It’s the first time in 20 years the diocese – which includes 46 counties in the western half of North Carolina – has installed a new bishop, as longtime Bishop Peter Jugis announced his retirement in April.

In a celebration that drew more than 1,500 people, including a dozen bishops and a cardinal, Franciscan priest Father Michael Martin was ordained a bishop on Wednesday and will assume leadership of the growing Diocese of Charlotte on Thursday – a historic moment for western North Carolina, now home to 530,000 Catholics.

During the three-hour liturgy at St. Mark Catholic Church, percussion instruments and horns heralded a long procession of clergy and other church dignitaries, who joined the people of the diocese in the church, including Martin’s friends, family and Franciscan brothers.

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