Today I greet you with a new title – Apostolic Administrator – for the Archdiocese of Louisville and with a heart full of joy at the announcement of our new Archbishop, Msgr. Shelton Joseph Fabre.
The week of the announcement, I wrote to our priests about Bishop Fabre, my plans and an opportunity to help the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, and it occurred to me to share this same information with you. Below is my letter to the priests of the Archdiocese.
My dear brother priests,
Rejoice and be happy! How grateful I am that our Holy Father has appointed Bishop Shelton Joseph Fabre as our 10th Bishop and 5th Archbishop. I was delighted with the response of so many priests who were able to come yesterday to the special prayer and dialogue that Bishop Shelton requested with his priests in the Archdiocese. The notice was short, and I’m sure not all of you were able to come, but each of you will certainly hear again his message of faith in Jesus Christ, his love for his brother priests and his desire to know and for you to serve.
I also wanted you to know that our Holy Father has appointed me to serve as Apostolic Administrator to care for the Archdiocese until Bishop Shelton is installed on March 30. It will be my joy to provide this service.
As I reflect on your kindness and the privilege that has been mine to serve as Archbishop for nearly 15 years, my heart swells with gratitude for you! I have ordained 30 of you brother priests, I have presided over the Christian burial mass for many of our brothers who have come to the Lord, I have joined you in annual priests’ assemblies, parish visits , regional dialogues, meetings of councils of priests and, most importantly, individual meetings during which we learned to know and love each other.
I had the particular privilege of presiding each year at the Chrism Mass, during which I received the renewal of your priestly promises, pledged my support and asked the faithful to pray for me as well as for you.
This period of transition to my retirement is one that many of you senior priests have been through before and so you know it is bittersweet. As I rejoice with all my heart in the presence and leadership of Bishop Shelton among us and pledge my support and desire to do all in my power to serve with him, I also embrace the call from the Lord for me to open a new chapter in the book of my life.
As Bishop Kelly did nearly 15 years ago when I became Archbishop, I will be away from the Archdiocese for a few months to give Bishop Shelton every opportunity to become Archbishop and define his own rhythm. I will be living in Wilmington, NC, not too far from the Duke Cancer Institute where I continue to receive cancer follow-up.
I hope to return for the Chrism Mass so that I can join you in renewing priestly vows and praying for Bishop Shelton as your new Archbishop. I also hope that I will have the opportunity to participate in the Priests’ Assembly Summer Banquet in early June and, if possible, to concelebrate the Priestly Ordination Mass for Deacon Dustin Hungerford in May.
After a few months out of town, I will enjoy the hospitality of Father Jeff Shooner who has invited me to join Father Quan Nguyen and Father Tony Smith at St. Archbishop Shelton to share the confirmations as he wishes. I also plan to spend a good portion of my time in Wilmington, NC. Please continue to pray for me so that I may continue to serve Jesus Christ as his holy priest and rest assured that daily I will be praying for you.
Bishop Shelton made mention of the terrible devastation that occurred in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, and I would like to invite you to join me in a donation from the Archdiocese of Louisville to diocese of Houma-Thibodaux for the church and humanitarian aid.
This gift will be presented to Bishop Shelton during the period he continues to serve as Trustee of Houma-Thibodaux, which he has served so well for the past eight years. Within the next day, you will receive a letter noting the amount of the archdiocesan donation and inviting you to consider whether your parish might be able to add to this donation. Because we have had so many recent collections, I am not asking you to undertake a special collection, but simply to join in according to the circumstances of your parish.
Thank you for continuing to pray for me as I pray for you. Please do not hesitate to call me if I can assist you in any way during these last days as we prepare for the wonderful Installation Mass on March 30, 2022.
God loves you!