Catholic Diocese of Arlington Welcomes New Bishop


ARLINGTON, Va. - Today Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, 59, formally assumed leadership of the Diocese of Arlington, home to over 600,000 Catholics.  The fourth Bishop of Arlington, Bishop Burbidge succeeds Bishop Paul S. Loverde, 76, who led the Diocese since 1999. 

More than 1,200 gathered at the Cathedral of Saint Thomas More in Arlington to welcome him at a 2 p.m. Mass of Installation, attended by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Papal Nuncio to the United States; Justin Cardinal Rigali; Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington; Theodore Cardinal McCarrick; and Metropolitan Archbishop William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore. 

Full video of the Mass is available at, and a special issue of the Arlington Catholic Herald dedicated to Bishop Burbidge is available at


This was Bishop Burbidge's Mass of Installation Homily:

"Called to bring the truth and the joy of the Gospel into the public arena"

In his Installation homily, Bishop Burbidge said, "[M]ore than ever in these unsettling times, we are called to imitate the witness of Saint Thomas More, the witness to our faith that we proudly profess. As God's servants first, we are called to bring the truth and the joy of the Gospel into the public arena, with conviction and, always, in love. We do so as we protect the unborn and the sacredness of life at every stage; as we uphold the dignity of each and every human person without exception; as we protect our religious freedom and lift up the beautiful vocation of marriage and its sanctity, as Jesus taught; and of course, as we reach out in love to the poor and the needy and most vulnerable.

"Rely on the strength that God supplies"

Bishop Burbidge continued, "And when we refuse to compromise our faith, we know there's often a price to pay, including the fact that we might be labeled unfairly or even outright rejected [...]  But what Saint Paul tells us today is, then, don't rely on your own resources; rely on the strength that God supplies. So call upon that gift daily, so that we can say here in this Diocese, here in our lives, this is what you will see: the spirit, the witness, the example of Saint Thomas More, forevermore."

"Mercy is not something we keep to ourselves"

Citing the generous, faith-filled witness of his parents, Bishop Burbidge said, "In the midst of the trials, and struggles, and crosses in our lives, God is there, bestowing gifts to us to behold.  And on this joyful day in the life of our Diocese, I am aware of the many gifts for which I must be thankful."  Citing Pope Francis' recent apostolic letter, Misericordia et misera, "[H]e tells us that, like any other gift, mercy is not something we keep to ourselves; we share it, we bring it to others, especially our suffering brothers and sisters, that they might know the compassionate and healing love of God."

"Travel Lightly: 'Let go of any fear, anxiety, doubt or false independence'"

Bishop Burbidge continued, "[W]hat unites us today is our thanksgiving to God for the most precious gift of all, the gift of His Only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who sustains and nourishes us, most especially in this precious gift of the Holy Eucharist. It is the same Lord who teaches us today how to move forward as a Diocese. Look what He did: He sent out His disciples in the company of one another, to proclaim the Good News, and He instructed them not to take anything that would weigh them down - in other words, to travel lightly. And I do not believe that Jesus was talking to His disciples or to us merely about material things; I believe Jesus was saying to them and to us, 'Let go of any fear, anxiety, doubt or false independence. Rely on Me. Trust in Me, so that you can say every day, Here I am Lord, I come to do your will."  

"Walk humbly with our God"

Bishop Burbidge concluded, "With the strength of the Holy Eucharist and help of Mary, our Mother, and through the intercession of Saint. Thomas More, Saint. Elizabeth Ann Seton and Saint. Nicholas, may we recognize and share God's abundant gifts. May we imitate the courageous and faithful example of Saint Thomas More, forevermore, with the strength the God supplies, so that, together, we may walk humbly with our God and travel lightly today and always. Amen."


The Diocese of Arlington is home to more than 600,000 Catholics living in 21 counties and seven cities in central and northern Virginia. Parishioners live out their faith at 69 parishes, five missions, and 17,600 students attend 44 Catholic elementary and high schools. 


Angela Pellerano, Director of Media Relations 703-841-2517 (o) 571-215-8731 (mobile)