Published on the New Bedford Standard-Times, October 8, 2000.

Holy Ghost Museum inches closer to reality

by Pedro M. Amaral
The Fall River Holy Ghost Museum is inching a little closer to reality with the appointment of a core committee to coordinate its development.
Heitor Sousa, founder and organizer of the Great New England Holy Ghost Feast, presided over a meeting at Comercial dos Açores, in Fall River. He said he was very excited to see the project moving forward and he wants the museum to open by next August.
"We already have the promise of support from the Portuguese government and the backing of the diocese; therefore, we have to move fast," he said. "I hope to see the museum already open by our next feast, in August, even if it means to partially open it before it is complete. But I am convinced we can do it, because we have a group of people with the initiative and stamina to move forward, even in face of adversity."
Mr. Sousa proposed several names to head the project, including Jose Rocha, current feast president; Clemente Anastácio and António Carvalho, committee members; José Francisco Costa, a teacher at Bristol Community College; and Caetano Valadão Serpa and Dionízio Costa, school counselors in Cambridge and Taunton, respectively.
Other proposed names included Rev. Jack Oliveira, of New Bedford; Rep. Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport; Alfredo Alves, Fall River city councilor; Francisco Cabral, director of SER-JOBS for Progress; and João Carlos Tavares, a reporter for several Portuguese newspapers and news agencies.
Mr. Sousa remembered that the idea for the museum originated with Mr. Tavares.
"About four years ago, he wrote an article suggesting the museum in Fall River. I called him a couple of days later and told him it was a good idea.
"But of course, the Great Feast alone could not afford to have a museum built," Mr. Sousa said. "When about two years ago, Dr. Jaime Gama (Portuguese Minister of Foreign affairs) visited the area he knew of Mr. Tavares' idea and mentioned it during a lunch at a local restaurant, O Estoril. He said, 'We will help you as we are helping the Whaling Museum in New Bedford and the Heritage Museum in Providence.' But I fell ill shortly after, and the idea lay dormant for two years. When Dr. Gama returned this year, he spoke of the museum and the help the Portuguese government was willing to forward to us. But he was quick to point out the need to have a committee that would include members of the Great Holy Ghost Feast committee, the Fall River Diocese, the city government, and the Portuguese consul in New Bedford."
Mr. Sousa said many people who own artifacts related to the Holy Ghost feast plan to donate them to the museum. In addition, he plans to have delegates on every island of the Azores to collect and forward many original articles to be exhibited at the museum.
Mr. Sousa said Bishop Sean P. O'Malley has been very supportive of the museum in Fall River.
"We met in August to discuss the museum and he proposed the St. Louis Church, on Bradford Ave. as the site for the museum. I said to him, 'Bishop O'Malley, I think the Holy Ghost is behind this idea. Had I not been sick we would probably have built the museum by now, only God knows where. But because I got sick two years ago and nothing was done, that was enough time for the church to close and for you to propose it as the site for our museum.' And it is the perfect site, spacious and close to Kennedy Park."
Mr. Sousa said he is planning another meeting, probably this Thursday, with Dr. Carlos Fazendeiro, the Portuguese consul; Mayor Edward Lambert, Jr.; and Rev. Jack Oliveira to take another step on the way toward the Holy Ghost Museum in Fall River.
"I spoke with Rev. Oliveira and he is willing to be part of this committee," Mr. Souza said.
In fact, he suggested the philharmonic bands and the folkloric groups be represented at the museum as well. And he is right, because the bands and the groups are traditionally part of the Holy Ghost celebration."
"One thing has to be made clear: we are planning this committee to help the idea get off the ground, but the museum will always be administered by the elected members Great Holy Ghost Feast committee," Mr. Sousa said.

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