The Rev F Joseph Gossman once began a homily about the sanctity of human life by quoting the words of Jesus: 'I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd.'
- The Catholic Weekly
Bishop F Joseph Gossman
April 1, 1930 – August 12, 2013
As bishop of Raleigh, North Carolina, for more than three decades, Bp Gossman was himself a good shepherd who guided his flock toward abundance.
Retired Bishop F Joseph Gossman, who had led the Diocese of Raleigh in the US for 31 years before he retired in 2006, died last month after a long illness. He was 83. An outspoken voice for social justice, he championed the rights of immigrants, the unborn, the poor and death-row prisoners.
Raleigh Bishop Michael Burbidge, who succeeded Bishop Gossman in 2006, asked all in the diocese to join him 'in praying for the eternal happiness of Bishop Gossman and to thank God for the gifts of his priestly example and faithful ministry as bishop.'
Born Francis Joseph Gossman April 1, 1930, in Baltimore, he was ordained a priest of the Baltimore Archdiocese in 1955 after studies at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore and the Pontifical North American College in Rome, the US national seminary in Rome. After ordination, he earned a doctorate in canon law at The Catholic University of America, Washington.
He served as an assistant pastor, cathedral administrator, vice chancellor, tribunal official and St Mary's Seminary professor before he was named an auxiliary bishop of Baltimore in 1968 at age 38.
He was the first US. bishop to be ordained in the new, simplified ceremony for the ordination of a bishop, which had just received Vatican approval for use in the United States on an experimental basis as part of the liturgical reforms following the Second Vatican Council.
In place of the traditional banquet honouring a newly ordained bishop, he celebrated his ordination with a simple buffet and reception and had the money that would have been spent on a banquet sent for aid to Biafra, a short-lived secessionist state within Nigeria, which was then in the midst of a destructive civil war and faced massive humanitarian needs.
For his 25th anniversary as a bishop in 1993, though, Bishop Gossman was feted by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago, three archbishops, 12 bishops, all the priests of the diocese, a 200-voice choir and 3,000 people in the Raleigh Civic Center.
When Bishop Gossman was made bishop of Raleigh in 1975, the 38,000 Catholics in the diocese formed a tiny minority, less than two per cent of the 2.5 million people in the eastern half of North Carolina. During his 31-year tenure, the Catholic population more than quadrupled.
Full obituary in The Catholic Weekly: http://www.catholicweekly.com.au/article.php?classID=1&subclassID=84&articleID=12640
Obituary on newsobserver.com: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/08/17/3113293/farewell-to-gossman-a-good-shepherd.html
Obituary in The Catholic Review: http://www.catholicreview.org/article/home/bishop-gossman-first-urban-vicar-dies-at-83
Homily from the funeral for Bp Gossman: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ke0aqFdik20
An interview with Bishop Gossman: http://www.nccatholic.org/Issues/2008/September/feature1.aspx
Wikipedia on Bp Gossman: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F._Joseph_Gossman