Archbishop Shelton will be invested with the pallium at a special Mass Sept. 20

Pope Francis is pictured in his pallium after celebrating Mass on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican June 29, 2021. Following the liturgy, he presented pallia to those who were appointed metropolitan archbishops in the previous year. (CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters)

Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre has invited Catholics in the Archdiocese of Louisville to attend a special Mass on Sept. 20, when he will be invested with his pallium.

Pope Francis distributed the woolen vestments June 29 to 44 men from 32 countries who became metropolitan archbishops in the past year. The garment, meant to be formally conferred upon recipients in their own dioceses, represents the archbishop’s unity with the Holy See and his role as shepherd to the people of the Archdiocese of Louisville.

The Tuesday evening Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption will be a typical liturgy with an additional ritual at the beginning, said Dr. Karen Shadle, director of the archdiocese’s Office of Worship. 

Archbishop Fabre will kneel on the cathedral’s floor and the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Christophe Pierre will place the natural wool-colored vestment on his shoulders, Shadle said. As he does so, the nuncio will pray that the pallium will “be for you a symbol of unity and a sign of communion with the Apostolic See.” 

The prayer continues: “Let it be a bond of charity and an impetus to fortitude, so that on the day of the coming and of the revelation of the great God and of the prince of pastors, Jesus Christ, you may obtain, together with the flock entrusted to you the garment of immortality and glory.”

Archbishop Fabre explains in his column this month that the pallium is imbued with symbolism and the Holy See takes great care to emphasize its significance. For instance, the garment is made of wool from a particular pair of lambs that are twice blessed and then nurtured for the purpose. 

He goes on to explain that the pallium represents two lambs: “Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away our sins, and the lost sheep whom the archbishop, in the person of Christ, carries on his shoulders back to the Father’s house.”

Finding the lost sheep and “bringing them home” is a mission shared by all Catholics of the Archdiocese of Louisville, said Shadle.

“We have one common mission — to save souls,” she said during an interview about the pallium. “We all have those people in our lives who you want to say to, ‘Come home,’ people you are praying for who you want to return to the church.

“This Mass would be something to bring them to or a place to pray for those people,” she said.

She also noted that holy objects, such as pallia, are meant to help “point us to God.”

“When we see it on Archbishop Shelton … we see his humility as a shepherd who cares for us as a shepherd cares for his sheep,” she said.

When Pope Francis distributed the pallia on June 29, he encouraged the archbishops in attendance to be “vigilant sentinels” over their flock and to ” ‘fight the good fight,’ never alone, but together with all the holy and faithful people of God.”

“As good shepherds, you must be in front of the people, in the midst of the people and behind the people,” the pope said, “but always with the holy faithful people of God.”

The Mass of investiture on Sept. 20 will begin at 6 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Assumption, 433 S. Fifth St. It will be followed by a reception. 

In addition to the apostolic nuncio, priests of the archdiocese and several bishops are expected to attend. All are welcome.

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