Raleigh, Diocese of

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Established by Pius XI on Dec. 12, 1924, the Diocese of Raleigh (Dioecesis Raleighiensis ) originally comprised the territory of the entire State of North Carolina, except for the eight counties assigned to the abbatia nullius diocesis of Belmont Abbey, that had been erected in 1910. In 1944 the jurisdiction of the abbot of Belmont was reduced to one county (Gaston), and in 1960, it was limited to the 827 acres of the monastery grounds. It was entirely suppressed in 1977, six years after the Diocese of Charlotte, which consists of the forty-six western counties of North Carolina, had been erected. Since the creation of a second diocese in the state (in 1971), the Diocese of Raleigh includes the fifty-four counties of the eastern part of the state. In 2001, a total Catholic population of 167,537 was reported, out of a total population of 3,697,588. It was served by 63 active diocesan and 53 religious priests, 23 permanent deacons, and 77 women religious.

The vicar general of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, William J. Hafey, became the first bishop of Raleigh upon his episcopal consecration, June 25, 1925. In 1937 he was transferred to the see of Scranton, PA, where in he died in 1954. Previously, the state of North Carolina had been included in the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina (est. 1820), and it was constituted a vicariate apostolic in 1868. The first vicar apostolic was Bishop James Gibbons (18681877), who was followed in turn by Bishops John J. Keane (18781881) and Henry P. Northrup (18821887). During much of this period North Carolina lacked a resident bishop, as these vicars apostolic often served simultaneously as diocesan ordinaries elsewhere. An attempt was made to solve this pastoral difficulty by naming the abbot of Belmont Abbey, Leo M. Haid, O.S.B., as vicar apostolic in 1887. Haid served as both abbot and vicar apostolic until his death in 1924, after which the diocese was erected.

Hafey endeavored to establish a stronger institutional presence for the Church in North Carolina. He succeeded in establishing thirty new parishes (from 61 to 91), and increasing the number of "stations," where Mass was at least occasionally celebrated, from 60 to 154. He recruited several religious congregations of men and women to establish themselves in the new diocese, a few of which focused at least some of their efforts on the evangelization of the African-American population. Immigration into the state was not strong in those early years, and the number of Catholics only rose from about 6,000 to about 10,000. But the number of women religious working in the diocese, mostly in the education and health care apostolates, increased from from 84 to 199.

Eugene J. McGuiness, the second bishop of Raleigh in (19371944), continued many of the pastoral initiatives of Hafey, during a period of modest wartime population growth, until his transfer to the Diocese of Oklahoma City. On April 17, 1944, seven counties that had been assigned to the abbatia nullius diocese of Belmont Abbey (in 1910) were transferred to the jurisdiction of the Raleigh diocese, leaving only Gaston County in care of the abbot-ordinary of Belmont. (Gaston County, save the monastery property itself, was transferred to the diocese in 1960, and the abbatia nullius was suppressed in 1977.) Vincent S. Waters of the Diocese of Richmond, was installed as the third bishop of Raleigh in 1945.

During Waters' thirty years in office, he pursued a vigorous policy of evangelization among his fellow Southerners, and was noted for his socially progressive stances, especially with regard to "the race question." He issued a pastoral letter in 1953 (June 12) ordering the integration of all parishes, schools, and diocesan institutions and organizations, though the vision was not completely fulfilled for many years. After attending the sessions of Vatican Council II, Waters attempted a broad program of education and a cautious implementation of the conciliar and the post-conciliar decrees, which was met with impatience and frustration by a number of the diocesan priests and religious. He died in Raleigh in 1974, in the midst of the celebrations for the diocese's golden jubilee.

The Diocese of Raleigh, which had been a suffragan see of Baltimore was transferred to the Province of Atlanta when that diocese was made an archdiocese in 1962. The Diocese of Charlotte was created with Waters' full cooperation and support in 1971. He also established a diocesan newspaper, the North Carolina Catholic (1946), the North Carolina Laymen's Association, and a creative program for the pastoral training of newly ordained diocesan priests (1945). During Waters' episcopacy, James J. Navagh, Charles B. McLaughlin, and George E. Lynch served as auxiliary bishops in Raleigh, and Joseph Lennox Federal, Joseph L. Howze, and Michael J. Begley, all priests of the diocese, became ordinaries elsewhere. Howze was the first self-acknowledged black ordinary (Biloxi) appointed in the United States.

F. Joseph Gossman, an auxiliary bishop of Baltimore, was appointed the fourth bishop of Raleigh in 1975. In the last quarter of the twentieth century the Catholic population of the diocese rose more rapidly than ever before, as industry relocated workers from the north, immigrants moved into the state from Mexico and Central America, and military facilities expanded, drawing both active-duty and retired military personnel to the region. Retirees from around the country also established themselves in the coastal areas in record numbers. Collegiality, lay ministry, and ecumenical relationships were areas of special concern for Gossman and his administration during these years.

[j. f. garneau]