'He'll be one with the community': Family, faithful welcome back a native bishop

New Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton greets members of the Daughters of Holy Mary of the Heart of Jesus, a religious order whose members drove from Steubenville for his inauguration Mass on Nov. 7, during a reception at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. (Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

Bishop Monforton's brother says Detroiters are getting a caring shepherd, humble servant: 'We're excited to have him back'

DETROIT — Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton’s appointment as the 32nd auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit was welcomed news for family and friends old and new at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament on Nov. 7.

Bishop Monforton was presented with a decree from Pope Francis affirming his new assignment by Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, the pope’s ambassador.

Auxiliary Bishop Monforton then processed throughout the cathedral to show the decree to the applause of the congregation, including his mother, Virginia Rose Monforton, who saw her son become the new moderator of the archdiocese’s South region, which includes her home.

It was a family affair for the Monfortons — with the French Cardinal Pierre commenting on Bishop Monforton’s French name and roots in Brittany, France and Canada.

Bishop Monforton’s brother, Dan, alongside his wife, Jen, told Detroit Catholic of their excitement that Bishop Monforton was coming back to Detroit after an 11-year assignment as bishop of Steubenville, Ohio.

“I was shocked but excited when I found out he was coming back to Detroit,” Dan Monforton said. “We're excited to have him back home again; we definitely did not see him enough when he was down in Steubenville. I’m happy for my mom to be able to see that he’ll be close in Detroit. I’m ecstatic, but more happy for my mom.”

Virginia Rose Monforton, Bishop Monforton's mother, with Dan Monforton, Bishop Monforton's brother, and his wife, Jen Monforton at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit on Nov. 7, where Bishop Monforton was named Detroit's 32nd auxiliary bishop. (Photo by Daniel Meloy | Detroit Catholic)
Virginia Rose Monforton, Bishop Monforton's mother, with Dan Monforton, Bishop Monforton's brother, and his wife, Jen Monforton at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit on Nov. 7, where Bishop Monforton was named Detroit's 32nd auxiliary bishop. (Photo by Daniel Meloy | Detroit Catholic)

During his homily, Bishop Monforton said he looks forward to spending more time with his mother and family, adding he's sure his father, Marc Monforton, is "smiling in heaven."

Bishop Monforton said he’s looking forward to enjoying his mother’s home cooking more often — even joking his mother has added more mustard to the Monforton fridge, a popular condiment for Detroit’s newest auxiliary bishop, he laughed during his homily.

Dan Monforton said he wasn’t a big mustard fan growing up — probably because his brother Jeffrey took it all, he joked — but also said the Archdiocese of Detroit is getting a genuine priest who cares for his people.

“Seeing him as a shepherd for the people, as a leader, you don’t see that as your brother, you see that as he’s a bishop,” said Dan Monforton, a member of St. John Neumann Parish in Canton. “He is a very caring individual, very outgoing, good at listening and he is a wonderful advocate for Christ. He will always do everything in Christ.”

Bishop Monforton's family listens to his homily Nov. 7 during a Liturgy of Welcome and Inauguration of Ministry at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament. (Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)
Bishop Monforton's family listens to his homily Nov. 7 during a Liturgy of Welcome and Inauguration of Ministry at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament. (Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

Bishop Monforton acknowledged his family in the front pew of the cathedral, along with friends from the Diocese of Steubenville who made the five-hour trip to Detroit for the installation, including the Daughters of Holy Mary of the Heart of Jesus, who earned a shout-out in the homily.

The Mass was an opportunity for Bishop Monforton to meet his new family in Christ as an auxiliary bishop in Detroit, including the Vitale family of Divine Child Parish, who represented families of the archdiocese in greeting the new auxiliary bishop during the liturgy.

“We were drawn at random to represent the families of the archdiocese,” Giovanni Vitale said. “It was an honor to welcome His Excellency on behalf of all the families of the Archdiocese of Detroit. I know he was born and raised in Detroit, and it’s great to have him back here."

Bishop Monforton has been vocal about his strong belief in the domestic church's role in evangelization, and in particular the importance of a strong Catholic education for children.

Giovanni Vitale with his wife, Lauren, and their children Louey, Giana, August, Leo and Zuke. The Vitale family welcomed Auxiliary Bishop Jeffrey Monforton on behalf of all families of the Archdiocese of Detroit. (Daniel Meloy | Detroit Catholic)
Giovanni Vitale with his wife, Lauren, and their children Louey, Giana, August, Leo and Zuke. The Vitale family welcomed Auxiliary Bishop Jeffrey Monforton on behalf of all families of the Archdiocese of Detroit. (Daniel Meloy | Detroit Catholic)

“It’s great to have a strong leader who is able to engage with families and be with us and be one with the community,” Vitale said.

Bishop Monforton also receives the honorary title of titular bishop of Centuria, a town in Nubia of the African Province of the Roman Empire in what is now modern-day Algeria.

But for people know him best, he’s simply Bishop Jeff, a Red Wings fan who loves to cook, ride his bicycle and trim trees as a way to relax.

“He likes sports; he follows all the Detroit sports teams and the University of Michigan,” Dan Monforton said. “As for outdoor activities, he does biking and being outside, doing yardwork. It’s his de-stresser.”



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