Bishop Ferdinand Fonseca dies

Mumbai: Bombay archdiocese’s retired Auxiliary Bishop Ferdinand Joseph Fonseca died on October 2. He would have completed 90 on December 2.

“Bishop Ferdie, as he was fondly called, had suffered a heart attack a few days ago. The end came around 3:45am at Holy Family hospital in Bandra. His last rites will be held at 4 pm Saturday at St Andrew’s Church in Bandra,” said Fr Nigel Barrett, spokesman for the archdiocese of Bombay.

The prelate was born to Jose and Julia Fonseca, Goan settlers in Umerkhadi, Mumbai, in 1925, then known as Bombay. He completed his matriculation from St.Joseph’s High School, Umerkhadi, in 1942 and Bachelor of Arts from St. Xavier’s College, Bombay. He passed with honors in Latin in 1946.

He joined the Bombay archdiocesan seminary in Parel in 1946, a year before India’s Independence.

He was ordained a priest on December 5, 1954. He then completed Bachelor of Education and served as assistant parish priest in four parishes and principal of attached high schools — St Francis Xavier (Vile Parle), Sacred Heart (Santa Cruz), Our Lady of Victories (Mahim), and Our Lady of Glory (Byculla).

He held many other responsible roles such as director of the Sodality, the Legion of Mary and Alcoholics Anonymous at various times, a press release from Bombay archdiocese said.

In 1972, he was sent to study a course in Spirituality and Counseling at the Gregorian in Rome and at Loyola University, Chicago. He was appointed the rector of St.Pius X College, Goregaon, the archdiocesan seminary when the Church was undergoing revolutionary changes in the wake of Vatican II.

He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay in 1980. He chose Our Lady of Victories Church as the venue of his Episcopal ordination because of his devotion to Our Lady. He retired in 2000.

Bishop Fonseca lived in a retirement home for priests in Bandra. He had once said, “I couldn’t believe that God had chosen me, Ferdie, when He could have chosen anyone else.” He had told priests in their twilight years, “As one grows older and older, remember, you are going closer and closer to the one who will be in your heart forever.”

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