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Colombian-born bishop chosen by Pope Francis to lead the Diocese of Raleigh

Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama of Colombia, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, has been appointed by Pope Francis as the new bishop of the Diocese of Raleigh.

Zarama, 58, will become the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Raleigh when he is installed at the new Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral on Aug. 29, according to an announcement Wednesday by the apostolic nuncio to the United States.

A news conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. today at the Diocese of Raleigh Catholic Center at 7200 Stonehenge Drive. The conference will be streamed live on YouTube.

The Raleigh vacancy was created when Pope Francis appointed Bishop Michael Burbidge, who had led the Raleigh Diocese since 2006, as bishop of the Diocese of Arlington, Va., last year.

“I give thanks to God for the appointment of Bishop Luis Zarama as the Sixth Bishop of Raleigh,” Burbidge said in a statement Wednesday. “I am proud to call him a brother bishop and good friend.

“Bishop Zarama is a holy, faithful and joyful bishop known and respected for his pastoral skills, administrative abilities, zeal and kindness. I have assured Bishop Zarama that he will be truly blessed with the support of such good priests, consecrated religious, deacons, seminarians, colleagues and lay faithful in the Diocese of Raleigh. I promised Bishop Zarama that he and the Diocese of Raleigh will remain in my daily prayers at this joyful and historic moment and always.”

Zarama was born in Pasto, Colombia. He has been an auxiliary bishop in Atlanta since 2009. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 1993.

He attended the Conciliar Seminary in Pasto, where he graduated from high school, according to the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s website. He earned degrees in theology and philosophy at the Marian University in Pasto and also attended the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia, where he earned a degree in Canon Law. He later was a professor of philosophy and theology at the Carmelites School, the Learning School and the Colombia Military School.

His Raleigh appointment was announced Wednesday in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, according to the Catholic News Service.

“The Holy Father has chosen well even though his decision takes a deeply beloved brother and friend from our midst,” Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta said in a statement Wednesday morning. “We promise him our affectionate best wishes and congratulations on this happy moment for him and for all of God’s People in The Diocese of Raleigh.”

Zarama’s installment will come five weeks after the dedication of the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral at 715 Nazareth Street in Raleigh, scheduled for July 26.

This is a breaking news story. More developments will follow.

Frederick: 919-829-8956. On Twitter: @Eric_Frederick

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