Rev. Dr. Fidelis Emmanuel Fernando – Auxiliary Bishop of Colombo


Rt. Rev. Dr. Fidelis Lionel Emmanuel Fernando newly elevated Bishop of Colombo was felicitated by his alma mater St. Benedict’s College, Colombo 13 at a thanksgiving service at St. Lucia’s Cathedral, Kotahena on Friday 17, 2012 and thereafter at an assembly at the College Quadrangle.

Rt. Rev. Dr. Fidelis Lionel Emmanuel Fernando was born to an Engineer Zavier Bastian Fernando and to Gnanasorubi his mother. The ancestors of Fernando family hailed from south east of India attached to the diocese of Tuticorin. They belonged to the Bharatha community.

Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Fidelis Lionel Emmanuel Fernando was born on May 20, 1948 in Jaffna and later his parents and family members moved to Grandpass in 1951 and thereafter to Kotahena in 1955. When young Emmanuel attained school going age in 1953 he was enrolled as a student at St. Benedict’s College and was moulded under the guidance and tutelage of the De Salle Brothers.

After completing his ordinaries Emmanuel entered St. Aloysius Minor Seminary with his eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith. He was at the "Hawardan" at Haputale for a few months and then entered the National Seminary. In August 1969 he was sent to Rome for Theology at propaganda Fide College. In 1972 he completed his B.Th. in Rome and in 1974 the licentiate in Theology. On January 6, 1973 he was ordained as a priest by the Holy Father Pope Paul VI in Rome along with 38 priests from 19 countries on the solemn occasion of the 350th Anniversary of the congregation of evangelization of people and after his ordination Rt. Rev. Dr. Fidelis Lionel Emmanuel Fernando came to Sri Lanka in 1974. In his motherland he served in number of parishes and institutions namely Waga, St. Lucia’s Cathedral, looking after St. Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade and the National Seminary where he made use of his theological knowledge to foster and nurture the believers.

In 1987 he proceeded to United States and earned a Doctorate in moral Theology from the Catholic University, Washington DC. His doctoral thesis a highly academic work titled Population policy of Sri Lanka and the moral teaching of the Catholic Church.

Returning home he was appointed as the Vice-Rector at the National Seminary and thereafter as rector from 1989-1991. During this period a new chapter dawned in the National Seminary as the education courses were streamlined and updated. The library was expanded with added facilities and new books were constantly made available with access to the British Council library.

Having reached a very significant milestone of priestly ministry, he committed his life in celibacy and obedience to the calling of god. It was a journey facing a multitude of stumbling blocks, but he converted each stumbling block into a stepping stone, a grace-bearing cross. The almighty God had done great things in his life. Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Fidelis Lionel Emmanuel is certainly a vessel chosen by God to serve the whole church of Sri Lanka in its long and eventful history and a legend in the hearts and minds of the priests and people alike, as a teacher, rector, pastor and friend.

Rt. Rev. Dr. Fidelis Lionel Emmanuel don the Royal Purple Robe on February 11, 2012 at St. Lucia’s Cathedral who was blessed and ordained as an Auxiliary Bishop of Colombo, where his beloved family members, colleagues, relations in large numbers were present to pray for him and to wish him in his new role as a Bishop in God’s vineyard.

Angelo Canjemanaden

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