Bishop Paul S. Loverde said he was delighted with the appointment
of Bishop Michael F. Burbidge as Arlington’s fourth bishop and called him “the
right man for this diocese.”
“He’s a man of wonderful personality,” Bishop Loverde said during
a recent interview with the Catholic Herald. “He’s
welcoming. He goes out to people. He’s very comfortable. He knows how to
communicate, not only in words, but he’s very astute communicating in social
media in ways that we now need to communicate to reach more people.”
Bishop Burbidge also brings extensive episcopal experience, having
been bishop of the Raleigh Diocese for 10 years, and earlier an auxiliary
bishop of Philadelphia and rector of the seminary.
“He has financial understanding so he’ll welcome the solid
foundation he’ll find here,” Bishop Loverde said. “He’ll build on that.
“He’s a man with a balanced personality,” who will listen,
reflect, consult and communicate, the bishop added.
“It’s a personal gift to me, because he’s someone I’ve known for
several years,” Bishop Loverde said. “He’s also a gift to the diocese. I ask
everybody to join me in thanking God for this marvelous gift.”
Bishop Loverde said he first met Bishop Burbidge while he served
as secretary to Philadelphia Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. “That’s where he
learned a number of skills, from that relationship with the cardinal,” Bishop
Their friendship grew when Bishop Burbidge was appointed rector
of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa., and later auxiliary bishop
of the archdiocese.
The two bishops attend the November and June meetings of the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops, and they try hard to have lunch together. “He’s
a friend already,” Bishop Loverde said. “That’s how our relationship grew.”
Bishop Loverde said he admires Bishop Burbidge so much that about
six years ago, as he was preparing his funeral arrangements, he went to Bishop
Burbidge and asked, “This may seem like a strange question, but would you consider
being the homilist at my funeral?” Bishop Burbidge replied, “I hope that will
be centuries away.”
Bishop Burbidge brings to Arlington the strength and ability of
being a diocesan bishop, Bishop Loverde said. “He knows how to lead a diocese.
You can be an auxiliary bishop and there are many wonderful things you can do,
but you don’t have the[NO1]
responsibility of leading the diocese.”
Bishop Loverde, who served as an auxiliary bishop in the
Archdiocese of Hartford, said that as an auxiliary you learn many useful
skills, but when you’re done with an assignment, the final decision is not
yours, it belongs to the head of the diocese.
“You bring your advice to your archbishop or bishop and say, ‘I’ve
done my best. Here is my recommendation,’ ” the bishop said. “You leave it
there with him and he’ll make the decision. When you’re a diocesan bishop, it’s
on your desk and that’s it. Now you make the decision.”
Bishop Burbidge communicates well and is creative with
technology, Bishop Loverde said. “He knows how to reach people. He also knows
finances very well. He’s a prayerful man, a man of the church.”
Bishop Loverde said it’s important to note that when Bishop
Burbidge was in the Arlington Diocese following his Oct. 4 appointment, he
reached out to many different groups, including the staff and clients at Christ
House in Alexandria, students and teachers at Bishop O’Connell High School in
Arlington, and the Spanish Legion of Mary at St. James Church in Falls Church.
“He’ll continue to do that. That’s the kind of man he is,” Bishop
When asked what advice he would give Arlington’s fourth shepherd,
he said, “Continue what you already began when you first came into our midst
Oct. 4, that is, you so beautifully reached out to groups of people, different
people. Continue to have that wonderful, welcoming, attractive style, because
your personality will draw people, not to you, but to the Lord and His church.”
Bishop Loverde said Arlington is a complex diocese, but he
encouraged Bishop Burbidge to continue to listen carefully, then consult and then
communicate. “You will find that’s a wonderful combination of a way to lead the
Arlington, in some ways, will be busier than Raleigh, he said. Bishop Burbidge will travel less miles, but it
will take time for him to learn about the traffic problems that plague the
metro area. “You’ve got to get used to that because it can be very annoying and
vexing,” Bishop Loverde said.
His final words of advice to Bishop Burbidge were, “Go quickly,
yet slowly. Be a wonderful shepherd who leads us to Jesus.”