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From the bayou to the bluegrass, Meet Louisville's new Archbishop

Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre will now become the fifth Archbishop to lead the Archdiocese of Louisville.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has a new Archbishop. Pope Francis announced the appointment of Bishop Shelton J. Fabre Tuesday.

Archbishop Fabre comes to Louisville from Louisiana where he has been the Bishop of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux for the last eight and half years. Fabre will succeed Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, who has served the Archdiocese of Louisville since 2007. 

During a press conference held Tuesday, Archbishop Kurtz said Fabre will be Louisville's 5th Archbishop and 10th bishop over the last 200 years.

"We're getting someone who is a deeply human person, a very healthy person, a holy man and, in a special way, a good pastoral bishop," Kurtz said. He added that he anticipates that Fabre will bring a "cajun flavor" to his new Kentucky home.

Archbishop Fabre said he was humbled and excited by his new appointment as Louisville's next Archbishop. He became emotional when talking about his previous parish and the connections he made there, but said he was looking forward to getting to know the hearts of the people in this Archdiocese.

"The Lord has led me from the bayou to the bluegrass," Fabre said.

Credit: Archdiocese of Louisville

He said his motto as a bishop is "comfort my people," something he intends to do while serving the local church.

"Sometimes change is good and knowing that he is African American Archbishop, to me he's a shepherd to the whole Catholic community," said Helen Daniels.

Daniels has been a Catholic her whole life. She said the community will need to embrace the new Archbishop.

"We have to think about what God is doing for us," Daniels said. "He's given us a new leader. So, in order for us to move forward with anything that we have, we have to embrace him because he is new to Louisville."

She is hopeful that this historic announcement will lead the Catholic community in Louisville forward.

Before becoming Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux in 2013, Fabre was ordained as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of New Orleans in 2007.

Archbishop Fabre served as the Director of the Office of Black Catholics for the Diocese of Baton Rouge from 1990 to 2005. He currently serves as the chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.

As a Black archbishop, Fabre said racial equality is a cause close to his heart.

"While I recognize that our community has faced what some may say is far too great an experience of injustice and disregard for human life and dignity, I come to you with a message of joyful hope," Fabre said. "I have great faith and great hope in the work already underway within our community regarding racial equality."

Archbishop Fabre said he looked forward to celebrating the gifts of diversity within the Louisville community.

In July 2019, Archbishop Kurtz announced that he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer. He underwent a successful procedure in November and remains cancer-free today. Kurtz submitted his resignation in August 2021 on his 75th birthday, which is protocol in the Code of Canon Law within the Roman Catholic Church.

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