Catholics around the City Seem to Be Ready to Welcome Their New Bishop with Open Arms

The Herald News [Fall River MA]
Downloaded May 1, 2003

Monsignor George W. Coleman, who has been serving as the administrator of the Fall River Diocese since former Bishop Sean P. O'Malley left last year, was appointed the seventh bishop of the diocese Wednesday.

Parishioners exiting St. Mary's Cathedral after a noon Mass Wednesday all offered their congratulations to the new bishop.

"We both graduated from Coyle Cassidy High School in Taunton, so he must be a fabulous fellow," said Holy Name parishioner Robert Griffin. "Seriously, the diocese is really blessed to have him. He's a really great guy."

St. Mary's parishioners Roland and Alma Cayer said although they were sorry to see O'Malley leave for Florida, they are happy to have Coleman as their new spiritual leader.

"I think it's great," Alma Cayer said. "It's even better that he's a local guy."

Coleman will become only the second diocesan bishop to come from Fall River. Former Bishop James Connolly, who served from 1945 to 1970 was the only other native son to be named to the diocese's highest post.

Coleman was born in Fall River in 1939 and was raised in Somerset, where he was a member of St. Patrick's Parish.

After being ordained in 1964, Coleman served parishes in New Bedford, Fall River and Centerville.

The Rev. Marc Bergeron of St. Anne's Parish said it's both "interesting and exciting" to know that he's from the diocese and local area.

"He knows the personnel, the parishioners and the problems of the diocese, so there won't be any learning curve for him," Bergeron said. "He was certainly a good choice.

"I think he'll do extraordinarily well."

Bergeron also commented on the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked this diocese as well as many others over the past several years.

He said Coleman's policies regarding these matters will likely mirror those of his predecessor, who was praised in some circles for sympathizing with the victims of priest abuse.

"He will be able to handle the problems like the declining number of priests and other issues," Bergeron explained. "He helped O'Malley develop many of the policies and will continue to care about the victims."

Coleman had served as Vicar General and first Moderator of the Curia under O'Malley for the past nine years.

Bergeron said Coleman will be ordained within 90 days at St. Mary's Cathedral.

He said the only question that remains is who the three bishops to ordain Coleman will be. Coleman has a choice of which bishops take part in the ordination ceremony.

"It will be interesting to see who he picks," Bergeron said.

Gregg M. Miliote may be reached at


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