Clergy Burial Grounds: Retirement and Death in the Official
José Ávila was removed from Our Lady of Mount
Carmel in January 1974, reportedly after enraged parishioners stormed
the church. The diocese "retired" him, and after a year
of so in his native Azores, he lived in East Falmouth until his
death in 1988. Ávila is buried in a special "Clergy
Burial Ground" behind St. Anthony's church, with a grave all
ready for Gilbert Simões beside his own.
Ávila's retirement, occasioned by a near riot and followed by
some high-level damage control, is reported very quietly in the Official
Catholic Directory for 1975:
as is his replacement as pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel:
Msgr. Luiz G. Mendonca, who was brought into a devastated parish as
its new pastor, was one of two vicars general in the diocese--a very important
person, as we see from the list of diocesan officials at the front of
the Fall River section of the 1975 Official Catholic Directory:
What's more, Mendonca was no stranger to the task of cleaning up after
José Ávila. Ten years before, when Ávila was leaving
East Falmouth under a cloud and coming to New Bedford, Mendonca had been
appointed pastor to do damage control for the departing Ávila.
Here is the entry in the 1965 Official Catholic Directory:
In 1975, Mendonca was in New Bedford, doing damage control at Our Lady
of Mount Carmel, and it is alleged that at least one of the priests with
him, George F. Almeida, participated actively in the cover-up as well.
Meanwhile, Ávila retreated to his native Azores for a year or so,
and then returned to East Falmouth. He died in 1988, as reported in the
Official Catholic Directory for 1989:
The Official Catholic Directory does not report his burial,
but a special "Clergy Burial Grounds" was created for him in
the diocesan cemetery behind St. Anthony's, his old parish church in East
Falmouth (see the list of cemeteries in the 1989 Official Catholic
Directory above). There are only two stones in the Clergy Burial
Grounds, one for Ávila and one intended for Simões, who
is still alive and living in East Falmouth. Alleged victims and parents
of alleged victims are buried in the graveyard in front of these two plots,
and a large American flag flies over the priests' graves, to the distress
of alleged victims who served in the armed forces.
Why were these alleged abusers accorded such honors in a diocesan cemetery?
Who made the decision to bury them in this way? What can be done to right
this terrible wrong?
Links to the entire Guide:
1. How to Create
a Assignment Record in a Few Easy Steps
2. Last Year at
St. Anthony's: Looking Up a Priest in the Official Catholic Directory
2a. Are There
Gaps in the Parish Records of the Official Catholic Directory?
3. Parish School
and Festival: Transfers in the Official Catholic Directory
Priests: Background in the Official Catholic Directory
Burial Grounds: Retirement and Death in the Official Catholic Directory
6. Heal the Sick:
Chaplains and Treatment in the Official Catholic Directory