In today’s blog, we will address Activity #9 of my pastoral letter Reflection on Five Years — Continuing the Mission — Supporting Parents and Families. The Church is a family of families and, therefore, strengthening a Diocese must involve strengthening the families within that Diocese. The family is not just the building block of society but also of the Church.
I am the fourth in a family of 13 kids, eight boys and five girls. I still remember vividly praying together as a family. My mother had a little shrine of images of saints where we would pray the Rosary and other prayers. I learned at that little shrine in our home how important God is in our daily life. When things were difficult for us, my parents used to say, “It is in God’s hands. God will take care of it.”
We learned to trust in God, Who never let us down. We learned to speak to Him and say, “Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:7-11). We learned to love Him and to make time for him. My parents weren’t Theologians, but they were great teachers of their children in the most important subject of all. My vocation as a Christian, as a future priest and now as a bishop, was certainly nourished there.
As a young religious Brother, in the Congregation “Society of Divine Vocations” (Vocation Fathers), in Newark, New Jersey, I taught catechism. I could readily tell the children who came from stable situations at home versus those who didn’t. It showed me how important families are not only for people to grow in faith, but also, to have solid foundations for almost everything in life. So much of the Church’s educational mission is to complement the work of parents as the first and best of teachers for their families in the ways of faith. We have to do everything we can to support them.
As a Diocese, we do so much well in support of families — particularly in the area of marriage preparation. However, we also recognize the many challenges facing families today, and plans, as we move forward, will be to find compassionate, supportive, and comprehensive opportunities to strengthen families.
A Virtual FACE Gala
This year’s Foundations to Advance Catholic Education (FACE) Gala had a completely different look. Due to COVID-19, the committee put a virtual plan into place, so this Summer tradition could still take place, even if it looked nothing like years before.
The 23rd Annual FACE SUMMER “UN-GALA” took place on Friday, July 10th, 2020, hosted by event Co-Chairs, Jim and Pat Gonet, and myself. The short program included a brief message Chair of FACE Board, Caudine Cloutier, a message from me, a wonderful FACE Highlight Video, and raffle winners. FACE presented the Al Makkay Sr. Award for Meritorious Service to Mr. Sandro Correa—the Facilities Manager at St. Pius X School in South Yarmouth. Finally, the highest bid for dinner with me was Dr. Ed and Marti Palank. We thank them for their generosity and look forward to enjoying that meal hopefully soon.
Let me again extend my gratitude to all those who worked so hard to make this event happen, to all those who attended “live,” and for all those who have made generous donations.
The event can be viewed in the video below. If you would like to make a donation or learn more about the FACE “Un-Gala,” please visit https://www.face-dfr.org/summer-gala-2020.
Decision for Opening Our Catholic Schools
As many of you may already know, the Diocese of Fall River Catholic Schools Office announced all Catholic schools serving Pre-K through Grade 8 students will fully re-open this fall with in-classroom instruction five days per week. The four Catholic high schools in the diocese will announce their plans for re-opening on an individual basis.
As the press release explained, “While the safety and health of students, faculty, and families are paramount, research has shown that in-person instruction offers the optimal learning environment. Moreover, each school has submitted a plan to the Central School Office that follows the guidelines set forth by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Each school is able to follow the three to six feet of social distancing requirement and still provide 100% in classroom instruction. For students or families with compromised health conditions, every school will also offer live streaming capabilities to ensure students choosing to learn remotely are still part of the school community. Positive parent feedback of the Catholic school remote learning experience started immediately and continued through the end of the 2019-20 academic year.”
Stephen A. Perla, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Fall River Diocese, his assistants in the Catholic Schools Office and all the schools’ administrators, diligently created a plan for re-opening K – 8 grades that follow all of the guidelines for safety. I am grateful for their hard work and dedication and delighted for the children to be able to return to in-person learning in the fall.
For more information about our Catholic schools, please go to www.catholicschoolsalliance.org.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha