Pope Francis names Cincinnati priest new Catholic bishop of Columbus

Rev.  Earl Fernandes, who has been appointed by Pope Francis as Bishop-elect for the Catholic Diocese of Columbus, gives remarks Saturday at the diocese's Catholic Center on East Gay Street, Downtown.  He will be the 13th bishop of the Columbus Diocese.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus has a new bishop — the first person of color in that role and the Catholic Church’s first Indian-American bishop.

On Saturday morning, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had named the Rev. Earl Fernandes, now a priest in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, as the 13th bishop of the Diocese of Columbus.

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“This is the land of opportunity,” Fernandes said. “There is a great deal of pride (in being the first Indian-American bishop).”

The Ohio native is also the first person of color to lead the Columbus Diocese, and the first Indian-American to be named a Catholic Bishop, Deacon Thomas Berg, diocesan chancellor, confirmed.

The fourth of five sons born to Indian immigrants in Toledo, Fernandes remembers celebrating the US bicentennial on July 4, 1976, holding signs with his brothers. His father, who memorized the Constitution before taking his citizenship test, had fashioned together his own version of the Liberty Bell.

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