Local News

Pope shifting Raleigh bishop to Virginia

Posted October 4, 2016 6:49 a.m. EDT
Updated October 4, 2016 7:01 p.m. EDT

— The Catholic Diocese of Raleigh announced Tuesday that Bishop Michael Burbidge is being transferred to the Diocese of Arlington in Virginia at the request of Pope Francis.

Burbidge, who has headed the Catholic Church in eastern North Carolina for the last 10 years, will take over in Arlington on Dec. 6, following the retirement of the bishop there. Until then, Burbidge will serve as the diocesan administrator in Raleigh.

After his departure, a new administrator will be elected until the next bishop is installed in Raleigh. Because there are certain functions that only a bishop can perform, such as naming a new priest, the archbishop in Atlanta will help oversee those for the Raleigh diocese in the coming months.

Burbidge became emotional during a news conference to announce the move.

"These past 10 years have been a source of great joy, and I will treasure the memories and I will be forever grateful for the support, love and goodness extended to me by all in the diocese," he said. "They have been and will remain a special gift in my life."

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.

Marguerite Ambrozevitch, the manager of In His Name, a north Raleigh store that sells Catholic religious items, said she is disappointed that Burbidge is leaving.

"(He's) just a loving loving personality, a true shepherd. He really is. He's really great," Ambrozevitch said. "He becomes your spiritual father, and you bond. You become close."

That bond became even stronger when Burbidge nominated her mother, who first opened the store, for a special honor from the Vatican.

"She had done so much for so many of the Catholics in diocese (that) the bishop wanted to acknowledge that," she said.

The certificate now hangs in the store's office, along with a picture from that special night and a photo of Burbidge.