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Kudlow to MC Inaugural Dinner for new Foundations in Education Tonight in Darien
| May 06, 2016


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DARIEN—Noted economics commentator and CNBC’s Senior Contributor Larry Kudlow will serve as master of ceremonies for the inaugural Foundations in Education Dinner set for this evening at Winged Foot Country Club in Darien.


The evening will get underway with a reception at 6:15 followed by dinner at 7 pm. The evening will include featured speakers and the premier of the new Foundations in Education video.

The Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport, will welcome the 250 guests expected to gather for the dinner, which will bring together business, political and charitable leaders throughout Fairfield County in support of Catholic schools.  

The keynote speaker will be George Irish retired President of Hearst Newspapers to become Vice President and Eastern Director of the two Hearst Foundations, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation of California and The Hearst Foundation, Inc. of New York, which are independent entities and separate from Hearst Corporation.

Roderick Ricketts, a teacher and coach at Kolbe Cathedral High School since 2004,  will be the alumnus speaker. A Bridgeport native, he graduated from Kolbe in 1998 and from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science degree and played basketball at both institutions. He was the first in his family to graduate from college. He is married with 6 children; his eldest daughter is a junior at Kolbe Cathedral High School

“Foundations in Education begins its work in a time of diocesan renewal, which has seen intense strategic planning begin for parishes and schools,” said Bishop Caggiano, “I am immensely grateful to all those who have worked to support this new initiative for the revitalization of Catholic education and the re-investment in our schools.”

“I believe that generations going forward will owe a debt of gratitude for the vision and commitment those who have joined the Foundations board and chosen to support this inaugural event,” the bishop said.

Formed in 2015 by Bishop Frank Caggiano, Foundations in Education is an independent, non-profit organization tasked with transforming diocesan Catholic schools into competitive, sustainable, 21st Century learning environments, while maintaining high academic and moral standards.

Siobhan Lidington, the Executive Director of the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, said that Foundations in Education will invest in schools, to stabilize enrollment and enhance learning opportunities. The new Foundations will support initiatives that improve upon the three key areas of leadership, classrooms, and faith-based learning communities.

There are twenty-four schools serving students in grades PK-8 and five high schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport. We serve over 9,000 students in a variety of urban and suburban communities throughout the County. We serve families of any faith or background. Most importantly, Catholic schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport

Members of the Foundations in Education Board include: The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano,  Fifth Bishop of Bridgeport; Robert L. Dilenschneider, founder and chairman of The Dilenschneider Group, a global public relations and communications consulting firm headquartered in New York City;  R. Bradford Evans is a Senior Advisor of Morgan Stanley; John C. Eppolito retired IBM executive who served as IBM’s Director of Finance for the Small and Medium Business unit for Latin America; Larry Kudlow,  CEO of Kudlow & Co., LLC, an economic research firm, and noted CNBC’s Senior Contributor; Ned C. Lautenbach, Chair of the Independent Trustees of the Equity and High Income Funds of Fidelity Investments, and currently the Lead Director of the Board of Directors of Eaton Corporation.   
     
Daniel J. McCarthy, President and Chief Executive Officer of Frontier Communications;  Thomas E. McInerney, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Bluff Point Associates, a private equity firm based in Westport, Connecticut; Dr. Julia M. McNamara, President of Albertus Magnus College and  Vice Chair of the Yale New Haven Health Services Corporation; Bernard E. Reidy, Managing Director and National Philanthropic Sales Executive for U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management; Gerard D. Robilotti, President of Robilotti Consulting, which specializes in health care management, finance, operations, medical education and government;  Joseph D. Roxe, chairman of Bay Holdings LLC and The Roxe Foundation. He was previously a Senior Vice President, Director, and Chief Financial Officer of Johnson & Higgins, the world’s largest private insurance broker at the time.  

For more information on Foundations in Education, contact Siobhan Lidington at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call: 203.416.1405.


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Youth Ministry Formation Day This Weekend
| May 05, 2016


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


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

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

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

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

The cost is $25.00 per person and includes lunch and numerous ministry resources. Register online at http://www.bridgeportdiocese.org/faith-formation/formation-day.

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The family is still engaged in raising the funds necessary for Constanza and the children to accompany Chris to Krakow; those wishing to support their efforts may contribute through the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1955319451/the-polyphony-family-at-world-youth-day

Videos of the “polyphony family” (Mueller Family Schola) may be found on their YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnnx3x5aHkCg9Z4OCZRMIgg

More about Chris Mueller’s music can be found on his personal website: www.benesonarium.com


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

Berrigan received the Campion Award from America in 1988.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The brothers, lifelong recidivists, were far from finished.

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

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

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

In 1997 he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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Click to watch video.

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


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

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


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


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


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

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

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

Click here to watch a video from News 12 Connecticut.


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


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


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


Honoring their patron saint
| April 28, 2016


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


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

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


SHU students impact lives in Colombia
| April 28, 2016


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


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

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

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


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


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




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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Boys and girls allstars!
| April 28, 2016


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



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

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

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


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

Click here to watch a short clip of his performance


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

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

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

For more information on John Michael Talbot, visit the web: www.johnmichaeltalbot.com


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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


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

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

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


Here I am Lord!
| April 24, 2016


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View photos from the concert

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


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

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



The choir’s rendition was breathtaking at today’s free concert. Created by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in the spirit of Synod 2014, the Diocesan Youth Choir (C4Y) gave its premier performance last Christmas to a packed house at Norwalk Concert Hall. To find out more about the choir, how young people can join it and how adults can support it, visit http://www.bridgeportdiocese.org/c4ysings/home/


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


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


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

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

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

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

The cost is $25.00 per person and includes lunch and numerous ministry resources. Register online at http://www.bridgeportdiocese.org/faith-formation/formation-day/  .;

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


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


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


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

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

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

Monsignor Chris Walsh, Pastor of St. Joseph Parish, which has sponsored St. Joseph School for 89 years, says “I am delighted that due to the Bob Scinto Scholarship, the $3 million Bishop’s Scholarship Fund (funds still available for new students) and the local Guardian Angels Fund (available for new and current students), attending St. Joseph’s school next year will be more affordable than ever which is great news for the valley.

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


Girls Varsity: First Row (l-r) Erin Parchinski, Amanda Zdru,
Abby Anka, Cassi Barbato, Skylar Robotti, Second Row:
Tatianna Gonzalez, Caitlin Fenton, Kaitlyn Feliciano, Elizabeth, Adzima,
Sami Perley, Georgia Grabowski, Alexandra Richo,
Third Row: Head Coach, Walt Brown, Assistant Coaches, Sean Fenton,
Chris Perley

The four teams went undefeated throughout the tournament, which was held April 1- 3.


New Covenant Center’s Celebrity Breakfast Big Success!
| April 19, 2016


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STAMFORD—On Tuesday April 19th, New Covenant Center held it’s 12th Annual Celebrity Breakfast at Woodway Country Club in Darien.






The event hosted over 250 people who were treated to an enjoyable new guest speaker format. This year featured an interview style discussion with Mark Lazarus, Chairman—NBC Sports Group, interviewed by Rob Simmelkjaer, Sr. VP—NBC Sports Ventures, and the former Honorary Chairman of the New Covenant Center Capital Campaign.

They shared information about the importance of NBC Sports volunteering at New Covenant Center and other charities, and a fun “behind the scenes” glimpse of the logistics of putting on the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Phil Shalala, Chairman Emeritus of New Covenant Center, was honored with the first “Founders Award” for the creation of the Celebrity Breakfast event and for his 16 years of devoted service. Additionally, John Gutman, Executive Director, revealed a new logo for the center that better reflects the range of services offered in the new facility.  Al Barber, President of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County proudly discussed this year’s 100th Anniversary of Catholic Charities, of which New Covenant Center is a program.  Celebrity Breakfast set a new record for funds raised for New Covenant Center and all proceeds go to support New Covenant Center meals, food pantry and human services programs.

As the final element of the Celebrity Breakfast, bidding continues on The New Covenant Center online auction” Football Night in America” package for 4, featuring an exclusive “behind-the-scenes” tour of NBC Sports International Studios in Stamford, viewing a LIVE “Football Night in America” show, dinner at the Water’s Edge in Darien, and accommodations with breakfast at the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich. https://www.charitybuzz.com/catalog_items/1038800" target="_blank">Bid Now, Auction ends: Tuesday, April 26th.

We would like to thank our Sponsors. Platinum Sponsor: NBC Sports Group. Gold Sponsors: Bodenheimer Foundation, Sarita & Gregory Hanley, King Low Heywood Thomas School, RBS, Thomson Reuters and Woodway Country Club.  Silver Sponsors: CrossBay Capital Partners, Jay& Lisa McDermott, William F. Mulhall & Family, PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP.  Bronze Sponsors: Armstrong Family Foundation, Michael J. Boyd, Darien/Rowayton Bank, ESPN, Michael Feldman/William Raveis Real Estate, Linda & Bruce Koe, Gerrie Musicco, Donna Shalala Foundation, St. Aloysius Parish, and Stone Harbor Management.  In-Kind Donations were kindly provided by The Advocate/Greenwich Time, Moffly Media, and Stamford Florist.

New Covenant Center opened a new 8,000 sq. ft. facility at 174 Richmond Hill last summer. New Covenant Center serves hot meals twice a day, 365 days a year.  Including the breakfast program and food pantry, it provides over 700,000 meals a year.  The new facility includes an efficient and modern kitchen, a welcoming dining area, expanded food storage area and refrigeration, a spacious food pantry area and additional space for other services.

Founded nearly 40 years ago, New Covenant Center is an inter-faith project of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County, serving the homeless, elderly, disabled, working poor, and children. No one is turned away.  There are no requirements to enter the New Covenant Center doors, except a mutual exchange of respect and dignity.

(To learn more and to donate, please go to: newcovenantcenter.org or contact: John Gutman, Executive Director .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))


Thousands across Diocese view Fatima Centennial Statue
| April 19, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Thousands of Catholics across the diocese turned out to welcome the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima from April 14 through April 19.


The statue’s arrival in the diocese is part of a two-year World Apostolate of Fatima USA Centennial U.S. Tour for Peace.

Over the weekend the Centennial Tour bus stopped at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Bridgeport, St. Theresa Parish in  Trumbull, St. Mary Parish in Stamford, Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton and St. Marguerite Parish in Brookfield, where it makes it final stop this evening (Tuesday) at 5 pm.

Parishes greeted the statue arrival by arranging Novenas, Meditation, Recitation of the Rosary and Mass to pray for peace.

“We had the great blessing to be one of the few parishes in Connecticut to be chosen to honor and celebrate this venerable and holy statue, and as Our Lady implored to the children of Fatima and the whole world to do, Pray for Peace throughout the world,” said Fr. Reggie Norman, Pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Wilton.
        
Events in Wilton included is a parish wide Novena  that started April 8th (parishioners signed up for a Nine Day Novena Notification reminder through the new parish app!)…
     
The Family Rosary was also said after every Mass.  The parish also hosted Visitation and Meditation before the Statue.  from 1-3:30pm.
 
Fr. Norman has encouraged parishioners to say this prayer every day for nine consecutive days: “Most Holy Virgin, who has deigned to come to Fatima to reveal to the three little shepherds the treasures of graces hidden in the recitation of the Rosary, inspire our hearts with sincere love of this devotion.

Click here to view the flicker albums with photos of the visitation of the Our Lady of Fatima statue in area parishes.


Deacon Harold Lynch, 79
| April 19, 2016


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EASTON—Deacon Harold J. Lynch, 79, a deacon at Notre Dame Parish in Easton, died at home in the care of his family on April 13 after a battle with cancer.


“He had been a member of our parish for over 30 years and faithfully served the Notre Dame Community for 27 years as a permanent deacon,” said Father Michael Lyons, Notre Dame’s pastor. “Deacon Hal will be greatly missed.”

Harold Lynch graduated in 1954 from Power Memorial Academy in Manhattan. He joined the United States Marine Corps the following year. He served from 1955 to 1963, attaining the rank of Sergeant.

In 1965, he received his bachelor of science degree from Fordham University and enjoyed a long and successful career as a sales and marketing executive of primary metals for Anaconda, AMAX and ASARCO. During his retirement he consulted with SIDICH, Belgium.

In 1989, he was ordained a deacon for the Diocese of Bridgeport and served in this capacity at Notre Dame of Easton and at Our Lady of Victory in Manhattan. As a deacon, he most enjoyed serving as a facilitator for the Prepare Enrich Program and pre-baptismal classes.

He was passionate about world news and politics and would share his views with anyone that would listen. He was an enthusiastic reader, a diehard Giants fan, an avid golfer and—most important—the number one cheerleader and supporter of his granddaughters at all their sporting and musical events.

Deacon Lynch will be brought into Notre Dame Church the afternoon of Tuesday, April 19. Calling hours will be held from 3-5 pm and 7-9 pm. A Memorial Mass will be celebrated on Wednesday, April 20, at 11 am. Msgr. Thomas Powers, vicar general of the Diocese of Bridgeport, will be the celebrant. Father Lyons will deliver the homily. Interment follows at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Trumbull.

Deacon Lynch is survived by his wife of 55 years, Carmen Barraza Lynch, three children and three granddaughters.


Deacon information sessions set
| April 19, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Information sessions for men interested in pursuing their calling to diaconate ministry will be held at five locations throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport beginning April 25 at 7 pm. The first session will be held at Holy Spirit Parish, 403 Scofieldtown Rd., Stamford.


The evening sessions will also be held in Wilton, Fairfield, Newtown and Shelton. Each session will run approximately 90 minutes and will provide specific information on the diaconate formation and the admission process.

“If a man is interested in discerning a vocation to the diaconate, we encourage him to attend one of the upcoming information sessions,” said Deacon Anthony Cassaneto, Ph.D., director of the diaconate for the Diocese of Bridgeport.

“We know that there are diaconal vocations in our parishes. Our hope is that these sessions will spark an interest in and a desire to learn more about diaconal ministry,” he said.

There are 80 active and 27 retired deacons in the diocese of Bridgeport. They minister to people in a variety of parish and institutional settings, including service as chaplains in area hospitals and healthcare facilities, Deacon Cassaneto said.

Ideally men applying to the diaconate should be between the ages of 40-60, though men 35 and older are welcome to apply.

Deacon Cassaneto said that many of the men who will attend the meeting have the support of their pastors. However, all who are interested are welcome to attend one of the information sessions. Men who elect to continue in the Inquiry process will then need a letter from their pastor to support their application to deacon formation.

The first six months of the Inquiry period is a time of spiritual discernment and reflection. Inquirers will attend monthly sessions at the Catholic Center before beginning formal theological studies. Those accepted as Inquirers will officially begin their discernment in January 2017.

“A man discerning his vocation to the permanent diaconate must fully participate in the Inquiry period in order to be considered an applicant,” Deacon Cassaneto said.

According to the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States, “The first stirrings of a vocation to the diaconate are often explored at a personal level and usually begin with seeking information about the diaconate and formation. An individual initially reflects upon the nature of his perceived call. Primacy must be given at this time to the spiritual dimension.”

The directory indicates that entrance into diaconal formation is not just a personal and family journey, but Church must accompany it, and that the “the parish is the primary experience of Church for most Inquirers.”

The deacon’s role includes administering baptisms, witnessing and blessing marriages, officiating at wakes, funerals and burial services, and presiding at prayer services. Deacons also distribute Holy Communion, proclaim the Gospel, preach the homily and assist at Mass.

Deacon Information Sessions will be held at the following locations: Holy Spirit Parish, 403 Scofieldtown Rd., Stamford, on April 25; Our Lady of Fatima Parish, 229 Danbury Rd., Wilton, on April 28; Holy Family Parish, 700 Old Stratfield Rd., Fairfield on May 2; St. Rose of Lima Parish, 46 Church Hill Rd., Newtown on May 11; and St. Lawrence Parish, 505 Shelton Ave., Shelton, on May 23.

(For more information, contact Deacon Anthony Cassaneto: 203.416.1451 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))               


Synod process “alive and evolving”
| April 16, 2016


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Click to view photos from the session

TRUMBULL—The Synod is over but the consultative process is still very much underway in the diocese, Bishop Frank Caggiano told more than 100 delegates who reconvened for the 2nd Post-Synod General Session this morning at St. Catherine of Siena Parish.


The bishop thanked the delegates for coming back together and said that he wants to hear from them as the diocese gives shape to the many new programs and initiatives inspired by their Synod deliberations.

“What we gave birth to is a living process. September 19 (date of the Synod Closing Mass Celebration last year) didn’t end anything. Implementation is not static, it will continue to evolve,” the bishop said. “We may do things we didn’t envision in our process but they will be born out of that which we discussed and discerned.”

Throughout the morning delegates received status reports from diocese officials and ministry leaders about new Synod initiatives including the Diocesan Leadership Institute, the Catholic Service Corps, and Faith Formation programs.

Those who have left the Church were still very much on the minds of delegates who asked that the new programs be effective in bringing back men and women who no longer participate in parish life and in better engaging the young people between the ages of 17 and 23, who are at the greatest risk of leaving.

During the meeting, the delegates also heard from three people who have come to work at the Diocese as a result of the needs identified during the Synod deliberations in 2014-2015.

The bishop said his thoughts on the post-synod process have been guided by “three words: patience, discernment, and perseverance, as we continue to be obedient and listen to prompting of Holy Spirit as a diocesan family.”

The bishop told delegates that he originally thought of the Synod as “roadmap” but as implementation moves forward, he has come to understand its as a “mosaic” with many bright pieces and figures.

“A roadmap has a clear line to the destination, but in a mosaic, each piece of the puzzle has its own life and character. When we put all these pieces together, we can create a new picture, a new chapter in the life of the diocese.”

The bishop, who drew laughter when he quipped that he was not known to be a patient man,” said the implementation was taking longer than he initially expected, and then added, “We have to learn to do this in the mind of Christ and with his grace. If that takes longer than I thought, that’s okay, as long as it’s done right.”

Patrick Turner, Director of Strategic and Pastoral Planning, and Fr. Michael Dogali, Episcopal Vicar for Planning, offered an overview of the Strategic Planning Process now underway in the diocese.

Turner said that over 400 parish taskforce members participated in planning workshops held during the month of March and that parishes are now working on self-assessment forms.

He said the self-assessments will be completed by May 15 and that each parish is expected to have a strategic plan drafted by next September.

“Planning is going to be an integral part of parish life going forward, “ he said. “This is not a one-time process.”

Fr. Dogali, who has been visiting with pastors across the diocese, said that the diocesan strategic planning commission is reviewing key diocesan services such as communications, information technology, data management, procurement and human resources in order to improve services to parishes.

“We’re really trying to respond to what the pastors have asked of us and to provide the kind of support that they need,” Fr. Dogali said.

Patrick Donovan, newly named executive director of the Diocesan Leadership Institute, said that every Catholic is called to ministry and leadership at some level by virtue of his or her baptism.

The father of four young children said “Part of my story is trying to figure out how to use my gifts to bring others to Jesus. We are all called to ministry and the first step is discernment.”

Donovan said that the institute will be a two-way street that draws from the talent and experience of those already working in the diocese. “Everyone brings something to the table. We already have good people doing formation and two great universities to draw from.”

Donovan said the ultimate goal of the institute is to ask, “How do we become the presence of Christ in other people’s lives, so they may want to learn more about what we have?”

He said programs offered by the new diocesan institute will “not be in the business of certifying but engaging and forming those interested in serving as catechists.”

Donovan, who also chairs the Catechetical Task Force recommended by the Synod, said an assessment is already under way of catechetic instruction to find out what is working in the diocese and “how we invite people into ministry.”

“Formation has to be rooted in hospitality, it has recognize the local experience, and it has to be manageable,” he said.

Rose Talbot-Babey, Coordinator of Elementary Foundation, said that her office will make new tools and resources available to engage and form young people in the faith.

She said at present, little training is offered to catechists, and that she parents need to start talking to their children about faith if they wish to avoid the “drop off and drop out” problem.

She said the challenge is to create religious education standards across the diocese without creating “a one size fits all” approach.

Kim Quatela, coordinator of Family Formation programs in the diocese, said that one of her biggest priorities has been “revamping marriage prep program that urgently needed an update.

She said her office is launching the new “Unveiled” program used by the Diocese of Richmond in Marriage Preparation.

“We’ve taken it from a class model to a marriage conference that is more welcoming and engaging. We want it to be a day of enrichment and formation for couples that will give them the resources they need to prepare for marriage.”

Quatela also told delegates that future offerings from her office will include a Women’s Conference and Men’s Conference, Ministry to the Divorced and Separated, Parenting Resources, information on Natural Family Planning and Fertility, and RCIA program to welcome new Catholics.

In a report on the Catholic Service Corps, Patrick Turner said the corps now has 15 pilot projects involving Catholic schools, local universities and parishes, and that a diocesan wide day of service is planned for September

“The goal is to engage youth in service and formation, and to make Christian service and enduring, lifelong choice,” he said.


Young women daring to dream
| April 15, 2016 • by By AUDREY COZZARIN


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NORWALK—“…Because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)


The realization that there was no safe place for homeless pregnant women in our community compelled Malta House founders Michael O’Rourke, Hope Carter, Christopher Bell and a concerned group who had a dream to create a work of mercy. Since 1998, Malta House, located in Norwalk, has provided pregnant women (and women with newborns or infants) with supportive services in a safe and nurturing environment.

As O’Rourke recalls, “These vulnerable young families often found themselves on the street or living in sub-standard conditions. Malta House was conceived not only to offer food and shelter, but also to give hope for the future.”

For those who are not familiar with Malta House, its mission to honor God-given life and lift up its residents towards a bright future is clearly in tune with the life of Jesus Christ who touched, healed, and ate with outcasts and the poor.
 
Lucy Freeman, Malta House executive director, says, “Malta House is where dreams really do matter. The women we serve are strong, yet need support to recognize their strengths.  We encourage them to dream and dream big.” Freeman’s dream is to serve more families, “We dream of a facility that will allow for growth, with larger and more living spaces for pregnant women with small children and a respite room for a woman in a crisis situation.”

Potential residents come to the attention of Malta House primarily through social services and other agencies. Once accepted into the residential program—which can accommodate up to 10 families—the young women are expected to follow guidelines of good conduct, are supported in establishing a savings account and in finding a part-time job or completing their education, and given skills training with the goal of independence. Teaming with other non-profits such as St. Joseph Parenting Center in Stamford, Malta House’s residents receive valuable parenting lessons and learn about nutrition and life skills both for themselves and their
children.

In addition, spirituality classes are provided at Malta House on a weekly basis. Father Reggie Norman, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton and a Malta House board member, has recently been meeting with the young women. As he explains it, “Our spirituality program is based on the needs of the individual women and the goal is to empower them to recognize their own inner strength and spirit. Individual counseling is also available to help the women overcome some of the tragedies of their past lives and to equip them to overcome and prosper in the new life and family they create.”

The residential program lasts about 18-24 months. For life after Malta House, there is the “Partnering Success” program that provides follow-up services and outreach to guide “graduates” through the initial stages of life as parents on their own.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano values the dreams of those who seek the help of Malta House. He says, “Malta House plays an integral part in the mission of our diocese, as it allows young mothers and their children to have a healthy and holy start to their life. Malta House provides the children an opportunity to grow and be educated, and the young mothers a beginning to a life that holds promise and opportunity.”

In remarks to those attending last year’s Spring Gala, he said, “Besides financial support, the gift of your time and your prayer—the spirit of volunteerism—this is what makes Malta House a unique and successful experiment in Catholic social living.”

Kim Petrone, chair of the Malta House board of directors, invites the readers of Fairfield County Catholic to attend this year’s Annual Spring Gala on Saturday, May 14, at Woodway Country Club in Darien. The evening features a cocktail hour, dinner, and a live auction. In addition, Barbara M. Ripp, a long-time supporter of Malta House, will be honored.

Petrone says, “Overcoming life’s most challenging issues starts with a dream, and supporters like Barbara are key to the young women achieving their dreams.

Malta House is supported entirely by private donations, both monetary and in-kind donations—large and small, every gift matters as our residents continue on their path to self-sufficiency.”

(For more info about Malta House and its upcoming Annual Gala: visit www.maltahouse.org or call 203.857.0088.)


Father Emidio Gregori, 92
| April 14, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Father Emidio O. Gregori, a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport for over 58 years, passed away on Tuesday, April 12, 2016 in Stratford at the age of 92.


Father Gregori was ordained on May 3, 1958 at St. Augustine Cathedral by the Most Rev. Lawrence J. Shehan, first Bishop of Bridgeport. Father Gregori’s body will be received by Reverend Nicholas Pavia on Monday, April 18, 2016 at 3 pm at Our Lady of Peace Church, Stratford, and will lie in state until the Vigil Mass at 7 pm.  Monsignor Thomas Powers will preside and Reverend Nicholas Pavia will be the homilist.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held there on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 at 11 am. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the main celebrant and Reverend Richard Murphy will be the homilist. Interment will be at Saint Peter Cemetery, 71 Lake Avenue, Ext., Danbury.

Father Gregori was assigned as Parochial Vicar at Saint Roch, Greenwich; Saint Mary, Stamford; Saint Raphael, Bridgeport; and Saint James, Stratford. He also served as temporary administrator at Saint James Parish. He celebrated his 50th Anniversary as a Priest in June, 2008.

Father Gregori was born on May 19, 1922 in Collagna, Italy, to Peter  Gregori and Maria Cristina Pulsoni Gregori. He attended Danbury High School, the Junior College of Bridgeport, and Syracuse University.

He was prepared for the priesthood at Saint Mary Seminary, Saint Mary, KY and Saint Mary Seminary, Baltimore.

Father Gregori did post-graduate studies at the University of San Francisco. He also served on the Diocesan Presbyteral Council and was active as a director of District CYO in Greenwich.  He retired from active ministry in 1997.

Father Gregori is mourned by his brother and sister-in-law, Oreste and Joanna Gregori. Condolences may be sent to Mr. and Mrs. Oreste Gregori, 23 Sunnyview Drive, Redding, CT 06896.


2nd Post-Synod General Session To offer progress report on implementation
| April 14, 2016


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TRUMBULL—The second diocesan post-Synod General Session will be held this Saturday, April 16, from 8 am to 12 noon at St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull. 


More than 150  men and women who served as delegates during last year’s Synod process are expected to reconvene for an update on Synod initiatives now underway in the diocese.

“We look forward to bringing the delegates together to review the actions taken on the Synod recommendations since we met in December,” said Patrick Turner, Director of Strategic and Pastoral Planning of the Diocese of Bridgeport.   

Fr. Joseph Marcello, Pastor of St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull, will celebrate Mass at 7:15 am on Saturday for those Synod delegates who wish to attend, prior to the post-Synod session.

The session will formally begin at 8 am and will conclude promptly at noon.  Coffee, juice, breakfast pastries and fresh fruit will be provided.   

Bishop Caggiano will address delegates at 8:30 with a reflection on the progress of Synod initiatives, particularly those focused on empowering youth, renewing catechesis, and forming parish leaders.
   
The morning will include updates from the Office of Faith Formation, and progress reports on the pastoral planning process, the Catholic Service Corps, the Diocesan Leadership Institute, the Catechetical Task Force and other initiatives. For a full recap, visit the Synod website at http://www.2014synod.org
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“There will also be plenty of time for discussion and questions with those who are undertaking the implementation,” said Patrick Turner, who said that many delegates are also at work on implementing various synod recommendations.

Bishop Caggiano issued a Pastoral Letter on Easter Sunday Solemnity of Easter, reflecting on the vision and mission that arose from Synod 2014 as the diocese works to implement its initiatives in the coming months and years.

Click to read the Bishop’s Pastoral Letter on the Synod


Open Houses set for Catholic Elementary Schools in Stamford
| April 13, 2016


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STAMFORD—On Sunday, April 24, 2016 all four Catholic elementary schools in Stamford will be open from 10 am to 1 pm to welcome parishioners, prospective families, alumni, alumni parents and grandparents. 


Bishop Frank Caggiano is leading a new strategic planning process that will position the schools for the very best in 21st century learning.

Students and families are invited to come visit and take a tour, meet faculty, parents and students and learn more about Catholic education.

·      Holy Spirit School, 403 Scofieldtown Road
·      Our Lady Star of the Sea, 1170 Shippan Avenue
·      St Cecilia, 1186 Newfield Avenue,
·      Trinity Catholic Middle School, 948 Newfield Avenue.

All schools are also open for Take A Look Tuesdays, our weekly open houses, every Tuesday from 9 am – 11 am.  For more information, please visit www.CatholicSchoolsStamford.org


Wedding Jubilee Mass set for April 17
| April 12, 2016


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TRUMBULL—More than 200 couples in parishes throughout the diocese will be honored at special Wedding Jubilee Mass celebrated by  Bishop Frank J. Caggiano on Sunday, April 17, 3 pm at St. Theresa Church, 5301 Main Street in Trumbull.


The Jubilee will bless the marriages of couples celebrating anniversaries ranging from 25 to 75  years. The afternoon includes Mass, photos of the couples being honored by Bishop Caggiano, and a reception.

Among those celebrating wedding anniversaries will be Stanley and Gladys Gwiazdzinski (75 years) of St. Paul Parish in Greenwich; William and Bertha Fredette (70 years) of Holy Family Parish in Fairfield; Lawrence and Ruth Schmidt (70 years) of Saint Bridget of Ireland Parish in Stamford; and Joseph and Florence Romano (66 years) of St. Matthew Parish in Norwalk.

The annual Jubilee Mass had been originally scheduled for St. Paul’s in Greenwich but was relocated to St. Theresa when a larger Church was required to accommodate the enthusiastic response from the couples and their guests.

The Mass is being sponsored and coordinated by the Faith Formation Office of the Diocese of Bridgeport. For information contact: Kim Quatela, Coordinator of Family Formation: 203.416.1334 or email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


| April 12, 2016


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Also: Learn more about Hidden Rock Sports

NEWTOWN—Faith, sports and giving back were the theme of the first Good News for Young Athletes family workshop offered by Hidden Rock Sports, LLC at St. Rose of Lima Parish on April 2. Interactive games and lessons emphasized the importance of including God in every game plan.


“Sports are a major aspect of family life in our town and families are often so busy with games and practices they have a difficult time fitting worship services into their weekend schedules. This ministry provides an important bridge between faith and sports. It shows children that God is the greatest coach. When they put him first, the rest will follow,” said Msgr. Weiss, St. Rose’s pastor.

In the spirit of teamwork and giving, participants donated gently used sports equipment and uniforms to Let’s Play it Forward, an organization that collects and distributes these items to children in need.

(For more information about adding a twist of faith to your family’s sports life, visit www.hiddenrocksports.com. To find how to bring a Faith and Sports workshop to your school or parish, go to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Father Frederick Saviano, 74
| April 11, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Father Frederick Saviano died on Saturday, April 9, 2016 at Bridgeport Hospital after a long struggle with illness.


Father Saviano’s body will be received into his home parish of the Church of the Assumption, Westport, on Friday, April 15, at 3 pm by Father Robert Kinnally, Chancellor of the Diocese, and will lie in state until the Vigil Mass at 7 pm.

Msgr Thomas Powers, Vicar General of the Diocese of Bridgeport, will preside at the Mass and Father Thomas Thorne, Assumption’s pastor, will be the homilist.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, April 16, at 10 am. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the main celebrant; Msgr. Nicholas Grieco will be the homilist. Interment will be at Assumption-Greens Farms Cemetery, Greens Farms Road, Westport.

In a 2002 profile of Fr. Saviano in Fairfield County Catholic, he reflected on his work as a priest while serving as Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Danbury.

“The priesthood is like the Incarnation. When Jesus took on a human nature, He became a part of us, no matter how deeply we upset Him, no matter how badly we behave,” he said
 
“As priests we live where we work and we’re always available to our people. I love them. I’m part of them, I am their priest.  It’s all-absorbing. No matter how difficult this job is, you have to see God’s presence all around you.”

Father Saviano was born on November 5, 1941 in Norwalk Hospital. The son of John and Mildred Romano Saviano, he grew up in Westport. He was prepared for the priesthood by the Missionaries of LaSalette at LaSalette Seminary, Hartford, LaSalette Seminary, Altamont, NY and LaSalette Seminary, Ipswich, MA.

He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Thomas J. Riley at the La Salette National Shrine in Ipswich, MA on May 5, 1968.  He then ministered for many years as a missionary in Argentina and Peru.  

Coming back to his home diocese, he was assigned as parochial vicar at Saint Benedict/Our Lady of Montserrat Parish in Stamford and subsequently was incardinated into the Diocese of Bridgeport in 1995. In 1996, Father Saviano was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Danbury.

He served there until 2005, at which time he accepted a year-long pastoral assignment in parish mission work in Peru.

Father Saviano became the director of the Office for the Propagation of the Faith in 2006, and served in that capacity at the Catholic Center until his retirement in 2015.  During this time he was in residence at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Weston and was the administrator of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Parish, Shelton.

Father Saviano also served on the diocesan Presbyteral Council.

Father Saviano is mourned by his sister-in-law, Hazel Saviano, and several nieces and nephews. His memory will be cherished by his many friends in South America with whom he kept contact through Skype and social media. Condolences may be sent to Hazel Saviano, 3 Saviano Lane, Westport, CT 06880. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Fred and for the consolation of his family.


From Broadway to Habitat House!
| April 10, 2016


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FAIRFIELD—“Broadway in the Basement” will be back at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Fairfield on Saturday, April 23, at 7pm for pasta dinner and a show in the parish hall.


“Snap Shots” will include highlight numbers from some of Broadway’s most popular shows. It will be performed by members of New Paradigm Theater, a non-profit group of professional Broadway actors who use their talents to raise funds for other non-profit groups.

Proceeds from the performance will benefit the Pope Francis House now under construction on George Street in Bridgeport by Habitat for Humanity and volunteers from many area parishes and institutions.

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

Donna Spigarolo, a member of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Fairfield and a longtime Habitat volunteer, is serving as coordinator of the effort. She said the project needs one final push in fund raising to bring it to completion.

The Zepeda family that hopes to move into the house in May will be guests during the evening and will says a few words about their own experience and share their excitement about owning their own home. They are members of the St. Augustine Cathedral parish.

A live auction with auctioneer Fr. Charles Allen of Fairfield University will be held along with a silent auction.

People who attend are asked to make a contribution at the door based on what they might ordinarily spend on show and a dinner. For reservations email Katie Scinto at: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 203- 209-1280.


Share truth of family with mercy, help those struggling, pope says
| April 08, 2016 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


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VATICAN CITY—The same mercy and patience that are essential for building a strong family must be shown to those whose families are in trouble or have broken up, Pope Francis said in his highly anticipated postsynodal apostolic exhortation.


The document, "'Amoris Laetitia' (The Joy of Love), on Love in the Family," released April 8, contains no new rules or norms.

However, it encourages careful review of everything related to family ministry and, particularly, much greater attention to the language and attitude used when explaining church teaching and ministering to those who do not fully live that teaching.

"No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love," Pope Francis wrote. People grow in holiness, and the church must be there to give them a helping hand rather than turn them away because they have not attained some degree of perfection.

The exhortation was Pope Francis' reflection on the discussion, debate and suggestions raised during the 2014 and 2015 meetings of the Synod of Bishops on the family. Like synod members did, the pope insisted that God's plan for the family is that it be built on the lifelong union of one man and one woman open to having children.

Synod members, including priests, religious and laypeople serving as experts and observers, talked about everything from varied cultural forms of courtship to marriage preparation and from the impact of migration on families to care for elderly parents.

Pope Francis' document touches on all the issues raised at the synods and gives practical advice on raising children, urges a revision of sex-education programs and decries the many ways the "disposable culture" has infiltrated family life and sexuality to the point that many people feel free to use and then walk away from others.

"Everyone uses and throws away, takes and breaks, exploits and squeezes to the last drop. Then, goodbye," he wrote.

Much of the document is tied to the theme of God's mercy, including Pope Francis' discussion of welcoming the vulnerable.

"Dedication and concern shown to migrants and to persons with special needs alike is a sign of the Spirit," he wrote. Both are "a test of our commitment to show mercy in welcoming others and to help the vulnerable to be fully a part of our communities."

The synod issues that garnered the most headlines revolved around the question of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried, as well as Catholic attitudes toward homosexuality.

"In no way must the church desist from proposing the full ideal of marriage, God's plan in all its grandeur," Pope Francis said.

He repeated his and the synod's insistence that the church cannot consider same-sex unions to be a marriage, but also insisted, "every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity."

On the question of families experiencing difficulties, separation or even divorce and remarriage, Pope Francis said responses to the questionnaires sent around the world before the synod "showed that most people in difficult or critical situations do not seek pastoral assistance, since they do not find it sympathetic, realistic or concerned for individual cases."

The responses, he wrote, call on the church "to try to approach marriage crises with greater sensitivity to their burden of hurt and anxiety."

Particularly in ministry to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, Pope Francis said, pastors must help each couple look at their actions and circumstances, recognize their share of responsibility for the breakup of their marriage, acknowledge church teaching that marriage is indissoluble and prayerfully discern what God is calling them to.

Pope Francis said it would be a "grave danger" to give people the impression that "any priest can quickly grant 'exceptions' or that some people can obtain sacramental privileges in exchange for favors."

At the same time, he insisted, "the way of the church is not to condemn anyone forever; it is to pour out the balm of God's mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart."

Divorced and civilly remarried couples, especially those with children, must be welcomed in Catholic parishes and supported in efforts to raise their children in the faith.

Generally, without an annulment of their sacramental marriage, such a couple would not be able to receive Communion or absolution of their sins unless they promised to live as "brother and sister." But every situation is different, the pope said, which is why the church does not need new rules, but a new commitment on the part of pastors to provide spiritual guidance and assistance with discernment.

The diversity of situations -- for example, that of a spouse who was abandoned versus being the one who left -- makes it unwise to issue "a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and applicable to all cases," the pope wrote. Quoting St. John Paul II, he said, "'since the degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases,' the consequences or effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same."

Pope Francis used the document's footnotes to specify that the consequences include whether or not the couple might eventually be able to receive Communion: "This is also the case with regard to sacramental discipline, since discernment can recognize that in a particular situation no grave fault exists," he wrote. Those who are in a state of serious sin are not to receive Communion.

Another footnote commented on the church's request that remarried couples who had not received an annulment and who want to receive the sacraments forgo sexual relations. "In such situations, many people, knowing and accepting the possibility of living 'as brothers and sisters' which the church offers them, point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, 'it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers,'" he wrote.

Pope Francis wrote that he understood those "who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion. But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness, a mother who, while clearly expressing her objective teaching, always does what good she can, even if in the process, her shoes get soiled by the mud of the street."

Turning to those who believe allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion waters down church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, the pope said, "we put so many conditions on mercy that we empty it of its concrete meaning and real significance. That is the worst way of watering down the Gospel."

In many respects, Pope Francis wrote, church members themselves have presented and promoted such a dreary picture of married life that many people want nothing to do with it even though they dream of a love that will last a lifetime and be faithful.

"We have long thought that simply by stressing doctrinal, bioethical and moral issues, without encouraging openness to grace, we were providing sufficient support to families, strengthening the marriage bond and giving meaning to marital life," he wrote. "We find it difficult to present marriage more as a dynamic path to personal development and fulfillment than as a lifelong burden.

"We also find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations," the pope wrote. Yet, "we have been called to form consciences, not to replace them."

The role of an individual's conscience made frequent appearances in the document, not only regarding the situation of those who may determine their new union is best for their family, but also regarding decisions over how many children to have.

Pope Francis praised Blessed Paul VI's encyclical "Humanae Vitae," which insisted every sexual act in a marriage must be open to the possibility of pregnancy, and included a large section reiterating what has become known as St. John Paul II's "Theology of the Body."

The saintly pope definitively opposed an old idea that considered "the erotic dimension of love simply as a permissible evil or a burden to be tolerated for the good of the family," Pope Francis said. "Rather, it must be seen as gift from God that enriches the relationship of the spouses."

Pope Francis called for church leaders to ensure more married couples are involved as leaders in designing and carrying out pastoral programs for families. Their witness is key, he said.

"Marital love is not defended primarily by presenting indissolubility as a duty, or by repeating doctrine, but by helping it to grow ever stronger under the impulse of grace," he said. "A love that fails to grow is at risk. Growth can only occur if we respond to God's grace through constant acts of love, acts of kindness that become ever more frequent, intense, generous, tender and cheerful."


Bishop Caggiano chats with Jim Blasingame
| April 07, 2016


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Listen to the interview here

BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank Caggiano joined nationally syndicated talk radio host Jim Blasingame on The Small Business Advocate Show to discuss some of the steps the Diocese of Bridgeport is taking to reform and renew the local Church.


The Bishop and Jim discussed a wide range of topics including bringing Catholics back to the Church, the need for healing after the abuse crisis, and the important role the Church plays in serving the people of Fairfield County.

Jim Blasingame is one of the world’s foremost experts on small business and entrepreneurship.He is president and founder of Small Business Network, Inc., a media company dedicated to serving small business. He is also a syndicated columnist and the author of three books, Small Business Is Like a Bunch of Bananas, Three Minutes to Succces and The Age of The Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance, which have sold over 140,000 copies combined. His fourth book, The Third Ingredient ®, will be published in 2016. Google ranks Jim as the #1 small business expert in the world.


Bishop names new Superintendent of Schools
| April 06, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has announced the appointment of Steven F. Cheeseman, Ed. D. of East Moriches, Long Island, as Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Bridgeport.



Dr. Cheeseman currently serves as Associate Superintendent of Schools in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Long Island, and will assume his new responsibilities in Bridgeport effective June 30, 2016. He will be responsible for more than 9,000 students and 1,000 faculty members in the 31 elementary and high schools sponsored by the Diocese of Bridgeport. He will also chair the Diocesan Education Commission formed by Bishop Caggiano in 2014 to reorganize Catholic education and lead a strategic planning process, now underway, to insure its viability and vitality in the future.

Dr. Cheeseman succeeds Sister Mary Grace Walsh, ASCJ, who accepted the newly created position of Provost for Education, Evangelization and Catechesis of the Archdiocese of Hartford in December 2015.  

“I am pleased to announce that our new superintendent is a man of great faith along with being a superb and innovative educator. At a time when our schools are taking major steps in planning for the future, we are fortunate to draw upon his leadership skills and profound understanding of the value of Catholic education,” said Bishop Caggiano.

The bishop said that Dr. Cheeseman has worked at every level of Catholic education from teacher to principal and system administrator and he brings extensive experience to the diocesan post.  “He has been responsible for professional development, worked with boards, and negotiated on behalf of the diocese in the collective bargaining agreements with the diocesan high school teacher association. These skills will serve him well in his new role as leader of education in the diocese.”

While serving as Associate Superintendent for Rockville Centre, Dr. Cheeseman was responsible for the development and implementation of diocesan-wide strategic planning along with marketing and branding efforts. He also coordinated the implementation of diocesan curriculum and worked with administrators to ensure student growth and success through data driven analysis and planning.

“As a leader in Catholic Education I truly believe that we need Catholic schools now more than ever. Our schools must combine a clear and consistent focus on the Catholic faith and tradition along with a commitment to academic excellence. With this as our focus, we can work to create a generation of young people who leave our schools academically strong and prepared to use the framework of faith as the lens with which to think critically about the world around them,” said Dr. Cheeseman.

Dr. Cheeseman earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership & Technology from Dowling College, a Professional Diploma in School District Administration also from Dowling, an MA in Liberal Arts & Sciences from SUNY/Empire State College and a BA in History/Secondary Education from St. Joseph’s College, Patchogue, NY. He is a certified teacher and School District Administrator.  

Dr. Cheeseman served as a High School and Junior High teacher in both public and Catholic schools as well as an Assistant Principal and Interim Principal in public and Catholic Middle and Elementary Schools. Immediately prior to his service as Associate Superintendent, he served for eight years as principal of his own alma mater, McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead, NY.

In addition to these full-time positions, Dr. Cheeseman has been an Adjunct Professor at Fordham University Graduate School of Education and St. Joseph’s College, Patchogue. Earlier in his career he served as an Assistant Director of Religious Education and Youth Minister in his parish.

Dr. Cheeseman and his wife, Danielle, are parishioners at St. John the Evangelist in Center Moriches, Long Island and currently make their home in East Moriches. They are the proud parents of Emily (Grade 5), Christina (Grade 9) and Steven (Grade 11). They look forward to relocating to Fairfield County in the coming months.

The diocesan school system serves students in grades Pre-K through 12 in 31 Catholic schools in the cities and suburbs throughout Fairfield County. There are 25 elementary schools, five high schools and one special education school.   

Fifty percent of diocesan elementary schools have received the Blue Ribbon Schools of National Excellence, and ninety-nine percent of diocesan high school graduates have earned admission to 300 colleges and universities nationwide.    

In 2015, the new Bishop Scholarship Fund doubled financial aid in the form of scholarships to elementary school families by distributing over $2.2 million to more than 1,500 students, including 300 new students in the elementary schools. High school students in Catholic schools throughout the diocese are eligible to apply for scholarships this year. The largest source of support for the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund is the Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA).

(For more information about Catholic schools in Fairfield County, visit the website at www.bridgeportdiocese.com, or phone 203.416.1380.)


Fraternas celebrate Silver Anniversary
| April 06, 2016


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TRUMBULL—“It is a great joy to celebrate this anniversary with you,” said Karina Bohorquez, MCR, the local superior of the Marian Community of the Reconciliation, speaking to friends and family gathered at St. Catherine of Siena Church on April 4.


Bishop Frank J. Caggiano presided at the Mass celebrating the Silver Jubilee of their community, which was founded in Lima, Peru, on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 1991. The glow of candles and of hearts full of friendship warmed the church, which was generously filled despite the surprise April ice storm outside.

The Fraternas, as they are commonly known, are an Apostolic Community of laywomen who, responding to God’s call, have consecrated themselves to God in order to serve others in the world. The worldwide community has three establishments in the United States: in this diocese; in Denver, Colorado; and in San Antonio, Texas. They came to Trumbull in 2005.

“How right and just it us that we give thanks to almighty God for the Fraternas, especially now on their 25th anniversary,” said Bishop Caggiano in his homily, describing the Fraternas as “women of courage, who give of themselves joyfully and generously.”

Celebrating the Feast of the Annunciation, the bishop held up the model of Mary in her response to the angel Gabriel. “At her ‘fiat,’ that one ‘yes,’ heaven and earth were joined.” He spoke of Mary’s courage in her willingness to go along with God’s plan, whatever the personal cost.

“We give thanks for all you do as faithful daughters of Mary,” he told the Fraternas. “You give us such an example, and we hope that we, like you, will be courageous when we proclaim the word of God.”

A reception followed the Mass, during which each of the Fraternas took time to talk about their apostolic mission in this diocese, from work with Convivio and the High School Apostles to support of individuals and families in all areas of life. There are currently four Fraternas in Trumbull: Karina Bohorquez, Monica Zuniga, Maria Cerdena and Karina Goñi.


Immaculate Golden Gala Thank You!
| April 06, 2016


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DANBURY—On Saturday, April 2, 2016, Immaculate High School celebrated its Golden Anniversary at the annual Gala, which raised $100,000 to support the school and its students.


During the evening which drew a record 450 attendees to  the Amber Room Colonnade, Immaculate High School honored and Mr. Anthony M. Rizzo, Jr. and Mr. George F. Landegger.

Funds from the evening provide support for Immaculate’s academic and extracurricular programs including athletics, fine arts and spiritual life.
 
“The purpose of this most historical Gala evening was to celebrate our past and prepare for the future of our Immaculate students, said Mary R. Maloney, President.
 
“Our school charism of forming the whole person in spirit, mind and body continues with the profound realization that our mission is achieved only with and through the unity of the whole community—students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents, grandparents and friends. And, I have to share with you that thanks to the unity of so many, the future of Immaculate is looking very bright!”
 
Bonnie Zuccala served as Chairperson of the Gala Committee and let an energetic team of twenty-five committee members. The evening was also coordinated by Immaculate’s Advancement Team led by Advancement Director, Debbie Basile.
 
“Their combined persevering efforts and creative spirit were exemplary and highly commendable. Many sincere thanks to all who were able to attend as well as those of you who extended your support through volunteering and donating to our Gala and/or the 2015-16 Annual Fund.
We are a very blessed community,” said Maloney.
 
Immaculate High School, a Catholic college preparatory school located in Danbury, is leading the way in 21st Century education and learning. Accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, IHS serves more than 26 towns in the greater Danbury area, including Putnam and Duchess Counties in eastern New York.

Students at Immaculate live the motto “Respect, Responsibility and Reverence” not only in the classrooms, but also on the athletic fields, the stage, and in their daily lives.
 
Immaculate High School is located at 73 Southern Boulevard, Danbury CT 06810 Tel:203.744.1510 • Fax:203.744.1275. Website: www.immaculatehs.org


The Fatima Centennial U.S. Tour to Stop in Diocese
| April 05, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Catholics throughout the Fairfield County are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima from April 14 through April 19.


The statue’s arrival in the diocese is part of a two-year World Apostolate of Fatima USA Centennial U.S. Tour for Peace, which kicks off on March 21 at the National Blue Army Shrine Of Our Lady in Metuchen, New Jersey. The statue was originally blessed by Pope Pius XII in 1947.

From April 14-19, the Our Lady of Fatima Centennial tour will make five stops in the diocese:

Our Lady of Fatima (Bridgeport) - April 14th, 12 pm, 2:30 pm

St. Theresa (Trumbull) - April 14th, 4:30 pm - April 15th, 6:30 pm

St. Mary (Stamford) - April 16th, 7:30 am, 9 pm
Our Lady of Fatima (Wilton) - April 17th, 7:30 am - April 18th, 3 pm
St. Marguerite (Brookfield) - April 18th, 7 pm - April 19th, 5 am


Msgr. Thomas Powers, Vicar General of the Diocese, said the arrival of the Centennial Tour and statue will be an “opportunity to renew our commitment to prayer and to peace. Most importantly we will turn to Our Lady for prayer, help and guidance,” he said, in announcing the tour dates.
    
The tour features the historic international Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima blessed by Pope Pius XII in 1947. It commemorates the 100th anniversary of two apparitions in Fatima Portugal, the Angel of Peace in 1916 and the Blessed Mother in 1917. It is expected to visit more than 100 dioceses in 50 states.
     
It is not commonly known that the story of Our Lady of Fatima actually began in 1916, when an Angel of Peace appeared on three separate occasions to three young shepherd children—Lucia Santos and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto. He taught them to pray, and encouraged them to make sacrifices and spend time in adoration of the Lord as a way of bringing peace to their country.
     
The following spring, on May 13, 1917, the three children were with their flocks in a pasture when they witnessed brilliant flashes in the sky. Lucia later described in her memoirs the appearance of “a lady, clothed in white, brighter than the sun, radiating a light more clear and intense than a crystal cup filled with sparkling water lit by burning sunlight.”
It was the first of six consecutive monthly appearances by Our Lady, who asked the children to devote themselves to the Holy Trinity and pray the Rosary every day to bring peace to the world.
     
Her last visit, witnessed by a gathering of tens of thousands, culminated with a spectacular solar phenomenon known as the Miracle of the Sun.
   
For more information, please contact the above parishes receiving the statue.

Click to view a PDF of the Fatima Tour Press Release.

Click to view video of Msgr. Thomas Powers introducing the Centennial Tour.


21st Century Skills Shine at St. A’s Science Fair
| April 05, 2016


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NEW CANAAN—Magic was in the air at the annual St. Aloysius School Science Fair. Sixty young scientists in grades sixth, seventh and eighth, gathered recently in the school gymnasium to showcase their STEM skills.


Seventh graders Molly McAndrew, Veronica Butler and Helen Mahoney
from St. Aloysius School Take 1st Prize at the annual Science Fair.


Students impress judges Joan Williams and Barry Weston
with their Earthquake Simulator.

Over thirty projects, including one called, “The Magic of Science,” were presented to lower school students and parents.

At the same time, fifth graders, dressed as notable scientists, created a “living museum” as they chatted with visitors. Edwin Hubble, Stephen Hawking and Aristotle, among others, could be heard talking about their past theories and inventions. 
 
Also in attendance was a panel of judges, comprised of four science, engineering and technology experts, who listened as students described their projects and answered questions. Judges gave feedback on all projects, but used a scoring system to evaluate seventh and eighth grade projects.  

The St. Aloysius School Science Fair culminated months of classroom work using the STEM model of learning. STEM requires students to think beyond science textbooks, as they identify problems, conduct research, brainstorm, and experiment. Utilizing engineering design principles, students learn to apply solutions. Science Teacher, Deborah Phillips explains, “STEM is a skill, or way of thinking, that will move our students into the next generation of technology and scientific breakthroughs.” 

The project topics were wide ranging. They included analysis of different liquids on the heart rate of a daphnia, otherwise known as a water flea, and the mold growth rate of different baking flour. Other topics included the genetics of fingerprints, levels of bacteria in varied water samples, absorption properties of various flowers, a look at hydroponic gardening (growing without soil) and phototropism (plant response to light.)
 
Mrs. Phillips was clearly proud of her students, who eagerly and professionally demonstrated their projects. The judges were also very impressed, with one commenting that, relative to other science fairs, St. Aloysius students scored among the highest. 
 
In the seventh grade, first place winners were Molly McAndrews, Helen Mahoney, and Veronica Butler who presented, "White and Bright.”  Second place winners were Cianna Varas, and Lan Wen, presenting about the, “Dangers of Soap.” The third place winning project was, “Earthquake Simulator” presented by Conor McNichols, A.J. Cirifalco, and Henry McGuinness.

Eighth grader winners were Raaga Subramanian, Isabella Adamo, and Chloe Sweitzer with "How Do pH Levels Affect You?" taking first place. In second Place, "Vocaloid Hologram" was presented by Zef Paloka, Dylan Young, and Bartek Ruszczyk.  Coming in third was "Bacteria in your Water" by Sean Oates, Jack Farrar, and Adam Shaak.
 
St. Aloysius School is a Kindergarten through Grade 8 Catholic School located in the center of New Canaan. It was named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in 2010, and is proudly entering its sixtieth year of academic excellence in a faith-filled community. For more information about St. Aloysius, please call 203.966.0786.


Pope asks for new Catholic institutions of mercy, charity
| April 04, 2016 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


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VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis asked Catholic dioceses around the world to set up a permanent memorial of the Year of Mercy by establishing a hospital, home for the aged or school in an under-served area.


Pope Francis speaks as he leads a prayer service on the eve
of the feast of Divine Mercy in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 2.
(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday with an evening prayer vigil April 2 and a morning Mass April 3, the pope said the idea came to him during a meeting with a charitable organization and he decided to mention it at the vigil with participants of the European gathering of the World Apostolic Congress of Mercy and followers of the Divine Mercy devotion.

“As a reminder, a ‘monument’ let’s say, to this Year of Mercy, how beautiful it would be if in every diocese there were a structural work of mercy: a hospital, a home for the aged or abandoned children, a school where there isn’t one, a home for recovering drug addicts—so many things could be done,” the pope said.

“Let’s think about it and speak with the bishops,” the pope told thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet of St. Faustina Kowalska, and also to remember St. John Paul II, who promoted the devotion and died April 2, 2005.

Reciting the “Regina Coeli” prayer at the end of Mass the next day, Pope Francis said the Divine Mercy Sunday celebration was “like the heart of the Year of Mercy,” and he announced that Catholic parishes throughout Europe would be asked to take up a special collection April 24 as a sign of closeness and solidarity with people suffering because of the war in Eastern Ukraine.

The war has caused thousands of deaths and forced more than 1 million people to flee their homes, he said. Pope Francis prayed that the collection, a sign of solidarity and closeness, “could help, without further delay, promote peace and respect for the law in that harshly tried land.”

The more one receives mercy, Pope Francis said at the vigil April 2, “the more we are called to share it with others; it cannot be kept hidden or kept only for ourselves.”

God’s mercy should drive people to love others, “recognizing the face of Jesus Christ above all in those who are most distant, weak, alone, confused and marginalized,” he said.

“It pains the heart” when people talk about refugees and say, “Let’s throw them out,” or speak about the poor and say, “Let them sleep on the street,” the pope said. “Is this of Jesus?”

Reflecting on the Gospel account of Thomas, who came to faith in the risen Lord when he was able to put his hands in Jesus' wounds, Pope Francis said, “a faith incapable of entering the wounds of the Lord is not faith. A faith unable to be merciful as a sign of the merciful wounds of the Lord, is not faith. It's an idea, an ideology.”

"If we want truly want to believe and have faith," he said, "we must draw near and touch those wounds, caress those wounds, but also lower our heads and let others touch our wounds."

Celebrating the Divine Mercy Sunday Mass the next morning, Pope Francis said the Gospel story of God's mercy "remains an open book" to which people can add good news by being heralds of the Gospel and engaging in works of mercy, "which are the hallmarks of the Christian life."

Just as the disciples were afraid but nevertheless set out as the risen Lord commanded, he said, many times Christians today experience "an interior struggle between a closed heart and the call of love to open doors closed by sin."

“Christ, who for love entered through doors barred by sin, death and the powers of hell, wants to enter into each one of us to break open the locked doors of our hearts,” the pope said. Where people are wounded, fearful and uncertain, Christians are called to reach out with Jesus' peace, mercy and healing power.

“In Christ, we are born to be instruments of reconciliation, to bring the Father’s forgiveness to everyone, to reveal his loving face through concrete gestures of mercy," Pope Francis said. “Truly, God's mercy is forever; it never ends, it never runs out, it never gives up when faced with closed doors, and it never tires.”


Divine Mercy Sunday Observances set for Bridgeport, Danbury
| April 02, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will dedicate a new shrine to the Divine Mercy on the grounds of St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport on Sunday, April 3, beginning at 2 pm.


All are invited to join the bishop and parishioners from around the diocese to dedicate this beautiful shrine, celebrate Mass and join in the singing of the Divine Mercy chaplet. A reception will follow.

The WCSU Newman Center in Danbury will celebrate The Feast of Divine Mercy with a Holy Hour set for Sunday, April 3, 3 to 4 pm at St. Peter’s Church, 104 Main Street, Danbury. The service will include Holy Hours, the Sung Chaplet, Confession in English, Spanish and Portuguese, and contemporary worship music provided by the Newman Center Worship Band. A reception will follow in the parish hall.

“This message of Divine Mercy tells each of us that God loves us with no regard to how great our sins. He wants us to realize that his mercy is so much greater than our sins and in this recognition we should call upon him with trust and receive his mercy and ultimately his joy. The devotion to the Divine Mercy challenges us to a total commitment to God as Mercy. We are called to trust him completely, to accept his mercy and be merciful as he is merciful,” said Bishop Caggiano.

On February 22, 1931, Jesus Christ appeared to Sister Faustina bringing a message of mercy for all of mankind.

In Jesus’ revelations to St. Faustina regarding Divine Mercy, He asked that a feast day be dedicated to the Divine Mercy and that this feast be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter. This feast, which was previously granted to Poland and celebrated within Vatican City, was granted to the Universal Church by Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the canonization of Sister Faustina on April 30, 2000.

In her diary that day Sister Faustina wrote of the original apparition: “In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing the other touching the garment at the breast. From the opening of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord; my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also great joy. After a while Jesus said to me, ‘Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust You.’ The pale ray stands for water which makes souls righteous; the red ray stands for the blood which is the life of souls.”

As the third child born to a family of ten children, Helen Kowalska struggled alongside her family for survival on their small farm during World War I in the small Polish village of Glogowiec. Having very little education but a tremendous devotion to the Lord, Helen became a religious Sister in the convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Kraków, Poland. Upon taking her veil she received the name Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska. (For more information, contact Janet Davis: 203.416.1636 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))

04/04/2016 UPDATE—Click here for photos from the Mass


Learning, Loving God, and Having Fun
| April 01, 2016


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NORWALK—All Saints Catholic principal Linda Dunn narrates this short video that celebrates the All Saints Pre-School K3 and Pre-School K4 program.


“Pre-School is a warm, nurturing environment where children are able to grow and develop in a Christian atmosphere that emphasizes our loving faith, respect and consideration for others,” she Mrs. Dunn.

The curriculum for the 4 year olds includes daily religion lessons that promote love of God, kindness and service to others. The Happily Ever After Reading Program introduces the students to listening, comprehension and writing skills, letter recognition, phonological recognition, language and vocabulary.

Math, science and social studies are also a part of the curriculum. Children take an active part in the lessons and are encouraged to use manipulatives to understand the concepts being taught.

Pre-K classes are scheduled weekly for art, computers, library, music, physical education and Spanish. The daily schedule also includes center time, snack, outdoor play, lunch and rest time.

All Saints Catholic School is located at 139 West Rocks Road in Norwalk. It welcomes families of all races and religions to participate in its programs. If you are interested in learning more about our programs and taking a tour, please call Denise Vuoso, Director of Admissions at 203-847-3881, or send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).



Watch this joyful video visit to All Saints Catholic School PreK

Lebanese saint’s holy relics arrive at Danbury church
| April 01, 2016 • by Danbury News Times


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DANBURY—Until a few days ago, Monette Wilder had never heard of St. Charbel Makhlouf, a Lebanese saint.

She learned about St. Charbel, the Hermit of Lebanon, from friends, who said his relics would be displayed at St. Anthony Maronite Catholic Church in Danbury on Thursday and Friday. On Thursday afternoon, she brought her four children to the church on Granville Avenue to pray for their sick family and friends.

“I have never been so close to a relic like this,” said Wilder, of Katonah, N.Y. “I like having my kids around me to experience it.


Sister Mary Margaret Kiwan prays in front of the relics of Saint Charbel Makhlouf at St. Anthony's Church (photo by H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media)

St. Matthew Knights of Columbus help CT Fisher House
| April 01, 2016


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Citrus Sale through Wilton Kiwanis Club raise $2500 to help with building costs

NORWALK—The Knights of Columbus Council 14360 that meets at St. Matthew Parish in Norwalk presented a check in the amount of $2,500 to Attorney Kevin Creed, representative of the Fisher House of CT.


Fisher House is a wonderful organization that provides housing for veterans and their families while the veteran is going through treatments at a VA hospital. There is little or no cost to the veterans using the Fisher houses, and a new facility is being planned for the VA hospital in West Haven This check will be used for the project.

The funds for this donation came from a partnership between the St. Matthew Knights and the Kiwanis club of Wilton in their annual citrus sale, a fund raiser that Kiwanis has been doing for 23 years. This is the first time the Knights have formed this partnership and are looking to make it an annual event for their charitable funds. "When Brother Bud Taylor, who is also a member of the Kiwanis Club in Wilton, brought this idea to me and the council, we all said when do we start and unanimously chose Fisher House CT to be the recipient. I want to thank Brother Bud for doing an awesome job coordinating this great fundraiser," said K of C Council 14360 Grand Knight George Ribellino, Jr.

On top of the $6200 raised at their annual St. Patrick’s Day dinner earlier in the month, K of C Council #14360 has raised over $12,000 this fraternal year to help charities such as Fisher House, Homes for the Brave, Malta House, Notre Dame Convalescent Home and the St. Matthew Parish Food Pantry.

The goal of the Knights of Columbus Council at St. Matthew’s is to perform acts of charity. They are dedicated to providing those in need with a range of support from financial to tactical help in dealing with a wide variety of challenges. Council members work together to foster the founding principles of our order; Charity, Unity, Fraternity & Patriotism. Our aim as a council is to continue to identify specific needs in our community and muster support and help to alleviate these challenges and hardships to the best of our abilities and resources. For more info, go to saintmatthewknights.com and fisherhousect.org.


PHOTO: (L-R) Knight and Veteran Joe Giandurco, Grand Knight George Ribellino, Jr. and Attorney Kevin Creed, representative of Fisher House of CT.

Art cheers patients
| March 30, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Art students at St. Augustine Academy were encouraged by their teacher, Ashley Vivenzio, to make Easter cards for the patients at St. Vincent’s Medical Center. Students in grades 4-7 participated in the project.


Easter cheer for St. Vincent’s patients:
Lucinda Ames, coordinator of Workplace Spirituality,
receives handmade cards from Ashley Vivenzio,
art teacher at St. Augustine Academy

It took each student an entire class period to make a card, so each one is a handmade work of art. “My goal was to help students learn how their artwork can positively impact their community,” says Vivenzio.

Principal Andrew Malionek had first explored the possibility of the project with Deacon Tim Bolton, supervisor of pastoral care. Once contact was established, Vivenzio worked with Lucinda Ames, Workplace Spirituality/Mission Services coordinator to determine the kind of art project that would best lift the spirits of St. Vincent’s patients at Eastertime.

After the cards were completed, Ames brought them to three different floors in St. Vincent’s, including the cancer unit. “They were adorable!” she says, “The kids at brightened the days of patients who had to be in the hospital over Easter.”

Ames hopes that the St. Augustine students will be able to do another project for St. Vincent’s patients in the near future.


Photo: Easter cheer for St. Vincent’s patients: Lucinda Ames, coordinator of Workplace Spirituality, receives handmade cards from Ashley Vivenzio, art teacher at St. Augustine Academy

Judge Daniel F. Caruso and Mr. Joseph M. Mattone to receive the first Saint Pio Award in Trumbull, CT, on April 16
| March 29, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—The Saint Pio Foundation is proud to present the first “Saint Pio Award Ceremony,” which will take place at Tashua Knolls Golf Club & Banquets, located at 40 Tashua Knolls Lane, Trumbull, CT, on Saturday, April 16, 2016, at 6:30 pm. A cocktail reception will be followed by the gala dinner.


The Saint Pio Award has been established to recognize the selfless and outstanding contribution to the Catholic Church of those individuals who have strongly committed to support the Saint Pio Foundation and its vision.
 
Recipients of the Saint Pio Awards will be Judge Daniel F. Caruso, Fairfield Probate District Court, CT and Mr. Joseph M. Mattone Sr., Chairman and CEO The Mattone Group. Special guests of the event will be The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, Fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, and the famous American singer and actor Franc d’Ambrosio, best known for his history-making portrayal of the "Phantom" in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award-winning musical, The Phantom of The Opera. Franc is perhaps most familiar to movie audiences around the world for creating the role of Anthony Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather III. In that performance, he sang the Academy Award-winning theme song, “Speak Softly Love” (Brucia la Terra) in both the film and on the original motion picture soundtrack.
 
The event will include a special performance by Franc d’Ambrosio. Ticket price starts at $250.00.
 
For information and reservations, please call 203.416.1471, send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or visit the website www.saintpiofoundation.org


Reconcile with God, resurrect hope in others, pope urges at Easter
| March 27, 2016 • by Cindy Wooden and Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service


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VATICAN CITY—Easter is a feast of hope, a celebration of God's mercy and a call to pray for and assist all who suffer, Pope Francis said before giving his solemn blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city and the world).


The risen Jesus "makes us sharers of his immortal life and enables us to see with his eyes of love and compassion those who hunger and thirst, strangers and prisoners, the marginalized and the outcast, the victims of oppression and violence," the pope said March 27 after celebrating Easter morning Mass.

Easter in Rome dawned bright and sunny; in St. Peter's Square, the steps leading up to the basilica were turned into an abundant garden with thousands of tulips, daffodils and flowering bushes.

On Easter morning, the pope does not give a homily. Instead, with hands clasped in prayer and head bowed, he led the tens of thousands of people in the square in silent reflection.

After Mass, before giving his solemn blessing, Pope Francis said Easter should give people the courage to "blaze trails of reconciliation with God and with all our brothers and sisters."

Speaking about Christ's power over death and sin, the pope prayed that the Lord would touch places in the globe scarred by war, terrorism, poverty and environmental destruction.

"The risen Christ points out paths of hope to beloved Syria, a country torn by a lengthy conflict, with its sad wake of destruction, death, contempt for humanitarian law and the breakdown of civil concord," the pope said. "To the power of the risen Lord we entrust the talks now in course."

He prayed that the power of the Resurrection would "overcome hardened hearts and promote a fruitful encounter of peoples and cultures," particularly in Iraq, Yemen, Libya and the Holy Land.

"May the Lord of life also accompany efforts to attain a definitive solution to the war in Ukraine, inspiring and sustaining initiatives of humanitarian aid, including the liberation of those who are detained," he prayed.

On Easter and throughout the Holy Week liturgies that preceded it, Pope Francis showed special concern for the fate of refugees and migrants fleeing violence and poverty and for Christians facing persecution in the Middle East and other parts of the world.

At Rome's Colosseum Good Friday, after presiding over the Stations of the Cross, the pope offered a long meditation on how Christ continues to be scorned, tortured and crucified in suffering people around the world.

"O Cross of Christ," he said March 25, "today too we see you raised up in our sisters and brothers killed, burned alive, throats slit and decapitated by barbarous blades amid cowardly silence."

"O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the faces of children, of women and people, worn out and fearful, who flee from war and violence and who often only find death and many Pilates who wash their hands," he said.

Two days later, celebrating the Resurrection, Pope Francis said the Easter message "invites us not to forget those men and women seeking a better future, an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees—including many children -- fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice. All too often, these brothers and sisters of ours meet along the way death or, in any event, rejection by those who could offer them welcome and assistance."

Celebrating the Easter vigil March 26, Pope Francis said Easter is a celebration of hope, one that must begin within the hearts of each Christian.

"Christ wants to come and take us by the hand to bring us out of our anguish," he said in his homily. "This is the first stone to be moved aside this night: the lack of hope which imprisons us within ourselves. May the Lord free us from this trap, from being Christians without hope, who live as if the Lord were not risen, as if our problems were the center of our lives.

"Today is the celebration of our hope, the celebration of this truth: nothing and no one will ever be able to separate us from his love," the pope said.

"The Lord is alive and wants to be sought among the living," Pope Francis said. "After having found him, each person is sent out by him to announce the Easter message, to awaken and resurrect hope in hearts burdened by sadness, in those who struggle to find meaning in life. This is so necessary today."

During the Easter vigil, Pope Francis baptized eight women and four men, including Yong-joon Lee, the South Korean ambassador to Italy, who took the baptismal name, Stephen. The ambassador's wife, taking the name Stella, was also baptized. The other catechumens came from Italy, Albania, Cameroon, India and China.

One by one, the catechumens approached the pope who asked them if they wished to receive baptism. After responding, "Yes, I do," they lowered their heads as the pope, using a silver shell, poured water over their foreheads.

Confirming the 12 during the vigil, the pope asked the cardinals, bishops and priests present to join him in raising their hands and praying over the newly-baptized so that God would send forth the Holy Spirit upon them.

At the beginning of the vigil, after blessing the Easter fire, Pope Francis entered a darkened basilica, gently illuminated by the light of the Easter candle.

In his homily, reflecting on the Easter account from the Gospel of St. Luke, the pope noted how the disciples doubted the testimony of the women returning from the empty tomb.

Peter, he said, was the first of the men to rise and run to the tomb, choosing not to "succumb to the somber atmosphere of those days, nor was he overwhelmed by his doubts."

"This marked the beginning of Peter's resurrection, the resurrection of his heart. Without giving in to sadness or darkness, he made room for hope; he allowed the light of God to enter into his heart, without smothering it," the pope said.

Like Peter and the women, he added, Christians cannot discover life by being "bereft of hope" and "imprisoned within ourselves" but, instead, must allow Christ to bring life and break open their tombs, sealed by "the stones of our rancor and the boulders of our past."

While problems will always remain, he said, Jesus' resurrection is a sure foundation of Christian hope and not "mere optimism, nor a psychological attitude or desire to be courageous."

The Holy Spirit "does not remove evil with a magic wand. But he pours into us the vitality of life, which is not the absence of problems, but the certainty of being loved and always forgiven by Christ, who for us has conquered sin, death and fear," he said.

Christians are called to awaken the same hope in the hearts of others, Pope Francis said. Without such witness the church risks becoming "an international organization full of followers and good rules, yet incapable of offering the hope for which the world longs."


Bishop Issues Pastoral Letter On the “Synod Journey of Faith”
| March 26, 2016


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Click to read the Pastoral Letter

BRIDGEPORT—(March 27, 2016) In this Pastoral Letter, released on the Solemnity of Easter, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano provides a summary of the vision and mission that arose from Synod 2014 as the diocese works to implement its initiatives in the coming months and years.


The Bishop tells us that the new initiatives underway in the diocese from strategic planning to the Diocesan Leadership Institute “remain rooted in, and return to, the vision of the Synod. Only in this way will they bear lasting, spiritual fruit.”

The Bishop writes that “the Synod journey of faith” provides the “roadmap for realizing the New Evangelization” in the diocese.

He also reflects in a more personal way on the “wonderful opportunity of grace “ that the Lord has provided the diocesan family that came together in the 18-month Synod journey.

“It is a great sign of hope that our Church remains faithful to our Lord. Despite the challenges we face, we can and will confidently and joyfully move forward,” writes the Bishop, who expresses his gratitude to all those who have participated in this journey of faith and the ongoing process of renewal in the Diocese of Bridgeport.


Walking With Jesus
| March 25, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Gray skies overhead lent a sober tone to the multi-parish Good Friday procession in Bridgeport’s East End.



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

A thousand or more filled the street in front of St. Mary Parish, preparing to walk the Stations of the Cross down East Main Street. They came not only from the four parishes along the procession route but from throughout the city and from the neighboring towns of Stratford, Trumbull and Fairfield. With devotions in five languages—English, Spanish, Polish, Haitian Creole and Portuguese—the procession gave life to the rich diversity of the family of faith in Fairfield County.

“It’s beautiful to be representing part of what happened to Jesus,” said Kairyn Jimenez, who goes to Stratford High School and portrayed one of the women Jesus would meet at the third Station. “For me, it’s that Jesus died for us,” agrees young Christopher Monge, a member of St. Charles Parish and certainly one of the youngest guards in the procession. “We do this for the great love Jesus has for us,” summed up St. Mary’s Lydia Orozco, who stood with other women at the procession’s First Station, “Jesus is condemned to death.”

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano began the procession with the Act of Contrition in English, which was then taken up in each of the other languages. As the procession began, the songs and devotions drew neighbors along the route, who came out of doors, watched through windows and leaned over porches and came into their front yards, some of them joining in the prayers and hymns as the procession passed. Along busy East Main Street, closed to traffic for the procession, people came out of shops, delis, bakeries and restaurants, joining briefly or taking photos and videos.

East Main Street, which has welcomed generations of Irish, Polish, Hungarian and Italian immigrants over the decades, now rang with vigorous hymns representing its most recent communities as each in turn expressed their devotion to the crucified Lord.

The last three Stations of the Cross took place on the grounds of Our Lady of Fatima Portuguese parish. After hymns and prayers in Portuguese, Bishop Caggiano concluded with a prayer to Jesus Christ Crucified. But just as 2,000 years ago the crucifixion did not end with the death of Jesus, so, too, this day ended with a triumphant “Fifteenth Station”—the Resurrection of Jesus and his triumph over sin and death.

Just as this Good Friday procession reenacted the Passion and Death of Jesus, the faithful ended the observance with the sure and certain knowledge of the glory of Easter Sunday soon to come.


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

Pope to refugees: Despite differences, all people are God's children
| March 24, 2016 • by By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service


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ROME—In a moving gesture of brotherhood and peace, Pope Francis washed the feet of several refugees, including Muslims, Hindus and Copts.


Gestures, like Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, "speak louder than words," he said during the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper March 24.

Coming together, he added, is another gesture meant to show a desire to live in peace as brothers and sisters despite people's different cultural and religious backgrounds.

Hundreds of refugees were outside hoping to catch a glimpse of the pope as he made his way into the courtyard of the Center for Asylum Seekers at Castelnuovo di Porto, about 15 miles north of Rome.

Prior to his arrival, the pope sent some Easter presents for the center's guests: 200 chocolate Easter eggs, a wooden chess board, and several autographed soccer balls and baseballs.

After getting out of a blue four-door vehicle, the pope was greeted by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the main organizer of the Vatican's Year of Mercy initiatives, as well as the directors of the refugee center.

He was also introduced to three residents who would serve as his interpreters: Ibrahim from Afghanistan, Boro from Mali and Segen from Eritrea. One of the refugees handed the pope a marker, which the pontiff used to sign a banner depicting the flags of 26 nations, representing the countries of origin of the center's guests.

In his brief, off-the-cuff homily, the pope said there were two distinct gestures in the day's Gospel: Jesus serving and washing the feet of his disciples and Judas receiving money by Jesus' enemies to betray him.

"Today as well, there are two gestures. All of us here, (coming) together -- Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Copts, Evangelicals -- but (being) brothers, sons of the same God who want to live in peace," he said.

However, recalling the recent terrorist attack in Brussels, the pope said there was a second gesture made by those want war. Like Judas, he said, behind those who committed the attacks there are "arms traffickers who want blood, not peace."

"In this moment, when I do Jesus' same gesture -- to wash the feet of you 12 -- all of us are making this gesture of brotherhood. And all of us can say: We are diverse, we are different, we have different religions and cultures, but we are brothers and we want to live in peace," he said.

Acknowledging the suffering endured by the refugees, Pope Francis asked them to pray in "their own religious language" so that there may "always be brotherhood and goodness."

After his homily, the pope removed his vestments and put on a large white garment tied over his alb. He kneeled before each of the 12 people, washed each person's foot slowly and dried it.

The refugees barely contained their emotions, tears streaming down their faces as the pope bent low and kissed their feet. A young mother wiped her tears as the pope gazed at her and reached out to touch her baby.

The evening Mass was the second of two Holy Thursday liturgies for Pope Francis; the first was a morning chrism Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

Before going around and greeting each of the center's residents individually, Pope Francis asked them to remember the beauty of living together as brothers and sisters despite their different cultures, religions and traditions.

This beauty, he said, "has a name: peace and love."


Bishop Caggiano offers a Prayer to prepare for Holy Thursday
| March 24, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—On this Holy Thursday, as we contemplate the divine gift of the Eucharist, Christ’s Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, offered as food for our life’s journey towards heaven, let us meditate on the words of the hymn O Sacrament Most Holy:


  1. O Jesus, we adore you, Who, in your love divine, Conceal your mighty Godhead In forms of bread and wine. (Refrain): O sacrament most holy, O sacrament divine, All praise and all thanksgiving Be ev'ry moment thine!
  2. O Jesus, we adore you, our victim and our priest, Whose precious Blood and Body become our Sacred Feast. (Ref.)
  3. O Jesus, we adore you, Our Savior and our King, And with the saints and angels, our humble homage bring. (Ref.)
  4. O Jesus, we adore you; Come, live in us we pray, That all our thoughts and actions be yours alone today. (Ref.)
  5. O come, all you who labor In sorrow and in pain, Come, eat this bread from heaven; Your peace and strength regain. (Ref.)


Bishop urges priests to be true brothers in Christ
| March 23, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—“If we are not brothers to one another, we cannot be fathers to anyone else,” the Bishop said in his homily to priests throughout the diocese who attended the Chrism Mass held at St. Augustine Cathedral this afternoon.


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

More than 250 priests and deacons joined by religious and laity filled the cathedral for the annual Chrism Mass in which priests renew their priestly promise, and the holy oils used throughout the year are consecrated and blessed.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano told his brother priests they “have been given a great privilege to be called father,“ and of serving as the “spiritual father” of their people.

During the service, the Bishop blesses the Oil of the Catechumens, the Oil of the Infirm and the Holy Chrism (a mixture of olive oil and balsam used in ordinations and confirmation).

Describing the Holy Oils as “vehicles of God’s mercy in our midst,” the bishop said they would be used in “initiation and ordination, and to console the sick” in the coming year.

Standing before his priests in the center aisle, the bishop said that the “Lord asks much of us—to give our lives and to give generously.”

He said that at ordination priests receive the ability to “break open the word of God in Church” through preaching and administering the sacraments.

Noting that one important role of the priest is to “foster community” the bishop exhorted his priests to deepen their relationships with one another,

Pointing to the cross shrouded in purple above the main altar, the bishop said, “True leadership looks to the Cross--our lives poured out for the life of another. As priests we must always protect life and order in the Church.”

The bishop told priests that temptation is real and that evil lurks “even when we try to do God’s work.” He said that priests and all believers must overcome the temptation” to put ourselves first and to foster our own will, rather than God’s. “

After the homily the bishop led the priests through the renewal of their priestly promises.

“Are you resolved to renew in the presence of God’s holy people, the promise you once made? Are you resolved to be more united with the Lord Jesus and more closely conformed to him? Are you resolved to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God’s Eucharist,” he asked them.

To each of these questions the priests answered, “I am “ in unison. The bishop then asked the laity to pray for the priests and to pray for him.

Fr. Francisco Gomez-Franco, Pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Bridgeport, and Deacon Patrick Toole of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Nichols served as Masters of Ceremonies for the Mass.

Thomas J. Marino, Director of Music Ministries of St. Aloysius Church in New Canaan, led the Diocesan Synod Choir in the music. Marjorie Donolds served as soloist.

Seminarians from the diocese acted as altar servers for the 90-minute liturgy. Reading were delivered by Maureen Ciardiello, Director of the Respect Life Office, and Jackie Herbert of Fairfield, a member of the Liturgical Commission.

In his final blessing of the oils, the bishop prayed, “We beseech you, Almighty God, that those You renew by your Sacraments may merit to become the pleasing fragrance of Christ.”

After Mass, the holy oils that were consecrated on the altar were distributed to priests who will use them in their parishes when blessing the sick and in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

Click to read Chrism Mass Homily of Pope Francis


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


Listen to the Bishop’s Chrism Mass Homily

Record breaking!
| March 23, 2016


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NEW CANAAN—Students and parents from St. Aloysius School in New Canaan came out in force to run a food drive for the benefit of Catholic Charities’ New Covenant Center during the weekend of March 12-13.



Due to the incredible efforts spanned over 10 hours at Acme Supermarket, Walter Stewart’s and Mrs. Green’s, the entire St. Aloysius team collected 4,000 food items and $625 to help feed almost a thousand people who live below the Connecticut State Poverty line.  

OVER FOUR THOUSAND!

First Selectman Rob Mallozzi stopped by the Walter Stewart’s station to show his support (see photo).

Then on the following Monday afternoon, about 30 students and several parents came to New Covenant Center to unload, unpack, re-organize, and stock the collected items in bins and on the pantry shelves.

It was the single most successful food drive ever for New Covenant Center.

Catholic Charities and New Covenant Center are extremely grateful to the St. Aloysius School community and the residents of New Canaan for their extraordinary generosity. Thank you!


Bishop to celebrate Chrism Mass today at 3 pm
| March 23, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will celebrate the Chrism Mass today (March 23) 3 pm at St. Augustine Cathedral in downtown Bridgeport. All are invited to attend.


More than 300 priests and deacons will process into the cathedral for the yearly Chrism Mass in which priests renew their priestly promises and the Bishop blesses the sacramental oils that are used throughout the year in parishes.

The Chrism Mass traditionally manifests the unity of priests with their bishops and includes a homily in which the Bishop directly addresses his brother priests in attendance.

During the service, the Bishop blesses the Oil of the Catechumens, the Oil of the Infirm and the Holy Chrism (a mixture of olive oil and balsam used in ordinations and confirmation).

After Mass, the holy oils that were consecrated on the altar were distributed to priests who will use them in their parishes when blessing the sick and in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

Chrism Masses are traditionally celebrated during Holy Week or on the morning of Holy Thursday. It is a beautiful liturgy that celebrates the communion of the Church.


Days from Palm Sunday to Easter ‘draw upon 2,000 years of tradition’
| March 22, 2016 • by By FRANCIS CARR Jr., Hour Staff Writer


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NORWALK—For Norwalker Denise Zako, the highly choreographed rituals of Palm Sunday help to humanize her religion.


Jerry Meehan lays out palms at the Palm Sunday service at St. Phillip Church in Norwalk. (Photo by Matthew Vinci)

During the Palm Sunday service, Catholics re-enact Jesus’s final visit to Jerusalem, when, according to tradition, his followers showered him with palm fronds as he entered the city riding a mule.

The ceremony, also known as Passion Sunday, includes an account of Christ’s condemnation to death and subsequent execution, during which he cries, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

In this plea, “Towards the end, even though he is the son of God, he became more human-like,” Zako said Sunday after attending a noon service at St. Philip Church with husband, Matt.

A crucial event for Catholics, each Palm Sunday service requires weeks of planning and preparation, according to St. Philip Pastor Michael Boccaccio.

“Obviously, it’s a very solemn way to begin Holy Week,” said Boccaccio after Sunday’s Mass, which he performed. “It incorporates people in many ways.”

As one of the oldest Christian holy days, it can be challenging to capture in an hourlong ceremony the breadth of what Palm Sunday represents, Boccaccio said.

The days from Palm Sunday to Easter are “not just the Catholic Church’s, but the Christian Church’s oldest liturgies ... drawing on roughly 2,000 years of tradition,” Boccaccio told The Hour. “Therefore, capturing the originality and the sanctity of them require a lot of work.”

In a typical Palm Sunday Mass, each parishioner entering the church is handed a palm frond to be blessed with holy water during the service. (These same fronds are then collected and burned to make ashes for Ash Wednesday.)

The Mass itself involves a call-and-response reenactment of the Passion, wherein the parishioners play the role of the crowd condemning Jesus to die. Participants then file out of the church in silence.

A rehearsal involving more than 30 people was held last weekend to ensure Sunday's service would go smoothly, Boccaccio said.

Greeters, ushers, choir members, artists, cantors and scripture readers convened to practice their roles—distributing palms, playing music at the proper time, decorating the altar, even managing traffic patterns outside the church.

“Basically, the rehearsal was getting everything set up, from greeting people to leaving in silence,” Boccaccio told The Hour. “It’s very intense, in the good sense of the word.”

“If you don't do liturgy well, then don't do it,” Boccaccio added.

In Catholicism, Palm Sunday marks the beginning of a series of important dates known as Holy Week: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday will all take place in the coming week.


“In a way, it’s anticipating (Easter) next Sunday, when Jesus comes out of the tomb,” Boccaccio told The Hour.

For Boccaccio, the act of imitating the mob that condemned Christ to die contains a model of behavior Catholics should avoid.

“No matter which (account of Christ’s condemnation) we read, all of them indicate that Jesus was denied and abandoned,” Boccaccio explained. “The invitation I give to myself and the people gathered in prayer is to spiritually do just the opposite.”

“As part of our Holy Week prayer services, let us say to Jesus ‘I will stay with you and I will not deny you,’” Boccaccio told the congregation during the service. “That’s personally very important to me, to assure the lord that while others abandoned him, we would not.”

A unique element in ceremonies at St. Philip is the contribution of art from members of the St. Philip Artist Guild. On Sunday, a hand-painted banner depicting a crown of thorns hung behind the altar. Display boxes lined in Palm Sunday's traditional red contained creative palm frond arrangements.

“(The artists’) input into the design of the church is just phenomenal, and it reflects what we’re celebrating,” Boccaccio said.

“Preparing all this requires weeks and weeks and weeks,” Bocaccio added. “No person could ever do it alone, and I’m fortunate to have such creative talent around.”


Working on a Communications Plan
| March 22, 2016


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FAIRFIELD—Patrick Turner, Director of Strategic and Pastoral Planning for the Diocese of Bridgeport, and Sue Stone of Stamford, a member of the diocesan Strategic Plan Commission, try out the anchor desk at Sacred Heart University studios in the new School of Communication and Media Arts in the new $50 million Frank and Marisa Martire building at the university.


As part of its overall Strategic Planning process, the diocese has created a Communications sub-committee to explore internal and external communications that support Synod goals of empowering the young church, build up communities of faith, foster evangelical outreach and promote works of charity and justice in Fairfield County. Otis Shelton of New Fairfield is chairing the communications subcommittee with Sue Stone. Dr. James Castonguay, Director of the School of Communication & Media Art at SHU, led a tour of the new facility after the meeting. The sub-committee is meeting to create an overall framework that improves communications with parishes and diocesan institutions.


The Kennedy Center Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting to feature Bishop Frank J. Caggiano
| March 22, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Celebrating 65 Years Strong, The Kennedy Center Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting is set for Thursday, April 7 at the Holiday Inn, 1070 Main Street, Bridgeport.


The social hour will begin at 6 pm, followed by the dinner, annual meeting, and awards at 7 pm This year’s theme is “I Am The Kennedy Center.”

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will deliver the keynote address.

The Awards presentation will include the following community and employer recipients: Competitive Employer Award—The Green Team/Greater Bridgeport Community Enterprises, Inc.; Media Award—Fairfield County Business Journal/division of Westfair Communications, Inc.; and Community Service Award—Sacred Heart University. Consumer awards will be announced at the Annual Meeting.

Generous sponsors are: Community sponsor—DDN Consulting Services, LLC from Hamden; and Stakeholder Sponsors—Collins Medical Equipment from Fairfield, Pullman & Comley, LLC from Bridgeport and Whittlesey & Hadley, PC/The Technology Group, LLC from Hartford.

The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano was installed as Fifth Bishop of Bridgeport on September 19, 2013 at St. Theresa Church in Trumbull. In his installation homily, he spoke of the needs to build bridges to youth, to all those who are troubled, who are neglected and to Catholics who no longer participate in the life of the Church.

Area residents serving on the Annual Meeting committee include:

Fairfield residents Pietro Andres and Joan Fleitas; Bridgeport residents Mary Brown  and Teri Brown; Trumbull residents Joe Dennin, Randye Kaye, David Kmetz and Martin D. Schwartz;  Jo Ann McMullan of Westport; Dan Long of Cheshire; and Rachelle Mitchell of Milford.

The Kennedy Center, founded in 1951, is an internationally accredited, non-profit, community-based rehabilitation organization that currently serves 2,400 individuals annually. The agency actively responds to the needs of the community by offering innovative, comprehensive service options to persons with disabilities and special needs, from birth to senior years. The Kennedy Center operates 30 community experience programs, 16 group homes, an industries program composed of six businesses, supported and competitive employment and job placement services, a family support and respite service, travel training, and a variety of children’s programs.   

Tickets for the Annual Awards Dinner are $50 per person. Register online at www.thekennedycenterinc.org or call 203.365.8522, ext. 213. 


Bishop Caggiano Reflects on the Beginning of Holy Week
| March 21, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Today we commemorate the Lord’s triumphal entry into the City of David. It signals the beginning of Holy Week—a week we call holy precisely because we recall the great events of our salvation in the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection.


It is a week that we are asked to keep holy by our prayer, reflection and participation in the services of the Easter Triduum.

The distribution of palms is an ancient custom in the Church that gives us an important spiritual lesson to reflect upon the rest of the week’s salvific events. For in the time of Jesus, the spreading of palms and cloaks at the feet of a dignitary was most often reserved for Cesar, the Emperor of Rome and his dignitaries. It was a sign of the reverence and respect that they demanded from their subjects. It was also a sign of a person’s subjugation to the Emperor’s rule, for it was a rule that was marked with brutal violence, suppression and torture. As such, it was a gesture that was designed to invoke images of power, military might and conquest.

The people who greeted Jesus this day in Jerusalem afforded him this same privilege, in a vain attempt to make Jesus their conqueror and king. However, Jesus did not accept the privilege as they offered it. Rather, he transformed it into an occasion to reveal a far greater power than any military might or emperor of this world could ever wield. He entered the City of David as the true King who brought with him the power of divine, self-sacrificing love. Such love would see Jesus sit not on a throne of gold but on the throne of the Cross. It is this same love that on Easter morning revealed His divine Kingship and gained for His believers a Kingdom of everlasting glory and life.

On Palm Sunday, we are invited to walk with our King and experience the power of His love. We are asked to join Him in the Upper Room, walk with Him to Calvary and encounter in awe His empty Tomb. This is the week of Love’s eternal and enduring victory over sin, death, cynicism, loneliness, hurt and betrayal. It is a week that invites the heart of every man, woman and child to encounter how wildly God loves us we and how desperately our neighbors and friends need to feel God’s love through you and me.

It is the only journey that matters. It is the journey of Holy Week. Are you and I ready to begin?


Workshop moves Strategic Planning process forward
| March 21, 2016


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NEW FAIRFIELD—More than 100 representatives from parishes throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport attended the “Pastoral Planning 101 Workshop” on Saturday at St. Edward the Confessor Parish in New Fairfield.

Click to view photos


It was the second workshop this month to outline the parish pastoral planning process and help parishes create a “roadmap to the future,” as they explore the challenges and opportunities ahead.

“We’ve educated about 400 task force members between the two sessions, and helped them understand the process for reviewing their parish sacramental and financial data, for responding to the parish self-assessment questionnaire, and identifying their parish pastoral priorities,” said Patrick Turner, Director of Strategic and Pastoral Planning

“The feedback and participation was engaging, and the taskforce members are so involved and excited about this process, that we’re really looking forward to continuing to work with them,” Turner said.

Pastors have formed the task forces, which can include parish trustees, members of the finance and parish councils and other parishioners who are committed to the process of renewal.

As part of the process each parish has been sent a resource manual that offers a “snapshot” of the parishes based on sacrament, financial and social data in order to analyze the trends.

“We're asking the parishes to look at every aspect of their operation and to plan—to plan better, to plan for a bright and optimistic future,” said Fr. Michael Dogali, Episcopal Vicar for Strategic Planning.
 
Task forces will review the data in a “state of the parish” meeting in order to respond to a self-assessment and planning questionnaire identifying strengths and challenges.
 
"The bishop has asked parishes to set long-term goals that go at least two years into the future, and he wants pastoral planning to be a part of every parish,” Fr. Dogali told taskforce members.
 
Patrick Turner said that the two workshops have given parishes the tools to move the strategic planning process forward and began to create a long-term plan.
 
“People are beginning to really have an understanding about what makes a vibrant parish and how do we create that within our own faith communities."  
 
The Strategic Planning initiative was overwhelming endorsed by delegates to the recently completed Synod 2014.


Regina Pacis students hold “Baby Shower” for Birthright Moms
| March 21, 2016


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NORWALK—“The children shared this beautiful lenten almsgiving as one big family in Christ. It started as a simple idea and than became a beautiful fundraiser that everyone got involved,” said Karla Martinez, whose five children attend Regina Pacis Academy in Norwalk.



“The children got together to organize a babyshower for Birthright of Norwalk, because they know very well what birthright does for babies and for those mothers in need of guidance or help with just diapers or clothing for their newborns,” she added. The baby shower was held on Thursday, March 17 at the school gym, a representative from birthright came over to gather all the donations the kids brought. The entire school participated and the kids gather from diapers, baby clothes to maternity clothes for those mothers in need. Regina Pacis Academy is located at 8 Leonard Street on the grounds of St. Mary Parish in Norwalk. For information call 203.642.4501.


Bishop visits St. Joseph High School to celebrate Feast of St. Joseph
| March 18, 2016


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TRUMBULL— Bishop Frank J. Caggiano visited St. Joseph High School in Trumbull Friday to celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph and to encourage students who also dedicated a day of service in honor of St. Joseph.


The student body filled the gymnasium for a morning Mass that included more than 300 grandparents who visited the school as part of Grandparents Day.

The bishop told the students that St. Joseph is venerated for his obedience, and that by trusting in God, he was given the “two greatest gifts” in human history, the Blessed Virgin Mary and her son, Jesus.

“When you are tempted to say no, or to do it your way, not "their way," remember Joseph. Remember what he teaches you and I- if we trust the ones we love, we will not be giving up anything, but we will gain far more than we can ever imagine,” the bishop said. .

During the service, the bishop confirmed a student and also blessed student Eucharistic Ministers.

It was a day of festivities throughout the high school with students involved in a variety or projects including assembling Easter baskets for the poor.

In his remarks to students, Dr. James Keane, St. Joseph High School Principal, thanked Bishop Caggiano and the students grandparents for visiting the school. He also reminded students of the importance of the Catholic identity of St. Joseph’s.

“A great deal happens at St Joseph’s. This is a dynamic community characterized by near-constant activity. However, the most important thing we do, that which calls us into being, is that we are a Roman Catholic, Mission-centered, academic community of faith.

“More than our academic and athletic triumphs, and I assure you that they are many...our Catholic values, the quality of our theological reflection, the caliber of our Christian service, and the vibrancy of our Campus Ministry Program are what define us. It is why we have created this day as a celebration of The Feast of St Joseph and as a statement of our Catholic identity,” Dr. Keane said.

Following Mass bishop dedicated the Project Rachael Chapel on the school grounds.

Saint Joseph's Day, March 19, is the principal feast day of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He is the foster-father of Jesus Christ. Joseph is the patron saint of workers and has several feast days. He was also declared to be the patron saint and protector of the Catholic Church by Pope Pius IX in 1870, and is the patron of several countries and regions.

St. Joseph High School is located at 2320 Huntington Turnpike
Trumbull, CT 06611
For more information visit the web: www.sjcadets.org


It was a great, great day!
| March 18, 2016


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View parade photos

BRIDGEPORT— It was a great day for the City of Bridgeport and students from diocesan Catholic schools who “put on the green” and marched in the noontime parade through the streets of the downtown.


Students from Catholic Academy of Bridgeport were joined by marchers from Catholic schools in Stratford, Trumbull and Fairfield, and Catholic high schools throughout the diocese.

Kathleen Casey, Associated Superintendent of School, waved to the crowd along the parade route from a Triumph sports car, while Fr. Peter Lynch, pastor of St. Ann Parish in Black Rock, watched the parade with many of his parishioners and students from the St. Ann campus of Catholic Academy.

Catholic school Students from Catholic Schools in Bridgeport and surrounding towns turned out for

The day began with the traditional 8 am St. Patrick's Day Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at St. Augustine Cathedral.

In his homily, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano told the gathering that the Irish Church historically sent missionaries to every corner of the world and that the Catholic Church was blessed by their "call to mission."

The Mass commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, which led to Irish independence and the eventual formation of the Irish Republic.



Alanna Cavanagh Kabel served as Grand Marshall of this year's festivities, while Fred Cotter served as Chairman and Patricia McDonnell as Chairwoman of the 34th annual event.




St. Patrick's Day Mass
| March 18, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT— More than 300 men and women turned out for the St. Patrick's Day Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral in downtown Bridgeport this morning.


In his homily, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano told the gathering that the Irish Church historically sent missionaries to every corner of the world and that the Catholic Church was blessed by their "call to mission."

The Bishop discussed his own visits to Ireland including his preaching at the Youth 2000 Summer Festival in Tipperary, where he was impressed by the faith of many Irish youth. He said their faith has deep roots in the Irish missionary spirit that helped to bring Christ to the world.

Fr. John Ringley, pastor of the Cathedral Parish, and Fr. Peter Lynch, Pastor of St. Ann Church, concelebrated the Mass with Bishop Caggiano.

The Mass commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, which led to Irish independence and the eventual formation of the Irish Republic.

Alanna Cavanagh Kabel is serving as Grand Marshall of this year's festivities, while Fred Cotter is serving as Chairman and Patricia McDonnell as Chairwoman of the annual event.

Scriptural readings were delivered by Samantha Mitchell, 2016 Miss Shamrock, and Adrian Coyle, 2016 Mr. Shamrock.

The Lauralton Hall Choir sang "Our Lady of Knock" as the Communion Hymn, "Hail Mary Gentle Woman," and "St. Patrick's Breastplate" for the recessional.

The St. Patrick's Day Parade, which will feature student marchers from Bridgeport Catholic schools, will begin at Noon from Harbor Yard.




USCCB President Urges Support for Petition to Stop Christian Genocide
| March 16, 2016


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WASHINGTON—The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, issued an urgent call, March 15, to support a petition to stop genocide in the Middle East and convince the U.S. Department of State to include Christians in any formal  declaration of genocide.


The call to action was issued days before the U.S. Department of State is expected to make a decision on the issue, and as a congressional resolution gains support in Congress.

“For months, the Catholic Church has been a voice for Christians and other  religious minorities facing the evil of deadly persecution,” Archbishop Kurtz  said. “Please, make sure your name is added to the witness. The very future  of the ancient Christian presence in the Middle East is at stake.”

The petition is available at: www.stopthechristiangenocide.org.

Archbishop Kurtz’ full statement follows:


Join me in the Pledge to Stop Christian Genocide

A Statement from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Today, the people of God must speak up for our brothers and sisters facing genocide in the Middle East. I urge every Catholic to sign the petition at www.stopthechristiangenocide.org. As a people of faith, we must convince the United States Department of State to include Christians in any formal  declaration of genocide.

For months, the Catholic Church has been a voice for Christians and other  religious minorities facing the evil of deadly persecution. Now, the State Department is expected to make a decision within days. A resolution, H. Con. Res. 75, is also gaining bipartisan support in Congress. Please, make sure  your name is added to the witness. The very future of the ancient Christian presence in the Middle East is at stake.

I am grateful to my brother bishops, the Knights of Columbus and all the faithful who have struggled to keep a focus on suffering Christians in the national debate. Rest assured of my continued prayers and support.

With each passing day, the roll of modem martyrs grows. While we rejoice in their ultimate victory over death through the power of Jesus’ love, we must also help our fellow Christians carry the Cross of persecution and, as much as possible, help relieve their suffering. By doing so, the Middle East and the world will be made safer for people of every faith to live in peace.


Global knowledge at Geography Bee
| March 16, 2016


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DANBURY—The Knights of Columbus McGivney Council #29 in Danbury held its Sixth Annual Regional Catholic Geography Bee on March 12, with 26 students in grades 5 through 8 representing ten schools (Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton, St. Mary in Ridgefield, St. Joseph in Danbury, St. Peter in Danbury, St. Gregory the Great in Danbury, St. Mary in Bethel, St. Joseph in Brookfield, St. Rose of Lima in Newtown, Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich, and Greenwich Catholic School) grappling with 112 questions about world, North American and regional geography.


Zachary Meyerson, in Grade 7 at St. Gregory the Great School in Danbury, won the bee in a tie-breaker by identifying eight as the number of Canadian provinces and territories that border the United States, after advancing through eight rounds based on his knowledge ranging from Chesapeake Bay to Nevada to Vancouver to Mongolia. Marcel Melendez, in Grade 7 at Greenwich Catholic School, placed second by applying his knowledge ranging from Ohio to Germany to the Mediterranean coast of Africa. Avery Simoneau, in Grade 7 at St. Mary School in Ridgefield, took third place using her knowledge of Boston, Seattle, Haiti and Japan.

The three are shown here with Bee officials Thomas Burns and Nanci Stockmann.
Each won awards from the Knights and from Immaculate High School, which was represented on the judges panel by Thomas Burns, director of admissions (and member of  K of C Council #29), and Nanci Stockmann from the Social Studies faculty.

(Thanks to Mike Farkas, the Knights’ photographer for this event, we have 76 pictures from the Bee at Shutterfly.com, “share site,” album “KOFC McGivney Council 29.”)


Ministry Fair at Our Lady Star of the Sea Draws a Crowd
| March 15, 2016


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STAMFORD—The Lord blessed us with a beautiful weekend for our first Ministry Fair and also a spectacular turnout! Parishioners came together after each Mass the weekend of March 5th/6th to highlight all the good already being done and to learn about new ministry opportunities.


(Photo by Ryan Day)

In response to the Synod, Our Lady Star of the Sea invited the entire parish last June to dialogue about the needs of the community and how to meet those needs.

Then, a survey was conducted in the fall with all the findings organized into 7 distinct ministry areas including Evangelization, Liturgy and Music, Spirituality, Outreach, Fellowship, Youth, and Senior Activities. Each ministry is excited about embarking on this faith-filled journey in a collaborative effort to serve others and bear fruit all in thanksgiving to God.

Everyone’s prayerful reflections on their gifts made this event of learning more about ministry possibilities and sharing good conversation and food with their OLSS family a fun-filled event. Many thanks to all for their generous contributions of self!


Mother Teresa to be canonized September 4; pope sets other sainthood dates
| March 15, 2016 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


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VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis will declare Blessed Teresa of Kolkata a saint at the Vatican September 4.


A poster of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata and Missionaries of Charity
are seen in Kolkata, India, in this September 5, 2007, file photo.
Pope Francis will declare her a saint at the Vatican September 4,
the conclusion of the Year of Mercy jubilee for those engaged
in works of mercy.                (CNS photo/Jayanta Shaw, Reuters)

The date was announced March 15 during an "ordinary public consistory," a meeting of the pope, cardinals and promoters of sainthood causes that formally ends the sainthood process.

At the same consistory, the pope set June 5 as the date for the canonizations of Blessed Stanislaus Papczynski of Poland, founder of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, and Blessed Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad of Sweden, who re-founded the Bridgettine sisters.

In addition, Pope Francis declared that October 16 he would celebrate Mass for the canonizations of Argentina's “gaucho priest,” Blessed Jose Brochero, and Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio, a 14-year-old Mexican boy martyred for refusing to renounce his faith during the Cristero War of the 1920s.

Setting the dates concludes a long process of studying the lives and writings of the sainthood candidates:

—Mother Teresa was widely known as a living saint as she ministered to the sick and the dying in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the world. Although some people criticized her for not also challenging the injustices that kept so many people so poor and abandoned, her simple service touched the hearts of millions of people of all faiths.

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

Shortly after she died in 1997, St. John Paul II waived the usual five-year waiting period and allowed the opening of the process to declare her sainthood. She was beatified in 2003.

After her beatification, Missionary of Charity Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, the postulator of her sainthood cause, published a book of her letters, "Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light." The letters illustrated how, for decades, she experienced what is described as a "dark night of the soul" in Christian spirituality; she felt that God had abandoned her. While the letters shocked some people, others saw them as proof of her steadfast faith in God, which was not based on feelings or signs that he was with her.

The date chosen for her canonization is the eve of the 19th anniversary of her death and the date previously established at the Vatican for the conclusion of the Year of Mercy pilgrimage of people like her who are engaged in works of mercy.

—Blessed Papczynski founded the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception in Poland in the 17th century. Today the Marians are special promoters of the Divine Mercy devotion of St. Faustina Kowalska.

Born in 1631, he was ordained as a Piarist priest, but left the order after 10 years. His new congregation was established officially in 1679 and he died in 1701. He was beatified in Poland in 2007.

—Blessed Hesselblad was born in Faglavik, Sweden, in 1870 and went to the United States at the age of 18 in search of work to help support her family. She studied nursing in New York and, impressed by the faith of the Catholics she cared for, began the process of entering the Catholic Church. Coming from a Lutheran family, she was conditionally baptized by a Jesuit priest in Washington, D.C. On a pilgrimage to Rome, she visited the home of the 14th-century St. Brigid of Sweden and was welcomed by the Carmelite sisters who were then living there.

She received permission from the pope to make religious vows under the rule of St. Brigid and re-found the Bridgettine order that had died out in Sweden after the Protestant Reformation. She was beatified in 2000.

—Blessed Brochero, the "gaucho priest," was born in Argentina in 1840 and died in 1914. Ordained for the Archdiocese of Cordoba, he spent years traveling far and wide by mule to reach his flock. Pope Francis, in a message in 2013 for the priest's beatification—a ceremony scheduled before the Argentine pope was elected—said Father Brochero truly had "the smell of his sheep."

He gained particular fame for his work caring for the sick and dying during a cholera epidemic in 1867. With his own hands, he built churches and chapels and opened paths through the western mountains of Cordoba province. During his travels, he contracted Hansen's disease, more commonly known as leprosy; many people believe he was infected by sharing a cup of mate, an herbal tea, with someone who already had the disease.

—Blessed Sanchez was martyred in Mexico in 1928, just weeks before his 15th birthday. In 1926 Mexican President Plutarco Elias Calles had introduced tough anti-clerical laws and confiscated church property across the country. Some 90,000 people were killed in the ensuing Cristero war before the government and church reached an accord in 1929.

Young Sanchez wanted to fight in the war alongside his brothers, but he was too young. Eventually, he was allowed to be the flag bearer of a unit. During an intense battle, he was captured by government troops, who ordered him to renounce his faith. He refused, even when tortured. The boy was executed about two weeks later. He was beatified in 2005.


Local and Global Educational Issues Converge
| March 13, 2016


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FAIRFIELD—Global and local challenges converge around issues of education and poverty, speakers at the 8th Annual Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice (CAPP) Educators; Communion Breakfast said this morning at Sacred Heart University.


Jim Ziolkowski, founder of BuildOn, an international non-profit organization, said that “the children of Burkina Faso in West Africa and the children of Bridgeport face the same challenges” of poverty and inequality .

Mr. Ziolkowski was presented the CAPP “Educator of the Year” Aware for his efforts in building schools and supporting poor students throughout the globe.

“What needs to change in our churches and our schools?” asked Ziolkowski , whose BuildOn programs have transformed the lives of inner city American youth along with young people in the developing world.

He said his efforts “to break the cycle of poverty through education” have grown out of his faith and the courage of those working to change their lives.

Thomas W. Burnford, acting President of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), said that education “is a human right based in human dignity” and that poor children in the U.S. are often stuck in failing schools.

In his talk on the importance of Catholic education, he advocated for federal government support for Catholic Schools in order to give parents the choice to better serve their children.

Burnford, who is the father of three young children in a Catholic School in his home state of Maryland, said that education is a “’social justice” issue and inalienable right” around the world.

He said that one of the most important challenges for Catholic education “is to make it accessible to the poor,” adding that equal education unites a society and “raises everyone up.”He said there are 6, 525 Catholic schools across the United States that not only educate young people but “form them in the faith.”

He said that Catholic schools “raise the bar” on education because “to know, love and serve God,” is our mission. “We want young people to know they are not just citizens of a country but of people working to get to heaven.

Burnford said that Vatican II documents prophesized the importance of education around the globe in elevating human dignity and posited that parents should have educational choice in the selection of schools for their children.

More than 200 turned out for the Communion Breakfast, which began with Bishop Frank Caggiano celebrating the Educator’s Mass in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Sacred Heart.

The Bishop told educators that they were entrusted with a “sublime mission” of educating students in the faith.

During the meeting Mr. Robert Nalewajek, President of CAPP USA announced that Bishop Caggiano has been invited to serve on the CAPP board by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. He also honored Dr. Ralph Burke of Fairfield for his educational leadership and for his efforts in founding and guiding the CAPP Educators’ Communion Breakfast.

“During this time of change and challenge in Catholic education, it is good for us to come together in faith to discuss these issues,” the Bishop said. CAPP was founded in 1993 to encourage business people, academics and other professionals to study and promote Catholic social teaching. It is named for Pope John Paul’s encyclical of the same name that marked the 100th anniversary of the landmark papal document on social responsibility, Rerum Novarum. The Diocese of Bridgeport is one of three pioneering dioceses in the United States to establish a chapter.


Parish Planning Task Force Members to Participate in Workshop Tomorrow at the Catholic Center
| March 11, 2016


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03/13/2016 UPDATE—Click to view photos

Pastoral Planning 101 Workshop Presentation – March 12, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—More than 200 representatives from parishes throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport are expect to attend the “Pastoral Planning 101 Workshop” tomorrow (Saturday March 12) at the Catholic Center, 238 Jewett Avenue.


The Parish Planning Task Force members will come together from 9 am until 12:00 noon in Queen of Saints Hall at the Catholic Center to begin a process that will create “a roadmap for its future,” said Patrick Turner, Director of Strategic and Pastoral Planning for the diocese.

“These workshops are designed to more fully explain the parish pastoral planning process, to discuss national and diocesan pastoral trends, and to provide an opportunity to interact with leaders from other parishes,” Turner said.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, and Fr. Michael Dogali, Episcopal Vicar for Strategic Planning will also speak at the meeting.

Delegates to the recently completed Synod 2014 overwhelmingly approved the need for comprehensive Strategic Planning process to help parishes respond to current challenges and future needs.

Pastors have formed the task forces, which include parish trustee, members of the finance and parish councils and other parishioners who are committed to the process of renewal.

Fr. Dogali said that as part of the process each parish has been sent a resource manual that offers a “snapshot” of the parishes based on sacrament, financial and social data in order to analyze the trends.

Task forces will review the data in a “state of the parish” meeting in order to develop a self-assessment and planning questionnaire identifying strengths and challenges.

A second for those who cannot attend tomorrow’s session will be held on Saturday March 19 at St. Edward the Confessor Parish in New Fairfield.


Awards Recognition at St. Aloysius School
| March 11, 2016


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NEW CANAAN—St. Aloysius School students in grades sixth, seventh, and eighth were recently recognized for their outstanding academic achievement this semester.


Principal Bardhyl Gjoka presents High Honors Award to sixth grader Ava Stone at the First Friday of the Month

Following the school’s traditional First Friday Mass on March 4, students who earned High Honors and Honors proudly received certificates commemorating their hard work in the classroom. Students must show exemplary effort and conduct, while maintaining grades no lower than A- to earn High Honors, and no lower than a B- to earn Honors.

In further recognition of their excellent academic achievement, one-third of all eligible students qualified for the Johns Hopkins Gifted and Talented Program. These students were also presented with certificates for their outstanding achievement. To earn recognition from the Johns Hopkins Gifted and Talented Program, students must score in the 95th percentile or higher on one or more subtests of a nationally normed standardized test. St. Aloysius School uses the Terra Nova, which meets that criteria. Students who have been recognized through this program are eligible to participate in summer programs located in Maryland, Pennsylvania, California and New York, and as far away as Hong Kong. Eligible student may also participate in online learning opportunities, and family academic programs offered by Johns Hopkins.

Many alumni of the John’s Hopkins Gifted and Talented program experience continued success, including several winners of the Jeopardy! Teen Tournament, recipients of the Rhodes Scholarship, and students at top tier and Ivy League universities. Notable attendees include Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, and Stefani Germanotta, otherwise known as Lady Gaga.

St. Aloysius School is a Kindergarten through Grade 8 Catholic School located in the center of New Canaan. It was named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in 2010, and is proudly entering its sixtieth year of academic excellence in a faith-filled community. For more information about St. Aloysius, please call 203-966-0786.

 


Societal Impact of Catholic Educaton
| March 11, 2016 • by Monsignor Chris Walsh


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FROM THE PASTOR'S DESK

As the current presidential election process is showing, these are unsettled, challenging times. One sign of this unrest is visible in the turmoil buffeting our most trusted and basic social institutions: doctors and hospitals, schools and universities, and quite frankly, churches and religious institutions. It used to be that the trusted family doctor, the admired and respected local schoolteacher, and the revered, consoling parish priest or minister were bedrock figures in every American community. 

Now doctors are advising their children to stay away from careers in medicine; public school educators feel overtaxed, underappreciated, and unsupported as they deal first-hand with the consequences of mega-social problems experienced by the children sitting in their classrooms; and the face of religious ministry across the board is changing – not just Catholic clergy, but Protestant ministers, Orthodox priests and Jewish rabbis, too – as fewer young men choose religious service as a career and fewer young people join the parishes and synagogues that must financially support them.

Against this backdrop one looks at America’s Catholic elementary and secondary schools. Going back to groundbreaking research done at the University of Chicago in the 1980s, it has been repeatedly shown that Catholic school students score higher on national reading and math tests compared with their public school counterparts.

As a Church we benefit from the fact that Catholic school graduates know their Church’s doctrine more in depth, identify more closely with their Catholic faith, and are twice as likely to consider a vocation to priesthood or religious life. I listen to younger parents sometimes complain that their children are not sufficiently challenged in their schools, receive little homework, and if they later go on to a private high school, feel overwhelmed by the academic demands.

In contrast, our St. Joseph School students are guided through a challenging academic course throughout their grade-school years; and when they go on to local Catholic high schools, they make the transition easily and often achieve honors. (For information on one challenging academic goal presented to our students by Principal Steve Anderson, see the school website for the details of his “100 Book Challenge” that has raised dramatically the amount of reading done by all our students.)

Despite this excellent track record, both educationally and religiously, Catholic schools, especially in this part of the country, struggle to survive. The causes of the stiff headwinds they face are too many to mention here. But as one parish that is still blessed to have the option of a fine Catholic school, it is important that St. Joseph parents support it by enrolling their children in it, lest this valuable educational alternative for their children one day cease to exist.

- Monsignor Chris


Why BSF is so important
| March 11, 2016 • by Monsignor Chris Walsh


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FROM THE PASTOR’S DESK

A longtime parishioner said to me recently: “Monsignor, we understand all you have been doing recently to promote our parish school. But most of us are now past the point where we have children eligible to attend it!” I laughed with him. But then I explained more about the unique opportunity right now in Fairfield County Catholic schools that we need to publicize.

Since Bishop Lori introduced a major reorganization in 2005, all Catholic schools in Fairfield County are operated solely by the Diocese of Bridgeport. That began a period of dramatic growth in terms of Catholic schools’ academic performance, their teachers’ salaries and classroom technology, as witnessed by numerous “Blue Ribbon School” awards and other recognitions received. At the same time, however, the enrollment in Catholic elementary and secondary schools continued to decline. When Bishop Caggiano arrived in 2013 from the Diocese of Brooklyn, he realized that without significant financial aid for middle class, Catholic parish families, enrollment would continue to decline, no matter how excellent our schools are.

The $2 million Bishop Scholarship Fund (“BSF,” for short) that he established last year is, to put it succinctly, based on a wager: for many Catholic families, the $5,000-6,000 yearly tuition cost prevents them from enrolling their children in a Catholic school. So now middle-class, Catholic families, many with multiple children, have an affordable alternative:

  1. Substantial BSF scholarship grants will begin to be awarded by April 1, 2016, for all families who have completed by March 15 the online financial application at www.FACTSmgt.com/aid.
  2. Parents who need even more financial help may ask for further consideration by our school’s own “Tuition Assistance Committee.”

But here is the other part of the wager: since 2006 every parish in Fairfield County has been required to submit 8% of their offertory to a diocesan schools’ fund, which has then allocated $100,000 annually to each Catholic elementary school. Now those yearly allocations are being phased out, and the money directed instead to the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund. In short, if a significant number of Catholic families take advantage of BSF scholarships, then a Catholic school receives more financial aid from the Diocese and its enrollment will grow. But if Catholic families let this great opportunity pass by, then the aid a Catholic school has been receiving for the past ten years from the Diocese will actually decrease, requiring even more tuition and fundraising revenue.

So we need to get the word out to every Catholic family with young children: NOW is an unparalleled, critical moment of opportunity to enroll in our excellent Catholic school!

– Monsignor Chris


The Entrepreneurial Bishop: Can The Catholic Church Learn From JetBlue?
| March 10, 2016 • by Susan Adams, FORBES STAFF


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BRIDGEPORT—In late 2013, when Rev. Frank J. Caggiano became the Fifth Bishop of Bridgeport, CT, he took over a diocese with 82 parishes, 38 schools and 410,000 Catholics, who make up 45% of the population.


He also inherited almost $22 million in debt that had been racked up by the schools, even though the diocese, which covers most of Fairfield County, includes some of the world’s wealthiest enclaves, housing a disproportionate number of billionaires and hedge fund titans. In this condensed and edited interview, Bishop Caggiano talks about out how he’s attempting to bring an entrepreneurial approach to solving his diocese’s problems.

Susan Adams: What challenges have you faced as Bishop of Bridgeport?

Frank Caggiano: There were three challenges I saw immediately. First there was the real need to reconnect with our people. If you want to use business language, you could call them our customers.

Adams: Do you have hedge fund managers and billionaires in your parish?

Caggiano: Yes, absolutely.

Adams: How generous are they?

Caggiano: They have been extremely generous to the diocese but among the very affluent you have the same problem of people not practicing their faith. We only have 20% of baptized Catholics coming to our regular worship.

Adams: What were the other challenges?

Caggiano: The second challenge had to do with the leadership of the diocese. I mean the pastors, priests and deacons, and our Catholic school administrators and advisory boards. I sensed they were a bit uncomfortable with being change agents, with thinking outside the box, or looking outside the parish.

Adams: What’s the third challenge?

Caggiano: We need our lay leaders, some of whom lead some of the largest corporations in the country, to assist in addressing the financial difficulties we have experienced, and to bring us their best business practices in human resources, communications, technology, social media. Along with the $22 million we owe, we’re accumulating $2 million a year in interest payments.

Adams: How are you tackling the mounting debt?

Caggiano: We have an annual Catholic appeal where we ask people to support the mission of the diocese. Last year they gave $11.5 million. Then we have an assessment: Roughly 15% of all money donated to parishes on Sundays goes to help run the administrative portion of the diocese like the central offices.

Adams: How much does the assessment bring in per year?

Caggiano: About $6.3 million. We do raise money in other ways including bequests and donations from affiliate organizations. But the diocese runs a deficit.

Adams: What are your ideas for lowering the deficit?

Caggiano: We can learn from the corporate world. We have to be open, transparent and financially accountable. We need to use the best and most accepted business practices, from how we are audited, to how we present our financials, to how we use lay leadership to advise and consult on all of our financial concerns. We need to assemble and publish all data for each parish, and we need to set goals and hold ourselves accountable to achieve them. In the Catholic Church that’s a whole new way of doing things.

Adams: How are you getting lapsed Catholics to come to church?

Caggiano: In September we had a Synod, where you engage the leadership at every level.  That means a leader from every parish, every school, every religious congregation. We had 400 members, including 350 lay leaders. We asked, how do we engage the 80% who aren’t engaged and how do we get the 20% more fully involved.

Adams: What did you come up with?

Caggiano: First we need to evangelize. We also want people who come to church to see it as a collegial, collaborative enterprise where everyone, whether clerics or laity, works together to achieve a common initiative.  We’re also creating a leadership institute. Clergy and lay leaders will have an opportunity for the first time in our diocese to have the latest training whether in business skills, public relations, business practices, communications or social media.

Adams: Who’s going to teach those skills at the institute?

Caggiano: Some of the people will be from the business and corporate world, some from the marketing world, and I’m hoping a lot of millennials who have made their careers exploring the social media world.

Adams: Who’s going to pay for their services?

Caggiano: I believe you need to spend money to make money. But there are also an enormous number of Catholic faithful who will do this gratis. This is going to be an institute without walls. The teaching can be done in person, communally, and online.

Adams: How will that address the school debt?

Caggiano: Catholic schools need to become financially self-sufficient. Since Catholic schools started charging tuition in the mid ‘60s, they’ve had a model that says tuition is $X.  When I went to school it was $20 a month. I was the first grade that paid tuition at all. The teachers were religious so there were no salaries. Now 85% of a school’s budget is salary. We have lay teachers who are great at what they do but they need to have a living wage. Right now the average tuition is $6,000 per student in our elementary school. When you consider that the average Catholic family has more than one child, that becomes a huge financial challenge.

Adams: What’s the solution?

Caggiano: We need a transformation. I call it the JetBlue experience. When the airline was founded, its financial model was to fill every seat, which they would do by discounting at the last minutes. Private college charges can be as high as $65,000 including room and board But very few families pay that much. We need a collegiate model where parents show their financials and have their tuition adjusted according to their ability to pay.

Adams: How is that like JetBlue?

Caggiano: If you consider that each seat in our schools is worth $5,000, that’s a half million dollars of revenue we’ve lost. Since there’s a fixed cost to the seat, whatever revenue we can generate, filling the seats at a discount the way JetBlue did, would be to our advantage. We’d use individual financial aid to do that.


Click here to see the original article in Forbes


Parents invited to join in Strategic Plan for Catholic Elementary Schools in Stamford
| March 09, 2016


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STAMFORD—Bishop Frank Caggiano introduced a new, 18-month strategic planning process for Catholic elementary schools in Stamford at a meeting held last night in the Trinity Catholic High School auditorium.


More than 150 Catholic elementary school parents, educators and advisory board members  turned out for the presentation, which was followed by a 45- minute question and answer session.

The Bishop told parents he is committed to transparency and he invited them to be full partners in the process of change to prepare the schools for growth and vitality in the 21st century.

As he began a highly detailed talk accompanied by slides with financial and enrollment statistics, the Bishop said that he hoped to dispel rumors about the future of the schools.

“Tonight you may be receiving information that you’ve never seen before. I will tell you all I know so that you have the same information I have as we move forward in this process. You will see a lot of me over the next few months,” added the Bishop who is acting as Superintendent until a new schools leader is chosen in the Spring.

Along with providing an overview of the vision and goals for the strategic plan, the Bishop said he favored the creation of a new two-tier governing structure to oversee the four Stamford schools.  

He said the new governance model will include a Board of Members made up of the Bishop, the Vicar General and the Diocesan Superintendent of Schools, who will meet once a year and serve as the sponsoring board that oversees the religious nature of the Schools.

A Board of Directors composed of lay leader will also be formed to take responsibility for finances, marketing and planning for the schools.

“The Advisory Board formed in 2005 has served Stamford very well,” the Bishop said, adding that the new board will have actual decision-making authority over school finances, programs and improvements.

“You are essential partners in what happens to our schools and our children,” the Bishop told parents as he asked their help in “re-designing” the schools

He challenged them to support the effort in many ways from serving on committees of the new board to re-enrolling their children and encouraging others to look at Catholic schools.

Under the new structure, parents will not serve as board members, but will fill key committee posts in marketing, fund raising, advancement and academics, he said.

He said the new Board of Directors model will give the local community much more authority in running the schools. “The the actual day-to-day workings of the school will be  ceded to the Board of Directors that oversees the task of setting policy, budgeting and overall financial responsibility.”

“Not all the decisions should be made at the diocesan level,” he said. “The new model creates a balance between diocesan decision makers and the school community.”

The Bishop said a total of 630 students currently attend one the four Catholic elementary/middle schools in Stamford including Holy Spirit School, Our Lady Star of the Sea School, St Cecilia’s School and Trinity Catholic Middle School.

Trinity Catholic Middle Schools serves students in Grades 6-8, while the other schools offers teach students in Grades Pre-K through 5th.  

The Bishop said he believes the Stamford schools will benefit by evolving into the current Bridgeport model of  a “Catholic Academy of Bridgeport,” which is legally constituted as one school with four separate campuses, each retaining its own name, identity (for example, St. Andrew Academy, etc.) and principal. Each school will also retain its Home Schools Association (HSA).

The academy model allow for more efficiencies, sharing of resources between schools, and better planning for future investment and innovation, he said.

“The downward trend in enrollment is the single biggest challenge faced by the schools,” said the Bishop, adding that enrollment in the four schools has been gradually declining from a high of more than 700 students in 2011.

The finances of the schools have been stable, though the four schools have an aggregated $87,000 deficit for the current school year out of an overall combined budget of nearly $5 million.

“While the finances have been relatively stable, we need a process for growth and future vitality,” he said.

The rigorous academic programs offered by the schools include differentiated instruction, Spanish language, emphasis on Reading and Math Readiness, and STEM.

According to the Terra Nova Grade Equivalent, a national achievement test that measures mastery in core subjects, Grade 5 students score at a Grade 8 level in Math and Grade 10 level in Language Arts. Grade 7 students work at a Grade 9 level in Math and a Grade 11 level in Language Arts.

Instruction is based on an integrated use of technology including fiber optic technology for internet services, SMART Boards; laptops, tables, minis include Chromebook, iPad and Surface, Google Classrooms and Digital Textbooks.

The Bishop said that in addition to offering excellent academics and new technology, the schools support the mission of Catholic education through the Mass, classroom prayer, celebration of Holy Days and instructions in the teaching of the Church.

He said he was proud that 100% of the elementary school students participate in service to parishes, schools, and large community.

The Bishop announced that the diocese, with the guidance of a working group of advisory board members and others in Stamford, is about to retain a strategic planning group that will lead the 18-month process to redesign the schools. The new plan will take effect in September, 2017.

“There could be change but it won’t come as a surprise because you will be part of the process. Everybody needs to be heard,” said the Bishop.

The Bishop invited all parents to attend a special Open House on Sunday, April 24, which will be held at all of the Catholic Elementary Schools in Stamford. Representatives from the schools will speak at all parishes that weekend, and registration tables will also be set up after Mass. For more information, visit the website: www.dioceseofbridgeportcatholicschools.com/


Knights of Columbus to Unveil Report on Christian Genocide
| March 08, 2016


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WASHINGTON—The Knights of Columbus will unveil a detailed report documenting the genocide facing Christians in the Middle East at the hands of ISIS at 10 am E.T. on Thursday, March 10 at the National Press Club (529 14TH St. NW) State Department officials requested that the Knights create such a report specifically on the Christian situation.


State is required by law to make a determination as to whether the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East will be designated genocide by a congressionally-mandated deadline of March 17.

To RSVP for event, please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

The event will include remarks by Carl Anderson, CEO of the Knights of Columbus, as well as by a panel of experts including:

·    Father Douglas al-Bazi, former hostage, now a priest at Mar Elia Refugee Camp in Erbil, Iraq
·    Bishop Sarhad Y. Jammo, Chaldean Catholic Diocese of St. Peter the Apostle of the Western USA
·    Bishop Anba Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom
·    Nina Shea, Director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom
·    Prof. Gregory Stanton, Founding President, Genocide Watch

The Knights of Columbus is currently sponsoring an online petition www.StopTheChristianGenocide.org that urges Secretary of State John Kerry not to exclude Christians from a declaration of genocide at the hands of ISIS. The petition has so far garnered more than 50,000 signatures, including those of Gov. John Kasich of Ohio; Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York; U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference President Archbishop Joseph Kurtz; Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals; Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan Prelate, Armenian Apostolic Church of America (Eastern Prelacy); historian Philip Jenkins; human rights experts and activists; and Hollywood producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.

The Knights petition was launched February 25 and is being promoted with a new nationwide TV ad that cites Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio all naming what his happening to Christians in the Middle East at the hands of ISIS as “genocide.” The fact that what is happening to Christians and other minority groups is genocide is also supported by 55 percent of Americans, according to a 2015 K of C-Marist poll.

To date, the European Parliament, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, as well as government bodies in Iraq and elsewhere have designated the situation facing Christians and other minority groups in the region as genocide. Secretary Kerry himself, said in 2014: “ISIL’s campaign of terror against the innocent, including Yazidi and Christian minorities, and its grotesque and targeted acts of violence bear all the warning signs and hallmarks of genocide.”


Lauralton Hall’s National Honor Society donates over 3000 diapers and wipes to women’s shelters
| March 07, 2016


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MILFORD—Lauralton Hall’s National Honor Society sponsored a diaper drive with a Valentine's Day theme of “Luvs and Hugs” to collect diapers and wipes for the women in need at the Mercy Center in Bridgeport. Over 3,000 diapers and wipes were collected for distribution!


(l-r) National Honor Society members Carloine Sarda ’16 of New Canaan,
Felicia Tanu ’16 of Stamford, Maddie Peloso ’16 of Fairfield, Bella Secchiaroli ’19
of Milford and Aigneis Frey ’16 of New Canaan.

Currently Lauralton Hall has 126 members of the National Honor Society. In order to be inducted as a member of the NHS, a student must hold a weighted 92 grade point average and must submit an application demonstrating her commitment to the four tenants of the NHS. Honor Society members volunteer 20 percent in additional service hours over and above the service requirement for all Lauralton students.


Mock Trial Team makes it to semi finals!
| March 07, 2016


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FAIRFIELD—For several years, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School’s middle school students have participated in the Middle School Mock Trial Competition sponsored by Civics First.


Good work by the Mock Trial team. They are all winners!  Congratulations!  Bottom Row (l-r): Caroline Fitzgerald, Eloise Essig, Julia DiCesare, Abby Lambert, Chloe Salomon, Ellie O’Mahony, Sam Fiano. Top Row:  Michael O’Donnell, Roni Clarkin, Kerry Lambert, Maeve McClure, John Dooley, Michael Lynch, Deaglan O’Donnell, Owen Lindstrom, Kevin Gidez, Isadora Siquenza and Frank Duffin.

The Mock Trial program is designed to teach students about our country’s judicial system. Middle schools throughout the state of Connecticut compete against each other in an imitation—“Mock”—trial. This year’s case was MALCOLM V. UTOPIA ZOO,  which involved a claim of negligence on the part of the Utopia Zoo brought by a young, promising, basketball player, Taylor Malcolm, who was bitten by a gorilla at the Utopia Zoo, after making gorilla calls that caused the gorilla to come close to the tram on which Malcolm was riding.  

 This year,  the following fourteen middle school students participated in the competition:  Julia DiCesare, John Dooley, Eloise Essig, Caroline Fitzgerald, Kevin Gidez, Abigail Lambert, Owen Lindstrom, Michael Lynch, Liam McClure, Maeve McClure, Deaglan O’Donnell, Ellie O’Mahony, Isadora Siquenza and Chloe Solomon.  Students were assigned to play the roles of lawyer or witness for the Plaintiff; lawyer or witness for the Defendant; and bailiff.  Working with volunteer attorney coaches Rani Clarkin,  Grace Duffin, Frank Duffin, Sam Fiano, and Michael O’Donnell,  the team prepared for several months to argue their respective sides against other teams from around the state.

Local lawyers volunteered to serve as judges to preside over the trial, and rated the students' understanding of the judicial process as evidenced by their performance in presenting their case. The first round of competition in which St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School participated was held on February 11. Both sides of the St. Thomas team presented their case with confidence and conviction and, as a result, both sides won their case and the team advanced to the quarter-finals.

The quarter-finals were held on February 24, and their Plaintiff’s side was required to present their case in a single elimination round. The Plaintiff’s team successfully  won their case and advanced to the semi-finals, which were held on March 2 at the New Britain Courthouse, where the Defendant’s team presented their case. Although our team skillfully and assertively advocated on behalf of the Utopia Zoo, the judge sided with the Plaintiff, and the St. Thomas team was eliminated.  This is the first time since the school began participating in the Mock Trial program that one of our teams has advanced to the semi-final trial stage.


“Healing” profession is a lifetime journey
| March 06, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Health care workers are called to a “ministry of healing” that engages them at the deepest level of who they are as people,” said Sister Maureen McGuire, DC, at this mornings White Mass Breakfast, held at Testo’s in Bridgeport.


The morning began with Bishop Frank J. Caggiano celebrating Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral. “All the work you do is the work of healing, and we ask the Lord’s blessings on you,” the Bishop in his greetings to healthcare professionals who gathered for the annual event.

During the breakfast, the Bishop Caggiano presented The 2016 Father Rufin Compassionate Care Award to Dr. Lenore Snowden-Opalak, MD of Fairfield, and to Kevin Roche of Sandy Hook. Mr. Roche, a member of St. Rose of Lima Parish, was honored for his volunteer work visiting the sick in hospitals and nursing homes. Dr. Opalak, an internist and member of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Fairfield, was recognized for her work in advancing legislation to support palliative care for those at the end of the life

Sister Maureen, who serves as Executive Vice President Mission Integration of Ascension Health, the largest private health system in the United States, said that each person is unique.

“Look in the mirror or into the eyes of another and you will see a being that has never existed before and will never exist again,” she told the gathering of physicians nurses and healthcare professionals.

She said that all people are called to a “journey toward the deep self created by God who loved us into being.” She said that the “job of the human spirit” is to seek relationship and meaning throughout the journey of life.

Sister Maureen, who has served as a Catholic Charities executive, founded one of the first transitional housing programs for women with HIV, said that there is an “essential vocational nature to the profession of healthcare.”

She said that most healthcare careers begin in the “rigor” of intense studies and training, but are also requires God-given talent and a calling.

“God needed you to do this,” she said, noting that healthcare workers find their deepest selves in the vocation to heal others and experience the feeling that “I am who I’m supposed to be when I’m needed most.”

She said that that healthcare workers are also wounded healers themselves who need support from colleagues and others in their daily work with those who are ill. She repeated the story of a doctor who said, “All my life as a doctor, people brought me their suffering and distress. They handed it to me and they took it, but I was not paying attention about where to put it. ”

Sister Maureen said that it is important that “we realized our own need for mercy and come to experience God’s love and God’s mercy as one.”

In his homily before the breakfast, Bishop Caggiano said that people find true healing only after they’re willing to admit that they are wounded and spiritually broken.

“Doctors cannot treat our wounds if we don’t show them,” the Bishop said “Do we believe that God can heal us? If so, then it’s time for us to show him our wounds. Only through our wounds can the grace of God come to heal us because through his wounds on the cross, we are set free.”

Stuart G. Marcus, MD, president and CEO, St. Vincent's Medical Center, and Dr. John Murphy, President/CEO of Danbury Hospital, attended the event, which honors healthcare workers in Fairfield County.

“This event is critically important because it is an opportunity for the Church to say thank you, and to engage younger health professionals” said the Bishop urging those in attendance to invite others to future events. “You are missionaries of God’s love and you make him present in the hours of people’s greatest need.”


“It’s easy to get distracted from what really matters,” Bishop tells youth at Convivio
| March 05, 2016


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FAIRFIELD—More than 200 young people throughout Fairfield County are gathering at Sacred Heart University for “Convivio” this weekend to grow in their faith and to discuss issues that are important to them.


This year’s gathering opened yesterday with a welcoming address from Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.

"It is very easy to get distracted with things that are not that important, what’s much more important is that you allow this time to touch your heart,” the Bishop told the young people.

“There is one thing I want to share with you tonight. You and I do not give to someone else what we have not already received first from Jesus.”

“I want you to find a mirror this weekend and look into it, and think about what you see. Because I know what God sees, God sees something irreplaceable. God sees someone who is unique. God sees someone so lovable that Jesus died on the cross for you. God sees someone so precious that he has already given you his Holy Spirit and lives in your heart, and your mind, and your soul. God sees someone so precious that he will give you his life, forever,” he said.

“And you know what else God sees? He sees a sinner. God can see you and the deepest secrets of your heart. God already knows that part of your life that nobody else knows. God sees you, and your faults and your failings and only has one thing to say, three words: “I Love You,” and I would add a fourth- Forever,” the Bishop said.

Since 2010, high school
youth from this diocese have gathered each year at Sacred Heart University for Convivio,
a worldwide high school congress. Throughout the weekend, attendees listen to thoughtful presentations that explore the theme of mercy and how it personally relates to young people in today’s world.

Mary Boyle, a former attendee and a speaker at this year’s event said Convivio is a life-changing event for young people.

“Six years ago I attended my first Convivio and I’ve been changed ever since. It gave me the opportunity to meet other high school students who remain some of my closest friends. I can’t imagine a better event for the youth of our diocese to have fun, make friends, and grow in their faith!”

Pope Francis has proclaimed 2016 a Jubilee Year of Mercy. With the theme “Uplift the World with Mercy,” Convivio engages participants in a dialogue about problems facing the world and themselves, and the power of mercy in solving these problems.

“This beautiful gathering is an opportunity to explore the power of mercy and rediscover its richness, as we strive to deepen our encounter with Jesus Christ in a festive and prayerful atmosphere,” said the Bishop.

Guided by trained peer-mentors, small breakout groups discuss these topics in depth with fellow students. There is also time for fun and social activities, including games. There is also time for personal reflection, Mass and Confession.

Today’s schedule will end with an evening concert. Convivio will conclude on Sunday afternoon, March 6, at 4 pm.

For more info, contact Maria Cerdena, coordinator of High School Apostles and Convivio: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 203.416.1454.

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New Covenant Center Director reaches out to 30 Hour Famine Youth
| March 04, 2016


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NORWALK—“We don’t have solid doors, we have glass doors. We want people to feel welcome.”






This is how John Gutman described not only the atmosphere, but the philosophy of New Covenant Center, a program of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County that John oversees as Director.

Last Saturday at St. Philip Church in Norwalk, Gutman spoke to over two hundred youth participating in 30 Hour Famine, an international program to raise awareness about world hunger.

Speaking off the cuff and from his heart, Gutman roamed the aisles connecting with his young audience, who had begun a thirty-hour fast that morning. He commended them not only for deep-diving into a hunger experience, but for raising funds and food donations to help feed hungry children around the world.

At the end of the dialogue, Gutman drove home an important point he has learned over time from helping those in need: “The one take away, in all my years? It’s amazing how thankful these people are…thankful that we’re helping them.”


Jubilee of Mercy observances
| March 04, 2016


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Click here for more info on the Centers of Mercy

BRIDGEPORT—In addition to establishing the Centers of Mercy throughout the diocese, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has announced a list of dates on which he will lead the diocesan observances of the Extraordinary Jubilee
of Mercy:


Diocesan celebration
of Divine Mercy Sunday
April 3, at 2 pm
St. Augustine Cathedral,
Bridgeport


Bishop Caggiano will celebrate Mass and dedicate the new Divine Mercy Shrine on the Cathedral grounds. The Chaplet of the Divine Mercy will also be prayed. Special invitees include the diocesan WYD pilgrims and also those youth who are not going to WYD.

Jubilee for Religious
Tuesday, May 17, 4:30 pm
St. Luke Parish, Westport


The bishop will celebrate Mass with and for the women and men Religious throughout the diocese, particularly honoring jubilarians.

Jubilee for the Disabled
Sunday, June 5, 2 pm, McClinch Family Center, St. Catherine
of Siena Parish, Trumbull


At this handicapped-accessible facility, Bishop Caggiano will especially welcome faithful from throughout the diocese who are developmentally or otherwise disabled.

Jubilee for Workers and Volunteers of Mercy
Sunday, September 4, 12 noon
Location TBD


In a bilingual Mass in conjunction with the feast day of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, the bishop will honor, thank and pray with the employees and volunteers of Catholic Charities, together with the volunteers in the Catholic Service Corps and other workers and volunteers of mercy.

Diocesan Pilgrimage for the Year of Mercy to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C.
Saturday, November 5


At this Mass, to which the whole diocese is invited, Bishop Caggiano will consecrate the Diocese of Bridgeport to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Each parish will be asked to send a delegation. Organization has begun to prepare publicity and arrange for bus transportation. Cost for the day (not including meals) is estimated at $75. The day will also include a visit to the St. John Paul II National Shrine, across the street from the Basilica.

Jubilee for Prisoners
Sunday, November 6, 7 pm


Bishop Caggiano will
celebrate Mass at the Garner Correctional Institution. This event will not be open to the public.

Conclusion of the Extraordinary Jubilee
of Mercy, Saturday, November 19, 4 pm
St. Augustine Cathedral, Bridgeport


At this Mass celebrated by Bishop Caggiano on the Vigil of the Solemnity of Christ the King, the last Sunday in the Church year, the bishop will close the Holy Door at the Cathedral.
As at the opening of the Holy Door at the beginning of the Jubilee of Mercy, special invitees will include the youth of the diocese together with members of the Neo-Catechumenal Way, with involvement from the Order of Malta.


Scout Sunday
| March 03, 2016


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FAIRFIELD—Scout Sunday was held in Fairfield on February 28th at the Children’s Mass at Our Lady of Assumption in Fairfield.


SCOUTS PHOTO:
Front row:  William Thrasher (P88) Miles McHugh (P95), Liam Sikora (P95), Dylan Duffy (P95) Ftr Peter Cipriani
Second row:  Henry Anderson (T88), Emmett Ransden (P95), Mark Cassa (P95), Dylan Kohler (P95), Michael Carafotes (P95), Charlie Kohler (P95), Noah Bertot (P95), Jack Harrington (P88)
Third row:  Nicolas Alvarez (P95), Lucas Baptista (P95), Martin Alvarez (P95), Joe Grabowski (T109), Charlie Anderson (P95), Ian Bertot (P95), Andrew Barnaby (P88), Paul Barnaby (P88)
Back row (leaders):  James Wardwell(KOC), Jeffrey Thompson(KOC),Susan Ransden (P95), Mark Herrington (P88), Paul Barnaby!, Jeff Ransden (P95) David Iasoggna(KOC), Michael Lauzon(KOC) and Sam Rizzitelli(KOC)
 
Not pictured:  Ethan Takacs (P95), Sean McAteer (T88) and leaders Jeff Kohler and Geovanna Alvarez (P95)

Assumption Pastor, Father Peter Cipriani, welcomed the scouts participation in the liturgy. The boys did both readings, psalm and the petitions as well as bring the gifts to the altar. The Mass began with the scouts presenting their unit flags. Father Cipriani thanked them for their demonstration of faith and service to the community. A small party was held in the center following the mass.

 


All Stars capture enthusiasm
| March 03, 2016


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WILTON—The Ninth Annual Tyler Ugolyn Basketball Tournament ran from January 21-February 5th at Our Lady of Fatima School in Wilton. This year’s tournament had 45 teams from 11 schools within the diocese, with about 500 basketball players in all.



The basketball tournament was named after Tyler Ugolyn, who graduated from Our Lady of Fatima school in 1997 and tragically died during 9/11. Not only was he a great basketball player but he was a great person and a devout Catholic.  He went to Ridgefield High School where he became a member of the National Honor Society. He was a McDonald's High School All-American Basketball nominee, ranked as one of the top 250 seniors in the country, before deciding to attend Columbia where he was recruited to play Division 1 basketball. While at Columbia his faith grew stronger and he became a co-founder of the Columbia Catholic Athletes and an Eucharistic Minister.  When his knees gave out playing basketball, he formed a basketball program for Harlem youth at the Columbia gym every Sunday morning.

Founded after his death, the Tyler Ugolyn Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to promoting youth basketball programs and the refurbishment of inner-city basketball courts. Courts have been renovated in Tyler's memory all across the country, in conjunction with the NCAA Men's Final Four, in cities such as San Antonio, Detroit, Indianapolis and Houston. This year the tournament in Wilton donated $1,500 to the Tyler Ugolyn Foundation, which was matched by an anonymous donor for a total of $3,000. Tyler's favorite saying came from his grandmother: “Yesterday was history, Tomorrow is a mystery, Today is a gift from God!”  

More info, including Sports Illustrated articles can be found on his website: www.tylerugolyn.com.

Varsity Boys
Our Lady of Fatima: Andrew Rubsam, Ryan Davis Frank Bonaddio
Trinity: Jake Morton, Isa Hassan, Greg Pelissier, Jay Lockwood
St. Theresa: Kyle Harrell, Lucas Gelmetti
All Saints: Tyler Sisko, Matt Rohr, Jack Major, Andrew St. Louis, Matty Goldstein
St. James: Brian Carrafiello, Justin Horvath, Paul Fabbri
St. Joseph Danbury: Bradley Kerr, Keelan Doherty
St. Thomas: Nico Coerver, Charlie Wilcox, Owen Lindstrom, Shakeem Williams
Coaches: Terry O’Sullivan and Father Reginald Norman
 
 
Varsity Girls

Our Lady of Fatima: Nancy Lynch, Gabby Perez, Paula Perez, Ria Narula
St. James: Kylie Lucifora, Lily Ivanovich, Kristin Zack
Trinity: Klarke Moore, Samantha Vanderheyden, Kiera Fenske, Caroline Kollar
St. Theresa: Veronica Lubas, Sophie Tuozzoli
All Saints: Veronica Pinho, Edvardine Joseph
St. Thomas: Trisha Carey, Kathleen Carey
Coaches: Matt Fair and Joe Beggan
 

(All Star Team photos by Gina O’Sullivan)


Ladies Lunch Today to Benefit Catholic Academy of Bridgeport
| March 02, 2016


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Click here for photos (by Michelle Babyak)

DARIEN—Sarita Hanley of Stamford will be honored at today’s Sixth Annual Ladies Luncheon for the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport at Woodway Country Club in Darien.


“She has been a passionate supporter of the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport and its mission.

In addition to being a founding member of the planning committee of our Annual Ladies Luncheon, she also serves on our Board’s Development Committee and is a faithful sponsor of Nahiser, a Leaders of Tomorrow student,” said Sister Joan Magnetti, RSCJ, Executive Director.

“Sarita has been an avid volunteer in various organizations in Connecticut since 1994. Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, she currently lives in Stamford with her husband, Greg, and their four children. We celebrate her fervent desire to shareher faith in God with those most in need,” said Sister Magnetti..

Marylou Queally Salvati is chairing the event. Planning committee members include Alison Barr, Mary Beaudry, Patricia Bumgardner, Melanie Bloom, Mollie Callagy, Jennifer Cieszko, Traci DeConcini, Jan Dilenschneider, Heather Diver, Lucinda Falk, Mairead Finn, Melissa Gibbons, Sarita Hanley, Irene McInerney, Rhonda Morley, Jody Myers and Nina Yoder.

The Catholic Academy of Bridgeport, a faith-filled learning community, is comprised of four campuses in the city of Bridgeport: St. Andrew, St. Ann, St. Augustine and St Raphael’s. Nearly 1000 students benefit from our mission to provide a Christ-centered, academically rigorous learning environment where cultural diversity is welcomed and celebrated. Students are nurtured, encouraged and challenged in preparation for a successful life of leadership and service.  

The Catholic Academy of Bridgeport is fully accredited by the state of CT and NEASC. 100% of our graduating 8th graders attend high school and nearly 100% attend college. There is generous tuition assistance available to students who qualify. Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Online Safety Training for Parents
| March 02, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—One of the greatest threats to children’s safety is found online—pornography, sexting and other dangerous practices are found everywhere, from computers to mobile phones.


The majority of children and teenagers spend over 70% of their time attached to a screen or electronic device. “These numbers are staggering and it leaves young people at increased risk for behavioral issues as they get older. Early exposure to pornography, violent video games, and social media overload can shape attitude, values, sexual inhibitions, as well as violent tendencies,” said Ms. Erin Neil, L.C.S.W., Director of Safe Environments and Victim Assistance CoordinatorErin Neil.
 
Neil is encouraging parents to visit the new CMG Connect: Parents website, which has resources and a free video A Safe Haven Starts at Home. The purpose of CMG Connect: Parentsis to help educate parents, teachers and other adults in risk factors and unhealthy internet usage.  We hope that through this free platform, parents and other caring adults can learn dangerous behaviors to watch for, set realistic computer/internet usage time, and establish open communication with their children or other young people.
 
To utilize these valuable resources, please create a free account at:  www.CMGparent.org, watch the 18 minute video, and take the short quiz.

Click here to view flyer.


Lenten Reflection at St. Francis of Assisi
| February 29, 2016


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WESTON—Jesus Walk to Calvary, a Lenten reflection bringing together original music and scriptural reading, Saturday March 19, 7 pm, parish hall of St. Francis of Assisi, 35 Northfield Road, Weston.


Created and produced by Marlane Tubridy Music Director of Notre Dame of Easton Parish, the Lenten reflection features the Cantiamo Choir. Dr. Thomas Hicks, popular columnist for Fairfield County Catholic and a member of St. Theresa Parish in Trumbull, narrates the video and delivers the scriptural readings.
 
Admission is free. To assure seating, please make a reservation by calling: 203.349.5443.


Darien artist selected to exhibit at the prestigious Art Paris Art Fair at the Grand Palais
| February 29, 2016


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DARIEN—Darien artist Jan Dilenschneider will have her work shown at the popular Art Paris Art Fair, held from March 31 through April 3 at the Grand Palais.



Dilenschneider’s paintings will be part of the artwork exhibited by the well-known Galerie Pierre-Alain Challier. The gallery’s theme for this year’s exhibition is nature. She has had successful solo exhibitions at this Paris gallery for the past three years. Dilenschneider is the only American being exhibited by Galerie Pierre-Alain Challier.

In addition to her participation in the Art Paris Art Fair, Dilenschneider will also be among the artists participating in a trip to Toledo, Spain, this fall under the auspices of the Springfield Museums in Springfield, Mass. The trip will include a visit to the El Greco Museum as well as an opportunity for plein air painting of the landscapes depicted in the works of El Greco and Goya.  

On October 7, the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, part of the University of New Haven, will open an exhibition of her work at its Sill House Gallery. The show will run to November 12. Lyme is the birthplace of the American Impressionist movement. She will give a gallery talk during the run of her exhibition.  

Art Paris Art Fair is the leading event in the spring art calendar of the French capital. It brings together more than 143 modern and contemporary art galleries from 20 countries and features art from the post-war period to the present day, with 145 exhibitions representing 2,200 artists.

Opened in 1900 on the Champs Élysées, The Grand Palais was built in the style of Beaux-Arts architecture and has the largest glass roof in Europe. It serves as an historic site, exhibition hall and museum complex. Its original purpose was to house the great artistic events of the city of Paris, and is called “a monument dedicated by the Republic to the glory of French art.”

Reviewing her work, the critic for the French magazine Luxe wrote:

Paris was the first to see in Jan Dilenschneider a divine inspiration worthy of Gauguin or Monet.  

Her work is in the collections of prominent families in New York, Paris, London and Berlin.

This year for the first time the Fair will feature art from Azerbaijan, Colombia and Iran. In addition, South Korea will be the guest of honor, offering an exceptional insight into contemporary artistic expression from this Asian country. Last year, 55,735 visitors attended the Art Paris Art Fair.
    
Dilenschneider’s paintings that will be exhibited at the Grand Palais show are vertical triptychs.
    
The recent works include:  

Flora Against Blue Sky (Oil on Canvas: 3 canvases, each 36 by 36 inches). The work features cobalt blue skies juxtaposed with flora in gamboge yellow. The artist painted the rich gamboge yellow over the entire canvas and then covered it with dark pigment. With the canvas still wet, she used a squeegee and pulled it back and forth across the canvas revealing the vegetation beneath. The flow of the squeegee across the canvas is almost musical. A sky of cobalt blue peeks out in just enough places to evoke the feeling of light streaming through the leaves.

Super Storm Sandy (Acrylic on Canvas: 3 canvases, each 36 by 36 inches) incorporates analogous colors of ultramarine and cerulean blue, violet, pink, off-white and green. The triptych captures the violent waters of Super Storm Sandy, which engulfed the East Coast in 2013. The painting is a rush of colors moving upward and swirling at the top to emulate the swirling white water crashing against the shore.

Both paintings are examples of how global warming is affecting us all. Dilenschneider believes that nature is slowly changing around us in response to extreme temperatures and climate change and that artists should have the platform to draw attention to these potential problems.

She often paints a pair of paintings at the same time, which she believes keeps the canvas fresh and spontaneous. She paints the same subject three, four or five times, changing the design, the technique, the perspective and especially the color combinations until it becomes much more developed.  

Dilenschneider is known for her use of chopsticks, squeegees, rubber and metal spatulas and her fingertips to create swirling patterns that evoke both movement and harmony. Her use of clear color combinations is also a hallmark of her art. She sees colors as evoking joy and happiness. One color complements the other and two colors close together establish an emotional connection.

Susan Rand Brown wrote in Art New England:

Watching Jan Dilenschneider paint in a secluded studio on the top floor of her home facing Long Island Sound, not far from the birthplace of Connecticut Impressionism, a visitor easily imagines Monet at Argenteuil with his easel open to the elements on the River Seine.   

Journalist Mário de Castro wrote in Villegiature Mag:

In the landscapes painted by Jan Dilenschneider she injects a distinctly modern vision into her imagery…she goes beyond nature and Impressionism, she recreates a universe where you feel tempted to go.  After all, don’t we all need color as a happy spa therapy to make our daily life more comfortable?

Often compared to the Impressionists, she prefers to claim being an Expressionist who loves the palette of the Impressionists. The artist’s recent solo show, “Dualities,” at the Bellarmine Museum at Fairfield University, highlighted her expressive landscapes, still lifes, and portraits along with bold gestural abstract paintings. It was one of the most popular shows in the Museum’s history.

In addition to her career as an artist, Dilenschneider was appointed to serve on the Connecticut Arts Council. She also started The Janet Hennessy Dilenschneider Rescue Fund Award in the Arts, which recently rescued a Syrian artist and her family, relocating them to New Jersey, where she is on the faculty of Montclair State University.  Dilenschneider continues to be involved in Catholic Charities and The Family Center, Inc. in Connecticut.


Irish Famine still resonates in world hunger
| February 26, 2016


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GREENWICH—Upwards of 150 people turned out Sunday February 21, to hear a lecture sponsored by Catholic Charities of Fairfield County (CCFC) on the history of Ireland’s Great Famine.







Dr. Christine Kinealy, Founder and Director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, delivered a stirring and enlightening presentation to the guests, who were seated inside a beautiful room at Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich.

Weaving together the themes of famine, hunger, political influence, and the generosity of others to offer aid and support to Ireland at the time, Dr. Kinealy brought her theme into the current day by reminding the audience that hunger still exists in the modern world. However, she noted, the mission of CCFC is to help those who cannot help themselves in order to strengthen and empower them to become independent again.
 
Part of the event included a photo exhibit of CCFC, showing guests the broad spectrum of services the agency has provided the Fairfield County community over the last 100 years.

A reception after the lecture provided guests the opportunity to engage in dialogues about what they learned from a thought-provoking afternoon.

During the Lenten Season Catholic Charities of Fairfield County sponsors the Loaves and Fishes Campaign throughout the diocese to build support for its soup kitchens, food pantries and other nutrition programs that provide more than 1 million meals a year to the working poor, homeless, elderly and others at risk. For information visit: www.ccfairfield.org/donate.


Faustina: Messenger of Divine Mercy
| February 25, 2016


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Click here to view the poster

STAMFORD—Faustina: Messenger of Divine Mercy, the moving, live production performed by actress Maria Vargo and directed by Leonardo Defilippis of Saint Luke Productions, will be presented at Holy Spirit School Auditorium in Stamford on Friday, March 11 at 7 pm The event is sponsored by Church of the Holy Spirit.


Experience firsthand the life and message of Saint Faustina whose personal encounters with Jesus have inspired a world-wide devotion to Christ’s Divine Mercy. This drama also brings audiences a riveting modern story that makes Divine Mercy remarkably relevant and urgent for our world today. The program is filled with all the elements of professional theater, runs 90 minutes, and is suitable for ages 13 and up.

Admission is a $15.00. For tickets and additional information, contact Holy Spirit Church Office at 203.322.3722 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or visit www.holyspiritstamford.org.

To purchase tickets online, https://www.eventbrite.com/e/faustina-messenger-of-divine-mercy-tickets-21649470148

Watch the trailer and learn more at www.DivineMercyDrama.com


Ave Maria School of Law Welcomes Bishop Caggiano
| February 25, 2016


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NAPLES, FL—Ave Maria School of Law hosted Bishop Frank J. Caggiano on Monday, February 22, 2016 to present on the topic of “The Challenge of Missionary Discipleship.”


More than 50 law school students and invited guests attended the event in the St. Thomas More Commons building on the Law School’s North Naples campus in the Vineyards.

Ave Maria School of Law Dean and President Kevin Cieply welcomed Bishop Caggiano, while Msgr. Frank McGrath, a priest of the diocese of Bridgeport who is serving as law school chaplain, led the opening prayer.

The Bishop told those in attendance that “mercy extends a helping hand” and helps us “to become one with the person we are reaching out to.”

Referring to the Holy Father and the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Bishop said that a person’s “title or status in life” are surrendered in the act of showing mercy toward another.

In his writings, the Pope has said that the “shepherd must take on the smell of the sheep,” the Bishop said, and that only happens with the one-on-one contact when we reach out to another person in mercy and love.

Mercy is the ultimate “welcoming act” because it reaches out to all those in the world who are in the shadows or often invisible because of their plight or suffering.

Following the talk, the Bishop fielded questions from Ave Maria School of Law students and guests. The reception was hosted by Connie and Vinny Von Zwehl of St. Pius X Parish, Fairfield, who also reside in Naples, Florida. The Bishop’s visit to Florida was part of his annual “Snowbirds” trip to ask for the support of families who maintain homes in Florida as well as in Fairfield County.

The Law School was founded in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1999 and in 2009 relocated to Naples, Florida. It offers a rigorous legal education characterized by a commitment to professional excellence, the highest ethical and moral standards, and the integration of the Catholic intellectual tradition.

Ave Maria School of Law was named the best Catholic Law School in the United States for the devout by The National Jurist’s PreLaw Magazine, winter 2014 issue. The Princeton Review named Ave Maria as one of the nation's most outstanding law schools in the 2015 edition of its annual book, "The Best 169 Law Schools.” The Law School was also ranked number one on the “Most Conservative Students” list in the book. Ave Maria School of Law is licensed by the Florida Commission for Independent Education, License Number 4007 and is fully accredited by the American Bar Association.

Since opening, Ave Maria has enrolled students from 49 states and abroad and from more than 200 colleges and universities. Alumni of the Law School are now practicing law in more than 40 states and several other countries. For information: www.avemarialaw.edu


White Mass THIS SUNDAY
| February 24, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Sister Maureen McGuire, DC, executive vice president of Mission Integration of Ascension Health, will be the featured speaker at the 23nd annual White Mass breakfast set for Sunday, March 6, at 9:30 am at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.


"In God’s Image and Likeness" will be the topic of Sister Maureen's talk at the breakfast gathering that follows the White Mass. Her talk will explore the "spirituality and vocation of caregiving."

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the principal celebrant and homilist at the Mass, which honors healthcare professionals throughout the diocese. Breakfast will follow at Testo’s Restaurant in Bridgeport.

“In her role, Sister Maureen provides leadership in creating strategy and initiatives in mission and values integration, workplace spirituality, ethics, leadership formation and spiritual care,” said Bishop Caggiano. “Her work supports the efforts of the health ministry in continuing the healing mission of Jesus and we welcome her thoughts on the many challenges faced by Catholic healthcare providers.”

Ascension Health is the sponsor of St. Vincent’s Health Services and St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport.

During the White Mass, two area healthcare professionals will be presented the Father Rufin Compassionate Care Award. The recipients, to be announced on March 6, are traditionally drawn from the ranks of physicians, nurses, dentists, healthcare workers or healthcare volunteers in Fairfield County who exemplify the compassionate and loving care for the sick for which the late Father Rufin Kuveikis, a Capuchin Franciscan and chaplain at Norwalk Hospital for 18 years. He died in 2008 at age 86.

Immediately prior to joining the senior leadership team of Ascension Health in 2002, Sister Maureen McGuire served as vice president of Service Culture Development for the Catholic Health System (CHS) of Western New York in Buffalo, and concurrently as vice president of Mission Integration for Mount St. Mary’s Hospital and Health Center in Lewiston, N.Y. She also had served as vice president of Mission Integration for Sisters of Charity Hospital in Buffalo, N.Y., and participated in the early formation of CHS while in that role.

Before entering the healthcare ministry, Sister Maureen held various leadership and direct service roles in professional social work. She began as a caseworker and counselor in child welfare and mental health settings in Philadelphia, Penn. She served as a supervisor at the Family Life Bureau of the Diocese of Allentown in two large rural counties, where she initiated programs of lay formation in 84 parishes preparing married couples to serve as facilitators of programs for engaged couples.  

She then assumed a leadership role as part of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany, N.Y., serving as executive director of Catholic Family and Community Services in two counties. In this capacity she worked with an interfaith local board to develop a wide variety of community-based services. In 1992, she initiated the Nazareth Residence for Mothers and Children in Roxbury, Mass., one of the first transitional housing programs in the nation for homeless women and children affected by HIV/AIDS.

Sister Maureen served for six years as seminary directress of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul, working with the new members of the community and developing the interprovincial formation program for the five U.S. provinces.

Sister Maureen earned her bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, from St. Joseph College in Emmitsburg, Md., and received her master’s of social work from Temple University in Philadelphia in 1977.
 
(All healthcare workers and their guests are invited to attend the White Mass. The Mass is also open to the general public. To make a reservation for breakfast at Testo’s ($35/person), contact Janet Davis: 203.416.1636
or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)


Catholic Relief Services Special Collection on March 5th and 6th
| February 24, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—CRS carries out the commitment of the Bishops of the United States to assist the poor and vulnerable around the world. As part of the universal mission of the Church, CRS works with Catholic institutions to assist people on the basis of need, not creed, race or nationality.


Currently, much of CRS's work is in the Middle East providing refugees with food, water, access to sanitation and medical care.

Please be generous with your financial support and prayers. This collection is supported by the Order of Malta, the Knights of Columbus and the Order of the Holy Sepulcher.

Please click here for more info.


Trinity Catholic High School Introduces St. Thomas Aquinas Scholars Program Beginning Fall 2016
| February 23, 2016


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STAMFORD—Trinity Catholic High School is excited to announce its new St. Thomas Aquinas Scholars Program beginning with its Fall 2016 semester.


The Scholars Program will combine accelerated academics with cultural enrichment and leadership development.

Incoming freshman students’ performances on the school’s entrance examination as well as their academic record qualify them for placement in the program.  Students accepted as St. Thomas Aquinas Scholars will undertake a challenging honors curriculum, leading to Advanced Placement courses beginning in their sophomore year at Trinity Catholic. Students in the Program will have the opportunity to enroll in up to ten AP courses, as well as additional on-line courses, throughout their high school experience/career. This will give students the chance to earn college credits while in high school and will serve as excellent preparation for undergraduate academic work.

The new Scholars Program will also feature monthly cultural and leadership opportunities. “The new St. Thomas Aquinas Scholars Program at Trinity Catholic High School will provide not only accelerated learning, advanced placement coursework and college credit opportunities, but also monthly cultural enrichment including exposure to theater, architecture and museums via educational visits to major regional cities such as Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Boston and New York City.” said Dr. Joseph Gerics, principal. “The new program has been in the planning stages for many months now and we hope incoming freshman students and their families are as excited about all the program has to offer as we are.”

The new Scholars Program will also offer students ongoing leadership training opportunities, including presentations by prominent alumni and community leaders.


Bishop challenges Catholics to combat 'ugly tide of anti-Islamic bigotry'
| February 23, 2016 • by By Denis Grasska, Catholic News Service


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SAN DIEGO—San Diego Bishop Robert W. McElroy is challenging U.S. Catholics to take an active role in combating "the scourge of anti-Islamic prejudice."


"We are witnessing in the United States a new nativism, which the American Catholic community must reject and label for the religious bigotry which it is," he said in a keynote address delivered February 17 in the University of San Diego's Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice.

The evening event took place against the backdrop of the first national Catholic-Muslim dialogue, which was held February 17-18 at the Catholic university.

Last May, after more than 20 years of regional dialogues with representatives of the U.S. Muslim community, the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops established a national Catholic-Muslim dialogue. Motivated by the call of "Nostra Aetate," the Second Vatican Council's declaration on the relationship between the Catholic Church and non-Catholic faiths, the dialogue seeks to foster understanding and collaboration between Catholics and Muslims. Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich has been named its first Catholic co-chairman.

In addition to Bishop McElroy's speech, the evening also featured a keynote speech by Sayyid M. Syeed, national director of the Islamic Society of North America's Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances, who reflected on the state of Catholic-Muslim relations from the Muslim perspective.

A discussion with both men was conducted on stage by Ami Carpenter, an associate professor at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, with members of the audience invited to ask questions.

In his remarks, Bishop McElroy exhorted Catholics "to recognize and confront the ugly tide of anti-Islamic bigotry" in the United States, to actively seek relationships with Muslims on a personal level, to accompany the Muslim community as it wrestles with religious liberty issues, and to join with them "to witness to and fight for" a Middle East where Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities can coexist peacefully.

Bishop McElroy said U.S. Catholics should view with repugnance the "repeated falsehoods" that Islam is inherently violent, that Muslims seek to supplant the U.S. Constitution with sharia law, and that Muslim immigration threatens "the cultural identity of the American people." Such claims, he said, are strikingly reminiscent of the anti-Catholic bigotry that was once prevalent in the United States.

However, the bishop's denunciation of prejudice does not signify a denial of the reality of terrorism. "I want to underscore that it is not bigotry to fear or to combat the violence and terror which some Muslims in the world have unleashed in the name of faith," he explained, while acknowledging that some Christians also have attempted to use their faith to justify acts of violence.

Bishop McElroy also challenged U.S. Catholics to overcome the "patterns of social segregation" that lead them to associate almost exclusively with people from similar backgrounds. Because of this trend, he said, many Americans do not have a significant friendship with a single member of the Muslim faith.

"Religious bigotry thrives in an environment of social isolation," he said. "Encounter, which leads to friendship and, thus, deeper understanding, is the most important antidote to prejudice and bigotry." Through such encounters, he said, Catholics may take inspiration from the rich spirituality of the Muslim people, which includes the centrality of daily prayer, a commitment to asceticism and an understanding of "the immensity and the richness" of divine mercy.

Bishop McElroy reflected on the development of Catholic doctrine on the subject of religious freedom and noted that it was once suggested that, "in a (John F.) Kennedy presidency, it would be the pope who would ultimately govern the United States." He said Catholics must speak out against "distortions of Muslim theology and teaching on society and the state, because these distortions are just as devastating in the present day as the distortions of Catholic teaching ... which were disseminated in American society in the 19th century."

He encouraged Catholics "to walk with the Muslim community" as it reflects upon issues of religious liberty and the relationship between church and state.

Before concluding his presentation, Bishop McElroy issued one last challenge: Catholics and Muslims should work together toward a peaceful future and an end to religious conflict. Praising Islam's respect for "the peoples of the Book"—its term for adherents of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, each of which trace their lineage back to the patriarch Abraham—the bishop acknowledged the fear and grief that has been caused by religious violence worldwide.

He called it "a terrible wound to the Christian community" that Christians in the Middle East are facing "extinction" in a region that has been there home for more than a millennium, while it is "a great tragedy for the Muslim community" to see Muslim refugees denied safe haven in Europe.

"This final challenge to the Catholic community in the United States," Bishop McElroy said, "is in reality a challenge to both the Catholic and Muslim communities to walk in solidarity, witnessing, strategizing and advancing public policy within the U.S. and within the Muslim world to forge a secure future for all of the 'peoples of the Book' in the Middle East and throughout the world."

In his own keynote presentation, Syeed noted that the first millennium was marked by positive relations between Christianity and Islam, but that changed in the millennium that followed, which included the Crusades.

"The long stretch of endless confrontation between the two faiths divided the world into a 'house of Islam' and a 'house of Christianity,'" he said. "Such a division ... helped to establish mutually destructive attitudes and stereotypes that shaped our respective cultures and formed our individual consciences for centuries."

But "a new era of understanding and recognition" dawned during the latter half of the 20th century, he said. "Nostra Aetate" was instrumental in bringing an end to "the millennium of confrontation between Islam and Christianity." This improved relationship, he said, also has coincided with the emergence of a "vibrant Muslim community" in the West.

Unfortunately, said Syeed, the Islamic State terrorist group has reintroduced "the terminology of (the) Crusades era." It identifies Christians as "crusaders" rather "people of the Book." The "antidote" to the Islamic State philosophy, he said, comes through robust Catholic-Muslim dialogue as well as the lived experience of Muslims in the West.

He specifically cited his own organization, the Islamic Society of North America, whose members have lived peacefully among American Christians for more than 50 years. Living in a pluralistic society has encouraged American Muslims to re-examine the original sources of Islam and to reconsider some conventions that were adopted centuries later.

For instance, while women are prohibited from driving cars in Saudi Arabia, Syeed explained, many American Muslims have taken a different view on the subject, citing Muhammad's own exhortation that parents train their sons and daughters to be good camel-drivers and applying that directive to modern-day modes of transportation.

"'Nostra Aetate' and the Islamic practices of American Muslims have thoroughly identified natural allies between the Abrahamic faiths and other religious communities," he said. "This is the shape of a new millennium of alliance-building for common values of mutual respect and recognition.

"All faiths are striving to promote those divine values enshrined in our sacred texts and scriptures," he continued, "so that those who exploit them for reinforcing hate, extremism, violence and instability are identified as the enemies of all faiths."

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Grasska is assistant editor of The Southern Cross, newspaper of the Diocese of San Diego.