Rev. Bento Richard Fraga, age 81 died at Sacred Heart Home, New Bedford on Easter Sunday morning, April 8, 2012 after long and multiple illnesses. He was the son of Etelvina and Antonio Bertao Coelho Fraga and the natural leader of a Great Generation of older siblings who, from an early age, worked the Fraga Farm to support their widowed mother and younger siblings.
Ben graduated from Coyle High School and entered Stonehill College in 1948, a member of Stonehill’s first freshman class. With the guidance of his mentor, Fr. Leo Duarte, and the support of his mother, he transferred in 1950 to St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, MD where he completed his studies and prepared for the priesthood.
On March 17, 1956, in the midst of a blizzard, he was ordained at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Fall River to serve in the Diocese of Fall River. Fr. Fraga served the diocese as curate at St. John of God, Somerset, and at St. Joseph, Taunton. He also served as curate, Administrator and then Pastor at Holy Ghost, Attleboro, as pastor at St. John the Baptist Church, New Bedford and at St. Peter’s Provincetown and at St. Paul’s Parish in Taunton ending full time ministry in 2005. He worked in retirement at his boyhood parish, St. Anthony’s, Taunton, until 2008. He then lived at the Holy Cross Retirement Home in Dartmouth, MA and at the home of his cousin, John Ferreira in Taunton.
Fr. Ben was a devoted son, brother and uncle. He worked at the old Market Basket, Main St., Taunton during high school and college. During his seminary years, he reconceptualized his father’s dairy farm and founded Fraga Farms, a wholesale and retail market garden. He managed his brothers and sisters in running this self-sustaining family business from 1946 to 1956. The farm was especially known for its fresh sweet corn, strawberries and farm grown spring pansies. He brought the same industry and leadership of his youth into ministry where he was an engine for improvement, concern for the sick and dying, hospitality and community building -all with a wry sense of humor.
Ben was fond his home on Cape Cod, of nature, gardening and of cooking for family and friends who were often gifted with generous gatherings and his famous homemade jellies.
He leaves sisters Ethel Fraga, Helen Annunziato and husband, Len Cabaceiras, sister in law, Mary Fraga as well as brothers George, and wife Marian; Al and wife Linda; Edward, Paul and wife Kathy - as well as 3 generations of beloved nieces and nephews who brought joy to his life. He was predeceased by Delfina, Tony, Joe, Sr. Mary and Louis Fraga and sisters in law Irene and Sheila. Fr. Fraga also leaves faithful and supportive fellow clergy, friends, relatives and former parishioners.
His family is particularly grateful to their nephew, Atty. Christopher A. Fraga, to the staff at Sacred Heart Home, the Holy Cross community of Dartmouth, MA, cousin, John Ferreira and Fr. Henry Arruda.
Memorials in Fr. Fraga’s name may be made to the Holy Cross Fathers c/o Christopher Fraga JD, 10 Commerce Way, Suite 7, Raynham, MA 02767
His funeral will take place THURSDAY with a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Anthony Church, 126 School St., Taunton at 10:00 A.M. preceded by a calling hours from 9:00-10:00 A.M. Interment in St. Joseph Cemetery, Taunton. Arrangements are under the direction of the Manuel Rogers & Sons Funeral Home 1521 N. Main St., Fall River. www.rogersfuneral.com