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Archbishop Paul Fitzpatrick Russell, then apostolic nuncio to Turkey, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, greets Pope Francis at the Vatican on Sept. 13, 2018. The Massachusetts-born Archbishop Russell, who spent a majority of his childhood in Michigan, was appointed May 23 by Pope Francis as the 31st auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit. (Vatican Media photo)

  New Auxiliary Bishop Named for the Archdiocese of Detroit

DETROIT - In a surprise announcement early May 23, Pope Francis appointed a longtime Vatican diplomat with ties to Michigan as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Because Archbishop Russell was given the title “archbishop” by Pope Francis upon his episcopal consecration and appointment as nuncio in 2016, he will retain that title while serving as auxiliary bishop to current Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron.

“We are deeply grateful to Pope Francis for appointing Archbishop Russell as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Detroit, and we are similarly grateful to Archbishop Russell for accepting this new ministry,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “We are particularly glad to welcome Archbishop Russell home to Michigan, where he grew up and first heard the Lord call him to the priestly vocation. Having served the Church all over the world, Archbishop Russell brings to the Archdiocese of Detroit a valuable perspective of the universal Church and our mission to make joyful missionary disciples of all nations.”

Archbishop Russell was born on May 2, 1959 in Greenfield, Massachusetts, to the late Isabelle Fitzpatrick and Thaddeus Russell. When he was in the third grade, his family moved to his mother’s hometown of Alpena, Michigan where Russell attended St. Bernard of Clairvaux elementary school and Alpena High School. He entered St. John’s Seminary in Boston, Massachusetts, and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Boston on June 20, 1987. He served in parish ministry for five years and one year as personal secretary to the Cardinal Archbishop. Following further study in Rome at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and the Pontifical Gregorian University, he entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See, serving in the Secretariat of State and the Apostolic Nunciatures (Vatican embassies) in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Turkey, Switzerland (where he also served in parish ministry), and Nigeria.


Because Archbishop Russell was granted the title "archbishop" when he was appointed an apostolic nuncio by Pope Francis in 2016, he will retain that title while serving as an auxiliary bishop to current Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron. (Photo courtesy of Archbishop Paul F. Russell)

Although the timing of Archbishop Russell’s appointment — and his background — are a surprise, it isn’t totally unexpected, given that another of Detroit’s auxiliary bishops, Bishop Donald F. Hanchon, will turn 75 years old in October, the age at which bishops are required by canon law to submit their resignations to the pope.

Archbishop Russell’s appointment means Detroit will continue to have four active auxiliary bishops after Bishop Hanchon’s retirement, along with current Auxiliary Bishops J. Arturo Cepeda, Gerard W. Battersby and Robert J. Fisher. Detroit also has two currently retired auxiliary bishops, Bishops Francis R. Reiss and Thomas J. Gumbleton, as well as retired Cardinal Adam J. Maida.

Like all auxiliary bishops, “my task is to assist Archbishop Vigneron as the chief shepherd of the Archdiocese of Detroit,” Archbishop Russell said. “I’m open to serve however he’d like me to serve.”

Archbishop Russell will begin his service to the Archdiocese of Detroit on July 7, when he will be welcomed to the archdiocese during a 2 p.m. Liturgy of Welcome and Inauguration of Ministry at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.


 

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