Pastor’s Welcome

Getting to know Fr. Bob Powell


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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