Msgr. Raymond J. Boland, 56, chancellor and vicar general of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, has been named by Pope John Paul II as bishop of Birmingham, the second man to head the 19-year-old diocese.

Born and educated in Ireland, Boland volunteered to work overseas after his ordination at All Hallows College in Dublin and was assigned to the Washington archdiocese in 1957 as associate pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Silver Spring.

He has served his entire career as a priest thus far in the Washington archdiocese.

Boland served churches in Forestville and Greenbelt and was pastor of St. Camillus in Silver Spring when he was named by Archbishop James A. Hickey as chancellor, the top administrative post in a diocese under a bishop.

Boland was appointed chancellor in 1984 to succeed John F. Donoghue when he was made bishop of Charlotte, N.C.

During his years in parish work, Boland was active in youth work in the archdiocese, and from 1975 to 1981, he headed the first Secretariat for Catholic Education established in the archdiocese.

When Pope John Paul II made his first visit to this country in 1979, Boland coordinated details of the pontiff's two days in Washington that wound up his weeklong tour.

The Birmingham diocese, with a Catholic population of 55,366 in an area that is dominated by evangelical Protestantism, covers the northern part of Alabama and was spun off from the Diocese of Mobile in 1969. Boland succeeds Bishop Joseph G. Vath, who died last July.

In commenting on the appointment, Hickey noted that Boland was the fifth Washington priest in recent years to be made a bishop. The others, in addition to Donoghue, are Bishop Sean O'Malley of the Virgin Islands, Auxiliary Bishop John Ricard of Baltimore and Auxiliary Bishop David Foley of Richmond.