Five diocesan priests to retire from parish ministry


By Kenneth J. Souza
Editor
kensouza@anchornews.org

FALL RIVER, Mass. — After years of devoted service to the Diocese of Fall River, five priests will be retiring from parish ministry, although — like most retirees today — they will all remain active to some degree.

Effective June 26, Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., accepted the request to retire of Msgr. Edmund J. Fitzgerald, Father Timothy J. Goldrick, Father Kevin J. Harrington, Father Arnold R. Medeiros, and Father Joseph F. Viveiros.

fitzgerald

Looking back on his ministry, Msgr. Fitzgerald recently said that each of his assignments “had its own special characteristic” and that he found all of them to be “enjoyable and challenging and rewarding.”

Born and raised in Taunton, Msgr. Fitzgerald was ordained May 18, 1968 by Bishop James L. Connolly and was first assigned as parochial vicar at Holy Name Parish in Fall River. In 1974, he was appointed director of the Pastoral Care Department at Saint Anne’s Hospital in Fall River and, three years later, director of the diocesan Department of Pastoral Care for the Sick.

“Holy Name (in Fall River) was my very first assignment as a newly-ordained, and it brought me into a world that had a lot of the things that I got involved with later on,” Msgr. Fitzgerald told The Anchor. “There was a school there and I was involved with that, there was a hospital there and I was a chaplain at that, and then with the nursing homes, which ultimately I ended up having a great deal (to do) with all of the Catholic nursing homes. So it prepared me for that.”

Since 1988, Msgr. Fitzgerald has served as director of the Diocesan Health Facilities, overseeing the diocese’s five nursing homes.

“I’m grateful to the diocese that they have five facilities that they own and are able to put them at the service of so many of our vulnerable elderly, especially patients with Alzheimer’s, who are in their last days of life and others who need the protective care in their aging process,” Msgr. Fitzgerald said. “I think it’s a tremendous witness to our faith. At every stage in life there are certainly pastoral moments, and the elderly need them as well as any other age.”

Msgr. Fitzgerald will retire as pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Somerset, where he has served since 2006. He previously served as pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Westport from 1988 to 2006. 

“St. John’s Parish in Westport was my first pastorate, and that was a long assignment and a most fruitful one Spiritually for me and, hopefully, for the people,” he said.

Msgr. Fitzgerald will moving into the Cardinal Medeiros Residence for Retired Priests on the campus of Bishop Connolly High School in Fall River — a facility he helped bring to fruition and one that is “a tremendous gift of the diocese to its more senior priests.”

“The bishop not only accepted my request to go live there, but he also appointed me as the director of the Cardinal Medeiros Residence,” Msgr. Fitzgerald said. “We have an excellent supervisor there, who really handles the day-to-day operations and many of the other things. But the bishop asked if I would serve in this role with the priests.”

Msgr. Fitzgerald said he is looking forward to living and working with his brother priests and, like many of his fellow retirees, that he anticipates filling in when needed.

“I certainly will be willing to help out, God willing, if somebody needs a Mass said or other things,” he said. “I would be glad to help them. I want to make sure that I challenge myself in retirement, rather than just resting in it.”

goldrick

Like Msgr. Fitzgerald, Father Goldrick will also be moving into the Cardinal Medeiros Residence and he is “looking forward to living in a community of brother priests.”

“These days, most diocesan priests live alone in their rectories, but the priesthood is communal by its very nature,” Father Goldrick told The Anchor. “We share together in the priesthood of Jesus Christ.”

A frequent and award-winning columnist for The Anchor, Father Goldrick said he expects to keep busy after retirement, and he may soon be resuming his popular contributions to the diocesan newspaper.

Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht is an old Yiddish saying,” he said. “It translates as: ‘Man Plans, and God Laughs.’ The majority of priests in the retirement residence continue to serve as needed in a variety of parishes in Fall River and beyond.”

Born in New Bedford, Father Goldrick was ordained May 13, 1972 by Bishop Daniel A. Cronin and was first assigned to St. Ann’s Parish in Raynham. He later went on to serve at Immaculate Conception Parish in Taunton, St. Margaret’s Parish in Buzzards Bay, St. Lawrence Martyr Parish in New Bedford, St. Pius X Parish in South Yarmouth, St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in North Falmouth, St. John Neumann Parish in East Freetown, and St. Theresa Parish in South Attleboro.

He was first appointed parochial administrator at St. Rita Parish in Marion in 1992. Two years later, he became pastor of St. Bernard’s Parish in Assonet in 1994.

From there, he would serve as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in North Dighton, and supervised its transition to the newly-named St. Nicholas of Myra Parish.

In 2012 he was named pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Falmouth, where he has served until his retirement.

Looking back over his years of ministry, Father Goldrick said there is much upon which to reflect.

“What I have accomplished over the years first comes to mind, but doing means nothing compared to being,” he said. “Inevitably, my fondest memories revolve around presence. A priest experiences the extraordinary grace of being invited to be with those who have reached significant life transition points — both physical and Spiritual — birth, death, conversion, Marriage, illness.

“These are the moments marked by the Sacraments of the Church. A priest, representing Christ and the Church, is at the hub as the wheel of life turns. What one does and what one says is, in the end, unimportant. What is important is being present. The message of presence is this: ‘the Lord is with you.’ The priest carries this message in person to those who long to hear it.”

Like many of his fellow retirees, the one thing he won’t miss is the routine of filling out paperwork and attending endless meetings.

“Priests have always had multiple responsibilities, but, in my opinion, the unending round of unproductive meetings is undoubtedly the bad side of the Good News,” he said.

And just as he has done throughout his ministry, Father Goldrick is ready to roll with the changes.

“I was raised in a Sacrament/Institution model of the Church, but ministered in a Servant model of the Church,” Father Goldrick said. “These days, there seems to be evolving a Cooperate model of the Church. Three models of the Church in a single lifetime requires a lot of flexibility, so I go with the flow. As the Church changes, so must I.”

harrington

Having similarly served at numerous parishes and in various apostolates over the years, Father Harrington recalled his work with the Hispanic community throughout the diocese and, like Father Goldrick, his stint writing a column for The Anchor between 1979 and 1998 as among his fondest memories.

“I loved working with the Hispanics throughout the diocese and writing a column for The Anchor,” Father Harrington said.

Born in Wareham, Father Harrington graduated from Providence College in 1972 before entering the seminary.

“I seriously considered applying to become a Dominican priest when I was at Providence College,” he recalled.

After graduating from St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Md., Father Harrington was ordained May 10, 1975 by Bishop Daniel A. Cronin. His first assignment was at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Attleboro.

He subsequently served at St. Joseph Parish in Attleboro, St. Mary Parish in North Attleboro, St. Joseph Parish in Taunton, St. Mark Parish in Attleboro Falls, and St. Patrick Parish in Fall River.

In 1993 he returned to St. Joseph Parish in Attleboro as a first-time pastor. He would also serve as parochial administrator at St. Lawrence Martyr Parish, as pastor at Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe Parish, as pastor of St. Hedwig Parish, and his current assignment as pastor at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, all in New Bedford.

Looking ahead to retirement, Father Harrington said he hopes to be able to have “additional time available to pray and to reflect” on his ministry.

“I won’t miss the phone calls and the door bells,” he said. “A retired priest told me you soon will. We’ll see.”

Even though he sometimes wonders if he chose the right path, Father Harrington said he is “sure that God was with me every step of the way.”

medeiros

Among the highlights of his 44 years as a diocesan priest, Father Medeiros said he’ll always remember his interactions with parishioners.

“The fondest memories, or highlights, for me are when I interacted with parishioners in the most joyous times and the saddest times of illness or death, whether sudden or prolonged with a loved one,” Father Medeiros said. “When I shared people’s joys or sorrows, I pray and hoped it helped.

“I also want to say that one of the highlights of my ministry has been the example of saintly people and their love of the Church.”

Born in Capelas, Ponta Delgada, on the island of São Miguel in the Azores, Father Medeiros emigrated to Fall River with his family and was initially a member of Santo Christo Parish in the city.

He was ordained to the priesthood on May 10, 1975 by Bishop Daniel A. Cronin and was first assigned to St. George Parish in Westport.

He later served at St. Anthony Parish in Taunton, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Taunton, and St. Elizabeth Parish in Fall River.

He was named a first-time pastor at St. Mary’s Parish in Norton in 1995. He became pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Wareham in 1998, and then became pastor of St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in North Falmouth in 2009, where he has served to the present day. The following year, he also briefly served as joint pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Pocasset, until Father David C. Frederici was appointed pastor in 2013.

Of the many responsibilities that he’s had to take on over the years, Father Medeiros said he won’t miss “the unexpected surprises of having to maintain church and parish buildings.”

Although he has no regrets, Father Medeiros did say in hindsight he would have hired a property manager to take care of all the maintenance and upkeep of the parish buildings so that it would “leave the pastor with only priestly duties.”

After retirement, he plans to continue to live in Falmouth and “help Msgr. Steve Avila wherever needed in the three linked parishes.”

An avid baseball fan, in retirement Father Medeiros said he is looking forward to relaxing a bit and doing some traveling and more reading and, most importantly, “attending the Red Sox spring training for more than just one week,” he said.

viveiros

Like Father Medeiros, Father Viveiros was born on the island of São Miguel in the Azores, and later emigrated to Fall River and attended St. Elizabeth Parish in the city.

He graduated from BMC Durfee High School in Fall River and prepared for the priesthood at St. Mary’s Seminary in Kentucky and St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Md., from which he graduated in 1974.

He was ordained May 11, 1974 by Bishop Daniel A. Cronin and was first assigned to Our Lady of Fatima Parish in New Bedford.

He later served as parochial vicar at Sacred Heart Parish in Fall River, St. John the Baptist Parish in New Bedford, St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Fall River, and Santo Christo Parish in Fall River.

In 1994, Father Viveiros returned to Our Lady of Fatima Parish in New Bedford, where he was named a first-time pastor.

In 1995, he was appointed pastor of St. Dominic Parish in Swansea, where he has served until his retirement.

Father Viveiros has also served in pastoral ministry at Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, as director of the Deaf Apostolate for the diocese, and as director of the Apostolate for Persons with Disabilities. He was chaplain for the Guild for the Blind from 1995 to 2007, and also was chaplain for the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Fall River.

Like his fellow retiree, Father Goldrick, Father Viveiros is known to be fond of Christmas and collects Nativity scenes and creches from all over the world. He also started observing the Hispanic tradition of Las Posadas at St. Dominic Parish in Swansea. These staged reenactments recalling the pilgrimage of the Holy Family from Nazareth to Bethlehem, were very popular among parish youth.

At press time, Father Viveiros was unavailable for an interview due to illness. All are asked to keep him in your thoughts and prayers for a happy and healthy retirement.


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