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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

122317 curlin smCHARLOTTE — Bishop Emeritus William George Curlin, third Bishop of the Diocese of Charlotte, was laid to rest Jan. 2, 2018, after funeral liturgies at St. Gabriel Church in Charlotte.

Bishop Curlin passed away in the peace of Christ Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017. He was 90 years old.

Champion of the poor, comforter of the sick and the dying, friend of St. Teresa of Calcutta, Bishop Curlin preached the love of Jesus Christ during more than 60 years of priestly ministry, first in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and the past 23 years in the Charlotte diocese. His lifelong commitment to Christ and His Church was epitomized by his episcopal motto “Sentire Cum Christo” (“To Think With Christ”).

“Bishop Curlin was an inspiring and faith-filled shepherd of our diocese who had a special love for the poor and ministry to those who were sick and near death. May he rest in the peace of Christ, knowing that his tireless efforts brought many to salvation in the Lord,” Bishop Peter Jugis said in a statement.

The reception of the body and a vigil prayer service took place at St. Gabriel Church Jan. 1. The homilist at the prayer service on Monday was Father Brian Cook, pastor of St. Leo the Great Church in Winston-Salem. Read the story and see pictures.

The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Tuesday, Jan. 2, also at St. Gabriel Church. After the funeral Mass, Bishop Curlin was buried at Belmont Abbey in Belmont. The principal celebrant for the funeral Mass was Archbishop William E. Lori of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the homilist was Monsignor Anthony Marcaccio, pastor of St. Pius X Church in Greensboro. Bishop Jugis also read a statement of condolence from Pope Francis. Read the story and see pictures.

Born Aug. 30, 1927, in Portsmouth, Va., he was the son of the late Mary Lamont Curlin and the late Stephen James Curlin.

He attended St. John's College in Garrison, N.Y., and Georgetown University before entering St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore.

He was ordained to the priesthood on May 25, 1957, by Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C. For the next three decades, he ministered mostly in poor parishes in the Washington area, where he opened a women’s shelter and 20 soup kitchens and homeless shelters. He also led the opening of Gift of Peace Home, the first home in the nation’s capital for people with AIDS.

His first assignment after ordination was as associate pastor at St. Gabriel Church in Washington. From 1964 to 1967, he was associate pastor in Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Washington. He then moved to St. Ann's Parish in Takoma Park, Md., as associate pastor and assistant director of vocations for men in the Archdiocese of
Washington.

From 1968 to 1970, he served as director of the House of Formation for seminarians at The Catholic University of America in Washington. For the next 13 years, he was pastor of Old St. Mary's Church, also in Washington. While there, he directed a program for the elderly in the inner city and established Mount Carmel House for homeless women. In 1983, he was appointed pastor of Nativity Parish in Washington.

He was ordained an auxiliary bishop of Washington by Cardinal James Hickey on Dec. 20, 1988, and appointed regional bishop of the counties of Southern Maryland.
In other appointments, Bishop Curlin was named vicar of permanent deacons from 1968 to 1981. He was vicar for Theological College, The Catholic University of America from 1974 to 1980. He was appointed chaplain to Pope Paul VI in 1970 and Prelate of Honor by Pope John Paul II in 1978. He also served as chairman of Associated Catholic Charities.

He received the 1984 Community Service Award from the Office of Black Catholics.
Pope John Paul II appointed him the third Bishop of Charlotte on Feb. 22, 1994, and he was installed on April 13, 1994.

During his first visit to the Charlotte diocese after the news of his appointment, Bishop Curlin characterized himself as a parish priest who wanted to remain out among the people.

“I want to come here to help you find the Jesus in everybody,” he said.
Bishop Curlin said he didn't choose to be a bishop, preferring instead his role as parish priest. Even so, the Holy Father wanted him to be a bishop, he said. So, he told people in Charlotte, “As a pastor, my arms are open. As a bishop, my arms are wide open. I can embrace more people.”

Caring for the sick remained one of his particular charisms even after becoming Bishop of Charlotte. He had a longtime devotion to Lourdes, France, and to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (Knights of Malta), which helps lead annual pilgrimages for the sick to the Marian shrine and miraculous place of healing. He accompanied them on numerous pilgrimages to Lourdes, and served as chaplain for the order’s Federal Association, ministering to the “malades” on each pilgrimage.
“When you think about it, everybody goes to Lourdes as a malade,” he once said. “Each of us has some heartache in our life.”

Bishop Curlin was a longtime friend and confessor of St. Teresa. It was during his ministry to the poor and homeless in Washington in the 1970s that he first met Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Bishop Curlin collaborated with her on several projects in the U.S., especially the Gift of Peace Home for AIDS patients, which opened in 1983 in Washington, D.C. When she visited Charlotte in 1995, he also welcomed her order, the Missionaries of Charity, to open a convent in east Charlotte where the sisters continue to care for the poorest and most vulnerable. See complete coverage of that visit.

Their close friendship lasted more than 20 years, until her death in 1997. Bishop Curlin was one of those asked to contribute to the official investigation of her life for the cause for her canonization. She was declared a saint in 2016.

“She saw with an inner vision,” said Bishop Curlin during a memorial Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral two years after St. Teresa’s death. “She saw with her heart. It was her belief that if you want to touch God, you reach down and touch a crying child, a dying person, you feed the homeless or just reach out to the broken-hearted.” That, he recalled, is where Mother Teresa said you would find Jesus, in the least among us.

Bishop Curlin loved to recount the wisdom of St. Teresa in his homilies, conversations and encounters with everyone he met, illustrating how one should follow Christ.

“Mother believed that Christians should be possessed by Jesus alone, and that love drives them out to the streets to serve the most needy,” he said. “She said the greatest hunger is not physical hunger; it is the emptiness of God in us crying out for the fullness of God. The greatest hunger is for God, even if we don’t know Him.”
“Her joy was a gift, one of the precious gifts we need in the world today,” he said, and he practiced that example wherever he went.

During his eight years as the Bishop of Charlotte, he ordained 28 men to the priesthood, including seven men in 2000 – one of the single-largest groups of ordination classes for the Charlotte diocese. That ordination class was also among the largest in the South that year. He also ordained 19 permanent deacons for the diocese – 11 in 1995 and eight in 2001.

In 1997, Bishop Curlin and Bishop Joseph Gossman of the Diocese of Raleigh co-wrote the pastoral letter “Of One Heart and One Mind,” appealing to their dioceses and to all of the state’s people “of good will to reach out to those in dire economic need.” The two bishops invited “Tar Heel Catholics and their neighbors in business, government and the community to ways of ensuring economic justice for everyone.”

122417 Bishop Curlin cathedral entranceThe pastoral letter expressed urgent concern on the condition of the poor in North Carolina and called the local Church to swift and sincere action.

On Sept. 10, 2002, he retired as Bishop of Charlotte but continued to minister to the poor and especially the sick and the dying, regularly visiting Charlotte area hospitals. Before going to bed each night, he would lay out his clothes and shoes in order to be ready for calls to rush to the hospital in the middle of the night.

For years every Christmas, he also visited the residents at Holy Angels, a private, nonprofit corporation located in Belmont that serves children and adults with intellectual developmental disabilities and with delicate medical conditions.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his stepfather, Lt. Col. John Whipple, and his brother, Stephen Curlin.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Bishop Curlin Endowment for the Poor, c/o The Diocese of Charlotte Foundation, 1123 S. Church St., Charlotte, N.C. 28203 or online at https://charlottediocese.thankyou4caring.org/pages/bishop-curlin-memorial-gifts.

Harry & Bryant Co. is in charge of the arrangements.

— Catholic News Herald

See videos from Bishop Curlin's funeral

En Español: El Obispo Emérito William George Curlin

Read more about Bishop Curlin's legacy in the Diocese of Charlotte:

From 2017: ‘60 years later, I am still excited about being a priest’

From 2016: Bishop Emeritus Curlin accepts Fruit of the Vine Award

Bishop Curlin reflects on his friend, St. Teresa of Calcutta

From 2002: Special Edition: Bishop Curlin's retirement

From 1994:

Welcome Bishop William Curlin

Bishop William Curlin to head diocese

122317 curlin smCHARLOTTE — Bishop Emeritus William George Curlin, third Bishop of the Diocese of Charlotte, was laid to rest Jan. 2, 2018, after funeral liturgies at St. Gabriel Church in Charlotte.

Bishop Curlin passed away in the peace of Christ Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017. He was 90 years old.

Champion of the poor, comforter of the sick and the dying, friend of St. Teresa of Calcutta, Bishop Curlin preached the love of Jesus Christ during more than 60 years of priestly ministry, first in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and the past 23 years in the Charlotte diocese. His lifelong commitment to Christ and His Church was epitomized by his episcopal motto “Sentire Cum Christo” (“To Think With Christ”).

“Bishop Curlin was an inspiring and faith-filled shepherd of our diocese who had a special love for the poor and ministry to those who were sick and near death. May he rest in the peace of Christ, knowing that his tireless efforts brought many to salvation in the Lord,” Bishop Peter Jugis said in a statement.

The reception of the body and a vigil prayer service took place at St. Gabriel Church Jan. 1. The homilist at the prayer service on Monday was Father Brian Cook, pastor of St. Leo the Great Church in Winston-Salem. Read the story and see pictures.

The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Tuesday, Jan. 2, also at St. Gabriel Church. After the funeral Mass, Bishop Curlin was buried at Belmont Abbey in Belmont. The principal celebrant for the funeral Mass was Archbishop William E. Lori of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the homilist was Monsignor Anthony Marcaccio, pastor of St. Pius X Church in Greensboro. Bishop Jugis also read a statement of condolence from Pope Francis. Read the story and see pictures.

Born Aug. 30, 1927, in Portsmouth, Va., he was the son of the late Mary Lamont Curlin and the late Stephen James Curlin.

He attended St. John's College in Garrison, N.Y., and Georgetown University before entering St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore.

He was ordained to the priesthood on May 25, 1957, by Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C. For the next three decades, he ministered mostly in poor parishes in the Washington area, where he opened a women’s shelter and 20 soup kitchens and homeless shelters. He also led the opening of Gift of Peace Home, the first home in the nation’s capital for people with AIDS.

His first assignment after ordination was as associate pastor at St. Gabriel Church in Washington. From 1964 to 1967, he was associate pastor in Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Washington. He then moved to St. Ann's Parish in Takoma Park, Md., as associate pastor and assistant director of vocations for men in the Archdiocese of
Washington.

From 1968 to 1970, he served as director of the House of Formation for seminarians at The Catholic University of America in Washington. For the next 13 years, he was pastor of Old St. Mary's Church, also in Washington. While there, he directed a program for the elderly in the inner city and established Mount Carmel House for homeless women. In 1983, he was appointed pastor of Nativity Parish in Washington.

He was ordained an auxiliary bishop of Washington by Cardinal James Hickey on Dec. 20, 1988, and appointed regional bishop of the counties of Southern Maryland.
In other appointments, Bishop Curlin was named vicar of permanent deacons from 1968 to 1981. He was vicar for Theological College, The Catholic University of America from 1974 to 1980. He was appointed chaplain to Pope Paul VI in 1970 and Prelate of Honor by Pope John Paul II in 1978. He also served as chairman of Associated Catholic Charities.

He received the 1984 Community Service Award from the Office of Black Catholics.
Pope John Paul II appointed him the third Bishop of Charlotte on Feb. 22, 1994, and he was installed on April 13, 1994.

During his first visit to the Charlotte diocese after the news of his appointment, Bishop Curlin characterized himself as a parish priest who wanted to remain out among the people.

“I want to come here to help you find the Jesus in everybody,” he said.
Bishop Curlin said he didn't choose to be a bishop, preferring instead his role as parish priest. Even so, the Holy Father wanted him to be a bishop, he said. So, he told people in Charlotte, “As a pastor, my arms are open. As a bishop, my arms are wide open. I can embrace more people.”

Caring for the sick remained one of his particular charisms even after becoming Bishop of Charlotte. He had a longtime devotion to Lourdes, France, and to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (Knights of Malta), which helps lead annual pilgrimages for the sick to the Marian shrine and miraculous place of healing. He accompanied them on numerous pilgrimages to Lourdes, and served as chaplain for the order’s Federal Association, ministering to the “malades” on each pilgrimage.
“When you think about it, everybody goes to Lourdes as a malade,” he once said. “Each of us has some heartache in our life.”

Bishop Curlin was a longtime friend and confessor of St. Teresa. It was during his ministry to the poor and homeless in Washington in the 1970s that he first met Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Bishop Curlin collaborated with her on several projects in the U.S., especially the Gift of Peace Home for AIDS patients, which opened in 1983 in Washington, D.C. When she visited Charlotte in 1995, he also welcomed her order, the Missionaries of Charity, to open a convent in east Charlotte where the sisters continue to care for the poorest and most vulnerable. See complete coverage of that visit.

Their close friendship lasted more than 20 years, until her death in 1997. Bishop Curlin was one of those asked to contribute to the official investigation of her life for the cause for her canonization. She was declared a saint in 2016.

“She saw with an inner vision,” said Bishop Curlin during a memorial Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral two years after St. Teresa’s death. “She saw with her heart. It was her belief that if you want to touch God, you reach down and touch a crying child, a dying person, you feed the homeless or just reach out to the broken-hearted.” That, he recalled, is where Mother Teresa said you would find Jesus, in the least among us.

Bishop Curlin loved to recount the wisdom of St. Teresa in his homilies, conversations and encounters with everyone he met, illustrating how one should follow Christ.

“Mother believed that Christians should be possessed by Jesus alone, and that love drives them out to the streets to serve the most needy,” he said. “She said the greatest hunger is not physical hunger; it is the emptiness of God in us crying out for the fullness of God. The greatest hunger is for God, even if we don’t know Him.”
“Her joy was a gift, one of the precious gifts we need in the world today,” he said, and he practiced that example wherever he went.

During his eight years as the Bishop of Charlotte, he ordained 28 men to the priesthood, including seven men in 2000 – one of the single-largest groups of ordination classes for the Charlotte diocese. That ordination class was also among the largest in the South that year. He also ordained 19 permanent deacons for the diocese – 11 in 1995 and eight in 2001.

In 1997, Bishop Curlin and Bishop Joseph Gossman of the Diocese of Raleigh co-wrote the pastoral letter “Of One Heart and One Mind,” appealing to their dioceses and to all of the state’s people “of good will to reach out to those in dire economic need.” The two bishops invited “Tar Heel Catholics and their neighbors in business, government and the community to ways of ensuring economic justice for everyone.”

122417 Bishop Curlin cathedral entranceThe pastoral letter expressed urgent concern on the condition of the poor in North Carolina and called the local Church to swift and sincere action.

On Sept. 10, 2002, he retired as Bishop of Charlotte but continued to minister to the poor and especially the sick and the dying, regularly visiting Charlotte area hospitals. Before going to bed each night, he would lay out his clothes and shoes in order to be ready for calls to rush to the hospital in the middle of the night.

For years every Christmas, he also visited the residents at Holy Angels, a private, nonprofit corporation located in Belmont that serves children and adults with intellectual developmental disabilities and with delicate medical conditions.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his stepfather, Lt. Col. John Whipple, and his brother, Stephen Curlin.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Bishop Curlin Endowment for the Poor, c/o The Diocese of Charlotte Foundation, 1123 S. Church St., Charlotte, N.C. 28203 or online at https://charlottediocese.thankyou4caring.org/pages/bishop-curlin-memorial-gifts.

Harry & Bryant Co. is in charge of the arrangements.

— Catholic News Herald

See videos from Bishop Curlin's funeral

En Español: El Obispo Emérito William George Curlin

Read more about Bishop Curlin's legacy in the Diocese of Charlotte:

From 2017: ‘60 years later, I am still excited about being a priest’

From 2016: Bishop Emeritus Curlin accepts Fruit of the Vine Award

Bishop Curlin reflects on his friend, St. Teresa of Calcutta

From 2002: Special Edition: Bishop Curlin's retirement

From 1994:

Welcome Bishop William Curlin

Bishop William Curlin to head diocese

Bishop Curlin: In his own words

BISHOP CURLIN: IN HIS OWN WORDS

Editor’s note: On Feb. 4, 2000, Bishop William G. Curlin met with Campus Ministry retreat participants. The bishop shared stories from 47 years of priesthood, ranging from his own ministry and stories of faith to vocations. He began by telling the college students, “I am a born optimist,” thus setting the tone of his comments. Following are excerpts from that talk:

I was ordained in 1957 and was assigned to a very active parish, and became very involved with the parish and adjacent school. Frequently the Mother Superior would call me in to help with the children, which was a joyful task.

Soon after I was ordained, Pope Pius XII died in 1958 and out of nowhere came Pope John XXIII. We fell in love with him. He opened the doors to the Church. This Holy Father opened the world to us. He didn’t say to me as a priest, “Go out into the world and be worldly.” Rather, he challenged us to bring our deep sense of faith to the people. He encouraged us to take the Good News of Jesus out where the people are and see what they’re going through, and help nourish them in their journey.

In the priesthood, when people are hurting, you don’t say, “Well, I’ll say a prayer for you and offer a blessing.” You’ve got to be there and hold their hand, bind up their wounds.

I didn’t become a priest to swing incense, to light candles. Certainly these are important symbols, and I appreciate that. I became a priest because I wanted to take my faith in Jesus and let it grow, and then express that faith in a way that brings it to others.

Mother Teresa has been the greatest influence of my life. I think the Lord Himself sent her to me. God empowers me as Mother Teresa did. “God sends you out,” she would say. “Go and find the poor, the hurting people.” It’s not a social thing, it’s not pity. Compassion: That is what Jesus had. So I believe He nourishes me through the Eucharist as I do with the faithful. He heals me through confession when I make mistakes. He empowers me with the grace of confirmation with the Holy Spirit. He guides me in prayer. When I look around, I believe with my faith. I believe the face of God is here.

What is a Christian? It’s not a person who carries their faith on their sleeve. I think there are little conversions constantly; you begin to understand more. And grow with forgiveness, patience, kindness and love while seeing the face of God around us. This is nourished by the Eucharist and by prayers. It is nourished by the Scriptures and by people like you who inspire us. Gradually you grow in your faith and suddenly realize what St. Paul said, “It’s not me. It’s Christ in me.”

If all this sounds too pious or idealistic, forgive me. It has made me very happy for 47 years. I believe we see Christianity in the presence of God you receive at baptism, and are powered by presence in the Eucharist and in sacrament and prayers. He walks the earth in you.

You have to keep growing in your life. Isn’t the Church asking us to study and come to retreats like this and to challenge one another? We’re trying to grow in Christ. We’re trying to build Christ in one another. When a mother picks up a child and nourishes that child, or holds him when he’s crying, it is Christ holding that child.

When you live in that vision, every day is beautiful. Every day is exciting. I am more excited now than when I was first ordained. I envy you because your life is here in front of you. And if I could, I would do it all over again.

‘Everything I have kept I will lose. Everything that I have given away is mine forever.’
—  Bishop William Curlin, Quoting the late Bishop John McNamara, his old pastor in Washington, D.C.

On Mother Teresa

Bishop Curlin was a longtime friend and confessor of St. Teresa of Calcutta. He met Mother Teresa in the early 1970s when he was the pastor of a poor parish in Washington, D.C. Their friendship lasted more than 20 years, until her death in 1997. He collaborated with her on several projects in the U.S., especially the Gift of Peace Home for AIDS patients, which opened in 1983 in Washington, D.C. And her ministry, the Missionaries of Charity, has a convent in east Charlotte where members of her order have cared for the poorest and most vulnerable since 1995, when Mother Teresa visited Charlotte and was keynote speaker for an ecumenical prayer service at the Charlotte Coliseum for more than 19,000 people.

After her death, Bishop Curlin was one of those asked to contribute to the official investigation of her life for the cause for her canonization. She was declared a saint in 2016.

“She saw with an inner vision,” said Bishop Curlin during a memorial Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral two years after her death. “She saw with her heart. It was her belief that if you want to touch God, you reach down and touch a crying child, a dying person, you feed the homeless or just reach out to the broken-hearted.” That, he recalled, is where Mother Teresa said you will find Jesus, in the least among us.

“The greatest miracle of her life was ... one tiny little woman who had only faith and love ... And with those two virtues, she raised the hearts of the world.” With this, he said, she inspired countless millions to want to do the same.

Bishop Curlin noted that “All for Jesus” was her motto, and she really believed through each of us, Jesus is made present in this world.

“Mother believed that Christians should be possessed by Jesus alone, and that love drives them out to the streets to serve the most needy. She said the greatest hunger is not physical hunger; it is the emptiness of God in us crying out for the fullness of God. The greatest hunger is for God, even if we don’t know Him.”

He said, “It’s your life that proves you are a Christian ... The love that comes out of you which is Christ-centered and reaches another person.”

“Her joy was a gift, one of the precious gifts we need in the world today,” he said with admiration, and he practiced this every day with every person he encountered.

On Lourdes

Bishop Curlin had a longtime devotion to Lourdes, France, and to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (Knights of Malta) which helps lead annual pilgrimages for the sick to this shrine and miraculous place of healing.

It was in Lourdes that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the young Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 and revealed herself as the “Immaculate Conception.” She also told Bernadette to dig in the ground at a certain spot and to drink from the small spring of water that began to bubble up. Almost immediately, cures were reported from drinking the water. Today, millions of pilgrims each year come to Lourdes to drink or bathe in water flowing from a spring in the grotto.

The Knights of Malta ful­fill dreams for dozens of afflicted individuals who would otherwise only yearn for the blessing rendered in Lourdes. Malades (French for ailing or invalid) and their companions are escorted by members of the Federal Association, headquar­tered in Washington, D.C., on the annual pilgrim­age.

Bishop Curlin, a chaplain for the Federal As­sociation, often accompanied the group on their pilgrimage.

“When you think about it, ev­erybody goes to Lourdes as a malade,” he once said. “Each of us has some heartache in our life.” Pilgrims don’t travel to Lourdes for a physical healing, he said. “They go for a greater courage, a deeper faith, the ability to face life and not be conquered by it.”

On those in economic need

In November 1997, Bishop Curlin and Raleigh Bishop Joseph Gossman appealed to their dioceses with a plea to all of the state’s people, “of good will to reach out to those in dire economic need.” In their pastoral letter “Of One Heart and One Mind,” the two bishops invited “Tar Heel Catholics and their neighbors in business, government and the community to ways of ensuring economic justice for ev­eryone.” The pastoral letter expressed urgent concern on a specific topic and called the Church to swift and sincere action.

From the pastoral letter:

“... As followers of Jesus Christ our Lord, and as pastoral leaders of the Roman Catholic commu­nity in North Carolina, we feel compelled to express our grave con­cern for the children, women and men in our state who lack suffi­cient economic means to live full and fruitful lives.”

“We write to ask you, our sis­ters and brothers, to embrace with us our Church’s responsibility to help shape our world so that the God-given dignity of every human being will be acknowledged, respected and protected.”
‘Throughout my life as a priest, I can honestly say I have tried my best to reflect the life of Jesus. I am sure I have made many mistakes, God forgive me. But they were not intentional.’

Bishop Curlin celebrated 60 years of priesthood

Published June 22, 2017 on CatholicNewsHerald.com:

‘60 years later, I am still excited about being a priest’

062317 bishop curlin stepsA joyful ministry: Bishop Curlin celebrates 60 years of priesthood

“For 60 years, God in His mercy, has allowed me to be His priest that I might keep Him alive in you, in countless souls like you. That your ministry has increased His presence in the world and you might be living and joyful. That’s what I thank God for today.”

Champion of the poor, comforter of the sick and dying, friend of St. Teresa of Calcutta, beloved pastor and third Bishop of the Diocese of Charlotte – all are apt descriptions of Bishop Emeritus William G. Curlin, who celebrated his 60th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood May 25, 2017.
Bishop Curlin celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving in honor of his 60th jubilee on May 20 at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Charlotte, surrounded by brother priests, friends and fellow members of the Order of Malta with whom he has served alongside for decades.

During his homily, Bishop Curlin reminisced about his life as a priest.

“I remember ordination eve, we were at Catholic University… I remember I was so excited thinking about what was going to happen tomorrow, to become a priest. I went down to the chapel around midnight. I remember going back to my room and getting dressed in the morning. I was so excited to be a priest,” he recalled.

“I can say 60 years later, I am still excited about being a priest. I love it. I thank God every day that despite all my limitations, my lack of talents and I am sure my many mistakes, that God allowed me to be a priest.”

Bishop Curlin shared what Washington Bishop John McNamara had told him just days after ordaining him to the priesthood in 1957: his whole family that had been at the ordination Mass – parents, grandparents, siblings, etc. – would all die over time, leaving him increasingly alone.

061717 curlin shield“Bishop McNamara said, ‘If you love the people that you serve, ask nothing but to love and accept them. They will become your family.’ And this morning, you are all my family… God knows I try my best to love you as best I can.”

Bishop Curlin reminisced about the long days he spent, especially as a young priest, visiting the sick, responding to emergency calls and offering the sacraments.

“As a young priest I had boundless energy. I was always working … I look back and think what wonderful days. I miss the energy I had at that age!

“To be a priest, you say to yourself, ‘This man or this woman, a young person – they come to me expecting to find and see Jesus.’ It’s not a job. It’s not just vestments. We’re supposed to reflect in our life an intimacy so profound that you see the presence of Jesus.”

Pictured at top: Bishop William Curlin stands on the staircase built in his honor at St. Patrick Cathedral in Charlotte in 2013. (Photo by SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Herald) “The new cathedral stairs that we dedicate today help us ascend to the house of God," Bishop Peter Jugis noted during the Oct. 13, 2013, dedication ceremony. The new entrance "is a sign of our deep gratitude to you, Bishop Curlin, for the many years you have served the people of God here in the Diocese of Charlotte, first as bishop from 1994 through 2002 and then as bishop emeritus still very actively involved in serving the people of God from 2002 up through the present and into the future. By means of this dedication today, we ask God’s abundant blessings upon you for many more years of fruitful service to the Church here in the Diocese of Charlotte.”

At the conclusion of the anniversary Mass, Father Mark Lawlor, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church, thanked Bishop Curlin for his unfailing presence at the parish over the past two decades. He has dedicated the church building, the columbarium, the parish ministry center and the daily Mass chapel.

“You are always welcome here,” Father Lawlor told him.

Father Lawlor also read a letter to Bishop Curlin from the Holy See dated May 11, written by Angelo Becciu, an assistant to the Holy Father and a delegate for the Knights of Malta: “Your Excellency, the Holy Father was pleased to learn that you will soon celebrate the 60th anniversary of your priestly ordination and he has asked me to convey his good wishes and his assurance of his closeness in prayer.

“On this happy occasion, His Holiness joins you in thanking almighty God for the many blessings bestowed on the Church throughout your priestly and Episcopal ministry. He prays that your Apostolic labors to spread the Gospel will continue to bear abundant fruit. The building up of Christ’s body in faith, hope and love.”

The Holy Father then imparted his apostolic blessing through the letter.

The Order of Malta also honored Bishop Curlin with a reception after Mass, during which he was given an album containing letters of congratulations from the Vatican, archbishops and bishops from around the U.S., and photos of him serving in ministry throughout the years.

He was also shown a video featuring people wishing him a happy anniversary, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore.

Joe Tronco of the Order of Malta served as emcee at the reception. He and several Knights and Dames of the order recounted Bishop Curlin’s tireless efforts to start the order in the Charlotte diocese and expand the charitable works of the organization.

“I think about 60 years, and even the five years in the seminary before that – you have about two-thirds of a century this man has given to helping other people,” Tronco said. “And the last 23 years here in Charlotte. I don’t know how we were so blessed. I think God did have a mission.”

Tronco has witnessed firsthand the influence Bishop Curlin has had on so many lives, not just in the diocese or even in the U.S., but in Lourdes as well. He recounted asking Cardinal Dolan to share a message for Bishop Curlin’s 60th anniversary.

“He (Cardinal Dolan) said, ‘Father Bill? Bill Curlin?’ He said, ‘Of course I will give him a message,’” Tronco recalled.

During the reception, the board of Holy Angels of Belmont also presented Bishop Curlin with an award for his longtime service to their ministry, dedicating the new and improved clinic in the Holy Angels main facility in his name. It will now be called the Bishop Curlin Clinic.

Tronco shared some of the board’s reasons for doing so, paraphrasing some of their comments.

“Ever since Bishop Curlin has come to Charlotte, he has come to Holy Angels for Christmas to spend time with those children of God who may not quite know who he is but he brings a smile and joy to their lives. So they look forward to him coming. He is always giving of himself.”

061717 curlin 10In a photo from about 1990, then-Washington Auxiliary Bishop William Curlin poses with his friend, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, after an early morning Mass at the Gift of Peace home, where her Missionaries of Charity care for people with AIDS and other serious illnesses, and for the elderly, poor and homeless. Mother Teresa and Cardinal James Hickey, then the archbishop of Washington, founded Gift of Peace in 1986. Bishop Curlin served as the home's longtime chaplain. (Catholic Standard photo by Mark Zimmermann)Bishop Curlin recalled advice that St. Teresa of Calcutta told him on his second visit to India.

“She said to me, ‘When you feed a poor person, or look at someone who is hurting, your eyes reflect His love, your hands are His hands. Everything about you is Jesus.’
“Throughout my life as a priest, I can honestly say I have tried my best to reflect the life of Jesus. I am sure I have made many mistakes, God forgive me. But they were not intentional.”

“I have often said to myself, if God would let me live another life here on earth, I would still say, ‘Lord, please give me the call to be one of your priests again.’ There have been difficult times, as in everyone’s life, but the Christ in you lifts you above these problems and you see them through your relationship with Jesus.”

Bishop Curlin explained that his ministry is to guide people, to offer the Eucharist and the sacraments, to nourish people so that they take their ministry outside the church walls.

“My job is to increase your ministry of Jesus,” he said. “Once you identify with Christ, everything changes. This life through you Christ shines. It’s not just you, it is God in you. Your hands are the hands of Jesus. He looks through your eyes. He speaks with your lips. The task of the priest is to keep that message alive, that hope alive, that presence alive in you.

“For 60 years, God in His mercy, has allowed me to be His priest that I might keep Him alive in you, in countless souls like you. That your ministry has increased His presence in the world and you might be living and joyful. That’s what I thank God for today.”

— SueAnn Howell, senior reporter

 

 
 
Milestones

May 25, 1957 – Ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
1957 – Assistant to Bishop John McNamara, St. Gabriel’s Parish in Washington, D.C.
1964 – Assistant Pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Takoma Park, Md.
1967 – Assistant Director of Vocations for Men and Assistant at St. Ann’s Parish in Washington, D.C.
1968 – Director of Vocations for Men and Director of Formation Program, Catholic University of America, for Washington candidates for the priesthood
1969 – Appointed Chaplain to Pope Paul VI
1970 – Pastor of Old St. Mary’s Church in Washington, D.C.; Director of Vocations for Men and Director of Permanent Diaconate Program for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
1978 – Appointed Prelate of Honor by Pope John Paul II
1983 – Pastor of Nativity Church in Washington, D.C.
1988 – Ordained as Auxiliary Bishop of Washington, D.C.
1994 – Installed as Bishop of Charlotte
September 2002 – Retired as Bishop of Charlotte

 

010317 curlin 2Bishop Curlin is pictured with Father Mark Lawlor, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Charlotte, in January 2017.

061717 curlin2Bishop Curlin is pictured with his successor, Bishop Peter Jugis, after the annual Chrism Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral. (Photo by SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Herald)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Pastoral Letter: 'Of One Heart and One Mind'

Pastoral Letter: 'Of One Heart and One Mind'

061717 curlin 4In November 1997, Bishop Curlin and Raleigh Bishop Joseph Gossman appealed to all of the state’s people “of good will to reach out to those in dire economic need.” In their joint pastoral letter “Of One Heart and One Mind,” the two bishops invited “Tar Heel Catholics and their neighbors in business, government and the community to ways of ensuring economic justice for ev­eryone.” The pastoral letter expressed urgent concern on a specific topic and called the Church to swift and sincere action.

From the pastoral letter:

“...As followers of Jesus Christ our Lord, and as pastoral leaders of the Roman Catholic commu­nity in North Carolina, we feel compelled to express our grave con­cern for the children, women and men in our state who lack suffi­cient economic means to live full and fruitful lives.”

“We write to ask you, our sisters and brothers, to embrace with us our Church’s responsibility to help shape our world so that the God-given dignity of every human being will be acknowledged, respected and protected.”

— Catholic News Herald

Read the North Carolina bishops' entire joint pastoral letter: pdfOf One Heart and One Mind

 

Bishop Curlin on Mother Teresa

Bishop Curlin on Mother Teresa

062317 bishop curlin mother teresaBishop Curlin with his friend Mother Teresa when she visited Charlotte, N.C., in 1995. (Catholic News Herald archive photo)Bishop Curlin was a longtime friend and confessor of St. Teresa of Calcutta. He met Mother Teresa in the early 1970s when he was the pastor of a poor parish in Washington, D.C. Their friendship lasted more than 20 years, until her death in 1997. He collaborated with her on several projects in the U.S., especially the Gift of Peace Home for AIDS patients, which opened in 1983 in Washington, D.C. And her ministry, the Missionaries of Charity, has a convent in east Charlotte where members of her order have cared for the poorest and most vulnerable since 1995, when Mother Teresa visited Charlotte and was keynote speaker for an ecumenical prayer service at the Charlotte Coliseum for more than 19,000 people.
After her death, Bishop Curlin was one of those asked to contribute to the official investigation of her life for the cause for her canonization. She was declared a saint in 2016.
“She saw with an inner vision,” said Bishop Curlin during a memorial Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral two years after her death. “She saw with her heart. It was her belief that if you want to touch God, you reach down and touch a crying child, a dying person, you feed the homeless or just reach out to the broken-hearted.” That, he recalled, is where Mother Teresa said you will find Jesus, in the least among us.
“The greatest miracle of her life was ... one tiny little woman who had only faith and love ... And with those two virtues, she raised the hearts of the world.” With this, he said, she inspired countless millions to want to do the same.
Bishop Curlin notes that “All for Jesus” was her motto, and she really believed through each of us, Jesus is made present in this world.
“Mother believed that Christians should be possessed by Jesus alone, and that love drives them out to the streets to serve the most needy. She said the greatest hunger is not physical hunger; it is the emptiness of God in us crying out for the fullness of God. The greatest hunger is for God, even if we don’t know Him.”
He adds, “It’s your life that proves you are a Christian ... The love that comes out of you which is Christ-centered and reaches another person.”
“Her joy was a gift, one of the precious gifts we need in the world today,” he says with admiration, adding that he tries to practice this wherever he goes.

Bishop Curlin on those with AIDS

Bishop Curlin on those with AIDS

061717 curlin 10In a photo from about 1990, then-Washington Auxiliary Bishop William Curlin poses with his friend, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, after an early morning Mass at the Gift of Peace home, where her Missionaries of Charity care for people with AIDS and other serious illnesses, and for the elderly, poor and homeless. Mother Teresa and Cardinal James Hickey, then the archbishop of Washington, founded Gift of Peace in 1986. Bishop Curlin served as the home's longtime chaplain. (Catholic Standard photo by Mark Zimmermann)Bishop Curlin has been known for his long-time support of those suffering from HIV/AIDS. When the AIDS crisis was still new and many people were afraid to even touch those suffering from the incurable illness, he helped to establish Gift of Peace, a resi­dential home for people with AlDS in Washington, D.C., run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, and he served as its chaplain.

When he moved to Charlotte, he encouraged support for the Sisters of Mercy’s House of AIDS, a residence in Belmont that was founded in 1991 for low-income AIDS patients who could no longer care for themselves.

He also celebrated a special healing Mass for people with HIV or AIDS, as well as their families, friends and caregivers at St. Patrick Cathedral on July 26, 1994. For the diocese, it was a first. Twenty-three priests concelebrated the healing Mass as Bishop Curlin offered people who suffer from or deal with the deadly disease the as­surance of Christ’s love.

“We’re not here because it’s the thing to do,” he said in his homily. “We’re not here for some political reason. We’re not here for any­thing except this: That we believe there is a God of mercy and love and heal­ing power.”

Bishop Curlin and Lourdes

Bishop Curlin and Lourdes

061717 curlin1Bishop Curlin has had a longtime devotion to Lourdes, France, and to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (Knights of Malta) which helps lead annual pilgrimages for the sick to this shrine and miraculous place of healing.

It was in Lourdes that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the young Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 and revealed herself as the “Immaculate Conception.” She also told Bernadette to dig in the ground at a certain spot and to drink from the small spring of water that began to bubble up. Almost immediately cures were reported from drinking the water. Today, millions of pilgrims each year come to Lourdes to drink or bathe in water flowing from a spring in the grotto.

The Knights of Malta ful­fill dreams for dozens of afflicted individuals who would otherwise only yearn for the blessing rendered in Lourdes. Malades (French for ailing or invalid) and their compan­ions are escorted by members of the Federal Association, headquar­tered in Washington, D.C., on the annual pilgrim­age.

Bishop Curlin, a chaplain for the Federal As­sociation, often accompanied the group on their pilgrimage.

“When you think about it, ev­erybody goes to Lourdes as a malade,” he once said. “Each of us has some heartache in our life.”
Pilgrims don’t travel to Lourdes for a physical healing, he said. “They go for a greater courage, a deeper faith, the ability to face life and not be conquered by it.”

062317 bishop curlin lourdes(Photos provided by the Order of Malta)

Bishop Curlin reminisces

Bishop Curlin reminisces

Editor’s note: On Feb. 4, 2000, Bishop William G. Curlin met with Campus Ministry retreat participants. The bishop shared stories from 47 years of priesthood, ranging from his own ministry and stories of faith to vocations. He began by telling the college students, “I am a born optimist,” thus setting the tone of his comments. Following are excerpts from that talk:
I was ordained in 1957 and was assigned to a very active parish, and became very involved with the parish and adjacent school. Frequently the Mother Superior would call me in to help with the children, which was a joyful task.

Soon after I was ordained, Pope Pius XII died in 1958 and out of nowhere came Pope John XXIII. We fell in love with him. He opened the doors to the Church. This Holy Father opened the world to us. He didn’t say to me as a priest, “Go out into the world and be worldly.” Rather, he challenged us to bring our deep sense of faith to the people. He encouraged us to take the Good News of Jesus out where the people are and see what they’re going through, and help nourish them in their journey.

In the priesthood, when people are hurting, you don’t say, “Well, I’ll say a prayer for you and offer a blessing.” You’ve got to be there and hold their hand, bind up their wounds.

I didn’t become a priest to swing incense, to light candles. Certainly these are important symbols, and I appreciate that. I became a priest because I wanted to take my faith in Jesus and let it grow, and then express that faith in a way that brings it to others.

Mother Teresa has been the greatest influence of my life. I think the Lord Himself sent her to me. God empowers me as Mother Teresa did. “God sends you out,” she would say. “Go and find the poor, the hurting people.” It’s not a social thing, it’s not pity. Compassion: That is what Jesus had. So I believe He nourishes me through the Eucharist as I do with the faithful. He heals me through confession when I make mistakes. He empowers me with the grace of confirmation with the Holy Spirit. He guides me in prayer. When I look around, I believe with my faith. I believe the face of God is here.

What is a Christian? It’s not a person who carries their faith on their sleeve. I think there are little conversions constantly; you begin to understand more. And grow with forgiveness, patience, kindness and love while seeing the face of God around us. This is nourished by the Eucharist and by prayers. It is nourished by the Scriptures and by people like you who inspire us. Gradually you grow in your faith and suddenly realize what St. Paul said, “It’s not me. It’s Christ in me.”

If all this sounds too pious or idealistic, forgive me. It has made me very happy for 47 years. I believe we see Christianity in the presence of God you receive at baptism, and are powered by God's presence in the Eucharist and in sacrament and prayers. He walks the earth in you.

You have to keep growing in your life. Isn’t the Church asking us to study and come to retreats like this and to challenge one another? We’re trying to grow in Christ. We’re trying to build Christ in one another. When a mother picks up a child and nourishes that child, or holds him when he’s crying, it is Christ holding that child.

When you live in that vision, every day is beautiful. Every day is exciting. I am more excited now than when I was first ordained. I envy you because your life is here in front of you. And if I could, I would do it all over again.

— Catholic News Herald

Commentary: ‘Father Bill’ shares his love of Jesus with everyone

‘Father Bill’ shares his love of Jesus with everyone

061717 curlin3Bishop Curlin blesses a child at Holy Angels in Belmont, N.C., a home for children and adults with intellectual developmental disabilities and delicate medical conditions. Holy Angels recently named its clinic in honor of Bishop Curlin. (Catholic News Herald file photo)This year Bishop Emeritus William G. Curlin celebrates his 60th anniversary as a priest. His calling has touched so many lives throughout the U.S. and the world. Truly “Father Bill” is a man who found his calling when he was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., in 1957.

Father Bill has a gift of gab that anyone would marvel at. He has never met a stranger or someone he doesn’t have the inclination to inspire, engage or help. He shares the same joy with everyone he meets.

He had a close relationship with Mother Teresa, visiting her to give retreats in India as well as ministering to her congregations in the U.S. He has rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous and the down and out, and he engages them all with the same level of kindness and priority. He has a gift to touch hearts through his homilies or more intimately at retreats for priests and the religious.

His last Christmas letter recounted the time he was able to spend with a dying child and how privileged he felt to have the chance to serve at that important moment in the family’s life. He recounted being called to the child’s home by his doctor, who told him the child would probably live only a few hours. Sensing that the child was frightened, Father Bill held him and asked him if he remembered the previous Christmas when he had been so excited about the Christmas decorations. Father Bill told him he would soon have a special Christmas, where Jesus would come and take him to “Christmas Land” and he would no longer suffer. The child began to smile and asked when Jesus would come. Father Bill told him he would soon fall asleep and be placed in the arms of Jesus. Soon after, the child died smiling.

Pastor, vocations director, monsignor, bishop and confessor to many – Father Bill’s real passion is to pastor people and to share their joys and sorrows along their spiritual journey.

Those who encounter him never know much about what is bothering him, other than a fierce determination to share his faith. He has experienced difficulties from his own medical battles with cancer, but these battles have enriched his ministering, as he knows first-hand the challenges that illness and aging bring.

At age 14 he started a budding career as a page for the Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, and he was intrigued with the Washington political scene. But God had other plans for him that were shaped by his mother’s devotion to Mary and his own internal calling to be a parish priest.

As a young priest it was difficult to catch a few minutes with Father Bill as he raced from a meeting or a hospital room to a phone call to listen to someone’s troubles or answer the door as someone came calling for a handout or a shoulder to cry on. But he was always respectful of people’s time and had a word of encouragement to offer everyone. Not much has changed.

During Father Bill’s first assignment at St. Gabriel’s Parish in Washington, D.C., police called him after a man was poised to jump off the roof of a downtown hotel. Before doing so, the man had written a phone number on a slip of paper – it was the number of Father Bill’s church. Father Bill took the call and proceeded to the hotel. He climbed to the roof and spent over an hour talking to the young man. He was able to convince him to move away from the edge, that jumping was not the answer to his problems. Father Bill said later, “He was a troubled soul who needed prayers.” The police sergeant said, “I do not know what Father said to the young man, but whatever it was, it was marvelous.”

Usually someone with those qualities does not have the ability to lead or serve as an administrator. Father Bill found a way to keep funds flowing whether as the Bishop of Charlotte or at an impoverished inner city parish. In the 1970s when he was pastor of Old St. Mary’s Church in northwest Washington, he brought together young suburban couples to clean the church, ensure the meals for the aging members continued and do what it took to keep the parish going. All of this he did while still ministering to new vocations and helping Mother Teresa open the Gift of Peace, a resi­dential home for people with AlDS in northwest Washington, after the AIDS crisis emerged in the 1970s.

To the priests he ordained, he urged them to value the privilege of offering Mass for their flocks, and to love them as Jesus loves them: “Say this Mass as if it is your first Mass, your last Mass, your only Mass.” Truly, he believes, a parish priest without the love of his parishioners cannot find the joy that Jesus intends for him as a priest.

As Father recently reflected on his journey, “God has been so good to me and I hope to continue for another 10 years or until He calls me home.” He lives on his own in Charlotte and continues to say Mass for the Missionaries of Charity there. He continues to visit the sick and dying. He loves to hear from the many friends who have enriched his life with their love and faith.

Bishop Curlin – “Father Bill” to so many people – encourages us all, by word and example, to love one another as Christ loves us and to love Christ in one another. This is his continuing prayer for us all.

— Dean DeBuck is a freelance writer from McLean, Va.

 

Commentary: ‘It is obvious he loves being a priest'

‘It is obvious he loves being a priest'

Priests reflect on Bishop Curlin as friend, mentor

061717 curlin 6(Catholic News Herald archive photo)Many priests of the Diocese of Charlotte met Bishop William Curlin before he moved here in 1994, as he was the vocations director for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and visited many seminaries. Others came to know him as they enrolled in seminary here and were ordained by him. Here are some of their reflections about their friendship with him on the occasion of his 60th anniversary of the priesthood:

 

Monsignor Anthony Marcaccio, pastor of St. Pius X Church, Greensboro

It was a privilege to live and work as Bishop Curlin’s priest secretary. As the bishop celebrates this milestone anniversary of ordination, I have to say it is not the length of his priesthood that impresses me but the love that he puts into it. His life is a life hitting its mark. I just can’t imagine him doing anything else as well or as excellent.
The metric of success for these 60 years of priesthood is the joy that he has brought to so many people through the conviction that they are loved by God. I love to make the bishop laugh, and while he may be one of the most genuinely pious priests I know, I have never sent him a religious card for any occasion. Instead, I look for something hilarious or ridiculous that I know with our sense of humor he will appreciate. It kind of keeps it real, like brothers and just good friends.
One of the great qualities of Bishop Curlin’s style of leadership was that he could change his mind. He might have, or the diocese might have, envisioned some direction or course for ministry and in the doing of it realized something else would be stronger, better suited or a more positive ministerial option for some very good reason. As bishop he would listen to his various councils, consultors and advisors among the laity. I appreciated his example of how the Church in this day and age can adapt to particular circumstances without compromising the mission or the splendor of God’s truth.

 

Father Brian Cook, pastor of St. Leo the Great Church, Winston-Salem

Bishop Curlin and I have been friends for 53 years. He was the young assistant in my home parish and arrived there in 1964 just in time for my first Communion. He gave me my first Communion.
He was the driving influence on a personal level of my studying for the priesthood. He has an ability to draw people to himself; it’s not a personality thing, it’s ‘Come and see what the work of the Lord is about. Come and see the work of God’s mercy in action.’
The day I finally got the guts to go and talk to him about studying for the priesthood, I rang the rectory door and his secretary answered. I asked, ‘Is Monsignor here?’ And she said, ‘Well, sort of. He’s out back scrubbing out the dumpster.’ And he was!
He was the vocations director for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and accepted me into the program. The night I told my parents I was going to study for the priesthood, he happened to drop by our house and we told them the news together.
He has been at every wedding, every family funeral – he’s just been an integral part of my family.
I think some of the qualities that make Bishop Curlin such a wonderful shepherd is that he understands what it means to be a compassionate shepherd. He understands what it means to bring people along, to accept them where they are on their journey of faith and invite them to grow.
He has the personal touch. When he was the pastor of a very poor parish in Washington, he had the ability to bring people from all over the Washington area to worship and then to serve. He has always seen the intimate connection between faith and putting that faith into action. We scrubbed floors, we helped the elderly people in the projects across the street with their needs. We had a soup kitchen for them. He was back in the kitchen making soup, ladling soup. There was no work in that parish that he was not a part of.
I watched him transform the lives of priests who were having a tough time, including myself in my own career.
When I was a newly ordained priest, I was sitting in my office in a suburban parish in Maryland one night when I heard a tap on my office window. It was Monsignor Curlin, so I ran to the door and let him in. He said he’d just gotten off a plane from New York City and had a meeting with Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and she wanted to open a house in Washington for people with HIV/AIDS.
He said, ‘Would you be interested in helping me with that work?’ I gulped and said, ‘Yeah, I sure would. I’m in!’ So that was a huge privilege for me as a young priest. It was a marvelous experience. Once again, that kind of tender and compassionate care was evident.
If I’ve done anything good in my priesthood, chances are Bishop Curlin had something to do with it because he taught me everything I know. That sense of accepting people where they are, to not judge people, to always remember God’s mercy.
The impact he has had for me personally, for the people at the parishes where he has served, for residents at the Gift of Peace home (in Washington, D.C.) – in a whole myriad of ways he has been able to spread the heart of the Gospel of mercy, the compassion and the joyful hope of the Gospel. That is a precious legacy.

 

Father Paul Gary, pastor of St. Luke Church, Mint Hill

I have known Bishop Curlin from my days as a seminarian at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Md. He was Monsignor Curlin in those days and vocation director of the Archdiocese of Washington. I always enjoyed his visits. He would celebrate Mass in the seminary chapel and talk to us about his life and experiences as a priest. He talked to us about serving the poor, visiting the sick and meeting famous people like Mother Teresa of Calcutta. It is obvious he loves being a priest. The joy of serving God and God’s people is evident in his life.
I was delighted when Bishop Curlin was appointed the third Bishop of Charlotte because I knew he would bring those gifts with him. Priests need a role model in their life. His happiness and enthusiasm served as an inspiration to us. We knew Bishop Curlin loved his priests. He looked after those who were sick or struggling in their lives with great charity and patience. He attracted many priests from outside the diocese to serve in North Carolina, and he took an active interest in promoting vocations.
St. John Paul II told bishops in the United States in 1987 that their pastoral identity as bishops was a daily call to conversion and holiness of life. I see that most clearly in the life of Bishop William George Curlin.
— SueAnn Howell, senior reporter