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“IT” happens “everywhere-but-here”
| July 16, 2016


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Only, now… it HAS happened...HERE...in OUR town...in our little corner of Westport...here at Saint Luke...in the parish where I live and serve as pastor.

I have been here for almost 19 years and have many times raised a prayer of thanksgiving that violence and vandalism have not forced their way into the life and home of our faith communities as it has “elsewhere.”

That is no longer the case. But let’s keep it in perspective:

  • No one was injured by the events that happened here on 13 July.
  • The monetary value of damage to masonry, electrical systems, and statuary – relatively minor – is insignificant in comparison with the loss of human life – and completely covered by insurance that all Catholic institutions are required to have.
  • Various aspects of the way that the damage was done hint at much deeper psychological issues that must be addressed, not only for this individual perpetrator, but for a much wider population.
  • The worst of this event is a sense of being violated somehow in something or someone that we hold sacred and beloved.

Consider the following items that have recently dominated the news:

  • Debates about the regulation of firearms
  • Incidents in Sandy Hook, Aurora, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Baton Rouge, Dallas, Nice and elsewhere
  • Heightened interracial and immigrational tensions – even while the Westport-Weston-Norwalk religious communities rejoice to welcome and provide for a Syrian refugee family
  • Repeated reports about how people can be bullied and demeaned by various “social” media to the point of desperation
  • Suicides among our people: teens, police officers and any of our neighbors
  • The political climate, especially in a presidential election year
  • Reports about how 80% of people admit to participating in incidents of “road rage” (CBS Newsradio, 14 July 2016)
  • (fill in your own blank about how any one person or group is treating another with contempt or anger for any reason of being “different” or “unworthy”).

I submit for our consideration, dear neighbors, that too much of our energy – collective and individual, national and local, emotional and psychological is – as the Scriptures say – spent on straining at the gnat while swallowing the camel. In other words, we are wasting a HELL of a lot of energy and bringing a HELLISH existence upon ourselves because we are ever trying to swat at the symptoms while avoiding the core disease and question: what are the angers and the frustrations and the sense of helplessness and powerlessness that are boiling up within people driving them to act-out in destructive ways? More importantly: how must each of us bear a share of the responsibility for that? Because every human being does so.

A colleague of mine from many years ago and now in the next life, once spoke in a completely different context to reflect on the image of watching intently the pot of water that his grandmother placed on the stove to cook the pasta for their weekly Sunday Italian dinner. At the very beginning, there was nothing. Then, barely visible currents of warm water could be seen interacting with the colder water. I’ve since learned that those barely visible currents – like plumes of clear heat rising from our chimneys into the cold air of the winter – are called “schlerins.” Then, little by little, tiny bubbles of steam would form on the bottom. One bubble would nudge up against another bubble and combine to make a bigger one...again and again and again. Bubbles would begin to rise to the surface, one by one, until the whole pot would suddenly break into a FURIOUS full-rolling boil.

Beginning as neighbors on our streets and in our schools and workplaces and towns – as families around our dining room tables – we need to become aware of and address the schlerins – what are the subtle unnoticed currents of “hot” and “cold” in our community, silently and invisibly clashing with one another? What are the stresses and the pressures that we place upon ourselves – and one another – that will lead first to small and then ever-growing bubbles of emotional steam to become full rolling boils of anger, hatred, addiction, desperation, and fear?

I’m not wise enough to have a magic “one-size-fits-all” answer, and surely a psychotic episode cannot be put on a par with other ways of acting out and seeking relief. But I firmly believe nonetheless that each of us – however old or young, privileged and advantaged or less so, whatever our cultural background – has it within us to make choices every day to turn down the heat with and for one another –however modestly so.

Can we? Will we?

Monsignor Andy Varga
Pastor, Saint Luke Church, Westport CT


Reaching out to our Young People not in our Pews
| June 24, 2016


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FROM THE PASTOR’S DESK

Our Young Adult Open Gym night, held every Tuesday in St. Joseph School gym from 8-10 p.m., draws many college guys home for the summer, along with the senior high school students and young working guys in their twenties who turn out regularly for the pickup basketball games. Last Tuesday there were 15 young men there, largely ages 16 to 24, most of whom I knew from St. Joseph Parish or School.

argely ages 16 to 24, most of whom I knew from St. Joseph Parish or School. I like to sit and observe the action for a while from the edge of the stage, chatting with the different guys as they rotate in and out. It helps me keep in touch with our young parishioners.

As every study shows, the percentage of Americans claiming no specific religious affiliation is significantly growing, even when they still believe in God and Jesus Christ. And across all faith and denominational lines, the religious practice of the Millennials and Gen-Xers is much less church- and parish-based than for the Boomers and the Great Generation. Any Church community looking to the future, therefore, has to ask itself: are we reaching out to our young people where they are, not where we are?  If that means opening up a gym once a week, we as a parish are all for it!
                           
– Monsignor Chris Walsh


Day of Service begins and ends in prayer
| September 26, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—“Today is an historic day in our Diocese with the inauguration of the Catholic Service Corps,” said Bishop Frank Caggiano in his Facebook entry last Saturday.

The bishop was excited by the launch of the first Diocesan Day of Service sponsored by the newly formed Catholic Service Corps.


The day began with prayer, followed by volunteer work, and Mass celebrated by the Bishop at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Sacred Heart University.

Young service corps members worked in a variety of settings including Merton Center in Bridgeport, St. Margaret’s Shrine, New Covenant Center in Stamford, and St. Thomas The Apostle Parish in Norwalk.

The CSC was one of the major initiatives that was approved in the recent Diocesan Synod to provide opportunities for all the faithful, especially young people, to deepen and broaden their Catholic faith by inviting them to embrace a life of Christian service and the call to be a missionary disciples.

“The young people who will begin to form the Catholic Service Corps will walk on the front line of faith, trying to overcome the temptation of spiritual complacency in their own lives by embracing, over time, a true lifestyle of service. Their witness will also encourage and challenge those around them to follow their example,” he said.

The bishop dropped in at a couple of the worksites to offer encouragement to the young people who worked in teams from different schools and parishes. He believes that the charitable work, grounded in prayer and reflection, is an important part of faith formation.

“My prayer is that the Corps will unleash a tidal wave of mercy that will slowly transform the face of our Diocesan Church, bringing the gift of loving mercy to every corner of our county. My dream is that such love will be effectively offered and received by every human heart seeking a path to God.”

“Given some of the challenges that we have faced as a Church over the past 15 years, many people may be tempted to believe that the best days of our Church are behind us. Today proves that our best days are yet to come,” he said.

Michelle Smith of Weston, a teacher at Fairfield Prep who is serving as Coordinator of the Catholic Service Corps, said she hopes the pilot program will expand to include more schools and parishes throughout the diocese.

For more information, contact Michelle M. Smith Coordinator, Catholic Service Corps, Diocese of Bridgeport, 238 Jewett Avenue, Bridgeport, Connecticut  06606. Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Catholic Charities Gala: A Night to Celebrate
| September 25, 2016


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STAMFORD—It was an evening of high energy, spirited music and celebration as Catholic Charities of Fairfield County celebrated its 100th Birthday in a gala at the Stamford Marriott.  Over 400 men and women filled the main ballroom for dinner, dancing and award with an evening that included and awards ceremony and video offering a glimpse into the 100-year history of Catholic Charities, which was formed in response to the needs of the immigrants, orphans and working poor of industrial Bridgeport.


The gala capped a year of special events planned led by the Gala Committee leaders Marilyn Hart, Kevin Gremse, Jim McPartlan, and Nancy Murphy.

Fox News Anchor Ernie Anastos served as Masters of Ceremonies and Catholic Charities President Al Barber served as “auctioneer” for the night that raised over $100,000 for the feeding, behavioral health, childcare, and community programs of the Church’s social service arm in the county.

“We stand on the shoulders of giants,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, noting that before Pope Francis inspired the world with his concern for the poor and vulnerable, and 40 years before the diocese was formed, Catholic Charities was bringing compassion and mercy to those in need.

“Catholic Charities knows that people are not problems to be solved but people to be loved,” the Bishop said, noting that the mission of Catholic Charities continues to inspire the diocese.

At the end of his remarks the Bishop announced that the Board of Catholic Charities has approved the creation of the “Catholic Charities of Fairfield County Foundation to permanently endow its charitable works.

“Catholic Charities is love in action,” he said, after presenting the Dr. Marguerite T. Boylan Awards for service to the poor to nine individuals from the area with a lifetime of service and concern for those in need. Dr. Boylan founded Catholic Charities in Bridgeport and was a lifelong advocate of the poor.

The Boylan Awards were presented to Peggy Ceponis of Ridgefield for her volunteer service at Morning Glory Breakfast Program in Danbury; Fr .John Giuliani of Redding, one of the founders of Merton House in Bridgeport; ,Bruce and Linda Koe of Greenwich who helped to found the diocesan “Loaves and Fishes” campaign; Denis and Britta Nayden for their support of the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, St. Catherine’s Academy, and Trinity Catholic High School; Anne and Mary Sommer for their support of Merton Center in Bridgeport and New Covenant House in Stamford; and Msgr. Robert Weiss for his outstanding and compassionate leadership in the Newtown Community after the Sandy Hook tragedy .

Catholic Charities President Al Barber read the following tributes to those who came forward to accept the Boylan Awards:

Peggy Ceponis: An active parishioner at St. Mary Parish in Ridgefield, Ceponis helped reignite the parish youth group, mobilizing young people to organize food and clothing drives for the Thomas Merton Center in Bridgeport; tutor other youth at St. Peter Parish in Bridgeport; serve breakfast at Morning Glory; and cook dinners at New Covenant Center in Stamford. In 2008 she focused her energies on CCFC’s Morning Glory Breakfast Program and helped launch the Market Place food pantry there. Ceponis has found that she connects with the homeless population, and now devotes most of her time and efforts to their needs. Ceponis said, “Catholic Charities has always encouraged me to see the whole person, and not just the wrong turns in their life.”

Father John Guiliani: The Thomas Merton Center would not exist were it not for Father John Guiliani. In the 1970s, he and a group of students joined forces to establish the Thomas Merton House of Hospitality in Bridgeport and then the Good Shepherd House of Hospitality in South Norwalk, both of which served as models for New Covenant Center in Stamford and Dorothy Day House in Danbury. Never one to slow down, in 1977 Father John, along with two others, founded The Benedictine Grange. The Grange explored a new monasticism, balancing a life of contemplation with a life of active works of social justice. In recent years, the Grange has extended its concerns to assisting the undocumented through support to individuals and to the Office of Immigration Services at Catholic Charities. Father John represents a hybrid of roles—priest, teacher, artist, liturgist, poet, theologian, activist, humanitarian and faithful servant.

Bruce and Linda Koe: Bruce and Linda Koe’s approach to giving back is nothing if not down-to-earth. Both are extremely active in Trinity Church, Greenwich, where they co-founded Loaves and Fishes, a group that regularly cooks and serves meals at New Covenant Center. Bruce founded Men’s Social Outreach; and Linda serves on the Missions, Outreach and Justice committee. Due to Linda’s passion for addressing food insecurity, they took a deep- dive into New Covenant Center. Linda served as secretary of the New Covenant advisory board, founded the annual Harvest Table fundraiser six years ago, and has devoted countless hours of volunteer time. Between monetary donations and on-the-ground action, the Koes have been instrumental in supporting the New Covenant Center of the future.

Denis and Britta Nayden: There’s a strong magnet that draws Denis and Britta Nayden to take action: young people. The Naydens have been stalwart supporters of the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, St. Catherine’s Academy, Trinity Catholic High School and the University of Connecticut. Another youth-centered cause that’s close to their hearts is Build On, an organization that helps break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy worldwide. In honor of Denis’ brother, the Naydens established the William Nayden Memorial Scholarship at Trinity Catholic High School. Over the last 13 years, this schol- arship has grown into a $1.2 mil- lion dollar endowment, providing over 30 scholarships for Trinity Catholic students. Why do these members of St. Leo Parish in Stamford do so much to help others? Denis explained: “Our family grew up in Catholic schools and churches, where there’s a constant reminder of what’s actually important to do in life.”

Anne and Mary Sommer: The Sommers’ tale is a generational one. Anne, now in her 90s, has been the guiding-star of her family of eight children. She instilled a passion for helping others by bringing her young flock to serve at the Thomas Merton Center, where she was a board member for many years. Her eldest child Mary, a Supreme Court Judge for the State of Connecticut, was inspired early on by her mother to jump into social action. Mary has served on advisory boards for child advocacy programs, prison literacy programs, and juvenile justice activities. Mary’s husband, Jay Sandek, is a lead trustee with the Singer Foundation, which donated $500,000 to New Covenant Center. The Sommer women have truly manifested “faith in action” with their continued commitment to CCFC. Mary says, “I believe so deeply that Fairfield County would be a very different place were it not for Catholic Charities.”

Msgr. Robert Weiss: When the Sandy Hook shooting struck four years ago, Msgr. Weiss, the pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown, was faced with a community in shock, despair, and loss. But he provided comfort, guidance, and hope to his extend- ed community. “The Sandy Hook School shooting required endless hours of caring people reaching out to those who were afraid, those most deeply affected by loss and injury and a community in shock. Charities was there from the beginning,” he says, “and stayed by our side for months, providing what they provide the best: confidence that darkness will not overcome light, hurt can be healed and forgiveness leads us to hope.”

----
Catholic Charities of Fairfield County, Inc. is one of the largest private social service providers in Connecticut. Since 1916, Catholic Charities has served all people with programs that feed the hungry and homebound, shelter the homeless, strengthen families, assist the physically and emotionally challenged, and deliver consultation and assistance to immigrants. It serves all people without regard to age, race, religion, or ability to pay. For information visit the web: http://www.ccfairfield.org


Hover and click the arrows to navigate the slideshow above
or visit the photo gallery (photos by Michelle Babyak)

Michelle Smith named coordinator of CSC
| September 23, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Michelle Smith has been named coordinator of the new Catholic Service Corps (CSC), a synod initiative created in response to the call for service and the need to engage youth in faith and good works.


“Michelle’s experiences as a religious education teacher, events planner, fundraiser and media director will provide faithful leadership as we work to bring the Catholic Service Corps to full fruition,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano. “She understands that works of service are grounded in faith and part of the formation process for our young people.”

Smith’s first priority has been the development of partnerships and volunteer opportunities for the upcoming September 24 Day of Service. The day will include projects across the diocese, concluding with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Caggiano in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity to launch the Catholic Services Corps,” said Smith who grew up in St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Weston. “When I was a young person, these service opportunities didn’t really exist. It’s exciting that they’re available to young children today. Engaging young people in service is important to the future of the universal Church.”

She said the CSC will put service “in the Catholic context of social justice and make young people more aware of the challenges in our diocese. The haves and have-nots live side by side in Fairfield County, co-existing with one another, and there are many needs. Social justice surrounds the need for service.”

Smith said she hopes that the corps “ignites a flame or passion in the kids to grow in their faith. They will be able to look right and look left and see how many others are involved in service doing service. Hopefully, it will also lead them to Mass on Sundays.”

Smith said the goal isn’t simply to put young people to work but she hoped to create a volunteer experience that is “inviting, affirming, inclusive, social and fun.”  

Smith joined Fairfield Prep this fall as a member of the Theology Department.  She has served as campus minister, theology teacher, and director of middle school social justice and service at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich since 2010. She is also currently a doctoral candidate in religious education at Fordham University.

Smith, her husband, Jim, and their four children are long-time parishioners of St. Francis of Assisi Parish.

(For more information on the Catholic Serve Corps, contact Michelle Smith: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)


Youth Day of Service Set for Saturday
| September 23, 2016


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The diocese will formally launch the new Catholic Service Corps (CSC) with a day of service and a Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano on Saturday, September 24.

More than 100 young people who are participating in pilot programs for the service corps will be at work in a variety of settings including Merton Center in Bridgeport, New Covenant Center in Stamford, Connecticut Food Bank, Morning Glory in Danbury, Al’s Angels in Westport, and the St. Vincent DePaul Society on the grounds of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Norwalk.

Michelle Smith, the newly named coordinator of the Catholic Service Corps, said the young people will be painting, serving food, stocking shelves, wrapping gifts, and doing yard work and clean-up projects for those in need.

Smith said some of the 15 CSC chapters involved in the pilot program may be sending as few as five young people, while others may send 20 or more. Each service project will combine young people from various groups in order to provide a better learning experience and to reinforce the universal call to service.

The young people will work at their assignments from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm. Each chapter will begin their service with a brief prayer and reflection on the work they are about to undertake, Smith said.

After four hours of service, they will gather at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Sacred Heart University for Mass with Bishop Frank J. Caggiano who will ask the youth to reflect on their service as an outgrowth of their faith.

The Mass will be followed by a picnic on the grounds of the university that will give the young people from different parishes and organizations the opportunity to meet and socialize. Each young person will receive a Catholic Service Corps T-shirt.

Smith said that interest in the Catholic Service Corps is growing. 
At present, when asked about joining, she directs them to existing chapters. In year two of the projects, she hopes to be able to add new chapters to the diocesan effort.


Musical cast works to Save Our Sound
| September 23, 2016


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HAMDEN—”God gave us a bountiful garden, but we have turned it into a polluted wasteland of debris, desolation, and filth," Pope Francis writes in Laudato Si, a papal document released to coincide with the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.


Each year the cast and crew of Sacred Heart Academy’s annual musical implements a concept-based service project. Inspired by Pope Francis, the cast and crew of this year's musical decided to act on his words. Being "Under the Sea" can be fun, but the reality of living on the Connecticut shoreline is another story. “By partnering with the non-profit organization Save Our Sound, this year's "Little Mermaid" team committed to several beach clean-ups throughout the month of September. Preserving nature is a vital aspect of the Pope's call to action and our students responded with hours of dedicated service by cleaning up our shoreline,” shared musical director MaryLee Delaney.

This year’s musical—Disney’s The Little Mermaid—will run the first weekend in November at the historic Shubert Theatre in downtown New Haven. The cast of more than 150 students has been practicing since August. Tickets are available at Sacred Heart Academy, 265 Benham St., Hamden, www.sacredhearthamden.org, or through the Shubert Box Office.


Knights bring comfort with their donation
| September 23, 2016


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NORWALK—In late spring, two Fairfield County Knights of Columbus Councils partnered to hold a Golf Tournament for Charity named the Sword & Shield Golf Classic.


Under the leadership of co-chairs George Ribellino of Norwalk Council 14360 from St. Matthew Parish and Greg Matera of Fairfield Council 11077 from Our Lady of Assumption, the golf tournament was a rousing success raising funds for several organizations including Malta House, a home for unwed mothers and their children in Norwalk. 

On September 7, members of both councils arrived at Malta House, joining the residents and board members for Mass and dinner before presenting checks totaling $2,200 from a portion of the proceeds from the outing. “To be able to do good for those in your community gives such a level of satisfaction, it really can’t be described,” said Golf Finance chair and current Deputy Grand Knight from Council 14360, Anthony Armentano. “Malta House does so much good and we are honored to help where we can.”  

Co-chair Matera echoed Armentano’s sentiment, “We are proud that the Knights of Columbus is able to support the needs of Malta house and their residents and we hope for many more golf tournaments and other events to come. Malta House will put the money to good use for the residents as they plan to purchase new mattresses and other items for the residents.”

Both Knights councils have worked with Malta House over the years by providing diaper, wipes, formula and supplying man hours to paint and make repairs at the house. “I have worked with Malta House since joining my Knight council in 2009. I admire the work that the staff and board do to help the mother and children at Malta House. We were so honored to present a check from the proceeds of the golf tournament for Malta House to provide new mattresses and bedding for the bedroom,” said Tournament co-chair George Ribellino, Jr.

For more info on Malta House, go to Maltahouse.org.


World’s oldest Catholic bishop dies at 104
| September 22, 2016 • by John Burgeson, CT Post


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NEW JERSEY—It’s not clear if he ever threw a Hail Mary pass when he played football at Shelton High School in 1929, but he later made goals few achieve in a lifetime.


Retired Archbishop Peter Gerety, a native of Shelton, who served
as archbishop of Newark, N.J., and bishop of Portland, Maine,
died Tuesday at the age of 104.

Shelton’s scrappy left end went on to become a priest, a civil rights-era advocate—and the world’s oldest Catholic bishop. Archbishop Peter Leo Gerety, who led the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., died Tuesday at 104, the archdiocese confirmed.

“The Diocese of Bridgeport mourns the loss and celebrates the life of Archbishop Peter Gerety, a native of Shelton who grew up in St. Joseph Parish and is remembered fondly for his kindness and generosity as a person,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

He added: “I was personally grateful that he traveled back to the diocese at the age of 101 to attend my installation as bishop. Our Church and our faith today truly stands on the shoulders of men like Archbishop Gerety.”

One might think the life of an archbishop would be filled with sermons, religious studies, tending to his flock, deep contemplation and visits to the the Vatican. To be sure, those experiences were familiar to Gerety.

But in the 1930s, the future archbishop found himself on a rather different path. In an extensive interview in August 2009, Gerety revealed that one of his first jobs out of high school was manning a roadblock for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“There was an infestation of Japanese beetles,” he said, “and I was one of the guys who stopped cars at roadblocks to see if they had any fruits and vegetables, that kind of thing, to keep the beetles from spreading. They didn't like to see us."

Led black church

Gerety was the eldest of nine children, all boys. He was educated in Shelton’s public school system, attending the Commodore Hull Elementary School on Oak Avenue, which still stands and has since been converted into an apartment building.

“When I went to Shelton High, I was captain of the football team in my senior year,” he said. “Left end.”

His time at Shelton High has left its football team with a tradition, according to Sister Nancy Strillacci of the St. Joseph Parish in Shelton, who had been in contact with Gerety in recent years.

“In fact, to this day, before a game, the team has a tradition of attending Mass at St. Joseph because of Archbishop Gerety,” she said. “Of course it’s optional—some members of the team aren’t Catholic. But the parish provide sandwiches for the team afterwards, and that custom began with Father Gerety.”

Strillacci belongs to the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

After the job manning roadblocks for the USDA and a later job with the New Jersey Department of Transportation, he enrolled in the St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, Connecticut. After that, he soon found himself as being an advocate for the poor in New Haven.

His first assignment was in St. John the Evangelist Parish on Davenport Avenue, across the street from Yale-New Haven Hospital.

“I was there for three years,” he said in the 2009 interview. “Then I was appointed to St. Martin de Porres Church on Dixwell Avenue in 1942. It was an all-black congregation. St. Martin de Porres is a black saint. I founded the place in 1942.”

It was during that time that he worked with the Legislature to get civil-rights laws passed and pressed for improvements in interracial relations, and the improvement of the situation for blacks.

Inner-city bishop

He was sent by the church to Maine in the 1960s, and he became Portland’s eighth bishop in 1969.

When he was appointed as the third archbishop of Newark, he welcomed the move back to the inner-city.

“The fact of the matter is it was more of a change moving from Dixwell Avenue up to Maine than it was moving from Maine to Newark,” Gerety said. “The inner-city setting was what I was familiar with. Newark is very much an urbanized area—very much what I was used to in New Haven."

Caggiano made note of the fact that when Gerety returned to St. Joseph Parish in Shelton to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2013, he was the only person who was there at both the Church’s opening — as a child — and its 100th anniversary.

He spent his final years at St. Joseph's Home for the Elderly, run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, in Totowa.

“He will be remembered as a man of wit and humor with a great love for the poor and a sense of the importance of community in the life of the Church and in our neighborhoods," Caggiano said.

Click here for the original CT Post story


2016 St. Augustine Medals of Service set for October 15
| September 21, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—The Saint Augustine Medal of Service prayer service and awards ceremony will be held at St. Augustine Cathedral on Saturday, October 15, beginning at 1 pm.


A reception will follow at Kolbe-Cathedral High School on the grounds of the cathedral campus.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will lead the prayer service and present medals to more than 150 recipients from parishes and ministries across the diocese.

“True generosity comes from those who are grateful for their lives and who faithfully use the gifts God has given them,” said Bishop Caggiano. “We will celebrate the St. Augustine medalists as mentors, guides and prophets in their love and service. I look forward to meeting them and their families and recognizing their great commitment to others through the Church.”

Last year, more than 700 friends and family of the recipients turned out for the Medal of Service ceremony.

Pastors, priests and deacons throughout the diocese accompany the recipients as they come forward to be presented the medal by Bishop Caggiano.

The St. Augustine Medal of Service was instituted in 2005 to recognize the “unsung heroes” who unselfishly give of their time and talents to build up parish communities. On one side of the medal is an image of St. Augustine of Hippo, patron saint of the diocese. The reverse features the coat of arms of the diocese.

(For more information, contact Janet Davis: 203.416.1636 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)


U.S. bishops support day of prayer for sex abuse victims
| September 20, 2016 • by Catholic News Agency


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WASHINGTON—In light of Pope Francis' call to pray for the victims of sexual abuse, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will support a Worldwide Day of Prayer for Sexual Abuse Survivors, highlighting the importance of healing and noting the progress the Church has made over the years.


“With a pastor's heart, Pope Francis renewed the call of the universal Church to pray for, help heal and proactively protect children from the terrible sin of sexual abuse,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a September 16 statement.

“This universal expression of healing and sorrow, joined by our brothers and sisters around the world, will be a powerful reminder that no survivor should walk the path toward healing alone,” he said.

The Worldwide Day of Prayer was originally suggested at the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) Plenary Assembly by a survivor of clerical child sexual abuse.

Pope Francis approved the notion, and encouraged each National Bishops Conference to hold the day of prayer on a suitable date within each prospective country. Australia already held their prayer day on September 11, and South Africa announced a prayer weekend from December 2-4. The Philippines are planning to determine a date in the near future.

The administrative committee for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops began discussing the day of prayer for abuse victims last week, but have yet to announce a date. Archbishop Kurtz hopes that the day of prayer will bring healing to wounded victims and grace to prevent future abuses.

“For whenever we have failed to protect our children from predators, we beg God's forgiveness. For wherever we have failed to support victims of sexual abuse, we beg their forgiveness,” Archbishop Kurtz said.

The Kentucky archbishop also underscored the progress the Church has made to fight sexual abuse, pointing to diocesan programs such as the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, saying “we have learned from the pain of such moments to motivate a rigorous prevention program.”

In addition, the Church has also made strides in preventing abuse by pursuing a proactive approach in reforming church law. The Church has also removed clergy who have committed abuses and opened meetings between victims and the Holy Father.

Archbishop Kurtz noted that many parishes in the United States have benefited from past prayer days and reconciliation services, saying that the faithful should always pray for abuse survivors and for prevention in the future.

“Let us pray that we may never become complacent in our prayer and protection,” Archbishop Kurtz stated.

“If you have been the victim of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, notify law enforcement and please know there is a victim assistance coordinator in every U.S. diocese ready to help. They are trained and ready to receive your call.”


Catholic Girl Scouts serve others
| September 19, 2016


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RIDGEFIELD—On Saturday, September 17, the American Heritage Girls organization celebrated its “Day of Service” encouraging all its members to serve their local communities.


American Heritage Girls Catholic Troop CT6877 of Ridgefield spent their morning serving at The Thomas Merton Center Soup Kitchen. The girls ages 6-13 began the day by setting up the tables and chairs, putting out mums and setting up goodie bags for distribution.

After singing grace, they assisted serving food, condiments and even playing games with a few of the Thomas Merton Center clients.

Jennifer Mitchell, troop coordinator shared "I was touched and amazed at the willingness of these amazing girls to get up at 6 am, travel 45 minutes and instead of soccer games and cartoons they chose to spend their morning serving as Christ did. The smiles were wide and frequent and were as common among the scouts as they were among the clients being served with such love and care, I honestly could not tell you who enjoyed it more."

After the service experience the troop gathered and shared favorite memories. The list was long and included amazing moments with the clients exchanging fist bumps, playing a game or just making someone smile! All in all it was a great success and beautiful experience.

American Heritage Girls is the premier national character development organization for young women that embraces Christian values and encourages family involvement. To learn more about AHG, find a troop or consider starting aa troop at your parish please visit their website https://www.americanheritagegirls.org

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A diocesan journey of faith
| September 19, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—On Saturday, November 5, 1-6 pm, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will consecrate the Diocese of Bridgeport to the Sacred Heart of Jesus at St. Augustine Cathedral.
 


ASKING OUR LADY’S BLESSING—The bishop concluded the Synod Celebration Mass
by kneeling in silent prayer before thousands at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport
and dedicating the diocese to our Blessed Mother. The new statue, donated for the occasion,
is now enshrined at St. Augustine Cathedral.

This act is the culmination of the consecration of the diocese to Mary’s protection under the title of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which took place at the Synod Celebration Mass on September 19, 2015. The pilgrimage and consecration of the diocese were announced at Synod 2014 as the prayerful foundation for the change and renewal underway in the diocese based on synod initiatives to create more vibrant and welcoming parish communities.

“It is my hope that the faithful throughout the diocese will join us for this pilgrimage of prayer and consecration. We have so much to be thankful for, and so much more work to do. Putting our faith and trust in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and our Blessed Mother will help us in our personal and diocesan pilgrimage of faith and renewal,” said the bishop.

The original plan for the pilgrimage was to travel to Washington, D.C., to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. However, the plans were changed to accommodate those who wished to participate in the pilgrimage but could not make the trip to Washington.

“After receiving feedback from pastors and various ecclesial movements in the diocese, the venue was changed so that there could be greater participation in this important event. So we’ve made it a local day of prayer and pilgrimage,” said Msgr. Thomas Powers, vicar general of the diocese.

Msgr. Powers said that while many people think of pilgrimages as something from the past, they are still very much part of the Church’s life.

“Pilgrimages are privileged, spiritual opportunities for all of us to grow in our faith. Just as our whole lives are a journey through time, with the goal of that journey being to reach safely the presence of Christ himself, so too a pilgrimage is a journey made by a person of faith to a site which holds some deep spiritual significance,” he said.

Pope Francis has encouraged the faithful to consider a pilgrimage as an instrument of conversion. “The practice of pilgrimage has a special place in the Holy Year, because it represents the journey each of us makes in this life. Life itself is a pilgrimage, and the human being is a viator, a pilgrim travelling along the road.”

The schedule for the day is as follows:

1 pm         Arrival
1:15 pm    Welcome and Opening Remarks
1:30 pm    Recitation of the Scriptural Rosary (Start of Confessions)
2 pm         Eucharistic Adoration and Presentation by Father Andrew Apostoli, CFR
3 pm         Divine Mercy Chaplet (Conclusion of Confessions)
3:30 pm    Break
4 pm         Eucharistic Celebration (with Consecration)

For four weeks leading up to the consecration on November 5, all parishes and schools will receive weekly catechetical essays, which are designed to help the diocesan family understand and prepare for the event. The essays will be made available through parish bulletins, school memoranda and on school website, said Msgr. Powers.

The essays will also appear in the next issue of Fairfield County Catholic and on the diocesan website.

The four topics are: I. The Meaning of Christian Pilgrimage, II. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, III. Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and IV. The Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Bishop Caggiano is also calling for a day of fasting and abstinence on Friday, November 4, in solidarity of faith and for reparation for sin. All persons between the ages of 18 and 59 are invited to abstain from meat and to take only one full meal and two smaller meals that together are not equal to the full meal.

The bishop will also ask pastors to use the prayers for the Votive Mass for the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus for all Masses celebrated in the Diocese of Bridgeport on Sunday, November 6 (including the Saturday Vigil Masses).

“Together with Pope Francis, who reminds us that ‘mercy is a goal to reach, and requires dedication and sacrifice,’ let us pray that we, together with our brothers and sisters across our diocese, will respond enthusiastically to this invitation to grace, so that our diocesan pilgrimage and consecration on November 5 will be a day of joy, and of lasting grace, for this local Church in this Jubilee Year of Mercy,” said Msgr. Powers.

All are welcome to attend.

(For further information about the pilgrimage, contact, Janet Davis: 203.416.1636 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)


Exhibit of St. Thomas More artifacts debuts at St. John Paul II shrine
| September 17, 2016 • by Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service


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WASHINGTON—A new exhibit featuring artifacts revolving around St. Thomas More has opened at the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington.


Titled "God's Servant First: The Life and Legacy of Thomas More," the exhibit runs through March 31. The title comes from what are believed to be More's last words before going to the chopping block where he was beheaded: "I die the king's good servant, and God's servant first."

Nearly all of the 60 or so items in the exhibit come from Stonyhurst College in England, according to Jan Graffius, the curator of collections at Stonyhurst, a Jesuit institution. The Knights of Columbus and Stonyhurst's Christian Heritage Center organized the exhibit and are its sponsors.

To be able to have so many artifacts is remarkable, Graffius told Catholic News Service September 15, the day before the exhibit opened, as she and her team were putting the finishing touches on the exhibit. King Henry VIII, who had St. Thomas More imprisoned in the Tower of London for more than a year before his execution, and subsequent monarchs had made Roman Catholicism virtually illegal and had all traces of Catholicism wiped out.

St. Thomas More, a lawyer and the first layman to serve as chancellor of England, had balked at helping Henry VIII obtain an annulment so he could marry Anne Boleyn in hopes of bearing him a son to be heir to the throne. After the pope denied the annulment, Henry declared himself head of the church in England, conferring upon himself the power to divorce and marry whomever he pleased.

More, who also was a husband and father, resigned his position as chancellor to the throne to avoid being forced to acknowledge Henry VIII as head of the church. But after a law was passed requiring acknowledgment by all Britons of Henry's authority, More refused to sign a document stating as such. He was ultimately imprisoned, convicted of a capital treason with the help of perjured testimony, and beheaded. He has since been seen as a champion of conscience rights.

The luckless first wife of Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon, spent her last days before her own death, possibly from poisoning, embroidering grapes onto a chasuble. That chasuble is in the exhibit.

Anne Boleyn wasn't all that lucky, either. After bearing a daughter—Elizabeth I—and later miscarrying, she fell into Henry's disfavor, was imprisoned on trumped-up charges of adultery, incest and treason, was herself beheaded 11 months after Thomas More, and buried not far from him, Graffius said.

Two relics in the exhibit made their way to the United States a few months ahead of the rest of the artifacts. One is a jawbone fragment of St. Thomas More; the other is a ring worn by St. John Fisher, who was also martyred under Henry VIII. Both were on exhibit during the U.S. bishops' "Fortnight for Freedom" activities in June and July.

The anti-Catholic laws imposed by Henry VIII stayed on the books in England for nearly three centuries until they were repealed in 1829. In 1886, St. Thomas More was beatified. In 1935, both he and St. John Fisher, who had been executed a few months before More, were both canonized. St. Thomas More was added to the Anglican calendar of saints in 1980.

Because of the anti-Catholic laws, Graffius said, Catholic parents had to sneak their children out of the country, sometimes under false identities, so they could receive a Catholic education. One of those schools was in the Spanish Netherlands—mostly modern-day Belgium and Luxembourg—and was the forerunner to Stonyhurst College.

St. Thomas More was part of the martyrology proclaimed every day at the school. The exhibit includes a schoolbook used by two brothers who eventually made their way to the United States. On one page of the book, an illustration of two men was defaced when one of the students sketched the men as smoking pipes. To this day, she added, nobody knows whether the pipes were added by John Carroll, the first Catholic archbishop in the United States, or his brother Charles Carroll, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence.

In 2000, St. John Paul II made St. Thomas More, who had already been the patron saint of lawyers, the patron saint of statesman and politicians. The pontiff said his life and martyrdom offered a testimony that "spans the centuries" and "speaks to people everywhere of the inalienable dignity of the human conscience."

Patrick Kelly, the shrine's executive director, said in a statement that St. Thomas More's example "remains thoroughly modern."

"He is an eloquent example of courageous Christian discipleship, and it is our hope that this exhibit will inspire others to imitate his virtues and his extraordinary fidelity to God and to a well-formed conscience," Kelly added.

The exhibit comes during the golden anniversary of the 1966 film biography of St. Thomas More, "A Man for All Seasons." Recently restored with a new Technicolor print, "A Man for All Seasons"—based on the stage play of the same name—grossed the fifth-best box office numbers of the year, a stunning accomplishment given that it wasn't released until December 12 that year and the weightiness of its subject matter.

The movie was nominated for eight Oscars and won six, including Best Picture, Best Director for Fred Zinneman and Best Actor for Paul Scofield as Thomas More. It also won five British Academy Film Awards and four Golden Globes, as well as a Best Actor award for Scofield at the Moscow International Film Festival.


Diocesan Statement on hearing and oral argument related to its motion for a protective order in Bridgeport Superior Court
| September 16, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—The Diocese has agreed to and has spent many, many hours satisfying Tremont and Sheldon’s discovery demand to review and disclose any and all information found in priest personnel files, including priests not accused of anything.

Their request has been extremely broad and has involved the personnel records of numerous priests with long and successful careers who have never had an allegation brought against them. These priests are not in any way implicated in the current cases, and the Diocese has complied with the request, producing the documents. However, it is seeking to limit the use of this information outside of the current cases at issue.  
 
In producing the files of priests not implicated in current cases, the Diocese has requested confidential treatment of certain information including but not limited to, medical records. As the diocese commits to full transparency and accountability with respect to any allegation of abuse, it also has the responsibility and the obligation to protect the privacy of priests in good standing from having their personal information publicly disclosed.
 
The Diocese has repeatedly asked the team at Tremont and Sheldon to agree to mediate the cases in order to reach a settlement. They have refused to mediate each and every time, even when the request has been made in the presence of Judge Bellis.
 
It is noteworthy that while the Tremont and Sheldon cases have been pending without any resolution for the benefit of the alleged victims, the Diocese has successfully settled through mediation several cases involving other attorneys.
 
While the Diocese responds to this challenge, it continues to reaffirm its commitment to zero tolerance of child abuse, to remove from ministry anyone who has been credibly accused, and to bring healing and support to the victims and their families.


Bishop tells future healthcare professionals to be Ministers of Mercy
| September 15, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—“You’re at the frontline of suffering. You enter the rooms of those who are suffering and serve as ministers of Mercy,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano to 250 students and faculty of St. Vincent’s College.



The bishop delivered his homily at the 2016 Convocation Mass, held in the Hawley Conference Center. The event also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the transition from the School of Nursing to St. Vincent’s College.

Priests from the St. Vincent’s Pastoral Care Department con-celebrated the Mass with the Bishop, while students and faculty members delivered the readings and responses. Vince Caponi, newly named CEO of St. Vincent’s Health Services was also in attendance.

Speaking on the Feast of The Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the Bishop said that suffering is part of the human condition, but people can choose to transform it though the eyes of faith and mercy.

“In suffering we can choose to surrender ourselves to the will of God and trust in his great love,” said the bishop.

The bishop noted that when Jesus appeared to the apostles after his death, he had the “wounds of the cross on his hands and in his side. Even in glory, Christ bears the wounds of his passion,” said the bishop.

“The cross reveals a God who is not afraid to stand by his people in their suffering
God is never closer to the human hear than in the moment of suffering,” the bishop said as an ambulance siren sounded outside the building.

The bishop said that even when healthcare workers cannot reverse the course of suffering, they can help to bring life and healing.

“You enter into the wounded-ness of others,” he said. “Thank you for being ministers of mercy,” he told the future healthcare professionals.

During the ceremony, Bishop Caggiano blessed the new chalice and paten purchased for the St. Vincent’s Medical Center Chapel. He also blessed the St. Vincent’s College Flag, which was raised on the Main Street flagpole following Mass.

Mike Gargano, President of St. Vincent’s College, called his convocation “an historic moment,” and asked students to think of the new flag as a symbol of the school’s history, which began with the “vision of the Daughters of Charity to serve the poorest and sickest among us.”

President Gargano said the Sisters didn’t do their work “for recognition,” and he urged students to always keep in mind that “nothing matters if we don’t serve others.”

Dr. Karen Barnett, Dean of Health Services of St. Vincent’s College, delivered the welcome.

“We are children of God called to share his mercy and we are citizen of the nation called to serve the community,” she said.

Founded in 1905 as the St. Vincent’s Hospital Training School for Nurses by the Daughters of Charity and known for decades as the School of Nursing, St. Vincent’s College has graduated generations of nurses and other allied health professionals. In 1991, the School was officially incorporated as St. Vincent’s College, ushering in a new era of growth. Over 4,500 alumni represent radiographers, cardiovascular technologists, medical assistants, nurses and others healthcare professionals.

St. Vincent’s College is located at 2800 Main Street, Bridgeport, Connecticut. On the web: stvincentscollege.edu


Catholic School students catch a day at the Bluefish!
| September 14, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—The Office of the Superintendent of Schools recently took a sort of “school field trip.” The education department attended a Bridgeport Bluefish baseball day game to represent the 31 Catholic schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport.



The Bluefish offered the Superintendent, Dr. Steven Cheeseman, and his staff complimentary tickets as part of their Non-Profit Appreciation Day initiative.

Dr. Cheeseman had the privilege of throwing out the first pitch; however the newly appointed superintendent extended the offer to a student. “While I am honored to have been selected, I thought it would be more fitting if a student from one of our schools had this opportunity for a memorable experience,” commented Dr. Cheeseman.

Anthony Virgile, a 15 year old student at St. Catherine Academy Special Needs School in Fairfield was chosen.  Dr. Cheeseman joined Anthony and his principal, Brian Farrell, on the mound to start the game. Anthony admits he was a little nervous but no signs were evident to those in the stadium. “I was very impressed by his demeanor. He was confident, yet humble. He proudly represented our Catholic schools in the diocese,” observed the Superintendent.

The crowd cheered as Anthony threw a strike! Anthony’s smile was visible all the way from the sky box. He remarked, “I can’t believe they picked our school. I am so happy to have been chosen!”

In addition to the students and staff of St. Catherine Academy, the fourth grade from St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School in Fairfield was also in attendance. Students from St. Thomas School participated in many on-field promotions which included a dance competition and a race against the Bluefish mascot.


Trinity Catholic High School Christens New Multi-Purpose Athletic Field
| September 12, 2016


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STAMFORD—Sixteen months after the Most Reverend Bishop Frank Caggiano presided over the ground breaking for the new Trinity Catholic High School multi-purpose athletic field, Interim Principal, Tony Pavia, welcomed donors, students, faculty, staff, parents, and dignitaries from the Diocese of Bridgeport to the christening of the new multi-purpose athletic field.

Following first Friday Mass everyone made their way down to the new field for the christening ceremony for Gaglio Field.

Founded in 1958, Trinity Catholic High School is a Catholic co-educational college preparatory high school in the Diocese of Bridgeport, with a long tradition of excellence in academics, athletics and community service. Trinity Catholic is committed to educating the whole person within the Roman Catholic tradition. The school provides an atmosphere of respect and reverence in which each member is able to develop spiritually, morally, intellectually, socially, and physically in order to live as a positive Christian witness and responsible citizen in the service of God and others.


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The City went Silent | Bishop Caggiano’s Reflection on 9/11
| September 11, 2016


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It was a moment that I will never forget. It happened around 3:00 PM on September 11, 2001, a few hours after the horrible attacks against our country and their terrible aftermath began to unfold. It is a moment that taught me a great lesson about the true meaning of this day of remembrance and prayer.


I had just walked out of the rectory of Saint Dominic’s Parish in Brooklyn where I served as pastor. I had spent the entire morning alternating between watching on television with disbelief the unfolding of the horrors of that morning and consoling parents and spouses of my parishioners who worked at the World Trade Center, frantic with fear and panic, seeking some word of comfort in a time of great uncertainty and anxiety. I walked out to clear my mind and simply to catch my breath and what I experienced was a moment of absolute quiet- a silence that enveloped the entire city. Having lived my whole life in the city, I had never “heard” so deep and compelling a silence. For a brief moment, there were no trains, buses, planes and cars anywhere to be seen. The streets were empty. The only sound I could hear was my own heartbeat.

That one single moment of silence spoke strongly of the spiritual challenge of that day. For on one hand, the silence was a natural response to the face of such grave evil. For what response can anyone of good will give to such vile and senseless hate? There are no adequate words to express our revulsion to such evil, to address the anguish of so many, to answer the cries of help that arose that morning. The only response is one of silence.

However, that moment of silence was also for anyone of faith a moment of sacred defiance against such evil. It was a call to stand in hope that Christ’s love will enter into moments of such tragedy. For I remember that as I was standing in awe of the silence around me, it was the peal of the Church bells ringing at 3:00 in the afternoon that broke the silence. They were signaling the hour of Christ’s victory over sin, evil and death itself. Christ in His great mercy was reminding me and everyone willing to listen that His love will never be conquered. Those bells sang the victory that is ours in Christ.

There are those in our world who promote an agenda of hate, destroying life with no regard. However, Christ has already conquered their agenda and whatever they may chose to do. For in the end, as disciples of Christ, we must stand firm against evil, sin and hatred and never lose hope that love will conquer all things.

As we remember those who died fifteen years ago this day and ask the Lord to grant them eternal life, let us enter the silence of this day with hope. For in that silence, we will remember that Christ always stands with us, especially in the hour of our greatest need.


A National Day of Prayer and Remembrance: Blue Mass, 2016
| September 11, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—“Each of you are our community’s first responders. You’re there 24/7. We know you by name,” said Fr. Victor Martin in his homily for the 15th Annual Blue Mass held this morning at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Fairfield.
 

Almost 600 people turned out to honor local police, fire and first responders and commemorate all those lost in the 9/11/2001 terrorist acts.

They processed into the Church to the tune of “America the Beautiful,” while the stirring recessional began with “Taps,” followed by the National Anthem and the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

The church was filled with men and women in uniform and the bright honor guard flags they carried down the aisle.

“Fifteen years and it seems like yesterday,” said Fr. Martin, Pastor of St. Thomas, who noted that 2,996 were killed on that day and another 6,000 injured in the attacks on New York, Washington D.C. and over the skies of Pennsylvania.

Fr. Martin said he had recently visited the 9/11 Museum and was struck by an inscription on the ceiling, “We came in as individuals but we walked out together.”

In praising local police, fire and rescue workers, Fr. Martin said they are always ready to save others at the worst moments. “You enter at your own risk. From our hearts, we thank you May God bless you always and always keep you safe.”

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano con-celebrated the Mass with Fr. Martin and other priests from the diocese. “When you run into danger, Christ’s victory comes with you He stands with you every step of the way,” the Bishops said to all those who serve.

At the end of Mass, Bishop Caggiano presented special awards for compassion, service and bravery to Greenwich Police Sergeant Michael B. O’Connor; Norwalk Police Officer Mark Suda; Fairfield Police Officer Mark Letsch; Sir Knight Angelo Fernandes of Bridgeport; and long-time police and fire Chaplain Msgr. Willam J. Scheyd, Pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan.

Msgr. Scheyd became the first diocese priest to receive special recognition at the Blue Mass. The gathering rose to give him a standing ovation for his 51 years of service as a priest and Fire, Police, and EMT Chaplain throughout Fairfield County.

The Blue Mass takes its name from the blue uniforms worn by police, fire and emergency services personnel. Founded by Bishop William E. Lori, the Blue Mass was initiated to celebrate the life and heroism of those who died during the 9-11 terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D. C.. Each year it also recognizes local First Responders.

Music for the 9/11 Mass was provided by the St. Thomas Aquinas Choir under the direction of David Harris. The Mass is sponsored each year by the Fairfield County Councils and Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus.


BLUE MASS AWARD RECIPIENTS

SERGEANT MICHAEL B. O’CONNOR
Greenwich Police Department

Sergeant Michael O'Connor was nominated by Greenwich Police Department Chief Jim Heavey. “Sergeant O’Connor is a shining example of selfless service and an inspiration to his fellow police officers and to the Greenwich community,” said Chief Heavey. Sergeant O’Connor has a history of helping those in crisis, both locally and nationally. From relief work after Hurricane Sandy to repairing homes in West Virginia, collecting coats for the poor, helping orphans, working with those recovering from addiction, and building schools in Guatemala, Sergeant O’Connor is a man of service for others. He is a thirty-year veteran of the Greenwich Police Department.


OFFICER MARK SUDA
Norwalk Police Department

A 22 year veteran of the Norwalk Police Department, Officer Mark Suda was chosen as Officer of the Year for 2015.This year, Officer Suda has displayed this professionalism once again by taking into custody several dangerous and armed subjects and spearheading the efforts of the Special Services Division while providing a stellar example that inspires his fellow officers. “Throughout the entirety of his career, Officer Suda has excelled in virtually every aspect of police work. His knowledge of the city, its residents and his ability to collaborate with other agencies has proven to be an invaluable resource to the department,” said Chief Thomas Kulhawik .


OFFICER MARK LETSCH
Fairfield Police Department

Officer Mark Letsch has been a member of the law enforcement community for 17 years. During that time he has shown energy and dedication to the “Often times police officers are honored for a onetime event that changed or saved a life. Officer Mark Letsch has over his career carried himself in such a way that large or small, public or not, his contributions have had great impact on many,” said Chief Gary McNamara. Officer Letsch is Coordinator of the Honor Guard and often represents the police department at public events. In all of his activities including as a member of the Emergency Services Unit, he works to make Fairfield safe.


SIR KNIGHT ANGELO FERNANDEZ
General Philip T. Sheridan Assembly 107
Knights of Columbus, Bridgeport


In the sad months that followed the “Attack on America” and the deaths of almost 3,000 innocent people, the Knights of Columbus proposed to the Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport that there be an annual Blue Mass on a Sunday close to September 11 to remember those who died and to thank those first responders, police, fire fighters and EMTs who protect us in our Fairfield County. One of the driving forces was Bridgeport Knight Angelo Fernandez. Angelo has also been involved with many other charitable activities such as its assistance to the Thomas Merton House of Hospitality, the Annual Celebration of Marriage as part of St. Margaret Shrine Festival and St. Joseph Convalescence Home.


MSGR. WILLIAM J. SCHEYD
Police, Fire and EMS Chaplain, Pastor of St. Aloysius Parish, New Canaan

A native of Bridgeport who was ordained to the priesthood in 1965, Msgr. William Joseph Scheyd got his initial taste of being a chaplain during his assignment as an associate pastor at St. Mary’s in Norwalk. Just around the corner from the church was the Norwalk Hospital. With proximity came responsibility. According to Msgr. Scheyd: “It’s one of the few jobs where you’re asked to do just about everything on the first day,” The young priest went right in at the deep end—anointing the sick, comforting the bereaved, praying for lost souls. For his 51 years of service to the people of the Diocese of Bridgeport and to the Police, Fire and EMS personnel in Norwalk and New Canaan during these 51 years of ministry, the Diocese of Bridgeport and the Knights of Columbus recognize Msgr. William J. Scheyd.


Watch: Special Report: Blue Mass For First Responders

Read: Bishop Caggiano's reflection


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St. Matthew Knights and Catholic Daughters Join Notre Dame Convalescent Home Residents and Staff in Special Mass in Remembrance of 9/11
| September 11, 2016


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NORWALK—In a solemn outdoor ceremony held on Saturday morning, September 11 on the beautiful grounds of Notre Dame Convalescent Home in Norwalk, members of Council 14360 were joined by their families as well as residents and staff of Notre Dame at a special Mass in remembrance of those who lost their lives fifteen years ago on September 11, 2001.

"It is a true honor to pay respects to those lost on 9-11-01," said Past Grand Knight and newly elected Faithful Navigator of Bishop Fenwick Assembly 100.

On a bright, sunny morning, Notre Dame residents, along with staff, volunteers, a Knights Color Guard and a bagpiper formed a procession across the Notre Dame grounds to a special area where the Mass was held.

Father Reggie Norman, Pastor of Our Lady of Fatima parish (Wilton) and Faithful Friar of Knights of Columbus Bishop Fenwick Assembly 100 was the celebrant of the Mass. Special American flags bearing the names of 9/11 victims were part of the ceremony as well.

Father Reggie in his homily about the 9-11 Anniversary said, "What this day of remembrance allows us to do is to reflect, to recall tragic events and to give thanks for the men and women and children whose stories give us proof of the best of human virtue. This anniversary is a call to live in faith, in forgiveness, and in the truth that the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is our life, our destiny our hope as human beings and specifically as Christians."

The Mass was coordinated by Notre Dame’s Sister Lucie Monast, SSTV, with assistance from Knights of Columbus St Matthew Council 14360 and members of Catholic Daughters, Court St. Matthew, #2640. Following the Mass, a special picnic was held for all attendees which the Knights helped serve. It was truly a special and memorable morning for all.

"It was a wonderful day to honor those whose lives were lost on that sad day, and I thank everyone who took part in this ceremony", said Grand Knight Scott Criscuolo.

The goals of the Knights of Columbus Council at Saint Matthew Church in Norwalk is to perform acts of charity. Pr4oviding those in need with a range of support from financial to tactical help in dealing with a wide variety of challenges. Council members work together to foster the founding principles of our order; Charity, Unity, Fraternity & Patriotism. Our goal as a council is to continue to identify specific needs in our community and muster support and help to alleviate these challenges and hardships to the best of our abilities and resources. For more information, please go to www.saintmatthewknights.com.

Watch: Special Report: Blue Mass For First Responders  |  Read: Bishop Caggiano's reflection


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Week in Review
| September 09, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Diocesan Social Media Leader John Grosso has posted a new Week in Review, which offers a 60-second glimpse into many of the good things happening in the Diocese.

This week John takes you to MetLife Stadium, where Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, a lifelong Mets fan, hosted an evening for young adults. Next up is the St. Andrew Dinner, which gives young men interested in the priesthood an opportunity to meeting the Bishop and other priests.

This week's video also take you to the Mass for Young Adults celebrated by Fr. Andrew Vill at the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist in Stamford. For up to date news, photos, and stories about the diocese, click to view this diocesan social media directory: http://www.bridgeportdiocese.org/dobsocial/home/


Lemonade stand donation
| September 09, 2016


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DANBURY—Sweet special thanks go to fourth grade students Sophie Ahlberg and Christina Ward, who donated their weekend lemonade stand earnings to St. Gregory the Great School. They are putting their faith into action and living this year’s school theme of being the eyes, hands and feet of Christ in our world.


"St. Gregory’s is very proud of them and grateful for their donation," said Principal Mrs. Suzanne M Curra. "Preparing our students for an ever-changing world requires them to have a strong moral and educational foundation. Our goal is for each and every one of our students to be kind, giving, responsible, problem-solving citizens of the 21st century. Therefore, we are committed to academic excellence in a nurturing, faith-based environment. Not only do our students learn and explore their faith in class every day, but they also put the basic principles of our Catholic identity into action.

"Our students live Jesus Christ’s message of service to others, as demonstrated when they participate at Mass and prayer services, organize clothing drives, and donate to our local food pantry. Our middle school students model the importance of helping others when they spend time assisting our younger students with special class projects, " she said.

St. Gregory the Great is a Pre-School through Grade 8 school located at 85 Great Plain Rd,Danbury, CT 06810. Phone: (203) 748-1217, Grades PK-8. Please call for an appointment, 203-748-1217. Visit the website: http://www.saintgregoryschool.org/


BLUE MASS: A tradition of honor and reverence
| September 06, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—The Annual Diocesan Blue Mass honoring fire, police and rescue workers will be held on Sunday September 11, 9 am at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 1719 Post Road, Fairfield.


A reception immediately following Mass will be held in the St. Thomas Parish Center. Police, Fire and other First Responders throughout the diocese will be honored at this year’s Blue Mass.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the main celebrant along with diocesan priests who serve as police and fire chaplains in Fairfield County.  Fr. Charles Allen, special assistant to the President of Fairfield University, is serving as chairman of the event.
 
Law Enforcement, Fire and Emergency Medical Service personnel of all faiths in Fairfield County along with members of the general public are invited to attend the Mass and reception.
 
In keeping with the Blue Mass tradition, Bishop Caggiano will present special awards for compassion, service and bravery to Greenwich Police Sergeant Michael B. O’Connor; Norwalk Police Officer Mark Suda; Fairfield Police Officer Mark Letsch; Angelo Fernandes; Sir Knights of Columbus Angelo Fernandez of Bridgeport; and long-time police and fire Chaplain Msgr. Willam J. Scheyd, Pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan.
 
The Blue Mass has grown into a moving and memorable commemoration of the courage and commitment of the uniformed personnel who protect the health and safety of people every day of the year in Fairfield County. The Fairfield County Councils and Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus are sponsoring the Mass again this year.
 
Priest and Fire chaplains now at work throughout the diocese: Rev. Charles H. Allen, S.J., Fairfield Town Emergency Services; Rev. Michael A. Boccaccio, Norwalk Police Department; Rev. David W. Blanchfield, Norwalk Police Department; Msgr. Laurence R. Bronkiewicz, Ridgefield Police Department; Msgr. Stephen M. DiGiovanni, Stamford Police Department; Rev. Bruce Roby, Stratford Fire Department; Rev. Thomas P. Thorne, Westport Police and Fire Departments  and Federal Bureau of Investigation; Rev. Francis T. Hoffmann, Noroton Fire Department; Rev. Christopher Perrella, Noroton Heights Fire Department; Deacon John J. Moranski; Bridgeport Police Department;
 
Also, Deacon William D. Murphy, Germantown Fire Department; Rev. Samuel V. Scott, Danbury Police Department; Rev. Robert J. Post; Stamford Fire Department; Msgr. William J. Scheyd, New Canaan Emergency Services and  Norwalk Fire Department; Msgr. Richard J. Shea, Trumbull Police Department;  Rev. Terrence P. Walsh, Stamford Police Department; Rev. Frank A. Winn, Glenville Fire Department; Rev. Michael Dunn, Weston Police and Fire Departments; Rev. Joseph Cervero, Redding Police Department; Deacon Frank Masso, Huntington Volunteer Fire Company No. 3; Rev. Nicholas Pavia; Stratford Police Department.
 
The Blue Mass takes its name from the blue uniforms worn by police, fire and emergency services personnel.  Founded by Bishop William E. Lori, the Blue Mass was initiated to celebrate the life and heroism of those who died during the 9-11 terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. Each year it also recognizes local First Responders.
 
If you would like to learn more about this event, please feel free to contact Janet Davis, 203.416.1636, email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


St. Teresa of Kolkata will always be 'Mother' Teresa, pope says
| September 04, 2016 • by By Junno Arocho Esteves and Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service


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VATICAN CITY—With a large tapestry bearing the portrait of the woman known as the "Saint of the Gutters" suspended above him, Pope Francis proclaimed the sainthood of Mother Teresa of Kolkata, hailing her courage and love for the poor.

Click here for the story at Catholic News Service


Despite the formality of the occasion though, "her sanctity is so close to us, so tender and fruitful, that spontaneously we will continue to call her 'Mother Teresa,'" Pope Francis said to applause at the canonization Mass September 4.

"Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defense of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded," the pope said in his homily during the Mass in St. Peter's Square.

An estimated 120,000 people packed the square, many holding umbrellas or waving fans to keep cool under the sweltering heat of the Roman sun. However, upon hearing Pope Francis "declare and define Blessed Teresa of Kolkata to be a saint," the crowds could not contain their joy, breaking out in cheers and thunderous applause before he finished speaking.

The moment was especially sweet for more than 300 Albanians who live in Switzerland, but came to Rome for the canonization. "We are very proud," said Violet Barisha, a member of the Albanian Catholic Mission in St. Gallen.

Daughter of Divine Charity Sister Valdete, a Kosovar and one of the Albanian group's chaplains, said, "We are so happy and honored. We are a small people, but have had so many martyrs."

Born in 1910 to an ethnic Albanian family in Skopje, in what is now part of Macedonia, Mother Teresa went to India in 1929 as a Sister of Loreto and became an Indian citizen in 1947. She founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950.

Mother Teresa, Sister Valdete said, is a shining example of how "Albanian women are strong and our people are hardworking."

In his homily, Pope Francis said God's will is explained in the words of the prophets: "I want mercy, not sacrifice."

"God is pleased by every act of mercy because in the brother or sister that we assist, we recognize the face of God which no one can see," he said. "Each time we bend down to the needs of our brothers and sisters, we give Jesus something to eat and drink; we clothe, we help and we visit the Son of God."

Like Mother Teresa, he said, Christians are called not simply to perform acts of charity, but to live charity as a vocation and "to grow each day in love."

"Wherever someone is reaching out, asking for a helping hand in order to get up, this is where our presence—and the presence of the church which sustains and offers hope—must be," the pope said.

Mother Teresa, he said, lived out this vocation to charity through her commitment to defending the unborn and bowing down "before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road."

She also "made her voice heard before the powers of this world so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime of poverty they created," Pope Francis said. "For Mother Teresa, mercy was the 'salt' which gave flavor to her work, it was the 'light' which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering."

For all Christians, especially volunteers engaged in works of mercy, the life of the saintly nun remains an example and witness to God's closeness to the poorest of the poor, he said.

"Today, I pass on this emblematic figure of holiness!" Pope Francis said. "May this tireless worker of mercy help us to increasingly understand that our only criterion for action is gratuitous love, free from every ideology and all obligations, offered freely to everyone without distinction of language, culture, race or religion."

As she made her way through the tight security and past several closed streets to St. Peter's Square, Maria Demuru said, "I couldn't miss this. Even if there's no place left for me to sit."

The small Italian woman said, "Mother Teresa is a sign of the times. In her smallness, she revealed the calling we all have. She said we are all saints by our baptism and we must recover our original holiness. She lived in humility and simplicity like the poor of the earth and was never ashamed of that."

Mother Teresa's simplicity did not keep the powerful away from the Mass, though. Some 20 nations sent official delegations to the Vatican for the canonization. Queen Sofia of Spain led a delegation. The president and prime minister of Albania attended, as did the presidents of Macedonia and Kosovo and the foreign minister of India.

President Barack Obama sent a delegation led by Lisa Monaco, his assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism. The U.S. delegation also included Ken Hackett, ambassador to the Holy See; Carolyn Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services; and Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA.

The first reading at the Mass was read by Jim Towey, who served as Mother Teresa's legal counsel in the United States and Canada from 1985 to 1997, and as director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, 2002-2006.


Mother Teresa’s order follows humble footsteps
| September 04, 2016 • by By Linda Conner Lambeck from ctpost.com


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BRIDGEPORT—Sister Ana Wim confesses she did not know who she was meeting during her encounter with Mother Teresa in 1976.

Yet, she was awestruck.

Click here for CT post story


“This woman, growing in fame, was so humble and so simple and so easy to relate to,” Wim, said on Friday. “As I came to know her more and more I became filled with the desire to become more humble, more simple ... I can’t say if I succeeded, by I am on the journey.”

She became part of the Missionaries of Charity, a worldwide order founded by Mother Teresa. Since 2001, the mission has had a convent on Beechwood Avenue in Bridgeport, the only one in Connecticut.

At 2 pm Sunday, when Mother Teresa is canonized, all six sisters who live in mission, including Sister Ana Wim, will be among those at a Mass celebrating the event.

The Mass, which is open to the public, will be held around the block from the convent, at St. Peter Church, 695 Colorado Avenue, with Bishop Frank J. Caggiano presiding.

“While we celebrate here in Fairfield County, Pope Francis will be doing the same in Rome,” said the Rev. Joseph Marcello, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull, and coordinator of the Diocesan Year of Mercy.

The Rev. Brian Gannon, pastor of St. Theresa’s in Trumbull, will also participate in the service. He delivers Mass to the Bridgeport Missionaries in their chapel on Monday mornings. Gannon said he met Mother Teresa once in Rome, when he was a seminarian.

“I think Mother Teresa is an incredibly shining example of what being a disciple of Christ is all about,” Gannon said. “She is one of those people everyone thought was a living saint.”

An honored portrait

The pope has declared September 2-4 as a time of Jubilee for Workers of Mercy.

Mother Teresa is already referred to by many as the Saint of Mercy, because she worked among the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, India. Her work earned her a Nobel Peace Prize.

The sisters in her Bridgeport order run an after-school program and do other charity work. They generally shun publicity, but were invited Friday to the installation of a portrait of Mother Teresa at the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven.

Called “St. Teresa of Calcutta: Carrier of God’s Love,” the painting was commissioned by the Knights for the Missionaries of Charity, with whom they have a long. It is that image, created by artist Chas Fagan, a Yale University graduate, that was chosen for the tapestry hanging on the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica at Mother Teresa’s Vatican canonization.

Reproductions of the portrait will be given to the missionaries, including the one in Bridgeport.

“We were thrilled when it was selected to be official image of canonization,” Knights of Columbus Deputy Supreme Knight Logan Ludwig, said.

Ludwig said the Knights have two decades’ worth of correspondence from Mother Teresa, plus an uncashed check she returned when the Knights tried to contribute to the Missionaries of Charity.

“She said, ‘I really don’t want our sisters to be dependent on gifts like this from you all the time,’ ” Ludwig related. “(I’d) rather you send us your Knights and let them work with the poorest of the poor.”

‘An interceder with Jesus’

Ludwig said that’s what the organization did, increasing its efforts to work with folks on the margins of society.

Mother Teresa would visit the Knights in New Haven in 1987. On Friday, it was sisters from her mission, filling the front row of the museum, wearing the same simple white habits with blue trim and plain brown sandals as Mother Teresa.

Sister Seton, a missionary in Bridgeport for more than four years, said the portrait captures the attention Mother Teresa gave to each person.

“She always had a very attentive look in her eye,” Seton said. “At the same time, her eyes are upward. She would always pause, rosary in her hand. She knew she was an interceder with Jesus.”

Sister Seton met Mother Teresa in 1981. She had joined the order only a few months before.

“There was a tremendous grace,” the sister said. “She always encouraged us to be holy.”

“It makes me feel like she is still here with us,” said Mother Magdelena, the mother superior of the Bridgeport convent.


Bagel Breakfast welcomes Trinity Catholic Middle Schoolers
| September 02, 2016


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STAMFORD—Trinity Catholic Middle School in Stamford welcomed 53 incoming 6th graders with a very special orientation on their first day of school.


The Class of 2019 was treated to a bagel breakfast, compliments of the Home School Association, and a special “Blessing of the Backpacks” by Rev. William Quinlan, pastor of St. Gabriel Church in Stamford. Trinity Catholic Middle School Principal, Ms. Abbey Camillery, remarked, “Entering middle school is an exciting and transitioning experience for any ten or eleven year old. It is an event worth celebrating and one worthy of many blessings.”

Students stepped forward with their backpacks, lunch boxes, or just themselves as Fr. Quinlan prayed over them. "We're actually blessing the children. The backpack is just a symbol of children going back to school."

Principal Camillery said she hopes the bagel breakfast and blessing of backpacks become a yearly tradition at Trinity.  

Founded in 1964 as St. Gabriel School, it was established as the only Catholic Middle School in the diocese in 2005. A new wing including classrooms, a gym, and starboards was opened in 2008, and in 2011 Science Labs were added and a technology plan was launched to engage student in the latest advances.

Trinity Catholic Middle School is located at 948 Newfield Avenue, Stamford, CT 06905. For enrollment information, phone: 203.322.7383, or visit the website: http://trinitycatholicms.com/main/


Bishop on Instagram
| September 01, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank Caggiano joined the social networking site Instagram this morning.


In a post on his Facebook page, the Bishop shared his enthusiasm for the new account. “I’m very excited to join you on Instagram today,” the Bishop wrote, “As I begin a new part of my social media ministry, I look forward to sharing with you the beauty of our Catholic faith and journeying with you in this new way!”

The Bishop chose a picture from the recent World Youth Day Reunion, commending the witness, unity, and joy they displayed on the trip. He also prayed that the good work that originated from the pilgrimage to Krakow in July would continue to bear fruit in the coming months.

Bishop Caggiano’s Instagram account will compliment his already strong Twitter and Facebook presence. Over 7,800 faithful “like” his Facebook page, and 2,800 follow him on Twitter. Just 35 minutes after launching the new social media account, Bishop Caggiano had already reached 57 followers.

The Diocese of Bridgeport also maintains a robust social media presence across multiple accounts, including Instagram.

To follow the Bishop’s new account: https://www.instagram.com/bishopfrankcaggiano
Also follow the Diocese of Bridgeport: https://www.instagram.com/dioceseofbridgeport/


EWTN To Air Complete Live Coverage Of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s Canonization
| August 31, 2016


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IRONDALE, AL—The EWTN Global Catholic Network invites viewers to tune in Sunday, September 4 to celebrate the canonization of one of the world’s most beloved contemporary saints—Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. EWTN crews will be on-the-ground in Rome providing viewers with the most complete and authoritative coverage available in English, Spanish, and German.


In addition, the Network will air related events, as well as numerous specials on Mother’s life and legacy, beginning Friday, September 2. (Please see www.ewtn.com/motherteresa for a complete schedule of films and documentaries and to double check times as they are subject to change.

The “Canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta” will air live from Rome at 4 am ET, Sunday, September 4, with encores at 11:30 am ET and 10 pm ET. “EWTN News Nightly” Rome Producer Mary Shovlain and Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo (Host of the “Let Us Love” special on Mother Teresa) will host EWTN’s English language coverage.

Spanish coverage will be hosted by Catholic News Agency/ACI Prensa Executive Director Alejandro Bermúdez and guests. On the German side, Pia Cagianut, who anchored some of the German coverage of the Family Synod, will host, while EWTN Germany’s Robert Rauhut and Martin Rothweiler, EWTN Programming Director Germany, will co-host and provide commentary.

Those who prefer to listen to the canonization can tune into EWTN Global Catholic Radio (English) and EWTN Radio Católica Mundial (Spanish) for live coverage of the canonization.

Other Rome events to be televised include:

“Jubilee for Volunteers and Catechesis on Mother Teresa:” Airs live from Rome at 3:30 am ET Saturday, September 3, with an encore at 11:30 am ET.

“Mother Teresa: Good and Faithful Servant:” Mary Shovlain hosts this special one-hour program, filmed in Rome, on the life of Mother Teresa with interviews and commentary. Airs 4 pm ET, Saturday, September 3, with encores at 10 pm ET that evening, and 10:30 am ET, Sunday, September 4.

“Mass of Thanksgiving for St. Teresa of Calcutta:” Airs live at 3:30 am ET, Monday, September 5, with an encore at noon.

Striving to become a better person? Don't forget to check www.ewtn.com/motherteresa to immerse yourself in inspirational programs celebrating what soon-to-be St. Mother Teresa said and did as a follower of Christ. (Find EWTN at www.ewtn.com/channelfinder.)

EWTN Global Catholic Network, in its 36th year, is the largest religious media network in the world. EWTN’s 11 TV channels are broadcast in multiple languages 24 hours a day, seven days a week to over 265 million television households in more than 145 countries and territories. EWTN services also include radio services transmitted through SIRIUS/XM, iHeart Radio, and over 500 domestic and international AM & FM radio affiliates; a worldwide shortwave radio service; the largest Catholic website in the U.S.; electronic and print news services, including “The National Catholic Register” newspaper, and two global wire services; as well as a publishing arm.


Mass to celebrate Blessed Mother Teresa Canonization, and Jubilee for Workers of Mercy this Sunday at St. Peter’s Church in Bridgeport
| August 31, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—A Mass of Thanksgiving for the Canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the Jubilee for Workers and Volunteers of Mercy Volunteers will be celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano this Sunday, September 4, 2 pm at St. Peter Church, 695 Colorado Avenue, Bridgeport. The Mass is open to all.


“While we celebrate here in Fairfield County, Pope Francis will be doing the same in Rome,” said Fr. Joseph Marcello, Pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Nichols and coordinator of the Diocesan Year of Mercy.

In addition to  celebrating the canonization Mass in St. Peters Square, the Holy Father has declared September 2-4 as a time of Jubilee for Workers of Mercy and invited volunteers and charitable workers to come to the Vatican.

Fr. Marcello said the two events are connected because Mother Teresa is also referred to by many as the Saint of Mercy who worked among the poorest of the poor.

“The Pope has reminded us that we are all called to be workers of Mercy,” Fr. Marcello said.

Fr. Marecello said St. Peter Church in Bridgeport is a fitting place for the Mass because the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa, have a convent there and have done much good work in the Bridgeport area.

The Jubilee of Mercy was formally declared by Pope Francis on April 11, 2015, to emphasize the importance of mercy and to keep alive the spirit of openness of the Second Vatican Council.

Pope Francis proclaimed the Year of Mercy through the opening of a Holy Door at the Vatican and in Churches throughout the world. He said, ″the Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope.″

In response to the Holy Father’s call, the diocese of Bridgeport opened twelve Centers of Mercy, which have provided special hours for Confession throughout the year.

The Centers of Mercy in the diocese that provide the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Tuesday evenings, from 7-8:30 pm, are Holy Spirit, Stamford; St. Matthew, Norwalk; Our Lady of the Assumption, Fairfield; St. Catherine of Siena, Trumbull; St. Joseph, Brookfield; St. Augustine Cathedral, Bridgeport

Centers of Mercy offering Confession on Thursday evenings, from 7-8:30 pm are St. Thomas More, Darien; Assumption, Westport; St. Pius X, Fairfield; St. Theresa, Trumbull; Sacred Heart, Danbury; St. Charles Borromeo, Bridgeport

The Diocese will formally close it’s Holy Door on the Jubilee Year of Mercy on Sunday, November 19, during a Mass celebrated by Bishop Caggiano at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.

Fr. Marcello said that plans call for the diocesan Centers of Mercy to “continue beyond Jubilee Year of Mercy and make it a permanent addition to the life of the Diocese of Bridgeport.”


Faith Formation begins year with renewed energy
| August 31, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—On Monday, August 29, parish Directors and Coordinators of Faith Formation gathered to kick off the new school year.


In addition to affording them time to reconnect and network, they heard from several diocesan department heads who updated them on new and updated programs to assist them in their ministries on the parish level as well as assist their own continued formation as catechetical Leaders. Among them was Patrick Donavan (shown here), director of the Diocesan Leadership Institute, which was formed in response to synod initiatives.

The highlight of the day was the keynote talk from Dr. Michael Carotta, a well-known national catechetical Leader, educational consultant and author. His topic focused on discipleship...the call and the challenges. Each attendee received a copy of his book of the same title. All left renewed and inspired ready to begin the year with passion and excitement!


Students volunteered all summer long
| August 31, 2016


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SHELTON—Students at St. Joseph Elementary School in Shelton were busy volunteering their time this summer to collect food for those in need. Students handed out grocery bags to neighbors, family members, and friends and collected over 700 canned goods to deliver to the Spooner House.


(L-R) Lauren Greenfield, Jeffrey Greenfield,  Gabby MacDaniel,
Megan Greenfield, Adam Greenfield, Ava MacDaniel, Mallory Doyle,
Grace DeDonato, Mark MacDaniel, Giovanni Vetro, and Joshua Greenfield

“We are happy to have the St. Joseph School community helping to refill our food bank shelves during the summer when our non-perishable food supply tends to get very low,” said Susan Agamy, executive director at the Spooner House Homeless Shelter and Food Bank. “Students no longer receive free or reduced breakfast and lunch assistance over the summer break so a lot of local families rely on our food bank during the summer months.”
 
Principal of St. Joseph School Stephen Anderson said, “As a Catholic School, with a keen awareness of the need for mercy and concern for others in our world, this project brings us together in a tangible and meaningful way. It is faith in action.”


Brinkmann to speak at Magnificat Prayer Breakfast
| August 30, 2016


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DANBURY—“Magnificat," a Ministry to Catholic Women will host a prayer breakfast on Saturday, October 1, 9:30 am-12:30 pm at Ethan Allen Inn, Danbury, CT.

Click here for registration form.


Susan Brinkmann, author of the “Women of Grace” Journal, and award winning journalist, will be the guest speaker.

“This is a day designed to speak to the hearts of women, free of distractions,” said Fran Hood, Magnificat Coordinator. “We hope many will  join us at a breakfast for Catholic women where we will share together in the spirit of gratitude and praise of God. Please plan to come and bring a friend to rejoice in the presence of the Lord.”
 
Susan Brinkman, O.C.D.S  is a member of the Third Order of Discalced Carmelites. She is the staff journalist for Women of Grace and is a frequent guest on EWTN’s Women of Grace television show.  Amongst the many books that she has authored she also wrote a book on Carmelite prayer, Lord Teach Us to Pray. Susan also published The Learn to Discern Compendium: Is it Christian or New Age. This book has an imprimatur from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. She recently published the story of her conversion entitled. We need to Talk: God speaks to a Modern Girl.
 
Her most recent publication, which she co-authored with Johnnette Benovic, is the Young Women of Grace Study Program which teaches girls ages 12-17 about what is means to be authentically feminine. She has many national journalism awards including numerous awards from the Catholic Press Association and the Philadelphia Press Association
 
Cost $25 Pre register by Saturday, September 23. No tickets will be sold at the door. For more information, call Fran Hood 203.744.1856 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Rev. Msgr. Edward Scull dies at 90
| August 29, 2016


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BROOKFIELD—The Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Scull, age 90, of Brookfield, the retired Pastor of St. Pius X Church in Fairfield, passed away peacefully, Friday August 26, 2016.


Born in Bridgeport, the son of the late Joseph and Marguerite Scull, he was a graduate of Central High School in Bridgeport and St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield. Msgr. Scull was ordained to the priesthood on May 3, 1951. He served on the faculty at Notre Dame Catholic High School in Fairfield and as Principal of the former Central Catholic High School in Norwalk.

He served as a parochial vicar at St. Mary Church in Bethel. His first position as pastor was at St. Gabriel Church in Stamford. On January 1, 1972 he was installed as pastor of St. Pius X Church, retiring on January 1, 2002. Most recently Msgr. Scull had been a resident priest at St. Joseph's Church in Brookfield.

He enjoyed golfing with family and friends. Survivors include his sister, Mary Anne Dolan of Milford, four nephews; five nieces and ten great-nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by a brother, Joseph Scull; a sister, Marguerite Cleary a brothers-in-law, Joseph Dolan and Francis Cleary and a sister-in-law, Veronica Scull.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by the Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 at 11 am at St. Pius X Church, 834 Brookside Drive, Fairfield. Interment will be in St. Michael Cemetery, Stratford. Friends may call Tuesday from 4-8 pm in the Spear-Miller Funeral Home, 39 South Benson Road, Fairfield. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made in memory of the Scull family to St. Augustine's Cathedral, 359 Washington Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604.

For information or to sign an online guest register click here.


Employees surprise Bishop Caggiano on his 10th Anniversary
| August 26, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Catholic Center staff surprised Bishop Frank J. Caggiano on his 10th anniversary as a Bishop today when they presented him with signed photos of the World Series Championship N.Y. Mets from the 1969 and 1986 seasons.




The Bishop, who grew up in Brooklyn and  is a lifelong Mets fan, was genuinely surprised and delighted by the framed photos and autographs of Met legends. He thanked all diocesan employees for their dedication and teamwork in making the diocese successful.

“My ten years as a bishop have been the most marvelous and challenging in my life,” the Bishop told the gathering of about 70 employees and the seminarians who came up from the St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford to participate in the Mass and brunch that followed.
 
Employees stood and applauded the Bishop, who quickly studied the photographs and looked for the faces of his favorite players. (The Bishop will be leading a trip of young adults to a Mets game on September 3).
 
After the presentation, the Bishop said he remembered 1969 well because it was the year that the Mets won, men walked on the moon, and he broke his arm as a young boy in Brooklyn.
 
In his brief remarks celebrating the Bishop’s 10th anniversary, Msgr. Thomas Powers, Vicar General of the Diocese, said that the Cross is a vertical “I” that quick gets crossed out.  He said that the Bishop has inspired his co-workers and the entire diocese by working tirelessly and selflessly to put Jesus at the center of his own life and the life of the local Church.
 
Priests throughout the diocese joined Bishop Caggiano in celebrating the annual Employee Mass to mark the end of Summer and the beginning of the new work year.
 
In his homily reflection on the Gospel of St. Matthew (25:1-13), the Bishop said that all Christian must live the message of the Cross, which gives meaning and healing to all people when other dreams and plans fade.
 
He said that the problem of the young women who failed to put oil in their lamps to celebrate a bridal feast “is not that they did something wrong,” but that they were unprepared to celebrate a greater gift because they were too caught up in day-to-day life.
 
The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano was installed as Fifth Bishop of Bridgeport on Thursday, September 19, 2013 at St. Theresa Church in Trumbull.

He was ordained to the priesthood on May 16, 1987 in the chapel of the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston, Queens.  In June 2006, he was named Bishop of Brooklyn and Titular Bishop of Inis Cathaig by Pope Benedict XVI. He received his episcopal consecration on the following August 22, from Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, with Bishops Thomas Daily and Ignatius Catanello serving as co-consecrators.


Evangelization Training: Sharing the Person of Jesus Christ
| August 26, 2016


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DANBURY—Young adults throughout the diocese and all those involved in Faith Formation are invited to participate in a Basic Evangelization Training (BET) workshop on Saturday, October 1,  9:30 am - 4 pm and Sunday, October 2, 12:30 to 5 pm.



The two-day workshop, led by St. Paul Street Evangelization, will be held at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, 46 Stone Street in Danbury.
 
“Basic Evangelization Training is among the most hands-on, practical, and dynamic workshop opportunities for Catholics in the world today,” said Fr. Peter Towsley, Vicar for Evangelization and Pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Danbury.
 
Fr. Towsley said participants will “gain the courage they need to be enthusiastic and joyful evangelists in their daily lives as they overcome the fear that many people have of publicly sharing their faith.”
 
He said that anyone who is giving Faith Formation will benefit from the workshop, which will not only assist in Evangelizing give participants the tools to be Evangelizers.
 
“As Pope Francis said we must know how to give an Initial Proclamation of Jesus. "On the lips of the catechist the first proclamation must ring out over and over: ‘Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you…. nothing is more solid, profound, secure, meaningful and wisdom-filled than that initial proclamation.’”
 
St. Paul Street Evangelization is a grassroots, non-profit Catholic evangelization organization, dedicated to responding to the mandate of Jesus to preach the Gospel to all nations by taking the Catholic Faith to the streets  in a non-confrontational way that allows the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts of those who witness their public Catholic presence. It is headquartered in Bloomington, Indiana.
 
St. Paul Street Evangelization provides an avenue for men and women to share the Person of Jesus Christ and the truth and beauty of the Catholic Faith with a hungry culture,” said Fr. Towsley. “Those who attend the workshop will be invited to join in this spirit and a culture of evangelization.”
 
The fee for the two-day training is $45 (normally $75 per person). It includes training, lunch and refreshment s for both days. Phone: 203.748.9029


Click here to register online.


Administrators head back to school
| August 25, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—The Diocese of Bridgeport welcomed 47 school principals and presidents to the Catholic Center for the annual Back-to-School Administrators’ Meeting.


Today’s gathering was the finale of a week-long series of meetings for new and returning school personnel. The morning portion of the meeting consisted of introductions from the newly restructured Office of the Superintendent, as well as a review of policies and programs by members of the Superintendent’s Office and relevant Catholic Center departments. Following the assembly, the administrators came together for worship at a Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank Caggiano. The bishop offered a special blessing for the educators as they affirm or renew their commitment to the excellence of our Catholic schools.


Following deadly earthquake in Italy, Benedictine monks in Norcia will relocate to Rome
| August 25, 2016 • by Carl E. Olson, The Catholic World Report


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NORCIA, ITALY—The New York Times reports that 120 people have died in the severe earthquake that hit central Italy early Wednesday morning, awakening residents in Rome, which is almost a hundred miles southwest.


A crucifix in the Monastery of Saint Benedict in Norcia


A 2003 photo of the church of St. Benedict or San Benedetto, cared for by the Monks of Norcia.

The earthquake, which had a preliminary magnitude of 6.2, struck at 3:36 am, about 6.5 miles southeast of the town of Norcia in the Umbria region, followed by about 200 aftershocks over the next several hours, including a 5.5-magnitude tremor at 4:33 am.

The authorities said the quake was comparable in intensity to one in 2009 in the Abruzzo region of central Italy that killed more than 300 people.

Towns in three regions—Umbria, Lazio and Marche—were devastated by the quake, which could be felt as far away as Bologna in the north and Naples in the south. The deaths appeared to be concentrated in four communities: at least 86 in the towns of Amatrice and Accumoli, in Lazio, and at least 32 deaths in Marche, in the village of Arquata del Tronto and the hamlet of Pescara del Tronto.

Pope Francis set aside his planned remarks for his general audience and led a pilgrims in praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary for the victims of the earthquake:

“On hearing the news of the earthquake that has struck central Italy and which has devastated many areas and left many wounded, I cannot fail to express my heartfelt sorrow and spiritual closeness to all those present in the zones afflicted,” the Pope said August 24.

He offered his condolences to all who have lost loved ones, and his expressed his spiritual closeness to those who are “anxious and afraid.” ...

According to the BBC, the mayor of Amatrice, one of the worst-hit areas, said “the town is gone.” Officials warn that the death toll will likely continue to rise as rescue efforts move forward.

Pope Francis, hearing that the mayor of Amatrice said his town “no longer exists” and learning that many children are also among the dead, said “I am deeply saddened.”

“For this reason I want to assure all the people of Accumoli, Amatrice, the diocese of Rieti, Ascoli Piceno and all the people of Lazio, Umbria and Le Marche of the prayers and close solidarity of the entire Church,” he said.

The Pope then offered his thanks to all the volunteer and rescue workers assisting in the affected areas, asking Jesus, “who is always moved by compassion before the reality of human suffering, that he may console the broken hearted, and through the intercession of the Virgin Mary bring them peace.”

“With Jesus, let our hearts be moved with compassion,” he said, and invited the some 11,000 pilgrims present to join him in praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary.

The Benedictine Monks of Norcia, in a message sent out by e-mail early Wednesday, said, "We are OK. We are alive, and there are no serious injuries to report. Sadly, there are many injuries to report among the people of the region, especially those in small mountain villages. Please pray for them. We monks will do what we can to contribute here on the ground, but we'll need your spiritual support in a special way during this period."

In a later message left on Facebook, they stated:

After a careful study of the developing seismic situation in our region of Italy, as a precautionary measure, we have decided to temporarily transfer our community to Rome.

The monks of the international Benedictine headquarters at St. Anselmo in Rome have kindly offered our monks a place to remain during this period of uncertainty.  We would be grateful if you added the monks of St. Anselmo to your prayers for their generosity during our time of need.

While the community is in Rome, two monks will remain in Norcia to keep watch over the basilica and monitor the developing situation. They will avoid danger by sleeping in tents outside the city walls.

We strive to maintain the order of the Rule even during the most difficult of circumstances, and this transfer, while disruptive, will ensure the safety of our monks and grant us all the peace to continue to practice our monastic life.

Please continue to pray for our community, and consider giving a gift (https://en.nursia.org/donations/) to help our effort to rebuild.

Click here to view info for an event on September 30 at 5 pm in Darien.


Polish Harvest Festival
| August 25, 2016


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STAMFORD—Sylwester Kubisiak & Justyna Moczulski of Stamford carry the Wieniec (Harvest wreath) at the beginning of the 39th Annual Doźynki (Polish Harvest Festival) at Holy Name of Jesus in Stamford.


The event celebrates the Polish Culture and features live music, dancing, traditional Polish food and games for the kids. Holy Name of Jesus Parish was founded in 1903. The "Bell of Liberty" in the church tower was cast in Poland and originally commissioned for the 1939 World's Fair. It features the broze busts of six Polish saints and a figure of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

Holy Name of Jesus offers Mass in Polish throughout the week including five Masses on Sunday. Father Pawel M. Hrebenko is serving as Pastor. Holy Name of Jesus Church is located at 4 Pulaski St., Stamford, CT 06902-6822.  Phone: 203.323.4967. Online at: http://www.holynamestamford.com


Teaching for Discipleship
| August 23, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—“Teaching for Discipleship, The Call, the Challenge, the Difference" will be the topic of a program for all Directors of Religious Education and faith formation support staff on Monday, August 29, Queen of Saints Hall at the Catholic Center, 238 Jewett Avenue.


The program will include a welcome by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and Rose Talbot-Babey, Coordinator of Childhood Faith Formation.
 
Author and nationally renowned speaker, Dr. Michael Carotta will give  the keynote  address. He  has worked with adolescents and their spiritual growth in educational, pastoral and clinical settings for more than twenty-five years.  Participants will also receive a free copy of his latest book, "Teaching Discipleship."
 
About Dr. Carotta: A long-time catechist, Michael Carottahas also served as Diocesan Director of Adolescent Catechesis, Executive Director of the NCEA Department of Religious Education, and as a member of the Bishops’ Committee for the Revision of the General Catechetical Directory. With a focus on adolescent spirituality, Michael spent four years with at-risk youth as the Director of Religious Education at Girls and Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska. Mike and his wife, Dr. Catherine Cronin Carotta, also do substantial renewal work, offering seminars inspired by their book Sustaining the Spirit: Responding to the Callings, Commitments, and Vocational Challenges of Your Life (Twenty-Third Publications).
 
Author of more than forty articles, Michael’s work has appeared in a variety of publications including Momentum, The Catholic World, PACE and National Catholic Reporter. His books include the newly revised Nurturing the Spiritual Growth of Today’s Adolescents, Sometimes We Dance, Sometimes We Wrestle: Embracing the Spiritual Growth of Adolescents, and The Work of Your Life: Sustaining the Spirit to Teach, Lead, and Serve—all published by Our Sunday Visitor Curriculum Division. He also served as a program advisor for Call to Faith, a Grades 7 and 8 religion series published by Our Sunday Visitor Curriculum Division.
 
Michael received his B.S. in Psychology at Southeastern Louisiana University, his M.A. in Religious Education at Loyola University in New Orleans, and Ed.D. in Leadership Education from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. He regularly teaches graduate courses on adolescent spirituality and catechesis at Boston College, Loyola University of New Orleans, St. John’s School of Theology in Minnesota, and Fordham University in New York.
 
Dr. Carotta is currently the National Advisor for Adolescent Catechesis for Our Sunday Visitor Curriculum Division and the 2012 Recipient of the Emmaus Award for Excellence in Catechesis awarded by the National Association of Parish Catechetical Directors (NPCD).
 
The day will begin with 8 am registration and light breakfast, and include an update on programs sponsored by the Diocese of Bridgeport, lunch and the kenote address at 1 pm
 
For further information or to register for the presentation, contact Rose Talbot-Babey, Coordinator of Childhood Faith Formation 203.416.1648 or via email at: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


St. Vincent's Medical Center Honors Volunteers of the Year
| August 23, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—St. Vincent's Medical Center honored its 2016 Volunteers of the Year including Bridgeport resident Laura Durkin and Branford resident Brian D. Sager.


More than 150 of the hospital's dedicated volunteers attended the annual Recognition Reception, marking service anniversaries ranging from 100 to 10,000 hours. In total, 300 volunteers donated more than 46,000 hours during the past year and have served the Medical Center well in many departments.

"Our volunteers are truly the heart and soul of our hospital," explained Volunteer Services Director Julie Lawrence. "They enhance the patients' experience, support our staff, and lead by example by demonstrating service to others."
 
About this year's award recipients:
 
Laura Durkin
When Laura Durkin moved to Connecticut from Brooklyn, New York, five years ago, she immediately missed the bustling city environment and looked for an opportunity to connect with more people. Fortunately for St. Vincent's, Laura applied to be a volunteer, and since then has been bringing smiles to patients and families. She also has never missed a SWIM Across the Sound event and lends her talents to several departments, including the St. Vincent's Medical Center Foundation, information desk, Mission Services, and Pastoral Care. She also serves as a Eucharistic minister.
 
"I need a lot of people around me and I empathize with the patients who are looking to talk to someone and who need to be comforted," stated Durkin. "St. Vincent's is such a welcoming place. The staff and volunteers are friendly and I always look for ways we can work together in order to help patients and families."
 
"Laura is a model for Volunteer Services behavior. She raises her hand to fill in where we need her, and wherever she is - front desk, SWIM events, Foundation, or patient areas - she is making people smile!" shared Lawrence.
 
Brian D. Sager
A Stanford University graduate and minor league baseball pitcher isn't who immediately comes to mind when you think about a nursing student. However, Brian Sager is just that, and he's pursuing his calling to be an RN at St. Vincent's College. Brian has served as president of the College's chapter of the Student Nursing Association and has been a very active volunteer, first with the annual SWIM Across the Sound Marathon and then at St. Vincent's Special Needs Services. Brian was introduced to St. Vincent's Special Needs by its Director of Nursing Christina Longden, and has since volunteered for the annual Easter Egg Hunt, FEROLETO Day, the Special Needs School Prom, the Elizabeth M. Pfriem Circus, and much more.
 
"The students and staff at Special Needs are amazing people," said Sager. "It's my philosophy to jump right in and help out when I can. I would encourage anyone to volunteer there."
 
"Brian is an all-star to the students," offered Lawrence. "He is compassionate and caring and has stepped up to coordinate fellow nursing students to volunteer with him to support our children with special health care needs."


New Mulch for All Saints School!
| August 22, 2016


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St. Matthew Knights of Columbus assist All Saints Catholic School with sprucing up the Playground

NORWALK—On Saturday, August 20, members of Knight of Columbus St. Matthew Council #14360 hitched up their work boots, grabbed their rakes and wheel barrows and went to work.


The Brothers helped All Saints Catholic School in Norwalk spread 80 yards of mulch their science park/playground for the students who will be returning soon.

It was a large job made much easier by a big turnout from the Knights who assisted some parents and students at ASCS. In addition resident Council carpenters Tim Horne and Jack Consiglio installed an air conditioner in one of the classrooms which was no small task since they had to take apart the window and make a plexiglass make shift window to fit the AC properly.

Grand Knight Scott Criscuolo praised his brothers for their efforts. “It was a fantastic effort by the Brothers of Council 14360. We enjoy working with the parents and students of this great school. It is projects like this they make me proud of being Grand Knight of our council, said Criscuolo.

Council 14360 has established a great relationship over the years by assisting with various maintenance and upkeep projects as well as giving out scholarships yearly to graduating 8th grade students attending a Catholic High School.

All Saints Catholic School offers a strong academic program in a caring, Catholic environment for children in Pre-K 3 through 8th Grade. Go to www.allsaintsnorwalk.com for more information.

The goals of the Knights of Columbus Council at Saint Matthew Church in Norwalk is to perform acts of charity. Providing those in need with a range of support from financial to tactical help in dealing with a wide variety of challenges. Council members work together to foster the founding principles of our order; Charity, Unity, Fraternity & Patriotism. Our goal as a council is to continue to identify specific needs in our community and muster support and help to alleviate these challenges and hardships to the best of our abilities and resources. For more information please go to www.saintmatthewknights.com.


Mary's Queenship is One of Love
| August 22, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—"Today’s feast is the celebration of the Queenship of Mary. In 1954, Pope Pius XII mandated this feast to be celebrated on May 31st, the last day of the month dedicated to Our Lady.


Following the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, the feast was changed to today, the octave day of the Assumption.

In its current location on the calendar, we pause to celebrate the culmination of the life of Our Blessed Mother, who having been assumed into heaven, is now our Queen, advocate and protector.

Royalty in this world denotes power, privilege and an exalted place in society. Following in her Son’s footsteps, Mary’s Queenship means just the opposite. She who was the sinless Virgin who humbly accepted God’s will for her, despite the fact that it led to a life of great suffering, is our Queen precisely because her majesty lies in her love and concern for those entrusted to her. This means you, me and all God’s children.

Christ our King wore a crown of thorns as the sign of his majestic, divine love. Mary our Queen bore a crown of thorns around her heart as a sign of her sacrificial love for us. As we pause to celebrate Our Lady’s Queenship, the question for you and I is this: what crown are we willing to wear?"

(Today's reflection is taken from Bishop Caggiano's Facebook page, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, which now has almost 7,400 likes.)


Churches’ Mass appeal
| August 21, 2016 • by By Cedar Attanasio and Claire Galvin, CTPost.com


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BRIDGEPORT—Stained-glass gospel scenes stretch to the ceiling. Parishioners fill a quarter of the pews. Stations of the Cross, each titled with an ornate caption in English, ring the walls of St. Charles Borromeo Church.


The Mass, however, is in Spanish. It’s the fourth service of the day conducted in a language other than English at this brimming Bridgeport church.

Pastors held a Haitian Creole Mass at 7:30 a.m. ; there will be another in the early evening. At 10:30 a.m., it was Brazilian Portuguese speakers saying “and also with you” to the priest.

Father Francisco Gomez-Franco, who is from Mexico, belts a sermon in Spanish and performs the liturgy. He announces community events. Today, he's trying to keep it short, but usually he paraphrases things in English for the minority of the crowd who attend with their families, but don't speak Spanish perfectly.

Gomez reminds teens in secular public schools and their parents that they must attend religious classes. He’s only talking about a small percentage of families, he stresses, but there are some kids coming up for Holy Communion “who wouldn’t know how to say an ‘Our Father’ or a ‘Hail Mary.’ ”

Father Gomez is not talking about the Jimenez family, who have three children helping with the Mass.

“I’m basically the leader because I’ve been serving since I was 8 years old. I’m 15,” said Kairyn Jimenez, who speaks both English and Spanish.

Kairyn is one of dozens of American-born children at the Mass with their foreign-born parents. These families may be helping their church defy regional and national trends.

The number of Americans who identify as Catholic has shrunk in recent years, and Connecticut leads the nation in that decline.

In 2007, 23.9 percent of Americans identified as Catholic, according to a nationwide survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. By 2014, that share had fallen to 20.8 percent.

Connecticut showed the sharpest decline of the 50 states — 10 percent.

The Pew Religious Landscapes Studies were conducted in 2007 and 2014 via telephone interviews with more than 35,000 Americans.

In Bridgeport, affiliation is also down, with 11 percent fewer families registered with parishes in 2015 that 2010.

That decline does not necessarily mean a drop in faith. Families could be moving to other parishes, for example.

What’s interesting is that while the number of families is down, mass attendance is up two percent, based on a survey conducted by the Fairfield County diocese.

At St. Charles, Mass attendance grew 37 percent between 2010 and 2015, based on the survey. It’s the sharpest increase in the area.

Masses in other languages cohere families and cater to the preferences of individual worshippers. Like Kairyn, Angel Luis and Alcantara came with at least one parent who had immigrated to the United States from South America.

“I feel comfortable,” said Angel, 26, a heating and cooling mechanic born in Venezuela. “I like that (there are other masses) because not everyone speaks English.”
 

More Information
Masses offered, by language

Blessed Sacrament, Bridgeport: Spanish
Our Lady of Fatima, Bridgeport: Iberian Portuguese
St. Ann, Bridgeport: Spanish
The Cathedral Parish (St. Patrick & St. Augustine, Bridgeport: Spanish, Vietnamese
St. Charles Borromeo, Bridgeport: Spanish, Haitian, Brazilian
St. George, Bridgeport: Spanish, Lithuanian*
St. Margaret Shrine, Bridgeport: Italian
St. Michael the Archangel, Bridgeport: Polish
St. Peter, Bridgeport: Spanish
Holy Cross, Fairfield: Slovenian
St. Emery, Fairfield: Hungarian

Source: Diocese of Bridgeport Office of of Strategic and Pastoral Planning

*Once a month

Mass Attendance
Diocese of Bridgeport

2011 - 10,066
2015 - 10,225 (2% increase)
2011 - 10,066
2015 - 10,225 (2% increase)

Many parishioners of St. Charles do speak English. Yet their children interact as part of a larger community that bridges linguistic divides.

Those religious classes? They are mixed; as were most youth group outings over the summer.

“My friend goes to the English language Mass, because she (only) speaks English,” said Luis, 16, a U.S.-born junior at Fairchild Wheeler Interdistrict Magnet school, adding that during Christmas and other church events, all of the congregations come together. “It gets pretty full and everyone is here.”

The Pew study showed that the Catholic church is not the only major denomination to shrink in recent years. Americans identifying themselves as adherents to one of the mainline Protestant denominations shrank by 3.4 percent from 2007 to 2014, and evangelical Protestants by just under 1 percent.

Christians overall decreased from 78.4 percent to 70.6 percent of the population, a net decline of 5 million people. The drop was visible across demographic categories, including age, race, sex and educational level, but was particularly pronounced among younger age groups.

Non-Christians, including Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus, saw an increase of 1.2 percent, with Muslims accounting for nearly half of that total.

The number of Americans who describe themselves as “unaffiliated,” including atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular,” climbed 6.7 percent.

The Bridgeport Diocese’s director of strategic and pastoral planning, Patrick C. Turner, is aware of the challenges nationwide, and is part of a team helping local parishes react to shrinking membership in some areas.

In the Trumbull/Monroe parish, mass attendance was down 10 percent between 2010 and 2016, from 5,705 in 2011 to 5,161 in 2015. Stamford has seen a drop of 16 percent and Fairfield 10 percent.

“The Diocese is currently undertaking a pastoral planning process in all 82 parishes,“ he told Hearst Connecticut Media via email. “The process is designed for each parish to identify strengths and challenges and lay out pastoral priorities for the next two years. These challenges are based on the year-long Synod process that Bishop Caggiano undertook shortly after his arrival here.”

Turner, who provided the local statistics used in this article, cautions against any monolithic conclusions. The Mass attendance census represents only a few days per year, and there is migration between churches, he explained.

There are plenty of exceptions to the trends.

For example, St. Catherine of Siena parish has seen a 38 percent increase in weekend Mass attendance, from 1,139 in 2011 to 1,571 in 2015.

That’s in Trumbull, where numbers are down on average. While the church offers four masses on Sunday, none of them are offered in a language other than English, according to its website.

A common theme in Christian religious texts is for something cruel to happen in the Old Testament, only for it to be redeemed, smoothed out if you will, in the New Testament.

“Eye for an eye” (Exodus 21:24) gives way to “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:48).

Likewise, residents of the Old Testament world scattered around the world and condemned to speak different languages come together in the world of the New Testament.

“Suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven (...) and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (...),” reads Acts 2:2-8 of the Modern English Version of the text.

Anecdotally, it appears that Bridgeport-area churches attract more of the faithful, more of the time, when the “rushing wind” is “in other tongues.” Historically, immigrant groups have overlapped and taken each other’s places in city neighborhoods. At St. Charles, it started with Italians, and then Puerto Ricans.

“They held the first Mass in my brother’s house,” said Raul Ruiz, choir co-director and saxophonist, says of his early involvement in the church in the 1970s.

In the nave, Ruiz’s saxophone joins maracas, a shaker, bongos and three singers that share a very Caribbean sound with the congregation. Each of the other services — Brazilian Portuguese, English, and Haitian Creole — have their own bands with their own cultural takes on instrumentation.

Puerto Ricans and Spanish-speaking immigrants, he explained, took charge of fundraising in the 1970s and 1980s to save the church’s foundation, literally. Over the past 15 years, he said affectionately, more Brazilians are stepping up, filling pews and organizing major church events that others managed in the past.

Through the ebb and flow of changing demographics, St. Charles has served American-born parishioners as well as immigrants and their families. It not only keeps the church alive but allows generations with complex identities like Luis and Kairyn to express a particular facet of their true selves.

Bicultural identity isn’t just what’s on the outside. It's more than a flag waving in front of an Olympic match or parade, or a few words or recipes that have handed down from Grandma. For Kairyn, it’s an identity that touches the soul, perhaps summed up in one short sentence.

“I prefer to pray in Spanish,” she said.


Work progressing on Queen of Clergy
| August 19, 2016


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STAMFORD— Work is progressing on the new wing of the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy Residence in Stamford. Construction of the 16-suite addition for retired priests began in January of this year.


Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will lead a Sunday October 9 dedication ceremony for the residence located at 274 Strawberry Hill Avenue in Stamford.

“This is a very exciting time for the diocese and for our retired priests who are looking forward to moving into their new home at Queen of the Clergy Residence. “It’s a beautiful residence and a place of great dignity where our retired priests can live in prayer and continued service,” said Bishop Caggiano when he visited the site earlier this summer.

According to William McLean, chief development officer of the diocese, the capital campaign for the residence has raised almost $3.5 of the $4 million needed for the new wing and for the repair and renovation of the existing facility.

Needed improvements to the current structure include replacement of the existing roof; expansion of the kitchen to accommodate service for additional residents, with new refrigeration and appliances; new carpeting and furnishings in the common area; interior and exterior painting; and upgraded fire alarm, HVAC and electrical.

Msgr. William Scheyd, Episcopal Vicar for Senior Priests, said there are 80 priests in the diocese over the age of 75. Some retired priests continue to live in parish settings, while others live on their own or with family. Many of the retired priests in the diocese continue to help out in parishes, schools, nursing homes and other settings.”

The current residence provides 17 suites for independent living for retired priests. Vickey Hickey is serving as Administrator. The Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy Residence is located at 274 Strawberry Hill Ave., Stamford. For more information, phone 203.358.9906. To make a gift online, go to https://www.bridgeportdiocese.org/queen-clergy/home/


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A Day of Grace and Healing
| August 19, 2016


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BLOOMFIELD—The Order of Malta will hold the third annual “Lourdes in a Day Pilgrimage” at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield on Saturday, September 10. The day begins at 9:30 and concludes by 4 pm.


The Order of Malta conducts this one day pilgrimage to allow those unable to make the trip to Lourdes, France, to experience the joy, grace and healing promised by Our Lady of Lourdes,’ said Mary Beth Fessler, a member of Dames of Malta.

“Local pilgrims experience many of these healing ministries as well as hear inspirational reflections during this spiritual journey,” Fessler said. The Order of Malta is known for its charism of defense of the Catholic faith and service to the sick and the poor.

In 1858 Our Lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous, a poor peasant girl, and revealed herself as the Immaculate Conception. Her instructions were to drink and bathe in the waters of the stream, which now holds the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and the baths.

“Our Lady also asked us to pray, process and build a chapel- all done at the site of the apparition,” she said.

Mass and candlelight processions are a daily celebration in this small town tucked in the Pyrenees Mountains.

For more information on St. Thomas Seminary, visit: http://www.stseminary.org/directions.html). Please register ASAP with Mark Sullivan: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 860.523.1405

The Westchester Area of the Order of Malta will also offer a “Lourdes in a Day Pilgrimage” on Saturday, October 8, 2016 at St. Joseph Seminary Dunwoodie in Yonkers, NY: http://www.dunwoodie.edu/ from 9:30-4 pm. For more information please contact Bob Greason: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


McGivney Community Center Announces Three New Board Members
| August 18, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—The McGivney Community Center has been fulfilling its mission to provide stimulating and enriching programs that foster academic success and self-esteem to the youth of Bridgeport since 1992.


The success and growth of the Center is due in large part to the passion, drive, and skill of a dynamic Board of Directors.

The McGivney Center announced today the appointment of Sean Gleason of KPMG, Kim Karl of United Bank, and Sean Rabinowitz of ACBI Insurance to the Board of Directors. Robert Matthews has been voted the new Board President, and Jeanne Mathews of General Electric the new Secretary.

“Sean Gleason, Kim Karl, and Sean Rabinowitz are welcome additions to the McGivney Board,” said Terry O’Connor, Executive Director, McGivney Community Center. “They are all well-respected in their fields and bring a wealth of expertise and knowledge that will ensure a bright future for McGivney.”

McGivney Community Center Board Members serve two, three year terms. The Board of Directors acts as a governing body to ensure the McGivney Center carries out its mission. Each Board Member’s responsibility is different, depending on their skill set and interest. Responsibilities include fundraising, committee meetings, and communicating McGivney’s mission to the public.

The McGivney Community Center thanked three Board Members with ending terms, as well. Mary Donnelly of Southwestern CT Agency on Aging and former Board Secretary, Paul Gleason former Board President, and Thomas Reilly each served six years at McGivney and dedicated their skills to furthering McGivney’s mission. “I cannot thank them enough for their hard work, passion, and leadership. They have helped us to become the strong organization that we are today,” said Terry O’Connor.

About the McGivney Community Center

The McGivney Community Center is located on the East Side of Bridgeport at 338 Stillman Street and has been carrying out its mission to provide stimulating and enriching programs that foster academic success and self-esteem to the youth of Bridgeport for 24 years. McGivney provides a safe, quality, and affordable space for children grades kindergarten through high school to learn and grow. The Center offers After School Program, Summer Camp, and sports leagues. Daily tutoring, gym, computers, arts & crafts, game room, cooking, and Youth Council help to provide our members with all the resources that they need to be successful both in and out of the classroom. For more information about the McGivney Community Center, please call (203) 333-2789 or visit www.mcgivney.org.


Breakfast is served at Morning Glory
| August 17, 2016


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DANBURY—It's 6:30 AM on any given Friday.

Outside the Dorothy Day Hospitality Center in Danbury, three volunteers are opening the doors of the soup kitchen.


They're about to start preparing meals for our Morning Glory Breakfast Program.

Together as a team for almost three years now (and even longer individually) Marlene Drygas, Sandra Martinez, and Suzanne Najman have been meeting up every week to prepare and serve the Friday breakfast. The breakfast program is open 360 days a year, from 6:30 - 9 am, providing nutritious food to anyone who walks through the dining room door. With enthusiasm and dedication, these ladies cook up a hot and healthy breakfast to an average of 100 individuals each shift. The team serves coffee, juice, cereal, and a plate of hot food to the guests—many of whom are homeless—making this meal their main source of nourishment for the day.

The Morning Glory menu changes daily: sometimes eggs, other times sausages, often fruit. This past year, however, the Friday volunteer team decided to mix it up a bit. They challenged Sierra Pepi, Program Coordinator, to serve a different style of pancake for 52 weeks. Turns out, Sierra was not one to back down from a challenge!

One week she whipped up banana walnut pancakes, the next week she created an oatmeal cookie variety, and then produced cranberry almond pancakes - watch out Rachel Ray!

“The spirit of our volunteers and staff make the Morning Glory experience a positive start to the day for our guests. Why? Because they can rely on the program to serve up a hot cup of coffee, a nutritious breakfast, and best of all - warm, welcoming smiles,” said Michele Conderino of Catholic Charities, which sponsors the program.

Are you a morning person? Do you want to be part of an incredibly rewarding experience? Then why not volunteer at the Morning Glory breakfast program? Email Sierra Pepi at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to find out more.


New Superintendent Greets Students
| August 17, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—It was a busy last Friday morning for the new Superintendent of Schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport, Dr. Steven Cheeseman.


Dr. Cheeseman spent the morning hours at the four campuses of the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport, visiting staff and getting personal tours of St. Ann Academy, St. Raphael Academy, St. Augustine Academy, and St. Andrew Academy.

While a steady stream of well wishers met briefly with the superintendent, the highlight was a visit by dozens of school children enrolled in the schools’ summer camps.

At St. Andrew Academy’s “Camp Sunshine,” Dr. Cheeseman learned that the students were undergoing their very own Olympics. He huddled with a group of campers and Principal Lori Wilson, demonstrating the importance of working as a team. “It is essential for faculty, staff, parents and students to work as a team to advance the mission and excellence of Catholic education," he stated. That sense of teamwork was also evident at St. Augustine Academy where the superintendent met a number of Kolbe Cathedral High School students who came to help their former elementary teachers prepare their classrooms.

"It was great to spend the morning touring the four campuses of the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport and meeting with students. They are my number one priority and their success is the reason we work so hard for excellence in our Catholic Schools," Dr. Cheeseman said. "I am grateful for the leadership of Sisiter Joan Magnetti, executive director of the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport, and the work of the board, teachers, staff, and the many benefactors who are so committed to transforming the lives of our young people."

Dr. Cheeseman was appointed in June to succeed Sister Mary Grace Walsh as superintenden,t effective July 1. He previously served as associate superintendent of the Diocese of Rockville Center, Long Island, N.Y.

Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport are open to all; welcoming students of any faith, race, color, and national or ethnic origin. To find out more, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).



Above: Pictured from left to right
Angelia Gonzalez, Samora Allen, Sky McCoy,
Aiden Courtney, Kobee Johnson, and Dr. Steven Cheeseman.

Tony Pavia to return to Trinity Catholic High School
| August 16, 2016


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STAMFORD—Dr. Steven Cheeseman, Superintendent of Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Bridgeport, has announced that Mr. Tony Pavia has stepped in as Interim Principal at Trinity Catholic High School effective Tuesday, August 16, 2016.


Mr. Pavia served as Principal of Trinity Catholic High School from 2011 to 2014, and then transitioned into the President position in 2015, before leaving to lead Stamford High School through a crisis.

“Trinity Catholic High School has been blessed with many years of Mr. Pavia’s enthusiasm and on-going dedication. He is an exceptional leader. Let us keep him in our prayers as he greets this opportunity for renewal and success for our students, faculty, staff and the entire Trinity Catholic High School Community,” said Dr. Cheeseman in a letter to parents.

While guiding the Trinity Catholic school community, Mr. Pavia and the Office of the Superintendent will continue the search process for a new principal, Dr. Cheeseman said.

A native of Stamford and graduate of Stamford Catholic High School, Tony Pavia has over 40 years of experience in the education field, including six years as principal of Stamford High School and nine years of service as principal of New Canaan High School.Pavia earned his bachelors, masters, and Sixth Year degree from Southern Connecticut University. He and his family are members of St. Bridget Parish in Stamford.


The mercy-filled life: Mother Teresa embodied what Pope Francis teaches
| August 16, 2016 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


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VATICAN CITY—If there is one person who immersed herself in the "peripheries" Pope Francis is drawn to, it was Blessed Teresa of Kolkata.


If there was one who showed courage and creativity in bringing God's mercy to the world, like Pope Francis urges, it was the diminutive founder of the Missionaries of Charity.

For many people, the Catholic Church's Year of Mercy will reach its culmination when Pope Francis canonizes Mother Teresa Sept. 4, recognizing the holiness of charity, mercy and courage found in a package just 5-feet tall.

Ken Hackett, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, worked closely with Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity in his previous positions at the U.S. bishops' Catholic Relief Services. He was at her funeral in 1997, her beatification in 2003 and will attend the Mass where she will be declared a saint.

"Where Mother pushed the Missionaries of Charity was to the edge, to the most difficult places," said the ambassador, who said he visited her houses "all the time, everywhere."

"They were always way out there, both geographically and with the people who absolutely fell through the cracks," he said. Mother Teresa opened homes in Ethiopia during the communist military dictatorship, in the most destitute neighborhoods of Haiti's capital, in Rwanda after the genocide and in Yemen, where four Missionaries of Charity were murdered in March.

"When there was war, when there was fighting, there they were," Hackett said. "They stayed."

Mother Teresa demonstrated that living a life committed to mercy took "selflessness and courage," he said.

Her courage also was demonstrated in her ability to "speak truth to power," he said. Mother Teresa visited the United States regularly, speaking to Catholic groups, opening homes and meeting with presidents, including Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton. "She was straight out against abortion," the ambassador said. "From conception to death -- she was the whole thing and didn't pull any punches."

Like Pope Francis, he said, Mother Teresa drew energy from personal, one-on-one contact with people and consciously chose to live as simply as the poor she befriended and tended.

In life and after her death, Mother Teresa faced criticism for not using her fame and contacts to advocate more directly for social and political change to improve the lives of the poor she served. "You can find all the things she wasn't," the ambassador said, "but what she was was much more important than what she wasn't. She was a model and now she will be a saint."

Valeria Martano, Asia coordinator for the Community of Sant'Egidio, said, "We are talking about a woman who broke out of the existing framework of what was expected of a Catholic woman in the 1940s. And, like Pope Francis, she chose to make her life a denunciation" of injustice. "Her witness was testimony that things can change. She did not speak of justice so much as do justice."

"Mother Teresa chose to understand the world through the eyes of the least of the least, what Pope Francis would call the periphery," said Martano, who also leads Sant'Egidio programs in the poorest neighborhoods on the southern edge of Rome.

But it is not just about "going out," Martano said. For both Pope Francis and Mother Teresa, she said, everything starts with prayer.

The founder of the Missionaries of Charity insisted that she and her sisters were "contemplatives in the midst of the world," she said. "It was not just about doing." Mother Teresa's prayer took her to the periphery and the peripheries were key to her prayer.

"What Mother Teresa lived, Pope Francis teaches constantly: compassion in the face of pain and never accepting indifference in the face of suffering," said Archbishop Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, Italy.

For the archbishop, Mother Teresa modeled "a church close to the poor, a church that is mother to the poor and that lives the joy of serving the poor."

Revelations after her death that she suffered a "dark night of the soul," decades of feeling abandoned by God, are for Archbishop Zuppi a further sign of her deep immersion in the lives of the poor and forgotten.

"Her spiritual director would say that thirst is knowing there is water and longing for it," he said. "She was a woman who made the thirst of Christ on the cross her own. She lived that thirst."



Above: In this 1996 black-and-white file photo,
Blessed Teresa of Kolkata talks with Ken Hackett, left,
U.S. ambassador to the Holy See and former president
of Catholic Relief Services in Baltimore, Md.
(CNS photo/courtesy Catholic Relief Services)

A pilgrim’s reflection on the Feast of the Assumption
| August 15, 2016 • by by Patrick Whelan, National Catholic Reporter


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EPHESUS, TURKEY—Since at least the fourth century, August 15 has been commemorated in Catholic churches as the Feast of the Assumption, in the belief that the Virgin May was bodily “assumed” into heaven at her death.


In the 1950s, Pope Pius XII defined the Assumption as dogma, one of the few times papal infallibility has ever been invoked.

The ancient feast is known as the Dormition of the Theotokos, or the Falling Asleep of the Blessed Virgin Mary among the Eastern and Orthodox churches, and in many countries, like the war-torn Syria, it is a national holiday.

On a recent trip to Ephesus to visit the low stone house revered by local custom as the home of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I found the round eerily quiet as I reflected on the violence sweeping the Middle East. In the wake of the recent coup attempt in Ankara, heavily armed Turkish soldiers stood watch at the gate as pilgrims and tourists strolled past four fountains to the door of the house. Empty souvenir shops lining the roads nearby were a testament to the fearfulness of foreign visitors who just a year ago waited more than an hour to pay their respects in a place once visited by Pope Paul VI (1967), St. John Paul II (1979), and Pope Benedict XVI (2006).

According to the Acts of the Apostles, many of Jesus’s disciples scattered abroad after the Roman Emperor Caligula visited Jerusalem and King Herod Agrippa beheaded John’s brother James in 44 c.e., making him the first apostle to be martyred. The writings of Justin Martyr, and the apocryphal Acts of John, indicate that John traveled to Ephesus on the southwest coast of Asia Minor and began a ministry of conversion there. Because of the account in John’s Gospel about Jesus’s commending his mother to John’s care, tradition holds that John took her with him to Ephesus.

Roman-era Ephesus was a remarkably sophisticated city, with long marble-paved streets that extended from the Roman baths high above the valley down to the Library of Celsus – one of the three great libraries of that time. A large “pleasure house” recently excavated across the street was thought to have been connected to the library by a tunnel, for those male patrons who preferred to be perceived as bibliophiles rather than voluptuaries.

St. Paul, who arrived later and resided in Ephesus for almost two years, was thought to have earned a living making tents that were sold in the enormous marketplace below, when he wasn’t holding court in the library or arguing with the other men in the elaborate and innovative public water closet. The Temple of Diana, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was at the center of life there, and the movement toward Christianity significantly challenged the traditional openness of this Greek city to foreigners and new ways of thinking.

Tradition holds that amidst all the violence of that time, John retreated with Mary up the forested hills to the south, four and a half miles to a peak at 1,400-feet elevation called Solmisos-Aladag. There are competing stories about whether Mary died there and was subsequently raised from the dead before being assumed into heaven. Also, there is a competing school of thought (and another celebrated tourist attraction) in Jerusalem, where some traditional accounts place Mary at the foot of the Mount of Olives at the time of her death.

But a small Byzantine church was constructed above Ephesus in the 13th Century on the site, called the “Monastery with Three Gates.” A group of French researchers rediscovered it in the 1890s, and a French nun named Marie de Mandat Grancey purchased the property and paid for repairs at that time. The future Pope John XXIII traveled there to commemorate the 1500th anniversary of the Council of Ephesus in 1931, but was unable to reach the House of Mary due to the wild condition of the paths to the summit. In 1950 the Turkish government built a road up the mountainside, making possible a true renovation that constructed the current three-arched stone house on the old Byzantine church’s foundation.

The renewed interest may have been motivated by an extraordinary event in the life of the Church, when Pope Pius XII declared as dogma that same year that the Virgin Mary “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory,” in his controversially “infallible” apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus.

As the world recovered from its greatest existential crisis, in the years following World War II, the Church turned to a small place on a hillside in Turkey to find new inspiration for a higher vision of the bridge between the human and the divine. This year a steady stream of both Muslims and Christians are traveling to revere this place, despite the danger of our own time, in search of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

[Patrick Whelan, a former NCR board member, is a physician with the Heritage Provider Network in Los Angeles, lectures at the Keck School of Medicine, and is on the Academic Advisory Board of the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California.]



Above: Pilgrims to the House of Mary write petitions
on strips of paper and tie them in knots to the
Meryemana Wishing Wall at the front of the house.

“Building Resistance"
| August 14, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—As we continue to endure this heat wave, I am sure that we are all trying to figure out ways to stay cool.


Luckily, most of us have the benefit of air conditioning in at least a portion of where we live. However, I can remember times just like this, as a young boy growing up in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn, enduring heat wave after heat wave, without any air conditioning at all!

In fact, my father was adamantly opposed to having any air conditioning in the house, believing that it lowered one’s “resistance”. Of course, I was never quite sure what we were supposed to resist and my father never felt the need to explain further. The only consolation was the gift of a fan in my bedroom—one of my most prized possessions in June, July, August and September.

There was another source of “air conditioning” that my friends and I used every evening. It was sitting on the front steps of my house (we had the largest steps on the block), watching life pass by and enjoying a different flavor of Italian ices each evening. The ritual was usually the same: dinner, followed by stick ball (or “stoop” ball- the word “stoop” referring to the front stairs of the house), a leisurely walk to the nearby bakery that also sold Italian ices and returning to the stoop, cooling ourselves with the largest ices we could each carry home.

I remember those days as if they were yesterday. On those stairs, I and my friends grew up, we shared life with all my neighbors (many of whom treated us as if they were our mothers and fathers), we shared stories, told jokes, played cards and just watched life go by.

After my father died, one of the first things I did was install air conditioning in the entire house. For her part, my mother was not at all worried about her “resistance”. However, as I remember back to those days on the “stoop”, I am grateful for the old fashioned air conditioning my father insisted upon, with the ices and friendships that came along with it.


Archbishop calls Baltimore police report 'sobering and distressing'
| August 14, 2016 • by By Catholic News Service


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BALTIMORE—The same day a federal Department of Justice report cataloging systemic abuses by Baltimore's police was issued, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore called that report "sobering and distressing."


"The report is an affirmation of those in our community who have long criticized the policing strategies and practices of the (police) department," the archbishop said Aug. 10 in a statement, "and a repudiation of those whose actions have undermined both public trust as well as the inherent dignity of those they have sworn to serve and protect."

In Baltimore, the police's "pattern of making unconstitutional stops, searches and arrests arises from its longstanding reliance on 'zero tolerance' street enforcement, which encourages officers to make large numbers of stops, searches and arrests for minor, highly discretionary offenses," the report said.

"These practices led to repeated violations of the constitutional and statutory rights, further eroding the community's trust in the police," it added.

The Justice Department reviewed five-and-a-half years of police records before making its determinations.

The report also revealed racial bias on the part of Baltimore police.

In a city that is 63 percent black, African-Americans made up 95 percent of those stopped at least 10 times without arrests or citations -- one man in his 50s was stopped 30 times -- and 91 percent of those arrested whose only charge was "failure to obey" or "trespassing."

"I encourage people to read the report, reflect on the findings and consider the role that each of us should play in bringing about much needed change," Archbishop Lori said.

The investigation was prompted by the April 2015 death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray from spinal injuries he sustained riding in the back of a police van after being arrested for possession of what officers said was an illegal switchblade. They suspected Gray was watching out for a drug transaction.

Although Gray's death was ruled a homicide by the city's medical examiner's office and six Baltimore police were charged in connection with Gray's death, one mistrial and a series of acquittals led prosecutors to forgo the trials of the remaining officers.

Protest marches in Baltimore turned violent before and after Gray's funeral, with dozens of police injured and even more protestors arrested. The city of Baltimore paid $6.4 million to Gray's family to avoid a lawsuit.

Fourteen U.S. cities are currently operating under consent decrees with the Justice Department to reform their police practices. Baltimore has not entered into a consent decree, but is expected to do so, although a few elected officials have wondered how to pay for the reforms.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had asked the Justice Department to conduct its investigation after the rioting that followed Gray's death. In response to the report she said the findings "are challenging to hear," but are a crucial step in reforming the department.

Archbishop Lori said, "it is clear from the report that nothing short of a change in the culture within the (police) department will result in the kind of reform that is necessary to ensure the fair and equitable treatment of every citizen of Baltimore."

He added, "While this report rightly warrants a collective call for change, we cannot ignore the good and just service of the vast majority of policemen and women who put their lives on the line every day as they carry out their duties with respect for their office and those they serve."

Archbishop Lori said, "I pray the reaction to this report will not obscure their selfless service and will inspire others to follow them and to join efforts to address this resounding call for urgent change."


Fan the Fire Today!
| August 13, 2016


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NEWTOWN—Young people throughout the diocese are gathering today in Newtown for the 11th annual Fan the Fire Eucharist-centered Youth Rally on the grounds of St. Rose of Lima Church, 38 Church Hill Rd.
 


Today’s event is designed to help teens deepen their relationship with Christ. Each year, hundreds of teens gather to celebrate and learn about their Catholic faith.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will celebrate Mass later this afternoon for the or teens in grades 8 through 12.

#(hashtag) Witness is the theme of this year’s Fan the Fire. Each year, hundreds of teens gather to celebrate and learn about their Catholic faith.

The program includes fun activities and inspirational talks, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, recitation of the Rosary, Eucharistic adoration, and a teen Mass. Catholic speaker and recording artist Steve Angrisano along Kevin Donovan and Katie Keogler will lead the music ministry.

“We are extremely excited that Steve and our own Bishop Caggiano are coming to Fan the Fire this year,” said Rodd Blessey, Fan the Fire host. “The event continues to be a fun day for all teens from our diocese and beyond to come together and learn more about their faith,” said Rodd Blessey, Fan the Fire Host and Youth Minister at St. Rose of Lima Parish.

Fan the Fire is presented in association with Fan the Fire ministries and the Diocese of Bridgeport. For more information about the Youth Formation programs provided by the Diocese, contact: Evan Psencik, Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Formation

Tel: 203.416.1649, Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Hover and click the arrows to navigate the slideshow above
or visit the photo gallery (photos by Amy Mortensen)

Faith, family lighten load for triathlete who travels with a lot of gear
| August 12, 2016 • by Paul McMullen, Catholic News Service


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BALTIMORE—World-class triathlete Katie Hursey Zaferes travels with a custom bicycle and enough workout gear to outfit an entire aerobics class.


How does she lighten her load?

With liberal doses of faith and family.

When Zaferes, 27, competes in the women's triathlon August 20 at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, she'll represent not just the United States, but a large extended family in Carroll County, one that includes an absent cousin.

Zaferes was baptized at St. John Church in Westminster and raised in St. Bartholomew Parish in Manchester, where her parents, Bill and Mary Lynn Hursey, have been members since the 1990s.

"The Hurseys are a remarkable family, I baptized their youngest (Karly) the first month I arrived in Carroll County," said Father Michael Roach, pastor of St. Bartholomew. "They're a faithful family, always at Sunday Mass. You wish you had a hundred families like them."

Zaferes recalled being an active participant in the youth ministry directed by Linda Sterner.

"The youth group picnics and trips were my favorite," she wrote in an email to the Catholic Review, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. "It's a community full of love and support, that's the best part about St. Bart's. I always look forward to going back home and seeing everyone at Mass."

There have been few opportunities for that since 2007, when she graduated from North Carroll High School and headed to Syracuse University on a track and field scholarship.

Zaferes answered questions from Banyoles, Spain, where she was completing her Olympic preparation. She and her husband, Tommy, also a pro triathlete, make their home in Santa Cruz, California, but their careers keep them on the road nine months a year.

"One of my favorite rituals," she wrote, "is when my husband and I pray together before bed. One of us will start, then the other will fill in anything that the other one may have missed. Sometimes I learn things about my husband's day, or even life, just by listening to him pray."

Their intentions continue to include her third cousin, Jacob Offutt.

In December 2014, six months after he had graduated from St. John School in Westminster, Jacob was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. He was a second-degree black belt in karate, and a "Jake's Kickin' It" campaign included photos of Zaferes in that pose during the first half of 2015, a year in which she competed in England, New Zealand, Sweden, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.

"We started taking pictures of ourselves and our friends 'kickin' it' around the world," Zaferes said. "We wanted to show Jake that there were many of us fighting with him."

Forced to withdraw from his freshman year at Winters Mill High School, Jacob died July 13, 2015.

"Katie's not only a great athlete, she's a kind and considerate person," said Joe Offutt, Jake's father. "Jake looked up to her. Her accomplishments and travels were a good distraction for him."

Offutt is a first cousin to Zaferes' mother, who prays for her daughter's safety in an endeavor which, at the Olympics, consists of a 1.5-km. swim, 40-km. bike ride and 10-km. run.

Mary Lynn Hursey followed online the progress of a 2014 triathlon in Cape Town, South Africa, where Zaferes lost her computer timing chip and her mother's mind raced to the sharks offshore.

"I had that fear," Mary Lynn Hursey said. "She lost her chip and her name wasn't coming up, and I'm asking, 'Where is my child?' … I'm always praying for Katie, before, during and after a competition. I pray for her safety. The biking is a scary thing. When you see a DNF (did not finish) … your mind races."

Triathlon's open-water swimming will be conducted in the notoriously polluted waters of Rio de Janeiro, where "Team Katie" will include her parents.

Zaferes was an age-group swimmer and had a 1,600-meter best of 4 minutes, 57 seconds in high school track, but she didn't respond to a recruiting pitch from USA Triathlon until near the end of her collegiate running days.

Faith played a part there, too.

While earning a bachelor's degree in physical education at Syracuse, she baby-sat for Ashley and Rick Kelley, whose five children include four adopted from Ethiopia. Zaferes recounted a pivotal Sunday with them and Msgr. J. Robert Yeazel, pastor of Holy Cross Church in Genesee, New York.

"I remember one particular Mass, when I was deciding whether or not I was going to commit to triathlon," she said. "The entire homily, I felt like the priest was speaking to me. He was saying that sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone and try new things."

- - -

McMullen is managing editor of the Catholic Review, the news website and magazine of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.


Holocaust Rescuer Artistides de Souse Mendes to be Honored in Stamford, CT
| August 12, 2016


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Click here for the flyer

STAMFORD—Community members are invited to a film screening of the award-winning docudrama Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes Story on Wednesday, September 7 at 7:00 p.m. at The State Cinema, 990 Hope St., Stamford, CT. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door. All proceeds will benefit the Sousa Mendes Foundation, and light refreshments will be served.


The film tells the dramatic true story of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a Catholic who served as the Portuguese consul stationed in Bordeaux, France during World War II. When the Nazis invaded in 1940, Sousa Mendes granted Portuguese visas to thousands of refugees, against the strict orders of his government, in a feat described by historian Yehuda Bauer as “perhaps the largest rescue action by a single individual during the Holocaust.” As a result of his act of conscience, Sousa Mendes was punished by his government for “disobedience,” stripped of his position, and blacklisted. He died in 1954 in poverty and disgrace.

The film screening will be followed by a brief testimonial by Stamford resident Karen Denker, the daughter and granddaughter of Sousa Mendes visa recipients. “Finding out that my mother and her family had been saved by the compassion and selfless acts of this heroic Catholic man was literally life-altering,” said Denker. “It is a lesson that should never be forgotten and must be told to all,” she added.

In 1966, Sousa Mendes was posthumously recognized as a “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust authority. The Portuguese government eventually honored Sousa Mendes in the 1980’s, as a result of pressure from the US government. The Stamford screening is part of the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Yad Vashem recognition.

Last year, the grandson of Sousa Mendes forwarded to Pope Francis a copy of an unanswered letter his grandfather had written in 1946 to Pope Pius XII begging for reassurance that he had acted correctly before God. Never regretting his actions, Aristides said: “I could not have acted otherwise and I therefore accept all that has befallen me with love.”

The Sousa Mendes Foundation, founded in 2010, is dedicated to honoring the memory of Aristides de Sousa Mendes and to teaching the importance of moral courage in a civilized world. Named “Organization of the Year” in 2012 by The Portuguese Tribune, the Foundation is engaged in a worldwide search for families who escaped the Holocaust through Portugal. www.sousamendesfoundation.org

For more information, please contact: Robert Jacobvitz, (877) 797-9759 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Our Lady of Norwalk dedication will celebrate Assumption
| August 11, 2016


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NORWALK—On Sunday, August 14, in honor of the Feast of the Assumption, at 4 pm, Bishop Frank Caggiano will celebrate a Solemn High Mass in traditional Latin at St. Mary's Church, 669 West Avenue. The bishop will also dedicate a new statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary which will be known as “Our Lady of Norwalk.”


St. Mary’s pastor Father Richard Cipolla will concelebrate the Mass. The music will be led by choirmaster David Hughes.

After Mass, at approximately 6 pm, there will be a Marian procession as Mass-goers carry Our Lady of Norwalk from the church through the adjacent streets including West Avenue.

Following the procession, there will be a celebratory reception in the parish hall next to the church. A band will provide music in English, Spanish and Italian. Tickets to the reception are $20 at the door and include dinner.

“This event is a fitting celebration for the Feast of Our Lady’s Assumption,” said Fran Di Meglio, event organizer. “We are already expecting more than 450 people and welcome more.”

For more information, contact Fran Di Meglio at 203.216.8318 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Greenwich Catholic School Upper School Construction Project Update
| August 10, 2016


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GREENWICH—Since school let out in June, construction on Greenwich Catholic School (GCS)’s Upper School has been in full swing, with crews working around the clock to renovate and expand the building.





The school consists of six buildings on a 38-acre campus in Greenwich’s Byram neighborhood. The Upper School houses students in grades 6-8.

Bishop Frank Caggiano will join GCS staff and benefactors for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the renovated Upper School building on October 11 at 10 am.

After only eight weeks, the Upper School construction project is past the half-way mark, with an estimated completion by mid-September. The scope of the renovation includes the addition of two classrooms totaling 3400 square feet, right-sizing of existing classrooms, renovated ADA compliant bathrooms, a new energy-efficient HVAC system, maintenance free exterior trim, and a new roof.
 
“The new building will have the greatest impact on our students’ educational experience.  Academically, the renovations will allow for a more collaborative learning atmosphere for our middle school students since their classes will now be located in the same space,” said GCS Principal Patrice Kopas. “Teachers will retain valuable instructional time now that students will not have to travel between buildings for their core subjects.”

Construction on the Upper School began at a critical juncture.  The School Advisory Board facilities chair, Mario Gaztambide, explained, “The infrastructure had begun to age to a point where repairs were constant and costly.” The renovation not only addresses immediate needs, but is also an investment in the future of the school.  “Through the deliberate choice of energy-efficient and sustainable materials, we’ll see yearly savings on our energy bills and maintenance costs,” added Gaztambide.

Funding for the project has been due to the success of the school’s first capital campaign, Imagine, which to date has raised $1.9 million. GCS is still accepting donations for the project, which is estimated to cost over $2 million by its completion.

“We’ve been talking about this project for so long that sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s really happening,” Kopas said. “It’s exciting. I just keep picturing the students in their new classrooms and can’t wait for them to see their new building.”

To donate to the Upper School Construction Project, contact Cici Coutant, director of advancement, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 203.869.4000 ext. 139.


Register Now for Women’s Conference
| August 10, 2016


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TRUMBULL—Women of all ages are invited to participate in the third annual Women’s Conference for the Diocese of Bridgeport, “Made By Love, For Love,” to be held Saturday, November 12, at the St. Catherine of Siena Family Center, 210 Shelton Rd, Trumbull, Conn.


The conference will run from check-in at 9:30 am until the closing Mass at 5:30 pm.

Enjoy time spent away “from the world” to focus on personal spiritual health while surrounded by other Catholic women doing the same. The conference will feature dynamic keynote speakers, Mass celebrated by Msgr. Thomas Powers, opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and private Eucharistic adoration, Eucharistic procession, communal prayer and Catholic vendors.

Speakers include Simcha Fisher, Catholic mom and blogger; Damon Owens, certified speaker for the Theology of the Body Institute; and Sr. Mary Elizabeth Wusinich, SV, Vicar General for the Sisters of Life.

Cost is $45/person (includes breakfast, lunch, snack, and hospitality bag). Religious sisters are free. Accommodations are available for nursing moms of infants. Financial assistance is available for women in need or students. For scholarship information, please contact Maureen Ciardiello at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 203.416.1445. For more information about the conference, visit http://www.bridgeportwomensconference.org/.

Click here to see the flyer.


Knights of Columbus St. Pius X Council Soccer Challenge Champions
| August 10, 2016


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FAIRFIELD—Seven boys and girls from Fairfield, Conn ages 9-14, were named local champions of the 2016 Knights of Columbus Soccer Challenge and have earned the right to compete at the regional level. St. Pius X Council 16347 in Fairfield, Conn sponsored the competition at Ludlowe Middle School on August 6, 2016.


Shane Hillis was the 9 year old boys' champion and Madeline Muenzen won the 9 year old girls' division.  Elizabeth Martin was the 10 year old girls' champion and Evan O'Neil was the winner of the 10 year old boys' division. In the 12 year old bracket, Julia Martin was the girls' champion and Kevin Maloney was the boys' champion.  The 14 year old boys' champion was Ian Sacci.Each of these winners will compete in the regional competitions to be held this fall with an eye toward moving on to the state and international levels.


Shehan Center Rolls Out Vehicle Donation Program
| August 09, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—The Cardinal Shehan Center seeks unwanted, unused, or problematic vehicles for its vehicle donation program. The program will benefit the Shehan Center's After School & Saturday Program.


The vehicle donation process is secure and easy. The Shehan Center program will take care of towing to the sale of each car at no cost to donors.

Bridgeport’s Cardinal Shehan Center is a non-profit organization that serves the recreational, educational and social needs of moderate and low-income families and youth of lower Fairfield County.

Shehan’s After School & Saturday Program runs weekdays after school until 5 pm and Saturdays from 10 am-2 pm throughout the school year, providing a fun, safe environment for children in pre-K through eighth grade. Daily activities include, among others, homework help, library time, computers, Girl Scouts, dance and fitness, sports, arts and crafts, photography and a leadership program.

To schedule your FREE vehicle pick-up to benefit the Shehan Center’s program, call 1.877.343.GIVE (4483) or visit http://shehancenter.careasy.org/HOME.html.


St. Stephen, Bridgeport, Reunion Planned
| August 09, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—The Reunion Committee of St. Stephen’s Parochial School, formerly in Bridgeport, invites alumni and their families to an all-school reunion on Sunday, October 9, at 12:30 pm at Testo’s Restaurant, 1775 Madison Ave, Bridgeport. St. Stephen of Hungary Parish and School were closed in 1971.


Alumni of St. Stephen’s have held reunions in the past to keep alive the memory of the school, parish and Hungarian community, which once dominated the West End of Bridgeport. The old brick school building is now owned by the City of Bridgeport.

Due to changing demographics in the West End and a lack of parishioners, the Diocese of Bridgeport consolidated two Hungarian parishes to make one on October 10, 1971. St. Stephen of Hungary merged with St. Emery in Fairfield, a parish that continues to remember its Hungarian heritage. St. Emery celebrates the only Hungarian Roman Catholic Mass in Connecticut at 11 am each Sunday.

The October reunion will bring together alumni from the old West End school.

“I encourage people to attend and to remember the school and the old Hungarian community of Bridgeport,” said Nancy Legari, a member of the St. Stephen’s Reunion Committee.

The committee, consisting of alumni Marie Kassay, Mary Anne Corcoran, Barbara Chuga, Kathy Sherwood and Nancy Sebol, hopes to hold biannual reunions in the future.

The afternoon begins at 12:30 pm with a family-style lunch at 1. There will be a cash bar. Cost is $35 per person (including lunch). Please make reservations by September 25. For more information or to reserve a spot, please call Barbara Chuga at 203.268.4535.


Bishop Frank Caggiano op-ed: Pilgrims return from Poland ‘transformed’
| August 07, 2016


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Published in CTPost.com

BRIDGEPORT—After more than 10 days spent in Poland for World Youth Day, all our pilgrims and chaperones from the Diocese of Bridgeport have returned home safely, transformed by this remarkable experience shared with almost 2 million young from close to 190 countries across the globe.


To see the rich diversity of the group, to participate in the joyful song of our music leaders, to witness the dance of praise that accompanied each day’s morning prayer was to see the beauty of our Catholic Church at its best. Every young pilgrim who attended could not but be touched by the majesty, diversity and strength of our Catholic family spread all throughout the world. It is this lesson of community that I hope is learned by every pilgrim who has come to Krakow.

Our pilgrimage was not without its challenges—just as it should be. Every pilgrimage is an opportunity to step on unfamiliar ground, to put aside our comfortable routines and certainties, and to make ourselves vulnerable in order to learn and grow.

As our Holy Father reminded young people in his World Youth Day homily, “When it comes to Jesus, we cannot sit around waiting with arms folded; he offers us life—we can’t respond by thinking about it or ‘texting’ a few words!”

This year I was privileged to be asked to celebrate Mass and deliver the homily to all the American pilgrims who traveled to Krakow. In reflecting on the lives of Blessed Mother Theresa, Saint Maximilian Kolbe and St. Pope John Paul II, I told the young people that faith has the power to make we who are “ordinary” people into extraordinary ministers of mercy through lives of service and love. Our faith can take us where no one dares to go, and gives us the strength to reach out in love and respect.

Through the eyes of faith we can see what other people are blind to: the suffering and disenfranchised, those who are despised and neglected; that, as our Holy Father has spoken, people in need our not problems to be solved but our brothers and sisters to be loved in their hour of suffering.

Indeed the words of Pope Francis at the Closing Mass of World Youth Day are a clarion call to young people around the world. He urged them not to give in to fear or divisiveness or to retreat from the world because the challenges are daunting and at times overwhelming. The pope’s challenge speaks to youth of all faiths and of no faith—taking the easy way in life is not a path toward greatness or fulfillment.

“Thinking that in this world, in our cities and our communities, there is no longer any room to grow, to dream, to create, to gaze at new horizons—in a word to live—is one of the worst things that can happen to us in life. When we are paralyzed, we miss the magic of encountering others, making friends, sharing dreams, walking at the side of others,” said Pope Francis.

He continued, “God expects something from you. God wants something from you. God hopes in you. God comes to break down all our fences. He comes to open the doors of our lives, our dreams, our ways of seeing things. God comes to break open everything that keeps you closed in. He is encouraging you to dream. He wants to make you see that, with you, the world can be different. For the fact is, unless you offer the best of yourselves, the world will never be different.”

Spending time with your young people from Fairfield County and others across the globe has made me more optimistic than ever about our future. Their longing for spiritual wholeness, their acceptance of diversity and instinctive readiness to serve are helping to lead us forward.

Though we may be going through a time of division and uncertainty both locally and internationally, our young people give us hope. Let us pray that in the words of Pope Francis they become true bridge builders, that they continue to reach out to one another in faith and mercy, and have the courage to change the world.

My thanks go out to all the generous donors who made this pilgrimage possible by subsidizing the cost of travel, to all those who planned, organized and chaperoned the trip, and most of all to our young people themselves who can do extraordinary thing in their faith. Our young are not the future; they are here now and their leadership is renewing our church and our society.


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Saint Charles Borromeo Pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Divine Mercy
| August 05, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—In answer to the Year of Mercy, nearly 400 parishioners from St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bridgeport made a pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass., on July 30. The pilgrimage was one of many ongoing Year of Mercy initiatives at St. Charles.






Participants in the pilgrimage included all three priests and two deacons of St. Charles, the parish youth group and members of the parish’s American, Brazilian, Haitian and Hispanic communities. Pilgrims began the day with Morning Prayer on all six buses. Upon arrival to the Shrine, the group prayed the Stations of the Cross in four languages, guided by the accompanying clergy of the parish.

Father Frank Gomez, pastor of St. Charles, celebrated Mass for the hundreds gathered. Father Gomez encouraged pilgrims “not to be afraid to open the doors of your hearts to the moments of grace that God gives us each day.”

The parishioners of St. Charles have made annual pilgrimages to the Shrine for the past few years, but had never seen such a large turnout. “It was really my push as a pastor to encourage people to attend. Importantly, there was a great response on the part of the clergy. Above all, the parishioners are listening to the voice of the Holy Father.”

Orchestrating encounters with God in the Year of Mercy is important to Father Gomez and other clergy and parishioners at St. Charles. The parish is designated as one of the diocesan Centers of Mercy, meaning that it is open for the Sacrament of Reconciliation from 7-8:30 pm each Thursday during the Year of Mercy.

St. Charles is not merely a stop for confession, however. During the designated confession time on Thursday nights, the parish hosts Mass and Eucharistic adoration in the open church. Father Gomez then prays the Chaplet of Divine Mercy with those gathered before closing with Benediction at 8:30.

“We also promote acts of charity among the kids and the youth group, creating currents for works of mercy,” Father Gomez said. A back-to-school party is planned for the coming weeks, another Year of Mercy initiative wherein parishioners are invited to fill backpacks with school supplies for those in need.

Parishioners of all ages and from all four communities within the parish have been responsive to the Year of Mercy initiatives established by Father Gomez. At the July pilgrimage, “we had babies up to an 89-year-old woman who has always been faithful to our Church, and members of all four communities at our parish,” reflected Father Gomez.

The pilgrimage promoted parish unity during the Year of Mercy in a peaceful atmosphere at the National Shrine.

Father Gomez was delighted to see the tremendous numbers who made the pilgrimage. “As a pastor, it gives me hope to see that people responded to this initiative. We were seeing the church alive.”


#witness at this year’s Fan the Fire
| August 03, 2016


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NEWTOWN—Teens in grades 8 through 12 are invited to the 11th annual Fan the Fire Eucharist-Centered Youth Rally on Saturday, August 13, from 9 am to 9 pm on the grounds of St. Rose of Lima Church, 38 Church Hill Rd, Newtown, Conn. This year’s theme is #witness.


Fan the Fire is a one-day event designed to help teens deepen their relationship with Christ. Each year, hundreds of teens gather to celebrate and learn about their Catholic faith.

Fan the Fire will feature fun and inspirational talks, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, recitation of the Rosary, Eucharistic adoration, a teen Mass, games and entertainment provided by Catholic speaker and recording artist Steve Angrisano. Kevin Donovan and Katie Keogler will lead the music ministry.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the main celebrant.

“We are extremely excited that Steve and our own Bishop Caggiano are coming to Fan the Fire this year,” said Rodd Blessey, Fan the Fire host. “The event continues to be a fun day for all teens from our diocese and beyond to come together and learn more about their faith.”

Fan the Fire is presented in association with Fan the Fire ministries and the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Cost is $40; includes lunch and dinner. For more information, contact your youth minister or pastor or call Maria Cerdena at 203.416.1454 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Visit the Fan the Fire website

Click here to listen to Steve Angrisano's "A Rightful Place"


Chili for Charity
| August 03, 2016


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FAIRFIELD—St. Matthew Knights of Columbus held a battle in the kitchen to raise money for Al’s Angels. The battle was waged on Reef Road in Fairfield, but the champion prevailed.

There was a lot of competition from many other fine cooks, but the 2015 Chili Knight Out “Chili Cook Off” champion came through again.


On a rainy day, Knights of Columbus St. Matthew Council 14360 held their Second Annual Chili Cook Off fundraiser at Saugatuck Sweets in Fairfield. Nine Knights from the council and two guests cooked 11 chili entries, ranging from super spicy to scrumptiously sweet.  Defending Champion and Past Grand Knight George Ribellino did it again. With more than 35 votes counted by the sampling judges for the best, hottest and Best-named recipes. Ribellino, council supporters Nona Rudd & Nadia Cossuto, and Grand Knight Scott Criscuolo won the best chili awards respectively. In addition William Scholl won best-named chili and Nona Rudd won for hottest chili. More importantly, a total of $500 in donations was collected and will be donated to Al’s Angel’s.
 
“Once again I was happy to see the number of chili cooks & judges who came out on a rainy day to help our Knights of Columbus council support Al’s Angels during our second annual chili cook-off, said Committee Chairman Ericc Moretti. “The competition this year was truly fierce and it’s amazing the amount of support that we receive from the community when we hold a “fun-raiser” like this one. It’s even better when we present a sizable donation to a charity such as Al’s Angel’s.” Criscuolo was pleased with everyone’s effort despite the wet weather. “The weather worked against us, but instead of quitting we banded together and adapted to the surroundings and still put on a great event for both Al’s Angels, the council and the Fairfield community.

The mission of Al’s Angels is to provide holiday meals and gifts to children battling cancer, rare blood diseases and severe financial hardship. Please visit www.alsangels.org for more information.

The goals of the Knights of Columbus Council at Saint Matthew Church in Norwalk is to perform acts of charity. Providing those in need with a range of support from financial to tactical help in dealing with a wide variety of challenges. Council members work together to foster the founding principles of our order; Charity, Unity, Fraternity & Patriotism. Our goal as a council is to continue to identify specific needs in our community and muster support and help to alleviate these challenges and hardships to the best of our abilities and resources. For more information please go to www.saintmatthewknights.com.


Young pilgrims say they hope to find joy as missionaries of mercy
| August 02, 2016 • by Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service


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KRAKOW, Poland—Tara Gouldring never thought of herself as a missionary to others.


Sean Goug, 26, of England, prays at Sacred Heart Church
in Krakow, Poland, July 28. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

But the 18-year-old from Birmingham, England, decided it's not such a strange idea after hearing Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, during a morning catechetical session July 28 during World Youth Day.

"It's inspiring to see God's mercy in so many ways and how I can bring it into my life and how (to) love people even though they do you wrong," Gouldring told Catholic News Service.

"You can start with prayer for people who need help and hope to help more from there," she said.

Bishop Caggiano's talk at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church focused on the idea that anyone can become a missionary of mercy by showing compassion, love and a caring attitude toward anyone who is suffering.

He took the 150 young people in the church, most from the Archdiocese of Birmingham, England, back to the days before he became a priest. He was a sales representative for a major publisher in New York City, and on his way to work every morning he saw a homeless man in a plaza along the Avenue of the Americas. For weeks, he said, he ignored the man.

"I was so self-absorbed it took me two months to realize this was a man there. I would literally step over him," the bishop said.

Soon, he began giving the man $1 every day.

"I thought I was giving him what he needed. I thought I was doing something good. I thought I was an OK Catholic," he said.

Today, he realizes he was being far from merciful.

"My friends, that may be good enough for the world, but that's not good enough for Jesus Christ. That is not what we are being called to do. We are being called to more than that," Bishop Caggiano explained.

Then, dressed in the traditional bishop's cassock, waist sash and zucchetto, he got down on his knees and acted out how he should have responded.

"You get down on your knees and put your hands under them and you bring them close to you and you lift them up," he said. "And the smell of the sheep is when your heart and their heart are so close that they touch."

Acting with mercy can occur toward anyone at any time, as long as it is done to follow the example of Jesus, he said, suggesting that World Youth Day 2016 can be the start of merciful actions on the part of everyone attending the six-day celebration of faith.

"Is it easy? No. Is it going to be something you and I will fail at? Yes. Are we going to learn from failure? Yes, because Christ will love us," Bishop Caggiano said.

The bishop, who was the U.S. bishops' episcopal liaison for World Youth Day, called on each member of the audience to become a missionary of mercy one person at a time.

Bridget Phiri, 20, of Wolverhampton, England, said she saw herself in Bishop Caggiano's story of giving money to the homeless man in New York.

"Instead of just handing people money, I should get up and give them a hug and make them feel like they're a person too, like they're accepted in society. Something more physical than just giving them some coins and walking by," she said.

"I think I need to re-evaluate how I look at things now and how I act toward people who are homeless or less fortunate," Phiri said.

It comes down to letting God flow through each person's action, concluded Toby Duckworth, 21, of Streetly, England, who will enter the Venerable English College in Rome as a seminarian in August.

"The challenge is to go beyond what the world sees as mercy. To go beyond even what we as human beings think is merciful. To me that is constant challenge, always, everywhere," Duckworth told CNS.

Returning home to England and elsewhere, pilgrims will find it difficult to go beyond their normal circles, he acknowledged. But such work is never easy. The challenge is "be Jesus to others," he said.


World Youth Day pilgrims return
| August 02, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—After more than ten days spent in Poland for World Youth Day, all 231 pilgrims from the Diocese of Bridgeport have returned.





Young men and women arrived yesterday evening at the Catholic Center in Bridgeport after upwards of twelve hours of travel.

Pilgrims spent the last week visiting pilgrimage sites around Poland, including the home of the Black Madonna icon and St. John Paul II’s boyhood home; praying, singing and dancing with other pilgrims from close to 190 countries; and welcoming and celebrating Mass with Pope Francis. Organizers estimate that close to two million people gathered in Krakow for the festivities.

“To see the rich diversity of the group, to participate in the joyful song of our music leaders, to witness the dance of praise that accompanied the morning prayer was to see the beauty of our Church at its best,” shared Bishop Caggiano via his Facebook page. “Every young pilgrim who attended could not but be touched by the majesty, diversity and strength of our Catholic family spread all throughout the world. It is this lesson of community that I hope is learned by every pilgrim who has come to Krakow.”

Despite apparent setbacks, diocesan pilgrims remained in high spirits throughout the course of the trip. The pilgrimage began with an unexpected delay when one of two planes carrying diocesan pilgrims had to be diverted back to New York due to a medical emergency of a passenger not from the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Heroically performing his duty as diocesan shepherd, Bishop Frank Caggiano chose to wait in the airport with the stranded pilgrims. The bishop and one hundred other pilgrims spent the night in the airport as they awaited a second flight.

The pilgrims arrived safely in Warsaw the next day. They faced impassable rain, miles-long walks each day and outdoor camping to participate in World Youth Day gatherings.

The group was preemptively heeding Pope Francis’ advice from his Sunday homily. “When it comes to Jesus, we cannot sit around waiting with arms folded; he offers us life—we can’t respond by thinking about it or ‘texting’ a few words!” exclaimed the pontiff.

Janet Davis and John Grosso served as coordinators of the diocesan World Youth Day pilgrimage. Both worked tirelessly for the past eighteen months, coordinating WYD efforts on top of their full-time jobs at the diocese.

Upon his return from Krakow, Grosso said, “This trip has seen moments of total joy, and moments of profound exhaustion. In light of this pilgrimage, I marvel at how amazing and bountiful the Holy Spirit is. I treasure my World Youth Day family greatly.”

Pope Francis encouraged young people gathered at Sunday’s World Youth Day Closing Mass in Krakow not to forget their faith after returning home. “The Lord doesn’t want to remain in this beautiful city, or in cherished memories alone. He wants to enter your homes, to dwell in your daily lives: in your studies, your first years of work, your friendships and affections, your hopes and dreams. How greatly he desires that you bring all this to him in prayer!”

Pope Francis announced Sunday that the next World Youth Day will be held in Panama in 2019.

Click here to listen to Bishop Caggiano’s July 30 homily to United States pilgrims.


World Youth Day draws to a close
| August 01, 2016


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KRAKOW, POLAND—Pilgrims from the Diocese of Bridgeport will return home this evening after an eventful World Youth Day gathering with one million others from nearly two hundred countries around the world.


Pope Francis celebrated World Youth Day’s Closing Mass yesterday, July 31, for an estimated 1.6 million pilgrims. He announced that the next World Youth Day will be held in Panama in 2019.

67 young adults from the Diocese of Bridgeport made the nearly nine-mile trek to Saturday night’s prayer vigil, then camped out in preparation for Sunday’s Closing Mass. Bishop Frank Caggiano stayed back at the hostel with the rest of the diocesan pilgrims. He relayed Pope Francis’ words to a captivated room of more than 100.

"Following Jesus demands courage and a readiness to set out on new and uncharted paths,” the pontiff shared at Saturday’s vigil. In Sunday’s homily, he urged young people not to be “couch potatoes,” but to be alert and awake, as the Bible says.

While diocesan young adult pilgrims remained at the vigil site to celebrate Mass with the Holy Father, the rest of the pilgrims stayed in the hostel to watch the Closing Mass with Bishop Caggiano. After the conclusion of the Closing Mass, Bishop Caggiano celebrated a private Mass for the remaining pilgrims.

Pilgrims then returned to the hostel to pack and prepare for their return home.

The pilgrims are scheduled to arrive tonight on two separate flights.

For the most up-to-date information on what the Diocese of Bridgeport’s pilgrims are doing, check out the diocese’s WYD Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WYD2016/.


Pope says fallen world prefers ‘couch potatoes’ to youth who are awake
| July 31, 2016 • by Inés San Martín, cruxnow.com


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KRAKOW, Poland—Addressing more than a million young women and men who’d walked almost nine miles to participate in a prayer vigil, Pope Francis called on youth not to be “couch potatoes.”


“The times we live in do not call for young ‘couch potatoes’ but for young people with shoes, or better, boots laced. It only takes players on the first string, and it has no room for bench-warmers,” Francis said.

Talking to young people on Saturday night in Krakow, Poland, where they’ve been participating in a week-long rally called World Youth Day, Francis warned them against the “sofa-happiness,” calling it the most “harmful and insidious form of paralysis.”

A sofa, he said, that “makes us feel comfortable, calm, safe,” away from any kind of pain or fear, spending hours playing video games or in front of a computer screen.

He said it’s a dangerous paralysis because as “we start to nod off” other people, “more alert” but “not necessarily better, decide our future for us.”

For many people, Francis warned, it’s better to have drowsy, tone-deaf and dull kids who confuse happiness with a sofa.

“For many people, that is more convenient than having young people who are alert and searching, trying to respond to God’s dream and to all the restlessness present in the human heart,” the pope said, adding that they hadn’t come into this world to “vegetate, to take it easy” but to “leave a mark.”

“But when we opt for ease and convenience, for confusing happiness with consumption, then we end up paying a high price indeed: we lose our freedom,” Francis said.

Following Jesus, the pope continued, demands courage and a readiness to change the couch for walking shoes.

“[God] is encouraging you to dream. He wants to make you see that, with you, the world can be different. For the fact is, unless you offer the best of yourselves, the world will never be different,” Francis said.

Throughout the day, young pilgrims staying in Krakow and in cities surrounding it to participate in World Youth Day (WYD) trekked on foot to arrive at Campus Misericordiae, a field prepared for the occasion on the outskirts of Krakow.

Many made the hike carrying backpacks and sleeping bags, since they’ll spend the night in the field. Along the way, hundreds of Polish people came out from their homes to give them fresh water and, in some cases, even to hose them down to help them keep cool.

At Campus Misericordiae, on a 100-yard-long altar area where the final Mass will be celebrated Sunday morning, Francis led them in prayer, but before and after him, several dozen artists from around the world kept the flow going.

During the night, after the pope left the field, chapels for adoration were set to be open all night and priests available for confession in many designated areas.

“Today’s world demands that you be a protagonist of history, because life is always beautiful when we choose to live it fully, when we choose to leave a mark,” a visibly animated Francis said, responding to the questions posed to him by three youth before the Eucharistic adoration began.

The pontiff was visibly moved by the experience of Rand Mittri, a 26-year-old Syrian from Aleppo, who told the pope and the millions attentively listening to her that her city has been destroyed, and “the meaning of our lives has been cancelled. We are the forgotten.”

Attempting to “share a few aspects of our reality” with those participating in the event, Mittri spoke about the fear that overcomes her when she leaves her home every morning, because she knows it’s possible that when she comes back from work, her family might not be there.

“Perhaps we will be killed that day. Or perhaps our family will,” she said.

“It is a hard and painful feeling to know that you are surrounded by death and killing, and there is no way to escape; no one to help,” Mittri said, visibly emotional, before an audience that was equally tearing up.

This young woman shared her personal experience with the ongoing Syrian war, which began five years ago and has caused the death of 400,000 people, and which does not seem to be coming to an end any time soon.

The conflict, she said, has caused her to grow up ahead of time and to see things differently.

Mittri works at a Don Bosco Center in Aleppo, which daily receives more than 700 young men and women who “come hoping to see a smile,” and seeking something lacking in their lives - she called it “humanitarian treatment.”

“But it is very difficult for me to give joy and faith to others, while I myself am bankrupt of these things in my life,” Mittri said.

“Through my meager life experience, I have learned that my faith in Christ supersedes the circumstances of life. This truth is not conditioned on living a life of peace that is free of hardship. More and more, I believe that God exists despite all of our pain,” she said.

Pope Francis began his remarks talking about Mittri, who was the second of the three who shared their lives with the crowd. He talked about where the pilgrims who took part in WYD come from: from countries at conflict and war, or from countries “at peace” where most terrible things are stories on the evening news.

“For us, here, today, coming from different parts of the world, the suffering and the wars that many young people experience for us are no longer anonymous, something we read about in the papers. They have a name, they have a face, they have a story, they are close at hand,” Francis said.

Throughout the week, Christians who are victims of persecution around the world had a special place at World Youth Day, with Archbishop Bashar Warda of Iraq addressing over 20,000 English-speaking pilgrims at the Mercy Center, the largest catechesis spot in Krakow, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.

Warda came to Poland with 200 pilgrims from his country, some of whom carried the cross during the Way of the Cross prayer on Friday.

Saturday’s vigil was the eve of the closing of a week-long celebration and affirmation of the Catholic faith. Young people from around the globe gathered in the city of St. John Paul II to share their experiences, to pray together and to get to know the reality of Christians living in different places.

For one week, no border divided Americans from Mexicans, Middle Easterners from Europeans, Ukrainians from Russians. For one week, the remainder of what unites them was more important than that which divides them.

As the pope put it, situations that would typically seem distant, “because we see them on the screen of a cell phone or a computer,” became a reality for many.

Getting involved, Francis said, is not about “denouncing anyone or fighting” because “we have no desire to conquer hatred with more hatred, violence with more violence, terror with more terror.”

“Our response to a world at war has a name: its name is fraternity, its name is brotherhood, its name is communion, its name is family,” the pope said.

“Let our best word, our best argument, be our unity in prayer,” Francis said.

Close to the end of his remarks, the pontiff encouraged the youth to take the path of the “craziness” of God, “who teaches us to encounter him in the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, the friend in trouble, the prisoner, the refugee and the migrant, and our neighbors who feel abandoned.”

God, he told them, encourages the young to be politicians, thinkers, social activists, and promoters of an economy inspired by solidarity.

Amid all the seriousness during these days, with Francis’ visit to the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and often talking about some of today’s dramas such as war, terrorism and migration, the pope nevertheless found moments on Saturday to let it all hang out.

For instance, earlier in the day, he had lunch with 14 youngsters, including one from Brazil. Known for his love for soccer, Francis asked the young man who’s better, Argentina’s famous soccer player Maradona or Brazil’s Pele. To which he answered that, “as a Brazilian” it’s another Argentinian, Lionel Messi.

He had a similar relaxed moment at the beginning of the vigil. He was scheduled to go through a Holy Door accompanied by six young people. After doing so, he unexpectedly invited them to join him on the Popemobile, took them for a spin and then asked them to sit next to him on stage.

Towards the end of his remarks on Saturday’s vigil, Francis said that nowadays it’s easier to concentrate on divisions, and asked everyone on the Campus Misericordiae to hold hands, building a “great fraternal bridge.”

“People try to make us believe that being closed in on ourselves is the best way to keep safe from harm. Today, we adults need you to teach us how to live in diversity, in dialogue, to experience multiculturalism not as a threat but an opportunity,” the pope said.

 


Seeing with the eyes of God changes our hearts, minds and spirits
| July 31, 2016


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Listen to Bishop Caggiano's World Youth Day homily

KRAKOW—What a faith-filled and spectacular World Youth Day it has been for young pilgrims from the Diocese of Bridgeport!


The 231 young people and their chaperones joined more than a million young people from around the globe for Mass with Pope Francis, listened to Bishop Caggiano stirring homily to English speaking pilgrims, reflects on World Youth Day Pilgrims, and deepened their faith every step of the way.

Bishop Caggiano entered this reflection on Facebook:

"As was true for the last three World Youth Days that I have had the privilege to attend, this year I am serving as a bishop catechist for English-speaking pilgrims here in Krakow. This means that I am joining 30 other English language bishops in providing a brief catechetical lesson for three consecutive days beginning this past Wednesday. Following the talk there is also time for dialogue with the pilgrims and to answer whatever questions they raise. For the past two days, the topic has been the nature of mercy and our obligation to become missionaries of mercy in the world.

On Wednesday, I was taken by car to a small neighborhood about 40 minutes away from the center of Krakow where I spent the morning with pilgrims from Hong Kong, Zimbabwe, Malta, Pakistan, India, the United Kingdom and a group from Southern California. The pilgrims from Zimbabwe provided the music for the Mass that concluded the morning session. To see the rich diversity of the group, to participate in the joyful song of our music leaders, to witness the dance of praise that accompanied the morning prayer was to see the beauty of our Church at its best. Every young pilgrim who attended could not but be touched by the majesty, diversity and strength of our Catholic family spread all throughout the world. It is this lesson of community that I hope is learned by every pilgrim who has come to Krakow.

The topic of the morning was the nature of mercy. After my remarks, during the question period, a number of pilgrims raised topics that were both powerful and poignant. For example, a pilgrim from Pakistan asked how was it possible to show mercy to the members of ISIS who are terrorizing Christians in his homeland? How can they be forgiven?

Another pilgrim asked how was it possible to be merciful to someone who continues to hurt you? Questions such as these show a real maturity in these pilgrims, who are struggling with real life issues while striving to remain faithful to their Catholic faith. They give me great hope and encouragement!

I have often said that I leave WYD enriched in ways far beyond what I could ever offer the pilgrims I encounter. After Wednesday’s catechetical session, my riches are overflowing!"


Cardinal Langlois urges Catholics to support retired Haitian priests
| July 29, 2016


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TRUMBULL—Dozens welcomed His Eminence Chibly Cardinal Langlois, Haitian cardinal and president of Haiti’s Bishops’ Conference, to a July 23 Night of Solidarity with Retired Haitian Priests at St. Catherine in Trumbull.


The night served as a fundraiser for retired Haitian priests “because they do not have any place to go after retirement. We are trying to build a house for them,” said Father Churchill Penn, parochial vicar at Saint Charles Borromeo Parish in Bridgeport.

Father Penn, who orchestrated the event, is himself a Haitian priest serving in the Diocese of Bridgeport. He celebrates Masses in the Haitian Creole language four times a week at St. Charles.

Frantz Lauture and Monfred Lima served as Masters of Ceremony for the evening, which opened with a prayer and welcome from Father Joseph Marcello, St. Catherine’s pastor. Attendees heard presentations from Consul General of Haiti the Honorable Peter Elder Bernard and Cardinal Langlois, who urged all there to support retired Haitian priests with nowhere to go.

The night then moved into performances by the Angels of God youth musical group and the United Family of Jesus group.

Father Penn thanked everyone for warmly welcoming the cardinal. “We hope that people, with open hearts, would help this noble cause. These priests have given their lives in service, and we should find it in our hearts to help them.”

Click here to see the photos from the day


Pope pays tribute to Holocaust victims in silence, prayer
| July 29, 2016 • by Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service


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OSWIECIM, Poland—Sitting with head bowed and eyes closed, Pope Francis paid silent tribute to the victims of one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century.The pope arrived July 29 at the Auschwitz-BirkenauNazi death camp in Oswiecim, an area now blanketed by green fields and empty barracks lined by barbed wire fences, remnants of a horror that remains embedded in history.


Used by the Nazis from 1940 to 1945, the camp was the Nazi's largest and consisted of three parts: Auschwitz I, where many were imprisoned and murdered; the Birkenau extermination camp -- also known as Auschwitz II -- and Auschwitz III (Auschwitz-Monowitz), an area of auxiliary camps that included several factories.

In 1942, Auschwitz became the site of the mass extermination of over 1 million Jews, 23,000 Roma, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war and thousands of Polish citizens of different nationalities.

Among those killed were St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar, and Edith Stein, a Jewish philosopher who converted to Catholicism and became a Carmelite nun, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

Crossing the gate inscribed with the infamous motto "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work sets you free") the pope quietly sat on a small bench for 10 minutes with his head bowed, occasionally glancing somberly around before closing his eyes in silent prayer.

He stood up, and slowly walked up to the wooden post of one of the barracks, reverently touching and kissing it.

The pope then made his way to Block 11 to greet a dozen survivors of the camp, including a 101-year-old violinist, who survived by being in the camp orchestra. Pope Francis greeted each survivor individually, gently grabbing their hands and kissing their cheeks.

Among the survivors was Naftali Furst of Bratislava, Slovakia, who was deported to Auschwitz and was evacuated to Buchenwald in January 1945 before his liberation.

Furst, who now lives in Israel, gave the pope a photograph showing him and other inmates imprisoned in the Auschwitz barracks.

Pope Francis also signed a book for Furst before he made his way toward the "death wall" where thousands of prisoners were lined up and shot in the back of the head before their bodies were sent to the crematoriums.

Candle in hand, the pope lit an oil lamp in front of the wall, before praying and laying his hand on the wall. He then turned around and entered the barracks of Block 11.

Also known as "the death block" because the Nazis used it to inflict torture, it houses the cell where St. Maximilian Kolbe spent his final hours, starved and dehydrated before being given a lethal injection of carbolic acid.

Pope Francis entered the darkened cell, illuminated by a faint light from the corridor, revealing a candle, an engraved plaque marking the site of the Franciscan friar's death, and countless words -- even a cross -- etched on the walls by those who spent their final moments in the starvation cell.

Once again Pope Francis sat in silence with his head bowed. Alone in the cell for eight minutes, he occasionally looked up to contemplate his surroundings.

Outside the cell, he signed the visitors' book, writing a simple message: "Lord, have mercy on your people. Lord, forgive so much cruelty."

Pope Francis then made his way to the Holocaust memorial at Auschwitz II-Birkenau, driven in an electric cart on a path parallel to the railroad tracks that carried countless men, women and children to their doom. It now leads to a monument that honors their memory.

To the left of the memorial lay the ruins of one of four crematoriums used to incinerate the bodies of those who died of disease or starvation or who were executed in the two gas chambers housed within the extermination camp.

The pope approached the memorial to the victims, lined with 23 plaques, each inscribed with a message in a different language: "Forever let this place be a cry of despair and a warning to humanity, where the Nazis murdered about one and a half million men, women and children, mainly Jews from various countries of Europe."

Passing each plaque, Pope Francis reached the end of the monument where he set a candle in a large glass bowl and once again stood in silence, clasping his hands together over his chest in prayer.

While he prayed, the voice of Poland's Chief Rabbi Michael Joseph Schudrich echoed Psalm 130 in Hebrew throughout the camp. The psalm begins with a cry to God: "From the depths I have cried out to you, O Lord."

The event ended with the pope greeting 25 people honored as "righteous among the nations," a recognition of non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazi extermination.

Among those present for the solemn occasion was Rabbi Abraham Skorka, a longtime friend of the pope from Buenos Aires.

Speaking to journalists July 28, Rabbi Skorka recalled a telephone conversation with Pope Francis in which he asked about the visit to Auschwitz.

"The pope told me, "I am going to behave the same way I did in Armenia -- the places where people were killed -- I will remain silent,'" he said.

"From a theological point of view and from a biblical point of view, this attitude means a lot," the rabbi said.


World Youth Day pilgrims officially welcome Pope Francis
| July 28, 2016


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KRAKOW, POLAND—Today, July 28, pilgrims from around the world officially welcomed Pope Francis to World Youth Day.


Although Pope Francis arrived in Warsaw July 27, today begins his official visit.

Yesterday, Pope Francis was greeted upon his arrival in Poland by Poland’s president Andrzej Duda; his wife, Agata Kornhauser–Duda; and the archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz.

By a stroke of luck, Social Media Leader John Grosso, Father Augustine Nguyen, and a few pilgrims from the Diocese of Bridgeport were able to catch a glimpse of the Holy Father riding through the streets just after his arrival.

Today, nearly one million pilgrims gathered in Błonia Park for an official reception of Pope Francis in a World Youth Day Welcome Ceremony at 5:30 pm CEST/11:30 am EDT.

Tomorrow, diocesan pilgrims will join hundreds of thousands of others to take part in the Stations of the Cross with the Holy Father.

Click here to view photos from WYD


Days Five and Six in Poland: World Youth Day officially begins
| July 27, 2016


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KRAKOW, POLAND—On Monday, World Youth Day pilgrims from the Diocese of Bridgeport spent the evening celebrating Mass with Cardinal O'Malley from Boston and thousands of other pilgrims from the United States at the Basilica of Divine Mercy, the resting place of St. Faustina. 


After Mass, pilgrims ate dinner at the Park Inn and explored Krakow’s city center in their groups.

Yesterday, July 26, pilgrims started with a restful morning, with different groups deciding to sleep in, explore Krakow further, and go to morning catechesis with other pilgrims from the United States. That afternoon, World Youth Day pilgrims from more than 100 countries gathered for the official World Youth Day Opening Mass in Błonia, presided over by Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, long-time personal secretary of St John Paul II. Despite inclement weather, pilgrims trooped through the rain to the arena where the Mass was held.

Morale is high in the group as a whole, especially after last night's awe-inspiring Opening Mass.

This morning, groups participated in Mass and catechesis with other English-speaking pilgrims. This evening, the Diocese of Bridgeport’s pilgrims will participate in a gathering for pilgrims from the United States followed by a concert featuring well-known Catholic musicians Audrey Assad and Matt Maher.

The Holy Father, Pope Francis, arrives in Krakow today, July 27, but has no official events scheduled. More than one million pilgrims from around the world will greet the pope in Krakow’s Błonia Park when he officially begins his participation in World Youth Day tomorrow afternoon.

For the most up-to-date information on what the Diocese of Bridgeport’s pilgrims are doing, check out the diocese’s WYD Facebook page.


Dr. Tim Hogan to present “The Gift of Cultural Hurricanes”
| July 26, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Catholic clinical psychologist Tim Hogan will present “The Gift of Cultural Hurricanes: How to Build New Bridges that Transform Catholic Families,” on Saturday, August 6, from 10 am-1 pm in the Queen of Saints Room at the Diocese of Bridgeport Catholic Center, 238 Jewett Avenue, Bridgeport.


This event is free and lunch is included. Please register by Wednesday, August 3, so that proper arrangements can be made.

Parents, clergy, catechetical leaders and catechists, school administrators, school faculties and family life ministers are invited to join RCL BENZIGER Religion Publishing and the Office of Faith Formation in welcoming Dr. Hogan.

Dr. Hogan will explore the radical cultural changes that are crashing into the family life. Parents are living in a cultural hurricane that is transforming the landscape of social connections and family life. Once-strong bridges of human connection have been washed away, leaving parents feeling lost and spiritually hungry to find new avenues to get and stay connected.

Participants will be guided, encouraged and supported in their efforts to construct creative strategies to effectively confront these changes head on. Emphasis will be placed on cultivating meaningful relationships and passing on the treasure of a passionate life of faith.

Dr. Tim Hogan is a Catholic clinical psychologist and certified Imago Relationship Therapist who directs the Grace Counseling Center in Detroit.  He consults and presents workshops across the country, and contributed to the RCL Benziger Family Life series, which sponsors him for this event. He holds degrees from the University of Notre Dame and Fuller Graduate School of Psychology in Pasadena California.   

He blogs at DrTimHogan.com/my-blog, and lives with his wife and three children in Plymouth, Michigan.

To register, contact Rose Talbot-Babey at 203-416-1648 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by Wednesday, August 3.


Day four in Poland: Diocesan Pilgrims
| July 25, 2016


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WARSAW, POLAND—World Youth Day pilgrims from the Diocese of Bridgeport are keeping busy in the days leading up to the Holy Father’s July 27 arrival in Poland.

Click here to read a message from Pope Francis from CNS


The 231 pilgrims from the Bridgeport Diocese arrived in Poland last Friday, July 22 where they were met by guide and boarded private motor coaches for a brief city tour of Warsaw and a welcome dinner. Pilgrims stayed at the Mazurkas Hotel & Conference Center.

Saturday was a day of retreat for pilgrims to prepare for the coming week. In the evening, pilgrims participated in a lively “WYD Welcome Party” at the hotel, which included a Polish barbeque, prayer, a concert, Eucharistic adoration, games and a keynote by noted Catholic speaker Chris Stefanick.

After breakfast on Sunday, pilgrims departed Warsaw for Czestochowa to visit Jasna Gora, the monastery that is home to the Black Madonna icon. Pilgrims attended Mass there and then continued to Krakow after a brief walk in Jordana Park. Once in Krakow, the official site of World Youth Day 2016, pilgrims checked in to the Oleandry hostel.

Monday saw the pilgrims in a somber, prayerful state at Auschwitz, the German concentration camp where millions lost their lives, including Saints Maximilian Kolbe and Edith Stein.

Pilgrims then celebrated Mass and prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet in five languages at the Church of Divine Mercy (in Polish, Sanktuarium Miłosierdzia Bozego Księza Pallotyni).

World Youth Day pilgrims will greet the Holy Father, Pope Francis, on this Thursday, July 28, and will return to Connecticut on Monday, August 1.

For the most up-to-date information on what the Diocese of Bridgeport’s pilgrims are doing, check out the diocese’s WYD Facebook page.


Pope asks WYD pilgrims to accompany him with prayers during visit
| July 25, 2016 • by Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service


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VATICAN CITY—With his visit to World Youth Day only a few days away, Pope Francis asked young pilgrims to accompany his visit to Krakow, Poland, with prayers.

Leaving for Poland July 27 "to meet up with these young men and women and celebrate with them and for them the Jubilee of Mercy, with the intercession of St. John Paul II, I ask you to accompany me with prayer," the pope said July 24 during his Angelus address.
 


World Youth Day pilgrims from Lima, Peru, pose for a photo
in front of an image of St. John Paul II after arriving July 23
at John Paul II International Airport in Krakow, Poland.
(CNS photo/Bob Roller)

The pope thanked the volunteers, bishops, priests and men and women religious "who are working to welcome these young pilgrims."

In a message for youths unable to make it to the event, he said, "A special word to the many youth of their same age who, unable to be present personally, will follow the event through the media: We are all united in prayer!"

Prayer was the main theme of the pope's reflection prior to reciting the Angelus with thousands of visitors in St. Peter's Square.

Recalling the day's Gospel reading, in which Jesus teaches his disciples the Lord's prayer, the pope said the word 'father' is the secret to Jesus' prayer.

That word, the pope said, "is the key that he himself gives us so that we can also enter into this relationship of trusting dialogue with the father who has accompanied and sustained his life."

Pope Francis explained that prayer is the primary "work tool in our hands" and that to insist on something with God is not meant to "convince him, but rather to strengthen our faith and our patience, that is, our capacity to fight beside God for the things that are truly important and necessary."

"In prayer we are a pair: God and me, fighting together for what is important. Among these, there is one, the great important thing, which Jesus tells us today in the Gospel, but which we hardly ever consider, and it is the Holy Spirit: 'Grant to me the Holy Spirit!'" he said.

In asking for the Holy Spirit, he concluded, Christians can live their lives with "wisdom, with love, doing the will of God," like Mary.

"The Virgin Mary shows us this with her existence, wholly animated by the Spirit of God. She helps us to pray to the father united to Jesus, so as to live not in a worldly way, but in accordance with the Gospel, guided by the Holy Spirit," the pope said.


Read Bishop Caggiano's reflection on the start of the pilgrimage:
| July 21, 2016


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After nearly two years of planning, our diocesan pilgrimage to World Youth Day to Krakow Poland begins tomorrow! Over 200 young people will be traveling with me from every region of the Diocese to these special days of prayer and celebration, joined by 33 chaperones who will help guide and supervise our pilgrims during these days of travel, prayer and encounter with Pope Francis. It will be a moment of tremendous grace both for those young people who will be able to attend in person and those who will join the events in Poland through social media.

Every pilgrim will be invited to walk with the Lord Jesus during the days ahead. Each pilgrim will have the opportunity to come to know the Lord Jesus more deeply. My hope is that these days will give every pilgrim a deeper love of our Savior and a renewed commitment to become missionary disciples of God’s mercy in the world.

In fact, I can sum up my hopes for every pilgrim with three words that start with the letter “e”. I pray that all those attending World Youth Day will be encouraged in their faith, as they see that there are millions of committed Catholics who stand with them in mission. May the minds of our pilgrims be enlightened to the deep richness of our Catholic faith through their participation in catechetical sessions throughout the week. Finally, may everyone attending WYD enjoy their time together as they gather to give joyful praise to the Lord.

I entrust our pilgrimage to the protection and care of Our Blessed Mother. May she leads us to her Son Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer!

I look forward to sending you my next posting from Warsaw and WYD!


Diocesan Pilgrims leave for World Youth Day
| July 21, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—After more than a year of planning, preparation and prayer,  young people from the Diocese of Bridgeport are on their way to Krakow, Poland for World Youth Day.






The first group of 110 pilgrims and chaperones filled two large coaches and departed from the Catholic Center parking lot this morning with the well-wishers of parents and friends. The second group left the Catholic Center at 4 pm on their way to Kennedy Airport for the evening flight.

Fr. Arthur Mollenhauer, Pastor of St. Roch Parish in Greenwich and a judge in the Diocesan Tribunal, led the pilgrims in prayer and encouraged them to remember that their reasons for traveling are to strengthen themselves " in the Christian way of life" and dedicate themselves {to works of charity."

With a total of 234 young people and chaperones, the diocesan delegation , led by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, is one of the largest in the United States. The 12-day pilgrimage includes a stop at the  Auschwitz Concentration Camp. The delegation will also visit Czestochowa, in Jasna Gora, the monastery that is home to the Black Madonna icon.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy,” one of the eight Beatitudes, is the theme of this year’s World Youth Day gathering, held July 27-31.

"I know this pilgrimage will have a great impact on people, especially those who are craving more for their faith,” said John Grosso, World Youth Day coordinator for the Diocese of Bridgeport. “I hope that all of our pilgrims will come to embrace the spirit of World Youth Day.”

The Diocese of Bridgeport’s WYD delegation is one of the largest from any single diocese in the United States. The large size of the group, Grosso said, is “a testament to Bishop Caggiano’s leadership. His passion for World Youth Day inspires passion in our pilgrims.”

Bishop Caggiano, who is serving as World Youth Day liaison for the U.S. bishops, will deliver the homily at an all-American Mass in Krakow on July 30.

Click here to read the bishop's statement.

Click here for a video of Msgr. Power leading pilgrims in prayer.


200 will travel to Poland for World Youth Day
| July 20, 2016 • by Gili Lipman, CT Post


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BRIDGEPORT—After more than a year of backbreaking planning, social media director John Grosso will lead 232 pilgrims aged 16 to 35 from the Bridgeport Diocese on the trip of lifetime across the Atlantic Ocean and onto Polish soil.

The delegation has never sent more than 30 travelers to World Youth Day, and anything over 200 representatives is no longer a far-fetched ambition, but a realized accomplishment.


Norwalk's Katrina Pesta at St. Matthew Church is one of more than
200 pilgrims that will travel to Poland with the Bridgeport Diocese
to World Youth Day in Poland from July 22 to August 1.
Photo by Alex Von Kleydorff / Hearst Connecticut Media

The diocese has 82 parishes situated throughout Fairfield County.

“Once we arrive, I want the pilgrims to embrace not just their faith, but also to light a fire surrounding the more than one million Catholics their age,” said Grosso. “I would like them to see both the welcoming and struggling faces of those around them and know that they are never alone, whether there are internal or external challenges. Solidarity permeates throughout young people.”

Grosso made sure to acknowledge those vital to the trip’s planning, most notably Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.

“I am inevitably grateful to Bishop Caggiano for his drive and zeal that put all of this together,” Grosso said. “When he came here from Brooklyn, this was one of the first projects that he enacted because the trip is in line with the values used in the church. He believed that travel allowed the church to come together in solidarity with a common mission, not to mention the importance of going into the world and meeting others who share a similar faith.”

Caggiano is one of 13 American bishops going to Poland to teach on WYD, where the United States will be sending 85 bishops and 40,000 pilgrims to the festivities.

“I have had the privilege of attending three other World Youth Day events, and I hope that this will energize and give hope to our pilgrims while allowing them to love the church,” said Caggiano. “This is a tremendous experience where young people can live as they are living, not alone. WYD encourages friendship and enthusiasm, so that these pilgrims can continue their journey of faith.”

Administrative Assistant Janet Davis will be a prominent member of the trip. Grosso thanked her for her contributions to the preparation, saying “Janet is the right hand of Youth Day, and without her and all of her hard work, this would not have happened.”

The 12-day pilgrimage commences on July 22. Prior to teaming up with the rest of the attendees and welcoming Pope Francis in Krakow on July 27, the group will make its way to Auschwitz, the German concentration camp that took millions of lives, such as saints Edith Stein and Maximilian Kobe. The delegation will also visit Czestochowa, where Jasna Gora is located, the monastery that is home to the Black Madonna icon.

“I’m still trying to figure out my faith and what it means in everyday life,” said Katrina Pesta, a 25-year old member of the St. Matthew Parish in Norwalk. “I am really excited to attend the huge Mass at the end with the pope, where one million will be celebrating with a wide variety of cultures and identities.”

In order for many to reach the estimated $3,750 needed for the trip, there has been many outlets for fundraising.

“Everyone should have a fair chance to attend and money should not be an impediment,” Caggaino said. “Each of the past two years, the church has put aside $250,000, and over 100 scholarships have been awarded because many families don’t have the financial means to pay for a trip that costs roughly $4,000.”

Grosso explained one of the portions of the pilgrimage he has marked on his calendar as a very exciting opportunity.

“I am looking forward to the Stations of the Cross with the Holy Father,” he said. “The pope is dynamic, engaging and passionate in participation, and this is the essence of our faith.”

With Poland selected as the site for the 2016 event, Grosso believes there could not have been a better place nominated.

“As members of the church, we are supposed to be a loving, open, forgiving body of people,” he said. “Poland, the land of the divine and the home of St. John Paul II, has a rich faith that embraces mercifulness, and there is no better destination chosen by Pope Francis.

Leaders, chaperones and pilgrims from the Bridgeport Diocese have put in hours of industrious work, and soon it will be time for them to reap the benefits.

“We are all really thrilled to enter this uncharted territory, with most of our pilgrims having never traveled internationally before,” Grosso said.” I want all of the pilgrims to understand that faith is much bigger than themselves, and that the world is so awesome, and by extension, so is our Catholic faith.”

Click here to read the original article at CT Post.


Junior Ushers welcome parishioners to Our Lady of Fatima
| July 20, 2016


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WILTON—Junior Ushers Brooke Valerie and Maximillian Fleming (both age 6), and Kaitlyn Vallerie (age 9) stand by the doors of Our Lady of Fatima Church in Wilton, eager to welcome Sunday Mass-goers.

Our Lady of Fatima is creating a new ministry for the youth of the parish who wish to serve God by welcoming people into his house.


The “Junior Ushers and Greeters” is a group of Fatima children in grades K-8 who volunteer to hold the door for people and greet them as they enter the church. Stationed during the 9 and 10:30 am Sunday Masses, these children’s smiling faces and friendly welcome will be the first thing the parishioners meet on entering the church. The same children will also bring up the gifts during the Offertory during their assigned day.

“Our pastor, Father Reggie Norman, has wanted to form this kids’ ministry for a while now,” said new elementary youth ministry coordinator, Mara Fleming. “This really is a great idea. Sometimes, it’s the smallest of gestures that can have the biggest impact. This will set the tone for many people’s mornings and will likely go a long way in ensuring in them a proper disposition for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  It is difficult to hold on to much bitterness, cynicism, or even an early-morning grumpy mood when met with the good cheer of a child. Joy, after all, is one of the 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit!”

(The Junior Ushers and Greeters are still recruiting members, and plan to begin their undertaking in August. For more information about the program, or for help in starting one in your own parish, contact Mara Fleming at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)


Healing racial divide starts with dialogue, black bishops say
| July 19, 2016 • by Carol Zimmermann Catholic News Service


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WASHINGTON—The threat of being pulled over by police and arrested for something that even "hinted of going beyond the status quo," was very real to retired Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, when he was growing up in segregated Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


Retired Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida,
is pictured in a 2010 photo. When he was growing up in segregated
Baton Rouge, La. the threat of being pulled over by police and arrested
for something that even "hinted of going beyond the status quo"
was very real, the bishop said in an interview. Photo by CNS/Nancy Wiechec

The African-American bishop, president of the National Black Catholic Congress, said he and his friends "lived under constant threat of being arrested" during his teenage years.

Now decades later, he said that "like everyone else, I was very dismayed" by the recent fatal shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge July 5 and Philando Castile a day later in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, by police officers, followed by the sniper shooting July 7 in Dallas which killed five police officers.

After this surge of shootings, he said, many people have been asking: "Where do we go from here and what does all this mean?"

And Catholics are no exception. He said black Catholic leaders in particular are looking for ways to address the violence, racism and mistrust that were on full display during the early July shootings.

"They're asking the church: 'Give us some direction; show us some leadership. Show us our concerns are your concerns and that you are with us because we see ourselves under siege in many ways,'" Bishop Ricard told Catholic News Service.

The violent actions served as a "wake-up call for all of us, a jolt," he added.

But he also thinks the Catholic Church has a lot to "bring to the table" to bridge racial divides, pointing out that it has a long history of speaking up for civil rights. "We just have to recapture that," he said July 15 in an interview at the Josephites' St. Joseph's Seminary in Washington, where he is rector. The order, formally known as the Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, was founded to serve newly freed slaves in the United States and now ministers in African-American communities.

"We've got a lot of work to do" to combat racism, he said.

For starters, people need to acknowledge that it exists. The bishop said black people see racism everywhere but white people often deny it exists.

Louisiana Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux similarly said the first step is recognizing there is a problem and a lot of "understandable fear, anger and hurt out there."

The African-American bishop, who is chairman of the Subcommittee on African-American Affairs for the U.S. bishops, noted realistically that it is "going to take a lot of time to restore trust and bring healing."

"As Catholics we know, reconciliation is a process, there are no magic pills, as much as we might want them."

But he also said the Catholic Church, with its diversity, can play a unique role in bringing about healing because it can "remind all that racism is a sin."

Moving on from that, he said, requires basic steps of listening to one another and changing hearts and minds or perceived attitudes.

Bishop Fabre said taking this next step involves what Pope Francis describes as encounters—understanding the crosses others carry and the gifts they bring which enriches us.

The bishop doesn't see this as something complicated but as part of a process that begins with people talking and listening to each other about race.

As both bishops looked to a way forward from the recent string of violence, their words echoed parts of a pastoral letter on the racial divide in the United States, written last year by Bishop Edward K. Braxton of Belleville, Illinois.

The pastoral letter emphasized that "renewed efforts must be made to re-establish bonds of trust and respect between law enforcement, the judicial system, and local communities."

"We know that it is almost impossible for a family, a parish, or even a diocese to transform nationwide social structures that reinforce the racial divide," Bishop Braxton wrote, calling Catholics to pray about the race issue and to begin talking about it.

"We are living through a seminal moment that has the power to transform our nation," the African-American bishop wrote.


Dominican Republic biggest source for state’s Zika cases
| July 18, 2016 • by Amanda Cuda, CT Post


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BRIDGEPORT—During a recent mission trip to the Dominican Republic, Brian Wallace had a daily ritual. First, he coated himself in sunscreen. Then, he covered himself in bug spray. Lots of bug spray.


Brian Wallace, creative arts director for the Diocese of Bridgeport,
with son, Camden, 16, during a mission trip to the Dominican
Republic. The republic is considered a hot spot for mosquito-borne
Zika virus, as 16 of 27 Connecticut residents who tested positived
for the illness traveled there.


Brian Wallace with the member of a family his church group helped
while on a mission trip to Dominican Republic.

“We had a couple of nurses traveling with us, vigorously telling us to do that,” said Wallace, creative arts director for the Diocese of Bridgeport.

That’s because the Dominican Republic is one of the many nations that’s been a hot spot for the mosquito-borne Zika virus—and it’s been particularly hot for Connecticut residents. As of Wednesday, 16 of the 27 Connecticut residents who tested positive for the illness caught it while traveling to the Dominican Republic.

That reflects what Bridgeport Hospital infectious disease chief Dr. Zane Saul has seen among the patients he’s had tested for the illness. “That’s definitely the number one spot,” Saul said. “It’s a bad mosquito season and a lot of people are getting bitten there. (Also) it’s a popular destination spot.”

So far, all of the Zika cases in Connecticut have been acquired through travel, and medical experts are strongly discouraging people from traveling to Zika-afflicted areas. The warning seems to have an effect for some, but for others, including Wallace, it will take much more than a Zika scare to make them change travel plans.

Concerns about travel
Nationwide, more than a thousand people have tested positive for the Zika virus—nearly all while traveling, though there have been some sexually transmitted cases. The illness is prevalent in a few dozen countries and territories, most of them in North and South America.

The Zika virus commonly causes fever, rash, conjunctivitis or other mild symptoms and, rarely, a paralyzing neurological illness called Guillain-Barre syndrome. It can also have serious consequences when a woman is infected during pregnancy, and has been linked to the birth defect microcephaly, in which the baby’s head is smaller than average. Three of the 27 people in Connecticut with Zika are pregnant women.

Saul said, fortunately, none of the people Bridgeport Hospital has tested to date have been positive for Zika. But he knows that stream of worried traveles coming in to be tested likely won’t stop any time soon. “We’re just going to kepe seeing this all summer,” he said.

Among Connecticut residents with Zika, the second most common site of infection was Puerto Rico, with four cases acquired there. Haiti and Colombia are other locales where more than one Connecticut resident acquired either Zika virus, or tested positive for Flavivirus—a virus that could signal the presence of ZIka or another related virus, such as Dengue fever.

Last week, the state Department of Public Health issued a release emphasizing the risks of traveling to Zika-affected countries.

“We continue to urge pregnant women, women who are trying to conceive and their male partners to avoid traveling to Zika-affected areas,” said state health commissioner Dr. Raul Pino in the release. “If travel is unavoidable, please follow all  precautions to reduce the risk of infection, both during and after your trip.”

To go or not to go?
Nationwide, people do seem to be heeding the advisories and either postponing or rescheduling trips to Zika-affected spots. As early as February, when Zika-mania was just starting to take hold, the New Hampshire-based travel risk management program On Call International released a poll showing 64 percent of Americans said they would cancel travel plans amidst the Zika outbreak.

Many travel providers have planned for possible cancellations, including several airlines. American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines have all offered refunds and other adjustments for people who had been scheduled to fly to Zika-affected countries, but have changed their plans.

For Wallace, who lives in Wallingford, Zika was a huge concern when he and 145 other people from his church decided to make their trip to the Dominican Republic to build houses and a playground for poor families in the country. Wallace said he already had some experience with the perils of mosquito-borne illness. Two years ago, his son, Camden, went to the country and contracted Chikungunya, a disease spread by mosquitoes and accompanied by such symptoms as fever and joint pain.

“It was an awful two weeks,” Wallace said.

Before Wallace left for his trip in July, an expert came and spoke to the travelers about Zika and the precautions they needed to take to protect themselves. He said, of the whole group, only one member dropped out due to Zika concerns—a nurse who was pregnant. The group returned July 10 and, to his knowledge, no one was bitten and no one has developed Zika symptoms.

Though Wallace was concerned about the virus, he felt his mission to the Dominican Republic was important. Even Camden returned to the country where he acquired Chikungunya, looking to do some good. “The mission trip we went on was really close to his heart,” Wallace said.

Click here to see the original story at the CT Post.


Statement of Bishop Frank J. Caggiano on Nice, France
| July 15, 2016


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Just as many of us begin our summer travel or settle in to vacation, we have word of the horrific terrorist attack yesterday in Nice, France, during a celebration of Bastille Day.

While this unthinkable event has claimed the lives of at least 84 people, many more were injured, and all of our lives have been affected once again by an act of unimaginable cruelty.


What fills an individual with such hatred or indifference to wantonly run down the lives of so many people he has never met? Perhaps there are many paths to this kind of nihilism, but we are all broken when another individual is consumed with violence and can only express his humanity in a blaze of destruction.

Each new act of mass murder and terrorism threatens to erode the bonds that tie us together in civility and concern for one another. We are tempted to fill ourselves with anger or throw up our own hands in despair and call for retaliation.

At this moment, it may be difficult for us to respond to the exhortation of the Gospels to forgive one another and live within the peace of Christ, but that is our hope and our salvation! It is also a way to preserve our own humanity in the face of growing acts of barbarism that can coarsen our responses.

Today, we must join in solidarity with the suffering of the victims and of the entire French people to whom we send our heartfelt condolences. May we resolve ourselves to pray and work toward a more peaceful and tolerant world and an end to this violence.


Pope calls attack on Nice act of 'blind violence'
| July 15, 2016 • by Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service


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VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis condemned the attack on Bastille Day celebrations in France, calling it an act of "blind violence."
 


The pope expressed his "deep sorrow" and "spiritual closeness" with the French people in a message to Bishop Andre Marceau of Nice.

The message, signed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said Pope Francis entrusted the victims and their families to God's mercy.

"The pope expresses his sympathy to those injured and to all those who have contributed to rescue efforts, asking the Lord to sustain each one in this trial," the cardinal wrote. He said Pope Francis imparted his blessing on grieving families while invoking "God's gift of peace and harmony" upon the people of France.

France declared three days of mourning and extended its state of emergency after the July 14 attack along Nice's seaside promenade; more than 80 people were killed and the death toll was mounting. The three days of mourning were to begin July 16.

Bishop Marceau told Vatican Radio he experienced shock and fear following news of the terrorist attack.

"(The attack) was one of those insane acts that can arise in the hearts of men—and in this case, one man. How can it be reasonably possible that man can be the author of such carnage?" he asked.

The bishop said he hoped compassion and closeness would overcome the "scandal of evil" that might "rightly arouse hate, misunderstanding and closed-mindedness."

"We must find a way to avoid this at all cost," he told Vatican Radio. "The message I bring is that which, above all, calls people to be close to one another, to speak, to meet with each other."

In a statement posted on the French bishops' website, he said: "We can't understand such an inhuman act. Nothing can legitimize deadly craziness, barbarism."

He urged people not to keep their emotions bottled up. "Let' not hesitate to tell each other what hurts our hearts; this is what being human is."

"Don't be afraid to go meet priests, people that can help you. Don't keep for yourself what might become violence, hate maybe. This man cannot succeed in arousing what was in his own heart," he said.

Adding that churches in Nice will be open for continuous prayer, Bishop Marceau said that in times of distress, the key word guiding the Catholic Church's mission is "closeness." The church is called "to be close and to also have the courage to take (people) by the hand, because words often can't be understood. It is difficult, but we are there."

"Christians, Catholics, let us bring around us this message of love. Our brothers need it. We need it. Our society needs it," he said. "Let us bring a message that tells the strength of the heart of man. Death will not have the last word."

Reaction from church leaders in France came quickly.

Msgr. Olivier Dumas Ribadeau, secretary general of the French bishops' conference, called for solidarity and prayer in a post on Twitter early July 15. French bishops reacted to the tragedy on social media and in statements, calling on people to pray for the victims and their families.

Churches around France set up special Masses. In Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral scheduled a Mass July 17 to commemorate the victims.

The French bishops' conference said it "fully shares the grief of relatives and families of the victims."

"This tragedy is added to the sad list of terrorist acts that have marred our country and other countries in the world for many months," the bishops said. "Whatever the reason, this barbarism is unacceptable, intolerable. ... More than ever, national solidarity must be stronger than terrorism. In pain of the day, we need to keep the certainty that unity is greater than division."

Appalled by the dramatic news of the attack in Nice, the Belgian bishops said they shared the emotions of their southern neighbors and assured them of their unity in prayer.

"May real encounters consolidate the bonds of fraternity and respect between all citizens," they said.


Contributing to this story was Philippe Vaillancourt, editor of Presence info in Montreal.

Click here to read the original article at CNS.

Also: click here to read a statement from Bishop Caggiano


Close to $1 Million Awarded to Fairfield County Organizations
| July 14, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Fairfield County’s Inner-City Foundation for Charity & Education announced their list of grant recipients for the year 2015-2016 today.


A young man inspects his work at an urban garden created
by Work & Learn, a program run by Domus Kids in Stamford.
Work & Learn provides employment experience for chronically
unemployed, at-risk youth in one of several youth-run businesses
including a bicycle-repair shop, woodworking shop, small-engine
repair shop, cafe, restaurant kitchen, and on-site urban garden.
More than 40 percent of the par-ticipants in Work & Learn leave
with a job, and many others go on to community college.
The Inner-City Foundation provided support for the Domus-run
Work & Learn program this year.

The non-profit foundation supports programs that serve the neediest adults and children of Fairfield County, and this year awarded close to $1 million in grants to 48 different organizations throughout the county.

About half of the funds awarded went to education programs in Bridgeport, including programs at Kolbe Cathedral High School and Catholic Academy of Bridgeport, and Mercy Learning Center for women’s literacy and life skills.  But a significant portion of available funds were awarded to Fairfield county programs that provide for the disabled, the hungry, the homeless, or programs that provide help for victims of domestic violence or addiction. Without the foundation’s support a lot of these programs simply could not exist, says Richard T. Stone, executive director of The Inner-City Foundation.  

“State budget cuts have had a devastating impact on the most vulnerable members of Connecticut, and Fairfield County,” says Stone. “We have just entered our 25th year, and the need right now in Fairfield County is probably greater than we’ve ever seen it. It’s not all Gold Coast. Unless increased resources materialize from other places now, such as foundations like ours, a lot of people are going to have nowhere to turn.”

“This is frontline, important support,” adds Jeff Wieser, President & CEO of Homes with Hope, a grassroots organization addressing homelessness in Westport. “The Inner-City Foundation has, for more than 16 years, supported the many mothers and children that find safety, comfort and life skills here. Over the past year alone their support for our organization has helped 15 families move from homelessness to a stable positive housing experience.”

In April more than $70 million was cut from Connecticut’s state budget. Cuts have hit local education and area “safety net” services hard, with $31 million cut from education funding for municipalities and $40 million cut from programs providing food, shelter and medical aid. Needy children and families have been especially affected.

July 1 marked the start of The Inner-City Foundation’s 25th Year Appeal. The foundation hopes to raise $2.5 million this year, more than twice what they typically raise in a year. The cornerstones of the charity’s special appeal are their just-launched “25 for 25” campaign, and their annual benefit in November, says Stone.

“We’re hoping that we’ll be able to convince our generous past donors—and some new donors—that now is the time to give,” says Stone. “The need has simply never been greater. If we can convince 25 corporations, as well as 25 individuals, to each donate $25,000, that will go a long way towards getting us to our goal of $2.5 million in the coming year.”

The Inner-City Foundation will hold their 25th annual benefit dinner on Tuesday, November 1 at the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich. For tables and tickets or for more information about The Inner-City Foundation or to donate to The Inner-City Foundation’s 25th Year Appeal, visit The Inner-City Foundation for Charity & Education at www.innercityfoundation.org, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 203.416.1496.

About The Inner-City Foundation for Charity & Education
The Inner-City Foundation For Charity & Education is a 501(c)(3) non-sectarian foundation that supports education and other programs addressing the most basic human needs of Fairfield County residents seeking help, and strives to support organizations that provide not only a safety net but also a springboard to a better future. Organizations providing food, clothing, shelter, education and counseling to at-risk and needy children and adults of Fairfield County may apply for grants, and will be considered. Founded in 1992, the Inner-City Foundation has provided more than $28 million to about 200 local organizations over the last quarter-century.

For more information about The Inner-City Foundation or to donate visit The Inner-City Foundation for Charity & Education at www.innercityfoundation.org, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 203.416.1496.


Bishop Caggiano reflects on gardens and blessings
| July 13, 2016


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BROOKLYN—“Early this morning, as I was watering the small garden in front of my family’s house in Brooklyn, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude for all the blessings of my life.


What flashed in my mind was the realization that I have watered that garden countless times, as far back as when I was a little boy. In a single moment, a flood of images filled my memory, of standing in that same spot, surrounded by people who loved me.

I can’t even remember the many challenges that I faced in my own life during the years that I watered that garden. Yet, through it all, those challenges were really blessings, since many became occasions for my own spiritual growth. How good the Lord has been to me, despite my faults, failing and sins!

Yet, as I walked away to store the garden hose, a question flashed in my mind that caught me off guard. It is a question that I need to reflect upon. It is a question that I wish to share with you as well. For if the true measure of gratitude to God is our ability to enjoy the blessings He gives us and at the same time, our willingness to give those blessings up if God asks us to do so, how truly grateful am I? For the giver of all good gifts is God, who knows what is best for us and gives us exactly what we need to grow in love of Him. God alone is the author of all blessings. At times, God may take away what we perceive to be a blessing, not because he wishes to punish us but because His love for us demands that He do so, even though we may not understand why. During such times of challenge, our response should be one of trust and even gratitude.
 
If the true measure of Christian gratitude to God is to surrender our will to His, to enjoy the blessings we have today and be ready to give them up if God so asks for our greater good, then I think I have more spiritual work to do in order to become a truly grateful man of faith.I look forward to watering the garden tomorrow morning, in the hope that I will grow in gratitude for the gift of another day in that same spot.”

(This reflection is taken from the Bishop's Facebook page, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano)


Summer Camp is a ‘Safe Space’ at McGivney Center
| July 13, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—On any given summer weekday, campers at the McGivney Community Center can be found creating rockets in science class, tie-dyeing T-shirts, brushing up on reading skills, and performing in a “McGivney’s Got Talent” showcase.





Located on the East Side of Bridgeport, a neighborhood once riddled with violent crime, McGivney Center was founded in 1992 as a respite for the neighborhood’s children.

“Camp provides a safe space for our kids to learn and grow during the summer time,” said Sarah Motti, Director of Development. “It’s a safe, quality, and affordable camp where we can provide the kids with opportunities that they might not have been provided with otherwise.”

Notably, Motti said, the vast majority of the camp’s counselors are from the East Side of Bridgeport themselves, and many of them attended McGivney’s summer camps as children.

This summer, McGivney offers seven one-week summer camp sessions from June 27-August 12. Each week, the McGivney Center hosts up to 100 campers entering grades K-8. Teens who have finished eighth grade but are not 16 years old may apply for McGivney’s Counselor-in-Training (CIT) program.

The camps run on a schedule similar to a school day, with eight class periods a day from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. McGivney also offers an extended-day option, for children of working parents, which meets from 3 to 5 p.m., Motti said.

Breakfast and lunch are provided each day. Activities during the camp include athletics and recreation, arts and crafts, science, performing arts, and math and literacy classes to prevent summer learning loss.

Field trips are a hallmark of the camps. Last year, campers visited the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., and this summer will see campers at the Beardsley Zoo, Rockin’ Jump Trampoline Park in Trumbull, the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, and the Ballpark at Harbor Yard for Bridgeport Bluefish games.
 
(For more information, visit www.mcgivney.org.)


NFP is an invitation to wholeness
| July 12, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Natural Family Planning (NFP) Awareness Week will be held from July 24-30, 2016. In accordance with the Year of Mercy, this year’s theme is “Love, Mercy, Life: Opening the Heart of Marriage.


NFP Awareness Week is a national educational campaign of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). It is held annually during the week of July 25 and 26, the anniversary of papal encyclical on human sexuality Humanae Vitae and the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, respectively.

NFP is a natural way for couples to achieve or prevent pregnancy. Its methods chart different aspects of a woman’s cycle. It is used in conjunction with NaPro technology to pinpoint irregularities and problems in a woman’s fertility to combat infertility.

NFP is based in part on Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. “It’s greater than birth control. It is meant to help us see the wholeness of the way we were created,” said Kimberly Quatela, diocesan coordinator of family formation.

Married couples can benefit from practicing NFP. Quatela said, “NFP draws attention to the science behind our bodies while helping married couples to embrace their fertility and learn about God’s plan for their sexuality.”

NFP Awareness Week is a week of fertility appreciation and greater awareness for the benefits of NFP. Additionally, Quatela said, “it’s a push for general knowledge of health.”

She added, “Fertility isn’t something that you can just turn off and on. It’s a part of our bodies and, as with any other system in our bodies, we should know how it works.”

(For more information on NFP, and to contact certified teachers in your area, visit http://www.bridgeportdiocese.org/faith-formation/natural-family-planning/)


Diocese gears up for World Youth Day
| July 11, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—A contingent of 234 pilgrims from the Diocese of Bridgeport, including three transitional deacons and many seminarians, will travel to Krakow, Poland, for the World Youth Day (WYD) gathering in July.


“It’s my dream to travel everywhere and this is a good start.”
– Michael Pham (l)
“This is my last religious experience before I leave for the military.
I put everything on hold to attend.” – Steven Lopez (r)


“I’m excited to experience this spiritual event with my peers
and encounter people with different viewpoints but sharing faith.”
– Emily Pritchard


“I’m excited for World Youth Day because I’ve never been out
of the country, and because it’s this event where we are coming
together with Catholics from around the world. Also, the pope visited
St. Joe’s—where I’m going to college in the fall—and I missed him
by a year, so now I get to see him!” – Abby Lenz


“It’s nice because we’ll be with Catholics from all over the world,
people with the same faith but many different cultural backgrounds.”
– Myckland Cothias


“I’m excited for World Youth Day because it’s my first time leaving
the country and also because we are going to visit Auschwitz,
which should be a powerful experience.” – Le’Asia Gaskin


“Attending World Youth Day is an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime
experience. The people there believe the same things [about
our faith] with a passion.” – Lona Ludanyi


“I’m excited to build friendships and faith!” – Grace Wagner


“I’m excited for being together with fellow youth and getting
to experience such an awesome event.” – JJ Henkel 


(Not pictured) “I’m excited to experience something so extraordinary
and I’m happy to go abroad to Poland to do that.” – Mike Antonico

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy,” one of the eight Beatitudes, is the theme of this year’s World Youth Day gathering, held July 27-31.

The theme is appropriate for the Jubilee Year of Mercy—and for the patroness of WYD 2016, St. Faustina. Faustina, who was a nun of the Congregation of Our Lady of Mercy, proclaimed Jesus’ message of Divine Mercy to the world, particularly through her Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

She and Pope St. John Paul II, both Polish natives who lived in Krakow for a time, are the patron saints of World Youth Day.

“I know this pilgrimage will have a great impact on people, especially those who are craving more for their faith,” said John Grosso, World Youth Day coordinator for the Diocese of Bridgeport. “I hope that all of our pilgrims will come to embrace the spirit of World Youth Day.”

The Diocese of Bridgeport’s WYD delegation is one of the largest from any single diocese in the United States. The large size of the group, Grosso said, is “a testament to Bishop Caggiano’s leadership. His passion for World Youth Day inspires passion in our pilgrims.”

Bishop Caggiano, who is serving as World Youth Day liaison for the U.S. bishops, will deliver the homily at an all-American Mass in Krakow on July 30.


Bishop Caggiano’s statement on the Dallas shootings
| July 08, 2016


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Today our hearts ache with pain as we once again grapple with senseless violence and death in our nation. They ache for the brave and courageous police officers, gunned down in cold blood yesterday while protecting a peaceful protest and their families. Our hearts ache for the two men killed over the weekend, and for their families, who are left horrified and grief-stricken. They ache for the communities of Dallas, Baton Rouge and Minneapolis, for our black American brothers and sisters, for our police officers throughout the country and for all who have been deeply wounded by the scourge of violence in our midst.


Let us join together to support all victims of violence and their families. Let us reach out in a spirit of compassion, consolation and understanding for all who are grieving today.

As a people of faith, we must work fervently to end violence in every form throughout our country and prayerfully stand in solidarity with all who are working for justice, understanding, tolerance and peace.


Five Dallas officers killed in ambush; bishop calls for prayer and peace
| July 08, 2016 • by David Sedeno Catholic News Service


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Also: Click to read Bishop Caggiano's statement

DALLAS—Religious and civic leaders called for peace after five Dallas law enforcement officers were killed July 7 when a sniper opened fire in downtown Dallas.


"We have been swept up in the escalating cycle of violence that has now touched us intimately as it has others throughout our country and the world," said Dallas Bishop Kevin J. Farrell, who has blogged in the past several months about the escalating gun violence across the country and world. "All lives matter: black, white, Muslim, Christian, Hindu. We are all children of God, and all human life is precious.

"We cannot lose respect for each other, and we call upon all of our civic leaders to speak to one another and work together to come to a sensible resolution to this escalating violence," he said. "Let us implore God our heavenly father to touch the minds and hearts of all people to work together for peace and understanding.

"We pray for consolation and healing for both the families and those killed and wounded," he said. "We are reminded of the ever-present danger to those who are dedicated to protecting us."

The shootings occurred as hundreds of demonstrators were winding down a march protesting recent fatal officer-involved shootings in other parts of the country. In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Alton Sterling, 37, was killed July 5 by police during an altercation outside a convenience store after witnesses said that he had a gun. In a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota, Philando Castile was fatally shot after a traffic stop July 6.

The five officers—four from the Dallas Police Department and one from the Dallas Area Rapid Transit—were shot around 9 pm local time by a sniper who targeted law enforcement officials from a parking garage. The five dead were among 12 officers and two civilians wounded.

The suspected sniper—who had held dozens of SWAT officers at bay for several hours by saying that there were bombs planted around the area, that "the end was coming" and that he would take down more officers—was killed overnight when police sent a robot toward him and detonated an explosive device attached to the robot.

While the names of the slain Dallas police officers have not been officially released by the Dallas Police Department, family members and other sources have identified them as Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, 48, Officer Michael Krol, 40; Officer Patrick Zamarripa, 32, and Sgt. Michael J. Smith, 55.

Smith, his wife Heidi and their two daughters, Victoria and Caroline, are part of the Mary Immaculate Catholic Church community in Farmers Branch, just north of Dallas. Heidi Smith is a fourth-grade teacher at Mary Immaculate Catholic School.

Father Michael Forge, pastor at Mary Immaculate Catholic Church, sent a letter to all parishioners via email July 8, informing them of the death of Smith, a former U.S. Army Ranger who joined the Dallas police force in 1989.

"I'm asking all of us to pull together in prayer and support for the Smith family, as well as the other officers' families who were killed along with Mike," he said. "Together with the church and school administration and staff, please pray for them, allow them some privacy, and support them and all of our ... families who are grieving this tragic situation."

DART officials identified their officer as Brent Thompson, 43, who had been on the force since 2009, and said that he had gotten married only two weeks ago.

Officials had not identified the shooter July 8, but numerous media outlets had identified him as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, of the Dallas suburb of Mesquite, who served a tour in Afghanistan and had been discharged from the military in 2015.

The attack was the worst loss in the city of Dallas' history and for U.S. law enforcement since 9/11.

"We are hurting," said Dallas Police Chief David Brown, who has said that police don't feel much support most days. "Our profession is hurting. Dallas officers are hurting. We are heartbroken. There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city. All I know is that this must stop—this divisiveness between our police and our citizens."

The day after the shooting, Bishop Farrell joined other faith and civic leaders at an ecumenical gathering at Thanksgiving Square, a prayer and water garden area a few blocks from the shooting site, to offer a prayer for healing.

"Prompted by the goodness that is in each of us, we pray as the old St. Francis' prayer teaches us, that each person in our community will become an instrument of peace," he said. "May almighty God hear the prayer of this community on this day and may he stretch out his hands to touch the men and women who give their lives for each one of us.

"It reminds us of the words of Scripture, there is no greater love than one who gives his life for the protection of others. Our police officers deserve our support and our prayers. May God stretch out to them in their pain and their suffering on this day. "

Dallas police were out in force at the rally and heard the call from the police chief that officers need to feel the community's support every day.

"When you see the outpouring support of the community, it helps in some small way to ease some of that pain that you're going through," Dallas police officer Warren Mitchell said. "The community has our back in our time of need and events like this really help out when you are going through some difficult times."

Dallas resident Van Stripling said that people have to be more accepting of one another.

"I hope it has opened the eyes of people, because the reality is we are all created under the hand of God," Stripling said. "When I look across the street I don't see color, I see my brother, I see my sister, so what I saw last night brought pain and hurt to my heart."

Bishop Farrell was scheduled to celebrate a Mass for peace and healing at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe on July 9.

- - -

Sedeno is executive editor of The Texas Catholic and Revista Catolica, the English- and Spanish-language newspapers of the Dallas Diocese.

- - -

Contributing to this story were Michael Gresham and Anahi Perez Faz.


Baseball with the Bishop to be held in September
| July 08, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—The Diocese of Bridgeport invites all young adults ages 18-35 to attend Baseball with the Bishop, to be held Saturday, September 3, 2016.


Bishop Frank Caggiano, a longtime New York Mets fan, will travel to the Mets’ Citi Field with young adults to see the Mets take on the Washington Nationals.

Evan Psencik, coordinator of youth and young adult formation for the Diocese of Bridgeport, said that the event “will be a great opportunity for young adults to enjoy America's pastime with our shepherd.” Psencik is working with Father Jeff Couture, chaplain at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, to organize the event.

The cost is $50 per person, which will cover one ticket to the game and round-trip bus transportation to and from the game. There are 30 spots available.

To purchase tickets or for more information please contact Evan Psencik at 203.416.1649 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Click here to view the flyer.


SHU Journey empowers young Catholic leaders
| July 06, 2016 • by Rebecca Vodola


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FAIRFIELD—“As a CEO, your voice is amplified,” said Dan McCarthy, president and CEO of Frontier Communications, in his June 30 address on Catholic business leadership to the 34 high school students participating in Sacred Heart University’s SHU Journey.


Religious Studies Professor June-Ann Greeley in classroom
instruction with participants during SHU Journey at Sacred Heart
University. Photo by Mark F. Conrad


Participants, mentors and organizers celebrate Mass in the Chapel
of the Holy Spirit. Photo by Mark F. Conrad


Dan McCarthy speaks with SHU Journey participants in the Forum
of the Martire Business & Communications Center at Sacred Heart
University. Photo by Mark F. Conrad


Father Anthony Ciorra talks with mentors during a classroom
instruction portion of SHU Journey. Photo by Mark F. Conrad


A small group discussion takes place outside of the Chapel
of the Holy Spirit during SHU Journey at Sacred Heart University.
Photo by Mark F. Conrad


SHU Journey participants volunteer at the Merton Center
in Bridgeport. Photo by Mark F. Conrad


Participants of SHU Journey listen to Bishop Frank Caggiano's
homily during Mass in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit.
Photo by Mark F. Conrad

“You must use it accordingly. Be a role model with the right behaviors and a balanced approach to business.”

McCarthy’s keynote was a part of a weeklong residential leadership program for local high school students. SHU won a $500,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment to fund its “SHU Journey: To God and the World.” Dr. Michelle Loris, Associate Dean and Chair of the Department of Catholic Studies at SHU, wrote the grant and served on the team of SHU faculty and staff and Diocese of Bridgeport delegates that led the program.

Although Loris wrote the grant for 24 students, McCarthy, a parishioner of St. Rose of Lima in Newtown, sponsored 10 more so that a greater percentage of the 65 applicants could take advantage of the program.

The Lilly Endowment is a competitive grant aimed at “enhancing and sustaining the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes” by fostering strong pastoral leadership, according to its website.

Accordingly, SHU Journey’s primary goal was to teach “how faith relates to the moral issues of the contemporary world, and how Catholics should respond to them,” said Loris. Secondary goals were developing self-awareness and understanding in teens and providing music ministry, community service opportunities, and reflections on personal spiritual life.

SHU Journey was held from June 26-July 1 on the Sacred Heart campus. Each day had a particular theme ranging from God’s call to its practical application; for instance, McCarthy spoke on the day themed “Human Dignity.” He said that Catholic business leaders should use their positions as leverage to rally their business communities around the poor, sick, and needy.

“My faith is my moral compass as a business leader,” McCarthy told his young audience.  He said that business leaders have to consider both the financial return and the welfare of their employees when they make decisions.

SHU Journey included several keynotes, like McCarthy’s, addressing Catholic leadership. The program also contained guided prayer and reflection, Masses, small-group discussion, classroom instruction, and community service at five locations, including the Merton House in Bridgeport.

Loris said she watched the teens begin “an extraordinary transformation” as the week progressed. The students, once “shy and reserved,” experienced “an awakening, becoming engaged and flourishing in the program.”

Though most of SHU Journey’s participants were drawn from within the Diocese of Bridgeport, several participants came from other areas in Connecticut, New York, and Maryland.
 
“It was a transformative for their hearts and minds, in the Catholic intellectual tradition. This program was all-encompassing, with prayer, discernment, and discussion. The grace of God permeated the program,” said Loris.

“After completing the program, the participants know themselves and God better,” said Larry Carroll, executive director of pastoral services at SHU.

An essential component of SHU Journey was its seven college-aged mentors, SHU students who received training throughout the spring semester. The mentors led small group discussions and meditations.

Rebecca Dupree, a college mentor from Wolcott, Conn., said that SHU Journey “exceeded my expectations by far. It was eye-opening for the mentors and the participants. It was the toughest leadership position I’ve ever held, but it was also the most rewarding.”

High school participant Tommy Donohue of Fairfield said that the program’s emphasis on leadership left him with important skills that he can incorporate into his parish and high school. Kate Janik, rising junior at Trinity Catholic High School and Stamford resident, said that SHU Journey “deepened faith and friendships. We had an opportunity to share our experiences and grow. The leadership skills and personal ministry we’ve learned here will help us to lead others to Christ.”

SHU Journey leaders challenged participants to formulate a concrete leadership plan to implement in their communities. “SHU Journey is meant to empower young people to go into their parishes and schools as strong Catholic leaders,” said Evan Psencik, coordinator of youth and young adult formation for the diocese. Psencik said that SHU Journey hopes to hold a reunion in the coming months when participants can evaluate their leadership plans which, by then, should be in motion.

Participant Alek Mierzejewski said, “The program lit a fire within which will burn for a long time.”

Click here to view additional photos.


Organizers: World Youth Day in Poland 'will involve long walks'
| July 05, 2016 • by Jonathan Luxmoore Catholic News Service


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WARSAW, Poland—Young people attending World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, Poland, may have to walk up to nine miles to and from one of its key sites, event organizers said.


Workers install security barriers at the site of Campus
Misericordiae in Brzegi, Poland June 15.
(CNS photo/Grzegorz Momot, EPA)

"They'll have to be ready for a long foot journey of several hours, but this has always been a feature of World Youth Days," said Anna Chmura, WYD's communications coordinator.

"There'll be several designated routes, mostly from Krakow, and they'll all be used heavily. But we're confident the logistics and security have now been carefully worked out," she told Catholic News Service.

The event, which runs July 26-31, is expected to bring 2 million people from 187 countries to the southern Polish city. They will be accompanied by 47 cardinals, 800 bishops and 20,000 priests.

The July 30-31 vigil and Mass, on the fourth and fifth days of Pope Francis' visit, will require nearly all of the participants to make the nine-mile journey to Campus Misericordiae, near Poland's Wieliczka salt mine, Chmura said.

Buses will be available only for the 2,000 handicapped people registered for the event, elderly pilgrims and those with special needs, she added.

"Although we don't have a final number for the buses, there'll certainly be dozens, but the foot pilgrimage theme is central to the WYD," Chmura explained.

"All registered groups from the various sectors will have their paths precisely indicated, to keep people moving and avoid logjams or safety hazards."

The closing events include an evening prayer vigil July 30 at the campus as pilgrims stay overnight at the site. World Youth Day concludes the morning of July 31 with Mass and recitation of the Angelus before Pope Francis departs for Rome.

Organizers said seven new bridges had been constructed nearby with 20 giant "eucharistic tents" as well as computer links to enable people worldwide to follow activities using 32 "pilgrim avatars."

Meanwhile, Wieliczka Mayor Artur Koziol said roads and highways had been widened, and irrigation ditches and dikes strengthened following heavy summer rainfall on the 450-acre site.

"We're effectively building a city of 2 million here, so there must be an appropriate infrastructure," Koziol told journalists June 29.

Krakow Mayor Jacek Majchrowski said an expected doubling of the city population during the event had necessitated "elasticity in transport and communications." Both Krakow and Wieliczka would be "as secure as the Vatican" during the celebration and that numerous scenarios had been reviewed for months by Poland's security personnel, he said.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw said he believed God would be "waiting for us with open arms" at World Youth Day, "whatever our sinfulness and failings." He predicted the event would foster "an attitude of mercy in the church toward all needy people."

"When discussing pastoral priorities, it's often asked whether it's essential such events are massive or whether forming groups and communities is more important. In reality, they both matter," Cardinal Nycz told the Polish church's Catholic information agency, KAI, June 28.

"I've heard from parents, both in Poland and abroad, that many are afraid of sending their children to Krakow because of the terrorist threat. I appeal to them to trust God and those responsible for security. Otherwise, the success will lie with those who wish to scare us," he said.

In a late June report, Krakow officials said 275 individual locations in and around the city would be used for events and that 184 schools had been requisitioned for overnight accommodation. There also are camping facilities for 28,000 people.

KAI reported that more than 920,000 people had registered for events by the June 30 deadline, including more than 77,000 Italians, 31,000 Spaniards, 35,000 French, 27,000 Americans and 14,000 Brazilians.

However, Father Grzegorz Suchodolski, secretary general of the World Youth Day Organizing Committee, cautioned that previous celebrations suggested up to three times as many could turn up without registering.

"We must reckon with the spontaneity of young people. Many still haven't even heard there's a registration system," the priest told KAI July 1.

"We're already seeing a miraculous increase in numbers, and I'm convinced God will bring many, many more. As the organizational team, we've given our two fishes and five loaves, and God is preparing baskets for all the leftovers."

Poland's state rail network, PKP, said June 24 it would provide 350 additional trains for visitors.

The head of the Polish church's Krakow-based Child Protection Center, Jesuit Father Adam Zak, said he was working with organizers to ensure safety of under-age participants, particularly among the 200,000 expected to be lodged with private families.

"All organizational procedures are being implemented satisfactorily, as planned, and we're waiting for pilgrims to arrive," Chmura told CNS.

"There are still a few details to be completed and sorted out. But there's still a month to go, so there's no need for alarm."


Prayer is the 'way out' of a closed heart and mind, Pope Francis says
| July 03, 2016 • by Elise Harris (Catholic News Agency)


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VATICAN CITY—On Wednesday, June 29, Pope Francis gave 25 new archbishops the pallium, encouraging them to remain strong in prayer, which he said helps in staying open to God’s surprises, rather than closing in on oneself.


“Prayer enables grace to open a way out from closure to openness, from fear to courage, from sadness to joy. And we can add: from division to unity,” Pope Francis said June 29, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.

He pointed to the “clear contrast” between opening and closing in the day’s readings, beginning with three examples of “closing” found in the first reading from Acts.

The first appears when Peter is locked in prison, then the community gathers behind “closed doors,” and finally Peter knocks at the “closed door” of a woman named Mary, the mother of John called Mark, after being set free.

In each of these moments, “prayer appears as the main way out,” the Pope said, explaining that it’s “a way out for the community, which risks closing in on itself out of persecution and fear.”

It’s also a way out for Peter, “who at the very beginning of the mission given him by the Lord, is cast into prison by Herod and risks execution,” Francis said, noting how the Christian community had prayed for Peter while he was in prison. As a result, the Lord sends an angel to free him.

Prayer, “as humble entrustment to God and his holy will, is always the way out of our becoming ‘closed’ as individuals and as a community,” he said.

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered inside St. Peter’s Basilica for his Mass celebrating the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, patrons of the city of Rome. During the ceremony, he blessed the pallium to be bestowed on the 25 new metropolitan archbishops who were present, all appointed throughout the previous year.

The pallium is a white wool vestment, adorned with six black silk crosses. Dating back to at least the fifth century, the wearing of the pallium by the Pope and metropolitan archbishops symbolizes authority as well as unity with the Holy See.

The title of “metropolitan bishop” refers to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis, namely, the primary city of an ecclesiastical province or regional capital.

Traditionally the Pope bestows the stole to the new archbishops June 29 each year. The rite is a sign of communion with the See of Peter. It also serves as a symbol of the metropolitan archbishop’s jurisdiction in his own diocese as well as the other particular dioceses within his ecclesiastical province.

However, as a sign of “synodality” with local Churches, Pope Francis decided in 2015 that new metropolitan archbishops will officially be imposed with the pallium in their home diocese, rather than the Vatican.

So while the new archbishops still journey to Rome to receive the pallium during the liturgy with the Pope, the official imposition ceremony is in their home diocese, allowing more faithful and bishops in dioceses under the archbishop’s jurisdiction to attend the event.

In his homily, Pope Francis also pointed St. Paul and his experience of liberation in finding “a way out of his own impending execution.” In addition to praising God for giving him the strength to evangelize, Paul speaks of “a much greater opening” to eternal life, “which awaits him at the end of his earthly race.”

By contemplating this passage, “we can see the whole life of the Apostle in terms of ‘going out’ in service to the Gospel,” he said.

Francis then turned to Peter’s confession of faith and the mission entrusted to him by Jesus. Jesus, he said, “shows us that the life of Simon, the fishermen of Galilee – like the life of each of us – opens, opens up fully, when it receives from God the Father the grace of faith.”

By responding to Jesus’ call, Simon Peter sets out on “a long and difficult journey,” but one “that will lead him to go out of himself, leaving all his human supports behind, especially his pride tinged with courage and generous selflessness.”

Francis noted how Jesus had prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail, and how he looked on Peter with compassion after the apostle had denied him.

At that moment, “Simon Peter was set free from the prison of his selfish pride and fear, and overcame the temptation of closing his heart to Jesus’s call to follow him along the way of the cross,” he said.

The Pope then turned to the scene in Acts when Peter, after having been set free, knocks on the door of Mary. The servant Rhoda, although joyful in recognizing Peter’s voice, doesn’t let him in, but instead runs to tell her mistress.

Pope Francis said that the account, “which can seem comical, makes us perceive the climate of fear that led the Christian community to stay behind closed doors, but also closed to God’s surprises.”

“This detail speaks to us of a constant temptation for the Church, that of closing in on herself in the face of danger,” he said, but noted that “the small openings through which God can work” are also visible, and can be seen by how many in the house “had gathered and were praying.”

Before concluding his homily, Pope Francis offered a special greeting the delegation sent by “the beloved” Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, led by His Eminence Methodios, Metropolitan of Boston.

Among the 25 new metropolitan archbishops to receive the pallium from Pope Francis was one American, Archbishop Bernard Anthony Hebda, who oversees the diocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.


Around the Diocese in 60 Seconds
| July 02, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—This week’s “Around the Diocese” shows the joy, energy and reverence expressed by young people throughout the diocese—from those preparing for World Youth Day to the two newly ordained priests, Fr. Philip Lành Phan, a native of Vietnam, and Eric William Silva, a Trumbull resident. 

Diocesan Social Media Leader John Gross also takes stops at Sacred Heart University, St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan, St. Lawrence Parish in Huntington, and Holy Name Parish in Stamford. For more videos, including Rebecca Vodola’s special report on the ordination, visit the Diocese of Bridgeport on Facebook. Have a great 4th of July Independence Weekend!


Renovated science room at Cardinal Shehan Center
| June 30, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—On July 7, at 4 pm, the newly renovated science room at the Cardinal Shehan Center will be unveiled with a ribbon cutting ceremony.


A group of six members from the Bridgeport Regional Business Council’s affiliate program Leadership Greater Bridgeport 2015-2016 class renovated the Cardinal Shehan Center’s science room.

The group raised the necessary funds to install new electrical outlets, replace light fixtures, paint, and purchase new storage units. In addition, the group secured some valuable donations from local businesses such as microscopes from Aquarion Water Company, tables from Bigelow Tea and electrical equipment from Santa Energy.

With a newly renovated science room the Shehan Center will be able to offer even more children the opportunity to use a variety of science equipment and learn in a well-lit and appropriate work area. The renovated science room will allow the center to offer a more in-depth science program all year round. “A year-round science program and a newly renovated science room will help us further grow our youth’s appreciation and understanding of science,” said Shehan Center Executive Director Terry.

The six-member group included Sarah DeMezzo from Aquarion Water Company; Daniel Martins from Santa Energy; Christopher Pia from Pinnacle Strategies, Inc.; David Dobin from Cohen and Wolf, P.C.; Myron Mccoo from Yale New Haven Health System (Bridgeport Hospital); and Paul Grech from Bridgeport Police Department School Resource Officer Program. The group chose, from among proposals submitted by BRBC nonprofit member organizations, the Cardinal Shehan Center’s proposal to renovate their science room, in part to help the Shehan Center ensure that youth are continually exposed to STEM programs.

“It is always wonderful to see the partnership between Leadership Greater Bridgeport (LGB) and our community non-profits,” said Laura Campbell, executive director of Leadership Greater Bridgeport. “When a group of emerging leaders come together to enhance the mission of an organization as important as the Cardinal Shehan Center through its community service project, something magical happens. This year, the renovation of the science room is so special because it will allow their students to experience even greater exposure to STEM programs; and giving back to our non-profits is a cornerstone of the LGB program.”


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