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June 8, 2006


Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, announced at a news conference at the Archdiocesan Office Center in Philadelphia this morning that Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Monsignor Daniel E. Thomas as an Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia. The Cardinal also announced that the Holy Father has appointed Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, currently Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia, as the fifth Bishop of Raleigh in North Carolina.

Bishop-elect Thomas is a native of the Manayunk section of Philadelphia. He attended Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia and Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood and was ordained in 1985. At age 46, he is the second-youngest Bishop in the United States. Bishop-elect Thomas is currently the Pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Strafford, Chester County, but is recently returned from Rome where he served as an official in the Congregation for Bishops at the Vatican for fifteen years. Cardinal Rigali said, "I had the pleasure of having Bishop-elect Thomas working with me for the years that I was Secretary of the Congregation. He is an exemplary priest with a great love for the Church. Bishop-elect Thomas demonstrates a pastoral care for the faithful which I know will only grow as he assists me in ministering to the entire Archdiocese of Philadelphia."

Cardinal Rigali will ordain Bishop-elect Thomas on July 26, 2006 at 2:30 p.m. in the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. At the news conference today, Bishop-elect Thomas told reporters, "I love the Church, I love the priesthood and I love Philadelphia! It will be a singular grace, together with the other auxiliary bishops, to serve my brother priests, the religious and lay faithful here in this Archdiocese which I call home." Bishop-elect Thomas also said, "I accept unreservedly and promise, in communion with the Holy Father and the College of Bishops, to herald, teach and defend the faith of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church."

Daniel E. Thomas was born in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia to Francis P. and the late Anna M. (Weber) Thomas on June 11, 1959. He attended Holy Family Parish Elementary School and is a 1977 graduate of Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia. He graduated from Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania and was ordained in 1985.

He served as Parochial Vicar of Saint Joseph's Parish in Aston beginning in 1985 and then was assigned to Graduate Studies in Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical North American College in Rome in 1987. Father Thomas received the License in Sacred Theology from Pontifical Gregorian University in 1989 and pursued Doctoral Studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1989. He was assigned as an Official of the Congregation for Bishops at the Holy See from 1990 to 2005. He was named a Prelate of Honor with the title Monsignor in 2005 by Pope John Paul II. In 2005, Monsignor Thomas returned to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia assigned as Pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Strafford, Chester County.

In making the announcement of the Holy Father's appointment of Bishop Burbidge as the fifth Bishop of Raleigh, Cardinal Rigali said, "This appointment demonstrates the Holy Father's confidence in Bishop Burbidge. Bishop Burbidge is a skillful leader who will shepherd the people of Raleigh with great care and concern for their spiritual well-being. They will come to know Bishop Burbidge as we do; as a compassionate, wise and faith-filled priest and Bishop. He exhibits deep joy in carrying out his priestly duties and serving in Jesus' name; it is a gift to witness his zeal for his ministry."

At a news conference at his Chancery in Raleigh today, Bishop Burbidge told the media that he was on a family vacation in the Diocese of Raleigh when he learned that Pope John Paul II had appointed him as Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia. Today he expressed his joy in returning to the Diocese as its fifth Bishop. He said, "I conveyed to Pope Benedict in my acceptance letter that I begin this new ministry with total dependence on the Lord's divine assistance and assured him that I will strive daily to be a faithful and dedicated shepherd after the heart of Christ."

Bishop Burbidge also said he will continue to depend upon the prayers and support of all those for whom he has such affection in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as well those in his new Diocesan family.

Bishop Burbidge concluded his press conference in North Carolina by saying, "The last time I was in this Diocese of Raleigh I was on vacation. However, I return now with the mandate to serve and I cannot wait to begin! I entrust my new ministry to Mary our Mother and through her to the Sacred Heart of Her Son Jesus Christ, who is Lord forever!"

Michael F. Burbidge was born in Philadelphia on June 16, 1957to Mr. and Mrs. Francis and Shirley (Lilley) Burbidge, who currently reside in Broomall, Pennsylvania. Father Burbidge graduated from Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary and was ordained in 1984. He served as Parochial Vicar at Saint Bernard Parish in Philadelphia from 1984 to 1986 and taught at Cardinal O'Hara High School in Springfield, Delaware County, from 1986 to 1990. During 1990-91, Father Burbidge served on the faculty of Archbishop Wood High School and became Dean of Students at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in 1991. Father Burbidge served as Administrative Secretary to Cardinal Bevilacqua from 1992 to 1999. In 1998, he was named Honorary Prelate (Monsignor). Monsignor Burbidge was named Rector of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, in 1999. He was ordained a bishop in 2002. He was assigned to the Archdiocesan Office Center to assist the Archbishop with administrative duties and as Regional Bishop to assist the Archbishop with pastoral responsibilities.

Bishop Burbidge also serves as the Chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop' Sapientia Christiana Committee. He was a member of the Committee on Priestly Formation from 2002-2005 and is the Episcopal Moderator of the National Association of the Holy Name Society. He has also been the Chair of the USCCB Conformity Review Team for the Catechism of the Catholic Church since 2005 and is a member of the USCCB Committee on Catechesis.

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Donna Farrell
Director of Communications

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