Titan Times editors interview Atlanta's Archbishop
During Archbishop Wilton D. Gregoryís first Mass at Blessed Trinity, two editors of The Titan Times, Blessed Trinityís student newspaper, asked the archbishop if they could interview him at a later date and he cordially accepted. The archbishop even suggested a quick meal at the Varsity, but times and schedules did not permit a visit to the Atlanta eatery. In April, seniors Tyler Hale and Tim Dougherty, this yearís 2005-06 co-editors, sat down with Archbishop Gregory for an interview.
Tyler: How are you doing settling in?
Archbishop Gregory: Pretty well.
Tyler: Getting used to the new environment?
Archbishop Gregory: Yes, right, I think you guys know I grew up in Chicago, so Iím used to big city living. But, for the last 11 years, I was the bishop of a diocese that was mostly rural. Itís a lot different, but because of the people I love it.
Tim: Southern hospitality?
Archbishop Gregory: Southern hospitality, but so many other folks are living here from elsewhere; look how many of your classmates have grown up in another part of the country and moved here because their families got transferred or dad took another job. So there are a lot of transplants here. Itís hard to find a native born Atlantan, yes.
Tyler: Hereís one.
Archbishop Gregory: Oh, really?
Tyler: Yeah, Iíve lived here all my life.
Archbishop Gregory: But Mom and Dad came from elsewhere, right?
Tyler: Yeah, my Momís from New Jersey.
Tim: Going back to Chicago, growing up as a teen, did you grow up Catholic?
Archbishop Gregory: No well, I entered the Catholic church when I was 12 in the sixth grade, I wasnít a cradle catholic. But I was pretty young when I entered the church, I entered because I was thinking about becoming a priest.
Tyler: Really? That doesnít happen too often.
Archbishop Gregory: Not too often. You guys ever think about becoming priests?
Tim: At times.
Tyler: Yeah actually.
Archbishop Gregory: Good, Iím not signing contracts here. Iím not going to go through the files and say ďsign here.Ē
Tim: And you went to a Catholic high school?
Archbishop Gregory: I went to a seminary high school, Quigley Prep Seminary South, it was a high school/day school, so it wasnít a boarding school, I went to school every day just like you guys and came home at night.
Tyler: Did that give you some direction in your high school?
Archbishop Gregory: The prep seminary, when I went to the seminary back in 1961, thatís long before you guys were on the scene. The prep seminaries were focused on young guys who were thinking about priesthoods and obviously I was between13 and 16 just like you. There were all kinds of things that were going on inside of me. I was growing up, but the seminary was there to kind of help you entertain or pursue what you thought might be a desire to be a priest. It wasnít strong arming, but they kept saying what priests are about, itís kind of like, pre pre-law school, or pre pre-med school. They wouldnít be teaching you how to perform brain surgery at 16, but theyíd be talking about what a doctorís life is like and the challenges that they face, prep stuff.
Tyler: Would you recommend that as a course of action for todayís young people?
Archbishop Gregory: Today?
Archbishop Gregory: Prep seminaries by in large have kind of fallen into disuse. Young guys like you, I think more and more need to be in a regular high school environment. You need to be into sports, school activities like newspaper, debate club. Kind of social service clubs, you need to be doing exactly what you are doing. And maybe vocational work today ought to come to you in the ordinary environment of going to high school, so like Fr. Brian works with the Vianney Club, have you ever heard of that? The Vianney Club is kind of an association of guys who are thinking about becoming priests. They meet once a year, maybe go to a baseball game together, or maybe a retreat together, or even a pep talk, but they all go to regular high schools. It keeps the interest alive because there are all types of things that are attractive to young guys, good things and it would be the vocational program today that just touches base every once and a while. Still thinking about it Tim, still thinking about it Tyler? Just keeps it alive.
Tim: Coming into the new archdiocese, what are you plans, do you view any changes that need to be made?
Archbishop Gregory: Usually a new pastor coming into a parish, the first thing he has to do is get to know the parish. He doesnít come in and say ďwell I am going to change thatĒ and the people say, ďFather, you donít even know us yet.Ē You donít know what needs to be strengthened or changed or modified. So the first part of my ministry is just coming to know the archdiocese. Coming to know you. Let you folks get to know me. So that takes a long time. Just to come to some understanding of the strengths, and the needs and the challenges of the Archdiocese. So Iíve got to be out on the road a lot, meeting with our young people, having Masses here, visiting parishes. It takes a long time.
Tyler: Is there anything youíve really gotten a sense of so far?
Archbishop Gregory: Yes, we have wonderful young people. We really do, but that has been true in every assignment that I have ever had. The young people are really kind of the barometer of how things are going, so when the young people are happy and enthusiastic and energetic, and generally moving in the right direction, thatís a pretty good indicator that things are fine. And our young people are doing well. You guys, the kids at Blessed Trinity, youíre like teenagers everywhere. Youíve got big dreams, you also get into mischief, you get into hot water, thatís growiní up, man, no one makes it out of teenage years unscathed.
Tyler: How do you see young peopleís role in the Church now, and in the future?
Archbishop Gregory: Iíd like you folks to be much more engaged in leadership activities. I think itís more difficult today being a teenager than it was than it was when I teenager because you guys are exposed to a lot of things. I think with communications you know a lot more about life, your challenges are a lot stronger. When I was a teenager the danger of drug abuse was largely thought to be a problem that kids in poor communities had to fight. Now kids in very affluent communities are struggling. You have many more options. You know the whole world is open to you. You come from good families who love you and are behind you. Sometimes itís hard to commit.
Tyler and Tim: Thank you for your time.