Local News

Raleigh bishop on move to Virginia: When the Pope calls, you say yes

Posted October 6, 2016 11:36 a.m. EDT
Updated October 6, 2016 2:27 p.m. EDT

— Bishop Michael Burbidge spoke publicly on Thursday for the first time since it was announced earlier this week that he would leaving the Diocese of Raleigh 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. Until then, Burbidge will serve as the diocesan administrator in Raleigh. His moves comes at the request of Pope Francis.

On Thursday, Burbidge said the news came in the form of a phone call about a week ago.

"In the Catholic Church you do not volunteer to be a Bishop, or volunteer for a new post. You don’t interview for it and in fact, you are not consulted," he said. "When you get the phone call it starts with 'The Holy Father has appointed you...The only thing to say at that point is 'Yes.'"

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.

"I have been very, very blessed to be the Bishop of Raleigh for 10 years. They welcomed me 10 years ago...with open arms, and they have embraced me throughout these 10 years," Burbidge. "Raleigh will always hold a special place in my heart."

Burbidge said he will be back in Raleigh when the new cathedral is dedicated on July 26.