Pope Francis names new bishop to lead Houma-Thibodaux Diocese

Pope Francis has appointed the Rev. Mario E. Dorsonville bishop of Houma-Thibodaux's Catholic diocese.

Dorsonville now serves as auxiliary bishop and vicar general of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.

The announcement was made this morning in Rome and in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

“I am deeply humbled and thankful to our Holy Father for his acceptance of me as the next bishop of Houma-Thibodaux,” Dorsonville said in a news release. “I have a deep love for the lord and his church and a keen interest in learning more about Houma-Thibodaux, listening to her needs and dreams and discerning where the Holy Spirit will lead us.”

Bishop Mario Dorsonville

Dorsonville will be installed as bishop on March 29 at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral in Houma.

He will succeed Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, who was installed as archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky, on March 30, 2022.

The Rev. Patrick “P.J.” Madden has served Houma-Thibodaux as the diocesan administrator since April 1.

Houma-Thibodaux's diocese includes 38 churches, 11 schools and an estimated 90,000 Catholics in Terrebonne, Lafourche and Morgan City.

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During a news conference Wednesday morning at the diocese's offices in Schriever, Dorsonville said he will continue the church's work helping residents rebuild their lives after Hurricane Ida devastated the area in 2021. He noted that the hurricane hit after two years of a COVID-19 pandemic that cost many lives locally and throughout the world.

"I come to continue the process of rebuilding, the process of being better and the process to be there as an instrument of Jesus Christ in the lives of those who are suffering," he said.

Dorsonville exhibited a sense of humor during the news conference, which included some lighthearted jokes and banter he shared with priests, diocese employees, media and others attending.

Houma-Thibodaux's newly named Catholic bishop, Mario E. Dorsonville, talks with diocese employees Holly Becnel, left, and Melissa Robertson after a news conference announcing his appointment Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, at the diocese offices in Schriever.

He said he is looking forward to getting to know the community's people and parishioners but not some of its wildlife.

"If anybody knows how to advise me to avoiud alligators, please let me know," Dorsonville said, conjuring laughs from the audience.

Dorsonville, 62, a native of Bogotá, Colombia, will be Houma-Thibodaux's fifth bishop. Ordained was a priest in 1985, he has served as auxiliary bishop in Washington since March 20, 2015.

The Rev. Mario E. Dorsonville soeaks during a news conference Wednesday in Schriever after being named bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux.

He was chairman of U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops Migration and Refugee Services Committee from 2019 to 2022. He is a member of the conference's committees on domestic justice, migration and refugees, and religious liberty and the Adhoc Committee Against Racism.

He served as a priest and professor of business ethics from 1990 to 1991 at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá. His first appointment within the Archdiocese of Washington was as parochial vicar of Our Ladyof Lourdes Church Parish in Bethesda, Maryland, where he served from 1997 to 2004. He also served as parochial vicar of St. Mark the Evangelist Church Parish in Hyattsville, Maryland, from 2004 to 2005.

This article originally appeared on The Courier: Pope Francis names new bishop to lead Houma-Thibodaux Diocese