The Society of the Missionaries of St. Francis Xavier, Pilar, commonly referred to as the Society of Pilar or the Pilar Fathers, has elected a new superior general during its General Chapter on August 6.
The society elected Father Nazareth Rosario Fernandes from Loutolim, Goa, in India, as its 19th superior general.
Also elected as vicar general is Father Steevan D’Souza from Udupi and Father Anthony Joseph Fernandes from Raia as second councilor, Father Saturnino Almeida from Goa Velha as third councilor, Father Maria Michael from Tuticorin as fourth councillor and Father Derick Rodrigues from Verna as general treasurer.
The general chapter carried the heme “In Him – For All, with Hope,” which was an “outcome of profound reflections.”
“The quality of our union in Christ is the key to all renewal and mission,” said Father Santosh Mendonca, secretary of the pre-chapter committee. “Being a person who is immersed in Christ would certainly have the mind of Jesus and become a person for all,” he said.
The priest said the “terrifying COVID experience, the socio-political situation that makes the church insecure, the many anxieties of members within the society” led the congregation to include hope in the theme of the meeting.
In his first address to the capitulars of the general chapter, Father Fernandes said he may “not have too many abilities, but I am available to carry on the works of the Society.”
Father Fernandes, son of Joaquim Manuel Fernandes and Maria Joaquina Fernandes, has a licentiate in Church History from the Gregorian University, Rome, and is a professor at the Pilar Theological Seminary.
He served as rector of Pilar Niketan, Nagpur, and also at the All India Mission Seminary, Pilar.
In his homily during Mass after his election, Father Fernandes vowed to “uphold the Constitutions and the traditions of the Society of Pilar and continue to witness and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus, especially to those who have not yet known him.”
The congregation is a Catholic society of apostolic life of Pontifical Right for priests and brothers. Its members add the nominal letters S.F.X. after their names to indicate their membership in the congregation.
It was formed on Sept. 26, 1887, at Agonda (Canacona) by a priest in south Goa, India, named Father José Bento Martins Ribeiro, who, together with his three companions, decided to dedicate their lives for the service of God’s people.
Their aim was to serve the diaspora Catholics of the predominantly non-Catholic areas of Goa called the “Nova Conquistas” and to proclaim the Gospel in these areas.
In 1890, the headquarters of the Society were transferred from Agonda to Pilar where the Society has its Mother House today. In 1891, the Society’s Rules (Constitution) were approved by a local bishop. Father Bento Martins became the Society’s first superior.