‘I gotta feeling’

It wasn’t that long ago when I was with The Anchor staff in my office watching and waiting for who the new pope was going to be after white smoke billowed from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel.

First came the name, then the anticipation of seeing our Holy Father for the first time. I literally had chills when I saw the humble, holy Pope Francis appear on the balcony, seemingly almost overwhelmed by what was happening.

I immediately felt a peace, a hope, a joy at seeing Pope Francis. 

I just knew.

Last week The Anchor staff gathered again, this time at the diocesan Office of Communications next door to see and hear, for the first time, our new Bishop of Fall River Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V.

We were there early to claim our spots, not only to see and hear him, but to cover the story for our Anchor readers.

Bishop da Cunha and Bishop George W. Coleman arrived right on time. Our new bishop almost immediately walked over to me, not because of anything other than where I was situated logistically. He warmly shook my hand and extended a greeting.

I had that Pope Francis “feeling” again. I sensed he was a man of compassion, a man of faith, a man who loved God. I sensed he was a priest of compassion, a priest of faith, and a priest who loved God.

I just knew.

Nothing in Bishop da Cunha’s opening remarks changed that “feeling.” He was humble, gracious, and thankful for the task that is to come.

I’ve written about how I can tell a great deal about a person by looking into their eyes. To me Bishop da Cunha’s eyes displayed all the traits I mentioned earlier in this column.

I always find it interesting, but not necessarily pleasurable, when the secular press gathers to cover a Church event. I don’t know these people personally. I don’t know what their agendas may be. And I don’t know about their faith lives. But sometimes I get bad vibes about the motives of some.

I feel there may have been an occasion or two where someone was trying to trip up our new bishop with their line of questioning. I know it’s their job, but I also know the Catholic Church is constantly in the cross-hairs of someone or some group’s rifle.

Bishop da Cunha answered all the questions sent his way with grace, dignity, and respect ... and honesty.

Following the press conference part of the day, I still had that “feeling.”

Later Bishop da Cunha met privately with The Anchor staff, and I left that meeting still with the “feeling.”

I believe Bishop da Cunha is in fact the man God wants to shepherd the fine people of the Diocese of Fall River in the future, and I’m looking forward to it.

And this column wouldn’t be complete without a word of thanks to Bishop Coleman, another man and priest of compassion, faith and a love of God.

Thank you Bishop Coleman.

Dave Jolivet can be reached at davejolivet@anchornews.org.

© 2018 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing   †   Fall River, Massachusetts