Pope Francis today appointed four local priests as new auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
The bishops-elect are: Msgr. Albert Bahhuth, 66, pastor of Holy Family Church in South Pasadena; Father Matthew Elshoff, OFM, Cap., 67, pastor of St. Lawrence of Brindisi Church in the Watts area of South Los Angeles; Father Brian Nunes, 58, the LA Archdiocese’s vicar general and moderator of the curia; and Father Slawomir Szkredka, 49, professor of biblical studies and coordinator of human formation at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo.
“This is a day of joy for the family of God in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles,” said Archbishop José H. Gomez in a July 18 statement. “We give thanks to God, and we thank the Holy Father for this great blessing of new bishops. Each is a man of prayer who loves Jesus and has a deep desire to share God’s love and to serve God’s people. We are praying for them, and we entrust them to the tender care of holy Mary our Blessed Mother.”
The appointments were announced Tuesday morning by the Holy See’s press bulletin and in a notice from Cardinal-designate Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. The four bishops-elect were scheduled to be introduced at a press conference at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
Since the death of Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell last February, only one of the LA Archdiocese’s five pastoral regions, San Pedro, was being overseen by an auxiliary bishop, Marc Trudeau. The other four pastoral regions have been under the leadership of interim episcopal vicars.
One of seven children, Bahhuth grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, but immigrated to the U.S. at 20 to study chemical engineering at the University of Missouri. After receiving a Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi, he taught chemical engineering at the University of Wyoming before moving in 1984 to Los Angeles, where he worked in the retail and fast-food industries, including owning a Subway franchise.
Bahhuth entered St. John’s Seminary in 1991 as he discerned the call to the priesthood. He was ordained in 1996 and served in several parishes in the archdiocese, including as pastor of St. Finbar in Burbank (2002-2013) and St. Kateri Tekakwitha in Santa Clarita (2013-2015).
He was named vicar general and moderator of the curia by Archbishop Gomez in 2015, a post in which he served until 2020. He has served as pastor at Holy Family since 2021.
In a statement provided to Angelus, Bahhuth expressed thanks to his family, Pope Francis, Archbishop Gomez, as well as parishioners and priests with whom he had served over the years.
“I am blessed to be called to be a bishop during this transitional time in the life of the Church, where our Holy Father is calling us to a synodal approach to governing and caring for the people of God, to go out to the peripheries and bring home our brothers and sisters who are searching for the truth and for meaning and purpose to their lives,” said Bahhuth.
Elshoff was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, but grew up in the LA area, attending St. Bede the Venerable church and school in La Cañada Flintridge as a child. After graduating St. Francis High School, also in La Cañada Flintridge, he entered the Capuchin Franciscan Order in 1973 and was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Timothy Manning in 1982.
As a Capuchin, Elshoff has served all but seven years ministering in the archdiocese, including as president of his alma mater, St. Francis High School, pastor of Old Mission Santa Ines in Solvang, and most recently as pastor at St. Lawrence Brindisi in LA’s inner city.
“This important moment in my life and the archdiocese speaks to the mysterious ways of the Lord,” said Bishop-elect Elshoff, who also served as local provincial for the Capuchins from 2008 to 2014.
“I am very grateful to His Holiness Pope Francis for placing his confidence in me by appointing me an auxiliary bishop as well as to Archbishop Gomez for his part in accepting me as one of his auxiliaries. I am humbled to serve the priests, deacons, religious and people of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.”
The oldest of four children, Nunes was born and raised in the Los Angeles area to immigrant parents from Hong Kong. He studied communications at Loyola Marymount University before working as a journalist for Business Wire for 12 years. He entered St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo in 2002 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2008.
As a priest, Nunes served at Mary Star of the Sea Church in San Pedro and St. Gregory the Great Church before going on to serve as Archbishop Gomez’s priest secretary from 2015 to 2019. He succeeded Msgr. Bahhuth as vicar general and moderator of the curia in 2020.
In a statement, Nunes expressed thanks to God, Pope Francis, and “in a special way to Archbishop Gomez, for his trust in letting me share and collaborate in his ministry.”
“I feel excited about being able to serve even more people, a larger segment of the Church, with this new role,” he added.
The youngest of the bishops-elect at 49, Szkredka was born in the town of Czechowice-Dziedzice in southern Poland, less than 50 miles from St. Pope John Paul II’s hometown of Wadowice. He began his studies for the priesthood at Kraków’s Metropolitan Seminary and continued at SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, Michigan. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 2002.
Szkredka entered the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, also known as the “Biblicum,” in 2008. In 2015, he returned to Los Angeles to teach at St. John’s Seminary and in 2017 earned a doctorate in Sacred Scripture after defending his dissertation on “Sinners and Sinfulness in Luke.” He is also the author of “Icon of Trust: Mary in the Gospels of Luke and John,” published last year.
Better known among friends and students by his nickname “Swavek,” he is set to become one of just a handful of bishops under the age of 50 in the U.S.
“I entrust myself to the prayers of the people of God in Los Angeles. Your faith and love have sustained and shaped my priestly ministry here in the archdiocese,” said Szkredka on Tuesday morning.
“I am very much looking forward to working under the leadership of our shepherd, Archbishop José H. Gomez, and in collaboration with many lay and ordained ministers. I know our Blessed Mother will teach us how to be good servants of the Lord.”
The four priests are set to be ordained bishops by Archbishop Gomez on Sept. 26 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Cardinal-designate Pierre is expected to attend before traveling to Rome that week to be elevated to the rank of cardinal by Pope Francis at a Sept. 30 consistory ceremony.
The LA appointments mark the first time Pope Francis has appointed four auxiliaries at one time for any diocese.
According to data from David Cheney, creator of the website Catholic-Hierarchy.org, the last time a pope appointed four auxiliary bishops at once for the same diocese was when St. Pope John Paul II appointed four for the Archdiocese of Bogotá, Colombia in 1986.
The other archdioceses that have received a set of four new auxiliaries in church history are Chicago (1983), Boston (1974), São Paulo, Brazil (1974), and Barcelona, Spain (1968). Four auxiliary bishops were also appointed to serve the Maronite Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch in 1986.
With today’s nominations, Pope Francis has now appointed a total of nine auxiliary bishops for Los Angeles. The previous ones were Bishops Robert Barron, Joseph Brennan, and David O’Connell in 2015; Bishop Marc Trudeau in 2018; and Bishop Alex Aclan in 2019.
Almost eight years later to the day, the Holy Father has given LA its “quadruplets.”