FALL RIVER — On June 3 Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V. ordained three men as priests of the Diocese of Fall River at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fall River. On June 9 the bishop traveled to Aracaju, Brazil to ordain Father Thiago Menezes Santos as a Fall River priest. The ordination took place there because of travel issues with some of Father Menezes Santos’ family members.

Each of the new priests shared what the day and the life to come mean to them.

 Father Brian Connors

“Choosing a few things to highlight from our ordination weekend, as you can imagine, is incredibly difficult. I found the laying on of hands from each priest a particularly moving moment of the Ordination Rite, realizing the honor and blessing of being part of this brotherhood of priests. It was also amazing to see so many people come to support us and be present at the Cathedral for the ordination. 

“At my first Solemn Mass celebrated on Sunday, again, I was moved by the number of people present. It meant so much to look out and see everyone who supported my becoming a Catholic eight years ago and throughout my vocation journey. As for the Liturgy itself, there are simply no words to describe how it felt to pray the words of Consecration for the first time.

“I pray as a priest that I am instrumental in creating parishes where people always encounter Jesus in meaningful and profound ways. I pray I am able to serve the Church and help people discover Jesus’ great love for them.”

Father John Garabedian 

“This past weekend was the most beautiful and enjoyable one yet. At my ordination and first Mass I experienced a deep peace and joy. It felt natural and comfortable but also surreal and mysterious. I was aware of the incredible gift God was giving me and was doing my best to fully receive it fully, enjoy it and soak it all in.

“I felt blessed to be surrounded by all the people who love, formed, and supported me — including my family, friends, priests, parishioners, high school friends, old co-workers, and baseball coaches. It was like all of my worlds colliding — New Jersey, Fall River, old friends, new friends. 

“Lastly, it was very humbling giving out so many blessings and having my newly consecrated hands kissed by brother priests.”

Father Chris Hughes

“This weekend was absolutely incredible!  The Ordination Mass and First Mass were moments in my life that I will never forget.  I have never felt as close to the Lord — or experienced so much joy — as I did then. 

“As I processed down the aisle and saw so many people, I felt the love of God in a very intimate way. I truly felt that this was a preview of Heaven — as I was surrounded by so many people I know and love dearly in many ways — family, friends from college, high school, and childhood, parishioners, friends from seminary, and priests that were role models for me in my discernment that I am now humbled and privileged to call brother priests.  

“The joy has continued throughout my first few days of my priesthood as I have celebrated my first Masses, anointings, and heard my first Confessions.  God is good and I feel so blessed to share in the Priesthood of Jesus Christ!”

Father Thiago Menezes Santos

“One of the dreams that I always had from my childhood was to be ordained a priest in my home parish alongside my parents and family in Brazil. Since I came to the United States in 2020, however, I started to accept the fact that I would have to be ordained thousands of miles away from my homeland as I was going to be incardinated here in the Diocese of Fall River.

“Since coming to the diocese in 2020, I have been challenged in many different ways. I believe that all those experiences helped me to grow and to mature. We were hit by the pandemic only two months after arriving in the United States without knowing the language well. A little more than one year later, I lost my beloved mom, Laura, and my cousin, Johnathan, in a car accident that caused me indescribable pain that made me discern whether God wanted me to pause my studies and go home or persevere no matter how painful that would be. 

“Well, God spoke through my dad Sergio, who wisely and out of love told me to return to the U.S., be strong for him, and not give up on my vocation as my mom dreamed of seeing me as a priest. Six months later, his dad, my grandfather, Manuel, also passed.

“Truly being ordained in Brazil was the greatest consolation I could ever receive from God after all that my family and I had to go through. Since my ordination, I have celebrated Masses daily, baptized one baby — my goddaughter, and heard the confessions of many people. I have never been so happy in my life. 

“As I said in Brazil at the ordination, I repeat again here that only a bishop who has a fatherly heart would feel the pain and sorrows of his son, and Bishop da Cunha has truly been this father to me who not only welcomed me in his diocese but has accompanied me at all moments and helped me to get to the altar of the Lord as a priest of Jesus Christ.”