Pope Francis appoints auxiliary bishop from Colombia to lead Louisiana diocese

Rev Mario Dorsonville vice president for mission immigrant and refugee services Catholic Charities CNA 3 20 15 Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville in 2015. | CNA file photo

Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington, to lead the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux in Louisiana.

Dorsonville, 62, was born in Bogotá, Colombia. He first moved to the United States in the early 1990s to study for a doctorate in ministry from the Catholic University of America.

The Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux serves approximately 90,000 Catholics in southeastern Louisiana.

Dorsonville succeeds 59-year-old Archbishop Shelton Fabre, who was transferred to the Archdiocese of Louisville in Kentucky by Pope Francis in March 2022.

Dorsonville has been an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington since 2015. From 2019–2022 he served as chairman for the Migration and Refugee Services Committee of the U.S. bishops’ conference.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington said in a statement Wednesday that Dorsonville will “bring his many talents in service to the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux. May the Lord abundantly bless him and his new family of faith.”

Dorsonville was ordained a priest in 1985 in Bogotá. He served in several parish assignments and taught business ethics at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá.

After moving to Washington, D.C., and earning a doctorate in ministry from the Catholic University of America in 1996, the priest returned briefly to Colombia, where he served as a chaplain and professor at the National University of Colombia and as a professor at the major seminary of the Archdiocese of Bogotá.

In 1997, he received his first parish assignment in the Archdiocese of Washington.

He was vice president of the archdiocese’s Catholic Charities and director of The Spanish Catholic Center from 2005–2015.

Before he was consecrated an auxiliary bishop in April 2015, Dorsonville was a mentor to newly ordained priests and an adjunct spiritual director at St. John Paul II Seminary in Washington.

The bishop has been vicar general for the archdiocese since 2015.

His bishop’s motto is “Sacerdos in Aeternum,” taken from Psalm 110:4, which says: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’”

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