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Catholic dioceses in South 'in a growth mode,' says Atlanta archbishop

  • Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory delivers the homily during Mass at the "Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America" July 2 in Orlando, Fla. Leaders from dioceses and various Catholic organizations are gathering for the July 1-4 convocation. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
  • Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer of Savannah, Ga., is seen at St. Catherines Island off the coast of Georgia in this 2013 file photo. (CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)
  • Auxiliary Bishop Luis R. Zarama of Atlanta is seen in the Mexican city of Nogales in this 2014 file photo. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
  • Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone of Charleston, S.C., center, concelebrates a 100th anniversary Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Mission in Walhalla, S.C., with Fathers Gregory West and William Hearne. (CNS photo/Christina Lee Knauss, The Catholic Miscellany)
  • Father Bernard E. Shlesinger III, a priest of the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C., speaks during a May 15 news conference after Pope Francis appointed him as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Bishop-designate Shlesinger, 56, is currently director of spiritual formation in the theology division at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia. (CNS photo/Micael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin)

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (CNS) -- The Catholic dioceses of the Carolinas and Georgia are experiencing record growth, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta said during a meeting of the U.S. Catholic Church's Atlanta province.

"We realized that all five of the dioceses represented here have recently opened new chancery offices," Archbishop Gregory said in an interview with The Catholic Miscellany, newspaper of the statewide Diocese of Charleston.

"We are all in a growth mode. That's a good thing," he said during the province's June 26-29 meeting in Charleston. "We are spending part of our time here talking about the need to establish new parishes, expand pastoral outreach, and respond to growing numbers both from immigration and those moving here from other parts of the country. We all are sharing in this growth."

Archbishop Gregory said the leaders realized the scope of growth in their Southern province while touring the Diocese of Charleston's new pastoral center, which opened in 2016.

That growth is the opposite of what is happening in some Northern U.S. dioceses, where the number of people in the pews is declining in many areas, and parishes and schools are being closed or forced to consolidate.

In addition to the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Charleston, the province includes the Diocese of Savannah, Georgia, and the North Carolina dioceses of Raleigh and Charlotte.

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