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Bishop offers prayers, support to St. Leo community
BY ERIC ADAMS, Staff Reporter

PAWTUCKET — Bishop Thomas Tobin assured parishioners of St. Leo the Great Church that Father Giacomo Capoverdi, assigned as administrator of the parish two weeks ago, will do his best to lead them on a path to holiness and work to keep their church vibrant.

The bishop celebrated the 10 a.m. and noon Masses at the parish in response the recent resignation of their pastor Father Kevin Fisette. His resignation is a matter of deep concern among parishioners about the parish's future.

Bishop Tobin emphasized during his homily that St. Leo's is to remain a strong presence in the Darlington section of Pawtucket as it continues its ministries in the community. Bishop Tobin told parishioners that he understands how some may be upset by Father Kevin Fisette's resignation, but assured them that their parish was in the good hands of Father Capoverdi, the recently appointed administrator of St. Leo's.

"We come together, of course, at a very difficult time for your parish community, but I hope that my presence today will provide some measure of support and encouragement. I know that the resignation of your pastor, Father Kevin Fisette, was a shock and disappointment for all the members of the parish. Father [Kevin] Fisette was an outstanding pastor who served you well, and I know that you miss him. Today we pray for him in a special way, and for St. Leo’s Parish, and for all those who have been affected by this very sad event," said Bishop Tobin.

"I also want to offer a word of sincere appreciation for your new spiritual leader, Father Giacomo Capoverdi, and to thank him for accepting my request to come to St. Leo’s. From the very beginning I believed it was important and helpful to have a priest in your midst to serve your spiritual and pastoral needs. Father Capoverdi was very willing to do so — even on very short notice, and even though it meant a major change for his life and ministry," Bishop Tobin said.

Father Capoverdi, former assistant pastor at St. Joan of Arc Church in Cumberland, said it should be an easy transition for him at St. Leo's since many parishioners have been welcoming and helpful.

"This parish is in excellent pastoral shape, and the greatest asset of this assignment is that the people here are engaged in many activities. The people have been welcoming toward me here," said Father Capoverdi.

"My challenge is to convince the parishioners that I'm not here to reverse the course of activities. I want to continue with the agenda of my predecessor, and assure the parishioners there will be no major changes to parish life," said Father Capoverdi.

Parishioners such as Vicki Moran and Antonio Rodrigues, longtime parishioners of St. Leo's, stated their deep disappointment over Father Kevin Fisette's resignation, but plan to remain in the parish.

"Father [Kevin] Fisette brought love and joy here and I admire him. The people here must pray together as a family and parish," said Moran, a member of the parish for 15 years.

Last year, the parish school closed due to declining enrollment and financial challenges.

Rodrigues' two daughters graduated from St. Leo School, and said many of his former coworkers from American Insulated Wire attend Mass at the church.

"My emphasis is to worship God here, and I know priests are mortal like me," said Rodrigues, a 17-year parishioner at St. Leo's.

Father Capoverdi said he realizes he needs to nurture a sense of peace for some St. Leo's parishioners. He suggested that prayer, patience and his prior parish experience will help him guide the parish during this difficult period. He said the first thing he did when he arrived at St. Leo's was study lists of the parish committees.

"The parishioners are resolved in their belief that the [Catholic] Church is greater than a parish or a priest," suggested Father Capoverdi.

Photo: Michael Guilfoyle BISHOP’s SUPPORT: Bishop Thomas J. Tobin celebrated the 10 a.m. and noon Masses at St. Leo the Great in Pawtucket this past weekend to support and encourage the parishioners during a “very difficult time.” The bishop also thanked the parishioners for the way in which they responded to the resignation of their pastor two weeks ago. Photo: Michael Guilfoyle SETTLING?IN: Father Giacomo Capoverdi greets parishioners after Mass at St. Leo’s this past Sunday. Bishop?Tobin appointed Father Capoverdi as administrator of the parish. He previously served as assistant pastor at St. Joan of Arc in Cumberland. BISHOP TOBIN'S HOMILY AT ST. LEO THE GREAT AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY           

I appreciate the opportunity of being with you today for the celebration of Holy Mass. Thank you for being here, and thanks to all who are assisting with our Mass today.

We come together, of course, at a very difficult time for your parish community, but I hope that my presence today will provide some measure of support and encouragement. I know that the resignation of your Pastor, Father Kevin Fisette, was a shock and disappointment for all the members of the parish. Father Fisette was an outstanding pastor who served you well, and I know that you miss him. Today we pray for him in a special way, and for St. Leo’s Parish, and for all those who have been affected by this very sad event.        

I also want to thank you and commend you for the way in which you’ve responded to this situation in the last couple of weeks. I sincerely appreciate your patience and understanding, as well as the support and prayers you’ve sent my way.  This past Thursday I visited the parish and met with Father Capoverdi – and several other leaders of the parish. I also commend them for their understanding and support and the very good work they’re doing during these troubling days. You have good leaders in this parish!            

I know that you have some concern about the future of St. Leo Parish, especially in light of the ongoing discussions taking place with St. Cecilia Parish. Your concern is very understandable. While I hope and expect that those discussions will continue in the future, I want to emphasize, as clearly as possible, that at the present time there are no imminent plans to close either St. Leo’s Parish or St. Cecilia’s Parish, or to merge the two parishes.            

I do hope that you’ll continue to work well together with your neighboring parish, and to share programs and resources as much as possible. Someday, in the future, there may be some change in the structure of your parishes, and we can’t ignore that possibility. But for now I hope and pray that you’ll continue to support your parish and to carry on the very good work you’re doing for Jesus and His Church.         

I also want to offer a word of sincere appreciation for your new spiritual leader, Father Giacomo Capoverdi, and to thank him for accepting my request to come to St. Leo’s. From the very beginning I believed it was important and helpful to have a priest in your midst to serve your spiritual and pastoral needs. Father Capoverdi was very willing to do so – even on very short notice, and even though it meant a major change for his life and ministry. But Father Capoverdi is a fine priest. He has lots of work to do and many challenges, and I hope you will offer him all the support and cooperation you can.                  

As you know so well, as we travel through life it’s inevitable that we will experience moments of disappointment, sorrow and pain. That’s true for us as individuals, as families and as a parish family. The question is – how to we respond to these challenges when they come our way? Do we respond as Christians, as people who are filled with faith and hope; or do we respond as the secular world would, without the consolation of our faith? It seems to me that moments of suffering and pain will always do one of two things – either they will separate us from God or they will draw us closer to Him. The choice is up to us.          

In the First Reading today, from the Prophet Isaiah, the Lord says to His fearful, frightened people, “Be strong, fear not – Here is your God!”          

And in the Gospel Jesus, the Son of God, fulfills that promise, as He reaches out to touch the man who was unable to hear and speak, and restored to him those important gifts.         

In moments of disappointment and discouragement, it’s important, my brothers and sisters, to turn to the Lord, to strengthen our faith and renew our hope. God takes away our fear. He opens our ears that we might hear the good news, our eyes that we might recognize the gifts we have, and our hearts to fill them with love. He loosens our tongue that we might always speak His praise.          

My brothers and sisters, whenever you have challenging times, remember the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, which is God’s gift to us, God’s abiding presence with us. In the Eucharist Jesus walks with us in good times and in bad, in moments of joy and sorrow. He assures us, as St. Paul wrote so beautifully, “that all things work together for those who love God . . . that nothing in this world or in the world to come can separate us from the love of God.’ (Cf. Rom 8:28-39)         

And finally, dear brothers and sisters, one of the beautiful traditions of our Catholic Faith is our devotion to our Blessed Mother Mary. How many generations of Catholics have been comforted by her love and care! As Mary stood at the foot of the Cross near Christ she represented you and me. And we know that she continues to care for us her children, especially during moments of suffering and pain. You need only to turn to her and pray with confidence:

Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence I fly unto thee, O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother. To thee I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. Oh Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.  Amen.

Without a doubt
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