Former Raleigh bishop dies

Bishop emeritus F. Joseph Gossman (Courtesy: Raleigh Diocese)

August 13, 2013 3:57:47 PM PDT
Bishop emeritus F. Joseph Gossman, the fourth bishop of the Raleigh Diocese, died Monday at the age of 83, following a long illness, according to Diocese officials.

Gossman served as Bishop of Raleigh from 1975 until 2006, when he retired.

Gossman was born in Baltimore on April 1, 1930. He attended St. Charles College and St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1952. He continued studies at the North American College in Rome, obtaining his Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Gregorian University, Rome, in 1956.

Bishop Burbidge celebrated a mass for Gossman on Tuesday at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

"I ask the faithful in the Diocese to join me in praying for the eternal happiness of Bishop Gossman," said current Bishop Michael Burbidge, "and to thank God for the gifts of his priestly example and faithful ministry as Bishop."

When Gossman became Bishop in 1975, just one percent of the state's population was Catholic. By the time he retired in 2006, more than 200,000 members were in eastern North Carolina alone.

Ekele Alphonsus Ngwadom from Nigeria says Gossman was a pioneer who reached out to African communities in the Triangle, and he is the reason there are now Nigerian, Kenyan, and other African Catholic churches here.

"When I moved from New Jersey in '99, there were only few blacks in different churches," said Ngwadom. "It was through his leadership that we were first able to come together."

He says under current Bishop Burbidge, their community continues to grow tremendously.

Burbidge said Gossman was a humble servant who helped local churches handle their new members, and he really reached out to the poor and needy in our area as well.

He was a fervent advocate for the sanctity of life.

The funeral for Gossman will be next Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Saint Michael's in Cary.

» Click here for the full schedule of funeral rites for Bishop Gossman. «

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