Warrenton pastor attended seminary with Bishop Burbidge

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Father James R. Gould, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in Warrenton, said he entered the seminary the same day as Fr. Robert J. Rippy, rector of the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, and newly appointed Bishop Michael F. Burbidge.

 It was St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Overbrook, a suburb of Philadelphia, and it was August 1976.

 “There were two great classes in my time there, the Class of 1981, my class, and the Class of 1984, Bishop Burbidge’s class,” Father Gould said. “I was very blessed to be with the class I had. His group was the same, they were creative geniuses.”

Father Gould went on to describe a close-knit group of seminarians three years behind him that stayed together for years. 

 “These guys read newspapers every day and had interesting conversations at the dinner table,” he said. “I really admired that group and my own.

 “Nothing stressed those guys, they were a happy group. Things that would stress other guys, they didn’t get stressed. They were bright and insightful,” he said.

Although Bishop Burbidge jokingly admonished his classmates, some now priests in the Arlington Diocese, not to tell old stories from seminary days, Father Gould said he is delighted to welcome Bishop Burbidge, a native of Philadelphia, to Arlington, saying “we are incredibly blessed.”

He recalls the new bishop was a kind man, was in the chapel frequently, and was a good athlete in basketball and football. He praised his “good sense of humor,” which Father Gould attributes to his Irish ancestry, something they share.

As dean of students at St. Charles Seminary 1991-92 and seminary rector 1999-2004, Bishop Burbidge would know 25 years of priests in the diocese, Father Gould said.

 “Someone has to show him a great Philly cheesesteak place in Northern Virginia,” Father Gould laughed. “The Philadelphia Tavern (on Main Street) near the train station in Manassas is great. They bring the rolls in fresh from Philadelphia once a week.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016