Pope Francis names Msgr. Michael Fisher as new auxiliary bishop of Washington
Jun 7, 2018
Pope Francis has named Msgr. Michael William Fisher as a new auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington. Since 2006, Bishop-elect Fisher has served as Episcopal Vicar for Clergy and Secretary for Ministerial Leadership for the archdiocese, overseeing the recruitment, formation and care of its clergy.
The announcement of Pope Francis’s appointment of Bishop-elect Fisher was made on June 8 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio of Washington.
In a statement, Cardinal Donald Wuerl expressed gratitude to Pope Francis for appointing Bishop-elect Fisher as a new auxiliary bishop for Washington, noting that the priest “has made significant contributions to the pastoral life of this archdiocese.”
“Msgr. Fisher brings to this ministry recognized talent and demonstrated ability,” the cardinal said. “In particular, his concern for his brother priests, dedication to priestly ministry and his kind yet directive leadership will be gifts to this local Church as he serves in this new capacity.”
Bishop-elect Fisher’s episcopal ordination will take place on Friday, June 29, at 2 p.m. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
The role of an auxiliary bishop is to assist the diocesan bishop in meeting the pastoral needs of the diocese, and Bishop-elect Fisher will assist Cardinal Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington who serves as spiritual leader to more than 655,000 Catholics living in the Archdiocese of Washington, which includes the nation’s capital and the five surrounding Maryland counties.
Msgr. Fisher, 60, is a native of Baltimore. After studying at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, he was ordained as a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington in 1990 at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle by Cardinal James Hickey, then the archbishop of Washington.
In an earlier interview, Msgr. Fisher – who celebrated his 25thanniversary as a priest in 2015 – said that he tries to bring “the heart of a pastor” into his administrative work, based on his years of experiences as a parish priest.
Following his ordination, he served as a parochial vicar at Sacred Heart Parish in La Plata. Then-Father Fisher served as pastor of Holy Family Parish in Hillcrest Heights from 1995-99, and as pastor of St. John Neumann Parish in Gaithersburg from 1999 to 2005. That year, he was among 10 priests of the archdiocese named as monsignors by Pope John Paul II in one of the pontiff’s last official acts before his death.
Also in 2005, Msgr. Fisher was named as the archdiocese’s Vicar General for the Apostolates, helping to oversee education, ethnic ministries, justice and service, parish life and youth ministry. The next year, then-Archbishop Wuerl appointed him as Episcopal Vicar for Clergy and Secretary for Ministerial Leadership for the archdiocese.
As a youth, Michael Fisher played Little League baseball, and wrestled, and was active in the Boy Scouts, where he attained the rank of Eagle Scout. One of his first jobs was as an 8-year-old paperboy for The Baltimore Sun. He attended high school at the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. After earning a degree in accounting at the University of Maryland, he worked as a comptroller for a psychiatric practice in Bethesda. Describing his call to the priesthood, he said, “The Lord was always there.”
The newly named bishop – who is the eldest of five children – attributes much of his call to the priesthood to the love and sacrifices of his parents and family, the constant prayers of a grandmother, the encouragement and example of wonderful priests, and a lifelong desire to serve and leave this world a better place.
Bishop-elect Fisher has a special interest in Church history, and as a seminarian, he earned Mount St. Mary’s History Award. In his spare time, he loves to read and study history, especially American and Church history, and he enjoys camping and hiking in the mountains and touring historical sites.
As a seminarian, he also served in the Air Force chaplaincy program at bases in Washington state and North Carolina, and he ministered at St. Ann Parish in Washington and at several pastoral posts in Hagerstown, where he taught parish religious education and volunteered at a correctional facility and at a center for people with mental disabilities. That work, he said, “gives you a new perspective, a compassionate attitude to help people.”
Before he was ordained to the priesthood 28 years ago, then-Deacon Fisher said, “I’ll go where the Holy Spirit leads me.”
In addition to his work as a parish priest, Msgr. Fisher has served the clergy of the archdiocese as a member of the Priest Council, the Priest Retirement Board, as chairman of the Clergy Personnel Board, on the Priestly Vocations Board and the Permanent Diaconate Vocations Board, and as a member of the Deacons Council and of the Formation Board and the Continuing Formation Board. Much of his ministry has involved the continuing education of priests, particularly in aiding new pastors in their roles and the planning and implementation of ongoing clergy training via convocations and retreats.
The new bishop after his episcopal ordination will join Bishop Mario Dorsonville and Bishop Roy Campbell Jr. in serving as auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Washington.
Bishop-elect Fisher also served on the archdiocese’s Administrative Board, on the College of Consultors and as a chaplain to the Our Lady of Guadalupe Council of the Knights of Columbus.
In an interview, Msgr. Fisher said of his vocation, “I love being a priest.”
The latest local and global Catholic news delivered to your inbox.