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



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

America’s deadly obsession with guns
| June 24, 2016 • by By Tony Magliano


Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano

It’s the worst mass shooting in modern American history.
With at least 50 people murdered as a result of gunshot wounds, and dozens more critically wounded, a gay/LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida now has the sad distinction of being the site of the U.S.’s worst terror attack since 9/11.

The gunman, Omar Mateen, 29, was reportedly able to legally purchase an AR-15-style semi-automatic assault weapon with a 30 bullet magazine clip, and a Glock semi-automatic pistol – both used in the attack – even though the FBI interviewed him twice for suspected terrorist ties.
Shortly after the San Bernardino, Calif. mass shooting in 2015, the U.S. Senate rejected legislation that would have expanded background checks for guns purchased online and at gun shows, and also rejected legislation that would have prevented individuals on the terror watch list from purchasing firearms. Such laws would have likely prevented Omar Mateen from legally purchasing his murder weapons.     

Furthermore, in 2004 a federal law banning many assault weapons expired. Congress has not passed a similar ban since then. Congress has let organizations like the powerful National Rifle Association – with their millions of dollars poured into political campaigns – to continue to influence them from enacting obvious common sense gun control measures.

Congress has even blocked funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which would have researched the underlying causes of gun violence.  

Posted on the Facebook page of “Parents Against Gun Violence” is this quote: “children and teens injured or killed by guns every year in the US: 7,000 – solutions enacted by Congress in the last twenty years: 0.”    

With very weak gun control laws, many U.S. states fare no better.
San Bernardino, Colorado Springs, Newtown, Fort Hood, Aurora, and now Orlando are just a few of the U.S. mass shootings sites in recent years. In fact, according to the British publication “The Guardian” during the same weekend of the Orlando shooting, there were five other U.S. mass shootings.
Mass shootings have become tragically common in the U.S. “The Guardian” reports that from Jan. 1, 2013 to June 12, 2016 there have been 1,000 mass shootings – defined as four or more people shot in a single incident – in America (see:
The Guardian reports that so many people die annually from gunfire in America that the death toll between 1968 and 2011 totals more people killed than in all wars ever fought by the U.S. According to research by Politifact, there were about 1.4 million firearm deaths in that period; compared with 1.2 million U.S. deaths in every conflict from the Revolutionary War to Iraq (go to  
Compared to other economically developed nations like Canada, the U.S. has by far the most gun related deaths and injuries. It is important to note that Canada’s gun control laws are much tougher than the U.S.’s (go to:
“The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence” ( offers excellent ways for us to help reduce gun deaths and injuries – like signing their petition urging federal background checks on all gun sales, including those sold at gun shows and through private sales.

Gun violence, and every other form of violence, is not the way of the Gospel; and that certainly includes violence against persons who disagree with traditional Christian doctrines. For violence is evil and runs counter to the way of Jesus who calls us to unconditionally love everyone. No exceptions.

For as St. Augustine said, we must love the sinner but hate the sin.

 Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings about Catholic social teaching. His keynote address, "Advancing the Kingdom of God in the 21st Century," has been well received by diocesan and parish gatherings from Santa Clara, Calif. to Baltimore, Md. Tony can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Our Lady of Fatima School 2016 Graduation
| June 23, 2016


WILTON—Our Lady of Fatima School held its commencement exercises on Friday evening, June 10th. The event included a Mass offered by Our Lady of Fatima Pastor, Rev. Reginald Norman, followed by a reception. Featured commencement speakers were OLF “graduating” parent Kathleen Rooney and Principal Martha Reitman.

Annual Scholarships were presented as follows: Eugene Rooney Award: Mary Feeney; Home School Association Awards: David Zahrah and Gabrielle Perez; and Performing Arts Award: Brian Rooney.

Members of the Class of 2016 represent Fairfield, Norwalk, Ridgefield, Stamford, Westport and Wilton. Eighth Grade graduates include: James Byrne, Ryan Davis, Sarah D’Alto, Mary Feeney, Kyle Gordon, Brian Hartz, Christina Henesy, Connor Inglis, Whit Lupoli, Nancy Lynch, Ria Narula, Lauren Oskam, Paula Perez, Gabriella Perez, Allison Pomeroy, Brian Rooney and David Zahrah.

Our Lady of Fatima School is a Roman Catholic co-educational school offering Pre-Kindergarten 3 through Grade 8. Recognized as a 2009 National Blue Ribbon School, Our Lady of Fatima has a rich history of Catholic education and academic excellence spanning over 50 years. For admission information, please contact 203.762.8100 or visit Our Lady of Fatima School is located at 225 Danbury Road, Wilton, CT.

Family visit from afar
| June 22, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Father Hyginus Agu, parochial vicar at St. Andrew Parish in Bridgeport and a chaplain at Bridgeport Hospital, never expected a visit from his parents. Serving in this diocese for eight years now, Father Agu is originally from Nigeria and his father is over 90 years old.

His parents were determined to see their newest grandchild, born to his sister who lives in Chicago. Arriving there in winter, they were thrilled to see snow for the first time. After that visit they came to St. Andrew’s, where they had the opportunity to experience springtime in Connecticut and enjoyed meeting Bishop Frank Caggiano. Father Agu accompanied his parents on their return to Nigeria, where he will take the opportunity to visit his extended family.

Bishop to ordain Trumbull resident and native of Vietnam to the priesthood this Saturday
| June 22, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will ordain Philip Lành Phan, a native of Vietnam, and Eric William Silva, a Trumbull resident, to the priesthood for the Diocese of Bridgeport in St. Augustine Cathedral on June 25.

“Once again the Lord has called faithful and generous men to serve the Church,” says Father Robert Kinnally, rector of St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford. “We are blessed to have seen the good work God has done with these future min- isters of Word and Sacrament and look forward to experiencing the grace that will come from their service to the Church of Bridgeport.”

Philip Lành Phan

Philip Lành Phan, 31, was born in Vinh-Long, Vietnam. His parents still live there, where they are members of Sacred Heart Parish in the city of Tra-On. A sister and brother also live in Vietnam. Both parents will be on hand for the Ordination Mass, where his mother will be a gift bearer. The Mass will include readings in Vietnamese by Brother Vincent Vu, O. Carm.

Father Phan attended local schools and graduated from Can-Tho University in 2007 with a bachelor of science degree. Following graduation he worked as a technician for the Golden Rice Pesticide Company in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in Vietnam.

“During the first half of my life, about fifteen years ago, I dreamt of becoming a business- man, a successful engineer, or whatever profession that could make me a significant and out- standing person. Becoming a priest was not in the category at all, since I was not a Christian,” he says.

When he was 20, he had a personal encounter with Christ that led him to the Catholic faith. He was baptized in 2004.

“My whole life changed,” he says. “It was like the moment when Jesus called Peter and Andrew to follow him. They were fishermen, and they thought that all they wanted was to become skillful fishermen. Yet, Jesus called them and made them fishers of men instead.”

Coming to this country, he entered St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford in 2007 for language training. In 2010 he was transferred to Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., and completed his seminary studies this year. Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in Stamford is his current home parish.

He was ordained to the diaconate in St. Augustine Cathedral on June 20, 2015, by Bishop Caggiano and served his deacon internship at St. John Parish in Darien and St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Waynesboro, Penn.

“Like the two Apostles, I will keep my dream of becoming a significant and outstanding per-son—but not in a worldly success, only in God and in serving his people as a priest.”

Father Phan, being bilingual, will celebrate his first English Mass on June 25 at St. John Church in Darien at 4:30 pm. Father Frank Hoffmann, St. John’s pastor, will give the homily. He will celebrate his first Vietnamese Mass on June 26 at St. Augustine Cathedral at 2:30 pm, Father Justin Le from San Jose, Calif., will deliver the homily.

Eric William Silva

Eric William Silva, who will turn 26 in August, is one of three sons of Richard and Virginia McGowan Silva. He grew up in Trumbull, where St. Theresa is still his family’s home parish. He went to Booth Hill Elementary School in Trumbull and graduated from St. Joseph High School in 2008.

During his years at St. Joe’s, he became active in the High School Apostles youth leadership program. He attended St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., until the spring semester of his junior year before entering St. John Fisher Seminary and finishing his undergraduate degree at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.

“My own call to the priest- hood began with the realization that I was made for much more than the life I was living,” he says. “After having entered the seminary, I came to know who God and his Church are at a level that I could have never have encountered had I not left college to pursue the call that God put before me.”

He was ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Caggiano on June 20, 2015. He served his dea- con year pastoral assignment on Mt. St. Mary’s University campus in their campus ministry office in Emmitsburg, Md. He completed his fourth year of theological studies at the seminary there this year.

“From the first day I entered the seminary, through daily prayer, a frequent reception of the sacraments and a pursuit of virtue, God made apparent that the way in which I am called to best love him and his children is as his priest. It is a life and a vocation that I hope to live, thanking God each day for having created me for this. I can think of no better way than to spend life here on earth serving God through serving his people.”

Father Silva will celebrate his first Mass on June 26 at 12 noon at St. Theresa Parish in Trumbull. Father Joseph Marcello, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull, will give the homily.

New wing rising at Queen of Clergy
| June 20, 2016


STAMFORD—The long-awaited new wing of the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy Residence in Stamford is taking shape and is expected to be completed in September.

“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,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.

RESIDENCE FOR RETIRED PRIESTS—Bishop Caggiano, Vickey Hickey,
administrator of Queen of Clergy, Andrew Schulz, director of real estate
for the diocese, and Msgr. William Scheyd, episcopal vicar for retired priests,
look over drawings for the Queen of Clergy expansion on Strawberry Hill
Avenue in Stamford. The new 16-suite wing is expected to be completed
this Fall. There are 80 priests in the diocese over the age of 75.

“It’s a beautiful residence and a place of great dignity where our retired priests can live in prayer and continued service.

“I wish to express my heartfelt thanks and gratitude for the commitment of our donors to retired clergy of the diocese. The priests in turn recognize the wonderful generosity of people in our diocese, and they continue to serve in our parishes, schools, nursing homes and other settings.”

Construction of the 16-suite addition began in January of this year. Dedication of the new wing is scheduled to take place on Sunday, October 9.

According to William McLean, chief development officer of the diocese, the capital campaign for the residence has raised over $3,350,000 in gifts and pledges to date, and another $400,000 is needed to complete the expanded scope of the project.

Msgr. William Scheyd, pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan, who serves as episcopal vicar of senior priests, said that, “last fall, as a result of a property condition assessment and planning process, the decision was made to continue our capital campaign in order to fund a number of important repairs in the current building.”

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. Scheyd 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. The current residence provides 17 suites for independent living for retired priests.

Michael O’Rourke, a member of the diocesan Finance Council who also sits on the capital campaign committee for the residence, says that he has great admiration for what priests do on a daily basis, and he hopes that people across the diocese will make a contribution to complete the campaign.

“There are so many great priests that do so many great things for us, even when they don’t have to. They truly go out of the way to serve the diocese,” O’Rourke said. “Now we have an opportunity to do a great thing for them in expanding the Queen of the Clergy Residence for retired priests, serving them after they’ve spent their lives dedicated to the diocese. The priests are always saying yes to the needs of the diocese, so now we are saying yes to their needs.”

(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

ACA over $10 million
| June 20, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—June has always been a key month for the Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) as it pushes toward its yearly goal to support the major programs and ministries of the diocese.

“June is traditionally the end of the public phase of the Appeal,” said William McLean, chief development officer of the diocese. “While people are welcome to make pledges throughout the end of the year, the June tally is crucial in helping the diocese budget and plan for the new year.”

McLean said the Appeal is over $10 million, and this is the first year since the recession that the ACA could conceivably reach the $12 million level.

“We need everyone on board to do that,” he said. “If we broaden the base of giving, we can affirm the bishop’s vision for renewal and support the work of hundreds of volunteers who are working on strategic planning and other synod initiatives.”

McLean said that the number of gifts is up by more than 2,700 donors from last year. “We are seeing a trend from donors who are increasing their gifts over last year, some making additional gifts.”   

Mclean said that in addition to gifts made to the Appeal this year, Catholics have also been generous in their support of renovation and expansion plans for St. John Fisher Seminary and the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of Clergy Residence for retired priests in Stamford.

“People throughout the diocese have been tremendously generous and we’re very grateful,” said McLean.

Pam Rittman, director of the ACA, said that she senses greater enthusiasm this year when she visits parishes throughout the diocese. “Parishioners tell us they are inspired by the work and strategy of Bishop Frank Caggiano and his team in reconnecting parishioners to programs in our diocese,” Rittman said.

She also believes the leadership of the Appeal chair-couple, vice chairs and those who hosted receptions has made a significant difference in the level of enthusiasm and giving around the diocese. “When people viewed the video at the receptions, listened to the chair-couple and benefitted from the bishop’s reflections, they had a newfound understanding of the importance of the Appeal and its role in the life of faith,” she said.

Rittman said that if the ACA goes over goal this year, the funds will be a boost to many diocesan programs, including schools and Catholic Charities. “With an extra $1 million dollars we could provide over 600 scholarships, or with $100,000, an additional 75 scholarships,” she said.

Al Barber, president/CEO of Catholic Charities, said additional funding would immediately touch the lives of more people in need in the diocese. “If we had an additional funding, we could reach out with incremental services for the elderly, and we could also provide more emergency services for those struggling with rent, housing and other basic needs.”

Rittman said she is grateful “for each and every gift, large and small. We look to Christ who provides, and together we can do great things for the mission of our Church and the lives that are touched. If you have not made a gift, please make it today and help us reach many more.”

A Dad’s Example
| June 19, 2016 • by Joseph Pronechen from


Steve Bollman, founder of the national apostolate Paradisus Dei ( and That Man Is You, vividly remembers the first time he saw his dad go to confession.

He was about 6 or 7 years old; his older brothers were 10 and 11. The family went to either an Advent or Lenten penance service. 

After the communal part of the service, the congregation fanned out for individual confessions with priests scattered around the church. His dad — and his mom — chose to go to a priest in open sight, in the middle of the church.

“From a distance, I watched my dad kneel beside the priest, bow his head, make the Sign of the Cross and then whisper in the ear of the priest,” Bollman vividly recalled. “I remained spellbound with the thought that my dad was confessing to the priest that he had done something wrong. When he finished his confession, my dad went to a pew, knelt down and prayed, with his face in his hands, for what seemed like the longest time.” When his mom finished, they piled into the car.

“For the entire 15-minute drive home, my dad was besieged by three young sons begging to know what he had said to the priest and what the priest had told him to do for penance,” Bollman said. “Of course, there were lots of jokes — ‘Did you tell him about the time you yelled at me last week?’ ‘Did the priest tell you to buy me some candy from the store?’ In later years, I’ve come to believe the most appropriate penance that the priest could have given my dad was to endure the nonstop questioning from his three sons for the entire car ride without saying a word and to simply smile — which is exactly what my dad did.”

Bollman never forgot the lesson. “The enduring image is one of my dad kneeling, with his head bowed and hands folded, as he confessed his sins to the priest. It was so powerful for me that I’ve made sure that my children have seen it many times” from myself.

Bollman’s father’s example reflects what St. John Paul II said of fatherhood in Familaris Consortio (The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World): “the witness he gives of an adult Christian life ... effectively introduces the children into the living experience of Christ and the Church.”

For Father’s Day, several other Catholics shared favorite memories of fatherly faith lessons.

Lisa Hendey, founder of, said that long before she understood the meaning of the words “domestic church,” she received “a firsthand master course in what it meant for parents to be primary faith teachers of their children.” Read more:

Bishop ordains three to the Transitional Diaconate
| June 19, 2016


Click to see photos

BRIDGEPORT—“Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said at St. Augustine Cathedral in downtown Bridgeport when he ordained three men as transitional deacons on Saturday.

Harry Alfredo Prieto, 29, and José Abelardo Vásquez, 32, both natives of Bogotá, Colombia, and Timothy A. Iannacone, 26, a native of Norwalk, Ct, took their final steps on their way to the priesthood in front of family, friends and priests throughout the diocese.

All three men are currently completing seminary studies and are working toward final ordination to the priesthood next year.

Harry Alfredo Prieto

Harry Alfredo Prieto, 29, was born in Bogotá, in a family of three boys and one girl. His parents, Alfredo and Juz Jaramillo Prieto are parishioners at Santiago Apóstol Parish in Bogotá.

He attended Annunciation Elementary school and graduated from Neruda High School in Bogotá in 2003. Always interested in intellectual challenges, he earned first place in a Regional Problem Solving Competition during high school.

Discerning a religious vocation, he went to the Seminario Mayor de Bogotá, then earned a bachelor of science degree from the Universidad Javeriana in that city. Coming to this country, he completed a Bachelor of Arts degree from Fordham University, where he was elected a member of Phi Sigma Tau National Honor Society in philosophy in 2013.

After graduating Fordham in 2014 he entered the Theological College of Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he expects to complete his S.T.B. degree in 2017.

Deacon Prieto will assist at his first Mass in his home parish of St. Joseph in Danbury on July 3 at 12 noon. Father Samuel Scott, St. Joseph’s pastor, will celebrate the Mass and deliver the homily.

“Being in love with God is the deciding factor, the greatest source of inspiration to serve the Christian community,” he says. “From this comes the spiritual resolve to become more and more like Jesus Christ, who healed, supported, comforted and challenged, and laid down his own life so that we might have life.”

José Abelardo Vásquez

José Abelardo Vásquez, 32, was also born in Bogotá. His parents, Bernardo and Elsy Campos Vásquez are members of Santiago Apostol Parish. He has one brother, Rodrigo, also living in Bogotá.

An energetic young man, active in soccer and accomplished on the guitar, he attended Antonio Noriño Elementary School and Politechnico Mayor high school, graduating in 2005. He entered the Seminario Mayor de Bogotá, and earned a bachelor’s degree from the Universidad Javeriana in 2010.

Responding to a call for priests in this diocese, he entered St. John Fisher Seminary and studied at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. His home parish is the Church of the Asumption in Westport. He will complete his theological studies at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y., in 2017.

“One reason I have discerned the priesthood is because I want to answer the call of the Lord Jesus Christ,” he says. “The world needs more holy priests dedicated to serving God and his people. I want to administer the sacraments of the Church, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation, in order to bring people closer to Jesus.”

Timothy A. Iannacone

Timothy A. Iannacone, who will be 26 when he is ordained, was born in Stamford and currently lives in Norwalk, where his home parish is St. Mary’s. His parents, Patricia and Timothy Iannacone, and brother Christopher are members of St. Thomas the Apostle in Norwalk. He attended Wolfpit Elementary School and Norwalk High School.

Always active in jazz bands and symphony orchestras throughout the years, he graduated from Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass., in 2012 with a B.A. degree in religious and theological studies and a second degree in philosophy. He received the Augustinian Award from Merrimack in 2009, and the Lamond Award for witness to the Catholic faith in 2012. He was inducted into Theta Alpha Kappa, the National Honor society for Religious and Theological Studies in 2012.

He is currently fulfilling his seminary studies at the Theological College of the Catholic University of America, hoping to complete his degree in 2017.

“My spiritual development during my time of formation has been a gradual process,” he says. “I now approach my faith with a greater understanding of the Church, realizing that belief cannot be based on some sophomoric notions I clung to earlier in life. Rather than being disillusioned by the temporal faults of the Church, I have learned to focus on the fullness of the Church’s message and her role as the merciful redeemer of mankind. Furthermore, my spiritual development has given me a greater ease in knowing that I have no obligation to control every aspect of my spiritual life, instead leaving myself open to God’s will.”

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

CT Hospital Association to recognize St. Vincent's Medical Center's Sherri Roller, RN, MSN, as a healthcare hero
| June 17, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—At its 98th Annual Meeting on Tuesday, June 28, 2016, the Connecticut Hospital Association (CHA) will recognize Sherri Roller, RN, MSN, staff nurse in the Family Birthing Center at St. Vincent's Medical Center, as a 2016 Healthcare Hero.

She was nominated for this award by Christine Dressel.

Ms. Roller has always been the kind of nurse who goes above and beyond what is required for her patients. As a nurse in the Labor and Delivery unit at St. Vincent's Medical Center, Ms. Roller has, on more than one occasion, purchased diapers, baby clothes, and even car seats for families in need. In one instance, when a young woman with no family ended up needing to stay in the hospital on her 18th birthday, Ms. Roller bought balloons, flowers, and a cake to make the day special for her patient. On another occasion, Ms. Roller's shift ended while a patient was in labor but, instead of leaving, she "punched out" and returned on her own time to support the mom during delivery.

But it was the events of last October that cemented Ms. Roller's status as a healthcare hero. Ms. Roller was on her way to work one morning when she was passed by an erratic driver. The driver turned and hit a pedestrian, who went flying into the air. Ms. Roller stopped and attended to the victim, calling 911 while she attempted to keep the patient alert. While waiting for the paramedics, Ms. Roller worked to keep the young man calm and—despite having no gloves to protect herself from the patient's multiple, open head wounds—stop his bleeding.

After the patient was transported to St. Vincent's, Ms. Roller went to work her scheduled shift and, despite being assigned to a difficult patient that day, never let her unsettling morning affect her care for patients. Ms. Roller checked on the accident victim she had helped and, when her shift ended, bought him a teddy bear in the hospital gift shop. When she entered his room in the ICU, he gave her a high five. There is no doubt she helped save his life that morning.

Ms. Roller began her career at St. Vincent's as a secretary in the birthing and maternity unit 10 years ago, while going to school to become a nurse. Today, she holds an MSN and teaches clinical rotations to nursing students from Sacred Heart University and Quinnipiac University, serving as an inspiration for others.

CHA's Healthcare Heroes award was developed in 2002 to celebrate the invaluable contributions of healthcare workers, both to their field and to the community at large. Now in its 15th year, the presentation of the Healthcare Heroes awards has become a highlight of CHA's Annual Meeting.

Too many cooks in the kitchen? Not on this night!
| June 17, 2016 • by ELLEN McGINNESS


STAMFORD—Gamely sporting hair nets, potato peelers, oven mitts, and plastic aprons, over 30 young adults showed up at New Covenant Center (NCC) in Stamford to prepare 150 dinners that would be served the next day to hungry clients.

The inaugural event, dubbed “A Social Night of Service,” brought together “under 30s” from many different towns, parishes and backgrounds. Yet there was a single common denominator: to help feed the hungry.

Upon arrival, the volunteers walked into the dining room of NCC where Pandora music was playing on the surround sound speakers, beverages were chilling on ice, and salty snacks were open for the taking.

Paul Harinstein, president of the NCC Advisory Board, welcomed the group and thanked them for their time and willingness to help. “It’s people like you—who give up a free night when you could be doing so many other things but are here instead to help us cook—you’re the people who really make a difference. Thank you for coming.”

Father Andy Vill of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Stamford then took the reins and clustered the volunteers into different work groups: potato peeling and cutting; chicken breading; carrot peeling and dicing; salad preparation; brownie mixing. Father Vill and NCC Head Chef Maria supervised their sous chefs, and in about 90 minutes—voila! One hundred fifty meals were prepared.

As a bonus for helping out, the volunteers ate some of the breaded chicken, mashed potatoes, salad, roasted veggies, and brownies they themselves had prepared. Over dinner they talked about where they went to college, where they currently work and what they like to do in their free time.

When asked if she would come back again to another “Social Night of Service,” a young woman named Katie replied, “Yes, definitely. I’ve always wanted to help, but was never really sure what to do. This was great, and I had a lot of fun doing it.”           

| June 14, 2016


Like all people of good will, Courage International condemns the atrocious violence perpetrated at Pulse Orlando in the early hours of June 12, 2016.

We make our own the words of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which insisted nearly 30 years ago:“It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.”
In the face of such outrageous violence and loss of life, human words and explanations fall short, and so people of faith look to the everlasting mercy and compassion of almighty God, who “is near to the broken-hearted, and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18 RSV).  Courage International calls on all of its members to pray for the eternal rest of those who were murdered, and for the consolation of their families and loved ones.  Courage International stands committed to proclaiming and living the Gospel demands of charity, respect for human dignity, and solidarity in the pursuit of righteousness, which are essential for building a society of true justice and peace.

Prayer Vigil Set for Victims of Orlando Shooting
| June 14, 2016


FAIRFIELD—A Prayer Vigil to pray for and honor the memory of those killed and wounded in the shootings at a gay nightclub in Orlando will be held at St. Pius X Parish in Fairfield on Wednesday, June 15 at 7pm.

The Prayer Vigil is open to all people throughout the diocese.

“The Vigil will include Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Rosary, and silent prayer, as we ask God to grant peaceful rest to those who lost their lives, and pray for the healing of those survivors and family members who mourn,” said Fr. Samuel Kachuba, Pastor of St. Pius X Church, who will lead the service.

“Let us pray for an end to violence, terrorism, injustice, and hatred, and for the establishment of a culture of life and mercy,”  he said, referring to the words of Archbishop Joseph Kurtz has said, “The merciful love of Christ calls us to solidarity with the suffering and to ever greater resolve in protecting the life and dignity of every person."

Since news of the shooting was broadcast on Sunday, many people throughout the diocese have requested information  about events taking place in the Diocese to pray for those who lost their lives.  

St. Pius X Church is located at 834 Brookside Drive, Fairfield, CT 06824.


Read statement from Courage International:

Like all people of good will, Courage International condemns the atrocious violence perpetrated at Pulse Orlando in the early hours of June 12, 2016. We make our own the words of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which insisted nearly 30 years ago:“It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.”
In the face of such outrageous violence and loss of life, human words and explanations fall short, and so people of faith look to the everlasting mercy and compassion of almighty God, who “is near to the broken-hearted, and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18 RSV).  Courage International calls on all of its members to pray for the eternal rest of those who were murdered, and for the consolation of their families and loved ones.  Courage International stands committed to proclaiming and living the Gospel demands of charity, respect for human dignity, and solidarity in the pursuit of righteousness, which are essential for building a society of true justice and peace.

Catholics must raise their voices against hatred
| June 14, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Caggiano issues statement on Orlando shootings:

“Sunday morning’s attack in Orlando has unmasked once again the evil face of hatred and bigotry in our society. It is an evil that must spur us to rededicate ourselves to fostering a true spirit of unity and reconciliation.

Yesterday’s news accounts have clarified the fact that the gunman who attacked the gay and lesbian patrons of the club in Orlando targeted his victims specifically because of who they were. It is hard to comprehend what fueled such an intense bigotry in the heart of the gunman that could lead him to kill so recklessly and maliciously. It is a question for which we will never have a full answer. No matter what the reasons, the root for all of them was sheer hatred.

How do we respond before such hate? At minimum, all Catholics must raise our voices against such hatred. There can be no place in our midst for hatred and bigotry against our brothers and sisters who experience same sex attraction or for anyone who is marginalized by the larger society. The Lord Jesus extended his arms on the Cross to embrace all people who respond to His offer of salvation. Who are we to close our hearts to anyone for whom the Lord has offered an invitation to experience His saving life? As a society and a Church, we must do whatever we can to fight all hatred, bigotry and intolerance in all its forms.

Another way to stand against such hatred can be realized in more simple ways. While we strive to create a larger world that is free from hatred, we often have many opportunities in our ordinary lives to break down the walls that divide us. How often have we chosen to do nothing rather than extend a word of welcome or kindness to someone whom we have avoided, precisely because they are different from us? How many times have we failed to correct a racist comment spoken by a family member or objected to a slur spoken by a friend or co-worker against someone who is gay or lesbian? Each of these lost occasions are also lost opportunities to invite the world to conversion, one person at a time.

As we pray for those who died in Orlando, let us pray that we might have the courage to fight against all bigotry and prejudice wherever we may experience it.”

Francis: Orlando killings 'new manifestation of homicidal folly and senseless hatred'
| June 12, 2016


ROME (National Catholic Reporter)—The killings of at least 50 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., have left Pope Francis with "the deepest feelings of horror and condemnation, of pain and turmoil before this new manifestation of homicidal folly and senseless hatred," the Vatican said in a statement Sunday

The pontiff, the statement said, "joins the families of the victims and all of the injured in prayer and in compassion."

The full statement made by Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, Sunday evening in Rome:

he terrible massacre that has taken place in Orlando, with its dreadfully high number of innocent victims, has caused in Pope Francis, and in all of us, the deepest feelings of horror and condemnation, of pain and turmoil before this new manifestation of homicidal folly and senseless hatred. Pope Francis joins the families of the victims and all of the injured in prayer and in compassion. Sharing in their indescribable suffering he entrusts them to the Lord so they may find comfort. We all hope that ways may be found, as soon as possible, to effectively identify and contrast the causes of such terrible and absurd violence which so deeply upsets the desire for peace of the American people and of the whole of humanity.

Also: Statement from Bishop Noonan of Orlando | Statement from Bishop Caggiano

Bishop Caggiano’s reflections: The light and beauty of Alaska
| June 10, 2016


There is another aspect of life here that is striking. I had not realized before my arrival that during the summer months, the sun is visible in the sky for most of the night. In fact, the sun was still visible last night past 11:30 PM and when I arose this morning at 4:00 AM, the sky was already bright with light! During the winter months, the opposite is true. The sun rises after 9:30 AM and sets by 4:00 PM.

The presence of light throughout the day and night is consoling for me. It has reminded me of what heaven will be like, when we will be surrounded by a God who is Beauty and Light Himself.

How gracious is the Lord to have given us so beautiful a world to live in and a far more beautiful life that awaits us in heaven!

This photo tells the story of an event that happened 50 years ago here in Alaska, whose effects still linger.

In 1964, Alaska experienced the largest earthquake ever recorded in the United States. Its power was so great that the ground level dropped ten feet, forcing salt water to seep from the sea into the land. The result of this seepage was the death of a forest of trees, some of which still stand 50 years after the catastrophe. The tree that you see in this picture is one of the remaining fossils of that terrible day.

Because Alaska had such a small population at that time, few people actually died in the earthquake. If a similar event were to occur now, thousands would lose their lives.

As I stared upon the tree, reflecting upon the suddenness of the quake that killed it, I was powerfully reminded of the fragility of our lives. We go about our ordinary lives, planning events well into the future, always confident that those future days will come. However, there will come one day in each of our lives, where our future will not be on this earth but in the world to come. That day is known only to God.

From a spiritual standpoint, the challenge we face is the need to live our lives as grateful pilgrims, enjoying what we now possess with one eye always focused on our destination in heaven. With such a perspective, imagine how differently we would live. Consider the time we would no longer waste on holding grudges, refusing to forgive, forgetting to say a word of thanks, spending time in prayer, as we realize that we cannot wait for tomorrow to do these things.

The witness of this one tree reminded me a great spiritual lesson. Its silence speaks volumes.”

The “Original” Feast of St. Anthony this weekend at St. Margaret Shrine
| June 10, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Thousands of people are expected to turn out for the "Original" Feast of St. Anthony  this weekend to enjoy a festival of  of faith, fun, good food, live music and rides at St. Margaret Shrine, 2523 Park Avenue in Bridgeport.

The feast includes the largest variety of Italian food specialties, Italian-American music, entertainment, raffles, rides and games. It also offers boasts its famous Pizza Fritta and many other tasty Italian dishes. On Sunday, June 12th, the day begins with the Special Outdoor Mass at 10 am, followed by a procession in honor of St. Anthony.

“The Feast is an opportunity to celebrate and to support our beautiful Diocesan Shrine,” said Deacon Don Foust, Administrator of the Shrine. “We’re hoping people will join us for delicious Italian food, family friendly fun, and our traditional faith-filled outdoor Procession and Mass on Sunday.”

Foust aid that many people may not realize that St. Margaret’s has been renovated and revived over the past few  years. It has added new outdoor shrines over the past few years. have Shrines from all over the world. Please join us for delicious Italian food and family friendly fun.  

Things kick off today (Friday, June 10) at 6 pm. Popular WICC morning talk host Tony Reno and his band will perform live from 7 pm to 10 pm. Festivities run from 2 pm to 11 pm on Saturday and will feature a Riccardo throughout the day and a 7 pm performance by I’Luguri with Roberto. Sunday begins at 10 am with the Outdoor Mass and St. Anthony Procession. I’Luguri with Angela Bruno will perform on Sunday evening beginning at 6 pm.

St. Margaret Shrine is a diocesan shrine located in the North End of Bridgeport. It is open to all who wish to visit, pray and enjoy the beautiful outdoor shrines as well as the daily celebration of Mass in the chapel. Father Giandomenico Flora is serving as Rector.

The outdoor shrines, open throughout the year, grottoes and shrines dedicated to St. Padre Pio, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Guadelupe, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Lavanga, Our Lady of Charity, St. Margaret, St. Sebastian, Mother Cabrini, Christ the King, Calvary, Stations of the Cross and the Pieta.

The grounds include a St. Anthony Chapel, an All Saints Chapel, and a Veterans Memorial.

Admission is 99 cents, children under 12, FREE. For more information on the Feast of St. Anthony and St. Margaret Shrine, phone 203.333.9627.
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Bishop speaks to youth in Archdiocese of Anchorage
| June 10, 2016


Also: Read Bishop Caggiano's Reflections on Alaska

ANCHORAGE—Bishop Frank Caggiano arrived in Alaska on Wednesday afternoon after a nearly nine hours of flight from home. He was invited by the Archdiocese of Anchorage to offer a talk and celebrate Mass for the Alaska Youth Conference being held in Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Anchorage.

“The young people that I met are filled with life, energy and enthusiasm. My hope is to help them to answer Pope Francis’ call to become missionaries of mercy in their communities,” said the bishop.

During his visit, the bishop was treated to an aerial view of the state on a Cessna aircraft.

“What has struck me about my brief visit to date is the sheer beauty of Alaska. From my vantage point on the plane ride from Seattle, I saw towering mountains still capped with snow, glaciers that sit majestically in the open water, green meadows that gently wind their way to the many rivers and inlets that form the coastland of Alaska. It was breathtaking to see! Since my arrival in Anchorage, I have been filled with a sense of peace that often eludes me in my busy, ordinary life. The beauty of nature has always been a way to encounter the power and majesty of God in our lives. My trip to Alaska has powerfully reminded me of this basic truth.”

The bishop leaves Anchorage today to attend the Annual Spring Meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in California next week. He is often invited by other bishops across the country to speak to youth and young adults.

In November, 2013, he was appointed to a three-year term as episcopal advisor of The National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry. He also presently serves on four committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB): Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis; Subcommittee on the Catechism; Orthodox Union Catholic Dialogue; Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.

Around the Diocese
| June 10, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Enjoy this 60-second “Around the Diocese” report that introduces Catholic Center employees working on many projects of importance to the diocese.

Host John Grosso, diocesan social media leader, begins with a quick visit to the Fairfield County Catholic offices as the staff prepares the June “Graduation” issues, which features the valedictorians and salutatorians from Catholic High Schools in Fairfield County. The tour includes a quick stop in the Annual Catholic Appeal office, Faith Formation, and Catholic Charities as it celebrates its 100th Anniversary of service to people of all faiths.  

Click to view “Around the Diocese”

Click to view last week’s “Around the Diocese”

How St. John Paul II used spiritual power to bring down Soviet Union
| June 08, 2016 • by By Joseph McAleer • Catholic News Service


NEW YORK—There’s good news for Catholic viewers and all those with an interest in history:

Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, former personal secretary
to St. John Paul II, center, poses at his residence in Krakow
with special guests and members of the production team for
"Liberating a Continent: John Paul II and the Fall of Communism."
The documentary will be broadcast on PBS stations throughout
the month of June.
(CNS photo/George Hosek, Liberating a Continent)

The compelling documentary “Liberating a Continent: John Paul II and the Fall of Communism” will be broadcast on PBS stations throughout the month of June (check local listings).

Produced by the Knights of Columbus, this is a fascinating 90-minute look at the crucial role the Polish pontiff played, both in public and behind the scenes, in bringing about the overthrow of Eastern Europe’s Marxist regimes. The film makes excellent use of archival footage and insights gleaned from interviews with heads of state, scholars, journalists, church leaders and St. John Paul II’s close personal acquaintances.

Narrator Jim Caveziel (“The Passion of the Christ”), shows how the future saint was shaped by history and heritage. We revisit the major influences on Karol Wojtyla: his devout parents and happy upbringing in a free Polish nation; the devastation of the Nazi invasion and World War II; life as an underground seminarian; and the crushing, demoralizing effects of Soviet-led communism on family life and faith.

As Archbishop Wojtyla of Krakow, the future pope was fearless in his defense of human rights and the reclaiming of Poland’s Catholic identity.

“There is no way that you could contest Soviet power by force,” explains professor Norman Davies, a leading expert on Polish history. “It had to be contested by spiritual power, and he did it.”

Following his election as pope in 1978, St. John Paul repeatedly proclaimed two characteristic messages: “Do not be afraid!” and “Open wide the doors to Christ!” Those exhortations kindled hope throughout the Soviet bloc while provoking dread in the Kremlin.

A pivotal moment came with the pontiff’s first return visit to Poland in June 1979. As the film recounts, his journey served as the inspiration for the birth of the Solidarity movement and for a wave of free thinking that spread like wildfire.

Nearly 40 years later, the saint’s words during his open-air Mass in Victory Square in Warsaw, Poland, still resonate: “I who am a son of the land of Poland and who am also Pope John Paul II, I cry from all the depths of this millennium, I cry on the vigil of Pentecost: ‘Let your Spirit descend and renew the face of the earth, the face of this land.'”

As papal biographer George Weigel notes, “What John Paul II inspired was a genuine revolution of conscience in Poland and indeed through Central and Eastern Europe in which people decided to live outside the confines of the communist culture of the time.”

“Liberating a Continent” is chock full of interesting facts. During the 1980 Summer Olympics, held in Moscow, the Soviets sent television antennae to every home in their satellite countries to encourage viewership. People discovered, however, that by adjusting the aerial they could pick up Polish television instead, and be inspired by the reforms sweeping that nation.

In 1981, we learn, John Paul wrote a personal letter to Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Troops under Brezhnev’s command were assembling along the Polish border, and invasion fears were high. The pope did not receive a reply—but no attack took place, either.

The pope’s dealings with the other side in the Cold War were equally significant. He held a private meeting with Ronald Reagan, for instance, just six days before the U.S. president delivered his famous 1987 speech at the Berlin Wall.

Historians and journalists familiar with declassified KGB documents reveal the vast Soviet campaign to thwart John Paul’s moral crusade as well as the Soviet role in the failed attempt on his life in May 1981.

For more information on “Liberating a Continent: John Paul II and the Fall of Communism” or to purchase it on DVD, visit

McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

Parish groups volunteer with HomeFront to revitalize homes
| June 08, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—On one energetic day, May 7, volunteers from five parishes responded to the call, assisting in HomeFront’s intensive day of home repairs delivered at no cost to five local low-income families.

St Edward’s Group

St Edwards Youth Volunteers, Gani Djonbalic & Julia Travolilla

The HomeFront team from St. Francis of Assisi in Weston.

(l-r) is Kay Byrnes, St. Francis team leader and the homeowner
beneficiary, Beverley Donald, a single, low-income Bridgeport
grandmother who has taken in her grandchildren.

St. Cecilia group

Our Lady Star of the Sea group

Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Wilton worked on a project
for a low-income Norwalk family.

They, and other faith-based and civic groups, responded to the needs of seniors living on fixed incomes, single-parent households, people with disabilities, veterans and families dealing with illness or unemployment. St. Edward the Confessor Parish in New Fairfield fielded a team of more than 100 volunteers. Their skill is impressive, owing to St. Edward’s 18 years of volunteering with HomeFront. This year they replaced a roof for a low-income family in New Fairfield.

Two other parishes can point to an even longer association with HomeFront: Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton with 23 years of experience, working on a home in Norwalk, and St. Francis of Assisi in Weston, with 22 years.

The volunteers at St. Francis were also the second biggest group. “They mobilized 75 or so volunteers and they are always willing to work in Bridgeport where the needs are the greatest. We were very pleased that News 12 covered their project,” says Sean O’Brien, executive director of HomeFront.

Two relative newcomers are Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in Stamford, volunteering for their third year, and St. Cecilia Parish, also in Stamford, which just participated for the second year.

“They are all extraordinary people,” says O’Brien.

(More information on HomeFront can be found online at: www.homefront

Gala raised $210,000 for scholarships
| June 07, 2016


FAIRFIELD—On April 23, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School hosted its “Spring to Auction, Light the Night” gala, the school’s sole fund-raising event to raise money for scholarships, technology enhancements, and upgrades to its 95-year old building.

The “Light the Night” theme was inspired by the 2016 Summer Olympic Games being held in Rio de Janeiro. To honor the site and spirit of the Olympics, the school was transformed into a South American celebration with a Latin Band, cigar rolling, tropical decorations, and Olympic-themed, auction items, among others. The auction raised over $210,000.  
“We are thankful to the corporate sponsors and community for their generous support. The success of the event was based on every school family 'giving one' whether it was a special talent, their time, or a unique donation. Our school has been blessed with so many active and supportive families, and I am truly grateful for this year’s co-chairs, Kristin Huntington and Erin Russell, and all of our volunteers for their passion and commitment to making this herculean effort a gold-medal-worthy event.” said Patricia Brady, principal of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School.

Donations are still being accepted for the St. Thomas Aquinas’s “Fund a Future” program, which provides financial assistance for students in need. To make a donation, go to

Post Abortion: Days of Prayer and Healing set
| June 07, 2016 • by Rebecca Vodola


BRIDGEPORT—During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Diocese of Bridgeport invites anyone who is suffering from a past abortion to experience God’s love and mercy by attending an Entering Canaan Day of Prayer and Healing.

The next Day of Prayer and Healing is set for Saturday, July 9 in Trumbull. Confidential pre-registration is required.

"Many women suffer in silence after an abortion. The Day of Prayer and Healing is meant to be the first step on a journey of healing," said Maureen Ciardiello, Director of the Respect Life Ministry of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

The day includes witnesses of mercy, group sharing, quiet time, personal prayer, the opportunity for Sacramental Confession and Mass. Women receive help and support while building relationships and connecting with others who relate.

It is important for every woman to know that “God is waiting to heal her. She is not alone, she is welcomed, and people are praying for her and have been in her shoes,” said Ciardiello.

Symptoms that commonly afflict post-abortive women include anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, eating/sleeping disorders, and thoughts of suicide. The road to full recovery takes time and effort, but those in the ministry are prepared to walk with all women in their journeys to healing, offering ongoing support through groups and additional retreats.

Ciardiello said the Days of Prayer and Healing are a part of the Entering Canaan model “that ensures constant and consistent support for those seeking to begin their healing journey.”

Entering Canaan also offers monthly support groups designed to address specific post abortion issues and provide the tools needed to work through them.

Entering Canaan falls under the umbrella of Project Rachel, the Catholic Church’s response to those who have been wounded by an abortion.

For those unable to attend the July date, another Day of Prayer and Healing is set for Saturday, September 10.

A men’s Day of Prayer and Healing for men suffering from a past abortion will be held on Saturday, October 29. Men may register by calling 877.586.4621 or by emailing .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

To register or for more information on the July 9 session for women, please contact Project Rachel’s confidential phone line at 203.416.1619 or email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Cardinal Shehan Center partners with ZAC Foundation for child water safety
| June 06, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—The ZAC Foundation, a Conn.-based water safety advocacy and education foundation, has launched its first ZAC Camp in partnership with the Cardinal Shehan Center and the City of Bridgeport.

The program is designed to combat pool and spa drowning and drain entrapments  can put children at risk.

With kids and their parents eagerly waiting in line to register, the program was launched this afternoon at the Cardinal Shehan Center, 1494 Main Street in downtown Bridgeport. The Shehan Center has a large, pool in its facility and an active aquatic program for people of all ages.

“The camp will teach more than 100 five to 11-year-olds the importance of water safety through swimming classes, classroom curriculum, and various hands-on activities,” said Cardinal Shehan Center Executive Director Terry O’Connor.

Karen and Brian Cohn founded The ZAC Foundation in 2008 after the loss of their son Zachary when he drowned as a result of being entrapped in the suction of a swimming pool drain.  

“It makes me very happy to educate as many children as possible in pool and water safety,” said Karen Cohn, co-founder of the ZAC program. “We’re pleased to be able to bring the program to Bridgeport and Stamford this summer.”

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC) awarded the City of Bridgeport its first federal grant as part of its Pool Safety Grant Program. The City of Bridgeport is using these funds to bring The ZAC Foundation’s ZAC Camp to its community.

This event is part of the Foundation’s national initiative to bring ZAC Camps to thousands of children across the country by the end of the 2016 swimming season.  

The Cardinal Shehan Center was selected through a rigorous application process due to its commitment to advancing safety locally. The week concludes with a gold medal awards ceremony.

The children will learn about water safety both in the pool and in the classroom. First responders will demonstrate safety equipment to the students and also discuss drain safety.

The ZAC Camp will run from June 6- 10 from 3:30 to 6:30 pm. An Awards Ceremony will be held at Seaside Park on Friday, June 10 at 5:30 pm.

The ZAC Foundation is devoted to educating the public of the importance of water safety to prepare children and their families for a lifetime of safety, and has partnered with Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) to bring ZAC Camps to 22 selected Clubs in 2016.

The Cardinal Shehan Center serves young people of all faiths. It is located at 1494 Main Street in Bridgeport. For information call: 203.336.4468. Visit online at:

Dee Maggiori passes away
| June 03, 2016


TRUMBULL—Doris (Dee) Maggiori, one of the founding editors of Fairfield County Catholic and a noted Catholic journalist, died on Thursday, June 2, 2016, in St. Vincent’s Medical Center.

She was the daughter of Florence and Maurice McGrath and beloved wife of the late Herman J. Maggiori. They resided in Trumbull for many years.

"For years Dee's monthly column, filled with practical advice and amusing stories, was the highlight for many readers of Fairfield County Catholic," recalls Dr. Joseph McAleer, who edited the paper from 1998-2009.

"She was an editor's dream: always on time, perfect grammar, solid catechesis, and never dull. We are indebted to Dee for her yeoman's work founding the newspaper with Msgr. Grieco, launching a new era of evangelization for generations of Catholics in our diocese."

In 1984 she became one of the co-founders, along with Msgr. Nicholas V. Grieco, of the Diocese of Bridgeport’s Fairfield County Catholic newspaper where she served for 13 years as assistant editor before retiring and becoming a columnist in 1997. For more than ten years, her column "In The Spirit" appeared in the Fairfield County Catholic newspaper, and the Catholic Journal of Edgewater, Florida. She also served as a free-lance reporter the Catholic News Service.

Her work as a journalist and free-lance writer included articles that appeared in many national magazines and newspapers. For 12 years, she wrote feature articles for the Catholic Transcript in New Haven and also for the former Bridgeport Sunday Post.

Born in Bridgeport, Maggiori became a Trumbull resident in 1959. She was the founder of the Trumbull Woman's Club and served as its first president. She was also a co-founder of the Trumbull Youth Association (TYA), served as a judge on the Trumbull Arts Commission’s Literary Competition for nine years, and was a faithful volunteer for the American Red Cross Blood Bank for 27 years.

In I986, she was chosen as “Connecticut Woman of the Year" by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs for her extensive community volunteer work, and in l99l she was awarded the “Pro Ecclecia Et Pontifice” Medal by Pope John Paul II for her many years of service to the Catholic Church and the Diocese of Bridgeport where she worked with drug addicts and alcoholics through the Manpower and Training and Development Program and sewed as coordinator of the Diocesan Commission on Aging and as the chairperson of the Commission on Laity for the l970 Synod.

At the time of her death, in addition to her monthly column, "In The Spirit," Maggiori was an active member of the board of directors of the Fairfield County Branch of the National League of American Pen Women (NLAPW), a professional organization of writers, artists and composers, where she served as Membership Chairperson. She was also the coordinator of “Talking Writers” and facilitator of the “Advanced Writers’ Workshop” in Westport, as well as a co-producer and frequent host of the TV program, “Creative Women, Today.”

She was a long-time member of the League of St. Joseph’s Manor and served as a Eucharistic Minister at Christ the King Church in Trumbull for more than 20 years. She enjoyed writing, playing the piano and water-color painting. Maggiori was predeceased by her beloved husband of 47 years. Herman J. Maggiori, an International Marketing Executive with whom she traveled to 76 countries. He was the author of the book “How To Make The World Your Market," which she edited.

She is survived by two nieces: Michele Desmond of New Boston, NH, and Sharon Paradiso Ph.D., of Northampton, MA; a grand-niece, Nina Paradise of Northampton, MA; and a beloved godchild, Lisa Keller of Lakeville, CT. She is also survived by several members her dearly beloved adopted families, the Robert Schmidle, Sr. family of Newtown and the Eugene Rodgers family of Mountainside, NJ.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday at 11 am, meeting directly in Christ the King Church, 4700 Madison Avenue, Trumbull, with a Mass of Christian Burial. Interment will follow in Gate of Heaven Cemetery. Memorial donations may be made to Monsignor Joseph Potter, The Brazilian Children’s Fund at the Diocese of Bridgeport, 238 Jewett Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06606. Arrangements by the Redgate – Hennessy Funeral Home, Main Street and Gorham Place, Trumbull. To send online condolences please visit

Taylors encourage a younger generation of givers
| June 03, 2016 • by Rebecca Vodola


NEW CANAAN—More than 110 people from around the diocese gathered for cocktails and dinner on Sunday, May 22, at the home of Julie and Rowan Taylor, the 2016 Annual Catholic Appeal Chair Couple.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano was the honored guest at the event which provided an opportunity for the Taylors to bring a younger group of individuals and families together to meet the bishop and other guests.

Julie and Rowan, who are parishioners of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan, shared their personal testimony of faith and their love for the Church. They also showed the 2016 Appeal video.
Bishop Caggiano thanked everyone for attending, and spoke with younger guests about their ability to make a difference in the future of the Church. He added that their support to the Appeal changes lives.

The bishop highlighted the story of Brian Jenkins in the Appeal video, who went from a guest of Merton Center to earning his doctorate and becoming director of the soup kitchen that serves more than 350,000 meals a year in downtown Bridgeport.

The bishop said that Brian’s life was “truly a miracle” because of the service and compassion he received through a Catholic Charities program.  

He also praised the Taylors for their ongoing commitment and thanked Vice Chairs Maureen and Michael Considine and Elena and Stephen Schlegel.
Rowan Taylor asked guests to “look around and see who’s not here,” and then to reach out to those individuals and tell them why it is important to support the Appeal. He also explained the need for monetary support of the diocese, which funds programs and events from seminarian education to nutrition programs.  

Julie Taylor added that she and her husband continued on for a second year as Chairs because they “care about the future of their Catholic faith,” and opening their home to host an event is a way for both of them to help continue the work of the Gospel.

The Taylors have spoken about the work of the Diocese of Bridgeport, and the need for giving, at vicariate receptions throughout the diocese.

“Their work as chair couple for the second consecutive year has been fruitful. The 2016 Catholic Appeal has received donations totaling 85% of its goal to date,” said Pamela Rittman, Director of the ACA.

The theme of the 2016 Annual Catholic Appeal is Renewed in Faith, Hope and Charity. The overall $11 million goal funds the major programs and ministries of the Diocese, including schools, Catholic Charities, religious education, St. John Fisher Seminary and the Catherine Denis Keefe Queen of Clergy Retirement Residence in Stamford.  

For more information or to give online, go to or phone: 203.416.1470.

Cardinal Shehan Campaign nears goal
| June 03, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—“Due to the generous support from so many wonderful people and local businesses the Cardinal Shehan Center is now only $500,000 away from reaching our goal to raise $2 million for our Capital Campaign,” said Shehan Center Executive Director Terry O’Connor in his spring newsletter.

“The goal of the campaign is to ensure the stability of the Cardinal Shehan Center in these economically challenging times,” said O’Connor. “We’re very grateful to all those who have made a contribution.”  
He said that campaign contributions are earmarked to create a scholarship fund, make much-needed building repairs to the 130-year old facility and grow the endowment.
A key initiative of the campaign has been the creation of a $1 million fund to help pay tuition for Shehan Center members who need financial assistance to attend a Catholic school in Bridgeport.
He said Shehan Center has had a busy year including several fundraising events benefiting its After School & Saturday Program. The downtown Bridgeport center has also dedicated the kitchen and gym to longtime supporters.
Over the winter, the scoreboards were dedicated to the Sheehan family, which has supported the center for many years. In April, the Shehan Center dedicated its kitchen to the memory of the Chairman of  William B. Meyer, Inc. Tom Gillon's parents, Grace and Frank P. Gillon,” he said.
The Shehan Center offers a wide range of educational and recreational programs including after-school and tutoring programs, mentoring, basketball camp and leagues, swimming lessons, summer camp and physical educations.  
O’Connor said that children who attend summer camp at the Shehan Center can look forward to enjoying arts and crafts, basketball, swimming, math, science, literacy, cooking, and computer activities.
Throughout the year the Shehan Center also sponsors a wide range of events that involve the entire community such as the Red Ribbon Ball, the Great Shehan Trivia Contest, the Dodge Ball Tournament, golf classics, March Madness basketball tournament and other activities.
The Cardinal Shehan Center serves young people of all faith. It is located at 1494 Main Street in Bridgeport. For information or to make a gift to the capital campaign, call 203.336.4468.Online at:

Sisters of Life celebrate 25th anniversary
| June 02, 2016


NEW YORK—The Sisters of Life celebrated the 25th anniversary of their founding on June 1 with a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Patrick's Cathedral followed by a block party on 51st Street. Over 1,000 people, including laypeople, priests, and other religious men and women, gathered for the community's joyous jubilee.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan celebrated the Mass and delivered the homily, summarizing the history of the order. The Sisters of Life were founded by John Cardinal O'Connor on June 1, 1991, when eight women, including current Superior General Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, entered the community dedicated to the charism of life.

Cardinal Dolan said that, 25 years ago, the first eight members of the Sisters of Life had to have great trust in God that forming the community was his will. The Sisters, their friends and benefactors all continue to have that trust today for the continued success of the Sisters of Life.

"We have so much trust that I'd like to invite you to the 50th anniversary celebration of the Sisters of Life on June 1, 2041," joked the cardinal.

After Mass, the crowd burst out the doors onto the streets of New York, headed to 51st Street for the block party.

A live band, colorful banner-like fabrics draped across the street, and the Sisters' navy-blue-and-white habits, conspicuous in the metropolitan scene, drew many curious passerby to the celebration. Outside, Sisters of Life offered food, face painting, and games, while confessions and Eucharistic adoration were available at the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the block.

People of all ages, from weeks-old babies to nonagenarians, joined in the commemorative festivities. Among those gathered were a small delegation from the Diocese of Bridgeport and Sisters of Life postulant Lauren Janik of Stamford.

Over 25 years, the Sisters of Life have grown from eight members to nearly 100. Since opening their first convent in 1994, they have expanded to locations in New York, NY; Suffern, NY; Washington, DC; Denver, Colo. and Toronto, Canada. They also operate the Villa Maria Guadalupe retreat house in Stamford, Conn. To learn more about the Sisters of Life, visit

A Prayer for Bikers
| June 01, 2016


STRATFORD—Parishioners of Our Lady of Peace Church and other local residents gathered on Saturday, May 21st for a bike blessing followed by a brief ride along the shore and a lunch special at Stanziale Restaurant on Main Street.

“God I know that you are real. Thank you for being in the wind with me even before I ask,” begins the Biker’s Prayer, which was led by Fr. Nick Pavia, Pastor. Our Lady of Peace Parish is celebrating its
75th Anniversary this year. It is located at 651 Stratford Road in the Lordship section of Stratford. Phone: 203.377.4863

Assumption Catholic School Raises $1,025 for Operation Rice Bowl
| June 01, 2016


FAIRFIELD—The sixth-grade class at Assumption Catholic School, under the direction of teacher Maureen Travers, raised $1,025 for Operation Rice Bowl, an international organization that is committed to helping to create positive change around the world.

The class asked each student in the school to take home a paper rice bowl box and make a contribution during his/her dinner while thinking about others who are possibly not having dinner. The class also hosted a pasta dinner and raffle for the school and the community. The students wrote letters to local businesses and national sports teams to ask for donations for a raffle and all funds raised went directly to the organization. Billy's Bakery, Luigi's Bakery, The NHL and CollegeFourU were major contributors.
Operation Rice Rice Bowl, run by Catholic Relief Services, is an international organization which is trying to stamp out hunger and help families become self-sufficient. Some examples of what Operation Rice Bowl does are agricultural projects to help farmers improve their harvests, water and sanitation projects, micro-finance projects to help small businesses, mother and child health projects that offer health and nutrition services and educational projects that provide resources and training.
The families at Assumption Catholic School were so generous the evening of the dinner that the class was able to also donate five bags of bread and three trays of pasta to Homes for the Brave in Bridgeport as well as bread, utensils and napkins to Operation Hope in Fairfield.

Syro-Malabar Catholics celebrate Mass
| June 01, 2016


GREENWICH—Thanks to the hospitality of Father Feszek Szmasek, pastor, and the parish council of St. Paul Parish, Catholics of Indian heritage can celebrate Mass in the ancient Syro-Malabar Rite of India on the second Sunday of the month at 3 pm at St. Paul’s.

A scheduling exception was made in May this year, when the Mass was celebrated on Sunday, May 22. Father John Punnakunnel, the community’s spiritual director, celebrates the monthly Mass.

The Catholic faith in India traces its origins to the missionary work of the Apostle Thomas. The faith has continued to flourish in that country through the centuries, particularly in Kerala, and Catholics in that area are popularly referred to as “Thomas Christians.” The Syro-Malabar Church is the second largest of the Eastern Rite Churches in communion with Rome.

St. Joseph High School names head boys basketball coach
| June 01, 2016


TRUMBULL—On June 1, St. Joseph High School introduced Paul Dudzinski, Class of ‘82, as the school’s new head coach for Boys' Basketball.

Coach Dudzinski with the St. Joseph High School Basketball Team

St. Joseph High School Administration Welcomes Coach Dudzinski.
Pictured L to R: Dr James Keane, Principal; Coach Paul Dudzinski;
Mr. Kevin Butler, Vice Principal for Athletics and Dr. William
Fitzgerald, President.

Coach Dudzinski played for his mentor, Coach Vito Montelli, from ‘78 through ’82, and is excited to take over the reins of the St. Joe’s storied program. Coach Dudzinski will be the third coach of a program that has more wins and titles than any high school in the state.

Coach Dudzinski brings his own winning traditions, having accumulated four Southwest Conference titles and two state titles in his 19 years as head coach at Stratford High School. “I had memorable times coaching at Stratford High School and made great friends whom I’ll always cherish. Now, I am ready to start a new chapter at St. Joe’s. This couldn’t have come at a better time. It truly is an opportunity I wouldn’t have missed. We will play an exciting brand of basketball that will make our Cadet fans, student body and alumni extremely proud," he said.

Coach Dudzinski, who played college ball at the University of Rhode Island, said, "I am tremendously grateful. I want to coach, and I have a lot to give. I know how important  high school basketball is in a young man’s life. I’ve seen this game do great things for kids, and I want to be the bridge between a great basketball program and players who want to excel.”

Coming home will not be a challenge for Dudzinski, as he has maintained strong ties with the school. “At home, we are and always have been a St. Joe’s family. My wife Kathleen (’82) and I are St. Joseph High School sweethearts, and so are my brother and his wife,” he said. His three daughters are also Cadets. Amanda ‘11 (Class Valedictorian) and Chloe ’13 are alumnae. Their sister Ellie will graduate on June 4. The Dudzinski family resides in Stratford.

St. Joes’ vice principal for athletics, Kevin Butler, said, “In athletics, there are always new eras to start, and we are beyond thrilled to start a new era with Coach Dudzinski. Naming Paul Dudzinski the St. Joseph High School head boys’ basketball coach is first step in returning this program to excellence, a major step in continuing to build a program that contends at every level in the competitive Fairfield County Interscholastic Conference.”
Butler led the selection committee through a review of over thirty local and regional applicants, and several rounds of interviews of high quality candidates, before unanimously selecting Dudzinski. He added, “A coach of Paul’s caliber would not have been available to us if we had not hired him now. His reputation as a basketball coach and alumnus made it very apparent that this is a great opportunity for everyone.”

“This is outstanding for St. Joe’s,” said Dr. William Fitzgerald, president of St. Joseph High School, “If anyone asked me to identify someone in the community capable of taking our legacy to the next level, it would be Paul. He not only brings his basketball expertise, but he will help our young men develop, and will always have their best interest at heart. Coach Dudzinski is going to have kids very excited to play for him. ‘The Lord works in wondrous ways.’”

Coach Dudzinski met with the team after the announcement, reaffirmed Camren Menefee, Alec Pelletier, Omar Telfer as team captains, and set up meetings to ensure a smooth transition. Coach Montelli was on hand to offer his congratulations.

St. Joseph High School strives to be the premier college preparatory school in Southern Connecticut. The school provides a learning environment that embraces the Gospel values of the Roman Catholic faith and promotes a commitment to family and community. The school prepares young women and men to realize their potential, helps them excel in higher education and provides a foundation to guide them throughout their lives. The New England Association of Schools and Colleges accredits St. Joseph High School.

(For additional information, contact Dana Christos, director of strategic marketing & communications: 203.378.9378, ext. 306, or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

Sister Maureen Fleming honored at Fairfield U
| June 01, 2016


FAIRFIELD—The graduate commencement ceremony at Fairfield University on May 22 conferred an honorary degree on Sister Maureen Fleming, SSND, coordinator of Pastoral Outreach at St. Luke Parish in Westport, for her advocacy for the rights of women and children, and for those in poverty.

Recognized for her advocacy for women, children and those most in need,
Sister Maureen Fleming (center) received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree
from Fairfield University. She is shown here with University President
Father Jeffrey von Arx, SJ, and Dr. Tracey Robert, associate professor
of Counselor Education and director of Clinical Training.

Valeria Martinez, assistant professor of finance in the Dolan School of Business, delivered the citation:

Fairfield County is a study in contrasts. It is one of the wealthiest areas of the country, yet contains great numbers of urban poor and immigrants. It is one of the most highly educated areas, yet is home to many who can’t read or write English. Fortunately for this latter group, Sister Maureen Fleming of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, a 1971 graduate of our graduate School of Education and Allied Professions, has devoted her talents, passion, and education to help these members of our community acquire the tools they need in order to succeed.

In 1995, Sister Maureen became executive director of Bridgeport’s Caroline House, a center founded by her order and dedicated to helping immigrant women and their children develop literacy skills. The goal of Caroline House is not only to teach language skills to 50 low-income, immigrant women enrolled each semester, but also to break down the barriers of social and physical isolation that have kept them from building better lives.

''There is a great need for these women to learn English,'' says Sister Maureen. ''If they cannot fill out a job application, there is no hope.''

An incident in May 1999 involving one of these women shook the City of Bridgeport to its core and gave shape to the next phase of Sister Maureen’s ministry. Julia Toledo Urgiles and her four young boys were fleeing a difficult domestic situation in the dead of night, when all five were struck and killed by a train. “All of us at Caroline House were devastated, and we realized there were others in similar situations. It was a wake-up call and catapulted me out of my executive job and into involvement with other issues,” she recalls.

Since then, Sister Maureen has been passionate about educating the world about the twin issues of domestic abuse and human trafficking. “Nobody believes that we have an issue with trafficking in Fairfield County, but we do. This modern-day form of slavery is under the radar and yet under our noses,” she says.

As a registered NGO at the United Nations, Sister Maureen is a participant on the commission dealing with the rights of women and children. Sister Maureen has worked tirelessly to educate the public and lawmakers, with the goal of bringing perpetrators to justice. She is proud that the hotline number she continually gives out has resulted in hundreds of calls to law enforcement agencies.
Though educating the public and elected officials is an essential first step, “collectively, we have to push our lawmakers to prosecute perpetrators,” she says.

Currently serving as director of Outreach Ministry at St. Luke Parish in Westport, Sister Maureen oversees a ministry that includes programs such as a food pantry, housing assistance and fundraising for her parish “Matthew 25” fund. This fund helps support charitable causes for those most in need such as Caroline House; Blessed Sacrament Parish, Bridgeport, summer camp; the Missionaries of Charity; the Cancer Survivor Network in Bridgeport; and the Open Door Soup Kitchen in Norwalk.

For her dedication to the most marginalized and least powerful among us, especially children and abused women, the President and Board of Trustees of Fairfield University hereby proclaim:
Sister Maureen Fleming, SSND
Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa

After earning her undergraduate and graduate degrees in education from Seton Hall University, Maureen Fleming taught in both the Archdiocese of New York and later in the Diocese of Bridgeport. Calling herself “a teacher down to my toes,” she also has a certificate in counseling, another in pastoral ministry, and a M.A. in Religious Studies from Fairfield University.

“Damien” at St. Marguerite, Brookfield
| May 31, 2016


BROOKFIELD—Damien, a one-man play written by Aldyth Morris and starring Casey Groves, will be performed Tuesday, June 14, 7 pm at. St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Church in Brookfield.

The performance is open to all at no charge. A free will offering will be accepted at the door.

“In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, our parish welcomes Casey Groves, who will perform a one-man play about Fr. Damien of Molokai, a true apostle of mercy who worked among the lepers of Molokai, Hawaii in the 1800’s,” said Fr. Shawn Cutler, pastor.
The play tells the true story of Fr. Damien, the heroic Belgian Catholic priest who was a fountain of light to those suffering the darkness of leprosy on the Hawaiian Island of Molokai beginning in 1873. He was a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart which continues missionary work in the spirit of Father Damien throughout the world.
Fr. Cutler said St. Damien, canonized in 2009, was “an ordinary person who performed extraordinary works of mercy, attending to the patients’ physical, as well as, spiritual needs.”
Groves has appeared extensively at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, DC and has also appeared in numerous New York City productions before taking this role. Television credits include Damages with Glenn Close, Law and Order, One Life to Live, and As the World Turns. He is an adjunct theater professor at St. Peter’s College in NJ and achieved an MA in Religion from Holy Names College in Oakland and an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College in Vermont.
The play has won rave reviews from dioceses and parishes across the United States.  
“Casey Groves’ performance of ‘Damien’ is very powerful. I encourage parishes and schools throughout the islands to host a performance to celebrate Blessed Damien’s canonization,” said Bishop Larry Silva- Diocese of Honolulu.
“The historic reception of a major relic of St. Damien was a rare moment of grace for the Church in San Francisco, one that was greatly enhanced by Casey Groves’ masterful performance of Damien. Casey brought the ‘Apostle of the Lepers’ to life for us,” said Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco
The National Catholic Reporter has called it a “A beautiful play, beautifully performed, about a life beautifully lived.”

St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Parish is located at 138 Candlewood Lake Road in Brookfield, Connecticut. For more information, see the Damien Play flyer on our website:

Memorial Day Is a ‘National All Souls’ Day
| May 30, 2016 • by Source: by Joseph Pronechen


Catholic chaplains and veterans remember, honor and pray for the fallen.

OHIO—Memorial Day 2016 falls on May 30, the day it was celebrated for decades after it began as Decoration Day to honor the war dead after the Civil War.

Some veterans and Catholic military chaplains described what the solemn day means to them.

“I would liken it to a national All Souls’ Day, as far as a Catholic chaplain goes,” observed Father Carl Subler. A chaplain on active duty with the U.S. Army, he has served in Iraq, Afghanistan and various bases around the United States, most recently at Fort Drum, N.Y. A priest of the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, he has been a chaplain since 2007.

We commemorate all the faithful departed on All Souls’ Day, while on Memorial Day, “I pray specifically for those who have died in our nation’s wars, whether you agree with them or not,” explained Father Subler. “I pray for their souls and the special sacrifice they made for our nation.”

He also prays specifically for those he ministered to overseas, as well as those who lost their lives in past wars.

Additionally on Memorial Day, from his first parish in Somerset, Ohio, he accompanies a busload of veterans—all in uniform—to visit local cemeteries “to say prayers for the vets at the cemeteries,” he said. “Every veteran lays a rose or flower at the tombstones, then salutes, and we say prayers for them. Then we gather in the town to say prayers, and the high-school band plays during the day. … That’s what Memorial Day is for me, as a Catholic priest and a chaplain in the Army.”

Then and Now

A graduate of the Air Force Academy, Raymond Leopold was an associate professor at the academy and then worked at the Pentagon.

“When I was a boy, Memorial Day meant a day off from school and a day during which I played the bugle marching with a drum and bugle corps in Chicago,” he said. He remembered that, sometimes, a parade ended at a cemetery. That was during the 1950s, when most of the men had fought in World War II and some of the older ones had fought in World War I.

“Some of them still called the holiday ‘Decoration Day,’ as it was first named during the Civil War,” with many decorating the graves, mostly with U.S. flags.

“As I got older and wore an Air Force uniform myself for 24 years, my perspective on Memorial Day changed,” he said. “We were fighting in Vietnam, and people I knew were among the casualties, including my pilot-training roommate, Richard Chorlins, whose remains were only identified and repatriated a little over a year ago, 45 years after he had been shot down in Laos. I drove the thousand miles to his funeral last April. I needed that drive to finally put his sacrifice to rest. His memorial service was a Jewish memorial in the Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel, followed by his burial in the academy cemetery. Like so many of our classmates who were also there for his service, I shoveled some of the dirt into his grave.”

Fighting for Freedom

“It’s always a day in which I thank God for the United States of America and remember many people who have gone before me, protecting the freedom and liberties I have to live as an American, not only in this nation but around the world,” said Father Michael Mikstay, a Navy captain serving with the Marines at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.

Memorial Day “is just another way of acknowledging that there are lives that have been paid for our nation,” he said. “I’m proud to be allowed by my bishop to serve as an officer in the military, to guarantee a free exercise of religion for those I serve.”

Father Mikstay is a priest from the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio.

When he noticed the recent trend to refer to the constitutionally guaranteed right to “freedom of religion” as the much lesser “freedom of worship,” he started making it a point to correct that notion because it changes definitions.

“Freedom of religion means we live this publicly and we’re free to do this. That’s the basis, the real reason why chaplains are here,” he said. But freedom of worship means you keep it within your church or temple, not in public.

On Memorial Day, we remember the true freedoms Americans fought to keep alive. Said Father Mikstay, the United States can still be “a sign of hope and a sign of faith, not only to people who live here, but those who live throughout the world.”

Memorial for Mercy

U.S. Army Maj. Father William Kneemiller, founder of the Holy Land Military Rosary initiative ( will celebrate Memorial Day in his home Diocese of Davenport, Iowa, before assisting this summer with chaplain support for 7,000 cadets going through the ROTC Academy at Fort Knox, Ky.

“One key feature to Memorial Day is that, in December 2000, the president signed into law the National Moment of Remembrance Act,” he said. He pointed out that the Department of Veterans Affairs’ website says that this act “encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3pm local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.”

“When I saw that, it seemed perfect,” said Father Kneemiller, who served tours in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East. He finds a strong connection for Catholics who should be familiar with 3pm being the “Hour of Mercy,” especially in this "Year of Mercy.”

“The early Church Fathers stated that this is the hour when Christ died on the cross,” he emphasized, “and it is a beautiful link for us to invoke the Divine Mercy of Jesus Christ for our departed heroes. It’s just about as perfect as it gets, in terms of connection.”

He suggests praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for those individuals in appreciation, praying for Christ’s mercy across the span of time, because “Christ’s mercy is not limited to our timeframe. His mercy is beyond our expectations. I can’t imagine not availing ourselves of Divine Mercy. That’s my key insight of Memorial Day: the hour of the Day of Remembrance.”

“As a Catholic, I like to say a special Rosary for that day,” shared Montana state Rep. Albert Olszewski, R-Kalispell, about his Memorial Day observances. “It is a time for special reflection when I deal with [the loss of] family members who served and friends who served, especially those people I worked with in the line of duty.”

Dr. Olszewski spent a decade in active duty with the Air Force as a flight surgeon. He served at the Air Force’s Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center and then as part of a rapid mobility surgical team that did disaster medicine as well, assisting victims from the Oklahoma City bombing to those affected by the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

“As a flight surgeon, I lost a number of pilots I trained or worked with,” such as in the Persian Gulf, “and in other accidents as well,” he said. His Memorial Day commemoration includes a trip to the cemetery to pay tribute.

As a state representative, Olszewski is asked to speak to veterans groups and others at various ceremonies. He tells people it’s really important to educate our young on what Memorial Day is really about. “As we educate and remember those who have lost their lives to give us all freedom, we should really promote that people fly the flag as a purposeful process to remember, and that’s a great way to engage the young.”

“We fly the flag on this day to remember people sacrificed,” he said. “I bring it back to the Bible: ‘There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’ (John 15:13).”

“As a Catholic, I point out love is not just an emotion,” he explained. “It’s an act of the will, an intention and an action. When you have great love for your family, for your country, you need to always remember—never forget—what people have done in their service and their sacrifice.”

One poignant example came this year on the morning of May 18, when his retired pastor and friend, Msgr. Donald Shea, died. Before assuming his parish, Msgr. Shea retired as a major general, the 19th chief of chaplains of the U.S. Army.

Olszewski shared a discussion he had with Msgr. Shea when he was dying. The chief of chaplains and humble parish pastor told him that when he would leave this earth he just wanted the people of his parish and his family to know why he did his service to our Church, to our country and to the soldiers, whether he was jumping out of planes in Vietnam or working in the Pentagon.

Maj. Gen. Msgr. Donald Shea told the good doctor: “I just want people to know all this service and sacrifice is [founded on] great love for them.”

Corpus Christi Procession in Nichols
| May 29, 2016


TRUMBULL—“The Eucharist is not merely a symbol of Jesus. The Eucharist is not just a reminder of Jesus. The Eucharist is not blessed bread,” Father Joseph Marcello told his congregation at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull. “The Eucharist is Jesus Christ himself: body, blood, soul, and divinity.”

To bring alive to his parishioners the full meaning of the Eucharist, “a gift beyond our reckoning,” Father Marcello, St. Catherine’s pastor, arranged for an outdoor parish procession to honor the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.

On one of the most beautiful feast days of the year, the noon Mass at St. Catherine’s was filled with music, ablaze with candles, rich with incense. The notes of a trumpet announced the opening hymn, and the outstanding choir sang the Corpus Christi sequence a cappella.

The procession following Mass drew parishioners into the warmth of the May afternoon. Led by the choir, the procession with triumphant cross, candle-bearers, incense and the brilliant monstrance overshadowed by a golden canopy circled the park-like grounds of St. Catherine’s campus. At the close of the observance, parishioners gave emotional thanks to Father Marcello for providing them with such a heart-filling proclamation of their faith.

Father Marcello, in his second year as pastor of St. Catherine’s, had chosen to hold the Corpus Christi procession “to publicly manifest our belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.” As a young priest, he had participated in processions during his first assignment at St. Joseph Parish in Shelton, and later at Hispanic parishes in the diocese when he was priest-secretary to then-Bishop William E. Lori.

“We live in such a visual culture,” he noted. “So a procession, with its candles, incense, and servers – with Our Lord in the monstrance, and so many of our parishioners and friends of all ages taking part—this helps to bring home to all of us that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Catholic faith.”

All that he does as pastor, Father Marcello said, has that same goal. “My hope is to lead people to Christ in the Eucharist,” he said, “so that as many as possible can encounter his peace, his healing, his mercy, and his love.  Bringing people to Jesus and bringing Jesus to people—that’s what it means to be a priest.”

Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
| May 29, 2016 • by By Dr. Frank DeStefano


Reading 1. Genesis 14: 18-20
Reading II. 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26
Gospel. Luke 9: 11b-17 (Loaves and Fishes).

The feast of the Body and Blood of Christ used to be called the feast of Corpus Christi, from the Latin words which literally mean the Body of Christ. The feast commemorates not just the Body of Christ but also the fact that it was given up or sacrificed for us. That's probably why each of the Mass readings features a priest who makes an offering to God.

The first reading goes back to the first book of the Old Testament, the Book of Genesis, where the mysterious priest-king, Melchizedek, offers up bread and wine to "God Most High." Although little else is known about Melchizedek, the early Fathers of the Church viewed him as a forerunner of Christ as both priest and king. At Mass if the priest uses the first Eucharistic prayer, he will compare our Eucharistic sacrifice with Melchizedek's.

The gospel is St. Luke's account of the miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fishes. This miracle, where Jesus provided food for the 5000, has also always been viewed as a precursor of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

Like many of the miracles of Jesus this one follows a standard format. Jesus is busy at his work of teaching and healing when a problem--a hungry crowd--is brought to his attention. At first He doesn't see what it has to do with Him, and tells his disciples to take care of it themselves. "Give them some food yourselves." When they confess their own inability, He takes over.

Then taking the five loaves and two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.

St. Luke concludes that "they all ate and were satisfied," and that plenty was left over.

Despite the fact that this miracle is the only one to appear in all four gospels, it is one of the most difficult for many people to accept. Today it is fashionable to offer a purely natural or sociological explanation.

Some think that people were shamed by the selfless sharing of Jesus, and proceeded to take food which they had hidden about their persons and share it with their neighbors.

That's one theory but I prefer to think that the God who is responsible for every grain of wheat that grows on the earth, and for every fish that swims in the sea, could feed 5000 people. Right after this miracle St. Mark tells us that Jesus saved His disciples from drowning when he calmed the storm at sea. St. Mark relates this incident to the miracle of the loaves. He says that the disciples in the boat "were utterly beside themselves with astonishment, for they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was blinded."

Many people also find it hard today to believe that the Body and Blood of Jesus are offered in the Sacrifice of the Mass. In the second reading from St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians we have what is probably the first written account of our Lord's offering of His own Body and Blood at the Last Supper. It's obvious that Paul didn't make these words up. He says that he heard them from the Lord Himself in much the same way that the other Apostles did at that Passover meal.

What could the Apostles have been thinking when they saw Jesus take the bread, offer thanks, break it, and then say, "This is my body that is for you?" How could the bread be His Body? Or what about, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood." How could the wine be His Blood? We know that they believed it because He said it and because He would raise His Body from the dead only three days later. We also know that the first Christian communities also believed it and from the beginning repeated the Lord's words whenever they gathered together "in remembrance of Him."

Since the beginnings of Christianity theologians have tried to come to a better understanding of what our Lord meant. In the Middle Ages they came up with an explanation that is as good as any that has been offered since. Guided by the rediscovery of the works of ancient Greek scientists and philosophers, theologians like St. Thomas Aquinas developed the concept of "transubstantiation."

Like most scientific words "transubstantiation" is a long word made up of different parts in order to give greater clarity and precision. But if we break the word down into its parts, we will get a better idea of what it means. First, let's deal with the prefix, "tran." It means going from one thing to another, like in transport or transmit. The suffix, "ation", at the end of the word means a process or action, like in transportation. So if we get rid of the prefix and suffix, we're left with the root or core of the word, "substance." Now "sub" means under and "stance" comes from the Latin verb, "stare" which means "to stand."

When we deal with substance we're dealing with that which stands under a thing, it's real core, what it is. So "transubstantiation" means that the bread and wine although they still look, and feel, and taste like bread and wine, have become something else. It's something like when we advance through the different stages of life, from infancy to old age. Although our bodies change, aren't we always the same person?

However, transubstantiation is an attempt to explain a mystery. It is not the mystery itself. Like the early Christians we believe that the Body and Blood of Christ are truly present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist because our Lord said so at the first Eucharist.

In Eucharist, find strength to share bread, faith with others, pope says
| May 27, 2016 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


ROME—A Corpus Christi procession should honor Christ’s gift of himself in the Eucharist, but also should be a pledge to share bread and faith with the people of the cities and towns where the processions take place, Pope Francis said.

Children dressed in first Communion outfits hold candles as Pope Francis
leads Benediction outside the Basilica of St. Mary Major on the feast
of Corpus Christi in Rome May 26. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis leads Benediction outside the Basilica of St. Mary Major
on the feast of Corpus Christi in Rome May 26. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Just as the “breaking of the bread” became the icon of the early Christian community, giving of oneself in order to nourish others spiritually and physically should be a sign of Christians today, the pope said May 26, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.

On a warm spring evening, the pope’s celebration began with Mass outside Rome’s Basilica of St. John Lateran and was to be followed by a traditional Corpus Christi procession from St. John Lateran to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, one mile away. Hundreds of members of parish and diocesan confraternities and sodalities—dressed in blue, brown, black or white capes and robes—joined the pope for Mass and would make the nighttime walk to St. Mary Major for eucharistic benediction with him.

“May this action of the eucharistic procession, which we will carry out shortly, respond to Jesus’ command,” he said in his homily. The procession should be “an action to commemorate him; an action to give food to the crowds of today; an act to break open our faith and our lives as a sign of Christ's love for this city and for the whole world.”

In every celebration of the Eucharist, the pope said, the people place simple bread and wine into “poor hands anointed by the Holy Spirit” and Jesus “gives us his body and his blood.”

The people’s gifts are an important part of the process, just as they were when Jesus fed the multitude with five loaves and two fish, Pope Francis said.

“Indeed,” he said, “it is Jesus who blesses and breaks the loaves and provides sufficient food to satisfy the whole crowd, but it is the disciples who offer the five loaves and two fish.”

“Jesus wanted it this way,” he said. Rather than letting the disciples send the people away to find food, Jesus wanted the disciples to “put at his disposal what little they had.”

“And there is another gesture: The pieces of bread, broken by the holy and venerable hands of Our Lord, pass into the poor hands of the disciples, who distribute these to the people,” Pope Francis said.

The miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fish, he said, “signals what Christ wants to accomplish for the salvation of all mankind, giving his own flesh and blood. And yet this needs always to happen through those two small actions: offering the few loaves and fish which we have; receiving the bread broken by the hands of Jesus and giving it to all.”

Later in the Mass, a couple with four children and a grandmother with her three grandchildren brought the gifts of bread and wine to the pope for consecration.

Pope Francis urged the crowd gathered on the lawn outside the basilica to consider all the holy men and women throughout history who have given their lives, “‘broken’ themselves,” in order to nourish others.

“How many mothers, how many fathers, together with the slices of bread they provide each day on the tables of their homes, have broken their hearts to let their children grow, and grow well,” he said. “How many Christians, as responsible citizens, have broken their own lives to defend the dignity of all, especially the poorest, the marginalized and those discriminated!”

The source of strength for such given, he said, is found in “the Eucharist, in the power of the risen Lord’s love, who today too breaks bread for us and repeats: ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’”

Click to read reflection by Dr. Frank DeStefano

Click here to see the story on CNS news.

Around the Diocese
| May 27, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Social Media Leader John Grosso will take you “Around the Diocese” in just 60 seconds in this video.

From First Communions to diocesan and parish activities, the faithful of Fairfield County find great joy and fulfillment in the liturgies, activities and teachings of the Church. Please take a look for yourself.

Fairfield Student Named Gates Millennium Scholar
| May 27, 2016


FAIRFIELD—Breiana Campbell, Class of 2016 and daughter of Rodney and Charlene Campbell of Bridgeport, has been named a Gates Millennium Scholar.

Campbell is one of 1,000 recipients from across the nation selected to receive this full college and postgraduate scholarship out of over 50,000 applicants. Campbell has enrolled at Dartmouth College for her undergraduate studies and also plans to attend medical school.

As a student at Notre Dame, Campbell has consistently been in the top 10 of her class while taking a challenging AP-level curriculum. Campbell has been a four-year member of both the Indoor and Outdoor Track teams, serving as a captain during her senior year. She is a member of the National and Spanish Honor Societies and was elected by her peers to serve as President of both organizations. She has regularly volunteered with Notre Dame’s Campus Ministry program and Care Club.

In 2015, Campbell was selected as Queen of Bridgeport’s Barnum Festival, from a pool of candidates representing all area high schools. Campbell has volunteered with the Golden Hill United Methodist Church, serving as a captain for their meal preparation team assisting area low-income and homeless families. She has also volunteered her time at St. Vincent’s Hospital and with the Stratford Emergency Medical Services. Campbell is currently completing her senior internship in the Neuroradiology Department at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Notre Dame’s principal Chris Cipriano commented, “We couldn’t be prouder of Breiana not only for her academic and service-related achievements of the past four years, but also for receiving this tremendous scholarship award. She is a wonderful example of Notre Dame and one who has proven our mission successful of building character, faith and intellect in each student.”

According to the Gates Millenium Scholarship homepage, “The Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was established in 1999 to provide outstanding African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American, and Hispanic American students with an opportunity to complete an undergraduate college education in any discipline area of interest. Continuing Gates Millennium Scholars may request funding for a graduate degree program in one of the following discipline areas: computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science.”

“In 1999, a bold vision of what America’s future would look like began to take shape. In that view, America’s leadership would include 20,000 individuals, all people of color, who would make a significant impact on the future direction of the nation. Coming from among the most financially needy students and attending the nation’s best colleges and universities, they would represent the extraordinary promise inherent among all highly academically capable individuals, no matter what their background. Moreover, the planners envisioned that the researched experiences of the students’ matriculation and retention, the fact of these individuals’ extraordinary successes to terminal degrees, and the testimony of their voices, would spark conversation, and perhaps debate, leading to public policies and added philanthropic contributions in support of similarly able and financially challenged young people. That vision of Bill and Melinda Gates was funded by a historic grant of more than 1 billion dollars to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF)—still the largest single gift to any scholarship organization.”

For additional information contact Chris Cipriano at 203.372.6521 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Bishop praises religious for their witness of Gospel values in our society
| May 26, 2016


WESTPORT—More than 150 men and women religious recently attended a Consecrated Life Mass and Listening Session with the Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano at St. Luke Church in Westport.

The meeting, coordinated by Sr. Nancy Strillacci, A.S.C.J. Program Director in the Office of Clergy and Religious and Episcopal Delegate, was the third in a series, and began as a part of the Diocesan Synod process to support and affirm religious life.
In the hour-long open microphone session, issues relating to mission, ministry and community were discussed.
The bishop addressed topics such as yearly stipends and ministry agreements of religious who work in the diocesan schools, parishes or Curia’s departments.
“Comments from the floor ranged from the need to know opportunities for ministry and leadership in the Diocese of Bridgeport to reactions to the recent comment by Pope Francis at a meeting of the International Union of Superiors General suggesting that a commission be formed to study the New Testament use of the word deaconess and possible modern implications,” said Sr. Nancy.
Afterwards there was a Liturgy for Consecrated Life during which religious renewed their vows. The theme of the event was mercy.
In his homily the bishop recalled an incident at his first mass as a newly ordained. He said he went to use the ribbon to flip the pages to the next reading and suddenly saw the ribbon had detached from the Missal and was dangling from his hand.
This left him fumbling with pages, looking for the correct words while embarrassedly explaining that he “was new at this.”
The bishop recalled the realization that all his learning, preparation and talent did not help him in this simple situation and reminded him that God was in charge. “God is powerful and merciful,” he said.
After Mass, the religious attended a special annual dinner at which twenty religious celebrating special jubilees of vows were honored and given gifts by Bishop Caggiano. The eldest had been in the vowed life eighty years. Eight sisters in attendance had a photo taken with the bishop.
The Diocese has over forty religious orders living or ministering in its borders and most were represented by members on this special night.
Bishop Caggiano praised the witness religious give to Gospel values in a world which, more than ever, needs signs of Christ’s ideals and principles.

Click here to watch the video.

Breakfast of Champions honors achievement and character
| May 25, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—“Any time that we celebrate the goodness and intelligence of our young people is a day of blessing and hope,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at the “Breakfast of Champions,” which honors Catholic school students who excel in academics, athletic achievement and above all strive to live a lifestyle that exemplifies Gospel values.

During his opening remarks, Bishop Caggiano warmly thanked the honorees, their principals, pastors and parents. “Your young people have come to love the Lord through the love you show to them, the love that brought you here today,” he said, speaking to parents.

Two awards are given at the breakfast: a St. Thomas Aquinas Award to students in their last year of elementary or high school who have demonstrated academic accomplishment and the St. Sebastian Award for high school seniors who have not only academic distinction but have been captain of an athletic team that won at the State level during this academic year.

The two often overlap. Gianna Basso, the St. Thomas Aquinas honoree from St. Catherine of Siena School in Trumbull, is not only a top scholar in her class, she is Student Council co-president and was on St. Catherine’s basketball and track teams.

“It’s grades, but more importantly her character and overall character that helped us choose Gianna,” said St. Catherine’s principal, Peter Rodgers.

Gianna, who enjoys all subjects from English to math, will be attending St. Joseph High School in Trumbull this fall, where she plans to try out for the track team. Her long-term goal? “I want to be a teacher for grades seven through high school,” she said.

Taylor Guth from Immaculate High School in Danbury, Immaculate’s St. Thomas honoree, is headed for the University of Notre Dame this year, where she plans to concentrate in neuroscience and pre-med. Active in campus ministry throughout her high school years, serving breakfast to the homeless at Dorothy Day House, she hopes that she can combine her future career with service, possibly through an organization like Doctors Without Borders.

These students, and all the honorees, take to heart the words of Bishop Caggiano. “As you are honored today, remember that there is more work to be done,” he told them. “You are the eyes, heart, hands and feet of the Lord in the world.”


2016 Breakfast of Champions Honorees
St. Thomas Aquinas Award
The recipients of the St. Thomas Aquinas Award were selected for two reasons. These individuals have shown excellence in academics at their respective schools. The awardees also exemplify the Gospel Values we are called to in our Catholic faith through service to others and Christ-like behavior. The award has been named in honor of St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest and most influential theologians of all time. He was extremely focused in the area of academics as well as in the practice of virtue. St. Thomas Aquinas lived in the thirteenth century, was canonized in 1323 and declared a Doctor of the Universal Church by Pope St. Pius V in 1567. In 1880, Pope Leo XIII designated him as the patron saint of all Catholic universities, academies, colleges and schools throughout the world.

5th Grade Recipients
William Anderson - Our Lady Star of the Sea School, Stamford
Isabel Aquino - Holy Spirit School, Stamford
Eden Cheung - St. Cecilia School, Stamford
8th Grade Recipients
Gianna Basso - St. Catherine of Siena School, Trumbull
Julianna Bosco - Trinity Catholic Middle School, Stamford
Anne Clark - Greenwich Catholic School, Greenwich
Jose Dataram - Catholic Academy of Bridgeport (St. Augustine)
Keelan Doherty - St. Joseph School, Danbury
Carolyn Donovan - St. Mary School, Ridgefield
Maeve Foley - St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School, Fairfield
Carla Guirguis - St. Rose of Lima, Newtown
Bridget Hewitt - St. James School, Stratford
Thompson Hyland - St. Gregory the Great School, Danbury
Keara Klein - Catholic Academy of Bridgeport (St. Ann)
Elisa  Lifrieri - St. Mary School, Bethel
Emily McGovern - St. Jude School, Monroe
Ethan Novicio - St. Joseph School, Shelton
Salvatore Orosz - Assumption Catholic School, Fairfield
Mackenzie O'Rourke - St. Joseph School, Brookfield
Maria Raiti - Catholic Academy of Bridgeport (St. Andrew)
Ross Relator - St. Peter School, Danbury
Elizabeth Richmond - St. Theresa School, Trumbull
Matthew  Rohr - All Saints Catholic School, Norwalk
Brian Rooney - Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School, Wilton
Natalie Sciallo - St. Mark School, Stratford
Isaac Seyer - St. Lawrence School, Shelton
Sophie Stachurski - St. Aloysius School, New Canaan

12th Grade Recipients
Christina Bellacicco - Trinity Catholic High School, Stamford
Alexandra D'Aurio - Notre Dame High School, Fairfield
Taylor Guth - Immaculate High School, Danbury
Joshua Kotos - Saint Catherine Academy, Fairfield
William  Mercier - St. Joseph High School, Trumbull
Alyssa Mesaros - Kolbe Cathedral High School, Bridgeport

St. Sebastian Award
The recipients selected for the St. Sebastian Award were selected for two reasons. These individuals have shown leadership in their respective high schools as the captain of an athletic team.  Additionally, the awardees have shown athletic success in that particular sport. The award has been named in honor of St. Sebastian who was known for his physical endurance and his energetic way of spreading and defending the Catholic faith. He was a Roman Martyr who died for the faith in about the year 283. St. Sebastian is the patron saint of athletes.

12th Grade Recipients
Darius Hunter - Immaculate High School, Basketball
Darius Smith - Immaculate High School, Basketball
Shannon Ducey - Immaculate High School, Cross Country
Jenna Gasparrini - Immaculate High School, Cross Country
Julia Rist - Immaculate High School, Cross Country
Raina Ceryak - Notre Dame High School, Soccer
Sierra Chavez - Notre Dame High School, Soccer
Bryanna D'Arcangelo - Notre Dame High School, Soccer
Cassie Aungst - St. Joseph High School, Cheerleading
Meghen Foss - St. Joseph High School, Cheerleading
Tierney Hall - St. Joseph High School, Cheerleading
Allie McKenna - St. Joseph High School, Cheerleading
James Mas - St. Joseph High School, Cross Country
Cillian Donahue - St. Joseph High School, Lacrosse
Chris Klabonski - St. Joseph High School, Lacrosse
Mike Sudora - St. Joseph High School, Lacrosse
Jenna Bike - St. Joseph High School, Soccer
Marissa Grasso - St. Joseph High School, Soccer
Samantha Lello - St. Joseph High School, Soccer
Leah Lewis - St. Joseph High School, Soccer
Jada Harris - St. Joseph High School, Track and Field

St. Matthew Knights awarded by the Knights of Columbus CT State Council
| May 24, 2016


NORWALK—As the fraternal year is concluding, K of C #14360 in Norwalk is finishing one of its busiest years in the short history of the council. The state council has recognized their hard work and dedication.

Starting back in September with helping to run and organize not one but two 9/11 memorial Masses, to painting and carpentry projects to running 385-person dinners, Knights of Columbus St. Matthew Council #14360 in Norwalk worked tirelessly over the last nine months to help those in need at St. Matthew church and in the surrounding community. At the Knights of Columbus Connecticut State Council’s 123rd convention in Stamford May 13-15 they were awarded two program awards for their efforts.

Every year the state honors councils with program awards in six categories, and last year council 14360 won its first state award in its history. This year the council won two state awards, including the “Culture of Life” program award for another painting project at Malta House.

Malta House promotes the dignity of God-given life by providing a nurturing home environment, support services and independent living skills to pregnant and parenting mothers of all faiths and their children.

This is the second straight year they won that award.

The council also won the “Church” program award for its four-year relationship helping Our Lady of Solace church in Brooklyn after the devastating Superstorm Sandy ruined most of the church on Coney Island.

“I’ve never been one for physical awards, but it is a great accomplishment,” says Grand Knight George Ribellino, Jr. “Knowing that the state council appreciates the good work we are doing is an honor and I am humbled.”

Ribellino, Grand Knight since 2013, is completing his three-year term this year. “It’s been a great three years that has gone very fast, and it’s amazing what our council has accomplished.

I am so proud of my Brother Knights. It’s never been easy and there’s always a sense of stress but at the same time it always feels good at the end when those in need are smiling.”

The St. Matthew Knights assists St. Matthew parish and organizations such as All Saints Catholic School, Notre Dame Convalescent Home, FCA, Al’s Angels, Fisher House and Homes for the Brave in Bridgeport.

To learn more about Knight of Columbus Council 14360, visit

Veneration of the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe
| May 24, 2016


SHELTON—The St. Lawrence Prayer Group, of St. Lawrence in Shelton will be sponsoring the Veneration of the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Monday, June 27 and Tuesday, June 28.

Vivian Mestey of Fredericksburg, Virginia, the guardian of the sacred image, will be making a presentation concerning the image and its mission as well as offering individual prayer.

The evenings will consist of the following:

4:00 pm to 6:00 pm – Veneration and Individual Prayer
6:00 pm – Talk on Image and Mission
6:30 pm – Rosary
7:00 pm – Mass and Homily on Our Lady of Guadalupe
8:00 pm – Adoration, Benediction and Closing

All are welcome, please spread the word. More information can be obtained at under Our Lady of Guadalupe and Facebook; “Escarchas of Guadalupe”. For further information contact Deacon Frank Masso at 203.605.8321 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Catholic Academy Golf Classic Raises Close to $200,000
| May 23, 2016


FAIRFIELD—The Catholic Academy of Bridgeport held its Fourth Annual Golf Classic at the Country Club of Fairfield on Thursday, May 19.

The event was a “birdie” by all accounts—from picture-perfect weather to almost 100 enthusiastic golfers to nearly $200,000 raised for student scholarships.

Roughly 930 students attend one of the four campuses that make up the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport—St. Ann Academy, St. Andrew Academy, St. Augustine Academy and St. Raphael Academy—and 85% receive some sort of financial assistance, totaling $3 million annually.

The event was generously underwritten by Brad and Barbara Evans. Judy and Jim Bailey underwrote the gifts and Heineken USA donated the beer. Green Earth Energy Photovoltaic was the Gold Sponsor, and Bronze Sponsors included Day Pitney LLP, Mr. James Read, Mr. Frank Sica, and William J. Fessler Family Dentistry. Other sponsors were: Merrill Lynch, People’s United Bank, Blakes School Uniform Company, Mr. Thomas Graham, Mr. Frank Mori, and Mr. Raymond Rizio.

“We are so grateful to the generosity of so many that make this annual event so successful,” said Sr. Joan Magnetti, rscj, Executive Director of the Academy. “Many contributed items for our auction as well as funds for scholarship in our Leaders of Tomorrow  program to make the gift of a Catholic education possible.”

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

St. Jude Confirmation
| May 22, 2016


MONROE—On Saturday, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano confirmed young people from St. Jude Parish in Monroe. Among the parents in the Church was JoMarie Branco who was deeply moved by the ceremony and the Bishop’s homily.

"Yesterday I experienced one of the most beautiful Masses in a long time. The words of our Bishop to youth of the parish were amazing. He encouraged them to be different and to be great—two things our young children need to hear.

"I have been a Roman Catholic my entire life. I believe we all are called to serve. Likewise the bishop has been called to make a difference and I truly believe his words were so powerful. I myself try to strive to make a difference with having three children I want them to grow up being good adults and never to forget their faith. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Saint Jude Roman Catholic Church numbers 2,600 families as parishioners. It is located at 707 Monroe Tpke, Monroe. On the web:

St. Vincent’s College taps 179 graduates
| May 21, 2016 • by From


BRIDGEPORT—St. Vincent’s College conferred degrees to 179 members of the Class of 2016 at Friday’s commencement exercises.

Most of the students graduated with degrees in nursing: 114 students earned associate of nursing degrees, while 29 others received Bachelor of Science degrees in nursing.

St. Vincent’s also awarded associate degrees in radiography and medical assisting, and Bachelor of Science degrees in radiologic sciences.

The student commencement speakers were Vivian Lounsbury of Bridgeport and Justin Gagner of Oxford.

The Rev. Larry Fullerton, executive pastor, Black Rock Congregational Church, gave the commencement address.

The ceremony took place at the University of Bridgeport’s Arnold Bernhard Arts & Humanities Center, Mertens Theatre.

Around the Diocese
| May 20, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—You’ll enjoy this “Around the Diocese” week in review by Diocesan Social Media Leader John Grosso.

The video begins with last weekend’s beautiful Pentecost Vigil at St. Augustine Cathedral in downtown Bridgeport, moves on to the 22nd Celebrity Breakfast to benefit Merton Center held on Wednesday and makes a couple of other stops around the diocese.

Please take this one-minute walk through a diocese that if full of life, faith and commitment to renewal.

Click here to view the video

Bishop updates Stamford parents on Strategic Plan for Elementary Schools
| May 19, 2016


STAMFORD—The diocese has hired Partners in Mission, a full service-consulting firm focused exclusively on Catholic schools, to guide the Strategic Planning for Catholic elementary schools in Stamford.

Bishop Caggiano made the announcement last night (May 18) at Trinity Catholic High School in a meeting to update parents about the Strategic Planning process for the four Catholic elementary schools in Stamford. The final plan is expected to be completed in March 2017.

More than 75 parents and educators turned out to learn more about the effort to plan for the future growth and vitality of the schools.

“Now at this moment I am asking you to get involved,” he told the parents as he began his presentation. “We don’t want you to be spectators in the process, we want you to be collaborators. No one knows what’s better for their children than you do.”

During his half-hour presentation the bishop told parents they will have many opportunities to get involved in the work of the strategic plan by participating in focus groups and responding to surveys, as well as serving on working groups and board committees that will draw on their professional expertise.

His talk was followed by a lengthy question and answer session in which the bishop urged parents to visit the schools' website after the meeting and to sign up for a committee.

The bishop told parents that the Boston-based Partners is nationally known for their work in Catholic school leadership, advancement, enrollment management and strategic planning. They were the unanimous selection of the Stamford Catholic Schools working group that has been leading the process of change.  

He said the consultants were brought in because all those who have been involved in the study process realized they needed professional help to move forward.

He said that in addition to their experience in working on school strategic plans, Partners in Mission has an excellent track record of involving parents in decision-making and engaging community support.

A team from the firm has led the recently completed strategic plan for Greenwich Catholic School and was successful in creating a high level of parent participation.  

The bishop first met with parents in early March to announce an 18-month strategic planning process for Holy Spirit School, Our Lady Star of the Sea School, St Cecilia’s School and Trinity Catholic Middle School.

Retaining and building enrollment remains a major challenge, the bishop said, noting that the schools have budgeted for 620 students next year. At present, 520 have re-registered for next year with 37 more pending and 73 current students yet to enroll.

He said the new Tuition Assistance Committee in Stamford will help identity families who need financial assistance beyond what is provided by the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund to enroll their children.  

“This is the time to re-register and to get our enrollment set for next year,” the bishop said, urging those in attendance to encourage other parents to complete the registration process.   

He thanked parents and pastors for their cooperation in in the April 24
“Open House” weekend that led to 40 new registrations for next year.  The schools also host “Take a Look Tuesdays,” weekly open houses every Tuesday from 9 to 11 am.

The bishop discussed the new, two-tier governing model proposed to oversee the four Stamford schools. It will include a Board of Members made up of the Bishop, the Vicar General and the Diocesan Superintendent of Schools to ensure the Catholic identity of the schools, and a Board of Directors composed of lay leaders who will take responsibility for finances, marketing and planning.

The bishop said the new governance model has many strengths in that it would unify the schools on planning and major initiatives while also preserving “the individual and distinctive culture of each school.”

He added that the new governance model will restore a healthy balance between a centralized school system and local control. The new board will have actual decision-making authority over school finances, programs and improvements.

In presenting the strategic planning timeline, the bishop said that the data, planning and research effort will formally begin this month, along with the formation of the Strategic Planning Committee, which is expected to evolve into the new board. The implementation of the plan is set for April 2017.

For more information, or to volunteer, visit:

Mad Dog Howls for Merton Center
| May 18, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Legendary sports talk host Christopher Mad Dog Russo let out his trademark howl to begin the 22nd Annual Celebrity Merton Center Breakfast and the morning went on to raise almost $150,000 for the downtown soup kitchen.

Bishop and Brian Jenkins with Mad Dog Russo.

Ralph Corrigan wins volunteer award.

The breakfast brought together 300 business and civic leaders and friends of the Merton Center to the Downtown Holiday Inn to support the Merton Center, which serves over 550,000 meals a year to those who gather at its tables.

Russo, the host of Sirius XM’s  “Mad Dog Unleashed,” shared a few of his most treasured sports talk moments with the audience.

He said that on a recent show he got the chatter going by suggesting that Jerry West was far greater than Stephen Curry of the Warriors. After listening to callers go back and forth on the issue, he noticed that “Sam from Jacksonville was on Line 5” and had been waiting for a few minutes.  

The caller turned out to be Boston Celtic great Sam Jones who spent the better part of a half hour reminiscing with the Mad Dog. “That kind of moment makes it all worth while to do the show,” said Russo, who added that he felt very fortunate "being in the right place at the right time” throughout career as a sport commentator.  

During the annual event, Fr. Charles Allen of Fairfield University handled his usual role of bidding up giving to the Merton Center while delivering anecdotes and one-liners that had the audience roaring.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano brought it all together when he said, “the poor are not problems to be solved but our brothers and sisters to be loved.”

The Bishop praised staff, board and volunteers for their efforts and their approach to caring for those in need at Merton Center.

“We call them, ‘our guests,’ not clients, disadvantaged, poor and homeless. The guests are welcomed as part of our diocesan family.”

Brian Jenkins, Director of Merton Center, told the gathering that prescription drugs and heroin are now the leading cause of death in the United States, taking more lives than automobile accidents and gun violence.

He said guests to Merton Center have multiple level needs and challenges, but they are  “desperate to find solutions” and move on in their lives.

Jenkins presented the Joseph E. Mulcahy Creative Service Award to retired Sacred Heart University English Professor Dr. Ralph Corrigan of Trumbull for his efforts in leading a creative writing class for Merton Center guests. The poems and writings have been collected in a volume, “Poems from the Center.”

He said that Dr. Corrigan, a twenty-year volunteer at Merton Center, was also revered by guests for “making the best oat meal in town.”

The breakfast was hosted by Bonnie Candee and Christine Hughes, Co-chairs of the Merton Center Advisory Board.

Merton Center serves breakfast and lunch to 350 people a day, provides take-home groceries for individuals and families through its Food Pantry,  sponsors support groups and provides case management services to help guests finding housing and other basic needs.

Merton Center is sponsored by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Bridgeport. It is  located at 43 Madison Avenue in Bridgeport. Phone: 203.367.9036. On the web:

Dr. McAleer edits new book of Cardinal Egan's columns
| May 18, 2016 • by By BRIAN D. WALLACE


NEW YORK—His Eminence, Edward Cardinal Egan, had two unfinished projects on his desk on the day he died, March 5, 2015, and they both involved the Diocese of Bridgeport.

The first was a fundraiser for St. John Fisher Seminary, which he founded in the diocese in 1989. On the morning of his passing, Cardinal Egan was working on a guest list with his former priest secretary, Father Michael Jones, who is now vicar for development for the Diocese of Bridgeport.

The second project required putting the finishing touches on a collection of his columns from Fairfield County Catholic, written between 1989 and 2008, when he served as Bishop of Bridgeport.

Perhaps there was no one better to assist him in that task and to complete the unfinished work than Dr. Joseph McAleer, who served as director of communications and editor of Fairfield County Catholic from 1999 to 2008.  

The two had been working on the book for months and the Cardinal had culled the collection to 50 representative columns. After the Cardinal’s sudden passing at age 82, Dr. McAleer moved ahead with his wishes for the project, providing the final edits and writing an insightful introduction to the volume titled Practice for Heaven, True Stories from a Modern Missionary, (Sophia Institute Press) (293 pages), Manchester, N.H., 2016.

In an era before Facebook and the immediacy of social media, Cardinal Egan wrote more than 230 columns for both Fairfield County Catholic and Catholic New York, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of New York. As Dr. McAleer notes in his excellent introduction, the title of the book is derived from the Cardinal’s often repeated remark that all of his efforts as a priest, “were practice for getting into Heaven.”

In summarizing Cardinal Egan’s considerable achievements and legacy in Bridgeport and New York, Dr. McAleer includes some of the Cardinal’s statements  on the sexual abuse crisis; however, none of the columns directly address the issue. He also offers a concise, revealing biography that mentions the Cardinal’s two-year struggle with polio as a boy.

The columns bring back what many in the diocese had the pleasure of reading in Fairfield County Catholic and hearing in his elegant voice—his great charm and story telling ability. He could set up a column with the gifts of a short story writer, and he had a natural gift for describing the many people he encountered in his ministry and his travels as a priest and a bishop.

“Her Magic,” a column he wrote on Mother Theresa’s visit to the South Bronx, is remarkable in its scene setting and dialogue, and in the alarming story he tells of a young man who staggers down the aisle of the Church during Mass after being beaten and bloodied by a drug dealer outside. Much to the Cardinal’s amazement, Mother Theresa and her young Sisters immediately attend to the man and send him on his way with prayer and hope in his heart.

Readers may also want to read the memorable profile of John Paul II written in June 1998, on the 20th anniversary of his pontificate. The piece is based on the Cardinal’s many face-to-face meetings and encounters with St. John Paul II and offers a privileged look at this remarkable man.

Sometimes he is at best in minor pieces such as “Repentances,” in which he relays the story of a lost Caravaggio that is found in an old rectory in Dublin, where it hung over a sideboard in the dining room. In his patented style, he draws us into the meaning of the column through the elegant veneer of his description. The tale then moves to New York City and a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in 1997, after the Met had acquired what was believed to be the last undiscovered Caravaggio. While he delights the reader with his understanding of art and his easy companionship with his fellow museumgoers, he ends up delivering a devastating homily on betrayal, repentance, and the need we all have to ask for forgiveness.
Cardinal Egan emerges from these columns as an enormously urbane observer of the international Church and defender of the faith of others, wherever he found it—in Rome, Prague, Havana, Dublin, Damascus, Budapest, and Nanning (Southwest China) to name just a few of his stops. He frequently mentions walking, taking the subway, and boarding a bus, and his love for his adopted city of Manhattan is evident.

In this handsome volume, readers will discover a man who is a great traveling companion on the journey of faith. He has the eye of a painter, the ear of a musician, the soul of a parish priest, always willing to accompany others and to find joy and meaning in life as he “practiced for heaven.”

Practice for Heaven is available now at bookstores and online at and other retailers.

A Most Fitting Day To Be With Saint Anthony of Padua
| May 17, 2016


STAMFORD—On Tuesday, June 14, Flag Day, a holy and first class relic of Saint Anthony of Padua will visit The Basilica of Saint John the Evangelist on Atlantic Avenue in Stamford. 

Click here to view the flyer.

Prior to the arrival of the relic, the Basilica will launch a Triduum of Prayer on Sunday, June 12, with a Holy Hour at 7:30 pm, including Adoration and Benediction, a short homily, and Confession. A second Holy Hour will be held on Monday, June 13, at 7:30 pm. All are welcome.

The Reverend Monsignor Stephen M. DiGiovanni, and his staff, will host three masses in honor of the saint at 8 am, 12:10 pm and 7:30 pm, with veneration all day long. It will be a day of masses, veneration, novenas, devotions and prayer in honor of St. Anthony’s Feast Day.

Father Paolo Floretta, a Franciscan OFM Conv Friar, one of fifty-two Friars who lives in the Basilica in Padua, will accompany the relic from Padua, Italy to America in honor of the Saint’s Feast Day. The American tour begins on June 10 in New Jersey and will end on June 19 in Westchester County, NY.  

“The Franciscan way to venerate the holy relic is to make physical contact with the reliquary with a religious item such as rosary beads, medals, crosses, a prayer card and even a photo of someone dear to you,” said Fr. Floretta.   

Saint Anthony of Padua died on June 13, 1231. According to the Gregorian calendar, June 13, 1231 was a Friday. Saint Anthony was buried the following Tuesday, June 17, 1231, at Santa Maria Mater Domini. His tomb was later transferred to the present day Basilica when it was completed during that century. It is for this reason why the nine (9) day and thirteen (13) day Saint Anthony novenas, known throughout the Catholic World, are always recited on a Tuesday, the day he was buried.  

Father Paolo Floretta is delighted that the saint’s relic will be venerated on a Tuesday at the Mother Church of Stamford, The Basilica of St John the Evangelist. From his room in Padua by phone, “I will be coming from a Basilica in Padua, Italy and am thrilled that his relic will be venerated on a Tuesday in a Basilica in the United States of America”  

Saint Anthony of Padua is known to millions of Catholics for ‘lost items’. Catholics worldwide ask why he is associated with them. Father Mario Conte, Executive Editor of The Messenger of St. Anthony, and his staff, provide answers and explanations about the saint to the devotees in the English-speaking world.  Friar Alessandro Ratti, a travel companion of the saint’s relics, like Father Floretta and Father Mario Conte, best known throughout the English-speaking world, offers a succinct explanation.

“Saint Anthony’s reputation as a finder of lost things dates to an incident in the saint’s life. As the legend goes, a novice who had grown tired of religious life decided to leave the Franciscan community. But before leaving, the novice took Saint Anthony’s psalter. The book was very important to Anthony, especially since it was before the printing press had been invented. The psalter had notes and comments he made in teaching his students in the Franciscan order.

Anthony prayed that the psalter would be found and returned to him. Anthony’s prayers were answered: The novice returned the psalter and returned to the order.”

Saint Anthony became “Santo Subito” during the 11th month after his death when Pope Gregory IX canonized him as Saint Anthony of Padua. Some saints are canonized a hundred years after  their death, and even centuries. No other saint has ever been canonized in such a short period of time after death.  

Saint Anthony, a Doctor of the Church, is believed by millions of devotees to be a powerful intercessor among the communion of saints. Father Paolo softly makes a strong point in our telephone conversation, “Only God performs miracles. However, the saints lift our voices and prayer petitions to God.”

In an address in Cologne, Germany, Thursday, August 18, 2005, Pope Benedict Emeritus said of relics “By inviting us to venerate the mortal remains of the martyrs and saints, the Church does not forget that, in the end, these are indeed just human bones, but they are bones that belonged to individuals touched by the living power of God. The relics of the saints are traces of that invisible but real presence which sheds light upon the shadows of the world and reveals the Kingdom of Heaven in our midst.”

Pope Francis, inspired by two Franciscan Saints, Saint Francis and Saint Anthony, who knew each other during their lifetime in the 13th century, said of relics “Relics are parts of the body of a saint which was the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

Through this body, the saints practiced heroic values recognized by the Church.” In 2000, when Pope Francis was Bishop Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, the reliquary traveled to the historic city where he carried the reliquary into the streets of the Argentinian capital.  

Prayer petitions will be distributed at the Basilica in Stamford by Fr. Paolo to allow parishioners to write their prayer petition to the saint. Father Paolo will bring the petitions back to the Basilica in Padua and place the petitions at the tomb of Saint Anthony.  

The tour officially ends back at the tomb where the Friars will light candles and offer prayers for our intentions. Father Paolo shares

“People can reach Jesus Christ through the intercession of saints. Saint Anthony is one of the signs we encounter on our road through life. Saint Anthony was a real person who still gives us direction today. Venerating his relic is a link of love between us and him.”  

For a complete schedule, please contact the USA Representative, Tom Muscatello, at 914.263.8841.

For more info please visit The Basilica of Saint John the Evangelist

A Special Report—Vigil of Pentecost!
| May 17, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Diocesan Social Media Leader John Grosso, along with Social Media Intern Grace Wagner, have introduced a new “Special Report” video series to highlight important events around the Diocese.

The new series will premier on YouTube and will be published on the Diocesan Facebook and Twitter. The reports are meant to summarize special events from around our Diocese, using video, pictures, and audio clips of Bishop Frank J. Caggiano’s homily.

The first “Special Report” video premiered on social media yesterday, sharing highlights from the recent Pentecost Vigil Mass.

Despite gathering storm clouds and the beginning of a light drizzle, hundreds gathered outside of St. Augustine Cathedral on Saturday evening to celebrate the Vigil of Pentecost.

They gathered outside the church, right in front of the new Divine Mercy Shrine, which was surrounded by 7 bonfires. Each fire represented a gift of the Holy Spirit.

“My Mother always told me not to play with fire,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said, beginning his homily, “and there is a great wisdom in that. Except, for tonight. For tonight is the festival of our salvation.”

Click here to view the video.

A close shave for charity
| May 16, 2016


NORWALK—Fr. Michael Boccaccio and St. Philip parish have been raising funds to fight hunger for the last thirteen years, totaling over $300,000.

This year he told the parishioners if they surpassed $60,000 for the year total he would shave his hair and mustache off. His family came for his 45th Priestly Ordination Anniversary on May 15 and his niece Patty shaved his hair in front of the all the attendees, most of whom wore fake mustaches.

Pentecost is the Festival of Our Salvation
| May 15, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Hundreds of faithful filled St. Augustine Cathedral last night for the Vigil of Pentecost Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.

“Today is the festival of our salvation, because that which Christ achieved in his birth, death, and resurrection are given to you and I this night because the Spirit allows us to become adopted sons and daughters of God," Bishop Caggiano said in his homily.

He continued, "What Jesus had by his nature, we receive as gift. All of the benefits of Jesus' glorification and His resurrection become a promise to you and me because the Holy Spirit is alive in all of us.”

The bishop said that people are taught “not to play with fire,” but he prayed “that the fire of the Holy Spirit” renew all of the people and the institutions of the diocese.

He said that life of Jesus started a “fire that this world could not ever begin to understand,” but can share in it through baptism.

The Mass began with Evening Vespers at Sunset followed by a procession into the Cathedral for Mass, which was concelebrated by Fr. Peter Towsley, Episcopal Delegate to Ecclesial Movements.

Seven bonfires were lit during the Vespers Service and prayers were said in seven languages reflecting the diversity of Bridgeport area parishioners.

Fr. Frank Gomez, Pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Bridgeport, served as Episcopal Master of Ceremonies.

Click to listen to Bishop Caggiano’s homily

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

Trinity Catholic High School conducts “Distractology” program
| May 12, 2016


STAMFORD—Trinity Catholic High School, under the supervision of Dave Chiappetta, conducted a “Distractology” program for all TCHS students who have a learners permit and/or have been driving for under three years.

Hosted by Bearingstar Insurance Agency, this special training for teens aims to end the distracted driving epidemic. The program, funded by the Arbella Insurance Foundation, creates better, safer drivers with a mobile simulator trailer, which engaged drivers in hands-on, real-world, distracted driving scenarios like spilling a drink in your lap, fiddling with the radio, and texting while driving—all which cause real-world accidents.

May is a significant month for this type of program since high school students have a whirl of proms, graduations and parties coming up. The simulator was on the TCHS campus May 2 through May 6.

St. Vincent's College Presents Distinguished Alumni Award to Shelton Resident Ann Ballas
| May 12, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—St. Vincent’s College is pleased to announce this year’s Distinguished Alumni of the Year, Ann Ballas, RN, CRN, Class of 1981. A resident of Shelton, Conn., Ann was presented the award during the Annual Alumni Day Cocktail Reception.

President Gargano congratulates Ann Ballas, RN, CRN

A quote from her nomination sums up why she is this year’s Distinguished Alumni of the Year, “Ann is one of the most humanitarian people I have ever met; St. Vincent himself would agree that Ann truly embodies his mission.”

This award is presented to an alumnus who acts as role model for excellence in the field of healthcare and demonstrates the underlying attributes of St. Vincent de Paul. These attributes emphasize compassion, a generous spirit, fidelity, respect, gentleness in attitude, and advocacy for the poor.

Ann began her career at St. Vincent’s Medical Center as a nurse’s aide with the float staff while attending St. Vincent’s School of Nursing. After earning her RN degree, Ballas joined St. Vincent’s Radiology Department, where today she leads a team of nurses and acts as a liaison between the department and the nursing units. Her dedication to this role is evidenced by the national certification she has achieved in this specialty. Ann is described as the “heart and soul” of the interventional radiology department. She is the “go to person” for anything that relates to radiology for the hospital.

In 2010 Ann received the St. Vincent’s Medical Center Employee of the Year award. She has been an employee at the Medical Center for over 30 years and is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN).

“Ann is a shining example of the foundation a St. Vincent’s College education provides and we are so proud to call her one of our own,” stated Dr. Michael Gargano, Jr., president, St. Vincent’s College.

Pentecost Vigil set for Saturday Night at the Cathedral
| May 12, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Hundreds of faithful are expected to fill St. Augustine Cathedral this Saturday, 7:30 pm (May 14) for the Vigil of Pentecost Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano. All are welcome to attend.

The evening will begin with Evening Vespers at Sunset followed by a procession into the Cathedral for Mass, which will be concelebrated by Fr. Peter Towsley, Episcopal Delegate to Ecclesial Movements.
Seven bonfires will be lit during the Vespers Service and prayers will be said in seven languages reflecting the diversity of Bridgeport area parishioners.
Fr. Frank Gomez, Pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Bridgeport, will serve as Episcopal Master of Ceremonies.
Thomas J. Marino, Organist for St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan, is serving as Music Director of the Liturgy. Marjorie Donalds of St. Mary Church in Greenwich will serve as Cantor.
The Knights & Dames of Malta and the Knights of Columbus will present the gifts.

How a visit to New Covenant Center changed a sixth grader’s mindset
| May 12, 2016 • by By ELLEN McGINNESS


GREENWICH—After walking several blocks down Greenwich Avenue on a rainy spring night, I see bright light glowing from Le Pain Quotidien.

The cafe is packed with middle school students, their friends, and parents. I’ve come to find Simon H, a sixth grader at the Whitby School in Greenwich. I don’t know what he looks like or where he is in the crowd. But I do know that as part of a social awareness project, Simon visited New Covenant Center (NCC), a Catholic Charities’ soup kitchen and pantry in Stamford.

The project, called “Photo Voice,” is a participatory action research engagement for which the students are required to scope the landscape of their community and take photographs of things they see that stir a concern in them...concern that could ultimately lead to social action that changes the status quo.

While searching for a topic, Simon stumbled upon New Covenant Center’s website. His curiosity piqued, he asked his mother to take him to NCC to check it out. He admitted that originally he was just going through the motions of completing a school project by visiting NCC. But after touring the center, he started to feel differently.

“I got a lot more sympathy for the hungry and the homeless. I thought I could help and I was motivated to do something,” he explained.

In what way did the visit to New Covenant Center change Simon’s mindset? Small things made the biggest impact. “It made me think about what I valued in life, and what I have that I sometimes take for granted. Like the shower I take in the morning, I enjoy it a lot, and I started to think what it would be like to not have a shower every day.”

But can a 12 year-old really make a difference when it comes to social concerns? Simon depends.

“If you’re a 12 year-old who thinks you want to change something but doesn’t go for it—you don’t email or call, etc.—then you don’t make a difference. But if you have the mindset that you are going to do something, and you are going to pursue it, then you can get something done. Even writing and passing out petitions can help. I thought I could help the hungry and the homeless, and I was empowered to make a change.”
(To learn more about New Covenant Center go to:; for the Whitby School visit

State budget cuts threaten transportation funding for Catholic school students
| May 10, 2016


HARTFORD—The General Assembly submitted a budget adjustment bill this morning that cuts all funding for transportation of Catholic schools students across the state.

(photo from

“It is my belief that our voice must be heard because to remain silent will be taken as an indication of our lack of concern or awareness regarding this issue that is so important for our students and schools,” said Michael C. Culhane, Executive Director of the Connecticut Catholic Conference.

Culhane is urging Catholics to contact Governor Malloy and members of the state legislature to ask them to restore the cuts.

“The State budget now under consideration eliminates State funds for the school busing that by law must be provided by local districts for both public and private school students, including our Catholic school students,” Culhane said.

Transportation assistance is vital for all our schools, and crucial to those that are struggling in the face of demographic and economic challenges, he said.

Working parents are often not in a position to provide or afford school transportation on their own. If the state budget eliminates funding for school transportation, there is a danger that local lawmakers may seek to change the state law that requires them to provide transportation for private school students.

“It should be kept in mind that as taxpayers the parents of Catholic school students have a right to expect some services for their children as other taxpayers do. As dedicated taxpayers, our parents depend on safe transportation services for their children,” he said.

On a related note, the State Senate unanimously passed a measure to extend a tax credit to include nonpublic school scholarships for lower income families. This inclusion would have had absolutely no fiscal impact on the State budget. The House, however, did not consider it for a vote.

While budget cuts are necessary, our elected leaders must defend mandatory transportation statutes and should increase revenue neutral educational opportunities.

If for no other reason, it is estimated that last year, Catholic school parents saved Connecticut taxpayers over $420 million. That is how much it would cost the state to educate the 24,000 children currently in Catholic schools.

For more information, contact the Connecticut Catholic Conference:

Catholic Charities 100th Anniversary Mass
| May 08, 2016


Charities brings a “Christ Perspective” to its work with the poor
NORWALK—“If we really believe in feeding the hungry and serving the least among us, why does Catholic Charities have to serve one million a year and provide 15,000 counseling sessions” Fr. Reggie Norman asked in his homily at the Mass celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Almost 400 friends of Catholic Charities turned out at St. Matthew Church for the Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano. He was joined on the altar by Msgr. William Scheyd, Msgr. Walter Orlowski, Fr. Robert Kinnally, Father Sunil Pereira, I.M.S. and Msgr. Peter Cullen.

Fr. Norman, who is pastor of Our lady of Fatima Parish in Wilton and Vice Chair of the Priest Advisory Council of the Annual Catholic Appeal, said that society shouldn’t blame people for their poverty or simply try to put a band-aid on the wounds of human suffering.

“We need a Christ perspective,” said Fr. Norman in his reflection of the Gospel of Matthew. “We worship a God who is entangled in the suffering of humanity, and he invites us to join our love to his love.”

Noting that over one billion people live on less than $2 a day and have inadequate access to fresh water, Fr. Norman said that “Christ is mysteriously present in those who need help,” and people need to move beyond their comfort zones.

“The reason whey the world is in chaos is that things are being loved, and people are being used,” said Fr. Norman. “In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that we will be judged by how we treat the least among us.”

“Sometimes we call people who live in a different zip code—if they have one at all—marginalized. But we should stop calling them that. They are our brothers an sisters,” he said.

Fr. Norman quoted Horace Mann, “Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves,” and the spiritual author, Matthew Kelly, “You can’t become more like Jesus Christ if at the same time, you stay as you are.”

At the end of Mass Bishop Caggiano praised Al Barber, President of Catholic Charities, for “putting the mission of Catholic Charities at the center of his life,” and for his compassion in dealing with the poor.

Referring to the 100-year history of Catholic Charities, Bishop Caggiano said the agency “stands on the shoulders of giants, whose names have receded” while the mission continues in the present. Urging people to remain committed to the mission, he said, “Others to come in the future will stand on our shoulders.”

“In a society that wants to turn its back on those who live in the shadows, Catholic Charities speaks for those who have no voice. Where else would they get help if not from us doing what we do in the name of Jesus Christ.”?

Thirty members of the Diocesan Youth Choir sang throughout the liturgy including a beautiful version of “Ave Maria” as a meditation hymn following Communion.

Deacon Patrick Toole of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull served as Master of Ceremonies for the Mass. Catholic Charities board members Bill Tommins and Jon Vaccarella did the readings, and Anne McCrory, Chief Legal Officer of the diocese read the Prayer of the Faithful. The Knights of Columbus formed an Honor Guard, and members of The Order of Malta led the procession.

A reception following Mass was held in the Great Room of the parish had the feeling of a large family reunion with Catholic Charities board members, staff, volunteers and donors coming together to celebrate the 100th Anniversary.

For more info on Catholic Charities of Fairfield County, visit
Also see: More information on the CCFC 100th Anniversary Celebration and 2016 Calendar of Events

Watch video from the MassRead the transcript of Father Reggie's homily

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

Inaugural Dinner raises over $300,000 for Foundations in Education
| May 07, 2016


DARIEN—More than 250 people turned out on Friday night at Wee Burn Country Club for the inaugural Foundations in Education Dinner, which raised over $300,000 to support Catholic education in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

“This is an historic event in the life of the Diocese,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano. “You are now partners in a venture that will enable our schools to remain on the cutting edge of innovation in the 2lst century.”

The Bishop said the goal of the new Foundations “is not simply to raise funds to face financial challenges but for innovation transformation and growth of our schools for years ahead.”

“The new philanthropic Foundations in Education will make resources available to train, form, and support our teachers, principals and administrators, so that they have the knowledge they need to bring our schools into the future,” said the Bishop.

It was a night of powerful personal testimony about the ability of Catholic schools to change lives and create opportunity for students.

George Irish, retired President of Hearst Newspapers and Vice President and Easter Director of the Hearst Foundations, discussed his own Catholic boyhood in the 1950’s and said that families today “are under pressure” and many cannot afford the cost of Catholic education without financial assistance.

Irish said the real narrative of Catholic education is not that schools are closing but that there continues to be a strong demand and enthusiasm for the schools on the part of Catholics and even those who are members of another faith.

“The miracle of Catholic education is that it makes a difference in lives of students across the globe.”

Irish said that in his work on the Inner City Foundation for New York Catholic Schools, he has seen that many non-Catholics are coming forward to contribute because they believe in the “remarkable value” Catholic schools bring to society.

Roderick Ricketts, a Physical Education teacher at Kolbe Cathedral High School in Bridgeport, delivered the most powerful testimony of the evening when he said that Catholic education saved him from the life of the streets.

His talk was interrupted several times by applause from the audience when he discussed being overcome by the loss of his brother to street violence in Bridgeport, and his struggles to remain in school.

Ricketts, who is married and the father of six children, said he was the first in his family to earn a college degree, and he credited his mother’s personal sacrifice and the generosity of donors for helping to make that possible.

He also praised the family atmosphere he found at Kolbe High School for helping him to move on in life and become a teacher.

“Now I strive to be a role model,” he said. “I’m very thankful. I don’t know where I’d be without Catholic education. It really changed my life.”

CNBC senior correspondent Larry Kudlow, who served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening, said that Catholic education gives students a “language of the head, language of the heart and language of hands” that shapes them “in the image of Christ, who is the center and focus of Catholic schools.

In his concluding remarks the Bishop said that the new Foundations in Education will help make his dreams for Catholic education in the diocese become a reality.

“Every school will be fully enrolled. It will have the funds it needs for innovation, and not a single children who desires a Catholic education will be denied because he or she does not have the means to make that happen,” he said.

Members of the Foundations in Education Board include: The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, Fifth Bishop of Bridgeport; Robert L. Dilenschneider, founder and chairman of The Dilenschneider Group, a global public relations and communications consulting firm headquartered in New York City; R. Bradford Evans is a Senior Advisor of Morgan Stanley; John C. Eppolito retired IBM executive who served as IBM’s Director of Finance for the Small and Medium Business unit for Latin America; Larry Kudlow, CEO of Kudlow & Co., LLC, an economic research firm, and noted CNBC’s Senior Contributor; Ned C. Lautenbach, Chair of the Independent Trustees of the Equity and High Income Funds of Fidelity Investments, and currently the Lead Director of the Board of Directors of Eaton Corporation.

Daniel J. McCarthy, President and Chief Executive Officer of Frontier Communications; Thomas E. McInerney, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Bluff Point Associates, a private equity firm based in Westport, Connecticut; Dr. Julia M. McNamara, President of Albertus Magnus College and Vice Chair of the Yale New Haven Health Services Corporation; Bernard E. Reidy, Managing Director and National Philanthropic Sales Executive for U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management; Gerard D. Robilotti, President of Robilotti Consulting, which specializes in health care management, finance, operations, medical education and government; Joseph D. Roxe, chairman of Bay Holdings LLC and The Roxe Foundation. He was previously a Senior Vice President, Director, and Chief Financial Officer of Johnson & Higgins, the world’s largest private insurance broker at the time.

There are twenty-four schools serving students in grades PK-8 and five high school, serving more than 9,000 students in Fairfield County. For more information on Foundations in Education, contact Siobhan Lidington at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call: 203.416.1405.

Click to read speech by George Irish of Hearst Foundations

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

Remembrance is “a Sacred Duty,” Bishop says at Holocaust Commemoration
| May 06, 2016


FAIRFIELD—The mood was somber, the words heartfelt and healing, and the music and candle lighting ceremony were transcendent at the 33rd Holocaust Commemoration Ceremony held last night in Fairfield.

More than 300 people filled First Congregational Church for the annual interfaith commemoration that included holocaust survivors and their families.

“This is one of the most somber and important nights in the life of the community,” said Rev. David Spollett of the First Congregational Church, “We come hear to bear witness, to give testimony, and to commit to ourselves that we will never forget.”

In his invocation for the evening Rabbi Marcelo Kormis of Congregation Beth El, said that some lives and times are blessed while in other times such as the Holocaust, “People must walk through the valley of the shadows of death.”

“Help us to recall their lives and their destruction, and to bring us to the sacred place of memory,” the Rabbi said.

The Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport, the first non-Holocaust survivor to give the main address, told the gathering that it isn’t enough to simply remember the Holocaust as an historical event.

“The act of remembering is a sacred duty,” he said. “We are a society in grave danger if we forget the evil of the past.”

The bishop began his talk by recalling the stunned silence that filled a theater in Brooklyn long after the credits rolled on the movie, Schindler’s List. The Bishop told the gathering that his elderly mother had asked him to take her and that he was deeply moved by her reaction.

He said that they were the last to leave the theater and that when his mother broke the silence between them, she said in Italian, “We must never forget.”

The bishop said that the movie’s depiction “of a small sliver of the larger horror o the Holocaust forever changed her life and my life.”

The bishop quotes Saint Pope John Paul II on his March 23 2000 visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.

“Pope John Paul II said ‘In this place of memory, our mind, hearts and soul feels and extreme need for silence.’ No words are strong enough to recall those who were stripped of human dignity and murdered in the Holocaust.”

The bishop said that on a commemorative evening it is important “to clear the noise that fills our ordinary lives” and to reject all forms of anti-Semitism, bigotry and hatred.

He said the “survivors in our midst here tonight give us courage in our own troubled times,, and inspire us to form a collective conscience that says to the world ‘Never, ever again!’”

The bishop said the best way to honor Holocaust victims and the survivors “is stand free of darkness and stand together in the light that calls each of us to the greater good that we are meant to be in our lives. “

Music for the commemoration was provided by The Fairfield Warde High School Chamber Orchestra and the Chamber Singers of the Fairfield County Children’s Choir.

The powerful candle lighting ceremony included the reading of the names of the death camps and the names of local survivors.

At the end of the ceremony the Holocaust survivors processed out down the center aisle of the Church. Some relied on walkers and canes. They were accompanied by second-generation family members.

Youth Ministry Formation Day This Weekend
| May 05, 2016


DARIEN—Priests, Directors of Religions Education (DRE’s), youth ministers, catechists, core team members, and youth ministry volunteers will gather for the inaugural Bridgeport Youth Ministry Formation Day on Saturday, May 7 at Saint John Parish, 1986 Post Road in Darien from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Bob Rice, Professor of Catechetics and Youth Ministry at Franciscan University of Steubenville, will give the keynote address. He is an internationally known speaker, acclaimed musician, inspirational teacher, and innovative writer.

“Bob lives in Steubenville, Ohio with his wife Jennifer and seven beautiful children. He desires to share the love of God using every talent he has been blessed with,” said Evan Psencik, Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Formation.

The day will include three rounds of workshops covering the following topics:

  • An Organic Comprehensive Ministry to Youth
  • Dynamic and Effective Catechesis
  • Incarnational Ministry
  • Teaching Young People How to Pray
  • The Art of Accompaniment and Youth Ministry
  • Strategies in Youth Ministry
  • Helping Youth Transition to Young Adulthood

The cost is $25.00 per person and includes lunch and numerous ministry resources. Register online at

For more information please contact Evan Psencik - Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Formation at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) .

Mueller Family Schola to sing at World Youth Day
| May 04, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Among the hundreds of thousands of Catholics worldwide who will converge on the city of Krakow in Poland for World Youth Day 2016, one Connecticut family will be playing a unique role.

Chris and Constanza Mueller (pronounced “Miller”) are known to many Catholics in the Diocese of Bridgeport through Chris’s years of work as Organist and Choirmaster at the Basilica of St. John in Stamford. They have become known to many more through their singing, together with their children Christina, 12; Michael Gabriel, 10; and Raphael, 7, at liturgies throughout the diocese, including this past Christmas at the Cathedral of St. Augustine in Bridgeport.

This ensemble, officially billed as the Mueller Family Schola, has earned another name; as Constanza tells it, “A friend called us ‘the polyphony family’ and we went with it! We feel blessed to be united in harmony—it is a true joy! We practice every day, and we hope our music will inspire others. Singing together helps to bond as a family, and the sense of closeness we experience is a real blast!”

Which might lead to the question: What is polyphony? As Chris describes it, “Polyphony is music which grew organically out of chant, as people started singing chant lines simultaneously at different pitch levels, and then began ornamenting the melodic pitch and/or varying the underlying rhythms. Once composers began writing such music down, polyphony blossomed."

Then as now, the joy which stems from this is contagious. “Our rehearsals feature joyful singing and thrilling harmonies—which focus our concentration—and sometimes, unexpectedly, burst into play!", Constanza says.
But now, the polyphony family is closing in on a new horizon—in Poland.

Chris explains: “I have been asked to conduct the music at all the English-language weekday Masses at World Youth Day. There will be five of these daily Masses, and polyphony and chant will be sung at every one. Imagine setting a sort-of liturgical template, at a Mass attended by thousands of young adults from around the English-speaking world!”

Diocesan WYD coordinator John Grosso was pleased to hear of Chris Mueller’s role in Krakow. “I’ve lived in Stamford for many years, and while the Basilica isn’t my parish, I remember hearing and enjoying Chris’s music while he was still there. I’m sure many of our pilgrims will attend at least some of those English-language site weekday Masses.”

Yet this does not even begin to describe the scope of the family’s hopes for Poland. The Muellers are planning to offer a concert of their own sung polyphony, offering beauty and inspiration to young Catholics of all language groups attending the event—young Catholics, it should be added, who for the most part are by no means so young as the three Mueller children. As Constanza says, “We are working a lot with youth—they pray, talk together, and inspire each other to grow the desire for polyphony and chant in the Mass.”

Chris adds, “We have begun a ‘Mustard Seeds’ initiative through social media, reaching out to young people of high school and college age worldwide, to stir up a desire in them for polyphony and chant at their own parish Masses. We know that some of our participants will be attending World Youth Day, and we’ll have an in-person Mustard Seeds gathering there in Krakow—our first international event!”

Furthermore, the family hopes through the events of World Youth Day to promote the work of the Christopher Mueller Foundation for Polyphony and Chant, a “new organization, whose primary purpose is to assist any person, group, or institution that desires polyphony and chant in the Roman Catholic Mass,” as Chris explains. The use of his own name, Chris adds, not only offers truth in advertising to would-be collaborators, but puts a living name and face on a genre frequently, and mistakenly, consigned to a distant past.

“Our foundation was born,” Constanza adds, “out of the witness of countless lay people who told us that through the beauty of polyphony and chant at Mass, they felt lifted to love God, to experience His Infinity. So many wish that they had that kind of beauty in their own local parish.”

The family is still engaged in raising the funds necessary for Constanza and the children to accompany Chris to Krakow; those wishing to support their efforts may contribute through the following link:

Videos of the “polyphony family” (Mueller Family Schola) may be found on their YouTube channel:

More about Chris Mueller’s music can be found on his personal website:

Pope: Straying from Jesus turns Christians into ‘spiritual mummies’
| May 03, 2016


VATICAN CITY—Christians distracted from the path set out by Jesus can turn into decrepit “spiritual mummies,” Pope Francis said at his morning Mass.

A girl hugs Pope Francis as he visits a Catholic Charities’ meals program
in Washington last September. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Spiritual mummies stray from the path of Christian life by choosing to stand still “not doing evil, but not doing good” either, the pope said May 3 in his homily during Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

“A Christian who doesn’t walk, who doesn’t move on the path, is a ‘non-Christian’ Christian. No one knows what he is. He is a bit of a ‘paganized’ Christian; he’s there, he’s still, but he doesn’t go forward in Christian life. The Beatitudes do not flourish in his life; he does not do the works of mercy; he is still,” the pope said.

The day’s Gospel reading was Jesus’ discourse during the Last Supper in which he tells his disciples that he is “the way, the truth and the life.”

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father,” Jesus said.

The pope said there are two types of Christians who fail in following the true path: those who are stubborn and those who wander like vagabonds.

Stubborn Christians tend to believe they know the path and “do not allow the voice of the Lord to tell them: ‘Go back and take the right path,'” he said. On the other hand, vagabond Christians walk around aimlessly in circles and are easily distracted by worldly vanities.

“There are others who on the path are seduced by something beautiful and they stop midway; fascinated by what they see—by this idea, by that proposal, by that landscape—and they stop! Christian life is not something charming: it is a truth! It is Jesus Christ!” he said.

Pope Francis called on the faithful to reflect on whether they have strayed from the path of Christian life laid out in the Beatitudes and the works of mercy. Although Jesus’ path leads to the cross, it is also ‘”full of consolations” and “peace in the soul.”

“Let us ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to walk well (on this path), always! And when we tire, (to give us) a little refreshment to go forward. Let us ask for this grace,” the pope said.

The peacemaking legacy of Daniel Berrigan, S.J.
| May 02, 2016


BRONX—Daniel Berrigan, the Jesuit priest and acclaimed poet who for decades famously challenged U.S. Catholics to reject war and nuclear weapons, died on April 30 at the Murray-Weigel Jesuit Community in the Bronx, New York. He was 94. He was a Jesuit for 76 years and a priest for 63 years.

Berrigan undoubtedly stands among the most influential American Jesuits of the past century, joining the likes of John Courtney Murray and Avery Dulles. Priest, poet, retreat master, teacher, peace activist, friend and mentor, he is the author of more than 50 books on Scripture, spirituality and resistance to war.

Berrigan received the Campion Award from America in 1988.

A literary giant in his own right, Berrigan was best known for his dramatic acts of civil disobedience against the Vietnam War and nuclear weapons. He burned draft files with homemade napalm and later hammered on nuclear weapons to enact the Isaiah prophecy to “beat swords into plowshares.” His actions challenged Americans and Catholics to reexamine their relationship with the state and reject militarism. He constantly asked himself and others: What does the Gospel demand of us?

“For me, Father Daniel Berrigan is Jesus as a poet,” Kurt Vonnegut wrote. “If this be heresy, make the most of it.”

Daniel J. Berrigan was born on May 9, 1921, in Virginia, Minn., the fifth of six boys, and grew up on a farm near Syracuse, N.Y.

At age 18, Berrigan entered the New York Province of the Society of Jesus with a close childhood friend after receiving a matter-of-fact brochure about the Jesuits’ rigorous training program. At the time, he knew no Jesuits. It was “an act of faith on both sides,” he later wrote. “Not a bad arrangement.”

During his first teaching assignment, at St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, N.J., in the late 1940s, Berrigan brought students across the Hudson to introduce them to the Catholic Worker. They often attended the “clarification of thought” meetings on Friday evenings, when speakers addressed topics of importance to the young Catholic movement. There he met Dorothy Day.

“Dorothy Day taught me more than all the theologians,” Berrigan told The Nation in 2008. “She awakened me to connections I had not thought of or been instructed in—the equation of human misery and poverty with warmaking. She had a basic hope that God created the world with enough for everyone, but there was not enough for everyone and warmaking.”

After being ordained a priest on June 19, 1952, Berrigan went to France for a year of studies and ministry, the final stage of Jesuit formation, and was influenced by the Worker Priest movement. Berrigan professed final vows on the Feast of the Assumption in 1956.

Berrigan taught French and philosophy at Brooklyn Preparatory School from 1954 to 1957, won the prestigious Lamont Poetry Prize in 1957 for his first book of poetry, Time Without Number and then taught New Testament at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y.

In 1963, Berrigan embarked on a year of travel, spending time in France, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rome, South Africa and the Soviet Union. He encountered despair among French Jesuits related to the situation of Indochina, as the United States ramped up military involvement in Vietnam.

Berrigan returned home in 1964 convinced that the war in Vietnam “could only grow worse.” So he began, he later wrote, “as loudly as I could, to say ‘no’ to the war…. There would be simply no turning back.”

He co-founded the Catholic Peace Fellowship and the interfaith group Clergy and Laity Concerned about Vietnam, whose leaders included Martin Luther King Jr., Richard John Neuhaus and Abraham Joshua Heschel.

Berrigan regularly corresponded with Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day and William Stringfellow, among others. He also made annual trips to the Abbey of Gethsemani, Merton’s home, to give talks to the Trappist novices.

In Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (1966), Merton described Berrigan as “an altogether winning and warm intelligence and a man who, I think, has more than anyone I have ever met the true wide-ranging and simple heart of the Jesuit: zeal, compassion, understanding, and uninhibited religious freedom. Just seeing him restores one’s hope in the Church.”

A dramatic year of assassinations and protests that shook the conscience of America, 1968 also proved to be a watershed year for Berrigan. In February, he flew to Hanoi, North Vietnam, with the historian Howard Zinn and assisted in the release of three captured U.S. pilots. On their first night in Hanoi, they awoke to an air-raid siren and U.S. bombs and had to find shelter.

As the United States continued to escalate the war, Berrigan worried that conventional protests had little chance of influencing government policy. His brother, Philip, then a Josephite priest, had already taken a much greater risk: In October 1967, he broke into a draft board office in Baltimore and poured blood on the draft files.
Undeterred at the looming legal consequences, Philip planned another draft board action and invited his younger brother to join him. Daniel agreed.

On May 17, 1968, the Berrigan brothers joined seven other Catholic peace activists in Catonsville, Md., where they took several hundreds of draft files from the local draft board and set them on fire in a nearby parking lot, using homemade napalm. Napalm is a flammable liquid that was used extensively by the United States in Vietnam.

Daniel said in a statement, “Our apologies, good friends, for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children, the angering of the orderlies in the front parlor of the charnel house. We could not, so help us God, do otherwise.”

Berrigan was tried and convicted for the action. When it came time for sentencing, however, he went underground and evaded the Federal Bureau of Investigation for four months.

“I knew I would be apprehended eventually,” he told America in an interview in 2009, “but I wanted to draw attention for as long as possible to the Vietnam War and to Nixon’s ordering military action in Cambodia.”

The F.B.I. finally apprehended him on Block Island, R.I., at the home of theologian William Stringfellow, in August 1970. He spent 18 months in Danbury federal prison, during which he and Philip appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

The brothers, lifelong recidivists, were far from finished.

On September 9, 1980, Daniel and Philip joined seven others in busting into the General Electric missile plant in King of Prussia, Pa., where they hammered on an unarmed nuclear weapon—the first Plowshares action. They faced 10 years in prison for the action but were sentenced to time served.

In his courtroom testimony at the Plowshares trial, Berrigan described his daily confrontation with death as he accompanied the dying at St. Rose Cancer Home in New York City. He said the Plowshares action was connected with this ministry of facing death and struggling against it. In 1984, he began working at St. Vincent’s Hospital, New York City, where he ministered to men and women with H.I.V.-AIDS.

“It’s terrible for me to live in a time where I have nothing to say to human beings except, ‘Stop killing,’” he explained at the Plowshares trial. “There are other beautiful things that I would love to be saying to people.”

In 1997 he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Berrigan’s later years were devoted to Scripture study, writing, giving retreats, correspondence with friends and admirers, mentorship of young Jesuits and peace activists, and being an uncle to two generations of Berrigans. He published several biblical commentaries that blended scholarship with pastoral reflection and poetic wit.

“Berrigan is evidently incapable of writing a prosaic sentence,” biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann wrote in a review of Berrigan’s Genesis (2006). “He imitates his creator with his generative word that calls forth linkages and incongruities and opens spaces that bewilder and dazzle and summon the reader.”

From 1976 to 2012, Berrigan was a member of the West Side Jesuit Community, later the Thompson Street Jesuit Community, in New York City. During those years, he helped lead the Kairos Community, a group of friends and activists dedicated to Scripture study and nonviolent direct action.

Even as an octogenarian, Berrigan continued to protest, turning his attention to the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the prison in Guantánamo Bay and the Occupy Wall Street movement. Friends remember Berrigan as courageous and creative in love, a person of integrity who was willing to pay the price, a beacon of hope and a sensitive and caring friend.

“I owe him my heart, my life and vocation,” Bill Wylie-Kellermann, pastor of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Detroit, writes of Berrigan. “In a century, how many souls on this sweet and beset old planet has Berrigan called to life in the Gospel? How many deeds of resurrection? How many hearts so indebted?”
Luke Hansen, S.J., a former associate editor of America, is a student at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, Berkeley, Calif.

For more: Man of Peace: Recalling the life and legacy of Daniel Berrigan; Daniel Berrigan's ‘Ten Commandments’ by James Martin; Fugitives From Injustice by James T. Keane; Living with Dan Berrigan by George M. Anderson; Growing Up Berrigan by George M. Anderson; Slideshow: Dan Berrigan and the Peace Movement.

Religious Women pitch in at Habitat House
| May 01, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—A group of Religious Women throughout the diocese spent a day working on the Pope Francis Habitat House on Saturday, helping to put the finishing touches as the house nears completion.

The home, at 51 George Street, is in the shadows of St. Augustine Cathedral and the new owners, the Zepeda family, are members of the Cathedral Parish.

The Sisters worked on the yard clean up, cleared away construction debris and stained the back porch over the weekend

“They did a great job,” said Donna Spigarolo, a member of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Fairfield and a longtime Habitat volunteer, is serving as coordinator of the effort.

“We hope to have the family moving in by late June and we’re very grateful for the support of the Sister and all of those who have helped with this project.”

The home is being built in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County. Bishop Frank Caggiano gave his blessing to the project last May and encouraged parishes to participate with volunteer help and contributions.

The diocese adopted the Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County house project in recognition of the visit of Pope Francis to the United States last September and his call to serve the poor and homeless.

She said a second group of Religious Women will be working on May 21st which is the dedication day for the home.

St. Anthony's Parish recently sponsored a "Broadway in the Basement" evening to reach its parish goal in support of the project. Funds and volunteer work have also been provided by schools, parishes and service groups in the area.

Marlon and Magaly Zepeda and their children, along with Magaly’s mother, Milagros, who is a severe asthmatic, will live in the home when it’s completed. In addition to working as volunteers during the project, the couple will purchase the four-bedroom home.

To make a contribution to the project, call Donna Spigarolo at 203.556.4728, or email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Catholic bishop to speak at town’s Holocaust commemoration
| May 01, 2016 • by By Genevieve Reilly from


FAIRFIELD—In contrast to the past 32 Holocaust commemorations organized by the town, this year’s keynote speaker has no direct connection to the Nazi campaign to exterminate Jews during the World War II era.

The speaker is not a survivor, or the child of a survivor. He’s not a historian. He’s not even, like one year’s keynoter, the child of an SS officer.

But Bishop Frank Caggiano, leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, was the overwhelming choice of the event’s planning committee to speak at the gathering.

“I learned that many of our survivors had heard the bishop speak at B’nai Israel” congregation in Bridgeport, said Josh Zabin, a captain in the Police Department and co-chairman, along with the Rev. Charles Allen, of the Holocaust Commemoration Committee. “They were overwhelmed, and they thought he would be a wonderful, dynamic speaker.”

The Holocaust Commemoration will be held at 7:30 p.m. May 5 at First Church Congregational, 148 Beach Road.

Allen himself was at that presentation by the bishop at Congregation B’Nai Israel, which marked the 50th anniversary of Nostra aetate — Latin for “In our time” — the declaration on the relationship of the Catholic church with non-Christian faiths adopted by second Vatican Council in 1965.

“If you know Bishop Caggiano, he’s a wonderful public speaker, and he did a superb job,” Allen said. After the talk, he said, Caggiano and Rabbi James Prosnit held a question-and-answer session with the audience. “They worked together so beautifully,” he said.

Zabin said as the committee was considering who to invite to speak at this year’s program, it was after Ciaggano spoke at the synagogue that he began to hear committee members suggest that the bishop would be an excellent choice.

Even with Jewish and Catholic co-chairmen, Zabin said, having a Catholic bishop as the keynote speaker for a Holocaust commemoration “is very unique.”

“We’ve had all these different types, all these diverse speakers,” Zabin said. “This really is going to be the most diverse. We all look forward to hearing his reflections.”

Allen said the choice of Caggiano fits nicely into what he said he has always considered a town commemoration that strives to include everyone. Not only are he and Zabin of different faiths, he noted, the event itself has traditionally been hosted by First Church Congregational.

The topic of Caggiano’s address will be, “We Must Never Forget.” The event, which is free and open to the public, will include musical selections performed by the Fairfield Warde High School Ensemble and the Fairfield County Children’s Choir. A reception will follow.

For more information, visit or the group’s Facebook page, Fairfield Holocaust Commemoration.

New “Week in Review” Video
| April 29, 2016


Click to watch video.

BRIDGEPORT—Diocesan Social Media Leader John Grosso has introduced a new “Around the Diocese” video to the diocesan Facebook and YouTube pages.

The inaugural video offers a 60-second week in review that begins with a video clip from “Lift Every Voice,” the triumphant second appearance of the Diocesan Youth Choir in their beautiful Spring concert held at St. Luke Church in Westport.

The video also walks through a pilot project of the new Catholic Service Corps, the outreach of St. Mary’s Parish in Bridgeport to families affected by the earthquake in Ecuador, and the appearance of notable Christian Contemporary singer/songwriter John Michael Talbot at St. Jude Parish in Monroe.

Bridgeport parish donating to Ecuador quake victims
| April 28, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—The members of St. Mary's Parish in Bridgeport showed their support today for the victims of the earthquake in Ecuador.

Organizers are gathering donations to help those affected by the devastating quake on April 16.

The pastor says they need baby diapers, baby formula, and bug repellent.

A truck will be coming Thursday to pick up the items and ship them to Ecuador.

Click here to watch a video from News 12 Connecticut.

St. Joseph Elementary School fifth grader wins State Spelling Bee Championship!
| April 28, 2016


SHELTON—St. Joseph Elementary School fifth grader, Demi Adeniran, won the State Spelling Championship contest, held April 23 at St. Mary’s Parish center in New Haven.

The process of getting to the State contest: The CT State Council, Knights of Columbus sponsored the annual CT Catholic Schools Spelling Bee for fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students. St. Joseph School conducted their own contest at each grade level and then submitted the names of the winners and runner-up to the Council at the local level. Demi Adeniran won in his Grade 5 division.
Word lists were then provided to the contestants to study for the next round—the regionals. Demi advanced to the regionals and won again! From there he was eligible to compete in the State Championship Contest, which he won by spelling many challenging words; “humiliate” was the winning word.
Principal Stephen Anderson stated, “Demi is a good speller because he reads extensively. In response to our school-wide ‘100 Book Reading Challenge’ Demi has already completed 120 books.”  
St. Joseph School is proud of Demi’s accomplishment, particularly since there were so many other Catholic schools participating. He received a certificate and also a plaque inscribed with “Grade 5 State Spelling Bee Champion.”
(For more info on St. Joseph School, contact Stephen Anderson, principal: 203.924.4669.)

Honoring their patron saint
| April 28, 2016


STRATFORD—Students in grades K-8 at St. Mark School assembled in the church to honor the feast day of their patron saint.

The students had learned that St. Mark is thought to be a young follower of Jesus, even though he was not one of the original Apostles. He may have been the man who carried water to the house where the Last Supper took place (Mark 14:13) and tradition identifies him with John Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. St. Peter took Mark with him as a travel companion and interpreter, and Mark wrote down the sermons of St. Peter, forming the basis for his Gospel.

St. Mark later became the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt, and is honored as the founder of Christianity in Africa. His feast day is celebrated on April 25. His symbol is the winged lion, the Lion of Saint Mark.

SHU students impact lives in Colombia
| April 28, 2016


FAIRFIELD—During Spring Break, 11 students from Sacred Heart University traveled to Bogota Colombia with Rise and Walk Foundation.

They were joined by director of volunteer services Matthew Kaye and four members of the Board of Rise and Walk Foundation.

The students interacted with the beneficiary families and their children, taking them on field trips and doing home visits. They did a makeover project and changed the life of single mother and her four children. The students painted, and renovated the small restaurant business which is the only source of income for this family.  The children got new beds, desks and the mother got a new stove and all the supplies necessary for her to support her children.

“Spring break suntans fade but this experience will last a lifetime,” said one of the students.

St. Matthew Knights spring into action with garden clean up at Notre Dame Convalescent Home
| April 28, 2016


NORWALK—The continuing relationship between Knights of Colombus St. Matthew Council #14360 and Notre Dame Convalescent Home was on display on Saturday, April 16, when the Knights helped out with some projects on the home’s grounds.

As in past years, grounds keeping included adding fresh mulch to some shrub areas on the outside grounds, power washing, furniture moving and touch up painting.

It is the beginning of an important Capital Improvement plan for the facility on 76 West Rocks Road in Norwalk. The major project from the plan is the renovation of the front entrance way. It will be an automatic sliding door system, which will provide better accessibility and safety for the residents.

“Helping Notre Dame is one of the many things that make it so worth being a Knight of Columbus,” said Grand Knight George Ribellino. “Sister Lucie and Sister Francis are always so appreciative of the work we can provide for them.” On this day Ribellino, Scott Criscuolo, George’s daughter Mia, and fellow Knights Tim Horne, Anthony Cossuto, former Grand Knight Mike Colaluca, Lee Pino and AJ Cossuto helped lay mulch down around the outside grounds, power washed the statues, moved some furniture into storage and did some touch up painting around the inside of the facility. Cossuto, who owns AJ’s Landscaping, donated the mulch and one of his dedicated workers to come on a Saturday and help out.

During a break in the work, the council attended a Mass with residents of the home. The Mass was officiated by Father Paul Sankar. Also in attendance was former pastor of St. Matthew’s, Msgr. Joseph Kohut, who is current resident of the home.

“Thank you for all the Knights’ hard work today on our premises,” said Sister Lucie Monast. “Know that we keep all of your council in our daily prayers.”

(Sister Lucie is tirelessly fundraising for the capital improvements. On May 19, NDCS will have a pasta supper sponsored by K of C Council 14360 at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish on 205 East Ave. The dinner is at 6:30 and cost is $20 for adults, $15 for kids 10 and under. For more info or reservations, contact Sister Lucie: 203.847.2885.)

Melkite Catholic Archbishop Jeanbart to visit St. Mary's in New Haven
| April 28, 2016


NEW HAVEN—Melkite Catholic Archbishop Jean Clément Jeanbart of Aleppo, Syria, will speak on the genocide being waged against his people and the future of Christianity in the Middle East at St. Mary's Church, 5 Hillhouse Avenue, New Haven, on Sunday, May 1, at 6:30 pm

The event will be sponsored by St. Mary's Church and the Knights of Columbus, which is also based in New Haven, Conn. Admission is free and the public is invited to attend.

The largest city in Syria, Aleppo has been shattered by civil war and genocide at the hands of ISIS. In 2013, American aid worker Kayla Mueller was kidnapped by ISIS in Aleppo and killed while in their custody. Aleppo's Syriac Orthodox and Greek Orthodox archbishops were also kidnapped that same year and have not been heard from since.

"We have seen people killed, slaughtered, women violated, priests and bishops kidnapped, houses destroyed, churches and convents invaded," said Archbishop Jeanbart at the Knights' 2015 convention in Philadelphia. "We persist with the help of God."

The Knights of Columbus began its Christian Refugee Relief Fund in 2014 to aid persecuted Christians and other religious minorities, especially those in Iraq and Syria. To date, nearly $10 million has been raised to provide housing, food, medical aid, education and general relief.

A petition drive spearheaded by the Knights drew nearly 150,000 signatures and urged the State Department to declare that a genocide is being carried out against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.

Secretary of State John Kerry announced a declaration of genocide on March 17, one week after release of a nearly 300-page report—prepared by the Knights at the request of the State Department—that chronicled the evidence for a finding of genocide.

The Knights of Columbus was founded in 1882 at St. Mary's Church in New Haven by the Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney. It is today the world's largest Catholic fraternal organization with nearly 1.9 million members worldwide. The Knights donated more than $173.5 million and 71.5 million hours of service in 2014.

Boys and girls allstars!
| April 28, 2016


WILTON—This year was the 9th annual Tyler Ugolyn tournament which ran from January 21st to February 5th at Our Lady of Fatima school in Wilton.

We had 45 teams from 11 schools within the diocese participate (about 500 basketball players). The  basketball tournament was named after Tyler Ugolyn who graduated from Our Lady of Fatima school in 1997 and tragically died during 9/11.

“Not only was he a great basketball player but he was a great person and a devout Catholic,” said Peter Rubsam of Our Lady of Fatima Parish.
Tyler went to Ridgefield High School where he became a member of the National Honor Society. He was a McDonald’s High School All-American Basketball Nominee, ranked as one of the top 250 seniors in the country, before deciding to attend Columbia where he was recruited to play Division 1 basketball. While at Columbia his faith grew stronger becoming a co-founder of the Columbia Catholic Athletes and an Eucharistic Minister.  When his knees gave out playing basketball, he formed a basketball program for Harlem youth at the Columbia gym every Sunday morning.
Founded after his death, the Tyler Ugolyn Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to promoting youth basketball programs and the refurbishment of inner-city basketball courts. Courts have been renovated in Tyler’s memory all across the country, in conjunction with the NCAA Men’s Final Four, in cities such as San Antonio, Detroit, Indianapolis and Houston. This year our tournament donated $1,500 to the Tyler Ugolyn Foundation (which was matched by an anonymous donor for a total of $3,000). Tyler’s favorite saying came from his grandmother: Yesterday was history, Tomorrow is a mystery, Today is a gift from God! More information like the Sports Illustrated articles can be found on his website


Final Night for John Michael Talbot at St. Jude’s
| April 27, 2016


MONROE—Tonight is the final night of three special evenings with Christian music legend John Michael Talbot at St. Jude Church, 770 Monroe Turnpike (Rt. 111).

Click here to watch a short clip of his performance

The performance will begin at, 7 pm. Tickets are not required, but a freewill offering will be accepted for the evening.

Talbot’s stop in Monroe represents the first time he has performed in Connecticut in over eight years. The singer/songwriter was invited to the parish by Msgr. Dariusz Zielonka, pastor. He will also perform at St. Dominic’s in Southington this weekend as part of an eight-month tour of the country.
John Michael Talbot is a multi-platinum recording artist who is often credited with introducing and defining a generation of contemporary Catholic music with 55 albums and performances in Churches and concert halls across the U.S.  
His compositions such as “Holy Is His Name,” “Come Worship the Lord,” and “St. Theresa’s Prayer,” are also widely played at Masses and have become part of the contemporary Catholic songbook.
“I’m working to bring authentic Catholic revival to the parishes. The dry bones are lying there but they need new life breathed into them,” said Talbot who described his work as creating and performing “sacred music used for meditation and prayer.”  
In a phone interview with Fairfield County Catholic, Talbot said he has been invited to sing all over the world but focuses on the U.S. because  he believes “it is the new mission field” with so many Catholics turning away from the Church.
However, he believes that Pope Francis has opened the doors to a new spirit of welcome in the Churchand that music is a key to reviving worship in parishes.
“The Pope has given us the answers. He has told us what to do, and that is to invite every Christian to a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Every Mass is an altar-call, an opportunity to stand up and give our lives to Christ. We have what we need in the Eucharist.”

Talbot says that the Catholic Church has been slow to recognize the power of contemporary Christian music, but believes the music will enhance spirituality and reverence, "If we use these things  in a way that's authentically  Catholic and adapted to reach the culture in which the local church finds herself. Our culture is conteompary and we have reach people in this way."
Talbot, whose sound has been compared to the Eagles formed the Mason Proffit music group in 1969 before turning to sacred music. He is a native of Oklahoma City and a convert to Catholicism  and became a member of the Secular Franciscan order in 1978. He later founded “The Brothers and Sisters of Charity", a Catholic-based community of celibate brothers, celibate sisters, singles who can marry, and families based in Arkansas.

For more information on John Michael Talbot, visit the web:

St. Aloysius Students Attend Junior National Young Leaders Conferences
| April 26, 2016


NEW CANAAN—Sixth graders Emmett Cheever and Teddy Klein from St. Aloysius School, participated in the Junior National Young Leaders Conferences, “Learning to Lead” program in Washington, D.C. this past summer.

(l - r) Kali Dimitrov, Emmett Cheever, and Teddly Klein.​

This week long program was the result of the student's qualifying scores for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) Award, an accomplishment traditionally met by one-third of eligible St. Aloysius School students.

This program, which focused on influential figures from American history as well as social advocacy, was full of on-site experiences, hands-on exercises, and workshops, which brought the concepts and skills of effective leaders to life.  Students worked together to develop action plans that they could put into practice in their homes and communities.  

In addition, the students explored the nation’s most important monuments and memorials such as the Lincoln and Washington Memorials, and the WWII and Vietnam Memorials.  Feeling as if they were in a living museum, the boys felt a deep sense of patriotism after learning about the number of people who fought and died protecting our country.  When asked, Teddy stated that he hopes one day “to make a difference and be able to have this kind of impact on his country.” Emmett agreed and added that he “could envision joining the military to protect this country”.  

Also qualifying for the CTY programs, sixth grader Kali Dimitrov attended the “Robotics and Leadership” conference, where he met a former NASA astronaut and senior scientist for the International Space Station. Taking imagination to implementation stage, he studied elements of robotics design and construction, and explored coding and programming using Lego Mindstorms.  Observing the interrelationships among math, science, and technology, Kali stated that, “I used my understanding of circles and degrees to measure the distance traveled by my robot.”  Kali noted that perseverance is important with design and successful implementation.  He looks forward to his future challenge, which will be building a “dishbot” to carry dishes to his home kitchen table.  All CTY attendees plan to apply their learned skills as leaders at home, at school, and in their community, and all felt that this experience will help them to face future challenges and ensure their success in middle school, high school, and beyond.

Within the classrooms of its traditional Catholic values-based education, St. Aloysius School students are challenged to think with flexibility while remaining critical.  Our students learn that leadership comes with testing oneself with increasingly harder challenges and complex thinking.  St. Aloysius School is a Kindergarten through Grade 8 Catholic School located in the center of New Canaan. It was named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in 2010, and is proudly entering its sixtieth year of academic excellence in a faith-filled community. For more information about St. Aloysius, please call 203.966.0786.

Parish Garden named to honor Msgr. Richard Shea
| April 26, 2016


TRUMBULL—St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Nichols dedicated a new parish garden last weekend to honor its former pastor, Msgr. Richard J. Shea, and to celebrate his 80th birthday.

MARIAN PRAYER GARDEN—(l-r) Albert Cerino and Sam Braunstein,
K of C Honor Guard; Jeff Wright, Parish Trustee; Deacon Patrick Toole;
Msgr. Richard Shea; Father Joseph Marcello; Charlie Martin, former Trustee;
Mary Ellen Kovacs, Director of Pastoral Care and longest-serving
Parish Staff member; Amy Todisco, Parish Trustee; Robert Cavallero,
Director of Parish Operations; Theodore Pacanowski, KofC Honor Guard
and District Deputy.

On Sunday, April 24, Msgr. Shea, who led the parish for 23 years, returned to St. Catherine of Siena Parish to celebrate the 10:30 am Mass, the day before he turned 80.

After Mass, parishioners moved outside on a festive and beautiful morning for the re-dedication of the Marian Prayer Garden in Msgr. Shea’s honor.  
“It was a picture-perfect day outside,” said Father Joseph Marcello, new pastor of St. Catherine’s, “It reflected the joy of our parish to welcome back Msgr. Shea, to wish him the best of God’s blessings on his 80th birthday, and to thank him for over two decades of generous and dedicated priestly ministry here at St. Catherine’s.  We pray that our Blessed Mother, whose prayer garden at our parish is now named for Msgr. Shea, will continue to watch over him always.”

A celebratory gathering was held in the church hall afterwards, during which hundreds of parishioners sang “Happy Birthday” to Msgr. Shea.

In July, 1991, Monsignor Richard J. Shea was installed as the fourth Pastor of Saint Catherine of Siena Parish by Bishop Edward M. Egan.

Msgr. Shea came to St. Catherine’s after having served as  Principal of the nearby St. Joseph High School since 1976.  

Under his 23-year pastorate, St. Catherine of Siena saw enormous expansion and improvement including construction of the McClinch Family Center, which has been a tremendous resource to the parish and the diocese, said Fr. Marcello.  

Msgr. Richard Shea was born in Elmhurst, Queens, N.Y., on April 25, 1936. After graduating from Bishop Loughlin High School in Brooklyn, he entered St. John’s University, also located in Brooklyn at that time. He completed his theological studies at the Seminary of Our Lady of Angels, Niagara University, N.Y., and was ordained by Bishop (later Cardinal) Lawrence J. Shehan in St. Augustine Cathedral on May 20, 1961.

In May, 2011, Msgr. Shea celebrated the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination with a Mass of Thanksgiving at Saint Catherine’s. He retired in January 2015, and Fr. Joseph Marcello, former priest secretary to Bishop William E. Lori, was named pastor.
Saint Catherine of Siena Parish, 220 Shelton Road, Trumbull, CT 06611-5161. Phone: 203.377.3133, ext. 10: email: On the web:   

Bishops thanks anniversary couples for being “Christ’s love in our midst”
| April 25, 2016


TRUMBULL—“Every moment of your married lives, you remind us all that Christ is present, alive and faithful to his sheep,” said Bishop Frank Caggiano to more than 200 couples who attended the recent Wedding Jubilee Mass at St. Theresa Church in Trumbull.

“I thank you for your witness, your togetherness, for being good parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, and for being images of Christ’s love in our midst. I wish you every grace and blessing for many more year of married life.”
The bishop blessed the marriages of couples celebrating anniversaries ranging from 25 to 75 years. A reception was held after Mass and photos were taken with the Bishop.

Among those recognized during the Wedding Jubilee Mass were Stanley and Gladys Gwiazdzinski (75 years) of St. Paul Parish in Greenwich; William and Bertha Fredette (70 years) of Holy Family Parish in Fairfield; Lawrence and Ruth Schmidt (70 years) of Saint Bridget of Ireland Parish in Stamford; and Joseph and Florence Romano (66 years) of St. Matthew Parish in Norwalk.

The bishop told the couples that over the years they have “come to learn to listen to one another, not just with the ear but with the heart and mind as well,” and that they have learned to be selfless in their love.
“You have come to surrender and give everything to each other. In doing so, faithfully and grace filled, but you give all of us a great gift. You give us hope and help us to remember that where two are three are gathered in my name, there am I.”
In his reflection on the 10th chapter of John, “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me,” the bishop told the couples that when he visited his grandfather’s farm as a young man in Italy, he was amazed to see all the sheep in the neighborhood gather together, but still respond to their owners.
“When my grandfather whistled and called, his two sheep came to him. All the others stayed behind. His sheep recognized the voice of the shepherd as their protector.”
He said the one essential quality of sheep is their ability to follow the shepherd.
“The message of you and I is simple. You and I are disciples of the Lord, and he tells us that if we wish to be with him one day in glory, he will give us the path to him, but we need to recognize his voice, trust his voice and surrender to what it says to us, because he is our protector, provider and guardian who loves us more than we love ourselves.”
The Mass was sponsored and coordinated by the Faith Formation Office of the Diocese of Bridgeport. For information contact: Kim Quatela, Coordinator of Family Formation: 203.416.1334 or email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Here I am Lord!
| April 24, 2016


View photos from the concert

WESTPORT—Listen to the Diocesan Youth Choir sing “Here I am Lord.”

The choir, under the direction of Mary Bozzuti Higgins, gathered for its Spring Concert of spirituals and inspirational hymns this afternoon, at St Luke Church in Westport. Written by Dan Schutte in 1981, “Here I am Lord” has become one of the most beloved and frequently played song in Catholic churches.

I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard My people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin,
My hand will save.
I who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear My light to them?
Whom shall I send?

The choir’s rendition was breathtaking at today’s free concert. Created by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in the spirit of Synod 2014, the Diocesan Youth Choir (C4Y) gave its premier performance last Christmas to a packed house at Norwalk Concert Hall. To find out more about the choir, how young people can join it and how adults can support it, visit

Bridgeport Youth Ministry Formation Day—Saturday, May 7, 2016
| April 22, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—All priests, DRE’s, youth ministers, catechists, core team members, and youth ministry volunteers are invited to the inaugural Bridgeport Youth Ministry Formation Day on Saturday, May 7, at Saint John Parish located at 1986 Post Road in Darien from 10 am to 4 pm.

The day will begin with a keynote address by Bob Rice, professor of Catechetics and Youth Ministry at Franciscan University of Steubenville.  

“He is an internationally known speaker, acclaimed musician, inspirational teacher, and innovative writer,” said Evan Psencik, Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Formation in the diocese.  “Bob lives in Steubenville, Ohio with his wife Jennifer and seven beautiful children. He desires to share the love of God using every talent he has been blessed with.”

There will be three rounds of workshops covering the following topics:

•    An Organic Comprehensive Ministry to Youth
•    Dynamic and Effective Catechesis
•    Incarnational Ministry
•    Teaching Young People How to Pray
•    The Art of Accompaniment and Youth Ministry
•    Strategies in Youth Ministry
•    Helping Youth Transition to Young Adulthood

The cost is $25.00 per person and includes lunch and numerous ministry resources. Register online at  .;

For more information please contact Evan Psencik—Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Formation at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

St. Joseph Elementary School Shelton announces new $70,000 ‘Bob Scinto Scholarship’ program—apply by May 1st!
| April 21, 2016


SHELTON—Due to a generous grant from Mr. Bob Scinto, well-known real estate developer and business leader in Shelton, thirty-five Bob Scinto Scholarships, each worth $2,000 are being given to new students registering in St. Joseph Elementary School in Shelton for the 2016-17 school year.

Bishop Frank Caggiano of the Diocese of Bridgeport made the announcement of the Bob Scinto Scholarship program, worth $70,000 at an open meeting attended by 100 members of the local community on April 5th.

Announcing Mr. Scinto’s generous grant, Bishop Caggiano observed that “St. Joseph’s School is serving the source of students that traditionally Catholic education was created for: a multicultural, racially and ethnically diverse student body, spanning all socio-economic backgrounds.”

Bishop Caggiano voiced his strong support for the renaissance taking place at St. Joseph School under the leadership for the past two years of Principal Steve Anderson, former principal of Central High School in Bridgeport and Connecticut’s 2007 Principal of the Year.

Monsignor Chris Walsh, Pastor of St. Joseph Parish, which has sponsored St. Joseph School for 89 years, says “I am delighted that due to the Bob Scinto Scholarship, the $2 million Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, and the local Guardian Angels Fund (available for new and current students), attending St. Joseph’s school next year will be more affordable than ever which is great news for the valley.

Scholarships are exclusively for students attending St. Joseph’s School. This particular scholarship program also includes new students in grades K-8 whose older siblings already attend the school. The Bob Scinto Scholarship is given out on a first come first served basis so apply today!

To reserve your place for the upcoming school year and apply for scholarships, please contact Angela Mantero by May 1, 2016 at 203.331.6834 or join us at our Open House on April 21st, 5 pm–8 pm (St. Joseph School, 430 Coram Ave, Shelton). Contact information: Angela Mantero, Director of Enrollment and Marketing at 203.331.6834 or Msgr. Christopher Walsh, Pastor at 203.893.7152.

Father Robert J. Usenza, 81
| April 20, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Reverend Robert J. Usenza died on Sunday, April 17, 2016.

Father Usenza’s body will be received on Thursday, April 21 at 6 pm at Saint Mary Church, 5 Hillhouse Avenue, New Haven, CT 06505, and will lie in state until 8 pm.

There will be no Vigil Mass. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held there on Friday, April 22, 2016 at 9:30 am. Monsignor Thomas Powers will be the main celebrant. Burial with military honors will be at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, 1056 Daniels Farms Road, Trumbull, CT 06611. Clergy present at the Funeral Mass will wear diocesan vestments.

Father Usenza was born on September 21, 1934 in Brooklyn, NY, son of Frank and Fannie Naste Usenza. He attended P.S. 89, Queens and Saint Agnes Academic High School, Rockville Center, NY.  He was prepared for the priesthood at Saint Mary’s College, Saint Mary’s, KY, Saint Thomas Seminary, Bloomfield and Saint Mary Seminary, Baltimore.

He was ordained to the priesthood by the Most Reverend Lawrence J. Shehan at Saint Augustine Cathedral, Bridgeport on May 20, 1961.

Father Usenza was assigned as Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Grace, Stratford; Saint Mary, New London, CT; and Saint Andrew, Bridgeport. He also was a priest in residence at Our Lady of Grace Parish, Stratford and Saint Joseph Parish, Shelton, and temporary administrator at Saint Andrew Parish.

Father Usenza served as the Spiritual Director at Saint Joseph High School and Cathedral Girls’ High School, Bridgeport. In addition, he was appointed Priest Chaplain at Norwalk Community College. Father did graduate studies in counseling at Fairfield University.

Father Usenza attended Naval Chaplains’ School in Newport, RI. He served as a U.S. Navy Chaplain until 1969, when he became a chaplain in the Naval Reserve Training Center, Bridgeport. He was released to do military service again in 1976, this time in the U.S. Marines and Army, which continued until 1984. He retired from active priestly ministry in 1988 and was generous with his time, helping at parishes near his West Haven home.

Father Usenza is mourned by his brothers, Frank (Cathy) Jr. and Ronald J. Usenza and his nephew and nieces, Frank Usenza III, Anna Maria Stewart, and Jaclyn Doyle. Condolences to his family may be sent to his brother, Frank Usenza, 1520 Islamorada Boulevard, Punta Gorda, FL 33955. Memorial contributions may be made to Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey, 5804 West Monastery Road, Hulbert, OK 74441. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Usenza and for the consolation of his family.

St. Mark Basketball 2016 CYO Champions
| April 20, 2016


​STRATFORD—On April 3, the St. Mark Girls Varsity, Boys Varsity, Boys Junior Varsity, Girls Junior Varsity all won their New England CYO championships.

Boys JV: Front Row (l-r) Joe Adzima, Josh Newall, Jude Pastorok,
John Pastorok, Ronnie Kerkes, Ian Lubas,
Second Row: Head Coach Pat Morrissey, Julian Marottolo,
Dabte Quattrucci, Mark Morrissey, Anthony Valerian, Matt Morrissey,
Assistant Coach Terry Newall

Girls JV: First Row (l-r) Jailyn Ballester, Ellie Anka, Amanda Bike,
Julia Sciallo, Second Row: Madison McMahon, Julie Carbone,
Adriana Debernardo, Mariana Trovarelli, Hannah Siljamaki,
Coaches: Assistant Coaches, Paul Giannotta, Joe Wright, Head Coach,
Michael Sciallo

Boys Varsity: First Row (l-r) Donato Quattrucci, Tommy Shannon,
Michael Morrissey, Tyler Burgess, Jared Grindrod, Nick Rodrigues,
Joey August, Thomas Blaine, Michael D'Aloia, John Bushka, JT Baroni
Assistant Coach, John Baroni, Head Coach, Mike August

Girls Varsity: First Row (l-r) Erin Parchinski, Amanda Zdru,
Abby Anka, Cassi Barbato, Skylar Robotti, Second Row:
Tatianna Gonzalez, Caitlin Fenton, Kaitlyn Feliciano, Elizabeth, Adzima,
Sami Perley, Georgia Grabowski, Alexandra Richo,
Third Row: Head Coach, Walt Brown, Assistant Coaches, Sean Fenton,
Chris Perley

The four teams went undefeated throughout the tournament, which was held April 1- 3.

New Covenant Center’s Celebrity Breakfast Big Success!
| April 19, 2016


STAMFORD—On Tuesday April 19th, New Covenant Center held it’s 12th Annual Celebrity Breakfast at Woodway Country Club in Darien.

The event hosted over 250 people who were treated to an enjoyable new guest speaker format. This year featured an interview style discussion with Mark Lazarus, Chairman—NBC Sports Group, interviewed by Rob Simmelkjaer, Sr. VP—NBC Sports Ventures, and the former Honorary Chairman of the New Covenant Center Capital Campaign.

They shared information about the importance of NBC Sports volunteering at New Covenant Center and other charities, and a fun “behind the scenes” glimpse of the logistics of putting on the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Phil Shalala, Chairman Emeritus of New Covenant Center, was honored with the first “Founders Award” for the creation of the Celebrity Breakfast event and for his 16 years of devoted service. Additionally, John Gutman, Executive Director, revealed a new logo for the center that better reflects the range of services offered in the new facility.  Al Barber, President of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County proudly discussed this year’s 100th Anniversary of Catholic Charities, of which New Covenant Center is a program.  Celebrity Breakfast set a new record for funds raised for New Covenant Center and all proceeds go to support New Covenant Center meals, food pantry and human services programs.

As the final element of the Celebrity Breakfast, bidding continues on The New Covenant Center online auction” Football Night in America” package for 4, featuring an exclusive “behind-the-scenes” tour of NBC Sports International Studios in Stamford, viewing a LIVE “Football Night in America” show, dinner at the Water’s Edge in Darien, and accommodations with breakfast at the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich." target="_blank">Bid Now, Auction ends: Tuesday, April 26th.

We would like to thank our Sponsors. Platinum Sponsor: NBC Sports Group. Gold Sponsors: Bodenheimer Foundation, Sarita & Gregory Hanley, King Low Heywood Thomas School, RBS, Thomson Reuters and Woodway Country Club.  Silver Sponsors: CrossBay Capital Partners, Jay& Lisa McDermott, William F. Mulhall & Family, PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP.  Bronze Sponsors: Armstrong Family Foundation, Michael J. Boyd, Darien/Rowayton Bank, ESPN, Michael Feldman/William Raveis Real Estate, Linda & Bruce Koe, Gerrie Musicco, Donna Shalala Foundation, St. Aloysius Parish, and Stone Harbor Management.  In-Kind Donations were kindly provided by The Advocate/Greenwich Time, Moffly Media, and Stamford Florist.

New Covenant Center opened a new 8,000 sq. ft. facility at 174 Richmond Hill last summer. New Covenant Center serves hot meals twice a day, 365 days a year.  Including the breakfast program and food pantry, it provides over 700,000 meals a year.  The new facility includes an efficient and modern kitchen, a welcoming dining area, expanded food storage area and refrigeration, a spacious food pantry area and additional space for other services.

Founded nearly 40 years ago, New Covenant Center is an inter-faith project of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County, serving the homeless, elderly, disabled, working poor, and children. No one is turned away.  There are no requirements to enter the New Covenant Center doors, except a mutual exchange of respect and dignity.

(To learn more and to donate, please go to: or contact: John Gutman, Executive Director .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))

Thousands across Diocese view Fatima Centennial Statue
| April 19, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Thousands of Catholics across the diocese turned out to welcome the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima from April 14 through April 19.

The statue’s arrival in the diocese is part of a two-year World Apostolate of Fatima USA Centennial U.S. Tour for Peace.

Over the weekend the Centennial Tour bus stopped at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Bridgeport, St. Theresa Parish in  Trumbull, St. Mary Parish in Stamford, Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton and St. Marguerite Parish in Brookfield, where it makes it final stop this evening (Tuesday) at 5 pm.

Parishes greeted the statue arrival by arranging Novenas, Meditation, Recitation of the Rosary and Mass to pray for peace.

“We had the great blessing to be one of the few parishes in Connecticut to be chosen to honor and celebrate this venerable and holy statue, and as Our Lady implored to the children of Fatima and the whole world to do, Pray for Peace throughout the world,” said Fr. Reggie Norman, Pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Wilton.
Events in Wilton included is a parish wide Novena  that started April 8th (parishioners signed up for a Nine Day Novena Notification reminder through the new parish app!)…
The Family Rosary was also said after every Mass.  The parish also hosted Visitation and Meditation before the Statue.  from 1-3:30pm.
Fr. Norman has encouraged parishioners to say this prayer every day for nine consecutive days: “Most Holy Virgin, who has deigned to come to Fatima to reveal to the three little shepherds the treasures of graces hidden in the recitation of the Rosary, inspire our hearts with sincere love of this devotion.

Click here to view the flicker albums with photos of the visitation of the Our Lady of Fatima statue in area parishes.

Deacon Harold Lynch, 79
| April 19, 2016


EASTON—Deacon Harold J. Lynch, 79, a deacon at Notre Dame Parish in Easton, died at home in the care of his family on April 13 after a battle with cancer.

“He had been a member of our parish for over 30 years and faithfully served the Notre Dame Community for 27 years as a permanent deacon,” said Father Michael Lyons, Notre Dame’s pastor. “Deacon Hal will be greatly missed.”

Harold Lynch graduated in 1954 from Power Memorial Academy in Manhattan. He joined the United States Marine Corps the following year. He served from 1955 to 1963, attaining the rank of Sergeant.

In 1965, he received his bachelor of science degree from Fordham University and enjoyed a long and successful career as a sales and marketing executive of primary metals for Anaconda, AMAX and ASARCO. During his retirement he consulted with SIDICH, Belgium.

In 1989, he was ordained a deacon for the Diocese of Bridgeport and served in this capacity at Notre Dame of Easton and at Our Lady of Victory in Manhattan. As a deacon, he most enjoyed serving as a facilitator for the Prepare Enrich Program and pre-baptismal classes.

He was passionate about world news and politics and would share his views with anyone that would listen. He was an enthusiastic reader, a diehard Giants fan, an avid golfer and—most important—the number one cheerleader and supporter of his granddaughters at all their sporting and musical events.

Deacon Lynch will be brought into Notre Dame Church the afternoon of Tuesday, April 19. Calling hours will be held from 3-5 pm and 7-9 pm. A Memorial Mass will be celebrated on Wednesday, April 20, at 11 am. Msgr. Thomas Powers, vicar general of the Diocese of Bridgeport, will be the celebrant. Father Lyons will deliver the homily. Interment follows at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Trumbull.

Deacon Lynch is survived by his wife of 55 years, Carmen Barraza Lynch, three children and three granddaughters.

Deacon information sessions set
| April 19, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Information sessions for men interested in pursuing their calling to diaconate ministry will be held at five locations throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport beginning April 25 at 7 pm. The first session will be held at Holy Spirit Parish, 403 Scofieldtown Rd., Stamford.

The evening sessions will also be held in Wilton, Fairfield, Newtown and Shelton. Each session will run approximately 90 minutes and will provide specific information on the diaconate formation and the admission process.

“If a man is interested in discerning a vocation to the diaconate, we encourage him to attend one of the upcoming information sessions,” said Deacon Anthony Cassaneto, Ph.D., director of the diaconate for the Diocese of Bridgeport.

“We know that there are diaconal vocations in our parishes. Our hope is that these sessions will spark an interest in and a desire to learn more about diaconal ministry,” he said.

There are 80 active and 27 retired deacons in the diocese of Bridgeport. They minister to people in a variety of parish and institutional settings, including service as chaplains in area hospitals and healthcare facilities, Deacon Cassaneto said.

Ideally men applying to the diaconate should be between the ages of 40-60, though men 35 and older are welcome to apply.

Deacon Cassaneto said that many of the men who will attend the meeting have the support of their pastors. However, all who are interested are welcome to attend one of the information sessions. Men who elect to continue in the Inquiry process will then need a letter from their pastor to support their application to deacon formation.

The first six months of the Inquiry period is a time of spiritual discernment and reflection. Inquirers will attend monthly sessions at the Catholic Center before beginning formal theological studies. Those accepted as Inquirers will officially begin their discernment in January 2017.

“A man discerning his vocation to the permanent diaconate must fully participate in the Inquiry period in order to be considered an applicant,” Deacon Cassaneto said.

According to the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States, “The first stirrings of a vocation to the diaconate are often explored at a personal level and usually begin with seeking information about the diaconate and formation. An individual initially reflects upon the nature of his perceived call. Primacy must be given at this time to the spiritual dimension.”

The directory indicates that entrance into diaconal formation is not just a personal and family journey, but Church must accompany it, and that the “the parish is the primary experience of Church for most Inquirers.”

The deacon’s role includes administering baptisms, witnessing and blessing marriages, officiating at wakes, funerals and burial services, and presiding at prayer services. Deacons also distribute Holy Communion, proclaim the Gospel, preach the homily and assist at Mass.

Deacon Information Sessions will be held at the following locations: Holy Spirit Parish, 403 Scofieldtown Rd., Stamford, on April 25; Our Lady of Fatima Parish, 229 Danbury Rd., Wilton, on April 28; Holy Family Parish, 700 Old Stratfield Rd., Fairfield on May 2; St. Rose of Lima Parish, 46 Church Hill Rd., Newtown on May 11; and St. Lawrence Parish, 505 Shelton Ave., Shelton, on May 23.

(For more information, contact Deacon Anthony Cassaneto: 203.416.1451 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))               

Synod process “alive and evolving”
| April 16, 2016


Click to view photos from the session

TRUMBULL—The Synod is over but the consultative process is still very much underway in the diocese, Bishop Frank Caggiano told more than 100 delegates who reconvened for the 2nd Post-Synod General Session this morning at St. Catherine of Siena Parish.

The bishop thanked the delegates for coming back together and said that he wants to hear from them as the diocese gives shape to the many new programs and initiatives inspired by their Synod deliberations.

“What we gave birth to is a living process. September 19 (date of the Synod Closing Mass Celebration last year) didn’t end anything. Implementation is not static, it will continue to evolve,” the bishop said. “We may do things we didn’t envision in our process but they will be born out of that which we discussed and discerned.”

Throughout the morning delegates received status reports from diocese officials and ministry leaders about new Synod initiatives including the Diocesan Leadership Institute, the Catholic Service Corps, and Faith Formation programs.

Those who have left the Church were still very much on the minds of delegates who asked that the new programs be effective in bringing back men and women who no longer participate in parish life and in better engaging the young people between the ages of 17 and 23, who are at the greatest risk of leaving.

During the meeting, the delegates also heard from three people who have come to work at the Diocese as a result of the needs identified during the Synod deliberations in 2014-2015.

The bishop said his thoughts on the post-synod process have been guided by “three words: patience, discernment, and perseverance, as we continue to be obedient and listen to prompting of Holy Spirit as a diocesan family.”

The bishop told delegates that he originally thought of the Synod as “roadmap” but as implementation moves forward, he has come to understand its as a “mosaic” with many bright pieces and figures.

“A roadmap has a clear line to the destination, but in a mosaic, each piece of the puzzle has its own life and character. When we put all these pieces together, we can create a new picture, a new chapter in the life of the diocese.”

The bishop, who drew laughter when he quipped that he was not known to be a patient man,” said the implementation was taking longer than he initially expected, and then added, “We have to learn to do this in the mind of Christ and with his grace. If that takes longer than I thought, that’s okay, as long as it’s done right.”

Patrick Turner, Director of Strategic and Pastoral Planning, and Fr. Michael Dogali, Episcopal Vicar for Planning, offered an overview of the Strategic Planning Process now underway in the diocese.

Turner said that over 400 parish taskforce members participated in planning workshops held during the month of March and that parishes are now working on self-assessment forms.

He said the self-assessments will be completed by May 15 and that each parish is expected to have a strategic plan drafted by next September.

“Planning is going to be an integral part of parish life going forward, “ he said. “This is not a one-time process.”

Fr. Dogali, who has been visiting with pastors across the diocese, said that the diocesan strategic planning commission is reviewing key diocesan services such as communications, information technology, data management, procurement and human resources in order to improve services to parishes.

“We’re really trying to respond to what the pastors have asked of us and to provide the kind of support that they need,” Fr. Dogali said.

Patrick Donovan, newly named executive director of the Diocesan Leadership Institute, said that every Catholic is called to ministry and leadership at some level by virtue of his or her baptism.

The father of four young children said “Part of my story is trying to figure out how to use my gifts to bring others to Jesus. We are all called to ministry and the first step is discernment.”

Donovan said that the institute will be a two-way street that draws from the talent and experience of those already working in the diocese. “Everyone brings something to the table. We already have good people doing formation and two great universities to draw from.”

Donovan said the ultimate goal of the institute is to ask, “How do we become the presence of Christ in other people’s lives, so they may want to learn more about what we have?”

He said programs offered by the new diocesan institute will “not be in the business of certifying but engaging and forming those interested in serving as catechists.”

Donovan, who also chairs the Catechetical Task Force recommended by the Synod, said an assessment is already under way of catechetic instruction to find out what is working in the diocese and “how we invite people into ministry.”

“Formation has to be rooted in hospitality, it has recognize the local experience, and it has to be manageable,” he said.

Rose Talbot-Babey, Coordinator of Elementary Foundation, said that her office will make new tools and resources available to engage and form young people in the faith.

She said at present, little training is offered to catechists, and that she parents need to start talking to their children about faith if they wish to avoid the “drop off and drop out” problem.

She said the challenge is to create religious education standards across the diocese without creating “a one size fits all” approach.

Kim Quatela, coordinator of Family Formation programs in the diocese, said that one of her biggest priorities has been “revamping marriage prep program that urgently needed an update.

She said her office is launching the new “Unveiled” program used by the Diocese of Richmond in Marriage Preparation.

“We’ve taken it from a class model to a marriage conference that is more welcoming and engaging. We want it to be a day of enrichment and formation for couples that will give them the resources they need to prepare for marriage.”

Quatela also told delegates that future offerings from her office will include a Women’s Conference and Men’s Conference, Ministry to the Divorced and Separated, Parenting Resources, information on Natural Family Planning and Fertility, and RCIA program to welcome new Catholics.

In a report on the Catholic Service Corps, Patrick Turner said the corps now has 15 pilot projects involving Catholic schools, local universities and parishes, and that a diocesan wide day of service is planned for September

“The goal is to engage youth in service and formation, and to make Christian service and enduring, lifelong choice,” he said.

Young women daring to dream
| April 15, 2016 • by By AUDREY COZZARIN


NORWALK—“…Because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)

The realization that there was no safe place for homeless pregnant women in our community compelled Malta House founders Michael O’Rourke, Hope Carter, Christopher Bell and a concerned group who had a dream to create a work of mercy. Since 1998, Malta House, located in Norwalk, has provided pregnant women (and women with newborns or infants) with supportive services in a safe and nurturing environment.

As O’Rourke recalls, “These vulnerable young families often found themselves on the street or living in sub-standard conditions. Malta House was conceived not only to offer food and shelter, but also to give hope for the future.”

For those who are not familiar with Malta House, its mission to honor God-given life and lift up its residents towards a bright future is clearly in tune with the life of Jesus Christ who touched, healed, and ate with outcasts and the poor.
Lucy Freeman, Malta House executive director, says, “Malta House is where dreams really do matter. The women we serve are strong, yet need support to recognize their strengths.  We encourage them to dream and dream big.” Freeman’s dream is to serve more families, “We dream of a facility that will allow for growth, with larger and more living spaces for pregnant women with small children and a respite room for a woman in a crisis situation.”

Potential residents come to the attention of Malta House primarily through social services and other agencies. Once accepted into the residential program—which can accommodate up to 10 families—the young women are expected to follow guidelines of good conduct, are supported in establishing a savings account and in finding a part-time job or completing their education, and given skills training with the goal of independence. Teaming with other non-profits such as St. Joseph Parenting Center in Stamford, Malta House’s residents receive valuable parenting lessons and learn about nutrition and life skills both for themselves and their

In addition, spirituality classes are provided at Malta House on a weekly basis. Father Reggie Norman, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton and a Malta House board member, has recently been meeting with the young women. As he explains it, “Our spirituality program is based on the needs of the individual women and the goal is to empower them to recognize their own inner strength and spirit. Individual counseling is also available to help the women overcome some of the tragedies of their past lives and to equip them to overcome and prosper in the new life and family they create.”

The residential program lasts about 18-24 months. For life after Malta House, there is the “Partnering Success” program that provides follow-up services and outreach to guide “graduates” through the initial stages of life as parents on their own.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano values the dreams of those who seek the help of Malta House. He says, “Malta House plays an integral part in the mission of our diocese, as it allows young mothers and their children to have a healthy and holy start to their life. Malta House provides the children an opportunity to grow and be educated, and the young mothers a beginning to a life that holds promise and opportunity.”

In remarks to those attending last year’s Spring Gala, he said, “Besides financial support, the gift of your time and your prayer—the spirit of volunteerism—this is what makes Malta House a unique and successful experiment in Catholic social living.”

Kim Petrone, chair of the Malta House board of directors, invites the readers of Fairfield County Catholic to attend this year’s Annual Spring Gala on Saturday, May 14, at Woodway Country Club in Darien. The evening features a cocktail hour, dinner, and a live auction. In addition, Barbara M. Ripp, a long-time supporter of Malta House, will be honored.

Petrone says, “Overcoming life’s most challenging issues starts with a dream, and supporters like Barbara are key to the young women achieving their dreams.

Malta House is supported entirely by private donations, both monetary and in-kind donations—large and small, every gift matters as our residents continue on their path to self-sufficiency.”

(For more info about Malta House and its upcoming Annual Gala: visit or call 203.857.0088.)

Father Emidio Gregori, 92
| April 14, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Father Emidio O. Gregori, a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport for over 58 years, passed away on Tuesday, April 12, 2016 in Stratford at the age of 92.

Father Gregori was ordained on May 3, 1958 at St. Augustine Cathedral by the Most Rev. Lawrence J. Shehan, first Bishop of Bridgeport. Father Gregori’s body will be received by Reverend Nicholas Pavia on Monday, April 18, 2016 at 3 pm at Our Lady of Peace Church, Stratford, and will lie in state until the Vigil Mass at 7 pm.  Monsignor Thomas Powers will preside and Reverend Nicholas Pavia will be the homilist.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held there on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 at 11 am. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the main celebrant and Reverend Richard Murphy will be the homilist. Interment will be at Saint Peter Cemetery, 71 Lake Avenue, Ext., Danbury.

Father Gregori was assigned as Parochial Vicar at Saint Roch, Greenwich; Saint Mary, Stamford; Saint Raphael, Bridgeport; and Saint James, Stratford. He also served as temporary administrator at Saint James Parish. He celebrated his 50th Anniversary as a Priest in June, 2008.

Father Gregori was born on May 19, 1922 in Collagna, Italy, to Peter  Gregori and Maria Cristina Pulsoni Gregori. He attended Danbury High School, the Junior College of Bridgeport, and Syracuse University.

He was prepared for the priesthood at Saint Mary Seminary, Saint Mary, KY and Saint Mary Seminary, Baltimore.

Father Gregori did post-graduate studies at the University of San Francisco. He also served on the Diocesan Presbyteral Council and was active as a director of District CYO in Greenwich.  He retired from active ministry in 1997.

Father Gregori is mourned by his brother and sister-in-law, Oreste and Joanna Gregori. Condolences may be sent to Mr. and Mrs. Oreste Gregori, 23 Sunnyview Drive, Redding, CT 06896.

2nd Post-Synod General Session To offer progress report on implementation
| April 14, 2016


TRUMBULL—The second diocesan post-Synod General Session will be held this Saturday, April 16, from 8 am to 12 noon at St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull. 

More than 150  men and women who served as delegates during last year’s Synod process are expected to reconvene for an update on Synod initiatives now underway in the diocese.

“We look forward to bringing the delegates together to review the actions taken on the Synod recommendations since we met in December,” said Patrick Turner, Director of Strategic and Pastoral Planning of the Diocese of Bridgeport.   

Fr. Joseph Marcello, Pastor of St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull, will celebrate Mass at 7:15 am on Saturday for those Synod delegates who wish to attend, prior to the post-Synod session.

The session will formally begin at 8 am and will conclude promptly at noon.  Coffee, juice, breakfast pastries and fresh fruit will be provided.   

Bishop Caggiano will address delegates at 8:30 with a reflection on the progress of Synod initiatives, particularly those focused on empowering youth, renewing catechesis, and forming parish leaders.
The morning will include updates from the Office of Faith Formation, and progress reports on the pastoral planning process, the Catholic Service Corps, the Diocesan Leadership Institute, the Catechetical Task Force and other initiatives. For a full recap, visit the Synod website at
“There will also be plenty of time for discussion and questions with those who are undertaking the implementation,” said Patrick Turner, who said that many delegates are also at work on implementing various synod recommendations.

Bishop Caggiano issued a Pastoral Letter on Easter Sunday Solemnity of Easter, reflecting on the vision and mission that arose from Synod 2014 as the diocese works to implement its initiatives in the coming months and years.

Click to read the Bishop’s Pastoral Letter on the Synod

Open Houses set for Catholic Elementary Schools in Stamford
| April 13, 2016


STAMFORD—On Sunday, April 24, 2016 all four Catholic elementary schools in Stamford will be open from 10 am to 1 pm to welcome parishioners, prospective families, alumni, alumni parents and grandparents. 

Bishop Frank Caggiano is leading a new strategic planning process that will position the schools for the very best in 21st century learning.

Students and families are invited to come visit and take a tour, meet faculty, parents and students and learn more about Catholic education.

·      Holy Spirit School, 403 Scofieldtown Road
·      Our Lady Star of the Sea, 1170 Shippan Avenue
·      St Cecilia, 1186 Newfield Avenue,
·      Trinity Catholic Middle School, 948 Newfield Avenue.

All schools are also open for Take A Look Tuesdays, our weekly open houses, every Tuesday from 9 am – 11 am.  For more information, please visit

Wedding Jubilee Mass set for April 17
| April 12, 2016


TRUMBULL—More than 200 couples in parishes throughout the diocese will be honored at special Wedding Jubilee Mass celebrated by  Bishop Frank J. Caggiano on Sunday, April 17, 3 pm at St. Theresa Church, 5301 Main Street in Trumbull.

The Jubilee will bless the marriages of couples celebrating anniversaries ranging from 25 to 75  years. The afternoon includes Mass, photos of the couples being honored by Bishop Caggiano, and a reception.

Among those celebrating wedding anniversaries will be Stanley and Gladys Gwiazdzinski (75 years) of St. Paul Parish in Greenwich; William and Bertha Fredette (70 years) of Holy Family Parish in Fairfield; Lawrence and Ruth Schmidt (70 years) of Saint Bridget of Ireland Parish in Stamford; and Joseph and Florence Romano (66 years) of St. Matthew Parish in Norwalk.

The annual Jubilee Mass had been originally scheduled for St. Paul’s in Greenwich but was relocated to St. Theresa when a larger Church was required to accommodate the enthusiastic response from the couples and their guests.

The Mass is being sponsored and coordinated by the Faith Formation Office of the Diocese of Bridgeport. For information contact: Kim Quatela, Coordinator of Family Formation: 203.416.1334 or email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

| April 12, 2016


Also: Learn more about Hidden Rock Sports

NEWTOWN—Faith, sports and giving back were the theme of the first Good News for Young Athletes family workshop offered by Hidden Rock Sports, LLC at St. Rose of Lima Parish on April 2. Interactive games and lessons emphasized the importance of including God in every game plan.

“Sports are a major aspect of family life in our town and families are often so busy with games and practices they have a difficult time fitting worship services into their weekend schedules. This ministry provides an important bridge between faith and sports. It shows children that God is the greatest coach. When they put him first, the rest will follow,” said Msgr. Weiss, St. Rose’s pastor.

In the spirit of teamwork and giving, participants donated gently used sports equipment and uniforms to Let’s Play it Forward, an organization that collects and distributes these items to children in need.

(For more information about adding a twist of faith to your family’s sports life, visit To find how to bring a Faith and Sports workshop to your school or parish, go to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Father Frederick Saviano, 74
| April 11, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Father Frederick Saviano died on Saturday, April 9, 2016 at Bridgeport Hospital after a long struggle with illness.

Father Saviano’s body will be received into his home parish of the Church of the Assumption, Westport, on Friday, April 15, at 3 pm by Father Robert Kinnally, Chancellor of the Diocese, and will lie in state until the Vigil Mass at 7 pm.

Msgr Thomas Powers, Vicar General of the Diocese of Bridgeport, will preside at the Mass and Father Thomas Thorne, Assumption’s pastor, will be the homilist.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, April 16, at 10 am. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the main celebrant; Msgr. Nicholas Grieco will be the homilist. Interment will be at Assumption-Greens Farms Cemetery, Greens Farms Road, Westport.

In a 2002 profile of Fr. Saviano in Fairfield County Catholic, he reflected on his work as a priest while serving as Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Danbury.

“The priesthood is like the Incarnation. When Jesus took on a human nature, He became a part of us, no matter how deeply we upset Him, no matter how badly we behave,” he said
“As priests we live where we work and we’re always available to our people. I love them. I’m part of them, I am their priest.  It’s all-absorbing. No matter how difficult this job is, you have to see God’s presence all around you.”

Father Saviano was born on November 5, 1941 in Norwalk Hospital. The son of John and Mildred Romano Saviano, he grew up in Westport. He was prepared for the priesthood by the Missionaries of LaSalette at LaSalette Seminary, Hartford, LaSalette Seminary, Altamont, NY and LaSalette Seminary, Ipswich, MA.

He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Thomas J. Riley at the La Salette National Shrine in Ipswich, MA on May 5, 1968.  He then ministered for many years as a missionary in Argentina and Peru.  

Coming back to his home diocese, he was assigned as parochial vicar at Saint Benedict/Our Lady of Montserrat Parish in Stamford and subsequently was incardinated into the Diocese of Bridgeport in 1995. In 1996, Father Saviano was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Danbury.

He served there until 2005, at which time he accepted a year-long pastoral assignment in parish mission work in Peru.

Father Saviano became the director of the Office for the Propagation of the Faith in 2006, and served in that capacity at the Catholic Center until his retirement in 2015.  During this time he was in residence at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Weston and was the administrator of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Parish, Shelton.

Father Saviano also served on the diocesan Presbyteral Council.

Father Saviano is mourned by his sister-in-law, Hazel Saviano, and several nieces and nephews. His memory will be cherished by his many friends in South America with whom he kept contact through Skype and social media. Condolences may be sent to Hazel Saviano, 3 Saviano Lane, Westport, CT 06880. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Fred and for the consolation of his family.

From Broadway to Habitat House!
| April 10, 2016


FAIRFIELD—“Broadway in the Basement” will be back at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Fairfield on Saturday, April 23, at 7pm for pasta dinner and a show in the parish hall.

“Snap Shots” will include highlight numbers from some of Broadway’s most popular shows. It will be performed by members of New Paradigm Theater, a non-profit group of professional Broadway actors who use their talents to raise funds for other non-profit groups.

Proceeds from the performance will benefit the Pope Francis House now under construction on George Street in Bridgeport by Habitat for Humanity and volunteers from many area parishes and institutions.

The diocese adopted the Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County house project in recognition of the visit of Pope Francis to the United States in September and his call to serve the poor and homeless.

Donna Spigarolo, a member of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Fairfield and a longtime Habitat volunteer, is serving as coordinator of the effort. She said the project needs one final push in fund raising to bring it to completion.

The Zepeda family that hopes to move into the house in May will be guests during the evening and will says a few words about their own experience and share their excitement about owning their own home. They are members of the St. Augustine Cathedral parish.

A live auction with auctioneer Fr. Charles Allen of Fairfield University will be held along with a silent auction.

People who attend are asked to make a contribution at the door based on what they might ordinarily spend on show and a dinner. For reservations email Katie Scinto at: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 203- 209-1280.

Share truth of family with mercy, help those struggling, pope says
| April 08, 2016 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—The same mercy and patience that are essential for building a strong family must be shown to those whose families are in trouble or have broken up, Pope Francis said in his highly anticipated postsynodal apostolic exhortation.

The document, "'Amoris Laetitia' (The Joy of Love), on Love in the Family," released April 8, contains no new rules or norms.

However, it encourages careful review of everything related to family ministry and, particularly, much greater attention to the language and attitude used when explaining church teaching and ministering to those who do not fully live that teaching.

"No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love," Pope Francis wrote. People grow in holiness, and the church must be there to give them a helping hand rather than turn them away because they have not attained some degree of perfection.

The exhortation was Pope Francis' reflection on the discussion, debate and suggestions raised during the 2014 and 2015 meetings of the Synod of Bishops on the family. Like synod members did, the pope insisted that God's plan for the family is that it be built on the lifelong union of one man and one woman open to having children.

Synod members, including priests, religious and laypeople serving as experts and observers, talked about everything from varied cultural forms of courtship to marriage preparation and from the impact of migration on families to care for elderly parents.

Pope Francis' document touches on all the issues raised at the synods and gives practical advice on raising children, urges a revision of sex-education programs and decries the many ways the "disposable culture" has infiltrated family life and sexuality to the point that many people feel free to use and then walk away from others.

"Everyone uses and throws away, takes and breaks, exploits and squeezes to the last drop. Then, goodbye," he wrote.

Much of the document is tied to the theme of God's mercy, including Pope Francis' discussion of welcoming the vulnerable.

"Dedication and concern shown to migrants and to persons with special needs alike is a sign of the Spirit," he wrote. Both are "a test of our commitment to show mercy in welcoming others and to help the vulnerable to be fully a part of our communities."

The synod issues that garnered the most headlines revolved around the question of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried, as well as Catholic attitudes toward homosexuality.

"In no way must the church desist from proposing the full ideal of marriage, God's plan in all its grandeur," Pope Francis said.

He repeated his and the synod's insistence that the church cannot consider same-sex unions to be a marriage, but also insisted, "every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity."

On the question of families experiencing difficulties, separation or even divorce and remarriage, Pope Francis said responses to the questionnaires sent around the world before the synod "showed that most people in difficult or critical situations do not seek pastoral assistance, since they do not find it sympathetic, realistic or concerned for individual cases."

The responses, he wrote, call on the church "to try to approach marriage crises with greater sensitivity to their burden of hurt and anxiety."

Particularly in ministry to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, Pope Francis said, pastors must help each couple look at their actions and circumstances, recognize their share of responsibility for the breakup of their marriage, acknowledge church teaching that marriage is indissoluble and prayerfully discern what God is calling them to.

Pope Francis said it would be a "grave danger" to give people the impression that "any priest can quickly grant 'exceptions' or that some people can obtain sacramental privileges in exchange for favors."

At the same time, he insisted, "the way of the church is not to condemn anyone forever; it is to pour out the balm of God's mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart."

Divorced and civilly remarried couples, especially those with children, must be welcomed in Catholic parishes and supported in efforts to raise their children in the faith.

Generally, without an annulment of their sacramental marriage, such a couple would not be able to receive Communion or absolution of their sins unless they promised to live as "brother and sister." But every situation is different, the pope said, which is why the church does not need new rules, but a new commitment on the part of pastors to provide spiritual guidance and assistance with discernment.

The diversity of situations -- for example, that of a spouse who was abandoned versus being the one who left -- makes it unwise to issue "a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and applicable to all cases," the pope wrote. Quoting St. John Paul II, he said, "'since the degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases,' the consequences or effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same."

Pope Francis used the document's footnotes to specify that the consequences include whether or not the couple might eventually be able to receive Communion: "This is also the case with regard to sacramental discipline, since discernment can recognize that in a particular situation no grave fault exists," he wrote. Those who are in a state of serious sin are not to receive Communion.

Another footnote commented on the church's request that remarried couples who had not received an annulment and who want to receive the sacraments forgo sexual relations. "In such situations, many people, knowing and accepting the possibility of living 'as brothers and sisters' which the church offers them, point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, 'it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers,'" he wrote.

Pope Francis wrote that he understood those "who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion. But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness, a mother who, while clearly expressing her objective teaching, always does what good she can, even if in the process, her shoes get soiled by the mud of the street."

Turning to those who believe allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion waters down church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, the pope said, "we put so many conditions on mercy that we empty it of its concrete meaning and real significance. That is the worst way of watering down the Gospel."

In many respects, Pope Francis wrote, church members themselves have presented and promoted such a dreary picture of married life that many people want nothing to do with it even though they dream of a love that will last a lifetime and be faithful.

"We have long thought that simply by stressing doctrinal, bioethical and moral issues, without encouraging openness to grace, we were providing sufficient support to families, strengthening the marriage bond and giving meaning to marital life," he wrote. "We find it difficult to present marriage more as a dynamic path to personal development and fulfillment than as a lifelong burden.

"We also find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations," the pope wrote. Yet, "we have been called to form consciences, not to replace them."

The role of an individual's conscience made frequent appearances in the document, not only regarding the situation of those who may determine their new union is best for their family, but also regarding decisions over how many children to have.

Pope Francis praised Blessed Paul VI's encyclical "Humanae Vitae," which insisted every sexual act in a marriage must be open to the possibility of pregnancy, and included a large section reiterating what has become known as St. John Paul II's "Theology of the Body."

The saintly pope definitively opposed an old idea that considered "the erotic dimension of love simply as a permissible evil or a burden to be tolerated for the good of the family," Pope Francis said. "Rather, it must be seen as gift from God that enriches the relationship of the spouses."

Pope Francis called for church leaders to ensure more married couples are involved as leaders in designing and carrying out pastoral programs for families. Their witness is key, he said.

"Marital love is not defended primarily by presenting indissolubility as a duty, or by repeating doctrine, but by helping it to grow ever stronger under the impulse of grace," he said. "A love that fails to grow is at risk. Growth can only occur if we respond to God's grace through constant acts of love, acts of kindness that become ever more frequent, intense, generous, tender and cheerful."