05/16/2013, 00.00
INDIA
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Mgr Savio Dominic Fernandes to serve, by the grace of God, as Mumbai's new auxiliary

by Nirmala Carvalho
Pope Francis appointed the priest along with Mgr John Rodrigues, as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Bombay. He will "defend life and the equality of man and woman," as well as stress the importance of rediscovering the holiness of everyday life.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "I feel God's love poured onto me and my response to it will be service with love in response to God's love," Mgr Savio Dominic Fernandes said. "Christ called me to serve as a priest, and with His Grace, I shall serve him as a bishop," he told AsiaNews after Pope Francis yesterday appointed him and Mgr John Rodrigues as auxiliary bishops of Mumbai.

"It came as a complete surprise," the new bishop said. "I feel very humble. I never expected to be a bishop. I remember the days when I felt called by God to the priestly vocation.

The two bishops-elect were also given respectively to the titular sees of Cozila and Deulto.

Chancellor of the Archdiocese, Mgr Fernandes was also in charge of the Women Commission of the Archdiocese of Mumbai. Now his priority will be "to serve God by serving the most vulnerable, the weakest, the needy and downtrodden."

"In our country," he explained, "women and girls are the most vulnerable. Regrettably, the patriarchal mindset does not consider women as equal, beginning with the sanctity of the home. This mindset has to change and doing so will be a significant part of my service. I shall defend the sacredness of life, teach values, and teach the dignity of girls."

For him, "Parents must learn that girls and boys are equal in dignity and should have equal rights and opportunities."

The new auxiliary bishop wants to focus on the religious sphere. "I find," he said, "that spirituality has been relegated to the background and it has all become materialistic."

"I plan to increase my personal holiness and through that, people may also be affected and gain holiness. I plan to be a good spiritual leader. This is what, according to me, Bombay and the whole country need".

From a large family of five children, Mgr Fernandes lost his father a few years ago. His 92-years-old mother is still alive. "It never dawned on her that I could become a bishop," he said, but "she always prayed for me, ever since I entered the seminary, that I might be a good priest."

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