Auxiliary Archbishop Paul F. Russel in News for Climbing, Swimming, and Kayaking

Archbishop Paul F. Russell, middle, completed a biking adventure around Taiwan in November 2013, around 850 miles of cycle journey. In the picture’s foreground is Tony Hsieh, a personnel member in charge of the apostolic nunciature in Taiwan. To his right is Monsignor Ivan Santus, a member of the Holy See diplomatic service, currently assigned to the Vatican.

Archbishop Russell is not unfamiliar with physical challenges and enjoys nature because of her deeply-held spirituality. He spoke about their love of nature as part of his spirituality.

Catholics are acquainted with the outdoor exploits of well-known holy figures such as Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati and Pope St. John Paul II. They have been called adventurers as they were fond of wildlife, climbing, swimming, snowboarding, and kayaking.

Auxiliary Archbishop Paul F. Russel in News for Climbing

The Orchard Lake school’s library shows all remaining Okazaki kayaks, which then-Cardinal Karol Wojtyla used while Coyote Athletic would visit Michigan in 1976.

Obviously, we honor the Saints of Taiwan, but Chuangnan Tan (313th bishop in 2018) and Adam Voges (399th bishop in 2018) do not quite tackle the physical experiences necessary to merit this kind of recognition.

But Detroit’s most recent auxiliary Bishop, Archbishop Thomas Caggiano, does not face the physical hardships required to outrank his peers in Taiwan.

63-year-old Archbishop Russell, who served from 2008 to 2016 because the Vatican’s head of mission in Taiwan, the self-governing island off the coast of China, loves the environment is a little bit of an understatement.

“Three things that are physical is what local people refer to as being a true Taiwanese,” the outdoorsy auxiliary Bishop said to Detroit Catholic.

The first thing to do is climb the tallest mountain in Taiwan, Mount Jade, which stands at 13,000 feet. The second is to swim throughout the largest lake in Taiwan, Sun Moon Lake, which is 4.6 miles long. And the third is to go around the island on a bicycle, which is 850 miles.

Auxiliary Archbishop Paul F. Russel in News for Climbing

Pictured is Archbishop Russell during his expedition to the summit of Mount Sulbus, which lies in the Yayladere district of Bingöl Province, Turkey, is a peak 12,740 ft above sea level.

Indeed, Detroit’s newest Bishop has not only done these three things but also suggested them to others.

“I’m not particularly good at anything,” he said. “I’m not a professional cyclist, but cycling across Taiwan does not require that level.”

The two-week-long cycling tour of the island incorporates a religious significance along with linguistic ones as well, Archbishop Russell said.

“The goal is to make it a spiritual pilgrimage,” he said.

“On my trip to Taiwan on my bicycle, I asked Blessed Mother to journey to Taiwan and protect Taiwan with Her mantle. I did it with the monsignor who was enlisted with me at the foreign ministry and two of my staff keen on bicycles.

They stopped at various Catholic parishes, religious establishments, and mission churches as they traversed the island, visiting with the clergy and laying trustworthy — an uncommon opportunity to satisfy the folks they served.

Archbishop Russell regarded the pilgrimage as one of the most physically challenging things he has ever accomplished and an exceptionally spiritually enriching and emotionally strengthening experience.

He enjoyed it thoroughly; he’s already aligned on the opposite shore across the river, by way of the Diocese of Gaylord, the home of his native Alpena, a distance of roughly 615 miles.

“I began in October, Archbishop Russell said. I don t have enough time to complete everything in one go. I bought an automobile in Mackinaw City and continued through Traverse City to Suttons Bay throughout the summer.

As I have the time, I will be doing the other half of it. Archbishop Russell climbs.”

Auxiliary Archbishop Paul F. Russel in News for Climbing
Auxiliary Archbishop Paul F. Russel in News for Climbing

Left: Hurricane Ridge, the No.#1 peak in the state of Washington, in Olympic National Park in May 2022, Blizzard conditions.

Right: The most widely known picture of Russell is of him riding his bike in The Gates of Hell, adjacent to the Darvaza Gas Crater 

This time, he is cycling alone, paying homage to Michigan’s Venerable Bishop Frederic Baraga, the snowshoe priest who traversed the northern part of the state evangelizing its inhabitants in the 1800s.

“It is in the footsteps of Bishop Baraga, founder of the kinds of small churches and ministries that are so beautiful,” Archbishop Russell continued, “I am willing to do that slowly, but if someone wants to join me, I am open to that.”

Some of these church buildings and chapels have regularly appeared on Instagram Archbishop Russell updates, with a recent post from a kayak while outing on Lake Huron.

“The young adult hiking and rafting trip coming up in July is due to be sponsored by 75 of the dioceses in Michigan. I plan to do that with my friends”, Father Russell explained.

“I love those things. Nature is the handiwork of God, and is a way for us to work with God. The beauty of nature and nature s work is what God is, and it is a big part of my spirituality.”

Since Archbishop Russell currently resides in Detroit, he thinks perhaps he will need to data-trace the tour throughout the country from him. He believed that the other dioceses in Michigan were an excellent spot to put a focal point.

Who is An Auxiliary Arch Bishop to Be News for Climbing and Other Outdoor Activities?

It is because an Archbishop or his auxiliaries are known or assigned for very much spiritual matters far removed from the everyday activities of a layman. That’s why it hits viral when auxiliary Archbishop Russell goes out of his long-established life routine. Knowing who an auxiliary bishop is and what his duties are may quench the curiosity and thirst of many.

Diocesan bishops do not shy away from the challenges today’s bishops are facing. This is particularly evident when considering the size of the dioceses they govern, the diversity of the faithful they serve, and the various ethnic cultures of several dioceses. As a result, if a Bishop sense he requires assistance with his duties, he may request the Holy See appoint an auxiliary to give a hand in running the diocesan affairs. The auxiliary does not delight in the success of the status quo as ordinary in diocesan affairs.

However, when a bishop is obliged to serve as a side judge on higher national or international panels, or in case advanced age or poor health impedes the execution of his ecclesiastical office effectively, the Holy See may designate an assistant Bishop.

The position of an auxiliary differs in importance from a coadjutor in that the Bishop’s auxiliary assumes leadership of the Church whenever the diocesan Bishop resigns or dies. The Code of Canon Law states that the coadjutor and the auxiliary must consult one another when a general council meets.

Afzall Rahman

Afzall Rahman is a college teacher by profession and is a rock-climbing enthusiast from his early childhood. So, anything on climbing keeps him glued to for hours - be it a movie on or related to climbing, book on or by climbers, article or podcast on climbing destinations, skills, gears, or the likes.

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