Upcoming Priestly Ordination
Deacon Peter R. Scheffer, Jr. will be ordained a priest for the Fall River Diocese on Saturday, June 5, 2021, at 11:00 am in St. Mary’s Cathedral, Fall River. After being ordained a transitional deacon in the midst of the pandemic, how wonderful that he should be able to celebrate this joyous occasion to priesthood surrounded by family, friends, and the fellow clergy. The Mass will be available to watch via livestream on the Diocese of Fall River Facebook page.
This day, just as the Transitional Diaconate Ordination of May 22nd, is an encouraging sign for the Church. Deacon Scheffer will be a tremendous blessing in his service to the Church here in the Diocese after giving of himself for many years in the service of our country. Deacon Scheffer is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and participated in other operational contingency missions aimed at peace keeping and providing humanitarian assistance in different parts of the world. For a time, he also served on the faculty at West Point and in its Admissions Office.
Following his retirement from the military as a lieutenant colonel in 2006, he served as a U.S. Diplomatic Peace Treaty Inspector in the Middle East and then as an assistant professor of Strategic and Operational Studies at the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. To read more about Deacon Scheffer, including his own words regarding his upcoming ordination, click here.
Adult Confirmation Conferral
On Thursday, May 20, twenty-nine adults from nineteen parishes gathered at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption for the conferral of the Sacrament of Confirmation. I was pleased to receive and accept the candidates’ expressed desire to complete their initiation in the Catholic Church with the reception of the Sacrament.
In my homily, I thanked the candidates for their perseverance in seeking to become fully initiated through Confirmation, despite all the challenges they faced in the previous months due to the pandemic. At Pentecost, while the apostles were uncertain and fearful, once they received the Holy Spirit, they were never the same again. The moment the Holy Spirit came upon them, everything changed, and their lives were never the same again, and the world was never the same again. That is why we have the Church. That is why we have the Sacraments. That is why we have everything about our faith. Because the Holy Spirit came.
I challenged the candidates to ponder their baptismal promises and reflect on the examples of the Apostles. Being open to how the Holy Spirit leads one to change or grow in faith. In this way, we too can be witnesses to the ends of the earth, in the same way, that Jesus promised it to the disciples. We are given that Spirit and that power to make a difference in the world. We receive these gifts of the Holy Spirit, but we do not keep them just for ourselves. We need to ask ourselves, as I asked the Candidates that night, what were they going to do with those gifts? What difference are these gifts going to make in their lives? And what difference were they going to make in this world—now that they had been given these gifts—this power, this renewed faith, and this strength and courage from the Holy Spirit?
The Diocesan Office of Faith Formation, which is responsible for the Adult Confirmation program and preparation of many of the candidates, coordinated with the Cathedral and the Bishop’s Office to make this important day a reality amidst the ongoing pandemic. Any Catholic who has not been confirmed, or any individual who would like to receive the sacraments of Baptism or Eucharist, is invited to contact their local parish and inquire about celebrating the sacraments.
Mass to Celebrate Laudato Sí Week
On Tuesday of last week, I celebrated the noon Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral to join the three parishes of the Catholic Community of Central Fall River in marking the conclusion of Laudato Sí Week. Laudato Sí: On the Care of Our Common Home is the 2015 encyclical by Pope Francis in which he calls on the Church and the world to acknowledge the urgency of our environmental challenges and to join him in embarking on a new path. He encourages all believers to understand their relationship to nature and ecology as part of their relationship of faith. Its title, Italian for “Praised be” and taken from the first line of the encyclical, takes its inspiration from the Canticle of the Creatures by St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis has a series of praises in the canticle, including “Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, Who is the day and through whom You give us Light.”
Celebrated around the world, Laudato Sí Week was an opportunity to reflect upon the beauty of God’s gift of our created world, our common home, and to be mindful of the need for continued ecological conversion as called for by the Pope in his encyclical.
After the Mass, I went outside on what was a beautiful spring day to bless the new Laudato Sí Community Garden on the grounds of the Cathedral. The garden was established to bring the beauty of nature into the heart of the city and to raise produce to help those experiencing food insecurity who are served through the collaborative’s Pope Francis Outreach Center. Some of the students from St. Stanislaus School are involved in the care and planting of the garden and were on hand for the Mass and blessing. I was able to do some planting after the blessing in the bishop’s box within the garden.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha