Five facts about Bishop Burbidge

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1) He’s a country music fan.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge said in his September 2015 column for NC Catholics, “Although I have never mentioned it publicly for fear that my nieces and nephews might disown me, I am a big fan of country music.” The bishop loves Kenny Chesney, especially the song “Back Where I Come From.” He also has told married couples to listen to the country love ballad, “I Do,” by Mark Wills. 

2) His first job was at Sears.

Bishop Burbidge started working at the department store as a teenager. Though he had hoped to work in the sporting goods section, he instead was assigned to the outdoor nursery. He told Raleigh teens at a pro-life rally that although he knew nothing about plants, he found someone to show him the ropes.  “I met a friend who worked in that department for a few years. He knew each variety of plant by name,” he said.

3) He has a love for (the name) Francis.

Bishop Burbidge revealed the many connections he has to “Francis” at his Oct. 4 press conference in Arlington on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. In addition to being the name of the pope who transferred him to the Arlington Diocese, “Francis was the name of my father, the name of my brother … the name of my nephew, grandnephew. It is also my confirmation name,” he said. 

4) He’s a longtime friend of Bishop Loverde.

His friendship with Bishop Loverde began when he became rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa. “He was very attentive to the seminarians, very hands on, he wanted to know everything. So as rector, he had no problem contacting me,” said Bishop Burbidge.

“I think our friendship really grew in 2002 when I became a bishop. He recognized that this new bishop was walking into a world that can be a bit intimidating. … He was the first bishop to come over to me and say, ‘Let me show you the ropes here and let’s go out to lunch.’ ” 

Whenever Bishop Burbidge drove his mother from Raleigh to her home in Philadelphia, he would give Bishop Loverde a call once they reached the boundaries of the Arlington Diocese.

“My mom would always say, ‘He sounds like such a nice man.’ ” 

5) He loves children.

Bishop Burbidge is well-known for his love for students. Raleigh Superintendent of Schools Mike Fedewa said he has dozens of funny stories from watching the bishop interact with children. 

“I wish I had kept a log of what the kids said to him. It’s priceless,” Fedewa said.

Once, the bishop was visiting a second-grade class where a picture of both Pope Benedict XVI and Bishop Burbidge hung on the whiteboard. He told them, ‘Good morning, so good to be with you. Now, who is the good-looking guy on the whiteboard?’ They all replied, ‘Pope Benedict!’ ” 

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016

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