Pope Francis has named Father Roy Edward Campbell Jr., pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Largo, Maryland, as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington. The appointment was announced in Washington on March 8 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States.
“I am surprised. I never thought about something like this,” Bishop-elect Campbell said. “I was elated when the Lord chose me to be a priest of His son, Jesus Christ. That was more than enough for me. But, I think that whatever the Lord is calling me to do, that is what I want to do.”
His episcopal ordination will be Friday, April 21, at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington.
A native of Southern Maryland, Bishop-elect Campbell, 69, was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington in 2007. Prior to becoming a priest, he was a banking official for more than 30 years.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, in a statement released after the appointment was announced, said the bishop-elect “brings to his new ministry recognized talent and demonstrated ability. He also bears witness to the great cultural and ethnic richness of the Church of Washington reflected in all of the faithful, lay, religious and clergy.”
“All of us in the Archdiocese are deeply grateful that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has named Father Roy Campbell to be an auxiliary bishop in our Church of Washington,” Cardinal Wuerl said in his statement, noting that the new bishop was born, grew up, worked and served in this archdiocese.
“Personally I look forward to continuing to work closely with our new auxiliary bishop, who over the years has made significant contributions to the pastoral life of this archdiocese,” the cardinal said.
Bishop-elect Campbell said he learned about his appointment while in an airport in Florida, as he was waiting for a flight to return to the Archdiocese of Washington after celebrating a Black History Month Mass in Pensacola. He received the news in a phone call from Archbishop Pierre.
“I am amazed. I am very honored, and I do not feel worthy,” Bishop-elect Campbell said. “But I trust the Holy Spirit.”
As a bishop, he said he sees his role as “continuing to love and serve the people of God.”
“Being a bishop, I think, is a call to help the greater, universal Church,” he said, “It is a call to be like a priest in the parish but on a greater level, encompassing the whole archdiocese, not just my parish.”
Quoting Pope Francis that priest should be “shepherds with the smell of sheep,” the bishop-elect said he has always looked at his priesthood as “being with the people, to live in their lives and to offer them God’s sacraments, graces and whatever else they need.”
“It (being a priest) is who I am,” he added. “I can’t imagine being anything else – that is how much I love it.”
Born Nov. 19, 1947, in Pomonkey in Charles County, Southern Maryland, to Roy Edward Campbell, Sr. and Julia Ann (Chesley) Campbell, Bishop-elect Campbell moved as a small child with his family to Washington, where he, his mother and siblings were members of the Shrine of the Sacred Heart Parish in Northwest.
He was baptized at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Indian Head, Maryland; received his First Holy Communion in 1956 at St. Cyprian Church in Southeast Washington; and the Sacrament of Confirmation in 1959 at Sacred Heart Church.
He attended Sacred Heart School and is a 1965 graduate of Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington.
A graduate of Howard University and the University of Virginia’s Graduate School of Retail Bank Management, he had a 33-year career with Bank of America, working his way up from teller to vice president and project manager. In the 1980s, he served for five years on the Board of Directors of the American Lung Association of Maryland.
A former CYO basketball coach at Sacred Heart Parish, Bishop-elect Campbell became a member of St. Gabriel’s Parish in Northwest Washington in the 1990s. There, he was chairman of the parish finance council, co-chair of the capital campaign and treasurer of the Holy Name Society.
For the bishop-elect, the call to the priesthood is one he said he discerned off and on for more than 50 years.
“When I was seven years old, I used to come home from Mass and pretend to do what I saw the priest do at Mass,” he said in a 2007 interview with the Catholic Standard just prior to his priestly ordination. “The summer after eighth grade, I spent at a Franciscan Capuchin seminary. I thought about the priesthood again when I was in my 20s.”
Bishop-elect Campbell said he thought often about a priestly vocation and eventually began studies to become a permanent deacon.
While studying to become a deacon, he assisted in planning and serving in liturgies, tutoring grade school children through St. Gabriel Parish’s Petworth Youth Program, volunteered at Bethlehem House with adults who had physical and learning disabilities, and at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Institute with children who had emotional and learning disabilities.
After several years, Bishop-elect Campbell discerned that his real call was to the priesthood.
In January 2003, he entered Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts, to begin his priestly formation, and completed his seminary studies in 2007, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 26, 2007 by Cardinal Wuerl.
Father Campbell’s first parish assignment was as a parochial vicar at St. Augustine Parish in Washington from 2007 to 2008, while also taking care of the sacramental needs of Immaculate Conception Parish in Washington for six months. He was appointed pastor of Assumption Catholic Church in Southeast Washington in 2008, and in 2010 was appointed to his current assignment, as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Largo.
In addition to his duties as pastor of St. Joseph’s, he has served as dean of the Middle Prince George’s County Deanery, and as a member of the Clergy Personnel Board, Vocations Board and College of Consultors.
In that 2007 interview with the Catholic Standard prior to his ordination, he said that he was aided in his discernment by the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“I pray every day to our Blessed Mother,” he said then. “She will guide anyone to her son, and she does it with a mother’s love and care. She helped me, so that when I look at the crucifix, I realize what love truly is.”
That devotion to Our Lady has been a hallmark of Bishop-elect Campbell’s priesthood so much so that he would like “Do Whatever He Tells You” to be his episcopal motto.
“Those are the last words of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Bible (John 2:5),” he said. “And that is pretty much what I try to do in my ministry.”
Bishop-elect Campbell has three brothers, Roscoe William, Rodney Jerome and Robert, and two sisters, Cynthia and Darlene and his mother, Elizabeth (Barbour) Campbell. He is the uncle of eight nieces, five nephews, six grandnephews and two grandnieces.