Most Rev Derek Fernandes, at present the bishop of Karwar has been appointed as the Bishop of the Diocese of Belagavi. As per the communication received from the Apostolic Nunciature via the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) secretary, the Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, the announcement was made public in Rome on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 at 3.30 noon according to Indian time.
Making an official announcement, administrator of the Diocese of Belgaum Rev Fr Eusebio Fernandes, said that the clergy and the laity of the diocese of Belgaum has been praying for 11 months for the gift of a Bishop and now the date of the installation ceremony of the new bishop would be decided shortly.
“God has been very kind in gifting us a Good Shepherd in Bishop Derek Fernandes, who is also known for his all round personality. We thank and praise God for his goodness towards us. Bishop Derek is our own, studied for our Diocese, ordained a Priest for our Diocese, and served as Priest in the Diocese for 28 years,” an elated Fr Eusebio ascertained expressing happiness on the appointment.
Diocese of Belgaum comprises of the districts of Belagavi, Dharwad, Gadag, Bagalkote, Haveri and Chandgad taluk in Maharashtra.
Bishop Derek has expressed happiness on his appointment and said that it was a second homecoming from him. “Extremely happy to come back to Belagavi as I have served here as a priest. Though going to Karwar as the Bishop was the homecoming, returning to Belagavi is a second homecoming. Though Sirsi is my birth place, I was born as a priest in Belagavi, hence coming back as a bishop is certainly joyful, “ Bishop Derek said, adding, I feel humbled and accept this appointment with the motto of serving for the greater glory of God through priests, nuns and lay faithful of the diocese of Belgaum.
Born on May 14, 1954 in Sirsi, Bishop Derek was ordained priest for the Diocese of Belgaum on May 5, 1979.He has a doctorate in Canon Law from Urbaniana University, Rome. As a priest he has worked in different capacities in the diocese and also served as the Administrator of the Diocese from 2004 to 2006, till he was consecrated bishop of Karwar on March 20, 2007. An able administrator, Bishop Derek has exceptional communication skills . Apart from English he knows Konkani, Kannada, Hindi, Marathi, German, Italian and Tamil and is an proficient preacher with a soft corner for the poor and the marginalized.
He knows the diocese well and was instrumental in the construction of Churches and Educational Institutions and has worked closely with three former bishops of the diocese, late Bishop Ignatius Lobo, His Grace, Most Rev Bernard Moras, Archbishop Emeritus of Bengaluru, and the present Archbishop of Bengaluru, His Grace, Most Rev Peter Machado.
Meanwhile, Catholics of the diocese were overjoyed on the appointment of Bishop Derek as he knows the diocese from the grass roots level. Bells of all the churches in the diocese were rung after the announcement was made.