Meet LA-area Catholics’ 4 new bishops

California

It was a joyful day for the Catholic faithful, as four Los Angeles priests have been named the newest auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Monsignor Albert Bahhuth, and the Revs. Matthew Elshoff, Brian Nunes and Slawomir Szkredka were presented as the new auxiliary bishops-elect for the region, appointed by Pope Francis, at a news conference on Tuesday, July 18, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

Cardinal-designate Christophe Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States who serves as a diplomat of Pope Francis, announced the new appointments in a bulletin early Tuesday.

The appointment of the four priests marks a new chapter for the L.A. Archdiocese, still healing from the shooting death of beloved auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell in February.

  • Auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles selected by...

    Auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles selected by Pope Francis, L to R; Msgr. Albert Bahhuth, Father Brian Nunes, Father Slawomir Szkredka, and, Father Matthew Elshoff arrive at a press conference at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in Los Angeles Tuesday, July 18, 2023. L to R; (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • L to R; Archbishop José Gomez, Msgr. Albert Bahhuth, Father...

    L to R; Archbishop José Gomez, Msgr. Albert Bahhuth, Father Brian Nunes, Father Slawomir Szkredka, and, Father Matthew Elshoff at a press conference at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in Los Angeles Tuesday, July 18, 2023. The four priests have been selected by Pope Francis to become auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Father Matthew Elshoff speaks at a press conference at the...

    Father Matthew Elshoff speaks at a press conference at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in Los Angeles Tuesday, July 18, 2023. Elshoff and 3 other priests have been selected by Pope Francis to become auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Father Brian Nunes speaks at a press conference at the...

    Father Brian Nunes speaks at a press conference at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in Los Angeles Tuesday, July 18, 2023. Nunes and 3 other priests have been selected by Pope Francis to become auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Archbishop José Gomez at a press conference to announce four...

    Archbishop José Gomez at a press conference to announce four priests who were selected by Pope Francis to become auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in Los Angeles Tuesday, July 18, 2023. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Archbishop José Gomez left, introduces four Los Angeles priests selected...

    Archbishop José Gomez left, introduces four Los Angeles priests selected by Pope Francis to become auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles at a press conference at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in Los Angeles Tuesday, July 18, 2023. L to R; Msgr. Albert Bahhuth, Father Brian Nunes, Father Slawomir Szkredka, and Father Matthew Elshoff. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Father Slawomir Szkredka speaks at a press conference at the...

    Father Slawomir Szkredka speaks at a press conference at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in Los Angeles Tuesday, July 18, 2023. Szkredka and 3 other priests have been selected by Pope Francis to become auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Msgr. Albert Bahhuth speaks at a press conference at the...

    Msgr. Albert Bahhuth speaks at a press conference at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in Los Angeles Tuesday, July 18, 2023. Bahhuth and 3 other priests have been selected by Pope Francis to become auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez called it a “day of joy.”

“Our new bishops reflect the beautiful diversity of the Catholic community in Los Angeles,” said Gomez at the conference. “We are a church of immigrants, with faithful men and women and families who come from every continent and many nations; and we carry out our ministries and charities here in more than 40 different languages. And our new bishops reflect that diversity.”

The new appointments mark the first time Pope Francis has appointed four auxiliaries at one time for any diocese, officials from the Archdiocese said. The last time a pope appointed that many auxiliaries was in 1986, in the Archdiocese of Bogotá, Colombia.

An auxiliary bishop is typically assigned to assist the residential bishop, and is still called a bishop — one of the highest clergy rankings in the Roman Catholic Church.

“The Bishop’s mission is to lead people to Jesus, to help them to know God’s love and salvation,” Gomez added. “Welcome, my dear brothers. I know that your new ministry will be a great blessing to our people.”

Bishop-elect Bahhuth, who was born in Beirut, Lebanon, is the current pastor of Holy Family Church in Pasadena. Ordained a priest in 1996, he served in several parishes in the Archdiocese, including St. Finbar in Burbank and St. Kateri Tekakwitha in Santa Clarita. He also became vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Archdiocese until 2020.

“I am blessed to be called Bishop during this transitional time in the life of the church, when our Holy Father has asked (us priests) to go out to the peripheries, to bring home our brothers and sisters in search of the truth and meaning in their lives,” Bahhuth, 66, said. “If you know that’s what Jesus is calling you to do, how can you say no?”

Bishop-elect Elshoff, 67, is a Capuchin Franciscan Friar who grew up in Los Angeles, attending church and school in the area. He was ordained in 1982 by Cardinal Timothy Manning. He ministered throughout the region, becoming president of his alma mater, St. Francis High School in La Cañada Flintridge, and as the local provincial for the Capuchins from 2008 to 2014. He is currently the pastor of St. Lawrence of Brindisi church in Watts.

“I grew up in this archdiocese, and this is my home,” Elshoff said. “If you want to give God a good laugh, tell him your plans.”

Bishop-elect Nunes also grew up in the Archdiocese to immigrant parents from Hong Kong. He worked as a business journalist for 12 years and was later ordained to the priesthood in 2008, serving at Mary Star of the Sea church in San Pedro and St. Gregory the Great parish in Whittier. He also served as priest secretary to the archbishop, vice chancellor, and most recently the vicar general and moderator of the curia, succeeding Msgr. Bahhuth, for the archdiocese.

“With this new role, I feel excited about being able to serve even more people,” Nunes said. “I also feel nervous — it’s a great honor but also a huge responsibility. It’s very surreal, but I ask for your prayers.”

Szkredka, the youngest of the bishops-elect at age 49, is from southern Poland. He was ordained in 2002 and studied at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, and served as associate pastor at St. Genevieve parish in Panorama City and St. John the Baptist in Baldwin Park. Since 2015, Szkredka has been a formator and professor of biblical studies at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo.

The new auxiliary bishops are bilingual; able to speak Arabic, Polish and Spanish across the four ministers. They acknowledged the challenges ahead as part of their new assignments, serving a community of over 4.3 million Catholics — including 288 parishes and over 250 Catholic schools — across the L.A. Archdiocese’s five pastoral regions.

“There will be difficulties; that’s part of the path of every Christian disciple,” said Szkredka. “But I’m hopeful because it’s all happening at a time where the Holy Father (Pope Francis) is calling us to be a synodal church… this family of God working together with the help of the Holy Spirit.”

Since O’Connell’s death, only the San Pedro pastoral region was headed by an auxiliary bishop, Marc Trudeau, according to the Archdiocese. The other four pastoral regions — San Gabriel,  San Fernando, Our Lady of the Angels and Santa Barbara — are under the leadership of interim episcopal vicars.

The regional assignments for the new bishops-elect have not yet been announced.

Gomez will ordain the new auxiliary bishops on Sept. 26 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The Pope has now appointed nine auxiliaries for the region.

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