The Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus has a new bishop.
On Saturday morning, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had appointed the Reverend Count Fernandes, now a priest in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, as the 13th bishop of the Diocese of Columbus.
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Fernandes, 49, will be ordained a bishop and installed as Bishop of Columbus on May 31.
A press conference to officially announce his appointment is scheduled today at 10:30 a.m. at the Catholic Center. La Dépêche will be there to provide you with more information later. You can also watch the press conference live at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXqDOq997SY
Watch the introduction from the bishop-elect, Fr. Count Fernandes
News of Father Fernandes’ appointment as bishop comes months after Pope Francis reassigned former Bishop of Columbus Robert Brennan to head the Brooklyn Diocese in September. Brennan said her final Masses locally Nov. 21 after serving in Columbus for about two and a half years.
It also comes just over a week before Palm Sunday on April 10 and the Holy Week before Easter Sunday on April 17.
A native of Toledo, Fernandes now serves as pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola Church in Cincinnati.
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Fernandes is the fourth of five sons born to Indian immigrants and attended the University of Toledo, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology, before attending the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
While there, Fernandes realized he wanted to be a priest and now holds a doctorate in moral theology from the Alphonsian Academy in Rome, Italy, according to the diocese.
“Grateful to Almighty God and the Blessed Virgin Mary for my vocation and acknowledging my own unworthiness, I accepted, with fear and concern but also joy, the appointment by Pope Francis to serve as the 13th Bishop of the Diocese of Columbus. “, Fernandes said in a statement.
Prior to being a pastor at St. Ignatius, Fernandes served from 2016 to 2019 on the staff of the Apostolic Nunciature, the offices of the Pope’s representative to the United States, in Washington, DC.
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“I thank His Holiness, together with His Excellency Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio, for giving me the opportunity to proclaim the joy of the Gospel in the Diocese of Columbus, the capital of our beloved State of Ohio,” Fernandes said.
Fernandes mostly enjoys meeting and working with people, the diocese said, but he is also a reader, writer and is interested in education, culture and languages. He is fluent in Italian, Spanish and French, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and has reading skills in Latin.
Fernandes was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati on May 18, 2002 and served as parochial curate at Holy Angels Church and taught religion at Lehman Catholic High School, a coeducational school in Sidney, Shelby County, from 2002 to 2004. Then he went to Rome to study.
“I look forward to meeting the people of God – the priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful of the Diocese of Columbus – and collaborating with them to announce the joyful Good News and build the Kingdom of God,” said Fernandes.
Since his ordination, Fernandes has served in schools and churches in Cincinnati and in various organizations. He has led presentations, conferences and retreats across the country.
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As a writer, Fernandes has contributed articles to three collections of essays published by the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, Nebraska, which also published a book he authored in 2014.
Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr said he would miss Fernandes and his “incredible intelligence, tireless energy and concern for all.”
“Bishop-elect Fernandes has served the people of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in many ways since his ordination to the priesthood,” Schnurr said. “Over the past 20 years he has served as dean, pastor, parochial vicar, senior seminary scholar, associate professor, high school teacher and retreat leader, as well as being a regular contributor to the Catholic Telegraph and other publications.
“Through all his missions, Father Fernandes has been an ever-joyful witness to the goodness, beauty and truth of the Catholic Faith.”
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Fernandes serves on the board of trustees of Pontifical College Josephinum, a seminary on the northwest side of Columbus, and the board of trustees of Pregnancy Center East in Cincinnati, where he has been an advisory board member since 2008.
Before Fernandes was named bishop, Bishop Stephan J. Moloney, vicar general of the Diocese of Columbus under three bishops, had served as acting leader — called a diocesan administrator — since December.
“Today’s news is a joy-filled moment for all of us here in the Diocese of Columbus,” Moloney said. “We know and are confident that Bishop-elect Fernandes will be a wonderful and deeply caring shepherd to all of us here in the Diocese of Columbus, and I know he will find the warmest of welcomes from his new diocesan family.”
Brennan’s departure marked the first time in recent history that the diocese has appointed an administrator instead of having bishops serve until their successor is installed.
The two bishops who served the Diocese of Columbus before Brennan — Bishop Frederick Campbell and Bishop James Griffin — have both retired and served until the next bishop is installed, Diocesan Chancellor Deacon Thomas Berg said.
Brennan, now bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn, also applauded the announcement.,
“I couldn’t be happier for him and for the Church of Columbus,” Brennan said. “During my time in Ohio, I knew Bishop-elect Fernandes as a neighbor and through his service on the board of trustees of the Pontifical College Josephinum. He will bring his many talents, deep faith, and a true love for the Lord to a Church that vibrates with that same love for the Lord.”
Check back for updates on this developing story.