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Pope Francis: Evangelize with a language of merciful love
| May 29, 2015 • by Vatican Radio, Lydia O’Kane


VATICAN RADIO, by Lydia O'Kane-During the course of their Plenary session the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization has been discussing the relationship between evangelization and catechesis and it was on that theme that Pope Francis addressed members of the Council, including its President Archbishop Rino Fisichella. Speaking to them at the end of their session the Holy Father told them that the Church is called to evangelize at a time of great change. But he stressed in order to proclaim the Gospel, the language used needs to be renewed so it can be understood by all who hear it.

The Pope went on to say that people want a Church that can walk with them, offering a witness of faith, a Church for the marginalized which expresses solidarity with those on the “outskirts of existence”.

Then, getting to the heart of what the true meaning of the new evangelization is, the Holy Father said, it is this: to become aware of the merciful love the Father has for us and also to become instruments of salvation for our brothers.

Turning his attention to the Catechesis, as part of the process of evangelization, Pope Francis explained that “it needs to go beyond just the school sphere of educating believers, from childhood because it is an encounter with Christ who awakens the desire to know him better and then to follow him to become his disciples.

Concluding, the Holy Father underlined that the challenge of the new evangelization and catechesis together is played on this fundamental point: “how to meet Christ, and what is the most consistent place to find him and follow him.”

The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization is undertaking the preparations for the Jubilee of Mercy, which opens on December 8th 2015.

Delegates to vote on final recommendations
| May 28, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Delegates will gather to vote on final initiatives and proposals  at the 6th  and last General Session of 2014 Synod this  Saturday, May 30,  at St. Catherine of Siena Parish Center in Trumbull.

More than 350 delegates are expected to convene for the closing session of 2014 Synod, which has been meeting for almost a year to address major challenges and opportunities faced by the diocese as it seeks reform and renewal.  

The half-day session will begin with Mass at 7:15 am and conclude at 11:30 am. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will introduce the initiatives and proposals after his 9 am talk, “A Dialogue on the Future.” Voting on the initiatives will follow at 11 am.

“This Saturday will be an exciting day in the life of the diocese because delegates will vote on a roadmap for the future of the Church in Fairfield County. The Bishop will introduce major proposals to address specific challenges identified by delegates,” said Patrick Turner, Deputy Synod Director.

“The recent General Session gave us an opportunity to seek direction on how to respond to challenges, and the Bishop was able to identify these initiatives based on the work of the Study Committees, the Synod Office and the input of delegates. He is very grateful for their hard work in getting us to this point,” he said.

Turner said that since the May 9, General Session of the Synod, Bishop Caggiano has met with priests and lay leaders to make them aware of the work of the Synod and discuss its importance to the diocese.

On Tuesday evening, hundreds of lay leaders throughout the diocese attended a meeting at All Saints Catholic School for a briefing by Bishop Caggiano on Synod initiatives.   

At the 5th General Session of the Synod on May 9, Bishop Frank Caggiano introduced dramatic new proposals including calls for a Catholic Service Corps, the creation of a Leadership Institute and the formation of a new diocesan council to empower laity.
Synod delegates also got the first look at some of the final recommendations in response to challenges in areas such as liturgy and worship, family life, evangelization, leadership and catechesis.

During this Saturday’s session, delegates will be asked to vote on a total of 14 items including a diocesan Mission Statement; a series of guiding principles that will support the work of change; and specific proposals to address the major challenges identified by delegates. The voting will formally bring to a close the General Sessions of the Synod.

“The twelve different initiatives and proposals do not represent the final and total number of directions or paths that need to be further explore and addressed,” said Turner. He added that delegates will also vote on “action items” that connect directly to specific challenges.

All of the new initiatives have been framed within the five final challenges affirmed when Synod delegates voted earlier this year: liturgy and worship, family life, evangelization, leadership, and catechesis and education.

At an early General Session, the Bishop said the 2014 Synod was an invitation to “create roadmaps to vital and vibrant communities,” and that he will ask all parishes as well as diocesan programs to set measurable benchmarks for change. Noting that there is inherent tension as the Church seeks to preserve what it does best, while also undergoing change, the bishop called for a spirit of collaboration that does not simply mean compromising on individual goals, but “allowing Christ to take the lead.”

Saturday’s session will begin at 7:15 am Mass celebrated by Fr. Joseph Marcello, Pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Church. Coffee and pastries will follow at 7:45 am.

The 2014 Synod will conclude with a Mass of Thanksgiving and celebration to be held at the Arena at Harbor Yard on Saturday September 19 at 10 am. For more information visit the Synod 2014 website at

Breakfast of Champions
| May 27, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—“This morning, we are here to celebrate the best of news,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in his opening remarks at the Breakfast of Champions, held at the Catholic Center each year to recognize students who display academic excellence and live the values of their faith. In his welcoming speech, Bishop Caggiano called the students “champions, scholars, and role models.”

The Breakfast of Champions’ St. Thomas Aquinas Award recognizes one student from each school who has shown excellence in academics and exemplifies the Gospel values fostered through Catholic education. In addition, the St. Sebastian Award is given to individuals who have shown leadership in high school as captain of athletic teams that won success on the state level.

Fifty-two students representing 34 schools throughout the diocese, along with their parents, principals, pastors and school chaplains turned out for the awards breakfast. Thirty-four were presented the St. Thomas Aquinas Medal for academic excellence and the practice of virtue. Eighteen received the St. Sebastian Medal for their achievement as scholar-athletes. Bishop Caggiano, assisted by Sister Mary Grace Walsh, ASCJ, PhD, superintendent of schools, presented the awards individually to each student.

The students’ comments reveal not only their intelligence but the values that led to their selection.

“When I got the letter inviting me to the Breakfast of Champions, I was really surprised,” said eighth-grader Charles Asetta, the St. Thomas Aquinas Award winner from St. Rose of Lima School in Newtown. “There were so many people in my class who deserved the award.”

Charles plans to attend St. Joseph High School in Trumbull in the fall, where he hopes to play on the soccer team.

His parents, Richard and Susan, gave high praise to the education their son received at St. Rose. “He’s been here all the way since preschool,” they said. “It’s a wonderful school.”

One student, St. Joseph High School senior Matthew Laveneziana, earned both the St. Thomas Aquinas and the St. Sebastian awards. Although he was the only one to achieve such recognition, “I’m just like everyone else here,” he said.

Matt, who was captain of St. Joe’s football team, thoroughly appreciated the education he got there. “I love it there,” he said of the school atmosphere. “It’s going to be hard leaving.”

He’s headed to UCONN this fall, where he hopes to play on the baseball team.

His parents Joseph and Sue, have high praise for the value of Catholic education. All three of their children went to St. Jude School in Monroe. “When it came to high school, from a parent’s point of view academics was the first thing,” said Joseph. “But when you have a gifted athlete like Matthew, St. Joseph’s made the perfect choice.”

Matt in turn credits his success not only his education but the strong backing of his parents. “They made me who I am,” he said.

Echoing the theme of the breakfast, each table had as its centerpiece a box of Wheaties, the original “Breakfast of Champions.” In the spirit of the day’s awards, these centerpieces were donated to Catholic Charities for distribution to local soup kitchens and food pantries.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Little Flowers Girls’ Club
| May 26, 2015


St. Mary Parish in Bethel is thriving. It is blessed to be the only Catholic parish in town, and it is a town that has seen significant growth in recent decades.

Fr. Corey Piccinino, pastor, is doing a magnificent job shepherding this growing and vital parish. I am blessed that Father Corey has included me as a weekend assistant. From time to time, I cover other Masses, but I am regularly scheduled to celebrate the 11:30 Mass on the first Sunday of each month. Come up and see us some time!

Mary Ferri arrives early to set up for her Little Flowers
and their moms.

St. Therese, the “Little Flower” herself, graces the cover
of the art and activity book.

How about this for solid formation! The “colors of piety”
rainbow: zeal; charity; holiness, the Lord’s Day; prayer;
sacrifice; piety.

“I knew you were coming, so I baked a cake!” To honor
St. Cecilia, the saint of the day, May Ferri baked a cake
in the shape of a musical instrument (St. Cecilia is the
patron saint of music because of the song of love for God
in her heart). The main ingredient in this wonderful cake
is love!

Girls and their moms begin the meeting with prayers,
memorized and read.

Little Flowers each wear a blue sash that they decorate
with religious symbols over time.

The girls and their moms went up into the choir loft to look
at a stained-glass window located above the church organ.

Taken from the old church and placed in the new one,
the St. Cecilia window is located in the choir loft.

One of the younger Little Flowers shows off her blue sash,
decorated with a cross.

Years before I entered seminary, I was an English teacher at Immaculate High School in Danbury, and I lived in Danbury near the Bethel line. During those years, I was a parishioner at St. Mary’s when it was located in the old church on Greenwood Avenue. At the time, the church had a capacity of about 200 people, which led it to have the most aggressive ushers I have ever seen. They literally squeezed us in the pews like sardines—no exceptions—and at most Masses, people lined the walls too.

About the time I moved to Norwalk (still three years before I entered Fisher Seminary), plans were underway to build a new parish church in Bethel. These plans were the cause of much division, as a significant number of parishioners wanted to keep the old church. Bishop Egan refused to divide the town into two parishes (a prescient decision) and now the new church can hold about 1,000 people for an Easter service (something I witnessed).

The new church (which is already 20 years old!) is not perfect, but it has elements that make it an extremely successful worship space. The late Monsignor Edward Karl spearheaded the construction and design of the church, and overall, the result is laudatory. My principal criticism would be that it is a tad dark inside—unnecessarily so—given its location and exposure on all sides. For some reason, the architects decided to use small windows in the sanctuary, and this makes for dependence on artificial light.

The old church building was sold, but most (if not all) of the old stained glass has been beautifully incorporated into the new building. Although beautiful, the old windows also tend to be on the darker side, which also tends to make the church darker inside.

Besides being a little dark for my liking, nearly everything else about the church itself and its connected buildings are truly state-of-the-art. The sound system is great; the vestments are magnificent; the sanctuary marble and the altar are stunning; and even the pews are padded!

Because I help out in a number of different parishes, I get to marvel at how differently we celebrate Mass in each parish, and yet remain one. When I say “differently,” I refer primarily to the different “choreographies” required to celebrate the liturgy in different parishes.

In a way, the choreography of the Mass at St. Mary’s in Bethel is among the most complicated among the churches where I celebrate Mass, but in a way, it is also the easiest. First, it is simple for the celebrant, because everything is always set up and everything “works!” Deacon John DeRoin also makes my life easy during Mass. In addition to proclaiming the Gospel, he also hands me things that are clearly printed that I need to read, etc. He is like my own, personal master of ceremonies for the regular Sunday Mass I celebrate once a month.

Deacon John also helps me at Communion. When the Eucharistic Ministers come up, we often have 4 altar servers, 4 Eucharistic Ministers, the deacon and me standing around the altar. I let the deacon divvy everything up and give the ministers their assignments. Liturgy at St. Mary’s does involve a “cast of thousands!”

St. Mary’s is a large parish, in terms of the size of its campus (including a K-8 school), and in terms of the number of parishioners who are registered. It is one of the largest parishes in terms of registered households among the 82 parishes of the diocese of Bridgeport.

But how does a parish as large and vibrant as St. Mary’s keep on growing? It keeps innovating. Its web site is top notch and it is always seeking new ways to engage its members in service of God and neighbor.

The Second Vatican Council was held 50 years ago, but in the time that has elapsed since, those who have embraced the Council are always seeking ways to celebrate renewal in the Church (which is an ongoing process!).

Although Fr. Corey is doing a great job as pastor, individual clergy and religious are usually not able to have the kind of impact in the life of the Church that powerful lay movements can produce. One such lay movement is sprouting roots at St. Mary’s, and it has the potential to have an impact on the nation as well as the Church.

A chapter of “Little Flowers Girls’ Club” has been founded at St. Mary’s in Bethel by Mary Ferri and Kate Fitzgerald.

Ferri has been DRE at St. Mary’s for 15 years and Fitzgerald is a long-time parish secretary and catechist. As if they each did not have enough to do already, they decided to begin a Little Flowers club at St. Mary’s. Their first meeting was on October 20, 2014, and I paid a visit to the gathering in May. I am happy to report that Little Flowers at St. Mary’s in Bethel is off to a great start!

For a parish to thrive, parishioners and parish leaders need to go “above and beyond” in their service of God and neighbor. Fifty years after Vatican II, Ferri and Fitzgerald are revealing what it takes to begin a new and important ministry in a parish, and they are revealing how immense the impact of new and important ministries can be.

The first thing required to begin and maintain a new ministry is love—love of God and neighbor. It is the greatest commandment, and sums up the Law and Prophets. Without love, Ferri and Fitzgerald could not have fathomed founding a chapter of Little Flowers, but with love, they are already achieving great success.

With the help of the internet, materials for Little Flowers are readily available online, along with booklets and other materials that can be ordered for use with club members. Interestingly, Little Flowers is a club for girls and their moms to participate together. Girls as young as five are invited to join. Presently, Ferri and Fitzgerald are discovering that 6-9 year-old girls seem to express the most interest. The St. Mary’s chapter meets on the third Monday each month for an hour and fifteen minutes, from 6:15-7:30. The girls who participated in the meeting I attended were really enjoying themselves, and their moms seemed happy too.

As a Church, we need to improve the way we catechize young people, and we also need to re-catechize parents who may not have received solid formation in the faith. Little Flowers approaches both issues by catechizing children and parents together, in fun and interesting ways.

The first flyer Ferri and Fitzgerald posted about the new club summarized their hopes and dreams for their Little Flowers chapter: “The Little Flowers Girls’ Club is a program whose goal is to provide young Catholic girls (and Moms), age 5 and up, with an opportunity to gather and learn about their Catholic heritage, faith, virtues and traditions through games and crafts, Sacred Scripture, the lives of the saints and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is hopes that Little Flowers will learn what it means to be a Catholic girl and eventually a Catholic woman. Whether she is called to a life of consecration to Our Lord, as a single woman, or as a wife and mother, what she learns as a Little Flower will provide her a strong foundation upon which to build. This is a wonderful opportunity for moms to have quality time with their daughters in a fun, loving and faith-filled environment.”

All those who may be interested in joining Little Flowers in Bethel or interested in starting their own chapter can contact Ferri at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Farewell, Sister Mary John O’Rourke, OSU
| May 26, 2015


DANBURY—Sister Mary John O’Rourke, OSU, principal of St. Gregory the Great School in Danbury for the past twenty years, went to her eternal reward on May 22 after a courageous battle with cancer. Sister Mary John had been on medical leave and recently announced her plan to retire effective June 30.

Sister Mary John O'Rourke, principal of St. Gregory the Great
School in Danbury, shows the Blue Ribbon award the school
received to first-graders including Gianna Casturan, left, Susan Radliff,
center, Billy Murphy, center right, and Hailey Busse, right, Wednesday,
November 17, 2010.     Photo: Michael Duffy,

She was an exceptional Catholic school educator who was a mentor to many and a leader in our diocesan curriculum mapping process and technology initiatives.

She proudly worked with the entire school community to earn the distinction of being a 2010-2011 Blue Ribbon School of Excellence from the U.S. Department of Education.
Sister Mary John’s religious community has chosen to have her services at St. Gregory the Great. Her wake will be at the church (85 Great Plain Road, Danbury, 06811) on Thursday, May 28th beginning at 10 am. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 12 noon in the church, followed by a light lunch in the school gymnasium. 

St. Gregory the Great School will be closed in order to give the faculty and staff the opportunity to attend the wake and funeral.
Expressions of sympathy may be sent to:
The Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk
Provincial Offices
81-15 Utopia Parkway
Jamaica, NY 11432
St. Gregory the Great School
85 Great Plain Road
Danbury, CT  06811

Patrick Turner discusses upcoming Synod General Session
| May 26, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—We are just a few days away from our final general session, where we'll be voting on initiatives that will shape the future of our Diocese.

Patrick Turner discusses the upcoming session in this week's episode of Synod Today!

A Baltimorean’s reflections on the Baltimore riots
| May 26, 2015 • by By Tony Magliano


Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano

“The God of peace is never glorified by human violence,” wrote the famous Trappist monk Thomas Merton.
Whether it’s on an individual, city, national, or international level, violence always dishonors God, and makes bad situations worse. The recent Baltimore City riots were no exception: people were injured, neighborhood stores were burned, and violence was further engrained into a city and world already steeped in violence.

But, and this is a big but: What are the reasons that led to violence? What motivated some African-Americans in Baltimore to riot? To ask and to try to answer these questions—in dialogue with the rioters—is certainly not meant to justify the violence; rather it is a necessary step on the road to ending it.  

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.”
I grew up in Baltimore. And in the 1950’s and 1960’s when I was a kid there, Baltimore—while it certainly had significant problems like racial segregation—overall was a kinder and gentler place to live.
In those days crime was much lower, there were no gangs to speak of, drugs were far less a problem, schools were good, neighbors watched out for each other’s children, and blue-collar Baltimore had lots of good manufacturing jobs—like those provided by Bethlehem Steel—that offered hard-working people of all colors a living wage.
Sadly, those days are mostly gone.
I spoke with Brendan Walsh, who with his wife Willa, co-founded Viva House—the Catholic Worker House serving homeless, poor people located in southwest Baltimore where some of the rioting occurred.
Walsh who has lived at Viva House since 1968 shared with me his reflections regarding root-causes of the rioting that occurred after the death of Freddie Gray—who died from a fatal injury that happened while in transport by Baltimore police, according to an initial investigation.
Walsh noted that many U.S. corporations have moved their operations from cities like Baltimore, to very poor countries where they can get away with the injustice of slave labor (see, and in the process have left many Americans without decent paying manufacturing jobs.
Walsh asked, “What are people to do when there are so few blue-collar jobs available that pay a living wage”?
Walsh believes that every city police officer should be required to live in the city. He said this would help police to better under the difficulties faced by many city residents, and in the process better relationships would be established.
Walsh noted there are not nearly enough drug treatment facilities. He said people need to be medically treated for drug addiction, not thrown into prison.
Many years ago I remember police districts in Baltimore ran recreational centers where kids could go to play sports, games, and do homework with police officers who offered guidance and friendship.
Back in those days numerous companies offered students summer jobs. For a couple of summers I worked for the Baltimore Gas and Electric company in their machine shop.    
We need to bring back the recreational centers and summer jobs.
Federal, state and city governments, in partnership with corporations, need to create a comprehensive, well-funded plan to rebuild our cities.

Baltimore’s Catholic Archbishop William E. Lori, perhaps said it best here: “For without love, respect and personal relationships, our lives make no sense. We shouldn’t expect a person whose life makes no sense to pull himself up by his bootstraps into a productive and prosperous life.”

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.

Star Wars is still Star Wars
| May 26, 2015 • by By Matthew Hennessey


A Dad’s View
By Matthew Hennessey

My name is Matthew and I am a child of the Star Wars generation.

Star Wars was the first real movie I saw in a theater. It was a magical experience that has stayed with me always. Every movie since has been a bit of a disappointment.

There wasn’t a single kid in the entire neighborhood who wasn’t obsessed with George Lucas’s imaginary world of lightsabers and stormtroopers. It dominated all conversations. It shaped all play. All Star Wars, all the time.

Given this, I was surprised to realize recently that I didn’t see Star Wars during its initial release. The original movie hit theaters in May 1977, when I was just three-and-a-half years old. I must have seen it first during its 1979 theatrical re-release.

Theatrical re-release? They did that with movies back then. VCRs hadn’t yet become part of the furniture in every American living room. If you missed a movie when it was out in theaters, well, that was that. Unless it came back around in re-release, which the big movies did.  

Such things are unheard of now. These days you can watch a blockbuster on your smartphone the same day it comes out in theaters. The world has changed.

An example: I once had a friend named Damon. He lived across the street. We played together every afternoon with our Luke Skywalker and Han Solo action figures. Then Damon moved with his family to Portland, Oregon. There was no email for our mothers to keep us connected. There was no Facebook. I sent him a postcard. He sent one back. But I never saw or spoke to Damon again.

That’s the way the world was then—both bigger and smaller than it is now. Everyone saw the same movies, but distances really meant something. Things went away. Now, every jot and tittle that ever fell from the brain of Einstein or Aristotle is available for free online, 24/7, in vivid Technicolor and search-engine optimized. We’re living with an embarrassment of riches.  

Since becoming a father, I’ve been fretting about how to raise children in a world that doesn’t resemble the one I grew up in. Think about it. People call the cops now when they see kids playing unsupervised in the neighborhood. What used to be essential has become criminal. All the risk and adventure is being drained from childhood. Not to mention all the fun.

But Star Wars is still Star Wars and I’ve looked forward to sharing it with my kids. It means something to me that they experience it as I did. I want them to be terrified of Darth Vader’s demonic breathing. I want them to wonder who will succeed in winning Princess Leia’s heart. I want them to leap from their seats with joy when the Death Star is destroyed. I want them to be truly shocked when they find out … you know what I’m talking about.

I want them to experience the magic—and be transported by it—the same way I did.

So far it’s working. My kids are obsessed. They want to know everything. No minor character—no Jedi, jawa, or droid—goes uninvestigated. Paddy took a giant Star Wars reference book out of the library. I was terrified that he would stumble onto an explanation of the Skywalker family tree before he had a chance to learn about it as I had. Luckily, he didn’t.

Watching these movies through adult eyes I can see their value more clearly. The childhood magic is gone for me, but the essential messages remain: don’t let your fear define you; trust your instincts; be loyal to your friends; never give up on family; good ultimately triumphs over evil.

The world may change but those values are timeless. Just like Star Wars.

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

Will my love endure?
| May 26, 2015 • by By Denise Bossert


Catholic by Grace
By Denise Bossert

It is disheartening when people walk away from the Church.

Sometimes, when we try to talk, they run at us like some kid on the opposite team in a game of Red Rover. They want to break through our line and pull somebody else from the Church. They may even attempt to pull us away.

We have a choice. When they run toward us, even if it is with a kind of adversarial spirit, we must be ready to receive them, ready to hold them tightly in our arms, ready to defend the faith, and maybe even ready to reclaim them for Our Lord and his Church. Red Rover, Red Rover, send them on over, we pray.

It has happened to me many times. I write an article or post something on social media. Someone sends an email explaining why he is glad I am happy being Catholic, but he wants me to know that his choice was clear. It was time to walk away. Somebody disappointed him. Something someone did scandalized her. She lost the joy of being Catholic. He decided to walk away from God or just find God in some other faith community.

Many do build a relationship with Jesus somewhere else. Usually, it is in a church with a name that does not fit categories. No denomination. No labels. No hierarchy. They find a place where they can begin again. It feels wonderful and they are happy, they say.

It makes me think. I believe we all have reasons to be bitter and walk away. There are plenty of offenses to send us through the exit doors. Most of the ones who left didn’t hate the faith. There were just things that rubbed them the wrong way. Their love for the sacraments and the Church was not enough to keep them here. It sometimes makes me wonder. Will my love endure?

Am I strong enough to persevere when others scandalize the faith?

If I encounter a priest who is far from pastoral or an administrator in a Catholic workplace who has more vices than virtues, will I stay?

What about the young Catholic whose spouse cheats—after she sponsored him into the faith? Will he have the strength to stay when she leaves their family and the Church?

What about the young person who hears about a charitable organization squandering funds, and it becomes common knowledge that those who could have stopped the whole thing just looked the other way—will the spiritually fragile young person stay after that?

What happens when a bishop or cardinal causes scandal? What will we do when a high profile Catholic falls off the pedestal in a very public way—or in a quiet way and nobody else has any idea?

These are not made-up scenarios. For some people, these things were enough to send them in the opposite direction. For others, nothing would take them away from the Eucharist. The ones who stick around seem to have some things in common. For them, truth is true, and God is God. If the Church is the Church in time, and devotions lead to holiness; if the saints light the way, and the Eucharist is Christ; if the Word is alive, and the poor are fed, the lost are found, the sick are healed; if miracles still happen, and Christ still calls disciples; if angels still aid, and the confessional still cleanses; if martyrs still die, and others rise to take their places; if a still, small voice can be heard above the betrayal, wounds and doubts—then the Church is still the Church.

In that moment we realize that God never fails, even when people sometimes do. And the person running toward us with division in her heart is really a lost lamb running toward us, a soul in need of strong arms that wrap around her and gather her back to the safety of the Church. Red Rover, Red Rover. Send her on over.

She looks up, a bit disoriented, because she didn’t break through the line. She was, in fact, caught in loving arms. Hopefully, she sees a smile. A welcoming nod. Not gloating. Not condescension.

Make room for her at your side. Squeeze her hand a couple of times to let her know you are glad she’s back. And brace yourselves. Someone else is barreling at the line. But he is not the enemy either. Hold the line, and let it wrap around him—with love. 

Denise Bossert is a national Catholic writer and columnist.

The Master of Cities
| May 26, 2015 • by By Thomas H. Hicks


By Thomas H. Hicks

I want to be a part of it, New York, New York.
These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray 
Right through the very heart of it, New York, New York.

Genesis 4:17: “Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city and called the name of the city after the name of his son, also called Enoch.” Thus according to the Bible, the first city was built by the descendants of the first murderer, Cain. This is a way of saying that cities are places of evil.

If someone should ask me, “How is New York?” I would reply, “It’s dirty, noisy, dangerous, sinful, but I LOVE IT.” To me, New York is the Master of Cities, the one that all others echo.

New York City seen from a number of bridges, but especially from the Queensboro Bridge, is always the city seen for the first time. The skyline jutting into a cornflower blue sky seems to be stretching itself, standing up straight and saying, “Don’t I look good?” If you look down on the city at night from a plane on its landing run to LaGuardia, the city is a jeweled wonder, breathtaking; it glimmers and sparkles.

Now I only occasionally go to the city. But, always, when I arrive on the Metro North train at Grand Central, there is the old acceleration of the pulse. I’m swallowed up by the crowd of detraining people and borne along till we eddy out of the station onto the street.

I am stunned by the noise, the endless roar, brakes squealing, trucks grinding gears, horns blowing, sirens screaming. Some find the noise appalling. But for me, Manhattan’s steady noise is the roar of life, part of the trembling energy of the city—The Kingdom of Man.

I walk along the streets of the city excited, with constant wonder, in this man-made forest of towering steel, of rushing, bustling humans. I draw energy from the crowds, the noise. Kierkegaard would stroll among the crowds of Copenhagen to take his daily “people bath.”

I enjoy the feeling of being anonymous on a crowded sidewalk watching numerous people pass by, each person belonging to someone or something. Flannery O’Connor said about the crowds in NYC: “Although you see several people you wish you did know, you see thousands you’re glad you don’t know.”

I find especially exciting the city on the brink of evening. There is the tidal exodus of the homebound while, at certain times of the year, there is still sunlight on the west faces of the buildings, rendering them rose-colored in the setting sun.

The skyscrapers at night are as dazzling as any wonder of the world.

One summer, while in college, I worked as an elevator operator in the Cotton Exchange building on William Street. For two weeks, the job called for me to arrive on the job at 6 am. How I remember the city stirring itself in the early morning. I loved that crescendo as the city rumbled to life; all the life and color and movement of the great city coming to life again at the first light of day.

I remain fascinated by the Flatiron Building on 23rd Street, where Broadway crosses Fifth Avenue, the Diamond District, Rockefeller Center. And, of course, there is Grand Central Station with its surging sense of life; so many faces on so many errands, so many preoccupations, hopes, passions, lives in progress. Writer Aline Weiller captured the character of Grand Central well when she writes that among the swarming ponds of humanity “some are anxious, seeking specialists for second opinions, others arriving with hopeful anticipation for a blind date or lovers’ reunion, still others apathetic, approaching their mundane nine-to-five grind. It’s a place of connections, where commuters scroll their phones. Grand Central is a constant, a make-shift friend upon which you can depend.”

There are the New York theaters, museums, concert halls, churches, etc., but it is the spectacle of human life, the mass of human striving, that is so fascinating. A million faces on city streets, all with names, all with souls, as we used to say. The Christian belief is that God cares individually for all those souls he has made—all those millions seemingly so little distinguished by any vivid faith or real intimacy with things of eternity. Do most of them have a self before God? There is Therese of Lisieux’s comment about “poor ignorant sinners filled with earthly thoughts.”

When I’m with the mobs clustering at intersections on a sunny day, I have noble thoughts about the human journey we all make; we all love and suffer and hope and dream. Deep down we’re all scared and lonesome. Tragedy comes to everyone. We all have secret fears to face. We may speak different languages, have different cultural roots. But we share the one sky and one earth, are children of the same God. We’re all caught in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.

But on a cloudy overcast day, sometimes there resonates in me something Chuck Colson said: “The greatest myth of the 20th century is that people are good. We aren’t.” And there’s Dostoyevsky’s observation: “We are all emotional cripples, every one of us, more or less.”

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

Save America, pray the Rosary
| May 26, 2015 • by By Joe Pisani


Swimming Upstream
By Joe Pisani

On the back of my SUV, plastered onto the spare tire, is a bumper sticker I found in the vestibule of a church that proclaims, “Save America—Pray the Rosary.”

Most people probably think I’m a subversive, one of those weirdos who puts bumper stickers all over his car about peace, love and legalized pot. You see, I have a few others, including one that says, “Live Free or Fry,” urging an end to high-tension power lines through the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

But when you think about it, the bumper sticker about prayer and saving America is more radical in our secular society than any other cause, including global warming, animal rights, rain forest preservation and so-called marriage equality.

People probably assume I’m peculiar when they pull up behind me at the stop light and read that message, or if I cut them off on the highway and plant my rear bumper right in front of their windshield.

When one of my daughters saw it, she asked, “Aren’t you afraid someone will vandalize your car?”

I have to admit that her anxiety unsettled me a bit. Did you ever think we’d see the day when advocating prayer would provoke anger and vandalism? Welcome to the culture wars.

Like other Catholic subversives, I also have Rosary beads dangling from my rear-view mirror, and I’m sure some people think I use them as a good luck charm, but that’s not the case. Sacramentals are powerful.

“Save America—Pray the Rosary.”

Unfortunately, not enough people realize America needs to be “saved.” To the general public, everything’s fine. It’s business as usual. However, when it comes to morality, everything’s not fine. Look at the statistics for abortion, crime, poverty, teen sex, domestic violence and sex abuse. Then, spend a few hours watching “reality” TV, and it will be apparent that something is drastically wrong. Our value system has been perverted, and in many areas, what was once considered “sinful” is now socially and scientifically acceptable.

Over the years, I’ve met countless political activists who are convinced the solution to America’s problems is to promote their cause. They believe we need more laws, more programs, more taxes, more regulations, more slogans, more speeches, more celebrity endorsements.

But for a person of faith, prayer is the true way to save America. Sad to say, I’ve reached that cynical age in life when I no longer have confidence in politics, legislators, officials, the media, advocacy groups or “The System,” as it was called during the ‘60s.

Yes, praying the Rosary can save America. St. John Paul II said, “Pray, pray much. Say the Rosary every day.” St. Padre Pio called it “the weapon for these times.” What’s more powerful than the intercession of the Blessed Mother, who has a direct line to her Son, Jesus?

“Go to the Madonna. Love her!” St. Pio said. “Always say the Rosary. Say it well. Say it as often as you can! Be souls of prayer. Never tire of praying. It is essential. Prayer shakes the heart of God, it obtains necessary graces.” (Show me a politician whose motto is “more grace, fewer taxes,” and he has my vote.)

I’ve often thought that once we get to heaven and they hand out the celestial equivalent of the Oscars, the souls who walk up to the podium to give acceptance speeches won’t be the powerful and famous, or the people on the Forbes 100 list, or those who are successful by the world’s standards. The true heroes will be the lowly and humble, the prayerful and spiritual—people like the silver-haired little ladies who go to daily Mass and pray the Rosary for their children and grandchildren, for the sick and the dying, for the Blessed Mother’s intentions and for the world.

Padre Pio often told a story about the efficacy of the Blessed Mother’s intercession, and it went something like this: One day Jesus was walking around Paradise and saw some unfamiliar faces, so he went to St. Peter and asked, “Who are these people? Did you let them in?”

St. Peter responded, “No.” Jesus looked at him quizzically.
“There’s nothing I can do,” St. Peter said.
“What do you mean?” Jesus asked. “You have the keys.”
“There’s nothing I can do,” he repeated, “and there’s nothing you can do either.”
Jesus was confused.

Peter sighed, “It’s your mother. She let them in. She has her own key.”

May is Mary’s month, so as Padre Pio said, “Go to the Madonna! Love her!” And pick up your Rosary and start praying.

Joe Pisani has been a writer and editor for 30 years.   

Serra Club supports vocations
| May 26, 2015


FAIRFIELD—The Serra Club, an international organization dedicated to promoting and nurturing vocations to the priesthood and religious life, has a new chapter.

On April 28 in the Mary Mother of God Chapel at St. Pius X Parish, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano formally chartered the Serra Club of Bridgeport in a Mass and reception.

“I am ecstatic that you are here,” said Bishop Caggiano in his homily. “To create the Serra Club here in our diocese will go a long way in helping our young people hear the voice of the Shepherd.”

Serra International, founded in 1935 in Seattle, Wash., has chartered 1,170 Clubs in 46 countries across six continents. Inspired by their patron, soon to be canonized Blessed Junipero Serra, the club’s objectives are to foster, encourage and promote vocations. Serra Club members are also called to dedicate time each day in prayer, specifically for vocations.

“Our first and greatest responsibility is to pray for vocations, and to pray that young people hear the call,” said Bishop Caggiano. Even that though, is not enough, he added: “Once young people have heard the call, to sustain it is absolutely essential.”

Sustaining that call to vocations will be one of the primary functions of the new chapter, as members will help to keep the fire of the Holy Spirit burning in all those who say, “yes” to God.

In his homily, Bishop Caggiano charged the new officers and trustees of Serra to keep that fire burning through prayer and conversation.
Led by President Jeff Miller and Chaplain Father Sam Kachuba, the new chapter will go a long way towards providing all those in our diocese with the resources needed to discern their vocation. The club will provide a welcoming environment where those considering the priesthood or religious life in the Diocese of Bridgeport can have the support that they need.

In his closing remarks, Bishop Caggiano agreed: “In the end, we only want what the will of God is for each of us, including our young people.”

(See all about vocations at For S.erra Club of Bridgeport, go to

Catholic Students March in Memorial Day Parades
| May 25, 2015


BROOKFIELD—At the Memorial Day Parade in Brookfield, Handy Dandy Handyman Ministry (HDHM) sported its own float with family in tow. A fun day was had by all.

TRUMBULL—Students from St. Catherine of Siena School in Trumbull gather before marching as a group in Trumbull's Memorial Day Parade on May 25, 2015 (view larger photo).

This year, St. Catherine of Siena School celebrates 50 years of excellence in Catholic education.

FAIRFIELD—In Fairfield a delegation from Church of Assumption also showed school colors in this morning’s Memorial Day Parade through the Post Road (view photo).

St. Catherine of Siena Supports our Veterans!
OLD GREENWICH—The Carnival Committee marched in the annual Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 25 and gave out lollipops and “FREE Dunk Tank toss tickets.” It was a great morning for everyone!

Living Water: Father Emil Kapaun, ‘Shepherd in Combat Boots’
| May 25, 2015 • by By Kathy Schiffer | National Catholic Register


CLEMSON, S.C.—“Would you care for a drink of water?”

Father Emil Kapaun, clad in his worn prison uniform and sitting beside a small fire, extended his arm to offer a roughly crafted tin pan full of melted snow. His fellow POW, Lt. William Funchess, accepted the gift with gratitude.

Sixty-four years later, Bill Funchess still remembers the priest’s kind offer. “It was the first water I’d drunk since I’d been captured three months earlier,” Funchess explained from his home in Clemson, S.C. “Until Father Kapaun climbed the fence into our camp with his handmade pan, we’d survived by eating the frozen snow.”

Father Kapaun, a U.S. military chaplain, and Funchess—of the 24th Infantry Division, a Methodist—were captured by Chinese Communist forces in November 1950, during the Korean War.

Forced by their captors to march north toward Pyoktong, North Korea, near the Chinese border, the two were imprisoned in different compounds. Conditions in the prison camp were harsh: Housed in a crowded 9-by-9-foot thatched roof mud hut, with no heat in sub-zero temperatures, the prisoners huddled against one another for warmth.

About a week after being taken captive, Father Kapaun scaled the fence into the camp where Funchess lived to care for the sick and wounded prisoners there. Funchess was inspired by the priest's resolute sense of mission. Shortly after, Chinese officers realized that Funchess was an officer living among enlisted men, and he was relocated to an officers’ camp, again separated from Father Kapaun.

But in April 1951, the door to Funchess’ shack was thrown open by Chinese guards, and a man was thrown to the floor. It was Father Kapaun, who was suffering from a blood clot in his right leg and was having difficulty walking. Perhaps, said Funchess, the guards hoped to isolate him from the Catholics, in the mistaken belief that prisoners of other faiths wouldn’t bond with him. Perhaps, too, they hoped that the prisoners in that hut would care for Father Kapaun.

Service to All

The priest, the only Catholic whom Funchess had ever gotten to know, was an inspiration to his fellow prisoners. When he was able to walk, he cared for the other POWs with no regard for their faith background; Catholic, Protestant or atheist all benefited from Father Kapaun’s kindness.

Lice were a significant problem for the prisoners; and a soldier who didn’t regularly pick the lice from his body could lose a significant amount of blood, risking his health. Father Kapaun would doggedly pick lice from prisoners who were unable to care for themselves.

The courageous chaplain scrounged around, recalled Funchess, visiting the various warehouses and stealing soybeans or other food for the other prisoners to eat. At great risk to himself, he would cross the barbed-wire fence to visit other compounds and help the men imprisoned there.

He would lead prayers for both the Catholics and the non-Catholics. Funchess reiterated, as though reminding himself: “He did many good Christian-type things for the POWs, with no regard for their religious background.”

However, Father Kapaun’s health continued to deteriorate. When the priest was no longer able to walk, Funchess cared for his wounded friend. Seeing his serious condition, Funchess offered him the choicest spot on the cold dirt floor, sleeping against the wall, so that no soldier stumbling through the total darkness of the hut would mistakenly step on the priest’s injured leg at night. Funchess got all the prisoners to move over in order to offer Father Kapaun the safe spot near the wall. Then, with no warm clothing or blanket and no heat, Funchess rested against the priest on the coldest nights, helping to stave off frostbite and further illness. All the while, the duo did a lot of talking.

Funchess also took it upon himself to perform an extraordinary act of kindness for Father Kapaun: He scrubbed the soiled hut and wiped clean the gaunt body of his friend. And he and his fellow prisoners even fashioned a makeshift toilet for their padre out of a pot-belly stove.

The Chaplain’s Final Days

Their time together was short. In the second or third week of May 1951, Chinese officers and guards burst into the hut and dragged Father Kapaun out. They were, they said in broken English, taking him to the “hospital”—or to what prisoners more realistically called the “death camp,” since most of the prisoners who were taken there never left to rejoin their fellow prisoners: Funchess recalled only two prisoners who had survived and came out of the hospital.

Funchess pleaded with the guards to leave Father Kapaun where he was, as he was in no condition to be moved. Other POWs, especially the Catholics, tried to intervene. They were almost physical—pushing, shoving the Chinese guards and the Chinese English-speaking officer. The guards, though, were determined to take him—probably, Funchess thought, because they intended to allow him to die.

Funchess recalled that the guards permitted five or six Catholic POWs to take the ailing Father Kapaun out of his room and up the path to the so-called “hospital.” Once at the hospital, the guards closed the doors and sent the POWs back to their camp.

There was no word for several days; finally, the POWs learned that their beloved priest had died on May 23, 1951.

A Special Crucifix

Some time later, after he was transferred to North Korea’s Camp No. 2, Funchess saw the 5- or 6-year-old daughter of the Chinese commander playing with a set of gold “cups” that had once belonged to Father Kapaun. Nothing in his Methodist faith had prepared Funchess to understand the purpose of the “gold cups”; but most likely, the little girl had acquired the priest’s military Mass kit—and the cups were the chalice, ciborium and paten used in the liturgy.

Funchess also spoke with the Register about another prisoner of war, a Jewish prisoner by the name of Jerry Fink. Fink, a Chicago native who had been trained as a military pilot, had been shot down on his first mission; and Fink and Funchess had spent a week together in “the hole,” an underground cell in the prison camp.

Fink also formed a bond of respect with Father Kapaun; once, when Fink obtained rough wood from the woodpile, he used it to carve a crucifix for the priest.

Funchess also contributed to Father Kapaun’s crucifix: He climbed to the rafters in an abandoned camp building and found a pair of tin snips, which he used to cut the barbed wire. From the snipped wire, Funchess fashioned a crown of thorns for the crucified Christ.

The crucifix—which is 24 to 26 inches high and perhaps 12 to 15 inches across—was brought out of the camp by Catholic POWs when they were released at the end of the war. It is now enshrined at St. John Nepomucene Church in Pilsen, Kan., the hometown church of Father Kapaun.

Sainthood Cause and the Medal of Honor

The Diocese of Wichita and the Vatican have begun the formal process that could lead to Father Kapaun’s canonization. In 1993, Father Kapaun received the title of “Servant of God.” The next two steps would be beatification and canonization, if the cause proceeds.

On April 11, 2013, nearly 62 years after his death, Father Emil Kapaun was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama. Receiving the award was Father Kapaun’s nephew.

The president, in presenting the award, said, “This is an amazing story. Father Kapaun has been called a shepherd in combat boots. His fellow soldiers, who felt his grace and his mercy, called him a saint, a blessing from God. Today, we bestow another title on him—recipient of our nation’s highest military decoration. I know one of Father Kapaun’s comrades spoke for a lot of folks here when he said, ‘It’s about time.’”


Vigil of Pentecost Mass with Bishop Caggiano
| May 23, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—All Ecclesial Movement, Apostolic Societies, Fratnerities & 3rd Orders. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano invites all members and all those who wish to attend, to a special Mass on the Vigil of Pentecost, tonight, Saturday, May 23 at 6:30 pm at St. Augustine Cathedral, 359 Washington Avenue, Bridgeport. 

Reception will follow. Click here for free ticket. Let's have many Cursillistas at this Mass! De colores!

Bishop Caggiano's reflection on the Vigil Mass.

This evening I will be celebrating the full Vigil of Pentecost Mass of the Solemnity of Pentecost at 6:30 PM in Saint Augustine¹s Cathedral, during which we will give thanks for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit who gave birth to the Church in the upper room over 2,000 year ago and who came to us in the sacrament of Baptism, creating us as adopted children of God who share in the life and grace of God. In tomorrow¹s posting, I will share some thoughts about the great gift of the Holy Spirit. However, it is not enough to appreciate who the Holy Spirit is. Rather, let us pray for a greater outpouring of the Spirit¹s presence in your life and mine, so that we can come to know, love and serve the Lord Jesus in a deeper way. To this end, I ask you to pray today for each other and the whole Church in the following way:

"Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your divine love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth. Let us pray: O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit have taught the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the assistance of the same Holy Spirit, we may ever walk in the path of righteousness and ever rejoice in his consolation, through Christ the Lord, Amen."

Bishop will ordain Deacon Class of 2015
| May 22, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will ordain six men as deacons for the Diocese of Bridgeport on June 13 at 11 am in St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Fairfield.

Preparing to serve, the Deacon Class of 2015 will be ordained
on June 13. (l-r) Front row: Anthony Caraluzzi, Jeffrey Font,
John Tuccio. Back row: David Flynn, Ernest Jeffers, Patrick Shevlin.

In preparation for their ordination, the men attended a week-long retreat at Mt. Alvernia Retreat House in Wappingers Falls, N.Y. They began their retreat on Sunday, April 26, and were joined by their wives in the middle of the week.

“While the men are the ones called to ordination as deacon, the decision to request ordination is a joint decision by the man and his wife,” stated Deacon Tony Detje, diocesan director of deacons.

Anthony Caraluzzi

Anthony Caraluzzi, 56, and his wife, Debra Ann, are members of St. Mary Parish in Bethel. This September they will be celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. The couple has three children in their twenties.

St. Mary’s is his home parish in a way rarely seen now: he was baptized at St. Mary’s, had First Holy Communion and Confirmation there, and went to St. Mary’s elementary school. After graduating from Immaculate High School in Danbury, he attended Fairfield University, where he holds a B.A. degree in economics. He has been the owner of Taunton Wine & Liquor in Newtown for the past 23 years.

Deacon Caraluzzi will assist at a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Mary’s on June 14 at 11:30 am. Father Corey Piccinino, St. Mary’s pastor, will be the principal celebrant; Deacon John DeRoin will give the homily.

“The diaconate call is simply a call to serve,” he says. “I’m not entirely sure if there is any one particular ministry that God has in mind for me, though I do believe hospital ministry will be an important part of my ministry work. However, I trust that God will give me what I need for whatever his will is for me.”

David Flynn

David Francis Flynn, 60, and his wife Anita belong to St. Jude Parish in Monroe. The couple has four grown children, two boys and two girls.

Deacon Flynn grew up in a devout family who owned a grain and dairy farm in rural Minnesota. After attending Catholic elementary school and public high school, he enrolled in St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., run by the Benedictine monks. He holds a B.A. in business administration from St. John’s, and another from the University of Minnesota-St. Paul in agricultural economics. He is currently a senior director of Jones Lang LaSalle.

After relocating to the East Coast from the Midwest, the Flynns found meaningful relationships through their parishes and through the Cursillo movement. From that came the decision to profess as a Benedictine Oblate.

Deacon Flynn will assist at a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Jude’s on June 14 at 12 noon. Benedictine Father Eric Hollas, O.S.B., will be the principal celebrant and deliver the homily.

“I believe that each of us is carrying a burden that is causing pain and suffering,” says Deacon Flynn. “A relationship with Jesus will ease or release that burden, and our faith offers a path to fully experience the comfort Jesus offers. I hope to be a useful instrument for Christ in ministering to those needs, and a truthful witness to his message.”

Jeffrey Font

Jeffrey Joseph Font, 44, grew up in St. Edward the Confessor Parish. He and his wife, Lisamarie, are currently members of St. Joseph Parish in Brookfield. They have four daughters, ages 10-15.

He attended Consolidated School in New Fairfield and graduated from New Fairfield High School. He is currently a product specialist with Centrix Dental in Shelton.

He first became interested in the diaconate 15 years ago, encouraged by his pastor at St. Edward’s, Msgr. Martin Ryan. Recently married and with a growing family, he put the thought on hold for a time but the calling continued to grow stronger and was encouraged by his wife and children.

Deacon Font will assist at a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Joseph’s on June 14 at 11 am. Father Chip O’Neill, St. Joseph’s pastor, will be the principal celebrant. Deacon Font will give the homily.

“I want to become a deacon because I want to serve God and to minister to his people,” he says. “It is a difficult world we live in and people need someone they can go to in times of trouble and struggle. They need others who may be able to help them with their faith and be with them in prayer and comfort.”

Ernest Jeffers

Ernest Louis Jeffers, Jr., 50, was born in Queens, N.Y., but grew up in Stamford where he is a member of St. Bridget of Ireland Parish. He and his wife, Magdalene, have four children, three boys and a girl, ranging in age from 17 to 31 years old.

He attended Sacred Heart elementary school (where he met his wife in seventh grade) and graduated from Westhill High School in Stamford. He is currently a production coordinator for Stamford Tent & Event Services. He credits his former pastor, Father Gil Babeau, and current one, Father Ed McAuley, Jr., with encouraging his vocation.

Deacon Jeffers will assist at a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Bridget on June 14 at 11:45 am. Father Ed McAuley will be the principal celebrant. Deacon Jeffers will give the homily.

“I would love to continue my work in my parish, especially with the youth group who are such a joy. They give me great hope for the future of our Church,” says Jeffers, who was a youth football coach for many years. “I also have a hope of working in prison ministry and with people who have lost their way and have given up hope. I want to be there for those who need to be pulled back to God.”

Patrick Shevlin

Patrick James Shevlin, 56, was born in Scranton, Penn., but grew up in Bridgeport, where he graduated from St. Ann School (now St. Ann Academy). He went to Notre Dame Catholic High School in Fairfield and holds an AS degree in sociology from the University of Scranton and a BS in business management from Charter Oak State College in New Britain. He is associate director of business intelligence for Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals in Ridgefield.

He and his wife, Doreen, are parishioners of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown. They have three children, all in their twenties.

Deacon Shevlin will assist at a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Rose on June 21 at 12 noon. Msgr Robert Weiss, St. Rose’s pastor, will be the principal celebrant and will give the homily.

“By the time I was a teenager I began to ask God to let me know his will for me,” he says. “The first time I distinctly heard his reply was when I met my Doreen, whom I knew with certainty was to become my wife. It was through working with RCIA that I realized that God was calling me to the diaconate. Upon entering the formation program, I felt the same type of certainty as when I met my wife, that peaceful and energized feeling from knowing that this is part of God’s plan for me.”

John Tuccio

John Nicholas Tuccio, 70, was born in New Haven, where he was baptized in St. Anthony Parish, and grew up in Ansonia. His father was one of 10 children and, during his childhood, Tuccio remembers seeing the entire extended family at Sunday Mass at Holy Rosary Parish in Ansonia.

He went to Larkin School in Ansonia and Notre Dame High School in West Haven. He holds a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Bridgeport and an MS in project management from Boston University. He retired after 49 years as a project manager with IBM in Southbury.

He and his wife, Helen, are members of St. Jude Parish in Monroe. The couple has four adult children, two boys and two girls.

“When Helen and I moved to Monroe and became members of St. Jude, we discovered a faith-based community of families,” he says. The clergy, in particular Msgr. John Sabia and Father Skip Karcinski, and the families of St. Jude’s played a significant role in my call to the diaconate. They reinforce the realization that faith is more than Mass on Sunday, but a calling to support the entire week.”  

Two men to be ordained transitional deacons
| May 22, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Late June will see the ordination of two young men as deacons on their last step before ordination to the priesthood.

Philip Lahn Phan and Eric William Silva

On June 20, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will ordain Eric Silva and Philip Lahn Phan as deacons for the Diocese of Bridgeport.

“We are blessed to have these two men of prayer serving in our diocese,” says Father Sam Kachuba, director of vocations. “I look forward to the day when they are ministering here as priests!”

Philip Lahn Phan

Philip Lahn Phan, 30, was born in Vinh-Long, Vietnam. His parents still live there, where they are members of Sacred Heart Parish in the city of Tra-On. A sister and brother also live in Vietnam.

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

“When I was a child, I always dreamed of doing something that would make my life meaningful,” he says. That dream became a quest, a searching that led him toward the Catholic faith. “When I turned 20, I found the meaning of life through my relationship with God and the Church. This relationship also led me to have a desire to serve, that is, to serve God and his people in the priesthood.”

Coming to this country, he entered St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford in 2010. He is currently studying at Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., and expects to complete his MDiv degree in 2016. Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in Stamford is his current home parish.

“The more I walk on this journey, the more I feel my quest is being accomplished and that always makes me a happy person,” he says

Father Kachuba agrees with that assessment. “Lanh brings a joyful spirit to everything he does,” he said. “He is both a convert to the Catholic faith and a man who has lived the immigrant experience. His zeal for living the Catholic faith grows every day. He wants to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with everyone. While maintaining strong roots in his own Vietnamese culture, Lanh moves fairly seamlessly in the American culture, as well. He will be a welcoming presence for anyone who crosses the threshold of his parish.”

Deacon Phan will assist at his first Mass on June 21 at St. Augustine Cathedral at 2:30 pm, the regular Sunday Vietnamese Mass at the Cathedral. Father Linh Nguyen will be the principal celebrant; Deacon Phan will give the homily.

Eric William Silva

Eric William Silva, 24, grew up in Trumbull, where St. Theresa is his home parish. His parents and brother James still live in Trumbull; another brother, John, lives in Fairfield. He went to Booth Hill School in Trumbull and graduated from St. Joseph High School in 2008. During that time he became active in the High School Apostles, a Catholic leadership formation program for youth.

He went to St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., before transferring to Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. After graduating from Sacred Heart in 2012 he entered St. John Fisher Seminary.

“If anyone ever wants to know if Catholic education or Catholic youth ministry pays off, I hope they meet Eric Silva,” says Father Kachuba. “His involvement with the High School Apostles, his background in Catholic schools, both in the diocese and in college, helped him to hear the Lord’s call to ministry. Eric is able to encounter people on a profound, spiritual level and help them to feel loved by God. His desire to serve the People of God is evident.”

Silva is also studying at Mount St. Mary’s and will complete his theological studies in 2016.

“It was apparent from very early in my life that I was being called to live radically, but I did not know how or in what way,” he says. “In college, God really entered into the busyness and messiness of my life to show me that the only authentically radical life is that of a Christian. My discernment began with an encounter with Christ in the Eucharist, and it is sustained only by a continuation of that relationship. After years of discernment, prayer and a great deal of joy, God has revealed that the radical life he called me to is brought to fulfillment as his priest.”

Deacon Silva will assist at his first Mass on June 21 at 10:30 am at St. Theresa. Father Brian Gannon, St. Theresa’s pastor, will be the principal celebrant.  

Red Noses for a good cause at Assumption School
| May 21, 2015 • by Minute Man News


FAIRFIELD—More than 200 students, teachers and administrators at Assumption School in Fairfield wore red noses Thursday as part of Red Nose Day, to raise money to fight hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world.

The students purchased the $1 red noses, donated by Walgreens, sponsor of the event, and the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport. Irene Orosz, athletic director at Assumption and also a parent, heard of the nationwide program and helped plan the event at the school. "All the children were very excited and into raising money for this good cause," she said.

Photo by: Tom Henry

C4Y auditions are underway!
| May 20, 2015


WILTON—When Mary Bozzuti Higgins accepted the job as director of the diocesan youth choir, she probably did not realize that in addition to molding young singers into concert ready performers, she would also have to fill the role (at least initially) of “chief recruiter.” (click for video)

Victoria Baggio

Katie Cunningham

Sam Muirhead auditioning.

Whether she is able to create virtuosos, she has already done a good job recruiting young people for the first C4Y (Choir for Youth) auditions. Information on

Higgins, a soprano and accomplished opera singer and voice teacher, had help recruiting from her daughter, Caroline, a junior at Wilton High School who is a “shoe-in” to make the choir!

When asked how she learned about C4Y, and its auditions, Victoria Baggio explained that she is best friends with Caroline Higgins. “She recruited me,” Baggio said, and after singing “My Country Tis of Thee” in front of her friend’s mother, she said, “I wasn’t nervous.”

Baggio is also a junior at Wilton High School and an active member of Our Lady of Fatima Parish.

At the first audition for the nascent C4Y, Wilton High School and Our Lady of Fatima Parish were well-represented. WHS junior Katie Cunningham said, “I love to sing, and I sing for the high school choir.” She sees C4Y “as a perfect opportunity to sing more.”

Cunningham admitted that she can be shy, but after auditioning, she said, “I’m really glad I did it.”

Sam Muirhead, a WHS sophomore and OLF parishioner, presented a challenge to Bozzutti Higgins. At 6’4”, Muirhead may need a custom-made choir robe. “But we will get you one,” she assured him.

When asked why he was interested in auditioning, Muirhead said that “I’m very involved with the Church, and I figured that this would be fun.” He is also family friends with another “recruiter,” Deacon John DiTaranto, who is assisting with C4Y.

C4Y’s first assignment is to be ready for the September 19 Synod Closing Mass at Webster Arena in Bridgeport. The choir’s first public performance may be in front of 9,000 people. After that, they will sing at the first annual C4Y Christmas Concert, to be held December 18 at Norwalk Concert Hall.

C4Y rehearsals begin in June and run through the summer. “We are going to start practicing Christmas songs right away,” Bozzutti Higgins told some of her young singers.

In addition to their first two already scheduled “command performances,” Bozzutti Higgins is informing her singers that “Bishop Caggiano will be calling on C4Y for various events throughout the year and we must be ready with a basic repertory for Masses and special celebrations.”

It is likely that C4Y will consist of less than 50 members for the synod Mass, but the bishop hopes that in time, C4Y can be more than 100 members strong, ready to perform at a moment’s notice.

In addition to serving the needs of the Church, C4Y members will also have a very positive item to add to their college applications. College admission boards are very receptive to applicants who practice their faith and express interest in religion, as statistics show that college students who attend religious services during their college years tend to do better academically than students who do not practice religion while in college.

In order to build up her ranks of singers, Bozzutti Higgins is willing to travel throughout the diocese to meet individual singers for auditions. If you are interested in auditioning for C4Y or if you want to learn more about it, please contact Bozzutti Higgins at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Music events planned at St. Emery
| May 20, 2015


FAIRFIELD—St. Emery Church will hold its Third Annual Guest Artist Day on May 31 at the 9 am Mass, according to parish music director Anthony Procaccini.

“The day is set aside for all to thank the choir for their season, and to add an outstanding talent to the mix,” Procaccini notes. “This year the honors go to baritone Frank Mastrone.”

Mastrone, a Stamford resident, graduated from Central Connecticut State College with a bachelor of fine arts in acting and directing. He was part of the first national cast of “Cats,” and subsequently appeared as Jean Val Jean in “Les Miserables” and in the title role “Jackal and Hyde.” In the original company of “Phantom of the Opera,” he performed over 4,000 times in 25 years. His concert performances have taken place in the USA and Europe, and he has toured in “Evita” and “Mamma Mia!” He has performed benefits for local Catholic organizations and currently teaches at the Greenwich Performing Arts Studio.

Musical selections at the Mass will include “Ave Maria” composed by Michael Cooney, music director of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Fairfield.

The public is cordially invited. Immediately after Mass, all are invited to a free "coffee and" reception in the hall, courtesy of parish council members and volunteers, and to thank the choir members for their efforts.

On Sunday afternoon, June 14, St. Emery’s music department will hold a fundraising concert at 3 pm. The program will include organ music performed by Tony Procaccini; solo soprano selections by Rose Kovach, including Handel, Mozart, Brahms, Copland, and arias from the Hungarian opera “Bánk bán;” and music by the parish choir. Kovach, who has a degree in vocal performance and sacred music from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Penn., has lived in Hungary for four years.  

A reception follows.

(St. Emery is located at 838 Kings Highway East. The church has street parking only; arriving early is recommended. The May 31 Guest Artist Mass is free. Tickets for the June 14 concert are $10; children under 12, free. For more info, contact Tony Procaccini: 718.873.7421 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

Church needs women's voices, input, experiences, pope tells religious
| May 19, 2015 • by By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Women can be appointed heads of some offices of the Roman Curia, Pope Francis said, but that will not be enough to "recover the role" women should have in the Catholic Church.

"Women should be promoted," he said May 16 during an audience with an international group of men and women religious working in the Diocese of Rome.

But assigning a certain number of women to leadership positions is "simply functionalism," he said.

What is important is to ensure that women have a voice and are listened to, he said, because the church needs their specific contributions.

"When we men are dealing with a problem, we arrive at a conclusion, but if we deal with the same problem along with women, the conclusion could be different. It could lead along the same path, but would be richer, stronger, more intuitive," he said. "Women in the church must have this role," because the church needs "the feminine genius."

During the pope's long meeting with the religious, he responded off the cuff to questions posed by two women and two men. But he also highlighted the stories and ministries of religious he has met during his two years as bishop of Rome and experiences he had previously as archbishop of Buenos Aires.

Amigonian Father Gaetano Greco asked the pope how the diocese and religious orders of men could help religious women find good spiritual directors and confessors.

Pope Francis responded that for both women and men religious finding a good spiritual director can be a problem either because a priest "does not understand what consecrated life is, or because he wants to involve himself in the charism and give it his own interpretation."

Looking for a good confessor also can be difficult, he said. When going to confession, a religious doesn't need "a nice chat between friends," but he or she also does not need "one of those rigid ones."

"In the other diocese I had," he said, referring to Buenos Aires, "I always asked the sisters who came to me asking advice, 'But tell me, in your community or congregation isn't there a wise sister, a sister who lives your charism well, a good sister with experience? Ask her to be your spiritual director.'"

The pope said he once was told, "But she's a woman!"

Spiritual direction, the pope said, "is not a charism exclusive to priests. It's a charism of the laity."

The pope said he was reading a book on obedience by St. Silouan of Mount Athos, who was a carpenter. "He wasn't even a deacon, but he was a great spiritual director."

Pope Francis encouraged religious superiors—of both men and women—to identify members of their congregation who are good and wise and patient, and get them training in spiritual direction.

"It's not easy," the pope said. "A spiritual director is one thing and a confessor is another. I go to a confessor, say what my sins are, feel condemned, then he forgives everything and I go forward.

"But with a spiritual director, I have to talk about what is in my heart. The examination of conscience isn't the same for confession and for spiritual direction," he said. "For confession, I have to look at where I was lacking, where I lost patience, if I was greedy—that kind of thing, those concrete things that are sinful.

"But in spiritual direction, I must examine what is happening in my heart, where the Spirit is moving, if I felt desolation or consolation, if I am tired, why I am sad: These are things to talk about with the man or woman who is my spiritual director," he said.

"When you find a consecrated man or woman who cannot discern what is happening in his or her heart, who cannot discern a decision, it's a failing of spiritual direction," the pope said. "This is something only a wise man or wise woman can do."

Iwona Langa, a consecrated virgin, asked the pope how married couples and consecrated people can help each other realize they both have a vocation to love and they can support one another in their fidelity to that love.

The key, the pope said, is to remember that love is concrete.

"Your love as a woman is a concrete, maternal love," he said. The 25th chapter of Matthew's Gospel outlines just how concrete Christian love is to be: among other things, it involves feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting prisoners.

Scalabrinian Father Gaetano Saracino, pastor of a parish Pope Francis visited in March, asked how religious orders, new movements, Catholic associations and the diocese could work together better, valuing the identity and gifts of each.

Saying he would be blunt because "I am a bishop and a religious," the Jesuit Pope Francis told the religious, "One of the most difficult things for a bishop is to create harmony in the diocese."

Sometimes, the pope said, it may be true that the bishop sees religious as "stopgaps" or fillers. "But put yourself in the bishop's place. You have a parish with a great religious as pastor; three years later the provincial comes and says, 'I'm changing this one and sending you another.' The bishops suffer from this kind of attitude."

Religious tell the bishop, "we had a chapter and the chapter decided," he said. Well, the bishop is trying to run a diocese and sometimes it seems that "many religious women and men pass their lives if not in chapters, then in verses," he said, making a play on words while also making fun of endless meetings.

Carl Anderson and the Knights of Columbus has received Notre Dame’s 2015 Evangelium Vitae Medal
| May 18, 2015


INDIANA—The University of Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture has awarded the 2015 Evangelium Vitae Medal to Carl A. Anderson and the Knights of Columbus.

“Since its inception, the Knights of Columbus has protected and supported the most vulnerable among us,” said O. Carter Snead, William P. and Hazel B. White Director of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture.

“Its members have been at the forefront of the struggle to promote a culture of life through their work at the local, national and international levels. They have tirelessly volunteered, educated, advocated, donated and prayed on behalf of every human life from conception to natural death. Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and the Knights of Columbus richly deserve to be recognized as heroic contributors to the pro-life cause; they embody the spirit of the Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal.”

The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic organization with 1.8 million members. Anderson has served as Supreme Knight for 14 years. Over the past decade, under his administration, the organization has donated more than 664 million hours of service and $1.4 billion to charity, including the donation of more than 268 ultrasound machines valued at more than $14 million to pregnancy resource centers in 44 states and Canada.

The Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal honors individuals whose efforts have served to proclaim the Gospel of Life by steadfastly affirming and defending the sanctity of human life from its earliest stages. Previous recipients of the medal include Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities; Helen M. Alvaré, associate professor of law at George Mason University; Mother Agnes Mary Donovan and the Sisters of Life; and Congressman Chris Smith, co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, and his wife, Marie Smith, director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues.

Announced annually on Respect Life Sunday, the first Sunday of October, the Evangelium Vitae award consists of a specially commissioned medal and $10,000 prize, presented at a spring banquet.

Click here to read Mr. Anderson's speech.

Contact: Ryan Madison, associate director, Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, 574.631.1167, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Cardinal Egan: Extraordinary leader and personal mentor
| May 17, 2015 • by By Fr. Colin McKenna


BRIDGEPORT—A memorial Mass for Edward Cardinal Egan, the third Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, was held at St. Augustine Cathedral on Saturday, May 16, at 1 pm.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano was the principal celebrant, and Father Michael Jones, pastor of St. Lawrence Parish, Shelton, was the homilist.

Fifteen priests concelebrated the Mass, assisted by four deacons and four seminarians from Fisher Seminary who served as altar-servers. About 100 congregants attended the celebration, which was scheduled in part for those who were unable to attend the cardinal’s funeral Mass in March.

Bishop Caggiano repeatedly referred to Cardinal Egan as a personal “friend and mentor,” and as a friend of the Diocese of Bridgeport during and after his tenure as Bishop of Bridgeport. When Bishop Caggiano was named the fifth Bishop of Bridgeport, Cardinal Egan invited him to his Manhattan residence and said, “The Diocese of Bridgeport is a great treasure; take good care of it.”

Father Jones began his homily by saying that “Cardinal Egan did not like eulogies,” and then proceeded (humorously) to eulogize the bishop who ordained him and who became a lifelong friend. Father Jones spoke to Cardinal Egan on the phone within an hour of his cardiac arrest.

Despite the stresses of the position and the responsibility of commanding the “most important pulpit” in the United States, “Cardinal Egan was very happy as Archbishop of New York,” Father Jones said. “But the Diocese of Bridgeport was a vineyard that he never forgot.”

In his last phone call with Cardinal Egan, the cardinal was lining up donors to help with the relocation and construction of the new Fisher Seminary in Trumbull. Many consider the founding of Fisher to be Cardinal Egan’s signature achievement, and he was concerned about its legacy until his last breath.

Bishop Caggiano emphasized that the faithful hope that in Cardinal Egan we now have a great friend and intercessor in heaven, who can continue to help the good works of the Diocese of Bridgeport with his prayers from on high.

Regarding Cardinal Egan’s abilities as a fundraiser and fiscal manager, Father Jones said, “As a steward, there was no one better with the resources of others, and no one more generous with his own.”

Father Jones said that “Cardinal Egan loved priests,” and in his nearly thirty years as a bishop, he had the privilege to ordain many men to the priesthood. His love of priests is one reason he founded Fisher Seminary and remained concerned to the end about its legacy.

Father Jones was present at Cardinal Egan’s episcopal ordination in Rome in 1985. The Cardinal’s thirtieth anniversary as a bishop would have been May 22.

Father Jones said that Cardinal Egan “believed that life is a journey.” Now that Cardinal Egan’s journey here on earth has come to an end, the people of God will continue to remember him in prayer, with thanksgiving for his extraordinary leadership in the Church.

(Gifts in thanksgiving for Cardinal Egan’s service to the Diocese of Bridgeport and the universal Church can be given in his memory to support the ongoing works of St. John Fisher Seminary: 894 Newfield Avenue, Stamford, CT, 06905, and at

Click here for photos
(Photos by Michelle Babyak and F. McKenna)

Diocesan Memorial Mass for Cardinal Egan this weekend
| May 15, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—The Diocesan Memorial Mass for the late Edward Cardinal Egan will be held this Saturday, May 16, 1 pm at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport. All are invited to the Mass and remembrance.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the main celebrant. The homily will be delivered by Fr. Michael Jones, pastor of St. Lawrence Church in Huntington and former Priest Secretary to Cardinal Egan when he served as Bishop of Bridgeport

Cardinal Egan passed away suddenly and peacefully on March 5, 2015. More than 2,500 mourners, many from Fairfield County, attended his March 10, Mass of Christian Burial celebrated at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Cardinal Egan was the third bishop of Bridgeport serving in that capacity from 1988 to 2000.  While leading the diocese, he oversaw the regionalization of diocesan elementary schools, established Hispanic and Haitian Apostolates, founded the Saint John Fisher Seminary Residence for young men considering the priesthood, reorganized diocesan healthcare facilities, and initiated the Inner-City Foundation for Charity and Education. He saw to the construction of the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy Residence for Retired Priests in Stamford, Connecticut, and established the Saint Catherine School for Children with Special Needs in Bridgeport, Connecticut as well as The Haitian Catholic Center in Stamford, Connecticut. At this time he also served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut; and as Chairman of the Board of the Bishop Curtis Homes for the Elderly in fifteen communities of Fairfield County, Connecticut.

Just a few weeks prior to his death Cardinal Egan was present at Monsignor William Scheyd’s 50th Ordination Anniversary Mass. Last summer he visited the diocese for the 25th anniversary celebration of St. John Fisher Seminary, which he founded. At that time, the Cardinal said he hoped to return to help the diocese launch new initiatives in Catholic Education and conclude its fundraising for the new St. John Fisher Seminary in Trumbull.

"Ascension Thursday holds promise for us" | Bishop Frank J. Caggiano reflects on Ascension Thursday
| May 14, 2015


BRIDGEPORTToday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Lord¹s Ascension into heaven.

As a people of faith, we believe that the Risen Lord has ascended with his risen humanity into the glory of heaven, where He now sits at the right hand of the Father. From his place in heaven, Christ is forever our intercessor before our Heavenly Father. So whatever we ask for in prayer, we ask in the name of Jesus, our crucified, Risen and Ascended Lord.

Yet, as much as this feast celebrates what happened in the life of Christ, it also reminds us of what has been promised to each of us. More specifically, Christ has ascended into heaven, fully God and fully man, to open the path that you and I are called to walk to inherit eternal life. Today¹s feast reminds us of one basic truth of our Christian faith: in baptism, each of us is given the grace and shown the way to enter into the glory of eternal life. Our daily journey is also a journey to heaven. Where the Lord Jesus has gone, we hope to follow.

Many times we get so caught up in the things of life that are not important that we forget the really essential point of all that we are and do. Today we are reminded that our destination is eternal love and glory in heaven. For in the end, if we do not live so as to receive this great gift of eternal life, whatever do in its place will matter very little.

Also read: Deacon Greg Kandra's Ascension Thursday HomilyDeacon Kandra serves in the Diocese of Brooklyn, he is a former CBS Evening News writer and producer.

Feast of Our Lady of Fatima
| May 13, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima, one which the Diocese observes withgreat joy and devotion because Bishop Frank Caggiano has invoked Our Lady as patroness of 2014 Synod.

We honor Our Lady as the Mother of God,  and look to her as a model of perfect discipleship. We ask for her prayers to God on our behalf for the success of the Synod and the work of the diocese.

Pope Francis has signaled his strong devotion to Mary from the first morning of his pontificate, when he made a brief pilgrimage to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, Rome's principal Marian shrine. He later asked the bishops of Portugal to dedicate his pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima.

In 2014 Pope Francis formally entrusted the world to Mary, as he faced the statue of Mary that stands in the shrine at Fatima, Portugal. Click here for story by Catholic News Service.

God will judge people on care for the poor, for the planet, pope says
| May 13, 2015 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—The powerful of the earth will face God's judgment and will be asked to account for how they cared for the poor and how they cared for the environment so that it could produce food for all, Pope Francis said.

"The planet has enough food for all, but it seems that there is a lack of willingness to share it with everyone," Pope Francis said May 12 during his homily at a Mass opening the general assembly of Caritas Internationalis.

The network of 164 Catholic charities—who were to welcome Caritas South Sudan as the confederation's 165th member—was to focus on the theme, "One Human Family, Caring for Creation."

Pope Francis told the delegates, "We ought to set the table for all and ask that there be a table for all."

Citing Jesus' explanation of the final judgment in the Gospel of Matthew, which includes the line, "For I was hungry and you gave me food," the pope said, "we must do what we can so that everyone has something to eat. But we must also remind the powerful of the earth that God will call them to judgment one day, and it will be seen if they truly tried to provide food for him in every person, and if they worked so that the environment would not be destroyed, but could produce this food."

The work of Caritas in parishes, dioceses, nations and across the globe draws its strength from love of God and neighbor, the pope said. "Without this root, Caritas dies."

"All of our strategies and plans remain empty unless we carry this love in us," he said. "Not our love, but his. Or better yet, our love purified and strengthened by his love."

Adding to his prepared text and its call for further development of Caritas on the parish level, Pope Francis said every Caritas organization, large or small, is equal.

And he asked people to pray for "the grace not to fall into the trap of thinking that a well-organized centralization is the path to follow, the grace to understand Caritas is always on the periphery in every local church, and the grace to know the central office is there for assistance, service and to promote communion—but it is not everyone's boss."

Caritas agencies assist the poor, promote development, advocate for justice and assist refugees around the world. Pope Francis asked them at the Mass to be especially mindful of "our Christian brothers and sisters who have been violently deprived of food for the body and for the soul: They have been driven from their homes and their churches, which at times have been destroyed. I renew my appeal not to forget these people and these intolerable injustices."

The Christian faith, he said, is a call "to wash the feet and bathe the wounds of the suffering and to prepare a table for them."

Belief in God and assisting others go hand in hand, he said. Faith is "to welcome God and express this in service to our brothers and sisters. Word, sacraments and service lead to and nourish each other."

"Whoever lives the mission of Caritas is not simply a charity worker," the pope said, "but is a true witness of Christ, one who seeks Christ and allows Christ to seek him, one who loves with the spirit of Christ, which is a spirit of gratuitousness and giving. All of our strategies and plans remain empty unless we carry this love in us."

Father Hyl, former pastor of Holy Spirit
| May 12, 2015


STAMFORD—Father Robert J. Hyl, 78, former pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in Stamford, died on May 10 in Stamford after a long illness.

Robert Hyl was born on February 21, 1937 in Byram.  He attended Greenwich High School and the University of Connecticut in Storrs.

Father Hyl studied philosophy and theology at Our Lady of Mercy Seminary, Lenox, MA and Our Lady of the Angels, Niagara University, N,Y. He was ordained by Bishop Walter W. Curtis on May 25, 1963, at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.

His first assignment as a parochial vicar was at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Bridgeport. He served at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown; St. Peter Parish in Bridgeport and Saint Paul Parish in Greenwich. In 1970 he was appointed diocesan director of the Family Life Bureau, with residence at Our Lady of Good Counsel rectory in Bridgeport. In addition, Father Hyl held the position of chaplain at the former Fairfield Hills Hospital in Newton, was chaplain for Scouts in the Danbury area and chaplain for the American Apostolate of the Holy House of Loreto. He also served as a member of the Priests’ Council

He pursued advanced studies during sabbaticals at the  American College at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, and at the Institute of Theology and Spirituality of the Franciscan Renewal Center at Santa Barbara, Calif.

He was appointed pastor of Notre Dame Parish in Easton in 1986 and served there until 1999. In that year he was named pastor of Holy Spirit. He led Holy Spirit until his retirement in 2013. Father Hyl retired to the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of Clergy Residence in 2013 due to declining health.

Father Hyl’s body will be received at Holy Spirit Church, Stamford on May 15 at 3 pm, where it will lie in state until the Vigil Mass at 7 pm. The celebrant and homilist for the Mass will be Msgr. Kevin Royal, the current pastor of Holy Spirit. The Mass for Christian Burial will be celebrated at Holy Spirit by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano on May 16, at 10 am. Burial will follow at St. Mary Cemetery in Greenwich.

Father Hyl is mourned by his brother, Kenneth Hyl of Brookfield, and sister, Patricia Moore of Sutton, Mass.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Mike’s Way!
| May 11, 2015


Notre Dame Convalescent home on West Rocks Road in Norwalk has been a fixture in the community since 1952. “It was founded before the Diocese of Bridgeport was formed,” Sister Marie-Lucie Monast says. “And it is the last ‘Catholic’ nursing home in the Diocese of Bridgeport,” she adds.

Camille Scavetta, SSTV-NDCH-Guild member,
with Sister Marie-Lucie Monast, SSTV.

Notre Dame remains Catholic because it is a non-profit agency owned and operated by the Sisters of St. Thomas of Villanova (SSTV), represented in the ever-present personages of Sister Monast and Sister Francoise Golder.

Both Sister Lucie (as she is known) and Sister Francoise have an aura of agelessness about them that can sometimes be found in Consecrated Religious women who live their faith and mission with love and intensity. At once, they appear child-like and filled with youthful energy and excitement, but upon reflection, one realizes that they are probably not as youthful as they appear.

Sister Lucie, one of thirteen children, is literally a bundle of energy and nearly non-stop activity in service of God and neighbor. Although the “Pearl of Great Price”—Notre Dame Convalescent Home—is truly Catholic, Sisters Monast and Golder are the only two SSTV religious in the facility, which is home to 60 residents.

For two “little” (in the sense of St. Therese, the Little Flower) Consecrated Religious women, Sisters Golder and Monast create an enormous sense of “presence” in the greater-Norwalk community and beyond.

In fact, when I met with her yesterday, Sr. Lucie needed to excuse herself for a moment. She pulled out her cell phone and said, “I need to call Paris.” Paris, France, that is, not Paris, Texas! An observer remarked that Sister Lucie seemed to only press one number on her phone to make the connection—speed dial! Paris is the location of the SSTV Mother House, and hailing form Quebec herself, Sister Lucie is a fluent French speaker. Sister Francoise—who has been in Norwalk for about 30 years—is herself from France, and speaks English with a soft and charming French accent.

Notre Dame is a small institution that strives to treat its residents with the utmost respect and dignity, and remarkably, is able to offer daily Mass for its residents and staff in its own chapel. I say remarkably, because it is difficult to find priests to cover daily Masses outside of parish communities these days (due to fewer priests being available), but Sisters Monast and Golder get the job done! Their daily Mass is also open to the public, Monday-Friday at 10:00 am. And they offer a weekly Sunday Mass too!

When it comes to managing a Catholic parish or institution, it is usually wise not to build the “edifice” on the personality of a current pastor or administrator, no matter how dynamic such a personality may be. In the case of Notre Dame, Sisters Golder and Monast have no choice but to be the face (and personality) of their institution, because reinforcements are not on the horizon (even though Sister Lucie is also SSTV-USA Vocation Director). If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Sister of St. Thomas of Villanova, please contact Sister Monast at 203.847.2883 or by email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

If you would like to become a Consecrated Religioius woman to help minister to the aged and infirm at Notre Dame, there is more than enough work to do, as evidenced by the lives of Sisters Golder and Monast.

For example, with their fundraiser at Jersey Mike’s set for Friday, May 8, Sister Monast had to make an emergency visit to Hartford for a consultation with the State of Connecticut Health Department. Whether it is preparing the chapel and residents for daily Mass or meeting with State officials, Sister Monast has to do the job. “We had a 15-minute break during the meeting in Hartford,” Sister Lucie told me, “so that gave me a chance to return your call.”

I had called her to ascertain the time of the fundraiser, which turned out to be 4:00 pm to 8:00. In addition to the many “hats” that the sisters wear out of necessity, chief fundraisers for SSTV USA and Notre Dame are among the most all-encompassing.

Sadly, for numerous reasons, Sisters Monast and Golder are nearly always engaged in fundraising. Most recently, they have embarked on a major capital improvement campaign for upgrading the physical plant at Notre Dame, a building which is nearly 65 years old. The sisters are proud that Notre Dame has recently introduced a new Intensive Stroke Rehabilitation Program, “And now we are raising funds to upgrade the dining facilties,” Sister Monast said.

Under the leadership of SSTV, Notre Dame Convalescent Home has been awarded 5 stars by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. For more information, its website is located at

Jersey Mike’s is a relatively new sandwich shop to Connecticut, but the franchise has 600 locations nationwide and is rapidly expanding. It is similar to Subway, but in my opinion, the quality of the food and its customer experience are a step above what one can expect at most Subway Restaurants. To understand the difference between Jersey Mike’s and a Subway, one really needs to give Jersey Mike’s a try. I did, and now I am hooked!

John Stefanidis, the Jersey Mike’s Area General Manager, offers a very generous promotion to local non-profit agencies and organizations. For a period of time (e.g. 4 hours) a Jersey Mike’s location will donate 20% of its gross sales to the non-profit group holding the fundraiser. The idea is to get lots of supporters to buy dinner at Jersey Mike’s during the fundraiser.

When I arrived at the Jersey Mike’s at 35 Danbury Road in Wilton at 4:00 pm, for the 4-8 fundraiser, the turnout was not overwhelming. The few customers who did come in during the time I was there were not aware that they had indirectly made a donation to the cause of the sisters, who were both present. Although unaware, customers were pleased to discover that they were supporting the sisters and Notre Dame.

Camille Scavetta was there to assist the sisters with the fundraiser, and had a pile of promotional info to distribute about Notre Dame. She is a member of the SSTV-NDCH-Guild, which has about 120 lay members dedicated to helping SSTV and NDCH in their mission. Camille is a parishioner of Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton, and was joined by her son Frank, a Physicians Assistant from Pennsylvania who was up visiting mom for the Mother’s Day weekend. Frank spent quite a bit of time trying to put together the order for the Scavetta clan, which included siblings, children and extended family. It was Frank’s first time there, so I had to show him the ropes about how to order and I told him what I liked best. He showed his appreciation for my assistance by buying me a an enormous ham, turkey and bacon sub. Thanks, Frank!

Jersey Mike’s has another location in Norwalk, on Connecticut Avenue, which was holding the fundraiser simultaneously. Despite the rush-hour traffic, and despite a round-trip drive to Hartford that day, Sister Lucie was off to the Connecticut Avenue location, to be present there too!

In total, the Jersey Mike’s fundraiser probably did not amount to much, but it was a first-time try for the sisters and they will probably try again with greater success next time.

John Stefanidis and Jersey Mike’s are to be commended for offering an easy and “delicious” way to raise funds for local charities and non-profit organizations.

In addition to planning and attending fundraisers directly, Sisters Monast and Golder also spread the Gospel and the good news about Notre Dame and SSTV. On Sunday morning, June 14, Sister Lucie will be the special guest speaker at St. Matthew’s Family Communion Breakfast, sponsored by St. Mathew’s Knights of Columbus Council 14360. Georg Ribellino, Grand Knight, and the other members of the council are huge supporters of SSTV and Notre Dame. They recently helped to renovate the SSTV convent chapel, and by inviting Sister Lucie to speak to their parish community, the Knights are helping to spread the news about the good works of SSTV and Notre Dame. More info about the breakfast can be obtained at

John Stefanidis gave me his business card, and when I prepared to write this blog, I glanced at the back of the card and it says, “One free regular sub.” Thanks John and thanks Jersey Mike’s. I think I’ll have it “Mike’s Way!”

There have been 300 visit(s) to this blog post.

5th General Session reveals shape of future change
| May 09, 2015


TRUMBULL—Bishop Frank Caggiano introduced dramatic new proposals including calls for a Catholic Service Corps, the creation of a Leadership Institute and the formation of a new diocesan council to empower laity at the 5th General Session of 2014 Synod today at St. Catherine of Siena Parish Center in Trumbull.

In the most dynamic and detailed General Session of the Synod to date, the Bishop and Synod leaders laid out specific plans and initiatives for reform and renewal in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

After nearly a year of identifying problems and challenges and exploring best practice models, Synod delegates got the first look at what might become the final recommendations in response to challenges in areas such as liturgy and worship, family life, evangelization, leadership and catechesis.

Many of the ideas and suggestions outlined during the day will be formally introduced and voted on in the May 30 General Session, which will formally bring to a close the first phase of the Synod.

Speaking to more than 300 delegates in the first major presentation of the morning session, the Bishop set the pace for a fast paced and intense day in which he outlined his plans for programs that empower youth, reach out to divorced and separated Catholics, recognize the cultural and ethnic diversity of the diocese, and support priests in spiritual and personal growth and formation.

Before recommending specific programs for the consideration of Synod delegates, the Bishop outlined six global initiatives to support all final recommendations produced by the synod: the creation of a permanent strategic planning commission to guide renewal and reform of the diocese; development of a comprehensive pastoral planning process for parishes and diocesan institutions; a Catholic Service Corps; a Diocesan Leadership Institute; a consultation with priests leading to a presbyteral assembly in the winter of 2016; and the formation of two new leadership councils, one for religious and a pastoral council for laity.

The Bishop’s presentation was followed by reports from Synod Study Group members on best practice models and solutions to the challenges identified in earlier sessions.

Fr. Thomas Thorne, Pastor of Assumption Parish in Westport, said that the Mass remains the center of Catholic life but that parishes must learn to become more welcoming and inviting.

“People shop around for parishes today,” he said, noting that some may even go to other denominations that are more welcoming.

Among the recommendations of the Liturgy Study group were the re-establishing of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission and the need to “reflect and celebrate ethnic and cultural differences in the worship life of the Church and all diocesan events.” Fr. Thorne said.

He said that while there are fewer “National Parishes” organized along ethnic lines as in the past, there is far more diversity within each parish including a growing number of people who speak English as a Second Language.

Al Barber, President and CEO of Catholic Charities delivered the report on Family Life, which recommended a unified mission statement for parishes, the renewal of Baptismal preparation, the creation of a diocesan website and social media campaign to support parents, and the development of a parish volunteer corps to reach out to elderly and needy parishioners.

“We are family,” Barber said noting that the challenge of the synod is to put faith and a personal relationship with Jesus at the center of family life.

In response to Barber’s presentation, the Bishop called the for development of a “diocesan pastoral outreach to the divorced and separated” and changes within the Tribunal to streamline responses for “those who are seeking a way back to sacramental life.”

Fr. Peter Towsley delivered the Evangelization study committee report, which identified best practices in reaching out to youth as well as outreach to Catholics who are no longer active in the Church. One of the major recommendations was for the development of Parish Evangelization Teams.

The Bishop said that the new Pastoral Planning Process will address evangelization needs, and that he did not anticipate a single diocesan wide initiative, but that each parish would have flexibility in developing its own program.

The Leadership committee reported on approaches to leadership training for priests, religious and laity within the diocese.

Fr. Ian Jeremiah, head of Clergy Personnel for the diocese, said that priest leadership programs will focus on creating formation and on opportunities for “healthy and holy living.”

Robert Rooney and Jamie Dance, members of the leadership committee, emphasized that programs should provide both spiritual and managerial training, mentoring, and spiritual direction that reflect the composition of existing parishes and encourage people to bring their talent to support parish life.

In the report on Catechesis and Education Andrea Woronick called for a complete overhaul of religious education programs in the diocese. Noting that parishes begin to lose some teens after Confirmation and that existing programs tend to isolate youth from the rest of the parish, she said that new programs should make youth “visible and integrated into every aspect of parish life, ministry, planning and decision making.”

Her study group also recommended more “communication, collaboration, and sharing” of best practices between parishes,” and alternatives to classroom models in faith formation.

In response to her presentation, Bishop Caggiano called for the creation of a Faith Formation taskforce to explore Religious Education models for parishes and a new approach to religious education.

In the final presentation of the session on Empowering Youth, Julie Rodgers, director of youth ministry for the diocese, said that the “breakdown of family and secularization of culture” means that young people are not receiving a “conversion experience in the context of family life.

Her committee recommended bringing parents back into the formation process and for a diocesan-wide effort to re-define youth groups and their relationship to parish life.

The 2014 Synod will conclude with a Mass of Thanksgiving and celebration to be held at the Arena at Harbor Yard on Saturday September 19 at 10 am. For more information visit the Synod 2014 website at

Msgr. Wallin Sentenced
| May 07, 2015


HARTFORD—Monsignor Kevin Wallin, 63, was sentenced to five years and five months in prison this morning for his involvement in a drug distribution ring.

The Federal Courthouse in Hartford was filled with more than 100 friends from all walks of life who turned out to show their support. The gathering also included many of his brother priests and deacons.

Msgr. Wallin was visibly moved by the presence of those who witnessed the sentencing. He publicly apologized for the hurt his actions caused others, said that he was deeply ashamed of his actions and hoped to use the rest of his life to make amends.

Msgr. Wallin has incarcerated since he pleaded guilty to drug charges in 2013.

Those who spoke on his behalf before Senior U.S. Distcit Judge Alfred V. Covello asked for leniency in the sentence because of Msgr. Wallin’s compassionate and tireless service as a pastor who reached out to many people in his ministry. He could have been sentenced to 10 years.

May 7,  2015
Diocese of Bridgeport

Statement on the sentencing of Msgr. Kevin Wallin

This is a fate we could not have imagined for such a talented, hard working and respected priest.

We ask for prayers for Msgr. Kevin Wallin and for all those who are imprisoned and who suffer from addiction. He has admitted to serious wrongdoing that has affected many lives, and he is working to make amends and rebuild his life.

We also pray that during this difficult time as Msgr. Kevin Wallin comes to terms with his actions, he will be blessed with some of the peace, consolation and healing that he generously brought to so many others during his ministry.

Monsignor Kevin W. Wallin

Monsignor Wallin, a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, was ordained to the priesthood in 1984 by Bishop Walter W. Curtis, S.T.D. His first assignment was as Parochial Vicar at St. Augustine‘s Cathedral in Bridgeport. In 1987, Bishop Curtis appointed him as Secretary to the Bishop. In 1988, Bishop Edward M. Egan, J.C.D reappointed him as Secretary to the Bishop after assuming the Office of Bishop of Bridgeport. In 1995, Bishop Egan named him Diocesan Director of the Ministry for Liturgy, and in February, 1996, as Executive Director of the Inner-City Foundation for Charity and Education. In June, 1996, Monsignor Wallin became pastor of Saint Peter Parish in Danbury Connecticut. In April, 2002, The Most Reverend William E. Lori, S.T.D. the Fourth Bishop of Bridgeport, appointed Monsignor Wallin pastor of the Cathedral Parish of Saint Augustine.

Monsignor Wallin served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut since 1993; he was a member of the Pope John Paul II Center for Health Care in Danbury; a member from April 1997 to April 2002 of the Cultural Commission of the City of Danbury; since 1992 he has served a State Chaplain to the Connecticut State Council of Columbiettes; from 1998 to 2002, he served as the State Chaplain to the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; since 1996, he has served as the Chaplain of the Order of Malta, Connecticut and a Magistral Chaplain of the Order; since 2003 he has served on the Board of Directors of the Bridgeport Catholic Elementary School System, and as its president from January 2003 to June 2004. In the spring of 2003, he was elected to a three-year term as Territorial Vicar for his vacariate. The Most Rev. William E. Lori, Fourth Bishop of Bridgeport, asked for and accepted Msgr. Wallin’s resignation as Pastor of St. Augustine Parish in June 2011, and removed his priestly faculties in October of that year. 

Bishop Caggiano reflects on National Day of Prayer
| May 07, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—“Many years ago, when I was a catechist preparing seventh graders for Confirmation, one of my students asked me a very serious question that I have not forgotten since.

He asked, “If God knows everything, why do we need to ask Him for anything in our prayers? Since we can’t tell God anything that He does not already know, why bother to ask at all?”

I honestly do not remember what answer I gave the student but his question stayed with me for many years. However, a few months after my ordination to the priesthood, I recall praying the Fourth Eucharistic Preface in Ordinary Time and was struck that it answered his question! The Preface said: “You (God) have no need of our prayers for our desire to thank You is itself Your gift. Our prayers add nothing to Your greatness but help us to grow in grace through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The point is simple: when we ask the Lord for anything in our prayers, we are not telling Him something that He does not already know. However, our prayer is meant to help us to accept the gifts that God wishes to give us in answer to our needs. In other words, when we pray, God wishes to give us what we ‘need’, not necessarily what we ‘want’, because what we need will help us to grow in grace and peace in this life and help prepare us to receive everlasting life. The point of our prayer is to help us to open our hearts to accept what God wishes to give us in answer to our prayers—to accept what we need from Him, even if it is not what we want.
On this National Prayer Day, we need to ask ourselves a basic question: What is it that we are looking for from the Lord in our prayer? For if we are not looking to accept what God generously wishes to give us because of His great love for us, then we need to re-examine what we are asking for.”

Delegates get back to work this weekend
| May 06, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Best practices and other initiatives to create strong and vibrant ministries in the diocese will be on the agenda for the 5th General Session of the 2014 Synod at St. Catherine of Siena Parish Center in Trumbull.

More than 300 delegates are expected to convene to review possible solutions formulated by the Synod Study Committees to the challenges defined by the synod to renew the local Church and plan for the future.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will address the delegates during both the morning and afternoon sessions. His morning reflection on “Genesis” will reflect on ways of creating new initiatives and moving forward. During the afternoon session he will discuss Global Initiatives, Next Steps and Preparation for Synod Recommendations.”

Deacon John DiTaranto, special assistant to the Bishop, will conduct a session on “Overcoming Resistance to Change” including suggestions on ways parishes can move forward to implement Synod recommendations.

“We are looking forward to hearing from each of the five study committees as we begin to move toward addressing the challenges and developing the language of the Synod recommendations,” says Patrick Turner, Deputy Synod Director.

All of the new initiatives and planning for the future of the diocese will be framed within the five final challenges affirmed when Synod delegates voted earlier this year

•    Liturgy and Worship: Every Catholic is called to FULL, CONSCIOUS, AND ACTIVE PARTICIPATION in the worship life of the Church.
•    Family Life: There is a need to strengthen and support family life, to empower youth and to assist parents as the primary teachers of the Catholic Faith.
•    Evangelization: We must create concrete plans for evangelization through our parishes, schools, ecclesial movements, and communities.
•    Leadership: There is a need to continually call, form, and support clergy, religious, and laity in active leadership roles in the life of the Church.
•    Catechesis and Education: We must renew the ministry of faith formation throughout our Diocese, leading each person to a deepening relationship with the Lord Jesus in and through His Church.

Turner said there will not be any formal voting on recommendations during this session.  All voting on the recommendations will take place on the final May 30 session.

When the general delegates last convened on March 21, Bishop Caggiano called for a commitment to “substantial and lasting change” as he outlined guiding principles for implementing Synod recommendations in parishes and ministries.

The Bishop said the 2014 Synod was an invitation to “create roadmaps to vital and vibrant communities,” and that he will ask all parishes as well as diocesan programs to set measurable benchmarks for change. Noting that there is inherent tension as the Church seeks to preserve what it does best, while also undergoing change, the bishop called for a spirit of collaboration that does not simply mean compromising on individual goals, but “allowing Christ to take the lead.”

Saturday’s session will begin at 7:15 am Mass celebrated by Fr. Joseph Marcello, Pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Church. It will be followed by breakfast and 8:20 am    

The 2014 Synod will conclude with a Mass of Thanksgiving and celebration to be held at the Arena at Harbor Yard on Saturday September 19 at 10 am. For more information visit the Synod 2014 website at

Click to read the Summary of Bishop Frank’s Seven Principles for Implementation of Synod Recommendations

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
More Deck Garden News!
| May 05, 2015


For some reason, my deck garden blogs have proven popular, so now that the weather is nicer, I think I will continue the “series.”

This past winter was not kind to two of my lemon trees (they have passed), and during the cold weather, I kept telling myself that I was not going to have a deck garden this summer. I even planned to get rid of the barrel-like planter that I use to grow grass for my cats (and birds).

My plans for not having a deck garden this summer changed when I stopped by Wal-Mart a few days ago. Near the front entrance, they had all kinds of plants in little biodegradable planters. A strawberry plant (already flowering) and a green pepper plant caught my eye. For $2.60 each, how can you go wrong? Each is now planted (and growing, I hope) in its own planter. As time goes on, each may have to share space with some melons I plan to grow, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

Fortunately, I had a few hours the other day to get my deck garden in shape. The deck and the railings needed a good cleaning, and I tried to create a new drainage system for my barrel-planter (but my efforts did not work! Had to resort to the “old” system). Now I have my deck and planters looking pretty good. Grass is already planted in my barrel-planter but it has not yet sprouted.

It turns out that my parakeets, like my cats, love fresh grass too. When I clip some fresh blades and leave it in a pile for them at the bottom of their cage, they consume it all in short order. One of my cats in particular—Katie—loves to lie in the grass in the barrel planter. She stays out there for hours in nice weather, watching the neighborhood birds coming and going. On my to-do list is setting up my hummingbird feeder!

Like my birds, my cats also like to eat the fresh grass. I think it is good for their digestion system. First thing in the morning—when the grass has grown—they go out on the deck and nibble on the fresh sprigs, still wet with dew. Because they eat it and lie in it, I keep it organic (I don’t use any fertilizer or treatments on it, other than what is already in the planting soil).

Now I have one lemon tree left (but still no lemons!), even though I asked a neighbor if she wanted the tree, because she gets more winter sun on her side of the building. She was not interested. If I do not get any lemons this summer, I may ask a nearby nursery if they want the tree. In the poor winter sunlight with the possibility of mite infestations, my lemon trees have not faired well inside during the cold weather. Perhaps a winter in a greenhouse could bring lemons. Anyone want a lemon tree? Needs a good home.

From being dispirited about the coming growing season, I am quite motivated now to give my deck garden the attention it needs.

At Mass this past weekend in Greenwich, I mentioned that I had already planted some strawberries and peppers. After Mass, I was surprised that two separate “seasoned citizens” gently scolded me for having planted my garden already. One woman in her 80s said, “My father never planted anything before May 15!” Another woman said, “Don’t you think it is a little early to put your plants out, Father?”

The way I see it, I just took in my ice-scraper from my car, and it is May, after all. I think I will risk the possibility of a freeze, and will likely have lots of strawberries long before all of those other more-cautious Connecticut Yankee farmers!

There have been 300 visit(s) to this blog post.

Three classmates grew up to be priests for the Diocese of Bridgeport
| May 04, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Can you guess who they are from their 8th Grade Class pictures? To find out who they are click below for the story.

Look for this story in the next print issue of Fairfield County Catholic.

Father Skip Karcsinski, Msgr. Andy Varga and Msgr. Kevin Royal were all members of Stratford's Holy Name Of Jesus School Cass of 1966. In its May "Vocation" issue (due in homes May 16), the Fairfield County Catholic will feature an article on these three priests, exploring the path their vocations have taken and how they are living their priesthood today.

An Abiding sense of peace at Lourdes
| May 04, 2015


LOURDES—There is an abiding sense of peace here in Lourdes that is very hard to describe.

Even though there were over 20,000 in attendance at Mass yesterday morning, the entire celebration was deeply reverent and prayerful.

In fact, there was a joyful spirit that is often absent when so many people are gathered together, trying to settle into the same space.

It was truly moving for me to see the profound faith reflected in the eyes and faces of those who attended Mass in the Pius X Basilica. Then I realized that we had all gathered as Mary’s children, to honor her Son and our Lord. Our Blessed Mother called each of us to the table of Her Son and we were all grateful to be there sharing this special moment with her. She was the reason for our joy!

I continue to remember all of your prayers and intentions here at Lourdes. Blessed Mother, hear our prayers!

Posted on May 4, 2015

LOURDES—This morning I had the privilege to concelebrate Mass with eight other bishops, over 30 priests and all the pilgrims and malades from the Order of Malta throughout the United States in the very grotto where Our Lady first appeared to Saint Bernadette.

As I reflected upon the entire experience, I was filled with many different feelings. The grotto is a place of tremendous peace, even though there is activity going on everywhere around it. It is also a place that filled me with a beautiful sense of awe and wonder in the maternal love and care that Our Lady has for each of us. It is a place where prayer can come easily for anyone who is not afraid to surrender to what is being asked of those who visit-to trust that Our Lady, as our spiritual mother, will take care of us in every way that we need.

I plan to go back to the grotto early tomorrow morning, when the crowds are not there, to spend time in quiet with Our Blessed Mother. I feel she is calling me to come, to sit silently and to learn.

Posted on May 2, 2015

LOURDES—Last night I had the privilege to concelebrate Mass with Cardinal Dolan as the pilgrimage in Lourdes began in earnest. Pilgrims from all over the United States- Knights and Dames of Malta, maladies and their caregivers, priests and bishops- gathered to give thanks to the Lord for the privilege to be in this holy place where Our Blessed Mother appeared to Saint Bernadette. My heart was moved with great joy to see the faith of everyone who gathered in prayer, especially those who are sick and have come to ask for healing in body and spirit.

It was once said to me that the Lord Jesus is never closer to each of us than in the time of our sufferings. For when we suffer, the Lord never fails to give us whatever we need, especially His love and mercy, to remain faithful to Him and never to lose hope.

Last night I saw how close the Lord Jesus is to everyone who has come here in prayer to Lourdes.

Posted on May 1, 2015

Bishop asks for Prayer Intention as he travels to Lourdes
| April 29, 2015


LOURDES—This evening I will be traveling with the Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta to the Shrine of Our Lady at Lourdes in France.

I will be joining nearly 400 people on this special six day pilgrimage, including over 50 people who are seriously ill and are traveling to Lourdes to seek spiritual and perhaps even physical healing.

This will be my very first visit to Lourdes and I look forward to spending time in reflection with my fellow pilgrims and in prayer with Our Blessed Mother.

I would like to bring whatever intentions you have with me to Our Lady of Lourdes, especially for friends and loved ones who are sick and struggling. Feel free to send them in or simply to offer them up in the quiet of your own prayers, spiritually joining them to the prayers of all the pilgrims who will be making this special trip. I will pray for your intentions during the celebration of Mass each day.

May Our Blessed Lady be our hope, advocate and guide!

To send Bishop Frank a message go to: or

Click to see photos of Bishop Caggiano and 400 area Catholics who are in Lourdes this weekend


Further Reflection on Lourdes

In one of his most famous homilies, Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen described the Blessed Virgin Mary as the moon in the evening sky. For the moon does not generate light itself, but only reflects the light of the sun, which for the time being is not visible. The moon's light is bright because the sky is at its darkest.

I often reflect on this image of our Lady, especially as I prepare to travel to Lourdes. In this time of so much challenge and difficulty and where the events around us seem to be so dark, I believe our Lady can help us to find the way to renewal and to her son, as she always has in past ages.

So as I leave for Lourdes, I will bring all of your prayers and intentions with me. I ask that you pray that this trip will allow me, those who come with me, and all of God's people to look up in the sky when it is darkest, see the moon, and know that the sun is not far away.

Serra Club encourages vocations
| April 29, 2015


FAIRFIELD—The Serra Club, an international organization dedicated to promoting and nurturing vocations to the priesthood and religious life, has a new chapter.

(Photo by John Grosso)

On April 28 in the Mary Mother of God Chapel at St. Pius X Parish, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano formally chartered the Serra Club of Bridgeport in a Mass and reception.

“I am ecstatic that you are here,” said Bishop Caggiano in his homily. “To create the Serra Club here in our diocese will go a long way in helping our young people hear the voice of the Shepherd.”

Serra International, founded in 1935 in Seattle, Wash., has chartered 1,170 Clubs in 46 countries across six continents. Inspired by their patron, soon to be canonized Blessed Junipero Serra, the club’s objectives are to foster, encourage and promote vocations. Serra Club members are also called to dedicate time each day in prayer, specifically for vocations.

“Our first and greatest responsibility is to pray for vocations, and to pray that young people hear the call,” said Bishop Caggiano. Even that though, is not enough, he added: “Once young people have heard the call, to sustain it is absolutely essential.”

Sustaining that call to vocations will be one of the primary functions of the new chapter, as members will help to keep the fire of the Holy Spirit burning in all those who say, “yes” to God. In his homily, Bishop Caggiano charged the new officers and trustees of Serra to keep that fire burning through prayer and conversation.
Led by President Jeff Miller and Chaplain Father Sam Kachuba, the new chapter will go a long way towards providing all those in our diocese with the resources needed to discern their vocation, whatever they may be. The club will provide a welcoming environment where those considering the priesthood or religious life in the Diocese of Bridgeport can have the support that they need.

In his closing remarks, Bishop Caggiano agreed: “In the end, we only want what the will of God is for each of us, including our young people.”

Fairfield County economic and social trends challenge the Church
| April 29, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Social issues from growing inequality to  the rising number of foreign born residents have important implications for the Church and other service institutions rooted in the area, said Chris Bruhl, CEO of the Fairfield County Business Council.

Speaking at the invitation of Bishop Frank J. Caggiano to diocesan leadership at the Catholic Center, Bruhl said the growing gap between rich and poor, and between new arrivals to the state and those who have been here for generations presents unique challenges and opportunities to the business, government and churches.

He noted that the foreign born share of Connecticut’s population has continued to grow from 8.5 percent in 1990 to over 13 percent today. However, Fairfield County is more even more diverse than the rest of the state with 20 percent of its population foreign born.

“The same thing is happening in the Church, where it has Brazilian, Asian, Latino and other Catholics from all over the globe in its parishes. We all have come here from somewhere else. The challenge is to make them into one community,” he said.

Bruhl said that Churches and non-profits will experience greater demand for services and will need to develop new donor bases. He said corporate giving is now only a fraction of what many hedge funds in Fairfield County are donating to charitable causes.  

He also noted that in the future women will serve in leadership roles across every aspect of life in Fairfield County and that will have implications for their participation in the Church. As a group they are now better educated than men and more likely to be employed in the county.

In welcoming Bruhl to the Catholic Center, Bishop Caggiano mentioned that the Catholic Church is one of the few “country-wide organizations” that reaches out to many people through worship as well as social service.   

The bishop added that the demographic projections and trends identified by the Business Council have been useful to him in formulating challenges for the Synod as it works to make plans for the future of the Church in Fairfield County.

In his presentation, Bruhl pointed out that Fairfield County is “the least equitable area in the U.S. as measured by wealth and educational attainment,” and that the county has the resources to move ahead but must adapt to change and do a better job of integrating young people and newcomers into its economy.

Bruhl began his talk by noting that Fairfield County is “at the intersection of New England and New York” and that the area is much more closely related to New York than Hartford in its economy, airports, media and other key infrastructure.

He said that one of the barriers to progress may be found in Connecticut’s DNA as a colony with a strong sense of home rule and religious freedom that often led to people pulling up stakes and moving to the next town, rather than forming a regional government to solve problems. “They didn’t stay and work it out. They left and started over.”

He said that immigration has always been important to Connecticut prosperity and that if the state is to move forward again, long-term residents and new arrivals must begin speaking to one another, whether in Churches or other community settings.

Bruhl said that for him challenges show “that we are all in this together,” and that policies need to better integrate all of concerns faced by Connecticut residents.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
The Gift of Tears
| April 28, 2015


Just like April showers, the gloomy clouds of writer’s block have been hanging over me for the past week or so. There is pressure, you know, to come up with a unique blog entry each week!

Yesterday, I thought I had an idea to run with, but my editors put the kibosh on it. Sometimes I can be like a pit-bull in a China shop, so they calmly took me outside and chained me to a tree until I calmed down. Good boy!

Then, this morning, an idea struck me as I was preparing to do my morning prayer. Today—April 28—is the feast day of St. Louis de Montfort, a great French saint who is best known for promoting devotion to the Rosary. Why not write about the Rosary?

When I was in seminary, I made a pilgrimage by myself to Europe, and in a chapel at the rear of St. Sulpice Church in Paris, I was struck powerfully with the gift of tears. I was peering at a beautiful Marian stained-glass window—with hues of gold and blue in the streaming sunlight—and the scene struck me as unbelievably beautiful. For some reason, I started bawling my eyes out. I was really sobbing for a good five minutes or so, and then I began to collect myself.

After I stopped crying, I moved closer to the window to look at a plaque beneath it. And even with my rudimentary knowledge of the French language, I was able to decipher what the sign said: In this chapel, in 1700, St. Louis de Montfort celebrated his first Mass.

I was stunned. Here I was, in the small chapel were St. Louis de Montfort celebrated his first Mass, and the stained glass window above the chapel which moved me so much was probably there in 1700, when he celebrated his first Mass.

It was a mystical moment for me. I received the gift of tears at the place of a great saint’s first Mass; a saint who was especially devoted to and promoted devotion to Our Blessed Mother. It was a Marian moment. It was a Rosary moment.

Bishop Caggiano is heading off on a week-long pilgrimage to Lourdes tomorrow, so Mary, Lourdes, and the Rosary have been on my mind for a few days (since I first learned that he was going to Lourdes with 400 other pilgrims associated with the Knights and Dames of Malta. They are flying directly to Lourdes International Airport from New York).

It is one of the great blessings of my life that I have been able to visit Lourdes several times, on my own a few times and with groups of pilgrims on other occasions. It is in Lourdes that I first prayed the Rosary, at the age of 24. Six years later, I entered seminary.

People who know me are likely amazed that I never prayed the Rosary—or owned my own set of Rosary beads—until I was 24. There are many reasons why I never learned to pray the Rosary before 24, but I will not go into them here.

As a seminarian, I made a pilgrimage to Lourdes on my own and ended up being “adopted” by a group of pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Armagh, Ireland. Armagh was also the seat of St. Patrick, first Bishop of Ireland. Apparently, the Armagh pilgrimage was an annual event, and they flew from Belfast to Lourdes, usually with their cardinal. His name was Cardinal Daly, the only cardinal in Ireland at the time, and I soon learned that he was a gifted preacher.

On the day that they were flying back to Ireland, I joined them for their parting Mass, which was held in a modern Church—filled with glass panels—just across the river from the grotto. During Mass, the grotto was in full view, and Cardinal Daly made full use of its beauty during his homily. He said (paraphrasing), that “today we will be leaving the grotto, but we can take it with us in our hearts. In fact, we can make our hearts unto a grotto…”

The gift of tears hit me again, and I am not one given to easily crying. In fact, there are many times when I wish I could cry, but I can’t muster the tears. This fit of crying—during Mass at Lourdes—was probably the worst fit of crying I have experienced as an adult.

Of course, I was trying to be cool. Even though I was blubbering, I kept bending down—sort of in a fetal position—thinking that no one would really notice that I was crying.

After the cardinal gave his final blessing, and processed out, I gathered my things and was preparing to leave when a man in the row behind me tapped me on the shoulder and handed me an Archdiocese of Armagh pin. With his Northern Irish brogue, he said with wonder, “Say one for me.”

Apparently, he had witnessed the entire episode. My efforts to conceal that I had received the gift of tears in ridiculous abundance was not lost on him. He did not know me, nor did he know that I was studying to be a priest. My uncontrollable crying during Mass—especially during the homily about the grotto—was proof enough for him that I had a spiritual life.

We did not converse, because they were all heading directly to the airport. I think I simply thanked him, embarrassed that I had been found out.

For this blog, I took a photo of the pin that he gave me. Indeed, I have prayed for that man many times since, and I will continue to pray for him.

Lourdes. The Rosary. And the gift of tears.

Pray the Rosary!

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Imagination is God’s gift to the dreamer
| April 28, 2015


FAIRFIELD—Each year St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School hosts an annual Art Show.

Our talented Art Teacher, Ms. Bonnie Bello, organizes a school-wide Art Show. You can imagine that this is no small undertaking. During an art class Ms. Bello introduces an artist and his or her unique technique and style.

Each grade is given a topic and a particular style that students are then to use in creating some form of art that reflects their own interpretation of that style. Each student has their own artistic ability and they are all applauded for their natural talent. As you walk through the Art Show you can feel the pride and excitement from the students. The experience is really something special. In past years, winners were selected on various merits, but this year Ms. Bello wanted to give all her students the feeling of success and pride. “Art is up to interpretation and so who am I to pick one student over another? All my students are amazing and wonderful artist they all are winners!”

Francis: Priests should never refuse baptism to one who asks
| April 27, 2015 • by Joshua J. McElwee


ROME—In words that may be interpreted to rebut Catholic priests who refuse to baptize children of same-sex couples, Pope Francis has said that priests should not refuse baptism to anyone who asks for the sacrament.

Speaking in a homily Sunday for the ordination of 19 new priests for the diocese of Rome, Francis told the new ministers: "With baptism, you unite the new faithful to the People of God. It is never necessary to refuse baptism to someone who asks for it!"

The pontiff also in the homily personally pleaded that all priests be merciful when hearing confessions.

"With the sacrament of penance you forgive sins in the name of Christ and of the church," the pope told the new priests. "And I, in name of Jesus Christ, the Lord, and of his spouse, the Holy Church, ask you to not tire of being merciful."

"In the confessional, you will be there to forgive, not to condemn!" Francis exhorted. "Imitate the father that never tires of forgiving."

The pope was speaking Sunday during the ordination Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. Later in the day, Francis again called on priests and bishops around the world to think only of tending to Catholics in their care and to have no other ambitions or interests.

During remarks before the weekly noontime Sunday prayer in St. Peter's Square, the pope said those given leadership in the church are not called to be managers but servants that imitate a Jesus who deprived himself of everything and "saved us with his mercy."

Francis tied together his message by meditating on the role of Jesus as the "Good Pastor," which Catholics around the world celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Easter.

"The bad pastor thinks of himself and takes advantage of the sheep," the pope said, giving definition to what a priest does. "The good pastor thinks of the sheep and gives of himself."

Continuing, the pontiff said: "Unlike the corrupt, Christ the pastor is a thoughtful guide that participates in the life of his flock, not searching for other interests, not having other ambitions than those of guiding, feeding, protecting his sheep."

"And all this to the highest price, that of the sacrifice of life," said Francis.

Two of the new priests Francis ordained Sunday morning joined him at the window of the apostolic palace for the noontime Regina Coeli prayer, blessing the crowd with the pontiff.

Reflecting later during the prayer on the love of God, Francis that God's love is the "highest and purest" because "it is not motivated from any necessity, it is not conditioned from any calculus, it is not attracted by any desire of exchange."

But contemplating and giving thanks for that love, the pope said, is not enough.

"You need also to follow the Good Pastor," he continued. "In particular, those who have the mission of guiding in the church -- priests, bishops, popes -- are called to assume not the mentality of the manager, but that of the servant in imitation of Jesus who depriving himself has saved us with his mercy."

Later in the noontime prayer, Francis expressed his closeness to the people in Nepal who suffered a massive earthquake Saturday and then several substantial aftershocks Sunday.  

At least 2,200 have been reported dead from the tremors in the Asian country.

"I wish to assure my closeness to the peoples stricken from a strong earthquake in Nepal and the bordering countries," the pope said. "I pray for the victims, the wounded, and all those that suffer from this calamity."

The pope expressed hope that the victims "have the support of fraternal solidarity" before leading people in the Square in recitation of the Hail Mary for all those affected.

Bridgeport mural dedicated to Pope John Paul II
| April 27, 2015 • by By Bill Cummings of the CT Post


BRIDGEPORT—After naming a street corner after Pope John Paul II, the city's Polish community wanted to do a little more to celebrate their favorite saint.

Polish Consul General Urszula Gacek addresses the crowd during the unveiling
of a mural of former Polish pope and now Saint John Paul II at the corner of Kossuth
and Pulaski Streets in Bridgeport, Conn. on Sunday, April 26, 2015. The corner has
been named St. John Paul II Corner. (Photo by Brian A. Pounds)

They did just that Sunday when church members and others dedicated a mural of the late pontiff on the wall of a towing company in a section of the city in need of a little sprucing up.

“We wanted to show off our saint,” said Tomek Moczerniuk, a member of the St. Michael The Archangel parish, who helped organize the effort to create the mural.

The painting takes up one wall and a side of the large building at the corner of Pulaski and Kossuth streets, an area previously renamed as John Paul II Corner.

The artwork shows a white haired pontiff holding a staff with mountains behind him. Pope John Paul II, who served as pontiff for 25 years after being elected in 1978, is a Polish native credited with, as pope, helping his homeland split from the former Soviet Union.

Polish community and church members on Sunday led a prossession from their church at 310 Pulaski Ave. to the corner, where they held a ceremony to unveil the mural.

Among those attending were Mayor Bill Finch and Urszula Gacek, Poland's consul general based in New York City.

Moczerniuk said community members raised $8,000 to create the mural, adding it took the artist four months to complete the massive work.

“We wanted to do more,” Moczerniuk said, referring to naming the corner in honor of the pontiff.

“There was this huge wall just begging to do something with it. It is owned by a towing company. We asked if we can clean it up a little with a picture of our saint,” Moczerniuk said.

“He was a hero to me,” Moczerniuk said, referring to Pope John Paul II. “He was the first non-Italian pope in 400 years.”

(Article from CT Post)

A taste of Alpha!
| April 24, 2015


DANBURY—What is Alpha? Find out April 25, at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Danbury.  Alpha is a direct response to the New Evangelization and our call to be "Missionary Disciples."

Saturday will be broken into 2 parts: the morning session (8 am-12 pm) will offer a "Taste of Alpha" where participants will enjoy a sample session and learn how this programs works to celebrate the joy of shared faith.  
The second session runs from 12:30 to 4:00 and offers more in-depth training on how to get started.
Alpha is for anyone! Life long active Catholics who want a fresh, personal encounter with Christ. Non-practicing Catholics who think faith has no relevance for them. People of other faiths who want to understand the Christian faith. Non-believers who want to explore their spirituality.
The Alpha presentation is being offered in coordination with 2014 Synod of the Diocese of Bridgeport, which is working to make the Church and our parishes more welcoming and faith filled.

People of faith should live with Joy!
| April 24, 2015 • by By Karen Kovacs Dydzuhn


NORWALK—In the keynote talk of last week’s diocesan workshop, “Pope Francis and the Promise of the Family,” noted writer and speaker Dr. Scott Hahn encouraged people to share their joy about being a Catholic with family members, friends and co-workers.

More than 170 men and women turned out the day-long seminar on marriage and faith held at All Saints School in Norwalk. The workshop inspired the men and women to persevere as they face the challenges of married life and parenting in the 21st century.
“When we bring Christ to others, we share our joy with them,” Dr.  Hahn explained. “Why is this the key to new evangelization? Because it is the single most important thing that we can all do as Catholics. Enjoy being Catholic. Joy is what all of us want. Joy is what other people will find infectious in us.”
Dr. Hahn urged families to gather together “to play, to enjoy life, to be transparent.”
Throughout the workshop, Angela Montero, director of Marriage and Family Life and director of Religious Education for the diocese, heard words of gratitude of the participants.
“I am thrilled to have been able to offer a day of inspiration and guidance for marriage and families,” Angela said. “Both are under attack in the world today, and days like this bring hope and fortitude to live our vocations as married couples, parents, and grandparents.
She felt that the couples benefitted from hearing from the husband and wife team of Scott and Kimberly Hahn along with Dr. Allen Hunt.
“One of my favorite quotes that day was from Dr. Hahn, speaking about the permanence of marriage, ‘Not as long as you both shall love, but as long as you both shall live.’ HIs wife Kimberly reminded us to always be aware that "I am a witness to the next person I meet," she said.

To view the slideshow, click this link
A full report will appear in the May issue of Fairfield County Catholic.

World Youth Day 2016
| April 24, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano is calling all youth to World Youth Day in 2016. Lets take a Diocesan pilgrimage to World Youth Day Krakow in July 2016 with Bishop Caggiano to see Pope Francis. 

We already have a prime location with accommodations in Krakow reserved! Our very own youth hostel for the Diocese of Bridgeport for 300 persons!

Questions? Contact Julie Rodgers at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 203.416.1449.

“Peace be with you”
| April 23, 2015 • by By Tony Magliano


Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano
“On the evening of that first day of the week,” according to the Gospel of John, “when the doors were locked, where the disciples were … Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’”

To his closest followers, who feared that they too would suffer crucifixion, Jesus stood in their midst on Easter Sunday, and shared with them his peace.   
But the peace Jesus offered them, and us, is greatly different from the “peace” offered by the world.

The secular world’s view of peace is often referred to as “peace through strength”—meaning military strength. Its proponents claim that when their nation is overwhelmingly militarily powerful, potential opponents are too afraid to confront its military might.  

The classic example of this view was the Pax Romana or so called Roman Peace which lasted approximately 200 years—including the time of Christ. During that period there was little warfare taking place within the Roman empire—largely because of Rome’s military iron-grip on its conquered territories.
But Jesus came to liberate us with his peace—the only true and lasting peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27).
The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. But shalom conveys much more than an end to armed hostilities. Shalom means wholeness, health, welfare and safety. This fuller meaning of peace, this shalom, is also a roadmap to ending war and other forms of violence.
If we work to help everyone achieve the basic needs of health, welfare and safety the likelihood of engaging in armed conflicts and other forms of violence greatly decreases.

As Blessed Pope Paul VI famously put it, “If you want peace, work for justice.” That was the title of his January 1, 1972 Day of Peace message. And in that message he explained that peace is rooted in a sincere feeling for humanity. “A peace that is not the result of true respect for man is not true peace. And what do we call this sincere feeling for man? We call it justice.”

And the virtue of justice calls out to each person, and every nation, to work so as to ensure that every human being has adequate access to the spiritual, economic, political, educational, medical and cultural benefits due to daughters and sons of a gracious God.

Blessed Paul linked his Day of Peace message on justice to the Synod of Bishops’ 1971 document “Justice in the World.”

In that prophetic document of Catholic social teaching, a cross-section of the world’s Catholic bishops proclaimed: “Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the Church’s mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation.”

This powerful teaching makes clear the church has the right and duty on behalf of the poor and vulnerable, to actively engage in the political, economic and cultural arenas of society.

Genuine peace is the work of justice. But we cannot possibly accomplish it relying solely on our own efforts. We need to invite the wisdom and power of the risen Jesus—the source of peace—to fill our lives and direct our actions.  

“Peace be with you.”

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.

Working with God
| April 23, 2015


NORWALK—On Wednesday evening, April 22, the chapel of the Convent of the Sisters of St. Thomas of Villanova on West Rocks Road in Norwalk was re-dedicated at a special Mass.

Sister Lucie Monast (l) and Sister Francoise Golder, Sisters
of St. Thomas of Villanova, in the renovated chapel before Mass.

Keira Gilchrist, 7, helps hand out programs before Mass begins.

Sr. Lucie leads the congregation in the responsorial psalm,
“Your words, O Lord, are spirit and life.”

In his homily, Father Justin Raj, IMS, said, “This chapel
reminds us of God’s presence.”

After Communion, Ryan Gilchrist, 10, played a rendition
of “Amazing Grace” on his violin.

After Mass, the Knights of Columbus Council #14360 from
St. Matthew Parish in Norwalk, pose with Srs. Lucie and
Francoise. Under the leadership of Grand Knight George Ribellino,
the K of C council completed the renovation project.

In addition to renovating the chapel, the Knights presented
Srs. Lucie and Francoise with a new chalice for the chapel,
used for the first time during the re-dedication Mass.

Fifty people attended the 7:00 pm liturgy. Rev. Justin Raj, IMS, was the celebrant and homilist. After the Mass, all were invited to a reception meal catered by Stew Leonard’s.

‘Songs from the Spirit’ debuts at St. Maurice
| April 23, 2015 • by By Pat Hennessy


WESTON—Guitar in hand, Vince DeFelice stood by the altar at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Weston.

It was eight years ago, and during this teen Mass for the parish he was singing a hymn to Mother Mary he had composed for the youth group.

“The Holy Spirit invited himself into my heart,” he recalls, still shaken by the experience. “It changed my life.”

The fruit of that life change will sound loud and filled with faith when DeFelice and his band come to St. Maurice Parish in Stamford on May 17. Following a special Mass at 5 pm, FireSword Ministries and the Vince DeFelice Band will present “Songs From the Spirit,” a contemporary Christian Rock Concert.

Before he put FireSword Ministries on the road, DeFelice and Denise Doty, his sister and business manager, met with Bishop Frank J. Caggiano to gain his support. “The bishop told us that the doors are going to open for us,” he says of the meeting.

The distance from that Mass at St. Francis to the concert at St. Maurice describes a journey of faith. “I dove into the Bible,” says DeFelice. “I was hungry to know more about my faith. While I was learning and praying, the music started flowing out of me. It wasn’t me, really—it’s the Holy Spirit.”

Eight years ago, when Msgr. Nicholas Grieco, then pastor of St. Francis, tapped DeFelice to help with music for parish youth group, he was already a singer, songwriter and leader of the Vince DeFelice band. DeFelice had been in music his whole life, starting by performing live on the Sacred Heart University radio station, at the University of Bridgeport, and in local coffee houses. Over the years he moved from electric to acoustic guitar and from blues to classic rock. He had been a professional musician for over 25 years at that moment on the altar of St. Francis when he felt the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  

Now parishioner at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull, he formed FireSword Ministries to bring contemporary music based on Scripture and the Catholic faith to parishes throughout the diocese. “I’m looking forward to helping people understand the power of our faith,” he says of his music ministry. “Music lifts people up. It’s touching hearts and touching minds.”

His Christian Rock music is written to appeal to all ages. “If you write music for the youth, their parents might come too,” he observes. “If you include everybody, they all come—these are notes and chords that all people can sing. It’s a way to make people excited to come to Mass.”

The seven-piece DeFelice band will enliven the special Mass at St. Maurice. The following concert, held in the church parking lot, will take on the atmosphere of a parish “tailgate party” with food, fun, light show and uplifting music. The concert will also debut the release of the new “Songs From the Spirit” CD.

Future Masses and concerts are already in the planning stages for parishes in Wilton, Fairfield and Danbury.

(Tickets to the concert at St. Maurice are $10 student (18 and under); $20 for adults. For more info, contact the parish: 203.324.3434 or go to

On Earth Day we celebrate the beauty and wonder of God’s creation!
| April 22, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Our Holy Father has reminded us that “Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude.”

In his teachings he has also highlighted “the intrinsic connection between respect for the environment and respect for people—especially the poor, the excluded, victims of human trafficking and modern slavery, children, and future generations.”
So on this Earth Day, let us remember that we are called to care for creation not only as responsible citizens, but also as followers of Christ. To be “custodians of creation” is to protect all life. Let us pray that we learn to live in reverence of the creation and that we may always live in gratitude for its beauty and bounty.

Diocese names director
| April 22, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Siobhan Lidington of Norwalk has been named executive director of the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund. The appointment was made by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.

The Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, announced in January by Bishop Caggiano, is designed to provide tuition assistance on an annual basis for students to attend diocesan-sponsored schools.

The aid will be used to attract new admissions and to retain existing students, especially in families that are financially challenged or have more than one child in school.

As executive director, Lidington will be responsible for managing the annual fundraising efforts for the fund and overseeing the distribution of all scholarship assistance. She will work directly with the bishop to create the fund’s vision, goals and implementation strategy.

“The initial response to our scholarship fund has been very strong and positive. It is a key element in our initiative to sustain and grow Catholic education in the diocese,” said Bishop Caggiano.

“We welcome Siobhan’s leadership and enthusiasm. In addition to 11 years of fundraising and management experience, she brings a strong faith and a passion for promoting Catholic education as a profound formative element in the lives of children and young people.”

Lidington comes to the diocese after serving as a development consultant and interim annual fund director for Southern Methodist University. In that capacity, she was responsible for an annual appeal and strategic planning.

Her professional experience includes work as director of development for Southern Methodist University from 2007 to 2009, where she worked with alumni and parents in the New York City and Fairfield County areas.

She also served as the director of alumni development for the Graduate Business School of University College of Dublin, Ireland, from 2003-07. In that post she directed alumni services to 25,000 graduates worldwide. In the past she has also worked for Sotheby’s International Realty in Boston, Mass., where she implemented a branded marketing service. She began her career as a teacher in New York City.
Lidington earned a masters in business administration from University College, Dublin, in 2003, and a masters in education from The New School, New York, N.Y. She also has bachelors in education and social science from Prescott College, Prescott, Ariz.

She is an active parishioner at Assumption Parish in Westport, where she serves as a catechist, a lector, and a member of the Social Concerns Ministry.

The diocese educates more than 9,000 students in its 35 schools (five high schools, 29 elementary schools, one early childhood center located at St. Clement Parish in Stamford and one special education school, St. Catherine’s Academy in Fairfield).

The centerpiece of the bishop’s proposal to change school funding is the new scholarship fund, which is expected to raise $1.45 million in new scholarship aid that will be available to all families across the diocese.

Scholarships are renewable each year for as long as the student attends a diocesan elementary or high school and remains in good standing. More than 1,000 children have applied for this year’s $1.45 million in scholarship grants, which will be disbursed beginning in the 2015-16 school year.

The first year of the funding is reserved for elementary school students. After that, high school students will also be able to apply for scholarship aid.

The Bishop’s Scholarships will be funded each year through a new Scholarship Fund Dinner and an annual Christmas Concert for Youth, along with revenue from the Annual Catholic Appeal, the Faith in the Future Fund, and a redistribution of existing parish educational contributions.

(For more info, contact Siobhan Lidington: 203.416.1405 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). For info on the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, visit

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
A snake in the path
| April 21, 2015


When I attended Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary, in Weston, Mass., I was blessed to have Rev. Alfred McBride, O. Praem., as my homiletics professor for all four of my years at major seminary. Before the era of smartphones, he went to the trouble of videotaping each of our homiletic efforts—from small assignments to full-fledged homilies—and then we would meet with him individually to go over the recordings.

Fr. Al required three things in particular of his homiletics students. First (and this was virtually inviolate), we were not allowed to use notes when we preached. Secondly, our homilies were to be “one point” efforts. And finally (and perhaps most importantly), we were required to begin our homilies with a story.

Now that I am going on 16 years since priestly ordination, I must confess that I have used notes occasionally and have even outright read a few homilies at the congregation. The truth is, sometimes a few notes are necessary. The “one point” homily has never been my strength, and many a parishioner has said, “I was not really sure where you were going, Father…” Without notes, sometimes I am not sure where I am going either!

But the one required element to which I have been most faithful is beginning my homilies with a story. Sadly, because I try to start my homilies with a story, some could probably accuse me of narcissism, because oftentimes my stories arise from my own personal experience. Beginning a homily with, “On September 2, 1349…” never really worked for me, although historical events can work as homily material.

Admittedly—and as you have probably noticed if you have been reading my blogs—most of my stories are in the first person, based on things that really happened in my life. A famous adage for would-be writers is “write what you know.” What do I know better than my own experiences? Writing about “what I know” has always come naturally to me. Telling stories about what I know also comes easily.

This past weekend, I was stumped for a story. Fr. Al was a very good teacher because even without trying, he struck fear into me lest I ever abandon his preferred homily techniques. He lives in Green Bay, Wis., now, so it is very unlikely that he will unexpectedly appear in a church doorway in Conn. while I am preaching, but I am still loathe to begin a homily without a story, or a humorous anecdote.

I was scheduled to celebrate the 5:00 pm vigil Mass at St. Agnes in Greenwich, and that morning, I decided to go for a walk to clear my mind and take in the beautiful weather. It was the first day of the spring to surpass the 80 degree mark, and Wilton has some wonderful places for walking.

One of my favorite walks—when I have the time and proper motivation—is to walk along River Road, past the train station and into Merwin Meadows Park, which leads to a wooded trail about a mile long that runs beside the Norwalk River. In this wooded preserve, it is easy to imagine oneself far removed from humankind. And thankfully, in Wilton, sometimes you can walk for quite some time along the trail without seeing another person.

On this beautiful Saturday morning, I could not hope to have the trail to myself, and I did not. As I was making my way back through the preserve—after having walked from one side of the park to the other—something in the trail ahead caught my attention. At first glance, it looked like an over-sized earthworm. It was squirming on the ground like a worm does when it tries to escape.

As I drew nearer, I realized that the creature making the commotion in the pathway ahead of me was a snake. It looked pink, like an earthworm, but it was making a side-winding motion.

It must have been a newborn, because it was having trouble traversing the pathway. Its instincts had instructed it to get away from me, and it was not having much success. In its efforts to “side-wind” away, it seemed to be slipping a lot and spinning its wheels. I watched it until it disappeared into the leaves on the other side of the path.

Only then did I start to put together the details of what I had seen. It was a baby snake—probably newborn—that was pinkish in color, or actually more like copper. It did not have lines like a garter snake. Was it a baby copperhead? And if it was, did I come close to a deadly encounter? Baby poisonous snakes are deadlier than adult snakes because adult snakes have the ability to limit the amount of venom they inject with their bite. For some reason, baby snakes do not have a mechanism to limit their venomous discharge, thereby rendering them more deadly than their adult counterparts.

Later that afternoon, as Mass approached ever nearer, I still did not have a story. Then something struck me. Why not tell the story about my encounter with the snake earlier in the day? Did it have anything to do with the content of my homily proper? No, but that was never one of Fr. Al’s prerequisites for telling a story. If the story was connected to the homily, all the better, but stories could be stand-alone too. Stories serve to capture that attention of the congregation, which then makes delivering a theological message easier and more productive. The idea is to catch their attention and slip in some theology before they get bored again and turn you off.

Much to my amazement, the congregation at St. Agnes loved my story about the snake. Upon reflection, the story captured their attention because they did not know the outcome. To me, it did not seem at all spectacular, because I came across a snake, let it slither away, and then realized that it was likely venomous.

Little did I realize that even the mention of a snake would make some people sit straight up in fear, as they were deathly afraid of snakes.

Apart from those with snake-phobias, the story was very pleasing to most because of its primitive nature. Is there a more fundamental template for a story than the unexpected encounter of a human being with a wild creature of any kind? Throw in an element of danger or the unknown and the story of “man meets nature” is a home-run!

The story could be summed up as follows: I took a walk on a beautiful spring morning through the woods and came across a baby snake struggling to evade me. It was probably a baby copperhead.

That alone was enough to delight a congregation on an early Saturday evening, and to incline them to be more receptive to my preaching about Jesus Christ and the Sacred Scriptures.

The next time I have trouble coming up with a story for a homily, I hope I remember that sometimes the simplest stories are the best.

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St Joseph School student presents bishop with Brooklyn Bridge
| April 21, 2015


SHELTON—When Bishop Caggiano visited St. Joseph School in Shelton at the beginning of April, he received an astonishing and totally unexpected gift.

Following the school's Mass with the bishop, seventh-grader Gabe Romero presented him with a beautifully handcrafted model of the Brooklyn Bridge—constructed out of popsicle sticks. Gabe had spent hours of labor the intricate construction, finishing it in time for this special occasion.  (Photo by Amy Mortensen)

Auditions set for new Diocesan Youth Choir
| April 20, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—The Diocese of Bridgeport has announced audition times and places for its new Choir for Youth (C4Y) that will perform at diocesan liturgies with the Bishop and special events throughout the year.

Auditions will be held May 18-21 in Wilton, Bridgeport, Trumbull Stamford and Danbury.

Students can come to any audition site (see "

The Choir For Youth is open to all young adults in the Diocese of Bridgeport in 8th grade through senior in high school as of September 2015.

The auditions will be conducted by Mary Bozzuti Higgins of Wilton, newly named director of the youth choir.  She brings 35 years of experience as a choral director, voice coach, musician and opera performer to this new post.  Students will be asked to sing, “My Country Tis of Thee” during the auditions.

Auditions times will be held at the following times and locations: Monday, May 18, 4:30 to 6 pm at Our Lady of Fatima Parish Center, 229 Danbury Road, Wilton; Tuesday, May 19, 4:30 to 6 pm at The Catholic Center Diocese of Bridgeport, Queen of Saints Hall, 238 Jewett Avenue, Bridgeport; Tuesday, May 19, 7 to 8:30 pm, St. Joseph High School Chapel, 2320 Huntington Turnpike, Trumbull (Park in Back, enter through Gym); Wednesday, May 20, 4:30 to 6 pm, at Trinity Catholic High School, 926 Newfield Avenue, Stamford; Thursday, May 21, 4:30 to 6:30 pm at Immaculate High School, 73 Southern Boulevard, Danbury.

Rehearsals will begin the week after school closes for the summer. The rehearsal locations will be same as above.

The Choir is open to all incoming freshman through seniors in High School. All current 8th graders and up to high school juniors can audition the week of May 18, 2015.

The Diocesan Youth Choir is scheduled to perform at the Closing of the Synod Mass on Saturday, September 19th in Bridgeport’s Harbor Yard Arena as well as a Christmas Concert t in December at Norwalk Concert Hall, date to be announced.

BIO: MARY BOZZUTI HIGGINS, a soprano who has performed for professional opera companies, has extensive experience in choir direction and conducting large music ensembles for schools and civic groups. She is currently serving as choir director of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Wilton, a post she has held since 1992, and as music director of the Treblemakers, an all-women choral group sponsored by the Wilton Parks and Recreation.

In the past she has been interim choral director at Wilton High School, where she led the 250-voice concert choir, the 80-voice girls chorus and 24-voice Madrigal Singers. She has also been associate professor of voice at Boston University (1993-96), and music director of the Fairfield County Student Operetta Workshop. Bozzuti made her professional opera debut with the St. Louis Opera in the world premiere of The Vanishing Bridegroom. She was also often seen on stage at Symphony Hall in Boston, Mass., where she was a featured soloist at many Christmas Pops concerts with the Boston Symphony and Boston Esplanade Orchestra.

She is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., Class of 1984, where she earned a bachelor of arts in music education. She was awarded a master of arts in voice performance and an Opera Institute Certificate from Boston University.

She and her husband, Jory Higgins, are the parents of three daughters. They are members of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Wilton.

Auditions and weekly Rehearsal schedule will also be posted on the website, www. For more info and for those who cannot make any of the five scheduled auditions and would like to participate, can go to, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or Twitter: @c4ysings.

Pope Francis and the Promise of the Family coming to Norwalk
| April 16, 2015


NORWALK—Dr. Scott Hahn, Kimberly Hahn and Dr. Alan Hunt will be at All Saint's School in Norwalk on Saturday, April 18 from 8:30 am-5 pm, to offer inspiration, encouragement and creative solutions to the challenges of married life and parenting as envisioned by Pope Francis. 

Includes 5 talks, with one breakout session for men and women, and concludes with Mass by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at 4pm.Cost is $45/person, $75/couple; includes continental breakfast and full lunch. No one Limited seating still available. Walk-in or for reservations click here.  For flyer click here. For Marriage Page click here.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Is genuflecting charitable?
| April 15, 2015


As a rule, I do not genuflect. In the past I could genuflect with the best of them, but presently, I choose to bow rather than to genuflect. And when I bow, I perform a simple bow rather than a “profound” bow. Whenever I try to perform a profound bow, I always feel like I am going to tumble over!

Twice during my 16 years as a priest my back went out on me completely, and during those times of extreme back pain, I could not genuflect. Also, in my early 20s, I fell off a galloping horse on a beach in Ireland. No, it was not a conversion moment. I broke my right wrist (which required surgery), broke my left hand, and sprained ligaments in my right knee.
Those who have suffered knee injuries know that the knee never really completely heals. It acts up from time to time, and mine frequently sends shooting pain through my body when I try to genuflect.
Some time ago, it occurred to me that it may be uncharitable to genuflect in church because many Catholics are unable to participate in this physical religious expression. My mind was made up to stop genuflecting when guidelines were issued about 10 years ago for the concelebration of Mass that included instructions for concelebrants to genuflect before receiving the precious blood.
If you have ever seen a large gathering of priests, you know that many are “seasoned citizens” and some (even younger ones) have “bad wheels” and may need a cane to walk. Many older priests—let alone those in wheel chairs or using canes or walkers—simply cannot genuflect. In my opinion, it is uncharitable for able-bodied priests to genuflect when some priests are unable to do so.
Worship “postures” are intended to be communal, meaning everyone is able to participate. When I celebrate Mass at a nursing home or a hospital, it is usually the practice that congregants remain seated during the Mass—even during the proclamation of the Gospel—and no one kneels during the Eucharistic prayer. These liturgical practices developed out of sensitivity for congregants who are too ill, disabled, or feeble to stand, kneel or genuflect.
The concelebrant rubrics that advise priests to genuflect before the chalice are sadly out of touch with the state of health of American priests. Sadly, genuflecting or not genuflecting before the chalice during concelebrated Masses also seems to be a way for priests to communicate some kind of orthodoxy or orthopraxy with other priests.
When I do not genuflect before receiving from the chalice at concelebrated Masses, I am making a statement, but until now, no one would really know what it was. When I do not genuflect, when requested to do so by masters of ceremony or rubrics, I am expressing solidarity with all (clergy, religious and lay) who are unable to genuflect.

It seems perfunctory to point this out, but the Catholic Church in the United States is getting older. We can talk about bringing in the young people, but just attend a 4:00 pm vigil Mass at a Catholic parish in Fairfield County. I even joked once—to mixed reaction—that  the congregants looked like they were all anxious to get to the “early bird special!”

In one of the more somber statistics regarding synod demographics, it was pointed out that many practicing Catholics in the Diocese of Bridgeport are dying. And many are dying because many practicing Catholics are elderly, in their 80s and 90s.

Yet even though many of our most faithful Catholics are elderly, we still as a Church favor genuflection, a liturgical posture that is necessarily exclusive.

Liturgical postures and expressions are complex, but it is always best if they can be uniform and universal. That is why I am personally uncomfortable with the revised Confiteor that calls for us to strike our breasts three times as we pray it. When is the last time you saw someone strike themselves in the breast in contrition, outside of a Mass?
Striking our breast in sorrow is not a universal expression of regret or sadness in the United States, but so far at least, it has been plausibly recaptured from previous centuries during the Confiteor.

But bowing or genuflecting goes beyond the artificiality of striking our breasts. Most people would like to be able to genuflect, but many are not physically able to do it.

Most people in wheelchairs are able to bow their heads in reverence before receiving the Eucharist. Most elderly people who may not be able to safely genuflect can make a simple bow.

Those who ask others to genuflect—or even to go down on “both” knees before the Blessed Sacrament—should be mindful that they are placing a premium on an external act of “reverence” that is neither practical nor universal (the meaning of “Catholic” from the Greek).

Jesus always warned against putting emphasis on external acts of piety. As Christians, we are called to work out our salvation in internal and often hidden ways.

If the vast majority of Catholics are capable of a simple bow, and an increasing number are incapable of or reluctant (for physical reasons) to genuflect, then the Church needs to move away from its insistence that genuflection is preferable to a simple bow.

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Here I am Lord
| April 15, 2015


INDIANAPOLIS—Watch this beautiful video written and narrated by Bishop Frank Caggiano. In his deeply insightful way, he talks about youth spirituality, their hunger for truth and their search for greatness of heart and spirit.

It was produced for the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC), 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. In 2013, Bishop Caggiano was appointed Episcopal Advisor of the NCYC.

To watch, click this link

Mass Mob IV comes to Bridgeport!
| April 14, 2015


Join Mass Mob IV at St. Patrick Parish, Bridgeport, on Sunday, April 19, at 12:30 pm. What is Mass Mob? Mass Mobs are named after flash mobs—spontaneous gatherings of crowds in a public place to make an artistic statement.

Mass Mobs have taken off in Fairfield County since
the first one at St. Peter Parish, Bridgeport, last August.
Among their biggest fans, Bishop Frank Caggiano, who
gave his “thumbs up” to the movement.

The idea started last year in Buffalo and has been spreading throughout the country. It was picked up here last summer and has taken off, growing with each parish it targets. Embraced enthusiastically by youth, Mass Mobs spread typically by word of mouth—or more accurately, word of email, twitter and Facebook.

“The Eucharist is the greatest prayer of the Church,” said Andre Escaliera, a 19-year-old sophomore at Fairfield University and a member of the Mass Mob committee. “We wanted to raise awareness, first of all, of these beautiful churches in these great communities. We want to share what each parish is about, all while joining them in the prayer of the Church. We cleared it with diocesan officials and started working to get the word out.”

The first Mass Mob, in August of 2014, targeted St. Peter Parish in Bridgeport, a vibrant parish with a a rich cultural heritage. They found a superb host in Msgr. Aniceto Villamide, St. Peter’s pastor, and a warm welcome from parishioners.

Mass Mob gathered momentum. In November they were welcomed to Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Stamford, a parish with a proud Polish heritage. Next they headed up to the northern tier of the county, where Father Peter Towsley invited them to Sacred Heart Parish in Danbury.

While young people, on fire with their faith, have initiated the Mass Mobs, they draw people of all ages. “Mass Mob is not exclusively a youth movement,” said Escaliera. “It’s for the elderly, families with college kids, teens. It’s for the whole Church.”

Each Mass Mob has drawn a larger following. Mass Mob III at Sacred Heart topped the list for the largest Mass Mob yet, and expectations are high for even greater numbers at St. Patrick Church.

With invitations from several parishes and encouragement from Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, future Mass Mobs are in the planning stages.

For more info, visit Facebook: Mass Mob Fairfield County; Twitter: @MassMobFfldCo; .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address); or

Encountering Jesus in Medical Technology
| April 12, 2015 • by By Father Colin McKenna


NEW CANAAN—The annual White Mass for healthcare professionals and for all who serve the sick was held at St. Aloysius Church in New Canaan on Sunday morning, April 12.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano was the principal celebrant and the homilist at the 8:30 am regularly scheduled parish Mass.

After the Mass, a special breakfast was held at Woodway Country Club in Darien, at which the 2015 Father Rufin Compassionate Care Award was presented to two recipients - Dr. Arthur E. Dobos, Jr. and Sister Donna Brodman, O.P.—and at which the nearly 200 attendees listened to the keynote address by Rev. Kevin T. Fitzgerald, S.J., PhD.

Father Fitzgerald is the Dr. David P. Lauler Chair in Catholic Healthcare Ethics in the Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University. He is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Oncology at Georgetown University Medical Center. His research efforts focus on the investigation of abnormal gene expression in cancer, and on ethical issues in biomedical research and genomics. His keynote address was entitled, “Genetics in the 21st Century—Promises and Pitfalls from a Catholic Perspective.”

In his homily at the White Mass, Bishop Caggiano said, that “healthcare professionals tend to the sick in the name of Jesus, and are ambassadors of Christ’s loving mercy to the world.”

The bishop related the day’s Gospel reading about the encounter of St. Thomas with the Risen Lord to healthcare workers who can help others to “see” Jesus. “Wherever there is mercy, love and forgiveness,” he said, “we can reach out and touch the Risen Lord.”

As the recipients of God’s mercy, Bishop Caggiano encouraged all in attendance on Divine Mercy Sunday to be generous distributors of God’s loving mercy in their daily lives.

Bishop Caggiano left the congregation with a question to ponder: “Where have we encountered the Lord Jesus?” Although Christians will not likely have the privilege of literally beholding the Risen Jesus (like St. Thomas) in this present life on earth, all can still encounter Jesus, especially in the sick and the poor. Recalling the words of Jesus, Bishop Caggiano said, “Blessed are those who believe without seeing.”

During his keynote presentation at the breakfast after Mass, Father Fitzgerald built on some of the themes of Bishop Caggiano’s homily. For healthcare professionals and institutions that aspire to provide healing, spirituality is an essential therapeutic component. “The whole person needs to be treated,” he said. When seeking the truth about best healthcare practices, Christians need to realize that the Truth is Jesus Christ, the Divine Physician.

On a daily basis, Father Fitzgerald wrestles with the dimensions of treating the serious, often fatal disease of cancer. It is natural for the human spirit to always seek new and better ways to treat, and eventually cure, the most debilitating diseases and conditions that confront us. While technology, especially in the realm of genetic engineering, is providing new discoveries daily that can help treat the sick, the use of advanced technology, Father Fitzgerald warns, comes with caveats.

Editing the human genome is fraught with risk, for individuals and for future generations. “The challenge of the Catholic tradition,” Father Fitzgerald said, “is to rigorously analyze the ethical dimensions of the use of medical technologies.” Simply because science has advanced to the point that it can “engineer” the human genome does not mean that scientists and doctors “should” use all of the new technology at their disposal.

This is where Catholic healthcare ethics can appear to some as paradoxical if not contradictory. Some argue that if the technology is available to help bring healing to the sick, it is morally wrong not to make use of such technology. Father Fitzgerald said that the role of the Church with regards to bioethics is to say “slow down or ‘no’ to some new technologies, based on good reason.” The stance of the Church against the unbridled use of new medical technologies makes it “unpopular” in some scientific circles and within segments of the mass media.

“We live in a society that is very polarized,” Father Fitzgerald said, “with regard to the ethical issues surrounding biotechnological research. People use the word ‘Catholic’ against us.”

Father Fitzgerald concluded his presentation on a positive and hopeful note. To the surprise of many in the scientific and medical communities, the teaching Catholic Church accepts genetic engineering when certain conditions are met in applied therapy and hoped-for outcomes. In seeking the truth in the treatment of the sick, the Catholic Church “wants to find the good that can come from the use of new medical technologies,” Father Fitzgerald said.

In analyzing the use of new medical technologies, the Catholic Church challenges the medical and scientific communities worldwide to ask a fundamental question: “What goods (in a philosophical sense) and goals are hoped to be achieved with the use of a certain technology?”

In his role as Catholic bioethicist, Father Fitzgerald confidently proclaims to the international medical and scientific communities that the Catholic Church has something, in its analysis of new medical technologies, “that may help us achieve the goals and outcomes that we all want to achieve.”

View slideshow (pictures by Michelle Babyak)

Listen to the White Mass Keynote speaker

Listen to the White Mass Homily

Bishop says need for a more “welcoming” Church unites all parishes and communities
| April 11, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Speaking at the Hispanic Consultation for 2014 Synod this afternoon, Bishop Caggiano said that one of the most urgent challenges of the Synod is to make parishes more welcoming places where people feel affirmed in their faith and in their lives.

“If we are going to go out and evangelize, the number one thing we have to do as a Church is to transform every parish into a vibrant, and joyful, community faith” the bishop told members of the Latino community.

More than 100 Latinos of all ages turned out for the third 2014 Synod Hispanic consultation held in the lower Church of at St. Charles Church on East Main Street.

The consultation began with a presentation and discussion of the five “global challenges” ratified by synod delegates: the need to renew Liturgy and Worship, Family Life, Evangelization, Leadership, and Catechesis and Formation.

The challenges were presented in Spanish by John Rodrigues, a member of the Synod Commission, and Msgr. Aniceto Villamide, pastor of St. Peter Parish in Bridgeport.

Each of the synod challenges was related to the needs of the Hispanic community, which some speakers said often feels unrepresented in the diocese and the larger church.

Many of those present agreed that the diocese needs to better understand Latino culture and to develop more Spanish-speakers in its pastoral ministry and service teams.

In a question and answer session that followed the presentation, the bishop invoked the teaching of Pope Francis and his “Theology of Accompaniment” when asked questions about reaching out to gay and divorced Catholics.

“Pope Francis is challenging us to see things in a new way. We have to ask, how do we help people to hear what we believe? If a person is struggling we have to find a way to them, so that they know they are loved by God and accepted for who they are.”

The bishop said it is important to remember both “the journey and the destination” as we share our faith. “The destination is heaven. The journey is our life. The Holy Father asks us to work with people on the journey of life to get to heaven. Everyone is part of that journey,” he said.

The bishop said that when people go through a divorce or experience other crises is “when they need the Church the most, and we can’t do a good job if we’re not walking beside them.”

Noting that this weekend is Divine Mercy Sunday, the bishop said “The gift of the Lord is mercy.” He added that when someone falls, you physically have to draw them closet to you in order to pick them up.

“In the same way that God is always picking us up. That’s the mystery of Divine Mercy, that God would enter into the dirtiness of human life. If God can to that for us than we can do it for others.”

Speaking of the need to evangelize “one person at a time, “ the bishop said, “I am not interested solely in having a remnant Church for only those who are righteous. As your bishop I want to help people feel welcome.”

In concluding the meeting, the Bishop asked those in attendance to email the Synod with their suggestions and comments as the delegates seek solutions and best practices.

“This is decision making time now, and I want to make the right ones. I need your input,” the bishop said.

He also invited all those presented to plan on attending the Synod’s Closing Mass of Thanksgiving on September 19 at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.

“It is very important that the Latino community is there in large numbers celebrating who we are as a Church in Fairfield County,” he said before giving a final blessing.

There were two standing ovations during the meeting. The first when the bishop announced that Fr. Frank Gomez, who has served as his priest secretary, has been named Pastor of St. Charles Church, and the second when the bishop praised Msgr. Villamide, ho has announced his retirement, for his service to the Church.

The Fifth General Session of Synod 2014 is set for Saturday, May 9, 8 am to 3 pm at St. Catherine of Siena, Trumbull. A Sixth General Session has also been added for Saturday May 30th from 8 am to 12 noon—St. Catherine of Siena, Trumbull.
 A September 19, Synod Closing Mass and Celebration—10 am to 2 pm will be held Webster Bank Arena, in Bridgeport. Almost 9,000 people throughout the diocese and invited guests are expected to attend. For more information visit:

Busy Weekend for Synod Delegates
| April 09, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—2014 Synod gets back to work this weekend with two consultation sessions set for Saturday in the greater Bridgeport area and the Synod Retreat for all delegates to be held in Wilton.

Youth delegates will gather on Saturday, April 11 from 10 am–12 noon at St. Joseph High School in Trumbull. The session is open only to Youth Delegates, Youth co-delegates, and Chaperones.
Spanish speaking delegates will meet on Saturday from 1-3 pm at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Bridgeport. As with the previous session, the primary language of this consultation is Spanish.
Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and the Synod leadership will attend the consultation sessions and the retreat.
The Synod Retreat for all delegates, led by Fr. John Harris, O.P. is set for Sunday, April 12 at Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton. The retreat will start at 1pm, and will finish around 4 pm. Delegates will also be welcome to  stay for the 4:30 pm Sunday afternoon Mass at Our Lady of Fatima.
Fr John Harris, 0.P. is a Dominican Priest, born in Limerick Ireland in 1963, ordained in 1988 and received a doctorate in moral theology from the Angelicum University in Rome, in 2004. He is currently serving as the Regent of Studies for the Irish Dominican Province, at St. Saviour's Priory, Dublin. In addition to his teaching posts in Ireland, he has lectured at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. Fr. Harris has offered parish missions and been invited to preach throughout the United States and Great Britain; renowned for his Irish wit and humor, as well as his spiritual insights.
“I am pleased to see so many delegates responding to the Synod Retreat and consultations. Thank you for your time, your energy and your commitment to the Synod process. We look forward to seeing where the Holy Spirit leads us in the coming months,” said Patrick Turner, Deputy Synod Director.
The Fifth General Session of Synod 2014 is set for Saturday, May 9, 8 am to 3 pm at St. Catherine of Siena, Trumbull. A Sixth General Session  has also been added for Saturday May 30th from  8 am to 12 noon—St. Catherine of Siena, Trumbull.
A September 19, Synod Closing Mass and Celebration—10 am to 2 pm will be held Webster Bank Arena, in Bridgeport. Almost 9,000 people throughout the diocese and invited guests are expected to attend. For more information visit:

Dialogue: an essential ingredient for peaceful relationships
| April 09, 2015 • by By Tony Magliano


Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano

According to the New York Times, during a White House luncheon in 1954 Winston Churchill said, “To jaw-jaw [talk-talk] always is better than to war-war.”

While clearly not a pacifist, the United Kingdom’s World War II prime minister had seen upfront the absolute horror of war, and became convinced that tirelessly striving to resolve disputes through respectful dialogue was always preferable to war.     

Yes indeed, “to jaw-jaw always is better than to war-war.” But then why is it that when faced with differences of opinion we often opt for violence instead of dialogue?

When harsh words are directed at us, why do we often respond with a harsh reply? When spouses continue to hurt each other, why do they often resort to a mean-spirited divorce? And when different ethnic groups, tribes, religions and nations find themselves at odds, why do they so often take up arms to kill each other?

I suspect that the sin of pride – the foundational sin of all other sins – is at the center of all this. Pride puffs up the ego, which tempts each one of us to selfishly concentrate on what we want, often with no thought of the God-given rights of others.

Instead of taming the pride-filled ego with honest humility, we often allow it to dominate our thoughts, words and actions which make respectful dialogue nearly impossible.

And when respectful dialogue is absent, violent words, violent actions, murder, and the mass murder of war take over.

Unfortunately, many people often rationalize that violence must be met with violence.  They have not learned the tragic lessons of history. Violence never leads to genuine lasting peace. Instead, it plants the seeds for future violence which grows like weeds.

Respectful dialogue is absolutely necessary to root out the weeds of violence. Respectful dialogue communicates first and foremost from the heart. It speaks from the heart and listens from the heart. It is heart-to-heart communication. It tries to genuinely understand the other person’s legitimate needs, and the pain of not having those needs met. Respectful dialogue walks in the other person’s shoes.

The late Marshall Rosenberg, teacher of peace and founder of The Center for Nonviolent Communication ( insightfully said, “When our communication supports compassionate giving and receiving, happiness replaces violence and grieving”!

The late Jewish philosopher Martin Buber offers wise and lovely insight here. In his book I and Thou, Buber explains that there are two primary ways of being in relationship with others: “I-Thou” or “I-It.”
We are in an “I-It” relationship when we think of, and treat another person as an “it,” that is, as an object to be measured, manipulated and used. How sad it is so many persons today are treated as an “it.”

But when we are in an “I-Thou” relationship we see each other as another self – another human being of equal dignity.

Buber further explained that this respectful view towards each other invites us to relate our entire being to another person. This in turn leads to a response of give and take for the mutual good of both persons. This is what respectful dialogue is all about; where, as Buber points out, real communion with each other is possible, and God’s presence is experienced.
In the words of Pope Francis, “All wars, conflicts and troubles we encounter with each other are because of a lack of dialogue.”
Instead, we must “dialogue to meet each other, not to fight.”
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.

Youth gather with bishop for Palm Sunday
| April 08, 2015


DARIEN—Bishop Frank Caggiano celebrated Palm Sunday Mass with over 70 Confirmation and Youth Group teens at St. Thomas More in Darien at 11:30 am on Sunday March 29.

IHS Campus Ministry, Grounded, Integrated, Connected
| April 08, 2015


DANBURY—Campus Ministry at Immaculate High School is a vibrant, active aspect of student life which integrates across all areas of school activity and continues to provide opportunities for students to serve and engage the Greater Danbury community, while growing in their faith, said IHS President Mary Maloney.

Immaculate High School students, Audrey Sedensky, Connor McNerney,
Molly Gleissner, Lauren Garvey, Andrea Broggy, Brianna Sullivan,
Maeve Reilly and Jazmin Cabrera, ride on the Immaculate High School
St. Patrick’s Day Parade float.

Immaculate High School Christian Rock Band members Emma Beers,
Chris Kennedy, Zach Perna, and Chris Impellizzeri, play for the Mass
of the Annunciation.

Fr. Jeff Couture and students kneel during Eucharistic Adoration
in the Immaculate High School chapel.

At Immaculate High School’s Living Stations of the Cross service,
The Fourth Station: Jesus (sophomore, Giovanni Fardella) meets
his Mother (junior, Isabelle Camillo).  Mary’s companions are freshmen
Marina Kolitsas and Arianna Shovak.

Recent events in March illustrate the depth and breadth of the program.

Parade: Community and Creativity
At the invitation of the Danbury Ancient Order of Hibernians, Immaculate High School Campus Ministry entered a float in the Danbury St. Patrick’s Day Parade held on March 22. The Hibernians have within their ranks many IHS alumni and parents of alumni who were interested in reintegrating the school with their Catholic organization—as it had been forty years ago. The float, designed by senior class president Vicky Matero, represented the Irish flag with green, white and orange balloons arching over the base on which students rode. Parent Ron Gleissner supplied the flatbed and IHS faculty member, Daniel Buckley, built the structure on it. Campus Ministry members did the decorating. “Despite the cold weather, the parade was very enjoyable and I was happy to share this holiday with our Danbury community,” said senior, Stephanie Cabrera. “Our community came together to celebrate this holiday by playing music, dancing and sharing our Irish heritage,” added Maeve Reilly, also a senior.

Liturgy: Inspiring Words and Music
Immaculate’s chaplain, Fr. Jeff Couture celebrated a school-wide Mass for the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25th. Fr. James Cole, religion and Latin teacher, was the homilist. He told the students that, in the Annunciation, we celebrate God’s love for and desire to be present to us, His creation, which lead to His incarnation through the cooperation of Mary. The Immaculate High School Christian Rock Band, organized by student Chris Kennedy, provided inspiring music for the liturgy. In addition to Chris, band members are Chris Impellizzeri, Emma Beers and Zach Perna. “Having the band at Mass enriched my spiritual experience,” said Senior Rene Rossman. “They were so good! I’m looking forward to hearing them again at the next Mass,” added Kathryn Kerins. Immaculate celebrates all holy days and holidays with a school-wide Mass and students have the opportunity to attend daily Mass in the chapel as well.  

Adoration: Daily and 40 Hours
On Palm Sunday weekend, Immaculate sponsored 40 Hours of Adoration with the support Knights of Columbus from six parishes: St. Rose of Lima in Newtown, St. Edward the Confessor in New Fairfield, St. Marguerite Bourgeoys and St. Joseph in Brookfield, St. Mary in Bethel, St. Joseph and Sacred Heart in Danbury. Students, parents and the Knights kept watch with our Lord in the school’s chapel Friday night through Sunday morning. Freshman Helena Sabo commented, “It was very peaceful just being there with God, like you and Jesus are at dinner together. My Mom attended with me and we prayed together.  It made us closer.” Blessed John Paul II said that if one wants to engage youth, start with Eucharistic Adoration. In September of 2013, Chaplain Fr. Jeff began offering daily adoration in the school chapel during students’ lunch period and many students avail themselves of the opportunity to spend a few minutes with Jesus in the midst of their busy days. While visiting the school recently, Msgr. John Hossan, Immaculate’s founder and first principal, gave Fr. Jeff the idea to reintroduce the 40 Hours of Adoration. This devotion, instituted by papal bull in 1560 by Pope Paul IV, is meant to mirror the 40 hours Jesus spent in the tomb before His resurrection. Fr. Jeff says, “With this devotion, we are promoting awareness of Eucharistic Adoration and soliciting an outpouring of grace on the school community.”

The Passion: Drama and Devotion
On Monday of Holy Week, thirty-one members of Campus Ministry and the IHS Drama Club, under the direction of Alexa Wild, English teacher and drama director, presented a Living Stations of the Cross service for students, faculty, staff and family members. Immaculate’s Concert Choir sang hymns and songs. At each station, the actors posed in a tableau while readers shared a meditation which spoke clearly of Christ’s suffering and the concerns and experience of high school students, merging them into a message of love and hope. “The Living stations were like watching a movie—you could see the emotion on their faces,” said senior Kathryn Kerins. “I liked how the readings related to real life scenarios—connected on a level with high school students,” shared senior Erin Clark. The service was a reverent and relevant devotion for all who participated, whether on stage or in the congregation.

People’s United Community Foundation Awards $4,000 to St. Stephen’s Food Pantry
| April 08, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—The People’s United Community Foundation, the philanthropic arm of People’s United Bank, announced that it has awarded a $4,000 to Catholic Charities of Fairfield County for the St. Stephen’s Food Pantry in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

(left to right) Brian Jenkins, Executive Director of Thomas Merton Center;
Karen Galbo, Director of People’s United Community Foundation;
and Al Barber, President of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County.

St. Stephen's Food Pantry provides 4-5 days-worth of healthy meals a month per family member to each person who visits the pantry and lives in the 06604, 06605 and 06606 Bridgeport zip codes. The pantry is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with an emphasis on providing healthy food to guests. The St. Stephen’s Food Pantry program is housed in and operated by The Thomas Merton Center, located at 43 Madison Avenue, Bridgeport.

“The St. Stephen’s Food Pantry is a critical resource for families living in poverty in inner city Bridgeport,” said Karen Galbo, Director of People’s United Community Foundation. “Families with limited income struggle to make choices on how their money is spent on daily living expenses. The food pantry is helping to alleviate some of that burden.”
Established in 2007, People’s United Community Foundation was formed to help support programs and activities that enhance the quality of life for citizens in the communities that People’s United Bank serves. People’s United Bank, founded in 1842 and serving customers from New York to Maine through a network of more than 400 branches, is the largest independent bank headquartered in New England. The Foundation places special emphasis on programs designed to promote economic self-sufficiency, education and improved conditions for low-income families and neighborhoods. The funding priorities of the Foundation include community development, youth development, and affordable housing.

St. James girls win CYO Championship
| April 08, 2015


WORCESTER—The St James Varsity girls won the New England CYO School Division Championship in Worcester, MA on Sunday March 29, 2015.

CONGRATULATIONS CHAMPS: Mascot Michael Lucifora,
Caroline Oman, Morgan Colacurcio, Julia Torreso, head coach
Pete Hynes, Lexi Kretvix, Kristin Zack, Makenzie Helms,
Serena Mbachiantim, Kylie Lucifora, Theresa Hynes, Skylar Robotti,
Lilia Ivanovich, Elizabeth Garfield, assistant coach Dave Ivanovich
and back row assistant coach Angelo Lucifora

They played against Nashua Catholic of Manchester, NH, after first defeating Immaculate Conception representing the diocesan of Boston, MA then defeating St. Bernard of Worcester, MA. The team went 45-9, and won three individual tournaments. The St. James Varsity girls were also were The Cardinal Shehan Center league champions, playoff champions, diocesan champions and New England CYO champions.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Andrew Masi and Ministry of Presence
| April 07, 2015


In the spiritual life, there is such a thing as “hidden ministry,” in which one person or many perform acts of faith, hope and charity in quiet, often unnoticed ways.

Another type of ministry can be referred to as a “personal ministry,” or a ministry to which one feels personally called, although there may be no “official” way to fulfill the ministry. Such a ministry is often unique—there is no roadmap to follow—and one may feel alone, because no one else seems to be pursuing the same spiritual path.

Andrew Masi, on a recent Sunday morning, visiting St. Agnes Church in Greenwich.

Andrew Masi, 27, of Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Fairfield, is fulfilling a personal ministry in a somewhat hidden manner. Some of his ministerial activity is recognized by those who know him, but often, during his many visits to churches, cathedrals, and basilicas, his efforts to serve God and neighbor go largely unnoticed.

Clergy and religious in the Diocese of Bridgeport have come to know Andrew personally because he makes himself known to them. He is extremely outgoing and friendly, and unusually interested in all things related to “Church.”

Like many priests, I first came to know Andrew because he attends nearly all major diocesan Masses and functions. Be it the Chrism Mass, the Mass for the year of Consecrated Life or Fisher’s 25th anniversary Mass and celebration, Andrew Masi is present.

In seminary, we were taught about the importance of a “ministry of presence,” and seemingly without formal instruction in the matter, Andrew practices a ministry of presence, but also much more than that. With his effervescent personality and outgoing approach, Andrew embodies fervor for the faith that is transformative. If all Catholics were “on fire” for the faith like Andrew, the world would undoubtedly be a much different, much better place than it is today.

Andrew was born in Columbia, South America, and was adopted from an orphanage by his parents when he was about six months old. According to his mother, “I was the sickest baby there,” he said. Today, he gives thanks to God that he survived his difficult infancy.

After his adoption, he grew up as an only child in Easton and then Fairfield, Connecticut.

He is currently wrapping up his last year at Norwalk Community College, where he is a business/marketing major with a minor in political science. In addition to his studies, he is also presently working at two jobs: at a public relations firm in Westport and with his family business in Bridgeport. His dream is to one day open up his own public relations firm.

As clergy—as Church “professionals”—it is easy to sometimes take what we do for granted. When we organize, promote or participate in a large church function, we may or may not consider the larger impact of the event, or even wonder much about the workings of the Holy Spirit when a large number of people gather to worship God. It is easy for me to think in those terms about the 50th anniversary Mass for the Diocese of Bridgeport, held in 2003 at Harboryard Arena. Bishop Lori was the principal celebrant, and while it was undoubtedly a grand event, requiring countless hours of organization and an army of volunteers to pull it off, for me, it was more like another day at the office. I was not personally involved in the organization of the event, so it was easy for me to be nonchalant about it, but I do remember that the arena was full, which is no small feat. There were approximately 10,000 people at the Mass, which is a large group by anyone’s standards!

One of the congregants was Andrew Masi, and while it was not a remarkable experience for me (apart from the size of the gathering), the anniversary Mass became a life-changing event for him. “The day on which the Lord sent down the Holy Spirit to rekindle the flame of faith in me was at the 50th anniversary Mass for the diocese at Harbor Yard Arena,” he said. “Something woke up inside me at that Mass, and it led me to the Catholic Church.”

Shortly after he had his “spiritual re-awakening,” he decided to visit all of the parishes in the Diocese of Bridgeport. His journey to visit every parish in the diocese began in January, 2004, at St. Patrick’s in Redding, and concluded in November of that year at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Danbury. His quest to visit every parish “made me fall more deeply in love with my faith,” he said.

After his adoption as an infant, he was baptized Lutheran, but growing up, he never had much interest in attending church services. Andrew converted to Catholicism in 2005.

Today, he is a senior altar-server and master of ceremonies at his parish church, Our Lady of Assumption in Fairfield. “Whether I am on the altar, praying in church, or attending a diocesan event, I feel myself growing closer to God,” he said.

With such great love for the Church and for all things Catholic, it is natural to enquire whether Andrew feels called to the priesthood. “At one point, yes, I did feel a calling to serve God in the sacred priesthood,” he said. “As I prayed on it, I heard a voice telling me to slow down and be patient.”

Andrew is confident in faith that if God wants him to be a priest, the Lord Jesus will tell him.

In the meantime, Andrew has embarked on another grand liturgical adventure: he is currently amassing as many visits as possible to “all” of the cathedrals, shrines, and basilicas in the United States, including Alaska! This latest idea for an ongoing journey came to him at Easter Mass last year.

With enthusiasm and joy, he has already visited 30-40 cathedrals and basilicas so far. “I love travelling and seeing different places and meeting new people,” he said. “It might take me awhile to visit all of them in the country,” he said, “but I am looking forward to it!”

There have been 649 visit(s) to this blog post.

Off the Streets BFT holds Donation Drop-off Day for basic household needs providing housewarming “starter kits”
| April 07, 2015


TRUMBULL—It is often said that ‘home is where you hang your hat.’ But what if you don’t have a home?

One local organization, Off the Streets of Bridgeport, Fairfield, & Trumbull (OTS BFT) works to help the homeless find a place to dwell and make it their home and fulfills their needs for basic furnishings and household goods to help them make their space their home.

During OTS BFT’s donation drop-off day, taking place on Saturday, April 25 from 10 am until 1 pm in the parking lot of Our Lady of the Assumption Church located at 545 Stratfield Road in Fairfield, donations of clean and in-good-condition small kitchen tables and chairs, dressers, floor lamps, pots and pans, flatware, and linens are gladly accepted. For a complete list of items needed visit OTS’ website at

Off the Streets’ main focus is bridging the gap between local social service agencies and their homeless clients’ ability to pay security deposits for housing. The people OTS helps have the ability to pay their rent but need assistance in the form of a security deposits as well as basic household items to get them started. OTS believes their clients’ success is directly tied to their need to feel that their newfound residences are really their homes. As a result, OTS volunteers work diligently to provide basic furnishings along with a housewarming box containing a "starter kit" of household goods. In fact, that is the goal for the donation drop-off day.

"We want everyone we help to have the opportunity to succeed in their new lives off the streets," states Deacon Kevin Moore, administrator of OTS Bridgeport, Fairfield, & Trumbull chapter. "Providing housewarming packages with those basics needed to run a household helps restore their self-esteem and encourages them to move forward.”

Off the Streets began as a grassroots movement in Danbury and has taken root in the greater Bridgeport area. Since its founding in 2009, OTS has assisted over 300 people. Because OTS is a 100 percent volunteer based charitable organization without a physical office, there is virtually no overhead—approximately $20 per month per chapter covers insurance, P.O. Box, and the OTS website. All other funds directly support OTS’s mission. Additionally, due to their relationships with landlords, property managers, and social services OTS can act very quickly—often transitioning a homeless client into a furnished room or apartment in as little as two to fourteen days. OTS operates in Danbury, CT; Lancaster, PA; Huntington Beach, CA; and Bridgeport, Fairfield, and Trumbull, CT. For more information about OTS, please visit

Easter Message from Bishop Caggiano
| April 04, 2015


Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano,
Bishop of Bridgeport

Our world often gives us many reasons to wonder about our future, or even to lose hope.

In growing parts of the world, the evil of terrorism, famine, war and violence seem to be getting worse by the day.

In our own country, more and more people are being left behind economically because of unemployment, discrimination, lack of training and poor education. Growing numbers of families are facing a variety of stresses and challenges that strain many people to their limits. And the list of problems goes on and on.

Despite all these challenges, today we raise our minds, hearts and voices to proclaim that “Jesus is Risen, He is Truly Risen”! By His resurrection, we believe that the Lord has conquered all that enslaves humanity, most especially the scourge of sin and the power of death. There is nothing that will not healed in Christ. Despite our struggles, there is truly a real and lasting reason to have hope and that reason is not something but someone. It is the Risen Lord!

Believing in the Resurrection will not automatically heal all the challenges we face in our ordinary lives. The healing we seek will come when we cooperate with Christ’s Risen Grace, leave our sins behind and help transform the world with Christ’s Love, one person at a time.

Today let us be encouraged and empowered by our Catholic faith. Jesus has conquered all evil and sin and invites us to taste the fruits of His new Life each time we love as He did. We can stand firm in hope because Christ has already won the victory for you and me. Let us rejoice and be glad!

May the Lord bless you and all those whom you love with a Happy and Grace-filled Easter.

Click here for a slideshow from the Easter Vigil

Easter vigil celebrates “Light of Christ”
| April 03, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will celebrate the Easter Vigil Mass tonight at 8 pm at St. Augustine Cathedral, 399 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport.

“As we wait to celebrate the Great Vigil of Easter, celebrating the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the Church asks us to wait in quiet and reflection today,” said Bishop Caggiano.

“It is interesting to note that there is no Holy Saturday liturgical service. The Vigil celebrated tonight is the opening of the eight- day celebration of Easter. By omitting any service proper to Holy Saturday, the Church is reinforcing the need for us to stay still and quiet in eager anticipation of what lies ahead. As we sit before the tomb of Christ, let us watch, wait and learn.”

The Easter Vigil is the most beautiful liturgy in the Roman Catholic Church. It begins outside the front doors of the Church with the lighting of the Paschal Candle as the “Light of Christ.”

“May the light of Christ, rising in glory, 
dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds,” intones the priest as he lights the candle. The congregation then processes into the Church behind the Cross, which is lifted three times, as the priest sings, The Light of Christ, Lumen Christi (Light of Christ) and the congregation responds, Deo gratias (Thanks be to God).

During this service adult catechumens are received into full communion with the Church.

For information on Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday Masses in parishes throughout the Diocese, download the new diocesan APP from the Apple stor and Easter services in parishes throughout the Diocese, download the new diocesan APP from the Apple store or visit the Find a Parish section at

See slideshow from last year's Easter Vigil

Stations of the cross photos
| April 03, 2015


STAMFORD—Stations of the cross were lead by Bishop Frank Caggiano, Pastor Fr. Gustavo Falla, Fr. Montoya, Fr. Marcel Saint Jean and Fr. Joseph Gill from Cummings Park to St. Mary Church in Stamford. 

The readings were done by members of St. Benedict/Our Lady of Montserrat and St. Mary parishes.

Slideshow Set 1, pictures by Sharon Macknight

Slideshow Set 2, pictures by Amy Mortensen

Bishop Caggiano’s Reflection on the Cross
| April 03, 2015


Since the time of the apostles, much has been written about the Cross, trying to explain its spiritual and theological meaning. Many of the greatest spiritual writers have written sermons and reflections that highlight one or more aspects of the meaning of the Cross.

However, there is a way to reflect upon the Cross that you can do anytime of the day, as long as you have time alone to reflect. It is allowing the very image of the cross to help explain its meaning. More specifically, the two physical wooden beams that form the Cross can each teach us an important lesson about the meaning of what happened on Good Friday.

The Cross is made up of two wooden beams: one vertical that was driven into the ground and the other that was affixed horizontally and upon which the body of the Lord Jesus was first nailed before being lifted in place. Each of these beams point in a different direction: one is vertical and the other is horizontal. Each can teach us a profound lesson of the meaning of Jesus’ death.

Let us begin with the vertical. It literally points to heaven, reminding us that the free sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the Cross was not a noble sacrifice of some hero or prophet. Rather, it was the self-offering of the Son of God for the forgiveness of all sins and the salvation of all humanity. It points to heaven to remind us that the Cross is the entry door to eternal life, opened up for us by God Himself made flesh in Jesus.

For those who were actually present at the Lord’s crucifixion, they needed to look up to see Jesus, so high above them was he lifted upon the cross. As we prepare for Good Friday, we too should never tire looking up, since by His death, the Lord has lifted us up to eternal life.

The other beam of the cross is horizontal, keeping open the arms of the Lord when he was nailed to its wood. The fact that Lord’s arms were opened up so broadly teaches us the second great lesson of the Cross. For as the vertical beam reminds us of the divine gift that we receive in the death of Jesus, namely the offer of eternal life, the horizontal beam reminds us for whom the Lord Jesus died.

In the Gospel Jesus says, “And when I am lifted up, I will draw all people to myself.” The horizontal beam reminds us that Jesus died to save all people. His embrace upon the cross is wide because he invites everyone to enter his embrace: saints and sinners, rich and poor, young and old. The gift of eternal life that was won on the Cross is a gift that Jesus wishes to offer to everyone who is willing to accept it. His love is for everyone. His forgiveness is offered to all who turn to him.

Good Friday Observances
| April 03, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank Caggiano will lead the Good Friday services today beginning at 10:00 am with the Stations of the Cross at St. Mary Church, Stamford, and at 3:00 pm with the Celebration of the Lord's Passion at 3:00 pm at St. Joseph Church, Danbury.

The solemn ceremonies of Good Friday focus on the “Cross of Calvary” and include the Adoration of the Cross, the chanting of the 'Reproaches', the reading of the Passion, and the receiving the pre-consecrated Host.

“On this most sacred day, when the Lord Jesus freely gave himself into the hands of those who beat, scourged, mocked and crucified Him, Love Himself conquered evil, sin, hatred and death. The power of the Evil One was revealed for what it truly is- a complete lie. And the Lord Jesus endured His Suffering and Death to set you and me free. This day is truly good for us because our eternal salvation has been won forever,” said Bishop Caggiano in his Good Friday message.

“His embrace upon the cross is wide because he invites everyone to enter his embrace: saints and sinners, rich and poor, young and old. The gift of eternal life that was won on the Cross is a gift that Jesus wishes to offer to everyone who is willing to accept it. His love is for everyone. His forgiveness is offered to all who turn to him,” said the Bishop.

During services today, the altar is bare, with the door of the empty tabernacle standing open as if in mourning.

The Bishop will also celebrate the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday April 4, 8 pm St. Augustine Cathedral. For information on Good Friday and Easter services in parishes throughout the Diocese, download the new diocesan APP from the Apple store or visit the Find a Parish section at

Click to read Bishop Caggiano's 'Reflection on the Cross'

Tonight we enter into the upper room with Jesus
| April 03, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Holy Thursday is all about the gift of the Eucharist at the Last Supper and it’s also the only day of the year when the tabernacle is emptied and left open, said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in his homily tonight at St. Augustine Cathedral.

“Tonight we enter into the upper room with Jesus and celebrate the great gift he gave to his apostles,” he said to more than 700 individuals and families who filled the downtown Cathedral to celebrate one of the holiest nights in the Church.

The Bishop called upon the faithful to “recommit to live lives of generosity and of love for the stranger and even for our enemies.”

The Bishop said that “in walking with Christ,” we are like the Israelites in the desert who hungered for manna, just as we hunger for the Eucharist. He urged those present to “never take it for granted.”

“The Church asks us to reflect on the gift of the Eucharist, what is calls us to be and what it challenges us to do,” he said.

In a moving and dramatic moment the Bishop washed the feet of eight men and women parishioners of all ages at the foot of the altar, while the faithful watched in silence.

“We are called to do what the Lord did, to give our life in service and in love for one another as he did,” said the Bishop.

Noting that the Eucharist is an invitation “to share a meal,” the Bishop said ,“The Lord asks us to become what we will receive. We are the body of Christ, the presence of Christ in this world. The Lord asks us to receive it so we can become more and more his presence in a wanting world,”

The prayer intentions were read in English, Spanish and Vietnamese, reflecting the diversity of the parish and of the Diocese, which number 400,000 Catholics throughout Fairfield County. In the intentions the faithful prayed for vocations and for all those who are poor, suffering and in danger.

In the sanctuary, the Crucifix over the altar and the statues were draped and veiled in purple. During the offertory, parishioners brought up the oils of catechumens and the chrism that was blessed at the Chrism Mass on Wednesday.

After the Mass was over the Bishop invited the congregation to join him in adoration at the foot of the altar. The Cathedral will be open to midnight for adoration.

Click here to see a slideshow

40 Days for Life Bridgeport Committee and Respect Life Friends gather
| April 03, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—40 Days for Life Bridgeport Committee and Respect Life Friends gather outside the local abortion clinic in Bridgeport this morning for Stations of the Cross.

Thanks to Fr. Gannon, Deacon Foust for leading the Stations and Lucia Palmieri leading us in song. Thanks also to George Meagher, Fred Cobb and Christine Murphy from the local 40 Days for Life Committee in organizing this.

Students stage Passion Play at St. Andrew Academy
| April 02, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—The students at St. Andrew Academy reenacted the events of Holy Week with a Passion Play.

The youngsters made the events of Jesus’ suffering, death, and triumph come alive for the entire school. Many thanks to Mrs. Bues and Mrs. Bode—your direction was awesome! Thank you, also, to Mr. Brown; the music was great!

To view more photos click here

Bishop Caggiano to celebrate Mass of the Lord’s Supper tonight at the Cathedral
| April 02, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the principal celebrant of the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper this evening, 8 pm at St. Augustine Cathedral, 399 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport.

Holy Thursday is one of the most beautiful and profound of all religious observances, saving only the Easter Vigil.

It celebrates both the institution by Christ himself of the Eucharist and of the institution of the sacerdotal priesthood (as distinct from the ‘priesthood of all believers’) at the Last Supper.

“On Holy Thursday, we celebrate the gift of the Holy Eucharist given to us by the Lord Jesus at the Last Supper. How blessed are we to be able to receive Christ’s Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity each time we come to Mass! Is there any greater testimony of the Father’s love for us in allowing us to receive His only Begotten Son so personally and intimately every day?” said Bishop Caggiano.

The Bishop said the Holy Thursday Mass stresses the importance Jesus puts on the humility of service, and the need for cleansing with water, a symbol of baptism. Also emphasized are the critical importance of the Eucharist and the sacrifice of Christ’s Body, which we now find present in the consecrated Host.

“On this special day, let us recall the need to receive the Eucharist worthily each time we come to Mass. This means not simply to be free from grave sin but it also demands that we are both prepared and focused upon what is happening and Who are receiving. In a world that is full of distractions and “noise”, we need to approach the Eucharist fully mindful of the encounter we are having with Christ,” the Bishop said.
“When we receive Holy Communion and say “Amen”, may it mean for us “I welcome you Lord Jesus into my heart, my mind, my soul and my entire life. I am yours.” The Holy Thursday liturgy includes the dramatic stripping and washing of the altar by the priest. During the Mass, Bishop Caggiano will perform the symbolic foot washing in memory of Christ’s washing the feet of his twelve Apostles.

Tomorrow (April 3), Bishop Caggiano will lead the Good Friday Stations of the Cross at 10:00 am at St. Mary Church, Stamford, and a Celebration of the Lord's Passion at 3:00 pm at St. Joseph Church, Danbury. He will also celebrate the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday April 4, 8 pm at St. Augustine Cathedral.

Chrism Mass seals gift of divine friendship
| April 01, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank Caggiano gave his priests two challenges at the Chrism Mass this afternoon, find more time for prayer in their lives and grow closer together as friends and brothers in Christ.

View slideshow from the Chrism Mass

More than 600 priests, deacons and faithful gathered for the annual Chrism Mass in which priests renew their promises and the Blessing of the Oil of the catechumens and the consecration of the chrism.

The holy oils that are used throughout the year in baptisms, confirmations and anointing are blessed on the altar.

"Become an intentional priesthood," he said. "Make the intentional choice to stand shoulder as brothers. Forgive and love one another and come to know Christ better."

The bishop also said that prayer is the foundation of the priesthood and said that priests should never be too busy for prayer.

"If we're living in a house without Christ, it's a waste of time. It will not stand," he said.

The bishop said the Chrism Mass "celebrates the great gift of Divine friendship with the one true God who dwells within you and me."

Under a strong sun and cool April air, the priests and deacons processed into St. Augustine Cathedral for the Mass with drivers in the busy traffic out front slowing down to watch.

The bishop told priests that they have the gratitude of Catholics throughout the diocese "who give thanks for your deep generosity and selfless service, for your joining with people whose hearts are sometimes broken."

The Real Enemy of Joy: Selfishness
| April 01, 2015 • by By Father Paul Check


NORWALK—Commentary: Have we as a society lost sight of a Teacher whose words and actions mark a path for joy and fulfillment of the human heart that never fails?

For many people, ours is a joyless society for want of good relationships. There is a great deal of physical intimacy today.

But there is also a terrible plague of loneliness, regret and unfulfilled hearts, afflicting many of those who are physically intimate with another person, and sometimes with several other people.

Is this a coincidence? Is there a remedy?

I distinguish joy from things that eventually fade like pleasure, distraction or amusement. By “joy,” I mean something that enlivens the heart and enlightens the mind and that brings a deep and lasting sense of fulfillment. While joy bears some relation to the material or external conditions in which we live, it is not reducible to them. People can lack nothing materially and still lack joy. And I grant that in what Christians call a “fallen world”—an imperfect place with imperfect inhabitants—there will always be some measure of pain alongside the joy.

Paradoxically, then, pain is not really the contrary of joy, as the lives of many heroic men and women in this fallen world testify.

That everyone desires joy will not be controversial. Why many do not find it could be. If you believe man has a soul—an organizing spiritual principle, let’s call it, for human activity—then you will give one solution to the problem. If you don’t, then you will give another.

The question of why joy is missing could seem complex. To be fair to individual people, we should not abruptly drop a template on their lives to resolve the matter. Yet Pope Francis describes the effects of a lack of joy as sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. Are these symptoms not common, even among those who seem to live busy, “full” lives? In a spirit of compassion, can anything be done to alleviate these troubles?

If she is to be faithful to her founder, the Pope tells us, then the Church—Christians—must undertake an earnest mission to foster and share joy. “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete,” said Jesus Christ (John 15:11). The proclamation of the kingdom of heaven is the sharing of God’s joy by his Son, in some measure in this life and in the fullness of the life to come. From the Christian standpoint, the human soul is made for joy, for the “good news” the Gospel proposes.

The Gospel distinguishes the pain we suffer through no fault of our own, from the pain we inflict morally, and even physically, upon ourselves. The Church offers meaning to the former by holding up the cross of Christ. She offers relief for the latter—let’s call it sin—by God’s mercy, even as she urges us to avoid self-inflicted wounds. In both cases, she carries out her mission to protect and promote the joy of Jesus Christ.

For Christians, Jesus is Lord. But even those who don’t believe Jesus is who he claims to be recognize the quality of his moral teaching and of his moral character. He was generous-hearted, self-effacing and self-forgetful and thoughtful and practical in his help and counsel … in a word (or two): self-giving. He did not just give assistance to individual people, he gave himself to them … in his time and affection … and, finally, he gave himself for them, at Calvary, so that they could have eternal life. And Christians believe that, his passion and cross notwithstanding, Jesus lived an intensely happy, fulfilled, joyful human life. He came to share what was his: “… that my joy may be in you …”

So here is how I might summarize the path to joy, after the example of the God-Man: Joy comes from giving life by giving self. By “giving life,” I do not mean exclusively in the sense of begetting a new human being, though I am certainly including that. To give life can take many forms, if we understand it to mean building up someone in truth and love.

Even if we do not immediately see the connection between joy and self-giving, we do know that we admire people in proportion to the extent that they give themselves, especially at the cost of much personal sacrifice. So can it be that what we admire indicates what we would like to see in ourselves and, so in turn, how we find fulfillment? If these things are true, then the real enemy of joy is not pain — which may accompany self-giving—but selfishness, something we certainly do not admire in ourselves or in others.

This is why the Church describes unchaste behavior of any kind—contraception, masturbation, homosexual activity—as selfish, because something is missing or misdirected with regard to self-giving. Nor can these things give life, in either the general sense or the more obvious one.

For these reasons, the intensity of personal feelings or sensations aside, these actions are ultimately unfulfilling, even when they occur between two people who love each other.

Experience tells us that what we feel at a given moment may not prove to be good for us and indeed may harm us. Have we lost sight of a Teacher whose words and actions mark a path for joy and fulfillment of the human heart that never fails?

Father Paul Check is the executive director of Courage International.

Reprinted from the National Catholic Register

Immaculate freshman wins Club Z! achievement award
| March 31, 2015


DANBURY—The results are in and the local Club Z! In-Home Tutoring Annual Achievement Award turned out to be a huge success!

Students from all backgrounds and with all level of skills and abilities had the opportunity to showcase their individual talents in an attempt to win over $10,000 in scholarship prizes. A fantastic effort was made by all applicants and winners were ultimately chosen on National and Local levels.

Local student Kelly Cordova, a freshman at Immaculate High School, was selected as a Fairfield County Award Winner. Kelly will be presented with a cash prize of $100 to award her winning endeavor.

Open to students with all levels of talents and abilities, the Club Z! Annual Achievement Award is awarded to students nationwide twice each year, in Fall and again in Spring, and has something to offer for all students in grades 5 through 12. Whether a student is a steadfast scholar or has shown steady improvement, a helper in the classroom or a leader on the field, can write a thoughtful essay or is a math whiz, the Club Z! Annual Achievement Award has something for all.

Cash scholarship awards totaling $10,000 will be presented to winning applicants nationwide at their schools. Winning entries are judged based on performance, service, merit and achievement. Students are encouraged to apply for the Spring Award period before the deadline of April 1. Nominations for the Spring Award are now being accepted on line at or through Area Director Deborah Frati at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

New England Girls Champs!
| March 31, 2015


FAIRFIELD—St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School JV Girls Basketball team won the C.Y.O. New England Championship on March 29. 

Congratulations to team members (l-r) Caitlin May, Anna Paulmann, Scarlett Rollins, Lauren Herley, Clare McCurley, Elizabeth Crager, Maeve Malloy, Grace Hyland, Isadora Siguenza and Shannon Redgate. Coaches (l-r): Fred Paulmann, Sean Malloy and head coach Dave Hyland

World-wide Knowledge
| March 31, 2015


DANBURY—Knights of Columbus McGivney Council #29 in Danbury held its Fifth Annual Regional Catholic Geography Bee on March 28, with 19 students representing eight schools (Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton, St. Mary in Ridgefield, St. Joseph in Danbury, St. Peter in Danbury, St. Gregory the Great in Danbury, St. Mary in Bethel, St. Joseph in Brookfield, and St. Rose of Lima in Newtown).

Cameron Reichenbach about to receive his third-place awards
from ((l-r) Burns, Stockmann, Lanni, and. On right is John Pitrelli,
Geography Bee Chairman, Knights of Columbus McGivney
Council #29 in Danbury.

Peter Burg, Charlie Stuhr, Cameron Reichenbach

The Knights, and two representatives from Immaculate High School had a blast celebrating their accomplishments!

Reggie Stuhr, in Grade 6 at St. Mary School in Ridgefield, won the bee by applying his knowledge of Bangkok, Manila, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua in the 11th and final elimination round, after advancing to that point by answering questions about the Kilauea volcano, the Mediterranean Sea, and Liberia among others.

Peter Burg, in Grade 6 at St. Gregory the Great School in Danbury, achieved second place answering questions ranging from the Great Lakes to Indonesia.

Cameron Reichenbach, in Grade 6 at St. Rose of Lima School in Newtown, won the third-place award with his knowledge spanning from Pearl Harbor to Sri Lanka.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Celebrating the Fraternas
| March 31, 2015


The Marian Community of Reconciliation (MCR), commonly known as the Fraternas, celebrated the 24th anniversary of their founding with a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Trumbull on Wednesday, March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano was principal celebrant and Father Joseph Marcello, pastor of St. Catherine’s, was the homilist. About 100 congregants attended the special 7:00 pm Mass.

The Fraternas were founded in Lima, Peru, with a charism to imitate the virtues of Our Blessed Mother and to evangelize the culture in which they serve, with a special outreach to youth. MCR is a missionary order, and in less than 25 years, it serves the universal Church on four continents. Presently, in addition to their work around the world, Fraternas serve in four dioceses in the United States, and have been working in the Diocese of Bridgeport since 2005.

As he began the anniversary Mass, Bishop Caggiano asked God to “bless the Fraternas here in this diocese and throughout the world.”

It is fitting that the Fraternas were founded on the Feast of the Annunciation. Like Jesus, they took flesh and became present in the world. As Jesus was sent, and as the Archangel Gabriel was sent to Mary, so too the Fraternas have been sent by God to evangelize the world. Their growth and success confirm God’s blessing.

Ironically, as Father Marcello illustrated, March 25 is also the birthday of one of the great saints of the Church, St. Catherine of Siena. In a church named in her honor, Father Marcello drew comparisons between St. Catherine and the charism of the Fraternas. Like St. Catherine, Father Marcello said that the Fraternas “serve those who are searching for Jesus Christ.” Their devotion to Our Blessed Mother, symbolized by the distinctive Cross they wear, helps them to mirror “Mary’s joyful ‘yes’ to the Word of God.” Speaking directly to the Fraternas gathered at the Mass, Father Marcello said, “May your ‘yes’ be the instrument for the salvation of many souls and help set the world on fire with God’s grace.”

During the prayers of the faithful, the congregation prayed together that “the members of the Fraternas may be women of prayer and humility.”

After Communion, Bishop Caggiano addressed the Fraternas directly and said, “Your gentle, faithful and joyful spirit is like leaven,” adding that the Fraternas have “made a tremendous difference in the lives of many people in the Diocese of Bridgeport."

Before the final blessing, Bishop Caggiano reminded everyone that next year will be a much grander event, when the Fraternas celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of their order.

After Mass, all were invited to a light reception in the church hall.

(More information about MCR can be found at

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Celebrating the Fraternas
| March 31, 2015 • by By Father Colin McKenna


TRUMBULL—The Marian Community of Reconciliation (MCR), commonly known as the Fraternas, celebrated the 24th anniversary of their founding with a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Catherine of Siena Church on Wednesday, March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano was principal celebrant and Father Joseph Marcello, pastor of St. Catherine’s, was the homilist.

About 100 congregants attended the special 7:00 pm Mass.

The Fraternas were founded in Lima, Peru, with a charism to imitate the virtues of Our Blessed Mother and to evangelize the culture in which they serve, with a special outreach to youth. MCR is a missionary order, and in less than 25 years, it serves the universal Church on four continents. Presently, in addition to their work around the world, Fraternas serve in four dioceses in the United States, and have been working in the Diocese of Bridgeport since 2005.

As he began the anniversary Mass, Bishop Caggiano asked God to “bless the Fraternas here in this diocese and throughout the world.”

It is fitting that the Fraternas were founded on the Feast of the Annunciation. Like Jesus, they took flesh and became present in the world. As Jesus was sent, and as the Archangel Gabriel was sent to Mary, so too the Fraternas have been sent by God to evangelize the world. Their growth and success confirm God’s blessing.

Ironically, as Father Marcello illustrated, March 25 is also the birthday of St. Catherine of Siena, a great saint of the Church. In a church named in her honor, Father Marcello drew comparisons between St. Catherine and the charism of the Fraternas. Like St. Catherine, Father Marcello said that the Fraternas “serve those who are searching for Jesus Christ.” Their devotion to Our Blessed Mother, symbolized by the distinctive Cross they wear, helps them to mirror “Mary’s joyful ‘yes’ to the Word of God.” Speaking directly to the Fraternas gathered at the Mass, Father Marcello said, “May your ‘yes’ be the instrument for the salvation of many souls and help set the world on fire with God’s grace.”

During the prayers of the faithful, the congregation prayed together that “the members of the Fraternas may be women of prayer and humility.”

After Communion, Bishop Caggiano addressed the Fraternas directly and said, “Your gentle, faithful and joyful spirit is like leaven,” adding that the Fraternas have “made a tremendous difference in the lives of many people in the Diocese of Bridgeport.”

Before the final blessing, Bishop Caggiano reminded everyone that next year will be a much grander event, when the Fraternas celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of their order.

After Mass, all were invited to a light reception in the church hall.

(More information about MCR can be found at

St. Matthew Knights of Columbus Bring New Meaning to Outreach Week!
| March 31, 2015


NORWALK—As the Knights of Saint Matthew Church celebrated their Orderwide Outreach Week; one of the Diocese of Bridgeport’s most active councils inspired many thru a variety of projects all designed to help those in desperate need.

St. Matthew Council #14360 in Norwalk had it’s most active week in the seven and a half year history of the Council!

“It’s amazing what can be accomplished when we all work together for the common good. From fundraising activities to painting and positioning church pews; Knights demonstrated a new meaning of “faith in action!” There truly are no “little projects” when it comes to helping those in need,” said Grand Knight George Ribellino.

On Saturday, March 21st, the council hosted its 6th Annual St. Patrick’s Day dinner. This annual fundraiser nets the largest donations of the liturgical year. Thanks to the generosity of both council members and St. Matthew Parish family, over $4,000 was raised for their charitable fund. These funds are used to help a wide variety of charitable causes in the greater Norwalk area including Malta House and Homes for the Brave. “I have to thank our wonderful parishioners and guests who made this such a wonderful, fun event,” said event co-chairman and Deputy Grand Knight Scott Criscuolo.

On Sunday March 22nd and in honor of Founder’s Month, the council held a commemorative Mass and refreshments at St. Matthew’s Church to honor the venerable Fr. Michael McGivney on the 133rd birthday of the Order.

As part of our normal bi-weekly business meeting on Wednesday March 25th, the council made a substantial donation and held a collection of items for St. Matthew’s Food Pantry. As we enter the Easter season; we had learned that the pantry was in desperate need of supplies. “I’m proud and inspired by the tremendous spirit of giving that my brother Knights exhibited and for their generosity in helping families in need,” said past Grand Knight and committee chairman Mike Colaluca.
During the weekend of March 27-29 the brothers of Council #14360 were performing acts of good work throughout the city of Norwalk. From helping set up St. Matthew’s Living Stations of the Cross service on Friday evening to helping renovate the chapel at Notre Dame Convalescent Home throughout the day on Saturday. Brother Knights provided great assistance to Knight Al DiGuido with his “Al’s Angels Easter Basket Assembly” which provides over 2000 Easter Baskets to children and families battling cancer, rare blood disease and severe financial hardship.

Grand Knight George Ribellino continues to have great pride and is inspired by the passion and commitment of his council in doing great work. “These brother Knights, from retired to working, always come together for the common goal of helping those less fortunate.”

K of C St. Matthew Council #14360 is located in Norwalk and their fundraisers help many local organizations around the city, such as Malta House and Foster Care Agency of Connecticut. Check out for more information.

Diocesan Retreatants "visit" with St. Paul
| March 30, 2015


STRATFORD—Snow and freezing rain did not hold back over 100 people who gathered at Our Lady of Peace Parish, Stratford on March 28 for the Diocesan Lent retreat which focused on the life of Saint Paul.

The retreat began with morning Mass celebrated by the pastor Father Nicholas Pavia. His homily focused on Saint Paul which set the stage for the retreat.

Glenn Smith travelled to Connecticut for a live, one-man performance, where he acted out Saint Paul’s captivity. He captivated the audience and after the 90-minute performance, there was time for reflection questions. Then the retreatants were led in a Lectio Divina on the conversion of Saint Paul from Acts chapter 9. All were given the opportunity to share reflections from the retreat and Glenn was available for Q&A. 

The responses were very positive from the retreatants. Some included: “It was a beautiful and very inspiring half-day Lenten retreat. St. Paul will be with me in such a different way now.” “It was by far one of the best retreats I have ever been to.” “What a great, great retreat! Loved, loved, loved the play!” This retreat was organized through the Office of Adult Formation. For upcoming events contact Gina Donnarummo at 203.416.1446 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). More information regarding Glenn Smith and his ministry can be found at:

St Joseph High School Students Take the Penguin Plunge for Connecticut Special Olympics
| March 26, 2015


WESTPORT—More than sixty St. Joseph High School students and faculty members braved the stormy weather, cold waters and low tide of Long Island Sound on March 14  at Compo Beach in Westport for the annual penguin plunge to benefit the Connecticut Special Olympics.

St. Joseph High School Penguin Plunge Team Photo.

St. Joseph High School Students brave the Long Island Sound on Saturday, March 14, 2015 during the Penguin Plunge to Benefit the Connecticut Special Olympics.

The St. Joseph student team has collected well over $15,000 for the cause. Nancy Dennin, moderator for the Special Olympic Club and chair of the math department, said, “I couldn’t be more proud of our students’ enthusiasm, dedication and spirit. They are an amazing bunch of people. I go home crying after this event, their compassion for the organization and our athletes never ends.”  The Connecticut Special Olympics is very dear to Dennin, as her son David, who is thirty-nine and born with Down’s Syndrome, has participated in the last 16 plunges and over time raised close to $90,000 on his own for the Special Olympics.

Teens gather for Praise and Pizza
| March 26, 2015


BETHEL—Praise and Pizza was a hit once again!

For the third time in the past few months, teens from St. Mary (Bethel), St Rose (Newtown), St. Joseph (Danbury) and more gathered for fellowship and adoration.  About over 300 teens and adults have attended this event since its inception; the group offers pizza, Adoration, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation every other month.

This event is hosted by St. Rose and St. Mary parishes, and is open to all high school youth. If you or your youth group is interested in attending the next Praise and Pizza event, please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Chess masters celebrate win
| March 26, 2015


NEWTOWN—Members of the St. Rose of Lima School Chess Team participated in the CT Association of Schools Chess Tournament in March at CH Booth Library in Newtown.

(l-r) Torin Kearney, Evan Johnson, Cayman Chacchia and Logan McAloon

Students played against 49 other players from the area. Third grader Evan Johnson (Newtown) tied for third place in the 3-4th grade section, Torin Kearney (Newtown) in fifth grade finished second in the 5-6th grade section, Cayman Chacchia (Woodbury) also in fifth grade tied for third place in the 5-6th grade section and sixth grader Logan McAloon (Sandy Hook) just missed receiving a trophy in the 5-6th grade section. chess club(l-r) Torin Kearney, Evan Johnson, Cayman Chacchia and Logan McAloon.

Standing up for God in a secular society
| March 26, 2015 • by By Joe Pisani


The commuter train out of Grand Central Terminal was short two cars, so people were packed in the seats, shoulder-to-shoulder. It was the perfect end to another perfect day in Manhattan. Nevertheless, everyone was relieved to be on board and going home, so they could put their heads on the pillow and get up and do it all over again.

In the silence before the train started to pull out of the station, someone sneezed and then sneezed again. A fellow who was reading his Kindle, instinctively said, “God bless you ...” But then, his voice trailed off, as if he suddenly realized he’d done something socially questionable by mentioning God in unfamiliar company—by mentioning God in a fiercely secular society where religion is routinely attacked on editorial pages and in university classrooms. There was no “thank you.”

Times have changed. In the past, mentioning God was perfectly natural for men and women of faith. Now, you never know what’ll happen. Crazy as it seems, the only people who enjoy so-called “freedom of expression” are the ones who insult religion.

This fellow realized he had committed … a politically incorrect faux pas by “God blessing” someone, which could have led to an altercation if the person sneezing was an atheist.

Like most of us, he’d probably been raised in a family where you were taught to say, “God bless you” to someone who sneezed, but we live in strange times when it’s more socially acceptable to use four-letter words than to say the name of God or Jesus reverently.

And there’s certainly no shortage of people who use God’s name irreverently. Remember the Second Commandment, which we learned in catechism, “Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain”? It was number two out of ten, so that must say something about its importance.

However, in the entertainment industry, on city streets, in the workplace and in casual conversation, the only time people utter the name of God and the name of Jesus freely and forcefully is when they’re cursing. How tragic is that?

St. Paul had a different view. He told the Philippians that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

What has changed so much in a few decades? For one thing, atheists have become more aggressive, and they resent any public reference to God in social gatherings, in the classroom, at Christmas, in speeches, in the Pledge of Allegiance, in political gatherings and on playing fields. But our hesitation to say “Jesus” and “God” in public is more than just catering to the whims and demands of a misguided few.

We feel uncomfortable in mixed company because God has become controversial in our secular society. Professors are disciplined if they profess orthodox Christian beliefs, students in public schools have their Bibles confiscated, and the athletes who invoke God are ridiculed or treated as embarrassments. Look at the field day the media had with Tim Tebow and his professions of faith.

Boston College professor and author Peter Kreeft claims that the name of Jesus in particular makes people uncomfortable. He says, “Test it in any secular company. The name Jesus will fall with a thud, and produce sudden silences and embarrassment. You not only hear the embarrassment, you can feel it. The temperature drops. Or rises. It never stays the same.”

Nowadays, there’s a lot of anger against organized religion, especially against Catholics, because our beliefs conflict with the prevailing social agenda, which supports abortion, assisted suicide, pornography, the hooking up culture and every other form of acceptable vice.

But it’s time to bring our faith back into the public square in big ways and in small, whether it’s one “God bless you” on a crowded train or in a crowded doctor’s office—or defending our faith when it’s belittled at social gatherings.

If you can do only one small thing every day, say, “God bless you” when someone sneezes. Say “God bless you” when someone is troubled and needs encouragement. Say “God bless you,” if for no other reason than to share God’s love and give him glory.

And never forget what Jesus said: “Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

Joe Pisani has been a writer and editor for 30 years.   

‘To God who gives joy to my youth’
| March 26, 2015 • by By Thomas H. Hicks


By Thomas H. Hicks

As an altar boy, I memorized and rehearsed the Latin responses from that white card with red and black print and stiff lamination. The first dialogue between priest and server was:

Priest: (in Latin) “Introibo ad altare Dei” (“I will go onto the altar of God”).

Server: “Ad Deum qui laetificat iuventutem meam” (“To God who gives joy to my youth”).

My childhood was immersed in Catholicism, and it did bring joy to my youth. Those were the years of novenas, May and October devotions, benedictions, sodalities, Holy Name Societies, keeping nine First Fridays—which guaranteed a holy death.

My life was circumscribed by Catholic culture. It was the very soil in which I was planted. I grew up in a world of scapulars, first-and-second class relics, plenary and partial indulgences (I collected indulgences like autographs), votive candles, the Angelus. It was a world of statues and religious medals, holy water and holy cards—all that Catholic paraphernalia. My father took me to Holy Name breakfasts and rallies. I played sports on CYO teams.  

Masses were in Latin where we knelt at a marble altar railing and, lest the Blessed Host fall onto our unconsecrated hands, hid them under the draping of a railing-long linen cloth. Each Sunday Mass had its quota of what we altar servers called “the sharpshooters”—men on one knee in back, waiting for the sermon to signal them to sneak out for a smoke. We altar boys set special value on priests who could gallop through a Latin weekday Mass in twelve minutes flat.

When I got to Catholic school, I didn’t experience any of the horror stories that some people tell. I had wonderful Sisters. They were funny, smart, kind. I cleaned chalkboards, dusted the erasers, carried out the wastebasket for them.

To a great extent, it is the sounds I remember: the ring of church bells in the spring twilight; the whisper of First Communion dresses; the dialogue between two sets of hand-held bells during processions; the lilting cadence of the Litany of the Saints; the wailful sweetness of the

Pange Lingua; the peculiar charm of the Tantum Ergo; the turbulent, insistent, almost defiant “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name.”

It was a time when convents and seminaries teemed with life. In the early 1960s, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Astoria, Queens, there were seven resident priests, nineteen hundred children in the parish school, a reputed twenty-five thousand parishioners, more than a dozen nuns teaching in the school, and fifteen Masses on Sunday morning in three different locations.

I cherish my Catholic upbringing, the Catholicism of my youth. It was mainly a devotional Catholicism. But these devotions remain something I associate with the joy of smooth youth and good health, with the time I glowed with future promise and dreams were bright and only beginning, the time of uncomplicated faith.

But the devotional world I grew up in, by and large, has disappeared. The Church of my youth is gone. Some try to restore that Church, make a determined effort to go backward. But an historical epoch has come to an end. There are leftovers from this vanished era, but there is a new era and a new spirit, for the better.

I do not believe in the same way I believed as a youth. But I continue to have a Catholic sense of reality, a distinctive Catholic vision. My life remains grounded in Catholicism.

The faith gives me a bigger life to live, a larger world. It opened for me a world of great depth and beauty, a world of intellectual vigor.  

Alec Guiness, speaking of the Catholic Church, said, “We collect more bizarre followers of Christ than many.” True. But I enjoy being with Catholic people. When I am with them, I have the sense that this is my country. I speak its language. I’m at home. I’m happy to be there. I enjoy being among other Catholics. They generally have a sense of humor about themselves. There is a Catholic zest for life.

It is not difficult to find people who describe themselves as “recovering Catholics.” Friends from Catholic high school slipped out of their Catholicism like an old, unwanted sweater. The attrition has been enormous. But the faith has been my anchor in life. It has brought me an equanimity and confidence. I have received so much comfort from my faith throughout my life. And the Catholic faith is a good religion to die in.

P.S. Speaking of things Catholic, a recent experience assured me that, although the Sisters left, St. Vincent’s Medical Center maintains its Catholic atmosphere. I had a medical procedure performed by Dr. Lawrence Muldoon and his team. Dr. Muldoon is a doctor of assured competence who combines with an unfailing gentle kindness and humor. His co-workers and nurses also reflect those traits. They were all unfailingly kind, wonderfully considerate, and effortlessly forbearing and obliging. This extended to the older gentleman volunteer. St. Vincent’s hospital is a most hospitable place.

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

Forgiveness and Heroism during Lent
| March 26, 2015 • by By Matthew Hennessey


A Dad’s View
By Matthew Hennessey

Lent is a time for preparation. I’ve always been bad at that. Waiting ain’t my thing.

Lent is a time for sacrifice. I’m bad at that, too. Self-denial ain’t my thing either.

But I read many writers who say, “No, self-denial isn’t the point. Lent’s a time for coming closer to God.”

I don’t know about you, but I’d love to have a closer relationship with God. The challenge for me is execution. Almsgiving, fasting, prayer—for me it feels like work. I can do it, but I need a little inspiration. This year I’m finding it in unlikely places.

The kids are learning about the Black Death—the plague pandemic that killed as many as 200 million Europeans from 1346-53. It’s not a pleasant topic. One fact jumps out: priests were especially hard-hit. The mortality rate for the general population during the Black Death was 30 percent. For priests, it was closer to 45 percent.

It’s not hard to see why. Priests heard deathbed confessions. They did a lot of anointing. Close contact with the sick almost always led to infection. Infection usually meant death. One plus one equals two.

Here in the twenty-first century, we can do the math. But in the Middle Ages, no one knew about the germ theory of disease. They presumed the plague was God’s punishment. They thought that if you got sick you’d probably done something to deserve it. The multitudes of priests getting sick and dying pointed to one conclusion—the Church was corrupt and her priests were sinful. No good deed goes unpunished, eh?

It was a bum rap. The priests of the Black Death were brave and selfless, going where no one wanted to go, doing what no one wanted to do. And dying for it.

That’s a small but useful bit of inspiration, via my kids’ history books. Keeping our Lenten promises may seem hard, but not nearly as hard as ministering to the doomed.

Most of the original apostles died as martyrs. I find that inspiring. It’s also the best evidence I can think of that Jesus was—and is—what he claimed to be. The apostles knew him. They experienced his ministry. They witnessed the passion and resurrection.

You wouldn’t give up your life for a maybe, would you? I wouldn’t.

The apostles weren’t the only ones to lay down their lives for Christ. St. Thomas Becket of Canterbury was murdered for refusing to play nice with political authorities. We could use some of that spirit today.

St. Maximilian Kolbe volunteered to take a condemned man’s place at Auschwitz. That kind of selflessness only comes from one place—a relationship with God so close it transcends everything.  

But, you say, World War II was 70 years ago. The Black Death was almost 700 years ago. It’s not so easy to find examples of Christian heroism these days.

Not true. Open the newspaper. The world hasn’t changed much. Christians all across the Middle East are being slaughtered for their faith.

“What’s ISIS?” my daughter, Clara, asked my wife, Ursula, the other day. The best questions come out of the blue. Luckily, I married well. Ursula steered the conversation away from the death merchants of ISIS to the bigger picture.

All around the world, many thousands of people refuse, daily, to deny Christ even when doing so might help them avoid torture and death. Clara finds that inspiring. I pray she never faces that test. The fact is: We won’t all be martyrs. That’s not God’s plan. As St. Paul wrote in his First Letter to the Corinthians, however, we are called to be holy.

Most of us fall short on that as well. It’s okay. Even St. Peter denied Christ a time or three. Jesus forgave him nonetheless. Just like he forgives you and me when we struggle to live up to our Lenten promises.

Lent is a time for preparation. Prepare to be forgiven.   

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

Kiros moments
| March 26, 2015 • by By Denise Bossert


Catholic by Grace
By Denise Bossert

The Greek words chronos and kairos always remind me of Frank Kermode’s book The Sense of an Ending—required reading for my M.A. comprehensive exams at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Not that I wrote anything profound that awful day. I received a B on my comprehensive exams though I had trended toward A’s throughout graduate school. I choose to blame my performance on the migraine that rendered the experience a blur.

I remember three writers from the long list of required reading for comprehensive exams. Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot. The Writing Life and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. And Kermode’s The Sense of an Ending.

I might have known that I was headed for a massive conversion—for I have forgotten most of the other things I read in the months of preparation for comps, but those were the things that remained and took up residency in my long-term memory.  If you took them all and ground them up with a mortar and pestle, you might end up with words like Catholic and mystery and contemplative and writer.

It is where I was headed—though I didn’t see it coming.

But there is something special for me about the notion of kairos. A time for each thing. A season. A changing-over and rendering-up. Dropping nets to follow. Or abandoning the now for the unexpected call. The sense of an ending. And of a beginning.

When you talk about such things, others stare. They don’t get it. They don’t sense the crook of God’s finger. The hook of the Shepherd’s staff. They see no mandate to go. To follow. To pick up a pen. Or a cross. Or both.

There is something beautiful—and painful—in accepting the call one receives in these kairos moments.

You try to get others to understand, but there is no way they truly can, not being in your skin. Not being in your head as the thoughts bounce around and stir the soul.

The most one can hope for is for one’s spiritual director to affirm the call. It’s enough. A nod from him and a nod from grace—that’ll do.

Kairos. The changing time. A blank page. Who needs January 1st to set new things in motion? God just needs today. A deep breath. A teeny tiny fiat.

It’s not that the miraculous is about to happen, just his holy will for you. And maybe that is miraculous, in the ways that healing and wholeness and deliverance and restoration are miraculous. Somehow, you know it. You begin to perceive it.

The words on the blank page are written in invisible ink—the kind of ink that fills God’s pen. And your spirit is the secret decoder that unlocks the hidden script. You see the words. And you begin to realize—so that’s what I’ve been called to do. That’s where I am called to go. It’s been that all along.

“Okay, let’s do it. So be it, amen,” you say.

You drop your nets and walk away from what was to embrace what is to come.

It is the moment you are ready for God’s plan for you.


Not tick-tock clock time. Not the hour of a particular day of a specific month of the year. Not chronos. This is Kairos.

A season. The season for changing. And now is the acceptable Kairos.

It’s Lent. Repent and believe the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Ground everything down with your own mortar and pestle. And offer that to Our Lord.

Yes, now is an acceptable time.

Denise Bossert is a national Catholic writer and columnist.

Unholy political positions in the Holy Land
| March 26, 2015 • by By Tony Magliano


Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano

As the minds and hearts of Christians throughout the world focus on the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, we naturally think of the Holy Land.

Throughout much of history, in the land where the world’s savior taught human beings to love one another as he loved us, instead of experiencing love, Palestinians have often experienced the great suffering of injustice, war and foreign occupation.
And today the story is sadly much the same.
In the Occupied Territories of the West Bank in Palestine, Israeli government and military oppression is very real, and yet under reported by corporate owned U.S. media sources.
According to B’Tselem ( – an Israeli human rights organization comprised of academics, attorneys and members of the Israeli parliament (Knesset) – tens of thousands of hectares of the West Bank including farmland, has been seized from Palestinians by Israel, so that hundreds of thousands of Israelis could populate more than 200 Jewish settlements established in the Palestinian West Bank.
The International Court of Justice ruled that these Israeli settlements are illegal. It also decreed that the Israeli separation barrier of walls, barbed wire and trenches in the West Bank is also illegal.

This barrier – built overwhelmingly in occupied territory – effectively takes more land away from the Palestinians, and prevents many Palestinians from normal access to their vineyards, olive groves and fields.  

A friend of mine, Dusty Tyukody, participated in an educational trip to the West Bank sponsored by Friends of Sabeel North America ( – an ecumenical Christian peace organization. She emailed me a photo she took showing Palestinians herded like cattle into a narrow passageway where they stood for a long period while waiting to pass through an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank city of Hebron.

Another injustice according to B’Tselem is that Israelis living in the West Bank enjoy an unlimited supply of running water all year round, while Palestinians are allotted a small fixed amount, resulting in constant water shortages.

In many ways the situation in Gaza is even worse. With an Israeli land and naval blockade in place, Gaza is known as the world’s largest outdoor prison.  

And last year’s Israeli military offensive against the militant group Hamas in Gaza resulted in the deaths of 1,462 civilians, including 495 children according to the United Nations. This offensive also leveled much of Gaza, leaving many with little to no water, food, or habitable shelter.

The U.S. annually gives Israel approximately $3 billion – mostly in military aid – with virtually no conditions. Instead, the U.S. should demand Israel end all injustices towards the Palestinians, and commit to a timetable towards the finalization of a viable independent Palestinian nation and a secure Israel.

Please go to the “US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation” ( and sign the petition.

And visit and click “join the campaign.”

Also, kindly consider making a donation to help our suffering Palestinian brothers and sister by going to Catholic Near East Welfare Association ( and under “ways to give” click “Palestine.”

At the conclusion of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2009, he said “Let it be universally recognized that the State of Israel has the right to exist, and to enjoy peace and security within internationally agreed borders. Let it be likewise acknowledged that the Palestinian people have a right to a sovereign independent homeland, to live with dignity and to travel freely. Let the two-state solution become a reality, not remain a dream.”

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.

The way of the cross
| March 26, 2015 • by By Tony Magliano


Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano

Writing a column on social justice and peace offers me plenty of timely issues to choose from. And I always truly sense from God the exact issue he desires that I write on.

I’m not claiming here any special revelation. God’s active, guiding presence is available to everyone. All we need to do is deeply trust, quietly listen and patiently wait.

Now in my case, God knows I’m on a deadline. And almost always his Spirit graciously gives me plenty of lead time. But regarding this particular column, the Spirit seemed to be silent, that is, until I visited a parishioner at the Little Sisters of the Poor’s home for the elderly in Baltimore.
On their grounds, amidst a lovely wooded area, stand 14 Stations of the Cross depicting Jesus’ grueling walk to Calvary. At each station stands a rough, life-size wooden cross with a stone craving revealing a different scene along the Lord’s painful route to his crucifixion.

On that day several inches of snow covered the path along the stations. But I decided that a little snow down my shoes was a small price to pay for the deep spiritual reward that awaited me.       

And so I made my way to the first station of the cross: “Jesus is condemned to death.”

There I meditated on the stone carving depicting our innocent Lord standing humbly before Pontius Pilate. Washing his hands as though that empty gesture could clean him of guilt, Pilate cowardly turned Jesus over to those who would kill him.

How often do we in our lack courage, in our comfortableness, in our self-centeredness, in our silence, wash our hands of our responsibility to do the right thing—for peace, for the war-torn, for the unborn, for the poor and hungry, for the sick, for the homeless, for the undocumented, for the prisoner, for the earth?  

Next stop, the second station: “Jesus takes up his cross.”

He, who was without sin, took on all the ugly sins of the world, nonviolently purified them, and gave them back to us as unconditional love.

Here we are starkly reminded of Jesus’ words: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

When all else has failed, our suffering, our cross, can lead us out of selfishness to selfless love – the essential virtue needed to experience the salvation won by Christ.

Therefore, carry our cross we must! There’s no way around it.

The late, highly esteemed theologian Father Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote, “It is to the Cross that the Christian is challenged to follow his Master: no path of redemption can make a detour around it.”

Authentic discipleship also demands that we earnestly help carry the cross of our suffering brothers and sisters near and far; knowing that in the process we are also mystically helping to carry our Lord’s cross.
Next, I prayed at the third station, the fourth station, and onward until I reached the 12th station: “Jesus dies on the cross.” Looking back I saw the path my steps in the snow had made, and deeply felt that to a certain degree I had made the way of the cross with Christ.

And, more fully, I realized that his journey did not end in death, but of course in the awesome joy of the resurrection!

But also, I understood more deeply that in our Christian journey toward the resurrection, the cross must always come first.

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.

New Diocesan Youth Choir announced
| March 25, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has announced plans for the formation of a Diocesan Youth Choir that will sing in large diocesan liturgies with the bishop and at prayer services and other select performances.

The choir will draw students from grades 8-12 throughout the diocese. Auditions are expected to begin this spring.

“The Youth Choir will energize the entire diocese,” Bishop Caggiano said. “Not only will it involve youth in a formative activity but also celebrate their faith, their energy and the excitement they bring to the Church.  Their voices will be a great gift to us and help to revitalize our liturgies as so many people have requested in our synod process.”

Deacon John DiTaranto, special assistant to the bishop, said plans call for the new choir to be previewed at the Closing Celebration Mass of the Synod on Saturday, September 19, at the Webster Bank Arena of Harbor Yard in Bridgeport. Pending execution of the venue contract, the full choir is scheduled to perform at a youth Christmas concert set for next December at the Norwalk Concert Hall.

The diocese is in the process of hiring a choir director who will be responsible for the musical programs and overall administration of the choir, he added.

“The Diocesan Youth Choir will foster awareness of music as an integral part of worship, and help to build self-esteem through successful group singing and instrumental accompaniment,” said Deacon DiTaranto, who noted that young singers will learn music and performance skills as they rehearse and sing for select liturgies.

“We hope that young people from all of our parishes and schools are represented in the new choir,” he said.

Auditions and open houses for the new choir will be held throughout the diocese in the Spring and Summer.

While the choir will be introduced at the Closing Celebration of the Synod, the first public performance of the full choir is set for the special Christmas concert in Norwalk. This concert has been named C4Y (Concert For Youth), as funds generated from it will be used to support diocesan youth programs including the new Bishop’s Scholarship Fund. It is expected that C4Y will become an annual showcase of the Diocesan Youth Choir. Rick Ryan of Black Rock is serving as overall management and marketing coordinator of the concert.

(For more info on the youth choir, or if you are interested in sponsorship opportunities, contact Rick Ryan: 203.331.6858.)  

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
“Successful” Youth Ministry: Walking the Cross in Norwalk
| March 24, 2015


The first theme of Synod 2014 is “Empower the young Church.” Fostering the full, conscious and active participation of young people in parish life is a primary goal of the synod and it is also a primary concern for many clergy, religious, youth ministers and lay volunteers.

Father Boccaccio blesses the cross at St. Philip's Church.

St. Jerome's Parish takes the cross from St. Philip's.

St. Jerome's walks the cross.

Father Blanchfield leads the cross home.

Out of the more than 80 parishes in the Diocese of Bridgeport, only 20% (roughly) have “successful” youth ministries. The word “successful” is subjective, but a successful Catholic youth ministry in the Diocese of Bridgeport would include some or all of the following elements:

1.    The youth ministry (i.e. youth group) meets regularly and is under the direction of qualified, experienced Catholic youth leaders.
2.    The youth ministry has a substantial number of regular participants.
3.    The youth ministry is strongly supported by the parents and families of the participants.
4.    The youth ministry is sustainable, and ideally, has been sustained for a number of years.
5.    The clergy and religious of the parish support the youth ministry and are actively involved in its success.
6.    The youth ministry has “alumni” who return to be of assistance and who even assume adult leadership roles in the ministry.
7.    The youth ministry has several annual Catholic “events” to rally around.
8.    The youth ministry is something that younger parishioners look forward to joining.
9.    The youth ministry has a strong identity that transcends parish boundaries.
10.   The youth ministry has a strong and responsible presence online and in social media.

Parishes take different approaches to youth ministry. In too many cases, outside of religious education, parishes have no program targeted specifically to fostering the faith formation of young people. The reasons for this are often financial. Other reasons include a lack of initial interest among the youth of the parish; a lack of dedicated, qualified adults to lead the group; the inability of interested parishioners to foster the level of sustained support needed to have a successful youth ministry; and sadly, clergy who are not interested in being directly involved in youth ministry.

Parishes that enjoy successful youth ministries are usually very committed to their youth activities and programs. Because larger parishes have a ready pool of participants who may be eager to participate in youth activities, it is usually easier for large parishes to enjoy success with youth ministry. Larger parishes are also more likely to have the financial resources needed to fully support youth ministry.

Larger and wealthier parishes in the Diocese of Bridgeport are often able to hire full-time, professional youth ministers to administer their youth programs. If the program flounders, pastors are able to replace youth ministers who are not achieving “success.” This approach works in some parishes, but in other parishes it can lead to an endless rotation of youth ministers. One of the keys to a successful youth group is stable adult leadership. The most successful youth ministries have often been under the direction of the same leadership team for many years.

In larger and wealthier parishes, it is easy to imagine how a pastor might place his hopes on “professional” youth ministers to do the job, but youth ministry rarely thrives without direct clergy involvement. A Catholic priest cannot simply “outsource” the youth ministry of his parish and expect it to be a success. There is no simple answer to clergy involvement in youth ministry as more parishes have only one full-time priest assigned, and as the average age of the clergy keeps climbing. Priests in their 60s and 70s may naturally be less inclined to be actively involved in youth ministry and in activities for youth.

Another route that some parishes take is the dedicated lay-leader who may be paid or volunteer. Even parishes with limited financial resources should consider paying their youth ministry leaders, as the commitment needed to have a successful and sustainable youth ministry can be intense. Between Virtus and other paperwork and certifications needed to protect participants and the Church, leading youth ministry is certainly a “job.”

Parishes that rely only on volunteer youth ministry leaders may have difficulty finding adults who are willing to be involved in youth leadership for sustained periods of time. In short, as the need for more effective youth ministry is increasing, the difficulty of achieving success in youth ministry is also increasing.

Examples of Success

Two successful youth ministries in the Diocese of Bridgeport can be found in Norwalk, at St. Jerome Parish and at St. Philip Parish. Clergy, religious and interested lay-leaders should reach out to the longtime pastors of these parishes (Father David Blanchfield and Father Michael Boccaccio respectively), who may be able to reveal some of the secrets of their success. At the very least, Fathers Blanchfield and Boccaccio can discuss how their youth programs are structured (i.e. paid or volunteer ministers, etc.).

Successful youth ministries focus on activities that young people will find fulfilling. Recently, St. Philip Parish hosted a “30-Hour Famine” that yielded great results. Many young people from parishes in the greater-Norwalk area participated, and all participants received special T-shirts to wear during and after the event.

As with many ministries in the life of a parish, most parishes in the Diocese of Bridgeport try to remain islands. That is, collaboration between neighboring parishes is usually minimal. Sadly, most pastors view neighboring parishes as “competitors” for collection and ACA dollars. More enlightened pastors seek out opportunities for collaboration, and few ministries are as ripe for collaboration as youth ministry.

Smaller and less affluent parishes can easily “piggyback” on successful youth ministries offered by nearby parishes. Neither St. Jerome’s nor St Philip’s in Norwalk is particularly large or affluent, but their pastors and parishioners are fully committed to supporting youth ministry. In other words, youth ministry in each parish is a major priority.

Youth ministry in Norwalk is actually a microcosm for ways to “Empower the young Church” throughout the diocese. Among the Catholic parishes of Norwalk, youth ministry is increasingly collaborative and inclusive. Smaller, less affluent parishes that may not have established youth ministries have been invited by St. Jerome’s and St. Philip’s to participate in common efforts, like the famine, and most recently, a Lenten journey called “Walking the Cross.”

On Sunday, March 15, parishioners of the seven Catholic parishes in Norwalk were invited to help carry a large wooden cross from one church to another, linking the parishes in a special way during Lent. Each parish was responsible for carrying the cross from one parish to the next and then handing it off. This was the first year for the “Walk”, and Father Boccaccio remarked that the event offered a very visible “display of unity among the seven parishes of Norwalk.”

Obviously, this was an activity that was very appealing to the Catholic youth of these parishes, and the participation of young people in this effort was very substantial. The actually walking with the cross was performed in silent prayer, with the Rosary and singing too!

Participants were able to give visible and viable Christian witness to the world through their actions, and young people usually embrace the opportunity to give Christian witness. Such experiences imprint their minds and spirit and help them better live their faith. In fact, from my experience, Catholic youth usually love giving Christian witness and participating in Christian activism.

The Walk began with 9:00 am Mass at St. Matthew’s and ended with 6:00 pm Mass at St. Jerome’s (which is a scheduled youth Mass, complete with drums and electric guitar). In total, the cross traveled nine miles by the time it reached St. Jerome’s. The seven participating parishes are as follows: St. Matthew; St. Ladislaus; St. Joseph; St. Thomas; St. Mary; St. Philip; St. Jerome.

At the conclusion of the event, Father Gilbert D’Souza, pastor of St. Joseph, thanked “St. Philip’s for conceiving the idea, and planning and organizing the ‘Walk.’ The best part of it was its simplicity. I would be happy to see it become a fixture.”

Simplicity may be a key to successful youth ministry. The “Walk” cost very little in terms of money, but it had all of the ingredients of a successful youth activity. By beginning and ending with regularly scheduled parish Masses, parishioners were also able to feel involved in the effort even if they themselves did not or could not do the walking. Involving the larger communities also allowed participants to be recognized by and give witness to their parish communities and to the world at large.

Finally, as evidenced by the accompanying photos, the “Walk” was fun. Young people love to laugh and enjoy themselves, and when they can join laughter and joy with Christian witness, everyone comes out a winner. Empower the young Church!

(More photos can be found on the Facebook pages of St. Jerome and St. Philip).

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Catholic School Standouts
| March 23, 2015 • by By: Brian D. Wallace


BRIDGEPORT—While the country immerses itself in March Madness, local sports fans have much to be proud of here in Fairfield County.

St. Joseph High School cheerleading team on the national title and Fairfield Prep pulled off a stunning victory over Westhill High School of Stamford to win the state LL hoop title. Meanwhile, Notre Dame High School of Fairfield recorded a great season, while other Catholic schools produced championship teams. Congratulations to all of the scholar-athletes in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Please click the links below to learn more about these exciting stories:




Mother Dolores Hart says “love” animates contemplative life
| March 22, 2015


FAIRFIELD—“Kick the devil” in the backside and begin loving those who are close to you and the many more you meet in everyday life, Mother Dolores Hart told more than 200 in attendance at the 7th annual Educators Communion Breakfast at Sacred Heart University.

“One thing that life has taught me is that as a contemplative, my search for God finds resonance in the person sitting next to me, the person who just spoke, the person who asks me something. By loving we discover ourselves.”

Dressed in her trademark beret over her nun’s habit, she was every bit the Hollywood actress and cloistered nun as she held the gathering spellbound with stories about legendary movie stars and her own sudden decision to enter the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut at the height of her fame in 1963.

She said that she didn’t leave Hollywood behind because she continues to pray for everyone she met in Hollywood and they are a part of her life.

“Looking for the light in the other person’s eyes and heart,” she said, speaking in a soft and clear voice. “What do they see that I can’t see? It’s a shock to learn that each human being is totally unique and original in a way that only God understands.”

The former Dolores Hart still seemed amazed by her vocation and said that her job now is to “learn to pray better.” Noting that she prays seven times a day “and in the middle of the night.,” she said it is an act that also unites her with all those “who carry something through the night.”

The woman who starred alongside Elvis and Anthony Quinn said that she was 17 and Elvis only 20 years old and wildly famous when they met on the set. In between scenes he invited her to his room, where he read the bible to her. “I was dumbfounded by the simplicity of this man. He had already been on the Ed Sullivan Show, and I never expected to be in a room with him and have him read the bible to me. He was very accepting and open,” she said.

She said that she tells many people who don’t know what to do with their lives to follow their inner voice. “Hold the truth, hold the love, no matter how lousy it gets,” she said, adding that the best way to follow God’s will is often to fathom your own and to choose to love.

Prior to her talk Fr. William Sangiovanni, President of Notre Dame Catholic High School in Fairfield, was presented the CAPP Educator of the Year Award.

His brief and heartfelt acceptance remarks were followed by a standing ovation for his service as a priest and educator.

Telling the gathering that he just celebrated his 38th anniversary as a priest, Fr. Bill said he was filled with gratitude and “thank God for the gift of life.” He said his mother played an important role in his life along with “two amazing women,” his Grandmother Muldoon and his Grandmother Sangiovanni.

He said that the trust that students placed in him has been one of the great honors of his life.

The morning started out when Bishop Frank J. Caggiano celebrated Mass in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit on the Sacred Heart University campus. Referring to Catholic educators as “ambassadors of God’s love to the world,” the bishop said told them “that your mission and mine has everything to do with the cross.”

He said that Catholic schools welcome everyone “because we are all loved by the Father now and forever.”

The Annual Educators Communion Breakfast is sponsored by CAPP (Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice), a lay group that promotes Catholic Social Teaching, and Sacred Heart University. For information contact

Click here to view photos.

Bishop outlines “principles” for implementing Synod initiatives
| March 21, 2015


TRUMBULL—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano called for a commitment to “substantial and lasting change” as he outlined seven guiding principles for implementing Synod recommendations in parishes and ministries throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Speaking to 320 delegates and observers who braved the remnants of a snowstorm on the first day of spring, the Bishop said the 2014 Synod was an invitation to “create roadmaps to vital and vibrant communities.”

His talk on the spirit and methodology of renewal of the local Church galvanized the delegates and was greeted by a standing ovation at the 4th General Session of the Synod held at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Trumbull.

While the delegates reviewed best practice models and other initiatives for parishes, the bishop said he didn’t want a strategic plan that “will be shelved in 90 days,” but an ongoing “conversion of individuals and the entire diocesan family” to the “city of everlasting life.”

The bishop said he is not interested in imposing programs from the top down but in giving individual parishes the flexibility to design their own programs, while maintaining the larger “communion” and unit of the diocese. He said his goal was for the diocese to become invisible while parishes become more visible, and that it will require accountability from all involved.

“No one parish can do everything on its own, and some things can only be done by the diocese,” he told delegates, noting that the work of the Synod reflects the “theology of accompaniment” outlined by Pope Francis.

“The journey of faith of individuals must be respected one person at a time,” he said, adding that the real work of the Synod begins after the closing of the conclave when the implementation process begins.

He said the Synod will lead to the development “of a new body of leadership in every parish,” and that he will ask all parishes as well as diocesan programs to set measurable benchmarks for change.

Noting that there is inherent tension as the Church seeks to preserve what it does best, while also undergoing change, the bishop called for a spirit of collaboration that does not simply mean compromising on individual goals, but “allowing Christ to take the lead.”

The bishop’s talk followed morning presentations on best practices and models of ministry by guest speakers.

“When we encounter Jesus Christ, our lives change,” said Eric Gallagher Diocese of Sioux Falls, SD, Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry.

He told delegates that youth programs must “cultivate an atmosphere of discipleship” and meet young people based on where they are.

Gallagher said that many of our youth are now “experiencing Christ outside of the Church,” at other Christian music events or youth festivals.

Referring to such activity as “pre-evangelization,” Gallaher said he sometimes takes youth from his own parish to Christian events because they can help young people grow and share the faith. He added that the Church should also be confident in its own outreach to youth because it has “Christ in the Eucharist. ”

“The new Evangelization calls on us to do something different,” he said. “Young people will go where they are fed.”

Jim Lundholm-Eades of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, said that he has spoken to eight synods across the country and that the challenges faced by the Diocese of Bridgeport are very much in line with other dioceses.

He said that change comes out of a “discernment process that’s not about the will of the people but the will of God.”

Lundholm-Eades said context of leadership in parishes and the Church has been affected by “constant change” over the past decade with “Catholics now going to parishes where they are fed not where they live.”

He said parish leaders must be gifted at gathering people, creating dialogue, and even dealing with “dissonance and disintegration” in the face of change and uncertainty.

“We are people of the Resurrection. If we remain faithful, there is light at the end of the dark night,” he said.

Husband and wife team Pete and Claudia Roux of St. John Church in Darien gave an upbeat presentation Changing Evangelization models identified in the “Amazing Parish Conference” and Forming Intentional Disciples.

They also described ways from the personal to the social that Catholics can invite others to renew their faith.

“We must meet them where they are and support them in their journey,” said Pete Roux. He added that Easter is a great time to reach out to Catholics who may only come to Church once a year, and he recommended that parishes work on strategies to make them feel welcome.

In the closing presentation of the 4th General Session, Deputy Synod Director Patrick Turner urged delegates to talk up the Synod in their own parishes.

“Many Catholics are still unaware that the Synod is taking place,” in spite of efforts by many pastors and delegates to inform parishioners, he said. He expects interest to build as the Synod begins to identify solutions and initiatives for renewal.

The 5th General Session is set for Saturday May 9 in Trumbull. The 2014 Synod will conclude with a Mass of Thanksgiving and celebration to be held at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard on Saturday September 19 at 10 am. For more information visit the Synod 2014 website at

View slideshow from the Synod session