Wednesday, November 23, 2016


“I got a call from the papal nuncio (Archbishop Christophe Pierre); it was a 5-10 minute conversation, where he asked me if I would accept the appointment to become the next archbishop of Agana, Guam,” 

Archbishop Byrnes ready to listen, learn as he prepares for transition to Pacific post

DETROIT — Two weeks ago, Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Michael Byrnes was on a retreat in the south of England, thousands of miles away from his native Detroit.

It was there he got the call from the papal nuncio to the United States, who asked him a question that would take him farther away from his home, on a much more permanent basis.

“I got a call from the papal nuncio (Archbishop Christophe Pierre); it was a 5-10 minute conversation, where he asked me if I would accept the appointment to become the next archbishop of Agana, Guam,” Archbishop-designate Byrnes said in an interview with The Michigan Catholic. “I said yes, I’m willing to do whatever the Holy Father asked of me.”

Being a bishop means dedicating one’s life to the service of the Church, including traveling great distances to proclaim the word of Jesus Christ, just as the apostles did.

But Archbishop Byrnes never thought it would mean being the chief shepherd of the south Pacific island community, 7,528 miles from his native Michigan.

“I did look up Guam on my phone when I found out,” Archbishop Byrnes said. “I knew what Guam was; I read enough about World War II. But outside of that, I knew nothing about Guam, really. I found out the community was heavily Catholic, overwhelmingly Catholic.”

The Archdiocese of Agana encompasses all of Guam, an unincorporated, organized territory of the United States, situated about 2,500 miles south of Japan and east of the Philippines. The archdiocese is responsible for the pastoral care of 132,000 Catholics – 85 percent of the island’s population.

The history of Catholicism on Guam goes back to 1668, when Spanish colonizers introduced the faith. In 1965, the Diocese of Agana was created as a suffragan of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, before being elevated to a metropolitan archdiocese in 1984, with suffragan dioceses in the Northern Mariana and Caroline Islands.

Archbishop Byrnes said he’s come to learn of the rich, deep faith life on Guam in the past few days.

“Jesus is always Jesus,” Archbishop Byrnes said. “I understand the faith is deep in Guam, with a lot of devotion, especially to the Blessed Mother. I think, like every diocese, it has a different feel to it, and I’ll learn what those feelings are. It’s an island, and as I understand, everybody knows everybody.”

The difference from the Northeast Region of the Archdiocese of Detroit – where Archbishop Byrnes was previously assigned – and the Archdiocese of Agana is profound.

The Northeast Region has 93 churches, spanning from St. Ambrose in Grosse Pointe Park to St. Edward on the Lake in Lakeport, roughly a 64-mile drive. Guam’s 26 parishes stretch across 38 miles from the northern point of Guam to the southern point.

“Being such a small island, it’s a tremendous advantage to get the opportunity to know the priests better,” said Archbishop Byrnes, who would be the eighth bishop in Agana’s history. “I still have to tell my dad what’s going on. But my brother looked up Guam and told me he was thinking about coming out for spring break with his family.”

Archbishop Byrnes was made an auxiliary bishop of Detroit in 2011 and recently was tasked with leading many of the archdiocese’s “Unleash the Gospel” initiatives in the buildup to Synod 16, an archdiocesan-wide event focused on “reinventing the DNA” of the archdiocese.

“Archbishop Byrnes has given exemplary pastoral service in the Archdiocese of Detroit, most recently in leading us to prepare for Synod 16 as part of our efforts to Unleash the Gospel,” Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron said in a statement. “Now God has chosen him for a challenging mission almost a half-a-world away. Pope Francis, in sending Archbishop Byrnes to Guam, has recognized that he possesses not only the talents, but above all the deep faith in Jesus Christ that make him suitable for this apostolic work. He goes with our love and prayers.”

Archbishop Byrnes will enter a difficult situation in Guam, where the current archbishop, Archbishop Anthony Apuron, OFM Cap., is facing allegations of sexual abuse of minors dating back to his time as a parish priest.

Since news of the allegations surfaced in May, Archbishop Apuron has resisted calls to resign his post, including from his own presbyteral council and the archdiocese’s apostolic administrator, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai.

At least six allegations have surfaced against Archbishop Apuron since May, and in June, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Hon, secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, to take over administrative and pastoral responsibilities in Agana. Though Archbishop Apuron remains the archbishop, he no long holds authority there.

Coming into a difficult situation, Archbishop Byrnes said it is important for him to be understanding and listen to people who may be angry with the Church and its leadership.

“You try to listen and understand, some doubt, fear and skepticism,” said Archbishop Byrnes, adding he has been in contact with Archbishop Hon in recent days. “To treat the difficulties the archdiocese is facing as real, some that we need to deal with together. You don’t talk people into trusting you. It’s not what you do. Trust is easily lost, but only through time is it won. I can only win trust through time; it’s not automatic, and I’m aware of that.”

As coadjutor archbishop, Archbishop Byrnes will take over administrative and pastoral responsibilities of the archdiocese as Archbishop Apuron’s situation is resolved by the Holy See. A coadjutor bishop, unlike an auxiliary bishop, holds the right of succession as the ordinary of his diocese. An installation date has not yet been set, but is expected to take place by January.

Heading into a crucial point in the Church’s history on the island, Archbishop Byrnes said he’s first been personally preparing himself for the task at hand.

“First, I need to check my heart,” Archbishop Byrnes said. “My heart has to be a heart ready to love people. I’m already praying for the archdiocese, the people and the religious. Unless I embrace Jesus’ heart for them, it would be ineffective. So they’ve been a big part of my prayer. My heart has to be in that mode. Not in a ‘success mode.’”

As point person for many “Unleash the Gospel” initiatives in the Archdiocese of Detroit, Archbishop Byrnes is grateful for the opportunity to lead the Church is this capacity, but said the efforts are not solely his.

“In God’s providence, He’s allowed me the opportunity to be involved with this for four years, and apparently He thinks that’s enough,” Archbishop Byrnes said. “The momentum of the Unleash the Gospel initiative is not caused by me. It’s caused by the 100 or so people, not including people in the Chancery, who’ve been integral into moving this whole thing forward. We have great leadership here, and it’s been a great opportunity to lead it for these last four years.”

Archbishop Byrnes will remain in Detroit through the archdiocesan synod, Nov. 18-20, before transitioning to his new role in the Archdiocese of Agana. Regardless, Archbishop Byrnes said he’ll miss the archdiocese and the city he’s called home throughout his lifetime.

“I’m sad to leave the archdiocese now, I’ll never forget it,” Archbishop Byrnes said. “I’ll always immerse myself in it. I was made in Detroit, for goodness sake.”

Reflecting on his time in the Archdiocese of Detroit, Archbishop Byrnes recalled the mission Archbishop Vigneron gave him in regard to evangelizing the archdiocese, and how it relates to the new mission Pope Francis has given him.

“The archbishop gave me a mission to work toward unleashing the Gospel,” Archbishop Byrnes said. “Now, the Holy Father is giving me a mission to care for an archdiocese, a people, that are wonderful, but are facing a challenge in which they need a new leader. And that’s my mission now.”


  1. "Trust is easily lost, but only through time is it won. I can only win trust through time; it’s not automatic, and I’m aware of that."

    The new archbishop Byrnes is completely right about trust. Still though, with the many kilos lerking within this diocese, we all need to keep guard and pray for the strength to withstand the evil these kiko love to exploit.

  2. I sure hope he views Mother Dawns' video first, then go from there. A moratorium on the NCW on Guam and the Marianas is much needed so that we can weed them out!

  3. unwise to show off his family in mission Kiko crucifix.

  4. Vacate the Archbishop's residence already, Italian "missionary" couple! You have outstayed your welcome, you have fleeced us enough, and yet you are shameless in holding out! Get out, we need to fumigate the place to make it worthy of our new Archbishop who will bring order and fairness once again to the Archdiocese of Agana. Turn off the lights and bring your demons with you when you leave, ugly guests!!! If you refuse to leave, we will mobilize our brave LFM heroines to throw you out!

    1. If the NCW Italian "missionaries" are still occupying the Archbishop's residence, where will Archbishop Byrnes reside when he arrives on Guam tomorrow?

    2. They've been chased away with the threat of snaring in nets. The residence will be ready for the legitimate occupant, Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes. Its been fumigated and cleaned up.

    3. Anonymous 7:29 Thank you for reassuring me that Archbishop Byrnes will have his deserved dwelling. I'm not sure what you mean by "the threat of snaring in nets," but I'm glad the NCW contamination is out.

  5. Interiorizing the recent turn of events that started with the election of a Coadjutor Archbishop for Guam, I am shedding genuine tears of joy. We have been through such a harrowing experience that took its toll in so many ways - whether we actively advocated the ouster of Apuron and his minions or whether we remained passively hopeful for better times. It seems almost unrealistic to put too much pressure on the shoulders of the incoming Archbishop, but we hope that he realizes the extraordinarily dark tunnel we have collectively experienced under Apuron. The struggle is by no means close to resolution but with Archbishop Byrnes' decisive leadership and sense of fairness, we can all work towards correcting abuses of the past and tame the beasts that have slithered in and have been allowed to rule under Apuron's watch.

    1. Rose de los Reyes (Seattle, WA)November 24, 2016 at 3:35 AM

      Beautiful commentary, Anon 8:25! I agree!

    2. Guess who paid for their water and electricity while they stayed rent free at that location.
      Did they even report this free bee advantage in nature in their tax filing.
      Actually, have they ever filed a tax return?
      This is partly how they fleece not only the Diocese but also the tax payers on Guam.
      Sweet deal

    3. In addition, the bogus missionaries were also both getting paid - courtesy of Apuron with our Church money. Certainly cash basis to avoid detection by Rev and Tax.

    4. Understanding the evil of the Jungle!!!!

    5. By their fruits shall ye know them.

      Happy Thanksgiving, Guahan!

  6. So if you think JW is evil, why do you keep coming back, 1:31 PM? JW has been effective in exposing the pernicious lies of NCW but others like diana and tricky dick have no evidence of their assertions. Just their professed sentiments defending apuron, pius and kiko, among others. If I were you, I would also be critical of both parties but decide which is more compelling: documented evidence or conjectures? Be responsible, verify truth.

  7. Anon 1;31PM .YOU know JW have nothing to hide and certainly not evil,otherwise you wouldn't keep coming back...Truth to the matter is,someone left the closet door opened and most/ all of the skeletons are out and revealing the truth.. That's why you're ALL hyperventilating and throwing each other under the Bus...FYI ApRuN even the Skeletons DON'T want to be in the same closet with you..

  8. well done Carmen. you have done more in heaven than you could do on Earth

    1. Well, A bit presumptuous wouldn't you say? And how do you know that Carmen is in heaven? oh that's right, Kiko said. That is why we have the virtue of Hope, certainty lies only in God, man's response, in his fallen nature and tendency to follow his selfish ways is always in opposition to God. Besides all good works, come from God and not Carmen..That is the Catholic belief.

    2. Of course the ultimate punishment for poor Carmen is that (if she in fact even made it to Purgatory) that, thanks to Kiko, she will have no one to pray for her and will languish in Purgatory.