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The risen Jesus, not money or power, is the source of life, pope says
| April 23, 2014 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


A policeman watches through the colonnade as Pope Francis
greets the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter's Square
April 23. (CNS/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY—Too often people are fixated on material things, money, power or status—none of which can give life and joy, Pope Francis said.

Christians need to examine their lives with the question the angel asked the women who went to the tomb to anoint the body of the buried Jesus: "Why do you seek the living among the dead?" the pope said.

At his weekly general audience April 23, Pope Francis had the tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square repeat the angel's Easter question three times.

Sometimes, the pope said, people act as if "a dead Jesus would be less of a bother than a living Jesus," yet his victory over death is the source of Christian hope and the assurance that we, too, will live with him.

When "we close ourselves up in any kind of selfishness or self-satisfaction, when we let ourselves be seduced by earthly power and the things of this world, forgetting God and our neighbor; when we put our hopes in worldly vanity, money and success," he said, that is the time people must ask themselves the angel's question.

Although it did not rain during the pope's audience, the sky was gray, and raindrops were falling earlier in the morning. To keep the sick and people with disabilities warm and dry, the Vatican had them wait in the Paul VI audience hall. Pope Francis went to the hall before the audience and spent more than half an hour greeting the people gathered there.

Talking to people in St. Peter's Square about Easter and the joy that should mark the lives of all Christians, the pope said, "too often we seek the living among things that are dead, among things that cannot give life, among things that exist today and are gone tomorrow."

Christians are called to fight "the temptation to keep looking back," the pope said, and instead move toward the future. "Yesterday is the tomb of Jesus and the tomb of the church," but Jesus is alive and so is his body, the church. He keeps it alive and moving forward.

When people feel like hiding after some kind of failure, when they feel unable to pray or feel alone or abandoned, even by God, when they feel "imprisoned by sin," Pope Francis said, they need to ask themselves again why they are focused on the tomb of a dead man rather than on the life-giving victory of the Risen Lord.

"Look, brothers and sisters," he said, "he is alive and is with us! Don't go to those tombs that promise something, but in the end give nothing."

Before concluding the audience, the pope spoke movingly and forcefully about a video message he said he received from Italian workers unemployed after the closure of a steel mill.

"It made me so sad," the pope said. "Dear workers, dear brothers, on your faces there was such sadness and the worry of fathers who ask only for the right to work so they can live with dignity and care for, feed and educate their children."

Pope Francis asked the factory owners to be creative and generous in finding ways "to reignite hope in the hearts of these brothers of ours and in the hearts of everyone who is unemployed because of waste and the economic crisis."

"Please," the pope said to business owners, "open your eyes and don't just stand there with your arms crossed."


To read the original story click here.

Christ is Hope! Happy Easter!
| April 20, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Enjoy these photos from The Holy Saturday Easter Vigil Mass celebrated by Bishop Caggiano at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport. The liturgy began with with the lighting of the Paschal Candle outside of the Cathedral. Holy Saturday was also the day that Elected Catechumens and candidates (new Catholics) from the parish received their sacraments from Bishop Caggiano.

Click here to view the slideshow!

VATICAN - Pope's Easter Message
| April 20, 2014 • by By NEWS.VA, the Official Vatican Network


VATICAN—Pope's Easter Message: "Christ is hope and comfort to the Christian communities suffering most for their faith on account of discrimination and persecution ... is close to all human situations of suffering and injustice."

"Vatican City (Agenzia Fides)—"If Jesus is risen, then—and only then—has something truly new happened, something that changes the state of humanity and the world." 

"Then He, Jesus, is someone in whom we can put absolute trust; we can put our trust not only in his message, but in Jesus himself, for the Risen One does not belong to the past, but is present today, alive."

These are the words spoken by Holy Father Benedict XVI at noon on Easter Sunday, April 8, from the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica. In his Easter Message, followed by the Easter wishes in 65 languages to peoples and nations throughout the world, and the Blessing Urbi et Orbi, the Pope said: "Christ is hope and comfort to the Christian communities suffering most for their faith on account of discrimination and persecution. And he is present as a force of hope through his Church, which is close to all human situations of suffering and injustice."

Benedict XVI continued: "May the Risen Christ grant hope to the Middle East and enable all ethnic, cultural and religious groups in that region to work together to advance the common good and respect for human rights. Particularly in Syria, may there be an end to bloodshed and an immediate commitment to the path of respect, dialogue and reconciliation, as called for by the international community. May the many refugees from that country who are in need of humanitarian assistance find the acceptance and solidarity capable of relieving their dreadful suffering. May the Paschal victory encourage the Iraqi people to spare no effort in pursuing the path of stability and development. In the Holy Land, may Israelis and Palestinians courageously take up anew the peace process."

A particular memory on behalf of the Pope went to the African continent: "May the Lord, the victor over evil and death, sustain the Christian communities of the African continent; may he grant them hope in facing their difficulties, and make them peacemakers and agents of development in the societies to which they belong. May the Risen Jesus comfort the suffering populations of the Horn of Africa and favour their reconciliation; may he help the Great Lakes Region, Sudan and South Sudan, and grant their inhabitants the power of forgiveness. In Mali, now experiencing delicate political developments, may the Glorious Christ grant peace and stability. To Nigeria, which in recent times has experienced savage terrorist attacks, may the joy of Easter grant the strength needed to take up anew the building of a society which is peaceful and respectful of the religious freedom of all its citizens." (SL) (Agenzia Fides 11/04/2012)


From the Official Vatican Network

In Rome's Colosseum, pope, thousands reflect on world's injustices
| April 19, 2014 • by By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service


ROME—Seated atop a hillside overlooking Rome's Colosseum, Pope Francis presided over the nighttime Way of the Cross, joining thousands of people gathered in prayer.

The solemn torch-lit service April 18 gave powerful voice to the many social and spiritual problems facing the world and to the redeeming power of Christ's sacrifice for humanity.

By passing a bare wooden cross from one group of people to the next in succession, those chosen to lead the Way of the Cross acted as visible representatives of the often-hidden injustices still wounding the world.

Two children held the cross as a reflection was read about the plight of sexually abused minors, and two inmates carried the cross during a reflection on the anguish of imprisonment and torture.

As he did last year, Pope Francis remained on the hillside terrace in silent reflection and prayer as thousands of people, many holding candles, attended the ceremony, which was broadcast by more than 50 television networks around the world.

While he offered a very brief impromptu reflection last year at the end of the ceremony, the pope was not scheduled to speak this year.

Each year, the pope chooses a different person or group of people to write the series of prayers and reflections that are read aloud for each of the 14 stations, which commemorate Christ's condemnation, his carrying the cross to Golgotha, his crucifixion and his burial.

This year the pope picked Italian Archbishop Giancarlo Maria Bregantini of Campobasso-Boiano—a former factory worker, longtime prison chaplain, champion of the unemployed and fiercely outspoken critic of the Italian mafia.

In the meditations, the archbishop, who belongs to Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata, looked at how the wounds and suffering of Christ are found in the wounds and suffering of one's neighbors, family, children and world.

For the second station—Jesus takes up his cross—the archbishop criticized the global economic crisis' grave consequences, like job insecurity, unemployment, suicide among owners of failing businesses and corruption.

A laborer and a business leader carried the cross, "which weighs upon the world of labor, the injustice shouldered by workers," said the reflection, which was followed by a call for people to respect political life and resolve problems together.

For the fourth station—Jesus meets his mother—two former addicts carried the cross as people meditated on the tears mothers shed for their children sent off to war, dying of cancer from toxic wastelands or lost in "the abyss of drugs or alcohol, especially on Saturday nights."

For the fifth station—Jesus is helped by Simon of Cyrene to carry his cross—two people living on the street carried the cross as a reflection was read about "finding God in everyone" and sharing "our bread and labor" with others.

For the eighth station—Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem—two women carried the cross, as the meditation deplored domestic violence, "Let us weep for those men who vent on women all their pent-up violence" and to weep for women who are "enslaved by fear and exploitation."

But compassion is not enough, the archbishop wrote: "Jesus demands more." Follow his example of offering reassurance and support "so that our children may grow in dignity and hope."

The archbishop's meditations had equally strong words about the sexual abuse of children and its cover-up.

Two children carried the cross for the 10th station—Jesus is stripped of his garments—as the reflection crafted an image of the utter humiliation of Jesus being stripped naked, "covered only by the blood which flowed from his gaping wounds."

"In Jesus, innocent, stripped and tortured, we see the outraged dignity of all the innocent, especially the little ones," the meditation said.

A family held the cross for a reflection on the need for kindness and shared suffering; two older people carried the cross during a reflection on how age and infirmity can become "a great school of wisdom, an encounter with God who is ever patient."

Two Franciscan friars from the Holy Land carried the cross during a meditation on Christ emerging from the fear of death as a sign how forgiveness "renews, heals, transforms and comforts" and ends wars.

Editors: The Way of the Cross meditations are available in English and Spanish at:

‘He inspires others’
| April 17, 2014
Posted in Annual Bishop's Appeal


BRIDGEPORT—If Angelo Cocco had his way, the Annual Bishop’s Appeal would be called “Christ’s Appeal.” For six years, he has been ABA coordinator at St. Margaret’s Shrine in Bridgeport, and each year, under his leadership, his parish has exceeded its goal. They have already met their goal for this year, but “I am still raising money,” Cocco said.

For Cocco, it is very important that Catholics gather in church to worship God through the Mass. Conversely, he said that it is equally important that “we practice our religion when we leave church.” For him, “helping the poor is what defines us as Catholics.”

A life-long Bridgeport resident, Cocco has been a parishioner at Holy Rosary and St. Raphael parishes, and now St. Margaret Shrine. Six years ago, as rector of the Shrine, Father Alphonso Picone invited Cocco to lead the ABA because Cocco impressed him “as a man of faith with a deep commitment to helping others.”

Having accepted the invitation, Cocco approaches his “volunteer” role with gusto and zeal. Indeed, the success of the appeal depends on dedicated volunteers like him.   

As part of his role as lay leader of the Annual Appeal, Cocco arranges for guest speakers, distributes materials, provides bulletin announcements and even takes to the pulpit himself. “The people have made it easy for me to ask, and I spell out clearly where the money goes and how much it is needed,” he said. “It feeds the hungry, puts a roof over people’s heads, supports youth activities at places like the Sheehan Center and supports all kinds of Christian charity in the diocese.”

Because of his fund-raising success, it is helpful to analyze his approach. “First,” he said, “I tell everyone to stop what they are doing and follow Jesus Christ!” He frames the appeal within the context of an invitation: “The Bishop’s Appeal is the same invitation that Jesus gave to St. Peter. Our God is a living God and he hasn’t stopped sending out invitations.”

Ultimately, “This is a labor of love for me,” he said. “I inherited this labor of love from my parents who instilled in me the importance of helping people in need. It is like a passion with me. When I speak to people, I speak from my heart.”

“I thought he would be just right to run the appeal,” Father Alphonso said. “He brings the whole thing together and inspires others to give.”                            

900 years of enduring, steadfast, faithful service
| April 17, 2014 • by By Cece and Mike Donoghue
Posted in Annual Bishop's Appeal


STAMFORD—The foundations of a bridge are particularly critical because they must support the entire weight of the bridge and the traffic loads that it will carry. When we talk about “Building Bridges in Faith and Charity” we would be remiss if we did not recognize the very foundations of our bridge. Many of the critical foundations of the Bridgeport Diocese reside at the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of Clergy Retired Priests Residence in Stamford. These are the very men who supported and helped to steady our diocese through the changing tides over the years. These very special priests are the foundations of our bridge that have helped to keep our diocese sound.

We had the pleasure of sharing a meal with a number of the retired priests who reside at The Queen of Clergy. What a privilege for us to dine and visit with the men who have served our church for generations and generations. Collectively more than 900 years of building, upholding and ministering to the people of the Bridgeport Diocese.

The priesthood is a life-long gift, and just because these men are retired it does not mean they have lost their desire to serve and minister to our diocese. On the contrary, the retired priests who reside at Queen of Clergy demonstrate how deeply they love Christ and the people of our diocese by their continued service. They are saying Masses, filling in for parish priests, doing hospital ministry and celebrating Mass in nursing homes—and they couldn’t be more thrilled to carry on their vocations and share their knowledge, faith and pastoral gifts.

The Queen of Clergy Retired Priests Residence is located on the campus of St. Bridget of Ireland Parish in Stamford on Strawberry Hill Avenue. Presently, 18 priests call the residence home. A home where retired priests live in community with one another, care for each other as family, and live an everyday life of mutual support and concern for each other.

It was clear to us on our visit that the residence is exactly that, a residence, not a nursing home. A resident can come and go as he pleases. The day to day operations of the residence are overseen by Vickey Hickey, who has been the administrator since Queen of Clergy opened its doors 14 years ago. She is highly regarded and loved by all at Queen of Clergy and, over the course of the evening, she referred ever so lovingly to all of the resident priests as “my boys.”

These good and holy priests are so deserving of our gratitude. We have been baptized, married, confirmed, forgiven our sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, received Holy Communion, received comfort through the Sacrament of the Sick during illness. Many of these priests have helped our loved ones enter eternal life. Our priests walk the journey of our faith life with us even far into their retirement. Giving to the Annual Bishop’s Appeal gives us the opportunity to say “thank you” to these men whose commitment to walking in the footsteps of Christ and shepherding and caring for his flock is their life’s mission.

Bishop Leads Living Stations of the Cross
| April 17, 2014


STAMFORD—A large gathering joined Bishop Caggiano on Good Friday as he led the Living Stations of the Cross in Stamford. The procession started at Cummings Park and the faithful processed to St. Mary Church on Elm Street.

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The procession will begin at Cummings Park, Shippan Avenue, Stamford, and end at St. Mary Church, 566 Elm Street, Stamford. For more info call 203.324.7321 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Ladies luncheon honors Sister Magnetti
| April 17, 2014 • by By Susan Cecere


GREENWICH—Nearly 300 guests turned out at Greenwich Country Club for The Fourth Annual Ladies Luncheon to benefit the Catholic Academies of Bridgeport.

The event, which honored Sister Joan Magnetti, rscj, Executive Director of Cathedral Academies for her 50 years in education, raised
more than $220,000.

The funds will be used to provide scholarships for students attending St. Ann Academy in Black Rock, Cathedral Academy in downtown Bridgeport and St. Andrew Academy in the North End.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano praised Sister Magnetti for her leadership and thanked all those in attendance for their support of Catholic education in the diocese. Diocesan Chancellor Anne McCrory, Superintendent  of Schools, Sr. Mary Grace Walsh, A.S.C.J., and Dr. Donna Andrade, Academic Dean of Fairfield Preparatory School, were among the leaders at the event.
The luncheon was underwritten by Paul and Anne-Marie Queally of New Canaan. Marylou Queally Salvati of New Canaan chaired the event.

Many sisters from Sr. Magnetti’s order travelled from as far as Albany and Missouri to attend the tribute.

Barbara Rogers, rscj, Headmistress of Stuart Country Day, shared with guests many heartwarming stories about Sr. Magnetti’s early years as a cloistered nun, and her work in Egypt after Vatican II before being assigned Stateside by her order, which has teaching affiliations in 44 countries.

Sr. Magnetti has spent much of the last decade serving as the Executive Director of the Catholic Academies, after a successful career and ministry working in the Network of Sacred Heart Schools, first as teacher and Headmistress at Stuart Country Day School in Princeton, NJ, and then as Headmistress of the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich, CT.
The Catholic Academies of Bridgeport serves 1,025 inner-city children in three schools: St. Andrew Academy, St. Ann Academy and Cathedral Academy (upper and lower schools).

More than 65 percent of students receive some sort of tuition assistance, with the Catholic Academies awarding more than $2 million in scholarships annually.

The Diocese of Bridgeport educates children in the Catholic Academies at a cost of $6,000 per student compared to $14,000 in Bridgeport public schools. 100% of Catholic Academies students graduate high school, while the Bridgeport High School graduation rate is only 55 percent. And of our graduates, 99 percent pursued post-secondary education.

View the slideshow here

Bishop celebrates first Chrism Mass in Bridgeport
| April 16, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—The procession into St. Augustine Cathedral lasted almost ten minutes as more than 300 priests and deacons of the Diocese of Bridgeport attended the first Chrism Mass celebrated by their new bishop.

On a day with a strong sun and whipping cold wind, priests throughout the diocese processed in singing “Lift High the Cross,” and later resolve together “to be more united with the Lord Jesus and more closely conformed to him.”

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano  told the gathering that the Chrism Mass celebrates “the anniversary of that day the when Christ bestowed the Priesthood on us,” and he urged priests to “bring springtime into the life of the Church by seeking holiness in whatever states of life God has chosen for us.”
At the yearly Chrism Mass, priests renew their priestly promises and the bishop blesses the sacramental oils that are used throughout the year in parishes and at ordinations.
In his homily, which he delivered from the center aisle of the Cathedral, Bishop Caggiano urged priests to let go of any anger, jealousy or past disappointments by strengthening their brotherly bonds with one another and by becoming true servants of others.
“As priests we share a unique configuration to Christ that sets us apart, not because we are better but because we are different. Our lives are meant to sanctify others, but we must come to them as servants.”
The bishop said that the Chrism Mass “reminds you and me that we have been given to each other as true brothers. We look to each other for strength. When I falter, you will be my strength, and when you need help, I will be here for you.”
In reflecting on the blessing of the oil and consecration of the Chrism oil during the Mass, the bishop said that olive oil was both a symbol of nourishment and medicine in the ancient world.
“The oils remind us what the Lord asks of us to do in His name.  Through our unworthy hands we have the privilege to offer the Eucharist and celebrate his mystery.”
The Bishop said that in an age when a sense of sin or wrong doing has been replaced by the notion that people simply make mistakes or bad choices, the Chrism Mass reminds us that we are all sinners and need to be set free by Christ who “breaks the chains of sin.”
The Bishop’s first Chrism Mass was also an eventful one because the incense lit to begin the procession triggered the smoke alarm and within minutes the Bridgeport Fire Department was at the back door of the Cathedral.
Sirens approached the Cathedral for a second time just before the Presentation of Gifts when one of the priests fainted and EMT’s moved down the center aisle to care for him.
In brief remarks after Mass, Bishop Caggiano noted that his mentor Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn told him that “he would never forget his first Chrism Mass” in his own diocese.
“Little did I know how right he was,” said Bishop Caggiano. “This has been a blessed day for all of us with a beautiful and joyful celebration. Thank you.”
After Mass, the holy oils that were consecrated on the altar were distributed to priests who will use them in their parishes when blessing the sick and in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

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Betrayal and fight for forgiveness
| April 16, 2014 • by By Joe Pisani


Swimming Upstream
By Joe Pisani

Ellen’s husband was a prominent member of the community, a man so successful his name regularly appeared in newspapers and business journals, a man who was recognized for his many accomplishments. A true model of probity.

They were high school sweethearts who got married shortly after graduating from college, and throughout those early years as he struggled to make his name, she thought of themselves as partners in his career. When the kids came along, he added “fatherhood” to his resume. It was a busy life, full of accomplishment and acquisition—all the worldly goals we often pursue to the detriment of what is truly important.

But in middle age, things started to fall apart. He found a younger woman and had an affair. He left Ellen after a painful divorce. A lifetime of joys and sorrows dissolved overnight, and Ellen had to face the world alone.

Her story is a familiar one in modern America, where marriages are considered expendable, and fidelity isn’t as socially acceptable as adultery.

After the divorce, the stress was so overwhelming that she suffered a heart attack, along with chronic depression. The spiritual and emotional cost was high. She even questioned her faith and was overcome by a debilitating resentment—“hatred” would be a more appropriate word—because of what her ex-husband and “the other woman” did to her.

Ellen’s story of adultery and abandonment, which in another era would have been uncommon, is too common in our era. There’s an epidemic of divorce among Baby Boomers. While the divorce rate has decreased to 40 percent for first marriages—down from the long-term 50 percent—the divorce rate for Boomers is the fastest growing and has doubled in the past two decades. For couples over age 50, one in four marriages ends in divorce.

Even though Ellen’s story of emotional hardship is shared by many women and men, her story of recovery is quite different. It’s one that is difficult for many of us to grasp because it involves forgiveness for a terrible betrayal. You might say she had a miracle.

After months of pain, she realized she couldn’t spend the rest of her life hating, regardless of who was wrong and who was right. Sometimes being right is a small consolation.

She had to change and become a different woman, a new woman. The first thing she had to do was forgive, but she couldn’t do that until she let go of her resentment and turned it over to God. Every day, she said a simple prayer. She asked Jesus—she pleaded with Jesus—to take away the anger and let her see the other woman as he did. And that’s when the miracle began.

Our spiritual line of sight changes when Jesus gives us the grace to see people as he does. It melts away resentment, it leads to compassion and it helps us forgive wrongs that are, quite simply, humanly impossible to forgive. We become more like Christ and less like ourselves when we ask to see the world and other people through his eyes.

On our own, forgiveness doesn’t seem possible, especially when you’ve suffered the kind of betrayal Ellen did. However, Christ’s love is infinite, and he can give us what we need to change our view of others, especially the people who wound us or abuse us.

I once worked with a man who certainly ranked among the most despicable people I’ve ever met. He talked the talk but never walked the walk when it came to values, and he was always sitting in judgment of others and looking for opportunities to advance himself at someone else’s expense.

Needless to say, I began suffering from the kind of all-consuming resentment that turns you into the thing you despise the most. Even worse, my anger over this man’s behavior was contagious, and many of us would meet after work to share horror stories and fuel our rancor.

My father, who was in Alcoholic Anonymous for the last 25 years of his life, always said resentment was a leading cause of drinking, a luxury that he couldn’t afford. When I’d grumble about the boss, my girlfriend or a rival, his response was always the same: “Pray for them.”

“What???” I’d snarl. “How can I pray for someone I despise? I’d rather pray that he croak.”

Out of desperation, I decided to try his suggestion, and when I started praying to see this person as Christ did, I had a series of revelations that changed my thinking. I learned he had many family problems. I learned he had been physically and emotionally abused as a child. I learned several other things, which shouldn’t be excuses for his behavior, but which took away a lot of my hostility until eventually I felt pity for him. I wish I could say I learned to “love” him, but I’m not that good yet.

Forgiving someone you despise, someone who has wronged you, is a monumental task, and it can only be achieved with Christ’s grace and guidance. Christ sees the whole picture, and when he gives you an opportunity to see things through his eyes, the results are always startling and often life-changing.            
Joe Pisani has been a writer and editor for 30 years.    

Let us magnify the Lord together
| April 16, 2014 • by By Denise Bossert


Catholic by Grace
By Denise Bossert

I remember the day I discovered the joy of playing with a prism and the power generated by a magnifying glass. I was sitting on the windowsill of our fifth-grade classroom and chatting with friends. We were looking at Mrs. Grace’s plants and goofing around with the magnifying glasses and prisms. I was fascinated by the rainbows appearing on our notebook paper when we held a prism just so between our fingers and thumb. What an amazing thing, this ray of sunlight! I studied the spectrum, trying to figure out just where one color ended and another began.

A friend was playing with the magnifying glass. She was fascinated by the pinpoint of bright light that she could generate by steadily holding the magnifying glass in one position and letting the sunlight pass through the glass. As we watched and laughed at the wonders of science, her paper began to smoke, and the little spot of bright light turned brown. The paper was on fire. There was one collective intake of breath, and then everyone was silent. We had heard about that sort of thing happening, and now we had witnessed it for ourselves.

If you’ve ever played with rays of sunlight, you understand how our lives can be a prism in the hand of God. Our works become a rainbow of colors for all to see. Beautiful. Drawing the eyes of others toward God, causing their souls to marvel and wonder.

Our souls can be a magnifying glass in the hand of God. We lift our hearts up, and Jesus Christ is magnified. Everyone in proximity holds his breath in wonder, in awe. Miracles happen. Lives are set ablaze.

The divine light reveals our unique gifts, like the colors in the rainbow. The divine light reveals God himself. Power. Majesty. The consuming fire of God.

That day, on a windowsill in a fifth-grade classroom, a group of children were stunned into silence for just a moment. We had been fascinated by the rainbows. But when we realized the power of the sun, and what we could do with a little magnifying glass, we made no sound at all. This was a power too great—something too important—to misuse.

We looked at each other with big eyes and open mouths. And we quietly put the magnifying glass away in a box. We had uncovered a secret about the sun that demanded maturity, awe, respect. When we opened our science books, we now understood as children who had experienced it personally. Hands-on education. The kind of learning that sticks around long after the test and the last day of class. The kind of learning that even the most apathetic student will abide. Yes, we will keep coming back to discover more.

And so it is in matters of faith. Let the little ones—the curious and the apathetic ones—gather around. Let them see the Son as he passes through your life, yielding the colors of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control. Watch, as he displays his power in the middle of human suffering. Or sorrow. Or death. Miracles happen right here. And everyone is stunned. They cannot help but ponder it all. And they will not forget.

It’s Mrs. Grace’s classroom all over again.

St. Catherine of Siena once said we will set the world ablaze if we become what we were meant to become. And what is that? A magnifying glass in the hand of God. Come, let us magnify the Lord, together.             

Denise Bossert is a national Catholic writer and columnist.

Freud’s view: ‘Lieben und Arbeiten’
| April 16, 2014 • by By Thomas H. Hicks


By Thomas H. Hicks

The Church has generally been inimical towards Sigmund Freud. The reason for this is that Freud was a strident atheist, referring to religion as an “illusion.” He also expressed ideas about the sexual etiology of neuroses.

But Freud, as a person, led a good life. He was an exemplary husband and father; kindly and tolerant. He lived a simple life. We have to have the greatest respect for his long, drawn-out battle with cancer. He had a long wrestling match with death as he underwent 33 operations over the course of 16 years. He bore it with heroic equanimity: “My dear old cancer, with which I have been sharing my existence for 16 years.”

Responding to a letter of condolence after Freud’s death, his wife, Martha, stated: “In the end he suffered terribly, so that even those who would most like to keep him forever had to wish for his release. And yet how terribly difficult it is to have to do without him. To continue to live without so much kindness and wisdom beside us... In the 53 years of our married life not one angry word fell between us... Now my life has lost all content and meaning.”

Freud once said: “We cannot remove all suffering, but we can remove some, and we can mitigate some. We can make other people’s lives a little easier and a little more enjoyable.”

When someone asked Freud if he could sum up his ideas and simply state what a normal healthy person can do well, Freud simply said, “Lieben und arbeiten” (to love and to work). That is very profound.

Freud saw that the greatest expression of a human being’s psychological health is his/her capacity to form and sustain loving relationships. To be able to love well is the crowning achievement of maturity. Freud thought this kind of maturity was in short supply. Truly mature people were difficult to find.

Possibly a reason for this is that love feeds on sacrifice, involves self-forgetting, finding oneself by losing oneself, and probably none of us can claim a perfect record in love. We all fail and betray. All love knows repentance for inadequacy.

Love, if it is any good, tends to get better with age. Our capacity for loving mellows and ripens with age. But there is the pessimistic saying of the Japanese spiritual writer, Augustine Okumura: “Life slips away from many people without their ever attaining a deep union of heart” (Awakening to Prayer, p.82).

When you love, you do not tabulate. You love without counting the cost, without keeping a record. The Muslim Sufi, Rumi, said: “Don’t worry if you don’t have wealth and possessions. Worry if you don’t have the troubles of love.” Love is a purging process, a self-emptying process. Love transforms us. I have a sense that Freud recognized all this. He definitely would agree with the statement by A.E. Brooke that: “Life is a chance of learning how to love.”

Ecclesiastes 3:13: “It is God’s gift to a man if he takes pleasure in all his toil.”

What a rich blessing it is to feel that one is doing what one is supposed to be doing, what one was made to do, work that is ours and no one else’s, and work that serves the needs of others. The Protestant reformer John Calvin wrote about the rich blessing of being persuaded that one’s work was “the burden laid upon him by God” (Institutes).

Freud pointed out that it takes maturity and discipline to work well. To do sustained work that has an element of drudgery is a major mark of a mature person. Freud thought that faithful hard work, slow unalterable persistence, eventually yields the harvest. Excellence takes time. When it was pointed out to Ignatz Jan Paderewski, the great Polish pianist, that he was a genius, his response was “Yes, and before that I was a drudge.”

A recent survey concluded that half of all working Americans don’t like their jobs.

There are so many people who seem to have listened to the wrong voice, or as Freud would say, weren’t disciplined or mature enough, and are now engaged in work in which they find no pleasure or purpose.

“I don’t believe in happiness, but I do believe that you’re lucky if you find your work in life” (author Frank McCourt).           

Thomas Hicks is a member of St. Theresa Parish in Trumbull.

Screen wars
| April 16, 2014 • by By Matthew Hennessey


A Dad’s View
By Matthew Hennessey

On my computer screen at work, I have taped the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. Credited to Pope Leo XIII, a nineteenth-century intellectual who helped define the relationship between the Church and the modern world, the prayer was at one time recited after Mass. It fell out of favour in the sixties though, maybe because it projects a slightly militant vibe. St. Michael is a tough customer.

When I get overwhelmed, I find it useful to consult the prayer to St. Michael: “Defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil . . . By the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls.”

I am surrounded by screens. Everywhere I go these days, I find myself staring at a screen. On the couch, in the office, during a walk in the park, at the kitchen table, in the car, on the train—screens everywhere.

In the morning, the computer screen gets turned on even before the coffee pot. While that screen warms up, I grab the smartphone to check for overnight email. Then, a little time pouring milk and blending berries before it’s back to the computer to check the day’s news.

My little screen comes in handy during the short walk to the train. I can listen to a podcast or tap out a text message. I can check the weather. It’s important to remember to look up while crossing the street.

The train is a great place to spend some time with a screen. In such close quarters, silence is the respect one commuter pays another. Conversation may have been the thing in days past. But now everybody just stares at their screens.

My train disembarks in Grand Central Terminal. Everywhere you turn in that place there’s a screen looking at you. I have the kind of job that requires me to use a screen. You could say that staring at screens is my business.

When I’m done with the work screen, it’s back on the train for another round of small screen time in silence. After dinner is done and the dishes are seen to, we sit in front of the big screen and watch an educational program. When all the kids are in bed, it’s back to the computer screen for a late check of the day’s emails, news, Facebook posts, and tweets.

Weekends are no better. We recently bought a device that lets me play music through loudspeakers directly from my phone screen. This thing is straight out of Star Trek. I spent a lot of time last weekend playing with the screen, searching for radio stations in Honolulu.

All these screens wouldn’t concern me if they weren’t such terrible time-wasters. If turning on a screen meant getting something productive done, well, that would be one thing. But behind every screen is the ever-present, always-changing, constant temptation known as the Internet. I’m not even thinking about the lurid stuff—I just mean Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Gosh, it’s exhausting. And the clock is ticking. Every day spent staring at a screen is a day that could have been spent outside. Every evening spent staring at the TV is a book not read. Every weekend spent tuning in “Hawaii’s Best Oldies” is a weekend I could have spent throwing a ball with my son.

I know the kids are watching. They see me with my screens. They can tell when I’m distracted because I’m reading something on the computer, or on the phone, or on the iPad. I don’t want to be the guy who spends all his time responding to emails but tells his kids to go out and play in the sun.

Will no one rid me of these meddlesome screens?

It’s not all bad. I’ve connected with lots of people over the Internet that I could never have dreamed of meeting in an earlier time. There’s a lot of spiritual stuff out there, too. This year’s free daily Lent reflections from Father Robert Barron have been particularly welcome.

But it’s too much. The screens are taking over. Something has to be done.

Living in this modern world often feels like a battle. Temptation is present every time we turn on the computer. Which is to say: all day, every day. Things are changing so quickly, and so completely, we risk being caught in these electronic snares and being ruined by the evil spirits wandering the World Wide Web.

It’s the kind of fight where you could really use a tough customer on your side. St. Michael, pray for us.                                

Matthew Hennessey and his family are parishioners of St. Aloysius in New Canaan.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna

North by Northwest
| April 15, 2014


Last Saturday afternoon, as I was approaching the front doors of St. Patrick Church in Redding, a woman in a blue minivan started blowing her horn and waving frantically at me. She was traveling past the church and needed to hit the brakes hard to turn into the driveway and roll up beside me. At that moment, I was expecting her to tell me that I had just won the Publisher’s Clearing-House Sweepstakes, or that the British were coming. Instead, she leaned toward her open passenger-side window and said, “Which way is South?!”

She had been travelling North, so I pointed in a southerly direction. “Oh, good,” she said. ”I want to go North, to Brookfield.”

“Well,” I said (probably not masking my confusion), “then you were heading in the right direction.”

“Thanks!” she said. “You know what it’s like not having your GPS!”

With that, she was gone. As I watched her speed up Route 58, I concluded that she would likely need to ask a few more people for directions along the way. Route 58 does not run neatly into Brookfield. Before it merges with the main thoroughfares near I-84, it takes a circuitous route that includes a detour around a closed bridge.

I am a member of that small minority of people who have never owned a GPS.  Every three years or so, I lease a new-model car, and auto dealers offer the navigation system to me, but I have always declined a built-in GPS because God has blessed me with a wonderful sense of direction. My ability to get from point A to point B without a map or GPS is almost spooky at times. Like most men, I am averse to asking for directions, but then again, I rarely get lost. Even when I am unsure of my location, I usually just keep driving until I reach a recognizable landmark.

Most smartphones have a compass app already installed, so if the woman in the blue minivan above really needed to know which way was South, she could have looked at her smartphone (if she had one). When I am travelling somewhere unfamiliar, I usually Google-map the location first so that I have an idea of the vicinity before I set out.

My sense of direction is certainly a gift, but I still have not found a way to monetize it. So many gifts are “bankable;” I suppose I need to be content that this one is at least convenient. On the other end of the spectrum, I do know that some people can hardly leave their driveway without a professional, human navigator seated beside them. Even a GPS is not good enough for them. We have all heard the stories of people driving off piers, etc. into lakes because their GPS told them to do so. Apparently, some people cannot fathom that their GPS can ever give them wrong directions!

As I reflected on my encounter with the frantic woman in the blue minivan, it struck me that she had been travelling at high speed when she spotted me, even though she did not know what direction she was driving. It also occurred to me that she seemed relatively content with her situation. Perhaps she was travelling from one child’s sporting event to another, and this was the way that she spent most Saturday afternoons: supermom in the blue minivan heading toward unknown destinations at blazing speeds!

It is easy for me, an unmarried male with no children, to sit in judgment about a seemingly harried mother who lacks a sense of direction. Then again, there may be a few lessons in this experience for us all.

First, before we set out on a journey, we should have an idea of where we are going. We cannot farm this sense of direction out to others or to technological gadgets. We need to have our own sense of direction. Internally, we need to map out our route and destination and be able to identify some landmarks along the way.

Secondly, we need to slow down. If we are driving fast but do not know if we are going in the right direction, we are distracted, and distracted driving is dangerous. We should not simply accept the idea that our lives consist of speeding from one place to another. Are we spread too thin? Do we need to pare down some of our activities or the activities of our families?

Finally, where is God in all of this? As a priest, I was about to enter Church to prepare for a Palm Sunday liturgy, and this woman was speeding by, happy to find someone who could point her in the right direction. Ultimately, we all need God in our lives to direct us. She will likely never know it, but I am praying that this super-mom in the blue minivan will find the direction that God alone can provide.

Renovated organ set for Holy Week liturgies
| April 15, 2014 • by By Pat Hennessy


Making a magnificent blend, the new pipes in St. Augustine’s organ round out the instrument’s tone. Enthusiastic about the enriched sound, Father Peter Lenox, rector of St. Augustine Cathedral, inspects the organ with Nicholas Thompson-Allen, co-director and tonal director of the A. Thompson-Allen Co., which took change of the organ’s restoration. (Photos by Amy Mortensen)   

BRIDGEPORT—When Bishop Frank J. Caggiano celebrates the liturgies of Holy Week, the newly-restored organ at St. Augustine Cathedral will provide suitable accompaniment to these solemn and joyous occasions.

“The effort is not to make the organ louder; it’s to make a magnificent blend, to make it more expressive, highly versatile, artistic, and make the cathedral organ all that it can be,” says Father Peter Lenox, rector of St. Augustine Cathedral and administrator of the Cathedral Parish.

When St. Augustine Cathedral was renovated under Bishop William E. Lori in 2003, Richard Hiendlmayr funded an upgrade of the organ in honor of his deceased wife. The Alma Schenk Hiendlmayr Memorial Organ, with new pipe work, windchests and console, contributed greatly to liturgies in the renovated cathedral.

But a trained ear could recognize areas that needed attention.

“When I first arrived at the cathedral in May 2012, I heard notes that were dead—not ‘speaking,’—and I encountered sluggish action on some of the stops,” says Father Lenox, who is himself a talented organist and a member of the American Guild of Organists.

With the encouragement and financial support of Hiendlmayr, Father Lenox began to investigate renovation possibilities. “I want to express my tremendous thanks to Mr. Hiendlmayr for his support. We couldn’t have done this without his help,” he says.

Father Lenox found the perfect contact in the A. Thompson-Allen Company in New Haven. In addition to maintaining and restoring Yale University’s 16 pipe organs, the company provides regular service to over one hundred instruments in the tri-state area. Their restoration work has taken them to locations as far-flung as Hope, Michigan, Portland, Maine—and Paris, France.

“Their reputation precedes them,” says Father Lenox. “They’ve gained world renown for the quality of their craftsmanship.”

To deal with the multiple issues they encountered, the company suggested a three-phase restoration process.

Organs produce sound by driving wind through pipes. In most immediate need of attention at the cathedral was the wind pressure system, called the leathering, which controls the delivery of that air pressure to the appropriate notes.

Leathering gets its name from the earliest church organs, which used hand-operated leather bellows to provide wind to the keys. Until recently, the tanned leather in organs typically needed to be replaced every 35 years. The leathering in the cathedral organ was last replaced in 1979 and had grown stiff with age.

Phase I, completed last year, saw the old leathering replaced with leathering treated with newly-developed, chrome-based tanning agents. “It will hold for another hundred years,” says Father Lenox. With the wind system restored, the cathedral’s organ can now speak with valid, stable notes.

Each organ pipe produces a single pitch. Phase II, nearing completion this spring as Easter approaches, involved the replacement of certain ranks of pipes. The addition of a 32-foot pipe called a Bombarde, a powerful reed-stop pipe with cutting brassy timbre, anchors the organ’s lower tones. “It’s rather substantial, and it will certainly undergird the full organ,” Father Lenox observes with justifiable pride.

The final phase of reconstruction will see additional pipes to round out the organ’s tones and make it more expressive.

The purpose of the extended tonal scope is to make the organ all it can be, Father Lenox explains. “The cathedral organ is a highly versatile, artistic instrument appropriate to produce music for all occasions. It can be a solo instrument or it can accompany a symphony orchestra or the full diocesan choir. It’s an instrument that all the people of the diocese can appreciate and enjoy.”

With Phase II completed, St. Augustine Cathedral is planning a special recital on Pentecost Sunday. A dedicatory recital with Jeremy Filsell, professor of organ at the Catholic University of America and artist in residence at Washington National Cathedral, will be held June 13, at 8 pm.

Father Lenox anticipates that these will be merely the first of many recitals, special liturgies, and ordinary Sunday Masses in the coming years. “This organ will remain a top-rated instrument for generations to come,” 
he says.                              

View the slideshow here

Bishop Caggiano leads the Stations of the Cross on Palm Sunday
| April 14, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano led the Stations of the Cross, followed by Benediction at the statue of the Pieta, at St. Margaret's Shrine on Palm Sunday, April 13.

Hundreds turned out for the Holy Week observance sponsored by the CT State Council of the Knights of Columbus.

St. Margaret Shrine was created by Msgr. Emilio Iasiello, then pastor of St. Raphael Parish in Bridgeport, in December of 1941, just after America's entry into World War II. He determined that the new church to be built on a rough, rocky parcel called Columbus Park would be hallowed ground, dedicated to peace in the world, the protection of parishioners serving in the war and the memory of locals who gave their lives.

The 1940s parishioners and family members who were craftsmen‹many of whom were Italian-American fashioned and carved many parts of the shrine, including the altar. The chapel was dedicated by Bishop Maurice F. McAuliffe, Bishop of Hartford (the Diocese of Bridgeport had not yet been formed), on September 20, 1942.

Before the end of World War II, the beautiful new church was drawing thousands of visitors, many of whom would have their wedding photos taken in this naturally rocky setting, where a brook cascades down the steep sides of a ledge.

"People still come here for their wedding photos," says Deacon Don Foust, Administrator of the Shrine.

Among the outstanding features of the Srhine, which houses a series of religious edifices and works on the grounds, is the Temple of Peace, dedicated to the men and woman who served in the U.S. armed forces during World War II. Atop the marble altar is a replica of Michelangelo¹s "Pieta."

While technically not a parish, the Shrine has become the spiritual home of many old as well as new families. Mass is celebrated in the 265-seat chapel weekdays at 8:15 am, there is a Saturday Vigil at 4 pm and five Masses each Sunday: 8 am, 9:30 am (the latter in Italian), 11am

View the slideshow here

Pope Francis ignores prepared Homily in Palm Sunday speech
| April 13, 2014 • by by FRANCES D'EMILIO (AP) from The Huffington Post


VATICAN CITY (AP)—Pope Francis, marking Palm Sunday in a packed St. Peter's Square, ignored his prepared homily and spoke entirely off-the-cuff in a remarkable departure from practice.

Later, he continued to stray from the script by hopping off his popemobile to pose for "selfies" with young people and also sipping tea passed to him from the crowd.

In his homily, Francis called on people, himself included, to look into their own hearts to see how they are living their lives.

"Has my life fallen asleep?" Francis asked after listening to a Gospel account of how Jesus' disciples fell asleep shortly before he was betrayed by Judas before his crucifixion.

"Am I like Pontius Pilate, who, when he sees the situation is difficult, washes my hands?"

He sounded tired, frequently pausing to catch his breath, as he spoke for about 15 minutes in his homily during Palm Sunday Mass, which solemnly opens Holy Week for the Roman Catholic Church.

"Where is my heart?" the pope asked, pinpointing that as the "question which accompanies us" throughout Holy Week.

Francis seemed to regain his wind after the 2 ½ hour ceremony. He shed his red vestments atop his plain white cassock, chatted amiably with cardinals dressed more formally than he at that point. Then he posed for "selfies" with young people from Rio de Janeiro who had carried a large cross in the square.

He had barely climbed aboard his open-topped popemobile when he spotted Polish youths. They, too, were clamoring for a "selfie" with a pope, and he hopped off, not even waiting for the vehicle to fully stop, to oblige them. In another moment in the pope's long tour of the square, the Vatican's security chief poured herbal mate tea from a thermos, thrust toward the pontiff by someone in the crowd, into a mate cup, also held out by an admirer, and passed the cup to Francis for a sip.

In a crowd of around 100,000 Romans, tourists and pilgrims, people clutched olive tree branches, tall palm fronds or tiny braided palm leaves shaped like crosses that were blessed by Francis at the start of the ceremony.

Francis used a wooden pastoral staff carved by Italian prison inmates, who donated it to him. The pope wants to put people on the margins of life at the center of the church's attention.

Francis wore red vestments, symbolizing blood shed by the crucified Jesus.

Holy Week culminates next Sunday with Easter Mass, also in St. Peter's Square. Many faithful will remain in Rome, while others will pour into the city for the April 27 canonization of two popes, John Paul II and John XXIII. Francis noted that John Paul's long-time aide, now Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, Poland, had come to Rome.

Francis noted he'll be making a pilgrimage to South Korea this summer, with the key event being an Asian youth gathering on August 15 in Daejeon.

Pope praises police-church network to stop trafficking, meets victims
| April 10, 2014 • by By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY (CNS)—Meeting four victims of human trafficking, dozens of religious sisters and senior police chiefs from 20 countries, Pope Francis praised their coordinated efforts to fight against a "crime against humanity."

"Human trafficking is an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ," he said.

The pope spoke at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences April 10 to participants in an international conference on combating human trafficking, which was organized by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster.

Human trafficking "is a crime against humanity" that requires continued global and local cooperation between the Catholic Church and law enforcement, Pope Francis said.

The twin strategies of police cracking down on the criminals behind trafficking and church and social workers aiding victims "are quite important," he said, and "can and must go together."

Pope Francis called the Vatican meeting "a gesture of the church and of people of good will who want to scream, 'Enough!'"

The April 9-10 gathering of 120 people representing national and international police agencies, women and men religious and humanitarian workers aiding victims was the second international conference on trafficking hosted by the U.K. bishops at the Vatican.

Three of the four victims attending the conference also spoke to the assembly about how they fell into in the snares of criminal gangs and escaped from their ruthless traffickers.

A woman from Hungary told attendees how her own sister had sold her into slavery. She was separated from her 2-year-old daughter and was even "traded for a car" by her traffickers.

She was abused, beaten and bullied by the family housing her, including the family's 3-year-old boy, she said. She was forced to prostitute herself "24 hours a day," seven days a week for three years.

The conference focused on showcasing a joint initiative between police and the church that began in London three years ago; it's a model the British bishops hope will be copied and adopted around the world.

Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland of Scotland Yard's trafficking and organized crime unit explained in his talk April 9 how, when the police conduct raids on suspected brothels and potential crime scenes, they have group of nuns speak with the women found inside because the women often don't want to talk to the police, but they do open up to the sisters.

The sisters pass on to police additional testimony they receive from the women while they are living under the sisters' care.

Disclosures of rape and other crimes "led to immediate arrests" and the identification of perpetrators as well as brought down a major trafficking ring, he said.

Sacred Heart Sister Florence Nwaonuma of Nigeria told the conference April 10 that because the world's religious sisters are on the ground with the people, "We know exactly what is happening" when it comes to victims, clients and traffickers.

"But we need the empowerment to challenge these unjust structures that are pushing our women out of Nigeria," and they need more vocations to religious life "so we can continue our work."

Another Sacred Heart sister from Nigeria, identified as Sister Antonia, asked participants to think of ways the church can help the men seeking prostitutes. "Most clients are Catholics and family men, even teenagers," she said. She called for approaches that would help men see "that they are using these girls and that they are not objects."

She and other religious said as long as nothing is done to amend the poverty and injustice that is rendering people more vulnerable to traffickers, the supply of people for sale will never end.

At the end of the meeting, "The Santa Marta Group," an international group of senior law enforcement chiefs, was formally established.

The group -- named after the Domus Sanctae Marthae residence where the conference participants stayed and where the pope lives -- will be led by Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police Service.

More than 20 police chiefs signed the new group's declaration of commitment April 10 and pledged to meet again in London in November to share expertise, training and "practical things we can do" to fight human trafficking.

Hogan-Howe challenged the police chiefs, saying "the test" of the new initiative's success will be seeing if "we all (will) be there in London if the Holy Father is not there," a comment met with laughter from the people in the conference hall.

Ronald Noble, secretary-general of Interpol, said modern-day slavery is a huge business. The United Nations estimates 2.4 million people are trafficked at any given time and generate $32 billion in annual profits for criminals.

But he said, it's the real human being, "a name, a face, a voice crying for help," that should move people into action, not the statistics.

"Police and spiritual leaders have different roles, but walk the same streets" and need to work together, he said.

Cardinal Nichols said, "Only 1 percent of people in slavery are identified and rescued." Even while one life is saved, there are still millions of women, men and children in the grips of traffickers, he said.

"We need legislation, concrete action and robust funding" to do more, he added. Hogan-Howe said more also needs to be done to encourage victims to not be afraid or embarrassed to come forward and denounce their oppressors to the police.

Auxiliary Bishop Patrick Lynch of Southwark, England, urged the world's bishops "to have the confidence to approach the local chief of police" and urged local police chiefs "to have the confidence to contact the bishop" and find ways to work together.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna

Sometimes, it’s not easy being Catholic
| April 09, 2014


On Fridays during Lent I try to avoid eating meat, but I like to remember the story that a priest once told me in seminary.

In the 1970s, he and another priest were invited to the home of parishioners for dinner. It was a Friday evening during Lent. The hostess proudly emerged from the kitchen with a beautifully baked chicken and set it on the dining room table. At the sight of the main course, the other priest said aloud, “It’s Friday! I can’t eat meat today!”

The lesson of the story is that given the situation, it would have been much more charitable for the priest to have remained quiet about Lenten regulations. The woman was horrified that she had prepared a meat dish on a Friday during Lent (she had simply forgotten). Sadly, the evening was ruined for everyone.

For me, abstaining from meat on Friday’s during Lent is a goal, but I remain mindful of the story of the ungracious dinner guest mentioned above whenever I am tempted to scrupulosity.

Last Friday, I was travelling home from a mid-afternoon appointment and I was hungry. If I drove straight home, it would take me about thirty-minutes to get there, and that seemed too long.  Because it was a Friday during Lent, I had consciously eaten very little for breakfast and now it was about 2:30 p.m. and I had not yet eaten lunch. The problem with fasting is that sometimes you can find yourself ravenously hungry. This was one of those times.

As I was driving along, I remembered that there was a pretty good restaurant nearby. It would still be serving lunch and because it was an Italian place, I thought that I could get something filling but meatless. It is part of a well-know chain of Italian restaurants, and although I had not eaten there for some time, I thought that they would have eggplant parmesan or pasta with marinara sauce on the menu.

When I arrived and sat down at the counter, I discovered to my chagrin that the menu included neither  eggplant parmesan nor a simple pasta dish with marinara sauce (all the pastas included meat or shell-fish). Ordering fish or shellfish would have made lunch a bit too pricey. To make matters more complicated, I have tried to give up pizza during Lent. I could probably eat pizza every day and not grow tired of it, so it does qualify as a sacrifice for me to abstain from it.

One of the items on the menu looked like it might work. Technically, it was a “flatbread,” not a pizza. It was topped with eggplant, tomato sauce and cheese. It sounded like pizza, and when it arrived, it looked and tasted like pizza too, but technically I had an opt-out clause – it is called a “Menucci.” In addition, I ordered a Caesar Salad (without croutons). The waitress even asked me if I wanted chicken or shrimp on my Caesar. I distinctly said no.

When the waitress brought my menucci, she said with surprise, “Nobody brought your salad?” It was a rhetorical question. She put the menucci down and then returned a few minutes later with my Caesar Salad, topped with a freshly grilled chicken-breast, sliced and steaming!

When I saw the grilled-chicken breast on the salad, I told her that I had not ordered a Caesar-Chicken Salad. She immediately acknowledged her mistake and told me that I would not be charged for the chicken.

Although I am a Catholic Priest, I am not a very “clerical” sort. Whenever I can, I like to wear “civilian” clothes rather than clerics, or at least I remove my tab-collar and put it in my pocket (I don’t like things around my neck!). Last Friday, I was dressed casually, so the waitresses would not have known that I was a priest or even Catholic for that matter.

Mindful of the story of the ungracious dinner guest mentioned above, I thanked the waitress for not charging me for the chicken. It was delicious!

St. Mary’s athletes break records
| April 09, 2014


St. Mary Track team members (l-r) Kate Banks,
Ashley Nicoletti and Angela Saidman

DANBURY—Five League records were broken at the April 6 Danbury Parochial League track meet, held at Immaculate High School, and four of them were from St. Mary School!

In track, seventh grader Angela Saidman broke records in both the 1600m and 800m races: 1600m 7-8 /Old record 6:05.28, New record 5:21.09; 800m 7-8 /Old record 2:44.28, New record 2:30.77.

Fourth-grader Ashley Nicoletti broke the  200m race record for grades 3-4: Old record 32.88, New record 32.10; and sixth-grader Kate Banks set a new distance for the 5-6 softball throw: Old record 116'6", New record 132"4'.

St. Mary School also had 18 first place finishes, the most of the eight schools at the meet. The gold medals included individual track and relay , softball throw, broad jump, long jump, and shot put. Congratulations to the entire St. Mary Track team who came out and competed on such a beautiful day!
Students who received gold were:

Joseph Iazzetta - K-2nd Grade 400m - 1:30.59
 - K-2nd Grade 50m - 8.81 seconds

Jenna Saidman - K-2nd Grade 400m - 1:35.26
 - K-2nd Grade Softball Throw - 42’

Owen Ryan - K-2nd Grade Broad Jump - 5’ 4”

Owen Ryan, Joseph Nicholas Paris, Caden Fitzgerald, Joseph Iazzetta - K-2nd 4x50m Relay - 37.95

Ashley Nicoletti - 3-4th Grade 50m - 8.14 seconds
 - 3-4th Grade 50m - 32.10 seconds

Audrey Quish - 3-4th Grade Softball Throw - 77’ 4”

Max Foster - 3-4th Grade Softball Throw - 115’ 3”

Kylie Ryan, Oona Tuccinardi, Audrey Quish, Ashley Nicoletti - 3-4th Grade 4x100m Relay - 1:09.91

Kate Banks - 5-6th Grade Softball Throw - 132’ 4”

Angela Saidman - 7-8th Grade 1600m - 5:21.09
 - 7-8th Grade 800m - 2:30.77

Hannah Folan - 7-8th Grade Long Jump - 12’ 4”

Bella Iazzetta - 7-8th Grade Shot Put - 25’

Ailis Tyra - 7-8th Grade Softball Throw - 87’ 6”

Hannah Folan, Emily Marcone, Hanna Manca, Angela Saidman - 7-8th Grade 4x200m Relay - 2.14.35

Stations of the Cross and Benediction
| April 07, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—On Palm Sunday, April 13, the Stations of the Cross, followed by Benediction at the statue of the Pieta, will be at St. Margaret’s Shrine.

The Holy Week event is sponsored by the CT State Council of the Knights of Columbus. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, assisted by the clergy of the Shrine, will be the principal celebrant for this inaugural Knights’ event.

Mass is celebrated at the Shrine at 11 am. The program of Stations and Benediction with Bishop Caggiano will begin at 1 pm. For more information, call the Shrine: 203.333.9627.

Danbury, Newtown Catholic school leaders promoted
| April 05, 2014 • by Eileen FitzGerald, NewsTimes


President of the school Kathleen Casey speaks during the
Immaculate High School graduation ceremony at Church
of St. Mary in Bethel, Conn., on Wednesday, June 6, 2012.
Photo by Jason Rearickkathleen

DANBURY—Kathleen Casey, president of Immaculate High School, has been named assistant superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Mary Maloney, principal of St. Rose of Lima Elementary School in Newtown, will assume Casey's post July 1 as the non-academic leader at the 400-student regional parochial high school alongside Principal Joe Carmen.

"I'm very excited. It's an honor to be part of that community and I'm glad to be at the helm," said Maloney, who is 58. "Kathleen has certainly started a vision and I look forward to continuing it."

Casey joins the team of diocesan Schools Superintendent Sister Mary Grace Walsh, who leads 23 elementary and five high schools that serve 12,000 students.

"It's very exciting. I still will be connected to Immaculate, because it is hard to leave a school I have grown to love, but now I will serve all the schools in the diocese," the 51-year-old Casey said. "Throughout my career I have been involved in planning. I like to have a vision and set measurable goals and work with the team to accomplish them."

Part of her new job will be formulating a strategy for the diocese based on her discussions with the school leaders.

"It's all about the students, about how we can best educate them in the catholic tradition," Casey said, while also having a healthy business model.

Four years ago Casey recruited Maloney to join the Immaculate advisory board.

"I think so highly of her," Casey said, "and I know she'll be a great fit."

Walsh sent letters Wednesday to the parents of St. Rose and Immaculate students announcing the appointments and explaining how she will conduct a search for a new principal at St. Rose.

Walsh was confident of Maloney, who's been principal of St. Rose of Lima School since 2003, and has been a frequent presenter and committee member in the diocese. Prior to serving as a principal, she taught at St. Rose as well as in Tokyo and Paris.

Walsh said Maloney's educational expertise, combined with her marketing and global background, will be a perfect fit for Immaculate.

"Mary Maloney is excellent," Walsh said. "Kathleen and I agreed."

The process of selecting the new principal for St. Rose will begin immediately, Walsh said. The opening was posted internally and she will post it publicly next week.

But she plans at the beginning of May to gather input from the pastor, parents, teachers, staff and students, about their expectations for the next leader.

"I have no one in mind," she said, "but I always want to conduct a broad-based consultation before making an appointment."

A current diocesan principal might be transferred if it's the right fit or there will be a formal search.

"These are two excellent schools," Walsh said about St. Rose and Immaculate. "They both are on an upward trajectory."

Casey was appointed by Immaculate in October, 2008, to fill the position created in 2004 to have a non-academic leader of the regional high school.

She has a master's degree in business administration in marketing and planning and her past experiences include serving as the senior strategic planner for General Motors from 1988 to 1996, as director for planning and special projects at St. Thomas Aquinas School in Fairfield, and as adjunct professor at the University of Indiana.

"She's very good at strategic planning and marketing. She's a strategic thinker. She's done excellent work at Immaculate," Walsh said. "She'll bring new energy to this office."

Article and photo (Kathleen Casey) published in

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Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna

Vocation Director Father Kachuba enlists the help of every priest
| April 04, 2014


Father Sam Kachuba, one of the younger priests in the diocese and a graduate of St. Joseph’s High School in Trumbull, has a difficult assignment: recruit, train and form men to be priests for the Diocese of Bridgeport. Although Bridgeport still boasts a good priest–to-parishioner ratio compared to other dioceses, the future of vocations to the priesthood in our diocese and throughout the nation remains unclear.

At a meeting of all priests with Bishop Frank J. Caggiano held at St. Matthew’s Parish in Norwalk on March 28, 2014, Father Kachuba eloquently illustrated how individual priests meant very much to him as he grew up at St. Mark Parish in Stratford. He encouraged all of the priests gathered at the meeting to be good role models for youth and also to encourage boys, young men and older men as well to consider a priestly vocation. A priest once summed up the priesthood for Father Kachuba by saying, “It’s a great life!”

While many of the priests in attendance nodded in agreement that priesthood is a great life, no one, including Father Kachuba, would ever argue that it is an easy life. The Catholic priesthood is filled with daily challenges. Priests, like all of the baptized, are called to grow in holiness, and everyone who strives to be an authentic follower of Jesus Christ knows how difficult that can be. In fact, sometimes, the closer that a person grows to God, the more that person may recognize his or her own shortcomings and sinfulness.

Father Kachuba’s words were well-received, and many priests acknowledged the need to invite others to consider the priesthood. When the baptized are encouraged to grow in personal holiness, they may more easily hear the voice of Jesus calling them to a religious vocation.

Sacred Heart Senior Published in New Haven Magazine
| April 03, 2014


MONROE—Senior Jessica Venable's essay "Manual Labor" is published in this month's New Haven Magazine in their "High School Confidential" issue.

According to an assistant editor at New HavenMagazine, "Our editors select only the most compelling essays for publication."

Offers Jess, "I am very proud of every handpicked word and edited sentence. My essay is the first piece I have ever written that I was excited to share with my parents and peers; I knew it reflected my personality as well as my ability as a writer."

The daughter of John and Susan Venables of Monroe, Jess will attend the University of Richmond in the fall where she was accepted early decision. She and her family are members of St. Jude Parish in Monroe.

Sacred Heart Academy, a Catholic college preparatory school founded in l946 by the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, successfully prepares young women, grades 9 –12 for learning, service and achievement in a global society.  The Academy currently has an enrollment of 500 students who hail from New Haven, Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex and New London counties.

Pope says married couples called to be icons of God's love
| April 03, 2014 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Through the sacrament of matrimony, married couples are called to be living icons of God's love in the world, Pope Francis said; and when they fight—and all couples do—they don't have "to call the United Nations," but find simple words and gestures to say they are sorry.

Concluding a series of talks about the sacraments, Pope Francis used his general audience April 2 to focus on marriage, and he asked the estimated 45,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray for the world's families, especially for couples experiencing difficulty.

The sacrament of marriage, he said, "leads us to the heart of God's plan, which is a plan of covenant with his people and with all of us."

"We were created for love as a reflection of God and his love," the pope said. "In the conjugal union, a man and a woman fulfill this vocation under the sign of reciprocity and a full and definitive communion of life."

Marriage is a response to a specific vocation and "must be considered a consecration," he said. "The man and woman are consecrated for love. Through the sacrament, the spouses are given a real mission to make visible—even through simple and ordinary gestures—the love with which Christ loves his church."

"The plan that God has for marriage is really something stupendous," he said.

Calling married couples "an icon of God's love for us," Pope Francis also said the fact that husbands and wives are human means that sometimes the image can appear slightly tarnished.

"We all know how many difficulties and trials spouses face. What is important is to keep alive a bond with God, who is the foundation of the matrimonial bond," he said. Marriages are stronger when husbands and wives pray for each other and with each other.

But prayer doesn't mean there always will be peace and harmony, he said. The demands of work, finances and raising children can frustrate couples and lead to arguments.

"There are always fights in a marriage, aren't there?" he asked the crowd. "Sometimes plates fly. You're laughing, but it's the truth.

"The secret, though, is that love is stronger than an argument," the pope said. "Don't end your day without making peace. It's not necessary to call the United Nations and have them come to your house to broker the peace. A little gesture, a caress, can suffice."

"Marriage is beautiful and we must always safeguard it," he said.

Pope Francis repeated his recommendation that couples make frequent use of three "magic words": "May I?" "Thank you" and "Sorry." With the three phrases, with prayer and by making up before going to bed, "your marriage will continue," he said.

At the end of the audience, which took place on the ninth anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis asked people to prepare for the late pope's canonization April 27 with prayers and by "reviving the patrimony of faith he left."

"Imitating Christ, he was an untiring preacher of the word of God, of truth and of goodness," the pope said. "He turned even his suffering into something good."

"May his intercession reinforce our faith, hope and love," Pope Francis prayed.

You’ve been ‘flocked!’
| April 02, 2014


Pictured in no particular order, Leslie Amoroso, Rita Crispino,
Tanya Bombero, Amanda Morrison, Danielle LaRiviere, Faith Tristine,
Susanna Canavan, Melaine Relsan, Julie Blakeman, GinaRae Cafaro,
Celine Gazo, Monroe Town First Selectman Steve Vavrek,
Sabrina Colville, Briget Stronge, Jennifer Wrenn, Carolyn Scali,
Chrissie Greenlaw, Christina Canavan, Abigail Wrenn, Julie Tristine,
Isabella Gazo, Emma Stronge, Ally Wrenn, Jeanine Wrenn,
Adrienne LaRiviere, Corey Blakeman, Mikayla Gazo, Samantha Tristine,
Alyssa Greenlaw, Jackie Amoroso

MONROE—The St. Jude flamingo FUNraiser kick off is officially underway!

All through the month of April, for the donation of $25, residents can send a flock of ten flamingos to an unsuspecting friend or family member. For $100 you can send five flocks to five different addresses. (Flocks can be sent to both Monroe and Shelton.) For $40 you can purchase insurance so that your house cannot be flocked.

The flamingos are proudly wearing blue ribbons as a nod to St. Jude School being nominated and awarded the National Blue Ribbon Award this year. Monies raised from this fundraiser will be used to enhance curriculum and programming for St Jude students. St. Jude mom's are involved with moving the birds about town, and the whole community is welcome and encouraged to join in the fundraiser. Requests for “flocking” forms can be obtained by emailing .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

A hundred of their beloved pink plastic friends joined St. Jude students, moms and co-chairs Julie Blakeman and Sabrina Colville in a recent photo. A special guest, Monroe First Selectman Steve Vavrek, proudly clutches his own flamingo in the group’s center.

St Mark's JV team captures New England title
| April 02, 2014


STRATFORD—The Junior Varsity Boys Basketball Team from St. Mark Parish, representing the Diocese of Bridgeport, recently took first place in the New England CYO Basketball Tournament in Providence, Rhode Island.

In preliminary rounds, the team defeated the Diocese of Boston and the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire.

The team then faced Our Lady of Mercy from the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, in the final round and defeated them 38-20 to win the championship.

Team members include (bottom row) Charlie Goodrich, Cape Holden, Jonathan Bushka, Michael Daloia,(top row) coach Alan Grindrod, Donato Quattrucci,
Sebastian Holt, Jared Grindrod, Mike Morrissey, coach Pat Morrissey. Missing from photo: player J.T. Baroni and coach John Baroni.

Trinity junior selected as Governor’s Scholar
| March 31, 2014


STAMFORD—Trinity Catholic's Shannon Rubin was selected as one of thirty of Connecticut's top juniors designated as a Governor's Scholar.

Sponsored by the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS), the purpose of the program is to recognize academically talented high school students in schools throughout the state, and present thirty students for special recognition to the Governor of Connecticut.

Every high school principal in the state was given the opportunity to nominate one junior ranked in the top five percent of his/her class. The Governor's Scholars Committee, professional educators from throughout Connecticut, judged the applications and students were selected based on rank in class, PSAT scores, and a student essay.

All students recognized for this prestigious award will be honored at the Eighteenth Annual Governor's Scholars Luncheon on May 22.

Bishop says love is strongest medicine at White Mass
| March 30, 2014


DANBURY—We have come a long way from biblical times in our understanding of illness and our ability to treat it, but the spiritual consequence remain the same, said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at the White Mass for healthcare professionals.

In his homily at the 9 am Mass at St. Peter Church, the Bishop praised healthcare workers for providing “healing, consolation, and strength” and asked for prayers for all those who work with the sick.

“The Lord has given the key to you to face the challenges,” he said to the doctors, nurses, and other providers present, reminding them that the “great medication through the ages and in all lives is the remedy of love.”

The bishop said that regardless of advances in medicine, we all experience human frailty and ask the same question: “Why must people suffer?”

“Serious illness creates a spiritual earthquake in the lives of those who suffer and those who care for them. Illness can send our lives out of control in a way that leaves us isolated and fearful,” he said.

“The Lord is closest to us in the moments of our greatest suffering. That is the meaning of Good Friday. That is why we are here in this sacred space today,” he said.

Those who minister to the sick and dying bring the antidote to fear and suffering by being present when they are most alone and vulnerable, he said.

Noting that the sick “surrender themselves to healthcare workers,” the bishop prayed, “In an age when life is cheap and not respected, may you always be a reflection of healing light in the darkness.”

At the breakfast following the Mass, the bishop presented the 2014 Father Rufin Compassionate Care Award to Greenwich Hospital physical Donna E. Coletti, MD, and to Danbury healthcare volunteers Hubert and Regina Morgan, a husband and wife team who have served as volunteers at Pope John Paul II Center for Healthcare for over 30 years.

John M. Murphy, MD, President/CEO of Danbury Hospital, who served as master of ceremonies, praised Dr. Coletti for her work in palliative care after a distinguished career in Obstetrics and Gynecology. He said that Dr. Coletti, a Eucharistic Minister at St. Roch Parish in Greenwich, developed an interest in palliative care after her late father’s illness, and that her practice has brought comfort, dignity and compassion to the dying.

Mr. and Mrs. Morgan were recognized for their wide range of good work at the Pope John Center, where they have worked in inventory, the gift shop and many other assignments including service as Eucharistic Ministers. They are the parents of four daughters, eight grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

In the keynote address at the White Mass Breakfast, Sigurd H. Ackerman, M.D., President and CEO of Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, described advances in the treatment of mental illness over the last two decades.

A noted psychiatrist and psychopharmacologist, Dr. Ackerman that “twenty years ago it was difficult to treat recurrent, disabling mental illness that wreaks havoc in people’s lives,” but that today there are advances in medications and therapies that help people to live normal lives.

He said one of the great challenges continues to be getting patients to remain on their medications and to improve the quality of “social supports which are hugely important in long-term management” of mental illness.

Dr. Ackerman said that he expects to see significant improvements in diagnosis and more effective early intervention in the coming years.

View the slideshow

Bless me, Father: Pope leads by example, goes to confession
| March 29, 2014 • by By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Leading a penitential liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis surprised his liturgical adviser by going to confession during the service.

After an examination of conscience March 28, the pope and 61 priests moved into confessionals or to chairs set up against the walls to offer the sacrament to individual penitents.

However, as Msgr. Guido Marini, master of papal liturgical ceremonies, was showing which confessional the pope would be using to hear confessions, the pope pointed to another confessional nearby, indicating that he himself was going to first confess.

The pope, dressed in a simple white alb and purple stole, spent about three minutes kneeling before the priest's open confessional and received absolution. The priest also clasped the pope's hands and kissed his simple silver ring.

Pope Francis then went to another confessional and spent about 40 minutes hearing confessions.

In his homily, the pope said following God's call to conversion is not supposed to happen only during Lent, but is a lifetime commitment. He also spoke about two key characteristics of Christian life: putting on a "new self, created in God's way" and living in and sharing God's love.

Renewal in Christ comes with baptism, which frees people from sin and welcomes them as children of God and members of Christ and his church, he said.

"This new life lets us see the world with different eyes without being distracted anymore by the things that don't matter and that can't last for long," he said.

Shedding sinful behaviors and focusing on the essential become a daily commitment so that a life "deformed by sin" can become a life "illuminated by grace" from God.

When hearts are renewed and "created in God's way," good behavior follows, he said, for example: "always speaking the truth and steering clear of all lies; no stealing, but rather, sharing what one has with others, especially with those in need; not giving in to anger, rancor and revenge, but being meek, magnanimous and ready to forgive; not taking part in malicious gossip that ruins the good name of people, but looking mainly for the good side in everyone."

The second aspect of Christian life is living in God's eternal love, the pope said. God never tires of looking out for his children, both those who have lost their way and those who have remained faithful by his side.

Jesus, in fact, calls on everyone to imitate this same merciful love and become "credible disciples of Christ in the world," he said.

God's love cannot be held inside, "it's open by its very nature, it spreads and is fruitful, it always generates new love," he said.

In that missionary spirit, the penitential liturgy opened an initiative called "24 Hours for the Lord," sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization.

The council asked dioceses around the world to have at least one parish open all day and night March 28, so that anyone could go to confession and take part in eucharistic adoration. It's part of the pope's focus on celebrating God's mercy and power of forgiveness.

Young people belonging to different parishes and different movements in Rome were to be out on the streets during the night, inviting their peers to go into the churches to pray, to confess or just to talk to a priest.

In his homily, Pope Francis praised the initiative and those who would be hitting the streets to share the joy of God's mercy and invite others to discover a deeper relationship with Christ.

"Tell them that our father is waiting for us, our father forgives us, and even more, he celebrates," the pope said.

Even with all of one's sins and mistakes, God, "instead of scolding us, he celebrates," the pope said. "And you have to tell this, tell this to lots of people today" so they can experience God's mercy and love.

Irish eyes are smiling
| March 28, 2014
Posted in Annual Bishop's Appeal


FAIRFIELD—“Jump in, kick out, hop 1-2-3-4, jump in, kick out, hop 1-2-3-4…..” If you were walking through the hallways of St. Catherine Academy on a recent day you would have heard the halls filled with the lilt of Irish laughter as the students of St. Catherine were taught the fine art of Irish dance by Erin Pender-LeVine and a few dancers from The Pender-Keady Academy of Irish Dance.

We, along with the students, faculty and board members were treated to a foot-stomping, hand-clapping performance by the brilliant dancers. After the performance Erin worked with the students and staff to teach them a jig step so they will all be ready to celebrate when St. Paddy’s Day arrives.

St. Catherine Academy is certainly a very important ministry in our diocese. It is the only faith-based, state-approved, private special education school in Fairfield County, serving students with autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities. St. Catherine is a caring, nurturing, learning community for students with special needs ages 5 through 21. The facility at St. Catherine is intentionally designed to help students achieve their greatest learning potential academically, socially and personally. Students develop positive self-esteem and self-confidence while acquiring the necessary skills to reach their individual goals.

St. Catherine prides itself on being a school where students with intellectual and developmental disabilities are part of a community that celebrates their abilities and provides a learning experience that develops each student’s independence. The impact on the students’ lives is met or exceeded by the impact that these young people have on the lives that they touch. “We have equated our students’ impact to ripples of water—ever growing and expanding. They have taught us how to love and how to value each experience and person along the way,” says Helen Burland, president of St. Catherine Academy.

The Annual Bishop’s Appeal is a blessing in so many ways to the students of St. Catherine. “When people give to the ABA and designate their gift to St. Catherine Academy, we are able to fill the gap between tuition revenue and actual program costs,” adds Burland. “Donations from the ABA help us to offer a quality program with dedicated and well-trained staff. One example is our commitment to vocational experiences. Those of our students who are in their transition years are exposed to a variety of job sites under the supervision of our vocational coordinator. Donations from the ABA help fund transportation and staff to supervise this very important program.”

St. Catherine Academy is also a place in our diocese where people can choose to serve others. Erin-Pender LeVine, a parishioner at St. Thomas More in Darien, volunteered to share her Irish dancing talents and those of her dancers, who all came from area parishes: Alexa D’Arinzo from Holy Spirit Parish in Stamford, Katie Hackett and Maggie Maeve Donoghue from St. John Parish in Darien and Maeve Sebold from St. Aloysius in New Canaan.

“St. Catherine provides us with a great opportunity to give back to our community,” she says. “I can’t think of a better way to build a bridge of fellowship, faith and compassion than spending a morning with our friends at St. Catherine and sharing our love of Irish dance with the amazing, hard-working students here.”

If you happen to find yourself at the Bridgeport St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 17, look for the students of St. Catherine Academy who will be marching. The students will have an extra skip in their step thanks in part to their newly acquired Irish dancing skills, but mostly thanks to the generosity of the people of the Bridgeport Diocese who designate some of their ABA pledge to St. Catherine Academy.

Take extra notice of the St. Catherine students’ smiling Irish eyes. We’re sure they’ll steal your heart away!

(To learn about other volunteer opportunities at St. Catherine Academy, call the school: 203.540.5381, ext. 2010.)

Appeal is opportunity “to plant a garden” of faith
| March 28, 2014
Posted in Annual Bishop's Appeal


FAIRFIELD—Referring to the words of Blessed John XXIII, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano told a gathering of donors to the Annual Bishop’s Appeal that he didn’t come to the diocese to be a “museum curator, but rather a gardener.”

The afternoon meeting with donors was held at St. Thomas Parish as part of his vicariate receptions to launch the 2014 Appeal and listen to people throughout the diocese.

The bishop said that in the five months since arriving in Bridgeport, his vision has been evolving in terms of what needs to be done to move the diocese ahead, but that he is convinced the diocese has entered a special moment in its history. “We are living in a singular moment in the life of the Church, a singular opportunity to come together and define the future of the diocese,” the bishop said, referring to the Fourth Diocesan Synod, which he formally decreed on February 22.

The bishop said he is committed to listening to Catholics throughout Fairfield County through listening sessions in the upcoming Synod and other opportunities to meet with the faithful.

Asking for “prayer and sacrificial giving” to support the mission of the Church, the bishop said the Appeal not only helps to strengthen existing programs and ministries, but also gives him the ability “to plant new things, new ministries and new areas of outreach in the future.”

Referring to a recent study, the bishop said he was distressed that “Catholics are the largest religious group in the U.S. and former Catholics make up the second largest religious group.”

Noting that many Catholics are angry or even indifferent to the Church, the bishop said it was particularly important to find ways to welcome Catholics back and invite them into the full life of the Church.

“The Synod will give us the chance to ask, ‘What do you want the Church to be in five years, and what can we plant so that those who are not at the table with us now will be here in the future?’” he said.

Following the bishop’s remarks, he fielded questions from donors who asked him about the Voice of the Faithful, the future of Catholic schools, and what needs to be done to engage young people in the Church.

He said that he met with VOTF members in Brooklyn on a monthly basis when he was an auxiliary bishop there and he believes that their concerns for the protection of children and the integrity of priests is shared by most Catholics.

With respect to Catholic schools, the bishop said he is committed to the “principle of accessibility,” so that any young person shares access to Catholic schools both geographically and financially.

Mentioning that he has visited 17 schools since his installation, the bishop said, “There is no finer way to form our children than in Catholic schools because they are centered around Christ” and as such they represent “grace building on nature.”

He added that he was surprised to learn how little support the state of Connecticut provides to schools because New York helped with textbooks and other vital services. He would like to see tax credits increased for parents who choose Catholic schools.

When asked how the Church might counter negative images in the media and the promotion of secular values, the bishop said he believes the Church needs to be more active in social media. “We need to jump into the new media and become missionaries in it, but young people will need the resources and training so that they can be effective,” he said.

The bishop also said he would like to see more ongoing formation for priests so that they can continue to grow both personally and in their ministries without getting overwhelmed by administrative duties that might be better performed by others.

The bishop was introduced by Fr. Victor Martin, pastor of St. Thomas Parish, who said that the Annual Bishop’s Appeal was not “simply to reach a goal but more importantly an effort for the good of Holy Mother the Church in Fairfield County. It helps build up the Church.”

Fr. Martin said many people aren’t aware that parishes turn to the diocese for help with many issues on a daily basis. “When I have a problem in the school, I turn to Sr. Mary Grace, our superintendent of schools, and now that we have a seminarian from our parish, I’m on the line to Fr. Robert Kinnally at St. John Fisher Residence. The diocese is always very supportive.”

(“Building Bridges in Faith and Charity” is the theme of this year’s Appeal, which supports a wide range of programs including Catholic Charities, diocesan schools, care of retired priests, religious education, St. John Fisher Seminary and clergy ministries. For more information, phone 203.416.1470. To make a gift online, go to

Kristjan Ndoj remembered as compassionate teen
| March 28, 2014 • by By Michael P. Mayko, CT Post


Followed down the steps by his grandmother, Franga Ndoj,
the casket of 15-year-old Kristjan Njod is carried from his funeral
service at St. Joseph's Church in Shelton, Conn. on Thursday,
March 27, 2014. Photo: Brian A. Pounds

SHELTON—It was advice from a wise, elderly woman that if followed might have saved his life.

On the night Kristjan Ndoj was shot his grandmother suggested he not go out, but stay home.

"I'm sure it was a little more than a suggestion coming from his grandmother," said Monsignor Christopher Walsh, pastor of St. Joseph's Church.

It was that same grandmother, Franga, from whom Kristjan would demand a kiss on his cheek before leaving for school every morning.

But on March 15 Kristjan reminded her the Gjaci family had just arrived from Albania. He told her he had to help them with their English "just like people helped us," the monsignor said.

As the night wore on Kristjan and Antonio Gjaci, a friend from the same area of Albania, rode their bikes down the River Road and up Agawam Trail to meet some other teens. When the clock approached 8:45 p.m. two shots fired from a wooded area struck Kristjan in the head and leg, dropping him onto a driveway at 1 Agawam Trail.

He died five days later.

The 15-year-old Shelton High sophomore was buried Thursday in Derby's Mount St. Peter Cemetery.

Police have not yet made an arrest.

"I think they're close," said Mayor Mark Lauretti offering nothing further on his prediction.

The 11-term mayor, who is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination, said the murder -- his city's first non-domestic homicide since 1996 -- is "mind boggling" and a "sad commentary" on the violence that has enveloped this country.

Ndoj's shooting may have involved trouble over a teenage girl, according to sources.

"It has become almost epidemic," he said. "That says a lot about our behavior."

Lauretti, John Anglace, the longtime Board of Aldermen president, Antonio Gjaci and his brother, Julian were among the nearly 700 others who filled St. Joseph Church Thursday morning.

Many came from as far away as Albania, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey and as close as downtown Shelton, Ansonia and Waterbury.

"This is such a tragic senseless situation that I feel so bad for the family," said Anglace, who has a 15-year-old grandson. "I couldn't imagine being in their position."

Inside they heard a Mass celebrating the popular teen's life conducted in English by Msgr. Walsh and partially in Albanian by the Rev. Peter Popaj, pastor of Our Lady of Shkodra Church in Hartsdale, N.Y. The Rev. Popaj said his church is the only Albanian National Roman Catholic church between here and Detroit and numbers nearly 3,000 families -- some of whom came here Thursday.

"Many of these parishioners are my parishioners too," the Rev. Popaj said.

Those in attendance, which also included dozens of Shelton High teachers and students, heard Msgr. Walsh and the Rev. Popaj discuss Kristjan's life and extol his virtues.

Kristjan was born in Lac, Albania in a house next door to the parish, Msgr. Walsh said and not far from the shrine of St. Anthony of Padua. He said Kristjan's father, Fran arrived first followed in 2008 by his wife, Rudina and their two sons, Kristjan and his older brother, Elvis.

They initially lived in Ansonia before moving to a relative's home on Wooster Street and last year buying their own home on Coram Road.

Msgr. Walsh said Kristjan was aware of how hard his parents worked to make a better life for their two boys.

So he told his mother, according to Msgr. Walsh: "You and dad work hard just a few more years, but then I'm going to go to college, get a job and I'm going to take care of you."

Then, looking out at an audience containing many teenagers, the priest said: "Kids I don't want to dis your generation but I'm going to dis my generation too. In my age or your age, how many of us think of that at age 15 ... how many of you think `how can I help my mom and dad?' "

"Kristjan stood out by being so kind, that's what pains us the most ... we have such a broken heart," he said.

"We could not protect him from the violence and evil that we know is rampant everywhere," Msgr. Walsh said. "There is no safe place anymore ... nor will there be until faith, love and concern for all human beings becomes once again the primary values for us."

Shelton High School Headmaster Beth Smith recalled Kristjan's "infectious smile, stunning dimples and sparkling green eyes lit up the room whenever he entered."

She remembered him making "everyone he encountered feel like a friend."

Smith said Kristjan would require his friends to join him and sit with those students who found themselves alone in the cafeteria. Upon seeing a female student feeling sad one day, Smith said Kristjan brought that girl, who he didn't know, a slice of pizza to cheer her up.

On a recent Valentines Day, Smith said Kristjan grabbed a handful of candy hearts from the House 3 office and "handed them out to every girl in his ELL (English Language Learning) class.

Kristjan did have a reputation as being "a bit of a flirt," according to Msgr. Walsh. Both he and Smith said the teen asked his father about impressing girls and was told to compliment them.

"So I guess he went around and said you have beautiful eyes, you're a beautiful girl. American boys don't do that much," Msgr. Walsh said. "I'm sure it made an impression."

"This is a tragedy none of us can explain or understand," Smith said.

She urged those in attendance to keep Kristjan in mind by "continuing the acts of kindness he would have done ... to respect our parents and elders as he did ... to satisfy the thirst for learning that he had and to share our talents and our gifts with others as he did."

The headmaster's voice cracked and her face crinkled as she said "Thank-you Kristjan for being living proof that there are good people in this world."

She raised her eyes skyward and beseeched him to "watch over us and guide us to do the good you would have done."

(.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), 203-330-6286)

New priest leadership for Appeal
| March 28, 2014
Posted in Annual Bishop's Appeal


BRIDGEPORT—“One of our major goals is to broaden the base of giving to this year’s Annual Bishop’s Appeal. It’s equally important with reaching our goal,” said Msgr. Laurence Bronkiewicz, who is the newly named chairman of the Pastors Advisory Committee (PAC) for the Appeal.

The Appeal is guided by the 13-member Pastors Advisory Committee, which works with Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and the Development Office to set goals and structure the campaign each year.

More than 25,000 Catholics give to the Appeal, but Msgr. Bronkiewicz, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Ridgefield, would like to see that number grow to affirm the mission and the good works of the diocese.

The Appeal is already off to its best start in years, and Msgr. Bronkiewicz believes that is due in large part to the vision and energy Bishop Caggiano has brought to his leadership of the diocese.

“This is a transitional year for the Appeal and I think we’re benefitting from excitement that our new bishop brings to the local Church. With his decision to convoke our Fourth Diocesan Synod and his transparency in publishing financial reports, he has energized the diocese and moved us forward after a considerable period without a bishop,” said Msgr. Bronkiewicz.

The new PAC chair is equally excited about the new Chief Development Officer of the diocese, Bill McLean of Ridgefield.

“I may be a bit biased because he’s a member of our parish,” he said. “But Bill brings great communication skills, development experience and his own deep faith to the post.”

One of the challenges of the Appeal is to get people to look beyond their parish to the needs of the local Church, he says.

Father Reginald Norman, vice chairman of the PAC and pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Wilton, agrees that the Appeal is a reminder that all Catholics need to stretch a bit in their giving beyond parish walls.

As former pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Bridgeport, one of the poorest parishes in the diocese, Father Norman says that his work in both inner city and suburban parishes has given him a larger perspective on the Appeal in Fairfield County.

“We’re good at responding to global issues, but often we don’t see the need in our own backyard,” he says. “Believe it or not, people are struggling in affluent towns, and you don’t need to drive more than ten miles either way to find real poverty where people are hurting. But they often remain hidden from us.”

“The Appeal challenges us to take care of our brothers and sisters in the diocese,” he says. “No one asks to be sick, or poor or isolated, but many people suffer.  The Appeal is a bridge to them.”

Like Msgr. Bronkiewicz, Father Norman would like to see more people join in giving to this year’s Appeal. He says that even if people can only give a little, their participation sends a strong message of caring.

Pastors who will continue to serve on the Pastors Advisory Committee are Msgr. William J. Scheyd, St. Aloysius, New Canaan; Father Thomas P. Thorne, Assumption, Westport; Msgr. Walter C. Orlowski, St. Matthew, Norwalk; Msgr. Robert E. Weiss, St. Rose of Lima, Newtown; Father Michael K. Jones, St. Lawrence, Shelton, and Msgr. Matthew Bernelli, St. Mary, Bridgeport.

New pastors on the PAC are Msgr. Frank C. McGrath, St. John, Darien; Father Paul Murphy, St. Thomas More, Darien; Father Joseph J. Malloy, St. Clement, Stamford; Father Michael Dunn, St. Francis of Assisi, Weston, and Father Samuel V. Scott, St. Joseph, Danbury.

The Appeal provides essential services and ministries of the Church in Fairfield County, including Catholic schools and parish religious education programs, Catholic Charities, soup kitchens, food pantries, vocations to the priesthood and religious life, parish finance services, and parish life and ministries.

(For information: email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address); phone: 203.416.1470, or make a credit card donation online:            

Contemporary Stations draw positive response
| March 28, 2014 • by By Pat Hennessy


EASTON—“My kingdom is not of this world.” The refrain, one of the responses in “Jesus: Walk to Calvary,” echoes through Notre Dame Parish in Easton.

The original, contemporary Stations of the Cross composed by Marlane Tubridy are offered at Notre Dame every Friday during Lent.

“I researched online for different versions of the Stations,” says Tubridy, Notre Dame’s music director. “I wanted meditations that would relate to people’s lives today.”

Notre Dame has been using Walk to Calvary as a Lenten devotion for the past three years, and has seen participation grow from a handful of parishioners to more than 60 people on some Friday evenings.

“We spoke about the Stations at every Mass before the beginning of Lent, and it was very well received,” says Msgr. Thomas Driscoll, Notre Dame’s pastor. “The number of people who come with regularity is positive, especially in a small parish like our own.”

Tubridy graduated from Juilliard School of Music in New York, where she majored in voice and studied composition. She has studied opera with La Scala in Milan, Italy, and has a Master of Arts in drama from New York University. “Whenever I needed to relax, I’d write music,” she recalls.

Tubridy and her husband, Martin, both completed courses in the Education for Parish Service (EPS) program. “Instead of just going to Mass on Sunday, I began to grow in understanding of the Scriptures, and that would suggest musical themes to me,” she recalls.

The first person to call on her musical talents was Msgr. Nicholas Grieco, then pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Weston. At that time, Tubridy was music director at St. Francis. Each May, the parish would hold a prayer service with the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The litany calls on Our Lady under her many titles, some of them centuries old, including Mother of the Church, Mystical Rose, Morning Star, and Queen of Peace.

“Why don’t you write music for that?” suggested Msgr. Grieco.

 Parishioners’ reaction to the soft, sensitive music she composed surprised her. “It wasn’t just composing for my own enjoyment—I could take music to inspire them in their faith. It was like opening a beautiful gate.”

The music emphasizes simple phrases, focusing on the simplicity and beauty of the words. Although clear and contemporary, its modal tones hark back to early Church music, particularly that of the Eastern Church.

In the year 2000, when Tubridy started the CantiamoCHOIR (“cantiamo” means “let’s sing” in Italian), many members of St. Francis were among her founding group. “Even when it’s pop music, delivered with a sense of fun, it’s giving people a chance to relax, to take a break.”

All her concerts are benefit performances to assist local charities. “When I involve people this way, I evangelize without preaching.”

When she became director of music at Notre Dame, she again found encouragement from her pastor when Msgr. Driscoll asked her to compose songs and orchestral pieces for Mass at the parish. “It’s contemporary, but in some way still traditional, and I’ve been happy with it,” he says.

In 2006, she composed “Proclamation of Faith,” a Mass in honor of the 50th anniversary of the parish. She has since written “Mass of the People,” incorporating the new Mass translations.

“Jesus: Walk to Calvary” raised such a positive response among participants that Tubridy produced a video version, melding her music with masterpieces of religious art. The effort involved viewing literally thousands of museum paintings and mastering the intricacies of file compression to put the resulting file on YouTube.

“I’ve been excited beyond belief—just that I could learn this technology. Now there is a way to reach so many more people,” she says. “Between the images and the music, God can touch people wherever their faith is, in places we can never know.”

When it was posted on the diocesan website last Lent, the 21-minute video received over 1,000 hits. Requests have prompted it to be posted again this year.

“Jesus: Walk to Calvary” ends not with his death but with his Resurrection. “If you end with the crucifixion, you haven’t told the whole story,” says Tubridy.

The video ends with the image of an empty cross triumphant against a shaft of light, and the promise of Jesus to his disciples: “I am with you always.”

(“Jesus: Walk to Calvary” can be viewed on the diocesan website:; at; or at          

‘Planned’ parenthood—God’s way
| March 27, 2014 • by By Joe Pisani


While I was being introduced to guests at my younger sister’s birthday party, someone who had a little too much Pinot Grigio asked, “Is that your father?”

“Check the prescription on those eyeglasses,” I wanted to say.

I’m sure the question made Margaret’s day, although it cast a bit of a pall over mine. (At least they didn’t say “grandfather.”)

In my defense, let me point out that it was a poorly lit room, some guests had been drinking heavily and I had gray stubble on my face because I didn’t shave. You see, I wanted to look like those young hunks in GQ magazine who have sexy facial hair, but I guess my plan backfired because I looked more like Burl Ives than Hugh Jackman.

“No,” Margaret told the inquiring guest, “That’s my brother. We were born 13 years apart.” Then, she added, “I wasn’t planned.”

“Planned”—what a utilitarian concept. I doubt my parents planned her or my sister Kathy, who was born a year later on the same day. My father didn’t believe in long-range planning. He took life a day at a time, which is a lesson they taught him in Alcoholics Anonymous.

How many of us were planned by our parents? For my part, I hope I was a complete surprise, like winning Lotto or getting a flat tire when you’re rushing to a meeting.

Planned or unplanned, our parents welcomed us. They were from a different era when it was widely believed that all life, from the beginning to the end, was sacred. They also subscribed to this crazy notion that children were gifts from God.

When I thought about it, I had to admit that none of our four daughters was “planned,” at least by my wife and me. We never sat down to develop a strategic plan for parenthood with an Excel spreadsheet, a folder of Huggies coupons, and blueprints for a bigger house. In fact, we raised four daughters in a Cape Cod with three bedrooms, no dishwasher and one bathroom. The waiting lines were long and the yelling was loud.

Our daughters were surprises, and what great surprises. We welcomed them all, although we feared that four children were more than we could afford. In the end, God provided, as he always does.

Years later, however, while I was struggling to pay for college and weddings, I sometimes wondered, “Why the heck did we have four kids? A dog or two and possibly a parakeet would have been a lot less expensive.” But the truth is we wouldn’t have done anything differently.

As parents, we may not have planned those pregnancies, but God certainly did. God has a plan, and it’s always better than our plan. Sometimes, though, what He has in store for us isn’t necessarily what our first choice would be.

As he told the prophet Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

One of my “unplanned” sisters became a doctor who works in the intensive care unit and has helped many families when they’re confronting a medical crisis or the end of life. The other “unplanned” sister is a social worker who counsels families troubled by abuse and poverty. I like to think they take Christ with them in their work.

The greatest tragedy of our age is that so many children, had they been born and not aborted, could have changed the world for the better, in big ways and in small. They might have developed a cure for cancer or AIDS, and they might have brought Christ to the lonely, the suffering and the dispossessed.

Each one of us was created in God’s image and likeness with infinite forethought and love, although I confess that I seldom feel like a piece of fine craftsmanship and usually think of myself more as a Hyundai than a Porsche. But even our flaws were part of his plan, and the amazing thing is he loves us, flaws and all.

Years before Roe v. Wade and long before our society began to trivialize the sacredness of human life, Trappist author M. Raymond wrote, “Each human being is so tremendous that he or she merits a reverence that is really religious. For each is a creation of God; each a mirror of Divinity; each a feature or a facet on the Face of Christ.”

People who are forgotten by society, people who have no value in the eyes of a materialistic, status-obsessed culture are infinitely valued in the eyes of God.

Fr. Raymond also said, “From all eternity, God has had in his mind and will a specific task for you to perform for which no one else in all creation is fitted as you are. It belongs to you and to you alone.”

He’s talking about you. He’s talking about me. He’s talking about millions upon millions of “unplanned” children, whose value God understood before time began.

Or as Mother Angelica once said: “God knew you, loved you, and chose you before there was an angel, before there was a world, a universe or a star.”

Joe Pisani, a journalist for many years, is principal at The Dilenschneider Group, a strategic communications firm.

When fear says its prayers
| March 27, 2014 • by By Matthew Hennessey


Do you ever read the obituaries in your local paper? I do. And I make it a habit to read the ones with the American flags next to them. What does it take, 90 seconds? It’s the least we can do to honor those who put their lives on the line for God and country.

I bring this up because I recently heard the story of a fellow from my hometown. I’ll call him Pete. Pete died last month at 90. He was a small business owner and a friend to many, including my father, who was shocked to learn from his obituary that Pete had parachuted into Normandy during the D-Day invasion of France in 1944.

Imagine the surprise. My dad knew Pete well. They’d had frequent discussions about lots of things. But Pete never once talked about his service during World War II. Such silence is not uncommon among guys who saw real action.

You know the type. The old timer in the stands at the Little League game. The guy with the pins in his baseball hat. The gentlemanly usher who always greeted your family with a smile at Mass on Sunday morning.

That guy didn’t want to argue politics. That guy didn’t want to bicker about religion. He’d done enough fighting to last a lifetime, maybe two. He just wanted to watch a ball game on the weekend. He just wanted to serve his Church. He just wanted some sunshine on his face.

We owe those guys something. We owe guys like Pete. But since they don’t talk about what they saw and did for us, sometimes we don’t remember to be as grateful as we should be. It’s too bad, because soon they’ll be gone. My uncle Joe joined the Navy in 1945 at the age of 17. That makes him about as young a WWII veteran as you can be. He’s 86 now.

But it’s not just the WWII guys—the so-called Greatest Generation—who are leaving us. Navy pilot Lt. Commander Edwin A. “Ned” Shuman III died last year at 82. Shuman spent 17 months in solitary confinement over the course of his five years in the North Vietnamese prison camp known as the Hanoi Hilton. These guys never really got the thanks they deserved.

Around Christmas 1970, Shuman and his fellow prisoners were contemplating holding a church service in their cell. This was strictly forbidden. They knew it would invoke the ire of their guards, who were not prone to Christian charity or normal human kindness. Shuman wanted to make sure the men appreciated what was at stake.

“Are we really committed to having church Sunday?” he wanted to know. He went around the cell asking all 42 of his fellow prisoners whether they were ready to face the consequences. The vote was unanimous in favor.

“At that instant,” said someone who was there, “Ned knew he would end up in the torture cells.”

I think often about how unsuited I am to the sacrifice required of military life. Every time I get a sniffle or a sneeze it occurs to me just how miserable I’d be without my soft slippers or a warm cup of tea. I’d be terrible company in a fox hole. I’d be useless on a submarine.

Perhaps that’s why I’m drawn to these obituaries. If I’d parachuted behind enemy lines on D-Day I’d never stop talking about it. If I’d been tortured in a POW camp, I’d hold a grudge till the day I died (and maybe beyond). If I had seen what some of these guys had seen, I’d want everyone to know.

Where did these guys get their strength? Where did they find that emotional fortitude? I read somewhere that courage is fear that has said its prayers.

“To make it, I prayed by the hour,” U.S. Air Force General Robinson Risner wrote in his 2004 autobiography, The Passing of the Night: My Seven Years as a Prisoner of the North Vietnamese. “It was automatic, almost subconscious. I did not ask God to take me out of it. I prayed he would give me strength to endure it. When it would get so bad that I did not think I could stand it, I would ask God to ease it and somehow I would make it. He kept me.”

Because I was born in the early seventies, I managed to avoid serving my country in uniform. Oh, I could have served, but I chose not to. Guys like Pete, Ned Shuman, Robinson Risner, and my uncle Joe—they didn’t really have that choice. They were called and they went. Many didn’t come back.

He kept them. May he continue to keep them as they rest in eternal peace. May they know how grateful we are.   

Matthew Hennessey and his family are parishioners of St. Aloysius in New Canaan.            

Millions of refugees with no place to call home
| March 27, 2014 • by By Tony Magliano


Emergency: Syria! Emergency: South Sudan! Emergency: Democratic Republic of the Congo! These are the alarming messages being displayed on the homepage of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (

According to the UNHCR, Syria has more people forcibly displaced than any country on earth. Over 9 million Syrians have been uprooted from their homes due to civil war—over 2.5 million of them have fled to neighboring countries as refugees. And most distressing, more than half of the displaced are children.

In South Sudan, UNHCR reports the civil war and growing food shortages there has led to approximately 2,000 people crossing into nearby countries per day. Many of these refugees have been arriving exhausted, nutritionally weak and in poor health.

According to UNHCR, armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has caused about 450,000 people to cross into neighboring countries as refugees.

And armed conflict in the Central African Republic has created a refugee population of more than 312,000. While its number of refugees is not the continent’s largest, the violence there is so overwhelming that Steve Hilbert, foreign policy advisor for Africa at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, believes it is Africa’s most desperate nation.

These tragic examples highlight the massive refugee crisis throughout much of the world. While many poorer countries are stretching their meager resources to accept and aid refugees, most rich nations are not adequately responding.

For example, UNHCR reports that Lebanon continues to host nearly 1 million refugees from Syria, while according to legislative specialist Jill Marie Gerschutz-Bell of Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. took in only 30 Syrian refugees in 2013. She said CRS is urging the Obama administration to allow 15,000 Syrians into the U.S. this coming year.

The number of Syrian refugees hosted in Lebanon would be equivalent to over 73 million refugees in the U.S, reports UNHCR.

Kevin Appleby, director of migration policy for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops explained that the U.S. must set the example, so that other rich nations will follow. He said we need to significantly increase financial refugee assistance to the UNHCR, and allow many more of the world’s refugees into our nation.

Appleby said on average the U.S. takes in 60,000 refugees per year. He noted that during the height of the Vietnam War the U.S. took in 132,000 Vietnamese in a single year. He said the U.S. could easily take in at least 100,000 annually.

Please email and call your two U.S. senators and congressperson (Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121) urging them to significantly increase funding for international humanitarian assistance. Such an increase would provide much needed added assistance to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees’ efforts in aiding refugees.

Also, urge your congressional delegation to push for a significant expansion of the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. each year.    

You can provide additional help to refugees by sending a check to Catholic Relief Services, P.O. Box 17090, Baltimore, Md. 21203-7090. Kindly earmark your check “refugee aid.” Or you can donate online
Soon to be canonized Pope John Paul II said, “Concern for refugees must … highlight universally recognized human rights,” and “that the effective recognition of these rights be guaranteed to refugees.”  

During Lent, when are called to remember the poor in a special way, we would do well to remember that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were once refugees.  
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.

Trinity Catholic High School students pay it forward
| March 26, 2014


STAMFORD—This video of the Trinity Catholic High School students dancing to "Happy” by Pharrell is going viral—and people couldn't be happier.

Take a couple of minutes to view this joyful video and some great cameo appearances by faculty members and others. They were all busting their moves to celebrate the school's participation in a fund raiser for St. Jude's Children Hospital.

From an Irish step dancer to a grooving principal, you'll feel better about life after watching. Catholic education rocks!

Pay it Forward is the concept of selfless giving and changing the world one good deed at a time. Please copy or click on the link below and help Trinity Catholic pay it forward in 2014 to St. Jude Children’s hospital. Thank you in advance for your donations.

St Rose Students Worship While Working Out
| March 26, 2014 • by By Shannon Hicks, The Newtown Bee


Sandy Hook resident Elizabeth Adam, center, led two PraiseMoves
classes at St Rose of Lima School on March 24. She was assisted
by recently certified trainer Janet McGovern, at far left. One of the
taglines of PraiseMoves is "transform your workout into worship,"
and that was exactly what the eighth grade students were able to
do on Monday.

Photos by Shannon Hicks

A certified PraiseMoves instructor for nearly ten years,
Ms Adams is also a personal trainer, health coach,
and group fitness instructor.

NEWTOWN—Sandy Hook resident Elizabeth Adam introduced a few dozen St. Rose of Lima School students to a program of stretching and strength-building postures on March 24.

Called PraiseMoves, the program looks very much like yoga but uses biblical scripture to focus one’s mind instead of the chanting that accompanies most forms of the Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline.

“Our bodies are gifts from God,” Ms. Adam said at the beginning of the first class Monday morning. Two of Tim Dunn’s eighth grade physical education classes, one in the late morning and the other in the early afternoon, did the introductory program.

“Whatever we do with our bodies—what we watch on TV, the music we listen to, what we choose to eat, and yes, how we exercise —matters to God,” Ms. Adam said.

“Everything we do should be in a way that honors God,” she continued. “He has given us our bodies as a gift to do good works for Him, and taking care of them—exercise being part of it—is really important.”

PraiseMoves, Ms. Adam told the students, “works on building muscular strength, flexibility and balance.” It was founded, she said, on the word of God in 1 Corinthians 6:19 (“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”).

A certified PraiseMoves instructor for nearly ten years, Ms. Adams is also a personal trainer, health coach, and group fitness instructor.

“If someone were to take a look at this class from a physical perspective, they would see that it is similar to yoga,” she told The Newtown Bee on March 21. “You work on strengthening the body using your own body as resistance. You work on flexibility and balance, but you don’t use dumbbells or bars.

“Part of Hinduism is they bow to something like 20 million gods,” she continued. “That’s part of the religion in India. The genesis of yoga is not exercise, it’s the religion. They use their body as a way to worship their gods.”

PraiseMoves is similar, she admits. But there are distinctions, she added.

“The big difference between the two is the spiritual foundations. We are not using Hinduism as our foundation, we’re using the bible verses as a spiritual foundation. The word of God is the foundation of the class,” said Ms. Adam.

PraiseMoves was founded in 2001 by Laurette Willis. A former yoga instructor, Ms. Willis has said ( that she prayed for a Christian alternative to yoga after she began questioning the New Age lifestyle.

PraiseMoves features a series of stretching and strength-building postures. Each posture is linked to a verse of Scripture, which is focused upon while holding each posture. There are more than 140 PraiseMoves postures, including 22 based on the Hebrew alphabet. There are classes designed specifically for senior citizens, adults, children.

“This was designed as an alternate to Hindu yoga,” Ms. Adam said. “One of the taglines for PraiseMoves is ‘Transform your workout into worship.’”

On Monday at St. Rose, each class opened with a prayer, followed by about five minuets of low impact warm-up exercises. With music playing in the background Ms. Adams, with guest and recently certified instructor Janet McGovern nearby, engaged the students.

Roughly 20 minutes of postures followed, with the women taking turns reading the scripture verses upon which each new pose was based.

The students were encouraged to repeat parts of scripture out loud if they felt comfortable in doing so. The positive affirmations, Ms Adam told them, were there because “we believe what we say, far more, than what anybody else says.”

Students then laid down on their mats for a progressive muscle relaxation series, where they tensed and relaxed specific muscle groups.

To close each class, Ms. Adam and Ms. McGovern placed lavender scented facecloths over each student’s face. The students were encouraged to breathe in a scent that helps most people relax, and listen to a short devotional about keeping promises. Programs closed with a short prayer, and the opportunity for questions.

The classes were conducted in the Monsignor Weiss Gathering Hall. A large curtain divided the room in half, with the eighth graders in the back of the hall and kindergarten students having their lunch in the front during the morning session. It was a loud setting for a contemplative class, but Ms. Adam worked through the distractions.

“The students seemed distracted and disinterested” during the first class, she said the following morning. She was, however, “very pleased” with the second group.

Mr. Dunn said his students in both classes enjoyed themselves.

“It was fantastic, the kids had a great time,” he said March 25. “The first group enjoyed it, they’re just not used to that type of activity in that setting—where they weren’t moving, with the noise behind them. The second group was wonderful.

“They really had a good time. It was all positive feedback,” he said. Some of the students had done yoga before, he said, so the postures of PraiseMoves were not completely new to them.

“Some of the others reported they were a little sore at the end of the day,” he said.

The PE teacher has been working with students to create their own workout plans, he said, using body-weight exercise. “The PraiseMoves exercises will tie in well with what they’re trying to do,” he said.

Ms. Adam has been invited to return to the school to do a similar introductory program for the faculty, said Mr. Dunn. After that, the school administration will decide whether they will offer PraiseMoves as an after school event for students in grades 5–8 or staff.

“I think either group would do well,” he said. “It’s just going to be which one we have time for and can get scheduled in.”

Meanwhile, Monday was a success.

“It was really good,” he said. “It really brought Christ, and God, into the workout.”

Kolbe Cathedral High School senior AAACP 2014 Youth of the Year
| March 24, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Shyheim Snead, a senior at Kolbe Cathedral High School has been selected as the African-American Affairs Commission (AAACP) 2014 Youth of the Year.

Shyheim is a leader in his school, church and community. He volunteers countless hours serving meals, stocking a food pantry, and cleaning neighborhoods. As an active member of the school’s BuildOn club, Shyheim has spent time in Malauwi, Africa helping to build a school and working to reverse the cycle of poverty and illiteracy through education.

The mission of the African-American Affairs Commission (AAAC) is to improve and promote the economic development, education, health and political well being of the African-American community in the State of Connecticut.

Laurelton Hall wins 1st state championship
| March 24, 2014


UNCASVILLE—Emma McCarthy and her Lauralton Hall teammates enjoyed a small celebration eight days ago after defeating defending champion Mercy in the LL semifinals.

That didn't compare to the embrace the Crusaders shared Saturday center court at Mohegan Sun Arena.

After losing the LL state final at the buzzer last year, the second-seeded Crusaders returned Saturday to win their first state title, 68-53 over fourth-seeded South Windsor.

McCarthy, a senior forward, led all players with 26 points and 17 rebounds as the Crusaders (26-1) finished the year on a 23-game win streak. Senior guard Carly Fabbri added 15 points and 10 rebounds.

With four starters playing all 32 minutes, the Crusaders took the lead for good late in the second quarter. "We beat Mercy just recently, so beating them was kind of our little celebration," said McCarthy, whose team lost to Mercy in the regular season. "We knew we needed to take that energy into this state championship game and get the real state championship."

Despite shooting only 28 percent (9-of-32) in the first half, Lauralton led 26-23 thanks to its work on the glass. It pulled down 25 rebounds (15 offensive) in the first half and 45 for the game, compared to only 25 for South Windsor. South Windsor (23-4) rallied to within 49-46 with 4:41 left, but Fabbri answered with a layup on the other end. Lauralton closed the game on a 19-7 run.

This time, there were no dramatics in the final minutes. A year after they were stunned by a last-second 3-pointer by Mercy in the LL final, the Crusaders ran to the foul line as the horn sounded. There, they shared hugs and high-fives. "I just couldn't wait to hug them," coach Amanda Forcucci said. South Windsor forced Fabbri, the all-state guard, into one of her tougher shooting days (4-for-18) of the year, but she got plenty of help. Point guard Maggie Salandra scored 14 points and forward Emily Menendez added nine. "I don't think Carly's had to work that hard to get the ball and get those points all year," Forcucci said.

After single digits separated the two teams in the first half, Lauralton opened up an 11-point lead with 1:20 left in the third. "I didn't really get the ball in the bucket in the first half, but they really stepped up," Fabbri said. "Their transition points really led to us getting that big lead in the third quarter."

The Bobcats—now 0-for-3 all-time in the finals—were led by Olivia Bolden's 17 points. Molly Murphy had 15 points and Sara Jackson scored 11. Lauralton's game plan, Forcucci said, was to run and score. The three-time defending SWC champions did that, but it took a while. The Crusaders trailed for nearly 14 minutes before a pair of Menendez free throws gave them a 23-21 with 2:10 left in the first half.

No. 2 Laurelton Hall celebrates after its 68-53 win over No. 4 South Windsor in the CIAC Class LL high school girls basketball state championship game at Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday, March 22, 2014. 

Photo: Tyler Sizemore / CT Post / The News-Times / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Geography Bee: from New Guinea to the Berlin Conference
| March 24, 2014


DANBURY—Knights of Columbus McGivney Council #29 held its fourth annual Regional Catholic Geography Bee on March 15 at St. Joseph School in Danbury.

Thirteen fifth through eighth-graders from five parochial schools in the northern portion of the Diocese of Bridgeport participated.

Colman Tokar (center), a sixth-grader at St. Rose of Lima School in Newtown, won after seven elimination rounds by identifying Hawaii as the location of Mount Waialeale, one of the rainiest locations in the U.S., and by identifying Kentucky as the state famous for Daniel Boone and home to the first Catholic diocese west of the Appalachians.

Veronica Galban (l), an eighth-grader at St. Mary School in Ridgefield, reached the seventh elimination round to place second, using knowledge ranging from Bridgeport to Egypt to New Guinea. Cooper Swenson (r), a seventh-grader at St. Gregory the Great School in Danbury, placed third, advancing into the sixth elimination round by answering questions about Buenos Aires and the 1880s Berlin Conference. All three won awards from the Knights of Columbus and Immaculate High School.

Alumni Reunion set for St. Thomas Seminary, Bloomfield
| March 24, 2014


BLOOMFIELD—On May 2, 2014, St. Thomas Seminary will be hosting a reunion for all clergy and lay alumni at the Archdiocesan Center at Saint Thomas Seminary.

The reunion will begin with registration and tours at 2pm; Mass in the Chapel from 4-5pm; reception in the Alumni Lounge from 5:30-6:30pm; dinner and the evening’s program beginning at 6:30pm.

“It will be an opportunity for them to see the many changes in the building, to renew acquaintances of times past, and to become aware of how the seminary serves the Archdiocese of Hartford and the wider Catholic Community of Connecticut and beyond,” said Msgr. Gerard G. Schmitz, President/Rector.

The reunion is open to all priests and laity who studied at the seminary. Over 5000 men have attended Saint Thomas Seminary. Many of theses are priests today while others serve the Church as active lay members. Some attended the high school program and others the junior college program.

The Preparatory Seminary of St. Thomas of Aquinas was founded by the Rt. Rev. Michael Tierney, sixth Bishop of Hartford. The property for the original Preparatory Seminary at of St. Thomas of Aquinas (at 352 Collins Street, Hartford) was purchased by Bishop Tierney on the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin, Nov. 21, 1896. Classes were organized in St. Thomas Seminary on Sept. 7, 1898, when thirty-seven students, fifteen boarders and twenty-two day scholars, were entered on the roll. This was known as the “first Seminary” located at 352 Collins St. in Hartford.

When more ample quarters were needed Bishop Maurice McAuliffe purchased property for a new seminary on the West Hartford-Bloomfield line. The cornerstone of the new St. Thomas Seminary was laid by Bishop John Joseph Nilan on Sunday, Sept. 29, 1928 at 4pm with the entire student body, about 200, in attendance. It first opened on Sept. 29, 1930.

For information and registration: http://saintthomasseminary reunion. Overnight accommodations available. To reserve a room, please call 860-242-5573 X 2602.  Questions email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Fr Martin Hitchcock
| March 20, 2014


HILTON HEAD, SC—Father Martin Hitchcock, former pastor of St. Mary Parish in Greenwich, died on March 12 pm in Hilton Head, SC, where he resided after retiring. Father Hitchcock, who was 88, had taken early retirement in 1991 for medical reasons. He suffered from multiple sclerosis.

Born in Great Barrington, MA, in 1926, he entered St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield and completed his theological studies at St. Mary Seminary in Baltimore, MD. He was ordained by Bishop Henry J. O’Brien in St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Hartford, on May 3, 1951.

When the Diocese of Bridgeport was first formed, Father Hitchcock was assigned first to St. James Parish in Stratford in Stratford and then St. Peter Parish in Danbury. While at St. Peter’s, he served as chaplain of the Newman Club at Western CT State University (WestConn).

He was appointed assistant superintendent of schools in 1964, and became superintendent in 1967. During that time he resided at St. Mary Parish, Bethel; St. Joseph Parish, Danbury; St. Lawrence Parish, Shelton; and Notre Dame Parish, Easton. He was also a member of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission.

In 1971 he was named pastor of St. Mary’s, a position he held for over 30 years. He also served on the Presbyterial Council from 1976-78.

Fr. Hitchcock was pleased to recall that among his altar boys were the future Msgr. Frank McGrath, pastor of St. John Parish in Darien; Msgr. Thomas Driscoll, pastor of Notre Dame Parish in Easton; Fr. Thomas Thorne, pastor of Assumption Parish in Westport; and the late Father Richard Futie, former pastor of St. Mary and Sacred Heart parishes, both in Stamford.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated for Father Hitchcock on April 1 at 9 am at St. Mary’s. At his request, he will be buried in a simple Trappist coffin.

Burial will follow in his mother’s plot in St. Joseph Cemetery, Canaan, CT.

Tournament honors Ugolyn’s legacy
| March 20, 2014


All Star Boys: Andrew Hickey and Jacob Krasznai, St. Catherine
of Siena, Trumbull; Jack Soucy and Jack Feeney, Our Lady of Fatima;
Nick Lombardi and Brian Noone, Trinity Catholic Middle School,
Stamford; Bobby Sullivan and Jack Kelly, St. Theresa, Trumbull;
Zachary Hurd and Matt Pinho, All Saints, Norwalk; Adam Stone
and Grant Purpura, St. Aloysius, New Canaan; Luke Finnegan, 
Matty Clarkin, and Max Mulquin, St. Thomas Aquinas, Fairfield;
(l) Coach Terry O’Sullivan; (r) coach and pastor Fr. Reggie Norman.
Missing from photo: Jack Scholl and Louis Guzzi of St. Thomas.

All Star Girls: Bridget Paulman and Julia Sendzik, , St. Thomas;
Lizzie Lynch, Jessica Highland, and Caroline Sweeny, Our Lady
of Fatima; Sarah Jablonski and Juliana Burkem, Trinity Catholic;
Gabby Joseph and Tatiana Arias, All Saints; Kalissa DeStefano,
Delila DeStefano and Olivia Giovannini, St. Stephen Parish team
from Trumbull and Monroe. Missing from photo, Olivia Ramos,
St. Stephen; and Krista Shultz and Samantha Lubas from St. Theresa.

WILTON—The Seventh Annual Tyler Ugolyn Basketball Tournament, held mid-season at Our Lady Fatima School, honored Tyler Ugolyn, who graduated from Our Lady of Fatima school in 1997 and tragically died during the 9/11 terrorist attack.

“We had 48 teams from 12 schools within the diocese participate, over 500 basketball players in all” says Peter Rubsam, Our Lady of Fatima’s JV coach, who ran the tournament.  “We also had an All Star game for both the boys and girls varsity teams” (seventh and eighth graders).

This year, Our Lady of Fatima’s pastor, Father Reggie Norman, coached one of the boys teams.

Ugolyn went to Ridgefield High School, where he became a member of the National Honor Society.  He was a McDonald's High School All-American Basketball nominee, ranked as one of the top 250 seniors in the country, before deciding to attend Columbia where he was recruited to play Division 1 basketball.

“Not only was Tyler a great basketball player, he was a great person and a devout Catholic,” says Rubsam. 

While at Columbia his faith grew stronger and he became a co-founder of the Columbia Catholic Athletes and a Eucharistic Minister.  When his knees gave out playing basketball, he formed a basketball program for Harlem youth at the Columbia gym every Sunday morning.

Ugolyn’s favorite saying came from his grandmother: Yesterday was history; Tomorrow is a mystery; Today is a gift from God!” 

Founded after his death, the Tyler Ugolyn Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to promoting youth basketball programs and the refurbishment of inner-city basketball courts. Courts have been renovated in Tyler's memory all across the country in conjunction with the NCAA Men's Final Four, including cities such as San Antonio, Detroit, Indianapolis and Houston.

“This year our tournament donated $1,000 to the Tyler Ugolyn Foundation,” Rubsam says.

Catholic Schools Kids March on St. Patrick’s Day!
| March 20, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—St. Patrick’s Day was a special day of celebration in the Diocese of Bridgeport and for the Catholic Center family. It began with 8 am Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.

Click here for a slideshow!

Terry O’Connor, executive director of the Cardinal Shehan Center and McGivney Community Center in Bridgeport, served as this year’s Grand Marshal, while Anne O. McCrory, Chancellor of the Diocese, joined Sister Mary Grace Walsh, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, in one of the lead cars in the parade.

According to Robert O’Keefe of Trumbull, former Grand Marshal and head of the new Catholic Schools Division of the parade, this year’s event included 650 students from the new Catholic Schools Division. The Catholic Schools featured three floats and a Creole Marching Band from St. Joseph High School in Trumbull.

The Greater Bridgeport St. Patrick’s Day Celebration Committee works to encourage and advance the culture and heritage of the Irish people by organizing and presenting a day of activities dedicated to St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

East Meets West—A Pilgrimage to Worship With Friends From the “Other Side” of the Catholic Family
| March 18, 2014


(l-r) Clergy, Fr. Bodhan Danylo, Rector of St. Basil College
Seminary; Most Reverend Paul Chomnycky, Bishop of Stamford,
Diocese of Stamford; Fr. Maxim Kobasuk, OSBM, Spiritual Director,
St. Basil’s; Msgr. Alan F. Detscher, Pastor, St. Catherine of Siena
Church, Riverside, CT. In the foreground are some of the children
in the St. Catherine of Siena Sunday Family Program.

St. Catherine of Siena Family Program parents and children
and St. Basil’s clergy.

Kassidy Lundgren, Grade 1, said: “I was picked to be a helper
and I liked the presents we got, I liked the food they made for us
and I liked Father Bodhan because he answered all my questions!”

STAMFORD—On Sunday, March 2, Msgr. Alan F. Detscher, Pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Church, Riverside CT, with about 50 parishioners young and old from the Family Program at St. Catherine’s went on a pilgrimage to St. Basil’s Seminary in Stamford to celebrate an Eastern Rite Catholic Divine Liturgy.

St. Catherine of Siena Family Program meets once a month for one hour and a half. Families attend 9:00 Mass, and then meet in the Lucey Parish Center for a light breakfast. After breakfast, children grades 1-5, go to respective classrooms for catechetical instruction while parents remain for adult catechesis. This pilgrimage was part of their instructional program.

The group arrived at 11:00 am,  Father Bodhan Danylo, Rector of St. Basil College Seminary, welcomed us into their chapel and gave a brief history of the Seminary founded in 1939 for priests of the Byzantine-Ukrainian Catholic Church.  He gave each of us gifts: a card with the Icons of the new Ukrainian Martyrs and small, colorful, 7” tapestries of gold, blue, and red some depicting Mary, Mother of God and others of Christ. Fr. Danylo said: “It is a joy for us when we are able to share the treasures of the Ukrainian Catholic Church with our friends.”

Fr. Bodhan described some of the Icons and the Mosaics in the chapel. On the left side, there were Icons showing the progression and vestments from Seminarian to Bishop. On the right side, there were mosaics of prominent saints such as St. Vladimir and St. Olga.  On the Icon screen Royal Doors,  which enclosed the sanctuary (symbolic of heaven) altar, are first the Icon of the Annunciation, because Mary, the Mother of God, was the first one to hear the Good News of the Incarnation. Beneath the Icon of the Annunciation are the Holy Evangelists, Gospel writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Immediately above on the Icon screen are the twelve apostles. The Icons going up the arch are a story of the life of Christ. To the right of the doors is the Icon of Christ, the teacher.  Right of Christ is the Deacon’s door. To the left of the Deacon is St. Basil the Great, the Seminary’s patron saint. To the left of the doors is Mary the Mother of God. Next to the Mother of God is another Deacon’s door and next to the Deacon’s door is a favorite saint of Ukrainian Catholics … St. Nicholas of Myra.

Important in Iconography is the use of color. Christ’s undergarments are usually red to show his Divinity. His outer mantle is blue to symbolize humanity. With the Mother of God, the colors are reversed. Her undergarment is blue to show that she is human, but her outer garment is red to show that she is the God-bearer. Icons are inlaid with gold to show that they depict Heaven.

After our mini lesson and questions answered, the icon screen Royal Doors were opened and the Divine Liturgy began with Bishop Paul Chomnycky con- celebrating with St. Basil’s Rector, Fr. Bodhan Danylo and Fr. Maxim Kobasuk, Spiritual Director. The Bishop gave an inspiring homily introducing the Lenten season. Bishop Chomnycky said: “Lent is like going to a party. We spend 40 days getting clean, forgiving, and getting dressed for the party celebrated on Easter.” The Divine Liturgy, rich with bells, smells, and rituals, continued; and although we could recognize parts of our Latin Mass, there were differences. There were more responses,  incense was used during the Divine Liturgy, the Sign of the Cross is made using the first three fingers of the right hand (symbolizing the Trinity) and it is reverse to the Latin Sign of the Cross. The other major difference was at the time of receiving Eucharist.  Using a small spoon, a small cube of bread soaked in wine was distributed to those receiving Communion.

After the Divine Liturgy, families were treated to a lunch of traditional Ukrainian food which included a borscht hot soup of cabbage and beets; piroghi (like ravioli) stuffed with potato and served plain or with onions and butter; baked chicken; a medley of vegetables and a salad. For dessert there were cakes, a lemon tart, and chocolate tart.

Kassidy Lundgren, Grade 1, was asked if she enjoyed the day. She said: “Oh, yes! I was picked to be a helper, I liked the presents we got, I liked the food they made for us and I liked Father Bodhan because he answered all my questions!”

Thank you St. Basil’s Seminary College! The St. Catherine of Siena Family Program pilgrims traveled home from our grace-filled, gift-filled day being well fed in body, mind, and soul.

Catholic Charities Announces Sandy Disaster Relief Services
| March 17, 2014


FAIRFIELD—More than a year after Hurricane Sandy many coastal area residents have not returned to their homes or have not been able to complete necessary repairs.

The Catholic Charities Disaster Relief Services office is now collaborating with state and private agencies to assess remaining damage and help residents with unmet storm-related issues.

The goal is to provide Sandy survivors with unresolved storm damage to their homes access to a needs assessment team who can itemize necessary repair costs and help them apply for assistance from newly available funding resources.

Temporary walk-in centers have been set up around the state. The Fairfield walk-in center will be open Tuesday March 25-Saturday March 29:

Sandy Survivor Walk-in Center for Fairfield-Area Residents
Fairfield Town Senior Center
100 Mona Terrace
Fairfield, CT
Phone: 203-895-1867

Hours: Tuesday and Thursday from 11 am to 7 pm; Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm.

“Green Shirts,” a trained volunteer team working in association with CT Rises will conduct disaster related needs assessment free of charge:

·         Identify unmet needs of individuals and families

·         Identify resources available from voluntary organizations

·         Coordinate delivery of resources to address needs.

·         Identify and support steps to mitigate damage from future disasters.


Catholic Charities has been the recipient of two disaster relief grants; one from the State of Connecticut to fund a staff of five case managers, and a $1.25 million grant from Catholic Charities USA to help homeowners deal with mold, structural  problems and other critical issues not covered by existing programs. For further info, call Catholic Charities: 203-416-1338 or 203-416-1400, ext 1338

Bishop Caggiano invites Voice of the Faithful to participate in Synod 2014
| March 14, 2014


NORWALK—There was a hush in the room as Bishop Frank J. Caggiano stepped to the podium to begin his meeting with the Voice of the Faithful in the community hall at the back of the Congregational Church on the Norwalk Green.

More than 150 men and women shared a sense of an extraordinary moment as the Bishop and VOTF came together to discuss issues that have divided the local Church for a decade beginning with the sexual abuse crisis.

VOTF president Jamie Dance graciously welcomed Bishop Caggiano to the meeting, noting it was “an historic occasion” as a spirit of reconciliation and hope filled the room.  In his introduction of Bishop Caggiano, Joseph O’Callaghan of Norwalk, one of the founders of VOTF, said it felt like the 12-year exile from the diocese was over, and he thanked the bishop for meeting with the group.

“The Bishop has found his lost sheep in our place of refuge,” he said.  “Let us pray that we never again are separated from our bishop, nor he from us. We look forward to a positive future.”

The Brooklyn born bishop who called for “bridge building” in his installation homily in September, lived up to his words, saying that he considered VOTF members to be “brothers and sisters in faith.”

“When our family fought across the kitchen table, my father used to remind us “that blood was thicker than water, and we know that grace is thicker than blood. We’re all bound in grace,” he said.  With people leaning over the balcony to ask questions and a microphone planted in the middle of the floor, men and women came forward to ask the bishop a wide range of questions on issues ranging from role of women in the church, to birth control, serving the poor, and the handling of sexual abuse crisis.

Bishop Caggiano said he hoped “to begin a conversation that shares the faith, helps us get to know each other, and deepens our union as baptized children of the church.”

The bishop began his remarks noting that the meeting fell on the first anniversary of the papacy of Francis, who has been “a catalyst for renewal and has given the world a second look at what it means to be Catholic.”

The bishop told the gathering that while disagreements are inevitable, he did not want to see Catholics fighting each other and that the Eucharist brings healing and unity. “When we come together as Catholics, we come together as family,” he said.  Describing the present as “a singular moment of grace” in the history of the local church, the bishop invited VOTF representatives to be among the 440 delegates to the 4th Diocesan Synod that will gather in the coming months to plan for the future of the diocese.

“The synod won’t be top down or bottom up, but ‘us’ coming to discern about the most urgent issues facing the diocese,” he said. The bishop said he was deeply troubled by the disaffection of young people who are un-churched and the numbers of Catholics who have left the Church in the last decade.

While the mood in the meeting hall was one of respect and affection, the bishop was not spared tough questions by those who came to the microphone to share their thoughts.   A number of women came forward and asked for a larger ministerial role in the life of the Church, while noting that women preach and serve as ministers in other Christian denominations.  Bishop Caggiano said that the Church would not reverse the decision of Pope John Paul II, which ruled out ordination of women to priesthood.  “Have women found their rightful place in leadership of the Church? No, we have much more work to do,” he said.

The bishop said he would like to see the laity play a more prominent role in the financial management of parishes.   “What I have found is that Fairfield County is blessed with lay leaders who are professional, well educated experts and they want to serve the church,” he said, foreseeing an opportunity for lay men and women to come forward. “Priests aren’t roofers or financial managers,” he said noting that if the laity took over many financial and maintenance responsibilities, priests would be free to be deepen their ministries.

When the bishop was asked “How do we reform Catholic culture?” he said that adults need many more opportunities to learn and grow in the faith and young people need to have a sense of being loved and valued by their parish communities.

“If we don’t have the existential experience of being loved, then the Catholic family becomes external as rules and regulations. When you realize you are loved, and then you may better understand that God loves you too,” said the bishop, adding that evangelization takes place not in programs “but one by one.”

The meeting, which began with a prayer, said every day during Vatican II, participants concluded when the group said the “Our Father” together.

The Fairfield County chapter of VOTF formally incorporated on February 28, 2003. Catholics from St. Jerome Parish in Norwalk and St. Paul Parish in Greenwich were the first to organize in the area.  Its goals are to support survivors of sexual abuse by priests, to support priests of integrity, and to work for structural change in the Church in accordance with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

Click here for a slideshow!
Photos by Amy Mortensen

Diocese announces new St. Catherine Center for Special Needs
| March 14, 2014


FAIRFIELD—The Diocese of Bridgeport has announced plans for the new St. Catherine Center for Special Needs to officially open in Fairfield on July 1, 2014.

The new center will bring together services currently provided by the Ministry for People with Disabilities of the Office of Pastoral Services, a new Inclusive Support program for Catholic schools, and St. Catherine’s Academy, the Special Education School of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

The announcement was made by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and Sister Mary Grace Walsh, ASCJ, Ph.D, Superintendent of Schools.

“The Center will oversee unified pastoral and educational support for individuals with disabilities and serve as a valuable resource for the Diocesan community as it centralizes all related services within one organization,” said Sister Mary Grace Walsh. “Our leadership team is well positioned to move forward in their new roles.”

“We thank Bishop Caggiano for his support and direction as we seek to consolidate the pastoral and educational outreach to individuals with special needs and their families,” she said.

Bishop Caggiano said he was very grateful for all of the board members and diocesan staff who have created the new vision for services. “The Diocese and the Advisory Board of St. Catherine Academy spent the past year working both with consultants and internally to strategically plan for the hope-filled future of St. Catherine Academy and services to young people with disabilities,” he said. “The restructuring will bring all of our diocesan ministries pertaining to education and catechesis under one roof to support those with special needs.”

Charles Chiusano, Chair of the Board of St. Catherine Academy, said the new center will expand and coordinate overall resources. "The establishment of the St. Catherine Center for Special Needs will mark a new beginning for people with special needs in the Diocese of Bridgeport. The faculty and staff will have even more resources that can be used to help this very special segment of our population."

The new Center will be located at St. Catherine Academy, which will continue to operate as the school for students with special needs for the Diocese.

Currently the Ministry for People with Disabilities, located in the Catholic Center, is responsible for the spiritual formation of individuals with disabilities and providing the bridge between these individuals, families and the greater Diocesan Community.

Michelle O’Mara, who serves as Director of Ministry for People with Disabilities, will transition to the new role of Director of Pastoral Care and Outreach at the center.

The new Inclusive Support program will work collaboratively with the Center by assisting Catholic School administrators and teachers with regard to accommodations and placement of students with disabilities within the Catholic school network of the Diocese. Sr. Marilyn Muldoon, who has served as principal of St. Catherine Academy, has been appointed Director of Inclusive Support for Catholic Schools.

Under the plan, Helen Burland, current President of St. Catherine Academy, has been appointed Executive Director of the Center. She will report to the board and to the diocese through the Superintendent of Schools and the Senior Director of Pastoral Services who will be members of the board.

Damien O’Connor, Senior Director of the Office of Pastoral Services, Diocese of Bridgeport, said the new center recognizes the importance of spiritual and pastoral outreach to create a comprehensive and holistic approach to people with disabilities. “I am absolutely thrilled for Michelle and St. Catherine's. As a parent of children with special needs and as someone who has worked with Michelle very closely, her service to the diocese has been invaluable. Evangelization and outreach to those with special needs will grow exponentially under this new model.”

Sister Mary Grace Walsh said the Diocese will immediately initiate a search for a Director of Education at St. Catherine Academy to provide for a smooth transition for all students and staff.  “I am grateful to Charles Chiusano, board chair, and all the members of the board for their cooperation with this planning process. The board will also be taking on additional governance responsibilities in the new organization and all of us owe them our thanks for their generous sharing of time, talent and treasure,” said Sister Mary Grace Walsh. She said that a letter has been sent to Parents/Guardians, Faculty, Staff, and Friends of St. Catherine Academy to explain the changes and the ongoing commitment to work with people with disabilities. “These are exciting times for the Diocese as we transition to the new St. Catherine Academy Center for Special Needs, and we hope you share our enthusiasm as we highlight our commitment to meeting the pastoral and educational needs of individuals with special needs under this new organization,” she said.

St. Catherine Academy is located at 760 Tahmore Drive, Fairfield, CT 06825, Phone: 203-540-5381. Online at

O’Connor named grand marshal
| March 12, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Terry O’Connor has been selected to be the grand marshal of the 2014 Greater Bridgeport St. Patrick’s Day Celebration.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the centerpiece of the celebration of Irish culture, kicks off at 12:00 noon on March 17 in downtown Bridgeport.

O’Connor, a Trumbull resident, is executive director of the Cardinal Shehan Center and McGivney Community Center in Bridgeport. Both facilities focus on serving youth and  their families with a mix of social, educational and recreational services.

He is the 32nd grand marshal of the Greater Bridgeport St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Bridgeport. The event has become a tradition in the region, with help from people in many surrounding towns.

“I’m happy to follow in the footsteps of other grand marshals such as Peggy and Ed Connor, Richard and Deborah Owens, Frank Carroll Jr., Robert O’Keefe, Dr. Patrick Carolan and so many others,” O’Connor said.

According to Robert O’Keefe, past Grand Marshal, this year’s parade will include feature 650 students from the new Catholic Schools, which will feature three floats and a Creole Marching Band for St. Joseph High School in Trumbull.

The Greater Bridgeport St. Patrick’s Day Celebration Committee works to encourage and advance the culture and heritage of the Irish people by organizing and presenting a day of activities dedicated to St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

Terry O’Connor began his long, distinguished career in the field of Athletics as a basketball coach at Harvard University and then Fairfield University.

In 1992, he became the Executive Director of the Cardinal Shehan Center. The Shehan Center is a non-profit organization located in Bridgeport, CT. Its mission is to enrich lives through learning. It offers a variety of programs and activities that address the educational, recreational, cultural, and social needs of moderate and low-income families and young people. In over twenty years as Executive Director, he has consistently exhibited the qualities of a true community leader for the Center, as well as for the city of Bridgeport.

Over the years, Terry has received many honors and awards for his volunteer efforts and leadership roles within the community. He also serves as a Director on the board of several community organizations. It is an honor to have him as the Grand Marshal of the 2014 Greater Bridgeport St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Schedule of Parade Events
March 17, 2014 
Greater Bridgeport St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Downtown Bridgeport

•    8:00 am—Mass at Saint Augustine Cathedral

•    9:15 am—Flag raising at City Hall with The Honorable Bill Finch, Mayor of Bridgeport

•    10:00 am—Grand Marshal’s Breakfast*, Grand Ballroom, Bridgeport Holiday Inn
With performances by The Sheeaun Academy of Irish Dance

•    12:00 pm—Parade Kick-Off with 2014 Grand Marshal, Terry O’Connor

•    1:30 pm—Post Parade Luncheon & Awards Ceremony*, Grand Ballroom, Bridgeport Holiday Inn
With performances by the Lenihan School of Irish Dance

*Tickets will be $25.00 and seating will be on a first come first serve basis. Contact Nancy at 203.268.9657 for tickets.

(For further information about the 2014 parade events, please contact the parade committee chair, Katrina Shea, at 203.260.7298.)     

Love as I have loved you
| March 10, 2014


FAIRFIELD—Watch this video from the Convivio youth congress held this weekend at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. The gathering, sponsored by the Pastoral Services office of the Diocese of Bridgeport, featured a visit by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and a weekend of prayer and spiritual affirmation.

See Erica Smith giving witness sharing her thoughts as she is interviewed . . . see Logan Otis giving witness as he carries the cross . . . see Alex Difiore giving witness as he is fed by Christ in the Eucharist. Listen to a key few words from Bishop Caggiano and then go out, give witness and show the world how you LOVE!!!

Physician Assisted Suicide Bill
| March 06, 2014


HARTFORD—“Please check the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference website at or the Family Institute of Connecticut website at for the latest information on the proposed Physican Assisted Suicide Bill, HB 5326”.

Fairfield Prep captures SCC boys basketball championship
| March 06, 2014 • by Doug Bonjour, CT Post


Fairfield Prep's # 3 Keith Pettway drives to the basket through
two Hillhouse High School defenders during Wednesday evening
SCC Championships at Quinnipiac University's TD Bank Sports Center.
Prep would win 56-52.    Photo by Mike Ross

Fairfield Prep's # 0 Ryan Murphy drives past a Hillhouse High School
defender during Wednesday evening SCC Championships
at Quinnipiac University's TD Bank Sports Center. Prep would win 56-52.
Photo by Mike Ross

HAMDEN—The tallest player on the floor did his usual damage in the paint, coming within three blocks of a triple-double.

But it was one of the shortest players on the floor who made a few of the biggest plays late in Wednesday's SCC boys basketball final.

Ray Featherston, Fairfield Prep's 5-foot-7 reserve guard, pulled down a pair of offensive rebounds off missed free throws as Hillhouse chipped away at the Jesuits' once-sizable lead in the fourth.

"Being the smallest player on the court, nobody's going to box me out," Featherston said. "I was literally left alone for the rebound. He (a Hillhouse player) went for it, thought he was going to grab it, jumped too early. I saw my opportunity."

His opportunity was the Jesuits' gain.

Top-ranked Prep fended off a furious late rally from Hillhouse to claim a 56-52 victory and its first SCC title at Quinnipiac's TD Bank Sports Center.

Center Paschal Chukwu scored 18 points and guard Thomas Nolan added 15 to move the Jesuits—the state's lone remaining unbeaten—to 23-0. Hillhouse, which defeated the Jesuits in last year's conference and LL state finals, dropped to 18-5.

Prep led by as many as 13 points in the third quarter, but Hillhouse got within one in the fourth. That's as close as the Academics would get, though, as Featherston pulled down a rebound with 1:26 left off Nolan's missed free throw. The junior called timeout while falling out of bounds.

"Different guys stepped up," Jesuits coach Leo Redgate said. "I think we played very, very well for three quarters."

With 59 seconds left and Prep ahead 53-51, Featherston did the same as Chukwu missed the front end of a one-and-one. The Jesuits maintained possession, took a little more time off the clock and soon returned to the line.

"It just took one of those extra bounces on the rim," Hillhouse coach Renard Sutton said. "When my big guy went up to get it, that extra bounce cost us. An untimely jump."

Hillhouse was also plagued by an untimely drought from the floor early. Unable to score consistently inside against the 7-foot-2 Chukwu (13 rebounds, seven blocks), the Academics also struggled from the perimeter. They shot just 18-for-58 from the floor, including 6-of-28 from beyond the arc.

The Academics, who dropped both its regular-season meetings with Prep, had a chance to take the lead down 53-51 but missed two 3-pointers.

"We dug ourselves a hole so deep from the beginning," Sutton said. "It shouldn't have to come down to the big shot."

Guard Shane Christie led Hillhouse with 20 points, while John Lewis added 11.

After Hillhouse used a 6-0 spurt at the start of the second quarter to tie it 13-13, the Jesuits responded with six straight points to take the lead for good. They led 29-23 at halftime and 47-36 after three quarters.

"We knew Hillhouse was going to go on a run," said Nolan, who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. "They're too good of a team, they're too well-coached. They know what to do.

"We knew that it was not going to be a 12-point win."

The Jesuits also returned star guard Ryan Murphy from an ankle injury. Playing in his first game since January 4—the Jesuits' first game against Hillhouse this season—the sophomore scored two points in 14 minutes.

After spoiling Hillhouse's sixth straight SCC finals appearance, the Jesuits will now prepare for the LL state tournament as the No. 1 seed.

"We're very happy with the win," Redgate said. "However, our goal is to be playing great—win, lose or draw—at the end of the year."

Ministry of the Month: Cece and Mike Donoghue tour Thomas Merton Center
| March 06, 2014
Posted in Annual Bishop's Appeal


It is easy enough to tell the poor to accept their poverty as God’s will when you yourself have warm clothes and plenty of food and medical care and a roof over your head and no worry about the rent. But if you want them to believe you, try to share some of their poverty and see if you can accept it as God’s will yourself!   Thomas Merton

Outside on the steps an elderly man stands alone, a young husband and wife huddle close together, two men in their twenties try to stand tall while pulling their thin wool jackets up around their necks guarding against the raw February air. The doors of The Thomas Merton House of Hospitality will open at 8:30 am and offer a warm respite for these fragile people, perhaps a shower, a friendly smile, a reassuring look from someone that says “you matter to me,” and the most basic of needs, an opportunity to eat a hot, home cooked meal.

The Thomas Merton Center provides breakfast, lunch and day shelter Monday through Saturday to more than 300 people from the greater Bridgeport area. It is one of the many ministries supported by Catholic Charities through the Annual Bishop’s Appeal. The Thomas Merton Center is most widely known for its soup kitchen and food pantry. We made a visit to the Center and took a quick tour with Mark Grasso, vice president of The Merton Center, and were impressed by how much more than a typical soup kitchen is this wonderful ministry.

Along with providing much needed meals for the homeless, other programs provided by the Center include, Support Groups —a safe, non-judgmental place for individuals to address the issues in their lives that may be barriers to self-sufficiency (i.e. abusive relationships, addiction problems, etc.); Case Management—which includes support for guests teaching guests how to budget and save money, pay rent, obtain and manage federal benefits; and Creative groups—which provide Merton guests with the opportunity to express themselves through writing and art. All of these worthwhile programs would not be possible without help from the Annual Bishop’s Appeal.

“We can’t even open the building and fund our operating costs without the help of the Bishop’s Appeal,” Mark Grasso informed us on our tour. “Our guests have increased a great deal since the recession, we are seeing twice as many people for the food pantry since the recession hit, and while those numbers have leveled off, they haven’t decreased at all. We used to serve 250 families through our food pantry and now we serve 530 families”.

We also learned from Mark that The Merton Center is a great place to put our faith in action. The Center is always looking for volunteers to help serve breakfast and lunch. They often need food pantry donations especially during the cold months of January, February and March when food supplies tend to run low after the Christmas holiday surge. The food pantry is moving locations within the building and they desperately need volunteers to work in the pantry organizing the food donations or helping guests choose their food while keeping their medical, dietary restrictions in mind and making healthy choices. To volunteer call The Merton Center at 203.367.9036.   

Our tour of The Thomas Merton Center was extremely moving and eye opening. We are grateful that The Merton Center exists and knowing that another winter storm is on the horizon, we are confident that the doors will open at 8:30 am tomorrow morning and people who have nowhere else to go will be welcomed in out of the cold, cared for, loved and fed by the staff and volunteers of The Merton Center.  We know that those doors will open in part thanks to the very generous donations made to the Annual Bishop’s Appeal and we are grateful for the many people who help sustain the wonderful works of the diocese including The Thomas Merton Center.  Please join us in praying for the staff, volunteers and especially the guests of The Merton Center as we work together in Building Bridges in Faith and Charity.

Bishop speaks of truth, love and civility
| March 05, 2014 • by Eve Sullivan, The Stamford Advocate
Posted in Local News


Bishop Frank Caggiano, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport,
gives his speech titled To Speak the Truth in Love: The Challenge
of Religious Discourse in a Pluralistic Society as part of the lecture
series Civility in America at the Ferguson Library in Stamford, Conn.,
on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Hearst Connecticut Media Group
is a sponsor of the lecture series.    Photo by Jason Rearick

Watch the Video

STAMFORD—Bishop Frank Caggiano brought a record crowd to the Ferguson Library on Tuesday for his talk on civility, which touched on the serious topics of truth, love and religion and included a little humor.

"To have such a large group—I being a Catholic bishop—you know there's going to be a collection. So get ready," Caggiano said, while taking the podium.

Audience members packed into the third-floor auditorium to hear Caggiano, who became the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport in September. His speech, "To Speak the Truth in Love: The Challenge of Religious Discourse in a Pluralistic Society," is part of an ongoing series on Civility in America at the downtown facility.

The bishop was introduced by Joseph Pisani, who said he "belongs to Connecticut now" and that he was struck by Caggiano's enthusiasm and depth of knowledge. Pisani is former editor of The Advocate and currently an associate at The Dilenschneider Group, which organizes the series, along with Sacred Heart University and Purdue Pharma, in conjunction with Hearst Connecticut Media and the library.

Caggiano said his goal is not to bring answers, but to bring questions and provoke dialogue about religion or any form of life. He also wanted to talk about discourse between churches and within the Catholic Church itself.

"To have real theological dialogue, there is much work to be done," he added.

Caggiano called the lack of religious discourse "deeply troubling," but said it wasn't always that way. At some point, public sentiment began to shift into what he referred to as "benign neglect."

"The place of religious discourse in our society has diminished greatly," he said.

Caggiano told people to "search for the truth," and there is nothing to fear from science, religion or the arts. He said speaking the truth is the formula for success in every aspect of life.

With everyone commenting on social media, he said, it's actually moving us further and further into the direction of truth.

"Truth is not something, it's someone—Jesus," he said. "He is love in the flesh, and therefore represents the truth."

Love demands that every person that speaks the truth also listens to others with an open heart, Caggiano said.

"Love requires patience, does it not?" he asked.

The bishop also said love demands a community that accepts diversity, does not give into fear and gives courage to live the truth.

"There's nothing to fear, because society is always enriched when you have more and more people speaking the truth in love," he said. "Please, God, let that day be upon us."

In the question-and-answer period, one man asked if society can survive, long-term, without some spiritual beliefs. Caggiano said his niece's friends always say they are "spiritual, not religious." He said people are comfortable "with me, not we."

"The individual without the community is impoverished at best," he said. "Religion has to remain, or I don't think society as a whole can prosper."

Caggiano, 54, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Italian immigrant parents. He attended Yale University, where he majored in political science.

In 1978, Caggiano entered Cathedral College in Douglaston, N.Y., where he obtained a bachelor's degree in philosophy, summa cum laude, in 1981. He worked at McGraw Hill Publishing Co. for 18 months, before studying at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, N.Y., earning a master's degree in divinity.

Prior to his speech, Caggiano said he had a "deep-seated sense" that he wanted to do something that had an ethereal difference, but he fought his vocation for a long time, thinking he wanted to have a family. He said he got a great job, traveled, and the desire grew, so he went back to the seminary.

In his closing remarks, Caggiano said, "The time for the mediocre Catholic has come to an end. If we're going to preach, we have to live it. Talk is cheap."


Listen to Bishop Caggiano’s talk at the Ferguson Library on
"Civility in Society" and "Contemporary Religious Discourse"

Bishop speaks of truth, love and Civility
| March 05, 2014 • by Connectict Post


Bishop Frank Caggiano gives his speech titled To Speak the Truth in Love: The Challenge of Religious Discourse in a Pluralistic Society as part of the lecture series Civility in America at the Ferguson Library in Stamford, Conn., on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Hearst Connecticut Media Group is a sponsor of the lecture series. Photo: Jason Rearick.  Click here for article by CT Post

A Lenten message from Pope Francis
| March 04, 2014 • by By Tony Magliano


“As Lent draws near, I would like to offer some helpful thoughts on our path of conversion as individuals and as a community.” Here in the first sentence of his Lenten message, Pope Francis gives us a needed reminder that we are called to walk on the “path of conversion.”

But conversion is not a once and for all done deal. It is a lifelong journey. We must remember that we are a work in progress. We need to keep in mind and heart the challenge put before us on Ash Wednesday: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”

As individuals, church and nation, we are called by God to turn away from all evil. Sins like pride, greed, lust, indifference, nationalism, consumerism, secularism, anger, abortion, violence and war must give way to the central Gospel virtue of love—love for all, including our enemies. And our love must have a preferential concern for the vulnerable and poor.

“Charity, love” writes the pope, “is sharing with the one we love in all things. Love makes us similar, it creates equality, it breaks down walls and eliminates distances. God did this with us.”

The Holy Father teaches that “The logic of the incarnation and the cross” is “God’s logic, the logic of love.”

The pope writes, “It is striking that the Apostle [Paul] states that we were set free, not by Christ’s riches but by his poverty. …

“What gives us true freedom, true salvation and true happiness is the compassion, tenderness and solidarity of his love. Christ’s poverty which enriches us is his taking flesh and bearing our weaknesses and sins as an expression of God’s infinite mercy to us.”

“In imitation of our Master,” writes Pope Francis, “we Christians are called to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it. Destitution is not the same as poverty: destitution is poverty without faith, without support, without hope.”

The pope teaches that there are three types of destitution. The first type is Material Destitution—normally called poverty—affects “those living in conditions opposed to human dignity.”

Pope Francis warns against making power, luxury and money our idols. He urges us not to let these idols take priority over the need to have everyone benefit from a fair distribution of wealth.

But sadly, fair distribution of wealth is not the case in the U.S. or throughout most of the world.

The pope challenges our consciences to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing.

“No less a concern is moral destitution, which consists in slavery to vice and sin,” adds the pope.

Finally, there is spiritual destitution which occurs when we turn away from God.

The Holy Father writes, “If we think we don’t need God who reaches out to us through Christ, because we believe we can make do on our own, we are headed for a fall. God alone can truly save and free us. …

“Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty,” writes Pope Francis.

“Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.”
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.

Fr. Anthony Ciorra to speak at CAPP breakfast
| March 03, 2014


FAIRFIELD—The sixth annual Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice (CAPP) Educators’ Communion Breakfast will take place at Sacred Heart University on Sunday, March 9.

This event is sponsored by CAPP and Sacred Heart University’s Isabelle Farrington College of Education. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will celebrate Mass at 9 am in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, followed by breakfast in University Commons. A tour of the chapel will be offered at 8:30 am.

The CAPP 2014 Educational Leadership Award will be presented to Frank J. Rice, Ph.D, professor emeritus of biology at Fairfield University.

Keynote speaker Fr. Anthony J. Ciorra, Sacred Heart’s assistant vice president for Mission and Catholic Identity will discuss “A Vision for Educators for the Twenty-First Century.” Prior to his appointment at Sacred Heart, Fr. Ciorra was dean of the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University, where he received his Ph.D. in theology, and professor of theology and director of the Center of Theological and Spiritual Development at the College 
of St. Elizabeth.

In acknowledgment of his ministry in the Church, he was awarded the pontifical honor Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice by Pope John Paul in 1999. The following year, he was given the Caritas Centennial Award and Spirit of Renew Award for his work in lay ministry and interreligious dialogue and ecumenism respectively.

He is now actively involved in the creation of interreligious programs and retreats among Jews, Christians and Muslims. His most recent book is Beauty: A Path to God (Paulist Press, 2013).

CAPP was founded at the Vatican in 1993 to encourage business people, academics and other professionals to study and promote Catholic social teaching. It is named for Pope John Paul’s encyclical of the same name that marked the 100th anniversary of the landmark papal document on social responsibility, Rerum Novarum (“Of New Things”), otherwise known as “Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor” an encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 addressing the condition of the working classes.

The Diocese of Bridgeport is one of three pioneering dioceses in the United States to establish a CAPP chapter.

Cost: $35/person; $300 table of 10. Spouses and friends welcome. To register or for more information, call Shelia Mosley: 203.396.8097.

Bishop Caggiano to speak on civility in religion
| March 03, 2014


STAMFORD—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will speak about civility in religious dialogue on Tuesday, March 4, at 6 pm at the Ferguson Library in Stamford.

His talk, “To Speak the Truth in Love: The Challenge of Religious Discourse in a Pluralistic Society,” is part of a series on Civility in America organized by Sacred Heart University, The Dilenschneider Group and Purdue Pharma LP in conjunction with Hearst Media Group in Connecticut and The Ferguson Library.

Bishop Caggiano is widely recognized as a teacher, having been selected twice to offer catechism instruction to young people at World Youth Days, in Madrid and Rio de Janeiro. Following World Youth Day, he traveled to Ireland where he had been selected by the Catholic Bishops to help lead the “Youth 2000” Summer Retreat.

As Dean of Formation for the Permanent Diaconate Program and the Censor Librorum of the Diocese of Brooklyn, he oversaw the spiritual and theological formation of the men who were preparing for ordination as permanent deacons. He also taught theology courses at Catholic universities, including the Staten Island campus of Saint John’s University and Saint Joseph’s College.

Public opinion polls show that in every sector of society, civility has declined, and this decline is manifested in political attacks, lack of personal decency, outrage in the media and cyber-assaults in the blogosphere.

Robert L. Dilenschneider, founder and president of The Dilenschneider Group, who conceived the idea for the series, said, “Incivility has become socially acceptable and commonplace. The lack of civility in every segment of society, from politics to academia, from the media to the blogosphere, from talk radio to the pulpit, has become a crippling epidemic that threatens the future of our country. Something must be done.”

For information about the series, call 203.964.1000, or register online at

Sr. Anne McCarthy recognized as “Outstanding Leader”
| March 03, 2014


BETHEL—On February 22, during St. Mary's annual Gala/Auction, Sister Anne McCarthy, St. Mary’s principal, was awarded the "Outstanding Leader in Education Award" by the Bethel Education Foundation.

Foundation board members Maureen Tyra and Joe Vitarelli presented the award. Its inscription reads: “This award is in recognition of her dedication and success in fostering exceptional student learning.”

The Foundation was established in 2008 with a mission "to promote innovation, creativity and excellence in learning for our children and the community."  It supports the pre-schools in Bethel, the Bethel public schools and Saint Mary’s. Each year the Foundation recognizes a teacher for educational excellence.

The Foundation board members felt that a special award needed to be given to Sister Anne because of her accomplishments over the years. In their presentation, Tyra and Viarelli recounted Sister Anne’s many accomplishments, first those specifically related to the nomination and recognition process and adding many of the personal touches she brings to her job. Sister Anne was speechless when presented with the award! (Yes, truly!)

St. Mary’s parishioners were pleased to see this exceptional woman be recognized by the community in which she has served with such dedication.

Pope says bishops should be evangelists and men of prayer, not CEOs
| February 28, 2014 • by By Francis X. Rocca, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis said bishops should act not like ambitious corporate executives, but humble evangelists and men of prayer, willing to sacrifice everything for their flocks.

"We don't need a manager, the CEO of a business, nor someone who shares our pettiness or low aspirations," the pope said February 27. "We need someone who knows how to rise to the height from which God sees us, in order to guide us to him."

Pope Francis' words came in a speech to the Congregation for Bishops, the Vatican body that advises him on the appointment of bishops around the world.

He stressed the importance of self-sacrifice in a bishop's ministry, which he described as a kind of martyrdom.

"The courage to die, the generosity to offer one's own life and exhaust one's self for the flock are inscribed in the episcopate's DNA," he said. "The episcopate is not for itself but for the church, for the flock, for others, above all for those whom the world considers only worth throwing away."

Pope Francis listed several desirable virtues in potential bishops, including a "capacity for healthy, balanced relationships," "upright behavior," "orthodoxy and fidelity" to church doctrine; and "transparency and detachment in administrating the goods of the community."

The pope laid special emphasis on a bishop's ability to evangelize and pray.

In preaching the Gospel, bishops should be appealing rather than censorious, upholding church teaching "not in order to measure how far the world falls short of the truth it contains, but to fascinate the world, enchant it with the beauty of love, seduce it by offering the freedom of the Gospel."

"The church doesn't need apologists for their own causes, nor crusaders for their own battles, but humble sowers who trust in the truth ... bishops who know that even when night falls and the day's toil leaves them tired, the seeds in the field will be sprouting."

As models of prayer for bishops, Pope Francis cited Abraham and Moses, who argued with God to dissuade him from destroying their sinful people.

"A man who lacks the courage to argue with God on behalf of his people cannot be a bishop," the pope said.

Quoting from an address he gave to Vatican diplomats last June, Pope Francis said bishops should be "meek, patient and merciful," embracing both spiritual and material poverty, and renouncing any ambition for appointment to more important dioceses.

The pope voiced anew his concern about bishops, "in this time of meetings and conventions," traveling too much to fulfill their pastoral duties at home. He suggested the congregation study the latter-day relevance of a decree by the 16th-century Council of Trent requiring bishops to live in their dioceses.

Pope Francis also stressed that bishops should be suited to the particular local needs of their dioceses.

"There is no standard pastor for all the churches," the pope said. "Christ knows the singularity of the pastor every church requires, able respond to its needs and help it realize its potential."

"Where can we find such men? It is not easy. Do they exist? How can we choose them?" Pope Francis asked in closing. "I am sure they exist, because the Lord does not abandon his church. Maybe it is we who do not spend long enough in the fields looking for them."

Students Bring History to Life
| February 27, 2014 • by By: Kwegyirba Croffie


NORWALK—All Saints Catholic School Celebrates Black History Month.

"I am Maya Angelou.”

"I am Muhammad Ali.”

"I am Martin Luther King Jr."

Third graders at All Saints Catholic School brought history to life during the Black History Month Celebration Wednesday morning, culminating a month-long study of important African-Americans in history.

Third grade teacher Elizabeth Williams said, "All month we have been learning about black historical figures. I gave the kids a specific black figure to look up and they had to do book report on him or her. Then we decided to do a wax museum and they had to bring their historian to life."

From Zora Neale Hurston to George Washington Carver, students spoke about their historians role in history.

Natalia protrayed First Lady Michelle Obama. "My goal is to overcome childhood obesity.”

Andres portrayed Garrett Morgan, who invented the gas mask. "I'm an inventor. I created the most important invention in 1912. It's called the safety hood."

"I founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association dedicated to providing African Americans resettlement in Africa," said Gian, who potrayed Marcus Garvey.

Teachers at All Saints say it's important for students to learn about black history at a young age.

"My thing is to get them involved in black history at an early age so that when they go into high school and they talk about a black historian, they won't say "Who is that?"", said Williams.

Alisha brought Ella Fitzgerald to life on stage. "It was good because I like how she was a singer and I really like singing."

"I liked learning about his baseball career," said James who portrayed Jackie Robinson.

St. Matthew Knights aim to knock out homelessness with Boxing Fundraiser
| February 27, 2014
Posted in Local News


NORWALK—Knights of Columbus #14360 St. Matthew Council in Norwalk aimed to fight homelessness by raising $350 on Saturday, February 22 at Title Boxing, 250 Westport Avenue in Norwalk.

All proceeds were raised for “Homes for the Brave” group in Bridgeport.

Title Boxing introduced those who signed up to a whole new way of working out. No treadmills or elliptical machines, but rather a rigorous, calorie-burning session known as a “power hour”. One sixty minute session can burn almost 1,000 calories. The workout was done by participants of all ages.

“Homes for the Brave" has provided safe housing, vocational training and job placement, mental health and addiction services, and life skills coaching to help individuals, especially Veterans, leave homelessness behind,” says Eric Van de Bovencamp from Title Boxing. “We were happy to help out.”

To date, the organization has worked with more than 800 individuals. “We are so happy to help this great organization and I want to thank Title Boxing of Norwalk for helping us with this great event,” said George Ribellino, Grand Knight of St. Matthew Knights of Columbus Council 14360. 

Notre Dame Girls Varsity Ice Hockey
| February 26, 2014
Posted in Local News


FAIRFIELD—Girls Varsity Ice Hockey today at 4PM vs. Branford in the SCC D2 Championship game. Get to the Bennett Rink in West Haven and support the girls in their quest for Notre Dame’s first championship in Girls Ice Hockey! LET'S GO LADY LANCERS!

Teens bear witness to the hungry
| February 23, 2014


NORWALK—When Bishop Caggiano rounded the corner to greet the teens who had fasted for more than a day to make people more aware of hunger in the world, he was met by a loud cheer of appreciation for his support.

That same joy and excitement was shared at the Mass that followed at St. Philip Church in Norwalk where more than 1,000 worshippers gathered to celebrate the yearly “30 Hour Famine” observance in an act of solidarity with the homeless and hungry.

Along with prayerful fasting the young people raised more than $36,000 to feed the poor in ten countries served by World Vision.

The teens’ fast began on Saturday morning when they walked from the Norwalk Green to St. Philip for a prayer service and other activities. They were wearing their bright red “Tell Everyone” t-shirts to make people aware that 870 million people around the globe are hungry, and that an estimated 19,000 children die of hunger every day.

In his homily Bishop Caggiano said that while hunger around the world is often a result of human conflict and corruption and the indifference of the wealthy, but that “we can put hunger to rest once and for all not simply by the money raised but when the Holy Spirit is alive in our hearts.”

“We’re going to have to do it with God and through the power of love. Only by opening our heart and mind to the Holy Spirit will that day come,” the bishop said.

The bishop drew laughter when he began his homily by noting “that the only thing that stands between 165 kids and breakfast is me, and that’s a dangerous position.” But he told them that breakfast was on the way and that the Eucharist would nourish their spirit.

“When we receive communion, Christ is feeding your hunger and mine,” said the Bishop who praised the teens for the “prophetic and courageous witness they have given and for their faith that we can change the world for the better.”

Reflecting on the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus tells us “to love our enemies,” Bishop Caggiano said that the young people who participated in the fast were an example of “loving until it hurts, and that means even loving those who are part of the problem, so that they may become part of the solution.”

In a moving ceremony at the end of Mass, the young people held up large black and white photos of hungry people from around the world, while the choir sang “The Least of these,” a song that asked those present to reach out to all those who are hungry both physically and spiritually.

To make a donation, send a check payable to either “World Vision” or “Manna House” addressed to “Famine” at St. Philip Church, Fr. Conlon Place, Norwalk CT 06851. More information can be found at

View the slideshow!

2014 Synod
| February 22, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has called all Catholics in the diocese to prepare for the upcoming Synod, "Building a Bridge to the Future Together."

Please read the Pastoral Letter announcing The Fourth Synod of the Diocese of Bridgeport and the formal Decree of Convocation.

Decree of the Convocation of the Fourth Synod for the Diocese of Bridgeport

Pastoral Letter Announcing the Fourth Synod of the Diocese of Bridgeport

Newly formed Holy Spirit Parish Men’s Group
| February 21, 2014


STAMFORD—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano spoke recently to the members of the newly formed Holy Spirit Parish Men’s Group. Among those in attendance for the bishop’s visit were (l-r) Holy Spirit Deacon Paul Jennings; Msgr. Kevin Royal, the newly appointed pastor of Holy Spirit; Bishop Caggiano; and 47-year-parishioner and member of the Men’s Group Carmine J. Vaccaro.

For more information please contact, Carmine Vaccaro at 203.322.9238.

Fr. Ian Jeremiah to lead clergy and religious
| February 21, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Fr. Ian Jeremiah has been named vicar of clergy and director of the Office of Clergy and Religious of the Diocese of Bridgeport. The appointment, made by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, will be effective May 1, 2014.

The Office of Clergy and Religious serves the more than 300 active and retired priests and deacons of the Diocese of Bridgeport as well as 350 religious.

Fr. Jeremiah’s responsibilities include overseeing clergy personnel issues including the assignment of all clergy, continuing education and formation, and support services for the personal well being of active and retired priests and deacons.

“Fr. Jeremiah is known to his brother priests as a man of integrity and deep spirituality. He will serve as a great source of support for all of our priests including the newly ordained, our pastors and priest retirees.

He succeeds Msgr. Kevin Royal who has held the post since 2006, when he was named director of Clergy and Religious by Bishop William E. Lori. In January of this year, Msgr. Royal was named pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in Stamford after serving as administrator since 2012.

A native of Malaysia, Fr. Jeremiah, 50, comes to the Catholic Center from St. Aloysius Parish, New Canaan, where he has served as parochial vicar since June 2008.

Fr. Jeremiah first came to the U.S. in 1989, working as an accountant at Daytop, Inc., a not-for-profit organization in New York City, while pursuing an M.B.A. from Columbia University. He also graduated with a degree in Accounting from The National University of Malaysia.

He was living in Stamford and attending Mass at his home parish of Saint Maurice when he saw a pamphlet on vocations published by the Knights of Columbus. He subsequently entered the Saint John Fisher Seminary Residence, Stamford, in 2002. He completed his seminary studies at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD. He was ordained by Bishop Lori at St. Augustine Cathedral on May 17, 2008. 

As a deacon, he held summer assignments at St. Mary Parish in Ridgefield; St. Joseph Parish in Shelton; St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown; and St. Joseph Parish in Danbury. 

“To me, the word ‘priest’ is not just a noun; it’s a verb—a call to action. By the grace of God, I want to be that instrument of God who loves and can bring the love of Christ to others,” said Fr. Jeremiah in an earlier interview with Fairfield County Catholic. “As a priest, I hope to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to the many people who are in search of God, in search of hope, in need of encouragement, direction, truth, and love, and to share this message with them.”

The Office for Clergy and Religious is located at the Catholic Center, 238 Jewett Avenue in Bridgeport. For further information call: 203.416.1453.

My brief experience as a homeless man
| February 20, 2014 • by By Tony Magliano


For quite some time I have had an interest in the plight of the homeless. I have read about it, prayed over it, and have done small things to help.

But  feeling that I could, and should, do more to make a difference, I concluded that living as a homeless man—at least for a very brief period—was the best way to understand what it’s like to have no place to call home.

I decided that St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, on the fringe of downtown Baltimore, would be my first stop.

Since the parish opens its basement to homeless people every Friday for a hot meal, and allows them to stay in the small park adjacent to the church, St. Vincent’s was symbolically a very good place to start my day as a homeless man.

After praying before the Blessed Sacrament, I hit the sub-freezing streets with no money.

After walking several blocks I reached Our Daily Bread Employment Center—a comprehensive facility run by Catholic Charities dedicated to supporting efforts of homeless people to secure stable employment and housing.

There I got into a line of men, women and children waiting to be admitted into the dining room where a free hot meal is served every day.

Once inside, I sat at a table with a young man who said he was trying to recover from drug addiction and was homeless as a result.

From there I walked to Health Care for the Homeless—an organization dedicated to providing free medical care to people who have no permanent residence, and would otherwise go untreated. Inside were approximately 75 homeless women and men waiting to be seen by a nurse. There I spoke with an older man who had serious family problems that caused his homelessness.

Next, I stopped at a hotel and fast food restaurant asking if they were hiring. They were not.

From there I walked the streets of downtown Baltimore asking people—like some homeless persons do—for a little loose change to buy a cup of coffee.

I politely approached approximately 35 people. About 30 of them ignored me, said they didn’t have any money, or simply said no. And I almost got arrested for approaching a police officer who sternly warned me that “panhandling” was a crime in Baltimore.

But five people did offer me a small donation. I explained what I was doing, and thankfully declined their generosity.

Asking strangers for a small favor was a humbling experience.

Next stop was the Helping Up Mission—a multiservice nondenominational shelter where 53 homeless men can get a shower, laundry done, needed clothes, a clean bed, and a good supper and breakfast. But unfortunately, there was not enough room for everyone who came that cold evening.

At the Mission, I talked with men of various ages who were down on their luck, had supper with them, and attended an inspiring Protestant chapel service.

Later that night, as I walked back to my vehicle, I realized that I was a richer person for having lived one day as a homeless man.

I thought about the homeless men and women I encountered, and their monumental problems.

And I more clearly understood God’s call to each of us, our church and our government, to work for the day when every human being has a decent place to call home.    

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.

St. Catherine’s Players presents BARNUM!
| February 19, 2014


RIVERSIDE—"Barnum's the name. P.T. Barnum. And I want to tell you that tonight you are going to see-bar none-every sight, wonder and miracle that name stands for!"

Here is the show that traces the career of America's greatest showman from 1835 to the year he joined James A. Bailey to form The Greatest Show on Earth.

Join us for St. Catherine’s Players 2014 production of BARNUM with music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Michael Stewart and book by Mark Bramble, which won Tony Awards for Best Actor, Scenic Designer and Costume Design, the Drama Desk Award for Best Actor, and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Broadway Musical. BARNUM played for 854 performances on Broadway at the St. James Theatre and starred Jim Dale and Glenn Close.

The circus is coming to Greenwich! Come one, come all to see the strongmen, a Swedish soprano, the oldest woman alive and the smallest man in the world. Come be amazed by jugglers, tumblers, stilt-walkers and clowns. Get your popcorn, peanuts and animal crackers!

Tony Morello (Greenwich) as PT Barnum and Rebecca Cooper (Greenwich) as Chairy Barnum lead the cast of all ages including Joe Guttadauro (Norwalk) as the Ringmaster, Karen Morello (Stamford) as Joyce Heth, Christina Kompar (Hastings-on-Hudson, NY) as Jenny Lind, Greg Suss (Old Greenwich) as Julius Goldschmidt, Marissa Caro (Greenwich) as the Blues Singer, and Stephen Hohl (Greenwich) as Tom Thumb. Stuart Adelberg, director, has led St. Catherine’s Players for more than twenty years, and Rita Lapcevic, musical director, has been with the Players for more than ten years.

Performances are held at St. Catherine of Siena Lucey Parish Hall, 4 Riverside Avenue, Riverside CT, on Friday, February 28th at 8:00 pm; Saturday, March 1st at 7:30 pm; Sunday, March 2nd at 2:00 pm; Friday, March 7th at 8:00 pm; Saturday, March 8th at 7:30 pm and Sunday, March 9th at 2:00 pm. For theatergoers at the February 28th performance, enjoy the complimentary opening night reception to meet and greet the cast, crew and production staff of BARNUM.

Tickets may be purchased on line at, in person by visiting St. Catherine of Siena’s rectory office, or by calling 203-637-3661 x327 and leaving your name, telephone number, email address, preferred performance date and number of tickets desired. Tickets purchased up to the Thursday before each performance weekend are $20 each, tickets purchased at the door without advance reservations are $21 each. Cash, check or credit cards are accepted. The box office opens 75 minutes prior to each performance. For further ticket information, contact Cindy Busani at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 203-637-3661 x327.

Volunteers are needed for tech crew, set building/decoration and costumes. Please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with your interest and expertise. For further information about St. Catherine’s Players and BARNUM, please visit

Building Bridges in Faith and Charity
| February 19, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Please watch the new 2014 Annual Bishop's Appeal video as Bishop Frank J. Caggiano offers a heart-felt, spiritual tour of the diocese and the healing work supported by the Annual Appeal.

Visit the Appeal website >>

Read an article on the Appeal

Annual Appeal provides shelter from the storm
| February 19, 2014
Posted in Annual Bishop's Appeal


NORWALK—Many people endure the storms of poverty, homelessness and mental illness alone amidst the affluence of Fairfield County, said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at the a special Mass to celebrate the launch of the 2014 Bishop’s Appeal.

Click here to watch the slideshow!

Speaking to more than 350 faithful at St. Matthew Parish in Norwalk, the Bishop thanked donors for their generosity in support of the mission of the church.

Surrounded on the altar by 50 priests from parishes throughout Fairfield County, the Bishop reflected on the account of Jesus calming the storm in the Gospel of Mark.

“I was never surprised that he calmed the storm. What surprised me is that he was able to sleep through it,” said the Bishop, drawing a laugh when he said he had a hard time sleeping in Trumbull because it was so quiet compared to Brooklyn.

The Bishop said that we all face storms of loss and even despair in our lives, and the parable gives us an answer about how to face them.

“Perhaps he slept in the boat because he had faith in his disciples and in us. He has faith that we will follow him every step of the way and cross to the other side with him.”

He said the poor and needy of Fairfield County are waiting for us to help calm the storm that besets them.

“As part of working to get to the other side, we must build a bridge for our brothers and sisters. If the Lord has faith in us, who are we to doubt that we can get this done,” he said.

During the homily he took time to praise diocesan ministries and services including schools, Catholic Charities.

At the end of Mass the Bishop introduced Cece and Mike Donoghue of Darien who are serving as this year’s Chair Couple. Cece read the First Reading, and Mike led the Prayer of the Faithful. They are parishioners of St. John Parish.

“We ask for your blessings on our parishioners and donors who give freely from their hearts and respond to God’s call of caring for the neighbor,” the Bishop said in leading the annual appeal prayer.

A reception followed the Mass in the Masterpool Great Room of St. Matthew Parish. Display tables were set up with information about diocesan ministries.

“Building Bridges in faith and charity” is the theme of this year’s appeal, which supports a wide range of programs including Catholic Charities, diocesan schools, care of retired priests, religious education, St. John Fisher Seminary and clergy ministries. To make a gift online, go to

Msgr. Dariusz Zielonka named Synod director
| February 18, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Msgr. Dariusz J. Zielonka, J.C.D., has been named Director of the 2014 Diocesan Synod by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.

The diocesan conclave, now in its preparatory phase, will be officially launched on Saturday, May 3, with a Vespers Service to pray for the success of the Synod at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.

The bishop first announced the Synod in January 2014, “so that all God’s people in Fairfield County can seek the Lord’s grace to foster the long-term spiritual and pastoral renewal of our Diocese.”

The opening session of the Synod and all of its delegates is set for Friday, September 19, 2014, while the closing session is scheduled for Saturday, September 19, 2015.

“Msgr. Dariusz brings a deep faith, the skills of a canon lawyer and liturgist, and the experience of having served as Priest Secretary to the Bishop to this important post as Synod director,” said Bishop Caggiano.

“His organizational skills, interest in new media and knowledge of the diocese will help to orchestrate the Synod, which will gather the diocesan family to work together to meet the challenges we face in our own time,” the bishop said.

In the coming months, Msgr. Dariusz will coordinate establishment of the Synod Commission and the development of a consultation period regarding pastoral topics to be addressed.

His role as Synod director is to assist the Synod with the coordination of all activities, communications, including the transmission and archiving of documentation, and direction of logistical matters.

The Synod is expected to involve the participation of hundreds of Catholics throughout the diocese as delegates and sub-committee members to chart the future of the diocese. The bishop has said that the Synod will draw “leaders on every level of the Church’s life to work together in a true spirit of dialogue and collaboration. Clergy, religious and laity must discern together the pressing issues that we face through prayer and study, seek to understand what each of these challenges mean, identify creative ways by which we can address them and seek the courage to do what the Lord will ask of us.”

Msgr. Dariusz, served as priest secretary to Bishop William E. Lori and vice chancellor of the diocese from 2002 to 2009. In 2008, he was named Chaplain to His Holiness with the title of Monsignor, receiving Papal Honors from Pope Benedict XVI.

In March 2013, he was appointed to the Diocesan Tribunal after completing his graduate studies at Catholic University of America, where he earned a doctorate in canon law.

Msgr. Dariusz, 45, was born in Piotrków Trybunalski, Poland. He entered the archdiocesan seminary in Lódz, Poland, and completed his theological studies at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, PA.

He was ordained in St. Augustine Cathedral in 1995. Msgr. Dariusz served as parochial vicar at St. James Parish in Stratford and St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan prior to becoming priest secretary. He is also a member of the Diocesan College of Consultors.

In addition to reports in Fairfield County Catholic, Synod documents will be available online at

(For further information on The Fourth Diocesan Synod, contact: 203.416.1631 or email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

Pope to engaged couples: After 'I do,' comes 'may I, thank you, sorry'
| February 16, 2014 • by By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Greeting thousands of engaged couples on the feast of St. Valentine, Pope Francis told them not to be afraid of building a permanent and loving relationship in a culture where everything is disposable and fleeting.

The secrets to a loving and lasting union, he said, include treating each other with respect, kindness and gratitude, and never letting daily struggles and squabbles sabotage making peace and saying, "I'm sorry."

"The perfect family doesn't exist, nor is there a perfect husband or a perfect wife, and let's not talk about the perfect mother-in-law!" he said to laughter and applause.

"It's just us sinners," he said. But "if we learn to say we're sorry and ask forgiveness, the marriage will last."

After a week of heavy rains, bright sunshine warmed St. Peter's Square and the 30,000 people who gathered for an audience Feb. 14 dedicated to couples completing their marriage preparation courses and planning to be married in the church this year.

The initiative, "The Joy of 'Yes' Forever," was organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family. The council president, Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, is a former bishop of Terni and successor to St. Valentine -- the third-century martyred bishop of Terni.

The archbishop told the pope that the young couples in the square were evidence of how many people do want to "go against the tide" by having a love that lasts forever and is blessed by God.

Engaged couples attending the audience received a small white pillow with Pope Francis' signature and his papal crest; the cushion has two satin ribbons for securing wedding rings during the marriage ceremony.

Three of the couples shared with the pope their thoughts and concerns about living a Christian marriage and asked for his advice.

While the pope confessed he had the questions in advance and wrote out his answers, that didn't stop him from straying from the text to give further emphasis and examples.

"Living together is an art, a patient, beautiful and amazing journey" that "doesn't end when you've won over each others' hearts," he said. Rather "that's exactly when it begins!"

A healthy family life, he said, absolutely requires frequent use of three phrases: "May I? Thank you, and I'm sorry."

People need to be more attentive to how they treat each other, he said. They must trade in their heavy "mountain boots" for greater delicacy when walking into someone else's life.

Love isn't tough or aggressive, he said, it's courteous and kind, and in a world that is "often violent and aggressive, we need much more courtesy."

Couples also need the strength to recognize when they've done wrong and ask forgiveness. The "instinct" to accuse someone else "is at the heart of so many disasters," starting with Adam, who ate the forbidden fruit. When God asked him if he did it, the pope said, Adam immediately passes the blame saying, "'Uh, no, it was that one over there who gave it to me!' Accusing the other to get out of saying 'I'm sorry' and 'Pardon me.'"

Obviously, couples will make mistakes and fight, but "never, never, never end the day without making peace," the pope said.

An eloquent speech isn't necessary, he said, but things must be set right because if they aren't, the bad feelings inside will become "cold and hard and it will be more difficult to make peace" as time goes on.

Many people can't imagine or are afraid of a love and marriage that lasts forever because they think love is an emotional-physical feeling or state-of-being, he said. But "love is a relationship, it's something that grows."

The relationship needs to be taken care of every day, "entrusting yourselves to the Lord Jesus in a life that becomes a daily spiritual journey, made step by step, tiny steps" toward greater maturity and spiritual growth, he said.

Like his miracle of multiplying the loaves, Jesus will do the same "also for you," he said, "multiplying your love and giving it to you good and fresh every day."

The pope also urged couples to keep their wedding ceremonies low-key, focusing more on Christ than on the dress, decorations and photographers.

A Christian marriage is a celebration, but it must highlight "what's really important," and "the true reason for your joy: the blessing of your love by the Lord."

Manuela Franchini, 29, and Armando Perasole, 30, who are getting married Dec. 12, attended the event. They moved from Naples to Milan for work, and told Catholic News Service that economic and political problems in Italy make it "really hard for families. But with the church there is more hope in being able to make it."

Robert Duncan, who is a multimedia journalist at the Catholic News Service Rome bureau, and his fiancee, Constance Daggett, were one of the handful of couples chosen to speak about their journeys of faith and love, and to meet the pope.

The two 25-year-olds became Catholics as adults and Duncan said, "The fact that we're able to begin our marriage in the presence of the pope is a culmination of a process that has been the story of our love."

Giovanna, an Italian woman at the event with her fiance, said they find inspiration and a model for a happy marriage in two friends of theirs who have been married for many years.

"They look at each other with the same kind of love they had the day they first met," she said.

Watch Pope Francis bless engaged couples

Going to Mass should be a life-changing event, pope says at audience
| February 13, 2014 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Going to Mass and receiving the Eucharist should make a difference in the way Catholics live, Pope Francis said; they should be more accepting of others and more aware of their sinfulness.

"If we don't feel in need of God's mercy and don't think we are sinners, it's better not to go to Mass," Pope Francis said Feb. 12 at his weekly general audience. The Eucharist is a celebration of Christ's gift of himself for the salvation of sinners, which is why the Mass begins with people confessing they are sinners and begging for the Lord's mercy.

Continuing a series of audience talks about the sacraments, the pope asked people to think about how they approach the Mass and what difference it makes in their lives and the lives of their parishes.

Do you go to Mass because it's a habit or a time to see your friends? the pope asked. "Or is it something more?"

"When we go to Mass, we find ourselves with all sorts of people," the pope said. "Does the Eucharist we celebrate lead me to consider all of them as brothers and sisters? Does it increase my ability to rejoice when they do and to weep with those who weep?"

Pope Francis kisses a child as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Feb. 12. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis said it is not enough to say one loves Jesus; it must be shown in love for those he loved.

Ask yourself, he said, if going to Mass helps you reach out to the suffering or "am I indifferent, or am I gossiping, 'Did you see how that one's dressed?' Sometimes people do that after Mass. But this shouldn't happen."

Attendance at Mass also should lead to "the grace of feeling forgiven and able to forgive others," he said.

Pope Francis said he knows that some people wonder why they should bother going to church when the church is filled with people who sin like everyone else.

"In reality, those who participate in the Mass don't do so because they think or want to believe they are superior to others, but precisely because they know they are in need" of God's mercy, he said.

"We go to Mass because we know we are sinners and want Jesus' forgiveness," the pope said. "When, at the beginning of Mass, we say, 'I confess,' it's not something pro forma. It's a real act of penance."

In the Eucharist, Jesus truly gives us his body and blood for the remission of sins, he said.

Celebrating the Eucharist also should make a difference in the way a parish community lives, he said. At Mass, Christ gathers people around him "to nourish us with his word and his life. This means that the mission and identity of the church begin and take form there."

"A celebration could be perfect from an aesthetic point of view -- it can be beautiful -- but if it does not lead us to an encounter with Jesus Christ, it risks not giving any nourishment to our hearts and lives," the pope said. There must be "coherence between our Eucharist and our lives."

Watch a clip of Pope Francis holding his general audience in St. Peter's Square February 12.

- - -

The text of the pope's audience remarks in English is available online at

The text of the pope's audience remarks in Spanish is available online at

Diocese issues financials on Faith in the Future
| February 10, 2014
Posted in Local News


BRIDGEPORT—The Diocese of Bridgeport has released Financial Statements and Commentary on the Current Funds Status of the “Faith in the Future Fund, Inc.” as the final part of its overall “Stewardship Report” issued in December 2012.

The “Faith in the Future Fund” was formed in the spring of 1996, after Bishop Edward M. Egan authorized a capital campaign to provide a source of endowed support for various ministries in the diocese. It was established as a not-for-profit corporation that would receive, invest, manage and disburse funds raised by the 1996 Faith in the Future Endowment Campaign of the diocese.

The major goal of the campaign was to set up endowment support for the five diocesan high schools, catholic elementary schools, vocations and seminary education, religious education in parishes, and the priest retirement home.

Although the overall campaign was successful in reaching the $30 million goal in pledges, expenses associated with the fundraising campaign, along with uncollectible pledges and donor gifts that were designated for purposes other than the stated endowment goals, resulted in an endowment shortfall.  

“The final endowment reached approximately 90 percent of the original goal, and therefore, the reduced pooled funds were allocated in relation to the originally stated campaign goals,” said Teresa Nunes, Finance Director of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Investment losses experienced in fiscal year 2009 reduced the fair value of endowment investments below the original amount of endowment contributions. As a result, in accordance with the Faith in the Future distribution policy, no distributions have occurred from common donor endowments and one individual donor endowment since 2008.  Although investments slowly increased in value since 2009, the majority of the principal endowment balances did not return to their original amount until June 2012.  

Total investments at June 30, 2012 totaled approximately $16.7 million, with another $4.9 million owed to Faith in the Future Fund, Inc. from the diocese. Advances from Faith in the Future Fund, Inc. were made to the diocese in 2011 to support employee benefit insurance programs that a number of schools were unable to fund. An additional $2 million was advanced during fiscal 2013, but $5 million was repaid in August of 2013, bringing the balance due to $1.9 million. It is believed that this amount will be paid in full by fiscal 2015.

“Although the endowment campaign fell short of its goal and has experienced investment result challenges over the years, the overall objectives continue to be met. It is the hope that in the coming years, disbursements will grow and be able to serve future generations in a way that was envisioned by Bishop Egan in 1995,” Nunes said. 

Pope: Sacrifice key to reaping wealth of God's love, fighting misery
| February 09, 2014 • by By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Courageously follow Jesus in seeking out the poor and sinners, and in making difficult sacrifices in order to help and heal others, Pope Francis said.

Christians are called to confront the material, spiritual and moral destitution of "our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it," the pope said in his first message for Lent, which begins March 5 for Latin-rite Catholics. Saving the world will not come about "with the right kind of human resources" and token alms, but only "through the poverty of Christ," who emptied himself of the worldly and made the world rich with God's love and mercy, he said.

Released by the Vatican February 4, the text of the pope's message focused on the theme of Christ's poverty, with the title: "He became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich," which is from a verse from St. Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians.

Pope Francis said he chose the passage to explore what St. Paul's references to poverty and charity mean for Christians today.

There are many forms of poverty, he said, like the material destitution that disfigures the face of humanity and the moral destitution of being a slave to vice and sin.

But "there is only one real kind of poverty: not living as children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ," he said.

People experiencing the spiritual destitution of believing they don't need God and can make it on their own "are headed for a fall," the pope wrote. "God alone can truly save and free us."

"The Gospel is the real antidote to spiritual destitution," he said, and the greatest treasure of all is "boundless confidence in God" and the desire to always do his will.

All Christians are called "to proclaim the liberating news that forgiveness for sins committed is possible, that God is greater than our sinfulness, that he freely loves us at all times and that we were made for communion and eternal life."

Spreading the joy of the Gospel, consoling broken hearts and offering real hope means "following and imitating Jesus, who sought out the poor and sinners," and by opening up "new paths of evangelization and human promotion" with courage, he said.

Imitating Christ also includes confronting the abuses, discrimination and violations against human dignity, which often cause the material poverty suffered by those who lack the basic rights to food, water, work, development and "equal access to education and healthcare," he said.

Sometimes the unjust social conditions that rob people of their dignity lead to moral destitution -- a kind of "impending suicide," he said.

Think of how much pain is caused by people, especially the young, when they turn to alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography or other vices because they "no longer see meaning in life or prospects for the future," he said. "How many have lost hope!"

"By loving and serving the poor, we love and serve Christ," he said, but such service also entails conversion.

"When power, luxury and money become idols, they take priority over the need for a fair distribution of wealth. Our consciences thus need to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing," he said.

While Lent is a time for "self-denial," don't forget that real sacrifice and poverty have a "dimension of penance" and pain, he said.

"I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt," he said.

"God did not let our salvation drop down from heaven, like someone who gives alms from their abundance out of a sense of altruism and piety," the pope said.

God operates according to "the logic of love, the logic of incarnation and the cross"—to be with those who need him most, "to take upon himself the burden of our sins" and to comfort, save and free people from their misery.

"What gives true freedom, true salvation and true happiness is the compassion, tenderness and solidarity of his love, Christ's poverty, which enriches us," he said.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the office which handles the pope's charitable giving, presented the Lenten message at a Vatican news conference.

The cardinal said the pope's message reminds people that their "bourgeois consciences" cannot be put to rest merely by "denouncing the lack of resources for others" or denouncing the structural underpinnings of poverty.

The only way to truly help people is to care for all their needs—spiritual, material and moral—the cardinal said, and not "pretend to solve a person's problems just because one has solved the problems related to his physical and material wellbeing."

"I think the Holy Father does well to insist on these three types of poverty and destitution," the cardinal said.

"There's the destitution of material poverty that's easier to solve because it takes a bit of money and one can find ways to resolve this problem. But it's much more difficult to (address) moral and spiritual destitution," which is why Cor Unum and the church put added emphasis on that area.

The church urges people to choose the poverty of Christ in order to fight the misery and destitution in the world—not for ideological reasons, the cardinal said, "but for the love of Christ."

Souper Bowl of Caring
| February 05, 2014


FEED THE NEED--Standing in front of the pod( left to right) Margie Wething, Erin Scheller, Julia Eustace, Bishop Caggiano, Lara Linsenmeyer, and Daniel McAleese

FAIRFIELD—Last weekend was a super Sunday in more ways than one with the “Souper Bowl of Caring” held at Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Fairfield.

The “Pack the Pod Food Drive” linked up with other drives held annually across the nation on the weekend of Super Bowl Sunday. A program where groups collect non-perishable food and monetary donations on behalf of food banks and other organizations that help feed those in need.

“At Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Fairfield, we like to take it up a notch,” says Lara Linsenmeyer, who coordinated the event.  “Years ago we used a Partridge Family Van to encourage the community at large to fill the van with cans, which we did and then some.  This year's idea for using a moving pod as another fun attraction to motivate parishioners and the community.”

Linsenmeyer said the idea of using a pod was on her mind for some time and she thought it might just draw enough interest to help fill up the empty shelves of local food banks. It was a tall order because the pod was 18' x 7'.

“We collected a huge amount food on behalf of St Stephen's Food Pantry at Merton Center in Bridgeport and Operation Hope Food Pantry in Fairfield. Their needs are great as the demand for assistance grows, serving triple the amount of people they typically do,” she said.

A surprise visit by Bishop Frank Caggiano also cheered organizers and volunteers including young people who are preparing for Confirmation.

“The confirmation students who stood outside collecting food from donors, sorting them into boxes and packing them into the pod felt honored that the Bishop took the time to come see their work in progress,” she said.

Linsenmeyer  said it was a great food drive and the confirmation students and adults learned that there is always more that can be done to help our bothers and sisters in need.  

“It takes a community to band together and chip away at it day in and day out as our food pantry representatives know all too well when they show up to work everyday,” she said. 

Bishop asks kids to bring their joy and spirit to Church
| February 02, 2014


NEW CANAAN—The Bishop walked into a standing ovation by 350 teens who had set aside a Saturday afternoon to meet him and share their thoughts and feelings about the Church at St. Aloysius Parish.

The afternoon of prayer, adoration and dialogue, held in the gym of St. Aloysius School, was sponsored by the Pastoral Services ministry of the Diocese of Bridgeport and drew teens from many parishes across the diocese.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano asked the kids what they liked about the Church, what they didn’t like, and also left them with a homework assignment: to tell him what they would change about the Church the next time the next time they meet with him

Conducting the afternoon in “town meeting” style, the Bishop fielded questions about gay marriage, the new liturgy, the definition of love-- and why older people don’t slide further back in the pews to make room for people who come in after them.

With microphone in hand the Bishop worked the center aisles and handed it off to the young people so everyone could hear their questions.

They told him that the Church was a refuge from a lot of what is bad in the world, but it also took courage to go because so many others had no use for religion or prayer.

They worried about the growing number of young people who don’t go to Church and what it means for the future of the faith.

“I have no intention to see our Church keep declining in numbers,” the Bishop reassured the kids. “To be a disciple of Jesus is meant to be joyful. We will do this together.”

The teens were surprised to learn that Bishop Caggiano resisted his own vocation for years, even though he had always thought of being a priest.

“I wanted to be a lawyer and then I thought it would be nice to be mayor of New York… Mayor Caggiano,” he said as the kids laughed, “That sounds good to me.”

“I had many goals and things I thought I should do,” but they didn’t make him happy. “Then I came to the realization that God loved me more than I could ever love myself.”

“Is it true you dropped out of Yale?” one boy asked.

The Bishop answered that he broke his father’s heart the year he left Yale to finally enter the seminary.

“My father was a longshoreman with a third grade education and he thought I ruined my life,” the Bishop said, adding that his father also wept with joy on the day of his ordination because he knew how happy his son was.

“I’ve been 26 years a priest and eight years a bishop and that has given me more happiness than I deserve in this life because I was smart enough to let God in,” he told the teens. “You should ask him what it is he wants you to do with your life.”

During the meeting the Bishop confessed to not being a very good stickball player as a young man, but a great Mets fan.

When asked about his favorite saint, the Bishop said his favorite saint as a boy was St. Francis of Assisi because of his humility, honesty and love for the poor.  

“Now that I’m older, Mary, the Mother of God is my favorite because every time the Church is in need or reform and revival, our Blessed Lady always opens the door that leads to Jesus,” the Bishop said.

When the teens expressed enthusiasm for Pope Francis, the Bishop said that Francis is one of his heroes “because of his courage. He is afraid of nothing and speaks the truth. The other lesson the Holy Father taught me is that if I don’t live what I preach, then the words don’t mean anything.”

The Bishop ended the meeting by telling the young people that their joy, energy and enthusiasm are “a great gift to give to the Church.”

“There’s a big difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus.  You’re here because you know Jesus. He invites us to break out and put our faith into action,” the Bishop said. “That’s what we’re all about.”

For more photos and reflections by teens go to:
Click here to view the slideshow!

Ocean of Mercy, video by Chris Stefanick
| January 31, 2014


DENVER—Next to the ocean of God's mercy, your sin is a pebble. He died to free you from it. Let Him. Click here for video

Calling the diocese to “new beginnings” Preparing for a Synod
| January 30, 2014 • by By the Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport


BRIDGEPORT—Each New Year, we find our hearts are filled with gratitude and hope.

When we reflect upon the events that marked the year that just ended, we cannot help but give thanks to the Lord for all the blessings, graces and joys that He has given us and our families. For myself, I am deeply grateful to the Lord Jesus for His merciful love and His deep and abiding presence in our lives.

I am also grateful to all of you for your kindness and gracious welcome as I began my ministry as your shepherd. It has been an exciting and challenging three months for me, learning as much as I can about our diverse and complex diocese while at the same time striving to open my heart to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. For if each of us learns to discern and follow the will of God, our lives will know peace and our work will bear great fruit.  

The New Year is also a hopeful time because the Lord gives us new opportunities to address the challenges we face both personally and as a diocese with confidence. Some of those challenges are not new: Too many young people no longer find a spiritual home in our Church. Far too many baptized Catholics have become indifferent to their faith and see no need to worship with us on Sundays. Many families are hurting and seek healing.      

Many Catholics long to learn more about their faith and do not know where to turn. Too many of our sisters and brothers know much about the Lord Jesus but do not know him personally as Lord and Savior. What they seek is a personal encounter with Christ, but often they do not know that they can best find Him in the community of the Church.

Likewise, modern communication has created great opportunities and risks in our lives. While social media has given us unprecedented access to friends and family around the world, its unbridled use can also create great isolation, loneliness, and detachment, especially among young people whose lives are being radically transformed by the very technology that was meant to help them.

Finally, the diocese and many of its institutions face growing financial challenges. As a result, we must tailor our programs to meet the needs of our mission and ministry—a task that is not easy and always causes fear and anxieties.

It is, indeed, a long list of challenges. However, we must not fear! I have every confidence that the Lord will grant us the grace, knowledge, strength and courage to meet these challenges and find new, innovative and exciting ways to foster His mission and Church in the world.

However, in order to move forward, leaders on every level of the Church’s life must work together in a true spirit of dialogue and collaboration. Clergy, religious and laity must discern together the pressing issues that we face. We must prayerfully seek to understand what each of these challenges mean, identify creative ways by which we can address them and seek the courage to do what the Lord will ask of us. It is a task for which I now ask your help and support.

More specifically, it is my plan to convoke the Fourth Synod of the Diocese of Bridgeport to begin in the fall of 2014, so that all God’s people in Fairfield County can seek the Lord’s grace to foster the long-term spiritual and pastoral renewal of our diocese.  Historically the Synod process convenes “the Christian faithful of a particular church who offer assistance to the diocesan bishop for the good of the whole diocesan community” (canon 460).

By means of the Synod, we will have the opportunity through prayer and study to develop a pastoral plan for the diocese. The last such Synod was held in 1981, and much has changed in the 32 years since. For this reason, I believe that the time has come to gather as a diocesan family and work together to meet the challenges we face in our own time.

In the weeks ahead, you will receive much more information regarding the nature, work and structure of the Synod. For now, because of its importance as the start of a new chapter in the life of our diocese, I ask that you pray each day that our Lord will guide all who will organize and prepare for its start. May the Synod bear great fruit to the honor and glory of our Lord and deepen our love and service of one another.

Please be assured of my daily prayers for you and your family. May this New Year bring blessings, renewal and hope to all.

Fairfield Prep to begin construction of Student Life Center
| January 30, 2014


FAIRFIELD—Fairfield College Preparatory School will begin construction of a Student Life Center.

The Center will serve as a crossroads for important campus activities. This state-of-the-art, technology-enriched, multi-purpose facility will feature a number of specialized, but functionally related spaces. The Center will foster a synergy between the academic and co-curricular lives of the school by providing students the opportunity to meet, to interact, to explore, and to cultivate their interests outside of the classroom. The facility will include an enhanced dining area to accommodate 500 students and other school sponsored functions; an assembly area for formal and informal meetings; and office space to support various student-based programs such as Campus Ministry, the SEED Diversity Program, and Community Service. The project is to commence in the spring of 2014 and be completed in the fall of 2015.

Catholic Schools Week 2014
| January 28, 2014


DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT—Our 38 Catholic Schools educate 11,000 children from birth and pre-K through grade 12.98% of our graduates pursue higher education.

40% of our schools have received the National Blue Ribbon of Excellence. Standardized test results show our elementary students consistently exceeding national reading averages in math and reading. Our Catholic schools offer parents the greatest return on their investment in education—exceptional academics and a solid moral foundation in values and respect.
Come see us for yourself!

Meet new ABA chair couple
| January 24, 2014
Posted in Annual Bishop's Appeal


DARIEN—“If you take a tour of the diocese—help make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at St. Catherine Academy, volunteer at the Merton Center, drop in at the Shehan Center—you’ll see how the money from the Bishop’s Appeal is being spent, and spent wisely,” says Cece Donoghue, lay co-chair with her husband, Mike, of the 2014 Annual Bishop’s Appeal.

“We are thrilled that Cece and Mike Donoghue have agreed to serve as our chair couple this year,” says Chief Development Officer William McLean, Jr.

“We deeply appreciate their willingness to take an important leadership role, which will help assure that the Annual Bishop’s Appeal is a success.”

The Donoghues, members of St. John Parish in Darien and the parents of five children, can point to a family history of faith. Cece’s brother is a Jesuit priest, and she grew up having two uncles who are priests. Mike enjoyed a strong Catholic school background before attending Dartmouth College and getting his MBA from Harvard.

Their three older children all chose to attend Jesuit universities. Two younger ones still live at home.

Both come from large families. Cece grew up in Pittsburgh, the sixth of seven kids. Mike comes from Worcester, MA, where he was the second in a family of five children. They met in Manhattan, where both had come for work.

Working as an executive search consultant, Cece called Morgan Stanley with a business question. “Mike picked up,” she recalls. “We discovered we had the same last name, with the same traditional Irish spelling, and agreed we should meet for lunch on a blind date.”

Mike picks up the tale: “Our first real date was on St. Patrick’s Day. Three years later, on St. Patrick’s Day, we got married.”

“I’m a Donoghue who’s married to a Donoghue,” Cece says with a laugh.

Mike is currently president and partner of Phoenix Investment Adviser, LLC in Manhattan.

From the start, the couple was active in their local parish wherever they lived. They have served as catechists, and Cece was a member of the parish council. The activities of five growing children, though, limited their involvement.

“At some point, we felt that our faith needed something more,” Cece recalls. The couple responded to a suggestion from friends that they consider joining the Order of Malta.

Their own guided tour of the diocese, taken as part of the Malta year of preparation, was a revelation. “It opened our eyes about what the diocese actually does, particularly for the less fortunate.”

“A tour like this brings you out of the focus on your own parish,” says Cece. “So many people think the diocese ends at the last step of their parish church.”

Of all the ministries they experienced, the students at St. Catherine Academy in Fairfield, the only Catholic school in Connecticut for children with special needs, claimed first place in their hearts. Both of them have since served on St. Catherine’s board.

“Every third Friday is “PB&J Friday,” Mike explains. “Some of the students work together and make an assembly line. Maybe one kid will spoon out the peanut butter and spread it, another spreads the jelly, and another puts the slices of bread together. They make 300 sandwiches for the clients of the Thomas Merton Center. The St. Catherine students are so appreciative— they know that most of the time they’re on the receiving end, and it means a lot when they can be the givers.”

Retired priests claim another part of their generous hearts. “My mother’s brother would come to our house every weekend,” says Cece. “He’d sit down and the kids would swarm all over him. He came from a big family, so there were always lots of family members around to give him support.”

Many priests are not so lucky. “They sacrifice so much for us,” Cece adds. “Being a priest can be very lonely. So much is expected of them—people are always coming with their troubles and hardships. After retirement comes, they don’t always have families close by. We have to provide for them.”

The diocese currently has 56 retired priests, with 18 living at the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy Residence. Many of them continue to assist with weekend Masses at local parishes.

As parents of teenagers, the couple are deeply appreciative of Bishop Caggiano’s emphasis on outreach to the youth. “If we lose them, we lose the Church,” Mike says.

They have high praise for the youth group at St. John’s. “You have to make youth activities a mix of fun and service,” says Mike. Sometimes kids in a town like this can grow up in a bubble. The youth group experience opens their eyes and at the same time, service builds community.”

The older Donoghue children had a chance to meet Bishop Caggiano at a social event sponsored by the Order of Malta for young adults in college and who have recently graduated. After spending some time with him, their college freshman, Mara, when asked how the evening went responded, “Mom, the Bish’ is chill!”

No higher praise exists for a teen.

Youth, priests newly-ordained or gently older, religious education, Catholic schools, assistance to the sick and needy—the Annual Bishop’s Appeal supports all of these and more.

“When we ask for support for the Appeal, we should also invite people to get involved with the ministries of the Church,” say Cece and Mike. “The more they experience the great things the diocese is doing, the more they’ll understand the goals of the Appeal. They’ll get turned on. We consider it a privilege to help in the Appeal, and they will, too.”

'No sacrifice too great' for pro-life cause, says March for Life head
| January 23, 2014 • by By Carol Zimmermann and Katie Talalas, Catholic News Service


Young people hold signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court during
the March for Life in Washington January 22. Thousands took part
in the annual event, which this year marked the 41st anniversary
of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the nation.
(CNS/Leslie Kossoff)

WASHINGTON—The polar vortex couldn't chill the ardor of thousands of participants who demonstrated their determination to continue speaking out against abortion at the annual March for Life and rally January 22 in Washington.

Temperatures went briefly into double digits but hovered around 8 degrees.

At the rally, speakers highlighted the tenacious determination of the crowd—dressed in coats, scarves, hats and gloves—huddled together on the snow-covered National Mall. They likened the crowd's bravery to the firm resolve they have shown in their efforts to change abortion laws and promote a culture of life in the U.S.

The rally began at noon, prior to the crowd's march to the U.S. Supreme Court to protest the court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, and it had a different feel this year, not simply because of the cold but in the variety of speakers.

Only three members of Congress addressed the crowd, instead of several, although a handful stood on the mall's stage. No Catholic leaders addressed the crowd either, but Catholic bishops joined Orthodox leaders for the rally's opening prayer given by Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios.

Under a blue and sunny sky, Christian singer and songwriter Matt Maher attempted to warm up the crowd while playing a guitar with fingerless gloves. "We're all really cold," he acknowledged, adding that the reason they had gathered was to "demonstrate to the world how much we need God."

Patrick Kelly, chairman of the March for Life, told the crowd filled with young people that they were "freezing for the best cause in the world." Jeanne Monahan, March for Life president, thanked the crowd for "braving the extreme elements today."

"No sacrifice is too great for this cause," she added.

A few times during the hourlong rally, she also advised participants suffering in the cold to visit one of the first-aid warming tents.

Kelly and Monahan stressed a new aspect of this year's march: tweeting about it with the hashtag #marchforlife or #whywemarch. Marchers cheered as Monahan read a tweet from Pope Francis: "I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable." She urged the crowd to retweet his message.

The theme of this year's march was "Adoption: A Noble Decision."

"When a woman makes a choice to be a birth mother, she embraces motherhood in its most heroic sense," said Monahan, who also offered support for women who have not chosen life in the past. "For any woman who has had an abortion, you have to know there is hope and healing."

In his remarks, Kelly noted that the March for Life has a new staff, logo and website and also aims to have a vital social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The goal, he said, is not just for participants to be here once a year but to be in touch with one another "365 days a year to build culture of life in America."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia said the marchers' endurance not only gives "voice to the cause of protecting life" but also shows that they are the "strongest weapon" of the pro-life movement. He said he was confident pro-lifers would win the culture war, because the right to life "is a moral truth written at the hands of our Creator."

Last year, the House passed the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and Cantor cited it as an example of changing public opinion on abortion. He exhorted the rally-goers to continue the battle. "We cannot allow the opponents of life to weaken the moral fabric of this country."

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., criticized President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act "for its insurance plans that include abortion," but he also stressed that "the pro-life movement is alive and well and making serious, significant and sustained progress."

"In the last three years alone, a record 200 pro-life laws have been enacted in the states," he noted. "By the grace of God—and because of you, your prayers and hard work—we are winning."

He also echoed a theme of the day, telling youths in the crowd: "Never quit or grow discouraged, your generation will end abortion."

The Rev. James Dobson, an evangelical Christian leader and founder of Focus on the Family, said, "Young people, you are the future of the pro-life movement. We will win this fight."

Rep. Vicki Hartzler, R-Mo., encouraged leaders to support alternatives to abortion. "Or society must stop upholding abortion and start encouraging adoption."

That message resonated with Nicole Peck, president of Silent No More.

Speaking about her abortion, Peck said, "They took my money, my baby, and my self-respect." She even lost her opportunity to experience childbirth: "I would never conceive another child."

Nicole and her husband later adopted two children. "Their mothers are our heroes."

Many of the freezing marchers had traveled for days to get to Washington.

Jennifer Camilleri, a freshman at Franciscan University at Steubenville, Ohio, came with hundreds of students from her university. She said that she believed that the Holy Spirit was working through people to encourage them to support life.

Monica Stephens, a 17-year-old student from Kansas, came with her parish ministry group. When asked why she came, Stephens told Catholic News Service: "You have to stand up to help the babies. Apparently, it won't happen by itself."

Live EWTN Coverage of the 2014 March for Life
| January 22, 2014


WASHINGTON—On January 22, tens of thousands of people from around the country will travel to Washington to be part of this year’s annual March for Life in the nation’s capital.

Entrepreneurship Finalists
| January 21, 2014
Posted in Local News


BRIDGEPORT—Kolbe Cathedral High School finalist Amber Romero (seated second from left) will compete in the statewide finals sponsored by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

Amber’s business plan, introduced at the recent NFTE conference, features an on-line thrift store.

The Entrepreneur class is fully funded and sponsored by NFTE and networks students with business professionals. (Standing in back row).

On January 10, Babson College, the world leader in collegiate entrepreneurship education, hosted NFTE New England’s 8th Annual Youth Entrepreneurship Conference. With unemployment at an all time high and no signs of it getting better, NFTE New England has been part of the solution. It has served over 12,000 students from low income communities, helping them think and act like entrepreneurs.

The event brought together nearly 450 NFTE students, alumni, teachers, volunteers and panelists for a day chock full of breakout sessions focusing on personal finance, college admissions and financial aid, presentation skills, and defining your entrepreneurial dream and passion.

Students had the opportunity to participate in a hack-a-thon, listen to a panel of successful NFTE alumni and receive individualized business plan coaching from over a dozen community volunteers. 88 students entered our 2nd annual One Minute to Pitch It competition with winners chosen by fellow NFTE students through a text-to-vote process.

The day ended with a motivational keynote speech by NFTE alum Rodney Walker, the star of the film TEN9EIGHT. Throughout the day students received raffle tickets for engaging in the sessions, with the grand prize being an Xbox One, courtesy of our partners at Microsoft.

Sacred Heart Academy Sophomores Selected to Attend Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminar
| January 17, 2014


Sacred Heart Academy students Mitali Bandyopadhyay and Sibani Sengupta

HAMDEN—Each year, one sophomore is chosen by the Social Studies Department to represent Sacred Heart at the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) Seminar and one sophomore is chosen as alternate, based on 100 word essays on leadership.

The Social Studies Department has announced this year’s selection is Mitali Bandyopadhyay and Sibani Sengupta.

Founded in 1958, HOBY’s mission is to inspire and develop our global community of youth to a life dedicated to leadership, service, and innovation. HOBY seminars are conducted annually throughout the United States, serving local and international high school students. These seminars provide students, selected by their schools, to participate in unique leadership training, service-learning, and motivation-building experiences. The HOBY Seminar is the only program exclusively designed for high school sophomores and Ms. Bandyopadhyay and Ms. Sengupta will represent Sacred Heart Academy at the conference in May.

Social Studies courses at Sacred Heart provide a broad knowledge of the past, a sense of historical context and skills in the critical process of gathering, gathering, analyzing and interpreting historical information.  Elective courses include AP Psychology, AP US Government, Economics, and AP US History.

Sacred Heart Academy, a Catholic college preparatory school founded in l946 by the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, successfully prepares young women, grades 9 –12 for learning, service and achievement in a global society.  The Academy currently has an enrollment of 500 students who hail from New Haven, Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex and New London counties.

| January 16, 2014


STAMFORD—Holy Spirit School students were excited by Bishop Frank Caggiano’s visit to the school on January 10.

Students from all grades were intrigued as they asked the bishop a vast range of questions, from “What is it like to be the bishop?”, “How did you know you wanted to become a priest”, to our PK students who wanted to know “Do you listen to your Mommy and Daddy?”

The children were delighted by the Bishop’s hands-on-approach, taking a special interest in their STEM projects, religious education lessons and asking them about their daily work.

Bishop Caggiano was accompanied by Sr. Mary Grace Walsh, superintendent of schools at Diocese of Bridgeport; Msgr. Kevin Royal, Holy Spirit’s pastor; and Deacon Paul Jennings of Holy Spirit.  Hosted by Dina Monti, Holy Spirit principal, and all the staff at Holy Spirit School. It was a blessed and exciting event for all.

Nine days of prayer
| January 16, 2014


WASHINGTON—For the second year in a row, the U.S. Catholic bishops are sponsoring "Nine Days for Life: Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage," planned for January 18-26, as part of several events marking the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the U.S.

"Since that tragic decision, more than 55 million children's lives have been lost to abortion, and many suffer that loss—often in silence," says a posting on
EWTN’s Coverage of the 'March For Life' Goes ‘Full Circle’—the first and only television network to air complete live coverage of the March for Life, announces dramatically expanded coverage.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said in a recent letter to his fellow bishops that response to last year's nine-day observance prompted this year's event to again "pray for the healing and conversion of our national and people impacted by the culture of death."

The 9daysforlife website offers participants several ways to sign up to receive directly a daily simple novena with different intercessions, brief reflections and suggested acts of reparation via email or text message or by using an app for smartphones.

Several resources for prayer and activities—as well as the full reflections for each of the nine days—are available online in the "Pro-Life Activities" section of the U.S. bishops' website.

Stay up to date with all things Pope Francis: Sign up for email alerts from our Francis Chronicles blog.

On January 22, the anniversary of the 1973 Roe decision, the National Mall in Washington will once again be site of the annual March for Life. Thousands of pro-lifers are expected to descend on the nation's capital for the rally and march to the Supreme Court.

The March for Life—which has adoption as its theme this year—will be held January 22 on the National Mall in Washington. A pre-rally event with live music beginning at 11:30 am will be followed by a noon rally. The march begins immediately afterward, with participants walking from the Mall to Constitution Avenue and ending up at the U.S. Supreme Court.

On the eve of the annual march, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities and The Catholic University of America's Office of Campus Ministry will sponsor the annual National Prayer Vigil for Life at the national shrine.

It will open January 21 with a 6:30 pm Mass to be celebrated in the Washington shrine's Great Upper Church. O'Malley will be the principal celebrant and homilist.

The vigil will continue in the shrine's Crypt Church with the National Rosary for Life at 10 pm, followed by night prayer at 11 pm. The vigil continues overnight in the Crypt Church, with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Hours every hour on the hour starting at midnight and continuing through 6 am.

After morning prayer, Benediction and reposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 6:30 am, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput will be the celebrant and homilist at the vigil's closing Mass at 7:30 am. Mass in the national shrine's Great Upper Church.

Last year, more than 20,000 pro-life pilgrims attended the vigil.

Across the country, three days after the Washington events, more than 50,000 people are expected to gather January 25 for the 10th annual Walk for Life West Coast.

"The pro-life spirit is truly alive in San Francisco and the Walk for Life West Coast continues to be a wonderful way for those who care about women and their babies, born and unborn, to show that life is the only choice," Eva Muntean, the event's co-chair, told Catholic San Francisco, the archdiocesan newspaper.

The crowd will gather at Civic Center Plaza for a 12:30 pm rally, then walk down Market Street starting at 1:30 pm The event will conclude with a celebration at Justin Herman Plaza near the Ferry Building.

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone will deliver the invocation for the walk at Civic Center Plaza. He has invited the priests and people of all the parishes and schools of the archdiocese to attend.

"The growth and enthusiasm surrounding the walk proves that our pro-life message continues to resonate with the culture to fill the void secular society creates when it excludes God, virtue and an understanding of the profound dignity of human life," Cordileone wrote in his letters to pastors, priests, Catholic school teachers and students in the San Francisco Archdiocese.

The archbishop also will celebrate a 9:30 am Walk for Life West Coast Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral.

"People, especially our young people, are more and more receptive to the message that abortion hurts women, men and families. They understand that it is inherently unfair to generations of their peers who never had the opportunity to experience life. This is why turnout by our students and young people continues to rise," the archbishop wrote.

Click here for schedule

'Great misunderstanding' seen on church's teachings on end of life
| January 14, 2014 • by By Nancy Frazier O'Brien, Catholic News Service


BALTIMORE—There is "great misunderstanding" among Catholics and others about the church's teachings on whether and when life-sustaining medical treatment can be withdrawn when death is near, according to a leading Catholic bioethicist.

Marie T. Hilliard, director of bioethics and public policy and a staff ethicist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, said the Philadelphia-based center conducts about 2,000 consultations a year with "families in distress" who want to talk with an ethicist "about the church's teaching in light of their (family) situation."

Staff members hear from people who believe that "dialysis can never be discontinued," for example, or that a feeding tube is obligatory "even when it is doing more harm than good," she said.

"Persons who are dealing with crises need to be helped to understand in that situation what is the natural moral law," Hilliard said. "The church always deals with the good and trying to reach the good," even when that means accepting the natural process of dying, she added.

As outlined in the U.S. bishops' "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services," the church teaches that patients "may forgo extraordinary or disproportionate means of preserving life," defined as "those that in the patient's judgment do not offer a reasonable hope of benefit or entail an excessive burden, or impose excessive expense on the family or the community."

Survey results recently released by the Pew Research Religion & Public Life Project found that 57 percent of Americans would tell their doctors to stop medical treatment if they had a disease with no hope of improvement and were suffering a great deal of pain, while 35 percent said they would tell the doctors to do everything possible to save their lives. Eight percent said it depends or they did not know.

But opinions varied greatly according to religion and ethnic group. Nearly two-thirds of white Catholics (65 percent) said they would stop medical treatment under those circumstances, but only 38 percent of Hispanic Catholics agreed. Most likely to stop medical treatment were white mainline Protestants (72 percent); black Protestants were least likely at 32 percent.

The margin of error for the Pew survey was plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

The survey also found that only 37 percent of adult Americans had given "a great deal of thought" to their own wishes for end-of-life medical treatment, while 35 percent had given "some thought" and 27 percent had given "not very much" or no thought to the matter.

Even among those 75 and older, only 47 percent said they had given their end-of-life wishes a great deal of thought, while more than half said they'd given some, little or no thought to those decisions.

Hilliard said the recent attention given to the cases of Jahi McMath, a 13-year-old girl from Oakland, Calif., who has been declared brain dead but remains on life support at an undisclosed location, and Marlise Munoz, a 33-year-old pregnant woman who is being kept on life support against her family's wishes, point up the importance of every person having "a good conversation" with a family member or friend about his or her wishes in a medical crisis.

A simple checklist of possible medical scenarios is no substitute for the designation of a health care proxy and a thorough discussion of one's beliefs with that person, she added.

"Because, as we ethicists often say, when you've seen one case, you've seen one case," Hilliard said.

1st graders at St. Rose of Lima receive Bibles
| January 14, 2014


Group: Isabella Rodgers, Gianna Eisele, Gregory Rodgers, Moira Murphy, Isabelle Montoya, Alexis Keane, and Christopher Lund and their parents and catechists. Photo by Lisa Cascone

NEWTOWN—200 first graders at St. Rose of Lima in Newtown, Connecticut received their very first bible in special small prayer sessions attended by parents and led by Pam Arsenault, the Director of Religious Education.

"This BibleTalks" by Pamela Fisher is a gift from The Servants of the Father of Mercy and Our Sunday Visitor.

The grant was written by Brother Gary Joseph of the Servants of the Father of Mercy. Many thanks to him and The Grant Director at Our Sunday Visitor, Jerry Kearns for this generous gift. The children were delighted as they listened to their personal bible narrate a familiar bible story.

'This is Going to Be a Blue Ribbon School Forever'
| January 10, 2014 • by by Bill Bittar, MonroePatch


MONROE—St. Jude School celebrated its first ever designation as a Blue Ribbon School, a national award recognizing academic excellence and just what makes a school special.

On Thursday, the building was decked out in blue, all of the students and Principal Patricia Griffin donned the color and there was even a table in the gymnasium covered with blue ribbon cupcakes.

The entire school community gathered in the gym for a ceremony with special guests, including Bishop Frank J. Caggiano; Sister Mary Grace Walsh, Superintendent of Schools of the Diocese of Bridgeport; The Rev. Msgr. John Sabia and Michelle Turbak, Edith Wheeler Memorial Library's children's librarian.

"It is about work ethic and applying ourselves every single day we're in school," Griffin said from the podium.

Now that St. Jude School earned the prestigious Blue Ribbon designation, Griffin told her students they must work hard to keep it.

"You can't get lazy," she said. "You can't stop doing your homework. You have to stay focused and on your game at all times."

As a Catholic school, Griffin said St. Jude's students strive for academic excellence with a belief in Jesus Christ, while practicing their faith with a commitment to their community.

Olivia, one of the students who spoke, said, "There are a lot of good things about St. Jude. If you asked me to list them, I don't have enough paper or time."

A slideshow of photos from the past year was set to music, then special recognition was given to students and teachers.

Bishop Caggiano said, "I am very impressed and proud to be with all of you. You are a wonderful school community."

The bishop noted how respectful the children were in the classrooms he had visited and their "willingness to continue to learn and follow Jesus."

"We are not a private school. We are not a public school. We are a Catholic school, which means Jesus is here with us every day," he said. "Treat each other with respect and love."

Bishop Caggiano asked students if they could open the door to their hearts and they answered with a resounding yes.

"Then you are going to have the best school you could have," he said. "And this school is going to be a Blue Ribbon School forever."

Bridgeport shelters, soup kitchens see higher demand as temperatures drop
| January 10, 2014 • by News 12 Connecticut


BRIDGEPORT—Bridgeport shelters, soup kitchens and other organizations are seeing higher demand from low-income residents as temperatures drop.

Officials at Action for Bridgeport Community Development, or ABCD, say they received hundreds of phone calls Tuesday from Bridgeport residents looking for help to pay their heating bill.

Officials at the Thomas Merton Center say they've extended their hours for the winter so that people can have a warm place to stay during the day.

Residents in southwestern Connecticut in need of heating assistance are urged to call 211 to speak with a representative from the United Way.

Click here to view the News 12 video

'Citizen-scholar' and former Ambassador to Vatican Thomas Melady dies
| January 09, 2014 • by By Patricia Zapor, Catholic News Service


Thomas Melady gestures during a symposium at The Catholic University
of America in Washington May 28, 2009. Looking on is Jim Nicholson,
who also is a former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, and Nicholas Burns,
a former high ranking State Department official. (CNS file photo)

WASHINGTON—Former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Thomas P. Melady, who served in several diplomatic posts and continued to play a role as "citizen-scholar" long past the age when most people would have retired, died January 6. He was 86.

Melady died at his Washington home of a brain tumor, which doctors only recently diagnosed.

Melady was an ambassador under three presidents: to Burundi (1969) and Uganda (1972) under President Richard Nixon, and then as the ambassador to the Holy See under President George H.W. Bush (1989) and in the first year of the administration of President Bill Clinton. Melady left the post in early 1993. He also was named by Nixon as senior adviser to the U.S. delegation to the U.N. General Assembly.

He was remembered by one of his successors to the Holy See post as "a perpetual ambassador."

University of Dayton professor Miguel Diaz, who was ambassador from 2009 to 2012, told Catholic News Service that Melady was the first former ambassador to reach out to him when Diaz was nominated and that he continued to be a welcome adviser and mentor.

"Once my nomination was made public, he immediately took me out to lunch and we had a tete-a-tete on Vatican diplomacy," Diaz said, with Melady offering helpful advice about what challenges Diaz might face.

Across differences of political party and generation, "it grew into a collegial friendship," Diaz said.

In the very small group of former U.S. ambassadors to the Holy See, Melady "was the leader of the club," said Diaz. He observed that despite their activism with different political parties—Diaz with the Democrats and Melady with the Republicans -- the two wound up as co-signatories of an assortment of letters and statements on public policy.

Melady's death is "truly a loss, not just for the Melady family but for all of us, Diaz said. "We don't have many people like him left."

In addition to his ambassadorial posts, Melady was a prolific writer, with 17 books, including "Profiles of African Leaders, Idi Amin Dada: Hitler in Africa," "The Ambassador's Story" and "Ten African Heroes," and more than 180 articles to his credit. He most recently had been senior diplomat in residence and a professor at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, teaching a course on the art of diplomacy; mentoring students and helping develop the institute's policy and philanthropic circles, said a post on the organization's website.

"Tom was the epitome of the citizen-scholar and diplomat, dedicated to serving his country and the cause of peace in the world," said a comment from John Lenczowski, founder and president of the institute. "He exposed our students to a rare diplomatic professionalism that was perfect for our students' study of this critical art of statecraft."

Besides his expertise in diplomacy and politics, Melady wrote and taught on Afro-Asian and Central European issues.

The institute post observed that Melady's service at the Vatican came at a pivotal point, when the Soviet Union was collapsing and Pope John Paul II was playing a role in reshaping Eastern Europe.

"He was such a great soul," said Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute on Policy Research and Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America, who counted Melady as a friend.

"In Washington he was about the only person I know who could truly and easily speak to people on both sides of the (political) aisle," Schneck told CNS. "And he was a great friend to the church."

"To a whole generation of us he was a mentor and exceedingly generous," Schneck added. "He would take people like me under his wing and talk about things like the realities of government service. The same with education. He would often work with young scholars and try to prepare them for their work in education."

In 2010, the university's institute awarded Melady the Bishop John Joseph Keane Medallion for lifetime service to church, country and academia. A statement from Schneck called Melady "a brilliant scholar, a renowned diplomat, a distinguished educator, a compassionate Catholic leader, a generous confidant to bishops and presidents, professors and politicians."

New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said in an email forwarded to CNS: "I'll miss Tom as a friend, a teacher, and a statesman."

Cardinal Dolan said that as ambassador to the Holy See, "Tom perceptively appreciated both America's global duties and the Vatican's moral and supernatural influence. We'll miss his wisdom and his unfailingly insightful read on international affairs."

Melady was born March 4, 1927, in Norwich, CT, and served in the U.S. Army at the close of World War II. He earned degrees from Duquesne University and The Catholic University of America and taught at St. John's University. As an early proponent of African studies, he served from 1959 to 1967 as the president of the Africa Service Institute, which brought leaders of newly independent African nations to the United States. He was an adjunct professor at Fordham University from 1966 to 1969, when he began his diplomatic service.

He later went on to serve as chairman of Seton Hall University and as a consultant to the National Urban League. After his diplomatic service, he taught at George Washington University and was president of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT, from 1976 to 1986.

In a letter to the Sacred Heart University community on the school's website Jan. 7, President John J. Petillo said Melady's service came during a time of great change for the university, as it grew from "a start-up college to an acclaimed regional university."

"His vision played an important role in Sacred Heart becoming not only the nationally known university it is today, but also in our reputation as a special place where members of the community are treated with respect and dignity," Petillo said.

Melady is survived by his wife of 52 years, Margaret, with whom he co-wrote several books; daughters Christina Melady and Monica Melady Micklos; and seven grandchildren.

Among his many honors and awards, he was a Knight of Malta and recipient of the Grand Cross of the Order of Malta; was a recipient of the Order of Pius IX and the Order of St. Gregory the Great. He was the recipient of 30 honorary doctorates and was honored by the leaders of Senegal, Liberia, Cameroon, Madagascar and Croatia.

A funeral Mass with Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl presiding was scheduled for January 13 at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. Sacred Heart University scheduled a memorial Mass for the following day.

Diocese issues 2009 Financial Statement
| January 07, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—The Diocese of Bridgeport has released the Disaggregated Condensed Combined Financial Statements for the eighteen Months Ended December 31, 2009 as part of the overall Stewardship Report issued in December.

Bishop Caggiano described the release of the Stewardship Report “as a necessary first step in building the future of our Diocese in service of the Lord.”

It included a summary of diocesan ministries as well as a picture of the current financial position of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

The earlier report, printed in the December issue of Fairfield County Catholic and made available on line included financial statements and commentary for fiscal years 2010, 2011 and 2012 for the Bridgeport Roman Catholic Diocesan Corporation.

The 2009 audit was not included in the initial report because it reflects an 18- month audit, as the result of a change in the Diocesan fiscal year at that time from June 30th to December 31st. The change was made to provide greater control over diocesan financial activities and to line up the Annual Appeal—the major source of revenue for diocesan ministries--with the first half of the fiscal year,

As a result, the 2009 report does not lend itself to a comparative presentation to either the 12-month period before or after it.  Thus, this commentary is presented as a stand-alone discussion on the eighteen-month period.   

“As we know, the past five years have seen great change and presented significant challenges in our country's broader financial markets. The Diocese has also experienced similar change and challenges, as outlined in our financial statement, “ Bishop Caggiano said, adding that he’s optimistic about the future of the Diocese.

“My vision for the future of the Diocese of Bridgeport is one of a growing and vibrant Church that welcomes everyone who seeks to deepen their relationship with the Lord Jesus within our Catholic community of faith."

The final piece of the Stewardship Report is a full accounting of the Diocesan endowment fund, Faith in the Future. It will be issued at the end of January.

Click to read the 2009 Financial Summary and Statements

Click to read the Combined Financial Statements together with Report of Independent Certified Public Accountants, December 31, 2009

Guard faith with 'spiritual cunning,' says pope
| January 06, 2014 • by By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
Posted in World News


Men dressed as the Three Kings ride on horses in an Epiphany parade
in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican January 6. (CNS/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY—Christians should go out into the world to follow God but use "holy cunning" to guard against the snares of temptation, Pope Francis said.

The pope made the remarks at a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica January 6 on the feast of the Epiphany, which marks the manifestation of Jesus as savior to the world.

In his homily, the pope said that life is a journey, and like the three Wise Men, or Magi, people are looking for the "fullness of truth and of love which we Christians recognize in Jesus, the light of the world."

Jesus is found by reading the world of God's creation and the sacred Scripture, which nourishes the soul and "enables us to encounter the living Jesus, to experience him and his love," the pope said.

On life's journey, we need to be "attentive, alert and listen to God who speaks to us," and be prepared when we encounter "darkness, suspicion, fear and jealousy."

This happened to the Magi when they briefly lost sight of the star to Bethlehem and passed through Jerusalem where they encountered King Herod, who was "distrustful and preoccupied with the birth of a frail child whom he thought of as a rival," the pope said.

Jesus wasn't interested in usurping the king, "a wretched puppet," the pope said, but in overthrowing the devil.

Nonetheless, the king and his counselors felt threatened and feared "a whole world built on power, on success, on possession, on corruption was being thrown into crisis by a child," the pope said.

"The Magi were able to overcome that dangerous moment of darkness before Herod, because they believed in the Scriptures," and believed the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, he said.

They were able to flee the darkness and resume their journey toward God because of a "holy cunning, that is, a spiritual shrewdness which enables us to recognize danger and to avoid it."

Pope Francis said Jesus' instruction to his disciples to "be wise as serpents and innocent as doves" means Christians must welcome God into their hearts and "cultivate that spiritual cunning which is able to combine simplicity with astuteness."

The Magi "teach us how not to fall into the snares of darkness and how to defend ourselves from the shadows which seek to envelop our life," the pope said.

Like the Magi, we need to "safeguard the faith with holy cunning, guard it from that darkness which, many times, is also disguised as light," he said.

"Shield it from the song of the Sirens," who seek to distract us from taking the right path, guarding one's faith "with prayer, with love, with charity."

The Magi also teach us "not to be content with a life of mediocrity, of playing it safe, but to let ourselves be attracted always by what is good, true and beautiful—by God," he said.

Look to the heavens as they did, aim high and "follow the great desires of our heart" while also being wise to the deception of appearances, by what the "world considers great, wise and powerful."

"We must not be content with appearances," but press on, past the darkness and worldly temptations, to the periphery, to Bethlehem, to find the true light and king of the universe, the pope said.

After the Mass, tens of thousands of people streamed to St. Peter's Square to listen to the pope's noon prayer and to visit the Vatican's Nativity scene.

Like the star that appeared in the night sky over Bethlehem, God is the first to appear and signal to the world his presence, the pope said.

God is always the first to take the initiative—he is the one who invites and then patiently waits.

"The Lord calls you, the Lord looks for you, the Lord waits for you," the pope said. "The Lord doesn't proselytize. He gives love and this love looks for you and waits for you, you! Even if right now you don't believe or you are far" from God.

The pope noted Jan. 6 marked World Day of Missionary Childhood, and he praised the efforts by Christian children to spread the Gospel and reach out to the less fortunate.

The pope also extended a Christmas greeting to Eastern Christians who follow the Julian calendar and were preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ January 7.

He asked that Jesus "strengthen in everyone their faith, hope and love, and give comfort to the Christian communities experiencing ordeals."

Catechetical Congress: “Who do you say that I am”
| January 03, 2014


“It’s all about love,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in his keynote speech at the Catechetical Congress. “You have to foster, create, allow the Lord in his awesome beauty to touch you, and for you to love him back. There is a big difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus.”



The Catechetical Congress, a symposium on faith, was held November 16 at Sacred Heart University. Sponsored by the Office for Pastoral Services, it is traditionally held every three years.

“It’s a beautiful way to improve the connection between the diocese and the individual parishes,” says Fr. Jose Brito Martins, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Portuguese Parish in Danbury. “It helps to glue us together.”

This year’s Congress, which took as its theme “Who do you say that I am,” drew more than 600 participants. Although it is geared toward people in Church ministry—catechists, youth ministers, RCIA facilitators—the Congress is open to all adults who are interested in deepening and enriching their faith.

“There is no greater joy than having a personal relationship with Christ,” says Damien O’Connor, director of Pastoral Services. “This Congress was designed to offer people a number of ways to deepen that relationship and give them the tools to share their love of Christ with others.”

The need for the support and love of God was brought painfully to life in a witness talk by Msgr. Robert Weiss, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown. The strength of his faith and his compassion grasped the hearts of listeners as he described the horrific events of December 14, 2012, in Newtown, “A place where things like this…don’t happen.”

“It was like Good Friday—there were mothers crying for their children, their children who had died. These were parents who I married, children who I baptized. We held tight to the foot of the cross, because that was our only hope.”

“His talk was exceptional because of the emotions involved,” says Susan Moran, who teaches sixth-graders in the religious education program at St. Peter Parish in Danbury. “For many of us here, the people of Newtown are our neighbors.”

After that intense morning, the theme of the Congress was explored further by nationally known and local speakers who focused on ways to take the experience of faith and pass it on to others. Along with many parish groups, catechists from Immaculate Heart of Mary split up to take in all the workshops. They will be sharing their experiences in the weeks to come.

At St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Riverside, a number of catechists attended a workshop on teaching with hands-on technology given by Amy Taylor and Jaimee Keogler. “Our catechists were excited to attend a workshop given by such energetic young people,” says Janet Wrabel, assistant DRE at St. Catherine’s.

“Religious education is no longer simply a matter of stand up and lecture,” Wrabel says. “They showed the catechists how to use PowerPoint, YouTube and websites like Catholic Toolbox and Life Teen. They even showed us how to save a YouTube video from Facebook to our computers. They’re really up there.”

Participants also had the chance to hear Dr. Peter Kreeft on “Do Catholics Need to be Evangelized;” Dr. Anthony Esolen on “Obedience and Truth;” and Amy Ekeh on “If Today You Hear His Voice” Recognizing the Moments of Your Own Evangelization.”

The Chapel of the Nativity was open throughout the Congress for private prayer and Eucharistic Adoration. The day ended with Mass, the source and summit of each Catholic’s relationship with Jesus.

“Catechesis never ends,” said Bishop Caggiano. “It’s a lifetime conversation. We echo and re-echo the song of Christ.”