ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Pope Francis appointed a North Carolina bishop, Michael Burbidge, to lead the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, the church announced Tuesday.
Burbidge, 59, was introduced Tuesday at a press conference at the Cathedral of Saint Thomas More. The Philadelphia native has served as the Bishop of Raleigh, North Carolina, since 2006. Church officials say the Raleigh diocese grew to 470,000 Catholics during his tenure. His priorities included the construction of a cathedral set to be dedicated next year.
Burbidge succeeds 76-year-old Bishop Paul Loverde, who has led the diocese since 1999. A church rule requires bishops to submit letters of resignation at age 75. He’ll serve as apostolic administrator until a Mass of Installation on Dec. 6.
The Diocese of Arlington serves 600,000 Catholics in central and northern Virginia. The diocese holds mass in Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese to accommodate the region’s diversity.
At a press conference Tuesday, Loverde said dealing with the Virginia diocese’s growth will be one of Burbidge’s challenges.
“This is a diocese now of multicultural people,” Loverde said. “It’s amazing growth here that you will have to continue. … There’s a need for new parishes, a need for new outreach.”
Burbidge said he wants to learn more about the diocese before developing a specific agenda.