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13 May: Pune, India. FR ARCHIBALD FERNANDES (MSFS). (Born 1936, Ex-Tanga, Tanzania). Son of Manuel/Petronila (Nelly). Brother of Sheila, Eddie and Ronnie. Funeral in Pune on Tuesday 15 May at 8.30 am at SFS Church Shaanwadi, Pune -14.

14 May 2007
Fr Archie is no more. He loved and preached music. By Joel D'Souza

Tanga-born Fr Achibald Fernandes hailed from a very rare breed of Catholic priests given to preaching music. Goa certainly needs revival of music schools of yesteryears in our churches, since we have quite a few priests ingrained in music,” he told us way back in 2004. Fr Archie spent “enjoyable times playing with the talented boys” with who he strung together big-time bands – Green Sleeves (1973 to 1979) and Cascades – unbeatable at their superb performing style.

The Fransalian priest mixed music and education admirably. As an educationist, he served as a principal of various schools – SFX High School in Siolim, St Thomas High School in Aldona and St Francis de Sales High school, which he had founded in Pune. He was also the principal of St Francis de Assisi High School at Shivaji Nagar in the same city.

He played the saxophone famously along with Tony Dias, Victor, Desmond, Abel, Michael, Julius and Stella until 1989 played for the inimitable Cascades outfit, the envy of every band and the automatic choice for the most prominent dances and shows in Goa.

While Fr Archie played, he believed that “there are hundreds of eyes following you… a priest playing saxophone on stage.” Music and preaching, though disparate, helped him “induce them with a bit of spirituality and certain values and often establishing fine camaraderie by mixing freely with the members of other participating bands”. Being a music teacher, the group could not hope for a better guide and mentor than Fr Archie. He bemoaned the fact that there were “extraordinarily talented musicians among the priests”, who did not venture out to play”. Fr Archie preferred to be unusual. He even played for the Grease for two years while in Muscat.

The revered bandleader’s father – Manuel Fernandes – played the flute and his mother – Petronila (Nelly) – excelled at the keyboards as does his sister Sheila. Archie and his brothers (Eddie and Ronnie) plumped for the haunting harmony of the saxophone. The eminent tunesmith regaled music aficionados throughout his priesthood. Even when he was being ordained priest 1965, he was in the thick of music. His quarters at the Fransalian seminary at Bastora was always strewn with a variety of musical instruments as he took pride in preparing youngsters in music.

The ever jovial Fr Archie, suffered his sickness stoically for quite some time, and eventually signed off from planet Earth, for greener pastures up in heaven on May 13. With his immense experience at entertaining thousands with ethereal music, his former associates in music vouch for the fact that their beloved mentor - Fr Archie - would be as much happy, busy and in hi demand in Lord’s abode as he used to be here in His vineyard. Fr Archie’s mortal remains will be laid to rest on May 15 in Pune.

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