Viatorians across the country are applauding Pope Francis for his appointment of Archbishop Wilton Gregory to the College of Cardinals.

Archbishop Wilton Gregory (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Archbishop Gregory is a native of Chicago and served at a pair of Northwest suburban parishes — not far from the Province Center — before being installed as an auxiliary bishop in Chicago in 1983. He would go on to serve as bishop of Belleville, IL, Atlanta and Washington before Sunday’s announcement.

Fr. Mark Francis served as Superior General of the Viatorians from 2000-2012 before being named president of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

However, amid his pastoral assignments, Archbishop Gregory completed a doctoral degree at the Pontifical Atheneum of St. Anselm in Rome, where he earned the Doctor of Sacred Liturgy degree. That is where his path intersects with at least one Viatorian, Fr. Mark Francis, CSV.

“I have know him since he was auxiliary bishop here in Chicago,” Fr. Francis says. “We are ‘doctor brothers,’ having had the same doctoral director at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in Rome — the noted expert on inculturation of the liturgy, Anscar Chupungco.

Fr. Charles Bolser

“As the first African-American Cardinal and as the head of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops during the height of the sexual abuse crisis,” he adds, “he brings understanding and compassion to his ministry and is a witness to the best of the Catholic teaching on social justice.”

Fr. Charles Bolser, CSV, agrees. He met Archbishop Gregory once, when he served as Bishop of Belleville.

“From my perception, he is an excellent choice,” Fr. Bolser says, “and has done very well in Bellevile, Atlanta and Washington – where he was not afraid to speak his mind.”