Father Patrick J. Williams, the pastor of St. Pius X Church in New Orleans and executive director of the Department of Clergy, has been named vicar general of the Archdiocese of New Orleans by Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond.
The appointment, which will take effect Jan. 1, will continue until Pope Francis appoints a new auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese to succeed Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, who became Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux on Sept. 23.
Archbishop Aymond said it may take a year or more for Pope Francis to appoint a new auxiliary bishop. Father Williams will continue to serve as pastor of St. Pius X and as executive director for clergy.
“I have great appreciation and admiration for Father Williams’ commitment to priestly ministry, both in his parish ministry as well as in his service to our brother priests as vicar for clergy,” Archbishop Aymond said. “After prayer and consultation with the priests, it became obvious to me that he would be the person who would be able to serve the archdiocese well as vicar general.”
When then-Auxiliary Bishop Aymond served as rector of Notre Dame Seminary, Father Williams served as vice rector from 1996-2000. After Bishop Aymond left New Orleans in 2000 to become coadjutor Bishop of Austin, Father Williams was named rector of the seminary and served in that position through 2007.
“I’m certainly honored that the archbishop has that kind of trust in me,” Father Williams said. “I think he did this after consulting with the priests, so I think it reflects some trust among fellow priests. I think the best thing I can do is to assist the archbishop in some of the administrative responsibilities of the archdiocese.”
Father Williams is a member of various archdiocesan committees, many of which Bishop Fabre either was a member or chaired, including the Presbyteral Council, the Council of Deans and the Priest Personnel Board. He now will become a member of the Ministerial Council, a group of archdiocesan office directors that offers advice to Archbishop Aymond on pastoral priorities.
“There is a good bit of overlap between what the vicar general does and what the executive director of clergy does,” Father Williams said. “I know in smaller dioceses, the vicar general very often is the vicar for clergy. Because this is a temporary appointment until a new auxiliary bishop comes, it seemed to be the easiest way rather than pull somebody out of another job.”
Archbishop Aymond said some of Bishop Fabre’s administrative responsibilities also have been delegated to other members of the archdiocesan staff.
“We have received permission from Pope Francis to begin the process of discernment for a new auxiliary bishop,” Archbishop Aymond said. “When the next auxiliary is appointed, he will become vicar general and moderator of the curia of the archdiocese.”
Peter Finney Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.