5. Clergy Burial Grounds: Retirement and Death in the Official Catholic Directory

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

4.   Distinguished Priests: Background in the Official Catholic Directory

5.   Clergy Burial Grounds: Retirement and Death in the Official Catholic Directory

6.   Heal the Sick: Chaplains and Treatment in the Official Catholic Directory


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