BRISTOL — A new Portuguese-speaking pastor, Father Marinaldo Batista, CSP, was installed at St. Elizabeth Parish at a Saturday vigil Mass on July 21 that was celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Robert C. Evans.
Father Batista, who concelebrated the Mass, previously served as a pastor at a Portuguese parish in Canada for more than 20 years. He is a member of the Company of Saint Paul. The company, which was founded in 1920 in the Diocese of Milan in Italy, is a secular institute that focuses on evangelism in the model of St. Paul.
“Now I am beginning a new chapter in my life and I believe this new parish is a gift,” Father Batista said in brief remarks delivered at the end of the Mass.
Also concelebrating the Mass were Father Luciano Mainini, the superior of the Company of St. Paul, and Father Adauto Alves, the North American provincial for the institute.
In his homily, Bishop Evans said Father Batista would provide a “leadership of service”—ministering to his parishioners by celebrating the sacraments, preaching the gospel, comforting those who are suffering, welcoming strangers, and performing other works of mercy. He will also provide a “service of leadership”— guiding, teaching, correcting, and encouraging his congregation, Bishop Evans added.
“Truly there is not one without the other. They go hand in hand,” Bishop Evans said.
Calling to mind Jesus’ self-description as the Bread of Life, Bishop Evans said that Father Batista will, in turn, ensure that his congregation is nourished spiritually and morally.
Bishop Evans also noted that Father Batista will need cooperation and assistance in his work. “Your support and encouragement … will be essential,” Bishop Evans told the congregation.
After Bishop Evans’ homily, Father Batista took a public oath affirming his belief in the teachings of the Church and the submission of his will and intellect to her authority. He also promised to faithfully execute the office of pastor of the parish.
Father Batista’s arrival comes at a crucial time for the parish. The assistant pastor who was fluent in Portuguese and English is scheduled to go back to Portugal and the now-previous pastor, Father Richard Narciso ended his six-year appointment on July 1 and had not sought reappointment given that he is not a Portuguese speaker.
Father Batista told parishioners after the Mass that he was convinced that coming there was “a good thing” for him. He described himself as a “brother priest” who would work with parish members to help the parish grow in its faith. “I come here with my heart open,” he said.
He also pledged to be an active priest who would go out into the community to get to know his parishioners. “I am not a priest to be seated in the office,” he said.
At the end of his remarks, Father Batista also spoke briefly in Portuguese to the congregation.
The superior of the Company of St. Paul, Father Mainini, who is from Italy, also spoke at the end of the Mass through a translator. He briefly recounted how the company has expanded into the United States, carrying out its mission to preach the gospel and said he was happy to provide a priest to the parish.
“Jesus Christ gave [His] life for everyone,” Father Mainini said. “And we have to give Jesus to everybody.”
After the installation Mass, which filled the sanctuary, several parishioners told the Rhode Island Catholic that they are excited about the new pastor.
“I’m very, very happy,” said Maria Teixeira.
Several parishioners noted how beautiful the Mass had been.
One member of the choir, Maria Coroa, said the group had sung “everything,” all of their favorite church hymns, for Father Marinaldo during his first Mass there.
“I think it’s wonderful,” added John Travers, one of the organists at the parish. “It’s great we’ve got a new pastor.”