During reception, former parishioners celebrate ordination of new bishop
June 29, 2018
Recalling how newly ordained Washington Auxiliary Bishop Michael Fisher had been there for them in so many significant moments of their lives, the bishop’s former parishioners arrived at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on June 29 in busloads to be there for a special moment in his life as well, to witness his ordination as bishop.
Arletha Plummer attended the ordination with Holy Family Parish in Hillcrest Heights, which was the first parish that then-Father Fisher served in as a pastor, from 1995-99. She recalled that the future bishop had celebrated the marriage of her son and daughter-in-law, and when her own husband passed away, he returned to celebrate the Funeral Mass.
“He has a lot of love to give,” said Nadine Jackson, another Holy Family parishioner.
Jonathan Hunter was the coordinator of youth activities at Holy Family while Bishop Fisher was pastor, and he recalled how he always participated in the youth events.
“He has a good spirit and a good heart,” he said. “He is able to work and to listen…able to accept ideas.”
Two buses full of people and additional carpools traveled from St. John Neumann Parish in Gaithersburg, where the future bishop served as pastor from 1999 to 2005 following his time at Holy Family.
Susan Duffney had served as a catechist there, and she said Bishop Fisher was “the best pastor I’ve ever had in my life.”
She recalled how one year when she was sponsoring someone entering the Church at the Easter Vigil, Bishop Fisher roasted a leg of lamb for the catechumens and sponsors that they enjoyed at a Seder meal about a week before Easter.
“He was a priest of the people,” she said. “He loved the people. He loved the children. You could never run into him anyplace he wouldn’t meet you with a smile and a big hello…It was an honor to have him as my pastor, it was one of the great joys of my life to call him a friend and it is just a thrill to greet him today as ‘Your Excellency’.”
Another St. John Neumann parishioner, Denise Madaras, attended the ordination Mass with her daughter, Olivia, whom Bishop Fisher had baptized when she was a baby.
“We loved Bishop Fisher when he was our pastor,” she said. “He was always very gentle and loving. His example of humility is bar none, the most exemplary of all the clergy I’ve ever met.”
She said this humility was also evident during the Ordination Mass, when Bishop Fisher expressed his gratitude to everyone in attendance.
“He never takes credit for anything he does,” she said. “He always gives glory to God and the people around him.”
Susie Abel, also a parishioner of St. John Neumann Parish, attended the Ordination Mass with her son, Paul, who had received First Communion from Bishop Fisher, and who, like the new bishop, is an Eagle Scout. When Paul Abel earned the Pope Pius XII Award as a part of scouting, Bishop Fisher played a part in giving him the award.
“The reason I wanted to be here is he was the first pastor I can remember,” he said. “…He is very open and warm.”
Many parishioners of St. Mark the Evangelist in Hyattsville, where Bishop Fisher has lived for nearly 14 years, also attended the ordination Mass.
One of those parishioners, Deacon José Molina, said “This is a happy day for St. Mark’s because he is wonderful and holy, and he is down to earth.”
Deacon Molina added that when Bishop Fisher came to St. Mark’s Parish, “he was an inspiration for us…he is open for you to talk to him and express whatever you want to express to him.”
Even for those who had not experienced having Bishop Fisher as a pastor, the Ordination Mass was a joyful occasion as they welcomed in their new bishop.
“I look forward to every Sunday, but services like this are something special,” said Carolyn Ross Wilson, a retired D.C. Public School teacher and principal and member of Immaculate Conception Parish in Washington. “I feel spiritually uplifted.”
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