By Dave Jolivet

FALL RIVER — Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V. told the four men about to be ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Fall River, “We rejoice, celebrate and pray with you here today.” Scores of priests, deacons, seminarians, family and friends filled St. Mary’s Cathedral on June 4 for the ordination, which was the largest single ordination Mass in the diocese in 20 years.

At the conclusion of the joyous ordination Mass, the bishop thanked all present and asked for prayers for himself, the newly-ordained priests, all the priests, deacons, seminarians and the diocesan faithful at large. He also said, “And please continue to pray for vocations because we have four ordained this year and we’re probably, God willing, counting on four next year. 

Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., is photographed with the four newly-ordained priests on June 4 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fall River. From left: Father Gregory Quenneville, Father William O’Donnell III, the bishop, Father Matthew Laird, and Father Laurent Valliere. (Photo taken from diocesan Facebook page)

“We need to continue this trend. But we need all of your help, all of your prayers, and all of your support.”

In his homily, the bishop addressed the four men: “First, I hope you realize that you are here today because God called you.

“Jesus told us in the Gospel today, ‘It was not you who chose Me, but I Who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.”

“You will have a priestly life and fruitful ministry if you truly believe that God called you and that you are where you are because God put you there.

“God did not call you because you were perfect or even because you could become perfect, but because He saw enough goodness and generosity in the depths of your heart to make you His servant to shepherd His people.

“Remember that you are being ordained, not for yourself, not for honor and privilege, but to the service of God and His people. The priesthood is not a career or professional choice you made in your life, but a response to God, Who chose you for the service of His people.

“The priesthood is given to you, but not for you. It is to be shared and to be at the service of God’s people. You have been chosen from among God’s people, now you are one for God’s people.

“As priests you are called to lead God’s people in prayer and worship, and work every day for your own holiness. In the prayer of Consecration we pray ‘Renew within them the spirit of holiness.’

“We don’t think enough about our call to holiness. We think it is not for ourselves or it is something we can achieve. That is not true. From our Baptism, we are all called to holiness. 

“And in order to be a man of God you must be a man of prayer, of meditation on God’s word, of contemplation before God’s wonderful deeds and His presence in the Mystery of the Eucharist.

“Remember this local Church of Fall River needs you. She needs your faith, your prayers, your service, your fidelity and generosity; she needs you, all of you, unconditionally. 

After the four were ordained they received their vestments from a brother priest who made a big impact in their lives. Father Laird was assisted by Father John Oliveira, administrator of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Our Lady of Guadalupe parishes in New Bedford; Father O’Donnell was assisted by Father Thomas Frechette, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Pocasset; Father Quenneville was assisted by Father David Mullen, pastor of St. Brendan Parish in Bellingham; and Father Valliere was assisted by Father John Kelly, a retired senior priest of the Diocese of Providence.

Each of the four newly-ordained priests celebrated their first Masses the following day, Sunday, June 5:

Father Laird at Christ the King Church in Mashpee;

Father O’Donnell at Holy Trinity in West Harwich;

Father Quenneville at St. Theresa of the Child Jesus in South Attleboro;

and Father Valliere at St. Stanislaus Church in Fall River.

Effective June 15, the four will begin their assignments as parochial vicars:

Father Laird at St. Joseph, Guardian of the Holy Family Parish in East Falmouth;

Father O’Donnell at St. Mary Parish in South Dartmouth;

Father Quenneville at St. Mary-Our Lady of the Isle Parish in Nantucket; 

and Father Valliere at Our Lady of Victory Parish in Centerville and Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Osterville.

On September 1, Father Quenneville will be reassigned to St. Julie Billiart Parish in Dartmouth. 

The bishop concluded his homily by telling the four, “You will become today instruments of God, so that through you God’s word, His grace and mercy will flow to His people.

“Remember to always conform your life to the Lord and the mystery of His cross.”