08 Mar Faith at Work – March 2022
There is no doubt that the March Faith at Work should shine a light on our very own Most Reverend Shelton J. Fabre, the Bishop of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux. If we reflect back on all that Bishop Fabre has done over the past eight and a half years as our Bishop, we can learn great lessons in how to listen to others, listen to the Lord, and create a plan of action to live out the mission Christ has given us. Bishop spent two full years listening through our strategic planning process to determine where the needs of our diocese and its people were. The Catholic Foundation of South Louisiana benefited greatly from Bishop Fabre’s ability to listen and strategically plan.
While the Catholic Foundation was created and established by Bishop Sam Jacobs and effectively managed, Bishop Fabre brought an element of new life and direction to help the Foundation grow tremendously in a very short period of time. In 2017, Bishop re-established the Foundation bringing new members of the Board of Directors, redefining its by-laws, policies, and procedures. He also helped the Foundation make its first distributions from our established endowments, creating long term financial sustainability to seminarian education, Catholic Charities, and many of our church parishes and schools. Bishop Fabre also helped to grow the Foundation from $5.5 million to more than $14 million at present for restricted ministries!
Several key ministries have been very close to Bishop Fabre’s heart since he came to our diocese including Seminarian Education, Catholic Schools and Education, and Priests. With this as a focus he helped to establish lasting legacies that will impact our diocese for years to come.
- Bishop Fabre personally started the St. Augustine Endowment to provide annual tuition assistance to our Catholic Schools for children of color as well as helping to forge relationships across our diocese for our Catholic schools to help create funds such as the Nell Talbot Legendre Elementary Tuition Fund, the Durel Family Fund for Edward Douglas White Catholic High School, as well as seven endowments for Vandebilt Catholic High School.
- With Bishop’s vision of a restructure of the Foundation, the Foundation has been able to fund between two to four seminarians and their education for the diocese each year since 2017. On average it costs $45,000 to fund one year of seminary formation for the diocese, therefore having a consistent source of perpetual funding from the Catholic Foundation helps to relieve the financial burden of the diocese, and ensures the sustainability of seminary formation. Our diocese is incredibly blessed to have nine men in the seminary — many of which are born and raised locally.
- The need for seminary formation is great as many of our active priests are quickly approaching retirement. A priest is paid by his parish for not only his salary, but his food, travel, housing, insurance, and much more. When a priest retires, the diocese absorbs those expenses as the priest is no longer serving in a parish. For this reason, priest retirement is an essential part of the diocese, and Bishop Fabre has had great vision to help to create and build endowments for priest retirement funds to ensure our retired priests are funded to their fullest extent possible.
These past eight and a half years have been such a gift to us all. We are incredibly grateful for all that Bishop Fabre has helped to do within our parishes, schools and diocese. As he begins his journey to the Archdiocese of Louisville, we hope to send him off with great pride — knowing that he has created a legacy of love here within the Catholic Foundation. We look forward to building upon the mission he has given us to continue to grow through the love of Christ, being good stewards of the blessings the Lord has granted us.
It truly is an honor and a privilege to recognize Bishop Shelton Fabre’s “Faith at Work!”