CS PHOTO BY JACLYN LIPPELMANN
During the June 29 Episcopal Ordination Mass for new Washington Auxiliary Bishop Michael Fisher at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, three of his four siblings bring up the offertory gifts to him and Cardinal Wuerl (not pictured), including, from left, William Fisher, Kathleen Mounsey and Patrick Fisher.
CS PHOTO BY JACLYN LIPPELMANN During the June 29 Episcopal Ordination Mass for new Washington Auxiliary Bishop Michael Fisher at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, three of his four siblings bring up the offertory gifts to him and Cardinal Wuerl (not pictured), including, from left, William Fisher, Kathleen Mounsey and Patrick Fisher.

Bishop Michael Fisher’s leadership qualities go back to the days of his childhood, when he would play with his siblings and neighborhood friends on the streets of Baltimore.

“Mike was always the leader that we always looked up to,” said his younger brother, Patrick Fisher, recalling the games of baseball and football they would play together.

Agreeing, his younger sister, Kathleen Mounsey, said, “He was our leader. We would follow him, and we would probably get into trouble at times.”

The group of kids went on long hikes and bike rides along the railroad tracks, where they would pack their lunches and promise their mom that they would return by the time the lights came on in the city. These treks were a precursor to later family hikes Bishop Fisher took with his brothers through the Blue Ridge Mountains.

“He was my older brother; I looked up to him all the time,” said Patrick Fisher, who lives in Manchester, Maryland, with his wife, Clare, and is a retired Carroll County police officer. “If I had any problems, he was the one to go to. He protected us whenever kids would try to pick on us.”

The future bishop also served as the peacemaker between anyone who was fighting, recalled Mounsey, who is married with three grown children and lives in Texas.

“He is very compassionate, and he puts others before himself. That is one of the best qualities of Mike. It always has been,” she said. “That is just the way he has always been, even as a young boy. We could be playing outside and he would go to the ones that were being bullied or not being included, and he would include them.”

Because of these leadership qualities, and because he has always known his brother to be a spiritual person, Patrick Fisher said he was not surprised when he heard that he had been appointed a bishop.

“I was happy, but I wasn’t surprised, because whatever Mike gets involved with…he has always moved up the chain,” he said. “...In fact it really wasn’t a surprise to me when he became a priest, it only surprised me that it took so long.”

Likewise, Bishop Fisher’s godmother, Judy Hayden, said she was “not surprised at all when she heard the news,” because in her eyes, “he is perfect,” she said. But although she was not surprised, she said the news left her feeling like she was “floating on air.”

Patrick Fisher said his brother has always been a people person who is concerned with those around him.

“Mike’s got that quality, he always has, where he is very concerned,” he said. “He listens to people when you have a problem, and he tries to calmly give you [ways to] solve those problems with his opinions and guidance.”

The new bishop’s sister, Kathleen Mounsey, also remembered how her older brother has always put others first.

“It’s never been about him. He is a very humble person. It has always been about others – him helping others and serving others,” she said. “It has never been about Mike. That is the type of person he is.”

Bishop Fisher’s aunt, Lorraine Gayle, said these caring qualities are what will make him such a good bishop.

“He is a caring, loving person, and he has always tried to be there for people when they needed him,” said Gayle, who lives in Suffolk, Virginia. “I think that is one of the main qualities in any religious clergy is the caring they have for their brother human beings and for their love of God. I know Mike has that.”

While he is now often very busy, Bishop Fisher still makes a point to keep in touch with each of his siblings, calling them all on Christmas, their birthdays, and sometimes even on anniversaries, Mounsey said.

“His whole family is very proud of him; especially his brothers and sisters,” said Patrick Fisher.

Hayden, who lives in Lanham and is a member of Ascension Parish in Bowie, had been friends with Bishop Fisher’s mom, Margo, since the first grade, and used to take annual trips with her and both of their husbands to Ocean City. She recalled how if they were leaving on a Sunday, the Fishers had to make sure they went to church before they left. She believes Bishop Fisher’s solid grounding in the faith has a lot to do with his parents’ witness, and she said she knows they would have been thrilled about his appointment.

Gayle likewise said she wished Bishop Fisher’s parents and grandparents were still around to see him be ordained, because she knows how proud they were of him while they were living. 

“Although they aren’t here now, they are with him in another way,” she said. “They are very proud of him like we all are.”