Pope Francis appoints new auxiliary bishop to Archdiocese of Detroit

Hani Barghouthi
The Detroit News

Pope Francis appointed Monday a former Michigan resident as auxiliary bishop to the Archdiocese of Detroit, according to a Monday announcement. 

Archbishop Paul Fitzpatrick Russell, 63, will be the 31st auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Detroit from July 7, according to an archdiocese press release. Auxiliary bishops help the diocese bishop in pastoral care.

Archbishop Paul Fitzpatrick Russell, then apostolic nuncio to Turkey, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, greets Pope Francis at the Vatican on Sept. 13, 2018.

There will be a Liturgy of Welcome and Inauguration of Ministry for Russell on July 7 at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit.

Russell was personally given the title “archbishop” by Pope Francis when he was appointed apostolic nuncio, a Vatican diplomat, to Turkey and Turkmenistan in March 2016, the release said. He will retain this title while serving in Detroit.

The archdiocese for 1.1 million Catholics in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Lapeer and St. Clair counties is led by Archbishop Allen Vigneron.

This will be something of a homecoming for Russell, who moved to Alpena with his family in the third grade and remained there through high school before moving to Boston. 

“I am so happy with Pope Francis’ decision to send me home and look forward to serving as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Detroit and immersing myself in the mission and ministry of the local Church in southeast Michigan,” Russell said. “Since we first met in Boston 30 years ago, Archbishop Vigneron has shown me fraternal support on various occasions, and now his warm welcome to the Archdiocese is a source of special gratitude.”

Russell entered St. John’s Seminary in Boston and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Boston on June 20, 1987.

He served in parish ministry for five years and was personal secretary to the cardinal archbishop for a year.

Following further study in Rome at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and the Pontifical Gregorian University, he entered the diplomatic service of the church, serving in the Secretariat of State and in Vatican embassies in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Turkey, Switzerland and Nigeria.