NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — The Archdiocese of New Orleans has announced the death of Auxiliary Bishop Fernand Joseph Cheri III.

Formally known as Most Reverend Fernand Joseph Cheri, III, OFM, the 71-year-old Auxiliary Bishop passed away on Tuesday (March 21).

Cheri was born in New Orleans in 1952, where he attended Epiphany Elementary and St. John Prep. He later went on to study at St. Joseph Seminary College in St. Tammany Parish, then came back to New Orleans where he received his Masters of Divinity from Notre Dame Seminary and Masters of Theology from Xavier University.

In 1978, Cheri was ordained to priesthood and in 1996, he became a Franciscan.

Cheri most recently served as an administrator at St. Peter Claver Parish in New Orleans, however, he also was a teacher at St. Augustine High School, a campus minister at Xavier University, and served on numerous boards.

New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond offered condolences upon the news of Cheri’s death, saying, “It is with a sad heart that l inform you that Bishop Fernand Cheri died this morning. He has been called home to the Lord. We mourn his death and thank God for his life and ministry. May he rest in the arms of the risen Christ.”

Congressman of Second Congressional District, Troy Carter, released a statement expressing his condolences for the family:

“I am saddened to learn of the passing of Bishop Ferdinand Cheri, a beloved member of our community who served as the Franciscan Friar of the St. Louis Province for 25 years. In addition to his service in the Church, his affinity for archiving Black religious music was well known with a collection spanning 6,000 recordings and prestigious writing credits to his name in the field. My thoughts and prayers are with the Bishop Ferdinand’s loved ones as all of New Orleans mourns his passing.”

A spokesperson with the Archdiocese’s office says Cheri will most likely be buried in the cathedral. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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