“My family was very very religious,” remembers Father Bernard Fernando, O.F.M. With two aunts who are religious sisters and two cousins who are priests, Father Fernando had many examples of the joy of religious life within his own family. He was ordained to the priesthood in the Order of Friars Minor, Holy Name Province community on May 26, 1965. Two months later, his sister, Deling Fernando, also entered religious life as a Sister of Providence.
Father Fernando spent the first nine years of his priesthood ministering in the Philippines, his home country, before moving to Newark, New Jersey in 1974. Upon his retirement in 2004, Father Fernando moved to Central Florida, where his sister, Sister Deling Fernando, S.P. had already been ministering for several years. Today, they both serve at Holy Family Catholic Church in Orlando. Father Fernando assists with celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, and visiting the sick as well as being involved in Filipino ministry.
Father Fernando said his 50 years as a priest have been very rewarding, but not without challenges.
“Celebrating the holy sacrifice of the Mass is the best part of being a priest, to be there when Jesus comes down from his throne in heaven to the altar to be with the people.
“But the hardest part is preaching because you really have to practice what you preach,” added Father Fernando. “You might be preaching on patience without having much yourself!”
Click here to listen to a podcast about Father Fernando’s reflections.