2 auxiliary bishops named for Archdiocese of Detroit

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Pope Francis has named two area priests to become auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Detroit, officials announced Wednesday.

Rev. Gerard W. Battersby

The Rev. Gerard W. Battersby and Rev. Robert J. Fisher are set to be ordained as the archdiocese’s 29th and 30th auxiliary bishops during a ceremony on Jan. 25 at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit.

Auxiliary bishops help the archbishop in the pastoral care of the archdiocese, which covers a six-region territory in southeast Michigan and includes an estimated 1.3 million Catholics.

“All of us in the Archdiocese of Detroit are deeply grateful that Pope Francis has named Father Battersby and Father Fisher, two well-loved and respected priests in our archdiocese, to be auxiliary bishops in our local church,” said Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron in a statement.

Battersby, 56, was born in Detroit, the youngest of nine children. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Wayne State University and worked in the pharmaceutical and appraisal industries until entering Sacred Heart Major Seminary in 1993, according to his biography.

Ordained a priest on May 30, 1998, he has served at St. Thecla in Clinton Township as well as St. Gerard, Immaculate Heart of Mary and Presentation-Our Lady of Victory parishes in Detroit.

Battersby became director of graduate seminarians at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in 2007, then was assigned to graduate studies at the University of St. Thomas in Rome. He has been vice-rector and dean of seminarian formation at Sacred Heart Major Seminary since 2011. Last year, he became pastor of St. Mary of Redford Parish in Detroit since October 2015.

The new role is an “inestimable blessing,” Battersby said Wednesday. “It is with joy and confidence in Jesus Christ that I accepted the Holy Father’s invitation to be a co-worker of his in the apostolic ministry. I would also like to thank Archbishop Allen Vigneron, who has been truly a good shepherd and a sterling exemplar to me.”

Bishop-designate Fisher, 57, also was born in Detroit. He earned his bachelor’s degree in management science from University of Detroit and after graduation oversaw the camping services department of the Catholic Youth Organization camps near Port Sanilac, the archdiocese said.

Rev. Robert J. Fisher

Earning his Master of Divinity degree from Sacred Heart Major Seminary, he was ordained a priest on June 27, 1992. Fisher served at Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in Grosse Pointe Woods as director of priestly vocations for the archdiocese, at St. Angela Parish in Roseville and St. Lawrence Parish in Utica.

Since March 2014, he has been rector at the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Royal Oak.

“I am grateful for Archbishop Vigneron’s guidance, direction and fraternal support. With the prayers of the community, I will direct all my energy toward sharing Christ in and through the Church,” Fisher said Wednesday.

Vigneron noted the appointment announcement following the Synod 16, the Archdiocese of Detroit’s first such religious gathering since 1969, which aimed to find ways to follow fundamental teachings while revamping how worshipers across southeast Michigan pray and share their faith as well as address spiritual needs.

“Just days ago we celebrated Synod ’16 to move the whole Catholic community in southeast Michigan forward in our efforts to Unleash the Gospel,” Vigneron said. “Both of these new bishops bring a rich set of gifts and talents to the roles they will play in leading our community in our mission to share the Good News of Jesus.”

The roles come weeks after Francis tapped Archdiocese of Detroit auxiliary bishop Michael Jude Byrnes to lead the Catholic Church in Guam while its suspended archbishop faces a church trial for alleged sexual abuse of altar boys.