Pope Francis has selected Msgr. Michael Joseph Boulette as the Archdiocese of San Antonio's new auxiliary bishop, Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller announced Monday.
Boulette, whose career in the Catholic Church spans more than 50 years, is the founding director of St. Peter upon the Water: A Center for Spiritual Direction and Formation in Ingram. As auxiliary bishop, he will assist García-Siller in meeting the pastoral needs of the diocese.
"Bishop-elect Boulette brings with him a spirituality of joy and simplicity," said García-Siller, adding that Boulette has served in parishes, worked in seminary formation, and has been involved in spiritual direction for many years. "I look forward to working closely with him. He will be a compassionate bishop and a loving shepherd to the priests and the people of the archdiocese."
A week ago, Boulette received an unexpected phone call from Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Pope Francis' apostolic nuncio to the United States, who told him of his appointment. Pierre encouraged him to accept the position, and Boulette requested that he "convey to the Holy Father that I accept this ministry in all humility... ," he said.
Boulette said he had wanted to be a clergyman for as long as he can remember. After graduating from St. John Seminary High School in San Antonio in 1968, he went on to earn master's degrees from St. Mary's University, Trinity University, and later his master's of divinity degree for ministry from the University of Notre Dame in 1975.
He was ordained to the priesthood the following year and served in a number of roles in various parishes around Texas and as a member of several boards and councils in the archdiocese. Boulette also was appointed coordinator of hospitality for the 1987 visit of Pope John Paul II to San Antonio and was appointed chaplain in 2005.
Boulette and García-Siller have not yet set their specific goals for the archdiocese, but the archbishop said keeping pace with San Antonio's rapid growth presents many challenges for the Archdiocese.
"We need at least eight new parishes," García-Siller said, "and the Bishop-elect will help us to make those new steps."
Boulette said he has "very, very mixed emotions" about assuming his new role in San Antonio, since it will mean he has to leave his faith community at St. Peter upon the Water in the Texas Hill Country.
"But I have profound respect for our Holy Father Francis and our Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller," he said, "and I absolutely am enthralled by the direction they're leading the Church in, the example that they give with their lives of service. Because of that it was possible for me to say yes."
Boulette's appointment follows the recent death of Archbishop Emeritus Patricio “Patrick” Fernandez Flores, who died on Jan. 9 of pneumonia and congestive heart failure.
The Bishop-elect's brother Pete and sister-in-law Linda were present Monday at the Archdiocese of San Antonio to congratulate him, along with his mother, Philomena Mary "Pat" Boulette, who turned 96 the previous day. With tears in his eyes, Boulette acknowledged his mother's unending support for him and his ministry.
"She has never been jealous of God's call on my life and has always directed me to his presence and love," he said.
He also thanked his spiritual directors, his fellow priests, and all of those he has served for their faith in him.
"Ahora, preparemos nuestros corazones y nuestras mentes para los proximos dias de alabanza a Dios, thanking God, and washing feet according to his example," Boulette said.
The Archbishop will hold a mass to celebrate Boulette's appointment on Friday, Jan. 27, at 9:30 a.m. at Our Lady's Chapel at Assumption Seminary, 2600 W. Woodlawn Ave. Boulette's official Episcopal Ordination Mass will be held on Monday, March 20, at 2 p.m. at a location to be determined.