CHARLESTON, S.C. — This weekend will bring the consecration of America’s first Haitian-American Catholic ordinary in Bishop-elect Jacques Fabre, CS of the Diocese of Charleston on Friday, March 13th at 2pm ET.
The event—delayed from April 29th and coming nearly three months after Fabre’s appointment by Pope Francis in February—will be held at the Charleston Area Convention Center in North Charleston, South Carolina, where bishops from around the United States will descend for the historic moment. It will also be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook.
A traditional Solemn Vespers will be livestreamed Thursday evening at 6pm from the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, occasioning an Evening Prayer service and the blessing of the episcopal insignia (i.e., the ring, crosier, and mitre that will be presented to Fabre the next day during his consecration).
At Friday’s ceremony, the principal consecrator will be Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, Fabre’s former ordinary from their shared time in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, where Gregory served as archbishop from 2005 to 2019.
Gregory became the first African-American cardinal in history in November 2020, and Fabre’s consecration will be Gregory’s second since—both involving newly appointed Black prelates. (The vast majority of Black Catholic bishops in US history have been consecrated by at least one African-American.)
Fabre’s co-consecrators will include Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer, OFM Conv. of Atlanta—Cardinal Gregory’s successor, under whom Fabre has served while ministering at San Felipe de Jesús Mission in Forest Park. This was the most recent stop in Fabre’s 36-year journey as a priest with the Scalabrinian order, which ministers to migrants and refugees. His ministry has largely been focused on the Hispanic community.
Also co-consecrating is Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, a Creole-speaking White prelate described last month in Crux as a longtime advocate for Haitian Catholics. He visited Fabre when the latter worked in Cuba and the Dominican Republic, and was his fellow priest in the Archdiocese of Miami during the late 1980s and early 90s.
A previous plan for Cardinal Silvano Tomasi, CS—Fabre’s fellow Scalabrinian—to co-consecrate fell through, but the order’s superior general, Fr Leonir Chiarello, CS, will be among the honored clergy in attendance.
Seven bishops from along the Eastern Seaboard will be among that crowd, alongside Black prelates in Bishop Emeritus Curtis Guillory, SVD of Beaumont and Archbishop Shelton Fabre of Louisville. Msgr Pierre-André Pierre, vice director of the National Center of the Haitian Apostolate, will also be present, as well as Bishop Santiago Rodríguez Rodríguez of San Pedro de Macorís in the Dominican Republic (the site of Fabre's longest priestly assignment, from 1992 to 2004).
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, will be present on behalf of Pope Francis for the reading of the official declaration of Fabre’s episcopacy.
In the program for the ceremonies, the Diocese of Charleston has also revealed Fabre’s episcopal coat of arms, describing it as “a statement of faith and heritage, both of which have their beginnings in his birthplace, Port-au-Prince, the capital city of the Republic of Haiti”.
“[He] desired a coat of arms that would define clearly, simply, and humbly his heritage, his faith, his life and his ministry as a priest and as the shepherd for the Church in Charleston, South Carolina,” the description reads.
“The shield is divided in half as per the flag of Haiti.”
Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).