Year of St. Joseph

The Fall River Diocese held a special Mass on Friday, March 19, to celebrate the Solemnity of St Joseph, Husband of Mary. The Mass also served to open our first virtual Diocesan Women and Men’s Conference. While this feast always holds particular importance in our church, in this, the Year of St. Joseph, it was all the more special. How wonderful it was to not only have livestreamed but also that so many were able to attend in person.
Pope Francis has given us this Year of St. Joseph, December 8, 2020, to December 8, 2021, for us to focus on basically three things:
● Increase our devotion to St. Joseph,
● Encourage us to ask for St. Joseph’s help, intercession, and protection on each of us, our families, our church, and the world, 
● Ask us to imitate the faith, life, and virtues of Saint Joseph.

Solemnity of St. Joseph Mass, St. Mary’s Cathedral

I feel we are living in the era of St. Joseph, a time in which he is working on our world to remind us how important our faith in God, church, and community truly is. An opportunity to commit to following God, to knowing Jesus, and listening to the Holy Spirit. To rekindle in our hearts and lives a faith, love, and trust in God by following his example of holiness and virtue. During that Mass, I shared two stories of personally witnessing the results of praying to St. Joseph. 
When I was in the novitiate in Brazil many years ago, I was going home to visit my family for the Feast of St. John the Baptist. In my home state in Brazil, that feast is like Thanksgiving here; everybody goes home for this holiday. First, I had to catch a bus home, so I went to the bus station. When I got there, the ticket line was endless. As I joined it, I thought, when will I ever get this bus to go home? All around me, people were purchasing tickets to go back home to their families; after a while in the line, I felt discouraged about ever getting a seat on the bus. 
I remember I just closed my eyes and prayed to Saint Joseph to help me find a way to get home. The line wasn’t moving, so I kept praying. Finally, I finished praying to St. Joseph, and I opened my eyes; somebody was walking by and asked if anyone needed a ticket to go to a particular town — which was my hometown! I quickly responded, “yes, yes I do.” Since the bus was preparing to leave soon, I paid the man for the ticket and ran to get my place on the bus, so very thankful for St. Joseph’s intercession. 
Another great story of St. Joseph’s intercessory came when I was a pastor at a church in Palisades Park, New Jersey. There was a family who needed to buy a new house. Their search was complicated and lengthy, and they’d asked everyone they knew to pray a Novena to Saint Joseph with them. This family found a house on March 19, St. Joseph’s feast day, and the address of the house was “319.” The family was in disbelief; what a fantastic way to have your prayer answered. These are just two of the many stories I know personally of answered prayers through St. Joseph.

St. Clare’s House on Cape Cod

In thinking about the Lenten season as a period of renewal, I am reminded of some exceptional work taking place through Catholic Social Services at St. Clare’s House on Cape Cod.
At St. Clare’s, formerly incarcerated women find a welcoming home where they are supported on their journeys toward self-discovery and self-sufficiency within a faith-based environment solely dedicated to their growth and success. A new program, Literacy to Lift Lives, is further helping women on their journeys.  It calls to mind the words of Proverbs 4:13, “Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.”
Thanks to the George and Marie Chabot Foundation and Trustees Anne, Charley, and Peter Polachi, who are parishioners in our Diocese, a new computer lab has been outfitted, and instruction is underway. Led by a 40-year education specialist and parishioner, Elizabeth Dawes, the curriculum guides these women to learn more about their strengths and develop essential skills—with concrete work products and competencies to help advance their career trajectories.
About her work with these women and her approach to teaching, Ms. Dawes recently shared her belief, included in a chapter in her master’s thesis, on a Peaceful Classroom, “the classroom is an extension of the Sign of Peace. It’s a place where I, a child of God, recognize each learner as a child of God.” What a beautiful charism to bring to the work at St. Clare’s as women are supported in their efforts to overcome significant struggles with the understanding that we are all children of God.

Women and Men’s Conference participant watches ValLimar Jansen’s presentation.

2021 Women and Men’s Conference

As mentioned earlier in the blog, the Diocese held its first virtual Women and Men’s Conference this past weekend. The conference committee did a wonderful job organizing and coordinating the live portions done at St. Mary’s Cathedral, along with segments with ValLimar Jansen, both on Zoom and livestreamed on Facebook. The conference also included an opportunity for participants to interact and share thoughts on the presentations in Zoom breakout sessions. I very much enjoyed ValLimar’s moving presentation and performances, as well as having an opportunity to answer several questions from participants during a live Q&A session. In my comments at the closing Mass, I shared that while this was a great success, we do all hope and pray it is the last we need to offer in this manner. I want to thank again all those who worked so tirelessly to make this year’s conference a success.
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