Today is the feast day for the Patron Saint of Parish Priests, Jean-Baptiste-Marie (John) Vianney. At the age of 17, John Vianney felt the call to the priesthood. “If I am to be a priest,” he said, “I will win many souls for God.” St. John Vianney, also known as the “Curé d’Ars, began his studies in 1812 at a minor seminary opened in a nearby village by the local priest, Abbé Balley; he was ordained a deacon in June 1815 and was ordained a priest on 13 February 1815, at the age of 29.
In 1818, Father John Vianney was sent to the town of Ars, which, with just 230 residents, was little more than a small French village. There he became renowned for his dedication to the Sacrament of Confession. Making himself available to hear Confessions and offer forgiveness, he would spend up to sixteen hours a day in the confessional. Penitents traveled from every part of France to make their Confession to the holy priest and Ars became known as “the great hospital of souls.”
John Vianney died on August 4, 1859, at 73 years old. His relics can be found in Ars, in the sanctuary dedicated to him, which is visited by some 450,000 pilgrims every year. He was beatified by Pope St Pius X in 1905 and canonized by Pope Pius XI. In 1929, Pope Pius XI proclaimed St. John Vianney the “heavenly patron of all parish priests throughout the world.”
Seminarian Transitional Deacons
On Saturday, May 22, in St. Mary’s Cathedral, Fall River, I ordained Matthew F. Laird, William O’Donnell III, Gregory Quenneville, and Laurent M. Valliere as transitional deacons on their way, God willing, to the priesthood in spring 2022. Each has spent this summer assigned to help out in one (or more) parishes in the Diocese. In celebration of St. John Vianney’s feast day, I wanted to share an update on them: where each has been stationed, how they are doing, and what they are most looking forward to as they return to St. John’s Seminary in Brighton and their studies.
Deacon Matthew Laird
I am stationed at Saint John the Baptist and Our Lady of Grace Parishes in Westport.
My favorite part of the assignment thus far is getting to know the wonderful people at the parishes. They have been extremely welcoming to me.
I look forward to presiding over more baptisms. The first few have been an absolute joy!
Deacon Laurent Valliere
I am stationed at St. Francis Xavier in Acushnet, and I will be at Holy Name in Fall River during the academic year.
My favorite part of my summer assignment is finally being able to do all the things that deacons are able to do. I look forward to the practicum classes that will prepare me to know the rites so that I may decrease and our Blessed Lord may increase as I celebrate the sacraments.
Deacon Gregory Quenneville
I am presently stationed at St. Mary’s in South Dartmouth.
There are many components to serving as a deacon that I have enjoyed so far. The experience of baptizing children particularly stands out. I have greatly enjoyed the process of preparing parents in helping them to understand the importance of what God accomplishes through this sacrament. I have also enjoyed guiding parents in their understanding of the promises they make to raise their child in the faith through God’s gift of Baptism. I enjoy seeing parents give their children the gift of coming into the Church.
I look forward to learning how to celebrate Holy Mass. The Mass is the true source of life for the Church. It is the most intimate part of a priest’s life and his relationship to God. It is the ultimate source of goodness for the world and is the means by which people can fulfill their most fundamental duty as human beings: to worship God. This is only possible through the ministry of the priesthood. I cannot imagine doing anything better.
Deacon William O’Donnell
I have spent the summer at Holy Family Parish in East Taunton and will remain stationed here throughout the academic year.
I have enjoyed proclaiming the Gospel, getting to know and work with the people of the parish especially in my Tuesday night Bible Studies. Additionally, it has been so incredible to raise the chalice at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, I can’t put into words what it feels like to hold that chalice up knowing the blood of Christ is in there.
Looking ahead, I hope to continue to perform my ministry as deacon so I can be the best deacon I can be and have that as a foundation for my priestly ministry.
Please join me in keeping all our seminarians in prayer as they return this fall to continue their priestly studies. For more information about discerning a vocation to the priesthood, I invite you to the Fall River Diocese Office of Vocations website.
Update to Mask-Wearing Guidance
As most of you know, on Tuesday, July 27, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a change to its mask-wearing guidance and now advises that fully vaccinated persons wear a mask in indoor public places in areas of the country with “substantial and high” transmission of Covid-19. This is to reduce the risk of being infected with the more transmissible Delta variant of the virus and possibly spreading it to others.
Currently, the whole territory of the Fall River Diocese lies in counties classified as either “substantial” or “high” areas of community transmission. In light of this, the Diocese of Fall River is strongly encouraging all parishioners to follow the CDC guidance and to wear a mask while attending Mass or any other liturgical celebration unless unable because of a medical condition or under the age of 2. This is particularly important for anyone with a weakened immune system; anyone at risk for severe disease because of age or underlying medical condition; or anyone in a household with someone having these conditions or with someone who is unvaccinated.
The recent uptick in virus transmission in some places is a reminder that the pandemic has not yet passed, and continued vigilance is required. Parishioners are asked to please keep in mind the need for a collective commitment to the overall good of the parish community.
The Diocese of Fall River continues to monitor all Covid-19 advisories and orders by both the CDC and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and will amend diocesan guidelines and directives on an ongoing basis as needed.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha