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A morning of joy and celebration
| September 19, 2015


Also: Click to read CT Post account of Synod Celebration Mass

BRIDGEPORT – (September 19)-- The Catholic Church affirmed its presence in Fairfield County in a resounding way this morning as 8,000 Catholics gathered at Webster Bank Arena for the Synod Celebration Mass.

“The best years of the Catholic Church in Fairfield County are not behind us, they are ahead of us,” the Bishop said. “We come here in hope to bring love and renewal to the Church.”

The changes signed into decrees by Bishop Caggiano at the end of the Mass are expected to transform the life of the local church at every level, from the way it teaches the faith to the young to the quality of its liturgy and music, the future of Catholic schools, the vitality of its parishes, and continuing education for its priests.

With a 300 member adult-choir and the music of many ethnic choirs throughout the diocese, the morning took on a festive and joyous note as people clapped their hands, sang along and applauded enthusiastically.

At times, the morning also felt like a large family gathering because so many of those in attendance knew one-another from parish and diocesan events.

It was a day when the full diversity of the diocese was on display in the many choirs that sang throughout the Mass including Vietnamese, Spanish, Haitian, Brazilian, and Gospel.

Marie Yves Bathelmy read the First Reading in Creole, and Heloisa Medeiros read the Second Reading in Portuguese.

The Mass was the largest gathering of Catholics in the diocese in decades as people came together to celebrate the work of the Synod and its plan for the future of the diocese.

The day began when 700 young people joined Bishop Caggiano in a procession from the door of St. Augustine Cathedral to Webster Bank Arena.

Members of the Neo-catechumenate community of the diocese played music, sang and danced in the joyous procession to the arena, while seminarians from the diocese wheeled a statue of the Blessed Virgin through the streets.

More than 600 priests, deacons and religious in the diocese were also in attendance.

The Bishop received warm applause when he entered the arena, and that appreciation grew into a prolonged standing ovation at the end of Mass.

Today’s celebration coincided with the second anniversary of his Installation as Fifth Bishop of Bridgeport last September 19, at St. Theresa Church in Trumbull. It is also the birthday of his late mother.

“What a great blessing to be united as one great diocesan family of faith,” the bishop said as he greeted guests from the altar at the beginning of his homily.

This Bishop said all journeys begin by taking the first step, and he asked all those in attendance to walk along with him as he seeks to renew the Church in the diocese.

“Each day we walk by faith, not solely by sight,” the Bishop said, acknowledging the spiritual hunger that brought so many people to the arena on a beautiful Saturday morning.

“When we leave here today, we take the next step into renewal of our church. We are not here to end anything, but to begin the next chapter in the life of the diocese,” he said.

In his remarks, the bishop acknowledged that the synod grew out of the many challenges facing the Church including the fact that many Catholic feel disaffected and no longer worship in parishes, because “at times, what they seek they cannot find.”

The Bishop said the diocese and its institutions have more work to do to become more welcoming, to evangelize, to serve all people regardless of their faith, and to empower “the young Church in our midst.”

While the Synod discerned serious challenges over the past year and a half, the Bishop said that the Synod Mass was more than anything a time of joy and celebration of “the great enduring gift of hope that brings us together.”

At one point in his homily, the Bishop directly addressed many of the different groups who had assembled. To priests and religious he said, “It has been given to us to lead this great Church into renewal, to walk in personal holiness, and to always serve, not to be served.”

He challenged families throughout Fairfield County to “become the domestic Church.” He asked the young people to “take the next step and be courageous disciples of Christ because the rest of the Church will help you achieve greatness.”

He asked the various faith communities and spiritual movements in the diocese to “renew your hearts with joy, open your doors in welcome and celebrate the faith.”

Finally, he urged those in attendance to tell the disaffected, suffering and neglected that “we welcome them, we love them and will serve them every step of the way.”

Noting that the Mass was held in Bridgeport, the Bishop reminded everyone that the diocese is named for Bridgeport, the largest city in the county, and the location of a lighthouse that has stood at Black Rock Harbor since 1808.

“The light has always brought people to safety, because they follow it in darkness. Today we gather to see the Light of Christ in our midst, a light we need now more than ever.”

The Bishop also called people’s attention to a ten-foot tall lighthouse at the back of the arena, made from canned and box goods that will be donated to area food pantries. The youth collected more than 10,000 items to construct the lighthouse and deliver to food programs.

The Mass represented the closing celebration of the 18-month Synod process in which Bishop Frank Caggiano and 360 delegates created a plan for the future of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Bishop Caggiano formally kicked off the Synod, which is an assembly of church and lay leaders, in February 2014 to develop a plan for the future of the Catholic Church in Fairfield County.

Synod themes developed after diocesan wide listening sessions include engaging and inspiring the young church, welcoming people back, integrating new arrivals, deepening the faith of practicing Catholics, and creating faithful and love-filled parish communities.

Two major programs include the development of a Catholic Service Corps that will offer young people opportunities to serve and the creation of a Catholic Leadership Institute to foster formation and support for church leaders, including clergy, religious and laity.

Two other programs are already under way: The newly formed 78-member Diocesan Youth Choir, which made its debut today at the Celebration Mass, and the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, which has dispersed more than $2 million in scholarships to families who need help to send their children to Catholic schools.

At the end of Mass, Bishop Caggiano formally dedicated the diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the entire assemblage joined in a Hymn to Mary.

Patrick Turner, Deputy Synod Director, came forward to thank all those who helped the day a success including the Bridgeport Police Department and the officers who volunteered their time to provide public safety and traffic control.

Major relics of saint to visit Trumbull on Tuesday in only state stop
| October 06, 2015 • by By Fausto Giovanny Pinto, CT Post


TRUMBULL—More than 50 stops across 16 states in three months—a hectic tour schedule.

So many fans have flocked to her East Coast tour, the first in the United States, that plans are now in the works for a West Coast tour.

Click here to read the original Connecticut Post story.

The relics of St. Maria Goretti is coming to St. Theresa Church in Trumbull
Tuesday as part of a U.S. tour, “The Pilgrimage of Mercy: the Tour of the Major.”
The relic is the preserved body of the saint, who died in 1902. St. Maria is universally
known as the Patroness of Purity, and her greatest virtue was her unyielding
forgiveness of her attacker even in the midst of horrendous physical suffering,
a forgiveness that would completely convert him and set him on a path to personal holiness.

Photo: Pilgrimage Of Mercy / Contributed

The hottest religious icon to visit the U.S. this year after Pope Francis is headed to Trumbull this week. But the first thing you should know: She has been dead for more than 100 years. What people will see is a glass-enclosed wax statue that contains nearly all her bones.

The major relics of St. Maria Goretti, the Patroness of Mercy, will be available for public venernation, or honoring, at St. Theresa Church in Trumbull on Tuesday, the only stop in Connecticut.

“It’s a generous gift from God for us to host her,” said the Rev. Brian P. Gannon. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

St. Maria Goretti, the youngest canonized saint in the Catholic Church, was born into poverty and was killed July 6, 1902, at the age of 11, after being stabbed 14 times during an attempted rape.

On her deathbed she forgive her 20-year-old attacker who years later recalled seeing an apparition of his victim. “I forgive Alessandro Serenelli … and I want him with me in heaven forever,” she said.

More than 50 years later, she was declared a saint by Pope Pius XII. Her body was exhumed and remains placed in a wax statue that today can be viewed in a glass case.

There are similarly viewable saints throughout the U.S., such as St. John Neuman in Philadelphia and Mother Cabrini in Manhattan.

This is the first time the relics have been to the United States and only the second time they have left Italy. The tour is to mark the coming Year of Mercy, announced by Pope Francis.

“So many people are looking for healing today,” Gannon said. “Forgiveness is essential to healing.”

The church plans a viewing of the relics from 10 a.m. to 11:25 p.m., with a special Mass at 7 p.m. The church is expecting such a high turnout for the event that 100 parishioners have volunteered to help throughout the day with logistics.

One of those parishioners is Mara-Helena Fisher. She plans to bring a white cloth to the viewing to rub on the glass, which she will then cut into ribbons and send to family in Brazil.

“I have a niece in intensive care in Brazil and a few relatives on drugs,” said the 63-year-old Trumbull resident. “I will ask St. Goretti for prayers.”

The Rev. Carlos Martins, director of Treasures of the Church, will accompany the wax body and speak on the major relic. Martins had previously visited the Trumbull church with a host of relics, including pieces of saints’ bodies and even a splinter from the crucifixion cross of Jesus.

Trumbull resident John Connaughton is excited to see the relic on Tuesday at the only parish in the state hosting the saint.

“Her story is so compelling,” said Connaughton. “There is so much violence and hatred in this country, and she shows it is possible to forgive.”

Catholic Underground this Saturday
| October 06, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Catholic Underground is coming to the Diocese of Bridgeport beginning in October. Its reverent mix of Eucharistic adoration, art and music has attracted a diverse following and helped draw believers of all ages into the life of the Church.

It is a cultural apostolate of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (C.F.R.).

The first Catholic Underground in this diocese, presented by the Sacred Beauty Project, is set for Saturday, October 10, from 7:30 to 10 pm at St. Ann Parish in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport.

“Catholic Underground is known for the great ministry it created in Manhattan. By bringing it to the diocese, the bishop is giving our young people a true gift. It offers a dynamic way for people to come together for Holy Hour, Confession and a Catholic cultural experience,” said Father Peter Lynch, St. Ann’s pastor.

The Catholic Underground name originated with the church-basement concerts that the C.F.R. home-grown funk band offered to follow their Holy Hours in Manhattan and the Bronx, but also shares a link in spirit to the underground Rhapsodic Theater of the young Karol Wojtya, later Pope John Paul II.

“Catholic Underground was formed in response to St. John Paul II’s teaching that the Gospel lives in conversation with culture and that we must be fearless in crossing the cultural threshold,”  said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, who welcomed the movement to the diocese.

Upon meeting Sacred Beauty Project founders Paul Chu and Val Tarantino, the bishop requested that they create a Catholic Underground affiliate group in the Diocese of Bridgeport. “As a Sacred Beauty initiative, Catholic Underground Fairfield County will be blending elements of high culture and pop culture with the sacred into one unified culture of worship,” Tarantino said.

In addition to St. Ann’s, Catholic Underground will also meet at Sacred Heart Parish in Danbury and St. Matthew Parish in Norwalk. Events will take place on the second Saturday of each month, starting in October, and will rotate between the three parishes.

“I’m very grateful for our pastors who will be welcoming this movement to Fairfield County. We share a sense of excitement about this gift to all those who seek to experience their faith in a context that includes music and artistic expression,” said Bishop Caggiano.

The bishop described how, throughout the synod process, many people asked for more opportunities for Adoration and for a richer and more varied approach to music. They also requested programs that fully engage the young and invite them into the Church.

“It’s about prayer—about our Eucharistic Lord drawing people at every stage in their faith journey, their life journey, and bringing them into prayerful community in his presence,” said Chu. “The evening begins and ends with the Liturgy of the Hours—Vespers and Compline. This is the universal prayer of the Church—prayed by Catholics throughout the world in every time zone and in every language.”

After Vespers, there is a period of song, praise and worship, ending with solemn Benediction. Then the celebration focuses on Catholic artists, sharing music, poetry, visual art, dance, film, and drama.

A short film festival is on tap for October; November 14 will feature rap theologian Sammy Blaze; February 13 will bring the folk singer and Catholic human rights activist Danielle Rose, with Bishop Caggiano as celebrant for the Holy Hour; and April will feature Father Claude Dusty Burns of the Diocese of Evansville, better known to many as the rapping priest “Father Pontifex.”

Tarantino cited Sacred Beauty’s patron saint, St. Peter Julian Eymard: “The Heart of Jesus is a furnace of love for God and for us. From it are constantly darting forth the most ardent and purest flames of divine love.” She added, “In his presence, our worship and praise will be enfolded and set aflame by his own, and his light will illumine and spark the creativity and beauty of the art that follows.”

(For more info, email Catholic Underground Fairfield County at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or contact the participating parishes.)

Catholics wrestle with immigration issues
| October 04, 2015


Click here for photos from the Red Mass

FAIRFIELD—The world is facing its worse refugee crisis since the end of World War II, Rev. Rick Ryscavage, S.J. said at the Annual Red Mass and Breakfast held at Fairfield University.

Fr. Ryscavage, S.J., a nationally known expert on immigration and refugee policy and Director of the Center for Faith and Public Life at Fairfield University, began his talk by noting that the immigration debate in the U.S. is “highly emotional, even explosive as we move into he presidential election.”

Then Fr. Ryscavage went on to upend many popular misconceptions held by people on both sides of the issue.

Speaking to a gathering of over 150 attorneys, judges and legal professionals in the Oak Room of Fairfield University, Fr. Ryscavage said most recent immigration is the result of “failed states, corruption, the drug trade and internal violence.”

He then quickly pointed out that immigration is also one of the unintended results of the success of “global market capitalism in lifting people out of extreme poverty.”

“There has been a 50% drop off in extreme poverty in the world in the past 25 years-- the biggest in history,” he said, adding that the rising standard of living and availability of money has feuled immigration for people who seek to leave a country for economic reasons.

He said that while most people think that “immigrants from poor countries,” it’s not always the case.

“It takes money to immigrate. The poorest countries don’t have the biggest migration—people don’t move about much,” he said.

Fr. Ryscavage told the gathering that it costs between $5000 and $8000 to flee Central America, with most of the money going to human smugglers who guarantee three attempts at escape. The Syrian refugees now pouring into Europe need at least $2000 to make the short trip.

Much of the money it takes to move around the globe is found in the estimated $426 billion “in remittances” of immigrants working in another country “and sending the money back home to the developing world.”

In addition to be attracted to economic opportunity, many immigrants, including children in Latin America are fleeing “extreme gang violence,” Fr. Ryscavage said.

“Honduras has the highest homicide rate in the world, most of it gang related,” he said explaining that a large number of the unaccompanied children who came to the U.S. last year were able to do so because family members work here and sent the money back home to help reunite the family.

Taking a longer view of the crisis, Fr. Ryscavage said that a country like the U.S. that has good track record of integrating immigrants will actually fare better as birth rates plunge across the world and more people are needed to do the work in aging societies.

He said Japan and China will be seriously challenge because have no one to replace current workforce. Likewise, he predicted that Mexican immigration will dwindle because the birth rate in Mexico has plummeted and more young Mexicans will be needed at home in the coming decades.

Addressing the spiritual response to immigration Fr. Ryscavage said the Church is often mistakenly seen as another “pro-immigration lobby,” when its concerns for immigrants comes from another perspective born out of its identity as “pilgrim Church.”

He said that treatment of immigrants is one issue that both conservative and liberal bishops agree on with very little difference of opinion.

Noting that in the Church’s earliest years, Christians were often referred to as people of “the road or the way,” Fr Ryscavage said all Catholics believe that earth is not their permanent home and that all life is a pilgrimage toward God.

“We are a mirror image of immigrants in that we see the journey and a pilgrimage. It is a perspective we share—we’re allon the move.”

In a question an answer session that followed. Fr. Ryscavage said parishes and dioceses have a lot more work to do to understand and respond to immigration.

He was recently commissioned by the Diocese of Rockville Center to study attitude on immigration on the part of Long Island parishioners, and the study found a “shocking resistance normal Catholics have to helping immigrants and to discussing the issue in Church.

True to form in this complicated issue, Fr. Ryscavage said the study found that the reluctance to talk about the issue was also expressed by the recent immigrants in the parishes, who did not want it addressed from the altar.

Adding that most recent immigrants are Catholics and that they are accepted in parishes despite political differences, Fr. Ryscavage ended by saying the Church must develop new models of education and dialogue to bring people together on the issue.

The morning began with Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, Fairfield University President Fr. Jeffrey P. von Arx, and other Fairfield Jesuits around the altar of Egan Chapel. Anne McCrory, Chief Legal and Real Estate Officer of the Diocese of Bridgeport, coordinated the event and served as host.

After Mass, Bishop Caggiano presented pins to members of the Bridgeport Chapter of The St. Thomas More Society of Fairfield County for their long-time charitable service on behalf of many diocesan institutions and non-profit programs to help others. Msgr. James Cuneo, a canon lawyer and member of the Diocesan Tribunal, was presented a special service award for his serve as spiritual moderator of the Bridgeport chapter.

Bishop offered two challenges to members of legal profession present. He said he would like to see the St. Thomas More society grow and be revitalized in other parts of Fairfield County, and he hoped that Catholic legal professionals might take part in legal forums sponsored by the diocese to update and educate people about many of the ethical and moral challenges that become legal issues.

Bishop Praises Women for “Walking with Purpose”
| October 02, 2015


For more information visit:
Click here for photos
Click to hear Bishop Caggiano's talk

STAMFORD— “We’re here celebrating the great gift Walking with Purpose is to the church and to the Diocese of Bridgeport,” Bishop Frank Caggiano told 330 women throughout the diocese who gathered at the Italian Center.

The women came together earlier this week for the Walking with Purpose Fall Luncheon, which feature a talk by the Bishop.

Walking with Purpose is a Catholic Women’s Bible Study that offers a parish program combining at-home study with a weekly meeting for small group discussion, read Scripture reading and videos. It offers programs in a number of parishes throughout the diocese.

“When I look into our faces, I see the Lord alive in you, because through Walking with Purpose, you have met Him in scripture and encountered him on the road to Emmaus,” the Bishop said to the women.

“You have fallen in love with Him and continue to give your heart to serve him, not just as an individual but coming together as communities of love, services and joy—that’s the recipe of the Gospel and that’s what evangelization is all about.”

The Bishop began his talk by reflecting on the recent visit of Pope Francis to the United States as “six marvelous days of grace for Catholics, Christians, and all people of goodwill throughout the country.”

The Bishop said the women at the luncheon were like Pope Francis in that they shared “the light and Good News of the Gospel” with all those they encountered.

Walking with Purpose is now available at the following parishes in the diocese: St. Aloysius, New Canaan; St. Catherine of Sienna, Riverside; Holy Spirit, Stamford; Sacred Heart of Jesus, Danbury; St. Joseph Brookfield; St. Mary, Greenwich; St Mary, Ridgefield; St. Michael, Greenwich, St. Rose of Lima, Newtown; St. Thomas More, Darien; Our Lady Star of the Sea, Stamford.

Bishop Caggiano visits Sacred Heart, holds Mass, blesses new gym
| October 01, 2015 • by By Paul Schott, Greenwich Time


GREENWICH—Growing up in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, N.Y., the future Bishop Frank Caggiano was fascinated by a November ritual of the father of his good friend, Gino.

Bishop Frank Caggiano visited Convent of the Sacred Heart where he blessed
the cornerstone of the school's new facility and lead the Mass of the Holy Spirit,
the first Mass of the new school year, at the school in Greenwich, Wednesday, September 30.
Photo by Bob Luckey Jr., Hearst Connecticut Media

Every year, in the second week of that month, Gino’s father would prune a large grape vine in his backyard. He would strip it of every leaf and every branch until there was just a single stem standing.

The practice struck young Frank as a cruel punishment for the vine. Finally, he and Gino mustered the courage to ask Gino’s father why he had to so severely crop the plant.

“He laughed, and he said ‘Boys, remember that the vine is only as strong as its roots,’” Caggiano recalled in his homily during Mass Wednesday in the newly renovated gymnasium at Convent of the Sacred Heart. “I’m not hurting the vine; I’m just helping it to grow stronger. The root is what makes all the difference.”

Caggiano made his latest visit to the all-girls Catholic school to celebrate the first Mass of the school year in a transformed setting.

The gym was renovated as part of the construction of a 35,000-square-foot athletic complex, which opened earlier this month. Before Mass, Caggiano blessed the new building’s cornerstone.

“Now you have this beautiful athletic center, which I have to tell you, when I was in high school, I never imagined having a place like this,” Caggiano quipped during his homily.

Gino’s father’s pruning of the vine is not just a compelling story, but also a metaphor told in scripture that explains one’s place in the world, Caggiano told Sacred Heart’s approximately 740 students. “I am the vine, you are the branches,” Jesus says in the Gospel of John, a line that is also inscribed on the new altar in the gym.

“In the end, you and I, as individual branches on this vine - all different, all beautiful, all necessary - would have nothing, could accomplish nothing, would do nothing without Jesus,” Caggiano said. “Jesus is the source of everything you have, every blessing you have, everything you accomplish, all your success. That’s the lesson. We need to remember who is at the center of our life, who is the root of your life. And his name is Jesus.”

The meaning of the vine was the latest lesson that Caggiano imparted at Sacred Heart. He was making his third visit to the school since he was installed two years ago as bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport. The school stands on the western edge of the Diocese, but is not formally affiliated with it.

Caggiano first visited Sacred Heart in September 2013, celebrating the first Mass of the school year then as he did Wednesday. He again wore his distinctive liturgical vestments: a deep red robe, a matching mitre and a pastoral staff.

Caggiano also commissioned 23 seniors as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, a role that allows them to serve as Eucharistic ministers at school liturgies and in their home parishes. He then called them up to help him give Communion to the younger students, staff and alumni.

“I think this relates to what Bishop Caggiano was saying about how you should spread your religion through one person at a time,” newly designated Eucharistic minister Izzy Sio said. “In the Eucharistic ministry, you get to spread that faith. You can see God in everyone else around you.”

The students earned their new leadership positions after completing a months-long application and training process.

“Faith is a lot of questioning, so I think it’s important (for younger students) to see their Eucharistic ministers and role models in the church as people who are just like them, who also question their faith,” said Cynthia Thomas, another of the new ministers. “When they see us, I think they feel like they can do it, too.”

The Mass also featured a spirited musical program, including acclamations, hymns and the school song “Coeur de Jesus.”

At the end of the service, the bishop divulged a “secret” to his audience.

“Of all the things I do in the year as bishop, coming here to the Convent of the Sacred Heart is probably one of my favorite events of the whole year,” Caggiano said. “The reason I say that to you is this: You are a very joyful, hopeful, community of hope. You really help me and encourage me to see that the future of the church is very bright because of young people like you.”

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address); 203.625.4439; twitter: @paulschott

Click here to see the original story in the Greenwich Times

Red Mass set for Sunday
| September 29, 2015


FAIRFIELD—The 2015 Red Mass will take place on Sunday, October 4,  9 am at the Egan Chapel of Fairfield University, 1073 N. Benson Road, Fairfield, Connecticut. 

Rev. Richard Ryscavage, S.J., a nationally known expert on immigration and refugee policy and Director of the Center for Faith and Public Life at Fairfield University will be the featured speaker. His topic is “Immigration Issues and the Church.”

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will celebrate the Red Mass and attend the breakfast immediately following the service in the Oak Room.  Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx S.J., President of Fairfield University is the host of this year’s event.  
The public is invited to attend the Red Mass along with members of the legal profession.
Anne McCrory, Chief Legal and Real Estate Officer of the Diocese of Bridgeport, said the annual Red Mass requests guidance from the Holy Spirit for all who seek, justice, and offers the opportunity to reflect on the responsibilities and challenges faced by Catholic legal practitioners.
“As a Jesuit priest who ran one of the world’s largest refugee resettlement agencies, Fr. Ryscavage bring a unique perspective and first hand-experience to one of the most pressing and urgent topics around the globe,” McCrory said.
“The current child immigration crisis and the call of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for compassionate immigration reform make this a timely and important discussion.”
Rev. Richard Ryscavage, S.J. is director of the Center for Faith and Public Life and a professor of sociology and international studies at Fairfield University.  He served as national director of the Jesuit Refugee Service.
While he was executive director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Office of Migration and Refugee Services, he oversaw annual federal grants of more than $40 million from the State Department and the Department of Health and Human Services.
In response to the current child immigration crisis in Texas, Fr. Ryscavage was asked to join the Federal government's Interagency Task Force on Unaccompanied Children, which includes members of the U.S. State Dept., DHS, Justice, HHS and others.
Fr. Ryscavage was president of CLINIC, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. He chaired the humanitarian section of INTERACTION, the largest coalition of American non-governmental organizations working internationally. He was the first Arrupe Tutor at the Refugee Studies Centre of Oxford University in England. In 2006, he was invited by the Vatican to become a member of the official delegation of the Holy See to the 61st session of the UN General Assembly and participated in the Secretary General's "High Level Dialogue on Migration."
Most recently, Fr. Ryscavage met with Pope Francis in the Vatican where he expressed his particular concern about young migrants around the world.
As Director of Fairfield University's Center for Faith and Public Life he oversaw two grant-funded initiatives that relate to different aspects of the immigration issue: the "Immigrant Student National Position Paper" focusing on undocumented students and "Strangers as Neighbors: Religious Language and the Response to Immigrants in the U.S."
Ryscavage received his bachelor's degree and an honorary doctorate from Assumption College. He earned his master's degrees in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, political philosophy from Boston College, divinity from the Weston School of Theology and international administration from the School for International Training.
This year’s Red Mass also will highlight the work of the St. Thomas More Society, an association of Catholic attorneys, judges, legislators and other legal professionals in the diocese. Bishop Caggiano has urged legal professionals to join the society in order to  strengthen the union of Catholics in the legal field and to encourage collaboration, fraternity and service.
Breakfast will be served following the Mass in the Oak Room. The cost of brunch is $35 per person. For tickets, please Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or phone: 203.416.1358.

Pope says he left U.S. praying for, impressed by its people
| September 28, 2015 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


PHILADELPHIA—As the American Airlines plane taking him to Rome from Philadelphia took off, Pope Francis said he pictured the faces of all the people he met, and he prayed for them.

Pope Francis gives a copy of the Gospel of Luke to a family during the closing Mass
of the World Meeting of Families on Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia September 27.
(CNS photo/Paul Haring) 

At the end of his first-ever visit to the United States, the pope told reporters he “was surprised by the warmth of the people” and how they were “so loving. It was beautiful.”

Spending close to 50 minutes with members of the media flying back to Rome with him September 27, the pope said he also was struck by the sincere piety of people at his Masses and prayer services.

Shortly after takeoff, Pope Francis responded to a dozen questions, including why he spoke with such compassion to U.S. bishops in Washington about what they went through in the aftermath of the clerical sex abuse crisis.

“I felt a need to express compassion because what happened was horrible, and many of them suffered a lot,” the pope said. For “men of prayer, good pastors” the crisis was truly a “tribulation.”

Sexual abuse occurs in families, schools and other environments, he said, but when the abuser is a priest it is “a kind of sacrilege,” because a priest’s job is to help a person grow in love of God and, instead, an abusive priest “squashes” his victims.

An abusive priest “has betrayed his vocation, the call of the Lord, and those who covered these things up is also guilty; even some bishops covered this up. It was a horrible thing. And my words of comfort were not to say, ‘well, be tranquil, it was nothing,’—no, no, not that. But it was such a bad time that I imagine they wept a lot.”

Pope Francis said he understands survivors who feel they cannot forgive their abusers and those who have lost their faith in God because of it.

“I pray for them,” he said.

On another topic, a U.S. reporter referred to the Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis, who refused to issue a marriage license to a gay couple because of her religious beliefs. The reporter asked Pope Francis to comment on the discussions in the United States regarding religious liberty and its possible limits

Pope Francis said he had no idea of the specific case, but he insisted that “conscientious objection is a right—it is a human right.” If some rights can be denied in certain circumstances, he said, then it would turn into a situation where people were determining some human rights were more important than others.

When asked further about the county clerk, the pope said since the official was a human being then that official should enjoy the full range of human rights, including the right to follow her conscience.

Asked about the role of women in the church, Pope Francis said not ordaining women does not mean the church does not recognize how essential they are to its life and ministry, which is one of the reasons he highlighted the contributions of consecrated women.

“The sisters in the United States have done marvelous things—in the field of education, in the field of health care. And the people of the United States love the sisters.”

“I felt like I needed to thank them for what they have done,” he said.

Asked if the success of his visit to the United States made him feel powerful or like a star, he said power is not his ambition: “It is something that passes. You have it today, but tomorrow it’s gone.”

For those who follow Jesus, he said, the only power that counts is the power to serve others. “True power is service ... humble service, and I still need to make progress on this path of service because I feel like I am not doing all that I need to do.”

After participating in the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia and looking ahead to the opening October 4 of the Synod of Bishops on the family, Pope Francis was asked about his decision to streamline the process for declaring the nullity of marriages.

He insisted the change was strictly juridical and not doctrinal. It is not “Catholic divorce,” he said. The annulment process needed reform because with automatic appeals “there were processes that lasted 10-15 years.”

The annulment process does not dissolve a marriage, but rather investigates whether or not a valid sacramental marriage was present from the beginning, he said.

The decision to issue the new rules for the process responds to a request made by the majority of bishops at the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family last year, he said.

The question of finding some sort of process or “penitential path” to readmit to the sacraments Catholics who have remarried without an annulment is something still on the synod’s agenda, he said. “It seems a bit simplistic to me to say they can receive Communion,” but it is an issue that needs further discussion.

Another issue touched upon during his U.S. visit was migration. Pope Francis had told the U.S. Congress, “Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War.”

On the plane he told reporters that the world cannot pretend the crisis currently impacting Europe sprang up overnight. He said it was provoked by years of war and tensions in the Middle East and by decades of hunger and tensions in Africa, a continent that continues to be exploited by the world's rich nations when some investment would create jobs and help people live dignified lives in their homelands.

As for the idea of some European nations to start building walls or fences to keep migrants out, Pope Francis said the influx of newcomers needs to be handled intelligently, “but walls are not the solution.”

Erecting walls, he said, “the problems remain and they remain with increased hatred.”

Pushed to comment on his popularity, Pope Francis insisted he doesn’t feel like a “star” because of all the crowds that flocked to meet him. Besides, he said, stars tend to come and go.

The pope is called to be “the servant of the servants of God—that's a bit different than a star,” he said. “Stars are beautiful to watch; I like to gaze at them when the sky is clear. But the pope must be the servant of the servants of God.”

Asked about the primary task facing the church in the United States, the pope said, “The challenge of the church is to be what it always was—close to the people, not detached,” he said.

Busloads from area attend final Mass.
Click to read Stamford Advocate account.

Busloads of area Catholics attend pope’s final U.S. Mass
| September 28, 2015


PHILADELPHIA—Pope Francis urged hundreds of thousands of the faithful gathered Sunday for the biggest event of his U.S. visit to be open to “miracles of love,” closing out his six-day tour with a message of hope for families, consolation for victims of child sexual abuse and a warning to America’s bishops.

Click here to read the original story
from the Stamford Advocate.

Organizers had predicted a crowd of one million for Francis’ open-air Mass, and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway overflowed with the jubilant. They endured hourslong lines and airport-style security checks to see history’s first pope from the Americas in the birthplace of the United States.

Among the crowd were busloads of Roman Catholics from the Bridgeport Diocese.

The diocese organized buses that departed from Danbury, Trumbull, New Canaan and Stamford Sunday morning so the worshipers could attend the Pope’s farewell Mass.

Throughout the day, the group took to social media to describe their experience using the hashtag #bptinphilly.

The Bridgeport Diocese’s Twitter and Facebook accounts detailed the group’s excitement, the “awesome” and “amazing” atmosphere in Philadelphia, posting pictures of packed streets. The tweets began on the bus ride, including praying the rosary, singing hymns and sharing Portuguese bread a family baked for the bus.

The group’s excitement was most evident when it shared a few close-up pictures of the pope on his way to Mass with the captions, “The Holy Father himself!!!!!!” and “This is truly another once in a lifetime, breathtakingly beautiful moment with our Holy Father.”

The Mass—the final public event on Francis’ itinerary before the 78-year-old pontiff was to return to Rome—was a brilliant tableau of gold, green and white in the slanted evening sunlight of a mild early-autumn day.

Riding through the streets in his open-sided popemobile, the pontiff waved to cheering, screaming, singing, flag-waving crowds as he made his way to the altar at the steps of the columned Philadelphia Museum of Art.

With a towering golden crucifix behind him, Francis told his listeners their presence itself was “a kind of miracle in today’s world,” an affirmation of the family and the power of love.

“Would that all of us could be open to miracles of love for the sake of all the families of the world,” he said to the hushed crowd spread out along the tree-lined boulevard before him.

Crowds a mile away fell silent during Communion. Some people knelt on the paving stones at City Hall, a few blocks from the altar.

June Bounds, 56, of Rochester, N.Y., watched the Mass with fellow parishioners on a large screen at City Hall, closing her eyes and blinking back tears.

“It’s very overwhelming,” she said. “You feel like you’re one body with everyone here, whether you’re here, whether you’re back home, whether you’re anywhere in the world.”

Of the pope, she said: "He's brought so much joy and holy spirit into the United States. It doesn't matter if you're a Catholic; he's just trying to unite everybody for a better world."

There was no immediate estimate of the crowd at the Mass. But there were signs that the heavy security precautions and weeks of dire warnings from the city may have scared some people away.

Downtown hotel rooms went unfilled over the weekend, normally bustling city streets were deserted, some businesses closed early, and many Philadelphians complained the precautions were oppressive.

Earlier in the day, Francis had a more solemn message for families scarred by the sins of the church itself.

The pope met with five victims of child sexual abuse and told them he was “deeply sorry” for the times they came forward to tell their stories and weren’t believed. He assured them he believes them and that bishops who covered up for abusers will be made to answer for what they did.

“I pledge to you that we will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead,” Francis said in Spanish. “Clergy and bishops will be held accountable when they abuse or fail to protect children.”

A few minutes later, he went into a meeting of bishops from the U.S. and around the world who were in town for a Catholic festival on the family and told them the same thing.

“God weeps” over what was done to the youngsters, he lamented.

The pope has agreed to create a new Vatican tribunal to prosecute bishops who failed to protect their flock, and he has accepted the resignations of three U.S. bishops accused of mishandling abuse cases.

During his first meeting with victims, held at the Vatican in July 2014, Francis similarly vowed to hold bishops accountable, but Sunday marked the first time he had warned the bishops themselves, face-to-face, and in public.

In an apparent effort to reshape the discussion, though, the Vatican said not all the victims had been abused by clergy; some were violated by relatives or educators. The choice of victims underscored the Vatican's argument that child molestation is not unique to the church.

Victim support groups were unimpressed by the meeting, which took place at a seminary on the edge of Philadelphia and lasted more than a half-hour.

The main victims’ support group, SNAP, dismissed it as an exercise in public relations.

“Is a child anywhere on Earth safer now that a pope, for maybe the seventh or eighth time or ninth time, has briefly chatted with abuse victims? No,” said SNAP's David Clohessy.

The Rev. Tom Doyle, a former church lawyer who is now an advocate for victims, said including those who were violated by non-clergy “seriously minimizes” the problem in the church.

As the Mass drew to a close, church officials said the next World Meeting of Families—the Vatican-sponsored festival that brought the pope to Philadelphia—will be held in Dublin in 2018.

Ireland is ground zero for the church’s sexual abuse crisis outside of the U.S. The overwhelmingly Catholic country also recently legalized gay marriage.

Francis' journey took him first to Cuba, then to Washington and New York. Along the way, he drew large and adoring crowds, met with President Barack Obama, visited ground zero and a school in East Harlem, and addressed Congress and the United Nations, calling for urgent action on climate change and poverty.

He also issued pointed messages for a new direction of the U.S. church, twice praising the service of America's nuns, who had been subject to a recently ended Vatican crackdown. He also urged America's bishops to focus more on helping their flock through life's ups and downs rather than spending all their energy on culture wars.

Pope: “Encounter Christ” in the faces of the city
| September 26, 2015


NEW YORK—An incredible mildness overtook the city, perhaps because Pope Francis—“Papa Francisco” as many called out to him joyfull as he passed—appeared to be everywhere.

Doors and windows to cafes and shops were thrown open with people dining on the sidewalks and walking at a more leisurely pace than usual in the cool breeze on a Friday in Manhattan.

The Pope’s day started out at the Vatican Observer’s residence on 5th and 72nd Street before he traveled too the United Nations on the East River, then moved downtown to lead an interfaith service at the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero, followed by a tour through Central Park and finished up in the heart of the city for Mass at Madison Square Garden.

On this special day it seemed for a moment as if the whole world were Catholic; subways, trains and sidewalks were filled with seminarians in cassocks, priests in collars and nuns in habits. Members of the laity clutched rosary beads while others carried bags full of Papal memorabilia including t-shirts and Mass programs.

Twenty thousand people, including 100 men and women from the Diocese of Bridgeport, waited for hours to go through security checks and enter the city’s historic sports arena. Yet tempers never flared as the serpentine lines, which looped into Chelsea for more than 20 city blocks, inched forward.

Many of the Bridgeport diocesan delegation were thrilled to see Bishop Frank J. Caggiano among the bishops and cardinals on the main altar for the celebration of the Eucharist with the Pope who has inspired millions in his humility and concern for the poor.

Vendors sold papal flags and water bottles and NYPD came by with megaphones to reassure those on line that everyone with a ticket would get in.

Somehow it all came together as planned with the Pope arriving at MSG at 6 pm for a quick victory lap of the arena on an electric cart before vesting for Mass, which began shortly after. By that time, the security logjam had cleared, the lines evaporated, and the arena was full.

In his homily that began with a reference to Madison Square Garden and the many great sports and entertainment events it has hosted in its history, the Pope went on to deliver a poetic homily that at times had echoes of Walt Whitman and Pablo Neruda as he celebrated the life of the city and charged it with spiritual greatness.

The Pope said that those who are faithful to God, "can see, discern and contemplate his living presence" in the midst of the city.

"The people who walk, breathe and live in the midst of smog, have seen a great light, have experienced a breath of fresh air,” he said, urging those present to see the face of Christ in all those they pass including the homeless, marginalized and elderly.

"In big cities, beneath the roar of traffic, beneath the rapid pace of change, so many faces pass by unnoticed because they have no 'right' to be there, no right to be part of the city. They are the foreigners, the children who go without schooling, those deprived of medical insurance, the homeless, the forgotten elderly," said the pope. "These people stand at the edges of our great avenues, in our streets, in deafening anonymity. They become part of an urban landscape which is more and more taken for granted, in our eyes, and especially in our hearts."

“Go out and meet others where they really are, not where we think they should be," Pope Francis said. "Christ frees us from anonymity, from a life of emptiness and selfishness" and moves people to encounter and to peace instead of competition.

In brief remarks after Mass, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan brought the house down when he noted that during every Mass across the country, Catholics pray for Pope Francis, “and now we have him here with us.”

A prolonged standing ovation followed that rocked Madison Square Garden and left a shy and beaming smile on the face of the Pontiff, which could be clearly seen on the giant jumbotron screen.

Before his final blessing and ending his historic public day in New York City, the Pope said in quiet voice to all assembled, “Please pray for me,” which triggered another ovation—his message of peace, toleration, care for the poor and vulnerable, and respect for all life leaving a lasting glow in the city.

Visit our Facebook page for photos of the Papal Mass at MSG

In New York service, pope offers encouragement to men, women religious
| September 25, 2015 • by By Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service


NEW YORK—During an evening prayer service at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, Pope Francis thanked the nation’s priests, brothers and women religious for their service and gave particular thanks to women religious saying, “Where would the church be without you?”

Pope Francis leads an evening prayer service at St. Patrick's Cathedral,
Thursday, September 24, 2015, in New York. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today via AP, Pool)

The pope began with unscripted remarks, extending his sympathy to the Muslim community for the stampede in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, that killed more than 700 people that morning. He offered his “sentiments of closeness in face of tragedy” and his assurance of his prayers. “I unite myself with you,” he added.

The pope arrived by popemobile at St. Patrick’s September 24 after traveling from Washington. He encouraged those with religious vocations and also acknowledged the pain of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the church saying, “You suffered greatly in the not distant past by having to bear the shame of some of your brothers who harmed and scandalized the church in the most vulnerable of her members.”

He said he wished to accompany them “at this time of pain and difficulty.”

Although the pope was speaking in Spanish, a translation of his remarks was posted on large screen TV. The congregation applauded his remarks about women religious in the United States, whom he described as women of strength and fighters and said their “spirit of courage” puts them “in the front lines in the proclamation of the Gospel.”

“To you, religious women, sisters and mothers of this people, I wish to say thank you, a big thank you, and to tell you that I love you very much.”

Speaking to all in the cathedral, he told them: “I know that many of you are in the front lines in meeting the challenges of adapting to an evolving pastoral landscape. Whatever difficulties and trials you face, I ask you, like St. Peter, to be at peace and to respond to them as Christ did: He thanked the Father, took up his cross and looked forward.”

The pope urged those in religious life to be thankful for their many blessings and graces and encouraged them to continue their “spirit of hard work” without getting caught up in “spiritual worldliness” or simply being efficient, which he said can weaken one’s commitment to serve and also “diminishes the wonder of our first encounter with Christ.”

The pope gently reminded the priests and religious men and women that they have “been entrusted with a great responsibility, and God’s people rightly expect accountability from us.”

He also said they need to view their apostolate “by the value it has in God’s eyes” which calls for “constant conversion” and great humility remembering that their job is to plant the seeds and God will see to "the fruits of our labors.”

Pope Francis even warned the priests and religious against surrounding themselves with “worldly comforts,” which they might say would help them serve better. The danger with that, he said, is it slowly but surely “diminishes our spirit of sacrifice, renunciation and hard work. It also alienates people who suffer material poverty and are forced to make greater sacrifices than ourselves.”

“Rest is needed, as are moments of leisure and self-enrichment, but we need to learn how to rest in a way that deepens our desire to serve with generosity. Closeness to the poor, the refugee, the immigrant, the sick, the exploited, the elderly living alone, prisoners and all God’s other poor, will teach us a different way of resting, one which is more Christian and generous,” the pope said.

At the close of the prayer service, New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan welcomed the pope to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and said that once he came through the doors he “became an official New Yorker,” even though “you already have a home in our hearts and souls.”

He told the pope that in the past three years the cathedral, built in 1879, has been going through major renovation, which he likened to the spiritual renewal the pope has asked. “Your presence renews all of us,” he added, urging him to stop by again.

Those in attendance, who included religious and laity from the New York Archdiocese, had waited for several hours in the cathedral for the vespers, or evening prayer.

William Lacerenza of New Rochelle, New York, and his wife, Daniella Raciti-Lacerenza, said the pope has a lot that resonates with New Yorkers.

“He’s a little controversial and I like that. You have to rock the boat sometimes,” said Daniella Raciti-Lacerenza.

William Lacerenza said that as someone who comes from a family of immigrants, even a few generations removed, “it’s a humble reminder” when the pope points out about the immigrants who helped build this country.

“It resonated with me,” he said, and it’s something that a lot of New Yorkers and Americans can identify with, he said.

Even a city that has lot of riches appreciates what the pope is asking of the world, he said.

“He tells us that we have to look out for the poor.” Even people who are wealthy are receptive to the pope's message, he added: “It’s not lost on them.”

Pope to Congress: Stop bickering, world needs your help
| September 24, 2015 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


WASHINGTON—The past, the promise and the potential of the United States must not be smothered by bickering and even hatred at a time when the U.S. people and indeed the world need a helping hand, Pope Francis told the U.S. Congress.

Making history by being the first pope ever to address a joint meeting of Congress, Pope Francis was introduced to the legislators by the House sergeant at arms September 24 as: “Mr. Speaker, the pope of the Holy See.”

The pope introduced himself, though, as a son of the American continent, who had been blessed by the “new world” and felt a responsibility toward it.

In a long speech, he gave the sense that he sees the United States as a country divided, one so focused on calling each other names that it risks losing sight of how impressive it can be when its people come together for the common good. That is when it is a beacon of hope for the world, he said.

Pope Francis condemned legalized abortion, the death penalty and unscrupulous weapons sales. He called on Congress to “seize the moment” by moving forward with normalizing relations with Cuba. And, again referring to himself as a “son of immigrants”—and pointing out that many of the legislators are, too—he pleaded for greater openness to accepting immigrants.

A reporter had asked the pope in July about why he spoke so much about the poor and about the rich, but rarely about the lives and struggles of the hard-working, tax-paying middle class. The result of a papal promise to correct that was the speech to Congress and through Congress to the American people.

“I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day's work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and—one step at a time—to build a better life for their families,” the pope said.

“These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society,” he said. “They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create organizations which offer a helping hand to those most in need.”

Showing he had studied the United States before the visit—something he said he would do during the Rome August break—he used four iconic U.S. citizens as relevant models of virtue for Americans today: Abraham Lincoln, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

“A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did; when it fosters a culture which enables people to 'dream' of full rights for all their brothers and sisters as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work; the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton,” the pope said.

Describing political service with the same tone used to describe a vocation to religious life—“you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you”—the pope recognized the weighty responsibility of being a member of the U.S. Congress.

Dialogue, he said, is the only way to handle the pressure and fulfill the call to serve the common good, promoting a culture of “hope and healing, of peace and justice.”

For the speech, Pope Francis stood in the House chamber in front of Rep. John Boehner, speaker of the House and a Republican from Ohio, and Vice President Joe Biden, president of the Senate. Both men are Catholics. Besides the senators, representatives and their invited guests, the attendees included members of the U.S. Supreme Court and members of President Barack Obama's Cabinet.

Tens thousands of people watched the speech on giant screen from the Capitol's West Lawn. Gathered hours before the pope's morning visit, they were entertained by military bands.

In his speech, Pope Francis gave strong support to several concerns of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic faithful, including defending the right of people to publicly live their faith and join political policy debates from a faith-based perspective.

“It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society,” he said. The dialogue the country needs must be respectful of “our differences and our convictions of conscience.”

“Every life is sacred,” he insisted, calling for the “global abolition of the death penalty” and the “responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.”

Some U.S. politicians and pundits have expressed confusion or even anger over Pope Francis’ teaching about the damage provoked when money becomes a god and profits count more than people. The pope insists his words are straight out of Catholic social teaching.

His speech to Congress included more of that teaching, delving deeper into the positive aspects of a market economy—as long as it is ethical and includes controls, solidarity and a safety net for the poorest and weakest members of society.

“The creation and distribution of wealth” obviously is important for continued efforts to reduce poverty in the United States and around the globe, he said. “The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable.”

“Business is a noble vocation” when it seeks the common good, Pope Francis said. And today, he told legislators, the common good includes protecting the environment and taking bold steps “to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity.”

Full Transcript of the Pope’s Address to Congress

Esty sounds alarm on climate change at Sacred Heart University forum panelists echo sentiments
| September 23, 2015


FAIRFIELD—Dan Esty was commanding, compelling and quite passionate in the message he delivered at Sacred Heart University’s Schine Auditorium Wednesday evening, September 16th—climate change is real, and we must quickly unify under new leadership to make a moral and spiritual commitment to addressing the ecological crisis our world faces.

Esty, who is Hillhouse Professor at Yale University and former Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), was introduced by Sacred Heart’s Fr. Anthony Ciorra, facilitator and associate vice president for Mission and Catholic Identity, and served as the keynote speaker of a forum presented by SHU’s Human Journey Colloquia Series titled “New Leadership on Climate Change: From Mayors to the Pope.” Esty and Ciorra were joined by SHU’s Barbara Pierce, associate professor, biology; Brian Stiltner, chair and professor of theology, religious studies and philosophy; and Lucian Orlowski, professor of economics. Their discussion was inspired by and revolved around Pope Francis’ book, Laudato Si, the first papal encyclical focused solely on the environment. Wednesday’s presentation was free and attended by a full house of students, faculty and community members.

“This is a perfect, special and critical moment not just because the pope is coming next week, but because the United Nations is finalizing sustainable development goals and global quantitative targets with regard to a 21st-century approach to ecological problem solving, designed to achieve better results than past efforts,” Esty said. He warned that the policy area needs to be more careful not to silo decision making as plans move forward.

Esty also made reference to Ban Ki-moon, the current Secretary-General of the United Nations, who is spearheading the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris, France, set for November 30 to December 11, 2015. The conference objective is to achieve, for the first time in over 20 years of U.N. negotiations, a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world. The pope’s encyclical, calling for action against human-caused climate change, aims to influence the conference.

Twenty-five years ago, Esty was a young official with the EPA in Washington, D.C., and helped establish the 1992 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, which provided for yearly meetings among nations going forward. “Since then, we’ve had much success, but little real success,” Esty said, with regard to worldwide progress. “The world community is poised to do much better than the previous generation, but new leadership is inescapably important.”

Esty explained that the old plan was “top down” and not well executed, and that presidents and prime ministers have little influence on policies day-to-day. “We need broader engagement to shift the world to cleaner energy solutions. We need to bring in mayors, provincial leaders and corporate leaders and get them involved,” suggested Esty. He also advised a “shift to a much sharper action orientation” and establishing a new structure of measures and performance tracking to inspire competition and sharing of best practices.

Astoundingly, Esty says that the U.S. alone needs to make a minimum investment of $100 billion a year to reframe the infrastructure of this country to achieve a clean energy future. He pointed to smart approaches like Connecticut Green Bank, which leverages public and private funds to drive investment and scale up clean energy deployment across the state.

Esty also called for penalties and laws that prevent businesses from doing damage to the environment. “Businesses can’t continue to make pollution society’s problem,” he said.

Banging the drum, Esty concluded by echoing Pope Francis’ sentiments, that we must be committed to something greater than ourselves and be better stewards of the Earth. “Think of the Earth as a sister, a mother, a member of the family. The abuse of this family member is unacceptable,” he said.

SHU panelists were in step with Esty’s comments, particularly with regard to our moral obligation to our planet. Pierce said it’s convenient to blame population growth for our issues, but it’s not necessarily the case. “This is beyond a science issue and running out of resources. This is an issue of ‘how do we treat something that is giving back to us?’ There has to be a moral obligation to bettering and the common good.”

Stiltner remarked on the joyful nature of the pope and his view of the world and that it “should be a joy to be connected to the earth.” Orlowski commented, “All human beings should be entitled to the fruits of Mother Earth, and none of us have the right to plunder them. The main problem for this pope is the disconnect between the poorest among us and their access to the fruits.”

About Sacred Heart University Sacred Heart University, the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, offers more than 70 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs on its main campus in Fairfield, Conn., and satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland. Nearly 8,000 students attend the University’s six colleges: Arts & Sciences; Health Professions; Nursing; University College; the Jack Welch College of Business; and the Isabelle Farrington College of Education. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its guides Best 379 Colleges – 2015 Edition, “Best in the Northeast” and Best 296 Business Schools – 2015 Edition. U.S.News & World Report ranks SHU among the best master’s universities in the North in its annual “America’s Best Colleges” publication. Sacred Heart was also mentioned in Money magazine’s ranking of Fairfield as one of the best towns to live. As one of just 23 institutions nationally, SHU is a member of the Association of American Colleges & Universities’ (AAC&U) Core Commitments Leadership Consortium, in recognition of its core, “The Human Journey.” SHU fields 32 division I athletic teams and has an award-winning program of community service.

Bishop Caggiano on Pope's First Morning in the U.S.
| September 23, 2015


The Pope’s first morning in the United States has been nothing less than remarkable. It is a beautiful day here in Washington DC and the Holy Father’s presence and words have electrified the crowds and set the tone for the rest of his visit through Sunday.

In his remarks that were delivered in English at the White House, the Holy Father emphasized the need for Catholics and all people of good will to draw closer in collaboration to face the pressing challenges of our times. The themes that unified his remarks were those of unity in our Catholic faith and dialogue among all people. These are themes that bring great hope to the hearts of those who dare to believe that life in Christ is far greater, more beautiful and more noble than the mediocrity that our modern culture invites us to live. It is a life that will ultimately lead us to the glory of eternal life.

On a personal level, the fact that the Pope began his remarks to the President describing himself as the son of immigrants deeply resonated in my own heart. As you know, my parents were also immigrants to this great nation. They left their homeland of Italy so that my sister and I could have the opportunity to have a better life. As I have grown older, I have come to appreciate the tremendous sacrifice that my parents endured by emigrating to a new nation. It is a sacrifice that they made because of their love for their children.

It is a sacrifice that can also teach us how to live an authentic Christian life- a life that is meant to be lived in love for others and not for oneself.

May the presence in our midst of our Holy Father Francis, the son of immigrants, help rekindle that same spirit of sacrificial love in your heart and mine.

Sacred Heart University to offer new program
| September 22, 2015


FAIRFIELD—Sacred Heart University’s College of Health Professions is working with Stamford Hospital to launch a new full-time, 27-month master of physician assistant studies (MPAS) program, with an initial class of 28 students starting in fall 2016, pending accreditation.

*Already more than 800 applicants have applied to attend the program since the application process opened last April, reflecting the rapid nationwide growth in demand for physician assistants (PAs). Up to 150 people will be interviewed for 28 seats in the inaugural class.

The SHU MPAS program will be located in Stamford, on the second floor of Stamford Hospital’s Tandet Building located next to the main hospital on West Broad Street. The 13,000-square-foot space is in the process of a full renovation and will include a state-of-the-art lab, classrooms and a patient-assessment suite. The program will consist of a 12-month classroom phase followed by a 15-month clinical phase providing 2,000 hours of experience in several medical specialties. All students will complete clinical rotations primarily at Stamford Hospital as well as other SHU-affiliated hospitals and health-care sites.

Teresa Thetford, department chair and founding program director of SHU’s PA program, explains that students will be prepared to practice medicine on health-care teams with physicians and other providers. A PA-C (physician assistant-certified) is a graduate of an accredited PA educational program who is nationally certified and state-licensed to practice medicine in a variety of settings with the supervision of a physician. PAs practice and prescribe medications in all 50 states.

A key goal of the SHU MPAS program is to improve access to quality health care in Fairfield County and surrounding communities, including rural and urban medically underserved populations. Thetford notes that SHU will emphasize primary care and population health and wellness as well as patient-centered care that is individualized for each patient's needs.

Students will be required to complete a master’s capstone service-learning project focusing on a public health need and solutions.

“What makes us stand out will be our focus on patient-centered primary care and addressing the needs of the medically underserved,” says Thetford.

“As health care in the United States continues to evolve, the need for primary care providers, both physicians and physician assistants, will grow,” says Henry Yoon, M.D., associate director, Family Medicine Residency Program, at Stamford Hospital and medical director of Sacred Heart University’s MPAS program. “As a teaching hospital of Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, medical academics and a sense of continuously improving the care we provide now and in the future are deeply engrained in our culture.”  

The aging of the population, chronic health needs and increasing demand for health services driven by the Affordable Care Act are primary factors in the decision to establish the MPAS program at SHU. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth of 38 percent for PAs between 2012 and 2022, and according to the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), only 22 percent of Connecticut PAs work in primary care.

Nationally, research has shown an increasing physician shortage. Additionally, according to the CT Department of Labor (2014) report, there is a rising need for primary care providers within the state of Connecticut. The future needs of the state’s population demonstrates a need for preventive and primary care services. The utilization of physician assistants will help bridge this gap in preventive and primary care.

* Sacred Heart University (SHU) has received CT state program licensure, and applied for Accreditation—Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). SHU anticipates matriculating its first class in fall 2016, pending achieving Accreditation—Provisional status at the March 2016 ARC-PA meeting. Accreditation—Provisional is an accreditation status for a new PA program that, at the time of its initial accreditation review, demonstrated its preparedness to initiate a program in accordance with the accreditation Standards.

St. Aloysius School takes STEM by storm
| September 22, 2015


NEW CANAAN—St. Aloysius School is kicking off the 2015-2016 school year with the implementation of a comprehensive, kindergarten-through-eighth-grade STEM program.

STEM is a curriculum based on the concept of educating students in four specific disciplines—Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics—in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Instead of teaching the four disciplines as separate and independent subjects, STEM integrates them into cohesive learning based on real-world applications.

Since taking over the helm last year, Saint Aloysius School Principal Bardhyl Gjoka has been on a mission to enhance the school¹s curriculum through STEM-based learning.

“STEM is important to have in our schools because it really helps students adapt to this ever-changing world. It’s a must for the new generation—to prepare them to become critical thinkers and to adapt, adjust, and live in the world of their future,” Gjoka explained.

In order for STEM to succeed however, other tools must be leveraged to provide support and reinforcement. To accomplish that, the school has implemented a more rigorous curriculum, purchased Chromebook laptops, MacBook Pros and iPads, adopted an online learning component for all grades, and updated the existing server to accommodate twenty-first century technology.

Incorporating these changes in just one year’s time was ambitious, but Principal Gjoka believes it will be well worth the effort. “When we bring in the STEM educational approach, we encourage and allow the students to think outside of tradition, “out-of-the-box,” and apply these skills and knowledge to new enterprises.”

Scout gathers eyeglasses for Eagle Project
| September 22, 2015


NEWTOWN—Kyle Keeping is a scout with Troop 770, which meets at St. Rose of Lima Parish.

He is working on an Eagle Project to collect eyeglasses for New Eyes for the Needy ( They provide glasses to the underprivileged in the U.S. and also in developing countries.  Kyle is trying to collect as many glasses as possible to send to those in need here and overseas. He has already placed collection boxes at Mr. Mac’s Canteen in Tollgate Plaza, Monroe; Apex Glass on Riverside Rd. in Sandy Hook; at St. Rose Church; and at Above All Style at 71 Stony Hill Rd., Bethel. He would be happy to add more locations if anyone would like to have one. For more information on Kyle’s project, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Emmy award winner Paul Piorek joins Greenwich Catholic
| September 22, 2015


GREENWICH—Greenwich Catholic School is proud to announce and welcome Paul Piorek as a full-time middle school math and science teacher.

Hot air rises, as sixth-grade science students learn with a hands-on lesson
by their new teacher, Emmy Award winning meteorologist Paul Piorek,
who joined the faculty of Greenwich Catholic school this semester.

Piorek is best known for his award-winning work as a meteorologist and host of the weekday morning newscast at News 12 Connecticut. He won the 2007 New York Emmy award for television weather from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and he is a five-time Emmy nominee (1993, 2005, 2008, and 2010).

“This is where I belong and where I am meant to be,” said Piorek, who capped his illustrious 25-year television career last October. “I enjoy teaching middle-schoolers more than anything else. I love their energy, excitement, and personality. This is the perfect position for me. I am thrilled to be a part of the faculty at Greenwich Catholic School.”
Greenwich Catholic is not new to Piorek, however. He taught fifth grade at the school from 1990-95. During his previous tenure at GCS he won the Connecticut Teacher of the Year award from the state chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1993, served as the middle-school student council adviser, built and operated a school-run FM radio station, and coached a fourth-and fifth-grade boys baseball team.

“Mr. Piorek’s diverse background and enthusiasm for teaching have already made him a key addition to the GCS community,” said Principal Patrice Kopas. “We are very fortunate to have someone like him, who is committed not only to education, but also to his faith, join our outstanding faculty. Welcome home, Mr. Piorek.”

Bishop reflects on Papal visit
| September 22, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—In a few hours I will be traveling to Washington DC to prepare for this extraordinary week of grace and blessings for our Church and country.

Our Holy Father Francis will be arriving in our nation’s capital this afternoon and after briefly being welcomed by both the President and Vice-President, will retire to the residence of the apostolic nuncio to rest in anticipation of the start of five very busy days of pastoral activities and events.

I am thrilled to be able to participate in events scheduled in Washington DC, New York and Philadelphia. I have never met the Holy Father in person and I am hoping for that privilege at some point during these next five days.
Everywhere I go, people are talking about the Pope’s pastoral trip with sincerity and enthusiasm. He has captured the minds and hearts of believers and non-believers alike since he has started his Petrine service, by his accessibility, warmth, his understanding of the many difficulties faced by ordinary people and his message of compassion and mercy. He has also challenged us to recall that we form part of a global village which gives each of us a responsibility to care for everyone, especially the poor, sick, marginalized and immigrants, no matter where they live. It is a message that I am sure he will reinforce during his upcoming address to a joint session of Congress and during the General Assembly at the United Nations.
As a bishop and man of faith, the Pope’s presence also evokes in me a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for the enduring presence and power of Christ in and through our Catholic Church. For over 2,000, countless men, women, young people and children have remained firm in the Catholic faith that comes to us from the apostles. They have offered their minds, hearts, hands and will in service of the Lord Jesus, coming from every race, land, nation, continent, culture and ethnic group. As head of the Church who is Christ’s Mystical Body in the world, the Pope represents this unbroken chain of faithful witnesses, whose sacrifice has allowed us to receive the great gift of our Catholic faith. It is upon the shoulders of these witnesses that we stand. The pope’s arrival challenges us to take seriously the great responsibility that we have to remain faithful to Christ and being members of his Church, to pass on our Catholic faith, unblemished and true, to future generations.
Despite our challenges, problems and difficulties, the Catholic Church has endured and will forever endure because it is more than the people who belong to it. The Church will forever be greater than the sum total of its members, because it is Christ who leads us, animates us, unites us, empowers us and allows us to endure every sacrifice, even death, for Him. As Christ will forever endure, so will His Church. And to welcome the Pope in our midst, is to remember this great act of faith in Christ.
Welcome, Holy Father, as you bring the hopes, dreams, pains and sufferings of the entire Church and people of good will throughout the world. For you are the successor of Peter, the rock upon which the Church is built and against which no power on earth can prevail.

Also Read: Bishop Caggiano on Pope's First Morning in the U.S.

Grand Opening of New Covenant Center
| September 21, 2015


STAMFORD—More than 150 invited guests turned out for the Grand Opening of the new location of New Covenant Center last week.

Founded to serve the hungry and homeless and sponsored by Catholic Charities, New Covenant Center is one of the largest soup kitchens and food pantries in the state.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano was on hand for the blessing, dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony and praised NCC board, staff and donors for their concern for the poor and the good works they put in practice every day to serve the hungry and homeless of the greater Stamford area.
The program included testimonials from volunteers and recipients of services. Stamford’s Mayor David Marin, Catholic Charities CEO Al Barber andother communities leaders attended the dedication, which also marked the official name change from New Covenant House to New Covenant Center to reflect the comprehensive services offered at the new site.

John Gutman, is New Covenant Center Executive Director, while Paul Harinstein  serves as  New Covenant Center Board Chair. Hundreds of interfaith volunteers work throughout the year to feed the poor and hungry and create support for the center.

The Center opened in 1978 as a store-front soup kitchen. It has now reopened  as a state-of-the-art facility to serve thousands of needy and working poor from the Stamford metropolitan area. 

The New Covenant Center offers:

•    8,000-square-foot facility
•    Food Market - open several days per wk
•    State-of-the-Art Kitchen
•    Dining room w/ seating for 72
•    Computer & Job Training Center
•    Dedicated Case Worker & Medical Rm
•    Counseling Center
•    Laundry, Shower, Barber 

Center Serves:
•    250 guests receive breakfast, lunch & dinner daily
•    Open 365 days a year
•    250 families shop monthly in market
•    30 children receive snack at partnered women’s shelter
•    700,000 meals served annually

BACKGROUND: New Covenant Center is an inter-faith project of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County (CCFC). CCFC is the largest private social service provider in Fairfield County. Since 1916, CCFC has served all people through programs for the elderly, disabled, working poor and children. Connecticut has one of the biggest disparities between rich and poor. This Center gives people a chance to gain security and move forward. The NCC’s capital campaign raised nearly $1.4 million to create the new facility on Richmond Avenue. An additional $300,000 is needed to support the new initiatives. Guests can eat at the soup kitchen with no questions asked. To shop (for free) at the pantry, guests must complete an application and provide proof of income and residency. Families visit the food pantry once per month and receive enough food for 10 to 12 days.

Click for WSHU profile of the opening of New Covenant Center.

Celebration to air on Cablevision
| September 18, 2015


HARTFORD—The  Synod Celebration Mass will be broadcast on WCCTV Channel 20,  and on Cablevision Channel 84, on Sunday, September 20, from 10:30 am-12:30 pm on both stations.  

The Mass will also be streamed live on Saturday, September 19, beginning at 11 am. It will be available on the diocesan website:

Coverage of the closing Mass has been made possible by the Office of Radio and Television (ORTV) of the Archdiocese of Hartford under the leadership of Father John Gatzak, executive director of ORTV. The ORTV team, headquartered in its studios in Prospect, will bring its mobile unit and fully produce the taping and broadcast.

Father Gatzak, a noted TV and radio personality, will anchor the production. He will be joined in the anchor booth by Patrick Turner, deputy director of Synod 2014 and Deacon John DiTaranto, special assistant to Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.

“We’re very grateful to Father Gatzak and his team for bringing their broadcast experience and excellence to the taping of the Synod Mass. It is a gift to the entire diocese and one that will draw many more thousands in the mission and message of the synod. Through their efforts, we can share our work with people throughout Connecticut and across the U.S.,” said Bishop Caggiano.

The Office of Radio and Television of the Archdiocese of Hartford is best known in Fairfield County for its production of The Celebration of the Eucharist daily television Mass, which has returned to Cablevision Channel 84 and is broadcast every day of the week at 10 am.

The Celebration of the Eucharist is available to those who receive WCCT-TV, channel 20’s over the air signal, with an external antenna, or get WCCT on Dish TV or Direct TV service or from another local cable provider. It can also be viewed live each day at 10 am or on-demand at anytime at their website

(The offices and studios of ORTV and WJMJ Radio, a service of the Archdiocese of Hartford, are located at 15 Peach Orchard Road in Bethany.)                     

Thank you, Delegates!
| September 18, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—We are incredibly thankful for our dedicated, hardworking, and open-minded delegates who played a pivotal role in the Synodal process.

Thank you for walking this journey with us!  We are looking forward to seeing all of you at Webster Bank Arena tomorrow!

Papal music reflects joy and wonder
| September 17, 2015 • by By Paul Chu


MONROE—If you are planning to take a walk through the woods along the shores of Lake Zoar, the music you hear may prove to be more than bird songs.

“The trails are my studio and a lookout high over the lake is my office. It’s easy to write music when God has blessed me with such inspiring surroundings,” said composer and Monroe resident Julian Revie, whose Mass of the Divine Shepherd premiered at Carnegie Hall this past June. The Canadian-born Revie, a 2002 Yale graduate, returned to Connecticut in 2014 as composer-in-residence at the Center for Music and Liturgy of Saint Thomas More Chapel at Yale University. His commitment to music for liturgy, however, reaches back much further. “I’ve been performing pretty much weekly as a church organist since I was eleven.” Revie admitted.

This month, however, Revie will really be seeing his music brought out into the open air—but in a far different setting than the Monroe woods. His composition “The Love of God,” based on the seventh movement of Mass of the Divine Shepherd, has been selected as the Communion antiphon for the Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in Philadelphia, marking the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families, on September 27.

The Mass, which is itself the culminating public event of the papal visit, will likely attract as many as two million congregants to Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The piece will be sung by a massed choir of over three hundred adults and a children’s chorus, accompanied by the 90-member Philadelphia Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

“This spring, I traveled to Philadelphia to work with the children’s choir at the cathedral in preparation for the Mass of the Divine Shepherd. It was at that point that I was first invited to submit music for the papal Mass. The official acceptance for the The Love of God antiphon came in mid-June,” Revie explained. “I am grateful to everyone at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for this wonderful opportunity to offer my gifts to the glory of God.”

This has already been quite a year for Revie. The June 29 premiere of his Mass—the first major setting of the Mass in the revised English translation––was performed by over 650 choristers, instrumentalists and bell-ringers from around the world, and played to a nearly sold-out Carnegie Hall. Among those in attendance was Bridgeport’s own Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.

“I believe that the concert was a graced moment for everyone who attended. The music was magnificent, and the people who attended were clearly moved on many levels by their participation in the event,” Bishop Caggiano later commented.

“The Carnegie premiere, by itself, would have been a once in a lifetime experience. The prospect of my music literally reaching millions is almost unimaginable.” Revie reflected. “Yet there is something that ultimately strikes me even more.

“I wrote The Love of God as a meditation on Christ’s ultimate sacrifice of love. As such, it is written to assist the congregation in worthy preparation for communion. It begins with the chorus singing alone; then they are joined by the orchestra. But the real point of the piece, at least for me of radical, sacrificial love to which the children counsel were echoing through all humanity.”
“That this moment—the very moment when my music is being sung and played—coincides with Pope Francis as celebrant receiving the Eucharist… this intimate moment of communion between our Eucharistic Christ and His Vicar on earth… that’s just awesome to me.”
The Pope himself provides Revie with a particular point of inspiration. He adds, “In his recent encyclical Laudato si’, Pope Francis describes how ‘the Lord was able to invite others to be attentive to the beauty that there is in the world, because he himself was in constant touch with nature, lending it an attention full of fondness and wonder.’ Over hundreds of hours composing, walking the trails, I do feel I’ve grown closer to the Lord. Perhaps, by my music, I can share some of the inspiration of the lakes, birds, and trees of Monroe with Pope Francis and with the whole Church.”

‘Conversations of Faith’ set for arena scoreboard
| September 17, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—“Conversations of Faith,” a new video produced for the Synod Closing Celebration, will be among the many offerings provided during the “Praise and Worship” ceremony before the Mass officially begins at 11 am at Webster Bank Arena on September 19.

SEMINARIAN Dan Tome is among the men and women
throughout the diocese who reflect on their personal faith
journey and hopes for the diocese in the “Conversations of Faith”
video, which will be shown on the jumbotron of Webster Bank Arena
before the Synod Mass.

Praise and Worship, which gets underway at 9 am, will prepare the thousands who enter the arena that morning for Mass. The program includes music, prayer, and the video that celebrates the life of faith and the work of the synod.

The video, along with other live activities, will be shown on the giant digital scoreboard in the 8,500-seat arena.  

Produced in association with the Media Center of Fairfield University, the video features the personal testimony of synod delegates and other faithful who reflect on their own faith journey, the joy of evangelizing, and their hopes for the diocese as the synod begins implementing new programs and initiatives.

“It was an honor to be involved in the interviews and production of the synod video,” said Patrick Turner, deputy synod director. “Everyone we interviewed spoke from the heart and from the deep well of faith that animates their lives. I think all those who view these testimonies will be moved by their love for the Church, their deep faith, and their concern for others.”

Turner added, “We’re also grateful to Fairfield University for making their studio available and producing the video.”

The video was filmed by Joe Adams, a 2010 graduate of St. Joseph High School in Trumbull who studied film at the University of New Haven. Marisa Forziati, a Fairfield University graduate, served as video editor.

In addition to be shown on the jumbotron screen at the arena, the video will be available online on the diocesan website at

Synod choirs to lift high their voices
| September 16, 2015 • by By NINA M. RICCIO


BRIDGEPORT—“Top of the line, sopranos! One, two, and… Not bad, tenors. Altos, here we go! Hold those books up! Your lap will not appreciate how well you sing!”

Lifting their voices in praise, the Diocesan Synod Choir
rehearses under the leadership of music director Thomas Marino.
The choir combines 225 voices from parishes throughout the diocese
and includes the musical traditions of the many ethnic traditions
represented in the Church in Fairfield County. (Photo by Nina Riccio)

“Should we do it one more time? Say yes!”

Welcome to the Adult Choir rehearsal for the Synod Celebration Mass under the leadership of Thomas J. Marino, director of music ministries and organist at St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan.

His rapid-fire direction is laced with a constant thread of humor as he puts members of the Diocesan Synod Choir through their paces in preparation for the Synod Closing Mass and Celebration set for Saturday, September 19, at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.  

A praise and worship ceremony will begin at 9:15 am, with the Mass scheduled to start at 11 am.

Over 40 parish choirs will be singing during the celebration and have been practicing throughout summer. Many parish choirs average 25-30 people, with the combined Synod Diocesan Choir comprised or more than 225 voices from all over the diocese.

“The diocese is cognizant of its many ethnic communities, and we want the music to reflect that diversity,” said Marino. Spanish, Vietnamese, Haitian, Filipino, Polish, Brazilian Children, and Gospel choirs are currently rehearsing for the event. With some guidance from Marino, each choir chose its own music, and in some cases, the singers will be accompanied by percussion and other instruments common to that country.

The selections will be a mix of contemporary pieces and traditional hymnody, such as the recessional hymn, “O God, Beyond All Praising,” based on the hymn tune, “Thaxted” from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets.”  

One selection from the contemporary genre, “All Are Welcome,” has lyrics “that lend themselves to the welcoming of each person in one fashion or another to participate in this historic day in the life of our diocese,” and thus complements the theme of unity, said Marino.

Because this significant event in the life of the diocese is going to be held in a sports arena, “We need to create a holy place; we are essentially turning it into a cathedral for the day,” Marino explained.

To set the tone, he chose “Go Up to the Altar of God” for one of the processionals, which uses phrases from Psalms 43, 116, and 100. “The phrase ‘Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with songs of praise’ is just the feeling we want to convey.”

Before coming to St. Aloysius 11 years ago, Marino spent almost 18 years as the music director at St. Mary Parish in Greenwich. A native of The Bronx, he has a degree in music from Concordia College in Bronxville, N.Y., where he focused on liturgical music.  He went on to study music education at New York University and immersed himself in liturgical music at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J.  

Marino says the quality of the music for the closing celebration is of particular importance because during the listening sessions held throughout Fairfield County in advance of the synod, Catholics of all ages expressed the need for better, richer music during Mass.

“The mission of the synod is to foster a spiritual and pastoral renewal of our diocesan community and unity is one of the major guiding principles, the unity of all parishes within the diocese,” said Marino, who noted that music plays a role in the renewal.

Are there challenges in working with so many groups from so many parishes? Sure, Marino admitted.

“Although rehearsals began at the beginning of August, we’ve been talking, planning, and organizing for a year. The toughest part of this has been the logistics, gathering information from all the parishes, and connecting with all the music directors. But the choir members themselves have been wonderful. They’re enthusiastic and very giving of their time, which is significant since rehearsals are held twice a week for a couple of hours at a time.”  

For those who attend the Synod Closing Celebration Mass, it will be a day filled with music and prayer. The new Diocesan Youth Choir will make its debut under the direction of Mary Bozzuti Higgins of Wilton.

The music-filled day will also begin early in the morning when Bishop Caggiano meets with  diocesan youth ministries at St. Augustine Cathedral for prayer and Adoration before processing to the arena. Kevin Donovan, a lay Missionary of Charity at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown, will spearhead a portion of the music for this part of the celebration.

While the number of different choirs and voices singing during the day would be a daunting challenge for anyone, Marino is more than ready and has worked in the arena setting. In 2003, he was tapped by Bishop William E. Lori’s priest-secretary, Msgr. Dariusz Zielonka, to direct the music for the Diocesan Jubilee celebration.

Asked why he has devoted his life to the study and teaching of sacred music, Marino noted a phrase from the hymn “For God Beyond All Praising:”
“For Christ the man from heaven
From death has set us free,
And we through him are given
The final victory.”

“For me, it sums up my ministry. Every time I hear that line I’m reminded of why I do what I do,” he said.

Youth Choir to debut at Synod Mass
| September 15, 2015 • by By JOHN GROSSO


BRIDGEPORT—There will be much to celebrate on September 19 in Webster Bank Arena. Not only will thousands of people join together in celebration of the closing of the synod, the Diocesan Youth Choir, established in April, will make its debut after more than 12 weeks of rehearsals.

YOUTH CHOIR PREVIEW—Members of the Diocesan Youth Choir
ventured out to ORTV studios in Prospect recently to sing for
The Celebration of the Eucharist, the daily TV Mass now available
on Cablevision 12, Channel 84, every day of the week at 10 am.
Bishop Caggiano celebrated the Mass and praised choir members,
who will sing at the Synod Celebration Mass.

Choir director Mary Bozzuti Higgins has been hard at work preparing 78 young men and women spread across five different rehearsals each week for their debut at the Synod Closing Mass. “I am thrilled with their progress so far,” said Higgins, “I am amazed at their dedication and spirit, and I am very impressed with how quickly they have grown.”

The choir had their first real preview on August 19, when 22 of the choir members journeyed up to the Office of Radio and Television (ORTV) studios of the Archdiocese of Hartford to sing for the recorded Mass, which broadcasted on August 23.  Bishop Frank J. Caggiano was the celebrant for the Mass.

“The choir was phenomenal,” said the bishop shortly after the Mass, “and this is only the beginning!”

The TV Mass served as a small teaser for the two major upcoming performances of the Youth Choir, the first being on September 19 at the Synod Closing Celebration Mass and the next a special Christmas Concert later this year.

“I am excited to debut the choir at the Synod Closing Mass,” said Higgins, “This will be a beautiful opportunity to not only showcase the hard work of these young people, but to unite the diocese in hopeful and joyful song and prayer.”

Though the choir is primarily focused on preparing for the Synod Mass, they are already learning pieces for their Christmas Concert in December. Though Christmas may be four months away, Higgins is preparing them early. “I can’t think of a better way to honor the birth of Christ than through music and worship,” she said.

For now, though, all eyes are on Webster Bank Arena and the choir.

(Auditions for the Diocesan Youth Choir will re-open September 22-25. Choir auditions will take place at the already established rehearsal times and places. For more information email Mary Higgins .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

The Synod is all about people
| September 15, 2015


This op-ed by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano appeared in all Hearst Newspapers throughout Fairfield County last weekend.

A Time for Renewal and Joy  /  By Bishop Frank Caggiano

As we await the visit of Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, to United States, we also prepare for the closing celebration of our year-long Synod in the Diocese of Bridgeport, a process that was committed to renewal and several fundamental themes, including empowering the young church, building communities of faith, fostering outreach and promoting works of charity and justice.

From these guiding spiritual principles, we hope to move forward with fervor in a new direction as we culminate a year of listening and learning and prayer with the Synod Closing Mass of Thanksgiving at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport on September 19.
Throughout this Synod journey, all of us have been asking many of the same questions on the local level that the Catholic Church is exploring worldwide through the Papal Synod on the Family and the upcoming World Meeting of Families, which is bringing the Holy Father to the United States.
I believe our Synod Thanksgiving Mass will be a historic day for the Diocese of Bridgeport, not simply because more than 8,000 people will gather in one place for praise and worship, but because through the hard work and discernment of the delegates, we have outlined a plan that will shape us as a people of faith in Fairfield County for years to come.
The Synod has not been about changing our teachings, but about how we are going to live our discipleship as the world around us changes and becomes more privatized and more indifferent; as religion becomes more suspect in a culture where spirituality is still alive, and as people search for God but are ambivalent about whether or not they need us as an organized religion. In many ways, we, like many other faiths, are confronting a culture that takes us back to the early missionary times. It requires that we do things in a different way to reach people, particularly members of the Millennial Generation, and to make our parishes vital centers of faith and community.
A recent national study by Public Religion Research Institute found what we discovered during the Synod process: Catholics are a diverse group sometimes separated by age, generation, ethnicity and politics in their relationship to the Catholic Church—and yet they are united in their admiration for Pope Francis and his view of the Church as a place for mercy and reconciliation.
The proposals that came out of the Synod were a response to the many challenges and hopes that were identified by people of faith across the diocese, which are shared by others across the country: engaging and inspiring the young Church, welcoming people back, integrating new arrivals, deepening the faith of those in the pews, and creating faithful and love-filled parish communities.
Among the many initiatives in the final Synod document that I will sign at the end of our Celebration Mass are:
•    The establishment of a Diocesan Liturgical  Commission that will not only renew our music ministry but in a larger sense reinvigorate our entire life of worship in the diocese.
•    Pastoral initiatives to support couples in their marriages and to reach out to the divorced and separated
•    A strategic and pastoral planning process that will strengthen our schools and parishes and make the Catholic Center more effective in serving people across the diocese
I would also like to mention two major initiatives that give me much hope for the future. The first is the development of a Catholic Service Corps that will offer young people concrete opportunities to serve in the name of Jesus those who are needy, poor, alone or struggling. My hope is that through the use of social media, our youth will experience a tsunami of service that transforms them and those they serve.
A second important outcome is the creation of a Catholic Leadership Institute that will foster ongoing, systematic formation and support for all current Church leaders, including clergy, religious and laity, and assist them in their various pastoral works. Discipleship is not a spectator sport. Every Catholic is called to be actively engaged in the ministry of the Church, and our Leadership Institute will give them the spiritual and pastoral tools they need to accomplish this.
I am particularly proud to say that during our upcoming celebration, people throughout the diocese will hear for the first time the new 78-member youth choir that grew out of the work of the Synod, which has been the catalyst for so much change. They will be joined by ethnic choirs performing music that is Gospel, Brazilian, Filipino, Haitian, Italian and Spanish—all of them reflecting and celebrating our diversity and vibrancy as a diocese.
When we speak of our “closing Mass,” we are talking about the closing of one chapter of the diocesan Synod and opening the next, which will implement our ideas and cultivate the seeds of faith we plant so they bear fruit. There is a need to celebrate this in a big way, and there is no better way than for us to gather as a community of faith, with our friends in Webster Bank Arena.
We hope that each seat is filled by people who are excited about being Catholic, who believe in the future of our Church, and who want to show the world that the Church is alive and well and on a path to spiritual renewal.
In the end, the Synod is all about people—people at worship, people in service, people unlocking their leadership gifts and talents and people forming vibrant faith communities that draw others to them through the strength of their love and joy. My lasting gratitude goes to our Synod delegates, to the faithful of the Diocese, and to all people of good will who will join us for this joyful celebration.

Youth build Lighthouse of Food for the needy
| September 14, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Four hours of intricate teamwork. An eight-foot tall elaborate structure of non-perishable food, carefully set into an island of vegetables, rice and beans, pasta, and mac & cheese.

And behind all this, months of planning, dozens of food drives and uncountable efforts of teens from all over the diocese.

This is the Lighthouse of Food, a showpiece of the Synod Celebration Mass at Webster Bank Arena on September 19.

“The Lighthouse of Food is an opportunity for the high school age youth of the diocese to more fully participate in the Synod Celebration and, at the same time, to engage in a service project that will help the needy of Fairfield County,” explains Patrick Turner, deputy synod director. “The goal of the project is to demonstrate a Church of love, action, mercy and service.”

The lighthouse is one of the iconic images of Connecticut, one that draws people home to a safe harbor, a place of security. It represents a beacon of hope for the needy, made a reality by the cans, boxes and bags of food to be donated to area food pantries.

Chris Otis, director of youth and family ministry at St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan, has been coordinating the Lighthouse of Food project. In addition to the main lighthouse for the Synod Celebration Mass, she encouraged all parish youth ministers to sponsor their own youth food drives prior to the September 19 celebration.

“This is the perfect way to involve youth at the parish level and be part of this initiative,” she says. “Parish food drives can benefit a food pantry or program they already support, a sister parish that might be in need or one of the Catholic Charities programs.”

She sent each parish plans for building a “mini” replica of the collaborative lighthouse structure—parish lighthouse replicas are four feet tall—and suggested they might want to build a food structure representative of their own parish.

Parish youth groups will be sending teams of teens to the Webster Bank Arena on September 18 to help construct the final version of the Lighthouse of food. All attending the Synod Celebration Mass will see this shining beacon of the faith of all the youth of the diocese.

As Otis notes with pride in their work, “This day, and this project, is a perfect way for our teens to witness that they put their faith into action.”           

Funeral arrangements finalized for Father McKenna
| September 14, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Funeral arrangements have been announced for Father Colin McKenna, who passed away last week. He was 51 years old.

He was born on June 14, 1964, in Bridgeport. He grew up Westport, attending Saugatuck Elementary and Bedford Junior High Schools, and graduated from Fairfield Prep.

He attended the University of Vermont, majoring in English and spending his junior year in Ireland at the University College in Cork. He received his Masters of Arts in Teaching from Sacred Heart University.

Before entering the seminary, Father McKenna was a teacher in the Brooklyn, N.Y., school system and at Immaculate High School in Danbury. He also was a swim coach in New Fairfield and New Canaan.

He prepared for the priesthood at St. John Fisher Seminary and Pope John XXIII National Seminary, Boston. His ordination to the priesthood took place on May 29, 1999, at St. Augustine Cathedral.

As a deacon he served at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, Norwalk. His first assignment after ordination to the priesthood was a parochial vicar at St. Joseph Parish, Shelton. Subsequently he served in the same capacity at St. Roch Parish, Greenwich, and Sacred Heart Parish, Georgetown, He also served as a chaplain at St. Vincent Hospital in Westchester, N.Y., and at area nursing homes while residing at St. Peter Parish, Danbury and St. Mary Parish, Greenwich.

A talented writer, most recently Father McKenna was appointed to the staff of the Communications Office of the Diocese of Bridgeport, contributing numerous articles and posting engaging blog entries about faith and his life as a priest. His ability to relate his thoughts and ideas in writing vividly reflected his own deep Catholic spirituality, sensitivity and love of nature.

Father McKenna's body will be received at St. Augustine Cathedral on Monday, September 14, at 2 pm, where it will lie in state until the Vigil Mass at 5 pm. The celebrant will be Msgr. William Scheyd; Father Robert Crofut will give the homily.

Calling hours will be at St. Augustine Cathedral on Tuesday, September 15, from 9-10:30 am. The Mass for Christian Burial will follow at 11 am. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the main celebrant and homilist. Burial will follow at St. Michael Cemetery, Stratford, in the Priests' Circle.

Father McKenna is survived in this diocese by his mother, Tona McKenna and his brother, Eugene McKenna.

Bishop says men and women in uniform put their lives on the line every day
| September 13, 2015


NORWALK—While the images of Police, Fire and other rescue workers are seared into American consciousness after 9/11, many Americans are losing the spirit of unity and sacrifice that was very much alive that day, Bishop Frank Caggiano said at the Annual Blue Mass commemorating the terrorist attacks on the U.S.

“As time recedes, many of us have forgotten to do what Jesus asks us to do, but not the Police, Fire and EMS,” the bishop said. “We gather to honor them today because they have never forgotten the meaning of 9/11. “

More than 1,000 worshippers walked under the giant American flag suspended from a Norwalk ladder company truck into St. Matthew Parish to remember those who lost their lives on 9/11 and honor the Police, Fire, EMS, and other first responders from communities throughout Fairfield County.

The Bishop said the men and women who serve in uniform continue to put their lives on the line everyday “to do what they always do, respond courageously and generously when their fellow Americans are in need or threatened.”

Referring to the Epistle reading the bishop said, “ James tells us that God is love. To have faith without good works is dead. We cannot love God without loving each other, and on that day, love was made real before the face of evil.”

Noting that most Americans remember where they were on September 11, 2001, the Bishop said he was serving as pastor of St. Dominick’s Parish in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn and was in the rectory when the second tower fell.

The bishop told the gathering that he will never forget the silence during the evening after the towers had fallen. He had stepped out onto the sidewalk in front of the rectory to get some fresh air.

“There was a profound quiet over the city because all the buses and trains had been shut down and there was no air traffic. The city had come to a complete hush and the silence masked all that was going on,” the bishop said, as people who had walked for hours from Manhattan were taken in by all those eager to help.

“It was a day when strangers became friends and friends became brothers and sisters,” he said.

At the end of Mass, the Bishop and Msgr. Walter Orlowski, Pastor of St. Matthew Parish, presented certificates to this year’s honorees, while Fr. Charles Allen, Special Assistant to the President of Fairfield University and Blue Mass coordinator, read the citations from area police, fire and emergency chiefs who nominated the following for recognition: John Long of Bridgeport, a Fire Department dispatcher and Special Olympics volunteer; Newtown Police Canine Officer Felicia Figol, who started the Police Explorer Program; Greenwich police officers James Smith and Sergeant John Slusarz, for saving the life of a sanitation worker trapped in a trash compactor; Bridgeport Police Sergeant Gabe Meszaros for his leadership of the Police Explorer’s Club and his work with disadvantaged youth; Norwalk Police Officer Hector Delgado for performing several community-oriented projects during the year; Police Officer Joseph Steyer for organizing and administering multiple “Gun Buy Back Days” throughout the Stamford community; and Ridgefield Fire Captain Richard Lawlor for his leadership in delivering the highest level of emergency response in Fairfield County.

The bishop also called forward Fr. Richard Murphy, parochial vicar from St. Michael Parish in Greenwich and the newest priest chaplain in the diocese. The bishop surprised him by presenting his badge as police and fire chaplain in Greenwich.

Other priest chaplains throughout the diocese include Fr. Charles Allen, Fairfield EMS; Fr. Michael Boccaccio, Norwalk PD; Msgr. Laurence Bronkiewicz, Ridgefield, PD; Msgr. Stephen DiGiovanni, Stamford, PD; Fr. Bruce Roby; Stratford FD; Fr. Joseph Malloy, Bridgeport FD; Fr. Thomas Thorne, Westport Fire and Police; Fr. Francis Hoffmann, Noroton FD; Fr. Christopher Perrella, Noroton Heights FD; Deacon John Moranski, Bridgeport PD; Deacon William Murphy, Germantown FD; Fr. Raymond Petrucci, Danbury PD; Fr. Robert Post, Stamford Fire Rescue; Msgr. William Scheyd, New Canaan Emergency and Norwalk FD; Msgr. Richard Shea, Trumbull PD; Fr. Terrence Walsh, Stamford, PD; Fr. Frank Winn, Glenville, FD; Fr. Michael Dunn, Westport PD, FD; and Fr. Joseph Cervero, Redding PD.

After the awards were presented, a Norwalk policewoman sang an inspired and beautiful version of God Bless America, while the congregation joined in. It was followed by “taps” and “America the Beautiful” as the recessional hymn.

The final procession began with the flags of police, fire and emergencies companies throughout Fairfield County and an Honor Guard provided by the Knights of Columbus.

The annual Blue Mass is sponsored by the Fairfield County Knights of Columbus and Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus.

Click to see photos from the Blue Mass

Cooking with love
| September 13, 2015 • by By Max Bakke |


GREENWICH—The best Italian kitchen in Greenwich may actually be in one local priest’s small rectory in Chickahominy.

That kitchen, belonging to the Rev. Matthew Mauriello, a priest at St. Roch Church, is regularly serving fare that includes limoncello, manicotti crepes, antipasti and other signature Italian dishes to several of his brother priests and parishioners.

“My motto in life is this: faith, family, friends, food and fun,” said Mauriello, who will be featured on Sunday, Sept. 20, at 10 p.m. on a new Cooking Channel television show, “Holy & Hungry,” devoted to the exemplary cooking talents of some special, spiritual chefs. Cooking, he said, “is all an extension of love.”

“It’s about sharing love and fellowship and brotherhood. The more love you put into the cooking, the more love there is at the table; it becomes an extension of the love of Christ. Christ gives us his love, the meal at the altar, and we bring it over.”

Viewers who tune in to see “Holy & Hungry,” starring Sherri Shepherd as the show’s host, will witness what many members of Mauriello’s church have experienced in the six years since he arrived at St. Roch’s — a family-style Italian meal that tastes like it came out of a kitchen in Naples, not Greenwich.

On Mauriello’s menu will be white bean hummus, bruschetta, eggplant caponata and his famous manicotti crepes, among other dishes, he said. Born into a traditional Italian family, Mauriello said his first experiences in the kitchen came from watching his two grandparents. Watching became helping, and soon Mauriello had built himself a strong repertoire of his family dishes.

“Even though I had homework on the kitchen table, one eye was always on the sink or the stove and this and that,” he said. “So I was still doing my arithmetic and my geography, but there was always cooking going on.”

Mauriello said he discovered a kindred spirit in the kitchen while serving as a priest in Danbury when he met Franca Bosio Bertoli in 1992. The duo bonded over their shared Italian heritage and passion for cooking. From there, together they embarked on a decades-long effort to write a cookbook stuffed with the recipes they learned from their childhood and modern takes on a few classics. “From a Rectory Kitchen: Cooked and Served in the Joy of the Lord” was self-published in companion with a faith-based press in 2012. The work contains more than 300 recipes of dishes from all around Italy. His recipes hail from the south, and Bertoli's represent the northern part of the country.

Cooking for his parishioners is a way for him to spread God’s love, Mauriello said, but also a way for him to show his appreciation to the volunteers.

“They’re working hard and volunteering and this is my way to thank them and treat them and have getting-to-know-you time and I think that’s a good thing,” he said. “What’s better than having a nice meal with someone who knows how to cook?”

Mauriello said he also relishes the freedom that being in the kitchen gives him. He’s able to experiment and indulge an artistic side that, for him, includes looking for modern takes on classic dishes.

“It’s the creative element,”he added. “The activity of going to the store and chopping and cooking and remembering a recipe or say putting something new together.

“My sister lives in Milan, Italy, so sometimes I go there and taste a dish (and) I’ll bring it over. So what I do is, when I taste something different or new I want to recreate it or like make it my own.”

That includes his manicotti crepes, a lighter version of a more traditional dish that’s become a favorite among those who’ve eaten Mauriello’s cooking.

So what did Shepherd think of the crepes?

“Oh, she loved them. She said it was like eating a feather, it’s so light,” he said. “She’s a cutie pie. We had a lot of fun together.”

But just as important as winning the approval of the host was the “validation” that came from the positive feedback from the professional chefs behind the cameras, according to Mauriello.

“At the end of the whole thing I said to the food designer it’s been such a thrill to cook with you and to cook with a real chef from the Culinary Institute. … I love being a priest, but a piece of my heart would’ve loved to go to a culinary school,” Mauriello said. “And he said, ‘Oh, Father, you don’t need culinary school, you are a chef.’

“It was such a blessing to hear that from a culinary graduate.”

The Cooking Channel’s “Holy & Hungry” follows Sherri Shepherd, former co-host of “The View,” as she encounters people whose love for cooking is matched by their passion for their faith. The episode featuring Father Matthew Mauriello and his manicotti crepes airs Sunday, September 20, at 10 pm.

A week of novenas to launch Synod celebration
| September 12, 2015


BRIDGEPORT— In preparation for the Synod Mass Celebration on Saturday September 19, at Webster Bank Arena, Bishop Frank Caggiano has asked called for a week of Novenas at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.

The first Novena was held last night at the Cathedral, and there will be a Novena to the Holy Spirit at St. Augustine Cathedral held each evening at 7pm from Friday, September 11 through Friday night, September 18. Each Novena will include prayer, readings and song. The Novenas will be led by priests throughout the diocese. Each service will be about an hour and a half in length.

The final Novena will be held next Saturday morning at 7 am, before Bishop Caggiano is joined by area youth in a procession throughout downtown Bridgeport from St. Augustine’s to Webster Bank Arena for the Synod Closing Celebration Mass.

"We encourage everyone to consider joining us in prayer and anticipation for the Synod Mass and to pray for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit,” said Patrick Turner, Deputy Director of Synod 2014.

Blue Mass set for Tomorrow in Norwalk
| September 12, 2015 • by By BRIAN D. WALLACE


NORWALK—The Annual Diocesan Blue Mass honoring fire, police and rescue workers will be held on September 13 at 12 noon at St. Matthew Church, 216 Scribner Avenue, Norwalk.

A reception immediately following Mass will be held in the Blanchard Center on parish grounds.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the main celebrant, along with diocesan priests who serve as police and fire chaplains in Fairfield County. Father Charles Allen, SJ, special assistant to the president of Fairfield University, is serving as chair of the event.

Law enforcement, fire and emergency medical service personnel of all faiths in Fairfield County, along with members of the general public, are invited to attend the Mass and reception.

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 tragedy in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

Since that time, the Blue Mass has grown into a moving and memorable commemoration of the courage and commitment of the uniformed personnel who protect our health and safety every day of the year in Fairfield County. The Fairfield County councils and assemblies of the Knights of Columbus are sponsoring the Mass again this year.

Police, fire and other first responders to be honored at this year’s Blue Mass are John Long of Bridgeport, a Fire Department dispatcher and Special Olympics volunteer; Newtown Police Canine Officer Felicia Figol, who started the Police Explorer Program; Greenwich police officers James Smith and Sergeant John Slusarz, for saving the life of a man trapped in a trash compactor; and Bridgeport Police Sergeant Gabe Meszaros for his leadership of the Police Explorer’s Club and his work with disadvantaged youth.

Also to be recognized are Norwalk Police Officer Hector Delgado for performing several community-oriented projects during the year; Police Officer Joseph Steyer for organizing and administering multiple “Gun Buy Back Days” throughout the Stamford community; and Ridgefield Fire Captain Richard Lawlor for his leadership in delivering the highest level of emergency response in Fairfield County.

At last year’s Blue Mass, Bishop Caggiano thanked the uniformed officers for their service, “which is Christ-like in its mission to protect others from harm, never to abandon them in need and often to suffer with those they try to save.”

(To learn more about this event, contact Debbie Charles: 203.416.1352; Father Charles Allen: 203.254.4000, ext. 2316; or the Diocese of Bridgeport: 203.416.1358.)

Rally Bus Adds New Locations
| September 12, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Due to the strong interest in attending the Papal Mass in Philadelphia on Sunday September 27, Rally Bus has added new departure and arrival times and places throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport, according to Tyler Lomnitzer, who has organized the trips.

Lomnitizer said more than 107 people have registered and people continue to sign up for the excursion.

Some projections call for as many as 2 million people descending on the city for the Papal Mass. Tickets are not required for the outdoor Mass, with the faithful lining Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Departure locations and times:

Immaculate HS in Danbury 7:13 am
St.Theresa's Parish in Trumbull, 7:17 am
Fairfield Prep, 7:25 am
St. Aloysius in New Canaan, 7:36 am
Trinity Catholic HS in Stamford, 7:46 am

Rally Bus has authorization to drive directly into the city, which will otherwise see restricted access for cars and other vehicles.

The buses will arrive at Lincoln Financial Field, approximately four miles away from Ben Franklin Pkwy, where Mass is being celebrated. Shuttle buses and/or subway service will be available to bring riders closer.

Rally Bus provides Wi-Fi, on-board bathroom and air-conditioning.

For ticket cost and information Visit: or call 855-RALLYBUS (855.725.5928).

Immaculate High School reflects and remembers
| September 11, 2015


DANBURY—Immaculate High School reflects and remembers alumnus and FDNY firefighter Chris Blackwell '77, alumna Candace Lee Williams ’99 who was a passenger on the American Airlines flight #11, and the more than 3,000 innocent people at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and at the fields of Shanksville, Pennsylvania who passed away tragically fourteen years ago today.

Read Bishop Caggiano's moving reflection on 9/11


Today, on the 14th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, I ask all to join me in prayer for all of the victims, their families, and the heroic first responders.

I am sure everyone can still remember exactly where they were on that horrible day. The images of chaos and destruction are as fresh in our minds today as they were 14 years ago. I know that many from our Diocese lost loved ones, neighbors, and friends. We ask the Lord to hold them and all who died in His loving embrace and infinite mercy.

However, the images of incredible heroism and true selflessness are equally unforgettable. For on that day, we not only saw the worst of humanity, but we saw the very best: first responders running into the towers selflessly, average people joining together to help in any way that they could, millions of from every city, every state, and many countries coming together in prayer. Despite the horrors that day brought, we saw our Lord at work. We were reminded that day that even in such trial, we are never alone. God is with us, always.

We can draw strength today from the memory of the huge steel cross that uncovered in the mist and fog of dust that settled over the World Trade Centers. As the nation watched in anxiety and sadness, the workers found an enormous gift, an act of grace, when they came upon the cross made of the mangled steel that had been at the very fiber of one of the towers.

We remember everyone affected by this tragedy in our prayers today. We pray for the United States, and we pray that such a horrors will not happen again in any part of the World. The lesson we must draw to ourselves in the aftermath of 9/11 is that Christ is never closer to us then in the moment of our suffering, and Our Lord stands in solidarity with us. As Christians we must learn to live in the shadow of the cross, but the story does not end at the Cross but goes on to the resurrection and new life. Our story ends in the victory of God over violence and all those things that are not of him. It is well that we remember that is not a broken heart in this world that does not find a place in the heart of Jesus.

St. Catherine of Siena Children sent 39 boxes of items to Soldiers in Iraq
| September 11, 2015


RIVERSIDE—When our office assistant, Betty Lundgren, mentioned her nephew, CPT Matthew Carstensen was going to do a third tour in Iraq, St. Catherine of Siena Faith Formation program began collecting items that the soldiers may appreciate.

Along with the care packages, the children made cards and wrote letters to the soldiers. The following is a thank you note and pictures of the men holding the cards, letters, and the open care packages. The letter speaks for itself.

To the St. Catherine's Religious Education staff, students and parishioners:

On behalf of the soldiers, sergeants and officers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, please accept our sincere and heartfelt thanks for care packages you've provided us over the last few months. Little items like granola bars and hard candy are a welcome reminder of home, and the sundry items help us shed the dust and sweat from the oppressive Iraqi heat. Moreover, notes from children remind us of why we do what we do - to Maeve C, Kate M, George DB, Connor DC and everyone else, thank you so much for your beautiful pictures, unapologetically American sticker collections and inspiring messages. If you'll allow me, I'd like to personally address "some kid in America":

Dear Some Kid,

First, I want you to know that I'm just like you. I went to St Catherine's for Religious Ed, I cheered on my friends when they needed support, and I too sat on the couch and played games when I was younger - admittedly, you'd have to look in the antique store to find my games. I tell you that because you're not SUPPOSED to fly across the world and face danger and sacrifice your comfortable life with your family. Your duty right now is to grow up, to study everything you can, to learn how to be a good person, and to appreciate the things you have. Based on your letter, I'd say you're doing a great job accomplishing those tasks. Keep it up!

Your friend, Soldier

Again, thank you all for your prayers and support. We are only able to help the Iraqi people and assist the Iraqi Security Forces combat a ruthless, dedicated and evil enemy because of the support we receive from people like you.

Very Respectfully,

CPT Matthew Carstensen
A&A Operations Advisor
NOC, Iraqi Ground Forces Command
3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division

Statement on the passing of Fr. Colin McKenna
| September 10, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—The Diocese is shocked and profoundly distressed to learn of Fr. Colin McKenna’s tragic death yesterday in Westport.

Our condolences go out to his family and friends, his brother priests, and all those who will feel his loss.

Bishop Caggiano has asked for prayers for Fr. Colin and for his family during this most difficult time.  “This is a great tragedy for our diocese, which Fr. Colin faithfully served throughout his priesthood. I would ask people to please pray for the repose of Fr. Colin’s soul and the consolation of his family.”

For much of the past two years, Fr. McKenna, 50, served as a writer and editor in the Communications Office of the Diocese of Bridgeport. He also helped out in many area parishes, celebrating Masses on weekends.

Fr. McKenna was ordained to the priesthood by the Most Rev. Edward M. Egan, third Bishop of Bridgeport, in May 1999.  A native of Westport, he was a 1982 graduate of Fairfield Preparatory School and later graduated from the University of Vermont. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from Pope John XXIII Seminary in Weston, MA in 1999.

Fr. McKenna’s first assignment was as Parochial Vicar of St. Joseph Parish in Shelton.  He also served as Sacred Heart Parish in Georgetown, St. Roch Parish in Greenwich, St. Mary Parish in Greenwich, and in other parishes throughout the Diocese.

The bishop will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial. Funeral arrangements will be announced later this week. 

Pope simplifies annulment process, asks that it be free of charge
| September 08, 2015 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY (CNS)—While a juridical process is necessary for making accurate judgments, the Catholic Church’s marriage annulment process must be quicker, cheaper and much more of a pastoral ministry, Pope Francis said.

Rewriting a section of the Latin-rite Code of Canon Law and of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, Pope Francis said he was not “promoting the nullity of marriages, but the quickness of the processes, as well as a correct simplicity” of the procedures so that Catholic couples are not “oppressed by the shadow of doubt” for prolonged periods.

The Vatican released Sept. 8 the texts of two papal documents, “Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus” (“The Lord Jesus, the Gentle Judge”) for the Latin-rite church and “Mitis et misericors Iesus,” (“The Meek and Merciful Jesus”) for the Eastern Catholic churches.

The changes, including the option of a brief process without the obligatory automatic appeal, go into effect Dec. 8, the opening day of the Year of Mercy.

The rules for the Latin and Eastern churches are substantially the same since the differences in texts refer mainly to the different structures of the hierarchy with Latin churches having bishops and Eastern churches having eparchs and patriarchs.

Pope Francis said the changes in the annulment process were motivated by “concern for the salvation of souls,” and particularly “charity and mercy” toward those who feel alienated from the church because of their marriage situations and the perceived complexity of the church’s annulment process.

The new rules replace canons 1671-1691 of the Code of Canon Law and canons 1357-1377 of the Eastern code. Pope Francis also provided a set of “procedural regulations” outlining how his reforms are to take place, encouraging bishops in small dioceses to train personnel who can handle marriage cases and spelling out specific conditions when a bishop can issue a declaration of nullity after an abbreviated process.

Those conditions include: when it is clear one or both parties lacked the faith to give full consent to a Catholic marriage; when the woman had an abortion to prevent procreation; remaining in an extramarital relationship at the time of the wedding or immediately afterward; one partner hiding knowledge of infertility, a serious contagious disease, children from a previous union or a history of incarceration; and when physical violence was used to extort consent for the marriage.

The reformed processes were drafted by a special committee Pope Francis established a year earlier. Among the criteria he said guided their work, the first he listed was the possibility of there being “only one executive sentence in favor of nullity” when the local bishop or judge delegated by him had the “moral certainty” that the marriage was not valid. Previously an appeal was automatic and a declaration of nullity had to come from two tribunals.

Msgr. Pio Vito Pinto, dean of the Roman Rota, a Vatican court, and president of the commission that drafted the new rules, told reporters that Pope Francis asked for updates throughout the year, sought a review by four “great canonists” not involved in the drafting and in the end adopted the changes with “great seriousness, but also great serenity.”

The changes made by Pope Francis, particularly the responsibility and trust placed in local bishops, are the most substantial changes in the church’s marriage law since the pontificate of Pope Benedict XIV in the mid-1700s, Msgr. Pinto said. Even with the 1917 and 1983 new Codes of Canon Law, the process for recognizing the nullity of a marriage remained “substantially unchanged,” he said.

“Putting the poor at the center is what distinguishes the reform of Pope Francis from those made by Pope Pius X and Pope Benedict XIV,” Msgr. Pinto said. In fact, Pope Francis ordered that the “gratuity of the procedure be assured so that, in a matter so closely tied to the salvation of souls, the church—by demonstrating to the faithful that she is a generous mother—may demonstrate the gratuitous love of Christ, which saves us all.”

Pressed by reporters about how quickly the new procedures will go into effect in dioceses around the world, Msgr. Pinto said it will take some dioceses longer than others to adapt to the new norms and to find ways to finance their tribunals other than charging couples. People must remember, he said, that the canon lawyers who are not priests deserve to be compensated and need to support their families.

The rules are not retroactive, he said; however, any initial sentence issued Dec. 8 or later would fall under the new rules and not require an automatic appeal if both parties agree.

Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, who also was a member of the commission, insisted the pope’s new rules were not about “annulling marriages,” but about recognizing and declaring the nullity of a marriage, in other words, declaring that it never existed as a valid sacrament. Although the new rules remove the obligation that a declaration of nullity automatically be appealed, he said, it does not remove the right of one of the parties to appeal the decision. However, he said, “and this is a great innovation,” if the appeals court believes the appeal is “obviously a delaying tactic,” the appeals court can issue a decree confirming the nullity of the marriage without a full process.

Msgr. Alejandro Bunge, secretary of the commission and a member of the Roman Rota, said the new processes are motivated by recognition of the church as a “field hospital,” as Pope Francis has described it. “For those who have special injuries—a marriage null from the beginning—we will have intensive care” in the form of more rapid annulment procedures.

While many marriage cases will continue to require time in order to arrive at the truth, he said, the longer procedure will be reserved to those cases in which it is not obvious that the marriage was null from the beginning and in which the couple does not agree that a real marriage never existed.

Byzantine Bishop Dimitrios Salachas of Greece, also a member of the commission that drafted the new rules, said they were urgent for his Eastern church. Some 90 percent of his married faithful are married to a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, which permits second marriages under special penitential provisions.

Most Catholics who have divorced an Orthodox “don’t wait years and years” for the Catholic Church’s double declaration of nullity, he said. “They just leave,” finding it easier to follow the Orthodox Church’s procedures and begin a second union in the Orthodox Church.

The changes, he said, “were necessary, including to keep the Catholics” in the church.

Labor Day Statement 2015 | United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
| September 04, 2015


FLORIDA—Families have been receiving a lot of attention recently. In his encyclical, Laudato Si', Pope Francis teaches that of all the groups that play a role in the welfare of society and help ensure respect for human dignity, "outstanding among [them] is the family, as the basic cell of society" (no. 157).

Yet, scarcely a week goes by without a news story highlighting that fewer young adults are choosing to start families than ever before in America. Not long ago, jobs, wages, and the economy were on everyone's mind. Unemployment, poverty, and foreclosures soared as Americans worried, rightly, if we could ever recover. Even with some economic progress, things have not truly improved for most American families. We must not resign ourselves to a 'new normal' with an economy that does not provide stable work at a living wage for too many men and women. The poverty rate remains painfully high. The unemployment rate has declined, yet much of that is due to people simply giving up looking for a job, not because they have found full-time work. The majority of jobs provide little in the way of sufficient wages, retirement benefits, stability, or family security, and too many families are stringing together part-time jobs to pay the bills. Opportunities for younger workers are in serious decline.

The continuing struggles of most families to make ends meet are on display before our eyes, both at home and abroad. This Labor Day, we have a tremendous opportunity to reflect on how dignified work with a living wage is critical to helping our families and our greater society thrive.

Our Families Need Help and Support

Labor should allow the worker to develop and flourish as a person. Work also must provide the means for families to prosper. "Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfilment" (no. 128). Work is meant to be for the sake of the family. We do not undertake labor for its own sake, but as a way to grow toward lasting and meaningful realities in our lives and communities. Parents are called to be providers and educators to their children, passing down essential values and creating a home environment in which all members of the family can be fully present to one another and grow. Dignity-filled work and the fruits of that labor nourish families, communities, and the common good.

Is there any question that families in America are struggling today? Too many marriages bear the crushing weight of unpredictable schedules from multiple jobs, which make impossible adequate time for nurturing children, faith, and community. Wage stagnation has increased pressures on families, as the costs of food, housing, transportation, and education continue to pile up. Couples intentionally delay marriage, as unemployment and substandard work make a vison of stable family life difficult to see.

Is there any question that too many children feel the tragic pangs of hunger and poverty commonplace in a society that seems willing to accept these things as routine, the cost of doing business? Millions of children live in or near poverty in this country. Many of them are latch key kids, returning to empty homes every day as their working parents struggle to make ends meet.

Our Human Family is Wounded

Pope Francis continues to rouse our consciences and challenge us to live more thoroughly Catholic lives. Laudato Si' is, in large part, about something called "integral ecology," an idea that our care for and relationships with one another deeply impact our care for the environment, and vice-versa. The Pope writes extensively about the importance of work in that context. "We were created with a vocation to work" (no. 128), and "the analysis of environmental problems cannot be separated from the analysis of human, family, work-related and urban contexts, nor from how individuals relate to themselves, which leads in turn to how they relate to others" (no. 141). Reminding us that "called into being by one Father, all of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion which fills us with a sacred, affectionate and humble respect," he calls for a "sense of fraternity [that] excludes nothing and no one" (nos. 89-92).

Labor is one important way we honor our brothers and sisters in God's universal human family. In the creation story, God gives us labor as a gateway into participation with Him in the ongoing unfolding of creation. Human labor, at its best, is a deeply holy thing that ought to honor our dignity as we help God "maintain the fabric of the world" (no. 124, citing Sir 38:34).

This Labor Day, the violation of human dignity is evident in exploited workers, trafficked women and children, and a broken immigration system that fails people and families desperate for decent work and a better life. How do we participate in this wounding of human dignity, through choices about the clothes we wear, food we eat, and things we buy--most of which is unaffordable to the very workers who make it? Do we give a thought to this truth, that for our wants to be met, economic realities are created that cause others to live in ways that we ourselves would not? How can we advance God's work, in the words of the Psalmist, as he "secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, [and] sets captives free" (Ps 146:7)? These are difficult questions to ask, yet we must ask them.

Our Path Forward

We share one common home as part of a larger, single family, so the dignity of workers, the stability of families, and the health of communities are all intertwined. The path to a renewed society is built on authentic solidarity and rooted in faith. It rejects the individualism and materialism that make us indifferent to suffering and closed to the possibility of encounter.

Individual reflection and action is critical. We are in need of a profound conversion of heart at all levels of our lives. Let us examine our choices, and demand for ourselves and one another spirits of gratitude, authentic relationship and true concern. Pope Francis reminds us that "Saint Therese of Lisieux invites us to practise the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship . . . [and] break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness" (no. 230). The changes we make to how we live and interact with each other can help change the world.

Yet individual effort should not stand alone. Our faith calling to love one another impels us to share that vision of charity and justice with others, and to go forth and encounter those at the margins. Through collective action and movements, we have to recommit ourselves to our brothers and sisters around the world in the human family, and build systems and structures that nurture family formation and stability in our own homes and neighborhoods. Sufficient decent work that honors dignity and families is a necessary component of the task before us, and it is the Catholic way.

In demanding a living wage for workers we give hope to those struggling to provide for their families, as well as young workers who hope to have families of their own someday. Unions and worker associations, as with all human institutions, are imperfect, yet they remain indispensable to this work, and they can exemplify the importance of subsidiarity and solidarity in action.

This Labor Day and always, let us pray, reflect, and act, seeking to restore our work and relationships to the honored place God has ordained for them.

Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami
Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development

Rev. Rolando Torres installed as St. Mary’s New Pastor
| September 04, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—The August 29th 4 pm vigil Mass at St. Mary’s Church in Bridgeport was no ordinary Mass.

It was not ordinary, even though the ordinary of the Diocese of Bridgeport—Bishop Frank Caggiano—was presiding. This was an extraordinary Mass because it was the Mass to install St. Mary’s new pastor, Rev. Rolando Torres.

With the retirement of the previous pastor, Msgr. Matthew Bernnelli, this will mark the first time in 35 years that St. Mary’s has had a new pastor.

The congregation packed the circular-style church, and it was standing room only. The choir was in full-voice accompanied by musicians who could carry the predominantly Spanish music with great style. Many of their songs had the congregation joyfully clapping to the beat.

The liturgical procession included 3 altar-servers, 7 Knights of Columbus, 5 seminarians, 8 priests and Bishop Caggiano.

During his homily, the bishop said that “the Lord wants us to live a life of goodness, a life of love.” And that “as Catholic Christians, we need to live the letter and spirit of the law.”

During his installation, Fr. Torres renewed his priestly promises before everyone present and signed his allegiance to the teachings and leaders of the Church.

When it came time for his remarks, Fr. Torres made sure to thank God and everyone who had made this day possible. He pointed out his mother and extended family, and he said, “I love you Mom!”

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Fr. Torres proclaimed that he has been called “to serve all people,” although he cannot hide the special love he has for the people from his country of origin.

Parishioners from Greenwich, Stamford and Shelton were present at the Mass in significant numbers, giving witness to their fondness for Fr. Torres, and in appreciation for his service as parochial vicar to their parish communities.

All were invited to a dinner reception in the parish hall, and once again, it was standing room only. Another spanish-flavored band took over where the choir had left off, and the food was of the Spanish variety, cooked exquisitely and delicious.

At the reception, Fr. Torres grabbed the microphone from time to time to say something that would make everyone laugh, and he devoted himself to greeting well-wishers.

For dessert, the reception planners decided to go with something very American—cake and ice cream!

Fr. Torres has the youthful energy to take St. Mary’s to great heights. Our prayers are with him and the good people of St. Mary’s Parish.

Priests in U.S., Canada can already absolve women who had abortions
| September 03, 2015 • by By Nancy O'Brien, Catholic News Service


BALTIMORE—Pope Francis’ September 1 announcement that priests worldwide will be able to absolve women for the sin of abortion will have little effect on pastoral practices in the United States and Canada, where most priests already have such authority in the sacrament of reconciliation.

A priest blesses a woman as he hears confession during
a 2013 outdoor Mass in Madrid. Pope Francis has issued
a letter offering a series of instances in which absolution
can be granted during the Year of Mercy.
(CNS photo | Emilio Naranjo, EPA)

“It is my understanding that the faculty for the priest to lift the ‘latae sententiae’ excommunication for abortion is almost universally granted in North America,” said Don Clemmer, interim director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“Latae sententiae” is a Latin term in canon law that means excommunication for certain crimes, including involvement in abortion, is automatic. Clemmer said it is “the fiat of the local bishop” whether to allow the priests in his diocese to absolve those sins and most bishops granted such permission when giving priests faculties to minister in their local church.

Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany, New York, confirmed that in a September 1 statement welcoming what he called the pope’s “wonderful gesture.”

“The priests of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany and throughout the United States have ... had the faculties to lift the sanction of excommunication for the sin of abortion for more than 30 years,” he said. “Any woman who has had an abortion, any person who has been involved in an abortion in any way, can always seek God’s forgiveness through the sacrament of reconciliation, if they are truly sorry for their actions.”

Several prelates, including Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, emphasized that Pope Francis’ action “in no way diminishes the moral gravity of abortion.”

“What it does do is make access to sacramental forgiveness easier for anyone who seeks it with a truly penitent heart,” he said.

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said his “hope and prayer is that all those carrying the burden of an experience of abortion would turn to the church and her sacraments and experience the Lord’s mercy and love.”

He directed all those involved with an abortion—“wherever a person might be in their healing journey”—to look into the resources offered by Project Rachel or a similar post-abortion healing ministry in their dioceses. Contact information for most dioceses is available at (in Spanish at or through the national toll-free number, 888.456.HOPE.

Mary E. McClusky, assistant director of Project Rachel ministry development in the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, said it has been frustrating for her to see reports about Pope Francis’ action in the secular media that perpetuate “the false notion that the church excommunicates anyone” who has an abortion.

“They are making it sound like something new,” she said, “but the church has welcomed all sinners since the time of Jesus. ... It is at the heart of what it means to be a priest to extend that forgiveness.”

In addition to the sacrament of reconciliation, the U.S. church offers through Project Rachel “a confidential and safe place for women and men, for anyone who suffers from involvement with abortion, to tell their story, have someone listen and be relieved of all the emotional, spiritual and psychological pain they are experiencing from abortion,” McClusky said.

Project Rachel, which has existed since 1975 and was taken under the umbrella of the bishops’ conference in 2005, provides “opportunities for group healing” through support groups or retreats as well as referrals to licensed mental health professionals if needed, she said. But confession is at its heart, she added.

McClusky said the post-abortion healing programs respond to a need that the bishops have been hearing from people in the pews of their local churches. “A lot of people are in pain and in need of assistance to reconcile with God and come back to the church,” she said.

Catholic commentators and canon lawyers have raised a number of questions about Pope Francis’ action, including whether societal pressures and other extenuating circumstances surrounding an abortion would have kept it from rising to the level of an excommunication for the woman in most cases anyway. But further clarification from the Vatican would be needed to resolve that question.

Others, such as Catholic moral theologian Charles Camosy, noted that the pope’s words about abortion and forgiveness bore a striking resemblance to the words of Pope St. John Paul II in his 1995 encyclical, “Evangelium Vitae.”

Addressing women who have had abortions, Pope John Paul wrote, “If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the sacrament of reconciliation.”

New teaching or not, Albany’s Bishop Scharfenberger expressed hope that women will take advantage of this opportunity.

“The real news is that there is no need to wait,” he said. “God is ready to forgive and heal now!”

Click this link for information on Project Rachael in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Rally Bus to Papal Mass
| September 02, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Rally Bus will help organize transportation for people from the Diocese of Bridgeport who wish to attend the Papal Mass in Philadelphia on Sunday, September 27.

“Many people have contacted the diocese to ask if we are planning transportation to the Papal Mass, and we’re very pleased to make Rally Bus available to those who will make the pilgrimage,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.

“The Mass is open to all who can get there and we think bus transportation may be the best option giving the estimated two million people who will come out to greet our Holy Father.”

The bishop said he was grateful to Tyler Lomnitzer, a parishioner of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull, for helping to organize the transportation.

Lomnitzer said buses will depart from St. Theresa Parish in Trumbull around 7 am. Additional stops and starting points can be added if there is enough demand from other parishes. Rally Bus is flexible when it comes to creating and modifying bus routes, he said.
No tickets are necessary to attend this Mass.  

The Papal Mass is a monumental event in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States and is also likely to create a monumental traffic jam with heavy security measures in place and many highways and bridges closed to individual motorists and open only for bus access and pedestrians.

“Rally bus is definitely the best way to get into Philadelphia. It has authorization to drive directly into the city. We’re really excited about using Rally Bus to aid the Diocese of Bridgeport in its organizational efforts to help as many of its members as possible attend Mass celebrated by the Holy Father,” Lomnitzer said.

The buses will arrive at Lincoln Financial Field, approximately four miles away from Ben Franklin Pkwy., where Mass is being celebrated. There will be shuttle buses and/or subway service available to bring riders closer.

Rally Bus provides a comfortable way to ride, with Wi-Fi, on-board bathroom and air-conditioning. The final round trip fare will be determined based on the number of people who sign up for the bus. Organizers estimate that it will be in the area of $90 per person, reduced to $81 for those who take advantage of the discount.

(Members of the diocese can reserve their spot on a bus using the following link: Use the promo code “pilgrim” to attain a 10% discount off your ticket. Those interested in attending can also call 855-RALLYBUS (855.725.5928) to reserve a spot.)

Sacred Heart University announces creation of new Department of Catholic Studies
| September 01, 2015


FAIRFIELD—Sacred Heart University has announced the formation of a Department of Catholic Studies, the goal of which is to administer a key component of the University’s core curriculum, the seminars in the Catholic intellectual tradition, as well as an interdisciplinary minor in Catholic studies.

Chapel of the Holy Spirit mosaic at Sacred Heart University.

“Both symbolically and functionally, the establishment of the department affirms Sacred Heart University’s mission, its Catholic identity and the interdisciplinary nature of the Catholic intellectual tradition,” says Robin L. Cautin, dean of SHU’s College of Arts and Sciences. “At this moment in the university’s history, the Department of Catholic Studies is an organic development that affirms who we are as a Catholic university.”

Cautin says the new department will serve to connect interdisciplinary and intercollegiate collaboration in the service of engaging SHU students in the primary and affiliated texts related to the Catholic intellectual tradition.

“The creation of the Department of Catholic Studies underscores the University’s mission, notes Professor Michelle Loris, chair of the new department. “Because of the interdisciplinary and intercollegiate nature of Catholic studies, this is the only department intentionally dedicated to integrating the richness and breadth of the Catholic intellectual tradition for all students and faculty across the University. The vision and development of this department further positions the University as a leader in Catholic higher education.”

Working in concert with various University offices—such as Mission and Catholic Identity, Campus Ministry, Study Abroad and Service Learning—the new department will provide the structural basis from which to develop, implement and oversee curricular and co-curricular programs; create and nurture institutional partnerships; and pursue grant opportunities.

“The foundation of the Department of Catholic Studies is an important step in the growth of Sacred Heart University, and I look forward to seeing this interdisciplinary effort grow in its mission in the coming years,” says SHU President John J. Petillo. “The new department is a reflection of a broader change that is represented by the new core curriculum. This will also specifically enhance students’ experience and understanding of the Catholic intellectual tradition.”

For additional Sacred Heart University news, please visit

Click to read an article on SHU's class of 2019!

Sacred Heart University welcomes class of 2019
| September 01, 2015


FAIRFIELD—28,000 applications over last three years leads to an average freshman class size of 1,332; graduate student growth to 3,000 leads to total enrollment of nearly 8,000.

Students embrace after reuniting on move-in weekend
at Sacred Heart University. Photo by Tracy Deer-Mirek

With 1,316 students, Sacred Heart University’s class of 2019 joins the two previous classes as the largest in Sacred Heart history. In addition to its size, the class is also distinguished by its academic accomplishments as evidenced by an average high school GPA of 3.4, which is the highest ever GPA for an incoming class.

The students hail from 13 international countries and 25 states and territories with the most common being New York (36 percent), Connecticut (26 percent), New Jersey (17 percent) and Massachusetts (10 percent). Ninety-one percent of the class will live on campus.

Sacred Heart is experiencing enrollment success—even as many private colleges are facing declining enrollment and financial difficulties—because of the addition of programs and facilities that respond to the evolving needs of students and the employment marketplace, administrators say.

“Sacred Heart’s success boils down to three integrated commitments: close alignment to a bold, ever-evolving Strategic Plan; ambitious institutional investments in facilities, programs and student services; and an enrollment team committed to finding students who will benefit from and contribute to the University’s distinct character and vision,” says Jim Barquinero, senior vice president, Athletics, Enrollment Planning & Student Affairs.

The University has made critical institutional investments in faculty, programs and facilities to make achieving those goals possible. These have included growing existing academic programs and developing new ones; expanding residential life services and new facilities; and bringing an innovative, award-winning curriculum and extracurricular activities to students both here and abroad.

“Sacred Heart is blessed with a remarkable and hopeful energy. We are student-centered, results-driven and firmly focused on the quality of education we provide,” says SHU President John J. Petillo.

SHU has also created new programs—and dropped others—to respond to student interest and the needs of the marketplace. This is particularly evident in the areas of health professions and nursing where over the past 20 years, SHU has expanded and added programs to respond to increasing health-care needs. In 2014, U.S.News and World Report ranked SHU’s doctoral-level physical therapy program the best in Connecticut and among the top five in New England. Today, Sacred Heart offers the broadest range of health sciences in New England and metro New York and is breaking ground on a new building to house the Colleges of Health Professions and Nursing, which have outgrown their current location.

This new Center for Healthcare Education will include a multi-professional education clinic that will offer specialized single-profession services and a collaborative, holistic approach to needed services for everyone from pediatric to geriatric populations. Disciplines that will collaborate in the clinic include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, exercise science, athletic training, physician assistant and nursing. Along with a medical gym and individual treatment rooms, the clinic will have an aquatic therapy pool and an audiology suite used for teaching skills in hearing assessment, aural rehabilitation and fitting clients with hearing aids. Clinic staff will also have access to the motion analysis and human performance labs and a driving simulator. The clinic will serve as an outpatient teaching lab when not in use for clinical services.

The building will also house state-of-the-art laboratory and classroom facilities designed to support a collaborative, team-based learning environment; discipline-specific laboratories; an immersive acute care simulation lab with video and data capture capability to provide enhanced feedback on student performance in a clinical setting; a simulated outpatient suite for evaluation and treatment of ambulatory patients; a home-care suite to simulate occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology and nursing practice; an expanded human anatomy lab to support? health professions and nursing students; enhanced athletic training, human performance and motion analysis labs; a multi-purpose amphitheater and more.

This is not the only sign of growth at Sacred Heart. This fall, students will begin taking classes at the brand new Frank and Marisa Martire Business & Communications Center. The students will enjoy state-of-the-art facilities that include an active trading floor; dedicated conference rooms for business meetings and internships; screening venues; “smart” classrooms with multimedia technology; satellite equipment and movable furniture for various learning configurations; a multi-media forum for leadership institutes, lectures and screenings; interactive labs, including a motion capture lab for motion picture animation and video game design; two large television studios for TV, video and film production; and a radio station.

The University is also putting the finishing touches on its new Student Success Center, which will house the Center for Teaching and Learning to provide students with tutoring for their academic programing. In addition, the Office of Special Services will provide support and accommodations for students who need specific help with learning. There is also a space for the laboratory for literacy where graduate students in Education will provide tutoring in reading to children in the Bridgeport Public School System. The Global Affairs Office will also reside there to continue its work in expanding global learning opportunities for SHU students, particularly in Dingle, Luxembourg and Rome.  

In addition, SHU is currently building a new residence hall. The 87,000-square-foot, 216-bed building will be organized like a village, with bedroom suite neighborhoods sharing small lounges. The hall will also offer students a bluestone fireplace in a grand three-story maple-paneled lounge on the first floor, a full-wall screen for gaming, lounges and other community spaces, a protected grass courtyard, fitness center and conference and multi-purpose rooms for formal meetings, student government activities and social events.

Future expansion at SHU will include a new building to house WSHU Radio and the Public Safety team, athletics facilities, more residence halls and additional dining options.

For additional Sacred Heart University news, please visit

Msgr. Powers to return from Vatican and become Vicar General of the Diocese of Bridgeport
| August 31, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Monsignor Thomas W. Powers, an official of the Congregation of Bishops in Vatican City, has been appointed to serve as the new Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

The appointment was announced by Bishop Caggiano today (August 31) in a letter to all clergy and pastoral leaders. It will be effective November 15, 2015. “Monsignor Powers will end his service to the Holy See on November 1st, completing ten years of exemplary and faithful service to the Universal Church. His personal faith, deep love for the priesthood, generous service and training in Rome have all prepared him well to serve in this new leadership role,” said Bishop Caggiano

“I look forward to collaborating closely with Monsignor Powers as we move our Diocese forward in spiritual renewal and towards realizing the vision and mandates of our Fourth Diocesan Synod,” the Bishop said.

Monsignor Powers began his tenure at the Congregation of Bishops in September 2005, after serving as Spiritual Director for St. John Fisher Seminary Residence in Stamford and at Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford.

While on assignment as English speaking representative to the Congregation of Bishops at the Vatican, Monsignor Powers also served as adjunct spiritual director at the seminary at the North American College and offered Mass for the Missionaries of charity founded by Blessed Mother Teresa.

Born in Newport Beach, California, he grew up in Newtown attending Saint Rose of Lima Elementary School and Immaculate High School in Danbury.

He earned a bachelors degree in Economics in 1987 from the University of Notre Dame, and worked as a senior financial consultant for Andersen Consulting in New York City before completing his pre-theology courses at Saint John Fisher Seminary Residence in Stamford. He received his S.T.B. degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1996 and was ordained to the diaconate at Saint Peter’s Basilica the same year. He served his deacon internship at North American College in Vatican City and attended the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Rome.

He was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Egan on May 24, 1997 and began service to the diocese as parochial vicar at Saint Theresa Parish in Trumbull in July 1997.

In making the announcement of Msgr. Powers’ appointment, Bishop Caggiano also thanked Monsignor William Scheyd, who has served as Vicar General for 28 years, having been appointed to the position in September 1987, by Bishop Walter W. Curtis, second Bishop of Bridgeport.

“Through his years of service, Monsignor Scheyd has helped lead our Diocese both with his wise counsel and more importantly by his priestly witness. On a personal level, I am deeply indebted to Monsignor Scheyd for both the fraternal care he has shown me and the helpful advice that he has given me since my arrival in the Diocese,” said the Bishop.

Monsignor Scheyd will continue to serve as pastor of Saint Aloysius Church in New Canaan continues. At the Bishop’s request he has also agreed to accept a new position, Episcopal Vicar for Senior Priests, effective November 15, 2015. The new position will provide pastoral and fraternal assistance to all retired priests. It will also help all priests nearing retirement to prepare for this important transition in their lives.

On Eve of Papal Visit, poll finds practicing Catholics support Church teaching
| August 31, 2015


NEW HAVEN—Survey tested range of issues from the Eucharist and sacraments, to abortion and marriage.

On the eve of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States, a new Knights of Columbus-Marist poll reveals that practicing Catholics approve of Pope Francis at even higher rates than non-practicing Catholics or Americans in general, and also support Church teaching by much wider margins than other groups.

Among all Americans, Pope Francis enjoys an approval rating of nearly six in 10 (58 percent). Among non-practicing Catholics the number grows to seven in 10 (70 percent), but among practicing Catholics, the number jumps to more than eight in 10 (83 percent).

On key issues, practicing Catholics also support Church teaching at higher rates than either non-practicing Catholics or the general population.

“It should come as no surprise that Catholics who regularly attend Mass support the Church’s position in the greatest numbers,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “But to measure accurately what Catholics really believe, this survey highlights the importance of looking at the level of Catholic practice in this country when discussing Catholics’ opinions on issues.”

Concerning the importance of various aspects of living out the faith, more than nine in 10 practicing and non-practicing Catholics see charity as important. (96 percent/practicing vs. 92 percent/non-practicing).

Both practicing and non-practicing Catholics see the following issues as important, although practicing Catholics are more likely to see the value of these issues:

•    Daily prayer (96 percent/practicing vs. 79 percent/non-practicing).
•    Following the teachings of the Church (93 percent/practicing vs. 70 percent/non-practicing).
•    Receiving the sacraments (93 percent/practicing vs. 61 percent/non-practicing).
•    Attending Mass regularly (89 percent/practicing vs. 42 percent/non-practicing).

In addition, 83 percent of practicing Catholics think it is important to belong to a parish andabout half of non-practicing Catholics (48 percent) see this as important. About three quarters of practicing Catholics (72 percent) believe it is important to go to confession at least annually, and about four in 10 (39 percent) of non-practicing Catholics say the same.

A more notable contrast was in beliefs about the Eucharist. About two-thirds of practicing Catholics (65 percent) say the Eucharist is the true presence of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, a similar number of non-practicing Catholics (64 percent) say it is just “a symbol.”

On abortion, 60 percent of Americans and 51 percent of non-practicing Catholics say abortion is “morally wrong.” Among practicing Catholics, that jumps more than 20 points to more than 8 in 10 (81 percent). Practicing Catholics are also seven points more likely to want substantial restrictions on abortion than Americans as a whole (91 percent to 84 percent).

Practicing Catholics (54 percent) are more likely than Americans as a whole (49 percent) and twice as likely as non-practicing Catholics (27 percent) to see same-sex marriage as morally wrong.

Almost three quarters of practicing Catholics (73 percent) support the protection of religious liberty—even when it conflicts with government laws. Two-thirds of Americans say the same (67 percent) as do six in 10 non-practicing Catholics.

This survey of 1,027 adults and 222 Catholic Americans was conducted on August 4th through August 17th, 2015 on both landline and cell phones. Results are statistically significant within ±3.1 percentage points and ±6.6 percentage points, respectively.

Additional results are based on a survey of 3,002 adults and 702 Catholic Americans conducted April 6, 2015 through April 14, 2015 on both landline and cell phones. Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish by telephone using live interviewers. Results are statistically significant within ±1.8 percentage points and ±3.7 percentage points, respectively.

Though Most Know Little About Him, Pope Viewed Favorably by Americans

Catholics follow pope much more closely and trust Catholic media most for coverage

With Pope Francis visiting the United States in just under a month, a newly released Knights of Columbus-Marist poll shows the pope is popular, but largely unknown by the American public.

Nearly six in 10 Americans (58 percent) have a favorable or very favorable view of the pope. That 58 percent number is identical to the favorability rating of Pope Benedict XVI on the eve of his trip to the United States in 2008. Only 10 percent have an unfavorable view of Pope Francis. About a third (32 percent) are unsure or have not heard about him.

Catholics view the Holy Father even more favorably, with 77 percent of Catholics and 83 percent of practicing Catholics viewing him favorably or very favorably.

However, three quarters of Americans (74 percent) know little or nothing about Pope Francis’ visit to the US next month. That number drops to two-thirds (65 percent) among Catholics, and just over half of practicing Catholics (55 percent).

Similarly, about two-thirds (63 percent) of Americans say they rarely or never follow news stories about Pope Francis. The number flips for practicing Catholics, with two-thirds saying they follow news stories about him (67 percent), as do six in 10 Catholics overall (60 percent).

Nevertheless, nearly three quarters of Americans (72 percent) think the pope has a message for all Americans. That number grows to nine in 10 for practicing Catholics (90 percent) and a similar number of Catholics as a whole (88 percent).

Most Americans rate the pope highly for his roles as a spiritual leader, someone who cares about people like them, for his work on interfaith relations, and as a world leader.

“On his trip to the United States, not only will Pope Francis get to know the American people, but the American people will also get to know him,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “The pope is popular among Americans, and especially among Catholics, and there is a hunger for his message, with the vast majority of Americans understanding that he brings message for all of us.”

The survey also found that more than half (56 percent) of Americans – and six in 10 practicing Catholics (60 percent)—think news about Pope Francis is shaped by reporters’ own points of view. Only about one third of each group (35 percent) rates news stories about the pope as “mostly accurate.”

Multiple news sources (CNN, New York Times, FOX News, Local Newspapers, Catholic News Outlets, and the Wall Street Journal) are all rated as trusted by about four in 10 Americans to deliver accurate news about Pope Francis (between 42 and 39 percent—all within the margin of error). Among Catholics, the numbers change drastically. By contrast, seven in 10 practicing Catholics (69 percent) trust Catholic media outlets to report on Pope Francis’ visit

The survey also found that the Catholic Church gets good marks from two-thirds of Americans (66 percent), including 95 percent of practicing Catholics and 90 percent of non-practicing Catholics. Similar numbers say the Catholic Church contributes to people and communities in the United States: (67 percent of Americans, 75 percent of non-practicing Catholics, and 87 percent of practicing Catholics).

This survey of 1,027 adults and 222 Catholic Americans was conducted on August 4th through August 17th, 2015 on both landline and cell phones. Results are statistically significant within ±3.1 percentage points and ±6.6 percentage points, respectively.

Additional results are based on a survey of 3,002 adults and 702 Catholic Americans conducted April 6, 2015 through April 14, 2015 on both landline and cell phones. Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish by telephone using live interviewers. Results are statistically significant within ±1.8 percentage points and ±3.7 percentage points, respectively.

Bishop says Synod is all about people
| August 28, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—As the Diocese awaits the Synod Mass of Thanksgiving and Celebration on September 19, at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has offered this reflection on the Synod and what it means in the lives of the faithful throughout the Diocese.

“In the end, the Synod is all about people. People like you and me, people who are looking to become involved, excited and active in their Catholic Faith, and in the world. And when we come to celebrate Mass in just a few weeks, thats what we’re celebrating.”

To date, more than 8,500 have registered for the closing Mass and celebration, which will be a day of joy and prayer as the diocese moves forward with implementing synod initiatives.

Click hear to view the Bishop’s latest video.

“Immigration and the Church Today” on the plate for Red Mass Breakfast
| August 28, 2015


FAIRFIELD—The 2015 Red Mass will take place on Sunday, October 4, 9 am at the Egan Chapel of Fairfield University, 1073 N. Benson Road, Fairfield, Connecticut.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will celebrate and be the principal homilist at the Red Mass.

Fairfield University will host this year’s event and University President, Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx S.J. will be in attendance.

The annual Red Mass 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. The public is encouraged to attend the Red Mass along with members of the legal profession.  Breakfast will be served following the Mass in the Oak Room on campus.

Rev. Richard Ryscavage, S.J., a nationally known expert on immigration and refugee policy and Director of the Center for Faith and Public Life at Fairfield University, will be the featured speaker. His topic is “Immigration and the Church Today.”
“As a Jesuit priest who ran one of the world’s largest refugee resettlement agencies, Fr. Ryscavage bring a unique perspective and first hand-experience to one of the most pressing and urgent topics around the globe,” said Anne McCrory, Chief Legal and Real Estate Officer of the Diocese of Bridgeport.
“The ongoing child immigration crisis and the call of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for compassionate immigration reform make this a timely and important discussion,” she said.
Fr. Ryscavage is also a professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Fairfield University. He served as national director of the Jesuit Refugee Service. His services have been tapped by the Vatican more than once. In 2006, he was invited by the Vatican to become a member of the official delegation of the Holy See to the UN General Assembly and participated in the Secretary General’s “High Level Dialogue on Migration.” Most recently, Fr. Ryscavage met with Pope Francis in the Vatican where he expressed his particular concern about young migrants around the world. Fr. Ryscavage was asked to join the Federal government’s Interagency Task Force on Unaccompanied Children, which includes members of the U.S. State Dept., DHS, Justice, HHS and others.
As executive director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Office of Migration and Refugee Services, he oversaw large annual federal grants from the State Department and the Department of Health and Human Services. He also served as the president of CLINIC, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. He was the first Arrupe Tutor at the Refugee Studies Centre of Oxford University in England.
As Director of Fairfield University’s Center for Faith and Public Life he oversees two grant-funded initiatives that relate to different aspects of the immigration issue: the “Immigrant Student National Position Paper” focusing on undocumented students and "Strangers as Neighbors: Religious Language and the Response to Immigrants in the U.S."
Ryscavage received his bachelor’s degree and an honorary doctorate from Assumption College. He earned his master's degrees from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Boston College, Weston School of Theology and the School for International Training.
At this year’s Red Mass, the Diocese also will honor the work of the Bridgeport Chapter of the St. Thomas More Society, an association of Catholic attorneys, with a long history of committing their time and energy to works of charity in the Bridgeport area for well over 25 years. Bishop Caggiano has urged all legal professionals including attorneys, legislators, judges and other legal professionals to join the society in order to strengthen the union of Catholics in the legal field and to encourage collaboration, fraternity and service.  Information on becoming a member of the Diocesan St Thomas More Society will be available at the Red Mass event and afterwards.  
The cost is $45 per person and tables of 10 are $450. For tickets, please go to For questions, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or phone: 203.416.1385.

Family prayer time can start with small, simple gestures, pope says
| August 27, 2015 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY (CNS)—Parents who juggle packed work and family schedules deserve a Nobel Prize in mathematics for doing something not even the most brilliant scientists can do: They pack 48 hours of activity into 24, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis prays as he leads his weekly audience
in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican August 26.
(CNS photo/Ettore Ferrari, EPA)

“I don’t know how they do it, but they do,” the pope told thousands of people gathered August 26 for his weekly general audience. “There are moms and dads who could win the Nobel for this!”

Focusing his audience talk on the family and prayer, Pope Francis said he knows modern life can be frenetic and that family schedules are “complicated and packed.”

The most frequent complaint of any Christian, he said, is that he or she does not have enough time to pray.

“The regret is sincere,” the pope said, “because the human heart seeks prayer, even if one is not aware of it.”

The way to begin, he said, is to recognize how much God loves you and to love him in return. “A heart filled with affection for God can turn even a thought without words into a prayer.”

“It is good to believe in God with all your heart and it’s good to hope that he will help you when you are in difficulty or to feel obliged to thank him,” the pope said. “That's all good. But do we love the Lord? Does thinking about God move us, fill us with awe and make us more tender?”

Bowing one’s head or “blowing a kiss” when one passes a church or a crucifix or an image of Mary are small signs of that love, he said. They are prayers.

“It is beautiful when moms teach their little children to blow a kiss to Jesus or Mary,” the pope said. “There’s so much tenderness in that. And, at that moment, the heart of the child is transformed into a place of prayer.”

“Isn’t it amazing that God caresses us with a father’s love?” he asked the crowd in St. Peter's Square. “It’s beautiful, so beautiful. He could have simply made himself known as the Supreme Being, given his commandments and awaited the results. Instead, God did and does infinitely more than this. He accompanies us on the path of life, protects us and loves us.”

If you learn as a child to turn to God “with the same spontaneity as you learn to say ‘daddy’ and ‘mommy,’ you’ve learned it forever,” he said.

By teaching children how to make the sign of the cross, to say a simple grace before meals and to remember always that God is there and loves them, he said, family life will be enveloped in God’s love and family members will spontaneously find times for prayer.

“You, mom, and you, dad, teach your child to pray, to make the sign of the cross,” Pope Francis said.

The simple little prayers, he said, will increase family members’ sense of God’s love and presence and their certainty that God has entrusted the family members to one another.

- - -

Editors: A video to accompany this story can be found at

Aborted baby body parts for sale
| August 26, 2015 • by By Tony Magliano


Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano

How low can society go?
When one considers the many ways countless human beings are treated like cheap disposable products—from children exploited by pornographers, to young sweatshop workers exploited by wealthy corporations—it’s hard to imagine how much worse it can get for the poor and vulnerable.

But dismembering and vacuuming babies out of their mother’s wombs, and then selling their body parts, is as low as it gets.
Performing well over 300,000 abortions annually, the United States’ largest abortion provider Planned Parenthood Federation of America, has expanded its bloody business to the sale of aborted baby body parts, according to The Center for Medical Progress (CMP).     

As part of a 30-month-long investigative journalism study called the Human Capital Project, CMP went undercover in meetings with several top Planned Parenthood officials posing as buyers for a fetal tissue procurement company.

During the meetings hidden cameras videotaped statements documenting Planned Parenthood’s involvement in the sale of baby body parts.

These revealing videos can be viewed by going to CMP’s website ( But be advised that some video sections depict disturbing scenes of aborted baby body parts for sale. And indeed, any person who genuinely respects human life should be disturb, and disturbed into action.  

In one of the undercover videos, Planned Parenthood Federation of America's Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, casually describes while eating salad and sipping wine, how Planned Parenthood sells hearts, lungs, livers and heads taken from aborted babies, including babies killed by partial birth abortion—which with rare exception is totally banned by federal law.
After watching this video, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-woman/pro-life organization known as the Susan B. Anthony List said, “The moment when the destruction of a human being becomes just business as usual is a moment we must address.”
According to the Susan B. Anthony List, during fiscal year 2013-2014, Planned Parenthood received more than $1.4 million per day, in the form of government grants, contracts, and Medicaid reimbursements which amounts to taxpayer funding of 41 percent of Planned Parenthood’s overall revenue.
Franciscan Cardinal Sean O’Malley, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote, “Pope Francis has called abortion the product of a ‘widespread mentality of profit, the throwaway culture, which has today enslaved the hearts and minds of so many.’ ”
The cardinal condemned “the now standard practice of obtaining fetal organs and tissues through abortion.”
Cardinal O’Malley pastorally added that persons experiencing revived trauma from their involvement in abortion, are most welcome to contact the church’s post-abortion healing ministry known as Project Rachel (     

Americans United for Life (—an outstanding national pro-life legal team—is asking us to contact our two U.S. senators and congressperson urging them to co-sponsor Senate Bill 1881—a bill to prohibit federal funding of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.       
Please sign the Center for Medical Progress’ petition urging Congress to investigate Planned Parenthood’s baby body parts business by going to and clicking “Take Action.”
A morning of peaceful protests at Planned Parenthood facilities nationwide will be held on August 22 from 9 am to 11 am To find the nearest location go to I&rsq.uo;m planning to participate at the Towson, Md. site.
As followers of the God of life, we are obliged to work for the protection of the lives and limbs of everyone—especially the most vulnerable.
Let’s not take this obligation lightly.

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

Father Nichalas Calabro, former pastor of St. Roch Parish
| August 26, 2015


GREENWICH—Father Nicholas J. Calabro, former pastor of St. Roch Parish in Greenwich, died on August 24 in Stamford Hospital following a long illness. He was 73 years old.

Born on October 10, 1941, he attended Byram Grammar School in Greenwich and graduated from Greenwich High School.

His studies for the priesthood began at St. Thomas Seminary College in Bloomfield and he completed his theological studies at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Md.

He was ordained by Bishop Walter W. Curtis on December 17, 1966 in St. Mary Church in Stamford.

Father Calabro’s first assignment as parochial vicar was at St. Augustine Cathedral, Bridgeport. He served in the same capacity at the following parishes: Sacred Heart Parish in Stamford, St. Theresa Parish in Trumbull; St. Patrick Parish in Bridgeport; St. Mary Parish in Bethel; Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Wilton; and Christ the King Parish Trumbull.

Father Calabro was also a faculty member and spiritual director at Central Catholic High School in Norwalk from 1978-88.

In 1990, Father Calabro was appointed pastor of St. Roch, which had been his home parish growing up. He served at St. Roch until 2009, when poor health forced him to retire. Thereafter, he resided at the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of Clergy Residence in Stamford.

Respecting his wishes, there was no wake or vigil. Father Calabro’s body will be received at St. Roch Church on Wednesday, August 26, at 11 am for the Mass of Christian Burial. The family has requested that Father Carlos Rodrigues, chaplain of St. Camillus Health Center in Stamford, be the celebrant and homilist. Burial will follow at St. Mary Cemetery in Greenwich.

Father Calabro is survived in this diocese by his brother, Gary Calabro, of Greenwich.

Katrina odyssey brought many blessings for New Orleans priest
| August 25, 2015 • by By Beth Donze, Catholic News Service


NEW ORLEANS (CNS)—Like many of his brother priests, Father Dennis Hayes decided to take his chances and stay put as Katrina teased the Louisiana coast, hoping the storm's Category 5 fury would spare his parish of St. Louise de Marillac in Arabi.

Houses in New Orleans are seen under water September 5, 2005,
after Hurricane Katrina swept through Louisiana, Mississippi
and Alabama. More than a decade after the storm, New Orleans
continues to rebuild. (CNS photo/Allen Fredrickson, Reuters)

Surely Katrina would veer away at the last minute as so many hurricanes had done before. And even if the storm did cause some damage, thought Father Hayes, at least he would be available to his parishioners.

After successfully weathering Katrina on the second floor of St. Louise’s concrete-and-steel school building—with the Blessed Sacrament, his parish’s sacramental registers and his pet dog Badooki—Father Hayes assumed the worst was over by Monday morning, August 29, 2005.

But that sigh of relief turned into alarm when the town of Arabi began filling up like a bathtub.

“Within one hour—between about 8 and 9 am—I saw the water cover all of the homes and the entire parish plant,” recalled Father Hayes, now pastor of Blessed Trinity Church in New Orleans. “In just that little bit of time the water rose from the ground to the wires of the light poles. That night I could hear cries and wailing of people for help,” he said.

By Tuesday morning, helicopters were flying up and down each street, pulling people to safety from rooftops and trees. Spotting an upended canoe stranded on a nearby rooftop, Father Hayes climbed out of a second-floor window to commandeer the vessel.

Realizing the floodwaters wouldn’t be receding any time soon, he signaled a helicopter and got pulled to safety. The fleeing priest had no choice but to leave behind the Blessed Sacrament, the parish records and his beloved pet.

He was taken to a National Guard base where survivors were instructed to make their way to the Superdome, using the Mississippi River levee as an “elevated roadway” into town.

Father Hayes didn't realize that he would be walking into a war zone.

“It was like a riot,” he said of the scene on the way to the Superdome. He found a working pay phone and spoke to a cousin in New York who told him that then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco was advising people not to go to the stadium because of dire conditions there.

The priest considered making his way to the Notre Dame Seminary but as he walked along the water level was soon up to his neck and full of diesel oil. He jumped on a porch and was taken in by a family who let him stay in their third-floor apartment.

“Everyone was still saying, ‘Go to the Superdome,’”Father Hayes recalled. “Six hundred buses would be there to evacuate people.”

So, he used a borrowed ice chest as a flotation device, and made his way there.

Nothing prepared him for what he experienced.

“I got a real taste of what the poor of New Orleans were going through,” Father Hayes said. “Urination and defecation in the bathrooms had poured out into the passageways of the dome; the vending stands had all been decimated; there was smoke all over;people cursing;stifling heat; babies screaming; a fire during the middle of the night; two babies born; shooting at helicopters.”

At dawn, Father Hayes left the dome, concluding that “those 600 buses were not coming.”

“So I got back into that miserable water and walked back to the cathedral,” Father Hayes said. “I knelt down in front of the cathedral and asked for New Orleans to be saved.”

He decided to journey “full circle” to somehow get back to his parish to recover the Blessed Sacrament, the sacramental records and his dog.

On the levee he met a sheriff who invited the priest to help him minister to people the authorities were still rescuing from rooftops and trees. He joined him with the two religious items he had, his rosary and a St. Benedict crucifix.

For the next 10 days, Father Hayes and his fellow volunteers ministered to Katrina's victims, including the rescuers themselves. At one point he was able to retrieve the Blessed Sacrament, the parish registers and Badooki, his dog, from the still-submerged St. Louise school building, assisted by firefighters.

He said Katrina’s 10th anniversary resonates with him because the number 10 looms large in the recitation of the rosary, a prayer close to his heart and one that he said continually during his Katrina odyssey.

“I think it’s interesting that each mystery of the rosary takes a full decade of Hail Marys in order to fully embrace that mystery,” said Father Hayes, adding that he considers Katrina to be “a divine mystery” just like the mysteries of the rosary. The word ‘hurricane’ itself is a Native American word meaning “sacred wind,” he said.

Looking back, he also appreciates the “paschal” aspect of the storm.

“‘Paschal’ means that the reality we desire comes through its opposite;therefore, things like eternal life comes through its opposite, which is death,” he said, pointing to the tremendous amount of death and suffering that spilled out of Katrina and its aftermath.

“In the same way, light comes through its opposite, which is darkness,” he said. “We have had a great deal of darkness, despair and danger, but through all of that a great luminosity has occurred, a great light has been cast on what’s important, on what our values are.”

Donze is a staff writer at the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

Protests against Planned Parenthood across state
| August 24, 2015


STAMFORD—#ProtestPP is a coalition of pro-life groups that called for a National Day of Protest on August 22, 2015 at Planned Parenthood facilities all across America.

Five rallies were held in the state of Connecticut and over 350 people come out to defend life and protest the activities of Planned Parenthood. Nationally there were over 60,000 people at 320 Planned Parenthood locations.

“The goal was to raise awareness of the heartless, immoral and illegal activities of Planned Parenthood by going to where the killing and harvesting of body parts from aborted children takes place. The four main sponsors were: Created Equal, the Pro-Life Action League, 40 Days for Life, and Citizens for a Pro-Life Society,” said Jennifer Mitchell of St. Mary, Respect Life and Generation for Life committees, who coordinated the Stamford protest and provided the following overview of the event.

The Stamford event was very successful and peaceful protest that began at 8:30 am. Participants held “Women Betrayed” and “Honk 2 Defund” signs and were inspired by the number affirmative honks during the protest.

Rev. Robert D. Beinke, St. Peter Lutheran Church, Norwalk, CT opened the event with a prayer. The opening prayer was followed by the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary led by Janet Torres who is a sidewalk counselor every Friday between 8:30 – 10:30 am when the abortions take place.

George Meagher of St. Catherine of Sienna, Trumbull shared details on the defects of the State regulation as they pertain to Planned Parenthood as well as detail of the latest video. Father Martin deMayo of the Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Stamford led the gathering in a Devine Mercy Chaplet.

“When we were not praying or speaking we were led in inspiring pro-life chants by Caitlyn Mitchell and Patrick Backus of the Generation for Life team. Finally the event closed at 11:00 with a beautiful prayer led by Mary Grenchas, the Director of Religious Education at St. Mary, Ridgefield,” said Mitchell .

Mitchell shared why she decided to lead her protest: “We cannot become complacent and hope for the best,” she asserted. “We are asked by God to be His hands and feet and to serve our brothers and sisters. This includes our brothers and sisters in the womb.”

“Abortion is committed against all races and genders, and looking the other way is not a solution,” she added. “Silence in the face of evil, is evil itself. It is my hope and prayer that everyone who believes in a God, regardless of religion, can place themselves in front of their maker on Judgment Day and answer the question, ‘How did you protect the precious life that I created and gave so generously to you?’”

Penitential path: Theologians discuss promise, pitfalls of process
| August 24, 2015 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY (CNS)—The discussion at last year's extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family was lively—some media coverage made it sound like a battle—and a new book from the Pontifical Council for the Family shows the debate continues.

"Family and Church: An Indissoluble Bond," published this summer only in Italian, is a collection of presentations by theologians and canon lawyers gathered by the council for three full days of discussion and debate.

Their consensus is that the church must do something to present more clearly its teaching on marriage; it must do more to help young couples prepare for marriage; it must be more effective in helping couples in trouble; and it must reach out to those who divorced and remarried without an annulment.

At the same time, the text indicates that many bloggers and reporters are wrong when they try to pigeon-hole church leaders as being in either-or categories of loving ministers of God's mercy or strong defenders of God's truth. The challenge lies in being both.

The meetings brought together two dozen participants, men and women, most teaching at pontifical universities in Rome, including the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. The experts—Europeans, an Indian, Africans and South Americans—met in January, February and March.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the family council, told an Italian Catholic magazine that finding pastoral approaches to express God's mercy while being faithful to church teaching is complicated. However, he told Famiglia Cristiana, "It is pharisaical to limit ourselves to repeating laws and denouncing sins. The church must be frank in admonishing, but it also must be ready to find new paths to follow."

One of the paths suggested before and during last year's extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family was a "penitential process" that gradually would lead some divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to confession, absolution and Communion.

Participants at the family council's meetings explored the idea, giving suggested steps and highlighting potential pitfalls beginning with the obvious danger of signaling to the couples and the world at large that perhaps some sacramental marriages are not indissoluble after all. But doing nothing, several said, risks signaling that entering a new union -- even after being abandoned by a husband or wife -- is the only situation where the church cannot be a minister of God's forgiveness.

In his presentation, Father Giampaolo Dianin, an Italian professor of moral theology, insisted forgiveness is not "some kind of amnesty." In Catholic teaching it is "a free and full gift of God which asks for and provokes a commitment to repair, begin again and rebuild."

A possible "penitential path," he said, would include:

-- A diocesan bishop appointing a priest or a team of qualified people to evaluate individual cases and accompany the applicants, first determining if they have the grounds for an annulment, which would allow them to have their new union blessed as a marriage.

-- For a spouse who was abandoned, the process would aim at promoting forgiveness of the offending party. For all involved, the process would include recognizing their sins and ways they contributed to the destruction of the marriage.

-- Evaluating the solidity of the second union and the commitment of the couple to live seriously as Christians.

-- "Readmission to the sacraments could be full or partial." Some might maintain that permanent readmission downplays the fact that the second union is not a sacramental marriage, Father Dianin said; they would allow the couple to receive absolution and Communion during the Easter season and on special occasions.

In Father Dianin's process, there is no requirement that the couple abstain from sex, living "as brother and sister." In current church practice, that is what is required of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics who want to receive the sacraments.

Father Dianin and several other participants said that beyond the difficulty, and perhaps impossibility, many couples would have in fulfilling that requirement, there is a theological problem in suggesting that the spiritual and corporal aspects of love can and should be separated. In addition, Father Alberto Bonandi, another theologian, said it gives the message that the sexual relations in a new union are the only way the couple is living in conflict with their original marriage bond when, in fact, they have withdrawn their affection and are building a life with someone else.

Father Eugenio Zanetti disagreed. The Italian canon lawyer outlined not a "penitential path," but what he called a "path of conversion to Love," meaning to God who is love.

The process would begin with a year of individual and group prayer and reflection, particularly looking at the obligations that remain to the spouse and any children from one's sacramental marriage, he said. During Lent, the prayer would intensify and the reflection would include attention to the Christian understanding of sexuality. At the end of Holy Week, the couple would be invited to confession, "recognizing their sins, including their complex and not fully correct marriage situation." As a condition of granting them absolution, the church would ask for a promise that they abstain from sexual relations during the Octave of Easter, which would permit them to receive Communion on Easter and on Divine Mercy Sunday.

Publishers have announced the coming release of other books on Catholic teaching and the family before the world Synod of Bishops on the family begins Oct. 4. One of them, coming from Ignatius Press, is: "Eleven Cardinals Speak on Marriage and the Family: Essays from a Pastoral Viewpoint."

The book, widely expected to be cautious about broadening the church's "penitential path," is described by the publisher as steering "a wise and merciful course that engages genuine concerns, while avoiding false compassion, which compromises both truth and authentic love."

The discussion and debate continues.

St. Thomas More Food Drive
| August 21, 2015


DARIEN—Members of the St. Thomas More Youth Group collected over 700 cans and more than 50 boxes and jars of food during its recent parish food drive for New Covenant House of Hospitality in Stamford—and they had fun doing it! Before delivering the food to NCH, they made a miniature St. Thomas More Church.

St. Thomas More pastor Fr. Paul Murphy congratulated the young men and women for their good work on behalf of the hungry, poor and needy.

New Covenant House of Hospitality (NCH) recently moved into its new home, at 174 Richmond Hill Avenue in Stamford. It is open 365 days a year and provides nearly 700,000 meals to the disadvantaged of Lower Fairfield County. NCH serves lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday and lunch on Sunday; additionally, there is a breakfast-to-go program daily.

Guests are the poor and disadvantaged including the homeless, working poor, children, the elderly, disabled mentally ill, HIV/AIDS clients, and immigrants, both with and without citizenship documentation.

New Covenant House of Hospitality serves the greater Stamford area, which includes Stamford, New Canaan, Greenwich and Darien. For information call email or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Phone 203.964.8228.

View additional photos here

Cardinal O'Malley urges support for Senate Bill to defund Planned Parenthood
| August 21, 2015


WASHINGTON—Federal funds should be reallocated so women can obtain their health care from providers that do not promote abortion, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, said in an August 3 letter to the U.S. Senate.

Cardinal O’Malley, who chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, urged support for S. 1881, which would withhold federal funds from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates.

The full text of his letter follows and is available online: . .

Dear Senator:

I am writing to ask your support for S. 1881, to withhold federal funds from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates.

It has long been troubling to many Americans that the nation’s largest abortion network, performing over a third of all abortions, receives over half a billion taxpayer dollars a year. This concern has rightly grown in recent years.

The most recent revelations about Planned Parenthood’s willingness to traffic in fetal tissue from abortions, and to alter abortion methods not for any reason related to women’s health but to obtain more “intact” organs, is the latest demonstration of a callousness toward women and their unborn children that is shocking to many Americans.

The Catholic Church comes to this issue from a perspective rooted in experience. Catholic charitable agencies and pregnancy help centers have helped countless pregnant women find life-affirming alternatives to abortion. Our hospitals and other health facilities are second to none in providing quality health care for women.

We support the legislative proposal to reallocate federal funding, so that women can obtain their health care from providers that do not promote abortion. It is my sincere hope that you will be able to help advance this goal by supporting S. 1881.

See also: Protest at Stamford Planned Parenthood Facility on August 22

Sacred Heart University to host Dan Esty for talk on climate change
| August 20, 2015


FAIRFIELD—Pope Francis’ call for Stewardship with Dan Esty, Hillhouse Professor at Yale University and former Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) will be hosted at Sacred Heart University, 5151 Park Avenue, Fairfield, on Wednesday, September 16, at 7 pm.

Laudato Si’ is the first papal encyclical focused solely on the environment, in which Pope Francis makes a call to protect the planet on behalf of the poor and future generations. In a panel discussion with SHU faculty and clergy, Esty will discuss new leadership on the environment and Pope Francis’ global urge for stewardship.

WHAT: Sacred Heart University will host Dan Esty for a conversation on Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’.

WHO: Esty is Hillhouse Professor at Yale University, with appointments in both the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Law School. He serves as director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, as well as a board member of the Center for Business and the Environment at Yale, which he founded. Esty is an author and editor of many works focused on environmental protection and its connection to policy, trade and the economy, and his prizewinning book Green to Gold: How Smart Companies use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage has been named the top-selling “green business” book of the past decade. From 2011 to 2014, Esty served as Commissioner of Connecticut’s DEEP and oversaw such innovations as the state’s first-in-the-nation Green Bank.

WHERE: Schine Auditorium, Sacred Heart University, 5151 Park Avenue, Fairfield

WHEN: Wednesday, September 16, at 7 pm

SPONSOR: The Human Journey Colloquia Series

TICKETS: The event is free and open to the public.

PRESS: Media coverage is welcomed. Please contact Deb Noack at 203.396.8483 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for further information.

Moral background of the death penalty discussion
| August 20, 2015 • by By Father Brian Gannon


By Father Brian Gannon

When someone commits a horrific crime, an inevitable question arises: how far can you go, penalty-wise? Seek the death penalty? With Connecticut’s Supreme Court overturning the death penalty, the old debate is renewed. While politicians can argue, the morality of an act is ultimately determined by God and his natural law. Only from Scripture and Catholic Tradition can we know divine and eternal truths on moral issues. This article argues neither for nor against the death penalty, but seeks only to illuminate key themes undergirding Catholic doctrine today. 

Let’s begin with Scripture. Some argue that the first death penalty was actually meted out by God Himself upon Adam and Eve for the Original sin. Through Original Sin, Adam and Eve forfeited immortality. Then, throughout the Old Testament we see references to capital punishment. Cain kills Abel, yet God upholds Cain’s dignity and does not strike him dead. However, with Noah just after the Flood God forbids murder, yet also says “whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for man was made in the image of God” (Gen 9:6). Moses, when he delivers the Law to the Israelites, includes provisos for the death penalty. “Your eye shall not pity: it shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth,” etc. comes from Deuteronomy 19:21. Numbers refers a great deal to murderers and their penalty of death, saying how murder pollutes the land: hence, “and no expiation can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of him who shed it” (Num: 35:33.). Other passages are similar.

The New Testament: Christ makes no specific declaration about the death penalty, but his words always point towards what man and woman were intended to be in the Garden of Eden. Then, in a perverse irony, man imposes the death penalty on his maker and savior, yet Christ practices exactly what he preached: he forgives. When Christ refers to the “eye for an eye” phrase, he responds, “turn the other cheek,” and the importance of loving enemies and forgiving those who harm you. He rejects human vengeance outright; indeed the Old Testament declares that vengeance belongs to God alone. Such terms must be regarded carefully; God does not seek vengeance, but does set up a supernatural “economy” that necessitates retribution, penance, and expiation of sin. This is very important to this discussion.

Early Fathers of the Church differed; some seemed against it, as in St. John Chrysostom; while Clement of Alexandria seems to be the first to explicitly justify it. Then come the super heavyweights: St. Augustine wrote in the City of God acknowledging that “the divine law allows certain exceptions as when God authorizes killing by a general law. …It is no way contrary to the commandment, ‘thou shalt not kill’… for the representatives of the State’s authority to put criminals to death…”

In the Middle Ages, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote very candidly: “The fate of the wicked being open to conversion so long as they live does not preclude their being open also to the just punishment of death. Indeed the danger threatening the community from their life is greater and more certain than the good expected by their conversion. Besides, in the hour of death, they have every facility for turning to God by repentance.”

The Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent specifically permits the death penalty if necessary; even asserting that proper application of it does not contradict but rather obeys the Fifth Commandment against murder. In other words, the state fails to obey this commandment if it does not protect its citizens from murder. Pope St. Pius X also wrote in 1905 justifying the death penalty, as later did both Popes Pius XI and XII.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC, 1997) specifically says that “the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against an unjust aggressor.” (#2267) It continues to assert that non-lethal means must be used if they confidently remove the aggressor as a threat. Pope John Paul II, writing in the encyclical Evangelium Vitae (1995), which modified the CCC, asserted that with modern technology and its use in incarceration, cases of the execution of the offender as an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

St. John Paul II has clearly declared that the death penalty be applied only in the rarest of cases; the bishops, especially in the United States, have followed suit in their teaching. The fundamental drive of St.John Paul is to teach and reinforce the dignity of God’s image in every human life, following his meditation on the Cain and Abel saga, in which Cain is marked by God to protect him from killers. Pope Francis has also made several statements criticizing death penalties, condemning the many abuses involved therein. He urges nations to reject it as means of punishment.

Now the obvious question: what is going on? Has the Church flip flopped on its teaching? Absolutely not. Clearly, as stated in the CCC, the Church maintains the consistent position that the death penalty may be moral in certain cases; today those cases are quite rare. So what was going on all these years?

Of all the popes, it seems the Venerable Pope Pius XII wrote most extensively (1953) about Catholic reasoning for penalties, including capital punishment. He acknowledged penalty as a means of protecting the community as well as a hopeful incentive for the conversion of the criminal. But also important is expiation for sin; that in the supernatural world there is a harmful impact of evil on our world, especially grave evil, which must be corrected. Reparation and expiation then become another foundation for understanding penalty. This is in good part why the Church and saints have urged us to fast, mortify ourselves and do penance; to make reparation for our sins and those of others. Murder is a horrifically grave evil against God since it attacks his most cherished creation: man and woman, who are in his image. Traditional Church teaching has applied this thinking to the death penalty.

Pius XII raised a very intriguing point, that at the Last Judgment, the punishment meted to the damned is not based on protection of the community, since they will be in heaven, or the hoped for conversion of unrepented sinners, since they have effectively chosen hell. Rejection of God manifests an eternal punishment. Hence, we see the full rationale of divine justice, not just to protect and seek conversion, but also to demonstrate retribution is essential to penalty. Unrepented mortal sin will be given the worst death sentence of all: eternal damnation.

Any discussion today about the Catholic teaching on the death penalty must first honor the Catechism of the Catholic Church. When we hear the term “seamless garment” in society today, a term meant to see all human life as in God’s image, it must never be understood to mean that abortion and the death penalty are equal in being intrinsically (always) evil. Instead, abortion is always seen as evil, while the death penalty remains a theoretically moral choice, though only in rare cases. Thus a Catholic could in good conscience carefully support a death penalty or always reject it. But, a Catholic could absolutely never in good conscience support abortion or euthanasia.

There is no better way to conclude than cite an official Vatican directive to the American bishops, written by Cardinal Ratzinger with St. John Paul II’s approval As Cardinal, the now Pope Emeritus wrote the following to the U.S. bishops in 2004: Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

(Father Gannon is pastor of St. Theresa Parish in Trumbull.)

Televised Mass offers a preview of the Diocesan Youth Choir
| August 19, 2015


PROSPECT, CT—People throughout the state will get a preview of the new Diocesan Youth Choir (C4Y) this Sunday (August 23) on the “Celebration of the Eucharist” Television Mass on Cablevision 12 (Channel 84 at 5 am and 10 am) and on WCCT-TV Channel 20 at 10 am.

The popular Televised Mass program returned to Cablevision at the end of July on the Local Programming Channel, Channel 84, for half an hour Monday through Saturday at 10 am, and on Sunday for an hour that also includes news from the Office of Radio and Television (ORTV) of the Archdiocese of Hartford.

Twenty-one young people from the 78-member choir journeyed up to the Office of Radio and Television (ORTV) studios of the Archdiocese of Hartford to sing for the recorded Mass, which will be broadcast this Sunday.

The Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport, celebrated the Mass, assisted by Deacon John DiTaranto. John Grosso, Social Media Leader of the diocese, gave the readings.

Before Mass, Bishop Caggiano met with the young people in the studio lobby and told  told them he was very proud of them for participating in the choir and sharing their faith along with their voices.

“You will never meet the thousands of people who view this at home, many of whom may be ill or suffering, but you bring hope and joy to their lives,” he said.

During his homily the bishop reflected on the saying “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” He said that people of faith will be tested in many ways throughout their lives and may be tempted to give up or to say that it’s too difficult to lead a life guided by Catholic values.

He assured the young people in the choir and all the TV viewers that “the good news is you don’t have to do this alone. Jesus is walking along side you,” particularly when people partake of the Eucharist.

Members of the youth choir can be heard singing throughout the Mass under the direction of Mary Bozzuti Higgins of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Wilton. She has been rehearsing the choir, formed this Spring, at locations throughout the Diocese.

The choir will make its formal debut at the Synod Closing Celebration Mass at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport on Saturday September 19. The youth will also headline a special Christmas concert later this year.

The offices and studios of ORTV and WJMJ Radio, a service of the Archdiocese of Hartford, are located at 15 Peach Orchard Road in Prospect.

The Celebration of the Eucharist is also available to those who receive WCCT-TV, channel 20’s over-the-air signal with an external antenna, or get WCCT on Dish TV or Direct TV service or from another local cable provider. It can also be viewed live each day at 10 am or on-demand at anytime at: by choosing “Television” on the “Programming” menu item.

Fanning the Fire
| August 17, 2015


NEWTOWN—This weekend hundreds of young people throughout the first had an opportunity to deepen their faith at the 10th Annual Fan The Fire Youth Rally for High School teens held at St. Rose of Lima Parish on Saturday.

The day included games, music, talks, Confession, Rosary, Adoration and Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano. "Awesome" is the way that many of those who participated described this fun and faith-filled day.

Please click here to view pictures
from Fan the Fire Youth Rally

Pictures by Michelle Babyak

Chilling with Chili: St. Matthew Knights Chili Cook-Off raises money for Charity
| August 17, 2015


WESTPORT—On a day when chill worked with chili, St. Matthew Council 14360 in Norwalk hosted their inaugural “Chili for Charity Cook Off” event on August 9th at Saugatuck Sweets in Westport.

Seven Knights from the Council & one guest cooked 11 delicious chili entries ranging from sweet to tangy to almost diabolical.

Over 70 votes were tallied by those who wanted to make their opinions heard on the best, hottest, and coolest named recipes in the competition. More importantly, a total of $500 was collected over four hours and will go into the charitable fund. Congratulations to Grand Knight George Ribellino, Deputy Grand Knight Scott Criscuolo and council supporter Nona Rudd who won the best chili, best named chili and hottest chili respectively."

Brand new Knight and committee chairman Erric Moretti couldn’t have been more pleased. "I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of contestants and supporters who turned out for our first-ever Chili Cook-Off. The weather could not have been better and I think all who attended enjoyed the competition with all of the great chili's available for tasting. There was even secret recipe & ingredient swapping going on between the contestants!

All of the monies donated for this event will be going back into our community & our rally cry throughout the day became "Sample Chili for Charity!” I'm proud that this event helped solidify the Knight's Core Values within our Council, and look forward to next year's Chili Cook-off”, said Moretti.

Special congratulations to PGK Mike Colaluca, whose family won the raffle and earned a free "wrecker", a monstrous ice cream and sweet treat from Saugatuck Sweets.

I want to thank Brother Knight Al DiGuido and his wife Chris DiGuido of Saugatuck Sweets for being such gracious hosts at the best ice cream and candy shop in Fairfield County. Brother Erric Moretti did an awesome job and I look forward to this event next year," said Grand Knight George Ribellino

Knights of Columbus Saint Matthew Norwalk Council #14360 was founded in 2007 and currently do many fundraising and community outreach throughout the year, including its annual Macaroni and St Patrick Day Dinners, as well as lend assistance to Notre Dame Convalescent Home (Norwalk, CT), Family & Children's Agency of Norwalk, All Saint Catholic School, Malta House and Fisher House

For more information go to

Bishop Caggiano's reflection on Our Lady, Mary, the Mother of God
| August 14, 2015


WASHINGTON—Yesterday I traveled to the Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Washington, NJ to celebrate Mass as part of their 98th anniversary celebration of the apparition of Our Lady to the three children of Fatima.

Three years ago I had the privilege to visit this beautiful shrine and I am delighted to be able to do so again.

The proper and important role that the Virgin Mary plays in our life of faith is often not understood correctly in our contemporary society. Many mistakenly believe that any devotion offered to Mary, the Mother of the Lord, is somehow misguided. They believe such devotion should be offered solely and exclusively to Her Son Jesus. Some even claim that our Catholic devotion to the Blessed Mother distracts a Christian from developing a deep, personal and intimate relationship with her Son. However, nothing is further from the truth!

Both from my personal experience in priestly ministry and participating in the Synod process, the fact is that growing numbers of Christians recognize that while they have some “idea” of faith, they do not enjoy a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. They genuinely are searching for and deeply desire such a relationship of love with Christ. Further, while they desire to meet the Lord, they honestly do not know how they can do so. While their hearts are on fire to encounter the Lord, they are confused and in need of help regarding how they can practically and effectively fall in love with Jesus. Put simply, they are ready to make the spiritual journey but they do not have the road map. Some do not even know how to start.

Our Lady, Mary, the Mother of God, freely and generously can provide each of us the roadmap we seek. For this reason, I am convinced that she is key to the renewal of our personal lives of faith and the renewal of the whole Church, during this unique time both in the life of our Church and world.

On the eve of the feast of the Assumption, we can explore together some ways by which Mary, by the example of her own life and the power of her intercession, can help us map our journey to Christ.

JOIN US for the Vigil of Our Lady's Assumption, and an Ice Cream Social!

Diocesan Statement on Court’s Decision
| August 13, 2015


HARTFORD—The Diocese of Bridgeport welcomes today’s decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court to abolish the death penalty.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has been vocal in its opposition to the use of the death penalty across the U.S. consistent with its unconditional pro-life commitment and respect for the dignity of human life.

“Our faith tradition offers a unique perspective on crime and punishment, one grounded in mercy and healing, not punishment for its own sake. No matter how heinous the crime, if society can protect itself without ending a human life, it should do so. Today, we have this capability,” wrote Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, OFM Cap., of Boston, chair of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chair of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

The bishops cited progress over the last decade, including several states abolishing the death penalty, other states enacting moratoria, and death sentences being at their lowest level since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. The bishops also noted Pope Francis’ call for an end to the use of the death penalty.

“Pope Francis, like his predecessors, provides a clear and prophetic voice for life and mercy in calling for all people of good will to work to end the use of the death penalty,” Archbishop Wenski said of the message. “In anticipation of Pope Francis’s visit to the United States in September, we join our voices with his and continue our call for a culture of life. As a people of life, we say it is time for the U.S. to abandon use of the death penalty.”

Read more about the decision in the Hartford Courant

This weeks success story: Handy Dandy Handy Men
| August 12, 2015


BROOKFIELD—Read the account below about Peter Brady, “Boss Man” of the Handy Dandy Handy Men (and women), who recently performed yet another public service, volunteer project.

Peter Brady says that all the worked “is performed in the name of the Holy Spirit.”

“We were 37 Handy Dandy Handy Men (and women) strong, ready to move 5,000 books from the Brookfield Library to a local school gym for the annual book sale fund raiser. The job was performed in two hours without a hitch, and all seemed to enjoy working in the 85 degree heat non-stop.Our thanks to all our volunteers, men, women, and youngsters who dedicated their Saturday morning just to experience a "Feel Good Day". Amazing outing indeed,” says Peter Brady.

Handyman spreads generosity to those in need

The group was founded in 1999 at St. Joseph Parish in Brookfield and has inspired young people and many others to get involved in helping others in the community.

Peter Brady’s idea began as a way to help elderly members of his parish at Saint Joseph’s Church in Brookfield.

Now 15 years later, Brady’s generosity has touched hundreds in the Danbury area.

Brady’s organization, Handy Dandy Handyman Ministry, has assisted 900 families in the area.

Brady has helped Vicky Wieloszunski twice in the past year. Wieloszunski, who is in remission from brain cancer, moved from New Milford to live with her daughter last year with the help of Brady and his army of volunteers. After staying in her daughter’s living room with most of her belongings in storage, Wieloszunski is moving again—with Brady’s help—to an apartment of her own in the Bishop Curtis Homes in Bethel.

Brady began his mission after retiring from his job at Nestle and now has an email list of 2,200 volunteers and craftsman he calls on to assist with his charity work.

To learn more visit the Handy Dandy Handyman website

Pope: Celebrations, including Mass, are essential for family life
| August 12, 2015 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Families need moments of rest and celebration, time for standing back and recognizing the gifts of God and how well they have developed, Pope Francis said.

Celebrations are times "to enjoy that which cannot be produced or consumed, that cannot be bought or sold," the pope said August 12 at his weekly general audience.

Continuing his series of talks about the family in anticipation of the September celebration of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia and the world Synod of Bishops on the family in October, Pope Francis said he would be looking at "the rhythm of family life," focusing first on celebrations, then on work and on prayer.

"Celebrations are God's invention," he said, pointing to the description in the Book of Genesis of how, after creating the world, God took a day of rest and contemplated all he had created.

Life becomes truly human when people take the time to do the same, the pope said. "A celebration is above all a loving and grateful gaze at work done well," whether it's a wedding celebration of a relationship that has matured or birthdays and graduations when people "look at their children or grandchildren who are growing and think, 'How beautiful.'"

The best parties are always those that gather families together, Pope Francis said. "Family life, seen with the eyes of faith, shows itself to be worth more than the effort it requires. It is a masterpiece of simplicity and is beautiful precisely because it is not artificial, not fake."

While not ignoring one's obligations at work, he said, it also is important to allow celebrations of birthdays, marriages, new births, welcomes or farewells "to infiltrate" the workplace. "They are moments of familiarity that throw a cog in the production line. It does us good."

Days of rest, especially Sunday celebrations of Mass and time with the family, are important reminders that every human being is made in the image and likeness of God and is not a "slave to work."

Unfortunately, he said, even in the modern world there are women and children who have been reduced to slave-like conditions. "This is against God and against the dignity of the human person!"

In other cases, the pope said, people have made themselves slaves to work, thinking the point of life is to earn a lot of money. Even when they celebrate, he said, they allow consumerism "to swallow" the party by thinking the more money they spend, the better the celebration will be.

"But is that why we work?" he asked. "Greed for consuming, which leads to waste, is a horrible virus that, among other things, leaves us more tired than we were before. It poisons real work and consumes our lives."

"Celebrations are a precious gift God has given the human family. Let's not ruin them," he said.

The most important celebration for a family, the pope said, is Sunday Mass, which brings people "the grace of Jesus Christ, his presence, his love, his sacrifice, his making us a community, his being with us."

When people bring their lives to Jesus in the Eucharist, the real meaning of life is revealed, Pope Francis said. "Work, family, our daily joys and efforts, even suffering and death -- all are transfigured by the grace of Christ."

A related video can be viewed at

The conversion of the Catholic priest who blessed the atomic bomb crews
| August 10, 2015 • by By Tony Magliano from the National Catholic Reporter


TINIAN ISLAND—Seventy years ago, on August 6, 1945, the single most destructive weapon ever unleashed upon human beings and the environment—the atomic bomb—was dropped by an American B-29 bomber on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing approximately 80,000 people instantly.

Three days later, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, immediately killing an estimated 40,000 people, with tens of thousands dying later from the bombings because of radiation poisoning.

Blessing the crews and their two missions was Fr. George Zabelka, the Catholic chaplain to the 509th Composite Group—the atomic bomb group.

In a 1980 interview with theologian, peace advocate and later Catholic priest Charles McCarthy in Sojourners magazine, a Christian social justice and peace publication, Zabelka said during war, the destruction of civilians was always forbidden by the church.

"If a soldier came to me and asked if he could put a bullet through a child's head, I would have told him absolutely not. That would be mortally sinful," he said.

But in 1945 on Tinian Island in the South Pacific, where the atomic bomb group was based, three planes every minute would take off around the clock, Zabelka said.

From the interview:

"Many of these planes went to Japan with the express purpose of killing not one child or one civilian but of slaughtering hundreds and thousands of children and civilians—and I said nothing. ...

As a chaplain I often had to enter the world of the boys who were losing their minds because of something they did in war. I remember one young man who was engaged in the bombings of the cities of Japan. He was in the hospital on Tinian Island on the verge of a complete mental collapse.

He told me that he had been on a low-level bombing mission, flying right down one of the main streets of the city, when straight ahead of him appeared a little boy, in the middle of the street, looking up at the plane in childlike wonder. The man knew that in a few seconds the child would be burned to death by napalm which had already been released.

Yes, I knew civilians were being destroyed ... Yet I never preached a single sermon against killing civilians to the men who were doing it. ...

I was "brainwashed"! It never entered my mind to publicly protest the consequences of these massive air raids.

I was told the raids was necessary; told openly by the military and told implicitly by my Church's leadership. To the best of my knowledge no American cardinals or bishops were opposing these mass air raids. Silence in such matters, especially by a public body like the American bishops, is a stamp of approval. ...

Look, I am a Catholic priest. In August of 1945, I did not say to the boys on Tinian, "You cannot follow Christ and drop those bombs." But this same failure on the part of priests, pastors and bishops over the past 1700 years is, I believe, what is significantly responsible for Hiroshima and Nagasaki and for the seemingly unceasing "Christian" blood-letting around the globe.

It seems to me that Christians have been slaughtering each other, as well as non-Christians, for the past 1700 years, in large part because their priests, pastors and bishops have simply not told them that violence and homicide are incompatible with the teachings of Jesus."

Zabelka said that 75,000 people were burned to death in one night of fire bombing over Tokyo. And hundreds of thousands were killed in Dresden and Hamburg, Germany, and Coventry, England, by aerial bombing.

"The fact that 45,000 human beings were killed by one bomb over Nagasaki was new only to the extent that it was one bomb that did it," Zabelka said.

Whether it's from one nuclear bomb or conventional bombs, bombs kill. Jesus did not teach us to kill, but to love everyone unconditionally -- even our enemies.

After years of soul-searching, Zabelka's complete conversion from a strong proponent of the "just war theory" to a total pacifist was announced in a 1975 Christmas letter to friends, stating, "I must do an about face. ... I have come to the conclusion that the truth of the Gospel is that Jesus was nonviolent and taught nonviolence as his way."

Zabelka dedicated the rest of his life to teaching, preaching and witnessing to Gospel nonviolence. He died in 1992.

In 1983, he and a Jesuit priest, Fr. Jack Morris, organized and participated in the Bethlehem Peace Pilgrimage starting at the nuclear submarine base in Bangor, Wash., and ending on Christmas Eve in 1984 in Bethlehem.

When Zabelka reached Maryland, I had the good fortune of hearing him personally share his inspiring story of conversion.

I strongly recommend reading Zabelka's entire Sojourners magazine interview and ordering from the Center for Christian Nonviolence the excellent DVD "Fr. George Zabelka: The Reluctant Prophet." Or simply click here to view it.

Love is the only remedy to the world's violent ills. In the end, the God of love, the God who is love, will unfold the fullness of his kingdom where all violence, all war, all injustice, and all sin have been conquered.

But for us here and now, we can either choose to rationalize and condone violence and war, or we can help God build his kingdom of life and love.

In the biblical book of Deuteronomy, the author lays out a divine ultimatum for humanity: "I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord, your God, obeying his voice, and holding fast to him."

May we always choose life!

(Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings about Catholic social teaching. His keynote address, "Advancing the Kingdom of God in the 21st Century," has been well received by diocesan gatherings from San Clemente, Calif., to Baltimore. His email address is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

Regina Terenzio of Norwalk’s Room to Grow Preschool, receives 2015 Family Champion Award
| August 10, 2015 • by By Rowena Daly—CCFC


NORWALK—Walk the halls of Room to Grow Preschool in Norwalk and you’ll hear laughter and singing.

On the walls, colorful paintings, sculptures and drawings hang and in the playground, little legs run as fast as they can in a thrilling game of hide and seek.

Creating a successful pre-school like Room to Grow is incredibly difficult task that can only be achieved through the hard work of dedicated staff and teachers.

Exemplifying that dedication is Regina Terenzio, an administrator at the well-regarded and exceedingly popular pre-school program in Norwalk, which is operated by Catholic Charities of Fairfield County (CCFC). Mrs. Terenzio’s dedication to early childhood education has earned her the 2015 Family Champion Award presented by the Connecticut Council of Family Service Agencies.

“This is such a diverse and loving place,” said Ms. Terenzio. “It’s amazing to see what these children learn in a course of a year. Many of our 3 year-olds begin school only speaking Spanish and by the end the year they are fluent in English, Spanish and maybe smattering of Polish or another foreign language. It is simply amazing!”

Room to Grow has 83 three and four-year-old students in its program with a waiting list of more than 100 families. Ms. Terenzio has worked with Catholic Charities’s pre-school for 16 years. She assists Director, Nancy Owens in managing the three pre-school sites – two in Norwalk and one in Stamford.

Ms. Terenzio has worked as an educator for 27 years in both Stamford and Norwalk. Her love of art and education inspired her to write, 50 Activities to Encourage Cooperation and Sharing, an activity book for parents and teachers. She has an Associate Degree in Early Childhood education from Norwalk Community College and a Bachelor Degree from the on-line program, the Charter Oak State College. Mrs. Terenzio lives in Stamford. She is a member of St. Johns Catholic and also attends St. Matthews in Norwalk.

“Regina plays an integral role in supporting staff, families and students so that the school can operate without a glitch,” said Director Nancy Owens, a veteran early childhood educator, who for the past 20 years has managed two Room to Grow Preschools in Norwalk and is opening a third this fall in Stamford. Mrs. Owens was the recipient of the Family Champion Award in 2012.

Room to Grow is located at 208 East Avenue, Norwalk, Ct. 06850. The school is accepting names for wait list. Families must reside in Norwalk.

Annually the Connecticut Council of Family Service Agencies, Inc. recognizes one Board Member and one staff member from each of our member agencies as Family Champions. The Council is a statewide network of 15 independent, non-profit, family service agencies that deliver services to over 150,000 families annually from more than 100 sites located throughout Connecticut.

Next Mass Mob set for this Sunday in Bridgeport
| August 07, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Join the Mass Mob of Fairfield County as it celebrates its First Anniversary this Sunday, August 9. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the celebrant at St. Mary Church, 25 Sherman St., Bridgeport on August 9 at 10:30 am.

More than 450 faithful attended Mass Mob IV at St. Patrick Church in the Cathedral Parish in April. Organizers are hoping for the largest gathering yet this Sunday.

Seminarian Andre Escaleira Jr. is one of the driving forces behind the Mass Mob, and he says that the excitement and commitment are building in this movement that’s helping to unite the diocese and further celebrate its diversity. “Pope Francis has encouraged young people to “make a mess in the dioceses.” Mass Mob is that opportunity to “make a mess” in our own Diocese by gathering in the hundreds at one place, one time, to join our voices in the greatest prayer of the Church. Our goals are to foster the Bishop’s call to cultivate a welcoming spirit, build bridges beyond the reach of our local parish family, strengthen the bonds that make us brothers and sisters, and assist our host parish financially during the collection. Jesus gives each of us the responsibility to evangelize and so—as Jesus goes out to us in the Eucharist to strengthen us in this mission—so Mass Mob cultivates our mission of evangelization through the Eucharistic union we all share in the Body of Christ. Our Bishop has called for us to build up our community of faith and Pope Francis has called us to “make a mess” in our own diocese…Let’s Mob!”

Andre writes on the Mass Mob website: “As Mass Mobbers, our goal is to visit parishes around the county and pray together with the community in that parish. As a result of our visit, we will come away with an experience of the global church: its diversity, our unity in Christ, and the different ways that communities within the same Church worship. We will see new churches, meet new priests and parishioners, and expand our knowledge of our very own Diocese and County. As an added bonus, when we come together in prayer at a new church and give generously to that community, we will be helping different parishes financially to reach their different goals.

Though there are all of these benefits, the #1 benefit for us is to get to receive Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass! There's nothing greater than that!”

You won’t want to miss this special anniversary Mass Mob! What is Mass Mob? It is a flash mob for Mass and much more. For info go to or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Updated 08/10/2015: Click here for pictures from this event

Summer Splash with Bishop Frank Caggiano
| August 05, 2015


STAMFORD—The Second Annual Summer Splash took place Sunday, August 9th at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, 1200 Shippan Avenue, Stamford, CT 06902.

Bishop Caggiano celebrated a special mass for young adults at 2:30 pm. Afterwards, there was a social at World of Beer (18 Harbor Point Road, Stamford, CT 06902), for food and conversation.

Click here to see pictures from this event!


It’s Fore the Good of Catholic Charities
| August 05, 2015


FAIRFIELD—More than 100 golfers participated in the Annual Catholic Charities / Aetna Golf Classic and Lobster Fest at the Patterson Golf Club in Fairfield, Connecticut raising $124,234 to support Catholic Charities of Fairfield County (CCFC) which serves nearly 10,000 needy and vulnerable individuals annually.

“This is a fun event that also supports a meaningful cause,” said Gil Keegan, Aetna’s Vice President of Sales and Service. “We believe in the work of Catholic Charities and Aetna is excited to continue this partnership and sponsor the 2016 Golf Outing.”

“Next year’s tournament should be quite special as part of our year-long events marking our 100th anniversary,” said to Al Barber, President of CCFC. “Since 1916, Catholic Charities of Fairfield County has provided families and individuals with food, shelter, clothing or counseling. Thanks to individual and corporate sponsors, we serve as the largest private provider of social services in Connecticut.”

CCFC Board Members, Bill Tommins from Bank of America / Merrill Lynch and Jon Vaccarella from Merrill Lynch served as co-chairs. Michael LaBella, TD Bank Group of Fairfield and Gil Keegan of Aetna served as event committee members.

Signature Sponsor of the Golf Outing: Aetna

Gold Sponsor of the Awards Banquet:
Ed McGettigan, Jr. & the American Transit Insurance Company
Denis and Britta Nayden

Silver Sponsors of the Welcome Luncheon:
Bank of America & Merrill Lynch

Bronze Sponsors of Cocktail Hour: Benefit Planning Services, LLC
TD Bank

General Event Sponsors
Colonial Toyota
Mitchells Family of Stores
Stew Leonards’
CrossBay Capital Partners
Jim McPartlan

Golf Balls provided by Benefit Planning Services, LLC.

Catholic Charities of Fairfield County (CCFC) is the largest private provider of social services in the state of Connecticut. We put “faith in action” by providing food and nutrition, immigration, adoption, mental health, affordable housing and family support services to the needy and vulnerable of all faiths throughout the County. In addition to sponsoring the state’s two largest inner city soup kitchens, Merton Center in Bridgeport and New Covenant House of Hospitality in Stamford, the agency serves thousands of the elderly each day through its Senior Nutrition Program and manages a network of counseling and family services offices throughout the region. Recently Catholic Charities has partnered with the State and several communities to provide affordable supportive housing for homeless individuals and families. Its programs and services are delivered by a professional staff assisted by hundreds of interfaith volunteers. To learn more visit the Catholic Charities on the web:

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Event Supports CCFC’s Soup Kitchens, Food Pantries, Pre-Schools, Behavioral Health Clinics, Adoption, Disaster Relief, Senior Nutrition & Immigration

Ambassador expects pope to challenge Americans to live nation’s ideals
| August 04, 2015 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—The U.S. ambassador to the Holy See believes Pope Francis is not traveling to the United States in September to scold anyone, but to challenge the country's people to live up to their ideals.

"I don't think he's coming to the United States to antagonize, to criticize, to call out people," Ken Hackett, the ambassador, told Catholic News Service Aug. 4. "I think he's coming to shore up. But he won't hesitate from speaking out about some of the issues he feels passionately about."

Poverty, immigration, climate change, inclusion and respect for human dignity and human life are regularly on the pope's agenda, he said, and they could be on the nation's political agenda as it gears up for the 2016 presidential primaries, which begin five months after Pope Francis visits.

"There are those in the United States who would like our political candidates to address some issues that would be very close to Pope Francis: poverty in the United States, poverty around the world, migration," for example, Hackett said.

By raising those issues, the pope will "kind of drop them into the political discussion," the ambassador said. "You can't ignore them any longer."

The timing of the pope's visit to the United States, Sept. 22-27, is "kind of serendipitous, but you use serendipity where you can," Hackett said. "Pope Francis can raise issues that Americans would like raised with our political candidates."

Asked what issues he thinks Pope Francis will challenge Americans on, the ambassador replied, "You can hope and you can speculate. I am a person of hope, but I'm paid to speculate.

"So I believe that what he has already said in terms of changing our lifestyle so that we can live in different ways, in ways that are more harmonious with our environment, that we can engage in a deeper sense of solidarity and compassion with those who have less -- I think he'll challenge us to step up in that way," he said.

"We're a nation of great accomplishments, of people of imagination and compassion. I believe Pope Francis will call Americans to that greatness," Hackett said. "He will push us to do even more."

Both St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI spoke strongly against legalized abortion when they visited the United States. It is an issue of grave concern to the Catholic Church and one that became a topic of serious debate in late July and early August after the release of videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the use and sale of fetal tissues from abortions.

While Pope Francis does not shy away from condemning abortion -- "he doesn't muddle over it at all" -- the ambassador said he is not certain the pope will address abortion in the same way as his predecessors did while visiting the United States.

A recent Gallup survey showed Pope Francis' popularity declining among Americans, but Hackett is convinced it is not of any importance to the pope.

"I bet he has not read the survey and it just doesn't matter. In my two years of reasonably close watching of Pope Francis, that's not where he is -- surveys. He speaks from his heart and he speaks with thought about things he believes passionately on, whether it's politically acceptable or not."

"Pope Francis walks the walk and talks the talk," Hackett said. "He is everything that you would expect a pope to be: He is deeply prayerful; deeply thoughtful; he is engaged on world issues, but always from the point of view of the least of us. I think Americans and people worldwide recognize that."

Lower approval ratings or not, the ambassador believes that "when Americans see Pope Francis reaching out behind the Secret Service guys to embrace the child, the elderly -- they will love him even more."

Asked whether the Secret Service would feel the same, the ambassador said a long process of careful planning has gone into the pope's visit. "Our Secret Service apparatus is the best in the world. They have been planning for this visit for a long time, and I think they are ready for Pope Francis."

Pope Francis will leave the Vatican Sept. 19, spending three days in Cuba before flying to the United States. U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro have credited Pope Francis and the Vatican with helping them ease tensions and move toward the restoration of normal relations.

The pope's decision to fly to Cuba before going on to Washington is a decision the Obama administration has welcomed, Hackett said. "I think it can be a moment of healing, a moment where he can call attention to the good things that are happening and maybe call out some of the things that need to be improved."

In a 1998 booklet of reflections on the speeches and homilies St. John Paul made during his historic visit to Cuba a few months earlier, the pope -- then-Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires -- argued that a sincere and honest dialogue would benefit both the U.S. and Cuba.

At the same time, Archbishop Bergoglio argued for the full freedom of the Catholic Church in Cuba to preach the Gospel and minister to the poor, and he denounced ideological systems that offend the transcendent dignity of the human person.

Editors: A related video can be viewed at

Jim Duffy serves up charity—and a good meal
| August 03, 2015 • by By Rowena Daly


STAMFORD—For nearly four decades, Jim Duffy, a grandfatherly volunteer, has stocked shelves, made sandwiches and ladled soup for the hungry guests of the New Covenant House (NCH) soup kitchen and food pantry in Stamford, Ct, and a program of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County.

On a July evening, Duffy welcomed prospective donors and volunteers to NCH. He humorously and enthusiastically recounted how NCH had evolved from a soup kitchen that served primarily single men to an operation that offers men, women, families lunch and dinner and access to a fully stocked food pantry.

The group of prospective donors and volunteers were in awe of his consistent and selfless service over that past 40 years. “When I started volunteering in 1978, we served two items to our guests – soup and reheated soup,” joked Mr. Duffy. Amid the laughter, Mr. Duffy clearly conveyed the joy of helping others and the need to support NCH.

The volunteers and donors toured the state-of-the-art kitchen, food pantry, offices, café, computer and laundry facilities. John Gutman, NCH Executive Director and Paul Harinstein, NCH Advisory Board Chair, explained the need to raise $325,000 to create a job skills program, a client casework initiative, medical and health services, and welcome more families to the Food Pantry. To date more than $1.3 million has been raised.

“Our work is not simply to feed the poor but help people break the cycle of poverty, build self-confidence and independence,” said Gutman.

New Covenant House serves the greater Stamford area, which includes Stamford, New Canaan, Greenwich and Darien. The guests are the poor and disadvantaged including the homeless, working poor, elderly, mentally ill, HIV/AIDS clients, the disabled and immigrants, both with and without citizenship documentation. Sixty percent of the 425 people that come every day are of Spanish descent.

In October 1978, New Covenant House served its first meal from the basement of little building on West Main Street in Stamford. Since then thousands of hungry people have found physical and social nourishment at NCH. It now resides at 174 Richmond Hill Avenue, on Stamford’s West Side.

To contribute or volunteer please visit

Or send a check to 174 Richmond Hill Avenue, Stamford, CT 06902

Promoting family means accompanying, not condemning, theologians say
| August 01, 2015 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—In being a minister of God’s mercy and a guide on the path to holiness, the Catholic Church must develop better ways to “accompany” people in their family life and not simply condemn those who fail, said a diverse group of theologians, including the former theologian of the papal household.

Cardinal Georges Cottier, who served as the papal theologian from 1989 to 2005, said, “In rigorism, there is an innate brutality that is contrary to the delicacy with which God guides each person.”

La Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit journal reviewed at the Vatican prior to publication, published an interview July 30 with Cardinal Cottier about mercy and the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the family.

The cardinal said he was certain that the Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis would influence the synod’s work, which has the task of proclaiming God’s plan for the human family and assisting all Catholics – including those in what the Church would define as “irregular” situations – to grow in holiness.

“Some people have been scandalized by the Church because of a negative judgment issued in an impersonal and soulless way,” Cardinal Cottier said. “They have felt driven away, rejected in a serious manner.”

While the Church’s ministers must uphold Church teaching, he said, “this must be presented and explained in a language that clearly transmits the maternal concern of the Church.”

“Through the voice of its pastors,” Cardinal Cottier said, “the Church always must demonstrate that it is guided by the requirements of divine mercy.”

Also in late July, the German bishops’ conference posted on its website translations of papers from a theological study day May 25, sponsored by the presidents of the bishops’ conferences of Germany, France and Switzerland. In preparation for the synod Oct. 4-25, the bishops said they wanted to hear the reflections of theologians, biblical scholars and canon lawyers. Some writers, who were not invited to the meeting and were critical of the position of some of the participants, dubbed it a “shadow synod.”

Most of the speakers insisted that while the Church’s doctrine and canon law must speak in general terms, the pastoral applications of its teaching on marriage and family life must take into account the history and situation of the individuals involved and offer them guidance and assistance in growing in holiness.

Anne-Marie Pelletier, a theologian from Paris, told the bishops that the Gospel makes clear that Jesus saw the indissolubility of marriage as what God wanted for man and woman; the first account of creation in the Book of Genesis, she said, even implies that the bond is “that which renders humanity in ‘the image of God.’“

However, she said, the Church must find a way to offer healing and resurrection to those who, “after a failure or abandonment, make a commitment – for reasons inseparable from their personal stories, which are always unique – to a second union.”

Father Francois-Xavier Amherdt, a theologian in Fribourg, Switzerland, spoke to the bishops about sexuality as an expression of love. He insisted on the importance of “refusing every discrimination against people who recognize themselves as homosexual,” but he also said the Church must make “an affirmation of non-equivalence” between heterosexuality and homosexuality.

In Genesis, Adam was able to say of Eve, “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh,” because she was “not a copy, but what he was missing,” Father Amherdt said. The male-female difference is important, he said.

In situations where couples are not living the ideal of Catholic marriage, he said, the Church’s pastoral practice must reflect “a theology of grace,” which recognizes what good does exist in their love for another and tries to build on that.

Jesuit Father Alain Thomasset, who teaches in Paris, told the bishops that a Church approach focused more on recognizing “intrinsically evil” acts, rather than on promoting spiritual growth, is bound to fail today. It begins by “condemning artificial contraception, the sexual acts of the divorced and (civilly) remarried and of homosexual couples, even those who are stable” in their commitment to one another.

Pastoral accompaniment, he said, is motivated by a belief that “the God of Jesus Christ is a God of love, who does not want death but life and happiness and who calls each person to progress on a journey of growth and holiness.”

Forgiveness and mercy are essential to the progress, he said, and could be extended in certain circumstances to some divorced and civilly remarried Catholics and to some Catholic homosexuals who are in faithful, stable relationships.

A summary of the discussions at the May meeting said reconciliation is “a fundamental dimension of the Christian message. In this context, it was said that a process of reconciliation for all men and women in every situation cannot be renounced.”

“The fact that for the divorced and remarried, who are sexually active in their second relationship, there is no possibility of reconciliation constitutes a dead end,” it said. “In religious practice there is no parallel for this refusal.”

Notre Dame’s Lucy Grant glitters on diamond
| July 31, 2015 • by By Don Harris


FAIRFIELD—Is baseball an appropriate game for girls?

Lucy Grant, who just completed her freshman year at Notre Dame Catholic High School in Fairfield, answers with a resounding “Yes.” And her actions speak louder than words.

Lucy was a valuable member of the Lancers’ otherwise-all-male junior varsity baseball team this spring, batting .259 while dividing her playing time between first base and designated hitter.

“She actually did well for us,” says JV Coach Mike Mildrum.

“She had a few big games. Against Joel Barlow, she had a clutch two-RBI single that put us three runs ahead. We won the game, 6-3. Even after Pete Minore came back from a broken wrist to play first, she was still my extra hitter. She played regularly during the final third of the season.”

Lucy, who resides in Bethel with her parents Richard Grant and Holly Heslin, remembers another noteworthy game against Bethel High—the public school she would have attended had she not opted for Notre Dame.

“One of my best friends was pitching and I got two hits off him,” she explains, smiling. “I got two RBIs and we ended up winning 6-5.”

Baseball has been an important part of Lucy’s life for as long as she recall. Despite frequent encounters with sexism, she has persevered and done well at every level.

“We’ve been very supportive of her,” says her mother, who played softball and caught at Brookfield High. “We lived in a neighborhood where the kids were primarily boys, and so she played ball with them. I remember in wiffle ball, Lucy started hitting it onto our roof.”

Why hasn’t Lucy embraced softball? Easy answer. “When I was little, softball wasn’t competitive at all,” she responds.

Playing Little League baseball in Danbury and Bethel, Lucy thumped home runs and a multitude of other hits against male pitchers. “Hitting was the one thing I was really good,” she says. “When I played with a Bethel travel team at 11, I experienced a lot of sexism from the boys.”

Richard Grant concurs. “When Lucy played in a local league in Bethel, some people in the organization were supportive, others were not,” he says.

At age 12, Lucy found her niche with the Technique Tigers, an otherwise all-boy AAU team based in Bridgeport that plays a 40-game schedule. She continued to develop her skills and—as she readily admits—improve her comparatively subpar fielding.

“At tryouts, everyone was so nice… but at first they were a little bit skeptical,” she says. “Hitting is my strong point. When I joined the Tigers, they just drilled first base into me, so now I’m a lot better in the field.”

The Tigers’ coach, Manny Torrez, played a role in Lucy’s decision to attend Notre Dame. Jim Olayos, now the Lancers’ director of athletic advancement, had coached Torrez in baseball at St. Joseph, and their connection paid dividends. (As an aside, Grant drives his daughter to school each morning en route to his job as an attorney in Stamford.)

Last August, Lucy at 14 was the junior member of the American team that competed in the inaugural LG Cup Women’s International Baseball Tournament at Icheon, South Korea. The U.S. played six games in a field that included squads from Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Taiwan and two from South Korea.

“Basically, they were professional teams from South Korea, Australia and Hong Kong,” she says. “My parents accompanied me on the trip and it was expensive, but worth it.”

Together, the American women watched portions of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., where a 13-year-old girl named Mo’ne Davis burst onto the scene by pitching a two-hit shutout. “She throws like a girl” took on a whole new meaning.

“There have been girls in the Little League World Series before,” says Lucy, “but she was the first one to really stand out.”

So, what about Notre Dame and the 2016 baseball season? Players from the Lancers’ softball team are encouraging Lucy to switch to the smaller diamond, but she has rebuffed them thus far.

“My dream as a sophomore,” she states, “is to play varsity baseball.”

“If she wants to play baseball,” says Mildrum, “there’s a spot for her on the team.”

Planned Parenthood Foes Rally Against Abortion In Stamford
| July 30, 2015 • by By Frank MacEachern


STAMFORD—Laila Bravo said that when she turned to Planned Parenthood for information after she became pregnant in 2014, the only thing she heard from them was how she could abort the fetus.

"The receptionist said we do abortions here," Bravo said during a protest against Planned Parenthood on Tuesday in front of the Stamford Government Center.

She said she made an appointment to speak to someone about an abortion. But in the meantime, she turned to Norwalk-based Malta House for help. Bravo decided to have her baby, who is now a healthy 7-month-old girl. It is her second child.

Bravo was one of a number of speakers at the noontime rally, which attracted more than 150 people. The protesters oppose abortion and seek to defund Planned Parenthood after a pair of controversial videos surfaced.

"I chose life," Bravo said at the rally. "Today, every day, every night, I get to kiss my baby good night rather than cry. And I thank you all for supporting life."

Planned Parenthood has been under fire in recent weeks after the release of a pair of videos recorded surreptitiously by an anti-abortion group, the Center for Medical Progress. In the videos, Planned Parenthood employees are seen discussing how the organization handles the donation of fetal tissue after abortions.

Greenwich resident Sharon Boland of the 40 Days for Life organization accused Planned Parenthood of not telling the truth to women who come to them for abortions.

"They are more than happy to tell these young women that they can have abortions without without telling them they are working on the side with third-party vendors and these third-party vendors are interested in purchasing the human body parts of the children that are being aborted," Boland said at the rally.

Another speaker at the rally was state Sen. Michael McLachlan, a Republican from Danbury.

Conservative critics have gone on the attack, saying that Planned Parenthood is making money of the sale of fetal parts and that the organization has broken the law.

Planned Parenthood has said the organization does not profit from fetal tissue donations and said clinics can only charge fees to cover transportation and handling of the donations.

Some Republican lawmakers are calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, which receives more than $500 million in federal funds annually.

Click here to view a slideshow from the event.

Click to read a first-hand account of the rally.

$2 million in aid distributed to diocesan families
| July 28, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—The Bishop’s Scholarship Fund (BSF) has awarded over $2 million in scholarship aid to students in Catholic elementary schools throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport, according to Siobhan Lidington, executive director of the fund.

TUITION AID—In June, more than 1,800 families of all income
levels throughout the diocese received notification of their scholarship
amounts. In addition to helping financially challenged families,
the fund also gives a boost to families with more than one child in diocesan schools.

In June, more than 1,800 students received notification of their scholarship amounts. The funds were distributed to families at all income levels throughout the diocese.

“This fund is truly transformational because it supports the decision of all families in our diocese who want a Catholic education for their children,” Lidington said, noting that the diocese will continue taking new applications for aid over the summer.

Over $350,000 was awarded to families with more than one child enrolled in Catholic schools regardless of their income. Over 300 new students received aid, while almost $1 million was given to families who did not qualify for aid in the past.

Students demonstrating the most need were awarded up to 85 percent of the full tuition cost, an increase of $1,000 over past awards.

When the fund was announced in January, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano noted that in addition to inner-city families who could not afford the cost of a Catholic education, many suburban families were also struggling to meet the cost of tuition, particularly if they have more than one child in diocesan schools.
“We want these and all families to know that they can benefit from scholarship aid,” said the bishop. He noted that the fund is designed to award scholarships of varying amounts to as many students as possible who otherwise could not attend or remain enrolled in the diocesan-sponsored Catholic school of their choice because of financial need.

The scholarship fund, which was approved by the Diocesan Consultors in December 2014, substantially creates a new financial model for diocesan assistance to schools.

Lidington said the BSF was initially capped at $1.4 million for its first year, but the diocese received a gift enabling it to distribute $2 million. She said that one hundred percent of all the funds raised are distributed for scholarship aid. The Bishop’s Scholarship Fund is a permanent fund designed to provide tuition assistance on an annual basis for students to attend our diocesan-sponsored schools.

The first year of the funding has been reserved for elementary school students. High school students will also be able to apply for scholarship aid in 2016.

The diocese educates more than 9,000 students in its 35 (five high schools, 29 elementary, and one center for early childhood excellence) Catholic schools in grades Pre-K-12 throughout Fairfield County.

Families can apply for scholarships each year for as long as the student attends a diocesan elementary or high school.

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

(For more info or to make a donation, contact Siobhan Lidington: 203.416.1405 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

New Haven area teens crush Marathon Record as they Swim Across the Sound for Cancer
| July 28, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Bright sunshine and calm waters greeted 140 swimmers as they took on the 15.5 miles between Long Island, New York and Bridgeport, Connecticut on Saturday for the 28th Annual SWIM Across the Sound Marathon.

The Hopkins Hilltoppers celebrate their 1st place finish in Saturday’s
St. Vincent’s 28th Annual SWIM Across the Sound Marathon.
The team crushed the previous record by over two hours, with a time
of 5 hours, 54 minutes, and 32 seconds. (l-r) Philip Ross of Woodbridge;
Katharine Larsen of Milford; Michael Zhu of Woodbridge; Team Captain
Mollie Seidner of  Woodbridge; Gwyneth Maloy and Evan Schott
of New Haven.                            Photo by Amy Mortensen

Motivated by personal experiences with survivorship and loss, the swimmers had one shared goal in mind: supporting 30,000 people annually who are battling cancer and their families.

This year’s SWIM raised over $250,000, all of which goes to St. Vincent’s 45 cancer education, prevention, and assistance programs. A group of six teens from New Haven’s Hopkins School, called the “Hopkins Hilltoppers,” came in first place completing the marathon in five hours, 54 minutes, and 32 seconds, crushing the previous record of 8:15:20.
“When we were about half way across, we realized we had a good chance of winning,” explained Team Captain Mollie Seidner, age 16, of Woodbridge. “For a while it was neck and neck between us and two other teams but we were determined!” While most were motivated by their love of the sport, two team members' grandparents had cancer, making the connection a personal one. In addition to Seidner, members of the Hopkins Hilltoppers include Katharine Larsen, 16, of Milford; Gwyneth Maloy, 16, of New Haven; Philip Ross, 16, of Woodbridge; Evan Schott, 15, of New Haven; and Michael Zhu, 15, of Woodbridge.
Coming in second and third places were the “Wavecrushers” and “Swim Seventy +/-,” which recorded 5:58:37 and 6:00:09 respectively. This year’s marathon included four solo swimmers, 20 team relays of four to six swimmers, and four (4) two-person relays.

One other course record was broken in the name of cancer support, as well. "Brown Emergency Medicine," whose members are emergency room doctors at the Rhode Island Hospital Level I Trauma Center, broke the record for the Corporate Challenge Relay, coming in at seven hours, 40 minutes, and 17 seconds.
“Our motto is: ‘We want to crush cancer!’” offered Mike Hunihan, Brown Emergency Medicine team captain. “This event rocked—we want to make this a yearly deal! And for everyone who has cancer—keep fighting!”

Emotions ran high as swimmers arrived at Captain's Cove Seaport in the historic Black Rock neighborhood of Bridgeport:
- For Carlos Acosta, a 42 year old solo swimmer from Mexico City, completing this marathon brings him one step closer to qualifying to swim the English Channel. With his parents and aunt cheering him on from the docks, he emerged from the waters exhausted but ecstatic.

- Tom Casey, a stage 4 cancer survivor who swam with the "Survivors," inspired not only his teammates, but everyone on the docks who witnessed him triumphantly cross the finish line. The dockside crowd shared his tears of joy as he joined his teammates for a group photo. Casey has been swimming in the Marathon since 2002. He believed in the cause and felt privileged to use his interest and skills in swimming to help patients and their families who battle cancer and the many burdens it brings along with it. He never dreamed he would find himself on the other end of the battle himself. "The SWIM Across the Sound has a brand new meaning for me now. We just never know when we might find ourselves struggling for our lives."

- Led by Senator Richard Blumenthal, hundreds shouted words of encouragement to Marlon Meggie of the St. Vincent's Bullsharks, whose muscles had cramped, making the final approach incredibly painful. Determined to complete the marathon together, his teammates took turns flanking both his sides to help him cross the finish line.
Dozens of cancer survivors and their families were able to cruise aboard the "Spirit of the Sound" and watch the swimmers as they crossed Long Island Sound. The 64-foot catamaran was generously donated by the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk.

"This is the first year we were able to bring families out onto the water to see the swimmers in action and everyone loved it," shared Lyn McCarthy, executive director, St. Vincent's Medical Center Foundation, which sponsors the SWIM Across the Sound Marathon. “To see these families together, laughing and having a carefree time, knowing what they've survived, is very special.”
Since that first marathon raised $5,000 in 1987, the SWIM has grown into a series of year-round events. Each swimmer and team raised funds in order to participate in the SWIM, which offers a significant safety net to the region by providing one-on-one financial assistance to cancer patients regardless of where they receive their care.
“We encourage people living with cancer to focus their energy on maintaining their health. Let the SWIM help with the other day-to-day concerns - that’s what we’re here for,” McCarthy explained. “We owe a debt of gratitude to all of our swimmers, boat captains, crew, volunteers, and donors. It’s thanks to them that people fighting cancer, some without insurance or money for food, utilities, medications, or housing, now have somewhere to turn.”
St. Vincent’s SWIM Across the Sound provides cancer education, screening, and prevention 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 needs, such as the funding of wigs and prostheses, payment of utilities or rent, medication assistance, free transportation to treatments and appointments, day-care scholarships, support groups and more. For more information on the SWIM, visit

Televised Mass returns to Cablevision
| July 28, 2015


HARTFORD—Viewers who have missed watching the Celebration of the Eucharist daily Television Mass for the past couple of years will be able to see it again every day of the week at 10 am on Cablevision’s Channel 84 serving Fairfield County.

Starting Sunday, July 26, 2015 the popular program returns to Cablevision on the Local Programming Channel, Channel 84, for half an hour Monday through Saturday and on Sunday for an hour that also includes news from the Office of Radio and Television (ORTV) of the Archdiocese of Hartford.

“This is wonderful news for the Diocese of Bridgeport,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano. “It will be a tremendous gift to the elderly, sick and infirm who cannot travel to Mass on Sunday.”

The bishop said he was deeply grateful to Father John Gatzak, executive director of ORTV for all of his efforts to bring the Mass back to Cablevision. Father Gatzak and the ORTV production team will also produce the live broadcast of the Synod Celebration Mass on Saturday, September 19, (broadcast details will be provided in the next issue of FCC).

“So many people who can’t get to church, whether they’re recovering from an operation or homebound because they don’t drive anymore, tell me how much they appreciate hearing the Good News of Jesus and feel reassured of God’s love for them by watching the Mass each day,” Father Gatzak says.

Now fragile seniors and shut-ins will have the consolation of faith available to them again. The Celebration of the Eucharist has aired every day since 1984, but was not available on Cablevision in recent years.

“We’re very happy to be again reaching our loyal viewers in Fairfield County,” says Father Gatzak, who will include priests from the Diocese of Bridgeport among the celebrants of the televised liturgy. “Bishop Caggiano plans to celebrate Mass on television in the near future.”

The offices and studios of ORTV and WJMJ Radio, a service of the Archdiocese of Hartford, are located at 15 Peach Orchard Road in Prospect.

The Celebration of the Eucharist is still available to those who receive WCCT-TV, channel 20’s over-the-air signal with an external antenna, or get WCCT on Dish TV or Direct TV service or from another local cable provider. It can also be viewed live each day at 10 am or on-demand at anytime at: by choosing “Television” on the “Programming” menu item.

St. Peter Church says farewell to the end of an era: Reverend Monsignor Aniceto Villamide retires as Pastor
| July 27, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Reverend Monsignor Aniceto Villamide ended his pastoral mission as Pastor of St. Peter Church on June 30, 2015, after 30 years of service in the Dioceses of Bridgeport.

On Sunday, June 28, St. Peter Parish honored their pastor in a very special way.

Starting at 7:30 am, Monsignor was serenaded with the mañanitas sung by his parishioners, followed by a moment of prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament where everyone knelt and prayed for their Pastor. A special solemn Mass of Thanksgiving was offered for Monsignor Villamide.

The Mass was con-celebrated by several priests and deacons from our Dioceses and Washington. The church was filled to capacity with many faithful parishioners and friends, including some from as far as Florida, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and New York. They made presence to pray for this very special priest, a unique man, a man of faith, a man of God, and a holy priest.

During his homily, Monsignor thanked his parishioners for allowing him to walk with them the journey of faith for the past 30 years. The Apostolic Papal Blessing was presented to Monsignor by his parishioners, and the children of the parish also sung a very special song to him.

After the Mass, a reception took place in the church hall where Monsignor was received by a mariachi band and hundreds of parishioners and friends shared their love, support and well wishes to their very special Shepherd. A dinner reception also took place at Vazzano’s Four Seasons that evening.

St. Peter Parish honored and celebrated Monsignor Villamide’s life with a very special program that included dances, poems, songs, presentations, and gifts. This was a very emotional day for everyone, especially for Monsignor Villamide.

Monsignor Villamide is a true disciple and missionary of Christ. He is a priest chosen by God from all eternity to accomplish the mission of bringing his love and forgiveness to all men. He is a priest who has always given us his all. A priest who has radiated love, has sown peace, and has preached justice. A holy priest, who has led us towards God and has made his parish community to be fervent. Monsignor is a man of the Word of God, a man of the mystery of faith, and a witness and instrument of divine mercy.

Just like Peter, who was the rock of the first Christians, Monsignor Villamide has been the rock of St. Peter Church. He has led us with passion, conviction, and firmness; but more importantly, he has led us with faith, love, compassion, humility, and kindness.

We want him to know that his words and actions have led many in the right path. There is so much that he has done for our parish and for our Dioceses! Thanks to him, we know, appreciate and love our faith. He has inspired us by his good example and testimony of faith, his loyalty and dedication to his priesthood, his commitment and service to our parish, and his unquestionable love for the Church.

Monsignor Villamide has always guided us with the truth and the light of the Gospel. He showed us the love of God, which is an unconditional love. He has taught us to live in community, preached the Word of God to us, has brought us closer to the Eucharist, and has shown us how to love Jesus in a more profound and authentic way.

We want him to know that what he has sown has produced much fruit. St. Peter is a community of strong faith thanks to his hard work, commitment, and dedication. We have many people very well prepared with the ability to be good leaders in the Church thanks to his leadership. St. Peter is who it is today thanks to Monsignor Villamide. So, we don’t say goodbye to him, we say “THANK YOU”. Thank you Monsignor for all the good you have done for these past 30 years. We have been blessed for having you as our spiritual father and as our friend. We know that every stage in life must come to an end, and this is your time. Your presence among us will be deeply missed. You leave a great void in our hearts, and our parish will never be the same.

The Lord has blessed you with many gifts and talents, and you still have much to give to the Church. We know that God has plans for you in Spain. We give our beloved Pastor, Monsignor Aniceto Villamide our heartfelt thanks for being who he is, a unique human being, a faithful priest, and a holy priest. May God continue to bless you and may our Blessed Mother guide and protect you as you embark this new chapter in your life. We love you and we will miss you!! Your parishioners and friends.

Click to read in Spanish: Reverendo Monseñor Aniceto Villamide se Retira

Franciscan Action Network’s Patrick Carolan to be honored by White House
| July 24, 2015


WASHINGTON, DC—Today it was announced that Franciscan Action Network’s Executive Director Patrick Carolan is being honored by the White House as a “Champion of Change” for his climate change advocacy work with FAN and with the Global Catholic Climate Movement.

"I'm deeply honored and grateful for this recognition by the White House," remarked Carolan, "and I'm even more excited to share the honor with so many other great faith leaders working on the issue of climate. It is my hope that our efforts will help bring greater awareness to the urgent need of all people to address the climate crisis."

Inspired by the Gospel of Jesus, and the example of saints Francis and Clare, the Franciscan Action Network (FAN) is a collective Franciscan voice seeking to transform U.S. public policy related to peacemaking, care for creation, poverty, and human rights. You can find us on facebook and twitter.

Office of Communications
July 15, 2015

White House Honors Faith Leaders for Climate "Champions of Change"

WASHINGTON, DC—On Monday, July 20, the White House will recognize twelve people of faith as "Champions of Change" for their efforts in protecting our environment and communities from the effects of climate change. These Champions have demonstrated clear leadership across the United States and around the world through their grassroots efforts to green their communities and educate others on the moral and social justice implications of climate change. The program will feature remarks by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Senior Advisor to the President Brian Deese.

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The event will be live streamed on the White House website. To watch this event live, visit >< on Monday, July 20, at 2:00 pm ET. To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program, visit Follow the conversation at #WHChamps.

Patrick Carolan, Stratford, Connecticut—Patrick Carolan has been the Executive Director of the Franciscan Action Network (FAN) for five years. He has made climate change a core issue at FAN, and has built relationships with other faith and secular organizations in that role. Patrick co-founded the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM), a coalition of Catholic leaders and organizations from across the globe that have come together to raise awareness about the urgency of climate action in light of Catholic social and environmental teachings. Prior to coming to FAN, Patrick was involved in faith rooted social justice organizing. During the 1980's and early 1990's he served as a state employee union official, serving two terms as president. He and his wife Stella have been foster parents and have adopted two children in addition to having two children.

Call to Action - Rally to Defund Planned Parenthood - Tuesday July 28 - Stamford, CT
| July 23, 2015


See photos from Rally (taken by Michelle Babyak)

STAMFORD—Join with us, Tuesday, July 28, 2015 at Noon, for a rally at the Stamford CT Government Building.

Following the release of the undercover video that went viral this past week (, showing horrific revelations regarding Planned Parenthood and the sale of aborted baby body parts, a desire within many has been stirred to do something. Already, several states have called for investigations, and some have even defunded Planned Parenthood from taxpayer dollars, but not Connecticut, and more than half a billion dollars are still going to Planned Parenthood every year.

The question is what can be done. We have an answer.

We need to bring the power of the grassroots to Planned Parenthood. We need to stand up and show that we are sick of being forced to donate to Planned Parenhood through our tax dollars. If there is a chance that the abortion giant will be defunded from our tax dollars or that there will be a proper governmental investigation into the activites of this organization, prayer and witness will need to be increased. We are participating in the nationwide "Women Betrayed" rallies here in Stamford. These rallies are happening in dozens of cities across the country, all at the same time. And we need YOU to join us.

Our rally will be from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm, Tuesday, July 28 meeting at 888 Washiontone Blvd., Stamford, CT. Immediately following the rally volunteers are invited to bring these posters to stand outside of the Planned Parenthood office in Stamford.

This rally will be in conjunction with Pro-Life Future, Students for Life of America, volunteers from pro-life groups in our Diocese and volunteers from the Order of Malta CT. There will be more to come regarding on going prayer and witness.

Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

PS. We have created a Facebook Event that we will be posting updates to. Please join the page and share it with friends at

Click to read media statement of Rally organizers

Father Peter DeMarco, 80, turned handicap into ministry
| July 22, 2015 • by By Pat Hennessy


BRIDGEPORT—Father Peter DeMarco, widely loved for his deep spirituality and for his ministry to the hearing impaired, died on July 20 in Bridgeport Hospital. He was 80 years old.

Born with a cleft palate leading to speech problems, and experiencing progressive hearing loss during adulthood, Father DeMarco turned what could have been an impediment into a beautiful asset to his ministry.

“God presents a lot of opportunities,” he said in 1988 during a day of recreation for deaf children at the Cardinal Shehan Center in Bridgeport. Moving comfortably among both the hearing and the deaf, “I can be a bridge between both worlds. I’ve never had any restrictions on me whatsoever.”

The Bridgeport native was born November 8, 1934, and attended Garfield elementary school and Fairfield Prep. He graduated from Fairfield University, where he learned sign language so he could volunteer at Mass for the hearing-impaired. He completed his theological studies at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Md., writing his thesis on teaching religion to the deaf.

Father DeMarco was ordained on May 21, 1960 in St. Augustine Cathedral by Bishop Lawrence Shehan, first Bishop of Bridgeport. His first parish assignment after ordination was at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown, followed by Sacred Heart Parish in Stamford.

In 1967, he was named the first full-time director of special education in the diocese. At that time, the office included special needs children and adults, and blind, deaf and hearing-impaired Catholics. He resided first at St. Raphael Parish in Bridgeport and then at Holy Family Parish in Fairfield.

In 1974 Father DeMarco was named pastor of St. Mary Parish in Bethel, a position he held for nearly a dozen years. He was a member of the first Priests’ Council in the Diocese of Bridgeport, a vicar for Vicariate V and a priest advisor to Juvenile Court.

In 1986, dealing with worsening hearing, he chose to leave St. Mary’s and became spiritual moderator for the special education office. In 1989, he was named diocesan moderator of the Ministry of the Deaf and Hearing-Impaired while taking an assignment as parochial vicar at St. Theresa Parish in Trumbull. In addition, in 1990, he served as temporary administrator of St. Gabriel Parish in Stamford.

Over the years he has been the spiritual advisor to the Cursillo movement, and leaves behind several meditative prayer groups that continue to meet to this day. Throughout his priesthood he continued to work with ministry to the deaf.

He was named parochial vicar of St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull in 1999, and retired to the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy Retired Priests’ Residence in 2006.

A wake for Father DeMarco will be held at the Abriola Parkview Funeral Home, 419 White Plains Rd., Trumbull, on Sunday, July 26, from 2-6 pm. The Mass for Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Theresa Parish, Trumbull, on Monday, July 27, at 11 am. Father Joseph Marcello, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull, will be the principal celebrant. Msgr. Nicholas Grieco will give the homily. Burial will follow in the family gravesite in St. Michael Cemetery in Stratford.

Father DeMarco is mourned by many family members and friends, who will miss his smile and gentle spirit.

Volunteers collect items for Project Homeless Connect Day
| July 17, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Today nearly 20 volunteers made up of religious, seminarians and lay faithful under the direction of Sr. Eileen Boffa, R.S.M. gathered at the Black Rock Senior Center in Bridgeport to pack nearly 400 backpacks with toiletries for the homeless, to be distributed next month at the August 4th Project Homeless Connect Day.

To learn more about this day long event visit:

Diocese signs up 250 for pilgrimage to Poland
| July 16, 2015 • by Jim Shay, Connecticut Post


BRIDGEPORT—More than 250 people have registered to take part in the Bridgeport Diocese’s pilgrimage to Krakow, Poland for World Youth Day next July.

Pope Francis waves from his popemobile along the Copacabana
beachfront on his way to celebrate Mass in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
Sunday, July 28, 2013. Hundreds of thousands of young people
slept under chilly skies in the white sand awaiting Francis’ final
Mass for World Youth Day.
Photo: Jorge Saenz / Associated Press

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano posted on his Facebook page that more than $200,000 in financial aid has also been awarded to help people make the trip to Poland next summer.

“There will be a second wave of financial aid awarded at the beginning of August, so I encourage all interested in coming with us to Krakow to apply,” he said.

The 12-day trip begins on Friday, July 22, 2016. The trip will also include a visit to the Auschwitz, the German concentration camp where millions lost their lives, including Saints Maximilian Kolbe, and Edith Stein. After stopping there, the group is hoping to make a brief stop in Wadowice, the home town of John Paul II. On July 27, the group will welcome Pope Francis to Krakow. The group will also attend a candlelight vigil and outdoor Mass with the pope.

“I can promise you that World Youth Day will be an incredible, life changing week, and one that you will never forget,” the bishop posted.

He encouraged young people who want to make the trip to register as soon as possible noting that no deposit has to be made until August 31.

Cassiano, who is serving as World Youth Day Liason for the U.S. bishops, spoke at the “Krakow Kickoff” on July 7 at the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C, aqccording to Fairfield County Catholic. He acknowledged that attending the global gathering in Poland next summer will have a cost—not only in money, but also in time and the hardships of traveling to a foreign country. Although anyone is welcome to attend, the event focuses on young people. Some 30,000 are expected to attend World Youth Day 2016 from the U.S., and the anticipated overall attendance is 2.5 million.

The diocese says while hotel and flight costs are still being negotiated, it has “a reasonable estimate” of $3,600 per person for the trip, including all transportation, lodging, WYD registration and many meals.

There are two catagories of “pilgrims;” those who are 16-18 years old as of July 20, 2016 and who will graduate high school in 2016 or will still be enrolled in high school in the 2016-2017 school year will be considered “Youth Pilgrims.” Those who are 18-35 years old as of July 20, 2016, and who have graduated high school in 2015 or before will be considered “Young Adult Pilgrims.:

Caggiano also announced that John Grosso, social media leader of the Diocese of Bridgeport, has been named the coordinator of World Youth Day for the diocese. He will work with our World Youth Day Committee to plan the details of the pilgrimage, future meetings, and pre-WYD formation, which will begin in January 2016. Grosso has posted a YouTube video to provide an update on the trip and the registration process.

Grosso said the diocese hopes to take 300 people on the pilgrimage.

Meanwhile, Caggiano is currently on pilgrimage to Italy visting holy sites in Sicily, Calabria, Bari, Campania and Rome “in a journey designed to celebrate the great saints of prior ages who are our inspiration and intercessors.”

He posted, “Pilgrimages are not meant to be vacations. They are meant to be times of sacrifice and prayer that help each pilgrim to attune themselves more deeply to the voice of God alive in their hearts. I very much enjoy the times of silence and reflection that pilgrimages have afforded me in the past and I pray for the grace to be able to offer these days in worship and praise of the Lord.”

Click here to read the original article at Connecticut Post.

Bishop Caggiano reflects on Immigration while on Pilgrimage in Italy
| July 15, 2015


ARGRIGENTO, ITALY—I am beginning the first full day of pilgrimage today here in Argrigento—a city located in the southern portion of Sicily, which includes the port city of Lampedusa where many immigrant refugees fleeing poverty and religious persecution in Africa make the dangerous crossing over the Mediterranean Sea to find hope and freedom in Italy.

It is the same city that was made famous by a recent visit by our Holy Father who wishes to draw the world’s attention to the plight of these refugees.

The origins of the city lie over 2,900 year ago. Argrigento was the first Greek outpost in what is now Sicily, established as a trading post. Its ruins are famous and some of the best preserved in all of Europe.

The fact that this city has been the home of immigrants for over three millennia provides us a powerful spiritual lesson. For in the end, are we not all immigrants, traveling on a spiritual journey from this life to the glory of eternity? Even though we may be rooted in a country for generations, those roots do not have lasting life. The only roots that matter are those that will give us the privilege to enjoy eternal life with the Lord in the glory of Heaven. Our lasting city is heaven, not any place on earth. As such, is it time for the peoples of the world to stop treating each other as enemies, somehow trespassing on each other’s territory and realize that we are all pilgrims, all immigrants, all travelers to a far greater land that is not our own.

Food pantry moves to larger space
| July 13, 2015 • by Keila Torres Ocasio, Stamford


STAMFORD—Tania Nilla reached the vegetable aisle and began examining her options.

Volunteer Richard Greene helps a customer shop in the food pantry
at the new New Covenant House of Hospitality in Stamford, Conn.
Sunday, July 7, 2015. New Covenant recently relocated from its
2,200 sq. ft. space in the basement of the Yearwood center to a new
8,000 sq. ft. building across the street. The facility includes
a state-of-the-art soup kitchen, spacious dining hall, food pantry,
and will soon have other amenities available for use like washers
and dryers, showers and a computer lab. Photo: Tyler Sizemore /
Hearst Connecticut Media Buy this photo

There were boxes of cucumbers, onions, cabbage and more lined side by side on the shelves.

She began placing items in shopping bags and putting them in her small shopping cart.

Several months ago, the shopping experience at the New Covenant House of Hospitality’s food pantry did not have the supermarket feel it now has, the Stamford resident noted.

Then, last month, New Covenant left its space in the basement of the Yerwood Center’s Fairfield Avenue building and moved its food pantry and soup kitchen into new leased space at 174 Richmond Hill Ave.

“It’s much better here,” Nilla said. “It’s clean. Everything is nice and organized. I like it.”

For more information about the New Covenant House of Hospitality visit To provide food or monetary donations, contact John Gutman at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or Betsy Lopez at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Click here to read the full story.

Sutherland mourned as a man who cared about the have-nots
| July 13, 2015 • by By John Burgeson, Connecticut Post


MONROE—About 225 people were in the St. Jude Roman Catholic Church Monday morning to bid farewell to Kevin Sutherland, 24, a former intern to U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4, who was the victim of a senseless knife attack on a Washington, D.C., subway platform on July 4.

Terry and Doug Sutherland speak to Monsignor Dariusz Zielonka
after the Funeral services for their son Kevin Joseph Sutherland.
The funeral was held at St. Jude Church, Monroe, CT on Monday,
July 13, 2015. Kevin Sutherland was a former intern for U.S.
Representative Jim Himes. Photo: Mark Conrad / For Hearst Connecticut Media

“Many people say that no parent should ever have to bury a child, but from the moment that parents decide to start a family, they know that the perils of a dangerous world are all around them, and they are constantly in fear that the natural course of events could be disturbed,” said Sutherland’s father, Douglas, who delivered the eulogy.

“Kevin had a pure heart,” Douglas said, his voice choking with tears at times. “He was a sensitive young man, and he had the ability to feel the pain of others.”

The father said that his son’s political pursuits “were to make this place a better world,” and not for self gain. “Kevin’s life’s work was to fight prejudice of any kind, to fight poverty, to fight for equality, to fight for justice, to fight for a better environment and simply to fight for a more perfect union.”

Monsignor Dariusz Zielonka, who delivered the homily, said he was moved by the parents’ desire to grant forgiveness, even in the depths of their sorrow.

“That means everything to me, because it means that their love is pure and perfect — a selfless, forgiving love that will make our world a better place,” he said. “They are leading us through this tragedy.”

Zielonka described Sutherland as a man who deeply loved his country and eagerly followed Pope Francis. “In his short but beautiful life, he touched so many people in a positive way,” he said.

Through a spokeswoman, Sutherland’s parents, Douglas and Theresa, said that they were encouraged by the news that Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Friday signed into law a measure that provides harsh new penalties for businesses that sell synthetic drugs. It’s believed that the suspect in the Fourth of July knife attack, Jasper Spires, 18, may have been high on synthetic marijuana at the time.

Experts say that the drugs, often packaged to look like other products, can contribute to violent, erratic behavior and an altered mental state.

“They feel that, with hope, so good can come of this,” said the spokeswoman, Elizabeth Carlson.

Sutherland was born in Bridgeport on April 8, 1991. He was a member of the Trumbull High School class of 2009 and was graduated with a bachelor’s degree from American University in 2013.

In addition to his parents, he is survived by two uncles, Michael Bevacqua and his wife Alberina of Stratford, and Joseph Sutherland of Raleigh, NC; his cousins, Steven Bevacqua of Lake Balboa, California, Lisa Bevacqua and her wife Catherine Proto of Stratford and their children, Ryan and Owen. Rep. Himes was among those in attendance.

Considering WYD 2016 in Poland? Here's what one bishop wants you to know
| July 10, 2015 • by By Matt Hadro, CNA/EWTN News


WASHINGTON D.C.—For those pilgrims thinking about participating in World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, Poland, Bishop Frank Caggiano has a message: It will be worth the sacrifice.

World Youth Day pilgims take part in a flashmob dance
at the beginning of the closing Mass June 28, 2013.
Credit: Michelle Bauman/CNA.

The Bridgeport prelate, who is serving as World Youth Day Liason for the U.S. bishops, acknowledged that attending the global gathering in Poland next summer will have a cost—not only in money, but also in time and the hardships of traveling to a foreign country.

However, he told CNA, “it is in the sacrifice that you intimately meet the Lord.” Upon reaching Krakow, the fruits of the sacrifice are seen: “that you’re in solidarity, that there are millions like you who are making the same sacrifice.”

“I think one of the great debilitations of contemporary life for young people, and those of us older, is that we ask ourselves: are we the only ones doing this? Who else out there thinks faith matters?” he remarked

But when at World Youth Day, “you stand with two and a half million people, young people. Then you have your answer. Faith is very much alive, and you’re never alone doing it.”

Bishop Caggiano spoke to CNA after the “Krakow Kickoff” event held July 7 at the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C.

“I invite every Catholic young person, every Catholic young adult, every leader in our Church to come together and embark with me on this great pilgrimage of faith and mercy,” the bishop told those gathered at the shrine.

World Youth Day is an international pilgrimage of young people from around the world, which includes opportunities for catechesis, prayer, sacraments, song, and fellowship. The event culminates with a prayer vigil and Mass with the Pope.

Instituted by St. John Paul II in 1985, the international gatherings are held every 2-3 years and have drawn crowds of up to 5 million. World Youth Day 2016 will be held next year in Krakow, Poland from July 26-31. The theme will be “Blessed Are the Merciful.”

Although anyone is welcome to attend, the event focuses on young people. Some 30,000 are expected to attend World Youth Day 2016 from the U.S., and the anticipated overall attendance is 2.5 million.

Bishop Caggiano sees World Youth Day 2016 as an invitation for all young people to encounter Christ’s transformative mercy. He told CNA that he hopes attendees “have two experiences.”

The first, he said, is “that they themselves will be touched somewhere deep inside of them. That in the part of their heart which is still perhaps secret, in a part of their lives which they may still be embarrassed at what has happened and what they did, where they still wonder whether God can love them, knowing what they know – that part of what will happen is they’ll be touched and realize that God knew it all along and still loves them.”

“And equally important, so what they have gotten, they give away,” he added. “To love and not expect something in return. Only someone who has experienced mercy can give mercy that way.”

The bishop encouraged those who will attend World Youth Day to start their spiritual preparation now through prayer and service. He suggested that they reflect on Jesus’ Transfiguration, and act as if they were climbing the mountain now with Peter, James and John to see Christ transfigured at the top.

For the three apostles, the Transfiguration of Jesus began the “rest of their life of faith,” he said. In a similar way, by making the pilgrimage and encountering God’s mercy at World Youth Day, young people today can be transformed and begin a new chapter in their life of faith as well.

It is “essential” that bishops, priests, and religious attend, but especially that bishops travel with pilgrims from their respective dioceses, Bishop Caggiano added.

“The young people, young adults, relate to them as spiritual fathers,” he said. “The bishop is the sign of unity and almost the symbol, sacramentally, of the Father’s love for his people.”

“Everybody needs to be a part of that too, but the bishop being there is tremendous, it’s a gift.”

Youth Choir Rehearsals
| July 10, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—In addition to enjoying their summer vacations, some young people throughout the diocese are also busy at rehearsals for the Diocesan Youth Choir.

Formed by Bishop Caggiano this Spring, the youth choir now numbers 77 young men and women throughout Fairfield County.

Youth Choir director Mary Bozzuti Higgins of Wilton, a noted opera singer and choir director, has been leading rehearsals at sites throughout the area to accommodate young people and their families. The choir will debut at the Synod Closing Mass at Webster Bank Arena on Saturday September 19 in Bridgeport. The young people will also be featured in a special Christmas Concert in December. For more information visit:

Families need prayers, mercy, courage, including from synod, pope says
| July 07, 2015 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador—Even if a pastoral proposal for helping a Catholic family with problems seems scandalous at first, it is possible God could use that proposal to bring healing and holiness, Pope Francis said.

Encouraging and celebrating family life during a Mass July 6 in Guayaquil, Pope Francis asked people to pray for the October Synod of Bishops on the family, and he tied the synod to the Jubilee of Mercy, a yearlong celebration that will begin in December.

The synod will be a time for the church to “deepen her spiritual discernment and consider concrete solutions to the many difficult and significant challenges facing families in our time,” the pope said.

Celebrating Mass with as many as one million people gathered under the hot sun in Los Samanes Park, Pope Francis asked them “to pray fervently for this intention, so that Christ can take even what might seem to us impure, scandalous or threatening, and turn it—by making it part of his ‘hour’—into a miracle. Families today need this miracle!”

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters Pope Francis was not referring to any specific proposal discussed in anticipation of the synod; one of the most common—and most debated pastoral suggestions—was to develop a process or “penitential path” for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics who want to receive Communion but have not received an annulment.

The pope, Father Lombardi said, hopes the synod “will find a way to help people move from a situation of sin to a situation of grace.”

Pope Francis acknowledged the suffering and hope of young people who do not experience happiness and love at home, the “many women, sad and lonely,” who wonder how their love “slipped away,” and the elderly who feel cast aside.

In a family, “no one is rejected; all have the same value,” he said, telling the crowd that when he asked his own mother which of her five children she loved best, she would say that they were like her five fingers: all were important and if one finger was hurt, the pain would be the same as if another finger was hurt.

The Gospel reading at the Mass recounted the story of the wedding feast at Cana where the wine ran out and Mary asked Jesus to do something about it. Jesus turned water into wine.

Despite the 90-degree heat, the 78-year-old pope was upbeat during the Mass and confident—even cheerful and playful—in his homily about the family.

The joy of the wedding feast at Cana, he said, began when Mary was attentive to the needs of others “and acted sensibly and courageously.”

“Mary is not a ‘demanding’ mother, a mother-in-law who revels in our lack of experience, our mistakes and the things we forget to do,” he said. “Mary is a mother! She is there, attentive and concerned."

As with the guests at the Cana wedding, who were offered the finest wine at the end of the celebration, Pope Francis insisted, so, too, for families today “the richest, deepest and most beautiful things are yet to come.”

“The time is coming when we will taste love daily, when our children will come to appreciate the home we share and our elderly will be present each day in the joys of life,” he said. “The finest of wines will come for every person who stakes everything on love.”

Pope Francis said he knows “all the variables and statistics which say otherwise,” but “the best wine is yet to come for those who today feel hopelessly lost.”

Speeding up his delivery and increasing his volume, the pope made “the best wine is yet to come” into a litany. “Say it until you are convinced of it,” he told the crowd. “The best wine is yet to come.”

“Whisper it to the hopeless and the loveless,” the pope urged.

The whole story of God’s involvement with humanity, he said, demonstrates that he always seeks out those on the margins of society, “those who have run out of wine, those who drink only of discouragement.”

Jesus, he said, will provide flasks of the finest wine “for those who, for whatever reason, feel that all their jars have been broken.”

Strong families, he said, help build strong individuals and strong societies. They are the place where “our hearts find rest in strong, fruitful and joyful love.” Families teach people to be attentive to the needs of others and to place those needs ahead of one's own.

“Service is the sign of true love,” he said.

When the church asks governments to assist families, he said, it is not asking for "alms," but rather payment of the "social debt" societies owe to families.

St. Joseph High School to Induct Honorees into Athletics Hall of Fame
| July 07, 2015


TRUMBULL—The St Joseph High School Athletic Hall of Fame 2015 Induction Ceremony will be held on Saturday, September 26, 2015 at 6 pm, at St. Joseph High School in Trumbull.

The ceremony recognizes nine outstanding individuals and one team who were nominated for performing with distinction or having been instrumental in the overall development and success of athletics at St. Joseph High School.

Mr. Christy Hayes—Coach Hayes graciously accepted his Hall of Fame nomination and will be recognized with this year’s 2015 Hall of Fame Class and will receive his award at the next Hall of Fame induction ceremony which will be scheduled for September 2017. Coach Hayes football coaching career included five State Championships in varsity football with 103 victories. Coach earned one State Championship while coaching girls’ varsity basketball and had a career record of 150 wins to 25 losses in girls basketball. Coach Hayes also coached varsity baseball during his tenure and finished with 120 victories and one FCIAC Championship. Coach Hayes was inducted into the CT HS Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2014.

Mr. George Green
In November of 2010, Coach Green was inducted into the Connecticut Volleyball Hall of Fame. He coached volleyball for 32 years at St. Joe’s and compiled a 538-188 all-time record. His 538 wins earned him a place in Connecticut high school volleyball history. Coach Green brought home five State Championships during 1984, 1989, 1991, 1992 and 1997. His record includes 14 league championships. Coach Green also earned a State Championship in tennis during his coaching career at St. Joe’s.

Mr. Jim Driggs ’68—Known for being Captain of three SJ teams in 1968 including Football, Baseball and Basketball, Mr. Driggs scored the legendary first varsity football touchdown in school history against Crosby High School of Waterbury in an 8-0 victory. He also scored the first winning touchdown over Trumbull High School and was named the MVP of that Thanksgiving Day game. As Basketball Captain, he set scoring records in both his junior and senior years and was the third leading scorer in the metro Bridgeport area. During Baseball he lettered for three years and started as a short stop.

Mr. Rick DiCicco ’73
Basketball is what Rick DiCicco is known for at St. Joe’s. He was a leading scorer with 1,666 points and leading rebounder with 1210 rebounds. He also had 433 rebounds in one season which is a record at St. Joe’s. He received All American Recognition during his basketball career and was All State in 1972 and 1973.

Mr. Mike DellaVecchia ’80
Mr. DellaVecchia was both Captain of Football in 1979 and Baseball in 1980. As a quarterback in 1979 he made all MBIAC, 2nd All State, and MBIAC Player of the Year. While Mr. DellaVecchia was Captain of baseball from 1979-1980 he was awarded all MBIAC, All State, MBIAC Player of the year and was part of the 1980 State Championship team. In 1980 he was named St. Joseph High School Male Athlete of the Year. Mr. DellaVecchia continued with baseball at Fairfield University and was Captain of their baseball team in 1984.

Mr. William Kurtz ’84
Mr. Bill Kurtz is remembered for his leadership as a student athlete. He was Captain of the football team in 1983 and Captain of the baseball team in 1983. During his four years at St. Joe’s, our football team was at 42-2, which included four State Championships. Mr. Kurtz continued onto Northeastern University where he was Captain of the football team, which at the time was 3rd in all of New England.

Miss Christine DellaVecchia ’09
Miss DellaVecchia has an amazing sports history at St Joseph High School. She was the Girls Varsity Basketball Captain in 2008 and 2009 as well as Captain of Girls Varsity Softball in 2009. For 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 she was All State for Softball and All FCIAC for Softball in 2007, 2008 and 2009. She holds the most hits record and stolen bases for her career and seasons at St Joe’s. She was named a Gatorade Player of the Year Finalist. She was also basketball All State in 2008, 2009, All FCIAC in 2008 and 2009 as well as a Connecticut Post Super 15 All Star in 2007, 2008, 2009. Miss DellaVecchia was the St Joseph High School Female Athlete of the Year in 2009. She continued with her softball career at UMASS as a three year starter and Captain of the softball team.

Mrs. Michelle Pagliaro Haywood ’90
Mrs. Haywood was All-state in three sports her senior year; volleyball, basketball, and softball. She was the only female athlete in the state to be all-state in those three sports at that time. She also captained all three of those sports her senior year. She was USA Today’s CT Female Athlete of the Year in 1989-1990. She scored her 1000 point in basketball and a total of 1159 points in her career. Her volleyball team won the state championship and ACC in 1989-1990. She was the first junior in St. Joe’s history to be Captain of a softball team. She was recently inducted into the Brown University Athletic Department Hall of Fame competing in basketball and softball for the Bears.

Mr. Thomas Roach—Mr Roach was a constant fixture at St. Joe’s for more than 30 years. During his tenure he served as head Coach of Golf, Baseball and Softball, as well as assistant Basketball coach. After leaving the coaching ranks Mr Roach continued to serve SJ Athletics in many capacities. Two decades of St. Joseph Athletes and Coaches always find comfort in seeing Mr. Roach on the sidelines. Mr. Roach also held positions in Administration at St. Joe’s as Dean of Students and Assistant Principal...and will go down in history as the "best bus driver at St. Joe’s ever!”

The 1982 St. Joseph High School Football Team will be inducted as a team. They were the 1982 State Champions and the Number One team in Connecticut. The team was ranked #3 in New England, held a school record 30 game winning streak, and were the third team of five consecutive state champions.

St. Anthony Parishioners visit Bethel AME in Bridgeport, a Sister Church to Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston
| July 05, 2015


FAIRFIELD—Fr. John Baran and a group of 12 St. Anthony of Padua Parishioners in Fairfield demonstrated their prayer solidarity with the victims and families of the Charleston shootings when they attended a prayer service last week at Bethel AME in Bridgeport, sister Church to Charleston AME.

Many faith communities came together at the service to express their sorrow and pray for unity. “We were there to show support, to offer comfort, to companion in grief, but what unfolded was an event that was beyond what we could have imagined,” writes Fr. Baran, pastor.

Click below to read Dr. Eleanor Sauers’s moving account of the evening found in the St. Anthony Parish Bulletin.


Dear Parishioners,

There is a remarkable congregation on Grove Street in neighboring Bridgeport, the members of Bethel AME Church, a church that welcomed faith communities from Bridgeport and beyond last Wednesday evening, to join them in expressing the profound sorrow felt by all at the vicious attack on a gathering of the faithful the week before in the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Among those gathered were people of various ethnicities and faiths, including at least twelve parishioners of St. Anthony’s Parish. All were warmly welcomed, invited to take a seat and handed a program. The worship space was different from ours, yet it felt comfortable and inviting. We were there to show support, to offer comfort, to companion in grief, but what unfolded was an event that was beyond what we could have imagined.

The liturgy, beautifully arranged, began with the Rev. Bernadette Hickman-Maynard, co-pastor of the church, calling us to worship. With her natural grace and her Harvard-trained preaching skills, she spoke eloquently of the need to build bridges, across faiths, across racial divides, bridges to the future. The opening hymn followed, led by Rev. Bernadette’s husband and co-pastor, Rev. Dr. Teddy Hickman-Maynard and choir (two women who rocked the church). The hymn was composed a few days following the tragedy. It is entitled, “They Met to Read the Bible,” and all present joined in the singing. There were prayers of invocation, calling of the names of the Emanuel Nine, prayers of healing, and prayers for justice, all interspersed with short hymns, reverently and universally sung.

All seventeen clergy present, ministers, rabbis and imams offered prayers or reflections. It was an outstanding moment of ministerial collaboration. The entire evening was memorable, but a few moments deserve special mention. Rabbi Prosnit, Senior Rabbi from Congregation B’nai Israel, began his prayer with “Disturb me, O Lord…wrest me from my complacency,” at which everyone sat up and took notice. Praying for disturbance...not for peace of mind...what kind of prayer is this? While trying to digest this plea to move us from compassion to action, another member of the clergy prayed for the shooter and his family...some in the congregation murmured “amen” and “that’s right,” while many of us sat mesmerized, amazed at the expression of forgiveness by a people who struggle on a daily basis to be accepted for who they are, without regard to the color of their skin.

And then, after the scripture readings, the prayers and reflections, when it seemed that nothing could bind the assembly more than what had already occurred, it happened. All were invited to stand and sing once more the hymn that bound many of us together so many years ago, in the Civil Rights Movement, and again in the anti-war movement in the 1970s, “We Shall Overcome,” all five verses, sung vigorously by all present, white and black, Latino and Asian, Muslim, Jewish and Christian hands all joined, swaying and singing loudly the words that “we shall live in peace someday.”

The tears flowed as we realized that we were still singing this more than forty years later…and we asked ourselves, when are things going to change?

Last Wednesday evening was a memorial for those who gave their lives in Charleston, but in another way it was a celebration of humanity, a rebuttal of what was intended by the rampage in South Carolina. What had been sown were the seeds of peace, of understanding, of solidarity, not of division.

As we left the church, we met a woman, another minister, who engaged us in conversation. She had lost a sister to a drive-by shooting over twenty-five years ago, as she sat on her front porch.

The minister said to us, “We have to get together.” As we drove away, the meaning of her words became clear...we have to get together and move away from what divides us toward what we have in common. The evening’s words had been stirring, the music echoed in our hearts, the message permeated our very bones. We would return home different from when we arrived. We had been disturbed.

As we celebrate the Fourth of July this weekend it seems appropriate that we once again declare our independence from what holds us captive. Let us resolve this Independence Day to declare our freedom from prejudice, from prejudging others and from our pre-conceived notions of other races, faiths and cultures. Let us celebrate our common humanity, our common dependence upon God, and our common desire for peace.

Let us be as we were on that Wednesday evening at the Bethel AME Church-- a community of disciples, partakers of the eternal banquet, a vision of the Kingdom of God.

Faith, Freedom and the Founding Fathers
| July 04, 2015 • by By Jay Copp, Register Correspondent


Catholic Churches Have Witnessed to Religious Liberty

PHILADELPHIA—As the Fourth of July nears, crowds swell at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, and the nearby Liberty Bell.

But just three blocks away is another powerful symbol of freedom—religious freedom. An active parish, small, modest-but-stately Old St. Joseph’s Church was a cradle of Catholicism in America.

Oddly, there is no public façade or street entrance to Old St. Joseph’s, tucked away in narrow Willings Alley. Early church leaders deliberately kept a low profile to avoid antagonizing the non-Catholic majority. Prudent priests quietly went about the city in Quaker garb.

The church was erected in 1733. William Penn, the founder of the colony of Pennsylvania, had decreed religious toleration, a freedom not granted by the other colonies. For 80 years, Old St. Joseph’s was the only Catholic church for Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. In fact, for many years, it was the only place in the English-speaking world where the Mass could be legally celebrated.

Just a block from the historic church is Old St. Mary’s, another Catholic church that flourished despite anti-Catholic sentiment and even strengthened the ties between Catholics and leaders of the new nation.

As leader of the Continental Army, George Washington and other members of the Continental Congress attended Mass here in 1776, as a sign of respect to Catholics and to France and Spain, Catholic nations that supported the war against the English.

A sign of the growing pluralism of the American experiment in democracy, St. Mary’s hosted the first public religious commemoration of the Declaration of Independence. Its adjoining cemetery is testament to the role of Catholics in the struggle for freedom. Many of the inscriptions on the weathered gravestones have been worn away by time. But buried here are Commodore John Barry, the father of the U.S. Navy; Thomas Fitzsimons, a signer of the Constitution; and Stephen Moylan, Washington’s aide-de-camp.

St. Mary’s was built in 1763, enlarged in 1810 and renovated in 1963. The church was the cathedral of the diocese from 1810 to 1838. Located in the fashionable Society Hill neighborhood, the church blends into its surroundings, with its red-brick façade and white doors. There is no soaring cross or steeple at this active parish. During the day, the empty interior is a wonderfully hushed, dark and deeply reverent space.

The past is part of the present at Old St. Mary’s. The baptismal font dates from 1791. The brass chandeliers once hung in Independence Hall. Renowned sculptor William Rush carved the crucifix, and Thomas Walter, who designed the Capitol in Washington, helped craft the organ.

In colonial days, St. Mary’s parishioners showed a robust attachment to their faith. The Unitarian John Adams, later to become the second U.S. president, wrote to his wife, Abigail: “The music, consisting of an organ and a choir of singers, went all the afternoon, except sermon time, and the assembly chanted most sweetly and exquisitely. Here is everything that can lay hold of the eye, ear and imagination, everything which can charm and bewitch the simple and ignorant. I wonder how [Martin] Luther ever broke the spell.”

St. Mary Cemetery dates from 1759. The cemetery grounds are higher than street level: Graves from various eras are layered. Rich and poor were laid to rest here. Yellow-fever plagues periodically ravaged the city in the 18th century, and its victims were buried here. Also entombed here are some of the family members of Michael Bouvier, the great-great-grandfather of Jacqueline Kennedy.

Old St. Joseph’s predates Old St. Mary’s by 30 years. It was enlarged in 1821 and rebuilt in 1838. The strategy of priests to keep a low profile apparently paid dividends over time. Protestant mobs torched churches during the anti-Catholic Nativist Riots of 1844, but Old St. Joseph’s was spared.

Writer Agnes Repplier once described Old St. Joseph’s as “a church as carefully hidden away as a martyr’s tomb in the catacombs.” Its humble exterior is matched by its simple interior, a place not to gawk at, but to pray and worship. But worth noting are the dramatic painting of the Crucifixion behind the altar and the lovely, sweeping balcony.

The history of Old St. Joseph’s is rich with drama. After authorities in Maryland clamped down on Catholics, Jesuits established a foothold in Pennsylvania and neighboring states by founding St. Joseph’s Church. The faith blossomed. By 1785, the future Bishop John Carroll proudly reported to Rome that 1,000 Catholics lived in Philadelphia. Catholics finally had a toehold in the United States.

To walk into Old St. Joseph’s is to walk in the history of Catholics in the new nation and to understand their hard-won assimilation in an unwelcoming land.

The pastor during the Revolutionary War, Jesuit Father Robert Molyneux, was the father of Catholic publishing: The first Catholic prayer books in America were published under his direction. When the 1793 yellow-fever epidemic killed 10% of Philadelphians, Jesuit Father Leonard Neale established the first Catholic orphanage in the new nation. The parish was a refuge for persecuted populations, whether they were Irish, Italian or black. In 1848, the church began the St. Joseph’s Society for the Relief of Irish Immigrants. Four years later, church leaders made plans for St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzzi, the nation’s first Italian national parish. Blacks were welcome at St. Joseph’s from its earliest years. In 1859, a school for black children was begun. The school eventually was supported by St. Katharine Drexel, a Philadelphia native.

In its attractive, sunny courtyard, Old St. Joseph’s honors its past with a plaque that pays tribute to William Penn and his guarantee of religious freedom.

But it took generations of regular Catholic families, whose names are unknown to history, to take advantage of that freedom by practicing their faith and paving the way for the religious freedom we often take for granted today.

Brookfield girl struck and killed by car “a wonderful, wonderful person”
| July 04, 2015 • by By Rob Ryser from The News-Times


DANBURY—The Diocese of Bridgeport extends its deepest sympathy and condolences to the family of Rebecca Draper Townsend who was struck and killed by an automobile in Danbury on Thursday evening.

Rebecca, 17, was a 2015 graduate of Immaculate High School. Principal Joe Carmen has described her as a "deeply caring and wonderful person."

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has asked Catholics throughout the Diocese to remember Rebecca and the Draper and Townsend families in their prayer.

The 17-year-old Brookfield girl struck and killed by car while crossing Lake Avenue Thursday night was described as a joyful and giving youth who cared about other people’s welfare.

Rebecca Draper Townsend had just graduated from Immaculate High School in Danbury.

“She was a wonderful, wonderful person,” said Immaculate High School Principal Joe Carmen.

Townsend was crossing the street with a classmate near the entrance of Western Connecticut State University’s Westside Campus shortly after 9 pm when they were struck by a car.

The friend, Benjamin Arne, 17, of New Fairfield, was recovering Friday in serious but stable condition at Danbury Hospital, police said. Arne had also just graduated from Immaculate High School.

Townsend founded the Immaculate chapter of a charity for third world girls called She’s the First. The charity sponsors girls’ education in low-income countries, giving them the chance to become the first in their families to graduate from secondary school.

Carmen said the school was in contact with Townsend family members and was discussing what it could do to support them.

Details about the accident have not been released.

Police said Krista Consalva, 23, of Brookfield was driving a 2007 Hyundai Elantra west on Lake Avenue Extension between the Stop & Shop parking lot and Stanziato’s pizza when the car struck the teenagers.

Witnesses are encouraged to call police officer Lance Brevard or Marcel Kruijis at 203.797.2156.

National Shrine Pilgrimage rescheduled
| July 01, 2015


Please read Bishop Caggiano’s statement:

BRIDGEPORT—“A few months ago, Pope Francis declared an extraordinary Holy Year entitled a ‘Jubilee of Mercy’.

It will begin on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8, 2015) and conclude on the Feast of Christ the King (November 26, 2016). The Jubilee will ask all Catholics to accept and live Christ’s call of mercy for all those who are in need, lost or struggling in their lives.

Unlike former Holy Year observances, the Jubilee of Mercy will be lived in a unique way throughout the world, insofar as the Holy Father is asking every Diocese to sponsor the same events for the Jubilee among its own people as will be celebrated in Rome. Specifically, this means that the Cathedral of Saint Augustine will have its own holy door for pilgrims who will travel to the Cathedral to pray for themselves and their intentions. To that end, I am pleased to announce that our Diocesan Holy Door will be sealed on the morning of the Synod Mass, during the closing prayer service that will precede the procession with the statue of Our Lady to the Webster Arena. The diocesan holy door will be formally blessed and opened during a solemn celebration of Mass at 7:30 pm on December 8, 2015. More details about this special celebration will be made available at the end of the summer.
One of the Jubilee celebrations that the Holy Father is asking each Diocese to sponsor is a pilgrimage. As you know, we had scheduled a Synod pilgrimage to the National Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on October 24, 2015, in order to consecrate our Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Given the fact that we are now being asked also to sponsor a diocesan pilgrimage during the Jubilee of Mercy, I have decided to postpone the Synod pilgrimage to Saturday, November 5, 2016. This will avoid the need to sponsor two major pilgrimages in less than one year. The pilgrimage will also now conclude the Jubilee of Mercy and give thanks to the Lord for the first fruits of the implementation of the Synod.
While the pilgrimage is delayed, we cannot delay our diocesan consecration to Our Lady. As a result, I will consecrate our Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the conclusion of the Synod Mass that will take place on September 19, 2015 at 11 am. Our diocesan consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus will remain part of pilgrimage on November 5, 2016.
May the Jubilee of Mercy help heal whatever bitterness, anger or resentment we harbor in our hearts and transform us into Christ’s missionaries of healing and hope in a very troubled world.”

Pope’s visits to Cuba, U.S. to highlight families, charity, tolerance
| July 01, 2015 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—In word and deed, Pope Francis will take his vision of a Catholic’s approach to family life, parish life, charity, economics, immigration and good governance to Cuba and the United States during a September 19-27 visit.

Visiting both Cuba and the United States on the same trip not only acknowledges his role in encouraging detente between them, but will give Pope Francis an opportunity to demonstrate that while different political and cultural challenges face Catholics in both countries, the Gospel and its values are the same.

On June 30, the Vatican published the detailed schedule of Pope Francis’ September 19-22 visit to Cuba and his September 22-27 visit to the United States.

For Pope Francis, one of the key values Catholics in the U.S. and Cuba share is the obligation to “go out,” proclaiming the Gospel and bringing God’s mercy to the poorest and most disadvantaged people.

The standard of living in the United States may be exponentially higher than in Cuba, but in Pope Francis’ vision that only increases the responsibility of U.S. Catholics to reach out and to share. He will demonstrate what he means when he meets homeless people in Washington September 24, children and immigrant families at a Catholic school in Harlem when he visits New York September 25, and prisoners September 27 in Philadelphia.

The closing Mass for the World Meeting of Families will follow the papal meeting with prisoners. The World Meeting of Families international congress September 22-25 and the celebration of families with the pope September 26-27 were the initial reason for the papal visit.

With the Catholic Church’s constant concern for promoting strong families and with the world Synod of Bishops on the family set to start one week after the papal visit, marriage and family life are expected to be topics throughout the pope's visit to both Cuba and the United States.

Long before the Vatican released the full trip itinerary, it had confirmed certain parts of it: U.S. President Barack Obama will welcome the pope to the White House September 23; that afternoon, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and canonize Blessed Junipero Serra; the pope will address a joint meeting of Congress September 24, becoming the first pope to do so; and Pope Francis will address the U.N. General Assembly September 25. It is thought the pope may bring up some of the points he made in his recent environmental encyclical, “Laudato Si’,” given that world nations will come together just a few months later for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in the hopes of reaching global agreement on reducing greenhouse gases.

The pope also is expected to emphasize the contributions of U.S. Catholics to society, defend religious liberty and support the church's right to uphold its teaching, including in its employment practices. He will use his visit to ground zero in New York as an occasion for an interreligious gathering.

The pope will spend three days in Cuba visiting three different cities, including the popular Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre.

He will hold the usual meetings with President Raul Castro, young people, families and religious as well as celebrate Mass and vespers all three days. But he also will bless the cities of Holguin and Santiago de Cuba—blessing Holguin from a panoramic hilltop and pilgrimage site called Cross Hill.

It will be his third visit to the Americas after Brazil in 2013 and Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay in July, and his 10th trip abroad since his election in 2013.

Here is the schedule for the trip. All times are local unless otherwise indicated.

Saturday, September 19 (Rome, Havana)

-- 10:15 am (4:15 a.m. EDT), Departure from Rome's Fiumicino airport for Havana.

-- 4:05 pm Arrival ceremony at Havana's Jose Marti International Airport. Speech by pope.

Sunday, September 20 (Havana)

-- 9 am Mass in Havana's Revolution Square. Homily by pope. Recitation of the Angelus.

-- 4 pm Courtesy visit with Cuba's President Raul Castro in Havana's Palace of the Revolution.

-- 5:15 pm Celebration of vespers with priests, religious and seminarians in Havana's cathedral. Homily by pope.

-- 6:30 pm Greeting to young people at the Father Felix Varela cultural center in Havana. Remarks by pope.

Monday, September 21 (Havana, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba, El Cobre)

-- 8 am Departure by air for Holguin, Cuba.

-- 9:20 am Arrival at Holguin's Frank Pais International Airport.

-- 10:30 am Mass in Holguin's Revolution Square. Homily by pope.

-- 3:45 pm Blessing of the city of Holguin from Cross Hill (Loma de la Cruz).

-- 4:40 pm Departure by air for Santiago de Cuba.

-- 5:30 pm Arrival at Santiago de Cuba's Antonio Maceo International Airport.

-- 7 pm Meeting with bishops at the seminary of St. Basil the Great in El Cobre.

-- 7:45 pm Prayer to Our Lady of Charity with bishops and the papal entourage in the Minor Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre.

Tuesday, September 22 (El Cobre, Santiago de Cuba, Washington)

-- 8 am Mass in the Minor Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre. Homily by pope.

-- 11 am Meeting with families in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Assumption in Santiago de Cuba. Speech by pope. Blessing of the city from the outside of the cathedral.

-- 12:15 pm Farewell ceremony at Santiago de Cuba's International Airport.

-- 12:30 pm Departure for Washington.

-- 4 pm Arrival at Andrews Air Force Base. Official welcome.

Wednesday, September 23 (Washington)

-- 9:15 am Welcoming ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. Speech by pope, followed by a courtesy visit with Obama.

-- 11:30 am Meeting with U.S. bishops in the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. Speech by pope.

-- 4:15 pm Mass and canonization of Blessed Junipero Serra in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Homily by pope.

Thursday, September 24 (Washington, New York)

-- 9:20 am Visit to the U.S. Congress. Speech by pope.

-- 11:15 am Visit to St. Patrick's Catholic Church and meeting with homeless people. Greeting by pope.

-- 4 pm Departure by air to New York.

-- 5 pm Arrival at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

-- 6:45 pm Celebration of vespers with priests, men and women religious in St. Patrick's Cathedral. Homily by pope.

Friday, September 25 (New York)

-- 8:30 am Visit the headquarters of the United Nations. Greeting and speech by pope.

-- 11:30 am Interreligious meeting at the ground zero 9/11 Memorial. Speech by pope.

-- 4 pm Visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Elementary School in East Harlem and meeting with children and immigrant families. Speech by pope.

-- 6 pm Mass at Madison Square Garden. Homily by pope.

Saturday, September 26 (New York, Philadelphia)

-- 8:40 am Departure by air to Philadelphia.

-- 9:30 am Arrival at Philadelphia's International Airport.

-- 10:30 am Mass with Pennsylvania's bishops, priests, men and women religious at Philadelphia's Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul. Homily by pope.

-- 4:45 pm Meeting for religious liberty with the Hispanic community and immigrants at Philadelphia's Independence Mall. Speech by pope.

-- 7:30 pm Festival of Families and prayer vigil at Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Speech by pope.

Sunday, September 27 (Philadelphia)

-- 9:15 am Meeting with bishops taking part in the World Meeting of Families at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. Speech by pope.

-- 11 am Visit with prisoners at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. Speech by pope.

-- 4 pm Closing Mass of the VIII World Meeting of Families at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Homily by pope.

-- 7 pm Greeting to the organizing committee, volunteers and donors at Philadelphia's International Airport. Speech by pope.

-- 7:45 pm Farewell ceremony.

-- 8 pm Departure for Rome.

Monday, September 28 (Rome)

-- 10 am (4:45 am EDT). Arrival at Rome's Ciampino airport.

Alleluia! Catholic Center at Yale University promotes Catholic Music and Liturgy
| June 30, 2015 • by By Father Colin McKenna


NEW YORK—Anyone who has taken an art history course knows that the Renaissance was inspired by Catholicism.

Bishop Caggiano at Carnegie Hall, waiting for Alleluia! to begin.

Beginning in the late 13th century, great artists began making religious paintings and sculptures that culminated in the works of Michelangelo and Leonardo.

Likewise, great post-Renaissance musicians like Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Vivaldi (a Catholic priest) also looked to Christianity for inspiration, particularly the Catholic Mass. For centuries, composing “Masses” was considered the pinnacle of the musical art form.

Just as art these days usually does not focus on religious themes—unless it is denigrating Christianity—so too, modern day composers usually shy away from religious themes.

St. Thomas More Chapel and Center at Yale University is hoping to turn these trends around by encouraging musicians and composers worldwide to focus on the Mass once again as a source for artistic inspiration. With the recent establishment of its Center for Music and Liturgy, the Catholic Center hopes to fuel the creation of new sacred music and support musical excellence throughout the universal Church. The Center plans to focus on empowering people to enjoy liturgical music that is of high quality and attractive to worshippers. More information about the Center and its mission can be found at Catholic Center at Yale University.

After thousands of hours of rehearsals, preparation and unbelievably complex logistical machinations, the Center for Music and Liturgy burst onto the worldwide musical and liturgical scene on June 29—the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul—at Carnegie Hall with its inaugural concert, Alleluia!

Before a packed house, choirs from five countries joined the National Children’s Chorus to form a 400-voice international festival chorus, along with 200 handbell players and full orchestra.

With much thanksgiving to the grace of God, Alleluia! has been acclaimed a huge success, both as a fundraiser for the Center and as a vehicle to debut new liturgical music, including the world premiere of Mass of the Divine Shepherd, by Julian Revie, composer in residence at the Center.

Mass of the Divine Shepherd is the first major setting of the Catholic Mass in the revised English translation, and part of Revie’s Mass will be performed during Pope Francis’s Mass in Philadelphia this September.

Under the direction of Father Robert Beloin, Chaplain for St. Thomas More Catholic Chapel and Center at Yale, the Center gave the title of Honorary Patron to four Catholic bishops from the tri-State metropolitan area: Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York; Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport; Archbishop Leonard Blair of Hartford; and Bishop David O’Connell of Trenton.

Moments before the lights went down at Carnegie Hall, before Alleluia! began, Bishop Caggiano (who attended Yale as a freshman) expressed his anticipation, recognizing how much work and planning had gone into the production. “Julian has been working on this for a very long time,” Bishop Caggiano said. “I have had the privilege to come to know him over the past year. He has come to visit me often. He is a man of deep faith and tremendous artistic talent.”

The sheer number of musicians and their placement around Carnegie Hall (at different ascending rings of seats) was designed to “engulf the listeners in a sonic whirlwind,” Revie said.

And it did, to great effect.

Hundreds of handbell players from the highest reaches of the hall sent heavenly music from on high that descended beautifully upon the audience. In addition, the heavenly handbells also glimmered in the light as music was made.

The design of the heavenly handbell players in the rafters of the hall builds on the vision of Pope St. John Paul II, who “envisioned the ultimate potential of the whole cosmos as Eucharistic, a heavenly liturgy,” Revie said.

In addition to its irrepeatable world premiere, Revie intends to release simplified settings for the Mass parts for choral use in parishes.

The Center’s director, Richard Gard, understands that its mission is “to renew and refresh the music of the Church. Thanks to today’s inexpensive digital devices, it is feasible to publish and distribute music at virtually no cost,” he said.

One of the things that made Alleluia! such a moving experience was Revie’s inclusion of the audience in the production. “I have always seen the audience in this Mass as a critical, unnotated ‘third voice,’” Revie said. The audience is “a silent participant, engaged with the music not merely as spectators, but in active participation, in a liturgical spirit,” he said.

In his world premiere of the Mass of the Divine Shepherd at Carnegie Hall, composer Julian Revie wanted the audience to share in the creation of beautiful music and liturgy as an extension of their own lives of prayer and faith.

With the help of some 600 singers, musicians and handbell players from around the world, and with the help of the unparalleled musical setting of Carnegie Hall, composer Julian Revie and the Center for Music and Liturgy at Yale University made the world premiere of Mass of the Divine Shepherd a grand success. Alleluia!

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Homily Prep: Deacon Dean Finch
| June 30, 2015


Deacon Dean Finch has been “extremely happily married” for 42 years to his wife Beverly. They have four children: Stephanie, Christie, Sarah, Brittany. He was ordained to the Order of Diaconate on June 27, 2000, so he just celebrated his 15th anniversary of ordination!

He has been assigned to St. Jerome Parish in Norwalk since his ordination.

He was director-internal audit for Star Gas Partners, LP, Stamford, Conn., until his retirement in 2014

“Faith and Isolation” – Mark 5: 21-43
Sunday, June 28, 2015

Today’s gospel presents us with a story within a story. The first begins with a father (Jairus) who is desperate to save his deathly sick daughter and the second of a woman who has been isolated from her society for 12 years.  

The contrasts between Jairus and the woman with the hemorrhage are stark and revealing. One is a man the other is a woman. One is a public official, an important person in the community. The other is a woman who has lost everything to find a cure to a condition that separated her from the community. One approaches Jesus publicly and one approaches secretly. Yet, with each, faith is the driving force that leads them to seek out Jesus in their time of need.

In the first story, it is because of the faith of the Jewish man, Jairus (a synagogue official) that Jesus could bring back to life his daughter who was near death. In the second story, it was because of the faith of a woman, that she could be healed of her hemorrhaging by only touching Jesus’ clothing.  

It is noteworthy that these healings are different. The woman’s faith causes her own healing. Jairus’ faith moves Jesus to heal his daughter. Jesus’ involvement with each person is unique.  For Mark, one’s faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God is inextricably linked to Jesus’ power to heal and raise those who have died from the dead.

The story of the hemorrhaging woman illumines a situation many people experience in our society today, the condition of isolation. According to Jewish law, no one was allowed to touch a woman with an issue of blood, whether monthly or continuous. This particular woman had not been touched for twelve years! Why else would she weave through the crowd and sneak up behind Jesus? She didn’t know If Jesus was a keeper of the law; if so, he would not have touched her without becoming ritually unclean. Even in the “pressing” crowd, had she been discovered, she would have been excluded. This woman was living in solitary confinement in the midst of society, an untouchable … so thirsty for human interaction!

Her faith gives her the courage to reach out a finger, a finger seeking healing, seeking new life. That faith is rewarded. She feels wholeness within herself. The flow of blood dries up. The water of wholeness floods her being. Her desert life blossoms! Jesus brings her out of isolation and into the family of faith, calling her “daughter.” She belongs once again.

Our faith is the wellspring of courage, courage to seek what is needed for life. The words from the Book of Wisdom need to be planted deeply in our hearts: “God did not make death” and “God formed us to be imperishable.” God brings water to the desert of our souls that we may live and live fully!

There is a quality about touching that makes it an apt sense for experiencing the Spirit. However, how often do we have the tendency to play it safe; to keep our pain to ourselves and, in the process, isolate ourselves from the human companionship that is so necessary to life?  

Pain and loneliness are often co-companions. When we see another person in pain, it can increase the sense of distance, even if the seeing is compassionate. When we listen to another person in pain, they can be comforted because their words are being received. But touching seems to be special. It has the capacity to bridge the separateness and create a non-abandoning sense of presence.

In touching someone who is in pain/isolation, we become a vehicle for divine love. Whether the individual is cured or not, the human touch that communicates divine care and inclusion always heals. We bring the isolated person back into our fold.

A question for us to ponder might very well be, “Who have we comforted with our touch and compassion (recently) and if we didn’t bring Christ’s loving touch and compassion to someone in pain and isolation, why not?”

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Change in Civil Law does not reflect understanding of Sacramental Marriage
| June 29, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—“Last week’s Supreme Court decision reflects rapidly shifting attitudes in our secular American society.

However, it does not change the teachings of the Catholic Church or its understanding of sacramental marriage.

More specifically, the Church clearly teaches that the sacrament of marriage is a covenant of love that can be entered into only by a man and a woman—a covenant that binds and seeks to deepen the union between spouses over their lifetime and opens them to the creative power of their love in the procreation of children. The Supreme Court’s decision does not change this fundamental Catholic teaching of faith.

While affirming marriage as “God’s “masterwork” in a recent talk, Pope Francis noted that Jesus “begins his miracles in a marriage, in a wedding feast: a man and a woman.” While clearly affirming the Church’s teaching on marriage, the Holy Father has also repeatedly urged us to act lovingly and mercifully toward all of our brothers and sisters, even those who may disagree with our beliefs, and to be more welcoming to all those who seek the healing of Christ.
This change of civil law, despite the challenges and difficulties that it presents to our religious beliefs, must not stop our efforts to continue our mission to become a more welcoming Church, and to evangelize by witnessing to the beauty and truth of the Church’s teaching in our own lives, including  our belief in the sacrament of marriage.
Witnessing to the truth has become increasingly difficult in our contemporary age because truth is considered a relative matter by many of our neighbors and friends. Yet if we move forward in love and respect, then people of all ages will find safe harbor in the Church’s teaching and be drawn to loving and faith-filled communities we wish to create.”

Knights deliver breakfast…and a message of family
| June 29, 2015


NORWALK—On June 14, St. Matthew Council #14360 hosted its Second Annual Family Communion Breakfast at St. Matthew Parish for over 180 guests.

Besides the wonderful food provided by Zody’s 19th Hole in Stamford, the guest speaker delivered some treats of her own. Sister Lucie Monast of Notre Dame Convalescent Home in Norwalk delivered a wonderful talk on respect and family.

Sister Lucie talked about faith and respect within the family and how it needs to be revitalized in families today. The council and Sister Lucie recently combined to work on a huge project to renovate the chapel in the home’s convent.

Notre Dame Convalescent Homes, Inc. was opened in Norwalk on March 24, 1952, as an extended care facility. The Convent House and Mother Kevin Pavilion were used by the Sisters of St. Thomas of Villanova to care for local needy elderly. Sister Lucie enjoyed the day. “I enjoyed and had fun doing the presentation, and I praise the Lord for all the smiles that I witness that morning!”

Committee chair Ron Miller was excited for the results too. “Our Communion Breakfast brought together faith, family, youth and community—a perfect day for our St. Matthews parish Family,” said Miller.

(The Knights of Columbus at St. Matthew, Council #14360, help many local organizations around the city, such as Malta House and Foster Care Agency of Connecticut. For more info, check out