Bishop da Cunha Building Faith Blog Fall River Diocese

Cornerstone Society Luncheons

On Tuesday, July 18th and Wednesday, July 19th, The Catholic Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts hosted special luncheons for the Cornerstone Society. These generous donors to the Catholic Appeal “make a transformative difference for thousands of people supported by many programs across the Diocese,” as shared by Mim Sherman, Catholic Foundation CEO, during her opening remarks. A few examples of this support include the seminary education of our priests, providing for hospital chaplaincies, as well as life-giving services to those dealing with addiction, disabilities, or poverty. It is clear the impact on those who benefit from the funds provided through the Appeal is quite significant.

Bishop da Cunha welcomes Cornerstone Society members (left). Luncheon guest speaker, Deacon Paul Spearin, shared “holy moments” from his work as a chaplain at Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River (right). Source: Catholic Foundation

The over 800 Cornerstone Society members (donors who pledged $1,000 or more to the Appeal) made up 2.6 million of our nearly 4.5 million (and still counting) dollars raised this year. For many, these are difficult financial times, and I am grateful for the sacrifices made to help others in need. Most of us will never know, nor can we imagine, the benefit and blessing these donations offer so many people.  As I travel across the Diocese, I recognize how well we are doing at being the bridge between those who can give and those who need our services—we are here to assist in building and rebuilding the lives of all people regardless of their age or religious affiliation.
I recently learned firsthand how God multiplies and rewards our generosity. As many of you know, I traveled in June to Brazil to ordain Father Thiago Santos. Although I knew the trip would be arduous, I knew it was the right thing to do and did not think twice about the decision to go. At the time, I had no idea that my decision would allow me a final visit with my mother before her passing, just two weeks after my trip to Brazil. When flight complications prevented me from traveling to Brazil to celebrate her funeral mass, I took great consolation that I had been there to spend some of her final days in person. Instead, I celebrated the Funeral Mass from my personal chapel via Zoom and connected with all those who attended the funeral back home in Brazil. Of course, we do not seek to do good for reward; we do it for the good of the other; it is our God who, in His love and generosity, rewards us in His own way. 

chapel with livestream equipment facing altar
Preparing to livestream the Funeral Mass for my Mother, Josefa da Cunha

Thank you to everyone who continues, in your generosity, to assist the mission of our Diocese to be a source of assistance and support for all people. I know that with your continued generosity, we can continue the work that God has begun in us. May God grant you all health and peace for many years to come. 
I will conclude by sharing how very touched I have been by the hundreds of letters, emails, and cards, and all the Masses being offered from around the world for my mother, in addition to your prayers for my family during this difficult time. Each has been a tremendous source of strength and consolation for me and my family. 

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Learn more about how you can support the Diocese through the Catholic Foundation and the Foundation to Advance Catholic Education, including the upcoming August 17th Summer Gala.

Sister Monica Zin Thida, SNDS.

On July 14th, I was honored to preside over the Eucharistic Celebration and Thanksgiving for the Perpetual Profession of Vows of Sister Monica Zin Thida, SNDS, at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, in Attleboro.

In my homily, I told Sr. Monica that traditionally it is considered that before taking perpetual vows, a person is in formation. After perpetual vows, they change their status. Although canonically, you may not be in formation after final vows, you are very much still in formation. If we stop being in formation, we are in trouble. All of us are in a continuous, ongoing formation. 
I also told her that one does not enter religious life for oneself; no, this sacrifice contributes to the salvation of the world and the building up of the Church. It is a free and total offering of oneself. A gift of oneself to God, and it is vital to see these vows as gifts, never an imposition or burden.
Religious are called in a very special way to be like Jesus; to follow Jesus is the highest rule. As I asked Sr. Monica during this beautiful celebration—”are you resolved to strive constantly with the grace of God, to commit yourself wholeheartedly to the service of the human family?” I challenge each of you to consider how willing you are to make a commitment, according to the status of your life, to serve the world around you, as well.

The need to be rooted and to branch out. All of us have a need to be rooted. Being rootless can be a source of anxiety, depression, and unhappiness. So, people establish their roots where they are; their home, their town, their family. And sometimes, it is very difficult to change, to let go because it means to be uprooted and to establish their roots in another place. It is even more difficult if faced with the possibility of being uprooted again.
One of our characteristics as religious is that we don’t have roots in one particular place or anyone thing. We are called to leave everything and go wherever we are needed. Yet our need to be rooted is still there. So, what are we to do? Where can we establish our roots? In God, in the Church, in one’s own Religious Congregation. In this case, we don’t have to be uprooted. Wherever we go, they are there. If we don’t establish our roots in God, religious life is a failure, and our ministry meaningless.
It is important to branch out; no one is an island—no one wants to be alone. When we punish people, we isolate them. We have a need to connect with others. That is our active ministry. The two are entirely interdependent. One cannot survive without the other. Therefore, we need to rooted but also to branch out. We cannot branch out unless we have deep roots. Our lives must be rooted in God, just as Sister Monica has illustrated so beautifully in her Perpetual Profession in the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette. What a blessing all the Religious are to our Church.

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