Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh

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Diocese of Raleigh
Dioecesis Raleighiensis
Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh.svg
The coat of arms of the diocese
Country  United States
Territory Eastern half of North Carolina North Carolina
Ecclesiastical province Atlanta
Metropolitan Atlanta
Area 31,875 km2 (12,307 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2010)
217,125 (4.9%)
Parishes 78
Denomination Roman Catholic
Rite Roman Rite
Established March 3, 1868 (149 years ago)
Cathedral Sacred Heart Cathedral
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Bishop Sede vacante
Metropolitan Archbishop Wilton Daniel Gregory
Archbishop of Atlanta
Diocese of Raleigh.jpg
Sacred Heart Cathedral

The Diocese of Raleigh is a Roman Catholic diocese that covers the eastern half of the U.S. state of North Carolina. It is a suffragan diocese in the ecclesiastical province of the Metropolitan Archbishop of Atlanta. On July 5, 2017, Pope Francis named Luis Rafael Zarama to be the 6th Bishop of Raleigh. Bishop Zarama's Installation Mass is scheduled for August 29, 2017 at the new Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral (which is scheduled to open and be consecrated as the new diocesan Cathedral on July 26, 2017).

Cathedral churches[edit]

The bishop is seated at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Basilica Shrine of St. Mary, a minor basilica in Wilmington, was once used as a cathedral for the Carolina areas before the Diocese of Raleigh was founded. The Former Pro-Cathedral of St. Thomas the Apostle, in Wilmington, was secularized.

In September 2011, Bishop Burbidge announced construction of a new cathedral for the Diocese of Raleigh to replace the existing Sacred Heart Cathedral, which could not accommodate the growing parish and diocese. The new cathedral was named the Cathedral of the Holy Name of Jesus.[1] Construction commenced January 3, 2015.[2] The cathedral is designed by O'Brien and Keane of Arlington, Virginia in the Romanesque Revival style. It will have a cruciform floor plan with a dome over the crossing and will contain 42 stained glass windows and Stations of the Cross from closed churches in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The Beyer Studio of Philadelphia will restore the windows before they are installed.[3]


  • On 3 March 1868, the Apostolic Vicariate of North Carolina was established in territory split from the Diocese of Charleston under the ecclesiastical authority of Bishop Leo Haid, O.S.B., who was both abbot of Benedictine Belmont Abbey and Vicar Apostle of North Carolina.[4][5]..
  • On 8 June 1910, it lost territory to establish the Abbacy nullius of Belmont–Mary Help of Christians
  • It was promoted on December 12, 1924 to Diocese of Raleigh, by Pope Pius XI.[6] The Holy See offered in 1910 to establish in Wilmington a diocese for North Carolina with St. Mary Catholic Church as the cathedral, but Haid refused to relocate to the coast, a move necessary if the diocese was to be established there.[7] North Carolina remained an Apostolic Vicariate until 1924, when Bishop Haid died.[8] Pius XI erected the Diocese of Raleigh and assigned a secular priest as its bishop. The diocese, covering nearly 46,000 miles and holding 8,254 Catholics, comprised all of North Carolina except eight counties which had been given to Belmont Abbey in 1910 as the abbey's own diocese, the "Abbey Nullius".[5] Within the diocese there were twenty-four churches with permanent pastors, forty mission churches cared for by priests of the parishes, and other "stations," where church structures did not exist but priests came to celebrate the Sacraments. The diocese had twenty-three diocesan priests, twenty-eight priests in religious orders, and 127 religious sisters.[9]
  • It gained territory twice: in 1944 from the re-absorbed Abbacy nullius of Belmont–Mary Help of Christians and in June 1960 from the Abbacy nullius of Belmont–Mary Help of Christians.
  • On 12 November 1971, it lost territory to establish the Diocese of Charlotte.

Bishop William Hafey[edit]

William J. Hafey, a thirty-seven-year-old priest, became Raleigh's first bishop. Prior to his installation on July 1, 1925, Archbishop Michael Joseph Curley of Baltimore supervised the diocese.[10] As bishop, Hafey traveled often, within and outside of the diocese, seeking both servants and money for the diocese. Many men and women heard his plea for help and came to the diocese as priests and religious. The financial donations Hafey received assisted the diocese, some of which purchased land for churches. In 1937, Hafey became bishop of Scranton, Pennsylvania,[11] leaving the diocese with 52 parishes, 53 diocesan priests, 26 religious order priests, and 10,571 Catholics.[12]

Bishop Eugene McGuinness[edit]

Eugene J. McGuinness replaced Bishop Hafey, being installed on 6 January 1938. McGuinness, a Pennsylvanian priest, had worked for the Catholic Church Extension Society, an organization that gathered and dispersed financial aid to small, poorer dioceses. As bishop of North Carolina, McGuinness continued to seek financial aid, this time for his diocese. In 1944 he requested to be transferred to Oklahoma, and his petition was granted. He left the diocese with 86 parishes, 83 diocesan priests, 59 religious priests, 238 religious sisters, and 12,922 Catholics.[13]

Bishop Vincent Waters[edit]

Vincent S. Waters became the third bishop of the Raleigh Diocese. In 1945, he left the missionary territory of Virginia where he had served as a priest and came as bishop to the mission ground of the Raleigh Diocese.[14] He had many goals. Waters wanted the salvation of all people[15] and the conversion of all North Carolinians.[16] To increase conversions, he started the Missionary Apostolate.

Missionary Apostolate[edit]

The Missionary Apostolate was a four-part program that used the energies of his seminarians and priests to spread Catholicism. The first aspect of the Apostolate was the Summer Census. Each summer, the seminarians went to different areas of North Carolina, noting the Catholics and distributing Catholic information. The second aspect of the Apostolate was the Apostolate year, in which the newly ordained priests spent their first priestly year at an older priest's parish, serving at the parish's missions. The third part of the Apostolate was the Trailer Apostolate.[17] Traveling in trailers to rural areas, the two priests remained in one place for two weeks, teaching Catholicism and celebrating the Sacraments. The diocese's two trailers each had a chapel, living space, an area for visiting, and an outdoor altar. The fourth aspect of Missionary Apostolate was the Mission Band. Waters stationed two Raleigh priests at two separate parishes outside of the diocese where they preached and solicited donations for the Raleigh Diocese. Priests who remained within the diocese planned retreats for the North Carolina Catholics. These four aspects comprised Waters' Missionary Apostolate.[18]

Conversion efforts[edit]

To convert the entire state, Waters encouraged each Church to convert one North Carolinian for every adult parishioner. This goal was not realized.[19] Waters was more successful in establishing a Catholic church in every county. At his death, seventy-five of the one hundred North Carolina counties contained churches, though many were missions, lacking a resident pastor because of the shortage of priests.[20] Waters also wanted to increase the number and size of parochial schools. Initially successful, schools increased from fifteen to sixty-four, but following the Second Vatican Council, the number declined, though Waters was still bishop.[21]


Waters began ending segregation in the diocese in June 1953, despite resistance from the North Carolinians.[22] Holy Redeemer Parish in Newton Grove, run by the Redemptorist priests, became the first Church of any denomination in North Carolina to be integrated. On Memorial Day Weekend of 1953, Waters himself celebrated the first integrated Mass. No riots ensued, but tension abounded and both the church and school suffered such a loss of numbers that both closed and the Redemptorists left. Later, the church reopened as Our Lady of Guadalupe and operates to this day.[23] In 1954, St. Monica, a school for black children, joined the Cathedral School for whites. These two became the first integrated schools in North Carolina.[24]


Waters strove to preserve pious Catholic traditions. Unhappy that some religious sisters stopped wearing their habits, Waters wrote a letter in 1971 requesting that the nuns wear their habits or leave the diocese. Some religious sisters kept their habits and continued serving; others left the diocese.[25] Waters also required that his priests wear their clerics in public. Though some people, religious and lay, disliked Waters' rigidity and traditionalism, others supported Waters as he preserved Church traditions.[26]

Growth in the Diocese[edit]

While Waters was bishop, the diocese grew. It increased physically, having received by 1960 the Abbey Nullius as its own property.[27] The diocese covered all of North Carolina except Belmont Abbey, which remained its own diocese under the abbot's supervision.[5] The diocese had three auxiliary bishops during Waters' episcopate: James Johnston Navagh (1952-1957), Charles Borromeo McLaughlin (1964-1968) and George Edward Lynch (1970-1985).[27] The Raleigh Diocese also grew in numbers; by 1972, the diocese contained over 70,000 Catholics. Pope Paul VI granted Waters' petition and split the Raleigh Diocese, establishing the Diocese of Charlotte for the west half of North Carolina. The Raleigh Diocese dropped from about 46,000 miles to its current size[6] of about 32,000 miles, stretching from Burlington, just East of Greensboro, to the Atlantic Coast.[28] After nearly thirty years of being Raleigh's bishop, Waters died from a heart attack in 1974, leaving North Carolina with 78 diocesan priests, 76 religious order priests, and 77,834 Catholics.[29]

Bishop Francis Joseph Gossman[edit]

Bishop Gossman, from Baltimore, Maryland, became the Raleigh Diocese's fourth bishop on May 19, 1975.[30] Gossman relied on the advice of others when making decisions.[31] He encouraged "collegiality," lay and female assistance in the Church's duties. Gossman asked the faithful to help by living their faith daily and helping those in need.[32] He also welcomed their assistance in diocesan positions.[33] Religious sisters became pastoral administrators.[34] In 1992, John Riedy became the first lay chancellor of the diocese.[33] Gossman retired in 2006 after leading the Raleigh Diocese for over thirty years.[30] During Gossman's years as bishop, the diocese expanded with over 50 parishes and the number of Catholics tripled;[35] the diocese had 192,000 registered Catholics in 2006.[30]

Bishop Michael Burbidge[edit]

Bishop Burbidge, Philadelphia's auxiliary bishop (2002-2006), became the fifth bishop of the Raleigh Diocese.[36] Burbidge is known for his faithfulness to the Church and his familiarity with the people of his diocese.[37] In the fall of 2007, he began the Diocese of Raleigh Home Mission Society. Bishop Burbidge was appointed the Bishop of Arlington on October 4, 2016.

Diocese of Raleigh Home Mission Society[edit]

The diocese had stopped receiving donations from the Catholic Church Extension Society in 2000 since it had raised a substantial amount of money, but many people, Hispanics, northern Catholics, and military families, were immigrating to North Carolina. The diocese needed more, larger churches. Burbidge started the Home Mission Society to help raise funds for the construction of churches in the mission areas of North Carolina.[16]

Episcopal Ordinaries[edit]

(all Roman Rite)

Apostolic Vicars of North Carolina
Suffragan Bishops of Raleigh
  1. William J. Hafey (1925.04.06 – 1937.10.02); later Titular Bishop of Appia (1937.10.02 – 1938.03.25) as Coadjutor Bishop of Scranton (USA) (1937.10.02 – 1938.03.25), succeeding as Bishop of Scranton (1938.03.25 – death 1954.05.12)
  2. Eugene J. McGuinness (1937.10.13 – 1944.11.11); later Titular Bishop of Ilium (1944.11.11 – 1948.02.01) as Coadjutor Bishop of Oklahoma City–Tulsa (USA) (1944.11.11 – 1948.02.01), succeeding as Bishop of Oklahoma City–Tulsa (USA) (1948.02.01 – death 1957.12.27)
  3. Vincent Stanislaus Waters (1945.03.15 – death 1974.12.03)
    1. Auxiliary Bishop : James Johnston Navagh (1952.07.29 – 1957.05.08), Titular Bishop of Ombi (1952.07.29 – 1957.05.08); later Bishop of Ogdensburg (USA) (1957.05.08 – 1963.02.12), Bishop of Paterson (USA) (1963.02.12 – death 1965.10.02)
    2. Auxiliary Bishop: Charles Borromeo McLaughlin (1964.01.13 – 1968.05.02), Titular Bishop of Risinium (1964.01.13 – 1968.05.02); later Bishop of Saint Petersburg (USA) (1968.05.02 – death 1978.12.14)
    3. Auxiliary Bishop: George Edward Lynch (1969.10.20 – retired 1985.04.16), Titular Bishop of Satafi (1969.10.20 – death 2003.05.25)
  4. Francis Joseph Gossman (1975.04.08 – retired 2006.06.08), previously Titular Bishop of Aguntum (1968.07.15 – 1975.04.08) & Auxiliary Bishop of Archdiocese of Baltimore (USA) (1968.07.15 – 1975.04.08), died 2013
  5. Michael F. Burbidge (2006.08.06 - 2016.10.04); previously Titular Bishop of Cluain Iraird (2002.06.21 – 2006.06.08) & Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia (USA) (2002.06.21 – 2006.06.08), later Bishop of Arlington (USA) (2016.12.06 – ...)
  6. Bishop-elect Luis Rafael Zarama (2017.08.29 – ...), previously Titular Bishop of Bararus (2009.07.27 – 2017.07.05) as Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta (USA) (2009.07.27 – 2017.07.05).

Statistics and extent of the diocese[edit]

As per 2015, it pastorally served 231,230 Catholics (4.7% of 4,874,815 total) on 82,556 km² in 79 parishes and 5 missions with 162 priests (114 diocesan, 48 religious), 73 deacons, 90 lay religious (52 brothers, 38 sisters) and 29 seminarians.

In 2010, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh contained seven Catholic centers on college campuses; 70 active diocesan priests and 49 active religious priests; 64 religious sisters; 47 religious men; 217,000 registered Catholics; and 240,000 unregistered Hispanics.[28]

Catholic Education in the diocese[edit]

The Diocese of Raleigh currently has two high schools, as well as a lay-run high school and many lower schools. Of these include;

High schools[edit]

Pope John Paul II High School[edit]

In 2010, Pope John Paul II High School in Greenville, North Carolina, became the second diocesan high school. In the 2010-2011 school year, the high school taught only ninth grade. It added grades 10-12 as students advanced through the 2013-2014 school year.[38] The high school expansion mirrors growth in other areas of the diocese.

Elementary and middle schools[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "New Catholic cathedral planned for Raleigh". WRAL-TV News. 7 September 2011. Retrieved 2016-02-26. 
  2. ^ "Diocese breaks ground for new cathedral". Diocese of Raleigh. Retrieved 2016-02-26. 
  3. ^ "New Cathedral Design – Inspired by You". Diocese of Raleigh. Retrieved 2016-02-26. 
  4. ^ "Our Diocese at 90". Diocese of Raleigh. Retrieved 2016-02-26. 
  5. ^ a b c "Belmont Abbey Founded In 1876 In 'Wilds of North Carolina'". North Carolina Catholic: 42. 1 September 1970. 
  6. ^ a b "Our History". Diocese of Raleigh. Retrieved 2016-02-26. 
  7. ^ Powers (2003), pp. 235–236
  8. ^ Powers (2003), p. 238
  9. ^ Powers (2003), pp. 237–238
  10. ^ Powers (2003), pp. 239, 241, 243
  11. ^ Powers (2003), pp. 242–258
  12. ^ Powers (2003), pp. 262–263
  13. ^ Powers (2003), pp. 259–264
  14. ^ Powers (2003), pp. 12–13
  15. ^ Powers (2003), pp. 11–13
  16. ^ a b Reece, Richard (January–February 2008). "Mission Possible: Eastern North Carolina—Catholic? The Raleigh Home Mission Society Could Make it Happen". NC Catholics. Retrieved 2016-02-26. 
  17. ^ "Church On Wheels Brought Faith To All In N.C. Area". North Carolina Catholic: 52. 1 September 1970. 
  18. ^ Powers (2003), pp. 41–54
  19. ^ Powers (2003), pp. 62–63
  20. ^ Powers (2003), pp. 32–33
  21. ^ Powers (2003), pp. 56–58
  22. ^ Ellis (1956), p. 148
  23. ^ Powers (2003), pp. 15–23
  24. ^ Reece, Richard (January–February 2009). "100 Years of Catholic Education". NC Catholics: 14–17. Retrieved 2016-02-26. 
  25. ^ Powers (2003), pp. 72–74
  26. ^ Powers (2003), pp. 79–81, 83
  27. ^ a b Cheney, David M. "Diocese of Raleigh". Catholic-Hierarchy. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  28. ^ a b "The Diocese". Diocese of Raleigh. Retrieved 2016-02-26. 
  29. ^ Powers (2003), p. 34, 85
  30. ^ a b c "Past Bishops". Diocese of Raleigh. Retrieved 2016-02-26. 
  31. ^ Powers (2003), p. 426
  32. ^ Munger, Guy. "Cardinal to speak: Bishop Gossman will celebrate 25 years with silver jubilee at Civic Center September 11." NC Catholic, 5 September 1993: 2. Print.
  33. ^ a b Munger, Guy. "Bishop Gossman: A shepherd for today's Church and a product of his times." NC Catholic, 5 September 1993: 4-5, 7.
  34. ^ Powers (2003), pp. 427–434
  35. ^ Hetzler, Sue. "Work is never done: Bishop Gossman is a shepherd with a post-Vatican II manner." NC Catholic, 5 September 1993: 20-21.
  36. ^ "Bishop Michael F. Burbidge". Diocese of Raleigh. 
  37. ^ "'People Person' prepares to take the helm of Raleigh Diocese". Catholic News Agency. 31 July 2006. Retrieved 2016-02-26. 
  38. ^ "About John Paul II Catholic High School". Retrieved 2016-02-26. 


Sources and external links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°46′37″N 78°40′22″W / 35.7769°N 78.6728°W / 35.7769; -78.6728