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Past Bishops

Bishops of Raleigh

Bishop William Joseph Hafey Reverend William Joseph Hafey, a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, was named the first Bishop of Raleigh in 1925. At that time there were 24 parishes with resident priests in the Diocese, a number that increased to 52 during Bishop Hafey’s 12-year tenure. Besides making pastoral visits to these parishes and encouraging growth, the Bishop traveled tirelessly to churches in the North to raise funds for his young, missionary Diocese. He served until 1937, when he was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Scranton.
   
Bishop Eugene Joseph McGuinness Reverend Eugene Joseph McGuinness was named the second Bishop of Raleigh in 1937. Ordained for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Father McGuinness had worked for two decades with the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and the Catholic Extension Society before his appointment as Bishop. Like Bishop Hafey, Bishop McGuinness had as his chief concerns growth and securing the resources, both financial and human, to support that growth. As well as ordaining 30 priests, he invited men and women from some 20 different religious orders to help with the missionary work of the Diocese. Bishop McGuinness served until he was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Oklahoma City and Tulsa in 1944.
   
Bishop Vincent Stanislaus Waters Reverend Vincent Stanislaus Waters, a priest of the Diocese of Richmond, was named the third Bishop of Raleigh in 1945. In addition to studies in Rome and St. Mary Seminary in Baltimore, he had studied for six years at Belmont Abbey College. Bishop Waters is remembered for his missionary zeal and his determination to fight racism both inside and outside the Church. At the end of his tenure, Catholic churches existed in three-fourths of the counties of North Carolina, and the State’s Catholic population had increased from 14,000 to 78,000. Bishop Waters also oversaw the creation of the Diocese of Charlotte from the western half of the Diocese of Raleigh in 1972. He served until his death in 1974, just days before the 50th anniversary of the Diocese.
   
Most Reverend Francis Joseph Gossman, auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, became the fourth bishop of Raleigh in 1975. During his time as bishop, the Catholic population in the Diocese of Raleigh more than quadrupled, in part due to an increasing Hispanic population. Bishop Gossman was a champion of ecumenism and social justice. In 1997, he and Bishop William Curlin of Charlotte issued a joint pastoral letter on economic justice. The bishops expressed concern that, despite prosperity and expansion in the state, the working poor were being left behind. In 2000, he joined with Bishop Curlin in seeking an end to the death penalty. During his 30 years as bishop of Raleigh, Bishop Gossman dedicated more than 60 new churches and schools in the diocese. He served until his retirement in 2006.
   
Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, became the fifth bishop of Raleigh in 2006. During his time as bishop, he dedicated 13 churches, ordained 19 men to the priesthood and ordained 34 permanent deacons. During his decade-long tenure, a second diocesan high school opened, the Cause for Beatification and Canonization of Father Thomas Price began and construction started on the new cathedral, Holy Name of Jesus. He served as bishop of the Diocese of Raleigh until he was appointed by Pope Francis as bishop of the Diocese of Arlington in 2016.