Bishop-elect Michael Fisher delivers the homily during a June 8 Mass at the Archdiocese of Washington Pastoral Center in Hyattsville, where his colleagues in the archdiocese gathered to pray for him and celebrate his appointment.  (CS photos by Jaclyn Lippelmann)
Bishop-elect Michael Fisher delivers the homily during a June 8 Mass at the Archdiocese of Washington Pastoral Center in Hyattsville, where his colleagues in the archdiocese gathered to pray for him and celebrate his appointment. (CS photos by Jaclyn Lippelmann)

Following the announcement of his appointment as auxiliary bishop of Washington, Bishop-elect Michael Fisher joined Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Washington Auxiliary Bishops Roy Campbell, Jr. and Mario Dorsonville in celebrating a June 8 Mass at the Archdiocese of Washington Pastoral Center in Hyattsville, where his colleagues in the archdiocese gathered to pray for him and celebrate his appointment. 

In his homily, Bishop-elect Fisher noted how appropriate it was that this occasion took place on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, because the Sacred Heart of Jesus holds special significance for him, tracing back to his First Communion, when his grandmother gave him a statue of the Sacred Heart.

That statue has been with him ever since – on his bureau in his home growing up, on his desk in the seminary, with him at every parish assignment, and even survived the earthquake in 2011 that caused several other things of his to break. Because of this, he said he thought it no coincidence that his first parish assignment was Sacred Heart Parish in La Plata.

“We know and experience God’s love in many ways in our lives,” said Bishop-elect Fisher. “God’s love is enduring and it’s tangible for us. We know it in the people we serve, in the people who are members of our family, our friends; we experience it sometimes when life brings hurt our way and when it brings great joy. I think that is the Sacred Heart of Jesus and his influence and experience in our lives.”

In taking on a human heart through His incarnation, Jesus too experienced this love of family and community, as well as humanity’s joys and sorrows, he said.

Bishop-elect Fisher said he hopes it is this pure love of God that characterizes being a bishop, as the office involves “walking with our people, experiencing their love and offering your love to them.”

One of the ways that the Sacred Heart and the love of Christ has touched his life is through the encouragement of God and of others, Bishop-elect Fisher said, noting people in his life who have encouraged him along the way to becoming a bishop, such as his parents, priests and teachers.

Before becoming a priest, he said he was held back by his fear of speaking in public, until one day he went to speak with the archdiocese’s vocations director, who told him, “the Holy Spirit would take care of that.”

Bishop-elect Fisher said those words of encouragement, which he believes came from God through the Holy Spirit, gave him warmth and allowed him to pursue his vocation. More recently, he noted the encouragement that Cardinal Wuerl had given him, telling him that he had all the qualities he needed to do well as a bishop.

“Encouragement is ultimately rooted in God,” he said. “…This beautiful image of the Sacred Heart is one that encourages us. It gives us strength to do what we need to do, to build the kingdom of God, and to love our people with all our heart, mind and soul.”

Bishop-elect Fisher said his appointment as auxiliary bishop was not something he was expecting, but he is grateful to Pope Francis and Cardinal Wuerl for the trust they have placed in him.

“Isn’t life amazing?” he remarked. “You never know when you wake up in the morning what will be there.”

At the conclusion of the Mass, Cardinal Wuerl presented Bishop-elect Fisher with a copy of the pectoral cross worn by Pope Francis, which he had gotten while visiting Rome, to serve as an outward sign of his new role as bishop.