Here comes everybody: divorced, gays, sinners, a couple saints
Ashes for the unabashedly Catholic
Poverty rates reflect ‘serious moral failure’
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FAIRFIELD—Watch this video from the Convivio youth congress held this weekend at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. The gathering, sponsored by the Pastoral Services office of the Diocese of Bridgeport, featured a visit by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and a weekend of prayer and spiritual affirmation.
See Erica Smith giving witness sharing her thoughts as she is interviewed . . . see Logan Otis giving witness as he carries the cross . . . see Alex Difiore giving witness as he is fed by Christ in the Eucharist. Listen to a key few words from Bishop Caggiano and then go out, give witness and show the world how you LOVE!!!
Fairfield Prep's # 3 Keith Pettway drives to the basket through
two Hillhouse High School defenders during Wednesday evening
SCC Championships at Quinnipiac University's TD Bank Sports Center.
Prep would win 56-52. Photo by Mike Ross
Fairfield Prep's # 0 Ryan Murphy drives past a Hillhouse High School
defender during Wednesday evening SCC Championships
at Quinnipiac University's TD Bank Sports Center. Prep would win 56-52.
Photo by Mike Ross
HAMDEN—The tallest player on the floor did his usual damage in the paint, coming within three blocks of a triple-double. But it was one of the shortest players on the floor who made a few of the biggest plays late in Wednesday's SCC boys basketball final.
Ray Featherston, Fairfield Prep's 5-foot-7 reserve guard, pulled down a pair of offensive rebounds off missed free throws as Hillhouse chipped away at the Jesuits' once-sizable lead in the fourth.
"Being the smallest player on the court, nobody's going to box me out," Featherston said. "I was literally left alone for the rebound. He (a Hillhouse player) went for it, thought he was going to grab it, jumped too early. I saw my opportunity."
His opportunity was the Jesuits' gain.
Top-ranked Prep fended off a furious late rally from Hillhouse to claim a 56-52 victory and its first SCC title at Quinnipiac's TD Bank Sports Center.
Center Paschal Chukwu scored 18 points and guard Thomas Nolan added 15 to move the Jesuits—the state's lone remaining unbeaten—to 23-0. Hillhouse, which defeated the Jesuits in last year's conference and LL state finals, dropped to 18-5.
Prep led by as many as 13 points in the third quarter, but Hillhouse got within one in the fourth. That's as close as the Academics would get, though, as Featherston pulled down a rebound with 1:26 left off Nolan's missed free throw. The junior called timeout while falling out of bounds.
"Different guys stepped up," Jesuits coach Leo Redgate said. "I think we played very, very well for three quarters."
With 59 seconds left and Prep ahead 53-51, Featherston did the same as Chukwu missed the front end of a one-and-one. The Jesuits maintained possession, took a little more time off the clock and soon returned to the line.
"It just took one of those extra bounces on the rim," Hillhouse coach Renard Sutton said. "When my big guy went up to get it, that extra bounce cost us. An untimely jump."
Hillhouse was also plagued by an untimely drought from the floor early. Unable to score consistently inside against the 7-foot-2 Chukwu (13 rebounds, seven blocks), the Academics also struggled from the perimeter. They shot just 18-for-58 from the floor, including 6-of-28 from beyond the arc.
The Academics, who dropped both its regular-season meetings with Prep, had a chance to take the lead down 53-51 but missed two 3-pointers.
"We dug ourselves a hole so deep from the beginning," Sutton said. "It shouldn't have to come down to the big shot."
Guard Shane Christie led Hillhouse with 20 points, while John Lewis added 11.
After Hillhouse used a 6-0 spurt at the start of the second quarter to tie it 13-13, the Jesuits responded with six straight points to take the lead for good. They led 29-23 at halftime and 47-36 after three quarters.
"We knew Hillhouse was going to go on a run," said Nolan, who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. "They're too good of a team, they're too well-coached. They know what to do.
"We knew that it was not going to be a 12-point win."
The Jesuits also returned star guard Ryan Murphy from an ankle injury. Playing in his first game since January 4—the Jesuits' first game against Hillhouse this season—the sophomore scored two points in 14 minutes.
After spoiling Hillhouse's sixth straight SCC finals appearance, the Jesuits will now prepare for the LL state tournament as the No. 1 seed.
"We're very happy with the win," Redgate said. "However, our goal is to be playing great—win, lose or draw—at the end of the year."
It is easy enough to tell the poor to accept their poverty as God’s will when you yourself have warm clothes and plenty of food and medical care and a roof over your head and no worry about the rent. But if you want them to believe you, try to share some of their poverty and see if you can accept it as God’s will yourself! Thomas Merton
Outside on the steps an elderly man stands alone, a young husband and wife huddle close together, two men in their twenties try to stand tall while pulling their thin wool jackets up around their necks guarding against the raw February air. The doors of The Thomas Merton House of Hospitality will open at 8:30 am and offer a warm respite for these fragile people, perhaps a shower, a friendly smile, a reassuring look from someone that says “you matter to me,” and the most basic of needs, an opportunity to eat a hot, home cooked meal.
The Thomas Merton Center provides breakfast, lunch and day shelter Monday through Saturday to more than 300 people from the greater Bridgeport area. It is one of the many ministries supported by Catholic Charities through the Annual Bishop’s Appeal. The Thomas Merton Center is most widely known for its soup kitchen and food pantry. We made a visit to the Center and took a quick tour with Mark Grasso, vice president of The Merton Center, and were impressed by how much more than a typical soup kitchen is this wonderful ministry.
Along with providing much needed meals for the homeless, other programs provided by the Center include, Support Groups —a safe, non-judgmental place for individuals to address the issues in their lives that may be barriers to self-sufficiency (i.e. abusive relationships, addiction problems, etc.); Case Management—which includes support for guests teaching guests how to budget and save money, pay rent, obtain and manage federal benefits; and Creative groups—which provide Merton guests with the opportunity to express themselves through writing and art. All of these worthwhile programs would not be possible without help from the Annual Bishop’s Appeal.
“We can’t even open the building and fund our operating costs without the help of the Bishop’s Appeal,” Mark Grasso informed us on our tour. “Our guests have increased a great deal since the recession, we are seeing twice as many people for the food pantry since the recession hit, and while those numbers have leveled off, they haven’t decreased at all. We used to serve 250 families through our food pantry and now we serve 530 families”.
We also learned from Mark that The Merton Center is a great place to put our faith in action. The Center is always looking for volunteers to help serve breakfast and lunch. They often need food pantry donations especially during the cold months of January, February and March when food supplies tend to run low after the Christmas holiday surge. The food pantry is moving locations within the building and they desperately need volunteers to work in the pantry organizing the food donations or helping guests choose their food while keeping their medical, dietary restrictions in mind and making healthy choices. To volunteer call The Merton Center at 203.367.9036.
Our tour of The Thomas Merton Center was extremely moving and eye opening. We are grateful that The Merton Center exists and knowing that another winter storm is on the horizon, we are confident that the doors will open at 8:30 am tomorrow morning and people who have nowhere else to go will be welcomed in out of the cold, cared for, loved and fed by the staff and volunteers of The Merton Center. We know that those doors will open in part thanks to the very generous donations made to the Annual Bishop’s Appeal and we are grateful for the many people who help sustain the wonderful works of the diocese including The Thomas Merton Center. Please join us in praying for the staff, volunteers and especially the guests of The Merton Center as we work together in Building Bridges in Faith and Charity.
Bishop Frank Caggiano, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport,
gives his speech titled To Speak the Truth in Love: The Challenge
of Religious Discourse in a Pluralistic Society as part of the lecture
series Civility in America at the Ferguson Library in Stamford, Conn.,
on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Hearst Connecticut Media Group
is a sponsor of the lecture series. Photo by Jason Rearick
STAMFORD—Bishop Frank Caggiano brought a record crowd to the Ferguson Library on Tuesday for his talk on civility, which touched on the serious topics of truth, love and religion and included a little humor.
"To have such a large group—I being a Catholic bishop—you know there's going to be a collection. So get ready," Caggiano said, while taking the podium.
Listen to Bishop Caggiano’s talk at the Ferguson Library on
"Civility in Society" and "Contemporary Religious Discourse"
Audience members packed into the third-floor auditorium to hear Caggiano, who became the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport in September. His speech, "To Speak the Truth in Love: The Challenge of Religious Discourse in a Pluralistic Society," is part of an ongoing series on Civility in America at the downtown facility.
The bishop was introduced by Joseph Pisani, who said he "belongs to Connecticut now" and that he was struck by Caggiano's enthusiasm and depth of knowledge. Pisani is former editor of The Advocate and currently an associate at The Dilenschneider Group, which organizes the series, along with Sacred Heart University and Purdue Pharma, in conjunction with Hearst Connecticut Media and the library.
Caggiano said his goal is not to bring answers, but to bring questions and provoke dialogue about religion or any form of life. He also wanted to talk about discourse between churches and within the Catholic Church itself.
"To have real theological dialogue, there is much work to be done," he added.
Caggiano called the lack of religious discourse "deeply troubling," but said it wasn't always that way. At some point, public sentiment began to shift into what he referred to as "benign neglect."
"The place of religious discourse in our society has diminished greatly," he said.
Caggiano told people to "search for the truth," and there is nothing to fear from science, religion or the arts. He said speaking the truth is the formula for success in every aspect of life.
With everyone commenting on social media, he said, it's actually moving us further and further into the direction of truth.
"Truth is not something, it's someone—Jesus," he said. "He is love in the flesh, and therefore represents the truth."
Love demands that every person that speaks the truth also listens to others with an open heart, Caggiano said.
"Love requires patience, does it not?" he asked.
The bishop also said love demands a community that accepts diversity, does not give into fear and gives courage to live the truth.
"There's nothing to fear, because society is always enriched when you have more and more people speaking the truth in love," he said. "Please, God, let that day be upon us."
In the question-and-answer period, one man asked if society can survive, long-term, without some spiritual beliefs. Caggiano said his niece's friends always say they are "spiritual, not religious." He said people are comfortable "with me, not we."
"The individual without the community is impoverished at best," he said. "Religion has to remain, or I don't think society as a whole can prosper."
Caggiano, 54, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Italian immigrant parents. He attended Yale University, where he majored in political science.
In 1978, Caggiano entered Cathedral College in Douglaston, N.Y., where he obtained a bachelor's degree in philosophy, summa cum laude, in 1981. He worked at McGraw Hill Publishing Co. for 18 months, before studying at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, N.Y., earning a master's degree in divinity.
Prior to his speech, Caggiano said he had a "deep-seated sense" that he wanted to do something that had an ethereal difference, but he fought his vocation for a long time, thinking he wanted to have a family. He said he got a great job, traveled, and the desire grew, so he went back to the seminary.
In his closing remarks, Caggiano said, "The time for the mediocre Catholic has come to an end. If we're going to preach, we have to live it. Talk is cheap."
Bishop Frank Caggiano gives his speech titled To Speak the Truth in Love: The Challenge of Religious Discourse in a Pluralistic Society as part of the lecture series Civility in America at the Ferguson Library in Stamford, Conn., on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Hearst Connecticut Media Group is a sponsor of the lecture series. Photo: Jason Rearick. Click here for article by CT Post
“As Lent draws near, I would like to offer some helpful thoughts on our path of conversion as individuals and as a community.” Here in the first sentence of his Lenten message, Pope Francis gives us a needed reminder that we are called to walk on the “path of conversion.”
But conversion is not a once and for all done deal. It is a lifelong journey. We must remember that we are a work in progress. We need to keep in mind and heart the challenge put before us on Ash Wednesday: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”
As individuals, church and nation, we are called by God to turn away from all evil. Sins like pride, greed, lust, indifference, nationalism, consumerism, secularism, anger, abortion, violence and war must give way to the central Gospel virtue of love—love for all, including our enemies. And our love must have a preferential concern for the vulnerable and poor.
“Charity, love” writes the pope, “is sharing with the one we love in all things. Love makes us similar, it creates equality, it breaks down walls and eliminates distances. God did this with us.”
The Holy Father teaches that “The logic of the incarnation and the cross” is “God’s logic, the logic of love.”
The pope writes, “It is striking that the Apostle [Paul] states that we were set free, not by Christ’s riches but by his poverty. …
“What gives us true freedom, true salvation and true happiness is the compassion, tenderness and solidarity of his love. Christ’s poverty which enriches us is his taking flesh and bearing our weaknesses and sins as an expression of God’s infinite mercy to us.”
“In imitation of our Master,” writes Pope Francis, “we Christians are called to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it. Destitution is not the same as poverty: destitution is poverty without faith, without support, without hope.”
The pope teaches that there are three types of destitution. The first type is Material Destitution—normally called poverty—affects “those living in conditions opposed to human dignity.”
Pope Francis warns against making power, luxury and money our idols. He urges us not to let these idols take priority over the need to have everyone benefit from a fair distribution of wealth.
But sadly, fair distribution of wealth is not the case in the U.S. or throughout most of the world.
The pope challenges our consciences to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing.
“No less a concern is moral destitution, which consists in slavery to vice and sin,” adds the pope.
Finally, there is spiritual destitution which occurs when we turn away from God.
The Holy Father writes, “If we think we don’t need God who reaches out to us through Christ, because we believe we can make do on our own, we are headed for a fall. God alone can truly save and free us. …
“Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty,” writes Pope Francis.
“Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.”
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.
FAIRFIELD—The sixth annual Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice (CAPP) Educators’ Communion Breakfast will take place at Sacred Heart University on Sunday, March 9.
This event is sponsored by CAPP and Sacred Heart University’s Isabelle Farrington College of Education. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will celebrate Mass at 9 am in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, followed by breakfast in University Commons. A tour of the chapel will be offered at 8:30 am.
The CAPP 2014 Educational Leadership Award will be presented to Frank J. Rice, Ph.D, professor emeritus of biology at Fairfield University.
Keynote speaker Fr. Anthony J. Ciorra, Sacred Heart’s assistant vice president for Mission and Catholic Identity will discuss “A Vision for Educators for the Twenty-First Century.” Prior to his appointment at Sacred Heart, Fr. Ciorra was dean of the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University, where he received his Ph.D. in theology, and professor of theology and director of the Center of Theological and Spiritual Development at the College of St. Elizabeth.
In acknowledgment of his ministry in the Church, he was awarded the pontifical honor Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice by Pope John Paul in 1999. The following year, he was given the Caritas Centennial Award and Spirit of Renew Award for his work in lay ministry and interreligious dialogue and ecumenism respectively.
He is now actively involved in the creation of interreligious programs and retreats among Jews, Christians and Muslims. His most recent book is Beauty: A Path to God (Paulist Press, 2013).
CAPP was founded at the Vatican in 1993 to encourage business people, academics and other professionals to study and promote Catholic social teaching. It is named for Pope John Paul’s encyclical of the same name that marked the 100th anniversary of the landmark papal document on social responsibility, Rerum Novarum (“Of New Things”), otherwise known as “Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor” an encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 addressing the condition of the working classes.
The Diocese of Bridgeport is one of three pioneering dioceses in the United States to establish a CAPP chapter.
Cost: $35/person; $300 table of 10. Spouses and friends welcome. To register or for more information, call Shelia Mosley: 203.396.8097.
STAMFORD—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will speak about civility in religious dialogue on Tuesday, March 4, at 6 pm at the Ferguson Library in Stamford.
His talk, “To Speak the Truth in Love: The Challenge of Religious Discourse in a Pluralistic Society,” is part of a series on Civility in America organized by Sacred Heart University, The Dilenschneider Group and Purdue Pharma LP in conjunction with Hearst Media Group in Connecticut and The Ferguson Library.
Bishop Caggiano is widely recognized as a teacher, having been selected twice to offer catechism instruction to young people at World Youth Days, in Madrid and Rio de Janeiro. Following World Youth Day, he traveled to Ireland where he had been selected by the Catholic Bishops to help lead the “Youth 2000” Summer Retreat.
As Dean of Formation for the Permanent Diaconate Program and the Censor Librorum of the Diocese of Brooklyn, he oversaw the spiritual and theological formation of the men who were preparing for ordination as permanent deacons. He also taught theology courses at Catholic universities, including the Staten Island campus of Saint John’s University and Saint Joseph’s College.
Public opinion polls show that in every sector of society, civility has declined, and this decline is manifested in political attacks, lack of personal decency, outrage in the media and cyber-assaults in the blogosphere.
Robert L. Dilenschneider, founder and president of The Dilenschneider Group, who conceived the idea for the series, said, “Incivility has become socially acceptable and commonplace. The lack of civility in every segment of society, from politics to academia, from the media to the blogosphere, from talk radio to the pulpit, has become a crippling epidemic that threatens the future of our country. Something must be done.”
For information about the series, call 203.964.1000, or register online at www.sacredheart.edu/civilityinamerica.
BETHEL—On February 22, during St. Mary's annual Gala/Auction, Sister Anne McCarthy, St. Mary’s principal, was awarded the "Outstanding Leader in Education Award" by the Bethel Education Foundation.
Foundation board members Maureen Tyra and Joe Vitarelli presented the award. Its inscription reads: “This award is in recognition of her dedication and success in fostering exceptional student learning.”
The Foundation was established in 2008 with a mission "to promote innovation, creativity and excellence in learning for our children and the community." It supports the pre-schools in Bethel, the Bethel public schools and Saint Mary’s. Each year the Foundation recognizes a teacher for educational excellence.
The Foundation board members felt that a special award needed to be given to Sister Anne because of her accomplishments over the years. In their presentation, Tyra and Viarelli recounted Sister Anne’s many accomplishments, first those specifically related to the nomination and recognition process and adding many of the personal touches she brings to her job. Sister Anne was speechless when presented with the award! (Yes, truly!)
St. Mary’s parishioners were pleased to see this exceptional woman be recognized by the community in which she has served with such dedication.
VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis said bishops should act not like ambitious corporate executives, but humble evangelists and men of prayer, willing to sacrifice everything for their flocks.
"We don't need a manager, the CEO of a business, nor someone who shares our pettiness or low aspirations," the pope said February 27. "We need someone who knows how to rise to the height from which God sees us, in order to guide us to him."
Pope Francis' words came in a speech to the Congregation for Bishops, the Vatican body that advises him on the appointment of bishops around the world.
He stressed the importance of self-sacrifice in a bishop's ministry, which he described as a kind of martyrdom.
"The courage to die, the generosity to offer one's own life and exhaust one's self for the flock are inscribed in the episcopate's DNA," he said. "The episcopate is not for itself but for the church, for the flock, for others, above all for those whom the world considers only worth throwing away."
Pope Francis listed several desirable virtues in potential bishops, including a "capacity for healthy, balanced relationships," "upright behavior," "orthodoxy and fidelity" to church doctrine; and "transparency and detachment in administrating the goods of the community."
The pope laid special emphasis on a bishop's ability to evangelize and pray.
In preaching the Gospel, bishops should be appealing rather than censorious, upholding church teaching "not in order to measure how far the world falls short of the truth it contains, but to fascinate the world, enchant it with the beauty of love, seduce it by offering the freedom of the Gospel."
"The church doesn't need apologists for their own causes, nor crusaders for their own battles, but humble sowers who trust in the truth ... bishops who know that even when night falls and the day's toil leaves them tired, the seeds in the field will be sprouting."
As models of prayer for bishops, Pope Francis cited Abraham and Moses, who argued with God to dissuade him from destroying their sinful people.
"A man who lacks the courage to argue with God on behalf of his people cannot be a bishop," the pope said.
Quoting from an address he gave to Vatican diplomats last June, Pope Francis said bishops should be "meek, patient and merciful," embracing both spiritual and material poverty, and renouncing any ambition for appointment to more important dioceses.
The pope voiced anew his concern about bishops, "in this time of meetings and conventions," traveling too much to fulfill their pastoral duties at home. He suggested the congregation study the latter-day relevance of a decree by the 16th-century Council of Trent requiring bishops to live in their dioceses.
Pope Francis also stressed that bishops should be suited to the particular local needs of their dioceses.
"There is no standard pastor for all the churches," the pope said. "Christ knows the singularity of the pastor every church requires, able respond to its needs and help it realize its potential."
"Where can we find such men? It is not easy. Do they exist? How can we choose them?" Pope Francis asked in closing. "I am sure they exist, because the Lord does not abandon his church. Maybe it is we who do not spend long enough in the fields looking for them."
NORWALK—All Saints Catholic School Celebrates Black History Month.
"I am Maya Angelou.”
"I am Muhammad Ali.”
"I am Martin Luther King Jr."
Third graders at All Saints Catholic School brought history to life during the Black History Month Celebration Wednesday morning, culminating a month-long study of important African-Americans in history.
Third grade teacher Elizabeth Williams said, "All month we have been learning about black historical figures. I gave the kids a specific black figure to look up and they had to do book report on him or her. Then we decided to do a wax museum and they had to bring their historian to life."
From Zora Neale Hurston to George Washington Carver, students spoke about their historians role in history. Natalia protrayed First Lady Michelle Obama. "My goal is to overcome childhood obesity.”
Andres portrayed Garrett Morgan, who invented the gas mask. "I'm an inventor. I created the most important invention in 1912. It's called the safety hood."
"I founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association dedicated to providing African Americans resettlement in Africa," said Gian, who potrayed Marcus Garvey. Teachers at All Saints say it's important for students to learn about black history at a young age. "My thing is to get them involved in black history at an early age so that when they go into high school and they talk about a black historian, they won't say "Who is that?"", said Williams.
Alisha brought Ella Fitzgerald to life on stage. "It was good because I like how she was a singer and I really like singing."
"I liked learning about his baseball career," said James who portrayed Jackie Robinson.
NORWALK—Knights of Columbus #14360 St. Matthew Council in Norwalk aimed to fight homelessness by raising $350 on Saturday, February 22 at Title Boxing, 250 Westport Avenue in Norwalk.
All proceeds were raised for “Homes for the Brave” group in Bridgeport.
Title Boxing introduced those who signed up to a whole new way of working out. No treadmills or elliptical machines, but rather a rigorous, calorie-burning session known as a “power hour”. One sixty minute session can burn almost 1,000 calories. The workout was done by participants of all ages.
“Homes for the Brave" has provided safe housing, vocational training and job placement, mental health and addiction services, and life skills coaching to help individuals, especially Veterans, leave homelessness behind,” says Eric Van de Bovencamp from Title Boxing. “We were happy to help out.”
To date, the organization has worked with more than 800 individuals. “We are so happy to help this great organization and I want to thank Title Boxing of Norwalk for helping us with this great event,” said George Ribellino, Grand Knight of St. Matthew Knights of Columbus Council 14360.
FAIRFIELD—Girls Varsity Ice Hockey today at 4PM vs. Branford in the SCC D2 Championship game. Get to the Bennett Rink in West Haven and support the girls in their quest for Notre Dame’s first championship in Girls Ice Hockey! LET'S GO LADY LANCERS!
NORWALK—When Bishop Caggiano rounded the corner to greet the teens who had fasted for more than a day to make people more aware of hunger in the world, he was met by a loud cheer of appreciation for his support.
That same joy and excitement was shared at the Mass that followed at St. Philip Church in Norwalk where more than 1,000 worshippers gathered to celebrate the yearly “30 Hour Famine” observance in an act of solidarity with the homeless and hungry.
Along with prayerful fasting the young people raised more than $36,000 to feed the poor in ten countries served by World Vision.
The teens’ fast began on Saturday morning when they walked from the Norwalk Green to St. Philip for a prayer service and other activities. They were wearing their bright red “Tell Everyone” t-shirts to make people aware that 870 million people around the globe are hungry, and that an estimated 19,000 children die of hunger every day.
In his homily Bishop Caggiano said that while hunger around the world is often a result of human conflict and corruption and the indifference of the wealthy, but that “we can put hunger to rest once and for all not simply by the money raised but when the Holy Spirit is alive in our hearts.”
“We’re going to have to do it with God and through the power of love. Only by opening our heart and mind to the Holy Spirit will that day come,” the bishop said.
The bishop drew laughter when he began his homily by noting “that the only thing that stands between 165 kids and breakfast is me, and that’s a dangerous position.” But he told them that breakfast was on the way and that the Eucharist would nourish their spirit.
“When we receive communion, Christ is feeding your hunger and mine,” said the Bishop who praised the teens for the “prophetic and courageous witness they have given and for their faith that we can change the world for the better.”
Reflecting on the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus tells us “to love our enemies,” Bishop Caggiano said that the young people who participated in the fast were an example of “loving until it hurts, and that means even loving those who are part of the problem, so that they may become part of the solution.”
In a moving ceremony at the end of Mass, the young people held up large black and white photos of hungry people from around the world, while the choir sang “The Least of these,” a song that asked those present to reach out to all those who are hungry both physically and spiritually.
To make a donation, send a check payable to either “World Vision” or “Manna House” addressed to “Famine” at St. Philip Church, Fr. Conlon Place, Norwalk CT 06851. More information can be found at www.stphilipnorwalk.weebly.com.
BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has called all Catholics in the diocese to prepare for the upcoming Synod, "Building a Bridge to the Future Together."
Please read the Pastoral Letter announcing The Fourth Synod of the Diocese of Bridgeport and the formal Decree of Convocation.
STAMFORD—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano spoke recently to the members of the newly formed Holy Spirit Parish Men’s Group. Among those in attendance for the bishop’s visit were (l-r) Holy Spirit Deacon Paul Jennings; Msgr. Kevin Royal, the newly appointed pastor of Holy Spirit; Bishop Caggiano; and 47-year-parishioner and member of the Men’s Group Carmine J. Vaccaro.
For more information please contact, Carmine Vaccaro at 203.322.9238.
BRIDGEPORT—Fr. Ian Jeremiah has been named vicar of clergy and director of the Office of Clergy and Religious of the Diocese of Bridgeport. The appointment, made by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, will be effective May 1, 2014.
The Office of Clergy and Religious serves the more than 300 active and retired priests and deacons of the Diocese of Bridgeport as well as 350 religious.
Fr. Jeremiah’s responsibilities include overseeing clergy personnel issues including the assignment of all clergy, continuing education and formation, and support services for the personal well being of active and retired priests and deacons.
“Fr. Jeremiah is known to his brother priests as a man of integrity and deep spirituality. He will serve as a great source of support for all of our priests including the newly ordained, our pastors and priest retirees.
He succeeds Msgr. Kevin Royal who has held the post since 2006, when he was named director of Clergy and Religious by Bishop William E. Lori. In January of this year, Msgr. Royal was named pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in Stamford after serving as administrator since 2012.
A native of Malaysia, Fr. Jeremiah, 50, comes to the Catholic Center from St. Aloysius Parish, New Canaan, where he has served as parochial vicar since June 2008.
Fr. Jeremiah first came to the U.S. in 1989, working as an accountant at Daytop, Inc., a not-for-profit organization in New York City, while pursuing an M.B.A. from Columbia University. He also graduated with a degree in Accounting from The National University of Malaysia.
He was living in Stamford and attending Mass at his home parish of Saint Maurice when he saw a pamphlet on vocations published by the Knights of Columbus. He subsequently entered the Saint John Fisher Seminary Residence, Stamford, in 2002. He completed his seminary studies at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD. He was ordained by Bishop Lori at St. Augustine Cathedral on May 17, 2008.
As a deacon, he held summer assignments at St. Mary Parish in Ridgefield; St. Joseph Parish in Shelton; St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown; and St. Joseph Parish in Danbury.
“To me, the word ‘priest’ is not just a noun; it’s a verb—a call to action. By the grace of God, I want to be that instrument of God who loves and can bring the love of Christ to others,” said Fr. Jeremiah in an earlier interview with Fairfield County Catholic. “As a priest, I hope to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to the many people who are in search of God, in search of hope, in need of encouragement, direction, truth, and love, and to share this message with them.”
The Office for Clergy and Religious is located at the Catholic Center, 238 Jewett Avenue in Bridgeport. For further information call: 203.416.1453.
For quite some time I have had an interest in the plight of the homeless. I have read about it, prayed over it, and have done small things to help.
But feeling that I could, and should, do more to make a difference, I concluded that living as a homeless man—at least for a very brief period—was the best way to understand what it’s like to have no place to call home.
I decided that St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, on the fringe of downtown Baltimore, would be my first stop.
Since the parish opens its basement to homeless people every Friday for a hot meal, and allows them to stay in the small park adjacent to the church, St. Vincent’s was symbolically a very good place to start my day as a homeless man.
After praying before the Blessed Sacrament, I hit the sub-freezing streets with no money.
After walking several blocks I reached Our Daily Bread Employment Center—a comprehensive facility run by Catholic Charities dedicated to supporting efforts of homeless people to secure stable employment and housing.
There I got into a line of men, women and children waiting to be admitted into the dining room where a free hot meal is served every day.
Once inside, I sat at a table with a young man who said he was trying to recover from drug addiction and was homeless as a result.
From there I walked to Health Care for the Homeless—an organization dedicated to providing free medical care to people who have no permanent residence, and would otherwise go untreated. Inside were approximately 75 homeless women and men waiting to be seen by a nurse. There I spoke with an older man who had serious family problems that caused his homelessness.
Next, I stopped at a hotel and fast food restaurant asking if they were hiring. They were not.
From there I walked the streets of downtown Baltimore asking people—like some homeless persons do—for a little loose change to buy a cup of coffee.
I politely approached approximately 35 people. About 30 of them ignored me, said they didn’t have any money, or simply said no. And I almost got arrested for approaching a police officer who sternly warned me that “panhandling” was a crime in Baltimore.
But five people did offer me a small donation. I explained what I was doing, and thankfully declined their generosity.
Asking strangers for a small favor was a humbling experience.
Next stop was the Helping Up Mission—a multiservice nondenominational shelter where 53 homeless men can get a shower, laundry done, needed clothes, a clean bed, and a good supper and breakfast. But unfortunately, there was not enough room for everyone who came that cold evening.
At the Mission, I talked with men of various ages who were down on their luck, had supper with them, and attended an inspiring Protestant chapel service.
Later that night, as I walked back to my vehicle, I realized that I was a richer person for having lived one day as a homeless man.
I thought about the homeless men and women I encountered, and their monumental problems.
And I more clearly understood God’s call to each of us, our church and our government, to work for the day when every human being has a decent place to call home.
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.
RIVERSIDE—"Barnum's the name. P.T. Barnum. And I want to tell you that tonight you are going to see-bar none-every sight, wonder and miracle that name stands for!"
Here is the show that traces the career of America's greatest showman from 1835 to the year he joined James A. Bailey to form The Greatest Show on Earth.
Join us for St. Catherine’s Players 2014 production of BARNUM with music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Michael Stewart and book by Mark Bramble, which won Tony Awards for Best Actor, Scenic Designer and Costume Design, the Drama Desk Award for Best Actor, and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Broadway Musical. BARNUM played for 854 performances on Broadway at the St. James Theatre and starred Jim Dale and Glenn Close.
The circus is coming to Greenwich! Come one, come all to see the strongmen, a Swedish soprano, the oldest woman alive and the smallest man in the world. Come be amazed by jugglers, tumblers, stilt-walkers and clowns. Get your popcorn, peanuts and animal crackers!
Tony Morello (Greenwich) as PT Barnum and Rebecca Cooper (Greenwich) as Chairy Barnum lead the cast of all ages including Joe Guttadauro (Norwalk) as the Ringmaster, Karen Morello (Stamford) as Joyce Heth, Christina Kompar (Hastings-on-Hudson, NY) as Jenny Lind, Greg Suss (Old Greenwich) as Julius Goldschmidt, Marissa Caro (Greenwich) as the Blues Singer, and Stephen Hohl (Greenwich) as Tom Thumb. Stuart Adelberg, director, has led St. Catherine’s Players for more than twenty years, and Rita Lapcevic, musical director, has been with the Players for more than ten years.
Performances are held at St. Catherine of Siena Lucey Parish Hall, 4 Riverside Avenue, Riverside CT, on Friday, February 28th at 8:00 pm; Saturday, March 1st at 7:30 pm; Sunday, March 2nd at 2:00 pm; Friday, March 7th at 8:00 pm; Saturday, March 8th at 7:30 pm and Sunday, March 9th at 2:00 pm. For theatergoers at the February 28th performance, enjoy the complimentary opening night reception to meet and greet the cast, crew and production staff of BARNUM.
BRIDGEPORT—Please watch the new 2014 Annual Bishop's Appeal video as Bishop Frank J. Caggiano offers a heart-felt, spiritual tour of the diocese and the healing work supported by the Annual Appeal.
Visit the Appeal website >>
NORWALK—Many people endure the storms of poverty, homelessness and mental illness alone amidst the affluence of Fairfield County, said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at the a special Mass to celebrate the launch of the 2014 Bishop’s Appeal.
Click here to watch the slideshow!
Speaking to more than 350 faithful at St. Matthew Parish in Norwalk, the Bishop thanked donors for their generosity in support of the mission of the church.
Surrounded on the altar by 50 priests from parishes throughout Fairfield County, the Bishop reflected on the account of Jesus calming the storm in the Gospel of Mark.
“I was never surprised that he calmed the storm. What surprised me is that he was able to sleep through it,” said the Bishop, drawing a laugh when he said he had a hard time sleeping in Trumbull because it was so quiet compared to Brooklyn.
The Bishop said that we all face storms of loss and even despair in our lives, and the parable gives us an answer about how to face them.
“Perhaps he slept in the boat because he had faith in his disciples and in us. He has faith that we will follow him every step of the way and cross to the other side with him.”
He said the poor and needy of Fairfield County are waiting for us to help calm the storm that besets them.
“As part of working to get to the other side, we must build a bridge for our brothers and sisters. If the Lord has faith in us, who are we to doubt that we can get this done,” he said.
During the homily he took time to praise diocesan ministries and services including schools, Catholic Charities.
At the end of Mass the Bishop introduced Cece and Mike Donoghue of Darien who are serving as this year’s Chair Couple. Cece read the First Reading, and Mike led the Prayer of the Faithful. They are parishioners of St. John Parish.
“We ask for your blessings on our parishioners and donors who give freely from their hearts and respond to God’s call of caring for the neighbor,” the Bishop said in leading the annual appeal prayer.
A reception followed the Mass in the Masterpool Great Room of St. Matthew Parish. Display tables were set up with information about diocesan ministries.
“Building Bridges in faith and charity” is the theme of this year’s appeal, which supports a wide range of programs including Catholic Charities, diocesan schools, care of retired priests, religious education, St. John Fisher Seminary and clergy ministries. To make a gift online, go to www.2014ABA.com.
BRIDGEPORT—Msgr. Dariusz J. Zielonka, J.C.D., has been named Director of the 2014 Diocesan Synod by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.
The diocesan conclave, now in its preparatory phase, will be officially launched on Saturday, May 3, with a Vespers Service to pray for the success of the Synod at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.
The bishop first announced the Synod in January 2014, “so that all God’s people in Fairfield County can seek the Lord’s grace to foster the long-term spiritual and pastoral renewal of our Diocese.”
The opening session of the Synod and all of its delegates is set for Friday, September 19, 2014, while the closing session is scheduled for Saturday, September 19, 2015.
“Msgr. Dariusz brings a deep faith, the skills of a canon lawyer and liturgist, and the experience of having served as Priest Secretary to the Bishop to this important post as Synod director,” said Bishop Caggiano.
“His organizational skills, interest in new media and knowledge of the diocese will help to orchestrate the Synod, which will gather the diocesan family to work together to meet the challenges we face in our own time,” the bishop said.
In the coming months, Msgr. Dariusz will coordinate establishment of the Synod Commission and the development of a consultation period regarding pastoral topics to be addressed.
His role as Synod director is to assist the Synod with the coordination of all activities, communications, including the transmission and archiving of documentation, and direction of logistical matters.
The Synod is expected to involve the participation of hundreds of Catholics throughout the diocese as delegates and sub-committee members to chart the future of the diocese. The bishop has said that the Synod will draw “leaders on every level of the Church’s life to work together in a true spirit of dialogue and collaboration. Clergy, religious and laity must discern together the pressing issues that we face through prayer and study, seek to understand what each of these challenges mean, identify creative ways by which we can address them and seek the courage to do what the Lord will ask of us.”
Msgr. Dariusz, served as priest secretary to Bishop William E. Lori and vice chancellor of the diocese from 2002 to 2009. In 2008, he was named Chaplain to His Holiness with the title of Monsignor, receiving Papal Honors from Pope Benedict XVI.
In March 2013, he was appointed to the Diocesan Tribunal after completing his graduate studies at Catholic University of America, where he earned a doctorate in canon law.
Msgr. Dariusz, 45, was born in Piotrków Trybunalski, Poland. He entered the archdiocesan seminary in Lódz, Poland, and completed his theological studies at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, PA.
He was ordained in St. Augustine Cathedral in 1995. Msgr. Dariusz served as parochial vicar at St. James Parish in Stratford and St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan prior to becoming priest secretary. He is also a member of the Diocesan College of Consultors.
In addition to reports in Fairfield County Catholic, Synod documents will be available online at www.bridgeportdiocese.com.
VATICAN CITY—Greeting thousands of engaged couples on the feast of St. Valentine, Pope Francis told them not to be afraid of building a permanent and loving relationship in a culture where everything is disposable and fleeting.
The secrets to a loving and lasting union, he said, include treating each other with respect, kindness and gratitude, and never letting daily struggles and squabbles sabotage making peace and saying, "I'm sorry."
"The perfect family doesn't exist, nor is there a perfect husband or a perfect wife, and let's not talk about the perfect mother-in-law!" he said to laughter and applause.
"It's just us sinners," he said. But "if we learn to say we're sorry and ask forgiveness, the marriage will last."
After a week of heavy rains, bright sunshine warmed St. Peter's Square and the 30,000 people who gathered for an audience Feb. 14 dedicated to couples completing their marriage preparation courses and planning to be married in the church this year.
The initiative, "The Joy of 'Yes' Forever," was organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family. The council president, Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, is a former bishop of Terni and successor to St. Valentine -- the third-century martyred bishop of Terni.
The archbishop told the pope that the young couples in the square were evidence of how many people do want to "go against the tide" by having a love that lasts forever and is blessed by God.
Engaged couples attending the audience received a small white pillow with Pope Francis' signature and his papal crest; the cushion has two satin ribbons for securing wedding rings during the marriage ceremony.
Three of the couples shared with the pope their thoughts and concerns about living a Christian marriage and asked for his advice.
While the pope confessed he had the questions in advance and wrote out his answers, that didn't stop him from straying from the text to give further emphasis and examples.
"Living together is an art, a patient, beautiful and amazing journey" that "doesn't end when you've won over each others' hearts," he said. Rather "that's exactly when it begins!"
A healthy family life, he said, absolutely requires frequent use of three phrases: "May I? Thank you, and I'm sorry."
People need to be more attentive to how they treat each other, he said. They must trade in their heavy "mountain boots" for greater delicacy when walking into someone else's life.
Love isn't tough or aggressive, he said, it's courteous and kind, and in a world that is "often violent and aggressive, we need much more courtesy."
Couples also need the strength to recognize when they've done wrong and ask forgiveness. The "instinct" to accuse someone else "is at the heart of so many disasters," starting with Adam, who ate the forbidden fruit. When God asked him if he did it, the pope said, Adam immediately passes the blame saying, "'Uh, no, it was that one over there who gave it to me!' Accusing the other to get out of saying 'I'm sorry' and 'Pardon me.'"
Obviously, couples will make mistakes and fight, but "never, never, never end the day without making peace," the pope said.
An eloquent speech isn't necessary, he said, but things must be set right because if they aren't, the bad feelings inside will become "cold and hard and it will be more difficult to make peace" as time goes on.
Many people can't imagine or are afraid of a love and marriage that lasts forever because they think love is an emotional-physical feeling or state-of-being, he said. But "love is a relationship, it's something that grows."
The relationship needs to be taken care of every day, "entrusting yourselves to the Lord Jesus in a life that becomes a daily spiritual journey, made step by step, tiny steps" toward greater maturity and spiritual growth, he said.
Like his miracle of multiplying the loaves, Jesus will do the same "also for you," he said, "multiplying your love and giving it to you good and fresh every day."
The pope also urged couples to keep their wedding ceremonies low-key, focusing more on Christ than on the dress, decorations and photographers.
A Christian marriage is a celebration, but it must highlight "what's really important," and "the true reason for your joy: the blessing of your love by the Lord."
Manuela Franchini, 29, and Armando Perasole, 30, who are getting married Dec. 12, attended the event. They moved from Naples to Milan for work, and told Catholic News Service that economic and political problems in Italy make it "really hard for families. But with the church there is more hope in being able to make it."
Robert Duncan, who is a multimedia journalist at the Catholic News Service Rome bureau, and his fiancee, Constance Daggett, were one of the handful of couples chosen to speak about their journeys of faith and love, and to meet the pope.
The two 25-year-olds became Catholics as adults and Duncan said, "The fact that we're able to begin our marriage in the presence of the pope is a culmination of a process that has been the story of our love."
Giovanna, an Italian woman at the event with her fiance, said they find inspiration and a model for a happy marriage in two friends of theirs who have been married for many years.
"They look at each other with the same kind of love they had the day they first met," she said.
VATICAN CITY—Going to Mass and receiving the Eucharist should make a difference in the way Catholics live, Pope Francis said; they should be more accepting of others and more aware of their sinfulness.
"If we don't feel in need of God's mercy and don't think we are sinners, it's better not to go to Mass," Pope Francis said Feb. 12 at his weekly general audience. The Eucharist is a celebration of Christ's gift of himself for the salvation of sinners, which is why the Mass begins with people confessing they are sinners and begging for the Lord's mercy.
Continuing a series of audience talks about the sacraments, the pope asked people to think about how they approach the Mass and what difference it makes in their lives and the lives of their parishes.
Do you go to Mass because it's a habit or a time to see your friends? the pope asked. "Or is it something more?"
"When we go to Mass, we find ourselves with all sorts of people," the pope said. "Does the Eucharist we celebrate lead me to consider all of them as brothers and sisters? Does it increase my ability to rejoice when they do and to weep with those who weep?"
Pope Francis kisses a child as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Feb. 12. (CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis said it is not enough to say one loves Jesus; it must be shown in love for those he loved.
Ask yourself, he said, if going to Mass helps you reach out to the suffering or "am I indifferent, or am I gossiping, 'Did you see how that one's dressed?' Sometimes people do that after Mass. But this shouldn't happen."
Attendance at Mass also should lead to "the grace of feeling forgiven and able to forgive others," he said.
Pope Francis said he knows that some people wonder why they should bother going to church when the church is filled with people who sin like everyone else.
"In reality, those who participate in the Mass don't do so because they think or want to believe they are superior to others, but precisely because they know they are in need" of God's mercy, he said.
"We go to Mass because we know we are sinners and want Jesus' forgiveness," the pope said. "When, at the beginning of Mass, we say, 'I confess,' it's not something pro forma. It's a real act of penance."
In the Eucharist, Jesus truly gives us his body and blood for the remission of sins, he said.
Celebrating the Eucharist also should make a difference in the way a parish community lives, he said. At Mass, Christ gathers people around him "to nourish us with his word and his life. This means that the mission and identity of the church begin and take form there."
"A celebration could be perfect from an aesthetic point of view -- it can be beautiful -- but if it does not lead us to an encounter with Jesus Christ, it risks not giving any nourishment to our hearts and lives," the pope said. There must be "coherence between our Eucharist and our lives."
Watch a clip of Pope Francis holding his general audience in St. Peter's Square February 12.
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The text of the pope's audience remarks in English is available online at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/audiences/2014/documents/papa-francesco_20140212_udienza-generale_en.html
The text of the pope's audience remarks in Spanish is available online at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/audiences/2014/documents/papa-francesco_20140212_udienza-generale_sp.html
BRIDGEPORT—The Diocese of Bridgeport has released Financial Statements and Commentary on the Current Funds Status of the “Faith in the Future Fund, Inc.” as the final part of its overall “Stewardship Report” issued in December 2012.
The “Faith in the Future Fund” was formed in the spring of 1996, after Bishop Edward M. Egan authorized a capital campaign to provide a source of endowed support for various ministries in the diocese. It was established as a not-for-profit corporation that would receive, invest, manage and disburse funds raised by the 1996 Faith in the Future Endowment Campaign of the diocese.
The major goal of the campaign was to set up endowment support for the five diocesan high schools, catholic elementary schools, vocations and seminary education, religious education in parishes, and the priest retirement home.
Although the overall campaign was successful in reaching the $30 million goal in pledges, expenses associated with the fundraising campaign, along with uncollectible pledges and donor gifts that were designated for purposes other than the stated endowment goals, resulted in an endowment shortfall.
“The final endowment reached approximately 90 percent of the original goal, and therefore, the reduced pooled funds were allocated in relation to the originally stated campaign goals,” said Teresa Nunes, Finance Director of the Diocese of Bridgeport.
Investment losses experienced in fiscal year 2009 reduced the fair value of endowment investments below the original amount of endowment contributions. As a result, in accordance with the Faith in the Future distribution policy, no distributions have occurred from common donor endowments and one individual donor endowment since 2008. Although investments slowly increased in value since 2009, the majority of the principal endowment balances did not return to their original amount until June 2012.
Total investments at June 30, 2012 totaled approximately $16.7 million, with another $4.9 million owed to Faith in the Future Fund, Inc. from the diocese. Advances from Faith in the Future Fund, Inc. were made to the diocese in 2011 to support employee benefit insurance programs that a number of schools were unable to fund. An additional $2 million was advanced during fiscal 2013, but $5 million was repaid in August of 2013, bringing the balance due to $1.9 million. It is believed that this amount will be paid in full by fiscal 2015.
“Although the endowment campaign fell short of its goal and has experienced investment result challenges over the years, the overall objectives continue to be met. It is the hope that in the coming years, disbursements will grow and be able to serve future generations in a way that was envisioned by Bishop Egan in 1995,” Nunes said.
VATICAN CITY—Courageously follow Jesus in seeking out the poor and sinners, and in making difficult sacrifices in order to help and heal others, Pope Francis said.
Christians are called to confront the material, spiritual and moral destitution of "our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it," the pope said in his first message for Lent, which begins March 5 for Latin-rite Catholics. Saving the world will not come about "with the right kind of human resources" and token alms, but only "through the poverty of Christ," who emptied himself of the worldly and made the world rich with God's love and mercy, he said.
Released by the Vatican February 4, the text of the pope's message focused on the theme of Christ's poverty, with the title: "He became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich," which is from a verse from St. Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians.
Pope Francis said he chose the passage to explore what St. Paul's references to poverty and charity mean for Christians today.
There are many forms of poverty, he said, like the material destitution that disfigures the face of humanity and the moral destitution of being a slave to vice and sin.
But "there is only one real kind of poverty: not living as children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ," he said.
People experiencing the spiritual destitution of believing they don't need God and can make it on their own "are headed for a fall," the pope wrote. "God alone can truly save and free us."
"The Gospel is the real antidote to spiritual destitution," he said, and the greatest treasure of all is "boundless confidence in God" and the desire to always do his will.
All Christians are called "to proclaim the liberating news that forgiveness for sins committed is possible, that God is greater than our sinfulness, that he freely loves us at all times and that we were made for communion and eternal life."
Spreading the joy of the Gospel, consoling broken hearts and offering real hope means "following and imitating Jesus, who sought out the poor and sinners," and by opening up "new paths of evangelization and human promotion" with courage, he said.
Imitating Christ also includes confronting the abuses, discrimination and violations against human dignity, which often cause the material poverty suffered by those who lack the basic rights to food, water, work, development and "equal access to education and healthcare," he said.
Sometimes the unjust social conditions that rob people of their dignity lead to moral destitution -- a kind of "impending suicide," he said.
Think of how much pain is caused by people, especially the young, when they turn to alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography or other vices because they "no longer see meaning in life or prospects for the future," he said. "How many have lost hope!"
"By loving and serving the poor, we love and serve Christ," he said, but such service also entails conversion.
"When power, luxury and money become idols, they take priority over the need for a fair distribution of wealth. Our consciences thus need to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing," he said.
While Lent is a time for "self-denial," don't forget that real sacrifice and poverty have a "dimension of penance" and pain, he said.
"I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt," he said.
"God did not let our salvation drop down from heaven, like someone who gives alms from their abundance out of a sense of altruism and piety," the pope said.
God operates according to "the logic of love, the logic of incarnation and the cross"—to be with those who need him most, "to take upon himself the burden of our sins" and to comfort, save and free people from their misery.
"What gives true freedom, true salvation and true happiness is the compassion, tenderness and solidarity of his love, Christ's poverty, which enriches us," he said.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the office which handles the pope's charitable giving, presented the Lenten message at a Vatican news conference.
The cardinal said the pope's message reminds people that their "bourgeois consciences" cannot be put to rest merely by "denouncing the lack of resources for others" or denouncing the structural underpinnings of poverty.
The only way to truly help people is to care for all their needs—spiritual, material and moral—the cardinal said, and not "pretend to solve a person's problems just because one has solved the problems related to his physical and material wellbeing."
"I think the Holy Father does well to insist on these three types of poverty and destitution," the cardinal said.
"There's the destitution of material poverty that's easier to solve because it takes a bit of money and one can find ways to resolve this problem. But it's much more difficult to (address) moral and spiritual destitution," which is why Cor Unum and the church put added emphasis on that area.
The church urges people to choose the poverty of Christ in order to fight the misery and destitution in the world—not for ideological reasons, the cardinal said, "but for the love of Christ."
FEED THE NEED--Standing in front of the pod( left to right) Margie Wething, Erin Scheller, Julia Eustace, Bishop Caggiano, Lara Linsenmeyer, and Daniel McAleese
FAIRFIELD—Last weekend was a super Sunday in more ways than one with the “Souper Bowl of Caring” held at Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Fairfield.
The “Pack the Pod Food Drive” linked up with other drives held annually across the nation on the weekend of Super Bowl Sunday. A program where groups collect non-perishable food and monetary donations on behalf of food banks and other organizations that help feed those in need.
“At Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Fairfield, we like to take it up a notch,” says Lara Linsenmeyer, who coordinated the event. “Years ago we used a Partridge Family Van to encourage the community at large to fill the van with cans, which we did and then some. This year's idea for using a moving pod as another fun attraction to motivate parishioners and the community.”
Linsenmeyer said the idea of using a pod was on her mind for some time and she thought it might just draw enough interest to help fill up the empty shelves of local food banks. It was a tall order because the pod was 18' x 7'.
“We collected a huge amount food on behalf of St Stephen's Food Pantry at Merton Center in Bridgeport and Operation Hope Food Pantry in Fairfield. Their needs are great as the demand for assistance grows, serving triple the amount of people they typically do,” she said.
A surprise visit by Bishop Frank Caggiano also cheered organizers and volunteers including young people who are preparing for Confirmation.
“The confirmation students who stood outside collecting food from donors, sorting them into boxes and packing them into the pod felt honored that the Bishop took the time to come see their work in progress,” she said.
Linsenmeyer said it was a great food drive and the confirmation students and adults learned that there is always more that can be done to help our bothers and sisters in need.
“It takes a community to band together and chip away at it day in and day out as our food pantry representatives know all too well when they show up to work everyday,” she said.
NEW CANAAN—The Bishop walked into a standing ovation by 350 teens who had set aside a Saturday afternoon to meet him and share their thoughts and feelings about the Church at St. Aloysius Parish.
The afternoon of prayer, adoration and dialogue, held in the gym of St. Aloysius School, was sponsored by the Pastoral Services ministry of the Diocese of Bridgeport and drew teens from many parishes across the diocese.
Bishop Frank J. Caggiano asked the kids what they liked about the Church, what they didn’t like, and also left them with a homework assignment: to tell him what they would change about the Church the next time the next time they meet with him
Conducting the afternoon in “town meeting” style, the Bishop fielded questions about gay marriage, the new liturgy, the definition of love-- and why older people don’t slide further back in the pews to make room for people who come in after them.
With microphone in hand the Bishop worked the center aisles and handed it off to the young people so everyone could hear their questions.
They told him that the Church was a refuge from a lot of what is bad in the world, but it also took courage to go because so many others had no use for religion or prayer.
They worried about the growing number of young people who don’t go to Church and what it means for the future of the faith.
“I have no intention to see our Church keep declining in numbers,” the Bishop reassured the kids. “To be a disciple of Jesus is meant to be joyful. We will do this together.”
The teens were surprised to learn that Bishop Caggiano resisted his own vocation for years, even though he had always thought of being a priest.
“I wanted to be a lawyer and then I thought it would be nice to be mayor of New York… Mayor Caggiano,” he said as the kids laughed, “That sounds good to me.”
“I had many goals and things I thought I should do,” but they didn’t make him happy. “Then I came to the realization that God loved me more than I could ever love myself.”
“Is it true you dropped out of Yale?” one boy asked.
The Bishop answered that he broke his father’s heart the year he left Yale to finally enter the seminary.
“My father was a longshoreman with a third grade education and he thought I ruined my life,” the Bishop said, adding that his father also wept with joy on the day of his ordination because he knew how happy his son was.
“I’ve been 26 years a priest and eight years a bishop and that has given me more happiness than I deserve in this life because I was smart enough to let God in,” he told the teens. “You should ask him what it is he wants you to do with your life.”
During the meeting the Bishop confessed to not being a very good stickball player as a young man, but a great Mets fan.
When asked about his favorite saint, the Bishop said his favorite saint as a boy was St. Francis of Assisi because of his humility, honesty and love for the poor.
“Now that I’m older, Mary, the Mother of God is my favorite because every time the Church is in need or reform and revival, our Blessed Lady always opens the door that leads to Jesus,” the Bishop said.
When the teens expressed enthusiasm for Pope Francis, the Bishop said that Francis is one of his heroes “because of his courage. He is afraid of nothing and speaks the truth. The other lesson the Holy Father taught me is that if I don’t live what I preach, then the words don’t mean anything.”
The Bishop ended the meeting by telling the young people that their joy, energy and enthusiasm are “a great gift to give to the Church.”
“There’s a big difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus. You’re here because you know Jesus. He invites us to break out and put our faith into action,” the Bishop said. “That’s what we’re all about.”
DENVER—Next to the ocean of God's mercy, your sin is a pebble. He died to free you from it. Let Him. Click here for video
BRIDGEPORT—Each New Year, we find our hearts are filled with gratitude and hope.
When we reflect upon the events that marked the year that just ended, we cannot help but give thanks to the Lord for all the blessings, graces and joys that He has given us and our families. For myself, I am deeply grateful to the Lord Jesus for His merciful love and His deep and abiding presence in our lives.
I am also grateful to all of you for your kindness and gracious welcome as I began my ministry as your shepherd. It has been an exciting and challenging three months for me, learning as much as I can about our diverse and complex diocese while at the same time striving to open my heart to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. For if each of us learns to discern and follow the will of God, our lives will know peace and our work will bear great fruit.
The New Year is also a hopeful time because the Lord gives us new opportunities to address the challenges we face both personally and as a diocese with confidence. Some of those challenges are not new: Too many young people no longer find a spiritual home in our Church. Far too many baptized Catholics have become indifferent to their faith and see no need to worship with us on Sundays. Many families are hurting and seek healing.
Many Catholics long to learn more about their faith and do not know where to turn. Too many of our sisters and brothers know much about the Lord Jesus but do not know him personally as Lord and Savior. What they seek is a personal encounter with Christ, but often they do not know that they can best find Him in the community of the Church.
Likewise, modern communication has created great opportunities and risks in our lives. While social media has given us unprecedented access to friends and family around the world, its unbridled use can also create great isolation, loneliness, and detachment, especially among young people whose lives are being radically transformed by the very technology that was meant to help them.
Finally, the diocese and many of its institutions face growing financial challenges. As a result, we must tailor our programs to meet the needs of our mission and ministry—a task that is not easy and always causes fear and anxieties.
It is, indeed, a long list of challenges. However, we must not fear! I have every confidence that the Lord will grant us the grace, knowledge, strength and courage to meet these challenges and find new, innovative and exciting ways to foster His mission and Church in the world.
However, in order to move forward, leaders on every level of the Church’s life must work together in a true spirit of dialogue and collaboration. Clergy, religious and laity must discern together the pressing issues that we face. We must prayerfully seek to understand what each of these challenges mean, identify creative ways by which we can address them and seek the courage to do what the Lord will ask of us. It is a task for which I now ask your help and support.
More specifically, it is my plan to convoke the Fourth Synod of the Diocese of Bridgeport to begin in the fall of 2014, so that all God’s people in Fairfield County can seek the Lord’s grace to foster the long-term spiritual and pastoral renewal of our diocese. Historically the Synod process convenes “the Christian faithful of a particular church who offer assistance to the diocesan bishop for the good of the whole diocesan community” (canon 460).
By means of the Synod, we will have the opportunity through prayer and study to develop a pastoral plan for the diocese. The last such Synod was held in 1981, and much has changed in the 32 years since. For this reason, I believe that the time has come to gather as a diocesan family and work together to meet the challenges we face in our own time.
In the weeks ahead, you will receive much more information regarding the nature, work and structure of the Synod. For now, because of its importance as the start of a new chapter in the life of our diocese, I ask that you pray each day that our Lord will guide all who will organize and prepare for its start. May the Synod bear great fruit to the honor and glory of our Lord and deepen our love and service of one another.
Please be assured of my daily prayers for you and your family. May this New Year bring blessings, renewal and hope to all.
FAIRFIELD—Fairfield College Preparatory School will begin construction of a Student Life Center.
The Center will serve as a crossroads for important campus activities. This state-of-the-art, technology-enriched, multi-purpose facility will feature a number of specialized, but functionally related spaces. The Center will foster a synergy between the academic and co-curricular lives of the school by providing students the opportunity to meet, to interact, to explore, and to cultivate their interests outside of the classroom. The facility will include an enhanced dining area to accommodate 500 students and other school sponsored functions; an assembly area for formal and informal meetings; and office space to support various student-based programs such as Campus Ministry, the SEED Diversity Program, and Community Service. The project is to commence in the spring of 2014 and be completed in the fall of 2015.
DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT—Our 38 Catholic Schools educate 11,000 children from birth and pre-K through grade 12.98% of our graduates pursue higher education.
40% of our schools have received the National Blue Ribbon of Excellence. Standardized test results show our elementary students consistently exceeding national reading averages in math and reading. Our Catholic schools offer parents the greatest return on their investment in education—exceptional academics and a solid moral foundation in values and respect.
Come see us for yourself!
DARIEN—“If you take a tour of the diocese—help make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at St. Catherine Academy, volunteer at the Merton Center, drop in at the Shehan Center—you’ll see how the money from the Bishop’s Appeal is being spent, and spent wisely,” says Cece Donoghue, lay co-chair with her husband, Mike, of the 2014 Annual Bishop’s Appeal.
“We are thrilled that Cece and Mike Donoghue have agreed to serve as our chair couple this year,” says Chief Development Officer William McLean, Jr.
“We deeply appreciate their willingness to take an important leadership role, which will help assure that the Annual Bishop’s Appeal is a success.”
The Donoghues, members of St. John Parish in Darien and the parents of five children, can point to a family history of faith. Cece’s brother is a Jesuit priest, and she grew up having two uncles who are priests. Mike enjoyed a strong Catholic school background before attending Dartmouth College and getting his MBA from Harvard.
Their three older children all chose to attend Jesuit universities. Two younger ones still live at home.
Both come from large families. Cece grew up in Pittsburgh, the sixth of seven kids. Mike comes from Worcester, MA, where he was the second in a family of five children. They met in Manhattan, where both had come for work.
Working as an executive search consultant, Cece called Morgan Stanley with a business question. “Mike picked up,” she recalls. “We discovered we had the same last name, with the same traditional Irish spelling, and agreed we should meet for lunch on a blind date.”
Mike picks up the tale: “Our first real date was on St. Patrick’s Day. Three years later, on St. Patrick’s Day, we got married.”
“I’m a Donoghue who’s married to a Donoghue,” Cece says with a laugh.
Mike is currently president and partner of Phoenix Investment Adviser, LLC in Manhattan.
From the start, the couple was active in their local parish wherever they lived. They have served as catechists, and Cece was a member of the parish council. The activities of five growing children, though, limited their involvement.
“At some point, we felt that our faith needed something more,” Cece recalls. The couple responded to a suggestion from friends that they consider joining the Order of Malta.
Their own guided tour of the diocese, taken as part of the Malta year of preparation, was a revelation. “It opened our eyes about what the diocese actually does, particularly for the less fortunate.”
“A tour like this brings you out of the focus on your own parish,” says Cece. “So many people think the diocese ends at the last step of their parish church.”
Of all the ministries they experienced, the students at St. Catherine Academy in Fairfield, the only Catholic school in Connecticut for children with special needs, claimed first place in their hearts. Both of them have since served on St. Catherine’s board.
“Every third Friday is “PB&J Friday,” Mike explains. “Some of the students work together and make an assembly line. Maybe one kid will spoon out the peanut butter and spread it, another spreads the jelly, and another puts the slices of bread together. They make 300 sandwiches for the clients of the Thomas Merton Center. The St. Catherine students are so appreciative— they know that most of the time they’re on the receiving end, and it means a lot when they can be the givers.”
Retired priests claim another part of their generous hearts. “My mother’s brother would come to our house every weekend,” says Cece. “He’d sit down and the kids would swarm all over him. He came from a big family, so there were always lots of family members around to give him support.”
Many priests are not so lucky. “They sacrifice so much for us,” Cece adds. “Being a priest can be very lonely. So much is expected of them—people are always coming with their troubles and hardships. After retirement comes, they don’t always have families close by. We have to provide for them.”
The diocese currently has 56 retired priests, with 18 living at the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy Residence. Many of them continue to assist with weekend Masses at local parishes.
As parents of teenagers, the couple are deeply appreciative of Bishop Caggiano’s emphasis on outreach to the youth. “If we lose them, we lose the Church,” Mike says.
They have high praise for the youth group at St. John’s. “You have to make youth activities a mix of fun and service,” says Mike. Sometimes kids in a town like this can grow up in a bubble. The youth group experience opens their eyes and at the same time, service builds community.”
The older Donoghue children had a chance to meet Bishop Caggiano at a social event sponsored by the Order of Malta for young adults in college and who have recently graduated. After spending some time with him, their college freshman, Mara, when asked how the evening went responded, “Mom, the Bish’ is chill!”
No higher praise exists for a teen.
Youth, priests newly-ordained or gently older, religious education, Catholic schools, assistance to the sick and needy—the Annual Bishop’s Appeal supports all of these and more.
“When we ask for support for the Appeal, we should also invite people to get involved with the ministries of the Church,” say Cece and Mike. “The more they experience the great things the diocese is doing, the more they’ll understand the goals of the Appeal. They’ll get turned on. We consider it a privilege to help in the Appeal, and they will, too.”
Young people hold signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court during
the March for Life in Washington January 22. Thousands took part
in the annual event, which this year marked the 41st anniversary
of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the nation.
WASHINGTON—The polar vortex couldn't chill the ardor of thousands of participants who demonstrated their determination to continue speaking out against abortion at the annual March for Life and rally January 22 in Washington.
Temperatures went briefly into double digits but hovered around 8 degrees.
At the rally, speakers highlighted the tenacious determination of the crowd—dressed in coats, scarves, hats and gloves—huddled together on the snow-covered National Mall. They likened the crowd's bravery to the firm resolve they have shown in their efforts to change abortion laws and promote a culture of life in the U.S.
The rally began at noon, prior to the crowd's march to the U.S. Supreme Court to protest the court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, and it had a different feel this year, not simply because of the cold but in the variety of speakers.
Only three members of Congress addressed the crowd, instead of several, although a handful stood on the mall's stage. No Catholic leaders addressed the crowd either, but Catholic bishops joined Orthodox leaders for the rally's opening prayer given by Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios.
Under a blue and sunny sky, Christian singer and songwriter Matt Maher attempted to warm up the crowd while playing a guitar with fingerless gloves. "We're all really cold," he acknowledged, adding that the reason they had gathered was to "demonstrate to the world how much we need God."
Patrick Kelly, chairman of the March for Life, told the crowd filled with young people that they were "freezing for the best cause in the world." Jeanne Monahan, March for Life president, thanked the crowd for "braving the extreme elements today."
"No sacrifice is too great for this cause," she added.
A few times during the hourlong rally, she also advised participants suffering in the cold to visit one of the first-aid warming tents.
Kelly and Monahan stressed a new aspect of this year's march: tweeting about it with the hashtag #marchforlife or #whywemarch. Marchers cheered as Monahan read a tweet from Pope Francis: "I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable." She urged the crowd to retweet his message.
The theme of this year's march was "Adoption: A Noble Decision."
"When a woman makes a choice to be a birth mother, she embraces motherhood in its most heroic sense," said Monahan, who also offered support for women who have not chosen life in the past. "For any woman who has had an abortion, you have to know there is hope and healing."
In his remarks, Kelly noted that the March for Life has a new staff, logo and website and also aims to have a vital social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The goal, he said, is not just for participants to be here once a year but to be in touch with one another "365 days a year to build culture of life in America."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia said the marchers' endurance not only gives "voice to the cause of protecting life" but also shows that they are the "strongest weapon" of the pro-life movement. He said he was confident pro-lifers would win the culture war, because the right to life "is a moral truth written at the hands of our Creator."
Last year, the House passed the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and Cantor cited it as an example of changing public opinion on abortion. He exhorted the rally-goers to continue the battle. "We cannot allow the opponents of life to weaken the moral fabric of this country."
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., criticized President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act "for its insurance plans that include abortion," but he also stressed that "the pro-life movement is alive and well and making serious, significant and sustained progress."
"In the last three years alone, a record 200 pro-life laws have been enacted in the states," he noted. "By the grace of God—and because of you, your prayers and hard work—we are winning."
He also echoed a theme of the day, telling youths in the crowd: "Never quit or grow discouraged, your generation will end abortion."
The Rev. James Dobson, an evangelical Christian leader and founder of Focus on the Family, said, "Young people, you are the future of the pro-life movement. We will win this fight."
Rep. Vicki Hartzler, R-Mo., encouraged leaders to support alternatives to abortion. "Or society must stop upholding abortion and start encouraging adoption."
That message resonated with Nicole Peck, president of Silent No More.
Speaking about her abortion, Peck said, "They took my money, my baby, and my self-respect." She even lost her opportunity to experience childbirth: "I would never conceive another child."
Nicole and her husband later adopted two children. "Their mothers are our heroes."
Many of the freezing marchers had traveled for days to get to Washington.
Jennifer Camilleri, a freshman at Franciscan University at Steubenville, Ohio, came with hundreds of students from her university. She said that she believed that the Holy Spirit was working through people to encourage them to support life.
Monica Stephens, a 17-year-old student from Kansas, came with her parish ministry group. When asked why she came, Stephens told Catholic News Service: "You have to stand up to help the babies. Apparently, it won't happen by itself."
WASHINGTON—On January 22, tens of thousands of people from around the country will travel to Washington to be part of this year’s annual March for Life in the nation’s capital.
BRIDGEPORT—Kolbe Cathedral High School finalist Amber Romero (seated second from left) will compete in the statewide finals sponsored by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.
Amber’s business plan, introduced at the recent NFTE conference, features an on-line thrift store.
The Entrepreneur class is fully funded and sponsored by NFTE and networks students with business professionals. (Standing in back row).
On January 10, Babson College, the world leader in collegiate entrepreneurship education, hosted NFTE New England’s 8th Annual Youth Entrepreneurship Conference. With unemployment at an all time high and no signs of it getting better, NFTE New England has been part of the solution. It has served over 12,000 students from low income communities, helping them think and act like entrepreneurs.
The event brought together nearly 450 NFTE students, alumni, teachers, volunteers and panelists for a day chock full of breakout sessions focusing on personal finance, college admissions and financial aid, presentation skills, and defining your entrepreneurial dream and passion.
Students had the opportunity to participate in a hack-a-thon, listen to a panel of successful NFTE alumni and receive individualized business plan coaching from over a dozen community volunteers. 88 students entered our 2nd annual One Minute to Pitch It competition with winners chosen by fellow NFTE students through a text-to-vote process.
The day ended with a motivational keynote speech by NFTE alum Rodney Walker, the star of the film TEN9EIGHT. Throughout the day students received raffle tickets for engaging in the sessions, with the grand prize being an Xbox One, courtesy of our partners at Microsoft.
Sacred Heart Academy students Mitali Bandyopadhyay and Sibani Sengupta
HAMDEN—Each year, one sophomore is chosen by the Social Studies Department to represent Sacred Heart at the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) Seminar and one sophomore is chosen as alternate, based on 100 word essays on leadership.
The Social Studies Department has announced this year’s selection is Mitali Bandyopadhyay and Sibani Sengupta.
Founded in 1958, HOBY’s mission is to inspire and develop our global community of youth to a life dedicated to leadership, service, and innovation. HOBY seminars are conducted annually throughout the United States, serving local and international high school students. These seminars provide students, selected by their schools, to participate in unique leadership training, service-learning, and motivation-building experiences. The HOBY Seminar is the only program exclusively designed for high school sophomores and Ms. Bandyopadhyay and Ms. Sengupta will represent Sacred Heart Academy at the conference in May.
Social Studies courses at Sacred Heart provide a broad knowledge of the past, a sense of historical context and skills in the critical process of gathering, gathering, analyzing and interpreting historical information. Elective courses include AP Psychology, AP US Government, Economics, and AP US History.
Sacred Heart Academy, a Catholic college preparatory school founded in l946 by the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, successfully prepares young women, grades 9 –12 for learning, service and achievement in a global society. The Academy currently has an enrollment of 500 students who hail from New Haven, Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex and New London counties.
STAMFORD—Holy Spirit School students were excited by Bishop Frank Caggiano’s visit to the school on January 10.
Students from all grades were intrigued as they asked the bishop a vast range of questions, from “What is it like to be the bishop?”, “How did you know you wanted to become a priest”, to our PK students who wanted to know “Do you listen to your Mommy and Daddy?”
The children were delighted by the Bishop’s hands-on-approach, taking a special interest in their STEM projects, religious education lessons and asking them about their daily work.
Bishop Caggiano was accompanied by Sr. Mary Grace Walsh, superintendent of schools at Diocese of Bridgeport; Msgr. Kevin Royal, Holy Spirit’s pastor; and Deacon Paul Jennings of Holy Spirit. Hosted by Dina Monti, Holy Spirit principal, and all the staff at Holy Spirit School. It was a blessed and exciting event for all.
WASHINGTON—For the second year in a row, the U.S. Catholic bishops are sponsoring "Nine Days for Life: Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage," planned for January 18-26, as part of several events marking the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the U.S.
"Since that tragic decision, more than 55 million children's lives have been lost to abortion, and many suffer that loss—often in silence," says a posting on http://www.9daysforlife.com
EWTN’s Coverage of the 'March For Life' Goes ‘Full Circle’—the first and only television network to air complete live coverage of the March for Life, announces dramatically expanded coverage.
Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said in a recent letter to his fellow bishops that response to last year's nine-day observance prompted this year's event to again "pray for the healing and conversion of our national and people impacted by the culture of death."
The 9daysforlife website offers participants several ways to sign up to receive directly a daily simple novena with different intercessions, brief reflections and suggested acts of reparation via email or text message or by using an app for smartphones.
Several resources for prayer and activities—as well as the full reflections for each of the nine days—are available online in the "Pro-Life Activities" section of the U.S. bishops' website.
On January 22, the anniversary of the 1973 Roe decision, the National Mall in Washington will once again be site of the annual March for Life. Thousands of pro-lifers are expected to descend on the nation's capital for the rally and march to the Supreme Court.
The March for Life—which has adoption as its theme this year—will be held January 22 on the National Mall in Washington. A pre-rally event with live music beginning at 11:30 am will be followed by a noon rally. The march begins immediately afterward, with participants walking from the Mall to Constitution Avenue and ending up at the U.S. Supreme Court.
On the eve of the annual march, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities and The Catholic University of America's Office of Campus Ministry will sponsor the annual National Prayer Vigil for Life at the national shrine.
It will open January 21 with a 6:30 pm Mass to be celebrated in the Washington shrine's Great Upper Church. O'Malley will be the principal celebrant and homilist.
The vigil will continue in the shrine's Crypt Church with the National Rosary for Life at 10 pm, followed by night prayer at 11 pm. The vigil continues overnight in the Crypt Church, with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Hours every hour on the hour starting at midnight and continuing through 6 am.
After morning prayer, Benediction and reposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 6:30 am, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput will be the celebrant and homilist at the vigil's closing Mass at 7:30 am. Mass in the national shrine's Great Upper Church.
Last year, more than 20,000 pro-life pilgrims attended the vigil.
Across the country, three days after the Washington events, more than 50,000 people are expected to gather January 25 for the 10th annual Walk for Life West Coast.
"The pro-life spirit is truly alive in San Francisco and the Walk for Life West Coast continues to be a wonderful way for those who care about women and their babies, born and unborn, to show that life is the only choice," Eva Muntean, the event's co-chair, told Catholic San Francisco, the archdiocesan newspaper.
The crowd will gather at Civic Center Plaza for a 12:30 pm rally, then walk down Market Street starting at 1:30 pm The event will conclude with a celebration at Justin Herman Plaza near the Ferry Building.
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone will deliver the invocation for the walk at Civic Center Plaza. He has invited the priests and people of all the parishes and schools of the archdiocese to attend.
"The growth and enthusiasm surrounding the walk proves that our pro-life message continues to resonate with the culture to fill the void secular society creates when it excludes God, virtue and an understanding of the profound dignity of human life," Cordileone wrote in his letters to pastors, priests, Catholic school teachers and students in the San Francisco Archdiocese.
The archbishop also will celebrate a 9:30 am Walk for Life West Coast Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral.
"People, especially our young people, are more and more receptive to the message that abortion hurts women, men and families. They understand that it is inherently unfair to generations of their peers who never had the opportunity to experience life. This is why turnout by our students and young people continues to rise," the archbishop wrote.
Click here for schedule
BALTIMORE—There is "great misunderstanding" among Catholics and others about the church's teachings on whether and when life-sustaining medical treatment can be withdrawn when death is near, according to a leading Catholic bioethicist.
Marie T. Hilliard, director of bioethics and public policy and a staff ethicist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, said the Philadelphia-based center conducts about 2,000 consultations a year with "families in distress" who want to talk with an ethicist "about the church's teaching in light of their (family) situation."
Staff members hear from people who believe that "dialysis can never be discontinued," for example, or that a feeding tube is obligatory "even when it is doing more harm than good," she said.
"Persons who are dealing with crises need to be helped to understand in that situation what is the natural moral law," Hilliard said. "The church always deals with the good and trying to reach the good," even when that means accepting the natural process of dying, she added.
As outlined in the U.S. bishops' "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services," the church teaches that patients "may forgo extraordinary or disproportionate means of preserving life," defined as "those that in the patient's judgment do not offer a reasonable hope of benefit or entail an excessive burden, or impose excessive expense on the family or the community."
Survey results recently released by the Pew Research Religion & Public Life Project found that 57 percent of Americans would tell their doctors to stop medical treatment if they had a disease with no hope of improvement and were suffering a great deal of pain, while 35 percent said they would tell the doctors to do everything possible to save their lives. Eight percent said it depends or they did not know.
But opinions varied greatly according to religion and ethnic group. Nearly two-thirds of white Catholics (65 percent) said they would stop medical treatment under those circumstances, but only 38 percent of Hispanic Catholics agreed. Most likely to stop medical treatment were white mainline Protestants (72 percent); black Protestants were least likely at 32 percent.
The margin of error for the Pew survey was plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.
The survey also found that only 37 percent of adult Americans had given "a great deal of thought" to their own wishes for end-of-life medical treatment, while 35 percent had given "some thought" and 27 percent had given "not very much" or no thought to the matter.
Even among those 75 and older, only 47 percent said they had given their end-of-life wishes a great deal of thought, while more than half said they'd given some, little or no thought to those decisions.
Hilliard said the recent attention given to the cases of Jahi McMath, a 13-year-old girl from Oakland, Calif., who has been declared brain dead but remains on life support at an undisclosed location, and Marlise Munoz, a 33-year-old pregnant woman who is being kept on life support against her family's wishes, point up the importance of every person having "a good conversation" with a family member or friend about his or her wishes in a medical crisis.
A simple checklist of possible medical scenarios is no substitute for the designation of a health care proxy and a thorough discussion of one's beliefs with that person, she added.
"Because, as we ethicists often say, when you've seen one case, you've seen one case," Hilliard said.
Group: Isabella Rodgers, Gianna Eisele, Gregory Rodgers, Moira Murphy, Isabelle Montoya, Alexis Keane, and Christopher Lund and their parents and catechists. Photo by Lisa Cascone
NEWTOWN—200 first graders at St. Rose of Lima in Newtown, Connecticut received their very first bible in special small prayer sessions attended by parents and led by Pam Arsenault, the Director of Religious Education.
"This BibleTalks" by Pamela Fisher is a gift from The Servants of the Father of Mercy and Our Sunday Visitor.
The grant was written by Brother Gary Joseph of the Servants of the Father of Mercy. Many thanks to him and The Grant Director at Our Sunday Visitor, Jerry Kearns for this generous gift. The children were delighted as they listened to their personal bible narrate a familiar bible story.
MONROE—St. Jude School celebrated its first ever designation as a Blue Ribbon School, a national award recognizing academic excellence and just what makes a school special.
On Thursday, the building was decked out in blue, all of the students and Principal Patricia Griffin donned the color and there was even a table in the gymnasium covered with blue ribbon cupcakes.
The entire school community gathered in the gym for a ceremony with special guests, including Bishop Frank J. Caggiano; Sister Mary Grace Walsh, Superintendent of Schools of the Diocese of Bridgeport; The Rev. Msgr. John Sabia and Michelle Turbak, Edith Wheeler Memorial Library's children's librarian.
"It is about work ethic and applying ourselves every single day we're in school," Griffin said from the podium.
Now that St. Jude School earned the prestigious Blue Ribbon designation, Griffin told her students they must work hard to keep it.
"You can't get lazy," she said. "You can't stop doing your homework. You have to stay focused and on your game at all times."
As a Catholic school, Griffin said St. Jude's students strive for academic excellence with a belief in Jesus Christ, while practicing their faith with a commitment to their community.
Olivia, one of the students who spoke, said, "There are a lot of good things about St. Jude. If you asked me to list them, I don't have enough paper or time."
A slideshow of photos from the past year was set to music, then special recognition was given to students and teachers.
Bishop Caggiano said, "I am very impressed and proud to be with all of you. You are a wonderful school community."
The bishop noted how respectful the children were in the classrooms he had visited and their "willingness to continue to learn and follow Jesus."
"We are not a private school. We are not a public school. We are a Catholic school, which means Jesus is here with us every day," he said. "Treat each other with respect and love."
Bishop Caggiano asked students if they could open the door to their hearts and they answered with a resounding yes.
"Then you are going to have the best school you could have," he said. "And this school is going to be a Blue Ribbon School forever."
BRIDGEPORT—Bridgeport shelters, soup kitchens and other organizations are seeing higher demand from low-income residents as temperatures drop.
Officials at Action for Bridgeport Community Development, or ABCD, say they received hundreds of phone calls Tuesday from Bridgeport residents looking for help to pay their heating bill.
Officials at the Thomas Merton Center say they've extended their hours for the winter so that people can have a warm place to stay during the day.
Residents in southwestern Connecticut in need of heating assistance are urged to call 211 to speak with a representative from the United Way.
Thomas Melady gestures during a symposium at The Catholic University
of America in Washington May 28, 2009. Looking on is Jim Nicholson,
who also is a former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, and Nicholas Burns,
a former high ranking State Department official. (CNS file photo)
WASHINGTON—Former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Thomas P. Melady, who served in several diplomatic posts and continued to play a role as "citizen-scholar" long past the age when most people would have retired, died January 6. He was 86.
Melady died at his Washington home of a brain tumor, which doctors only recently diagnosed.
Melady was an ambassador under three presidents: to Burundi (1969) and Uganda (1972) under President Richard Nixon, and then as the ambassador to the Holy See under President George H.W. Bush (1989) and in the first year of the administration of President Bill Clinton. Melady left the post in early 1993. He also was named by Nixon as senior adviser to the U.S. delegation to the U.N. General Assembly.
He was remembered by one of his successors to the Holy See post as "a perpetual ambassador."
University of Dayton professor Miguel Diaz, who was ambassador from 2009 to 2012, told Catholic News Service that Melady was the first former ambassador to reach out to him when Diaz was nominated and that he continued to be a welcome adviser and mentor.
"Once my nomination was made public, he immediately took me out to lunch and we had a tete-a-tete on Vatican diplomacy," Diaz said, with Melady offering helpful advice about what challenges Diaz might face.
Across differences of political party and generation, "it grew into a collegial friendship," Diaz said.
In the very small group of former U.S. ambassadors to the Holy See, Melady "was the leader of the club," said Diaz. He observed that despite their activism with different political parties—Diaz with the Democrats and Melady with the Republicans -- the two wound up as co-signatories of an assortment of letters and statements on public policy.
Melady's death is "truly a loss, not just for the Melady family but for all of us, Diaz said. "We don't have many people like him left."
In addition to his ambassadorial posts, Melady was a prolific writer, with 17 books, including "Profiles of African Leaders, Idi Amin Dada: Hitler in Africa," "The Ambassador's Story" and "Ten African Heroes," and more than 180 articles to his credit. He most recently had been senior diplomat in residence and a professor at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, teaching a course on the art of diplomacy; mentoring students and helping develop the institute's policy and philanthropic circles, said a post on the organization's website.
"Tom was the epitome of the citizen-scholar and diplomat, dedicated to serving his country and the cause of peace in the world," said a comment from John Lenczowski, founder and president of the institute. "He exposed our students to a rare diplomatic professionalism that was perfect for our students' study of this critical art of statecraft."
Besides his expertise in diplomacy and politics, Melady wrote and taught on Afro-Asian and Central European issues.
The institute post observed that Melady's service at the Vatican came at a pivotal point, when the Soviet Union was collapsing and Pope John Paul II was playing a role in reshaping Eastern Europe.
"He was such a great soul," said Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute on Policy Research and Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America, who counted Melady as a friend.
"In Washington he was about the only person I know who could truly and easily speak to people on both sides of the (political) aisle," Schneck told CNS. "And he was a great friend to the church."
"To a whole generation of us he was a mentor and exceedingly generous," Schneck added. "He would take people like me under his wing and talk about things like the realities of government service. The same with education. He would often work with young scholars and try to prepare them for their work in education."
In 2010, the university's institute awarded Melady the Bishop John Joseph Keane Medallion for lifetime service to church, country and academia. A statement from Schneck called Melady "a brilliant scholar, a renowned diplomat, a distinguished educator, a compassionate Catholic leader, a generous confidant to bishops and presidents, professors and politicians."
New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said in an email forwarded to CNS: "I'll miss Tom as a friend, a teacher, and a statesman."
Cardinal Dolan said that as ambassador to the Holy See, "Tom perceptively appreciated both America's global duties and the Vatican's moral and supernatural influence. We'll miss his wisdom and his unfailingly insightful read on international affairs."
Melady was born March 4, 1927, in Norwich, CT, and served in the U.S. Army at the close of World War II. He earned degrees from Duquesne University and The Catholic University of America and taught at St. John's University. As an early proponent of African studies, he served from 1959 to 1967 as the president of the Africa Service Institute, which brought leaders of newly independent African nations to the United States. He was an adjunct professor at Fordham University from 1966 to 1969, when he began his diplomatic service.
He later went on to serve as chairman of Seton Hall University and as a consultant to the National Urban League. After his diplomatic service, he taught at George Washington University and was president of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT, from 1976 to 1986.
In a letter to the Sacred Heart University community on the school's website Jan. 7, President John J. Petillo said Melady's service came during a time of great change for the university, as it grew from "a start-up college to an acclaimed regional university."
"His vision played an important role in Sacred Heart becoming not only the nationally known university it is today, but also in our reputation as a special place where members of the community are treated with respect and dignity," Petillo said.
Melady is survived by his wife of 52 years, Margaret, with whom he co-wrote several books; daughters Christina Melady and Monica Melady Micklos; and seven grandchildren.
Among his many honors and awards, he was a Knight of Malta and recipient of the Grand Cross of the Order of Malta; was a recipient of the Order of Pius IX and the Order of St. Gregory the Great. He was the recipient of 30 honorary doctorates and was honored by the leaders of Senegal, Liberia, Cameroon, Madagascar and Croatia.
A funeral Mass with Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl presiding was scheduled for January 13 at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. Sacred Heart University scheduled a memorial Mass for the following day.
BRIDGEPORT—The Diocese of Bridgeport has released the Disaggregated Condensed Combined Financial Statements for the eighteen Months Ended December 31, 2009 as part of the overall Stewardship Report issued in December.
Bishop Caggiano described the release of the Stewardship Report “as a necessary first step in building the future of our Diocese in service of the Lord.”
It included a summary of diocesan ministries as well as a picture of the current financial position of the Diocese of Bridgeport.
The earlier report, printed in the December issue of Fairfield County Catholic and made available on line included financial statements and commentary for fiscal years 2010, 2011 and 2012 for the Bridgeport Roman Catholic Diocesan Corporation.
The 2009 audit was not included in the initial report because it reflects an 18- month audit, as the result of a change in the Diocesan fiscal year at that time from June 30th to December 31st. The change was made to provide greater control over diocesan financial activities and to line up the Annual Appeal—the major source of revenue for diocesan ministries--with the first half of the fiscal year,
As a result, the 2009 report does not lend itself to a comparative presentation to either the 12-month period before or after it. Thus, this commentary is presented as a stand-alone discussion on the eighteen-month period.
“As we know, the past five years have seen great change and presented significant challenges in our country's broader financial markets. The Diocese has also experienced similar change and challenges, as outlined in our financial statement, “ Bishop Caggiano said, adding that he’s optimistic about the future of the Diocese.
“My vision for the future of the Diocese of Bridgeport is one of a growing and vibrant Church that welcomes everyone who seeks to deepen their relationship with the Lord Jesus within our Catholic community of faith."
The final piece of the Stewardship Report is a full accounting of the Diocesan endowment fund, Faith in the Future. It will be issued at the end of January.
Click to read the 2009 Financial Summary and Statements
Men dressed as the Three Kings ride on horses in an Epiphany parade
in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican January 6. (CNS/Paul Haring)
VATICAN CITY—Christians should go out into the world to follow God but use "holy cunning" to guard against the snares of temptation, Pope Francis said.
The pope made the remarks at a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica January 6 on the feast of the Epiphany, which marks the manifestation of Jesus as savior to the world.
In his homily, the pope said that life is a journey, and like the three Wise Men, or Magi, people are looking for the "fullness of truth and of love which we Christians recognize in Jesus, the light of the world."
Jesus is found by reading the world of God's creation and the sacred Scripture, which nourishes the soul and "enables us to encounter the living Jesus, to experience him and his love," the pope said.
On life's journey, we need to be "attentive, alert and listen to God who speaks to us," and be prepared when we encounter "darkness, suspicion, fear and jealousy."
This happened to the Magi when they briefly lost sight of the star to Bethlehem and passed through Jerusalem where they encountered King Herod, who was "distrustful and preoccupied with the birth of a frail child whom he thought of as a rival," the pope said.
Jesus wasn't interested in usurping the king, "a wretched puppet," the pope said, but in overthrowing the devil.
Nonetheless, the king and his counselors felt threatened and feared "a whole world built on power, on success, on possession, on corruption was being thrown into crisis by a child," the pope said.
"The Magi were able to overcome that dangerous moment of darkness before Herod, because they believed in the Scriptures," and believed the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, he said.
They were able to flee the darkness and resume their journey toward God because of a "holy cunning, that is, a spiritual shrewdness which enables us to recognize danger and to avoid it."
Pope Francis said Jesus' instruction to his disciples to "be wise as serpents and innocent as doves" means Christians must welcome God into their hearts and "cultivate that spiritual cunning which is able to combine simplicity with astuteness."
The Magi "teach us how not to fall into the snares of darkness and how to defend ourselves from the shadows which seek to envelop our life," the pope said.
Like the Magi, we need to "safeguard the faith with holy cunning, guard it from that darkness which, many times, is also disguised as light," he said.
"Shield it from the song of the Sirens," who seek to distract us from taking the right path, guarding one's faith "with prayer, with love, with charity."
The Magi also teach us "not to be content with a life of mediocrity, of playing it safe, but to let ourselves be attracted always by what is good, true and beautiful—by God," he said.
Look to the heavens as they did, aim high and "follow the great desires of our heart" while also being wise to the deception of appearances, by what the "world considers great, wise and powerful."
"We must not be content with appearances," but press on, past the darkness and worldly temptations, to the periphery, to Bethlehem, to find the true light and king of the universe, the pope said.
After the Mass, tens of thousands of people streamed to St. Peter's Square to listen to the pope's noon prayer and to visit the Vatican's Nativity scene.
Like the star that appeared in the night sky over Bethlehem, God is the first to appear and signal to the world his presence, the pope said.
God is always the first to take the initiative—he is the one who invites and then patiently waits.
"The Lord calls you, the Lord looks for you, the Lord waits for you," the pope said. "The Lord doesn't proselytize. He gives love and this love looks for you and waits for you, you! Even if right now you don't believe or you are far" from God.
The pope noted Jan. 6 marked World Day of Missionary Childhood, and he praised the efforts by Christian children to spread the Gospel and reach out to the less fortunate.
The pope also extended a Christmas greeting to Eastern Christians who follow the Julian calendar and were preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ January 7.
He asked that Jesus "strengthen in everyone their faith, hope and love, and give comfort to the Christian communities experiencing ordeals."
“It’s all about love,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in his keynote speech at the Catechetical Congress. “You have to foster, create, allow the Lord in his awesome beauty to touch you, and for you to love him back. There is a big difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus.”
WATCH VIDEOS FROM THE CATECHETICAL CONGRESS
The Catechetical Congress, a symposium on faith, was held November 16 at Sacred Heart University. Sponsored by the Office for Pastoral Services, it is traditionally held every three years.
“It’s a beautiful way to improve the connection between the diocese and the individual parishes,” says Fr. Jose Brito Martins, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Portuguese Parish in Danbury. “It helps to glue us together.”
This year’s Congress, which took as its theme “Who do you say that I am,” drew more than 600 participants. Although it is geared toward people in Church ministry—catechists, youth ministers, RCIA facilitators—the Congress is open to all adults who are interested in deepening and enriching their faith.
“There is no greater joy than having a personal relationship with Christ,” says Damien O’Connor, director of Pastoral Services. “This Congress was designed to offer people a number of ways to deepen that relationship and give them the tools to share their love of Christ with others.”
The need for the support and love of God was brought painfully to life in a witness talk by Msgr. Robert Weiss, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown. The strength of his faith and his compassion grasped the hearts of listeners as he described the horrific events of December 14, 2012, in Newtown, “A place where things like this…don’t happen.”
“It was like Good Friday—there were mothers crying for their children, their children who had died. These were parents who I married, children who I baptized. We held tight to the foot of the cross, because that was our only hope.”
“His talk was exceptional because of the emotions involved,” says Susan Moran, who teaches sixth-graders in the religious education program at St. Peter Parish in Danbury. “For many of us here, the people of Newtown are our neighbors.”
After that intense morning, the theme of the Congress was explored further by nationally known and local speakers who focused on ways to take the experience of faith and pass it on to others. Along with many parish groups, catechists from Immaculate Heart of Mary split up to take in all the workshops. They will be sharing their experiences in the weeks to come.
At St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Riverside, a number of catechists attended a workshop on teaching with hands-on technology given by Amy Taylor and Jaimee Keogler. “Our catechists were excited to attend a workshop given by such energetic young people,” says Janet Wrabel, assistant DRE at St. Catherine’s.
“Religious education is no longer simply a matter of stand up and lecture,” Wrabel says. “They showed the catechists how to use PowerPoint, YouTube and websites like Catholic Toolbox and Life Teen. They even showed us how to save a YouTube video from Facebook to our computers. They’re really up there.”
Participants also had the chance to hear Dr. Peter Kreeft on “Do Catholics Need to be Evangelized;” Dr. Anthony Esolen on “Obedience and Truth;” and Amy Ekeh on “If Today You Hear His Voice” Recognizing the Moments of Your Own Evangelization.”
The Chapel of the Nativity was open throughout the Congress for private prayer and Eucharistic Adoration. The day ended with Mass, the source and summit of each Catholic’s relationship with Jesus.
“Catechesis never ends,” said Bishop Caggiano. “It’s a lifetime conversation. We echo and re-echo the song of Christ.”
VATICAN CITY—The new year will be brighter only if everyone steps outside their safe havens, gets involved and works together to solve local problems with generosity and love, Pope Francis said.
As 2013 comes to a close, let everyone ask God for forgiveness and thank him for his patience and love, the pope said as he presided over a December 31 evening prayer service in St. Peter's Basilica.
May Mary "teach us to welcome God made man so that every year, every month, every day be overflowing with his eternal love," he said on the eve of the feast honoring her as Mother of God.
Leading the annual "Te Deum" prayer service to thank God for his blessings in 2013 and the gift of salvation in Christ, the pope asked people to reflect on how they have spent the past year—the precious days, weeks and months the Lord has given as a gift to everyone.
"Have we used it mostly for ourselves, for our own interests or did we know to spend it for others, too? How much time did we set aside for being with God, in prayer, in silence, in adoration?"
People should also reflect on how they used their time to contribute to their communities.
The quality of life in a community—how it runs and looks—depends on everyone, he said in his homily, which he delivered standing from a lectern.
"A city's face is like a mosaic in which the tiles are all those who live there," he said.
While public officials and other leaders certainly have more responsibility, "everyone is co-responsible, for the good and bad."
"Have we contributed, in our small way, to making (our communities) livable, orderly, and welcoming?" the pope asked. "What will we do, how will we act in the new year to make our city a little bit better?"
As the bishop of Rome, the pope looked at the Italian capital in particular, noting its "extraordinary" spiritual and cultural riches.
"And yet, Rome also has many people marked by material and moral poverty, people who are poor, unhappy and suffering, who prick the consciences of every citizen," he said.
"In Rome, perhaps we feel this contrast more strongly" with such a stark difference between its "majestic setting, loaded with artistic beauty" and the difficulties people struggle against.
A city of opposites, Rome is teeming with tourists, "but is also filled with refugees. Rome is full of people who work, but also people who can't find work," who are underpaid or have jobs that harm their dignity, he said.
"Everyone has the right to be treated with the same attitude of welcome and fairness because everyone possesses human dignity" and are part of the same human family, he said.
Pope Francis said Rome, like all communities, will be more beautiful, hospitable, welcoming and kind "if all of us are attentive and generous toward whoever is in difficulty; if we know how to collaborate with a constructive and caring spirit for the good of all people."
Every community will be a better place "if there are no people who watch it 'from afar,' like a picture postcard, who observe its life only 'from the balcony' without getting involved" directly with the many problems of the men and women who, "whether we want it or not, are our brothers and sisters."
The pope underlined the important work and duty of the church in contributing to people's lives and future, and how, with the leaven of the Gospel, the church is a sign and instrument of God's mercy.
After the prayer service, Pope Francis traveled by popemobile to St. Peter's Square to get a close look at the Nativity scene.
TRUMBULL—Christmas proved to be a joyous time for Monica Zuniga as she professed her Perpetual Promises as a full member of the Marian Community of Reconciliation on Friday December 27, at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull.
Monica is a member of the Pastoral Service Youth Ministry team of the Diocese of Bridgeport, where she serves as Coordinator of the High School Apostles program.
She has been instrumental in the development of the successful "Convivio" youth congress sponsored by the Diocese.
Bishop Frank J. Caggiano celebrated Mass at St. Catherine of Siena Church, where Monica was honored by friends, family, and members of the international community who traveled to Connecticut for her Perpetual Profession.
Alejandra Keen, Superior General of the community based in Peru, also presided over the ceremony.
The Society of Apostolic Life, also known as the "Fraternas" was founded in 1991 in Lima Peru by Luis Fernando Figari. The mission of the Fraternas is to use their faith and talents to transform the culture around them.
In 2011, the Community celebrated its 20th anniversary and received approval from the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in the Vatican.
In a 2011 interview with Fairfield County Catholic, Monica said she joined the Community after earning a college degree and having other plans for her life. Her sudden decision to join the Community meant giving up her boyfriend and plans for an adventurous career.
A native of Peru, Monica said, "It's hard to accept that your plan is not God's Plan," she said "Then you have to accept that God¹s plan is better than yours."
VATICAN CITY—After a year that included the historic resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and a series of celebrated innovations by Pope Francis, it is hard to imagine 2014 at the Vatican could be nearly as eventful.
Of course, the biggest stories are likely to be those that come by surprise, but in the meantime, here are developments bound to loom large in Vatican news over the coming year:
New Cardinals: Pope Francis is scheduled to create new cardinals February 22. By that time, no more than 106 members of the College of Cardinals will be under the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope.Under rules established by Pope Paul VI, the college should not have more than 120 such members, though subsequent popes have occasionally exceeded that number. So Pope Francis can be expected to name at least 14 new cardinal electors.
The election of the first Latin American pope has raised expectations of greater geographical diversity among cardinal electors, so the new slate might prove relatively heavy on names from statistically underrepresented regions, especially Latin America and Africa.
Vatican reform: The eight-member Council of Cardinals that Pope Francis formed to advise him on governance of the universal church and reform of the Vatican bureaucracy has already joined him for two rounds of meetings at the Vatican and will do so again in February. The body is working on the first major overhaul of the Roman Curia, the church's central administration at the Vatican, since 1988.
Although the council has not announced a timeline for its work, Pope Francis has established a record of acting fast; in December, he approved an idea for an international commission on the sexual abuse of children just one day after the council proposed it. So few will be surprised if the council gives him a draft of an apostolic constitution reorganizing the curia before the end of 2014.
Canonization of two popes: The double canonization ceremony of Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II, scheduled for April 27, is almost certain to draw crowds larger than the more than 1 million who attended the latter's beatification in May 2011.
By choosing to declare the sanctity of both men on the same day, Pope Francis may be trying to emphasize fundamental continuities between two popes widely seen as respectively liberal and conservative, especially with regard to reforms ushered in by the Second Vatican Council. Blessed John opened the council in 1962, and Blessed John Paul attended all four sessions as a bishop. The ceremony could thus serve as an occasion for Pope Francis to expound on his own understanding of Vatican II and its legacy for the church.
Papal trip to the Holy Land: The Vatican has yet to announce dates or an itinerary for an expected papal visit to the Holy Land but has not denied recent reports that it will take place in late May and last three days, with stops in Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories. Pope Francis has said a Holy Land visit would include a meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, considered first among equals by Orthodox bishops.
The trip would be Pope Francis' second outside of Italy, following his visit to Brazil in July 2013, and the first planned during his pontificate. The destination would be fitting for a pope whose relations with Jews have been exceptionally warm and who has made peace in the Middle East a priority of his geopolitical agenda. While a three-day papal visit would be unusually brief for such a prominent destination, it would be appropriate for Pope Francis, who has a heavy agenda of reform at home and the media flair to reach the world without leaving the Vatican.
Divorced and remarried Catholics: An extraordinary session of the Synod of Bishops will meet at the Vatican for two weeks in October to discuss the "pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization."
Pope Francis has indicated topics of discussion at the synod will include church law governing marriage annulments and the eligibility of divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion—problems he has said exemplify a general need for mercy in the church today.
In addition to speculation about possible changes in church practice in those areas, the synod has drawn attention with a preparatory questionnaire sent to the world's bishops, which asks about the promotion and acceptance of Catholic teachings on such controversial topics as premarital cohabitation, same-sex unions and contraception.
VATICAN CITY—Celebrating the first Christmas since his election, Pope Francis preached the goodness and tenderness of God, and prayed that men and women around the world would allow God's grace to transform them into peacemakers.
"Let us allow our hearts to be touched, let us allow ourselves to be warmed by the tenderness of God; we need his caress," the pope said Dec. 25, standing on the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica and addressing an estimated 70,000 people in the square below.
"God is peace," the pope said. "Let us ask him to help us to be peacemakers each day, in our life, in our families, in our cities and nations, in the whole world. Let us allow ourselves to be moved by God's goodness."
"My hope is that everyone will feel God's closeness, live in his presence, love him and adore him," Pope Francis said before delivering his Christmas blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city and the world).
Instead of reading Christmas greetings in more than 50 languages—from Chinese to Swahili—as his predecessors had done, Pope Francis spoke only in Italian.
As is traditional, his Christmas address included prayers and pleas for peace in war-torn and tense countries around the world, including Syria, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Israel and Palestine and Iraq, where a car bomb exploded outside a church a few hours earlier, killing at least a dozen people.
Looking at the Christ child, "our thoughts turn to those children who are the most vulnerable victims of wars," he said. Offering a prayer, he asked God to "look upon the many children who are kidnapped, wounded and killed in armed conflicts, and all those who are robbed of their childhood and forced to become soldiers."
"Wars shatter and hurt so many lives," he said.
"True peace is not a balance of opposing forces," he said, and it is not "a lovely facade" simply covering conflicts and divisions. Rather, "peace calls for daily commitment -- it's homemade -- starting from God's gift, from the grace which he has given us in Jesus Christ."
Departing from his prepared text, Pope Francis asked nonbelievers who feel unable to pray to "enlarge their hearts" by ardently desiring peace.
Pope Francis also prayed for the elderly, for battered women, for the sick, for migrants and refugees, for those persecuted for their faith, for the victims of human trafficking and for the conversion of traffickers.
The pope's Christmas celebrations began in the crisp air of a cloudless winter night when he celebrated Christmas Mass Dec. 24 in St. Peter's Basilica, starting his homily with the first line from the night's reading from Isaiah: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light."
The reading gave the pope an opportunity to combine reflections on the Christmas symbolism of light and a verb he has emphasized since his first Mass at pope: "to walk."
Thousands of people packed into the basilica for the Mass and hundreds stood outside watching on big video screens; already in November people were being told there were no more of the free tickets left.
Pope Francis carried a statue of the baby Jesus to a golden manger in front of the altar at the beginning of Mass. After the liturgy, walking behind children from Italy, the Philippines, Argentina, Congo and Lebanon, he carried the statue to a Nativity scene.
In his homily, the pope said that from the moment God called Abraham, believers in the one God have been a walking, pilgrim people, and through all the wandering, God has never left his people's side.
"Yet on the part of the people," he said, "there are times of both light and darkness, fidelity and infidelity, obedience and rebellion; times of being a pilgrim people and times of being a people adrift."
In individual stories as well, "there are both bright and dark moments," the pope said. "If we love God and our brothers and sisters, we walk in the light; but if our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us and around us."
The glad tidings of Christmas reveal that God has broken into the world with light and salvation, he said. "Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, true man and true God," has entered human history and is sharing the human journey.
"Jesus is love incarnate," Pope Francis said. "He is not simply a teacher of wisdom, he is not an ideal for which we strive while knowing that we are hopelessly distant from it. He is the meaning of life and history who has pitched his tent in our midst."
The biblical Christmas story tells how the shepherds were the first to hear the news of Jesus' birth and the first to run to see him. They were first, the pope said, because in social standing they were among the last. They were the ones outside town staying up all night keeping watch over the flocks.
With the shepherds, he said, "let us pause before the Child, let us pause in silence."
"Together with them, let us thank the Lord for having given Jesus to us, and with them let us raise from the depths of our hearts the praises of his fidelity: 'We bless you, Lord God most high, who lowered yourself for our sake. You are immense, and you made yourself small; you are rich and you made yourself poor; you are all-powerful and you made yourself vulnerable.'"
As people continue their journey through the world, even when it is dark, Pope Francis said Christmas is a reminder that they do not have to be afraid. "Our Father is patient, he loves us, he gives us Jesus to guide us on the way which leads to the promised land. Jesus is the light who brightens the darkness."
While the pope added only a few improvised words to his prepared text, one phrase he added was a familiar refrain of his pontificate: The Lord is merciful; "our Father always forgives us. He is our peace."
NEW CANAAN—The Very Rev. Frank J. Caggiano, the Diocese of Bridgeport's new leader, crossed the wide marble altar at St. Aloysius Church here on Christmas morning, challenging a standing-room-only audience to do what the Lord did and serve others.
"The challenge of Christmas is to take all that we believe and live it 365 days a year ... do it for the poor and the sick and the lonely and the unemployed. Do it for those who feel life isn't worth living anymore," Caggiano said during a crisp, quick, engaging homily punctuated by humor and his clear Brooklyn accent.
One of 82 parishes that span across the diocese with an estimated 430,000 Catholics -- encompassing all of Fairfield County -- St. Aloysius was welcoming Caggiano for the first time since the bishop was installed in September, and the new bishop was clearly impressed with the reception.
He called the choir "head and shoulders" above any he has heard and said he looked forward to praying with the large, active congregation for years to come.
An estimated 1,200 faithful attended the mid-morning Mass in a sanctuary flush with white and red poinsettias. At least a dozen evergreen trees adorned with white lights glistened against stained-glass windows on the altar.
Outside, a bitter cold protected a dusting of snow from the sun through three morning Masses, including the one over which Caggiano presided.
Earlier, at midnight, Caggiano celebrated a Christmas Eve Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport, and from New Canaan he would travel to Brooklyn, to spend time with his family.
Monsignor William Scheyd, spiritual leader at St. Aloysius, called it a blessing to have the new bishop there, and parishioners agreed.
"I feel good vibes from him," said Jacquelin Harmody, of New Canaan. "He was excellent, inspiring and engaging."
Patrick O'Connor, formerly of New Canaan and now of Brooklyn, called Caggiano genuine and humble.
"It is such a gift he gave us," O'Connor said. "He's going to bring people back to the church."
His mother, Barbara O'Connor, called Caggiano a breath of fresh air, not unlike Pope Francis, who in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome on Christmas was delivering his first Christmas Mass as pope.
The unconventional pope, in a recent CNN survey, had the support of 88 percent of Americans, for a style that includes hugging the sick, cracking jokes and keeping his message simple.
Caggiano, in his 10-minute sermon, proved he could keep it simple, too, and made mention of the new pope in his message.
"As Pope Francis has made it so clear, there are so many in our mist who live in the shadows of life," Caggiano said, hammering home the need for everyone to reach out to those in need.
The bishop also showed his humor, saying that while Christmas is a time when many receive presents as signs of how much we love one another, he had yet to get around to opening his.
"I will let you know," he said, to laughter.
Caggiano opened his homily by talking about first falling in love with the mysteries of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories in 1994.
"There is nothing better than a mystery," he said. "It's like a puzzle that has many pieces, and trying to figure out how all the pieces come together."
Some mysteries, he said, are easier to figure out than others. Some, he added, can only be figured out with the heart.
"The mystery of Christmas is that God emptied himself of glory so you and I may one day be like God," Caggiano said. "It is a mystery beyond all telling."
That, he said, is what brought people to church on Christmas.
"To celebrate an awesome mystery ... a mystery you and I hold dear," he said. "We have come to celebrate the festival of the wild, reckless, generous love of God. His love to the world was made concrete ... by entering into world as fragile, innocent baby."
Annmarie Galgano, a St. Aloysius choir member from South Salem, N.Y., said it was very exciting to hear the new bishop on one of the holiest days of the year.
"There is a different air. It's nice," she said.
Caggiano is the first of two new Roman Catholic leaders in the region. The Hartford diocese, which encompasses every part of the state except Fairfield County, recently welcomed The Rev. Leonard Blair, formerly the bishop of Toledo, Ohio, as its new archbishop.
VATICAN CITY—With lots of kisses, but very few words, Pope Francis spent more than two-and-a-half hours visiting sick children, their parents and doctors at Rome's Bambino Gesu children's hospital December 21.
In the end, the little patients gave Pope Francis a basket filled with little notes containing descriptions of their prayers and their dreams.
"Thank you," the pope told the children. "We will present them together to Jesus. He knows them better than anyone; he knows what is in the depths of your hearts.
"Especially with you children, Jesus has a special bond," the pope said. "He is very close to you."
More than 3,000 parents, children and staff gathered outside the main entrance, keeping Pope Francis busy for a long time listening to prayer requests, giving blessings and exchanging tight hugs.
Mostly without cameras following him, the pope also visited the 12 babies in the neonatal intensive care unit, the eight children in intensive care and the 18 youngsters in the hospital's nephrology department.
He also wandered throughout the hospital, visiting dozens of rooms, kissing the tops of heads, accepting drawings and even blessing a stuffed animal.
In the hospital chapel, he met 30 children suffering from cancer; they were the ones who gave him the basket of prayers and dreams.
Just outside the chapel, he blessed and held hands tightly with members of the "Children in Heaven" parents' support group.
His Birth was a miracle, His love is a gift....
In this season of hope, may the peace of God be with you as we celebrate our Savior's birth and the light He has brought into this world. Wishing you and your family all the joy, warmth, and gladness of Christmas and a blessed new year.
Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano
Bishop of Bridgeport
FAIRFIELD—“Now, I’m finally ready for Christmas because of what I saw here,” Bishop Frank Caggiano said to the more than 250 in attendance at the St. Catherine Academy Christmas Pageant this morning.
“That was one of the most authentic and moving expressions of what Christmas is that I have ever seen,” he said, with the cast of “The Christmas Message” on the stage behind him and family and friends in the audience.
“The children have given us all a great gift that shows how much our God loves every one of us, and that we need never be alone,” the Bishop said, before joining the cast for a picture taking moment.
Helen Burland, President of St. Catherine Academy, said the annual Christmas Pageant is an opportunity to show off the talents of the students who performed, sang, and narrated the play written by Sister Eileen Boffa, RSM and Directed by Sister Cheryl Driscoll, RSM. The entire school staff also assisted in the production.
Jonathan Teixeira narrated the pageant and read Nativity accounts from the Gospel of Luke. James Barry played Joseph and Mina Deorio represented Mary.
With dramatic lighting and a bright star provided by the Quick Center of Fairfield University, the cast sang a number of songs including “Joy to the World,” “This little light of mine, “ and the Prayer to St. Francis, “Make me a channel of your peace.”
During the pageant, the children told the audience that the meaning of Christmas is that a loving, gentle and peaceful Jesus has come into their lives and will always be with them.
“This is my favorite time of year,” said Burland, “because we get to give back to those who have been so generous in their support throughout the year. This is a labor of love and a chance for the children to star.”
St. Catherine Academy of the Diocese of Bridgeport serves young people with developmental disabilities, including those with autism, intellectual and multiple disabilities.
Established in 1999 as a fulltime day school for students who benefit from a functional academic, social and life skills curriculum in addition to developing academic skills, St. Catherine Academy educates students ages 5-21 who are motivated to learn but unable to thrive in an inclusive setting.
It is located at 760 Tahmore Dr., Fairfield (on the grounds of Holy Cross Parish). For info call (203) 540-5381. Online at: www.stcatherineacademy.org
MERRY CHRISTMAS—Bridgeport attorney Lee DeFusco, with his son William
(green sweatshirt), meet with Hall Neighborhood House Child Development Director
Jill Lamberti, and HNH President Reginald Walker after distributing games
and supplies to the pre-school program.
BRIDGEPORT—Members of the St. Thomas More Society of the Diocese of Bridgeport recently visited the Care Around the Clock Day Care Facility of Hall Neighborhood House (HNH) on 500 State St., Bridgeport.
The Catholic lawyers played the role of Santa Claus in purchasing and collecting a wide range of items for the Infant and Toddler classrooms at Hall Neighborhood House.
After more than a month of preparing for their winter project, the lawyers gifted Hall with a wide range of supplies including bottle warmers, bounce chairs, soft books, building blocks, toddler-size easels, paints and crayons, board games, talking books, age-appropriate games, and doll furniture!
The agency’s Child Development programs helps child, ages six weeks to five year old, to learn, grow and develop life skills.
Bridgeport attorney Lee DeFusco, a Trumbull resident, coordinated the effort. Msgr. James. J. Cuneo, Adjutant Judicial Vicar of the Tribunal of the Diocese of Bridgeport, serves as Spiritual Moderator of the group of 50 Catholic attorneys who perform service projects throughout the year.
“We are still so overwhelmed with the response from your fellow attorneys. The teachers were simply delighted to receive all of the materials, games and baby bouncers and toys. We cannot begin to thank you enough for your generosity,” said Jill Lamberti, Director of Child Development.
Hall Neighborhood House has been serving Bridgeport's citizens since 1886. Its mission is to provide services that enrich and empower the lives of children, families and individuals in Bridgeport and the surrounding communities. Theday care/pre-school facility serves about 200 children daily at its State Street site. The agency has programs for seniors and people of all ages. Hall Neighborhood house also has offices at 52 George E. Pipkin Way, Bridgeport. (203) 345-2000.
“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills,” wrote Pope Francis in his new apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”).
Here the Holy Father teaches that living and sharing the joy of the Gospel necessarily demands that Christians have a deep and active concern for the plight of the poor who suffer so many injustices from an economy that puts profit above people.
The pope writes, “Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.
“Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded.”
This is especially true in the corporate world, where often benefits are cut, wages remain stagnant, workforces are slashed – putting more work on less people – and unions are suppressed.
Not satisfied with these unjust cost cutting measures – which produce profits for upper management executives and stockholders – corporate greed sinks even lower by often taking advantage of production facilities in poor nations where desperately impoverished people are ruthlessly exploited in corporate sponsored sweatshops (see www.iglhr.org).
“In this context,” says Pope Francis, “some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power” and in the workings of the prevailing economic system. “Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.
“To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed.
“Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.”
During the Christmas season – and way before it really begins – when companies entice us with their latest products, this statement from the pope has particular meaning: “The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.”
Highly critical of the enormous gap between the haves and the have-nots, the pope writes, “This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control.”
These powerful words from the Holy Father are surely meant to challenge us to undo the many injustices built into our economy, and build an economic system that works for everyone, everywhere.
As a necessary step in that direction, please urge your congressional delegation not to cut aid to the poor. This can easily be done by going to http://www.confrontglobalpoverty.organd clicking “take action now,” and then click “send the email” boxes.
In Pope Francis’ words, “Money must serve, not rule!”
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.
FAIRFIELD—In response to a request from the Diocese of Bridgeport Office of Social Concerns, Fairfield Prep collected new, unwrapped toys for families in the Bridgeport area.
Hundreds of toys plus packages of much-needed diapers filled Arrupe Hall. Ms. Medoff's sophomore theology students helped load the toys into vehicles.
Shown from left: Ahmed Musa, John Kirby, Jack Oricoli and Dane Audet.
FAIRFIELD—Each year the Missionary Childhood Association (MCA) reaches out to children in Catholic Schools across America to participate in a Christmas Art contest.
They ask that the children sketch or paint their depiction of the Catholic Christmas Miracle. Over ten thousand entries were received by the MCA this year and they were narrowed down to 24 very talented winners.
One of this year’s winners is Amelia Morin, a seventh grade honor student who attends St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School. Amelia and her family were invited to travel to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, on December 6 for a very special awards ceremony. At the ceremony Amelia was awarded a plaque by Fr. Andrew Small, OMI, for her colored pencil drawing of the Nativity Scene. Her work was then placed on display in the Shrines Memorial Hall.
Amelia’s winning artwork will be displayed at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception from now through the feast of the Epiphany in January. This artwork will also be featured as e-greetings at mcakids.org.
BETHEL—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano ordained Fr. Rolando Arias Galvis as a priest for the Diocese of Bridgeport on December 14 at the 12:30 pm Mass in St. Mary Church in Bethel.
Fr. Arias is the first priest the bishop will ordain for this diocese; five more men are looking forward to priestly ordination this coming spring.
Because Fr. Arias was the only priest being ordained at this time, the Sacrament of Ordination was celebrated in St. Mary’s, his home parish.
“Fr. Rolando brings many extraordinary abilities, including his intelligence and lively sense of humor, to his priestly ministry,” says Fr. Robert Kinnally, director of vocations for the Diocese of Bridgeport and rector of St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford. “I am so happy that the Lord called him from Colombia to this diocese.”
Rolando Arias Galvas, 31, was born and raised in Colombia, the eleventh in a family of 12 children. His father, Pastor Arias, is deceased. His mother, Maria Galvis de Arias, is a member of San Vicente de Paul Parish in the city of Armenia.
He attended local grammar and high schools in Armenia, Colombia. Deeply devout, he volunteered for mission trips with his parish even while working in Bogotá, Colombia’s capitol city. Those experiences led him to consider a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. “Out in the countryside, people appreciated so much that we would spend Holy Week or Christmas with them. It helped me realize that I wanted to serve them more completely,” he says.
As he began to explore that calling, he made contact with members of the Carmelite order and thought God might be calling him to join them. While a candidate with the Carmelitas Descalzos in Bogotá, he attended the Universidad Javeriana, a Catholic University. After three years, it became clear that his vocation was pulling him in a different direction. A Colombian priest who was serving in the Diocese of Bridgeport encouraged him to come to the United States.
He entered St. John Fisher Seminary and spent a year there perfecting his fluency in English. He enrolled in Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD, where he completed his seminary studies this past May. Since his ordination as a transitional deacon in June he has been serving at St. Mary’s.
“It’s been a blessing for me having Fr. Cory as my pastor. I’ve learned so much from him,” he says. “The St. Mary’s community has welcomed me, and the staff has been great.”
Over the past months, his service as a deacon has led him to officiate at baptisms, visit the sick in hospitals, and get to know parishioners more deeply. “I’ve had the opportunity to preach, and I’ve discovered that I like that a lot,” he says. “I’m going to continue to focus on that in the future.”
He sees it as a special blessing that his ordination will take place on the feast of St. John of the Cross, one of the great Carmelite saints. “God has been so good. Carmelite spirituality has been special to me, and this is a wonderful gift from God.” Fr. Arias will celebrate his first Mass on Sunday, December 15, at 10 am. Fr. Kinnally will deliver the homily.
Archbishop-designate Leonard P. Blair will be installed as the fifth Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Hartford on Monday, December 16th at 2 p.m. at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Hartford. Photo: PAUL B EVANS, Pail B. Evans
HARTFORD—About 2,000 people came to the Cathedral of Saint Joseph to attend the installation of the Archdiocese of Hartford's fifth archbishop, including Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
The Archdiocese of Hartford's fifth archbishop was installed Monday, December 16 at a Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Hartford.
About 2,000 people, including Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, attended the Mass of Installation for Leonard P. Blair and were invited to a reception afterword.
"When I first came in the cathedral, obviously there's a certain holy fear that comes over you," Blair, 64, said. "This is a big responsibility and it's a new home. I prayed for God to give me the gift of the Holy Spirit and that what I will say and do will help people with their faith."
He said that he's been inspired by Pope Francis, whose ideas he finds to be refreshing and challenging.
“To all the clergy, religious and laity of the Archdiocese I want to say how very happy and honored I am to be your new Archbishop. I especially look forward to meeting the priests, who are a bishop’s closest and indispensable collaborators,” Blair said in a statement. “I learned early on that whatever the position or the place, the true gift of God is to be found in the people with whom you live and work, and I look forward to the blessings of a new family of faith in which to make a home as your Archbishop.”
In a press conference after the Mass, Blair spoke of wanting to reach out to both Catholics and people outside the religion. He said that the amount of Americans practicing Catholicism and religions in general has diminished as secularism has grown.
"I think under, particularly the leadership of Pope Francis and certainly the popes that went before him too, there's a sense that the world is changing and that there needs to be a new outreach to people about the church's mission," Blair said. "What's new is that it doesn't include just people that might never have heard of the gospel, but even people who have heard it, including Catholics.... There are people who are very wounded and who are wondering. There's a battle going on in people's souls a lot of times and they suffer many things that the Church has to be there with the tenderness and the mercy of Christ."
Before coming to Hartford, Blair was installed as bishop of the Diocese of Toledo in 2003.
"I celebrated Mass here like I would have in the Cathedral back in Toledo," he said.
He gave a portion of his sermon in Spanish and many of the readings given by members of the Church were in other languages.
In 1976, he was ordained as a priest and has since served as a parish priest, seminary professor, the chancellor and vicar general of the Archdiocese of Detroit and auxiliary bishop of Detroit, according to a press release. His family has a Polish background.
Every state has its differences when it comes to religion, culture and history. Blair is new to Connecticut. Blair said that he "has to hit the ground running" and that his new role starts with getting to know new communities under the archdiocese's purview and the geography.
"I have to spend time really getting to appreciate and know the local culture, the local history and the people," Blair said.
He said he is looking forward to meeting people and said that the Church is more than an institution. He considers the archdiocese to be a family that shares bonds of faith.
Blair also spent 13 years on-and-off in Italy as a student and student priest and also working for the Holy See in Vatican City.
He had an audience with the Pope himself before being officially appointed. Blair asked Pope Francis for his blessing to become the new archbishop and for Hartford.
"There was a big line of people, so we didn't talk too long," Blair said. "He certainly gave me a big smile and acknowledged that and said that he certainly granted that."
NEWTOWN (December 14) —“Love conquers death,” Bishop Frank Caggiano said repeatedly at the end of his homily at the First Anniversary of the Sandy Hook School shootings last December.
With snow falling steadily outside, more than 850 people filled St. Rose of Lima Church, stood in the aisles and crowded into the vestibule to participate in the Mass, which began at 9:30 a.m. after a bell-ringing remembrance.
The “Bells of Consolation” tolled 26 times as Msgr. Robert Weiss, pastor of St. Rose of Lima, read off the names of the students and staff who were killed in the shooting.
The bells traveled to St. Rose as part of the “The Bells of Remembrance Project” organized by the Franciscan Center of Wilmington, Del., and the McShane Bell Foundry of Glen Burnie, Md., during the days immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Bells throughout the state were rung at 9:30 at the request of Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy who attended the anniversary Mass along with U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, Newtown First-Selectman Pat Llodra and many other area leaders.
The Bishop said that in addition to remembering the dead, the ringing of the bells reminds us they are very much “alive to us” and continue to be part of our lives.
Referring to the well-known saying that “Sandy Hook Chooses Love,” the Bishop said that Newtown residents have become a symbol of love and courage for people around the world who were moved by the tragedy.
“We will never know why this happened, this unspeakable act that took so many innocent lives,” he said, urging those in attendance to renew their hope at Christmas and to find peace in the depth of their faith.
The Bishop said that many people carry physical scars from the “rough and tumble of life,” but that the unseen hurt we carry inside is often the most devastating.
“We are wounded and broken hearted,” he said, noting that some people may never truly recover from such emotional suffering, but he added that they can bring their pain and loss to the altar will they will find reconciliation “in the light of faith.”
Following Mass Bishop Caggiano blessed the parish’s 12/14 Memorial designed and donated by parishioner Marco Savo. The granite arch features a single brass bell, which was rung by Governor Malloy and others as they exited the Church.
The single bell tolled for many minutes as children and families stepped up to it and pulled the rope clapper in honor of those they lost.
In his closing remarks, Msgr. Weiss welcomed 81-year old Fr. Basil O’ Sullivan, pastor of the parish in Dunblane Scotland, where 16 children were killed in a 1996 school shooting. He said that Fr. O’Sullivan was one of the first to contact him after last year’s Sandy Hook shootings and that he has been a source of support and consolation.
After a difficult year in which the parish has begun the healing process, Msgr. Weiss said that “Gratitude is the one word” that sums up his feelings. He said he was personally grateful for the love and support that he and the parish have received across the state and around the world.
“Each of us has lifted up someone else in need during the past year,” Msgr. Weiss said. “Now let us remember that Christmas is a season of hope.”
THANK YOU -- Fr. Thomas Thorne, pastor of Church of the Assumption Parish in Westport, served as a waiter and thanked his parishioners for attending. Here he greets Sister Mary McParland, Pastoral Associate of St. Philip Parish in Norwalk.
SERVING CHARITY (Front page) — Ed and Terri Bagnulo of Westport were among the many "celebrity" waiters who served breakfast to a gathering of more than 250 at Shorehaven Golf Club. The event raised almost $20,000 for the counseling and behavioral health services provided by Catholic Charities in Norwalk.
NORWALK (Friday, December 13, 2013) -- Catholic Charities serves the “poorest of the poor who often have nowhere else to turn,” said Bishop Frank Caggiano this morning at the 22nd Annual Celebrity Breakfast held at Shorehaven Golf Club.
Speaking to a packed gathering of more than 250 men and women, Bishop Caggiano said that many of the poor would be lost without the services of Catholic Charities.
The event raised almost $20,000 for the counseling and behavioral health services provided by Catholic Charities in the Norwalk area.
“The poor have no access to counseling and they have the most difficulty integrating themselves into the fabric of our society, but they can come to Catholic Charities and be brought into the light,” he said.
In his remarks Bishop Caggiano noted that Pope Francis, who was named TIME Magazine, “Man of the Year” and that he has set a new tone for the Church, which encourages everyone “to take a second look at what it means to be a people of faith.”
The Bishop said that the Pope’s humility in wearing a simple black cassock and ministering to the poor and homeless of Rome in the evening has become a symbol of “what it means to reach out and give witness to the fact that mercy has a face in the person of Jesus.”
Most of all he said, the Pope has urged us to narrow “the distance between the head and the heart” and give hope to those who are suffering.
In his introductory remarks, Fr. Charles Allen, special assistant to the president of Fairfield University, quipped that the Pope was named Man of the Year because he had the good sense to send Bishop Caggiano to the Bridgeport diocese.
Fr. Allen was also quick to say that Bishop Caggiano attended two Jesuit schools, Regis High and Gregorian University in Rome, and was named Bishop on July 31, the feast day of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.
Catholic Charities President Al Barber praised the local pastors and parishes for their continued support of the Norwalk office. Many of the pastors donned aprons and served as “celebrity waiters” for their tables.
“At Catholic Charities, we do what we do not for Catholics but because we are Catholic,” he said.
Barber said that Catholic Charities has struggled in the past year to build financial support for behavioral health services, which are often not funded by government or private insurance.
He said that Catholic Charities counselors were on the ground immediately last December 14 after the shootings in Newtown and have been at work at St. Rose of Lima parish since then, but there are great needs for counseling and other behavioral health services throughout the diocese.
The event was chaired by Mrs. Donald Hunter of Norwalk. The program also recognized Mrs. Kathleen Dineen of Norwalk and Edmund Bagnulo of Westport for their long-time service to the agency.
The Catholic Charities Behavioral Health Clinic in Norwalk provides individual, group and family counseling, child and adolescent therapy, medications assessment and management, and crisis intervention. It is accredited by the National Council on Accreditation and licensed by the state department of Pubic Health and Department of Children and Families. The Norwalk office is located at 120 East Avenue. Phone 203-750-9711.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis is not seeking fame or accolades, but being named Time magazine's Person of the Year will make him happy if it helps attract people to the hope of the Gospel, said the Vatican spokesman.
"It's a positive sign that one of the most prestigious recognitions in the international press" goes to a person who "proclaims to the world spiritual, religious and moral values and speaks effectively in favor of peace and greater justice," said the spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi.
The choice of Pope Francis "is not surprising, given the wide appeal and huge attention" to his pontificate so far, Father Lombardi said in a written statement Dec. 11, shortly after Time announced it had named the pope for the annual feature.
"Rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly -- young and old, faithful and cynical -- as has Pope Francis," Time said on its website. "With a focus on compassion, the leader of the Catholic Church has become a new voice of conscience."
Blessed John Paul II was named Person of the Year in 1994 and Blessed John XXIII in 1962.
Other past honorees include several U.S. Presidents, Mahatma Gandhi, Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. The magazine says the title goes to the person or idea that "for better or worse ... has done the most to influence events of the year."
The pope "does not seek fame and success, because he serves to proclaim the Gospel and God's love for everyone," Father Lombardi said. But if the recognition "attracts women and men and gives them hope, the pope is happy."
The spokesman added that Pope Francis would also be pleased if the magazine's decision "means that many have understood, at least implicitly, this message" of hope.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In his first message for the annual World Day of Peace, Pope Francis writes that peace and social justice are impossible without a spirit of fraternity based on recognition that all men and women are children of God -- a relationship fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The nearly 5,000-word message, entitled "Fraternity, the Foundation and Pathway to Peace," was released by the Vatican Dec. 12 in preparation for the World Day of Peace Jan. 1.
"Without fraternity it is impossible to build a just society and a solid and lasting peace," the pope writes. "At the same time, it appears clear that contemporary ethical systems remain incapable of producing authentic bonds of fraternity, since a fraternity devoid of reference to a common Father as its ultimate foundation is unable to endure. True brotherhood among peoples presupposes and demands a transcendent Fatherhood."
The pope adds that, "in a particular way, human fraternity is regenerated in and by Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection. The cross is the definitive foundational locus of that fraternity which human beings are not capable of generating themselves."
Pope Francis surveys contemporary attacks on human dignity -- including war, economic exploitation, crime, environmental pollution and violations of religious freedom -- he says require awareness and practice of humanity's brotherhood and sisterhood in Christ.
He decries a widespread "poverty of relationships as a result of the lack of solid family and community relationships," and writes that "fraternity is generally first learned in the family, thanks above all to the responsible and complementary roles of each of its members, particularly the father and the mother."
With regard to economic justice, the pope calls for "effective policies" to reduce income inequality and guarantee "access to capital and services, educational resources, healthcare and technology so that every person has the opportunity to express and realize his or her life project and can develop fully as a person."
He also calls on ordinary Christians to embrace a "sober and essential lifestyle" and share their wealth, calling such practice of "detachment" a "form of promoting fraternity -- and thus defeating poverty -- which must be the basis of all the others."
The current economic crisis, Pope Francis writes, offers a "fruitful opportunity to rediscover the virtues of prudence, temperance, justice and strength" that are "necessary for building and preserving a society in accord with human dignity."
He repeats his own calls and those of previous popes for the "nonproliferation of arms and for the disarmament of all parties, beginning with nuclear and chemical weapons," and appeals directly to "all those who sow violence and death by force of arms" to see every enemy instead as "your brother or sister, and hold back your hand!"
"Human beings can experience conversion," the pope writes. "I wish this to be a message of hope and confidence for all, even for those who have committed brutal crimes, for God does not wish the death of the sinner, but that he converts and lives."
Pope Francis denounces organized crime for its role in the drug trade, environmental damage, "illicit money trafficking and financial speculation," prostitution, human trafficking, slavery and the exploitation of migrants.
Criminal organizations of all sizes "gravely offend God, they hurt others and they harm creation, all the more so when they have religious overtones," the pope writes.
He deplores the "inhumane conditions in so many prisons, where those in custody are often reduced to a subhuman status in violation of their human dignity and stunted in their hope and desire for rehabilitation."
Calling for responsible and equitable use of natural resources, Pope Francis focuses on agriculture. "It is well known that present (food) production is sufficient, and yet millions of persons continue to suffer and die from hunger, and this is a real scandal," he writes.
Underscoring the critique of globalization that has become a major theme of his teaching as pope, he observes that the "ever-increasing number of interconnections and communications in today's world makes us powerfully aware of the unity and common destiny of the nations."
But this unity, he writes, is "still frequently denied and ignored in a world marked by a 'globalization of indifference' which makes us slowly inured to the suffering of others and closed in on ourselves."
Children preparing fish to be sold on the streets in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, April 2008. (CNS photo/Eduardo Munoz, Reuters)
This is the logo for the "One Human Family, Food For All" Caritas effort against hunger. Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based federation of Catholic charities, launches the campaign Dec. 10 with a worldwide prayer. Nearly 1 billion people -- about one in every eight -- experienced chronic hunger or undernourishment during 2010-2012, according to Caritas. (CNS/courtesy of Caritas Internationalis)
VATICAN CITY (CNS)—People must stand united against the scandal of hunger while avoiding food waste and irresponsible use of the world's resources, Pope Francis said.
People should "stop thinking that our daily actions do not have an impact on the lives of those who suffer from hunger firsthand," he said in a video message December 9, launching a global campaign of prayer and action against hunger.
Organized by Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based federation of Catholic charities, a global "wave of prayer" was to begin at noon Dec. 10 on the South Pacific island of Samoa and head west across the world's time zones.
Pope Francis offered his blessing and support for the "One Human Family, Food For All" campaign in a video message released on the eve of the global launch.
With about 1 billion people still suffering from hunger today, "we cannot look the other way and pretend this does not exist," he said in the message.
There is enough food in the world to feed everyone, he said, but only "if there is the will" to respect the "God-given rights of everyone to have access to adequate food."
By sharing in Christian charity with those "who face numerous obstacles," the pope said, "we promote an authentic cooperation with the poor so that, through the fruits of their and our work, they can live a dignified life."
Pope Francis invited all people to act "as one single human family, to give a voice to all of those who suffer silently from hunger, so that this voice becomes a roar which can shake the world."
The Caritas campaign is also a way to invite people to pay attention to their own food choices, "which often lead to waste and a poor use of the resources available to us," the pope said.
Caritas Internationalis invited its 164 member organizations and local churches to pray for an end to hunger and malnutrition, by acting on a local, national or global level against food waste and in favor of food access and security worldwide.
Caritas is urging Catholics to take a few moments at noon Dec. 10 to join the world in praying against hunger, and to engage in long-term action through raising awareness, advocacy, charitable work or other efforts supporting food security.
The right to food is part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the "Food For All" launch-date of Dec. 10 marks the U.N.'s Human Rights Day.
The Caritas campaign is calling on the United Nations to hold a session on the right to food at its 2015 General Assembly and is asking governments to guarantee the right to food in national legislation.
People can contact their local Caritas organization for more information or the campaign's main site at food.caritas.org.
CLICK TO VIEW THE BISHOP'S STEWARDSHIP REPORT
BRIDGEPORT—The Diocese of Bridgeport has released an Annual Stewardship Report along with accompanying financial commentary that outlines the fiscal years 2010, 2011 and 2012. (see all documents including full audited reports)
In addition to being available online, a condensed version of the Stewardship Report will also be printed in the December 14 issue of Fairfield County Catholic, which goes out to more than 100,000 homes in Fairfield County.
“One of my first priorities is to provide a clear, transparent and comprehensive account of the finances of the Diocese for the 2009-2012 fiscal years,” said the Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, who was installed as Fifth Bishop of Bridgeport on September 19, 2013. “It represents as clear a picture as possible of the present state of our Diocese.”
Over the last few years, the Diocese has taken a number of steps to strengthen its financial position. Among these steps are:
In addition pension liabilities, the primary causes for operating deficits from ongoing activities are the level of uncollectible amounts of reimbursable revenue intended to cover employee benefits and insurance program expenses, primarily from inner-city schools and parishes, and increasing cost of healthcare and benefits.
The Report summary said that some of the biggest challenges the Diocese will face going forward include caring for a growing number of retired priests, determining how best to serve the faithful in parishes and schools in a meaningful and cost effective way, and reaching out to Catholics who are estranged from the Church.
The Diocese said that two additional reports will be forthcoming. A summary of the 2009 fiscal year will be issued separately by December 31s because the diocesan fiscal year was changed in 2009 to begin on January 1st. (This necessitated the issuance of a 18 month audit for the 2009 fiscal year. As such, its findings cannot be easily compared to the audit results of subsequent years that cover a 12-month period.) After the release of the 2009 fiscal year reports, a third report will be issued for the Faith in the Future Fund for the 2009-2012 fiscal years. It is my hope that this final report will be available soon after the start of the new year.
Bishop Caggiano said the issuance of the financial stewardship reports is the first of a three- step process towards creating and implementing a long- term strategy “to foster a growing and vibrant local church.” Step two will require a consultative and collaborative process whereby leaders on every level can work together to articulate a sweeping pastoral vision for the future of the Diocese. The third and final step will be development of a strategic plan by the summer of 2014.
The Stewardship Report also provides a summary of the wide range of pastoral, educational, and charitable services provided by the Diocese of Bridgeport.
“We have much to be proud of in the Diocese, with many good works being ministered in our schools, our parishes, the social service ministries of Catholic Charities, our communication efforts with the faithful, and our many Diocesan pastoral services. This report will help us build on this good work and create a vision for the future,” the Bishop said.
MONROE—Knights of Columbus Blessed Pope John XXIII Council and Fourth Degree Assembly 119, which meets at St. Jude Parish, spearheaded an initiative at St. Jude that collected more than 2,600 diapers.
The local Big Y Supermarket also donated 1,235 diapers in support of the program. The combined total of more than 3,800 diapers was donated to the Hopeline Pregnancy Resource Center, 4749 Main St. Bridgeport. Hopeline will use the donation to support the needs of mothers and their babies.
Brother Knight Ray Longo, a passionate supporter of Right to Life, has a long relationship with Hopeline and sponsored this K of C initiative. The Knights recently presented the donation to Linda Delaney and Patti Quartuccio, R.N. of the Resource Center. (l-r) Linda Delaney, Ted Schmidt, Paul Seperack, Ray Longo, Patti Quartuccio and Kevin Donovan.
Hopeline can be reached at 203.540.5225.
NEW HAVEN—Approximately 2,000 children in Connecticut were treated to new coats in anticipation of winter's chill.
The Knights of Columbus distributed the coats to children in need at six locations in Connecticut on “Black Friday.” The Knights’ Coats for Kids distributions ran from 10 am to noon at sites in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven,Norwich, Stamford and Waterbury.
As many as 500 coats were distributed at any location, reaching 2,000 statewide. Since 2009, the Knights of Columbus has given 150,000 coats to children in the United States and Canada.
“As we start the Christmas season, this helps us remember that Christmas is a jubilee of the present God gave us in his son, Jesus. Meeting a needs of children and families in this way allows us to share that first Christmas gift with our neighbors,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “With more than 2,000 coats distributed, this was an huge success, and will make a huge improvement in a lives of these children.”
The Knights of Columbus was established in New Haven in 1882 and has grown to more than 1.8 million members worldwide. Last year, Knights donated more than $167.5 million and 70 million hours to worthy causes.
VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis will help launch a global campaign of prayer and action against world hunger.
Organized by Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based federation of Catholic charities, the global "wave of prayer" will begin at noon Dec. 10 on the South Pacific island of Samoa and head west across the world's time zones.
Pope Francis will offer his blessing and support for the "One Human Family, Food For All" campaign in a five-minute video message being released on the eve of the global launch.
Caritas Internationalis invited its 164 member organizations and local churches to pray for an end to hunger and malnutrition as well as to act on a local, national or global level against food waste and promote food access and security worldwide.
Nearly 1 billion people -- or about one in eight people -- experienced chronic hunger or undernourishment during 2010-2012, according to the Caritas website.
"One of the worst sounds a parent can hear is their child crying at night tormented by hunger. Many parents living in poverty hear this cry and yet they have no food to give them," Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, president of Caritas Internationalis, said in a video message.
"There is enough food to feed the planet. We believe that with your help and the help of governments and the U.N. we can end hunger by 2025," he said.
Caritas is urging Catholics to take a few moments at noon Dec. 10 to join the world in praying against hunger as well as engage in long-term action through raising awareness, advocacy, charitable work or other efforts supporting food security.
The right to food is part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the "Food For All" launch-date of Dec. 10 marks the U.N.'s Human Rights Day.
The Caritas campaign is calling on the United Nations to hold a session on the right to food at its 2015 General Assembly and is asking governments to guarantee the right to food in national legislation to help alleviate their own citizens' hunger.
The campaign will continue with a "global week of action" in October 2014 with events aimed at pressuring national governments to support laws for the right to food.
In Rome in May 2015, Caritas Internationalis will also host a general assembly of its members' leaders to focus specifically on eradicating hunger.
People can contact their local Caritas organization for more information or the campaign's main site at www.food.caritas.org.
Pope Francis presents a gift to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu during a private audience at the Vatican December 2.
VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel December 2, and discussed prospects for peace in the Middle East and the pope's still-unscheduled trip to the Holy Land.
The two met privately for about 25 minutes in the pope's library.
A statement from the Vatican press office said the leaders discussed the "complex political and social situation in the Middle East, with particular reference to the resumption of negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, hoping that a just and lasting solution may be found as soon as possible."
The pope's plans for a trip to the Holy Land also came up, but the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, told reporters no date had been set. Unofficial reports suggest the trip will be in May or June.
After their private meeting, the prime minister presented the pope with a book about the Spanish Inquisition's persecution of the Jews.
The book, "The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain," was written by the prime minister's father, Benzion Netanyahu, a noted historian who died in 2012 at the age of 102. It argues that Spanish Christians of Jewish origin were persecuted not for any religious deviations but because of racism and envy of their economic success.
The prime minister had inscribed his present, a copy of the book's Spanish edition, "To His Holiness Pope Franciscus, a great shepherd of our common heritage."
Netanyahu also gave Pope Francis a silver menorah, the nine-branched candelabrum used in celebrating the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, sitting on a silver tray with a little silver oil pitcher.
The pope gave Netanyahu a bronze plaque bearing an image of St. Paul.
It was the two men's first meeting, but Netanyahu had met with Blessed John Paul II in 1997 and with Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.
Trinity Catholic High School students loading 6,000 lbs. of food they collected
for Food Banks.
STAMFORD—Trinity Catholic High School was proud to host Bishop Caggiano for the first time as he celebrated the annual Thanksgiving Mass for the students, faculty and staff.
The Bishop’s message to the students was clear—giving thanks to God for all that we have is a vital part of who we are as Catholic Christians and the celebration of the Mass is the greatest prayer of thanks that we can offer.
The Bishop also congratulated the students for once again this year exceeding their annual food drive goal. The goal this year was 4,650 pounds of food—the TCHS community collected 6,000 pounds. Along with this huge donation to the Food Bank, the students also collected 240 boxes of cereal for the St. Joseph Parenting Center in Stamford.
After Mass, the Bishop accompanied by Sister Mary Grace Walsh, Superintendent of Schools, toured the school and had breakfast with the members of TCHS student council.
VATICAN CITY—Does the Obama administration’s plan to relocate the U.S. embassy to the Holy See within the grounds of the American embassy to Italy signify a downgrade in U.S.-Vatican ties?
According to the State Department, the answer is a predictable and emphatic “no.”
“Security is our top priority in making this move,” wrote Shawn Casey Nov. 27 on Dipnote, an official State Department site. The new premises, he argued, will be “safer, bigger, and architecturally more appealing. It also is slightly closer to Vatican City.”
With the shift slated for completion by January 2015, the administration is at pains to point out that it has no plans to close the Holy See embassy, as some reports have suggested.
“Nothing could be farther from the truth,” Casey insisted. “Not only does the United States continue to respect the Holy See as a crucial bilateral partner … but Secretary [John] Kerry, our first Catholic Secretary of State in more than thirty years, is personally inspired by the Church’s work on issues from peace to global poverty, issues at the heart of Catholic social teaching.”
Still, that is not how some previous ambassadors to the Holy See—both Republican and Democrat—are viewing it. Former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See James Nicholson said the embassy’s planned move to the grounds of the U.S. Embassy to Italy is “another manifestation of the antipathy of this administration both to Catholics and to the Vatican—and to Christians in the Middle East.”
“This is a key post for intermediation in so many sovereignties but particularly in the Middle East,” Nicholson told CatholicVote.org. “This is anything but a good time to diminish the stature of this post. To diminish the stature of this post is to diminish its influence.”
Nicholson, who served as ambassador from 2001-2005 under President George W. Bush, said that the State Department has sought for years to relocate the embassy. “It came up when I was an ambassador. I explained the folly of this and it went away. But now they seem determined to do this,” he said.
Raymond Flynn, who served as President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to the Holy See, saw the move as leading eventually to possible closure. "It’s not just those who bomb churches and kill Catholics in the Middle East who are our antagonists, but it’s also those who restrict our religious freedoms and want to close down our embassy to the Holy See," he told the National Catholic Reporter.
Members of Rome’s diplomatic community contacted by the Register have mixed feelings about the move. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one senior official said he felt the administration was making a mistake at a time when Pope Francis is so popular among electorates, and President Barack Obama is under fire domestically following the botched Obamacare rollout.
“I think the administration will back down,” he said. “The move looks weak at a time when Obama is weak.”
But another senior diplomat was more positive, seeing the move as a sensible policy when budgets are tight and security is paramount.
“Most of our work takes place at our residences anyway, and that isn’t affected by this,” he said, as the administration has committed to maintaining a separate residence for the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. “Their new offices will also be larger and better equipped, so I don’t see any problem.”
Indeed, he suggested much of the opposition to the move was being whipped up by Republicans as a stick with which to beat the Obama administration.
Vatican officials are publicly unconcerned by the plans even though only three of the diplomatic missions to the Holy See in Rome are on the same compound as their embassies to Italy. The rest of those in the city are separate, in order to respect the Vatican’s sovereignty.
The British Precedent
But the Obama administration’s plans are somewhat reminiscent of what happened to the British embassy to the Holy See in 2006.
Britain’s then-Labour government was also looking to cut costs and saw its embassy to the Holy See as a prime target. Officials in London were unable to understand its significance, not least its valuable role as a “listening post” with an extensive network of contacts around the world.
Were it not for parliamentary pressure and some clever resistance from its serving ambassador, the embassy could well have closed altogether, as happened with Ireland’s embassy to the Holy See a few years later.
Using the argument of “enhanced security,” the British Foreign Office did succeed in moving the premises of its embassy from the center of Rome—which admittedly was rather vulnerable—to converted old stables in the compound of Britain’s embassy to Italy.
But British officials wanted to go even further, and relocate the Holy See ambassador’s residence to an annex of the British ambassador to Italy’s residence, as well as starve the Vatican embassy of staff and resources. Those attempts failed, partly due to protests by the Vatican.
At the time, diplomats in Rome feared a precedent was being set, and that other embassies would follow suit in a bid to cut costs. In 2006, only Israel had both embassies on the same grounds. After Britain’s move, the Netherlands did the same, and Ireland closed theirs altogether, ostensibly because of the fallout over the clerical abuse scandals in the country.
But the most serious controversy doesn’t currently concern the U.S. or these other embassies, but rather the Canadian one.
Canada’s embassy to the Holy See has been so downgraded recently that Ottawa is unable to find an ambassador willing to take up the position. One candidate was ready to take up the role but when he heard what the terms were, he was said to be shocked at how basic they were.
For the past year, the mission has been without a serving ambassador and is currently being run by a charge d’affaires out of Madrid.
Rome’s diplomatic community sees the cutbacks as bizarre, especially because in February the Canadian government opened an Office for Religious Freedom. “It’s simply scandalous and very difficult to understand,” said one senior diplomatic source, “but it says something about Canada’s approach to foreign affairs.”
He also fears such actions point to a growing trend. “The Holy See need to be careful this doesn’t catch on,” he said. “Some are predicting there won’t be any independent located embassies to the Holy See in ten years’ time.”
All of which may partly explain why, after a relative fall in the Holy See’s diplomatic standing in recent years, Pope Francis is filling so many senior Curial positions with well-seasoned Vatican diplomats.
BRIDGEPORT—Kolbe Cathedral Students are participating in the “26 Acts of Kindness” project to honor those who lost their lives last December 14 to senseless violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Students crocheted scarves for homeless shelters (385), collected 634 canned food items for food pantries and created 300 greeting cards for Veterans. Simple acts of kindness will continue for 26 consecutive school days. We are joining other schools, particularly those members of the SWConference to honor and remember.
The Passing On Kindness Ministry began at KCHS seven years ago; one teacher taught several students to crochet. In turn, those students taught others until hundreds of scarves were crocheted. After they are blessed at the Thanksgiving Liturgy, they are delivered to homeless shelters, hospitals, soup kitchens and other places serving the poor and the marginalized. This year, the ministry became one of the school’s 26 Acts of Kindness!
Two little Caroline House preschoolers hold a piggy bank with their mommy
BRIDGEPORT—Many of us in the United States have been taught at an early age the importance of saving money and that your local bank is a trusted friend.
For many immigrants though, their national economy and banking systems aren’t as trustworthy and many immigrants need to be introduced to the banks in the United States.
Wells Fargo Store Manager Justin Ramsteck and Banking Associate Marlene’s Jones gave an hour-long presentation to the students of Caroline House on “Banking 101”. The students were taught how to open an account, how the money can grow with interest and that a bank is a safe place to keep their money.
Justin Ramsteck said; “Wells Fargo is committed to serving our community. We truly appreciate what Caroline House does and enjoyed speaking to the women about banking and the services Wells Fargo provides that will benefit them.”
Caroline House is a nondenominational education center teaching literacy and life skills to economically disadvantaged immigrant women and children. Since opening its doors 18 years ago, Caroline House has nurtured and educated hundreds of women and children. All programs and services are provided free of charge. Grants, foundations and individual donors provide the financial support for our center. www.thecarolinehouse.org
Wells Fargo of Fairfield runs customized banking education program to teach immigrant women benefits of using the services of their local bank.
FAIRFIELD—St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School community celebrated Thanksgiving by having their annual school-wide food drive.
The Missionaries of Charity in Bridgeport have been selected to be the recipient of this year’s drive.
The Missionaries of Charity was founded by Mother Theresa of Calcutta, and are dedicated to serving the poorest of the poor, both spiritually and with life’s basic necessities. In 2001, the Sisters opened their doors at 599 Beechwood Avenue, Bridgeport, and, since that time, one can feel God’s presence and see God’s work being done there. On Wednesday, November 27, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School held a Thanksgiving Assembly with seasonal music expressing thanks which was presented by each grade. A student from each grade brought.to the altar a representative example of the item that was assigned to their class. The students to realize Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for the many blessings that they have, and that serving others is part of our school foundation and something we as a community like to focus on.
VATICAN—Dreams can be powerful things, especially when articulated by leaders with the realistic capacity to translate them into action.
That was the case 50 years ago with Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech, and it also seems to be the ambition of Pope Francis' bold new apostolic exhortation, "The Joy of the Gospel."
In effect, the 224-page document, titled in Latin Evangelii Gaudium and released by the Vatican Tuesday, is a vision statement about the kind of community Francis wants Catholicism to be: more missionary, more merciful, and with the courage to change.
Francis opens with a dream.
"I dream of a 'missionary option,' " Francis writes, "that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the church's customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today's world, rather than for her self-preservation."
In particular, Francis calls for a church marked by a special passion for the poor and for peace.
NCR's work is possible thanks to the generosity of people like you. Please donate today. The theme of change permeates the document. The pope says rather than being afraid of "going astray," what the church ought to fear instead is "remaining shut up within structures that give us a false sense of security, within rules that make us harsh judges" and "within habits that make us feel safe."
Though Francis released an encyclical letter titled Lumen Fidei in June, that text was based largely on a draft prepared by Benedict XVI. "The Joy of the Gospel," designed as a reflection on the October 2012 Synod of Bishops on new evangelization, thus represents the new pope's real debut as an author.
Early reaction suggests it's a tour de force.
The text comes with Francis' now-familiar flashes of homespun language. Describing an upbeat tone as a defining Christian quality, for instance, he writes that "an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!"
At another point, Francis insists that "the church is not a tollhouse." Instead, he says, "it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone." At another point, he quips that "the confessional must not be a torture chamber," but rather "an encounter with the Lord's mercy which spurs us to on to do our best."
Francis acknowledges that realizing his dream will require "a reform of the church," stipulating that "what I am trying to express here has a programmatic significance and important consequences."
Though he doesn't lay out a comprehensive blueprint for reform, he goes beyond mere hints to fairly blunt indications of direction:
He calls for a "conversion of the papacy," saying he wants to promote "a sound decentralization" and candidly admitting that in recent years "we have made little progress" on that front.
He suggests that bishops' conferences ought to be given "a juridical status ... including genuine doctrinal authority." In effect, that would amount to a reversal of a 1998 Vatican ruling under John Paul II that only individual bishops in concert with the pope, and not episcopal conferences, have such authority.
Francis says the Eucharist "is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak," insisting that "the doors of the sacraments" must not "be closed for simply any reason." His language could have implications not only for divorced and remarried Catholics, but also calls for refusing the Eucharist to politicians or others who do not uphold church teaching on some matters.
He calls for collaborative leadership, saying bishops and pastors must use "the means of participation proposed in the Code of Canon Law and other forms of pastoral dialogue, out of a desire to listen to everyone and not simply to those who would tell him what he would like to hear."
Francis criticizes forces within the church who seem to lust for "veritable witch hunts," asking rhetorically, "Whom are we going to evangelize if this is the way we act?"
He cautions against "ostentatious preoccupation" for liturgy and doctrine as opposed to ensuring that the Gospel has "a real impact" on people and engages "the concrete needs of the present time."
On two specific matters, however, Francis rules out change: the ordination of women to the priesthood, though he calls for "a more incisive female presence" in decision-making roles, and abortion.
Francis says the church's defense of unborn life "cannot be expected to change" because it's "closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right."
The pope's toughest language comes in a section of the document arguing that solidarity with the poor and the promotion of peace are constituent elements of what it means to be a missionary church.
Francis denounces what he calls a "crude and naïve trust" in the free market, saying that left to its own devices, the market too often fosters a "throw-away culture" in which certain categories of people are seen as disposable. He rejects what he describes as an "invisible and almost virtual" economic "tyranny."
Specifically, Francis calls on the church to oppose spreading income inequality and unemployment, as well as to advocate for stronger environmental protection and against armed conflict.
In the end, "The Joy of the Gospel" amounts to a forceful call for a more missionary Catholicism in the broadest sense. The alternative, Francis warns, is not pleasant.
"We do not live better when we flee, hide, refuse to share, stop giving and lock ourselves up in our own comforts," he writes. "Such a life is nothing less than slow suicide."
Editor's note: Excerpts of Evangelii Gaudium will be posted to The Francis Chronicles over the next few days, and watch the NCR Today and Distinctly Catholic blogs for commentary on the apostolic exhortation.
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Supreme Court agreed November 26 to take up two cases that challenge provisions of the Affordable Care Act requiring employers to provide contraceptive coverage on behalf of for-profit companies whose owners object to the mandate for religious reasons.
Probably in March, the court will take up the cases of Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma-based, family-run arts-and-crafts chain, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a Pennsylvania family-run company that makes cabinets.
The cases will be combined for the arguments. A decision is likely by late June.
At issue in both cases will be First Amendment arguments that a federal requirement that the owners of the companies provide insurance coverage they morally oppose violates the owners' Free Exercise rights as well as their rights under a 1993 law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, was pleased with the court's decision to take up these cases.
In a November 26 statement he said the review "highlights the importance of this conflict between the federal government and people seeking to practice their faith in daily life."
"We pray that the Supreme Court will find that the Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protect everyone's right to religious freedom. We are encouraged by the advances in the lower federal courts so far in cases involving family-owned companies as well as non-profit religious organizations."
In Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, the Green family won a ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said their Hobby Lobby chain of more than 500 stores and Mardel, a chain of 35 Christian bookstores, could proceed with seeking an injunction protecting the companies from meeting parts of the contraceptive mandate issued by the Department of Health and Human Services as part of the health care law.
Both the Justice Department and the Greens asked the Supreme Court to review the case.
The government requires most employers' health plans to include free coverage of contraceptives, sterilizations and some abortion-inducing drugs.
The Greens say they object to that part of the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate requiring they provide emergency contraceptive coverage -- such as the morning-after pill or Plan B -- saying that violates their religious freedom. The family has no moral objection to covering "preventive contraceptives" and will continue to cover those for employees, they have said.
The court agreeing to hear their case is "a major step for the Greens and their family businesses in an important fight for Americans' religious liberty," said Kyle Duncan, general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead lawyer for Hobby Lobby.
"We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will clarify once and for all that religious freedom in our country should be protected for family business owners like the Greens," he said in a statement.
The second case, Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius, is an appeal by the Hahn family, the Mennonite owners, of a 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that they had to comply with the contraceptive coverage requirement. The circuit court ruled that as a for-profit, secular corporation, Conestoga Wood and its owners are not protected by the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment.
In its petition for the Supreme Court to review its case, Conestoga Wood argued that the 3rd Circuit's decision conflicts with rulings by other circuit courts that recognized religious rights of for-profit corporations.
The 1993 law, known as RFRA, says that the government "shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion" unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest." The legal question raised in the case is whether RFRA protects a for-profit company from having to provide a benefit to which employees are entitled under federal law but to which the owners have religious objections.
The companies also raised the Free Exercise clause as a defense in arguing the mandate infringes on the employers' right to be free from government interference with their religious beliefs. The argument cites the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United that found a corporate free speech right to participate in the political process through campaign contributions.
The HHS mandate includes an exemption for some religious employers that fit its criteria and has an accommodation for others allowing some employers to use a third-party to provide the contraceptive coverage they find objectionable, but Catholic entities that have brought the lawsuits say the accommodation still does not solve their problem over being involved in providing coverage they reject for moral reasons.
The mandate does not include a conscience clause for employers who object to such coverage on moral grounds.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Thanksgiving is a time of year that finds most of us coming home to our families to celebrate our blessings in life. It’s also a time that we think of families that are struggling both spiritually and financially.
As I write this note, I am very pleased to say that so many people throughout the diocese are taking steps now to ensure that no one is left out or left alone on Thanksgiving. Volunteers and staff at our houses of hospitality in Bridgeport, Stamford and Danbury are preparing to serve their traditional Thanksgiving meal to the poor, elderly and homeless, while many of our parishes, schools and ministries are collecting canned goods and stocking their own food pantries to help feed families.
Thanksgiving also reminds us that we should always be grateful to God for our lives and talents. At every Mass, we pray, “It is right to give Him thanks and praise.” Let us be happy that Christ has shared His life with us, and in our gratitude, let us continue to serve in love and charity.
May the blessings of the Lord be with you and your family as you gather for Thanksgiving.
The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano,
Bishop of Bridgeport
From left: Anthony Magi, Erik Hoffer, Jonathan Rodrigues, and Peter Antonicelli
FAIRFIELD—The Squires Club sponsored Fairfield Prep's annual Thanksgiving Food Drive, which successfully collected hundreds of bags of much-needed food.
The club members filled a large van with food supplies for Action for Bridgeport Community Development, Inc. ABCD provides Thanksgiving dinner for 2,000 families annually. Representatives of the Squires Club getting ready to load the vans.
FAIRFIELD—With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, there have been three examples of the goodness of Notre Dame High School students and faculty in the past week.
The students pitched in to help the troops, feed the hungry and help those struggling with illness.
Tracie Marko, ND’s Director of Advancement, reports that students recently heeded a request from the Columbiettes, the women’s auxiliary group of the Knights of Columbus. The organization had put out a call for Christmas cards to be sent to our troops serving overseas.
“Thanks to the efforts of our staff and students, over 400 Christmas cards will be turned over to the Columbiettes to accompany packages being sent to the brave men and women protecting our nation and the freedoms of others around the world this holiday season,” she said.
The students also put their generosity to work on Thursday when hundreds of turkeys were dropped off in the morning cold, along with boxes upon boxes of food items, all to be given to Sister Theresa and the Daughters of Charity in Bridgeport. From faculty, parents, students and alumni, well over 200 frozen turkeys were donated to help to make the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday a special day for those enjoying the donated food.
An official donation in the amount of $1,501.00 was made to the American Cancer Society (click here for photo). Thanks to a dress down day in October and the collection efforts made at a recent home football game, a check was given to Kelly Stewart of the ACS, as part of the Crucial Catch fight against breast cancer campaign.
Another check will be presented thanks to the efforts of the students and faculty members who donated $10 each as part of the November campaign. The men participating in this campaign are not shaving (or are growing a mustache) with the money raised again benefiting the fight against cancer.
WASHINGTON, DC—Beginning the Church's liturgical year, Advent (from, "ad-venire" in Latin or "to come to") is the season encompassing the four Sundays (and weekdays) leading up to the celebration of Christmas.
Advent is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas. The final days of Advent, from December 17 to December 24, focus particularly on our preparation for the celebrations of the Nativity of our Lord (Christmas).
Bishop Caggiano and our St. Philip Norwalk Youth Group.
Bishop Caggiano was speaker at National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) held Nov. 22-24 in Indianapolis, IN. For story by Catholic News Service click here. Check out our Facebook pages FairfieldCountyCatholics and BridgeportDiocese for updates from our Diocese of Bridgeport Youth! Twitter follow @DOByouth or check our Youth Page at www.bridgeportdiocese.com/youth
The National Catholic Youth Conference is an exciting, biennial three-day experience of prayer, community, and empowerment for Catholic teenagers and their adult chaperones. The schedule includes keynote addresses, concurrent and workshop sessions addressing a wide variety of topics. There are also opportunities for liturgy, reconciliation, prayer and worship, service, and special activities such as concerts, exhibits, and the interactive thematic park.
President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy arrive
at Love Field in Dallas November 22, 1963. (CNS/courtesy
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum)
JEFFERSON CITY—The late Vincentian Father Oscar Huber, a native of Perryville in the St. Louis Archdiocese, was a hard-working, dedicated pastor who made many friends throughout his years of faithful ministry.
The priest, who died in 1975, is still remembered for all that. And for one other thing. A Dallas pastor at the time, he administered last rites to President John F. Kennedy, after an assassin's bullet November 22, 1963, brought down the nation's 35th president and he lay mortally wounded at Parkland Hospital.
Father Huber also prayed with and comforted first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, but the priest never said much about that time in the years that followed, according to his nephew Father Oscar Lukefahr, also a Vincentian, who was inspired by his uncle's priesthood to join the same order.
"He was not the kind of person who enjoyed being in the limelight," Father Lukefahr once told The Catholic Missourian, newspaper of the Jefferson City Diocese.
"If people asked questions about it, he answered cautiously. He didn't go around saying, 'I was the one who anointed the president.' He was simply a priest who did his job, and that was that," said Father Lukefahr.
He made those comments in an interview with the Catholic paper in 2008, the 45th anniversary of Kennedy's death. Father Lukefahr was then and still is a regular columnist for The Catholic Missourian.
As the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, Father Huber's name may not be as familiar as many others who have become part of the public memory of those dark days, but a January 2007 issue of the Southwestern Historical Quarterly recounted how Father Huber, then pastor of Holy Trinity Parish, walked several blocks from his church to see the president's motorcade.
Believing that the nation's first Catholic president, who was traveling in an open-topped limousine, had spotted his Roman collar and waved to him, Father Huber returned to his rectory to tell his friends what had happened.
"It was a thrilling moment for me," he was quoted as saying.
A while later, Vincentian Father James N. Thompson, associate pastor, told Father Huber that the president had been shot. Both immediately left for the hospital, which was three miles away and located with the parish boundaries.
According to an article in the Dec. 1, 1963, issue of The Catholic Missourian, Father Huber was admitted to the emergency room to administer last rites to the president.
Father Huber was quoted by the National Catholic Welfare Conference News Service, predecessor of Catholic News Service, as saying he administered the rites of absolution and extreme unction (now known as anointing of the sick) conditionally, "except Communion, which the president could not receive."
The priest said the rites were "conditional" because he didn't know for sure whether the president was alive at the time, but that he did not appear to be breathing.
News stories from 1963 said others in the emergency room, including Mrs. Kennedy, joined the priest as he prayed the Our Father and the Hail Mary.
"She graciously thanked me and asked me to pray for the president. She appeared shocked," Father Huber told the news service.
Father Lukefahr told The Catholic Missourian that his uncle later told him how impressed he was with the first lady's strength and courage.
A seminarian in 1963, Father Lukehfahr said that "whenever it came up in conversation -- and I respected his desire for privacy by never interrogating him about it -- he mostly talked about how he prayed with Jackie, and what a wonderful person she was -- very dignified and strong."
Growing up in Perryville, young Oscar Huber stayed out of school to manage the family farm while his elder brother went away to dental school.
At the age of 28, Oscar entered the Vincentian minor seminary in Perryville. He completed the high school curriculum in two years, moving on to the Vincentian novitiate and college seminary, completing those studies in three years instead of the typical four.
After being ordained in 1931, Father Huber went on to serve at parishes in Missouri, including Kansas City, and San Antonio before moving to the Dallas parish. He was pastor there from 1959 to 1968.
"He was the kind of pastor who could do those kinds of things and do them well," Father Lukefahr told The Catholic Missourian. "He was a good administrator, and he cared a lot about people. I never heard anyone complain about him."
After Dallas, Father Huber moved to a parish near St. Louis and spent his last two years back in his hometown, at the Vincentian retirement home in Perryville.
He died in 1975, leaving to his nephew the chalice he had taken to Parkland Hospital.
- - -
Nies is editor of The Catholic Missourian, newspaper of the Diocese of Jefferson City, Mo.
Originally Published in The Hour, Nowalk by Keith Loria
FAIRFIELD -- When the Mill River Band formed in Fairfield 10 years ago, the band mates were looking for something fun to do and found rock music to be the perfect compliment to their day jobs--which included everything from a teacher to a doctor to a lawyer.
"I started this as a way to take advantage of some of the talent I knew of, and we wanted to do something that would move us and the audiences that we played for, both emotionally and spiritually," says Jim Schanck, the band's lead guitarist. "We play familiar songs that everyone grew up with--the Beatles, The Band, The Grateful Dead--it's a lot of fun."
Today, the band consists of Schanck, Michael Jacob on drums, Mike Dougherty on bass and vocals, John Burlinson on acoustic guitar and vocals, Tom "Doc" Abrahamsen on guitar, harmonica and vocals, Chuch Chesler on keyboards and accordion, and Doug Bernstein on sax. The musicians have played with iconic names like Bruce Springsteen, Levon Helm, Sam Moore and Joe Cocker.
In addition to playing great music, the Mill River band is never at a loss for helping out a good cause. On Friday, Nov. 22, the Fairfield Theatre Company will present Rock Out Hunger with The Mill River Band, benefiting The Thomas Merton Center, a program of Catholic Charities of Connecticut.
The Thomas Merton campus was founded in 1974 by a group of concerned individuals who saw a need for services to the economically disadvantaged people in the city of Bridgeport.
Over the years, as the needs of the people the campus served changed, it has expanded its offerings to develop programs that address issues such as housing, nutritional needs, healthcare needs, parenting issues and youth at risk. Today, it helps more than 250 people a day.
"I don't think the average person knows how prominent hunger is in this country. The people struggling are not just the homeless," Schanck says. "The Merton Center does amazing things right in our backyard so I thought it was time to take notice and do something this time of year."
A pre-concert reception will be held at 6:30 p.m., with the concert following at 8:30 p.m. This is the second Rock for Hunger event, after a successful launch last year by the nonprofit's board.
"We used to have one fundraiser a year--a celebrity breakfast in June--but with the economic climate, we realized less money was going to nonprofits and it became apparent to us that we needed to hold more," says Bonnie Candee, the event's organizer. "As we were thinking of what to do, a friend of the director of the center--who was very involved in the music industry--gave us items to auction off at events."
The items were one-of-a-kind collectables from the music world, and they seemed ill-suited to be auctioned at a breakfast. Thus, the idea for the concert fundraiser was born.
This year, the bar has been raised on the auction items. A silent auction will include items such as an original framed poster promoting The Beatles' famed concert at Shea Stadium on August 23, 1966, signed by Sid Bernstein, promoter of the event; and two Rolling Stones posters from the early '70s.
A live auction will also take place during the concert of three signed guitars. There's a Harmony acoustic guitar with pick guard signed by Willie Nelson, a Hohner acoustic guitar with pick guard signed by James Taylor and a Fender Squire Stratocaster electric guitar with pick guard signed by Johnny Winter.
"These are some special items and all the money goes to a great cause," Candee says. "The night will be a lot of fun and we are looking forward to another great success."
Tickets for the concert and pre-concert reception are $100, the concert only is $50 and available at www.fairfieldtheatre.org.
Richard Pulga died five days after Typhoon Haiyan rampaged across the fragile lands called the Philippines. In another time, another place, the healthy 27-year-old still would be alive.
Richard Pulga is a prophet. You can say all you want about climate change and greed and poverty. But the life and death of this Filipino farmer gives strongest evidence of the three.
If you've turned a deaf ear to climate change, turn around and listen up. The greenhouse effect they talk about is real. The sun shines away and heats the earth -- more when the sky is clear, but even when it is not. The fuels we use make smoke and smog that wrap a blanket around the earth. It keeps the heat from going out to space. The world is getting hotter, and the weather is more dangerous.
Greed comes to every human heart in one way or another. No matter what, we want more of it: more money, more food, more space, more time, and more power, even as none of these fills our needs. We grasp at each and hold on tenaciously, unable to share the penny or the piece of bread. We want room to move around in. We want leisure. And we want control. But more for the almighty "me" can mean less for somebody else, immediately or eventually.
So poverty crouches at every turn of life, waiting for the smallest opening to set its teeth into the private cycle of birth and death. It grabs on someplace -- a hand, a mind, a back, a leg -- and it does not let go. When it comes to us, we may not see it coming. When it comes to someone else, we may not notice.
So with Richard Pulga, who sent his wife and children on to safer ground as wind and water threatened all he had: rice fields on 2 acres, some coconut trees and a little house. He stayed there as the tempest wound its gnarled hand around a coconut and hurled it at his leg.
The storm left. They patched him up and got him to a hospital. He lay there on a metal gurney in the hall, awaiting help. He got the most attention from The New York Times.
You know the rest of the story. It circled the globe like a moon reflecting poverty, greed and climate change back on all of us. Pulga got nothing but a saline drip for five days. They did not clean him. They did not clean his wound, an infected bleeding compound fracture of the lower leg that slowly drove his body into septic shock.
Pulga died with his wife weeping that she wanted to bring him home, a home that is gone. He died because at the first hospital, they told his aunt who had no money she should just take him away. He died because they could not save him at the next hospital, the one where they cut off this strong man's leg.
He died with doctors saying he did not have to die, that his death could have been prevented.
What is this simple prophet telling us?
The Philippines' 7,107 islands float in the Pacific Ring of Fire, where typhoons often come. There, 98 million people's lives mirror the flora and fauna. Some are rich, very rich. Some are simple. Some are more than poor.
No matter, rich or poor: The storm took no prisoners as it washed away buildings, dreams and families. The numbers tell only part of the story. In a small town, they buried 27 members of one family alone.
Yes, world governments have sent ships and planes and helicopters. Yes, their navies and armies are dropping water, food and medicine.
But where are the voices of reason? Where are the voices that blame air pollution caused by cheaper means of making heat or steel? Where are the voices that blame the faster cars that let more people with more money ride alone? Where are the voices that blame concentrations of power that favor themselves?
Unlike the prophet Jeremiah, Richard Pulga did not need to bury a linen belt to learn that everything is fragile. He did not need to smash a clay jar to convince us things are passing. Yet like his brother Jeremiah, he has taught us more than we want to know about our individual and our corporate weaknesses. Can we learn? Will we?
Phyllis Zagano is senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University and author of several books in Catholic studies. Her newest book is Mysticism and the Spiritual Quest: A Crosscultural Anthology (Paulist Press), and her recent books include Women & Catholicism (Palgrave-Macmillan), Women in Ministry: Emerging Questions about the Diaconate (Paulist Press) and Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future (with Gary Macy and William T. Ditewig, Paulist Press). She will speak March 13 at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Mo.
Terry O'Connor, Executive Director of the Cardinal Shehan Center,
and Bridgeport Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, congratulate Kolbe
Cathedral High School sophomore Marcus Hickey after he spoke
to the gathering of over 400 at the celebrity breakfast. Marcus said
that he grew up at the Shehan Center and that it has played an
important role in his learning and personal development.
BRIDGEPORT—Beyond its recreational and education programs, the Cardinal Shehan Center offers young people “something precious and intangible that is their right as children of God,” Bishop Frank Caggiano said at the 26th Annual Celebrity Breakfast of the Cardinal Shehan Center held at the Downtown Holiday Inn.
“The word is ‘community,’ a place where children are nurtured, accepted and known by their name,” said the Bishop at the breakfast which raised over $65,000 for the youth center’s after-school and Saturday programs.
Speaking to a gathering of more than 400 men and women business and civic leaders, Bishop Caggiano said many young people today are deprived of the community support that adults received in their youth.
The Bishop said that when he grew up in Gravesend Brooklyn he didn’t have a brother, but he had seven friends that formed a band of brothers who played stick ball in the street and looked out for one another. The eyes and ears of parents and other adults were also constantly watching over them.
“I had one mother but I also had 50 mothers because everyone on the block knew who I was and I couldn’t escape,” he said to laughter about his description of his boyhood days.
“If you grew up in Brooklyn or in Bridgeport at one time, you had the privilege of having that community,” he said, noting that community life “has been replaced” for many of the young by neighborhoods that are anonymous and indifferent to their welfare.
He thanked those in attendance for supporting the Cardinal Shehan Center and for working toward a community “where children feel safe and a sense of belonging and are mentored and challenged.”
He said that true community for children is not simply keeping them busy but “coming together with purpose and embracing nobler values to serve one another for the common good.”
He said his vision for the future of the diocese “is one of hope, growth and vitality, and young people are a the center of this vision. The Lord will guide us and places like the Shehan Center will help to make this vision a reality.”
During the breakfast, Kolbe Cathedral High School sophomore Marcus Dickey was honored as the Youth Speaker. He told the gathering that he “grew up at the Shehan Center and it has played a huge role in my life.”
Douglas Turnage, a corporate revenue analyst for Unilever, accepted a volunteer award on behalf of the Trumbull company, which provides consumer goods and personal care products. Turnage, who volunteers at the Shehan Center along with other Unilever employees, described the young center as “an amazing place that has done so much for so many. If you’re looking to give back to the community this is the place to do it.”
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch welcomed Bishop Caggiano as “bridge builder” in the community and said that the Cardinal Shehan Center has served generations of Bridgeport youth with programs that help them move in positive direction.
The Cardinal Shehan Center is a non-profit organization located in Bridgeport, CT. For 50 years the Center has served the recreational, educational, and social needs of moderate and low-income families and young people of lower Fairfield County, particularly inner city Bridgeport. Its mission is “enriching lives through learning” through After School & Saturday Youth Development Program, Summer Day Camp, various basketball and softball leagues, Physical Education classes to grammar schools, and alternative education programs. It is located at 1494 Main Street. For information call 203-336-4468. Online: www.shehancenter.org
St. Rose volunteers unload contributions into the Knights of Columbus building for sorting. Photo by Fred Dwyer
NEWTOWN—The St. Rose of Lima Social Concerns Committee, with the support of the Knights of Columbus Council 185, held a Thanksgiving food drive in mid November.
The turnout was exceptional. A large landscaper’s-style box trailer was filled with non-perishables by noon on Sunday, and even more was collected Sunday evening. All the food was sorted and shelved, primarily by young people from the parish. The food is being distributed to several local families, the F.A.I.T.H. Food Pantry, Newtown Social Services and nine other social service organizations from Bridgeport to Danbury. The Saturday before Thanksgiving a number of volunteers will load their vans and SUV’s to make the deliveries. Photos by Fred Dwyer: Young St. Rose volunteers unpack, sort and shelve a mountain of food.
During the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Nov. 11-14 General Assembly in Baltimore, two bishops took time to share a simple supper – soup and bread – and dialogue with about 20 Catholic social justice and peace activists, including myself.
On the evening of Nov. 12, several blocks away from the Waterfront Marriott Hotel, where the bishops were meeting, Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis and Bishop John Michael Botean head of the Romanian Catholic Eparchy (diocese) of St. George in Canton, Ohio sat down with us to dialogue about war making, peacemaking, poverty and military chaplains in light of the teachings of the compassionate, nonviolent Jesus.
In the basement of historic St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, Martha Hennessy, a granddaughter of Dorothy Day said, “Based on my understanding of my grandmother’s life, I would conclude that priests should not serve in the military, as one cannot serve Christ and the chain of command at the same time. Part of a chaplain's job is to make soldiers feel OK about doing their job, which is to kill, which Christ said we can't do.”
And Hennessy added that Dorothy Day would not have approved of the earlier bishops’ dinner hosted by the Archdiocese for the Military Services – with military recruiters lobbying the bishops to send more chaplains.
She thought her grandmother would have said the bishops are being complicit with the permanent war economy.
Bishop Botean, who during the Iraq war courageously and prophetically wrote that the war was "objectively grave evil, a matter of mortal sin," said unfortunately the culture has more of an influence on the church than the Gospel. He added, “It takes a lot of vision to see the simple message of Jesus in the Gospel.”
He said, “Our ‘yes’ to the Gospel has gotten weaker because other interests have made their way into church thinking, causing a fog around the Gospel. Since Christianity’s legalization by the Roman emperor Constantine, church and state are largely seen as one.” And sadly, the church has been defending empires ever since – “accepting homicidal violence.”
Bishop Botean said, “We need your prayers and witness, if the people lead, the leaders will follow.”
Archbishop Tobin shared an inspiring story told by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu during a speech in Indianapolis.
He said when the Dutch came to South Africa, they had bibles and we had the land. They asked us to close our eyes and pray. When we opened our eyes, they had the land and we had the bibles.
But that was their big mistake, to give oppressed people the word of God. Because the word of God teaches that we have God-given worth and dignity, and that God desires our liberation from all that oppresses us.
Archbishop Tobin said the most powerful word spoken to injustice is “No!”
We asked Archbishop Tobin and Bishop Botean why the bishops during their annual meetings were not praying and dialoging about how faithful or unfaithful of a witness they were giving – in light of our highly militaristic and unjust economy – to the nonviolent Jesus who always sided with the poor and oppressed.
They said that they weren’t sure. And that they weren’t sure how to encourage this radical dialogue to happen. But they said they would try. Words of hope from two humble bishops earnestly striving to challenge America’s war machine and system of economic injustice.
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.
Photo (l-r) Lieutenant Stephan Donahue, J.G., Sergeant Mike Benedetto, Bernard Capodagli, Gus Markoja, Corporal Paul Magnano, Lou Nocero, and Gregory Martire
FAIRFIELD—Each year, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School gathers as a school community to acknowledge and honor Veterans Day.
This year was no different. After the Star Spangled Banner and the Pledge of Allegiance, St. Thomas’s pastor, Fr. Victor Martin, who served as a U.S. Air Force Chaplain, opened the assembly with a beautiful prayer and a reminder that when you see someone in uniform you should make it a point to thank them for serving.
School Principal Patricia Brady then welcomed everyone and pointed out that our school is open because of the sacrifice of our men and women veterans who fought to ensure our freedom to practice our faith. The school choir entertained us with patriotic songs that made one feel proud to be an American.
This year’s guest speaker was Lieutenant Stephen Donahue, J.G. U.S. Navy. Lt. Donahue’s message was clear: He told the assembly that it was an honor to have served his country, and that everyone should take time out to educate themselves on wars and the armed forces, and to explore the opportunity to serve one’s country. Lt. Donahue attributes his personal success to the experience he gained in the U.S. Navy. Besides Lt. Donahue, the gathered assembly was honored to have the following additional veterans in attendance, all of whom stood united and proud along with Lt. Donahue: Gregory Martire U.S. Army, Special Operations; Corporal Paul Magnano, U.S. Marine Corps; Robert Korchman, U.S. Marine Corps; Lou Nocero, U.S. Navy Seabee; Sergeant Mike Benedetto, U.S. Marine Corps; and Alex Fucci, U.S. Army.
“It is vital that we teach our children to give the respect that our armed forces deserve, and to remind them of the sacrifice that our veterans make so that we can live in freedom,” says Principal Brady.
FAIRFIELD—The fourth grade at Assumption Catholic School spent the month of October collecting food and toiletries for the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Their collection will go to soldiers in the most difficult to reach places, where regular donations do not often reach. The fourth grade class, under the direction their teacher, Amy Meyers, has taken on this volunteer project for the past three years. The school families have been very generous to their cause. This year they will send five boxes of much needed items to the troops.
FAIRFIELD—“It’s all about love,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in his keynote speech at the Catechetical Congress.
“You have to foster, create, allow the Lord in his awesome beauty to touch you, and for you to love him back. There is a big difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus.”
The Catechetical Congress, a symposium on faith, was held November 16 at Sacred Heart University. Sponsored by the Catechetical Leaders of the Diocese of Bridgeport (CLDB) and the Office for Pastoral Services, it is traditionally held every three years. This year’s Congress drew more than 600 participants. Although it is geared toward people in Church ministry—catechists, youth ministers, RCIA facilitators—the Congress is open to all adults who are interested in deepening and enriching their faith.
A witness talk by Msgr. Robert Weiss, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown, followed Bishop Caggiano’s address. The strength of his faith and his compassion grasped the hearts of listeners as he described the horrific events of December 14, 2012, in Newtown, “A place where things like this…don’t happen.”
“It was like Good Friday—there were mothers crying for their children, their children who had died. These were parents who I married, children who I baptized. We held tight to the foot of the cross, because that was our hope.”
After that intense morning, the theme of the Congress was explored further by nationally known and local speakers who focused on ways to take the experience of faith and pass it on to others. The day ended with Mass, the source and summit of each Catholic’s relationship with Jesus.
“Catechesis never ends,” said Bishop Caggiano. “It’s a lifetime conversation. We echo and re-echo the song of Christ.”
Photo: Mark Conrad. The St Joseph high school girls soccer team
and coaches pose for a team photo after winning the CIAC class LL
girls soccer championship game against Suffield high school played
at Falcon Field, Meriden, CT on Sat., Nov. 16, 2013.
MERIDEN—The coronation of an unbeaten season began with a rush that rattled a normally impenetrable defense.
There was little doubt that anything would throw the dream off-kilter. By the end of yet another victory -- its 22nd in 23 matches -- St. Joseph's girls soccer team lined itself near the 50-yard line at Falcon Field with medals draped around each player's neck. There, they raised a state championship plaque as well, the program's first title in five years.
Paced by goals from Samantha Grasso and Jenna Bike close to two minutes apart in the first half, No. 3 St. Joseph downed top-ranked Suffield 2-1 in the Class LL state championship Saturday morning.
"It's an indescribable feeling not to have lost all season," said Grasso, who was crowned the match's Most Valuable Player.
It was Grasso's goal -- notched with 19:27 left in the first half off a feed from Bike -- that spotted St. Joseph a 1-0 lead. And it was Bike's tally -- only 1:57 later on a breakaway -- that stunned previously unbeaten Suffield (19-1).
"We knew they were great," said Suffield coach David Sullivan, whose team had surrendered only two goals in its previous 19 games. "Did we think we were going to shut them out? No. Did I think we'd give up two goals in the first 20 minutes? Not a chance."
But that's just what the Wildcats did. It was enough to catapult the Cadets (22-0-1) to their third state title and first in Class LL.
The Cadets built a 10-7 advantage in shots, including 6-2 in the first half when they forced Suffield goalkeeper Meredith Ouellette to make two diving stops.
"Our game's about possession. No one all year has dictated a game to us," St. Joseph coach Jack Nogueira said. "We've always dictated a game by hanging onto the ball."
The Cadets, who outscored opponents 9-2 through their first three tournament games, controlled the pace until a frantic, late push by Suffield.
Playing with a bright sun to their backs, the Wildcats sliced into the lead with 9:42 left on Brittany Champagne's blast from the top of the box.
"The sun was going to be so bad. We were trying to take advantage of that," Sullivan said. "But (St. Joseph) did a great job. ... They had five people back."
Desperately needing an equalizer, Suffield put a few more chances on net but was denied by goalkeeper Molly Meehan (two saves).
After the final seconds ticked away, and after St. Joseph huddled near its sideline for one last pep talk, Nogueira discussed how his team might've been better prepared after falling in the M state final last season, 4-1 to Northwest Catholic.
"By being in the finals last year, did it get us better prepared for this year? Maybe," Nogueira said. "Soccer's a game of matchups too. I thought we matched up well with Suffield. Last year, we obviously matched up horribly against Northwest Catholic."
Regardless of the matchup, the players weren't going to let their last match put a damper on a remarkable season, one that also included an FCIAC championship.
"Coming into the game, we were pretty confident that we were going to win," Grasso said. "We had an undefeated season. This was going to be the top."
To the Cadets' delight, it was.
BRIDGEPORT—Catholics throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport can now fill out a questionnaire in response to the request by Pope Francis for widespread lay input on the pastoral care of families within the context of evangelization.
“As many Catholics have heard , the Holy Father called for an Extraordinary Meeting of the Synod of Bishops to discuss the Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization,” said Damien O’Connor, Senior Director of Pastoral Services for the Diocese of Bridgeport.
“The Holy Father’s has sought support from the laity as their input is an extremely important part of this process in addition to those whose ministry involves evangelization of the family,” he said.
The questionnaire has been developed as part of the preparations for the 2014 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops that will explore pastoral challenges to the family in light of contemporary life and significant changes in the number of couples living together, use of birth control, and same sex marriages among other practices.
O’Connor said that questionnaire is not a public opinion survey or poll on contemporary issues, but a serious consultation document.
The papal consultation asks each diocese to answer 39 specific questions and gives individual Catholics the opportunity to answer the same questions. The responses will be collected and forwarded to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops before being sent to the Vatican.
Distribution of the questionnaire was approved at the recent United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Meeting this past week. Their goal is to compile all of the information nationally by the end of this calendar year.
English and Spanish versions of the questionnaire are available on line. Those who answer the questionnaire are also asked to read the Preparatory Document, a beautiful description of Marriage and Family, provided by the Holy See.
The Diocese has asked participants to submit responses via the link provided, by Wednesday, December 11, 2013.
NEW HAVEN—In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan—one of the strongest typhoons in history—which devastated the Philippines, the Knights of Columbus is donating $250,000 to assist in relief efforts in that country.
The New Haven-based Knights of Columbus has strong ties to the Philippines, where it has had a presence since 1905 and today counts hundreds of thousands of members.
“As we work to assist those who have suffered so much in the Philippines, they will also remain in our prayers,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “The Knights of Columbus has a long tradition of charitable service in the Philippines, and our efforts there on behalf of those affected will continue in that spirit. Locally and internationally, we are committed to helping the people of the Philippines rebuild their lives.”
Those seeking to assist with the relief efforts can donate to the Knights of Columbus Charities Philippine Disaster Relief Fund at www.kofc.org/disaster. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Knights of Columbus Charities, Inc., is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a charitable organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code, and 100 percent of all donations collected by Knights of Columbus Charities, Inc., will be used for disaster relief in the Philippines.
Founded in 1882 in New Haven, Conn., the Knights of Columbus is one of the most active charitable organizations in both the United States and the Philippines. Last year, Knights worldwide donated more than $167.5 million and 70 million hours to charitable causes — including donating substantial amounts of money and time to disaster relief following Hurricane Sandy; the explosion in West, Texas; and the Oklahoma tornadoes.
BRIDGEPORT—The Fourth Annual Veterans Day Mass and Ceremony was held at St. Margaret Shrine in Bridgeport on November 11.
Honored guests included American, South Vietnamese, and Italian veterans, Catholic War Veterans of Post 14666, Knights of Columbus Assembly 107 and Council 16, the South Vietnamese Community, and members of St. Margaret’s Holy Name Society, Padre Pio Society, and Altar Guild.
St. Margaret’s is an especially appropriate setting for the Veteran’s Day observance. The idea of St. Margaret Shrine came to Fr. Issiello, the pastor of St. Raphael Parish in Bridgeport, on December 8th 1941, the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He wanted to build a place for people to come to pray for their loved ones going off to war. After the war it became a place for veterans to come and reflect on their war time service, and the friends who never made it home.
Over the years, as those young men grew older, the Shrine began to show its age, too.
“Then came Fr. Alfonso Picone, who had been in the Italian Army Infantry before he became a priest,” says Art Falco, a U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War. Fr. Picone became rector of St. Margaret’s Shrine, which is now independent of St. Raphael’s.
Drawn to the Shrine’s great potential, Fr. Picone began to encourage parish and community groups to get involved in its restoration. Given the Shrine’s emphasis on World Peace, he encouraged communities from all of the area’s ethnic backgrounds to become involved by building memorials.
Along with the Italian Community (St/ Pio), he encouraged the South Vietnamese (Our Lady of La Vang), Portuguese (Our Lady of Fatima), Cubans (Our Lady of Charity), and Mexicans (Our Lady of Guadalupe) to construct memorials honoring the faith of their home countries. The Bridgeport Area Cultural Italian Organization, under the leadership of former Mayor Leonard Paoletta, is presently constructing an indoor “Presepio” or Nativity Scene. Each community with a memorial is represented by their flag at the entrance to the Shrine. There is room to add additional flagpoles for memorials constructed in the future.
In 2009, under Fr. Alfonso’s leadership, the Veteran’s Memorial was built. In 2010 when the memorial was dedicated, the names of 63 veterans who had bricks donated in their honor were read at Mass. “Since then, the names of the new veterans added are read at Mass every Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day,” says Falco, who was in charge of this year’s ceremony.
There are now individual bricks with the names of 173 veterans, living and deceased. Along with veterans from this diocese, veterans from at least four different states—New Hampshire, Ohio, Indiana, and Colorado—and three different countries are represented. Included are five Catholic Chaplains’ who were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Among the South Vietnamese Veterans are the former president and presidential advisor of South Vietnam, and five South Vietnamese generals.
“The Veteran’s Memorial is a special place for South Vietnamese veterans,” says Angelo Coco, a parishioner at St. Margaret’s who helps out at the ceremony every year. “They have nowhere else to honor their dead. They can’t have a memorial in their own country. The Communist Government, which also persecutes Catholics, won’t allow it.”
The memorial is also special for families of U.S. veterans who were MIA, and lost or buried at sea. Since their families don’t have a cemetery to go to, the memorial provides a place where they can come and feel closer to their loved ones.
The celebrant for the Mass was Fr. Picone. The lector was Walter Stasch, a World War II Vet, and former National Commander of the Catholic War Veterans. The homily was given by Deacon Joe Melita, a World War II veteran who served on a bomber crew. Deacon Melita participated in a radar jamming mission on D-Day, and was on one of the first planes to fly over the beaches of Normandy France.
“It’s hard to put all the sacrifices the veterans made into three lines on a brick, so a little bit more about each veteran is read at Mass.” Falco adds.
At the end of Mass, the names of veterans added to the memorial since Memorial Day were read. The names of three new South Vietnamese veterans and those veterans previously installed were read by Gioi Van Tran, president of the Vietnamese American Community of Connecticut and the leader of the South Vietnamese Veterans Honor Guard. The seven U.S. veterans’ names, including Fr. Emil J. Kapaun, awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, posthumously, for his actions in combat and as a prisoner of war during the Korean War, were read by Falco.
After the Mass, the Knights of Columbus Color Corps placed a wreath and Fr. Picone blessed the memorial. The National Anthems and Taps from the three countries were played, followed by Ave Maria on bagpipes.
This Year’s Inductees Are:
Lt. Cao Xuan Ton, S. Vietnamese Army, 1946-1971 An Xuyen
Sgt. Tran Van Nhan, S. Vietnamese Army, 1934-1968 Hue
Sgt. Tran Than, S. Vietnamese Army, 1902-1985 Saigon
James J. Carrano, Sgt. U.S. Army, WWII Purple Heart
Tony Carrano, SPEC 4 U.S. Army, WWII Europe
Richard G. Becker, Petty Officer U.S.N., served 1965-1986
Michael W. Mason, TSGT USAF 40 AARS, UDORN AFB, Thailand 68-69
Mathew Cuminotto Jr., Army Medic 1st CAV, Vietnam 1966-1967
Arthur A. Fionte, PFC U.S. Army WWII, Purple Heart
Thomas L. Kabusk, Sgt. U.S. Marine Corps, Korean War 1951-54
Fr. Emil J. Kapaun, Captain U.S. Army, Medal Of Honor, Korea 1950 (POW)
(Applications for donating bricks honoring a veteran, living or deceased, can be obtained in the front entrance of the St Margaret Chapel, 2523 Park Ave., Bridgeport, or by calling 203.345.3244.)
New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan applauds the election
of Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., as the next
president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops November 12
in Baltimore. Archbishop Kurtz will assume the presidency from
Cardinal Dolan at the end of the U.S. bishops’ annual fall meeting.
NEW YORK—Catholics and their leaders around the world are seeing the impact of what's being called "the Pope Francis effect."
St. Peter's Square is more packed than ever for the pope's weekly appearances and priests say there is a surge of parishioners in the pews, because of the pope's actions.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, told the "CBS This Morning" co-hosts that he sees "the Pope Francis effect" "all the time."
"I can't walk down the streets of our beloved New York without people coming up to me and saying 'Hey, thanks for Pope Francis. You guys did a good job. We love him,'" he said. "I hear from our parish priests, who are always on the front line, they're telling me the crowds at Sunday mass are up, the confession lines are longer, inquiries about the Catholic faith are more abundant and even the collections are going up."
The pope sent a survey to the world's one billion Catholics and asked them for their opinions on many issues including same sex marriage, contraception and divorce. To many, this was seen as unusual to ask for opinions on already supposedly clear church doctrine. Dolan said while the church doctrine is clear on these issues, the pope was asking his followers how the church can be "better."
"What he's asking about is how can we present it better? How can we be more effective at teaching? And how can we reach out with love and compassion to those who find it difficult to live up to church teaching?" he said.
Dolan said that this survey is in preparation for the Synod. A Synod is usually held every two or three years and representatives of the bishops gather with the pope to discuss church issues. Dolan said that this year's meeting will focus on "marriage and family."
"Pope Francis is shrewd—he said that 'the people that know about marriage and family best are—guess who? Husbands and wives, mothers and fathers,'" he said. "So he said to the bishops: 'It's a wise idea to ask them how the church can be more compelling in it's beautiful liberating teaching about the married life and family and it's good to ask them how we can best reach those people that are having trouble accepting the timeless teaching of the faith.' He's a shrewd teacher himself and I'm glad he's done this."
When asked, Dolan said that he "would like to think" that his God sent Pope Francis because he was worried about the church.
"God is always concerned about his church as he was concerned about the people of Israel, who are our forefathers in the faith and I'd like to say every pope, lord knows the ones I can remember ... all of them are gifts, all of them are gifts from God as a sign to the church," he said.
The pope has also said that he wants a greater role for women in the church and that has sparked the idea that he could select a female cardinal. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville told the "CBS This Morning" co-hosts that how women will be incorporated into the church has yet to be determined.
"The Holy Father has made it clear that we need to expand our gratitude for and our awareness of the great gifts of women within the church," said Kurtz. "How that's going to play out, we're still at the early stages of it, but certainly there's going to be - I can't help but believe at the Synod there's going to be a presence. I don't think there's been any structural changes mentioned now, but I think our Holy Father is intent."
"CBS This Morning" co-host Charlie Rose asked Kurtz how he sees the pope's challenge to "warm hearts and heal wounds." Kurtz said that he believes the mandate to be "see the person first and accompany that person."
"The way we warm hearts and heal wounds is first by acknowledging the person in front of us and hasn't our holy father done that? I think all the photographs and videos and YouTube and all the different ways in which people are seeing the pope is that he's not just saying it, he is accompanying people," said Kurtz. "People are, let's say, taken by that because we all want to be acknowledged, we want to be loved and to belong and there's a place in the church for everyone and so it's a great message of the new evangelize. I'm thrilled."
Steve Cavallo met his wife, Diane Parker '65,
at Notre Dame.
FAIRFIELD—Students from Notre Dame High School participated in a Veteran's Day prayer service held in the chapel of Sacred Heart University.
In addition to hearing from Steve Cavallo '65, a Vietnam veteran, students including Dy-Mond LeRoy '14 and Jillian Gelmetti '14 remembered by name about 70 other graduates who have served/are serving in the armed forces.
In addition, the prayer service honored five Notre Dame grads killed in action: George Richard Fitzgerald, Class of 1961, from Bridgeport, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, who died in combat on September 17, 1966, while serving in Vietnam; Russell Thomas Fant, Class of 1966, from Bridgeport, a member of the U.S. Army, who died in combat on February 3, 1969, while serving in Vietnam; Thomas John Bowe, Class of 1965, from Stratford, a member of the U.S. Army, who died in combat on March 8, 1969, while serving in Vietnam; Jack Richard DaCosta, Class of 1966, from Bridgeport, a member of the US Army, who died in combat on December 2, 1969, while serving in Vietnam; and Thomas Brown, Class of 2000, from Shelton, a member of the US Army, who died in combat on September 23, 2008, while serving in Iraq.
Keynote speaker Kathy Kelly-Brown addressing students and fathers. Photo by Photography Lisa Garcia
MILFORD—A crowd of over 200 fathers and daughters were in attendance on Sunday, November 3 at the McAuley Parents Association’s (MPA) annual Father-Daughter Brunch and prayer service.
The event is held annually as a way to bring father and father figures together with their Lauralton daughters. The day’s events included a prayer service with a special father daughter blessing in the chapel followed by a gourmet brunch and the ever popular raffle. The highlight of this year’s event was a presentation by keynote speaker Kathy Kelly-Brown, a Lauralton alumna from the class of 1982. Kelly-Brown is Senior Vice President, Communications, NBCUniversal News Group.
Kelly-Brown opened her remarks by discussing her arrival in 1978 as a freshman and how she was anything but pleased. She was not fond of the idea of an all-girls high school or the proper blue uniform. Her reason for being there—her father. Before too long she found her groove at Lauralton and the place started to grow on her. The years were filled with many laughs, triumphs, dear memories and friends that she still holds close to her heart. Sadly, Kelly-Brown lost her father right before the start of senior year. “The school my father had wanted me to go to so badly wound up being a great source of comfort after he passed away. My friends were there for me and the rituals we formed over the years together brought me much peace and happiness as we began that last year together at Lauralton.”
She gave words of advice to today’s students on how her own experiences at Lauralton helped empower her throughout the course of her career and personal life. Kelly-Brown took risks in her career because she wasn’t afraid to speak up; this is what defined her success. This is a lesson her teachers instilled in her during her high school years. She started as an intern at NBC and continued to climb the corporate ladder which led to successful positions at NBC and Warner Bros. Television.
“Though I wouldn’t realize it until many years later, there were some key things that my four years at Lauralton taught me that have helped throughout the course of my career and in my personal life” she stated. Kelly-Brown then offered the advice of: know the value of friendship, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone, speak up! and lastly, “never forget…you are and always will be a Lauralton lady.” Another important fact that Kelly-Brown mentioned to the crowd—Your dad is always right!
After years at NBC in California, Kelly-Brown decided it was time to come home, where she found her current position at NBCUniversal News Group. The day she interviewed with the company’s CEO, the first words out of his mouth upon reviewing her resume were “Lauralton Hall”, Kelly-Brown found out he sent his son to Fairfield Prep and was familiar with Lauralton, “I am indeed a Lauralton lady” she replied. It was from that point on that Kelly-Brown felt she had landed the job and that her father was watching from above thinking “I told you so.” The speech ended with Kelly-Brown advising the crowd that you never know when being a Lauralton lady will come in handy.
VATICAN CITY (CNS)—Pope Francis led prayers for people hit by a deadly typhoon in the Philippines and surrounding region, and asked that concrete aid be sent soon.
During the Angelus with pilgrims in St. Peter's Square November 10, the pope expressed his concern and prayers for the estimated tens of thousands of people dead and others affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated parts of the central Philippines November 8.
"I wish to express my closeness to the people of the Philippines and that region that has been hit by a terrible typhoon. Unfortunately the victims are many and the damage is enormous," he said.
He asked the tens of thousands of people gathered in the square to join him in a moment of silent prayer "for these brothers and sisters and let's try also to make our concrete help reach them."
In response to the tragedy, Pope Francis made an initial donation of $150,000 for the relief efforts through the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. The money, sent through the local churches hardest hit by the storm, was earmarked to support "assistance for the displaced and those impacted by the flooding," the Vatican said in a written statement.
The Pope also sent a telegram to Philippine President Benigno Aquino saying he was "deeply pained by the destruction and loss of human lives." In the message, he also encouraged civil authorities and rescue workers in their efforts and prayed that God would offer "the nation strength and consolation."
Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based confederation of humanitarian agencies of the Catholic Church, reported Nov. 11 that more than 9.5 million people are in need of aid and 600,000 people have been forced from their homes. Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines, said, "Despite the precautions, this was beyond all expectations. We couldn't image a storm of this size hitting the Philippines."
Representatives from Caritas Philippines and the U.S. bishops' Catholic Relief Service reached Leyte by boat Nov. 10 to assess the most urgent needs, Caritas reported.
Gariguez said: "The casualties are increasing day by day. There are dead bodies everywhere. People are traumatized. The most urgent needs are for food and water."
Caritas Philippines said it was also concerned about the situation on the islands that had not yet been able to reach. Caritas and CRS said the most urgent priorities were emergency shelter, water and sanitation, household items like blankets, kitchen and cookware, potable water and toilets.
"We really need all the help we can get," Gariguez said. "This is a catastrophe."