In accordance with the Code of Canon Law, on the day he turned 75 years of age, the Most Reverend George W. Coleman, DD, tenured his resignation to His Holiness Pope Frances and then the waiting game began. How long, we began wondering, would it take his resignation to be accepted. Our friends in the Diocese waited almost two years for Bishop McDonnel’s resignation to be accepted. And so, this Thursday morning, at 6:00AM, 12:00PM Rome time, the announcement came as a bit of a surprise that the Holy Father named Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha as the eighth Bishop of Fall River. As many are aware by reading newspapers and watching television, Bishop-designate da Cunha was born in Brazil but has spent a good portion of his life in the Archdiocese of Newark where he has served as a priest until he was ordained a Bishop in 2003. Bishop da Cunha is fluent in English, Portuguese and Spanish which will hopefully make his transition from Newark to Fall River an easy one. What does this all mean for us? Well, one difference is that you will no longer hear me say “George our Bishop” during the Eucharist prayer. He will be known as the “Diocesan Administrator” and no longer as the “Diocesan Ordinary.” Basically, he can do all of the things that he has been doing but he cannot name pastors. He can name Parochial Administrators and move Parochial Vicars but that is because those are not known as “Stable Offices.” The only details that have been released regarding Bishop da Cunha’s move to the Fall River Diocese is that his installation will take place on Wednesday, September 24th. Why such a long wait? Well, one theory is that since Archbishop Vigano, the Papal Nuncio to the United States is an Italian, he, like all Italians, takes the month of August off. Don’t you wish we could do that??
In any event, as more details are revealed, I promise to keep you in the proverbial loop of things. This is certainly an exciting time in the life of our local church. One of Bishop da Cunha’s responsibilities in the Archdiocese of Newark was to work on Evangelization. We have certainly done that here with our “Welcome Home Weekend” that we will again do in the Autumn. Please keep Bishop-designate Da Cunha in your prayers as he readies himself to become our new Shepherd.