Bishop Burbidge shares his love of sports

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Bishop Michael F. Burbidge confided to a group of students at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington Oct. 5 that he was in an awkward situation in April when Villanova went toe-to-toe with University of North Carolina for the 2016 national basketball championship.

As bishop of Raleigh, N.C., he usually rooted for UNC. But this year he had to back Villanova, where he had earned a master’s in education administration in 1994, and he enjoyed their surprise victory. 

Bishop Burbidge’s love of sports was fostered early on in his hometown of Philadelphia with the Phillies and the Eagles. 

“My favorite sport growing up was baseball,” said Bishop Burbidge. “I didn’t have the strongest arm so I was a second baseman. I also casually played tennis, which was a sport I continued to play in seminary.”

The bishop’s love of America’s favorite pastime led him to be an umpire until the year he was ordained a deacon. He is also on the episcopal board for Catholic Athletes for Christ, an association dedicated to sharing the Gospel of Christ in and through athletics. According to their website, the bishop strongly encourages involvement in sports and fitness among seminarians, and can still be called upon to referee a game every now and then.

Even though he was in Panthers territory in Raleigh, he knows where his loyalties lie.

“I’m still a big Eagles fan,” said Bishop Burbidge. “My dad and I had season tickets.” He remembers his dad buying the tickets from a family friend with plans to use them for the family.

“My brother, who is the big athlete, actually did not really appreciate the opportunity to go to games. He enjoyed much more being at home watching it on TV and not fighting the traffic,” said Bishop Burbidge. “So for all those years it was mostly Dad and I who would go. It wasn’t so much the games as that time of being with my dad. That was our time together.”

Bishop Burbidge is still an enthusiastic sports fan and is looking forward to jumping on the Nationals bandwagon. He enjoyed attending college football games when time permitted and still roots for his Eagles from a distance. 

It can be hard to catch a game with his Sunday schedule but nothing is impossible with God and a DVR. After a long Sunday he likes to come home, turn off his phone and watch his Eagles fly to victory — especially if they are playing the Cowboys. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016