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


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

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

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

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

Consider the following items that have recently dominated the news:

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

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

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

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

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

Can we? Will we?

Monsignor Andy Varga
Pastor, Saint Luke Church, Westport CT

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



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

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

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

Bishop reviews schools viability
| January 19, 2017 • by Brian D. Wallace


BRIDGEPORT—The Diocese of Bridgeport is nearing completion of a 16-month planning process for the future of its elementary schools in Stamford and the greater Danbury and Shelton area.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and other diocesan leaders have begun to personally meet with parents to listen to feedback on working group recommendations. 

The local planning and working groups were formed as the final stage in the study of schools, which began in 2014, and they are reviewing findings including diocesan and community data on finances, demographics, facilities, trends and other factors.

“The results of this planning process now bring us to an important moment in shaping the future,” said Bishop Caggiano. “More specifically, I expect to make important decisions in the coming weeks regarding those schools that continue to face financial difficulties, in the hope of creating a plan to ensure the long-term viability of Catholic education in every region of the diocese.”

The bishop and Superintendent Dr. Steven Cheeseman will return to the schools in February to announce final plans after consultations with pastors and principals, planning committees, school advisory boards, and listening sessions with parents.

While it is anticipated that some schools may consolidate, the bishop said he remains committed to preserving the long-term viability of Catholic education in every region of the diocese, and ensuring that there is a place for every child who wishes to attend a Catholic school in their area.  

The diocesan and school planning groups are also exploring new governance structures,  financial and administrative models, and school redesign to make the best use of resources and prepare for future changes.

“In order to retool our schools for the 21st century and to create learning enviornments focused on innovation and collaboration, we need a student population small enough to form a cohesive and supportive faith community, but large enough to support innovating programing and facilities,” said Dr. Cheeseman.

Ensuring the viability and vitality of schools is one of a number of major initiatives launched by Bishop Caggiano, who has made Catholic schools one of his priorities as they continue to face challenges of deficits, shrinking enrollment and the need to plan for the future.  

In 2014, the diocese created the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, which has made more than $2.2 million a year available for students in elementary schools. The fund was a major breakthrough for families because in addition to serving the poor, it made it possible for middle and upper income families to receive support, particularly when they had more than one child enrolled in Catholic schools.

In 2016, Bishop Caggiano announced the formation of Foundations in Education, an independent philanthropic foundation to support Catholic schools by creating endowments for scholarship aid, professional development and ongoing innovations in curriculum, technology and school design.

The viability studies and planning reviews began with the formation of the Diocese Education Commission in 2014. In June 2015, Sister Mary Grace Walsh, the former Superintendent of Schools, launched a diocesan-wide educational planning process by asking all diocesan elementary schools to complete a viability study for the commission.

The purpose of the study was to identify the areas of challenge that each school faced and to make recommendations that would strengthen their long-term financial viability and educational vitality.

Following that initial study, members of the commission visited each of the 30 diocesan schools for a first-hand understanding of their respective strengths and challenges.  Afterwards, they met with representatives of the leadership team for each school.

According to Dr. Cheeseman, some schools were asked to identify specific benchmarks to help strengthen their long-term financial viability as a result of earlier research and meetings.

“After a great deal of work by local school leaders, some of these schools began the current academic year having made significant progress towards achieving greater financial stability and improvement in their educational programs,” Dr. Cheeseman said.  “A few schools continue to face significant financial challenges.”

He said the strategic planning entered a new phase this past September when every school was asked to complete a comprehensive financial stress test designed to identify any remaining serious challenges to its long-term financial health.

In December, Bishop Caggiano authorized the creation of two local school planning committees based on the results of the stress tests, one in Danbury/Brookfield and the other in Shelton/Monroe, to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their respective schools, the challenges posed by changing demographics, and most importantly, how to ensure the financial stability for schools in their geographical areas.

The committees are composed of three lay leaders chosen by the principal for their professional expertise, including education, financial planning, facilities and marketing. They have met to study the data for each school and have begun working directly with the bishop and superintendent to identify recommendations regarding how best to structure Catholic education going forward. Local pastors and school principals have also been part of the process.

A third school planning group was created earlier last year to study the Catholic schools in Stamford. That planning group has made its recommendation to the bishop who is currently reviewing the options presented.

“I am committed to complete this process with the help of each respective planning committee,” Bishop Caggiano said. “Our collective goal is to allow us to say with confidence that, once planning is completed and recommendations adopted, any child who enrolls in a kindergarten class in any Catholic school will be able to graduate the 8th grade from the same Catholic school.”

The Office of the Superintendent has established a hotline for parents and members of the school community to ask questions or offer observations.

Ministry Formation Day
| January 19, 2017


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BRIDGEPORT—“Prophets of a Future Not Our Own will be the theme of a Ministry Formation Day set for Saturday January 28th, 8:30-2:30, Queen of Saint Hall at the Catholic Center, 238 Jewett Avenue, Bridgeport, CT.

The day is sponsored by the new Diocesan Leadership Institute, and is open to all those serving in ministry.

“If you serve in youth ministry, religious education, liturgy, or any parish/school ministry, you are invited and encouraged to attend,” said Evan Psencik Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Faith Formation

Psencik said the day will feature “three rounds of presentations styled after TED talks.”

Round One, “Modern Day Prophets”, focuses on the Church as Prophet, Young People as Prophets, and The Prophetic Family.

Round Two, ”Prophetic Praxis,” will explore topics including Praying with Young People, Pastoral Care in Crisis, and Reaching the Margins.

Round Three, “Prophetic Engagement,” will reflect on Engaging Others (en Espanol) Engaging Liturgies, and Engaging Technology.

Speakers and Topics

Round One:

Sr. Maureen Sullivan, O.P. – The Church as Prophet
Sr. Maureen Sullivan, O.P. is a Dominican Sister of Hope from New York. She received her M.A. in Theology from Manhattan College in the Bronx and her Ph.D. from Fordham University, also in the Bronx. She is Professor Emerita of Theology at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire.

Patrick Donovan - Young People as Prophets
Patrick is the director of The Leadership Institute and has more than 25 years of ministry experience.

Chris Padgett – The Prophetic Family
Chris Padgett is a popular speaker, musician, professor, and author who has traveled around the world for nearly two decades giving concerts, talks, keynotes, and retreats to all ages about the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. A convert to Catholicism, he also teaches at Franciscan University of Steubenville as well as Catholic Distance University. He and his wife, Linda, have nine children and live north of Syracuse in Constantia, NY.

Round Two:

Fr. Sam Kachuba – Praying with Young People
Fr. Sam Kachuba was born and raised in the Diocese of Bridgeport, where he attended Catholic schools in the diocese before entering St. John Fisher Seminary. He earned his undergrad in philosophy at Fordham University and then studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. He is currently the pastor at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Fairfield.

Dr. Greg Bottaro – Pastoral Care in Crisis
Dr. Gregory Bottaro is a clinical psychologist and founder of the Catholic Psych Institute. He received his Psy.D. (Doctorate in Clinical Psychology) from the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, a graduate school in Arlington, VA that integrates Catholic philosophy and theology with sound, empirically validated psychology.

Dr. Ansel Augustine – Reaching the Margins
Ansel Augustine is the director for the Office of Black Catholic Ministries in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Previously, he served as the associate director and coordinator of Black Catholic youth and young adult ministry for the Archdiocese of New Orleans' CYO Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office. Ansel has his Master’s Degree in Pastoral Studies and Doctorate in Ministry.

Round Three

Armando Cervantes – Engaging Others (en Español)
Armando M. Cervantes holds a BA in Social Sciences with an emphasis in Public and Community Service, an MA in Pastoral Theology, and just recently received his Executive Master in Business Administration from Chapman University. He is the Director of Youth and Young Adult ministries for the Diocese of Orange, advocating and empowering ministry in various language communities.

Fr. Joseph McQuaide – Engaging Liturgies
Rev. Joseph McQuaide is the Vice Chancellor and Coordinator for the Office of Worship for the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware. He has a Master’s degree in Sacramental Theology from the Pontifical Athenaeum of Saint Anselm in Rome and is currently pursuing studies in Canon Law at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.

Evan Psencik - Engaging Technology
Evan is the coordinator of youth and young adult ministry in the Diocese of Bridgeport and brings his winning charm and sunny disposition to all those he meets.

There is a $10/per person charge, which includes continental breakfast and lunch. To learn more and for registration, visit:

Baby Nathan John Touches Hearts and Shows the Beauty of Life
| January 18, 2017 • by Susan Klemond |


MINNEAPOLIS—With temperatures near zero on the evening of January 4, a baby boy spent one of his first hours in a laundry basket left in a cathedral vestibule, where an astonished custodian discovered him as he locked up the church. Uncertain about the baby’s health, the rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota, baptized the infant while waiting for 911 responders.

Since then, the new little Catholic, christened Nathan John after his rescuers, has captured public attention worldwide and inspired the cathedral’s parishioners and others to consider adopting him.

Sacredness of Life

The rescue of the baby, now safe in the care of Ramsey County Child Protective Services, draws attention to “safe haven” laws in all 50 states that allow for the drop-off of newborn and recently born children in designated hospitals and other facilities.

And during the month of January, especially dedicated to the sanctity of life, the baby’s story underscores the Catholic and pro-life conviction that there are no unwanted children, as well as the call to not only profess pro-life beliefs, but act on them.

Nathan John’s story “speaks to the sacredness of human life and the innate quality in human beings to recognize that,” said Charlie Anderson, the St. Paul police sergeant who supervised the baby’s 911 rescue. “It serves to show how important it is that one little newborn life can bring together people from all spheres, as in how beautiful that little life is and how worthy it is of protection and care.”

The story is also “a reminder that many years ago Catholic convents often were safe havens for babies, and the sisters would find a good home for that child,” said Minneapolis-St. Paul Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens, who as an associate pastor in 2000 helped start the “Safe Place for Newborns” program, which later became Minnesota’s Safe Haven Law. “Our Church wants to proclaim to the world that no child is unwanted, and it is wonderful to know that a woman thought her baby would find a safe home by bringing him to the cathedral.”

All 50 states have enacted safe-haven legislation. The age of infants that can be dropped off, designated locations and other legal stipulations vary according to state.

According to the U.S. Government’s Child Welfare Information Gateway, four states allow churches to act as safe havens, but the relinquishing parent must first determine that church personnel are present at the time the infant is left. Although the baby’s mother or family may have chosen to leave him at the cathedral because it is a visible landmark, the Minnesota safe-haven law does not include any churches in the state among its designated safe havens for newborns.

Though she maybe didn’t know about the safe-haven law, according to Bishop Cozzens, “I’m sure that this woman knew that the Catholic Church would be a safe place for her child, since our teaching on the dignity of every human life is so well known. Additionally, we have worked hard locally and nationally to restore the reputation of our Church as safe places for vulnerable children. I hope this is what we are called to be and what the Catholic Church has traditionally been.”

Child of God

At about 6 pm on the night of the rescue, Nathan Leonhardt, 26, who has worked in maintenance at the cathedral for two and a half years, was closing up the Cathedral of St. Paul after evening Mass. As he checked the entry, which is used less frequently during the week, the door hit the basket containing the baby.

He considered coming back for the basket later, until he heard a noise and checked the contents. He was shocked to find the baby wrapped in a fleece blanket, still covered with wet blood and mucus from the birth and his cut umbilical cord clipped with a paper binder. Leonhardt said he has sometimes found homeless people trying to stay warm in the massive granite edifice, but never an abandoned baby. He concluded that the baby must have been dropped off before or during Mass.

Leonhardt called on his radio for cathedral rector Father John Ubel, who noticed that the baby was especially quiet. In recounting the events, Sgt. Anderson estimated that the five-pound baby was about six weeks premature and was suffering from heat loss.

“There are so many things that could have happened but didn’t, and the baby is fine,” Father Ubel said.

The rector decided to perform an emergency baptism in the sacristy using holy water from a Mass cruet. He named him Nathan, which means “gift of God,” after Leonhardt, who served as the godfather. Since it was the feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Father Ubel said he would have named the child Elizabeth if a girl. But since it was the eve of St. John Neumann’s feast day and his own name is John, he chose John for the baby’s middle name.

Leonhardt, who has a 4-year-old daughter but no other godchildren, said, “Being godfather feels pretty similar to how it is with your own children. I feel like he’s my own child. … I think about finding the baby and the baptism and naming him after me. It was so much that happened at once — I was speechless.”

Father Ubel, who is in his fifth year as rector, said he has baptized premature babies before, but only in hospitals. His emergency baptism omitted parts of the rite that could be performed later during a formal ceremony.

A week after the rescue, Father Ubel dropped off the baby’s baptismal certificate with the county’s Child Protective Services. Though the Church is not involved in determining who will raise the child, Father Ubel said he hopes he will be placed in a Catholic home.

The parish has received many emails from parishioners interested in adopting Nathan John or in donating baby items for him.

“It has awakened in me a realization of the number of parents who are patiently and prayerfully waiting for the possibility of adopting a child,” the priest said. “I think just by the responses we have received, so many people have really fallen in love with this child, whom they’ve never met. It says so much about the precious nature of life — and that life is good and that the choice made to choose life in this case was absolutely the right choice.”

From this experience, Father Ubel said he also recognizes the importance of actively supporting life. “If we are truly pro-life as we say we are and we are, then our response [at the cathedral] was the only possible response,” he said. “Our actions and our response have to flow from our belief in faith.”

After making sure the baby received medical care, Sgt. Anderson and the other officers who responded to the cathedral call stopped to buy clothes, toys and baby items for him on their way to see him at the hospital. “We’re all dads, and one was a new dad,” said Sgt. Anderson, who is Catholic and has three children. Amid other calls involving violence and tragedy that night, this one had a blessed ending.

With Nathan John now in good hands, Leonhardt said he hopes the baby’s mother is also doing well. He also prays he will see his godson again.

Father Ubel said he prays for the baby, too. “I want him to have a beautiful and full life,” he said. “I’m really entrusting him to the intercession of the Blessed Mother as well as the protection of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and all the saints. I’m very convinced this was his first day of life.”

Spirited reception launches ACA in Bridgeport
| January 16, 2017


BRIDGEPORT—A gathering of almost 300 people filled the Queen of Saints Hall at the Catholic Center on Sunday for the kickoff reception for 2017 Annual Catholic Appeal.

The afternoon event for people in the Bridgeport area was prayerful, loaded with questions, and enthusiastic about the Appeal, which supports good works throughout the diocese.

Parishioners from St. Margaret Shrine, St. George, St. Charles Borromeo, the Cathedral Parish, St. Mary, St. Ann, St. Andrew and others made the afternoon both festive and focused on supporting the appeal, which funds the major ministries of the diocese.

Fr. Frank Gomez, Pastor of St. Charles Parish on the East Side of Bridgeport, translated for the many Spanish-speaking Catholics in attendance. Many came as entire families-- grandparents, parents, children, and small babies in carriages.

Bishop Caggiano told the guests that the diocese is truly one family, but he expressed concern that the Church is not “meeting people where they are on their life’s journey.”

Many people responded in agreement when the Bishop asked if they knew others who had turned away from the Church because they were hurt or did not feel welcome. He said many people now identify as “spiritual but not religious,” and that our parish communities must be vibrant to welcome them back.

Fr. Peter Lynch, pastor of St. Ann Parish in Black Rock, introduced the Bishop and spoke in both Spanish and English to those who attended the reception. The 2017 ACA video was screened in English along with a shorter Spanish-languauge version.

During a question and answer session, the Bishop fielded many questions including interest in building a Church at St. Margaret Shrine and the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, which he said was open to all children, even if their parents are recent immigrants. itizens.

When asked if there were other ways to give to the appeal in addition to giving money, the bishop responded that people with very little to give can also speak to others about the importance of the Appeal, and the many individual and families that it helps throughout the diocese.

He stressed there are donors who give $250,000 and those who give $10, and that he is equally as grateful because both are giving sacrificially.

After questions and a final prayer, the people enjoyed refreshments and were gifted with a small Lenten reflection book. The Bishop stayed throughout to chat informally and meet family members.

Please call 203.416.1312 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you have questions or need assistance. Give online

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USCCB President urges encounters of the heart in message for Martin Luther King Jr. Day
| January 16, 2017


WASHINGTON—The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, issued the following statement in relation to the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Full statement follows:

U.S. Archbishop Paul C. Marcinkus interprets
at a meeting at the Vatican between Pope Paul VI
and Martin Luther King Jr., accompanied by
his close associate Rev. Ralph Abernathy,
on Sept. 18. 1964. (AP Photo)

A Statement from Cardinal Daniel DiNardo
President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Since the time of the founding fathers, our country has been blessed with citizens who have had the courage to rise above the challenges of their day and call their fellow citizens forward in the unending task of building an ever more just nation. Today, we celebrate such a citizen, Martin Luther King, Jr. His inspiration guides us as we seek to build peace in our communities under the recent strain of division and violence. Recently, USCCB's Task Force for Peace in Our Communities has examined and reported on how the bishops of the United States may improve their own contribution to this ongoing national effort.

While there have been real gains in our country, we must not deny the work before us to heal both old rifts and new wounds, including those created by the evil of racism and related mistrust and violence. Society cannot continue this work if its members are unwilling to engage in encounters of the heart that honestly immerse them in one another's lives. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday provides a wonderful opportunity to examine how well each of us is doing in walking together with others in true encounter and solidarity.

Dr. King reminded us that our obligations to one another "concern inner attitudes, genuine person-to-person relations, and expressions of compassion which law books cannot regulate and jails cannot rectify. Such obligations are met by one's commitment to an inner law, written on the heart. Man-made laws assure justice, but a higher law produces love." On this national holiday, may we think prayerfully about the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. King who directed his work toward both the structural and personal causes of racism. As he urged the nation from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, "no, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until 'justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream'" (Amos 5:24).

Upcoming synod needs young people's voices, pope says
| January 14, 2017 • by Junno Arocho Esteves | Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis asked young people to tell him, their bishops and pastors about their hopes and struggles and even their criticisms.

In preparation for a meeting of the Synod of Bishops focused on youth, the pope wrote a letter to young people, saying the church wants "to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith, even your doubts and your criticism."

"Make your voice heard," the pope told young people. "Let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls."

The pope's letter was released Jan. 13 along with the preparatory document for the synod. The document includes a series of questions to be answered by national conferences of bishops and other church bodies. The responses, along with input from young people themselves, will form the basis of the synod's working document.

Pope Francis chose "Young people, faith and vocational discernment" as the theme for the synod gathering, which will be held in October 2018.

Young people will have an opportunity to contribute to the working document by submitting reflections "on their expectations and their lives" through a dedicated website -- -- that will be launched March 1, said Bishop Fabio Fabene, undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops.

In his letter, Pope Francis referred to God's call to Abraham. The Old Testament patriarch, he said, "received a compelling invitation, a challenge, to leave everything and go to a new land. What is this 'new land' for us today, if not a more just and friendly society which you, young people, deeply desire and wish to build to the very ends of the earth?"

"A better world can be built also as a result of your efforts, your desire to change and your generosity," Pope Francis told young people. "Do not be afraid to listen to the Spirit who proposes bold choices; do not delay when your conscience asks you to take risks in following the Master."

The synod preparatory document offered three chapters for reflection by bishops and youths, which it defines as people roughly between the ages of 16 and 29: young people in today's world; faith, discernment and vocation; and pastoral activity.

Through the synod, the document said, "the church has decided to examine herself on how she can lead young people to recognize and accept the call to the fullness of life and love, and to ask young people to help her in identifying the most effective ways to announce the Good News today."

The church, it said, needs to evaluate its pastoral approach to young people living in a rapidly changing world where globalization, technological dominance, as well as economic and social hardships pose significant challenges to discovering their vocational path.

"From the vantage point of faith, the situation is seen as a sign of our times, requiring greater listening, respect and dialogue," the document said.

A special focus of the synod, it said, will be "on vocational discernment, that is, the process by which a person makes fundamental choices, in dialogue with the Lord and listening to the voice of the Spirit, starting with the choice of one's state in life."

Specifically for Christians, it said, the question is: "How does a person live the good news of the Gospel and respond to the call which the Lord addresses to all those he encounters, whether through marriage, the ordained ministry or the consecrated life?"

One of the major challenges for young people in defining their personal identity and finding their path in life is the countless options available -- particularly when it comes to their careers -- that may impede them from making a definitive life choice.

Many young people today, it said, "refuse to continue on a personal journey of life if it means giving up taking different paths in the future: 'Today I choose this, tomorrow we'll see.'"

Lack of employment and social and economic hardships, it added, also contribute to "their inability to continue in one career. Generally speaking, these obstacles are even more difficult for young women to overcome," it added.

Gender inequality and discrimination against ethnic or religious minorities, which can force people to emigrate, are other detrimental factors that the church is called to address to help young people become "agents of change."

"If society or the Christian community wants to make something new happen again, they have to leave room for new people to take action," the document said.

By accompanying young people in their personal discernment, it said, "the church accepts her call to collaborate in the joy of young people rather than be tempted to take control of their faith."

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, told journalists Jan. 13 that the presence of young men and women at the synod will help bishops understand how best to accompany youths who are searching for their vocation and path in life.

As auditors, young people "will not only be able to take part in the meetings of the general assembly, but also the small working groups," he said.

Federica Ceci and Elvis Do Ceu, young members of Rome's St. Thomas More parish, joined the cardinal for the news conference and expressed their gratitude for Pope Francis' attention to the realities facing today's young people.

Ceci, a 24-year-old law student, said the synod was a call for young people to "get their hands dirty."

Do Ceu told reporters, "Pope Francis, in a certain way, helps us understand that that the only way forward is to offer a future—as well as a present—by engaging young people and giving them a leading role."

Immaculate High School Welcomes Accepted Students
| January 14, 2017


DANBURY—Recently Immaculate High School (IHS) hosted a special Accepted Students Night for the more than 250 accepted students who are eligible to make up the class of 2021.

The final number of students in this class will bringImmaculate High School's overall enrollment to about 500 students, which is a 24 percent increase in the student body in the past four years.

"At Immaculate High School, we encourage our students to find success in academics, athletics, fine arts and extracurricular clubs," said Tom Burns, Director of Admissions. "IHS students come together from area elementary and middle schools to seek academic challenges, discover leadership and use the latest technology, in addition to practicing their faith every day," he added.

The prospective students and their parents were treated to a pasta dinner sponsored by the school's Mustang All Sports Club after informational sessions. Students were paired with existing IHS students to learn more about the unique experiences Immaculate High School offers, while parents met with faculty and staff to further discuss the curriculum, athletics, special programs and scholarship opportunities.

Prior to applying, students take standardized high school entrance exams, visit the school during an Open House and are invited to be a "Mustang for A Day," which involves shadowing current IHS students for a day. A number of prospective parent information sessions are offered during the application process.

Immaculate High School's college acceptance rate is 99 percent with a three-times return on investment (students earned over $18 million in college scholarships in 2016) and there is a 13:1 student-faculty ratio. IHS athletics saw three championship titles last school year, the Fall Drama production "Julius Caesar" was named the Number One School Drama Production in Connecticut and an accumulated average of 23,000 hours of community service are performed by students annually.

Several of this year's accepted students were awarded academic merit awards ranging from $500 to $5,000. Named scholarships of up to $5,000 will be awarded to qualifying student applicants in March.

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

For more information on attending Immaculate High School, contact Tom Burns, Director of Admissions, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or by calling 203.744.1510 ext. 148.

Lessons from an Era of Confusion
| January 12, 2017


NEW YORK—In this "First Things" blog entry, nationally syndicated columnist and Catholic theologian George Weigel reviews "Aggiornamento on the Hill of Janus," the new book by Msgr. Stephen  DiGiovanni, pastor of the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist in Stamford.

Click here to read the review.

Mr. Weigel, who is a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and one of America's leading public intellectuals, offers an appreciative and perceptive reflection on this important book about the history of The American College in Rome. "Some imagine that a return to the free-for-all of the 1970s is the evangelical path forward for twenty-first-century Catholicism; others think a return to the 1950s is what's needed. Msgr. DiGiovanni’s important book raises grave questions about both these prescriptions," Mr. Weigel writes.

Development Office Releases 2017 Annual Catholic Appeal Video
| January 11, 2017


BRIDGEPORT—Here's the first look at "Sharing God's Gift, Transforming Lives," the 2017 Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) video.

This year's video includes an introduction and closing remarks from Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, and interviews with many faithful and fascinating people throughout the diocese. The personal testimonies of faith and good works captured on the video are both moving and inspiring.

"On behalf of the staff of the Development Office, I am pleased to send you the 2017 Annual Catholic Appeal video. This is an excellent and inspirational representation of the diocesan ministries that are funded through the ACA and we look forward to your comments," said William McLean, Chief Development Officer. "Special thanks go out to Pam Rittman, Director of Development, whose efforts were instrumental in overseeing the creative team. Once again, she has delivered a video that tells our story faithfully and memorably."
The full length video is also offered in Spanish and an additional short Spanish version.

Walking with Purpose
| January 10, 2017 • by BETH LONGWARE DUFF


BRIDGEPORT—Walking with Purpose is not your grandmother’s Bible study group. Founded in Maryland in 2002 by a young mother and Catholic convert who was looking for material that was relevant to her situation, Walking with Purpose has evolved into a program that strives to reach out to all Christian women regardless of age, background or marital status. As its website notes, Walking with Purpose “understands how it feels when life is stuck on the spin cycle.”

“Walking with Purpose is based on the idea that all people should
be loved towards Christ, not necessarily taught,” says Julie Ricciardi, CEO
and board chair. Fifteen parishes in Fairfield County offer the program for women.

In 2008, Walking with Purpose came to the Diocese of Bridgeport. Today, 15 parishes in Fairfield County offer the program; close to 200 more faith communities across the United States, Europe and Canada are also active.

“Walking with Purpose is based on the idea that all people should be loved towards Christ, not necessarily taught,” says Julie Ricciardi, whose home parish is St. Thomas More in Darien. “And if we lead with love—and if we meet women where they are in their spiritual journey—the Holy Spirit will fill in the gaps and do the work to lead people closer to Christ.”

Ricciardi not only participates in the Walking with Purpose program, she also serves as the organization’s CEO and board chair. In that capacity, she works closely with its founder, Lisa Brenninkmeyer, who spoke recently to a gathering of Catholic women and priests in the diocese. Brenninkmeyer says the woman-centric nature of the program has a great impact. “I would say it’s somewhat revolutionary in the Church today,” she says. “There has not been a lot of a gentle woman’s voice that is in a leadership position. And I would contrast a gentle voice from a strident voice, a gentle voice that is very much wanting the positions and titles that right now are only held by men.”

“This is really a time for strong women who also have a grace in the way that they communicate to step forward,” she elaborates. “That graciousness is something that other women really do engage with because they relate to it. There’s no agenda behind it all. It’s really a belief that where we are right now we have a voice, and if we use it we can have an enormous impact.”

Walking with Purpose is consistent with Church doctrine and uses the Catechism of the Catholic Church as an additional resource; all course materials have received the imprimatur of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The parish-based program consists of small weekly group meetings plus home study. Classes run for about 90 minutes over a 22-week period, September to April.

Courses have titles like “Opening Your Heart,” “Keeping In Balance” and “Touching the Divine.” The course description for “Discovering Our Dignity” says it provides “modern-day advice from women of the Bible. Ancient wisdom, sage advice, sorrowful failures and woundedness.”
The program also offers monthly gatherings known as Connect Coffee, informal sessions during which women interested in learning more about the program can review course materials and interact with current participants.

Pamela Rittman says she enjoys the upbeat nature of her Thursday night Walking with Purpose meeting at St. Leo Parish in Stamford. “What I really like about the group is the camaraderie of Christian women. We form a sisterhood, in a sense, as we learn more about our faith together.  Along with the teaching we share personal thoughts on spiritual devotions and even challenges we face,” she says. “We each read a page from the chapter and discuss the answers to questions we have prepared before our gathering. It is truly amazing, some of the insights we have learned and how exciting the Bible is.  At the end of the evening, we ask each person for their prayer requests, and then we pray for each other. We’re not trying to impress each other, we just come as we are.”

Walking with Purpose continues on the path to growth and expansion. Coming soon: New courses, a new emphasis on high school and young adult women, and a new program for girls in middle school.

“We’ve been looking at the core issues that women struggle with, and then we’re working our way back to say ‘When did this begin? At what age do women start to struggle with how they define their sense of worth?’” says Brenninkmeyer. “We think a lot of that starts to happen in middle school, and so we want to engage middle school girls before a lot of faulty reasoning has set in. If they’re engaged at that point, many of them will continue to move on to the next level of the program and we won’t lose them.”

(More information about Walking with Purpose is available at A locator map is available under the Parish Programs tab on the homepage.) 

Cardinal Tobin looks to bridge chasm between faith, life in anxious world
| January 08, 2017 • by Beth Griffin Catholic News Service


NEWARK—The chasm between faith and life is the greatest challenge facing the Catholic Church today, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin said at his installation Mass, and he urged the church to be salt for the earth so that the presence of Christ does not become "a comforting, nostalgic memory."

Delivering the homily during the liturgy Jan. 6, the feast of the Epiphany, Cardinal Tobin said he wanted to head off "a growing trend that seems to isolate us, convincing us to neatly compartmentalize our lives" as people attend Mass on Sunday and then doing "whatever we think we need to do to get by" the rest of the week.

Cardinal Tobin said his appointment reminded him "that stakes are incredibly high" as he assumes leadership of the richly diverse Archdiocese of Newark.

"If we permit the chasm between faith and life to continue to expand, we risk losing Christ, reducing him simply to an interesting idea of a comforting, nostalgic memory. And if we lose Christ, the world has lost the salt, light and leaven that could have transformed it," he said.

He recalled how the church is "the place where believers speak and listen to each other, and it is the community of faith that speaks with and listens to the world. The church senses a responsibility for the world, not simply as yet another institutional presence or a benevolent NGO, but as a movement of salt, light and leaven for the world's transformation. For this reason, our kindness must be known to all."

The installation took place before more than 2,000 people at Newark's towering Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Cardinal Tobin concelebrated the Mass with six other cardinals and more than 60 archbishops and bishops. Five hundred priests and deacons also participated.

After a 30-minute processional, Archbishop John J. Myers, retired archbishop of Newark, welcomed participants and took special note of members of Cardinal Tobin's religious community, the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, his mother, Marie Terese Tobin, and his extended family. Cardinal Tobin, 64, is the eldest of 13 children.

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the United States, recalled when St. John Paul visited Newark in 1995, he described the nearby Statue of Liberty as a symbol of "the nation America aspires to be." Archbishop Pierre told Cardinal Tobin, "We are confident that in imitation of the Good Shepherd, your episcopal ministry will be both hospitable and welcoming."

The nuncio read the apostolic mandate from Pope Francis to the College of Consultors to authorize Cardinal Tobin as the new archbishop of Newark. The letter noted that Cardinal Tobin carried out his episcopal responsibility to his flock in Indianapolis for four years "with prudence, decision-making and much learning." It also commended him to the protection of St. Patrick and St. Elizabeth, patrons of the archdiocese.

Carrying the unfurled scroll with the mandate raised high in front of him, Cardinal Tobin walked down the main aisle and was greeted with sustained applause.

Safe Environment Training for Parents
| January 08, 2017


BRIDGEPORT— A Safe Environment Training for parents will be offered by the Diocese of Bridgeport on Thursday January 12th, 2017 at the Catholic Center.

The first session for Elementary School parents (K-8) will be held from 5:00 P.M.-6:00 P.M. The second from 6:15 P.M.-7:15 P.M. is designed for parents of High School students (Grades 9-12). The presentations will be held in Room L14 of the center.

Bernadette Griffen, Safe Environment Program Assistant, will serve as facilitator for the program which includes a short video and question and answer session.

“This is an opportunity to learn more about the Children’s Safe Environment Training, Think First and Stay Safe and the Netsmartz workshop which takes place in the Catholic Schools throughout Fairfield County,” said Erin Neil, L.C.S.W., Director of the Safe Environment Office and Victim Assistance Coordinator of the Diocese of Bridgeport

Topics for the presentation include child safety, sexual abuse prevention, internet dangers, school yard and cyber bullying, abduction prevention, safe use of technology, and the latest popular Apps that are a high risk to children.

Griffen is a professional counselor who conducts Child Abuse Prevention trainings for adults and children across the Diocese of Bridgeport. She has more than four years of clinical experience with adults and children in school settings, substance abuse treatment programs and is currently working with adults who have been convicted of sex crimes and crimes against children in order to promote recovery and reduce recidivism with offenders.

Neil said there are 242 employees and volunteers in Schools, Parishes and Diocesan Organizations who are trained as Local Safe Environment Coordinators and have access to the VIRTUS (a live comprehensive three hour class on Child Sexual Abuse Prevention) database as administrators.

In October the Diocese of Bridgeport was found to be in compliance with all audited articles within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People for the 2015/2016 audit period. The successful audit follows a major effort in 2015 to update diocesan programs, initiative a comprehensive re-certification process and introduce online innovations in the past year.

The Catholic Center is located at 238 Jewett Avenue, Bridgeport. Pre-registration for the training is required to ensure that participants are notified in the event of any changes or cancellations. Please email or call no later than 24-hours prior to the date of the training. Office: (203) 416-1650 Cell Phone: (475) 988-5366 email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


The Diocese of Bridgeport has been found compliant with all audited articles within the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People for the 2015/2016 audit period.

Diocese Set to Launch the Diocesan Leadership Institute
| January 06, 2017


WESTPORT—The Diocese will formally launch its new Diocesan Leadership Institute with Evening Prayer and brief presentation on Encounter, Formation and Discipleship on Wednesday, January 11, 7 pm at Assumption Church in Westport.

Music will be provided by the Assumption Parish music ministry, and Chris Padgett an internationally known ministry leader, will share his powerful story of coming to the faith and the importance of continued formation in his own life.

The institute will offer a combination of online learning, face-to-face workshops and independent study for those serving ministry in parishes and schools and for all Catholics throughout the diocese who wish to learn more about their faith.

“This is an historic moment for our Diocese to come together and grow in our knowledge of our Catholic faith and to celebrate in the presence of the Lord,” said Bishop Frank Caggiano.

The Bishop noted that the formation of a Leadership Institute was a priority for delegates who participated in the Fourth Diocesan Synod.

“During the launch we will pray that the Leadership Institute helps us as a diocese to grow in our knowledge of the things we believe, to grow in our spiritual relationship with the Lord, to learn how to pray more deeply and broadly, and to learn about the ministries of the church and the beautiful family we form,” the Bishop said.  

Patrick Donovan, founding director of the Institute, said it is designed to function as a clearinghouse for resources for those in ministry, while at the same time “serving as a virtual library for anyone who wishes to learn more about the Catholic faith regardless of the role on might choose to play in spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.”

“The institute will offer creative opportunities for ministry personnel to grow in faith and discover new ways to shape the next generation of disciples in Fairfield County,” said Donovan.

For more information on the Diocesan Leadership Institute, visit the website:

St. Theresa Students Honor our Nation’s Veterans
| January 06, 2017


TRUMBULL—The middle school students of St. Theresa School in Trumbull recently honored some of our nation’s Veterans by creating and sending them Veteran’s Day cards. On November 11th, the students wrote to several veterans from both World War II and the Korean War.

This year marked the second year that the school’s Religion classes dedicated the day to learning about the sacrifices made by so many men and women throughout our nation’s history. They also learned that as Mary brought Jesus into the world at the Nativity, we each bring Christ to the world through service. In this particular activity, the students learned about the importance of service to our nation.

The veterans that the students wrote to this year included former President George H.W. Bush, former Vice-President Walter Mondale, longtime U.S. Senator Bob Dole, and baseball legends Dr. Bobby Brown and Bobby Doerr. Each student was assigned a veteran to write to, and designed their cards specifically to their assigned veteran.

“The Holy Spirit reminds all of us that while many wars took place years before any of these students were born, these veterans still need our love, support, and encouragement,” said John Agostino, the middle school Religion teacher at St. Theresa School. “It’s important for the students to recognize the sacrifices made by each veteran every day of the year, but especially on Veteran’s Day.”

Just days after sending out their cards, the students were thrilled to receive a response from Walter Mondale, who served for two years at Fort Knox during the Korean War. In his letter, he thanked the students for taking the time to write to him. He also stated, “One of the joys of my life was to have been involved in public life in our country.” Mr. Mondale was referring to both his service in the United States Army, his years as United States Senator, and his term as United States Vice President under President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981.

In addition to receiving a letter from Mr. Mondale, the students also received a response from Senator Dole who fought in World War II, and Dr. Brown who fought in the Korean War. In his letter, Dr. Brown stated, “The letters thanking me for my service to our nation represent the highest acclaim. It makes all the efforts I expended worthwhile.”

Dr. Brown is best remembered as the Third baseman for the New York Yankees who postponed his career from 1952 to 1954 in order to serve his nation. Through his example, the students learned how service to his nation was more important to Dr. Brown than any of the four World Series titles he won while a member of the New York Yankees.

Additionally, the students received a response from World War II veteran George H.W. Bush. While in World War II from 1942 to 1945, Bush reached the rank of Lieutenant, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals, and the Presidential Unit Citation. Aside from his service in service in World War II, Bush is best remembered as the nation’s Vice President under President Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1989, and as the nation’s forty-first President from 1989 to 1993.

In his letter, President Bush commented on the quality of the letters sent by the students. He wrote, “They (the letters) are all so well done, and I thank you for remembering me so thoughtfully.”

Similar to Mr. Mondale and Dr. Brown, President Bush also commented on the pleasure he had in serving our nation. He said, “Service to country is a high honor, and I count my years in the Navy and later as Vice President and President as the most rewarding of my life.”

Mr. Agostino and the students of St. Theresa School look forward to writing to more of our nation’s veterans in the future.

New Covenant volunteers is “Hometown Hero”
| January 05, 2017


STAMFORD—This week’s “Hometown Hero,” profiled on the popular TV News12 Connecticut feature, is Sally Kelman of Stamford, a long-time volunteer at New Covenant Center and a member of Temple Sinai in Stamford.

Once again Sally and members of the Temple served Christmas meals at New Covenant House so that staff and other volunteers could be home with their families. They also are active volunteers throughout the year in the effort of NCC to serve the working poor and vulnerable.

New Covenant Center (NCC) is a program of  Catholic Charities of Fairfield County, Inc., opened in 1978 as a soup kitchen “to help the neediest in greater Stamford meet the most basic need for food in a dignified and respectful environment."

Annually, approximately 800 interfaith volunteers, either singly or as a group from various employers and organizations and places of worship provide invaluable assistance with every aspect of our operations: preparing and serving food, stocking and staffing the food pantry, fundraising, holiday appeals, strategic planning, and community outreach.

In addition to providing 300 hot meals daily through its soup kitchen programs, NCC also provide groceries for 400 families through its Food Pantry, and helps guests build daily living skills with programs including life counseling job skills, and basic medical care.

New Covenant Center is open 365 days a year and recently moved into new and expanded quarters at 174 Richmond Hill Avenue. For information contact John Gutman, Executive Director at 203.964.8228, ext. 401 or Betsy Lopez, assistant director at 203.964.8228, ext. 415. Visit the website:

Click here to see the video on Hometown Hero: Sally Kelman | News 12 Connecticut

Local priest writes the book on his alma mater
| January 02, 2017 • by Nora Naughton from


STAMFORD—A trip to Rome isn’t something to be turned down.

That’s what Msgr. Stephen DiGiovanni, of Stamford’s Basilica of St. John the Evangelist, said inspired him to write his latest book: “Aggiornamento on the Hill of Janus.”

The historical vignette of his alma mater, the Pontifical North American College in Rome, picks up where another graduate left off. Father Robert McNamara published a 100-year anthology of the college—“The American College in Rome, 1855-1955”—in 1956.

Nearly six decades later, DiGiovanni was asked by the Archbishop of New York to spend a year in Rome and continue McNamara’s work.

DiGiovanni explored the school’s cultural transformation during the Vatican II transition, the Vietnam War and the social revolutions of the 1960s and 70s. “Aggiornamento on the Hill of Janus” is a history of the American seminary from 1955 through 1979, he said.

“The school and the church were both going through some very turbulent changes at the time,” DiGiovanni said. “Some of the book is very wacky and weird. It’s a very interesting cultural and religious balance.”

DiGiovanni, who received his doctoral degree from NAC in 1983, spent two semesters in Rome between 2014 and 2015, gathering research and interviews for the book. It was written to supplement McNamara’s academic work, but it reads more like a narrative.

“The book is academic in that there are a lot of sources and archives and footnotes, but it’s not difficult to read,” he said. “Anyone familiar with the culture of this era — this stuff is there. We have Vietnam, sex, drugs and rock and roll, civil rights—it’s all there.”

This is DiGiovanni’s second book. His first, published in in 2013, also focuses on NAC. “The Second Founder: Bishop Martin J. O'Connor and the Pontifical North American College,” chronicles the re-opening of the American seminary in Rome after World War II.

For this book, DiGiovanni said he was fascinated by the ways in which the events and changes in practice at NAC reverberated into the rest of the world.

“If you’ve ever wondered how today’s American church came to be what we know now—well, here’s part of it,” he said. “What happened (at NAC) was imitated and replicated around the world.”

“Aggiornamento on the Hill of Janus” was published by Midwest Theological Forum earlier this year. Its first run includes 1,500 copies. It is available on Amazon or for a discounted price at the Basilica in downtown Stamford.

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address);

Strength for the Journey
| January 01, 2017


RIVERSIDE—St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Riverside will launch the first of four monthly talks on “Accompanying the Sick and Dying” (Strength for the Journey) on Sunday, January 8, 2017.

Download the flyer

The four-part symposium will begin with Works of Mercy, Faith Centered Care by Dr. Gregory Bottaro, a Clinical Psychologist (with a private practice in Byram) and Founder and Director of the Catholic Psych Institute. It will be held from 12:30 to 2 pm in the parish auditorium, 4 Riverside Avenue.

“Dr. Bottaro will explore how we can be merciful, loving and charitable caregivers, as well as "take care" of our own emotional and spiritual needs while caregiving. He is a captivating speaker and his talk will be very rewarding,” said Dr. Lisa Rooney, Faith Community Nursing (FCN) minister and one of the coordinators of the Faith Community Nursing Ministry at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Riverside.

Dr. Rooney said each of the speakers in the four-part series “are pillars of care in our local community, with a reputation for approaching those who are in need of care with dignity, love, and charity within their respective vocations.”

“I know so well, through my own profession, personal experience with my own family and my Faith Community Nursing (FCN) Ministry work these past few years, that these topics generate fear, dread, and avoidance,” Dr. Rooney said.

“We are called to be joyful people. How can we remain so, while living with or witnessing the sadness of sickness and dying? And how can we live with loss afterwards?” she said.

She said the symposium is meant to bring knowledge and fortitude, hope and peace as people accompany those who are suffering.

“No one can avoid this journey-if not called upon to personally accompany someone, we will at least be called upon to comfort or advise someone who is suffering or their caregiver,” she said.

She said the lessons and topics of the symposium do not apply to just the elderly or those who care for the aged but for everyone.

“We know that ‘as for that day and hour, nobody knows it...’ (Matthew 24) when someone we love and cherish will need our accompaniment through sickness, tragedy or death. How will we respond?”

The Faith Community Nursing (FCN) ministry at St. Catherine's was started three years ago in response to a need to care for our fellow parishioners' physical, emotional and spiritual well-being through times of sickness, death and other loss, emotional crises, and other hardships. FCN ministry assists the priests and deacons of the parish in ministering to all parishioners in need.  
“Our role is to support the work of our dedicated priests and deacons who are also visiting the sick and the dying, bringing them great comfort as well as the Sacraments,” said Dr. Rooney.

“With Christ as our Center, we try and live the Gospel while visiting, assisting and bringing Communion to the sick, dying and homebound and providing referrals and other information for parishioners on issues of daily living,” she said.

The ministry makes bereavement calls, following up on the families of the deceased from the parish, offering comfort and support in addition to offering prayers. And we are a source of prayers, for our parishioners and each other and forming people in ministry to the sick and dying. It has made over 1000 visits in two years.

Those who participate in the program are also invited to attend the 10:30 am Mass at St. Catherine of Siena Church, followed by a light lunch at noon in the school gymnasium. The talk begins at 12:30. All talks will be held in the parish auditorium, 4 Riverside Avenue.

Symposium Dates and Topics:

January 8, 2017
Works Of Mercy — Faith Centered Care
Dr. Gregory Bottaro, Clinical Psychologist; Founder/Director of The Catholic Psych Institute

February 19, 2017
Peace Through Preparation — Talking About End-of-Life Decisions
Dr. Donna Coletti, Founder and Medical Director of Palliative Care at Greenwich Hospital

April 23, 2017
Pastoral Care -Stories from a Life of Service
Msgr. Alan F. Detscher, Pastor; Reverend William F. Platt, Parochial Vicar and Deacon Robert Henrey, St. Catherine of Siena Parish May 7, 2017 Letting Go While Holding On - Living with Loss Dr. Heather Wright, Ordained Minister, PCUSA; Licensed Professional Counselor and Executive Director of the Greenwich Center for Hope and Renewal

May 7, 2017
Letting Go While Holding On - Living with Loss
Dr. Heather Wright, Ordained Minister, PC
USA; Licensed Professional Counselor and Executive Director of the Greenwich Center for Hope and Renewal

Vatican says 3.9 million pilgrims visited during Jubilee year
| December 31, 2016 • by Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—More than 3.9 million pilgrims visited and attended papal events, liturgies or prayer services during the Holy Year of Mercy in 2016, the Vatican said.

The Prefecture of the Papal Household, the Vatican office that coordinates the audiences and distributes the free tickets to papal audiences and liturgies, said a total of 3,952,140 people attended a papal event at the Vatican. The Vatican released the statistics December 29.

Although the total was slightly higher from the 3.2 million visitors received by Pope Francis in 2015, for a jubilee year it still fell short of the 5.9 million pilgrims who visited in 2014.

Terrorists attacks in Europe throughout the year are also thought to have discouraged visitors from traveling during what are typically busy tourist seasons in Italy.

During 2016, 762,000 people attended the pope's 43 weekly general audiences while 446,000 attended the 11 jubilee audiences held one Saturday a month.

More than 169,000 people took part in special group audiences; more than 924,000 people participated in papal liturgies in St. Peter's Basilica or St. Peter's Square; and more than 1.6 million people joined the pope for the Angelus or the "Regina Coeli" prayer on Sundays and major feast days in St. Peter's Square.

The statistics released by the Vatican stand in contrast to the numbers published on the Jubilee of Mercy website, which states that over 21 million participated in the Holy Year of Mercy. The number includes pilgrim groups and individuals who crossed through the Holy Door that are not included in the Vatican's statistics.

The papal event statistics do not include papal events in the city of Rome or international visits made by Pope Francis. They also are based on the number of ticket requests and estimates of crowd size.

In Christmas messages, patriarchs call for peace amid Christian persecution
| December 28, 2016 • by Doreen Abi Raad Catholic News Service


BEIRUT—Lamenting the exodus of Christians from their ancestral homelands, Catholic patriarchs of the Middle East pleaded for peace and security in their annual Christmas messages.

In separate statements, the prelates shared their anguish regarding the persecution and uprooting of Christians from the region.

Cardinal Bechara Rai, patriarch of Maronite Catholics, appealed to the international community to work to end terrorism "that is killing and displacing families and depriving them of their rights and dignities" He made the comments in his message from Bkerke, the patriarchate north of Beirut.

He also called upon the U.N. Security Council "to work seriously to find political solutions to the wars, aimed at bringing comprehensive and lasting peace and the repatriation of refugees back to their homelands."

In his message, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan called attention to "our beloved brothers and sisters of Syria and Iraq ... deprived of the Christmas joy, having endured the horrible consequences of war, violence, and all kind of persecutions." They suffered "all this hardship" because of their Christian faith and their willingness "to persevere in faithfulness to Jesus the Savior," he added.

Patriarch Younan reiterated that Christians were "uprooted from their lands and driven out unjustly from their homes by barbarian terrorists, in Mosul and the Plain of Nineveh, Iraq," referring to the exodus of some 100,000 Christians -- among them more than 60,000 Syriac Catholics -- when the region was overtaken by Islamic State militants in 2014.

"How would they welcome Christmas, but in tears and anxiety for their future!" the patriarch wrote.

Regarding his visit in late November to the recently liberated Christian villages in the Nineveh Plain, Patriarch Younan said "there is still a lot to do" to inspire confidence "to our eradicated and exiled community" to return to their ancestral land.

"We have to keep hoping that the local government and international leaders will expel the terrorists and restore peace and security," he said, emphasizing that this is a basic condition for the return "of our uprooted people."

"We hope the same for all the inhabitants of war-torn Aleppo, the second largest city of Syria, after being liberated and reunified," he added.

Patriarch Younan expressed his appreciation for the "praiseworthy efforts of many Catholic politicians in the West who would disagree with the official policy of their government in dealing with the plight of Christians in the Middle East."

"We need the honest and courageous solidarity of elected people, like Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, to speak up on behalf of Christians and other minorities who have been oppressed, abused and up-rooted by jihadists who kill innocents in the name of their religion, either in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Nigeria."

Before Christmas, Smith, R-New Jersey, visited Irbil, in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq to meet with Christians who had fled Islamic State forces.

The patriarch said it is "quite evident that our people have been persecuted because of religious hatred and forgotten because of the political opportunism of the powerful of this world."

Patriarch Younan, a native of the Syrian province of Hassake, served for 14 years as bishop of Our Lady of Deliverance Syriac Catholic Diocese of the U.S. and Canada, which is based in Newark, New Jersey. He was elected patriarch in January 2009.

Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham, in his message, stressed that "today in the Middle East, the cradle of Christianity, the Christian presence is threatened ... by wars that have given rise to this terrifying exodus, especially of Christians."

"This is a prayer for the peace of Christmas to protect our suffering countries, especially Palestine, Iraq and most especially our beloved Syria," the Syrian-born patriarch wrote. "I continue to repeat my motto: give us peace and security, because that is the warranty and condition for Christian resistance, presence, role and witness."

Patriarch Laham urged the region's Christians to stay in their homelands, stressing that "our presence here is of great, global and historical significance! We are not asked to sacrifice our families, though we must struggle to remain here despite dangers, difficulties and hardships."

"If Christians emigrate," Patriarch Laham added, "it is as though Christ were leaving his country and homeland."

From Baghdad, Iraq, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako, wrote: "Amidst the concerns and worries of Iraqis, Syrians, and people of the Middle East, in which children and civilians are victims of a harsh war, millions of persons are displaced from their homes, driven out of their lands and are living in tragic conditions, after the destruction of their towns' infrastructure."

He expressed his hope that "this feast may revive our people's hope to return to their homes, ancestral lands, history and memories."

A colorful Christmas at St. Margaret Shrine
| December 26, 2016 • by Linda Conner Lambeck | Published in


BRIDGEPORT—As the Mass ended for one group of worshippers at St. Margaret Shrine on Christmas morning, another group started slipping in through the side doors for the next service.

The bells pealed. The sun beamed. Some worshippers even wore Santa hats.

Greeted by statues, memorials and monuments, patrons gathered for the sixth Mass celebrated at this 200-seat chapel from 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve until noontime on Christmas Day.

For some, it was a standing-room-only view, but a precious gift just the same.

Soprano cantor Lucia Palmieri, a stirring presence at all six services with her classically trained voice, sang beautifully and deliberately through the final carol, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”

“Christmas brings us gifts of joy, of hope, of peace and of love,” Deacon Donald Foust said during the final sermon. “Some of us come every Sunday to get fueled up by gospel and homily. If you don’t come, it is so easy for the candle to not be lit.”

A popular message, no doubt, from pulpits everywhere on Christmas.

Combined, there were more than 600 worshipers at the six St. Margaret services, Foust said, double the number who attend the shrine on a regular Sunday.

Still, St. Margaret and its Italian-based chapel, which is open year-round, is enjoying a renewal of sorts. Its membership, Foust said, is multicultural and multiracial.

Many worshippers, but not all, are former parishioners of Holy Rosary on East Washington Avenue and St. Raphael on Frank Street. Both churches closed in 2012.

Jerry Ferrande used to attend St. Raphael. When he came to St. Margaret, Ferrande said he brought all of his friends, including Emilio DeAngelis, who now runs the choir.

“It will be six years ago next month we started coming here,” Ferrande said. “I love the Italian church.”

Many members here trace their roots back to Ripi, a small village in Frosinone, Italy, Ferrande said.

Phil Chiodi, 45, had attended St. Raphael since he was a boy. Although Chiodi lives in Shelton, he comes back to Bridgeport to attend St. Margaret with his family.

His 4-year-old son, Franceso Chiodi, dressed in a sharp vest and bow tie on Christmas, enjoys interacting with the deacons. There are three assigned to St. Margaret, including 94-year-old Joe Melita, the senior deacon of the diocese.

As Melita read from the gospel, the sun poured through the stained-glass windows and created a rainbow of colors that danced across the pews and the creche placed on the poinsettia-filled altar.

“This is a place of prayer and peace,” Foust said of the shrine.

It’s also a place for the generations.

Some members of Melita’s family, including his son and grandson, came from California to attend the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Margaret.

Ana Badolato, a former Holy Rosary parishioner who lives down the street from the shrine, said both her daughters were baptized at St. Margaret, which was built in 1942.

St. Margaret has grown in recent years to host shrines honoring Portugal, Vietnam, Cuba, Mexico and Italy, all set into the rocky, eight-acre landscape.

There are shrines dedicated to a number of saints, including Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Fatima, St. Padre Pio and St. Sebastian. There is also a veterans memorial, a newly dedicated memorial to the victims of Sandy Hook and a replica of the town of Bethlehem with a nativity scene that opened last Christmas.

“Already, more than 1,000 people have gone through it,” Foust said of the nativity replica, built into a hollowed-out ledge by Armando Palumbo, a local artist.

Pat D’Ambrosio, the historian for St. Margaret, said three more shrines are in the works, destined to honor Knights of Columbus founder Michael McGivney, St. Francis of Assisi and first responders, including those who worked on 9/11.

St. Mary’s congregation recreates city of Bethlehem
| December 26, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—There was something missing from St. Mary’s on the city’s East Side, something that became more urgent as summer turned to fall and the subject of Christmas decorations came up.

By John Burgeson | Published in

Until a few months ago, St. Mary’s was guided by the Rev. Matthew Bernelli who had been with the church about 12 years. During those years he set up an elaborate Nativity scene in front of the altar. But when he retired, that Nativity scene went with him.

“So without Father Bernelli’s nativity, we were at a loss at first,” the Rev. Rolando Torres said. “Then Martha Bernal, who is from Colombia, along with her husband, Edgar, and a lot of other people here, came to the rescue.”

What the Bernals and their three adult daughters did was to recreate in miniature not just a Nativity scene, but the entire city of Bethlehem.

The new tableau took shape not in the chapel, but in a side chamber known as the “crying room.” This is where mothers take their fussing babies for a bottle and some calming words before rejoining the Mass.

“Everyone brought something — the people go crazy with this,” Bernelli said, eyeing the dozens of lovingly placed figurines. “As you might expect, we got quite a few Marys and Josephs, so most of them had to be reassigned to other duties, like shepherds and other citizens of Bethlehem.”

Bernelli said that he first wanted to keep it simple — a small creche. “But then Martha came to me and said, ‘Let’s do this with a Latin American perspective, like it’s done in Colombia — a Belen.’ ”

”Belen” is Spanish for “Bethlehem,” and as it suggests, it involves a recreation in miniature of the city where Christ was born — with its merchants, shopkeepers, farmers and a host of others.

The tiny city began to take shape in November. Construction foam was used to create the tri-level landscape where houses, a Roman-style bathhouse, the inn and the famous stable soon sprouted. Larger official-looking buildings are on the top level, while humble homes occupy the other two levels.

Electricians wired the city with miniature lightbulbs. A brook with running water flows at the left from the hilltop where Mary and Joseph wait for the arrival of the Christ child under the watchful eye of the angel Gabriel.

St. Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first presepio in Greccio, Italy, on Christmas Eve in 1223. That one used a combination of live actors and carved figures. The Nativity scene idea spread quickly throughout Europe and within a few centuries the creche — now with miniature figures, began to appear at Christmastime not only in churches, but in the homes of the faithful, too.

As is the custom with many Roman Catholics, the display in St. Mary’s was missing the baby Jesus when reporters turned out last week to check on the progress of the display. That figurine would have to wait until midnight on Christmas Eve before it’s placed in the manger.

”We had to make everything here, and just about all of it is hand-made,” said Bernal, who arrived in the U.S. from Colombia with her family 12 years ago. ”And next year, it’ll be even be more fantastic, with live fish and maybe moving figures.”

The scene was blessed by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano about a week ago.

Opened in 1988, St. Mary’s is one of the newer Roman Catholic churches in the city. The parish is one of the city’s oldest, however; it first came into being in 1857. A new church was opened in 1877. It was badly damaged in a fire in 1927, and reopened in 1928. The old brick church was demolished in 1982 to make way for the present chapel.

Bishop’s Christmas Message
| December 23, 2016


< Click player to listen

BRIDGEPORT—In this audio message, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano reflects on the meaning of Christmas in troubled times when many people around the globe are suffering from wars, terrorism and other dislocation.

The Bishop says that Christmas gives us “the enduring mystery of the incarnation,” that God is with us and shares our human life with us, the joys and challenges along with our pain and suffering. “The word Emmanuel beautifully describes the gift of Christmas,” says the Bishop as he asks us to pray for our sisters and brothers throughout the world who are vulnerable and suffering.

The Bishop reminds us that the “enduring challenge” of Christmas and what makes us worthy of this great gift is to become “messengers of Emmanuel” is to help bring Christ’s love to the world and to reach out to those who are lonely or in need of hope.

“On this joyous day, let us ask for the special grace to be Emmanuel's messenger. Let us be His hands, feet, and voice, and to bring his love to a waiting world, so that one day all people of good will shall see the place where their hope and salvation was born in the manger of Bethlehem. I pray that our Heavenly Father will abundantly bless you and all those you love this day with every grace. Merry Christmas!"

This Little Light of Mine
| December 23, 2016


FAIRFIELD—“This little light of mine, I’m going to make it shine,” sang the entire 14-member cast of the St. Catherine Academy Christmas Pageant as they held tiny candles in their hands.

And that light shone in their faces and their voices as they sang in the yearly pageant before Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and an audience of 200 people at St. Catherine Special Needs Center.

“This is the fourth time I’ve been here and it always touches my heart,” said Bishop Caggiano after the cast finished with a joyous version of Feliz Navidad. “I think it’s because we don’t come here just to watch a performance but to join these young people in prayer that is simple and authentic.”

“They remind us what Christmas is all about. God didn’t stand by the advantaged; the stood by the poor and vulnerable to show the world his true face. Today we see the face of God in these young people,” he said in heartfelt remarks.

The young actors processed in through the center aisle and up a ramp strung with white Christmas bulbs as they sang, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” The ceilings and walls were highlighted sprays of red and green Christmas lights.

St. Catherine student Anthony Virgile held the production together with his excellent work as narrator, while Lindy Paul played Mary and Anthony Davis played Joseph in the nativity scene.

Throughout the production, audience members joined the cast in singing Christmas favorites including Angels We Have heart on High, Silent Night, and O Come All Ye Faithful.

The young cast members sang a spirited version of “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” and a moving rendition of “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace.”

This year’s play also included the reading of Gospel passages of the early miracles of Jesus reenacted by the students.

The production was written by Sister Eileen Boffa, RSM, and directed by Sister Cheryl Driscoll, RSM.

With dramatic lighting and a bright star provided by the Quick Center of Fairfield University, the cast performed and sang the Christmas story while looking resplendent in full costume.

The yearly production received a boost from the St. Patrick’s Council of the Knights of Columbus, volunteers from the Order of Malta, Hauser Equipment and Welding and members of Holy Cross Parish, where the campus is located.

Helen Burland, Executive Director of St. Catherine’s, welcomed guests and thanked the staff, board and parents for all they do for the school, and said the pageant “has become a tradition at St. Catherine, which helps kickoff the Christmas season.”

Established in 1999 as a fulltime day school for students who benefit from a functional academic, social and life skills curriculum in addition to developing academic skills, St. Catherine Academy educates students ages 5-21 who are motivated to learn but unable to thrive in an inclusive setting.

St. Catherine Academy is located at 760 Tahmore Dr., Fairfield (on the grounds of Holy Cross Parish). For info call 203.540.5381. Online at:

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| December 23, 2016


MILFORD—While there are countless gestures of helping those less fortunate at the holidays, the young women who attend Lauralton Hall in Milford are dedicated to service throughout the year.

For over 100 years, the mission of the all-girls college-prep school is not only to prepare students for academic success, but to be bearers of mercy to those in need.

“Although our curriculum is always focused on scholastic achievement, our Catholic school’s foundation is the teachings of the Sisters of Mercy,” explained Dr. Toni Iadarola, President and Head of School, Lauralton Hall. “Service to others is the driving force behind all of our activities.”

Lauralton Hall was founded in 1905 under the direction of Mother Mary Augustine Claven. As a nun in the Order of the Sisters of Mercy, Mother Claven took the charge to start a gender revolution in female education that began with Mother Catherine McAuley in Ireland. Mother McAuley dedicated her life to improving the lives of the poor, especially women and children, and fought for women to achieve their God-given potential through education.

Today, Lauralton Hall students are finding new ways to make a difference, particularly at holiday time. As part of their Stocking Stuffer Drive, the school’s National Honor Society chapter assembled more than 40 gift bags filled with personal care items and Stop & Shop gift cards and delivered them on December 15th to the Mercy Learning Center in Bridgeport. The students also donated five large boxes filled with replacement items that they had collected during the drive, which totaled more than 500 items.

Another Lauralton group, the Campus Ministry, decorated and donated a tree to the Milford Hospital Festival of Trees with the theme of “The Spirit of Lauralton Hall.”

Throughout the year, Lauralton supports the efforts of the Mercy Learning Center to provide basic literacy and life skills training to low-income women using a holistic approach within a compassionate, supportive environment. Following a highly successful Thanksgiving food drive in November, two students worked with the director of the center to provide women with food from the pantry.

Also in November, Lauralton Hall joined forces with Fairfield Prep to pack food for Thanksgiving as part of a community service day with Father Skip Karcinski, Pastor at Blessed Sacrament in Bridgeport.

Dr. Iadarola points out that since community service is integrated into students’ lives at Lauralton Hall, their good works continue long past the holidays. The McCauley Club, for instance, a long-standing service program at Lauralton, packs bagged lunches and delivers them to the Beth-El Center for the homeless in Milford every other week.

Dr. Iadarola shared the Core Values of a Mercy Education:

  • Compassion and Service
  • Educational Excellence
  • Concern for Women and Women’s Issues
  • Global Vision and Responsibility
  • Spiritual Growth and Development
  • Collaboration

Founded in 1905 by the Sisters of Mercy, Lauralton Hall is the first independent Catholic college-prep school for young women in Connecticut. More than 470 students from over 40 Connecticut towns attend. Inspired by the Mercy Tradition, their mission is to empower young women to pursue their highest potential through lifelong learning, compassionate service, and responsible leadership in a global society. For more information, visit Lauralton Hall is located at 200 High Street, Milford.

St Mary's Nativity, a labor of unity and love
| December 22, 2016 • by Fr. Rolando Torres, Pastor of St. Mary Parish


BRIDGEPORT—Christmas is that special time of the year in which we unite in front of the Baby Jesus and beg Him to bless and protect our families.

This Christmas was very special for us here in St.  Mary’s Parish in Bridgeport, in addition to the fact that the whole community continues to unite and strengthen spiritually, their talents were demonstrated to another level.

Our parishioners demonstrated that everything is possible if we unite in peace and harmony to create something wonderful. Of course I'm talking about the Bethlehem, the Manger or the Nativity this year. The work was done with great talent, hard work, and hours and hours of efforts that at the end we were able to see the fruits in a spectacular scene of the Birth of Our Lord and Master.

I was 6 years old when my mother explained the meaning of the celebration of Christmas and from that moment on I never forgot that Christmas is Christ and Christ is Christmas. During this time in my native country, Puerto Rico, we would go to the Christmas Masses and you could not miss the Nativities and the joy of sharing as a community the birth of the Son of God with prayers, music, Parrandas and typical food was something unforgettable.

Now days, we always try to make everything perfect, the gifts, the dinner, the family, that we don’t forget anything, so that December 25th can be unforgettable. But then we stop and wonder, where is the Child of God in all these celebrations.  Are we forgetting that Christmas helps us to find ourselves in the manger with that Baby Jesus, beautiful, poor, humble and that everything should focus on His birth?A moment is enough to sit in front of the manger and walk, slowly in deep meditation, as did San Francis in 1223 in his first manger in Greccio, a poor small town between Rome and Assisi. Of course, we cannot compare that live Nativity that San Francis  made that year with the one we built at St. Mary’s, but what it does have in common is that we put our hearts into it giving it the true meaning of Christmas, a heart deeply attached to that of the little Jesus that is born to enrich our soul.

For the community of St. Mary’s this is a special moment, Christmas is a wonderful time of the year and should always be a time of profound reflection, of festivity and unity, family and sharing, but above all remembering that Christmas is the time in which Jesus tells us, "here I am to be born in your heart, I am at the door calling and asking to enter" open your heart to Christ and let Christmas be Christ and Christ be your Christmas.

Navidad es el tiempo especial del año en el que nos unimos frente al Niño Dios

Navidad es el tiempo especial del año en el que nos unimos frente al Niño Dios y le suplicamos que bendiga y proteja nuestras familias", tenia 6 años de edad cuando mi mama me explico el sentido de la celebración de la navidad y desde ese momento nunca olvido que la Navidad es Cristo y Cristo es la Navidad.  Para esta época en mi país Puerto Rico íbamos a las misas de aguinaldo y no podían faltar los pesebres y la alegría de compartir como pueblo el nacimiento del Hijo de Dios con oraciones, música,  parrandas y comida típica era algo inolvidable.  Hoy en día siempre tratamos de que todo sea perfecto, los regalos, la cena, la familia, que no se nos olvide nada para que el 25 de diciembre sea inolvidable, pero luego pensamos y nos preguntamos donde esta el Niño Dios en toda esta celebración, acaso nos estamos olvidando que la navidad nos ayuda a encontrarnos en el pesebre con ese bebe, hermoso, pobre, humilde y que todo debe centrarse en su nacimiento.  Esta Navidad fue muy especial para nosotros aquí en la Parroquia Santa María en Bridgeport, ademas de que toda la comunidad sigue uniéndose y fortaleciéndose espiritualmente, sus talentos fueron demostrados a otro nivel.  Nuestros parroquianos demostraron que todo es posible si nos unimos en paz y armonía para crear algo maravilloso.  Por supuesto les estoy hablando del Belén, pesebre o nacimiento de este año.  La obra fue echa con mucho talento y mucho esfuerzo, horas y horas que vieron sus frutos en tan espectacular escena del nacimiento de Nuestro Señor y Maestro.  Un momento basta para sentarnos frente a el pesebre y caminar poco a poco en la meditación profunda, así como lo hizo San Francisco en el 1223 en el primer pesebre en Greccio, una pequeña población situada entre Roma y Asís muy pobre.  Por supuesto que no podemos comparar esa obra en vivo que hizo San Francisco ese año con el que construimos aquí, pero si tienen algo en común y que es el verdadero sentido de la navidad le pusimos el corazón, un corazón profundamente unido al del niñito Jesús que nace para enriquecernos el alma.

Para nosotros la comunidad de Santa María este es un momento especial, la navidad es maravillosa y siempre debe ser un momento de reflexión y profundidad, de festividad y unidad, de familia y de compartir, pero ante todo recordemos que la navidad es el momento en el que el Jesús nos dice, "aquí estoy para nacer en tu corazón, estoy a la puerta llamando y pidiendo entrar" ábrele tu corazón a Cristo y deja que la navidad sea de Cristo y Cristo sea tu Navidad.

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School spreads Christmas cheer with the help of some famous friends
| December 22, 2016


GREENWICH—Greenwich Catholic School hosted its yearly Christmas concert last night with special guests The Alternate Routes and emcee “Coach” Chris Rodriguez of 107.1 The Peak.

An annual tradition, the Christmas show features band, strings, and vocal performances by each grade as well as a Kindergarten Nativity play.

Rodriguez, a 1997 graduate of GCS, welcomed the audience by reminiscing about his time at GCS by saying, “I’m honored to be back here twenty years later. I made life-long friends at this school and had many victories here on this basketball court.” He continued, “Upon hearing I was going to be at GCS for the evening, my parents both said, ‘Sending you to that school was still the best decision we ever made.’”

Following a spirited rendition of “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” by GCS 8th graders, Rodriguez introduced Chris Warren and Eric Donnelly, founders of the indie-rock band The Alternate Routes. Connecticut natives, Warren and Donnelly met as students at Fairfield University. The Alternate Routes rose to fame in 2013 following the release of “Nothing More,” a song they composed for the non-profit organization Newtown Kindness whose mission is to celebrate, reward and recognize acts of kindness by children.

The band found their way to GCS via Pete Cosenza, P’16, 18, a senior executive at Columbia Records. Cosenza recalls, “When ‘Nothing More’ was released, my wife, Jenni, played the song for Principal Patrice Kopas, who liked it so much she played it a few times during the GCS morning announcements.”  Inspired by the students’ enthusiasm about the song and its positive message, GCS music teacher Tatyana Novikova added “Nothing More” to the rotation of music sung during all school masses.
“After a few conversations with Mrs. Kopas and Mrs. Novikova, we decided to invite The Alternate Routes to perform at the 2016 GCS Christmas Concert,” explained Cosenza.  He went on to say, “Coach Chris has played music from the band on his show. So, Coach heard about them performing at the GCS Christmas show this year, and as a GCS grad himself, he was very excited for them and the school.”

In addition to performing their hit with the 7th Graders, The Alternate Routes played guitar during other songs, and closed out the evening with a whole-school sing-a-long to “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

“Having Coach and The Alternate Routes at our Christmas show was something really special,” Principal Kopas said. “It’s always a wonderful night, but having the opportunity to perform with the musicians who wrote ‘Nothing More’ is an experience our kids will never forget. A truly beautiful Christmas gift!”

Christmas crèche on the Green
| December 21, 2016


MONROE—Braving the rain members of St. John XXIII Council 5987 of the Knights of Columbus Monroe joined by St. Jude parishioners blessed the council’s Creche that was placed on the Monroe town green.

Council Chaplain Msgr. Dariusz Zielonka, pastor of St. Jude, performed the blessing. The ceremony also included the singing of Christmas carols led by members of St. Jude’s music ministry and remarks by Monroe’s State Representative JP Sredzenski. The Creche will be on the green until  December 31.

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St. Nicholas Boutique warms the heart
| December 21, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Brightly wrapped toys. Infants’ footsies. Warm coats, blankets, hats and mittens. Everything a parent could want to give their child.

In families being helped by social service agencies like Catholic Charities, games, toys or a warm hat would be out of the question if it weren’t for the St. Nicholas Boutique held by Catholic Charities in the Catholic Center every year. During the day’s “shopping,” social workers drop in with the names, needs and wish lists of the families they serve. Areas within a large room are staged with age-appropriate toys and much-needed additional items like diapers for newborns and toddlers.

The donations have come from a number of school drives and volunteer agencies, most notably Fairfield Prep, Al’s Angels, the Knights of Columbus, and Zumiez clothing store.

“Zumiez donated and delivered three entire pallets of warm clothing,” says Amy Zajak, director of media marketing for Catholic Charities, who takes charge of the boutique each year. “I can’t count the number of trips we took to round up all the items the boys and Prep collected. And a group of volunteers from Notre Dame High School set up the whole room.” When the teenagers were done setting up, the tables of donations reached as high as their shoulders.

After the St. Nicholas Boutique has concluded, any remaining items will be sent to the Department of Children and Families for foster children and newly adoptive families.

The Knights of Columbus will hold another statewide collection for diapers in February, after the January March for Life.

Our Lady of Fatima choir director leads the Bridgeport Diocesan Youth Choir
| December 20, 2016 • by Stephanie Kim from


WILTON—When Mary Higgins directs the Bridgeport Diocesan Youth Choir, one goal takes priority over the others.

It’s not for the choir to deliver a flawless performance, but for all members to carry joy in every note that they sing. “This is not about being perfect. This is not about adjudication,” the Wilton woman said. “This is about the glory of God.”

Higgins was tapped by Bishop Frank Joseph Caggiano to lead the Bridgeport Diocesan Youth Choir, shortly after it was formed in 2015. Caggiano created the choir to give new life to the Catholic Church and to engage younger members of the Bridgeport Diocese, which includes more than 460,000 registered Catholics in Fairfield County and represents 45 percent of the total state population.

And in just a year, the choir has grown to a group of 75 middle and high school diocese members from more than 32 parishes.

“The young choir members are the beginning of the renewal that we’ve been praying for,” Caggiano said. “Mary is an amazing coach and mentor to our young people. She brings a passion for teaching, a deep faith, and a commitment to music as a formative experience in the life of young people.”

“We're very fortunate to have her as our inaugural choir director,” he added.

For Higgins, the director position could not have been “more perfectly designed” for someone like her, given her Catholic background and extensive career as a singer, teacher and conductor.

She attended Our Lady of Fatima School and Church in Wilton throughout her childhood and adolescent years, received a full ride to Northwestern University’s Music Education and Voice programs, won the Kahn Career Entry Award at the end of her two-year master’s of voice and opera program at Boston University, has shared the stage with the likes of Luciano Pavarotti, John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra and other renowned performers and symphonies, and has directed the choir at Our Lady of Fatima Church for 17 years.

“Bottom line for me, it combined the three things I love most,” Higgins said, “young people, my faith and music.”

These passions and values were instilled in her by her parents, who lived out their faith in and out of the house, she said.

Her dad, who passed away 10 years ago, taught English in the Bronx, N.Y., for 36 years, and would open the school early in the morning so kids could play basketball and have something to eat. He would open the school at night, too, for kids who didn’t have a home to go to.

Her mother was also an educator and worked at the Old Lady of Fatima School in Wilton for 36 years. She started the first kindergarten class, created an all-school musical and served as the school’s principal for 17 years.

“I’m used to being from a family of people who give a lot and I don’t know how to be any other way,” Higgins said.

In her role as the director of the Bridgeport Diocesan Youth Choir, Higgins said she gives back by making sure that every middle or high school member who wants to join the choir is welcomed.

“I do everything I can to make sure that every kid who wants to be apart of it is a part of it,” she said. “I work around every obstacle that they have, every after-school commitment, their jobs. I teach this six times a week so kids can go to any rehearsal they want all over the diocese.”

Higgins also juggles a few other jobs on the side, as a real estate agent for William Pitt Sotheby’s and the director of the choir the Treblemakers, an all-female vocal ensemble in Wilton, for 17 years.

But none of these positions feel like actual work, she said—especially her job as the director of the Bridgeport Diocesan Youth Choir.

“I say to myself every morning I wake up, how fortunate I am to be one of those people who can honestly say I do what I love to do every day of my life,” she said. “It’s a joy for me and an honor to work with these kids. I get so much out of it. I put my entire heart into it and they don’t let me down.”

Higgins is currently wrapping up preparations for the annual Arise and Shine Christmas Concert.

Last year’s Christmas concert filled the Norwalk Concert Hall and this year’s was at the Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport on Sunday, with a set of 17 songs and few scriptural readings in four different languages.

“It’s absolutely other worldly. It’s sheer joy for me,” Higgins said. “I think once the kids experience this concert, I think they’re changed forever too.”

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Sacred Heart University acquires GE headquarters
| December 20, 2016


FAIRFIELD—A Christmas tree lighting became the first “official” ceremony following the agreement of Sacred Heart University to purchase the former 66-acre General Electric global headquarters in Fairfield.

SACRED HEART UNIVERSITY invited area residents to join members of the SHU community at a tree lighting on December 7 on the grounds of the former GE global headquarters and future West Campus of the University. “One of the first things we heard when news broke of the purchase—especially on social media—was that folks hoped we would continue the tradition of the tree,” said SHU President John J. Petillo. “We intended to do exactly that—in SHU style, of course.”

The purchase will support the university’s ongoing strategic expansion and development as a leading institution of higher education.

“This is a transformational moment in the history of Sacred Heart University,” said SHU President John J. Petillo. “With this property, SHU has a unique opportunity to contribute to education, research, healthcare and the community. It’s a oncein-a-lifetime opportunity for us, and it also reflects our long-standing relationship with GE that includes former GE CEO Jack Welch, for whom our College of Business is named.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McGivney “Christmas Store” is all about earning and giving
| December 19, 2016


BRIDGEPORT-- The McGivney Center’s Annual Christmas Store event will be held on Wednesday December 21 from 3:30 – 5:30 at the McGivney Center, 338 Stillman Street, Bridgeport, CT.

>> Download the flyer here <<

“Our Annual Christmas Store is a highly anticipated event that helps children experience the rewards of earning and giving. Each child earns points for good grades, positive conduct, and good citizenship,” said Terry O’Connor, Executive Director

O’Connor said the young people can “spend” their points at the Christmas Store to buy gifts for everyone in their households – including themselves. Last year, over 600 gifts were provided for children and their families.

Among the donated items the young shoppers will find at the Christmas Store are handbags, sunglasses, wallets, watches; gift Certificates to local clothing and grocery stores; winter clothing (sweaters, hats, mittens, gloves, scarves); Sporting Apparel; electronic services; arts & crafts; building sets and blocks; games and puzzles; bikes, scooters, skateboards; picture frames; infant toys;headphones; wrapping paper, clear tape, bows; and Dolls (Action Figures, Barbie’s)

“McGivney is meeting the needs of hundreds of youth, community residents and partnering organizations each month. The need to keep our youth engaged through positive opportunities is as imperative today as it was when we opened twenty three years ago,” he said.

Site Address: 338 Stillman Street, Bridgeport, CT 06608 Mailing Address: P.O. Box 5220, Bridgeport, CT 06610.

If you are interested in volunteering or making a donation at the Christmas Store, please contact us at (203) 333-2789


  • Gift items for dads (cologne, shaving kits)
  • Sports items (Basketballs, jump ropes, footballs, wallets, tool sets, soccer balls, baseball mitts, etc)
  • Gift items for moms (jewelry, perfume
  • Action figures & playsets
  • Gift Certificates to local clothing and grocery stores
  • Winter clothing (sweaters, hats, mittens, gloves, scarves)
  • Sporting Apparel (NFL, NBA, NCAA, etc.)
  • Electronic Devices
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Building sets and blocks
  • Games and puzzles
  • Bikes, scooters, skateboards
  • Picture frames
  • Infant toys
  • Headphones
  • Wrapping paper, clear tape, bows
  • Dolls (Action Figures, Barbies)

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

Religion on the Line
| December 19, 2016


< Click the player on the left to listen

NEW YORK— On Gaudete Sunday, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano was the guest on "Religion on the Line," the long-running WABC-Radio program hosted by Rabbi Joseph Potasnik and Deacon Kevin McCormack of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

In the conversation the bishop discussed Advent and preparations for the joy of Christmas, and also discussed many initiatives underway in the Diocese of Bridgeport. "Community has to be credible," the bishops says of efforts underway to renew the Diocese of Bridgeport and the Church. "Start with the works of charity and mercy, and show people that we live what we believe." The Bishop also discusses engaging youth and other topics.

Diocesan Youth Choir Inspires in Joyous Christmas Concert
| December 19, 2016


BRIDGEPORT— At the end of a weekend that went from a snowstorm to dense fog, the 75-member Diocesan Youth Choir lit up the Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport with it second annual "Arise and Shine" Christmas Concert.

More than 900 turned out on Sunday evening for a joyous and spirited performance of Christmas songs across cultures and throughout the ages.

A garland of white Christmas lights outlined the length of the stage, while images of large snowflakes where projected on the walls and ceilings. The choir, outfitted in its white robes with blue trim, sang in front of an alpine backdrop of snow and evergreens.

After a nearly ninety minute concert without intermission the choir received a standing ovation with many proud parents calling out the names of choir members, who returned the applause from the stage.

“Each of us was given a great gift tonight by these young women and men,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, who was the inspiration behind the choir as a way of engaging young people in the Church and affirming their faith.

“At a time that has become cold and harsh, this is what the world is meant to be,” said the Bishop gesturing to the choir. “You’ve given me great hope and encouragement.”

Beginning with “Arise, Arise and Shine” and concluding with the audience joining in “Dark is the Silent Night,” the choir, under the direction of Mary Bozzuti Higgins of Wilton, held the audience with the beauty of its voices and the richness of the Christmas program.

The choir seemed particularly effective on a “Celtic Christmas Lullaby,” “Believe,” and a contemporary arrangement of “Amen, Tell It on the Mountain,” which inspired the audience.

This year’s program introduced a few surprises including Soloist Ms. Adrienne Reedy, a well-known Gospel recording artist, who, backed by the full choir, brought down the house with her version of “Do You Hear What I Hear? and “Christmas Glory, Halleluiah.”

In between grouping of songs, choir members stepped forward to read passages from the nativity in Vietnamese, Spanish, Ibo (Nigerian) and English, reflecting the diversity of its members.

The choir’s performance was supported by a gifted ensemble of local musicians including Clay Zambo on piano; Jessica Raposo, flute; Dr. Ralph Kirmser, Oboe; Nick Loafman, Trumpet; and percussionist Tom Foote, who energized the choir and the audience with solo drumming that led the traditional Zulu hymn, “Siyahamba.”

Choir director Mary Bozzuti Higgins was presented a bouquet of red and white roses from for her leadership in forming and preparing the choir through the weekly rehearsals held throughout the diocese over the past year. The choir has also sung a diocesan liturgies and special events.

Higgins said she was proud of the entire choir, grateful for the support of parents and for the college freshman who returned from their first semester to join and concert and serve as mentors to the younger members.

Members of the newly formed Catholic Service Corps served as ushers for the evening.

For more information on the Diocesan Youth Choir and the new St. Augustine Guild to support its work, visit the diocesan website:

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

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
| December 17, 2016


BRIDGEPORT— The December 16 "Week in Review" shows the diocese getting ready for Christmas in a joyful, active way.

Social Media Leader John Grosso takes us on tour beginning with the St. Ann School Nativity Pageant.

He also makes stops with Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at the Special Needs Mass held at St. Catherine Center for Special Needs in Fairfield. And what could be better preparation for Christmas than the Diocesan Youth Choir preparing for its annual Christmas Concert this Sunday, 6 pm at the Klein Memorial in Bridgeport. Enjoy!

Operation Christmas Child at St. Aloysius School
| December 16, 2016


NEW CANAAN-- As part of Operation Christmas Child, St. Aloysius School students, parents and staff gathered together recently in the school gymnasium to fill over 130 Christmas gift boxes to be delivered to children around the world.

Savannah Leone (left) and Caera Cope on the right.

Students, including the youngest children working alongside their Upper School Buddies, selected gift items from tables overflowing with generous family donations.

The items ranged from toys, games, and crafts, to school supplies and basic personal necessities. For many of the gift-box recipients, most of whom are located in some of the hardest-to-reach countries in the world, the goody-filled shoebox will be the first gift they have ever received.

This ministry project is part of the Samaritan’s Purse International Relief Organizations, an organization that serves to benefit others around the world in Jesus’ name. St. Aloysius School is pleased to support their mission of faith and community service, a key aspect shared by our school. Additionally, the long-standing Buddy program at St. Aloysius School contributes to that mission as it pairs the youngest students with upper school mentors, further strengthening the spirit of shared service in the school community.

St. Aloysius School serves students in Kindergarten through eighth grade. This Blue Ribbon School of Excellence fosters academic excellence and the spirit of service in a faith-filled environment. The school has a rolling applications process, but is currently accepting Kindergarten applications for the 2017-2018 school year. Call 203-966-0786 for more information.

Attorneys bring warmth for youngsters
| December 15, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—For their winter project, members of the St. Thomas More Society visited the Missionaries of Charity in Bridgeport on December 13. The St. Thomas More Society is an association of Catholic attorneys, judges, legislators and other legal professionals. Their goal is to strengthen the union of Catholics in the legal field and to encourage collaboration and service to the community.

In preparation for their visit, the Sisters had given Attorney Lee DeFusco, a member of Christ the King Parish in Trumbull, a list of school-aged children who needed winter jackets. Each member chose a child by name, and was given his or her age and jacket size.

The Missionaries of Charity serve the “poorest of the poor,” regardless of their faith. In addition to warm jackets, many of the members brought supplies for the Sisters’ food pantry, everything from rice and beans to peanut butter and jelly, along with necessities like soap and diapers.

“The generosity of our members is remarkable” said Attorney DeFusco.

Reception of sacraments highlights Special Needs Mass
| December 15, 2016


FAIRFIELD—The third Sunday in Advent, known as Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday, was fully experienced by the congregation at the annual Mass to celebrate people with disabilities on December 11. This Mass is hosted at Holy Cross Church by St. Catherine Center for Special Needs in Fairfield.

It has been customary at this Mass to offer the opportunity for individuals to receive one or more Sacraments of Initiation with preparation that has taken place outside the typical faith formation program. Gail Mikolsky, director of parish and community outreach for the center, worked with directors of religious education throughout the diocese to coordinate preparation and participation. This year, the community outreach faith formation worked with 19 young people from 13 different parishes and St. Catherine Center who had prepared to receive the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation or First Holy Communion.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, joined by Msgr. Tom Powers, vicar general for the diocese, celebrated Mass with a church filled with family members of the 19 young people, St. Catherine Center board members and staff, Knights of Columbus Honor Guard and friends of St. Catherine Center.

Bishop Caggiano, in his homily, made the distinction between happiness and joy. “The third Sunday in Advent is about joy and encouragement,” said Bishop Caggiano. “Joy is a lasting feeling that these young people today will have for the rest of their lives. Today we are witness to the healing power of Jesus and the message of joy and hopefulness,” he concluded.

“This annual Mass reminds us that all are welcomed in our Church,” commented Helen Burland, executive director of the center. “Each of us must work to encourage the full participation of all people in the life of our parishes and the diocese.”
A mom of a First Communion recipient shared, “I never expected this to be possible. My whole family is rejoicing together.”

(St. Catherine Center for Special Needs is located at 760 Tahmore Drive, Fairfield. For more information, call 203.540.5381 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

Pope: ‘Nativity Scene and Tree Form a Message of Hope and Love’
| December 13, 2016 • by Hannah Brockhaus/CNA/EWTN News


VATICAN CITY—As Christmas approaches, the Nativity scenes found in churches and homes around the world bid us to make room for Jesus, both in our lives and in society, Pope Francis said shortly before the lighting of the Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Square on Friday.

Lighting of the Christmas tree and unveiling of crèche took place
in St. Peter’s Square on December 9.

On December 9, a massive 82-foot tree from the Dolomites was lit in St. Peter’s Square, next to the nearly life-size Nativity scene, donated to the Vatican by the Archdiocese of Malta and designed by local artists.

An artist from the island of Gozo, named Manwel Gretch, created the sketch chosen for the Nativity, which depicts the Maltese countryside. The 17 characters in the Nativity, animals excluded, are dressed in typical Maltese clothing and holding tools and instruments.

The Nativity scenes found “in churches, in homes and in many public places are an invitation to make room in our lives and society for God, hidden in the face of so many people who are in conditions of hardship, poverty and tribulation,” the Pope said during a meeting with the artist of the scene and a delegation from Malta and Trentino.

In his speech, the Pope referred to the presence in the scene of the traditional “Cross of Malta” and typical Maltese archipelago boat, representing not only the island’s tradition, fishing and life, but also the reality faced by thousands of migrants when risking their lives to sail in makeshift boats to Italy.

Their experiences can be compared to that of the Child Jesus, Francis noted, who didn’t have a place to sleep at his birth and soon after had to flee to Egypt with his parents to escape the threat of Herod.

The many people who “will visit this Nativity scene,” he said, “will be invited to rediscover the symbolic value, which is a message of fraternity, of sharing, of welcome and solidarity.”

“The Nativity scene and the tree thus form a message of hope and love and help to create a favorable Christmas spirit to live with faith the mystery of the birth of the Redeemer,” the Pope said.

God “came to earth in simplicity and meekness. Let us be drawn, with the intention of children, in front of the manger, because that is where we understand the goodness of God and contemplate his mercy, which was made human flesh in order to soften our gaze.”

Bishop reflects on power of hope at Sandy Hook Memorial
| December 11, 2016


Watch: Dedication and Blessing of the Sandy Hook Shrine, December 11th, 2016 at ST. Margaret Shrine (36 minutes)

BRIDGEPORT—“Even on the darkest days in our life, there is hope,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said to almost 400 who gathered at St. Margaret Shrine this morning for Mass and the dedication of the Sandy Hook Memorial, just days before the 4th anniversary of the shootings.

“Four years ago we experienced a day of deep darkness. The souls of so many were challenged so deeply. You and I and the whole nation were in shock,” the bishop said of the Sandy Hooking shootings that took the lives of 20 first graders and six teachers in Newtown.

On a bitter cold and bright morning, congregants processed out of the Church to a hillside site on the Shrine grounds where the new memorial was unveiled and blessed by the bishop.

In his homily for the Gaudete Sunday Mass, the bishop said that hope and joy are more reliable than happiness in describing the human condition. He said that while people may enjoy happiness at times, their lives inevitably are touched pain and suffering.

“No matter how deep the pain, there is a gift that no one can take from us: hope is born in the power of the love of God. No matter how profound the loss, his love can pierce through the pain.”

Speaking to those who filled the small wooden chapel and also participated in the Mass through live streaming in the lower level chapel, the bishop said, “We come to remember the Newtown tragedy not as people look at history or even as a community resolved to love one another, but as a people of hope.

Bishop Caggiano described First Responders as “angels of mercy” during human tragedy, and also said that Msgr. Robert Weiss, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish, provided extraordinary and compassionate leadership when people most needed hope.

Music was provided by members of the Italian Choir and the Youth Choir of St. Margaret Shine. Deacon Don Foust, Shrine administrator, joined Bishop Caggiano and priests around the altar.

The Mass and dedication ceremony reunited some of those who were there on the day of one of the worst mass shootings in U. S. history and also connected two faith communities within the diocese.

Newtown Police Chief James Viadero, a 23-year resident of the town, and Bridgeport Police Chief A. J. Perez attending the Mass and the dedication.

Msgr. Robert Weiss’s voice waivered as he acknowledged Fr. Luke Suarez and noted that the young parochial vicar has “stood by my side” in the Sandy Hook Firehouse before he had to tell parents that their children had died.

He said that he and the parents were “overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity” they received from people across the nation, and that he was grateful that during the national tragedy his parish was able “to give a powerful face of what faith can be in a tragedy.”

“No one in the firehouse that day asked, ‘Why did god do this,’ he said. “They knew it was evil, but they also believed that God is love and life.” A total of eight children from St. Rose died in the shooting on December 14, 2012 and were buried at St. Rose the following week.

In the dedication ceremony Senator Richard Blumenthal, who traveled to Newtown immediately after learning of the shootings and spent of the day consoling parents and families, said that St. Rose of Lima Parish inspired the entire nation.

Remembering a day of “unspeakable pain, grief and tragedy,” the U.S. Senators said he also experienced the “indescribable warmth and grace within the church.”

“The whole world was watching and they saw something larger than themselves, a tremendous courage, strength and faith and a generosity of spirit,” he said.

Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim said that everyone remembers where they were that day and they also remember the courage and faith of the parish. He presented Bishop Caggiano with a “recognition” from the city, that said, “Twenty tiny hearts and six heroes became twenty-six angels.”

Construction for the Sandy Hook Memorial began last November under the leadership of Armando Palumbo who created the painting of Jesus and the children.

The mural is set in a brick and cement surround, which many volunteers helped to construct.

The inscription is taken from the Gospel of Matthew (19:14), “Let the little children come to me. Do not hinder them for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as they.”

The granite engraving at the base of the memorial reads: "In Loving Memory of the 26 Innocent Lives Taken in Newton, CT, December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School."

The memorial was constructed through a gift from the John DiMarco family, owners of Luigi’s Pastry and built b Brown Monument and Ned Steinmetz. The project was also supported by UNICO Bridgeport Chapter, friends and co-workers.

St. Margaret Shrine is a diocesan shrine located in the North End of Bridgeport. It is open to all who wish to visit, pray and enjoy the beautiful outdoor shrines as well as the daily celebration of Mass in the chapel. The outdoors shrine and grottoes are open throughout the year. The grounds also include a St. Anthony Chapel, an All Saints Chapel, and a Veterans Memorial.

Saint Margaret's Shrine is located at 2523 Park Ave. Bridgeport, CT 06604-1402. Phone: (203) 333-9627 Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address); Website:

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Catholic Service Corps Reaches Out to “Al’s Angels"
| December 11, 2016


WESTPORT— Members of the newly formed Catholic Service Corps (CSC) were back in action yesterday to help out Al’s Angels with their Holiday Meal Assembly as part of their Christmas food basket preparations.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano stopped by to thank members of the Fairfield Prep and Sacred Heart University CSC Chapters at they helped to fill 1,600 bins for families who will be served over the holidays by Al’s Angels. He thanked the young people for their service to others.

In November, they helped Al’s Angels prepare Thanksgiving baskets for families in the tri-state area who are dealing with the ravages of cancer or are suffering severe financial hardship. “We joined over 500 other volunteers preparing these baskets and getting them ready for delivery throughout our area,” said Michelle Smith, CSC coordinator. Each activity begins in prayer and ends in brief reflection.

The newly formed Catholic Service Corps kicked off in September with over 200 youth volunteers from the twelve newly formed Chapters participating in the Inaugural Day of Service throughout lower Fairfield County. For more information on CSC, visit the Catholic Service Corp on Facebook.

Al’s Angels was founded in 2004 by Al DiGuido, CEO and founder of Zeta Interactive, a full-service interactive marketing companybased in New York City. Al has been long recognized as one of the direct response industry’s premier innovators and a pioneer in e-mail communications. He has more than 20 years of marketing, sales, management, and operations expertise.

For years Al served as a board member for numerous charities. Having seen the good work that these organizations accomplished, Al decided to dedicate even more of his time to helping children and families in need. He founded Al’s Angels with the mission of providing moments of joy and comfort to families that are challenged by childhood cancer, rare blood diseases, AIDS, domestic violence and financial hardship.

Through hard work, an amazing group of volunteers, and tremendous generosity, today Al’s Angels is able to help thousands of children in the tri-state area. Now thru an intimate partnership with the Catholic Health Association of India; the work of Al’s Angels is providing children in dire need of vital and lifesaving medical treatment with hope and support. As support for Al’s Angels grows, we look for partners to help in expanding our loving reach to children around our country and the world.

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or visit the photo gallery (photos provided by Michelle Smith)

Seminarians sing the season
| December 10, 2016


STAMFORD—Diocesan seminarians at St. John Fisher Seminary gathered recently with their families and friends of the seminary to host their Annual Christmas Concert, with the assistance of the Serra Club of the Diocese of Bridgeport. 

With the help of Thomas Marino and David Harvey, the seminarians led the congregation of about 150 people through song, preparing for the coming of the Lord at Christmas in this yearly tradition.

Beginning with “Lo He Comes With Clouds Descending,” the seminarians reminded all present of the Lord’s advent “In the Bleak Midwinter.” In order to honor Our Lady, the Mother of Christ, “Ave Maria” and “Maria Walks Amid the Thorns” were performed as well. A light reception followed the concert, during which the seminarians, their families, and other friends were able to celebrate the Advent season together.

Twenty-five seminarians are preparing for the priesthood in the Diocese of Bridgeport. St. John Fisher Seminary is located on Newfield Avenue in Stamford. For information on discerning a vocation, visit:

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

Around the Diocese
| December 09, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—This week's Around the Diocese begins in Stamford where young professionals met on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception for the Young Adult Group Mass at the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist as part of the Connected Catholics ministry.

From there we move to St. Leo Parish where volunteers collected more than 800 gifts for the poor and needy. Many thanks to them and to all those who are getting in the Christmas spirit around the diocese through prayer, preparation and service to others.

We have Mary's Intercession to help us
| December 09, 2016


Read Bishop Caggiano's reflection on Our Lady

Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We remember the unique grace received by Mary at her birth- to be conceived without original sin- so as to become the new Eve through which the Savior of the world could enter into our world and become our Redeemer and Savior.

By receiving this extraordinary grace, Our Lady was offered in advance a share in the grace offered to creation in the Lord’s Death and Resurrection. This unique offering broke the chain of sin that comes to us from our original parents’ sin and allowed the dawn of the Incarnation into our fallen world. We also celebrate the fact that Our Lady fully cooperated with the grace she received at her birth and remained sinless throughout her entire life.

In light of the uniqueness of this grace (given only to Mary), we may be tempted to ask; what does the Immaculate Conception have to do with me, a fallen sinner? The answer is everything!

For we cannot forget that each of us are temples of the Holy Spirit, in whom dwells the life of God. While it is true that we were born with original sin and still labor under its effects, the grace of Baptism has forgiven original sin in us and gives us the strength to combat its effects in our daily lives. This means that we are capable to live authentic lives of holiness, through the power of the Holy Spirit, even if we sometimes sin. Today’s feast reminds is that we can and must strive to imitate the holiness that Mary lived perfectly, one day at a time, even if we do so imperfectly. Further, we have Mary’s intercession to help us in our moments of struggle and temptation. As such, she serves as our true spiritual mother, guiding and protecting us on our journey one day to be united with her and her beloved Son in heaven.

Today let us pray, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.”

St. Leo's Annual "Wish" Tree
| December 09, 2016


STAMFORD—After many weeks of collecting donations, packaging presents, and volunteering at Mass, the parishioners of St. Leo Parish delivered over 800 Christmas gifts and hundreds of toiletries to eight different organizations throughout the Stamford area. The efforts were part of the parish’s annual Wish Tree initiative, and was a tremendous success this year.

Fr. Grosso, pastor of St. Leo Parish, was very encouraged by the event, sharing that the “Wish Tree” is growing- there were 100 more gifts donated this year, a true testament to the giving spirit of the community and of the hard work of those who volunteered.

Mary shows what good comes from wholehearted 'yes' to God, pope says
| December 09, 2016 • by Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service


Also: click here to read Bishop Caggiano's reflection on Our Lady
VATICAN CITY-Although she was just a humble young woman from a small town, Mary's total "yes" to God was "the most important 'yes' of history" and overturned Adam and Eve's prideful "no," which unleashed sin into the world, Pope Francis said.

"With generosity and trust like Mary, may each of us say this personal 'yes' to God today," Pope Francis prayed Dec. 8 as he recited the Angelus prayer with visitors in St. Peter's Square on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Even when they do not say "no" to God, human beings can be experts in saying, "yes, but ..." to God, the pope said.

"To avoid saying 'no' outright to God, we say, 'Sorry, but I can't,' 'Not today, but maybe tomorrow,' 'Tomorrow I will be better, tomorrow I will pray, I'll do good tomorrow,'" he said. But in responding that way, "we close the door to what is good and evil profits."

Nevertheless, Pope Francis said, God keeps trying to reach out and save us. And through the "yes" of Mary, he became human, "exactly like us except for one thing, that 'no,' that sin. This is why he chose Mary, the only creature without sin, immaculate."

In the late afternoon, the pope made his traditional visit to a statue of Mary erected in the center of Rome, near the Spanish Steps, to celebrate the official church recognition that Mary was conceived without sin.

Thousands of Romans and tourists crowded around the statue where people had been laying flowers all day. Early Dec. 8, Rome firefighters with a truck and ladder hung a wreath of white flowers from the outstretched arms of the statue.

Pope Francis composed a prayer to Mary for the occasion and read it, standing under the statue's watchful eyes.

He offered special prayers for children who have been abandoned and are exposed to exploitation, for all families who give life and contribute to society, often in hidden ways, and especially for those who are underemployed or unemployed.

"We need your immaculate gaze," he told Mary, in order to "rediscover the ability to look at people and things with respect and recognition and without selfish interests and hypocrisy."

"We need your immaculate heart to love unconditionally, without any aim besides the good of the other, with simplicity and sincerity, renouncing masks and ploys," he said.

"We need your immaculate hands to caress with tenderness, to touch the flesh of Jesus in our brothers and sisters who are poor, sick, despised, to help up those who have fallen and steady those who waver."

"We need your immaculate feet to set out to meet those who cannot take the first step, to walk along the paths of those who are lost, to go and find those who are alone," he prayed.

Tree Lighting Brings Holiday Joy
| December 06, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—Christmas came to St. Vincent’s on November 30 as the 18 foot Christmas tree received its  crowning touch of the Snow White Angel during the 14th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting  held in the lobby.

President/CEO Vince Caponi  welcomed the gathering of employees and visitors and introduced young soloist Kiara Simmons, a senior at Fairchild Wheeler Magnet School in Bridgeport, who sang O Holy Night, and perennial favorites, Trumbull’s Hillcrest Middle School Chorus, led by Margaret Winters, who performed a selection of carols and holiday songs.

Santa, Mrs. Claus, and  Jingles and Jangles the elves (who strongly resembled St. Vincent’s staff members Jose Ramon, Maureen Parmelee, Nicole Ashe and Lindsay Knauf),  made an appearance distributing candy canes, while the Grinch (Lou Moretti) and his “reindeer” Cesar were unsuccessful in stopping the Christmas cheer from spreading to a very large crowd. “Alberta Spruce” the Christmas Tree (Dee Ashe) foiled the Grinch’s efforts by stealing the show as she danced with abandon  to Hillcrest’s rendition of “O Christmas Tree.”

But of course the most magical moment came as Employee of the Year Dolores Miele, a popular 22-year veteran of St. Vincent’s got a “lift” to the top of the tree compliments of Engineering’s Dan Rodriguez to put on the finishing touch, while the light switch was flipped to illuminate it and create a truly beautiful sight. Vince Caponi described Dolores as “a dynamo who has served not only as executive assistant to four presidents but as their colleague and confidant.” She attends St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church in Bridgeport.

Thanks go to Chief Mission Integration Officer Bill Hoey and Mission Services Coordinator Lucinda Ames for coordinating the event with help from Deb Botticelli of Pastoral Care; Kiara Simmons and Hillcrest Choraleers led by Margaret Winters; Dietary & Environmental for preparing refreshments and setting up; Andy Bess  and Steve Radziewicz for setting up and operating the sound system with support from Deb Guerra; “Engineering Elves” including Ray Figlar, Dan Rodriguez, Chris Silva, Izzy Marrero,  Andy Moore and his young assistant Ryan, Robert Macolino & their leader Tim Clarke who all set up tree and decorations; all the  volunteers who assisted, and especially, Jose Roman, Maureen Parmelee, Dee Ashe, Lou Moretti, Nicole Ashe and Lindsay Knauf for spreading holiday cheer.

| December 05, 2016


BRIDGEPORT—“Arise and Shine,” the annual Christmas Concert by the Diocesan Youth Choir is set for Sunday December 18, 6 pm at the Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport.

Under the direction of Mary Bozzuti-Higgins of Wilton, the 75-member choir will present a joyous program of Christmas songs and chants from different ages and cultures.
The choir will reprise some of last year’s favorites such as the “Arise and Shine,”  “Dark is the Silent Night,” and “Siyahamba,” as well as introduce some new Christmas music.
This year, the choir will be accompanied by noted area musicians Clay Zambo on piano; Jessica Raposo, flute; Dr. Ralph Kirmser, Oboe; Nick Loafman, Trumpet; and Tom Foote, Percussion
Special guest Ms. Adrienne Reedy, a well-known Gospel singer, will be featured in two selections, “Do You Hear What I Hear? and “Christmas Glory, Halleluiah!”
Selected readings will be read by choir members in Vietnamese, Spanish, Igbo and English.
The Diocese Youth Choir (C4Y) was formed in 2015 at the request of Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and in response to the recent diocesan Synod, which called for engaging and inspiring youth in the faith.  It includes youth from more than 35 parishes throughout Fairfield County. Last year’s Christmas concert inspired more than 1,000 people.
Ticket prices are $10, students, $15 adults. Purchase online at or by calling 800.424.0160.

Around the Diocese in 60 Seconds
| December 03, 2016


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

Night in a Box
| December 02, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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International Festival of Foods
| December 02, 2016


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

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

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Our Lady of Fatima welcomes new priest
| December 02, 2016 • by Caroline Wilson from


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

For additional media information please contact Dana Christos, Director of Strategic Marketing & Communications, at (203) 378-9378 ext. 306 or via email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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

Advent ceremony lights the Catholic Center
| November 30, 2016


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mater Ecclesiae Mosaic in Danbury
| November 28, 2016


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Racial healing requires working for justice
| November 23, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Sacred Heart University

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

For additional Sacred Heart University news, please visit

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


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

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(photos by Amy Mortensen and Brian Wallace)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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or visit the photo gallery
(photos by Amy Mortensen and Brian Wallace)

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


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

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or visit the photo gallery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For a full recap, visit the Synod website at

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The state of abortion in Connecticut
| November 17, 2016


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

Click to read full report

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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or visit the photo gallery (photos by Michelle Babyak)

Getting Ready for Winter
| November 10, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Celebration of Mother Frances Cabrini
| November 10, 2016


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

Click here to view the flyer

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

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


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

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

St. Maurice
358 Glenbrook Rd.
Stamford, CT 06906

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St. Aloysius
21 Cherry Street
New Canaan, CT 06840

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

St. Leo
24 Roxbury Road
Stamford, CT  06902

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

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

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

Sacred Heart of Jesus
46 Stone Street
Danbury, CT 06801

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

St. Thomas More
374 Middlesex Road
Darien, CT 06820

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trinity observes Pink Week
| November 08, 2016


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Click here to watch the Mass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The schedule for the day is as follows:

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

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

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

All are welcome to attend.

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

A Night of Healing and Hope
| November 03, 2016


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

Click to hear Bishop Caggian's reflection

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

Bishop inspires at All Souls Mass
| November 02, 2016


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

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

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

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

The entire Mass was stream lived via Facebook Live:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Catholic Schools Develop Strong Community
| October 28, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Regina Pacis Classical Catholic Academy thrives


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reverend Louis Dytkowski
| October 25, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for the obituary in the CT Post.

Bishop in the Holy Land
| October 23, 2016


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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

A Joyous Week Around the Diocese
| October 21, 2016


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


Click here for the registration form

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Immaculate High School Scholarship Fundraiser Breakfast
| October 19, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reversing the mission
| October 18, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Painting for a Purpose
| October 18, 2016


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

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

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

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

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