The History of Saint Dominic Parish 1911– 2011
“But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us…made us alive together with Christ…” Ephesians: 2:4-5 (NRSV).
In the beginning….
By happy coincidence the centennial anniversary of the parish of Saint Dominic coincides with the probable 500th anniversary of the very first Mass celebrated in this corner of the Lord’s vineyard. It was in all likelihood celebrated by a Portuguese friar on the shores of the Taunton River in Berkley. No records exist, for the friar and his congregation never returned to their native land to tell their story. But they left some evidence of their presence among us, chiseled on a rock on the river’s bank.
Five hundred years ago was the age of great exploration. The great European kingdoms were looking to expand their power, to exploit the wealth and resources in the lands beyond the seas and to bring Christi-anity to the natives in the new world discovered by Columbus in 1492. Portugal, Spain’s principal rival, was looking for a route to the Orient by sailing along the coast of Africa and by sending voyages of explo-ration westward. Pedro Álvares Cabral discovered Brazil in 1500. The Corte-Real brothers, Gaspar and Miguel, sailed from the Azores, exploring the coast of what became known as the Canadian Maritime Provinces. When Gaspar failed to return from his voyage of exploration and was presumed lost, Miguel asked the King for permission to organize a crew and look for his brother.
Such voyages were very dangerous, and returning home safely was by no means certain; many voyagers were never heard from again. A priest or two usually accompanied the sailors to minister to the crew throughout the voyage, to convert and baptize the natives in the newly discovered lands and to establish missions in newly established colonies.
Miguel Corte Real and his crew sailed west from the Azores in 1502 and never returned. But many histo-rians and anthropologists have long claimed to have discovered his calling card, engraved on what is called Dighton Rock: Miguel Corte Real: 1511 along with the unmistakable insignia of the Portuguese Order of Christ. If Corte Real came ashore and lived long enough, no doubt he arranged for Mass to be celebrated for himself and his crew. History has not recorded what became of these first pioneers. Roger Williams, the founder of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, writing in 1643, remarked on the “light skinned members of the Wampanoags who had Portuguese words in their vocabulary.”
The Catholic Presence in Colonial Massachusetts
Catholics were a persecuted minority in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Mary Glover was put to death in 1688 proclaiming her Catholic faith. Although Catholics were forbidden from living in the colony some of the socially prominent settlers had Irish servants who undoubtedly were secret Catholics. The first Catholics in Bristol County were probably the Acadians, celebrated in Longfellow’s Evangeline, forced to leave their native Nova Scotia. In 1755 two thousand of them were abandoned on the docks of Bos-ton to be settled in the existing communities; Swansea was assigned a family of seven Acadians, (a cou-ple and their five children). Diadema Boiston, probably one of the Acadians allotted to Swansea, was still living in 1827 and may have been Swansea’s only Catholic at the time. She was very old and with-out any means of support, dependent on relief from the town and the charity of her neighbors. Israel Brayton was in charge of supplying her needs on behalf of the town and he visited her on a regular ba-sis, sometimes sending a doctor or a nurse when she was ill. When she was fit and able she sometimes hired herself out to do domestic chores.
Fall River was a part of Freetown included in Freeman’s Purchase in 1656. It later became the town of Fallriver in 1803 and was part of the hinterlands of the Archdiocese of Baltimore from which the Dio-cese of Boston was created in 1808. Swansea, originally part of a tract of land called Wannamoisett by the natives, was incorporated as a town in 1667.
Catholicism takes root in Southeast Rhode Island and Massachusetts
Swansea’s oldest religious congregation, the First Baptist Church, established in 1663 in modern day Barrington, moved in 1667 to Swansea. The First Congregational Church, known as the “white church,” was established in 1680.
In the early years of the nineteenth century, Mason Barney, owner of the shipyard bearing his name, felt that his workers were lacking the spiritual comforts and the moral strictures provided by religion. He built a Baptist chapel for their use on Old Barneyville Road, which gradually fell into disuse after the shipyard closed, a casualty of the financial panic of 1858.
In 1832 Father Peter Corry was given charge of the spiritual needs of the faithful in Providence, Paw-tucket, Taunton, Fall River and Newport. The very first house of Catholic worship in Fall River, the chapel of St. John the Baptist, was built in that same year on the site of today’s cathedral on Spring Street, to serve the spiritual needs of 450 Catholics.
In 1872 the Diocese of Providence was created from the Archdiocese of Boston and the area currently comprising the Diocese of Fall River was ceded to the newly created Diocese. The Catholic population of the Massachusetts part of the Providence Diocese numbered 30,000 souls. Bishop Hendricken es-tablished the parishes of Sacred Heart and Saint Joseph in Fall River, the nearest Catholic churches to the east of Swansea, until Saint Patrick’s parish was established in Somerset in 1873. To the west, Swansea’s Catholics could attend Mass at St. Mary’s church in Warren, Saint Mary’s in Bristol and Saint Joseph’s in Fox Point.
In 1904 Swansea became a part of the Diocese of Fall River, the first American diocese created by Saint Pius X. There were still no Catholic parishes in Swansea, Rehoboth or Seekonk.
Swansea from 1910
By 1910 Swansea’s ethnic demographics had changed; the population was no longer solidly white An-glo-Saxon Protestant. Catholic immigrants from Italy, Ireland, Quebec and the Azores, among others, were working for Mason Barney’s grandson, Algernon Barney, and other local farmers. Swansea produce was shipped to New York on the Fall River Line’s daily evening journey and to Boston on the evening train, or carted to Providence to be sold in produce markets the next morning. The immigrants “farmed and fished. They had large families and were ambitious for their children. The youngsters worked hard in the fields but they also attended school regularly. Soon they were taking their places with Yankee neighbors in town affairs.”
Algernon Barney purchased the unused Old Barneyville Road Baptist chapel and gave it to the Diocese of Fall River to ease the hardships encountered by his hired hands in traveling long distances to attend Mass. These immigrants joined ranks under the leadership of Theodule Gamache and petitioned Fall River’s second bishop, Daniel Feehan, to send them a priest who could minister to the multi-lingual Catholic population in Swansea. St. Dominic was established as a mission of Saint Anne’s church and the Dominican Father, Bernard Percot was sent to min-ister to the needs of Swansea’s Catholic population.
On October 21, 1911 the mission became the Parish of Saint Dominic and Father Percot became the founding pastor. The very first parish Mass was celebrated on November 5th on the Brook Side Farm of Norbert P. Berard. On December 22, 1911, the old church donated by Mason Barney’s grandson became the Saint Fran-cis Xavier Chapel as a mission of the newly created St. Dom-inic parish.
The chapel must have come with no land for on All Saints Day 1913, Thomas E. Barry of Swansea, Manuel King, An-tone Silva and John Noonan of Rehoboth, trustees of the North Swansea Catholic Club, purchased the land surrounding the chapel from Manuel de Braga Chaves, also of Rehoboth, for two hundred dollars. Manuel de Braga granted the North Swansea Catholic Club a mortgage for two hundred dollars that was discharged on the feast of the Immaculate Conception 1916.
Eileen Dubiel, now 82 years old, grew up across the street from the chapel. Her grandmother, Catherine Burn Barry was in charge of maintaining the sanctuary, taking care of the altar linens and Mass vestments, as well as assuring that the altar was decorated with the flowers of the season. She and two other ladies, Elizabeth Morrissey and Catherine Galvin were also in charge of cleaning the chapel. Ms. Dubiel remembers her grandmother and her two friends wrapping their heads in dust cloths, with broom, mop and pail in hand, devoting an entire day to giving the chapel a thorough cleaning. The Saint Francis Chapel remained a mission chapel until it was severely damaged by the hurricane of 1938.
In 1938 few people in Swansea had cars and getting to our parish church from Barneyville was not as easy as it is today. The men of Barneyville offered to repair and restore the chapel. However, Father Ponte, perhaps tired of driving out there every Sunday, in good and bad weather, in rain, snow and wind, had had enough. He used this opportunity to veto the proposal; the Saint Francis mission chapel was thus demolished.
The New Parish of Saint Dominic
If we all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, then St. Dominic’s Parish is the mother church of Swansea’s Catholic parishes. Before it came to be in 1911, there were no parishes in town. Now, Catholics no longer needed to travel to the northeast to attend Mass in Somerset nor cross the Taunton River to Fall River. It would also be unnecessary for them to travel west to Bristol, Warren or Fox Point.
In 1911 Swansea was a sparsely populated farming commu-nity with a population of 1,978 souls but it was growing, for there had been an increase of 139 people since the 1905 state census and the next 5 years would see an increase of 550 people. Bishop Feehan’s friend, William Howard Taft was President; the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre. A gallon of outdoor paint cost $1.18, sugar cost 5 cents per pound and milk sold for 9 cents per quart. Robert Frost published his first book of poetry. Electricity came to town on Sep-tember 21, 1911. The town report for that year notes 32 births, 40 deaths and 22 marriages in Swansea. The last marriage of the year was that of George A. Martin and Florida Bonnoyer, both of Swansea, on the 26th of December, officiated by Father Percot. He recorded the marriage of Cyprien Cote of Fall River to Mary Alice Libel of Swansea on April 15, 1912 and the marriage of Silvio Marceau and Mattia Morin, both of Swansea, on February 3, 1913. There were also two others in that same year. Marie Blanche Lavoie, daughter of André Lavoie and his wife Denise Cote, was baptized by Father Percot on November 4, 1911. A notation in the baptismal register records her marriage at St. Mathieu’s parish church in Fall River on June 5, 1937 to Raul Messier. November of 1911 was a busy month for Father Percot; he also baptized José de Sousa, son of Manuel de Sousa and Luisa dos Anjos on the 11th and Joseph Gagne, son of Joseph Gagne and Marie Canuel on the 12th.
The choice of the Dominican Father Bernard Percot, as the founding pastor of a parish named for the founder of his order, was serendipitous and the journey that eventually brought him to Swansea was far from ordinary. Father’s congregation was multi-lingual with many non-English speaking families in the parish and Fr. Percot was a true polyglot. Father Bernard, born near Paris on May 24, 1861, spoke his na-tive French. From the age of two he spent the next 10 years in Spain, his father having been appointed consul to that country. By the time the family moved to Lisbon, where his diplomat father had been trans-ferred, Father Bernard had become fluent in Spanish. Spending his adolescent years in Portugal, he also became fluent in Portuguese. The family returned to France and when Bernard finished his education he completed a compulsory stint in the army. Discerning a vocation, he began his novitiate in the Notre Dame de Champs Seminary in Paris followed by four years in Corbora in Corsica, where he learned Ital-ian, and was ordained a priest in 1891. His first assignment was in Amiens, but it was brief; September, 1892 found him assigned in Fall River only to be reassigned shortly thereafter to Lewiston, Maine. From there he was recalled by his superiors who assigned him as professor and director of a college. In the meantime France had become very anti-clerical. Religious orders were suppressed in 1903 and Fr. Percot sought refuge in Spain. In 1906 Father Percot again joined his Dominican brethren in Fall River and was assigned as pastor of a Portuguese parish in Lowell, Massachusetts. It was in Lowell that Bishop Feehan discovered this multi-talented Dominican with extraordinary life-experiences and called upon him to or-ganize Swansea’s first parish.
Father Bernard’s organizational and administrative talents must have been extraordinary. He was able to bridge the linguistic, ethnic and cultural differences of his flock and create a cohesive parish family that not only survived the challenges of a fledgling parish, but future growing pains as well. Alexander Boulé, one of the leaders of the group who pressed the bishop for a new parish, donated the land for the new church and Louis G. Destremps was selected to design the new church. Destremps was himself an immi-grant from Quebec who began his life in America as a carpenter and builder then went on to study archi-tecture. Lest the simplicity of our country church suggest that Destremps was an architect for small pro-jects, it should be remembered that he was the architect of several church buildings in Fall River includ-ing the parish churches of Saint Mathieu, Blessed Sacrament, Saint Rock, the Notre Dame School and its magnificent church and the Jesus Marie Convent (now known as Lafayette Place). He also designed the Bark Street School in Swansea. The latter two are now both on the register of historic places. Construction was contracted to Athenor Dussault. With the help of labor donated during the winter months by the men of the parish, the building progressed so quickly that in three month’s time Bishop Feehan returned to bless the new building where Mass was celebrated for the first time on March 3, 1912, just four months after the very first Mass was celebrated on the Berard farm.
The interior of the church had originally been entirely finished in matched V grooved southern hard pine and it was only later that the sanctuary was plastered over. All of the windows were donated. The rose window cost $130.00 and the other windows cost $125.00. With mill workers in Fall River earning about ten dollars a week, a stained glass window represented three month’s earnings before taxes.
The statue of our patron saint appears to have been donated by Margaret Medei-ros in memory of the Anibal and Margaret Medeiros family. Margaret and Anibal Medeiros were parishioners of St. Dominic for many years and had a farm on Maple Street. They were very generous to both the parish and the Holy Ghost Brotherhood. When the Commonwealth of Massachusetts took part of the broth-erhood’s land by eminent domain for the construction of the 195 highway, the Medeiros family and their neighbors, the Pavaos, gave some of their land adjoin-ing the brotherhood, to the Holy Ghost Brotherhood.
The relic of Saint Dominic, a tiny piece of wrist bone, which hangs from his neck and is presented for veneration during the annual parish novena, was a gift from Father Timothy Goldrick, pastor of Saint Nicholas of Myra Parish in North Dighton.
The statue of Our Lady with her infant Son was donated by Wollaston Blaise and family and their gift is both a testament to their faith in God and their faith in their son Ernest. Wolliston V. Blaise, a farmer, who first appears in the Swansea Directory of 1913, and his wife, Helen Dumas, lived on Oak Street until 1946.
Through Mary’s Intercession
A few years ago our parish secretary, Dora Arruda Pacheco, was visited by an elderly gentleman who needed a parish record. He remarked to Dora that he had made a visit to the church and asked if she knew the story behind our statue of the Virgin Mary. He narrated a tale of a young man arrested and accused of a crime he did not commit. He was going to trial and his conviction seemed certain. His par-ents prayed for justice and vowed that if he were acquitted they would donate to the church a statue of the Virgin and her infant Son in gratitude for her powerful intercession. Their son was ultimately exonerated, and the statue stands as a monu-ment to their faith and their son’s deliverance. The story had all the makings of a pious legend, but legends usually have a basis in fact. Our long time sexton Peter Urban thought that the statue was connected to a deceased parishioner, Eva Morin. Some sleuthing by Marina Orosz that would have put Jane Marple to shame, established the truth behind the legend. Marina contacted Eva’s daughter, Winifred Blanchette, who told the story of a family’s anguish and the triumph of faith. When the details provided by Ms. Blanchette were compared with the newspa-per accounts of the time we learned that Dalpha J. Pelletier was shot while visiting at a home on Vinni-cum Road. He later died of his wounds in a Fall River hospital. The police had several suspects and Wol-laston’s son Ernest was taken in for questioning in connection with the death of Mr. Pelletier. Eventually the truth was established, the murderer identified and Ernest was exonerated. His family had never doubted his innocence and prayed unceasingly that the truth would come to light.
Eva Morin (1903-1989) had an understandably proprietary interest in the statue throughout the rest of her life. After Vatican II there was a misguided and unpopular movement afoot to rid our churches of their statues. When one of our pastors began suggesting that such a fate might be awaiting our statues, Eva Morin is said to have told the pastor in no uncertain terms what would become of him if he even tried to take Mary from her niche. The pastor must have concluded that discretion was the better part of valor for Mary won the day and continues to look down with tenderness on us poor banished children of Eve.
Mary also suffered an amputation of sorts. During the pastorate of Father Campbell, Claire St. Laurent, an accomplished artist, volunteered to give St. Dominic and our Lady complete makeovers. Claire and her husband Maurice (died May 2010), head Eucharistic Minister at the time, had a special devotion to Our Lady. Maurice often led the faithful who attended weekday Mass in the recitation of the rosary. They also had a granddaughter that they must have adored. When Claire restored the statue, the Virgin had two shod feet. Claire asked Fr. Campbell if she could “amputate” Mary’s feet and substitute them with feet made from a mold taken of her beloved granddaughter’s feet. The request must have given Father Camp-bell pause, but he had faith in Claire’s talent as an artist and he consented. Has there ever been a more unique monument to a grandmother’s love? When the statue was returned to her niche Father Bill commented from the pulpit that she looked twenty years younger! He never mentioned that she had also acquired new feet.
The Early Years
The parish thrived under its first pastor and by 1921 numbered 150 families. The Barneyville chapel was free and clear of all debt and Father Percot reported confidently at the parish’s 10th anniversary celebra-tion that St. Dominic’s would also soon be free of all debt. In 1921 the parish had a Holy Name Society, a Rosary Confraternity, the Children of Mary and the Ladies of Saint Anne. The church and chapel choirs were under the direction of Jean Vincent and Rega La Boeuf. Father Percot is credited with helping at least one young man discern a vocation to the priesthood. Bernard Remmillard served as Father Ber-nard’s altar boy at Saint Dominic’s for many years, eventually studying for the priesthood in Canada where he was later ordained.
In 1922 a large portion of our parish was separated to become Saint Michael Parish in Ocean Grove. Lat-er, in 1958, a further separation occurred between Saint Michael’s and our parish to become Our Lady of Fatima Parish. Our parish boundaries have remained essentially unchanged since then: beginning at a point on the Rhode Island State Line (near George Street) where the boundary line with Seekonk and Swansea join, the boundaries of Saint Dominic Parish proceed easterly along the boundary line of Swansea to the east bank of the Warren River, then northerly along the east bank of that river to Provi-dence Street in the town of Rehoboth; then easterly on Providence Street to Peckham Road, then nor-therly on Peckham Road to Brook Street. The boundaries proceed along Brook Street easterly to Plain Street, then south along Plain Street to Spring Street, then east on Spring Street to Hornbine Road, then southerly on Hornbine Road to Hortonville Road. They proceed south on Hortonville Road to Hales River Road, then continue only on the west side of Hortonville Road to Milford Road. The lines resume on Milford Road at the Coles River westerly to Route 6. On Route 6, the east boundary line is the Coles River Bridge; the line proceeds westerly to Maple Avenue, then southerly to Old Warren Road. It pro-ceeds westerly on Old Warren Road to the point of origin at the Rhode Island State Line.
When he left in 1927, after 16 years of tireless labor, Father Bernard left behind a thriving and well estab-lished parish to his successor. Fr. Percot spent his remaining years at the Saint Anne’s priory in Fall River and died on July 16, 1937. For his services to the Portuguese immigrant community, Father Bernard had been decorated with the Order of Christ by King Carlos. He and our current pastor, Father Joseph Viveiros, hold the record for the second longest serving pastors of Saint Dominic Parish.
Father Percot’s Successors
Father Percot’s successor was the Canadian born Louis Prevost, nephew of the legendary Monsignor Jean Prevost. He was our first pastor in residence. Fr. Percot had spent weekends as a guest in the house directly across from the church, but spent the week in the priory in Fall River. Annie Sousa’s mother, Mariana Melo, who moved to Rehoboth in 1923, remembered that priests did not own cars back then and someone from the parish had to go into Fall River on Saturday to bring Father Percot to Swansea and take him back to the Priory on Sunday evening. Claudette Martin re-members her husband’s grandfather telling stories about hitching up the horse to the buggy and traveling from Somerset to attend Mass at Saint Dominic’s until the parish of Saint Louis de France was created in 1928. Father Prevost’s pastorate was very brief. The Bishop appointed him as founding pastor of Saint Louis de France parish, which had been a mission of our parish, in the northern part of town. In 1958 the Holy Father named him a domestic prelate. Monsignor Prevost died on June 5, 1970.
The distinction of longest serving pastor of Saint Dominic parish belongs to Father Anthony Oliveira Ponte who was assigned in September 1928 and remained until October 1951 when he was transferred to Our Lady of the Angels parish in Fall River.
Father Ponte was born on Christmas Eve 1888 in Ponta Delgada, S. Miguel, Azores to Virgínio João Ponte and Maria de Oliveira. After his high school studies he entered the seminary in Angra to prepare for the priesthood. At the age of 22 he and his family came to the United States. The seminarian continued his studies for the next four years at Saint Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore. He was ordained on April 18, 1914 by Bishop Feehan. After several assignments as a curate, he was assigned his first pastorate in 1928 when he was assigned to Saint Dominic. His second, and last assignment, was very brief. He died in February 1952 at the age of 64 years, after a long illness. He was a priest for 38 of those years.
First communion, confirmation and death registers before Father Ponte’s time have not been located in the rectory. The earliest recorded first communion was on June 21, 1929 when 27 children received the Eucharist for the first time. In 1929 seven parishioners died and were buried from the church. Confirma-tions were not held yearly and it appears that the sacrament was conferred every four years. In October of 1931 Bishop James Cassidy administered the sacrament of Confirmation to 108 people in our parish church. The next visit from the Bishop was four years later.
Father Ponte’s sense of humor was recalled by the late Wilfrid Courville shortly before his death, to this author. The statue of our patron saint originally included his dog clenching a flaming torch in the grip of his jaw. For whatever reason, the dog’s presence bothered Father Ponte. Either the hound took up too much space or his presence disturbed Father’s sense of symmetry. Father Ponte decided the dog needed to go and arranged to have the dog sawed away from the statue of Saint Dominic. Father Ponte decided to have some fun with the dog and the little boy who lived across the street from the church. In the dark of night Father Ponte and his sexton carried the dog across the street and placed him on the neighbor’s front yard. The next morning, Father Ponte, spying out from behind the rectory’s curtains, laughed to the point of distress at the little boy’s reaction upon exiting the house for school, only to be greeted by the seemingly miraculous apparition of Saint Dominic’s hound, complete with flaming torch!
Father Ponte was also a tireless laborer in his assigned corner of the Lord’s vineyard. It was during his pas-torate that the rectory was built in 1930.
The Women’s Guild was formed during his administration. In 1951 a dozen women met to organize themselves as the guild. They elected their first slate officers: Mildred Porter was elected president; Julia Rose was elected vice president; Florence Ingram was elected secretary and Jane Borden was elected treasurer. Bylaws were developed and dues were set at two dollars per year. The by-laws clearly defined the purpose for the guild: to cement with bonds of friendship the women of the parish, to increase the spiritual life of the women, to increase an agency of interest in the physical and social life of parish families, and to initiate a sphere of Catholic action. The pastor was designated as the guild’s spiritual director. From its beginning the guild has been an avenue for parish ministry, fund-raising and parish socials. Their parish breakfasts and suppers are always sold out well in advance. The guild celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2001.
One parishioner, Gertrude Lopes A’Vant, who came to the parish as a child, recalled at the time of our 90th anniversary celebrations that “Fr…Ponte used to pick us up at the end of Vinnicum Road …we would all pile into his car and he would bring us to Mass at St. Francis Chapel on Barneyville Road. I guess heat was expensive then because I remember the chapel was always cold in the winter time. I used to feel bad for Father Ponte because of this and I would pray for him often. Father was a very good priest…Even when I was young he was kind to me; he always called me by my first name. This was so im-portant to me because I didn’t always feel good about myself….Father Ponte always made me feel good about myself. He and his mother would visit parishioners from time to time…When I think back I remember how Fr. Ponte loved all his parishioners…and took time for them…”
In October 1951 Father Ponte was succeeded by Father Thomas F. Walsh who was our fourth pastor until being named pastor of Saint Joseph’s parish in Dighton in 1954. He arranged the purchase of a new organ to perpetuate the memory of his predecessor, Father Ponte. Although his stay was short, it was a busy and productive pastorate. The land surrounding the church was converted into a parking facility for the convenience of the increasing number of parish-ioners who traveled to Mass by automobile. He also engaged the services of the Sisters of Mercy for the religious instruction of the parish children on Saturday mornings. Father Walsh, who died in June 1980, used to arrange to give a special blessing on Easter Sun-day to the parish children who had not yet received their first communion.
Father James Dury was appointed our fifth pastor on October 24, 1954 serving until February 1957 when he was appointed pastor of Corpus Christi parish on Cape Cod. Father Dury combined the need for fundraising with the need to improve a sense of parish community. He organized parish entertainments including talent shows (it was, after all, the radio and TV era of Ted Mack and the “Original Amateur Hour.”) and musicals. He also reorganized the Catholic Charities Annual Appeal in the parish and promot-ed the establishment of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society in our parish. Although it was established in our parish in 1959, it was not chartered by the Society’s headquarters in Paris until June 5, 1961. Thus, our Saint Vincent de Paul Society’s celebration of a half century of service to the poor and disadvantaged coin-cides with our centenary celebration.
Founded in 1833 by six university students in Paris, including Frederic Ozanam, under the patronage of Saint Vincent de Paul, its purpose is to provide direct aid to those among us who suffer, and to help indi-viduals reduce and even eliminate the causes of their suffering themselves. The members of our parish so-ciety encounter Christ in the poor on our behalf. They are not social workers; they feed, clothe and shel-ter first and ask questions later to determine what the recipients need to overcome their difficulties. In hard times, like the ones we currently face, the society is the safety net that catches those who slip through the “cracks of the bureaucracy. On the approach of every holy day our parishioners are always reminded by our pastors that the collection will support the efforts of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society to attend to the needs of the poor and needy among us.
A review of the first book of the society’s accounts and minutes beginning in 1959, records the following founding members, some of whom were honorary: Wilfrid Courville, Manuel da Câmara Vieira, Harvey E. Leonard, Sr., (who died in August 1960) and his son Harvey, Jr., John R. Mello, Manuel F. Travers, Thomas E. Ryan, Norman Ashley, John Carpenter, Edward Vigneau and Louis Chabot, our sexton until his retirement in 1980. In those days the donations in the poor box averaged $23.00 per month and holy day collections averaged $100.00. The members met weekly and took a collection among themselves. Two members would make weekly visits to the patients at the Rose Hawthorne Cancer Home in Fall Riv-er. The Surgeon General had not yet found a link between cancer and smoking for the “visitors” habitually left cartons of Pall Malls and Camels for the enjoyment and comfort of the patients! In the first 3 months of operation the society helped 32 people (6 families, 12 adults, and 20 children). Initial expenses on be-half of the needy included payments for heating oil deliveries, food, a winter coat, a pair of shoes, and prescription medications. Later payments included medical bills not covered by medical insurance. From the very beginning Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets as well as Christmas gifts for the children have been an annual project of our St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Father Dury died at the Catholic Memorial Home in Fall River on April 7, 1976. He was succeeded by Father George E. Sullivan, our sixth pastor. He remained until September, 1961 when he was appointed pastor of Saint Jo-seph’s parish in Fall River. Fr. Sullivan was respected for his witty rhetoric as well as the range of his interests and knowledge. He was often in demand as a speaker at social and civic events. He had a special interest in developing social and sporting activities for the young and was very involved in the Catholic Youth Organization. During World War II he had been an army chaplain serv-ing in both the European and Pacific theatres and retired with the rank of major. During his pastorate there were 1,200 souls under his care and the sisters from Mount Saint Mary Academy in Fall River taught 300 children their cate-chism. The Stations of the Cross in our church were installed during Father Sullivan’s pastorate. Father Sullivan was assisted on weekends by Fathers Adalbert Szkanny of St. Vincent’s Home in Fall River and Rene Chabot of La Sallette Seminary in Attleboro. Pope Paul VI elevated Father Sullivan to domestic prelate with the rank of monsignor. He was the moderator for the Guild for the Blind. Monsignor Sullivan retired in 1974 and died on June 14, 1980.
Father William Jordan was assigned as our seventh pastor just as the parish celebrated its golden jubilee in 1961. His arrival in June was too late for putting together a fitting celebration in time for the actual anni-versary in November, but Father Jordan was not deterred and neither were the members of the jubilee committee. Together Father Jordan and the committee organized a fitting celebration for June 1962, the only date available to Bishop James L. Connolly, who joined us for the festivities. The Bishop was joined by the pastor, former pastors and guest clergy for a solemn Te Deum in the church. Father Sullivan was the principal homilist and after the ceremonies a banquet followed at the Knights of Columbus Hall. Fa-ther Jordan was transferred to St. Louis Church in Fall River in April 1967. He was plagued by poor health and struggled with emphysema until he died on August 22, 1972.
Our eighth pastor was Father James McCarthy, who, like our current pastor, had a special affection for the deaf and hearing impaired and was, for many years, chaplain to the deaf. His stay as our pastor was brief, serving as our pastor for only two years. He was named pastor of Saint John’s Parish in 1969. Father McCarthy was blessed with good health and longevity; he was 88 years old when he died on March 5, 2007.
Father McCarthy’s successor, Father Leo Curry, our ninth pastor, also had a brief pastorate at Saint Dominic’s. He was assigned in the spring of 1969 but poor health forced him to step down in October of the same year. His health continued to decline and he was eventually assigned as Chaplain at the Catholic Memorial Home. Father Curry soldiered his best until his death at age 64 on May 5, 1973.
When Father Curry left us in October 1969, Monsignor Thomas Harrington was appointed interim ad-ministrator until February 1970 when Father Daniel A. Carey was appointed our 10th pastor. At the time of his appointment, Monsignor Harrington was Vice Chancellor of the diocese and a cannon lawyer. He would go on to become rector of the cathedral. His articles and reviews on issues and topics pertaining to canon law were published in journals such as The Jurist, Catholic Lawyer, and Studia Canonica. He was also a fire department chaplain for 40 years and detailed his experiences of those years in A Call to Save: The Memoir of a Fire Chaplain (Spinner Publications, Inc. New Bedford: 2006).
The immensely popular Father Daniel A. Carey became our tenth pastor in 1970. His decade as pastor was richly productive. The parish now numbered one thousand families. He recognized that the parish was outgrowing the exist-ing facilities. The town of Swansea was growing rapidly with new housing devel-opments on Bushee Road and other areas of town. Father Carey decided to build a multi purpose parish center that could be used as classroom space for religious instruction, parish social events, society meetings, and for the celebra-tion of Mass when the church could not accommodate the ever growing num-ber of faithful. Father Carey made sure that the new facility had kitchen facili-ties to accommodate the ever popular church suppers. Many a parishioner attending Mass on a hot sweltering August weekend in our air conditioned parish center has of-ten blessed Father Carey’s memory and said a prayer or two for the repose of his soul. When Father left in 1980 the center was named in his honor.
Following the Second Vatican Council, the interior of our church was renovated to conform to the liturgical changes and innovations. The “gingerbread” altar, such a prominent feature in all churches before Vatican II, was removed. One of our parishioners, Wilfrid Courville, was a gifted and skilled carpenter. He was put in charge of the removal of the old altar and the construction of the new altar of repose, the back paneling, and the altar of sacrifice. In December 1988 Wilfrid Courville was awarded the Marian Medal by Bishop Cronin. In the parish bulletin of December 4, 1998, Father Campbell noted that Wilfrid had “built the entire altar in the church…the main altar, the portable altar and the reredos, thus saving the parish thousands of dollars…” When a later pastor decided to move the tabernacle and statues of Saint Joseph and the Sacred Heart out of the sanctuary, he called upon Wilfrid, by now retired and in failing health, to supervise the removal of “his” altar in order to minimize the damage to the paneling. It must have been with some ambivalence that Wilfrid guided our Sexton Peter Urban in the removal of the altar of repose. In typical fashion Wilfrid, who died in 1998, never expressed an opinion about the wisdom of the changes ordered by the pastor, which were short-lived and reversed shortly after he left.
Father Carey continued in priestly service for another decade serving as chaplain at the Catholic Memori-al home until shortly before his death at the age of 81 on April 19, 1990. It was during Father Carey’s pas-torate that our parish, which had grown to one thousand families, was finally large enough to justify and support the assignment of pastoral assistants.
Father William Campbell, known affectionately as “Father Bill”, became our eleventh pastor in June of 1980. He brought his gift and love of music with him. Before discerning a vocation to the priest-hood Father Bill had been pursuing his studies in music. Under his direction there were two choirs, traditional and folk, at Saint Dominic’s as well as the hand-bell choir that performed for Easter and Christmas. Our parish became celebrated for its liturgies and for the Easter and Christmas concerts held in the church which were opened to the public. Father Bill promoted congregational singing and glowed when he heard comments in the community that the “folks at Saint Dominic’s sing like Baptists.” For the shy and self-conscious among us, Father Bill was known to admonish that “if God didn’t give you a good voice, give it back to him!”
Father Campbell was a social activist and worked hard to implement the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the role of the laity. Father Campbell reminded us that the parish was not just the place where one attended Mass on weekends. Parish ministries with strong lay leadership and participation were strongly encouraged. Eucharistic ministries, ministries to the sick and home-bound, and social action committees were organized under his guidance.
It was also during his pastorate that the Pro-Life movement took root in our parish. Terry Rodrigues and Rita Pavao began attending prayer meetings at the home of Jim Wassil who was trying to establish pro-life committees in every parish. With the pastor’s encouragement our parish pro-life committee was formed and began meeting weekly for prayer, reflection and planning for social action. The committee sponsors an annual pro life weekend, complete with parish breakfast, fundraising auction and a baby shower, which benefit pro-life causes such as the Haitian Health Foundation, the Saint Anne’s Oncology Center, Sloane Kettering Cancer Research, the Sacred Heart Soup Kitchen, and a sponsored child from India. Roses are sold on Mother’s Day to support the Massachusetts Citizens for Life and a Baby Bottle campaign benefits A Woman’s Concern. The Pro-Life Committee organizes parish campaigns to lobby Congress and the Massachusetts Legislature on behalf of pro-life causes. Although small in number, as of this writing the committee consists of Pat Fox, Isabel Papa, Annie Souza, Terry Rodrigues, Rita Pavao, Jan Alley, Ruth Murray and Sheila Stansfield. Recently the committee lost Jean Reed and Mary Hogan. The committee is tenacious in its efforts on behalf of the unborn and others marginalized or unvalued by society. They fight for the right to life and proclaim the dignity and sanctity of all life, from conception to death, not by force of arms but with the weapons of the spirit. 2 Corinthians 10:4 (RSV)
It was during Father Bill’s pastorate that the parish celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1986. Bishop Daniel A. Cronin concelebrated the anniversary liturgy and joined parishioners for a celebratory banquet at the Venus de Milo Restaurant.
Father Bill felt that the needs of the parish had outgrown the capacity of the physical plant and he con-cluded that an entirely new plant was needed. The land on which the parish church, rectory and center were built could not accommodate any significant expansion, especially in view of increasingly stringent laws relative to land use. At the same time the Diocese was studying the possibility of establishing a new parish in Rehoboth, which to this day has no Catholic church of its own. Potential outcomes included suppressing Saint Dominic’s Parish in Swansea and/or moving it to Rehoboth. Dr. Richard Mello of Rehoboth offered land for the construction of a new parish church.
Father Bill began to look around for a new site for an ultra-modern state of the art parish church, rectory and multi-purpose parish center. The estate of Joseph Mello (no relation to Dr. Mello) offered to sell a very large piece of land on Old Fall River Road for well below market value. Discussions were begun with the Bishop, Father Campbell and Mrs. Jeanne Mello. Architectural plans for a new plant were drawn up; tentative purchase and sale agreements were signed by Bishops Cronin and O’Malley. In the end, however, after careful review of the statistics, demographics, the number of parishioners, projected revenues, etc., the bishop decided against establishing a parish in Rehoboth or moving Saint Dominic’s to a new location. Father Bill sadly resigned himself to the decision. Shortly thereafter, the economy took one of its downturns. Parish revenues dropped and paying the bills became a very real challenge. Father Bill never ceased thanking the almighty Providence that had guided the Bishop in deciding against a potential-ly financially ruinous expansion.
Father Campbell had one of the longer pastorates, leaving us in June 1994 when he was named pastor of Saint Patrick’s parish in Fall River. It was during his pastorate that the shrine to Our Lady of Medjugorje was built on the grounds behind the church. The statue was a gift to the parish from Rose Sousa who had
accompanied Father Bill on one of his pilgrimages to Croatia.
Father Campbell’s successor, Father John Andrews, came to us after many years assigned on Cape Cod. His pastorate as our twelfth pastor was very brief. Father Jack came to us in June in 1994 but became ill in 1995 and requested a leave of absence. His parochial vicar, Father Bernard Vanasse, ordained in 1978, was appointed administrator in Father Jack’s absence. Father Andrews’ return to the parish was brief and he left us in October 1995.
Father Jack was not here long enough for his parishioners to come to know and under-stand him and his personality, nor was he able to get to know and understand his pa-rishioners. But Father Andrews was a generous and giving person with a dry sense of humor that was much appreciated by those who knew him well. He was also a strong advocate of personal prayer and devotion and could often be seen sitting quietly in a pew praying from his Breviary. Father Andrews returned to Cape Cod where he en-joyed considerable success and the respect and admiration of his parishioners on the Cape. He retired in June 2011.
Parochial Vicars Stanley Barney, who later left the priesthood, assisted while still a transitional deacon from June 1974 to May 1975 when he was ordained. Father James E. Green was assistant pastor from July 1975 until August 1979 when he was assigned pastor of the Sacred Heart Parish in Oak Bluffs. Father Green had been a military chaplain before returning to the Diocese. After his retirement he lived in Swansea until his death on April 26, 2002.
Some priests, while not formally assigned as parochial vicars, helped out on an ad hoc basis. They included Jesuit Father Winsper, who died unexpectedly in 1970, the very popular Jesuit Father Paul E. Carrier, Ph.D., who served from September 1979 to August 1983 under both Father Carey and his successor Father Campbell. He went on to pursue graduate studies, followed by full time teaching duties at Fairfield College in Connecticut. Father Paul, a native of the Notre Dame Parish in Fall River and graduate of Prevost High School, made his final profession of vows as a Jesuit in our parish church on May 15, 1983.
The Augustinian Assumptionist Father Joseph F. Richard served from September 1983 to December 1984 when he was reassigned to a parish in Taunton. He died at age 94 in 2008. He was much loved for his sense of humor that became quickly apparent to all those who met him. In retirement he would return on occasion for short stints filling in for vacationing pastors. While he had an aversion to air-conditioning, the rest of us, attending Mass in the parish center in August, might have been blessing Father Carey’s memory for our air-conditioned com-fort. Father Richard’s sermons were especially interesting when he recalled his order’s days trying to minister to the small number of Catholics in the Soviet Union.
During much of Father Campbell’s tenure here he was assisted by Father Arthur Wingate who served from February 1985. Father Wingate grew up in the cathedral parish in Fall River and discerned a vocation to the priesthood very early on. Father Wingate had a somewhat reserved, retiring personality that sometimes masked his dynamism for the nitty-gritty of pastoral life. His pastor described him as “quiet and prayerful”. He readily and routinely traveled to parish homes to anoint the sick, bless a new home, or perhaps just to take a cup a tea. His sermons were always well prepared and reflected the depth of his knowledge in theology and church history. He tended to be a homebody, so a parishioner dropping by the rectory on some unexpected or last minute business, or needing to go to confession, usually found Father Wingate ready to assist.
When Father Wingate was reassigned as chaplain to Catholic Memorial Home, he was succeeded by Father Albert J. Ryan. Father Ryan, originally from Roslindale, served for many years as a military chaplain. If ever there was a typical example of Irish humor in a priest, then Father Ryan personified it. He had a natural way with people and it was difficult not to like him. If he hadn’t become a priest he surely would have had a successful career in politics. He had a gift for bringing his humor into his sermons which were nevertheless serious and informative.
When Father Ryan realized the last of his ambitions and was named pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in New Bedford, he was succeeded by Father Bernard Vanasse who served with Fathers Campbell, Andrews and our present pastor until being named pastor of St. Peter’s parish in Dighton in June of 1997. He is now chaplain at Marion Manor in Taunton.
In 1960 Father John E. Boyd reported at a district meeting of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society that there was a “movement in the Church to restore lay deacons to take on the lesser duties of the parish priest…” Although the restoration of the Deaconate in the western rite was several years away, it is interesting to note that discussions had begun before Blessed John XXIII convened the twenty-first Ecumenical Council (Vatican II).
Deacons had existed in the church from apostolic times. The word deacon comes from the Greek diakos, meaning helper. The role of deacon expanded from offering manual and material assistance to the presby-tery to whatever role assigned to them by the bishop. Confusion over the role of deacon eventually led to a turf war between priests and deacons. The role of the deacon was eventually diminished and by the fifth century a deacon was merely a man on the way to becoming a priest. It remained such for centuries. Re-vived interest in the permanent diaconate dates back at least to the time of World War II. Priests impris-oned in Nazi concentration camps, reflecting on the difficult situation of the church, speculated that per-manent deacons – married or single men with a formal, stable commitment to the work of the church – could have accomplished much good. Among the reasons for restoring the diaconate advanced during the Second Vatican Council, was that this step would help alleviate the shortage of priests in various parts of the world. Deacons, it was reasoned, would be able to perform many of the functions of priests and would help create and sustain a sense of Christian community among people who rarely saw a priest. The second Vatican Council and Pope Paul VI restored the Diaconate and assigned the Deacon “to administer Baptism solemnly, to be a custodian and distributor of the Eucharist, in the name of the church to assist and to bless marriages, to bring Viaticum to the dying, to read the sacred scripture to the faithful, to instruct and exhort the people, to preside over the worship and the prayer of the faithful, to administer sacramentals, and to officiate at funeral and burial services.”
It was not until Father Campbell’s pastorate that Deacon Eugene Orosz, who was ordained in June 1980, was assigned to our parish. Deacon Gene was a mar-ried man in holy orders, with a wife, children and grandchildren. He earned his living as a lithographer by day, and ministered to the faithful after work and on weekends. Deacon Gene was never quite certain that parishioners had fully accepted him and his role in the parish. He had an engaging manner and worked hard at ministering to the parish community. Visiting priests to our parish have often commented on our outreach to the sick, the housebound, the troubled and those parishioners whom we do not see very often. Folks in nursing homes and hospitals are visited and Mass is celebrated weekly at the Country Gardens Nursing Home. These visits sometimes generate referrals to the Saint Vincent de Paul Society or to community agencies that can address needs too great for the parish to meet.
Deacon Gene’s last project, and perhaps the one dearest to his heart, was not realized until after his death. Deacon Gene took seriously the duty of encountering Christ in the poor and hungry. During his eight years of ministry in our parish he tried several times to establish a food pantry to serve the needs of the poor and hungry in our community. The pastor never said no and never said yes, but continued to point out one obstacle after another in establishing the food pantry. After Deacon Genes’s death, his wid-ow Marina worked at eliminating those obstacles and the Deacon Gene Food Pantry of Saint Dominic’s Parish continues to feed the hungry within and beyond our parish boundaries. This Ministry of Care, nur-tured and encouraged by Deacon Gene, is probably his most lasting legacy and a monument to his memory. Deacon Gene suffered from declining health but soldiered on until the very end which came on December 19, 1988.
For a brief period in 2003 beginning on Candlemas (February 2nd) to October 2004, Deacon Anthony Cipriano was assigned to our parish but eventually left to work in the Diocese of Rhode Island where he lives.
Sisters in Parish Service
Many people remember the dynamic Mercy Sister Evelyn Daily who served as religious education coordi-nator from 1980 until her death in 1983. Father Campbell described her as a woman who “brought a zeal and an enthusiasm…and fired up many laypeople in the community…”
During the pastorates of Fathers Campbell, Andrews and our current pas-tor, the parish was blessed with the high energy and hard work of a dy-namic-duo, Sisters Roger Mills, R.S.M. and Rose Kruse, O.F.M. Sister Roger took over responsibility for religious instruction when Sister Eve-lyn died and remained in that role until illness forced her to give up those duties. In “retirement”, she and Sister Rose immersed themselves in all areas of parish ministry. They visit-ed the sick, the housebound, the hospitalized, and were active in promoting all aspects of pro-life causes. Sister Rose celebrated her golden jubilee with us in 1997 and Sister Roger celebrated hers in 2000. Sister Roger struggled with chronic illness but her death caught the parish by surprise on January 18, 2001. Sis-ter Rose gave up the apartment they had shared and returned to her community in April. She still visits us from time to time. Sister Roger was the gregarious “Irish politician,” while Sister Rose was the quiet woman with a will of steel. They were perfect foils to each other and are remembered with great fondness.
With the dwindling number of diocesan priests, our parish has not had an assistant pastor since Father Vanasse was named pastor of Saint Peter’s Parish in Dighton. We’ve needed to depend on retired priests who help on weekends and when our pastor is away. Although these priests are not here on a daily basis, they have become very much members of our parish family. Who can ever forget Father Ralph Tetrault and his nine lives? Father Ralph retired early due to ill-ness and lived out his retirement at the Cardinal Medeiros Residence. He came to St. Dominic’s al-most every week and assisted in the Holy Week ceremonies. Despite a rapidly failing heart and repeated heart attacks, Father Ralph never complained, and always seemed much more concerned about other people’s health than his own. Father Ralph died in January 2007.
Father Ralph and Father George Almeida, who was pastor of our neighboring Parish of Our Lady of Fatima, were in the seminary together and were ordained in 1965. They remained great friends throughout their time as priests in our diocese and jointly celebrated their 40th anniversary of Ordination. Father George retired in 2001 and lives at the Cardinal Medeiros Residence. He also frequently celebrates Mass at our parish and is known for his special devotion to the Mother of God.
Father Roger McMullen served for many years in parishes in the south until a serious stroke forced him to retire. As soon as Father Roger was able to regain his ability to speak and walk, he quickly resumed his priestly duties by celebrating Mass nearly every day at different parishes. Despite the challenges of declin-ing health Fr. Roger is always unfailingly solicitous to all he meets. Increasing health challenges have greatly reduced his presence among us.
Others who have ministered to us are Father Manuel Ferreira, ordained in 1960, who occasionally helps here on weekends and Holy Days. Father James McClelland retired as pastor of Saint Joseph’s Church in 2007 but frequently substitutes for Father Joe, as do others Fathers José Santos and Barry Wall, among others.
Our Current Pastor
Our current and thirteenth pastor, Father Joseph Viveiros, succeeded Father Andrews in October 1995.
The multi-talented Father Joe was born in S. Miguel in 1948 and came to the United States as a two year old. He was one of twelve children born to António Ferreira Viveiros and Mary Bernardo Pacheco. Father Joe’s interest in genealogy has resulted in discovering kinship to so many of his Azorean-American parish-ioners. He is a gifted painter and his watercolors are prized by those lucky enough to win one in our parish raffles. Friends and relatives look forward every year to a hand painted Easter egg. Drop and break your grandmother’s beloved statue of Saint Therese and he will repair it so expertly that no one will ever know that it was ever broken. He collects nativity sets from all over the world and many people from all over town stop by to admire his decoration of the sanctuaries in the church and parish center at Christmas and Easter. The parish picnic, rather than an event to raise funds, is a venue for bringing parishioners together; food and drink sell for a quarter!
Parishioners can always count on an insert in the parish bulletin to explain certain traditions such as giv-ing chocolate on December 6th, the feast of Saint Nicholas. On December 13th, Saint Lucy’s day, we are reminded to plant wheat in tiny foil plates supplied by Father Joe to those attending Mass, so that the camels of the Magi will have something to eat when they arrive at the manger on January 6th. He also explains why we come together on the feast of Pentecost to be crowned with the crown of the Holy Spirit and then process to the parish center for our “sopas do Espírito Santo” flavored with a twig or two of “ortelã” from local gardens.
When Father Joe arrived in the autumn of 1995 the coffers held only enough to sustain the parish for a month or two. Father Joe has a talent for inspiring generosity without asking for money. Because people know that he is a careful steward and does not ask for money when unforeseen circumstances arise; they conscientiously contribute to the monthly building and maintenance collection knowing that it will be saved and utilized for its intended purpose. Today, through Father Joe’s careful stewardship the parish is in a sound financial situation.
Father has utilized the parish societies to work with him in nurturing and building a sense of parish com-munity. Three new organizations have nor become part of our parish community during his pastorate:
The Holy Spirit Society
The Crown of the Holy Spirit, along with its regalia, was given to our parish by the Swansea Holy Ghost Brotherhood when it disbanded in 2002 after 96 years of existence. The crown and regalia had been especially commissioned and paid for by the founding members of the Swansea brotherhood, after the design was approved by Father Manuel Cipriano Grilo of Saint Michael’s Church in Fall River.
The brotherhood was first organized in June 1906 in Swansea by 55 immi-grant farmers from the Azores. Among them were our parishioners Joseph Rosa Soares, António Medeiros and Manuel Silva. These Azorean immigrants brought to these shores the custom of a centered devotion to God in the third person of the Trinity that began in Portugal in the 12th century and was taken to the Azores by the very first settlers. Although the custom practically disappeared from the mainland, it took on a greater solemnity in the Azores
beginning in the 18th century and continues to this day throughout the archipelago and the Azorean dias-pora. In 2000 the Brotherhood’s hall, located on Milford Road, was in need of major repairs. In addition, the membership was aging and dwindling. The annual feast demanded a great deal of labor from the members to organize the feast, decorate the hall and prepare large quantities of food for members and guests. On the feast of Pentecost a procession would leave the hall with the crown of the Holy Spirit which was brought to our parish church where Mass of the Holy Spirit was celebrated followed by the crowning of someone designated by the mordomo. The Crown was given to our church through the advo-cacy of one of its oldest members, who was also our parishioner, thenonagenarian Helen Soares. Parishioners quickly organized our own brotherhood and the tradi-tion, started in 1296 by Saint Elizabeth of Portugal, of crowning a child and hosting a festival to provide food and drink to the poor in praise of the Holy Spirit, continues with the support and encouragement of our pastor. All proceeds are used to support charitable works.
Third Order Dominicans
In July of 2003, our parish, the only one in New England named for Saint Dominic, became home to the Saint Rose of Lima Chapter of the Dominican Third Order and Father Joe became its spiritual director. Third Order Dominicans are lay people who share in the spiritual works and benefits of the first and second order Dominicans. The Saint Rose of Lima Chapter of the lay fraternities of Saint Dominic came to our parish from Saint Anne’s Church in Fall River after the death of their spiritual director, Father Pierre Lachance, O.P. The moderator, Marcela Jean, asked that the Lay Dominicans be based out of our parish since it began as a mission of St. Anne’s Parish.
The Knights of Columbus
When the Bishop Cassidy Council #3669 of the Knights of Columbus needed a new meeting place, Fa-ther Joe welcomed them into our parish, and became their chaplain. He is now a life time member of the Knights of Columbus. Like so many of our parish organizations the Knights are dedicated to serving the poor and needy. Council 3669 of Somerset and Swansea was established in 1953 with sixty-five members. In 1958 the Knights were meeting in a social club in Ocean Grove but with a membership of more than 500 new quarters were needed. The Knights purchased land and renovated a dairy farm and built what in its day was a state of the art facility. Over the years membership has declined and the facility no longer met modern building codes. The cost of renovations would have been prohibitive and thus the Knights came to Saint Dominic’s Church. The Knights continue with their extensive social activities and raise funds to assist with charitable endeavors.
Father Joe worked for a quarter century in the Apostolate for the Disabled and has welcomed the deaf and hard-of-hearing into our parish and signs the liturgy for them. He has greatly increased our awareness of special needs and our weekly celebrations are more welcoming to the physically and mentally challenged among us.
Father Joe has a special talent for connecting and communicating with young people. He and Barbara Domingue, our Director of Religious Education, have revamped our religious education program, making it more age appropriate at every level. Our religious education program not only stresses formal instruction, but also interactive programs that stress socialization skills and service to others.
As part of the celebration of his silver anniversary as a priest, celebrated with us in May of 1999, Father Joe then organized a parish mission for the annual novena in honor of our patron saint under the direction of the Marist Father Henry Rancourt; Father Rancourt’s reflections on the parable of the prodigal son are still remembered by many parishioners who attended the mission.
It was about that time that Louis and Margaret Furtado donated the painting, which hangs in the sanctu-ary of the parish center. It depicts Our Lady of Pompeii and the infant Jesus attended by Saint Catherine of Siena, the patroness of the second Order of Preachers, and Saint Dominic receiving the rosary from the Virgin. The statue of Saint Anne was given to the parish by Henry and Barbara Sidok. The Infant of Prague was donated by the late Donna Catabia Viveiros. The statue of Saint Therese de Lisieux was heavily damaged when given to Father Joe, who lovingly restored it. The statue of Our Lady of Fatima was a gift from Gil and Adelaide Tabicas. The plaster statue of our Lady in our parish center came from the estate of Jean Berard.
In 2001 the parish celebrated its 90th anniversary with Bishop Sean O’Malley concelebrating Mass with Father Joe and several priests, who then or formerly served in the parish. It was followed by a banquet at the Venus de Milo Restaurant. The photographer Olin Mills put together a commemorative booklet complete with portraits of our parishioners and members of the parish committees and societies.
In 2000 our parish had 857 registered families. The average weekend Mass attendance was 1,065; 294 children were enrolled in our religious education programs. Twenty-two children were baptized in 2000 and 19 parishioners died. By contrast in 2009 we had 1,161 registered families but the average attendance at weekend Masses had dropped to 785. There were only 280 children registered in religious education classes. Only 18 children were baptized but we buried 33 parishioners that year!
Father William Michael Sylvia, son of William Michael Sylvia and Mary Kathleen McCann, was baptized in our parish on May 24, 1981. He was ordained by our Bishop George Coleman in our Cathedral in June 2008. As of this writing Father Sylvia is assigned to Saint Mary’s Parish in Mansfield.
Father Paul Manuel Cabrita, son of Manuel Pimental Cabrita (1906-2007) and Anna Rodrigues (1910-2001), who were married in our parish in 1935, was born in Pawtucket on August 9, 1946 and was confirmed in our parish in 1959. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Marist Fathers on November 8, 1986 and celebrated his first Mass in our parish church the following day. He has spent a significant por-tion of his priesthood teaching at Marist schools in Georgia, Louisiana and Ohio. He is currently assigned to the Parish of Saint Louis, King of France in Minnesota.
Ministries and Organizations
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.…All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” I Corinthians 12: 4-8; 11 (RSV)
We all have a place in this world and we all perform a function, regardless of our ability or disability. Par-ish ministries and organizations depend on the parishioner’s willingness to put to work their particular God-given gifts and talents for the good of the parish community. Our parish is blessed with several min-istries and organizations, some formal and others informal. From time to time there are prayer groups that are formed for a particular reason. There are the volunteers who work tirelessly in the parish kitchen during church suppers and breakfasts and the parish picnic. There are the volunteers who either teach re-ligious education or assist those who do, and there are the parking lot monitors who assure the safety of the children attending religious classes. Then there are those who although not formally involved in a parish ministry or organization, quietly put their labor and treasure at the disposal of the parish when the need arises. They too also serve who only stand and wait. In addition to these, and all the others already addressed in this narrative, we pause here to review the works of some of the established parish ministries and organizations.
Eucharistic Ministers assist the celebrant at Mass by distributing the Eucharist at communion time. They are appointed by the pastor and commissioned by the Church for a limited term, though the term can be extended at the pleasure of the pastor. Eucharistic Ministers are asked to commit to a year’s term and to a schedule for their attendance at Mass. A schedule is made up every three months, and if a minister cannot attend his scheduled Mass, the minister is required to find a substitute. Eucharistic Ministers also bring the Eucharist to parishioners who are sick or homebound. The Ministers also take Communion to those parishioners attending Mass who are unable to walk up to the sanctuary to receive communion. Maurice St. Laurent coordinated the parish’s Ministry for many years until his retirement and is succeeded by Henry Sidok.
The scriptural readings preceding the proclamation of the Gospel, reserved to the priest or deacon, is as-signed to lectors. Reading aloud in public is never as easy as it seems, as any lector will tell us. With the exception of the psalms, which lend themselves well to recitation, the other readings are meant to sound like narrations. Mastering the talent of reading aloud in front of a congregation takes time, practice, steady nerves, and some courage. When a parishioner can listen to the readings as though listening to a story, and not have to depend on the printed text, then the lector has mastered the art. Robert Oaks is still remembered for his fine voice and narrative style. In Father Campbell’s time, the Easter Vigil Mass was never abbreviated and Bob was often assigned the longer readings from Exodus. His talents for narrating the scriptures were not inferior to those of Vincent Price, Charlton Heston or Alexander Scourby.
Saint Augustine said that “To sing once is to pray twice” (Qui cantat, bis orat), suggesting there can be thoughts expressed by music in which a prayer is offered, separate from those expressed by the words of the prayer itself. Our choir brings beauty and grandeur to the celebration of our liturgies and helps raise our hearts and minds to God. Although singers and instrumentalists are always in short supply, our choir trans-forms the mundane into the sublime and often receives a spontaneous round of applause from the congregation at the end of the service. Under the direction of our own Kapellmeister Evelyn Moniz, the choir provides both old and familiar favorites in Latin and English as well as some chal-lenging contemporary compositions. The choir brings an element of rejoicing to our Easter and Christ-mas liturgies, solemnity and reverence to Holy Week services, and joyful praise to our weekend Masses. Mona Dumais shares her talent as a pianist and on high holy days other instrumentalists contribute their special talents. Older parishioners will remember organists of yesteryear: Jean Berard’s mother, Laura Vincent Berard, was our organist for many years as was her niece Annette Coutre. Margaret Medeiros was another of our organists as was Joanne Rego until she relocated to Florida.
She was followed by Raymond Whalon, known affectionately as Santa Claus. All who remember Raymond will recall the portly, rosy cheeked gentleman, sporting longish white hair and fine beard, who could well have modeled for a Norman Rockwell portrait of Saint Nick. Raymond Whalon was a remarkable man. He was a master builder of pipe organs and owned his own shop in Newport. He was always in demand as an organist and also sang in local chorales. He was an artistic genius and had that “artistic temperament”, often tolerated, but never easily. Raymond began life as a Methodist, became an Episcopalian and died a Catholic. He was ecumenical and served as an organist in Catholic and Congregationalist parishes as well as at Temple Beth El in Fall River. When Raymond died in 2006, he had been organist at Good Shepherd Parish in Fall River for the remaining twelve years of his life. The music at his funeral was played on an organ which had originally come from the Cathedral in Providence and was rebuilt by Raymond in 1954.
At the funeral, Raymond’s son, a Bishop in the Episcopal Church, eulogized him and spoke of Raymond’s very long struggle with God, comparing it to the wrestling match between Jacob and God. Just as God never let go of Jacob, so he never let go of Raymond. Bishop Whalon said that the “wrestling match came to an end on a mountain in Croatia.” Raymond had gone with Father Campbell to Medjugorje and had “an experience which at last calmed the storm in his soul. Like Jacob, Raymond had refused to let go of God until he got a blessing. After this experience he was a changed man….And he focused on voicing organs, turning ugly whistles into living breathing voices to lead God’s people in praise and joy.”
Raymond was succeeded briefly by Barbara Pavao, who also directed the choir, which Father Campbell had directed himself during his pastorate. We have not had a resident organ-ist since she left us.
Our cantor Peter Urban not only leads us in singing the psalms but also lends his fine baritone voice to the choir. On Saturday afternoons Paula Cabral and Barbara Craveiro lead us in congregational singing accompanied by their guitars, bringing back memories of the folk choir led by Jim Haskins and his wife Denise during Father Campbell’s time. In the last decade death has silenced the choir voices of Gene Berard, Mary Hogan and Yvette Ashley; our choir is in need of new voices.
The religious education programs in our parish have always been solid with core values. Sister Evelyn, Sister Roger and Jean Nadeau are remembered for the religious education programs of years gone by. Today
Barbara Domingue, Frank Lucca and Frank Bragantin are responsible for religious education and youth programs that span the primary school years right through college graduation. Fa-ther Joe teaches the confirmation class. All of these people are assisted by lay volunteers who help facilitate, organize the classes, and provide individualized attention to those students who require extra help. Providing religious education to children who often would rather be else-where, especially on the weekend, is not as easy as it seems. Behind the scenes curricula and materials are developed and teachers are trained, students are registered and parents are informed when their children are not attending classes. Makeup sessions are required for excessive absences. Youth preparing for Confirmation are required to perform community service as part of the requirement for Confirmation. The goal is to assure that by the time our children reach adulthood, they have an extensive knowledge of their faith and are ready to take their place as adult members of the faith community.
Ushers and Collectors
The silent and unsung ministry of our parish community is our ushers and collectors. The ushers are the first people we see upon entering the church. During the well- attended services on Palm Sunday, Easter and Christmas they search out and find seats for those left standing in the back of the church. They direct the attention of the Eucharistic Ministers to the infirm and elderly needing to have the Eucharist brought to them. They help with the annual count of weekend Mass attendance, and they also take up the weekend collections often getting the icy stares of those of us who are less than cheerful givers. Their services are often unnoticed or are taken for granted but they too serve an important role in our parish life.
The Garden Club
When I became a parishioner some twenty-five years ago, I noticed how few flowers graced the church property. What could well be developed into perennial borders along the property lines was overgrown with bramble, thickets, pasture roses, weeds and the ubiquitous poison ivy. It took the considerable ener-gy and imagination of Pat Fox and her volunteers, organizing themselves as the parish garden club, to turn wasteland into a garden! In 1991 the loss of Pat’s mother left a void in her life that she wanted to fill. Her request to her friends and fellow parishioners to join in the new venture was originally met with a tepid, if not a discouraging, response, but those of us who have come to know Pat know that she is a woman on a mission. The pastor welcomed the initiative. Pat, Isabel Papa, and Paulette Pineault went right to work that very same day. Isabel also pressed her children and their friends, including Jimmie Mello from Can-digit, into service. Every night for weeks they toiled in the humidity, exposing themselves to mosquitoes, poison ivy and those prickly thorns in order to dig out beds for the perennial garden. Pat donated statues of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Roses, daylilies and sweet peas were planted. Parishioners were invited to contribute plantings from their gardens and additional plants were added. Father Joe, who like Brother Cadfael, enjoys gardening, has developed an herb garden and a perennial gar-den around a statue of Saint Francis.
As any gardener knows, maintaining a garden is actually more difficult then starting one. The weeds, and the dreaded poison ivy, will quickly reclaim their turf if left unchallenged. Annie Souza and Linda Car-penter joined the effort; Paulette’s extreme allergy to poison ivy forced her to retire. Louis Furtado put his skills acquired in the Azores to work and cleared away the weeds for many years. Our sexton Peter Urban does what he can to keep the weeds in check. However, today the Garden Club is reduced to Pat Fox and Isabel Papa with some help, now and then, from friends and family. They need some help. An hour a week of work in the garden, during the season, is far more productive in the long run than a twelve hour stint when the weeds have taken over the garden. The scriptures are silent about Jesus, the gardener, but as a boy he must have helped his parents maintain theirs and as a young adult he might have helped Mary keep her kitchen garden after Joseph was no longer able to do so. Jesus must have liked flowers, though. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Mathew: 6:28-30 (RSV) Many a gardener has found a spot for a plaque that reflects this theme: The kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of the birds for mirth; you are nearer God’s heart in the garden, than anywhere else on earth. Join the Garden Club!
Ad Multos Anos: Our Oldest Parishioners
We have tried to identify our oldest parishioners and those parishioners who have been members of our parish community the longest. At the time this work goes to the printer we have identified the following:
Until her death in May of this year at 96 years of age, Francelina Dias lived with her daughter here in Swansea. Even when she lived in Florida, Mrs. Dias faithfully sent in her budget envelopes and had made arrangements to be buried from our parish when her time came. As of this writing (late August 2011), a newer member of our parish community, Rose Fennessey, is our oldest known parishioner. Ms. Fennessey will celebrate her 99th birthday on October 11th of this year.
Michael Grello is also 97 years old and now resides in a Rhode Island nursing home.
Grace Boulanger, who died earlier this year in her 95th year, came to the parish as a child from Fall River. Until two or three years ago when she fractured a hip, Grace attended Mass daily, and after the 7 o’clock Mass on Sundays she could be seen at Newsbreak buying 2 or 3 Sunday newspapers. Her driving abilities had greatly declined by this time and we all knew to give Grace wide berth and to stay out of her way when she was driving in or out of the parking lot! She had many talents including a gift for painting. After her death her family gave the parish a portrait of the sacred Heart of Jesus painted by Grace when she was twenty-five years old. It is used as part of our first Friday devotions to the Sacred Heart.
Grace recalled that when she was a little girl, the Silva-Clemente family supplied gladioli for our altars and would transport them from their farm in Barneyville by horse and buggy. She and Mary Griffin are among the twenty members of our parish choir who were photo-graphed in the thirties in front of the rectory with Father Ponte and a visiting priest. The photograph, once belong-ing to Doris Martin Carr, shows Father Ponte, Father José Maria Bettencourt e Ávila, Mary Griffin, Pat Crawford, Eleanor Furtado, Phyllis Oliver, Virginia Raposa, Helen Dowling, Dorothy Medeiros, Olive Correia, Louise Fazzina, Irene Fiola, Beatrice Lecompte, Helen Souza, Doris Martin, Gertrude A’Vante, Lena Couitee, Mary Paiva and one unidentified girl.
During this centennial year we have lost several of our oldest parishioners in addition to the ones men-tioned above. As of this writing (August 2011) they are: Matthew Koch, age 88; Virginia Leonardo, age 89; George and Audrey Shott, age 85 and 86, who died within a month of each other; Edward Tobol, age 86, Dorothy Paiva, age 92, Roger Soucy, age 90, Mary Castro, age 87 and Mary Cory, age 105. Mary Cas-tro was involved in many parish activities, organizations and ministries even as a double amputee in later years. Mary Cory was active in our parish for many years but went to live with her son in Peabody in her last years, but wanted very much to be buried from her home parish. Carl Greenhalgh died at age 94 in August. He had been an usher and collector at the four o’clock Mass on Saturdays for many years.
We know of one parishioner who was baptized by our very first pastor and has been a parishioner here ever since. That distinction belongs to Mrs. Mary McLeod, who has been attending Mass at our parish for all of her 91 years! Mary Veronica Griffin was born on October 26, 1920 to James Griffin and Mary Mu-lally and was baptized in our parish church by Father Percot on Halloween. Her godparents were Edgar A. Vincent and Mary Griffin. She grew up in Barneyville and attended the mission chapel. Her parents organized the suppers and socials that helped support the chapel. Mary received her first Holy Commun-ion in 1928 and was confirmed on October 22, 1931 by Bishop Cassidy, having Vera Sullivan as her spon-sor. She was married by Father Ponte on August 28, 1940 to Malcolm F. McLeod, son of Malcolm Allen McLeod and Beatrice Eagan. Mrs. McLeod can still be seen at the 11 o’clock Mass on Sunday mornings and has contributed to this centennial history by sharing her memories.
Marina Paiva Orosz was born and baptized in December 1927 and has been our parishioner ever since, for a total of 84 years. Marina married her husband Gene in our parish and their two children were bap-tized here. Gene was later ordained a Deacon and when he died he was buried from our parish. Marina has involved herself in all aspects of parish life and, by virtue of her 84 years lived as an actively involved parishioner, is our unofficial parish historian. She has been invaluable to this writer and has been unstint-ingly generous with her time and knowledge.
Perhaps next to the parish priest, the most visible man in the parish is the sexton. He is usually seen just about every day, unlocking the church before morning Mass and locking it up at the end of the day. The sexton is seen shoveling the walk ways in winter and tending the grounds in spring, summer and fall. He tends to the heating and cooling of the church, and guards the church edifice, its treasures and vestments. When an acolyte is not available, the sexton, as an inferior minister, assists at funeral Masses, attends to bell-ringing and similar offices about the church. Those bells call the faithful to Mass, toll to announce the funeral of a parishioner, ring out joyously at Christmas and Easter and other joyous occasions in the life of the parish community.
The sextons of days gone by could always count on the help of some conscientious parishioners. An infor-mal altar society seems to have developed early in the history of the parish. Mary Ann Medeiros cleaned the church and rectory during Father Ponte’s time and also washed and starched the altar linens. In later years Clair Carty, Claudette Martin, Mary Castro and the late Yvette Ashley would give the church a thor-ough cleaning for Christmas and Easter. The entire church, from the choir loft to the sacristy was cleaned from top to bottom. Every thing was swept, dusted, and washed. The statues were washed to remove the soot from the smoke of wax candles. The area behind the tabernacle was cleaned out; the Stations of the Cross were dusted and washed. Everything was removed from the sacristy and the cabinets for a good dusting and washing. Until slowed by advancing years, Audrey Shott, who died earlier this year, laundered and repaired altar linens.
Our current sexton, Peter Urban, came to us in 1983 and took on the duties of sexton when Louis Chabot retired. Mr. Chabot, who conveniently lived in the white house across from the side parking lot on the corner of Boule Street and Route 6, was our sexton from about 1955 until just before he died in December, 1983, at 72 years of age. He had also been an active member of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society.
Before the parish center was built, it appears that the parish did not have a full time sexton. Several ladies in the parish took on the duties of preparing and decorating the sanctuary for Mass, caring for the vestments, and cleaning and sprucing up the church.
Peter was raised in the Cathedral parish in Fall River. When Father Campbell served for a time as an assis-tant at the Cathedral, he noted young Peter Urban’s voice and encouraged his gift for music. Peter began singing in the Cathedral’s boy’s choir when he was in the first grade. Father Bill not only hired Peter as our sexton, but also hired him as our cantor. Peter also worked for a time with Raymond Whalon in his shop building pipe organs.
The Marian Medal, an award granted yearly to one person from each parish within the Diocese, was es-tablished in 1968 by the Most Reverend James L. Connolly. Although the medal is awarded annually, our pastors did not designate a recipient for the years 1969-70, 72, 74, 77-79, 81, 85-87, 90 and 99. This most coveted diocesan award is conferred by the Bishop in the Cathedral. The very first recipient from our parish was Edouard Lacroix, of happy memory, who received the award in 1968. Ed was an accountant by profession and established his own accounting firm in Fall River. He was a very active and consci-entious member of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society and lent his professional talents to the parish. He had a somewhat prickly nature; as an accountant he tended to treat life and its situations like the figures in his ledger: red or black, no gray, with an absolute bottom line. However, he was generous to a fault and could always be relied upon to reach into his own pocket when the need arose. The Saint Vincent de Paul Society found his wisdom and counsel to be invaluable.
The other recipients of the Marion Medal are as follows:
1971: Janet Barbelle
1973: Catherine Healy
1975: Eugene Orosz
1976: Francis Mehlman
1980: John Rego
1982: Maria Pavao
1983: Therese Chabot
1984: Marina Orosz
1988: Wilfred Courville
1988: Maurice St. Laurent
1991: Yvette Ashley
1992: Alzira de Mattos
1994: Mary Gomes
1995: Mary Castro
1996: James Gibney
1997: Robert Evans
1998: Manuel Travers
2000: Rita Pavao
2001: Henry Sidok
2002: Mary Hogan
2003: Frank Lucca
2004: Louis Furtado
2006: Lenny Souza
2007: Donald Souza
2008: Hilda Medeiros
2009: Richard Rodrigues
2010: Annie Souza
Pope Pius X Medal
Named after Pope St. Pius X, the founder of the Diocese of Fall River in 1904, the award symbolizes his great devotion to youth. The medal bears an image of Pius X and his Episcopal motto, “Restore all things in Christ.”
The award was established by then-Bishop Sean O’Malley in 2002 to recognize the com-mitment and selflessness of diocesan teens towards Christ, his Church, and the local parish community. Recipients are nominated by their pastors. They must be confirmed, at least a sophomore in high school, and no older than 19 years old. Nathan Domingue was the first recipient from our parish followed by Ryan Furtado, Renee Bernier, Kyle Brodeur, Cory Furtado and Jacqueline Borelli-Chace.
Looking back through old Bulletins
A search of filing cabinets, cardboard boxes and the attic of our rectory has yielded a treasure trove of parish bulletins dating back to 1961.
Fifty years ago confessions were heard on Saturday from 4-5 and from 7-8. Sunday Masses were celebrated at 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 o’clock. Holy Day Masses were celebrated at 7 and 8 in the morning and again at 7 and 8 in the evening. All Souls’ Day Masses were celebrated at 8, 9 and 10 o’clock.
Forty-four children received their first communion in 1961 and had breakfast with the pastor following the Mass.
Forty Hours’ Devotions were held yearly and Father Jordan reminded parishioners to fast on Ember Days.
The Church’s Forty Hours’ Devotions began about the year 1534 and consisted of solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on the altar for 40 hours, in memory of the 40 hours the Lord’s body remained in the sepulcher. In 1592 Pope Clement VIII, moved by the troubles of the time, ordered that the devotion be continuous throughout the year, from one church to another, in order that, by prayers offered to the Blessed Sacrament, the mercy and blessings of God might come down upon the whole Church. Through-out the devotions, the church was never closed and even throughout the wee hours of the morning, the faithful were expected to hold vigil. Volunteers from the different parish organizations volunteered to as-sure that someone would remain in vigil and adoration for each of the 40 hours. Thus, a schedule was de-veloped every year in every diocese around the world and there was always a parish in the diocese where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed for the devotion of the faithful.
Ember Days were kept on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday following Ash Wednesday, Pentecost, Septem-ber 14 and December 13. Their purpose was to thank God for the fruits of the earth and other gifts of nature, to teach moderation in their use and to assist the needy.
In 1962 the Holy Father asked that the faithful throughout the world to begin praying for the success of the 20th Ecumenical Council which was about to begin. Pamphlets explaining the purpose for the Coun-cil were distributed at all Masses.
Father Jordan found the annual parish visitation impossible to accomplish in a timely fashion so he re-cruited parish societies to share the task of visiting every household in the parish.
About 60 out of 250 people attending Mass received Communion. Father Jordon reminded parishioners that confession was not necessary if mortal sin was not present. A three hour fast from all solid food and an hour’s fast from liquids were still required. Today almost everybody receives communion and almost nobody goes to confession.
On August 1, 1962 the St. Dominic Federal Credit Union opened for business.
On September 8, 1963 Bishop Connelly celebrated the first weekly TV Mass on Channel 6.
In June 1966 the parish acquired the new altar facing the congregation “built by the skilled hands and gen-erosity of Wilfrid Courville, as well as the generosity of Louis Travers.” That altar is now stored in the sac-risty. Imbedded into a marble slab on the altar’s surface is a relic, probably of a Roman martyr interred in
one of Rome’s many catacombs. Before the reforms of Vatican II, any altar on which the holy sacrifice of the Mass was offered had to contain the relics of a martyr. The portable paraphernalia used by priests cel-ebrating Mass in non traditional settings, e.g. on battlefields, contained a relic sewn into the altar cloth in order to bring them into conformity.
In October of the same year the Swansea Brotherhood of the Holy Ghost put its hall at the disposal of the parish for catechism classes.
On August 13, 1967 Swansea celebrated its tercentenary with a parade and our parish entered a float.
Throughout 1967 Father McCarthy apologized for the lack of seating for those attending Mass on Sunday.
In 1970 there were 69 baptisms, 58 first communions, 19 marriages and 13 deaths in the parish. Father Carey was taking communion to an average of 30 home-bound parishioners per month, apart from the residents at Country Gardens Nursing Home.
In 1972 serious discussions began about resolving the shortage of seating capacity in our parish church by possibly building a parish center. When it was finally finished and operational in 1974, the construction and furnishing of the center had cost a total of $147,000.00. The parish had no mortgage, but was left with only $3,000.00 in the bank. The center measures 50 by 120 feet and seats 500 people. Father Carey pointed out that the interior of the church needed some work and the sanctuary needed to be redecorat-ed to conform to the post Vatican II norms, but with so little money in the bank, that was a project for another day.
The statues of the Sacred Heart and Saint Joseph were purchased in 1975 in memory of Duncan V. Fad-den, Albert Pontifice, and Horace and Olivia Almeida. They are 33 inches tall and cost $125.00 each.
In November 1977 permission was granted for receiving communion in the hand.
In 1979 there were Saturday vigil Masses at 4 and 5:30 with confessions from 3 to 4. Masses on Sunday were celebrated at 7, 8:30, 10 and 11:30. On the Holy Days Masses were celebrated at 5 and 7 on the vigil, 7 and 9 in the morning, and 5 and 7 in the evening on the feast day. Thanksgiving Day Masses were celebrated at 7 and 9 o’clock in the morning. Parishioners were encouraged to share the flowers from their gardens for decorating the altar, especially on those days when Mass was being celebrated for the repose of a loved one.
The 1980 parish census recorded 1,100 families in the parish.
In 1983 there were 800 children in the CCD program.
Seat money was discontinued on October 1, 1984.
In 1985 the parish decided to begin a campaign to raise $4,000.00 to build a well in a poor village in In-dia. Well buckets were placed at the entrances of the church and in no time a check was sent to Father Anthony da Silva, who had preached at our parish. For the Lenten season of 1986, parishioners decided to finance another well and after Easter, another check for $4,000.00 was sent to Father da Silva! In 1987 the parish took on the task of raising $5,000.00 for building a third well in an impoverished village in Kenya.
In 1986 twenty-four people, on average, attended weekday Mass.
In 1987 the Diocese decided that there would be only one vigil Mass on Saturday afternoon. Accordingly, the 5:30 vigil Mass was discontinued.
In July 1987 Father Edward McDonough, pastor of the “Mission Hill” Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston, conducted a healing service in our parish.
The children of our First Communion class donated the statue of the Immaculate Conception located in the back of the side back parking lot. The hedging was donated by Redwood Nursery.
In 1989, under the leadership of Frank and Kris Lucca, St. Dominic’s became one of the first parishes in the Diocese of Fall River to adopt and implement a youth ministry model providing for a well balanced program that meets the identified needs of the various young people in the families of our parish. Youth Ministry works to foster the total personal and spiritual growth of each young person, seeking to draw young people to responsible participation in the life, mission, and work of the faith community. Young people are empowered to become disciples of Jesus Christ and witness to their faith by living and working for justice, peace and human dignity.
Who is not filled with immense pride when these young people develop projects that take on the cor-poral and spiritual works of mercy on behalf of the entire parish community?
Though we have looked back we now look ahead. The psalmist tells us that a thousand years in God’s sight are but as yesterday come and gone, or as a watch in the night. We are like a dream, like grass which flourishes in the morning but fades and withers when evening falls. For these last hundred years our par-ish community has waited for the Lord. He has renewed our strength and lifted us with wings like eagles; we have run but have not wearied; we have walked but have not fainted. Now as we look forward to the years ahead, we know that all that is asked of us is that we act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. (See Psalms: 90: 4-6, Isaiah 40:31 and Micah 6:8).
When Saint Monica was on her deathbed she told her sons not to worry about her impending death and had only one request of them: “One thing only I ask of you, that you remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you may be.” We remember with great fondness all of our deceased parishioners and all of the priests and religious who have served our parish in these last 100 years. We entrust them to the mercy of God, certain in the knowledge that when our time comes to return to Him, they will all be waiting for us with open arms and welcoming smiles.
References and sources are available from the rectory and the author.