FALL RIVER — On what is always a joyous day in the diocese, last Saturday was a sun soaked day of celebration and thanks, as Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., ordained Father Peter R. Scheffer Jr. The ordination, during the context of a Mass, was celebrated at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fall River on June 5, attended by family, friends, brother priests, religious, seminarians and deacons.
In his homily, Bishop da Cunha told Father Scheffer, “As a priest, you are to follow Christ and to be like Christ; to do what Christ did; to walk the path He walked; proclaim the Gospel, forgive sins and celebrate His mysteries.
“This local Church of Fall River needs you. She needs your faith, your prayers, your service, your fidelity and generosity. She needs all of you, unconditionally.”
The bishop reminded Father Scheffer that as of now, his time is no longer his own, but that it must be shared with the Church and the people he is called to serve.
“Remember that you are being ordained not for yourself, not for honor and privilege, but to place yourself at the service of God and His Church.
“God did not call you because you are perfect or can be perfect, but He called you because He saw in your heart, in your mind, in your soul, enough generosity to make you His servant and to shepherd His people. Be an Apostle in a world that is hungry for His compassion.”
The bishop advised that Father Scheffer will have a successful priestly life if he continues to believe that it was God Who called him and Who will sustain him.
A New Jersey native, Father Scheffer, 60, moved to the Fall River Diocese following a career in the military and diplomatic service, and shortly after entered Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, to study for the priesthood.
For his first Mass, he returned to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Seekonk, where he has served as a deacon for the past year, to celebrate all of the parish’s weekend Masses.
Father Scheffer is the son of Peter and Joan Scheffer of Brewster. With his two sisters, he grew up in Clifton, N.J. He attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduating from there and the U.S. Army Ranger School in 1983.
He earned a master’s degree from Boston College in administration and curriculum development.
Father Scheffer is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and participated in other operational contingency missions aimed at peace keeping and providing humanitarian assistance in different parts of the world. He also served on the faculty at West Point and in its Admissions Office.
Following his retirement from the military as a lieutenant colonel in 2006 he served as a U.S. Diplomatic Peace Treaty Inspector in the Middle East and then as an assistant professor of Strategic and Operational Studies at the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.
He moved to Cape Cod in 2016 upon leaving the college and became a member of St. Pius X Parish in South Yarmouth.
While in the seminary on summer breaks, he assisted at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in New Bedford and also attended the Institute of Priestly Formation in Omaha.
“I look forward to being able to somehow bring others nearer to God in whatever way He sees fit — whether it’s through the Sacraments or by virtue of my simple presence — that is my hope — that people can see me merely as a ‘bridge to Him’,” he said recently.
Father Scheffer will serve as a parochial vicar of the Catholic Community of Falmouth, encompassing St. Patrick Parish in Falmouth, St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in North Falmouth and St. Anthony Parish in East Falmouth.