HOUMA, La. -- Roman Catholics will soon have a new bishop to shepherd the more than 126,000 church goers down the bayou.
Pope Francis named New Orleans Auxiliary Bishop Shelton Fabre the bishop of the diocese of Houma-Thibodaux.
He replaces Bishop Sam Jacobs, who is retiring from the post at the church's mandatory retirement age of 75.
Monday, Bishop Fabre said he is humbled by the appointment and looks forward to meeting his new flock.
'I look forward to going out to the parishes. I look forward to them teaching me. I know they have things to teach me. I hope I have things to teach them. I do look forward to getting to know them.'
Fabre spent the past six and a half years in New Orleans as a top assistant to Archbishops Alfred Hughes and Gregory Aymond.
'I have come to know and have witnessed the deep faith of the people of this Archdiocese as well as the rich culture and all of the many unique aspects of New Orleans that make so many people around our country and around our world love the Crescent City,' said Fabre. 'In so many ways New Orleans is a model of what it means to maintain hope and trust in God, in spite of devastation.'
Archbishop Aymond said Fabre will be missed.
'For me and for the people of this Archdiocese, he has been a leader. He is not afraid to give his opinion and to do in a very respectful and kind way.'
Aymond called Fabre a great collaborator.
'He truly is one who brings people together. He has served as the chair of our ministerial council which is the department heads of all of our offices.'
Barbara Dorris, the outreach director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, released a statement expressing disappointment over Fabre's appointment.
'Earlier this year, we urged Bishop Fabre and his colleagues to aggressively seek out others who may have been hurt by Fr. Mark A. Broussard, who had just been sued for child sexual abuse,' said Dorris. 'As best we can tell, neither Bishop Fabre nor any of his peers took any helpful action.'
Fabre responded to SNAP's comments by saying he was part of a group of clergy that met with sex abuse victims in New Orleans.
'My heart still pains for sexual abuse victims,' said Fabre. 'I know that their pain and their anger is great. I was a part of those negotiations. I wanted them to know that I heard them and I heard their story and I did apologize in the name of the church. Some were angry, I do understand that, but not all of them were.'
Fabre said he looks forward to the challenges of his new appointment.
'Coming to know the diocese, there's always a learning curve, vocations and also those things that the church everywhere struggles with, secularism and other questions such as that.'
The New Roads, La., native will be installed as Bishop of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux at a 2 p.m. Mass on Wednesday, October 30 at the Cathedral of St. Francis de Sales in Houma.