In my first blog for 2022, I’d like to take a look back at a few highlights from 2021.
On September 24, 2021, the 7th anniversary of my installation as Bishop of Fall River, I released a new Pastoral Letter, “Journeying Together: With Jesus on the Path of Faith and Hope.” This letter introduces three areas of focus for the Diocese, as well as mission steps for individuals, parishes, and the Diocese to take over the next four years.
Outlined within the letter, the priorities include:
- Invitational Witness – Come & See
- Sacramental Living – Follow Me
- Vocational Pathways – Go Out & Make Disciples
In my Pastoral Letter, I ask each of us to consider what legacy we wish to leave for our children, grandchildren, and generations to come. If we are to leave a legacy of authentic and lived faith, we must embrace our baptism and courageously bear witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ through the way we live our lives. We can do this, but to be most effective, we must do this together, as a community of believers centered on Christ, especially his presence in the Eucharist.
I invite and encourage you, if you have not yet had the opportunity yet to do so, to read “Journeying Together,” available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, on the Diocese of Fall River website.
Ordination of Four Transitional Deacons
On Saturday, May 22, 2021, I was blessed to ordain four men to the Transitional Diaconate at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fall River. Matthew F. Laird, William O’Donnell III, Gregory Quenneville, and Laurent M. Valliere, now as deacons, are able to assist the priest at Mass and be an ordinary minister of the Eucharist, proclaim the Gospel and preach, baptize, and minister at other services.
As I said in my homily, it was a most joyful day because we had four good men ordained deacons. How wonderful we celebrated this Diaconate Ordination on the eve of the feast of Pentecost. Read more about this special day as well as find a link to the ordination livestream in the May 26th blog.
In celebration of St. John Vianney’s feast day, I shared in my August 21st blog an update on the deacons, as they were wrapping up their summer assignments. Each answered questions as to where each has been stationed, how they are doing, and what they are most looking forward to as they return to St. John’s Seminary in Brighton and their studies. Please continue to hold Deacons Matthew F. Laird, William O’Donnell III, Gregory Quenneville, and Laurent M. Valliere, in your prayers as they return to Seminary for their final semester of study in preparation for, God-willing, June ordinations.
Synod Opening Mass
On Sunday, October 19, 2021, I opened the diocesan phase of the Synod —For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission—in the Fall River Diocese in the context of Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral. A synod indicates the way that the members of the Church—clergy and lay—travel toward communion with Christ, together. A process of listening to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, and to each other, to fully participate in the mission of the Church.
This special votive Mass of the Holy Spirit sought the guidance and inspiration of the Spirit for a fruitful synodal experience and outcome. I will highlight a few points from my homily from Sunday’s Mass below and invite you to watch it in its entirety on the Fall River Diocese YouTube page.
As I stated in my homily that day, I have a dream for our Diocese—to see it rise from the ashes of the coronavirus pandemic as a renewed Church, as people, centered on Jesus and the Eucharist, with the synodal process as its main character. It is time for us to reset, rekindle, reconnect, restrengthen, revitalize, and renew our Church and our parishes. The synodal process is a time for us to walk together as a listening Church, a time for every Catholic across the world to take responsibility for where the Church is going. To learn more, please visit the Fall River Diocese Synod 2021-2023 webpage.
Parish Ambassador Formation
On, November 6, 123 ambassadors from 91% of parishes in the Diocese came together for a Parish Ambassador Formation Day. The day, organized by the Secretariat for the New Evangelization in conjunction with the ad hoc Revitalization Committee, marked the beginning of conversations on how to journey together in the synodal process.
Participants heard two presentations from Tim Glemkowski, who is the founder and president of L’Alto Catholic Institute, a not-for-profit apostolate dedicated to helping parishes form disciples. The first addressed, “Why does the Church exist?” and the second, “How to enact the Mission.” Several members of the Revitalization Committee also presented. The day was designed to bring Parish Ambassadors together to connect and equip for the next step—Preparation for and Implementation of Consultation Sessions.
FACE Dinner with Matt Maher
On Wednesday, November 3, the Foundation to Advance Catholic Education (or FACE) 27th annual Fall Scholarship Dinner returned to White’s of Westport for a remarkable evening to raise much-needed scholarship funds to bring our schools within the financial reach of more students.
We are so grateful to all of the generous benefactors and supporters of Catholic education in our Diocese, and to be able to be together this year. It was wonderful to be able to thank so many of them in person. A video highlighting sponsors and donors along with messages of thanks from a number of our school communities is available on the FACE website.
USCCB General Assembly
In November, I had the privilege of attending the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Fall General Assembly in Baltimore, Maryland. It was good that we could be gathering again as a conference and brother bishops to spend a few days together. This year, we began with a morning of prayer and reflection the day before the official start of the meeting’s business, and this definitely set a prayerful tone for the rest of the week. Additionally, I very much enjoyed the opportunity for Adoration provided during the week and learning about the new Eucharistic and youth projects—both are very exciting, and I’m encouraged to watch them develop and to be a part of them.
The work of the November 2021 USCCB General Assembly was vast, so much so, that I dedicated the majority of my December 1st blog to it. You can read my entire recap here.
This brief review is hardly an exhausted list of all the blessings for our Diocese in 2021, and while we continue to face adversities due to the ongoing pandemic, I am encouraged by what we were able to accomplish in the midst of it and look forward to what we can do together in 2022. Please know of my continued prayers for each of you, your families, and parish communities.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha