Catholic Education Symposium – Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron
Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron
Archbishop of Detroit
Allen Henry Vigneron was born in Mount Clemens, Michigan, on October 21, 1948, to Elwin and Bernadine (Kott) Vigneron of Fair Haven. The eldest of six children (four brothers, one sister), he grew up in Immaculate Conception Parish, Anchorville, attending the parish grade school through eighth grade.
With encouragement from his parents, family, grade school principal and pastor, Allen entered the high school program of Sacred Heart Seminary, Detroit, in September 1962. After completing the 12th grade, he continued there for college. In June 1970, he graduated with his B.A. degree with majors in both philosophy and classical languages.
Upon graduation, he was sent to Rome to continue his theological education at the Pontifical Gregorian University. He lived at the North American College, a house of formation for seminarians from the United States. He earned an S.T.B. (Bachelor of Sacred Theology) degree in 1973, and in 1974 returned home to serve his transitional deacon internship at St. Clement of Rome Parish in Romeo.
Deacon Vigneron was ordained to the priesthood in the Detroit Presbyterate on July 26, 1975, at St. Clement of Rome by the late Cardinal John Dearden. His first assignment was as associate pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Harper Woods. He returned to Rome in 1976 for a year of study to complete the work required for his S.T.L. (Licentiate in Sacred Theology) degree, which he earned from the Gregorian University in 1977. Later that year, Father Vigneron returned to Michigan to resume his duties as associate pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace.
Cardinal Dearden assigned Father Vigneron to begin graduate studies in the School of Philosophy at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., in the fall of 1979.
He earned his M.A. in philosophy in 1983 and his Ph.D. in May 1987 with a dissertation on the German philosopher Edmund Husserl, the father of phenomenology. In January 1985, before completing his dissertation, Father Vigneron returned to Detroit to teach philosophy and theology at Sacred Heart Seminary. In January 1988, he was appointed dean of that college and became a key member of the team working to realize Cardinal Edmund Szoka’s vision for the transformation of the institution into a “major seminary” offering graduate theological education.
In the fall of 1991, Father Vigneron returned to Rome to serve as an official of the Administrative Section of the Vatican Secretariat of State. He was an adjunct instructor at the Gregorian University. In the spring of 1994, he returned to Detroit to become the second rector-president of the re-founded Sacred Heart Major Seminary. At that time, he was named a Prelate of Honor (Monsignor) by the late Pope John Paul II.
On June 12, 1996, Monsignor Vigneron was named an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit by the Holy Father; he received his episcopal ordination from Cardinal Adam Maida, Archbishop of Detroit, on July 9. In addition to his responsibilities as seminary rector, Bishop Vigneron was given responsibility for the pastoral support of the Northeast Region of the Detroit Archdiocese. On January 10, 2003, he was named Coadjutor Bishop of Oakland, California, and succeeded to the See of Oakland on October 1, 2003.
Bishop Vigneron oversaw the design and construction of the new 1,350-seat Cathedral of Christ the Light situated in a complex that includes Chancery offices, conference center facilities, a healing garden dedicated to those abused by clergy, a bookstore, and a public plaza located adjacent to Lake Merritt in downtown Oakland. The cathedral was dedicated for sacred use on September 25, 2008.
Following his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI, Bishop Vigneron returned to Detroit, and on January 5, 2009, was introduced as the next chief shepherd of the local Roman Catholic Church. With his installation as the fifth Archbishop of Detroit, he becomes Metropolitan Archbishop for the Province of Detroit (the seven dioceses of Michigan) and Chairman of the Michigan Catholic Conference. He also will serve as Chairman of the Board of Sacred Heart Major Seminary and SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, and Publisher of The Michigan Catholic newspaper.
Archbishop Vigneron is a trustee of the National Catholic Bioethics Center and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Catholic University of America.
In the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Vigneron is a member of the Doctrine Committee and the Subcommittee on Catechism. He also serves on the USCCB Taskforce on Strengthening Marriage.