Arlington bishop appoints Chief Communications Officer

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Billy Atwell has been appointed Chief Communications Officer for the Arlington Diocese by Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge effective Aug. 1. He will report directly to the Office of the Bishop, serve as the diocesan spokesperson, and directly oversee the Office of Communications, the ArlingtonCatholic Herald, media relations, publications, and digital and social media.

Since 2014, Atwell has served as Director of Communications for the Diocese of Raleigh. Prior to that, he was Director of Communications for the Diocese of Venice, Fla., and also held positions in digital communications, program management and public policy in the Washington, D.C., area. Atwell graduated from East Carolina University where he received a bachelor’s in political science and a bachelor’s in philosophy.  

“I am confident that Billy’s background, many talents, expertise and zeal will be tremendous assets in promoting the good works of our diocese and in bringing the teachings of our Catholic faith into the public arena,” said Bishop Burbidge. “His love for the Lord and His Church and his desire to bring the Joy of the Gospel to others are quite evident. He will be a great addition to our diocesan team.”

“Serving Bishop Burbidge’s ministry in the Diocese of Raleigh was a highlight of my career and was an immensely fulfilling experience, both personally and professionally,” said Atwell.  “The opportunity to continue that great work in a place as faithful and vibrant as the Diocese of Arlington is humbling and an absolute honor.

 “The Catholic Church spreads the joy of the Gospel with every appropriate tool at our disposal,” Atwell said. “It is with these tools that we can reach the hurting, those yearning for hope and the forgiveness that Christ offers, as well as those who need affirmation in their faith. We have the duty of being at the cutting edge of communications, and I look forward to this great work in the Diocese of Arlington.”

Simultaneous with Atwell’s arrival, the Diocese of Arlington is preparing to launch a new evangelization effort in the form of an institute for the ongoing faith formation of adults, especially those who are engaged in the work of handing on the Catholic faith to children and to those new to the Catholic faith. Among those who will spearhead this effort will be Soren Johnson, currently the bishop’s Delegate for Evangelization and Media. 

Building on the foundation of current programs, and bolstered by the generous contributions of benefactors, the institute will invite notable leaders to join local talent in the effort to equip parishes with the best resources to foster parishioners’ personal encounter with the Lord Jesus. Projects of the institute will include a Bishop’s Speaker Series and formation program for leaders of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), as well as the expansion of the Diocesan Catechetical Conference and parish-based “boot camps” for the training of local leaders for the work of the New Evangelization. More details about the new initiative will be released in June.  

Bishop Burbidge added, “I am ever grateful for Soren Johnson’s dedicated service, and I enthusiastically welcome how his commitment to evangelization will enhance the work of our new diocesan initiative.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017

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