AN EXCLUSIVE: Fr Earl Fernandes having Mangaluru Roots is the FIRST Indian-American Appointed as BISHOP of Diocese of Columbus-Ohio in United States of America (USA) by Pope Francis. The Vatican had announced that Pope Francis has named the Rev Earl Fernandes, now a priest in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, as the 13th Bishop of the Diocese of Columbus-Ohio. He will be consecrated and installed as the 13th Bishop of Columbus on 31 May 2022. Fr Fernandes succeeds Bishop Robert J. Brennan, who now leads the Diocese of Brooklyn. He is the First youngest Diocesan Bishop at the age of 49 to serve in the US. This news has been hailed by Mangaloreans and Goans and the Mangalorean and Goan diaspora across the globe.
“The pope wants a synodal Church, a Church that walks together. I look forward to walking together with the people, the priests, the deacons, and the religious — actually, the whole people of God — in the Diocese of Columbus. The Holy Father says sometimes the bishop has to walk in front of the people, leading them. Sometimes he has to walk in the midst of them, listening to them (and) their joys, their sorrows. And sometimes he has to walk behind him, so that no one gets left too far behind. I want to walk with the people of God here in the Diocese of Columbus. We need to be a Church that walks together, and a Church that listens.”- the 13th Bishop-Elect of Columbus-Ohio, USA, Father Earl Fernandes
Mangaluru: Even though Mangalorean.com was the First portal to publish the news in Mangaluru on 4 April 2022 (Ref: Fr Earl Fernandes, Son of Goan Parents, the FIRST Indian-American Roman Catholic Bishop in USA) regarding Fr Earl Fernandes being appointed by Pope Francis as the FIRST Indo-American Bishop in the US at the Diocese of Columbus-Ohio. Within hours of our report being published, Team Mangalorean was contacted by a few family members of Fr Earl based in Mumbai, (namely Ms Margaret Joseph-the paternal Aunt of Fr Earl (Earl’s dad’s sister) and cousin Aroon Fernandes that a few details should be updated pertaining to Fr Earl’s family history, and here is an exclusive article of Fr Earl Fernandes.
On the outset Team Mangalorean would like to thank Ms Margaret Joseph for providing us with the needed information on Fr Earl’s family and also providing us with the exclusive photographs. Yes, it is indeed good news for Mangaloreans that a Catholic Priest having roots in Mangaluru on his Father’s family side, and also good news for Goans, with Fr Earl’s mother hailing from Goa. Seems like Fr Earl has a Mangaluru-Goa connection. Ligoury Francis Fernandes (Fr Earl’s grandfather) was originally from Nanthoor, Mangaluru, but settled in Mumbai in the 1930’s, where he managed Canara Coffee and Tea Mart in Fort, Mumbai in 1933. Earl’s Grandmother Ms Hilda Fernandes originally from Bolar, Mangaluru, the couple had six children, the Eldest Joyce, who joined the Congregation of St. Charles Borromeo, took the name Sr. Hilda, and Terrence, who looked after the coffee and tea business with his father (Liguory),then Earl’s father Dr. Sydney Fernandes, followed by Ms Margaret, Brian and Vernon.
Incidentally, Fr. Earl and his aunt Sr. Hilda share the same birth date, 21st September, though several years apart. Earl’s father, Dr. Sydney was born and brought up in Mumbai, while Earl’s mother Ms Thelma nee Noronha of Aldona-Goa, being Goan but born and brought up in Mumbai. Dr Sydney and his wife moved from Mumbai to the US in 1970, along with their two sons, while Fernandes was born in the US. The fourth of five sons ( Karl, Trevor,( a Catholic deacon) Ashley and Eustace) born, Fr Earl attributes his deep faith and vocation to the exemplary prayer life of his mother, Ms Thelma Fernandes, who was a school teacher in India and later earned master’s degrees in education and social work and worked at a university, and his father, Dr Sydney who is a physician. Earl born on September 21, 1972, in Toledo in Ohio, was raised in a devout Catholic family on the city’s south side, a working-class neighbourhood located near an oil refinery. His father, Dr Sydney Fernandes, died in 2019.
During an interview in the US, Bishop-elect Fernandes continued saying, “One of my last substantive conversations with my father before his death, I asked him, “Is there anything that you want from me?”… And then my father held my hand and he said, “I don’t know what the Holy Father will ever do in your regard, but if he does ask, you must accept. We have these problems in the Church. We need good shepherds. And if he asks, you remember the humble origins of your family. You remember your faith. Above all, you remember Jesus Christ.’” In some ways he was prophetic.” His parents passed on their faith to their children through consistent prayer, including nightly family rosaries that concluded with the Angelus, as well as prayers for world peace, the souls in purgatory and the family’s intentions.
As per sources while Fr Earl was serving as St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish’s pastor, he took over on the heels of a sexual abuse scandal. He had a lot to do to restore the parish’s stability, which he did, reigniting ministries and helping straighten out finances. He also kept regular contact with Archbishop Pierre, phone calls between them were quite usual. So, Father Fernandes didn’t think much of it when the phone rang on 21 March 2021. “I said, ‘Excellency, how are you?’ And he said, ‘Where are you? … Are you alone?’ … And all of a sudden, I got this burning sensation in my gut. And he said the Holy Father has nominated you as the next Bishop of Columbus. And then there was this kind of pause, and I looked up at a picture [taken] after my Mass of Thanksgiving at my home parish up in Toledo with my parents. And then I looked over at the crucifix on my desk and I said, ‘I accept.’ And he said, ‘We worked together well at the nunciature. You know the mind of Pope Francis. Your experience at the nunciature and even these years in the parish will have prepared you. You will be fine “
PARENTS OF FR EARL FERNANDES- (Late) Dr Sydney Fernandes from Mangaluru & Ms Thelma Fernandes nee Noronha from Aldona-GoaEARL FERNANDES SEEN ON THE LEFT
In yet another interview with the media in the US, Fr Fernandes said his mother made sure he and brothers started their day with a morning offering and carried rosaries wherever they went. When the boys would go visit their father at the hospital where he worked, he recalled, they invariably would find him either reading in the library or praying in the chapel. “I think maybe I learned more about life and faith from my parents when I was 5 years old, watching them pray, and praying the rosary every day,” he said, “than I ever did in all my seminary (studies and) doing my doctoral work.”
After earning an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Toledo, Fernandes initially pursued a career in medicine, enrolling at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine before discerning a call to the priesthood. In a 2013 video about his vocation, Fernandes describes a life-changing experience he had as a student traveling through Europe when he visited the tomb of St. Peter beneath St. Peter’s Basilica. Fernandes eventually entered Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary of the West in Cincinnati in 1997, and was ordained a priest on 18 May 2002. He subsequently studied at the Alphonsianum Academy in Rome, where he was awarded a doctorate in moral theology. After an assignment to Holy Angels parish in rural Ohio he became dean and assistant professor of moral theology at Mount St. Mary’s seminary, and administrator of Sacred Heart parish in Cincinnati. In 2016 he began a three-year stint on the staff of the apostolic nunciature to the United States in Washington, D.C.
The Fernandes family: (L-R )Terrence, Vernon, Margaret, Brian, and Sydney, (Sitting) – Hilda Fernandes, Sr. Hilda and Ligoury Francis Fernandes
Fr. Fernandes served as Parochial Vicar at Holy Angels Church and taught religion at Lehman Catholic High School in Sidney, Ohio from 2002-2004, prior to being sent for further studies in Rome in 2004. He is a member of the Advisory Board of Pregnancy Center East in Cincinnati and of the National Catholic Bioethics Center headquartered in Philadelphia. From 2012-2016, he was a member of the Executive Committee of the National Association of Catholic Theological Schools. In 2014, Fr. Fernandes concluded a three-year term on the board of the Starfire Council of Greater Cincinnati, which assists disabled persons. He is the published author of one book and numerous articles and essays, and has given talks and retreats across the country. Fr. Earl enjoys sports, movies, and hiking. He is an avid reader and writer and has a particularly strong interest in education, culture, and languages. Most of all, he enjoys people.
The Coffee shop on PM road, Fort-Mumbai owned by Earl’s grandfather Liguory Fernandes, seen working
It was 2 April 2022, the faithful of Ohio Father Earl K. Fernandes, a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, woke up to a surprise to find out that he was designated by Pope Francis as Bishop-elect of the Diocese of Columbus-Ohio. Although many in southwestern Ohio are sad to say goodbye to Bishop-elect Fernandes, the overwhelming responses expressed great joy for him. The man known for always smiling and radiating the joy of Christ shone while he spoke about his early life as a child of immigrant parents, who instilled the Catholic faith from a young age to the reporters he interacted with. While he has been given the nickname ‘FATHER SPEEDY’ by his Cincinnati parishioners for his perceived fast-walking and talking style, Rev Fernandes said he is committed to efficiency when it comes to prioritizing goals for the Columbus Diocese. As he grew, the Fernandes family remained close to their church.
L-R: Deacon Trevor (a Magistrate) Dr Eustace, Ms Thelma, (Late) Dr Sydney, Dr Karl, Dr Ashley and Fr Earl
In an interview to a juorno in Columbus, Fr Earl spoke of his childhood with both solemnity and humor saying “My parents and brothers are immigrants from India. My father came to the United States in January 1970. The Vietnam War was on. There was a shortage of physicians in this country because of the war, and so green cards were being granted to people from India, Philippines, Pakistan because they spoke English. We went to St. Thomas Aquinas Church on the Eastside of Toledo, right next to a Sun Oil refinery. … My father never let us tell anyone what he did for a living. And we lived pretty simply, and my parents were very devout people .We would have to kneel there on our floor and our knees would hurt. And we tried to say our Hail Mary really fast, and if my dad couldn’t understand us, he would say, ‘Repeat.’ If he said it three times, he would take off a slipper and [wave it at us].” Wow… just imagine what will be the result if our present dads raise their slippers and wave at the present generation kids ? Dads will FAIL or will be in JAIL!
Fr Earl blessing his grandmother and his parents after Ordination in 2002
Describing himself as ‘a young and a happy priest’, the 49-year-old Bishop recalled the lesson of humility his parents imparted on him, growing up in a poor neighbourhood that guides him till today. On that note, he said that same moral imperative followed his journey and career. “Part of being a bishop or a priest, a Christian, is to facilitate the encounter with the person of Jesus Christ that opens up new horizons for life and gives our life this decisive direction. … Christ is made present in the human reality through His church, and God’s grace comes to us in the human reality. And so to engage reality, and to help people experience God’s grace in this reality, is what I hope to be spending the next 25 years of my life and priesthood and episcopal ministry in Columbus doing.”
“This is the land of opportunity. There is a great deal of pride in being the first Indian-American Bishop. I see myself as a man, a human man, made in the image of God, and every person I see as a brother and sister. Throughout my priesthood, people have always asked, ‘Father, what’s your career path?’” “I said, ‘That’s the wrong question to ask.’ If you asked me what I’d like to do, I have always said from the very beginning I’d just like to be the pastor of a large parish with a large school and a large youth group. That is enough for me. When I got to be in eighth grade, my classmates and I tried to predict what we’d be in 50 years and my classmates predicted I’d be the first American Pope!” As Bishop-elect Fernandes prepares for his episcopal ordination in Columbus on 31 May 2022, he plans to draw on his experience as a pastor and high school chaplain and on his work in the nuncio’s office.
FOLLOWING ARE THE EXCERPTS FROM THE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW ONLINE WITH FATHER EARL FERNANDES:
Q: I just want to ask first of all your calling to the priesthood, at what age did you become aware of it ? What were your thoughts of what you would be as an adult at that time? Who was your inspiration or what inspired you to become a priest?
I think that I always had a sense, even as a child of being close to the Lord and His being close to me. I admired our parish priests and was happy to serve at Mass. Unlike many of my peers, I had no aversion to Mass or devotions. It was just part of who we were as a family. When I was in eighth grade (about 12 years old), my classmates predicted that I would be the first American Pope, even though I had said nothing of my sense of the call. When I was in high school, I was taught by the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. Having brothers and priests teaching and present in the high school made a priestly vocation seem like a normal thing to do. I think my parents, especially my mother, pushed us to succeed academically and to follow in my father’s footsteps as a physician. I think as a young man I thought of being a doctor, a priest, or a teacher. As to who inspired me to be a priest, I would say that two saints were my principal inspiration: St. John Vianney (because of his dedication to the confessional) and St. Francis Xavier, because of his missionary activity.
Q: When did you tell your parents about wanting to become a priest? What was their reaction, and also from your family members?
I told my parents that I wanted to be a priest in a definitive way on February 2, 1997. In high school, I had expressed interest in a survey and requested some literature, which came to my house. My father saw it and we had a discussion about it. When I was a medical student some years later, I had to make a choice as to whether to remain in medical school or take a leave of absence. At that time, I spoke to them and made the difficult decision to go to the Casa Balthasar in Rome to discern. After a year there, I decided to return to the US and told my father, who was supportive. My mother was less supportive because she was not naive about the state of seminary formation in the United States. By and large, my brothers were supportive.
Q: Tell us about your appointment as Bishop by Pope Francis, and where you anticipate that post?
I was absolutely not anticipating the nomination. Having worked at the Apostolic Nunciature, I am fully aware of the process of appointing bishops and the difficulty in finding quality candidates for the office. Although I work as a pastor of a big parish, I still have regular contact with the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Christopher Pierre. To receive a call from him was absolutely normal; however, the content of the call was stunning. I did not have a good reason to decline the nomination, and relying on the strength of God, I accepted.
Q: What’s been your feeling since being appointed as Bishop by the Pope? What’s been the mood?
I feel excited yet terrified, due to the weight of the responsibility. Like many American dioceses, Columbus will have its challenges. The people of the parish and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati are very excited and grateful, but many are very sad that I will be leaving. Thus, it is bittersweet. Nevertheless, we have to go where God calls us.
Q: Narrate your experiences as a Catholic priest? What should be the qualities of a good Catholic priest?
I spent my first two years as a priest working in a rural parish and teaching in a Catholic high school. It was a great experience. I was busy celebrating the sacraments. I had an outstanding first pastor. The high school students kept me young, and I was very sad to be sent for studies in Rome. I spent 2004-2088 in Rome earning a licentiate and doctoral degree at the Alphonsian Academy, run by the Redemptorists. In many ways, I lamented being withdrawn from my parish to be a student again, but it was a grace-filled time, being stationed with great American priests; being present for the death of John Paul II and election of Benedict XVI; and experiencing the universal Church.
I believe that a priest should first and foremost be a man of prayer, a master in spiritual life. I believe he should be a man of learning, never ceasing to learn new things, always open to ongoing formation. He should not neglect his administrative duties; although many do not like to govern, it is so essential to govern or shepherd well so that the work of evangelization can continue. I believe that priests should make themselves radically available for the celebration of the sacraments, especially confession and anointing of the sick. Finally, I believe priests should learn to be empathetic so that they can effectively accompany the People of God.
Q: Has anything changed in your personal life as a priest, as a man of God and Church?
The thing that has changed the most is simply the awareness of who I am as a priest and public figure and a greater awareness of the Lord’s presence with me. Our problems don’t ever go away, but we confront them differently because of our relationship with Christ. Personality-wise, I am the same: energetic and happy.
Q: How would you stay steady in emotionally charged situations?
I stay steady in emotionally-charged situations, not only by having an awareness that Christ is present, but also by asking, “Why is this person really here? What are they really looking for? What is it that they are really saying?” I think listening – giving people a sense that they have been heard – even if I can’t solve all their problems, helps.
Q: There has been a lack of religious practices by the faithful and Sunday attendance at churches has dropped very much- What strategies are you using to reverse that tide?
I think, re-emerging from COVID, we are trying to re-engage people. In my parish, we had monthly Amoris Laetitia Year of the Family events. We have tried to resume our choirs, including children’s choirs, which draws parents back to Mass. There are other events: Christ Renews His Parish retreats and so on, but most effective are personal invitations to return. Kindness toward people especially at funerals and weddings goes a long way.
Q: How would you decide in case, which aspects of church tradition to keep and which need to change?
That is not so much for me to decide or change. There are the essentials of the Faith – part of the Tradition – which must be preserved.
Q: How to encourage people to play a larger part in the Church?
In the United States, the lay faithful have a large role already. They accept co-responsibility for their parishes. For example, almost every parish has an active pastoral council, finance council, and worship commission. In addition to liturgical ministries, many of the lay faithful are involved in various Apostolates – St. Vincent de Paul Society; Bible studies; volunteering as catechists; teaching in our Catholic schools. I think people also have to be realistic about what a priest can do when he is running multiple parishes, an increasingly common situation in the church in the United States. A pastor has to recognize the people’s gifts and animate their vocations. Again, a personal invitation goes a long way.
Q: I remember that while I was living in the Chicago suburbs years ago, many Catholic churches were closed. How is the situation in Columbus-Ohio? What are your plans to avoid closing churches?
I don’t know the exact situation in Columbus, but they have begun the pastoral planning process called Real Presence, Real Future. I don’t have any plans immediately; rather, it is important to study the data and to examine what is being proposed and to carefully discern the path forward. I won’t say we will simply avoid closing parishes, because the situation, given the priest shortage, is unsustainable. The diocese of Columbus is also geographically large, with many rural parishes and some suburban parishes. The city itself will add more than 1 million people over the next ten years.
We need to develop a vision that accounts for this phenomenon, recognizing the decline in rural life, without abandoning faithful Catholics, and to be creative in how we utilize and/or repurpose existing spaces. We have been going through a similar process here in Cincinnati called Beacons of Light, and I have been on the oversight and steering committee for the whole process. I think having a leadership role in that process should serve me well in the Diocese of Columbus, but again, I have a lot to learn.
Q: How do you see the struggles facing U.S. women religious today, especially with the criticisms from the Vatican and elsewhere?
Well, it is mixed. In the United States, there are two main groups of religion (LCWR and CMSWR). The LCWR group is much larger but extremely elderly. The CMSWR group is very faithful to the Church and proposes a traditional way of religious life and is attracting many vocations, but they are much smaller. I think in both cases, the key is fidelity to the Church and fidelity to the charism of the founder/foundress of the order. There must be something distinct about religious life that points others to God and the Kingdom.
Q: How did your parents, especially your mother instill the faith in you? Can you tell us a bit about what it was like growing up a devoted Catholic?
My mother instilled faith in me through her personal piety and devotions. She is the one who taught us to say many of our prayers including the Morning Offering; the daily Rosary; and to be devoted to the saints. My father was the one who taught us our catechism. They were very different in how they lived their faith. Neither would ever think about missing Mass or skipping the rosary. Growing up as a devoted Catholic, I didn’t realize how special what I received in the home was until I spent more time with my peers. Then, I realized how much of a poverty there was in some, not all, homes. It made me appreciate what I had been given. As the years went by, by remaining a practicing Catholic, I have felt increasingly like a fish out of water, a stranger in a strange land.
Q: How did you discern your vocation?
This would require too much time to answer, but there is a video available about my vocation story. In college, I lived in the UK and I was blessed to know Fr. Ian Kelly, a priest of the Diocese of Salford, who was the chaplain at the university. I was able to discern with him. Later, when I was in medical school, I had the witness of an elderly Italian priest, Fr. Mario Rauzi, CS, with whom I could discern. Finally, I went to the Casa Balthasar, a house of spiritual discernment in Rome in 1996 and there discerned the call more fully.
Q: Did you have any close interaction with Pope Francis or any other Pope in the past? What is your opinion on the present Pope and his teachings?
I haven’t had any real interaction with Pope Francis. My appointment to the Nunciature began after his 2015 visit to the United States; however, I did meet him when he commissioned 800 or so priests as Missionaries of Mercy in 2016, during the Jubilee Year. As any Catholic should, I love the Pope. Some Catholics believe that this Pope is too progressive, but I don’t think that. I think many struggle to understand him, given the clarity of thinking of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Pope Francis is clear, but one has to understand his method. One book that helped me was written by an Italian philosopher Massimo Borghesi. In English, the book is called The Mind of Pope Francis. This book helped me significantly to understand what the Pope is trying to do; his use of polarity; his attraction to synodality; and the role of discernment. Like any Catholic, I love the Pope!
Q: Do you sense that among some Catholics, maybe white Catholics, conservative Catholics, there’s maybe a denial or just not a full recognition of some of the issues that are still present with respect to race?
I don’t think it is just white, conservative Catholics who don’t recognize race-related issues. I don’t think it’s overly ideological or political or malicious. I think there is simply a lack of awareness. Many people have simply been unaware or indifferent. As I said in my press conference, I only ever saw myself as a man, a person made in the image and likeness of God, and I only ever think of others as my brother or sister. Cain had seen Abel as his rival rather than as his brother. Jean-Paul Satre said that, “Hell is other people,” but the Catholic mindset is the exact opposite. We seek and desire deeper communion with God and one another.
Q: How would you, if you were to talk to a Catholic man like me, begin to break down this hyper-individualism, this unwillingness to go out and dismantle these barriers to knowing it’s not just White or Black Catholics, but Latino Catholics, Catholics that maybe don’t look like us or don’t necessarily come to their parish/church. What sort of advice would you give? Obviously prayer to start, to know the Lord’s will, but what else?
I would simply encourage them to think of the Church as universal, and that there are many and varied beautiful faces in the Church, with diverse cultures that enrich the Church. It is the Spirit of God who learns to harmonize them and who can bring unity in diversity.
Q: I know you still “look young”, active and quite energetic, what’s your advice to those seeking a vocation for priesthood?
Do not be afraid! St. Francis de Sales says, “Be who you are and be that well in honor of the Master Craftsman whose handiwork you are.” If you have a sense of the call, pursue it. God won’t let you down.
Q: Having been a priest for so long, what would be your advice for young priests today?
My advice would be to have a strong sense of priestly identity without falling into clericalis. You are set aside to be a man of God and a man of prayer. You aren’t just “one of the boys,” nevertheless, you can’t be aloof. You have to be with your people and to listen and learn from them. Not everything they say will be correct, but you will learn where they are at and can go out to meet them there to propose the Faith.
Q: How does your experiences as a priest to date fit you for the role of Bishop of Columbus diocese?
Well, the bishop has to teach, sanctify and govern. I have taught as a high school teacher and seminary professor. I also preach daily, all of which prepares me for the office of teaching. I have a doctorate in theology and have served as a censor of books, so I believe in theological orthodoxy and precision. We teach the Faith that comes to us from the Apostles. I think being a pastor has really helped me with the office of sanctification, particularly in the celebration of Mass and hearing confessions. Sin wounds a person who is in great need of God’s mercy. I think hearing confessions helps me to be more sympathetic of the frailty of man for whom Christ gave His life. My work at the Nunciature and interaction with bishops has helped me to understand more clearly how difficult it is to govern, with respect to property, finances, and the clergy. I learned from my time at the Nunciature what to say and what not to say and whom I should call.
Q: How would you describe your lifestyle of leadership?
I would say I like to lead by example, motivating others to accept responsibility. Although I am a workaholic and attentive to detail, I don’t feel the need to micromanage everyone’s life. I want to animate others to accept responsibility.
Q: What are your expectations that you like to put forward?
I don’t expect people to work as quickly as I do , but I don’t expect people to be lazy. My expectation is that people practice their faith and that they are enthusiastic about the mission. If what we do isn’t building the Kingdom or leading to greater participation at Mass, then we are probably not doing something right. As Catholics, I believe that we should be persons of integrity; that we should be professional without being cold; and that we should be patient, generous and kind.
Q: How can the Church best prepare the Catholic youth faithful for true commitment of their faith?
I would say that we shouldn’t “dumb down” our faith or try too hard to be “relevant”, thereby abandoning our tradition; rather, we have to propose the faith in an attractive way. I think people are naturally drawn to the true, the good, and the beautiful. Young people need to be exposed to our liturgical, artistic, and musical traditions. I think we can also prepare our youth by asking them to take themselves and their desires seriously. They need to have an affection for themselves without being narcissistic. We prepare our youth, not by simply giving them the answers, but by training the mind and heart to think critically – to ask the right questions – to see whether the Tradition corresponds to their hearts desires. I have a close connection with the lay movement Communion and Liberation, and I believe that Msgr. Luigi Giussani’s approach, outlined in The Risk of Education, can help meet the challenges of our day.
Q: What can you do to strengthen the faith by Catholics in America, including your diocese ?
I don’t know my diocese well yet, but a recovery of the sense of the sacred and authentic piety could help strengthen their faith. We are an “incarnational” religion, and I think the Church in America suffers because it has created sterile churches and liturgies, without forming the heart. I do not believe that more programming will do the trick; rather, it is facilitating the personal encounter with Christ that will strengthen the Church.
Q: What’s your message to the Catholics who are losing faith in their religion, and joining other Christian organizations?
I think it is important to understand why they are leaving and to address those issues. My message would be that it is one thing to listen to God’s Word, but it is another to abandon the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Always and everywhere Christ must be at the center of our lives, but at the same time, the Church in America suffers from the “Me and Jesus” mentality, the hyper-individualism of which you spoke earlier. Catholicism isn’t a religion that sways here and there, marked by emotivism; there is something more to it than that. The bonds of communion that we share and our Eucharistic celebration give us an essential unity. I have always admired Henri De Lubac’s book: Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man, because he argues that sacraments are essentially social. Catholicism is the remedy for hyper-individualism.
Q: What plans have you chalked as you take up the post as Bishop ?
I have made no plans as of yet. I intend to get to know the diocese and to listen to and learn from the people, the priests and religious. We will have to do pastoral planning, but it’s important to get acquainted before making big plans.
Q: What is your message as a nominated Bishop, especially to the young generation?
I don’t know what my message is but I will say that many, many people have said to me that my nomination has given them hope and that their faith that the process works has been restored. I do hope that my nomination represents the hope that comes from faith in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of man.
Team Mangalorean wishes Father Earl Fernandes all success and God’s enormous blessings while he leads as the FIRST Indian-American Bishop in the USA , of Columbus, Ohio in the US. Goan, Mangalorean and Indian Catholics are proud of you Rev Fr Earl Fernandes.