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“IT” happens “everywhere-but-here”
| July 16, 2016


Only, now… it HAS OUR our little corner of at Saint the parish where I live and serve as pastor.

I have been here for almost 19 years and have many times raised a prayer of thanksgiving that violence and vandalism have not forced their way into the life and home of our faith communities as it has “elsewhere.”

That is no longer the case. But let’s keep it in perspective:

  • No one was injured by the events that happened here on 13 July.
  • The monetary value of damage to masonry, electrical systems, and statuary – relatively minor – is insignificant in comparison with the loss of human life – and completely covered by insurance that all Catholic institutions are required to have.
  • Various aspects of the way that the damage was done hint at much deeper psychological issues that must be addressed, not only for this individual perpetrator, but for a much wider population.
  • The worst of this event is a sense of being violated somehow in something or someone that we hold sacred and beloved.

Consider the following items that have recently dominated the news:

  • Debates about the regulation of firearms
  • Incidents in Sandy Hook, Aurora, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Baton Rouge, Dallas, Nice and elsewhere
  • Heightened interracial and immigrational tensions – even while the Westport-Weston-Norwalk religious communities rejoice to welcome and provide for a Syrian refugee family
  • Repeated reports about how people can be bullied and demeaned by various “social” media to the point of desperation
  • Suicides among our people: teens, police officers and any of our neighbors
  • The political climate, especially in a presidential election year
  • Reports about how 80% of people admit to participating in incidents of “road rage” (CBS Newsradio, 14 July 2016)
  • (fill in your own blank about how any one person or group is treating another with contempt or anger for any reason of being “different” or “unworthy”).

I submit for our consideration, dear neighbors, that too much of our energy – collective and individual, national and local, emotional and psychological is – as the Scriptures say – spent on straining at the gnat while swallowing the camel. In other words, we are wasting a HELL of a lot of energy and bringing a HELLISH existence upon ourselves because we are ever trying to swat at the symptoms while avoiding the core disease and question: what are the angers and the frustrations and the sense of helplessness and powerlessness that are boiling up within people driving them to act-out in destructive ways? More importantly: how must each of us bear a share of the responsibility for that? Because every human being does so.

A colleague of mine from many years ago and now in the next life, once spoke in a completely different context to reflect on the image of watching intently the pot of water that his grandmother placed on the stove to cook the pasta for their weekly Sunday Italian dinner. At the very beginning, there was nothing. Then, barely visible currents of warm water could be seen interacting with the colder water. I’ve since learned that those barely visible currents – like plumes of clear heat rising from our chimneys into the cold air of the winter – are called “schlerins.” Then, little by little, tiny bubbles of steam would form on the bottom. One bubble would nudge up against another bubble and combine to make a bigger one...again and again and again. Bubbles would begin to rise to the surface, one by one, until the whole pot would suddenly break into a FURIOUS full-rolling boil.

Beginning as neighbors on our streets and in our schools and workplaces and towns – as families around our dining room tables – we need to become aware of and address the schlerins – what are the subtle unnoticed currents of “hot” and “cold” in our community, silently and invisibly clashing with one another? What are the stresses and the pressures that we place upon ourselves – and one another – that will lead first to small and then ever-growing bubbles of emotional steam to become full rolling boils of anger, hatred, addiction, desperation, and fear?

I’m not wise enough to have a magic “one-size-fits-all” answer, and surely a psychotic episode cannot be put on a par with other ways of acting out and seeking relief. But I firmly believe nonetheless that each of us – however old or young, privileged and advantaged or less so, whatever our cultural background – has it within us to make choices every day to turn down the heat with and for one another –however modestly so.

Can we? Will we?

Monsignor Andy Varga
Pastor, Saint Luke Church, Westport CT

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



Our Young Adult Open Gym night, held every Tuesday in St. Joseph School gym from 8-10 p.m., draws many college guys home for the summer, along with the senior high school students and young working guys in their twenties who turn out regularly for the pickup basketball games. Last Tuesday there were 15 young men there, largely ages 16 to 24, most of whom I knew from St. Joseph Parish or School.

argely ages 16 to 24, most of whom I knew from St. Joseph Parish or School. I like to sit and observe the action for a while from the edge of the stage, chatting with the different guys as they rotate in and out. It helps me keep in touch with our young parishioners.

As every study shows, the percentage of Americans claiming no specific religious affiliation is significantly growing, even when they still believe in God and Jesus Christ. And across all faith and denominational lines, the religious practice of the Millennials and Gen-Xers is much less church- and parish-based than for the Boomers and the Great Generation. Any Church community looking to the future, therefore, has to ask itself: are we reaching out to our young people where they are, not where we are?  If that means opening up a gym once a week, we as a parish are all for it!
– Monsignor Chris Walsh

A Joyous Week Around the Diocese
| October 21, 2016


BRIDGEPORT— Last weekend was a time for good spirits and joy in the diocese. On Sunday Bishop Frank Caggiano cut the ribbon on the new addition to the Catherine Dennis Keefe, Queen of Clergy Residence in Stamford. You can see the joy on the faces of senior priests on the cover of this month's issue of Fairfield County Catholic.

It was also a winning weekend for Foundations in Education when Lynn and Frank Mara hosted a fund raiser in their Greenwich home to build support for Catholic education. Last but not least, hundreds filled St. Augustine Cathedral for the annual presentation of the St. Augustine Medals of service to men and women throughout the diocese. The Medal ceremony is always one of the happiest days of the year in the diocese. This year more than 160 were recognized for the depths of their faith and concerns for others. It's all here in this week's video. Please take a look!

Are you a sports trivia expert? Or do you just think you are?
| October 20, 2016


Click here for the registration form

Bridgeport, CT -- Sports fans do you really know sports? Test out your knowledge on October 24th when you and your team compete against other teams of sports fanatics during the 8th Annual “Stump the Schwab” competition to benefit the Cardinal Shehan Center’s After School & Saturday Program.

This will be an exciting contest between teams of self-named, sports-trivia buffs who will go head-to-head answering sport questions drafted by the moderator, Howie Schwab, formerly of ESPN. This is the ideal contest to challenge your knowledge of all things sports. Put together a team of five friends or family members and challenge another team to find out who can truly call themselves sports trivia experts! Challenge a team of colleagues for bragging rights at the office.

If your team gets stumped you can purchase a mulligan for a second chance to stay in the contest and continue to compete for the title. The contest will take place at Cast Iron Chop House (formerly Marissa’s Ristorante) at 6540 Main Street, Trumbull, CT. Team check-in is 5:30 p.m. and dinner will immediately follow. Game tip-off is 6:30 p.m.

To register teams or for sponsorship information contact Katie O’Leary at 203-336-4468 or at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The registration form can also be found on the Cardinal Shehan Center website at


About the Cardinal Shehan Center
Founded in 1962 and located at 1494 Main Street, Bridgeport, the Cardinal Shehan Center’s mission is to enrich the lives of youth through learning. The Cardinal Shehan Center has a rich tradition of offering Bridgeport area youth a clean, safe environment with opportunities to grow intellectually and physically; to become responsible, caring members of their community; to build independence and to develop a sense of belonging. The Shehan Center offers a variety of programs for 4000 youth annually including an After School and Saturday Program, basketball leagues, a Summer Day Camp and Physical Education classes to local schools. In addition, the Shehan Center offers tutoring as well as other enrichment programs and experiences such as JWC Girls Zone Program, Leadership Program, Counselor in Training program, sailing, karate, swimming, dance, art, cooking, gardening, bee keeping, rugby and more. Call (203)336-4468 or visit for more information.

St. Catherine of Siena: A Woman for Our Times
| October 20, 2016


FAIRFIELD—Fairfield University’s Center for Catholic Studies presents Sister Nancy Murray, OP in a one-woman performance of St. Catherine of Siena: A Woman for Our Times, on Wednesday, November 9 at 7:30 pm. The performance will take place in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room. The 2016 Catholicism and the Arts “Lecture” is free and open to the public.

Dominican Sister Nancy Murray, OP, will bring to life the 14th century saint, Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church, using simple props, and with an Italian accent and traditional Dominican habit. Sister Nancy will dramatize vignettes of the life and times of the strong and passionate St. Catherine, including her childhood and influence on political and church leaders.

Transforming herself into St. Catherine of Siena, Sr. Nancy has educated audiences of all ages on five continents and in several languages, about the patroness of the Dominican Order, her devotion to and love for God and her message about God’s love for all. In this “new form of preaching” as she describes it, Sister Nancy combines her degree in theatre, her pastoral skills, talent and experience as a member of the Order of Preachers.

Sister Nancy describes St Catherine’s life as “thoroughly medieval and surprisingly modern.” St Catherine, originally known as Caterina Benincasa, was the 24th child born to her family in Siena Italy in 1347. She later became a lay member of the Dominican Order. Catherine was a nurse and a mystic; she cared for the sick, the poor, and provided spiritual direction to men and women in search of God. She was one of the most influential women of her time and visited with and wrote to popes and princes on social, political and religious issues and is credited with influencing Catholic leaders to end the Avignon papacy and return the leadership to Rome. Though she lacked formal education, Catherine is known for her many letters sent to men and women of all walks of life. The letters, filled with wisdom and spiritual guidance, were the fruit of her personal relationship with God. Catherine is best remembered for "The Dialogue," which contains the intimate conversations or prayers that she and God shared with each other. Catherine died in 1380 at age 33.

Nancy Murray grew up in Wilmette, Illinois, one of nine children in the talented Murray family. After high school and a one-year stint at Rotary International, she joined the Adrian Dominican Sisters. She earned a Theater Degree and a Masters Degree in Pastoral Studies, and has worked tirelessly as a teacher of countless students of every age. She is most passionate about the inner city work she did for 15 years at a Latino and African American parish in Chicago.

The Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University was established in 2005 in part to present programming for and outreach to the local community, especially but not exclusively the local Catholic community. The Center works to promote an understanding and appreciation of the Catholic intellectual tradition on campus, and supports the academic component of "mission and identity" education and programming at Fairfield. The Center also administers a Fairfield undergraduate interdisciplinary academic minor program in Catholic Studies.

Immaculate High School Scholarship Fundraiser Breakfast
| October 19, 2016


DANBURY—Sister Clare Fitzgerald, SSND was the keynote speaker at Immaculate High School's first Annual Scholarship Breakfast. She shared her experiences of visiting and working with Catholic school students of all ages and locations, the need for kindness and justice more than ever in today's world.

She explained that a Catholic school education positively instills perseverance, humility, community service and strong faith; a mission that has a tremendous impact on today's youth and our future. "Catholic school students will change the world with their diplomas in their hands; by helping fund Catholic school education, you are helping students on their journey to God," she said.

Sister Clare, a prominent motivational speaker and educator, received the National Catholic Educational Association's highest commendation for distinguished service to Catholic Education and the Church three times, and in 1994 she received the prestigious William H. Sadlier Dinger Award for Distinguished Contributions to Catholic Education and Leadership, among other honors. She has taught all levels of education and is an international lecturer on Catholic Education. Sister Clare was Chair of the American Studies Department at Fairfield University and a founding Director of the Catholic Leadership Program, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, at Boston College. She has earned four PhDs and travels the world extensively.

Also addressing the attendees was Immaculate High School graduate Isaiah McCorkle '12, who spoke from the heart about how his scholarship allowed him to attend IHS and live up to his full potential, securing the path to his future goals of earning advanced degrees in social work and ministry. During his speech, he said that his mother wanted a better life for him and his brother, so without a plan or resources they came to Immaculate High School with high hopes; thanks to a similar fund, the brothers were able to attend, succeed and achieve their dreams to make a difference in our world.

"The purpose of our first Annual Scholarship Breakfast is to assist the growing number of deserving students who benefit for our Catholic education environment but whose parents struggle to meet their tuition obligations due to a hardship or low-income," said Debbie Basile, IHS Director of Advancement. "Many of our students have been able to attend Immaculate High School thanks to the Adopt-A-Mustang Program. Each and every recipient is truly appreciative of the support and make the donor's investment worthwhile," she added. President Mary Maloney shared that "Maintaining a school community that is essential for good friendships, for reinforcing faith and morals, and strengthening opportunities for students to know, love, and serve God is what Immaculate is all about. By supporting the Adopt-A-Mustang program, you are giving students of families who may not otherwise consider Immaculate, a choice."

Immaculate High School's first ever Annual Scholarship Breakfast raised $15,000 for its Adopt-A-Mustang Fund on Friday. The Fund provides assistance to a growing number of deserving students whose families are in financial need as a result of authentic hardship. Over 150 supporters came bright and early to the Amber Room Colonnade in Danbury on Friday, October 14 to support the Adopt-A-Mustang cause.  Specialty sponsors included the Law Offices of Lawrence M. Riefberg, LLC (Orange Juice Sponsor); Wilshire Real Estate Advisors, LLC (Coffee/Tea Sponsor) and Westchester Modular Homes (Scramble Egg Sponsor). Table Sponsors included Immaculate High School, Maura Melody, Mustang All Sports Club, Bob and Sue Nolan '71, JoAnne Price '66, Rose and Kiernan Insurance, Inc., Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, Saint Rose of Lima Church, Union Savings Bank, and Western Connecticut State University.

To donate to Immaculate High School's Adopt-A-Mustang Program, or for more information, go online at

Immaculate High School is a private Catholic college-preparatory institution serving students from 28 communities in Connecticut and New York. Founded in 1962, Immaculate High School also allows students to focus on their spiritual development, personal moral commitments and service to others.  Located in Danbury, CT, Immaculate High School is part of the Diocese of Bridgeport's parochial school system.

Reversing the mission
| October 18, 2016


WATERFORD, Ireland—The Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus launched a new mission in Waterford, Ireland this August. In reflecting on the sacrifices religious priests, sisters and brothers made in coming to the United States as missionaries, the Apostles felt it only fitting to return this gesture in some small way.

Sister John Catherine Coleman, Sister Colleen Mattingly and Sister Kathryn Press opened the Ireland mission. The current focus of their ministry is supporting the people through various forms of pastoral ministry.

Sister John Catherine Coleman, who served as principal at St. Raphael School in the Bridgeport Diocese in the late 60s-early 70s, reflected on her initial experience in Waterford. “We feel blessed to have been invited to the Diocese of Waterford and Linsmore by Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan. Before beginning our formal ministry we’ve visited local parishes and met our neighbors. We have received a most warm welcome from the people of Waterford.”

The times may well differ in terms of the challenges that both Irish and American missionaries have met in going to lands other than their own, but the spirit of the missionary remains the same. The missionary goes with all her heart in the hope of making Christ better known and loved. She does not take on this task alone, for Christ and all her sisters go with her in spirit.

These new missionaries look forward to what awaits them in the days ahead. They have settled into a house provided by the diocese, but what God has in store for them will be revealed one day at a time.

Click here for brochure

St. Mary Catholic Scouting Diaper Drive
| October 18, 2016


RIDGEFIELD—The St. Mary Catholic Scouts of Ridgefield hosted a Diaper Drive outside of their local Stop & Shop on October 9. The response was amazing. Scouts handed out a small list of items and invited shoppers to add a much needed baby item on to their grocery list and then deposit it in the Pack n Play on their way out of the store.

Jennifer Mitchell, St. Mary Catholic Scouting coordinator shared “The scouts were nervous at first, but when they saw customers bring out packages of diapers and wipes within minutes of their request, they got to witness firsthand what a small act of love can accomplish. Their self confidence grew as did the love of their efforts.”
In one day the Scouts collected 72 rice cereal meals, 1554 4-oz bottles of formula, over 40 bottles, 36 tubes of diaper cream, 285 packs of wipes and 7,317 diapers. The recipients of the Diaper Drive will be Birthright in Danbury and Malta House in Norwalk.  
St. Mary Catholic Scouting is an outreach of the St. Mary Parish religious education program. The mission of St. Mary Catholic Scouting (SMCS) is to enrich existing Scouting programs with our Catholic faith and service.  St. Mary Catholic Scouts is open to all scouts, including but not limited to Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, American Heritage Girls and Little Flowers. This mission is completed through offering faith-based patches and emblems, created by the National Catholic Committee on Scouting and other Catholic scouting groups, to Catholic Scouts. SMCS launched its first patch this October in honor of Respect Life month. The Scouts who have earned their patch learn about the sacredness of life, from conception until natural death, in an age appropriate way. The Diaper Drive was the service project associated with earning that patch.
To learn more about St. Mary Catholic Scouting, visit

Painting for a Purpose
| October 18, 2016


NORWALK—Knights of Columbus St. Matthew Council 14360 in Norwalk continued their strong relationship with Malta House on October 8 when some Brother Knights did some more painting at the facility and plans are in the works to continue more work in January.

“Working with Malta House is a strong Catholic bond that continues to strengthen every day. Those that are there are working to get their lives back on track and when they see that their temporary home continues to be refreshed, they are refreshed”, said Grand Knight Scott Criscuolo.
“It is always rewarding to help out Malta House when we can,” said Past Grand Knight and project chairman George Ribellino. “The work they do on a limited budget is second to none and it is an honor to help out in a small way,” said Ribellino.

In the past, the council has donated funds for new mattresses, remodeled the nursery, laid tile and painted bedrooms, the common room and the kitchen.  

The vision for Malta House a 501 C3 Non-profit began in 1995, when Michael O’Rourke learned there was no room for many homeless pregnant women and their newborns. The 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. They provide a nurturing home environment, support service. See for more information.

The goals of the Knights of Columbus Council at Saint Matthew Church in Norwalk is to perform acts of charity. Providing those in need with a range of support from financial to tactical help in dealing with a wide variety of challenges, the council members work together to foster the founding principles of their order: charity, unity, fraternity and and independent living skills to pregnant and parenting mothers and their children. For more information, go to

Saluting' Mothers of the Parish
| October 18, 2016


STAMFORD—The Stamford District Council of Catholic Women held their annual Mothers of the Parish presentation on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima on October 13 at Sacred Heart Parish.

Father Matthew Mauriello, diocesan CCW moderator and Chaplain at St. Camillus Nursing Home in Stamford, presided over the service.

Mother of Parish Recipients: Cecilia Taborda from St. Benedict/Our Lady
of Montserret Parish; Patricia Umile, St Mary Parish; Barbara Cerulli,
Sacred Heart Parish; Jenn La Greca, St Bridget of Ireland Parish; Priests:
Rev Gustavo Falla St Benedict/OLofM and St Mary Parishes; Rev Matthew
Mauriello; Rev Alfonso Picone Sacred Heart Parish; Deacon Ernie Jeffers
St Bridget of Ireland Parish

The program was dedicated to the memory of the late Marie Walsh, past president of the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, friend of Catholic Charities and faithful parishioner of St Mary Parish in Stamford, who passed away in January 2012.

2016 Saint Augustine Medal Recipients
| October 15, 2016


2016 Saint Augustine Medal Recipients:

Saint Mary Parish, Bethel: Mr. & Mrs. James Kelly
Nominated by Reverend Corey V. Piccinino

Saint Mary School, Bethel: Mr. Richard Schlemmer
Nominated by Mr. Gregory Viceroy, Principal

Blessed Sacrament Parish, Bridgeport: Ms. Karen Soares-Robinson and Ms. Jackie SoaresNominated by Reverend Joseph J. Karcsinski, III

Catholic Charities, Bridgeport: Ms. Louise Gidez
Nominated by Mr. Al Barber

Catholic Charities, Bridgeport: Mr. John Gleckler
Nominated by Mr. Al Barber

Catholic Charities, Bridgeport: Ms. Marilyn Hart
Nominated by Mr. Al Barber

Development, Bridgeport: Mr. & Mrs.Vincent Von Zwehl
Nominated by Mr. William McLean

Saint Andrew Parish, Bridgeport: Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Foldy
Nominated by Reverend Eugene R. Szantyr

Saint Andrew Parish, Our Lady of Good Counsel
Chapel, Bridgeport: Mr. & Mrs. Christopher Elsberry
Nominated by Reverend Eugene R. Szantyr

Saint Ann Parish, Bridgeport: Mr. & Mrs. Jack Calcutt
Nominated by Reverend Peter J. Lynch

Saint Mary Parish, Bridgeport: Mr. & Mrs. Nemesio Febo
Nominated by Reverend Rolando Torres

Saint Michael the Archangel Parish, Bridgeport: Ms. Teresa Mierzejewska
Nominated by Reverend Michael A. Nowak, O.F.M. Conv.

Saint Peter Parish, Bridgeport: Mr. & Mrs. Igdalia Olivera
Nominated by Reverend Jose Rebaque, S.A.C.

Immaculate High School, Danbury: Mr. Gerry Hatcher
Nominated by Mrs. Mary Maloney, President

Immaculate High School, Danbury: Mrs. Marianne Fahey
Nominated by Mrs. Mary Maloney, President

Sacred Heart Parish, Danbury: Mr. Roger Palanzo
Nominated by Reverend Peter J. Towsley

Saint Gregory the Great School, Danbury: Mr. & Mrs. Wayne Blackman
Nominated by Mrs. Suzanne Curra, Principal

Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Danbury: Ms. Emilia Costa
Nominated by Reverend Jose Brito-Martins

Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Danbury: Mr. Juan Genobeba Farfan
Nominated by Reverend John J. Perez

Saint John Parish, Darien: Ms. Patricia Broderick
Nominated by Reverend Francis T. Hoffmann

Saint Thomas More Parish, Darien: Ms. Karen Casey
Nominated by Reverend Paul G. Murphy

Notre Dame Catholic High School, Fairfield: Mrs. Debra Tietjen
Nominated by Mr. Christopher Cipriano, Principal

Saint Anthony of Padua Parish, Fairfield: Mr. Anthony DeMattia
Nominated by Reverend John P. Baran

Saint Catherine Center for Special Needs, Fairfield: Mrs. Gina Barber
Nominated by Mrs. Helen Burland, Principal

Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, Fairfield: Mr. Thomas Browne Jr., posthummously
Nominated by Reverend Peter Cipriani

Sacred Heart Parish, Georgetown: Mr. Robert Constantine
Nominated by Reverend David C. Leopold

Greenwich Catholic School, Greenwich: Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Sama
Nominated by Mrs. Patrice Kopas, Principal

Sacred Heart Parish, Greenwich: Mr. Donald Mohr
Nominated by Reverend Bose R. Selvaraj

Saint Paul Parish, Greenwich: Mr. Joseph DeMarkey
Nominated by Reverend Leszek Szymaszek

Saint Jude Parish, Monroe: Ms. Lorraine Costello
Nominated by Reverend Monsignor Dariusz J. Zielonka

Saint Jude School, Monroe: Mr. & Mrs. Maximillian Aulet
Nominated by Dr. Patrick Higgins, Principal

Saint Ladislaus Parish, Norwalk: Mr. & Mrs. James Forcier
Nominated by Reverend Juan G. Acosta

Saint Mary Parish, Norwalk: Mr. John Pia
Nominated by Reverend Richard G. Cipolla

Saint Mary Parish, Ridgefield: Mr. John Spera
Nominated by Reverend Monsignor Laurence R. Bronkiewicz, S.T.D.

Saint Mary School, Ridgefield: Mr. & Mrs. Daniel O’Brien
Nominated by Mrs. Anna O’Rourke, Principal

Saint Catherine of Siena Parish, Riverside: Mr. & Mrs. Anthony Murljacic
Nominated by Reverend Monsignor Alan F. Detscher, S.L.D.

Saint Aloysius School, New Canaan: Ms. Jennifer Manley
Nominated by Mr. Bardhyl Gjoka, Principal

Saint Lawrence Parish, Shelton: Ms. Micheline Hope
Nominated by Reverend Michael K. Jones, S.T.D.

Saint Lawrence School, Shelton: Mr. & Mrs. John Fahey
Nominated by Dr. Gail Kingston, Principal

Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque Parish, Shelton: Mr. & Mrs. Don Opatrny
Nominated by Reverend Ciprian Bejan

Basilica of Saint John the Evangelist Parish, Stamford: Mr. Frank Carpanzano
Nominated by Reverend Monsignor Stephen M. DiGiovanni

Holy Name of Jesus Parish, Stamford: Mr. John Kulowiec
Nominated by Reverend Pawel Hrebenko

Holy Spirit Parish, Stamford: Mr. & Mrs. Chandra Raj Ramachandran
Nominated by Reverend Monsignor Kevin T. Royal

Holy Trinity Parish, Stamford: Ms. Kathryn Heslin
Nominated by Reverend Richard J. Gemza

Sacred Heart Parish, Stamford: Mr. Thomas Schmalzl
Nominated by Reverend Alfonso Picone

Saint Benedict - Our Lady of Montserrat Parish, Stamford: Mr. & Mrs. Ismael Villeda
Nominated by Reverend Gustavo A. Falla

Saint Mary Parish, Stamford: Ms. Alda Braccia
Nominated by Reverend Gustavo A. Falla

Saint Clement Parish, Stamford: Mr. Allan Jay
Nominated by Reverend Carlos Rodrigues

Saint Gabriel Parish, Stamford: Mrs. Catherine Sheehan
Nominated by Reverend William M. Quinlan

Saint Leo Parish, Stamford: Mr. Peter Ryan
Nominated by Reverend James D. Grosso

Our Lady of Grace Parish, Stratford: Mr. James Farrell
Nominated by Reverend Monsignor Martin P. Ryan

Our Lady of Peace Parish, Stratford: Ms. Janet Gillick
Nominated by Reverend Nicholas F. Pavia

Saint James School, Stratford: Mrs. Mary Fasold
Nominated by Mr. Jack Lynch, Principal

Christ the King Parish, Trumbull: Mr. & Mrs. Michael Plumeau
Nominated by Reverend Lawrence F. Carew

Saint Catherine of Siena Parish, Trumbull: Dr. & Mrs. Anthony Masi
Nominated by Reverend Joseph A. Marcello

Saint Catherine of Siena School, Trumbull: Ms. Elizabeth VanTine
Nominated by Miss Eunice Giaquinto, Principal

Saint Theresa Parish, Trumbull: Mr. & Mrs. John Angiolillo
Nominated by Reverend Brian P. Gannon

Saint Theresa School, Trumbull: Mr. Vito Sabatelli
Nominated by Mr. Salvatore Vittoria, Principal

CAB - St. Augustine Academy, Bridgeport: Gabriel Alvarado
Nominated by Dr. Deborah Boccanfuso, Principal

CAB - St. Ann Academy, Bridgeport: Ms. Dolores Castillo
Nominated by Mrs. Patricia Griffin, Principal

CAB - St. Andrew Academy, Bridgeport: Ms. Gisela Moura
Nominated by Ms. Lori Wilson, Principal

Holy Cross Parish, Fairfield: Ms. Margaret Kuharec
Nominated by Reverend Alfred Pecaric

Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Bridgeport: Ms. Ana Maria Pinho
Nominated by Reverend Jose B. Alves

Kolbe Cathedral High School, Bridgeport: Mr. & Mrs. Albertus van den Broek
Nominated by Mrs. Jo-Anne Jakab, Principal

Saint Roch Parish, Greenwich: Mr. & Mrs. Charles DiSapio
Nominated by Reverend Arthur Mollenhauer

Saint Margaret’s Shrine, Bridgeport: Mr. & Mrs. John Tedesco
Nominated by Reverend Giandomenico M. Flora

Saint George Parish, Bridgeport: Jerman Ahuatl Soto and Maria Sandra Cuateca-Aca
Nominated by Reverend Elio Sosa, IVE

Saint James Parish, Stratford: Ms. Mary Louise Semedo
Nominated by Reverend Thomas F. Lynch

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys Parish, Brookfield: Ms. June Lentini and Ms. Samantha Booth
Nominated by Reverend Shawn W. Cutler

Saint Charles Borromeo Parish, Bridgeport: Mr. Ramon Jimenez
Nominated by Reverend Frank Gomez

Saint Rose of Lima Parish, Newtown: Mr. & Mrs. James Healey
Nominated by Reverend Monsignor Robert E. Weiss

Saint Peter School, Danbury: Mr. & Mrs. Dominick Posca
Nominated by Ms. Anna-Marie Altieri, Principal

Saint Joseph Parish, Brookfield: Mr. Daniel Melillo
Nominated by Reverend George F. O’Neill

The Cathedral Parish, Bridgeport: Ms. Mayra Medina
Nominated by Reverend F. John Ringley, Jr.

The Cathedral Parish, Bridgeport: Ms. Patricia Soto
Nominated by Reverend F. John Ringley, Jr.

Holy Family Parish, Fairfield: Mr. & Mrs. Jason Melaragno
Nominated by Reverend Norman J. Guilbert, Jr.

Saint Joseph School, Danbury: Mr. & Mrs. Rudy Iannetta
Nominated by Mrs. Lisa Lanni, Principal

Saint Joseph Parish, Danbury: Ms. Lydia Biglarderi
Nominated by Reverend Samuel V. Scott

Saint Thomas Aquinas School, Fairfield: Mr. Frank Duffin
Nominated by Ms. Patricia Brady, Principal

Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish, Fairfield: Ms. Carol Mauro
Nominated by Reverend Victor T. Martin

Assumption Catholic School, Fairfield: Mr. & Mrs. Brian Monohan
Nominated by Mr. Steven Santoli, Principal

Saint Agnes Parish, Greenwich: Mr. & Mrs. John Suh
Nominated by Reverend James A. McDevitt

Saint Mary Parish, Greenwich: Ms. Helene Griffin
Nominated by Reverend Cyprian P. LaPastina

Saint Emery Parish, Fairfield: Mr. Michael Kender
Nominated by Reverend Milan Dimic

Saint Aloysius Parish, New Canaan: Mr. & Mrs. Edward Gayer
Nominated by Reverend Monsignor William J. Scheyd, P.A.

Saint Michael the Archangel Parish, Greenwich: Ms. Carol James
Nominated by Reverend Ian M. Jeremiah

Saint Rose of Lima School, Newtown: Mr. & Mrs. Jeff McKenzie
Nominated by Sr. Colleen Smith, ASCJ, Principal

All Saints Catholic School, Norwalk: Ms. Janet Mitchell
Nominated by Mrs. Linda Dunn, Principal

Saint Jerome Parish, Norwalk: Mr. & Mrs. Alex Sqoutas
Nominated by Reverend David W. Blanchfield

Saint Matthew Parish, Norwalk: Ms. Mary Ann Gregg
Nominated by Reverend Monsignor Walter C. Orlowski

Saint Philip Parish, Norwalk: Ms. Ana Camacho
Nominated by Reverend Michael A. Boccaccio

Saint Thomas the Apostle Parish, Norwalk: Mr. Michael Lametta
Nominated by Reverend Miroslaw Stachurski

Saint Thomas the Apostle Parish, Norwalk: Mr. Robert Lametta
Nominated by Reverend Miroslaw Stachurski

Saint Patrick Parish, Redding Ridge: Ms. Joan Marie Bresnahon
Nominated by Reverend Joseph Cervero

Saint Elizabeth Seton Parish, Ridgefield: Mr. Romy Soviero
Nominated by Reverend Joseph A. Prince

Saint Joseph Parish, Shelton: Mr. George Schrade
Nominated by Reverend Michael Dogali

Saint Joseph School, Shelton: Ms. Lorraine Carrano
Nominated by Mr. Stephen Anderson, Principal

Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish, Stamford: Mr. & Mrs. Ryan Day
Nominated by Reverend Peter K. Smolik

Our Lady Star of the Sea School, Stamford: Mr. & Mrs. Grajales
Nominated by Ms. Natalia Cruz, Principal

Holy Spirit School, Stamford: Mr. & Mrs. Joel Aquino
Nominated by Ms. Marianne Licare, Principal

Saint Bridget of Ireland Parish, Stamford: Mr. Daniel Benoit
Nominated by Reverend Edward J. McAuley, Jr.

Saint Cecilia Parish, Stamford: Mr. Lenonard Pensiero
Nominated by Reverend Albert G. Pinciaro, III

Saint Cecilia School, Stamford: Ms. Holly Connolly
Nominated by Ms. Dina Monti, Principal

Saint Maurice Parish, Stamford: Mr. & Mrs. Nicholas DeCamillo
Nominated by Reverend Alfred A. Riendeau

Trinity Catholic Middle School, Stamford: Ms. Vera Cubarrubia
Nominated by Ms. Abbey Camillery, Principal

Holy Name of Jesus Parish, Stamford: Ms. Carol Bogue
Nominated by Reverend Andrew G. Marus

Saint Mark Parish, Stamford: Mr. & Mrs. Alan Grassia
Nominated by Reverend Birendra Soreng

Saint Mark School, Stamford: Ms. Christine Feliciano
Nominated by Mrs. Donna Wuhrer, Principal

Saint Francis of Assisi Parish, Weston: Ms. Gloria Doino
Nominated by Reverend Michael L. Dunn

Saint Joseph High School, Trumbull: Deacon & Mrs. Patrick Toole
Nominated by Dr. James Keane, Principal

Saint Stephen Parish, Trumbull: Mr. Richard Lavelle
Nominated by Reverend Christopher J. Samele

Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Wilton: Ms. Jeannie Rubsam
Nominated by Reverend Reginald D. Norman

Assumption Parish, Westport: Mr. & Mrs. John Shaw
Nominated by Reverend Thomas P. Thorne

Saint Luke Parish, Westport: Mr. Timothy Weiss
Nominated by Reverend Monsignor Andrew G. Varga

Saint Edward the Confessor Parish, New Fairfield: Mr. & Mrs. Richard Godbout
Nominated by Reverend Nicholas A. Cirillo

Saint Joseph School, Brookfield: Mr. & Mrs. Jeff Ross
Nominated by Mr. Scott Bannon, Principal

Saint Peter Parish, Danbury: Ms. Maura Melody
Nominated by Reverend Gregg D. Mecca

Notre Dame of Easton Parish, Easton: Mr. & Mrs. Philip Adriani
Nominated by Reverend Michael P. Lyons

Saint Pius X Parish, Fairfield: Ms. Kimberlie Leon
Nominated by Reverend Samuel S. Kachuba

Saint Joseph Parish Norwalk: Renel Desrosins
Nominated by Reverend Jhon Gomez

Bishop: Medal is an outside sign of what’s already in their hearts
| October 15, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—“Wear this medal with our gratitude and recognition as an outside sign of what is already in your heart and soul. The medal simply allows the world to know that what they see on the outside already exists on the inside,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano to the 160 St. Augustine Medal recipients this afternoon at St. Augustine Cathedral.

Click for a complete list of the 2016 recipients

With the cathedral filled to capacity for Midday Prayer and the award service, Bishop Caggiano said that he was happy to “give voice” to what so many other people already knew about the recipients, that they were “distinguished by mercy, generosity, love, fidelity and witness to Christ” in their concern for others.

On a sparkling October afternoon, friends and family joined by pastors and deacons came forward to stand alongside the recipients as Bishop Caggiano presented the St. Augustine Medal of Service.

They were honored for their selfless service to schools, parishes, Catholic Charities, and other diocesan ministries. Some have spent a lifetime in service to their parishes, while other recipients were young enough to hold newborn and young children in their arms.

Al Barber, President of Catholic Charities called forth the men and women from the pulpit, while Patrick Turner, Director of Pastoral and Strategic Plan, led the congregation in the recitation of psalms and antiphons.

“Thank you for being such remarkable people of faith,” said Bishop Caggiano in his homily.

He told the men and women that their service makes them “missionary disciples” who have answered the call of Pope Francis to be “people of mercy make God’s love concrete in so many ways.”

He said one of the great challenges for the 21st century is the “need to for an army of new leaders to bring the Church to every human heart looking for hope.”

The Bishop also issued a challenge to this year’s medal recipients “to become a Holy Reproach” through their humility and service that will inspire others to “work with you side by side and hand in hand to renew the earth.”

Noting that we live in a world where so many people, including those in Church, are willing “to let someone else worry about and let someone else do the work,” the Bishop thanked the medal recipients for their leadership and witness.

After the recessional hymn, the recipients walked out into the bright mid-day sun proudly wearing their medals. A reception followed at Kolbe Cathedral High School, which share the cathedral campus.

The St. Augustine Medal of Service was instituted in 2005 to recognize the “unsung heroes” who unselfishly give of their time and talents to build up parish communities and diocesan ministries. On one side of the medal is an image of St. Augustine of Hippo, patron saint of the diocese. The reverse features the coat of arms of the diocese.

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

Around the Diocese in 60 Seconds!
| October 14, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—It was a week for gratitude, prayer and celebration! Sunday started on a joyful note when Bishop Frank J. Caggiano cut the ceremonial ribbon on the new 16-suite wing of the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of Clergy Residence in Stamford.

Click here to watch the video.

Senior priests beloved by many throughout the diocese now call the residence home, and the new addition will make room for many other retired priests who can now join them in a life of continuing prayer and service. From there, it was on to the Pastoral Planning Vespers at St. Augustine Cathedral. The bishop told planning task force members that the challenge for people today is to deepen their faith and welcome others back to the Church. Young adults throughout the diocese also got together in two events, Catholic Underground in Bridgeport and Adoration and Mass at the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist in Stamford. And Catholic Services Corps, fresh from its recent diocesan day of service, launched it social media page.

Immigration Rights is Topic at St. Matthew Church
| October 14, 2016 • by Ann Yannetti


NORWALK—Nearly one in seven Connecticut residents is an immigrant, according to a 2015 report from the American Immigration Council. Understanding the law and how to apply basic rights are among the many challenges faced by immigrants.

What are your rights if you’re confronted by police or immigration officials in your home? What if you’re stopped in your car? What about in a public place or at work?

Anthony Febles, J.D., provided answers to those questions at a two-hour Legal Seminar on Immigration: Know Your Rights, recently held at St. Matthew Church in Norwalk.

“All of us are afforded basic rights granted to us under amendments to the Constitution, regardless of immigration status,” said Mr. Febles.  

“These basic rights are the cornerstone of your protection and apply whether you’re documented or undocumented, citizen or permanent resident. The right to remain silent, the right to see an arrest warrant, the right to speak to a lawyer, and the right to make a phone call.”

Febles guided participants through scenarios where confrontations commonly occur, noting, “The police have the right to confront you in a public place. That’s their job. Your job is to know your rights.” He emphasized the importance of remaining respectful and considerate, yet firm, when invoking your rights.  

What happens if a relative is detained by officials or deported? “Be prepared. Have a plan in place that includes keeping all documents in a safe and accessible place, pre-arranging for child-care, and creating a family-safety planning toolkit,” said Febles. “As a former Marine, preparation was always something they drove home: be prepared, be prepared, be prepared.”  

Other topics covered in the program included how to obtain legal permanent residence, when and how to bring a relative into the country, applying for naturalization, and asylum basics.

A question-and-answer period followed, where Febles was joined by Brendan L. Durrigan, Esq., Rahoul Dupervil of the City of Norwalk Human Relations Commission, and Spanish and Creole translators. Information was specific to Connecticut residents.  

“The attorneys were great. I was here to get information for a friend who is a U.S. citizen, and is hoping to bring family into this country,” said Juan Mena.

Father Tomi Thomas, who opened the session with a prayer, was heartened by the seminar and engagement of program participants. “As an immigrant myself, I know how difficult it is to navigate in a foreign country. I am most grateful to Anthony and his team for offering their time and talent on this important topic.”

Alexandra Joseph attended the seminar with her young sons. “It’s very important that people know their legal rights, and I was happy that the attorneys were able to lend their time to give this information and answer questions.”

Monsignor Walter C. Orlowski, pastor of St. Matthew Church, spoke about his commitment to ensure that as many people as possible have access to information they need.  “Whatever the church can do, whatever St. Matthew can do, we’re here. The more information we have, the better we can help our families.”   

To that end, Mr. Febles, a St. Matthew Parishioner, will be available for free Immigration Consultation at St. Matthew Church every Wednesday until December, from 7-8 pm. “I believe in education. And I believe in these communities,” he said. For further information, contact Mr. Febles at 508.455.7530 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Bishop cuts ribbon on renovated "Upper School" at Greenwich Catholic
| October 13, 2016


GREENWICH—The fall sun was shining brightly on the Greenwich Catholic School community as they gathered together at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly expanded and renovated Upper School building on October 10.

The event program included remarks and a blessing by Bishop Frank Caggiano.

Work on the Upper School, which houses grades 6, 7, and 8, began at the end of June. The construction scope included a completely renovated interior, the addition of two classrooms, a new roof, an energy efficient HVAC system, and ADA compliant restrooms. The $2.3 million project was made possible by gifts to the Imagine capital campaign, totaling almost $2 million.

Patrice Kopas, principal, welcomed the ceremony attendees who, in addition to the school’s 400 students, included teachers, parents, alumni, diocesan administrators, and local and state elected officials. Principal Kopas addressed the students by saying, “This building is a gift to you. We love you and want you to be the best students you can be.”

In his remarks, Imagine Campaign co-chair Brian Condon, P’20 thanked donors and campaign leaders, and he applauded the efforts of Mario Gaztambide, P’24, ’25 for his oversight of the construction progress. He went on to praise lead donor and alum, Jim Dougherty, ’72, P’01, explaining, “Jim and his family have history of always being involved in this school; I am humbled by his generosity and the example he has set for all of us to give back to GCS.” Condon concluded by sharing his own motivation for supporting the school by stating, “My wife Susan and I have made GCS a priority in our lives. We both believe that nothing is more important than the advancement of Catholic education.”

Condon’s co-chair, Dr. Andrew Sama, P’09, ’12, ’16, ’18, ‘21, implored fellow school families to support the school’s philanthropic efforts. “This building is living proof of what we can accomplish together. I challenge every GCS family who, like my own, has been graced by all that this school offers our children, to make a gift to the campaign,” Dr. Sama said.

After expressing his gratitude to the Imagine cabinet members and donors for bringing the Upper School project to fruition, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano stated, “This is a totally unique and historic day in the life of Greenwich Catholic School. Today will change the future of this school and let everyone know that GCS is here to stay forever.” As he stood on the front steps of the remodeled building, Bishop Caggiano went on to draw parallels between the significance of the campaign’s name, Imagine, and the road ahead for GCS students. “This is what we are doing here today: we are imagining what your future is going to be like,” he explained. “Because of your Catholic education, you are going to unlock your future. Every single one of you has a great destiny ahead.” Bishop Caggiano then proceeded to bless the building.

The ceremony closed with the actual ribbon cutting, while students cheered. When asked what she thought about the ceremony, a second grader reflected, “I’m just glad the bishop brought such big scissors, otherwise it would have taken a really long time to cut that huge ribbon.”

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or visit the photo gallery

Bishop: Time to Re-imagine how we live faithfully in the modern world
| October 12, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Changing times demand that we re-imagine how we live faithfully in the modern world, which has turned its back on the Gospel,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at last night’s Vespers Prayer Service for members of the parish Strategic Plan Taskforces.

The bishop bean his brief homily noting that yesterday was also the anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council fifty-four years ago and the feast day of St. John XXIII.

He said that Pope John, who was 78, when he convened the Council, had a great vision and plan for the Church, which began with “opening the windows to the truth of Jesus Christ.”

“Pope John often said that he wanted to be a gardener, not a museum curator,” said the bishop who added that the purpose of the Pastoral Planning process now underway in parishes is not administrative, but “spiritual and pastoral” in its intent to revitalize parishes and bring people back to the Church.

“The great spiritual struggle of the 21st century, whether we like it or not, is the relevance of our parish and school communities for people who think they can search for God without the Church,” he said.

“We must invite people back into our family, one person at a time and together deepen the mystery of the Church as we live it in our own age. We have to remember that everything we do begins and ends with Jesus."

The planning process, under the leadership of Patrick Turner, Director of Pastoral and Strategic Planning, grew out of the Synod mandate to plan for the future of the diocese while working toward reform and renewal.

On September 30, parishes throughout the diocese submitted pastoral plans, which were developed after a process of parish self-assessments during the spring in order to respond to the challenges faced by parishes including the need to be more welcoming and to reach out to Catholics who no longer participate in the Church.

The next step in the Pastoral Planning process will include the presentation of five workshops, one for each of the five Synod priority areas (Liturgy and Worship, Family Life, Evangelization, Leadership, and Catechesis and Education). The workshops will provide opportunities for taskforce members to hear from speakers, discuss best practices, and share news from parishes about actions that are already underway. For information contact: Patrick Turner, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

St Augustine Medal Ceremony this Weekend
| October 12, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—The Saint Augustine Medal of Service prayer service and awards ceremony will be held at St. Augustine Cathedral on Saturday, October 15, beginning at 1 pm. A reception will follow at Kolbe-Cathedral High School on the grounds of the cathedral campus.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will lead the prayer service and present medals to more than 150 recipients from parishes and ministries across the diocese.

“True generosity comes from those who are grateful for their lives and who faithfully use the gifts God has given them,” said Bishop Caggiano. “We will celebrate the St. Augustine medalists as mentors, guides and prophets in their love and service. I look forward to meeting them and their families and recognizing their great commitment to others through the Church.”

Last year, more than 700 friends and family of the recipients turned out for the Medal of Service ceremony.

Pastors, priests and deacons throughout the diocese accompany the recipients as they come forward to be presented the medal by Bishop Caggiano.

The St. Augustine Medal of Service was instituted in 2005 to recognize the “unsung heroes” who unselfishly give of their time and talents to build up parish communities. On one side of the medal is an image of St. Augustine of Hippo, patron saint of the diocese. The reverse features the coat of arms of the diocese.

(For more information, contact Janet Davis: 203.416.1636 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))

Queen of Clergy: A Place of Joy and Peace
| October 10, 2016


Watch: Bishop Caggiano speak at the opening

STAMFORD—“We offer our thanks to Almighty God for the gift of this beautiful facility and for the priests that live here, wonderful men who have served us faithfully, generously and quietly for many years, priests that we know well, priests who are dear to us,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano yesterday at the Catherine Dennis Keefe, Queen of Clergy Residence in Stamford.

More than 150 turned out yesterday on a rain soaked afternoon for the dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony for the new 16-suite addition to the retired priests residence.

The bishop thanked donors who have contributed $3.5 million to make the expansion and renovation of the residence a reality, and he thanked Msgr. William J. Scheyd, Pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan and Msgr. J. Peter Cullen, retired Pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Greenwich, for their “selfless leadership” as “prime movers of the project.”

Bishop Caggiano also thanked former Bridgeport Bishops Edward M. Egan and William E. Lori for their vision in creating and building the residence that “in each and every way allows priests to have what they need to administer joyfully and healthfully.”

“May this be a place of love and peace for priests who will live here for they continue to seek the goodness of Christ,” said Bishop Caggiano before cutting the ribbon on the new addition. The ceremony was followed by a reception and tours of the new facility provided by the retired priests.

The expanded residences provides 33 suites for independent living for retired priests. The 24,000 square foot facility includes a chapel, community, exercise and dining rooms, library, kitchen and full service laundry.

The Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy Residence is located at 274 Strawberry Hill Ave., Stamford. For more information, phone 203.358.9906. To make a gift online, go to

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or visit the photo gallery (photos by Michelle Babyak)

Pope announces 17 new cardinals, including three from U.S.
| October 10, 2016 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis will conclude the Year of Mercy by creating 17 new cardinals, including three from the United States: Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago; Bishop Kevin J. Farrell, prefect of the new Vatican office for laity, family and life; and Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis.

Announcing the names of the new cardinals October 9, Pope Francis said, "Their coming from 11 nations expresses the universality of the church that proclaims and witnesses the good news of God's mercy in every corner of the earth."

The new cardinals—13 of whom are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope and four over 80 being honored for their "clear Christian witness"—will be inducted into the College of Cardinals November 19, the eve of the close of the Year of Mercy.

The next day, November 20, they will join Pope Francis and other cardinals in celebrating the feast of Christ the King and closing the Year of Mercy, the pope said.

Shortly after the pope's announcement, Archbishop Tobin tweeted: "I am shocked beyond words by the decision of the Holy Father. Please pray for me."

The first of the new cardinals announced by the pope was Archbishop Mario Zenari, who, the pope explained, "will remain apostolic nuncio to the beloved and martyred Syria."

The last of the cardinals he named was Albanian Father Ernest Simoni, an priest of the Archdiocese of Shkodre-Pult, who will turn 88 October 18. He had moved Pope Francis to tears in 2014 when he spoke about his 30 years in prison or forced labor under Albania's militant atheistic regime.

Ordained in 1956, he was arrested on Christmas Eve 1963 while celebrating Mass and was sentenced to death by firing squad. He was beaten, placed for three months in solitary confinement, and then tortured because he refused to denounce the church.

He was eventually freed, but later arrested again and sent to a prison camp, where he was forced to work in a mine for 18 years and then 10 more years in sewage canals.

In creating 13 cardinal-electors—those under the age of 80—Pope Francis will exceed by one the 120 cardinal-elector limit set by Blessed Paul VI. The number of potential electors will return to 120 November 28 when Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr of Dakar, Senegal, celebrates his 80th birthday.

The youngest of the new cardinals—who will be the youngest member of the College of Cardinals—is 49-year-old Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui, Central African Republic.

When violence broke out in his country, the archbishop along with a Protestant leader and a local imam began working together to build peace and counter efforts to turn the conflict into a religious war. Archbishop Nzapalainga hosted Pope Francis during a visit to Central African Republic in November 2015.

Seven of the 11 nations represented by the new cardinals did not have a cardinal at the time of the pope's announcement: Central African Republic, Bangladesh, Mauritius and Papua New Guinea will now have cardinal-electors. Malayasia, Lesotho and Albania will be represented in the College of Cardinals, although their cardinals will be too old to vote in a conclave.

Here is the list of new cardinals in the order in which Pope Francis announced them:

— Archbishop Zenari, an Italian who is 70 years old.
— Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui, Central African Republic, 49.
— Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra of Madrid, 71.
— Archbishop Sergio da Rocha of Brasilia, Brazil, who will be 57 Oct. 21.
— Archbishop Cupich, 67.
— Archbishop Patrick D'Rozario of Dhaka, Bangladesh, 73.
— Archbishop Baltazar Porras Cardozo of Merida, Venezuela, who turns 72 Oct. 10.
— Archbishop Jozef De Kesel of Malines-Brussels, Belgium, 69.
— Archbishop Maurice Piat of Port-Louis, Mauritius, 75.
— Bishop Farrell, 69.
— Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla, Mexico, 66.
— Archbishop John Ribat of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 59.
— Archbishop Tobin, 64.
— Retired Archbishop Anthony Soter Fernandez of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 84.
— Retired Archbishop Renato Corti of Novara, Italy, 80.
— Retired Bishop Sebastian Koto Khoarai of Mohale's Hoek, Lesotho, 87.
— Father Simoni, 87.

Queen of Clergy Dedication set for Sunday
| October 07, 2016


STAMFORD—A ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony for the new wing of the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy Residence in Stamford was held on Sunday, October 9, 4 pm to 7 pm.

A reception followed the ceremony and priest residents lead tours of the new facility.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano offered a prayer and blessing followed by the ribbon cutting. Stamford Mayor David Martin and Representative John Zelinsky will also offered brief remarks.

Msgr. William Scheyd, pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan and Episcopal Vicar of Senior Priests, offered the welcome, while Msgr. Louis A. DeProfio delivered the closing prayer.

Construction of the new 16-suite addition began in January of this year. Westchester Modular Homes handled the construction.

“This is a very exciting time for the diocese and for our retired priests who are looking forward to moving into their new home at Queen of the Clergy Residence. “It’s a beautiful residence and a place of great dignity where our retired priests can live in prayer and continued service,” said Bishop Caggiano.

According to William McLean, chief development officer of the diocese, the capital campaign for the residence has raised almost $3.5 million of the $4 million needed for the expansion.

The completed project includes repair and renovation of the existing facility; replacement of the existing roof; expansion of the kitchen to accommodate service for additional residents; new carpeting and furnishings in the common area; interior and exterior painting; and upgraded fire alarm, HVAC and electrical.

Msgr. Scheyd said there are 80 priests in the diocese over the age of 75. Some retired priests continue to live in parish settings, while others live on their own or with family. Many of the retired priests in the diocese continue to help out in parishes, schools, nursing homes and other settings.”

The current residence provides 17 suites for independent living for retired priests. The 24,000 square foot facility includes a chapel, community, exercise and dining rooms, library, kitchen and full service laundry.

The Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy Residence is located at 274 Strawberry Hill Ave., Stamford. For more information, phone 203.358.9906. To make a gift online, go to

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

New York cardinal announces new compensation program for abuse survivors
| October 07, 2016 • by John Woods, Catholic News Service


NEW YORK—The Archdiocese of New York has initiated a voluntary Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program to promote healing and serve as a "tangible sign of the church's outreach and reparation" by providing compensation to victim-survivors of sexual abuse as minors by clergy of the archdiocese.

The program was announced at a morning news conference Oct. 6 featuring Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan and other speakers who will administer the program. It will be headed by nationally recognized mediator Kenneth Feinberg and will have an oversight committee, whose members include former New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly.

"It is unique in that we're asking an outside, independent, acclaimed source to do it," the cardinal said in response to a question about other dioceses that have instituted similar methods to compensate victims of abuse.

Cardinal Dolan explained that the Diocese of Albany had initiated a voluntary compensation program a decade ago, and that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee also had done so when he served as archbishop there before his appointment as Archbishop of New York in 2009.

The cardinal, in his remarks, noted the comprehensive and effective steps taken by the Catholic Church in the United States and local dioceses across the country in response to the scourge of clergy sexual abuse of minors addressed in the bishops' "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," which they adopted in 2002 and revised in 2005 and 2011.

Even with the progress to date, Cardinal Dolan acknowledged "the deep scars" and the need for "further healing and reconciliation" by "one group of members of the church's family" -- the victim-survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

"The survivors tell us that while it's not all about money, a tangible sign of the church's outreach and reparation would be helpful," the cardinal said.

Cardinal Dolan said he is seeking to use the "grace of this moment," which takes place during the Jubilee Year of Mercy, "to initiate an important further step in our efforts to reform the church."

The Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program has already begun to reach out to victims who have previously notified the archdiocese that they had suffered abuse by a priest or deacon of the archdiocese to invite them to participate in the program's phase 1, which is scheduled to continue until Jan. 31, 2017.

Cardinal Dolan, in his remarks at the New York Catholic Center in Manhattan, said that nearly 200 individuals have previously come forward with allegations of abuse by a member of the archdiocesan clergy. Allegations have been made against approximately 40 priests and deacons over the years, said the cardinal, who noted that no allegations of recent occurrences of abuse have been made in the past 15 years.

Approximately 30 victim-survivors have previously received compensation from the archdiocese, the cardinal said.

The archdiocese will take a long-term loan to cover the cost of compensation to victim-survivors. The archdiocesan Office of Communications, in a news release, said that the archdiocese would not use money given by the people of the archdiocese to support parishes, schools and charitable works, nor would it use funds from the annual Cardinal's Stewardship Appeal, the newly initiated Renew and Rebuild capital campaign or money given by donors for a specific ministry or apostolate.

"We'll have to do like any other family at a critical time," Cardinal Dolan said. "We'll borrow the money."

The program will be administered by Feinberg, who is well known for his work as special master of the Federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and numerous other high-profile compensation funds. He will work closely with his associate, Camille Biros.

Along with Kelly, the other members of the Independent Oversight Committee are U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska and Dr. Jeanette Cueva, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University.

At the news conference, Feinberg detailed some of the protocol's "critical features," including who is eligible and at what level of compensation. "Those issues lie solely in the power of the administrator," Feinberg said. "His Eminence readily agreed to this."

According to the protocol, participation in the IRCP "is completely voluntary and does not affect any rights the claimant may have unless and until the claimant accepts the compensation amount and signs a release after required consultation with a lawyer."

Feinberg also said that the archdiocese has pledged to honor all individual and aggregate claims approved by the administrator. "There is authority to move forward," he said.

Phase 2 of the compensation program, which is to begin Feb. 1, will review additional allegations brought against known offenders as well as any new allegations brought against clergy who have not previously had allegations of abuse made against them. Anyone bringing forward a new allegation will be required to follow the policy of the archdiocese to notify the appropriate district attorney's office, so they can determine whether a crime has been committed. The archdiocesan lay review board will also examine such allegations.

Kelly said he wanted to commend Cardinal Dolan for his "proactive leadership in redressing the wrongs that were committed in the past by members of the clergy in the diocese," and said that he was "honored to support, in any way I can, justice and restitution to those who were abused."

He also complimented the archdiocese for putting in place "a highly regarded system for reporting to prevent anyone else from suffering the scourge, the horror of abuse," and is very happy about the "strong partnership" that exists between the archdiocese and law enforcement, especially with the district attorneys in the 10 counties served by the archdiocese.

Oversight committee members will meet regularly with Feinberg and Biros to make sure the program's goals are being met in a timely way, Kelly said.

"This committee will not be able to overturn a decision of the administrators as far as compensation is concerned," he added. "That is solely within the purview of Mr. Feinberg."

- - -

Woods is editor-in-chief of Catholic New York, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New York.

Living the dream also means, “giving back”
| October 06, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Providence College Coach Ed Cooley put the full court press on his audience at the 29th Annual Celebrity Breakfast for the Cardinal Shehan Center in talk that was funny, poignant and thoughtful.

More than 400 men and women packed the main banquet room at the Bridgeport Holiday Inn, and the gathering looked like a “Who’s Who” of area officials including mayors, politicians, business and civic leaders.

“I live a dream,” said the coach who led the Friars to the 2014 Big East Title. He also quickly reminded those present that “philanthropy and giving back” help to nurture dreams for children who are disadvantaged.

Cooley who was named head coach of coached Fairfield University in 2006 and lead the to a an MAAC title, said that he didn’t stand before the gathering as Friar’s coach, but as a “member of the Shehan Center family.”

While coaching at Fairfield, Cooley arranged for his players to conduct basketball clinics at Shehan Center, which provides a wide range of educational, recreational and mentoring programs from its site in downtown Bridgeport.

Cooley said Shehan Center executive Terry O’Connor helped him to see what’s possible in working with young people and creating programs that change their lives.

Sharing his coaching philosophy, Cooley said, “I love to be a leader. I’m not afraid to lead and not afraid to fail. When there’s controversy, there’s always a solution.”

Cooley said he may be wrong more than he’s right, but he believes in approaching the game of basketball and life with passion, energy, and gratitude for all the gifts he has been given.

The Stonehill College graduate who was born into poverty said he never thought he would earn a college degree let along become a college basketball coach. He said he has lasting gratitude to Fairfield University for giving him the opportunity to serve as head coach.

“I’m a Fairfield lover,” he told the gathering. “They gave me the opportunity to live a dream. Today is about the children at the Shehan Center and helping them to dream.”

The coach said he could easily put himself in the shoes of the youngsters at the Shehan Center because his early life in Providence posed many challenges. “I waited in Salvation Army lines for clothes, I waited in soup kitchens for food.”

He said he met his father for the first time at the age of 12 in a bar and that the anger and resentment he felt has since been turned into affection.

“My mother and father had nine children. They did the best they could. At some point, I had to tell myself, Ed, it’s time to move on,” he said, noting that he was deeply grateful to the neighboring Searight family who took him in and changed his direction in life.

Before beginning a question and answer session, Coach Cooley referenced Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for that National Anthem noting that it was the “elephant in the room.”

“I love this country, I love the National Anthem, and I kiss the ground, but I support the right to protest,” said Cooley whose wife is a retired Police Officer.

“What I demand from my players is that they be educated about what they stand for,” who added that he has discussed the issue with his players.

During the breakfast, Bob Curwen, Jr. of People Bank was presented the John Saylor Volunteer of the Year Award for his volunteer service at the Shehan Center, particularly for building the “haunted house,’ which has entertained thousands of children at Halloween. Quest Robinson of Bridgeport was the Youth Speaker.

Before Coach Cooley’s talk Bishop Frank J. Caggiano announced that the Shehan Center Endowment Fund has received a gift of $1.3 million from David Liptak, Founder and Managing Partner of Spring Street Partners in New York City. The money will be used to pay tuition costs for Shehan Center members who attend Catholic Schools in Bridgeport.

“Everyone knows education has been one of my greatest priorities,” said Bishop Caggiano. “This is an extraordinary gift by a man of great faith and vision. We are deeply grateful for his ongoing support of our youth.”

The Cardinal Shehan Center is located at 1494 Main Street Bridgeport. To volunteer or visit call 203.336.4468. Follow the Center Facebook at

Service of Peace, Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Abuse as Minors by Members of the Clergy and others impacted.
| October 05, 2016


BRIGEPORT—A Service of Peace, Hope and Healing for those who have been impacted by Sexual Abuse as Minors by Clergy, will be held at Fairfield University Egan Chapel at 7 pm on Wednesday November 2.

The Most Rev. Frank Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport, will lead the gathering in prayer and will speak at the service, which will include music and readings as well as personal reflections by survivors of sexual abuse as minors by priests.

The prayer service is being coordinated by a planning group of survivors, in conjunction with the Diocese of Bridgeport.

“Sexual abuse has an impact on all members of the body of the Christ. We hope this will be a start of new opportunities for healing across our Diocese. There is no more important work during this Year of Mercy. I am very grateful to the survivors who have taken the leadership in planning this service as a way of bringing healing to the lives of so many who have been wounded by sexual abuse,” said Bishop Caggiano.

Erin Neil, Director of Safe Environment and Victims Assistance Coordinator of the Diocese of Bridgeport, said the Healing Service is open to victims, family and friends, and all those who have been impacted by clerical sexual abuse”.

“We are reaching out to survivors of abuse as a minor by clergy, family members of survivors, those who work as leaders in child and youth protection, and those who have accompanied the survivors on their journey,” she said.

In January, Bishop Frank Caggiano met with survivors and family members from the Diocese of Bridgeport. He listened to their stories in order to gain a better understanding of their journey towards healing.

The Bishop asked the survivors for their guidance on ways that the Diocese may further promote healing and outreach to those who may still be suffering in silence and may not have come forward.

A Committee for Healing was formed out of these initial meetings and consists of five survivors and three lay leaders of the Diocese of Bridgeport—The Director of Safe Environment, the Victim Assistance Counselor and the Director of Pastoral Planning. The committee consulted with individuals within our Diocese and outside of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

The decision was made in July to sponsor a Healing Service this fall that would be welcoming and would give all a chance to gather and to pray together in a safe place.

Victim Assistance Coordinators, Erin Neil and Michael Tintrup, together with lay volunteers and clergy will be available as a resource before and immediately following the Service.

For information about this service or to speak with someone about sexual abuse or other forms of abuse as a minor by a person from the Church, please call Erin Neil, L.C.S.W., Director of Safe Environment & Victim Assistance Coordinator 203.650.3265 or Michael Tintrup, L.C.S.W. , Victim Assistance Counselor 203.241.0987. To report a new incident of suspected or known abuse of a minor, please immediately notify the police or the CT Department of Children and Family Services 1.800.842.2288.

Media: Please contact the Diocese of Bridgeport Director of Communications, Brian Wallace 203.416.1464

Harry Connick, Jr., to perform at Inner-City benefit
| October 04, 2016


Click here for ticket information

GREENWICH—Harry Connick, Jr., will perform at the 25th Annual Benefit Dinner for the Inner-City Foundation for Charity & Education on November 1 at the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich.

The annual benefit provides critical funding for the charity’s support of programs serving the neediest adults and children in Fairfield County. This year marks the charity’s 25th annual benefit dinner.

“We are delighted and honored that Harry Connick, Jr., will perform at our benefit in November,” says Richard T. Stone, executive director of the Inner-City Foundation. “We really wanted to mark our 25th year, and honor all those who have helped us for the last quarter century, in a significant way. Harry Connick, Jr., is a world-class star, and having an intimate performance by him at our benefit is going to make it an extremely rare and special evening.”

It will be rare indeed to see Harry Connick, Jr., in such an intimate setting, since he regularly sells out much larger venues around the world. The multiple Grammy award winner has been entertaining audiences since the age of five, when he performed the music of his native New Orleans as a pianist and vocalist. He moved to New York at age 18, signed with Columbia Records and three years later achieved multi-platinum success. Over the past three decades, he has established himself as a legendary musician, singer, composer, live performer and best-selling artist with millions of records sold around the world. He is also an accomplished actor and television personality, and has received Emmy awards and Tony nominations for his work on the stage and screen. He joined “American Idol” as a judge in 2013 alongside Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban. His new nationally-syndicated daytime television variety show “Harry” kicked off on September 12.

Despite his busy career, Connick has always found the time to be charitable and has done some of his most important work in his efforts to help his native New Orleans rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

He now lends a hand to assist a similar population here in Fairfield County. The foundation expects that his name will render their benefit a hot ticket this fall, and that it will be a boon to their 25th year fundraising effort to raise $2.5 million this year—more than twice what they typically raise in a year.

“Need is up but funding is down,” says Stone. “State budget cuts in April have had a devastating impact on the most vulnerable members of our community.”

Founded in 1992, The Inner-City Foundation supports organizations providing food, clothing, shelter, education and counseling to at-risk and needy children and adults of Fairfield County. Organizations may apply for grants; all applications are thoughtfully considered, says Stone.

“We carefully vet all these organizations to make sure they are efficient and effective, and we look for organizations that are providing not only a safety net but also a springboard to a better future,” says Stone. “And because of our experience, minimal staff and dedicated, passionate volunteer board members, we’re highly efficient. Ninety percent, or 90 cents, of every dollar that we raise goes directly to the organizations we support.”

This year, the Inner-City Foundation for Charity & Education awarded close to $1 million in grants to 48 different organizations throughout the county. About half of the funds awarded went to education, particularly in Bridgeport, with a significant portion awarded to Fairfield County programs that provide for the disabled, the hungry, the homeless, or programs that provide help for victims of domestic violence or addiction.

“This is frontline, important support,” says Jeff Wieser, president and CEO of Homes with Hope, a grassroots organi- zation addressing homelessness in Westport. “The Inner-City Foundation has, for more than 16 years, supported the many mothers and children who find safety, comfort and life skills here. Over the past year alone their support for our organization has helped 15 families move from homeless- ness to a stable positive housing experience.”

“The need has simply never been greater,” says Stone. “If we can convince 25 corporations, as well as 25 individuals, to each donate $25,000, that will go a long way towards getting us to our goal of $2.5 million in the coming year.”

Emmy award-winning television weather and news anchor Dave Price of NBC 4 New York will be the Master of Ceremonies for the 25th Annual Benefit Dinner. Barbara and Ray Dalio, Bill Mitchell and Jack Welch are honorary chairs of the event. The Mitchell family is chairing the Benefit Committee along with co-chairs Audrey and Daniel Dornier, Helen and Dan Fitzpatrick, and Vilma and Dick Matteis. Bill Tommins of Bank of America chairs the Corporate Committee, and Joe Lane and Brian Moran co-chair the 25 for 25 Campaign, the cornerstone of the charity’s 25th year appeal.

For tables and tickets or for more info about the Inner-City Foundation or to donate to the 25th year appeal, visit, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 203.416.1496.

Gregory Norbet, Dan Schutte to appear in concert
| October 04, 2016


FAIRFIELD—Two Catholic musicians and composers who have written some of the most enduring and memorable songs for contemporary worship in the Church, will join forces for a rare concert together on Sunday, October 23, at 6pm at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Fairfield.

Gregory Norbet, who spent 21 years as a Benedictine monk and music director at Weston Priory in Vermont, and Dan Schutte, who began his work as a composer of the St. Louis Jesuit Mass, will perform some of their best known songs along with new music.

Norbet is the composer of songs such as Hosea, All I Ask of You, Wherever You Go, Dona Nobis Pacem, and Peace, Come To Me, while Schutte’s work includes standards such as Here I am Lord, City of God and Only this I want.

Fr. John Baran, Pastor of St. Anthony Church, said both men have provided music for liturgies at the parish over the years, but the October 23 event will be the first time the two nationally known composers will come together for a performance.

Fr. Baran said the concert will also be a special moment because it celebrate the parish’s joining the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport.

“Profits from the concert will be donated to this amazing organization, which under the capable leadership of Rev. Cass Shaw, runs many programs that “fill in the gap” for people in need. They are currently trying to raise $25,000 so their 40 food pantries and soup kitchens can continue to provide food through the end of December,” he said.  

Eleanor Sauers, Director of Religious Education at St. Anthony’s said the relationship of both artists to the parish developed in an organic fashion over the last few years.

“Gregory and Dan, at various times, were invited to help the parish celebrate the liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent. Through these visits, they embraced the parish, being drawn by the welcoming spirit of the congregation and the collaboration of the staff, led by the Fr. Baran.  

Sauers said the parish in turn embraced Gregory and Dan, loving their music and anticipating their return.

“Over time they had become part of the fabric of the parish. They were invited guests and friends.  It was a natural next step that they would come to celebrate the Triduum with the parish, as they have done now for several years.

She said the idea of singing together in concert developed over the course of this past Triduum, and both artists were intrigued by the idea of doing a benefit for the Council of Churches, an organization that does important and necessary work in the Bridgeport area.

Tickets are $25 (for general seating) and $50 (for preferred seating and a pre-concert wine and cheese reception with the artists). Please be aware that seats are limited and the concert will be open to the entire diocese. Tickets are available through the Box Office at the Quick Center 203.254.4010.

St. Catherine of Siena, Riverside, Concert Series
| October 03, 2016


RIVERSIDE—St. Catherine of Siena Church, Riverside is presenting a musical series, Concerts in the Chapel, featuring different guest artists.

On Sunday, September 25, Dr. Liya Petrides, Director of Music Ministries and organist, was accompanied by Dr. Elena Peres, violinist, in a concert featuring works by Vivaldi, Bach and Handel.

"The Chapel venue is perfect and the performances are magical," says the St. Catherine of Siena Church bulletin.

The next concert in the series, on October 16 at 3pm, will be An Hour of Jazz directed by Dr. Ron Petrides, jazz guitarist, Essiet Essiet on bass, and Emmanuel Harrold on drums. Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 for seniors and students. Info: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

50 STATES IN 40 DAYS: 40 Days for Life Coast-to-Coast UNITED Bus Tour Includes Rally in Danbury
| October 03, 2016


WASHINGTON, DC—Recognizing the urgency for ending America’s abortion crisis, 40 Days for Life is launching an unprecedented 40-day bus tour to bring its message of hope to cities and towns across the United States that are united in prayer and fasting during this fall’s UNITED 40 Days for Life campaign, which runs from September 28 to November 6.

The tour will hold a rally in Danbury, Connecticut, at 6:00 PM on October 3. Every pro-life American is encouraged to visit to learn more and join the tour in their home town.

“Poll after poll reveals that an overwhelming majority of Americans feel our nation is on the wrong track,” said 40 Days for Life CEO David Bereit, “and when pressed, many respondents cite growing disillusionment with politics and government, along with frustration over increasing attacks against faith, family, religious freedom, and human life. It's time for this to change.”
The UNITED tour will make stops in more than 125 cities to hold rallies and prayer vigils that will encourage Christians to stand together for the sanctity of life across the nation. 40 Days for Life is joined by partner organizations for the tour: March for Life, Heartbeat International, Silent No More Awareness, Students for Life, and Susan B. Anthony List, along with numerous city and state pro-life coalition groups.
“Since 40 Days for Life started in 2007,” said 40 Days for Life president Shawn Carney, "we have recognized that although abortion is a national problem, it does not happen in the White House, in Congress, or in the Supreme Court. Abortion takes place in hometowns across America—and it will end, and is ending, in hometowns across America, one by one.”

Each 40 Days for Life campaign consists of 40 days of prayer and fasting, community outreach, and constant, peaceful vigil in the public right-of-way outside abortion facilities. The volunteers who pray at these vigils have witnessed answers to their prayers, including: 11,796 babies saved from abortion, 133 workers who have left the abortion industry, and 75 abortion centers which closed their doors forever following 40 Days for Life vigils.

“People of faith sometimes feel alone in their efforts to end abortion,” said 40 Days for Life North American campaign director Steve Karlen. “We can’t wait to hit the road with the UNITED tour to show that we are all in this together—and with God’s blessings, abortion in this country will come to an end.”

For more information, or to schedule an interview, please contact Jake Wilkins at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 703.739.5920.

U.S. District Judge says mass incarceration is “failed experiment”
| October 02, 2016


FAIRFIELD— United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York Judge Edgardo Ramos said that mandatory sentencing on the 1980’s and 1990’s has led to “mass incarceration and a justice gap,” in our society.

Speaking to 150 attorneys, judges, and legal professionals at the 2016 Red Mass held this morning at Fairfield University, Judge Ramos said that the United States has five percent of the world’s population but accounts for 25 percent of “the world’s prisoners.”

Judge Ramos called on attorneys in private practice to consider taking on more “pro bono cases” for the poor, and said the government will need to find new remedies for dealing with non-violent offenders.

The morning began with Mass in the Egan Chapel con-celebrated by Bishop Frank Caggiano, Fairfield University President Jeffrey von Arx, and members of the Jesuit community.

The bishop thanked the attorneys for their faithful witness in society and told them he prayed for them often throughout the year.

He said that in a society that often believes that religious liberty “should be confined within the four walls of a Church," many who practice law may feel “a struggle to be men and women of faith and to do what the law asks you to do and administer justice as required.”

Describing mandatory minimum sentencing as a “failed social experiment,” Judge Ramos said it has led to “mass incarceration of an entire generation of young men of color,” including many who were non-violent offenders and could have been treated more effectively in other settings.

He said his own thinking on dealing with youthful offenders as a judge has changed to believe that in addition to demanding personal responsibility, the courts need new approaches that can help divert young men from the lure of gangs and the street.

The United States now has 2.3 million behind bars with African Americans and Latinos accounting for 60% of the inmates at a total cost of more than $260 billion a year.

Judge Ramos said the murder rate in New York plummeted from 2,700 in 1990 to 328 in 2014, but mass incarceration as had “immense social consequences.”

The Judge said studies show no relationship “between incarceration and crime rates,” and he discussed alternatives and “diversion programs” that have shown some success in working with non-violent offenders in New York.

Judge said many people of color and the poor often suffer serious consequences in their own lives because they cannot afford an attorney for civil cases in matters such as immigration, eviction, discrimination and child support.

“Four fifths of low income people have no access to lawyers when they need one on matters that are complex, important and consequential in their lives,” he said.

Likewise, those have been released from prison find “impediments to employment” are ineligible for safety net programs and are disqualified from Pell Grants that would help them continue their education.

Judge Ramos told the gathering that he is one of eight children raised by a single mother in Newark, New Jersey. Five of his brothers were arrested over the years and his sister’s ex-husband is in prison.

Based on his own family experience, Judge Ramos said he always felt he understood the hardships faces by young people. However, he said at some point after working as a judge he began to feel “that my own experiences was no longer so similar” to the youth who stood before him for sentencing.

Citing the book, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, the story of a brilliant Newark student who went on to Yale and was killed in a drug trade, Judge Ramos said he realized how difficult it is for young people in poverty “to make the right decision and resist the pull of the street.”

During the breakfast, Bishop Caggiano presented the St. Thomas More Award to outgoing Fairfield University President Jeffrey von Arx for this commitment to the breakfast and his support for the Diocese in a wide range of programs and joint efforts.

“Your door was always open and your departure is a great loss for the Diocese,” the Bishop said to Fr von Arx as he presented him the award.

Anne O. McCrory, Chief Lefal and Real Estate Officer of the Diocese of Bridgeport, offered a welcome to the attorneys. Msgr. Dariusz Zielonka, Judicial Vicar of the Diocese and Pastor of St. Judge Parish in Monroe, delivered the invocation.

Edgardo Ramos was appointed United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York on September 15, 2011, after being nominated by President Barack Obama. He began his term as a judge on December 15, 2011. He earned a B.A. in 1982 from Yale University and a J.D. in 1987 from Harvard Law School.

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

Traveling the Camino on foot and by car
| October 01, 2016 • by Don Harrison


SANTIAGO—Pilgrims of all ages have been walking the Camino de Santiago since the 8th century.

Their reasons vary for making the trek on the main route, from the French side of the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela, the city in the northwest corner of Spain.

Many are drawn to the Cathedral in Santiago, where the remains of the apostle, St. James, are said to be buried.

Others chose to walk The Way of St. James as a retreat, to follow a dream or simply as a challenge to experience weeks in a foreign land. Today, hundreds of thousands of Christian pilgrims travel the route each year.

In deference to our ages, Patti and Don Harrison made the decision to do what is called a partial Camino. We walked and we drove. It required seven days, from the morning of July 14 to a warm afternoon on July 21, for us to negotiate the 390 miles from the town of Santo Domingo to Santiago.

What prompted our personal pilgrimage? We wanted to walk this holy ground in the footsteps of those who had traveled before us. In part, we were inspired by the 2010 film, “The Way,” starring Martin Sheen. Two of our young friends, Chris Constand and Loredana Trandu, had just completed their journey and spoke glowingly about the undertaking. Two other friends, Joyce and Tom Flynn, who had traveled to Spain, shared helpful advice. For six months we faithfully went to the gym to gain some endurance.

We found the Spanish people to be welcoming, kind and hospitable, eager to help us in our journey. Two examples: A police officer in Carrion, who spoke no English, provided directions with a hand-drawn map and a smile. In a small supermarket in Astorga, we encountered a young shopper named Ramiro, who knew basic English.

Hearing that we were seeking the route to the Iron Cross in the Leon Mountains—the iconic marker where pilgrims pray and traditionally leave a rock they had carried since the start of their journey at the foot of the cross—Ramiro said he could help. “Follow me home on my bicycle and I will show you the directions,” he stated. We did. And he did.

En route to Santiago, we explored three ancient cathedrals, each a wonder of architecture. The Cathedral of Santo Domingo de la Calzada is named for its founder, Domingo Garcia (1040-1109), who devoted much of his life to assisting visiting pilgrims. He creating a hostel, where travelers could seek refuge; constructed a bridge across a river, and erected a small church.

The Cathedral of St. Mary in Burgos, consecrated in 1260, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984. It houses the works of great Spanish painters, sculptors and architects as well as the tomb of El Cid, the 11th century military hero, and his wife, Dona Jimena.

The Leon Cathedral, dedicated to Santa Maria de la Regia, was built on the site of ancient Roman baths. The church has nearly 1,800 square meters of stained glass windows, making it the third largest church in the world.

Shortly after leaving the cathedral in Leon, we encountered another pilgrim, a German woman named Uta. Through flawless English, she explained that she had walked from her home in Stuttgart and, although her feet were sore and wrapped in bandages, she planned to carry on to Santiago. We asked if we could help, but Uta cheerfully told us all she needed was patience. Her feet would heal and she would go on.

We were impressed, of course, by the massive Santiago Cathedral, a predominantly Romanesque structure completed in 1211. The Baroque façade, added between 1738 and 1750, is regarded as the symbol of the city. A likeness of St. James looks down at the activity in the plaza from a niche in the central tower.

Inside, we climbed the stairs behind the altar that lead to the gilded statue of St. James; like most pilgrims, we gave the statue a hug. Then we descended into the crypt where the saint’s relics are kept in a silver casket and prayed. We attend the daily noon-time Pilgrim Mass (standing room only) in the main cathedral and, the following morning, the English-speaking Mass in a cathedral side chapel.

We introduced ourselves, shared where we were from and why we had traveled the Camino. The stories were both profound and touching.

Father Joe O’Cochlain, a visiting priest from Cork, Ireland, was the celebrant at the English Mass, and we wondered: Was it mere coincidence that my wife’s paternal grandmother was born in Cork and Father Joe served in the North Cathedral Church where she was baptized?

Hover and click the arrows to navigate the slideshow above
or visit the photo gallery

A Week of Prayer and Service
| September 30, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—What a great week in the Diocese! The Catholic Service Corps performed the first diocesan Day of Service and celebrated a day of volunteering by attending Mass with Bishop Caggiano in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit of Sacred Heart University. Catholic Charities also had its own celebrations—100 years of service to the poor and vulnerable of Fairfield County. 

Almost 400 friends turned out at the Stamford Marriott for a night of dancing, dinner and awards. Meanwhile, parishes throughout the diocese continued to deepen their lives of faith and service. St. Thomas School in Fairfield was recognized for its kindness and St. Rose of Lima Parish hosted its Children's Rosary. It all adds up to a more welcoming and prayerful diocese. Take a look at our video!

District Judge to discuss justice system challenges at Red Mass
| September 30, 2016


FAIRFIELD—United States District Judge Edgardo Ramos will discuss the current crisis in the justice system and incarceration trends at the 2016 Red Mass and breakfast that will take place on Sunday, October 2, at 9 am in the Egan Chapel of Fairfield University.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will concelebrate the Mass with Fairfield University’s president, Father Jeffrey von Arx, SJ, who will be presented the St. Thomas More Award for his support of the Red Mass over the years. Breakfast will immediately follow in the Oak Room in the campus center.

The public is encouraged to attend the Red Mass along with all attorneys, criminal justice and legal professionals.

“This is a timely and intriguing topic for our break - fast program and we’re very grateful that Judge Ramos will share his unique perspective on these issues,” said Anne McCrory, chief legal and real estate officer of the Diocese of Bridgeport. “From his position behind the bench, as well as his experience as a prosecutor, Judge Ramos faces these issues routinely. As we continue in our journey through the Year of Mercy in the Church, it is import- ant for Catholic legal professionals to be aware of the issues causing and resulting in human struggles around us. We look for- ward to Judge Ramos’ remarks.”

The annual Red Mass, celebrated in many dioceses across the country, traditionally seeks guidance from the Holy Spirit for all who strive for justice, and offers the opportunity to reflect on the responsibilities and challenges faced by Catholic legal practitioners.

U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos

Edgardo Ramos was appointed United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York on September 15, 2011, after being nominated by President Barack Obama. He began his term as a judge on December 15, 2011.

Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Judge Ramos earned a B.A. in 1982 from Yale University and a J.D. in 1987 from Harvard Law School. From 1987 until 1992, he was an associate with the law firm of Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett. In 1992 he entered public service as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York, serving in that capacity for 20 years.

Judge Ramos joined the law firm that would ultimate- ly become Day Pitney LLP in June 2002 as a partner in the White Collar and Internal Investigations Group. In 2003, he was appointed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to serve on the Commission to Combat Police Corruption. Judge Ramos has served on the governing boards of the Hispanic

National Bar Association, the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association and the Puerto Rican Bar Association of New York City. He has also served on the Criminal Law and Municipal Affairs Committees of the New York City Bar Association. In 2008 Judge Ramos was elected as a James W. Cooper Fellow of the Connecticut Bar Foundation.

Bishop Caggiano has urged all legal professionals including attorneys, legislators, judges and other legal professionals to attend the Red Mass and to consider joining the St. Thomas More Society, an asso- ciation of Catholic attorneys with a long history of charita- ble work. The bishop will recognize the work and dedication to Catholic education of Father von Arx, the host of this year’s Red Mass, with a St. Thomas More Award.

(Fairfield University is located at 1073 N. Benson Road, Fairfield. The cost of the breakfast is $45/ person; tables are $450. For tickets, go to For questions, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or phone: 203.416.1385.)

For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, St. Vincent's Mobile Mammography Coach to Offer Free and Low-Cost Digital Screenings
| September 30, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—To mark October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the St. Vincent's Breast Health Center will offer free and low-cost digital mammography screenings through its luxurious mobile mammography coach for women age 40 and older. Click the 'Read More' link for a list of locations and times.

Saturday, October 1
Burroughs Community Center
2470 Fairfield Ave
Bridgeport, CT
9:00 am - 1:00 pm

Wednesday, October 5
Cambridge Health & Rehabilitation Center
2428 Easton Turnpike
Fairfield, CT
10:00 am - 2:00 pm

Thursday, October 13
Cellini Design Jewelers
464 Boston Post Rd
Orange, CT

Mammograms are free for those who do not have health insurance, have financial limitations, and qualify for assistance. For those who do not have insurance but do not qualify for free services, mammograms are discounted. No prescription is needed and appointments are recommended. Walk-ins also are welcome. For those who have insurance, please bring your card and photo ID at time of visit. To schedule an appointment, call the St. Vincent's Breast Health Center at 203.576.5500.

To find out when the mobile mammography unit will be in your area, call St. Vincent's Breast Health Center at 203.576.5500. To schedule a screening for your office, community center, school, or church, call the Mobile Mammography Coordinator at 203.576.5505.

The St. Vincent's mobile mammography program is the only mobile mammography screening program in Fairfield County and is made possible through St. Vincent's SWIM Across the Sound, Connecticut's leader in cancer education, prevention screenings, and support services in the area. Other organizations also help provide mammography screening support including Susan G. Komen Southern New England, The National Breast Cancer Foundation, Near and Far Aid, and Pink Aid.

Saturday, October 29
Healthier You Resource Fair
Cesar A. Batalla School
606 Howard Ave
Bridgeport, CT

The latest American Cancer Society guidelines recommend that all women have a mammogram by age 40, and then every year thereafter.

About St. Vincent's SWIM Across the Sound
St. Vincent's SWIM Across the Sound is a charitable not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization run by the St. Vincent's Medical Center Foundation of Bridgeport, CT. Since 1987, the SWIM has had a unique niche helping individuals and families struggling through the difficult changes that cancer it brings with it. The SWIM serves approximately 30,000 people annually by providing over 45 programs, including cancer education, screening, prevention and support programs at low- or no-cost for the uninsured and underinsured. In addition, the SWIM helps individual cancer patients on a case-by-case basis with specific financial assistance, funding of wigs and prostheses, medication assistance, free transportation to treatments and appointments, day-care scholarships, support groups and more. For more information, contact the St. Vincent's Medical Center Foundation at (203) 576-5451 or visit

“The Kindest School in America”
| September 29, 2016


FAIRFIELD—Last year, the national Think Kindness Organization recognized St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School in Fairfield as the “The Kindest School in America!”

The school had participated in the Think Kindness program, sponsored by this non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire measurable acts of kindness in schools and communities around the world.

The program motivated the school to spark kindness both locally and globally over a period of 15 days. The school was challenged to perform 5,000 acts of kindness within the community and collect 1,921 pairs of gently-used shoes to donate to children in central Kenya. The school came together and not only met but exceeded their goal! 5,668 acts of kindness were performed and 4,038 pairs of shoes were collected!
School Principal Pat Brady exclaimed, "I was so proud of our students and teachers for how they embraced the Think Kindness program. It really had a great impact on our school community."
In an effort to continue the positive school climate, this year the Think Kindness program challenged the school to form a service group called “Kindness Crew.” This group would serve as a pro-active step in promoting kindness and inclusion throughout the school for the entire year.
Principal Brady was anxious to announce this new peer-to-peer leadership program to her students but asked the organization for permission to rename it “Joey’s Crew.”
The school had recently suffered the loss of alumnus Joey Kulaga ’15, who died in a tragic car accident in December 2015. Pat explained, “Joey was known by almost everyone here in school for always choosing kindness over coolness. From the moment the initiative was explained to me, I knew it had to be called “Joey's Crew.”  The association of this crew with a genuinely kind boy would have much more meaning for all of us."
Brian Williams, the founder of the program, agreed to the re-naming of the program and arrived at the school for an assembly to kick off “Joey’s Crew.” In addition to the new school service group, a commemorative bench was placed on the school playground in honor of Joey’s kind and gentle spirit. The bench, also known as the “buddy bench,” invites any student in need of a playmate to sit on the bench.  Others who see someone sitting on the bench will know they are looking for someone to play with and should invite them to play.  
The “Kindest School in America” looks forward to another school year filled with kindness. Brady states, “Here at St. Thomas Aquinas School, we believe that each act of kindness, no matter how small, has a ripple effect that makes the world a better place.”

Reception to Benefit Foundations in Education set for October 14
| September 28, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—A reception to benefit Foundations in Education will be held in the home of Frank and Lynn Mara of Greenwich on Friday, October 14, 7–9 pm.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will attend and offer brief remarks on the Foundation, which was established earlier this year to support Catholic education in the Diocese.

Gerard Baker, Editor in Chief of The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones, will speak with the guests about the importance and value of Catholic education in the lives of individuals and the larger community.

“I am very grateful to the Mara family, to the newly formed Board of Trustees, and to all those who will be attending the reception,” said Bishop Caggiano. “Support for the Foundations is critical as we move forward with many initiatives to sustain and grow Catholic education in the diocese.”
The evening will include three special auction items highlighted by use of a New York Giants luxury suite for the November 20, game against the Chicago Bears at MetLife Stadium. Kickoff is at 1 pm. The luxury suite includes 24 tickets, 6 parking passes and a $1,500 credit toward food and beverages.
Other auction items for the evening include Mass and Brunch (for up to 20 people) with Bishop Caggiano in his Trumbull chapel and residence, and a hand crafted Rustic Barn Wood American Flag, size 8’ X 11’ by painter and visual artist Lynn Mara, whose work has earned wide recognition in galleries and other installations.
Proceeds form the fundraiser will support two of the major goals of the newly established foundation; professional development for teachers and administrators and an innovation fund to support curriculum and other advances. A fundraiser for the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, the third major program of the Foundations, will be held in the Spring of 2017.
Trustees of the newly formed Foundations in Education include David Cappiello, Robert Dilenschneider, John Eppolito, R. Bradford Evans, Lawrence Kudlow, Ned Lautenbach, Daniel McCarthy, Thomas McInerney, Julia McNamara, Bernard Reidy, Gerard Robilotti, Joseph Roxe, Robert Scinto, Michael Shea.
About Gerard Baker: Gerard Baker assumed the role of Editor in Chief of The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones on January 1, 2013. Prior to his appointment as Editor in Chief, Mr. Baker served as Deputy Editor in Chief of The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires. Before joining the Journal, Mr. Baker was the U.S. Editor and an Assistant Editor of The Times of London. From 1994 to 2004, Mr. Baker worked for the Financial Times,  first as Tokyo Correspondent, where he wrote about the country’s financial crisis, and then, from 1998 to 2002, as Washington Bureau Chief. Before joining the FT, Mr. Baker worked for the BBC from 1988 to 1994, as a producer, then as U.S. producer, and finally as Economics Correspondent for TV and radio.  He was educated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford University, where he graduated in 1983 with a First Class Honours Degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
The cost of the reception is $500 per person. To attend the evening or bid on the auction items, please contact Maggie Granado at 203.416.1378 or email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Open Houses set for Diocesan High Schools
| September 28, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—The five High Schools of the Diocese of Bridgeport will host Open Houses this month.

The Open Houses are set for Trinity Catholic High School, Stamford October 16, 11-2; Immaculate High School, Danbury, October 16, 11-1; St. Joseph High School, Trumbull, October 16 1-4; Kolbe Cathedral High School, October 20, 6:30 pm; Notre Dame High School, October 23, 1:30 pm.

"Our five high schools have a long tradition of success in providing academic excellence, spiritual development, formation of values and service to others," said Dr. Steven Cheeseman, Superintendent.

"While all five high schools are committed to academic excellence and faith development, each school possesses its own unique personality and traditions. The best way to learn about our high schools is to see them in action. Numerous opportunities are offered to do just that, including Open Houses, school tours, and shadow visits."

Dr. Cheeseman said that nearly 2,500 students attend the five schools, which has experienced a steady growth in enrollment over the past five years.  

"Our Catholic high schools pride themselves on offering a student body of diverse cultures, faith traditions, and abilities with an exceptional education centered on reverence, respect and responsibility.  Our unified mission is to form young people’s hearts, minds, and souls, empowering them to become responsible, caring, contributing members of society and fostering independence and maturity in a safe and nurturing environment," he said.

Families of transfer students and middle school students are invited to attend Fall Open Houses. Eighth graders and transfer students are welcome to schedule shadow visits where they will attend classes with current students and be given a voucher for lunch on the day of their visit. The Office of Admissions at each school welcomes applications for first-year, transfer, and international student admission.

Prospective families must first complete an application and pay a $50 application fee to any of the five high schools they wish to apply to. All eighth-grade applicants are then required to take the High School Placement Test (HSPT). The entrance exam is offered at any of the five Diocesan High Schools on Saturday, October 29, 2016 and Saturday November 19, 2016. There is no additional fee to take this test and students can choose to have the results of the exam sent to a maximum of three Diocesan High Schools.

Students are eligible for a wide range of  grants, scholarships, and tuition assistance. Last year the Bishop's Scholarship Fund distributed $2.2 million to more than 1,800 students from families of all income levels.

For more information on diocesan schools visit

"House of Hope" to Fight Hunger with Healthy Food Drive
| September 27, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—St. Vincent's Medical Center and Aquarion Water Company are launching the 6th Annual "House of Hope" Food Drive, running from September 19 until November 18, 2016 to help reduce hunger throughout the Greater Bridgeport area.

L-R: Daisy Rodriguez, volunteer coordinator, Thomas Merton
Center; Bruce Silverstone, vice president, corporate communications,
Aquarion Water Company; Lucinda Ames, mission services coordinator,
St. Vincent's Medical Center; Kim Knowles, MSN/MHA, RN, CNOR,
worker's compensation/occupational health manager, St. Vincent's
Medical Center; Rhonda Mercer, customer advocate/special events
coordinator, Aquarion Water Company; Kareem Wali, manager, SPD
OR materials management, St. Vincent's Medical Center; Bill Hoey,
vice president, mission services, St. Vincent's Medical Center;
and Peter Fazekas, director, public relations, Aquarion Water Company.

In an effort to fight hunger with healthy foods, the organizers ask that only nutritious, non-perishable, non-expired items be donated.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held today at the House of Hope located at the entrance to St. Vincent's Medical Center, 2800 Main Street, Bridgeport.

Highlighting Healthy Donations
The House of Hope committee is taking a step beyond simply collecting foodstuffs by attempting to educate both recipients and donors alike about healthy food choices. The committee, in conjunction with local organizations Get Healthy CT and the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport, has provided suggestions for healthier food donations on the back of all flyers announcing the drive. These choices include low-sodium canned vegetables, soups, stews and pasta sauces, canned fruits, fish and meats, whole wheat pasta, low sugar cereals, peanut butter with no sugar or hydrogenated oils, and powdered milk, among other readily available items.
Donations may be dropped off in the "House of Hope”—a special shed located at the hospital entrance—for the duration of the drive. Last year more than six tons of food were donated and organizers hope to surpass that total this year.
"We are very excited to be teaming with Aquarion again this year to help people in need in our community by providing healthy food options," said St. Vincent's Medical Center President and CEO Vince Caponi. "Healthy food options are vital in helping prevent chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes, which many individuals in our region struggle with."
This year's collection will benefit The Spooner House in Shelton, Bridgeport Rescue Mission, The Thomas Merton Center, St. Vincent's Family Health Center, and the Port Five Naval Veterans organization. All branches of the armed forces belong to Port Five, which will redistribute donated food to other veterans' organizations.
"Hunger knows no timeframe or geographic boundaries," said Charles V. Firlotte, President and CEO of Aquarion Water Company. "We are proud to partner with St. Vincent's Medical Center to try to bring a little comfort and happiness to our community during this upcoming season."
Serving this year as co-chairpersons are Kim Knowles, RN, and Kareem Wali of St. Vincent's and Carolyn Giampe and Rhonda Mercer of Aquarion.
Monetary donations also are accepted and will be turned into double the amount in food purchases thanks to the generosity of Big Y in Monroe, which is continuing its "buy one get one" support.
People wishing to make a monetary donation to the House of Hope may do so at the hospital information desk. Gift cards to grocery stores also will be accepted.
For more information, please contact at St. Vincent’s:Kim Knowles at 203.576.5294 or Kareem Wali at 203.576.5221; at Aquarion: Rhonda Mercer at 203.445.7424.

Day of Service begins and ends in prayer
| September 26, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—“Today is an historic day in our Diocese with the inauguration of the Catholic Service Corps,” said Bishop Frank Caggiano in his Facebook entry last Saturday.

The bishop was excited by the launch of the first Diocesan Day of Service sponsored by the newly formed Catholic Service Corps.

The day began with prayer, followed by volunteer work, and Mass celebrated by the Bishop at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Sacred Heart University.

Young service corps members worked in a variety of settings including Merton Center in Bridgeport, St. Margaret’s Shrine, New Covenant Center in Stamford, and St. Thomas The Apostle Parish in Norwalk.

The CSC was one of the major initiatives that was approved in the recent Diocesan Synod to provide opportunities for all the faithful, especially young people, to deepen and broaden their Catholic faith by inviting them to embrace a life of Christian service and the call to be a missionary disciples.

“The young people who will begin to form the Catholic Service Corps will walk on the front line of faith, trying to overcome the temptation of spiritual complacency in their own lives by embracing, over time, a true lifestyle of service. Their witness will also encourage and challenge those around them to follow their example,” he said.

The bishop dropped in at a couple of the worksites to offer encouragement to the young people who worked in teams from different schools and parishes. He believes that the charitable work, grounded in prayer and reflection, is an important part of faith formation.

“My prayer is that the Corps will unleash a tidal wave of mercy that will slowly transform the face of our Diocesan Church, bringing the gift of loving mercy to every corner of our county. My dream is that such love will be effectively offered and received by every human heart seeking a path to God.”

“Given some of the challenges that we have faced as a Church over the past 15 years, many people may be tempted to believe that the best days of our Church are behind us. Today proves that our best days are yet to come,” he said.

Michelle Smith of Weston, a teacher at Fairfield Prep who is serving as Coordinator of the Catholic Service Corps, said she hopes the pilot program will expand to include more schools and parishes throughout the diocese.

For more information, contact Michelle M. Smith Coordinator, Catholic Service Corps, Diocese of Bridgeport, 238 Jewett Avenue, Bridgeport, Connecticut  06606. Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Catholic Charities Gala: A Night to Celebrate
| September 25, 2016


STAMFORD—It was an evening of high energy, spirited music and celebration as Catholic Charities of Fairfield County celebrated its 100th Birthday in a gala at the Stamford Marriott.

Over 400 men and women filled the main ballroom for dinner, dancing and award with an evening that included and awards ceremony and video offering a glimpse into the 100-year history of Catholic Charities, which was formed in response to the needs of the immigrants, orphans and working poor of industrial Bridgeport.

The gala capped a year of special events planned led by the Gala Committee leaders Marilyn Hart, Kevin Gremse, Jim McPartlan, and Nancy Murphy.

Fox News Anchor Ernie Anastos served as Masters of Ceremonies and Catholic Charities President Al Barber served as “auctioneer” for the night that raised over $100,000 for the feeding, behavioral health, childcare, and community programs of the Church’s social service arm in the county.

“We stand on the shoulders of giants,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, noting that before Pope Francis inspired the world with his concern for the poor and vulnerable, and 40 years before the diocese was formed, Catholic Charities was bringing compassion and mercy to those in need.

“Catholic Charities knows that people are not problems to be solved but people to be loved,” the Bishop said, noting that the mission of Catholic Charities continues to inspire the diocese.

At the end of his remarks the Bishop announced that the Board of Catholic Charities has approved the creation of the “Catholic Charities of Fairfield County Foundation to permanently endow its charitable works.

“Catholic Charities is love in action,” he said, after presenting the Dr. Marguerite T. Boylan Awards for service to the poor to nine individuals from the area with a lifetime of service and concern for those in need. Dr. Boylan founded Catholic Charities in Bridgeport and was a lifelong advocate of the poor.

The Boylan Awards were presented to Peggy Ceponis of Ridgefield for her volunteer service at Morning Glory Breakfast Program in Danbury; Fr .John Giuliani of Redding, one of the founders of Merton House in Bridgeport; ,Bruce and Linda Koe of Greenwich who helped to found the diocesan “Loaves and Fishes” campaign; Denis and Britta Nayden for their support of the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, St. Catherine’s Academy, and Trinity Catholic High School; Anne and Mary Sommer for their support of Merton Center in Bridgeport and New Covenant House in Stamford; and Msgr. Robert Weiss for his outstanding and compassionate leadership in the Newtown Community after the Sandy Hook tragedy .

Catholic Charities President Al Barber read the following tributes to those who came forward to accept the Boylan Awards:

Peggy Ceponis: An active parishioner at St. Mary Parish in Ridgefield, Ceponis helped reignite the parish youth group, mobilizing young people to organize food and clothing drives for the Thomas Merton Center in Bridgeport; tutor other youth at St. Peter Parish in Bridgeport; serve breakfast at Morning Glory; and cook dinners at New Covenant Center in Stamford. In 2008 she focused her energies on CCFC’s Morning Glory Breakfast Program and helped launch the Market Place food pantry there. Ceponis has found that she connects with the homeless population, and now devotes most of her time and efforts to their needs. Ceponis said, “Catholic Charities has always encouraged me to see the whole person, and not just the wrong turns in their life.”

Father John Guiliani: The Thomas Merton Center would not exist were it not for Father John Guiliani. In the 1970s, he and a group of students joined forces to establish the Thomas Merton House of Hospitality in Bridgeport and then the Good Shepherd House of Hospitality in South Norwalk, both of which served as models for New Covenant Center in Stamford and Dorothy Day House in Danbury. Never one to slow down, in 1977 Father John, along with two others, founded The Benedictine Grange. The Grange explored a new monasticism, balancing a life of contemplation with a life of active works of social justice. In recent years, the Grange has extended its concerns to assisting the undocumented through support to individuals and to the Office of Immigration Services at Catholic Charities. Father John represents a hybrid of roles—priest, teacher, artist, liturgist, poet, theologian, activist, humanitarian and faithful servant.

Bruce and Linda Koe: Bruce and Linda Koe’s approach to giving back is nothing if not down-to-earth. Both are extremely active in Trinity Church, Greenwich, where they co-founded Loaves and Fishes, a group that regularly cooks and serves meals at New Covenant Center. Bruce founded Men’s Social Outreach; and Linda serves on the Missions, Outreach and Justice committee. Due to Linda’s passion for addressing food insecurity, they took a deep- dive into New Covenant Center. Linda served as secretary of the New Covenant advisory board, founded the annual Harvest Table fundraiser six years ago, and has devoted countless hours of volunteer time. Between monetary donations and on-the-ground action, the Koes have been instrumental in supporting the New Covenant Center of the future.

Denis and Britta Nayden: There’s a strong magnet that draws Denis and Britta Nayden to take action: young people. The Naydens have been stalwart supporters of the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, St. Catherine’s Academy, Trinity Catholic High School and the University of Connecticut. Another youth-centered cause that’s close to their hearts is Build On, an organization that helps break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy worldwide. In honor of Denis’ brother, the Naydens established the William Nayden Memorial Scholarship at Trinity Catholic High School. Over the last 13 years, this schol- arship has grown into a $1.2 mil- lion dollar endowment, providing over 30 scholarships for Trinity Catholic students. Why do these members of St. Leo Parish in Stamford do so much to help others? Denis explained: “Our family grew up in Catholic schools and churches, where there’s a constant reminder of what’s actually important to do in life.”

Anne and Mary Sommer: The Sommers’ tale is a generational one. Anne, now in her 90s, has been the guiding-star of her family of eight children. She instilled a passion for helping others by bringing her young flock to serve at the Thomas Merton Center, where she was a board member for many years. Her eldest child Mary, a Supreme Court Judge for the State of Connecticut, was inspired early on by her mother to jump into social action. Mary has served on advisory boards for child advocacy programs, prison literacy programs, and juvenile justice activities. Mary’s husband, Jay Sandek, is a lead trustee with the Singer Foundation, which donated $500,000 to New Covenant Center. The Sommer women have truly manifested “faith in action” with their continued commitment to CCFC. Mary says, “I believe so deeply that Fairfield County would be a very different place were it not for Catholic Charities.”

Msgr. Robert Weiss: When the Sandy Hook shooting struck four years ago, Msgr. Weiss, the pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown, was faced with a community in shock, despair, and loss. But he provided comfort, guidance, and hope to his extend- ed community. “The Sandy Hook School shooting required endless hours of caring people reaching out to those who were afraid, those most deeply affected by loss and injury and a community in shock. Charities was there from the beginning,” he says, “and stayed by our side for months, providing what they provide the best: confidence that darkness will not overcome light, hurt can be healed and forgiveness leads us to hope.”

Catholic Charities of Fairfield County, Inc. is one of the largest private social service providers in Connecticut. Since 1916, Catholic Charities has served all people with programs that feed the hungry and homebound, shelter the homeless, strengthen families, assist the physically and emotionally challenged, and deliver consultation and assistance to immigrants. It serves all people without regard to age, race, religion, or ability to pay. For information visit the web:

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

Michelle Smith named coordinator of CSC
| September 23, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Michelle Smith has been named coordinator of the new Catholic Service Corps (CSC), a synod initiative created in response to the call for service and the need to engage youth in faith and good works.

“Michelle’s experiences as a religious education teacher, events planner, fundraiser and media director will provide faithful leadership as we work to bring the Catholic Service Corps to full fruition,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano. “She understands that works of service are grounded in faith and part of the formation process for our young people.”

Smith’s first priority has been the development of partnerships and volunteer opportunities for the upcoming September 24 Day of Service. The day will include projects across the diocese, concluding with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Caggiano in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity to launch the Catholic Services Corps,” said Smith who grew up in St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Weston. “When I was a young person, these service opportunities didn’t really exist. It’s exciting that they’re available to young children today. Engaging young people in service is important to the future of the universal Church.”

She said the CSC will put service “in the Catholic context of social justice and make young people more aware of the challenges in our diocese. The haves and have-nots live side by side in Fairfield County, co-existing with one another, and there are many needs. Social justice surrounds the need for service.”

Smith said she hopes that the corps “ignites a flame or passion in the kids to grow in their faith. They will be able to look right and look left and see how many others are involved in service doing service. Hopefully, it will also lead them to Mass on Sundays.”

Smith said the goal isn’t simply to put young people to work but she hoped to create a volunteer experience that is “inviting, affirming, inclusive, social and fun.”  

Smith joined Fairfield Prep this fall as a member of the Theology Department.  She has served as campus minister, theology teacher, and director of middle school social justice and service at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich since 2010. She is also currently a doctoral candidate in religious education at Fordham University.

Smith, her husband, Jim, and their four children are long-time parishioners of St. Francis of Assisi Parish.

(For more information on the Catholic Serve Corps, contact Michelle Smith: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

Youth Day of Service Set for Saturday
| September 23, 2016


The diocese will formally launch the new Catholic Service Corps (CSC) with a day of service and a Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano on Saturday, September 24.

More than 100 young people who are participating in pilot programs for the service corps will be at work in a variety of settings including Merton Center in Bridgeport, New Covenant Center in Stamford, Connecticut Food Bank, Morning Glory in Danbury, Al’s Angels in Westport, and the St. Vincent DePaul Society on the grounds of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Norwalk.

Michelle Smith, the newly named coordinator of the Catholic Service Corps, said the young people will be painting, serving food, stocking shelves, wrapping gifts, and doing yard work and clean-up projects for those in need.

Smith said some of the 15 CSC chapters involved in the pilot program may be sending as few as five young people, while others may send 20 or more. Each service project will combine young people from various groups in order to provide a better learning experience and to reinforce the universal call to service.

The young people will work at their assignments from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm. Each chapter will begin their service with a brief prayer and reflection on the work they are about to undertake, Smith said.

After four hours of service, they will gather at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Sacred Heart University for Mass with Bishop Frank J. Caggiano who will ask the youth to reflect on their service as an outgrowth of their faith.

The Mass will be followed by a picnic on the grounds of the university that will give the young people from different parishes and organizations the opportunity to meet and socialize. Each young person will receive a Catholic Service Corps T-shirt.

Smith said that interest in the Catholic Service Corps is growing. 
At present, when asked about joining, she directs them to existing chapters. In year two of the projects, she hopes to be able to add new chapters to the diocesan effort.

Musical cast works to Save Our Sound
| September 23, 2016


HAMDEN—”God gave us a bountiful garden, but we have turned it into a polluted wasteland of debris, desolation, and filth," Pope Francis writes in Laudato Si, a papal document released to coincide with the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.

Each year the cast and crew of Sacred Heart Academy’s annual musical implements a concept-based service project. Inspired by Pope Francis, the cast and crew of this year's musical decided to act on his words. Being "Under the Sea" can be fun, but the reality of living on the Connecticut shoreline is another story. “By partnering with the non-profit organization Save Our Sound, this year's "Little Mermaid" team committed to several beach clean-ups throughout the month of September. Preserving nature is a vital aspect of the Pope's call to action and our students responded with hours of dedicated service by cleaning up our shoreline,” shared musical director MaryLee Delaney.

This year’s musical—Disney’s The Little Mermaid—will run the first weekend in November at the historic Shubert Theatre in downtown New Haven. The cast of more than 150 students has been practicing since August. Tickets are available at Sacred Heart Academy, 265 Benham St., Hamden,, or through the Shubert Box Office.

Knights bring comfort with their donation
| September 23, 2016


NORWALK—In late spring, two Fairfield County Knights of Columbus Councils partnered to hold a Golf Tournament for Charity named the Sword & Shield Golf Classic.

Under the leadership of co-chairs George Ribellino of Norwalk Council 14360 from St. Matthew Parish and Greg Matera of Fairfield Council 11077 from Our Lady of Assumption, the golf tournament was a rousing success raising funds for several organizations including Malta House, a home for unwed mothers and their children in Norwalk. 

On September 7, members of both councils arrived at Malta House, joining the residents and board members for Mass and dinner before presenting checks totaling $2,200 from a portion of the proceeds from the outing. “To be able to do good for those in your community gives such a level of satisfaction, it really can’t be described,” said Golf Finance chair and current Deputy Grand Knight from Council 14360, Anthony Armentano. “Malta House does so much good and we are honored to help where we can.”  

Co-chair Matera echoed Armentano’s sentiment, “We are proud that the Knights of Columbus is able to support the needs of Malta house and their residents and we hope for many more golf tournaments and other events to come. Malta House will put the money to good use for the residents as they plan to purchase new mattresses and other items for the residents.”

Both Knights councils have worked with Malta House over the years by providing diaper, wipes, formula and supplying man hours to paint and make repairs at the house. “I have worked with Malta House since joining my Knight council in 2009. I admire the work that the staff and board do to help the mother and children at Malta House. We were so honored to present a check from the proceeds of the golf tournament for Malta House to provide new mattresses and bedding for the bedroom,” said Tournament co-chair George Ribellino, Jr.

For more info on Malta House, go to

World’s oldest Catholic bishop dies at 104
| September 22, 2016 • by John Burgeson, CT Post


NEW JERSEY—It’s not clear if he ever threw a Hail Mary pass when he played football at Shelton High School in 1929, but he later made goals few achieve in a lifetime.

Retired Archbishop Peter Gerety, a native of Shelton, who served
as archbishop of Newark, N.J., and bishop of Portland, Maine,
died Tuesday at the age of 104.

Shelton’s scrappy left end went on to become a priest, a civil rights-era advocate—and the world’s oldest Catholic bishop. Archbishop Peter Leo Gerety, who led the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., died Tuesday at 104, the archdiocese confirmed.

“The Diocese of Bridgeport mourns the loss and celebrates the life of Archbishop Peter Gerety, a native of Shelton who grew up in St. Joseph Parish and is remembered fondly for his kindness and generosity as a person,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

He added: “I was personally grateful that he traveled back to the diocese at the age of 101 to attend my installation as bishop. Our Church and our faith today truly stands on the shoulders of men like Archbishop Gerety.”

One might think the life of an archbishop would be filled with sermons, religious studies, tending to his flock, deep contemplation and visits to the the Vatican. To be sure, those experiences were familiar to Gerety.

But in the 1930s, the future archbishop found himself on a rather different path. In an extensive interview in August 2009, Gerety revealed that one of his first jobs out of high school was manning a roadblock for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“There was an infestation of Japanese beetles,” he said, “and I was one of the guys who stopped cars at roadblocks to see if they had any fruits and vegetables, that kind of thing, to keep the beetles from spreading. They didn't like to see us."

Led black church

Gerety was the eldest of nine children, all boys. He was educated in Shelton’s public school system, attending the Commodore Hull Elementary School on Oak Avenue, which still stands and has since been converted into an apartment building.

“When I went to Shelton High, I was captain of the football team in my senior year,” he said. “Left end.”

His time at Shelton High has left its football team with a tradition, according to Sister Nancy Strillacci of the St. Joseph Parish in Shelton, who had been in contact with Gerety in recent years.

“In fact, to this day, before a game, the team has a tradition of attending Mass at St. Joseph because of Archbishop Gerety,” she said. “Of course it’s optional—some members of the team aren’t Catholic. But the parish provide sandwiches for the team afterwards, and that custom began with Father Gerety.”

Strillacci belongs to the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

After the job manning roadblocks for the USDA and a later job with the New Jersey Department of Transportation, he enrolled in the St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, Connecticut. After that, he soon found himself as being an advocate for the poor in New Haven.

His first assignment was in St. John the Evangelist Parish on Davenport Avenue, across the street from Yale-New Haven Hospital.

“I was there for three years,” he said in the 2009 interview. “Then I was appointed to St. Martin de Porres Church on Dixwell Avenue in 1942. It was an all-black congregation. St. Martin de Porres is a black saint. I founded the place in 1942.”

It was during that time that he worked with the Legislature to get civil-rights laws passed and pressed for improvements in interracial relations, and the improvement of the situation for blacks.

Inner-city bishop

He was sent by the church to Maine in the 1960s, and he became Portland’s eighth bishop in 1969.

When he was appointed as the third archbishop of Newark, he welcomed the move back to the inner-city.

“The fact of the matter is it was more of a change moving from Dixwell Avenue up to Maine than it was moving from Maine to Newark,” Gerety said. “The inner-city setting was what I was familiar with. Newark is very much an urbanized area—very much what I was used to in New Haven."

Caggiano made note of the fact that when Gerety returned to St. Joseph Parish in Shelton to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2013, he was the only person who was there at both the Church’s opening — as a child — and its 100th anniversary.

He spent his final years at St. Joseph's Home for the Elderly, run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, in Totowa.

“He will be remembered as a man of wit and humor with a great love for the poor and a sense of the importance of community in the life of the Church and in our neighborhoods," Caggiano said.

Click here for the original CT Post story

2016 St. Augustine Medals of Service set for October 15
| September 21, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—The Saint Augustine Medal of Service prayer service and awards ceremony will be held at St. Augustine Cathedral on Saturday, October 15, beginning at 1 pm.

A reception will follow at Kolbe-Cathedral High School on the grounds of the cathedral campus.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will lead the prayer service and present medals to more than 150 recipients from parishes and ministries across the diocese.

“True generosity comes from those who are grateful for their lives and who faithfully use the gifts God has given them,” said Bishop Caggiano. “We will celebrate the St. Augustine medalists as mentors, guides and prophets in their love and service. I look forward to meeting them and their families and recognizing their great commitment to others through the Church.”

Last year, more than 700 friends and family of the recipients turned out for the Medal of Service ceremony.

Pastors, priests and deacons throughout the diocese accompany the recipients as they come forward to be presented the medal by Bishop Caggiano.

The St. Augustine Medal of Service was instituted in 2005 to recognize the “unsung heroes” who unselfishly give of their time and talents to build up parish communities. On one side of the medal is an image of St. Augustine of Hippo, patron saint of the diocese. The reverse features the coat of arms of the diocese.

(For more information, contact Janet Davis: 203.416.1636 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

U.S. bishops support day of prayer for sex abuse victims
| September 20, 2016 • by Catholic News Agency


WASHINGTON—In light of Pope Francis' call to pray for the victims of sexual abuse, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will support a Worldwide Day of Prayer for Sexual Abuse Survivors, highlighting the importance of healing and noting the progress the Church has made over the years.

“With a pastor's heart, Pope Francis renewed the call of the universal Church to pray for, help heal and proactively protect children from the terrible sin of sexual abuse,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a September 16 statement.

“This universal expression of healing and sorrow, joined by our brothers and sisters around the world, will be a powerful reminder that no survivor should walk the path toward healing alone,” he said.

The Worldwide Day of Prayer was originally suggested at the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) Plenary Assembly by a survivor of clerical child sexual abuse.

Pope Francis approved the notion, and encouraged each National Bishops Conference to hold the day of prayer on a suitable date within each prospective country. Australia already held their prayer day on September 11, and South Africa announced a prayer weekend from December 2-4. The Philippines are planning to determine a date in the near future.

The administrative committee for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops began discussing the day of prayer for abuse victims last week, but have yet to announce a date. Archbishop Kurtz hopes that the day of prayer will bring healing to wounded victims and grace to prevent future abuses.

“For whenever we have failed to protect our children from predators, we beg God's forgiveness. For wherever we have failed to support victims of sexual abuse, we beg their forgiveness,” Archbishop Kurtz said.

The Kentucky archbishop also underscored the progress the Church has made to fight sexual abuse, pointing to diocesan programs such as the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, saying “we have learned from the pain of such moments to motivate a rigorous prevention program.”

In addition, the Church has also made strides in preventing abuse by pursuing a proactive approach in reforming church law. The Church has also removed clergy who have committed abuses and opened meetings between victims and the Holy Father.

Archbishop Kurtz noted that many parishes in the United States have benefited from past prayer days and reconciliation services, saying that the faithful should always pray for abuse survivors and for prevention in the future.

“Let us pray that we may never become complacent in our prayer and protection,” Archbishop Kurtz stated.

“If you have been the victim of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, notify law enforcement and please know there is a victim assistance coordinator in every U.S. diocese ready to help. They are trained and ready to receive your call.”

Catholic Girl Scouts serve others
| September 19, 2016


RIDGEFIELD—On Saturday, September 17, the American Heritage Girls organization celebrated its “Day of Service” encouraging all its members to serve their local communities.

American Heritage Girls Catholic Troop CT6877 of Ridgefield spent their morning serving at The Thomas Merton Center Soup Kitchen. The girls ages 6-13 began the day by setting up the tables and chairs, putting out mums and setting up goodie bags for distribution.

After singing grace, they assisted serving food, condiments and even playing games with a few of the Thomas Merton Center clients.

Jennifer Mitchell, troop coordinator shared "I was touched and amazed at the willingness of these amazing girls to get up at 6 am, travel 45 minutes and instead of soccer games and cartoons they chose to spend their morning serving as Christ did. The smiles were wide and frequent and were as common among the scouts as they were among the clients being served with such love and care, I honestly could not tell you who enjoyed it more."

After the service experience the troop gathered and shared favorite memories. The list was long and included amazing moments with the clients exchanging fist bumps, playing a game or just making someone smile! All in all it was a great success and beautiful experience.

American Heritage Girls is the premier national character development organization for young women that embraces Christian values and encourages family involvement. To learn more about AHG, find a troop or consider starting aa troop at your parish please visit their website


A diocesan journey of faith
| September 19, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—On Saturday, November 5, 1-6 pm, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will consecrate the Diocese of Bridgeport to the Sacred Heart of Jesus at St. Augustine Cathedral.

ASKING OUR LADY’S BLESSING—The bishop concluded the Synod Celebration Mass
by kneeling in silent prayer before thousands at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport
and dedicating the diocese to our Blessed Mother. The new statue, donated for the occasion,
is now enshrined at St. Augustine Cathedral.

This act is the culmination of the consecration of the diocese to Mary’s protection under the title of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which took place at the Synod Celebration Mass on September 19, 2015. The pilgrimage and consecration of the diocese were announced at Synod 2014 as the prayerful foundation for the change and renewal underway in the diocese based on synod initiatives to create more vibrant and welcoming parish communities.

“It is my hope that the faithful throughout the diocese will join us for this pilgrimage of prayer and consecration. We have so much to be thankful for, and so much more work to do. Putting our faith and trust in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and our Blessed Mother will help us in our personal and diocesan pilgrimage of faith and renewal,” said the bishop.

The original plan for the pilgrimage was to travel to Washington, D.C., to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. However, the plans were changed to accommodate those who wished to participate in the pilgrimage but could not make the trip to Washington.

“After receiving feedback from pastors and various ecclesial movements in the diocese, the venue was changed so that there could be greater participation in this important event. So we’ve made it a local day of prayer and pilgrimage,” said Msgr. Thomas Powers, vicar general of the diocese.

Msgr. Powers said that while many people think of pilgrimages as something from the past, they are still very much part of the Church’s life.

“Pilgrimages are privileged, spiritual opportunities for all of us to grow in our faith. Just as our whole lives are a journey through time, with the goal of that journey being to reach safely the presence of Christ himself, so too a pilgrimage is a journey made by a person of faith to a site which holds some deep spiritual significance,” he said.

Pope Francis has encouraged the faithful to consider a pilgrimage as an instrument of conversion. “The practice of pilgrimage has a special place in the Holy Year, because it represents the journey each of us makes in this life. Life itself is a pilgrimage, and the human being is a viator, a pilgrim travelling along the road.”

The schedule for the day is as follows:

1 pm         Arrival
1:15 pm    Welcome and Opening Remarks
1:30 pm    Recitation of the Scriptural Rosary (Start of Confessions)
2 pm         Eucharistic Adoration and Presentation by Father Andrew Apostoli, CFR
3 pm         Divine Mercy Chaplet (Conclusion of Confessions)
3:30 pm    Break
4 pm         Eucharistic Celebration (with Consecration)

For four weeks leading up to the consecration on November 5, all parishes and schools will receive weekly catechetical essays, which are designed to help the diocesan family understand and prepare for the event. The essays will be made available through parish bulletins, school memoranda and on school website, said Msgr. Powers.

The essays will also appear in the next issue of Fairfield County Catholic and on the diocesan website.

The four topics are: I. The Meaning of Christian Pilgrimage, II. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, III. Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and IV. The Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Bishop Caggiano is also calling for a day of fasting and abstinence on Friday, November 4, in solidarity of faith and for reparation for sin. All persons between the ages of 18 and 59 are invited to abstain from meat and to take only one full meal and two smaller meals that together are not equal to the full meal.

The bishop will also ask pastors to use the prayers for the Votive Mass for the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus for all Masses celebrated in the Diocese of Bridgeport on Sunday, November 6 (including the Saturday Vigil Masses).

“Together with Pope Francis, who reminds us that ‘mercy is a goal to reach, and requires dedication and sacrifice,’ let us pray that we, together with our brothers and sisters across our diocese, will respond enthusiastically to this invitation to grace, so that our diocesan pilgrimage and consecration on November 5 will be a day of joy, and of lasting grace, for this local Church in this Jubilee Year of Mercy,” said Msgr. Powers.

All are welcome to attend.

(For further information about the pilgrimage, contact, Janet Davis: 203.416.1636 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

Exhibit of St. Thomas More artifacts debuts at St. John Paul II shrine
| September 17, 2016 • by Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service


WASHINGTON—A new exhibit featuring artifacts revolving around St. Thomas More has opened at the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington.

Titled "God's Servant First: The Life and Legacy of Thomas More," the exhibit runs through March 31. The title comes from what are believed to be More's last words before going to the chopping block where he was beheaded: "I die the king's good servant, and God's servant first."

Nearly all of the 60 or so items in the exhibit come from Stonyhurst College in England, according to Jan Graffius, the curator of collections at Stonyhurst, a Jesuit institution. The Knights of Columbus and Stonyhurst's Christian Heritage Center organized the exhibit and are its sponsors.

To be able to have so many artifacts is remarkable, Graffius told Catholic News Service September 15, the day before the exhibit opened, as she and her team were putting the finishing touches on the exhibit. King Henry VIII, who had St. Thomas More imprisoned in the Tower of London for more than a year before his execution, and subsequent monarchs had made Roman Catholicism virtually illegal and had all traces of Catholicism wiped out.

St. Thomas More, a lawyer and the first layman to serve as chancellor of England, had balked at helping Henry VIII obtain an annulment so he could marry Anne Boleyn in hopes of bearing him a son to be heir to the throne. After the pope denied the annulment, Henry declared himself head of the church in England, conferring upon himself the power to divorce and marry whomever he pleased.

More, who also was a husband and father, resigned his position as chancellor to the throne to avoid being forced to acknowledge Henry VIII as head of the church. But after a law was passed requiring acknowledgment by all Britons of Henry's authority, More refused to sign a document stating as such. He was ultimately imprisoned, convicted of a capital treason with the help of perjured testimony, and beheaded. He has since been seen as a champion of conscience rights.

The luckless first wife of Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon, spent her last days before her own death, possibly from poisoning, embroidering grapes onto a chasuble. That chasuble is in the exhibit.

Anne Boleyn wasn't all that lucky, either. After bearing a daughter—Elizabeth I—and later miscarrying, she fell into Henry's disfavor, was imprisoned on trumped-up charges of adultery, incest and treason, was herself beheaded 11 months after Thomas More, and buried not far from him, Graffius said.

Two relics in the exhibit made their way to the United States a few months ahead of the rest of the artifacts. One is a jawbone fragment of St. Thomas More; the other is a ring worn by St. John Fisher, who was also martyred under Henry VIII. Both were on exhibit during the U.S. bishops' "Fortnight for Freedom" activities in June and July.

The anti-Catholic laws imposed by Henry VIII stayed on the books in England for nearly three centuries until they were repealed in 1829. In 1886, St. Thomas More was beatified. In 1935, both he and St. John Fisher, who had been executed a few months before More, were both canonized. St. Thomas More was added to the Anglican calendar of saints in 1980.

Because of the anti-Catholic laws, Graffius said, Catholic parents had to sneak their children out of the country, sometimes under false identities, so they could receive a Catholic education. One of those schools was in the Spanish Netherlands—mostly modern-day Belgium and Luxembourg—and was the forerunner to Stonyhurst College.

St. Thomas More was part of the martyrology proclaimed every day at the school. The exhibit includes a schoolbook used by two brothers who eventually made their way to the United States. On one page of the book, an illustration of two men was defaced when one of the students sketched the men as smoking pipes. To this day, she added, nobody knows whether the pipes were added by John Carroll, the first Catholic archbishop in the United States, or his brother Charles Carroll, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence.

In 2000, St. John Paul II made St. Thomas More, who had already been the patron saint of lawyers, the patron saint of statesman and politicians. The pontiff said his life and martyrdom offered a testimony that "spans the centuries" and "speaks to people everywhere of the inalienable dignity of the human conscience."

Patrick Kelly, the shrine's executive director, said in a statement that St. Thomas More's example "remains thoroughly modern."

"He is an eloquent example of courageous Christian discipleship, and it is our hope that this exhibit will inspire others to imitate his virtues and his extraordinary fidelity to God and to a well-formed conscience," Kelly added.

The exhibit comes during the golden anniversary of the 1966 film biography of St. Thomas More, "A Man for All Seasons." Recently restored with a new Technicolor print, "A Man for All Seasons"—based on the stage play of the same name—grossed the fifth-best box office numbers of the year, a stunning accomplishment given that it wasn't released until December 12 that year and the weightiness of its subject matter.

The movie was nominated for eight Oscars and won six, including Best Picture, Best Director for Fred Zinneman and Best Actor for Paul Scofield as Thomas More. It also won five British Academy Film Awards and four Golden Globes, as well as a Best Actor award for Scofield at the Moscow International Film Festival.

Diocesan Statement on hearing and oral argument related to its motion for a protective order in Bridgeport Superior Court
| September 16, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—The Diocese has agreed to and has spent many, many hours satisfying Tremont and Sheldon’s discovery demand to review and disclose any and all information found in priest personnel files, including priests not accused of anything.

Their request has been extremely broad and has involved the personnel records of numerous priests with long and successful careers who have never had an allegation brought against them. These priests are not in any way implicated in the current cases, and the Diocese has complied with the request, producing the documents. However, it is seeking to limit the use of this information outside of the current cases at issue.  
In producing the files of priests not implicated in current cases, the Diocese has requested confidential treatment of certain information including but not limited to, medical records. As the diocese commits to full transparency and accountability with respect to any allegation of abuse, it also has the responsibility and the obligation to protect the privacy of priests in good standing from having their personal information publicly disclosed.
The Diocese has repeatedly asked the team at Tremont and Sheldon to agree to mediate the cases in order to reach a settlement. They have refused to mediate each and every time, even when the request has been made in the presence of Judge Bellis.
It is noteworthy that while the Tremont and Sheldon cases have been pending without any resolution for the benefit of the alleged victims, the Diocese has successfully settled through mediation several cases involving other attorneys.
While the Diocese responds to this challenge, it continues to reaffirm its commitment to zero tolerance of child abuse, to remove from ministry anyone who has been credibly accused, and to bring healing and support to the victims and their families.

Bishop tells future healthcare professionals to be Ministers of Mercy
| September 15, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—“You’re at the frontline of suffering. You enter the rooms of those who are suffering and serve as ministers of Mercy,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano to 250 students and faculty of St. Vincent’s College.

The bishop delivered his homily at the 2016 Convocation Mass, held in the Hawley Conference Center. The event also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the transition from the School of Nursing to St. Vincent’s College.

Priests from the St. Vincent’s Pastoral Care Department con-celebrated the Mass with the Bishop, while students and faculty members delivered the readings and responses. Vince Caponi, newly named CEO of St. Vincent’s Health Services was also in attendance.

Speaking on the Feast of The Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the Bishop said that suffering is part of the human condition, but people can choose to transform it though the eyes of faith and mercy.

“In suffering we can choose to surrender ourselves to the will of God and trust in his great love,” said the bishop.

The bishop noted that when Jesus appeared to the apostles after his death, he had the “wounds of the cross on his hands and in his side. Even in glory, Christ bears the wounds of his passion,” said the bishop.

“The cross reveals a God who is not afraid to stand by his people in their suffering
God is never closer to the human hear than in the moment of suffering,” the bishop said as an ambulance siren sounded outside the building.

The bishop said that even when healthcare workers cannot reverse the course of suffering, they can help to bring life and healing.

“You enter into the wounded-ness of others,” he said. “Thank you for being ministers of mercy,” he told the future healthcare professionals.

During the ceremony, Bishop Caggiano blessed the new chalice and paten purchased for the St. Vincent’s Medical Center Chapel. He also blessed the St. Vincent’s College Flag, which was raised on the Main Street flagpole following Mass.

Mike Gargano, President of St. Vincent’s College, called his convocation “an historic moment,” and asked students to think of the new flag as a symbol of the school’s history, which began with the “vision of the Daughters of Charity to serve the poorest and sickest among us.”

President Gargano said the Sisters didn’t do their work “for recognition,” and he urged students to always keep in mind that “nothing matters if we don’t serve others.”

Dr. Karen Barnett, Dean of Health Services of St. Vincent’s College, delivered the welcome.

“We are children of God called to share his mercy and we are citizen of the nation called to serve the community,” she said.

Founded in 1905 as the St. Vincent’s Hospital Training School for Nurses by the Daughters of Charity and known for decades as the School of Nursing, St. Vincent’s College has graduated generations of nurses and other allied health professionals. In 1991, the School was officially incorporated as St. Vincent’s College, ushering in a new era of growth. Over 4,500 alumni represent radiographers, cardiovascular technologists, medical assistants, nurses and others healthcare professionals.

St. Vincent’s College is located at 2800 Main Street, Bridgeport, Connecticut. On the web:

Catholic School students catch a day at the Bluefish!
| September 14, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—The Office of the Superintendent of Schools recently took a sort of “school field trip.” The education department attended a Bridgeport Bluefish baseball day game to represent the 31 Catholic schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

The Bluefish offered the Superintendent, Dr. Steven Cheeseman, and his staff complimentary tickets as part of their Non-Profit Appreciation Day initiative.

Dr. Cheeseman had the privilege of throwing out the first pitch; however the newly appointed superintendent extended the offer to a student. “While I am honored to have been selected, I thought it would be more fitting if a student from one of our schools had this opportunity for a memorable experience,” commented Dr. Cheeseman.

Anthony Virgile, a 15 year old student at St. Catherine Academy Special Needs School in Fairfield was chosen.  Dr. Cheeseman joined Anthony and his principal, Brian Farrell, on the mound to start the game. Anthony admits he was a little nervous but no signs were evident to those in the stadium. “I was very impressed by his demeanor. He was confident, yet humble. He proudly represented our Catholic schools in the diocese,” observed the Superintendent.

The crowd cheered as Anthony threw a strike! Anthony’s smile was visible all the way from the sky box. He remarked, “I can’t believe they picked our school. I am so happy to have been chosen!”

In addition to the students and staff of St. Catherine Academy, the fourth grade from St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School in Fairfield was also in attendance. Students from St. Thomas School participated in many on-field promotions which included a dance competition and a race against the Bluefish mascot.

Trinity Catholic High School Christens New Multi-Purpose Athletic Field
| September 12, 2016


STAMFORD—Sixteen months after the Most Reverend Bishop Frank Caggiano presided over the ground breaking for the new Trinity Catholic High School multi-purpose athletic field, Interim Principal, Tony Pavia, welcomed donors, students, faculty, staff, parents, and dignitaries from the Diocese of Bridgeport to the christening of the new multi-purpose athletic field.

Following first Friday Mass everyone made their way down to the new field for the christening ceremony for Gaglio Field.

Founded in 1958, Trinity Catholic High School is a Catholic co-educational college preparatory high school in the Diocese of Bridgeport, with a long tradition of excellence in academics, athletics and community service. Trinity Catholic is committed to educating the whole person within the Roman Catholic tradition. The school provides an atmosphere of respect and reverence in which each member is able to develop spiritually, morally, intellectually, socially, and physically in order to live as a positive Christian witness and responsible citizen in the service of God and others.

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The City went Silent | Bishop Caggiano’s Reflection on 9/11
| September 11, 2016


It was a moment that I will never forget. It happened around 3:00 PM on September 11, 2001, a few hours after the horrible attacks against our country and their terrible aftermath began to unfold. It is a moment that taught me a great lesson about the true meaning of this day of remembrance and prayer.

I had just walked out of the rectory of Saint Dominic’s Parish in Brooklyn where I served as pastor. I had spent the entire morning alternating between watching on television with disbelief the unfolding of the horrors of that morning and consoling parents and spouses of my parishioners who worked at the World Trade Center, frantic with fear and panic, seeking some word of comfort in a time of great uncertainty and anxiety. I walked out to clear my mind and simply to catch my breath and what I experienced was a moment of absolute quiet- a silence that enveloped the entire city. Having lived my whole life in the city, I had never “heard” so deep and compelling a silence. For a brief moment, there were no trains, buses, planes and cars anywhere to be seen. The streets were empty. The only sound I could hear was my own heartbeat.

That one single moment of silence spoke strongly of the spiritual challenge of that day. For on one hand, the silence was a natural response to the face of such grave evil. For what response can anyone of good will give to such vile and senseless hate? There are no adequate words to express our revulsion to such evil, to address the anguish of so many, to answer the cries of help that arose that morning. The only response is one of silence.

However, that moment of silence was also for anyone of faith a moment of sacred defiance against such evil. It was a call to stand in hope that Christ’s love will enter into moments of such tragedy. For I remember that as I was standing in awe of the silence around me, it was the peal of the Church bells ringing at 3:00 in the afternoon that broke the silence. They were signaling the hour of Christ’s victory over sin, evil and death itself. Christ in His great mercy was reminding me and everyone willing to listen that His love will never be conquered. Those bells sang the victory that is ours in Christ.

There are those in our world who promote an agenda of hate, destroying life with no regard. However, Christ has already conquered their agenda and whatever they may chose to do. For in the end, as disciples of Christ, we must stand firm against evil, sin and hatred and never lose hope that love will conquer all things.

As we remember those who died fifteen years ago this day and ask the Lord to grant them eternal life, let us enter the silence of this day with hope. For in that silence, we will remember that Christ always stands with us, especially in the hour of our greatest need.

A National Day of Prayer and Remembrance: Blue Mass, 2016
| September 11, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—“Each of you are our community’s first responders. You’re there 24/7. We know you by name,” said Fr. Victor Martin in his homily for the 15th Annual Blue Mass held this morning at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Fairfield.

Almost 600 people turned out to honor local police, fire and first responders and commemorate all those lost in the 9/11/2001 terrorist acts.

They processed into the Church to the tune of “America the Beautiful,” while the stirring recessional began with “Taps,” followed by the National Anthem and the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

The church was filled with men and women in uniform and the bright honor guard flags they carried down the aisle.

“Fifteen years and it seems like yesterday,” said Fr. Martin, Pastor of St. Thomas, who noted that 2,996 were killed on that day and another 6,000 injured in the attacks on New York, Washington D.C. and over the skies of Pennsylvania.

Fr. Martin said he had recently visited the 9/11 Museum and was struck by an inscription on the ceiling, “We came in as individuals but we walked out together.”

In praising local police, fire and rescue workers, Fr. Martin said they are always ready to save others at the worst moments. “You enter at your own risk. From our hearts, we thank you May God bless you always and always keep you safe.”

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano con-celebrated the Mass with Fr. Martin and other priests from the diocese. “When you run into danger, Christ’s victory comes with you He stands with you every step of the way,” the Bishops said to all those who serve.

At the end of Mass, Bishop Caggiano presented special awards for compassion, service and bravery to Greenwich Police Sergeant Michael B. O’Connor; Norwalk Police Officer Mark Suda; Fairfield Police Officer Mark Letsch; Sir Knight Angelo Fernandes of Bridgeport; and long-time police and fire Chaplain Msgr. Willam J. Scheyd, Pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan.

Msgr. Scheyd became the first diocese priest to receive special recognition at the Blue Mass. The gathering rose to give him a standing ovation for his 51 years of service as a priest and Fire, Police, and EMT Chaplain throughout Fairfield County.

The Blue Mass takes its name from the blue uniforms worn by police, fire and emergency services personnel. Founded by Bishop William E. Lori, the Blue Mass was initiated to celebrate the life and heroism of those who died during the 9-11 terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D. C.. Each year it also recognizes local First Responders.

Music for the 9/11 Mass was provided by the St. Thomas Aquinas Choir under the direction of David Harris. The Mass is sponsored each year by the Fairfield County Councils and Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus.


Greenwich Police Department

Sergeant Michael O'Connor was nominated by Greenwich Police Department Chief Jim Heavey. “Sergeant O’Connor is a shining example of selfless service and an inspiration to his fellow police officers and to the Greenwich community,” said Chief Heavey. Sergeant O’Connor has a history of helping those in crisis, both locally and nationally. From relief work after Hurricane Sandy to repairing homes in West Virginia, collecting coats for the poor, helping orphans, working with those recovering from addiction, and building schools in Guatemala, Sergeant O’Connor is a man of service for others. He is a thirty-year veteran of the Greenwich Police Department.

Norwalk Police Department

A 22 year veteran of the Norwalk Police Department, Officer Mark Suda was chosen as Officer of the Year for 2015.This year, Officer Suda has displayed this professionalism once again by taking into custody several dangerous and armed subjects and spearheading the efforts of the Special Services Division while providing a stellar example that inspires his fellow officers. “Throughout the entirety of his career, Officer Suda has excelled in virtually every aspect of police work. His knowledge of the city, its residents and his ability to collaborate with other agencies has proven to be an invaluable resource to the department,” said Chief Thomas Kulhawik .

Fairfield Police Department

Officer Mark Letsch has been a member of the law enforcement community for 17 years. During that time he has shown energy and dedication to the “Often times police officers are honored for a onetime event that changed or saved a life. Officer Mark Letsch has over his career carried himself in such a way that large or small, public or not, his contributions have had great impact on many,” said Chief Gary McNamara. Officer Letsch is Coordinator of the Honor Guard and often represents the police department at public events. In all of his activities including as a member of the Emergency Services Unit, he works to make Fairfield safe.

General Philip T. Sheridan Assembly 107
Knights of Columbus, Bridgeport

In the sad months that followed the “Attack on America” and the deaths of almost 3,000 innocent people, the Knights of Columbus proposed to the Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport that there be an annual Blue Mass on a Sunday close to September 11 to remember those who died and to thank those first responders, police, fire fighters and EMTs who protect us in our Fairfield County. One of the driving forces was Bridgeport Knight Angelo Fernandez. Angelo has also been involved with many other charitable activities such as its assistance to the Thomas Merton House of Hospitality, the Annual Celebration of Marriage as part of St. Margaret Shrine Festival and St. Joseph Convalescence Home.

Police, Fire and EMS Chaplain, Pastor of St. Aloysius Parish, New Canaan

A native of Bridgeport who was ordained to the priesthood in 1965, Msgr. William Joseph Scheyd got his initial taste of being a chaplain during his assignment as an associate pastor at St. Mary’s in Norwalk. Just around the corner from the church was the Norwalk Hospital. With proximity came responsibility. According to Msgr. Scheyd: “It’s one of the few jobs where you’re asked to do just about everything on the first day,” The young priest went right in at the deep end—anointing the sick, comforting the bereaved, praying for lost souls. For his 51 years of service to the people of the Diocese of Bridgeport and to the Police, Fire and EMS personnel in Norwalk and New Canaan during these 51 years of ministry, the Diocese of Bridgeport and the Knights of Columbus recognize Msgr. William J. Scheyd.

Watch: Special Report: Blue Mass For First Responders

Read: Bishop Caggiano's reflection

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St. Matthew Knights and Catholic Daughters Join Notre Dame Convalescent Home Residents and Staff in Special Mass in Remembrance of 9/11
| September 11, 2016


NORWALK—In a solemn outdoor ceremony held on Saturday morning, September 11 on the beautiful grounds of Notre Dame Convalescent Home in Norwalk, members of Council 14360 were joined by their families as well as residents and staff of Notre Dame at a special Mass in remembrance of those who lost their lives fifteen years ago on September 11, 2001.

"It is a true honor to pay respects to those lost on 9-11-01," said Past Grand Knight and newly elected Faithful Navigator of Bishop Fenwick Assembly 100.

On a bright, sunny morning, Notre Dame residents, along with staff, volunteers, a Knights Color Guard and a bagpiper formed a procession across the Notre Dame grounds to a special area where the Mass was held.

Father Reggie Norman, Pastor of Our Lady of Fatima parish (Wilton) and Faithful Friar of Knights of Columbus Bishop Fenwick Assembly 100 was the celebrant of the Mass. Special American flags bearing the names of 9/11 victims were part of the ceremony as well.

Father Reggie in his homily about the 9-11 Anniversary said, "What this day of remembrance allows us to do is to reflect, to recall tragic events and to give thanks for the men and women and children whose stories give us proof of the best of human virtue. This anniversary is a call to live in faith, in forgiveness, and in the truth that the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is our life, our destiny our hope as human beings and specifically as Christians."

The Mass was coordinated by Notre Dame’s Sister Lucie Monast, SSTV, with assistance from Knights of Columbus St Matthew Council 14360 and members of Catholic Daughters, Court St. Matthew, #2640. Following the Mass, a special picnic was held for all attendees which the Knights helped serve. It was truly a special and memorable morning for all.

"It was a wonderful day to honor those whose lives were lost on that sad day, and I thank everyone who took part in this ceremony", said Grand Knight Scott Criscuolo.

The goals of the Knights of Columbus Council at Saint Matthew Church in Norwalk is to perform acts of charity. Pr4oviding 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 goal 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 information, please go to

Watch: Special Report: Blue Mass For First Responders  |  Read: Bishop Caggiano's reflection

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Week in Review
| September 09, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Diocesan Social Media Leader John Grosso has posted a new Week in Review, which offers a 60-second glimpse into many of the good things happening in the Diocese.

This week John takes you to MetLife Stadium, where Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, a lifelong Mets fan, hosted an evening for young adults. Next up is the St. Andrew Dinner, which gives young men interested in the priesthood an opportunity to meeting the Bishop and other priests.

This week's video also take you to the Mass for Young Adults celebrated by Fr. Andrew Vill at the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist in Stamford. For up to date news, photos, and stories about the diocese, click to view this diocesan social media directory:

Lemonade stand donation
| September 09, 2016


DANBURY—Sweet special thanks go to fourth grade students Sophie Ahlberg and Christina Ward, who donated their weekend lemonade stand earnings to St. Gregory the Great School. They are putting their faith into action and living this year’s school theme of being the eyes, hands and feet of Christ in our world.

"St. Gregory’s is very proud of them and grateful for their donation," said Principal Mrs. Suzanne M Curra. "Preparing our students for an ever-changing world requires them to have a strong moral and educational foundation. Our goal is for each and every one of our students to be kind, giving, responsible, problem-solving citizens of the 21st century. Therefore, we are committed to academic excellence in a nurturing, faith-based environment. Not only do our students learn and explore their faith in class every day, but they also put the basic principles of our Catholic identity into action.

"Our students live Jesus Christ’s message of service to others, as demonstrated when they participate at Mass and prayer services, organize clothing drives, and donate to our local food pantry. Our middle school students model the importance of helping others when they spend time assisting our younger students with special class projects, " she said.

St. Gregory the Great is a Pre-School through Grade 8 school located at 85 Great Plain Rd,Danbury, CT 06810. Phone: (203) 748-1217, Grades PK-8. Please call for an appointment, 203-748-1217. Visit the website:

BLUE MASS: A tradition of honor and reverence
| September 06, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—The Annual Diocesan Blue Mass honoring fire, police and rescue workers will be held on Sunday September 11, 9 am at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 1719 Post Road, Fairfield.

A reception immediately following Mass will be held in the St. Thomas Parish Center. Police, Fire and other First Responders throughout the diocese will be honored at this year’s Blue Mass.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the main celebrant along with diocesan priests who serve as police and fire chaplains in Fairfield County.  Fr. Charles Allen, special assistant to the President of Fairfield University, is serving as chairman of the event.
Law Enforcement, Fire and Emergency Medical Service personnel of all faiths in Fairfield County along with members of the general public are invited to attend the Mass and reception.
In keeping with the Blue Mass tradition, Bishop Caggiano will present special awards for compassion, service and bravery to Greenwich Police Sergeant Michael B. O’Connor; Norwalk Police Officer Mark Suda; Fairfield Police Officer Mark Letsch; Angelo Fernandes; Sir Knights of Columbus Angelo Fernandez of Bridgeport; and long-time police and fire Chaplain Msgr. Willam J. Scheyd, Pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan.
The Blue Mass has grown into a moving and memorable commemoration of the courage and commitment of the uniformed personnel who protect the health and safety of people every day of the year in Fairfield County. The Fairfield County Councils and Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus are sponsoring the Mass again this year.
Priest and Fire chaplains now at work throughout the diocese: Rev. Charles H. Allen, S.J., Fairfield Town Emergency Services; Rev. Michael A. Boccaccio, Norwalk Police Department; Rev. David W. Blanchfield, Norwalk Police Department; Msgr. Laurence R. Bronkiewicz, Ridgefield Police Department; Msgr. Stephen M. DiGiovanni, Stamford Police Department; Rev. Bruce Roby, Stratford Fire Department; Rev. Thomas P. Thorne, Westport Police and Fire Departments  and Federal Bureau of Investigation; Rev. Francis T. Hoffmann, Noroton Fire Department; Rev. Christopher Perrella, Noroton Heights Fire Department; Deacon John J. Moranski; Bridgeport Police Department;
Also, Deacon William D. Murphy, Germantown Fire Department; Rev. Samuel V. Scott, Danbury Police Department; Rev. Robert J. Post; Stamford Fire Department; Msgr. William J. Scheyd, New Canaan Emergency Services and  Norwalk Fire Department; Msgr. Richard J. Shea, Trumbull Police Department;  Rev. Terrence P. Walsh, Stamford Police Department; Rev. Frank A. Winn, Glenville Fire Department; Rev. Michael Dunn, Weston Police and Fire Departments; Rev. Joseph Cervero, Redding Police Department; Deacon Frank Masso, Huntington Volunteer Fire Company No. 3; Rev. Nicholas Pavia; Stratford Police Department.
The Blue Mass takes its name from the blue uniforms worn by police, fire and emergency services personnel.  Founded by Bishop William E. Lori, the Blue Mass was initiated to celebrate the life and heroism of those who died during the 9-11 terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. Each year it also recognizes local First Responders.
If you would like to learn more about this event, please feel free to contact Janet Davis, 203.416.1636, email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

St. Teresa of Kolkata will always be 'Mother' Teresa, pope says
| September 04, 2016 • by By Junno Arocho Esteves and Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—With a large tapestry bearing the portrait of the woman known as the "Saint of the Gutters" suspended above him, Pope Francis proclaimed the sainthood of Mother Teresa of Kolkata, hailing her courage and love for the poor.

Click here for the story at Catholic News Service

Despite the formality of the occasion though, "her sanctity is so close to us, so tender and fruitful, that spontaneously we will continue to call her 'Mother Teresa,'" Pope Francis said to applause at the canonization Mass September 4.

"Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defense of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded," the pope said in his homily during the Mass in St. Peter's Square.

An estimated 120,000 people packed the square, many holding umbrellas or waving fans to keep cool under the sweltering heat of the Roman sun. However, upon hearing Pope Francis "declare and define Blessed Teresa of Kolkata to be a saint," the crowds could not contain their joy, breaking out in cheers and thunderous applause before he finished speaking.

The moment was especially sweet for more than 300 Albanians who live in Switzerland, but came to Rome for the canonization. "We are very proud," said Violet Barisha, a member of the Albanian Catholic Mission in St. Gallen.

Daughter of Divine Charity Sister Valdete, a Kosovar and one of the Albanian group's chaplains, said, "We are so happy and honored. We are a small people, but have had so many martyrs."

Born in 1910 to an ethnic Albanian family in Skopje, in what is now part of Macedonia, Mother Teresa 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.

Mother Teresa, Sister Valdete said, is a shining example of how "Albanian women are strong and our people are hardworking."

In his homily, Pope Francis said God's will is explained in the words of the prophets: "I want mercy, not sacrifice."

"God is pleased by every act of mercy because in the brother or sister that we assist, we recognize the face of God which no one can see," he said. "Each time we bend down to the needs of our brothers and sisters, we give Jesus something to eat and drink; we clothe, we help and we visit the Son of God."

Like Mother Teresa, he said, Christians are called not simply to perform acts of charity, but to live charity as a vocation and "to grow each day in love."

"Wherever someone is reaching out, asking for a helping hand in order to get up, this is where our presence—and the presence of the church which sustains and offers hope—must be," the pope said.

Mother Teresa, he said, lived out this vocation to charity through her commitment to defending the unborn and bowing down "before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road."

She also "made her voice heard before the powers of this world so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime of poverty they created," Pope Francis said. "For Mother Teresa, mercy was the 'salt' which gave flavor to her work, it was the 'light' which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering."

For all Christians, especially volunteers engaged in works of mercy, the life of the saintly nun remains an example and witness to God's closeness to the poorest of the poor, he said.

"Today, I pass on this emblematic figure of holiness!" Pope Francis said. "May this tireless worker of mercy help us to increasingly understand that our only criterion for action is gratuitous love, free from every ideology and all obligations, offered freely to everyone without distinction of language, culture, race or religion."

As she made her way through the tight security and past several closed streets to St. Peter's Square, Maria Demuru said, "I couldn't miss this. Even if there's no place left for me to sit."

The small Italian woman said, "Mother Teresa is a sign of the times. In her smallness, she revealed the calling we all have. She said we are all saints by our baptism and we must recover our original holiness. She lived in humility and simplicity like the poor of the earth and was never ashamed of that."

Mother Teresa's simplicity did not keep the powerful away from the Mass, though. Some 20 nations sent official delegations to the Vatican for the canonization. Queen Sofia of Spain led a delegation. The president and prime minister of Albania attended, as did the presidents of Macedonia and Kosovo and the foreign minister of India.

President Barack Obama sent a delegation led by Lisa Monaco, his assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism. The U.S. delegation also included Ken Hackett, ambassador to the Holy See; Carolyn Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services; and Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA.

The first reading at the Mass was read by Jim Towey, who served as Mother Teresa's legal counsel in the United States and Canada from 1985 to 1997, and as director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, 2002-2006.

Mother Teresa’s order follows humble footsteps
| September 04, 2016 • by By Linda Conner Lambeck from


BRIDGEPORT—Sister Ana Wim confesses she did not know who she was meeting during her encounter with Mother Teresa in 1976.

Yet, she was awestruck.

Click here for CT post story

“This woman, growing in fame, was so humble and so simple and so easy to relate to,” Wim, said on Friday. “As I came to know her more and more I became filled with the desire to become more humble, more simple ... I can’t say if I succeeded, by I am on the journey.”

She became part of the Missionaries of Charity, a worldwide order founded by Mother Teresa. Since 2001, the mission has had a convent on Beechwood Avenue in Bridgeport, the only one in Connecticut.

At 2 pm Sunday, when Mother Teresa is canonized, all six sisters who live in mission, including Sister Ana Wim, will be among those at a Mass celebrating the event.

The Mass, which is open to the public, will be held around the block from the convent, at St. Peter Church, 695 Colorado Avenue, with Bishop Frank J. Caggiano presiding.

“While we celebrate here in Fairfield County, Pope Francis will be doing the same in Rome,” said the Rev. Joseph Marcello, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull, and coordinator of the Diocesan Year of Mercy.

The Rev. Brian Gannon, pastor of St. Theresa’s in Trumbull, will also participate in the service. He delivers Mass to the Bridgeport Missionaries in their chapel on Monday mornings. Gannon said he met Mother Teresa once in Rome, when he was a seminarian.

“I think Mother Teresa is an incredibly shining example of what being a disciple of Christ is all about,” Gannon said. “She is one of those people everyone thought was a living saint.”

An honored portrait

The pope has declared September 2-4 as a time of Jubilee for Workers of Mercy.

Mother Teresa is already referred to by many as the Saint of Mercy, because she worked among the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, India. Her work earned her a Nobel Peace Prize.

The sisters in her Bridgeport order run an after-school program and do other charity work. They generally shun publicity, but were invited Friday to the installation of a portrait of Mother Teresa at the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven.

Called “St. Teresa of Calcutta: Carrier of God’s Love,” the painting was commissioned by the Knights for the Missionaries of Charity, with whom they have a long. It is that image, created by artist Chas Fagan, a Yale University graduate, that was chosen for the tapestry hanging on the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica at Mother Teresa’s Vatican canonization.

Reproductions of the portrait will be given to the missionaries, including the one in Bridgeport.

“We were thrilled when it was selected to be official image of canonization,” Knights of Columbus Deputy Supreme Knight Logan Ludwig, said.

Ludwig said the Knights have two decades’ worth of correspondence from Mother Teresa, plus an uncashed check she returned when the Knights tried to contribute to the Missionaries of Charity.

“She said, ‘I really don’t want our sisters to be dependent on gifts like this from you all the time,’ ” Ludwig related. “(I’d) rather you send us your Knights and let them work with the poorest of the poor.”

‘An interceder with Jesus’

Ludwig said that’s what the organization did, increasing its efforts to work with folks on the margins of society.

Mother Teresa would visit the Knights in New Haven in 1987. On Friday, it was sisters from her mission, filling the front row of the museum, wearing the same simple white habits with blue trim and plain brown sandals as Mother Teresa.

Sister Seton, a missionary in Bridgeport for more than four years, said the portrait captures the attention Mother Teresa gave to each person.

“She always had a very attentive look in her eye,” Seton said. “At the same time, her eyes are upward. She would always pause, rosary in her hand. She knew she was an interceder with Jesus.”

Sister Seton met Mother Teresa in 1981. She had joined the order only a few months before.

“There was a tremendous grace,” the sister said. “She always encouraged us to be holy.”

“It makes me feel like she is still here with us,” said Mother Magdelena, the mother superior of the Bridgeport convent.

Bagel Breakfast welcomes Trinity Catholic Middle Schoolers
| September 02, 2016


STAMFORD—Trinity Catholic Middle School in Stamford welcomed 53 incoming 6th graders with a very special orientation on their first day of school.

The Class of 2019 was treated to a bagel breakfast, compliments of the Home School Association, and a special “Blessing of the Backpacks” by Rev. William Quinlan, pastor of St. Gabriel Church in Stamford. Trinity Catholic Middle School Principal, Ms. Abbey Camillery, remarked, “Entering middle school is an exciting and transitioning experience for any ten or eleven year old. It is an event worth celebrating and one worthy of many blessings.”

Students stepped forward with their backpacks, lunch boxes, or just themselves as Fr. Quinlan prayed over them. "We're actually blessing the children. The backpack is just a symbol of children going back to school."

Principal Camillery said she hopes the bagel breakfast and blessing of backpacks become a yearly tradition at Trinity.  

Founded in 1964 as St. Gabriel School, it was established as the only Catholic Middle School in the diocese in 2005. A new wing including classrooms, a gym, and starboards was opened in 2008, and in 2011 Science Labs were added and a technology plan was launched to engage student in the latest advances.

Trinity Catholic Middle School is located at 948 Newfield Avenue, Stamford, CT 06905. For enrollment information, phone: 203.322.7383, or visit the website:

Bishop on Instagram
| September 01, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank Caggiano joined the social networking site Instagram this morning.

In a post on his Facebook page, the Bishop shared his enthusiasm for the new account. “I’m very excited to join you on Instagram today,” the Bishop wrote, “As I begin a new part of my social media ministry, I look forward to sharing with you the beauty of our Catholic faith and journeying with you in this new way!”

The Bishop chose a picture from the recent World Youth Day Reunion, commending the witness, unity, and joy they displayed on the trip. He also prayed that the good work that originated from the pilgrimage to Krakow in July would continue to bear fruit in the coming months.

Bishop Caggiano’s Instagram account will compliment his already strong Twitter and Facebook presence. Over 7,800 faithful “like” his Facebook page, and 2,800 follow him on Twitter. Just 35 minutes after launching the new social media account, Bishop Caggiano had already reached 57 followers.

The Diocese of Bridgeport also maintains a robust social media presence across multiple accounts, including Instagram.

To follow the Bishop’s new account:
Also follow the Diocese of Bridgeport:

EWTN To Air Complete Live Coverage Of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s Canonization
| August 31, 2016


IRONDALE, AL—The EWTN Global Catholic Network invites viewers to tune in Sunday, September 4 to celebrate the canonization of one of the world’s most beloved contemporary saints—Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. EWTN crews will be on-the-ground in Rome providing viewers with the most complete and authoritative coverage available in English, Spanish, and German.

In addition, the Network will air related events, as well as numerous specials on Mother’s life and legacy, beginning Friday, September 2. (Please see for a complete schedule of films and documentaries and to double check times as they are subject to change.

The “Canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta” will air live from Rome at 4 am ET, Sunday, September 4, with encores at 11:30 am ET and 10 pm ET. “EWTN News Nightly” Rome Producer Mary Shovlain and Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo (Host of the “Let Us Love” special on Mother Teresa) will host EWTN’s English language coverage.

Spanish coverage will be hosted by Catholic News Agency/ACI Prensa Executive Director Alejandro Bermúdez and guests. On the German side, Pia Cagianut, who anchored some of the German coverage of the Family Synod, will host, while EWTN Germany’s Robert Rauhut and Martin Rothweiler, EWTN Programming Director Germany, will co-host and provide commentary.

Those who prefer to listen to the canonization can tune into EWTN Global Catholic Radio (English) and EWTN Radio Católica Mundial (Spanish) for live coverage of the canonization.

Other Rome events to be televised include:

“Jubilee for Volunteers and Catechesis on Mother Teresa:” Airs live from Rome at 3:30 am ET Saturday, September 3, with an encore at 11:30 am ET.

“Mother Teresa: Good and Faithful Servant:” Mary Shovlain hosts this special one-hour program, filmed in Rome, on the life of Mother Teresa with interviews and commentary. Airs 4 pm ET, Saturday, September 3, with encores at 10 pm ET that evening, and 10:30 am ET, Sunday, September 4.

“Mass of Thanksgiving for St. Teresa of Calcutta:” Airs live at 3:30 am ET, Monday, September 5, with an encore at noon.

Striving to become a better person? Don't forget to check to immerse yourself in inspirational programs celebrating what soon-to-be St. Mother Teresa said and did as a follower of Christ. (Find EWTN at

EWTN Global Catholic Network, in its 36th year, is the largest religious media network in the world. EWTN’s 11 TV channels are broadcast in multiple languages 24 hours a day, seven days a week to over 265 million television households in more than 145 countries and territories. EWTN services also include radio services transmitted through SIRIUS/XM, iHeart Radio, and over 500 domestic and international AM & FM radio affiliates; a worldwide shortwave radio service; the largest Catholic website in the U.S.; electronic and print news services, including “The National Catholic Register” newspaper, and two global wire services; as well as a publishing arm.

Mass to celebrate Blessed Mother Teresa Canonization, and Jubilee for Workers of Mercy this Sunday at St. Peter’s Church in Bridgeport
| August 31, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—A Mass of Thanksgiving for the Canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the Jubilee for Workers and Volunteers of Mercy Volunteers will be celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano this Sunday, September 4, 2 pm at St. Peter Church, 695 Colorado Avenue, Bridgeport. The Mass is open to all.

“While we celebrate here in Fairfield County, Pope Francis will be doing the same in Rome,” said Fr. Joseph Marcello, Pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Nichols and coordinator of the Diocesan Year of Mercy.

In addition to  celebrating the canonization Mass in St. Peters Square, the Holy Father has declared September 2-4 as a time of Jubilee for Workers of Mercy and invited volunteers and charitable workers to come to the Vatican.

Fr. Marcello said the two events are connected because Mother Teresa is also referred to by many as the Saint of Mercy who worked among the poorest of the poor.

“The Pope has reminded us that we are all called to be workers of Mercy,” Fr. Marcello said.

Fr. Marecello said St. Peter Church in Bridgeport is a fitting place for the Mass because the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa, have a convent there and have done much good work in the Bridgeport area.

The Jubilee of Mercy was formally declared by Pope Francis on April 11, 2015, to emphasize the importance of mercy and to keep alive the spirit of openness of the Second Vatican Council.

Pope Francis proclaimed the Year of Mercy through the opening of a Holy Door at the Vatican and in Churches throughout the world. He said, ″the Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope.″

In response to the Holy Father’s call, the diocese of Bridgeport opened twelve Centers of Mercy, which have provided special hours for Confession throughout the year.

The Centers of Mercy in the diocese that provide the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Tuesday evenings, from 7-8:30 pm, are Holy Spirit, Stamford; St. Matthew, Norwalk; Our Lady of the Assumption, Fairfield; St. Catherine of Siena, Trumbull; St. Joseph, Brookfield; St. Augustine Cathedral, Bridgeport

Centers of Mercy offering Confession on Thursday evenings, from 7-8:30 pm are St. Thomas More, Darien; Assumption, Westport; St. Pius X, Fairfield; St. Theresa, Trumbull; Sacred Heart, Danbury; St. Charles Borromeo, Bridgeport

The Diocese will formally close it’s Holy Door on the Jubilee Year of Mercy on Sunday, November 19, during a Mass celebrated by Bishop Caggiano at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.

Fr. Marcello said that plans call for the diocesan Centers of Mercy to “continue beyond Jubilee Year of Mercy and make it a permanent addition to the life of the Diocese of Bridgeport.”

Faith Formation begins year with renewed energy
| August 31, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—On Monday, August 29, parish Directors and Coordinators of Faith Formation gathered to kick off the new school year.

In addition to affording them time to reconnect and network, they heard from several diocesan department heads who updated them on new and updated programs to assist them in their ministries on the parish level as well as assist their own continued formation as catechetical Leaders. Among them was Patrick Donavan (shown here), director of the Diocesan Leadership Institute, which was formed in response to synod initiatives.

The highlight of the day was the keynote talk from Dr. Michael Carotta, a well-known national catechetical Leader, educational consultant and author. His topic focused on discipleship...the call and the challenges. Each attendee received a copy of his book of the same title. All left renewed and inspired ready to begin the year with passion and excitement!

Students volunteered all summer long
| August 31, 2016


SHELTON—Students at St. Joseph Elementary School in Shelton were busy volunteering their time this summer to collect food for those in need. Students handed out grocery bags to neighbors, family members, and friends and collected over 700 canned goods to deliver to the Spooner House.

(L-R) Lauren Greenfield, Jeffrey Greenfield,  Gabby MacDaniel,
Megan Greenfield, Adam Greenfield, Ava MacDaniel, Mallory Doyle,
Grace DeDonato, Mark MacDaniel, Giovanni Vetro, and Joshua Greenfield

“We are happy to have the St. Joseph School community helping to refill our food bank shelves during the summer when our non-perishable food supply tends to get very low,” said Susan Agamy, executive director at the Spooner House Homeless Shelter and Food Bank. “Students no longer receive free or reduced breakfast and lunch assistance over the summer break so a lot of local families rely on our food bank during the summer months.”
Principal of St. Joseph School Stephen Anderson said, “As a Catholic School, with a keen awareness of the need for mercy and concern for others in our world, this project brings us together in a tangible and meaningful way. It is faith in action.”

Brinkmann to speak at Magnificat Prayer Breakfast
| August 30, 2016


DANBURY—“Magnificat," a Ministry to Catholic Women will host a prayer breakfast on Saturday, October 1, 9:30 am-12:30 pm at Ethan Allen Inn, Danbury, CT.

Click here for registration form.

Susan Brinkmann, author of the “Women of Grace” Journal, and award winning journalist, will be the guest speaker.

“This is a day designed to speak to the hearts of women, free of distractions,” said Fran Hood, Magnificat Coordinator. “We hope many will  join us at a breakfast for Catholic women where we will share together in the spirit of gratitude and praise of God. Please plan to come and bring a friend to rejoice in the presence of the Lord.”
Susan Brinkman, O.C.D.S  is a member of the Third Order of Discalced Carmelites. She is the staff journalist for Women of Grace and is a frequent guest on EWTN’s Women of Grace television show.  Amongst the many books that she has authored she also wrote a book on Carmelite prayer, Lord Teach Us to Pray. Susan also published The Learn to Discern Compendium: Is it Christian or New Age. This book has an imprimatur from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. She recently published the story of her conversion entitled. We need to Talk: God speaks to a Modern Girl.
Her most recent publication, which she co-authored with Johnnette Benovic, is the Young Women of Grace Study Program which teaches girls ages 12-17 about what is means to be authentically feminine. She has many national journalism awards including numerous awards from the Catholic Press Association and the Philadelphia Press Association
Cost $25 Pre register by Saturday, September 23. No tickets will be sold at the door. For more information, call Fran Hood 203.744.1856 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Rev. Msgr. Edward Scull dies at 90
| August 29, 2016


BROOKFIELD—The Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Scull, age 90, of Brookfield, the retired Pastor of St. Pius X Church in Fairfield, passed away peacefully, Friday August 26, 2016.

Born in Bridgeport, the son of the late Joseph and Marguerite Scull, he was a graduate of Central High School in Bridgeport and St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield. Msgr. Scull was ordained to the priesthood on May 3, 1951. He served on the faculty at Notre Dame Catholic High School in Fairfield and as Principal of the former Central Catholic High School in Norwalk.

He served as a parochial vicar at St. Mary Church in Bethel. His first position as pastor was at St. Gabriel Church in Stamford. On January 1, 1972 he was installed as pastor of St. Pius X Church, retiring on January 1, 2002. Most recently Msgr. Scull had been a resident priest at St. Joseph's Church in Brookfield.

He enjoyed golfing with family and friends. Survivors include his sister, Mary Anne Dolan of Milford, four nephews; five nieces and ten great-nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by a brother, Joseph Scull; a sister, Marguerite Cleary a brothers-in-law, Joseph Dolan and Francis Cleary and a sister-in-law, Veronica Scull.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by the Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 at 11 am at St. Pius X Church, 834 Brookside Drive, Fairfield. Interment will be in St. Michael Cemetery, Stratford. Friends may call Tuesday from 4-8 pm in the Spear-Miller Funeral Home, 39 South Benson Road, Fairfield. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made in memory of the Scull family to St. Augustine's Cathedral, 359 Washington Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604.

For information or to sign an online guest register click here.

Employees surprise Bishop Caggiano on his 10th Anniversary
| August 26, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Catholic Center staff surprised Bishop Frank J. Caggiano on his 10th anniversary as a Bishop today when they presented him with signed photos of the World Series Championship N.Y. Mets from the 1969 and 1986 seasons.

The Bishop, who grew up in Brooklyn and  is a lifelong Mets fan, was genuinely surprised and delighted by the framed photos and autographs of Met legends. He thanked all diocesan employees for their dedication and teamwork in making the diocese successful.

“My ten years as a bishop have been the most marvelous and challenging in my life,” the Bishop told the gathering of about 70 employees and the seminarians who came up from the St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford to participate in the Mass and brunch that followed.
Employees stood and applauded the Bishop, who quickly studied the photographs and looked for the faces of his favorite players. (The Bishop will be leading a trip of young adults to a Mets game on September 3).
After the presentation, the Bishop said he remembered 1969 well because it was the year that the Mets won, men walked on the moon, and he broke his arm as a young boy in Brooklyn.
In his brief remarks celebrating the Bishop’s 10th anniversary, Msgr. Thomas Powers, Vicar General of the Diocese, said that the Cross is a vertical “I” that quick gets crossed out.  He said that the Bishop has inspired his co-workers and the entire diocese by working tirelessly and selflessly to put Jesus at the center of his own life and the life of the local Church.
Priests throughout the diocese joined Bishop Caggiano in celebrating the annual Employee Mass to mark the end of Summer and the beginning of the new work year.
In his homily reflection on the Gospel of St. Matthew (25:1-13), the Bishop said that all Christian must live the message of the Cross, which gives meaning and healing to all people when other dreams and plans fade.
He said that the problem of the young women who failed to put oil in their lamps to celebrate a bridal feast “is not that they did something wrong,” but that they were unprepared to celebrate a greater gift because they were too caught up in day-to-day life.
The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano was installed as Fifth Bishop of Bridgeport on Thursday, September 19, 2013 at St. Theresa Church in Trumbull.

He was ordained to the priesthood on May 16, 1987 in the chapel of the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston, Queens.  In June 2006, he was named Bishop of Brooklyn and Titular Bishop of Inis Cathaig by Pope Benedict XVI. He received his episcopal consecration on the following August 22, from Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, with Bishops Thomas Daily and Ignatius Catanello serving as co-consecrators.

Evangelization Training: Sharing the Person of Jesus Christ
| August 26, 2016


DANBURY—Young adults throughout the diocese and all those involved in Faith Formation are invited to participate in a Basic Evangelization Training (BET) workshop on Saturday, October 1,  9:30 am - 4 pm and Sunday, October 2, 12:30 to 5 pm.

The two-day workshop, led by St. Paul Street Evangelization, will be held at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, 46 Stone Street in Danbury.
“Basic Evangelization Training is among the most hands-on, practical, and dynamic workshop opportunities for Catholics in the world today,” said Fr. Peter Towsley, Vicar for Evangelization and Pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Danbury.
Fr. Towsley said participants will “gain the courage they need to be enthusiastic and joyful evangelists in their daily lives as they overcome the fear that many people have of publicly sharing their faith.”
He said that anyone who is giving Faith Formation will benefit from the workshop, which will not only assist in Evangelizing give participants the tools to be Evangelizers.
“As Pope Francis said we must know how to give an Initial Proclamation of Jesus. "On the lips of the catechist the first proclamation must ring out over and over: ‘Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you…. nothing is more solid, profound, secure, meaningful and wisdom-filled than that initial proclamation.’”
St. Paul Street Evangelization is a grassroots, non-profit Catholic evangelization organization, dedicated to responding to the mandate of Jesus to preach the Gospel to all nations by taking the Catholic Faith to the streets  in a non-confrontational way that allows the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts of those who witness their public Catholic presence. It is headquartered in Bloomington, Indiana.
St. Paul Street Evangelization provides an avenue for men and women to share the Person of Jesus Christ and the truth and beauty of the Catholic Faith with a hungry culture,” said Fr. Towsley. “Those who attend the workshop will be invited to join in this spirit and a culture of evangelization.”
The fee for the two-day training is $45 (normally $75 per person). It includes training, lunch and refreshment s for both days. Phone: 203.748.9029

Click here to register online.

Administrators head back to school
| August 25, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—The Diocese of Bridgeport welcomed 47 school principals and presidents to the Catholic Center for the annual Back-to-School Administrators’ Meeting.

Today’s gathering was the finale of a week-long series of meetings for new and returning school personnel. The morning portion of the meeting consisted of introductions from the newly restructured Office of the Superintendent, as well as a review of policies and programs by members of the Superintendent’s Office and relevant Catholic Center departments. Following the assembly, the administrators came together for worship at a Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank Caggiano. The bishop offered a special blessing for the educators as they affirm or renew their commitment to the excellence of our Catholic schools.

Following deadly earthquake in Italy, Benedictine monks in Norcia will relocate to Rome
| August 25, 2016 • by Carl E. Olson, The Catholic World Report


NORCIA, ITALY—The New York Times reports that 120 people have died in the severe earthquake that hit central Italy early Wednesday morning, awakening residents in Rome, which is almost a hundred miles southwest.

A crucifix in the Monastery of Saint Benedict in Norcia

A 2003 photo of the church of St. Benedict or San Benedetto, cared for by the Monks of Norcia.

The earthquake, which had a preliminary magnitude of 6.2, struck at 3:36 am, about 6.5 miles southeast of the town of Norcia in the Umbria region, followed by about 200 aftershocks over the next several hours, including a 5.5-magnitude tremor at 4:33 am.

The authorities said the quake was comparable in intensity to one in 2009 in the Abruzzo region of central Italy that killed more than 300 people.

Towns in three regions—Umbria, Lazio and Marche—were devastated by the quake, which could be felt as far away as Bologna in the north and Naples in the south. The deaths appeared to be concentrated in four communities: at least 86 in the towns of Amatrice and Accumoli, in Lazio, and at least 32 deaths in Marche, in the village of Arquata del Tronto and the hamlet of Pescara del Tronto.

Pope Francis set aside his planned remarks for his general audience and led a pilgrims in praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary for the victims of the earthquake:

“On hearing the news of the earthquake that has struck central Italy and which has devastated many areas and left many wounded, I cannot fail to express my heartfelt sorrow and spiritual closeness to all those present in the zones afflicted,” the Pope said August 24.

He offered his condolences to all who have lost loved ones, and his expressed his spiritual closeness to those who are “anxious and afraid.” ...

According to the BBC, the mayor of Amatrice, one of the worst-hit areas, said “the town is gone.” Officials warn that the death toll will likely continue to rise as rescue efforts move forward.

Pope Francis, hearing that the mayor of Amatrice said his town “no longer exists” and learning that many children are also among the dead, said “I am deeply saddened.”

“For this reason I want to assure all the people of Accumoli, Amatrice, the diocese of Rieti, Ascoli Piceno and all the people of Lazio, Umbria and Le Marche of the prayers and close solidarity of the entire Church,” he said.

The Pope then offered his thanks to all the volunteer and rescue workers assisting in the affected areas, asking Jesus, “who is always moved by compassion before the reality of human suffering, that he may console the broken hearted, and through the intercession of the Virgin Mary bring them peace.”

“With Jesus, let our hearts be moved with compassion,” he said, and invited the some 11,000 pilgrims present to join him in praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary.

The Benedictine Monks of Norcia, in a message sent out by e-mail early Wednesday, said, "We are OK. We are alive, and there are no serious injuries to report. Sadly, there are many injuries to report among the people of the region, especially those in small mountain villages. Please pray for them. We monks will do what we can to contribute here on the ground, but we'll need your spiritual support in a special way during this period."

In a later message left on Facebook, they stated:

After a careful study of the developing seismic situation in our region of Italy, as a precautionary measure, we have decided to temporarily transfer our community to Rome.

The monks of the international Benedictine headquarters at St. Anselmo in Rome have kindly offered our monks a place to remain during this period of uncertainty.  We would be grateful if you added the monks of St. Anselmo to your prayers for their generosity during our time of need.

While the community is in Rome, two monks will remain in Norcia to keep watch over the basilica and monitor the developing situation. They will avoid danger by sleeping in tents outside the city walls.

We strive to maintain the order of the Rule even during the most difficult of circumstances, and this transfer, while disruptive, will ensure the safety of our monks and grant us all the peace to continue to practice our monastic life.

Please continue to pray for our community, and consider giving a gift ( to help our effort to rebuild.

Click here to view info for an event on September 30 at 5 pm in Darien.

Polish Harvest Festival
| August 25, 2016


STAMFORD—Sylwester Kubisiak & Justyna Moczulski of Stamford carry the Wieniec (Harvest wreath) at the beginning of the 39th Annual Doźynki (Polish Harvest Festival) at Holy Name of Jesus in Stamford.

The event celebrates the Polish Culture and features live music, dancing, traditional Polish food and games for the kids. Holy Name of Jesus Parish was founded in 1903. The "Bell of Liberty" in the church tower was cast in Poland and originally commissioned for the 1939 World's Fair. It features the broze busts of six Polish saints and a figure of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

Holy Name of Jesus offers Mass in Polish throughout the week including five Masses on Sunday. Father Pawel M. Hrebenko is serving as Pastor. Holy Name of Jesus Church is located at 4 Pulaski St., Stamford, CT 06902-6822.  Phone: 203.323.4967. Online at:

Teaching for Discipleship
| August 23, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—“Teaching for Discipleship, The Call, the Challenge, the Difference" will be the topic of a program for all Directors of Religious Education and faith formation support staff on Monday, August 29, Queen of Saints Hall at the Catholic Center, 238 Jewett Avenue.

The program will include a welcome by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and Rose Talbot-Babey, Coordinator of Childhood Faith Formation.
Author and nationally renowned speaker, Dr. Michael Carotta will give  the keynote  address. He  has worked with adolescents and their spiritual growth in educational, pastoral and clinical settings for more than twenty-five years.  Participants will also receive a free copy of his latest book, "Teaching Discipleship."
About Dr. Carotta: A long-time catechist, Michael Carottahas also served as Diocesan Director of Adolescent Catechesis, Executive Director of the NCEA Department of Religious Education, and as a member of the Bishops’ Committee for the Revision of the General Catechetical Directory. With a focus on adolescent spirituality, Michael spent four years with at-risk youth as the Director of Religious Education at Girls and Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska. Mike and his wife, Dr. Catherine Cronin Carotta, also do substantial renewal work, offering seminars inspired by their book Sustaining the Spirit: Responding to the Callings, Commitments, and Vocational Challenges of Your Life (Twenty-Third Publications).
Author of more than forty articles, Michael’s work has appeared in a variety of publications including Momentum, The Catholic World, PACE and National Catholic Reporter. His books include the newly revised Nurturing the Spiritual Growth of Today’s Adolescents, Sometimes We Dance, Sometimes We Wrestle: Embracing the Spiritual Growth of Adolescents, and The Work of Your Life: Sustaining the Spirit to Teach, Lead, and Serve—all published by Our Sunday Visitor Curriculum Division. He also served as a program advisor for Call to Faith, a Grades 7 and 8 religion series published by Our Sunday Visitor Curriculum Division.
Michael received his B.S. in Psychology at Southeastern Louisiana University, his M.A. in Religious Education at Loyola University in New Orleans, and Ed.D. in Leadership Education from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. He regularly teaches graduate courses on adolescent spirituality and catechesis at Boston College, Loyola University of New Orleans, St. John’s School of Theology in Minnesota, and Fordham University in New York.
Dr. Carotta is currently the National Advisor for Adolescent Catechesis for Our Sunday Visitor Curriculum Division and the 2012 Recipient of the Emmaus Award for Excellence in Catechesis awarded by the National Association of Parish Catechetical Directors (NPCD).
The day will begin with 8 am registration and light breakfast, and include an update on programs sponsored by the Diocese of Bridgeport, lunch and the kenote address at 1 pm
For further information or to register for the presentation, contact Rose Talbot-Babey, Coordinator of Childhood Faith Formation 203.416.1648 or via email at: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

St. Vincent's Medical Center Honors Volunteers of the Year
| August 23, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—St. Vincent's Medical Center honored its 2016 Volunteers of the Year including Bridgeport resident Laura Durkin and Branford resident Brian D. Sager.

More than 150 of the hospital's dedicated volunteers attended the annual Recognition Reception, marking service anniversaries ranging from 100 to 10,000 hours. In total, 300 volunteers donated more than 46,000 hours during the past year and have served the Medical Center well in many departments.

"Our volunteers are truly the heart and soul of our hospital," explained Volunteer Services Director Julie Lawrence. "They enhance the patients' experience, support our staff, and lead by example by demonstrating service to others."
About this year's award recipients:
Laura Durkin
When Laura Durkin moved to Connecticut from Brooklyn, New York, five years ago, she immediately missed the bustling city environment and looked for an opportunity to connect with more people. Fortunately for St. Vincent's, Laura applied to be a volunteer, and since then has been bringing smiles to patients and families. She also has never missed a SWIM Across the Sound event and lends her talents to several departments, including the St. Vincent's Medical Center Foundation, information desk, Mission Services, and Pastoral Care. She also serves as a Eucharistic minister.
"I need a lot of people around me and I empathize with the patients who are looking to talk to someone and who need to be comforted," stated Durkin. "St. Vincent's is such a welcoming place. The staff and volunteers are friendly and I always look for ways we can work together in order to help patients and families."
"Laura is a model for Volunteer Services behavior. She raises her hand to fill in where we need her, and wherever she is - front desk, SWIM events, Foundation, or patient areas - she is making people smile!" shared Lawrence.
Brian D. Sager
A Stanford University graduate and minor league baseball pitcher isn't who immediately comes to mind when you think about a nursing student. However, Brian Sager is just that, and he's pursuing his calling to be an RN at St. Vincent's College. Brian has served as president of the College's chapter of the Student Nursing Association and has been a very active volunteer, first with the annual SWIM Across the Sound Marathon and then at St. Vincent's Special Needs Services. Brian was introduced to St. Vincent's Special Needs by its Director of Nursing Christina Longden, and has since volunteered for the annual Easter Egg Hunt, FEROLETO Day, the Special Needs School Prom, the Elizabeth M. Pfriem Circus, and much more.
"The students and staff at Special Needs are amazing people," said Sager. "It's my philosophy to jump right in and help out when I can. I would encourage anyone to volunteer there."
"Brian is an all-star to the students," offered Lawrence. "He is compassionate and caring and has stepped up to coordinate fellow nursing students to volunteer with him to support our children with special health care needs."

New Mulch for All Saints School!
| August 22, 2016


St. Matthew Knights of Columbus assist All Saints Catholic School with sprucing up the Playground

NORWALK—On Saturday, August 20, members of Knight of Columbus St. Matthew Council #14360 hitched up their work boots, grabbed their rakes and wheel barrows and went to work.

The Brothers helped All Saints Catholic School in Norwalk spread 80 yards of mulch their science park/playground for the students who will be returning soon.

It was a large job made much easier by a big turnout from the Knights who assisted some parents and students at ASCS. In addition resident Council carpenters Tim Horne and Jack Consiglio installed an air conditioner in one of the classrooms which was no small task since they had to take apart the window and make a plexiglass make shift window to fit the AC properly.

Grand Knight Scott Criscuolo praised his brothers for their efforts. “It was a fantastic effort by the Brothers of Council 14360. We enjoy working with the parents and students of this great school. It is projects like this they make me proud of being Grand Knight of our council, said Criscuolo.

Council 14360 has established a great relationship over the years by assisting with various maintenance and upkeep projects as well as giving out scholarships yearly to graduating 8th grade students attending a Catholic High School.

All Saints Catholic School offers a strong academic program in a caring, Catholic environment for children in Pre-K 3 through 8th Grade. Go to for more information.

The goals of the Knights of Columbus Council at Saint Matthew Church in Norwalk is to perform acts of charity. 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 goal 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 information please go to

Mary's Queenship is One of Love
| August 22, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—"Today’s feast is the celebration of the Queenship of Mary. In 1954, Pope Pius XII mandated this feast to be celebrated on May 31st, the last day of the month dedicated to Our Lady.

Following the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, the feast was changed to today, the octave day of the Assumption.

In its current location on the calendar, we pause to celebrate the culmination of the life of Our Blessed Mother, who having been assumed into heaven, is now our Queen, advocate and protector.

Royalty in this world denotes power, privilege and an exalted place in society. Following in her Son’s footsteps, Mary’s Queenship means just the opposite. She who was the sinless Virgin who humbly accepted God’s will for her, despite the fact that it led to a life of great suffering, is our Queen precisely because her majesty lies in her love and concern for those entrusted to her. This means you, me and all God’s children.

Christ our King wore a crown of thorns as the sign of his majestic, divine love. Mary our Queen bore a crown of thorns around her heart as a sign of her sacrificial love for us. As we pause to celebrate Our Lady’s Queenship, the question for you and I is this: what crown are we willing to wear?"

(Today's reflection is taken from Bishop Caggiano's Facebook page, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, which now has almost 7,400 likes.)

Churches’ Mass appeal
| August 21, 2016 • by By Cedar Attanasio and Claire Galvin,


BRIDGEPORT—Stained-glass gospel scenes stretch to the ceiling. Parishioners fill a quarter of the pews. Stations of the Cross, each titled with an ornate caption in English, ring the walls of St. Charles Borromeo Church.

The Mass, however, is in Spanish. It’s the fourth service of the day conducted in a language other than English at this brimming Bridgeport church.

Pastors held a Haitian Creole Mass at 7:30 a.m. ; there will be another in the early evening. At 10:30 a.m., it was Brazilian Portuguese speakers saying “and also with you” to the priest.

Father Francisco Gomez-Franco, who is from Mexico, belts a sermon in Spanish and performs the liturgy. He announces community events. Today, he's trying to keep it short, but usually he paraphrases things in English for the minority of the crowd who attend with their families, but don't speak Spanish perfectly.

Gomez reminds teens in secular public schools and their parents that they must attend religious classes. He’s only talking about a small percentage of families, he stresses, but there are some kids coming up for Holy Communion “who wouldn’t know how to say an ‘Our Father’ or a ‘Hail Mary.’ ”

Father Gomez is not talking about the Jimenez family, who have three children helping with the Mass.

“I’m basically the leader because I’ve been serving since I was 8 years old. I’m 15,” said Kairyn Jimenez, who speaks both English and Spanish.

Kairyn is one of dozens of American-born children at the Mass with their foreign-born parents. These families may be helping their church defy regional and national trends.

The number of Americans who identify as Catholic has shrunk in recent years, and Connecticut leads the nation in that decline.

In 2007, 23.9 percent of Americans identified as Catholic, according to a nationwide survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. By 2014, that share had fallen to 20.8 percent.

Connecticut showed the sharpest decline of the 50 states — 10 percent.

The Pew Religious Landscapes Studies were conducted in 2007 and 2014 via telephone interviews with more than 35,000 Americans.

In Bridgeport, affiliation is also down, with 11 percent fewer families registered with parishes in 2015 that 2010.

That decline does not necessarily mean a drop in faith. Families could be moving to other parishes, for example.

What’s interesting is that while the number of families is down, mass attendance is up two percent, based on a survey conducted by the Fairfield County diocese.

At St. Charles, Mass attendance grew 37 percent between 2010 and 2015, based on the survey. It’s the sharpest increase in the area.

Masses in other languages cohere families and cater to the preferences of individual worshippers. Like Kairyn, Angel Luis and Alcantara came with at least one parent who had immigrated to the United States from South America.

“I feel comfortable,” said Angel, 26, a heating and cooling mechanic born in Venezuela. “I like that (there are other masses) because not everyone speaks English.”

More Information
Masses offered, by language

Blessed Sacrament, Bridgeport: Spanish
Our Lady of Fatima, Bridgeport: Iberian Portuguese
St. Ann, Bridgeport: Spanish
The Cathedral Parish (St. Patrick & St. Augustine, Bridgeport: Spanish, Vietnamese
St. Charles Borromeo, Bridgeport: Spanish, Haitian, Brazilian
St. George, Bridgeport: Spanish, Lithuanian*
St. Margaret Shrine, Bridgeport: Italian
St. Michael the Archangel, Bridgeport: Polish
St. Peter, Bridgeport: Spanish
Holy Cross, Fairfield: Slovenian
St. Emery, Fairfield: Hungarian

Source: Diocese of Bridgeport Office of of Strategic and Pastoral Planning

*Once a month

Mass Attendance
Diocese of Bridgeport

2011 - 10,066
2015 - 10,225 (2% increase)
2011 - 10,066
2015 - 10,225 (2% increase)

Many parishioners of St. Charles do speak English. Yet their children interact as part of a larger community that bridges linguistic divides.

Those religious classes? They are mixed; as were most youth group outings over the summer.

“My friend goes to the English language Mass, because she (only) speaks English,” said Luis, 16, a U.S.-born junior at Fairchild Wheeler Interdistrict Magnet school, adding that during Christmas and other church events, all of the congregations come together. “It gets pretty full and everyone is here.”

The Pew study showed that the Catholic church is not the only major denomination to shrink in recent years. Americans identifying themselves as adherents to one of the mainline Protestant denominations shrank by 3.4 percent from 2007 to 2014, and evangelical Protestants by just under 1 percent.

Christians overall decreased from 78.4 percent to 70.6 percent of the population, a net decline of 5 million people. The drop was visible across demographic categories, including age, race, sex and educational level, but was particularly pronounced among younger age groups.

Non-Christians, including Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus, saw an increase of 1.2 percent, with Muslims accounting for nearly half of that total.

The number of Americans who describe themselves as “unaffiliated,” including atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular,” climbed 6.7 percent.

The Bridgeport Diocese’s director of strategic and pastoral planning, Patrick C. Turner, is aware of the challenges nationwide, and is part of a team helping local parishes react to shrinking membership in some areas.

In the Trumbull/Monroe parish, mass attendance was down 10 percent between 2010 and 2016, from 5,705 in 2011 to 5,161 in 2015. Stamford has seen a drop of 16 percent and Fairfield 10 percent.

“The Diocese is currently undertaking a pastoral planning process in all 82 parishes,“ he told Hearst Connecticut Media via email. “The process is designed for each parish to identify strengths and challenges and lay out pastoral priorities for the next two years. These challenges are based on the year-long Synod process that Bishop Caggiano undertook shortly after his arrival here.”

Turner, who provided the local statistics used in this article, cautions against any monolithic conclusions. The Mass attendance census represents only a few days per year, and there is migration between churches, he explained.

There are plenty of exceptions to the trends.

For example, St. Catherine of Siena parish has seen a 38 percent increase in weekend Mass attendance, from 1,139 in 2011 to 1,571 in 2015.

That’s in Trumbull, where numbers are down on average. While the church offers four masses on Sunday, none of them are offered in a language other than English, according to its website.

A common theme in Christian religious texts is for something cruel to happen in the Old Testament, only for it to be redeemed, smoothed out if you will, in the New Testament.

“Eye for an eye” (Exodus 21:24) gives way to “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:48).

Likewise, residents of the Old Testament world scattered around the world and condemned to speak different languages come together in the world of the New Testament.

“Suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven (...) and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (...),” reads Acts 2:2-8 of the Modern English Version of the text.

Anecdotally, it appears that Bridgeport-area churches attract more of the faithful, more of the time, when the “rushing wind” is “in other tongues.” Historically, immigrant groups have overlapped and taken each other’s places in city neighborhoods. At St. Charles, it started with Italians, and then Puerto Ricans.

“They held the first Mass in my brother’s house,” said Raul Ruiz, choir co-director and saxophonist, says of his early involvement in the church in the 1970s.

In the nave, Ruiz’s saxophone joins maracas, a shaker, bongos and three singers that share a very Caribbean sound with the congregation. Each of the other services — Brazilian Portuguese, English, and Haitian Creole — have their own bands with their own cultural takes on instrumentation.

Puerto Ricans and Spanish-speaking immigrants, he explained, took charge of fundraising in the 1970s and 1980s to save the church’s foundation, literally. Over the past 15 years, he said affectionately, more Brazilians are stepping up, filling pews and organizing major church events that others managed in the past.

Through the ebb and flow of changing demographics, St. Charles has served American-born parishioners as well as immigrants and their families. It not only keeps the church alive but allows generations with complex identities like Luis and Kairyn to express a particular facet of their true selves.

Bicultural identity isn’t just what’s on the outside. It's more than a flag waving in front of an Olympic match or parade, or a few words or recipes that have handed down from Grandma. For Kairyn, it’s an identity that touches the soul, perhaps summed up in one short sentence.

“I prefer to pray in Spanish,” she said.

Work progressing on Queen of Clergy
| August 19, 2016


STAMFORD— Work is progressing on the new wing of the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy Residence in Stamford. Construction of the 16-suite addition for retired priests began in January of this year.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will lead a Sunday October 9 dedication ceremony for the residence located at 274 Strawberry Hill Avenue in Stamford.

“This is a very exciting time for the diocese and for our retired priests who are looking forward to moving into their new home at Queen of the Clergy Residence. “It’s a beautiful residence and a place of great dignity where our retired priests can live in prayer and continued service,” said Bishop Caggiano when he visited the site earlier this summer.

According to William McLean, chief development officer of the diocese, the capital campaign for the residence has raised almost $3.5 of the $4 million needed for the new wing and for the repair and renovation of the existing facility.

Needed improvements to the current structure include replacement of the existing roof; expansion of the kitchen to accommodate service for additional residents, with new refrigeration and appliances; new carpeting and furnishings in the common area; interior and exterior painting; and upgraded fire alarm, HVAC and electrical.

Msgr. William Scheyd, Episcopal Vicar for Senior Priests, said there are 80 priests in the diocese over the age of 75. Some retired priests continue to live in parish settings, while others live on their own or with family. Many of the retired priests in the diocese continue to help out in parishes, schools, nursing homes and other settings.”

The current residence provides 17 suites for independent living for retired priests. Vickey Hickey is serving as Administrator. The Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy Residence is located at 274 Strawberry Hill Ave., Stamford. For more information, phone 203.358.9906. To make a gift online, go to

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A Day of Grace and Healing
| August 19, 2016


BLOOMFIELD—The Order of Malta will hold the third annual “Lourdes in a Day Pilgrimage” at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield on Saturday, September 10. The day begins at 9:30 and concludes by 4 pm.

The Order of Malta conducts this one day pilgrimage to allow those unable to make the trip to Lourdes, France, to experience the joy, grace and healing promised by Our Lady of Lourdes,’ said Mary Beth Fessler, a member of Dames of Malta.

“Local pilgrims experience many of these healing ministries as well as hear inspirational reflections during this spiritual journey,” Fessler said. The Order of Malta is known for its charism of defense of the Catholic faith and service to the sick and the poor.

In 1858 Our Lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous, a poor peasant girl, and revealed herself as the Immaculate Conception. Her instructions were to drink and bathe in the waters of the stream, which now holds the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and the baths.

“Our Lady also asked us to pray, process and build a chapel- all done at the site of the apparition,” she said.

Mass and candlelight processions are a daily celebration in this small town tucked in the Pyrenees Mountains.

For more information on St. Thomas Seminary, visit: Please register ASAP with Mark Sullivan: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 860.523.1405

The Westchester Area of the Order of Malta will also offer a “Lourdes in a Day Pilgrimage” on Saturday, October 8, 2016 at St. Joseph Seminary Dunwoodie in Yonkers, NY: from 9:30-4 pm. For more information please contact Bob Greason: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

McGivney Community Center Announces Three New Board Members
| August 18, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—The McGivney Community Center has been fulfilling its mission to provide stimulating and enriching programs that foster academic success and self-esteem to the youth of Bridgeport since 1992.

The success and growth of the Center is due in large part to the passion, drive, and skill of a dynamic Board of Directors.

The McGivney Center announced today the appointment of Sean Gleason of KPMG, Kim Karl of United Bank, and Sean Rabinowitz of ACBI Insurance to the Board of Directors. Robert Matthews has been voted the new Board President, and Jeanne Mathews of General Electric the new Secretary.

“Sean Gleason, Kim Karl, and Sean Rabinowitz are welcome additions to the McGivney Board,” said Terry O’Connor, Executive Director, McGivney Community Center. “They are all well-respected in their fields and bring a wealth of expertise and knowledge that will ensure a bright future for McGivney.”

McGivney Community Center Board Members serve two, three year terms. The Board of Directors acts as a governing body to ensure the McGivney Center carries out its mission. Each Board Member’s responsibility is different, depending on their skill set and interest. Responsibilities include fundraising, committee meetings, and communicating McGivney’s mission to the public.

The McGivney Community Center thanked three Board Members with ending terms, as well. Mary Donnelly of Southwestern CT Agency on Aging and former Board Secretary, Paul Gleason former Board President, and Thomas Reilly each served six years at McGivney and dedicated their skills to furthering McGivney’s mission. “I cannot thank them enough for their hard work, passion, and leadership. They have helped us to become the strong organization that we are today,” said Terry O’Connor.

About the McGivney Community Center

The McGivney Community Center is located on the East Side of Bridgeport at 338 Stillman Street and has been carrying out its mission to provide stimulating and enriching programs that foster academic success and self-esteem to the youth of Bridgeport for 24 years. McGivney provides a safe, quality, and affordable space for children grades kindergarten through high school to learn and grow. The Center offers After School Program, Summer Camp, and sports leagues. Daily tutoring, gym, computers, arts & crafts, game room, cooking, and Youth Council help to provide our members with all the resources that they need to be successful both in and out of the classroom. For more information about the McGivney Community Center, please call (203) 333-2789 or visit

Breakfast is served at Morning Glory
| August 17, 2016


DANBURY—It's 6:30 AM on any given Friday.

Outside the Dorothy Day Hospitality Center in Danbury, three volunteers are opening the doors of the soup kitchen.

They're about to start preparing meals for our Morning Glory Breakfast Program.

Together as a team for almost three years now (and even longer individually) Marlene Drygas, Sandra Martinez, and Suzanne Najman have been meeting up every week to prepare and serve the Friday breakfast. The breakfast program is open 360 days a year, from 6:30 - 9 am, providing nutritious food to anyone who walks through the dining room door. With enthusiasm and dedication, these ladies cook up a hot and healthy breakfast to an average of 100 individuals each shift. The team serves coffee, juice, cereal, and a plate of hot food to the guests—many of whom are homeless—making this meal their main source of nourishment for the day.

The Morning Glory menu changes daily: sometimes eggs, other times sausages, often fruit. This past year, however, the Friday volunteer team decided to mix it up a bit. They challenged Sierra Pepi, Program Coordinator, to serve a different style of pancake for 52 weeks. Turns out, Sierra was not one to back down from a challenge!

One week she whipped up banana walnut pancakes, the next week she created an oatmeal cookie variety, and then produced cranberry almond pancakes - watch out Rachel Ray!

“The spirit of our volunteers and staff make the Morning Glory experience a positive start to the day for our guests. Why? Because they can rely on the program to serve up a hot cup of coffee, a nutritious breakfast, and best of all - warm, welcoming smiles,” said Michele Conderino of Catholic Charities, which sponsors the program.

Are you a morning person? Do you want to be part of an incredibly rewarding experience? Then why not volunteer at the Morning Glory breakfast program? Email Sierra Pepi at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to find out more.

New Superintendent Greets Students
| August 17, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—It was a busy last Friday morning for the new Superintendent of Schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport, Dr. Steven Cheeseman.

Dr. Cheeseman spent the morning hours at the four campuses of the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport, visiting staff and getting personal tours of St. Ann Academy, St. Raphael Academy, St. Augustine Academy, and St. Andrew Academy.

While a steady stream of well wishers met briefly with the superintendent, the highlight was a visit by dozens of school children enrolled in the schools’ summer camps.

At St. Andrew Academy’s “Camp Sunshine,” Dr. Cheeseman learned that the students were undergoing their very own Olympics. He huddled with a group of campers and Principal Lori Wilson, demonstrating the importance of working as a team. “It is essential for faculty, staff, parents and students to work as a team to advance the mission and excellence of Catholic education," he stated. That sense of teamwork was also evident at St. Augustine Academy where the superintendent met a number of Kolbe Cathedral High School students who came to help their former elementary teachers prepare their classrooms.

"It was great to spend the morning touring the four campuses of the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport and meeting with students. They are my number one priority and their success is the reason we work so hard for excellence in our Catholic Schools," Dr. Cheeseman said. "I am grateful for the leadership of Sisiter Joan Magnetti, executive director of the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport, and the work of the board, teachers, staff, and the many benefactors who are so committed to transforming the lives of our young people."

Dr. Cheeseman was appointed in June to succeed Sister Mary Grace Walsh as superintenden,t effective July 1. He previously served as associate superintendent of the Diocese of Rockville Center, Long Island, N.Y.

Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport are open to all; welcoming students of any faith, race, color, and national or ethnic origin. To find out more, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Above: Pictured from left to right
Angelia Gonzalez, Samora Allen, Sky McCoy,
Aiden Courtney, Kobee Johnson, and Dr. Steven Cheeseman.

Tony Pavia to return to Trinity Catholic High School
| August 16, 2016


STAMFORD—Dr. Steven Cheeseman, Superintendent of Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Bridgeport, has announced that Mr. Tony Pavia has stepped in as Interim Principal at Trinity Catholic High School effective Tuesday, August 16, 2016.

Mr. Pavia served as Principal of Trinity Catholic High School from 2011 to 2014, and then transitioned into the President position in 2015, before leaving to lead Stamford High School through a crisis.

“Trinity Catholic High School has been blessed with many years of Mr. Pavia’s enthusiasm and on-going dedication. He is an exceptional leader. Let us keep him in our prayers as he greets this opportunity for renewal and success for our students, faculty, staff and the entire Trinity Catholic High School Community,” said Dr. Cheeseman in a letter to parents.

While guiding the Trinity Catholic school community, Mr. Pavia and the Office of the Superintendent will continue the search process for a new principal, Dr. Cheeseman said.

A native of Stamford and graduate of Stamford Catholic High School, Tony Pavia has over 40 years of experience in the education field, including six years as principal of Stamford High School and nine years of service as principal of New Canaan High School.Pavia earned his bachelors, masters, and Sixth Year degree from Southern Connecticut University. He and his family are members of St. Bridget Parish in Stamford.

The mercy-filled life: Mother Teresa embodied what Pope Francis teaches
| August 16, 2016 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—If there is one person who immersed herself in the "peripheries" Pope Francis is drawn to, it was Blessed Teresa of Kolkata.

If there was one who showed courage and creativity in bringing God's mercy to the world, like Pope Francis urges, it was the diminutive founder of the Missionaries of Charity.

For many people, the Catholic Church's Year of Mercy will reach its culmination when Pope Francis canonizes Mother Teresa Sept. 4, recognizing the holiness of charity, mercy and courage found in a package just 5-feet tall.

Ken Hackett, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, worked closely with Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity in his previous positions at the U.S. bishops' Catholic Relief Services. He was at her funeral in 1997, her beatification in 2003 and will attend the Mass where she will be declared a saint.

"Where Mother pushed the Missionaries of Charity was to the edge, to the most difficult places," said the ambassador, who said he visited her houses "all the time, everywhere."

"They were always way out there, both geographically and with the people who absolutely fell through the cracks," he said. Mother Teresa opened homes in Ethiopia during the communist military dictatorship, in the most destitute neighborhoods of Haiti's capital, in Rwanda after the genocide and in Yemen, where four Missionaries of Charity were murdered in March.

"When there was war, when there was fighting, there they were," Hackett said. "They stayed."

Mother Teresa demonstrated that living a life committed to mercy took "selflessness and courage," he said.

Her courage also was demonstrated in her ability to "speak truth to power," he said. Mother Teresa visited the United States regularly, speaking to Catholic groups, opening homes and meeting with presidents, including Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton. "She was straight out against abortion," the ambassador said. "From conception to death -- she was the whole thing and didn't pull any punches."

Like Pope Francis, he said, Mother Teresa drew energy from personal, one-on-one contact with people and consciously chose to live as simply as the poor she befriended and tended.

In life and after her death, Mother Teresa faced criticism for not using her fame and contacts to advocate more directly for social and political change to improve the lives of the poor she served. "You can find all the things she wasn't," the ambassador said, "but what she was was much more important than what she wasn't. She was a model and now she will be a saint."

Valeria Martano, Asia coordinator for the Community of Sant'Egidio, said, "We are talking about a woman who broke out of the existing framework of what was expected of a Catholic woman in the 1940s. And, like Pope Francis, she chose to make her life a denunciation" of injustice. "Her witness was testimony that things can change. She did not speak of justice so much as do justice."

"Mother Teresa chose to understand the world through the eyes of the least of the least, what Pope Francis would call the periphery," said Martano, who also leads Sant'Egidio programs in the poorest neighborhoods on the southern edge of Rome.

But it is not just about "going out," Martano said. For both Pope Francis and Mother Teresa, she said, everything starts with prayer.

The founder of the Missionaries of Charity insisted that she and her sisters were "contemplatives in the midst of the world," she said. "It was not just about doing." Mother Teresa's prayer took her to the periphery and the peripheries were key to her prayer.

"What Mother Teresa lived, Pope Francis teaches constantly: compassion in the face of pain and never accepting indifference in the face of suffering," said Archbishop Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, Italy.

For the archbishop, Mother Teresa modeled "a church close to the poor, a church that is mother to the poor and that lives the joy of serving the poor."

Revelations after her death that she suffered a "dark night of the soul," decades of feeling abandoned by God, are for Archbishop Zuppi a further sign of her deep immersion in the lives of the poor and forgotten.

"Her spiritual director would say that thirst is knowing there is water and longing for it," he said. "She was a woman who made the thirst of Christ on the cross her own. She lived that thirst."

Above: In this 1996 black-and-white file photo,
Blessed Teresa of Kolkata talks with Ken Hackett, left,
U.S. ambassador to the Holy See and former president
of Catholic Relief Services in Baltimore, Md.
(CNS photo/courtesy Catholic Relief Services)

A pilgrim’s reflection on the Feast of the Assumption
| August 15, 2016 • by by Patrick Whelan, National Catholic Reporter


EPHESUS, TURKEY—Since at least the fourth century, August 15 has been commemorated in Catholic churches as the Feast of the Assumption, in the belief that the Virgin May was bodily “assumed” into heaven at her death.

In the 1950s, Pope Pius XII defined the Assumption as dogma, one of the few times papal infallibility has ever been invoked.

The ancient feast is known as the Dormition of the Theotokos, or the Falling Asleep of the Blessed Virgin Mary among the Eastern and Orthodox churches, and in many countries, like the war-torn Syria, it is a national holiday.

On a recent trip to Ephesus to visit the low stone house revered by local custom as the home of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I found the round eerily quiet as I reflected on the violence sweeping the Middle East. In the wake of the recent coup attempt in Ankara, heavily armed Turkish soldiers stood watch at the gate as pilgrims and tourists strolled past four fountains to the door of the house. Empty souvenir shops lining the roads nearby were a testament to the fearfulness of foreign visitors who just a year ago waited more than an hour to pay their respects in a place once visited by Pope Paul VI (1967), St. John Paul II (1979), and Pope Benedict XVI (2006).

According to the Acts of the Apostles, many of Jesus’s disciples scattered abroad after the Roman Emperor Caligula visited Jerusalem and King Herod Agrippa beheaded John’s brother James in 44 c.e., making him the first apostle to be martyred. The writings of Justin Martyr, and the apocryphal Acts of John, indicate that John traveled to Ephesus on the southwest coast of Asia Minor and began a ministry of conversion there. Because of the account in John’s Gospel about Jesus’s commending his mother to John’s care, tradition holds that John took her with him to Ephesus.

Roman-era Ephesus was a remarkably sophisticated city, with long marble-paved streets that extended from the Roman baths high above the valley down to the Library of Celsus – one of the three great libraries of that time. A large “pleasure house” recently excavated across the street was thought to have been connected to the library by a tunnel, for those male patrons who preferred to be perceived as bibliophiles rather than voluptuaries.

St. Paul, who arrived later and resided in Ephesus for almost two years, was thought to have earned a living making tents that were sold in the enormous marketplace below, when he wasn’t holding court in the library or arguing with the other men in the elaborate and innovative public water closet. The Temple of Diana, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was at the center of life there, and the movement toward Christianity significantly challenged the traditional openness of this Greek city to foreigners and new ways of thinking.

Tradition holds that amidst all the violence of that time, John retreated with Mary up the forested hills to the south, four and a half miles to a peak at 1,400-feet elevation called Solmisos-Aladag. There are competing stories about whether Mary died there and was subsequently raised from the dead before being assumed into heaven. Also, there is a competing school of thought (and another celebrated tourist attraction) in Jerusalem, where some traditional accounts place Mary at the foot of the Mount of Olives at the time of her death.

But a small Byzantine church was constructed above Ephesus in the 13th Century on the site, called the “Monastery with Three Gates.” A group of French researchers rediscovered it in the 1890s, and a French nun named Marie de Mandat Grancey purchased the property and paid for repairs at that time. The future Pope John XXIII traveled there to commemorate the 1500th anniversary of the Council of Ephesus in 1931, but was unable to reach the House of Mary due to the wild condition of the paths to the summit. In 1950 the Turkish government built a road up the mountainside, making possible a true renovation that constructed the current three-arched stone house on the old Byzantine church’s foundation.

The renewed interest may have been motivated by an extraordinary event in the life of the Church, when Pope Pius XII declared as dogma that same year that the Virgin Mary “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory,” in his controversially “infallible” apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus.

As the world recovered from its greatest existential crisis, in the years following World War II, the Church turned to a small place on a hillside in Turkey to find new inspiration for a higher vision of the bridge between the human and the divine. This year a steady stream of both Muslims and Christians are traveling to revere this place, despite the danger of our own time, in search of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

[Patrick Whelan, a former NCR board member, is a physician with the Heritage Provider Network in Los Angeles, lectures at the Keck School of Medicine, and is on the Academic Advisory Board of the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California.]

Above: Pilgrims to the House of Mary write petitions
on strips of paper and tie them in knots to the
Meryemana Wishing Wall at the front of the house.

“Building Resistance"
| August 14, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—As we continue to endure this heat wave, I am sure that we are all trying to figure out ways to stay cool.

Luckily, most of us have the benefit of air conditioning in at least a portion of where we live. However, I can remember times just like this, as a young boy growing up in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn, enduring heat wave after heat wave, without any air conditioning at all!

In fact, my father was adamantly opposed to having any air conditioning in the house, believing that it lowered one’s “resistance”. Of course, I was never quite sure what we were supposed to resist and my father never felt the need to explain further. The only consolation was the gift of a fan in my bedroom—one of my most prized possessions in June, July, August and September.

There was another source of “air conditioning” that my friends and I used every evening. It was sitting on the front steps of my house (we had the largest steps on the block), watching life pass by and enjoying a different flavor of Italian ices each evening. The ritual was usually the same: dinner, followed by stick ball (or “stoop” ball- the word “stoop” referring to the front stairs of the house), a leisurely walk to the nearby bakery that also sold Italian ices and returning to the stoop, cooling ourselves with the largest ices we could each carry home.

I remember those days as if they were yesterday. On those stairs, I and my friends grew up, we shared life with all my neighbors (many of whom treated us as if they were our mothers and fathers), we shared stories, told jokes, played cards and just watched life go by.

After my father died, one of the first things I did was install air conditioning in the entire house. For her part, my mother was not at all worried about her “resistance”. However, as I remember back to those days on the “stoop”, I am grateful for the old fashioned air conditioning my father insisted upon, with the ices and friendships that came along with it.

Archbishop calls Baltimore police report 'sobering and distressing'
| August 14, 2016 • by By Catholic News Service


BALTIMORE—The same day a federal Department of Justice report cataloging systemic abuses by Baltimore's police was issued, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore called that report "sobering and distressing."

"The report is an affirmation of those in our community who have long criticized the policing strategies and practices of the (police) department," the archbishop said Aug. 10 in a statement, "and a repudiation of those whose actions have undermined both public trust as well as the inherent dignity of those they have sworn to serve and protect."

In Baltimore, the police's "pattern of making unconstitutional stops, searches and arrests arises from its longstanding reliance on 'zero tolerance' street enforcement, which encourages officers to make large numbers of stops, searches and arrests for minor, highly discretionary offenses," the report said.

"These practices led to repeated violations of the constitutional and statutory rights, further eroding the community's trust in the police," it added.

The Justice Department reviewed five-and-a-half years of police records before making its determinations.

The report also revealed racial bias on the part of Baltimore police.

In a city that is 63 percent black, African-Americans made up 95 percent of those stopped at least 10 times without arrests or citations -- one man in his 50s was stopped 30 times -- and 91 percent of those arrested whose only charge was "failure to obey" or "trespassing."

"I encourage people to read the report, reflect on the findings and consider the role that each of us should play in bringing about much needed change," Archbishop Lori said.

The investigation was prompted by the April 2015 death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray from spinal injuries he sustained riding in the back of a police van after being arrested for possession of what officers said was an illegal switchblade. They suspected Gray was watching out for a drug transaction.

Although Gray's death was ruled a homicide by the city's medical examiner's office and six Baltimore police were charged in connection with Gray's death, one mistrial and a series of acquittals led prosecutors to forgo the trials of the remaining officers.

Protest marches in Baltimore turned violent before and after Gray's funeral, with dozens of police injured and even more protestors arrested. The city of Baltimore paid $6.4 million to Gray's family to avoid a lawsuit.

Fourteen U.S. cities are currently operating under consent decrees with the Justice Department to reform their police practices. Baltimore has not entered into a consent decree, but is expected to do so, although a few elected officials have wondered how to pay for the reforms.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had asked the Justice Department to conduct its investigation after the rioting that followed Gray's death. In response to the report she said the findings "are challenging to hear," but are a crucial step in reforming the department.

Archbishop Lori said, "it is clear from the report that nothing short of a change in the culture within the (police) department will result in the kind of reform that is necessary to ensure the fair and equitable treatment of every citizen of Baltimore."

He added, "While this report rightly warrants a collective call for change, we cannot ignore the good and just service of the vast majority of policemen and women who put their lives on the line every day as they carry out their duties with respect for their office and those they serve."

Archbishop Lori said, "I pray the reaction to this report will not obscure their selfless service and will inspire others to follow them and to join efforts to address this resounding call for urgent change."

Fan the Fire Today!
| August 13, 2016


NEWTOWN—Young people throughout the diocese are gathering today in Newtown for the 11th annual Fan the Fire Eucharist-centered Youth Rally on the grounds of St. Rose of Lima Church, 38 Church Hill Rd.

Today’s event is designed to help teens deepen their relationship with Christ. Each year, hundreds of teens gather to celebrate and learn about their Catholic faith.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will celebrate Mass later this afternoon for the or teens in grades 8 through 12.

#(hashtag) Witness is the theme of this year’s Fan the Fire. Each year, hundreds of teens gather to celebrate and learn about their Catholic faith.

The program includes fun activities and inspirational talks, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, recitation of the Rosary, Eucharistic adoration, and a teen Mass. Catholic speaker and recording artist Steve Angrisano along Kevin Donovan and Katie Keogler will lead the music ministry.

“We are extremely excited that Steve and our own Bishop Caggiano are coming to Fan the Fire this year,” said Rodd Blessey, Fan the Fire host. “The event continues to be a fun day for all teens from our diocese and beyond to come together and learn more about their faith,” said Rodd Blessey, Fan the Fire Host and Youth Minister at St. Rose of Lima Parish.

Fan the Fire is presented in association with Fan the Fire ministries and the Diocese of Bridgeport. For more information about the Youth Formation programs provided by the Diocese, contact: Evan Psencik, Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Formation

Tel: 203.416.1649, Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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

Faith, family lighten load for triathlete who travels with a lot of gear
| August 12, 2016 • by Paul McMullen, Catholic News Service


BALTIMORE—World-class triathlete Katie Hursey Zaferes travels with a custom bicycle and enough workout gear to outfit an entire aerobics class.

How does she lighten her load?

With liberal doses of faith and family.

When Zaferes, 27, competes in the women's triathlon August 20 at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, she'll represent not just the United States, but a large extended family in Carroll County, one that includes an absent cousin.

Zaferes was baptized at St. John Church in Westminster and raised in St. Bartholomew Parish in Manchester, where her parents, Bill and Mary Lynn Hursey, have been members since the 1990s.

"The Hurseys are a remarkable family, I baptized their youngest (Karly) the first month I arrived in Carroll County," said Father Michael Roach, pastor of St. Bartholomew. "They're a faithful family, always at Sunday Mass. You wish you had a hundred families like them."

Zaferes recalled being an active participant in the youth ministry directed by Linda Sterner.

"The youth group picnics and trips were my favorite," she wrote in an email to the Catholic Review, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. "It's a community full of love and support, that's the best part about St. Bart's. I always look forward to going back home and seeing everyone at Mass."

There have been few opportunities for that since 2007, when she graduated from North Carroll High School and headed to Syracuse University on a track and field scholarship.

Zaferes answered questions from Banyoles, Spain, where she was completing her Olympic preparation. She and her husband, Tommy, also a pro triathlete, make their home in Santa Cruz, California, but their careers keep them on the road nine months a year.

"One of my favorite rituals," she wrote, "is when my husband and I pray together before bed. One of us will start, then the other will fill in anything that the other one may have missed. Sometimes I learn things about my husband's day, or even life, just by listening to him pray."

Their intentions continue to include her third cousin, Jacob Offutt.

In December 2014, six months after he had graduated from St. John School in Westminster, Jacob was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. He was a second-degree black belt in karate, and a "Jake's Kickin' It" campaign included photos of Zaferes in that pose during the first half of 2015, a year in which she competed in England, New Zealand, Sweden, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.

"We started taking pictures of ourselves and our friends 'kickin' it' around the world," Zaferes said. "We wanted to show Jake that there were many of us fighting with him."

Forced to withdraw from his freshman year at Winters Mill High School, Jacob died July 13, 2015.

"Katie's not only a great athlete, she's a kind and considerate person," said Joe Offutt, Jake's father. "Jake looked up to her. Her accomplishments and travels were a good distraction for him."

Offutt is a first cousin to Zaferes' mother, who prays for her daughter's safety in an endeavor which, at the Olympics, consists of a 1.5-km. swim, 40-km. bike ride and 10-km. run.

Mary Lynn Hursey followed online the progress of a 2014 triathlon in Cape Town, South Africa, where Zaferes lost her computer timing chip and her mother's mind raced to the sharks offshore.

"I had that fear," Mary Lynn Hursey said. "She lost her chip and her name wasn't coming up, and I'm asking, 'Where is my child?' … I'm always praying for Katie, before, during and after a competition. I pray for her safety. The biking is a scary thing. When you see a DNF (did not finish) … your mind races."

Triathlon's open-water swimming will be conducted in the notoriously polluted waters of Rio de Janeiro, where "Team Katie" will include her parents.

Zaferes was an age-group swimmer and had a 1,600-meter best of 4 minutes, 57 seconds in high school track, but she didn't respond to a recruiting pitch from USA Triathlon until near the end of her collegiate running days.

Faith played a part there, too.

While earning a bachelor's degree in physical education at Syracuse, she baby-sat for Ashley and Rick Kelley, whose five children include four adopted from Ethiopia. Zaferes recounted a pivotal Sunday with them and Msgr. J. Robert Yeazel, pastor of Holy Cross Church in Genesee, New York.

"I remember one particular Mass, when I was deciding whether or not I was going to commit to triathlon," she said. "The entire homily, I felt like the priest was speaking to me. He was saying that sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone and try new things."

- - -

McMullen is managing editor of the Catholic Review, the news website and magazine of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Holocaust Rescuer Artistides de Souse Mendes to be Honored in Stamford, CT
| August 12, 2016


Click here for the flyer

STAMFORD—Community members are invited to a film screening of the award-winning docudrama Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes Story on Wednesday, September 7 at 7:00 p.m. at The State Cinema, 990 Hope St., Stamford, CT. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door. All proceeds will benefit the Sousa Mendes Foundation, and light refreshments will be served.

The film tells the dramatic true story of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a Catholic who served as the Portuguese consul stationed in Bordeaux, France during World War II. When the Nazis invaded in 1940, Sousa Mendes granted Portuguese visas to thousands of refugees, against the strict orders of his government, in a feat described by historian Yehuda Bauer as “perhaps the largest rescue action by a single individual during the Holocaust.” As a result of his act of conscience, Sousa Mendes was punished by his government for “disobedience,” stripped of his position, and blacklisted. He died in 1954 in poverty and disgrace.

The film screening will be followed by a brief testimonial by Stamford resident Karen Denker, the daughter and granddaughter of Sousa Mendes visa recipients. “Finding out that my mother and her family had been saved by the compassion and selfless acts of this heroic Catholic man was literally life-altering,” said Denker. “It is a lesson that should never be forgotten and must be told to all,” she added.

In 1966, Sousa Mendes was posthumously recognized as a “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust authority. The Portuguese government eventually honored Sousa Mendes in the 1980’s, as a result of pressure from the US government. The Stamford screening is part of the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Yad Vashem recognition.

Last year, the grandson of Sousa Mendes forwarded to Pope Francis a copy of an unanswered letter his grandfather had written in 1946 to Pope Pius XII begging for reassurance that he had acted correctly before God. Never regretting his actions, Aristides said: “I could not have acted otherwise and I therefore accept all that has befallen me with love.”

The Sousa Mendes Foundation, founded in 2010, is dedicated to honoring the memory of Aristides de Sousa Mendes and to teaching the importance of moral courage in a civilized world. Named “Organization of the Year” in 2012 by The Portuguese Tribune, the Foundation is engaged in a worldwide search for families who escaped the Holocaust through Portugal.

For more information, please contact: Robert Jacobvitz, (877) 797-9759 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Our Lady of Norwalk dedication will celebrate Assumption
| August 11, 2016


NORWALK—On Sunday, August 14, in honor of the Feast of the Assumption, at 4 pm, Bishop Frank Caggiano will celebrate a Solemn High Mass in traditional Latin at St. Mary's Church, 669 West Avenue. The bishop will also dedicate a new statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary which will be known as “Our Lady of Norwalk.”

St. Mary’s pastor Father Richard Cipolla will concelebrate the Mass. The music will be led by choirmaster David Hughes.

After Mass, at approximately 6 pm, there will be a Marian procession as Mass-goers carry Our Lady of Norwalk from the church through the adjacent streets including West Avenue.

Following the procession, there will be a celebratory reception in the parish hall next to the church. A band will provide music in English, Spanish and Italian. Tickets to the reception are $20 at the door and include dinner.

“This event is a fitting celebration for the Feast of Our Lady’s Assumption,” said Fran Di Meglio, event organizer. “We are already expecting more than 450 people and welcome more.”

For more information, contact Fran Di Meglio at 203.216.8318 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Greenwich Catholic School Upper School Construction Project Update
| August 10, 2016


GREENWICH—Since school let out in June, construction on Greenwich Catholic School (GCS)’s Upper School has been in full swing, with crews working around the clock to renovate and expand the building.

The school consists of six buildings on a 38-acre campus in Greenwich’s Byram neighborhood. The Upper School houses students in grades 6-8.

Bishop Frank Caggiano will join GCS staff and benefactors for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the renovated Upper School building on October 11 at 10 am.

After only eight weeks, the Upper School construction project is past the half-way mark, with an estimated completion by mid-September. The scope of the renovation includes the addition of two classrooms totaling 3400 square feet, right-sizing of existing classrooms, renovated ADA compliant bathrooms, a new energy-efficient HVAC system, maintenance free exterior trim, and a new roof.
“The new building will have the greatest impact on our students’ educational experience.  Academically, the renovations will allow for a more collaborative learning atmosphere for our middle school students since their classes will now be located in the same space,” said GCS Principal Patrice Kopas. “Teachers will retain valuable instructional time now that students will not have to travel between buildings for their core subjects.”

Construction on the Upper School began at a critical juncture.  The School Advisory Board facilities chair, Mario Gaztambide, explained, “The infrastructure had begun to age to a point where repairs were constant and costly.” The renovation not only addresses immediate needs, but is also an investment in the future of the school.  “Through the deliberate choice of energy-efficient and sustainable materials, we’ll see yearly savings on our energy bills and maintenance costs,” added Gaztambide.

Funding for the project has been due to the success of the school’s first capital campaign, Imagine, which to date has raised $1.9 million. GCS is still accepting donations for the project, which is estimated to cost over $2 million by its completion.

“We’ve been talking about this project for so long that sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s really happening,” Kopas said. “It’s exciting. I just keep picturing the students in their new classrooms and can’t wait for them to see their new building.”

To donate to the Upper School Construction Project, contact Cici Coutant, director of advancement, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 203.869.4000 ext. 139.

Register Now for Women’s Conference
| August 10, 2016


TRUMBULL—Women of all ages are invited to participate in the third annual Women’s Conference for the Diocese of Bridgeport, “Made By Love, For Love,” to be held Saturday, November 12, at the St. Catherine of Siena Family Center, 210 Shelton Rd, Trumbull, Conn.

The conference will run from check-in at 9:30 am until the closing Mass at 5:30 pm.

Enjoy time spent away “from the world” to focus on personal spiritual health while surrounded by other Catholic women doing the same. The conference will feature dynamic keynote speakers, Mass celebrated by Msgr. Thomas Powers, opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and private Eucharistic adoration, Eucharistic procession, communal prayer and Catholic vendors.

Speakers include Simcha Fisher, Catholic mom and blogger; Damon Owens, certified speaker for the Theology of the Body Institute; and Sr. Mary Elizabeth Wusinich, SV, Vicar General for the Sisters of Life.

Cost is $45/person (includes breakfast, lunch, snack, and hospitality bag). Religious sisters are free. Accommodations are available for nursing moms of infants. Financial assistance is available for women in need or students. For scholarship information, please contact Maureen Ciardiello at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 203.416.1445. For more information about the conference, visit

Click here to see the flyer.

Knights of Columbus St. Pius X Council Soccer Challenge Champions
| August 10, 2016


FAIRFIELD—Seven boys and girls from Fairfield, Conn ages 9-14, were named local champions of the 2016 Knights of Columbus Soccer Challenge and have earned the right to compete at the regional level. St. Pius X Council 16347 in Fairfield, Conn sponsored the competition at Ludlowe Middle School on August 6, 2016.

Shane Hillis was the 9 year old boys' champion and Madeline Muenzen won the 9 year old girls' division.  Elizabeth Martin was the 10 year old girls' champion and Evan O'Neil was the winner of the 10 year old boys' division. In the 12 year old bracket, Julia Martin was the girls' champion and Kevin Maloney was the boys' champion.  The 14 year old boys' champion was Ian Sacci.Each of these winners will compete in the regional competitions to be held this fall with an eye toward moving on to the state and international levels.

Shehan Center Rolls Out Vehicle Donation Program
| August 09, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—The Cardinal Shehan Center seeks unwanted, unused, or problematic vehicles for its vehicle donation program. The program will benefit the Shehan Center's After School & Saturday Program.

The vehicle donation process is secure and easy. The Shehan Center program will take care of towing to the sale of each car at no cost to donors.

Bridgeport’s Cardinal Shehan Center is a non-profit organization that serves the recreational, educational and social needs of moderate and low-income families and youth of lower Fairfield County.

Shehan’s After School & Saturday Program runs weekdays after school until 5 pm and Saturdays from 10 am-2 pm throughout the school year, providing a fun, safe environment for children in pre-K through eighth grade. Daily activities include, among others, homework help, library time, computers, Girl Scouts, dance and fitness, sports, arts and crafts, photography and a leadership program.

To schedule your FREE vehicle pick-up to benefit the Shehan Center’s program, call 1.877.343.GIVE (4483) or visit

St. Stephen, Bridgeport, Reunion Planned
| August 09, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—The Reunion Committee of St. Stephen’s Parochial School, formerly in Bridgeport, invites alumni and their families to an all-school reunion on Sunday, October 9, at 12:30 pm at Testo’s Restaurant, 1775 Madison Ave, Bridgeport. St. Stephen of Hungary Parish and School were closed in 1971.

Alumni of St. Stephen’s have held reunions in the past to keep alive the memory of the school, parish and Hungarian community, which once dominated the West End of Bridgeport. The old brick school building is now owned by the City of Bridgeport.

Due to changing demographics in the West End and a lack of parishioners, the Diocese of Bridgeport consolidated two Hungarian parishes to make one on October 10, 1971. St. Stephen of Hungary merged with St. Emery in Fairfield, a parish that continues to remember its Hungarian heritage. St. Emery celebrates the only Hungarian Roman Catholic Mass in Connecticut at 11 am each Sunday.

The October reunion will bring together alumni from the old West End school.

“I encourage people to attend and to remember the school and the old Hungarian community of Bridgeport,” said Nancy Legari, a member of the St. Stephen’s Reunion Committee.

The committee, consisting of alumni Marie Kassay, Mary Anne Corcoran, Barbara Chuga, Kathy Sherwood and Nancy Sebol, hopes to hold biannual reunions in the future.

The afternoon begins at 12:30 pm with a family-style lunch at 1. There will be a cash bar. Cost is $35 per person (including lunch). Please make reservations by September 25. For more information or to reserve a spot, please call Barbara Chuga at 203.268.4535.

Bishop Frank Caggiano op-ed: Pilgrims return from Poland ‘transformed’
| August 07, 2016


Published in

BRIDGEPORT—After more than 10 days spent in Poland for World Youth Day, all our pilgrims and chaperones from the Diocese of Bridgeport have returned home safely, transformed by this remarkable experience shared with almost 2 million young from close to 190 countries across the globe.

To see the rich diversity of the group, to participate in the joyful song of our music leaders, to witness the dance of praise that accompanied each day’s morning prayer was to see the beauty of our Catholic Church at its best. Every young pilgrim who attended could not but be touched by the majesty, diversity and strength of our Catholic family spread all throughout the world. It is this lesson of community that I hope is learned by every pilgrim who has come to Krakow.

Our pilgrimage was not without its challenges—just as it should be. Every pilgrimage is an opportunity to step on unfamiliar ground, to put aside our comfortable routines and certainties, and to make ourselves vulnerable in order to learn and grow.

As our Holy Father reminded young people in his World Youth Day homily, “When it comes to Jesus, we cannot sit around waiting with arms folded; he offers us life—we can’t respond by thinking about it or ‘texting’ a few words!”

This year I was privileged to be asked to celebrate Mass and deliver the homily to all the American pilgrims who traveled to Krakow. In reflecting on the lives of Blessed Mother Theresa, Saint Maximilian Kolbe and St. Pope John Paul II, I told the young people that faith has the power to make we who are “ordinary” people into extraordinary ministers of mercy through lives of service and love. Our faith can take us where no one dares to go, and gives us the strength to reach out in love and respect.

Through the eyes of faith we can see what other people are blind to: the suffering and disenfranchised, those who are despised and neglected; that, as our Holy Father has spoken, people in need our not problems to be solved but our brothers and sisters to be loved in their hour of suffering.

Indeed the words of Pope Francis at the Closing Mass of World Youth Day are a clarion call to young people around the world. He urged them not to give in to fear or divisiveness or to retreat from the world because the challenges are daunting and at times overwhelming. The pope’s challenge speaks to youth of all faiths and of no faith—taking the easy way in life is not a path toward greatness or fulfillment.

“Thinking that in this world, in our cities and our communities, there is no longer any room to grow, to dream, to create, to gaze at new horizons—in a word to live—is one of the worst things that can happen to us in life. When we are paralyzed, we miss the magic of encountering others, making friends, sharing dreams, walking at the side of others,” said Pope Francis.

He continued, “God expects something from you. God wants something from you. God hopes in you. God comes to break down all our fences. He comes to open the doors of our lives, our dreams, our ways of seeing things. God comes to break open everything that keeps you closed in. He is encouraging you to dream. He wants to make you see that, with you, the world can be different. For the fact is, unless you offer the best of yourselves, the world will never be different.”

Spending time with your young people from Fairfield County and others across the globe has made me more optimistic than ever about our future. Their longing for spiritual wholeness, their acceptance of diversity and instinctive readiness to serve are helping to lead us forward.

Though we may be going through a time of division and uncertainty both locally and internationally, our young people give us hope. Let us pray that in the words of Pope Francis they become true bridge builders, that they continue to reach out to one another in faith and mercy, and have the courage to change the world.

My thanks go out to all the generous donors who made this pilgrimage possible by subsidizing the cost of travel, to all those who planned, organized and chaperoned the trip, and most of all to our young people themselves who can do extraordinary thing in their faith. Our young are not the future; they are here now and their leadership is renewing our church and our society.

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Saint Charles Borromeo Pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Divine Mercy
| August 05, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—In answer to the Year of Mercy, nearly 400 parishioners from St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bridgeport made a pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass., on July 30. The pilgrimage was one of many ongoing Year of Mercy initiatives at St. Charles.

Participants in the pilgrimage included all three priests and two deacons of St. Charles, the parish youth group and members of the parish’s American, Brazilian, Haitian and Hispanic communities. Pilgrims began the day with Morning Prayer on all six buses. Upon arrival to the Shrine, the group prayed the Stations of the Cross in four languages, guided by the accompanying clergy of the parish.

Father Frank Gomez, pastor of St. Charles, celebrated Mass for the hundreds gathered. Father Gomez encouraged pilgrims “not to be afraid to open the doors of your hearts to the moments of grace that God gives us each day.”

The parishioners of St. Charles have made annual pilgrimages to the Shrine for the past few years, but had never seen such a large turnout. “It was really my push as a pastor to encourage people to attend. Importantly, there was a great response on the part of the clergy. Above all, the parishioners are listening to the voice of the Holy Father.”

Orchestrating encounters with God in the Year of Mercy is important to Father Gomez and other clergy and parishioners at St. Charles. The parish is designated as one of the diocesan Centers of Mercy, meaning that it is open for the Sacrament of Reconciliation from 7-8:30 pm each Thursday during the Year of Mercy.

St. Charles is not merely a stop for confession, however. During the designated confession time on Thursday nights, the parish hosts Mass and Eucharistic adoration in the open church. Father Gomez then prays the Chaplet of Divine Mercy with those gathered before closing with Benediction at 8:30.

“We also promote acts of charity among the kids and the youth group, creating currents for works of mercy,” Father Gomez said. A back-to-school party is planned for the coming weeks, another Year of Mercy initiative wherein parishioners are invited to fill backpacks with school supplies for those in need.

Parishioners of all ages and from all four communities within the parish have been responsive to the Year of Mercy initiatives established by Father Gomez. At the July pilgrimage, “we had babies up to an 89-year-old woman who has always been faithful to our Church, and members of all four communities at our parish,” reflected Father Gomez.

The pilgrimage promoted parish unity during the Year of Mercy in a peaceful atmosphere at the National Shrine.

Father Gomez was delighted to see the tremendous numbers who made the pilgrimage. “As a pastor, it gives me hope to see that people responded to this initiative. We were seeing the church alive.”

#witness at this year’s Fan the Fire
| August 03, 2016


NEWTOWN—Teens in grades 8 through 12 are invited to the 11th annual Fan the Fire Eucharist-Centered Youth Rally on Saturday, August 13, from 9 am to 9 pm on the grounds of St. Rose of Lima Church, 38 Church Hill Rd, Newtown, Conn. This year’s theme is #witness.

Fan the Fire is a one-day event designed to help teens deepen their relationship with Christ. Each year, hundreds of teens gather to celebrate and learn about their Catholic faith.

Fan the Fire will feature fun and inspirational talks, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, recitation of the Rosary, Eucharistic adoration, a teen Mass, games and entertainment provided by Catholic speaker and recording artist Steve Angrisano. Kevin Donovan and Katie Keogler will lead the music ministry.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the main celebrant.

“We are extremely excited that Steve and our own Bishop Caggiano are coming to Fan the Fire this year,” said Rodd Blessey, Fan the Fire host. “The event continues to be a fun day for all teens from our diocese and beyond to come together and learn more about their faith.”

Fan the Fire is presented in association with Fan the Fire ministries and the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Cost is $40; includes lunch and dinner. For more information, contact your youth minister or pastor or call Maria Cerdena at 203.416.1454 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Visit the Fan the Fire website

Click here to listen to Steve Angrisano's "A Rightful Place"