The Most Reverend F. Joseph Gossman, Bishop Emeritus
Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina
“…A mature, secure priest who saw women as equals…”
Bishop F. Joseph Gossman, a beloved friend and supporter of women religious, died on August 12, 2013, at age 83. Born in Baltimore and graduated from St. Charles College and St. Mary Seminary in Baltimore, he completed graduate studies in Theology at the North American College and Gregorian University in Rome. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1955 and served in various pastoral and administrative positions in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He was ordained Auxiliary Bishop and named Urban Vicar in September 1968.
“During his 31 years as Bishop of Raleigh, Bishop Gossman won the admiration of many, reported the Raleigh News and Observer. “He was renowned for his dedication to the poor, to social justice and to ecumenism. His adamant support of the sanctity of life compelled him to be supportive not only of the unborn, but also of textile workers, farm workers and laborers, as well as those on death row.”
“He was a Bishop who embraced women religious,” recalls Sister Loretta Cornell, MHSH President, “and a friend to many, many people.”
Mission Helper Dolores (Dolly) Glick, who served in the Diocese of Raleigh for many years, knew him well. “He was so very affirming with the Sisters,” she recalls. “He invited all of us to his home at Christmas and gave each of us a rose to thank us for our service. When our Sisters from Venezuela visited, he joined us for dinner at our house. He just did everything right.”
In an editorial in the Raleigh News and Observer, former religion reporter Yonat Shimron wrote:
“As a religion reporter during the last 15 years he served as Bishop, I could find no greater fans of Gossman’s leadership style than the nuns who worked with him.
“They adored him.
“He was one of those mature, secure priests who saw women as equals, enjoyed their company, valued their contributions and believed in their leadership skills.
As the Catholic Church struggled to find priests to serve its ever-expanding churches in Eastern North Carolina, Gossman turned to the Sisters for help. During the 1990s, he appointed a dozen nuns to supervise churches where there was no resident priest. These pastoral administrators did everything but celebrate the Sacraments. They were, for all intents and purposes, pastors.”
[Sister Dolly Glick was the first pastoral administrator in North Carolina, serving in two parishes in Raeford and Plymouth from 1985 to 2005.]
“Bishop Gossman saw no reason [the women] shouldn’t be full pastors,” writes Yonat Shimron. “In his own respectful way, he repeatedly expressed his frustration with the Church teaching that women can never be priests…
“Recalling Bishop Gossman now, at his death, it’s worth pondering whether his vision of pastoral leadership—and the church—might find new life.”