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.
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
– Read about Fr. Almeida’s call: “Imitating Mary’s ‘yes’”
– Even in retirement, Father Almeida continues ministering to military.