Pope Francis names new bishop to Fall River diocese

Bishop Edgar Moreira da Cunha, S.D.V. Credit: Fall River diocese.

It was announced by the Vatican earlier today that Pope Francis has tapped Bishop Edgar Moreira da Cunha, S.D.V., auxiliary for Newark, N.J., to lead the diocese of Fall River, Mass.

“Today, with a mixture of great joy and sadness, I congratulate Bishop Edgar da Cunha on his appointment as Bishop of Fall River,” Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark said in a July 3 statement.

“I am confident that the priests, religious and laity of the diocese of Fall River will quickly come to appreciate his many gifts as he undertakes his pastoral office among them.”

Bishop Cunha, 60, has served as the auxiliary bishop for the Newark diocese since 2003, and was appointed upon the retirement of Bishop George Coleman, who submitted his resignation after reaching the age limit of 75 in February.

Hailing from Brazil, Bishop Cunha was born in Nova Fatima Aug. 21, 1953. He attended school there and eventually entered the city’s minor seminary of the Vocationist Fathers in Riachão do Jacuípe, where he later joined the Vocationist Fathers, also known as the Society of Divine Vocations.

After receiving degrees in both philosophy and theology, he was ordained to the priesthood for the Society of Divine Vocations March 27, 1982, in the church of St. Michael in Newark by Bishop Joseph Francis, S.V.D.

Following his ordination Bishop Cunha was assigned as parochial vicar of St. Michael’s and also served as his congregation’s director of vocations.

In 1983 he was transferred to St. Nicholas parish in Palisades Park after it was given to the congregation by the archbishop, where he then served not only as parochial vicar, but also as superior for his local community.

He was appointed pastor of St. Nicholas in 1987, and in 1992 was elected as secretary of the Council of the Vocationist Delegation to the United States, and from 1994 – 2000 he served as novice master and director of his congregation’s vocation house in Florham Park, N.J.

After his appointment as auxiliary bishop of Newark, Bishop Cunha was named as the archdiocese’s vicar general in 2013, for which his primary responsibility was in serving as the principle deputy of the archbishop in the administration of the diocese.

Bishop Cunha’s installation Mass as Bishop of Fall River will take place September 24 in the diocese’s Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption. Other details regarding the Mass are not yet available, but will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Fall River diocese was established in 1904 and encompasses all of Bristol County, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket as well as the towns of Mattapoisett, Marion and Wareham in Plymouth County.

It contains a Catholic population of roughly 302,484 who attend 84 parishes and 11 mission churches in southeaster Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands.


Voices

‘You gave your children good ground for hope’

Archbishop José H. Gomez

The following is adapted from the archbishop’s homily at the annual Mass in Recognition of Immigrants July 20, after which thousands lined up, inside and outside of Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral, to venerate the traveling relic of Santo Toribio Romo. 

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