Earlier this month, I had the privilege of attending the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Fall General Assembly in Baltimore, Maryland. It was good that we could gather again as a conference and brother bishops to spend a few days together. New this year, a morning of prayer reflection the day before the official start of the meeting’s business. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz did a remarkable job offering the morning reflection, and this definitely set a prayerful tone for the rest of the week. Additionally, I very much enjoyed the opportunity for Adoration provided during the week and learning about the new Eucharistic and youth projects—both are very exciting, and I’m encouraged to watch them develop and to be a part of them.The General Assembly put forth an incredibly busy agenda, and the Conference of Bishops accomplished a great deal in our short time together. Some of the items addressed and approved include:
Inscription of St. Teresa of Calcutta in the U.S. Proper Calendar. This means Saint Teresa of Calcutta feast day of September 5th is now on the Proper Calendar (also known as the Liturgical Calendar) for the Dioceses of the United States as an optional memorial.
Election of a treasurer-elect for the Conference, as well as chairmen-elect of five Conference committees: Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations; Divine Worship; Domestic Justice and Human Development; Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth; and Migration. The bishops elected will serve for one year as treasurer-elect or chairman-elect before beginning a three-year term at the conclusion of the 2022 Fall General Assembly. There was also the election of board members for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the election of a new USCCB general secretary.
Consultation and approval to advance the causes of beatification and canonization for Servant of God Charlene Marie Richard, Servant of God Auguste Robert Pelafigue, and Servant of God Joseph Dutton. I was particularly taken by the life of Charlene, a young girl from Louisiana, who died in 1959 at the age of twelve from acute lymphatic leukemia. Although her life was short, it was impactful; her biography sums it up beautifully, “Though the illness was painful, she remained cheerful, meekly accepted her fate, and offered up her suffering to God.”
The document The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church was developed by the Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The bishops approved it during the General Meeting and authorized it for publication. The document can be found on the USCCB website here. There is also a free two-hour online course, presented by Bishop Andrew Cozzens, on the Eucharistic Revival Project and new document.
A major highlight of our time together came in discussions of the Eucharistic Revival initiative and approval of a national Eucharistic Congress in July 2024, in Indianapolis, Indiana. The congress is part of a three-year revival initiative planned by the Conference of Bishops, with excitement on igniting and renewing devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
Over the last 18 months, Journeying Together has virtually brought together thousands of young adults and ministry leaders, accompanied by dozens of Catholic bishops. These virtual meetings have been a time of learning to listen to one another, place themselves in each other’s situations, dialogue in large and small group settings, and contemplate matters of faith and life from intra-cultural and intercultural perspectives. A cumulation of these virtual meetings has been a national in-person event June 23-26, 2022, called Journeying Together Encounter in Chicago. I am pleased to offer my prayers for the upcoming gathering and am encouraged by the potential outcomes of this initiative. You can learn more from Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez’s full presentation to the USCCB General Assembly HERE.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, provided an update on Walking with Moms in Need. The project, run by the USCCB, encourages Catholics to support and “walk in the shoes” of local pregnant and parenting women in difficult situations. The initiative is opening eyes, making a real difference, and providing resources to empower parishes to utilize their gifts to help mothers in need.
70 To Receive Marian Medal on Sunday
The Marian Medals ceremony will take place in our Cathedral at 3 p.m. on Sunday, December 5, when 70 laypersons from throughout the Diocese will be awarded the medal.
First presented in 1968, the annual award recognizes members of diocesan parishes for their dedicated service to the Church. Recipients are nominated for the award by their pastor. To learn more, and to read the list of awardees, please visit the Diocese website.
The medals will be blessed and presented in the context of Evening Prayer of the Church and Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The Marian Medal ceremony will be livestreamed on the Diocese of Fall River Facebook page, available at this link. Please join me in congratulating and expressing our gratitude to all the recipients of the Marian Medals this year.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha