All Souls’ Day
On the Feast of All Souls, the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, we pray for the souls of those who have died and are still in purgatory, being prepared for eternal life in heaven. We believe that we remain connected with members of the Church after death and that we can help those souls in purgatory through our prayers. Praying for the dead is one of the spiritual works of mercy. While the dead were prayed for since the earliest days of Christianity, it was done at different times. St. Odilo of the Abbey of Cluny is thought to have fixed this date in the 10th century so that monks in the abbey could offer special prayers for the dead on the day after All Saints Day, November 1st.
I invite you to join me today, if you are able, at a special Mass for deceased bishops, priests, and deacons of our Diocese. It will be at 12 noon at St. Mary’s Cathedral.
Convocations are intended as ongoing formation for priests and as a time for the presbyterate to come together. In our Diocese, we try to hold one every couple of years; however, due to the pandemic, the last one occurred in 2018. Last week, I was to gather with all the priests of our diocese for our Convocation. I felt a positive, uplifting spirit among all those in attendance. Many of us were hungry for an opportunity for fellowship, socializing, prayer, and reflection with our brother priests. There was a real sense of joy; one could feel the joy of everyone for being there and showing the fraternal support to each other.
We spent time not only learning with excellent presentations from Msgr. Michael Heintz, Seminary Academic Dean, at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, in Baltimore, Maryland. We enjoyed times of discussion, sharing, and contemplation around the theme of the “Priesthood and the Eucharist.” The right speaker, the right topic, and the perfect timing for such a gathering led to a very successful and beautiful convocation in our Diocese.
One of my takeaways came in recognizing that the issues we face within our ministries and parishes are not unique to our Diocese and us. These challenges are met by other dioceses and priests across the country and, I suspect, across the globe. In facing this aspect of the realities of our Church, I realized we are not alone, which gives me a great sense of hope. I feel confident we can address all that the Lord allows in our lives, parishes, and Church as a whole and continue to move forward.
Diocesan Vocations Board
In the past year, I created a Vocations Board for our Diocese. My vision is to create an opportunity for us to support vocations in every parish. The board consists of representatives of various segments of people within the Diocese, including priests, deacons, lay persons, and religious. The entire Body of Christ shares in the responsibility of promoting, fostering, and supporting vocations; it is not solely the work of the Vocations Directors or Vocations Office.
I envision this board as a foundation from which we can then inspire, motivate, and support families and parishes to embrace and support a culture of vocations in our Diocese. The mission is for all the faithful; everyone can offer prayers for an increase in vocations here in the Fall River Diocese. It is time for us to come together in hopes of awakening in our young people a desire to seek God’s call in their lives.
For our part, there are several steps we can implement to participate in bringing about an increase in all Catholic vocations. Through your prayers, particularly in Adoration—offering holy hours for vocations either as a parish or individually. Secondly, we can encourage parents to talk to their children about vocations to the priesthood or religious life. Every vocation begins in the home and can be fostered by simply allowing our children the space and support to pursue wherever they feel God is calling them.
Lastly, we can work within our parishes to engage all the faithful in fostering vocations in our Diocese. Through reflection, ministry, and Liturgies, we can create a culture that promotes and supports vocation discernment. In every parish, I’d like to see a “vocation promoter,” somebody specifically able to be a liaison for the vocations board, a point person that can disseminate materials, prayers, and any information received from the vocation board’s work.
National Vocation Awareness Week
Sunday, November 6th, begins National Vocation Awareness Week (NVAW). This annual week-long celebration of the Catholic Church in the United States, November 6-12, 2022, is dedicated to promoting vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated life through prayer and education and to renew our prayers and support for those who are considering one of these particular vocations.
National Vocations Awareness Week began in 1976 when the U. S. bishops designated the 28th Sunday of the year for NVAW. Beginning in 2014, NVAW was moved to the first full week of November. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) provides many helpful resources for your parish, school, or family to celebrate and pray for vocations, not only during this week but throughout the year. Please visit the USCCB website to learn more.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha