Three priests of the Archdiocese of Louisville, who have decades of experience as pastors and in other leadership roles, will assume new curia positions July 1.
Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre announced in March that Father Jeffrey P. Shooner would become Vicar General of the archdiocese; Father Anthony L. Chandler will be the Vicar for Priests; and Father Martin A. Linebach has been named to the new role of Vicar for Vocations.
The priests said in recent interviews that they are looking forward to serving.
Father Shooner sees his new role as Vicar General as an opportunity to serve the archbishop and, thereby, the people of God in Central Kentucky. The Vicar General of a diocese is the bishop’s principal deputy, representing him as needed in various ways.
Vicars General are “able to administer a diocese in the bishop’s name in the event of an absence or illness of the ordinary,” according to an announcement from the archdiocese. “A Vicar General assists the bishop in many roles, including conferral of the sacrament of Confirmation, representing the bishop at ceremonial functions and serving as a principal advisor on the Priests’ Council and the College of Consultors, as well as other boards and councils at the bishop’s request.”
For Father Shooner, “Ultimately it’s a call to bring Jesus to others and part of that for me has to be, ‘How do I assist the archbishop in doing that, with his mind, his heart and his presence? How do I best serve him?’ By serving him, it’s really serving the people of God in the Archdiocese of Louisville.”
Father Shooner said he looks to Jesus’ leadership style for guidance.
“A lot of times when I think about leadership, I think about how Jesus really inverted the pyramid and didn’t climb to the top, but decided to get on the bottom and lift others up. I’m best serving when I’m lifting up the gifts and potential of others.”
With this role in particular, he said, he’ll align himself “with the archbishop’s vision.”
“There’s kind of a transparency to me in this role that’s hopefully not ‘what I bring to the role,’ but how I can assist the archbishop as pastor of our local church. In some ways, it’s extending his presence and through that bringing Christ to others.”
“The appointment was unexpected and I am grateful and humbled by the trust of the archbishop in me,” he added.
Father Shooner currently serves as the Vicar for Priests, as director of the Priest Personnel Office and as pastor of two parishes, St. Patrick and St. Boniface churches. He will continue to serve as pastor of these parishes.
He was ordained to the priesthood Dec. 11, 2004. He was born March 7, 1971, in Covington, Ky. In the Archdiocese of Louisville, he attended St. Helen and St. Polycarp schools and Holy Cross High School. He then attended the United States Air Force Academy. Following graduation in 1993, he served as an intelligence officer in the United States Air Force and was honorably discharged as a captain in 1998. He then attended Theological College and the Catholic University of America for major seminary.
In addition to his current assignments, he has served as pastor of St. Lawrence Church and as associate pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in La Grange, Ky., St. James Church in Elizabethtown, Ky., and St. Ignatius Church in White Mills, Ky. He has also served as administrator pro-tempore at the following parishes: Good Shepherd, Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Albert the Great, Annunciation in Shelbyville, Ky., and St. John Chrysostom in Eminence, Ky. He has served as presbyteral moderator for St. William Church and St. Thomas and St. Monica churches, both in Bardstown. He also served as sacramental moderator for St. Boniface.
Father Shooner has also served the archdiocese as director of vocations and associate director of vocations. He has served as a consultor and member of the Priests’ Council. He also served as chairman of the board of Holy Cross High School.
Father Chandler said he’s looking forward to the challenge of serving as Vicar for Priests. In this role, he will direct the archdiocesan Office of Priest Personnel and assist in the administration of priest personnel matters, including proposing appointments, fostering continuing education and providing support for priests. He will also serve as rector of the Cathedral of the Assumption.
In his role as Vicar for Priests, Father Chandler said he’s becoming a “conduit between priest and bishop.”
“I’ve had a great rapport with most priests. They know I am open and honest and I hope they will see me as someone of integrity and someone they can trust,” he said in a recent interview.
He’s aware, he noted, that in this role there will be many issues to address as priests reach out to him. “I hope I can be available as quickly as possible. I want to be present,” he said.
Father Chandler said one of his goals is to “take a fresh look at how we do (priest) assignments. I’d like to see us work to lessen the amount of movement. We lose momentum … and it’s especially hard to get to know the people,” he said.
Prior to this appointment, Father Chandler served as president/CEO of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Fort Worth, Texas.
He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville on May 27, 1989. Born on April 15, 1961, in Louisville, Father Chandler was baptized at St. Augustine Church. He attended St. George School and Bishop David High School. He attended Western Kentucky University and St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology for college. He then attended the Catholic University of America for major seminary. He also completed post-graduate studies, earning a master’s degree from the University of Louisville in 1985 and an MBA from the University of Maryland in 1993.
Father Chandler has served as pastor of Holy Family Church; St. Bartholomew Church; St. John the Apostle Church in Brandenburg, Ky.; St. Martin of Tours Church in Flaherty, Ky.; Immaculate Conception Church in La Grange, Ky.; and St. Francis of Assisi Church.
He served as associate pastor of St. Martha Church and as administrator pro-tempore at St. Martha, St. Raphael and St. Michael churches. He also served as co-chaplain for St. Xavier High School.
Father Chandler has served the archdiocese as a consultor and president of the Priests’ Council. He has also served as director of the Vocation Office, defender of the bond, as a member of the Archdiocesan Planning Committee and the Catholic Schools Athletic Association. He has served on several boards, including the One Church/One Child Adoption Board, the Holy Cross High School Board, the National Finance Committee-National Black and Indian Mission and the St. Meinrad Board of Overseers.
He also has served as vice chancellor for the Archdiocese of Military Services.
Father Linebach will serve full-time in vocation ministry as the Vicar for Vocations and the director of the Vocation Office. He currently serves as interim director of the Vocation Office, Vicar General of the archdiocese and rector of the Cathedral of the Assumption.
The Vicar for Vocations is a new position in the archdiocese and “raises the importance of the Office of Vocations,” said Father Linebach, noting that in creating the role, the archbishop is “highlighting the importance of vocations for the archdiocese.”
This newly expanded position will provide for additional emphasis on the promotion and support of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated religious life, he said.
Father Linebach said he has enjoyed his service to the Vocation Office as interim director. His new role will “allow me to give 110 percent to it,” he said in a recent interview.
He hopes to “build a culture of priestly vocation in the archdiocese by saturating parishes and parents with the idea that there might be a possible vocation for” their son or the young men in their parishes, he said.
Father Linebach estimates the archdiocese could have 17 to 19 seminarians for the coming year, though applications are still in process.
In the next two to three years, he said he’d like to see about 30 “really solid candidates for priesthood.”
He will be in residence at St. Ignatius Martyr Church.
Father Linebach was ordained to the priesthood on May 30, 1987. Born May 9, 1956, in Louisville, Father Linebach was baptized at St. Joseph Infirmary. He attended St. Margaret Mary and St. Edward schools and Eastern High School. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature with a minor in philosophy from Bellarmine University in 1978 and a Master of Divinity degree from the Theological College of the Catholic University of America in 1987. He was later assigned to graduate studies at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley — liturgical studies — from 1993-1994. He earned a Master of Science degree in organization development from Loyola University in Chicago in 2002.
Father Linebach has served as pastor of St. Patrick Church; St. James Church in Elizabethtown, Ky.; St. Ignatius Church in White Mills, Ky.; and St. Ambrose Church in Cecilia, Ky.
He served as associate pastor of Mother of Good Counsel Church, Holy Trinity Church, the Cathedral of the Assumption, St. Boniface and St. Aloysius Church in Pewee Valley, Ky. He served as administrator pro-tempore at Mother of Good Counsel and St. Ignatius Martyr. He was presbyteral moderator at Holy Family.
Father Linebach has also served the archdiocese as director of the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations. He has served as spiritual director for the Separated/Divorced Ministry, on the Peace and Justice Commission and as a member of the Priests’ Council and as a Consultor.