Here comes everybody: divorced, gays, sinners, a couple saints
Ashes for the unabashedly Catholic
Poverty rates reflect ‘serious moral failure’
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BRIDGEPORT—Diocesan employees enjoyed a special surprise today when Bishop-elect Frank J. Caggiano celebrated Mass in the Catholic Center before joining them at the annual summer picnic.
BRIDGEPORT—In his brief opening remarks before taking questions from the press, Bishop Caggiano asked all the faithful for their "prayers, help and support."
BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank Caggiano received a warm welcome to Bridgeport yesterday by employees of the Diocese of Bridgeport who met him for the first time and gathered together to attend a morning press conference held at the Catholic Center. News of his appointment was widely covered by print, TV, radio and social media. During his press conference, we learned that Bishop Caggiano is avid Mets fan who enjoys gardening, reading and carpentry work."I come to you as a fellow pilgrim on the journey of faith," he told those in attendance, while asking for their prayers and pledging to work collaboratives with priest, religious and laity. He said he was "ready to listen and learn about th needs of all of God's people," and he asked for their prayers.
Opening Remarks by Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano
at the July 31, 2013 Press Conference introducing him as Fifth Bishop of Bridgeport.
Allow me to begin by expressing my sincere gratitude to our Holy Father, Pope Francis, for the trust and confidence that he has shown me by appointing me to serve as shepherd of this wonderful, vibrant and diverse Diocese. It is an awesome and exciting ministry that will bring with it wonderful opportunities to gather people in prayer and to invite everyone to grow in holiness of life. There are always challenges in such ministry but I have every confidence that the Lord always provides us whatever we need to meet those challenges and through the struggles we share to deepen our faith and love for Him and one another.
I also wish to express my sincere thanks to Monsignor Jerald Doyle both for his kind words of introduction and for his generous and dedicated service to the Diocese both as its Administrator during these past sixteen months and as its Vicar General. We owe him a great debt of gratitude. I also wish to acknowledge and thank Archbishop William Lori for his generous and dedicated service as bishop of Bridgeport for eleven years. And I am deeply grateful for Archbishop Nicholas DeMarzio who has been a true friend and mentor to me over the years.
My friends, I come to you as a fellow pilgrim on the journey of faith, eager to learn about the good work done each day throughout our Diocese, ready to listen to the needs of God’s people and committed to collaborate with all who serve in pastoral leadership in our parishes, schools, colleges and charitable institutions that serve the poor and needy, most especially my brother priests, deacons and women and men in consecrated life. I ask for your prayers, help and support. Let us work together, inviting one another to a deeper love of the Lord Jesus and His People and to bring the Good News of salvation to all who are willing to listen.
This morning, I turn my mind and heart in a special way to our young people. Having recently returned from Rio de Janeiro after attending the historic gathering of youth with our Holy Father, I am filled with a renewed sense of hope and excitement that the Church is alive in the hearts of our young people. Many stand ready to share their enthusiasm, energy and joy with the entire Church. To the young people of this Diocese and to all young people who may be wondering about the direction of their lives, Iwill do whatever I can to serve you and walk with you in your journey of faith.
This morning, I ask theintercession of Mary, Our Blessed Mother and Mother of the Church and St. Augustine to guide and protect our efforts to bear witness to Christ Her Son, Our Lord and Redeemer.
Read the Connecticut Post's account of Bishop Caggiano's press conference
Read the Hartford Courant account:
As the Christmas song goes: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
While Easter is the most important time of the year, Christmas ranks very close. And when we consider in the broader sense that Christmas and Easter are theologically linked, it is true to say that in many ways Christmas is indeed the most wonderful time of the year.
But first comes Advent—that time presently upon us of preparation for Christmas.
And one of the very best ways of preparing for Christmas is to start giving gifts early; not so much the kind of gifts we usually give to relatives and friends on Christmas, but the life saving and life enhancing gifts of money and service to those most in need—especially those who are living on the edge of survival.
For countless poor human beings who dwell in the shadows of our nation and world—unseen and uncared for—such gifts are priceless.
So, allow me to suggest several ways you can make an Advent/Christmas difference in the lives of some of our suffering brothers and sisters.
Since there was no room at the inn for Joseph, Mary and Jesus, consider volunteering at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen.
As you know, this time of the year is the saddest time for lonely people—especially those who have recently lost a loved one, or have no one to love them. Think about contacting a lonely soul and befriending him or her. If you don’t know of anyone, ask a friend or your parish.
Perhaps you might be able to put together a Christmas basket for a poor family. Again your parish or local social services agency should be able to help. Think about stopping by a nursing home. Many nursing home residents never get a visitor.
Making a donation to your diocesan Catholic Charities agency is also a fine idea. Having worked for Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Washington and the Wilmington diocese, I can personally attest to the good they do. From food distribution, to low cost counseling, to public policy advocacy, Catholic Charities will put your gift to good work.
The vast majority of the poorest and most vulnerable human beings live in the economically undeveloped nations of the world.
Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the official overseas emergency relief and development arm of the Catholic Church in the United States, is tirelessly aiding the poorest of the poor in approximately 100 countries.
For instance, CRS is distributing emergency food rations and food vouchers to desperate people in the Central African Republic, where thousands have been forced from their homes—and many have died—since a rebel takeover in March.
Also, CRS is on the scene providing emergency aid to many of the countless victims of the recent devastating Philippine typhoon, where Archbishop John Du of Palo said it is “like a valley of death.” He added that he went in search of help responding to his parishioners’ plea: “Please go and find us food.”
Kindly consider making an Advent/Christmas donation to Catholic Relief Services, Box 17090, Baltimore, Md. 21297-0303. You can also go online to donate at www.crs.org.
We still have time this Advent to reach out to the poor and vulnerable, near and far. And by doing so, our hearts will be evermore ready to sing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.
Children preparing fish to be sold on the streets in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, April 2008. (CNS photo/Eduardo Munoz, Reuters)
This is the logo for the "One Human Family, Food For All" Caritas effort against hunger. Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based federation of Catholic charities, launches the campaign Dec. 10 with a worldwide prayer. Nearly 1 billion people -- about one in every eight -- experienced chronic hunger or undernourishment during 2010-2012, according to Caritas. (CNS/courtesy of Caritas Internationalis)
VATICAN CITY (CNS)—People must stand united against the scandal of hunger while avoiding food waste and irresponsible use of the world's resources, Pope Francis said.
People should "stop thinking that our daily actions do not have an impact on the lives of those who suffer from hunger firsthand," he said in a video message December 9, launching a global campaign of prayer and action against hunger.
Organized by Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based federation of Catholic charities, a global "wave of prayer" was to begin at noon Dec. 10 on the South Pacific island of Samoa and head west across the world's time zones.
Pope Francis offered his blessing and support for the "One Human Family, Food For All" campaign in a video message released on the eve of the global launch.
With about 1 billion people still suffering from hunger today, "we cannot look the other way and pretend this does not exist," he said in the message.
There is enough food in the world to feed everyone, he said, but only "if there is the will" to respect the "God-given rights of everyone to have access to adequate food."
By sharing in Christian charity with those "who face numerous obstacles," the pope said, "we promote an authentic cooperation with the poor so that, through the fruits of their and our work, they can live a dignified life."
Pope Francis invited all people to act "as one single human family, to give a voice to all of those who suffer silently from hunger, so that this voice becomes a roar which can shake the world."
The Caritas campaign is also a way to invite people to pay attention to their own food choices, "which often lead to waste and a poor use of the resources available to us," the pope said.
Caritas Internationalis invited its 164 member organizations and local churches to pray for an end to hunger and malnutrition, by acting on a local, national or global level against food waste and in favor of food access and security worldwide.
Caritas is urging Catholics to take a few moments at noon Dec. 10 to join the world in praying against hunger, and to engage in long-term action through raising awareness, advocacy, charitable work or other efforts supporting food security.
The right to food is part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the "Food For All" launch-date of Dec. 10 marks the U.N.'s Human Rights Day.
The Caritas campaign is calling on the United Nations to hold a session on the right to food at its 2015 General Assembly and is asking governments to guarantee the right to food in national legislation.
People can contact their local Caritas organization for more information or the campaign's main site at food.caritas.org.
CLICK TO VIEW THE BISHOP'S STEWARDSHIP REPORT
BRIDGEPORT—The Diocese of Bridgeport has released an Annual Stewardship Report along with accompanying financial commentary that outlines the fiscal years 2010, 2011 and 2012. (see all documents including full audited reports)
In addition to being available online, a condensed version of the Stewardship Report will also be printed in the December 14 issue of Fairfield County Catholic, which goes out to more than 100,000 homes in Fairfield County.
“One of my first priorities is to provide a clear, transparent and comprehensive account of the finances of the Diocese for the 2009-2012 fiscal years,” said the Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, who was installed as Fifth Bishop of Bridgeport on September 19, 2013. “It represents as clear a picture as possible of the present state of our Diocese.”
Over the last few years, the Diocese has taken a number of steps to strengthen its financial position. Among these steps are:
In addition pension liabilities, the primary causes for operating deficits from ongoing activities are the level of uncollectible amounts of reimbursable revenue intended to cover employee benefits and insurance program expenses, primarily from inner-city schools and parishes, and increasing cost of healthcare and benefits.
The Report summary said that some of the biggest challenges the Diocese will face going forward include caring for a growing number of retired priests, determining how best to serve the faithful in parishes and schools in a meaningful and cost effective way, and reaching out to Catholics who are estranged from the Church.
The Diocese said that two additional reports will be forthcoming. A summary of the 2009 fiscal year will be issued separately by December 31s because the diocesan fiscal year was changed in 2009 to begin on January 1st. (This necessitated the issuance of a 18 month audit for the 2009 fiscal year. As such, its findings cannot be easily compared to the audit results of subsequent years that cover a 12-month period.) After the release of the 2009 fiscal year reports, a third report will be issued for the Faith in the Future Fund for the 2009-2012 fiscal years. It is my hope that this final report will be available soon after the start of the new year.
Bishop Caggiano said the issuance of the financial stewardship reports is the first of a three- step process towards creating and implementing a long- term strategy “to foster a growing and vibrant local church.” Step two will require a consultative and collaborative process whereby leaders on every level can work together to articulate a sweeping pastoral vision for the future of the Diocese. The third and final step will be development of a strategic plan by the summer of 2014.
The Stewardship Report also provides a summary of the wide range of pastoral, educational, and charitable services provided by the Diocese of Bridgeport.
“We have much to be proud of in the Diocese, with many good works being ministered in our schools, our parishes, the social service ministries of Catholic Charities, our communication efforts with the faithful, and our many Diocesan pastoral services. This report will help us build on this good work and create a vision for the future,” the Bishop said.
MONROE—Knights of Columbus Blessed Pope John XXIII Council and Fourth Degree Assembly 119, which meets at St. Jude Parish, spearheaded an initiative at St. Jude that collected more than 2,600 diapers.
The local Big Y Supermarket also donated 1,235 diapers in support of the program. The combined total of more than 3,800 diapers was donated to the Hopeline Pregnancy Resource Center, 4749 Main St. Bridgeport. Hopeline will use the donation to support the needs of mothers and their babies.
Brother Knight Ray Longo, a passionate supporter of Right to Life, has a long relationship with Hopeline and sponsored this K of C initiative. The Knights recently presented the donation to Linda Delaney and Patti Quartuccio, R.N. of the Resource Center. (l-r) Linda Delaney, Ted Schmidt, Paul Seperack, Ray Longo, Patti Quartuccio and Kevin Donovan.
Hopeline can be reached at 203.540.5225.
NEW HAVEN—Approximately 2,000 children in Connecticut were treated to new coats in anticipation of winter's chill.
The Knights of Columbus distributed the coats to children in need at six locations in Connecticut on “Black Friday.” The Knights’ Coats for Kids distributions ran from 10 am to noon at sites in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven,Norwich, Stamford and Waterbury.
As many as 500 coats were distributed at any location, reaching 2,000 statewide. Since 2009, the Knights of Columbus has given 150,000 coats to children in the United States and Canada.
“As we start the Christmas season, this helps us remember that Christmas is a jubilee of the present God gave us in his son, Jesus. Meeting a needs of children and families in this way allows us to share that first Christmas gift with our neighbors,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “With more than 2,000 coats distributed, this was an huge success, and will make a huge improvement in a lives of these children.”
The Knights of Columbus was established in New Haven in 1882 and has grown to more than 1.8 million members worldwide. Last year, Knights donated more than $167.5 million and 70 million hours to worthy causes.
VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis will help launch a global campaign of prayer and action against world hunger.
Organized by Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based federation of Catholic charities, the global "wave of prayer" will begin at noon Dec. 10 on the South Pacific island of Samoa and head west across the world's time zones.
Pope Francis will offer his blessing and support for the "One Human Family, Food For All" campaign in a five-minute video message being released on the eve of the global launch.
Caritas Internationalis invited its 164 member organizations and local churches to pray for an end to hunger and malnutrition as well as to act on a local, national or global level against food waste and promote food access and security worldwide.
Nearly 1 billion people -- or about one in eight people -- experienced chronic hunger or undernourishment during 2010-2012, according to the Caritas website.
"One of the worst sounds a parent can hear is their child crying at night tormented by hunger. Many parents living in poverty hear this cry and yet they have no food to give them," Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, president of Caritas Internationalis, said in a video message.
"There is enough food to feed the planet. We believe that with your help and the help of governments and the U.N. we can end hunger by 2025," he said.
Caritas is urging Catholics to take a few moments at noon Dec. 10 to join the world in praying against hunger as well as engage in long-term action through raising awareness, advocacy, charitable work or other efforts supporting food security.
The right to food is part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the "Food For All" launch-date of Dec. 10 marks the U.N.'s Human Rights Day.
The Caritas campaign is calling on the United Nations to hold a session on the right to food at its 2015 General Assembly and is asking governments to guarantee the right to food in national legislation to help alleviate their own citizens' hunger.
The campaign will continue with a "global week of action" in October 2014 with events aimed at pressuring national governments to support laws for the right to food.
In Rome in May 2015, Caritas Internationalis will also host a general assembly of its members' leaders to focus specifically on eradicating hunger.
People can contact their local Caritas organization for more information or the campaign's main site at www.food.caritas.org.
Pope Francis presents a gift to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu during a private audience at the Vatican December 2.
VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel December 2, and discussed prospects for peace in the Middle East and the pope's still-unscheduled trip to the Holy Land.
The two met privately for about 25 minutes in the pope's library.
A statement from the Vatican press office said the leaders discussed the "complex political and social situation in the Middle East, with particular reference to the resumption of negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, hoping that a just and lasting solution may be found as soon as possible."
The pope's plans for a trip to the Holy Land also came up, but the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, told reporters no date had been set. Unofficial reports suggest the trip will be in May or June.
After their private meeting, the prime minister presented the pope with a book about the Spanish Inquisition's persecution of the Jews.
The book, "The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain," was written by the prime minister's father, Benzion Netanyahu, a noted historian who died in 2012 at the age of 102. It argues that Spanish Christians of Jewish origin were persecuted not for any religious deviations but because of racism and envy of their economic success.
The prime minister had inscribed his present, a copy of the book's Spanish edition, "To His Holiness Pope Franciscus, a great shepherd of our common heritage."
Netanyahu also gave Pope Francis a silver menorah, the nine-branched candelabrum used in celebrating the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, sitting on a silver tray with a little silver oil pitcher.
The pope gave Netanyahu a bronze plaque bearing an image of St. Paul.
It was the two men's first meeting, but Netanyahu had met with Blessed John Paul II in 1997 and with Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.
Trinity Catholic High School students loading 6,000 lbs. of food they collected
for Food Banks.
STAMFORD—Trinity Catholic High School was proud to host Bishop Caggiano for the first time as he celebrated the annual Thanksgiving Mass for the students, faculty and staff.
The Bishop’s message to the students was clear—giving thanks to God for all that we have is a vital part of who we are as Catholic Christians and the celebration of the Mass is the greatest prayer of thanks that we can offer.
The Bishop also congratulated the students for once again this year exceeding their annual food drive goal. The goal this year was 4,650 pounds of food—the TCHS community collected 6,000 pounds. Along with this huge donation to the Food Bank, the students also collected 240 boxes of cereal for the St. Joseph Parenting Center in Stamford.
After Mass, the Bishop accompanied by Sister Mary Grace Walsh, Superintendent of Schools, toured the school and had breakfast with the members of TCHS student council.
VATICAN CITY—Does the Obama administration’s plan to relocate the U.S. embassy to the Holy See within the grounds of the American embassy to Italy signify a downgrade in U.S.-Vatican ties?
According to the State Department, the answer is a predictable and emphatic “no.”
“Security is our top priority in making this move,” wrote Shawn Casey Nov. 27 on Dipnote, an official State Department site. The new premises, he argued, will be “safer, bigger, and architecturally more appealing. It also is slightly closer to Vatican City.”
With the shift slated for completion by January 2015, the administration is at pains to point out that it has no plans to close the Holy See embassy, as some reports have suggested.
“Nothing could be farther from the truth,” Casey insisted. “Not only does the United States continue to respect the Holy See as a crucial bilateral partner … but Secretary [John] Kerry, our first Catholic Secretary of State in more than thirty years, is personally inspired by the Church’s work on issues from peace to global poverty, issues at the heart of Catholic social teaching.”
Still, that is not how some previous ambassadors to the Holy See—both Republican and Democrat—are viewing it. Former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See James Nicholson said the embassy’s planned move to the grounds of the U.S. Embassy to Italy is “another manifestation of the antipathy of this administration both to Catholics and to the Vatican—and to Christians in the Middle East.”
“This is a key post for intermediation in so many sovereignties but particularly in the Middle East,” Nicholson told CatholicVote.org. “This is anything but a good time to diminish the stature of this post. To diminish the stature of this post is to diminish its influence.”
Nicholson, who served as ambassador from 2001-2005 under President George W. Bush, said that the State Department has sought for years to relocate the embassy. “It came up when I was an ambassador. I explained the folly of this and it went away. But now they seem determined to do this,” he said.
Raymond Flynn, who served as President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to the Holy See, saw the move as leading eventually to possible closure. "It’s not just those who bomb churches and kill Catholics in the Middle East who are our antagonists, but it’s also those who restrict our religious freedoms and want to close down our embassy to the Holy See," he told the National Catholic Reporter.
Members of Rome’s diplomatic community contacted by the Register have mixed feelings about the move. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one senior official said he felt the administration was making a mistake at a time when Pope Francis is so popular among electorates, and President Barack Obama is under fire domestically following the botched Obamacare rollout.
“I think the administration will back down,” he said. “The move looks weak at a time when Obama is weak.”
But another senior diplomat was more positive, seeing the move as a sensible policy when budgets are tight and security is paramount.
“Most of our work takes place at our residences anyway, and that isn’t affected by this,” he said, as the administration has committed to maintaining a separate residence for the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. “Their new offices will also be larger and better equipped, so I don’t see any problem.”
Indeed, he suggested much of the opposition to the move was being whipped up by Republicans as a stick with which to beat the Obama administration.
Vatican officials are publicly unconcerned by the plans even though only three of the diplomatic missions to the Holy See in Rome are on the same compound as their embassies to Italy. The rest of those in the city are separate, in order to respect the Vatican’s sovereignty.
The British Precedent
But the Obama administration’s plans are somewhat reminiscent of what happened to the British embassy to the Holy See in 2006.
Britain’s then-Labour government was also looking to cut costs and saw its embassy to the Holy See as a prime target. Officials in London were unable to understand its significance, not least its valuable role as a “listening post” with an extensive network of contacts around the world.
Were it not for parliamentary pressure and some clever resistance from its serving ambassador, the embassy could well have closed altogether, as happened with Ireland’s embassy to the Holy See a few years later.
Using the argument of “enhanced security,” the British Foreign Office did succeed in moving the premises of its embassy from the center of Rome—which admittedly was rather vulnerable—to converted old stables in the compound of Britain’s embassy to Italy.
But British officials wanted to go even further, and relocate the Holy See ambassador’s residence to an annex of the British ambassador to Italy’s residence, as well as starve the Vatican embassy of staff and resources. Those attempts failed, partly due to protests by the Vatican.
At the time, diplomats in Rome feared a precedent was being set, and that other embassies would follow suit in a bid to cut costs. In 2006, only Israel had both embassies on the same grounds. After Britain’s move, the Netherlands did the same, and Ireland closed theirs altogether, ostensibly because of the fallout over the clerical abuse scandals in the country.
But the most serious controversy doesn’t currently concern the U.S. or these other embassies, but rather the Canadian one.
Canada’s embassy to the Holy See has been so downgraded recently that Ottawa is unable to find an ambassador willing to take up the position. One candidate was ready to take up the role but when he heard what the terms were, he was said to be shocked at how basic they were.
For the past year, the mission has been without a serving ambassador and is currently being run by a charge d’affaires out of Madrid.
Rome’s diplomatic community sees the cutbacks as bizarre, especially because in February the Canadian government opened an Office for Religious Freedom. “It’s simply scandalous and very difficult to understand,” said one senior diplomatic source, “but it says something about Canada’s approach to foreign affairs.”
He also fears such actions point to a growing trend. “The Holy See need to be careful this doesn’t catch on,” he said. “Some are predicting there won’t be any independent located embassies to the Holy See in ten years’ time.”
All of which may partly explain why, after a relative fall in the Holy See’s diplomatic standing in recent years, Pope Francis is filling so many senior Curial positions with well-seasoned Vatican diplomats.
BRIDGEPORT—Kolbe Cathedral Students are participating in the “26 Acts of Kindness” project to honor those who lost their lives last December 14 to senseless violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Students crocheted scarves for homeless shelters (385), collected 634 canned food items for food pantries and created 300 greeting cards for Veterans. Simple acts of kindness will continue for 26 consecutive school days. We are joining other schools, particularly those members of the SWConference to honor and remember.
The Passing On Kindness Ministry began at KCHS seven years ago; one teacher taught several students to crochet. In turn, those students taught others until hundreds of scarves were crocheted. After they are blessed at the Thanksgiving Liturgy, they are delivered to homeless shelters, hospitals, soup kitchens and other places serving the poor and the marginalized. This year, the ministry became one of the school’s 26 Acts of Kindness!
Two little Caroline House preschoolers hold a piggy bank with their mommy
BRIDGEPORT—Many of us in the United States have been taught at an early age the importance of saving money and that your local bank is a trusted friend.
For many immigrants though, their national economy and banking systems aren’t as trustworthy and many immigrants need to be introduced to the banks in the United States.
Wells Fargo Store Manager Justin Ramsteck and Banking Associate Marlene’s Jones gave an hour-long presentation to the students of Caroline House on “Banking 101”. The students were taught how to open an account, how the money can grow with interest and that a bank is a safe place to keep their money.
Justin Ramsteck said; “Wells Fargo is committed to serving our community. We truly appreciate what Caroline House does and enjoyed speaking to the women about banking and the services Wells Fargo provides that will benefit them.”
Caroline House is a nondenominational education center teaching literacy and life skills to economically disadvantaged immigrant women and children. Since opening its doors 18 years ago, Caroline House has nurtured and educated hundreds of women and children. All programs and services are provided free of charge. Grants, foundations and individual donors provide the financial support for our center. www.thecarolinehouse.org
Wells Fargo of Fairfield runs customized banking education program to teach immigrant women benefits of using the services of their local bank.
FAIRFIELD—St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School community celebrated Thanksgiving by having their annual school-wide food drive.
The Missionaries of Charity in Bridgeport have been selected to be the recipient of this year’s drive.
The Missionaries of Charity was founded by Mother Theresa of Calcutta, and are dedicated to serving the poorest of the poor, both spiritually and with life’s basic necessities. In 2001, the Sisters opened their doors at 599 Beechwood Avenue, Bridgeport, and, since that time, one can feel God’s presence and see God’s work being done there. On Wednesday, November 27, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School held a Thanksgiving Assembly with seasonal music expressing thanks which was presented by each grade. A student from each grade brought.to the altar a representative example of the item that was assigned to their class. The students to realize Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for the many blessings that they have, and that serving others is part of our school foundation and something we as a community like to focus on.
VATICAN—Dreams can be powerful things, especially when articulated by leaders with the realistic capacity to translate them into action.
That was the case 50 years ago with Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech, and it also seems to be the ambition of Pope Francis' bold new apostolic exhortation, "The Joy of the Gospel."
In effect, the 224-page document, titled in Latin Evangelii Gaudium and released by the Vatican Tuesday, is a vision statement about the kind of community Francis wants Catholicism to be: more missionary, more merciful, and with the courage to change.
Francis opens with a dream.
"I dream of a 'missionary option,' " Francis writes, "that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the church's customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today's world, rather than for her self-preservation."
In particular, Francis calls for a church marked by a special passion for the poor and for peace.
NCR's work is possible thanks to the generosity of people like you. Please donate today. The theme of change permeates the document. The pope says rather than being afraid of "going astray," what the church ought to fear instead is "remaining shut up within structures that give us a false sense of security, within rules that make us harsh judges" and "within habits that make us feel safe."
Though Francis released an encyclical letter titled Lumen Fidei in June, that text was based largely on a draft prepared by Benedict XVI. "The Joy of the Gospel," designed as a reflection on the October 2012 Synod of Bishops on new evangelization, thus represents the new pope's real debut as an author.
Early reaction suggests it's a tour de force.
The text comes with Francis' now-familiar flashes of homespun language. Describing an upbeat tone as a defining Christian quality, for instance, he writes that "an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!"
At another point, Francis insists that "the church is not a tollhouse." Instead, he says, "it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone." At another point, he quips that "the confessional must not be a torture chamber," but rather "an encounter with the Lord's mercy which spurs us to on to do our best."
Francis acknowledges that realizing his dream will require "a reform of the church," stipulating that "what I am trying to express here has a programmatic significance and important consequences."
Though he doesn't lay out a comprehensive blueprint for reform, he goes beyond mere hints to fairly blunt indications of direction:
He calls for a "conversion of the papacy," saying he wants to promote "a sound decentralization" and candidly admitting that in recent years "we have made little progress" on that front.
He suggests that bishops' conferences ought to be given "a juridical status ... including genuine doctrinal authority." In effect, that would amount to a reversal of a 1998 Vatican ruling under John Paul II that only individual bishops in concert with the pope, and not episcopal conferences, have such authority.
Francis says the Eucharist "is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak," insisting that "the doors of the sacraments" must not "be closed for simply any reason." His language could have implications not only for divorced and remarried Catholics, but also calls for refusing the Eucharist to politicians or others who do not uphold church teaching on some matters.
He calls for collaborative leadership, saying bishops and pastors must use "the means of participation proposed in the Code of Canon Law and other forms of pastoral dialogue, out of a desire to listen to everyone and not simply to those who would tell him what he would like to hear."
Francis criticizes forces within the church who seem to lust for "veritable witch hunts," asking rhetorically, "Whom are we going to evangelize if this is the way we act?"
He cautions against "ostentatious preoccupation" for liturgy and doctrine as opposed to ensuring that the Gospel has "a real impact" on people and engages "the concrete needs of the present time."
On two specific matters, however, Francis rules out change: the ordination of women to the priesthood, though he calls for "a more incisive female presence" in decision-making roles, and abortion.
Francis says the church's defense of unborn life "cannot be expected to change" because it's "closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right."
The pope's toughest language comes in a section of the document arguing that solidarity with the poor and the promotion of peace are constituent elements of what it means to be a missionary church.
Francis denounces what he calls a "crude and naïve trust" in the free market, saying that left to its own devices, the market too often fosters a "throw-away culture" in which certain categories of people are seen as disposable. He rejects what he describes as an "invisible and almost virtual" economic "tyranny."
Specifically, Francis calls on the church to oppose spreading income inequality and unemployment, as well as to advocate for stronger environmental protection and against armed conflict.
In the end, "The Joy of the Gospel" amounts to a forceful call for a more missionary Catholicism in the broadest sense. The alternative, Francis warns, is not pleasant.
"We do not live better when we flee, hide, refuse to share, stop giving and lock ourselves up in our own comforts," he writes. "Such a life is nothing less than slow suicide."
Editor's note: Excerpts of Evangelii Gaudium will be posted to The Francis Chronicles over the next few days, and watch the NCR Today and Distinctly Catholic blogs for commentary on the apostolic exhortation.
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Supreme Court agreed November 26 to take up two cases that challenge provisions of the Affordable Care Act requiring employers to provide contraceptive coverage on behalf of for-profit companies whose owners object to the mandate for religious reasons.
Probably in March, the court will take up the cases of Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma-based, family-run arts-and-crafts chain, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a Pennsylvania family-run company that makes cabinets.
The cases will be combined for the arguments. A decision is likely by late June.
At issue in both cases will be First Amendment arguments that a federal requirement that the owners of the companies provide insurance coverage they morally oppose violates the owners' Free Exercise rights as well as their rights under a 1993 law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, was pleased with the court's decision to take up these cases.
In a November 26 statement he said the review "highlights the importance of this conflict between the federal government and people seeking to practice their faith in daily life."
"We pray that the Supreme Court will find that the Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protect everyone's right to religious freedom. We are encouraged by the advances in the lower federal courts so far in cases involving family-owned companies as well as non-profit religious organizations."
In Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, the Green family won a ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said their Hobby Lobby chain of more than 500 stores and Mardel, a chain of 35 Christian bookstores, could proceed with seeking an injunction protecting the companies from meeting parts of the contraceptive mandate issued by the Department of Health and Human Services as part of the health care law.
Both the Justice Department and the Greens asked the Supreme Court to review the case.
The government requires most employers' health plans to include free coverage of contraceptives, sterilizations and some abortion-inducing drugs.
The Greens say they object to that part of the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate requiring they provide emergency contraceptive coverage -- such as the morning-after pill or Plan B -- saying that violates their religious freedom. The family has no moral objection to covering "preventive contraceptives" and will continue to cover those for employees, they have said.
The court agreeing to hear their case is "a major step for the Greens and their family businesses in an important fight for Americans' religious liberty," said Kyle Duncan, general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead lawyer for Hobby Lobby.
"We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will clarify once and for all that religious freedom in our country should be protected for family business owners like the Greens," he said in a statement.
The second case, Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius, is an appeal by the Hahn family, the Mennonite owners, of a 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that they had to comply with the contraceptive coverage requirement. The circuit court ruled that as a for-profit, secular corporation, Conestoga Wood and its owners are not protected by the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment.
In its petition for the Supreme Court to review its case, Conestoga Wood argued that the 3rd Circuit's decision conflicts with rulings by other circuit courts that recognized religious rights of for-profit corporations.
The 1993 law, known as RFRA, says that the government "shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion" unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest." The legal question raised in the case is whether RFRA protects a for-profit company from having to provide a benefit to which employees are entitled under federal law but to which the owners have religious objections.
The companies also raised the Free Exercise clause as a defense in arguing the mandate infringes on the employers' right to be free from government interference with their religious beliefs. The argument cites the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United that found a corporate free speech right to participate in the political process through campaign contributions.
The HHS mandate includes an exemption for some religious employers that fit its criteria and has an accommodation for others allowing some employers to use a third-party to provide the contraceptive coverage they find objectionable, but Catholic entities that have brought the lawsuits say the accommodation still does not solve their problem over being involved in providing coverage they reject for moral reasons.
The mandate does not include a conscience clause for employers who object to such coverage on moral grounds.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Thanksgiving is a time of year that finds most of us coming home to our families to celebrate our blessings in life. It’s also a time that we think of families that are struggling both spiritually and financially.
As I write this note, I am very pleased to say that so many people throughout the diocese are taking steps now to ensure that no one is left out or left alone on Thanksgiving. Volunteers and staff at our houses of hospitality in Bridgeport, Stamford and Danbury are preparing to serve their traditional Thanksgiving meal to the poor, elderly and homeless, while many of our parishes, schools and ministries are collecting canned goods and stocking their own food pantries to help feed families.
Thanksgiving also reminds us that we should always be grateful to God for our lives and talents. At every Mass, we pray, “It is right to give Him thanks and praise.” Let us be happy that Christ has shared His life with us, and in our gratitude, let us continue to serve in love and charity.
May the blessings of the Lord be with you and your family as you gather for Thanksgiving.
The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano,
Bishop of Bridgeport
From left: Anthony Magi, Erik Hoffer, Jonathan Rodrigues, and Peter Antonicelli
FAIRFIELD—The Squires Club sponsored Fairfield Prep's annual Thanksgiving Food Drive, which successfully collected hundreds of bags of much-needed food.
The club members filled a large van with food supplies for Action for Bridgeport Community Development, Inc. ABCD provides Thanksgiving dinner for 2,000 families annually. Representatives of the Squires Club getting ready to load the vans.
FAIRFIELD—With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, there have been three examples of the goodness of Notre Dame High School students and faculty in the past week.
The students pitched in to help the troops, feed the hungry and help those struggling with illness.
Tracie Marko, ND’s Director of Advancement, reports that students recently heeded a request from the Columbiettes, the women’s auxiliary group of the Knights of Columbus. The organization had put out a call for Christmas cards to be sent to our troops serving overseas.
“Thanks to the efforts of our staff and students, over 400 Christmas cards will be turned over to the Columbiettes to accompany packages being sent to the brave men and women protecting our nation and the freedoms of others around the world this holiday season,” she said.
The students also put their generosity to work on Thursday when hundreds of turkeys were dropped off in the morning cold, along with boxes upon boxes of food items, all to be given to Sister Theresa and the Daughters of Charity in Bridgeport. From faculty, parents, students and alumni, well over 200 frozen turkeys were donated to help to make the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday a special day for those enjoying the donated food.
An official donation in the amount of $1,501.00 was made to the American Cancer Society (click here for photo). Thanks to a dress down day in October and the collection efforts made at a recent home football game, a check was given to Kelly Stewart of the ACS, as part of the Crucial Catch fight against breast cancer campaign.
Another check will be presented thanks to the efforts of the students and faculty members who donated $10 each as part of the November campaign. The men participating in this campaign are not shaving (or are growing a mustache) with the money raised again benefiting the fight against cancer.
WASHINGTON, DC—Beginning the Church's liturgical year, Advent (from, "ad-venire" in Latin or "to come to") is the season encompassing the four Sundays (and weekdays) leading up to the celebration of Christmas.
Advent is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas. The final days of Advent, from December 17 to December 24, focus particularly on our preparation for the celebrations of the Nativity of our Lord (Christmas).
Bishop Caggiano and our St. Philip Norwalk Youth Group.
Bishop Caggiano was speaker at National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) held Nov. 22-24 in Indianapolis, IN. For story by Catholic News Service click here. Check out our Facebook pages FairfieldCountyCatholics and BridgeportDiocese for updates from our Diocese of Bridgeport Youth! Twitter follow @DOByouth or check our Youth Page at www.bridgeportdiocese.com/youth
The National Catholic Youth Conference is an exciting, biennial three-day experience of prayer, community, and empowerment for Catholic teenagers and their adult chaperones. The schedule includes keynote addresses, concurrent and workshop sessions addressing a wide variety of topics. There are also opportunities for liturgy, reconciliation, prayer and worship, service, and special activities such as concerts, exhibits, and the interactive thematic park.
President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy arrive
at Love Field in Dallas November 22, 1963. (CNS/courtesy
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum)
JEFFERSON CITY—The late Vincentian Father Oscar Huber, a native of Perryville in the St. Louis Archdiocese, was a hard-working, dedicated pastor who made many friends throughout his years of faithful ministry.
The priest, who died in 1975, is still remembered for all that. And for one other thing. A Dallas pastor at the time, he administered last rites to President John F. Kennedy, after an assassin's bullet November 22, 1963, brought down the nation's 35th president and he lay mortally wounded at Parkland Hospital.
Father Huber also prayed with and comforted first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, but the priest never said much about that time in the years that followed, according to his nephew Father Oscar Lukefahr, also a Vincentian, who was inspired by his uncle's priesthood to join the same order.
"He was not the kind of person who enjoyed being in the limelight," Father Lukefahr once told The Catholic Missourian, newspaper of the Jefferson City Diocese.
"If people asked questions about it, he answered cautiously. He didn't go around saying, 'I was the one who anointed the president.' He was simply a priest who did his job, and that was that," said Father Lukefahr.
He made those comments in an interview with the Catholic paper in 2008, the 45th anniversary of Kennedy's death. Father Lukefahr was then and still is a regular columnist for The Catholic Missourian.
As the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, Father Huber's name may not be as familiar as many others who have become part of the public memory of those dark days, but a January 2007 issue of the Southwestern Historical Quarterly recounted how Father Huber, then pastor of Holy Trinity Parish, walked several blocks from his church to see the president's motorcade.
Believing that the nation's first Catholic president, who was traveling in an open-topped limousine, had spotted his Roman collar and waved to him, Father Huber returned to his rectory to tell his friends what had happened.
"It was a thrilling moment for me," he was quoted as saying.
A while later, Vincentian Father James N. Thompson, associate pastor, told Father Huber that the president had been shot. Both immediately left for the hospital, which was three miles away and located with the parish boundaries.
According to an article in the Dec. 1, 1963, issue of The Catholic Missourian, Father Huber was admitted to the emergency room to administer last rites to the president.
Father Huber was quoted by the National Catholic Welfare Conference News Service, predecessor of Catholic News Service, as saying he administered the rites of absolution and extreme unction (now known as anointing of the sick) conditionally, "except Communion, which the president could not receive."
The priest said the rites were "conditional" because he didn't know for sure whether the president was alive at the time, but that he did not appear to be breathing.
News stories from 1963 said others in the emergency room, including Mrs. Kennedy, joined the priest as he prayed the Our Father and the Hail Mary.
"She graciously thanked me and asked me to pray for the president. She appeared shocked," Father Huber told the news service.
Father Lukefahr told The Catholic Missourian that his uncle later told him how impressed he was with the first lady's strength and courage.
A seminarian in 1963, Father Lukehfahr said that "whenever it came up in conversation -- and I respected his desire for privacy by never interrogating him about it -- he mostly talked about how he prayed with Jackie, and what a wonderful person she was -- very dignified and strong."
Growing up in Perryville, young Oscar Huber stayed out of school to manage the family farm while his elder brother went away to dental school.
At the age of 28, Oscar entered the Vincentian minor seminary in Perryville. He completed the high school curriculum in two years, moving on to the Vincentian novitiate and college seminary, completing those studies in three years instead of the typical four.
After being ordained in 1931, Father Huber went on to serve at parishes in Missouri, including Kansas City, and San Antonio before moving to the Dallas parish. He was pastor there from 1959 to 1968.
"He was the kind of pastor who could do those kinds of things and do them well," Father Lukefahr told The Catholic Missourian. "He was a good administrator, and he cared a lot about people. I never heard anyone complain about him."
After Dallas, Father Huber moved to a parish near St. Louis and spent his last two years back in his hometown, at the Vincentian retirement home in Perryville.
He died in 1975, leaving to his nephew the chalice he had taken to Parkland Hospital.
- - -
Nies is editor of The Catholic Missourian, newspaper of the Diocese of Jefferson City, Mo.
Originally Published in The Hour, Nowalk by Keith Loria
FAIRFIELD -- When the Mill River Band formed in Fairfield 10 years ago, the band mates were looking for something fun to do and found rock music to be the perfect compliment to their day jobs--which included everything from a teacher to a doctor to a lawyer.
"I started this as a way to take advantage of some of the talent I knew of, and we wanted to do something that would move us and the audiences that we played for, both emotionally and spiritually," says Jim Schanck, the band's lead guitarist. "We play familiar songs that everyone grew up with--the Beatles, The Band, The Grateful Dead--it's a lot of fun."
Today, the band consists of Schanck, Michael Jacob on drums, Mike Dougherty on bass and vocals, John Burlinson on acoustic guitar and vocals, Tom "Doc" Abrahamsen on guitar, harmonica and vocals, Chuch Chesler on keyboards and accordion, and Doug Bernstein on sax. The musicians have played with iconic names like Bruce Springsteen, Levon Helm, Sam Moore and Joe Cocker.
In addition to playing great music, the Mill River band is never at a loss for helping out a good cause. On Friday, Nov. 22, the Fairfield Theatre Company will present Rock Out Hunger with The Mill River Band, benefiting The Thomas Merton Center, a program of Catholic Charities of Connecticut.
The Thomas Merton campus was founded in 1974 by a group of concerned individuals who saw a need for services to the economically disadvantaged people in the city of Bridgeport.
Over the years, as the needs of the people the campus served changed, it has expanded its offerings to develop programs that address issues such as housing, nutritional needs, healthcare needs, parenting issues and youth at risk. Today, it helps more than 250 people a day.
"I don't think the average person knows how prominent hunger is in this country. The people struggling are not just the homeless," Schanck says. "The Merton Center does amazing things right in our backyard so I thought it was time to take notice and do something this time of year."
A pre-concert reception will be held at 6:30 p.m., with the concert following at 8:30 p.m. This is the second Rock for Hunger event, after a successful launch last year by the nonprofit's board.
"We used to have one fundraiser a year--a celebrity breakfast in June--but with the economic climate, we realized less money was going to nonprofits and it became apparent to us that we needed to hold more," says Bonnie Candee, the event's organizer. "As we were thinking of what to do, a friend of the director of the center--who was very involved in the music industry--gave us items to auction off at events."
The items were one-of-a-kind collectables from the music world, and they seemed ill-suited to be auctioned at a breakfast. Thus, the idea for the concert fundraiser was born.
This year, the bar has been raised on the auction items. A silent auction will include items such as an original framed poster promoting The Beatles' famed concert at Shea Stadium on August 23, 1966, signed by Sid Bernstein, promoter of the event; and two Rolling Stones posters from the early '70s.
A live auction will also take place during the concert of three signed guitars. There's a Harmony acoustic guitar with pick guard signed by Willie Nelson, a Hohner acoustic guitar with pick guard signed by James Taylor and a Fender Squire Stratocaster electric guitar with pick guard signed by Johnny Winter.
"These are some special items and all the money goes to a great cause," Candee says. "The night will be a lot of fun and we are looking forward to another great success."
Tickets for the concert and pre-concert reception are $100, the concert only is $50 and available at www.fairfieldtheatre.org.
Richard Pulga died five days after Typhoon Haiyan rampaged across the fragile lands called the Philippines. In another time, another place, the healthy 27-year-old still would be alive.
Richard Pulga is a prophet. You can say all you want about climate change and greed and poverty. But the life and death of this Filipino farmer gives strongest evidence of the three.
If you've turned a deaf ear to climate change, turn around and listen up. The greenhouse effect they talk about is real. The sun shines away and heats the earth -- more when the sky is clear, but even when it is not. The fuels we use make smoke and smog that wrap a blanket around the earth. It keeps the heat from going out to space. The world is getting hotter, and the weather is more dangerous.
Greed comes to every human heart in one way or another. No matter what, we want more of it: more money, more food, more space, more time, and more power, even as none of these fills our needs. We grasp at each and hold on tenaciously, unable to share the penny or the piece of bread. We want room to move around in. We want leisure. And we want control. But more for the almighty "me" can mean less for somebody else, immediately or eventually.
So poverty crouches at every turn of life, waiting for the smallest opening to set its teeth into the private cycle of birth and death. It grabs on someplace -- a hand, a mind, a back, a leg -- and it does not let go. When it comes to us, we may not see it coming. When it comes to someone else, we may not notice.
So with Richard Pulga, who sent his wife and children on to safer ground as wind and water threatened all he had: rice fields on 2 acres, some coconut trees and a little house. He stayed there as the tempest wound its gnarled hand around a coconut and hurled it at his leg.
The storm left. They patched him up and got him to a hospital. He lay there on a metal gurney in the hall, awaiting help. He got the most attention from The New York Times.
You know the rest of the story. It circled the globe like a moon reflecting poverty, greed and climate change back on all of us. Pulga got nothing but a saline drip for five days. They did not clean him. They did not clean his wound, an infected bleeding compound fracture of the lower leg that slowly drove his body into septic shock.
Pulga died with his wife weeping that she wanted to bring him home, a home that is gone. He died because at the first hospital, they told his aunt who had no money she should just take him away. He died because they could not save him at the next hospital, the one where they cut off this strong man's leg.
He died with doctors saying he did not have to die, that his death could have been prevented.
What is this simple prophet telling us?
The Philippines' 7,107 islands float in the Pacific Ring of Fire, where typhoons often come. There, 98 million people's lives mirror the flora and fauna. Some are rich, very rich. Some are simple. Some are more than poor.
No matter, rich or poor: The storm took no prisoners as it washed away buildings, dreams and families. The numbers tell only part of the story. In a small town, they buried 27 members of one family alone.
Yes, world governments have sent ships and planes and helicopters. Yes, their navies and armies are dropping water, food and medicine.
But where are the voices of reason? Where are the voices that blame air pollution caused by cheaper means of making heat or steel? Where are the voices that blame the faster cars that let more people with more money ride alone? Where are the voices that blame concentrations of power that favor themselves?
Unlike the prophet Jeremiah, Richard Pulga did not need to bury a linen belt to learn that everything is fragile. He did not need to smash a clay jar to convince us things are passing. Yet like his brother Jeremiah, he has taught us more than we want to know about our individual and our corporate weaknesses. Can we learn? Will we?
Phyllis Zagano is senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University and author of several books in Catholic studies. Her newest book is Mysticism and the Spiritual Quest: A Crosscultural Anthology (Paulist Press), and her recent books include Women & Catholicism (Palgrave-Macmillan), Women in Ministry: Emerging Questions about the Diaconate (Paulist Press) and Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future (with Gary Macy and William T. Ditewig, Paulist Press). She will speak March 13 at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Mo.
Terry O'Connor, Executive Director of the Cardinal Shehan Center,
and Bridgeport Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, congratulate Kolbe
Cathedral High School sophomore Marcus Hickey after he spoke
to the gathering of over 400 at the celebrity breakfast. Marcus said
that he grew up at the Shehan Center and that it has played an
important role in his learning and personal development.
BRIDGEPORT—Beyond its recreational and education programs, the Cardinal Shehan Center offers young people “something precious and intangible that is their right as children of God,” Bishop Frank Caggiano said at the 26th Annual Celebrity Breakfast of the Cardinal Shehan Center held at the Downtown Holiday Inn.
“The word is ‘community,’ a place where children are nurtured, accepted and known by their name,” said the Bishop at the breakfast which raised over $65,000 for the youth center’s after-school and Saturday programs.
Speaking to a gathering of more than 400 men and women business and civic leaders, Bishop Caggiano said many young people today are deprived of the community support that adults received in their youth.
The Bishop said that when he grew up in Gravesend Brooklyn he didn’t have a brother, but he had seven friends that formed a band of brothers who played stick ball in the street and looked out for one another. The eyes and ears of parents and other adults were also constantly watching over them.
“I had one mother but I also had 50 mothers because everyone on the block knew who I was and I couldn’t escape,” he said to laughter about his description of his boyhood days.
“If you grew up in Brooklyn or in Bridgeport at one time, you had the privilege of having that community,” he said, noting that community life “has been replaced” for many of the young by neighborhoods that are anonymous and indifferent to their welfare.
He thanked those in attendance for supporting the Cardinal Shehan Center and for working toward a community “where children feel safe and a sense of belonging and are mentored and challenged.”
He said that true community for children is not simply keeping them busy but “coming together with purpose and embracing nobler values to serve one another for the common good.”
He said his vision for the future of the diocese “is one of hope, growth and vitality, and young people are a the center of this vision. The Lord will guide us and places like the Shehan Center will help to make this vision a reality.”
During the breakfast, Kolbe Cathedral High School sophomore Marcus Dickey was honored as the Youth Speaker. He told the gathering that he “grew up at the Shehan Center and it has played a huge role in my life.”
Douglas Turnage, a corporate revenue analyst for Unilever, accepted a volunteer award on behalf of the Trumbull company, which provides consumer goods and personal care products. Turnage, who volunteers at the Shehan Center along with other Unilever employees, described the young center as “an amazing place that has done so much for so many. If you’re looking to give back to the community this is the place to do it.”
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch welcomed Bishop Caggiano as “bridge builder” in the community and said that the Cardinal Shehan Center has served generations of Bridgeport youth with programs that help them move in positive direction.
The Cardinal Shehan Center is a non-profit organization located in Bridgeport, CT. For 50 years the Center has served the recreational, educational, and social needs of moderate and low-income families and young people of lower Fairfield County, particularly inner city Bridgeport. Its mission is “enriching lives through learning” through After School & Saturday Youth Development Program, Summer Day Camp, various basketball and softball leagues, Physical Education classes to grammar schools, and alternative education programs. It is located at 1494 Main Street. For information call 203-336-4468. Online: www.shehancenter.org
St. Rose volunteers unload contributions into the Knights of Columbus building for sorting. Photo by Fred Dwyer
NEWTOWN—The St. Rose of Lima Social Concerns Committee, with the support of the Knights of Columbus Council 185, held a Thanksgiving food drive in mid November.
The turnout was exceptional. A large landscaper’s-style box trailer was filled with non-perishables by noon on Sunday, and even more was collected Sunday evening. All the food was sorted and shelved, primarily by young people from the parish. The food is being distributed to several local families, the F.A.I.T.H. Food Pantry, Newtown Social Services and nine other social service organizations from Bridgeport to Danbury. The Saturday before Thanksgiving a number of volunteers will load their vans and SUV’s to make the deliveries. Photos by Fred Dwyer: Young St. Rose volunteers unpack, sort and shelve a mountain of food.
During the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Nov. 11-14 General Assembly in Baltimore, two bishops took time to share a simple supper – soup and bread – and dialogue with about 20 Catholic social justice and peace activists, including myself.
On the evening of Nov. 12, several blocks away from the Waterfront Marriott Hotel, where the bishops were meeting, Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis and Bishop John Michael Botean head of the Romanian Catholic Eparchy (diocese) of St. George in Canton, Ohio sat down with us to dialogue about war making, peacemaking, poverty and military chaplains in light of the teachings of the compassionate, nonviolent Jesus.
In the basement of historic St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, Martha Hennessy, a granddaughter of Dorothy Day said, “Based on my understanding of my grandmother’s life, I would conclude that priests should not serve in the military, as one cannot serve Christ and the chain of command at the same time. Part of a chaplain's job is to make soldiers feel OK about doing their job, which is to kill, which Christ said we can't do.”
And Hennessy added that Dorothy Day would not have approved of the earlier bishops’ dinner hosted by the Archdiocese for the Military Services – with military recruiters lobbying the bishops to send more chaplains.
She thought her grandmother would have said the bishops are being complicit with the permanent war economy.
Bishop Botean, who during the Iraq war courageously and prophetically wrote that the war was "objectively grave evil, a matter of mortal sin," said unfortunately the culture has more of an influence on the church than the Gospel. He added, “It takes a lot of vision to see the simple message of Jesus in the Gospel.”
He said, “Our ‘yes’ to the Gospel has gotten weaker because other interests have made their way into church thinking, causing a fog around the Gospel. Since Christianity’s legalization by the Roman emperor Constantine, church and state are largely seen as one.” And sadly, the church has been defending empires ever since – “accepting homicidal violence.”
Bishop Botean said, “We need your prayers and witness, if the people lead, the leaders will follow.”
Archbishop Tobin shared an inspiring story told by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu during a speech in Indianapolis.
He said when the Dutch came to South Africa, they had bibles and we had the land. They asked us to close our eyes and pray. When we opened our eyes, they had the land and we had the bibles.
But that was their big mistake, to give oppressed people the word of God. Because the word of God teaches that we have God-given worth and dignity, and that God desires our liberation from all that oppresses us.
Archbishop Tobin said the most powerful word spoken to injustice is “No!”
We asked Archbishop Tobin and Bishop Botean why the bishops during their annual meetings were not praying and dialoging about how faithful or unfaithful of a witness they were giving – in light of our highly militaristic and unjust economy – to the nonviolent Jesus who always sided with the poor and oppressed.
They said that they weren’t sure. And that they weren’t sure how to encourage this radical dialogue to happen. But they said they would try. Words of hope from two humble bishops earnestly striving to challenge America’s war machine and system of economic injustice.
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.
Photo (l-r) Lieutenant Stephan Donahue, J.G., Sergeant Mike Benedetto, Bernard Capodagli, Gus Markoja, Corporal Paul Magnano, Lou Nocero, and Gregory Martire
FAIRFIELD—Each year, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School gathers as a school community to acknowledge and honor Veterans Day.
This year was no different. After the Star Spangled Banner and the Pledge of Allegiance, St. Thomas’s pastor, Fr. Victor Martin, who served as a U.S. Air Force Chaplain, opened the assembly with a beautiful prayer and a reminder that when you see someone in uniform you should make it a point to thank them for serving.
School Principal Patricia Brady then welcomed everyone and pointed out that our school is open because of the sacrifice of our men and women veterans who fought to ensure our freedom to practice our faith. The school choir entertained us with patriotic songs that made one feel proud to be an American.
This year’s guest speaker was Lieutenant Stephen Donahue, J.G. U.S. Navy. Lt. Donahue’s message was clear: He told the assembly that it was an honor to have served his country, and that everyone should take time out to educate themselves on wars and the armed forces, and to explore the opportunity to serve one’s country. Lt. Donahue attributes his personal success to the experience he gained in the U.S. Navy. Besides Lt. Donahue, the gathered assembly was honored to have the following additional veterans in attendance, all of whom stood united and proud along with Lt. Donahue: Gregory Martire U.S. Army, Special Operations; Corporal Paul Magnano, U.S. Marine Corps; Robert Korchman, U.S. Marine Corps; Lou Nocero, U.S. Navy Seabee; Sergeant Mike Benedetto, U.S. Marine Corps; and Alex Fucci, U.S. Army.
“It is vital that we teach our children to give the respect that our armed forces deserve, and to remind them of the sacrifice that our veterans make so that we can live in freedom,” says Principal Brady.
FAIRFIELD—The fourth grade at Assumption Catholic School spent the month of October collecting food and toiletries for the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Their collection will go to soldiers in the most difficult to reach places, where regular donations do not often reach. The fourth grade class, under the direction their teacher, Amy Meyers, has taken on this volunteer project for the past three years. The school families have been very generous to their cause. This year they will send five boxes of much needed items to the troops.
FAIRFIELD—“It’s all about love,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in his keynote speech at the Catechetical Congress.
“You have to foster, create, allow the Lord in his awesome beauty to touch you, and for you to love him back. There is a big difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus.”
The Catechetical Congress, a symposium on faith, was held November 16 at Sacred Heart University. Sponsored by the Catechetical Leaders of the Diocese of Bridgeport (CLDB) and the Office for Pastoral Services, it is traditionally held every three years. This year’s Congress drew more than 600 participants. Although it is geared toward people in Church ministry—catechists, youth ministers, RCIA facilitators—the Congress is open to all adults who are interested in deepening and enriching their faith.
A witness talk by Msgr. Robert Weiss, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown, followed Bishop Caggiano’s address. The strength of his faith and his compassion grasped the hearts of listeners as he described the horrific events of December 14, 2012, in Newtown, “A place where things like this…don’t happen.”
“It was like Good Friday—there were mothers crying for their children, their children who had died. These were parents who I married, children who I baptized. We held tight to the foot of the cross, because that was our hope.”
After that intense morning, the theme of the Congress was explored further by nationally known and local speakers who focused on ways to take the experience of faith and pass it on to others. The day ended with Mass, the source and summit of each Catholic’s relationship with Jesus.
“Catechesis never ends,” said Bishop Caggiano. “It’s a lifetime conversation. We echo and re-echo the song of Christ.”
Photo: Mark Conrad. The St Joseph high school girls soccer team
and coaches pose for a team photo after winning the CIAC class LL
girls soccer championship game against Suffield high school played
at Falcon Field, Meriden, CT on Sat., Nov. 16, 2013.
MERIDEN—The coronation of an unbeaten season began with a rush that rattled a normally impenetrable defense.
There was little doubt that anything would throw the dream off-kilter. By the end of yet another victory -- its 22nd in 23 matches -- St. Joseph's girls soccer team lined itself near the 50-yard line at Falcon Field with medals draped around each player's neck. There, they raised a state championship plaque as well, the program's first title in five years.
Paced by goals from Samantha Grasso and Jenna Bike close to two minutes apart in the first half, No. 3 St. Joseph downed top-ranked Suffield 2-1 in the Class LL state championship Saturday morning.
"It's an indescribable feeling not to have lost all season," said Grasso, who was crowned the match's Most Valuable Player.
It was Grasso's goal -- notched with 19:27 left in the first half off a feed from Bike -- that spotted St. Joseph a 1-0 lead. And it was Bike's tally -- only 1:57 later on a breakaway -- that stunned previously unbeaten Suffield (19-1).
"We knew they were great," said Suffield coach David Sullivan, whose team had surrendered only two goals in its previous 19 games. "Did we think we were going to shut them out? No. Did I think we'd give up two goals in the first 20 minutes? Not a chance."
But that's just what the Wildcats did. It was enough to catapult the Cadets (22-0-1) to their third state title and first in Class LL.
The Cadets built a 10-7 advantage in shots, including 6-2 in the first half when they forced Suffield goalkeeper Meredith Ouellette to make two diving stops.
"Our game's about possession. No one all year has dictated a game to us," St. Joseph coach Jack Nogueira said. "We've always dictated a game by hanging onto the ball."
The Cadets, who outscored opponents 9-2 through their first three tournament games, controlled the pace until a frantic, late push by Suffield.
Playing with a bright sun to their backs, the Wildcats sliced into the lead with 9:42 left on Brittany Champagne's blast from the top of the box.
"The sun was going to be so bad. We were trying to take advantage of that," Sullivan said. "But (St. Joseph) did a great job. ... They had five people back."
Desperately needing an equalizer, Suffield put a few more chances on net but was denied by goalkeeper Molly Meehan (two saves).
After the final seconds ticked away, and after St. Joseph huddled near its sideline for one last pep talk, Nogueira discussed how his team might've been better prepared after falling in the M state final last season, 4-1 to Northwest Catholic.
"By being in the finals last year, did it get us better prepared for this year? Maybe," Nogueira said. "Soccer's a game of matchups too. I thought we matched up well with Suffield. Last year, we obviously matched up horribly against Northwest Catholic."
Regardless of the matchup, the players weren't going to let their last match put a damper on a remarkable season, one that also included an FCIAC championship.
"Coming into the game, we were pretty confident that we were going to win," Grasso said. "We had an undefeated season. This was going to be the top."
To the Cadets' delight, it was.
BRIDGEPORT—Catholics throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport can now fill out a questionnaire in response to the request by Pope Francis for widespread lay input on the pastoral care of families within the context of evangelization.
“As many Catholics have heard , the Holy Father called for an Extraordinary Meeting of the Synod of Bishops to discuss the Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization,” said Damien O’Connor, Senior Director of Pastoral Services for the Diocese of Bridgeport.
“The Holy Father’s has sought support from the laity as their input is an extremely important part of this process in addition to those whose ministry involves evangelization of the family,” he said.
The questionnaire has been developed as part of the preparations for the 2014 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops that will explore pastoral challenges to the family in light of contemporary life and significant changes in the number of couples living together, use of birth control, and same sex marriages among other practices.
O’Connor said that questionnaire is not a public opinion survey or poll on contemporary issues, but a serious consultation document.
The papal consultation asks each diocese to answer 39 specific questions and gives individual Catholics the opportunity to answer the same questions. The responses will be collected and forwarded to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops before being sent to the Vatican.
Distribution of the questionnaire was approved at the recent United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Meeting this past week. Their goal is to compile all of the information nationally by the end of this calendar year.
English and Spanish versions of the questionnaire are available on line. Those who answer the questionnaire are also asked to read the Preparatory Document, a beautiful description of Marriage and Family, provided by the Holy See.
The Diocese has asked participants to submit responses via the link provided, by Wednesday, December 11, 2013.
NEW HAVEN—In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan—one of the strongest typhoons in history—which devastated the Philippines, the Knights of Columbus is donating $250,000 to assist in relief efforts in that country.
The New Haven-based Knights of Columbus has strong ties to the Philippines, where it has had a presence since 1905 and today counts hundreds of thousands of members.
“As we work to assist those who have suffered so much in the Philippines, they will also remain in our prayers,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “The Knights of Columbus has a long tradition of charitable service in the Philippines, and our efforts there on behalf of those affected will continue in that spirit. Locally and internationally, we are committed to helping the people of the Philippines rebuild their lives.”
Those seeking to assist with the relief efforts can donate to the Knights of Columbus Charities Philippine Disaster Relief Fund at www.kofc.org/disaster. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Knights of Columbus Charities, Inc., is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a charitable organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code, and 100 percent of all donations collected by Knights of Columbus Charities, Inc., will be used for disaster relief in the Philippines.
Founded in 1882 in New Haven, Conn., the Knights of Columbus is one of the most active charitable organizations in both the United States and the Philippines. Last year, Knights worldwide donated more than $167.5 million and 70 million hours to charitable causes — including donating substantial amounts of money and time to disaster relief following Hurricane Sandy; the explosion in West, Texas; and the Oklahoma tornadoes.
BRIDGEPORT—The Fourth Annual Veterans Day Mass and Ceremony was held at St. Margaret Shrine in Bridgeport on November 11.
Honored guests included American, South Vietnamese, and Italian veterans, Catholic War Veterans of Post 14666, Knights of Columbus Assembly 107 and Council 16, the South Vietnamese Community, and members of St. Margaret’s Holy Name Society, Padre Pio Society, and Altar Guild.
St. Margaret’s is an especially appropriate setting for the Veteran’s Day observance. The idea of St. Margaret Shrine came to Fr. Issiello, the pastor of St. Raphael Parish in Bridgeport, on December 8th 1941, the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He wanted to build a place for people to come to pray for their loved ones going off to war. After the war it became a place for veterans to come and reflect on their war time service, and the friends who never made it home.
Over the years, as those young men grew older, the Shrine began to show its age, too.
“Then came Fr. Alfonso Picone, who had been in the Italian Army Infantry before he became a priest,” says Art Falco, a U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War. Fr. Picone became rector of St. Margaret’s Shrine, which is now independent of St. Raphael’s.
Drawn to the Shrine’s great potential, Fr. Picone began to encourage parish and community groups to get involved in its restoration. Given the Shrine’s emphasis on World Peace, he encouraged communities from all of the area’s ethnic backgrounds to become involved by building memorials.
Along with the Italian Community (St/ Pio), he encouraged the South Vietnamese (Our Lady of La Vang), Portuguese (Our Lady of Fatima), Cubans (Our Lady of Charity), and Mexicans (Our Lady of Guadalupe) to construct memorials honoring the faith of their home countries. The Bridgeport Area Cultural Italian Organization, under the leadership of former Mayor Leonard Paoletta, is presently constructing an indoor “Presepio” or Nativity Scene. Each community with a memorial is represented by their flag at the entrance to the Shrine. There is room to add additional flagpoles for memorials constructed in the future.
In 2009, under Fr. Alfonso’s leadership, the Veteran’s Memorial was built. In 2010 when the memorial was dedicated, the names of 63 veterans who had bricks donated in their honor were read at Mass. “Since then, the names of the new veterans added are read at Mass every Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day,” says Falco, who was in charge of this year’s ceremony.
There are now individual bricks with the names of 173 veterans, living and deceased. Along with veterans from this diocese, veterans from at least four different states—New Hampshire, Ohio, Indiana, and Colorado—and three different countries are represented. Included are five Catholic Chaplains’ who were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Among the South Vietnamese Veterans are the former president and presidential advisor of South Vietnam, and five South Vietnamese generals.
“The Veteran’s Memorial is a special place for South Vietnamese veterans,” says Angelo Coco, a parishioner at St. Margaret’s who helps out at the ceremony every year. “They have nowhere else to honor their dead. They can’t have a memorial in their own country. The Communist Government, which also persecutes Catholics, won’t allow it.”
The memorial is also special for families of U.S. veterans who were MIA, and lost or buried at sea. Since their families don’t have a cemetery to go to, the memorial provides a place where they can come and feel closer to their loved ones.
The celebrant for the Mass was Fr. Picone. The lector was Walter Stasch, a World War II Vet, and former National Commander of the Catholic War Veterans. The homily was given by Deacon Joe Melita, a World War II veteran who served on a bomber crew. Deacon Melita participated in a radar jamming mission on D-Day, and was on one of the first planes to fly over the beaches of Normandy France.
“It’s hard to put all the sacrifices the veterans made into three lines on a brick, so a little bit more about each veteran is read at Mass.” Falco adds.
At the end of Mass, the names of veterans added to the memorial since Memorial Day were read. The names of three new South Vietnamese veterans and those veterans previously installed were read by Gioi Van Tran, president of the Vietnamese American Community of Connecticut and the leader of the South Vietnamese Veterans Honor Guard. The seven U.S. veterans’ names, including Fr. Emil J. Kapaun, awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, posthumously, for his actions in combat and as a prisoner of war during the Korean War, were read by Falco.
After the Mass, the Knights of Columbus Color Corps placed a wreath and Fr. Picone blessed the memorial. The National Anthems and Taps from the three countries were played, followed by Ave Maria on bagpipes.
This Year’s Inductees Are:
Lt. Cao Xuan Ton, S. Vietnamese Army, 1946-1971 An Xuyen
Sgt. Tran Van Nhan, S. Vietnamese Army, 1934-1968 Hue
Sgt. Tran Than, S. Vietnamese Army, 1902-1985 Saigon
James J. Carrano, Sgt. U.S. Army, WWII Purple Heart
Tony Carrano, SPEC 4 U.S. Army, WWII Europe
Richard G. Becker, Petty Officer U.S.N., served 1965-1986
Michael W. Mason, TSGT USAF 40 AARS, UDORN AFB, Thailand 68-69
Mathew Cuminotto Jr., Army Medic 1st CAV, Vietnam 1966-1967
Arthur A. Fionte, PFC U.S. Army WWII, Purple Heart
Thomas L. Kabusk, Sgt. U.S. Marine Corps, Korean War 1951-54
Fr. Emil J. Kapaun, Captain U.S. Army, Medal Of Honor, Korea 1950 (POW)
(Applications for donating bricks honoring a veteran, living or deceased, can be obtained in the front entrance of the St Margaret Chapel, 2523 Park Ave., Bridgeport, or by calling 203.345.3244.)
New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan applauds the election
of Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., as the next
president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops November 12
in Baltimore. Archbishop Kurtz will assume the presidency from
Cardinal Dolan at the end of the U.S. bishops’ annual fall meeting.
NEW YORK—Catholics and their leaders around the world are seeing the impact of what's being called "the Pope Francis effect."
St. Peter's Square is more packed than ever for the pope's weekly appearances and priests say there is a surge of parishioners in the pews, because of the pope's actions.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, told the "CBS This Morning" co-hosts that he sees "the Pope Francis effect" "all the time."
"I can't walk down the streets of our beloved New York without people coming up to me and saying 'Hey, thanks for Pope Francis. You guys did a good job. We love him,'" he said. "I hear from our parish priests, who are always on the front line, they're telling me the crowds at Sunday mass are up, the confession lines are longer, inquiries about the Catholic faith are more abundant and even the collections are going up."
The pope sent a survey to the world's one billion Catholics and asked them for their opinions on many issues including same sex marriage, contraception and divorce. To many, this was seen as unusual to ask for opinions on already supposedly clear church doctrine. Dolan said while the church doctrine is clear on these issues, the pope was asking his followers how the church can be "better."
"What he's asking about is how can we present it better? How can we be more effective at teaching? And how can we reach out with love and compassion to those who find it difficult to live up to church teaching?" he said.
Dolan said that this survey is in preparation for the Synod. A Synod is usually held every two or three years and representatives of the bishops gather with the pope to discuss church issues. Dolan said that this year's meeting will focus on "marriage and family."
"Pope Francis is shrewd—he said that 'the people that know about marriage and family best are—guess who? Husbands and wives, mothers and fathers,'" he said. "So he said to the bishops: 'It's a wise idea to ask them how the church can be more compelling in it's beautiful liberating teaching about the married life and family and it's good to ask them how we can best reach those people that are having trouble accepting the timeless teaching of the faith.' He's a shrewd teacher himself and I'm glad he's done this."
When asked, Dolan said that he "would like to think" that his God sent Pope Francis because he was worried about the church.
"God is always concerned about his church as he was concerned about the people of Israel, who are our forefathers in the faith and I'd like to say every pope, lord knows the ones I can remember ... all of them are gifts, all of them are gifts from God as a sign to the church," he said.
The pope has also said that he wants a greater role for women in the church and that has sparked the idea that he could select a female cardinal. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville told the "CBS This Morning" co-hosts that how women will be incorporated into the church has yet to be determined.
"The Holy Father has made it clear that we need to expand our gratitude for and our awareness of the great gifts of women within the church," said Kurtz. "How that's going to play out, we're still at the early stages of it, but certainly there's going to be - I can't help but believe at the Synod there's going to be a presence. I don't think there's been any structural changes mentioned now, but I think our Holy Father is intent."
"CBS This Morning" co-host Charlie Rose asked Kurtz how he sees the pope's challenge to "warm hearts and heal wounds." Kurtz said that he believes the mandate to be "see the person first and accompany that person."
"The way we warm hearts and heal wounds is first by acknowledging the person in front of us and hasn't our holy father done that? I think all the photographs and videos and YouTube and all the different ways in which people are seeing the pope is that he's not just saying it, he is accompanying people," said Kurtz. "People are, let's say, taken by that because we all want to be acknowledged, we want to be loved and to belong and there's a place in the church for everyone and so it's a great message of the new evangelize. I'm thrilled."
Steve Cavallo met his wife, Diane Parker '65,
at Notre Dame.
FAIRFIELD—Students from Notre Dame High School participated in a Veteran's Day prayer service held in the chapel of Sacred Heart University.
In addition to hearing from Steve Cavallo '65, a Vietnam veteran, students including Dy-Mond LeRoy '14 and Jillian Gelmetti '14 remembered by name about 70 other graduates who have served/are serving in the armed forces.
In addition, the prayer service honored five Notre Dame grads killed in action: George Richard Fitzgerald, Class of 1961, from Bridgeport, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, who died in combat on September 17, 1966, while serving in Vietnam; Russell Thomas Fant, Class of 1966, from Bridgeport, a member of the U.S. Army, who died in combat on February 3, 1969, while serving in Vietnam; Thomas John Bowe, Class of 1965, from Stratford, a member of the U.S. Army, who died in combat on March 8, 1969, while serving in Vietnam; Jack Richard DaCosta, Class of 1966, from Bridgeport, a member of the US Army, who died in combat on December 2, 1969, while serving in Vietnam; and Thomas Brown, Class of 2000, from Shelton, a member of the US Army, who died in combat on September 23, 2008, while serving in Iraq.
Keynote speaker Kathy Kelly-Brown addressing students and fathers. Photo by Photography Lisa Garcia
MILFORD—A crowd of over 200 fathers and daughters were in attendance on Sunday, November 3 at the McAuley Parents Association’s (MPA) annual Father-Daughter Brunch and prayer service.
The event is held annually as a way to bring father and father figures together with their Lauralton daughters. The day’s events included a prayer service with a special father daughter blessing in the chapel followed by a gourmet brunch and the ever popular raffle. The highlight of this year’s event was a presentation by keynote speaker Kathy Kelly-Brown, a Lauralton alumna from the class of 1982. Kelly-Brown is Senior Vice President, Communications, NBCUniversal News Group.
Kelly-Brown opened her remarks by discussing her arrival in 1978 as a freshman and how she was anything but pleased. She was not fond of the idea of an all-girls high school or the proper blue uniform. Her reason for being there—her father. Before too long she found her groove at Lauralton and the place started to grow on her. The years were filled with many laughs, triumphs, dear memories and friends that she still holds close to her heart. Sadly, Kelly-Brown lost her father right before the start of senior year. “The school my father had wanted me to go to so badly wound up being a great source of comfort after he passed away. My friends were there for me and the rituals we formed over the years together brought me much peace and happiness as we began that last year together at Lauralton.”
She gave words of advice to today’s students on how her own experiences at Lauralton helped empower her throughout the course of her career and personal life. Kelly-Brown took risks in her career because she wasn’t afraid to speak up; this is what defined her success. This is a lesson her teachers instilled in her during her high school years. She started as an intern at NBC and continued to climb the corporate ladder which led to successful positions at NBC and Warner Bros. Television.
“Though I wouldn’t realize it until many years later, there were some key things that my four years at Lauralton taught me that have helped throughout the course of my career and in my personal life” she stated. Kelly-Brown then offered the advice of: know the value of friendship, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone, speak up! and lastly, “never forget…you are and always will be a Lauralton lady.” Another important fact that Kelly-Brown mentioned to the crowd—Your dad is always right!
After years at NBC in California, Kelly-Brown decided it was time to come home, where she found her current position at NBCUniversal News Group. The day she interviewed with the company’s CEO, the first words out of his mouth upon reviewing her resume were “Lauralton Hall”, Kelly-Brown found out he sent his son to Fairfield Prep and was familiar with Lauralton, “I am indeed a Lauralton lady” she replied. It was from that point on that Kelly-Brown felt she had landed the job and that her father was watching from above thinking “I told you so.” The speech ended with Kelly-Brown advising the crowd that you never know when being a Lauralton lady will come in handy.
VATICAN CITY (CNS)—Pope Francis led prayers for people hit by a deadly typhoon in the Philippines and surrounding region, and asked that concrete aid be sent soon.
During the Angelus with pilgrims in St. Peter's Square November 10, the pope expressed his concern and prayers for the estimated tens of thousands of people dead and others affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated parts of the central Philippines November 8.
"I wish to express my closeness to the people of the Philippines and that region that has been hit by a terrible typhoon. Unfortunately the victims are many and the damage is enormous," he said.
He asked the tens of thousands of people gathered in the square to join him in a moment of silent prayer "for these brothers and sisters and let's try also to make our concrete help reach them."
In response to the tragedy, Pope Francis made an initial donation of $150,000 for the relief efforts through the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. The money, sent through the local churches hardest hit by the storm, was earmarked to support "assistance for the displaced and those impacted by the flooding," the Vatican said in a written statement.
The Pope also sent a telegram to Philippine President Benigno Aquino saying he was "deeply pained by the destruction and loss of human lives." In the message, he also encouraged civil authorities and rescue workers in their efforts and prayed that God would offer "the nation strength and consolation."
Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based confederation of humanitarian agencies of the Catholic Church, reported Nov. 11 that more than 9.5 million people are in need of aid and 600,000 people have been forced from their homes. Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines, said, "Despite the precautions, this was beyond all expectations. We couldn't image a storm of this size hitting the Philippines."
Representatives from Caritas Philippines and the U.S. bishops' Catholic Relief Service reached Leyte by boat Nov. 10 to assess the most urgent needs, Caritas reported.
Gariguez said: "The casualties are increasing day by day. There are dead bodies everywhere. People are traumatized. The most urgent needs are for food and water."
Caritas Philippines said it was also concerned about the situation on the islands that had not yet been able to reach. Caritas and CRS said the most urgent priorities were emergency shelter, water and sanitation, household items like blankets, kitchen and cookware, potable water and toilets.
"We really need all the help we can get," Gariguez said. "This is a catastrophe."
VATICAN CITY (CNS)—God has a certain weak spot of love for those who are lost or have strayed furthest from him; they are the ones he goes out to find, Pope Francis said.
It's because God is a sore loser, he added, saying God doesn't like losing his children.
"He searches for all those who have strayed from him. Like a shepherd, he goes looking for the lost sheep," the pope said at his early morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae November 7.
In his homily, the pope looked at the parables of the lost coin and the lost sheep in the Gospel of St. Luke, where Jesus is responding to the Pharisees and scribes who were scandalized and complained that Jesus welcomed and dined with sinners.
Their grumbling "is the music of hypocrisy," the pope said, according to Vatican Radio.
The people who complained about Jesus "believed that to be religious, to be good," meant having everything go well in life, to be well-mannered "and many times to pretend to be well-behaved, right?" he said.
"This is the hypocrisy of grumbling" and complaining about others, the pope said.
God, however, is joyful, he said.
"He is a God who doesn't like to lose anything, he is not a good loser and for this reason, so as to not lose someone, he goes beyond himself, he goes and searches."
God's task is "to go looking" and "to invite everyone, the good and bad, to the celebration."
God "has a certain weakness of love for those who have strayed the furthest, who are lost," Pope Francis said. "He goes and looks for them" everywhere, like the woman who lost a coin and searches carefully until she finds it.
And like the woman and the shepherd, God rejoices after finding what was lost, the pope said.
Once the lost are found, he said, God doesn't keep them separate from the flock or treat them differently, but places them with the others "because he returns all of their dignity" with their repentance.
"There is no difference" between the one who strayed and those who stayed, he said, because "he straightens out everyone he finds."
"God's joy isn't the death of the sinner, but his life," he said. "The joy of God the father is love; he loves us" even as sinners.
God says, "'I love you all the same, and I will go and look for you and bring you back home.' This is our father. Let's think about that," the pope said.
FAIRFIELD—On November 3, the music ministry of Saint Pius X Parish presented a special concert to honor the 60th anniversary of the parish and to celebrate the addition of the new Faith Center.
The featured performer was the internationally acclaimed soprano Krista Adams Santilli, along with the parish's Director of Music Michael Lantowski. The other performers included Darwin Shen, violin; Jeff Albright, trumpet; Michael Andrew Cooney (piano and vocals); Gerard Huerta, guitar; Linda Palmer, soprano and the parish choir.
Featured was an original (world premiere) composition of Ave Maria, specifically rearranged for the parish choir and soprano soloist by Mr. Cooney, who is director of music at Our Lady of the Assumption Church, Fairfield. The concert featured a variety of sacred and secular music spanning the centuries and embracing many different genres. Another highlight of the evening was J.S. Bach's Toccata and Fugue in d minor performed by Lantowski on the organ while an image projected on a screen in front of the church allowed the attendees to watch his hands and feet.
On a sunny afternoon in October 2012, 68-year-old Mamana Bibi, while gathering vegetables in the family fields in northwest Pakistan, was blown into pieces by at least two Hellfire missiles fired from a U.S. drone aircraft.
Bibi’s granddaughter, eight-year-old Nabeela, ventured to where her grandmother had been picking vegetables earlier in the day. “I saw her shoes. We found her mutilated body a short time afterwards. It had been thrown quite a long distance away by the blast and it was in pieces. We collected as many different parts from the field and wrapped them in a cloth.”
This horrific event is highlighted in a new report from Amnesty International titled “Will I be next?”—taken from the worried words of Nabeela.
Drones – pilotless aircraft used by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) for surveillance and targeted killings—have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of totally innocent people like Mamana Bibi.
The report states that according to various nongovernmental organizations and Pakistan government sources the U.S. launched over 329 drone attacks in Pakistan between 2004 and September 2013, killing between 400 and 900 civilians and seriously injuring more than 600 people.
According to the report, 18 laborers – at least one boy among them – were killed from a series of drone strikes in the remote Pakistani village of Zowi Sidgi. Missiles first struck a tent in which some men had gathered for an evening meal after a hard day’s work, and then struck those who came to help.
Witnesses described a horrific scene of body parts, blood, panic and terror, as U.S. drones continued to hover overhead.
“Secrecy surrounding the drones program gives the U.S. administration a license to kill beyond the reach of the courts or basic standards of international law. It’s time for the U.S.A. to come clean about the drones program and hold those responsible for these violations to account,” said Mustafa Qadri, Amnesty International’s Pakistan Researcher.
In another report titled ‘Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda’: The Civilian Cost of U.S. Targeted Killings in Yemen” – released at the same Oct. 22, 2013 news conference as Amnesty International’s report – Human Rights Watch examines six U.S. targeted killings in Yemen.
According to the report, two attacks killed civilians indiscriminately in clear violation of the laws of war, while the other attacks may have caused disproportionate civilian deaths.
Letta Tayler, senior terrorism and counterterrorism researcher at Human Rights Watch and the author of the report said, “Yemenis told us that these strikes make them fear the U.S. as much as they fear Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.”
The Catholic “just-war” theory’s principles of proportionality and discrimination – arguably never able to be met within the context of modern warfare – are clearly not being met here.
The killing of innocent civilians and the resulting fear from targeted drone attacks are considered by many as acts of U.S. terrorism, inspiring many to vow vengeance, thus perpetuating endless conflict and terrorism from all sides.
Please email and call your two U.S. senators and congressperson (Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121) urging them to launch a congressional investigation into targeted drone killings. And to introduce legislation that would ban all drone attacks and provide a mechanism for families of innocent victims to acquire fair compensation.
The Gospel way of acting justly and living nonviolent unconditional love is the only weapon that can defeat terrorism, and ultimately triumph over evil.
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.
VATICAN CITY—At the heart of Christianity is an invitation to the Lord’s feast.
That was Pope Francis’ message at Mass this morning at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope said that the Church is “not only for good people;” the invitation to be a part of it concerns everyone. And he added that, at the Lord’s feast we must “participate fully” and with everyone; we can’t pick and choose. Christians, he said, can’t be content with simply being on the guest list – not participating fully is like not joining in.
The readings of the day, the Pope said, the identity of the Christian. He emphasized that “first of all, the Christian essence is an invitation: we only become Christians if we are invited.” It is a “free invitation” from God to participate. You can’t pay to get into the feast, he warned: “either you are invited or you can’t come in.” If “in our conscience,” he said, “we don’t have this certainty of being invited” then “we haven’t understood what a Christian is”:
“A Christian is one who is invited. Invited to what? To a shop? To take a walk? The Lord wants to tell us something more: You are invited to join in the feast, to the joy of being saved, to the joy of being redeemed, to the joy of sharing life with Christ. This is a joy! You are called to a party! A feast is a gathering of people who talk, laugh, celebrate, are happy together. I have never seen anyone party on their own. That would be boring, no? Opening the bottle of wine . . . That’s not a feast, it’s something else. You have to party with others, with the family, with friends, with those who’ve been invited, as I was invited. Being Christian means belonging, belonging to this body, to the people that have been invited to the feast: this is Christian belonging.”
Turning to the Letter to the Romans, the Pope then affirmed that this feast is a “feast of unity.” He underlined the fact that all are invited, “the good and the bad.” And the first to be invited are the marginalized:
“The Church is not the Church only for good people. Do we want to describe who belongs to the Church, to this feast? The sinners. All of us sinners are invited. At this point there is a community that has diverse gifts: one has the gift of prophecy, another of ministry, who teaching. . . We all have qualities and strengths. But each of us brings to the feast a common gift. Each of us is called to participate fully in the feast. Christian existence cannot be understood without this participation. ‘I go to the feast, but I don’t go beyond the antechamber, because I want to be only with the three or four people that I familiar with. . .’ You can’t do this in the Church! You either participate fully or you remain outside. You can’t pick and choose: the Church is for everyone, beginning with those I’ve already mentioned, the most marginalized. It is everyone’s Church!”
Speaking about the parable in which Jesus said some who were invited began to make excuses, Pope Francis said: “They don’t accept the invitation! They say ‘yes,’ but their actions say ‘no.’” These people, he said, “are Christians who are content to be on the guest list: chosen Christians.” But, he warned, this is not sufficient, because if you don’t participate you are not a Christian. “You were on the list,” he said, but this isn’t enough for salvation! This is the Church: to enter into the Church is a grace; to enter into the Church is an invitation.” And this right, he added, cannot be purchased. “To enter into the Church,” he added, “is to become part of a community, the community of the Church. To enter into the Church is to participate in all the virtues, the qualities that the Lord has given us in our service of one for the other.” Pope Francis continued, “To enter into the Church means to be responsible for those things that the Lord asks of us.” Ultimately, he said, “to enter into the Church is to enter into this People of God, in its journey towards eternity.” No one, he warned, is the protagonist of the Church: but we have ONE,” who has done everything. God “is the protagonist!” We are his followers . . . and “he who does not follow Him is the one who excuses himself” and does not go to the feast:
The Lord is very generous. The Lord opens all doors. The Lord also understands those who say to Him, ‘No, Lord, I don’t want to go to you.’ He understands and is waiting for them, because He is merciful. But the Lord does not like those who say ‘yes’ and do the opposite; who pretend to thank Him for all the good things; who have good manners, but go their own way and do not follow the way of the Lord: those who always excuse themselves, those who do not know joy, who don’t experience the joy of belonging. Let us ask the Lord for this grace of understanding: how beautiful it is to be invited to the feast, how beautiful it is to take part in it and to share one’s qualities, how beautiful it is to be with Him and how wrong it is to dither between ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ to say ‘yes,’ but to be satisfied merely with being a nominal Christian.
See the article on the Vatican Radio website: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/11/05/pope_francis:_it_is_everyones_church/en1-743763
October 4, 2013 Bridgeport. The diocese of Bridgeport has a new head: Bishop Frank J. Caggiano. (Photo by Mara Lavitt — New Haven Register)
BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano had been on the job only a week when Pope Francis sounded an alert to the Roman Catholic world in an interview with his Jesuit order, published in America and other Jesuit journals.
Unpretentious, with a slender build and deep-set eyes, Caggiano has an openness and generosity that echo the pope’s approach to the issues confronting the church: women’s roles, acceptance of gays and lesbians and others.
Pope Francis’ interview both excited and enraged the faithful, with statements such as: “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.”
Caggiano’s response is to remind us that all people, gay or straight, “are called to a life of conversion, a life of holiness. So those who are gay and those who are straight are loved by the Lord equally. ...
“The church teaches very clearly that gay and lesbian Catholics deserve respect, are to be loved just as the Lord loves them, and they are to be welcomed into the church. And that is the genesis of the pope’s comment that they are not to be judged simply for the people that they are.”
But Caggiano adds his interpretation of church teaching that was not emphasized by the pope, but which has not changed:
“On the other hand, there is behavior that we believe, in our tradition, violates that which the Lord taught. That applies to gay couples and straight couples; it applies to everyone. ... It violates the natural law but more specifically it violates that which the Lord has specifically taught. And therefore whether they’re gay or straight isn’t the issue. The issue is the call to holiness by each individual person in their own state of life.”
Jesus loves you, but physical love is still constrained to that approved by the church, Caggiano said. Still, it’s up to God to judge, not us.
Brooklyn born and bred
Fairfield County is new ground for the new bishop. A first-generation American from Brooklyn, born of Italian parents, he spent most of his life and ministry in the borough.
He actually spent some time in Connecticut, but the priesthood called him out of the state. After attending Regis High School in Manhattan, “By some act of God I was actually accepted at Yale, and political science always intrigued me so that’s what I had decided to study,” Caggiano says.
“My father was absolutely enthralled with the idea that I would go to Yale because, for him, this was making it, finally. So there was ... a lot of enthusiastic encouragement on the part of my dad in particular to go to Yale once I was accepted.
“The difficulty was that there was growing inside of me this sense of a vocation that I had known since I was young — service in the church, priesthood.” And it just happened that he was born on Easter Sunday in 1959.
After just one semester, he left his “cosmopolitan experience” at Yale, took a year off, then entered Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception. He was ordained a priest in May 1987.
Sunset Park. Bensonhurst. Canarsie. Diverse posts, all in Brooklyn, “the only … completely urban diocese in the country.” He earned his doctorate at Gregorian University in Rome.
He follows Bishop William E. Lori, after a 16-month gap when the diocese had no bishop. “First and foremost, the people have been extraordinarily welcoming and gracious,” he says. “They have been very energized. There’s an enthusiasm, there’s a joyfulness and I think part of that is simply because there is a bishop in the diocese.”
His diocese ranges from the Gold Coast of Greenwich to the poverty of Bridgeport and the rural roads of Weston. Caggiano says he enjoys the differences, “because the variety is very life-giving.”
Living in Trumbull, doing his own laundry and driving his own car, he says to “see the sun rise above the trees is absolutely spectacular … that is a tremendous moment in the day when I can pray and really feel very close to the Lord.”
‘The Pope Francis Factor’
Whether in Brooklyn or Fairfield, however, he faces the same challenge: “the need to preach the gospel effectively in a way that people in contemporary life can understand, appreciate and embrace,” especially youths and young adults, who are not hostile to the church but simply “don’t feel any compelling reason to give the church a second look.”
He calls a recent surge of energy “the Pope Francis Factor.”
That surge may increase the continual calls in the church for greater lay involvement and less of a top-down structure. Francis warned in his interview that the “infallibilitas of all the faithful” is not “populism.” Caggiano emphasized that “by virtue of baptism every single member of the church is called to share in the priestly, kingly and prophetic office of Christ. … We’re all in this together.”
But while listening to all is vital to “read the signs of the times,” Americans can slip into thinking that the church should be more democratic, Caggiano says.
“That skews one basic fact. The fact is that the truth is not something; the truth is someone. It’s the person of Jesus the Christ, whose presence is embodied in the community which is the church, from the apostles.”
While some things are a product of tradition, such as married clergy, other things, such as women priests, are unchanging, he says.
“The substance of the faith will not change, because it’s a person, it’s Christ. And the teachings that we embrace about the person of Jesus Christ, about the events of his life and that which he taught, those will not change, those are not subject to a democratic vote, but many of the disciplines of the church which are designed to, if you will, embody, strengthen, allow people to understand the truth, embrace it, accept it, engage it, those have changed over the centuries and they can continue to evolve.”
On many issues, however, “Lay leaders have a rightful place to be consulted and to be part of ... decision-making, whether it’s at a parish level, whether it’s at a diocesan level. There are bodies and organs that are already in existence that can help to do that.” One, the Lay Pastoral Council, may have gone out of existence since Lori left, “but if it does not (exist), it will be created,” Caggiano says.
The issue of women clergy is basic because, while “Women are equal in dignity and participation in the life of the church,” the church cannot do what Jesus, as recorded in the Bible, did not do.
“Jesus of Nazareth broke every social norm that existed in the time of his age, every single one that I could imagine, including socializing with Samaritan women who are adulteresses. That would have rendered him ritually unclean and ostracized from any aspect of Judaism, and he chose to break the norm.
“But when he chose his apostles, he chose only men. I do not know why he chose to do that; that is what he chose to do. ... That deliberate choice of having men only to be his apostles and their successors is something that I as only a human being have no authority to revise.”
Caggiano says some choices by Jesus are mysteries to us. “But when we’re with him, then we’ll know. But until then ... to make an accommodation, as reasonable as for some it may appear, is not a line I will ever cross.”
Caggiano says this is unchangeable because Jesus is not “a prophet, is not a nice guy, is not a guru, he’s not a person who teaches you a philosophy of life. ... And see, in my mind ... it all boils down to a single question, to be very blunt about it. ‘Who do you say that I am?’ ... If you answer that question with anything less than ‘You are Christ, the son of the living God,’ then you are not answering it in a way consonant with the Catholic Church.”
Another unchangeable teaching, as far as Caggiano is concerned, is divorced and remarried people being able to receive Communion. “The difficulty is the remarriage part of that phrase,” Caggiano says. Those who are not “in a healthy and holy environment with their spouse” will be accepted if they no longer live as wife and husband. And if a marriage is found to have had “an impediment” to being a true sacramental relationship, which is a lifetime commitment, there is provision for annulment.
“So what do you do when a marriage existentially seems to have ended and a person finds themselves falling in love with someone and wants to enter into a lifetime relationship (without an annulment)? That’s where the difficulty arises. I cannot imagine the church ever changing that because ... that really comes from the mouth of the Lord himself.”
Caggiano says the church needs to improve its outreach to divorced Catholics, “Because when a marriage ends, it’s an extraordinarily painful experience and the last thing the church wants to do is traumatize those people ... even more.”
On the other hand, married priests is not an unchangeable church teaching — there are exceptions to the rule and priests were married in the early church. It is “a discipline that has changed ... I would be very curious to see the unfolding of the papacy of Pope Francis to see what his thinking is on that,” Caggiano says. “We will have to see if he has guidance on that question.”
But Caggiano says he sees value in celibacy for priests. “When I was pastor at St. Dominic’s in Bensonhurst, I could not imagine serving the people as I tried to serve them and also be married at the same time. I could not imagine doing both. There’s a freedom to celibacy that allows a level of self-gift that would not be appropriate for a married person.” After 9/11 was another time when Caggiano felt he had “married his people” and could not have imagined being married to a woman.
Caggiano looks on the sexual abuse crisis as “a grave wound to the life of the church, apart from the sin that was perpetrated and the innocent lives that were terribly wounded and hurt. It has shattered the trust of many an individual and, if not shattered, has called into question the trust that they once had in the leadership of the church on every level.”
Rebuilding that trust will be one of his high priorities because, “First and foremost, those who are harmed need to be cared for. And from what I can gather here, the diocese under Archbishop Lori has done a very good job of trying to be of assistance to those who were (victimized).”
Coming in, he says, “I am committed to do whatever I can to strengthen the processes and procedures that we have to make sure that it never happens again. To be a resource to those who were hurt in the process and to the best I can with all of my colleagues ... rebuild that trust.”
Call senior writer Ed Stannard at 203-789-5743. Have questions, feedback or ideas about our news coverage? Connect directly with the editors of the New Haven Register at AskTheRegister.com.
Pope Francis prays at the tomb of St. Peter on All Souls' Day.
VATICAN CITY (CNS)—At the end of the feast of All Saints, just before the sun set, Pope Francis celebrated an outdoor Mass at Rome's Verano cemetery and urged Christians to hang on to hope as they reflect on the promise that earthly life ends with eternal life in heaven.
In his homily at the evening Mass Nov. 1, Pope Francis set aside his prepared text, looked out at the thousands of people gathered between long lines of tombs and told them, "We reflect and think about our own future and about all those who have gone before us and are now with the Lord."
"The Lord God, beauty, goodness, truth, tenderness, the fullness of love—all that awaits us," the pope said. "And all those who preceded us and died in the Lord are there," in heaven with God.
Even the best of the saints were not saved by their good works, the pope said, but by the blood of Christ.
"God is the one who saves, he is the one who carries us like father—at the end of our lives—to that heaven where our forebears are," he said.
The feast day reading from the 7th chapter of the Book of Revelation described a multitude of people from every race and nation standing before God. They were dressed in white, the pope said, because they were "washed in the blood of the Lamb. We can enter into heaven only thanks to the blood of the lamb, the blood of Christ."
"If today we are remembering these brothers and sisters of ours who lived before us and are now in heaven, they are there because they were washed in the blood of Christ," he said. "That is our hope, and this hope does not disappoint. If we live our lives with the Lord, he will never disappoint us."
"We are children of God," he said, and live in hope of one day seeing God as he is.
"On the feast of All Saints and before the Day of the Dead, it is important to think about hope," he said.
The early Christians used an anchor as a symbol of hope, he said, and "to have our hearts anchored up there where our loved ones are, where the saints are, where Jesus is, where God is—that is hope. That is the hope that doesn't disappoint."
The feasts of All Saints and All Souls are "days of hope," he said. The virtue of "hope is like a bit of leaven that enlarges your soul. There are difficult moments in life, but with hope you go forward and keep your eyes on what awaits us. Today is a day of hope; our brothers and sisters are in the presence of God, and we, too, will be there in the Lord's arms if we follow the path of Jesus."
"Before sunset today, each one of us can think of the sunset of our lives," the pope said. "Do we look forward to it with hope and with the joy of being welcomed by the Lord?"
Throughout Italy, like in many predominantly Catholic countries, people take advantage of the All Saints public holiday to tidy up and take flowers to the graves of their loved ones on the eve of the Nov. 2 celebration of All Souls' Day. After the Mass, Pope Francis was to visit some of those graves, praying for the deceased and blessing their tombs.
Sr. Mary Grace Walsh, Superintendent of Schools, Jo-Anne Jakab,
Principal, Jusina Outhavong, Melina Fernandez, Bishop Caggiano
and Fr. John Ringley in back row.
Newly baptized Justina Outhavong, Bishop Caggiano and KCHS
Spiritual Director Fr. Ringley.
BRIDGEPORT—Kolbe Cathedral High School and Cathedral Academy celebrated the Feast of All Saints with Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank Caggiano in St. Augustine Cathedral.
Justina Outhavong, a KCHS alumna was baptized and received First Communion, while both Justina and Melina Fernandez, a current student, received the Sacrament of Confirmation.
All Saints, All Souls feasts are time to renew hope, pope says
by By Cindy Wooden
Archbishop-designate Leonard Paul Blair smiles as Archbishop Henry J. Mansell, clergy and employees of the Archdiocese of Hartford applaud him at a press conference on October 29 in Bloomfield. He will succeed the retiring Archbishop Mansell. (Photo by Jack Sheedy)
BLOOMFIELD—Bishop Leonard Paul Blair, 64, current head of the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio, will succeed Archbishop Henry J. Mansell as the fifth archbishop and the 13th bishop of Hartford, it was announced during a press conference October 29 at the ArchdiocesanCenter at St. Thomas Seminary.
Last October, Archbishop Mansell submitted his letter of resignation to then-Pope Benedict XVI, as required by Canon law when a bishop attains the age of 75. Archbishop Mansell was 75 on October 10, 2012.
Archbishop-designate Blair will be installed in Hartford at a Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph on December 16 – two days shy of the 10th anniversary of Archbishop Mansell’s installation on Dec. 18, 2003.
Bishop Blair said he was in Rome October 17 when he received word from Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, papal nuncio to the United States, that Pope Francis had appointed him to the new post.
“The next day at a papal audience, I was able to thank Pope Francis in person for the confidence he has placed in me, and I asked for his blessing on the Church in both Hartford and Toledo,” he said in his remarks before more than 100 assembled clergy, religious and media representatives.
“I want to say how very happy and honored I am to be your new archbishop,” he said. “I especially look forward to meeting the priests, who are a bishop’s closest and indispensable collaborators. My new home also includes people of many different churches, religions and backgrounds whose collaboration and friendship I look forward to in times to come.”
A Detroit, Mich., native, Archbishop-designate Blair said that he will have much to learn in the days to come. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to say ‘Hartford’ with just the right New England accent,” he quipped, “but I pledge all my love and effort to serve Christ by serving you, as together we seek to walk, and help others to walk, what Christ himself calls ‘the narrow road that leads to life.’”
Archbishop Mansell called it “a special joy for me” that Pope Francis has chosen Bishop Blair as his successor. “He comes with an extensive background and a distinguished record of service as a priest in the Archdiocese of Detroit,” Archbishop Mansell said. “He comes with a whole plethora of experience for which we are deeply grateful. We offer him our sincere congratulations, prayers and the promise of support as we go forward.”
Archbishop Mansell said that this is a beautiful archdiocese where “we are continually doing things that make us a better experience as a church. We’re very confident, given Bishop Blair’s experience and his record, that we will continue.”
On a personal note, Archbishop Mansell said, “It’s been a special privilege and an honor for me to serve as the Archbishop of Hartford for the past 10 years, and I thank you all for the graciousness with which you have welcomed me and the wonderful support you have given to me over these 10 years.”
He said that as archbishop-emeritus, he will live at the rectory of St. Augustine Parish in South Glastonbury.
Asked if he had specific directions he intends to take the archdiocese, Archbishop-designate Blair said, “I didn’t have any conversation with the Holy Father about particular things. Like all of you, I am very intrigued by this new Holy Father, and very challenged by him in the best ways. Many things are reported about the things he says and does, but I find that he’s given new energy to the Church.”
When many media microphones conspired to cause audio feedback, the archbishop-designate brought laughter by suggesting the bishops do an exorcism of the sound system.
Asked how he intends to handle bad publicity even long after the sex scandals of the Church have subsided, Archbishop-designate Blair said, “Well, I think the best way is simply to be the Church in the way that Christ wants us to be the Church ... to stay close to Christ and to really try to address the material and spiritual needs of people, in keeping with the Gospel.”
He said that when scandal struck the Toledo Diocese – before his installation there in 2003—his predecessor (Bishop James R. Hoffman) removed some accused priests. “Subsequently, I had to remove some as well. I think our diocese responded appropriately,” he said.
Asked how he intends to shepherd fallen-away Catholics back to the fold, he said, “This is very much on the minds of the bishops. We speak in terms of a new evangelization, and that is to re-propose the message of the Gospel ... to people who may have been baptized Catholic who are no longer practicing, people who feel a kind of drift in their lives spiritually. So this is very much engaging the mind of the Church today. It’s much discussed, but it’s not just a matter of discussing but of doing, of seeing how we can be faithful to the word of God and to re-propose the Gospel.”
He said that his role on ethical issues such as same-sex marriage and assisted suicide will be dictated by the Church’s teachings. “Whether I were an archbishop or not, I certainly subscribe to the teaching of the Church in these matters that is rooted in the Gospel and rooted even more in just human reason and the difference between right and wrong.”
Archbishop Mansell told the Transcript that he had a lengthy discussion with Archbishop-designate Blair the night before the press conference, when
Archbishop Mansell outlined many of the initiatives in the archdiocese. He said that, while it is up to the new archbishop, he hopes that work will continue to be done to improve people’s lives through the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal. “I strongly recommended it. It does significant work and really supports the people who are in greater need, and he understands that,” Archbishop Mansell said.
“Every year it funds so much of our operations, and every penny that comes in goes out in services, and even the administrative costs are covered by other funds, not from the funds that are contributed,” he said.
Auxiliary Bishop Christie A. Macaluso of Hartford said in a statement, “This is an exciting appointment by Pope Francis of a very gifted, intelligent, energetic man of faith to the See of Hartford.” He said that as Toledo’s bishop, “he distinguished himself as a wise and sound administrator and a humble man of deep faith.”
Article by The Catholic Transcript visit: http://www.catholictranscript.org/home/local-news/3092-bishop-leonard-blair-named-to-lead-archdiocese-of-hartford.html
I usually write a column on global warming during the height of summer heat – it’s harder for people to deny global warming when they’re sweating.
But the highly authoritative United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent report, “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis,” (http://www.ipcc.ch) has important warnings for us to seriously consider now.
The report authored by 259 scientists and editors from 39 countries declares that “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.”
According to the report, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in over the last 800,000 years. Concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, has increased by 40 percent since pre-industrial times, due primarily to fossil fuel emissions.
As a result, the earth is warming, causing major ice melts. During the last two decades Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have continued to lose mass, and glaciers throughout the world are shrinking. Furthermore, Arctic sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere continues to decrease.
These verifiable scientific facts are already starting to pose dangerous conditions for some coastal areas.
The British newspaper, “The Guardian,” features an eye-opening series on the serious reality of climate change already underway. Headlined “America’s first climate refugees,” the series features the plight of Newtok – a native Alaskan coastal village.
“With climate change occurring rapidly in the far north, where temperatures are warming faster than the global average,” many villages like Newtok could soon be washed away, reports “The Guardian.”
A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ report predicts Newtok could be underwater by 2017, and that there is no possible way to protect the village in place.
And as spring snow cover continues to decrease, water shortages are beginning to seriously affect the many people who depend on a much more gradual snow melt to supply water throughout the year.
As global temperatures increase extreme precipitation events over most of the mid-latitude land masses and over wet tropical areas will very likely become more intense and more frequent by the end of this century, states the IPCC report “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis.”
The report is crystal clear that human activity – especially the use of fossil fuels – is the main engine driving potentially catastrophic global warming induced climate change.
“Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes. … It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century” states the IPCC report.
In his 2010 World Day of Peace message titled “If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation,” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI boldly wrote, “Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions?”
We remain indifferent at our own risk—and that of future generations.
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.
BRIDGEPORT—As a newcomer myself, it is a pleasure to welcome Bishop Leonard Blair to Connecticut, where he will magnificently lead the Archdiocese of 700,000 Catholics.
The announcement of his appointment as the Fifth Archbishop of Hartford is welcome news for Catholics in the state as the Holy Father has blessed us with a great teacher of the faith and a man who will be a compassionate and vigilant shepherd. He will bring the Good News of Jesus to those who are hurting and suffering, and help them to find the merciful love of God.
I had the pleasure of serving with Bishop Blair on the Catechism subcommittee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and saw up close his great love of the faith along with his ability to lead with a quiet strength and integrity.
Bishop Blair is known as a gifted administrator, a humble leader, and above all as a faithful priest whose love for the Lord and his Church will serve the Archdiocese well as it faces the many challenges and opportunities for evangelization.
I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Bishop Blair as I look forward to working with him and serving the faithful of Connecticut. The historic relationship between our two dioceses has been a tremendous resource for Catholics throughout many generations. Under Bishop Blair’s leadership, we will continue to celebrate and affirm that relationship as we move forward in faith and work together on many of the most important issues faced by our society.
I ask all Catholics to join me in including Bishop Blair in our prayers as he prepares to lead the Archdiocese and its people. He will be a true shepherd who walks with us in our journey of faith and leads through loving and prayerful example.
HARTFORD—His Holiness Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Leonard Paul Blair, STD as the fifth archbishop of the Archdiocese of Hartford.
The announcement was made today, Tuesday, October 29th at 12:00 noon, Vatican City Time (7 a.m. EDT).
Bishop Blair will be officially introduced as the new archbishop during a press conference at the Archdiocesan Center at Saint Thomas Seminary, 467 Bloomfield Ave., Bloomfield, this morning, Tuesday, October 29th, at 10 a.m. The press conference will be streamed on the archdiocesan website at: archdioceseofhartford.org and ortv.org. It will be broadcast live on WJMJ-FM Radio (88.9/Hartford, 93.1/Hamden, 107.1/New Haven).
Bishop Blair, 64, has been the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Toledo since 2003. He was ordained a priest in 1976. He succeeds Archbishop Henry J. Mansell, who has been the Archbishop of Hartford since December 2003, and who has passed the age of retirement.
Bishop Blair will be installed as the Archbishop of Hartford on Monday, December 16th at a ceremony at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph, 140 Farmington Ave., Hartford.
Statement of the Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano on the appointment of Archbishop Leonard Blair
Most Reverend Leonard P. Blair, Biography
On October 29th, Pope Francis appointed Bishop Blair the new Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Hartford. The following is an abbreviated biography:
Bishop of The Toledo Diocese Bishop Leonard Paul Blair, born in Detroit on April 12, 1949, was named the Seventh Bishop of Toledo on October 7, 2003, and installed in the Diocese of Toledo on December 4, 2003.
Bishop Blair was ordained to the priesthood in June of 1976 following studies at Sacred Heart Seminary College, Detroit; the North American College, Rome; and the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. Bishop Blair holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in History from Sacred Heart Seminary College; a Bachelor of Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) from the Pontifical Gregorian University; a Licentiate in Theology (S.T.L.) with a specialization in Patristics and the History of Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University; and a Doctorate in Theology (S.T.D.) from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), Rome. Bishop Blair has served as Pastor of St. Paul Parish, Grosse Point Farms, since July of 1997. Prior to that, he served for three years as Secretary to Cardinal Edmund Szoka and as a staff member of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, Vatican City State.
Bishop Blair's previous assignments include: Ecumenical Officer for the Archdiocese of Detroit; Dean of Studies and Assistant Professor of Theology, Sacred Heart Major Seminary College; service in the Papal Secretariat of State Office, Vatican City; Administrative Secretary to the Archbishop of Detroit; Vicar General and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Detroit; Consultor, Archdiocese of Detroit; Instructor in Church History and Patristics, St. John's Provincial Seminary, Plymouth; and Archivist for the Archdiocese of Detroit.
Bishop Blair also served as Pastoral Administrator at St. Christine Parish, Detroit; Associate Pastor at St. Paul Parish, Grosse Pointe Farms; Associate Pastor at St. Christopher Parish, Detroit; Associate Pastor at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Harper Woods; and as a Deacon at St. Martin de Porres Parish, Warren.
For more information visit: http://www.archdioceseofhartford.org/index.htm
NEW YORK—Helping out those in need and donating to those who need some support can truly change your whole perspective on life.
This year’s Youth Group Midnight Run Project did exactly that for me. Before we even hit the road to begin our travel into New York City, I already felt blessed and thankful for the great opportunity I was lucky enough to be offered in helping the homeless.
Seeing my peers, advisors, and volunteers pack and sort out toiletries into individual bags showed how this trip not only benefited those who we were giving to, but also benefited those who helped. One could really feel the love and unity of us helpers as we came together as one family to assist those who were less fortunate.
That same loving vibe was carried over as we arrived in NYC. Before stopping at our intended locations, we met a former homeless man named Billy. He was a very friendly and dedicated man, who organized us into a smooth efficiency. This being my first experience of helping out the homeless face to face, I did not know what to expect, but the way Billy directed us made things seem less chaotic than expected.
As we reached our first stop, I witnessed a crowd of homeless men race over to the Midnight Run van. At first I was somewhat frightened by the group that surrounded our serving stations, but as I handed out my first bowl of chili, I realized that these people were thankful for what we were doing. From that point on, I did not want to stop helping out. I was excited to go to the next stops to meet and help more people.
Each individual I encountered was extremely sociable. It humbled me to know that even in the worst situations, these men and women were able to smile, laugh, and make jokes with people they had never met in their lives before. When we reached our last stop, I was upset because I truly did not want to stop the genuine loving and caring I was partaking in. We donated our extra supplies to a nearby homeless shelter in the city and I was happy to see that we still had more to give to those who we were not able to meet in person that night.
All in all, the Midnight Run was one of the best experiences of my life. The event made me feel loved and thankful for all of the time and effort that was put into planning and executing the run. I felt like I was not just giving for the sake of giving, but I gave because I truly wanted to sacrifice my time and some sleep to support my brothers in Christ Jesus who struggle on the streets daily.
The Midnight Run taught me to not take what I have for granted, to cherish all that I have to and to be thankful for everything that God has provided me. The Midnight Run also showed me what true care, love and happiness is and I learned that if you can help someone else out in their situation, then do help. You can so much in doing so, if you find yourself with an opportunity to work with the poor I strongly suggest that you do.
I would like to thank the Midnight Run, my St. Joseph Youth Group family (all of the parishioners, my fellow volunteers, and my Youth Minister Mr. David Roman) and everyone who make the run such a humbling blessing for me.
The Rev. John M. Conlisk Irish Scholarship at Fairfield was founded 22 years ago by a group of Irish Americans led by Fairfield University trustee Kevin M. Conlisk '66. The scholarship is named for Mr. Conlisk's late brother, a 1954 Fairfield Prep graduate who served the Diocese of Bridgeport.
FAIRFIELD—Bernadette Liston was sitting at her computer in County Limerick, Ireland when she opened an email that has proved pivotal.
The twenty-three-year-old learned in May that she had been awarded the Rev. John M. Conlisk Irish Scholarship to attend Fairfield University’s Dolan School of Business, worth about $55,000. It is given annually to a graduate student from Ireland to help their career prospects, and it covers all tuition, housing and medical insurance expenses for the time it takes to earn a master’s degree. With Ireland’s unemployment rate hovering around 13 percent, the opportunity came just as Liston found herself at somewhat of a crossroads.
“Massive decisions would have faced me if I hadn’t come to Fairfield–find a job in Ireland’s unsteady economy, apply for graduate programs in Ireland or immigrate to find work in countries like Australia or Dubai like so many other Irish young people,” said Liston.
She got the great news after finishing up her eight-hour shift at a supermarket. “After work that night, I sat around the kitchen table with my family conversing about our day,” said Liston, who goes by the nickname ‘Bernie.’ “I read the email from Fairfield University, and I could not believe my eyes. It felt like I had won the lottery. It was a feeling of complete excitement. I knew my hard work had paid off.”
The Rev. John M. Conlisk Irish Scholarship at Fairfield was founded 22 years ago when the Irish economy was struggling. A group of Irish Americans led by Fairfield University trustee Kevin M. Conlisk '66 believed a scholarship would give an Irish student an opportunity to make business contacts. The scholarship is named for Mr. Conlisk's late brother, a 1954 Fairfield Prep graduate who served the Diocese of Bridgeport.
Fr. Conlisk, a native of New York City, was ordained by Bishop Walter Curtis in 1962 and served in a number of posts for the diocese including Director of Family Life and co-director of religious education in the diocesan Christian Formation Ministry. He became pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Georgetown in 1977 and was named the first pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Redding in 1981. He died in July 1990 was serving as pastor of St. Jerome Church in Norwalk.
Many of the founding scholarship committee members are first or second generation Irish Americans, and established it to help a deserving young Irishman.
Liston was born and raised in County Limerick, located 200 miles from Dublin.
She earned a business degree from the University of Limerick’s Kemmy Business School. The middle child of three children, her father Tom passed away when she was just fourteen and her mother Kathleen lives in Limerick, the fourth largest city in the nation.
Applying for the scholarship was an easy decision. “Fairfield University has developed a reputation for educational excellence,” she noted, adding, “The Jesuit community is held in such a high regard, and Jesuit education is a valuable asset.”
It’s not difficult to see why she’s found herself at the Dolan School of Business: A top student, she completed an internship in Ireland’s Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, and is the recipient of a Gold President’s Volunteering Award from her alma mater.
“Knowledge is a powerful tool in the business world,” said Liston, who is now enrolled in the MBA program with a concentration in accounting. She hopes to begin her career in America, working for one of the ‘Big Four’ accounting firms.
“Each scholar I have worked with has seen this opportunity as a life-changer,” saidMark Ligas, Ph.D., associate dean and director of graduate programs at the Dolan School. Rev. Conlisk scholars bring so much to the classroom. In addition to sharing an international perspective in class discussions, especially with regard to the European Union, they offer “a fresh perspective on an individual's expectations of what our graduate programs should or could do to develop a successful and marketable graduate,” noted Dr. Ligas.
Liston is happy diving into the opportunities faculty has presented her: she’s a member of the Student Monetary Investment Fund and is taking part in the upcoming PwC Accounting Competition and the Deloitte FanTAXtic Competition. Outside of academics, Liston has volunteered for Campus Ministry activities and plans to learn some new moves by way of theLatin Dancing and Ballroom Dancing clubs.
Moreover, she’s already found a second home at Fairfield. “My housemates are both Chinese–one is a graduate student and the other a teaching assistant,” Liston noted. “I love learning about their culture and language. They are like family to me.”
The Conlisk family has also extended a big welcome to Liston, providing her with “an invaluable opportunity.” “I feel blessed to be here,” she said. “I know I have someone looking down from above.”
BRIDGEPORT—“Pray as if everything depends on God, and work as if everything depends on you,” Bishop Frank Caggiano said, quoting the words of St. Augustine in his homily honoring the 159 recipients of this year’s Saint Augustine Medal Service.
The medals are conferred to men and women in parishes and ministries throughout the Diocese who have given generously of themselves in service of the Church.
Speaking to almost 900 people who filled St. Augustine Cathedral in downtown Bridgeport, Bishop Caggiano said it was fitting that the medals of service are named for St. Augustine because “he wrote one of the most beautiful sermons ever written in generosity.”
“St. Augustine said, ‘Take what you need and leave the rest for others,’” said Bishop Caggiano, who praised the recipients for being the “leaven in the life of our diocese, leading others to greater holiness.”
The Bishop said that true generosity comes from others who are “grateful for their lives and who faithfully use the gifts God has given them.”
Praising the recipients as “mentors, guides and prophets” in the diocese, he said that their love and service reaches out to the sick, poor and lonely and makes their parishes and communities more loving.
This year’s ceremony was distinguished by the prolonged standing ovation given to the 23 members of St. Rose of Lima Parish who received the recognition for the extraordinary services they performed after the loss of 26 children and teachers in the Newtown slayings last December 14.
The entire ministry team along with parish staff and volunteers came forward to receive their medals and have a group picture taken with the Bishop.
During the prayer service, which included readings from St. Paul and Luke, Bishop Caggiano blessed the bronze medals with an engraving of St. Augustine on the front and the seal of the Diocese of Bridgeport on the reverse side.
“Every day we pray for you that God gives protection and the power of his spirit for you to continue to live hopeful and generous lives,” Bishop Caggiano said in his closing remarks. “At a time when so many people wonder where God is, you make his compassion, mercy and presence real.”
A reception for recipients and guess followed the service at Kolbe Cathedral High School on the Cathedral Grounds. The November issue of Fairfield County Catholic will include photos and a brief profile of all recipients.
(Left to right) Thomas DeJulio, Esq., Rosemary DeJulio, Ph.D., Candace Finnegan, Michael Finnegan, Very Rev. James F. Puglisi, Minister General, Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, Mary Higgins Clark, Honorary Dinner Chair, Robert Rooney and Lisa Rooney, M.D at the 20th Annual Sharing Hope Dinner
NEW YORK—On Friday, October 11, the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement held their Platinum 20th Anniversary Sharing Hope Celebration Dinner at the Pierre Hotel in New York City, where over two hundred and fifty guests were in attendance.
The dinner honors individuals who exemplify the Friars’ charism of unity and At-one-ment and demonstrate Franciscan spirit in their lives by committing their time, talents and resources in service to humanity. This annual event raises funds to support the mission and ministries of the Friars at Graymoor and around the world. Best-selling author Mary Higgins Clark chaired the dinner and served as emcee.
Thomas DeJulio, Esq. and Rosemary DeJulio, Ph.D., of Bronxville, were honored with The Graymoor Sharing Hope Award in recognition of their outstanding efforts helping children and young adults through Kiwanis International and Fordham University. Tom has been recognized by many organizations and presently is President of Kiwanis International. He is a recipient of the Denzel Washington Boys and Girls Club Community Service Award and is a member of the Mount Vernon High School Hall of Fame. For four decades, he has been an advisor to students in Circle K, the collegiate arm of Kiwanis. Rosemary has been an active member of Kiwanis for the past twenty five years. A past president of the Fordham chapter, she was the first woman to serve as Lt. Governor of Kiwanis’ Bronx-Westchester Division in 1995. Because of their dedication, countless children have been saved and have grown to become responsible adults leading better lives. Tom also is General Counsel of Fordham University and Rosemary is Assistant to the President of Fordham. Thomas and Rosemary are an inspiration that echoes the Friars’ Franciscan spirit to help those in need.
Robert Rooney and Lisa Rooney, M.D., of Greenwich, received The Graymoor Award. Lisa is a dedicated pediatrician caring for the physical, psychological, and social needs of her patients and their families. She serves on the Pediatric Executive Committee at Stamford Hospital, is a member of the Board of Directors for the Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut and has helped coordinate the Leadership Training Program of Regnum Christi, a youth ministry for girls. Bob is Founding Past President of the Fairfield County Chapter of Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice, which spreads the understanding and implementation of Catholic social teaching. He serves on the Advisory Boards for St. John’s University’s Tobin School of Business, Fairfield University’s Center for Faith and Public Life and the Dominican Provence of St. Joseph’s economic council. Bob and Lisa are very active in their parish of St. Catherine of Siena, in Riverside, CT. In serving the needs of countless individuals with their time and resources, Bob and Lisa bring to life the prayer of St. Francis “to heal, to unite and to bring home those who have lost their way.”
Michael and Candace Finnegan, of Garrison, received The Graymoor Community Service Awardfor their dedication and service in support of veterans and his involvement inmany public service and environmental activities. Michael served on the Boards ofHope for a Healthier Humanity, Siena College, the Boy Scouts and the Audubon Society. Hechaired the Hudson River Task Force, which led to the creation of the Riversand Estuaries Institute Center on the Hudson. Michael has been recognized for his service to veterans, public service, and the environment with the Conspicuous Service Medal—New York State’s highest award forcivilian service. He is a trustee for the National Resources Defense Council, a Board Member of Catholic Charities for theArchdiocese of NY and is a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Michael and Candace exemplify the Friars’ Franciscan spirit to spend “minimum on self; maximum to God and neighbor.”
The Franciscan Friars of the Atonement are a Roman Catholic order of brothers and priests founded in 1898 by Fr. Paul Wattson, SA at Graymoor in Garrison, New York. Since that time, the Friars have worked for reconciliation and healing through “at-one-ment”—the unity of men and women with God and with one another— so that the prayer of Jesus “that they all may be one” might be fulfilled. Through their mission and ministries they serve people of every race, religion, and walk of life. Their social ministries help the poor, the needy, and the homeless; people living with HIV; frail and elderly in hospitals and hospices; those in prison; and people seeking recovery from alcoholism and chemical addictions. Their ecumenical work makes them leaders of the international movement to heal the divisions within Christianity and among all faiths. Through their prayers and pastoral ministries, they bring spiritual renewal, unity, harmony, and reconciliation throughout the world and carry the Gospel message to three continents. For more information about the friars, visit atonementfriars.org.
DANBURY—No matter how horrible the tragedy that strikes a life or a community, people have to move on out of an obligation to live their own lives and care for others who depend on them, said former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani at the Tenth Annual Celebrity Breakfast of Catholic Charities.
Speaking to a gathering of almost 550 people in the Amber Room, Mayor Giuliani said that every day since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he has lived with images of the death and destruction in his mind.Noting that many Newtown residents will soon be facing the first anniversary of the tragedy that took the lives of 26 children and teachers, Rudolph Giuliani said that is important to balance images of suffering and loss with positive thoughts of the love and courage people demonstrate after a tragedy.
“You don’t have to stop thinking about it. Almost every day it comes back to me,” he said of his 9/11 memories, “but you should also finish your thoughts by thinking about all those who embrace you and care about you.”
The Mayor offered poignant praise for the Fr. Mychal Judge, a friend and FDNY chaplain, who was the first recorded victim of 9/11.
The Mayor, who asked Fr. Judge to pray for the city just moments before he was struck and killed by falling debris from the towers, said a prayer after learning of his death.
"I said, Dear God I’m going to have to make decisions, and I don’t know if they’ll be right or wrong. It’s up to you to make them right.”
He said Fr. Judge taught him that “the only answer to evil is love and the only answer to great sorrow is love and going on to help other people.”
Citing Winston Churchill as his hero, he said he thought of the British leader often after the 9/11 attacks, and knew that he had to exhort New Yorkers to be stronger, but at the time the city’s future looked uncertain.
“I don’t know if it was a prayer, a hope or a boast, but I wanted to tell people, let’s be stronger. But I wasn’t sure we could. Tragedy either crushes you or makes you stronger,” he said. “I wanted them to keep their eyes on Ground Zero but also lift them up toward our future.”
Both Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and St. Rose of Lima Pastor, Msgr. Robert Weiss, thanked Mayor Giuliani for coming to Newtown after the December 14 shootings and reaching out to the people.
“We are deeply indebted to him for being there at one of our lowest moments,” said Mayor Boughton.
“The best advice I received on those difficult days following December 14 was from Mayor Giuliani,” Msgr. Weiss said. “He brought comfort and consolation not just because he’s a great leader, he’s really a man with a heart.”
Mayor Giuliani returned the compliment by praising Msgr. Weiss for his pastoral strength and leadership after the Newtown shootings.
"You either face tragedy and help other people or you don't," "And he stood up for a whole community under a tremendous situation,” said the Mayor, noting that if he wrote another book on heroes, Fr. Bob would be included.
In his talk, which focused entirely on the response to 9/11, Mayor Giuliani praised the work of Catholic Charities both in New York City and in the great Danbury area. He said that in both communities, Catholic Charities played a leading role in helping others to get needed services and come to terms with the crisis. Proceeds from the breakfast will benefit the Behavioral Health Clinic of Catholic Charities, which has provided crisis and ongoing clinical services to Newtown families affected by the tragedy.
In brief remarks before leading the closing prayer, Bishop Frank Caggiano, a lifelong Brooklyn resident, thanked Mayor Giuliani for his service.
“When American needed someone to bring people together, when we needed confidence and hope, you rose to the occasion as a leader.”
He praised Catholic Charities for serving the “poorest of the poor, and those the world would like us to forget, but we will not forget them, “ and he expressed his admiration for the people of Newtown.
“In the face of unspeakable evil you responded with love. That’s what makes us a community of believers.”
This year’s event was co-chaired by Lisa Donovan of Brewster, New York, a parishioner of St. Edward the Confessor Parish in New Fairfield, and Claudia Menezes of Ridgefield, a member of St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Ridgefield. Maureen Knup of Brookfield is serving as President of the Catholic Charities of Danbury Advisory Board.
Catholic Charities of Greater Danbury offers a wider range of services including Behavioral Health counseling, the Family Loan program, Morning Glory Breakfast Program, Homeless Outreach, Community Support and New Heights recovering program for those struggling with mental illness. For information call 203-743-4412.
Bishop Frank J. Caggiano with Mary Alice and Thomas O’Malley.
The James and Catherine Lucey Parish Hall is named in memory
of Mary Alice’s parents. (Photo by Kathy DiGiovanni)
RIVERSIDE—On September 28, St. Catherine of Siena Parish celebrated its 100th anniversary with a gala Centennial Dinner in the James and Catherine Lucey Parish Hall.
The dinner was one of numerous activities held during the centennial year, including a Centennial Mass and reception, an interfaith panel discussion, a Mozart concert, a trip to Italy, and a choral concert featuring Chanticleer. All of the year’s events honor the diversity and breadth of the parish and its parishioners.
Billed as “An Evening in Siena,” the dinner celebrated the beauty, pageantry and culture of Siena, Italy, birthplace of the parish patroness, St. Catherine. Guests were welcomed into an Italian courtyard, replete with a fountain, grape arbor and beds of lavender, where they received seating cards for their “contrade,” as dinner tables were grouped into the ancient districts of Siena.
Parish music director Mark Kaczmarczyk and cantor Abby Powell presented a selection of Italian arias, love songs and familiar favorites. Aux Délices catered a sumptuous Tuscan dinner, and Billy and the Showmen delighted the attendees with Italian standards and dance music throughout the evening. A highlight was the staging of Il Palio, the centuries old horse race that takes place each summer in the central Piazza of Siena. The contestants, representing their contrade, were cheered mightily as they advanced astride their hobbyhorses, with the winning contrade celebrating with a prosecco toast.
“This was a great evening put together by a wonderfully talented team of parishioners,” said Eileen Grasso, chair of the Centennial Committee. “I think we truly captured the rich heritage and spirit of this great faith community.”
Special guest Bishop Frank J. Caggiano complimented the committee and the parishioners on the vibrancy of the parish. He asked the assembled to pray for him and said he is "ready to listen and learn about the needs of all of God's people, as fellow pilgrims on the journey of faith."
“I am proud to be the pastor of this wonderful community, Msgr. Alan Detscher, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena, told the gathering. “It is a place where God’s word is proclaimed, where beautiful music and liturgy, intellectual challenge and personal connections nourish and inspire all who worship here.”
St. Mark School Principal Gene Holmes stands in front of new steel
doors with small windows as a technician upgrades the electronic
lock system at the school’s main entrance. At right are classroom
windows that now have a film on them, which will hold the glass
together even if penetrated by gunfire. These are part of an overall
upgrade to security measures there. Greg Reilly photo.
STRATFORD—As Stratford Public Schools is making security upgrade changes at school buildings with supplementary funds from the town and grants from the state to potentially delay a would-be intruder, Stratford’s two Catholic schools have made similar upgrades with their own fund raising.
St. Mark School on Wigwam Road has spent about $65,000 on security upgrades from monies raised from special events and private donations, according to Principal Gene Holmes. The school has 225 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade.
The improvements began in January, shortly after the massacre at nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School, last Dec. 14.
Steel doors have replaced glass doors at the school entrances, Holmes said, and a thick but translucent polyethylene film has been applied to the school’s windows to hold the glass together even if penetrated by gunfire. This is designed to thwart entering the school through a window.
Holmes said that one of his goals with the security upgrades was to avoid creating a prison-like appearance to the school. He agreed with Stratford Public Schools Superintendent Janet Robinson, who has told The Star that a primary purpose of security upgrades is to delay an intruder and improve notification to police so their response time is as quick as can be.
Stratford officials, including Mayor John Harkins, police Chief Patrick Ridenhour and Lt. Melissa Niemiec, have visited St. Mark and consulted with Holmes numerous times, the principal said, and he understands that police “response time to any school in Stratford is about one and a half minutes.”
Other hardware upgrades made at St. Mark include installation of 13 cameras and new buzzers at the eight entrances.
Holmes said the school conducts lockdown drills once a month and separate evacuation drills, also once a month. With police consultation and a committee of volunteer parents, the school has refined its emergency plans, including cutting paths at the perimeter of the property, so that children who might be outdoors during an emergency have an easy exit off the property.
School leaders have had to take on “a whole different mind-set” regarding potential violence at St. Mark, Holmes said, where “in five years here I have not had to break up one fistfight.”
At St. James School on Main Street, which has 350 students prekindergarden through eighth grade, parents have raised and spent about $40,000 on 24 security cameras with a wider scope than previous cameras indoors and outdoors, walkie-talkies for teachers who may be outdoors with students, and improved entrance buzzers and internal phone communications. The entrance doors there already are steel with just small windows.
Principal James Gieryng said that he, too, has had the benefit of Stratford police consultation, and Lt. Niemiec had been monitoring the school’s “intruder drills” that occur monthly.
Gieryng said he also gets assistance from parent volunteers who have various types of security- or building-related professional skills.
The amount of advance notice given to the students about an upcoming emergency drill now varies, Gieryng said. At the beginning of the year, he said, he lets students know the hour of a drill. In subsequent months he will advise only the day to expect a drill, and toward the end of the school year he will announce only the week when a drill will occur.
“It scares the kids,” Gieryng said, “but you can hear a pin drop” during the drills. “The consciousness of what we are doing is a lot better.”
NEW YORK—Gia Elizabeth Szuba, 15 months old, is enjoying her first encounter with Fairfield County Catholic. Gia, who lives in New York City, is the granddaughter of Larry DiPalma, principal of Cathedral Academy in Bridgeport.
In the latest issue of FCC, Mr. DiPalma is pictured chatting with Bridgeport Bishop Frank Caggiano at a reception following the Installation Mass.
Gia was so impressed by the photo of her Grandpa and the Bishop that she climbed on the couch and proudly pointed out the photo to her parents—and then decided to read the rest of the issue!
VATICAN CITY (CNS)—Catholic media are important not only as means of documenting church events, Pope Francis said, but especially as means for bringing the church and the Gospel closer to people.
Catholic media professionals must report news and share stories, "dialoguing with a world that has a need to be listened to and understood, but also needs to receive the message of true life," the pope said October 18.
In a message to employees of the Vatican Television Center, which was marking its 30th anniversary as a producer and distributor of Vatican and papal video, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church needs the best communications media available, but they must be used as a service to the church and part of its evangelizing mission.
"We live in a world in which there is almost nothing that doesn't have something to do with the universe of the media. Increasingly sophisticated instruments reinforce the almost pervasive role of communications technologies, language and forms in daily life, and not only among the young," the pope said.
In the midst of all those words, sounds and images, he said, it is not easy to recount events related to the life of the church, "which is a sign and instrument of an intimate union with God and is the body of Christ, the people of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit."
Catholic media professionals, the pope said, must have "a strong ability to read reality in a spiritual key," as well as a thorough understanding of and respect for the religious events they are covering.
The Vatican Television Center, he said, can bring the pope's words to a massive audience, including to the lonely and to people who live in places where professing Christianity requires courage.
"It is important to remember that the church is present in the world of communications, in all its forms, most of all to lead people to an encounter with the Lord Jesus," he said. "Only an encounter with Jesus can transform human hearts and human history."
Pope Francis, his prepared remarks rolled up in his left hand,
makes a point during his general audience in St. Peter's Square
at the Vatican October 16. (CNS/Paul Haring)
VATICAN CITY (CNS)—The church can describe itself as "apostolic" only if it shares the Gospel with the world, remaining faithful to the teaching of the apostles and living out Gospel values, Pope Francis said.
"A church closed in on itself and its past, a church concerned only with its little rules, customs and attitudes is a church that betrays its identity," the pope told more than 70,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square Oct. 16 for his weekly general audience.
Continuing a series of audience talks about how the creed describes the church, Pope Francis said the adjective "apostolic" comes from the church's connection to the 12 men Jesus chose as his closest companions and sent to share with the entire world what he had told and shown them.
The church, he said, has "the firm conviction of being sent," and of having an obligation to "safeguard and transmit" the teaching of the apostles.
Pope Francis said he wanted to emphasize the connection between the church's apostolic identity and its obligation to be missionary, "because Christ calls everyone to go out, to encounter others; he sends us, asks us to move in order to bring the joy of the Gospel."
"Once again," he said, "let's ask ourselves: Are we missionaries with our words, but especially with our Christian lifestyles; are we witnesses? Or are we closed, both in our hearts and inside our churches? Are we 'sacristy Christians,' Christians in word only who live like pagans?"
The pope said he wasn't trying to scold anyone. "I also ask myself, 'How am I a Christian? With my witness?"
"Let us rediscover today all the beauty of being an apostolic church," the pope told the crowd. "And remember, eh, it is apostolic because we pray -- our first task—and because we proclaim the Gospel through our lives and also with our words."
Pope Francis said the Gospel "isn't an idea or a philosophy," but a living relationship with Jesus Christ. "Without Jesus there is no church."
The guarantee that the church is teaching and sharing the authentic Jesus, he said, comes through its fidelity to the teaching and preaching of the apostles.
"Through the centuries, the church preserves this precious treasure, which is the sacred Scriptures, the sacraments and the ministry of its pastors so that we can be faithful to Christ and participate in his life," Pope Francis said.
The church, he said, "is like a river that flows, it develops and irrigates, but the water that flows is always that which comes from the spring, from Jesus himself."
The pope also described the church as being like a plant that grows over time and bears fruit, but lives only as long as it is rooted in Christ.
FAIRFIELD—Catechetical Congress Symposium on Faith on November 16 from 7:45am-5pm with Guest Speakers Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and Msgr. Robert Weiss of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown to be held at Sacred Heart University, 5151 Park Avenue, Fairfield.
To view/print flyer click here:
For more info go to
For the registration form:
NEWTOWN—Many thanks to our friends at the Knights of Columbus Council at St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown—Tim Haas, Larry Rice and Doug Olah came to Saint Catherine Academy today for a tour and delivered a very generous check.
This is Tootsie Roll Drive time—many councils donate the proceeds from this effort to Saint Catherine's. So support your local Council when you see them in your towns over the next few weeks.
HAMDEN—Monsignor William F. Schultz died on October 14, 2013 in Hamden, CT. He was 75.
He was born October 7, 1938, in Paterson, NJ. He attended St. Mary College in northeastern Pennsylvania and the Seminary of Mount St. Alphonsus in Esopus, NY. He was ordained by Francis Cardinal Spellman at Mount St. Alphonsus on June 21, 1964.
His first assignment was at St. Clement Parish in Saratoga Springs, NY. Coming to this diocese, he was assigned first to St. Augustine Cathedral Parish and then to St. Andrew Parish, both in Bridgeport. In 1968, he was appointed to the faculty of Notre Dame Girls High School.
He was incardinated into the Diocese of Bridgeport in 1973. He returned to St. Augustine’s in 1974, and was named pastor there in 1976. He served on the Priests’ Council from 1975-76.
Msgr. Schultz became pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Bridgeport, in 1982. He was named an Honorary Prelate of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, with the title of Monsignor, on July 14, 1988.
Msgr. Schultz was named pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish in Stratford in 1995. He would remain at Our Lady of Grace until his retirement in 2012.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated for Msgr. Schultz at the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Wayne, NJ, the home parish of his sister, Frances Iczkowski, on October 19 at 11 am.
A Memorial Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at Our Lady of Grace Church on October 22 at 10 am.
NEW YORK—Bishop Frank Caggiano delivers the homily at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City Monday before the traditional Columbus Day Parade.
Click here to watch the video. Introduction by Cardinal Dolan begins at approx 22:00 into the broadcast.
NEWTOWN—On October 5, the St. Rose of Lima National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) participated in Dig Deep’s Walk for Water walk-a-thon.
The Walk-A-Thon raised money to build wells to provide clean water in South Sudan. Last year, the organization raised enough funds to build four wells, bringing fresh water to over 1,000 men, women, and children.
The NJHS was eager to participate in this year’s event, particularly after reading the Sue Parks novel, A Long Walk to Water. Park’s story describes the lives of two youth in South Sudan and the hardships that they faced due to war and lack of resources. The story of a child named Nya detailed her days of traveling to and from water sources, bringing home dirty water to her family, which her mother boiled and purified as best as possible. Due to her family needs, Nya was unable to be educated. Many people in her village died as a result to lack of clean water. In addition to reading the book, students have been engaged in engineering a deep water well in their STEM classes and gleaned a real-life understanding of the many challenges that villages in the South Sudan face with the lack of necessary materials and supplies to build adequate wells.
Because of Park’s story and their STEM experience, all 13 students were personally moved by the efforts of David Plaue from Dig Deep. Dig Deep makes a difference in the lives of many in the Sudan regions by raising monies to build wells. The NJHS members, as well as parents and siblings, walked 1.5 miles at Fairfield Hills. Then, they collected 8 pounds of dirty water (1 gallon, or two two-liter jugs), and walked another 1.5 miles to simulate Nya, and many other children’s daily experiences in South Sudan.
Upon asking how this event has influenced you, one student responded, “I am so thankful that I get to go to school every day instead of having to do this all day.”
(For more information about Dig Deep, please visit www.digdeepwater.org.)
FAIRFIELD—During the month of September, students and parents of Notre Dame High School, Fairfield were asked to donate food items for ND's September Hunger Awareness Food Drive.
On October 9 students went to the CT Food Bank in Fairfield to package items to deliver to people in need all over the state of CT. (L-R): Mario Nunes, Tori Samultuski, Becky Stefanatos, Abby Porzio, Justin Pavlik and Kenneth Dubose
FAIRFIELD—On Sunday, October 6, students from Notre Dame High School in Fairfield traveled to Danbury to participate in a Life Chain, a peaceful and prayerful witness to the sanctity and beauty of all life beginning in the womb.
With others, they lined Main Street on either side with signs reminding people of how precious the gift of life is (L-R): Jessica Fogassa, Hannah Rich, Tyler DaSilva, Nick DaSilva, Alex D'Aurio, Father Peter Cipriani, Lauren BerardandMrs. D'Aurio
From the CT Post -- email@example.com
SHELTON—Asked what St. Joseph Parish means to her, Irene Liguori, who has worshipped there for 40 years, took a few moments to ponder her response.
Then she said firmly, "It's like a rock."
On Sunday, Liguori and a crowd of others who have made St. Joseph central to their practice of the Catholic faith gathered within the church's ornate walls to celebrate the building's dedication, exactly 100 years ago.
Shelton's Catholic parish dates back to March 1906. For a few years, Masses migrated between other churches, halls and one temporary church.
St Joseph's cornerstone was laid in August 1907, and beginning the following February parishioners gathered weekly in a basement chapel as construction continued above.
Five years later, the upper church, costing $54,450, was completed and dedicated on Oct. 13, 1913.
A pair of honored guests Sunday are literal living bookends of St. Joseph's first 100 years.
New Bishop Frank Caggiano -- installed in September -- led Mass, while Shelton native Peter Gerety, the 101-year-old, retired archbishop of Newark, N.J., co-presided from a chair to the side of the alter.
Gerety, according to St. Joseph officials, grew up two blocks from the building, and as a 1-year-old child he was "probably present" for its opening.
"That was pretty impressive," said Aaron Greenfield, who joined St. Joseph with his wife seven years ago when the family moved to Shelton. "That doesn't happen very often."
Caggiano, who during his homily stepped off the altar to the center aisle to better engage the crowd, repeatedly emphasized that Sunday's anniversary was not just a celebration of wood, bricks and mortar, but of the St. Joseph community, past and present.
"We stand upon their shoulders," Caggiano said, adding, "If those who came before us had not remained firm in faith, this church would not have lasted."
Caggiano continued, "We are not here just to celebrate a static building, because it continues to evolve, doesn't it?"
Following Mass, attendees were scheduled to bless a newly renovated church hall and elevator.
"This is not a museum. This is a living building," Caggiano said.
He said he expected that in 100 years, celebrants at St. Joseph will look back and thank the church's present community for keeping it vital.
New mother Caitlin Kelley watched the proceedings from a rear room with her 5-month-old son, Camden.
"My family's always gone here," Kelley said, noting that she, her father and grandfather graduated from St. Joseph Catholic School.
Looking at Camden, Kelley added, "Hopefully we'll send him, too."
TRUMBULL—Spiritual healing is an important part of the recovery from pornography addiction, saidCatholic therapist and author Dr. Peter Kleponis, who specializes in treating individuals and families harmed by pornography.
On October 9 speaking to a gathering of 175 teachers, religious educators, youth ministers and priests in St. Catherine of Siena Parish Family Center in Nichols, Dr. Kleponis said that Men’s groups in parishes can be an important setting for the discussion and mutual support for individuals “struggling with pornography addiction.”
He said that the craving for pornography is often the result of emotional wounds, family trauma and other longstanding problems that erode people’s trust in God and faith in themselves.
“In most cases Pornography has nothing to do with sex, it’s more about intimacy,” said, noting that people turn to it as “self-medication” when they are burned out, stressed, bored and angry.
Dr. Kleponis said studies show that pornography, like any addictive substance, can provide temporary euphoria and escape but often leaves the person feeling worthless and more dependent on increasing usage.
Distinguishing between a pornography problem of occasional usage and addiction, Dr. Kleponis said people reach an addictive stage with daily viewing and “binges” on weekends in which they lock themselves up with the computer.
He said that serious cases of addiction threaten marriages and employment and require professional counseling and a “12-step” approach like Alcoholics Anonymous in which people admit their dependence and their need for group support.
The author of the book, “The Pornography Epidemic: A Catholic Response” said that pornography use “cuts across age, gender, racial, cultural, religious and socio/economic lines” and has grown in intensity and availability because of the internet.
“Statistics show 47 percent of Christians say pornography is a problem in their home. Children and youth are also affected by it,” he said. On average, children are first exposed to pornography at 11-years-old, distorting their view of sexuality.
The effects of pornography on kids and teens are even worse. Here are some more sobering statistics:
· The average age when a child first encounters hard-core pornography is 11.80% of 15 – 17 year olds have had multiple exposures to hard-core pornography
· The largest single population of internet pornography users is 12 – 17 year olds.
· 89% of all solicitations in chat rooms are of a sexual nature
· 29% of 7 – 17 year olds would freely give out their addresses online
National research shows that a growing number of women view pornography and that women are twice as likely as men to visit internet chat rooms, where they seek “fantasy relationships.”
Dr. Kleponis said that many women are devastated when they discover pornography use by their husbands because they view it as an affair in which the man choses to spend time with other women. He added that pornography is a factor in 56% of all divorces.
He said that while the Church has been criticized for being “preoccupied with sex,” the secular acceptance of pornography has led to an assortment of ills including child abuse, sex slavery, prostitution and broken marriages while distorting the true nature of sexuality and relationships.
Healing for people begins when they admit they have a problem and a need for help to deal with their spiritual and personal loneliness, said Dr. Kleponis. “You need God. Faith is crucial to recovery, letting go of the shame and reclaiming your personal dignity,” he said, adding that daily prayer, regular confession and finding a spiritual director can help a person grow in virtue and achieve wholeness.
He urged those in attendance to study Blessed John Paul II, “Theology of the Body,” which offers an integrated view of body, mind and spirit. Paraphrasing John Paul, he said that the great lie of pornography is that it strips the sexual act from human intimacy. “It’s problem is not that it reveals too much of the body, but too little of the person who is reduced to sexual parts,” Dr. Keponis said.
Anative of the Philadelphia area with an M.A. in Clinical-Counseling Psychology and a Ph.D. in General Psychology, Dr. Kleponis is a noted therapist and speaker who has integrated Catholic spirituality into the therapeutic process in his more than fifteen years of private practice.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has recently and strongly encouraged clergy and lay leaders to understand and address the issue of pornography. His talk was sponsored by Office of Clergy and Religious, the Office for Education and the Office for Pastoral Services of the Diocese of Bridgeport.
Photo: During a break at yesterday’s talk, noted Therapist and author Dr. Peter Kleponis shows off his new book, The Pornography Epidemic: A Catholic Approach. More than 175 educators, youth ministers and priests attended his talk on the spiritual and emotional damage done by pornography.
Grand Knight George Ribellino presenting
the Knights Appreciation Award to AJ Cosutto.
NORWALK—St. Matthew Parish’s great room was packed to capacity on Saturday evening, October 5, for St. Matthew Norwalk Council 14360′s Second Annual Macaroni Dinner.
With nearly 230 guests, the dinner was officially sold out. It was by any measure a huge success, raising money for the local charitable causes supported by the Council such as Malta House and Notre Dame Convalescent Home.
Many attendees also brought with them non-perishable food items to help re-stock the St. Matthew Church food pantry. A large amount of food was collected and a raffle for an impressive Italian-themed gift basket was held, with all those who donated a food item receiving a ticket. Parishioner Tina McDermott was the lucky winner.
A number of awards were presented at the dinner, including:
- Special Awards for many years of service to the K of C: Bill Berger and Paul Bowles
- Award of Special Thanks: Steve Buckett
- St. Matthew Parish Family of the Year Award: the Bouffard family
- Council 14360 Family of the Year: the O’Connor family
- Council 14360 Service Appreciation Award: A.J. Cossuto
- Knight of the Year: Mike Colaluca, Past Grand Knight
The event was chaired once again by Grand Knight George Ribellino and Deputy Grand Knight Scott Criscuolo. Special thanks go out to John and Paula Corrado for providing some wonderful music and to Megan Riobo for her dynamic guest vocal performance. For more details, check out saintmatthewknights.com.
HARTFORD—Watch this memorable interview in which Fr. John Gatzak, Director of Communications of the Archdiocese of Hartford, sits down with The Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano, newly named Fifth Bishop of Bridgeport.
That's The Spirit 9/29/13: An interview with Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, the newly appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport.
That's The Spirit 10/6/13: Part two of our conversation with Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, the newly appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport.
"That's The Spirit" is hosted by Father John Gatzak and produced by the Office of Radio & Television of the Archdiocese of Hartford. "That's The Spirit" is broadcast Sunday morning at 10:45 on WCCT-TV The CW20, following The Celebration of the Eucharist, except when The Celebration of the Eucharist is broadcast from a local parish. Made available courtesy of ORTV. For more information visit: www.ortv.org or www.wjmj.org.
TRUMBULL—When St. Joseph High School Principal, Mr Ken Mayo, was asked by the The Connecticut Association of Schools to nominate a student for possible service as a member of the State Student Advisory Council on Education (SSACE), there was no hesitation in his nomination.
And it seems the Council agreed with him, as they recently appointed St. Joseph High School senior Sophia Ronga to the 2013-14 Student State Advisory Council on Education.
Sophia is one of only a handful of students across the State, who successfully completed a lengthy application process and who subsequently were offered a place.
The Council gives Connecticut students a voice in education planning and enables the State board of Education, the Commissioner of Education, State Department of Education personnel, the Governor, and state legislators to become familiar with high school students’ perspectives on key issues.
This is not a position in name only: as a council member, Sophia will meet throughout the academic year with the Commissioner of Education, and on occasion with the Governor, to reflect student opinion in areas of concern in the high schools. However, the Council is a benefit for these student leaders as well: through discussions and activities Sophia and her peers will learn from each other about citizenship, leadership, and responsibility.
Says Sophia, “I am excited to be working with the committee for the improvement of education in Connecticut. I am prepared to speak on behalf of my peers to give the state officials a better perspective on how their decisions affect students.” St. Joe's and Education in Connecticut is in good hands.
A GREAT WEEK IN PITTSBURGH—The St. Pius Youth Group
took their mission trip to Pittsburgh this summer. Sixteen year
old Kelly Walsh (third from right in first row) was among the 12
young people from St. Pius and one from St. Thomas who
volunteered and had a great time doing it.
FAIRFIELD—“What an incredible week in Pittsburgh for the St. Pius Youth Group! We learned about sacrifice through our service, grew closer to one another, and grew in our faith,” says 16-year-old Kelly Walsh, of her recent Mission Trip to help the poor in Pennsylvania.
It was the second mission trip for the Fairfield Ludlow High School junior who served in last year’s work camp in Groton, MA. She says that working in the intense heat and roughing it in a local high school was a rewarding experience that deepened her faith.
The Fairfield team included 12 young people from St. Pius X Parish along with one student from St. Thomas Parish. Jess Harris, the St. Thomas youth minister volunteered to lead the trip, and recruited three chaperones.
“We’re very grateful to all of the parishioners who helped to sponsor the Mission Trip and to the chaperones who stepped up to guide the effort,” said Fr. Michael Dogali, Pastor of St. Pius X Parish. “I am really proud of our young people for growing in faith and charity through this challenging experience.”
The young parishioners made the trip from July 14-20 as part of the Catholic Heart Work Camp program, a Florida based effort founded to engage Catholic youth through faithful work, prayer and the sacraments, while serving the poor, elderly and disabled.
They were among 207 participants from various states were divided into about 30 groups. Each was assigned a different worksite such as a home in need of repair, a community project or a food bank.
“The most interesting project I encountered was an empty lot that a local charity had purchased. Nearly 60 volunteers from work camp were sent to ‘the pit’ to dig a space where a Splash Pad for inner city children will be built,” says Kelly.
Working alongside underprivileged teenagers from the area was rewarding experience for Kelly and her team.
“It was cool because we could tell that they were motivated by the large group from Catholic Heart Work Camp,” she says, noting that on the last day of work, the camp staff asked if anyone would like to share their experience with the group.
“It was touching to hear the residents share how we helped them, and more importantly inspired them. Some of them were so visibly touched by us, but I personally think we gained more out of the experience.”
Although the work was tough, she looked forward to spending time with the youth group every night and to the opportunity for spiritual growth.
“One thing which made our group unique was that we would all attend daily mass, even though it was optional for other campers. By participating in Mass and the Rosary whenever it was offered, I was able to grow in my faith and witness other member of the group grow closer to God.”
She says that after living in high school for a week, she returned home with a greater sense of appreciation for everything she has. She is also grateful to the parishioners who helped with fund raising and prayed for a successful trip.
“Working hard, especially in the heat, taught us to make small sacrifices for others and helped me appreciate sacrifices people make for me, and most importantly, Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross.”
FAIRFIELD—More than 70 golfers and guests turned out for the First St. John Fisher Seminary Golf Outing held on Monday September 30 at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield.
Click here for a slideshow
The event raised over $10,000 for the seminary, which is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its founding by Cardinal Edward Egan when he served as Bishop of Bridgeport.
Some of the players also got to meet Bishop Frank Caggiano, who stopped in to greet golfers before play began. "We're off to a very successful start and we plan to do it again next year," said Fr. Robert Kinnally, Director of Vocations and Rector of the Seminary. "We're very grateful to all who played, participated and sponsored the event." The St. John Fisher Seminary Residence provides men with a suitable venue in which to discern the possibility of priestly service in the diocese.
Click here for full coverage of the Installation of Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.
**NEW** 300+ additional pictures from the Installation are now available (Oct 1, 2013)
More than 1,200 Welcome New Bishop
Caggiano Becomes Bridgeport Bishop In Ceremony Of Hope
Bridgeport Bishop Frank Caggiano presided at a Mass Monday
night at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church in Newtown, CT,
Sept. 30, 2013. The Knights of Columbus presented a $100, 000 gift
to St. Rose for their programs related to last December's school
shooting in Newtown.
NEWTOWN—When he was a child, Frank Caggiano, bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, remembers his mother coaxing him to bed at night with a kiss on the forehead and a whisper of love in Italian that means to "will your good."
At St. Rose of Lima Church on Monday night, Caggiano honored a $100,000 gift from the Knights of Columbus to the parish as just such an act of love.
In his homily, Caggiano celebrated the church's Monsignor Robert Weiss, who was presented with the Caritas Award—"caritas" means love—because it recognizes the love that he and the parish spread in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. The award was presented to Weiss on the eve of his birthday.
Indeed, it is such love, the "willing the good of another," that filled the seats of the church sanctuary on Monday night, the bishop suggested.
An even larger, standing-room-only crowd gathered for a celebratory Mass on Sunday night, marking the bishop's first visit to Newtown and western Connecticut.
"Love is always a choice that is made hundreds of times every day of our life, and it isn't always easy," Caggiano said.
In the months since a gunman blasted his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he killed 26 children and their teachers and administrators, St. Rose of Lima has stood as a beacon of love to families and a community at a loss to understand what occurred.
Weiss has proved a figure of love, compassion and empathy for not just his parish, but for all of Newtown.
Before Monday's special Mass, Weiss said he was humbled by the generosity of the Knights, and he and Caggiano said the honor bestowed upon him is as much for a parish community that has gone above and beyond to showcase love, or "willing the good in others."
"We were surprised, and extremely honored, the Knights would recognize us in this way" Weiss said.
The $100,000 gift, one of the more substantial financial awards given to any one parish, will be used for immediate and long-term needs, Weiss said. In the short run, some of the funds will be used for security on the church campus. Over the long term, money will be used for the parish's continued counseling efforts, including adolescents as they wrestle with questions of faith that can arise from tragedy, he said.
Beyond financial generosity, Caggiano classified the Knights' gift as an acknowledgement of not only the wound suffered in this community, but of "all the good that has happened here."
"There was tremendous tragedy and incredible compassion," he said.
The Caritas award and the financial donation are tangible expressions of the Knights' admiration for "who these people are," the bishop said.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said St. Rose of Lima and its leader have given "such a remarkable testimony to the strength of our Catholic faith, and they made it in front of the world ... And they are still helping families heal."
"We're a community who was handed such a huge cross to bear," Weiss said, reflecting on the story of the good Samaritan who reached out to a lost and broken soul. "This is not about the money, but a recognition of who we are as a community."
Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, delivers his homily at the Convent
of the Sacred Heart, in Greenwich, Conn., Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013.
Photo: Helen Neafsey
The Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano visited Convent of the Sacred Heart on Tuesday, where he led a celebration of the Mass of the Holy Spirit. The event marked his first trip to Greenwich as bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport.
After the Mass, Caggiano spoke with Greenwich Time about the liturgy and some of his goals as bishop.
Q: What were some of the messages that you strived to convey in your homily?
A: Quite honestly, the girls who are here, probably in their day-to-day life, do not realize how blessed they are to be part of this community. What I was hoping to do, in part, was alert them to the fact that this community is really a family that is going to form them in marvelous ways, human ways, intellectually, their gifts and talents and in the life of faith. So, to be aware of how blessed they are, that they're part of this experience, which will last their whole life.
Q: How does education correlate to the church's goals?
A: There are two aspects. What we do in Catholic education is we educate and we form. And both are equally important. When we educate, we pass on the body of knowledge that we have been given -- the humanities, the arts, the sciences and theology itself. But that in of itself does not necessarily guarantee that a person will live life well. You could be successful, but not necessarily live life well -- happy, joyful, wholesome. So, formation is the other piece. Formation is taking a person and molding them, in this case the girls, into the image of the lord, which is what Catholic education does, so that they will make right choices in life, that they'll be people of integrity, that they will do what they say, that they'll be able to (bear) witness to the values that are in their heart. And, quite frankly, that they will not necessarily follow the crowd, but follow what they know in their heart to be true. I think all of our schools do that well, and I think here at Convent of the Sacred Heart they do it very well. Girls will form other girls. Formation is not just from above; it's also horizontal. And they need to realize that. And, in some ways, the girls who were chosen to be ministers of Holy Communion are role models for the younger girls. They are actually going to help form the younger girls by how they live their life. So that's what it means to be family.
Q: What message would you give to the young people in the diocese during a time of uncertainty and adversity?
A: I can summarize it in seven words: We need you, and we want you. They need to know that there's not a single young person who is superfluous, expendable, who could be lost in the shadows. We need every single one of them. And, quite frankly, part of the uncertainty in life, the way I discern it, is that there are many competing voices for their attention, many competing voices that are promising them various things. The question is how do you discern which voice to follow -- that's part of the growing-up process. And, along the way, you're going to make some mistakes, we all do. But the hope is that the mistakes are an occasion to learn, pick yourself up and keep going. In this sort of environment, they have many, many people speaking the same voice, leading them in the same direction. So for them, it's a tremendous blessing. To the young people of the diocese, I guess my appeal would be in addition to saying, "I need you, I welcome you and I want you as part of the church," that I'm going to invite them to walk with me and the leaders of our parishes and schools. Give us a chance to be a voice that they will try to listen to. And see where in the end their heart is going to lead them. Because my hunch is many of them are going to follow what we ask them to do.
by Paul Schott - Greenwich Time
FAIRFIELD—Fairfield University’s School of Engineering is launching a new Saturday program this week to excite students from high schools in Bridgeport about the wonders and promise of engineering.
The Computing Education Academy (CEA) will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for 24 Saturdays during the 2013-14 academic school year, and will be attended by 20 high school sophomores and juniors selected from the Bridgeport Public Schools and the Diocese of Bridgeport. Grants have also funded CEA for another class of twenty students who will begin the program in fall of 2014.
“It’s so vital to get young people in the United States interested in areas like computing and software engineering, because they’re going to grow up to be our next generation of scientists, engineers and innovators,” said Bruce W. Berdanier, Ph.D., professor and dean of the School of Engineering. “This endeavor complements our strategic goal to enhance student interest in engineering and to increase the visibility of the importance of engineering to society through a student-centered approach.”
That mission is vital. The need to develop scientists and engineers in the nation is arguably now more important than ever to stay competitive in a global society. “We believe high school students who have experiences like the Computing Education Academy will want to go on to study engineering in higher education,” Dr. Berdanier said.
Funded by grants from various corporate organizations, including ASML and the United Illuminating Company, CEA will provide opportunities for students to learn key computing concepts and basic computer programming through hands-on activities. Fairfield’s Software Engineering Department faculty designed the curriculum and will teach it with the assistance of School of Engineering graduate and undergraduate students.
Major goals include establishing a fun learning community, according to Amalia Rusu, Ph.D., associate professor of software engineering and CEA co-director. “During the first semester, students will be exposed to key computing concepts and learn basic computer programming and web design through hands-on team projects,” said Dr. Rusu. “For the second semester, the participants will build their computer programming skills and work on mobile apps teamed with college students.”
Promising area students have been selected to be CEA scholars. “High school coordinators from the Bridgeport public schools and from the Diocese of Bridgeport worked with the School of Engineering to recruit great students,” said Wook-Sung Yoo, Ph.D., CEA co-director and chair of the Software Engineering Department. The opportunity to work in teams guided by Software Engineering faculty members ensures a good connection with professional practice and actual applications of computational thinking, Dr. Yoo added.
CEA’s goals are to increase students’ awareness of and motivation to enter computing related college major and computing careers, and broaden and diversify the future computing workforce. Throughout the year, industry professionals from companies will be regularly invited to speak to students about computing career options, while faculty will discuss computing-related majors in higher education.
For more information about Fairfield’s School of Engineering, visit http://www.fairfield.edu/soe/index.html
Before the celebration of Mass Bishop Frank J. Caggiano
was welcomed by students, left; Lizzie Davies, first grade;
Brooke Howell, fourth grade; Mary Jane Tranfo, eighth grade,
and Regina Ferrara, 12th grade, at the Convent of the Sacred
Heart, in Greenwich, Conn., Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013.
Photo: Helen Neafsey
GREENWICH—Growing up in Brooklyn, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano often did not get along with his older sister, Antoniette.
When their arguments flared up, his parents would inevitably intervene. But they did not focus on chastisement, but on reconciliation.
"My dad, who was very athletic, would roll up his sleeve and point to the vein that he would have in his arm, and said, `You see, this blood is in you and this blood is in you. Blood is thicker than water. We are always family first,' " Caggiano recalled Tuesday during a celebration of the Mass of the Holy Spirit at Convent of the Sacred Heart.
Addressing approximately 1,000 students, faculty and other members of the school's community in the school's gymnasium, the recently installed fifth bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport's homily espoused his own vision of family and solidarity.
"Here in this family, in this school, all of you will have the ability to develop the gifts and talents that God has given you," he said. "You will be asked to open your mind to the beauty of the world and the beauty of faith. You will grow into young women who will be leaders in the world and in the church. Every single one of you will be called in your own way to change society for the better."
Enrolling 740 students, Sacred Heart is an independent Catholic school that is not formally affiliated with the diocese. It is all-girls in kindergarten through 12th grade, with a co-ed preschool. About 75 percent of its students are Catholic.
The students also belong to an even broader family, Caggiano explained.
"As I've grown older, I've come to realize that the family God blesses us continues to grow as we grow older," he said. "A family that's not measured by blood, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, whom we honor today with this celebration of Mass, a Holy Spirit that makes you and me brothers and sisters by the power of grace. Every single person in this room is part of one family, a family of faith, a family drawn together in God himself."
The Mass represents a tradition, with Sacred Heart celebrating an opening of school liturgy each year. It also marked Caggiano's first visit to Greenwich since his installation last Thursday. Situated next to the New York state line, Sacred Heart's campus on King Street stands on the western edge of the diocese, which encompasses Fairfield County and includes more than 460,000 registered Catholics
Caggiano exuded a commanding presence during the Mass, as he entered the gymnasium clad in vivid red vestments, a matching mitre and a pastoral staff to symbolize his role as the Good Shepherd. But he balanced the liturgy's solemnity with a more relaxed tone, moving around the gymnasium to engage the students with eye contact and light-hearted quips.
"Just for the record, I'm not old, I'm just older," the bishop, 54, said with a smile.
During the Mass, Sacred Heart also honored Ann Mara's service and commitment to the school, by inducting her as an honorary alumna and giving her a school ring. Mara is the mother of seven Sacred Heart graduates who has also sent seven granddaughters and two great-granddaughters to the school. Mara's late husband, Wellington, was co-owner of the New York Giants.
"Ann and her late husband, Wellington, supported and lived by the goals of this school and are an outstanding example of what it means to be an active participant in spreading the love of the heart of Jesus," said Head of School Pamela Hayes. "We honor her today as the mother who has sent more daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters here than anyone else and because she is a model of Catholic motherhood."
Building on the Big Blue theme, senior D'Nea Galbraith, president of Sacred Heart's Upper School student body, presented the bishop with a Giants hat, as well as a Sacred Heart sports jacket.
"We're already huge fans of yours, and as invitation to join the Sacred Heart fan club, we'd like to give you this jacket," she said.
Caggiano also commissioned 36 Sacred Heart seniors as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, a responsibility that will entail them serving as Eucharistic ministers at school liturgies this year.
"The diocese needs you, and I need you," he told the new ministers. "So my prayer to you is what St. Augustine prayed, that we become what we eat. In your case, that you will become closer to the lord Jesus, so through you he can change the world."
The students' ascension to their new leadership positions culminated a months-long application and training process.
"As seniors, they always tell us we're the head of the students and that we're role models," said Audrey Moukattaf. "And now we're faith role models as well."
In their first act in their new roles, the ministers assisted Caggiano in distributing Communion to their classmates.
The Mass also featured a spirited musical program, including acclamations, hymns and the school song "Coeur de Jesus."
Students praised the bishop as an inspiring, yet down-to-earth figure.
"I loved his homily -- it was very heartfelt," said Tara Hammonds, also a Eucharistic minister. "It was also nice that he came over during the sign of peace and said congratulations and shook all our hands."
Stephanie Mellert, another new minister, shared a similar view.
"His personal story, particularly in his homily, gave a different element, because you could relate more to it," she said. "It was really effective."
by Paul Schott - Greenwich Time
Every October the Catholic Church issues this clarion call. But what exactly does it mean to respect life?
For many Catholics respecting life means that we should pray and work to protect unborn babies from murderous abortion.
With the brutal dismembering of over 1 million aborted unborn brothers and sisters annually in the United States, and the killing of approximately 55 million unborn babies worldwide every year, our efforts to end this grave evil should be maximized and ongoing.
Most every Wednesday, I join several other people near an abortion mill in Baltimore, to witness to the humanity of the unborn and to pray for an end to abortion.
Putting an end to the killing of unborn babies is a priority for me, and it is a priority for the Catholic Church. But it is not the only priority.
The concern of Christ and the Catholic Church for the suffering of the world, is not limited to any one group of people – born or unborn.
Our deep and active concern must be directed to all. For in the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II “we are all really responsible for all.”
So we are not to rank prolife, social justice and peace issues, we are to link them. It’s what the Catholic Church calls the “consistent ethic of life.”
In 1983, as head of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, the late Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin, championed for our time, the early church's consistent pro-life ethic.
During an address at St. Louis University, Cardinal Bernardin said, "The case for a consistent ethic of life – one that stands for the protection of the right to life and the promotion of the rights, which enhance life from womb to tomb … is both a complex and demanding tradition.
"It joins the humanity of the unborn infant and the humanity of the hungry; it calls for positive legal action to prevent the killing of the unborn or the aged and positive societal action to provide shelter for the homeless and education of the illiterate."
So therefore, not just the unborn, not just the poor, not just the hungry, not just the homeless, not just the war-torn, not just the undocumented, not just the medically uninsured, not just condemned prisoners, not just the environment and not just future generations, but all of the above deserve our care. Everyone’s life and dignity needs to be fully protected and respected.
Catholics, and all Christians, cannot ignore the Lord’s call to consistently build-up the Kingdom of God – the kingdom Jesus calls for in the last judgment scene of Matthew’s Gospel – where the hungry are fed, the thirsty are refreshed, the strangers are welcomed, the naked are clothed, the sick are cared for and prisoners are visited.
In Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s words, “Love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential [to the church] as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel.” (“Deus Caritas Est,” No. 22).
During this time when so many of those who hold political and economic power are cutting anti-poverty assistance programs and waging war on the born and unborn, the followers of the God of Life and the Prince of Peace, must prophetically proclaim: “Thus says the Lord, respect every life! And give priority to the poor and vulnerable!”
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.
MONROE—Saint Jude School, a Catholic elementary school in Monroe, CT was honored today for its academic excellence through the U.S. Department of Education’s National Blue Ribbon Schools Program.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today recognized 286 schools as the 2013 cohort of National Blue Ribbon Schools, based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in improving student academic achievement. Secretary Duncan made this year’s announcement live via the Department's USTREAM channel, viewed by recognized principals, teachers, and students assembled across the country.
St. Jude School is the only Catholic elementary school in the state to be named this year, and it is the 14th elementary school in the Diocese of Bridgeport to earn the national distinction.
“This is great news for our diocese,” said newly named Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, “and my sincere thanks go out to all of those who worked to make this possible. Our youth are the hope and future of the Church, and through the grace of God they are endowed with many gifts and talents that our schools and dedicated teachers help to guide and develop.”
Sister Mary Grace Walsh, A.S.C.J. Interim Superintendent of Diocesan Schools, congratulated St. Jude School Principal Mrs. Patricia Griffin, and Msgr. John Sabia, pastor of St. Jude Parish, and “the faculty, students and parents of St. Jude School Community who strive each day to seek academic excellence rooted in Gospel Values.”
“We are very proud of their achievement. It reflects the hard work of students, teachers, parents and the entire learning community,” she said, noting that the Diocese remains committed to academic excellence while also providing a solid moral foundation for students.
“Fifty percent of our schools have now earned national recognition as Blue Ribbon Schools. Most importantly, we have achieved academic excellence in a faith-based environment,” Sister Mary Grace said.
The National Blue Ribbon Schools award honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students perform at very high levels or where significant improvements are being made in students’ levels of achievement.
The Department will honor 236 public and 50 private schools at a recognition ceremony on Nov. 18-19 in Washington, D.C. In its 31-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed this coveted award on nearly 7,500 of America’s schools.
The program recognizes schools in one of two performance categories. St. Jude School is being honored as “Exemplary High Performing,” in which schools are recognized among their state’s highest performing schools, as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests.
St. Jude School Principal Patricia Griffin, said “The entire Saint Jude School community is incredibly proud to receive this recognition for academic excellence. Each day, our faculty and students work together to expand their knowledge, to grow as individuals and to support each other as a school community. We are grateful to be counted among the best schools in the nation and look forward to continuing a tradition of rigorous education.”
ABOUT SAINT JUDE SCHOOL
Founded in 1962, Saint Jude School is a pre-school through Grade 8 Catholic school located in Monroe, CT. Saint Jude School provides a quality education in an environment rooted in faith and a commitment to the community. Saint Jude School serves families from Monroe and area towns, such as Trumbull, Shelton, Easton, Oxford, Newtown and Seymour. For additional information, please visit http://stjudemonroe.org
ABOUT THE CATHOLIC SCHOOLS OF THE DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT
The Diocese of Bridgeport sponsors 29 schools for students in PK - Grade 8 , one special education school, and five high schools throughout Fairfield County with a total enrollment of nearly 10,000 students. Fourteen of its schools have been awarded Department of Education Blue Ribbon School designation for National Excellence. All schools are fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and colleges (NEASC). For more information about Catholic schools in Fairfield county, go to http://www.catholicschoolsfairfieldcounty.com
TRUMBULL—An enthusiastic group of St. Joseph High School students served recently at Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County in Bridgeport.
The team travelled to several sites for Habitat, tackling a variety of jobs.
Students worked alongside future Habitat homeowners, digging holes for fence posts, clearing tall weeds and debris and moving giant rocks from the sites in order to make these areas clean and safe. Although this was the first time for many of these students to participate in a St Joseph High School mission for Habitat, the volunteers completed their tasks at hand with vigor and ease.
Said St. Joe’s Coordinator of Student Service, Melissa Stunkel, “I was constantly amazed how hard the students worked for others in the community. They truly exemplified how it is both a responsibility and privilege to serve those in need.” Our thanks go to our St Joseph High School students for both their time and dedication: (l-r) Emily Recupero ‘15, Nicole Tavares ‘14, Mariah Provenzano ‘15, Mikayla Konecny ‘14, Amanda Martinez ‘15, Wendy Estavien ‘14, Melissa Stunkel (Coordinator of Student Service), Nick Convertito ‘15, Dylan Batterson ‘15
VATICAN CITY (CNS)—Visiting an Italian region especially hard hit by the European economic crisis, Pope Francis blamed high unemployment on globalization driven by greed and said those who give charitable aid to the poor must treat their beneficiaries with dignity.
"We want a just system, a system that lets all of us get ahead," the pope said Sept. 22, in his first address during a full day on the Italian island of Sardinia. "We don't want this globalized economic system that does us so much harm. At its center there should be man and woman, as God wants, and not money."
Sardinia has an overall unemployment rate of nearly 20 percent, rising to nearly 50 percent among young adults.
Before speaking to a crowd of about 20,000 near the Cagliari city port, Pope Francis heard a series of speeches in greeting, including one from an unemployed father of three, who spoke of how joblessness "wears you out to the depths of your soul."
In response, the pope discarded his prepared remarks and told his audience what he said "comes to me in my heart seeing you in this moment."
Pope Francis recalled the struggles of his immigrant Italian father in 1930s Argentina.
"They lost everything. There was no work," he said. "I was not born yet, but I heard them speak about this suffering at home. I know this well. But I must tell you: courage."
The pope said he knew that his preaching alone would mean little to those in difficulty.
"I must do everything I can so that this word 'courage' is not a pretty fleeting word, not only the smile of (a) cordial church employee," he said. "I want this courage to come out from inside and push me to do all I can as a pastor, as a man. We must all face this historic challenge with solidarity and intelligence."
The pope said that the current economic crisis was the "consequence of a global choice, of an economic system that led to this tragedy, an economic system centered on an idol, which is called money."
In his undelivered remarks, which the pope said should be considered "as if they had been spoken," he thanked those entrepreneurs who, "in spite of everything, have not ceased to commit themselves, to invest and take risks to guarantee employment."
The pope emphasized the need for "dignified work," lamenting that that crisis had led to an increase in "inhumane work, slave labor, work without fitting security or without respect for creation."
Pope Francis said that a commitment to the natural environment could actually stimulate job creation in fields such as energy, environmental protection and forestry.
The pope celebrated Sunday Mass in a square outside the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Bonaria, the namesake of his native city of Buenos Aires. Pope Francis originally announced his trip to Sardinia to venerate the statue of Mary there.
Calling for solidarity with the neediest in society, the pope concluded his homily by urging his listeners to "see our brothers and sisters with the gaze of the Madonna, she who invites us to be true brothers."
At an afternoon gathering with poor people and prisoners who had been taken to the Cagliari cathedral, Pope Francis had strong words for those who practice charity in the wrong spirit.
"Charity is not simply welfare, much less welfare to soothe one's conscience," he said. "That's not love, right? It's business, a transaction. Love is free.
"Sometimes one finds arrogance, too, in those who serve the poor," the pope said. "Some make themselves pretty, they fill their mouths with the poor; some exploit the poor in their own interests or those of their group.
"This is a grave sin, because it means using the needy, those in need, who are the flesh of Jesus, for my vanity," the pope said. "It would be better for these people to stay home."
Kolbe Cathedral High School students in Physics Class celebrate the receipt of a $5,000 grant.
BRIDGEPORT-Kolbe Cathedral High School students in Physics Class celebrate the receipt of a $5,000 grant from Dominion Foundation to explore restoring and improving urban infrastructure.
Physics, Environmental Science and Biology classes will collaborate on the project. 7th & 8th graders from Cathedral Academy will be invited to participate. Dominion is building the largest fuel cell generator in North America here in Bridgeport and invited schools in the area to submit grant proposals. Kolbe Cathedral is one of five grants approved from across the state.
From The Connecticut Post - by Anne M. Amato and Marian Gail Brown
TRUMBULL—Some of his flock came from hundreds of miles away for the homily. Some came for spiritual reasons. Some came to show solidarity with their faith.
TRUMBULL—Frank J. Caggiano became the fifth bishop of Bridgeport Thursday in a ceremony rich with tradition and imbued with hope.
Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives
to lead his general audience in St. Peter's Square
at the Vatican Sept. 18. (CNS/Paul Haring)
VATICAN CITY (CNS)—Pope Francis said the church should approach its members with the face of a patient, merciful and understanding mother, who always forgives her erring children and never ceases to pray that they resume the path of Christian living.
The pope made his remarks Sept. 18 at his weekly public audience in St. Peter's Square, where he elaborated on his previous week's talk on the subject of the "church as mother."
"I like this image very much," he said, "because I think it tells us not only how the church is, but also what sort of face the church, this church of ours, should have, more so every day."
A mother teaches her children the right way of life "with tenderness, with affection, with love," he said, because she "didn't learn it from books, but learned it from her own heart."
"The university of moms is the heart itself," the pope said, in one of several uses of the informal Italian term "mamma."
Pope Francis said the church's moral teachings, particularly the Ten Commandments, are similarly the "fruit of the tenderness, of the very love of God who gave them to us."
"You might say to me: But they are commands! They are set of 'no's,'" he said, before suggesting the audience "read them -- maybe you have forgotten them a little -- and then think of them positively."
The Ten Commandments, the pope said, "show us the road to take in order to grow mature, giving us stable points of reference for our behavior. ... They invite us not to make material idols that then enslave us, (but) to remember God, to respect our parents, to be honest, to respect others."
Pope Francis likened the church to a mother who never gives up on her children even when they err.
"I think of the moms who suffer for their children in prison or in difficult situations," he said. "They don't ask themselves if (their children) are guilty or not, they keep loving them and often experience humiliations, but they have no fear, they do not cease giving of themselves."
Likewise, the pope said, the church seeks always to help and encourage its wayward children: "never shuts the church's doors; does not judge, but offers God's forgiveness, offers the love that invites even those children who have fallen into a deep abyss to return to the path."
Invoking the example of St. Monica, who never ceased praying for the conversion of her son, St. Augustine, the pope said that mothers never tire of praying for their children, "especially the weakest, the neediest, those who have pursued dangerous or mistaken ways of life."
"The church does the same thing," he said. "She puts in the hands of the Lord, through prayer, all the situations of her children."
At the end of the audience, Pope Francis noted the upcoming International Day of Peace, Sept. 21, and called on Catholics to join other Christians in praying for peace "in the most tormented places on our planet."
The pope specifically mentioned civil war-torn Syria, "whose human tragedy can be resolved only with dialogue and negotiation, with respect for justice and the dignity of every person, especially the weakest and most defenseless."
TRUMBULL—Fr. Martin J. Dennehy died at St. Joseph Manor in Trumbull on September 16. He was 88 years old and had been ordained for 62 years.
Martin Dennehy was born in New York, NY, on February 28, 1925. He was one of five children. His sister, Eileen, joined the Presentation Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary; his brother John is a deacon with the Diocese of Brooklyn. His other surviving brother, James, lives in Trumbull.
He graduated from Cathedral Prep and College in Brooklyn, NY, and continued his studies at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, NY. In 1951, he graduated from Mt. St. Mary's University and Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD and was ordained into the priesthood on June 9, 1951 in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
He came to this diocese first as parochial vicar at St. Roch Parish in Greenwich in 1956. Following assignments in St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown and St. Peter Parish in Danbury he was incardinated into the Diocese of Bridgeport on March 17, 1961. During that time he was director of the Danbury District Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) and chaplain of the Daughters of Isabella Danbury Circle.
While residing at St. Peter’s he became a part-time chaplain at the Danbury State Jail. Fr. Martin later taught at Immaculate High School in Danbury and served as parochial vicar at St. Augustine Cathedral Parish in Bridgeport.
In 1969, Fr. Dennehy was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Bridgeport, and served on the diocesan Priests’ Council from 1977-79. He headed the parish until 1980, when he left for graduate studies while serving as parochial vicar at St. James Parish in Stratford and St. Mary Parish in Bethel.
In 1981, Fr. Dennehy was appointed chaplain at Bridgeport Hospital while residing at Holy Rosary Parish in Bridgeport. He became a parochial vicar at Holy Rosary, and was named administrator of the parish in 1992. He held that position until he had to retire in 1994 for health reasons.
Fr. Dennehy resided at St. Joseph’s Manor since 2000.
Fr. Dennehy’s body will be received at St. Theresa Church, Trumbull on Friday September 20, where it will lie in state from 9 to 10:45 a.m., followed by the Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m.
Bishop Frank Caggiano will be the principal celebrant. Interment will follow in the Priest Circle at St. Michael's Cemetery in Stratford.
WATERTOWN, MA (September 16, 2013) On Thursday, September 19, 2013 the CatholicTV Network will air the Installation of Bishop Frank Caggiano, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn, NY, as the Fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport at St. Theresa in Trumbull, Connecticut.
The Installation will air on CatholicTV and http://www.CatholicTV.com <http://www.CatholicTV.com> on September 19, 2013. The Installation will air live on the CatholicTV Network at 1:30PM ET, and will rebroadcast at 8PM. More information about the Diocese of Bridgeport can be found at http://www.bridgeportdiocese.com <http://www.bridgeportdiocese.com>. The Bridgeport Diocese encompasses all of Fairfield County and includes more than 400,000 Roman Catholics.
BRIDGEPORT—Pope Francis recently appointed Brooklyn, N.Y., auxiliary Bishop Frank Caggiano to be the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., which had been vacant since Bishop William Lori was appointed to the Archdiocese of Baltimore in March 2012.
The Bridgeport Diocese, which has produced two cardinals and an archbishop, includes more than 460,000 registered Catholics, representing 45% of Fairfield County’s total population.
Bishop Caggiano was born less than 70 miles away in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn on Easter Sunday 1959, the second of two children. His parents emigrated from Italy a year earlier. He grew up in an overwhelmingly Italian and Italian-American neighborhood.
Before being named a Brooklyn auxiliary bishop in 2006, he studied in Rome, served as a pastor and as diocesan director of the Permanent Diaconate Office and vicar for evangelization and pastoral life.
Before his installation on Sept. 19, Bishop Caggiano spoke Aug. 28 — the feast of St. Augustine, the patron of the Diocese of Bridgeport— with the Register about his vocation, youth, the New Evangelization and spiritual matters.
Please tell us little about growing up and discovering your vocation.
I had a wonderful experience of what I call old-style neighborhoods, where I had perhaps 12 or 14 friends who lived on the same city block I did, and we grew up together. Everyone’s parents knew each other and basically looked out for one another.
I was fortunate to attend Sts. Simon and Jude School. The Sisters of St. Dominic of Kentucky were my teachers — a wonderful, faithful group of woman religious. They began to speak about the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood [for me].
My mother was deeply religious, and she also, very much in her own way, had nurtured the vocation.
My father, on the other hand, was not too thrilled over the idea of the priesthood. My father came [up from being] relatively poor, had built a decent life for us and had very much wanted us to build on what he had done.
I went to Regis High School [a Jesuit college-preparatory school], but I had no desire to be a Jesuit. But their sense of service, teaching, the charism of the Jesuits intrigued me. It kept the vocation idea alive.
That gave great clarity in the end to the fact that, yes, the Lord was calling me to this. It was what I needed to do if I really wanted to be happy and make a difference.
I entered the major seminary and have not looked back since. It’s been a wonderful life. It’s not always been easy, but it’s been a wonderful life.
If you asked me the factors for the vocation, in addition to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which is a given, it was the witness of the religious that I had in my life and the nurturing prayers of my mom. Since yesterday was the feast of St. Monica, it resonates very much in my mind: the importance of parents in fostering vocations.
As one of the bishops catechizing at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, how did you find today’s youth?
Rio was my third experience catechizing at World Youth Day. I went to Sydney, to Madrid, and now to Rio de Janeiro.
In Rio de Janeiro, I came away absolutely enthused at the level of energy and joyful enthusiasm I saw in the young people … their attentiveness, their reverence at Mass.
It was phenomenally exciting. No one could argue: “Well, that’s the Holy Father and the excitement of being there.” The proof occurred 12 days ago.
I had the privilege to go to Ireland to preach the Youth 2000 Summer Festival in Tipperary. There were over a thousand young people from every corner of Ireland — enthusiastic, joyful, reverent, prayerful. It surpassed in some ways what I experienced in Rio de Janeiro. So then it’s not a question of being excited simply because of the [WYD] event, because none of them went to Rio.
There’s a great hunger among young people. The challenge the Church needs to face is how we effectively interact, encounter and communicate with young people in the very different world that is evolving, in an Internet, Web-based, social-media-based experience.
There is no reason for us to be anything other than hopeful when it comes to the youth, but we must apply ourselves. This is the moment when the Church has to become courageous, creative, innovative in the methods by which we evangelize.
Christian truth does not change. And young people will receive the truth if they can encounter the truth. It comes down to that.
What barriers do we need to overcome?
There’s also another impoverishment, too. Not only do many not come to Mass, but they don’t have the benefit of growing up in what I grew up with. The neighborhood was overwhelmingly Catholic, which meant there was a culture to life, a rhythm to life that taught, even if you were not sitting in a religion class.
Because we were overwhelmingly Italian in the neighborhood, there was a rhythm to the festivals, the street fairs, the holy days, the Sunday meal and the patron saints people had devotion to — even to the point they’d put statuary in their back yards and front yards.
That culture is gone in many places. But that, in many ways, teaches the faith as effectively or more effectively than intellectually teaching the faith, which comes in a classroom.
So we had great advantages growing up that way. These young people don’t have those advantages.
They have to encounter the person of Jesus Christ and fall in love with him. … So part of the outreach to young people is to create a contemporary culture of Catholicism that resonates with their experience and can help them to be formed, not just educated. Education is not enough. It is formation that we need to do.
Then this also ties into today’s major problems in the culture and world.
If the Church were united, and Catholics were really alive, on fire with their faith, much that society is proposing would not even be proposed. But politicians sense that the Church leadership may be united in teaching, but many Catholics do not necessarily follow what the Church is teaching.
We have to ask the Holy Spirit to really bring a new fire into the lives of believers.
Witness is the most powerful method of conversion. Not confrontation. Witness. If Catholics by the millions were able, in every walk of life and in every community, to clearly witness to the fullness of the faith that rises like the person of Jesus Christ, whose mystical presence is the Church in the world, society would be taking a whole different trajectory.
What are your impressions of how Pope Francis is battling indifference?
Many people point to the Holy Father’s humility and his openness, and rightfully so. But I would point to something else. One of the greatest challenges the Church faces in evangelization is the need to overcome indifference. It is one thing to hate the Church, to be violently opposed to the Church, because if you are that emotionally invested, you still have a relationship with the Church. But if you are indifferent, then you are far away.
How do you overcome indifference?
It seems to me there are two moments. First, there is what I would call the "wow moment," [when] by act of grace, by circumstance, by the intervention of the Holy Spirit, by some symbolic gesture, people are invited and sometimes forced to take a second look. Then you create an opening. Suddenly, the person who is indifferent is at least minimally engaged.
The second step would be for someone on the local level to be able to engage the person personally, so the healing process may begin. … Pope Francis is creating that first step across the whole Church, in every venue and walk of life, among believers and nonbelievers, which is remarkable.
But what most people in leadership don’t realize is that he’s creating a window that will not last forever.
This is the hour when people have to say, “Okay, ladies and gentleman, now we, on every local level, have to reach out and show a vibrancy and joyfulness to the world.”
The Pope is really, I presume — and perhaps he doesn’t realize it, which is just as well, because it is a work of the Holy Spirit — engaging the indifference of the world.
What do you see causing this indifference?
One of the great effects of this world that is evolving is it creates a numbness in life. To the young people in Ireland, I called it being a "spiritual zombie." There is a lack of engagement in life simply because everyone lives in overload — sensory overload, information overload and, quite frankly, relational overload.
When I grew up, we had guys on the block who were like the little gang that we formed. But out of that gang, there were probably three, four who were really close-knit friends.
Now you go on Facebook — you have a thousand friends. What does that mean? How do you keep up with a thousand people? Why do a thousand people need to know what I had for breakfast?
It’s like too little butter on too much bread. Everybody is spread so thin that relationships almost become vacuous. And what does that do in the end? It creates a lot of anxiety, fear, loneliness, detachment. “Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee, O God” [as St. Augustine said].
The only answer to that is the Lord. But the very methodology of life is leading people to other answers. That is why we have to get into it and … eventually baptize that media for the real evangelization of young people.
Pope Francis is showing that he is deeply Marian. Are you?
I have a tremendous devotion to Our Lady of Fatima.
Again, it’s a convergence. I think to myself, "It’s amazing how the power of grace works in our lives." Months before I came here, 12 of my colleagues, friends, banded together, and we created a not-for-profit foundation in New York, the Mater Ecclesiae Foundation, an outreach to young people.
We have tied it to a project that I’m seeking approval for at the [Basilica of the] National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception [in Washington]: to erect — at the entrance of the Rosary garden they are proposing adjacent to the shrine — an image of Our Lady of Fatima and the three visionaries.
The foundation is going to work to create that statue in honor of Our Lady, and we hope to ask the young people of the country to sponsor that project. It will be the first shrine at the basilica that will be put up not by an ethnic group, but by young people.
And Our Lady is at the center of it. As this evolved ,little did I know that Pope Francis would be elected, would devote his papacy to Our Lady of Fatima and consecrate the whole Church to her in October. So go figure!
Do you have any favorite saints?
My patron, St. Francis. He’s very dear to my heart. Mom had a great devotion to St. Anthony, so that always was a part of the religious atmosphere of the Caggiano house. And my sister is named Antonia after St. Anthony.
It’s ironic the patron saint here is St. Augustine. My background is in patristic studies, so Augustine was always a big part of that world. That feels right for me.
Please share a couple of favorite authors or books.
The Tolkien trilogy opened my entire mind [and] religious imagination. But I’m a big fan of C.S. Lewis. Periodically, I will reread [his works].
Now that I’m here, I have a beautiful collection of the Fathers of the Church, and I’m going to start with Augustine and try to carve out some time each day and read Augustine’s works from cover to cover.
What do you recommend Catholics should read?
I would tell them: "Go back and read the Fathers of the Church. Start with St. Ignatius and work your way up." Because I have experienced firsthand that an enormous amount of individuals, particularly young adults, have conversion experiences to the Catholic faith through reading the Fathers of the Church.
A dear friend of mine, Rabbi Gerald Meister, who died this past March, God rest his soul — his degree was in Christian studies, actually Catholic theology — said to me, years ago, that Christians, and Catholics in particular, had lost the sense of the importance of the Fathers as the commentary on the sacred Scripture.
Most Christians have forgotten that all of those homilies and all of those treatises are basically reflections on the word of God.
What will your episcopal motto be?
It remains the same, which is Philippians 2:11, Jesus Christ is Lord. That’s getting right to the heart.
I chose it because my background is Christology, and my doctorate is in St. Cyril. But having listened to and read some of the works [Father] Robert Barron has published, there is one section … where he is so simply brilliant.
He draws the analysis of the beginning of the Gospel of St. Luke as the story of the two lords — the lord Caesar and the Lord born in Bethlehem. Luke writes it with that in mind.
I said to the young people in Ireland, “If you’re going to say, ‘Jesus Christ is Lord,’ then you’re making a pledge of allegiance. To whom do you owe your allegiance? Because you will, in the end, owe it to some lord, whoever you choose to be Lord.”
Joseph Pronechen is a National Catholic Register staff writer.
Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/bridgeports-new-shepherd-witness-is-the-most-powerful-vehicle-for-conversio/#ixzz2f5FEFIPl
NORWALK—With a huge American Flag suspended from Norwalk Fire Department ladder company trucks on One Father Conlon Place, a combined Fire, Police and EMS Color Guard processed into St. Philip Church for the 12th Annual Blue Mass.
“First responders don’t ask if a person is worthy or deserving of help,” said Msgr. Jerald Doyle, principal celebrant at the Mass commemorating 9/11 and celebrating First Responders. “The call comes in and the response is made.”
Reflecting on the Gospel passage in Luke, which deals with Jesus forgiving sinners and tax collectors while the Pharisees objected, Msgr. Doyle said, “First Responders are messengers of God. They go out without caring about anyone status because everyone deserves love, care and protection that they bring.”
In a spirited and memorable Blue Mass, hosted by Fr. Michael Boccaccio, Pastor of St. Philip and Chaplain of the Norwalk Police Department, the Offertory Gifts included a firefighter’s helmet, a police officer hat and an EMT’s stethoscope.
The prayers of the Faithful, led by Deacon Kenneth Ruge, remembered all First Responder and also the Fr. Richard Futie, Stamford Police Chaplain.
This year’s Mass for Law Enforcement, Fire and Emergency Services personnel honored the First Responders to Sandy Hook School in Newtown on December 14, when 26 people lost their lives in the shooting.
In a brief ceremony before the conclusion of Mass, Fr. Charles Allen, S.J., an EMS chaplain in Fairfield and Chairman of the Blue Mass, recognized Trooper First Class Phousisongkamlo Chokbengboune of Troop G in Bridgeport as “the first off-duty Trooper” to respond to the tragedy. Trooper Chokbengoune is a Sandy Hook resident. Police Officer Michael McPadden, Shelton Police Department, was honored for his “compassionate service” to the family of Dawn Hocksprung, principal of Sandy Hook School, after she died trying to protect the children. Officer Leonard Penna of the Newtown Police Department was the first to enter Sandy Hook School with his weapon drawn to protect the children. In the first moments after the shooting, he led children to safety and helped to identify the dead.
Msgr. Rober Weiss, Pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown, received a standing ovation when he accepted an award on behalf of all uniformed personnel who responded to the Newtown tragedy.
A special award was also presented to the family of Easton Fire Department Lieutenant Russell Neary, who passed away while clearing fallen trees during Superstorm Sandy. The Fairfield Prep and Holy Cross graduate was remembered as a “First Responder extraordinaire.” With a spare version of Taps fading to the sound of St. Philip bells ringing and the congregation singing The National Anthem, the combined Color Guard began the long recession out of Church.
The many Fire, EMS and Police Chaplains, who concelebrated the Mass with Msgr. Doyle, waited until all of the blue uniformed personnel marched out before leaving the Church.
The Blue Mass also marked one of the last official duties of Msgr. Jerald Doyle, who has served as Diocesan Administrator for the past 16 months after the Most Rev. William E. Lori was named Archbishop of Baltimore.
Chaplains of the Fairfield County Fire, Police and Emergency Medical Service Departments include: Fr. Charles Allen, S.J. Fairfield Police; Fr. Michael Boccaccio, Norwalk Police Department; Msgr. Laurence Bronkiewicz Ridgefield Police; Msgr. Stephen M. DiGiovanni, Stamford Police; Stamford Police; Fr. Frank Gomez, Noroton Heights Fire; Fr. Tom Lynch, Stratford Fire; Fr. Joseph Malloy, Bridgeport Fire; Msgr. Frank McGrath, Westport Fire and Police and Noroton Fire; Deacon John Moranski, Bridgeport Police; Deacon William Murphy, Germantown (Danbury) Fire; and Fr. Raymond Petrucci, Danbury Police; Fr. Robert J. Post, Stamford Fire Rescue; Msgr. William J. Scheyd, New Canaan Emergency Services and Norwalk Fire; Msgr. Richard Shea, Trumbull Police; Fr. Thomas P. Thorne, FBI; Fr. William Verilli, Connecticut State Police; Fr. Terrance Walsh, Stamford Police, Fr. Frank Winn, Glenville Fire, Msgr. Frank Wissel, Greenwich Police Department.
The Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, Fairfield County Assemblies formed an Honor Guard and also sponsored the reception following the Mass. Sir Knight Michael F. Basso, Past District Deputy 36, co-chaired the event.
Addressing unbelievers, the Holy Father’s letter
in the Italian daily newspaper ‘La Reppublica’ addresses
themes of faith and secularism.
VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis has pulled off yet another surprise, by taking the unprecedented step of writing a long letter to the founder of an Italian daily newspaper, explaining the faith to nonbelievers.
The 2,500-word missive, written in response to July 7 and Aug. 7 editorials by Eugenio Scalfari, the atheist founder of the socialist-leaning La Repubblica newspaper, principally addresses themes covering the faith, the Church and today’s increasingly secularist culture.
Scalfari was prompted to write his articles partly to show his admiration for the Holy Father, but also in response to Pope Francis’ first encyclical, Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith), that was published in July. After lauding the Pope’s qualities and his love for the poor, Scalfari posed three questions at the end of his Aug. 7 editorial, none of which Scalfari expected to be answered.
The first was whether God’s mercy extends to nonbelievers; the second, whether it is sinful to doubt the existence of absolute truth; and the third, whether belief in God is merely a product of human thought.
In his letter of reply, published in today’s edition of the newspaper, Francis begins by saying, “It is nothing other than positive, not only for us individually, but also for the society in which we live, to pause to dialogue about a reality that is as important as faith, which refers to preaching and the figure of Jesus.”
He points to two circumstances that make such dialogue “proper and precious.” The first, he says, stems from a paradox: that the Christian faith, once seen as a symbol of light, has been branded as the “darkness of superstition” and “opposed to the light of reason” in today’s modern culture, formed by the Enlightenment.
Noting the lack of communication between the Church and modern culture, Pope Francis said “the time has come” and that the Second Vatican Council “inaugurated” such an exchange for “an open dialogue without preconceptions that reopens the doors to a serious and fruitful meeting.”
The Security of Faith
The second circumstance, he continues, is to stress that dialogue is “profound and indispensable” and not a “secondary accessory” expression of the believer. He quotes Lumen Fidei and a passage (34) on how truth leads to humility: “Far from making us inflexible, the security of faith sets us on a journey; it enables witness and dialogue with all.”
He explains how faith, for him, was born from a personal encounter with Jesus, but also points out how that encounter was made possible through the Church via “the community of faith … the intelligence of sacred Scripture, to new life that, as gushing water, flows from Jesus through the sacraments, to fraternity with everyone and at the service of the poor, true image of the Lord.”
“Without the Church, I believe, I would not have encountered Jesus, while being aware that the immense gift that is faith is preserved in the fragile clay vessels of our humanity,” he says.
The Holy Father adds that it is “due to this personal experience of faith lived within the Church that I am at ease in listening to your questions and in seeking, together with you, the paths along which we may perhaps begin to walk some of the way together.”
Referring to the first of Scalfari’s articles, the Pope explains the essence of the Christian faith: the Incarnation, the cross and Christ’s love for every man, whom he recognizes as having “inestimable value.”
Each of us, therefore, is called to “choose the love of Jesus, to enter his way of being, thinking and acting,” the Pope explains in his letter. “This is the faith, with all the expressions that are unfailingly described in the encyclical.”
‘Communication, Not Exclusion’
The Pope makes the case that the originality of the Christian faith lies in the fact that it allows each believer to participate in the relationship that Jesus has with God, who is “Abba” (Daddy) — a relationship that extends to all other men, including enemies, as a sign of love.
The sonship of Jesus, he says, is not an “insurmountable separation” between Jesus and everyone else, but tells us that “in him all are called to be children of the Father and brothers to each other.” The particularity of Jesus, he says, is for “communication, not exclusion.”
He explains to Scalfari that the Church is called to sow the leaven and salt of the Gospel in the world — that is, the love and mercy of God — pointing to the afterlife and to our own destiny. For those who live the Christian faith, he adds, “that does not mean fleeing the world” or seeking some kind of “hegemony,” but, rather, “service to mankind,” keeping a sense of hope alive, prompting good works in spite of everything and always looking to what lies beyond.
He then touches on the Jewish faith, stressing that God’s faithfulness to his covenant with Israel has never failed and that throughout the “terrible trials” of past centuries, “the Jews have preserved their faith in God.” For this, the Pope says, “we as a Church, but also as humanity, will never be sufficiently grateful to them.”
Their perseverance in faith, he continues, “reminds everyone, including Christians, of the fact that we are always waiting, like pilgrims, for the Lord’s return and that, therefore, we must always be open to him and never take refuge in what we have already attained.”
Answering Scalfari’s Questions
Turning to the first question raised by Scalfari, about whether God’s mercy extends to nonbelievers, Francis answers: “Considering — and this is the fundamental issue — that the mercy of God knows no limits, if we turn to him with a sincere and penitent heart, the real question for those who do not believe in God lies in listening to one’s own conscience.”
He explains: “Sin, also in those who are without faith, exists when it goes against our conscience. Listening to and obeying one’s conscience means, indeed, to make decisions in relation to what is perceived as good and bad. And on this decision rests the goodness or evil of our actions.”
Addressing the second question, on whether it is wrong or a sin to believe that no “absolute truth” exists, the Pope writes: “The truth, according to Christian faith, is God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. So the truth is a relationship! Each one of us receives the truth and expresses it in his or her own way, from the history, culture and situation in which he or she lives.”
“This doesn’t mean that truth is variable or subjective; quite the opposite,” the Pope insists. “But it means that it is given to us always and only as a way and a life. Did not Jesus himself say: ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life’? In other words, truth being altogether one with love, requires humility and openness to be sought, received and expressed.”
In response to the final question, on whether belief in God is merely a product of human thought, he says that the greatness of man “rests in his capacity to think of God,” and this means “being able to experience a knowing and responsible relationship with him.”
“But the relationship is between two realities,” he says. “God does not depend on our thought. Besides, when man’s life on earth ends — for the Christian faith, in any case, this world as we know it is destined to fall — man will not cease to exist, and in a way that we do not know, nor will the universe that was created with him.”
Francis concludes by emphasizing that the Church, despite “the languidness, the infidelity, the mistakes and the sins that may have been committed by those who belong to her, has no other meaning or aim other than living and bearing witness to Jesus.”
Complementing Benedict’s Initiative
Pope Francis’ efforts to reach out to nonbelievers complement those of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. During his pontificate, Benedict XVI founded the “Courtyard of the Gentiles,” a structure for permanent dialogue between believers and nonbelievers created by the Pontifical Council for Culture. The initiative has organized several events in European capitals since it began in 2010.
Benedict also shared his thoughts with a secular newspaper when he penned an op-ed for the Financial Times shortly before Christmas last year.
Edward Pentin is the Register’s Rome correspondent and a contributor to EWTN News Nightly.
Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/pope-francis-takes-the-faith-to-the-pages-of-the-secular-press/#ixzz2emVAcoP4
WASHINGTON (CNS)—Alyssa Badolato, a senior at The Catholic University of America in Washington, described the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, as her loss of innocence.
Badolato said she was 10 when the attacks of 9/11 took place.
"You didn't think these things could happen in our country," she said. "Now there's this fear. We're still feeling those effects."
Badolato, former chairwoman of the College Republicans at Catholic University, is from Cherry Hill, N.J. She and other members of the university's chapter of College Republicans helped hand out flags to students on campus on the 12th anniversary of 9/11 in remembrance of the lives lost in the terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people in New York City, near Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon.
Nicole Kolenberg, a sophomore from Stamford, Conn., said although she was in second grade in 2001, she remembers the news of the attacks vividly.
"It's the first thing I remember so vividly," Kolenberg said. "My parents came to pick me up from school. We went out in our boat and we could see the Long Island Sound in smoke. It was unreal."
Kolenberg said flags were laid on the lawn of the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center in loving memory of all the lives lost.
"We're trying to fill the lawn up," she said.
Kolenberg said the events of Sept. 11 were especially difficult for those in her community.
"It's hard because we were so close to the city (New York City)," she said. "We lost a lot of people who were close to us."
Tom Lahey, a sophomore from New Jersey, said he was also in second grade in 2001. Lahey said his father was stuck in the subway under the North Tower when that tower of the World Trade Center fell.
"He didn't get home until 8 p.m. that night," Lahey said. "He was covered in soot. A couple of my friends' parents died."
Students wrote the names of loved ones and prayers on cards where they laid their flags. Jax Descloux, a sophomore from Westchester County in New York, said her father also experienced a close call during the attacks. Descloux said her father used to work at the World Trade Center.
"He was supposed to go to the city (on Sept. 11), but he overslept," she said.
Freshman Dulan Jayawardane said his teachers tried to hide the details of the attacks from students at school.
"Our teachers tried to play it off as an early dismissal," he said. "We overheard them talking."
Jayawardane, who is from Bethesda, Md., was 5 in 2001. He said he felt frightened after he was picked up from school.
"I heard a plane overhead and got scared on my way home," Jayawardane said.
Freshman Courtney Wosepka said she lived in Michigan on Sept. 11, 2001. Wosepka said although she was too young to remember the day's events, she remembers sitting down with her parents a few years later with a postcard of the World Trade Center.
Wosepka said both her parents had been to the World Trade Center before. She said although she was still young, they wanted to help her understand the significance of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Brother James wasn’t like the other postulants. For one thing, he was a college graduate. Most of the other novices were no more than a year or two out of high school. Brother James was twenty-eight. He’d gone to Seton Hall, just a short hop from New York City. He once had a drink with Louis Armstrong at Basin Street East. He’d been in Germany with the Army. Elvis Presley had bought him a beer.
Brother James’s mother had died a couple years earlier, and he’d used his small inheritance to finance a trip. He’d seen Hong Kong’s wealth and Calcutta’s squalor. He’d been to the Holy Land and prayed at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Once, he’d barely escaped the clutches of an angry mob in Cairo.
By the time he arrived at the Congregation of Holy Cross novitiate in Valatie, New York, Brother James had seen the world. He’d decided that helping people was the only thing that mattered.
The Holy Cross Brothers were a teaching order, which suited Brother James. He’d had some teaching jobs in the Catholic schools of his home diocese of Paterson, New Jersey. Many of the professed brothers in residence at the novitiate that summer were teachers. They were on retreat from Holy Cross schools in cities like Boston and New York. Brother James liked that. He felt comfortable with these guys.
The postulants were supposed to limit contact with the world during their formation. They were to speak only when necessary and refrain from reading the news. If they weren’t praying at lauds and matins, they were serving at Mass. If they weren’t studying in the classroom, they were laboring on the brothers’ 400 acre farm.
A new silo was going up next to the barn that summer. It was hot work, the kind that makes a man thirsty. During breaks, the young postulants were given water. The professed brothers drank big cans of ice-cold beer. One of them noticed an overheated Brother James looking glum. Brother Joseph reached deep into the cooler and pulled out a frosty one. Taking a long pull on it, he issued a satisfied “Ahhhhhhh.” Smiling, he said, “Brother James, they’re going down smooth today.”
Brother James thought he could easily live in poverty. He’d find the strength to live in chastity. He’d come to terms with obedience in the Army.
But a whole year without beer? Brother James was going to have to dig deep.
This was 1963. There was a lot going on, both in America and in the Church. Kennedy was president, John XXIII was pope, and the times they were a-changin’. Like many good Catholic boys of his era, Brother James was an idealist. He wanted to get involved in the civil rights movement. He wanted to help people. He guessed that if he stuck it out in Valatie, they’d probably send him to get a master’s degree at Notre Dame. He’d end up teaching at a Holy Cross school in Buffalo or Brooklyn.
That was helping people, he supposed, but he wondered if it would be enough to fulfill him. Brother James was starting to have some doubts.
One day, while cleaning the professed brothers’ rooms, Brother James spied a newspaper that had been left out in the open. On the cover was a story about the death of President Kennedy’s two day-old baby, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy. Brother James was gutted. He was from a big Irish family. The first Catholic president meant a lot to him. Family meant a lot to him. He wondered if going “behind the wall” had been the right decision.
Then the novice master at Valatie, Brother Elmo, called Brother James into his office. They had a long talk, about culture, about theology, about the Second Vatican Council, which was then entering its second period. Brother James felt it was a good talk—open and honest. For the first time, Brother Elmo seemed genuinely curious about Brother James’s thoughts and opinions. The master treated the novice like an equal.
Brother James thought maybe he’d turned the corner with these guys. Maybe now they’d throw him a beer on a hot day.
Brother Elmo invited him for another talk the following week. No sooner had Brother James sat down than Brother Elmo came out with it: “I don’t think this is the place for you.” Brother James knew what it meant. He would be leaving—immediately. He was forbidden to speak with the other postulants. Brother Elmo didn’t want any discord. When a postulant washed out, he simply disappeared. Brother James’s bags were waiting for him when he left the abbot’s office.
Not long afterward, Kennedy was assassinated, LBJ became president, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. Brother James went back to his old life. He went back to being Jim. But he was still an idealist. He still wanted to help the country heal its racial wounds. A priest friend saw an ad for an outfit called South Mission Volunteers. They matched Jim with a teaching job at a Catholic school in Jennings, Louisiana. He packed a bag and hitchhiked south.
It was in the bar at New Orleans Airport that he first set eyes on his true vocation. Jim and Ann were married in 1966 at her home parish, St. Patrick’s Church in Yorktown Heights, New York. They had two beautiful daughters in Louisiana before moving back north to New Jersey, where I was born. My little brother came along later to complete the clan.
God must have been at work in Brother Elmo’s heart because he saw something in Brother James that my dad couldn’t see in himself. The consecrated life wouldn’t suit him; his destiny was elsewhere. Brother Elmo kept my father from taking the wrong path. I guess you could say I owe him everything.
(Matthew Hennessey and his family are parishioners of St. Aloysius in New Canaan.)
NORWALK—The Annual Diocesan Blue Mass honoring fire, police and rescue workers will be held on Sunday, September 15, at 12 noon at St. Philip Church in Norwalk.
A reception immediately following Mass will be held in the “Mansion” on St. Philip Parish grounds.
Law Enforcement, Fire and Emergency Medical Service personnel of all faiths in Fairfield County, along with members of the general public, are invited to attend the Mass and reception.
Now in its 12th year, the Blue Mass has grown into a moving and memorable commemoration of the courage and commitment of the uniformed personnel who protect our health and safety every day of the year in Fairfield County.
The Blue Mass takes its name from the blue uniforms worn by police, fire and emergency services personnel. Founded by Bishop William E. Lori, the Blue Mass was initiated to celebrate the life and heroism of those who died during the 9-11 tragedy in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington DC. Each year it also recognizes local First Responders.
“We shall remember those who died in the tragedy of September 11, 2001, and also honor in a special way all first responders and departments that assisted in the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown,” said Msgr. Jerald Doyle, diocesan administrator, who will concelebrate the Mass with area priests who serve as chaplains for local fire, police and rescue companies.
Catholic chaplains of the Fairfield County Fire, Police and Emergency Medical Service Departments include, among others: Fr. Michael Boccaccio, Norwalk Police; Fr. Charles Allen, S.J. Fairfield Police; Msgr. Laurence Bronkiewicz, Ridgefield Police; Msgr. Stephen DiGiovanni, Stamford Police; Fr. Frank Gomez, Noroton Heights Fire; Fr. Tom Lynch, Stratford Fire; Fr. Joseph Malloy, Bridgeport Fire; Msgr. Frank McGrath, Westport Fire and Police and Noroton Fire; Deacon John Moranski, Bridgeport Police; Deacon William Murphy, Germantown (Danbury) Fire; Fr. Raymond Petrucci, Danbury Police; Fr. Robert Post, Stamford Fire Rescue; Msgr. William Scheyd, New Canaan Emergency Services and Norwalk Fire; Msgr. Richard Shea, Trumbull Police; Fr. Thomas Thorne, FBI; Fr. William Verilli, Connecticut State Police; Fr. Terrance Walsh, Stamford Police; Fr. Frank Winn, Glenville Fire; and Msgr. Frank Wissel, Greenwich Police Department.
The Fairfield County Councils and Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus sponsor the event.
(If you would like to learn more about this event, contact Fr. Charles Allen S.J., Blue Mass chairman: 203.254.4000, ext. 2316, or Jean Talamelli, director of events for the Diocese of Bridgeport: 203.416.1358.)
As part of their centennial celebration, parishioners and clergy
from St. Catherine of Siena had a chance to meet with Archbishop
Antonio Bouncristiani in Siena, Italy. (l-r) Deacon Fenato Berzolla,
Fr. Frank Hoffmann, Archbishop Bouncristiani and Msgr. Alan Detscher.
Historic St. Joseph Church showcases the glories
of its modified Gothic style. In keeping with the entire
parish facility, the new elevator addition blends in with
the church’s distinctive cream-toned brick. Admiring
the entrance to the new addition are (l-r) Deacon Brad
Smythe, project manager; parishioner Janice Franks;
Joe Kudravy, church sacristan; Msgr. Chris Walsh, pastor;
and Bob Mingrone, plant manager.
BRIDGEPORT—Although the Diocese of Bridgeport celebrated its 60th anniversary this year, the roots of the Catholic faith stretch further back in the history of Fairfield County.
Two parishes celebrated centennials this year. St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Riverside was established May 8, 1913. Although it was actually founded a few years earlier, St. Joseph Parish in Shelton will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the dedication of their church on October 13.
The highlight of the year-long series of events and celebrations at St. Catherine’s was a special commemorative Mass on April 28. The Mass was celebrated by Msgr. Alan Detscher, pastor; Msgr. William Genuario, pastor emeritus; and Msgr. Jerald Doyle, administrator of the diocese. Fr. Francis Hoffman, parochial vicar, was among the past and present clergy joining in the celebration. Local dignitaries attending the Mass included Selectman David Theis.
St. Catherine’s has long been known for the high quality of its music. The Saint Catherine Festival Choir, conducted by Director of Music Mark Kaczmarczyk, added a moving element to the celebration.
When St. Catherine’s was established, its first pastor, Fr. Nicholas Coleman, went door to door to encourage newly-arrived immigrants from Italy to attend the first Mass. That first gathering was a simple affair, with about 50 people celebrating Mass on a portable altar in a public school. The parish grew so quickly that by the time of its golden anniversary it had outgrown its original church. The current St. Catherine Church was completed in 1957.
Honoring the parish’s Italian roots, a trip to Siena and northern Italy was organized by Deacon Renato Berzolla and his wife Andrea in May. Msgr. Detscher and Fr. Hoffmann were among those making the journey. A highlight of the tour was a conversation with the Archbishop of Siena, Archbishop Antonio Bouncristiani, at the actual historical home of St. Catherine, the parish’s patron saint.
Observances will continue throughout the rest of the year. They will include “An Evening in Siena” parish dinner in September featuring regional specialties, music and games celebrating the culture of the Tuscan region of Italy. October will see another festive dinner, followed by a performance by the vocal ensemble Chanticleer in the church.
An active, vibrant parish, St. Catherine’s is proud if its many ministries, from its dynamic youth ministry to its women’s and men’s group, outreach to the homebound and an active senior citizen group. Known for its support of the wider community through a social justice ministry, St. Catherine’s parishioners prepare and serve food at New Covenant House Soup Kitchen every Sunday.
Anticipating the 100th anniversary of their church, Msgr. Chris Walsh, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Shelton, broke ground last fall on a $1.2 million renovation project to bring the historic church up to date. The renovation, under project manager Deacon Brad Smythe, included the installation of an elevator, an updated heating and air conditioning system, handicapped-accessible restrooms, a state-of-the art kitchen, and complete renovation of the church hall. The general contractor for the project was A. Secondino & Son, Branford; Silver/Petrucelli & Associates of Hamden was the architect.
The completed renovation will be dedicated on October 13, the exact one hundredth anniversary of the church’s original dedication. The dedication Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Frank Caggiano. Additionally, it will be concelebrated by Archbishop Peter Gerety of the Diocese of Newark, NJ. Archbishop Gerety, now 101 years-old, grew up just two blocks from St. Joseph Church and was baptized there.
“Very likely his mother brought him as an infant to Mass that October 13, 1913, when the Bishop of Hartford consecrated the new, beautiful church,” says Msgr. Chris Walsh, St. Joseph’s pastor. “Now he will be present for its centenary! That symbolizes the incredible continuity of families and tradition that makes St. Joseph such a unique parish.”
St. Joseph’s was founded in 1906 as a mission parish from St. Mary Parish in Derby. Construction on the church, a modified Gothic design, began the following year. What sets St. Joseph’s apart are its walls of soft, cream-toned, tapestry brick. Because the convent and school were also finished in that distinctive golden brick, all recent additions have been matched to it, giving the parish facility a unified, harmonious quality.
From 1991-98, working from old photographs, the parish restored the interior of the church as closely as possible to its original condition. The current renovation builds that restoration to a fitting conclusion.
The earliest parishioners were factory workers, Italian, Polish and Hungarian among others. In recent years, the parish has seen an increase in Hispanic families, and now offers a noon Mass in Spanish on Sunday.
Always an active parish, St. Joseph’s is particularly proud of its strong pro-life activities. On September 19 the parish will host a visit of the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The image will be present at a 6:50 am Mass, followed by an hour of veneration and a devotional stop at the Summit Women’s Center, an abortion center in Bridgeport.
Bishop Frank Caggiano will be the principal celebrant when St. Joseph’s hosts the diocesan Respect Life Mass on October 6 at 10:30 am. Later that month, the parish will present “Abortion: How It Effects the Baby, the Mother and You,” by Dolores Grier, former vice chancellor of community relations for the Archdiocese of New York and founder of the Association of Black Catholics Against Abortion.
(St. Catherine of Siena Church is located at 4 Riverside Ave., Riverside; St. Joseph Church is 50 Fairmont Place, Shelton. For more information about pro-life activities at St. Joseph’s, contact Fr. Augustine Nguyen: 203.924.8611.)
The church, built and dedicated in 1871, is the second oldest parish
in the Diocese of Bridgeport. (8/21/13)
NORWALK—The second oldest parish in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport is in the middle of a major renovation.
The work at St. Mary Roman Catholic Church in Norwalk started four years ago and is now entering its final phase.
About 50 years ago, a decision was made to remove a lot of ornate aspects inside St. Mary, but now the church is again undergoing a transformation.
The parish brought back the marble floor, added a marble altar rail, four marble statues and a new pulpit. In essence, they're going back in time.
The church was built and dedicated in 1871. Father Greg Markey is the driving force behind the $1.5 million renovation.
All the work is reminiscent of ages past, including the French blue ceiling dotted with gold stars that replaces the once white-washed walls.
Classical painter Leonard Porter is creating 13.5-foot tall altar piece for the church.
Father Markey says the scaffolding for the final phase of the renovation goes up inside St. Mary next month.
The goal is to have all the work, including the installation of the painting, done by Christmas.
NEW HAVEN—Comprehensive immigration reform promises to be on the front burner this month when Congress returns from its summer break.
And the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is urging the faithful to contact their representatives in support of the legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship and preserve family unity for 11 million undocumented immigrants.
After passing in the U.S. Senate by a vote of 68-32 in June, the legislation is expected to come up for a vote in the House of Representatives later this month.“It’s important to let our legislators know we support this by phoning, faxing or emailing their office,” said Lynn Campbell, director of the Office for Catholic Social Justice Ministry (OCSJM) for the Archdiocese of Hartford.
“It is also a way to put our faith into action during this Year of Faith, when the Vatican is urging Catholics to renew and deepen their faith commitment,” she said.
According to Mrs. Campbell, the legislation would also provide legal avenues for low-skilled immigrants to come to and work in this country, restore due process for people caught up in the immigration system and promote efforts to address the root causes of migration, such as poverty and persecution.
“It’s going to happen, but we need effort and prayer,” said Arturo Iriarte, parish social ministry coordinator for OCSJM, whose office has been working with parishes to keep them informed about and engaged in the campaign for immigration justice.
Last month, his office coordinated postcard write-in campaigns in parishes, and two processions, one between St. Margaret and Sacred Heart-Sagrado Corazon parishes in Waterbury and the other between Our Lady of Sorrows and St. Augustine parishes in Hartford, as a public show of support.
“This is a historic moment for our country and her leaders,” wrote Archbishop Henry J. Mansell on his blog. The USCCB, “including myself, urges all parishioners throughout the Archdiocese of Hartford and throughout our great nation to urge the 113th Congress to support immigration reform.”
Proponents see an overhaul of the immigration system as critical to preserving and strengthening family unity.
“It (the legislation) would be a great thing for immigrants living here who would feel safer and be seen as equal to everyone else,” said Guadalupe Valeria Lazaro, a member of Sacred Heart-Sagrado Corazon Parish, who crossed the border from Mexico with her parents at the age of 5.
A graduate of Kennedy High School in Waterbury, she plans to enter Berkeley College in White Plains, N.Y., this fall, thanks to the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act of 2011, legislation that grants conditional residency to alien minors of good moral character who graduate from high schools in this country and have lived in the country for at least five years. If they complete two years of college, they can obtain temporary residency for a six-year period.
Ms. Lazaro is among hundreds of people across the country who have been organizing and supporting thousands of congressional visits, prayer vigils, creative actions and phone calls to urge members of Congress to support immigration reform.
OCSJM has been working with parishes on immigration issues for years. Among recent efforts is participation in the USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants campaign, calling for legalization and reform; a 2011 “in-state tuition” bill that allows youth without legal status to obtain in-state tuition rates at Connecticut state schools; and support for a “Safe Driving Act” passed earlier this year that allows undocumented immigrants to apply for a Connecticut driver’s license.
WASHINGTON (CNS)—Two leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urged U.S. Catholics to take up Pope Francis' call to fast and pray for peace in Syria, the Middle East and the world Sept. 7.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, in a Sept. 3 statement expressed anguish over the suffering of the Syrian people and echoed the pope's exhortation for negotiation and dialogue to resolve Syria's long civil war as the United States contemplates military action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The statement came as President Barack Obama spent Sept. 3 meeting with congressional leaders to outline his justification for a military response to Syria's reported use of chemical weapons Aug. 21. U.S. officials said the attack claimed 1,429 lives.
"As our nation's leaders contemplate military action, it is particularly appropriate and urgent that we in the United States embrace the Holy Father's call to pray and fast on Sept. 7 for a peaceful end to the conflict in Syria and to violent conflicts everywhere," said Cardinal Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Pates, chairman of the bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace.
"Pope Francis has exhorted 'the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace ... a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people," the statement said.
Describing the use of chemical as "particularly abhorrent," the prelates also called for prayers for those who have died and were injured during the chemical weapon attack and applauded the efforts of responding humanitarian workers.
Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Pates repeated an Aug. 30 call from the USCCB that reiterated an earlier statement urging the U.S. to seek a cease-fire among Syria's warring factions, begin serious negotiations, provide "impartial and neutral humanitarian assistance and encourage building an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens, including Christians and other minorities."
"The Holy Father reminds us that 'peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected' and that 'all men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace,'" the statement said.
"We ask all U.S. Catholics and people of goodwill to join us in witnessing to the hope we have in our hearts for peace for the Syrian people. May our prayers, fasting and advocacy move our nation to promote a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Syria. And may Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us and the people of Syria," the statement concluded.
VATICAN CITY (CNS)—On the evening of Sept. 7, days before U.S. lawmakers vote on President Barack Obama's proposal for a military attack on Syria, Pope Francis will lead thousands in St. Peter's Square in a prayer vigil for peace.
"We will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God's great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world," the pope said Sept. 1, before praying the noon Angelus with a crowd in the square. "Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace."
The vigil will include a recital of the rosary, eucharistic adoration, Scripture readings, a papal blessing and remarks by Pope Francis, said the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi. During the event, which will last 7 p.m.-11 p.m., priests will be available to hear confessions.
For all Catholics, the pope has proclaimed Sept. 7 a "day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East and throughout the world." On fast days, adult Catholics in good health are expected to eat only one full meal.
The pope said he was inviting everyone, "including our non-Catholic Christian brothers, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative."
According to Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Syria's Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, leader of the country's Sunni Muslims, has approached the papal nuncio in Damascus, Syria, with a request to attend the Rome vigil.
Even if that trip proves impossible to arrange, Fides reported, the mufti has called on his followers to pray for peace Sept. 7, "in communion and simultaneously with the pope."
Obama has called for military strikes to punish the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, which the U.S. blames for an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus that reportedly killed more than 1,400 people, including children.
Over the last two-and-a-half years, according to the United Nations, a civil war between Assad's government and rebel forces has killed more than 100,000 people, driven 2 million refugees out of Syria and displaced another 4.5 million inside the country.
Pope Francis said he condemned the use of chemical weapons "with utmost firmness," adding that "those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart."
"A judgment of God and also a judgment of history upon our actions are inescapable," he said.
But the pope insisted that "never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence."
Instead, Pope Francis called on all parties to "follow the path of encounter and negotiation and so overcome blind conflict."
Bishop Mario Toso, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told Vatican Radio Sept. 2 that a "solution to Syria's problems cannot be that of armed intervention. The situation of violence would not be diminished. On the contrary, there is the risk that it will explode and extend to other countries."
The Secretariat of State has invited foreign ambassadors accredited to the Holy See to attend a Vatican briefing on Syria Sept. 5.
BRIDGEPORT—Since being named Bishop of Bridgeport on July 31, Bishop Frank Caggiano has joined the ranks of commuters, driving the hour and a half from his home in Brooklyn to the Catholic Center in Bridgeport.
In between finishing up projects in Brooklyn and making a quick stop in Ireland as a leader of the recent youth conference, the bishop has shuttled from Brooklyn to Bridgeport two or three days a week to get acquainted with his new diocese.
In a recent interview with Fairfield County Catholic, Bishop Caggiano talked about preparing for his Installation Mass, settling into his new diocese and planning for the future. The bishop said he is thrilled by the opportunity to lead the diocese and also anxious to live up to the responsibilities placed on him.
“The period of transition is a time of grace for me to learn about the diocese, meet its people and become comfortable with my new home. It’s a process of leaving one family to be adopted into a new one. It’s an awesome and exciting ministry.”
Among his quick first impressions, he says that he’s pleased by the friendliness and warm welcome he has received and by the diversity of the diocese. “Coming from New York, I was surprised by the diversity here, and I think that bodes well for the Church,” he says. “I’ve also been moved by the openness and graciousness of the people, and their expression of wanting to do something good for the Church.
“My hope in the coming months is to engage in a living dialogue with the People of God in Fairfield County, most especially my brother priests, so that we can embrace a vision and adopt a methodology that will bring us forward.”
Before being elevated to auxiliary bishop in 2006, Bishop Caggiano served as a parish priest and pastor, and that has given him great respect and understanding of the challenges that priests face in their ministry.
“One of the most beautiful titles that people have used to address me is not ‘Bishop’ or ‘Your Excellency,’ but ‘Father,’” he says. “Every priest has that privilege. The father is he who gives life, and the ministry of the priest is to love people entrusted to his care.”
One big change for Bishop Caggiano will be his new residence on Daniels Farm Road in Trumbull. On the few nights that he has managed to stay over in his new home, he has quickly found that it’s a different world from the hustle and bustle of Brooklyn streets.
“I can’t believe how quiet it is. I have always been an early riser, so I’m up before 5 am each day. I’m not used to the experience of the sun coming up without being blocked by buildings and lights. Just to see the sun rise above the trees in back of the house is extremely prayerful and sets the tone for the whole day. It’s a real gift.”
Though it’s too early to discuss plans for the future, the bishop has put his full energy into getting to know the diocese. He has already begun meeting with priests, staff and lay leaders, and has made a pretty ambitious promise. “I intend to visit every parish and every school in the diocese in the first year, and I hope to visit it a meaningful way, not just to float in and out,” says the bishop, who admits that he likes to remain busy.
He hopes to visit area hospitals and convalescent facilities, and also do as many Confirmations as possible, so that he can also meet “mothers, and fathers, aunts, uncles and grandparents” along the way.
A strong advocate for the role of the social media in promoting the Gospel, Bishop Caggiano readily admits that there is no substitute for meeting people personally, getting to know them, and building relationships.
The new bishop is also eager to meet his priests. One of his very first visits after being named bishop was to stop in at the Catherine Dennis Keefe Residence for retired priests. He wanted to thank them for their lifetime of service and show respect for the contributions they have made to the diocese.
Bishop Caggiano says that he looks forward to many more opportunities to get to know his priests. “As pastor and shepherd of the people of the diocese, I am also particularly called to be pastor of my priests. God has called them to care for others but they also need to be cared for. So in that sense, I must be the pastor of pastors to help them grow spiritually and to love effectively just as they do the same for me. Those who have been entrusted to care for God’s people need to be cared for themselves.”
Bishop Caggiano brings tremendous energy and joy to his new assignment, but he’s also aware of the many formidable challenges facing the Church, from dwindling parish enrollment to the challenge of keeping schools open and evangelizing the younger generation as well as those who have left the Church.
“I don’t think anyone knows what the Church will look like in 30 or 40 years with the consolidation of parishes and other Catholic institutions, but this much I am sure of: when I was a young boy, the pastor unlocked the door and they came to you. Now you open the door and go out to them. We are asked by the Lord to become a missionary church, and that’s something as a diocese and a community of faith that we have to reflect on.
“We must learn from past missionaries how to be effective. First, we know that missionaries always went with companions. They did not do it alone.”
The bishop says that leadership development and spiritual support will be necessary moving forward, but the future will also call for a certain amount of risk-taking, consistent with Catholic teaching and values. While the American Church may go through a period of consolidation, Bishop Caggiano believes that the future is bright and that the Church will once again build new parishes.
“We have been going through a challenging phase of exploring the methodology of evangelization. Once we find our way, our numbers will start rising again,” he says, and he believes that vital parishes are at the core of the vision for the future.
“If a parish community is marked by love, then it will become welcoming, hospitable, generous, visionary and creative. It will be selfless and it will be contagious. The question then becomes, how authentic are we as a loving community?”