Bishop da Cunha Building Faith Blog Fall River Diocese

2023 Lumen Christi Gala

Fall River Diocese Event to Preserve Cathedral

On Wednesday, June 7, the Diocese held its second annual Lumen Christi Gala to raise awareness and the necessary funds to restore and preserve our Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption. The Cathedral has served as the center of our Diocese since 1904 at the very formation of the Diocese of Fall River. The current building has come together through various projects and additions over the years, with the original structure erected between 1852 and 1856. With older buildings comes natural wear and tear, requiring repairs and replacements, which have become increasingly expensive in our current economic times.

It was wonderful to see so many people from across the Diocese coming together with such positive support for the restoration and preservation of our Mother church. Their presence and generosity made the collective statement: this is my church; we feel this is indeed our Diocesan home, and we wish to see the continuation of the celebration of sacraments and special liturgies there for years to come. As I spoke to different people in attendance, it was clear how much each valued and understood the great importance of raising the necessary money to make the repairs to St Mary’s Cathedral.

Choir singing at Diocese Fall River Event
St. Mary’s Cathedral Choir, led by Madeleine Grace

Additionally, it was such an encouragement to see many clergy in attendance also showing their commitment to the ongoing care of our Diocese’s spiritual center. I want to offer a special thank you to the Gala Committee, particularly the Committee chairs, Nicholas Christ and Maryellen Sullivan Hughes. 

Bishop da Cunha Lumen Christi Gala Award

During the evening, with the Bishop’s Luminary Award, we posthumously honored Jack and Susan Dawley for their legacy of faith, service, and philanthropy. Their son, John Dawley, traveled here from Pennsylvania to accept the award for his parents. John mentioned how his parents’ commitment to supporting the church and helping others was their beautiful legacy of faith that he and his siblings are dedicated to continuing. They wanted to pay forward to their beloved church for all the blessings they’d received, and now their children intend to continue building on that legacy.
When the pandemic began to shut down the world, our Catholic Schools were able to pivot to online learning quickly and efficiently, due in great part to the generosity of Jack and Susan Dawley, whose generous donation had provided for up-to-date and state-of-the-art technology throughout our Diocesan school system. 

There are so many ways we can support our Diocese; it is not always about how much money you make or how much you can donate; we can also give of our time and our talent— as well as our prayers. Nearly eight million dollars worth of repairs, restoration, and ongoing preservation are needed to ensure St. Mary’s Cathedral is here for generations to come.
Please consider making a donation; even the smallest amount will help us reach this goal.

Much Has Been Done, Still, Much to Do

Thanks to the generous support received from our inaugural Lumen Christi Gala and donors, some of the more urgent work has been done or is now underway.

Pieces of the windows needing repair St Mary's Cathedral

Historic Perspective

Hand Carved Crucifix St Mary's Cathedral Fall River

Historian Richard Grace, Ph.D., has blessed us with several essays on the history of St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Assumption, having grown up across the street, as well as cataloging its rich history. The upkeep of an over 100-year-old building is expensive; however, the craftsmanship and unique details held within the walls of St. Mary’s is worth the investment to preserve it all.

Much of the stunning details commissioned under Bishop James E. Cassidy include the grand carved crucifix by master carver Johannes Kirchmayer, as well as the Fatima and Nativity windows in the Lady Chapel. Historic moments such as the dedication of the statue of the Blessed Mother, which is imported from France, took place on Thanksgiving Day 1900, before 5,000 people on Second Street. Below the Bishop’s Chapel, which is dedicated to martyrs St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, is the Bishop’s Crypt. Buried within are former Fall River Bishops Stang, Feehan, Cassidy, Connolly, and Gerrard—names perhaps familiar to most from our Diocesan Catholic Schools. The Cathedral is also blessed to house a spectacular Hook & Hastings pipe organ, brought to St. Mary’s from Sacred Heart Parish upon its closing. 

For more on the historical details of our beloved Mother church, please visit The Catholic Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts.

Ordination in Brazil

On Friday, June 9th, I was honored to ordain Father Thiago Menezes Santos in his home parish — Paróquia São Pio X, in Aracaju, Brazil. The video of Fr. Thiago’s ordination can be found on YouTube here. Most of the Ordination was celebrated in Portuguese, but you will find some remarks in English at the beginning and at the end. Next week, the blog will be dedicated to this very special occasion.

Fr Thiago Fall River Diocese
Image Source: Facebook

Happy Father’s Day

A Prayer for Fathers from the USCCB

Please know of my ongoing prayers for each of you and your families and, in a particular way this week, for all fathers.
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