Greetings from Brazil; this month brings me the blessing of spending time visiting my mother, 13 sisters and brothers, 36 nieces and nephews, and eight great-nieces and nephews. My vacation in Brazil allows me to maintain that important connection with family, as well as provides me an opportunity to rest and recharge my batteries. In caring for myself, I can best continue to serve the people of the Fall River Diocese effectively.
What a fantastic year the Lord has blessed us with here in the Fall River Diocese. As we begin a new year continuing our mission of rebuilding in faith and hope, I wish to share with you some of the many highlights of 2019 in the Fall River Diocese.
Fall River Diocese 2019 Year in Review
“Rebuilding in Faith and Hope”
Strategic Planning Kick-Off and Diocesan Planning Commissions Celebration Mass
Nearly 400 Catholic faithful representing more than 70 of the 81 parishes across the Fall River Diocese gathered at White’s of Westport on Thursday, February 7, for the formal kickoff of the diocesan strategic planning effort. As I said at that meeting, we are going through a moment of transformation. We have been given a wonderful opportunity, as Jesus said, “Behold, I make all things new.’
After months of meetings and research, the Diocesan Planning Committees presented me with a thoughtfully prepared plan for “rebuilding in faith and hope.” The recommendations are being reviewed by myself and the newly-constituted Diocesan Pastoral Council to prioritize them and map out a strategy for their implementation. Once completed, these next steps will become part of the final version of the strategic plan for the Fall River Diocese.
Chancery Service Team
In 2019, the Chancery Service Team continued its commitment to continuous quality improvement and strategic cost savings to our diocese. Changes made, for example by negotiating new agreements and leveraging initiatives to reduce costs, have yielded considerable savings that can be used for our ministries and programs.
Women and Men’s Conference
Mass of Atonement, Prayer and Penance as part of the Child Abuse Prevention Month (April)
The Fall River Diocese offered a special Mass of Atonement, Prayer and Penance as part of its commemoration of Child Abuse Prevention Month in April. I was not only the principal celebrant but also the homilist at the Mass, which included special intentions for the victims of sexual abuse.
Every April, child- and youth-serving organizations — including many Catholic dioceses, parishes, and schools — participate in National Child Abuse Prevention Month to highlight the importance of protecting minors from abuse. These efforts are part of the ongoing work of dioceses across the country to carry out the U.S. bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” The Anchor published a wonderful article highlighting not only this special Mass but also our diocese’s ongoing efforts to expand our Safe Environment efforts.
Diaconate Ordination May 18, 2019;
followed in September with the Commencement of the next Diaconate Class
Priestly Ordination of Ryan Healy
The New Formed Catholic Foundation
Our newly formed Catholic Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts continues to grow. Led by Co-Chairs, Patrick Carney, and Nick Christ, the Board includes George Agostini, Rev. Marcel Bouchard, Richard LaFrance, Bob Long, Rev. John Murray, Maryellen Sullivan Shachoy, Rev. Richard Wilson and me. In addition, we welcomed Honorary Board member, Joseph Ciffolillo.
Diocesan Catholic Youth Day
The event featured speaker Joel Stepanek of Life Teen, who has traveled the world talking with young people about their faith. The day also included talks by diocesan teens, an oceanside service project, Mass with Bishop da Cunha, games, and more!
Fall FACE Celebration
A very successful 25th Anniversary Fall Dinner for the Foundation to Advance Catholic Education (FACE) was held on October 1st. New England Patriot’s Special Teams Captain, Matthew Slater, shared his story of faith with over 400 supporters.
How wonderful for families of the Fall River Diocese that in 2019, FACE distributed $1.3 million in scholarship support to help nearly 1000 students attend one of our Catholic Schools.
Ad Limina visit with Pope Francis
The launch of my Building Faith blog offered me the unique opportunity to share the many wonderful experiences in Rome during my ad limina visit with Pope Francis. My visit to Rome came with many blessed moments, including some unexpected encounters with Pope Francis. As I stated in my blog, “My experience confirmed the image many of us have of Pope Francis, of a simple, humble, down-to-earth, compassionate, and caring person.”
2019 Christmas Message:
Continued prayers for the Lord’s blessing on our diocese in 2020.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha