Currabawn:
Sound thinking
and Spirituality

A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna

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The Gift of Tears

A snake in the path

Is genuflecting charitable?

Andrew Masi and Ministry of Presence

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


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

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


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




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

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

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

To send Bishop Frank a message go to: www.facebook.com/BishopCaggiano or twitter.com/BishopCaggiano

 

Further Reflection on Lourdes

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

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

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


Serra Club encourages vocations
| April 29, 2015


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FAIRFIELD—The Serra Club, an international organization dedicated to promoting and nurturing vocations to the priesthood and religious life, has a new chapter. On April 28 in the Mary Mother of God Chapel at St. Pius X Parish, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano formally chartered the Serra Club of Bridgeport in a Mass and reception.



(Photo by John Grosso)


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

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

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

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

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


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


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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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






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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lourdes. The Rosary. And the gift of tears.

Pray the Rosary!

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


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FAIRFIELD—Each year St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School hosts an annual Art Show. Our talented Art Teacher, Ms. Bonnie Bello, organizes a school-wide Art Show. You can imagine that this is no small undertaking. During an art class Ms. Bello introduces an artist and his or her unique technique and style.








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


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


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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Article from CT Post)


A taste of Alpha!
| April 24, 2015


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




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


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


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




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

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


World Youth Day 2016
| April 24, 2015


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Peace be with you.”

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


Working with God
| April 23, 2015


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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




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


Diocese names director
| April 22, 2015


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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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







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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There have been 151 visit(s) to this blog post.

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


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




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


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


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




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

Students can come to any audition site (see "read more").

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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




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

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


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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There have been 222 visit(s) to this blog post.

Here I am Lord
| April 15, 2015


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




It was produced for the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC), an exciting, biennial three-day experience of prayer, community, and empowerment for Catholic teenagers and their adult chaperones. The schedule includes keynote addresses, concurrent and workshop sessions addressing a wide variety of topics. There are also opportunities for liturgy, reconciliation, prayer and worship, service, and special activities such as concerts, exhibits, and the interactive thematic park. In 2013, Bishop Caggiano was appointed Episcopal Advisor of the NCYC.

To watch, click this link


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


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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View slideshow (pictures by Michelle Babyak)

Listen to the White Mass Keynote speaker

Listen to the White Mass Homily


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


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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Busy Weekend for Synod Delegates
| April 09, 2015


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




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


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


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Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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





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


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



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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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



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


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

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


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


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



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


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

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


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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There have been 508 visit(s) to this blog post.

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


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





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

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

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

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

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


Easter Message from Bishop Caggiano
| April 04, 2015


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Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano,
Bishop of Bridgeport


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




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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for a slideshow from the Easter Vigil


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


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




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

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

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

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

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

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

See slideshow from last year's Easter Vigil


Stations of the cross photos
| April 03, 2015


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




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

Slideshow Set 1, pictures by Sharon Macknight

Slideshow Set 2, pictures by Amy Mortensen


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


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




However, there is a way to reflect upon the Cross that you can do anytime of the day, as long as you have time alone to reflect. It is allowing the very image of the cross to help explain its meaning. More specifically, the two physical wooden beams that form the Cross can each teach us an important lesson about the meaning of what happened on Good Friday.

The Cross is made up of two wooden beams: one vertical that was driven into the ground and the other that was affixed horizontally and upon which the body of the Lord Jesus was first nailed before being lifted in place. Each of these beams point in a different direction: one is vertical and the other is horizontal. Each can teach us a profound lesson of the meaning of Jesus’ death.

Let us begin with the vertical. It literally points to heaven, reminding us that the free sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the Cross was not a noble sacrifice of some hero or prophet. Rather, it was the self-offering of the Son of God for the forgiveness of all sins and the salvation of all humanity. It points to heaven to remind us that the Cross is the entry door to eternal life, opened up for us by God Himself made flesh in Jesus.

For those who were actually present at the Lord’s crucifixion, they needed to look up to see Jesus, so high above them was he lifted upon the cross. As we prepare for Good Friday, we too should never tire looking up, since by His death, the Lord has lifted us up to eternal life.

The other beam of the cross is horizontal, keeping open the arms of the Lord when he was nailed to its wood. The fact that Lord’s arms were opened up so broadly teaches us the second great lesson of the Cross. For as the vertical beam reminds us of the divine gift that we receive in the death of Jesus, namely the offer of eternal life, the horizontal beam reminds us for whom the Lord Jesus died.

In the Gospel Jesus says, “And when I am lifted up, I will draw all people to myself.” The horizontal beam reminds us that Jesus died to save all people. His embrace upon the cross is wide because he invites everyone to enter his embrace: saints and sinners, rich and poor, young and old. The gift of eternal life that was won on the Cross is a gift that Jesus wishes to offer to everyone who is willing to accept it. His love is for everyone. His forgiveness is offered to all who turn to him.


Good Friday Observances
| April 03, 2015


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BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank Caggiano will lead the Good Friday services today beginning at 10:00 am with the Stations of the Cross at St. Mary Church, Stamford, and at 3:00 pm with the Celebration of the Lord's Passion at 3:00 pm at St. Joseph Church, Danbury.




The solemn ceremonies of Good Friday focus on the “Cross of Calvary” and include the Adoration of the Cross, the chanting of the 'Reproaches', the reading of the Passion, and the receiving the pre-consecrated Host.

“On this most sacred day, when the Lord Jesus freely gave himself into the hands of those who beat, scourged, mocked and crucified Him, Love Himself conquered evil, sin, hatred and death. The power of the Evil One was revealed for what it truly is- a complete lie. And the Lord Jesus endured His Suffering and Death to set you and me free. This day is truly good for us because our eternal salvation has been won forever,” said Bishop Caggiano in his Good Friday message.

“His embrace upon the cross is wide because he invites everyone to enter his embrace: saints and sinners, rich and poor, young and old. The gift of eternal life that was won on the Cross is a gift that Jesus wishes to offer to everyone who is willing to accept it. His love is for everyone. His forgiveness is offered to all who turn to him,” said the Bishop.

During services today, the altar is bare, with the door of the empty tabernacle standing open as if in mourning.

The Bishop will also celebrate the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday April 4, 8 pm St. Augustine Cathedral. For information on Good Friday and Easter services in parishes throughout the Diocese, download the new diocesan APP from the Apple store or visit the Find a Parish section at bridgeportdiocese.com

Click to read Bishop Caggiano's 'Reflection on the Cross'


Tonight we enter into the upper room with Jesus
| April 03, 2015


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BRIDGEPORT—Holy Thursday is all about the gift of the Eucharist at the Last Supper and it’s also the only day of the year when the tabernacle is emptied and left open, said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in his homily tonight at St. Augustine Cathedral.




“Tonight we enter into the upper room with Jesus and celebrate the great gift he gave to his apostles,” he said to more than 700 individuals and families who filled the downtown Cathedral to celebrate one of the holiest nights in the Church.

The Bishop called upon the faithful to “recommit to live lives of generosity and of love for the stranger and even for our enemies.”

The Bishop said that “in walking with Christ,” we are like the Israelites in the desert who hungered for manna, just as we hunger for the Eucharist. He urged those present to “never take it for granted.”

“The Church asks us to reflect on the gift of the Eucharist, what is calls us to be and what it challenges us to do,” he said.

In a moving and dramatic moment the Bishop washed the feet of eight men and women parishioners of all ages at the foot of the altar, while the faithful watched in silence.

“We are called to do what the Lord did, to give our life in service and in love for one another as he did,” said the Bishop.
 

Noting that the Eucharist is an invitation “to share a meal,” the Bishop said ,“The Lord asks us to become what we will receive. We are the body of Christ, the presence of Christ in this world. The Lord asks us to receive it so we can become more and more his presence in a wanting world,”

The prayer intentions were read in English, Spanish and Vietnamese, reflecting the diversity of the parish and of the Diocese, which number 400,000 Catholics throughout Fairfield County. In the intentions the faithful prayed for vocations and for all those who are poor, suffering and in danger.

In the sanctuary, the Crucifix over the altar and the statues were draped and veiled in purple. During the offertory, parishioners brought up the oils of catechumens and the chrism that was blessed at the Chrism Mass on Wednesday.

After the Mass was over the Bishop invited the congregation to join him in adoration at the foot of the altar. The Cathedral will be open to midnight for adoration.

Click here to see a slideshow


40 Days for Life Bridgeport Committee and Respect Life Friends gather
| April 03, 2015


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BRIDGEPORT—40 Days for Life Bridgeport Committee and Respect Life Friends gather outside the local abortion clinic in Bridgeport this morning for Stations of the Cross.




Thanks to Fr. Gannon, Deacon Foust for leading the Stations and Lucia Palmieri leading us in song. Thanks also to George Meagher, Fred Cobb and Christine Murphy from the local 40 Days for Life Committee in organizing this.


Students stage Passion Play at St. Andrew Academy
| April 02, 2015


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BRIDGEPORT—The students at St. Andrew Academy reenacted the events of Holy Week with a Passion Play.




The youngsters made the events of Jesus’ suffering, death, and triumph come alive for the entire school. Many thanks to Mrs. Bues and Mrs. Bode—your direction was awesome! Thank you, also, to Mr. Brown; the music was great!

To view more photos click here


Bishop Caggiano to celebrate Mass of the Lord’s Supper tonight at the Cathedral
| April 02, 2015


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BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the principal celebrant of the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper this evening, 8 pm at St. Augustine Cathedral, 399 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport.




Holy Thursday is one of the most beautiful and profound of all religious observances, saving only the Easter Vigil.

It celebrates both the institution by Christ himself of the Eucharist and of the institution of the sacerdotal priesthood (as distinct from the ‘priesthood of all believers’) at the Last Supper.

“On Holy Thursday, we celebrate the gift of the Holy Eucharist given to us by the Lord Jesus at the Last Supper. How blessed are we to be able to receive Christ’s Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity each time we come to Mass! Is there any greater testimony of the Father’s love for us in allowing us to receive His only Begotten Son so personally and intimately every day?” said Bishop Caggiano.

The Bishop said the Holy Thursday Mass stresses the importance Jesus puts on the humility of service, and the need for cleansing with water, a symbol of baptism. Also emphasized are the critical importance of the Eucharist and the sacrifice of Christ’s Body, which we now find present in the consecrated Host.

“On this special day, let us recall the need to receive the Eucharist worthily each time we come to Mass. This means not simply to be free from grave sin but it also demands that we are both prepared and focused upon what is happening and Who are receiving. In a world that is full of distractions and “noise”, we need to approach the Eucharist fully mindful of the encounter we are having with Christ,” the Bishop said.
 
“When we receive Holy Communion and say “Amen”, may it mean for us “I welcome you Lord Jesus into my heart, my mind, my soul and my entire life. I am yours.” The Holy Thursday liturgy includes the dramatic stripping and washing of the altar by the priest. During the Mass, Bishop Caggiano will perform the symbolic foot washing in memory of Christ’s washing the feet of his twelve Apostles.

Tomorrow (April 3), Bishop Caggiano will lead the Good Friday Stations of the Cross at 10:00 am at St. Mary Church, Stamford, and a Celebration of the Lord's Passion at 3:00 pm at St. Joseph Church, Danbury. He will also celebrate the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday April 4, 8 pm at St. Augustine Cathedral.


Chrism Mass seals gift of divine friendship
| April 01, 2015


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BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank Caggiano gave his priests two challenges at the Chrism Mass this afternoon, find more time for prayer in their lives and grow closer together as friends and brothers in Christ.

View slideshow from the Chrism Mass





More than 600 priests, deacons and faithful gathered for the annual Chrism Mass in which priests renew their promises and the Blessing of the Oil of the catechumens and the consecration of the chrism.

The holy oils that are used throughout the year in baptisms, confirmations and anointing are blessed on the altar.

"Become an intentional priesthood," he said. "Make the intentional choice to stand shoulder as brothers. Forgive and love one another and come to know Christ better."

The bishop also said that prayer is the foundation of the priesthood and said that priests should never be too busy for prayer.

"If we're living in a house without Christ, it's a waste of time. It will not stand," he said.

The bishop said the Chrism Mass "celebrates the great gift of Divine friendship with the one true God who dwells within you and me."

Under a strong sun and cool April air, the priests and deacons processed into St. Augustine Cathedral for the Mass with drivers in the busy traffic out front slowing down to watch.

The bishop told priests that they have the gratitude of Catholics throughout the diocese "who give thanks for your deep generosity and selfless service, for your joining with people whose hearts are sometimes broken."


The Real Enemy of Joy: Selfishness
| April 01, 2015 • by By Father Paul Check


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NORWALK—Commentary: Have we as a society lost sight of a Teacher whose words and actions mark a path for joy and fulfillment of the human heart that never fails?




For many people, ours is a joyless society for want of good relationships. There is a great deal of physical intimacy today.

But there is also a terrible plague of loneliness, regret and unfulfilled hearts, afflicting many of those who are physically intimate with another person, and sometimes with several other people.

Is this a coincidence? Is there a remedy?

I distinguish joy from things that eventually fade like pleasure, distraction or amusement. By “joy,” I mean something that enlivens the heart and enlightens the mind and that brings a deep and lasting sense of fulfillment. While joy bears some relation to the material or external conditions in which we live, it is not reducible to them. People can lack nothing materially and still lack joy. And I grant that in what Christians call a “fallen world”—an imperfect place with imperfect inhabitants—there will always be some measure of pain alongside the joy.

Paradoxically, then, pain is not really the contrary of joy, as the lives of many heroic men and women in this fallen world testify.

That everyone desires joy will not be controversial. Why many do not find it could be. If you believe man has a soul—an organizing spiritual principle, let’s call it, for human activity—then you will give one solution to the problem. If you don’t, then you will give another.

The question of why joy is missing could seem complex. To be fair to individual people, we should not abruptly drop a template on their lives to resolve the matter. Yet Pope Francis describes the effects of a lack of joy as sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. Are these symptoms not common, even among those who seem to live busy, “full” lives? In a spirit of compassion, can anything be done to alleviate these troubles?

If she is to be faithful to her founder, the Pope tells us, then the Church—Christians—must undertake an earnest mission to foster and share joy. “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete,” said Jesus Christ (John 15:11). The proclamation of the kingdom of heaven is the sharing of God’s joy by his Son, in some measure in this life and in the fullness of the life to come. From the Christian standpoint, the human soul is made for joy, for the “good news” the Gospel proposes.

The Gospel distinguishes the pain we suffer through no fault of our own, from the pain we inflict morally, and even physically, upon ourselves. The Church offers meaning to the former by holding up the cross of Christ. She offers relief for the latter—let’s call it sin—by God’s mercy, even as she urges us to avoid self-inflicted wounds. In both cases, she carries out her mission to protect and promote the joy of Jesus Christ.

For Christians, Jesus is Lord. But even those who don’t believe Jesus is who he claims to be recognize the quality of his moral teaching and of his moral character. He was generous-hearted, self-effacing and self-forgetful and thoughtful and practical in his help and counsel … in a word (or two): self-giving. He did not just give assistance to individual people, he gave himself to them … in his time and affection … and, finally, he gave himself for them, at Calvary, so that they could have eternal life. And Christians believe that, his passion and cross notwithstanding, Jesus lived an intensely happy, fulfilled, joyful human life. He came to share what was his: “… that my joy may be in you …”

So here is how I might summarize the path to joy, after the example of the God-Man: Joy comes from giving life by giving self. By “giving life,” I do not mean exclusively in the sense of begetting a new human being, though I am certainly including that. To give life can take many forms, if we understand it to mean building up someone in truth and love.

Even if we do not immediately see the connection between joy and self-giving, we do know that we admire people in proportion to the extent that they give themselves, especially at the cost of much personal sacrifice. So can it be that what we admire indicates what we would like to see in ourselves and, so in turn, how we find fulfillment? If these things are true, then the real enemy of joy is not pain — which may accompany self-giving—but selfishness, something we certainly do not admire in ourselves or in others.

This is why the Church describes unchaste behavior of any kind—contraception, masturbation, homosexual activity—as selfish, because something is missing or misdirected with regard to self-giving. Nor can these things give life, in either the general sense or the more obvious one.

For these reasons, the intensity of personal feelings or sensations aside, these actions are ultimately unfulfilling, even when they occur between two people who love each other.

Experience tells us that what we feel at a given moment may not prove to be good for us and indeed may harm us. Have we lost sight of a Teacher whose words and actions mark a path for joy and fulfillment of the human heart that never fails?

Father Paul Check is the executive director of Courage International.

Reprinted from the National Catholic Register


Immaculate freshman wins Club Z! achievement award
| March 31, 2015


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DANBURY—The results are in and the local Club Z! In-Home Tutoring Annual Achievement Award turned out to be a huge success!





Students from all backgrounds and with all level of skills and abilities had the opportunity to showcase their individual talents in an attempt to win over $10,000 in scholarship prizes. A fantastic effort was made by all applicants and winners were ultimately chosen on National and Local levels.

Local student Kelly Cordova, a freshman at Immaculate High School, was selected as a Fairfield County Award Winner. Kelly will be presented with a cash prize of $100 to award her winning endeavor.

Open to students with all levels of talents and abilities, the Club Z! Annual Achievement Award is awarded to students nationwide twice each year, in Fall and again in Spring, and has something to offer for all students in grades 5 through 12. Whether a student is a steadfast scholar or has shown steady improvement, a helper in the classroom or a leader on the field, can write a thoughtful essay or is a math whiz, the Club Z! Annual Achievement Award has something for all.

Cash scholarship awards totaling $10,000 will be presented to winning applicants nationwide at their schools. Winning entries are judged based on performance, service, merit and achievement. Students are encouraged to apply for the Spring Award period before the deadline of April 1. Nominations for the Spring Award are now being accepted on line at www.clubzaward.com or through Area Director Deborah Frati at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


New England Girls Champs!
| March 31, 2015


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FAIRFIELD—St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School JV Girls Basketball team won the C.Y.O. New England Championship on March 29. 




Congratulations to team members (l-r) Caitlin May, Anna Paulmann, Scarlett Rollins, Lauren Herley, Clare McCurley, Elizabeth Crager, Maeve Malloy, Grace Hyland, Isadora Siguenza and Shannon Redgate. Coaches (l-r): Fred Paulmann, Sean Malloy and head coach Dave Hyland


World-wide Knowledge
| March 31, 2015


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DANBURY—Knights of Columbus McGivney Council #29 in Danbury held its Fifth Annual Regional Catholic Geography Bee on March 28, with 19 students representing eight schools (Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton, St. Mary in Ridgefield, St. Joseph in Danbury, St. Peter in Danbury, St. Gregory the Great in Danbury, St. Mary in Bethel, St. Joseph in Brookfield, and St. Rose of Lima in Newtown).



Cameron Reichenbach about to receive his third-place awards
from ((l-r) Burns, Stockmann, Lanni, and. On right is John Pitrelli,
Geography Bee Chairman, Knights of Columbus McGivney
Council #29 in Danbury.


Peter Burg, Charlie Stuhr, Cameron Reichenbach


The Knights, and two representatives from Immaculate High School had a blast celebrating their accomplishments!

Reggie Stuhr, in Grade 6 at St. Mary School in Ridgefield, won the bee by applying his knowledge of Bangkok, Manila, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua in the 11th and final elimination round, after advancing to that point by answering questions about the Kilauea volcano, the Mediterranean Sea, and Liberia among others.

Peter Burg, in Grade 6 at St. Gregory the Great School in Danbury, achieved second place answering questions ranging from the Great Lakes to Indonesia.

Cameron Reichenbach, in Grade 6 at St. Rose of Lima School in Newtown, won the third-place award with his knowledge spanning from Pearl Harbor to Sri Lanka.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Celebrating the Fraternas
| March 31, 2015


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The Marian Community of Reconciliation (MCR), commonly known as the Fraternas, celebrated the 24th anniversary of their founding with a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Trumbull on Wednesday, March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano was principal celebrant and Father Joseph Marcello, pastor of St. Catherine’s, was the homilist. About 100 congregants attended the special 7:00 pm Mass.







The Fraternas were founded in Lima, Peru, with a charism to imitate the virtues of Our Blessed Mother and to evangelize the culture in which they serve, with a special outreach to youth. MCR is a missionary order, and in less than 25 years, it serves the universal Church on four continents. Presently, in addition to their work around the world, Fraternas serve in four dioceses in the United States, and have been working in the Diocese of Bridgeport since 2005.

As he began the anniversary Mass, Bishop Caggiano asked God to “bless the Fraternas here in this diocese and throughout the world.”

It is fitting that the Fraternas were founded on the Feast of the Annunciation. Like Jesus, they took flesh and became present in the world. As Jesus was sent, and as the Archangel Gabriel was sent to Mary, so too the Fraternas have been sent by God to evangelize the world. Their growth and success confirm God’s blessing.

Ironically, as Father Marcello illustrated, March 25 is also the birthday of one of the great saints of the Church, St. Catherine of Siena. In a church named in her honor, Father Marcello drew comparisons between St. Catherine and the charism of the Fraternas. Like St. Catherine, Father Marcello said that the Fraternas “serve those who are searching for Jesus Christ.” Their devotion to Our Blessed Mother, symbolized by the distinctive Cross they wear, helps them to mirror “Mary’s joyful ‘yes’ to the Word of God.” Speaking directly to the Fraternas gathered at the Mass, Father Marcello said, “May your ‘yes’ be the instrument for the salvation of many souls and help set the world on fire with God’s grace.”

During the prayers of the faithful, the congregation prayed together that “the members of the Fraternas may be women of prayer and humility.”

After Communion, Bishop Caggiano addressed the Fraternas directly and said, “Your gentle, faithful and joyful spirit is like leaven,” adding that the Fraternas have “made a tremendous difference in the lives of many people in the Diocese of Bridgeport."

Before the final blessing, Bishop Caggiano reminded everyone that next year will be a much grander event, when the Fraternas celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of their order.

After Mass, all were invited to a light reception in the church hall.

(More information about MCR can be found at www.fraternas.org).

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

Celebrating the Fraternas
| March 31, 2015 • by By Father Colin McKenna


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TRUMBULL—The Marian Community of Reconciliation (MCR), commonly known as the Fraternas, celebrated the 24th anniversary of their founding with a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Catherine of Siena Church on Wednesday, March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation.






Bishop Frank J. Caggiano was principal celebrant and Father Joseph Marcello, pastor of St. Catherine’s, was the homilist.

About 100 congregants attended the special 7:00 pm Mass.

The Fraternas were founded in Lima, Peru, with a charism to imitate the virtues of Our Blessed Mother and to evangelize the culture in which they serve, with a special outreach to youth. MCR is a missionary order, and in less than 25 years, it serves the universal Church on four continents. Presently, in addition to their work around the world, Fraternas serve in four dioceses in the United States, and have been working in the Diocese of Bridgeport since 2005.

As he began the anniversary Mass, Bishop Caggiano asked God to “bless the Fraternas here in this diocese and throughout the world.”

It is fitting that the Fraternas were founded on the Feast of the Annunciation. Like Jesus, they took flesh and became present in the world. As Jesus was sent, and as the Archangel Gabriel was sent to Mary, so too the Fraternas have been sent by God to evangelize the world. Their growth and success confirm God’s blessing.

Ironically, as Father Marcello illustrated, March 25 is also the birthday of St. Catherine of Siena, a great saint of the Church. In a church named in her honor, Father Marcello drew comparisons between St. Catherine and the charism of the Fraternas. Like St. Catherine, Father Marcello said that the Fraternas “serve those who are searching for Jesus Christ.” Their devotion to Our Blessed Mother, symbolized by the distinctive Cross they wear, helps them to mirror “Mary’s joyful ‘yes’ to the Word of God.” Speaking directly to the Fraternas gathered at the Mass, Father Marcello said, “May your ‘yes’ be the instrument for the salvation of many souls and help set the world on fire with God’s grace.”

During the prayers of the faithful, the congregation prayed together that “the members of the Fraternas may be women of prayer and humility.”

After Communion, Bishop Caggiano addressed the Fraternas directly and said, “Your gentle, faithful and joyful spirit is like leaven,” adding that the Fraternas have “made a tremendous difference in the lives of many people in the Diocese of Bridgeport.”

Before the final blessing, Bishop Caggiano reminded everyone that next year will be a much grander event, when the Fraternas celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of their order.

After Mass, all were invited to a light reception in the church hall.

(More information about MCR can be found at www.fraternas.org).


St. Matthew Knights of Columbus Bring New Meaning to Outreach Week!
| March 31, 2015


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NORWALK—As the Knights of Saint Matthew Church celebrated their Orderwide Outreach Week; one of the Diocese of Bridgeport’s most active councils inspired many thru a variety of projects all designed to help those in desperate need.







St. Matthew Council #14360 in Norwalk had it’s most active week in the seven and a half year history of the Council!

“It’s amazing what can be accomplished when we all work together for the common good. From fundraising activities to painting and positioning church pews; Knights demonstrated a new meaning of “faith in action!” There truly are no “little projects” when it comes to helping those in need,” said Grand Knight George Ribellino.

On Saturday, March 21st, the council hosted its 6th Annual St. Patrick’s Day dinner. This annual fundraiser nets the largest donations of the liturgical year. Thanks to the generosity of both council members and St. Matthew Parish family, over $4,000 was raised for their charitable fund. These funds are used to help a wide variety of charitable causes in the greater Norwalk area including Malta House and Homes for the Brave. “I have to thank our wonderful parishioners and guests who made this such a wonderful, fun event,” said event co-chairman and Deputy Grand Knight Scott Criscuolo.

On Sunday March 22nd and in honor of Founder’s Month, the council held a commemorative Mass and refreshments at St. Matthew’s Church to honor the venerable Fr. Michael McGivney on the 133rd birthday of the Order.

As part of our normal bi-weekly business meeting on Wednesday March 25th, the council made a substantial donation and held a collection of items for St. Matthew’s Food Pantry. As we enter the Easter season; we had learned that the pantry was in desperate need of supplies. “I’m proud and inspired by the tremendous spirit of giving that my brother Knights exhibited and for their generosity in helping families in need,” said past Grand Knight and committee chairman Mike Colaluca.
 
During the weekend of March 27-29 the brothers of Council #14360 were performing acts of good work throughout the city of Norwalk. From helping set up St. Matthew’s Living Stations of the Cross service on Friday evening to helping renovate the chapel at Notre Dame Convalescent Home throughout the day on Saturday. Brother Knights provided great assistance to Knight Al DiGuido with his “Al’s Angels Easter Basket Assembly” which provides over 2000 Easter Baskets to children and families battling cancer, rare blood disease and severe financial hardship.

Grand Knight George Ribellino continues to have great pride and is inspired by the passion and commitment of his council in doing great work. “These brother Knights, from retired to working, always come together for the common goal of helping those less fortunate.”

K of C St. Matthew Council #14360 is located in Norwalk and their fundraisers help many local organizations around the city, such as Malta House and Foster Care Agency of Connecticut. Check out Saintmatthewknights.com for more information.


Diocesan Retreatants "visit" with St. Paul
| March 30, 2015


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STRATFORD—Snow and freezing rain did not hold back over 100 people who gathered at Our Lady of Peace Parish, Stratford on March 28 for the Diocesan Lent retreat which focused on the life of Saint Paul.




The retreat began with morning Mass celebrated by the pastor Father Nicholas Pavia. His homily focused on Saint Paul which set the stage for the retreat.

Glenn Smith travelled to Connecticut for a live, one-man performance, where he acted out Saint Paul’s captivity. He captivated the audience and after the 90-minute performance, there was time for reflection questions. Then the retreatants were led in a Lectio Divina on the conversion of Saint Paul from Acts chapter 9. All were given the opportunity to share reflections from the retreat and Glenn was available for Q&A. 

The responses were very positive from the retreatants. Some included: “It was a beautiful and very inspiring half-day Lenten retreat. St. Paul will be with me in such a different way now.” “It was by far one of the best retreats I have ever been to.” “What a great, great retreat! Loved, loved, loved the play!” This retreat was organized through the Office of Adult Formation. For upcoming events contact Gina Donnarummo at 203.416.1446 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). More information regarding Glenn Smith and his ministry can be found at: www.visitwithstpaul.com


St Joseph High School Students Take the Penguin Plunge for Connecticut Special Olympics
| March 26, 2015


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WESTPORT—More than sixty St. Joseph High School students and faculty members braved the stormy weather, cold waters and low tide of Long Island Sound on March 14  at Compo Beach in Westport for the annual penguin plunge to benefit the Connecticut Special Olympics.



St. Joseph High School Penguin Plunge Team Photo.


St. Joseph High School Students brave the Long Island Sound on Saturday, March 14, 2015 during the Penguin Plunge to Benefit the Connecticut Special Olympics.


The St. Joseph student team has collected well over $15,000 for the cause. Nancy Dennin, moderator for the Special Olympic Club and chair of the math department, said, “I couldn’t be more proud of our students’ enthusiasm, dedication and spirit. They are an amazing bunch of people. I go home crying after this event, their compassion for the organization and our athletes never ends.”  The Connecticut Special Olympics is very dear to Dennin, as her son David, who is thirty-nine and born with Down’s Syndrome, has participated in the last 16 plunges and over time raised close to $90,000 on his own for the Special Olympics.


Teens gather for Praise and Pizza
| March 26, 2015


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BETHEL—Praise and Pizza was a hit once again!




For the third time in the past few months, teens from St. Mary (Bethel), St Rose (Newtown), St. Joseph (Danbury) and more gathered for fellowship and adoration.  About over 300 teens and adults have attended this event since its inception; the group offers pizza, Adoration, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation every other month.

This event is hosted by St. Rose and St. Mary parishes, and is open to all high school youth. If you or your youth group is interested in attending the next Praise and Pizza event, please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Chess masters celebrate win
| March 26, 2015


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NEWTOWN—Members of the St. Rose of Lima School Chess Team participated in the CT Association of Schools Chess Tournament in March at CH Booth Library in Newtown.



(l-r) Torin Kearney, Evan Johnson, Cayman Chacchia and Logan McAloon


Students played against 49 other players from the area. Third grader Evan Johnson (Newtown) tied for third place in the 3-4th grade section, Torin Kearney (Newtown) in fifth grade finished second in the 5-6th grade section, Cayman Chacchia (Woodbury) also in fifth grade tied for third place in the 5-6th grade section and sixth grader Logan McAloon (Sandy Hook) just missed receiving a trophy in the 5-6th grade section. chess club(l-r) Torin Kearney, Evan Johnson, Cayman Chacchia and Logan McAloon.


Standing up for God in a secular society
| March 26, 2015 • by By Joe Pisani


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The commuter train out of Grand Central Terminal was short two cars, so people were packed in the seats, shoulder-to-shoulder. It was the perfect end to another perfect day in Manhattan. Nevertheless, everyone was relieved to be on board and going home, so they could put their heads on the pillow and get up and do it all over again.

In the silence before the train started to pull out of the station, someone sneezed and then sneezed again. A fellow who was reading his Kindle, instinctively said, “God bless you ...” But then, his voice trailed off, as if he suddenly realized he’d done something socially questionable by mentioning God in unfamiliar company—by mentioning God in a fiercely secular society where religion is routinely attacked on editorial pages and in university classrooms. There was no “thank you.”

Times have changed. In the past, mentioning God was perfectly natural for men and women of faith. Now, you never know what’ll happen. Crazy as it seems, the only people who enjoy so-called “freedom of expression” are the ones who insult religion.

This fellow realized he had committed … a politically incorrect faux pas by “God blessing” someone, which could have led to an altercation if the person sneezing was an atheist.

Like most of us, he’d probably been raised in a family where you were taught to say, “God bless you” to someone who sneezed, but we live in strange times when it’s more socially acceptable to use four-letter words than to say the name of God or Jesus reverently.

And there’s certainly no shortage of people who use God’s name irreverently. Remember the Second Commandment, which we learned in catechism, “Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain”? It was number two out of ten, so that must say something about its importance.

However, in the entertainment industry, on city streets, in the workplace and in casual conversation, the only time people utter the name of God and the name of Jesus freely and forcefully is when they’re cursing. How tragic is that?

St. Paul had a different view. He told the Philippians that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

What has changed so much in a few decades? For one thing, atheists have become more aggressive, and they resent any public reference to God in social gatherings, in the classroom, at Christmas, in speeches, in the Pledge of Allegiance, in political gatherings and on playing fields. But our hesitation to say “Jesus” and “God” in public is more than just catering to the whims and demands of a misguided few.

We feel uncomfortable in mixed company because God has become controversial in our secular society. Professors are disciplined if they profess orthodox Christian beliefs, students in public schools have their Bibles confiscated, and the athletes who invoke God are ridiculed or treated as embarrassments. Look at the field day the media had with Tim Tebow and his professions of faith.

Boston College professor and author Peter Kreeft claims that the name of Jesus in particular makes people uncomfortable. He says, “Test it in any secular company. The name Jesus will fall with a thud, and produce sudden silences and embarrassment. You not only hear the embarrassment, you can feel it. The temperature drops. Or rises. It never stays the same.”

Nowadays, there’s a lot of anger against organized religion, especially against Catholics, because our beliefs conflict with the prevailing social agenda, which supports abortion, assisted suicide, pornography, the hooking up culture and every other form of acceptable vice.

But it’s time to bring our faith back into the public square in big ways and in small, whether it’s one “God bless you” on a crowded train or in a crowded doctor’s office—or defending our faith when it’s belittled at social gatherings.

If you can do only one small thing every day, say, “God bless you” when someone sneezes. Say “God bless you” when someone is troubled and needs encouragement. Say “God bless you,” if for no other reason than to share God’s love and give him glory.

And never forget what Jesus said: “Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

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


‘To God who gives joy to my youth’
| March 26, 2015 • by By Thomas H. Hicks


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Potpourri
By Thomas H. Hicks

As an altar boy, I memorized and rehearsed the Latin responses from that white card with red and black print and stiff lamination. The first dialogue between priest and server was:

Priest: (in Latin) “Introibo ad altare Dei” (“I will go onto the altar of God”).

Server: “Ad Deum qui laetificat iuventutem meam” (“To God who gives joy to my youth”).

My childhood was immersed in Catholicism, and it did bring joy to my youth. Those were the years of novenas, May and October devotions, benedictions, sodalities, Holy Name Societies, keeping nine First Fridays—which guaranteed a holy death.

My life was circumscribed by Catholic culture. It was the very soil in which I was planted. I grew up in a world of scapulars, first-and-second class relics, plenary and partial indulgences (I collected indulgences like autographs), votive candles, the Angelus. It was a world of statues and religious medals, holy water and holy cards—all that Catholic paraphernalia. My father took me to Holy Name breakfasts and rallies. I played sports on CYO teams.  

Masses were in Latin where we knelt at a marble altar railing and, lest the Blessed Host fall onto our unconsecrated hands, hid them under the draping of a railing-long linen cloth. Each Sunday Mass had its quota of what we altar servers called “the sharpshooters”—men on one knee in back, waiting for the sermon to signal them to sneak out for a smoke. We altar boys set special value on priests who could gallop through a Latin weekday Mass in twelve minutes flat.

When I got to Catholic school, I didn’t experience any of the horror stories that some people tell. I had wonderful Sisters. They were funny, smart, kind. I cleaned chalkboards, dusted the erasers, carried out the wastebasket for them.

To a great extent, it is the sounds I remember: the ring of church bells in the spring twilight; the whisper of First Communion dresses; the dialogue between two sets of hand-held bells during processions; the lilting cadence of the Litany of the Saints; the wailful sweetness of the

Pange Lingua; the peculiar charm of the Tantum Ergo; the turbulent, insistent, almost defiant “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name.”

It was a time when convents and seminaries teemed with life. In the early 1960s, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Astoria, Queens, there were seven resident priests, nineteen hundred children in the parish school, a reputed twenty-five thousand parishioners, more than a dozen nuns teaching in the school, and fifteen Masses on Sunday morning in three different locations.

I cherish my Catholic upbringing, the Catholicism of my youth. It was mainly a devotional Catholicism. But these devotions remain something I associate with the joy of smooth youth and good health, with the time I glowed with future promise and dreams were bright and only beginning, the time of uncomplicated faith.

But the devotional world I grew up in, by and large, has disappeared. The Church of my youth is gone. Some try to restore that Church, make a determined effort to go backward. But an historical epoch has come to an end. There are leftovers from this vanished era, but there is a new era and a new spirit, for the better.

I do not believe in the same way I believed as a youth. But I continue to have a Catholic sense of reality, a distinctive Catholic vision. My life remains grounded in Catholicism.

The faith gives me a bigger life to live, a larger world. It opened for me a world of great depth and beauty, a world of intellectual vigor.  

Alec Guiness, speaking of the Catholic Church, said, “We collect more bizarre followers of Christ than many.” True. But I enjoy being with Catholic people. When I am with them, I have the sense that this is my country. I speak its language. I’m at home. I’m happy to be there. I enjoy being among other Catholics. They generally have a sense of humor about themselves. There is a Catholic zest for life.

It is not difficult to find people who describe themselves as “recovering Catholics.” Friends from Catholic high school slipped out of their Catholicism like an old, unwanted sweater. The attrition has been enormous. But the faith has been my anchor in life. It has brought me an equanimity and confidence. I have received so much comfort from my faith throughout my life. And the Catholic faith is a good religion to die in.

P.S. Speaking of things Catholic, a recent experience assured me that, although the Sisters left, St. Vincent’s Medical Center maintains its Catholic atmosphere. I had a medical procedure performed by Dr. Lawrence Muldoon and his team. Dr. Muldoon is a doctor of assured competence who combines with an unfailing gentle kindness and humor. His co-workers and nurses also reflect those traits. They were all unfailingly kind, wonderfully considerate, and effortlessly forbearing and obliging. This extended to the older gentleman volunteer. St. Vincent’s hospital is a most hospitable place.

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


Forgiveness and Heroism during Lent
| March 26, 2015 • by By Matthew Hennessey


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A Dad’s View
By Matthew Hennessey

Lent is a time for preparation. I’ve always been bad at that. Waiting ain’t my thing.

Lent is a time for sacrifice. I’m bad at that, too. Self-denial ain’t my thing either.

But I read many writers who say, “No, self-denial isn’t the point. Lent’s a time for coming closer to God.”

I don’t know about you, but I’d love to have a closer relationship with God. The challenge for me is execution. Almsgiving, fasting, prayer—for me it feels like work. I can do it, but I need a little inspiration. This year I’m finding it in unlikely places.

The kids are learning about the Black Death—the plague pandemic that killed as many as 200 million Europeans from 1346-53. It’s not a pleasant topic. One fact jumps out: priests were especially hard-hit. The mortality rate for the general population during the Black Death was 30 percent. For priests, it was closer to 45 percent.

It’s not hard to see why. Priests heard deathbed confessions. They did a lot of anointing. Close contact with the sick almost always led to infection. Infection usually meant death. One plus one equals two.

Here in the twenty-first century, we can do the math. But in the Middle Ages, no one knew about the germ theory of disease. They presumed the plague was God’s punishment. They thought that if you got sick you’d probably done something to deserve it. The multitudes of priests getting sick and dying pointed to one conclusion—the Church was corrupt and her priests were sinful. No good deed goes unpunished, eh?

It was a bum rap. The priests of the Black Death were brave and selfless, going where no one wanted to go, doing what no one wanted to do. And dying for it.

That’s a small but useful bit of inspiration, via my kids’ history books. Keeping our Lenten promises may seem hard, but not nearly as hard as ministering to the doomed.

Most of the original apostles died as martyrs. I find that inspiring. It’s also the best evidence I can think of that Jesus was—and is—what he claimed to be. The apostles knew him. They experienced his ministry. They witnessed the passion and resurrection.

You wouldn’t give up your life for a maybe, would you? I wouldn’t.

The apostles weren’t the only ones to lay down their lives for Christ. St. Thomas Becket of Canterbury was murdered for refusing to play nice with political authorities. We could use some of that spirit today.

St. Maximilian Kolbe volunteered to take a condemned man’s place at Auschwitz. That kind of selflessness only comes from one place—a relationship with God so close it transcends everything.  

But, you say, World War II was 70 years ago. The Black Death was almost 700 years ago. It’s not so easy to find examples of Christian heroism these days.

Not true. Open the newspaper. The world hasn’t changed much. Christians all across the Middle East are being slaughtered for their faith.

“What’s ISIS?” my daughter, Clara, asked my wife, Ursula, the other day. The best questions come out of the blue. Luckily, I married well. Ursula steered the conversation away from the death merchants of ISIS to the bigger picture.

All around the world, many thousands of people refuse, daily, to deny Christ even when doing so might help them avoid torture and death. Clara finds that inspiring. I pray she never faces that test. The fact is: We won’t all be martyrs. That’s not God’s plan. As St. Paul wrote in his First Letter to the Corinthians, however, we are called to be holy.

Most of us fall short on that as well. It’s okay. Even St. Peter denied Christ a time or three. Jesus forgave him nonetheless. Just like he forgives you and me when we struggle to live up to our Lenten promises.

Lent is a time for preparation. Prepare to be forgiven.   

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


Kiros moments
| March 26, 2015 • by By Denise Bossert


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Catholic by Grace
By Denise Bossert

The Greek words chronos and kairos always remind me of Frank Kermode’s book The Sense of an Ending—required reading for my M.A. comprehensive exams at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Not that I wrote anything profound that awful day. I received a B on my comprehensive exams though I had trended toward A’s throughout graduate school. I choose to blame my performance on the migraine that rendered the experience a blur.

I remember three writers from the long list of required reading for comprehensive exams. Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot. The Writing Life and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. And Kermode’s The Sense of an Ending.

I might have known that I was headed for a massive conversion—for I have forgotten most of the other things I read in the months of preparation for comps, but those were the things that remained and took up residency in my long-term memory.  If you took them all and ground them up with a mortar and pestle, you might end up with words like Catholic and mystery and contemplative and writer.

It is where I was headed—though I didn’t see it coming.

But there is something special for me about the notion of kairos. A time for each thing. A season. A changing-over and rendering-up. Dropping nets to follow. Or abandoning the now for the unexpected call. The sense of an ending. And of a beginning.

When you talk about such things, others stare. They don’t get it. They don’t sense the crook of God’s finger. The hook of the Shepherd’s staff. They see no mandate to go. To follow. To pick up a pen. Or a cross. Or both.

There is something beautiful—and painful—in accepting the call one receives in these kairos moments.

You try to get others to understand, but there is no way they truly can, not being in your skin. Not being in your head as the thoughts bounce around and stir the soul.

The most one can hope for is for one’s spiritual director to affirm the call. It’s enough. A nod from him and a nod from grace—that’ll do.

Kairos. The changing time. A blank page. Who needs January 1st to set new things in motion? God just needs today. A deep breath. A teeny tiny fiat.

It’s not that the miraculous is about to happen, just his holy will for you. And maybe that is miraculous, in the ways that healing and wholeness and deliverance and restoration are miraculous. Somehow, you know it. You begin to perceive it.

The words on the blank page are written in invisible ink—the kind of ink that fills God’s pen. And your spirit is the secret decoder that unlocks the hidden script. You see the words. And you begin to realize—so that’s what I’ve been called to do. That’s where I am called to go. It’s been that all along.

“Okay, let’s do it. So be it, amen,” you say.

You drop your nets and walk away from what was to embrace what is to come.

It is the moment you are ready for God’s plan for you.

Kairos.

Not tick-tock clock time. Not the hour of a particular day of a specific month of the year. Not chronos. This is Kairos.

A season. The season for changing. And now is the acceptable Kairos.

It’s Lent. Repent and believe the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Ground everything down with your own mortar and pestle. And offer that to Our Lord.

Yes, now is an acceptable time.

Denise Bossert is a national Catholic writer and columnist.


Unholy political positions in the Holy Land
| March 26, 2015 • by By Tony Magliano


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Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano

As the minds and hearts of Christians throughout the world focus on the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, we naturally think of the Holy Land.

Throughout much of history, in the land where the world’s savior taught human beings to love one another as he loved us, instead of experiencing love, Palestinians have often experienced the great suffering of injustice, war and foreign occupation.
    
And today the story is sadly much the same.
    
In the Occupied Territories of the West Bank in Palestine, Israeli government and military oppression is very real, and yet under reported by corporate owned U.S. media sources.
    
According to B’Tselem (www.btselem.org) – an Israeli human rights organization comprised of academics, attorneys and members of the Israeli parliament (Knesset) – tens of thousands of hectares of the West Bank including farmland, has been seized from Palestinians by Israel, so that hundreds of thousands of Israelis could populate more than 200 Jewish settlements established in the Palestinian West Bank.
    
The International Court of Justice ruled that these Israeli settlements are illegal. It also decreed that the Israeli separation barrier of walls, barbed wire and trenches in the West Bank is also illegal.

This barrier – built overwhelmingly in occupied territory – effectively takes more land away from the Palestinians, and prevents many Palestinians from normal access to their vineyards, olive groves and fields.  

A friend of mine, Dusty Tyukody, participated in an educational trip to the West Bank sponsored by Friends of Sabeel North America (www.fosna.org) – an ecumenical Christian peace organization. She emailed me a photo she took showing Palestinians herded like cattle into a narrow passageway where they stood for a long period while waiting to pass through an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank city of Hebron.

Another injustice according to B’Tselem is that Israelis living in the West Bank enjoy an unlimited supply of running water all year round, while Palestinians are allotted a small fixed amount, resulting in constant water shortages.

In many ways the situation in Gaza is even worse. With an Israeli land and naval blockade in place, Gaza is known as the world’s largest outdoor prison.  

And last year’s Israeli military offensive against the militant group Hamas in Gaza resulted in the deaths of 1,462 civilians, including 495 children according to the United Nations. This offensive also leveled much of Gaza, leaving many with little to no water, food, or habitable shelter.

The U.S. annually gives Israel approximately $3 billion – mostly in military aid – with virtually no conditions. Instead, the U.S. should demand Israel end all injustices towards the Palestinians, and commit to a timetable towards the finalization of a viable independent Palestinian nation and a secure Israel.

Please go to the “US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation” (www.endtheoccupation.org) and sign the petition.

And visit www.holylandprinciples.org and click “join the campaign.”

Also, kindly consider making a donation to help our suffering Palestinian brothers and sister by going to Catholic Near East Welfare Association (www.cnewa.org) and under “ways to give” click “Palestine.”

At the conclusion of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2009, he said “Let it be universally recognized that the State of Israel has the right to exist, and to enjoy peace and security within internationally agreed borders. Let it be likewise acknowledged that the Palestinian people have a right to a sovereign independent homeland, to live with dignity and to travel freely. Let the two-state solution become a reality, not remain a dream.”

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


The way of the cross
| March 26, 2015 • by By Tony Magliano


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Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano

Writing a column on social justice and peace offers me plenty of timely issues to choose from. And I always truly sense from God the exact issue he desires that I write on.

I’m not claiming here any special revelation. God’s active, guiding presence is available to everyone. All we need to do is deeply trust, quietly listen and patiently wait.

Now in my case, God knows I’m on a deadline. And almost always his Spirit graciously gives me plenty of lead time. But regarding this particular column, the Spirit seemed to be silent, that is, until I visited a parishioner at the Little Sisters of the Poor’s home for the elderly in Baltimore.
    
On their grounds, amidst a lovely wooded area, stand 14 Stations of the Cross depicting Jesus’ grueling walk to Calvary. At each station stands a rough, life-size wooden cross with a stone craving revealing a different scene along the Lord’s painful route to his crucifixion.

On that day several inches of snow covered the path along the stations. But I decided that a little snow down my shoes was a small price to pay for the deep spiritual reward that awaited me.       

And so I made my way to the first station of the cross: “Jesus is condemned to death.”

There I meditated on the stone carving depicting our innocent Lord standing humbly before Pontius Pilate. Washing his hands as though that empty gesture could clean him of guilt, Pilate cowardly turned Jesus over to those who would kill him.

How often do we in our lack courage, in our comfortableness, in our self-centeredness, in our silence, wash our hands of our responsibility to do the right thing—for peace, for the war-torn, for the unborn, for the poor and hungry, for the sick, for the homeless, for the undocumented, for the prisoner, for the earth?  

Next stop, the second station: “Jesus takes up his cross.”

He, who was without sin, took on all the ugly sins of the world, nonviolently purified them, and gave them back to us as unconditional love.

Here we are starkly reminded of Jesus’ words: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

When all else has failed, our suffering, our cross, can lead us out of selfishness to selfless love – the essential virtue needed to experience the salvation won by Christ.

Therefore, carry our cross we must! There’s no way around it.

The late, highly esteemed theologian Father Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote, “It is to the Cross that the Christian is challenged to follow his Master: no path of redemption can make a detour around it.”

Authentic discipleship also demands that we earnestly help carry the cross of our suffering brothers and sisters near and far; knowing that in the process we are also mystically helping to carry our Lord’s cross.
 
Next, I prayed at the third station, the fourth station, and onward until I reached the 12th station: “Jesus dies on the cross.” Looking back I saw the path my steps in the snow had made, and deeply felt that to a certain degree I had made the way of the cross with Christ.

And, more fully, I realized that his journey did not end in death, but of course in the awesome joy of the resurrection!

But also, I understood more deeply that in our Christian journey toward the resurrection, the cross must always come first.

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


New Diocesan Youth Choir announced
| March 25, 2015


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BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has announced plans for the formation of a Diocesan Youth Choir that will sing in large diocesan liturgies with the bishop and at prayer services and other select performances.




The choir will draw students from grades 8-12 throughout the diocese. Auditions are expected to begin this spring.

“The Youth Choir will energize the entire diocese,” Bishop Caggiano said. “Not only will it involve youth in a formative activity but also celebrate their faith, their energy and the excitement they bring to the Church.  Their voices will be a great gift to us and help to revitalize our liturgies as so many people have requested in our synod process.”

Deacon John DiTaranto, special assistant to the bishop, said plans call for the new choir to be previewed at the Closing Celebration Mass of the Synod on Saturday, September 19, at the Webster Bank Arena of Harbor Yard in Bridgeport. Pending execution of the venue contract, the full choir is scheduled to perform at a youth Christmas concert set for next December at the Norwalk Concert Hall.

The diocese is in the process of hiring a choir director who will be responsible for the musical programs and overall administration of the choir, he added.

“The Diocesan Youth Choir will foster awareness of music as an integral part of worship, and help to build self-esteem through successful group singing and instrumental accompaniment,” said Deacon DiTaranto, who noted that young singers will learn music and performance skills as they rehearse and sing for select liturgies.

“We hope that young people from all of our parishes and schools are represented in the new choir,” he said.

Auditions and open houses for the new choir will be held throughout the diocese in the Spring and Summer.

While the choir will be introduced at the Closing Celebration of the Synod, the first public performance of the full choir is set for the special Christmas concert in Norwalk. This concert has been named C4Y (Concert For Youth), as funds generated from it will be used to support diocesan youth programs including the new Bishop’s Scholarship Fund. It is expected that C4Y will become an annual showcase of the Diocesan Youth Choir. Rick Ryan of Black Rock is serving as overall management and marketing coordinator of the concert.

(For more info on the youth choir, or if you are interested in sponsorship opportunities, contact Rick Ryan: 203.331.6858.)  

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
“Successful” Youth Ministry: Walking the Cross in Norwalk
| March 24, 2015


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The first theme of Synod 2014 is “Empower the young Church.” Fostering the full, conscious and active participation of young people in parish life is a primary goal of the synod and it is also a primary concern for many clergy, religious, youth ministers and lay volunteers.



Father Boccaccio blesses the cross at St. Philip's Church.


St. Jerome's Parish takes the cross from St. Philip's.


St. Jerome's walks the cross.


Father Blanchfield leads the cross home.


Out of the more than 80 parishes in the Diocese of Bridgeport, only 20% (roughly) have “successful” youth ministries. The word “successful” is subjective, but a successful Catholic youth ministry in the Diocese of Bridgeport would include some or all of the following elements:

1.    The youth ministry (i.e. youth group) meets regularly and is under the direction of qualified, experienced Catholic youth leaders.
2.    The youth ministry has a substantial number of regular participants.
3.    The youth ministry is strongly supported by the parents and families of the participants.
4.    The youth ministry is sustainable, and ideally, has been sustained for a number of years.
5.    The clergy and religious of the parish support the youth ministry and are actively involved in its success.
6.    The youth ministry has “alumni” who return to be of assistance and who even assume adult leadership roles in the ministry.
7.    The youth ministry has several annual Catholic “events” to rally around.
8.    The youth ministry is something that younger parishioners look forward to joining.
9.    The youth ministry has a strong identity that transcends parish boundaries.
10.   The youth ministry has a strong and responsible presence online and in social media.

Parishes take different approaches to youth ministry. In too many cases, outside of religious education, parishes have no program targeted specifically to fostering the faith formation of young people. The reasons for this are often financial. Other reasons include a lack of initial interest among the youth of the parish; a lack of dedicated, qualified adults to lead the group; the inability of interested parishioners to foster the level of sustained support needed to have a successful youth ministry; and sadly, clergy who are not interested in being directly involved in youth ministry.

Parishes that enjoy successful youth ministries are usually very committed to their youth activities and programs. Because larger parishes have a ready pool of participants who may be eager to participate in youth activities, it is usually easier for large parishes to enjoy success with youth ministry. Larger parishes are also more likely to have the financial resources needed to fully support youth ministry.

Larger and wealthier parishes in the Diocese of Bridgeport are often able to hire full-time, professional youth ministers to administer their youth programs. If the program flounders, pastors are able to replace youth ministers who are not achieving “success.” This approach works in some parishes, but in other parishes it can lead to an endless rotation of youth ministers. One of the keys to a successful youth group is stable adult leadership. The most successful youth ministries have often been under the direction of the same leadership team for many years.

In larger and wealthier parishes, it is easy to imagine how a pastor might place his hopes on “professional” youth ministers to do the job, but youth ministry rarely thrives without direct clergy involvement. A Catholic priest cannot simply “outsource” the youth ministry of his parish and expect it to be a success. There is no simple answer to clergy involvement in youth ministry as more parishes have only one full-time priest assigned, and as the average age of the clergy keeps climbing. Priests in their 60s and 70s may naturally be less inclined to be actively involved in youth ministry and in activities for youth.

Another route that some parishes take is the dedicated lay-leader who may be paid or volunteer. Even parishes with limited financial resources should consider paying their youth ministry leaders, as the commitment needed to have a successful and sustainable youth ministry can be intense. Between Virtus and other paperwork and certifications needed to protect participants and the Church, leading youth ministry is certainly a “job.”

Parishes that rely only on volunteer youth ministry leaders may have difficulty finding adults who are willing to be involved in youth leadership for sustained periods of time. In short, as the need for more effective youth ministry is increasing, the difficulty of achieving success in youth ministry is also increasing.

Examples of Success

Two successful youth ministries in the Diocese of Bridgeport can be found in Norwalk, at St. Jerome Parish and at St. Philip Parish. Clergy, religious and interested lay-leaders should reach out to the longtime pastors of these parishes (Father David Blanchfield and Father Michael Boccaccio respectively), who may be able to reveal some of the secrets of their success. At the very least, Fathers Blanchfield and Boccaccio can discuss how their youth programs are structured (i.e. paid or volunteer ministers, etc.).

Successful youth ministries focus on activities that young people will find fulfilling. Recently, St. Philip Parish hosted a “30-Hour Famine” that yielded great results. Many young people from parishes in the greater-Norwalk area participated, and all participants received special T-shirts to wear during and after the event.

As with many ministries in the life of a parish, most parishes in the Diocese of Bridgeport try to remain islands. That is, collaboration between neighboring parishes is usually minimal. Sadly, most pastors view neighboring parishes as “competitors” for collection and ACA dollars. More enlightened pastors seek out opportunities for collaboration, and few ministries are as ripe for collaboration as youth ministry.

Smaller and less affluent parishes can easily “piggyback” on successful youth ministries offered by nearby parishes. Neither St. Jerome’s nor St Philip’s in Norwalk is particularly large or affluent, but their pastors and parishioners are fully committed to supporting youth ministry. In other words, youth ministry in each parish is a major priority.

Youth ministry in Norwalk is actually a microcosm for ways to “Empower the young Church” throughout the diocese. Among the Catholic parishes of Norwalk, youth ministry is increasingly collaborative and inclusive. Smaller, less affluent parishes that may not have established youth ministries have been invited by St. Jerome’s and St. Philip’s to participate in common efforts, like the famine, and most recently, a Lenten journey called “Walking the Cross.”

On Sunday, March 15, parishioners of the seven Catholic parishes in Norwalk were invited to help carry a large wooden cross from one church to another, linking the parishes in a special way during Lent. Each parish was responsible for carrying the cross from one parish to the next and then handing it off. This was the first year for the “Walk”, and Father Boccaccio remarked that the event offered a very visible “display of unity among the seven parishes of Norwalk.”

Obviously, this was an activity that was very appealing to the Catholic youth of these parishes, and the participation of young people in this effort was very substantial. The actually walking with the cross was performed in silent prayer, with the Rosary and singing too!

Participants were able to give visible and viable Christian witness to the world through their actions, and young people usually embrace the opportunity to give Christian witness. Such experiences imprint their minds and spirit and help them better live their faith. In fact, from my experience, Catholic youth usually love giving Christian witness and participating in Christian activism.

The Walk began with 9:00 am Mass at St. Matthew’s and ended with 6:00 pm Mass at St. Jerome’s (which is a scheduled youth Mass, complete with drums and electric guitar). In total, the cross traveled nine miles by the time it reached St. Jerome’s. The seven participating parishes are as follows: St. Matthew; St. Ladislaus; St. Joseph; St. Thomas; St. Mary; St. Philip; St. Jerome.

At the conclusion of the event, Father Gilbert D’Souza, pastor of St. Joseph, thanked “St. Philip’s for conceiving the idea, and planning and organizing the ‘Walk.’ The best part of it was its simplicity. I would be happy to see it become a fixture.”

Simplicity may be a key to successful youth ministry. The “Walk” cost very little in terms of money, but it had all of the ingredients of a successful youth activity. By beginning and ending with regularly scheduled parish Masses, parishioners were also able to feel involved in the effort even if they themselves did not or could not do the walking. Involving the larger communities also allowed participants to be recognized by and give witness to their parish communities and to the world at large.

Finally, as evidenced by the accompanying photos, the “Walk” was fun. Young people love to laugh and enjoy themselves, and when they can join laughter and joy with Christian witness, everyone comes out a winner. Empower the young Church!

(More photos can be found on the Facebook pages of St. Jerome and St. Philip).

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Catholic School Standouts
| March 23, 2015 • by By: Brian D. Wallace


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BRIDGEPORT—While the country immerses itself in March Madness, local sports fans have much to be proud of here in Fairfield County.

St. Joseph High School cheerleading team on the national title and Fairfield Prep pulled off a stunning victory over Westhill High School of Stamford to win the state LL hoop title. Meanwhile, Notre Dame High School of Fairfield recorded a great season, while other Catholic schools produced championship teams. Congratulations to all of the scholar-athletes in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Please click the links below to learn more about these exciting stories:


CLICK FOR  ST. JOSEPH VIDEO



CLICK HERE FOR FAIRFIELD PREP STORY FROM CT POST


CLICK HERE FOR NOTRE DAME STORY FROM MINUTEMAN PRESS


Mother Dolores Hart says “love” animates contemplative life
| March 22, 2015


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FAIRFIELD—“Kick the devil” in the backside and begin loving those who are close to you and the many more you meet in everyday life, Mother Dolores Hart told more than 200 in attendance at the 7th annual Educators Communion Breakfast at Sacred Heart University.




“One thing that life has taught me is that as a contemplative, my search for God finds resonance in the person sitting next to me, the person who just spoke, the person who asks me something. By loving we discover ourselves.”

Dressed in her trademark beret over her nun’s habit, she was every bit the Hollywood actress and cloistered nun as she held the gathering spellbound with stories about legendary movie stars and her own sudden decision to enter the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut at the height of her fame in 1963.

She said that she didn’t leave Hollywood behind because she continues to pray for everyone she met in Hollywood and they are a part of her life.

“Looking for the light in the other person’s eyes and heart,” she said, speaking in a soft and clear voice. “What do they see that I can’t see? It’s a shock to learn that each human being is totally unique and original in a way that only God understands.”

The former Dolores Hart still seemed amazed by her vocation and said that her job now is to “learn to pray better.” Noting that she prays seven times a day “and in the middle of the night.,” she said it is an act that also unites her with all those “who carry something through the night.”

The woman who starred alongside Elvis and Anthony Quinn said that she was 17 and Elvis only 20 years old and wildly famous when they met on the set. In between scenes he invited her to his room, where he read the bible to her. “I was dumbfounded by the simplicity of this man. He had already been on the Ed Sullivan Show, and I never expected to be in a room with him and have him read the bible to me. He was very accepting and open,” she said.

She said that she tells many people who don’t know what to do with their lives to follow their inner voice. “Hold the truth, hold the love, no matter how lousy it gets,” she said, adding that the best way to follow God’s will is often to fathom your own and to choose to love.

Prior to her talk Fr. William Sangiovanni, President of Notre Dame Catholic High School in Fairfield, was presented the CAPP Educator of the Year Award.

His brief and heartfelt acceptance remarks were followed by a standing ovation for his service as a priest and educator.

Telling the gathering that he just celebrated his 38th anniversary as a priest, Fr. Bill said he was filled with gratitude and “thank God for the gift of life.” He said his mother played an important role in his life along with “two amazing women,” his Grandmother Muldoon and his Grandmother Sangiovanni.

He said that the trust that students placed in him has been one of the great honors of his life.

The morning started out when Bishop Frank J. Caggiano celebrated Mass in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit on the Sacred Heart University campus. Referring to Catholic educators as “ambassadors of God’s love to the world,” the bishop said told them “that your mission and mine has everything to do with the cross.”

He said that Catholic schools welcome everyone “because we are all loved by the Father now and forever.”

The Annual Educators Communion Breakfast is sponsored by CAPP (Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice), a lay group that promotes Catholic Social Teaching, and Sacred Heart University. For information contact www.CAPP-USA.com.

Click here to view photos.


Bishop outlines “principles” for implementing Synod initiatives
| March 21, 2015


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TRUMBULL—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano called for a commitment to “substantial and lasting change” as he outlined seven guiding principles for implementing Synod recommendations in parishes and ministries throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport.




Speaking to 320 delegates and observers who braved the remnants of a snowstorm on the first day of spring, the Bishop said the 2014 Synod was an invitation to “create roadmaps to vital and vibrant communities.”

His talk on the spirit and methodology of renewal of the local Church galvanized the delegates and was greeted by a standing ovation at the 4th General Session of the Synod held at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Trumbull.

While the delegates reviewed best practice models and other initiatives for parishes, the bishop said he didn’t want a strategic plan that “will be shelved in 90 days,” but an ongoing “conversion of individuals and the entire diocesan family” to the “city of everlasting life.”

The bishop said he is not interested in imposing programs from the top down but in giving individual parishes the flexibility to design their own programs, while maintaining the larger “communion” and unit of the diocese. He said his goal was for the diocese to become invisible while parishes become more visible, and that it will require accountability from all involved.

“No one parish can do everything on its own, and some things can only be done by the diocese,” he told delegates, noting that the work of the Synod reflects the “theology of accompaniment” outlined by Pope Francis.

“The journey of faith of individuals must be respected one person at a time,” he said, adding that the real work of the Synod begins after the closing of the conclave when the implementation process begins.
 

He said the Synod will lead to the development “of a new body of leadership in every parish,” and that he will ask all parishes as well as diocesan programs to set measurable benchmarks for change.

Noting that there is inherent tension as the Church seeks to preserve what it does best, while also undergoing change, the bishop called for a spirit of collaboration that does not simply mean compromising on individual goals, but “allowing Christ to take the lead.”

The bishop’s talk followed morning presentations on best practices and models of ministry by guest speakers.

“When we encounter Jesus Christ, our lives change,” said Eric Gallagher Diocese of Sioux Falls, SD, Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry.

He told delegates that youth programs must “cultivate an atmosphere of discipleship” and meet young people based on where they are.

Gallagher said that many of our youth are now “experiencing Christ outside of the Church,” at other Christian music events or youth festivals.

Referring to such activity as “pre-evangelization,” Gallaher said he sometimes takes youth from his own parish to Christian events because they can help young people grow and share the faith. He added that the Church should also be confident in its own outreach to youth because it has “Christ in the Eucharist. ”


“The new Evangelization calls on us to do something different,” he said. “Young people will go where they are fed.”
 

Jim Lundholm-Eades of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, said that he has spoken to eight synods across the country and that the challenges faced by the Diocese of Bridgeport are very much in line with other dioceses.

He said that change comes out of a “discernment process that’s not about the will of the people but the will of God.”

Lundholm-Eades said context of leadership in parishes and the Church has been affected by “constant change” over the past decade with “Catholics now going to parishes where they are fed not where they live.”

He said parish leaders must be gifted at gathering people, creating dialogue, and even dealing with “dissonance and disintegration” in the face of change and uncertainty.

“We are people of the Resurrection. If we remain faithful, there is light at the end of the dark night,” he said.

Husband and wife team Pete and Claudia Roux of St. John Church in Darien gave an upbeat presentation Changing Evangelization models identified in the “Amazing Parish Conference” and Forming Intentional Disciples.

They also described ways from the personal to the social that Catholics can invite others to renew their faith.

“We must meet them where they are and support them in their journey,” said Pete Roux. He added that Easter is a great time to reach out to Catholics who may only come to Church once a year, and he recommended that parishes work on strategies to make them feel welcome.

In the closing presentation of the 4th General Session, Deputy Synod Director Patrick Turner urged delegates to talk up the Synod in their own parishes.

“Many Catholics are still unaware that the Synod is taking place,” in spite of efforts by many pastors and delegates to inform parishioners, he said. He expects interest to build as the Synod begins to identify solutions and initiatives for renewal.

The 5th General Session is set for Saturday May 9 in Trumbull. The 2014 Synod will conclude with a Mass of Thanksgiving and celebration to be held at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard on Saturday September 19 at 10 am. For more information visit the Synod 2014 website at www.synod2014.org.

View slideshow from the Synod session


Health Fair informs employees
| March 20, 2015


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BRIDGEPORT—A Benefits and Health Fair was held on March 19 at the Catholic Center for all diocesan employees.






“We tried to include representatives covering all aspects of life, from biometric screening for Aetna members to health, nutrition and insurance information for everyone, young or old,” said Barbara Grassey, benefits manager for the Catholic Center.

From tea samples to exercise, breast cancer awareness to grief counseling, along with special benefits to diocesan employees, the Health Fair covered a multitude of topics. Employees and visitors moved from table to table, asking questions and discussing possibilities with the representatives. “I was interested in the several nutrition choices, and I spent a lot of time talking to the American Heart Association and St. Vincent’s Medical Center,” said Deacon Bill Bissenden, diocesan archivist.

“I think people pay less attention to their health than they need to,” said Michael Tintrup, vice president of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County. “A reminder presented in such a positive way can help counteract that neglect.”


Bishop forms new Vicariate for Bridgeport
| March 19, 2015


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BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has announced the creation of a sixth vicariate in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Click here to read the bishop's letter.




The new vicariate, Vicariate VI, will encompass all 13 parishes in the City of Bridgeport.

In a formal letter published today, on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of Mary, the bishop has named Fr. Peter Lynch, pastor of St. Ann Church in Black Rock, as Vicar for the newly formed vicariate.

The decision was made after consultations with the episcopal vicars, territorial vicars and the Presbyteral Council.

“The intention of this new structure is to facilitate a closer working relationship among the parishes in the City of Bridgeport,” said Bishop Caggiano.  “I am most grateful to our priest vicars for their leadership and support on this new configuration.”

Under Canon Law, dioceses are typically organized into territories or “vicariates” that correspond with a given region or area of the local Church.   

Fr. Robert Kinnally, Chancellor of the Diocese, said the reconfiguration “will institute a territorial structure that is more practical and which will enable us to respond more readily and pastorally to the needs that are identified in our Diocesan Synod and in the strategic planning process.”

The creation of the new vicariate will necessitate a reorganization of Vicariates III and IV, which formerly had included parishes in from the city of Bridgeport in their territories.  There will be no changes in structure or leadership in Vicariates I, II,  and V.

The Bishop has appointed Fr. Peter Cipriani to replace Peter Lynch as Vicar of Vicariate III.

With the creation of Vicariate VI, the composition of Vicariates III and IV will continue to operate minus the Bridgeport parishes.

The parishes in the new Vicariate VI include The Cathedral Parish, Blessed Sacrament, Our Lady of Fatima, St. Andrew/Our Lady of Good Counsel Chapel, St. Ann, St. Charles Borromeo, SS. Cyril and Methodius, St. George, St. Margaret Shrine, St. Mary, St. Michael the Archangel, and St. Peter.

Vicariates, also known “forane” are a means to subsidiarity and allow a greater sensitivity to the extraordinary diversity of pastoral situations in a diocese.  They render the coordination of pastoral action easier, encourage unity in a region, improve the efficiency of organized pastoral initiatives, and better provide for the needs of a particular community,  said Fr. Kinnally.


4th Synod General Session set for Saturday
| March 19, 2015


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TRUMBULL—“Best Practices and Models of Ministry” will be the focus of The 4th General Session of 2014 Synod set for this Saturday, March 21, at St. Catherine of Siena Parish Center in Trumbull




More than 360 delegates and invited guests will gather for the session as the Synod seeks to find solutions to the challenges outlined in its research and discussion phase.  
     
In particular, delegates will hear presentation on changing models of youth ministry, leadership and parish structure, and evangelization efforts.  
     
Guest speakers include Eric Gallagher Diocese of Sioux Falls, SD, who will discuss Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry; Jim Lundholm-Eades of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management will offer a presentation on Patterns of Dynamic Catholic Leadership; Pete and Claudia Roux – Synod Delegate and Synod Observer, will present on Changing Evangelization models found identified in the “Amazing Parish Conference” and Forming Intentional Disciples.
     
“Our speakers will provide an opportunity for engagement and discussion with the delegates and observers as they put forward different models of youth ministry, church leadership, and evangelization,” said Patrick Turner, Deputy Synod Director.
    
Turner said speakers will focus on models of ministry/best practices with which they are familiar that may be of benefit to us in Fairfield County.
       
Bishop Frank Caggiano will lead the delegates in prayer and also present a talk on “Where do we go from here? Methodology for Implementation of Synod Recommendations.”
     
Delegates will also discuss ways to better communicate Synod goals and recommendations to the larger Church community in Fairfield County.
   
At the 3rd General Session held on February 7, delegates formally approved a series of five global challenges of Liturgy and Worship, Family Life, Evangelization, Leadership, Catechesis and Education.
    
Turner said that the five topics will be the primary focus for the coming months.   
    
“The adoption of these challenges followed months of study and revisions by the Delegates, Study Committees and Synod Commission, working in collaboration with Bishop Caggiano,” Turner said. “These are not the only issues that will be addressed in revitalizing our Diocese, but will be our most immediate Priority Challenges.”
     
The Diocese received nearly 4000 comments, ideas and suggestions during the community listening sessions and through on-line submissions in the spring and early Summer 2014. Based on those comments, ten strategic areas were identified by Synod delegates: Catechesis and Education, Clergy and Religious, Stewardship, Parish Life, Evangelization, Communications, Liturgy and Worship, Justice and Charity, Youth and Young Adults, and Leadership.
    
Saturday’s session will begin at 7:15 Mass celebrated by Fr. Joseph Marcello, Pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Church.  It will be followed by breakfast and 8:20 AM. Welcome and Morning Prayer—led by Fr. David Blanchfield, Pastor of St. Jerome Parish in Norwalk and Msgr. Andy Varga, Pastor of St. Luke Parish in Westport.  
    
On June 29, Bishop Caggiano announced the four major themes of the Synod: Empower the Young Church, Build Up Communities of Faith, Foster Evangelical Outreach, and Promote Works of Charity and Justice.
 
The 2014 Synod will conclude with a Mass of Thanksgiving and celebration to be held at the Arena at Harbor Yard on Saturday September 19 at 10 am.  For more information visit the Synod 2014 website at www.synod2014.org.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Bishop Caggiano: Pastor and teacher to his priests
| March 19, 2015


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Employees in the public and private sectors are familiar with the concept of professional development. In the priesthood, professional development is commonly referred to as “ongoing formation.” The idea, of course, is that priests, like all the baptized, are never fully “formed” during this life, and that formation is only complete at the Resurrection.






The Diocese of Bridgeport takes seriously the ongoing formation of its priests, and in its simplest form, ongoing formation consists of priests gathering together to both listen to a presenter and share some fellowship. On Wednesday afternoon, March 18, at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Wilton, the priests of the diocese were invited to hear a Lenten presentation by a very well-known speaker, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.

In his role as spiritual leader, Bishop Caggiano is also pastor and teacher, and at the Wilton event for his priests he shepherded and taught them about the impact and effects of the ongoing “New Evangelization” in the Diocese of Bridgeport and in the universal Church.

The term “New Evangelization” - popularized by Pope St. John Paul II - was first used at a conference of Mexican bishops in 1979. Nearly 40 years after the term was first employed, the new evangelization remains a focus of the present Pope and is central to the efforts of the synod now underway in the Diocese of Bridgeport. It can even be said that the new evangelization encapsulates the meaning and good fruits of the Second Vatican Council.

As a conceptual term, the new evangelization is abstract, but for his priests, Bishop Caggiano tried to make it a concrete reality. “We as priests must evangelize one person at a time,” he said. “The Pope’s challenge to us is to ‘evangelize’!” He explained that “priests need to accompany people on their journey and lead them to encounter Jesus Christ in a deep, personal and profound way.”

The afternoon of ongoing formation was divided into three parts: two presentations by the bishop, with questions and answers, and a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament, with an opportunity for priests to go to Confession.

During his presentations, Bishop Caggiano made full use of the beautiful stained-glass crucifix above the altar in the church. He turned to it and said that Jesus asks his priests “to willingly hang on the cross for the people of God,” and that “the cross is the washing clean of creation.” Followers of Jesus in the early Church, he explained, were “willing to literally be crucified.”

The new evangelization, Bishop Caggiano said, is a journey in which “we have been ordained as priests to help sanctify the people of God so that the people of God can go out and sanctify the whole world.” As spiritual leaders, he added, “We need to be comfortable with—or acclimate ourselves—to the messiness and brokenness of life.”
In this present age, clergy and religious need to help re-establish the credibility of the Catholic community at the parish and universal level. “We need to raise up an army of believers,” Bishop Caggiano said. “The laity need to be co-workers with us in the works of mercy and charity.”

Before they moved to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, Bishop Caggiano exhorted his priests to be men of prayer. “Prayer is the most important activity in the life of a priest,” he said.

Finally, he reminded his priests that “we have a great advocate in the Mother of God.” This was fitting assurance in a church named in honor of Our Lady of Fatima, the patroness of the synod, on the eve of the feast day of her most chaste spouse, St. Joseph.

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Kolbe achievers take home award
| March 18, 2015


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FAIRFIELD—On March 13, four students from Kolbe Cathedral High School in Bridgeport competed in the Fifth Annual JA Business Challenge at Fairfield University.



(l-r) Casey McNally, Elijah Stephenson, Anjali Pillai, Caroline Spenser.


They competed against 14 other schools in a business simulation game called Titan. After finishing third in Round One, the team of Caroline Spencer, Anjali Pillai, Elijah Stephenson, and Casey McNally, advanced to the winner’s bracket for Round Two. After an intense 12-quarter round, they finished in second place. They will each receive a $500 scholarship.

In addition to the main competition, four students (two girls and two boys) were awarded a best dressed award. Elijah Stephenson received one these awards.


St. Mark Students Top Winners at Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair
| March 18, 2015


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STRATFORD—Five St. Mark School Students participated in the Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair held at Quinnipiac University last week, and captured both the First and Second place trophies in 8th Grade Physical Science.




Emily Fedor was awarded first place in 8th Grade Physical Science for her project, "Using Induced Wind Force to Increase the Efficiency of an Electric Vehicle Battery". She received five awards for her project, earning over $1400 in cash and prizes. Kristen Robertson received second place in 8th Grade Physical Science for her project, "Energy Scavenging—Proving the Seebeck Effect with a Homemade Thermoelectric Generator: A Source of Free, Sustainable, Low-Voltage Power,” she received four awards and over $500 in cash and prizes.

Sophie Kirn received Second Honors for her project, "How Substances Affect Tonic Water Glow", Natalie Sciallo received Second Honors for her project, "A Photosynthesis Lab: The Effect of Light Intensity, Water Temperature, Colored Lights, and Contaminated Water on the Rate of Photosynthesis of the Aquatic Plant, Elodea Densa", and Kelly DeRosa received Third Honors for her project, "Relinquishing Rust".

This year, more than 500 projects were entered in the Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair, with over 600 students participating. The fair awarded almost $300,000 in cash and prizes.


Mass Mob Fairfield County
| March 18, 2015


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DANBURY—Mass Mob III broke the record for the largest Mass Mob in Fairfield County!




The Mass Mob on March 15 at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish topped the list. How awesome is that?

A big thanks to Father Peter Towsley, the pastor of Sacred Heart, for his kind welcome and his great homily!

Our heartfelt thanks to Jaimee Keogler, the DRE of Sacred Heart, for all of her help too. And of course, thank you to all of the parishioners of Sacred Heart who were more than kind, gracious, and welcoming!!

Now, about that next Mass Mob... In case you weren't able to join us in Danbury, we're letting you know right here, right now: Mass Mob IV will be at St. Patrick Church in Bridgeport on April 19 at 12:30 pm. We hope to see you there!

Click here to view photos


Bridgeport goes green for St. Patrick’s Day
| March 18, 2015


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BRIDGEPORT—The St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Bridgeport began on March 17 with Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral at 8 am. Msgr. Chris Walsh, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Shelton and chaplain of this year’s observance in Bridgeport, celebrated the Mass, as he does every year.





“For me, a big part of my Irish heritage is the heritage of faith passed on to me by my parents,” he said.“

With the “Luck o’ the Irish,” the parade itself stepped off from Harbor Yard at noon to brightening skies after the morning rain. Ted Lovely, a member of Christ the King Parish in Trumbull, was Grand Marshal.

Grand Marshals are chosen not only for their Irish background but for their involvement in the Irish community in the Bridgeport area. Lovely and his wife, Nancy, have been members of the Greater Bridgeport St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee for 10 years. He has marched with the Hibernians in Bridgeport’s Parade every year. This year he rode, wearing a green derby hat, his Grand Marshal’s sash and a wide Irish smile.

Click here to view photos of the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade


St. Joseph High School Hosts 4th Annual Ladies’ Luncheon with guest Natalie Green Hammond
| March 18, 2015 • by By: Dana Christos


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FAIRFIELD—St. Joseph High School hosted its 4th Annual Past, Present and Future Ladies’ Luncheon on Sunday, March 15, 2015 at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, Connecticut.



Current St Joseph High School Parents shopped the afternoon away at the annual Ladies’ Luncheon at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, Connecticut.


More than 200 women gathered on Sunday for the Ladies’ Luncheon. Twenty vendors provided a magnificent shopping experience for the attendees, which created a unique boutique feel, setting the stage for the day.

Former Sandy Hook Elementary Vice Principal and Lead Teacher, Natalie Green Hammond (pictured with William J. Fitzgerald, M.Div., M.Ed., Ph.D., President St. Joseph High School), an alumnus of St. Joseph High School class of 1990 and current parent of a St. Joseph High School Freshman, gave an inspirational program during the luncheon about the recurring theme of “Past, Present and Future.”

Natalie was born into St. Joe's life, as both her parents were former teachers at St. Joes and spent lots of time visiting the school as a youngster. She also reminisced on her four years as a St. Joes Cadet, where she participated in sports and addressed her life in present as a current parent of a St. Joes student.

In conclusion, Natalie spoke about on how her life was “spared” during the Sandy Hook shootings on December 14, 2012 and how she reached a turning point to realize her purpose. Not only did she recently become a certified school administrator, she and her husband started the 26 Angels Foundation, which provides activities including, fishing and golf tournaments and various events for the Sandy Hook Community.

This year’s luncheon was chaired by Tracey Ivanovich Picarazzi ’82 of Trumbull, Connecticut, Parent ’15 and Trish Trefz, of Trumbull, Connecticut, Parent ‘13, ’15, ’16, ’16. Monies from the event benefit St. Joseph High School.

St. Joseph High School strives to be the premier college preparatory school in Southern Connecticut. The school provides a learning environment that embraces the Gospel values of the Roman Catholic faith and promotes a commitment to family and community. The school prepares our young women and men to realize their potential, helps them excel in higher education and provides a foundation to guide them throughout their lives. The New England Association of Schools and Colleges accredits St. Joseph High School.

For additional information please contact Dana Christos, Director of Strategic Marketing & Communications, at 203.378.9378 ext. 306 or via email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


| March 17, 2015 • by By: Paul Silverfarb


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TRUMBULL—The chase is over for the St. Joseph High School girls basketball team.



Head coach Chris Lindwall and the rest of the St. Joseph High School
girls basketball team can’t hide his emotions after winning the CIAC
class M semfinals over Enfield.   (Photo by Paul Silverfarb)


After a dominating performance in the semifinals against No. 10 seeded Enfield High School, the No. 11 seeded Cadets will be running to the Mohegan Sun Arena this weekend for the CIAC class M championship after beating the Raiders 61-39.

“It was very emotional,” SJHS head coach Chris Lindwall said. “It’s for these kids because they’ve worked so hard. It’s about them and the program. It’s the program’s first trip since 1979 and we’ve been building and building. It’s my fourth year here, so it’s all about getting these guys through the system and what we want to do and how we want to do it.”

With the victory, the Cadets will play for the championship game for the first time since the 1979 season and will compete against No. 4 seeded Cromwell.

In a game where the Cadets didn’t make a two-point shot in the first half and finished the game with 15 three-pointers, nobody had a better day than St. Joseph’s Shannon O’Meara.

Playing with a very heavy heart, the SJHS senior finished with nine three-pointers and had 27 points.

O’Meara, who seemed like she couldn’t miss on the day, dedicated the game to her grandfather, John Lyons, who passed away two days ago after struggling with Parkinson’s Disease.

“It’s a great feeling,” O’Meara said. “Having a hard past couple of days, it was great and outstanding to have these feelings right now. This game was for him. He was watching me tonight, that’s for sure. Words can’t even describe it right now. It’s an amazing feeling. I just felt the rhythm and my teammates were supporting me all the way.”

“Shannon had to leave practice and she played for him tonight,” Lindwall said. “Nine three’s in one game is amazing. It was an incredible night of shooting. She was in the zone.”

O’Meara wasn’t the only person hitting the long ball. Bridget Sharnick finished with 19 points on the night and five of her shots were from downtown. Maite Gritsko added six points and Caitlin Sharnick pitched in with four.

For the Raiders, Mary Baskerville led the team with 14 points, while Morgan Baskerville finished with six. Olivia Carmona added five points and Danielle Delano pitched in with seven points. Taylor Poletti netted four for Enfield.

The story of the first half was the deep ball, as St. Joseph’s dominated from beyond the three-point line.

After the Raiders took a 6-0 lead, O’Meara got the Cadets on the board with a three-pointer with 4:31 left in the quarter. Just over 15 seconds later, O’Meara struck again to knot the score at 6-6.

After Enfield’s Taylor Poletti hit the layup to regain the lead for the Raiders, St. Joe’s exploded for a 13-0 run, with four of the shots coming from three-point land.

Off a break, O’Meara hit the three-pointer and. After Gritsko went 1-from-2 from the line, O’Meara ended the quarter when the team grabbed the offensive rebound, kicked it out to O’Meara and hit the three to make the score 15-8 after one.

Keeping the good times rolling, Bridget Sharnick started the second with a baseline three with 6:00 left in the half and O’Meara backed that up with a three-pointer 30 seconds later to extend the lead to 21-8.

“That’s not really our game,” Lindwall said. “That’s the funny thing. We are a decent three-point shooting team and we do rely on it, but [Enfield] played a very good 1-3-1 that took away the middle. Jackie [Jozefick] and Bridget are our strength over the past two weeks. They took it away and we had to take whatever they gave us.”

The Raiders tried to stop the bleeding when Delano went 1-for-2 from the line and Morgan Baskerville grabbed the offensive rebound and putback to bring the score within 10. However, the Cadets came storming back when Bridget Sharnick and Gritsko sank back-to-back three-pointers and drove the lead back up to 16 with 2:15 left in the half.

“I had to believe that we could do this,” O’Meara said. “I am a senior and we wanted it. We wanted it since last year. It was a fantastic feeling seeing the time wind down. We were all excited and there’s no words for it.”

In addition to the hot shooting, the Cadets were outstanding on defense. After building the 6-0 lead with 5:37 left in the first, the Raiders were unable to get comfortable offensively.

They didn’t score a field goal again until 2:35 left in the quarter. From there, Enfield was unable to get a bucket until midway through the second quarter.

“Our press has been good and very beneficial to us,” Lindwall said. “We needed to score to get into that press, but we changed some things over the past three days with what we were doing in the press. It took away the middle of what they wanted to do.”


County Kilkenny, Ireland native awarded full scholarship to Fairfield University’s Dolan School of Business
| March 17, 2015


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FAIRFIELD—Bags packed, new college degree in hand, Sean Donovan was about to start a job that his heart wasn’t into.




But then a letter arrived from Fairfield University that changed everything.

It conveyed that Donovan had been awarded the Rev. John M. Conlisk Irish Scholarship to attend the Dolan School of Business, worth about $55,000. It is given annually to a graduate student from Ireland to help their career prospects, and it covers all tuition, housing and medical insurance expenses for the time it takes to earn a master’s degree. The scholarship is named for the late Fr. Conlisk, a 1954 Fairfield Prep graduate who served the Diocese of Bridgeport.

“It was amazing,” said Donovan, of Callan, County Kilkenny, Ireland. “I read it again, and then a third time. I thought, ‘I’ve got to show this to people.’ ”

For Donovan, the full scholarship means an opportunity to obtain a global business education from an American, Jesuit business school.

It couldn’t have come at a better time. Ireland’s unemployment rate has been stubbornly high, and hovers now at 10.60 percent. That has led many young Irish people to emigrate for work. Many of Donovan’s friends moved to the United Kingdom to become teachers, while some are working as engineers in Australia.

The Rev. John M. Conlisk Irish Scholarship at Fairfield was founded more than two decades ago when the Irish economy was struggling. A group of Irish Americans led by Fairfield University trustee Kevin M. Conlisk '66 believed a scholarship would give an Irish student an opportunity to make business contacts and enhance his or her options. The scholarship is named for Mr. Conlisk’s late brother. Many of the founding scholarship committee members are first or second generation Irish Americans, and established it to help a deserving young Irishman.

Donovan recently had the chance to meet his benefactors. “I thought there would be maybe 10 of them,” he recalled. “There were around 40 people. I told them how grateful I am.”

Donovan, 22, is a 2014 graduate of the University of Limerick, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business studies and majored in accounting and finance.

“I know I’m really lucky to be here,” said Donovan, who is pursuing an MBA, with a concentration in accounting.

Since starting Fairfield in fall of 2014, he has taken courses in accounting with Dr. Dawn Massey, law and ethics with Dr. David Schmidt, marketing with Dr. Mousumi Bose Godbole, and finance with Dr. Tom E. Conine, Jr. “ A lot of my classes are with working adults and they bring an American worker’s point of view into discussions,” said Donovan, who is complementing his classroom studies with an internship at KPMG in Stamford, Connecticut. “I also like it when other [international] students bring their points of view into class. And I’m learning a lot of new perspectives from my roommate who is from Asia.”

The next 12 months at Fairfield will give Donovan plenty of time to explore his options. “I just want to breathe and test the waters here,” he said.

Rev. John M. Conlisk Irish Scholarship has helped Irish students for more than two decades. Opportunity to broaden career prospects and gain global business education. 

For more information about the Dolan School, visit http://www.fairfield.edu/academics/schoolscollegescenters/charlesfdolanschoolofbusiness/.  

Fairfield University’s Dolan School of Business is a leader in Jesuit business education, creating a strong learning community, enlivened by a rigorous liberal arts and business core, that develops career ready students’ potential to be ethical business leaders for a global future. The School is ranked among the best undergraduate and graduate business programs in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, U.S. News & World Report, and Princeton Review. LinkedIn named it one of the best schools for accounting professionals. Its degree programs have been accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International) since 1997.


Walking the Cross: A Lenten Journey
| March 16, 2015


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NORWALK—It was an afternoon in which people “Walked the Cross” with prayer, in silence, saying the Rosary, and in song.



"Walk the Cross" Map of seven churches in Norwalk


On Sunday, March 15, parishioners of the seven Catholic Parishes in Norwalk participated in a “Walking the Cross.” A large wooden cross was carried from one church to another by people of all ages, linking all seven churches in a special way during the season of Lent.

Each Norwalk parish was represented by a group of faithful who carried the cross  from their parish and handing it off to the next.  (See the map for the route).

The Walk began after the 9 am Mass at St. Matthew and end before the 6 pm Mass at St. Jerome. All Norwalk parishes participated including St Matthew, St Ladislaus, St. Joseph, St. Thomas, St. Mary, St. Philip, and St. Jerome.

The walk was organized by Kali DiMarco and  Mike Pappa of St. Philip Church in Norwalk. 

Click Here
for photos


Pope announces Holy Year of Mercy
| March 16, 2015 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


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VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis announced an extraordinary jubilee, a Holy Year of Mercy, to highlight the Catholic Church's “mission to be a witness of mercy.”  “No one can be excluded from God’s mercy,” the pope said March 13, marking the second anniversary of his pontificate by leading a Lenten penance service in St. Peter’s Basilica.
 



Pope Francis is pictured during a visit to St. Mary Mother of the Redeemer Parish
on the outskirts of Rome March 8. (CNS/Paul Haring)


“I frequently have thought about how the church can make more evident its mission to be a witness of mercy,” he said during his homily; that is why he decided to call a special Holy Year, which will be celebrated from December 8, 2015 through November 20, 2016.

The biblical theme of the year, he said, will be “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful,” an admonition that applies “especially to confessors,” the pope said with a smile.


(click here for video)

Traditionally, every 25 years the popes proclaim a holy year, which features special celebrations and pilgrimages, strong calls for conversion and repentance, and the offer of special opportunities to experience God's grace through the sacraments, especially confession. Extraordinary holy years, like the Holy Year of Mercy, are less frequent, but offer the same opportunities for spiritual growth.

The doors of the church “are wide open so that all those who are touched by grace can find the certainty of forgiveness,” Pope Francis said at the penance service, which featured individual confessions. It was part of a worldwide celebration of “24 Hours for the Lord,” in which Catholic churches were staying open for prayer, eucharistic adoration and confession.

At each of the dozens of confessionals in St. Peter’s Basilica, as well as in simple chairs scattered along the walls, priests welcomed people to the sacrament. The pope removed his liturgical vestments and went to confession before putting on a purple stole and hearing the confessions of others.

“God never ceases to demonstrate the richness of his mercy over the course of centuries,” the pope said in his homily, which preceded the confessions. God touches people’s hearts with his grace, filling them with repentance and a desire to “experience his love.”

“Being touched by the tenderness of his hand,” people should not be afraid to approach a priest and confess their sins, he said. In the confessional, one has “the certainty of being welcomed in the name of God and understood, despite our misery.”

“The greater the sin, the greater the love, which the church must express toward those who convert,” Pope Francis said.

The Gospel reading at the penance service was the story of the sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. Every time one goes to confession, the pope said, “we feel the same compassionate gaze of Jesus” that she did.

Jesus’ love, he said, allowed her to draw near, to demonstrate her repentance and to show her love for him. “Every gesture of this woman speaks of love and expresses her desire to have an unshakable certainty in her life, that of having been forgiven.”

“Love and forgiveness are simultaneous” in the story of each person, just as in the story of the sinful woman, he said. “God forgave her for much—for everything—because he loved her much.”

Through Jesus, the pope said, God took the woman's sins and “threw them over his shoulder, he no longer remembers them.”

Jesus’ encounter with the woman took place in the home of a Pharisee named Simon. Unlike the woman, the pope said, Simon “isn't able to find the path of love. He remains stopped at the threshold of formality. He is not able to take the next step to encounter Jesus, who brings salvation.”

The Pharisee is concerned only with following God's law, with justice, which is a mistake, the pope said. “His judgment of the woman distances him from the truth and prevents him from understanding who his guest is.”

Jesus scolds Simon, pointing out how the “sinful woman” has shown nothing but love and repentance, the pope said. “’Jesus’ rebuke pushes each of us to never stop at the surface of things, especially when dealing with a person. We are called to look deeper, to focus on the heart in order to see how much generosity the person is capable of.”

Pope Francis said he asked the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization to coordinate preparations for the Holy Year so that it would be “a new stage in the church’s journey in fulfilling its mission of bringing the Gospel of mercy to each person.”


VOTF presents Compassion Awards
| March 16, 2015


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FAIRFIELD—Bob Wilkins of Trumbull, Chair of the Voice of the Faithful Compassion Fund, presented awards totaling $7,450 at the VOTF Annual Conference held on March 14 at Fairfield University.




Recipients included T.J. Boyrer, participant in the St. Philip Parish 30-hour Famine Campaign and Mike Falbo, participant in the St. Philip Parish 30-hour Famine Campaign (donations to Manna House); Linda Casey, Bridgeport Rescue Mission; Anne McCrory, Chief Legal Officer of the Diocese of Bridgeport (donation to Safe Environments program); Rai’jona Crear, Open Door Shelter (Norwalk).

Three organizations that received awards from the VOTF Voice of Compassion Fund were unable to send representatives to the Conference. They were the Daughters of Charity (Bridgeport), the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP-CT), and the Center for Youth Leadership at Brien McMahon High School (Norwalk).


The power of one day - Convivio High School Congress 2015
| March 13, 2015 • by By Will Mercier


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FAIRFIELD—With the synod underway, 2015 is a landmark year in the Diocese of Bridgeport. Contributing to the uniqueness of this year, Convivio, the annual Catholic youth conference, was held on one day this year, rather than the three days it has been in the past.



Will Mercier, a member of St. Jude Parish
in Monroe, attends St. Joseph High School


Convivio took place on March 7 at Sacred Heart University. This year’s theme was “The Power of One Day.” As an extraordinary benefit, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano was present with us for most of the day! For those unfamiliar with Convivio, the day consists of many activities which aim to increase our relationship with the Lord. Inspirational talks are given throughout the day, which serves to reinforce the theme that one day can make a drastic difference. There are also sacramental opportunities such as Reconciliation, Eucharistic Adoration, and Mass with Bishop Caggiano.

The theme of Convivio especially resonates this year, for it reiterates the importance of what just one day can do. We are shown many times in the Bible, especially with the Apostles, that one day can make a major difference in a person’s life. Jesus called people away from their daily lives and told them to follow him. Because of this one day, their lives were completely changed. Convivio offers such a potential to change you. At Convivio, you encounter Christ many times throughout the day, perhaps most palpably during Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. Each encounter you have deepens your relationship with him.

Speaking from personal experience, I can greatly assure you that these encounters are lasting and they change you for the better. I have learned much from each of the two Convivios I have attended, and at each one I have encountered Christ in a unique way. I experienced this again.

Convivio is only the beginning of opportunities you can partake in to expand your relationship with the Lord. There are extensions of Convivio such as the “Christmas Extravaganza,” a party for special needs children in our diocese. We were also introduced to the High School Apostles program. This leadership program allows youths to continue their service to the Lord by leading Confirmation Retreats throughout the diocese and meeting once a month to discuss and reflect on the faith.

As we are all aware, an incredible amount can happen in one day; one day can completely change your life. We allowed Convivio to be that day, and we all felt a deeper relationship with God by the time the day is over.

Convivio is a fun opportunity that allows Catholic youth to connect, make friends, and grow closer to Jesus. A person’s life can change in a matter of seconds; imagine all the opportunities for change this one day offered.

(Will Mercier, a member of St. Jude Parish in Monroe, attends St. Joseph High School.)


White Mass speaker to focus on ethics of genetics
| March 13, 2015 • by Brian D. Wallace, Editor


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DANBURY—The  22nd annual White Mass and breakfast honoring health care professionals will be held on Sunday, April 12, 8:30 am at St. Aloysius Church in New Canaan.




The Mass, open to the general public, will be celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano. Breakfast will follow at Woodway Country Club in Darien. Father Kevin Fitzgerald, S.J., associate professor of bioethics at Georgetown University's School of Medicine and an expert in ethical issues related to cloning and genetic testing, will be the featured speaker.

Father Kevin FitzGerald is a research associate professor in the division of biochemistry and pharmacology of the Department of Oncology and the Dr. David P. Lauler chair for Catholic Health Care Ethics. He is also a member of the Center for Clinical Bioethics, the Advisory Board for the Center for Infectious Disease (CID), and the Angiogenesis, Invasion, Metastasis Program at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

His research interests have included the investigation of abnormal gene regulation in cancer and ethical issues in human genetics, including the ethical and social ramifications of molecular genetics research. He is also a Jesuit priest and an expert on ethical issues in personalized medicine, pharmacogenomics, human cloning research, stem cell research, and genetic testing.

He earned a second PhD in bioethics in 1999 at Georgetown University, after also achieving a doctorate in from  Georgetown in 1996 in molecular biology. His undergraduate degree is from Cornell University (1977) in biology. He was awarded his masters in divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology in 1988.

At the breakfast, two area healthcare professionals will be presented the Father Rufin Compassionate Care Award. The recipients are traditionally drawn from the ranks of physicians, nurses, dentists, healthcare workers or healthcare volunteers in Fairfield County who exemplify the compassionate and loving care for the sick for which the late Father Rufin Kuveikis, a Capuchin Franciscan, was known as chaplain at Norwalk Hospital for 18 years. He died in 2008 at age 86.

This is the seventh year that the Father Rufin Compassionate Care Award will be presented at the White Mass breakfast.

(All healthcare workers and their guests are invited to attend the White Mass. Brunch tickets: $35. For more info and tickets, contact Debbie Charles: 203.416.1352 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Edward Cardinal Egan’s Signature Achievement
| March 11, 2015


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Edward Cardinal Egan’s signature achievement for vocations to the priesthood is St. John Fisher Seminary. Since its founding in 1989, nearly 100 men have been ordained who spent some time at Fisher during their priestly formation.



Giving the homily at the 25th Anniversary Mass.


25th Anniversary Dinner at the Inn at Longshore.


Cardinal Egan is recognized at the anniversary dinner.


Cardinal Egan's last official turn at the ambo in the Diocese
of Bridgeport, on February 8, 2015, at St. Aloysius Church
in New Canaan.


On June 20, 2014, Cardinal Egan was the homilist at the Mass celebrating Fisher’s 25th anniversary. Excerpts from the homily that he gave that evening are contained below. It was one of his last official visits to the Diocese of Bridgeport.

The homily below was first published in my blog, “My iPhone and Fisher’s 25th Anniversary Celebration,” which can be found in my blog archives, dated July 1, 2014 (archived blogs can be found by clicking on the heading below my four latest posts).

Excerpts from Cardinal Egan’s homily at the Mass to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of St. John Fisher Seminary (Friday evening, June 20, 2014: Assumption Parish, Westport, Conn.):
 
That Gospel reading (John 17:11b-19) is the high-priestly prayer of Jesus Christ to his seminarians at the Last Supper. And in that high-priestly prayer and exactly in that passage, you have the program for how to run a seminary.
 
It opens up with Jesus Christ announcing that he needs the Father in heaven to protect, guard and nurture the calling of his Apostles... Three times he begs the Father in heaven: ‘See to it the young men who are at the table with me will pursue the calling he has given them in holiness and grace’...
 
Jesus Christ wants the seminary to be a place where the calling is protected, guarded and nurtured by prayer, by study, and by the example of the priests who guide the seminarians just as the Lord was the example for his seminarians, the Apostles. And John Fisher Seminary does this magnificently... and it does it with devotion, exuberance, and with the great style of the Diocese of Bridgeport!
 
The second thing the Lord tells us about his seminary is that the seminarians need to know the Word of God and be able to teach it, whole and entire, nothing left out, nothing added... and I have never had any doubt that the Gospel is being preached at St. John Fisher!...
 
The third and final element in this high-priestly prayer is that seminarians are to know that they are to be consecrated...so that they can go out and consecrate and make holy the world...
 
Those are the three elements of the seminary of Jesus Christ...
 
There is an element in every seminary that is over and above the three elements I have already mentioned. The seminary has to teach future priests to be men of kindness, compassion and love...
 
And I believe that in addition to your wonderful faculty at St. John Fisher, you have another addition that you may not be aware of right now, and his name is Pope Francis... and I would like to think that the men who are in seminary now will learn from him; imitate him; be sure that kindness, compassion and love are part of their lives.

_________________________________________________________________________________

(The following article originally appeared in the June, 2014 edition of the Fairfield County Catholic).

St. John Fisher and the Church Triumphant
By Father Colin McKenna

(This was one of Cardinal Egan’s last official visits to the Diocese of Bridgeport)

On Friday evening, June 20 (2014), the sanctuary in Assumption Church in Westport was awash with brilliant shades of red. The Cardinal Emeritus of New York, Edward Egan, was looking splendid in his cardinal’s attire and Bishop Frank J. Caggiano was also resplendent in red vestments for the occasion, flanked by two newly ordained deacons who wore red vestments that matched the bishop. To top it off, the pastor of Assumption, Father Tom Thorne, had arranged two enormous bouquets of red roses for the celebration, one in front of the altar and one in front of the ambo. In total, there were over one-hundred fresh red roses helping to illuminate the sacred space.

Liturgical red was the color of the occasion because those gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of St. John Fisher Seminary gathered first to celebrate the holy sacrifice of the Mass, with the liturgical prayers for the feast day of St. John Fisher, an English bishop who was martyred by King Henry VIII. The color red in the Church honors the martyrs but it is also the color of victory, and the tone set during the Mass was certainly triumphant. With over 50 priest concelebrants—many of whom had attended Fisher—and many more religious and laity in attendance, both Cardinal Egan and Bishop Caggiano spoke to the tremendous success that has been St. John Fisher Seminary. And Cardinal Egan even joked about looking forward to attending its 50th anniversary!

After the Mass, the celebration moved to the Inn at Longshore on Long Island Sound where many more were able to join the festivities. In total, about 400 people enjoyed a cocktail hour in perfect weather on the outdoor patio overlooking the water before moving inside to enjoy a three-course banquet. In addition to thanking Cardinal Egan for spearheading the Fisher Seminary, other honorees who have been pivotal to the success of Fisher included Phil and Judy DeFelice, David Harvey, Dr. James Long and Drs. John and Liane Pioli.

Father Robert Kinnally, the current rector of Fisher, served as master of ceremonies for the evening, where it was announced that in addition to his current duties as rector and director of formation, he has been named the new chancellor of the Diocese of Bridgeport. Bishop Caggiano joked that Father Kinnally is going to be “a very busy man!”

In a spirit of triumph, Father Kinnally acknowledged the hard work of vocation director Father Sam Kachuba. As it now stands, ten men are scheduled to enter formation at Fisher this coming September. To make his point even more dramatic, Father Kinnally asked all of the seminarians in attendance to stand up, and the twenty or so men who did so received a rousing round of applause.

One note of humorous controversy that has been circulating concerns the exact number of men who have attended Fisher and have gone on to be ordained priests for Bridgeport. Cardinal Egan poked fun at Bishop Caggiano, who once said the number was around 80 men. By Cardinal Egan’s accounting, the number is 95, including our most recently ordained. As if to settle the matter, Father Kinnally said at one point during the festivities that “more than one-million men have come through Fisher and have been ordained priests for Bridgeport!”

Whatever the exact number, soon more than one hundred men will have attended Fisher and will have been ordained priests for the Diocese of Bridgeport. In this day and age, when Catholics and others frequently wonder where future Catholic priests will come from, the Diocese of Bridgeport has found the answer: St. John Fisher Seminary.

(Cardinal Egan’s last official visit to the Diocese of Bridgeport was on February 8, 2015, to celebrate Msgr. Bill Scheyd’s 50th anniversary as a priest. The following article appeared online at www.bridgeportdiocese.com).


50 Years of Thanksgiving | February 09, 2015 •
By Father Colin McKenna

NEW CANAAN—February 10, 1965, was a cold, rainy, snowy and sleeting day.

Deacon Bill Scheyd was worried that he might not make it to his ordination Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport. His car was slipping and sliding as he made his way to become a priest, but he made it, and the diocese has been greatly blessed ever since.

On Sunday, February 8, at St. Aloysius Church in New Canaan, Msgr. Bill Scheyd celebrated his 50th anniversary Mass as a priest, to the great joy of hundreds of people in attendance, including clergy, religious, family, friends and parishioners.

The church was packed for the regularly scheduled 11:30 am Mass that served as the anniversary liturgy, but this was no ordinary Sunday parish Mass. In attendance were 13 concelebrating priests; 3 choirs; 6 altar-servers; 2 deacons; 1 Cardinal; 1 Bishop; a harpist, a percussionist and a horn section. This was grand liturgy!
 
In his remarks before the final blessing, Cardinal Egan said, “In Msgr. Scheyd we have all been blessed with a great priest.” In response, the entire congregation stood and gave Msgr. Scheyd a lengthy standing ovation.

Bishop Caggiano explained to the congregation that when he first arrived in the diocese, Msgr. Scheyd gently took him aside and said, “Bishop, whatever you need, I’m here to help you.” This was an assurance that gave the newly minted Bishop of Bridgeport great comfort.

Msgr. William Joseph Scheyd, born and raised in Bridgeport, has been Vicar General for four successive bishops in the Diocese of Bridgeport. Cardinal Egan mused that such a feat must be some kind of record.
 
When he was thirteen years old, Bill Scheyd was among the throngs of Catholic school-children who greeted the first Bishop of Bridgeport, Lawrence J. Shehan, at the Bridgeport train station. This was 1953, when the Diocese of Bridgeport was formed from the Archdiocese of Hartford.

Msgr. Scheyd’s 50 years as a priest have nearly spanned the life of the diocese. Cardinal Egan quipped that we should all mark our calendars now for Msgr.’s 75th anniversary celebration, to be held in 2040. Msgr. Scheyd replied that he would be delighted to have the Cardinal attend his 75th!

During his homily, Msgr. Scheyd partly attributed his lengthy career and perseverance to genetics. “My father worked in the same company for 46 years,’ he said. In truth, Msgr. stated, ‘Without Jesus Christ we can do nothing.” He explained that this Mass was an act of thanksgiving to God.

“I am grateful to God,” Msgr. said, adding that he is also grateful to all who have helped him serve 50 years as a priest, many of whom were present.
 
“Trying to imitate Jesus Christ is a great challenge,” he said. “You all have been for me the strength and support which has brought me to this day.” He also thanked his special and powerful patron, St. Joseph (from whom he received his middle name).

After the Mass, all were invited to a reception in the church hall where a beautiful cake was inscribed with a message that summed up the day: “50 and counting! Thank you!”

What return can I make to the Lord for all His goodness to me? I will raise up the cup of salvation and call on the Name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people. (Psalm 116: 12-14)  

May Edward Cardinal Egan Rest in Peace.
       

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Diocesan Lenten Retreat
| March 11, 2015


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STRATFORD—All are invited to the Diocesan Lent retreat on Saturday, March 28 at Our Lady of Peace Parish in Stratford beginning with 8 am Mass and concluding at 12:30 pm.

Light breakfast will be served after Mass. There will be a live performance by Glenn Smith on the life of Saint Paul. After the performance there will be time for reflection, prayer, and conversation.

To register, mail check for $15pp, made payable to: “Office of Faith Formation,” Attn: Gina Donnarummo, 238 Jewett Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06606. Please include email address and/or phone number.

Click here for the attached flyer. For more information or contact Gina Donnarummo at 203.416.1446 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Cardinal Dolan: The church thanks God for Cardinal Egan
| March 10, 2015 • by By VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press


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NEW YORK—Cardinal Edward Egan was God's servant and worked tirelessly for parishes, charities, health care and education, Cardinal Timothy Dolan said Tuesday at a funeral Mass for one of the most powerful prelates in the global Roman Catholic Church.




Dolan told the 2,500 people packing St. Patrick's Cathedral that Egan "was uncomfortable with eulogies" but Dolan went on to praise him nonetheless. He said Catholics from fellow cardinals to "God's good people" could tell of "consolation given on and after 9/11, prayers offered, sick visited, prisoners encouraged, children taught, immigrants welcomed, and parishes strengthened."

"Now this Church thanks God for him and commends his noble, priestly soul to the everlasting mercy of Jesus," Dolan said.

Egan died Thursday after a heart attack. A Vatican theological force, he led the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York for almost a decade, including on Sept. 11, 2001, when hijacked planes destroyed the World Trade Center and more than 2,700 died. In the days and weeks that followed, Egan performed many funerals.

Tuesday's music-filled service got off to a noisy start with drummers and bagpipers from New York City's police and fire departments accompanying a funeral procession along the blocked-off streets around the cathedral in midtown Manhattan.

In the packed cathedral, amid construction scaffolding, solemn church music took over as several hundred Catholic clergy, including almost a dozen cardinals and archbishops and about 30 bishops, walked slowly down the center aisle toward Egan's casket, draped in white and gold at the foot of the altar.

Several of Egan's relatives took part in the Mass.

In the pews were Gov. Andrew Cuomo and four New York mayors: incumbent Bill De Blasio and former mayors Michael Bloomberg, Rudy Giuliani and David Dinkins.

International opera stars Renee Fleming and Matthew Polenzani sang Cesar Franck's "Panis Angelicus" and Fleming sang Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria." Fleming was a friend who sang at Egan's installation in 2000.

Outside, police barriers held back crowds. Metal detectors were placed at the cathedral's entrances.

After the Mass, the casket was lowered into a crypt below the altar, where archbishops and other notable Catholics have been entombed.

At a viewing attended by thousands Monday and Tuesday, Egan lay in the vast stone cathedral where his rich, booming voice once rang out — his hands folded across his chest, a rosary interlaced in his fingers.

With the title of archbishop emeritus, Egan retired in 2009 after nine years of leading the archdiocese, which serves more than 2.6 million Catholics in about 400 parishes in parts of the city and its northern suburbs.

The cardinal, born in Oak Park, Illinois, was an authority on church law and fluent in Latin — one of just a few experts tapped by Pope John Paul II to help with the herculean job of revising the Code of Canon Law for the global church, while deftly navigating the maze of Vatican politics.

He later oversaw an unpopular, thorny overhaul of New York church finances, eliminating a multimillion-dollar debt.


Champions!
| March 09, 2015


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NEWTOWN—St. Rose of Lima School’s Varsity Boys Basketball team defeated St. Joseph’s School from Brookfield 63-59 this past Saturday to win the Parochial League Tournament Championships.



(L to R) front row: Charlie Asetta, Stephen Sedensky,
Ryan McNerny, Aidan Moulder, Joey Rios &
Patrick Grover. Second row: Coach Joe DeMaida,
Aaron Kirby, Gavin Connors, Griffin Cross, Mark Leonardi,
Christopher Beal, Luke Kirby and Assistant Coach John Moulder.



Bishop Caggiano announces Diocesan Memorial Mass for Cardinal Egan Funeral arrangement set at St .Patrick’s
| March 07, 2015


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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is with great sadness that I write to you about the death yesterday of His Eminence, Edward Cardinal Egan, Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of New York. 




As you know, Cardinal Egan was the third bishop of Bridgeport serving in that capacity from 1988 to 2000. His Eminence was a good friend and mentor to me and our priests including the many who were ordained by him.

Cardinal Egan’s years of pastoral care for our diocese extended well beyond his time as Bishop of Bridgeport. It was only a few weeks ago that Archbishop Egan was present at Monsignor William Scheyd’s 50th Ordination Anniversary Mass, and just this past summer the Cardinal joined us in celebrating that day 25 years ago when he founded St. John Fisher Seminary.

Next month the Cardinal was to join us to help launch our new initiatives in Catholic Education and conclude our fundraising for the new St. John Fisher Seminary. Now instead we pray for the repose of his soul and give thanks for what God has done for the Diocese of Bridgeport and the Church universal through the ministry of Cardinal Egan.

Below you will find the funeral arrangements for Cardinal Egan as well as the announcement of a Memorial Mass to be held in the Diocese of Bridgeport. I am hopeful you will take a moment to read his biography (below); it describes a man of great faith whose 58 years of priestly ministry were marked by generous and significant leadership in service to the Church.

In the meantime, may I have asked our pastors to remember Edward Cardinal Egan in their prayers and at Mass, and to include a prayer for him in this weekend’s parish Universal Prayer (Prayer of the Faithful).

Faithfully yours in Christ,

Bishop Frank


FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS

Monday, March 9

  • The Cardinal’s body will be received at St. Patrick’s Cathedral at 10:00 AM. Thereafter a private family visitation will take place until noon.
  • From 12:00 PM until 6:00 PM, public visitation will take place at St. Patrick’s.
  • A Vigil Mass will be offered at 6:00 PM and visitation will continue after the Mass until 9:00 PM.

Tuesday, March 10

  • Public visitation will take place from 7:00 AM to 11:00 AM.
  • The funeral Mass will begin at 2:00 PM (Procession begins at 1:30 PM).
  • Cardinal Timothy Dolan will be the celebrant and homilist.
  • Entombment in the crypt beneath the High Altar will immediately follow the Mass.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Inner-City Scholarship Fund or The Restoration of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

MEMORIAL MASS IN THE DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

  • On Saturday, May 16, 2015, a Memorial Mass will be held at 1:00 PM at St. Augustine Cathedral.


Statement of the Diocese of Bridgeport on the passing of Edward Cardinal Egan, who passed away suddenly and peacefully on, March 5, 2015, at his home in New York City.
| March 05, 2015


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NEW YORK—We are shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Edward Cardinal Egan, who served as Third Bishop of Bridgeport from 1988 until 2000.




He will be remembered fondly and with great esteem by the people of the Diocese of Bridgeport. On his occasional visits back to Fairfield County, he was always greeted with great affection and appreciation by those grateful for his leadership. Even after being elevated to Cardinal, he continued to reach out to the diocese, to affirm the ministry of its priests and help in any way possible to serve the people. His most recent visit was on February 8, 2015 , to St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Msgr. William Scheyd.

Those who were close to him remember a man of great loyalty, friendship, and affection, who treated everyone with utmost respect and courtesy. A man of great talent and considerable gifts, he lived with personal simplicity and saw himself first and foremost as a priest.

Achievements in the Diocese of Bridgeport


Among Bishop Egan's first directives in the Diocese of Bridgeport was increasing vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. He established his own seminary in Trumbull, the Saint John Fisher Pre-Seminary Residence, which opened its doors in June 1989, six months after his arrival in Bridgeport. Within four years of its founding, the Trumbull facility proved too small, and Bishop Egan decided to move it to its present location in Stamford.

The Fisher Residence continues its fine program for discernment and formation of priestly vocations, and has provided our diocese with dozens of young priests.



Bishop Egan's next works were the reorganizing of diocesan finances and endowments through the $40 million Faith In The Future campaign, as well as the regionalization of parish schools. By creating a system of school regions, by which the local parish schools would be supported and funded by all the region's parishes, Bishop Egan saved and improved the Catholic school system in Fairfield County. He established the only private school for children with special needs in Connecticut, Saint Catherine Academy, as well as initiating many other educational projects.

 

He also reorganized and expanded Catholic Charities, as well as many of its outreach programs such as soup kitchens and free clinics. He established scattered housing for AIDS patients throughout the County; increased the number of facilities for the elderly with the Bishop Curtis Homes; opened a home for the assistance and support of pregnant mothers in the Malta House; and improved the funding for both Catholic Charities and Catholic schools by the establishment of the Inner-City Foundation for Charity & Education.

Besides providing for new priests, Bishop Egan's work for the priests of the diocese included the completion of the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy Retired Priests' Residence in Stamford. Indeed, so important is the priesthood in Bishop Egan's estimation that Bridgeport became one of a handful of American dioceses that cared for its priests from the very beginning of their training until their final days of ministry.

On May 11, 2000, Pope John Paul II announced that Bishop Egan would succeed the late John Cardinal O'Connor as the Archbishop of New York. Archbishop Egan was installed on January 19, 2000, and was elevated to the College of Cardinals on February 21, 2001.

 



Bishop Egan's last visit to the Diocese on February 8, 2015
 
 
Note: Bishop Frank J. Caggiano is in Rome on a visit to the Vatican and could not be reached for comment. His personal tribute will be posted as soon as it becomes available.
 


Come Celebrate the Fraternas!
| March 04, 2015


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TRUMBULL—On March 25, the Fraternas (Marian Community of Reconciliation) will mark the 24th anniversary of their founding with a Thanksgiving Mass. All are invited to attend this special Mass, to be held at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull at 7 pm. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the principal celebrant.



The Fraternas focus on evangelizing the youth of Fairfield County.


MCR is a Society of Apostolic Life for women, founded on March 25, 1991, in the Archdiocese of Lima, Peru. The order was blessed with immediate growth and was able to send members to serve in the Diocese of Bridgeport. The first Fraternas arrived in this diocese on November 11, 2005, in response to an invitation from Bishop William E. Lori. Their mission was to evangelize and catechize, focusing on an apostolate to the youth of Fairfield County.

Fraternas live in community and are fully committed to their apostolate of evangelization. Each member of the order totally consecrates her life to God, following the example of Our Blessed Mother.

As lay women—living in the world—the MCR mission requires its members to discover creative ways to transmit the faith to others. Fraternas help the laity to recognize their own call to evangelize, forming “apostles of apostles” who can announce the Gospel to others.

The fire that “fuels” the MCR apostolate is the deep and personal encounter of each member with Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ alone, the Fraternas find their inspiration. With the help of God’s grace, they respond to Christ’s call to “go out into the whole world and proclaim the Good News.”

Think you may have a calling to join the Fraternas? Please visit www.fraternas.org or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Deacon Timothy Sullivan, 66, courageous and cheerful
| March 03, 2015


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BRIDGEPORT—Deacon Timothy Sullivan died on March 1 in St. Vincent’s Medical Center after a courageous fight with the sufferings and pains of a long illness.




Close friends are remembering him as a man with an elfin presence and of profound faith, whose deep commitment to social justice and fairness was balanced by an equally ingrained sense of humor and acceptance.

Timothy Sullivan was born in Bridgeport on April 1, 1948. He went area schools and the former Christ the King High School in Southport. He later pursued degrees at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield and Fairfield University, where he earned an MA in both counseling and theology.

For five years Deacon Tim was in formation as a brother for the Maryknoll Fathers. He had hopes of becoming a missionary priest but the progression of a debilitating condition stood in the way of fulfilling his dream. Fluent in Spanish and a member of the National Board of Certified Counselors, he became a counselor for Easter Seal Rehabilitation Center in Stamford.

He was ordained to the diaconate at Saint Augustine Cathedral on June 11, 1994 by the Bishop Edward M. Egan. He served first as deacon at Saint Augustine, his home parish, then at Saint Stephen Parish, Trumbull, where he also served as director of religious education (DRE).

Deacon Tim also served on the faculty of Notre Dame High School in Fairfield. He became diocesan director of the Propagation of the Faith from 2005-07. His last assignment was as assistant chaplain at St. Joseph Manor in Trumbull.

Tim was often the first deacon to arrive at continuing education events. He liked to keep up his connections with his ordained brethren. He was cheerful and uncomplaining as his physical health deteriorated. He was devoted to the residents at Saint Joseph Manor, where he also resided. Tim gave witness toChrist’s passion in his own afflicted body to all who knew him.

The wake for Deacon Tim will be at Saint Augustine Cathedral on Saturday, March 7 at 9 am. The Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 10 am. Msgr. William Scheyd, vicar general for the Diocese of Bridgeport, will be the celebrant. Deacon Tim’s close friend, Deacon Donald Ross, will be the homilist. Burial will follow at St. James Cemetery in Naugatuck.

Deacon Sullivan is survived by his brother, Patrick Sullivan, of New Britain and sister, Mary Piretti, of Collinsville, CT. His cousin, Father Edward McAuley, is pastor of St. Bridget of Ireland Parish in Stamford.


St. John’s Flock: A Group for Young Professionals
| March 03, 2015


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STAMFORD—On a cold winter evening at the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist, a group of young adults gathered together for an evening of prayer and pizza.
 




On this night, and every first Monday of the month, the members of St. John’s Flock meet for an hour of contemplative prayer and Eucharistic adoration, followed by a delicious group dinner at a local restaurant. It’s this unique combination, a mix of faith and fellowship that attracts members to the group.

This particular evening, as the group gathered around a table preparing to enjoy dinner, members discussed everything from the Bishop’s return to social media to salsa dancing. The warm, inviting atmosphere was undeniable, as leader Mary Thierry introduced newcomers with a smile and welcome.

It is under the leadership of Mary that The Flock has seen resurgence, and just in time. One of the major initiatives of Bishop Caggiano has been to emphasize to young adults that there is a place prepared for them in the church. That is the goal of The Flock, brining together Catholics from all across the Diocese to pray and worship, but also to discuss life over a slice of pizza.

The group meets at St. John the Evangelist in Stamford the first Monday of every month from 7-9, and the third Sunday of every month at 5:00pm. All are welcome!

For more info contact: Mary Thierry, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Walking the Cross: A Lenten Journey
| March 03, 2015


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NORWALK—On Sunday, March 15th, parishioners of the seven Catholic Parishes in Norwalk will host a “Walking the Cross” experience.




A large wooden cross will be carried from one church to another, linking all seven churches in a special way during the season of Lent.

Each Norwalk parish is responsible for carrying the cross to the next parish and handing it off. As noted on the accompanying map, there is an approximate timing and distance for each part of the Walk. Each parish will do this any way that they see fit—from just a few people carrying it themselves, to youth group participants or other ministries serving as cross bearers.

The Walk will begin after the 9:00 am Mass at St. Matthew and end before the 6:00 pm Mass at St. Jerome. All are welcome to attend either or both Masses. The walk with the cross will be performed in many ways: in silence, in prayer, saying the Rosary, and in song.

9:00am Mass at St Matthew for anyone who wants to attend (start of the walk)
A    10:30am     St Matthew to St Ladislaus     2.0 miles
B    Noon          St Ladislaus to St. Joseph       0.8 miles
C    1:00 pm      St. Joseph to St. Thomas       1.3 miles
D    2:00 pm      St Thomas to St Mary             1.4 miles
E    3:00 pm      St Mary to St Philip                 1 mile
F    4:00 pm      St Philip to St Jerome              2.5 miles (hand off half way)
6:00 pm Mass at St Jerome for anyone who wants to attend (end of the walk)


For information, contact: Kali DiMarco 203.434.8407 or Mike Pappa 203.858.2609, of St. Philip Church, Norwalk, CT.


Beating swords into plowshares
| March 03, 2015 • by By Tony Magliano


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Making a Difference       
By Tony Magliano

“In the days to come, the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills,” writes the prophet Isaiah.

“Many peoples shall come and say: Come, let us go up to the Lord’s mountain … that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths. …

“They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.”
    
This prophesy will certainly be fulfilled when Christ comes again and his kingdom is totally established. There’s no stopping it. But it could happen even before then. If only we would go up to the Lord’s mountain and allow him to instruct us in his ways, and wholeheartedly walk in his paths.
    
But instead it seems like so much of the world, and so many people in power, are committed to going down into the dark valley of violence and war, ignoring the Prince of Peace’s way.
    
As I write, the U.S. Congress is poised to grant President Obama’s request to use expanded military force – including boots-on-the-ground – to fight the self-proclaimed Islamic State.  
    
In his request known as the “Authorization for Use of Military Force,” Obama is asking Congress to approve the deployment of U.S. troops to Iraq for “enduring offensive ground combat operations” for at least three years.
    
Didn’t the nearly nine years of war in Iraq teach us anything?
    
Military action against the Islamic State is playing into their hands. They want to draw the U.S. into a ground war, so they can trumpet the message that “Christian crusaders” have launched an invasion upon Islam. Such a scenario would flood their ranks with radical Islamists from around the world.

After the start of the first Gulf War in 1991, St. John Paul wrote, "No, never again war, which destroys the lives of innocent people, teaches how to kill, throws into upheaval even the lives of those who do the killing and leaves behind a trail of resentment and hatred, thus making it all the more difficult to find a just solution of the very problems which provoked the war."
    
It can be strongly argued that the devastation caused by the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq largely set the stage for the birth of the Islamic State and several other Jihadist groups.

Instead of fueling more war and terrorism, we need to pressure our government to provide far more humanitarian assistance to our fellow Christians, and all others, who are suffering from the barbarism of the Islamic State.

Also, we need to kindly consider making a generous donation to Catholic Relief Service’s emergency fund for the Middle East (http://bit.ly/17YCZ8g).
    
In his famous 1967 “Beyond Vietnam” speech, Rev. Martin Luther King said, “Our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove those conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.”

And the same is true with terrorism today. If we will muster up the faith and courage to redirect the vast resources dedicated to war, and instead put them at the service of removing “those conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are fertile soil” in which the seed of terrorism grows and develops, we will have then finally beat our swords into plowshares.

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

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Recycling: An act of prayer for the environment
| March 02, 2015


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If a Catholic priest is ordained between the ages of 25-30, he will be separated from priests aged 75-80 by approximately three generations of priestly formation; generations which are approximately 15-18 years in length.















The Turkey Vultures at the Wilton Transfer Station are natural-born recyclers.


As time goes by, keen observers can determine the formative strengths and weaknesses of different generations of priests. Shortly after Vatican II, Catholic seminarians were instructed that priestly work itself could be considered prayer. In other words, if a priest kept very busy throughout each day with ministerial tasks, he could consider all of his priestly work that day to be prayer.

Within 30 years, adept seminary faculties were advising seminarians that the “work is prayer” notion is not sufficient for the spiritual needs of a priest. Priests needed to devote themselves to the liturgy of the hours, devotions, and quiet time before the Blessed Sacrament in addition to performing ministerial work.

The balance between work and prayer has always been a tricky one for a parish priest. In the fifth century, St. Benedict founded a monastic order with its rule centered on “Ora et Labora” (prayer and work). But parish priests are not monks. In fact, until recently, parish priests were often referred to as “secular” priests, meaning that they necessarily dealt with the world on a daily basis.

For clergy, religious and laypeople, it is important to note that prayer can be work, and work can be prayer. Ideally, however, a healthy spiritual life – for individuals and communities—requires a balance between performing religious “acts” and spending time in prayerful contemplation, striving to develop a personal relationship with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In my own prayer life, I try to achieve a balance between “works” and contemplation, and I would like to use my recycling efforts as a way to illustrate that sometimes, we can convert mundane tasks into acts of prayer, with intentions attached.

When I prepare to bring my recycling to the recycling center, I offer my “work” to God with an intention for the salvation of the world and for the protection/health of the world’s environment.

Although I am not really a believer in man-made global warming (sorry, er, I mean “climate change”), my “carbon footprint” is probably a lot smaller than many who participate in climate change activism. Hollywood stars, for example, who decry the evils of fossil fuels, think nothing of flying in their private jets from Los Angeles to New York for a weekend out. President Obama, who just vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline because it would transport “evil” fossil fuels, has probably traveled more miles in Air Force One than any preceding president. By the way, 747’s burn a lot of fuel.

Ironically, over time, I have noticed that many who claim to be concerned about climate change can be disinterested in basic recycling efforts.

As I have written before in this blog, I am a proud conservative, and I am a consummate recycler! As the mainstream liberal media would have us believe, conservatives want “dirty air and dirty water,” but I buck that trend.

In the photos that accompany this blog, you can follow the trajectory of my recycling efforts when I finally load up my vehicle and head to the Wilton Transfer Station (when I was a kid, we used to call it the “dump!”). The condominiums where I live do not offer curbside recycling pick-up or single-stream recycling. We do have a few community recycling bins near our dumpster, but I suspect that sometimes our recycling material gets tossed into the garbage truck. Others have told me that they sometimes see waste-management contractors combine recycling materials and garbage together. It all depends on how conscientious the waste-management contractor/employee is on a given day.

If I am going to go to the trouble of recycling – to the point of obsessiveness—I want to be certain that my recycling material finds its way to legitimate recycling points. To the best of my ability, my recyclables are cleaned (without using excessive water), and everything is neatly sorted: cardboard (corrugated and flat); mixed paper; plastic and metal containers; and occasional pieces of scrap metal.

It pains me when I go to the dumpster and discover large, corrugated cardboard boxes within. Not all of my neighbors care about recycling as much as I do! Don’t worry, I am not so obsessive that I go dumpster-diving to retrieve recyclables!

The work that I do to bring my recyclables to the recycling center can truly be considered prayerful. It involves a level of sacrifice, which I offer to God for my intentions. Like most people, I would prefer to be lazy and not do uncompensated work, but I do it because I believe in faith that my recycling efforts are accepted as prayer, and that is compensation enough!

As you will see from the photos, many Wilton residents are concerned about recycling, and the truck-sized bins fill up quickly. One of the staff members at the Transfer Station told me that the mixed-paper bins fill up very fast. In fact, most of that paper finds its way to China, which places a high value on reusable paper pulp.

When it comes to business/mixed paper items, I do my best to remove my address from my recyclables. In this age of identity theft, cutting out or shredding my contact info is an added burden in the process, but I feel better about throwing personal correspondence in the recycling bin when I know I have done my best to remove contact information from the documents.

One of the reasons I posted this blog was to encourage others to take recycling seriously, as an important environmental effort, and as a form of prayer.

As I was leaving the Transfer Station the other day, I stopped to take a photo of the resident Turkey Vultures who were looking for a snack. There is no question that they, too, are serious recyclers.

There have been 391 visit(s) to this blog post.

St. Mark School surprises principal
| March 02, 2015


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STRATFORD—An ordinary day at St. Mark School was turned into an extraordinary day for principal, Donna Wuhrer.






Through creative and heart-warming activities, the faculty and students at St. Mark School paid a special, surprise tribute to their principal. At morning assembly, the faculty presented her with a tiara and declared the day as “We Love Mrs. Wuhrer Day.”

In an effort to show their principal just how much they appreciate her, they decorated her office with balloons and streamers and lined the walls with displays of posters and heart-shaped love notes from every St. Mark student. Each student from Pre-K to Grade 8 personally expressed the special qualities that they treasure most about their principal. Throughout the day, Mrs. Wuhrer was invited to visit with each grade level so they could present to her their own unique salute: ranging from presentations of rehearsed songs and dances, creative writings, choral readings, artwork and poetry. At lunch, she was escorted into the faculty room to find a perfect table setting of fine china and a pink rose adorning a gourmet hot lunch, compliments of the Home School Association. Lunch was a special treat, as this was her first opportunity all school year to sit and eat with fellow faculty members. She usually covers lunch duty with the students but on this special day she enjoyed eating lunch with the first shift of teachers and dessert with the second shift.

Wuhrer told the students, “This is one of the best days of my life!” Overwhelmed with joy, she said to the faculty, “Someone once told me that I would have many children but never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d have 230!” Fourth grade teacher, Janet Rodriguez, then reminded her “Don’t forget your adult children too,” implying that the faculty and staff also regard her as a maternal figure. 


Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion
| March 02, 2015


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TRUMBULL—On the first Sunday of Lent, February 22, parishes across the world celebrate the Rite of Sending for those in the RCIA Process.





Photos by Mike Donnarummo


This shows our universality of our Catholic Church. RCIA stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. At the parish, the desire for full communion in the Catholic Church is celebrated and recognized.

It is at this parish celebration that the local community has the opportunity to express its approval of the catechumens and candidates and sends them forth to the celebration of election and assures them of their parish’s care, support, and prayers.  

The Rite of Election (for the catechumens) and the Call to Continuing Conversion (for candidates) was celebrated in the afternoon of February 22 at Saint Theresa Church, Trumbull. Twenty-seven parishes participated in this rite, with one-hundred catechumens and over 130 candidates. Msgr. William Scheyd, Vicar General for the Diocese of Bridgeport, presided over this ceremony held within the Liturgy of the Word.  

Michelle Ballard, an Elect from Saint Joseph Parish, Brookfield, said that “Sunday's ceremony was a life changing experience in my journey within the Catholic faith; I have been learning and embracing the Word and principles of God.”  Her RCIA instructor has been supportive, which has allowed her to embrace, grow, and become the Elect that she is.  Her godmother has also been a model and is most grateful for her in her life.  

It is an honor and privilege for Michelle O’Mara to be a godparent for Matthew Ceperly from Saint Thomas the Apostle Parish, Norwalk. As godparent, Michelle promises to pray for him, encourage, support, and teach him God’s loving mercy and goodness. She also promises to be a good and true Catholic witness. Michelle hopes to guide him on this pilgrimage so that he can take his place within the Church sharing his gifts and talents as an intentional disciple of Christ.

For more information regarding RCIA and adult formation within the Diocese, contact Gina Donnarummo at 230.416.1446 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Marching to end hunger in Norwalk
| March 02, 2015 • by By Leslie  Lake, Hour Staff Writer


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NORWALK—Saturday morning's 18 degree temperatures did little to cool the enthusiasm of 200 young people who took part in the 12th annual 30 Hour Famine.
 




The group stood on the steps of the First Congregational Church on the Green to kickoff 30 hours of not only raising awareness of hunger but also of experiencing it.

Organized by St. Philip Roman Catholic Church, in support of World Vision an international Christian organization that works to feed the hungry in more than 100 countries, young people from seven towns, 34 schools, and 17 churches prepared to fast for 30 hours and participated in a program of events related to alleviating hunger both worldwide and locally.

"This is the fourth year I've participated and from the first time I was really inspired," said Norwalk High School senior Catherine Robinson. "My eyes have really been opened to what's happening in terms of the problem of hunger."

As Kali Dimarco, director of Faith Formation and Youth Ministry at St. Philip Church led the participants in chants of "30 days, 30 hours, 30 people," the contingent of young people prepared for the next 30 hours of fasting, group activities, service projects around town, musical programs and prayer. Students will attend a 10 a.m. mass on Sunday morning to break the fast, followed by a breakfast in the St. Philip school hall.

"For 30 hours we fast, we tell 30 people what we are doing, and we fundraise for 30 days leading up to this," said Julia Jennings from Stamford's Holy Spirit School.

Carrying signs with messages that read: "80 Percent of humanity lives on $10 a day," the contingent famine participants marched down East Wall Street to Main Street to North Avenue on their way to St. Philip Church on Saturday morning in a walk to honor the Night Walkers of Uganda-children who travel on foot from their villages.

"We walk for people who cannot be heard," said Dimarco.

"I think it's amazing to see young people taking a stand against hunger," said Mayor Harry Rilling who was at the church to lend his support to the Famine Participants. "It's wonderful that they are increasing awareness of not only the problem of hunger throughout the world, but also making people aware that there are hungry kids right in their own communities."

Dimarco said that they have come a long way from the first 30 Hour Famine in 2004. It was titled, "Fed-Up," and consisted of 29 participants, raised $3,000 for World Vision, $1,000 for Manna House and saved eight children. The 2014 event, "Tell Everyone" consisted of 128 high school participants, and 38 younger students, raising $32,741 for World Vision, $7,962 for Manna House, $5,000 for Catholic Relief Services and $2,550 for Hope for Ariang, totaling $48,253 and saving 134 children.

"There are 2,288 groups around the country who are doing this today, and so far we are the top fundraiser," said Kali Dimarco. "Our pledges so far have topped $24,000 and our goal this year is to raise $48,000."

At a key service project, more than 80 of the Famine participants sporting hair nets and gloves, gathered at St. Thomas Parish Hall to pack 20,000 rice and soy meals to be sent to the West African country of Burkina Faso in support of a partnership between Catholic Relief Services and Stop Hunger Now.

"One in eight people in the world are starving," Marc Vermouth of Catholic Relief Services told the assembled students. "These meals will be going to orphanages, medical clinics, and women's shelters. Last year you all packed 10,000 meals for them-give yourselves a hand for doubling that this year."

In addition to raising awareness for the problem of hunger, Dale Williams, the Founder and Director of Midnight Run, an organization dedicated to providing relief to New York City's homeless population was the keynote speaker on Saturday morning at St. Philip Church. Midnight Run is a volunteer organization dedicated to finding common ground between the housed and the homeless. In over 1,000 relief missions per year, Midnight Run volunteers from churches, synagogues, schools and other civic groups distribute food, clothing, blankets and personal care items to the homeless poor on the streets of New York City.

Danielle Miller, a student at J.M. Wright Technical School was joining some friends on Saturday as a first time participant.

"I love to spread goodness in any way I can," Miller said. "I'm doing this with my friends and what better way to do something to help people than doing it with your friends?"

The St. Philip Famine team urge adults in the community to donate to the campaign. 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 and online donations can be found at www.stphilipnorwalk.weebly.com.


During Lent, pope offers handy tips for preparing for confession
| March 01, 2015 • by By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service


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VATICAN CITY—As Catholics are encouraged to make going to confession a significant part of their lives during Lent, Pope Francis offered some quick tips to help people prepare for the sacrament of penance.



Pope Francis gives ashes during Ash Wednesday Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome Feb. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)


Pope Francis puts ashes on a cardinal's head as he leads the Ash Wednesday mass at the Santa Sabina Basilica, in Rome, Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015. The Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a solemn period of 40 days of prayer and self-denial leading up to Easter. Photo: Gabriel Bouys, AP


After a brief explanation of why people should go to confession—"because we are all sinners"—the pope listed 30 key questions to reflect on as part of making an examination of conscience and being able to "confess well."

The guide is part of a 28-page booklet in Italian released by the Vatican publishing house. Pope Francis had 50,000 free copies distributed to people attending his Angelus address Feb. 22, the first Sunday of Lent.

Titled "Safeguard your heart," the booklet is meant to help the faithful become "courageous" and prepared to battle against evil and choose the good.

The booklet contains quick introductions to Catholic basics: it has the text of the Creed, a list of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. It explains the seven sacraments and includes Pope Francis' explanation of "lectio divina," a prayerful way of reading Scripture in order to better hear "what the Lord wants to tell us in his word and to let us be transformed by his Spirit."

The booklet's title is based on a line from one of the pope's morning Mass homilies in which he said Christians need to guard and protect their hearts, "just as you protect your home -- with a lock."

"How often do bad thoughts, bad intentions, jealousy, envy enter?" he asked. "Who opened the door? How did those things get in?"

The Oct. 10, 2014, homily, which is excerpted in the booklet, said the best way to guard one's heart is with the daily practice of an "examination of conscience," in which one quietly reviews what bad things one has done and what good things one has failed to do for God, one's neighbor and oneself.

The questions include:

  • Do I only turn to God when I'm in need?
  • Do I take attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation?
  • Do I begin and end the day with prayer?
  • Am I embarrassed to show that I am a Christian?
  • Do I rebel against God's plan?
  • Am I envious, hot-tempered, biased?
  • Am I honest and fair with everyone or do I fuel the "throwaway culture?"
  • In my marital and family relations, do I uphold morality as taught in the Gospels?
  • Do I honor and respect my parents?
  • Have I refused newly conceived life? Have I snuffed out the gift of life? Have I helped do so?
  • Do I respect the environment?
  • Am I part worldly and part believer?
  • Do I overdo it with eating, drinking, smoking and amusements?
  • Am I overly concerned about my physical well-being, my possessions?
  • How do I use my time? Am I lazy?
  • Do I want to be served?
  • Do I dream of revenge, hold grudges?
  • Am I meek, humble and a builder of peace?

Catholics should go to confession, the pope said, because everyone needs forgiveness for their sins, for the ways "we think and act contrary to the Gospel."

"Whoever says he is without sin is a liar or is blind," he wrote.

Confession is meant to be a sincere moment of conversion, an occasion to demonstrate trust in God's willingness to forgive his children and to help them back on the path of following Jesus, Pope Francis wrote.


Appeal co-chairs live their faith
| February 27, 2015 • by By Pat Hennessy


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NEW CANAAN—When she first became interested in the annual appeal of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Julie Taylor was most drawn to the diocesan Respect Life ministry.




“As a mother, it was totally the support of life,” says Julie, this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal co-chair with her husband, Rowan. The couple are the parents of four daughters, now ages 20, 16, 15 and 4 years old, and are members of St. Aloysius Parish.

As their children grew older, in addition to the Respect Life ministry the Taylors found their interest growing in the inner-city schools of Bridgeport, now known as the Cathedral Academies. “We live in New Canaan, where good schools are a given,” Rowan points out. “The Cathedral Academies provide excellent educational opportunities in an area where the average family lives below the poverty line.”

In keeping with her pro-life commitment, Julie began volunteering for Malta House, a home for women in crisis pregnancy. That led to an invitation to join the Order of Malta and a deepening of faith, devotion and a realization of the many works supported by the diocese. “Now it’s hard for me to single one thing out,” Julie says.

Rowan and Julie met on the first day of freshman year at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. They quickly discovered a surprising coincidence: they were born on the same day. “I was born earlier in the day, which is why I’m so mature,” says Rowan with his trademark grin.

“I married an older man,” Julie is quick to counter.

Although they had the same class advisor and knew each other from day one, they didn’t immediately start dating. It may have been because, in many ways, they were so different. Rowan was from Portland, Oregon; Julie grew up in Fairfield County. He was an economics major; she took a double major in European history and French. Rowan, who has over 25 years of private equity experience, is the founding partner of Liberty Hall Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in New York City.

For whatever differences, they didn’t start dating for months—not until after they came back from the Christmas break their freshman year. “The third Sunday in January, January 18, was the 29th anniversary of our first date,” Rowan says, flashing another grin.

Their relaxed enjoyment in each other’s company contradicts their strikingly different backgrounds. The most important: Julie came from a devout Catholic family. “My parents were among the most devout, faith-filled people I ever knew. My parents met at a church bazaar. Two of my mother’s brothers were priests.”

Rowan had no religion at all. “Religion was not part of my life,” he says. “It wasn’t important to my parents.”

Although Julie’s religious practice had been “on and off, like most kids,” in her early college years, by the time she graduated it was “mostly on.” She doesn’t know why her faith deepened even while she was dating a “heathen;” that’s just how it happened.

They were married at St. Patrick’s, the Catholic Church near Washington and Lee in Virginia. From that time on, Julie was in church every single Sunday. Rowan respected her devotion, but was not part of it.

“I can remember the moment when the light came on,” he says. They were in Italy with Julie’s parents, traveling down from Florence to Rome, and stopped in Assisi.

It was Good Friday.

Following a tradition dating back to the Middle Ages, or even earlier, the Taylors joined the crowd of the faithful watching the emotional Processione del Cristo Morto, as the image of the crucified Christ was carried through the streets, along with one of his sorrowing mother.

“The sun begins to set in this Roman town, the lights go out, and the narrow streets are lit by hundreds of torches. They carry out the statue of Christ, and another of Mary, followed by about 40 people in robes, walking barefoot, carrying crosses, with their faces covered to emphasize that in God there is no difference between the mayor of the city and someone who cleans the streets. I heard people praying the Hail Mary in half a dozen languages.”

Rowan describes himself as a “0-1 person in all phases of my life. You do a thing well or you don’t do it.” He came back from that vacation, enrolled in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) at St. Aloysius, and was baptized, confirmed and received First Holy Communion during the Easter Vigil the following year.

Over the years, particularly after they both joined the Order of Malta, their faith deepened. Julie was on the parish council and taught religious education; Rowan was on the finance committee. More than that, they moved beyond the “little cocoon of our parish.” In addition to their other activities, Julie is a delegate to Synod 2014.

As parents, they are particularly interested in the first synod theme: Empower the Young Church. “Studies show that 53 percent of people will leave their childhood faith by adulthood,” Julie says, clearly upset by the statistic.

When Bishop Caggiano met the Taylors, he recognized immediately that they would make an ideal lay chair couple for the Annual Catholic Appeal. Among their other activities, they hope to spend time learning more about parish ministries across the diocese, talking to priests about clergy formation, and visiting schools and Catholic Charities sites like the Thomas Merton Center in Bridgeport.

“It’s time, it’s treasures, it’s talent—that’s how we’ve ingrained Christ’s faith into our lives,” says Rowan. “This is what we have to do. We want to keep the faith growing and strong for ourselves, for our children, for everyone.”

(For more info about the 2015 Annual Catholic Appeal, contact the Development Office: 203/416/1470 or www.2015acabridgeport.com.)


The hidden curriculum
| February 25, 2015 • by By Denise Bossert


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Catholic by Grace
By Denise Bossert

It is the key to unleashing the New Evangelization. It is essential to carrying out the Gospel mission.  What is the key? It is the confessional.

You might have expected me to say the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. That is true.

But I would posit that priests already carry out this part of their ministry with great faithfulness and devotion. My own parish has four Sunday Masses, daily Mass Monday through Saturday, and numerous other special Masses throughout the year.

And they come. People show up at every Mass.

But we are sinners. As much as we do not wish to do it, we fall back into sin—often. And so the net result is that many people are approaching the Eucharist while carrying the baggage of sin, perhaps even mortal sin.

That is a problem. Receiving Our Lord while in a state of serious sin only adds mortal sin on top of mortal sin. One cannot advance in holiness this way. Without holiness, we cannot be a people on mission.

In his papal address on the Sacrament of Reconciliation in March of 2012, Pope Benedict XVI made it clear that, “The New Evangelization draws its lifeblood from the holiness of the children of the Church, from the daily journey of personal and community conversion in order to be ever more closely conformed to Christ.”

Because personal holiness depends upon the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Pope Benedict XVI went on to say that the new evangelization begins in the confessional.

While most parishes are incredibly accommodating in providing opportunities for Mass attendance, many are abysmal—tragically so—when it comes to providing opportunities for the Sacrament of Confession.

Some may say that nobody shows up for the scheduled opportunity—those fleeting fifteen minutes before Sunday Mass.
    
But this is what the one with venial sin thinks: I don’t want to bother my priest before Mass because it’s just a venial sin, and he’s so busy right before Mass, and I would guess there are others far more sinful who need these few minutes more than I do.

This is what the one with mortal sin thinks: If I go to Confession right now, then my parents (wife, children, husband, friends) will know that I have mortal sin that I need to deal with. Who wants to open that can of worms? I’ll just go another time.

But there is no other time.

That’s it. Sunday before Mass—if you can find the priest.

And expect a whirlwind Confession because the priest is bound to have his mind on Mass and his eye on his watch.

Every parish should have one night a week set aside for confessions. The parishioners need to know that their shepherd is there, waiting. The people need to be reminded (often) that a merciful Lord is waiting for them. During Advent and Lent, the opportunities for Confession should be even more generous, highlighted by every means of communication.

Here is what will happen in the parish:

People will become holy. People will be on mission. The New Evangelization will come to your parish. The faithful will begin to discern vocations to religious life.

Here is what will happen in individuals:

They will be healed of mortal sin and lose their attachment to it. Then they will begin to address chronic sin. Jealousy. Gossip. Gluttony. Bitterness and unforgiving spirits. Laziness. Then they will become stronger, more accustomed to walking in grace.

When I was a teacher, we used to talk about the hidden curriculum. By hidden curriculum, we meant those things students learned that we did not set out to teach. Youngsters figure out what is important and what isn’t important. They learn which corners can be cut and what the teacher really cares about. Sometimes, to our dismay, we realize that the students jettisoned things that are really important because we inadvertently fostered problems and created issues we never meant to foster or create.

That is the situation right now. When the scheduled confessions are right before Sunday Mass or at a time when most people are unavailable, we are teaching our parishioners that Confession is a last-minute sacrament, a kind of triage-only sacrament, a rarely-needed sacrament, a practically-unnecessary sacrament.

While we do not believe any of these things, it is the hidden curriculum—the catechesis we did not intend to teach.

Reality check.

Some of the holiest people have availed themselves of the Sacrament of Confession weekly. If even two people in every parish decided they wanted to emulate that kind of holiness, the current confessional schedule would not be sufficient.

If evangelization depends on holiness, we need to throw open the doors on every confessional. We need to say, “Come soon; come often.” Let them know that Jesus Christ is waiting just for them.

Holiness and Gospel mission. The first opens the door for the second.    

Denise Bossert is a national Catholic writer and columnist.


Fifty Years a Priest
| February 25, 2015 • by By Matthew Hennessey


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A Dad’s View
By Matthew Hennessey

Twelve year-old Billy Scheyd of St. Ann Parish in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport got polio. It was 1952, and the country was in the middle of the worst outbreak in its history. Nearly 58,000 people fell ill. More than 3,000 died.

That summer, Jonas Salk administered the first experimental polio vaccine to 30 children in his lab at the University of Pittsburgh. But it would be several years before the vaccine went mainstream. In 1952, all Billy’s family could do was wait to see how bad his case would be, and pray for a speedy recovery.

Billy’s father fretted. As a personnel manager at the Stanley Works factory, Mr. Scheyd did okay. But doctors were expensive, and polio had the potential to cripple a child for life. Father Walter McCarthy was the pastor of St. Ann’s. He told Billy’s father to find the best care available. Father McCarthy would pay for everything.

Billy got better, but he never forgot the priest’s generosity. “He was a good man,” Scheyd says now. “In those days, the parish priests did a lot of good for people. That was always my impression of them. They were good men.”

Billy’s parents were Catholic, but not “religious fanatics,” he says. They were just decent, ordinary folks. Billy’s mother was a nurse. Mr. Scheyd worked nights at the post office during the war. They were always helping out at St. Ann’s in one way or another.

“Dinners, dances, basketball games—the parish was the center of our life,” he says. “The Church was at the heart of our community.”

High school for Billy was Fairfield Prep. One day a Jesuit there asked if Billy had ever thought of becoming a priest. Billy said that he had, but he didn’t think he’d make a good Jesuit. “I’m not a real academic guy,” he says. “Once in a while I read a whole book.”

Teenage Billy didn’t really know what he was aiming for. He thought about becoming a policeman, a lawyer, maybe going into business of some kind. He applied and was accepted at Fairfield U. and Boston College.

But during senior year, the principal came on the P.A. and announced that the vocations director of the diocese was in the office and that any boys thinking of becoming priests should come talk to him.

Billy surprised himself by getting up out of his seat. “The Holy Spirit must have been working on me,” he says. First stop was minor seminary at St. Thomas in Hartford. Next stop, major seminary at St. John’s in Boston.

He was in Boston for six years. And they were intense years. The Second Vatican Council was happening. The old ways were rapidly changing.

Father Scheyd was ordained by Bishop Walter Curtis on February 10, 1965, and went to work as an associate pastor at St. Mary’s in Norwalk, just around the corner from the hospital. With proximity came responsibility. “It’s one of the few jobs where you’re asked to just about everything on the first day,” he says. The young priest went right in at the deep end—anointing the sick, comforting the bereaved, praying for lost souls.

As the years rolled on, Father Scheyd realized that his ministry was for people. He loved fellowship. Talking with people, hearing their problems, celebrating their blessings—these were his strengths. “As a priest, you see people at their best, and you see them at their worst. I offer my help, but I try to be humble enough to know that I don’t know everything,” he says.

On July 2, 1982—30 years to the day after Jonas Salk found his polio vaccine—Father Scheyd returned to Bridgeport as pastor of St. Augustine Cathedral. A decade at the cathedral was followed by a decade as pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle in Norwalk. For the last 13 years, he’s shepherded the flock at St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan.

This month, Msgr. William Scheyd celebrates his 50th anniversary as a priest. He has held every position of high responsibility in the diocese you can think of. “He has been vicar general since Columbus arrived,” quipped former Bridgeport bishop, Edward Cardinal Egan.

Yet Msgr. Scheyd has never lost his affinity for people. “I’ve always tried to create an atmosphere where all are welcome,” he says. “And I’ve been lucky to have had the support of wonderful people in wonderful parishes.”

The Bridgeport that Billy Scheyd grew up in is largely gone. Thanks to Jonas Salk, so is the polio virus that killed and crippled so many people in the summer of 1952. But Monsignor William Scheyd of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, isn’t gone. He’s still here and still a priest.

That is to say, he’s a good man. He does a lot of good for a lot of people.                             

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


Let go and let God—easier said than done
| February 25, 2015 • by By Joe Pisani


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Swimming Upstream
By Joe Pisani
    
After decades of boozing, my father finally found Alcoholics Anonymous and spent the last 25 years of his life sober. And he would never let a day pass without sharing some of his AA wisdom with us, like “Let go and let God.” Easier said than done.

Actually, it got a little annoying listening to him, probably because I preferred to complain about my problems and let them fester rather than turn them over to my “Higher Power.”

He had dozens of sayings and aphorisms he learned in AA about the importance of accepting God’s will. “Get out of the driver’s seat,” he’d advise me when my life seemed to be careening off the cliff because I was driving with my eyes closed and refused to let go of the steering wheel.

Then, he gave me a prayer card that said, “Jesus, I trust in you.” I, however, could say, “Jesus, I trust in you,” a hundred times a day, but at the end of the day, I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. You see, I trust Jesus if his will is a close approximation of mine.

I recently realized yet again how miserable I am with “trust” when I had to have a biopsy. I’m ashamed to admit I failed—I didn’t fail the biopsy; I failed the “trust” test.

All my family members, friends and coworkers were praying for me, and several hundred times a day, my personal prayer went something like this, “Thy will be done. Thy will be done. Thy will be done.” Which eventually turned into “My will be done.”  

Then, a month later, I had to go to the emergency room when I was stricken with a debilitating pain in my back, which fortunately, or unfortunately, turned out to be a kidney stone.

That night as I was leafing through my prayer book for inspiration, I stumbled upon the “Prayer to Accept Suffering,” along with another one appropriately titled, “Prayer to Suffer in Silence.”

That kidney stone certainly didn’t inspire silence. It inspired loud yelling and, I confess, a bit of cursing. I’d love to have the grace to find acceptance during suffering and sickness, but usually I get into one-sided arguments with God, where I do all the talking, which is pretty predictable and goes something like this:

“Lord, I don’t think this is fair. I didn’t deserve this.”

“Lord, a lot of people depend on me. I can’t get sick.”

“Lord, HEAL ME!”

I told my story to a woman at the rectory when I went to have Masses offered for friends who were sick, and she reached into her purse and pulled out some prayer cards for me. One was titled,“The Divine Mercy Chaplet for the Sick and Dying.” When she gave it to me, she discreetly recommended that I “ignore the ‘dying’ part.”

Another was “A Prayer of the Sick to Our Lady of Lourdes,” who certainly knows a thing or two about miraculous healings. It said, in part, “Lord, help me to see that my illness has an important part to play in bringing me to the fullness of the person you have destined me to be. . . . Though I do not quite understand your way of directing me right now, I wish to let go of any possessiveness over my life. I surrender all the details of my present situation into your loving care.”

That just about summed up everything my father ever said to me about the importance of “surrendering.” Another favorite saying in his vast AA repertoire was “You have to surrender to win.”

The woman also gave me a prayer from Padre Pio’s spiritual adviser, which said, “O, Jesus, I surrender myself to you; take care of everything!” This priest, I thought, must have been in the same AA group as my father. Whoever surrendered his worries, difficulties and problems to Jesus would receive special care, the priest said.

I later learned that the woman who gave me the prayers was suffering from a debilitating illness. You would have never known because she suffered in silence and picked up the cross Christ had given her without complaining.

The amazing thing is that she reminded me of my mother and my father, who both had cancer in their later years and never complained. I’m convinced they were given special graces and a supernatural strength because they knew enough to get out of the driver’s seat and let go and let God.  

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