First Indian-American to be Ordained As a Bishop
Earl Fernandes, the fourth of five sons, born to Indian immigrants in Toledo, Ohio, is set to become the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus, Ohio’s first Indian-American bishop
FREMONT, CA: Rev. Earl Fernandes, now a priest in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, would be the first person of color and first Indian-American to be named bishop of the Columbus Diocese by Pope Francis. Described as a young and happy priest, Fernades will be anointed a bishop and inaugurated as the head of the Columbus Diocese on May 31. According to the Dispatch, Fernandes recalls celebrating the US bicentennial with his brothers on July 4, 1976, holding signs. His father had made his own Liberty Bell out of the Constitution, which Rev. Fernandes had learned before taking his citizenship test.
Earl Fernades takes up the position of Robert Brenan, who got reassigned to lead the Diocese of Brooklyn. As the announcement of his appointment was made at an event on Saturday at the diocese's Catholic Center on East Gay Street in downtown Columbus, Fernandes remarked that he is guided by humility. Growing up impoverished in a Toledo area, his parents taught him this lesson, and it was the moral obligation that guided him through his spiritual journey and career.
Before becoming pastor at St. Ignatius of Loyola Church in Cincinnati, Fernandes earned a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Toledo and then went to the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
Fernandes, who hails from a family of doctors and teachers, discovered he wanted to be a priest while in medical school. He graduated from the Alphonsian Academy in Rome with a degree in moral theology. Before coming to St. Ignatius, Fernandes worked at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, where he was the Pope's ambassador to the United States from 2016 to 2019. The white nationalist "Unite the Right" demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left one person dead and 35 others injured, was an eye-opening experience for Fernandes while Rev. Fernandes lived in Washington.
Fernandes was a parochial vicar at Holy Angels Church and taught religion at Lehman Catholic High School, a coeducational school in Sidney, Shelby County, from 2002 to 2004 as a priest first consecrated in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati on May 18, 2002. Fernandes' determination to serve as a bishop for all 23 counties within the Diocese of Columbus, which includes a massive majority of rural areas and farmland beyond Columbus, stems from his experience in rural Ohio.