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Pope names Marist as auxiliary bishop for Atlanta Archdiocese

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Marist Father Joel M. Konzen, who is principal of Marist School in Atlanta, as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

Bishop-designate Konzen, ordained a priest in the Society of Mary in 1979 in New Orleans, has been principal of Marist School since 1999. Two years ago he received the Educational Excellence Award from the Catholic Secondary Schools Department of the National Catholic Educational Association in recognition of his long and varied service to Catholic schools.

His appointment was announced in Washington Feb. 5 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

The episcopal ordination of Bishop-designate Konzen, 67, will take place April 3.

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta said in a statement that with his appointment of the new auxiliary, “Pope Francis has once again demonstrated his great love for this local church.”

Bishop-designate Konzen “has spent nearly two decades in pastoral service to this archdiocese, most of it in caring for and educating students at Marist School,” the archbishop said. “He has been an effective and generous administrator and adviser to the educational ministry of thousands of young people and their parents.”

Archbishop Gregory urged Catholics of the archdiocese to keep the newly named bishop, Atlanta Auxiliary Bishop Bernard E. “Ned” Shlesinger “and me in your prayers as we prepare for that happy day.” Bishop Shlesinger was ordained an Atlanta auxiliary last July.

“The loss of Father Konzen from Marist School is an indisputable gain for the people of the Archdiocese of Atlanta,” commented Marist Father William Rowland, acting president of the school.

“In many ways, Father Konzen’s commitment to Catholic education, his fidelity to the mission of the Society of Mary, and his many positive personal qualities have readied him, thanks to God’s guiding hand, to serve the church in Atlanta as bishop,” he said in a statement. “He will be greatly missed at Marist School, but we look forward to his visits back to campus to celebrate Mass for our students and community in his new role as bishop.”

Born Nov. 6, 1950, in Oak Harbor, Ohio, in the Diocese of Toledo, Joel Konzen attended St. Meinrad College in Indiana from 1968-1972, earning a bachelor’s degree in English. He was at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans from 1972-1974, where he earned a master’s degree in divinity.

In 1974, while at Notre Dame, he entered the Society of Mary novitiate, based in Washington, and took first vows as a Marist in 1975. He was ordained a priest in 1979 in New Orleans.

In 1978 he earned a master’s degree in systematic theology from The Catholic University of America in Washington. He also earned a master’s degree in educational administration from Catholic University (1991).

Assignments after his ordination included as parochial vicar of St. Edmond Parish in Lafayette, Louisiana, 1979-1980; director of admissions and financial aid at Marist School in Atlanta, 1980-1982; principal of Marist School, 1982-1988; and president of Marist School, 1988-1989.

He was vicar provincial at the Marist Center in Washington from 1990-1992, then was president and principal of St. Michael’s Academy in Austin, Texas, for the next five years. He returned to his religious community’s center in Washington as vicar provincial, serving from 1997 until 1999, when he returned to Marist School in Atlanta as principal.

During his tenure at Marist School, he has taught a popular leadership class, bringing in prominent leaders from a variety of industries to speak to students. He serves on the boards of Notre Dame Preparatory and Marist Academy in Pontiac, Michigan, Notre Dame Academy in Duluth, Georgia, Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School and the Georgia Independent School Association.

Father Konzen also was instrumental in the creation of Reach for Excellence, a Society of Mary-sponsored program housed on Marist School’s campus, which prepares under-resourced middle school students for success in college-preparatory high schools.

By Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Michael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin: Bishop-designate Father Joel M. Konzen speaks during a morning news conference in Atlanta after being introduced as the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s newest auxiliary bishop Feb. 5. Pope Francis appointed the Marist priest a bishop earlier that day.



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