Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River

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Diocese of Fall River
Dioecesis Riverormenensis
Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River.svg
Country  United States
Territory Counties of Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket, and Plymouth (specifically, the towns of Marion, Mattapoisett, and Wareham)[1]
Ecclesiastical province Boston
Metropolitan Boston
- Catholics

313,115[1][2] (39.7%)
Denomination Roman Catholic
Rite Roman Rite
Established March 12, 1904
Cathedral Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption
Patron saint Saint Mary of the Assumption
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Bishop Edgar Moreira da Cunha, S.D.V.
Metropolitan Archbishop Seán Patrick O'Malley, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Boston
Emeritus Bishops George William Coleman
Diocese of Fall River map 1.jpg
Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River (Latin: Dioecesis Riverormensis) is an ecclesiastical territory or diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the New England region of the United States. It is led by the prelature of a bishop administering the diocese from the mother church St. Mary's Cathedral in Fall River, Massachusetts.

The diocese was canonically erected by Pope Saint Pius X on March 12, 1904, taking its territories from the Diocese of Providence in Rhode Island. It comprises the counties of Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, and Nantucket, as well as three towns in Plymouth County.

Diocesan statistics[edit]

Religious include the bishop, 147 priests currently serving in parishes, 90 permanent deacons, 16 religious brothers and 295 religious sisters. There are 96 parishes, 11 missions, a health care center, and 5 nursing homes.

The total Catholic population of the area is approximately 313,115.[2]


The diocese maintains one college, Stonehill, five high schools — (Bishop Connolly High School in Fall River, Bishop Stang High School in Dartmouth, Bishop Feehan High School in Attleboro, Coyle and Cassidy School in Taunton, and Saint Pope John Paul II High School in Hyannis), two middle schools and fifteen elementary schools.


The current Superintendent of Schools is Stephen Perla[3]. The following is a list of superintendents:

  • George A. Milot, PhD (2001–2011)[4]
  • Michael S. Griffin, PhD (2011–2016)
  • Stephen Perla (2016 - present)


The following is a list of bishops and their terms of service:

  1. William Stang (1904–1907)
  2. Daniel Francis Feehan (1907–1934)
  3. James Edwin Cassidy (1934–1951)
  4. James Louis Connolly (1951–1970)
  5. Daniel Anthony Cronin (1970–1992), appointed Archbishop of Hartford
  6. Seán Patrick O'Malley, O.F.M. Cap. (1992–2002), appointed Bishop of Palm Beach and later Archbishop of Boston (elevated to Cardinal in 2006)
  7. George William Coleman (2003–2014)
  8. Edgar Moreira da Cunha, S.D.V. (2014–present)

Father William Stang was appointed the first bishop of Fall River March 12, 1904, the day the diocese was erected. He died in office. Bishop Stang High School was named in his memory.

On July 2, 1907, Father Daniel Feehan was appointed Bishop of Fall River. Ordained a bishop on September 19, 1907, by Bishop Thomas Daniel Beaven, he served until incapacitation and died on July 19, 1934, in office. Bishop Feehan High School was named in his honor.

Feehan was succeeded by James E. Cassidy, his Coadjutor Bishop and Vicar General for many years. In 1945 Bishop Cassidy received the assistance of a Coadjutor Bishop, the Most Reverend James L. Connolly, who would later succeed him. Bishop Cassidy High School, now known as Coyle and Cassidy High School, was named in his honor.

Bishop James Louis Connolly was born in Fall River in 1894 and graduated from B. M. C. Durfee High School in 1913. In 1945, he was named Coadjutor Bishop of Fall River.

Following the death of Cassidy, Connolly became Bishop of Fall River in May 1951. One key to his tenure as Bishop was a special concern with providing secondary education in the four urban areas of the Diocese. As a result, four Catholic high schools were constructed under his guidance. Bishop Connolly High School[5] was dedicated in his name in 1967. He also founded the diocesan newspaper, The Anchor.[6] Connolly attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council. He served as Bishop of Fall River until 1970 when he retired.

Daniel Anthony Cronin became the fifth Bishop in December 1970 upon the retirement of Bishop Connolly. Cronin continued the work of implementing the decrees of the Second Vatican Council and supported liturgical renewal, continuing education of the clergy and the restoration of the permanent diaconate. He devoted himself to the pastoral care of the sick in hospitals, to the expansion of Catholic Counseling and Social Services, to the Family Life Ministry and other various activities.[7] Late in 1991 Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop Cronin Archbishop of Hartford.

On July 3, 2014, Bishop Edgar Moreira da Cunha, S.D.V., was announced as the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Fall River, and installed September 24.[8][9] Edgar M. da Cunha was born in Nova Fatima, then part of the municipality of Riachão do Jacuípe, Brazil. He studied at the Universidade Catolica Fatima dos Salvados[10] and was ordained a priest on March 27, 1982 by Bishop Joseph A. Francis, S.V.D. He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark as well as titular bishop of Ucres on June 27, 2003 by John Paul II. da Cunha was consecrated an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark on September 3, 2003 as the only Brazilian-born bishop in the United States.[11]


In addition to St. Mary's Cathedral, two other major churches in the diocese are St. Anthony of Padua in New Bedford, Santo Christo Church and Shrine, and St. Anne's both in Fall River.

Suppressed parishes[edit]

Province of Boston[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Diocese of Fall River". Catholic Hierarchy. 30 September 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
  2. ^ a b "A Look at the Diocese". Diocese of Fall River. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
  3. ^ "Leadership Team - CS Alliance". Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  4. ^ "Former Principal Milot to Return as Bishop Feehan Principal | Patch". Foxborough, MA Patch. Retrieved 2016-01-04.
  5. ^ "History". Bishop Connolly High School. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
  6. ^ "About The Anchor". The Anchor. Retrieved 2016-03-03.
  7. ^ "Our History". Diocese of Fall River. Archived from the original on 2013-11-05. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
  8. ^ "Pope Francis appoints new bishop for Fall River Diocese". Taunton Daily Gazette. Taunton, Mass. July 3, 2014. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
  9. ^ Allard, Deborah (July 4, 2014). "Da Cunha named new bishop of Fall River diocese". Taunton Daily Gazette. Taunton, Mass. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
  10. ^ "Interview with Auxiliary Bishop Edgar Moreira da Cunha". Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  11. ^ "Bishop Edgar Moreira da Cunha". Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  12. ^ Fraga, Brian (21 July 2013). "As churches merge, diocese and parishioners struggle with transitions". The Herald News. Fall River. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
  13. ^ Thomas, Sarah (20 November 1999). "A tender farewell at St. Therese". The Standard-Times. New Bedford: Retrieved 2013-11-05.
  14. ^ Barcellos, Robert J. "St. Casimir's priest retires". The Standard-Times. New Bedford: Retrieved 2013-11-05.
  15. ^ Dion, Marc Monroe (8 April 2012). "Fall River, Greater Taunton churches see downsizing, transitions". Taunton Daily Gazette. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
  16. ^ Spillane, Jack (26 February 2004). "Diocese to merge four New Bedford Parishes". The Standard-Times. New Bedford: Retrieved 2013-11-05.
  17. ^ Spillane, Jack (29 February 2004). "Parish merger a unilateral decision". The Standard-Times. New Bedford: p. A1. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
  18. ^ "Whittenton churches merge into new parish". GateHouse News Service. 8 June 2007. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
  19. ^ Lopes, Ashley (21 June 2007). "Two churches merge to create new parish". Taunton Daily Gazette. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
  20. ^ Tuoti, Gerry (8 April 2012). "FEWER BUT STRONGER: Diocese hopes Greater Taunton church consolidations result in 'stronger parish community'". Taunton Daily Gazette. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
  21. ^ Phillips, Jim (4 November 2012). "Parishioners Saddened As St. John The Baptist Closes In New Bedford". WBSM News. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
  22. ^ "Flint Parishes to merge". The Standard-Times. New Bedford: 22 March 2012. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
  23. ^ a b "Home Page | The Anchor". 2014-08-09. Retrieved 2014-08-19.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°42′39″N 71°08′50″W / 41.71083°N 71.14722°W / 41.71083; -71.14722