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Raleigh bishop celebrates final mass before move to Virginia

Posted 11:12 p.m. Tuesday
Updated 11:19 p.m. Tuesday

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— Bishop Michael Burbidge celebrated his final public mass in the Diocese of Raleigh on Tuesday after a decade at the helm.

Burbidge, who has headed the Catholic Church in eastern North Carolina for the last 10 years, will take over in Arlington, Va. on Dec. 6, following the retirement of the bishop there.

While he was smiling Tuesday night, Burbidge said he has been dealing with the emotional pain of detachment.

"Sometimes we have our plans and we have it all figured out and God says, 'Well, I have something different to ask of you.' And so there is always that wrestling," Burbidge said.

But after the wrestling comes surrender.

"Then, when you surrender, the way God has created us, that's actually how you find your peace," he said. "As I prepare to depart the diocese I love so very much, this mass, as is every mass, is one of thanksgiving."

During his tenure in Raleigh, Burbidge met with then-Pope Benedict XVI to discuss the diocese's future as one of the fastest-growing in the United States, and he spearheaded the fundraising campaign to build the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, which is scheduled to be consecrated next year. He even took the cornerstone of the cathedral to the Vatican, where it received Pope Francis' personal blessing before it was laid at the construction site, off Western Boulevard in Raleigh.

But leaving, he said in a moment of raw honesty, downright hurts.

"But, I think that is a good sign," Burbidge said. "It should hurt. If you love and then all of a sudden you're going to be separated from it, it should hurt a little bit."

He now says he wants the people of Raleigh to always trust God, and to know he is thankful.

There comes a time whe you are asked to do something that you may not feel ready for or may not desire or you may not fully understand, but to trust that the same God who asks this of you is the same God who will give you the strength and grace you need to fulfill it," he said.

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