This past Sunday, during a beautiful celebration in our Cathedral, I presented this year’s Marian Medal Awards. The 66 recipients of this year’s medal inspire others with their generosity, the joy of selflessness, and the sharing of their gifts. They touch the lives of those in need or less fortunate, all with a heart for the Lord and their Catholic faith. They are making a difference in our world like countless heroes and saints have done. We easily see in our society that people who use their gifts and talents for themselves. Our Diocesan Marian Medal recipients use their gifts and talents to lift others up, to bring happiness and hope to others, and, in doing so, work together for good. They find joy, hope, and fulfillment in serving others. St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests.”
The Marian Medal honors our friends’ and parishioners’ dedication to service to the Church, and they all should feel honored. We appreciate their kindness, generosity, and goodness. What makes saints and heroes? Acts of charity and generosity, even if they are very small. These acts do not need to be extraordinary, just accompanied by love and joy. Generous use of one’s gifts in our parishes, communities, and the Church which helps make the world a better place.
The season of Advent is an excellent time to acknowledge the generosity of those who serve our Church here in the Fall River diocese. Advent is also a time for us to be aware of our need for a Savior. A time to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and to walk with God on a path of peace and joy—which our recipients this year genuinely model.
December 8, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Catechism beautifully summarizes the Immaculate Conception this way: “No sin would touch her, so that she would be a fitting and worthy vessel of the Son of God. The Immaculate Conception does not refer to the virginal conception and the birth of Christ, but rather to Mary’s being conceived without inheriting Original Sin.” (United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, 142-143).
Pope Pius IX declared the dogma of Immaculate Conception in 1854. When the Pope teaches infallibly and declares a Dogma, it means that all Catholics have the obligation to accept that teaching and to believe it.
As this special day is one of the Church’s holy days of obligation, I encourage you to attend Mass as a family. What a beautiful way during this season of Advent to remember the one who gave birth to our Savior. The Diocese webpage offers a directory of parishes to help you locate a Mass at a convenient time near you.
Adult Confirmation Conferral
On Thursday, December 1st, I conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation at St. Mary’s Cathedral for candidates 18 years and older from around the Diocese. This year, I asked the candidates if anyone felt brave enough to share with those present why they had come to receive this sacrament. Several confirmandi volunteered to tell what brought them to be confirmed; their stories and reasons varied. I then took the opportunity to help each see that whatever sparked that desire, God used it to draw them back to the faith and closer to Him. That original reason remains valid, but through their preparation, I hoped they discovered and experienced a renewed relationship with the Lord and the Church.
In Baptism, the first sacrament of initiation, the promises to renounce sin and follow God were made by parents and godparents. In Confirmation, candidates now make these promises themselves and take on the responsibility of practicing their faith. Each “I do” and “amen” offered during the Rite of Confirmation is now their personal profession of faith and acceptance of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It’s a personal commitment toward becoming active, engaged members of the Church. With their “I do,” they are accepting God’s invitation to be His disciple. They accept the call of the Christian life to filter their choices, decisions, and actions through their faith and not to take lightly the gifts bestowed upon them in Confirmation.
May each of those confirmed on December 1st continue to learn, faithfully practice, and flourish in their faith.
Catholic Charities Gift Card Collection
I want to share that Catholic Charities of Diocese of Fall River has announced that its Annual Gift of Giving Program is underway again this year. Please consider donating a gift card in any denomination— Walmart, Target, and Amazon, as these offer free delivery.
Your donation will provide gift cards to those families in need. The deadline for gift cards is Sunday, December 11, 2022; this will ensure that families receive the gift cards well before Christmas. A list of addresses for the Catholic Charities offices in the Fall River Diocese can be found here.
If you would have any questions, please contact Rose Mary Saraiva at 508-674-4681 or email@example.com.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha