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Archdiocesan Bishop, Most Rev. Kevin M. Birmingham, Dies

Birmingham was auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Chicago and former secretary to the archbishop


Chicago (Oct. 3, 2023) – Most Rev. Kevin M. Birmingham, auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Chicago and former secretary to Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, passed away unexpectedly Monday, Oct. 2, 2023. He was 51 years old, a few days shy of his 52nd birthday.

Birmingham was born on Oct. 7, 1971 in Oak Lawn to Jeanette Ann Larsen and Joseph James Birmingham. He attended Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago, Niles College Seminary in Niles and the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein.

Birmingham was ordained to the priesthood on May 24, 1997, by Archbishop Francis George, and he celebrated his first solemn Mass on May 25 of the same year at Our Lady of the Ridge Parish in Chicago Ridge.

As Birmingham stated in a Chicago Catholic interview in 2020, the Oblate Sisters of Jesus the Priest from Mexico City, who ministered at Niles College and Mundelein Seminary, arranged for his second Mass as a priest to be celebrated from the main altar at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. He made the trip to Mexico after his ordination to give thanks to Our Lady of Guadalupe, to whom he developed a devotion while he was in seminary, especially when he spent time in Morelia, Mexico, learning Spanish.

After ordination to the priesthood, Birmingham served as associate pastor at St. Peter Claver Mission in Robbins, St. Benedict Parish in Blue Island and St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Orland Park. He was pastor at St. Anne Parish in Hazel Crest (2005 – 2011) and Maternity BVM Parish on North Avenue in Chicago (2011 – 2014). Birmingham served as administrative secretary to Cardinal Cupich from 2014 to 2020.

“The Church has lost a wonderful priest and bishop today and I lost a dear friend and valued colleague,” said Cardinal Cupich. “From the start of his ministry, Bishop Kevin Birmingham was a devoted and joyful priest. He felt called to serve Latino Catholics especially, and he learned Spanish in order to do so. He served in my office for six years as priest-secretary, always with dedication and attention to every detail, a role in which his reputation for kindness only grew. May we honor his memory by continuing to do as he did, and model the love God has for his children in all we do.”

Most. Rev. Jeffrey Grob was consecrated as an auxiliary bishop of Chicago alongside Birmingham. He had known him his whole priesthood and worked together when Grob was in the chancery. “He was genuine, personable, funny and pastoral. He had a pastor’s heart. Even after he became a bishop he did not put on airs, you saw the true man. His laughter was contagious, but in the moment, he could be genuinely concerned about an issue. Sincere and genuine: That is what drew people to him.”

Birmingham was appointed director of the Department of Parish Vitality and Mission in July 2020 for a year. On Sept. 11, 2020, Birmingham was appointed auxiliary bishop of Chicago and Titular Bishop of Dolia. He was ordained a bishop on Nov. 13, 2020 by Cardinal Cupich at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago and became Episcopal Vicar of Vicariate IV. Last month, after the retirement of Bishop Joseph Perry, Birmingham was assigned to oversee Vicariate VI.

Most Rev. Robert J. Lombardo shared that he always found “Bishop Kevin” a joy to be with. “He was dedicated to God and the Church and always had a very joyful spirit. He will be greatly missed.”

Sarah Machaj, senior administrative assistant in the Archbishop’s Office, had worked with Birmingham from 2015 until 2020. “Bishop Kevin lit up every room he walked into and brought with him his dry wit and just a little bit of mischief,” Machaj said affectionately. “He was an incredibly hard worker, but never asked for recognition. He was humble, truly kind and had a laugh that was contagious. He was the most genuine person I’ve ever known, and he will be greatly missed.” 

Survivors include his mother Jeanette A. (nee Larsen) Birmingham and his siblings: Gary (Sandy) Birmingham, Jeanne (Dave) Williams, Joleen (David) Fields, Donna (the late Mike) Green, Matt (Debbie) Birmingham, Theresa Gill, Mark Birmingham and Brandon (Elizabeth) Birmingham. He was uncle of 23 nephews and nieces, and great uncle of many.

He was preceded in death by his father and brother, Lawrence J. "Larry" Birmingham.

Funeral arrangements are noted below:

Friday, Oct. 6:


  • From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Church of Our Lady of the Ridge, 10811 Ridgeland Avenue in Chicago Ridge.
  • From 4 to 10 p.m. at Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N. State Street in Chicago.
    Worship aid for the Rite of Reception into the Cathedral (PDF).

Vigil Service for the Deceased

  • 7:30 p.m. at Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N. State Street in Chicago. Cardinal Cupich will preside and Bishop Grob will preach.
    Worship aid (PDF).

Saturday, Oct. 7:

  • Visitation hours from 9 to 11 a.m. at Holy Name Cathedral.
  • Funeral Mass at 11 a.m. at Holy Name Cathedral. Cardinal Cupich will preside over the Mass and Bishop Lombardo will be the homilist.
    Worship aid (PDF)

Interment will follow at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Alsip.

The Rite of Reception Into the Cathedral -- Kevin Michael Birmingham, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago


Vigil Service - Kevin Michael Birmingham, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago


Funeral Mass - Kevin Michael Birmingham, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago