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Pope Francis names Louisiana Bishop Fabre to lead Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky

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Pope Francis on Tuesday appointed Bishop Shelton Fabre to lead the Archdiocese of Louisville in Kentucky.

Fabre, who has been bishop of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux in Louisiana since 2013, succeeds Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, who submitted his resignation to Pope Francis in August on his 75th birthday.

The 58-year-old Fabre was a priest of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, before being made an auxiliary bishop of New Orleans in December 2006.

He served in New Orleans for almost seven years before Pope Francis appointed him bishop of Houma-Thibodaux, a diocese of around 90,000 Catholics in south-east Louisiana, outside New Orleans.

The Archdiocese of Louisville is a metropolitan see serving nearly 200,000 Catholics in 24 counties in central Kentucky.

In a Feb. 8 statement, Fabre said he is “both humbled and excited by this appointment by the Holy Father.”

“I pledge to serve the needs of this local church to the very best of my ability. In all we do, it is the Lord Jesus Christ we praise and serve as together we grow in faith,” the bishop said.

Fabre asked for prayers and said he looks forward “to this journey to the Lord with all of you.”

“When first ordained a Bishop, I chose as my episcopal motto, ‘Comfort my People,’ from the prophet Isaiah. (cf. Isaiah 40:1),” Fabre said. “These words are dear to my heart because they capture what I have always desired to do as a Bishop, as a pastor of souls. I sincerely believe our Lord is communicating these words to His people right now.”

Fabre was bishop of Houma-Thibodaux during the devastating storm caused by Hurricane Ida in August 2021.

“We’ve taken a significant blow and we just need some help right now,” Fabre told CNA after the hurricane hit the Gulf Coast of the United States. “And we trust that that help will come and that God will provide. So, you go forward and hope.”

In March 2020, Fabre was invited by Archbishop Kurtz to present the U.S. bishops’ pastoral letter against racism to leaders of the Louisville archdiocese.

“I have great faith and hope in the work already underway within our community regarding racial equality. I have great hope that through genuine encounter and accompaniment, we will work together to realize an even greater sense of the promotion of life, charity, justice, and peace as we endeavor to build an even greater civilization of love,” Fabre said in his statement on the Louisville archdiocese website.

In his own comments, Kurtz said Fabre “brings with him such outstanding gifts — a deep love of Jesus Christ, an abiding trust in Jesus’ care for His Church, a listening and very approachable spirit, a strength of character, and a desire to serve the people of God and all people as he humbly relies on the grace of Christ and power of the Holy Spirit.”

Fabre was born in New Roads, Louisiana, a town outside Baton Rouge. He is the fifth of six children.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Saint Joseph Seminary College in Saint Benedict, Louisiana, he was awarded a second bachelor’s and a master’s degree in religious studies from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium.

He was ordained a priest of Baton Rouge in 1989, where he served for 15 years as the director of the diocese’s Office of Black Catholics.

Since 2013 Fabre has been a member of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference committee on cultural diversity in the Church, and chair of the subcommittee for African-American Catholics.

He is a 4th degree Knight of Columbus, a 4th degree Knight of St. Peter Claver, and a member of the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher.


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