FALL RIVER — Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., will ordain nine men to the Permanent Diaconate for service in the Fall River Diocese on Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 11 a.m. in the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption in Fall River.
The deacon candidates come from various areas of the diocese. All work full-time in a variety of occupations, and, with the exception of one, all are married and have children.
They are members of the ninth class to be ordained as permanent deacons in the Fall River diocese, which encompasses Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands.
Those to be ordained are Richard J. Bisson, Sr., Corpus Christi Parish, East Sandwich; Keith R. Caldwell, Our Lady of Victory Parish, Centerville; Gary L. Donahue, Holy Cross Parish, Easton; Kevin P. Gingras, Holy Family Parish, East Taunton; David O. Harum, St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Attleboro; George E. Hults, Corpus Christi Parish, East Sandwich; Antonio M. Pimental Jr., St. Francis Xavier Parish, Acushnet; Paul D. Spearin, St. Ann Parish, Raynham; and Matthew T. Sweeney, St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Parish, Attleboro.
They have been preparing for their ordination for the past five years.
“It has been a wonderful experience to witness the growth, joy and enthusiasm of the men in diaconate formation over the past five years,” said Father Robert A. Oliveira, who along with Deacon Frank R. Lucca is a co-director of the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese.
“Navigating the waters of theological, spiritual and personal preparation has been demanding and the road of discernment is a lifelong process.”
Deacon is taken from the Greek word diakonia meaning service, and once ordained the new deacons will serve the diocese in various ways, depending on the nature of their assignments by Bishop da Cunha
“Service is the call, and I am confident that each of our new deacons has a heart filled with a deep sense of love and commitment to the Lord and His church,” said Father Oliveira.
“In the demanding times that we face as a church, I rejoice with great hope in the future ministries that each of our candidates will commit themselves to as they become generous ‘foot washers’ in the Lord’s service. We thank them for their courageous ‘yes’ to the Lord’s invitation to serve.”
Liturgically, deacons can officiate at baptisms, weddings, wake services and burial rites, proclaim the Gospel and preach, and distribute Holy Communion as an ordinary minister of the Eucharist. Depending on the individual deacon’s abilities, he can be assigned to parish ministry or a particular field of service. Deacons are active in a variety of ministries including those to prison inmates, the sick in hospitals and nursing homes, and the youth.
The diaconate ordination on May 18 will be in the context of Mass, following the Gospel. It will include the rites of Calling and Presentation of Candidates for Ordination.
After ordination, accomplished by the laying of the bishop’s hands on the head of each candidate and a prayer of consecration, a member of each of the ordinand’s family will bring his vestments to the altar. At the altar the vestments will be handed to assisting priests or deacons, who will then vest the new deacons.
The Fall River Diocesan Choir under the direction of Erik Thompson will provide music for the Mass. Family members of the newly ordained will bring up the gifts during the Offertory of the Mass.
Tickets have been distributed for the event; open seating space will be limited.
The Second Vatican Council recommended that the diaconate be restored as a permanent order in the modern Church. Shortly after, Pope Paul IV declared that he would restore the diaconate in those countries that wished it, and in August of 1968, at the request of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he approved the permanent diaconate in this country. In 1977 then Bishop Daniel A. Cronin began a deacon formation program in the Fall River diocese and in 1980 the first class of deacons was ordained. There are currently 48 active permanent deacons in the diocese and an additional 38 who though officially retired are involved in some ministry.
Brief biographical information on the candidates follows below:
Richard James Bisson, Sr., is a parishioner of Corpus Christi Parish, East Sandwich. He and his wife, Rose Ann, have two sons. He is self-employed as an electrical contractor.
Keith Robert Caldwell is a parishioner of Our Lady of Victory Parish, Centerville. He and his wife, Janice, have two sons. He is a teacher at Barnstable High School.
Gary Leonard Donahue is a parishioner of Holy Cross Parish, South Easton. He and his wife, Nancy, have two daughters. He works as a lawyer with the U. S. Department of Justice.
Kevin Philip Gingras is a parishioner of Holy Family Parish, Taunton. He and his wife, Allison, have two sons and one daughter. He is a senior information analyst at Medical Information Technology.
David Olaf Harum is a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Attleboro. He and his wife, Kathleen, have one daughter. He works as a software systems manager.
George Eugene Hults is a parishioner of Corpus Christi Parish, East Sandwich. He and his wife, Mary, have one son. He works as a nuclear reactor operator at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.
Antonio Mano Pimentel, Jr. is a parishioner of St. Francis Xavier Parish, Acushnet. He and his wife, Karen, have one son and one daughter. He is a senior director of risk technology at Santander Bank.
Paul David Spearin is a parishioner of St. Ann Parish, Raynham. He and his wife, Josephine, have one son and one daughter. He is an outpatient liaison at Community Counseling of Bristol County.
Matthew Thomas Sweeney is a parishioner of St. Theresa of the Child of Jesus Parish, Attleboro, and is single. He works as a Water Project Engineer at Pawtucket Water Supply Board.