Though Archbishop Shelton Joseph Fabre has found joy and fulfillment as a bishop, parish ministry is still his first love.
Archbishop Fabre will be installed as the 10th bishop and fifth Archbishop of Louisville on March 30.
“I have been tremendously fulfilled and known great joy as a bishop, but I do miss pastoral ministry. I miss gathering with the same community every Sunday to worship. I miss sharing in people’s joys and sorrows in life, journeying through life with those entrusted to your care as pastor,” he said, noting that he still does this, just in a different way. “I signed up to be a parish priest. That’s what I wanted, but the Lord wanted something different.”
Archbishop Fabre was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Baton Rouge on Aug. 5, 1989. He went on to serve as pastor at St. Joseph Church in Grosse Tete, La., Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Maringouin, La., and Sacred Heart Heart of Jesus Church in Baton Rouge, La. He served as associate pastor at St. Alphonsus Liguori in Greenwell Springs, La., St. Isidore the Farmer Church in Baker, La., St. George Church and St. Joseph Cathedral, both in Baton Rouge.
A call in December 2006 changed the direction of his ministry.
“I got a call that Pope Benedict XVI had made me Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans, much to my shock and surprise,” he said. “I knew at that moment my life was changing, that I would not be in parish ministry anymore which is where my heart really was.”
That was one of those moments when he said he had to trust and believe.
“I believe and trust in the power of the Holy Spirit as the Holy Spirit works through the pope and through the church,” he said. “I want to do God’s will and not my will.”
Though he misses being in the parishes, he’s come to be happy as a bishop, he said.
New Orleans became his home, he said, and when he became bishop of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, he made a home there too.
“It became a place where my faith was nurtured through the faith of others and I certainly hope that my faith nurtured their faith. We were able to do wonderful things together. I was very fulfilled and knew great joy and I could have spent the rest of my life here,” he said. “I trust in the Lord and I know that Louisville will become my home and I’ll be fulfilled and happy there.”