FALL RIVER — Bishop George W. Coleman has announced the retirement of three priests of the Fall River Diocese and new assignments for several other priests.
The Bishop has accepted the request to retire of the Rev. Thomas L. Rita, pastor of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish, Seekonk, and the Rev. Horace J. Travassos, pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish, Westport, both of which become effective June 25, 2014, and also the retirement of Rev. James Ferry, Pastor of Espirito Santo Parish, Fall River, effective July 1, 2014.
All three have ministered as priests in the diocese for decades, Father Rita for 44 years; Father Travassos, 41 years; and Father Ferry, 30 years.
Along with the retirements, Bishop Coleman has announced the following changes in assignments: Rev. Msgr. Stephen J. Avila, from pastor of St. Mary Parish, Mansfield, to pastor, St. Anthony Parish, East Falmouth; Rev. Gerard A. Hebert, from pastor, St. Anthony Parish, East Falmouth, to pastor, St. Jude the Apostle Parish, Taunton; Rev. Mark R. Hession, from pastor, Our Lady of Victory Parish, Centerville, and Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, Osterville to pastor, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Seekonk; Rev. John P. Kelleher, from administrator, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Seekonk, to pastor, Saint Joan of Arc Parish, Orleans; Rev. Daniel W. Lacroix, from pastor, St. Francis Xavier Parish, Hyannis, to pastor, Our Lady Queen of Martyr Parish, Seekonk; Rev. Michael K. McManus, to pastor, St. Mary Parish, Mansfield, while remaining Moderator of the Curia for the Fall River Diocese; Rev. John J. Perry, from pastor, St. Jude the Apostle Parish, Taunton, to pastor, Our Lady of Victory Parish, Centerville, and Pastor, Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, Osterville; Rev. Michael Fitzpatrick, from administrator, St. Joan of Arc Parish, Orleans, to administrator, St. Francis Xavier Parish, Hyannis; Rev. Darius Kalinowski, from parochial vicar, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Seekonk, to administrator, Our Lady of Grace Parish, Westport.
These appointments become effective June 25.
Additional appointments announced by the Bishop, which take effect July 1, are as follows: Rev. Maurice O. Gauvin, from pastor, St. George Parish, Westport, to pastor, Espirito Santo Parish, Fall River; Rev. Stephen B. Salvador, from administrator, St. Anne Parish, Fall River, to pastor, Saint George Parish, Westport; Rev. Christopher Stanibula, from parochial vicar, Saint Anne Parish, Fall River, to administrator, St. Anne Parish, Fall River.
Priests Entering into Retirement
Father Ferry grew up in Swansea and graduated from Bristol County Agricultural High School. He studied for the priesthood at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton and was ordained a priest on June 16, 1984 by Bishop Daniel A. Cronin. He began his priestly ministry as a parochial vicar at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in New Bedford. While there, he participated in a culture and humanities study program at the Catholic University of Portugal in Lisbon. He was next assigned as a parochial vicar at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Taunton and also served for a few months as its temporary administrator
In 1995, he became parochial vicar at Espirito Santo Parish in Fall River and one year later was named pastor there. He has served that parish community for the past 18 years. While pastor there he was also named parochial administrator of the neighboring parish of Our Lady of Health and guided the joining of that parish with Espirito Santo in 2006.
Father Rita was born and raised in New Bedford and graduated from the Holy Family High School in that city. He studied for the priesthood at St. Mary’s College, St. Mary, Kentucky, and St. John’s Seminary in Brighton and was ordained a priest by Bishop James L. Connolly on May 1, 1970. He served as a parochial vicar at St. Mary’s, Mansfield; St. Anthony’s, East Falmouth; St. Mary’s, South Dartmouth; and St. Mary’s, Taunton. In 1987, he was named to his first pastorate at St. Mary Parish in Seekonk. Through the years he served as pastor successively at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, Osterville; Holy Trinity Parish, West Harwich; and St. Mark Parish, Attleboro Falls. Returning to St. Mary’s in Seekonk as pastor in 2008, he led the parish as it joined with nearby St. Stephen’s to form the new Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish in 2010 and was appointed its founding pastor.
In addition to his parish ministry, Father Rita also served as director of St. Vincent’s Home in Fall River and the former St. Mary’s Home in New Bedford. For many years, he was director of the diocesan Pro-Life Apostolate, assistant director of Catholic Social Services, a judge in the Diocesan Tribunal, and an area leader for the Catholic Charities Appeal and CYO activities.
Father Travassos, a Fall River native, is a graduate of Msgr. James Coyle High School, Taunton, and Providence College. He taught for a short time at Bishop Stang High School, North Dartmouth, before entering St. John’s Seminary, Brighton, to prepare for the priesthood. He was ordained a priest on May 12, 1973 by Bishop Daniel A. Cronin and was assigned as parochial vicar at St. James Parish in New Bedford. From 1976 to 1983 he served as assistant chancellor for the diocese then returned to parish ministry as a parochial vicar, first at Corpus Christi, East Sandwich, and later St. Patrick’s, Somerset.
He was appointed rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral in 1988 and director of the Diocesan Office of Family Ministry and Family Life Center. In 1997 he was named pastor of St. William Parish in Fall River and in 2000 was appointed to Our Lady of Grace Parish in Westport.