Bishop da Cunha Building Faith Blog Fall River Diocese

An Ordination in Brazil

Bishop da Cunha and Father Thiago Ordination Brazil

I am honestly astounded at the unexpected yet truly positive impact of my decision to travel to Brazil to ordain Father Thiago Menezes Santos. I’ve received a tremendously positive response from the priests and parishioners in the Diocese, many sharing how glad they were that I was doing this for this young man. 

When I shared my plans at the recent
Lumen Christi Gala, commenting on how I had to finish packing to catch an early plane in the morning for Brazil, my comments were met with great applause. No other decision could have been made; this was just the right thing to do, and it is amazing how many hearts it has touched. Despite the challenge of a long trip, which had me arriving at 3:00 a.m. on the day of the ordination, the happiness and joy I saw in Father Thiago’s family, friends, and childhood parish as they witnessed his becoming a priest made it all absolutely worthwhile. 

Watch the video of Fr. Thiago’s Ordination here.

As I spoke to the many people in attendance at Father Thiago’s ordination, it was clear that he has touched many lives. This was also evident in the number of people who came from the United States to celebrate with him in Brazil, including his English tutor from New Jersey, parishioners from the parish in Seekonk where he spent time as a seminarian (whom he referred to as his “adopted mother”), so many who watched on live stream, caring friends from the U.S. and Brazil who wanted to be there for this memorable day. Clearly, Father Thiago has endeared himself to many people. In all, there were 25 priests, along with many seminarians, at his ordination; it is a testament to how well-liked and respected he is that all of these priests would take the time to be there and support him. 

The spirit of joy and gratitude just overflowed from parishioners and family in attendance, so many of whom supported his vocation to the priesthood. What a blessing to be in his home parish, Paróquia São Pio X, in Aracaju, Brazil, where he grew up, and was involved in the faith formation, youth group, liturgies, and received his sacraments. It was his dream, I later learned, to be ordained there. It is amazing how God answers our prayers in the most unexpected ways. What seemed like the lowest point for him as his father’s Visa to come to the US for his ordination was denied, turned into the avenue through which God performed the most amazing gift in allowing Father Thiago’s childhood dream to be realized.

Collage of photos from Fr Thiago Ordination in Brazil with his Father and Grandmother, the Bishop, and his first Mass

Witnessing this powerful connection between the church where he worshipped and was so active as a youth and was there now as a priest is a powerful example of how young people can be involved in their parish and discern their vocations. Young people can be dedicated to God, possess a generosity of heart, and be genuinely inspirational. No one can mistake the hand of God working in Father Thiago’s life — such a source of strength and inspiration to others to continue their journey of faith.
It was my honor to be there and ordain Thiago; I know he will be a wonderful priest, along with the other three young men ordained this June. The Diocese of Fall River is blessed to have each of them join our presbyterate in this mission of evangelization, sanctification, and salvation.

The New Priest Reflects
Father Thiago Menezes Santos

Fr Thiago Fall River Diocese
Fr. Thiago prostrate during Ordination while Bishop da Cunha kneels in prayer

One of the dreams that I always had from my childhood was to be ordained a priest in my home parish alongside my parents and family in Brazil. However, since I came to the United States in 2020, I started to accept the fact that I would have to be ordained thousands of miles away from my homeland as I was going to be incardinated here in the Diocese of Fall River.

Since coming to the Diocese in 2020, I have been challenged in many different ways. I believe that all those experiences helped me to grow and to mature. We were hit by the pandemic only two months after arriving in the United States without knowing the language well. A little more than one year later, I lost my beloved mom Laura and my cousin Johnathan in a car accident that caused me indescribable pain that made me discern whether God wanted me to pause my studies and go home or persevere no matter how painful that would be. 

Well, God spoke through my dad Sergio, who wisely and out of love told me to return to the USA, be strong for him, and not give up on my vocation as my mom dreamed of seeing me as a priest. Six months later, his dad, my grandfather, Manuel, also passed.
My life had a few ups and downs these past years. However, God has always been there, and despite the pain, His tender love and mercy were always with me. He silently and mysteriously acted when my father had his American visitor visa denied two months ago. However, through that denial, the original dream of being ordained a priest alongside my family in my homeland came true through the decision of Bishop da Cunha to hold the ceremony in Brazil.

The liturgy of my Ordination Mass was divine, and I could not hide how overjoyed I was to be surrounded by my family members and friends who came from different places in Brazil and even from the USA to attend the ordination and be together to celebrate the gift of the priesthood of Christ that was being conferred to me. Most importantly, at the ordination, I knew and felt that God granted special permission to my mom to be there, and I felt that she was with me and rejoicing with the angels that her son was becoming a priest of Jesus Christ. 
Truly being ordained in Brazil was the greatest consolation I could ever receive from God after all that my family and I had to go through. Since my ordination, I have said Masses daily, baptized one baby—my goddaughter, and heard the confessions of many people. I have never been so happy in my life. 
As I said in Brazil at the ordination, I repeat again here that only a bishop who has a fatherly heart would feel the pain and sorrows of his son, and Bishop da Cunha has truly been this father to me who not only welcomed me in his Diocese but has accompanied me at all moments and helped me to get to the altar of the Lord as a priest of Jesus Christ.

June Priest Transfers

Today, June 21st, begins the new clergy appointments for 2023 in the Diocese.
Wanting to honor and accept the petition of retirement of four Diocesan priests, men who have served and deserve a time of rest, required shifting many priests to cover our churches. Sadly, the shortage of vocations currently in our Church strains every aspect of the faith and, in this case, requires a variety of transfers, which I recognize is very difficult for all involved. 
These decisions are, quite frankly, among the most challenging responsibilities of a bishop. Please know I do not make these decisions alone; I have a group of wise priests advising me, and I take counsel to help make the best decisions for the common good. As a Diocese, we needed to make some difficult decisions. 
To ease this burden in the future, we need to support and pray for vocations now, not only in our Diocese but also in the world. It’s important for us at this time to support those men moving into new assignments and their parishes as they now navigate this transition time. Please know that my prayers go with all of you, believing in the goodness of God to bring good and every situation, as Saint Paul tells us in Romans 8:28. Trusting Him to bring grace and blessings in each of these new appointments. 
You can find the complete list of appointments on the Fall River Diocese website, including where the newly ordained Deacons and Priests will be assigned. 
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha

O Reverendíssimo Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., D.D.
O Reverendíssimo Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., D.D.
The Bishop of Fall River