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Ernie Anastos: Positive on Faith and Community
| October 30, 2014


DANBURY— “Whatever you enjoy doing every day will be the avenue to your success,” WNYW Fox 5 News Anchor Ernie Anastos said this morning at the Annual Catholic Charities of Danbury Celebrity Breakfast.

Noting that most people want “more, better or different,” Anastos said that a life in pursuit of success can leave people feeling empty if they live without a higher purpose. “Don’t just strive for success, strive for significance.”

Click here to see a slideshow

The event, with its Greek themed breakfast in honor of Anastos, raised $60,000 to support the work of Catholic Charities in the greater Danbury area. It was recorded and some of it will be used on the 6 pm broadcast of “Positively Ernie” on WNYW-TV.

The Emmy Award winning news anchor said the advice came from his grammar school teacher and he often shares it with young people as he encourages them to “follow their passion” in life.

Speaking to a gathering of more than 300 friends of Catholic Charities of Danbury in the Amber Room, the Hall of Fame broadcaster said that his Greek Orthodox faith has always been an important part of his life.

“The number one in my life is God. I can’t imagine living a life without faith,” said Anastos in a talk that mixed humor and wisdom. He was introduced by Danbury Mark Boughton, who proclaimed October 30 as “Positively Ernie Anastos Day” in the city.

Anastos has ties to Danbury through his late grandfather who was a priest at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church on Clapboard Ridge Road in the city.

Mayor Boughton also praised the work of Catholic Charities for helping to serve “the 580,000 people who live in the ten towns of the greater Danbury region.

Anastos, who grew up in Nashua New Hampshire, fell in love with radio as a boy and practiced being an announcer in a pretend studio. He got his first break hosting a Saturday show for teens on WOTW, a station that he later bought.

His first real job was at WRKO, Boston’s biggest radio station, where he was asked to change his name to Ernie Andrews. “Anastos” was a bit too ethnic, so Ernie reluctantly changed his on-air name with his father’s blessing. But when he landed his big break in TV on Channel 12 in Providence, he restored his real name, which has since become a household word in the northeast.

Anastos clearly enjoyed working the audience and asking questions of those in attendance.

“I love being with live people,” he quipped, noting that millions watch Fox News or get it through digital sites but he never really knows who’s watching. “I focus on my Aunt Eva who lives on Park Avenue in Bridgeport, because I know she’s watching every night.”

Anastos said he was excited about the opportunity to design and host “Positively Ernie,” an upbeat newscast that focuses on positive stories. He urged those in attendance not to be overwhelmed by all the negative news but to try to make a difference in their own communities.

Bishop Frank Caggiano delivered the invocation and Fr. Samuel V. Scott, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Danbury offered the welcome. The Reverend Peter Karloutsos of Assumption Greek Orthodox Church gave the final blessing.

Amber room Chef Chris Hatzsis paid tribute to Anastos with a Greek themed breakfast including miniature parfaits of Greek yogurt, Galaktoboureki (Green pastry filled with cream) and a toasted baguette with grilled tomato, feta cheese and a Loukaniko (sausage) garnish.

The Fall Celebrity Breakfast was co-chaired by Catholic Charities Advisory Board members Lisa Donovan, Saint Edward the Confessor Parish, New Fairfield, Claudia Menezes and Sally Savoia, both of St. Mary Parish in Ridgefield.

Catholic Charities programs in the greater Danbury area include the Behavioral Health Clinic, Family Loan, Morning Glory Breakfast (at Dorothy Day House), Homeless Outreach Team, Community Support and Recovery Pathways, and New Heights for those struggling with mental illness.

Catholic Charities Danbury has served people of all faiths in the greater Danbury area since 1939. The main office is located at 405 Main Street, Danbury.

Pink for one of their own
| October 29, 2014


STAMFORD—On Friday, October 24, Trinity Catholic High School held an especially meaningful Go Pink Day for breast cancer. The school held an assembly in the gym where speakers read statistics and facts about breast cancer. Then students listened with intent silence while Assistant Principal Diane Warzoha, who is currently undergoing treatment for the disease, spoke about her personal experience and expressed her gratitude for the school's support. At the end of the day Trinity’s students made a human angel in support of the cause. The day’s observance raised over $1,000 for the Bennett Cancer Center at Stamford Hospital.

Pope urges prayer, international action to fight Ebola virus
| October 29, 2014


By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis pleaded for the international community to take stronger, coordinated steps to "annihilate" the Ebola virus and help the millions of people impacted by the disease.

"As the Ebola virus epidemic worsens, I want to express my deep concern for this relentless illness that is spreading particularly on the African continent and especially among populations that are already disadvantaged," the pope said Oct. 29 at the end of his weekly general audience.

Pope Francis offered his prayers and solidarity with the sick, as well as with the doctors, nurses, volunteers, religious orders and humanitarian agencies working "heroically to help our sick brothers and sisters."

"I ask you to pray for them and for all who have lost their lives," the pope said.

The day before the pope's appeal, Caritas Internationalis -- the umbrella organization for Catholic charities around the world -- announced it would hold a special meeting in Rome Nov. 4 to coordinate ways to increase the work Catholic charities are doing in response to the epidemic, especially in West Africa.

"At this point, it's not only about preventing Ebola. We're also called to care for the thousands of healthy people who were already poor, who have no access to healthcare for other illnesses and whose lives have been turned upside down by this crisis," said U.S. Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo, the Caritas health adviser.

"This is a shattering emergency. We need to strengthen the response of Caritas and our collaboration with other Catholic Church organizations as quickly as possible. Our brothers and sisters cannot wait," Msgr. Vitillo said.

The priest also said the organizations would discuss ways to "respond to the global reactions of panic and of stigmatizing that are directed at West Africans, migrants from the region, and even at returning health care volunteers."

The World Health Organization reported Oct. 25 that "10,141 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola virus disease have been reported" in Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Spain and the United States, as well as previously in Nigeria and Senegal, where the disease reportedly has been contained. As of Oct. 23, the report said, 4,922 of those infected had died.

Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' overseas aid agency and a member of Caritas Internationalis, announced in late September that it has committed more than $1.5 million to anti-Ebola efforts in West Africa.

5K run, walk draws 250 in Newtown
| October 28, 2014 • by Danbury News Times


NEWTOWN -- "The spirit of St. Rose" was everywhere Sunday as 250 participated in St. Rose of Lima School's 5K run and walkathon at the Fairfield Hills campus. The fifth annual event was sponsored by the Catholic school's parent-teacher organization. Rob and Amy Griffin have organized each 5K run and walkathon, attracting the Newtown community each year.

"We've had a fabulous response from the beginning," Amy Griffin said. "It brings the entire family of St. Rose together." The event reached its $20,000 fundraising goal as of Friday. Raffle prizes were donated by school families, while silent auction items were donated by Newtown and Bethel businesses.

For link to story in Danbury News Times click here

Recipients honored as “missionaries of hope” at St. Augustine Medal Service
| October 25, 2014


BRIDGEPORT (Saturday Oct 25, 2014)-- After praising more than 130 St. Augustine Medal recipients for their “generous and loving service to the Church,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano also issued a challenge to them during today’s St. Augustine Medal of Service ceremony.

“I commission you to go out to be my missionaries of hope to the rest of our Church, and to invite them to follow in your footsteps,” the Bishop said in a brief homily. “And in this year of the Synod, let us pray that they rise to the challenge because we need every single one of them.”

2014 St. Augustine Medal Nominees (Download PDF)Click to view a slideshow of the ceremony

To view photos of recipients go to

More than 700 friends and family members filled St. Augustine Cathedral in downtown Bridgeport to offer prayer and praise for the recipients.

In the early afternoon ceremony on a day sparkling with sunshine, the Bishop began his remarks by thanking medal recipients for their long-time service to parishes and the diocese.

“I am very grateful for your service, your generosity, your witness and your faith,” he said. “Today is a celebration of that service as love made concrete in your witness. Often in your silent way, you become the presence and face of God to those who need it the most.”

During the prayer service and program, one by one the honorees came forward with their pastors to receive their medals from the Bishop. Many couples were also among the recipients.

Speaking to almost 900 people who filled St. Augustine Cathedral in downtown Bridgeport, Bishop Caggiano said it was fitting that the medals of service are named for St. Augustine because “he wrote one of the most beautiful sermons ever written in generosity.”

The names of the medal winners were read from the altar by Sister Mary Grace Walsh, Superintendent of School, and Al Barber, President of Catholic Charities. William McLean, Chief Development Officer of the Diocese, presented the medals to the Bishop for distribution.


At the end of the service, recipients were given a standing ovation and invited to a reception at Kolbe Cathedral High School.

After the prayer service, which included a the singing of Psalms and a reading from the Jeremiah (More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? The Lord alone…”), the Bishop blessed the bronze medals with an engraving of St. Augustine on the front and the seal of the Diocese of Bridgeport on the reverse side.

“Wear your medal often,” the Bishop urged the men and women, “so people asked what is it? And you can invite them to receive it as well by following your example of generous and loving service. May the medal you wear outside always reflect the goodness of your heart on the inside.”

The November 15 issue of Fairfield County Catholic will include photos of all recipients. They will also be posted on line as soon as they are available.

Remembering the diocese after we are gone
| October 28, 2014 • by Father Colin McKenna


On Thursday evening, October 16, I was feted along with a small number of other clergy and lay people at the bishop’s residence in Trumbull. After a moving, personal Mass with Bishop Caggiano as principal celebrant and homilist, I along with the other attendees was inducted into the Saint Augustine Legacy Society.

The bishop presented me with a membership lapel pin and a certificate of induction worthy of papal honors. When he tried to attach the pin to my lapel, he drew blood (just kidding!). Finally, we were led into the dining room where we were treated to home-made pizza, sandwiches, various salads, and scrumptious home-made desserts.

Never have so many honors and privileges been showered upon me for having done so little!

Now for a little background. A few weeks ago, Bill McLean, chief development officer for the diocese, stopped by my office in the Catholic Center and placed an invitation in front of me. He asked me if I had received the invitation, and I admitted that I had received it but I had failed to RSVP that I would not be attending. I apologized, thinking that determining whether or not I was coming to the Mass and induction ceremony and reception was the primary purpose of his visit. But he continued.

He asked me if I had checked off a little box on the form when I had made a contribution to the Annual Bishop’s Appeal. The box indicated that I had remembered the diocese in my estate. Now I had to go further and explain that I had considered the invitation but that I was not interested in becoming a member – even an inaugural member – of the St. Augustine Legacy Society.

When you are dealing with someone in development, it is best to remember that fundraising professionals can be persuasive. The next thing I knew, I had agreed to become an inaugural member of the St. Augustine Legacy Society. This is the stuff of which fine obituaries are made!

For whatever reason, I have always been quite responsible about having a will. I think I had my first one when I was about thirty years-old. Now that I am fifty, I need to bring my will back to my lawyer for a tune-up.

It has always been a given that I would remember the Diocese of Bridgeport in my estate, and whatever I leave to the diocese will be an unrestricted gift. Since entering seminary twenty years ago, and after fifteen years as a priest, the diocese has been unwavering in its support of me. There are instances where I could claim that I was treated unfairly here and there, or that I was not shown proper respect (excuse me!), but by and large, the Diocese of Bridgeport has shown me unconditional love and nurturance. In that sense, the diocese has been like a parent to me, imperfect but loving.

My hope is that when it is my time to meet Jesus face to face, I may be able to leave more to the diocese in dollar terms than I received in salary and benefits during my time as a priest. That is a lofty goal, but God-willing, I will leave something to the diocese in my estate that can help the bishop at that time with his fundraising goals and objectives.

Remembering the diocese in my estate is an act of thanksgiving to God for having called me to serve as a priest in Fairfield County, where I was born and raised. Contributing the Annual Bishop’s Appeal is easy to do, thank God. And it was even easier to check off that little box, indicating that I have remembered the diocese in my estate.

Little did I know when I checked off that box that I would become an inaugural member of the St. Augustine Legacy Society. If you, too, think that you have what it takes to be inducted into the St. Augustine Legacy Society, please contact the development office at 203.416.1479.

They say that you cannot buy heaven, but…

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Brian A. Wallace Deserves a Medal
| October 28, 2014


The communications office in the Catholic Center houses the offices of the Fairfield County Catholic, which produces a monthly newspaper mailed directly to over 100,000 households in Fairfield County. On a daily basis, the communications office is also one of the livelier offices in the chancery because clergy and staff from other offices often stop by to ask for assistance with projects involving printed material and online efforts, including social media outreach.

The communications office staff consists of fewer than ten people, but two of them have the same name: Brian Wallace. This can lead to some confusion, but surprisingly, things run fairly smoothly, even when someone comes in and asks for “Brian.”


Brian D. Wallace is the director of communications, which includes being executive editor of the Fairfield County Catholic (print and online) and being diocesan spokesperson.

Brian A. Wallace works in the communications office as the creative art director. Presently, he is working on a new safe environments manual that will be 80 pages long. It is expected that 30,000 copies of the manual will be printed and distributed to parish staff and volunteers throughout the diocese.

Someone suggested a helpful mnemonic for me when trying to remember which Brian has the middle initial “A” and which one has “D.” The trick is to remember that Brian A. Wallace has the “A” for “art”!

Whenever a large diocesan Mass is to be celebrated that requires a program, Brian A. is called upon to produce something as attractive and detailed as required. He recently produced a one volume program for the priests at their convocation which included texts, music and prayers for all of their liturgies.

His most recent work of art, for which he is to be lauded, is the new St. Augustine Medal, given each year to outstanding parishioners and staff who serve the Church above and beyond the call of duty. The medals were awarded this past weekend, and undoubtedly, many marveled at the beauty of their award.

Not one to take all of the credit himself, Brian wanted to make sure that the contributions of last summer’s intern were also recognized. Over the summer, intern Anna Lynette Speight drew an image of St. Augustine from another image and then used her computer skills to create a stylized graphic art image of St. Augustine that was used to create the new medals.

In the pictures that accompany this post, Brian can be seen tucked away at his desk in the Catholic Center. He is truly one of the unsung heroes of our diocese!

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The Big Day of Serving
| October 24, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—What a great day! Teens from St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan joined over 400 other volunteers from the tri-state area who spent the day in Bridgeport working to help in 24 service projects. The St. A teens were assigned to the Burroughs Community Garden. They weeded and weeded for hours and then mulched and prepped the soil for next spring, all so next summer those in need in Bridgeport can have fresh food on their table.

They were guided by Laura, a Jesuit Volunteer who led them for the day, and Edie Cassidy who formerly worked for the Diocese of Bridgeport.

After their day on the job, the teens were invited to the Bluefish Stadium for a BBQ the city hosted for volunteers, and had the chance to meet Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch! For the record, the mayor shared that with the man hours that were put in by volunteers—that work would have cost the city $40,000 to complete if they had to pay people to do it! Way to go teens! Thank you for giving up your Saturday to help revitalize Bridgeport at the Big Day of Serving!

The best part of this great day is that St. A’s teens want to go back in the spring and replace the wood partitions around the gardens! “Anyone want to join us???” asks St. Aloysius Youth Minister Chris Otis.

Save the date: next October 17, 2015, the Big Day of Serving returns to Bridgeport. “St. A's will be there!” says Otis. “We challenge every other Catholic Parish in the diocese to join us and invite Bishop Caggiano to come serve with us too!”
Click the link to see the before and after pics of the great job done by St. A’s team

Amazing Parish Conference re-energizes parish life
| October 24, 2014


DENVER—Five parishes from the Diocese of Bridgeport were among the 140 parishes from around the U.S.A. and Canada who gathered in Denver on August 27-28 for the Amazing Parish Conference.

Led by Father Peter Towsley, vicar for evangelization and episcopal delegate to the ecclesial movements of the Diocese of Bridgeport, the parishes represented at the conference included St. Joseph in Shelton; St. Joseph in Brookfield; Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton; St. Aloysius in New Canaan; and St. John in Darien. Pastors, parochial vicars, directors of religious education (DREs), deacons and other lay parishioners were invited to participate.
The conference was put on by the Amazing Parish Movement, a group of committed Catholics from around the United States who want to help parishes by connecting them to great resources.

“The conference was a wonderful instrument in examining, evaluating and renewing the many aspects of parish life,” said Father Cyrus Bartolome, a participant from St. Aloysius. “It is a way to look within the very fabric of parish ministry—what are the things that need to stop, to start and rebuild, to refocus our vision in order to build up the body of Christ, our Holy Mother Church.”

The Amazing Parish website explains: “A parish is probably the most important organization in society—it is where most people come to know Christ and his Church. That is why every parish must strive to be amazing.”

(To learn more, visit the Amazing Parish website:

Tap Dancing Priests Rising to Internet Fame
| October 24, 2014


ROME—A pair of priests from the U.S. are captivating audiences at their seminary in Rome with a tap dance routine that is now garnering hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube.

Click here to view a recent YouTube video.

Click here to view a video from 2012.

St. Catherine of Siena women help to feed the poor
| October 21, 2014


RIVERSIDE—The Women's Guild of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Riverside had a "soup-making" day to raise money to support the work of the Greenwich World Hunger Association.

Twelve women got together to make 100 quarts of lentil soup which was sold after all of the weekend Masses.

It raised enough money after expenses to be able to send a check for $800 to GWHA to help promote its mission: to eradicate hunger one project at a time all over the world.

GWHA currently has projects in India, Guatemala, Peru, Haiti, Nigeria, Kenya, Mozambique and the Philippines. The objective is to fund small projects to ease hunger and enable small communities to develop self-sustaining agricultural projects, water accessibility and purification, prenatal health, educational opportunities, and small business projects to advance the economic well-being of the local populations.

It is lifting people out of poverty one village at a time. And this tiny group in Greenwich has been doing so since 1976. For more info: or visit it on Facebook.Twelve.

Immaculate teens introduce youngsters to XC
| October 21, 2014


DANBURY—A new and exciting sport was introduced to the parochial schools in the Danbury area this fall.

In the first week of September, forty students from five different schools in the area met at Tarrywile Park and were introduced to the sport of Cross Country by members from the Immaculate High School Cross Country team.

The athletes met three times a week over the course of five weeks.

On October 8, the runners met for the Parochial School XC Championship. The race took place over a 1.91 mile hilly course, which proved to be very exciting for both runners and spectators alike with many close finishes. Each runner was greeted by a cheering crowd of fans and a Popsicle at the finish line. Medals were awarded to the top 12 runners and a trophy to the team champions: St. Joseph School in Danbury. Congratulations goes out to all the runners, parents and Immaculate students who made this program a quick success. Much thanks to our very own XC coach, Brian Hayes for leading the effort!

Kindergartners test hypothesis
| October 21, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Predicting buoyancy, kindergarteners at St. Andrew Academy conducted a experiment under the guidance of S.T.E.M. teacher Marilyn Mlynek.

Experimenting with different sized pumpkins, the youngsters first looked at their size and felt their weight,  then made estimates on whether they would sink or float. The most fun came when they tested their theories real-time in a tub of water.

“The first step in the scientific method is the hypothesis,” said St. Andrew Principal Maria O’Neil. The fun-filled activity helps build an attitude of exploration necessary for 21st Century learning.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Indian Summer
| October 21, 2014


Saturday, October 18 (the Feast of St. Luke), may have been the last warm day that we will have for awhile. The pictures of the waterfront that accompany this post were taken near sunset at Compo Beach in Westport, and the temperature was in the 70s. It was warm enough to be comfortable in shirtsleeves despite the brisk ocean breeze.

One of the reasons I wanted to post these pictures is to highlight the effects produced by the different editing filters on my iPhone 5s. For full-diclosure, I do not own shares in Apple (but I am considering buying some!).

I have written about the use of my iPhone in this blog before, and I am happy to report that it is becoming even more indispensable to me as a creative tool.

Someone asked me yesterday if I already have a blog written for Thanksgiving. Somewhat surprised by both the question and the concept, I explained that I much prefer to write my blogs each week, to keep them relevant and fresh. One of the joys of writing a blog is that I usually do not know what I am going to write about until I sit down to write it. Sometimes, I can experience writer’s block and really wonder if I can come up with something. Other times an idea presents itself immediately and I am eager to write about it.

This blog actually began with the pictures of the waterfront, which reveal both the limitations of my iPhone camera and its capabilities. The true beauty of the moment was not really captured by the camera, but the different filters allowed me to present the moment artistically. They are three separate pictures taken in time and from different vantage points. You will notice that the boat has moved in each frame.

After I took the pictures, I wondered how I could build a blog post around them, and then it occurred to me: refer to them in the context of Indian Summer.

Indian Summer is a term that is used rather loosely in the Northeast. Some refer to it as any warm weather after September 21, or the onset of fall. Others are very technical about its definition. The Farmer’s Almanac defines it as a period of unusually warm, hazy weather (in a high pressure system) between November 11 and November 20 after at least one freezing spell or “killing frost.”

For the purposes of this blog, we will maintain a rather loose definition of Indian Summer, but we will keep the criteria of a spell of unusually warm weather after a frost.

Because this blog is written for our diocese in particular, I will assume that our northernmost parish—Holy Trinity in Sherman—has already had at least one hard frost. Sherman is about 40 miles north of Long Island Sound and about 800 feet above sea level. For all I know, it may have already snowed up there! Would someone from Sherman please send me a note by carrier pigeon and let me know if you already have snow?

It was in the 30s along the coast in the wee hours of October 20, so I can safely assume that someplace in Fairfield County (the Diocese of Bridgeport) got frost.

The next step for Indian Summer is the return of unusually warm weather, which at this point would be in the 70s.

After my lovely walk on the beach on Saturday afternoon, I had to take my lemon trees inside from the deck on Sunday afternoon because of the coming cold temperatures. After some arranging and rearranging, I think I have my trees set up just right for their time indoors. They seem happy enough, and my parakeets are delighted to have them inside, placed beside their cage.

Oh, my parakeets! I have not written about them yet. They were a present to myself for my 50th birthday back in June. They were about three months old when I got them and they have been with me now for about four months. Their names are Snowball and Amber.

I did not know if they were male or female when I got them, but I now know that they are both boys. The names I gave them were sort of “unisex” so that I would not have to change them after I learned their sex. My explanation for a boy named “Amber” is that it is short for Ambrose. Hopefully, he won’t suffer any sexual identity issues because of his feminine-sounding name. More on my parakeets later…

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Women of Faith: Conference will focus on vocation of women
| October 20, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—“We as women need to take time for ourselves,” says Gina Donnarummo, diocesan director of adult formation. 

“We need time to come together in a prayerful and spiritual way to explore our dignity and vocation as women.”

The Office for Pastoral Services, with the encouragement of Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, has put together a day-long women’s conference with the theme, “Handmaids of the Lord."

It will be held on October 25 at the Trumbull Marriott. The day will include both breakfast and lunch. Through speakers, Adoration, Confession, veneration of a relic of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross and Mass with Bishop Caggiano, women will be looking at how they can respond to what the Lord is asking of them.

Three speakers will present aspects of that call and response during the conference:

Genevieve Kineke converted to the Catholic faith as a young adult. She was immediately drawn to the question of how women image God. In 2008, she was asked to address the participants of a Vatican congress honoring the 20th anniversary of “On the Dignity of Women”, an encyclical of Pope John Paul II. She will bring her perspective to the conference.

Dr. Dianne Traflet earned a licentiate and a doctorate in Sacred Theology from St. Thomas Aquinas University in Rome, focusing on the life of St. Edith Stein. She will draw on that expertise, at the conference, giving a talk titled: “To Unveil Christ in the Heart of Another: Edith Stein’s Understanding of the Vocation of Women”

Dr. Traflet is associate dean and assistant professor of pastoral theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University, South Orange, N.J. The founder and co-director of the seminary’s new Institute for Christian Spirituality, she currently serves on the Theological Commission of the Diocese of Paterson and the Newark Archdiocesan Advisory Committee for Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests.

Sister Clare Matthiass, CFR, entered the Community of the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, a community committed to following in the footsteps of Saint Francis by living the Gospel and serving the poor, in 1998. She has served as the vocations director and as postulant director, and is currently the community vicar. Sister Clare’s topic for this conference will be, “Dignity and Vocation as Women.”

The conference is sold out with 408 registrations, which include a cross section of the diocese in age, professional background, and geographical distribution across Fairfield County.

“We are pulled in so many different directions today, whether we are at the beginning of our careers, raising children or being caregivers to aging parents,” says Maureen Ciardiello, diocesan Respect Life director. “It is important for us to set time aside to ground ourselves in our Catholic faith to help us navigate the challenges of life.”

Pope beatifies Blessed Paul VI, the 'great helmsman' of Vatican II
| October 20, 2014 • by By Francis X. Rocca, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Beatifying Blessed Paul VI at the concluding Mass of the Synod of Bishops on the family, Pope Francis praised the late pope as the "great helmsman" of the Second Vatican Council and founder of the synod, as well as a "humble and prophetic witness of love for Christ and his church."

The pope spoke during a homily in St. Peter's Square at a Mass for more than 30,000 people, under a sunny sky on an unseasonably warm October 19.

"When we look to this great pope, this courageous Christian, this tireless apostle, we cannot but say in the sight of God a word as simple as it is heartfelt and important: thanks," the pope said, drawing applause from the congregation, which included retired Pope Benedict, whom Blessed Paul made a cardinal in 1977.

"Facing the advent of a secularized and hostile society, (Blessed Paul) could hold fast, with farsightedness and wisdom—and at times alone—to the helm of the barque of Peter," Pope Francis said, in a possible allusion to "Humanae Vitae," the late pope's 1968 encyclical, which affirmed Catholic teaching against contraception amid widespread dissent.

The pope pronounced the rite of beatification at the start of the Mass. Then Sister Giacomina Pedrini, a member of the Sisters of Holy Child Mary, carried up a relic: a bloodstained vest Blessed Paul was wearing during a 1970 assassination attempt in the Philippines. Sister Pedrini is the last surviving nun who attended to Blessed Paul.

In his homily, Pope Francis did not explicitly mention "Humanae Vitae," the single achievement for which Blessed Paul is best known today. Instead, the pope highlighted his predecessor's work presiding over most of Vatican II and establishing the synod.

The pope quoted Blessed Paul's statement that he intended the synod to survey the "signs of the times" in order to adapt to the "growing needs of our time and the changing conditions of society."

Looking back on the two-week family synod, Pope Francis called it a "great experience," whose members had "felt the power of the Holy Spirit who constantly guides and renews the church."

The pope said the family synod demonstrated that "Christians look to the future, God's future ... and respond courageously to whatever new challenges come our way."

The synod, dedicated to "pastoral challenges of the family," touched on sensitive questions of sexual and medical ethics and how to reach out to people with ways of life contrary to Catholic teaching, including divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, cohabitating couples and those in same-sex unions.

"God is not afraid of new things," Pope Francis said. "That is why he is continually surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways. He renews us; he constantly makes us new."

Convocation 2014: Study, Prayer and Fraternity
| October 18, 2014


NEWPORT—On Sunday afternoon, October 12, I-95 was filled with Catholic priests from the Diocese of Bridgeport as they made their way by bus and car to Rhode Island.

More than 160 priests from the diocese attended Convocation 2014. The last one was held in 2010 in the same Newport location, a large hotel/convention center with a chapel adjoining the grounds.

When they arrived on Sunday evening, the priests were treated to an opening dinner and then invited to pray together with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Vespers, a Holy Hour and Benediction.

Monday was the first full day of the Convocation, and it began, fittingly, after breakfast with Mass and morning prayer.

The first presenter of the conference was Robert Wicks, Psy. D., who is on the faculty at Loyola University Maryland. He has authored over 50 books, and his presentation was entitled, “Remaining Calm within the Storm ~ Strengthening the inner life of Priests.” By discussing psychological and classical spiritual approaches to maintaining a healthy perspective and inner strength, Dr. Hicks offered insights into how priests can maintain their equilibrium under stress. In his lively, engaging style, he encouraged the priests to “have an attitude of gratitude!” He concluded that maintaining a healthy perspective can allow priests to find peace in their ministry, a peace and warmth that they can then share with others.

The second presenter was Rev. Alfred McBride, O. Praem., who focused on the recent exhortation by Pope Francis, “The Joy of the Gospel.” Father McBride is an expert in catechesis, and in addition to writing many books during his priesthood, he has also worked in seminary formation, most notably at Pope Saint John XXIII Seminary near Boston, where a number of Bridgeport priests enjoyed his work as a professor.

Father McBride began his presentation by stating that “we all need wisdom,” especially priests who minister in these turbulent times. He encouraged priests to be evangelists not so much by what they say but rather by their witness to Jesus. He encouraged them to focus especially on evangelizing the family.

In addition to the presentations by Father McBride and Dr. Wicks, the priests also participated in a lengthy synod discussion facilitated by Bishop Caggiano, who said, “This is the first of a number of synod sessions we will have together.”

Msgr. Dariusz Zielonka, director of the synod, encouraged the priests to "bring the synod to your parishes.” And deputy synod director, Patrick Turner, hoped that the priests would “engage synod delegates with their fellow parishioners.”

On Wednesday evening, the final evening of the session, the priests gathered in clerical attire for a festive dinner. Casual dress was the order of the day except for the final festive dinner.

In the photos that accompany this article, the priests can be seen at conference, during liturgy and at the festive dinner.

Click to see additional photos from the Convocation

Anglican, Lutheran delegates say synod's concerns are theirs, too
| October 16, 2014 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Upholding the Christian ideal of marriage and family life while also reaching out to those whose lives do not reflect that ideal is a pastoral challenge faced by all Christian communities, said the Anglican representative to the Synod of Bishops.

Anglican Bishop Paul Butler of Durham, England, and "fraternal delegates" from seven other Christian communities addressed the synod Oct. 10. Bishop Butler also spoke to Vatican Radio Oct. 15 as synod members worked in small groups to amend the assembly's midterm report.

He told members of the synod that he and his wife have been married 32 years and have four grown children. Although Anglicans have married bishops and clergy, "like you," he told them, Anglicans "are wrestling with how best to respond" to the challenges facing family life around the world.

"As part of this response," he said, "we want to speak more of the promise of and hope from the family than focus on the threats," while also making it clear that "marriage is between a man and a woman and is intended to be for life."

Still, he told the synod, "families of all types" exist in society and within the church. "We have to minister to and with cohabiting, single-parent and same-sex families. This demands listening, understanding, compassion and care rather than condemnation."

In the Vatican Radio interview, he said that participating in a synod working group and making suggestions, he was looking first of all at "the tone" the synod report would take. "It's about being as positive as we possibly can to families of all make ups, recognizing that within the Catholic confession marriage is a sacrament, but how can the church be as welcoming as it is possible to be to those whose family life is not the ideal."

Being welcoming, he said, "is a way of offering hope to people and introducing them to the Christian doctrine. If we are seen as completely negative, then people won't come near us and they will just dismiss the Christian Gospel."

Lutheran Bishop Ndanganeni Phaswana of South Africa, representing the Lutheran World Federation, also told the synod that his community has been having "lively discussions" about how to respond to "new forms of family and marital relationships." The process, he said, has "created tensions" within the federation.

On behalf of the federation, he thanked the Catholic Church for inviting him to observe the synod's "discernment process and to learn from your discussions on this subject."

St. Rose student wins Parochial League Cross Country Championship
| October 15, 2014


DANBURY—On Wednesday, October 8, the inaugural Parochial League Cross Country Championship meet was held at Tarrywile Park in Danbury.

The cross country trail run was 1.9 miles that challenged runners with rolling hills. St. Rose of Lima School fielded 12 runners at the meet. Fifth Grader, Kayla Ondy was the overall winner with a time of 13:27, under seven minutes a mile, and St. Rose School placed third overall, with 74 points. Five area parochial schools participated, with more than 40 students running.

First Young Adults dance held in Trumbull
| October 15, 2014


TRUMBULL—The first dance by the Catholic Young Adults Group out of St. Theresa Parish in Trumbull was held on Saturday, October 11.

A great night of dancing, food and meeting new friends from all around the Diocese of Bridgeport. We even had visitors from the Diocese of Hartford “Catholic Young Adults of Connecticut”! For information on the Young Adults Group (ages 20s and 30s) at St. Theresa Parish, Main St., Trumbull, email Theresa: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). For a list of other Catholic Young Adult Groups in Fairfield County, and events around the area go to


Click here to view a slideshow.

Eagle Scout Service Project concludes with Solemn Blessing Ceremony
| October 14, 2014 • by By Matthew A. Penza, Life Scout


NEW FAIRFIELD—On Sunday, October 12, a public blessing ceremony of urns was held during the 11 am Mass at St. Edward the Confessor Church as part of Lone Boy Scout Matthew A. Penza’s Eagle Scout Service Project.

The Knights of Columbus from St. Edward Council No. 12968 lent dignity to the ceremony, as did the Knights from the Rev. John D. Kennedy Assembly No. 99, Greater Danbury, who attended with a colorful six-Knight honor guard. Connecticut State Senator Michael McLachlan was also in attendance as an honored guest.

While researching potential projects, Penza found the website of Garden of Innocence, a charity that provides burials to abandoned or unidentified children and stillborns, and assists families unable to provide a proper burial for their young children, saving them from the indignity of being buried unacknowledged in their local Potter’s Field.  

On their website, Penza viewed a video highlighting an event honoring infant Leo Riggs, who had died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and whose family had received assistance from the Garden. This video deeply moved him to give serious consideration to selecting Garden of Innocence as his project beneficiary, a decision firmly solidified shortly thereafter when he read several unrelated news articles spotlighting the use of fetal remains as biofuel in both the United Kingdom and Oregon.

The project consisted of coordinating the planning, building, and finishing of thirty-three wooden urns, as well as their public blessing at a Sunday Mass. The blessing took place immediately after the Liturgy of the Eucharist, with Penza delivering brief remarks and receiving an unexpected standing ovation from the congregation before Father Nick Cirillo, pastor of Saint Edward’s, administered the blessing while the Knights stood guard.  

Carol Matlick accepted the urns at the conclusion of the Mass on behalf of Garden of Innocence National, whose founder, Elissa Davey, later remarked, “These are probably the loveliest urns I have ever seen. The craftsmanship looks remarkable, plus you can tell that this project received a lot of love going into it.  Thank you so much for helping us spread the word… and for being an excellent example of what a true Eagle Scout should be.”

The successful completion of this service project involved coordinating a team of volunteer woodworkers, clergy and staff from St. Edward the Confessor Parish, the Knights of Columbus, Garden of Innocence National, BSA Connecticut Yankee Council, multiple local businesses, various media outlets, and local dignitaries, to all of whom Penza extends his sincerest gratitude for their generous contributions.

Later this month, Penza will go before an official Boy Scouts of America Eagle Board of Review, which will determine whether the rank of Eagle Scout will be officially granted to him.

A transcript of Penza’s remarks as delivered before the blessing follows: 

Matthew Alexander Wm Penza
Life Scout
Lone Boy Scout
Connecticut Yankee Council, BSA

Remarks at Mass Before the Blessing of the Urns
Saint Edward the Confessor Roman Catholic Church
Eagle Scout Service Project for Garden of Innocence National
Transcribed as Delivered October 12, 2014

Good afternoon. My name is Matthew Penza. I am a Lone Boy Scout working towards the rank of Eagle. As my Eagle Scout Service Project, I chose to lead a team of volunteers in planning, building, and finishing thirty-three wooden urns, which today I will be turning over to Garden of Innocence National.  The Garden provides dignified burials to abandoned or unidentified children and stillborns, as well as assisting families who are unable to provide a proper burial for their young children, saving them from the indignity of being buried nameless, unmarked, and forever unknown and unacknowledged in mass graves in their local Potter's Field. Very often, the local Knights of Columbus attend the burial services with an honor guard, and they have been kind enough to attend today.

Several factors led me to choose this as my project. As I was researching potential projects, I found the Garden of Innocence website, and saw an extremely moving video about an event they had in honor of an infant named Leo Riggs, who had died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and whose family had been assisted by the Garden. At that point, the Garden was on my short list, but I had not made any final decisions. Very soon after, I was horrified to read in the news that fetal remains were being used in British hospitals as biofuel—that they were being mixed in with other medical waste and being burned to heat the hospitals. Only a few days later, I learned that fetal remains were receiving similar treatment very close to home in Oregon. Though not directly related, hearing this news led me to definitively choose Garden of Innocence as my project beneficiary.

St. John Paul the Great noted that the culture of death seems to reign supreme, when he described the growing glamorization and acceptance of abortion, euthanasia, and other needless waste of life in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, in which he called us to be, quote, “fully aware that we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the ‘culture of death’ and the ‘culture of life.’” He went on to say, “We find ourselves not only ‘faced with’ but necessarily ‘in the midst of’ this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life.”

Two weeks ago today, during remarks before a Mass for the elderly, Pope Francis reminded us that, quote, “The culture of discarding human beings hurts our world… We are all called to counter this culture of poisonous waste! … We need a society which measures its success on how the weak are cared for.”

I see my project as my contribution to reversing the culture of death and restoring a culture of respect for and protection of life, including and especially for the weakest and youngest among us, by helping to properly bury these innocent children, which is one of the Corporal Works of Mercy. In addition to answering the call of the Church, this project honors the first point of the Scout Oath—Duty to God—and the twelfth point of the Scout Law—A Scout is Reverent.

Before formally turning over the urns to the Garden, I felt that they ought to be blessed at Holy Mass, given the profound role they will play in the end of their recipients’ lives on Earth, and in comforting their families. May God bless the souls of all deceased infants and children, especially those for whom these urns were made. In the words of librettist and Orthodox nun Mother Thekla: “Alleluia! Alleluia! May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

Thank you.

Respecting life outside our comfort zone
| October 14, 2014


Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano

True respect for life requires us to get out of our comfort zone.
Oh, we might say, “I respect life, I vote for ‘pro-life’ politicians who claim they will work to end abortion.” However, in a democracy voting is usually easy and comfortable.

But are we willing to regularly stand outside of an abortion mill on a freezing winter morning or hot summer afternoon praying and witnessing to the humanity of our unborn brothers and sisters? That’s harder and somewhat uncomfortable.
Now for those who are willing to get uncomfortable in support of the Catholic Church’s efforts to protect unborn human life, try to move into an even more uncomfortable zone: acknowledge the truth that war does much to disrespect life. War kills life–mostly innocent life.

Blessed Mother Teresa insightfully said, “The greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion, which is war against the child. … Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.”

But Mother Teresa’s quote can logically and honestly be turned around to say that war also is the greatest destroyer of love and peace. Like abortion, war is also against the child. And that any country that accepts war is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “The truth is that it is impossible to interpret Jesus as violent. Violence is contrary to the Kingdom of God. It is an instrument of the Antichrist. Violence never serves man, but dehumanizes him.”
Now let’s put the shoe on the other foot. Perhaps you say, “I respect life, I vote for politicians who say they will work to end war, war preparation and the military-industrial-complex.” Again, in a democracy voting is generally easy and comfortable.  
But are we willing to peacefully, prayerfully and publicly witness to the evil of war and war preparation? And are we regularly contacting our legislators?
Now for those who are willing to get out of their comfort zone in support of the Catholic Church’s teaching against violence and war, try to move into an even more uncomfortable respect life zone: acknowledge the truth that abortion disrespects life.
Admit the truth that abortion is as Mother Teresa said, “war against the child.” Acknowledge that abortion is extremely violent–against the unborn baby and against the mother.
Over the years I have talked with many “prolife” advocates for unborn babies who don’t think twice about bombing their enemies–often not knowing or caring that many of the victims are innocent, vulnerable born babies and children.
And I have come across numerous advocates for peace who are committed to ending war and war preparation, and yet who argue for the so-called right to choose an abortion—the violent dismembering of an unborn baby.
There is a very serious moral disconnect here. And this moral disconnect also sadly happens with all of the other grave social justice issues facing humanity—like poverty, hunger, sweatshops, immigration and refugee reform, climate change, the death penalty, euthanasia and  embryonic stem cell research.
As followers of the God of life, justice and peace we need to connect all of the moral dots and do whatever we can to make a difference.
For as Saint Pope John Paul II said, “We are all really responsible for all.”

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

Construction Kickoff!
| October 14, 2014


STAMFORD—Renovations started yesterday on the new home New Covenant House of Hospitality, the inner city soup kitchen that feeds the poor and hungry of the greater Stamford area.

The Kickoff ceremony put the focus on the $1.5 million “Funding the Future” capital campaign to raise funds for relocation to a new facility and to plan for future program needs.

The house of hospitality, which has served the poor of the greater Stamford area for almost 40 years, officially signed a lease for 8,200 square feet located at 174 Richmond Hill on September 1.

The Columbus Day festivities drew many dignitaries including Congressman Jim Himes, Stamford Mayor David Martin, Stamford Board of Representative Gloria DePino, Honorary Capital Campaign Chair, Rob Simmelkjaer of NBC Sports; and Al Barber, President of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County;

Also joining the kickoff celebration were Matthew Reyher, President ARI of Connecticut and Gerard Gasparino, ARI Development and Recreation Manager, and construction partners, Randy Salvatore, principal of RMS Construction and Jay Inzitari of RMS Construction.  

The capital campaign was announced by Paul Harinstein, Chairman of the Advisory Board of New Convent House of Hospitality, and Al Barber, Chief Executive Office of Catholic Charities, which sponsors and manages NCH.

NCH, which benefits from the commitment of hundreds of interfaith volunteers, will continue to serve three meals a day at its current location at Yerwood Center, until the new site is ready.  
Barber said the NCH Food Pantry, which provides groceries to poor families, will be the first to move to the new site, hopefully some time early next year.

To date the campaign has raised $425,000 with unanimous board participation. Harinstein, a member of Temple Sinai inStamford, is hoping the public phase will expand awareness of historic roleplayed by NCH in feeding the working poor, homeless and hungry of the region.  
Capital Campaign Committee members include Laure Aubuchon of New York City; Paul Harinstein of Stamford; Michael A. Boyd of Greenwich; Moira Colangelo of Stamford; Bob Dorf of Stamford and Linda Koe of Stamford.
“We getting word out to businesses, philanthropic givers and the religious community and we have a new brochure outlining ourstory,” said Harinstein who is in his third year as chairman of NCH. “Over the last six year, the numbers of meals we serve has nearly tripled to over 700,000 a year. Our current facility is not sufficient to meet the needs and we want to be in a better position to serve the community.”
Harinstein said he was encouraged by the support of NBC Sports, which recently moved into Stamford. On a recent Saturday more than 50 employees and their family members prepared and served a meal to guests. NBC Sports made a $25,000 donation to the soup kitchen. Rob Simmelkjaer of Westport, Senior Vice President, NBC Sport Ventures has agreed to serve as Honorary Chair of the Campaign.  
Harinstein said NCH was fortunate to find a site diagonally across from its current home in the Yerwood Center. The larger space will provide room for expansion andalso for a number of programs that will help guests to live independently.
“Feeding the hungry remains the core of our programs, but we don’t want  to just feed someone, send them home and nothing changes. Our goal is to get at the rootcauses of poverty.”   
Plans for the new facility include creating a bistro style dining area, and spacious foodpantry that will enable guests to shop and select a wide range of healthy food. The center will also house immigration services, English as a Second Language courses, a clothing closet, shower facility, and classroom space for job training and other skill building courses.
Guests are the poor and disadvantaged including the homeless, working poor, elderly, mentally ill, HIV/AIDS clients, the disabled and immigrants, both with and without citizenship documentation.
Many guests are at risk due to numerous socio-economic factors including poverty; disadvantage; addiction; lack of resources; complicated health issues and/or other disabilities.
New Covenant House of Hospitality serves the greater Stamford area, which includes Stamford, New Canaan, Greenwich and Darien. It is located at 90 Fairfield Avenue in Stamford. For information call email or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) Phone 203.964.8228

Note: For additional coverage please visit the Stamford Adocate

Respecting Life is Joyful
| October 13, 2014


STRATFORD—Bishop Caggiano was the principal celebrant and homilist at the annual diocesan “Mass for Life,” held October 12 at St. Mark’s Parish.

The 10:30 am Mass featured a full choir (in white gowns) and a full church of parishioners and visitors. Many of the parishioners who attended were anxious to see the bishop in person.

After Mass, the bishop waited outside the church in the beautiful fall weather to greet anyone and everyone who wanted to meet him.

The theme for Respect Life Ministry this year is derived from a quote from Pope Francis: “Each of us is a masterpiece of God’s creation.” The Mass is held in a different parish each year and is sponsored by the Respect Life Ministry office in the diocese.

After the Mass, a light reception was held in the parish center, where parishioners and visitors of all ages enjoyed baked goods and assorted beverages.

From beginning to end it was a festive day, which was in keeping with the bishop’s message about respecting life. Bishop Caggiano said that exhorting people to respect life is “not always a popular message in our society.” In order to make the message more attractive, those who encourage others to respect life must themselves lead by example, and being joyful in prayer is always an important component of successful evangelization. The bishop encouraged all gathered to be “people who live life fully and who respect life fully.”

The parishioners and visitors who attended the Respect Life Mass were certainly joyful. The St. Mark Parish Youth Group wore their distinctive bright blue t-shirts to show solidarity with the bishop and his pro-life message. Wearing a garment that signified belonging to a religious group fit in nicely with the Gospel in which an unfortunate fellow found himself without a “wedding garment.” Keeping with the theme of sacred garments, the bishop said that “life is a seamless garment, from the moment of conception until natural death.”

In his discussion about the need to respect life, the bishop was careful to include not only the unborn but also anyone who is in need. He encouraged everyone gathered to “concretize” the message by reaching out to anyone whom they may know who is in need of support, assistance or encouragement, including the poor, the elderly, the sick, the disabled and the dying.

Finally, the bishop encouraged everyone to pray daily for the “conversion of hearts” of those who do not respect life. He asked for special prayers for Christians in Middle Eastern countries who are now undergoing severe persecutions at the hands of lawless bands who are trying to make forced conversions to Islam. Those who refuse to convert to Islam are often victims of unspeakable violence, even against children.

Before the final blessing, the bishop extended a special thanks to Maureen Ciardiello, director of Respect Life Ministry for the diocese, who helped to organize this special Mass. The bishop also thanked Father Don Guglielmi, pastor of St. Mark’s, for his gracious hospitality.

Click here to view a slideshow of photos by Michelle Babyak.

Catholic Young Adults Group Adventure
| October 12, 2014


DANBURY—Catholic Young Adults of Greater Danbury at St. Marguerite, Brookfield, braved the rain on October 11 for a hike at Tarrywile Park in Danbury; they were joined by 3 others from other area Young Adult groups.

Aaron, Carl, Mary, Ambria, Sean, and Ruwan, enjoyed the morning getting to know each other. The group meets First and Third Friday of the month at St. Marguerite's, Brookfield, from 7-9pm. Come join us. For info call Maria Mullen at 203.798.6923 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). For events and a list of Young Adult Groups in Fairfield County CT and NY area go to:

First Hand-written Illuminated Bible in 500 Years
| October 10, 2014 • by By Joseph Pronechen


NEW HAVEN—For several centuries, monks spent countless hours diligently making copy after copy of the Bible by hand in beautiful script and adding colorful illustrations of some passage or parable along with highly ornate, illuminated lettering.

But once Gutenberg came along and printed the first Bible with moveable type around 1455 in Germany, the medieval Benedictine monks stopped all their hand-copying of the Bible. There was no need any more since now Bibles could be made in many copies in short time.

It was not until the time of this new millennium that monks once again looked toward a hand-produced Bible when the Benedictines of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minn., commissioned the first hand-written and illustrated Bible in 500 years. The result is the St. John’s Bible, a monumental work completed in May 2011 when calligraphic artist Donald Jackson finished copying in beautiful script the last word — “Amen”.

The story of this project and its results is now on exhibit at the Knights of Columbus Museum in downtown New Haven. Called “Illuminating the Word of God: The Saint John’s Bible,” it fills four galleries and includes 68 of the 1,178 original pages in addition to numerous items connected to making this unique Bible.

This is no pocket-sized Bible. Surprisingly, the pages are two feet high and nearly a foot-and-a-half wide. They will be bound into seven volumes, but for now the sections are being exhibited in various locations for some time yet so that many people around the country can see the incredible results.

The script all done by hand is striking. It looks straight from the Middle Ages, as if monks labored years over the whole work. Yet at the same time, there is something slightly different about it.

That new-old difference might be because this graceful script was created by the person who headed the project and had the idea in the first place: Donald Jackson. Appropriately, it is called the Jacksonian script.

Jackson happens to be one of the best calligraphers in the world and is the Senior Scribe to the Queen of England. He has stated that it was his dream since childhood of one day completing a handwritten Bible after the ancient practice.

To do that, the St. John’s Illuminated Bible project enlisted Jackson and five more scribes working with him in his scriptorium in Wales. A number of aides joined them.

While a computer was used to plot out the pages showing where every line should be placed, and the same for the illustrations, the rest of the work was basically carried out in the centuries-old manner that the medieval monks would recognize and use.

The pages are the same time-tested and time-honored vellum, which is from calfskin which was prepared in the traditional centuries-old manner.

The black ink for the script itself was prepared from rare 19th century Chinese ink sticks. The red ink dates to the 19th century and the vivid blue from lapis lazuli.

Just as did the monks of old, Jackson and his scribes began each chapter with a fancy capital letter. Only in this case, they are not quite as ornate as the medieval monks made them, at least in the major examples existing from centuries ago.

As quite a surprise, and yet no real surprise considering the project’s goals, all the script was done in the same manner as from well over a thousand years ago. Jackson and scribbles used quills they prepared by hand from turkey, swan and geese feathers. Not only are examples of these tools on display, but their use is demonstrated by way of a video.

The illustrations themselves are often quite colorful and even dazzling because of the abundance of sparkling and gleaming gold leaf in several of them. But here they differ in most part from the medieval sources. Most on display in this exhibit and presumably in the rest of the Bible are modernistic in their appearance, symbolism and metaphors. Sometimes they even lean to being somewhat abstract. They were intended to tilt toward being ecumenical.

While there are a couple of Byzantine icon-like illustrations from John Chapter 8, an illustration of the Sower and the Seed parable has a modern look with the sower working blue jeans and sweatshirt.

In the Book of Revelation, the illustration of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is likely meant to reflect chaos with its mostly abstract images that do include identifiable elements like the tanks of modern warfare.

But there is abstraction in the beautiful swallowtail butterflies that sometimes grace the pages.

For this handwritten and illustrated Saint John’s Bible, the committee in charge used the New Revised Standard Version (not the New Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition).

Considering the historical foundation and the work and talent that went into this project that took over a decade, The Saint John’s Bible is an epic work. It indirectly pays tribute to all those nameless monks who toiled with such patience for God and his Church.

This major exhibit runs through November 2 at the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven.

Click to view high resolution samples: Vision of Isaiah | Sower and the Seed | Valley of the Dry Bones

From the Pastor’s Desk
| October 10, 2014


By Monsignor Chris Walsh

In this week’s bulletin you will find a report on the progress of our Fourth Diocesan Synod, convened by Bishop Caggiano, which held its first general session last month. Some parishioners have mentioned that between news reports about the upcoming Synod called by Pope Francis in Rome, petitions and prayers for our diocesan Synod meeting here in Bridgeport, and the continuing progress of our P.E.A.R.L. project of evangelization and renewal for St. Joseph Parish, the ordinary Catholics in the pews are finding it a little difficult to keep all these Church initiatives straight!

First, we should clarify what a “synod” (pronounced “SIN-id”) is. Since the early Church, “synod” is simply the name for an official gathering of Catholics representing all the members of the Church in a given area, presided over by a bishop or bishops, and intended to discuss and sometimes decide doctrinal, pastoral or disciplinary matters for the good of the Church. The Synod of Bishops is a permanent institution of the Catholic Church. Shortly after the close of the Second Vatican Council in 1965, Pope Paul VI decided to continue the experience of collegiality and communion present at the Council by creating a “Synod of Bishops” for the universal Church. This Assembly of a few hundred bishops chosen from around the world convenes every two or three years in Rome to assist the Holy Father by providing counsel and making proposals on important questions facing the Church.

The upcoming “Extraordinary Synod on the Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the context of Evangelization" is the third occasion since the Second Vatican Council that the Pope has chosen to call an “extraordinary synod”: i.e., a special assembly, out of the normal schedule, in order to deal with an important matter that demands "immediate attention for the good of the entire Church." Beginning this Sunday, Oct. 5, in Rome and including along with the bishop other priest, religious, and lay participants from around the world, the Extraordinary Synod will conclude on Oct. 19. Normally, the pope takes a number of months to review the advice and proposals made by the bishops at a synod, before he issues a formal document which summarizes the theme and decides what actions the Church is going to take.

The fact that Pope Francis chose within six months of his election to call this Extraordinary Synod shows how critical it is in his mind for the Church to address modern challenges and attacks being levelled against family life, as well as the key role of the Christian family in forming faithful, committed followers of Christ. Watch EWTN television coverage, read the Fairfield County Catholic and other Catholic publications, or log on to sites like, or to get accurate, in-depth coverage of this important Church event! [See upcoming column explaining the nature and purpose of the “Fourth Bridgeport Diocesan Synod.”]

Bishops examined the link between the crisis of faith and the crisis of the family
| October 09, 2014 • by By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register


VATICAN CITY—The general discussion of the Synod of Bishops on the Family continued Wednesday by focusing on various proposals under way regarding the pastoral program for the family unit.

Bishops participate in one of the conferences of the October 5-19 Synod on the Family. – Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

According to the Holy See Press Office, the link between the crisis of faith and the crisis of the family was discussed, with the first generating the second.

This led to the suggestion of a vademecum (handbook) being devised, dedicated to the catechesis of the family.

The weakness of the knowledge of the Catholic faith of many baptized person was emphasized, saying this leads to couples getting married without being fully aware of what they are undertaking. “A dictatorship of unitary thought”—that is, counter-values that distort the vision of marriage as between a man and a woman—was also discussed. The crisis of values, atheist secularism, hedonism and ambition “destroy families today,” the synod heard. “It is therefore important to recover in the faithful the awareness of belonging to the Church, as the Church grows by attraction and the families of the Church attract other families,” the Vatican said in its summary.

Humanity must be reawakened so it senses belonging to the family unit, and the Church, being an expert in humanity, must underline this. The link between priest and families and their mutual help was also discussed, as was the family being the “cradle of vocations.”

A further link underlined was that between baptism and marriage: Without a serious and in-depth Christian initiation, a participant said, the meaning of the sacrament of marriage is diminished. There was talk of light that the Church brings to the world—the light that is given to mankind, which is not so much in terms of “fixed beacon” anchored to the land of origin, but a torch that accompanies the journey of each person step by step.

Confidence in God’s Grace
Many interventions have dealt with the need to have confidence in the grace of God, the Vatican said, adding that God’s grace is essential for our actions and our decisions. The director of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi, said there have been some “very beautiful” interventions on the theme of forgiveness and reconciliation, especially with regard to traditional African culture.

The interventions Wednesday largely drew attention to the situation in Africa: Discussed were polygamy, levirate marriage (whereas the brother of a deceased man is obliged to marry his brother's widow, and the widow is obliged to marry her deceased husband's brother), sects, war, poverty, the painful crisis of migration, and international pressure for birth control. At a press briefing on Wednesday afternoon, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, Nigeria, said the participants “came out very clearly” with the view that “life is sacred, marriage is sacred and family has dignity.”

He criticized international organizations that “like to entice us to deviate from our cultural practices, traditions and even our religious beliefs.” He said this is because they “believe their views should be our views” but “we say ‘No, we have come of age.’” Most African countries, he pointed out, became independent 50, 60 or 100 years ago. “We should be able to think for ourselves, define for ourselves what is marriage, what makes a family and when life begins,” he said.

He deplored the current practice of African nations being “wooed” by economic enticements. “We’re told if you limit population growth, we will give you so much,” he said. But he reminded the synod that many children die in infant mortality, or through diseases and wars.“And yet you [the West] come to tell us about ‘reproductive rights’ and you give us condoms and artificial contraception?” he said. “Those are not things we want,” he continued. “We want food, education, roads, regular light, good health care. We’re being offered wrong things, and expected to accept them because we’re poor.”

But he said poverty is not merely about money and there are other kinds. “We’re not poor in every sense, so we say ‘no’,” he said. The time has passed, he added, when Africans accept things “without asking questions.”

Conjugal Bond
The focus then returned to discussion on marriage. With regard to the indissolubility of the sacrament, it was highlighted in the synod that the conjugal bond and its stability is inscribed within the person, and therefore it is not a question of setting the law and the person in opposition to each other, but rather of understanding how to help the person not to betray his or her own truth.

In the fifth general congregation, which took place Wednesday morning, the debate focused on the Church in the Middle East and in North Africa. It was said that the laws impede “reunification of families” due to difficult political, economic and religious situations.It was also said that poverty leads to migration, and explained how “religious fundamentalism” means Christians do not enjoy equal rights with Muslims, especially when it comes to families of mixed (interreligious) marriages. Children of “mixed” marriages must be offered suitable catechesis, couples must “not be neglected” and the Church must care for them.

Later in the general congregation, it was said that the Holy See’s voice must be heard defending families “at all levels”—international and local—and the Church “must combat the educational and religious silence in families.”

The synod also highlighted the “indispensable contribution” of the lay faithful in proclaiming the Gospel of the family, especially the lay ecclesial movements. “Listening to the laity” and believing in them was “essential” as it is through them the Church “may find the answers to the problems of the family.”

Often, there was an emphasis on “greater preparation for marriage” with “special attention” paid to “emotional and sexual education.”

Father Thomas Rosica, press secretary to the Holy See, told reporters there was “no sense of doom” or “handwringing despair” among the participants. Instead, they have disclosed the “best practices,” considering, for example, how to appeal more to Scripture and adapting the language of “natural law” to suit the world of today.

He spoke of the need to use irregular elements of civil marriage as a “springboard” towards introducing them to sacramental marriage, and emphasized the “medicine” of mercy rather than placing “burdens on people’s shoulders.”

Financial Pressures
Also discussed were the effects of finances on the family. The precariousness of work, unemployment and poverty, and the distress they cause, can prevent families from having a home. “Furthermore, a lack of money often leads to it becoming “deified” and to families being sacrificed on the altar of profit,” it was said. “It is necessary to re-emphasize that money must serve rather than govern.”

And again, greater preparation for marriage was stressed, with special attention paid to “emotional and sexual education, encouraging a true mystical and familiar approach to sexuality.”  The contribution of grandparents to families, namely in the transmission of faith, was also emphasized, as was care for the elderly. “The same care must be reserved to the sick, to overcome the “throwaway culture” that Pope Francis frequently warns against,” it was said.

From the Pastor’s Desk
| October 09, 2014 • by By Monsignor Chris Walsh


In last week’s bulletin we talked about the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops summoned by Pope Francis that is taking place right now in Rome. Its theme is sharply focused: “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the context of Evangelization."

Its participants are largely key bishops from around the world. But the Fourth Synod of the Diocese of Bridgeport, which was officially convened last month by Bishop Caggiano, is a different sort of Church assembly.

Our Diocesan Synod (pronounced “SIN-id”) is a gathering of several hundred representatives of the clergy, religious and laity of the Church of Bridgeport. It meets under the leadership of our bishop, the chief shepherd and pastor for the Catholics of Fairfield County, who has asked the synod representatives to study, discuss and recommend proposals to him on a wide range of pastoral issues: e.g., re-evangelization of non-practicing Catholics, challenges to family life, ministry to youth, support of Catholic education, welcoming Latinos and other new Catholic immigrant groups, addressing key social issues, strengthening our parish life, etc. The Bridgeport Synod plans to hold five general sessions over the course of this coming year, with smaller study groups meeting in between. It is expected that the bishop will issue a final report of the Synod’s conclusions upon its completion.

In short, a local synod is not a deliberative or legislative body. Its purpose is to study issues, express views, and make proposals to the bishop who, as a successor to the Apostles, has the full, ordinary authority to teach, sanctify and govern the local Church. Nevertheless, synods have played a central role through the Church’s history in articulating the “sensus fidei” (or “sense of the faith”), which as Vatican II reminded us belongs to the entire Body of Christ, and in guiding the actions of bishops in a certain diocese, city or region.

In this Fourth Synod of the Diocese of Bridgeport, we can see the hand of the Holy Spirit leading us along the path that the Holy Father has pointed out for the Church as a whole. As the pope summed it up so well in his “Prayer to Mary, Star of the New Evangelization,” which we have been praying regularly at Sunday Masses at St. Joseph’s:

"Obtain for us now a new ardor born of the resurrection,
that we may bring to all the Gospel of life
which triumphs over death.
Give us a holy courage to seek new paths,
that the gift of unfading beauty
may reach every man and woman. . . .

Pray for the Church, whose pure icon you are,
that she may never be closed in on herself
or lose her passion for establishing God’s kingdom."

- (Pope Francis, "Evangelii Gaudium")

Diocesan Financial Statements
| October 08, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—The Diocese of Bridgeport has released its Combined Statements of Financial Position for December 31, 2013 and 2012.

“One of my first priorities is to provide a clear, transparent and comprehensive account of the finances of the Diocese,” said the Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano last year when he announced his plan to publish financials on a yearly basis.

Click to view the full audited report

Assumption School Teams up with Big Brothers and Big Sisters for a Clothing Drive
| October 08, 2014


FAIRFIELD—On Sunday, October 12 from 10 am-1 pm, the Service Club at Assumption Catholic School will be collecting clothes, shoes, linens and pocketbooks to donate to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Southwestern CT.

"We would love it if everyone can come and donate clothes they do not wear anymore and bring them on down for adults and children that need clothing." said Dylan Smith, an eighth grade student in the Service Club.
The students will be collecting the items in the school parking lot and working collaboratively with Big Brothers and Big Sisters towards a goal of 200 bags of clothing. For more details or questions, please call Karen Guastelle: 203.814.4894.

Assumption Catholic School Introduces New Technology
| October 08, 2014


FAIRFIELD—This September marks the 60th anniversary of Assumption Catholic School in Fairfield, and marks a pivotal point in their history with the introduction of Learn Pad tablets for the upper-middle school.

"Each teacher has been trained on the Learn Pads to use them to their optimal capacity in the classroom—really bringing learning to the 21st century" says Principal Gerrie Desio.

The introduction of this one-on-one computing is a fundamental change in the culture of teaching and learning at Assumption Catholic School. All of the students currently take computer science as one of their classes and utilize technology in many ways throughout their day, however, this is now taking it to the next level. The students will use the Learn Pads in each of their classes where it will be integrated into the curriculum.
This use of one-on-one computing will enhance their already strong STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) curriculum. Assumption Catholic School was recognized as model school  by the state of CT Invention Convention for our inventing/STEM program and a recipient of a School of Distinction plaque and has always had students get to the finals and win awards in the CT State Science Fair. The Learn Pads will also be used in the school’s math partnership with Sacred Heart University.
This is the first step in the school's plan to transform the entire school to one-on-one computing. "The introduction of these tablets was the natural next step for us in giving our students the tools and knowledge that they will need to be prepared for high school and college. As we celebrate our 60th anniversary, this is a perfect way to begin!" Principal Desio noted.  

Blessings on pets and owners
| October 08, 2014


NORWALK—Kittens, puppies and an assortment of pets joined the second graders at All Saints Catholic School for the Blessing of the Animals on October 6.

Father Sudir D’Souza, parochial vicar at St. Philip Parish, did the honors, blessing both the pets and their owners.

A time-honored Catholic observance, the Blessing of the Animals is held around the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4, a Saturday this year). St. Francis, known for his love of animals, is famous for establishing the traditional Nativity scene, which he brought to Assisi using live animals around the Christ Child’s manger.

Museum visit enriches studies
| October 08, 2014


NEW HAVEN—Kolbe Cathedral sophomores visited the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven and had an opportunity for a guided tour of the elaborately illustrated St. John's Bible manuscript.

The calligraphy and images chosen to accompany the text enhanced the students' study of Old Testament. Father Augsutine Nguyen and the religion department teachers attended with the students.

On sexual and medical ethics, synod fathers speak of 'graduality'
| October 07, 2014 • by By Francis X. Rocca, Catholic News Service


VATICAN—In their discussions of sexual and medical ethics, participants at the Synod of Bishops on the family are giving emphasis to the concept of "graduality," as a way of thinking about morality that allows for human imperfection without compromising ideals.

In an address to the assembly on its first working day, October 6, Cardinal Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, said that "Humanae Vitae," the 1968 encyclical by Pope Paul VI that reaffirmed the church's prohibition of artificial birth control, "needs to be considered in light of the law of graduality."

He suggested that it was unrealistic to expect immediate acceptance of the widely flouted teaching.

The cardinal quoted "Familiaris Consortio," a 1981 apostolic exhortation by St. John Paul II on the role of the Christian family in the world that was inspired by the last synod on the family in 1980. According to St. John Paul, each person is a historical being who "knows, loves and accomplishes moral good in stages of growth."

Several bishops referred to graduality in their remarks during an afternoon session dedicated to the theme of "God's plan for marriage and the family."

"Despite serious flaws that we always identify in Western culture, we also have to discern and to declare what the steppingstones are for Christian wisdom," one bishop said, according to Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, an assistant to the Holy See Press Office, who did not identify the bishop in accordance with synod rules.

Discussing the church's attitude toward "irregular" relationships, such as those of civilly married or cohabitating Catholic couples, another bishop drew an analogy with the Catholic understanding of other Christian churches. While the church is said to subsist fully only in the Catholic Church, other Christian communities are believed to possess important elements for sanctification.

By the same token, "there is a full and ideal vision of the Christian family, but there are absolutely valid and important elements even of sanctification and of true love that may be present even when one does not fully realize this ideal," the bishop said, as paraphrased by the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, who also spoke at the October 6 session, told reporters the next day that the "law of graduality" is a "law of pastoral moral theology which permits people, all of us, to take one step at a time in our search for holiness in our lives."

The cardinal, who attended the 1980 synod as a priest assisting a participating bishop, recalled that St. John Paul II had made an important point on the subject at the conclusion of the synod.

"He said, yes, there is a law of graduality, but it should not be confused with a graduality of the law," Cardinal Nichols said. "He was saying the vision, the teaching of the church is consistent and is offered to everybody. So it's not as if there's one law at this time in your life and another law later in your life, but there is a pathway on which we'll walk."

Another synod father, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany, told reporters October 6 that the idea of graduality could help the church develop a new way of speaking about sexuality.

"We cannot have always 100 percent, and I would say good and bad, that's not so easy to make the difference," the cardinal said in English. "There is a development, a way, in the biography or in a relationship and so on."

Cardinal Marx, chairman of the German bishops' conference, also said that the "great majority" of German bishops support German Cardinal Walter Kasper's controversial proposal to make it easier for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion, even if they have not obtained annulments of their first, sacramental marriages.

"I think it is very important to see that we have ways or that there is a graduality also in the way to the sacrament," Cardinal Marx said.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Deck Garden Harvest
| October 07, 2014


The nights have been getting pretty chilly lately.

In Wilton, where I reside, the temperatures have come close to freezing a few times, so it is time to begin winding down my deck garden and begin preparing for winter.

The first order of business are my three lemon trees. One is about 6 feet tall while the other two are each only about two feet tall. The two smaller ones underwent a couple of prunings this summer while I let the larger tree grow relatively unabated.

I grew my lemon trees from ordinary lemon seeds taken from a lemon, but after five years or so, none of them have produced any fruit. Even without flowers or fruit, they are interesting and attractive to look at, so even if they never produce lemons I plan to keep tending them.

Lemon trees do not respond well to freezing temperatures, so I will soon need to move them indoors. They prefer the warmer weather and direct light, but thus far they have been able to survive the winters positioned near my sliding glass doors. The exposure is north-easterly, so they could use more light in the winter months, but they usually make it to the spring in stable condition. One of the keys to their indoor health, I have found, is to keep them lightly watered. If their soil is a little dry during the winter months, that seems to suit them well.

The other things that I focused on growing this past summer were wildflowers and corn. If you are interested in seeing the progress of my garden from early spring through mid-summer to now, you can reference two of my earlier blog posts: “Deck Garden” (5/28/14) and “Divine Gardener” (7/8/2014).

The things that grew best of all this summer were my wildflowers. Until a few days ago, I thought that my four corn plants had been duds. Then I noticed that two of the corn stalks had grown one ear apiece. This morning, I harvested the two ears of corn and photographed them. Later, as small as they are, I plan to boil them and eat them (I’ll let you know how they taste!).

The wildflowers turned out to be gifts that just keep giving. As you will see from the pictures I took today, some flowers are in bloom and more buds seem set to burst forth.

Next summer, I plan to focus on my lemon trees and more wildflowers. As for the corn, I will buy what I need from the store.

There have been 285 visit(s) to this blog post.

A reassessment of Pius XII
| October 07, 2014 • by By DEACON TOM DAVIS



“Pope Pius XII was the greatest hero of World War II. He saved more Jews than Roosevelt, Churchill and all the rest of them combined.”

That is the assessment of Gary Krupp, founder and president of Pave the Way Foundation, an organization dedicated to inter-religious dialogue, harmony, and tolerance Krupp will present the ground breaking research of Pave the Way Foundation at the 2014 Pope John Paul II Bioethics Lecture on November 13 at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, CT.

“Believe me” says Krupp, “I never dreamed I would be defending a man who, when I was growing up, we believed he was a Nazi sympathizer.”

The controversy surrounding the war time record of Pius XII is one of the great injustices of the 20th Century. The controversy was advanced in the 1963 play “The Deputy” by Rolf Hochhuth, which portrayed Pope Pius XII as having failed to take action or speak out against the Holocaust.

Krupp is uniquely qualified to address the issue. His organization has done much to further affectionate relations between Jews and Catholics, people who share faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and who increasingly do share the bonds of friendship.

Through those and other efforts Krupp and Pave the Way Foundation have raised new awareness of the heroic efforts of the great Pope Pacelli in the face of Hitler and Mussolini’s racially psychopathic Fascism.

In September, 2013 Krupp was interviewed by First Things, the renowned journal of religion, culture and politics. He described the current the state of the historical datum concerning Pius XII: “The debate is over. Those who attack Pius XII still do not have a shred of documented evidence to support their claims. ... Every charge against Pius XII can be proven wrong. ... I once showed a simple PowerPoint presentation of the documents we discovered to seventy students at Yeshiva University. All of the attendees said there was no question that Pope Pius XII was a hero of the Jewish people, when many of the other religious and political leaders of the time did literally nothing.”

But what accounts for the enduring, if unjust, negative assessment of some concerning Pius? Krupp points out the incongruity between such judgments and the near universal praise from Jews after the war, including Albert Einstein, Israeli Prime Minster Golda Meir, and the World Jewish Congress.

He identifies Hochhuth’s play as a turning point. The play and its wide promotion distorted public opinion and drove an unjust narrative that lingers to this day—one that amounts to the greatest character assignation of the 20th Century.

As examples of Pius’ actions on behalf of Jews, Krupp points to a secret “underground railroad,” directly ordered by the Pope, sending more than 10,000 Jews to the U.S. via the Dominican Republic. Since many countries would not accept Jews, Pius directed that they were to be given false baptismal papers to travel as Catholics. Pius also successfully stopped the deportation of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews and ordered the lifting of cloister for men and women to enter monasteries, convents and churches to hide 7,000 Jews of Rome in a single day, all with German rifles posted 200 yards beneath his windows.

The focus on Pope Pius XII for the annual bioethics lecture at Holy Apostles College & Seminary grows out of several allocutions delivered by Pius in the 1950s on medical-moral topics and which stand as the modern foundation of Catholic bioethical teaching. His effort on behalf of persecuted European Jewry during the dark night of Nazi atrocities witnessed to the highest priority Christian bioethics— the defense of human life.

In addition to the presentation by Krupp, the 2014 Bioethics Lecture will feature a concert performance by Asteria, (Sylvia Rhyne, soprano, and Eric Redlinger, tenor and lute), which brings to life the exquisite love songs of medieval Burgundy through intimate interpretations based on extensive archival research in to original sources in Paris, The Hague, and Basel, Switzerland.

The concert and lecture/presentation is free of charge and open to the public. Asteria’s performance will begin at 6 pm followed by Gary Krupp’s presentation at 7 pm. A reception will follow.

(Deacon Tom Davis is associate director of the Pope John Paul II Bioethics Center. For more info on the 2014 Pope St. John Paul Bioethics Lecture and Concert, contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)                

Life Chain proves a strong Link in Danbury!
| October 06, 2014


DANBURY—Sunday, October 5 was a beautiful day in Connecticut, a perfect day for a pro-life rally!









































































Joining with other pro-life witnesses across the nation, about 50 people gathered on Main Street in Danbury to advocate for the protection of innocent life in the womb. They were part of a national effort called “Life Chain,” which seeks to link people in prayer from coast to coast on the first Sunday each October, which is Respect Life Month.

The first Life Chain was held in California in 1987 and linked two neighboring towns in prayer for life. In 2013, Life Chains were held in 1,890 locations.

The founders of Life Chain call it “a serious first step to pro-life activism.” Participants stand publicly for one hour while holding a pro-life sign (provided by Life Chain) and praying for an end to abortion. During the Life Chain hour, participants try to avoid idle chatter, frivolity, and both verbal and physical responses to motorists. Life Chain is a time of prayerful self-analysis, repentance and serious commitment to helping end abortion in our nation.

When we consider that the Diocese of Bridgeport has over 80 parishes throughout Fairfield County, the turnout for the event was disappointing. Nonetheless, the Life Chain hour was effective. Traffic on Danbury’s Main Street was quite heavy, and passing motorists could not help but see the Life Chain participants lining both sides of Main Street with their signs in hand, praying aloud and singing songs. Some motorists beeped and waved in support.
For much of the hour, participants prayed the Rosary together and then the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Lyrics to religious and patriotic songs were included on the back of each sign, and participants made an effort to sing in unison.

Perhaps we can rally as a diocese next year to make Life Chain a truly powerful event in Fairfield County. Ideally, each town should have its own chain. This would be a great event for youth groups to organize. Giving an hour or so of one’s time to give witness to life on a Sunday in October is a commitment many people might be willing to make.

Parishes with pro-life coordinators should begin planning now to help make the next Life Chain a greater success in Connecticut. Priests, religious and parishioners interested in finding out more about Life Chain can contact Maureen Ciardiello, diocesan director of Respect Life Ministry, at 203.416.1445 or by email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The national Life Chain organizers also have a great web site at Become a link in the Life Chain!

Magnificat hosts Bishop Caggiano
| October 04, 2014


DANBURY—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the guest speaker at a Magnificat Women’s Breakfast on October 18 from 9:30 am-12:30 pm at the Ethan Allen Inn, Danbury.

Magnificat, a nationwide ministry to Catholic women, has a twofold purpose. “It’s an evangelizing group,” says Fran Hood, coordinator of the Triumphant Heart of Mary Immaculate, the diocesan chapter.

“We want to welcome women who have walked away from the Church, for whatever reason, and to help all women be more open to the Holy Spirit through a deeper commitment of their lives to Jesus.”

Magnificat carries out its mission through women’s breakfasts, usually held twice a year in different locations throughout the diocese. Along with conversation, prayer and music, the centerpiece of each breakfast is a personal testimony, usually from a local woman, of the way God has worked in her life.

“Primarily these are before-and-after testimonies—where they were, what happened to change their life, and where they are today,” says Hood. “It has great appeal to those women who may be struggling with faith or who have lost touch with the Church.”

Hood will give her own personal testimony at the upcoming Magnificat breakfast in addition to the bishop’s talk. “We want him to get a sense of who we are, and how a meeting would be held under ordinary circumstances,” she explains.

After the meal, there will be a time of prayer for the needs of all present. Women can come up to request individual prayer with Father Lawrence Carew, Magnificat’s spiritual advisor, and members of the prayer team.

(The cost of the prayer breakfast is $25. Registration needed by Saturday September 27. No tickets will be sold at the door. For more info, call Fran Hood: 203.744.1856 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

Students Meet Mayor Bill Finch
| October 04, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Cathedral Academy 8th graders were visited by Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and Bridgeport City Council President Tom McCarthy, who spoke with the students about the importance of being involved in government, as well as issues that related to the students.

Cathedral Academy is thankful to Mayor Finch and Councilman McCarthy for taking the time out of their incredibly busy schedules to stop by!

Cathedral Academy Principal For A Day – Elijah Trotman wins high marks on the job!
| October 01, 2014 • by By Natasha Rivers


BRIDGEPORT—Elijah Trotman, member of Cathedral Academy’s Class of 2015, Grade 8A, was chosen to be Cathedral Academy Upper School’s first “Principal For A Day”.














































Cathedral Academy Principal Mr. Larry DiPalma said he was impressed by Elijah’s approach to the job.

"Mr. Trotman brought enthusiasm, leadership skills, a principal presence, and a "distinctive style" to his role as Principal of the Day.  What a legacy he has established for future Cathedral Academy Principals of the Day!” Mr. DiPlama said.

In order to get the top job for the day, Elijah submitted an application in which he answered  the following:
•    Indicate the reasons why you want to be “Mr. D. for a Day”
•    How would you address the teachers at our 7:00 morning meeting?
•    During daily announcements, how would you address the students concerning your expectations for them?

His duties for the day included addressing the faculty at their morning meeting, leading the student body in prayers, monitoring the cafeteria, addressing discipline and bus issues that arose, and helping to conduct the 8th grade parent meeting at night.

Looking professional in his white collared shirt, dress pants and tie, Elijah conducted himself with leadership and maturity, impressing both students and faculty/staff.

Catherine Rubano, 7th grade teacher, said “I always knew he had it in him, and I am proud”. Anne-Marie Donnelly, 8th grade teacher remarked, “I felt Elijah was very professional. He took his responsibility seriously. I was amazed at how much respect the students gave him.”

Anna-Marie Altieri, 5th grade teacher, was equally impressed, stating,” Elijah was an ideal role model, one that children aspire to be like. He showed maturity and intellect during his appointment.”

When asked about his day, Elijah said, “It was fun, but tiring!” He also remarked, “I noticed when I went into the classrooms that the teachers work very hard!”

Cathedral Academy includes the upper school (Grades 4-8) at the St. Augustine campus, 30 Pequonnock Street, and the lower school (pre-K through grade 3) campus at nearby St. Raphael campus, 324 Frank Street in Bridgeport. It is part of Catholic Academies of Bridgeport, which include St. Ann Academy in Black Rock and St. Andrew Academy in the North End of Bridgeport.  

(For information call 203.416.1376. Or visit the Cathedral Academy website at

October is Respect Life Month!
| October 01, 2014


DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT—Join in the pro-life activities planned throughout the diocese during this Respect Life Month!


































Pope Francis has inspired the theme for this month with his quotation: "Each of us is a masterpiece of God’s creation."

Pro-Life Activities during Respect Life Month:

September 24 – November 2: 40 Days for Life

At 5:30 pm, on September 24, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano gave public witness to his support for life by helping to launch the 2014 “40 Days for Life” in the Diocese of Bridgeport. Standing outside the Summit Women’s Center at 3787 Main Street, Bridgeport, the bishop joined a large crowd of pro-life supporters and led them in praying the rosary for the protection of innocent life in the womb.

Maureen Ciardiello, diocesan director of Respect Life Ministry, said that “Bishop Caggiano is very supportive of Respect Life issues.” When he joined with other pro-life witnesses to pray the rosary on the first day of 40 Days for Life, “People really appreciated his presence and his public support for life,” she added.

40 Days for Life is a community-based pro-life effort that takes a determined, peaceful approach to illustrating the consequences of abortion. It draws attention to the evil of abortion through three focused activities:

•    Prayer and fasting
•    Constant vigil
•    Community outreach

Prayer is at the center of 40 Days for Life. Pray outside an abortion facility. Pray at church. Pray at work. Pray in the car. Pray at home with your family.

Jesus has explained that some demons can only be driven out by prayer and fasting. The two go hand in hand. Fasting is a sacrifice that, with God’s help, allows us to reach beyond our own limitations. A fast is not a Christian diet; it is a powerful means of drawing closer to God by blocking out distractions. Fast from certain foods. Fast from television. Fast from apathy and indifference. Fast from whatever it is that separates you from God.

Each day during 40 Days for Life, individuals, churches, families and groups will be asked to join together in prayer for a specific request including:

•    Women who are at risk of having an abortion
•    Innocent children who are at risk of perishing
•    Men and women who carry the pain of a past abortion experience
•    Workers at Planned Parenthood facilities and abortion centers
•    Local, regional, and national leaders
•    Revival and renewal in our churches
•    Repentance and healing throughout our nation

For more information, please visit, or contact Christine Murphy at 203-438-4866 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

October 5: Life Chain

Come be a link in our Chain!  Join us on Sunday, October 5, 2014 from 2:30 pm-3:30 pm in Danbury.  Participants will gather at the corner of Main and West Streets (across from the Public Library). Life Chain is a peaceful, prayerful public witness of pro-life Americans standing in honor of 54 million lives lost to abortion, praying for our nation, for people in crisis situations and for an end to abortion. It is a visual statement of solidarity by the Christian community that abortion kills children and that the Church supports the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death. For information or questions, contact Deirdre Condon at 203.438-6123.

October 12: Respect Life Mass

Sunday, October 12, 2014 @ 10:30 am
St. Mark Parish
500 Wigwam Lane

Bishop Caggiano will be the principal celebrant and homilist at this annual pro-life Mass which is celebrated during Respect Life month to help bring greater awareness to all aspects of Respect Life. The theme for this year’s respect Life month is inspired by a quote from Pope Francis: “Each of us is a masterpiece of God’s creation.”

October 18: Morning of Prayerful Remembrance and Intercession Service

A beautiful service for all who are seeking healing from abortion

Saturday, October 18, 2014
10:00 am-1:00 pm
St. Mary Parish
55 Catoonah St.
Ridgefield, CT

“Our Morning of Prayerful Remembrance and Intercession is a beautiful service for all who are seeking healing from abortion,” says Maureen Ciardiello, director of the Respect Life Ministry for the Diocese of Bridgeport. “It is not focused only on women who have had an abortion but includes parents, grandparents, siblings, health care providers and all those who have been impacted by abortion.”

The Service is sponsored by the Respect Life Ministry and Lumina/Hope & Healing After Abortion.  

“We’re all impacted by abortion, says Theresa Bonopartis, who developed the Remembrance Service. “This service focuses on God’s mercy, his love and his forgiveness.”

Bonapartis is the director of Lumina, which offers healing retreats for women, men, siblings and those who suffer the effects of abortion. In addition, Lumina provides training for clergy members and mental health professionals in post abortion stress. Bonopartis has directed a number of healing retreats at Villa Maria Guadalupe, the retreat center of the Sisters of Life in Stamford.

During the service at St. Mary’s, volunteers from area parishes will read testimonies from those who have been impacted by abortion. “It’s not just the moms,” stresses Bonapartis. “Often these will be from parents who feel they didn’t offer their daughter enough support in her time of crisis, or a counselor who directed a girl to an abortion center. Sometimes they are testimonies from siblings who have learned that a brother or sister was aborted. These are the hidden wounds of abortion; their testimonies speak to the heart.”

The service will include Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, and intercessory prayer. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available for those who seek its healing comfort.

(For more info, contact the Respect Life Ministry: 203.416.1445 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address); or Lumina: 877.586.4621 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Bishop films Padre Pio video
| September 30, 2014


Bishop Caggiano might have felt like a celebrity when he pulled into the parking lot at St. Margaret Shrine and walked to the “set” where he was scheduled to film a short promotional video for the Saint Pio Foundation. Diocesan director of communications, Brian Wallace, was on hand to greet the bishop and make sure the film crew was ready.

Bishop Caggiano on “the set” at St. Margaret Shrine.

The Padre Pio monument is a newer section at St. Margaret Shrine,
replete with beautiful landscaping and stonework.

To protect it from the weather, the Padre Pio statue at the shrine
is encased in glass.

Bishop Caggiano has a strong devotion to St. Michael the Archangel,
who is represented by a beautiful statue at St. Margaret’s Shrine.
September 29 is the Feast of the Archangels and I visited the shrine
to pray the Joyful Mysteries, which includes The Annunciation
and the Archangel Gabriel.

You don’t have to tell me twice that there is a miraculous spring
on the grounds!

Soon it was “lights, camera, action!” The bishop spoke for a few minutes about the foundation – and it was a take. After having his picture taken with the film crew and speaking with a few well-wishers who had watched the proceedings, the bishop was once again on his way.

It was a fitting day to visit the monument to Padre Pio at St. Margaret’s Shrine, as September 23 is Padre Pio’s feast day.

The film crew was from the Fairfield University Media Center, led by director Casey Timmeny and producers Steven Minnick and Bridget Dalen. The video that they produced can be seen by clicking on the following link:

Bishop Caggiano accepted an invitation to serve on the Episcopal Advisory Board of the Saint Pio Foundation, and the video he made was an effort to promote awareness of the foundation and its work.

The Saint Pio Foundation is a non-profit charity organization dedicated to evangelization through the promotion of the spiritual charism of St. Pio of Pietrelcina. An important goal of the foundation is to commit 10% of its distributed funds to the hospital “Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza” in San Giovanni Rotondo, founded by Saint Pio in 1956 and currently owned by the Holy See.

For more information about Padre Pio and the foundation, please go to


Transcript of Bishop Caggiano’s Padre Pio video:

My friends, I am delighted to stand before you, in support of the Saint Pio Foundation. I am standing here at St. Margaret Shrine, in the city of Bridgeport.

Here at the shrine there are multiple shrines that have been created in honor of the various patronal saints to which the people of this great diocese are devoted.

Of course, Padre Pio himself holds a privileged place here. And I come to you on the twenty-third of September, which is Padre Pio’s feast day.

I am privileged to be a member of the Saint Pio Foundation religious advisory committee, and I ask you to consider supporting their wonderful mission.

At the heart of the foundation is the desire to advance the charism of Padre Pio through cultural, religious and educational programs. And as you know, as a saint of our own time, a man dedicated to penance, to the forgiveness of sins, to preaching fearlessly the truth about who Jesus Christ the Lord really is, Padre Pio was also a man devoted to great charity. He attended to the needs of the poor, especially the sick, founding one of the largest hospitals in the western world in Pietrelcina.

Through the money that it collects, the foundation will reach out to the poor to provide medical services for them in the spirit of this great saint, this humble friar, affectionately known as Padre Pio.

So I ask for your prayers for the foundation and I ask for your support. Together let us pray that Padre Pio will lead our Church and you and I into an era of greater renewal and spiritual vitality in honor of Jesus Christ the Lord. May God Bless you. Amen.

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Matters of faith and family dominate Spanish-speaking consultation session
| September 30, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Family issues, including the need for the Diocese of Bridgeport to offer programs that support families in living the faith, were prominent at last weekend’s consultation with the Hispanic community.

In a whirlwind weekend, Bishop Caggiano also met with youth and Deacons to brief them on the work of Synod 2014 and to enlist their thoughts and concerns as the diocese plans for the future.

In a consultation session that was held largely in Spanish with some comments made in English, about 140 people of all ages gathered at St. Peter Parish in Bridgeport to discuss concerns specific to Spanish-speaking Catholics in the Diocese.

“On the whole, reaction to the synod was very positive,” said Fr. Gustavo Falla, Vicar for Spanish speaking people in the diocese. “I thought that the concerns people brought to the Hispanic Consultation Session were applicable not only to Hispanics; they were applicable to the concerns and needs of people throughout the diocese.”

Speakers came forward with questions on marriage preparation, many expressing a desire for deeper preparation before marriage but also for support and enrichment programs for married couples, said Fr. Falla who moderated the session.

As at other sessions throughout the diocese, the low attendance of youth at Mass was a concern to the Spanish community. “There is a lot of peer pressure in public schools,” Fr. Falla notes. “It’s not cool to be spiritual.”

Parents also pointed out that most Hispanic youth have to work, usually in lower paying jobs that often include night and weekend hours, making it difficult to attend Mass.

Speakers also called for diocesan parishes and organizations to work more closely together. “Why do we have such a difference between one parish and another?” was a frequently asked question.

The October issue of Fairfield County Catholic will offer more information on the Hispanic Community consultation along with the sessions held by Deacons and youth.

Consultation Sessions will also be held after the second and third General Sessions. The second General Session for delegates is set for Saturday November 15, 8-3 at St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull, while the third will convene on Saturday February 7, 2015.

Bishop Caggiano officially convoked the 4th Diocesan Synod with an announcement in his February 22 letter that issued a challenge to all Catholics to help plan for the future of the diocese.
“Each generation and every age has faced its own difficulties; yet the gift of faith that has been placed into our heart by God always remains and must be passed into future generations,” he wrote.
For reports on the listening sessions and other information, visit the synod website:<./p>

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Pope: Greed, throwaway culture fuel 'hidden euthanasia' of elderly
| September 29, 2014 • by By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis warned against the abandonment and neglect of the elderly, calling it a "hidden euthanasia" rooted in today's "poisonous" culture of disposal and an economic system of greed.

Pope Francis greets emeritus Pope Benedict XVI during an encounter for the elderly in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 28. (CNS/Paul Haring)

In the presence of his predecessor, Pope Francis also thanked retired Pope Benedict XVI for staying to live at the Vatican and being like "a wise grandfather at home."

"A people who don't take care of their grandparents and don't treat them well is a people with no future. Why no future? Because they lose the memory (of the past) and they sever their own roots," he said.

The pope's comments came during a special encounter and Mass for older people in St. Peter's Square September 28. Some 40,000 grandparents, retired men and women, and their families attended "The Blessing for a Long Life" event, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Pope Francis specifically invited Pope Benedict to attend the event, making it the third time since his retirement in 2013 that the German pontiff has made a rare appearance in public with his successor.

Carrying a cane and looking strong, the 87-year-old pope arrived about one hour into the event, which featured music and testimonies from families. About 10 minutes later, while the famed Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli sang "Con te partiro" ("I'll Go With You"), Pope Francis made his entrance with a small group of families. He immediately went to greet and embrace Pope Benedict, who only stayed for the next hour, leaving before the start of Mass.

Addressing him as "Your Holiness," Pope Francis thanked the retired pontiff for his presence, telling the crowd, "I really like having him living here in the Vatican, because it's like having a wise grandfather at home."

The wisdom and love of older people are instrumental for building the future, and they can even cheer up grumpy teenagers, the pope said.

"It's very good for you to go visit an older person. Look at our kids. Sometimes we see them being listless and sad; (if) they go visit an older person, they become happy," he said.

"Older people, grandparents have an ability to understand very difficult situations, a great talent. And when they pray about these situations, their prayers are strong and powerful."

But there are many who instead prey on their fragilities, and the pope warned against the "inhuman" violence being waged against the elderly and children in areas of conflict.

Harm can also be waged quietly, he said, through many forms of neglect and abandonment, which "are a real and true hidden euthanasia."

People need to fight against "this poisonous throwaway culture," which targets children, young people and the elderly, on "the pretext of keeping the economic system 'balanced,' where the focus is not on the human being but on the god of money."

While residential care facilities are important for those who don't have a family who can care for them, it's important these institutes be "truly like homes, not prisons," the pope said, and that their placement there is in the best interest of the older person, "not someone else."

These retirement homes should be like "sanctuaries" that breathe life into a community whose members are drawn to visit and look after the residents like they would an older sibling, he said.

The pope also thanked an older couple from Qaraqosh, near Mosul, Iraq, for their presence and urged people to continue to pray and offer concrete aid to those forced to flee from such "violent persecution."

Married for 51 years with 10 children and 12 grandchildren, Mubarak and Aneesa Hano said they were chased out of their Iraqi town by Islamic State militants.

"The cities are empty, homes destroyed, families scattered, the elderly abandoned, young people desperate, grandchildren cry and lives are destroyed from the terror of the shouts of war," Hano said.

He said he hoped the world would finally learn that "war truly is insanity."

Hano told the pope that, for 2,000 years, the bells tolled in their parish churches until the militants invaded the northern Iraqi plain and replaced the crosses on top of their places of worship with black flags. Because the bells no longer ring in these abandoned villages, the bells of St. Peter's Basilica tolled instead at the end of Hano's testimony.

Pope Francis then concelebrated Mass with 100 elderly priests from around the world.


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Red Mass Breakfast takes closer look at contraception mandate
| September 28, 2014


FAIRFIELD—“The challenge is not only to practice law with integrity and resolutely, but I ask you to consider the gift of humility as a cornerstone of your ministry and your vocation in administering the law,” Bishop Frank CaggIiano said to more than 200 legal professionals who attended the Read Mass this morning in the Egan Chapel of Fairfield University.

Referring to attorneys several times during his homily as “custodians of the law and guardians of the common good,” Bishop Caggiano said “It’s not easy to administer the law at a time when people wonder what the common good is in a diverse and secular society.”

Reflecting on a reading from Philippians , the Bishop said that adopting humility is important for professionals and all people who have been blessed with talents and gifts that come from God.

“Humility is all about living fully in the truth,” he said urging those in attendance to recognize that all people are sinners” who are invited to lay their failings and shortcoming before the altar.

At the Red Mass Breakfast that followed in the University Oak Room, Attorney Noel J. Francisco, Jones Day partner and head of the Government Regulations Practice Group, discussed that status of legal opposition to the birth control mandate included in the Affordable Care Act.

He said that his law firm is pursuing 16 different suits involving 73 organizations across the United States in association with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop (USCCB). He said that Jones Day took on the cases because the Birth Control Mandate is a clear violation of religious freedom and there is a need to protect the “minority view” even if it is unpopular.

Recognizing that even among Catholics there are different views on the use of birth control, attorney Francisco said the litigations is “about religious liberty and larger legal issues,” not about birth control.

He said the mandate represents “a complete misunderstanding of the church,” essentially defining it as “a religious wing and social wing,” when it decided that the Church is exempt from the mandate but groups like Catholic Charities and Catholic hospitals must apply for an exemption.

“Insurance coverage for birth control is still written into the plan in invisible ink,” he told the gathering, noting that no accommodations are acceptable to the Church because they ask others to do something immoral on our behalf.

“Can you force Catholic organizations to undertake conduct that is abhorrent to their beliefs?” he asked adding that the First Amendment is intended as “a bulwark” against this kind of intrusion.

Attorney Francisco said the contraception mandate uses churches for “administrative convenience” when there are many other ways in which government could easily provide contraception to those who cannot afford it. He added that “the Administration is hostile to the minority view of the situation and is clearly out to break the back of religious hold-outs.”

In a question and answer session that followed, Attorney Francisco said that he expects many cases to work their way to the Supreme Court over the coming year because the issue is ultimately about religious liberty.

He said that religious freedom is ultimately not simply about the “freedom to worship, but the exercise of religion, which is up to the adherents to define,” not the government. He said that in every case, the law suits that have been brought forward are not just about “faith as the four walls of a church,” but the exercise of faith beyond that in the larger society.

Attorney Francisco was introduced by Anne McCrory, Chief Legal and Real Estate Officer of the Diocese of Bridgeport. He represents companies and individuals in civil and criminal litigation involving federal and state governments, including lawsuits against governments, enforcement actions by governments, and congressional investigations. He has been working most recently as a part of the team of litigators at Jones Day who have been providing pro bono support for those entities claiming that the HHS contraceptive mandate presents a violation of the religious freedom.

The National Law Journal recently named Francisco as one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America.”

Francisco has testified before the House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law on separation of powers, and administration law reform issues.


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Bombing Islamic State is fueling the violence
| September 26, 2014 • by By Tony Magliano


Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano

We need to do something!
With the barbaric Islamic State now controlling large portions of Iraq and Syria, and inflicting rape, torture and even beheading on those who do not conform to their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, it is imperative that they must be stopped.

So yes, we need to do something. But that “something” is not more violence and war. Answering violence and war, with more violence and war, is always part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Shortly after the start of the first Gulf War in 1991, St. Pope John Paul II wrote: “No, never again, war, which destroys the lives of innocent people, teaches how to kill, throws into upheaval even the lives of those who do the killing and leaves behind a trail of resentment and hatred, thus making it all the more difficult to find a just solution to the very problems which provoked the war.”

There is a collective amnesia that continues to block government and society’s memory that we have been there, and done that, many times before. Therefore, the war machine keeps rolling on with the encouragement of hawkish politicians, pundits and the military-industrial-complex.

During a “Democracy Now” interview with Rami Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, Khouri said the major problems that lead to the formation and growth of militant Islamic groups like the Islamic State, are brutal dictators – often backed by the United States – who rule much of the Arab-Islamic world, and a foreign military presence like the U.S. in Muslim majority countries.

Khouri said American led military action in the Islamic world is the best recruiting tool for al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

And it stands to reason. Imagine how most people would react—including many Christians—to a foreign power bombing and killing their loved ones.
So, what would be a Gospel-based way of responding to this violent crisis?
The Gospel calls us to mount an active response to suffering based on love and nonviolence.
This means no bombs, no drones, no missiles.  

The U.S. and other arms supplying nations need to stop flooding the Middle East (and world) with weapons. A total multilateral arms embargo is needed.
And the diplomatic tool must be vigorously pursued.

Yes, negotiations with the Islamic State are highly unlikely. But negotiating just settlements to the grievances of hurting populations in Iraq and Syria will dry up support for the Islamic State and other militant groups.
The U.S. and other wealthy nations need to provide adequate resources for the quick evacuation of Christians and other minorities who are in harm’s way.

And funds and supplies need to be massively increased to assist nations—like Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey—that are being overwhelmed by Iraqi and Syrian refugees.
Finally, the U.S. and other industrial nations need to do their fair share in offering emergency asylum to these poor, frightened refugees.
Please email and call (Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121) your two U.S. senators and representative, and President Obama (202-456-1111) urging them to stop the bombing and start the nonviolent actions mentioned above.
It would do us all well to seriously reflect on the words of Pope Francis: “War is never a necessity, nor is it inevitable. Another way can always be found: the way of dialogue, encounter and the sincere search for truth.”
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.

Weather or not
| September 26, 2014


SHELTON—News Channel 8 meteorologist Sam Kantrow visited St. Joseph School in Shelton, along with WTNH executive producer of weather Kevin Arnone.

Kantrow explained what some of the instruments on top of the Mobile Weather Lab were for as well as their names, and asked questions of the students about what some of the other instruments might do and why they were important.

He talked about what a meteorologist does, pointed out different types of clouds andexplained the formation of natural disasters. He also showed the kids the satellite and radar located in the back of the Mobile Weather Lab.

Focus is on New Covenant House of Hospitality
| September 26, 2014


STAMFORD—New Covenant House of Hospitality, the Stamford soup kitchen and support center sponsored by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Bridgeport, was featured at the Social Justice Committee’s Dinner with a Cause held in Stamford on Thursday, September 18.

Brian Jenkins, who has served as NCH executive director since 2006 and has since been named director of Merton Center in Bridgeport, shared his own compelling story of a roller coaster ride from middle class upbringing to early marriage, a child, divorce, the early death of his mother… and the slide into alcohol, cocaine addiction, bankruptcy and homelessness. His slow creep back to normalcy began in a soup kitchen, at the Thomas Merton Center, where a meal led to conversation, counseling, a 30 day treatment period, prayer and recovery. Back to college, on to a Masters degree, and just a few weeks ago, Brian Jenkins received his PhD.

New Covenant House provides primarily food for the body. The soup kitchen offers two hot meals Monday thru Saturday and breakfast bags to 100-150 people daily. On Sundays it offers one meal at lunch and breakfast bags. The Sunday ministry is the one which many of St. Catherine’s parishioners support under the direction of Kathy DiGiovanna who organizes the teams.

Further, NCH has a Food Pantry, which supplements the food for 250-300 working poor families monthly. It also has an after school hot meal program for about 250 children daily.

Recently NCH announced plans for a capital campaign to support its move to a new location at 174 Richmond Hill Avenue in Stamford.

“We want to do more than address the next meal, it’s also important to work on the core problem of poverty,” said Paul Harinstein, Chairman of the NCH Advisory Board. “At NCH the objective is to create an environment that will help people solve some of the problems associated with poverty. We encourage people to come in when they suspect they may be late with their rent, instead of waiting until it’s too late to come for help, and we hope to bring in life coaches to develop relationships with the guests so as to help them solve their problems.  These objectives will be part of the new site under renovation. It is expected to be ready by next spring. The space will be tripled. It will include a “restaurant-style bistro”, a food pantry more like a grocery store, mail service, showers, etc.

NCH has a need for volunteers at many levels. It needs funds to complete the construction; volunteers to pick up and deliver food from “Community Plates” and other supporting businesses; volunteers to serve the meals, etc.

If you are interested in volunteer work at NCH see

Sisters of Life Volunteer Day
| September 24, 2014


STAMFORD—St. John's Flock (Catholic Young Adult Group at the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist) spent an energetic day at the Villa Maria Guadalupe in north Stamford.

In the morning, they planted flowers and did landscaping work for the Sisters. The work shifted focus after lunch as they helped prepare the Villa for an upcoming retreat.

The group had a great turnout, with young adults coming from the Stamford/Greenwich area as well as Danbury, New Canaan, Trumbull, and as far away as Long Island. Emilio Funicella, a parishioner at St. John's (in the orange shirt) who does all kinds of work for religious orders in the area, was the primary organizer. The group is hoping to do some more work for the Sisters and for some of the other religious orders in the next few months.
If you join the Flock Facebook group, you can see the rest of these these (and some other) pictures as well!
Also, another event coming up: Catholic Underground CT will be having a dance with a holy hour, swing and salsa lessons, and general fellowship on November 15. It's a great group! Here's the official description (from
Grab your friends and come to the semi-formal (ladies, think cocktail dress, suit and tie for the guys) Catholic Underground CT Second Annual Fall Ball! Swing and salsa dancing! Swing and Salsa lessons and demonstrations throughout the night! Come for the Holy Hour, stay for the dancing!
Where: Holy Apostle Seminary, Cromwell CT
When: Saturday November 15th, Holy Hour at 7:00 pm, the dancing will start at 8:00.
Suggested donation: $10 or $5 plus a baked good/appetizer. Contest for the best appetizer/dessert!

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Bishop Caggiano’s Coat of Arms
| September 23, 2014


When I attended the September 19, 2014, Vespers service to mark the opening of the synod, I was struck by the beauty of the bishop’s coat of arms, which comprised the entire cover of the program on a white background with a red border. The coat of arms in brilliant green, gold, red and blue spoke boldly, but I am not well-versed in the art of heraldry (coat of arms symbolism and artwork), so I could not decipher much of what was being symbolically proclaimed. Thankfully, the bishop’s motto was in the vernacular, so I clearly understood “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Yes, if his motto was in Latin, I may not have been able to immediately comprehend it.

Heraldry has never much interested me, but now that I have a blog to write, I am always looking for items to write about. Because someone – perhaps a team of persons including the bishop – put so much time and effort into designing and producing such a beautiful coat of arms, I believe that I should share with others what I have since learned about this heraldic achievement.

The principal color in Bishop Caggiano’s coat of arms is red, signifying the blood of martyrdom. The use of gold signifies the glory of the Resurrection. The use of blue represents our Blessed Mother, to whom Bishop Caggiano has a deep devotion.

The crescent moon is an ancient symbol of the Mother of God, included in the Book of Revelation. The moon is a fitting symbol of Mary because it has no light of its own but only reflects the light given to it by the sun. Mary receives her glory as a reflection of the glory of her Son.

The Lamb of God (Agnus Dei) image is known in Catholic heraldry as the Paschal Lamb. It represents Jesus Christ, and this image is portrayed supporting the Book of Sacred Scripture and a staff bearing a banner ensigned with the Chi Rho, the proper monogram for Jesus in Catholic heraldry.

The winged sword represents Saint Michael the Archangel, a particularly important devotion of Bishop Caggiano. The sword is depicted with the blade downward which represents peace that comes after victory.

The Bridgeport diocesan arms appear to the left, as one views the coat of arms, and Bishop Caggiano’s personal arms appear to the right. The diocesan arms literally depicts a “bridge” over wavy, flowing waters with the light of Christ depicted by a Cross. The three arches of the bridge represent the three dioceses of Connecticut, united in one construction. The bridge is an ancient symbol of the Church and, in fact, the word pontiff means “bridge builder.”

In Church heraldry, a motto has always been intended to represent a bishop’s personal spirituality and theologically based philosophy of life. The motto is most frequently grounded in Sacred Scripture. With his motto, “Jesus Christ is Lord,” Bishop Caggiano has embarked on his ministerial journey in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

There are external elements to every coat of arms design that also must be explained. Surmounting Bishop Caggiano’s shield is a pilgrim’s hat in deep forest green. Six tassels suspended on either side of the hat in a pyramidal style represent his rank as bishop. The interior of the hat is always rendered in red, representing the possibility of dying for the faith (i.e. martyrdom).

Behind Bishop Caggiano’s coat of arms is found the episcopal cross. The red circle in the center of the Cross refers both to his former Diocese of Brooklyn and his new home in Connecticut.

Bishop Caggiano’s coat of arms remains faithful to the style of Church heraldry originally developed in the Middle Ages. It was designed by renowned heraldist James-Charles Noonan, Jr. and expertly painted by Linda Nicholson.

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Synod First General Session: A time for asking tough questions
| September 20, 2014


TRUMBULL—The first General Session of Synod 2014 came to a close this afternoon after seven hours of tightly formatted presentations and discussions about the challenges and opportunities facing the Catholic church in Fairfield County.

Almost 400 delegates, observers, and invited experts filled the St. Catherine of Siena Parish Hall in the Nichols section of Trumbull to absorb study committee reports built around the four major themes of the Synod: empower the young church, build up communities of faith foster evangelical outreach, promote works of charity and justice.

Bishop Caggiano set the tone for the day when he told delegates, “This is a day of all questions and no answers. We need to saturate ourselves in the data and suspend judgment about solutions.” In the comments made by many of the delegates who came to the microphone during the four discussion periods, it was clear that the spirit of Pope Francis hovered over the day in the optimism over his Papacy’s ability to inspire Catholics to look at the faith through new eyes.

Many delegates referenced the Holy Father’s emphasis on mercy and inclusion, and said that while they wanted a Church steeped in the truth of Catholic teaching, they also wanted a welcoming Church that does not judge others and reaches out with compassion.

Likewise speakers thanked Bishop Caggiano for calling the Synod and moving forward to renew the diocese.

Several times during the sessions, Bishop Caggiano urged delegates to “dig deeper, ask more questions and get to the root of the problems.”

Many common threads emerged in the statistics and the discussions about the nature of faith in contemporary society. Among the many challenges identified were:

  • The growing number of Catholics who have left the church
  • The early exodus of young people from the Church, which begins in their teens and accelerates in their twenties
  • The sense that many Catholics are “sacramentalized but not evangelized,” and live without the joy or spirit of faith
  • The impact of poverty on Catholic families and the gap between affluent and poor parishes
  • The irony that many parents in the diocese drop off their children for religious education but do not personally participate in the Church or bring their children to Mass
  • The opportunity to use social media to bring the Gospel to the marketplace of ideas
  • The need to let youth speak for themselves
  • The need for continued healing from the sexual abuse crisis while continuing to reach out to victims and assess the impact on the Church
  • The challenge of balancing the beauty and truth of Catholic tradition with new approaches to prayer, worship and catechesis
  • The need to share resources between parishes and break down silos
  • The mandate to bring people to an encounter with Christ in a way that is not intimidating or judgmental

Deacon John DiTaranto, Special Assistant to Bishop Caggiano and a member of the Synod commission, led off the day with a demographic overview.

Building on the statistics presented in Bishop Caggiano’s recent State of the Diocese address, he noted that 470,000 people in Fairfield County (roughly half of the overall population) identify themselves as Catholic, but only 82,460 or 17% attend Mass every week.

At present, there are 420 Masses offered in 16 different languages every weekend in the diocese. Yet there has been a gradual decline in the number of marriages and baptisms. Nationally there has been a 60% decline in Catholic marriages since 1972.

Perhaps most dramatically, one in ten Americans now identifies as a former Catholic, and four times as many people have left the Church as have entered it over the past two decades.

“Why did they leave, Where did they go,” Deacon DiTaranto asked, noting that of the 53% of Americans who leave their childhood faith, only 9% return.

The Deacon said there is room for optimism in the growing number of vocations to the priesthood, the openness of Americans to spiritual experience, and the growing number of foreign-born Catholic.

The Latino population in Fairfield County has seen a 16% increase; now totaling 144,593, with growing populations in Norwalk, Danbury and Bridgeport. Nationally, Hispanics now represent 45% of the Catholics in the US, and 70% of the growth in the Church over the past 50 years.

One of the more striking statistics presented by Deacon DiTaranto was the early exodus of youth from the Church and parish life.

“Catholics who leave, leave early, “ he said, pointing out that 48 % who leave the Church do so by the age of 18. That number jumps to 79% by the age of 23.

Bishop Caggiano, who has made reaching out to youth a priority, responded to the statistics by saying, “One of the first questions I have to ask myself as Bishop is are we causing this? Is the behavior of the institutional Church making this worse? We have to re-establish the credibility of the parish community for young people, because their search for God does not require them to be with us. They do in on their own.”

Delegate Bob Rooney of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Riverside gave the presentation on the “Build up Communities of Faith” theme. He noted that the American family portrayed on “Leave it to Beaver” has morphed into the complexity of the “Modern Family” portrayed in today’s media. He said the changes in the American family are here to stay and the Church “must figure out how to adapt to this new reality.”

Rooney said that three communities of faith, parish, schools and the family unit, “are interconnected” and the Church needs to do more to strengthen them. Quoting Pope Francis, that “one does not become a Christian by himself,” Rooney said the Church build up trust and reach out one person at a time to evangelize.

In his presentation on “Fostering Evangelical Outreach,” said that “Evangelization is not proselytizing,” but drawing people to the joy of faith by love, tenderness and patients, so that “everyone can have a personal encounter with Jesus Chris through the Church.”

Fr. Towsley said as society’s values become more secular and less Christian, We must “bring the Gospel to the streets and bring Jesus Christ to the marketplace.”

Catholic Charities Chief Operating Officer Michael Trintrup delivered the final Study Committee report on “Promoting works of charity and justice.” He said that Catholics throughout Fairfield County are putting “faith in action” through untold social outreach in parishes, schools, Catholic civic groups and other ministries.

He told the gathering that poverty is the root cause of many of the problems in Fairfield County including homelessness and mental illness. At present 8.8% or 90,000 residents in Fairfield County are living below the poverty line.

Tintrup also provided an overview of the impact of Catholic Charities services in Fairfield County including 1.5 million meals served each year to the poor, elderly and homeless, 15,000 counseling sessions to help keep families together and over 200 housing units that shelter those who would otherwise be homeless.

In his brief closing remarks, the Bishop noted that unlike other states, Connecticut does not have regional government and the Church plays a major role in unifying the county.

“There are very few institutions that actually cover the whole country. Are we the one institution can have the dialogue?” he asked.

The Bishop also said that in the next General Session for delegates “the work of discernment will begin” when delegates seek to find solutions to the many questions they have explored in the research and study phase.

The second General Session for delegates is set for Saturday November 15, 8-3 at St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull. In between General Sessions, the Synod will also host consultations sessions with youth, deacons, religious, priests and the Hispanic community.

For more information visit the Synod 2014 website at

Click here to view a slideshow

350 Synod delegates commissioned at prayer service
| September 19, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano officially commissioned more than 350 delegates to Synod 2014 at a Vespers Service on Friday night at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.



“Bless the members of the Synod and give them gifts of wisdom, understanding, knowledge and fear of the Lord. Commission them to go forth and be the new prophets of your divine plan for the Diocese of Bridgeport,” Bishop Caggiano said during the Prayer of Commissioning.

The delegates officially begin work on Saturday at 8 am when the first General Session convenes at St. Catherine of Siena Parish Center in the Nichols section of Trumbull.

Almost 700 faithful braved the congested Friday commute in Fairfield County to fill St. Augustine’s for the Vespers service that included hymns, psalms, scripture readings and a homily by Bishop Frank Caggiano.


The Vespers service, which fell on the first anniversary of Bishop Caggiano’s installation as Fifth Bishop of Bridgeport, marked the opening ceremony of Synod 2014, which will gather for a year to help discern and plan for the future of the Diocese.

In his homily the Bishop drew laughter when he said that when he finally got his driver’s license after failing earlier attempts, he was quickly designated as the driver on family vacations. He said that his mother was in charge of the food and his father was concerned about directions.

“He needed to know the directions step by step,” the Bishop said, noting that it is important to have a road map when taking a journey. Before asking the delegates to join him in the Profession of the Faith, he said that the Creed is the roadmap for all Catholics.

“The Synod is a gift of the Holy Spirit. You and I in this age and in this time are being called to bring this creed, this road map to a waiting world.,” the Bishop said. “The ancient creeds binds us together, helps us to overcome our differences and become a single family.”

Describing the Synod as a “journey of a lifetime” for the Diocese, the Bishop asked, “Are you ready to begin? Roll up your sleeves with love and let us be on our way.”

The Church was filled with applause after his homily when the Bishop officially signed and sealed the Letter of Decree opening the Synod. The Bishop also received a standing ovation in appreciation for all of the work he has done in his first year of ministry in the diocese.

In the “Examination of Synod Participants,” Bishop Caggiano asked the delegates to stand. “Are you willing to undertake the journey of discernment, which will allow us to determine the will of God for our Diocese” the bishop asked delegates who responded, “I am.”

The Bishop also asked delegates “to promise to pray daily for guidance of the Holy Spirit so we may always fulfill the will of God.”

The intercessions toward the end of the service were read in Spanish, Creole, Vietnamese, Polish, Portuguese and English, reflecting the diversity of many different communities across the diocese.
Music for the Vespers program was conducted by Thomas J. Marino of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan, who served as organist and choir director of the celebration. Choir members were drawn from parishes throughout the diocese, while Cidalia Alves was the cantor

In the June 29 Vespers service to launch the Synod, Bishop Caggiano announced the four major themes that came out of the synod listening sessions held last spring throughout the diocese: empowering the young church, building up communities of faith, fostering evangelical outreach and promoting works of justice and charity.

When the Synod delegates convene on Saturday for the first General Session, they will hear four study committee presentations based on the four Synod themes. Each presentation will be followed by 40 minutes of discussion. The study committee as made up of priests, religious, laity and guest speakers.

During the year-long Synod, the study committees will also look at national and diocesan trends and examine best-practice models around the country in order to address challenges and plan for the future.

Bishop Caggiano officially convoked the 4th Diocesan Synod with an announcement in his February 22 letter that issued a challenge to all Catholics to help plan for the future of the diocese.

The second General Session for delegates is set for Saturday November 15, 8-3 at St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull. In between General Sessions, the Synod will also host consultations sessions with youth, deacons, religious, priests and the Hispanic community

For more information visit the Synod 2014 website at

Listen to Bishop Caggiano's Homily Below | Click here to view the slideshow

Trouble seeing the player? Visit our audio page directly.

Bishop Caggiano meets with his priests
| September 18, 2014 • by By Father Colin McKenna


NORWALK—Bishop Frank Caggiano believes that the best way to facilitate communication is to meet face-to-face.

Msgr. Peter Cullen and Monsignor William Millea chat before
the meeting.

Bishop Caggiano led the meeting but also requested
and encouraged input from his priests.

The priests enjoyed a buffet luncheon before the meeting began.

In his first year as Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, he has made communication with his priests a priority. To ensure that priests have the opportunity to present issues to him and ask him questions in an open forum, he has instituted semi-annual priests’ meetings wherein he and the presbyterate (the priests of the diocese) can spend several hours together discussing important issues.

Last May, the priests of the diocese met with Bishop Caggiano at St. Mathew’s Parish in Norwalk, and today they returned for their second general meeting of the year. After a buffet luncheon and an opening prayer, they took up an agenda divided into six separate subject areas with twenty sub-topics. The May meeting lasted nearly four hours. Today’s meeting was more than two hours long.

Bishop Caggiano led the meeting but paused frequently to ask for input from his priests. His leadership style is collaborative, and his enthusiasm is inspiring. “This is a great discussion!,” he proclaimed at one point.

Many of the topics were very technical in nature, relating to canonical, liturgical and catechetical processes. But there were at least several topics that were practical in nature and had definite dates attached to them.

Vocation Director Father Sam Kachuba reminded everyone that November 2-9 is “Vocation Awareness Week.” As that week approaches, Father Kachuba encouraged priests to check for pertinent materials. “It would be great to have homilies about vocations on those weekends,” he said.

Bishop Caggiano added that “our five high schools have the potential to generate many vocations to the priesthood and religious life.” And he announced that he is taking concrete steps to strengthen our approach to fostering vocations in the diocese.

Father Peter Lynch, a former vocation director in the diocese, pointed out that “every priest is a promoter of vocations.” Bishop Caggiano said that helping men and women to realize that they may be called by God to a religious vocation is a primary responsibility of priests.

Building on the theme of vocations, Bishop Caggiano announced that Pope Francis has proclaimed a “Year of Consecrated Life,” which actually extends for 16 months, from November 2014 - February 2016. In our diocese, this special year in honor of consecrated religious life begins on Sunday, November 30, with a special Mass and celebration at St. Cecilia Church in Stamford from 2:30-4:30 pm. Although it is a Sunday, Bishop Caggiano encouraged as many as possible to attend.

The bishop also encouraged the priests to preach about consecrated life on the weekend of February 7 & 8, 2015. “It is such an important and beautiful part of the Church,” he said.

Finally, in terms of exciting events to anticipate in the future, the bishop announced that the diocese will hold a youth concert and Mass at Webster Arena in Bridgeport on December 12, 2015. It is called “C4Y15” (Concert for Youth 2015) and the bishop hopes that 5,000 diocesan youth will attend.

If all of that is not enough, the bishop announced that after the conclusion of the synod, he is sponsoring a diocesan pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The all-day pilgrimage is scheduled for October 24, 2015, and the bishop wants as many buses as possible heading down I-95 filled with pilgrims from our diocese. He wants the priests to keep that day—a Saturday—as free from parish commitments as possible.

Before concluding the meeting, Bishop Caggiano requested prayers so that he may be guided by the Holy Spirit as he navigates a maze of difficult decisions in the coming weeks and months.

Vicar General Msgr. Bill Scheyd took the microphone before the meeting ended and thanked the bishop for his first year of service to the people and priests of the Diocese of Bridgeport. In a sign of agreement and unity, the presbyterate rose and gave Bishop Caggiano a standing ovation.

Preschool opened in Norwalk
| September 18, 2014


NORWALK—Room to Grow Preschool of Catholic Charities has announced the opening of its second location in Norwalk at 139 West Rocks Road, behind All Saints School.

The pre-school program for children from three to five years old officially opened its doors on September 8, 2014.

“We are proud to bring this very successful program to a second location in Norwalk,” said Al Barber, president of Catholic Charities. “This is a proven program that has been a remarkable resource for children and families. We know that quality, affordable and safe early childhood education is one of the most pressing needs a family can face, and this program answers that need.”

Nancy Cook Owens, director of Room to Grow, said there are still some subsidized school readiness slots available to eligible Norwalk residents, along with full-tuition spaces open to all in the greater Norwalk area and neighboring communities.

Cook Owens said the new location can accommodate a total of 46 children. It is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 to 5:30.

Room to Grow Preschool is a State licensed and nationally accredited facility that provides high quality care and education for children ages three to five years old. The 208 East Ave. campus of Room to Grow Preschool, located in the back wing of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish Center, serves 83 children.

The subsidized slots are grant funded through a School Readiness grant, which requires that a child be a resident of the City of Norwalk. These spots are available on a sliding fee scale based on family income.

“Our curriculum is based upon the philosophy that young children learn best by doing. Learning requires active thinking and experimenting. During the preschool years, play is one of the most fundamental activities of the developing child, providing the foundation of academic learning. The most important goal of our curriculum is to help children become enthusiastic learners,” said Cook Owens.  

“The program wait-list policy necessitates priority going to the siblings of families already enrolled or returning to Room to Grow. We currently have more than a two year waiting list, so we ask families to please plan accordingly.”

(For more info on enrollment, contact Nancy Cook Owens: 203.831.8200; email  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
St. Margaret Shrine: An Oasis of Peace
| September 16, 2014


When we think of “pilgrimages,” we often think of going someplace far away. To our mind’s eye, pilgrimages involve travel, sometimes difficult travel, and the willingness to partake of a “spiritual camping trip.” By camping trip, I mean that pilgrimages require the need to forgo certain creature comforts, or to at least accept a degree of asceticism.

I am writing this blog to inform everyone–and to remind myself–that pilgrimages do not require any of the features that I have mentioned above. First, as Catholic Christians, we are all pilgrims. Regardless of how comfortable our earthly lives may be, earth is not our true homeland. While we are alive on earth, we are traveling, as pilgrims, toward a personal meeting with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Creation is always in motion. As I type, the earth itself is hurtling through space at many thousands of miles per hour and the earth is spinning rapidly. Just because these movements are imperceptible to me does not mean that they are not occurring. It is similar with our daily pilgrimage. We may not experience it as actual movement, but there is a mechanism that monitors our progress, and that is time.

The Park Avenue entrance to St. Margaret Shrine in Bridgeport.

Christ the King greets visitors to the shrine and extends his arms
in blessing over the city of Bridgeport.

Our Lady of Fatima and the shepherd children kneeling in prayer.

A dramatic metalwork depiction of the crucifixion.

A lifelike depiction of Golgotha.

A mosaic of St. Margaret of Antioch standing guard above
the Italian town from which many emigrated to Bridgeport.

Deacon Don Foust (L), Administrator of St. Margaret Shrine,
and Nick Mastroianni, who has helped oversee the shrine since
1950, stand beside the fountain from which many believe springs
forth miraculous water.

Whether they are major undertakings or local journeys, pilgrimages are blessed events because they require us to take time out of our daily lives and schedules and commit ourselves to spending time with God and neighbor in prayer and perhaps good works.

If the thought of actually boarding a plane with fellow believers and traveling to Lourdes or Fatima or someplace else is just too daunting, I have recently discovered a destination for pilgrims much closer to home. St. Margaret Shrine is the only shrine in the Diocese of Bridgeport, and it is located in the middle of the city of Bridgeport.

St. Margaret’s is easy to get to from either the Merritt Parkway or I-95 and it has plenty of safe, secure parking available. If you decide to make a pilgrimage to the shrine, your visit may only last an hour or an afternoon, but in my opinion, it is still a real pilgrimage and you will reap many benefits from God for your generosity in taking the time and making the effort.

This idea of the “simple pilgrimage” recalls the principles of St. Therese of Lisieux who wrote about doing little things for God and neighbor in our daily lives.

St. Margaret Shrine was founded by Father Emilio Iasiello at the onset of World War II to be “an oasis of peace” in the midst of a world at war. As the United States now enters its latest war, or begins it anew, a special place to pray for peace in our lives and in the world is needed more than ever. Since 1941, Father Iasiello’s shrine has experienced organic growth within its 7.5 acres. As different individuals with various talents and inspirations come along, different shrines or areas of prayer and worship are incorporated into the landscape.

The most recent shrine within the shrine is a statue and prayer space created to honor Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. One of the first things that our newly installed Bishop Caggiano did last September as Bishop of Bridgeport was to dedicate the Padre Pio statue at the shrine. Bishop Caggiano is extremely fond of the shrine and has made several visits to it already and is looking forward to spending more time there. Two new areas of remembrance are under construction at the shrine and hope to be opened soon. One is for first responders and the second is for the victims of the Newtown massacre.

Although the shrine is dedicated as a place to pray for peace, it is named after St. Margaret of Antioch (Syria) who was martyred in the year 304, only a decade before Christianity was made legal in the Roman Empire. She was martyred because she wanted to preserve her virginity, yet curiously she is known as a patron saint of pregnant women. In addition to expectant mothers, St. Margaret’s shrine would also be a good place to visit for women who long to be biological mothers but may be experiencing difficulties conceiving.

What would a Catholic shrine be without miraculous spring water? People come from miles around to fill containers with spring water from St. Margaret Shrine that is believed by many to have miraculous healing powers. One man claims to have been healed of stomach cancer as a result of drinking the water. The water that supplies the “miraculous” source comes from a spring 1,450 feet below the surface.

Water from that deep within the earth is certainly pure and undoubtedly filled with many healthy minerals. Whether it becomes holy and healing as it rises up and through holy ground is a matter of faith for those who visit the shrine.

The shrine and its three chapels are open Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The chapels are open on the weekends at various daytime hours but the grounds remain open until dusk. The shrine is located at 2523 Park Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604. Office phone: 203.333.9627. Website: www.parishesonline/

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Father Hribsek, former pastor of Holy Cross Parish
| September 16, 2014


FAIRFIELD—Father Aloysius Hribsek, former pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Fairfield, died on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, September 14, in Stamford Hospital. He was 92 years old.

Father Hribsek, who lived at the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of Clergy Retired Priests’ Residence since 1996, served as pastor at Holy Cross Parish for twenty-three years.

Born on October 28, 1921 in Yugoslavia, he attended local schools there. His studies for the priesthood were done at the Pontificio Ateneo Salesian in Turin, Italy and Salesian College, Aptos, Calif. His ordination to the priesthood as a Salesian took place at Mary, Help of Christians Church, Watsonville, California, on June 29, 1949. He was incardinated into the Diocese of Bridgeport in 1959.

His first assignment for the diocese was as a faculty member at the former St. Mary High School in Greenwich, while in residence at Saint Michael Parish, also in Greenwich. Later he was an assistant at Sacred Heart Parish, Byram, and administrator and pastor at Holy Cross Parish. He lived at St. Luke Parish, Westport as well.

Father Hribsek spent part of his early years of retirement in his native Slovenia assisting Salesian Fathers working in that newly formed, independent country. On his return he was appointed administrator of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Shelton and later chaplain at Villa Maria Retreat House in Stamford.

In addition, Father Hribsek served on the Priests’ Council and did advanced studies at Fordham and Columbia Universities, and the Catholic University of America.

Father Hribsek’s body will be received at Holy Cross Church on Wednesday, September 17, at 4 pm where it will lie in state until the Vigil Mass at 7 pm. The celebrant and homilist will be Reverend Alfred Pecaric, the current pastor.

The Mass for Christian Burial will be celebrated for Father Hribsek on Thursday, September 18, at 10:30 am at Holy Cross. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the main celebrant. The homilist will be Msgr. Nicholas Grieco. Burial will follow at Saint Michael Cemetery, Stratford, in the Priests’ Circle.

Bishop says service of First Responders is “victory of love”
| September 14, 2014


DARIEN—At the 13th Annual Blue Mass, which was celebrated this morning on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, Bishop Caggiano reminded those in attendance that September 13 is the anniversary of the day a New York construction worker uncovered the cross that would become “a sign of hope and encouragement” to the country after the terrorist act of 9/11.

With bagpipes playing “America the Beautiful,” more than 100 police, fire and emergency services personnel processed in to the tiny Church on the Post Road in Darien for the annual Mass that remembers those lost on 9/11 and honors the service of First Responders.

The chapel-like Church was quickly filled with people standing in the aisles and in the vestibule with the doors wide open, and the stained-glass windows on the tipped up to let the fresh air in on a beautiful morning.

Bishop Caggiano, who celebrated his first Blue Mass in the Diocese at St. John Church in Darien, said the huge steel cross was uncovered in the mist and fog of dust that settled over the World Trade Centers after the terrorist attacks.

He said the workers “found an enormous gift, an act of grace” when they came upon the cross “made of the mangled steel that had been at the very fiber of one of the towers.”

The Bishop said that the lesson in the aftermath of 9/11 is that “Christ is never closer to use then in the moment of our suffering. But God doesn’t just stand in solidarity with us.”

He said that although as Christians, “we must learn to live in the shadow of the cross. The story does not end at the Cross” but goes on to the resurrection and new life.

“Our story ends in the victory of God over violence and all those things that are not of him.” the Bishop said. “There is not a broken heart in this world that does not find a place in the heart of Jesus.”

During this homily, the Bishop turned to the uniformed officers who lined the side walls of the Church, thanked them for their service, which is Christ-like in their mission to protect others from harm, never to abandon them in need and often to suffer with those they try to save.

Noting that their badges as First Responders mark them as persons of “faith and integrity, “ the bishop said, “But the greater badge you carry is the one in your heart because you have been signed by Jesus Christ. May the cross of Christ always be your badge of honor and love.”

At the conclusion of Mass, presented awards to the 2014 Blue Mass Honorees 2014 and recognized their contributions to the community.

Fr. Charles Allen, Special Assistant to the President of Fairfield University, read the following tributes:

Officer Robert Muschett, Stratford Police Department
Officer Robert Muschett exemplifies what law enforcement is today. His selfless, dedication to the community and professionalism exemplify the high standards of the Stratford Police Department.

Officer Muschett has repeatedly proven that even in the most emotional situations, he can defuse the situation with calm professionalism. He treats everyone with respect and dignity. He takes the extra time to ensure victims are aware of their rights and the legal process. The Stratford Police Department has received numerous letters of praise for Officer Muschett’s performance and dedication.

Lieutenant Mathew Deysenroth, City of Bridgeport Fire Department
Lieutenant Mathew Deysenroth's dedication to the Department as a leader and company commander throughout the year is exemplary. He is a key figure in organizing donations to the Bridgeport Fallen Firefighters Foundation as well as organizing the Fill-A-Boot drives for Muscular Dystrophy and the Annual Walter Flyntz Memorial Golf Tournament each fall.

Officer Tiffanie Bennett, Fairfield Police Department
On July 26, 2014 Fairfield Police Department conducted a missing person investigation after family members reported their 50 year old son who suffers from dementia, missing and endangered after he left the house in his Gray Mini Cooper and never returned. Approximately 24 hours had passed when Officer Tiffany Bennett driving off-duty in her personal vehicle noticed the Gray Mini Cooper, spotted the car and followed it until the man was stopped and safely returned to his family.

Officer Bennett has also volunteered to take on the extra responsibility of mentoring College Students wishing to explore a career in Law Enforcement through our internship program.

Officer Christopher Holms, Norwalk Police Department
Officer Christopher Holms has been a Norwalk Police Officer since January 1997. He became the Department DARE officer in 2010 and teaches the Drug Awareness Resistance Education program to fifth grade students in Norwalk School. In 2013 he also piloted a DARE program in one middle school for eight grade students and program has been very well received. He also runs a two week DARE summer camp, which this year had 35 campers.

In 2011, Officer Holms took on the development of the Norwalk Police Explorer Post and has grown that program to approximately 40 weekly participants. Through this program, Officer Holms mentors youth age 14 to 20 while teaching them police related skills as well as life lessons. He works diligently with the youth to instill integrity, ethics, and leadership skills while bolstering their self-confidence. He is always inspiring the Explores to strive for improvement and give back to the community.

Officer Christopher Nugent, Shelton Police Department
Officer Christopher Nugent has demonstrated outstanding to the Shelton Police Department with several arrests and investigation in 2014. This included an arrest of a person responsible for a tremendous amount of graffiti, several burglary suspects, drug suspects and a person who broke into cars sealing GPS units.

Officer Nugent and his K-9 unit have supported many community service projects and fundraising events.

Captain Robert Robinson (Ret) of the Bridgeport Police Department
Captain Robert Robinson is a retired Captain of the Bridgeport Police Department. Even for years after his retirement he continued to lead the Department’s Honor Guard. Bob coordinated all of the honor guard activities of the Blue Mass for over a decade from its inception and helped make it the proper event that it is today. His leadership, commitment and character helped to build the formal attendance of Police, Fire and EMS honor guard units from across the county.

Before the uniformed personnel processed to a thunderous version of the National Anthem, Bishop Caggiano thanked the Fairfield County Councils and Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus for their faithful service on the frontlines of the Church and for sponsoring the annual Blue Mass. He also recognized Msgr. Frank McGrath, who is leaving St. John Parish for a new assignment. He described Msgr. McGrath, who has also served for years as a police and fire chaplain, as “a brother priest who has served generously, a man of great faith, and a preacher of the truth.”

Click here to see a slideshow

“House of Hope” Food Drive to help Veterans and the underserved
| September 12, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—St. Vincent’s Health Services and Aquarion Water Company are launching the 4th Annual “House of Hope” Food Drive, running from September 15 until November 14 to help reduce hunger throughout the Greater Bridgeport area.

A ribbon cutting will be held on Monday, September 15 at 11 am at the House of Hope at the entrance to St. Vincent’s Medical Center.

Visitors to St. Vincent’s Medical Center, employees of the health system and Aquarion, and the public are being asked to drop off donations in the “House of Hope”—a special shed located at the hospital entrance for the duration of the drive.
Items collected will be delivered to area food banks and to a veterans’ group. Last year more than six tons of food were donated and organizers hope to surpass that total this year.
Veterans Organization to Benefit for First Time
This year’s collection will benefit The Spooner House in Shelton, Bridgeport Rescue Mission, The Thomas Merton Center, and the St. Vincent’s Family Health Center all in Bridgeport, and for the first time, the Port Five Naval Veterans organization, also in Bridgeport. All branches of the armed forces belong to the Port Five group, which will redistribute donated food to other veterans’ organizations. Plans call for Port Five to use the turkeys donated to host dinners for veterans in need.
“We are happy to once again partner with Aquarion to help bring food to so many families in our region,” said St. Vincent’s Health Services President Stuart G. Marcus, MD, FACS. “Our employees and the public have displayed great generosity and enthusiasm for this project, which is well aligned with the mission entrusted to us by the Daughters of Charity to serve the poor and vulnerable. We are very pleased this year to expand our reach to area veterans and in this small way thank them for their service.”
“Aquarion is delighted to partner with St. Vincent’s Health Services to offer assistance to individuals and families who require a lift,” said Charles V. Firlotte, President and CEO of Aquarion Water Company. “As the difficult economy continues to negatively impact local families, we hope to make the holiday season a bit brighter for them and for our veterans who have given so much to our country and to the global community.”
What to Donate
The organizers ask that only nutritious, non-perishable, non-expired items be donated. They suggest canned fish, meat, soup, stews, fruits and vegetables as well as pasta, peanut butter, cold cereal and powdered milk.
Serving this year as co-chairpersons are Lucille Bentley, RN, and Kareem Wali of St. Vincent’s and Carolyn Giampe of Aquarion.
Monetary donations are also accepted and are turned into double the amount in food purchases thanks to the generosity of  Big Y in Monroe, which is continuing its  "buy one get one" arrangement. Stew Leonard’s will again be donating turkeys to the House of Hope.
People wishing to make a monetary donation to the House of Hope may do so at the hospital information desk. Gift cards to grocery stores will also be accepted.
For more information, please contact at St. Vincent’s:Lucille Bentley at 203.576.5130 or Kareem Wali at 203-576-5221; at Aquarion: Carolyn Giampe at 203.337.5908.

Blue Mass on Sunday in Darien
| September 12, 2014


DARIEN—The Annual Diocesan Blue Mass honoring fire, police and rescue workers will be held on Sunday September 14, 11:30 am at Saint John Church in Darien. A reception immediately following Mass will be held in the Blanchard Center on parish grounds.

Click here to see a slideshow

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the main celebrant, along with diocesan priests who serve as police and fire chaplains in Fairfield County. Father Charles Allen, S.J., special assistant to the president of Fairfield University, is serving as chairman of the event.

Law enforcement, fire and emergency medical service personnel of all faiths in Fairfield County along with members of the general public are invited to attend the Mass and reception.

Now in its 13th year, the Blue Mass has grown into a moving and memorable commemoration of the courage and commitment of the uniformed personnel who protect our health and safety every day of the year in Fairfield County.    
“In remembering the heroism and loss of 9/11, we also celebrate the courage and commitment of all those who put their lives on the line to protect us,” said Bishop Caggiano.
The Blue Mass takes its name from the blue uniforms worn by police, fire and emergency services personnel. Founded by Bishop William E. Lori, the Blue Mass was initiated to celebrate the life and heroism of those who died during the 9/11 tragedy in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. Each year it also recognizes local first responders.

Chaplains of the Fairfield County fire, police and emergency medical service departments include: Rev. Charles H. Allen, S.J., Fairfield Town Emergency Services; Rev. Michael A. Boccaccio, Norwalk Police Department; Msgr. Laurence R. Bronkiewicz, Ridgefield Police Department; Msgr. Stephen M. DiGiovanni, Stamford Police Department; Rev. Thomas F. Lynch, Stratford Fire Department; Rev. Joseph J. Malloy, Bridgeport Fire Department (ret.); Msgr. Frank C. McGrath, Westport Fire and Police Departments and Noroton 
Fire Department; Deacon John J. Moranski, Bridgeport Police Department; Deacon William D. Murphy, Germantown Fire Department; Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci, Danbury Police Department; Rev. Robert J. Post, Stamford Fire Rescue Department; Msgr. William J. Scheyd, New Canaan Emergency Services and Norwalk Fire Department; Msgr. Richard J. Shea, Trumbull Police Department; Rev. Thomas P. Thorne, Federal Bureau of Investigation; Rev. Terrence P. Walsh, Stamford Police Department; Rev. Frank A. Winn, Glenville Fire Department.

The Fairfield County councils and assemblies of the Knights of Columbus are sponsoring the Mass again this year.  

(To learn more about this event, contact Father Charles Allen, Blue Mass chair: 203.254.4000, ext. 2316, or the Diocese of Bridgeport: 203.416.1358.)

Retired NYC firefighter remembers 9/11 every day
| September 11, 2014 • by By Roxanne King, National Catholic Register


DENVER—This week the world will remember the 13th anniversary of the events of 9/11, but for Steamboat Springs resident Kevin Nerney, 56, the attacks are “a daily memory.”

On September 11, 2001, Lieutenant Nerney was settling into a new life in Steamboat Springs, having just retired two weeks earlier from the New York City Fire Department. He watched as the Twin Towers crumbled, knowing that his crew would most likely be on the ground.

Click here to read a story on 9/11 from the National Catholic Reporter.

A New York City firefighter looks up at the remains
of the South Tower of the World Trade Center
on September 13, 2001.

He found out later that all the men from his fire station on duty that day died, including his best friend. He took the first available plane back to New York to help with the search and cleanup efforts.

“It was a horror show,” he said recalling the 10 days he spent at Ground Zero.

At one point he called his wife, Kathy, and told her, “Kath, there’s nothing but down here but dust.”

In June, Nerney learned he has a form of brain cancer, stage four glioblastoma, which is among the cancers tied to the toxic ground zero cleanup area. He immediately underwent surgery, radiation and chemotherapy and is getting ready to start another series of chemo. His medical bills have topped $640,000.

Because he worked as a volunteer at ground zero, Nerney was initially told he’s ineligible for financial assistance from the World Trade Center Health Program, which was established as part of the 2010 Zadroga Act to respond to the health crisis involving workers at ground zero.

John Feal, founder of the Feal Good Foundation which was instrumental in getting the Zadroga Act and two related bills passed, said Nerney was wrongly denied but must act quickly to meet an upcoming deadline.

“They need to file before October 12,” he said by phone from his Nesconset, N.Y. office. “He is eligible.”

Some 2,800 people have been diagnosed with 9/11-related cancer, Feal said, adding that the number is expected to grow as cancer can take years to appear. More than 30,000 responders have been certified as having 9/11-related illness or injury, according to the World Trade Center Program.

“Since 9/11, we’ve lost over 16,000 people to a variety of 9/11-related illnesses or injuries,” said Feal, himself a first responder who was injured during the ground zero cleanup.

On September 8, New York lawmakers called on Congress to renew the Zadroga Act and extend it for 25 more years. The medical treatment and compensation components of the act are set to expire in 2015 and 2016.

“We have an uphill battle,” Feal said about the legislation, which is expected to be introduced later this month.

Ground Zero Fallout

Todd O’Brien, 57, is a retired fireman who fought fires with Kevin Nerney and worked alongside him at Ground Zero. O’Brien, who is now cancer free, came down with prostate cancer and his lungs now only work at slightly more than half capacity. Both of his medical issues are tied to 9/11 cleanup efforts. Because he was a working firefighter during the cleanup, he has received compensation for his medical treatment.

“I was there 10 minutes after the second tower went and stayed two months,” O’Brien said by phone from Lindenhurst, N.Y. “It was so much dust down there my lungs are shot. What we’re going to see is more and more men who were there are going to be getting sick and dying.”

Another of Nerney’s fellow firefighters who helped at Ground Zero and is now retired, Bruce DelGiorno, 56, has 9/11-related asthma, sinusitus and was treated for a pre-cancer thyroid tumor.

“I’m doing all right,” he said from his home in New Hyde Park, N.Y. “I’m very lucky.”

Three days before 9/11, DelGiorno and another New York firefighter, Capt. Emilio Longo, were in Steamboat Springs helping Nerney build his retirement home. Longo later died of 9/11-attributed lymphoma.

“It’s a tragedy,” DelGiorno said, adding that on 9/11 he’ll attend a memorial service and later this month he’ll attend a Mass and plaque dedication in Long Island honoring Longo.

Meanwhile, Kathy Nerney, a former teacher who retired to help care for her husband, is working through stacks of paperwork to get Kevin’s medical claim accepted. And his treatment costs continue to mount.

“It’s a lot of hoops you have to jump through,” she said. “There’s a lot of phone calls, a lot of hurry up and wait.” To help Nerney, Holy Name Church, where Kevin and Kathy are parishioners—their two children Joseph and Marykate are grown and have both served in the military—has established the Kevin Nerney Fund.

“People are so compassionate,” Kathy Nerney said, expressing gratitude.

Although her husband’s speech is a bit slurred at times and his thought process can be fuzzy, the cancer hasn’t slowed him down. He is Grand Knight of his parish’s Knights of Columbus Council and a member of the men’s Beer and Bible group.

“I think he’s missed one Knights’ meeting, that’s it,” Kathy Nerney said. “He still goes to Beer and Bible every Tuesday and if he can’t go, they come here. Last week he made chili for them. He keeps truckin’ along.”


Click here to read the original story.

Progress for Trinity Catholic football in 2014
| September 11, 2014 • by By Rich DePreta, Stamford Advocate


STAMFORD—Donny Panapada is proud to be a member of the FCIAC football head coaches fraternity.

Dominick Svrcek carries the ball as he practices
with the Trinity Catholic football at the high school
on Saturday, September 6, 2014. Photo: Lindsay Perry

The Trinity Catholic football team practices at the high school
on Saturday, September 6, 2014. Photo: Lindsay Perry

Randy Polonia practices with the Trinity Catholic football
at the high school on Saturday, September 6, 2014.
Photo: Lindsay Perry

Head Coach Donny Panapada talks to a player during
Trinity Catholic's football practice at the high school
on Saturday, September 6, 2014. Photo: Lindsay Perry

He has nothing but love for his alma mater, Trinity Catholic High School.

He is ready to embrace the challenge of his second season in arguably the state's strongest football conference.

"Things are running a lot smoother. The team knows what I expect. And I think I learned from my mistakes," Panapada said. "I'm doing things a little differently. The team and I talk every day about expectations and goals."

The first expectation will be victory as the Crusaders were 0-11 overall, 0-9 in the FCIAC in 2013.

Here are five questions facing Trinity Catholic on the eve of the 2014 campaign:

1. What is different to give you hope of a better start in 2014?

"We had spring football practice this year. And that gave us momentum into our off-season work this summer," Panapada said. "We had the Bluestreak Sports Training people from Chelsea Piers (in Stamford) work with us for seven weeks before we began our preseason practice. It was three times per week and we had about 40 kids each day at Chelsea Piers this summer.

"I see more speed, more agility. I see kids in better physical condition," Panapada continued. "It has allowed us to spend more time on football in the preseason rather than conditioning. We have a new offensive coordinator this year. Alex Drayson spent the last three seasons at Staples working with QB Jack Massie."

2. What is the situation at quarterback for 2014?

"Junior Anthony Lombardi is a transfer from Mahopac, N.Y. He is 6-foot-3 and around 195 pounds," Panapada said. "He's been a pleasant surprise this preseason. I'm impressed with him physically. But more impressed mentally. He's so intelligent, learning this new offense on the fly. That's why we brought coach Drayson in as offensive coordinator. We want to attract athletes with aspirations of playing college football. That starts with the quarterback. Our new offense will prepare our quarterbacks to play in college football systems."

3. The good news is you have the kids' attention by opening the season once again against Sheehan of Wallingford. The bad news is you're opening (Saturday, September 13 at home at 2 pm) against Sheehan who beat you 63-26 in Game 1 of 2013.

"I remember the bus ride home very clearly. I learned a lot in my first varsity game as a head coach," Panapada said. "It was not a great ride. You question a lot of process. It was quiet reflection. Inner talks with myself. The best part was we improved from week 1 to week 2 (a 14-8 loss to intracity rival Westhill)."

4. Does Lombardi have enough playmakers on offense?

The answer is yes. If they stay healthy. Sophomore Courtlyn Victrum (5-foot-6) is a year wiser about running off the work of his offensive line rather than merely using his speed. Randy Polonia will be more of a wide receiver than taking punishment at running back. Thomas Costigan (who will play at Bryant University in fall 2015) is a hardnosed and underrated tight end.

"Polonia is a phenomenal athlete. The key is to get the ball to kids in space," Panapada said. "Our offensive playmakers could have just as much impact on defense."

5. What are some of the things that have to happen for Trinity Catholic to reach a point where it can fairly compete with the FCIAC's upper echelon?

The first thing is the catholic school's enrollment numbers have to increase significantly. It is hard to build a football program when there are more freshmen girls enrolling than freshman boys. Trinity Catholic and Harding are the last two FCIAC football teams playing on grass fields.

Overall program roster numbers are such that dings from preseason scrimmages create too many minor injuries heading into a season.

The changeover to an artificial turf field begins the day AFTER the 2014 football season concludes. Lights are also part of the plan for Trinity Catholic as the Crusaders can join the world of Friday Night Lights rather than remain playing home games on Saturday morning or Saturday afternoon.

The turf field and lights will attract better athletes. The turf field will help Trinity Catholic practice better throughout the season. Snow and days of mud after a rainstorm won't be obstacles to progress. The turf will also aid the Crusaders' passing offense.

Click here to view the original story from the Stamford Advocate.

The truth about climate change
| September 10, 2014 • by By Tony Magliano


“Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change …  loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions?”

These aren’t the radical words from the leader of a secular environmental organization, no; these are the radical words from the former leader of the Catholic Church!

In his 2010 World Day of Peace message titled, “If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation,” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote that “it would be irresponsible not to take seriously” the signs of a growing environmental crisis.

And the greatest threat to the natural world is climate change, caused principally by human induced global warming. Burning fossil fuels – oil, gas and coal for energy – produces huge amounts of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the lower atmosphere.

The earth indeed is getting hotter. It’s not a liberal hoax.

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), last decade was the hottest on record.

And according to NASA, “97 percent of climate scientists agree that global warming trends over the past century are “very likely due to human activities.”
In a study titled “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis” the highly authoritative United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed global warming since the mid-20th century.

According to new findings by the World Meteorological Organization, concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide—the major cause of global warming—increased at their fastest rate in 2013 than in any year since 1984.

And in a study by the non-governmental organization Germanwatch, the U.S. is the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide.

To underscore the critical importance for world leaders to robustly respond to the climate changing dangers already beginning to affect the earth and humanity, the U.N. on September 23 will host “Climate Summit 2014.”

With all of the solid scientific evidence validating climate change and global warming, I was wondering why this summer has felt cooler than normal where I live in Maryland.  
Dr. Brenda Ekwurzel, senior climate scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, explained to me that the continued relatively faster warming of the Arctic region is causing shifts in the jet stream pattern which in turn is leading to more unusual weather in the Northern Hemisphere.

She said that during the first half of this year the same jet stream that has been bringing mostly cooler weather to the eastern U.S. has caused hot drought conditions along the west coast.

As the Arctic and Greenland ice caps continue to melt, ocean levels will dangerously rise—putting large areas of world-wide coastal land under water.

While too much water will plague many, countless others will suffer from not having enough.

According to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Hundreds of millions of people face water shortages that will worsen as temperatures rise.”

We need to quickly move toward, and heavily invest in, clean, safe and renewable alternative sources of energy—like wind, solar and geo-thermal.

Pope Benedict writes, “In a word, concern for the environment calls for a broad global vision of the world; a responsible common effort to move beyond approaches based on selfish  interests towards a vision constantly open to the needs of all peoples.”

Our wise retired Holy Father is absolutely right!  
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.

Bishop announces reorganization of diocesan offices to prepare for change and renewal
| September 09, 2014


NORWALK— Bishop Frank J Caggiano told a gathering of more than 500 lay leaders, pastors and synod delegates that it is important to “get the diocesan house in order” as the 350 delegates of Synod 2014 begins their work to help plan for the future of the Catholic Church in Fairfield County.

“As the Bishop, I have an obligation to ensure that the work of the Diocese, its organization, processes and procedures, reflect the best practices that I ask all our parishes and schools to adopt. I believe in leadership by example. So before we ask any other institution to undergo change, the Diocese must go first,” he said during the address.

In his first State of the Diocese at All Saints School auditorium in Norwalk, the Bishop outlined the pastoral, administrative and financial challenges facing the diocese, and said he expects to make a “state of the diocese” address a yearly event under his tenure. At the end of last year, he also released all of the financial statement of the diocese.

His 50-minute talk was interrupted several times by applause. The Bishop also received a standing ovation at the completion of his address.

In addition to announcing a major restructuring of the administrative offices of the Church, the Bishop announced that he is exploring the possibility of moving the Catholic Center out of the existing building in the North End to a new location in downtown Bridgeport. He said the current building is too large and expensive to maintain and does not meet contemporary needs.

The Bishop also announced that the diocese will move St. John Fisher Seminary from its current location in Stamford to the site of the Bishop’s residence in Trumbull in order to prepare for the growing number of vocations to the priesthood.

The diocese will also introduce a new social media app in November for i-phone and androids to assist people seeking Mass times and other information about parishes and diocesan ministries.

Much of his talk focused on the financial challenges which parishes, schools and other ministries face, and the strategic planning process the diocese is about to launch for parishes and schools.

“Most importantly we are also working to ensure long-term financial sustainability of the Diocese. Our two major financial challenges are related operational deficits and accumulation of debt, and for the first time in many years we will end the fiscal year 2014 without a deficit.”

He added that he will lead the way by adopting best practices that will lead to cost savings and greater efficiency in Catholic Center operations.

The Bishop said he is committed to lowering the operational costs for the Catholic Center by at least $500,000 more for the 2015 fiscal year. He also announced plans to increase revenue by leveraging the Diocese’ real estate assets to generate income that will help fund operations.

In praising the 35 Catholic elementary and high schools sponsored by the Diocese for their faith-based education, diversity, outreach to the poor and academic excellence, Bishop Caggiano said they face significant challenges. He noted that enrollment continues to decline as parents struggle with tuition costs and operational deficits strain diocesan finances.

The Bishop said that diocesan schools currently run an operational deficit of over $1 million a year, which the diocese has subsidized to help schools with the cost of healthcare and other ongoing expenses. He added that Catholic schools are more cost effective than public schools and called upon the state to provide aid to help keep them viable.

The Bishop pointed to good news in the growth of the endowments created by Faith in the Future and said the board will soon authorize payment of $925,000 for the 2014 fiscal year.

He began his talk by outlining some of the stark pastoral challenges that face the Church as a result of changes in the secular culture and the sexual abuse crisis within the Church.

Mass attendance has dropped and sacramental observance has also decreased in the form of fewer baptisms, marriages and confirmations. Other barometers are equally challenging; only 20% of all confirmation students remain active in the faith after 5 years from their Confirmation. Likewise, the largest Christian church in the US is the Catholic Church: the second largest are former Catholics,” he said.

He said the Synod, which is about to convene its first General Session, will address these pastoral challenges.

“The Synod, is one of the most important initiatives of my Episcopal service and I ask for prayers for its success, “ he said. “Its purpose is to allow us, with Christ’s grace, to learn from our past but not be paralyzed by it, to face our pastoral challenges at their roots, and to move forward in faith together.”

While the Bishop outlined many serious challenges, he was optimistic that the Diocese has already turned the corner, and he noted that much good work is underway in the many programs and services such as the 1.5 million meals and the 15,000 hours of counseling provided by Catholic Charities each year to the poor and needy.

He said he was also in the process of re-promulgating all of the safe environments policies of the diocese to build on the good work that has already be done and further strengthen protection for children and healing for victims of abuse.

“I am honored, excited and humbled to be a co-worker with you in the life of our Church at this singular moment. None of what I have described frightens me. I am energized by the challenge before us and I hope you are as well,” he added.

The Diocese of Bridgeport includes more than 470,000 registered Catholics in Fairfield County. In addition to its 82 parishes, the diocese sponsors 30 regional elementary schools and five diocesan high schools, educating 10,000 youth, the St. John Fisher Seminary, the Queen of Clergy Residence and a wide range of social services through Catholic Charities and other institutions.

The Bishop said he was not daunted by the challenges and he asked that "every single one of us re-dedicate ourselves to the work of strengthening, revitalizing and healing the Church of Bridgeport."

Noting that Pope Francis has challenged the Church “to look anew at ways by which we can renew our mission,” the Bishop asked everyone in attendance to help build up communities of faith by supporting their parishes and schools.

“When I was installed as your bishop just one year ago, I spoke of building spiritual bridges in our midst, because we all seek healing and reconciliation. Often what we forget that great structure like the Brooklyn Bridge are composed of thousands of stones, and each is essential for the stability of the bridge. Saint Paul reminds us that we are living stones who make up the Church of Christ. Each of us is essential and needed to realize its mission. I am confident we will make the bridge to the future of the Church stronger, one stone at a time as we witness the faith and share our talents in service and love.,” he said.

Bishop Caggiano was installed as Fifth Bishop of Bridgeport on September 19, 2013 at St. Theresa Church in Trumbull, and began almost immediately to take steps to reorganize the diocese.

On February 22, 2014, he formally convoked the Fourth Synod of the Diocese of Bridgeport, the first in 32 years, as an opportunity for renewal and pastoral planning for the future of the local Church. After a series of listening sessions with over 4,000 comments by laity, priests and religious across the diocese, the bishop announced the Synod 2014 themes of empowering youth, building up the community of faith, fostering evangelical outreach, and promoting works of charity and justice.


Click here to watch video of this event

Click here to read and article from the National Catholic Reporter.

Ribbon cutting at St. Mark's
| September 09, 2014


STRATFORD—St. Mark School began their 50th anniversary year with much to celebrate on September 4, the school held its playground ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Construction on the new playground had begun on the last day of school and was completed in time for the first day of summer camp. St. Mark School had been named one of the five winning schools in the 2013-2014 Dannon Rally for Recess Contest.

The promotion included participants collecting entry codes found on specially marked Danimals and Danonino yogurt products or mailing in for free codes. The St. Mark School community rallied together to accrue over 22,000 codes, the highest number of codes collected by any school in the contest. Students, parents, grandparents, faculty, friends and neighboring schools all contributed to this successful grassroots effort. One grandmother collected nearly 5,000 codes herself!

St. Mark's pastor, Father Donald Guglielmi, blessed the playground, and Stratford Mayor John Harkins was a special guest Mayor Harkins, an alumnus of St. Mark School, shared with the students his memories of recess back when he was a student. He spoke of days where an entire class of students shared one kickball. News Channel 12 was on hand to cover the ribbon cutting ceremony.

St. Mark School is not only celebrating a new school playground this year, but also it 50th Anniversary.

To see News Channel 12 coverage, go to

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Happy New Year!
| September 09, 2014


On the first Sunday of Advent, I usually begin my homily by proclaiming in a loud voice with arms outstretched, “Happy New Year!”

This usually surprises everyone, so after a moment of silent confusion, the church usually erupts in hearty laughter. Then I explain that it really is a new year, at least in the life of the Church. Whether this exercise has any lasting catechetical effect, I do not know, but it is a pretty good way to start a homily.

If I had to reduce my priestly formation to the two most interesting words I learned in seminary, those words would be “polyvalent” and “ecclesiogenesis.” Both words appeal to me because they sum up the answer to various theological and church-related issues that have presented themselves to me over the years.

One of my ingenious professors at Pope St. John XXIII Seminary (I can’t remember who) was teaching us about the sacraments one day and he explained that the Eucharist is polyvalent, as are all of the sacraments. This means that the Eucharist, the sacraments and the Church itself have multiple meanings. No one meaning can be attached to something that is polyvalent. It is another way of saying that God, the Church and the sacraments are mysteries (meaning that they cannot be fully explained).

Ecclesiogenesis refers to the beginning of the Church, and akin to polyvalence, the Church has had many seminal moments. Before I entered seminary, I frequently heard – especially on Pentecost—that “today is the birthday of the Church!” Pentecost is truly a new beginning—an ecclesiogenesis—in the life of the Church, but where would we be without the Incarnation, the Annunciation, or even the Immaculate Conception? In fact, would we have need for the saving mission of Jesus Christ if it was not for the sin of our first parents (“O happy fault!”)?

If the Church can be said to have had many beginnings and new beginnings, can’t we also be said to have many beginnings and new beginnings in our own lives too?

September marks one of those new beginnings in our lives. In fact, the people first called by God, the people of the “First Testament” celebrate their new year—Rosh Hashana—in September.

In the Northern Hemisphere, September is perfectly suited to new beginnings. The old is on the way out and the new is on the way in, if only in the form of hopes and dreams. We know instinctively that before the rebirth of spring we will have to travel the cold desert highway of winter, alone, but in September, we can still be filled with hope.

In Fairfield County, people have come to see September as quite literally the beginning of a new year. Technically, it is the beginning of the new academic year, but along with that comes participation in sports teams, dancing classes, music lessons, etc. Students enter the school year at a particular grade level and hopefully finish the year ready to advance to the next step.

This newness in September has created some problems for the Church that are relatively recent. Not long ago, a friend of mine asked me the following question at a summer BBQ: “We don’t really have to go to Church in the summer, do we?”

In a very strange way—at least from the perspective of a priest—many Fairfield County Catholics have come to see Church attendance as something requisite during the academic year and optional, or even unnecessary, during the summer months. This is something new in the life of the Church, and I would not call it ecclesiogenesis. The idea of taking the summer off from going to Church is not a Roman Catholic idea at all. It has unfortunately crept into our lives somehow from society at large, and unfortunately, most parishes in our diocese do little if anything to counter the trend. But that is the topic for another blog, another day.

The good thing about September, from a Church perspective, is that parishioners in the Diocese of Bridgeport hear God’s call to return to Church, and they begin anew in their practice of the faith.

Finally, for a long time I have believed that it is unnecessarily restrictive to limit resolutions to New Year’s Day. It is always a good day to make a resolution! September is particularly good for resolutions because we can see in front of us an expanse of nine months or so in which we know we can focus. By June, who knows what we may have accomplished!

September is a time of new beginnings. I encourage you to make resolutions as we all begin this new year, academic or otherwise. Before January arrives, we will also have Advent. So, Happy New Year!

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Bishop to speak on ‘State of the Diocese’
| September 07, 2014 • by By Brian D. Wallace


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will deliver a major “State of the Diocese” address on September 9 at 7:30 pm in the auditorium of All Saints School in Norwalk.

Almost 500 priests, religious, and lay leaders throughout the diocese have been invited to attend the talk, in which the bishop will outline a “turnaround plan” to reorganize the management and administrative functions provided by the Catholic Center and move the diocese forward to a new model of service to parishes and the faithful.

“The talk is meant to give a summary of the state of the diocese today, administratively, pastorally and financially. It will indicate the major initiatives that we will be launching in the coming year to address the immediate challenges and the long-term opportunities that we face in all three areas,” said Bishop Caggiano.

Bishop Caggiano said that the Diocesan Synod, with over 350 delegates throughout the diocese, will address the longer-term pastoral challenges, but that it’s also important for the diocese to move forward with administrative and financial changes to support the major synod directions.

“Given the synod’s task to address our long-term pastoral challenges, work is also underway to address those administrative, financial and pastoral challenges that are more immediate in nature. These more immediate issues must be addressed simultaneously with the synod so that a proper support structure and needed financial resources will be available to implement whatever initiatives and directives will come from the synod,” he said in his invitation to attend the address.

The turnaround plan is a response to findings from the strategic analysis of the Catholic Center by the National Executive Service Corp (NESC), commissioned by the bishop in February. The goal is to create a 21st Century model of organization that takes advantage of exciting opportunities and helps the diocese respond to challenges faced by the Church.

About 100 people work in the Catholic Center in the North End of Bridgeport, which houses the chancery, or diocesan curia, represented by the Bishop’s Office, the vicar general and the chancellor, along with offices for diocesan schools, Pastoral Services, the the Tribunal, Catholic Charities, Development, Finance, Clergy Personnel, Communications, Human Resources, and other ministries and apostolates.

Another 30 Catholic Center employees work off-site at St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford, Catholic Cemeteries, the Catherine Denis Keefe Queen of Clergy Residence for retired priests in Stamford, and in the pastoral care teams of local convalescent facilities.

NESC is a team of volunteer consultants with a wide range of experience in business and management settings. Its goal is to strengthen the management of non-profit organizations through a high-quality, affordable consulting service.

The Diocese of Bridgeport includes more than 460,000 registered Catholics in Fairfield County. In addition to its 82 parishes, the diocese sponsors 30 regional elementary schools and five diocesan high schools, educating 10,000 youth, the St. John Fisher Seminary, the Queen of Clergy Residence and a wide range of social services through Catholic Charities and other institutions.

Bishop Caggiano was installed as Fifth Bishop of Bridgeport on September 19, 2013 at St. Theresa Church in Trumbull, and began almost immediately to take steps to reorganize the diocese.

On February 22, 2014, he formally convoked the Fourth Synod of the Diocese of Bridgeport, the first in 32 years, as an opportunity for renewal and pastoral planning for the future of the local Church. After a series of listening sessions with over 4,000 comments by laity, priests and religious across the diocese, the bishop announced the Synod 2014 themes of empowering youth, building up the community of faith, fostering evangelical outreach, and promoting works of charity and justice.

>>> Click here to view larger version of live stream

Windows to the Soul
| September 04, 2014


ROME—Fr. John B. Giuliani, a major American artist and priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport, will be featured next week in an exhibit at the Gallery of Contemporary Sacred Art in the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome.

Fr. Guiliani, who has won acclaim for contemporary icons of Catholic saints in the image of Native Americans. The exhibit will run from September 13-24 in Rome.

The exhibit at the historically significant church in Rome will include 20 of his works, acrylic-on-gesso panel paintings that depict the Native American People as the original spiritual presence on American soil.

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo is an Augustinian church that stands on the north side of Piazza del Popolo, one of the most famous squares in Rome. The art in the church includes works by Pinturicchio Bernardino di Betto, (1454-1513) and Caravaggio (1571-1610) often described as the father of modern painting.

Art critics have praised his paintings as “cross cultural works” that marry the spirituality of traditional iconography with the sensuality of the Italian Renaissance in a unique contemporary style.

A native of Greenwich, Father John Battista Giuliani was an artistic child whose parents and teachers encouraged him to pursue his artistic interests, which led him to an undergraduate degree in Fine Arts at New York's Pratt Institute. While at the Pratt School of Art in New York City, he went through a conversion experience reading Thomas Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain, and its spiritual journey toward unity with all that is holy. He decided then to enter St. John Seminary in Brighton, MA, and was ordained in 1960.

After earning M.A. degrees in classical literature and art, theology and American Studies, Fr. Giuliani taught Latin, the Humanities and American Film for fifteen years at Christ the King Preparatory Seminary in Southport and at Fairfield University. He served as Chaplain of Sacred Heart University from 1968 to 1976.

In 1977, with the permission of the Most Rev. Walter, W. Curtis, Second Bishop of Bridgeport, Father Giuliani embarked on a new pursuit, founding the Benedictine Grange, a small monastic community in West Redding, Connecticut.

In 1990 Giuliani once again took up painting and began a year-long study of Orthodox iconography with Russian icon master Vladislav Andreyev at the School of Sacred Art in Greenwich Village. Having absorbed the traditional techniques, he went on to create a stunning series of contemporary icons with images of Native Americans as subjects. They have since been exhibited throughout the United States and the world.

In an interview with Sojourners Magazine, Father Giuliani explained why he was drawn to painting icons of Native Americans.

“Even though I’m not Native American, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the varied indigenous cultures of this land. Their understanding of the world of nature and of God, their emphasis on being caretakers rather than exploiters of the land—all that is wonderfully consonant with the best of Christian thought and tradition. In my work I try to celebrate a union of a common spiritual understanding, to show how a single mystery can be approached through diverse cultures.”

For more information contact The Benedictine Grange, Redding, Connecticut 068996. Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

L to R: Navajo Jesus and Children, Joseph's Dream (Guatemalan), Lakota Victory Christ, Jesus Breaking Bread
Click here to view more paintings from Father Giuliani

Cathedral Academy Volunteer is "Hometown Hero"
| September 04, 2014 • by From News 12 Connecticut


BRIDGEPORT—Stephen Mac McLaughlin is better known as Mr. Mac to the students at the St. Augustine upper school campus of Cathedral Academy in Bridgeport.

The retired teacher and super volunteer is this week's "Hometown Hero" as featured in Cablevision's News 12 report.

Working with Principal Larry DiPalma, Mr. Mac, who taught 40 years, has enriched the lives of students and faculty alike.

The Catholic Academies of Bridgeport, formerly known as the Cathedral Education Cluster, are faith-filled learning communities comprised of three elementary schools in the city of Bridgeport, St. Andrew Academy, Cathedral Academy, and St. Ann Academy.

Since the late 1880s, Catholic schools in Bridgeport have educated generations of students filled with gospel values and eager to learn and live responsible disciplined and purposeful lives. All Catholic Academies of Bridgeport schools accredited by the state of CT and NEASC, 100% of our graduating 8th graders attend high school and nearly 100% attend college. The Bridgeport Catholic schools embrace our culturally, spiritually, and economically diverse environment.

For information on the St. Augustine Campus of Cathedral Academy or to make a donation, call 203-366-6500.

Aiming to form amazing parishes
| September 03, 2014 • by By Mary Rezac, CNA/EWTN NEWS


DENVER—Some 500 Catholic leaders and their pastors from across the United States met recently at the first-ever Amazing Parish conference in Denver to brainstorm and swap ideas about improving parish life.

Father Ken Simpson (far right) brainstorms with parish leadership
at the Amazing Parish conference August 28.

The newly founded Amazing Parish movement seeks to provide resources to pastors and parish leaders so they can create a thriving parish life.

The conference, held August 27-28 at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center, featured Catholic speakers and workshops on topics such as parish leadership teams, formation programs and evangelization.

For a movement that is just starting out, interest in the conference was widespread, and the overall response was very positive.

“Would it be wrong to say it has been amazing?” quipped Matt Manion, president of the Catholic Leadership Institute and a speaker at the conference.

“But it has really been an excellent experience of Church, of prayer and of people who are open to new ideas and new ways of serving God through the parish,” he told CNA.

Many of the speakers, like Manion, are Catholics serving in leadership roles for big companies who are adapting tricks of the trade of company leadership to practical ideas for parish leadership.

“The Church is larger than maybe any company that these kind of guys work with, so we have to be strategic,” said Amazing Parish staff member Chris Stefanick. “We have to have the best practices and good team-building skills, and so I think what we’re given is really unique here, and it has been received really well.”

Stefanick is also a social-media evangelist at and helped host the conference, which filled to its 500-person capacity before it was even officially advertised.

“Both that and how it has been received, it just confirms that it’s meeting a very huge need in the Church,” he said.

Wide Range of Experiences

Attendees of the conference represented a wide range of parish experiences, from rural, spread-out areas to parishes containing thousands of registered families and several other Catholic churches within a square mile.

Father Cory Sticha made the trip from St. Mary’s in Malta, Mont., with his parish director of religious education and a member of his parish council. He pastors an area three times the size of Rhode Island but only has around 200 registered families in his parish.

The best part about the Amazing Parish movement, he said, is the resources.

Everyone at the conference received a binder with guiding questions and planning sheets for each of the seven foundational parts needed to create an amazing parish. There are several formation talks and free resources on the website as well, and attendees of the conference also received a free DVD set of formation talks that would normally be priced around $100.

“For us, in a smaller parish, having a lot of resources that are low cost — free or relatively cheap—is a big deal,” Father Sticha told CNA.

“[For] a bigger parish that has 7,000 families, they don’t think about that; that’s not a big deal to them. It is for us.”

For St. Clements in Chicago, the challenges at the parish level look a little different. With about 4,000 registered parishioners, the Lincoln Park neighborhood church also sees a lot of young adults who hop around to the multiple parishes in the area.

“People are bouncing around all over, not just in our parish; so, in a sense, we don’t really know anybody,” said its pastor, Father Ken Simpson.

On the other hand, the parish is very open to new ideas.

“We’re a place that’s pretty open to change. It’s not like, ‘Why are you doing this?’” he said. “It’s, ‘When are you going to do it?’ which is a real advantage.”

During the conference, parish representatives were encouraged to focus on those things that made their parishes unique and how they could work with those characteristics.

Tim Weiske, a parishioner at St. Clements, said he thought a good goal to focus on for their parish was forming their large young-adult population.

“I see our job as preparing these young adults for the next parish they’re going to be a part of,” he said.

Opportunity to Collaborate

Father Simpson also said that the conference brought to light the regional differences in parish life and presented a chance to collaborate.

“There’s a whole different set of resources and experiences west of the Mississippi,” he observed. “It’s very interesting to me how the East and West are developing in different ways, and it’s cool that we’re here together to [experience] this.”

For Stefanick, the biggest hope he had for the parishes in attendance was that they come away with a clarity of vision and practice for their parish.

“The way we do parish ministry gets so convoluted, so bogged down under tasks, that we don’t even know what we’re about anymore,” he said. “And it becomes so complex for us that it just burns people and ministries out. So we need to put a greater simplicity around what we do, so that we can focus and do the few things that we’re able to do with our finite nature well.”

Because of the huge response, Stefanick said the conference is likely to be split up into several regional conferences in the near future. Parishes interested in checking out the movement can visit the website at

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Global Warming Alarmists
| September 03, 2014


In the debate about climate change and whether or not it is occurring due to man-made influences, I have remained relatively neutral. It used to be called “global warming,” but to the best of my knowledge, the earth has not really warmed over the past 15 years or so. Because they do not have scientific results to prove that the earth is warming, global warming “believers” (as opposed to deniers) changed the name of their cause to “climate change” (which is a pet cause of the liberal mainstream media).

In my opinion, the alarm over climate change absent any real proof is probably an example of left-wing environmental extremists trying to wrest more control of the economy from the industrial complex. Left-wing environmentalists are an important part of President Obama’s political base, and keeping them happy is the main reason he has not come close to approving the Keystone Pipeline, which would help America become more energy independent.

Although I doubt most of the claims of climate change proponents, I am always open to being proven wrong. Below is a letter that I wrote to the editor of the University of Vermont alumni magazine. The cover of the summer 2014 edition caught my attention because it proclaimed that UVM scientists were tracking the impact of climate change in Vermont.

When I arrived at UVM in 1982, those who studied environmental science liked tye-dye shirts, listened to the Grateful Dead (ad nauseum) and played hacky-sack. When it came to studying the environment, I knew that no one could be better at environmental science than UVM students and their professors.

Fast forward to 2014 and to my reading about Vermont climate change in the alumni magazine. I was appalled. As you will see in my letter below, I was extremely disappointed with both the content and the presentation of the article portending to reveal evidence of climate change in Vermont.

If you read my letter below, you may think that my tone is a little bit harsh. My response to that criticism is that this is a serious issue and bad science and alarmism do precious little to help. The alumni relations department may believe that we were all a little “crunchy” back in the 1980’s, but we weren’t. Since my college days, I have grown steadily more conservative in my worldview, and I took personal offense to being presented with left-wing political doctrine in the lead story of my alumni magazine.

Finally, in terms of spirituality, my letter speaks to our need as followers of Jesus Christ to give witness in our daily lives to what we believe. If I did not have this blog as an outlet, my efforts as an “activist” regarding this issue may have been known to only a handful of people. As Catholic Christians in the modern day, we must all be willing to be activists in society. Like the “yeast” that Jesus speaks about, only a small amount raises the entire batch.

August 30, 2014

Mr. Thomas Weaver
Editor, Vermont Quarterly
86 South Williams Street
Burlington, VT  05401

Dear Mr. Weaver:

When I received the VQ summer 2014 edition, its cover and headline caught my attention. However, when I read the headline article inside the magazine, I came away annoyed and dumbfounded.

Let me begin by stating that I am a 1986 UVM grad with an English major who taught English, coached swimming and has now been a Roman Catholic priest for 15 years. In the past year, I donated $100 to The Vermont Cynic, in which I was very involved at UVM, and I donated $100 to the general UVM Fund, so I am a contributor. As you will see, I am copying this letter to The Cynic and President Sullivan, because I think your article on climate change in Vermont—presented to alumni and others as “science”—was actually little more than far left alarmist screed.

For full disclosure, I am a political, social, theological and economic conservative. My conservative identity evolved since my years in college. At UVM, I could not have told you whether I was a democrat or republican. Nevertheless, I am not an ideologue, so I am interested in learning information about real events that are occurring.

Your headline, imposed on a picture of the pristine green mountains, led me to believe that you were reporting on real events taking place in Vermont that proved that a warming climate was having a negative impact on the Vermont environment. After reading your article twice, your writer Joshua Brown never once offered proof that climate change is negatively impacting Vermont.

Mr. Brown wrote that Vermont’s “average temperature has risen almost two degrees farenheit since 1970.” A claim like that requires charts, and the only charts I would accept would be from UVM’s own archival data. It has been clearly shown in recent years—although the liberal mainstream media suppresses it—that the “science” of climate change is filled with deception and false data points. Emails from climate scientists have revealed that they fudge data in order to keep the grants coming and they ostracize scientists who refuse to go along with the idea that rising global temperatures are man-made and a given.

It was quite literally embarrassing for me to have to read that one of the biologists at my alma mater would be quoted in the article as saying that Vermont’s climate will change to Virginia’s climate over the next fifty years, as though that reality has already been scientifically determined. If I am still alive in 50 years, and Vermont’s climate is the same as Virginia’s is now, you can make a small crow-shaped Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cake for me and I will gladly eat it!

I read through the article looking for evidence of climate change impact, and I could not find any in an article with the following sub-heading: “Exploring the impacts of climate change.”

The main point in the article seems to be that reforestation is causing a problem for some species. Another problem - phosphorous pollution - is a polite way of saying that sewage is causing a problem in Lake Champlain. If they are so concerned, why do Mr. Brown and Professor Helms Cahan remain in Burlington? Every time they flush they are adding to the pollution of the lake. In fact, perhaps President Sullivan should just close down UVM altogether to reduce the number of invasive “ape-men” in Vermont.

A strange example to use in the article was the chestnut tree, which was nearly wiped out by a fungus in the early 20th century (not climate change). Mr. Brown writes that UVM “research shows that chestnut nuts and roots can barely tolerate the coldest temperatures of Vermont winter.” It seems to me that warmer temperatures in Vermont might hasten the resurgence of the Chestnut tree!

What was most disappointing for me about this article is that it did not really provide any information to support its supposed argument. President Sullivan should be happy to know that at 50, I am still interested in learning new information and facts. What was presented in the VQ article, however, was conjecture based on far left ideological supposition.

It would have been so nice to have seen a real examination of the situation. Perhaps UVM scientists could have looked for evidence of impact of climate change and not found any. Then, with courage, and not afraid to buck the PC academic community, UVM might have written that its biologists have not found any evidence of climate change in Vermont and that projected future warming remains simply speculation.

That UVM leads-from-behind on a serious scientific issue like climate change is disappointing. I hoped for more from my alma mater. Perhaps this topic can be revisited, and those who dispute the claims of man-made climate change and inevitable rising temperatures will be given a voice too.


Rev. Colin McKenna ’86   

CC: Mr. Joshua Brown
    Professor Sara Helms Cahan
    President Tom Sullivan, J.D.
    The Vermont Cynic

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K of C Charity: Hurricane Sandy Recovery Efforts
| September 02, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—This month's Knights of Columbus charity focuses on renewed efforts to help Connecticut residents recover from damages sustained during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

VOTF Mass for Success of Synod
| August 29, 2014


NORWALK—Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) has invited all delegates to the 2014 Synod and the general public to attend a special Mass for the success of the Synod on September 11 at 7:30 pm at Saint Philip Church in Norwalk.

Father Michael Boccaccio, pastor of Saint Philip, will be the celebrant and will offer a special blessing to all Synod delegates in attendance. Light refreshments will follow the liturgy.

“We are hoping that delegates will come to the liturgy and in some way be uplifted by it.  It’s all about intercession because we are asking God’s blessing on the synod to bring us together as people of God and what’s best for the diocese,” said Jamie Dance, VOTF Chairman.  
Dance, a member of St. Thomas More Parish in Darien, will be one of four delegates from VOTF who have been invited to participate in the Synod.
“We’re praying for the success of the Synod, and we hope that the Mass and blessing will inspire the delegates as we work on items that will be beneficial to the parishes and people throughout the diocese,” she said.
Dance thanked Bishop Caggiano for his leadership and said the Mass at St. Philip is another step forward in the reconciliation process with Voice of the Faithful. It will be first time in a decade that members meet in a Catholic Church.
“We are grateful for our Bishop’s leadership and courage as he guides us on the path of New Evangelization for the Church in Fairfield County. He has given us yet another opportunity to grow in unity and mutual respect,” she said.
Synod 2014 formally begins on September 19, 7:30 pm at Saint Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport with a Solemn Vespers Service, followed by the convening of the first General Session for delegates on Saturday September 20 at St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull.

Readings for the Synod Mass
September 11, 2014

First Reading: Proverbs 2:1-5  (NRSV)

My child, if you accept my words and treasure up my commandments within you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; if you indeed cry out for insight, and raise your voice for understanding; if you seek it like silver, and you search for it as for hidden treasures- then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

Psalm 91“On Eagle’s Wings”

2nd Reading: Colossians 1: 9-14 (New American Bible)  

A reading from a letter of St. Paul to the Colossians –

We have been praying for you unceasingly and asking that you may attain full knowledge of his will through perfect wisdom and spiritual insight.  Then you will lead a life worthy of the Lord and pleasing to him in every way.  You will multiply good works of every sort and grow in the knowledge of God.  By the might of his glory you will be endowed with the strength needed to stand fast, even to endure joyfully whatever may come, giving thanks to the Father for having made you worthy to share the lot of the saints in light.  He rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.  Through him we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins.

Gospel: Matthew 5:1-16 (NRSV)

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came up to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

Blessed are the poor inspirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Prayer of the Faithful                

“Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”  Trusting in this your promise, we come together in prayer for our Diocesan Synod.

The response to our petitions is: Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Send us your Holy Spirit that we may participate in this Synod with passion, imagination and  love.  We ask for the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, courage and – above all – charity.  Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Help us to grow in unity and mutual respect.  Guide us on the path of the New Evangelization as we plan for the future of the Church in Fairfield County.  Bless our Bishop, Frank Caggiano, Clergy, Religious and Faithful and especially those who have been called to be delegates.  Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

On this date of 9/11 so prominent in our memory, let us remember those who suffer still through the loss of loved ones on that day.  May our suffering from these attacks awaken in us an awareness of the pain and fear that so many around the world live with each day.  Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
We also remember the suffering and pain of all who have been hurt in body, mind and spirit by those clergy and religious who betrayed the trust placed in them.  We ask that you heal your people’s wounds and transform their brokenness. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for our faithful members who are suffering illnesses at this time that your presence be a source of comfort and peace and may the souls of all our faithful departed rest in peace.  Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Grant us courage and wisdom, humility and grace, so that we may act with justice and may all that we do reflect your divine plan.  Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Life is a Picnic with the Bishop
| August 27, 2014 • by By Father Colin McKenna


TRUMBULL—Bishop Caggiano has publicly expressed that he thinks his Trumbull residence is too big, but sometimes it is good to have lots of room to entertain.

Last Saturday afternoon, August 23, the bishop hosted a luncheon and social at his residence for seven mothers from Malta House in Norwalk and their young children.

Because of the exquisite weather, all were able to dine picnic-style on the deck overlooking his backyard.

Joan Howard, the coordinator of volunteers at Malta, said “the food was delicious and the conversation was very lively and enjoyable.” She also marveled that the children – all three years old or younger – were so well-behaved. She attributed their best behavior to divine intervention!

The day with the bishop was organized by Dr. Karen Shields, Malta’s pastoral services director. In addition to the mothers and their children, several staff members and a member of the board also attended the festivities, including Lucy Freeman, Malta’s executive director.

The motto of Malta House is “providing ‘Hope for Life’ for new and expectant mothers and their babies.” It is an independent 501C3 charitable organization that seeks to protect life in the womb and assist mothers who may be at risk of homelessness or poverty.

“The answers to many of the problems faced by our residents can often be found within themselves,” Freeman said. “Our mothers find answers when given a compassionate ear and an atmosphere that promotes understanding and personal growth.”

Dr. Shields said that In our “disposable” culture, where terminating pregnancies is seen by many as a “good” for both mothers and society, Malta House is willing to assist mothers long-term and to hopefully see them through to a new, successful life. “We have a case manager who helps women keep a budget, access entitlements and set goals for themselves,” Freeman said. Practical goals include earning a high school diploma and entering or re-entering the workforce.

Providing hope for unwed mothers who are at risk of homelessness or dire poverty is not easy work. Quietly, however, since 1998, Malta House has been helping mothers and their families, and has done so completely independently. It is not part of or otherwise controlled by the Order of Malta or any other association.

Malta House truly is the work of Fairfield County Catholics who are willing to support an organization dedicated to protecting life in the womb and helping unwed mothers get a new start in life. Although Malta House is a Catholic organization, it helps women and their families of all faiths or no faith at all.

By inviting unwed mothers and their young children to his home for a good meal and fellowship, Bishop Caggiano gave great witness to how seriously he holds the mission of protecting innocent life in the womb. He also gives witness to the importance of taking real steps in society to promote a culture of life.

When people reach out to assist the mothers at Malta House, it really impacts their lives and the lives of their children. Joan Howard said that the bishop’s invitation “was a nice opportunity for them to see that other people really care about them, which is not something they experience on a daily basis. That the bishop opened his home to them really boosts their self-esteem and self-worth, and that has a positive influence on their children.”

Malta House has an excellent website at for those interested in learning more about their work and mission. Their phone is 203-857-0088 for those who may want more information. Their address is 5 Prowitt Street, Norwalk, CT  06855. Monetary donations are always welcome, but so are gift cards from stores like Wal-Mart and Kohls. Grocery store gift cards are also a big help. Before donating diapers, clothing items, car seats, and strollers, etc., it is best to contact Malta first to ascertain their current needs.


Click here for a slideshow

Challenging the just war theory
| August 27, 2014 • by By Tony Magliano


Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano

Is there such a thing as a just war? Can the massive death and destruction of armed conflict ever be morally justified by followers of the Prince of Peace?

For the first disciples of Christ the answer was a resounding “No!”

During the first 300 years of Christianity it was unthinkable for followers of the nonviolent Jesus to kill a human being. They took most seriously Jesus’ command: “But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other as well. … Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”

In his book, “Abortion & the Early Church,” Michael J. Gorman cites an address of the famous church father Clement of Alexandria to wealthy Christians: “Contrary to the rest of men enlist for yourself an army without weapons, without war, without bloodshed, without wrath, without stain – pious old men, orphans dear to God, widows armed with gentleness, men adorned with love.”

Gorman emphasizes that Clement’s statement represents the entire body of Christian literature from the first three centuries by affirming Christian faithfulness to Christ’s paramount teaching of love which completely rejects violence and bloodshed.  

But later St. Augustine in response to armed aggression against the innocent, set the Catholic Church on the road to the “just war” theory – quite likely borrowed from the ancient Roman philosopher Cicero – which would tragically lead most Christians  to almost entirely forget in practice the pacifist foundation laid by Jesus and the early church.  

In his book “Kill? For Peace?” the late peace activist and theologian Jesuit Father Richard McSorley wrote, “The theory [just-war] never worked in practice … there is no record of any nation ever using it. No nation today accepts it as national policy … it has become a theory used to justify every war that comes along … this theory is unrealistic and is today outmoded.”

In their 1983 pastoral letter “The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response” the U.S. Catholic bishops wrote that due to the destructive capability of modern technological warfare the just war theory principles of discrimination and proportionality have special significance.

Discrimination insists that civilians must be protected from the harmful actions of combatants. However, modern warfare kills, injures and displaces far more innocent civilians than combatants – just take Iraq and Gaza as sad typical examples.

And the principle of proportionality demands that the damage likely to be inflicted, and the costs of war, must be significantly less than the harm being done by the aggressor. Modern wars have consistently caused far more harm than good – again take Iraq and Gaza as current examples.

In the “Challenge of Peace” the U.S. bishops quoted St. Pope John Paul II: “Today, the scale and horror of modern warfare – whether nuclear or not – makes it totally unacceptable as a means of settling differences between nations. War should belong to the tragic past, to history; it should find no place on humanity’s agenda for the future.”

The day after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq ended, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI – then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – prophetically said, “There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a ‘just war.’”

The Holy See’s former permanent observer to the United Nations, Archbishop Celestino Migliore said the Vatican attitude for centuries was, “War is inevitable, so let’s put some strict conditions to limit its effects. In these last decades we have adopted a different perspective and we say peace is possible, so let’s work tirelessly for peaceful solutions.”

The questions of pacifism, the just war theory, and war itself are very personal for me. Over 33 years ago, I was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army as a conscientious objector. While firing an M-16 at pop-up targets, I realized as a follower of the nonviolent Jesus I could not aim a weapon at another human being, pull the trigger, and kill him or her.

Within a prayerful, honest and respectful atmosphere, the Catholic Church and all Christian churches desperately need to seriously study, debate, dialogue and reevaluate the just war theory in light of the nonviolent Jesus, the early church’s pacifist stance, the impossibility of satisfying all of the just war theory’s principles, the immeasurable harm caused by war – including the vast resources wasted that should instead be used to help the world’s poor – and the unhealthy nationalism and militarism adhered to by countless Christians.

Now to Pope Francis’ recent quoted remarks –often taken out of context – during an airplane news conference in flight to Rome from his pastoral visit to South Korea.

While the pope said it was “licit’ to stop an unjust aggressor, he qualified that statement by adding “I underscore the verb ‘stop.’ I’m not saying ‘bomb’ or ‘make war,’ just ‘stop.’”

There are effective nonviolent ways to counter and even sometimes convert an aggressor: international targeted sanctions, a total arms embargo, non-cooperation with an occupying force, civil disobedience, coordinated underground activity, offering emergency asylum to all fleeing refugees, dialogue, negotiations, forgiveness, reconciliation, and of course prayer.

In a June 8, 2014 prayer for peace, Pope Francis prayed “Lord God of peace, hear our prayer!

“We have tried so many times and over so many years to resolve our conflicts by our own powers and by the force of our arms. … how much blood has been shed … our efforts have been in vain.

“Now, Lord, come to our aid … Give us the courage to say: ‘Never again war’ … Make us sensitive to the plea of our citizens who entreat us to turn our weapons of war into implements of peace.

“Lord, defuse the violence of our tongues and our hands. Renew our hearts and minds, so that the word which always brings us together will be ‘brother,’ and our way of life will always be that of : Shalom, Peace, Salaam!”

And to that, let the people of God say Amen!

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

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Comic Relief
| August 27, 2014


Last Sunday, I began my homily with the following quip: “It is beginning to look like one of the effects of global warming will be cooler summers.”


Humor always involves risk, and because I enjoy taking risks (to a degree), I sometimes go too far in my humorous efforts. You might be surprised that as an English major in college, we learned the following tenet from the English poet William Blake: “You never know how much is enough until you know how much is too much.” There is philosophy in that statement!

As a priest, especially when clothed in my clerics or liturgical vestments, I have learned that people are decidedly less tolerant about the leeway they will give me regarding what is and what is not acceptable in terms of humor.

Nevertheless, over the years – five years of seminary and 15 years of priesthood – I have accumulated quite a file of Church-related humor, and humor that can be used in a homily (I think…).

Because this summer, in addition to being unusually cool, has also been filled with sad and distressing local, national and international events, I thought it might be a good idea to share with you some of the humor that I have acquired over the years. They say that laughter is the best medicine, and as you sort through the assorted bits and pieces below, I hope that you have a few good belly-laughs.

Church Bulletin Bloopers (Ecumenical too: includes some from our Protestant brethren):

Next Sunday is the family BBQ. We still need someone to bring hot dogs and guns.

Next Thursday will be this fall’s first choir practice. Please consider joining. They need all the help they can get.

The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind. They can be viewed in the church basement Saturday.

At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be “What is hell?” Come early and listen to our choir practice.

Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things around the house not worth keeping. Don’t forget your husbands.

When the pastor is away, massages can be given to the church secretary.

The parish outreach committee has enlisted 25 volunteers to visit those not afflicted with any church.

The 8th grade confirmation class will present a version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet on Friday night. Please try to attend this tragedy.

The pastor unveiled the new tithing slogan for our parish last Sunday: “I Upped My Pledge – Up Yours.”

A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.

Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say “hell” to someone who doesn’t care much about you.

The music director invites anyone who enjoys sinning to join the choir.

Bible Study will be held on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. Lunch will be served following the B.S.

The recessional hymn will be “Angels We Have Heard Get High.”

Please remember to pray for all who are sick of our community.


Catholicism Deciphered:

A Catholic choir is a group of people whose singing allows the rest of the congregation to lip-sync.

The recessional hymn is the last song at Mass, often sung a little more quietly since most of the people have already left.


Downright Funny (I hope!!):

After Pope Saint John Paul II was elected Pope, a booming voice with an Italian accent was heard by many coming from the heavens: “I said elect someone with polish!”

(If I am still allowed to publish this blog after posting this piece, I may provide more humorous interludes in the future. Stay tuned…).

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Know worship and serve
| August 26, 2014 • by By Cathal Barry, The Irish Catholic


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut is no stranger to addressing young people on faith and spirituality.

At World Youth Day in Madrid in 2011, he spoke of being ‘Firm in the Faith’ and in 2009 he travelled to Ireland as the main speaker at the Youth 2000 Summer Festival in Clonmacnois and again at Roscrea last year.

At the International Eucharistic Congress that was held in Dublin in 2012, he challenged the young people present to be courageous witnesses to the Faith.

However, on this his 5th visit to the Emerald Isle, the popular US bishop spoke directly to adults, keen to hear his advice on how they might better engage young people in the Church here.

Bishop Caggiano had been invited on this occasion by the Steering Committee for Adult Studies of the Catechism to address delegates on sharing the Faith with the next generation.

Representatives from several Irish dioceses gathered in Clongowes Wood College, Co. Kildare, to listen and learn from the experience of this world renowned prelate.

It was to be a “conversation” as the bishop put it, but Caggiano’s in-your-face style and enthusiasm for the theme meant he alone commanded the room.

Community of faith

“You and I have been asked by the Lord to empower young people to take their rightful place in the community of faith,” he began boldly.

“We have been called to help them to know the Lord,” he continued. “Not just to know about him, but to know him in heart. To worship and adore him. And to serve him by acts of charity and mercy that make the love of God real.”

Challenging words for challenging times, some might say. Bishop Caggiano would agree.

“There is a universal change going on. Every age in the Church life has had challenges, we are no different,” he said.

“We are experiencing perhaps some unique challenges. The very fabric of human society is changing before our eyes and there is no one alive who can fully and completely expose where those changes are leading us.”

The Brooklyn-born bishop was living up to his blunt reputation. But he had not made the trip across the Atlantic to depress anyone. The Irish faithful are “well enough equipped to do that” themselves, he reckoned.

“I am here to embrace the hope that the lord has given us. I believe we are living in a very hopeful time,” he said.

“My experience is that young people are ready and eager to take their place. They remain generous in spirit and open and hungry for the truth of the faith. It is for us in leadership to help them to find that.”

In his own east-coast diocese, Bishop Caggiano has called a diocesan synod, the first in 34 years. In preparatory meetings with delegates, both young and old, he discovered a “vast disconnect” between what young people want and what adults think they want.

Consulting both groups, Bishop Caggiano recalled that the adults spoke of the need for the Church to engage and reach out, the need for relevant music at Mass and more appropriate language in passing on the Faith.

The youth, on the other hand, voiced their interest in the sacraments, in the celebration of Mass, in adoration and in Sacred Scripture.

But what about the unenlightened ones? The young people who are not yet in communion with the Church and those who have left the Church to one side?


In this case, according to Bishop Caggiano, there is a need to “build bridges”. “The young people who are already engaged in the Church are in fact the bridge to the young people who are not engaged,” he told The Irish Catholic.

“That’s why we need to empower those already engaged in the life of the Church, they get it. And they may not only lead other people of their age to faith, they may help us to grow in faith too.”

Returning to the aforementioned ‘disconnect’, Bishop Caggiano believes adults too often speak out on behalf of the youth. “We have not given our young people a chance to speak for themselves. They will have more answers than we who are older care to admit,” he noted.

Technology, according to the bishop, has been a key factor in widening the gulf that now exists between young and old in the Church.

“There is something qualitatively different in the experience of young people now. Technology is a formative presence,” he said.

To remedy the situation, Bishop Caggiano suggests commissioning ‘digital missionaries’ to spread the Faith online.

“We need to appreciate that which they are experiencing. We need to ask them to put into words, to the extent that it is possible, how is it that they have allowed faith to become an effective part of their life. We need to empower them to become the digital missionaries, to go out and do to others what was done to them.”

But this plan needs structure.

“We need to make it purposeful, we need to make it conscious, we need to make it deliberative,” he said.

At the heart of Bishop Caggiano’s plan for evangelisation are three central elements. To know, worship and serve the Lord.

“Those are the three key elements we need to challenge young people.”

Focusing on the first, Bishop Caggiano highlighted the “profound difference” between knowing the Lord and knowing about the Lord.

“It is never a question of one or the other it is always both. You cannot have one effectively without the other.”

Regarding worship and adoration, the bishop raises concern for what he phrases as a “crisis of community”.

He is confident that the search for God is part of the fabric of human life. However, the bishop insists that the crisis that exists is: What you’re your community have to do with my search? Ensuring the Church’s relevance to young people is an effective antidote here, the bishop said.

Finally, addressing the topic of serving the Lord, Bishop Caggiano noted the “profound example” of Pope Francis. “The Holy Father is calling the Church to make credible, love. In an age where love is almost seen as a theoretical reality and for too many people a myth, the Holy Father is saying make love concrete and you make love credible,” he said.

“Serving the Lord is about giving love real presence in our lives. That is what the lord is asking us to do. This is the age of the witnesses,” he said.


Click here to see the original story:

Generosity starts the school year
| August 26, 2014


REDDING—In August, students from the seventh and eighth grades in St. Patrick Parish religious education program held a school supplies drive.

Pictured (l-r) Matthew Sun, Stephen Zigmond, Hannah and
Sarah Tedawes and Richard Giannicchi.

Students addressed the parishioners from the lectern after each Mass, explaining why they were collecting the supplies and asking for their support. The kids asked parishioners to bring in school supplies to benefit needy families for the Family and Children's Agency of Norwalk, and parishioners were very generous with their donations. The St. Patrick students sorted and delivered the supplies to the agency on August 18, in time for the Norwalk kids to get their new school supplies.

Msgr. Surwilo becomes Fisher’s spiritual director
| August 21, 2014 • by By Father Colin McKenna


STAMFORD—In a seminary, the role of spiritual director is critical and unique. He is given a special trust with respect to the seminarians in his care.

“It’s a special blessing,” says Msgr. Edward Surwilo,
visiting his mother in their family home. Msgr. Surwilo,
formerly pastor of Star of the Sea Parish in Stamford,
has been named spiritual director of St. John Fisher Seminary.

Whatever they confide in him must remain in his heart alone, within a bond as sacred and solemn as the seal of the confessional. In fact, he regularly serves as confessor for the seminarians in addition to providing communal and personal spiritual guidance.

In an invisible but very real wall of separation within the seminary, the spiritual director resides in the realm of the “inner forum.” This makes his role in formation unique. All other formators in the seminary community are in the “outer forum,” which means that they are actively evaluating candidates for the priesthood.

The spiritual director is vital to a healthy and productive seminary, and Bridgeport’s own diocesan seminary residence— St. John Fisher—has just welcomed a new spiritual director to its staff: Msgr. Edward Surwilo.

In his 51 years of service as a priest, Msgr. Surwilo has served 50 within the city of Stamford, so it is only fitting that Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has invited him to continue to serve in Stamford as Fisher’s spiritual director.

“As pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea for 30 years,” Bishop Caggiano said, “Msgr. Surwilo was a mentor for a number of seminarians, helping them to grow in their pastoral skills and love of service. Many of those seminarians are now priests of our diocese, all united in their appreciation of Monsignor’s guidance.”

Father Robert Kinnally, chancellor of the diocese and rector of the Fisher Seminary is looking forward to working with Msgr. Surwilo in the task of forming men for the priesthood. “Monsignor’s prayerfulness and the joyful way in which he serves God’s people have been an inspiration,” Father Kinnally said.

Ideally, the spiritual director in a seminary needs to be readily approachable, and with his calm, gentle, and friendly demeanor, Msgr. Surwilo seems to be perfectly suited for the role. During his journey toward the priesthood, every seminarian will experience doubts and fears at some point, and the spiritual director is someone with whom he can hope to find solace and comfort.

In addition to serving as spiritual director at Fisher, Msgr. Surwilo will remain pastor emeritus at Our Lady Star of the Sea, the church and rectory whose construction he oversaw some 25 years ago.

In recognition of his outstanding service to the diocese, he was named a monsignor in 1991.

At 77 years of age, Msgr. Surwilo said, “I don’t want to retire!” He is “absolutely elated” that Bishop Caggiano has offered him the opportunity to serve as spiritual director at Fisher. In addition to his experience and wisdom, Msgr. Surwilo also brings impressive academic credentials to the seminary community. Throughout his priesthood, he has immersed himself in ongoing academic formation and has earned three advanced degrees: Masters of Divinity; Masters of Systematic Theology; and Masters of Religious Education.

Although his work at Fisher represents a significant change for Msgr. Surwilo, one constant throughout his priesthood for which he is very grateful has been the presence of his mother, Rose Surwilo. At 94, Rose still lives in the family home in Darien where Monsignor grew up. She is a parishioner at St. John’s, the family’s home parish. Good health, strength and longevity run in the family.

Msgr. Surwilo knows that it is unusual for a 77-year-old priest to still be able to visit with his mother in the home where he grew up. For her part, she is proud of all of his success during his long priestly career, and like all mothers, she is probably a little bit anxious about her son beginning a new job, or taking on a new position in the priesthood.

“It’s a special blessing to have her,” Msgr. Surwilo said.

Daniel Colucci attained rank of Eagle Scout
| August 21, 2014


NEWTOWN—Daniel Colucci of Boy Scout Troop 370 of Newtown has attained the rank of Eagle Scout.

Daniel has been involved with Scouting since joining as a Cub Scout in the first grade. Throughout his years in the Boy Scouts he has held a number of leadership positions, most recently as Senior Patrol Leader.

His Eagle Scout service project involved overseeing the remodeling and building of a stone memorial shrine at Saint Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown in honor of two young children who died tragically many years ago. The project entailed over 200 man-hours of work.

Daniel is a senior at Fairfield Prep. An Eagle Scout Court of Honor will be held at St. Rose at 1 pm on August 30.

Knights and FCA, Together A Homerun
| August 21, 2014


NORWALK—Through a series of fundraisers, the Knights of Columbus Council #14360 at St. Matthew Parish raised money to sponsor three Bridgeport Bluefish games for the Family & Children’s Agency (FCA) at the ballpark at Harbor Yard.

The games became part of the activities of students in their After School Program, teens in the behavioral health programs and youth in Specialized Foster Care.  

“Family & Children’s Agency is grateful to the Saint Matthew Knights of Columbus Council for their generous efforts to sponsor outings for FCA clients at the Bridgeport Bluefish,” said Robert F. Cashel, president and CEO of FCA. “Many of our clients do not have the opportunity or resources to go to ballgames during the summer, so these field trips are very meaningful for them.”

FCA is a nonprofit, human service organization committed to increasing the social and emotional well-being children and families throughout Fairfield County. St. Matthew Knights have been partnering with and sponsoring events for the FCA since 2009.  

"The FCA does great work in the local community and our council is honored to help a great organization and most importantly help the youth of tomorrow.  Seeing the smiles on the kid’s faces makes it all worth it," said Grand Knight George Ribellino.

St. Matthew Council #14360 has helped local organizations throughout Norwalk, including Malta House, the Foster Care Agency of Connecticut and Homes for the Brave. They are a group of men dedicated to serving the Church and their community and remaining true to the Knights of Columbus’ founding principles of charity, unity and fraternity.  

(For more info, go to

Parish Nurses graduate
| August 21, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Five nurses participated in a beautiful commissioning service recently as part of the St. Vincent’s Parish Nurse Graduation ceremonies held at the Medical Center.

L to R: Senior Vice President, Chief Operating Officer/Chief Nursing
Officer Dale Danowski, MBA, RN; Parish Nurse Office Coordinator
Mary Beth Kuchma; new graduate Sally Gerard, RN, of Trumbull,
Nichols United Methodist Church; Patricia Sheehan, RN, of Trumbull,
St. Theresa Parish; Susan Collazo, RN, of Stratford, First
Congregational of Stratford; Judy Pyrch, RN, of Trumbull,
of St. Catherine of Siena Parish; Monica Wheeler, RN, of Fairfield,
St, Anthony of Padua Parish; and Parish Nurse Coordinator
Marilyn Faber, RN. Missing: Hermie Balboa, RN, of Holy Family Parish
in Fairfield; Carol Lansing, RN, of Salem Lutheran Church in Bridgeport;
and Patricia Layda, RN, of St. Stephen Parish in Trumbull.

“Parish nurses have the ability to make a huge difference in other’s lives because people trust completely those sitting next to them in the pews of church every week,” keynote speaker Dale Danowski, MBA, RN, told the gathering of more than 50 parish nurses and leaders. “The Parish Nurse Program brings a feeling of safety and a richness to the care that St. Vincent’s extends to the community.”
The ceremony included an opening prayer by Vice President of Mission & Ethics Bill Hoey, MAHCM, LCSW, a musical tribute to nurses and, the presentation of certificates and pins by Parish Nurse Coordinator Marilyn Faber, RN, to the newly commissioned parish nurses. A blessing of the hands highlighted the event.

Young Adult Ministry Makes a “Splash!”
| August 20, 2014 • by By Audrey Cozzarin


STAMFORD—“Summer Splash Meet & Greet at the Beach” with Bishop Frank J. Caggiano was held on Sunday, August 17, 2014, at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Stamford, CT.

“Summer Splash” group at West Beach on Sunday,
August 17, 2014. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, center.

A kick-off event for the new Diocesan-wide young adults group, 85 strong, it was by all accounts a great success.

“Summer Splash” included a special Mass performed by Bishop Caggiano followed by a party on West Beach located behind the church with DJ, pizza, and refreshments.

At the Malta House gala in May, I approached Bishop Caggiano with a personal offer to help create momentum with our young adult population (ages 21-35) to gather in friendship with their peers in faith. His immediate reaction was positive: “Terrific! E-mail me.”

With my teammates in planning this first-time event, Father Peter Towsley, Vicar for Evangelization and Episcopal Delegate to the Ecclesial Movements of the Diocese of Bridgeport, CT, and Deacon Steve Pond from St. Aloysius Church in New Canaan–along with the guidance of Damien O’Connor, Senior Director of Pastoral Services, and Julie Rodgers, MCR, Director for Youth Ministry, at the Diocese–“Summer Splash” was born.

According to the CT Dept. of Labor, this age group, 21-35, the so-called “millennial generation, born between 1980-2000, is statistically the age group leaving the state of Connecticut in the largest numbers. Finding it difficult to afford to marry, buy a home, and raise a family, this group leaves our state in search of their fortunes in other states. The mission behind “Summer Splash” is to help galvanize this group, so these young adults will remain rooted right here in our state, in their parishes, knowing they are important members of our community with the support of the church.

The young adults attending “Summer Splash” were thrilled to meet the Bishop who greeted each one before Mass, and were pleased to see so many of their peers. “I feel like I am outgrowing my old friends,” said Victoria LaBella of Stamford, one of the young adults who attended “Summer Splash.” “They don’t understand why I attend church and just want to party. I’m so glad to have this opportunity to meet others my age who share my faith and values.”

Another participant, Colin Williams of Norwalk said, “I am happy and delighted to be a part of the family of God in such a context as this.” Jackie Conigliaro said, “This is so exciting! It's a really good idea!” The Bishop and Father Gomez were ready for the beach with dark sunglasses, in shirtsleeves, and stayed to chat with the young adult crowd in the sun and sand.

We thank the donors to “Summer Splash” for their gifts: Tony Gervasio of  Star Distributors (New Haven), Tony Caraluzzi of Taunton Wine & Liquor (Newtown), Sam Cingari of Grade A ShopRite (Stamford), Ellen Baker (Darien), and O’Rourke family (Stamford).

The $10 suggested donation at the door allowed us to make a gift to Father Piotr Smolik at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church with gratitude for providing such a stunning location for both the Mass and the beauty of nature, the beach right next door. And, we thank Bishop Frank J. Caggiano for his enthusiastic support of our young adults and those of us who roll up our sleeves to show how special this group is to our community.

Next gathering: Friday, September 12, 6:00-7:00 P.M., at St. Aloysius Church in New Canaan, creation of a “steering committee” to help out with future events and opportunities for the Young Adult Group of the Diocese. Do the young adults in the Catholic church in Fairfield County want another “Summer Splash”? I think the answer is a strong “yes,” along with a desire for more gatherings of faith.

Click here to listen to an audio of Bishop Caggiano’s homily at Summer Splash

Caroline House keeps summer learning fun
| August 20, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Caroline House keeps summer learning fun through a reading, math, and creative writing camp, where children benefit from one on one tutoring from Fairfield County teens. 

The children served are often behind in school due to language issues. The camp ran weekday mornings from June 30 to July 18.

The children being tutored were grouped by grade and rotated between three classrooms for approximately 45 minutes for each class (math, reading and journaling/creative writing). Teenage volunteers from all over Fairfield county tutored the children, working with them one on one.

Caroline House is a nondenominational education center teaching literacy and life skills to economically disadvantaged immigrant women and children.  Since opening its doors 18 years ago, Caroline House has nurtured and educated hundreds of women and children.  All programs and services are provided free of charge.  Grants, foundations and individual donors provide the financial support for the center.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
At the Zoo
| August 19, 2014


After I graduated from the University of Vermont in 1986, I shared an apartment in New York City with a high school classmate in a newly developed part of Manhattan called Battery Park City. This commercial and residential development was built on landfill created from the construction of the World Trade Center.

Our neighborhood was separated from the rest of Manhattan by West Street, which was a many-laned thoroughfare that ran all the way down the west side of Manhattan to its southern point. The easiest way to cross West Street was to traverse one of the covered pedestrian bridges that were built in the early stages of the Battery Park City development.

Whether coming or going, I usually saw streams of tourists heading for the ferry to the Statue of Liberty.

How many life-long New Yorkers have never been to the top of the Empire State Building, and how many have never visited the Statue of Liberty?

Living in a neighborhood that was swarming with tourists always reminded me that I needed to take advantage of New York and visit the sites that people travel from all over the world to see. After two years in Manhattan, I had done pretty well regarding visiting the sites. My favorite place was the observation deck of the south tower of the World Trade Center. I literally walked past the buildings daily, so making it to the top of the twin towers many times was not difficult. My only regret is that I never dined in the Windows of the World restaurant. Back in 1986, $100 per person on average for a meal was a lot of money, and I was employed as a public school teacher. In retrospect, I should have splurged, but I didn’t.

My visits to the top of the Empire State Building were less frequent (I only went once). The Statue of Liberty was an effort, but I made it there too. Sadly, I have yet to visit Ellis Island, and it is not really blinking brightly on my radar screen, even though my father’s parents both emigrated from Ireland in the early 20th Century.

Apart from my two years in Manhattan and three years in Vermont during college (and my junior year abroad in Ireland), I have lived in Fairfield County all of my life. My story about visiting the sites in New York is equally applicable to my life in Connecticut. How many things do we Connecticut residents take for granted? How many sites have we neglected to visit here in our own state? How many Fairfield County residents know that there is actually a revolutionary fort in Stamford (after which the town is named) that is a State park open to visitors?

When I turned 50 a few months ago, I began thinking about things that I wanted to do before I died. Thankfully, my list is not very long, but one thing that I definitely want to do is take better advantage of the local sites that Connecticut has to offer; places to visit that often go ignored by the majority of Nutmeggers (how did we get that name anyway?).

One such place that I have been meaning to visit – for many years – is the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport. By chance, an ideal opportunity to visit the zoo recently presented itself, and during the visit I also received a personally guided tour of the zoo by an employee.

Monica Harrington is a junior at UCONN in Storrs majoring in animal science. After graduation, she hopes to work in the field of exotic animal care. This summer, she completed an internship at Beardsley Zoo caring primarily for animals from the South American rainforests. She has enjoyed her time at the zoo so much that after her internship was complete, she asked if she could continue on at the zoo for another two weeks before heading back to Storrs. The zoo management happily obliged her request.

“Animals so often have pure intentions,” she said. “It is so peaceful and rewarding to work with them.” One of the animals she cares for is a large female boa constrictor whom Monica called “sweet.” Most people would never know that a creature that crushes its prey to death can be sweet natured.

Monica grew up in Stamford (Stam Fort!) and attended Trinity Catholic High School for two years before her family relocated to Norwalk. At Norwalk High School, she participated extensively in musical theatre, and her talents as a singer caught the attention of her pastor, Father Dave Blanchfield of St. Jerome’s, her home parish. He hired her as a cantor, which has proved to be a great source of income for her when she is home from college.

Monica is a young woman of deep faith who enjoyed participating in the TOTAL youth group at St. Jerome’s and now helps lead its annual Emmaus retreat. She provides a wonderful example to the young people at St. Jerome’s who look up to her. In her life, she gives witness to Jesus Christ.

She proudly wears a noticeable wooden cross around her neck and is very conscientious about her spiritual and secular pursuits. At UCONN, she sings in the choir with Catholic campus ministry, and at St. Jerome’s, she sometimes has to lead the congregation in song with only the accompaniment of one other musician, be it organist or guitarist. Recently, long before Mass was scheduled to begin, Monica was sitting in the choir alone in the nearly empty church. I asked her if she was a particularly punctual person, noting in self-effacement that I can be called “punctually challenged.” I said, “Are you one of those people who thinks you’re late if you are five minutes early?”

She said, “I feel like I am late if I am ten minutes early!”

Although she cannot place all of her hopes on one job after college, Monica does dream that perhaps she might be hired full-time by Beardsley Zoo. That would be a blessing for all involved: for Monica, the zoo employees, the animals and all who visit.

Even though she is now on extra-volunteer internship time, Monica said, “I have forty-minutes to give you a tour,” when I met her at the entrance gate. Thankfully, I was able to keep up with her as we sped from exhibit to exhibit, with me trying my best to take pictures with my iPhone. She was probably more appropriately dressed for our excursion than me. I was wearing a Roman collar and she was dressed in a sporty-safari look.

This is already my longest blog to date, so I will wrap it up here. Assuredly, I will return again to Beardsley Zoo, and I hope you visit there too. It is open year-round…

There have been 357 visit(s) to this blog post.

Delegates prepare for Synod 2014
| August 19, 2014


TRUMBULL—More than 75 delegates to Synod 2014 gathered last weekend at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Trumbull for the third Formation Day in preparation for the first General Session to the Synod to be held on September 20.

The formation sessions provided an opportunity for learning, spiritual growth and discernment for the 350 delegates to Synod 2014.

Theological reflections were presented by Dr. Colt Anderson, dean of the Graduate School of Religion at Fordham University and a noted church historian and theologian, and Dr. Joan Kelly, an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, and is on the faculty of St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford.

While Dr. Anderson focused on spiritual preparation, Dr. Joan Kelly led the delegates into an exploration of the meaning and history of synods, particularly as they affected this diocese.

“Develop purity of heart, be humble, try to listen,” he told the delegates, defining true piety as “a commitment to following the divine law of love,” Dr. Anderson told the delegates.

“Synod,” explained Dr. Kelly, is the Greek word for “gathering.” Specifically, a synod is a gathering focused on sustaining the viability of the Church.”

During the Formation session, delegates were also briefed on the process of using an online format to examine the current state of the diocese, explore possible solutions and make recommendations to Bishop Caggiano through the Synod process.

The public is invited to attend a Solemn Vespers Services on Friday, September 19, 7:30 at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport, will mark the formal convocation of the three general sessions of the year-long synod to plan for the future of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Click here to view a slideshow

Fan the Fire: Made for More
| August 18, 2014


NEWTOWN—More than 400 teens attended this year’s Fan the Fire Youth Rally on the grounds of St. Rose of Lima Parish over the weekend.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano joined with other inspirational speakers and youth ministers to encourage young people in their faith within a welcoming and prayerful environment.

The 9th annual Eucharist Centered youth rally is a day of fun, music, inspiration, intense prayer, and coming together for the Teen Mass celebrated by Bishop Caggiano.

“It’s a one day event designed to help teens deepen their relationship with Christ,” said Julie Rodgers, MCR, Director of Youth Ministry for the Diocese, who said the day also featured dynamic speakers and opportunities for Adoration, the Sacrament of Reconciliation and recitation of the Rosary.

One of the most dramatic moments of the day was observed when Bishop Caggiano processed the Eucharist through the grounds and into the Hall for adoration. The young people knelt reverently and silently throughout.

Before celebrating the Teen Mass to conclude the Rally, the Bishop also had many opportunities to meet young people and speak with them about their lives and their faith.

Speakers included Fr. Sam Kachuba, Director of Vocations, Paul J. Kim, Julie Rodgers, Scott Anthony and Rodd Blessey, minister from St. Rose of Lima Parish.

Click here for a slideshow

Click here to listen to an audio of Bishop Caggiano’s homily at Fan the Fire

Pope tells Asians to witness to Christ in all aspects of life
| August 18, 2014 • by By Simone Orendain, Catholic News Service


SEOSAN, South Korea—Pope Francis told young Asian Catholic leaders to witness to Christ in everything they do.

During his homily on the muddy grounds of Haemi Fortress, Pope Francis urged more than 40,000 people—including young Catholic leaders from 22 Asian countries—to "reflect God's love." He reminded them it was their "right and duty to take part in the life of (their) societies."

"Do not be afraid to bring the wisdom of faith to every aspect of social life," the pontiff said. He also urged them to discern "what is incompatible with your Catholic faith ... and what aspects of contemporary culture are sinful, corrupt and lead to death."

Young people are always choosing their social lives over other things, and this makes it complicated to "grow up in their faith also," said Montira Hokjareon, a youth coordinator in Thailand's Udon Thani Diocese. She said it was especially hard for young Thai Catholics to practice their faith in a predominantly Buddhist country where less than half of 1 percent of the population is Catholic.

Hokjaroen, 34, was one of 20 participants who had lunch with Pope Francis August 15. She told Catholic News Service it was good he nudged the youth leaders to evangelize, "because I think the people will learn (about) Jesus through us."

Rain threatened the August 17 closing Mass for Asian Youth Day, which, unlike the massive international World Youth Day events, focuses more on youth leaders. At one point, the wind whipped off the pope's cap.

Pope Francis emphasized the theme of this year's gathering, "Asian Youth Wake Up, the Glory of the Martyrs Shines on You."

"It's no good when I see young people who sleep," said the pontiff. "No. Wake up! Go! Go!"

Haemi Fortress was where thousands of Catholics were killed during a 100-year period in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the 1700s laypeople formed the church based on Catholic writings that they got ahold of from China. The original founders pledged loyalty to God rather than the Korean king, which was socially unacceptable. The government pursued them for carrying out Catholic rites and baptisms, killing 10,000 faithful in the century beginning in 1791.

A day before the closing Mass, Pope Francis beatified 124 of the founders of the Korean Catholic Church, moving them a step closer to sainthood.

Michael Hwang of Seoul said being on these grounds was "exhausting emotionally," because his ancestors were among those executed. But he told CNS he was glad to be a part of Asian Youth Day because it brought him closer to other Catholics from Asia.

"(The pope) said to wake up and a lot of people can come together, and we could be like one nation," said Hwang, a 17-year old high school student.

Hwang said his friends are not Catholic, "but I think Catholicism is a great thing and I can tell to my friends about how (being) Catholic is great, and this event will be a great background to teach or tell other people."

Stephen Borja of Manila, Philippines, told CNS the founding of the church in Korea "is such a unique story, and it really touched me. How passionate they were about receiving the faith, standing up for it, even giving up their lives for it."

Borja, 34, works with the youth commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines. He said the pope's words inspired him to show his faith to others, which is still a challenge in his predominantly Catholic country.

The three characteristics the pope identified for the church in Asia are "holier, more missionary and humbler," he said. "Those are words I would carry with me and also with my work in the church."

Pope Francis celebrated Mass at an altar made up of 16 wooden crosses that locked together like wooden blocks and were decorated by the youth. Readings and intercessions were in Filipino, Indonesian, Korean and other languages.

"As young Christians, whether you are workers or students, whether you have already begun a career or have answered the call to marriage, religious life or the priesthood, you are not only a part of the future of the church, you are also a necessary and beloved part of the church's present," said the pope.

He told young Asian to build "a church which loves and worships God by seeking to serve the poor, the lonely, the infirm and the marginalized."

Bishop Peter Kang U-il of Jeju, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, noted that this was the first Asian Youth Day attended by a pope.

"The young Asians may have experienced an extraordinary moment of grace, and they also may have acquired the seed of courage and hope for their future, because Your Holiness shared a great affection and intimacy with them," he told Pope Francis at the Mass.

Organizers announced Indonesia would host the 2017 Asian Youth Day.

Bishop Caggiano celebrates Mass to dedicate new Chapel of Mary, Mother of God at St. Pius X Parish
| August 15, 2014


FAIRFIELD—Bishop Frank Caggiano visited St. Pius X Parish today to celebrate a Pontifical Mass marking the dedication of The Chapel of Mary Mother of God in the parish’s new Faith Center.

The Bishop also served as the homilist for the Mass on the feast of The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Many parishioners gathered for the 2 p.m. ceremony, which began in the chapel courtyard with the presentation of Chapel Keys by Mrs. Grace Rodriguez, Parish Council President, and the Opening of the Chapel Doors by Fr. Michael Dogali, Pastor of St. Pius X Parish.

“While every year in the life of a parish is special, 2014 is extra special as we celebrate 59 years of Catholic Faith with the opening of our new chapel,” said Fr. Dogali. “The consecration by Bishop Caggiano is a reminder of those who have gone before us, leaving a splendid example of faith, prayer and stewardship.

During the ceremony, the Bishop was presented with the building plans. He also blessed the new building with Holy Water. During the Mass following the prayer of dedication, a relic from St. Pius was sealed in the Altar Stone to signify that the sacrifice of the parishioners has its source in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

At the conclusion of the Mass, the Bishop blessed the Tabernacle and the Sanctuary Candles were lit.

The new chapel seats 102 faithful. Begi Beginning Monday, August 18, 2014 daily Mass at 8:30 a.m. will be celebrated in our new chapel. Fr. Dogali said the church will be open, but will not be air-conditioned unless of course a weekday funeral or wedding is celebrated. Parishioners are invited to a “coffee and” after all Masses this weekend to celebrate the Feast of St. Pius X, our Patron Saint and to have the opportunity to visit the new chapel.

The project began with renovations to the church and the building of a 14,000 square foot, L-shaped addition, which houses the chapel, office space and a multi-purpose area for social and educational events, along exterior landscaping that transformed the 13-acre campus.

Mr. Denis Sullivan served as Building Committee Chairman and while Kevin Silk served as Finance Committee Chairman. The project was designed by Doyle-Coffin Architecture under the leadership of John Doyle AIA, and built by A.V. Tuchy Builders. For more information and photos of the project, visit the St. Pius X Parish website at


Click to see a slideshow of the dedication

Making bad situations worse in the Middle East
| August 14, 2014 • by By Tony Magliano


Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano
The heart wrenching tragedies throughout the Middle East are not the United States’ fault, that is, at least not entirely.

The fact that many Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims distrust each other, that the Allies established artificial national boundaries to suite their interests after World War I, and that ruthless dictators past and present have often oppressed their people are major reasons why much of the Middle East is broken and bleeding.  
But the U.S. has made several bad situations in the Middle East far worse.
In Egypt, according to the Congressional Research Service, since 1987 the U.S. has given that nation $1.3 billion per year in military aid despite the fact that it was long ruled by the dictator Hosni Mubarak.  
Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, its refusal to allow subjugated Palestinians to form an independent nation, and the strangling blockade and brutal invasion of Gaza would not be possible without the approximate $3 billion in annual American aid and the United States’ refusal to demand that Israel reverse course here.

While it is a sad truth that under the dictator Saddam Hussein many Iraqis suffered, it is an even sadder truth that the 2003 U.S. led invasion of Iraq, caused even greater suffering to countless Iraqis.
After nearly nine years of war, hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi children, women and men are dead, over 4,480 American troops were killed, and Iraq overall is in a far worse state.
Furthermore, the U.S. war with Iraq unleashed deadly Islamist attacks upon thousands of Iraqi Christians.
In a CBS 60 Minutes segment, Rev. Andrew White, an Anglican priest who has a long history of ministry in Iraq, said the situation there was clearly worse for Christians than under the Saddam Hussein regime.
And according to a Fox News report earlier this year, Fr. White said that in the past five years 1,096 of his own parishioners were killed.
He said that out of the 1.5 million Christians living in Iraq in 2003, only around 200,000 remain.
And now with the Islamic State controlling a large part of Iraq, the remaining Christian population is suffering even worse.
There can be no doubt that the U.S. invasion of Iraq made a bad situation far worse.  
Please help our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ by giving a generous donation to Catholic Near East Welfare Association (  
And urge your congressional delegation and President Obama ( to grant emergency asylum to as many as 300,000 Christians fleeing the barbarism of the Islamic State. This is the right thing to do!

Three years ago, the U.S. led an aerial attack against the regime of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi leaving that nation awash in weapons which continue to help fuel the warring militias that have since been unleashed.
While U.S. bombing helped end Gaddafi’s brutal reign, it didn’t stop the suffering of the Libyan people.
Bombs kill. They do not address the root-causes of conflict. Rather, they perpetuate the cycle of violence.     Knowing that full well, and in response to President Barack Obama’s threats to bomb Syria last year, Pope Francis called on people of faith to observe Sept. 7, 2013 as a day of prayer and fasting.
On that day the Holy Father said to over 100,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, and to all of us, “Forgiveness, dialogue, reconciliation – these are the words of peace, in beloved Syria, in the Middle East, in all the world!”
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.

Prayers of the (Mostly) Faithful
| August 14, 2014 • by By Matthew Hennessey


A Dad’s View
By Matthew Hennessey

I never prayed at bedtime when I was little. I’d see kids doing it in movies and on television, but it just wasn’t a part of our routine. Now I get to make the routine. So, in our house, we pray.

My kids are still very young (most of them). They don’t stay up too late. It’s not that they aren’t willing; they just can’t keep their eyes open. Often, I arrive home from work through the front door as they are heading up the wooden hills to Bedfordshire.

I shuck my shoes and look longingly at dinner. But up we go together, telling stories about our day or humming a tune from Annie. Some nights I’m so hungry I’m tempted to simply tuck them in and make my escape.

But the temptation always passes, and I’m always glad it does. Daddy needs to pray, too.

My soon-to-be six year-old, Paddy, is a good one for saying his prayers. He takes it seriously, even if he does have to be reminded to make the sign of the cross with his right hand, not his left, and to stop jittering.

Having been a boy myself once, I know how hard it is for a fidgety fellow to keep still. I admire Paddy’s devotion, which belies his age.

Magdalena, who shares his room, is less pious. She delights in dropping silly words into our Hail Marys and Glory Bes. “Hail Mary, full of . . . pomegranates,” she’ll say with a giggle. Or, “Glory be to the Father and to the son and to the . . . beans.” We tighten our lips, Paddy and I, and try to ignore.

Is it sacrilege? Perhaps. But people don’t get punished at bedtime in our house. Not while we’re asking forgiveness for our trespasses. Not while we’re forgiving those who trespass against us.

Our petitions to the saints can get complicated. I enjoy asking for the prayers of our namesake saints. “Saint Patrick,” I’ll say. “Pray for us,” the children will reply. “Saint Matthew,” my son will say. “Pray for us,” we’ll say together.

This is Magdalena’s cue: “Saints Kiki and Marina, pray for us.”

I’ll spare you trying to find your copy of Butler’s Lives of the Saints. Kiki and Marina are not obscure holy women canonized by the Church in a bygone era. They are one half—the female half—of the Fresh Beat Band. (If you don’t know what that is, I truly envy you.)

“Magdalena, please take the prayers seriously,” I’ll say, lowering my eyes with rehearsed disapproval, for I know what’s coming.

“Twist and Shout, pray for us,” she says with a full throated laugh. She looks about, thoroughly pleased with herself.

(If you haven’t guessed, Twist and Shout are the noms-de-theatre of the male half of the aforementioned Fresh Beat Band, which is, come to think of it, less a band than it is a television show and less a television show than an instrument of torture for parents, music lovers, and innocents everywhere.)

All you can do with a child who asks for the prayers of a Nickelodeon character is tickle her until she cries for mercy. Then tuck her in, hit the lights, and get busy eating your dinner.

I don’t want to do a disservice to Magdalena’s public reputation. While she occasionally lacks focus at bedtime, she does have moments of extreme clarity. Especially when giving thanks for the many blessings that make an eight-year-old’s life worth living.

“Thank you God for spaghetti and meatballs,” she said in one of her more serious moods. “And for no carrots.”

When Paddy finally downshifts his motor, he, too, is capable of serious reflection. “If I went to heaven,” he mused once, “it wouldn’t be all happy because you guys wouldn’t be there.”

Hmmm. Serious theological question: Is paradise less heavenly for the absence of your still living loved ones? Sometimes there’s not much you can do except shrug your shoulders, mumble something about “mysteries” and say goodnight.

“Sleep tight Fresh Beats. It’s been a great day. Don’t let the pomegranates bite.”

Now what are the chances dinner’s still hot?

(You can follow Matt on Twitter @matthennessey.)                       
Matthew Hennessey and his family are parishioners of St. Aloysius in New Canaan.

Good news for the ordinary people
| August 14, 2014 • by By Joe Pisani


Swimming Upstream
By Joe Pisani

As I was making my evening dash for the train, down the elevator and onto the escalator that takes you into Grand Central, I ran into a brigade of cleaning ladies dressed in light blue smocks, who were entering the building for their shift just as the rest of us were racing out.

They were smiling and joking, unlike the escaping corporate hordes who were exhausted after another day in the salt mines. And as I hurried through the foyer of my office building, I noticed that a very senior executive of a very large corporation was also leaving and, for a brief moment, he crossed paths with the cleaning ladies.

He was a prominent figure in the business world with a salary and bonus potential in the millions, and seeing them together, I thought of Pope Francis and his message about the world’s inequitable distribution of wealth—85 of the richest people have as much as 3.5 billion people in the bottom half of the population.

God, however, is never unfair when it comes to “compensation.” He gives grace freely to all and is infinitely just with our eternal reward. I smiled to think the cleaning lady is as important to Christ as the CEO with a multi-million-dollar bonus, or the Oscar-winning actress or the president of a world super-power.

When we go face to face with Jesus for our personal judgment, the women making little more than minimum wage will be judged the same as the rich and powerful, who instead of dusting desks, oversee corporations and countries. In fact, the cleaning lady might have an advantage. After all, it was Jesus who said the first will be last and the last will be first.

Author Anthony J. Paone, S.J., once wrote: “You may feel that your life is too small or unimportant to deserve much appreciation or respect. Little as you may see in yourself worthy of admiration, you are a reflection of the spiritual nature of God. . . . It does not depend on your achievements, limitations or failures. This personal worth was bestowed on you by God’s own creative hand.”

God’s ways are not man’s, and I’m often reminded of the Old Testament story in which the prophet Samuel goes to the house of Jesse to anoint a king for Israel, and as the patriarch brings out his seven sons, God rejects them all.

Samuel is perplexed until God tells him, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Samuel asks Jesse if he has any other sons, and then he meets David, a ruddy youth tending sheep, who hardly seemed like “kingly” material. God, however, had different plans.

Thank goodness God doesn’t judge as the world does because that means all of us low achievers by society’s standards won’t have to worry about not having enough academic honors, community awards, sports trophies, employee of the month citations or stock options when we go before Jesus.

Jesus levels the playing field. In the end, all the world’s praise and the length of our obituaries won’t get us any brownie points with the Eternal Judge. The lowly and humble will be judged the same as the high and the mighty . . . by how much they loved. There will be a lot of surprises and disappointments on that day.

We’ll want something to show in exchange for our eternal reward. If our hands are empty, how disappointing it will be to have wasted a lifetime with nothing to offer God for the gift of our life.

Raising our children to love Christ, enduring suffering and offering it up, showing compassion and sympathy to the despondent—these are the things that have meaning in the end, not elective office or a profitable bottom line or the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Everything we view as important in the world will be turned on its head.

The most wonderful thing is that God judges us fairly because “He looks at the heart” . . . of the rich, the poor, the executive, the janitor, the prime minister and the doorman. Yes, the first will be last and the last will be first. For my part, I’m staying close to the cleaning ladies.  

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

The Pattern
| August 14, 2014 • by By Thomas H. Hicks


By Thomas H. Hicks

There are times when I recite Edna St. Vincent Millay’s words, “Oh, world, I cannot hold thee close enough.” I have a sense of the beauty and majesty of things, see life as a great gift, a great good, a joyous thing—the sun and rain, nesting birds, morning light, romance, taking naps, standing barefoot in the sand watching the waves roll in. The world is charged with goodness and love.

However, I cannot agree with Thoreau’s triumphant assertion that “surely joy is the condition of life.”

When I go among people, the pain of so many lays me low. Friend after friend has a sad tale to tell. Typical faces are lined deep with worry. Frankly, pain seems more the rule than the exception. “Nobody lives in Happyland,” as the actor Jon Hamm said in a recent People magazine article.

There are Tennyson’s words: “Never morning wore to evening but some heart did break” (“In Memoriam”).

The first of Buddha’s “four noble truths” is that existence is suffering. Was Buddha right? Of course he was. The suffering he speaks of courses through the world and always has. Everyone is suffering. It seems everyone can say with the Psalmist “they caught me, sorrow and distress” (Psalm 116).

Christianity uses the language of the Cross. The tree of the Cross blossoms eternally, bearing ever new fruit. There is the Carthusian motto: Orbs Revolvitur, Crux Stat (The Cross remains constant while the world turns).

Crucifixion is part of all our stories; we, too, are men and women of sorrow and acquainted with grief. God seems to treat his people so badly.

“Why did she have to suffer? She was such a good person.” How often we’ve heard that, as if goodness were a hedge against suffering. God’s mercy falls on the just and the unjust (Mt.5:45), so does suffering.

I don’t understand why the world should be run by so much torment. Could God not have arranged things better? So many people with terminal cancer, so many handicapped children, all the killers that run from multiple sclerosis to Parkinson disease to Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. There’s all the anguish that we all have to inevitably negotiate. How do we assess a God who invented both breathtaking sunrises and emphysema?

The author Oscar Wilde once said that there is enough suffering in any London lane to show that God’s love is fancy, not fact. How is this enormous tide of evil possible? What is the point of it all?

One cannot help asking—is the God who allows all this still truly Love? It is the ageless question. The answer is as remote as ever. There is no simple convincing answer. We’re put off by those who give pat and glib answers—who demonstrate a faith that doesn’t know how to shut up when the only decent response is silence. How annoying is the shallow optimism of those who tell us “Whatever you do, don’t look sad. Don’t say gloomy things. Don’t refer to suffering and tragedy. We are happy, happy, happy . Come brethren, joy, victory, Halleluiah!”  

Ideas about suffering as a punishment for sin or divine discipline or testing are unsatisfying. What lesson learned or character forged could be worth the anguish? Would you as a loving parent inflict your child with terminal cancer for any reason? Would you make someone sick in order to test their loyalty?

Talk of how suffering and evil are the result of nature acting naturally and human beings acting freely also does not satisfy. We err in attempting to say wise and universal things about suffering.
The famous Catholic theologian, Karl Rahner, in his Theological Investigations (Vol.19, 1983) calls suffering a true mystery beyond human intelligence. It is part of the hidden side of God that we are to accept along with God’s manifest goodness. Rahner writes that even in the Beatific Vision, that side of God will remain a mystery.

Why did God create a world so structured as to be productive of so much pain? There is one insight I’ve come across that helps me. It has to do with the idea that Jesus’ death and resurrection is the pattern—the pattern for everything. Everything can be and is transformed, no matter how horrible, how painful. It can experience a resurrection. The mystery of death turning into resurrection is the work of God. That’s part of God’s job description.

It is the Paschal Mystery—through death to life. It is the pattern of reality. It is possibly the mystery of faith. Life consists of a series of dyings followed by a resurrection. We will not stay with the dying. New life comes out of the broken places.

I know a woman whose son has cerebral palsy and has required her constant care, “My son can’t walk or talk or feed himself. But God has been really good to me.”

The same God who can bring Easter out of Good Friday will bring each of us a surprise second act. God does send us roses. Death and resurrection plays out in our lives over and over again. Dying and rising are always going on in our lives. Everywhere Easter emerges from Good Friday. It is the way life is. It is the pattern of the world. We will not stay with the dying; it is the prelude to a resurrection. Chaos resolves into harmony. The night will give way to a crimson-crested east.

And though the last light off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and
With ah! bright wings.

(G.M. Hopkins, “God’s Grandeur”)

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

Not left behind
| August 14, 2014 • by By Denise Bossert


Catholic by Grace
By Denise Bossert

Mary was assumed into heaven.

It’s one of the more difficult teachings for converts to grasp. But there are ways to approach the Assumption so that non-Catholics may come to believe.

In 1995, I wrote an article for Protestant newspapers called “Trends in Christian Fiction” that considered the possibility that a Christian fiction book might hit the New York Times Bestseller List. I traveled to key Protestant publishers—Tyndale, Crossway, Moody, Victor and Bethany House—to interview editors. The publishers handed me galleys, and they all believed their books had that crossover appeal. Only one actually did. Left Behind was on the publishing turnpike back then, and it was among the galleys I brought home with me after that Chicago-Minneapolis trip. Tyndale released the book within six months of my visit, and the book (and subsequent series) was a huge success.

Nicholas Cage and Lea Thompson will now star in a screen adaptation of that book. The movie opens October 3, 2014. So the Left Behind craze continues.

I have one question.

And it isn’t about whether or not the idea of “Rapture” is biblical. My question has nothing to do with Christians disappearing when Christ returns. I’m not going to take the time to explain why Catholic teaching on eschatological things is solid and Left Behind theology is Hollywood science fiction.

No. I’m pondering something else.

Why is it so easy for people to believe that Jesus Christ will return and “rapture” those who love him, leaving behind the rest of the world, but those same people find it impossible to believe that Jesus Christ came for his mother and assumed her, body and soul, into heaven?

Why is that harder to believe?

When I ponder the glorious Assumption of Mary into heaven, I have to smile. It fits. It makes sense. A perfect and loving son would do that if he could.  A divine son did do it because he could.

Jesus Christ looked upon his mother, and Love broke through the veil.

Jesus, the perfect Son of God, would not let his mother’s body know corruption. Not this mother who was so carefully created—so immaculately formed.

In May, I traveled to the Holy Land. We visited many places, but one place that stands out in my mind is Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion.

Let me take you there for just a moment. Step with me into the Tomb of King David. Let’s pray there, together. Let’s think of David’s descendent, the Christ, who was given an eternal throne.

Now, let me lead you just a few steps from the place where David is buried. There, you will find the doors to Dormition Abbey. According to tradition, Mary fell asleep and was assumed into heaven from this spot.

There is a place in Ephesus that also makes this claim, but many Catholic sources say Mount Zion is more likely. And I agree.

It is so fitting that the one who is called “Daughter Zion” and mother of David’s eternal heir should end her earthly life here—and be visited by the Lord who lovingly laid claim to his mother.

Come to me, my beloved mother. Come and see the place I have prepared.

With angelic shouts and trumpet blast, she was raised and crowned Queen. Earth was silent. But heaven erupted with great jubilation.

Why is it so easy to imagine a silly story about Jesus coming to earth and Christians across the world disappearing? Airplanes crashing as pilots disappear into thin air. Cars crashing as drivers disappear. Students leaving behind open books and laptops? Why is that easier to imagine, but Mary’s Assumption seems far-fetched?

I stood in the crypt of Dormition Abbey. I thought of King David’s bones, which were just a few steps away. And yet, in this crypt, there are no bones. Mary’s body is not here. And nobody has claimed to have Mary’s remains. Why? Because there are no remains.

In fact, the disagreement about a possible site for the Assumption exists because there are no bones to settle the matter. The dueling claim underscores the reality of the Assumption. She is not here—or there!

Yes, Jesus Christ will return again. And he will raise the living and the dead. It won’t follow the plotline of a Hollywood thriller. But there is precedent for our rising to meet the Lord. Although Mary’s Assumption is unique, the one who assumed his own mother will return—for us. The dead in Christ will be raised to new life. But the unfaithful won’t be “left behind”—although they probably will wish they had been left. Earth is preferable to eternal separation from God. The Bible tells us we will be divided—the faithful going one way, the unfaithful another.

Leave the Left Behind hoopla in Hollywood.

Turn your eyes to the Holy Land, or Ephesus, or even toward heaven. And celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What Jesus did for Mary—in a unique and special way —gives us hope that one day Christ will return. So let’s model our lives after the Blessed Mother, remaining faithful until the end.                    

Denise Bossert is a convert and a syndicated columnist. Her column has been published in 60 diocesan newspapers.

Emily Fedorko: Sudden Loss and a Path to Healing
| August 14, 2014 • by By Fr. Colin McKenna


GREENWICH—Boats are a part of growing up in Greenwich. The Greenwich coastline stretches from the New York State border to Stamford.

Along the way it is dotted with numerous yacht clubs and marinas. The town has three magnificent public beach areas, and one of them is reachable only by ferry, which operates in the summer months. A ticket on the ferry is only 25 cents so it is likely that nearly every child who grows up in Greenwich has taken that boat ride to Belle Island Beach.

Before World War II, Greenwich harbor was a vital port for local commerce. Farmers, merchants and manufacturers would pay a premium to have their goods shipped to New York City from Greenwich because the transit time was much less than further up the coast. Greenwich has always benefitted from its proximity to New York City. In fact, legend has it that the stone for the Brooklyn Bridge was cut from a quarry in the Byram section of town and floated by barge to the construction site. A baseball field now lies in that abandoned quarry, with a backdrop of sheer cliffs looming over it.

At the southern end of Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich harbor is now home to some enormous yachts that rarely seem to head for the open seas. Perhaps they serve as weekend homes for New York City residents. In any case, they bring another type of commerce to Greenwich.

Greenwich residents see boats whenever they go near the water. With so many boats in town, it would be very normal for a group of young people to want to spend a day on the water in a powerboat. One of Emily Fedorko’s friends had the use of a powerboat that was good for waterskiing and tubing, and she and three others went tubing from the Old Greenwich Yacht Club on August 6, a beautiful summer day.

That day, as we now know, ended in tragedy, with the sudden loss of Emily’s life when she was hit by the boat’s propeller in a devastating accident. Emily’s life is lost, and another girl suffered a serious leg injury, but the lives of the girls on the boat, especially the driver, are also forever changed.

We all suffer regrets, and the older we get, the more regrets we have. When Frank Sinatra sang that he had too few regrets to mention, I always found that notion one of the biggest lies ever uttered in pop culture. Frank Sinatra is a great talent, but no one has too few regrets to mention. The main problem is that few people want to hear our regrets, unless we are paying someone to listen to us, and just because we are paying for it does not mean they want to hear us.

Regrets are real and they are dangerous too. Some people are given to ruminating about their regrets and this can lead to feelings of depression, if one is vulnerable to them. We can only imagine the number and depth of the regrets in the Greenwich community today: If only we had not gone boating; if only we did not have that boat; if only it was raining; if only I could see her one more time; etc. The only remedy for these troubling thoughts is time and prayer, and even then, the pain will not be gone, but hopefully tolerable.

Last night, the Presbyterian Church of Old Greenwich hosted an evening of prayer and fellowship to help those in the community who wanted to come together to express grief and experience some healing after such a sudden loss and tragic death. Charles Caviola, director of youth ministries at the church, and Kevin Chao, a staff member of the Young Life organization, directed the evening for the young people who attended, most of whom attend Greenwich High School.

The young people who were present had played sports with Emily and had acted in theatrical productions with her. They also knew her from attending school with her. Even those who did not know her well expressed shock at her sudden loss. One girl said, “That could have been any of us out there boating.” One girl who played lacrosse with Emily said that the lacrosse team was already talking about incorporating something on their uniforms in her memory.

When the young participants were given the choice to go off on their own, some chose to go to the chapel, where many adults were in prayer, and some chose to go to a room dedicated to silence. The largest group, however, chose to go to a room where they were able to process their emotions through writing on a white board and by writing  personal letters to Emily’s parents and siblings.

The Presbyterian Church of Old Greenwich is to be greatly commended for offering this opportunity to promote healing within the community. Those who attended the evening will probably be among those who help make this coming school year one in which Emily is remembered in special ways, especially on the lacrosse team and in theatrical productions.

Fr. Chip rides in 9/11 motorcycle tribute
| August 14, 2014


BROOKFIELD—Fr. George “Chip” O’Neill, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Brookfield, is among hundreds of riders participating in the Motorcycle Tribute for America’s 9/11 Foundation.

The ride both honors the fallen heroes and raises scholarship funds for the children of active First Responders. Over the past 9 years, the Foundation has awarded over $150,000 dollars in scholarships to over 75 children of Active First Responders." We are now beginning our 13th year.

Fr. O’Neill, an avid cyclist, is uploading videos and picture on his Facebook page. The riders are travelling to the 9/11 Memorial site in Pennsylvania. They will then go to the Pentagon and to thenational memorial site in New York City.

Click here to watch a video introducing purpose of ride and actual footage of what it looks like

Click here to view his Facebook page

Bishop Caggiano's letter to the faithful
| August 14, 2014


Dear Friends in Christ,

During the past month, we have witnessed the terrible events unfolding in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East, especially with the ongoing genocide that is being inflicted upon Christians and other minority groups in Iraq.

Pope Francis, our Holy Father, has asked Catholics around the world to pray for tens of thousands of Christians from villages in northeastern Iraq who were forced from their homes in the middle of the night by Islamic State militants. He has also appealed to the international community to take initiatives to put an end to the humanitarian drama underway, to take steps to protect those involved and threatened by violence and to ensure the necessary aid for so many displaced people whose fate depends on the solidarity of others.

In his appeal to the conscience of all people, Pope Francis said, "May the God of peace create in all an authentic desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is not conquered with violence. Violence is conquered with peace. Let us pray in silence, asking for peace."

We cannot turn away from the struggles of Christians and others in the Middle East  who have faced the destruction, burning and looting of churches, homes and businesses and have  fled for their lives amidst great violence.

In this spirit of solidarity, I call upon all Catholics in our diocese to pray for peace in every area where there is violence and strife.

More specifically, I have asked every parish to include specific intentions at Mass for an end to all violence, war and retaliation in both the Holy Land and larger Middle East, and the Ukraine to offer holy hours to ask that people fervently pray for peace and justice throughout the region and in our world.
May the Lord continue to bless you and your families.

+ Frank J. Caggiano
Bishop of Bridgeport

Old Age: Shipwreck or Fine Wine?
| August 13, 2014 • by By Sister Constance Veit, l.s.p.


The month of September begins and ends with a focus on the elderly. Since 1978 the first Sunday after Labor Day has been celebrated as National Grandparents Day; this year’s observance falls on September 7. Later in the month, senior citizens will gather in Rome for a special celebration in their honor at the invitation of Pope Francis. The meeting, entitled “The Blessing of a Long Life,” will take place in Saint Peter’s Square on Sunday, September 28.

In announcing the event, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, stated, “The day is based on the assumption that old age is not a shipwreck but a vocation.” A shipwreck? I suspect what Archbishop Paglia meant was not that advanced age itself is a disaster, but that society’s response to this stage of life is sadly adrift. He suggested that neither politics, economics, nor culture has developed an adequate approach to the contemporary individual needs of older persons or the growing population of seniors as a whole.

The inadequacy of society’s response to the needs and problems of the elderly is nothing new. In 1982, Saint John Paul II suggested that society needed to be “jerked into awareness” with regard to the elderly in order to foster “a vision of the old which is genuinely human and Christian, a vision of old age as a gift of God to the individual, the family and society.” More than 30 years later, the ship seems to have completely lost direction! Pope Francis has deplored our “throw-away culture” and a “hidden euthanasia” which silences and marginalizes the old. “A nation that does not respect grandparents,” he said, “has no future because it has no memory.”

Pope Francis often evokes the memory of his own paternal grandmother, whom he visited each day as a child and to whom he credits his early spiritual formation. The Pope feels that we live in a time when the elderly do not count. Yet, he asserts, “the elderly pass on history, doctrine, faith and they leave them to us as an inheritance. They are like a fine vintage wine; that is, they have within themselves the power to give us this noble inheritance.”

In a homily about the elderly Eleazar, who accepted death rather than give bad example to the young (Maccabees 6:18-31), our Holy Father related the following story he heard as a young child and never forgot: “There was a father, mother and their many children, and a grandfather lived with them. He was quite old, and when he was at table eating soup, he would get everything dirty: his mouth, the napkin … it was not a pretty sight! One day the father said that given what was happening to the grandfather, from that day on, he would eat alone. So he bought a little table, and placed it in the kitchen. And so the grandfather ate alone in the kitchen while the family ate in the dining room. After some days, the father returned home from work and found one of his children playing with wood. He asked him, ‘What are you doing?’ to which the child replied, ‘I am playing carpenter.’ ‘And what are you building?’ the father asked. ‘A table for you, papa, for when you get old like grandpa.’ ”

Although each of us alone may be powerless to influence policies or economic decisions regarding the elderly, we can change the culture in our own families. To begin, do not let the month of September pass without pausing to reflect and thank God for the precious legacy you have received from grandparents or other significant elders in your life. And then, be sure to set a place at your table for the elderly, regardless of their limitations. Teach your children to reverence the old and one day you will be considered fine vintage wine in the heart of your own family. You will experience the blessing of a long life!

Sister Constance Veit is director of communications for the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Bishop Caggiano urges prayers for peace
| August 13, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Caggiano has urged all Catholics throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport to pray for peace during a time of humanitarian crisis and religious persecution in the Middle East and other sites across the globe.

Click to read Bishop Caggiano's letter to the faithful

A Christian woman who fled from the violence in Mosul, Iraq,
holds her daughter as her baby sleeps June 27 at a shelter. 
(CNS photo/Ahmed Jadallah, Reuters)

In a letter to all pastors, priests and deacons, Bishop Caggiano has asked that parishes include specific intentions at every Mass for an end to all violence, war and retaliation in both the Middle East and the Ukraine.  

“In a spirit of solidarity, I call upon all Catholics in our diocese to pray for peace in every part of the world where there is violence and strife,” the bishop said.  

Additionally he has requested that parishes provide holy hours “where the faithful can come and pray fervently for peace and justice throughout the region and in our world. “

“During the past month, we have witnessed the terrible events unfolding in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East, especially the ongoing genocide that is affecting Christians and other minority groups in Iraq,” said Bishop Caggiano.

“Pope Francis has asked Catholics around the world to pray for the tens of thousands of Christians from villages in northeastern Iraq who were forced from their homes. He has also appealed to the international community to take initiatives to put an end to the senseless violence and take the steps necessary to assist those who have been displaced. Above all, the Holy Father has asked us to pray for peace.”

Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, Chairman of the Committee of International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has also asked the U.S. bishops to invite the people of their dioceses to pray for peace in the Middle East. In making the request, he has sent the text of a prayer written by the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq, His Beatitude Louis Rafael Sako. The full text of Patriarch Sako’s prayer for peace follows:

The plight of our country
is deep and the suffering of Christians
is severe and frightening.
Therefore, we ask you Lord
to spare our lives, and to grant us patience,
and courage to continue our witness of Christian values
with trust and hope.
Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us
to live with each other without fear and anxiety,
and with dignity and joy.
Glory be to you forever.

Vatican calls on Muslim leaders to condemn Islamic State
| August 12, 2014 • by By Francis X. Rocca, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—The Vatican called on Muslim leaders to condemn the "barbarity" and "unspeakable criminal acts" of Islamic State militants in Iraq, saying a failure to do so would jeopardize the future of interreligious dialogue.

Children flee violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State
in Sinjar, Iraq, August 10. The Vatican called on all religious groups
August 12 to denounce crimes committed by the Islamic State
in the name of religion. (CNS/Reuters)

"The plight of Christians, Yezidis and other religious and ethnic communities that are numeric minorities in Iraq demands a clear and courageous stance on the part of religious leaders, especially Muslims, those engaged in interfaith dialogue and everyone of goodwill," said a statement from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue released by the Vatican August 12.

"All must be unanimous in condemning unequivocally these crimes and must denounce the invocation of religion to justify them," the statement said. "Otherwise, what credibility will religions, their followers and their leaders have? What credibility would remain to the interreligious dialogue patiently pursued in recent years?"

The document noted that the "majority of Muslim religious and political institutions" have opposed the Islamic State's avowed mission of restoring a caliphate, a sovereign Muslim state under Islamic law, to succeed the Ottoman Caliphate abolished after the founding of modern Turkey in 1923.

The Vatican listed some of the "shameful practices" recently committed by the "jihadists" of the Islamic State, which the U.S. government has classified as a terrorist group. Among the practices cited:

— "The execrable practice of beheading, crucifixion and hanging of corpses in public places."

— "The choice imposed on Christians and Yezidis between conversion to Islam, payment of tribute or exodus."

— "The abduction of girls and women belonging to the Yezidi and Christian communities as war booty."

— "The imposition of the barbaric practice of infibulation," or female genital mutilation.

"No cause can justify such barbarity and certainly not a religion," the document said.

"Religious leaders also are called on to exercise their influence with the rulers for the cessation of these crimes, the punishment of those who commit them and the restoration of the rule of law throughout the country, ensuring the return home of the deported," the Vatican said. "These same leaders should not fail to emphasize that the support, financing and arming of terrorism is morally reprehensible."