June 13th Ordinations
The Fall River Diocese welcomed a new priest and a new deacon Saturday, June 13, as Holy Orders were conferred during a very different but still special Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fall River. I was blessed to ordain Deacon Steven A. Booth to the priesthood and seminarian Peter R. Scheffer Jr. to the transitional diaconate (God willing, Deacon Peter will be ordained a priest next year). I invite you to learn more about these two extraordinary men in this article on the Diocese of Fall River website.
Although the pandemic limited the number of people who could attend the ordination—in a testament to the blessing of living in a technological age— over 2,500 people have viewed the ceremony online. It is now available on YouTube, for those wishing to watch, but are not on Facebook.
As I mentioned in my homily on Saturday, the Church rejoices with and extends a welcome to now, Father Steven and Deacon Peter. We celebrate giving thanks to their call that has brought us to the day of their ordination. We thank them for giving their yes to the call from the Lord, who has specifically selected them for this ministry. Their generous response will bring joy not only to them but also many fruits to the Church here in the Diocese of Fall River. Priests and Deacons are configured in Christ and are called to conform their lives to the Life of Christ.
On Saturday, we also celebrated the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua. On that day, I encouraged Steven and Peter to imitate St. Anthony’s zeal for the word of God, his enthusiasm for sharing the faith with others, and his humility to accept God’s will. My brothers and sisters, I pray for that for you as well. I pray that in imitation of St. Anthony, we might all allow him to protect, intercede, and pray for us—bringing us all closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
We congratulate Father Steven Booth and Deacon Peter Scheffer on the occasion of their ordinations. We wish them many blessings in their ministry and Deacon Peter’s continued studies to the priesthood.
On Sunday, June 14th, I was joined by various clergy and religious leaders from Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands, to come to pray together for an end to racism and its many injustices. Taking part in the Interfaith Prayer Service program with me were Pastor Mary Ann Purtill, First Church, Marion; Rev. Pam Cole, Church Women United; Rabbi Raphael Kanter, Congregation Tifereth Israel, New Bedford; Rev. David Lima, Executive Minister, Inter-Church Council of Greater New Bedford; Rabbi Mark Elber and Cantor Shoshana Brown, Temple Beth El, Fall River; Martin Benz, Outreach Coordinator, Islamic Center of Southeastern Mass.; and Rev. Elizabeth Watson, Retired Director of Spiritual Development, First Baptist Church, Fall River. Father John Sullivan of Holy Redeemer Parish in Chatham led the Responsorial Psalm.
I want to share with you the words of the opening prayer,
“Almighty God, we place ourselves in prayer before you this day in our efforts to dismantle racism. We understand that we struggle not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities. Those institutions and systems that keep racism alive by perpetuating the lie that some members of the human family are inferior and others superior. Create in us a new mind and a new heart that will enable us to see brothers and sisters in the faces of those divided by racial categories. Give us the grace and strength to rid ourselves of racial stereotypes that oppress some of us while providing entitlement to others. Help us to create congregations, churches, communities, and a nation that embrace the hopes and fears of oppressed people of color where we live as well as those around the world. Hear your family, O God, and make us one with you in union with our brothers and sisters, we ask this your Holy Name. Amen”
In my remarks during the Interfaith Service, I spoke of change.
It is the one word we have heard again and again in discussions over the last several days. We must remember that when we pray for change in others, we must also make a change in ourselves. Many changes need to be made in our hearts, communities, society, and yes, even our laws. However, true change cannot occur without strengthening our spiritual convictions, especially those regarding respect for others—for people of different races and ethnicities. The great biblical scholar Raymond Brown once said, “If no change occurs as a result of prayer, then one has not really prayed.”
The entire interfaith service, including the powerful witnesses and prayers of the clergy and religious leaders who honored us with their participation, can be seen in the video posted on the Diocese YouTube channel.
This interfaith service, a small step in the work that needs to be done, showed the possibility of peoples coming together. It showed the power of prayer, and that regardless of your beliefs, prayer is a universal uniting force. As we go forward, my prayer is that the doors opened today in our Diocese, will open even wider, and become avenues of real change.
An Invitation to the Un-Gala
The Foundation to Advance Catholic Education (FACE) provides critical scholarship support to children in need of financial assistance to attend Catholic schools of the Diocese of Fall River. The 23rd annual FACE Summer Un-Gala to support our students will be held virtually on Friday, July 10, 2020. Event Co-Chairs, Pat and Jim Gonet, and the FACE Summer Committee have created what we hope will be an engaging virtual
event for you, our generous donors, recognizing the limitations that the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed.
We hope you can join us on July 10th for a special program with video highlights from our students and educators, inspiring photos, the Al Makkay, Sr. Award recipient, and recognition of our loyal sponsors and donors.
Please consider becoming a sponsor and helping make a difference for hundreds of students and families in need. To support FACE please go to www.FACEsummergala.org.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha