On Wednesday the Vatican announced Pope Francis’ appointment of Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama Pasqualetto, a native of Colombia, as the next bishop of the Diocese of Raleigh.
Currently an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Bishop Zarama, 58, will replace Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, who was transferred to the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia in October of last year and installed on Dec. 6, 2016.
In a statement on the appointment of Bishop Zarama, announced July 5, Bishop Burbidge said he gives thanks to God for the appointment.
“I am proud to call him a brother bishop and good friend. Bishop Zarama is a holy, faithful and joyful bishop known and respected for his pastoral skills, administrative abilities, zeal and kindness.”
“I have assured Bishop Zarama that he will be truly blessed with the support of such good priests, consecrated religious, deacons, seminarians, colleagues and lay faithful in the Diocese of Raleigh.”
“I promised Bishop Zarama that he and the Diocese of Raleigh will remain in my daily prayers at this joyful and historic moment and always,” he concluded.
The Archbishop of Atlanta, Wilton D. Gregory, said in a statement July 5 that the Pope’s appointment is also an honor for Atlanta.
“How fortunate that the local Church is to receive such a devoted and generous servant minister,” he said. “The Holy Father has chosen well even though his decision takes a deeply beloved brother and friend from our midst.”
Bishop Zarama was born in Pasto, Colombia on Nov. 28, 1958. He graduated from the Marian University in Pasto with a degree in philosophy and theology. He also attended the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, receiving a degree in Canon Law in 1991.
He was a philosophy and theology professor at the Carmelite School, the Learning School and the Colombia Military School for 11 years.
In 1993, he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Atlanta and was the first Hispanic priest to be named pastor at the parishes of St. Mark in Clarksville and St. Helena Mission in Clayton. He became a United States citizen in 2004.
In April 2006 Bishop Zarama was named Vicar General of the Archdiocese. He received the title of monsignor from Pope Benedict XVI on March 7, 2007.
He has served as the Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese’s Metropolitan Tribunal since 2008, and is also a member of the Archdiocesan Personnel Review Board.
On July 27, 2009 Pope Benedict XVI named him Titular Bishop of Bararus and Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta. He was ordained a bishop on Sept. 29, 2009.
His Mass of Installation at Raleigh will be on August 29th.
Bishop Gregory said that he joins “Bishop-Elect Shlesinger and all of the clergy, religious, and faithful of The Archdiocese of Atlanta in assuring Bishop Zarama of our prayers and warmest best wishes as he begins this new service to Christ’s Church.”
“While we will have time to celebrate his appointment to the Diocese of Raleigh before he takes leave for his August 29th installation, we promise him our affectionate best wishes and congratulations on this happy moment for him and for all of God’s People in the Diocese of Raleigh.”