Family members and close friends say new archbishop is walking in step with God’s plan

Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre is seen in this 2007 family photo with his parents, the late Luke Jr. and Theresa Fabre, seated, and his siblings with their spouses, from left, the late Gerald Fabre, with his wife Barbara Fabre, Dianne Signater with her late husband Lionel Signater and Angelo Fabre with his wife Monica Fabre. Archbishop Fabre will be installed as Archbishop of Louisville, today, March 30 at the Kentucky International Convention Center. (Photo Special to The Record)

Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre will be installed as the 10th Bishop and fifth Archbishop of Louisville today at 2 p.m. at the Kentucky International Convention Center in downtown Louisville.

Archbishop Fabre was ordained a priest in August 1989 in Baton Rouge, La. And that’s really what he aspired to be.

But as God, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis would have it, Archbishop Fabre was ordained an auxiliary bishop of New Orleans in February 2007.

Then in October 2013, he was installed as bishop of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux in Houma, La.
And on March 30, 2022, he became Archbishop of Louisville.

Those who know him best — family members and close friends — don’t call him archbishop, bishop or even father. To them, he’s Shelton.

“It’s been like 30 years,” said Craig Maxson in a recent phone interview. Maxson and the archbishop have known each other since he was Father Fabre, serving as the associate pastor of St. George Church in Baton Rouge from 1992 to 1994.

“He has been our family for decades. Matter of fact, we’re moving to Louisville. We have been his rock and he’s been ours.”

As someone who has known Louisville’s fifth archbishop for so many years, Maxson doesn’t think Archbishop Fabre has changed much as a person.

“He is the most humble person that is comfortable where he is,” Maxson said. “The last parish he was at was a dual parish, and he would have been happy to live out his days there. He is not one to look for grandeur.”

Archbishop Fabre’s niece, Leah Broussard, said her uncle is “one of the few people I know who’s walking fully in step with what God wants him to.”

“He’s really doing what God wants him to do,” she said in a recent phone interview. “I can see from the progression of his life.”

Having a priest in the family has been nice, according to Broussard. She said that “meeting the other priests he knows has been an experience. Seeing their friendship” helped her to see that priests are regular people.

“You never get to see them outside” church, Broussard said. “I’m glad to have that experience.”

The archbishop has been present for all of Broussard’s family milestones, even presiding at her wedding, baptizing her children and presiding over her father’s funeral.

For Maxson’s family, Archbishop Fabre presided at his son’s wedding and will do the same for his daughter this year.

Beyond the duties of his vocation, Broussard said her uncle plays the piano and likes to bake. Maxson shared that the archbishop has an extensive clock collection.

“I look back and I see him playing with puppets behind our sofa with our daughter,” Maxson said. “With us he’s part of the family.”
Maxson even credits the archbishop’s influence for his wife deciding to earn a master’s degree.

“My wife is a spiritual director,” he said. “I don’t think she would have done that necessarily if we hadn’t known him.”
Maxson said Archbishop Fabre is very personable, caring and humble.

“We see him in action,” Maxson said. “When you are talking to him, you are his universe. You have his full attention. … I think people will view him one-on-one as very approachable.”

Broussard said it’ll be hard to adjust to Archbishop Fabre living so far away — from where she lives in Baton Rouge to Louisville is more than 750 miles and in a different time zone.

“He is just so very special to me,” she said. “I know I can call him for and about anything. The thing I like most about Shelton is he’s the same with everyone. … It makes it easy for me as a family member to go to him for advice because I know he will have that calm demeanor. You can be your actual self. He’ll still talk to you the next day.”

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