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Earl K. Fernandes

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Earl Kenneth Fernandes

S.T.D., D.D.
Bishop of Columbus
AppointedApril 2, 2022
PredecessorRobert J. Brennan
OrdinationMay 18, 2002
by Daniel Edward Pilarczyk
ConsecrationMay 31, 2022
by Dennis Marion Schnurr, Christophe Pierre and Robert J. Brennan
Personal details
Earl Kenneth Fernandes

(1972-09-21) September 21, 1972 (age 51)
ParentsSydney and Thelma Fernandes
Previous post(s)Academic Dean, Mount St. Mary's Seminary
Exorcist, Archdiocese of Cincinnati
Secretary, Apostolic Nunciature to the United States
Alma materUniversity of Toledo
University of Salford
University of Cincinnati
Athenaeum of Ohio
Alphonsian Academy
MottoLatin: Veni Per Mariam
English: Come Through Mary[1]
SignatureEarl Kenneth Fernandes's signature
Ordination history
Diaconal ordination
Ordained byDaniel Edward Pilarczyk
DateSeptember 29, 2001
Priestly ordination
Ordained byDaniel Edward Pilarczyk
DateMay 18, 2002
Episcopal consecration
Consecrated byDennis Marion Schnurr
DateMay 31, 2022
Styles of
Earl Kenneth Fernandes
Reference style
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleBishop

Earl Kenneth Fernandes (born September 21, 1972) is a Roman Catholic prelate who has served as bishop of the Diocese of Columbus in Ohio since 2022.

Fernandes is the first Indian-American bishop in the United States and the first person of color to serve as the bishop of Columbus.


Early life[edit]

Earl Fernandes was born on September 21, 1972, in Toledo, Ohio, to Sydney Oswald and Thelma (née Noronha) Fernandes. Thelma was born in Goa and Sydney in Mangalore in India; both parents were raised in Mumbai.[2][3][4] Earl Fernandes has four brothers; one is a deacon in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.[5][6][7]

The Fernandes family emigrated from India to the United States in 1971, settling in Toledo. Sydney worked as a physician and Thelma as a teacher.[8] When Earl Fernandes was a child, his mother started every day with a morning offering prayer. When the family went to visit Sydney while he was working at St. Charles Hospital in Oregon, Ohio, they often found him praying in the hospital chapel in his break time.[6] Sydney frequently offered free medical care to patients.[8][9][6]

The Fernandes family attended St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Toledo, a working-class parish that Earl Fernandes says was a second home to him.[10] Thelma made yearly pilgrimages to the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Cary, Ohio. At the shrine, she gave her boys money to light the devotional candles as she wrote down her petitions.[11]

Earl Fernandes attended parochial school at St. Thomas, then went to St. Francis De Sales School in Toledo, graduating as salutatorian in 1990.[12][13] After high school, Fernandes attended the University of Toledo in Toledo, earning a bachelor's degree in biology in 1994. He then studied physiology for a year at the University of Salford in Salford, England.[14]

During a 1995 trip to Rome, Fernandes said he began to feel a call to the priesthood while praying at the Tomb of Saint Peter in Saint Peter's Basilica. He studied medicine for two years at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Cincinnati, Ohio, before leaving to prepare for the priesthood.[15]

In 1997, Fernandes entered seminary studies at Mount Saint Mary's of the West in Cincinnati. He was ordained a deacon on September 29, 2001. Fernandes earned Master of Theology and Master of Divinity degrees from Mount Saint Mary in 2002.[14]


St. Ignatius of Loyola Church (Cincinnati, Ohio), where Fernandes was pastor

Fernandes was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati on May 18, 2002, by Archbishop Daniel Edward Pilarczyk at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains in Cincinnati. After his 2002 ordination, the archdiocese assigned Fernandes as parochial vicar of Holy Angels Parish and as a teacher at Lehman Catholic High School in Sidney, Ohio.[15]

In 2004, the archdiocese sent Fernandes to Rome to study at the Alphonsian Academy. He attained his Licentiate in Moral Theology in 2006 and his Doctorate in Moral Theology with a concentration in bioethics in 2007.[13][14] During this time, he encountered the lay ecclesial movement of Communion and Liberation, and was deeply impacted by it. His episcopal motto is drawn from a prayer of the movement.[16][8] While in Rome, Fernandes also trained as an exorcist with Carmine De Filippis, an exorcist of the Diocese of Rome.[17][18]

After returning to Ohio, Fernandes joined the faculty at Mount Saint Mary's Seminary in Cincinnati, later serving as its academic dean.[4] In 2013, he published a book, Seminary Formation and Homosexuality, with the Institute for Priestly Formation. The book defended Pope Benedict XVI's ban of the admission of gay men to Catholic seminaries.[19]

In 2014, the archdiocese assigned Fernandes to serve as parochial administrator of Sacred Heart Parish in Cincinnati.[14] While there, he celebrated the Tridentine Mass along with masses in Italian and English. He later said most of the attendees at the Tridentine masses were young people, whom Fernandes characterized as:

... Looking for reverence and beauty, a sense of transcendence, and to be connected to their parents and grandparents, the generations of faith... The Latin Mass is also quiet. There’s so much noise and business in our lives. They enter into the liturgies interiorly and love it for its tradition, the Faith of their fathers.[20]

Fernandes was named a Missionary of Mercy by Pope Francis for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy in 2014.[21] In 2016, Fernandes went to Washington D.C. to serve as secretary to the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. When Vigano was replaced later that year by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Fernandes remained as secretary.[14][22]

Fernandes returned to Cincinnati in 2019 to become pastor of St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in Cincinnati.[23] His predecessor had resigned due to a rape allegation.[24] Parishioners at St. Ignatius spoke highly of Fernandes and his management of St. Ignatius following the other priest's removal.[25][26]

Fernandes also served as a judge on the archdiocesan marriage tribunal and as a board member of the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.[14] Fernandes was active in the Beacons of Light program in the archdiocese, which sought to consolidate its 208 parishes into 57 clusters, each with one priest.[27]

Bishop of Columbus[edit]

Bishop Fernandes's cathedra at St. Joseph Cathedral with his ecclesiastical arms

On April 2, 2022, Fernandes was appointed the 13th bishop of Columbus by Pope Francis. Fernandes was consecrated by Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, with Archbishop Pierre and Bishop Robert J. Brennan serving as co-consecrators, on May 31, 2022 at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Westerville, Ohio.[28] Fernandes was the first Indian-American bishop to serve in the United States, as well as the first person of color to serve as bishop of Columbus.[29]

In July 2022, Fernandes assigned a diocesan priest to run the Newman Center of Ohio State University in Columbus.[30] The Newman Center had been run by the Paulist Fathers for the past 65 years. According to the diocese, it took control of the Center to align it more closely with the objectives of the diocese and to promote the addition of new Catholic lay organizations, including Opus Dei and Courage International. The Paulists then decided to leave the Newman Center completely.[31] [32]

In September 2023, Fernandes announced the closing of 11 parishes in Columbus due to low Mass attendance.[33]

Fernandes is a fourth-degree Knight of Columbus, as well as a member of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[14]


Foreign orders[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bishop-designate surprised by his appointment". The Catholic Times. April 12, 2022. Retrieved April 12, 2022.
  2. ^ Dsouza, Alfie; Mangalorean, Team (April 4, 2022). "Fr Earl Fernandes, Son of Goan Parents, the FIRST Indian-American Roman Catholic Bishop in USA". Mangalorean.com. Archived from the original on April 4, 2022. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  3. ^ "Thelma R. Fernandes Obituary - Visitation & Funeral Information". www.walkerfuneralhomes.com. Retrieved November 3, 2022.
  4. ^ a b "Resignations and Appointments, 02.04.2022". Vatican Press. April 2, 2022. Retrieved April 2, 2022.
  5. ^ "Four men are ordained deacons in Toledo diocese". The Blade. Retrieved April 3, 2022.
  6. ^ a b c Mullen, Shannon (April 2, 2022). "Pope Francis appoints first Indian-American to head a U.S. Roman Catholic diocese". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved April 3, 2022.
  7. ^ "Sydney Fernandes Obituary - Visitation & Funeral Information". www.walkerfuneralhomes.com. Retrieved April 2, 2022.
  8. ^ a b c "04/18/22- Bishop Elect Earl Fernandes- Easter Greeting - St Gabriel Catholic Radio". Saint Gabriel Catholic Radio. April 19, 2022. pp. (timestamps) 00:55, 01:35, 3:50, 10:15, 16:05, 25:00, 38:00. Archived from the original on April 19, 2022. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
  9. ^ "Raised in Faith: The Early life of Bishop Elect Earl Fernandes". Catholic Telegraph. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
  10. ^ Dsouza, Alfie (April 9, 2022). "Fr Earl Fernandes having Mluru Roots, the FIRST Indian-American Appointed as BISHOP in US". Mangalorean.com. Retrieved April 13, 2022.
  11. ^ Telegraph, The Catholic. "Thelma Fernandes, mother of Bishop Earl Fernandes, passed away on Oct. 5". Catholic Times. Retrieved July 19, 2023.
  12. ^ "New Columbus Bishop grew up in, went to school in Toledo". wtol.com. April 2, 2022. Retrieved April 3, 2022.
  13. ^ a b Catholic Diocese of Columbus (May 30, 2022). "Bishop Fernandes Ordination Vespers And Mass Program". archive.org.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g "Congratulations to Our Own Father Earl K. Fernandes, Bishop-elect of the Diocese of Columbus". Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Retrieved April 2, 2022.
  15. ^ a b c Bean, Doug (April 2, 2022). "Cincinnati priest appointed as new Columbus bishop". The Catholic Times. Archived from the original on April 3, 2022. Retrieved April 2, 2022.
  16. ^ Telegraph, The Catholic. "The Way of the Cross and Public Witness". Catholic Telegraph. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  17. ^ King, Danae. "5 things to know: Columbus Catholic bishop-elect Earl Fernandes". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved April 21, 2022.
  18. ^ Thavis, John (2015). The Vatican prophecies : investigating supernatural signs, apparitions, and miracles in the modern age. Internet Archive. New York, New York : Viking. ISBN 978-0-525-42689-9.
  19. ^ Fernandes, Earl K. (August 2013). Seminary Formation and Homosexuality. Institute for Priestly Formation. ISBN 978-0-9887613-0-8.
  20. ^ "The right medicine". One Faith, One Hope, One Love. The Catholic Community Foundation for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. August 18, 2015. Archived from the original on April 25, 2023. Retrieved April 2, 2022.
  21. ^ "Cincinnati priest appointed as new Columbus bishop". The Catholic Times. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
  22. ^ Staff report (February 24, 2016). "Fernandes to join Nunciature staff". Sidney Daily News.
  23. ^ "Welcome Reverend Earl K. Fernandes, STD – St. Ignatius of Loyola Church". Retrieved April 28, 2022.
  24. ^ Cheatham, Craig; WCPO. "Trial for Cincinnati Catholic priest accused of rape rescheduled for October". journal-news. Retrieved April 28, 2022.
  25. ^ "The Columbus Dispatch". www.dispatch.com. Retrieved April 28, 2022.
  26. ^ "Former parishioners sad to lose esteemed pastor". The Catholic Times. Retrieved August 18, 2022.
  27. ^ "Bishop was active in parish restructuring in Archdiocese of Cincinnati". The Catholic Times. Retrieved August 18, 2022.
  28. ^ "Location, time set for Bishop-elect Fernandes's ordination and installation". The Catholic Times. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  29. ^ King, Danae; Doyle, Céilí (April 2, 2022). "Columbus Diocese's new Bishop-elect Earl Fernandes is first Indian-American Catholic bishop". The Columbus Dispatch. Columbus, OH. Retrieved April 2, 2022.
  30. ^ "Bishop of Columbus Shifts Direction of Ohio State Newman Center". NCR. July 13, 2022. Retrieved July 16, 2022.
  31. ^ Behrens, Cole (July 31, 2022). "Paulist priests celebrate their last Mass at Ohio State's Newman Center". Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved August 18, 2022.
  32. ^ King, Danae (July 1, 2022). "Ohio State's Catholic student ministry to get new leadership at Newman Center". Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved July 26, 2022.
  33. ^ "Black Catholic parishioners asking bishop to not close church". 10tv.com. September 4, 2023. Retrieved January 24, 2024.

External links[edit]

Episcopal succession[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Bishop of Columbus
Succeeded by