Franciscan leader in black Catholic ministry named New Orleans auxiliary bishop

Washington — Pope Francis has named Franciscan Fr. Fernand "Ferd" Cheri III, a New Orleans native who currently is director of campus ministry at Quincy University in Illinois, as an auxiliary bishop of the New Orleans archdiocese.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States, announced the appointment Monday.

Cheri, who turns 63 on Jan. 28, has a background that includes extensive roles in black Catholic liturgy, music and spirituality, in addition to having served on the Franciscans' provincial council and as their director of friar life.

He originally was ordained as a priest for the New Orleans archdiocese May 20, 1978. He studied at Notre Dame University and at the Institute for Black Catholic Ministry at Xavier University, both in New Orleans.

After serving as a priest at four parishes in New Orleans and Marrero, La., in 1992 he entered the novitiate for the Order of Friars Minor, in the Sacred Heart Province, based in St. Louis. Cheri made his solemn profession as a Franciscan in 1994. Since then, he has served as a chaplain at Hales Franciscan High School in Chicago and as pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Nashville, Tenn. He served as a choir director and guidance counselor at Althoff Catholic High in Belleville, Ill., while part of a contingent that launched St. Benedict the Black Friary in East St. Louis, an outreach to the poor, African-American community.

Prior to beginning his position at Quincy University in 2011, he was director of campus ministry at Xavier University. In addition to his post at Quincy, he is vicar of Holy Cross Friary, located on the campus.

Cheri also is a board member of the National Black Catholic Congress and has been involved in activities including the NBCC gatherings, the U.S. bishops' subcommittee on Black Catholic worship and the National Joint Conference of Black Religious Planning Committee.

According to his biography on the NBCC website, he created youth gospel choirs in several places, began the Black Saints Celebrations for the New Orleans archdiocese and is convener and facilitator of Go Down Moses Retreats for African American Catholic Young Men.

The New Orleans archdiocese, headed by Archbishop Gregory Aymond, has had no auxiliary bishops since Bishop Dominic Carmon retired in 2006.

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