On March 29, the eve of his installation as Archbishop of Louisville, Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre enacted a centuries-old ritual, knocking three times on the front doors of the mother church from which he will lead close to 200,000 Catholic faithful.
Archbishop Fabre will be installed as the 10th bishop and fifth Archbishop of Louisville March 30 at the Kentucky International Convention Center.
Upon entering the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville, Archbishop Fabre prayed solemn vespers, where he shared with the members of the clergy, laity and religious who’d gathered, that Jesus Christ needs them, the church needs them and that he needs them.
Archbishop Fabre expressed gratitude.
“I am grateful to be here in this cathedral and grateful that you are here with me,” he said. “What a blessing it is for me to be called to be a part of the family here in this wonderful archdiocese.”
He also thanked his predecessor, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, saying, “I am honored to be given the opportunity to build on your good work here.”
Archbishop Fabre told his listeners that an archdiocese is often thought of abstractly, but the “reality is that we are the archdiocese.”
“The archdiocese is you, the good people … you and I. We are over 180,000 Catholics together,” he said. “We are 110 uniquely beautiful parishes in harmony with the one who serves you as archbishop. The Archdiocese of Louisville is a particular people with a rich history and unique personality. … We are the Archdiocese of Louisville and, my friends, we are in this together. I need you, the Lord Jesus needs you and the church here needs you.”
Archbishop Fabre drew the congregation’s attention to the Scripture reading from the second chapter of the Book of James in which the apostle speaks to early Christians about the importance of faith and works.
“The apostle James is speaking to us tonight with those very words. Our words express our faith. Our work makes visible to the world the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our work, not merely on behalf of Jesus, but with Jesus, reveals Jesus to a world that is in desperate need of his guidance and mercy,” said Archbishop Fabre.
He went on to say that it was important for that work to be done together.
Unity, he said, doesn’t mean individuals share the same vocation, do the same thing or share the same titles. Unity does mean, however, that they serve the same God.
“There’s one savior, Jesus Christ. There’s one mission: to make disciples. Our unity leads us to respect the common responsibility that is ours together, as we all acknowledge each of our individual gifts,” he said.
Archbishop Fabre delivered a message to priests, deacons and religious men and women:
- To his “brother priests,” he said, “The people of God, whom we serve, need you. Your pastoral leadership and presence are essential for the continued pastoral growth of our people.
“I need the very best that you are, the very best that you can offer. We are in this together.” Archbishop Fabre then promised his priests, “I will give you my very best in service to the faith and I pray that we can be unified together in this effort.”
- To the deacons, he said, “The diaconate call to serve is a sacred privilege. … I have always been grateful for the untiring service of deacons. I’m also grateful for the many ways your wives allow you to serve the church. Their willingness to share you with the church is a great gift.” He added, “I will give you my service and humility to the faith.”
- To the religious women and men, he said, “You have given your heart to the Lord in total availability. At the center of one’s vocation to religious life is a call to availability to your religious community and sharing your particular charism in service to the people of God. I, tonight, recommit to my total availability to the Lord in faith.”
- To the lay faithful, he said, “We all share a common call from the Lord to devote our lives to the Gospel. Each of us is unique in the particular way that we, as the apostle James urges us, show the faith that underlies our work.”
The archbishop urged them all to be united in their work together.
“The archdiocese is people and we are always strongest when we are united in service to the Lord,” he said. “The Archdiocese of Louisville is us, you and me. It’s a community of believers, disciples who are on a journey of life together. … Each of us in our particular vocation has a role to play in the mission of Jesus Christ. Every one of us must profess faith and practice it.”