FALL RIVER — A first-time-ever event will take place next month both to celebrate St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fall River and to help restore the iconic 166-year-old church.
The inaugural Lumen Christi Cathedral Gala is set for 6 p.m., Wednesday, June 8, at White’s of Westport, and its proceeds will help to fund the cost of making critical repairs to the structure in several areas including its roof, bell tower, and stained-glass windows.
Father Thomas Washburn, who is rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral, explained that the name of Lumen Christi “was selected for the Gala because it is a Latin phrase meaning ‘Light of Christ’ and because that phrase very aptly describes the role the Cathedral plays in our Diocese.”
The Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption serves as the spiritual center of the Diocese of Fall River, where its bishop has his chair, in Greek, cathedra, and where the Catholic community of Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod and the Islands gathers with its bishop to celebrate significant diocesan liturgies and events.
“This church is so important to the life of our entire Diocese and it’s important that everyone be involved in it,” said Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V. “We want to bring everyone together to celebrate this beautiful Cathedral and to raise money for its restoration to ensure that it continues to serve many generations to come.”
St. Mary’s was built over the years 1852-1855 with its steeple, which rises 195 feet into the Fall River skyline, completed three years later. Originally a parish church, it was designated a cathedral church upon the establishment of the Diocese of Fall River in 1904.
“As you can imagine, it takes a lot of work to maintain and a lot of resources to keep up with the care of this grand edifice,” Father Washburn said. “For a building of this age, many repair and renovation projects are becoming critical. It is our hope that proceeds from the Lumen Christi Cathedral Gala will help us begin to address the immediate and long-term needs of this historical church.”
The Gala will feature a multi-course seated meal, a brief program highlighting the Cathedral, and entertainment by Vatican III, a jazz group featuring Fall River diocesan priest Father Matt Gill and seminarians Deacon Matthew Laird and Deacon Larry Valliere plus Father Patrick Fiorillo of the Boston Archdiocese. With both deacons set to be ordained to the priesthood on June 4, the group’s performance at the Gala will be its first as a quartet of priests.
The evening program will also recognize the service of Bob and Christine Long, proprietors of Long Built Homes in New Bedford and members of St. Mary Parish in South Dartmouth. The couple will be honored for their work on the board of the Catholic Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts and for their overall support of the Diocese of Fall River.
Serving as co-chairs of the Lumen Christi Cathedral Gala are Nick Christ, who is president of BayCoast Bank and co-chair of the Catholic Foundation of SE Mass. board, and Maryellen Sullivan Hughes of Mattapoisett, also of the Catholic Foundation board.
To obtain a ticket for the Lumen Christi Cathedral Gala or for information on sponsorship opportunities, please visit: www.catholicfoundationsema.org/cathedral-gala