A welcome address from Fr Francis
Dear brothers and sisters,
My name is Francis Fernandes. I am the new associate priest in the parish!
A little bit about myself: I am originally from India and spent about seven years of my life there before my family migrated to New Zealand. I did my primary education and began high school in Auckland before my family migrated again to Australia in 2008. I have called Australia home since then.
I enrolled in a Bachelor of Engineering at QUT in 2013 and it was then that I also began discerning the call to ordained ministry. The following year I entered Canali House, which was then a discernment house for young men. During this time, I knew I wanted to enter the seminary and so I switched to studying a Bachelor of Arts at UQ focusing on History.
I commenced seminary study in 2015 where I met Fr Josh! The five years of study which followed (and the year in internship) have, in some ways, gone by in a flash. Nonetheless, they have been privileged years for focused learning about faith and spirituality. The seminary experience has also provided ample opportunities to learn about myself and begin a lifelong journey of human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral formation.
I was ordained a deacon in November 2020 and was appointed to Our Lady of the Valley Parish which encompassed the communities of Gatton, Laidley, Forrest Hill and Glenore Grove. Needless to say, the country experience was grace filled. On the 29 June last year, I was ordained to the priesthood. I recall the day vividly:
The ordination was to take place at 7.00pm and just before midday the state government announced a Covid lockdown starting at 6.00pm. Thus, a lazy morning was interrupted by an anxious zoom meeting. The meeting was followed by unanimous resolve to have the ordinations before the lockdowns – we brought it forward to 3:30pm. There was rushed preparations and cars were soon exiting the seminary one by one, loaded with seminarians. Despite the rush before – and the rush to get home after – the ordination itself was a deeply moving experience. My first appointment as a priest was to the Cathedral as associate priest. It was, in new ways, also grace filled.
I feel I have settled into the parish’s rhythm of life with ease. A big thank you to all who have shown me a warm welcome. I am excited about our journey ahead and look forward to meeting you all!
Fr Francis Fernandes