Msgr. Stephen J. Avila, V.F. appointed pastor
of new Catholic Community of Falmouth

FALMOUTH, Mass. — Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., D.D., has appointed Msgr. Stephen J. Avila, V.F., as pastor of St. Elizabeth Seton, St. Patrick, and St. Anthony parishes, which are collaborating to form the Catholic Community of Falmouth. 


The new partnership stems from the strategic plan that was presented to Bishop da Cunha on Nov. 30, 2018. In his announcement, Bishop da Cunha thanked Father Timothy Goldrick, retiring pastor of St. Patrick Parish, and Father Arnold R. Medeiros, retiring pastor of St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, for their many years of exceptional service to the diocese. 

In his letter appointing Msgr. Avila as pastor of the three parishes, Bishop da Cunha said, “The people of St. Anthony, St. Elizabeth Seton, and St. Patrick are building bridges and establishing new partnerships for a stronger future.”

In announcing the new collaboriative to parishioners on May 19, Msgr. Avila explained how the new initiative would be “a model of ministry, a close (partnership) working together, one parish with the other, to strengthen the presence of the Catholic Church in this area.”

“I’ve been tasked by the bishop to implement a strategic plan for this collaborative along with the five deacons that are in the three parishes and a solid group of dedicated lay men and women who have made up our new pastoral council,” Msgr. Avila said.

Msgr. Avila, who prefers to be called Father Steve, is a graduate of Providence College and prepared for ordination at the North American College in Rome, acquiring a Bachelor in Sacred Theology degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. 

He was ordained in 1981 and has been pastor of St. Anthony Parish since 2014. 

“It is my honor to have been selected by Bishop da Cunha to lead the Catholic Community of Falmouth,” he said. “This community is rich in faith and I look forward to a strong future for the Catholic Church in Falmouth.”

Father Ryan Healy, recently ordained to the priesthood by Bishop da Cunha, has also been assigned to the Catholic Community of Falmouth as parochial vicar to assist Msgr. Avila with his pastoral duties. Father Healy is a native of Attleboro and a graduate of Bishop Feehan High School. He attended the University of Steubenville in Ohio and then transferred to Our Lady of Providence College Seminary in Providence, R.I., and finished his formation and studies at St. John Seminary in Brighton with a Bachelor in Sacred Theology and Master of Divinity degrees. 

Father Healy is looking forward to assisting Msgr. Avila as he continues his Spiritual journey in Falmouth.

“Change is oftentimes difficult and unsettling for many of us as we become used to our routines, our schedules, a familiar way of doing things  — even doing church,” Msgr. Avila said. “This new model will mean change for us all. For me personally, this is a major change in my life as a priest. I’ve been a pastor of parishes now for close to 20 years at three different parishes ... but never three parishes at the same time.”

Msgr. Avila has assembled a Pastoral Council consisting of representatives of each of the three parishes to guide the development and administration of the Catholic Community of Falmouth. The council is assisting with the planning and implementation of this new model of Catholic parish life by assuming the more secular aspects of parish administration, allowing Msgr. Avila and Father Healy the ability to focus on their pastoral duties.

Steven Johnson and James Quinn, co-chairmen of the council, expressed their appreciation to the council members for their commitment to the collaboration among the three parishes. They have also expressed their sincere appreciation for Msgr. Avila’s appointment as pastor and the leadership he has shown during the strategic planning and development process.

Msgr. Avila said he’s very hopeful and optimistic about the new Catholic Community of Falmouth.

“This optimism does not come because the bishop has all the answers, because he doesn’t,” he said. “Not because I have all the answers, because I don’t. And not because our pastoral plan is in place and everything is perfect. It isn’t.

“But my optimism is because I trust that God is in control, that Christ, the Lamb of God, is victorious.”

A new summer Mass schedule for the three parish churches and two chapels is expected to be put into effect beginning this weekend (June 29-30). While the overall number of Masses will be reduced, there will be a more varied schedule of Mass times, allowing for more opportunities for people to attend Mass in the Falmouth area.

A new website for the collaborative has been set up and can be accessed at It will provide additional information about the Catholic Community of Falmouth and its vision for the future.

© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts