Fenech Francis X. (17.10.1892-13.5.1969)

Bishop of Jhansi, India

Born at Floriana, Joseph Fenech studied at St Aloysius College. At the age of 19, he joined the Capuchin order where he was given the name of Francis Xavier and followed a course of philosophy and theology. He was ordained priest by Bishop Giuseppe Maria Camilleri at Gozo on 25 May 1918.

As a young priest, he had always the desire to go to the missions but he had to wait for a period of five years. After his ordination he was assigned to Marsa parish church. He left Malta to Daman, to Bombay, India in June 1923 and spent six years in Bandra, Zaroli, Itarsi, Shampura. In April 1929 together with the other four Maltese he was stationed in Jhansi to develop this territory into a diocese, which was to be run by its own bishop and Clergy.

Fenech raised schools and churches, helped the needy from his scanty means, distributed medicine to the sick , and became a friend and a father to all. In 1940 the territory of Jhansi was separated from the diocese of Allahabad and created into an apostolic prefecture. During the same period, Fenech was apostolic admstrator of the Allahabad and Lucknowdioceses whose bishop, Mgr. A. Poli, was a prisoner in a concentration camp.

Pius XII nominated Fenech the first apostolic prefect of Jhansi in 1946 and, eight years the Pope elected him the first bishop of Jhansi. He was consecrated bishop in Malta by Archshop Gonzi at St John's Co-Cathedral on November 1954. In his 40 years at Jhansi, Fenech raised a diocesan clergy for Jhansi with its own first Indian bishop according to the wishes of Rome. He also founded many churches and other institutions including schools, hospitals, orphanages, dispensaries, foundling-homes, and boarding-houses for old and the poor.

Paul VI accepted his resignation as bishop of Jhansi in May 1967 and nominated him titular bisjp of Musuca in Bisacena. He celebrated his golden jubilee of his priesthood and died in Asha Nikeian, Bhopal, India.

Source: Maltese Biographies of the Twentieth Century (1997), editors Michael J. Schiavone and Louis J. Scerri

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