Archbishop Fabre: ‘I want to learn how best to walk with’ the people of Louisville

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Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre meets the staff of the Office of Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., after celebrating Mass at Holy Family Church in Louisville Feb. 8, 2022. Pope Francis named the prelate, who has headed the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, La., since 2013, to succeed Louisville Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, 75, whose resignation was accepted by the pope the same day. (CNS photo/Marnie McAllister, The Record)

On Feb. 8, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had appointed Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, to replace Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky.

In a recent interview with Our Sunday Visitor, Archbishop Fabre discusses, among other things, how he will approach his new assignment, what he has learned during his ministry in Louisiana, and how he will reach out to the Black community in Louisville.

Our Sunday Visitor: What are you looking forward to most about taking on this new assignment in Louisville?

Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre: I am looking forward to getting to know the people of Louisville — the priests, the deacons, the religious and the laity. I know the Lord is walking with them, and I want to learn how best to walk with them on this journey. This is a new beginning for the Archdiocese of Louisville and myself, and I am excited to see Christ’s work in this new assignment.

Our Sunday Visitor: What are the most significant lessons you have learned from your years as a Bishop in Louisiana that you will take with you to Louisville?

Archbishop Fabre: I have learned that there are things to teach the faithful, and that there are things that the faithful have to teach me. I have learned that we are stronger together, no matter what we are facing; whether it be a pandemic or a hurricane. I have learned that I want to do God’s will for me, even if that does not line up with my will for myself. I have learned about the power of the sacraments to guide and direct us. I have learned about the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church. I have learned that we must have respect for all human life and to ensure the dignity of every human being.

Our Sunday Visitor: What will your first priorities be when you begin serving the faithful of the Archdiocese of Louisville?

Archbishop Fabre: My initial priority will be to listen and learn from the people of the archdiocese so that I can learn who they are and how best to serve. I want to learn about the graces and benefits of the ministries of the Church of Louisville and to see how Christ is at work there. I also want to get to know the priests of the Archdiocese as well.

Our Sunday Visitor: How will you reach out to the wounded but faithful Black community in Louisville, and why is it so important that you do so?

Archbishop Fabre: Just as I will with the other groups, my plan is to be present and to listen. I want to hear the stories of their pain and struggle to learn how to best meet these needs. This is important, because Black Catholics have been, and still are, an important part of our Church. Also, I want, to the best of my abilities, to create opportunities of healing so that we can move forward together as a community of faith because, just as St. Paul teaches us about the Body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12, “If one parts suffers, every part suffers with it.”

Our Sunday Visitor: Of all the potential candidates to replace Archbishop Kurtz, why do you think Pope Francis chose you in this moment?

Archbishop Fabre: I believe Pope Francis saw the many gifts and needs of the Archdiocese of Louisville, and he saw my gifts and needs, and he felt that they went well together.

Our Sunday Visitor: What have you learned about being a bishop from watching the ministry of Archbishop Kurtz?

Archbishop Fabre: Archbishop Kurtz is a man of great joy. He is a very personable shepherd who has served the Church of Louisville very very well.

Our Sunday Visitor: Is there anything else you would like to mention?

Archbishop Fabre: Please pray for me. Please pray for the people of Houma/Thibodaux. Please pray for the people of Louisville, and to please pray for Archbishop Kurtz.

Dr. Ansel Augustine writes from Louisiana.

Ansel Augustine

Ansel Augustine earned his D. Min from the Graduate Theological Foundation. He is the director of the office of Black Catholic ministries for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, and his website is