Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It has been one year since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. We have seen the tremendous loss of life, property, and the unimaginable suffering inflicted upon so many innocent people in that country. More recently, we also witnessed the tragedy of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. There, too, we have seen an incredible loss of life and the unthinkable suffering of millions of people who were wounded, who lost loved ones, possessions, and a way of life that will never be the same.
Sometimes we take for granted the peace and prosperity that we enjoy and the blessings of being healthy and living in freedom. Lent reminds us that all things, as St. Teresa of Avila said, “All things are passing away:[but gratefully] God never changes.” It is a season to recall we are subject to pain and suffering, to loss and a cross at any time. Lent is a time for us to reflect and recognize how important our faith is in our lives and how important family is to each one of us; it is a time to embrace our faith and our family with generosity, faithfulness, and gratitude.
Lent is also a time to reflect and recognize all that Jesus did for us by dying on the cross and shedding His blood for our salvation. We are called to deeper reflection on the Paschal Mystery – Jesus’ suffering, death, and Resurrection.
In his Lenten message this year, Pope Francis writes: “Lent leads to Easter: the ‘retreat’ is not an end in itself, but a means of preparing us to experience the Lord’s passion and cross with faith, hope, and love, and thus to arrive at the resurrection.”
How best to prepare for the glorious feast of Easter? By examining our actions, our attitudes, and our relationship with God with renewed scrutiny and by committing ourselves to repentance and conversion of heart. Now is the time; this is the opportunity of Lent. As a start, we can put into practice the Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These offer wonderful means to support our resolve to deepen our faith and to help those around us in need.
It is my prayer that we all open our hearts to the Lenten journey ahead; that it be blessed and transformative. May we ever cherish our faith and be sustained by it, and may we never forget the suffering and crosses borne by our sisters and brothers across the human family.
Special Collection for Earthquake Relief
As an expression of solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters in Turkey and Syria, I am asking parishes in the Diocese of Fall River to consider having a special collection during Masses on the weekends of February 25-26 and March 4-5. All proceeds of these parish collections will go towards assisting those impacted by the earthquake that ravaged those countries.
The latest estimates indicate that to date, over 40,000 people have been killed by the magnitude 7.8 earthquake, tens of thousands injured, and millions left homeless and struggling to survive, especially in war-torn Syria, where international aid has been slow to arrive due to sanctions and the ongoing conflict in the country.
Pope Francis issued an appeal for help as the death toll soars: “With emotion, I pray for them, and express my closeness to these peoples, the families of the victims, and to all those who are suffering from this devastating calamity.”
Our Diocese has a long track record of stepping up in response to natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis to help people all over the world recover and rebuild. Now, I am inviting our parishes to join together in offering support and prayers for all affected by this recent disaster in Turkey and Syria.
I am grateful for any support you may be able to offer through the collection in your parish.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha