World Day of Prayer for Vocations
April 30th, the 4th Sunday of Easter, known as Good Shepherd Sunday, is also the 60th Anniversary of World Day of Prayer for Vocations. As the USCCB recently shared,
The purpose of World Day of Prayer for Vocations is to publicly fulfill the Lord’s instruction to, “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest” (Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2). As a climax to a prayer that is continually offered throughout the Church, it affirms the primacy of faith and grace in all that concerns vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life. While appreciating all vocations, the Church concentrates its attention this day on vocations to the ordained ministries (priesthood and diaconate), consecrated life in all its forms (male and female religious life, societies of apostolic life, consecrated virginity), secular institutes in their diversity of services and membership, and to the missionary life.”
As you are aware, fostering vocations in our diocese is an important role of all the faithful; without priests, there is no Eucharist—the source and summit of our Catholic faith. Parishes can encourage participation in this important work by coming together regularly as a parish to pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, and religious life. Holy hours for vocations, including vocations in the Prayers of the Faithful, and providing prayers and resources for families to encourage vocations, are just a few of the ways we can work together to build a stronger Church.
Prayer Service for Healing
We gathered in solidarity yesterday, April 25th, for a Prayer Service for Healing at Holy Name Church in Fall River. The service included a video reflection from a survivor of clergy sexual abuse in this Diocese. It was a powerful and moving testimony, and I am grateful for his courage and willingness to share his story. It serves as a stark reminder of the need for all of us to continue to pray for all who have been victims of abuse and for an end to this scourge that has plagued our Church and society for far too long. You can watch a video of the Prayer Service here. While we acknowledge no single statement or event can make up for the painful abuse of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters, we pray our coming together to lift our brothers and sisters brings comfort, peace, and renewed hope in their lives and in the Church.
Let us continue to pray for healing. May all the children of God be always safe and protected. May we be leaders and ever vigilant in ensuring the protection of the most vulnerable and of our youth.
I want to thank the staff of the Office of Safe Environment for the tremendous work they do, not only for yesterday’s moving day of prayer but for all they do each and every day to keep children safe. Let us pray for their continued strength, dedication, and wisdom to work for an end to all forms of abuse. Finally, let us offer a prayer for peace in our Church, parishes, homes, institutions, and in ourselves as well.
The Prayer Service was organized by our Office of Safe Environment, which is led by Carolyn Shipp. You can learn about Carolyn’s work in a new video posted last week on our YouTube channel. She talks about her critical responsibilities in the areas of prevention and support as the Director of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance for the Diocese of Fall River. Her work is at the center of our multifaceted efforts to establish and maintain a culture of protection here in the Diocese. You can watch the video here.
Annunciation of the Lord 150th Anniversary
I was very pleased to be able to join parishioners of Annunciation of the Lord Parish in Taunton for a 150th anniversary celebration last Saturday. The roots of the parish go back to the founding of Sacred Heart Parish in the city’s Weir neighborhood in 1873. Some years later, in 1905, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish was established about a block away for Portuguese-speaking Catholics living in that area of Taunton. With changing demographics and fewer available priests, in 2001, the two parishes joined to become the Annunciation of the Lord Parish. Concelebrating the Mass with me were six priests with various ties to the current parish or its preceding ones.
I congratulate the parish administrator, Father David Deston, and all Annunciation of the Lord parishioners, and extend my prayers and best wishes as they continue their journey of faith, building on the strong historical foundation that is theirs. 2023 is also a significant year for the Our Lady of Lourdes School, which is part of the parish. This year, it celebrates its 60th anniversary!
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha