National Day of Prayer
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue is extending an invitation to “believers of all religions and people of good will” to observe a day of prayer, fasting, and works of charity on Thursday, May 14. This Day of Prayer for Humanity was conceived by the international Higher Committee of Human Fraternity. In a letter, the committee writes that along with the role of medicine and science in fighting this pandemic,
“We should not forget to seek refuge in God, as we face this severe crisis.
“Therefore, we call upon all peoples around the world to pray according to each one’s, respective religious convictions, to observe fast and to do good deeds to end this pandemic. May each of us, wherever we are, and according to the teachings of our own respective faith traditions and philosophies, seek divine help to rescue ourselves and the entire world from this adversity, to inspire scientists to find a cure for the virus and to save the whole world from the health, economic, and human repercussions of this serious pandemic.”
The committee calls for all religious leaders and peoples around the world to respond to this call together: “to beseech God, the Almighty to safeguard the entire world, to help humanity overcome this pandemic, to restore security, stability, health, and prosperity.”
I invite you to join in this Day of Prayer in whatever way you feel most called. Prayer, fasting, and good works remind us not only of our Catholic Lenten practices but devotions that can be enacted at any time to bring us closer to Christ and each other.
Reflection on Five-Years: Priestly Vocations
An obvious part of care for our priests is praying to the Harvest Master to send more laborers for His harvest (Mt 9:38). Promoting priestly vocations is also an essential part of the revitalization of a Diocese and an investment for the future.
For me, promoting vocations has always been central to my religious and priestly identity. I am a priest of the Society of Divine Vocations. Our Founder, Blessed Giustino Russolillo (d. 1955), had a special calling to foster and promote vocations to the priesthood, religious life, and holiness among all God’s people. He founded our order to help in that crucial work.
One of the highlights of my year is the time I spend each summer at the Quo Vadis Days camp. A retreat where young men open to priestly vocations come for a week of prayer, discussion, sports, and fun with our seminarians and the priests of our Diocesan Vocations Office. I celebrate Mass, reflect about my own vocation, sit and share a meal with them, and challenge them on the soccer field. Many of our seminarians have had their vocations awakened and strengthened by this camp.
The Diocese of Fall River is blessed with many who have responded to the vocational call to the Permanent Diaconate. I had the joy last year to ordain a new class of permanent deacons who are already making a difference in parishes throughout the Diocese. Permanent deacons are so important to the Mission of the Church. With fewer priests, the need for deacons is now greater than ever.
In the coming days, beyond our days of quarantine, the Diocese will engage in meaningful dialogue, as well as the continued creation of resources and opportunity to foster vocations.
Looking Forward to Restoring our Public Celebrations
Like many of you, I continue to follow closely the daily reports on COVID-19, percentages of positive test results, hospitalizations, and, sadly, those lost to the virus. I pray that God grants them peaceful repose.
Lately, we are starting to see some positive signs among these indicators. To be sure, we all look forward to and pray for the return of parish celebrations of public Masses. Please, God, with a continued downward trend in the virus statistics, that day will soon be here. Our plans for that day will take shape as medical and civil authorities announce the directives that will guide the re-opening, including what limitations will remain on public gatherings for the safety of all of us.
It goes without saying that when we return, it will not be parish life as usual, especially in the early weeks. Some restrictions and precautionary measures will be necessary. Since there is still no cure for this virus, it is up to all of us to take steps to care for one another.
Thank You to Catholic Nursing Home Staff
As we enter yet another week in our fight against the coronavirus, I wish to send a special message to the Diocesan Health Facilities office, as well as the administrators, directors, doctors, nurses, clinicians, therapists, and all the support staff of our Catholic nursing homes. I want you to know that I pray for you every single day.
These are very challenging, difficult times for all of us, but especially for the elderly population who are the most at risk and the most vulnerable of our people as well as for all those who are in the health care profession, because you are putting yourselves in a vulnerable situation by helping those who are in need and those who are sick.
Please know that those whom you care for, their families, the community, and I are all grateful for all that you do. May God continue to guide, support, and strengthen us all through these challenging times. This storm will pass, rest assured someday (hopefully soon) we will be restored to normalcy. In the meantime, please, stay safe, and I ask God’s blessings upon all of you.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha