Atlanta's new archbishop discusses challenges of faith and hope during coronavirus pandemic

It is not the way the 1.2 million Roman Catholics in the Archdiocese of Atlanta expected to celebrate the installation of their new archbishop, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, Most Reverend Gregory John Hartmayer will be inducted in a private ceremony in May.

It is a homecoming, of sorts, for the new archbishop who served as pastor of St. Philip Benizi Church in Jonesboro for 15 years, starting in 1995 before moving to St. John Vianney parish in Lithia Springs to serve as pastor.

SEE ALSO: Pope names Savannah Bishop Hartmayer archbishop of Atlanta

He became the 14th Bishop of Savannah in 2011, appointed by Pope Benedict XVI, where he served until Pope Francis named Most Reverend Hartmayer to serve as Archbishop of Atlanta earlier this year.

He had a chance to speak with FOX 5 Senior Anchor Russ Spencer by Skype from Savannah on Thursday to discuss his new role and its challenges, especially as the coronavirus pandemic begins to peak in Georgia.

Bishop Hartmayer discusses the need to practice social distancing and the challenges of consoling the flock when churches are closed by necessity and how they will remain closed until public health officials give the all-clear.

He succeeds Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, who served as Atlanta’s archbishop from January 2005 to May 2019.

The Archdiocese of Atlanta includes 69 counties in north Georgia with 103 parishes and 18 schools.

SEE ALSO: Archbishop Wilton Gregory discusses moving to Washington, D.C.