- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Diocese of Arlington announced Tuesday that Pope Francis has chosen a successor for Bishop Paul S. Loverde, who will retire later this year.

Michael F. Burbidge, 59, will serve as the fourth Bishop of Arlington, following his formal installment on Dec. 6.

In his new role, Bishop Burbidge will oversee the quickly growing Catholic community in Central and Northern Virginia, which his predecessor describes as an opportunity and a challenge.

“We now have 458,000 registered Catholics, with an estimated number of unregistered at 160,000,” said Bishop Loverde, 76. “That’s a huge number put together.”

At a press conference announcing the new appointment, Bishop Loverde said he is confident Bishop Burbidge has the experience to manage the Diocese of Arlington’s 21 counties and 264 priests.

“From what I hear and what I saw when I visited him two years ago, not knowing he’d come here, I know he has the vision and the energy to meet those challenges,” he said.

Bishop Burbidge has spent the past 10 years serving as the Bishop of Raleigh, North Carolina. During his tenure there, the bishop presided over a 40 percent increase in the number of registered Catholics, which the diocese hails as a major accomplishment.

He also oversaw the development of the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, a 2,000-seat mother church for the Raleigh diocese that is expected to open in the spring.

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

Bishop Burbidge was ordained to the priesthood in 1984. He earned a bachelor’s degree and several master’s degrees at Catholic universities in his home state of Pennsylvania. In 1999 he was appointed rector of his alma mater, St. Charles Seminary.

Pope John Paul II named Bishop Burbidge auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia in 2002. Four years later Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as the Bishop of Raleigh.

“I am truly delighted that he will be our next shepherd,” Bishop Loverde said. “He comes with much experience from his past and a keen sense of engaging potential for the future growth of this church here in Arlington in our beloved diocese.”

Once he assumes his new role in December, a group of priests from the Raleigh diocese will appoint an interim administrator to fill his position until the pope appoints a new bishop.

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