Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo by Jackie Holcombe
Bishop-designate Michael Martin, OFM Conv., prays at the 2023 Good Friday service at St. Philip Benizi Church in Jonesboro. The current pastor of the Clayton County parish was appointed by Pope Francis April 9 to lead the Charlotte, North Carolina diocese.


St. Philip Benizi pastor appointed Charlotte’s fifth bishop

By CATHOLIC NEWS HERALD STAFF | Published April 9, 2024  | En Español

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina—Pope Francis has appointed Father Michael T. Martin, OFM Conv., as bishop of the Diocese of Charlotte. The announcement was made the morning of April 9. Father Martin is pastor of St. Philip Benizi Church in Jonesboro in the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

Current Charlotte Bishop Peter J. Jugis is retiring due to health limitations from a kidney condition.

Bishop-designate Martin, 62, is a priest of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual. He has deep roots in Catholic education—having served as a teacher, coach and school administrator in Baltimore, New York and Durham, North Carolina—and arrives at a time of record enrollment in the Diocese of Charlotte’s 20 schools.

He will be ordained and installed as the fifth Bishop of Charlotte on May 29 at St. Mark Catholic Church in Huntersville.

“I am amazed and humbled that the Holy Father has faith in me to call me to serve the people of Western North Carolina,” Bishop-designate Martin said. “I am excited to get to know you and to listen to the ways in which together we can respond to the call of the Holy Spirit to be disciples of Jesus.”

The Diocese of Charlotte held a morning press conference April 9 in which Bishop Jugis, a Charlotte native, introduced his successor. Bishop Jugis called it “a joy and a blessing” to have been able to serve the people of God in his home diocese.

“We are grateful to the Holy Father that he has chosen to send him to us,” he said about the bishop-designate.

St. Philip Benizi Church’s pastor, Father Michael Martin, OFM Conv, leads the Good Friday service in 2023 at the parish. He was appointed the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Charlotte April 9. Photo by Jackie Holcombe

Speaking before Catholic media and diocesan staff in the livestreamed press conference, Bishop-designate Martin extended his best wishes to his predecessor.

“His love of Jesus and the church has been so evident,” he said of Bishop Jugis’ service.

Bishop-designate Martin acknowledged the “normal jitters” that he and the Catholic community in Charlotte have as it’s been 20 years since an episcopal ordination there.

The consolation, he said is that “Jesus is still in the boat with us.”

“We need not fear when our God loves us so much to send us his only son to share in the fullness of our human experience in the old and the new,” he said.

Bishop-designate Martin was born in Baltimore on Dec. 2, 1961, the only boy of four children in a Catholic family whose faith was an integral part of their lives. He attended Archbishop Curley High School in Baltimore, where he would later return to work. In 1979, when he was 17, he entered the Conventual Franciscan Friars Novitiate in Ellicott City, Maryland. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. Hyacinth College-Seminary (Massachusetts), earned a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University of St. Bonaventure (Rome) and received a master’s degree in education from Boston College.

He worked as a religious studies teacher and coach at St. Francis High School in Athol Springs, New York, in 1984-85, then as a transitional deacon at St. Adalbert Parish in Elmhurst, New York, in 1988-1989.

He was ordained to the priesthood on June 10, 1989, by then Auxiliary Bishop John Ricard of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, at St. Casimir Church in Baltimore.

Following his ordination, he returned to St. Francis High School to serve as admissions director, teacher and coach, from 1989 to 1994. He then served in several positions at his alma mater, Archbishop Curley High School, from 1994 to 2010—including president, principal, admissions director, teacher and basketball coach.

In 2007, he was the recipient of the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award from then-Pope Benedict XVI for his service to the church.

Bishop-designate Martin is no stranger to North Carolina, having served as director of the Duke Catholic Center from 2010 to 2022. The center serves and supports a Catholic student population that is the largest single denomination on campus, about 2,500 students. He was assigned to serve at St. Philip Benizi in Jonesboro in 2022, where his order has long served the Clayton County Catholic community. The parish serves 2,100 families.

He has also held a number of leadership positions in the church, particularly in Catholic education. He was an adjunct faculty member at Xavier University in Cincinnati, served on multiple Catholic school boards including Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh and worked with Partners in Mission, a Boston-based consulting firm that partners with Catholic schools and institutions to advance the mission of Catholic education.

Atlanta Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., who belongs to the same religious order and who also served at St. Philip Benizi prior to being named a bishop, said Father Martin is a devoted priest and will be a wonderful shepherd for the Diocese of Charlotte.

“I believe Pope Francis has made an excellent choice for the Church of Charlotte,” said the archbishop, who also leads the Catholic Church’s three-state province of Georgia and the Carolinas. “Bishop-elect Martin is a man who is deeply in love with Jesus, and he is a faithful son of St. Francis of Assisi. He comes to the Diocese of Charlotte with many gifts and a wealth of experience, and a love for God’s people. I believe he will be a bishop who listens and leads.”

Georgia Bulletin Editor Nichole Golden contributed to this story of Catholic News Herald, the newspaper of the Diocese of Charlotte.