Father Aldo Berardi has served as a missionary in Asia and Africa for years
Father Aldo Berardi has been appointed the apostolic vicar of Northern Arabia. (Photo: Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia)
Pope Francis has appointed French missionary priest Father Aldo Berardi, the vicar general of the Order of the Most Holy Trinity for the Redemption of Captives (OSST), as the vicar apostolic of Northern Arabia to take care of Catholics in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Father Berardi, 60, was appointed on Jan. 28 to succeed Bishop Camillo Bailin, who died on 12 April 2020, according to a bulletin of the Vatican’s Press Office.
Following his appointment, the Apostolic Vicar-elect Aldo Berardi expressed his joy and greeted Catholics in a message.
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“Our Church is a wonderful Church: one in faith in Jesus Christ, in communion with the Father by the grace of the Holy Spirit. The diversity in our Vicariate is a blessing for the praise of the Holy Trinity. May the Lord keep this unity strong as a true testimony in the Arabian Peninsula,” he said.
He also thanked Bishop Hinder, the apostolic administrator, calling him “a father to me.”
“His experience and wisdom are a lamp as I take first steps,” he said.Aldo Berardi was born on Sept. 30, 1963, in Longeville-les-Metz, France. He entered the Foyer-Séminaire of Montigny-les-Metz while studying at the Lycée Georges de la Tour de Metz in 1979.
He studied philosophy at the Grand Séminaire di Villers-lès-Nancy, and after a missionary experience in Madagascar, he entered the Order of the Most Holy Trinity for the Redemption of Captives in Cerfroid, France, where he made his first profession in 1987.
From 1987 to 1990, Aldo Berardi studied theology at the Grand Séminaire of Montreal, Québéc, Canada, and obtained a licentiate in moral theology at the Alphonsianum Academy in Rome in 1990.
He professed his religious vows in Rome on Dec. 17, 1990, and was ordained a priest in Ars-sur-Moselle, France, on July 20, 1991.
He served at Caritas in Rome (1990-1992) and as director of a reception, formation and retreat center in Cerfroid, France, parish vicar and chaplain for Scouts, Catholic Action and a psychiatric prison (1992-1998).
He continued his formation in psychiatry with Chrétiens en Santé Mentale in Paris, France (1995-1997), and studied Arabic and Islamology at the Dar Comboni School in Cairo, Egypt (1998-2000).
Father Berardi was the director of the Saint-Bakhita Centre for Sudanese refugees in Cairo, Egypt (2000-2006) and chaplain for expatriates for the apostolic vicariate of Arabia in the Sacred Heart parish in Bahrain (2007-2010).
In 2008 he obtained a licentiate in language science from the Open Arab University in Manama, Bahrain. He was a provincial counselor from 2009 to 2012 and then continued his formation in practical theology at the Université Laval de Québéc, Canada (2012-2020).
Father Berardi was the parish priest of Saint Arethas et Compagnons Martyrs in the apostolic vicariate of Northern Arabia (2011-2019), and since 2019, as the vicar general of his religious order.
The seat of the Apostolic Vicariate of North Arabia had been vacant since the death of Bishop Camillo Ballin.
Bishop Paul Hinder, then the Vicar Apostolic of South Arabia, had been appointed Apostolic Administrator of North Arabia on May 13, 2020.
Expatriates constitute nearly all the faithful in the vicariate. Though no official figures exist, it is estimated that there are over 1 million Catholics in Saudi Arabia alone, according to the vicariate. Kuwait has about 350,000; Bahrain has around 80,000 and Qatar has around 200,000 to 300,000 Catholics.
The faithful are all working migrants from a hundred nations, the majority being from the Philippines and India. About eighty percent of the faithful belong to the Latin Rite while the rest belong to the Eastern Rite.
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