Martin David Holley (born December 31, 1954) is an American bishop of the Catholic Church who served as Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Memphis, Tennessee, from 2016 to 2018. He was an auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., from 2004 to 2016.

Martin David Holley
Bishop Emeritus of Memphis
ArchdioceseRoman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville
DioceseRoman Catholic Diocese of Memphis
AppointedAugust 23, 2016
InstalledOctober 19, 2016
Term endedOctober 24, 2018
PredecessorJ. Terry Steib
SuccessorDavid Talley
OrdinationMay 18, 1987
ConsecrationJuly 2, 2004
by Theodore Edgar McCarrick, John Ricard, and Leonard Olivier
Personal details
Born (1954-12-31) December 31, 1954 (age 65)
Pensacola, Florida
Previous postAuxiliary Bishop of Washington; Titular Bishop of Rusibisir (2004-2016)
MottoIn aeternum Misericordia Eius (His mercy endures forever)
Styles of
Martin David Holley
Coat of arms of Martin D. Holley (Memphis).svg
Reference style
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleBishop

Early life and educationEdit

Holley was born in Pensacola, Florida, and graduated from Tate High School in 1973. While a student there he was a basketball standout and active in student government. He graduated in 1975 from Faulkner State Junior College in Bay Minette, Alabama, with an Associate of Arts degree in general studies, and from Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama in 1977 with a Bachelor of Arts in management. At both institutions, Bishop Holley excelled at basketball and participated in student government.

Holley undertook post-graduate studies at the Theological College at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and St. Vincent de Paul Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 8, 1987, at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Pensacola, Florida.

Priestly ministryEdit

Holley served as associate pastor and administrator of St. Mary Catholic Church, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, associate pastor of St. Paul Catholic Church, Pensacola, and as administrator and pastor of Little Flower Catholic Church, Pensacola. He was a member of the diocesan council of priests, the spiritual director of the Serra Club of West Florida, the spiritual director and instructor for the permanent diaconate program, the director of the Department of Ethnic Concerns of the diocese, and a member of the Joint Conference of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus.

Episcopal ministryEdit

Pope John Paul II appointed him titular bishop of Rusubisir and auxiliary bishop of Washington on May 18, 2004,[1] Holley received his episcopal consecration from Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, on July 2, 2004.[2][3] In November 2014, he was elected by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to serve on the board of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network.[4] For 12 years, Holley served as auxiliary bishop and the vicar general for non-Hispanic ethnic ministries.[2] He was a member of the Washington InterFaith Network, the International Foundation for the support of Deaf People, and Catholic Athletes for Christ.[2] He also became a member of the archdiocesan College of Consultors, Presbyteral Council, Seminarian Review Board, Administrative Board, and chairman of the College of Deans.[3] Within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, he was a member of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth; the Committee on Pro-Life Activities; the Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs; and the National Collections Committee.[2]

Pope Francis named him Bishop of Memphis, Tennessee, on August 23, 2016,[2][5] and he was installed as bishop on October 19, 2016.[6]

Holley transferred about 75% of the pastors in the diocese within a few months of becoming bishop, first requesting their resignations and giving them the title "parochial administrator" rather than "pastor" of the same parish, to allow him to transfer them without their resignation.[7][8] He also appointed a Canadian priest, Msgr. Clement J. Machado, SOLT to three diocesan offices: vicar general, moderator of the curia and diocesan chancellor.[a][9] In January 2018, citing lack of funds, the diocese announced the closure of the ten schools in its network of Memphis Jubilee Catholic Schools, founded in 1999 to serve children from poor families.[10]

In June 2018, Archbishops Wilton Gregory of Atlanta and Bernard Hebda of St. Paul-Minneapolis visited the Memphis diocese on behalf of the Vatican to investigate complaints about Holley's leadership. They met with several dozen priests.[11][12] Machado resigned from the diocese shortly after Gregory and Hebda completed their visitation and Holley assigned a different priest to each of the three offices Machado had held.[13]

On October 24, 2018, Pope Francis removed Holley as bishop, citing concerns about his reassignment policy, and named Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville to oversee the diocese as apostolic administrator.[14][15] The following day, Holley said to Catholic News Agency that he believed he was removed as "revenge" for advising Pope Benedict XVI against appointing Cardinal Donald Wuerl, under whom Holley served as auxiliary bishop in Washington, for the job of Vatican Secretary of State in 2012.[16] On March 5, 2019, the Vatican announced the appointment of Bishop David Prescott Talley to Holley's former post. Bishop Talley was the Bishop of Alexandria, Louisiana.[17]


  1. ^ Machado was asked to leave SOLT before he took these positions in the Memphis Diocese.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 18.05.2004" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. May 18, 2004. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Rinunce e Nomine, 23.08.2016" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. August 23, 2016. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Pope Names Bishop Holley as New Bishop of Memphis, Accepts Resignation of Bishop Steib" (Press release). United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. August 23, 2016. Archived from the original on February 10, 2016. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  4. ^ Winters, Michael Sean (November 11, 2014). "More USCCB Election News". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  5. ^ Brockhaus, Hannah (August 23, 2016). "Pope Francis taps DC auxiliary as the new Bishop of Memphis". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  6. ^ Szczepanowski, Richard (October 23, 2016). "New Memphis bishop strikes a very Pope Francis tone". Crux. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  7. ^ Waters, David (June 30, 2017). "Priest, parish leader express concerns to Vatican official about Memphis bishop's changes". Commercial Appeal. USA Today Network. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  8. ^ Morris-Young, Dan (June 21, 2017). "Parish roundup: Memphis shakeup; muscle cars for vocations". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  9. ^ Bailey, Clay (July 2, 2018). "Monsignor Machado resigns from post as second-in-command of Memphis Catholic diocese". Commercial Appeal. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  10. ^ Pignolet, Jennifer (January 23, 2018). "Memphis Jubilee Catholic Schools to close after 2018-19 school year". Commercial Appeal. USA Today Network. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  11. ^ Feuerhetd, Peter (July 9, 2018). "Diocese of Memphis subjected to three-day visitation". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  12. ^ Fretland, Katie (June 22, 2018). "Vatican investigation into complaints about Memphis bishop draws mixed reaction". Commercial Appeal. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  13. ^ "A top official resigns from Catholic diocese in Tennessee". Crux. Associated Press. July 3, 2018. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  14. ^ "Resignations and Appointments, 24.10.2018" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. October 24, 2018. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  15. ^ Brockhaus, Hannah (October 24, 2018). "Pope Francis removes Bishop Holley as head of Memphis diocese". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  16. ^ Bishop Holley says 'revenge,' not ‘mismanagement’ led to his removal (Catholic News Agency)
  17. ^ "After Turmoil in Tennessee, Pope Names New Bishop for Memphis".

External linksEdit

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
J. Terry Steib
Bishop of Memphis
Succeeded by
David Talley
Preceded by
Auxiliary Bishop of Washington
Succeeded by