Cardinal Gregory and Archbishop Hartmayer to officiate mass for Shrine pastor

Monsignor Henry Gracz was longtime pastor of the oldest Catholic church in Atlanta
Msgr. Henry Gracz, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., was ordained by Archbishop Paul J. Hallinan on May 8, 1965. His first assignment following the ordination was at St. Joseph Church, Athens. He's been the pastor at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Atlanta, since June 2001. (Michael Alexander/The Georgia Bulletin)

Credit: "Georgia Bulletin Photo By Micha

Credit: "Georgia Bulletin Photo By Micha

Msgr. Henry Gracz, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., was ordained by Archbishop Paul J. Hallinan on May 8, 1965. His first assignment following the ordination was at St. Joseph Church, Athens. He's been the pastor at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Atlanta, since June 2001. (Michael Alexander/The Georgia Bulletin)

Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory and Atlanta Archbishop John Hartmayer will jointly celebrate the funeral mass for Monsignor Henry C. Gracz, who led the Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for more than two decades.

Gracz, 84, died Feb. 5 after a battle with cancer.

He was known for leading an inclusive and affirming ministry that welcomed the poor, immigrants, homeless and the LBGTQ community. The Catholic Shrine is located at 48 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive just a short walk from the state Capitol, and is the oldest Roman Catholic church in Atlanta.

He was ordained to the priesthood in 1965 by Archbishop Paul Hallinan at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta. He also served under Gregory.

Gracz is survived by his sister, Joan Evaniak; nephews Mark Evaniak and Dean Evaniak; and nieces Cynthia Kearns (Lance) and Pamela Alexander (John).

Funeral arrangements are Vespers at 7 p.m. Feb. 23 and funeral mass at 11 a.m. Feb. 24. Doors will open at 10 a.m. for the Mass. Both services will be at the Shrine.

Gregory, the first Black cardinal from the United States, will be in town for the 10th anniversary gala of Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School. Gregory, the former archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta, will receive the “2024 Rey of Light Award.”

After leaving Atlanta, Gregory served as archbishop of Washington, D.C. In 2020, Pope Francis named Gregory one of 13 new cardinals to wear the coveted red hat. He’s also a former president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Gracz’s remains will be placed in a crypt at the Shrine, according to the archdiocese.

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