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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

010118 prayer serviceCHARLOTTE — Bishop Emeritus William G. Curlin loved Christmas. He told his family and friends that he hopejd when it was his time to pass from this life he wanted to do so at Christmas, the time of the year when the birth of his beloved Jesus was celebrated.

His prayers were answered Dec. 23, when at age 90 and after serving the Church for 60 years as a priest, he passed peacefully after a long battle with cancer. Read the full obituary.

Bishop Curlin was remembered Jan. 1 at a prayer vigil at St. Gabriel Church, where he was installed as the third bishop of Charlotte in 1994.

Hundreds of faithful came to pay their respects to him during the visitation before and after the prayer vigil, kneeling in prayer before his casket flanked by candles. Poinsettias, wreaths and illuminated Christmas trees in the sanctuary provided a fitting backdrop.

Bishop Peter Jugis presided over the prayer vigil, placing a crucifix and Book of the Gospels on top of the casket at the beginning of the vigil. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Benedictine Abbot Placid Solari of Belmont Abbey and priests, deacons and seminarians of the Diocese of Charlotte were also in attendance. Members of the Knights of Columbus served as honor guard.

Deacon Brian McNulty, of St. Patrick Cathedral, read Luke 24: 13-16, 28-35, which describes the men on their journey along the road to Emmaus.

Father Brian Cook, pastor of St. Leo the Great Church in Winston-Salem served as homilist. He received his first Holy Communion from Bishop Curlin when he was seven years old.

“We come here on this feast day of Mary, the Mother of God. It seems so apropos for this good man. For it was in a parish by that very name that our dear Bishop Curlin spent 13 years his ministry working among the poor,” Father Cook explained.

He told a story about how some 36 years ago when he was a new seminarian, on a cold winter night he and Bishop Curlin were coming back from a sick call at Georgetown University Hospital when they decided to go see the new Vietnam War Memorial being built on the Mall.

“It was starting to get dark. We walked up this concrete ramp, freezing cold, wind blowing across, and the deep and dark, almost onyx black panels, were there side by side. Not all of them were placed just yet, they were still putting them in.

“We began to talk to the veterans and then Monsignor Curlin talked to them about their brothers in arms. He talked about reaching out and touching the names of the men with whom they had served with. The sun got dimmer and dimmer and dimmer.”

The men said that their brothers were coming to look for their names, but they couldn’t even see them, because there were no lights along the walkway yet.

“Bishop Curlin turned to me and he said, ‘Let’s go.’

“He was a practical man. If you knew him you would understand that.”

Father Cook said they went back to St. Mary the Mother of God Church in Baltimore which was a novena church. “Which meant we had candles. We had lots of candles. He (Bishop Curlin) had an old brown Bonneville. We filled the trunk with cases of those 12-day votive lights. There were more cases in the back seat. I had two cases on my lap.

“We went back down to the Mall. The veterans helped us and we lined the sidewalk in front of the black granite panels. We lit them. Now there was a pathway of light. You could see the veterans then reaching and touching the names.

“It was a pathway of light. But it was a metaphor for his ministry in life. That ministry was not his. He just gave us the tools to see. That is what he did for us. Each one of us in this church and so many hundreds of people far beyond the reaches of these doors have had their lives touched by this good man.”

Father Cook said that Bishop Curlin served as a kind of sign of something greater. “He was always pointing to something greater. Something more beautiful. Always with an optimistic tone. Always with an underlying sense of joy.”

He noted that Bishop Curlin in his 90 years, 60 years of the priesthood, never lost his idealism.

“That kind of idealism, that kind of joyful spirit, that kind of love for the Lord and that love of the Blessed Mother – it filled our hearts, didn’t it?” he asked. “It was to bring Jesus to our hearts. To recognize that we walk the earth with Jesus within us.”

Father Cook recalled that Bishop Curlin was fond of an expression of Mother Teresa, which says that Heaven is when God comes down upon the altar and becomes one with us. “He helped us understand that is real. God is real. The miracle of the Incarnation…

“He understood he was an instrument of God’s peace… He accepted us for who we were and invited us to grow. He gave us a chance to grow and understand the love that Jesus had and continues to have for each one of us.”

His legacy lives on in over 200 men he sent to seminary, lives on in homeless women in Carmel House in D.C., and lives on in countless souls who were lifted up and given hope and given that light of God’s love that we celebrate in this season of Christmas, Father Cook explained.

“In his example, in his love for the Lord, for his contagious sense that God’s love is real and He walks the earth in us. That it is the Jesus in us, that man is compelled to find Jesus in one another,” Father Cook said.

— SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Herald. Photos by SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Herald

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010118 prayer serviceCHARLOTTE — Bishop Emeritus William G. Curlin loved Christmas. He told his family and friends that he hopejd when it was his time to pass from this life he wanted to do so at Christmas, the time of the year when the birth of his beloved Jesus was celebrated.

His prayers were answered Dec. 23, when at age 90 and after serving the Church for 60 years as a priest, he passed peacefully after a long battle with cancer. Read the full obituary.

Bishop Curlin was remembered Jan. 1 at a prayer vigil at St. Gabriel Church, where he was installed as the third bishop of Charlotte in 1994.

Hundreds of faithful came to pay their respects to him during the visitation before and after the prayer vigil, kneeling in prayer before his casket flanked by candles. Poinsettias, wreaths and illuminated Christmas trees in the sanctuary provided a fitting backdrop.

Bishop Peter Jugis presided over the prayer vigil, placing a crucifix and Book of the Gospels on top of the casket at the beginning of the vigil. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Benedictine Abbot Placid Solari of Belmont Abbey and priests, deacons and seminarians of the Diocese of Charlotte were also in attendance. Members of the Knights of Columbus served as honor guard.

Deacon Brian McNulty, of St. Patrick Cathedral, read Luke 24: 13-16, 28-35, which describes the men on their journey along the road to Emmaus.

Father Brian Cook, pastor of St. Leo the Great Church in Winston-Salem served as homilist. He received his first Holy Communion from Bishop Curlin when he was seven years old.

“We come here on this feast day of Mary, the Mother of God. It seems so apropos for this good man. For it was in a parish by that very name that our dear Bishop Curlin spent 13 years his ministry working among the poor,” Father Cook explained.

He told a story about how some 36 years ago when he was a new seminarian, on a cold winter night he and Bishop Curlin were coming back from a sick call at Georgetown University Hospital when they decided to go see the new Vietnam War Memorial being built on the Mall.

“It was starting to get dark. We walked up this concrete ramp, freezing cold, wind blowing across, and the deep and dark, almost onyx black panels, were there side by side. Not all of them were placed just yet, they were still putting them in.

“We began to talk to the veterans and then Monsignor Curlin talked to them about their brothers in arms. He talked about reaching out and touching the names of the men with whom they had served with. The sun got dimmer and dimmer and dimmer.”

The men said that their brothers were coming to look for their names, but they couldn’t even see them, because there were no lights along the walkway yet.

“Bishop Curlin turned to me and he said, ‘Let’s go.’

“He was a practical man. If you knew him you would understand that.”

Father Cook said they went back to St. Mary the Mother of God Church in Baltimore which was a novena church. “Which meant we had candles. We had lots of candles. He (Bishop Curlin) had an old brown Bonneville. We filled the trunk with cases of those 12-day votive lights. There were more cases in the back seat. I had two cases on my lap.

“We went back down to the Mall. The veterans helped us and we lined the sidewalk in front of the black granite panels. We lit them. Now there was a pathway of light. You could see the veterans then reaching and touching the names.

“It was a pathway of light. But it was a metaphor for his ministry in life. That ministry was not his. He just gave us the tools to see. That is what he did for us. Each one of us in this church and so many hundreds of people far beyond the reaches of these doors have had their lives touched by this good man.”

Father Cook said that Bishop Curlin served as a kind of sign of something greater. “He was always pointing to something greater. Something more beautiful. Always with an optimistic tone. Always with an underlying sense of joy.”

He noted that Bishop Curlin in his 90 years, 60 years of the priesthood, never lost his idealism.

“That kind of idealism, that kind of joyful spirit, that kind of love for the Lord and that love of the Blessed Mother – it filled our hearts, didn’t it?” he asked. “It was to bring Jesus to our hearts. To recognize that we walk the earth with Jesus within us.”

Father Cook recalled that Bishop Curlin was fond of an expression of Mother Teresa, which says that Heaven is when God comes down upon the altar and becomes one with us. “He helped us understand that is real. God is real. The miracle of the Incarnation…

“He understood he was an instrument of God’s peace… He accepted us for who we were and invited us to grow. He gave us a chance to grow and understand the love that Jesus had and continues to have for each one of us.”

His legacy lives on in over 200 men he sent to seminary, lives on in homeless women in Carmel House in D.C., and lives on in countless souls who were lifted up and given hope and given that light of God’s love that we celebrate in this season of Christmas, Father Cook explained.

“In his example, in his love for the Lord, for his contagious sense that God’s love is real and He walks the earth in us. That it is the Jesus in us, that man is compelled to find Jesus in one another,” Father Cook said.

— SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Herald. Photos by SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Herald

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Reflection and memories of Bishop Curlin

Reflection and memories of Bishop Curlin

From the day he first said “Ad sum” at his priesthood ordination, Bishop William Curlin put into practice every day the true meaning of those words, “I am present and ready,” in his service to the Lord. As a successor of the Apostles by his Ordination as bishop, he continued faithfully to proclaim Jesus Christ, challenging everyone to become saints, to heed the Lord’s invitation to be holy, and inspiring countless numbers of the faithful to a closer following of Jesus. May the good Lord now let the light of His face shine forever upon His servant.
— Bishop Peter J. Jugis

 

Fifteen years ago, in 2002, Bishop William G. Curlin retired as Bishop of Charlotte after eight years of ministry. Actually, Rome accepted his resignation which had to be submitted upon reaching the age of 75.
For the last 15 years of his life, Bishop Curlin’s home was in the Southpark area in a neighborhood called Beverly Woods East. He lived in a home provided by dear friends who loved and admired the bishop very much. There he lived and prayed, making daily visits to comfort the sick and the dying in the Charlotte area.
In his home, close to where he sat every day, was a famous black and white picture of Abraham Lincoln. The original was taken by photographer Alexander Gardner on Nov. 8, 1863, just weeks before Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address.
When Lincoln died, Edwin W. Stanton said, “There lies the most perfect ruler of men the world has ever seen. Now he belongs to the ages.” All would cherish his memory. Those who knew him would consider themselves blessed to know such a man. The same is equally true of Bishop William G. Curlin.
When Bishop Curlin was in the emergency room the night of Dec. 16, he was surrounded by friends who were concerned and worried. Bishop told us several times, “I’m not complaining. I’m not complaining.” He was now 90 years old, and had recently celebrated his 60th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood on May 25. He had dedicated his life to helping the poor, the sick and the dying.
Bishop Curlin came to Charlotte in 1994. He was installed as the third Bishop of Charlotte at St. Gabriel Catholic Church. It was in that same church on Jan. 2, 2018, that the faithful gathered to say their goodbyes at his Mass of Christian Burial.
As an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington, he was told once by a demanding cardinal that he would never be an ordinary. The Church up north is different. The faithful may have a cardinal or an archbishop, but the levels of bureaucracy are so many that only a few people ever get to know them personally. In the South, priests and people have many opportunities to know their shepherds on a personal level and to love them.
When Bishop Curlin heard that Pope John Paul II had appointed him a bishop, he called Mother Teresa and told her, “Mother, it’s Charlotte!” We were thrilled to have him. This was what the Diocese of Charlotte needed.
Bishop Curlin spoke about Mother Teresa often in his homilies. His love for the poor and the dying is what made the two of them close friends. He encouraged us to follow her example by helping others. Bishop Curlin also spoke out against the evil of abortion in our country, encouraging us to respect all life from conception until natural death.
At St. Patrick Cathedral, Bishop Curlin came just about every week to celebrate the 11 o’clock Mass on Sundays. People loved him. He celebrated the Midnight Mass on Christmas and another Mass on Christmas Day. He also began the tradition of celebrating Midnight Mass on New Year’s Eve, telling us that it began years ago when he was a priest serving in a poor parish in Washington, D.C. There he would go into the church to pray at midnight and turn on all the Christmas lights. The poor people of the neighborhood would see the lights and come in and join him. What better way to begin the New Year than at Mass.
Bishop Curlin had a great heart. When I told him about families that had lost a mother or a father before Christmas, he told me that he wanted to take the children out so that they could buy whatever toys they wanted. He even took two brothers to a fancy clothing store in the mall so that they could buy a coat for their mother. All of this was on his dime. A few days after Bishop Curlin passed away, a family member told me the little boy who lost his mother years ago and is in college today still has the gift that Bishop Curlin bought him for Christmas.
Yes, now he belongs to the ages. Bishop Curlin lived and died a holy man. We will remember him forever, thanking God that we had the opportunity to know such a man.

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

 

This week, we join with many throughout our diocese in celebrating the life of Bishop Emeritus William Curlin, who died Dec. 23, 2017, at the age of 90. We thank God for the gift of his life, his ministry and his faithful service.
Bishop Curlin loved being a priest and a bishop. For 60 years he sought to know, love and serve the Lord. His pastoral sensitivity endeared him to many who found in both his preaching and ministry a renewed hope.
— Father Frank O’Rourke, pastor of St. Gabriel Church in Charlotte

 

When remembering Bishop William Curlin, what comes to mind is the description of Barnabas from the Acts of the Apostles: “He was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith.” Bishop Curlin was a kind man with a great compassion for the sick and suffering. He was a good bishop and a good friend. We were blessed that St. John Paul sent him to Charlotte and that he made his home with us.
— Benedictine Abbot Placid Solari of Belmont Abbey

 

Bishop Curlin was first and foremost a Catholic priest. He loved the priesthood. He loved ministering to other priests and he loved being a pastor. The Church is blessed with bishops who possess many different gifts. Different gifts come with different men in different times. Bishop Curlin’s pastoral ministry was his gift. He certainly handled his episcopal responsibilities very well. Although he never sought the episcopacy he was an effective, loving and kind bishop. In many ways, not that you would ever know it, I think being a bishop was a burden to him. He did his duty without complaining but his real love was pastoral ministry to anyone in need.
He once told me that his first year of being an auxiliary bishop in Washington, D.C., was the loneliest year of his priestly ministry. He was removed from the parish life that he loved so much.
But it did not take him long to figure out how to continue his pastoral ministry as a bishop. He was a sought-after retreat master, giving over a hundred retreats while being a full-time pastor or bishop. He gave many retreats to other bishops and many more to priests. It was indeed his pastor’s heart and his pastoral ministry that set him apart, and this was the great gift he brought to us here in Charlotte.
As our ordinary and then as bishop emeritus, he had regular penitents seeking his guidance in spiritual direction and the sacrament of penance. At the Eucharistic Congress he could always be found hearing confessions.
Bishop Curlin was also an ever-present figure in Charlotte area hospitals. I was privileged to be one of many friends who would drive him to confirmations and other events. But it was the sick calls– which to many of us are somewhat awkward – that he somehow was blessed to relish the most. He went to bed each evening only after shaving and laying out his clothes for possible sick calls during the night.
He was gifted in bringing the peace of Christ to the sick, the dying and to the discouraged. It was this same peace that surrounded him in his hospital bed as Bishop Peter Jugis and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, among others, offered the prayers of commendation and prayed the rosary over him on the afternoon of Dec. 23. Only a few hours later he quietly and peacefully slipped away to his eternal reward with his friends Abbot Placid Solari of Belmont Abbey and Monsignor Mauricio West, our chancellor and vicar general, sitting by his bed.
Bishop Curlin died in the peace of Christ after having spent more than 60 years as a priest allowing the Christ that lived in him to look for and see the Christ that lived in others.
— Robert Gallagher

 

I heard of Bishop William Curlin’s appointment to the Diocese of Charlotte from a Baptist chaplain in the Navy who was visiting St. Meinrad Seminary. He had just arrived from Washington, D.C., where it had been announced. In those days before email and websites, we were somewhat isolated in rural Indiana from news from Charlotte. (The diocesan vocation director, Father Frank O’Rourke, called shortly thereafter to inform us.)
A few days later, I received a letter from my maternal grandmother, who was a native of Washington. She wrote, “The Diocese of Charlotte is truly blessed! I have followed the career of this faithful priest and bishop for many years.” She had worked for the federal government in the early 1970s and often on her lunch breaks went to hear Father Curlin preach at Old St. Mary’s. His spirituality made a deep impression on her.
I was very appreciative when Bishop Curlin granted my request to have my diaconate ordination in my home parish in Salisbury, where I had been an altar server and where I had been confirmed. The parish had been very supportive of me throughout my seminary formation. I still recall the words of Bishop Curlin’s homily as I entered holy orders 23 years ago.
When I was the pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Charlotte, I was privileged to concelebrate a Mass on Christmas Eve with Bishop Curlin for the past 13 years and for his 60th anniversary Mass last May. He was very gracious at the dedication of the parish columbarium, the Ministry Center and Chapel and at celebrations of confirmation. He left us with great testimony of priestly ministry and Christian charity. I know that it was a blessing to know him.
— Father Mark Lawlor, pastor of St. Therese Church in Mooresville

 

Bishop William Curlin was a priest who came to serve. Once when I was at a program at St. Paul’s Church, Bishop Curlin arrived for lunch and instead of being seated at the head table he got behind the line and began serving everyone else. When everyone was served, he allowed himself to be served. It struck me that it was not the first time this had happened, and I thought, “If someone in his position could become a servant, why can’t I serve, too?” That day was an influence in my decision to pursue the permanent diaconate. I will always be grateful to Bishop Curlin for his example.
— Deacon Wally Haarsgaard, Immaculate Heart of Mary Mission in Hayesville

 

As a deacon who relocated to the Diocese of Charlotte about nine years ago, I have only known Bishop William Curlin as “emeritus.” That said, I did run into him routinely as he ministered to those in the hospital at Carolinas Medical Center, where I work. I remember once bumping into him in a corridor and asking if I could help him. He quipped, “Nope, not today. Today I’m in for an annual check of my ticker – all is well, good for anther year! And today’s the feast of the Sacred Heart!” On another occasion, we both found ourselves ministering to a priest in the cardiovascular ICU. The priest was still “out” from anesthesia, but Bishop Curlin, knowing the priest’s love of Italian food, said, “Let’s try this, Mark...,” and as he whispered “pasta” into the priest’s ear, the priest awoke with a huge grin! One evening, when I was offering a chapel service at Southminster Retirement Community in south Charlotte, I looked up to see Bishop Curlin among the attendees. Surprised, I asked if he’d like to offer a reflection. “No, no,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed listening to our deacons – I learn something new all the time!”
— Deacon Mark King, St. Gabriel Church in Charlotte

 

I was one of the permanent deacons ordained by Bishop William Curlin for the Diocese of Charlotte in 2001. I always had the most profound respect and admiration for him. Though I was not a close personal friend of his, he had a way of making one feel that way. He and I corresponded several times concerning my assistance and relationship with several of the retired priests living at Pennybyrn at Maryfield in High Point. Bishop Curlin impressed me with his caring and contact with the retired priests who served with him while he was Bishop of Charlotte. It was also my great pleasure to assist him at Mass on several occasions at the Chapel at Maryfield. I will remember him as a saint of the Church.
— Deacon David King,Pennybyrn at Maryfield in High Point

 

I first met Bishop William Curlin when volunteering in youth ministry in the mid-1990s. I was amazed at how well he seemed to connect with the teens, and I got up the courage to go up and tell him so. I’m not sure I had even spoken to a bishop before. After my words of gratitude, he said to me, “Aren’t you wonderful!” And gave me a big hug. That’s how he endeared himself to so many. Later, when I was still considering the seminary, while he was on a trip to visit seminarians in Philadelphia, he stopped by to visit and anoint my father, who had been recently diagnosed with cancer. He went far out of his way to do it, and when my father passed a little over two years later, he was among the first to call with his condolences. When I called him in August to wish him a happy 90th birthday, he quickly turned the conversation to my new assignment at St. Matthew Church, generous with words of praise and encouragement. I will never forget his kindness.
— Father Patrick Hoare, pastor of St. Matthew Church in Charlotte

 

For me, this loss is somewhat personal, so it’s all the more saddening. A bishop is, first and foremost, a spiritual father. His primary identity is always to love the people those entrusted to his care and aid their souls by his words and deeds.
In my case, Bishop Curlin gave me, through the sacrament of confirmation, the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. I was in eighth grade and not particularly devout, but in a moment of piety while I prayed, God told me that He wanted me to take St. Simon of Cyrene as my patron because it was my call to help Christ carry His Cross.
After the Mass, Bishop Curlin asked me to remind him which saint’s name I had taken. I told him and he looked quizzically at me, saying, “In all my years as a bishop, I have never heard anyone take him as their patron. Is there a reason you did?” I told the reason that God had given me.
At that moment he smiled, took off his ring and zuchetto (the skullcap), both symbols of his office as bishop. He put them on me and said, “You’re mine now. You’re going to become a priest.”
Through his joy and love, he let me see the beauty of the priesthood, so inviting me into the life that God seems to have intended for me to live. Twenty years later, he is still showing me the beauty of the priesthood.
My love for him moves me to pray that he quickly can behold the face of Our Savior in heaven. Knowing him, rest isn’t what he wants in eternity. If he’s already enjoying heaven, he’s probably just getting started in his new work as a spiritual father – praying for each of us!
— Father Peter Shaw,pastor of St. Joseph Church in Bryson City

 

I was with him until about 15 minutes before he passed away. I said, “Bill, they are waiting for you in heaven to put that star on the Christmas tree because you always decorate better than anyone else.” He started decorating at Thanksgiving, every year! He always wanted to pass away at Christmas.
— Dr. Mary Ellen Keck, relative of Bishop Curlin

 

He was a big fan of the Knights of Columbus, a big supporter, and we were of him, too. He was our state chaplain from 2003 to 2005, I believe. He did everything he could for us at every meeting, every chance he got. He was beloved. And he loved our families. We had regional meetings and he would show up and hold a Mass for us. Whatever we asked for, he was there for us.

— Jack Murray, Blessed Sacrament Church in Burlington and Knights of Columbus District Master of N.C., Council 3498

 

My father was out of the Catholic Church for more than 30 years. I was not raised Catholic. I discerned the call at the age of 21. Years later, I brought my dad in his wheelchair to one of Bishop William Curlin’s preaching missions. My dad was blown away. And then he went to confession with him. Bishop Curlin would call him from time to time. He had such passion and authentic love for the sick. My dad finally came home to the Church. And then my mom became Catholic. This bishop utterly gave everything of himself, to bring Jesus to the people and the people to Jesus. I cannot even speculate how many lives he touched. I am so grateful to be witness to and to hear of too many miracles attributed to Bishop Curlin. Now, he can be reunited with his good friend Mother Teresa. Most assuredly, they are both praying for our souls to carry on, and to join them in eternity.
— Amy Ivsan

 

I will add to the litany of tributes to Bishop Curlin. I knew him for about four years as we organized the Charlotte Catholic Men’s Conference. He gave the talk during Holy Hour at multiple conferences. His love for the Eucharist was evident, and he challenged the men each year to not only love and believe in the Eucharist, but to let the light of Christ reflect in us after we received. During the course of my role in the apostolate, there was no bigger supporter than Bishop Curlin. Each year after the conference, he was the first to call to congratulate me, and thank me on behalf of the Church. He listened to my struggles, invited me into his home, provided spiritual direction, and was always totally present when listening to my needs. He was such a wonderful example, always giving himself totally to God’s service, caring for the dying even in his late years. I know many men were touched personally by Christ through him as he heard their confessions during the men’s conference. To me, more than being bishop emeritus, he was a gift from God reflecting His love for me. I thank God for my time with Bishop Curlin and will miss him.
— Dan Trapini

 

I will miss his gentle spirit of love. He saw Christ in every person. An amazing spiritual leader for us all. Rest in peace dear friend to all, you will be sorely missed.
— Camille Dabney Asmer

 

He loved Our Lord with all his heart. He was a good shepherd to his flock. May a choir of angels welcome him home.
— Carole Schindler Scagnelli

 

In the teaching and preaching of Bishop William Curlin, I always felt Christ’s compassion. This was the compassion of the good pastor and bishop with which he tended to the needs of us, the Church of Charlotte. I will always remember him as the good pastor who tended to the needs of those he was called to serve.
— Deacon John Martino,St. Charles Borromeo Church in Morganton

 

My funniest moment with Bishop William Curlin was when I was waiting to be incardinated into the Diocese of Charlotte (from Rockville Centre, N.Y.). I was here almost five years and hadn’t been incardinated. Bishop Curlin was with us on retreat up at the conference center. I asked for time to talk to him. I walked in and told him I had been here five years and I had a bishop up in Rockville Centre who said, “Either get in or get back!”
Bishop Curlin said, “What’s the problem? Just kneel down and promise you will be obedient.” I hesitated and he jokingly said, “Oh no, no, no,” just like he would do. So my incardination took place in the chapel of the retreat center.
— Deacon Bill Shaw,St. Joseph Church in Bryson City

 

Bishop Curlin blessed this oil stock I carry with me all the time. It’s the oil of the sick. I bought this a couple of months before my ordination to the priesthood.
Bishop Curlin was in Statesville at St. Philip Church for a confirmation some weeks before my ordination, so I was still a (transitional) deacon. I asked him to bless it. He said, “You’re fully capable of blessing it as a deacon.” I said, “But Bishop, I know how much you care for the sick and how much I have heard you talk about caring for the sick, so for the stock of the oil of the sick that I carry, I would like you to bless it for me.” I have carried it every day since I was ordained.
— Father Benjamin Roberts,pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Monroe

 

When we think of Bishop Curlin’s 60 years as a priest and bishop, we have an overwhelming sense of gratitude. We are grateful that he listened to the call from Jesus, that he responded to His call to be a priest and that he lived a life of selfless service since he was ordained. We are certain that he directly impacted and changed the lives of tens of thousands of people in those 60 years. He has given all those people hope and encouragement and helped them get to heaven.
We just want to relate one particular life he changed through his gift of hope and encouragement. Joan’s mother Dot had oral cancer, and she struggled with it for seven years. Bishop Curlin offered to come visit her. Something about her reminded him of his mother, he said, and he came every single day to visit her before she died.
He told her, “I know you are suffering and I want you to offer it up for other people and unite yourself to Christ. It will give you some meaning, instead of just lying in bed.”
If she offered up her sufferings for those in need, he said, she would do more good for people in the last six months of her life than she did in the first 72 years of her life. He would ask her to pray for specific people every day. That went on for weeks. It really made such a huge difference for her. That message gave her such hope and encouragement until the day she died.
When she died, he celebrated her funeral at the cathedral. He hosted a catered luncheon for us afterwards. To this day we can’t get over how kind he was to us. He didn’t have to do any of that. He had so much compassion.
We never forgot that gift of time, love, hope and encouragement he gave to Dot. Her husband John never forgot his gift to Dot and him. John just died in March 2016 at 95 years old.
Not only did he change the lives of the four of us during those six months but we have shared that message of redemptive suffering with many people through those 18 years. We told those many people what Bishop Curlin told Dot about redemptive suffering, and they knew that if Bishop Curlin said it that they could believe it for their own lives, too. So his message touched hundreds of people’s lives through us sharing his message.
We are thankful that Bishop Curlin continued to serve the people of God, particularly the sick, since he retired. He never stopped loving people and giving them hope and encouragement until the day Jesus called him home.
We love him and we were blessed by him.
— Jim and Joan Kelley

 

Bishop Curlin was the presider at our first Rosary Congress in 2009. He was our speaker for the first three years. He loved Our Lady.
— Aida Gamolo, Rosary Congress organizer

 

Beginning in 1994 until his retirement, Bishop Curlin visited Holy Angels each Christmas and offered Mass for the children and staff. He would always say, “This is where I am meant to be on Christmas morning, with God’s most vulnerable children.” He spent a moment with each resident and staff member, offering a special prayer and blessing – for God’s peace and joy to be with them throughout the Christmas season and coming New Year. Bishop Curlin was a wonderful example to all on how to truly live the Beatitudes.
— Mercy Sister Nancy Nance of Holy Angels in Belmont

 

At Holy Angels, we have had a wonderful relationship with the Knights of Malta. For many years, the Knights and Dames have visited Holy Angels to bless the residents and staff with the healing water from Lourdes. Bishop Curlin always visited with them, his face beaming with love and joy – sharing his love of Jesus with God’s people, who are most in need. Many residents were unable to say “thank you” to him – but they radiated their love and thanks with their most beautiful smiles.
Most recently, in honor of Bishop Curlin’s 90th birthday and in appreciation of his continued support over the many years he shared his compassionate care and love for our residents, Holy Angels was pleased to name the medical clinic the Bishop Curlin Clinic. This recognition was presented to him during his birthday celebration with the Knights of Malta.
Currently in process of being renovated and refurbished, it will allow the many medical specialists our residents require due to their delicate medical conditions, to be seen for their medical appointments at Holy Angels.
— Regina Moody, Holy Angels president/CEO

 

The passing of Bishop Emeritus William G. Curlin deeply saddened me, and made me reflect on the impact this saintly bishop had in my life.
I had the honor and privilege to be a seminarian for the Diocese of Charlotte from 1998 until the spring of 2002, during Bishop Curlin’s last four years as Bishop of Charlotte. As a seminarian, I had many opportunities to interact with him, and also met one on one with him on several occasions to discuss my discernment process and seminary progress. Prior to becoming a seminarian, though, I had a few opportunities to catch a glimpse of a man I am convinced was a living saint.
My father passed away back in 1988, when I was 24. As I look back in my interactions with Bishop Curlin, I now realize that he was, in many ways, like a second father to me.
I remember the very first time I met him. It was at St. Patrick Cathedral in Charlotte for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8, 1995. Bishop Curlin was the main celebrant, and I recalled his homily really resonated in my heart – he preached on Our Lady’s total surrender to God’s will, and of course he threw in a couple of Mother Teresa’s anecdotes. I wasn’t really practicing my faith at the time, and his homily made me take a hard look at my spiritual journey. After the Mass, I thanked him for saying Mass for my girlfriend at the time and myself. He was very gracious and promised to pray for me and the young lady I was dating.
Three weeks later I had a conversion experience while on vacation in Florida. I came back to the faith with a force the following year. I broke up with my girlfriend and started discerning a priestly vocation. Although I considered joining a religious order, a diocesan priest who mentored me at the time suggested I speak with Bishop Curlin. I met with the bishop and I mentioned to him that I was considering joining the Vincentian priests. He responded, “The Vincentians were founded by St. Vincent de Paul; the Diocese of Charlotte was founded by Jesus Christ!”
The fall of 1998, I joined the seminary program and was sent to St. Vincent de Paul Seminary in Latrobe. Although I discerned not to continue my seminary studies, I met with Bishop Curlin and thanked him for the spiritual and academic formation I received while in seminary. I told him I wanted to get married and start a family. He told me that for me to find the right woman, she had to be a woman I was willing to lay down my life and die for.
Three years later, I did get married and my wife and I had a lovely daughter, who is now 12.
After Bishop Curlin retired, I occasionally bumped into him around town. About four years ago, I ran into him at the grocery store and helped him “u-scan” a birthday cake he was struggling to ring up. Bishop thanked me and asked what I was up to at the time. I told him that I was applying for a job with the Catholic News Herald, but I hadn’t heard back from them yet. He thanked me again for my help and then told me, “I will offer my Mass for you tomorrow.”
Three weeks later, the Catholic News Herald editor called me and offered me the job.
As a reporter for the diocesan paper, I had several opportunities to interview Bishop Curlin, but the last time I did have a chance to chat with him remains very special. SueAnn Howell, senior reporter, and I were asking him about his long-time friendship with now St. Teresa of Calcutta. He shared with us that Mother Teresa loved ice cream. When I asked him what she would say to him when he makes it to heaven, he quipped, “Let’s have some ice cream,” he said laughing. “I like ice cream, too!”
Like Bishop Curlin, my father had a great sense of humor, and made a lasting impact in the first 24 years of my life. Like my father, Bishop Curlin made a lasting impact in my life the last 22 years. Like Bishop Curlin, my father also died on a Dec. 23.
— Rico De Silva, former Hispanic communications reporter for the Catholic News Herald

 

Bishop Curlin came to our parish years ago and asked us to bring back an old fast of abstaining from eating meat on Fridays to aid in the end of abortion. My family had always done this, but it was so good to hear a bishop ask us to rekindle this fast for such a worthy cause! Also, I had the honor of him being my confessor one time at our Eucharistic Congress. I had no idea who my confessor would be as I waited in line. When my time came, the empty chair was next to Bishop Curlin and I almost didn’t go in – so glad I did! He was a most humble confessor with such simple perfect direction!
— Amy Tarr

Such a blessed, holy and wonderfully down-to-earth man. He will be sorely missed among his church community on Earth. May angels speed you to paradise, Bishop Curlin.

— Regan White Craig

Bishop Curlin was the presider at our first Rosary Congress in 2009. He was our speaker for the first three years. He loved Our Lady.
Aida Gamolo, Rosary Congress organizer
 
Beginning in 1994 until his retirement, Bishop Curlin visited Holy Angels each Christmas and offered mass for the children and staff. He would always say, “This is where I am meant to be on Christmas morning, with God’s most vulnerable children.” He spent a moment with each resident and staff member, offering a special prayer and blessing – for God’s peace and joy to be with them throughout the Christmas season and coming New Year. Bishop Curlin has been a wonderful example to all on how to truly live the Beatitudes.
— Sr. Nancy Nance, RSM, Vice President Community Relations at Holy Angels


At Holy Angels, we have had a wonderful relationship with the Knights of Malta. For many years, the Knights and Dames have visited Holy Angels to bless the residents and staff with the healing water from Lourdes. Bishop Curlin always visited with them, his face beaming with love and joy – sharing his love of Jesus with God’s people, who are most in need. Many of the residents were unable to say “thank you” to him – but they radiated their love and thanks with their most beautiful smiles.

Most recently, in honor of Bishop Curlin’s 90th birthday and in appreciation of his continued support over the many years he shared his compassionate care and love for our residents, Holy Angels was pleased to name the medical clinic – the Bishop Curlin Clinic. This recognition was presented to him during his birthday celebration with the Knights of Malta.

Currently in process of being renovated and refurbished, it will allow the many medical specialists our residents require due to their delicate medical conditions, to be seen for their medical appointments at Holy Angels.

— Regina Moody, Holy Angels President/CEO

 

“We were so very blessed to have Bishop be a part of our family for the past 22 years. Ed was his doctor and I was his nurse, but, more importantly, we all became part of his "family", as he called close friends. We have so many fond memories.

He had such a pure heart! I often told him that what I loved the most about him was that he was so generous with God's mercy.

Bishop Curlin was never intimidated by the mess people had made of their lives, because he was entirely certain that God's mercy would provide relief and comfort and restoration. He was undaunted by situations because he knew God would remedy it all if we asked forgiveness and prayed.”

— Ed and Paula Knish. Ed was one of the lectors and they brought up the gifts at the funeral Mass.

 “In all of the many years that we have known Father Bill, we have witnessed firsthand time and again how he touched the lives and hearts of everyone that he encountered.

So often he was called to celebrate someone’s greatest joys or to comfort someone in their time of deepest sorrow. Whenever he was called, he was truly present and he gave of himself wholeheartedly. He always set the needs of others before his own. His smile and his laughter were contagious and he was a masterful storyteller.

His life experiences and parables made us want to be better- better people, better servants of Christ. He was a light and a beacon of hope to us all, a true disciple of Christ, and he lived out his episcopal motto “to think with Christ” every moment of every single day. His life was a constant prayer of faith, of joy, of gratitude.

He showed us through his heart-filled example how to truly love all of our neighbors as ourselves and to give God the glory in all things- whether great or small. He emulated Christ’s compassion, His humility, His mercy, and His love for all of creation.

We were always in awe of how animals could even sense his joy and his peaceful nature. His backyard was always a safe refuge and home to countless deer, rabbits, squirrels, and birds who came to share in his kindheartedness. There will be no other like Father Bill. He blessed us beyond measure and he will forever be so dearly missed.”

— Sharon and Jim Mattei

Complete transcript of Father Cook's homily

Bishop Curlin’s legacy: Helping us to see the light of Jesus

Editor’s note: Following is a complete transcript of the homily delivered by Father Brian Cook, pastor of St. Leo the Great Church in Winston-Salem, at the vigil prayer service for Bishop Curlin Jan. 1:
We come here on this feast day of Mary, the Mother of God – it seems so apropos for this good man. For it was in a parish by that very name that our dear Bishop Curlin spent 13 years of his ministry working among the poor.
Some 36 years ago when I was a new seminarian – on a cold winter night much like tonight – we were coming back from a sick call at Georgetown University Hospital and he said, “Let’s go down and take a look at the Pathway of Peace at the Mall.” We came down Pennsylvania Avenue and we stopped there, we looked at the trees and walked about, and then he said, “I understand that that new Vietnam Veteran’s memorial is going on now; just down the street it’s being built. Why don’t we go visit?”

The sun was lowering down below the horizon, it was starting to get dark. We pulled up (in those days you could park anywhere you wanted on the Mall) and we walked up a concrete ramp. It was just mud on the other side, freezing cold, wind blowing across, and those deep and dark panels – onyx black – were lying side by side. Not all of the 58,000 names were even placed just yet; they were still putting the panels in.

We began to talk to the veterans, and then Monsignor Curlin talked to them about their brothers-in-arms. He talked about reaching out and touching the names of the men with whom they had served. The sun got dimmer and dimmer and dimmer, and they said, “Our brothers are coming to look for their names. We can’t even see them; they haven’t put the lighting along the walkway yet.”

Bishop Curlin turned to me and he said, “Let’s go.” He was a practical man; if you knew him you understood that. So we went back to Mary the Mother of God, which was a novena church, which meant we had candles, lots of candles. He had this old brown Bonneville, and we filled the trunk with cases of those 12-day votive lights. There were more cases in the back seat, I had two cases on my lap, and back down to the Mall we went.

The veterans helped us unload the candles and we lined that sidewalk in front of those black granite panels, lined them with the candles from Old St. Mary’s, and then we lit them. There was a pathway of light that extended up across those panels, and you could see the veterans then reaching and touching the names.

It was a pathway of light. But it was a metaphor for his ministry in life, because that light was not his – he just gave them the tools to see. It’s what he did for all of us!

The prophet Isaiah is always looking forward, always promising the people, saying, “I know what you’ve been through, but there is another way because on this holy mountain something special will happen. God will come and be with you, He will abide with you.” In the words of Pope Francis, He will accompany you on your journey of life, no matter what comes.

Each one of us in this church, and so many hundreds of people far beyond the reaches of these doors, have had their lives touched by this good man, because he served as a kind of sign to something greater, a pathway to that light that was not his own. It’s not what he was about, it’s always pointing to something greater, something more beautiful. Always with an optimistic tone, always with an underlying sense of joy. This man who lived 90 years, 60 years in the priesthood, never lost his idealism.

He said to me on the first day of my priesthood, when he preached my first Mass, “Your family here, so many of these folks, they will move away and in time they will be replaced by your parishioners, the people of God. And if you love them,” he said, “if you love them, they will move mountains for you. If your people sense you do not love them, they will not cross the street to say hello. They will become, if you love them, your family, your dear friends – and that is a sign of God’s presence among us.”

The story of the disciples walking to on that road to Emmaus – it was a way in which Bishop Curlin showed us, through his love for the Eucharist as the center of his life, that we recognize the Jesus among us in the breaking of the bread. All through his ministry, as a parish priest, when I first met him when I was 7 years old (he gave me my first Communion), he told me I would be a priest, and I knew the fix was in!

But that kind of idealism, that kind of joyful spirit, that kind of optimism and love for the Lord and the Blessed Mother, it filled our hearts, didn’t it? Because he recognized that his role in life as a pastor was to bring Jesus to our hearts, to have us recognize that we walk the earth with Jesus within us.

He was fond of an expression of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who said, “Heaven does not begin when we die. Heaven begins when we understand that God comes down upon the altar and becomes one with us at the Eucharist.” He helped us to understand that it was real, that God’s love for us is real, that God’s love for us – especially this season of Christmas – is alive. The miracle of the Incarnation: it’s what happened in the Bethlehem so many centuries ago, but what can happen in each one of our hearts, and with that Presence we can change the world. That’s what he did for us.

He understood that he was simply an instrument of God’s peace. There was a sense in which, and you’ve experienced this with him, that he accepted us for who we were and invited us to grow even when some of us, my brother priests, were, well, shall we say, diamonds in the rough. He focused on the diamonds and not the rough. He gave us a chance to grow, to understand the love that Jesus had and continues to have for each one of us.

You know we talk a lot today about legacy. We talk a lot about the legacy that people leave when they go to the Lord. His legacy, the legacy of how ever you knew him – Father Bill, Monsignor Bill, Bishop Bill, Bishop Curlin – this remarkable man’s legacy lives on. It lives on in the over 200 men that he sent to the seminary as the vocations director in Washington, D.C.; lives on in the homeless women that he helped through his founding of the Mt. Carmel House at Old St. Mary’s in Washington D.C.; lives on in the countless souls who were lifted up and given hope and given that light of God’s love that we celebrate in this season of Christmas; through his example, through his love for the Lord, through his contagious sense that God’s love is real, that He walks the earth in each of one of us, that it is the Jesus in us that bends, compelled to find the Jesus in one another.

So Bishop Bill, we thank you. We thank you for being that beautiful conduit of God’s love and consolation and hope in a world that many times is riddled by cynicism. You have taught us to let the cataracts of skepticism fall from our eyes and to see this tender and compassionate God, in our own hearts and in the lives of one another. So we thank you. We thank you for letting God’s love and His light guide you to touch our hearts, and we thank you for loving all of us so very well.