Pastor’s Welcome

Getting to know Fr. Bob Powell

1967-72

After graduation I entered the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. I did my postulancy & novitiate in Wareham. As a temporary professed brother I then attended college at St. Mary’s College in Winona, MN. I graduated in 1972 with a major in philosophy & a minor in music. During this period I also taught CCD to high school students, was music coordinator for the college chapel, a member of the intercollegiate chorus.

1972-76

After graduating from college I attended the Graduate Theological Union in Washington D.C. In addition to studying theology I also received training as a group counselor at the Washington Psychiatric Institute as well as studying counseling psychology at Catholic University. During this period I also completed a 13 week intensive CPE (clinical pastoral education) at a teaching psychiatric hospital in Columbia, SC.

After two years I took a break from my studies & did a 9 month supervised pastoral experience at Damien High School for Boys in Southern California. I taught religion to all four grades as well as psychology as a junior/senior elective. I also began a campus ministry there and retreat program for upperclassman. I was also coordinator for tri-school liturgies & began a religious education program for parents of our students. I also did some ministry at a state youth prison facility. At the end of the year I wrote & submitted a Pastoral Thesis on “Why the Church Should Have Schools”, which was accepted as part of my Masters of Divinity degree.

In June of 1975 I took my final vows as a religious of the Sacred Hearts Community & a member of the West Coast Province. I then returned for my third year to graduate school in Washington D.C.

In April of 1976 I graduated with a M. Div. degree, was ordained a transitional deacon. I then completed my deaconate experience at St. Joseph Parish in Fairhaven, MA, where I was ordained a priest by Bishop Cronin. My 1st Mass was at St. Joseph’s Church in New Bedford, where I had been baptized and confirmed.

1976-1978

My first assignment after ordination was to temporarily (3 months) take the place of a pastor in Hawaii in a parish on the north shore of Oahu. I then returned to Damien High School to continue the ministry I had begun there. During this time requests began coming to me for spiritual direction. I then studied spirituality for two summers at The United Institute in Bethlehem CT. & also became a member of the Western Association of Spiritual Directors, attending workshops twice per year.

1978-1981

At this time I left school ministry & began a ministry as a full time spiritual director and retreat director. My first year I traveled throughout southern California. I was then asked by my community to become director of Sacred Heart Retreat House in Gallup, NM. which I did for two years, continuing to also do spiritual direction.

1981-1983

After I completed my two commitment in Gallup, I became assistant dir. of the Newman Center at UC Davis, near Sacramento CA. I developed their retreat ministry there, did pastoral counseling & spiritual direction.

1983-1989

I was appointed vocation director & assistant novice master of the Sacred Hearts Community for the four English speaking provinces. After one year I attended a 9 month international program in Formative Spirituality at The Institute of Religious Formation at The University of St. Louis. Upon completion I was named novice master for the three US provinces at Hemet, CA. During these four years as novice master I also preached at a youth Mass every Sunday night at the parish in the town of Hemet. I also taught adult religious education offering a course each season of the year. I also offered Mass once each month at two local Native American Reservations as well as at a nearby prison camp. I also managed to find the time to give workshops on the renewal of religious life to both the brothers & sisters of my community of the Sacred Hearts. I also served on the bishop’s advisory council for religious for two years & served for one year as the 1st diocesan director for AIDS Ministry. I also continued to do spiritual direction.

1989-1998

As I hit mid life I found myself at the novitiate yearning for a life of deeper prayer & solitude. I had been introduced to contemplative spirituality during my graduate school days after having taken a course on Thomas Merton, Trappist monk & popular writer. So I had been following a contemplative path on my own basically, reading as much as I could on it & frequently making retreats at monastic settings. After several visits to the Camaldolese Monks of Big Sur, CA I decided to explore the life there. I eventually transferred into that order. The Camaldolese are a small branch of the Benedictine Order, founded by St. Romauld 1000 years ago. They have rural & urban monasteries (where the monks live under one roof) as well as wilderness hermitages ( where the monks live in separate cottages called cells). I was living at the hermitage, which consisted of a life of community & solitude, each flowing back & forth. For the 9 years that I spent there I was Guest Master (overseeing the retreat program & guests) as well as Oblate director, vocation director, assistant postulant director & newsletter editor. I also gave occasional retreats outside the Hermitage. Unfortunately due to ill health I had to leave the community & decided to return to my roots, the diocese of Fall River.

1998-1999

Appointed parochial vicar at St. Pius X Parish in S. Yarmouth, MA

1999-2001

Appointed parochial vicar at St. Julie’s Parish in Dartmouth, MA

2001-2005

Appointed part time parochial vicar at St. Mary’s Parish in Seekonk & part time chaplain at Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro, MA

2005-2006

Appointed Administrator of St. Mary’s Parish in North Attleboro, MA

2006-2014

Appointed Pastor of St. Joan of Arc Parish, Orleans, MA

2014-

Appointed Administrator of St. Lawrence Parish, New Bedford, MA