Clergy from the Diocese of Fall River form the musical group Vatican III

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FALL RIVER — Two priests and two deacons step onto a stage and pick up instruments (stop me if you heard this one).

The result – a heavenly, rowdy experience of Vatican III, a quartet of Catholic clerics from the Diocese of Fall River and Boston who dedicate their free time to performing in the name of the Lord. But above all for the simple love of music.

“We all really love playing and want to share it with other people,” said Father Matt Gill, 32, administrator of Holy Family Church in East Taunton.

“I think God gives each individual gifts and talents in different areas of their lives and we use all the gifts and talents we have to build up other people, to build up the church, to build up His kingdom here. on earth.”

Members of Vatican III will perform in 2021 in Harvard's St. Paul's Square.  Father Pat Fiorillo, parochial vicar of St. Paul's Parish in Cambridge and undergraduate chaplain at Harvard, plays drums, Father Matt Gill of Holy Family Church in East Taunton plays bass, Deacon Larry Valliere plays guitar and Deacon Matthew Laird plays saxophone.

Gill was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Fall River in June 2018, serving at St. Mary’s in Nantucket, followed by several parishes in Barnstable before finding a home in East Taunton last August.

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The Attleboro native, who plays bass, is joined by Father Pat Fiorillo, parochial vicar of St. Paul Parish of Cambridge and undergraduate chaplain at Harvard, on drums, Deacon Larry Valliere on guitar and deacon Matthew Laird on saxophone to compose the Vatican. III.

The group, which has been serving up its jazz since 2013, got its start at St. John’s Seminary in Boston, where the group first met.

Each had prior musical experience and began playing for fun in the seminary common room, before eventually taking the show on the road and performing in their various parish missions.

Gill, who majored in music and environmental chemistry at McDaniel College in Maryland before being called to the priesthood, admits he didn’t think he’d play again when he entered seminary, but his father l encouraged to bring his guitar as a fun hobby.

The rest is history.

Father Matt Gill plays bass during a 2021 Vatican III performance at St. Paul's Harvard Square.

For Gill and his colleagues, the call to the ministry of the word of God and the ministry of music go hand in hand and over the years they have spread their passion for both throughout the South Coast and beyond.

And while they aren’t selling out the stadiums anytime soon, and have no plans to, members of the local church community are eager to see these talented cloth jam men on stage.

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“People have been very nice and very kind…I think people have appreciated it,” Gill said. “People have told us they were pleasantly surprised and impressed when we started playing.”

Gill has described the band’s style as funk and jazz fusion, so you won’t find any “Stairway to Heaven” or “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” in their repertoire. But their list of crowd-pleasing sets includes various jazz standards, covers of Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, jazz renditions of songs from other genres, such as “Low Rider”, as well as a handful of original songs.

Deacon Matt Laird plays saxophone and Deacon Larry Valliere plays guitar during a 2021 Vatican III performance at St. Paul's Harvard Square.

When Gill isn’t celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, baptizing babies, praying for the sick, and the many other things that make up the life of a priest, he and his fellow clergymen raise the roof in local parishes.

On April 22, they will perform their lively show at Our Lady of Grace Church in Westport, where Deacon Laird attends services on weekends when he is not in seminary.

Father Pat Fiorillo plays drums during a 2021 Vatican III performance at St. Paul's Harvard Square.

Both Laird and Valliere were ordained transitional deacons in the Diocese of Fall River last May and will soon be ordained priests. Valliere serves at Holy Name Church in Fall River.

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After a two-year hiatus due to COVID, Vatican III returned to the stage last November and Gill is happy to be back.

“As with everything in society today, it’s nice to have something close to the return to normal after the pandemic…it’s nice to have a community and to see people,” said he declared.

Deacon Larry Valliere plays guitar during a 2021 Vatican III performance at St. Paul's Harvard Square.

Although everyone had a lot on their plate, Gill said they always made time for the music, something that bonded the group and kept them connected beyond the seminar.

“It’s a good time for brotherhood and for growing in friendship,” said Gill, who noted that they would often catch up over dinner on rehearsal days. “Just a conversation and the time spent together to find out if it’s something musical or something in the seminary or in the parish. »

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So what does the future of Vatican III hold for us?

“I’m going on a world tour,” Gill joked.

Kidding aside, Vatican III has another show in the works for June 8 to benefit the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption in Fall River.

Vatican III members, left to right: Father Pat Fiorillo, parochial vicar of St. Paul's Parish in Cambridge and undergraduate chaplain at Harvard, plays drums, Father Matt Gill of Holy Family Church in East Taunton plays bass, Deacon Larry Valliere plays guitar, and Deacon Matthew Laird plays saxophone.

All proceeds from the Fall River Cathedral Gala at White’s of Westport will help fund much-needed repairs and renovations to the building at 327 2nd St., which has served as the center of the Diocese of Fall River since 1904.

For more information on the show and for tickets, visit https://www.catholicfoundationsema.org/cathedral-gala.

Visit the Vatican III Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/vaticaniii for a look at past performances and to find out where they’ll be playing next.

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