verot served from 1861 to 1870 during the trying period of the war. Right Reverend Ignatius Persico, afterwards cardinal, from 1870 to 1872, and Right Reverend William H. Gross, C. SS. R., who dedicated the present Immaculate Conception Church was consecrated April 27, 1873. He was Bishop of Savannah until 1885.