Fr. Frank Fernandez, former pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Phoenix, died April 8.
Born Oct. 8, 1938, he was ordained May 19, 1979. He served as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Glendale, St. Gregory and St. Thomas the Apostle in Phoenix and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Scottsdale, before being appointed St. Joseph’s second pastor in 1995.
Visitation: 5-7:30 p.m. April 26, St. Joseph
Mass: 10 a.m. April 27, St. Joseph
Interment: St. Francis Cemetery at a later date
He built the church up physically and spiritually including converting part of the sacristy into a perpetual Adoration chapel in 2005. It was enlarged just a year later, and Fr. Fernandez could be found praying there well beyond his pastoral time, his 2010 retirement and in his final days.
Michelle Carmichael, a parishioner at St. Joseph since 1977 and in her third year as administrative secretary, said Fr. Fernandez was a great homilist. Betsy Sherf, who grew to know the priest through daily Mass, agreed describing his homilies as dynamic and articulate, so much so that some Massgoers recorded them.
The first thing she recalled, however, when remembering the homegrown priest was a prayer that he said came to him and inspired him: “Lord, help me to do today what I can’t do for myself.”
Vestments aside, Sherf said Fr. Fernandez was a scholarly reader, had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother and was a world traveler.
“He amassed a museum level of sacramentals, extraordinary things he had found in faraway places,” Sherf said, including a life-size crucifix. Sherf herself was gifted an 18th-century needlepoint tapestry of St. Joseph and the Christ Child that hangs prominently in her home.
The priest also had a “menagerie” of pets. “Many called him St. Francis because he loved animals,” she said.