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Our History

In 1789, John Carroll was appointed the first Catholic Bishop in the United States. He headed the Diocese of Baltimore, which comprised the entire U.S. Not until 1820 were the first Dioceses established in the South: Richmond, Va., and Charleston, S.C. Charleston’s territory included the States of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Charleston’s Bishop, the Most Reverend John England, first visited North Carolina in 1821.

In 1868, the State was designated a Vicariate Apostolic, with Bishop James Gibbons installed in Wilmington as its administrator.

The year 1886 saw the ordination of North Carolina’s first native Catholic priest, Father Thomas Frederick Price. Father Price would become known as the “Tar Heel Apostle” for his tireless efforts to spread and establish the Catholic faith in North Carolina. In 1911, he left the State to co-found the Society of Maryknoll. In 2012, Father Price’s Cause for Beatification and Canonization was opened.

The Diocese of Raleigh was established on December 12, 1924, by Pope Pius XI. At the time, the Diocese covered the entire State of North Carolina, with a Catholic population of 6,000. Sacred Heart Church, recently constructed in downtown Raleigh as a parish church, with a seating capacity of 320, was designated the Cathedral for the new Diocese.

By 1972, the Diocese had grown to approximately 70,000 Catholics. That year, at the request of the Most Reverend Vincent S. Waters, third Bishop of Raleigh, Pope Paul VI created the Diocese of Charlotte from the western half of the Raleigh Diocese.

On June 8, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI appointed the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge the fifth Bishop of Raleigh. In 2012 Bishop Burbidge began the campaign to raise funds for a new Cathedral for the Diocese, to be named Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral. Groundbreaking is tentatively scheduled for late 2014.