In Part 2 of my recent Pastoral Letter, Presenting the Future, I begin by asking a question, “What Church will we leave behind?” Have you considered how you might respond? Whether you have been worshipping as a Catholic your entire life or only entered the Church at Easter, there are aspects you have no doubt come to cherish and wish to conserve for generations to come.
Due to many factors, our local Church is seeing declines in Mass attendance, participation in faith formation, and celebration of Sacraments. Specifically, in the Fall River Diocese, since 1990, we have 100,000 fewer Catholics, participation in faith formation has dropped 67 %, and Sacraments of Initiation have declined by 65 %. My hope for our Diocese -and I hope a part of your response to my first question- would be the desire not only to stop but reverse this downward trend.
The first step begins within each and every one of us, by accepting Christ into our hearts and committing to a daily conversion, to saying “yes” every morning to walking this journey with Jesus, to believing in His Real Presence in the Eucharist. Our metanoia is a personal conversion that changes our lives; It’s not just how we worship on Sunday but how we live our faith, every single moment of every day. Ongoing personal conversion was an essential aspect of Jesus’ teachings and ministry, and it must also be a necessary aspect of our work as we move into the future.
Once we set our hearts on fire for the Risen Lord, we are better equipped to evangelize by sharing our personal experiences of encounter with Christ. You may never find the words to convince someone to follow Christ, but your story, which no one can debate, may just be what a person needs to hear to water the seed of faith God himself planted in every soul.
In the following weeks, we’ll begin sharing more of how the Diocese will be moving forward with the synodal process, the process of becoming a listening church, and of a journeying together. These are just some of the questions for which we’ll be seeking answers — what aspects of the faith do you cherish, how can we best convey these to others, and how in doing so, does this help leave a beautiful, lasting legacy for generations to come?
The Journeying Together Pastoral Letter is available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. All three translations, along with more resources and information can be accessed on FallRiverDiocese.org.
For More Information please visit: Foundation to Advance Catholic Education (FACE)
27th Annual FACE Gala
The Foundation to Advance Catholic Education (FACE), if this name is new to you, raises money for scholarships to assist with the costs of a Catholic education. FACE uses a system to determine financial need so that every situation can be fairly assessed for a scholarship opportunity. FACE works very closely with every Catholic school in the Diocese of Fall River to help make a Catholic education a reality for as many students as possible. The Diocese is very grateful for FACE and the support it provides to families seeking to provide a Catholic education for their children.
The annual FACE Fall Scholarship Dinner will be held at White’s of Westport, on Wednesday, November 3rd. The Fall Dinner Committee did a magnificent job last year given the circumstances and offered the “Un-Gala” virtually. This year, we are happy to come together once again to celebrate Catholic Education and to raise scholarship funds to help children of our Diocese with tuition assistance. Christian recording artist Matt Maher is able to join us in person this year as well, and we are looking forward to his special live performance. Registration information can be found on the Foundation to Advance Catholic Education (FACE)’s website.
On Sunday morning I had the pleasure of celebrating with parishioners and clergy the 150th anniversary of Immaculate Conception Parish in Easton. I celebrated the 10:15 Mass to begin the festivities, joined by Father Neil Wack of the Congregation of Holy Cross who is serving as the parish administrator; Father Tom Lopes, a now-retired diocesan priest who served the parish as pastor for eight years; and two other Holy Cross priests from nearby Stonehill College. The celebration continued after the Mass with an enjoyable afternoon of food, music, games, and special activities for children. Wally the Green Monster even made a special appearance!
It is believed that the first Mass was celebrated in Easton in 1840 by a visiting priest in a local building. With the town’s Catholic population growing over the next ten years, a small church was built on land donated by the Ames Shovel Company and dedicated in August 1851 by the Bishop of Boston under the title of the Immaculate Conception. Mass was celebrated on certain Sundays by priests from surrounding areas. A bigger church on land purchased on Main Street followed in 1865 as the congregation continued to expand. In 1871, Immaculate Conception Parish was formally established, and a resident priest was assigned to serve there. The parish’s present Gothic-style church was built in 1904 on the same Main Street site.
As I reflected in my homily on the parish’s long and faith-filled history, I also invited parishioners to consider how that faith is being lived today, how it’s being shared with our young people, and what we’re doing to ensure it passes along to future generations.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha