| By Father Jay Finelli a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese |
of Providence in the state of Rhode Island. June 27, 2012
A great "priest" goes to the Lord
|Rev. George F Almeida |
Born in Newport, R.I. on Nov. 23, 1931
He was ordaind a priest May 1, 1965
God called him home June 27, 2012
Will lie in state on Monday,
July 2nd from 4-7 PM
in Holy Ghost Church,
73 Linden Street, Attleboro, Ma.
Mass of Christian Burial will be
celebrated on Tuesday,
July 3rd at 11 AM in
Holy Ghost Church.
June 27, 2012 – I received the sad news that my dear friend Fr. George Almeida passed away suddenly this morning. Fr. Almeida celebrated the 7:00 am morning Mass at my parish, administered the Sacrament of the Sick to a parishioner before heading to another parish for a second Mass. After finishing Mass, he returned home to the Priest’s Residence. In the words of one of his fellow priests in the retirement home: “We had finished having our usual animated breakfast and we left the dining room about 10:30 to go to our rooms. The housekeeper found him on the floor in his room about 11 AM. He was already dead.” Since I arrived at Holy Ghost as pastor 10 years ago, Fr. George Almeida, a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, MA has been actively involved in the life of my parish. Fr. Almeida has covered Masses on my day off, and vacations, he has covered from funerals and assisted with Confessions. Not only was Fr. Almeida a great help to my ministry and the parish, but he served as my weekly confessor. He always had kind and encouraging words: “Your doing a great job, keep up your good work.”
One priest from his diocese often told me: “Fr. Almeida is the happiest priest in the diocese.” Indeed he was a very happy priest! He was a delayed vocation, hearing God’s call “at the age of 37.” Having served in the Navy aboard the USS Midway. It was during a pilgrimage to Lourdes with the Catholic Chaplain and 30 other sailers that he heard the call. ”During my privacy in prayer, I felt Our Lady asking me to enter the priesthood, as I looked at her beautiful statue in the grotto.” Throughout the years, Fr. Almeida has had a deep love and devotion the Our Lady. Each year, he served as chaplain for a pilgrimage group to Garabandal, Spain and returned to Lourdes on several occassions.
Maria Saraco's Group - San Sebastian Church, Garabandal
Fr. George Almeida Far Right
The story of Fr. Almeida is so inspiring when we hear so much negative news about the priesthood. Like so many faithful priests, Fr. George Almeida lived his priesthood with all his heart, not seeking any recognition, yet, he light shined bright for all to see.
Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May they rest in peace. Amen. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen
“Imitating Mary’s ‘yes’”
"I owe a great debt of gratitude for the Blessed Mother calling me to the awesome gift of the priesthood. She has protected me during my 44 years in the priesthood. Without her, I could not persevere. I dedicate this article to her. I pray that she continues to inspire me to be a faithful and humble servant as a priest, and helps me always to thank you, God, for the gift of the priesthood..."
True Cross of Jesus Crucifixion Monastery of Saint Toribio, Spain
While I was in the Navy aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Midway, the Catholic chaplain, Father Mattiello from Lilly, Penn., invited the sailors to go on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France. About 30 men signed up to go with him, and I was one of them. We left Marseille by train.
When we arrived at Lourdes the next day, Dec. 29,1952, we went directly to our hotel in the afternoon, and settled in before we had a nice dinner in the evening. We were supposed to visit the grotto the next day to attend Mass with our chaplain.
After dinner, however, I asked two of my buddies to go with me to see the grotto, because I couldn’t wait to see it. We brought along some empty wine bottles to fill up with Lourdes water to bring back to the States. I think that we were at the only hotel open during the winter and no religious stores were open.
We arrived at the grotto about 9 p.m., and we were curious to see what it looked like at night with all the candles burning. It was very quiet; no one was at the grotto when we arrived. So I asked my buddies if we could kneel down and say the rosary, and they agreed. It was now getting colder, so they wanted to return to the hotel. I told them that I would stay a little longer by myself before returning to the hotel.
During my privacy in prayer, I felt Our Lady asking me to enter the priesthood, as I looked at her beautiful statue in the grotto. I didn’t think I was worthy of such a calling. I also loved being in the Navy operating a teletype in the department of communications, since I was assigned to a rear admiral who was in charge of the fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. I belonged to the “Flag Staff” and had planned to remain in the Navy for 20 years, and retire at the age of 37!
As I contemplated the calling from Our Blessed Mother, however, I couldn’t refuse her request. She had said “yes” to the Archangel Gabriel when she was asked to become the mother of Jesus, so I consented to her calling with great humility. I had the privilege of serving at the altar in the grotto the next day at 8 a.m. It was so cold that I served with my peacoat. After Mass, the chaplain invited the men to go into the bath, but only two of us — another sailor and I — accepted. The others were afraid of catching a severe cold. We did not even catch a sniffle.
I went back to Lourdes in 2002 to give gratitude to Mary for my calling. I was the main celebrant at the grotto on Saturday, April 13, 2002 at the 7:30 Mass, almost 50 years to the day I was called to the priesthood on Dec. 29, 1952. What a jubilee!
I left the Navy with an honorable discharge on March 17, 1954. I began my preparation for the priesthood when I entered the seminary in September 1955. I loved the seminary, which gave me the chance to increase my spiritual life both intellectually and prayerfully.
I found out much later when I met Father Manuel Ferreira, who now lives with me at the Cardinal Medeiros Residence, that he was on the USS Midway at the same time I was aboard, though we didn’t know each other. He was assigned to the engineering department. He and I went to see the aircraft carrier on Sept. 18, 2007. It’s now a museum in San Diego. Our tour of the aircraft carrier brought back many memories.
I owe a great debt of gratitude for the Blessed Mother calling me to the awesome gift of the priesthood. She has protected me during my 44 years in the priesthood. Without her, I could not persevere. I dedicate this article to her. I pray that she continues to inspire me to be a faithful and humble servant as a priest, and helps me always to thank you, God, for the gift of the priesthood and for three wonderful parishes as a pastor: St. Elizabeth’s in Edgartown, 1981- 1988; Holy Family in East Taunton, 1988-1997; and Our Lady of Fatima in Swansea, 1997-2001.
My years as a pastor were exactly 20 years of love, service and joy leading God’s people toward the kingdom of Heaven. I ask God to bless them for being so respectful to me as a priest of Jesus Christ. They are forever in my prayers with a loving heart.
Father Almeida, ordained on May 1, 1965, is a retired priest of the diocese living at the Cardinal Medeiros Residence in Fall River.