Pope Francis has many East St. Louis and Belleville Catholics smiling today. A few yelped with joy. The pope has named their beloved “Father Ferd” — the Franciscan friar Fernand Cheri III — a bishop for the New Orleans Diocese.
Cheri, 62, lived in East St. Louis from 2002 to 2009, serving at St. Augustine Parish in East St. Louis and as a counselor at Althoff High School in Belleville. He directed dynamic youth gospel choirs at both the high school and the parish.