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


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

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

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

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

Consider the following items that have recently dominated the news:

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

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

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

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

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

Can we? Will we?

Monsignor Andy Varga
Pastor, Saint Luke Church, Westport CT

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



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

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

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

Around the Diocese in 60 Seconds
| December 03, 2016


BRIDGEPORT— Social Media Leader John Grosso's "Week in Review" takes us around the Diocese for an eventful week including the 3rd Post-Synod session at St. Catherine of Siena Parish Center in Trumbull, the closing of the Holy Door at St. Augustine Cathedral to formally end the Extraordinary Year of Mercy, a prayer service for racial healing, and a series of youth concerts around the diocese performed by X-factor winner Fr. Rob Galea. It all adds up to a week of great faith, joy and engagement throughout the diocese!

Night in a Box
| December 02, 2016


NORWALK—On November 19, 36 teens from St Jerome Parish in Norwalk gathered for the parish’s fourth annual NIGHT IN A BOX event. NIGHT IN A BOX is a homeless awareness project in which TOTAL, the St. Jerome youth group, raises money and collects toiletries for the Open Door Shelter in Norwalk.

The day began with a prayer, and then everyone was off to service projects! Most of the teens raked the leaves of several elderly parishioners. Ten of them went to the Open Door Shelter, where they were met by the Executive Director of the shelter who gave the group a tour and helped them better understand the plight of the homeless in Norwalk. They then planted small Christmas trees out front to decorate for the holidays, and helped with a mailing.

After the service projects, everyone met back at the church, ate a simple meal of grilled cheese and soup and heard from Bob Genuario, a member of the board of the Open Door Shelter and a longtime St. Jerome parishioner. After a long day, the teens and adults went outside and began constructing their shelters for the night out of cardboard boxes and duct tape. After more service projects and a beautiful prayer service where they talked about “what home means to me,” teens and chaperones headed to their shelters for the night. The weather had different plans. Even though the shelters were covered with tarps and plastic, the rain that had been coming down for a few hours was too much for them. One by one the shelters collapsed. Luckily, they had the church hall to sleep in. It wasn’t all that comfortable, but the teens could stay safe, dry, warm and together. They took a moment to remember and pray for those who did not have the option of moving inside during the rain storm on this harsh night.

In the morning the youth group concluded their weekend of service with Mass and Ryan Williams, a high school senior, spoke to the congregation. Ryan said, “We went to the shelter and saw these little kids who are homeless. Last night, my little sister asked our speaker if kids in the shelter get Christmas presents. He said, ‘They do because of people like you!’ That struck a chord with me and I thought, ‘IT TAKES PEOPLE LIKE ME’. I can sleep in a box many nights if it helps someone without a home.“

(Donations can be sent to The Open Door Shelter, 4 Merritt St., South Norwalk, CT 06854. You can also visit their website at the link below to see a list of much needed items.

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

International Festival of Foods
| December 02, 2016


STRATFORD—In a delicious response to the Pastoral Plan, Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Stratford held its first ever International Festival of Foods this fall. Father Andrew Marus, Holy Name’s pastor, led parishioners in grace before the meal. 

This event was the initial response to the parish’s Pastoral Plan goal to recognize and celebrate the diversity of its cultural and ethnic background in both worship and parish functions. Over 140 parishioners attended the evening in the parish hall and shared foods from Slovakia, Poland, Columbia, Puerto Rico, Italy, Haiti, Hungary, Ireland and Vietnam. It was an evening of fellowship and new friendships, with plans for more to come.

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

Our Lady of Fatima welcomes new priest
| December 02, 2016


By Caroline Wilson from

Faced with two possible career paths — journalism or the priesthood — Father Damian Pielesz chose faith. That path has led the Polish native to Wilton, where he is parochial vicar of Our Lady of Fatima, assisting Pastor Reggie Norman.

He comes from Jastrzebie Zdroj, a city in the southern part of Poland. After graduating from the local schools and music school he became a newscaster for TVP Katowice, and had his own program on a local television station from 2003 to 2005.

Father Damian says religion has been present throughout his life, and he first considered going into the priesthood at his fifth birthday party, when a priest who was invited told him they were in need of more altar servers.

From that day, he was crazy about Mass. He held his own service in his room every Sunday, with flowers for a microphone and apple juice for wine. His family was always invited.

When he was in music school, he learned to play the piano and trumpet. He still favors the latter, saying, “When I played on the trumpet, music became a source of inspiration and expression.” Father Damian also sees music as a way for people to connect and understand emotion through song.

Going to high school, Father Damian wanted to try something different from the priesthood, something he had been interested in since he was a small child. He was unsure whether he was being called to journalism or faith, and wanted to see how it would go.

Ultimately, God’s calling was stronger, and he says, “I really felt I should be a priest.” For him, there are some clear connections between the priesthood and newscasting. Journalism gave him more confidence to talk to people, which is very important in being a priest. In addition, he said, the work was rewarding, as he started by working the graveyard shift of the late night to early morning and eventually achieved a level of “on-air recognition.”

His career in faith began with readings during Mass and as altar server. The next stop was SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Krakow, the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. The seminary is dedicated to preparing foreign-born seminarians, particularly those of Polish descent, to work for the Roman Catholic Church in America. After he had finished his years there, he arrived at Orchard Lake, Mich., to finish up his English studies at a branch of the same seminary.

His final seminary year was completed in spring 2013 at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg. On May 26, 2013, he celebrated his first Mass at Holy Name of Jesus in Stamford, a Polish-American church.

He had said, “I want to be a priest who knows how to listen, to communicate God’s message effectively and to help those in need.” When asked whether or not he had achieved this goal he answered, “The best analogy I have ever heard in answering this question came from Elder David A. Bednar, who spoke about the priesthood as being an umbrella that covers and protects His children. It is the men’s job to hold the umbrella and make sure it covers us all. So I want to be a priest who wants to cover all people for my whole priesthood. I want to do it every day. It is not something I can achieve once.”

Since then, Father Damian has been a priest within the Diocese of Bridgeport. He enjoys knowing that the United States was founded Christian. The culture is also a very open one, and he believes the people here are friendly. Even the littlest things, like weather changes, American diners (and their food portions), and entertainment, from Broadway to the music that plays on the radio, are appreciated by Father Damian.

He believes his first Mass at Our Lady of Fatima was successful, but leaves it up to parishioners to decide.

St Joseph High School Teachers Travel to El Salvador
| December 01, 2016


December 1, 2016—TRUMBULL, CONNECTICUT— St Joseph High School located at 2320 Huntington Turnpike in Trumbull, Connecticut announced that two of the faculty members are currently on a U.S. Delegation trip in El Salvador located in Central America.

Dr James Keane, Principal, stated, “As an important part of faculty professional development, St Joseph High School faculty members Mrs. Maureen Anderson and Ms Meghan Piatak participated this week in a U.S. delegation to El Salvador to help commemorate a dark chapter in the history of that country that included a civil war that killed tens of thousands and brutal persecution of the Catholic Church.”

The trip, organized by International Partners in Mission, a Cleveland-based interfaith non-profit organization with a global focus to help the most poor and vulnerable around the world, the trip involved a ceremony to remember the deaths of four American churchwomen: Maura Clark, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan who were brutally killed by Salvadoran security forces thirty-five years ago. The delegation also paused to pray at the chapel where Blessed Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated and met with surviving members of the Jesuit community at the University of Central America where, in 1989, six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her young daughter were massacred. This summer, IPM will run an immersion trip to Nicaragua for St. Joseph High School students and teachers as part of the new Francis Xavier International Baccalaureate Program that is linking domestic and international experiences of solidarity to classroom coursework.

For additional media 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).

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.

Advent ceremony lights the Catholic Center
| November 30, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—“We all know what hunger is. We need nutrients to feed our bodies,” said Msgr. Thomas Powers, vicar general of the Diocese of Bridgeport, during a blessing of the Advent Wreath at the Catholic Center.  “Just as we need food for our bodies, we all need grace. We’re hungry for God’s grace.”

Advent, the four weeks of preparation for the coming of Jesus at Christmas, can be a time to receive the healing love of God’s grace. The name comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning arrival. It is a time to ponder the great sacrifice that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, made for us by coming to earth as an infant.

As the reading from Old Testament prophet Isaiah, read at the ceremony, says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Trinity High’s food drive assists Food Bank
| November 29, 2016


STAMFORD—Student Council moderators Katrina Egan and Rebecca Corso announced that Trinity Catholic High School continued their mission of serving others. Sponsored by the Student Council, the school’s long-standing community service project, the Thanksgiving Food Drive, donated a grand total of over 5,900 lbs of non-perishable food and turkeys to the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County. 

The freshman class donated 1,143 lbs, the sophomores 1,745 lbs, the juniors 1,200 lbs, and the seniors 1,851 lbs.

Trinity Catholic High School students hail from 16 communities throughout Fairfield County (Danbury, Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport and Wilton) and Westchester County (Bedford, Hartsdale, Mahopac, New Rochelle, Port Chester, Valhalla, White Plains and Yonkers).

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

Knights Continue Work for God and Country
| November 28, 2016


NORWALK—Norwalk's Knights of Columbus St. Matthew Council 14360 has many traditions including helping our Veterans and children in need. First Knights of Columbus Saint Matthew Council 14360 and students at Fox Run, Wolfpit and All Saints Catholic Schools sponsored a donation drive for the veterans at the Homes for The Brave in Bridgeport in honor of Veterans Day.

Homes for The Brave is a facility in Bridgeport that takes care of veterans who are working to get back to regular life after serving in the armed forces.

Fox Run School teachers Mary Janine Lane and Jane Jawlik as well as the Fox Run Student Council organized the drive.  Council 14360 member Joe Giandurco and his wife, Alice, a retired Fox Run teacher, approached the school about organizing a collection for the fourth straight year. When Council 14360 approached All Saints about doing a drive, Principal Linda Dunn, Student Council advisor John Mezzacappa and the All Saints Student Council were immediately responsive and excited about the opportunity to help the home for the second straight year. In addition, Wolfpit School in Norwalk coordinated by teacher Melissa Giandurco joined the other schools for the first time.  The three schools along with Council 14360 held drives and delivered 4 car loads of food and supplies to Homes for the Brave.  

Joe Giandurco Council 14360 member and a former Marine who served in Vietnam.  “Homes for the Brave is a top-notch organization. It is my pleasure and honor to help my fellow veterans in any way I can,” he says.

In addition, Council 14360 and Catholic Daughters of the America's St. Matthew Court 2640 provided and delivered a full Thanksgiving meal for the residents of Homes for the Brave for the fourth consecutive year. "Time after time, we are deeply touched by the dedication the Saint Matthew Knights and Catholic Daughters. Once again, they gave up the time and financial resources that are so precious this time of year to coordinate three supply drives and deliver a traditional turkey dinner to our men and women on Thanksgiving. It means so much to our residents that they were able to take a break from their hard work and enjoy a traditional family-style meal, said Kaitlin Marinelli, Communications and Outreach Specialist at Homes for the Brave. Homes for the Brave CEO/Executive Director, Vince Santilli went on to say, "Our men and women both loved the food and we could NOT be more appreciative. What a blessing St. Matthew Council #14360 and Catholic Daughters Court 2640 have been to us. Your Thanksgiving visit and the meal you delivered was a wonderful blessing."
The day after Thanksgiving has of course become known as “Black Friday”, with many shoppers rushing about in search of the best deals on everything from clothing to televisions. This Black Friday, some members Knights of Columbus Council 14360 spent part of their day helping those with limited funds to stay warm and happy this winter along with Brother Knights from Norwalk Council 46 and New Canaan Council 2287.

Brothers handed out coats for children in need at St. Joseph Church in South Norwalk as part of the Knights of Columbus Coats for Kids initiative. The coats were purchased by the three K of C Councils with money generated from the council's respective fundraising activities.

The Knights of Columbus launched the coats initiative (designed to keep kids warm in harsh winter climates) in 2009. With many families with young children struggling in tough economic times, there was a clear need to provide warm winter coats to children in their communities. And so, the Knights of Columbus Coats for Kids program was born.

Since the program’s inception, the Knights of Columbus in the United States and Canada has given away more than 200,000 coats to children in need. Approximately 2,000 local Knights of Columbus councils have participated in their communities around the world. "This is the second year that the 3 local Knights councils hooked up to give away coats.  This year we gave around 100 coats in 90 minutes. It is an honor to help children keep warm this winter," said Council 14360 member and District Deputy George Ribellino.

Finally, KofC St. Matthew Council 14360 sponsored the Third Annual Christmas Tree and Crèche lighting at St. Matthew Church on Sunday 11/27. The council provided refreshments and the St. Matthew Adult and Youth Choirs sang Christmas Carols. On top of that special guest Msgr. Tom Powers, the Vicar General from the Diocese of Bridgeport blessed the crèche and Christmas Tree.  The Christmas tree and crèche lighting was started by Council 14360 as part of the Knights of Columbus Keep Christ in Christmas initiative of the real and true meaning of Christmas.

"This was truly a great way to kick off the Advent season as we prepare for the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day," said Grand Knight Scott Criscuolo.

Mater Ecclesiae Mosaic in Danbury
| November 28, 2016


DANBURY—“Jesus is the sun and Mary is the dawn announcing His rising.”  Pope Francis.

This quote takes on new meaning on the streets of the city of Danbury these days. The sun now rises and sets on the Dawn and The Son, a new mosaic commissioned by Fr. Peter Towsley, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish.

Combining the thoughts of Pope Paul VI and St. John Paul II, Fr. Peter Towsley has overseen the installation of a beautiful new mosaic on the facade of his Church, an image of Our Lady and the Child Jesus under the title Mater Ecclesiae (Latin for Mother of the Church).  
In 1964 Pope Paul VI chose to end the sessions of the Second Vatican Council “with the joy of honoring Our Lady with the title Mother of the Church, Mater Ecclesiae… This title will help us to honor Mary Most Holy, loving Queen of the world, source of unity as our Mother, and tender hope of salvation.”

During Holy Week of 1980, at a gathering in Rome of Pope John Paul II with several thousand young people, a young man named Julio Nieto commented to the Holy Father that of all the statues in St. Peter's Square, there was not an image of Our Lady, and therefore the Square was incomplete. Pope John Paul's responded, "Good, very good! We have to put the finishing touch on the square." Inspired by this, wheels were set in motion to explore putting this "finishing touch" on the square by the head of Opus Dei, Msgr. Del Portillo, successor to St. Jose Maria Escriva. Sketches for an image of Our Lady as Mary Mater Ecclesiae, based on the image Madonna della colonna from the Constantinian basilica, were sent to the Holy Father, and a site proposed, but Msgr. Del Portillo did not receive a response.
One year later, on May 13th 1981, in that same square, Pope John Paul II was shot in an assassination attempt. He attributed his survival to the protection of Mary, and as a sign of gratitude, he decided to move forward with Msgr. Del Portillo’s previously proposed suggestions to “complete” the square. On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8th of that year, he blessed the newly installed mosaic, Mater Ecclesiae. St. John Paul II’s hope was, “…that all who come to St. Peter’s Square may raise their eyes to Mary, to greet her with filial trust and prayer.”  
With that same hope, Fr. Peter commissioned Brookfield husband and wife artists, Bruce and Joanne Hunter, to create a new mosaic of this same image to grace not only the facade of the Church, but the streets of Danbury. The parishioners of Sacred Heart Church enthusiastically supported the idea and their many long hours and funds were donated to bring the project to fruition. Lights were installed, so that all who pass by, day or night, from any and all walks of life, may look up to Our Lady and know that she is there as a our loving Mother, and bears the hope of our salvation, her child, Jesus. It is a tangible reminder that they are watching over and blessing all.
Life-long artists, Bruce and Joanne have been doing mosaics of public art for the past 20 years. “Before this project we had never done any religious art, so it was important to us to understand and honor the different aspects of, and the reasons for, the original piece at Saint Peter’s Basilica. Researching the visual vocabulary of religious art enlightened our understanding. Again, the history of this specific project was intriguing to us. We viewed religious art, and visited chapels and churches to see other mosaics, both for inspiration and to admire the beauty.”
“Bruce and I are enamored of mosaic work. We love it if we are facilitating a design of our own with a collaborative group, or if we are commissioned to do a piece ourselves. We love the timelessness of it, and the permanence of the medium. It permits our design aesthetic to be viewed in public spaces, hopefully allowing art to be included in everyone’s daily life,” Joanne explains. Their largest mosaic to date is a 900 square foot mural for the city of Waterbury. They designed, planned and facilitated over 1400 students and community members from all walks of life in the creation of the piece entitled “Cool Waters” that now hangs adjacent to the Webster Bank, across from the Palace Theatre. “We pursue all sorts of mosaic opportunities from school projects to urban placemaking to NYC subway art to state grants to private commissions."
“Watching the subtle changes occur while we are creating a piece is quite something to behold,” says Joanne, “From the beginning of each project, when we pick the specific kind of tiles we want to put into the art, to picking colors of the tesserae we’ll use to create color shifts, to the actual prep work of the design and fabrication plan is all very exciting. Getting to start the actual mosaic, to see the subtle color changes that create shadow and form, the play of light glimmering on the tesserae, the image building right in front of us—then the magic really starts.”
The art of mosaic dates back some five thousand years to ancient Babylon. The thousands of pieces, called tesserae, that make up a mosaic are hand cut to form the design. Each piece catches the light at a slightly different angle. As one of the most beautiful aspects of a mosaic is in it's reflected light, it becomes a fitting analogy of what we are all called to be, a reflection of God's light and love in which we were created. And so this new addition to the streets of Danbury takes on many meanings, in the image, in the medium in which it was rendered, and of course simply in the profound words Mater Ecclsiae.
Mother Teresa once said, “If you ever feel distressed during your day—call upon our Lady—just say this simple prayer: ‘Mary, mother of Jesus, please be a mother to me now.’ I must admit—this prayer has never failed me.”  May this image serve as a daily reminder to all passers-by on Cottage Street in Danbury to do just that, to "raise their eyes to Mary" and ask her to be their tender mother.

At Thanksgiving, Americans 'united in debt we owe to God,' say prelates
| November 25, 2016 • by Published by Catholic News Service


WASHINGTON—The president and vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said November 23 that Thanksgiving Day is a time for the nation to pause and "give God thanks for the abundant blessings he has bestowed upon us."

"It is a grateful tradition people of many faiths have honored since even before our country's founding," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president, and Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice president.

Thanksgiving has been celebrated as a federal holiday on the last Thursday in November every year since 1863, when, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."

"In modern times, Thanksgiving has become a day when dispersed families come together again around the dinner table," the two prelates said in a message to the country.

They asked for prayers for those who were traveling to be with family for the holiday "that God may guide them safely to their loved ones."

"Thanksgiving is also a day of service as volunteers prepare a meal for those less fortunate. Let us pray for everyone separated from the abundance of our country that God may comfort them and opportunities may open for them to fully participate in the hope of America," they said. "Let us also especially remember the elderly and those who are in need, as well as anyone who may be spending the day alone. May they experience the closeness of God."

"On Thanksgiving, millions of Americans, from big cities to rural countryside, will bow their heads to say grace. They will be successful and struggling, citizen and newcomer, sisters and brothers to us all," Cardinal DiNardo and Archbishop Gomez added. "Diverse as we are, we are united in the debt we owe to God and our desire to give him thanks. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!"

Racial healing requires working for justice
| November 23, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Prayer is empty if it is not accompanied by a conversion of heart and commitment to justice, religious leaders said at tonight’s interfaith prayer service for peace and racial healing held at St. Augustine Cathedral.

Almost 150 men and women turned out the readings and reflections, which delivered a sobering message about the impact of racism on society.

“Racism is a sin against our neighbors and against God’s witness and love and the unity he wants for us,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in is introductory remarks.

“Racism is alive and it’s time to put an end to it. Our nation is better than this and we need to be better than this.”

“Without justice there can be do authentic spirituality,” said Rabbi James Prosnit, leader of Congregation B’nai Israel in Bridgeport. “To cloak ourselves in religion and forget mercy is blasphemous.”

“Is it naïve to hope when hatred has gone mainstream?” the Rabbi asked. He said at a time when the nation is divided “Churches and Synagogues can be places were we begin to repair ourselves.”

In a passionate and powerful talk, Pastor Anthony Bennett, lead pastor of Mount Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport, said the country will not move ahead until people come to terms with “White privilege that permeates every aspect of American life,” and leads to different standards of justice.

He said that American society will not “find healing solutions if it does not first acknowledge the hurt” and the reality that “Black and brown lives are not valued the way others are.”

Quoting Frederick Douglas, Pastor Bennett said Christians cannot “favor freedom but despise agitation.”

Imam Nasif Muhammad of Al-Aziz Islamic Center in Bridgeport told the gathering that he grew up attending segregated schools in the South for his first nine years and then moved to the Bronx where he experienced a different kind of segregation.

He said that race relations in the U.S. represent a history of “getting angry with each other rather than coming together,” and that people should not label one another.

The Imam said that most Americans are unaware that more than 38% of the slaves brought to America were Muslims.

“Islam didn’t just arrive. It has been here for a long time,” he said, urging people to see each other as human beings who want the same things

Rev. Cass Shaw, leader of the Council of Churches, said that too many Christian have “a complacency in the face of racism,” and that “There is no healing without justice.”

She noted a spike in hate crimes and harassment after the election and said that most of it happened in schools and universities where young people should be protected.

“Many of our brothers and sisters are weary to the bone,” Rev. Shaw said, nothing that some immigrant children “are terrified of being deported,” while Black parents fear for the safety of their children.

She said that many people of color are stereotyped as inherently criminal or as terrorists when they commit a crime, while white people are often seen as “mentally ill.”

“We who are white are un-attentive to racism and until we acknowledge the truth of racial prejudice, we are complicit and we will continue to struggle.”

During the evening, the 50-member Sacred Heart University choir raised the roof with spiritual hymns, and the congregation broke into small groups to discuss the issue.

Patrick Turner, Director of Strategic and Pastoral Planning for the diocese, served as host of the program.

The service was the beginning of a major interfaith initiative designed to bring together a widely diverse community with and enter into a new level of dialogue and kinship of people of many faiths and ethnicities, said Fr. Reginald Norman, who led planning for the evening.

At the conclusion of the prayer service the bishop said, “If we’re going to speak truth to authority, we must also have the courage to speak words of friendship to one another. Getting to know one another is the best antidote to put an end to the scourge of racism, and that needs to be done one person at a time.”

The bishop urged people to attend the upcoming listening sessions to discuss the issues and make recommendations on new ways to foster peace amongst all parties.

Listening sessions set for December: Wednesday December 7, 7 pm, Our Lady of Fatima Church, 229 Danbury Road, Wilton; Thursday December 8, 7 pm, Congregation B’nai Israel, 2710 Park Avenue, Bridgeport; Monday December 12, 7:30 pm, First Church Congregational, 148 Beach Road, Fairfield; Tuesday December 13, 7 pm, Mount Aery Baptist Church, 73 Frank Street, Bridgeport.

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Women’s Catholic Bible Study Founder Speaks to 400 Women from 15 parishes in Diocese of Bridgeport
| November 22, 2016


STAMFORD—Lisa Brenninkmeyer, founder, Walking with Purpose Women’s Catholic Bible Study, spoke to over 400 Catholic women and pastors from throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport on November 16th at the Italian Center in Stamford.

Brenninkmeyer’s talk, Brave and Beloved: Overcoming Fear, empowered women of the diocese to make choices that release us from the grip of anxiety and move us towards inner peace.

“Fears can hold us back, keeping us from our true purpose,” said Brenninkmeyer at the event. “They can also paralyze us and fill us with feelings of dread and panic. God wants us to be free from that way of living. We are God's beloved, and He wants us to be brave.” Brenninkmeyer shared practical steps women can take when emotions and circumstances feel out of control.

Walking with Purpose has been enthusiastically welcomed in the Diocese of Bridgeport. After speaking in September 2015 to Walking with Purpose participants in Stamford, Bishop Caggiano said, “Since its arrival in the Diocese of Bridgeport, Walking with Purpose has deepened the faith of thousands of women who have attended its courses. Through its authentic catechesis and by its commitment to accompany women in their daily lives, Walking with Purpose has helped its participants to deepen their personal relationship with the Lord and their commitment to the Church and has also brought new energy and hope throughout the Diocese.” Over 800 women in the diocese currently participate in Walking with Purpose Catholic Bible study programs at the following parishes: Basilica of St. John the Evangelist, Stamford; Church of the Holy Spirit, Stamford; Sacred Heart of Jesus, Danbury; St. Aloysius, New Canaan; St. Catherine of Siena, Riverside; St. Catherine of Siena, Trumbull; St. Gabriel, Stamford; St. Joseph Brookfield; St. Leo, Stamford; St. Mary, Greenwich; St Mary, Ridgefield; St. Maurice, Stamford; St. Michael, Greenwich, St. Rose of Lima, Newtown; and St. Thomas More, Darien.

Brenninkmeyer began Walking with Purpose in 2008 out of a desire to see women come to know Christ personally. Her first book, Walking with Purpose: Seven Priorities that Make Life Work, was published by Beacon Publishing for the Dynamic Catholic Institute with over 50,000 copies sold to-date. In 2012, Brenninkmeyer was recognized by the Catholic Leadership Institute as a National Catholic Leader. In 2014 and 2015, she was invited to be a presenter at the Amazing Parish Program’s national conference and spoke as a national leader on effective small group ministry. Brenninkmeyer has written seven Walking with Purpose Bible study courses; all studies have received the Imprimatur through Archbishop Lori of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Over 12,000 women now participate in Walking with Purpose studies in 34 states, Canada and Switzerland. For more information about Walking with Purpose, visit the organization’s website:

Contact: Laurie Baschwitz
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Prayer Service for Peace and Racial Healing
| November 22, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—A major interfaith prayer service event, “Prayer for a Path to Peace and Racial Healing,” will be held today, Tuesday, November 22, at 7 pm at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.

The service is open to people of all faiths and is the beginning of a major interfaith initiative designed to bring together a widely diverse community with a goal towards bringing a new level of dialogue and kinship of people of many faiths and ethnicities.

Featured speakers include Bishop Frank J. Caggiano; Rev. Cass Shaw, president/CEO of the Bridgeport Council of Churches; Rabbi James Prosnit, leader of Congregation B’nai Israel, a Reform temple in Bridgeport; and Pastor Anthony Bennett, lead pastor of Mount Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport, CONECT co-chair and a local leader of Black Lives Matter.

The Sacred Heart University Choir will provide musical selections at the service, which will include interfaith prayer and a time for personal reflection.

Bishop Caggiano has assem- bled a committee made up of clergy, laity and interfaith leaders. They have not only planned this service; the committee is in the planning stages for an ongoing initiative to continue expanding the dialogue and discussion regarding racial healing.

Father Reginald D. Norman, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Wilton, and episcopal vicar of the Apostolate of African American Catholics, said that given the unrest in the world and the problem of violence at home, the service is meant to bring people of many different faiths and backgrounds together. “It is our hope that as we begin in prayer, we will work together in the weeks and months to come to be a beacon of hope and understanding for all people. Our world needs an open and honest dialogue regarding these issues. We are excited to begin this work.”

The incentive for this launch event is in response to the request of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) president, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, that all dioceses through - out the United States conduct a prayer service for peace and for solutions to unresolved racial and criminal justice issues that have led to the loss of life of civilians and police in the inner cities.

Archbishop Kurtz has written that at times of growing tension over criminal justice issues, “We urge all to stay centered in prayer and in the knowledge that all of us, black and white, civilian and police, are valued and beloved children of God. Our commitment in our Baptismal Covenant shows us the way forward—to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves and to strive for justice and peace among all people, respecting the dignity of every human being.”

“So many events of the past year have taught us that we can’t ignore issues regarding police vio - lence against the poor any more than we can sanction violence against police, who put their lives on the line to protect us,” said Father Norman. “It is not a Black problem but a problem for all of society, and we must all work on a just solution that builds respect between police and communities and respects the dignity of all involved. I am excited that we are coming together to open the dialogue and process of crafting solutions in our community.”

Father Norman said he believes the interfaith foundation of the evening will be a good forum to begin to “present the problems and open a venue for dialogue.” This is the launch of a broader initiative focused on crafting solutions that have a real impact on reducing tensions and building bridges between all elements of our community.

The interfaith team is working to identify ten sites around Fairfield County that will host listening sessions to discuss the issues and make recommendations on new ways to foster peace amongst all parties.

(For more information, contact Patrick Turner: 203.416.1633 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))

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In Transformational Move, Sacred Heart University Acquires Former GE Global Headquarters
| November 21, 2016


FAIRFIELD—Sacred Heart University has entered into an agreement with General Electric to purchase its 66-acre former global headquarters in Fairfield. “This is a transformational moment in the history of Sacred Heart University,” said SHU President John J. Petillo. 

“With this property, SHU has a unique opportunity to contribute to education, research, health care and the community. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us, and it also reflects our long-standing relationship with GE that includes former GE CEO Jack Welch, for whom our College of Business is named.”

Petillo noted that the purchase is another step in SHU’s recent and rapid growth. “Our strategic plan calls for thoughtful expansion of our campus footprint when opportunities arise that make solid business sense and strengthen the institution and its future,” he said. “This purchase will support our desire to offer new and innovative programming and expand our graduate offerings. Most importantly, it will serve to further enhance Sacred Heart University’s overall standing and competitiveness among national universities.

SHU plans to use the property as an innovation campus, to expand its new School of Computing, which is focused on computer engineering, computer gaming and cybersecurity, and to develop programs in STEM fields such as health and life sciences, science and technology. The University will also move certain elements of its Jack Welch College of Business to the new campus, including its new hospitality management program that will make use of facilities both at the GE site and SHU’s recently acquired Great River Golf Club in Milford, Conn.

The University also plans to move its College of Education, art & design program and the University’s business office to the site, eliminating the need to rent space in Trumbull. Future plans could include a performing arts space/recital hall, a swimming pool and running trails and incubator space that would allow students, in conjunction with investors and area businesses, to develop their creative ideas for new products and programs. All plans are contingent on approval by the Town of Fairfield and the ability of the University to raise the funds needed for these projects.

SHU officials are also hoping the purchase will allow the University to develop partnerships with local health-care providers, providing clinical opportunities for students in its Colleges of Health Professions and Nursing. These partnerships could also mean more health-care options for area residents.

Michael Kinney, senior vice president for Finance & Administration at SHU, notes that for $31.5M—the price of an average-sized academic building—SHU will acquire a world-class corporate headquarters, approximately 66 acres, about 550,000 square feet for current and future use, 800 above/underground parking spaces and enough space to meet needs for the foreseeable future. The purchase of this parcel will bring the total acreage of Sacred Heart’s campus to nearly 200 acres, not including the 150-acre Great River Golf Club purchased last year.

“This purchase addresses our classroom and parking needs and will provide acreage for all master plan future development. That said, this is still a significant purchase for us. However, it was impossible for us not to take advantage of this opportunity—especially for land so close to our main campus,” he said.

The surrounding community will also benefit from this purchase. “The growth we will experience as a result of this purchase will increase consumer spending in the community by Sacred Heart students and parents—a number that already stands at close to $56M in the state,” said Kinney. “In addition, programs developed by SHU in the next four years could add 450 students and 50-60 new faculty and staff jobs. New direct and indirect spending driven by operational and capital spending by the University, its employees, new students and their families and visitors would be a minimum of $27-33M annually.” With the purchase by SHU, a nonprofit entity, Fairfield will also receive payments from the state’s PILOT program.

“We are pleased to sell our property to a world-class local university and are happy that the campus will continue to be used for learning and innovation, two hallmarks of both GE and Sacred Heart,” said Harri Singh, GE global properties leader.

“This purchase will benefit future students of Sacred Heart with added programs, new facilities and exciting opportunities,” Petillo said. “It will provide area residents and businesses with new facilities to use, increased consumer spending and additional jobs as well as incubator space that can develop much-needed economic opportunities for the area that are tied to a top-notch educational institution.”

Purchase will support University’s ongoing strategic expansion and development as a leading institution of higher education

About Sacred Heart University

Sacred Heart University, the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, offers more than 70 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its main campus in Fairfield, Conn., and satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland. More than 8,500 students attend the University’s five colleges: Arts & Sciences; Health Professions; Nursing; the Jack Welch College of Business; and the Isabelle Farrington College of Education. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its guides Best 381 Colleges – 2017 Edition, “Best in the Northeast” and Best 294 Business Schools– 2017 Edition. U.S.News & World Report ranks SHU among the best master’s universities in the North in its “Best Colleges 2017” publication. The Chronicle of Higher Education also names SHU one of the fastest-growing Roman Catholic universities in its 2016 almanac. SHU fields 32 division I athletic teams and has an award-winning program of community service. 

For additional Sacred Heart University news, please visit

Bishop: “Become the Living Door of God’s Mercy”
| November 20, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—This morning as Bishop Frank J. Caggaino closed the Holy Door on the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, he urged all those present to become “living doors” to others by carrying mercy and love in their hearts for all those they encounter.

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The Diocesan observance of the international year, which began with a candlelight procession early last December, came to an end on a suddenly cold and wind whipped morning outside St. Augustine Cathedral on the Feast of Christ The King.

“The time has come for every single one of us to become living doors of God’s mercy in the world. We are all being sent out in this cold world to give witness to give witness and to invite people to touch the face of God in you and me,” the bishop said.

Members of the neo-catechumenate sang and danced in a prayer circle with guitars and tambourines before the bishop processed into Mass. The Epistle was read in Spanish and the congregation joined in the responsorial song, “Vamos alegres a la casad el senor.”(Let’s go to the house of the Lord.)

More than 700 parishioners and those who came throughout the diocese for the observance filled the Cathedral for the Mass and blessing. Music was sung in Latin, Spanish and English.

“We are not ending anything, we are beginning the next chapter in our Church,” the bishop said. “As we close the Holy Door, we pray that we open the door of your heart and mine as we ask for the grace to become more and more merciful.”

The bishop said that “mercy begins with looking in the mirror” and understanding “that God enters the wretchedness of our lives to lift us up in his love,” so that we might become ambassadors of mercy to others.

After his homily the bishop formally accepted the candidacy of Ricardo Batista to the priesthood. Batista, a member of the Neo- Catechumenate community at Cathedral Parish.

The congregation broke into applause when the bishop said that Ricardo will be will be the first seminarian from the new Redemptoris Mater Seminary to go on to St. Joseph’s Dunwoodie, Yonkers, New York.

“This is an historic moment,” the bishop said after Ricardo answered, “I do,” to a series of resolves to enter formation.

After Mass, the bishop processed to the Holy Door at the back to the Church and surrounded by seminarians gave the final blessing. “Throughout the year we’ve enjoyed every blessing of Christ. This has been a precious time of mercy and conversion,” he said.

Pope Francis formally declared the Jubilee of Mercy on April 11, 2015, to emphasize the importance of mercy and to keep alive a sense of encounter and openness in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. The Pope urged dioceses across the world to create a Holy Door, “to become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope.”

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Synod’s growing impact on life of the diocese
| November 19, 2016


TRUMBULL—Fourteen months after the close of the Synod, its initiatives and recommendations are beginning to be felt at every level of parish life and diocesan ministries.

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However, there is much more work to be done to renew faith life by engaging active Catholics in the renewal efforts and welcoming others back to the Church, speakers said at the 3rd Post synod General Delegate session held at St. Catherine of Siena Family Center in Nichols.

More than 100 of the men and women who served as delegates for more than a year of general sessions returned to St. Catherine’s for an informative and upbeat presentation on the changes underway and ongoing challenges.

In his welcome to delegates, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano described himself as an “impatient man” who often asks himself, “Can the people of the diocese see the results?”

The Bishop said he often reflects on the parable of the Sower and the Seed, and he prays that the seeds of the Synod have been planted in fertile soil that will yield much in the life of faithful.

“In this one singular, unique moment in life of the church if we want truly to reform and renewal of the local Church, it will demand that we are patient and fix on our eyes on planning seed for the long term,” he told the delegates.

The Bishop asked former delegates to continue to serve “as ambassadors of the Synod,” because many parishioners may still have very little awareness of what is going on,

He said that while the Synod will take time to achieve its goals, “our personal and spiritual growth as disciples can’t wait. Our number one task is to grow in our spiritual relationship with the Lord in the community of the Church. We can give birth to initiatives but if we don’t grow in love and friendship, then all is naught.”

Throughout the morning, delegates heard presentations on a wide variety of Synod initiatives that are now at work in diocese.

In reporting on the Pastoral Planning Process, Patrick Turner, Director of Strategic and Pastoral Planning, said that 71 of the 82 parishes have submitted pastoral plans as guidelines for activities in the next two years.

Each parish has been asked to identify goals and priorities and 44 parishes identified catechesis and education as a number one priority. Evangelization ad family life were also selected as priorities.

Turner reported that more than 6.100 people from 29 parishes in the diocese responded to the Disciple Maker Index, making it the largest cumulative response of any diocese across the country.

He said that 56% of those who responded “strongly agreed” that they would recommend their parish to a friend, “and that’s a great testimony to our pastors and parishes.”

At the same time, only 25% said that the parish helps them grow in their personal prayer life, he said, adding that his office will sponsor workshops beginning in January to help parishes evaluate their programs and move forward.

Patrick Donovan, leader of the diocesan Leadership Institute, described plans for the institute’s online programs that will begin with a twenty-question inventory of interests an provide a personalized learning path on topics of faith and spirituality.

People who visit the sites will be able to choose from a series of modules that includes a 12-18 minute video, a print reading, and resources for further leaning. The modules are also interactive and invite the participant’s reflection.

Donovan said the diocesan goal “is not certification but participation in ongoing formation.” In addition to its online programs, the institute will also offer lectures and other presentations.

The institute will be formally launched on January 11, 2017, 7 pm with an evening prayer and reflection at Assumption Parish in Westport.

He also shared results of the recent Catechetical Task Force Survey, which he said, “Raised more questions than it answered.”

He said the telephone survey “found that there is no typical parish or program” and that there is very little uniformity in catechetical offerings across the diocese and that “classroom models of catechesis aren’t effective and haven’t been for some time.”

However, there are many programs in the diocese where enrollment is increasing direct results of parish doing something different or clergy being more present.

Donovan said there are “quick wins” for parishes if they immediately begin engaging families with pre-school children in early childhood formation programs and also renew their youth ministry.

Evan Psenick, who recently completed his first year as Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, thanked delegates “for giving us a roadmap and paving the way.”

He said what inspires young people to remain faithful is other young people who come together in events such as World Youth Day. He added that some parishes in the diocese do youth ministry very well, while others are struggling or have little to offer.

This year his office launched “Connected Catholics” for young adults between the ages of 18-35, and has seen growing interest in its monthly meetings at the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist in Stamford. He credited Fr. Andy Vill for creating a welcoming atmosphere and engaging young adults through worship and service projects.

Michelle Smith, new director of the Catholic Service Corps said that in the first four months 220 young people have donated 1,300 hours of service in Fairfield County.

“Young people often feel less connected than other Catholics and sometimes feel they don’ t get much out of Mass,” she said. “But when they go out and do service, they look left and look right and see young practicing Catholics at their side. That speaks important values to them.”

She said the Catholic Service Corps “roots service in prayer and gospel values,” and makes young people more aware of Catholic Social Teaching, which often surprises them and deepens their faith.

Rose Talbot Babey, coordinator of Childhood Faith Formation, announced that a Faith Formation Day will be held on January 28 from 8:30 to 2:30 at the Catholic Center and will be open to anyone in ministry. “Prophets of a Future Not Our Own” is the title of the day, which will include three rounds of presentation with both live speakers and guests on Skype.

“We get calls all the time from Catholics who want to know how to keep their families Catholic,” she said, noting the program will look at ways to better engage Catholics and take the gospel message out into the world.

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Third Post-Synod to Discuss Synod Impacts on Parishes, Schools, and Diocesan Programs
| November 18, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—The 3rd Post-Synod session will take place on Saturday, November 19, 8:15 am at St. Catherine of Siena Parish Center in Trumbull. 

Many of the men and women who served as delegates during last year’s Synod process will reconvene for an update on Synod initiatives now underway in the diocese.

Bishop Caggiano will welcome all those in attendance and provide an outline for the day beginning at 8:30, after a morning prayer service. The gathering will conclude at noon.

“The agenda is designed to bring the Delegates up to speed on the implementation of the various initiatives of the Synod and to receive feedback from them about the impact they are seeing in their parish, school, and faith communities,” said Patrick Turner, Director of Strategic and Pastoral Planning

“We will continue to check our work through the prism of the Mission Statement and Ten Principles articulated by the Synod,” he added.

The business items for the day begins with an 8:40 am report by Patrick Donovan on the Leadership Institute and the Catechetical Taskforce followed by a question and answer session. At 9:30, Evan Psencik will speak about developments in youth and young adult ministry, and Michelle Smith, new leader of the Catholic Service Corps, will offer an update on youth service projects.

At 10:25 am, Patrick Turner, Director of Strategic and Pastoral Planning, will share the commission’s recommendations after months of study  of diocesan Communications, Procurement, Information Technology and Database Management and Human Resources programs.

Beginning at 10:45, Patrick Turner will provide an overview of pastoral plans by parishes and the Disciple Maker Index results, followed by a table discussion of the impact on parishes.  

The final segment of the session, beginning at 11:40, will be a focus on “accompaniment” Patrick Turner will offer a brief overview of the newly appointed Pastors Retreat, the Diocesan Addictions Support and Healing (DASH), the recent Prayer Service for Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse; and the Prayer Service for Racial Peace and Healing.

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

For a full recap, visit the Synod website at

New film begins run during Catholic Church’s Year of Mercy
| November 17, 2016


NEW HAVEN—“The Face of Mercy,” a new Knights of Columbus documentary that uses personal accounts to highlight the impact of God’s mercy on people’s lives, will air on many ABC-affiliated TV stations from October 16 to December 16.

“Throughout the twentieth century, the Catholic understanding of Divine Mercy became increasingly important. Both St. John Paul II, and Pope Francis, who declared this Year of Mercy, made it a central theme of their papacies,” said Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson. “This extraordinary film highlights the sort of transformations that are possible in individual lives that embrace the way of mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation.”

Narrated by actor Jim Caviezel, “The Face of Mercy” draws connections between the history of Divine Mercy and this year’s Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, which will end November 20, 2016. It also shows mercy’s role in the transformation of the lives of ordinary people.

The documentary explores how Pope St. John Paul II inherited and shared the message of Divine Mercy revealed to a Polish nun, Sister Faustina Kowalska in the first half of the 20th century. While still an archbishop in Poland, John Paul worked to gain the Church’s approval of the message revealed to Sister Faustina. Her message was embraced, and the pope who had worked so hard to spread her message declared her a saint in 2000.

These two Polish saints—Faustina and John Paul II—together propelled the image of Divine Mercy—and insight into the concept—onto the world stage. That work continues as Pope Francis continues to promote Divine Mercy during the Jubilee Year of Mercy now underway in the Catholic Church.

Filmed in 4K high definition, the project weaves theology and history with modern testimonials to reveal what constitutes the face of mercy in people’s lives, and how it is the antidote to evil even in the most difficult times.

The individuals featured include Immaculée Ilibagiza, who found freedom in forgiveness after seeing her family wiped out by genocide in Rwanda; a former-NFL linebacker who walked away from his sports career to share Christ’s mercy with the homeless; a baseball player who traded major league ambitions for a priestly vocation; a priest with a drug-dealing past; and a young widow who chose to forgive her husband’s killer. All witness to mercy in incredible ways in their own lives.

“These moving testimonies remind us that Divine Mercy is not just a devotion or theological concept—it is alive, it is present, and it is a force that can transform the world,” said Anderson.

More information about the film, including broadcast times and the DVD release, is available at

The state of abortion in Connecticut
| November 17, 2016


HARTFORD—The Connecticut Catholic Conference continues to monitor the issue of abortion in Connecticut with the publication of its ninth annual “The State of Abortion in Connecticut” report.

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Throughout the years, this report has provided a concise overview of abortion trends in Connecticut, along with highlighting other issues related to this contentious issue within our state and nation. The conference hopes the information presented in this report will be informative and shape the public debate on this issue within Connecticut.
·      Since 2007, Connecticut has experienced a 31.6 percent decline in the number of surgical and medical (drug-induced) abortions. This trend is reflective of a national decline in the number of abortions.
·      The significant decline in teen abortions continued for the eighth straight year.
·      Abortions performed on girls younger than 18 years of age has declined by 69.2 percent since the ten year high in 2007.
·      Abortion rates1across all age groups have seen a significant decline over the last ten years.
·      Over the last seven years, there has been a very significant improvement (83.5 percent) in the reduction of the number of abortions being reported to the State Department of Public Health which lack critical patient information. The problem of incomplete reporting concerns two areas of significance: the age of the woman receiving the abortion, and the gestational age of the child being aborted.
Pregnancy Care Centers—Providing a “Choice”
Connecticut Pregnancy Care Centers (PCCs), sometimes referred to as pregnancy resource centers or crisis pregnancy centers, assist women in this state facing an unplanned pregnancy.
Many centers also assist mothers and fathers facing difficulty in providing the basic necessities for their newborn children due to financial hardship or other domestic issues.

Currently, there are 24 non-profit PCCs in Connecticut which are operated by a variety of organizations. These centers service hundreds of women and children a year in this state.
The mission of the state’s pregnancy care centers is not just to help meet the material and emotional needs of their clients, but to help give women a real “choice” when facing the demands of an unplanned child. The centers want to let the women know that abortion is not the only option, or “choice” they can make. In a compassionate and non-judgmental environment the centers offer the “pro-life” choice to their clients.
Click to read full report

GCS 3rd Graders Celebrate National Distance Learning Week with NASA
| November 17, 2016


GREENWICH—In honor of National Distance Learning Week, Greenwich Catholic School 3rd graders in Mrs. Lisa Barbieri’s class participated in a virtual lesson called “The Science of the Sun” courtesy of NASA’s Digital Learning Network.

Streaming from the Goddard Flight Center in Maryland, DLN Specialist Lindsey Jones taught the session. The digital class, known as a STEM Short, is a new distance learning initiative that features brief presentations by NASA experts followed by a live question and answer session from classrooms across the country.

Mrs. Barbieri's students submitted questions about the sun prior to and throughout the online class. One student wanted to know how many planet earths could fit inside of the sun. The answer, Ms. Jones said, is approximately 1.3 million.

“Learning about space, technology and STEM careers is important for future generations,” Mrs. Barbieri explained. “I try to integrate technology into our lessons whenever possible.”

The remote learning experience was a positive one for the whole class, Barbieri went on to say. “Now they are fascinated by the sun and can’t stop talking about the solar eclipse that’s going to take place in August of 2017!”

Speaking of distance, another GCS 3rd grader asked, “How far away is the sun from the earth?” While standing in the classroom at the Goddard Flight Center, located approximately 250 miles away from Greenwich Catholic School, Ms. Jones answered, “93 million miles.”

Closing of the Holy Door this Sunday
| November 15, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy will conclude on Sunday, November 20, 9:30 am one the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, when Bishop Frank J. Caggiano celebrates Mass and presides over with the solemn closing of the Holy Door at St. Augustine Cathedral. All are welcome to attend.

The Closing of the Holy Door will conclude the diocesan observance of the Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis, who will also close the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.
During the Mass the Bishop will offers thanksgiving to God for the graces of the past year and pray that they will continue in the life of the diocese.
Father Joseph Marcello, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull and coordinator of the diocesan observance of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, said that the Year of Mercy has had a lasting impact on the life of the Diocese of Bridgeport, particularly in the formation of “Center of Mercy,” which offers the sacrament of Confession on a regular basis.    
“The most important aspect of these Centers of Mercy is, I think, that with them, no Catholic in our diocese has to go more than two or three days without regularly scheduled confessions at a parish near them,” he said
Although the Year of Mercy concludes this month, Fr. Marcello said he expects that several Centers of Mercy will continue as a permanent addition to the pastoral life of the diocese.
One of the most enduring images from this Year of Mercy is the now-famous photo of Pope Francis going to confession.
“The Holy Father has given us his personal example of actively seeking out God's mercy, just as he has given us this Year of Mercy, so that all of us can do the same,” he said. “Let's all pray that this grace of mercy will be experienced by many, even beyond this special Year of Mercy—and most especially by anyone who hasn't experienced it in a long while.”
(The location of the Centers of Mercy in the Diocese of Bridgeport will be posted on the diocesan website:

Women’s Conference explores trust and forgiveness
| November 12, 2016


TRUMBULL— "Often our idea of perfection is not to have struggles.

But God's idea is for us to trust in Him,” said Msgr. Thomas Powers in his homily at the Third Annual Women’s Conference today at the St. Catherine of Siena Family Center, 210 Shelton Rd, Trumbull, Conn.

"He will be with us even in the most difficult times. He wants us to trust in Him to the point of audacity!" Often our idea of perfection is not to have struggles. But God's idea is for us to trust in Him. And so we trust, not because we have everything figured out, but precisely because we don't,” Msgr. Power said.

More than 200 women attended the “Made by Love, for Love” conference, which featured dynamic keynote speakers, Mass celebrated by Msgr. Thomas Powers, opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and private Eucharistic adoration, Candlelight Eucharistic procession, communal prayer and Catholic vendors.

Keynote speakder Sr. Mary Elizabeth Wusinich, SV, Vicar General for the Sisters of Life, told the women in attendance that "Forgiveness can bring us back to life… There is a strength in a woman's heart to nurture those entrusted to her care!"

In her talk, Sister Mary Elizabeth quote St. Edith Stein, "When He asks us to love our enemies, He gives us the love Himself. I don't have to rely on my own strength to do it."

Other speakers included Simcha Fisher, Catholic mom and blogger; Damon Owens, certified speaker for the Theology of the Body Institute.

For further information on diocesan programs for women or to purchase copies of the audio or video of the talks, please contact Kim Quatela at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 203-416-1334.

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

Getting Ready for Winter
| November 10, 2016


NORWALK—On Saturday, 10/29 members of Knights of Columbus St. Matthew Council #14360 continued their relationship with Notre Dame Convalescent Home by making some winter adjustments to the facility.

After a quick basement cleanup of old equipment, the Knights and Notre Dame Catholic School (Fairfield) student Sean Mitchell winterized all the windows in the residents’ rooms to get them ready for the cold months ahead.

“These residents need comfort during these Connecticut winters, so we lent a helping hand to keep them warm and keep the heating bills down”, said Grand Knight Scott Criscuolo.

Notre Dame Convalescent Home is a 60-bed residence, including 6 private rooms, and located on five landscaped acres on 76 West Rocks Road in Norwalk, CT, which operated under the loving sponsorship of The Sisters of Saint Thomas of Villanova. Their goal is to optimize the quality of life for the chronically ill and convalescent elderly.

Knights of Columbus St. Matthew Council 14360 has been assisting Sister Marie Lucie Monast and Notre Dame whenever there is a need, from remolding and painting the Convent Chapel, to multiple basement cleanings, yard work and painting.

"Notre Dame which is non-profit operates on a strict budget so if we can take a little stress away from Sister Lucie and her staff it is well worth it" said Past Grand Knight and Project chairman George Ribellino, Jr.  

The Council is also looking forward to having the youth of St. Matthew Parish assist with future projects.  "We are so proud of Notre Dame Fairfield student and St. Matthew parishioner Sean Mitchell who volunteered to help us out.  He did an awesome job." said Ribellino

The Council is planning future projects at Notre Dame since there is always something that needs to be done in the upkeep of the facility.

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

A Celebration of Mother Frances Cabrini
| November 10, 2016


STAMFORD—Join us for “A Celebration of Mother Frances Cabrini and the Italian American Experience," a discussion on immigration in America. Anthony Riccio, a Connecticut-based author of several books about the immigrant experience, will enlighten us about the struggles of newcomers to this country, with particular emphasis on those arriving from Italy.

Click here to view the flyer

The event begins with Mass spoken in Italian at Sacred Heart Church in Stamford at 10 am, followed by breakfast in the parish hall, and culminating with Riccio's lecture at 11 am.

Walking with Purpose Women’s Bible Studies at parishes in Diocese of Bridgeport
| November 10, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Walking With Purpose is currently being offered in 165 Catholic Parishes, and 16 of those parishes are right here, in Fairfield County, says Laura Phelps, the CT Regional Area Coordinator for the Women's Catholic Bible Study.

Walking with Purpose is a Catholic women’s Bible study that aims to bring women to a deeper personal relationship with Jesus Christ by offering personal study and small group discussion that link our everyday challenges and struggles with the solutions given to us through the teachings of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church.
Below is a list of diocesan parishes offering Walking With Purpose, with a brief description and contact information.

St. Maurice
358 Glenbrook Rd.
Stamford, CT 06906

Meeting Thursday evenings from 6:30pm to 8:00pm, starting November 10, 2016. For more information, contact Monica DiCostanzo at  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

The Basilica of St. John the Evangelist
279 Atlantic Street
Stamford, CT 06901

Meeting Tuesday mornings at 9:30am, starting September 27, 2016. Contact Jessica DellaCamera at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.

St. Mary’s
178 Greenwich Avenue
Greenwich, CT 06830

Meeting Tuesday mornings from 9:30am to 11:30am, beginning September 27, 2016. Contact Jan Jepsen Montana at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.

St. Catherine of Siena
4 Riverside Avenue
Riverside, CT 06878

Meeting Thursday mornings, from 9:30am to 11:30am, starting October 2016. Contact Maria Manos at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.

St. Michael the Archangel
469 North Street
Greenwich, CT 06830

Meeting Tuesday mornings from 9:30am to 11:30am, or Tuesday evenings from 7:00pm-9:00pm, both courses starting September 2016.  Contact Andrea Hickman at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.

Church of The Holy Spirit
403 Scofieldtown Road
Stamford, CT 06903

Meeting Thursday mornings at 9:30 am, or Thursday evenings at 7:00pm. Contact Karen Prichard at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.

St. Joseph’s Church
163 Whisconier Road
Brookfield, CT 06804

Meeting Tuesday evenings at 7:15PM, for six weeks starting September 27 2016, and Wednesday mornings at 9:30AM, for 22 weeks, starting September 28, 2016. Contact Barb Roeder at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.

St. Aloysius
21 Cherry Street
New Canaan, CT 06840

Meeting Tuesday mornings from 9:30am to 11:30am, or Tuesday evenings from 7:00pm to 8:30pm, starting October 4, 2016.  Contact Carol Mahoney at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.

St. Leo
24 Roxbury Road
Stamford, CT  06902

Meeting Thursday evenings at 7:00PM, starting October 13. 2016. Contact Bonnie Tuite at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.

St. Catherine of Siena
220 Shelton Road
Trumbull, CT. 06611

Meeting Monday evenings at 7:00PM or Friday mornings at 10:00AM, starting September 12, 2016.  Contact Maureen Ciardiello at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.

Sacred Heart of Jesus
46 Stone Street
Danbury, CT 06801

Meeting every other Monday evening from 7:00PM to 8:30PM, starting October 3, 2016.  Contact Jaimee Keogler at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.

St. Thomas More
374 Middlesex Road
Darien, CT 06820

Meeting Thursday mornings at 9:30am, or Thursday evenings at 7:30pm. Contact Kelly Frank at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.

St. Mary’s
55 Catoonah Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877

Meeting Thursday evenings at 7:15pm, starting October 6, 2016. Contact Marilyn Kain at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.

St. Rose of Lima
Church Hill Road
Newtown, CT  06470

Meeting Wednesday mornings from 10:00am-11:45am, or Tuesday evenings from 7:00pm-8:30pm, starting September 29, 2016. Contact Kathy Albano at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.

Top Vatican official congratulates Trump, offers prayers
| November 09, 2016 • by Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Congratulating Donald Trump for his victory in the U.S. presidential election, the Vatican secretary of state expressed hope that people would work together "to change the global situation, which is a situation of serious laceration, serious conflict."

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis' top aide, spoke about the election early November 9 during a meeting at Rome's Pontifical Lateran University. The Vatican then released a transcript of his remarks.

"First of all," he said, "we respectfully must take note of the will expressed by the American people in this exercise of democracy that, they tell me, was characterized by a large turnout at the polls."

"We send our best wishes to the new president that his administration may truly be fruitful," the cardinal said. "And we also assure him of our prayers that the Lord would enlighten and sustain him in his service to his country naturally, but also in serving the well-being and peace of the world."

Cardinal Parolin was asked about the polemics that arose earlier in the year between Trump and Pope Francis over the question of immigration, especially concerning the U.S.-Mexico border.

"Let's see how the president acts," Cardinal Parolin said. "Normally, they say, it is one thing to be a candidate and another to be president, to have that responsibility."

"It seems premature to make judgments" until Trump is inaugurated and begins making decisions, Cardinal Parolin said.

During an in-flight news conference February 17 after a trip to Mexico, the pope was asked about his reaction to Trump's proposal that the United States extend a fence along the full length of the border and his comments to Fox Business Network that Pope Francis is a politician and is being used by Mexicans.

"As far as being 'a pawn,'" the pope said, "that's up to you, to the people, to decide."

But one thing Pope Francis said he did know was that "a person who thinks only of building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, isn't Christian."

Asked if a Catholic could vote for such a candidate in good conscience, the pope told reporters: "I'm not going to get mixed up in that. I'll just say, this man is not Christian if he says this" about building walls.

Trinity observes Pink Week
| November 08, 2016


STAMFORD—“Pink Week” was sponsored by the National Honor Society at Trinity Catholic High School. All 34 members of the National Honor Society, both juniors and seniors, were involved in the many events during the week.

Students and teachers could write the names of loved ones touched by cancer on a pink ribbon that was displayed in the lobby. The NHS held bake sales and offered pink shoelaces and bracelets for small donations. Stamford Hospital came to TCHS during the week to give presentations to senior boys and girls about breast cancer and testicular cancer awareness. The week was capped off on Friday when all students wore pink and formed a pink ribbon at a breast cancer awareness rally. All proceeds from the week will be donated to the Bennett Cancer Care Center at Stamford Hospital.

Dr. John Murphy: Healthcare can’t be measured by profits
| November 07, 2016


FAIRFIELD—Health care is not a commodity, it’s a human and social right that is being threatened by over-commercializing the system, said Dr. John Murphy, president and chief executive officer of the Western Connecticut Health Network at the CAPP Business Leaders Breakfast at Fairfield University.

“I am concerned about whether the obsession with profitability will force health care institutions to forget about why they exist and what was behind their founding,” he said to a gathering of 200 business leaders in the Oak Room.  
The annual communion breakfast is sponsored by Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice (CAPP) of Fairfield County and by Fairfield University’s Center for Faith and Public Life.
Dr. Murphy, who continues to maintain a one-day a month patient practice while running the $1.5 billion Western Connecticut healthcare system, said that it’s not possible to create a standard healthcare package that can be commoditized like other products.
He said that treating patients is a “human encounter,” not a product, and that “patients don’t make good consumers.”
“We treat one person at a time and everyone is different,” he said.
Dr. Murphy said that much of what happens to an individual’s health—from a car accident to sudden illness—is often unplanned, leaving people frightened, anxious and vulnerable when they least expect it.
“If you give someone a bad diagnosis, they are hardly listening,” he added, emphasizing that they have little time or ability to shop around.
Dr. Murphy said the need to be profitable and reward shareholders often conflicts with the basic healing mission of advocating for patients and building healthy communities.
“Healthcare is best delivered by a not-for-profit system,” he said. “We should not only be at the patient’s beside but on his side.”
Connecticut’s healthcare system has its origins in the mission of the Catholic Church and others faiths to treat people who are sick, to reach out to the poor and to safeguard human dignity, he said.
Murphy, a Fordham University graduate, said that Danbury Hospital founded in 1881, grew out of work of St. Peter’s Benevolent Aids Society to treat people with typhoid and tuberculosis, which were rampant at the time.
Describing himself as a strong believer in competition and the capitalist system, Dr. Murphy said it is important to check excesses, as more hospitals across the nation join for-profit systems. He added that four Connecticut hospitals are now for-profit entities.
Speaking of his own practice, he noted that what had been a $40 drug to treat children affected by the serious condition of childhood spasms is now $23,000 for the same vial after a big pharmaceutical company, which had nothing to do with its development, bought the rights.
“Communities have unprofitable needs,” he said, adding that there’s “a risk” to the system if everything is measured in investor profits.
The long-time member of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown said his thoughts on the role and mission of healthcare in society were formed by the writings of the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, Archbishop of Chicago.
“The Catholic dimension of healthcare is that it is a continuation of Jesus’s healing ministry and has a sacramental quality,” he said. “It is a ministry of hope grounded in the belief that “God’s love for us is permanent and unchanging.”
Prior to Dr. Murphy’s talk, Robert Nalewajek, President of CAPP_USA presented this year’s CAPP Business Leadership Award to Gail Berardino for her philanthropic work for the American Association of the Knights of Malta.
Before joining the American Association of the Knights of Malta, Berardino had a successful career in management at the McCall Pattern.
Berardino, who is a member of the board Fairfield University’s Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies, said Malta is both a local and global organization to serve the sick and the poor.
She noted that every Malta member in the Diocese of Bridgeport is in one sense a Eucharistic Minister “because they bring the Blessed Sacrament to more than 20 different hospitals and healthcare facilities, while also serving people in prison and Catholic Charities soup kitchens.”
She said she was very proud of Malta’s support for Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem, which delivers more than 3,700 newborns each year and serves as the preferred United Nations Hospital for its four refugee camps.
Those in attendance at the annual communion breakfast began the day in the Egan Chapel when Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, Fr. Jeffrey von Arx and members of the Jesuit Community concelebrated Mass.
“We live in a world where the status quo is not good enough. It is not of the mind of God,” said the Bishop who urged business leaders in attendance to ask themselves if there’s even one policy or practice they can create to  work for change in their own businesses to make the world a better place.
“Too many people have haven fallen through the cracks or been forced into the shadows,” he said, asking them to use Catholic Social Teaching as a guidepost.
“Giving witness in the market place is difficult. It is not often easy to be faithful to the Lord and fulfill your responsibilities,” he said. “It is a question we must all ponder in our vocations and ministries. What is your plan to make change and are you ready to make it?”

Bishop at Consecration Mass: Christ Heals the Human Heart
| November 05, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—More than 1,100 faithful throughout Fairfield County turned today out at St. Augustine Cathedral for the Special Mass to Consecrate the Diocese of Bridgeport to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Click here to watch the Mass

They sang and prayed in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Portuguese and Polish.

They were young and old, residents of the cities and suburbs, individuals and entire families who joined in praise and worship.

More than 50 members of the Diocese Youth Choir filled the historic cathedral with song beginning with “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy,” and concluding with the recessional, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.”

Priests heard an estimated 1,000 confessions in a large white tent set up outside the massive gray granite of the cathedral walls.

Throughout the afternoon people recited the rosary, said the Divine Mercy Chapel, sat for Eucharistic Adoration and offered silent prayer at the outdoor shrine under a crisp, crystalline sky.

“This is a remarkable day of grace and blessing for the Diocese of Bridgeport,” the bishop said in thanking all those who attended.

It was also a day called for by Bishop Caggiano on Saturday, May 19, 2015, at the conclusion of the Synod Celebration Mass when he entrusted the diocese to the protection of the Blessed Mother as it seeks change and renewal.

While 800 filled the Cathedral for the Mass and consecration, more than 350 watched through live streaming in the Kolbe Cathedral High School auditorium.

After kneeling in the Cathedral for the consecration prayer, the bishop quickly processed over to the auditorium where the people greeted him with excited applause. The gathering then knelt on the tile floor at the bishop led them in the prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

“We proclaim today and ever day your full sovereignty over the Diocese of Bridgeport. We consecrate our diocese and our entire lives, actions, trials, joys and sufferings to Your Most Sacred Heart.”

In his homily the bishop said that most of us” live with divided hearts” that only God can heal, and that we are “drawn to false pleasures and promises that get us into trouble.”

He said the consecration Mass gives people the chance “to open our hearts to Jesus and to be healed by Him.

“Now is the time for a mediocre witness of Christ to come to an end. The world is dying for the truth and for a way to Christ. We wrestle with our own hearts when we are not what God wants us to be,” he said.

“This is the day to open your hearts to him, to show him the division that needs to be healed,” he said. “We pray that he sets us on fire with his love and sets the world on fire.”

At the end of Mass, the bishop thanked Msgr. Thomas Powers, Vicar General of the Diocese, for leading the planning and preparation for the diocesan pilgrimage, which included fasting and a nine-day Novena.

The Adoration reflection prior to the Mass was led by Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, a founding member of the Franciscan Friars of Renewal, and a frequent guest on EWTN television.

"We live in difficult and uncertain times. In the world there are threats of violence, terrorism and war In our country. there is political confusion and polarization,” Fr. Apostoli said.

“When we are consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus whether as an individual, a diocese a religious order or nation, the Sacred Heart will bestow his love and graces in abundance.”

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

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

St. Aloysius School Gets Spooky!
| November 04, 2016 • by Ellen McGinness


NEW CANAAN—Almost 200 goblins, ghouls, and ghosts marched in the St Aloysius School Halloween parade on Monday. Honoring the longstanding school tradition, upper school students paired up with their lower school "buddies" to march the little ones down Elm Street in New Canaan.

Eight graders and their second grade buddies held the banner and led the costumed revelers through the town and then back to the school gym for treats afterward. Seen on the street was a giant inflatable T-Rex; teachers dressed as emojis; a wicked witch of the west, Donald Trump; a Roman goddess; and a school of great white sharks. One fourth grader, dressed like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz said, "we love the Halloween parade at our school because when you're the little buddy you get to be with your big buddy all afternoon. My sister is in sixth grade and just got her kindergarten buddy this year so it was their first parade together. I can't wait til I'm a sixth grader too and can walk in the parade with my little buddy—it's so much fun!"

Diocesan "Local" Pilgrimage set for Saturday
| November 04, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—On Saturday, November 5, 1-5 pm, hundreds throughout Fairfield County are expect to join in a local pilgrimage to St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport for a day of prayer and reflection culminating in the  consecration the Diocese of Bridgeport to the Sacred Heart of Jesus  at Mass by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.

This pilgrimage was first announced at the Synod Celebration Mass on September 19, 2015. when thousands of Catholics filled Webster Bank Arena to celebrate the work of the Synod as the foundation for the change and renewal underway in the diocese including initiatives to create more vibrant and welcoming diocesan programs and parish communities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The schedule for the day is as follows:

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

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

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

All are welcome to attend.

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

A Night of Healing and Hope
| November 03, 2016


FAIRFIELD—It was an evening of hope, quiet dignity and courage, even as three adult survivors of priest sexual abuse shared disturbing and unsettling accounts of its impact on their lives and families.

Click to hear Bishop Caggian's reflection

More than 60 friends, family members and others turned out at Egan Chapel of Fairfield University for the service of prayer, music and personal reflection.
“I stand before you as a brother in faith. I am so deeply sorry for the burdens you have carried and for all that has happened to you,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in his opening reflection after reading a passage from the Gospel of John (1:35-39).
Referring to sexual abuse as a “scourge and evil,” the bishop said that it represents a  “betrayal of trust that robbed young people of their innocence and damaged the entire life of the church.”
“Some of those who carried the title of ‘Father’ broke that trust and harmed you in a way that has changed your life forever and the lives of your family,” said the bishop.  
The Healing Service was planned by a group of survivors of priest sexual abuse who worked with the diocese for months as part of the reconciliation process between survivors and the Church.
In between the readings and music, two men and one woman came forward to share their survivor reflections.   “Why me?” all three said they asked themselves as they tried to come to terms with the abuse they suffered.
It was something they couldn’t talk about for years: because they thought they did something to deserve it, because they didn’t think anyone would believe them, because they didn’t want to upset their families.
Jim DiVasto said his abuse began at age 13 after his mother’s death in an accident. He was serving as an altar boy and found solace in many Church activities. When it first happened, he was confused “and I didn’t want to talk about it. It was another secret to keep.”
However, as he entered his teen years, he became an over-achiever who found it difficult to socialize.  In 1998, he sought marriage counseling and came to understand that the abuse “affected every relationship I had. Including with God and the Church.”
DiVasto credited the diocesan Safe Environment Office and meetings with both Bishop Lori and Bishop Caggiano with putting him on the path toward healing.
“They’ve all accompanied me on my journey. Healing is what I have been longing for and tonight makes me very hopeful.”
Peggy Fry said she was 16 and very active in the parish youth group when she experienced abuse.  “I was ashamed and embarrassed,” but continued to practice her faith and she never told anyone but her husband.  
However, as stories of priest sexual abuse began to be reported in the media, she wrote letters to Church officials, both locally and nationally, and “No one responded to my cries for help.”
She said she was grateful for her attorney and a Connecticut Post reporter because they were the first people to believe her when the Church failed to respond.
She thanked her husband and three sons for standing by her and said that the abuse “stole my innocence but not my faith.”
While admitting that she still has “trust issues” related to the Church, Fry said she felt that during the evening “an olive branch has been extended,” and in working with the diocese to plan the event, she sensed genuine remorse on the part of the bishop and others, and “saw the doors of my Church being open and welcoming me back.”
Peter Philipp began his reflection by saying, “The leadership of our church let us down. They decided to protect the institution rather than the People of God. And some still haven’t gotten it right.”
Like the other speakers, he said his healing began when he realized other young people had been abused.
“I used to think it only happened to me, so I never talked about it. Then I realized I was not alone in my experience,” he said.
“Why me? Why didn’t anyone notice?” he asked, noting that he became part of his “own cover-up, not just for a short time but for decades” because he couldn’t talk about what happened to him.
Meeting other survivors and working with the Safe Environment Office has helped him to move forward, said Philipp, who taught and worked as the director of an AIDS Hospice.
“How often do we pray for the sick to be made well! Healing is a gift and we have to accept God’s will,” he said.   “I’m planning to leave her tonight with a renewed sense of hope, risking to love and to be loved.”
In a moving moment after reciting the “Our Father,” the survivors walked into the gathering to share the Sign of Peace with handshakes and embraces for those who had come to support them.
Fr. Jim McDevitt, pastor of St. Agnes Church, led the faithful in the “Litany of Healing.” Music for the service was provided by Michele Schule, organist and Michael Orzechowski, cantor of St. Agnes Parish in Greenwich.
For information concerning healing and victim’s assistance, please call Erin Neil, LCSW, Director of Safe Environment and Victims Assistance Coordinator of the diocese at 203-650-3265 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or contact Michael Tintrup, LCSW, Victims Assistance Counselor at 203.241.0987, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Bishop inspires at All Souls Mass
| November 02, 2016


TRUMBULL—Over 150 people joined Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at Gate of Heaven Cemetery for the First Annual All Souls Day Mass this morning. Beginning this new Diocesan tradition, Bishop Caggiano thanked all who were in attendance, and shared a beautiful homily that moved many to tears.

”Even though we are surrounded by the sings of an impending Winter, we come here to remind ourselves that death does not have the final word,” Bishop said.

Janet Davis, Event Planner for Bishop Caggiano, and the Office of Catholic Cemeteries, organized the Mass.

“The day will come, when God chooses, when every single person will rise from these graves—and the living and the dead will stand before God the Father and come into the Glory of everlasting life,” Bishop Caggiano said, “Which means that this feast of All Souls Day is the festival of hope.”

The entire Mass was stream lived via Facebook Live:

Service of Peace, Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Abuse as Minors by Members of the Clergy and others impacted.
| November 01, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pope offers new Beatitudes for saints of a new age
| November 01, 2016 • by Cindy Wooden of the Catholic News Service from Long Island Catholic


MALMO, Sweden—The saints are blessed because they were faithful and meek and cared for others, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis is accompanied by Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm as he greets the faithful before celebrating Mass at the Swedbank Stadium in Malmo, Sweden, Nov. 1. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

At the end of an ecumenical trip to Sweden, Pope Francis celebrated the feast of All Saints November 1 with a Catholic Mass in a Malmo stadium.

He highlighted the lives of the Swedish saints, Elizabeth Hesselblad and Bridget of Vadstena, who “prayed and worked to create bonds of unity and fellowship between Christians.”

The best description of the saints—in fact, their “identity card”—the pope said, is found in the Beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which begins, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

And, he said, as Christian saints have done throughout the ages, Christ’s followers today are called “to confront the troubles and anxieties of our age with the spirit and love of Jesus.”

New situations require new energy and a new commitment, he said, and then he offered a new list of Beatitudes for modern Christians:

  • ”Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others and forgive them from their heart.
  • ”Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized and show them their closeness.
  • ”Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him.
  • ”Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home.
  • ”Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others.
  • ”Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians.”

“All these are messengers of God’s mercy and tenderness,” Pope Francis said. “Surely they will receive from him their merited reward.”

Registered Catholics in Sweden number about 115,000—just over 1 percent of the population. But with recent waves of immigration, especially from Chaldean Catholic communities in Iraq, local church officials believe the number of Catholics is double the reported figure.

Reflecting the multicultural makeup of the Catholic Church in Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia, the prayer intentions at Mass were read in Spanish, Arabic, English, German and Polish, as well as in Swedish.

Diocesan Outdoor Mass for All Souls Day
| October 31, 2016


TRUMBULL—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will celebrate an outdoor Mass on All Souls Day, Wednesday, November 2, 11 am at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, 1056, Daniels Farm Road in Trumbull.

The Mass will be offered for all the faithful departed souls in the diocese. It is open to the public and will take place rain or shine. A tent will be provided in the case of inclement weather.

“It is my hope that this special Mass will be celebrated every year and become a new tradition in the Diocese of Bridgeport,” said Bishop Caggiano, noting that plans call for the Mass to a different diocesan cemetery each year.
The bishop said that at the Mass he will remember in a special way, all deceased bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated men and women and lay faithful. Traditionally Catholics visit cemeteries on All Souls Day to remember the dead and pray for their souls.
The diocese sponsors nine cemeteries around Fairfield County. For information on Catholic Cemeteries call 203.416.1494.

Catholic Schools Develop Strong Community
| October 28, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Every other week, students at St. Ann Academy in Bridgeport can be found engaging in team-bonding games and drills. This exercise is part of a new positive climate initiative that St. Ann has kicked off this year.

Wingman is the name of the program, created in 2015 by Ian Hockley and driven by the death of his six year old son at Sandy Hook, Dylan Hockley.

The primary goal of the initiative is to recognize children for their unique and individual strengths, improving self-image and self-confidence while strengthening camaraderie and developing a stronger community. Ian Hockley feels, “A key strength of the Wingman program is that the students have full ownership of the program content and delivery.” Student leaders at St. Ann Academy, who call themselves the “Wings of Light,” began their student training last May to pave the way for their school-wide program launch this month.

The Wings of Light chose acceptance, compassion, perseverance, and empathy as the values of focus. Butterflies and a lighthouse were selected as symbols to represent their project. Mrs. Patricia Griffin, St. Ann Principal, explains, “Butterflies represent change and the lighthouse embodies a guiding light to safety.”

The Wings of Light unveiled Wingman in their own words to an assembly of 180 students. Student leaders, Nancy Ortiz and Mairead Siemer, stated, "We joined Wingman to bring a positive change to St. Ann. Wingman should be a way of life. We should live by the philosophy of always being inclusive of everyone, and being able to work as a team with any age group. Remember - we may be the Wingman leaders, but you are all part of the Wingman program."

Following the assembly, students began their journey of building a stronger school community. Students engaged in team and trust building activities appropriate for each grade. Ian Hockley was present for the kick-off meeting and recalls, “The next 90 minutes were full of laughter and cheering. At the end, everyone threw themselves wholeheartedly into a cheer, probably heard right across the Blackrock neighborhood. I look forward to visiting St. Ann Academy in November as the program gets into full swing. This is an amazing group of young people that will surely change the world.”

Afterwards, Mrs. Griffin reflected on the day, "Wingman has made a difference in all. It is amazing to me how in a very short time a community can be fully engaged and committed to a shared vision."

St. Ann Academy is one of the four campuses of Catholic Academy of Bridgeport and serves students in grades Pre-K to Grade 8.

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

Students participate in food drives
| October 28, 2016 • by Pat Hennessy


STAMFORD—“Our food bank is very low—we need your help.” Janie Jennings, who heads the Deacons’ Wives Ministry in the Stamford area, received that plea from St. Joseph Parenting Center in Stamford. The email went on to list the food items desperately needed, from cereal and soup to baby food.

Jennings husband, Deacon Paul Jennings, is assigned to Holy Spirit Parish in Stamford. The wives of deacons in the Diocese of Bridgeport were already actively involved in ministries throughout the diocese when they decided to organize more formally for fellowship and ministry. With the blessing of Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, DW Ministry, Inc., was formally incorporated as a charitable organization on June 1, 2015.

They decided to meet monthly in each of the three areas of the irregular geographic triangle that makes up Fairfield County and to plan the social outreach most needed in their own communities. “When we all got together, we picked outreach to food pantries as our main focus,” says Ilene Ianniello, whose husband Dan is a deacon at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Fairfield. “Women in each area decided the program that could most use their help, like St. Joseph’s Parenting Center in the Stamford area, because they knew the local situation best.”

In order to assist local food pantries, DW ministries decided to enlist the participation of students in religious education and Catholic elementary schools. Ianniello spoke to Rose TalbotBabey, coordinator of childhood fatih formation in the diocesan Faith Formation Office, and Dr. Steven Cheeseman, superintendent of Catholic schools. Both gave their enthusiastic support.

“When we are instructing our children and their families in the faith, it’s always important to give them practical and ‘hands-on’ initiatives to bring the point home and help them become true disciples of Christ,” says Talbot-Babey. “The food collection with the Deacon’s Wives Ministries does just that. They experience what it means to serve Christ by serving the poor and less fortunate.”

“One of our missions at DW Ministries is to bring awareness to adults as well as children that one of the mandates of the Church is to feed the poor,” adds Ianniello.

She points as an example to Holy Spirit Parish in Stamford. Last year, at the conclusion of their food drive, each child in the religious education program brought a perishable food item to the altar during the offertory procession. Not only the children and their parents but the entire congregation was given concrete witness to the importance of Christian outreach.

DW Ministries is already speaking to directors of religious education, catechists, and Catholic school teachers to help them incorporate support for the poor into their religion classes. “This is one of our missions,” says Ianniello. “This is what we do as a Church.”

Honors, Laughs, and Even Some Tears
| October 27, 2016


St. Matthew Knights of Columbus host 5th Annual Columbus Day Macaroni Dinner

NORWALK—On Saturday, October 22 the Knights of Columbus St. Matthew Council 14360 held its 5th Annual Columbus Day Macaroni Dinner in St. Matthew Parish’s Masterpool Great Room.

Over 180 friends and family enjoyed a fine Italian meal to honor those recognized for their accomplishments during the past 2015-2016 fraternal year.

Among those honored were Deputy Grand Knight Anthony Armentano with the Council Knight of the Year Award, the Cossuto Family for Council Family of the Year and the Mitchell Family for Parish Family of the Year. "Brother Anthony was a big part of helping me run the council and I appreciate all he has done. The Cossuto and Mitchell families are great families of faith and charity and do it with a quiet dignity," said Immediate Past Grand Knight George Ribellino, Jr.

Among the awards were also a few tributes that brought smiles and tears. The Council Appreciation Award was given to Past Faithful Navigator Ed McGettigan, who passed away suddenly on July 6. To honor his memory, Past Grand Knight George Ribellino presented the award to Ed’s wife Cathy, and from here on out the award will be named in Ed’s name going forward.

"It was truly an honor to recognize those who make a difference in our parish and community. The 2015-2016 fraternal year was my last year as Grand Knight and I always said one of my biggest joys as Grand Knight was awarding those who help make an impact on our parish and community," said Ribellino. Ed McGettigan was a member of the council since 2009 and helped start the council's scholarship fund and sponsored many fundraising events. Ribellino went on to say, “Brother Ed helped give us the tools to plant seeds that will continue to grow for years to come."

In addition, Grand Knight Scott Criscuolo honored council supporter and St. Matthew parishioner Joan Scribner, who passed away on October 9. Criscuolo wore the official maroon winter jacket that St. Matthew ushers wore at the dinner, of which both Criscuolo and Scribner were ushers. “She saved me when I was asked to be lead usher for Christmas Eve 4pm mass in 2010”, Criscuolo recalled. “I was a ball of nerves and Joan came and relaxed me. That’s how she was, full of confidence and faith.”

The council started to award members of the council with yearly awards back in 2012. It has become a council tradition. “It was a wonderful night to honor those who rolled up their sleeves and did good work for St. Matthew and for our community”, said Grand Knight Scott Criscuolo, who won Knight of the Year in 2014.

Lastly, the council raised around $2,000 to the council charitable fund which will help St. Matthew parish, Al's Angels, Homes for the Brave, Malta House, All Saints Catholic School and Notre Dame Convalescent Home. Also, around 500 pounds of food was collected for the St. Matthew food pantry from the guests attending the dinner. Any guest which brought a bag of food was entered into a door prize raffle to win an Italian themed basket made and donated by Brother Joe Giandurco's wife Alice.

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

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

Frontier Communications and Sacred Heart University Celebrate Successful Launch of “Vantage Sports Network”
| October 27, 2016


NEW HAVEN—Frontier Communications and Sacred Heart University (SHU) this week celebrated the successful launch of Vantage Sports Network (VSN-CT), a new all-local channel dedicated to bringing viewers year-round coverage of Connecticut’s high school, collegiate and youth sports.

The channel, exclusive to Frontier’s Vantage TV™ customers, broadcasts live games from across the state and features a nightly live highlights show called CT Sports NOW. Content and programming is being developed by Noah Finz, former WTNH Sports Director and owner of Finz Creative Programming.

“Vantage Sports Network is a great example of Frontier Communications’ commitment to providing our customers with a superior entertainment experience,” said Paul Quick, SVP and General Manager for Frontier’s Connecticut Operations. “This channel not only allows people to catch their favorite local games, but it allows us to continue our community, athletic and academic partnerships—something that is very important to us and the customers we serve.”
Frontier and VSN-CT have also partnered with Sacred Heart University, which serves as the official home of the VSN-CT studio (located inside SHU’s state-of-the art TV studios at the Frank and Marisa Martire Business & Communications Center). This partnership also involves two full-time SHU graduate students and approximately a dozen undergraduates who work and volunteer with VSN-CT doing field producing, editing, directing and control room management.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for students interested in working the sports broadcasting industry to gain valuable, hands-on involvement that will allow them to enter the job market with solid, relevant experience on their resumes,” said Noah Finz. “I’ve been working with these students day-in and day-out for the past few weeks, and I am extraordinarily impressed with their hard work, dedication and enthusiasm for making VSN-CT a top-notch production.”
Wednesday’s launch event was attended by students, faculty and staff from SHU, including Executive Director of Athletics Bobby Valentine, Frontier leadership, including President & CEO Daniel McCarthy, and special guests Congressman Jim Himes, State Senator Tony Hwang, State Representative Cristin McCarthy-Vahey, State Representative Laura Devlin, State Representative Dave Rutigliano, Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau and George Norfleet from the Department of Economic Development. The pep-rally style event was also supported by SHU’s cheerleading squad and the students who work at VSN-CT, who were recognized during the event and provided tours of the studio to interested guests. The crowd also included dozens of athletic directors and coaches from colleges and school systems across the state and representatives from Frontier’s many athletic-related partnerships .
“With its state-of the-art facilities, professionally trained faculty and dynamic internship possibilities, Sacred Heart University provides its sports media students with an excellent academic foundation. Building on this tradition, we are very excited about our partnership with Frontier Communications and the Vantage Sports Network,” said Andrew Miller, associate professor of communication and media studies at SHU. “It is a tremendous opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Communication and Media Arts to get hands-on experience producing a professional sports show. If you want to go into the sports media field, there isn’t a school that’s better located than Sacred Heart University.”
Current Vantage TV customers can watch VSN-CT on channels 600 or 1600 (HD). Prospective customers looking for information on Vantage TV should visit

Regina Pacis Classical Catholic Academy thrives


NORWALK—On September 8, the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, Regina Pacis Academy (RPA) opened its doors to welcome families to its 12th academic year.

A classical approach to education combined with a low
student-teacher ratio embodies the philosophy of Regina
Pacis Academy. Located on the grounds of St. Mary Parish
in Norwalk, the K-8 academy draws families from several towns
in Fairfield County.

The academy provides a classical curriculum to K-8 boys and girls in a wholesome Catholic environment at a reasonable cost for all.

As its Latin name attests, Regina Pacis Academy entrusts itself to the Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady, Queen of Peace.

“Our classical approach and our low student-to-teacher ratios differentiate us from other schools in the area,” said the principal, Barbara Logsdail. “The children respond very well because our method fosters a love for learning by appealing to their natural intellectual curiosity and by building their self-esteem. We seek to provide children with the necessary tools for learning by developing a sense of wonder and love for all that is true, good and beautiful.”

The classical curriculum at RPA is directed toward the formation of the whole person—spiritually, intellectually, morally, socially and physically. Its goal is to form in the student the ability to learn new material. Instead of teaching what to think, students are taught how to think. Grounded in the trivium comprised of grammar, logic and rhetoric, RPA prepares students to enter high school by offering a full curriculum. This includes: theology; math through algebra I; English grammar and composition; history divided into four periods (the ancients, the medieval period through the Renaissance, the early modern era, modern times); science; Latin; art; music; drama; poetry; and physical education.

The teachers at RPA are the builders of this classical formation. “Our teachers are all practicing Catholics who are committed to pursuing our goals with excellence,” said Principal Logsdail.

RPA is located on the campus of St. Mary Parish on West Ave. “The close proximity of the school to the church makes it convenient for the students and faculty to frequently participate in the sacraments,” said Father Richard Cipolla, pastor of St. Mary’s. “That includes weekly Mass, Adoration and Rosary and monthly confessions. Families and staff are also encouraged to attend the daily 8 am Mass before school whenever possible. Many of the boys serve at daily Mass.”

The classrooms and other facilities have been renovated over the past few years to create a welcoming and safe atmosphere, and the school also makes use of the gym and outdoor play areas.

“We’re grateful to Father Cipolla and the Bridgeport Diocese for the use of the premises,” said Fran Schanne, chair of the Board of Trustees, “and we’re pleased to be able to contribute to the gradual renovation of the overall facility. The arrangement benefits both the parish and the school and fosters a peaceful, thriving environment. Since we moved to St. Mary’s campus two years ago the building has provided a capacity that we did not previously have. We now have the ability to grow.”

The school draws families from a variety of cultural heritages, and from several different towns in Fairfield County. “Some of our families drive long distances to get to school every day,” said Sharon Marchetti, chair of the Seton Society, the school’s parent organization. “So it’s important to build a strong community by providing parents the opportunity to actively participate in the life and growth of our school through service.”

Regina Pacis Academy will host its main annual “Fall Gala” fundraiser on Saturday, December 10 at the Norwalk Shore and Country Club. “We’re committed to keeping tuition levels affordable for all,” said Michael Duchon, a parent and chair of the school’s Fall Gala committee. “It’s a real team effort with all our families pitching in to make the evening a great success.”

(For more information, visit or call 203.642.4501. Anyone interested in attending or sponsoring the Fall Gala can contact Michael Duchon: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 914.954.4000.)

St. Mark School goes pink!
| October 25, 2016


STRATFORD—St. Mark School recently hosted their annual school-wide Breast Cancer Awareness Cut-A-Thon.

The elementary school invited stylists from Jade Salon in Stratford to set up a mini hair salon in the school gym. The school community dressed in pink and rallied together in the fight against cancer.

Faculty and classmates cheered in support as ten boys shaved their heads and four girls had their hair cut and donated to make wigs for women and children with medical hair loss. In addition, 35 girls purchased pink synthetic hair extensions.

Students raised $2,464 in pledges and donations for the Elizabeth Pfriem SWIM Center for Cancer Care at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Bridgeport. Lyn McCarthy, executive director of the foundation, attended the Cut-A-Thon to show her gratitude to the school community. She remarked, “Each year I look forward to getting the invitation to the St. Mark Cut-A-Thon. It is so inspiring to witness children making a real difference against cancer!”

Students were excited to see two pink cars parked in front of the school. A pink Maserati from the Westport Police Department and a pink SUV from Fairfield Police Department showed up at St. Mark School to support the breast cancer awareness event.

Spirits shifted as Leslie Orendorf, the reading specialist at St. Mark’s, took center stage. She revealed to students her story as a breast cancer survivor and shared how the Prfiem Foundation assisted her family during a difficult time. Donna Wuhrer, St. Mark’s principal, commented, “I think hearing Mrs. Orendorf’s personal survival story with cancer resonated with the students and truly awakened them to the reality of the illness.”

This year marks the seventh annual school Cut-A-Thon. In 2009, St. Mark School earned the National Blue Ribbon of Excellence Award from the U.S. Department of Education. Every year following, the school has turned their blue ribbons pink in October, in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Reverend Louis Dytkowski
| October 25, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Rev. Louis M. Dytkowski, son of the late Frank and Julia Dytkowski, retired priest and Chaplain, LTC, U.S. Army, passed away Saturday, October 22, at St Vincent's Hospital, after a long illness. Father Lou was born August 25, 1934 and raised in the Hazelton/McAdoo area of PA. He attended college and seminary in Orchard Lake, Michigan and was ordained a Catholic Priest for the Diocese of Bridgeport in 1960.

He was a curate at St. Catherine of Sienna Parish in Riverside and Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Stamford before joining the Army as a Chaplain in 1967. After basic training, he served in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive. Other overseas assignments included Korea, Okinawa, AFCENT in the Netherlands, and a community chaplain in Germany. Stateside assignments were Ft. Belvoir Virginia, Ft. Sheridan, Illinois, The Tank Automotive Command, Warren, Michigan and Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. Medals and awards include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal and several presidential Unit Citations. He retired from the Army in 1992.

Father Lou returned to the Diocese of Bridgeport serving at St. Rose of Lima Church, Newtown, Holy Cross Church, Fairfield, St. James Church, Stratford and then as Pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Sherman before retiring to Florida in 2008. He helped out at Blessed Sacrament Church in Clermont, FL and also ministered at the prison and in nursing homes. Summers would be spent in CT where he resided at St. James Rectory.
His favorite pastimes were spending time with his treasured family and friends. He also loved music, playing the piano, accordion, singing and hopefully a good round of golf and gin rummy.

Father Lou is survived by his sisters, Frances Sudusky of Milford and Patricia Gerety and husband Gene of Seymour; his best friend of 22 years, Suzanne Lehmann; and several nieces, nephews and cousins, along with countless close friends who were like his family over the years.

A special Thank You to Father Tom Lynch of St. James Church for his wonderful friendship, hospitality and care especially over the last 6 months and also to Father Rogerio Perri.

Visitation will be on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 from 4 to 8 pm at the Pistey Funeral Home, 2155 Main Street, Stratford. Friends are invited to attend the funeral on Thursday, October 27, 2016 at 9:30 am at the funeral home and at 10:30 am at St. James Church with a Mass of Christian Burial officiated by Reverend Monsignor Thomas Powers, Vicar General of the Diocese of Bridgeport, officiating. Interment will follow at St. Michael Cemetery, Stratford. Please visit to express condolences online.

Click here for the obituary in the CT Post.

Bishop in the Holy Land
| October 23, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—During the past week Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has joined nearly 80 others on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. They have been walking in the footsteps of Our Lord Jesus, from the place of His birth, to the sites where he preached and ministered, to the most sacred places of His Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven.

In the coming days, The Bishop has shared some of the following pictures and reflections so that others may share in this remarkable journey of faith. He is remembering the intention of all pilgrims in the Masses he has said in the Holy Land.

"Let us pray for peace in that troubled land, for the renewal of our Church, especially in the United States and for a deepening personal relationship with the Lord and His Church for ourselves and all Christians,” he said. For more on the Bishop’s pilgrimage, visit him on Facebook: Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.



After nearly 17 hours of travel, our pilgrimage finally arrived at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. All 76 pilgrims are grateful that we arrived safely in the Holy Land.

We immediately traveled to the Shrine of Saint Peter in Jaffa. This is the site where Saint Peter received his vision at the hand of an angel, showing him foods that were considered at the time unclean and being invited to partake of them. It is also the city where Peter baptized Cornelius and his family into the Church- the first non-Jews to become disciples of the Lord Jesus.

In my homily, I asked my fellow pilgrims to consider the first words that Jesus spoke in the Gospel of Saint John: "What are you looking for?" Our homework for this first night is to reflect upon that question and express to ourselves what it is that we are looking for from the Lord.

Even more importantly, following what happened to Saint Peter in this city, I also asked each pilgrim to ask another question: what is it that the Lord Jesus may wish to do for each of us? Perhaps something unforeseen or beyond what makes us comfortable?

If that which the Lord wishes to do in our own lives is anything like the events that Peter faced in this city, it will surprise us all.

I am continuing to pray for all the intentions you have shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!


We began our day visiting the city of Caesarea, built by King Herod to be a sea port in an area where there was no natural port. By its sheer size and scope, it was truly an engineering marvel, even though it was a city that was considered pagan by the Jews of his time.

Our second site was a visit to the top of Mount Carmel and the Shrine to Our Lady under the title of Stella Maris, the “Star of the Sea”. Mount Carmel begins its long history dating back to the ministry of Elijah the prophet. The current church is built over the cave where Elijah prayed for an end to the long drought that afflicted Israel because of its sinfulness. We were privileged to enter into the cave and pray. Elijah was also the prophet who killed the false prophets of Baal, displayed an authentic zeal of faith and inspired Christians who came to that mountain to seek an authentic life of contemplation and communion with Our Lord through the intercession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The Carmelite order’s spiritual home in on this mountain.

Our last visit was to the Church constructed in Cana to commemorate the first great sign (miracle) that Jesus performed at the bequest of his mother, turning water into wine at the local wedding feast. We were even privileged to see the only remaining water jar that once held the transformed wine. It was a powerful moment of grace, reminding ourselves of Christ’s promise that we will be invited into the messianic banquet of heaven, if we remain faithful to Him. I was also privileged to bless all the married couples who were in attendance at Mass, given the special place that a wedding feast had in Jesus’ ministry in Cana.

We are ending our day overlooking Nazareth, with the sun setting over the mountain, as a quite reminder of the graces that await us all tomorrow.


We spent our morning at the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, celebrating Mass, sharing a lunch at the Franciscan Casa Nostra Hospitality Center and venerating the grotto in which the Lord was born. The grotto is actually part of what was once a larger cave that is located directly below the main sanctuary of the Basilica. Adjacent to that sacred spot, now marked with a star, is also the place where tradition holds Mary placed the infant Jesus in the manger. In our modern world where human life is not respected in so many ways, especially with the scourge and sin of abortion, the Basilica of the Nativity is a powerful reminder of the power that one life had on the entire human race- the life of the Son of God born into the world through the Virgin Mary. Every human life matters! Every human life must be respected and accorded its proper dignity and protection!

After a brief car ride, we visited the birth place of Saint John the Baptist and the traditional home of Saint Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s life and the life of our Lady were intimately connected, no solely because they were related by family. More importantly, the lives of their respective sons, who first met at the moment of the Visitation when they were still being carried in their respective mother’s wombs, were intimately linked. John was the last and greatest prophet of the Old Covenant, serving as the Messiah’s precursor. His ministry was to point to Jesus as the Messiah, God made man and Savior of the world.

As I departed from the Church of the Visitation, the words that kept echoing in my mind and heart were those spoken by John at the end of his ministry. As John pointed to Jesus, he said “I must decrease and He must increase.” I pray that this pilgrimage will help me to live those words more authentically each day.


Today we began our pilgrimage around the Sea of Galilee- the place where Jesus spent a great deal of his ministry of teaching and preaching. What a wonderful experience of grace for each of us!

We began the day traveling by boat over the Sea of Galilee, spending time in its center in quiet prayer and reflection. With its surrounding hills that are filled with villages bustling with activity and fishermen in the distance, our quiet time reminded me of the powerful need to find a “spiritual still point” in each of our lives, where we can step away from the activities around us and sit with the Lord in quiet. To think that the Lord Jesus walked upon those waters and stilled the storm in a boat very similar to the one that we were sitting within provided an awesome experience of the Lord’s closeness to each of us, in both good and bad times in life.

We moved on to the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves which houses the very rock upon which the Lord blessed and shared the five loaves and two fish that fed 5,000 men! The rock sits in quiet testimony to the power of the Savior whose love meets us in our hunger and thirst for both the food of this world and the food of everlasting life.

Our pilgrimage next took us to the Church of the Primacy of Peter by the Sea of Galilee. Many of the pilgrims took the opportunity to walk into the waters of the Sea, following in the footsteps of the Risen Lord who appeared at that same site to the apostles, inviting them to share breakfast with Him. The rock that the Lord used as his “table” sits in the very center of that church. This is also the site where the Lord asked Peter three times whether he loved the Lord. Peter’s threefold answer untied the knots of his threefold betrayal of the Lord on the night before He died.

It is said that the Holy Land is the “Fifth Gospel” that brings the pages of Scripture to life. Today I experienced this with awe and gratitude.

A Joyous Week Around the Diocese
| October 21, 2016


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

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

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


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

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

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

To register teams or for sponsorship information contact Katie O’Leary at 203.336.4468 or at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The registration form can also be found on the Cardinal Shehan Center website at


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


Click here for the registration form

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Immaculate High School Scholarship Fundraiser Breakfast
| October 19, 2016


DANBURY—Sister Clare Fitzgerald, SSND was the keynote speaker at Immaculate High School's first Annual Scholarship Breakfast.

She shared her experiences of visiting and working with Catholic school students of all ages and locations, the need for kindness and justice more than ever in today's world.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reversing the mission
| October 18, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

Click here for brochure

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


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

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

Painting for a Purpose
| October 18, 2016


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

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

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

The vision for Malta House a 501 C3 Non-profit began in 1995, when Michael O’Rourke learned there was no room for many homeless pregnant women and their newborns. The young families often found themselves on the street or living in sub-standard conditions. Malta House was conceived not only to offer food and shelter, but also to give hope for the future. They provide a nurturing home environment, support service. See for more information.

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

Saluting' Mothers of the Parish
| October 18, 2016


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

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

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

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

2016 Saint Augustine Medal Recipients
| October 15, 2016


2016 Saint Augustine Medal Recipients:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Click for a complete list of the 2016 recipients

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Click here to watch the video.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St Augustine Medal Ceremony this Weekend
| October 12, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Watch: Bishop Caggiano speak at the opening

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- - -

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Click here for ticket information

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Week of Prayer and Service
| September 30, 2016


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on diocesan schools visit

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michelle Smith named coordinator of CSC
| September 23, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Knights bring comfort with their donation
| September 23, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

For more info on Malta House, go to

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Led black church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inner-city bishop

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for the original CT Post story

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catholic Girl Scouts serve others
| September 19, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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


A diocesan journey of faith
| September 19, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The schedule for the day is as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All are welcome to attend.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Greenwich Police Department

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

Norwalk Police Department

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

Fairfield Police Department

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

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

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

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

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

Watch: Special Report: Blue Mass For First Responders

Read: Bishop Caggiano's reflection

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The goals of the Knights of Columbus Council at Saint Matthew Church in Norwalk is to perform acts of charity. Pr4oviding those in need with a range of support from financial to tactical help in dealing with a wide variety of challenges. Council members work together to foster the founding principles of our order; Charity, Unity, Fraternity & Patriotism. Our goal as a council is to continue to identify specific needs in our community and muster support and help to alleviate these challenges and hardships to the best of our abilities and resources. For more information, please go to

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

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Week in Review
| September 09, 2016


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

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

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

Lemonade stand donation
| September 09, 2016


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

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

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

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