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The Diocese of Raleigh is a Roman Catholic diocese that covers the eastern half of the U.S. state of North Carolina. It is a suffragan diocese in the ecclesiastical province of the Metropolitan Archbishop of Atlanta. On July 5, 2017, Pope Francis named Luis Rafael Zarama to be the 6th Bishop of Raleigh; Zarama was installed on August 29, 2017 at the recently consecrated Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral.

Diocese of Raleigh

Dioecesis Raleighiensis
Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral - Raleigh, North Carolina 01.jpg
Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral
Coat of arms of the Diocese of Raleigh
Coat of arms
Country United States
TerritoryEastern half of North Carolina North Carolina
Ecclesiastical provinceAtlanta
Area31,875 km2 (12,307 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2010)
217,125 (4.9%)
DenominationRoman Catholic
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedMarch 3, 1868 (151 years ago)
CathedralHoly Name of Jesus Cathedral
Current leadership
BishopLuis Rafael Zarama
Metropolitan ArchbishopWilton Daniel Gregory
Archbishop of Atlanta
Diocese of Raleigh.jpg


Cathedral churchesEdit

The bishop is seated at Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Basilica Shrine of St. Mary, a minor basilica in Wilmington, was once used as a cathedral for the Carolina areas before the Diocese of Raleigh was founded. The Former Pro-Cathedral of St. Thomas the Apostle, in Wilmington, was secularized. Prior to Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Sacred Heart Cathedral served as the cathedral from 1924-2017. Since the dedication of Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral on July 26, 2017, the former Sacred Heart Cathedral has been relegated to a church.

Construction on Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral commenced January 3, 2015.[1] The cathedral was designed by O'Brien and Keane of Arlington, Virginia in the Romanesque Revival style, containing a cruciform floor plan with a dome over the crossing and 42 stained glass windows and Stations of the Cross from closed churches in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The Beyer Studio of Philadelphia restored the windows before they were installed.[2]


  • On 3 March 1868, the Apostolic Vicariate of North Carolina was established in territory split from the Diocese of Charleston under the ecclesiastical authority of Bishop James Gibbons, who later became the Cardinal Archbishop of Baltimore.
  • In 1888 Abbot Leo Haid, O.S.B., the founding Abbot of the Benedictine Belmont Abbey was named Vicar Apostolic of North Carolina. He also continued as Abbot of Belmont Abbey.
  • On 8 June 1910, the Vicariate lost territory to establish the Abbacy nullius of Belmont–Mary Help of Christians. Bishop Haid now held three titles: Abbot of Belmont, Vicar-Apostolic of North Carolina, and Abbot-Ordinary of Belmont Abbey Nullius.
  • On December 12, 1924 Pope Pius XI established the Diocese of Raleigh to include all of North Carolina with the exception of the eight counties of the Abbey Nullius of Belmont.[3] The Holy See offered in 1910 to establish in Wilmington a diocese for North Carolina with St. Mary Catholic Church as the cathedral, but Haid refused to relocate to the coast, a move necessary if the diocese was to be established there.[4] North Carolina remained an Apostolic Vicariate until 1924, when Bishop Haid died.[5] Father William Hafey, the Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, was named the first Bishop of Raleigh. The new diocese, covered nearly 46,000 miles and contained 8,254 Catholics. Within the diocese there were twenty-four churches with permanent pastors, forty mission churches cared for by priests of the parishes, and other "stations," where church structures did not exist but priests came to celebrate the Sacraments. The diocese had twenty-three diocesan priests, twenty-eight priests in religious orders, and 127 religious sisters.[6]
  • It gained territory twice: in 1944 seven counties of Abbacy nullius of Belmont–Mary Help of Christians were added to the Diocese and in June 1960 the Abbacy nullius was reduced to the grounds of the Monastery.
  • On 12 November 1971, the Nullius was suppressed and became part of the Diocese of Charlotte.

Sexual abuseEdit

In June 2002 a man who was in theological formation in the Diocese of Raleigh claimed to have been sexually molested by Father Edward J. Shoback twenty-five years earlier in Pennsylvania. The Diocese of Raleigh terminated its relationship with the alleged victim.[7]

In 2007 Justin David Scranton, an English teacher and cross country coach at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, admitted to acting inappropriately toward a student. The school suspended him during an investigation.[8] He was arrested on February 28, 2007 on charges that he took indecent liberties with a female student.[9] In March 2007 a group of protesters, some alleged victims of clerical sexual abuse, stood outside the offices for the Diocese of Raleigh, claiming that Bishop Michael Francis Burbidge refused to meet with them.[10] Later that year the Diocese paid almost $2 million to settle sexual misconduct claims made by thirty-seven people against at least fifteen priests since the 1950s.[11]

In July 2015 a three judge panel ruled to allow a lawsuit against the Diocese of Raleigh over an allegation of child sexual abuse by a priest to advance.[12] The North Carolina Court of Appeals rejected arguments made by lawyers representing Bishop Burbidge and the Diocese that claimed allowing the lawsuit to advance into trial would violate the constitutional separation of church and state. The case involved allegations of sexual abuse of a sixteen year old boy by Edgar Sepulveda, a Catholic priest of the Santa Teresa del Niño Jesús Mission in Beulaville, North Carolina.[13] Sepulveda denied the accusations. Sepulveda had been arrested in 2010 and charged with second-degree sexual offense and sexual battery but the charges were dropped by Brunswick County prosecutors citing a lack of evidence. Bishop Burbidge put Sepulveda on administrative leave, prohibiting him from visiting any parish or Catholic school, and removed him from residence on church grounds.[14] The lawsuit claimed that the bishop was negligent and inflicted further emotional distress on the victim by refusing to order Sepulveda to undergo testing for sexually transmitted diseases and then share results with the victim's family.[15] The church's lawyers denied that church officials had any knowledge of Sepulveda's alleged actions.[16]

In 2013 Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests criticized Bishop Burbidge and Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte for not warning families in their dioceses about Raymond P. Melville, a former Catholic priest accused of sexual abuse in Maine and in Maryland, who had moved to North Carolina.[17][18]

In August 2018 a grand jury report regarding sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania named two former North Carolina priests in the list of 301 priests guilty of sexual abuse.[19] Fr. William Presley and Fr. Robert Spangenberg both worked in the Diocese of Raleigh in the 1970s and 1980s. Presley, whom the report describes as a "violent predator who insinuated himself into the lives of families for the purpose of getting close enough to their children that he could abuse them",[20] had served at a parish in Kinston from 1981 until 1983 while Spangenberg served at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Newton Grove and Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Clinton from 1977 until 1979.[21][22]


Apostolic Vicars of North CarolinaEdit

  1. James Gibbons (1868-1877), appointed Bishop of Richmond and later Archbishop of Baltimore (elevated to the Cardinal in 1886)
  2. John J. Keane (1878-1881), appointed Bishop of Richmond and later Rector of The Catholic University of America and Archbishop of Dubuque
  3. Stanislaus Mark Gross (1880-1881)
  4. Henry Pinckney Northrop (1881-1888), appointed Bishop of Charleston
  5. Leo Michael Haid, O.S.B. (1888-1924), appointed abbot of Belmont Abbey

Bishops of RaleighEdit

  1. William J. Hafey (1925-1937), appointed Bishop of Scranton
  2. Eugene J. McGuinness (1938-1944), appointed Bishop of Oklahoma City-Tulsa
  3. Vincent S. Waters (1945-1974)
  4. Francis J. Gossman (1975-2006)
  5. Michael Francis Burbidge (2006-2016), appointed Bishop of Arlington
  6. Luis Rafael Zarama (2017-present)

Auxiliary BishopsEdit

  1. James Johnston Navagh (1952-1957), appointed Bishop of Ogdensburg and later Bishop of Paterson
  2. Charles Borromeo McLaughlin (1964-1968), appointed Bishop of Saint Augustine
  3. George Edward Lynch (1970-1985)

Other priests in the diocese who became bishopsEdit

  1. Joseph Lennox Federal, appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Salt Lake in 1951
  2. Michael Joseph Begley, appointed Bishop of Charlotte in 1971
  3. Joseph Lawson Howze, appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Natchez-Jackson in 1972
  4. Bernard Shlesinger, appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta in 2017

Statistics and extent of the dioceseEdit

As per 2015, it pastorally served 231,230 Catholics (4.7% of 4,874,815 total) on 82,556 km² in 79 parishes and 5 missions with 162 priests (114 diocesan, 48 religious), 73 deacons, 90 lay religious (52 brothers, 38 sisters) and 29 seminarians.

In 2010, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh contained seven Catholic centers on college campuses; 70 active diocesan priests and 49 active religious priests; 64 religious sisters; 47 religious men; 217,000 registered Catholics; and 240,000 unregistered Hispanics.[23]

Catholic Education in the dioceseEdit

The Diocese of Raleigh currently has two high schools, as well as a lay-run high school and many lower schools. Of these include;

High schoolsEdit

Elementary and middle schoolsEdit

Women Religious in the DioceseEdit

Women Religious have made an invaluable contribution to the life and growth of the Catholic Church in North Carolina. Sisters of Mercy from Charleston, South Carolina, moved to Wilmington in 1862 to care for victims of the Yellow Fever epidemic. In 1869, this same order of sisters opened the “Academy of the Incarnation” (now named St. Mary’s School). These Sisters are also credited with opening schools in the western part of our state, including: St. Patrick School (Charlotte—1888), Sacred Heart Academy (Belmont—1892), and Sacred Heart School (Salisbury—1910). The Sisters of Mercy (Belmont) is the one community of women religious working in our state whose motherhouse is also located here.

Both the orphanages in Belmont, North Carolina, and Raleigh, North Carolina were staffed by the Sister of Mercy of North Carolina. The last five years of the Catholic Orphanage on Nazareth Street in Raleigh, North Carolina were served by the Sisters of Notre Dame, Chardon, Ohio.

Other communities of women religious also answered the call to serve in North Carolina. The Religious of Christian Education opened St. Genevieve of the Pines Academy Asheville, in 1908. Equally prolific, the Dominican Sisters of Newburgh, New York, staffed the Catholic School in Newton Grove in 1907, founded Sacred Heart Academy (now the Cathedral School and Cardinal Gibbons High School) in Raleigh—1909, and began Immaculata School in Durham in 1909. In 1926, the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Scranton, PA, staffed St. Joseph’s School, New Bern, for “colored children.” This school had been opened by Father Thomas Frederick Prince in 1887 and was staffed by lay people until the I.H.M. Sisters came. In 1927 they also founded schools serving black children in Goldsboro and Washington, North Carolina, as well as another New Bern school (St. Paul’s) and a school in Raleigh (St. Monica’s).

Radio stationEdit

The diocese is the licensee for a low power FM station, WSHP-LP, 103.3 MHz, located in Cary, North Carolina. Responsibility for this station's operation is primarily held by Divine Mercy Radio, Inc., a local lay apostolate organization.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Diocese breaks ground for new cathedral". Diocese of Raleigh. Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  2. ^ "New Cathedral Design – Inspired by You". Diocese of Raleigh. Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  3. ^ "Our History". Diocese of Raleigh. Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  4. ^ Powers (2003), pp. 235–236
  5. ^ Powers (2003), p. 238
  6. ^ Powers (2003), pp. 237–238
  7. ^ "40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury" (PDF). Bishop Accountability. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  8. ^ "Warrant: Raleigh Teacher Admits Acting Inappropriately With Student". WRAL News. Capitol Broadcasting Company. 7 March 2007. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  9. ^ Quillin, Martha (16 March 2007). "Sexual Abuse Victims Backed". Bishop Accountability. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  10. ^ "Raleigh's Diocese Accused of Sex Abuse Cover-Up". WRAL News. Capitol Broadcasting Company. 15 March 2007. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  11. ^ "Raleigh diocese paid $1.2 million to settle abuse claims in 2006". Cult Education Institute. 5 January 2007. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  12. ^ "NC--Victims applaud new ruling in pedophile priest case". Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. 7 July 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  13. ^ "NC Appeals Court allows priest sex abuse lawsuit to proceed". WXII 12 News. Hearst Television. 7 July 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  14. ^ Biesecker, Michael (7 July 2015). "NC Appeals Court allows priest sex abuse lawsuit to proceed". The Washington Times. Larry Beasley. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  15. ^ "DOE 200 v. DIOCESE OF RALEIGH". Find Law. 7 July 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  16. ^ "Court allows priest sex abuse lawsuit to proceed". Winston-Salem Journal. Berkshire Hathaway. 8 July 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  17. ^ Harrison, Judy (12 November 2013). "Supreme court rules against Augusta man in his suit against Catholic diocese over priest abuse". Bangor Daily News. Bangor Publishing Company. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  18. ^ "NC - Alleged predator priest, now in NC, gets "off the hook"". Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. 19 November 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  19. ^ "2 FORMER NC PRIESTS NAMED IN CHILD SEX ABUSE REPORT". WWAY News. Morris Multimedia. 16 August 2018. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  20. ^ Retrieved 16 February 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ "Two former NC priests named in Pennsylvania clergy sex abuse report". WRAL News. Capitol Broadcasting Company. 16 August 2018. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  22. ^ "2 priests formerly with Catholic Diocese of Raleigh named in child sex abuse report". CBS17. CBS Corporation. 16 August 2018. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  23. ^ "The Diocese". Diocese of Raleigh. Retrieved 2016-02-26.


Sources and external linksEdit