Bishop da Cunha Building Faith Blog Fall River Diocese

Women and Men’s Conference Recap

Diocesan Conference Fall River Crowd View
Bishop da Cunha Diocesan Conference Homily Mass

Being at the Conference Saturday with so many men and women from our Diocese renewed a great sense of hope in me. We had been praying for this day, not only for the event to come together, as it did so beautifully, but also that participants would be nourished by a true encounter with Jesus. My personal prayer, as I expressed in my opening remarks, is that all in attendance would experience strengthening and renewal of faith, which would be brought back to their parishes and homes as fuel for their work of building God’s kingdom here on earth.
The Conference offered opportunities for us to encounter Jesus in His Word, in prayer, and most importantly, through the Eucharist. Jesus is the ever-present, ever-powerful light amid darkness.

An effective encounter, especially with Jesus, causes us to change. If we experience Christ and remain the same, then we have missed the grace, the blessing, and the new life He has come to give each of us. Consider the Magi, the three kings; after encountering Jesus, they returned home through another route—they did not go back the same way.  To me, this symbolizes the new direction we are called to follow after a real encounter with the Lord— we should never be the same again.
So many examples can be seen in the Scriptures—Zacheus, called down from the tree he’d climbed to catch a glimpse of Jesus. During the Transfiguration, the Apostle witnessed the glorified Lord, His divinity revealed by the Father. St. Peter, caught up in the moment, exclaims how good it is to be here, wanting to build tents for Jesus, Elijah, and Moses. Interestingly, Peter forgets himself;  we, too, in finding Jesus, should desire to care for and serve others above our own needs.
On Saturday, during the presentations, time spent in Adoration, the fruitful discussions, and of course, the celebration of the Mass, we all discovered so many blessings Jesus offers. For one day, as best as we could, we put aside our concerns, troubles, and the busyness of our daily lives to allow ourselves to rest in the Lord and open ourselves to the many lessons and graces this Lenten conference had to offer.

The Closing of Bishop Connolly

In the course of a bishop’s ministry in a diocese, there are many joyful tasks but also a good number of very difficult ones. Certainly, among the latter group was the decision to close Bishop Connolly High School in Fall River at the end of this school year, which was announced last week. It was a decision I made with a heavy heart after much reflection and prayer, and consultation with many people involved, including our diocesan school board.
 I understand the sadness and disappointment this decision brings, first and foremost, to Bishop Connolly students and their families and to the school’s administration, faculty, and staff. And I know that the feeling of loss is felt acutely as well by alumni, longtime school supporters, and many in the Fall River community at large.
Despite the best efforts of the Diocese to expand enrollment and recruitment outreach, to increase financial aid opportunities, and to ensure continued educational excellence, Bishop Connolly High School has had a significant decline in enrollment. As a result, the Diocese has spent over $1 million to sustain the school over the past five years. It is not possible for the Diocese to continue to keep the school operational given the limits of diocesan financial resources, particularly following the adverse impact of the pandemic and current economic uncertainties.
I am grateful to the school’s administrators for their work with students and families to help plan for the transition to another school. All financial arrangements previously in place for Bishop Connolly High School will be honored by both Bishop Feehan and Bishop Stang High Schools and free transportation will be available for those students wishing to attend Bishop Stang in Dartmouth.

Saint Patrick’s Day

This year, the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, falls on a Friday during Lent. In consideration of the traditions of this feast and in response to a number of requests, I am granting a dispensation from the Lenten rule of abstaining from meat in our Diocese. However, I do encourage those who choose to make use of this dispensation to carry out some other sacrificial act or work of charity in keeping with the sacrificial spirit of the Lenten season.

Solemnity of Saint Joseph

Since March 19 is the Fourth Sunday of Lent this year, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary is transferred to Monday, March 20. Saint Joseph was named patron of the Universal Church over 150 years ago by Pope Pius IX. The needs of the Catholic Church are entrusted to the patronage, care, and protection of Joseph, spouse of Mary and foster father of Jesus. In the Prayer to Saint Joseph, Protector of the Church, we recite that Saint Joseph has been charged with the protection of the Universal Church. 
St. Joseph put everyone before himself, even in the expression, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” his name comes at the end. There is not a single word from St. Joseph recorded in the Gospels. Yet, we can deduce from his unselfish surrender to be the protector of Mary and Jesus; that he allowed the peace of Christ to control his heart, and he was thankful in word or deed, doing everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. May we remember his example of humility and service to the Lord on Monday.

Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha

The Most Reverend Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., D.D.
The Most Reverend Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., D.D.
The Bishop of Fall River