My 2022 Visit to Brazil
Last year my visit home to Brazil included work for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee for the Church in Latin America. I shared highlights from my meetings; it was such a joy to pray with them, spend time with them, and hear both the challenges they confront and the hopes they share.
Diocesan Anniversary Celebration
In early 2022, a Mass of Thanksgiving, a beautiful tradition honoring the Sacrament of Matrimony and a special way to recognize, celebrate, and bless married couples in our diocese. The Diocese cares and wishes to help support couples in their marriage. To that end, the Secretariat for the New Evangelization offers various resources on its website to help enrich your marriage. An annual event that I hope you will consider attending in 2023.
Consecration Of Russia and Ukraine to Mary
On Friday, March 25, 2022, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, I joined Pope Francis and all of the world’s bishops in consecrating Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
On that same day, we continued our longstanding tradition of celebrating a Pro-Life Mass, at which I presented the John Cardinal O’Connor Awards and announced the Pro-Life Student Essay Contest winners, sponsored through the Diocesan Family and Respect Life Office. At the conclusion of the Mass, I prayed the Act of Consecration in communion with Pope Francis.
Diocesan Pre-Synodal Gathering
Parishioners from approximately 31 parishes attended the Diocesan Pre-Synodal Gathering, which brought the worldwide Synod process in the Diocese of Fall River to a close. The day began with Mass, followed by a morning program at Bishop Stang High School.
I am encouraged to see so many embraced the Synod process throughout the diocese. In fact, some parishioners have told me this period of consultation and listening has inspired them with hope for our future and continue to see great fruit across the diocese as a result.
Canonization of Saint Justin Maria Russolillo
On Sunday, May 15th, I was blessed to attend the Canonization Mass and celebration in Rome for the founder of the Society of Divine Vocations, the religious congregation to which I belong. St. Justin, referred to as the Apostle of Vocations, was the third of 10 children born to Luigi Russolillo and Giuseppina Russolillo, a poor, hardworking couple in Pianura, Italy, a suburb of Naples. Fr. Roger Landry wrote an excellent and informative article about St. Justin in the Anchor newspaper; I invite you to read more about this extraordinary new saint.
Priestly and Transitional Diaconate Ordinations
In May, I ordained four seminarians to the transitional diaconate—Christopher D. Hughes, Thiago Menezes Santos, John Garabedian, and Brian P. Connors. As deacons, they will be 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. Their ordination to the diaconate will begin their final year of preparation for the priesthood. Read more about this special day, here.
On June 4, the Diocese of Fall River welcomed four new priests—Matthew F. Laird of Sandwich; William O’Donnell III of Harwich; Gregory Quenneville of Attleboro; and Laurent M. Valliere of Fall River. We rejoiced as we were able to come together and celebrate, with a nearly full Cathedral, this blessed day in our Diocese. We welcome these faithful men as Priests of the Fall River Diocese; please continue to hold them in your prayers as they begin this next chapter of their vocation.
National Eucharistic Revival Launch
A special Mass, Eucharistic procession, and Adoration hour were held on June 18 to launch the three-year National Eucharistic Revival here in the Diocese of Fall River. Find more information and additional pictures here.
Synod Report Recap
The Diocesan Synod Report revealed most parishes are doing well journeying together with Mass, through existing ministries, and some outreach efforts. However, among identified challenges for our Diocese is communication, which surfaced as a primary challenge across the parish, diocese, and global Church. Another critical area is engaging youth and young adults. I am proud of the steps we’ve taken, but it will take all of us working to address these challenges in order for the fruit to be borne.
Per my request, the Parish Ambassadors meet regularly, continuing the synodal process of listening and journeying together. I am so grateful for the commitment and hard work the ambassadors have given to not only the Synod process but also their ongoing support for the Church, especially here in our Diocese.
A Fatima Honor
August 12th, I presided over the International Pilgrimage at the Sanctuary of Fatima in Portugal, also known as the “Emigrants and Refugees” Pilgrimage. This international pilgrimage gathers pilgrims from across the globe to bring much-needed awareness to the plight and suffering of our world’s many migrants and refugees. On August 13, I celebrated Mass outside the Shrine Basilica. Tens of thousands of pilgrims participated in both events; I estimated around 50,000 people were in attendance for the Mass, with so many more watching as it was broadcast live across Portugal and via livestream on YouTube and Facebook. I was humbled by the great honor.
Parish Leader Convocation
The Diocese held a Parish Leader Convocation in September with guest speaker Deacon Bob Rice. Deacon Rice reminded us of the need to rely on Christ for everything we desire to do, particularly in bringing the Good News to those we minister to in our Diocese. Most importantly, to do so with joy and peace this world cannot give, modeling the faith and the hope we have in Jesus by our lives. I shared my remarks offered during the Convocation in my blog that week.
A Universal Summons to Sanctity
On October 5, I presented to the National Association of Hispanic Priests members at their National Convention in Newton, Mass. I was glad to accept their invitation and to spend some time with the Hispanic priests attending the Convention. It was a day of multiple (and significant) celebrations in the Church; my October 12th blog detailed my thoughts about each.
The Connection Between Sports and Faith
One amazing aspect of sports, especially during international tournaments, is how it can (and does) unite a nation. Whatever divisions — ideological, political, racial, economic — plaguing a country seem to dissolve, at least for the month the World Cup is underway. The world is divided even within country borders, yet we see the World Cup bringing harmony, unity, and peace as fellow citizens rally around their teams. In addition to the overall theme of unity, there are some other connections between involvement in sports and active participation in the Catholic faith touched upon in this special blog.
Since its launch in 2019, the Building Faith blog has provided many valuable opportunities to share not only what happens throughout our diocese each week but also my work (and many blessings) as Bishop. Thank you for taking the time to read it; I welcome your thoughts and comments at any time as well. If you are new to the blog, I encourage you to subscribe as well as consider sharing it with others.
Continued prayers for the Lord’s blessing on our diocese in 2023.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha