Message from the Archbishop — A vocation filled with grace and blessings

Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre

My earliest memory of considering priesthood is when I was 5 or 6 years old, when our jovial Irish pastor told me I should be a priest. It stuck in my mind.

Baton Rouge had a high school seminary at the time, and I decided to enter in the ninth grade. However, I did not like it and returned home after three days!

I attended Catholic High of Pointe Coupee, graduating in 1981. After the death of my older brother to leukemia in 1980, I wondered about life and death and faith. The idea of priesthood arose again, so I decided to attend St. Joseph Seminary College (St. Ben) in St. Benedict, Louisiana, a seminary conducted by St. Joseph Abbey, in the fall of 1981 as a seminarian for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.

Again, I did not like it and decided to leave the seminary at the end of the semester. However, I was visited by a Benedictine monk whom I greatly respected. He heard that I was not returning and asked me to reconsider. Because of my great respect for him, I returned. My second semester was better than my first, and I enjoyed the seminary.

I ended up liking it so much that I decided that I would enter the monastery and become a monk. My introverted personality drew me to the life of the monks. My spiritual director was a monk, and I expected him to be delighted that I planned to join the monastery, but his response was, “God has not called you to be a monk.”

I was stunned and disappointed. He said that I was seeking to simply “hide at the abbey,” and that is not why God calls people to monastic life. He encouraged me to continue discerning diocesan priesthood, which I did.

After graduation from college seminary, my bishop sent me to study at the American College in Leuven, Belgium, a seminary in Europe sponsored by the American bishops. I thoroughly enjoyed the academics, priestly formation and life in Belgium at the American College.

I learned so much from attending the Catholic University of Leuven, founded in 1425, and learned even more from the seminary formation faculty about being a priest. The American College formed me into the priest and bishop I am today.

I was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Baton Rouge in August 1989 and served for 17 years as a priest in that diocese. In 2006, I was named Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans. I became Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux in October of 2013 and Archbishop of Louisville in March of 2022.

Each person’s vocation story is unique to them, as is mine to me. The important point that I want to make is that I ALWAYS have been fulfilled in my life as a priest and bishop.

It is a life filled with grace and blessings.

If you feel called to priesthood or religious life, do not be afraid! Trust the Lord and do what is needed to begin to discern the call.

Most Reverend Shelton J. Fabre
Archbishop of Louisville

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