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Corpus Christi Procession in Nichols
| May 29, 2016


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TRUMBULL--“The Eucharist is not a symbol of Jesus. The Eucharist is not a reminder of Jesus. The Eucharist is not blessed bread,” Father Joseph Marcello told his congregation at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull. “The Eucharist is Jesus Christ himself, whole and entire.”



To bring alive to his parishioners the full meaning of the Eucharist, “a gift beyond our reckoning,” Father Marcello, St. Catherine’s pastor, arranged for an outdoor parish procession to honor the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.

On one of the most beautiful feast days of the year, the noon Mass at St. Catherine’s was filled with music, ablaze with candles, rich with incense. The notes of a trumpet announced the opening hymn, and the outstanding choir sang the Corpus Christi sequence a-capela.

The procession following Mass drew parishioners into the warmth of the May afternoon. Led by the choir, the procession with triumphant cross, candle-bearers, incense, and the brilliant monstrance overshadowed by a golden canopy circled the park-like grounds of St. Catherine’s campus. At the close of the observance, parishioners gave emotional thanks to Father Marcello for providing them with such a heart-filling proclamation of their faith.

Father Marcello, in his second year as pastor of St. Catherine’s, had chosen to hold the Corpus Christi procession “to publicly manifest our belief in the real presence of Christ.” As a young priest, he had participated in processions during his first assignment at St. Joseph Parish in Shelton, and later at Hispanic parishes in the diocese when he was priest-secretary to then-Bishop William E. Lori.

“We live in such a visual culture,” he noted. “A procession, with its candles, cassocks, special vestments and incense brings home to people that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Catholic faith.”

All that he does as pastor, Father Marcello said, has that same goal. “I want to lead people to Christ in the Eucharist. That’s what it means to be a priest.”


Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
| May 29, 2016 • by By Dr. Frank DeStefano


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Reading 1. Genesis 14: 18-20
Reading II. 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26
Gospel. Luke 9: 11b-17 (Loaves and Fishes).

The feast of the Body and Blood of Christ used to be called the feast of Corpus Christi, from the Latin words which literally mean the Body of Christ. The feast commemorates not just the Body of Christ but also the fact that it was given up or sacrificed for us. That's probably why each of the Mass readings features a priest who makes an offering to God.

The first reading goes back to the first book of the Old Testament, the Book of Genesis, where the mysterious priest-king, Melchizedek, offers up bread and wine to "God Most High." Although little else is known about Melchizedek, the early Fathers of the Church viewed him as a forerunner of Christ as both priest and king. At Mass if the priest uses the first Eucharistic prayer, he will compare our Eucharistic sacrifice with Melchizedek's.

The gospel is St. Luke's account of the miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fishes. This miracle, where Jesus provided food for the 5000, has also always been viewed as a precursor of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

Like many of the miracles of Jesus this one follows a standard format. Jesus is busy at his work of teaching and healing when a problem--a hungry crowd--is brought to his attention. At first He doesn't see what it has to do with Him, and tells his disciples to take care of it themselves. "Give them some food yourselves." When they confess their own inability, He takes over.

Then taking the five loaves and two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.

St. Luke concludes that "they all ate and were satisfied," and that plenty was left over.

Despite the fact that this miracle is the only one to appear in all four gospels, it is one of the most difficult for many people to accept. Today it is fashionable to offer a purely natural or sociological explanation.

Some think that people were shamed by the selfless sharing of Jesus, and proceeded to take food which they had hidden about their persons and share it with their neighbors.

That's one theory but I prefer to think that the God who is responsible for every grain of wheat that grows on the earth, and for every fish that swims in the sea, could feed 5000 people. Right after this miracle St. Mark tells us that Jesus saved His disciples from drowning when he calmed the storm at sea. St. Mark relates this incident to the miracle of the loaves. He says that the disciples in the boat "were utterly beside themselves with astonishment, for they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was blinded."

Many people also find it hard today to believe that the Body and Blood of Jesus are offered in the Sacrifice of the Mass. In the second reading from St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians we have what is probably the first written account of our Lord's offering of His own Body and Blood at the Last Supper. It's obvious that Paul didn't make these words up. He says that he heard them from the Lord Himself in much the same way that the other Apostles did at that Passover meal.

What could the Apostles have been thinking when they saw Jesus take the bread, offer thanks, break it, and then say, "This is my body that is for you?" How could the bread be His Body? Or what about, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood." How could the wine be His Blood? We know that they believed it because He said it and because He would raise His Body from the dead only three days later. We also know that the first Christian communities also believed it and from the beginning repeated the Lord's words whenever they gathered together "in remembrance of Him."

Since the beginnings of Christianity theologians have tried to come to a better understanding of what our Lord meant. In the Middle Ages they came up with an explanation that is as good as any that has been offered since. Guided by the rediscovery of the works of ancient Greek scientists and philosophers, theologians like St. Thomas Aquinas developed the concept of "transubstantiation."

Like most scientific words "transubstantiation" is a long word made up of different parts in order to give greater clarity and precision. But if we break the word down into its parts, we will get a better idea of what it means. First, let's deal with the prefix, "tran." It means going from one thing to another, like in transport or transmit. The suffix, "ation", at the end of the word means a process or action, like in transportation. So if we get rid of the prefix and suffix, we're left with the root or core of the word, "substance." Now "sub" means under and "stance" comes from the Latin verb, "stare" which means "to stand."

When we deal with substance we're dealing with that which stands under a thing, it's real core, what it is. So "transubstantiation" means that the bread and wine although they still look, and feel, and taste like bread and wine, have become something else. It's something like when we advance through the different stages of life, from infancy to old age. Although our bodies change, aren't we always the same person?

However, transubstantiation is an attempt to explain a mystery. It is not the mystery itself. Like the early Christians we believe that the Body and Blood of Christ are truly present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist because our Lord said so at the first Eucharist.


In Eucharist, find strength to share bread, faith with others, pope says
| May 27, 2016 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


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Click to read reflection by Dr. Frank DeStefano

ROME—A Corpus Christi procession should honor Christ’s gift of himself in the Eucharist, but also should be a pledge to share bread and faith with the people of the cities and towns where the processions take place, Pope Francis said.


Children dressed in first Communion outfits hold candles as Pope Francis
leads Benediction outside the Basilica of St. Mary Major on the feast
of Corpus Christi in Rome May 26. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)


Pope Francis leads Benediction outside the Basilica of St. Mary Major
on the feast of Corpus Christi in Rome May 26. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Just as the “breaking of the bread” became the icon of the early Christian community, giving of oneself in order to nourish others spiritually and physically should be a sign of Christians today, the pope said May 26, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.

On a warm spring evening, the pope’s celebration began with Mass outside Rome’s Basilica of St. John Lateran and was to be followed by a traditional Corpus Christi procession from St. John Lateran to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, one mile away. Hundreds of members of parish and diocesan confraternities and sodalities—dressed in blue, brown, black or white capes and robes—joined the pope for Mass and would make the nighttime walk to St. Mary Major for eucharistic benediction with him.

“May this action of the eucharistic procession, which we will carry out shortly, respond to Jesus’ command,” he said in his homily. The procession should be “an action to commemorate him; an action to give food to the crowds of today; an act to break open our faith and our lives as a sign of Christ's love for this city and for the whole world.”

In every celebration of the Eucharist, the pope said, the people place simple bread and wine into “poor hands anointed by the Holy Spirit” and Jesus “gives us his body and his blood.”

The people’s gifts are an important part of the process, just as they were when Jesus fed the multitude with five loaves and two fish, Pope Francis said.

“Indeed,” he said, “it is Jesus who blesses and breaks the loaves and provides sufficient food to satisfy the whole crowd, but it is the disciples who offer the five loaves and two fish.”

“Jesus wanted it this way,” he said. Rather than letting the disciples send the people away to find food, Jesus wanted the disciples to “put at his disposal what little they had.”

“And there is another gesture: The pieces of bread, broken by the holy and venerable hands of Our Lord, pass into the poor hands of the disciples, who distribute these to the people,” Pope Francis said.

The miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fish, he said, “signals what Christ wants to accomplish for the salvation of all mankind, giving his own flesh and blood. And yet this needs always to happen through those two small actions: offering the few loaves and fish which we have; receiving the bread broken by the hands of Jesus and giving it to all.”

Later in the Mass, a couple with four children and a grandmother with her three grandchildren brought the gifts of bread and wine to the pope for consecration.

Pope Francis urged the crowd gathered on the lawn outside the basilica to consider all the holy men and women throughout history who have given their lives, “‘broken’ themselves,” in order to nourish others.

“How many mothers, how many fathers, together with the slices of bread they provide each day on the tables of their homes, have broken their hearts to let their children grow, and grow well,” he said. “How many Christians, as responsible citizens, have broken their own lives to defend the dignity of all, especially the poorest, the marginalized and those discriminated!”

The source of strength for such given, he said, is found in “the Eucharist, in the power of the risen Lord’s love, who today too breaks bread for us and repeats: ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’”


Click here to see the story on CNS news.


Around the Diocese
| May 27, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT— Social Media Leader John Grosso will take you “Around the Diocese” in just 60 seconds in this video.

From First Communions to diocesan and parish activities, the faithful of Fairfield County find great joy and fulfillment in the liturgies, activities and teachings of the Church. Please take a look for yourself.


Fairfield Student Named Gates Millennium Scholar
| May 27, 2016


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FAIRFIELD—Breiana Campbell, Class of 2016, and daughter Rodney and Charlene Campbell of Bridgeport, has been named a Gates Millennium Scholar. Campbell is one of 1,000 recipients from across the nation selected to receive this full college and postgraduate scholarship out of over 50,000 applicants.


Campbell has enrolled at Dartmouth College for her undergraduate studies and plans to also attend medical school.

As a student at Notre Dame, Campbell has consistently been in the top 10 of her class while taking a challenging AP-level curriculum. Campbell has been a four year member of both the Indoor and Outdoor Track teams, serving as a captain during her senior year. She is a member of the National and Spanish Honor Societies and was elected to serve as President of both organizations by her peers. She has regularly volunteered with Notre Dame’s Campus Ministry program and Care Club.

In 2015, Campbell was selected as Queen of Bridgeport’s Barnum Festival, from a pool of candidates representing all area high schools. Campbell has volunteered with the Golden Hill United Methodist Church serving as a captain for their meal preparation team assisting area low-income and homeless families. She has also volunteered her time at St. Vincent’s Hospital and with the Stratford Emergency Medical Services. Campbell is currently completing her senior internship in the Neuroradiology Department at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Notre Dame’s principal Chris Cipriano commented, “We couldn’t be prouder of Breiana for not only her academic and service-related achievements of the past four years, but also for receiving this tremendous scholarship award. She is a wonderful example of Notre Dame and one who has proven our mission successful of building character, faith and intellect in each student.”

According to the Gate Millenium Scholarship homepage, “The Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was established in 1999 to provide outstanding African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American, and Hispanic American students with an opportunity to complete an undergraduate college education in any discipline area of interest. Continuing Gates Millennium Scholars may request funding for a graduate degree program in one of the following discipline areas: computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science.”

“In 1999, a bold vision of what America’s future would look like began to take shape. In that view, America’s leadership would include 20,000 individuals, all people of color, who would make a significant impact on the future direction of the nation. Coming from among the most financially needy students and attending the nation’s best colleges and universities, they would represent the extraordinary promise inherent among all highly academically capable individuals, no matter what their background. Moreover, the planners envisioned that the researched experiences of the students’ matriculation and retention, the fact of these individuals’ extraordinary successes to terminal degrees, and the testimony of their voices, would spark conversation, and perhaps debate, leading to public policies and added philanthropic contributions in support of similarly able and financially challenged young people. That vision of Bill and Melinda Gates was funded by a historic grant of more than 1 billion dollars to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF)—still the largest single gift to any scholarship organization.”

For additional information contact Chris Cipriano at 203.372.6521 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Bishop praises religious for their witness of Gospel values in our society
| May 26, 2016


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WESTPORT—More than 150 men and women religious recently attended a Consecrated Life Mass and Listening Session with the Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano at St. Luke Church in Westport.

Click here to watch the video.


The meeting, coordinated by Sr. Nancy Strillacci, A.S.C.J. Program Director in the Office of Clergy and Religious and Episcopal Delegate, was the third in a series, and began as a part of the Diocesan Synod process to support and affirm religious life.
 
In the hour-long open microphone session, issues relating to mission, ministry and community were discussed.
 
The bishop addressed topics such as yearly stipends and ministry agreements of religious who work in the diocesan schools, parishes or Curia’s departments.
 
“Comments from the floor ranged from the need to know opportunities for ministry and leadership in the Diocese of Bridgeport to reactions to the recent comment by Pope Francis at a meeting of the International Union of Superiors General suggesting that a commission be formed to study the New Testament use of the word deaconess and possible modern implications,” said Sr. Nancy.
 
Afterwards there was a Liturgy for Consecrated Life during which religious renewed their vows. The theme of the event was mercy.
 
In his homily the bishop recalled an incident at his first mass as a newly ordained. He said he went to use the ribbon to flip the pages to the next reading and suddenly saw the ribbon had detached from the Missal and was dangling from his hand.
 
This left him fumbling with pages, looking for the correct words while embarrassedly explaining that he “was new at this.”
 
The bishop recalled the realization that all his learning, preparation and talent did not help him in this simple situation and reminded him that God was in charge. “God is powerful and merciful,” he said.
 
After Mass, the religious attended a special annual dinner at which twenty religious celebrating special jubilees of vows were honored and given gifts by Bishop Caggiano. The eldest had been in the vowed life eighty years. Eight sisters in attendance had a photo taken with the bishop.
 
The Diocese has over forty religious orders living or ministering in its borders and most were represented by members on this special night.
 
Bishop Caggiano praised the witness religious give to Gospel values in a world which, more than ever, needs signs of Christ’s ideals and principles.


Breakfast of Champions honors achievement and character
| May 25, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—“Any time that we celebrate the goodness and intelligence of our young people is a day of blessing and hope,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at the “Breakfast of Champions,” which honors Catholic school students who excel in academics, athletic achievement and above all strive to live a lifestyle that exemplifies Gospel values.


During his opening remarks, Bishop Caggiano warmly thanked the honorees, their principals, pastors and parents. “Your young people have come to love the Lord through the love you show to them, the love that brought you here today,” he said, speaking to parents.

Two awards are given at the breakfast: a St. Thomas Aquinas Award to students in their last year of elementary or high school who have demonstrated academic accomplishment and the St. Sebastian Award for high school seniors who have not only academic distinction but have been captain of an athletic team that won at the State level during this academic year.

The two often overlap. Gianna Basso, the St. Thomas Aquinas honoree from St. Catherine of Siena School in Trumbull, is not only a top scholar in her class, she is Student Council co-president and was on St. Catherine’s basketball and track teams.

“It’s grades, but more importantly her character and overall character that helped us choose Gianna,” said St. Catherine’s principal, Peter Rodgers.

Gianna, who enjoys all subjects from English to math, will be attending St. Joseph High School in Trumbull this fall, where she plans to try out for the track team. Her long-term goal? “I want to be a teacher for grades seven through high school,” she said.

Taylor Guth from Immaculate High School in Danbury, Immaculate’s St. Thomas honoree, is headed for the University of Notre Dame this year, where she plans to concentrate in neuroscience and pre-med. Active in campus ministry throughout her high school years, serving breakfast to the homeless at Dorothy Day House, she hopes that she can combine her future career with service, possibly through an organization like Doctors Without Borders.

These students, and all the honorees, take to heart the words of Bishop Caggiano. “As you are honored today, remember that there is more work to be done,” he told them. “You are the eyes, heart, hands and feet of the Lord in the world.”

 

2016 Breakfast of Champions Honorees
 
St. Thomas Aquinas Award
The recipients of the St. Thomas Aquinas Award were selected for two reasons. These individuals have shown excellence in academics at their respective schools. The awardees also exemplify the Gospel Values we are called to in our Catholic faith through service to others and Christ-like behavior. The award has been named in honor of St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest and most influential theologians of all time. He was extremely focused in the area of academics as well as in the practice of virtue. St. Thomas Aquinas lived in the thirteenth century, was canonized in 1323 and declared a Doctor of the Universal Church by Pope St. Pius V in 1567. In 1880, Pope Leo XIII designated him as the patron saint of all Catholic universities, academies, colleges and schools throughout the world.

5th Grade Recipients
William Anderson - Our Lady Star of the Sea School, Stamford
Isabel Aquino - Holy Spirit School, Stamford
Eden Cheung - St. Cecilia School, Stamford
 
8th Grade Recipients
Gianna Basso - St. Catherine of Siena School, Trumbull
Julianna Bosco - Trinity Catholic Middle School, Stamford
Anne Clark - Greenwich Catholic School, Greenwich
Jose Dataram - Catholic Academy of Bridgeport (St. Augustine)
Keelan Doherty - St. Joseph School, Danbury
Carolyn Donovan - St. Mary School, Ridgefield
Maeve Foley - St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School, Fairfield
Carla Guirguis - St. Rose of Lima, Newtown
Bridget Hewitt - St. James School, Stratford
Thompson Hyland - St. Gregory the Great School, Danbury
Keara Klein - Catholic Academy of Bridgeport (St. Ann)
Elisa  Lifrieri - St. Mary School, Bethel
Emily McGovern - St. Jude School, Monroe
Ethan Novicio - St. Joseph School, Shelton
Salvatore Orosz - Assumption Catholic School, Fairfield
Mackenzie O'Rourke - St. Joseph School, Brookfield
Maria Raiti - Catholic Academy of Bridgeport (St. Andrew)
Ross Relator - St. Peter School, Danbury
Elizabeth Richmond - St. Theresa School, Trumbull
Matthew  Rohr - All Saints Catholic School, Norwalk
Brian Rooney - Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School, Wilton
Natalie Sciallo - St. Mark School, Stratford
Isaac Seyer - St. Lawrence School, Shelton
Sophie Stachurski - St. Aloysius School, New Canaan

12th Grade Recipients
Christina Bellacicco - Trinity Catholic High School, Stamford
Alexandra D'Aurio - Notre Dame High School, Fairfield
Taylor Guth - Immaculate High School, Danbury
Joshua Kotos - Saint Catherine Academy, Fairfield
William  Mercier - St. Joseph High School, Trumbull
Alyssa Mesaros - Kolbe Cathedral High School, Bridgeport

St. Sebastian Award
The recipients selected for the St. Sebastian Award were selected for two reasons. These individuals have shown leadership in their respective high schools as the captain of an athletic team.  Additionally, the awardees have shown athletic success in that particular sport. The award has been named in honor of St. Sebastian who was known for his physical endurance and his energetic way of spreading and defending the Catholic faith. He was a Roman Martyr who died for the faith in about the year 283. St. Sebastian is the patron saint of athletes.

12th Grade Recipients
Darius Hunter - Immaculate High School, Basketball
Darius Smith - Immaculate High School, Basketball
Shannon Ducey - Immaculate High School, Cross Country
Jenna Gasparrini - Immaculate High School, Cross Country
Julia Rist - Immaculate High School, Cross Country
Raina Ceryak - Notre Dame High School, Soccer
Sierra Chavez - Notre Dame High School, Soccer
Bryanna D'Arcangelo - Notre Dame High School, Soccer
Cassie Aungst - St. Joseph High School, Cheerleading
Meghen Foss - St. Joseph High School, Cheerleading
Tierney Hall - St. Joseph High School, Cheerleading
Allie McKenna - St. Joseph High School, Cheerleading
James Mas - St. Joseph High School, Cross Country
Cillian Donahue - St. Joseph High School, Lacrosse
Chris Klabonski - St. Joseph High School, Lacrosse
Mike Sudora - St. Joseph High School, Lacrosse
Jenna Bike - St. Joseph High School, Soccer
Marissa Grasso - St. Joseph High School, Soccer
Samantha Lello - St. Joseph High School, Soccer
Leah Lewis - St. Joseph High School, Soccer
Jada Harris - St. Joseph High School, Track and Field


St. Matthew Knights awarded by the Knights of Columbus CT State Council
| May 24, 2016


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NORWALK—As the fraternal year is concluding, K of C #14360 in Norwalk is finishing one of its busiest years in the short history of the council. The state council has recognized their hard work and dedication.



Starting back in September with helping to run and organize not one but two 9/11 memorial Masses, to painting and carpentry projects to running 385-person dinners, Knights of Columbus St. Matthew Council #14360 in Norwalk worked tirelessly over the last nine months to help those in need at St. Matthew church and in the surrounding community. At the Knights of Columbus Connecticut State Council’s 123rd convention in Stamford May 13-15 they were awarded two program awards for their efforts.

Every year the state honors councils with program awards in six categories, and last year council 14360 won its first state award in its history. This year the council won two state awards, including the “Culture of Life” program award for another painting project at Malta House.

Malta House promotes the dignity of God-given life by providing a nurturing home environment, support services and independent living skills to pregnant and parenting mothers of all faiths and their children.

This is the second straight year they won that award.

The council also won the “Church” program award for its four-year relationship helping Our Lady of Solace church in Brooklyn after the devastating Superstorm Sandy ruined most of the church on Coney Island.

“I’ve never been one for physical awards, but it is a great accomplishment,” says Grand Knight George Ribellino, Jr. “Knowing that the state council appreciates the good work we are doing is an honor and I am humbled.”

Ribellino, Grand Knight since 2013, is completing his three-year term this year. “It’s been a great three years that has gone very fast, and it’s amazing what our council has accomplished.

I am so proud of my Brother Knights. It’s never been easy and there’s always a sense of stress but at the same time it always feels good at the end when those in need are smiling.”

The St. Matthew Knights assists St. Matthew parish and organizations such as All Saints Catholic School, Notre Dame Convalescent Home, FCA, Al’s Angels, Fisher House and Homes for the Brave in Bridgeport.

To learn more about Knight of Columbus Council 14360, visit Saintmatthewknights.com


Veneration of the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe
| May 24, 2016


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SHELTON—The St. Lawrence Prayer Group, of St. Lawrence in Shelton will be sponsoring the Veneration of the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Monday, June 27 and Tuesday, June 28.


Vivian Mestey of Fredericksburg, Virginia, the guardian of the sacred image, will be making a presentation concerning the image and its mission as well as offering individual prayer.

The evenings will consist of the following:

4:00 pm to 6:00 pm – Veneration and Individual Prayer
6:00 pm – Talk on Image and Mission
6:30 pm – Rosary
7:00 pm – Mass and Homily on Our Lady of Guadalupe
8:00 pm – Adoration, Benediction and Closing

All are welcome, please spread the word. More information can be obtained at JKMI.com under Our Lady of Guadalupe and Facebook; “Escarchas of Guadalupe”. For further information contact Deacon Frank Masso at 203.605.8321 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Catholic Academy Golf Classic Raises Close to $200,000
| May 23, 2016


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FAIRFIELD—The Catholic Academy of Bridgeport held its Fourth Annual Golf Classic at the Country Club of Fairfield on Thursday, May 19.




The event was a “birdie” by all accounts—from picture-perfect weather to almost 100 enthusiastic golfers to nearly $200,000 raised for student scholarships.

Roughly 930 students attend one of the four campuses that make up the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport—St. Ann Academy, St. Andrew Academy, St. Augustine Academy and St. Raphael Academy—and 85% receive some sort of financial assistance, totaling $3 million annually.

The event was generously underwritten by Brad and Barbara Evans. Judy and Jim Bailey underwrote the gifts and Heineken USA donated the beer. Green Earth Energy Photovoltaic was the Gold Sponsor, and Bronze Sponsors included Day Pitney LLP, Mr. James Read, Mr. Frank Sica, and William J. Fessler Family Dentistry. Other sponsors were: Merrill Lynch, People’s United Bank, Blakes School Uniform Company, Mr. Thomas Graham, Mr. Frank Mori, and Mr. Raymond Rizio.

“We are so grateful to the generosity of so many that make this annual event so successful,” said Sr. Joan Magnetti, rscj, Executive Director of the Academy. “Many contributed items for our auction as well as funds for scholarship in our Leaders of Tomorrow  program to make the gift of a Catholic education possible.”


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

St. Jude Confirmation
| May 22, 2016


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MONROE—On Saturday, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano confirmed young people from St. Jude Parish in Monroe. Among the parents in the Church was JoMarie Branco who was deeply moved by the ceremony and the Bishop’s homily.


"Yesterday I experienced one of the most beautiful Masses in a long time. The words of our Bishop to youth of the parish were amazing. He encouraged them to be different and to be great—two things our young children need to hear.

"I have been a Roman Catholic my entire life. I believe we all are called to serve. Likewise the bishop has been called to make a difference and I truly believe his words were so powerful. I myself try to strive to make a difference with having three children I want them to grow up being good adults and never to forget their faith. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Saint Jude Roman Catholic Church numbers 2,600 families as parishioners. It is located at 707 Monroe Tpke, Monroe. On the web: https://www.stjuderc.com


St. Vincent’s College taps 179 graduates
| May 21, 2016 • by From CTPost.com


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BRIDGEPORT—St. Vincent’s College conferred degrees to 179 members of the Class of 2016 at Friday’s commencement exercises.


Most of the students graduated with degrees in nursing: 114 students earned associate of nursing degrees, while 29 others received Bachelor of Science degrees in nursing.

St. Vincent’s also awarded associate degrees in radiography and medical assisting, and Bachelor of Science degrees in radiologic sciences.

The student commencement speakers were Vivian Lounsbury of Bridgeport and Justin Gagner of Oxford.

The Rev. Larry Fullerton, executive pastor, Black Rock Congregational Church, gave the commencement address.

The ceremony took place at the University of Bridgeport’s Arnold Bernhard Arts & Humanities Center, Mertens Theatre.


Around the Diocese
| May 20, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—You’ll enjoy this “Around the Diocese” week in review by Diocesan Social Media Leader John Grosso.


The video begins with last weekend’s beautiful Pentecost Vigil at St. Augustine Cathedral in downtown Bridgeport, moves on to the 22nd Celebrity Breakfast to benefit Merton Center held on Wednesday and makes a couple of other stops around the diocese.

Please take this one-minute walk through a diocese that if full of life, faith and commitment to renewal.

Click here to view the video


Bishop updates Stamford parents on Strategic Plan for Elementary Schools
| May 19, 2016


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STAMFORD—The diocese has hired Partners in Mission, a full service-consulting firm focused exclusively on Catholic schools, to guide the Strategic Planning for Catholic elementary schools in Stamford.



Bishop Caggiano made the announcement last night (May 18) at Trinity Catholic High School in a meeting to update parents about the Strategic Planning process for the four Catholic elementary schools in Stamford. The final plan is expected to be completed in March 2017.

More than 75 parents and educators turned out to learn more about the effort to plan for the future growth and vitality of the schools.

“Now at this moment I am asking you to get involved,” he told the parents as he began his presentation. “We don’t want you to be spectators in the process, we want you to be collaborators. No one knows what’s better for their children than you do.”

During his half-hour presentation the bishop told parents they will have many opportunities to get involved in the work of the strategic plan by participating in focus groups and responding to surveys, as well as serving on working groups and board committees that will draw on their professional expertise.

His talk was followed by a lengthy question and answer session in which the bishop urged parents to visit the schools' website after the meeting and to sign up for a committee.

The bishop told parents that the Boston-based Partners is nationally known for their work in Catholic school leadership, advancement, enrollment management and strategic planning. They were the unanimous selection of the Stamford Catholic Schools working group that has been leading the process of change.  

He said the consultants were brought in because all those who have been involved in the study process realized they needed professional help to move forward.

He said that in addition to their experience in working on school strategic plans, Partners in Mission has an excellent track record of involving parents in decision-making and engaging community support.

A team from the firm has led the recently completed strategic plan for Greenwich Catholic School and was successful in creating a high level of parent participation.  

The bishop first met with parents in early March to announce an 18-month strategic planning process for Holy Spirit School, Our Lady Star of the Sea School, St Cecilia’s School and Trinity Catholic Middle School.

Retaining and building enrollment remains a major challenge, the bishop said, noting that the schools have budgeted for 620 students next year. At present, 520 have re-registered for next year with 37 more pending and 73 current students yet to enroll.

He said the new Tuition Assistance Committee in Stamford will help identity families who need financial assistance beyond what is provided by the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund to enroll their children.  

“This is the time to re-register and to get our enrollment set for next year,” the bishop said, urging those in attendance to encourage other parents to complete the registration process.   

He thanked parents and pastors for their cooperation in in the April 24
“Open House” weekend that led to 40 new registrations for next year.  The schools also host “Take a Look Tuesdays,” weekly open houses every Tuesday from 9 to 11 am.

The bishop discussed the new, two-tier governing model proposed to oversee the four Stamford schools. It will include a Board of Members made up of the Bishop, the Vicar General and the Diocesan Superintendent of Schools to ensure the Catholic identity of the schools, and a Board of Directors composed of lay leaders who will take responsibility for finances, marketing and planning.

The bishop said the new governance model has many strengths in that it would unify the schools on planning and major initiatives while also preserving “the individual and distinctive culture of each school.”

He added that the new governance model will restore a healthy balance between a centralized school system and local control. The new board will have actual decision-making authority over school finances, programs and improvements.

In presenting the strategic planning timeline, the bishop said that the data, planning and research effort will formally begin this month, along with the formation of the Strategic Planning Committee, which is expected to evolve into the new board. The implementation of the plan is set for April 2017.

For more information, or to volunteer, visit: www.CatholicSchoolsStamford.org.


Mad Dog Howls for Merton Center
| May 18, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Legendary sports talk host Christopher Mad Dog Russo let out his trademark howl to begin the 22nd Annual Celebrity Merton Center Breakfast and the morning went on to raise almost $150,000 for the downtown soup kitchen.



Bishop and Brian Jenkins with Mad Dog Russo.


Ralph Corrigan wins volunteer award.

The breakfast brought together 300 business and civic leaders and friends of the Merton Center to the Downtown Holiday Inn to support the Merton Center, which serves over 550,000 meals a year to those who gather at its tables.

Russo, the host of Sirius XM’s  “Mad Dog Unleashed,” shared a few of his most treasured sports talk moments with the audience.

He said that on a recent show he got the chatter going by suggesting that Jerry West was far greater than Stephen Curry of the Warriors. After listening to callers go back and forth on the issue, he noticed that “Sam from Jacksonville was on Line 5” and had been waiting for a few minutes.  

The caller turned out to be Boston Celtic great Sam Jones who spent the better part of a half hour reminiscing with the Mad Dog. “That kind of moment makes it all worth while to do the show,” said Russo, who added that he felt very fortunate "being in the right place at the right time” throughout career as a sport commentator.  

During the annual event, Fr. Charles Allen of Fairfield University handled his usual role of bidding up giving to the Merton Center while delivering anecdotes and one-liners that had the audience roaring.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano brought it all together when he said, “the poor are not problems to be solved but our brothers and sisters to be loved.”

The Bishop praised staff, board and volunteers for their efforts and their approach to caring for those in need at Merton Center.

“We call them, ‘our guests,’ not clients, disadvantaged, poor and homeless. The guests are welcomed as part of our diocesan family.”

Brian Jenkins, Director of Merton Center, told the gathering that prescription drugs and heroin are now the leading cause of death in the United States, taking more lives than automobile accidents and gun violence.

He said guests to Merton Center have multiple level needs and challenges, but they are  “desperate to find solutions” and move on in their lives.

Jenkins presented the Joseph E. Mulcahy Creative Service Award to retired Sacred Heart University English Professor Dr. Ralph Corrigan of Trumbull for his efforts in leading a creative writing class for Merton Center guests. The poems and writings have been collected in a volume, “Poems from the Center.”

He said that Dr. Corrigan, a twenty-year volunteer at Merton Center, was also revered by guests for “making the best oat meal in town.”

The breakfast was hosted by Bonnie Candee and Christine Hughes, Co-chairs of the Merton Center Advisory Board.

Merton Center serves breakfast and lunch to 350 people a day, provides take-home groceries for individuals and families through its Food Pantry,  sponsors support groups and provides case management services to help guests finding housing and other basic needs.

Merton Center is sponsored by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Bridgeport. It is  located at 43 Madison Avenue in Bridgeport. Phone: 203.367.9036. On the web: www.themertoncenter.org.


Dr. McAleer edits new book of Cardinal Egan's columns
| May 18, 2016 • by By BRIAN D. WALLACE


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NEW YORK—His Eminence, Edward Cardinal Egan, had two unfinished projects on his desk on the day he died, March 5, 2015, and they both involved the Diocese of Bridgeport.


The first was a fundraiser for St. John Fisher Seminary, which he founded in the diocese in 1989. On the morning of his passing, Cardinal Egan was working on a guest list with his former priest secretary, Father Michael Jones, who is now vicar for development for the Diocese of Bridgeport.

The second project required putting the finishing touches on a collection of his columns from Fairfield County Catholic, written between 1989 and 2008, when he served as Bishop of Bridgeport.

Perhaps there was no one better to assist him in that task and to complete the unfinished work than Dr. Joseph McAleer, who served as director of communications and editor of Fairfield County Catholic from 1999 to 2008.  

The two had been working on the book for months and the Cardinal had culled the collection to 50 representative columns. After the Cardinal’s sudden passing at age 82, Dr. McAleer moved ahead with his wishes for the project, providing the final edits and writing an insightful introduction to the volume titled Practice for Heaven, True Stories from a Modern Missionary, (Sophia Institute Press) (293 pages), Manchester, N.H., 2016.

In an era before Facebook and the immediacy of social media, Cardinal Egan wrote more than 230 columns for both Fairfield County Catholic and Catholic New York, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of New York. As Dr. McAleer notes in his excellent introduction, the title of the book is derived from the Cardinal’s often repeated remark that all of his efforts as a priest, “were practice for getting into Heaven.”

In summarizing Cardinal Egan’s considerable achievements and legacy in Bridgeport and New York, Dr. McAleer includes some of the Cardinal’s statements  on the sexual abuse crisis; however, none of the columns directly address the issue. He also offers a concise, revealing biography that mentions the Cardinal’s two-year struggle with polio as a boy.

The columns bring back what many in the diocese had the pleasure of reading in Fairfield County Catholic and hearing in his elegant voice—his great charm and story telling ability. He could set up a column with the gifts of a short story writer, and he had a natural gift for describing the many people he encountered in his ministry and his travels as a priest and a bishop.

“Her Magic,” a column he wrote on Mother Theresa’s visit to the South Bronx, is remarkable in its scene setting and dialogue, and in the alarming story he tells of a young man who staggers down the aisle of the Church during Mass after being beaten and bloodied by a drug dealer outside. Much to the Cardinal’s amazement, Mother Theresa and her young Sisters immediately attend to the man and send him on his way with prayer and hope in his heart.

Readers may also want to read the memorable profile of John Paul II written in June 1998, on the 20th anniversary of his pontificate. The piece is based on the Cardinal’s many face-to-face meetings and encounters with St. John Paul II and offers a privileged look at this remarkable man.

Sometimes he is at best in minor pieces such as “Repentances,” in which he relays the story of a lost Caravaggio that is found in an old rectory in Dublin, where it hung over a sideboard in the dining room. In his patented style, he draws us into the meaning of the column through the elegant veneer of his description. The tale then moves to New York City and a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in 1997, after the Met had acquired what was believed to be the last undiscovered Caravaggio. While he delights the reader with his understanding of art and his easy companionship with his fellow museumgoers, he ends up delivering a devastating homily on betrayal, repentance, and the need we all have to ask for forgiveness.
 
Cardinal Egan emerges from these columns as an enormously urbane observer of the international Church and defender of the faith of others, wherever he found it—in Rome, Prague, Havana, Dublin, Damascus, Budapest, and Nanning (Southwest China) to name just a few of his stops. He frequently mentions walking, taking the subway, and boarding a bus, and his love for his adopted city of Manhattan is evident.

In this handsome volume, readers will discover a man who is a great traveling companion on the journey of faith. He has the eye of a painter, the ear of a musician, the soul of a parish priest, always willing to accompany others and to find joy and meaning in life as he “practiced for heaven.”

Practice for Heaven is available now at bookstores and online at Amazon.com and other retailers.


A Most Fitting Day To Be With Saint Anthony of Padua
| May 17, 2016


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STAMFORD—On Tuesday, June 14, Flag Day, a holy and first class relic of Saint Anthony of Padua will visit The Basilica of Saint John the Evangelist on Atlantic Avenue in Stamford. 

Click here to view the flyer.


Prior to the arrival of the relic, the Basilica will launch a Triduum of Prayer on Sunday, June 12, with a Holy Hour at 7:30 pm, including Adoration and Benediction, a short homily, and Confession. A second Holy Hour will be held on Monday, June 13, at 7:30 pm. All are welcome.

The Reverend Monsignor Stephen M. DiGiovanni, and his staff, will host three masses in honor of the saint at 8 am, 12:10 pm and 7:30 pm, with veneration all day long. It will be a day of masses, veneration, novenas, devotions and prayer in honor of St. Anthony’s Feast Day.

Father Paolo Floretta, a Franciscan OFM Conv Friar, one of fifty-two Friars who lives in the Basilica in Padua, will accompany the relic from Padua, Italy to America in honor of the Saint’s Feast Day. The American tour begins on June 10 in New Jersey and will end on June 19 in Westchester County, NY.  

“The Franciscan way to venerate the holy relic is to make physical contact with the reliquary with a religious item such as rosary beads, medals, crosses, a prayer card and even a photo of someone dear to you,” said Fr. Floretta.   

Saint Anthony of Padua died on June 13, 1231. According to the Gregorian calendar, June 13, 1231 was a Friday. Saint Anthony was buried the following Tuesday, June 17, 1231, at Santa Maria Mater Domini. His tomb was later transferred to the present day Basilica when it was completed during that century. It is for this reason why the nine (9) day and thirteen (13) day Saint Anthony novenas, known throughout the Catholic World, are always recited on a Tuesday, the day he was buried.  

Father Paolo Floretta is delighted that the saint’s relic will be venerated on a Tuesday at the Mother Church of Stamford, The Basilica of St John the Evangelist. From his room in Padua by phone, “I will be coming from a Basilica in Padua, Italy and am thrilled that his relic will be venerated on a Tuesday in a Basilica in the United States of America”  

Saint Anthony of Padua is known to millions of Catholics for ‘lost items’. Catholics worldwide ask why he is associated with them. Father Mario Conte, Executive Editor of The Messenger of St. Anthony, and his staff, provide answers and explanations about the saint to the devotees in the English-speaking world.  Friar Alessandro Ratti, a travel companion of the saint’s relics, like Father Floretta and Father Mario Conte, best known throughout the English-speaking world, offers a succinct explanation.

“Saint Anthony’s reputation as a finder of lost things dates to an incident in the saint’s life. As the legend goes, a novice who had grown tired of religious life decided to leave the Franciscan community. But before leaving, the novice took Saint Anthony’s psalter. The book was very important to Anthony, especially since it was before the printing press had been invented. The psalter had notes and comments he made in teaching his students in the Franciscan order.

Anthony prayed that the psalter would be found and returned to him. Anthony’s prayers were answered: The novice returned the psalter and returned to the order.”

Saint Anthony became “Santo Subito” during the 11th month after his death when Pope Gregory IX canonized him as Saint Anthony of Padua. Some saints are canonized a hundred years after  their death, and even centuries. No other saint has ever been canonized in such a short period of time after death.  

Saint Anthony, a Doctor of the Church, is believed by millions of devotees to be a powerful intercessor among the communion of saints. Father Paolo softly makes a strong point in our telephone conversation, “Only God performs miracles. However, the saints lift our voices and prayer petitions to God.”

In an address in Cologne, Germany, Thursday, August 18, 2005, Pope Benedict Emeritus said of relics “By inviting us to venerate the mortal remains of the martyrs and saints, the Church does not forget that, in the end, these are indeed just human bones, but they are bones that belonged to individuals touched by the living power of God. The relics of the saints are traces of that invisible but real presence which sheds light upon the shadows of the world and reveals the Kingdom of Heaven in our midst.”

Pope Francis, inspired by two Franciscan Saints, Saint Francis and Saint Anthony, who knew each other during their lifetime in the 13th century, said of relics “Relics are parts of the body of a saint which was the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

Through this body, the saints practiced heroic values recognized by the Church.” In 2000, when Pope Francis was Bishop Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, the reliquary traveled to the historic city where he carried the reliquary into the streets of the Argentinian capital.  

Prayer petitions will be distributed at the Basilica in Stamford by Fr. Paolo to allow parishioners to write their prayer petition to the saint. Father Paolo will bring the petitions back to the Basilica in Padua and place the petitions at the tomb of Saint Anthony.  

The tour officially ends back at the tomb where the Friars will light candles and offer prayers for our intentions. Father Paolo shares

“People can reach Jesus Christ through the intercession of saints. Saint Anthony is one of the signs we encounter on our road through life. Saint Anthony was a real person who still gives us direction today. Venerating his relic is a link of love between us and him.”  

For a complete schedule, please contact the USA Representative, Tom Muscatello, at 914.263.8841.

For more info please visit The Basilica of Saint John the Evangelist


A Special Report—Vigil of Pentecost!
| May 17, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Diocesan Social Media Leader John Grosso, along with Social Media Intern Grace Wagner, have introduced a new “Special Report” video series to highlight important events around the Diocese.


The new series will premier on YouTube and will be published on the Diocesan Facebook and Twitter. The reports are meant to summarize special events from around our Diocese, using video, pictures, and audio clips of Bishop Frank J. Caggiano’s homily.

The first “Special Report” video premiered on social media yesterday, sharing highlights from the recent Pentecost Vigil Mass.

Despite gathering storm clouds and the beginning of a light drizzle, hundreds gathered outside of St. Augustine Cathedral on Saturday evening to celebrate the Vigil of Pentecost.

They gathered outside the church, right in front of the new Divine Mercy Shrine, which was surrounded by 7 bonfires. Each fire represented a gift of the Holy Spirit.

“My Mother always told me not to play with fire,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said, beginning his homily, “and there is a great wisdom in that. Except, for tonight. For tonight is the festival of our salvation.”

Click here to view the video.


A close shave for charity
| May 16, 2016


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NORWALK—Fr. Michael Boccaccio and St. Philip parish have been raising funds to fight hunger for the last thirteen years, totaling over $300,000.







This year he told the parishioners if they surpassed $60,000 for the year total he would shave his hair and mustache off. His family came for his 45th Priestly Ordination Anniversary on May 15 and his niece Patty shaved his hair in front of the all the attendees, most of whom wore fake mustaches.


Pentecost is the Festival of Our Salvation
| May 15, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Hundreds of faithful filled St. Augustine Cathedral last night for the Vigil of Pentecost Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.


“Today is the festival of our salvation, because that which Christ achieved in his birth, death, and resurrection are given to you and I this night because the Spirit allows us to become adopted sons and daughters of God," Bishop Caggiano said in his homily.

He continued, "What Jesus had by his nature, we receive as gift. All of the benefits of Jesus' glorification and His resurrection become a promise to you and me because the Holy Spirit is alive in all of us.”

The bishop said that people are taught “not to play with fire,” but he prayed “that the fire of the Holy Spirit” renew all of the people and the institutions of the diocese.

He said that life of Jesus started a “fire that this world could not ever begin to understand,” but can share in it through baptism.

The Mass began with Evening Vespers at Sunset followed by a procession into the Cathedral for Mass, which was concelebrated by Fr. Peter Towsley, Episcopal Delegate to Ecclesial Movements.

Seven bonfires were lit during the Vespers Service and prayers were said in seven languages reflecting the diversity of Bridgeport area parishioners.

Fr. Frank Gomez, Pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Bridgeport, served as Episcopal Master of Ceremonies.

Click to listen to Bishop Caggiano’s homily


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

Trinity Catholic High School conducts “Distractology” program
| May 12, 2016


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STAMFORD—Trinity Catholic High School, under the supervision of Dave Chiappetta, conducted a “Distractology” program for all TCHS students who have a learners permit and/or have been driving for under three years.



Hosted by Bearingstar Insurance Agency, this special training for teens aims to end the distracted driving epidemic. The program, funded by the Arbella Insurance Foundation, creates better, safer drivers with a mobile simulator trailer, which engaged drivers in hands-on, real-world, distracted driving scenarios like spilling a drink in your lap, fiddling with the radio, and texting while driving—all which cause real-world accidents.

May is a significant month for this type of program since high school students have a whirl of proms, graduations and parties coming up. The simulator was on the TCHS campus May 2 through May 6.


St. Vincent's College Presents Distinguished Alumni Award to Shelton Resident Ann Ballas
| May 12, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—St. Vincent’s College is pleased to announce this year’s Distinguished Alumni of the Year, Ann Ballas, RN, CRN, Class of 1981. A resident of Shelton, Conn., Ann was presented the award during the Annual Alumni Day Cocktail Reception.


President Gargano congratulates Ann Ballas, RN, CRN

A quote from her nomination sums up why she is this year’s Distinguished Alumni of the Year, “Ann is one of the most humanitarian people I have ever met; St. Vincent himself would agree that Ann truly embodies his mission.”

This award is presented to an alumnus who acts as role model for excellence in the field of healthcare and demonstrates the underlying attributes of St. Vincent de Paul. These attributes emphasize compassion, a generous spirit, fidelity, respect, gentleness in attitude, and advocacy for the poor.

Ann began her career at St. Vincent’s Medical Center as a nurse’s aide with the float staff while attending St. Vincent’s School of Nursing. After earning her RN degree, Ballas joined St. Vincent’s Radiology Department, where today she leads a team of nurses and acts as a liaison between the department and the nursing units. Her dedication to this role is evidenced by the national certification she has achieved in this specialty. Ann is described as the “heart and soul” of the interventional radiology department. She is the “go to person” for anything that relates to radiology for the hospital.

In 2010 Ann received the St. Vincent’s Medical Center Employee of the Year award. She has been an employee at the Medical Center for over 30 years and is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN).

“Ann is a shining example of the foundation a St. Vincent’s College education provides and we are so proud to call her one of our own,” stated Dr. Michael Gargano, Jr., president, St. Vincent’s College.


Pentecost Vigil set for Saturday Night at the Cathedral
| May 12, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Hundreds of faithful are expected to fill St. Augustine Cathedral this Saturday, 7:30 pm (May 14) for the Vigil of Pentecost Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano. All are welcome to attend.


The evening will begin with Evening Vespers at Sunset followed by a procession into the Cathedral for Mass, which will be concelebrated by Fr. Peter Towsley, Episcopal Delegate to Ecclesial Movements.
 
Seven bonfires will be lit during the Vespers Service and prayers will be said in seven languages reflecting the diversity of Bridgeport area parishioners.
 
Fr. Frank Gomez, Pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Bridgeport, will serve as Episcopal Master of Ceremonies.
 
Thomas J. Marino, Organist for St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan, is serving as Music Director of the Liturgy. Marjorie Donalds of St. Mary Church in Greenwich will serve as Cantor.
 
The Knights & Dames of Malta and the Knights of Columbus will present the gifts.


How a visit to New Covenant Center changed a sixth grader’s mindset
| May 12, 2016 • by By ELLEN McGINNESS


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GREENWICH—After walking several blocks down Greenwich Avenue on a rainy spring night, I see bright light glowing from Le Pain Quotidien.


The cafe is packed with middle school students, their friends, and parents. I’ve come to find Simon H, a sixth grader at the Whitby School in Greenwich. I don’t know what he looks like or where he is in the crowd. But I do know that as part of a social awareness project, Simon visited New Covenant Center (NCC), a Catholic Charities’ soup kitchen and pantry in Stamford.

The project, called “Photo Voice,” is a participatory action research engagement for which the students are required to scope the landscape of their community and take photographs of things they see that stir a concern in them...concern that could ultimately lead to social action that changes the status quo.

While searching for a topic, Simon stumbled upon New Covenant Center’s website. His curiosity piqued, he asked his mother to take him to NCC to check it out. He admitted that originally he was just going through the motions of completing a school project by visiting NCC. But after touring the center, he started to feel differently.

“I got a lot more sympathy for the hungry and the homeless. I thought I could help and I was motivated to do something,” he explained.

In what way did the visit to New Covenant Center change Simon’s mindset? Small things made the biggest impact. “It made me think about what I valued in life, and what I have that I sometimes take for granted. Like the shower I take in the morning, I enjoy it a lot, and I started to think what it would be like to not have a shower every day.”

But can a 12 year-old really make a difference when it comes to social concerns? Simon thinks...it depends.

“If you’re a 12 year-old who thinks you want to change something but doesn’t go for it—you don’t email or call, etc.—then you don’t make a difference. But if you have the mindset that you are going to do something, and you are going to pursue it, then you can get something done. Even writing and passing out petitions can help. I thought I could help the hungry and the homeless, and I was empowered to make a change.”
 
(To learn more about New Covenant Center go to: www.newcovenantcenter.org; for the Whitby School visit www.whitbyschool.org.)


State budget cuts threaten transportation funding for Catholic school students
| May 10, 2016


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HARTFORD—The General Assembly submitted a budget adjustment bill this morning that cuts all funding for transportation of Catholic schools students across the state.


(photo from ctpost.com)

“It is my belief that our voice must be heard because to remain silent will be taken as an indication of our lack of concern or awareness regarding this issue that is so important for our students and schools,” said Michael C. Culhane, Executive Director of the Connecticut Catholic Conference.

Culhane is urging Catholics to contact Governor Malloy and members of the state legislature to ask them to restore the cuts.

“The State budget now under consideration eliminates State funds for the school busing that by law must be provided by local districts for both public and private school students, including our Catholic school students,” Culhane said.

Transportation assistance is vital for all our schools, and crucial to those that are struggling in the face of demographic and economic challenges, he said.

Working parents are often not in a position to provide or afford school transportation on their own. If the state budget eliminates funding for school transportation, there is a danger that local lawmakers may seek to change the state law that requires them to provide transportation for private school students.

“It should be kept in mind that as taxpayers the parents of Catholic school students have a right to expect some services for their children as other taxpayers do. As dedicated taxpayers, our parents depend on safe transportation services for their children,” he said.

On a related note, the State Senate unanimously passed a measure to extend a tax credit to include nonpublic school scholarships for lower income families. This inclusion would have had absolutely no fiscal impact on the State budget. The House, however, did not consider it for a vote.

While budget cuts are necessary, our elected leaders must defend mandatory transportation statutes and should increase revenue neutral educational opportunities.

If for no other reason, it is estimated that last year, Catholic school parents saved Connecticut taxpayers over $420 million. That is how much it would cost the state to educate the 24,000 children currently in Catholic schools.

For more information, contact the Connecticut Catholic Conference: http://ctcatholic.org/


Catholic Charities 100th Anniversary Mass
| May 08, 2016


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Charities brings a “Christ Perspective” to its work with the poor
NORWALK—“If we really believe in feeding the hungry and serving the least among us, why does Catholic Charities have to serve one million a year and provide 15,000 counseling sessions” Fr. Reggie Norman asked in his homily at the Mass celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Bridgeport.


Almost 400 friends of Catholic Charities turned out at St. Matthew Church for the Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano. He was joined on the altar by Msgr. William Scheyd, Msgr. Walter Orlowski, Fr. Robert Kinnally, Father Sunil Pereira, I.M.S. and Msgr. Peter Cullen.

Fr. Norman, who is pastor of Our lady of Fatima Parish in Wilton and Vice Chair of the Priest Advisory Council of the Annual Catholic Appeal, said that society shouldn’t blame people for their poverty or simply try to put a band-aid on the wounds of human suffering.

“We need a Christ perspective,” said Fr. Norman in his reflection of the Gospel of Matthew. “We worship a God who is entangled in the suffering of humanity, and he invites us to join our love to his love.”

Noting that over one billion people live on less than $2 a day and have inadequate access to fresh water, Fr. Norman said that “Christ is mysteriously present in those who need help,” and people need to move beyond their comfort zones.

“The reason whey the world is in chaos is that things are being loved, and people are being used,” said Fr. Norman. “In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that we will be judged by how we treat the least among us.”

“Sometimes we call people who live in a different zip code—if they have one at all—marginalized. But we should stop calling them that. They are our brothers an sisters,” he said.

Fr. Norman quoted Horace Mann, “Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves,” and the spiritual author, Matthew Kelly, “You can’t become more like Jesus Christ if at the same time, you stay as you are.”

At the end of Mass Bishop Caggiano praised Al Barber, President of Catholic Charities, for “putting the mission of Catholic Charities at the center of his life,” and for his compassion in dealing with the poor.

Referring to the 100-year history of Catholic Charities, Bishop Caggiano said the agency “stands on the shoulders of giants, whose names have receded” while the mission continues in the present. Urging people to remain committed to the mission, he said, “Others to come in the future will stand on our shoulders.”

“In a society that wants to turn its back on those who live in the shadows, Catholic Charities speaks for those who have no voice. Where else would they get help if not from us doing what we do in the name of Jesus Christ.”?

Thirty members of the Diocesan Youth Choir sang throughout the liturgy including a beautiful version of “Ave Maria” as a meditation hymn following Communion.

Deacon Patrick Toole of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull served as Master of Ceremonies for the Mass. Catholic Charities board members Bill Tommins and Jon Vaccarella did the readings, and Anne McCrory, Chief Legal Officer of the diocese read the Prayer of the Faithful. The Knights of Columbus formed an Honor Guard, and members of The Order of Malta led the procession.

A reception following Mass was held in the Great Room of the parish had the feeling of a large family reunion with Catholic Charities board members, staff, volunteers and donors coming together to celebrate the 100th Anniversary.

For more info on Catholic Charities of Fairfield County, visit www.ccfairfield.org
Also see: More information on the CCFC 100th Anniversary Celebration and 2016 Calendar of Events

Watch video from the MassRead the transcript of Father Reggie's homily


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

Inaugural Dinner raises over $300,000 for Foundations in Education
| May 07, 2016


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DARIEN—More than 250 people turned out on Friday night at Wee Burn Country Club for the inaugural Foundations in Education Dinner, which raised over $300,000 to support Catholic education in the Diocese of Bridgeport.


“This is an historic event in the life of the Diocese,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano. “You are now partners in a venture that will enable our schools to remain on the cutting edge of innovation in the 2lst century.”

The Bishop said the goal of the new Foundations “is not simply to raise funds to face financial challenges but for innovation transformation and growth of our schools for years ahead.”

“The new philanthropic Foundations in Education will make resources available to train, form, and support our teachers, principals and administrators, so that they have the knowledge they need to bring our schools into the future,” said the Bishop.

It was a night of powerful personal testimony about the ability of Catholic schools to change lives and create opportunity for students.

George Irish, retired President of Hearst Newspapers and Vice President and Easter Director of the Hearst Foundations, discussed his own Catholic boyhood in the 1950’s and said that families today “are under pressure” and many cannot afford the cost of Catholic education without financial assistance.

Irish said the real narrative of Catholic education is not that schools are closing but that there continues to be a strong demand and enthusiasm for the schools on the part of Catholics and even those who are members of another faith.

“The miracle of Catholic education is that it makes a difference in lives of students across the globe.”

Irish said that in his work on the Inner City Foundation for New York Catholic Schools, he has seen that many non-Catholics are coming forward to contribute because they believe in the “remarkable value” Catholic schools bring to society.

Roderick Ricketts, a Physical Education teacher at Kolbe Cathedral High School in Bridgeport, delivered the most powerful testimony of the evening when he said that Catholic education saved him from the life of the streets.

His talk was interrupted several times by applause from the audience when he discussed being overcome by the loss of his brother to street violence in Bridgeport, and his struggles to remain in school.

Ricketts, who is married and the father of six children, said he was the first in his family to earn a college degree, and he credited his mother’s personal sacrifice and the generosity of donors for helping to make that possible.

He also praised the family atmosphere he found at Kolbe High School for helping him to move on in life and become a teacher.

“Now I strive to be a role model,” he said. “I’m very thankful. I don’t know where I’d be without Catholic education. It really changed my life.”

CNBC senior correspondent Larry Kudlow, who served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening, said that Catholic education gives students a “language of the head, language of the heart and language of hands” that shapes them “in the image of Christ, who is the center and focus of Catholic schools.

In his concluding remarks the Bishop said that the new Foundations in Education will help make his dreams for Catholic education in the diocese become a reality.

“Every school will be fully enrolled. It will have the funds it needs for innovation, and not a single children who desires a Catholic education will be denied because he or she does not have the means to make that happen,” he said.

Members of the Foundations in Education Board include: The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, Fifth Bishop of Bridgeport; Robert L. Dilenschneider, founder and chairman of The Dilenschneider Group, a global public relations and communications consulting firm headquartered in New York City; R. Bradford Evans is a Senior Advisor of Morgan Stanley; John C. Eppolito retired IBM executive who served as IBM’s Director of Finance for the Small and Medium Business unit for Latin America; Larry Kudlow, CEO of Kudlow & Co., LLC, an economic research firm, and noted CNBC’s Senior Contributor; Ned C. Lautenbach, Chair of the Independent Trustees of the Equity and High Income Funds of Fidelity Investments, and currently the Lead Director of the Board of Directors of Eaton Corporation.

Daniel J. McCarthy, President and Chief Executive Officer of Frontier Communications; Thomas E. McInerney, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Bluff Point Associates, a private equity firm based in Westport, Connecticut; Dr. Julia M. McNamara, President of Albertus Magnus College and Vice Chair of the Yale New Haven Health Services Corporation; Bernard E. Reidy, Managing Director and National Philanthropic Sales Executive for U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management; Gerard D. Robilotti, President of Robilotti Consulting, which specializes in health care management, finance, operations, medical education and government; Joseph D. Roxe, chairman of Bay Holdings LLC and The Roxe Foundation. He was previously a Senior Vice President, Director, and Chief Financial Officer of Johnson & Higgins, the world’s largest private insurance broker at the time.

There are twenty-four schools serving students in grades PK-8 and five high school, serving more than 9,000 students in Fairfield County. For more information on Foundations in Education, contact Siobhan Lidington at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call: 203.416.1405.


Click to read speech by George Irish of Hearst Foundations


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Remembrance is “a Sacred Duty,” Bishop says at Holocaust Commemoration
| May 06, 2016


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FAIRFIELD—The mood was somber, the words heartfelt and healing, and the music and candle lighting ceremony were transcendent at the 33rd Holocaust Commemoration Ceremony held last night in Fairfield.


More than 300 people filled First Congregational Church for the annual interfaith commemoration that included holocaust survivors and their families.

“This is one of the most somber and important nights in the life of the community,” said Rev. David Spollett of the First Congregational Church, “We come hear to bear witness, to give testimony, and to commit to ourselves that we will never forget.”

In his invocation for the evening Rabbi Marcelo Kormis of Congregation Beth El, said that some lives and times are blessed while in other times such as the Holocaust, “People must walk through the valley of the shadows of death.”

“Help us to recall their lives and their destruction, and to bring us to the sacred place of memory,” the Rabbi said.

The Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport, the first non-Holocaust survivor to give the main address, told the gathering that it isn’t enough to simply remember the Holocaust as an historical event.

“The act of remembering is a sacred duty,” he said. “We are a society in grave danger if we forget the evil of the past.”

The bishop began his talk by recalling the stunned silence that filled a theater in Brooklyn long after the credits rolled on the movie, Schindler’s List. The Bishop told the gathering that his elderly mother had asked him to take her and that he was deeply moved by her reaction.

He said that they were the last to leave the theater and that when his mother broke the silence between them, she said in Italian, “We must never forget.”

The bishop said that the movie’s depiction “of a small sliver of the larger horror o the Holocaust forever changed her life and my life.”

The bishop quotes Saint Pope John Paul II on his March 23 2000 visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.

“Pope John Paul II said ‘In this place of memory, our mind, hearts and soul feels and extreme need for silence.’ No words are strong enough to recall those who were stripped of human dignity and murdered in the Holocaust.”

The bishop said that on a commemorative evening it is important “to clear the noise that fills our ordinary lives” and to reject all forms of anti-Semitism, bigotry and hatred.

He said the “survivors in our midst here tonight give us courage in our own troubled times,, and inspire us to form a collective conscience that says to the world ‘Never, ever again!’”

The bishop said the best way to honor Holocaust victims and the survivors “is stand free of darkness and stand together in the light that calls each of us to the greater good that we are meant to be in our lives. “

Music for the commemoration was provided by The Fairfield Warde High School Chamber Orchestra and the Chamber Singers of the Fairfield County Children’s Choir.

The powerful candle lighting ceremony included the reading of the names of the death camps and the names of local survivors.

At the end of the ceremony the Holocaust survivors processed out down the center aisle of the Church. Some relied on walkers and canes. They were accompanied by second-generation family members.


Youth Ministry Formation Day This Weekend
| May 05, 2016


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DARIEN—Priests, Directors of Religions Education (DRE’s), youth ministers, catechists, core team members, and youth ministry volunteers will gather for the inaugural Bridgeport Youth Ministry Formation Day on Saturday, May 7 at Saint John Parish, 1986 Post Road in Darien from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


Bob Rice, Professor of Catechetics and Youth Ministry at Franciscan University of Steubenville, will give the keynote address. He is an internationally known speaker, acclaimed musician, inspirational teacher, and innovative writer.

“Bob lives in Steubenville, Ohio with his wife Jennifer and seven beautiful children. He desires to share the love of God using every talent he has been blessed with,” said Evan Psencik, Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Formation.

The day will include three rounds of workshops covering the following topics:

  • An Organic Comprehensive Ministry to Youth
  • Dynamic and Effective Catechesis
  • Incarnational Ministry
  • Teaching Young People How to Pray
  • The Art of Accompaniment and Youth Ministry
  • Strategies in Youth Ministry
  • Helping Youth Transition to Young Adulthood

The cost is $25.00 per person and includes lunch and numerous ministry resources. Register online at http://www.bridgeportdiocese.org/faith-formation/formation-day.

For more information please contact Evan Psencik - Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Formation at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) .


Mueller Family Schola to sing at World Youth Day
| May 04, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Among the hundreds of thousands of Catholics worldwide who will converge on the city of Krakow in Poland for World Youth Day 2016, one Connecticut family will be playing a unique role.


Chris and Constanza Mueller (pronounced “Miller”) are known to many Catholics in the Diocese of Bridgeport through Chris’s years of work as Organist and Choirmaster at the Basilica of St. John in Stamford. They have become known to many more through their singing, together with their children Christina, 12; Michael Gabriel, 10; and Raphael, 7, at liturgies throughout the diocese, including this past Christmas at the Cathedral of St. Augustine in Bridgeport.

This ensemble, officially billed as the Mueller Family Schola, has earned another name; as Constanza tells it, “A friend called us ‘the polyphony family’ and we went with it! We feel blessed to be united in harmony—it is a true joy! We practice every day, and we hope our music will inspire others. Singing together helps to bond as a family, and the sense of closeness we experience is a real blast!”

Which might lead to the question: What is polyphony? As Chris describes it, “Polyphony is music which grew organically out of chant, as people started singing chant lines simultaneously at different pitch levels, and then began ornamenting the melodic pitch and/or varying the underlying rhythms. Once composers began writing such music down, polyphony blossomed."

Then as now, the joy which stems from this is contagious. “Our rehearsals feature joyful singing and thrilling harmonies—which focus our concentration—and sometimes, unexpectedly, burst into play!", Constanza says.
But now, the polyphony family is closing in on a new horizon—in Poland.

Chris explains: “I have been asked to conduct the music at all the English-language weekday Masses at World Youth Day. There will be five of these daily Masses, and polyphony and chant will be sung at every one. Imagine setting a sort-of liturgical template, at a Mass attended by thousands of young adults from around the English-speaking world!”

Diocesan WYD coordinator John Grosso was pleased to hear of Chris Mueller’s role in Krakow. “I’ve lived in Stamford for many years, and while the Basilica isn’t my parish, I remember hearing and enjoying Chris’s music while he was still there. I’m sure many of our pilgrims will attend at least some of those English-language site weekday Masses.”

Yet this does not even begin to describe the scope of the family’s hopes for Poland. The Muellers are planning to offer a concert of their own sung polyphony, offering beauty and inspiration to young Catholics of all language groups attending the event—young Catholics, it should be added, who for the most part are by no means so young as the three Mueller children. As Constanza says, “We are working a lot with youth—they pray, talk together, and inspire each other to grow the desire for polyphony and chant in the Mass.”

Chris adds, “We have begun a ‘Mustard Seeds’ initiative through social media, reaching out to young people of high school and college age worldwide, to stir up a desire in them for polyphony and chant at their own parish Masses. We know that some of our participants will be attending World Youth Day, and we’ll have an in-person Mustard Seeds gathering there in Krakow—our first international event!”

Furthermore, the family hopes through the events of World Youth Day to promote the work of the Christopher Mueller Foundation for Polyphony and Chant, a “new organization, whose primary purpose is to assist any person, group, or institution that desires polyphony and chant in the Roman Catholic Mass,” as Chris explains. The use of his own name, Chris adds, not only offers truth in advertising to would-be collaborators, but puts a living name and face on a genre frequently, and mistakenly, consigned to a distant past.

“Our foundation was born,” Constanza adds, “out of the witness of countless lay people who told us that through the beauty of polyphony and chant at Mass, they felt lifted to love God, to experience His Infinity. So many wish that they had that kind of beauty in their own local parish.”

The family is still engaged in raising the funds necessary for Constanza and the children to accompany Chris to Krakow; those wishing to support their efforts may contribute through the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1955319451/the-polyphony-family-at-world-youth-day

Videos of the “polyphony family” (Mueller Family Schola) may be found on their YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnnx3x5aHkCg9Z4OCZRMIgg

More about Chris Mueller’s music can be found on his personal website: www.benesonarium.com


Pope: Straying from Jesus turns Christians into ‘spiritual mummies’
| May 03, 2016


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VATICAN CITY—Christians distracted from the path set out by Jesus can turn into decrepit “spiritual mummies,” Pope Francis said at his morning Mass.


A girl hugs Pope Francis as he visits a Catholic Charities’ meals program
in Washington last September. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Spiritual mummies stray from the path of Christian life by choosing to stand still “not doing evil, but not doing good” either, the pope said May 3 in his homily during Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

“A Christian who doesn’t walk, who doesn’t move on the path, is a ‘non-Christian’ Christian. No one knows what he is. He is a bit of a ‘paganized’ Christian; he’s there, he’s still, but he doesn’t go forward in Christian life. The Beatitudes do not flourish in his life; he does not do the works of mercy; he is still,” the pope said.

The day’s Gospel reading was Jesus’ discourse during the Last Supper in which he tells his disciples that he is “the way, the truth and the life.”

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father,” Jesus said.

The pope said there are two types of Christians who fail in following the true path: those who are stubborn and those who wander like vagabonds.

Stubborn Christians tend to believe they know the path and “do not allow the voice of the Lord to tell them: ‘Go back and take the right path,'” he said. On the other hand, vagabond Christians walk around aimlessly in circles and are easily distracted by worldly vanities.

“There are others who on the path are seduced by something beautiful and they stop midway; fascinated by what they see—by this idea, by that proposal, by that landscape—and they stop! Christian life is not something charming: it is a truth! It is Jesus Christ!” he said.

Pope Francis called on the faithful to reflect on whether they have strayed from the path of Christian life laid out in the Beatitudes and the works of mercy. Although Jesus’ path leads to the cross, it is also ‘”full of consolations” and “peace in the soul.”

“Let us ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to walk well (on this path), always! And when we tire, (to give us) a little refreshment to go forward. Let us ask for this grace,” the pope said.


The peacemaking legacy of Daniel Berrigan, S.J.
| May 02, 2016


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BRONX—Daniel Berrigan, the Jesuit priest and acclaimed poet who for decades famously challenged U.S. Catholics to reject war and nuclear weapons, died on April 30 at the Murray-Weigel Jesuit Community in the Bronx, New York. He was 94. He was a Jesuit for 76 years and a priest for 63 years.


Berrigan undoubtedly stands among the most influential American Jesuits of the past century, joining the likes of John Courtney Murray and Avery Dulles. Priest, poet, retreat master, teacher, peace activist, friend and mentor, he is the author of more than 50 books on Scripture, spirituality and resistance to war.

Berrigan received the Campion Award from America in 1988.

A literary giant in his own right, Berrigan was best known for his dramatic acts of civil disobedience against the Vietnam War and nuclear weapons. He burned draft files with homemade napalm and later hammered on nuclear weapons to enact the Isaiah prophecy to “beat swords into plowshares.” His actions challenged Americans and Catholics to reexamine their relationship with the state and reject militarism. He constantly asked himself and others: What does the Gospel demand of us?

“For me, Father Daniel Berrigan is Jesus as a poet,” Kurt Vonnegut wrote. “If this be heresy, make the most of it.”

Daniel J. Berrigan was born on May 9, 1921, in Virginia, Minn., the fifth of six boys, and grew up on a farm near Syracuse, N.Y.

At age 18, Berrigan entered the New York Province of the Society of Jesus with a close childhood friend after receiving a matter-of-fact brochure about the Jesuits’ rigorous training program. At the time, he knew no Jesuits. It was “an act of faith on both sides,” he later wrote. “Not a bad arrangement.”

During his first teaching assignment, at St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, N.J., in the late 1940s, Berrigan brought students across the Hudson to introduce them to the Catholic Worker. They often attended the “clarification of thought” meetings on Friday evenings, when speakers addressed topics of importance to the young Catholic movement. There he met Dorothy Day.

“Dorothy Day taught me more than all the theologians,” Berrigan told The Nation in 2008. “She awakened me to connections I had not thought of or been instructed in—the equation of human misery and poverty with warmaking. She had a basic hope that God created the world with enough for everyone, but there was not enough for everyone and warmaking.”

After being ordained a priest on June 19, 1952, Berrigan went to France for a year of studies and ministry, the final stage of Jesuit formation, and was influenced by the Worker Priest movement. Berrigan professed final vows on the Feast of the Assumption in 1956.

Berrigan taught French and philosophy at Brooklyn Preparatory School from 1954 to 1957, won the prestigious Lamont Poetry Prize in 1957 for his first book of poetry, Time Without Number and then taught New Testament at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y.

In 1963, Berrigan embarked on a year of travel, spending time in France, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rome, South Africa and the Soviet Union. He encountered despair among French Jesuits related to the situation of Indochina, as the United States ramped up military involvement in Vietnam.

Berrigan returned home in 1964 convinced that the war in Vietnam “could only grow worse.” So he began, he later wrote, “as loudly as I could, to say ‘no’ to the war…. There would be simply no turning back.”

He co-founded the Catholic Peace Fellowship and the interfaith group Clergy and Laity Concerned about Vietnam, whose leaders included Martin Luther King Jr., Richard John Neuhaus and Abraham Joshua Heschel.

Berrigan regularly corresponded with Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day and William Stringfellow, among others. He also made annual trips to the Abbey of Gethsemani, Merton’s home, to give talks to the Trappist novices.

In Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (1966), Merton described Berrigan as “an altogether winning and warm intelligence and a man who, I think, has more than anyone I have ever met the true wide-ranging and simple heart of the Jesuit: zeal, compassion, understanding, and uninhibited religious freedom. Just seeing him restores one’s hope in the Church.”

A dramatic year of assassinations and protests that shook the conscience of America, 1968 also proved to be a watershed year for Berrigan. In February, he flew to Hanoi, North Vietnam, with the historian Howard Zinn and assisted in the release of three captured U.S. pilots. On their first night in Hanoi, they awoke to an air-raid siren and U.S. bombs and had to find shelter.

As the United States continued to escalate the war, Berrigan worried that conventional protests had little chance of influencing government policy. His brother, Philip, then a Josephite priest, had already taken a much greater risk: In October 1967, he broke into a draft board office in Baltimore and poured blood on the draft files.
Undeterred at the looming legal consequences, Philip planned another draft board action and invited his younger brother to join him. Daniel agreed.

On May 17, 1968, the Berrigan brothers joined seven other Catholic peace activists in Catonsville, Md., where they took several hundreds of draft files from the local draft board and set them on fire in a nearby parking lot, using homemade napalm. Napalm is a flammable liquid that was used extensively by the United States in Vietnam.

Daniel said in a statement, “Our apologies, good friends, for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children, the angering of the orderlies in the front parlor of the charnel house. We could not, so help us God, do otherwise.”

Berrigan was tried and convicted for the action. When it came time for sentencing, however, he went underground and evaded the Federal Bureau of Investigation for four months.

“I knew I would be apprehended eventually,” he told America in an interview in 2009, “but I wanted to draw attention for as long as possible to the Vietnam War and to Nixon’s ordering military action in Cambodia.”

The F.B.I. finally apprehended him on Block Island, R.I., at the home of theologian William Stringfellow, in August 1970. He spent 18 months in Danbury federal prison, during which he and Philip appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

The brothers, lifelong recidivists, were far from finished.

On September 9, 1980, Daniel and Philip joined seven others in busting into the General Electric missile plant in King of Prussia, Pa., where they hammered on an unarmed nuclear weapon—the first Plowshares action. They faced 10 years in prison for the action but were sentenced to time served.

In his courtroom testimony at the Plowshares trial, Berrigan described his daily confrontation with death as he accompanied the dying at St. Rose Cancer Home in New York City. He said the Plowshares action was connected with this ministry of facing death and struggling against it. In 1984, he began working at St. Vincent’s Hospital, New York City, where he ministered to men and women with H.I.V.-AIDS.

“It’s terrible for me to live in a time where I have nothing to say to human beings except, ‘Stop killing,’” he explained at the Plowshares trial. “There are other beautiful things that I would love to be saying to people.”

In 1997 he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Berrigan’s later years were devoted to Scripture study, writing, giving retreats, correspondence with friends and admirers, mentorship of young Jesuits and peace activists, and being an uncle to two generations of Berrigans. He published several biblical commentaries that blended scholarship with pastoral reflection and poetic wit.

“Berrigan is evidently incapable of writing a prosaic sentence,” biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann wrote in a review of Berrigan’s Genesis (2006). “He imitates his creator with his generative word that calls forth linkages and incongruities and opens spaces that bewilder and dazzle and summon the reader.”

From 1976 to 2012, Berrigan was a member of the West Side Jesuit Community, later the Thompson Street Jesuit Community, in New York City. During those years, he helped lead the Kairos Community, a group of friends and activists dedicated to Scripture study and nonviolent direct action.

Even as an octogenarian, Berrigan continued to protest, turning his attention to the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the prison in Guantánamo Bay and the Occupy Wall Street movement. Friends remember Berrigan as courageous and creative in love, a person of integrity who was willing to pay the price, a beacon of hope and a sensitive and caring friend.

“I owe him my heart, my life and vocation,” Bill Wylie-Kellermann, pastor of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Detroit, writes of Berrigan. “In a century, how many souls on this sweet and beset old planet has Berrigan called to life in the Gospel? How many deeds of resurrection? How many hearts so indebted?”
Luke Hansen, S.J., a former associate editor of America, is a student at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, Berkeley, Calif.

For more: Man of Peace: Recalling the life and legacy of Daniel Berrigan; Daniel Berrigan's ‘Ten Commandments’ by James Martin; Fugitives From Injustice by James T. Keane; Living with Dan Berrigan by George M. Anderson; Growing Up Berrigan by George M. Anderson; Slideshow: Dan Berrigan and the Peace Movement.


Religious Women pitch in at Habitat House
| May 01, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—A group of Religious Women throughout the diocese spent a day working on the Pope Francis Habitat House on Saturday, helping to put the finishing touches as the house nears completion.


The home, at 51 George Street, is in the shadows of St. Augustine Cathedral and the new owners, the Zepeda family, are members of the Cathedral Parish.

The Sisters worked on the yard clean up, cleared away construction debris and stained the back porch over the weekend

“They did a great job,” said Donna Spigarolo, a member of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Fairfield and a longtime Habitat volunteer, is serving as coordinator of the effort.

“We hope to have the family moving in by late June and we’re very grateful for the support of the Sister and all of those who have helped with this project.”

The home is being built in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County. Bishop Frank Caggiano gave his blessing to the project last May and encouraged parishes to participate with volunteer help and contributions.

The diocese adopted the Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County house project in recognition of the visit of Pope Francis to the United States last September and his call to serve the poor and homeless.

She said a second group of Religious Women will be working on May 21st which is the dedication day for the home.

St. Anthony's Parish recently sponsored a "Broadway in the Basement" evening to reach its parish goal in support of the project. Funds and volunteer work have also been provided by schools, parishes and service groups in the area.

Marlon and Magaly Zepeda and their children, along with Magaly’s mother, Milagros, who is a severe asthmatic, will live in the home when it’s completed. In addition to working as volunteers during the project, the couple will purchase the four-bedroom home.

To make a contribution to the project, call Donna Spigarolo at 203.556.4728, or email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


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Catholic bishop to speak at town’s Holocaust commemoration
| May 01, 2016 • by By Genevieve Reilly from ctpost.com


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FAIRFIELD—In contrast to the past 32 Holocaust commemorations organized by the town, this year’s keynote speaker has no direct connection to the Nazi campaign to exterminate Jews during the World War II era.


The speaker is not a survivor, or the child of a survivor. He’s not a historian. He’s not even, like one year’s keynoter, the child of an SS officer.

But Bishop Frank Caggiano, leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, was the overwhelming choice of the event’s planning committee to speak at the gathering.

“I learned that many of our survivors had heard the bishop speak at B’nai Israel” congregation in Bridgeport, said Josh Zabin, a captain in the Police Department and co-chairman, along with the Rev. Charles Allen, of the Holocaust Commemoration Committee. “They were overwhelmed, and they thought he would be a wonderful, dynamic speaker.”

The Holocaust Commemoration will be held at 7:30 p.m. May 5 at First Church Congregational, 148 Beach Road.

Allen himself was at that presentation by the bishop at Congregation B’Nai Israel, which marked the 50th anniversary of Nostra aetate — Latin for “In our time” — the declaration on the relationship of the Catholic church with non-Christian faiths adopted by second Vatican Council in 1965.

“If you know Bishop Caggiano, he’s a wonderful public speaker, and he did a superb job,” Allen said. After the talk, he said, Caggiano and Rabbi James Prosnit held a question-and-answer session with the audience. “They worked together so beautifully,” he said.

Zabin said as the committee was considering who to invite to speak at this year’s program, it was after Ciaggano spoke at the synagogue that he began to hear committee members suggest that the bishop would be an excellent choice.

Even with Jewish and Catholic co-chairmen, Zabin said, having a Catholic bishop as the keynote speaker for a Holocaust commemoration “is very unique.”

“We’ve had all these different types, all these diverse speakers,” Zabin said. “This really is going to be the most diverse. We all look forward to hearing his reflections.”

Allen said the choice of Caggiano fits nicely into what he said he has always considered a town commemoration that strives to include everyone. Not only are he and Zabin of different faiths, he noted, the event itself has traditionally been hosted by First Church Congregational.

The topic of Caggiano’s address will be, “We Must Never Forget.” The event, which is free and open to the public, will include musical selections performed by the Fairfield Warde High School Ensemble and the Fairfield County Children’s Choir. A reception will follow.

For more information, visit www.fairfieldholocaustcommemoration.org or the group’s Facebook page, Fairfield Holocaust Commemoration.


New “Week in Review” Video
| April 29, 2016


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Click to watch video.

BRIDGEPORT—Diocesan Social Media Leader John Grosso has introduced a new “Around the Diocese” video to the diocesan Facebook and YouTube pages.


The inaugural video offers a 60-second week in review that begins with a video clip from “Lift Every Voice,” the triumphant second appearance of the Diocesan Youth Choir in their beautiful Spring concert held at St. Luke Church in Westport.

The video also walks through a pilot project of the new Catholic Service Corps, the outreach of St. Mary’s Parish in Bridgeport to families affected by the earthquake in Ecuador, and the appearance of notable Christian Contemporary singer/songwriter John Michael Talbot at St. Jude Parish in Monroe.


Bridgeport parish donating to Ecuador quake victims
| April 28, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—The members of St. Mary's Parish in Bridgeport showed their support today for the victims of the earthquake in Ecuador.


Organizers are gathering donations to help those affected by the devastating quake on April 16.

The pastor says they need baby diapers, baby formula, and bug repellent.

A truck will be coming Thursday to pick up the items and ship them to Ecuador.

Click here to watch a video from News 12 Connecticut.


St. Joseph Elementary School fifth grader wins State Spelling Bee Championship!
| April 28, 2016


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SHELTON—St. Joseph Elementary School fifth grader, Demi Adeniran, won the State Spelling Championship contest, held April 23 at St. Mary’s Parish center in New Haven.


The process of getting to the State contest: The CT State Council, Knights of Columbus sponsored the annual CT Catholic Schools Spelling Bee for fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students. St. Joseph School conducted their own contest at each grade level and then submitted the names of the winners and runner-up to the Council at the local level. Demi Adeniran won in his Grade 5 division.
 
Word lists were then provided to the contestants to study for the next round—the regionals. Demi advanced to the regionals and won again! From there he was eligible to compete in the State Championship Contest, which he won by spelling many challenging words; “humiliate” was the winning word.
 
Principal Stephen Anderson stated, “Demi is a good speller because he reads extensively. In response to our school-wide ‘100 Book Reading Challenge’ Demi has already completed 120 books.”  
 
St. Joseph School is proud of Demi’s accomplishment, particularly since there were so many other Catholic schools participating. He received a certificate and also a plaque inscribed with “Grade 5 State Spelling Bee Champion.”
 
(For more info on St. Joseph School, contact Stephen Anderson, principal: 203.924.4669.)


Honoring their patron saint
| April 28, 2016


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STRATFORD—Students in grades K-8 at St. Mark School assembled in the church to honor the feast day of their patron saint.


The students had learned that St. Mark is thought to be a young follower of Jesus, even though he was not one of the original Apostles. He may have been the man who carried water to the house where the Last Supper took place (Mark 14:13) and tradition identifies him with John Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. St. Peter took Mark with him as a travel companion and interpreter, and Mark wrote down the sermons of St. Peter, forming the basis for his Gospel.

St. Mark later became the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt, and is honored as the founder of Christianity in Africa. His feast day is celebrated on April 25. His symbol is the winged lion, the Lion of Saint Mark.


SHU students impact lives in Colombia
| April 28, 2016


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FAIRFIELD—During Spring Break, 11 students from Sacred Heart University traveled to Bogota Colombia with Rise and Walk Foundation.


They were joined by director of volunteer services Matthew Kaye and four members of the Board of Rise and Walk Foundation.

The students interacted with the beneficiary families and their children, taking them on field trips and doing home visits. They did a makeover project and changed the life of single mother and her four children. The students painted, and renovated the small restaurant business which is the only source of income for this family.  The children got new beds, desks and the mother got a new stove and all the supplies necessary for her to support her children.

“Spring break suntans fade but this experience will last a lifetime,” said one of the students.


St. Matthew Knights spring into action with garden clean up at Notre Dame Convalescent Home
| April 28, 2016


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NORWALK—The continuing relationship between Knights of Colombus St. Matthew Council #14360 and Notre Dame Convalescent Home was on display on Saturday, April 16, when the Knights helped out with some projects on the home’s grounds.




As in past years, grounds keeping included adding fresh mulch to some shrub areas on the outside grounds, power washing, furniture moving and touch up painting.

It is the beginning of an important Capital Improvement plan for the facility on 76 West Rocks Road in Norwalk. The major project from the plan is the renovation of the front entrance way. It will be an automatic sliding door system, which will provide better accessibility and safety for the residents.

“Helping Notre Dame is one of the many things that make it so worth being a Knight of Columbus,” said Grand Knight George Ribellino. “Sister Lucie and Sister Francis are always so appreciative of the work we can provide for them.” On this day Ribellino, Scott Criscuolo, George’s daughter Mia, and fellow Knights Tim Horne, Anthony Cossuto, former Grand Knight Mike Colaluca, Lee Pino and AJ Cossuto helped lay mulch down around the outside grounds, power washed the statues, moved some furniture into storage and did some touch up painting around the inside of the facility. Cossuto, who owns AJ’s Landscaping, donated the mulch and one of his dedicated workers to come on a Saturday and help out.

During a break in the work, the council attended a Mass with residents of the home. The Mass was officiated by Father Paul Sankar. Also in attendance was former pastor of St. Matthew’s, Msgr. Joseph Kohut, who is current resident of the home.

“Thank you for all the Knights’ hard work today on our premises,” said Sister Lucie Monast. “Know that we keep all of your council in our daily prayers.”

(Sister Lucie is tirelessly fundraising for the capital improvements. On May 19, NDCS will have a pasta supper sponsored by K of C Council 14360 at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish on 205 East Ave. The dinner is at 6:30 and cost is $20 for adults, $15 for kids 10 and under. For more info or reservations, contact Sister Lucie: 203.847.2885.)


Melkite Catholic Archbishop Jeanbart to visit St. Mary's in New Haven
| April 28, 2016


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NEW HAVEN—Melkite Catholic Archbishop Jean Clément Jeanbart of Aleppo, Syria, will speak on the genocide being waged against his people and the future of Christianity in the Middle East at St. Mary's Church, 5 Hillhouse Avenue, New Haven, on Sunday, May 1, at 6:30 pm


The event will be sponsored by St. Mary's Church and the Knights of Columbus, which is also based in New Haven, Conn. Admission is free and the public is invited to attend.

The largest city in Syria, Aleppo has been shattered by civil war and genocide at the hands of ISIS. In 2013, American aid worker Kayla Mueller was kidnapped by ISIS in Aleppo and killed while in their custody. Aleppo's Syriac Orthodox and Greek Orthodox archbishops were also kidnapped that same year and have not been heard from since.

"We have seen people killed, slaughtered, women violated, priests and bishops kidnapped, houses destroyed, churches and convents invaded," said Archbishop Jeanbart at the Knights' 2015 convention in Philadelphia. "We persist with the help of God."

The Knights of Columbus began its Christian Refugee Relief Fund in 2014 to aid persecuted Christians and other religious minorities, especially those in Iraq and Syria. To date, nearly $10 million has been raised to provide housing, food, medical aid, education and general relief.

A petition drive spearheaded by the Knights drew nearly 150,000 signatures and urged the State Department to declare that a genocide is being carried out against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.

Secretary of State John Kerry announced a declaration of genocide on March 17, one week after release of a nearly 300-page report—prepared by the Knights at the request of the State Department—that chronicled the evidence for a finding of genocide.

The Knights of Columbus was founded in 1882 at St. Mary's Church in New Haven by the Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney. It is today the world's largest Catholic fraternal organization with nearly 1.9 million members worldwide. The Knights donated more than $173.5 million and 71.5 million hours of service in 2014.


Boys and girls allstars!
| April 28, 2016


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WILTON—This year was the 9th annual Tyler Ugolyn tournament which ran from January 21st to February 5th at Our Lady of Fatima school in Wilton.



We had 45 teams from 11 schools within the diocese participate (about 500 basketball players). The  basketball tournament was named after Tyler Ugolyn who graduated from Our Lady of Fatima school in 1997 and tragically died during 9/11.

“Not only was he a great basketball player but he was a great person and a devout Catholic,” said Peter Rubsam of Our Lady of Fatima Parish.
     
Tyler went to Ridgefield High School where he became a member of the National Honor Society. He was a McDonald’s High School All-American Basketball Nominee, ranked as one of the top 250 seniors in the country, before deciding to attend Columbia where he was recruited to play Division 1 basketball. While at Columbia his faith grew stronger becoming a co-founder of the Columbia Catholic Athletes and an Eucharistic Minister.  When his knees gave out playing basketball, he formed a basketball program for Harlem youth at the Columbia gym every Sunday morning.
     
Founded after his death, the Tyler Ugolyn Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to promoting youth basketball programs and the refurbishment of inner-city basketball courts. Courts have been renovated in Tyler’s memory all across the country, in conjunction with the NCAA Men’s Final Four, in cities such as San Antonio, Detroit, Indianapolis and Houston. This year our tournament donated $1,500 to the Tyler Ugolyn Foundation (which was matched by an anonymous donor for a total of $3,000). Tyler’s favorite saying came from his grandmother: Yesterday was history, Tomorrow is a mystery, Today is a gift from God! More information like the Sports Illustrated articles can be found on his website http://www.tylerugolyn.com

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Final Night for John Michael Talbot at St. Jude’s
| April 27, 2016


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MONROE—Tonight is the final night of three special evenings with Christian music legend John Michael Talbot at St. Jude Church, 770 Monroe Turnpike (Rt. 111).

Click here to watch a short clip of his performance


The performance will begin at, 7 pm. Tickets are not required, but a freewill offering will be accepted for the evening.

Talbot’s stop in Monroe represents the first time he has performed in Connecticut in over eight years. The singer/songwriter was invited to the parish by Msgr. Dariusz Zielonka, pastor. He will also perform at St. Dominic’s in Southington this weekend as part of an eight-month tour of the country.
 
John Michael Talbot is a multi-platinum recording artist who is often credited with introducing and defining a generation of contemporary Catholic music with 55 albums and performances in Churches and concert halls across the U.S.  
 
His compositions such as “Holy Is His Name,” “Come Worship the Lord,” and “St. Theresa’s Prayer,” are also widely played at Masses and have become part of the contemporary Catholic songbook.
 
“I’m working to bring authentic Catholic revival to the parishes. The dry bones are lying there but they need new life breathed into them,” said Talbot who described his work as creating and performing “sacred music used for meditation and prayer.”  
 
In a phone interview with Fairfield County Catholic, Talbot said he has been invited to sing all over the world but focuses on the U.S. because  he believes “it is the new mission field” with so many Catholics turning away from the Church.
 
However, he believes that Pope Francis has opened the doors to a new spirit of welcome in the Churchand that music is a key to reviving worship in parishes.
 
“The Pope has given us the answers. He has told us what to do, and that is to invite every Christian to a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Every Mass is an altar-call, an opportunity to stand up and give our lives to Christ. We have what we need in the Eucharist.”

Talbot says that the Catholic Church has been slow to recognize the power of contemporary Christian music, but believes the music will enhance spirituality and reverence, "If we use these things  in a way that's authentically  Catholic and adapted to reach the culture in which the local church finds herself. Our culture is conteompary and we have reach people in this way."
 
Talbot, whose sound has been compared to the Eagles formed the Mason Proffit music group in 1969 before turning to sacred music. He is a native of Oklahoma City and a convert to Catholicism  and became a member of the Secular Franciscan order in 1978. He later founded “The Brothers and Sisters of Charity", a Catholic-based community of celibate brothers, celibate sisters, singles who can marry, and families based in Arkansas.

For more information on John Michael Talbot, visit the web: www.johnmichaeltalbot.com


St. Aloysius Students Attend Junior National Young Leaders Conferences
| April 26, 2016


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NEW CANAAN—Sixth graders Emmett Cheever and Teddy Klein from St. Aloysius School, participated in the Junior National Young Leaders Conferences, “Learning to Lead” program in Washington, D.C. this past summer.


(l - r) Kali Dimitrov, Emmett Cheever, and Teddly Klein.​

This week long program was the result of the student's qualifying scores for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) Award, an accomplishment traditionally met by one-third of eligible St. Aloysius School students.

This program, which focused on influential figures from American history as well as social advocacy, was full of on-site experiences, hands-on exercises, and workshops, which brought the concepts and skills of effective leaders to life.  Students worked together to develop action plans that they could put into practice in their homes and communities.  

In addition, the students explored the nation’s most important monuments and memorials such as the Lincoln and Washington Memorials, and the WWII and Vietnam Memorials.  Feeling as if they were in a living museum, the boys felt a deep sense of patriotism after learning about the number of people who fought and died protecting our country.  When asked, Teddy stated that he hopes one day “to make a difference and be able to have this kind of impact on his country.” Emmett agreed and added that he “could envision joining the military to protect this country”.  

Also qualifying for the CTY programs, sixth grader Kali Dimitrov attended the “Robotics and Leadership” conference, where he met a former NASA astronaut and senior scientist for the International Space Station. Taking imagination to implementation stage, he studied elements of robotics design and construction, and explored coding and programming using Lego Mindstorms.  Observing the interrelationships among math, science, and technology, Kali stated that, “I used my understanding of circles and degrees to measure the distance traveled by my robot.”  Kali noted that perseverance is important with design and successful implementation.  He looks forward to his future challenge, which will be building a “dishbot” to carry dishes to his home kitchen table.  All CTY attendees plan to apply their learned skills as leaders at home, at school, and in their community, and all felt that this experience will help them to face future challenges and ensure their success in middle school, high school, and beyond.

Within the classrooms of its traditional Catholic values-based education, St. Aloysius School students are challenged to think with flexibility while remaining critical.  Our students learn that leadership comes with testing oneself with increasingly harder challenges and complex thinking.  St. Aloysius School is a Kindergarten through Grade 8 Catholic School located in the center of New Canaan. It was named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in 2010, and is proudly entering its sixtieth year of academic excellence in a faith-filled community. For more information about St. Aloysius, please call 203.966.0786.


Parish Garden named to honor Msgr. Richard Shea
| April 26, 2016


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TRUMBULL—St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Nichols dedicated a new parish garden last weekend to honor its former pastor, Msgr. Richard J. Shea, and to celebrate his 80th birthday.


MARIAN PRAYER GARDEN—(l-r) Albert Cerino and Sam Braunstein,
K of C Honor Guard; Jeff Wright, Parish Trustee; Deacon Patrick Toole;
Msgr. Richard Shea; Father Joseph Marcello; Charlie Martin, former Trustee;
Mary Ellen Kovacs, Director of Pastoral Care and longest-serving
Parish Staff member; Amy Todisco, Parish Trustee; Robert Cavallero,
Director of Parish Operations; Theodore Pacanowski, KofC Honor Guard
and District Deputy.

On Sunday, April 24, Msgr. Shea, who led the parish for 23 years, returned to St. Catherine of Siena Parish to celebrate the 10:30 am Mass, the day before he turned 80.

After Mass, parishioners moved outside on a festive and beautiful morning for the re-dedication of the Marian Prayer Garden in Msgr. Shea’s honor.  
 
“It was a picture-perfect day outside,” said Father Joseph Marcello, new pastor of St. Catherine’s, “It reflected the joy of our parish to welcome back Msgr. Shea, to wish him the best of God’s blessings on his 80th birthday, and to thank him for over two decades of generous and dedicated priestly ministry here at St. Catherine’s.  We pray that our Blessed Mother, whose prayer garden at our parish is now named for Msgr. Shea, will continue to watch over him always.”

A celebratory gathering was held in the church hall afterwards, during which hundreds of parishioners sang “Happy Birthday” to Msgr. Shea.

In July, 1991, Monsignor Richard J. Shea was installed as the fourth Pastor of Saint Catherine of Siena Parish by Bishop Edward M. Egan.

Msgr. Shea came to St. Catherine’s after having served as  Principal of the nearby St. Joseph High School since 1976.  

Under his 23-year pastorate, St. Catherine of Siena saw enormous expansion and improvement including construction of the McClinch Family Center, which has been a tremendous resource to the parish and the diocese, said Fr. Marcello.  

Msgr. Richard Shea was born in Elmhurst, Queens, N.Y., on April 25, 1936. After graduating from Bishop Loughlin High School in Brooklyn, he entered St. John’s University, also located in Brooklyn at that time. He completed his theological studies at the Seminary of Our Lady of Angels, Niagara University, N.Y., and was ordained by Bishop (later Cardinal) Lawrence J. Shehan in St. Augustine Cathedral on May 20, 1961.

In May, 2011, Msgr. Shea celebrated the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination with a Mass of Thanksgiving at Saint Catherine’s. He retired in January 2015, and Fr. Joseph Marcello, former priest secretary to Bishop William E. Lori, was named pastor.
 
Saint Catherine of Siena Parish, 220 Shelton Road, Trumbull, CT 06611-5161. Phone: 203.377.3133, ext. 10: email: 
office@stcatherinetrumbull.com. On the web: www.stcathtrumbull.com   
twitter@stcathtrumbull



Bishops thanks anniversary couples for being “Christ’s love in our midst”
| April 25, 2016


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TRUMBULL—“Every moment of your married lives, you remind us all that Christ is present, alive and faithful to his sheep,” said Bishop Frank Caggiano to more than 200 couples who attended the recent Wedding Jubilee Mass at St. Theresa Church in Trumbull.


“I thank you for your witness, your togetherness, for being good parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, and for being images of Christ’s love in our midst. I wish you every grace and blessing for many more year of married life.”
 
The bishop blessed the marriages of couples celebrating anniversaries ranging from 25 to 75 years. A reception was held after Mass and photos were taken with the Bishop.

Among those recognized during the Wedding Jubilee Mass were Stanley and Gladys Gwiazdzinski (75 years) of St. Paul Parish in Greenwich; William and Bertha Fredette (70 years) of Holy Family Parish in Fairfield; Lawrence and Ruth Schmidt (70 years) of Saint Bridget of Ireland Parish in Stamford; and Joseph and Florence Romano (66 years) of St. Matthew Parish in Norwalk.

The bishop told the couples that over the years they have “come to learn to listen to one another, not just with the ear but with the heart and mind as well,” and that they have learned to be selfless in their love.
 
“You have come to surrender and give everything to each other. In doing so, faithfully and grace filled, but you give all of us a great gift. You give us hope and help us to remember that where two are three are gathered in my name, there am I.”
 
In his reflection on the 10th chapter of John, “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me,” the bishop told the couples that when he visited his grandfather’s farm as a young man in Italy, he was amazed to see all the sheep in the neighborhood gather together, but still respond to their owners.
 
“When my grandfather whistled and called, his two sheep came to him. All the others stayed behind. His sheep recognized the voice of the shepherd as their protector.”
 
He said the one essential quality of sheep is their ability to follow the shepherd.
 
“The message of you and I is simple. You and I are disciples of the Lord, and he tells us that if we wish to be with him one day in glory, he will give us the path to him, but we need to recognize his voice, trust his voice and surrender to what it says to us, because he is our protector, provider and guardian who loves us more than we love ourselves.”
 
The Mass was sponsored and coordinated by the Faith Formation Office of the Diocese of Bridgeport. For information contact: Kim Quatela, Coordinator of Family Formation: 203.416.1334 or email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Here I am Lord!
| April 24, 2016


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View photos from the concert

WESTPORT—Listen to the Diocesan Youth Choir sing “Here I am Lord.”


The choir, under the direction of Mary Bozzuti Higgins, gathered for its Spring Concert of spirituals and inspirational hymns this afternoon, at St Luke Church in Westport. Written by Dan Schutte in 1981, “Here I am Lord” has become one of the most beloved and frequently played song in Catholic churches.

I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard My people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin,
My hand will save.
I who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear My light to them?
Whom shall I send?



The choir’s rendition was breathtaking at today’s free concert. Created by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in the spirit of Synod 2014, the Diocesan Youth Choir (C4Y) gave its premier performance last Christmas to a packed house at Norwalk Concert Hall. To find out more about the choir, how young people can join it and how adults can support it, visit http://www.bridgeportdiocese.org/c4ysings/home/


Bridgeport Youth Ministry Formation Day—Saturday, May 7, 2016
| April 22, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—All priests, DRE’s, youth ministers, catechists, core team members, and youth ministry volunteers are invited to the inaugural Bridgeport Youth Ministry Formation Day on Saturday, May 7, at Saint John Parish located at 1986 Post Road in Darien from 10 am to 4 pm.


The day will begin with a keynote address by Bob Rice, professor of Catechetics and Youth Ministry at Franciscan University of Steubenville.  

“He is an internationally known speaker, acclaimed musician, inspirational teacher, and innovative writer,” said Evan Psencik, Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Formation in the diocese.  “Bob lives in Steubenville, Ohio with his wife Jennifer and seven beautiful children. He desires to share the love of God using every talent he has been blessed with.”

There will be three rounds of workshops covering the following topics:

•    An Organic Comprehensive Ministry to Youth
•    Dynamic and Effective Catechesis
•    Incarnational Ministry
•    Teaching Young People How to Pray
•    The Art of Accompaniment and Youth Ministry
•    Strategies in Youth Ministry
•    Helping Youth Transition to Young Adulthood

The cost is $25.00 per person and includes lunch and numerous ministry resources. Register online at http://www.bridgeportdiocese.org/faith-formation/formation-day/  .;

For more information please contact Evan Psencik—Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Formation at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


St. Joseph Elementary School Shelton announces new $70,000 ‘Bob Scinto Scholarship’ program—apply by May 1st!
| April 21, 2016


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SHELTON—Due to a generous grant from Mr. Bob Scinto, well-known real estate developer and business leader in Shelton, thirty-five Bob Scinto Scholarships, each worth $2,000 are being given to new students registering in St. Joseph Elementary School in Shelton for the 2016-17 school year.


Bishop Frank Caggiano of the Diocese of Bridgeport made the announcement of the Bob Scinto Scholarship program, worth $70,000 at an open meeting attended by 100 members of the local community on April 5th.

Announcing Mr. Scinto’s generous grant, Bishop Caggiano observed that “St. Joseph’s School is serving the source of students that traditionally Catholic education was created for: a multicultural, racially and ethnically diverse student body, spanning all socio-economic backgrounds.”

Bishop Caggiano voiced his strong support for the renaissance taking place at St. Joseph School under the leadership for the past two years of Principal Steve Anderson, former principal of Central High School in Bridgeport and Connecticut’s 2007 Principal of the Year.

Monsignor Chris Walsh, Pastor of St. Joseph Parish, which has sponsored St. Joseph School for 89 years, says “I am delighted that due to the Bob Scinto Scholarship, the $2 million Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, and the local Guardian Angels Fund (available for new and current students), attending St. Joseph’s school next year will be more affordable than ever which is great news for the valley.

Scholarships are exclusively for students attending St. Joseph’s School. This particular scholarship program also includes new students in grades K-8 whose older siblings already attend the school. The Bob Scinto Scholarship is given out on a first come first served basis so apply today!

To reserve your place for the upcoming school year and apply for scholarships, please contact Angela Mantero by May 1, 2016 at 203.331.6834 or join us at our Open House on April 21st, 5 pm–8 pm (St. Joseph School, 430 Coram Ave, Shelton). Contact information: Angela Mantero, Director of Enrollment and Marketing at 203.331.6834 or Msgr. Christopher Walsh, Pastor at 203.893.7152.


Father Robert J. Usenza, 81
| April 20, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Reverend Robert J. Usenza died on Sunday, April 17, 2016.


Father Usenza’s body will be received on Thursday, April 21 at 6 pm at Saint Mary Church, 5 Hillhouse Avenue, New Haven, CT 06505, and will lie in state until 8 pm.

There will be no Vigil Mass. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held there on Friday, April 22, 2016 at 9:30 am. Monsignor Thomas Powers will be the main celebrant. Burial with military honors will be at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, 1056 Daniels Farms Road, Trumbull, CT 06611. Clergy present at the Funeral Mass will wear diocesan vestments.

Father Usenza was born on September 21, 1934 in Brooklyn, NY, son of Frank and Fannie Naste Usenza. He attended P.S. 89, Queens and Saint Agnes Academic High School, Rockville Center, NY.  He was prepared for the priesthood at Saint Mary’s College, Saint Mary’s, KY, Saint Thomas Seminary, Bloomfield and Saint Mary Seminary, Baltimore.

He was ordained to the priesthood by the Most Reverend Lawrence J. Shehan at Saint Augustine Cathedral, Bridgeport on May 20, 1961.

Father Usenza was assigned as Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Grace, Stratford; Saint Mary, New London, CT; and Saint Andrew, Bridgeport. He also was a priest in residence at Our Lady of Grace Parish, Stratford and Saint Joseph Parish, Shelton, and temporary administrator at Saint Andrew Parish.

Father Usenza served as the Spiritual Director at Saint Joseph High School and Cathedral Girls’ High School, Bridgeport. In addition, he was appointed Priest Chaplain at Norwalk Community College. Father did graduate studies in counseling at Fairfield University.

Father Usenza attended Naval Chaplains’ School in Newport, RI. He served as a U.S. Navy Chaplain until 1969, when he became a chaplain in the Naval Reserve Training Center, Bridgeport. He was released to do military service again in 1976, this time in the U.S. Marines and Army, which continued until 1984. He retired from active priestly ministry in 1988 and was generous with his time, helping at parishes near his West Haven home.

Father Usenza is mourned by his brothers, Frank (Cathy) Jr. and Ronald J. Usenza and his nephew and nieces, Frank Usenza III, Anna Maria Stewart, and Jaclyn Doyle. Condolences to his family may be sent to his brother, Frank Usenza, 1520 Islamorada Boulevard, Punta Gorda, FL 33955. Memorial contributions may be made to Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey, 5804 West Monastery Road, Hulbert, OK 74441. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Usenza and for the consolation of his family.


St. Mark Basketball 2016 CYO Champions
| April 20, 2016


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​STRATFORD—On April 3, the St. Mark Girls Varsity, Boys Varsity, Boys Junior Varsity, Girls Junior Varsity all won their New England CYO championships.


Boys JV: Front Row (l-r) Joe Adzima, Josh Newall, Jude Pastorok,
John Pastorok, Ronnie Kerkes, Ian Lubas,
Second Row: Head Coach Pat Morrissey, Julian Marottolo,
Dabte Quattrucci, Mark Morrissey, Anthony Valerian, Matt Morrissey,
Assistant Coach Terry Newall


Girls JV: First Row (l-r) Jailyn Ballester, Ellie Anka, Amanda Bike,
Julia Sciallo, Second Row: Madison McMahon, Julie Carbone,
Adriana Debernardo, Mariana Trovarelli, Hannah Siljamaki,
Coaches: Assistant Coaches, Paul Giannotta, Joe Wright, Head Coach,
Michael Sciallo


Boys Varsity: First Row (l-r) Donato Quattrucci, Tommy Shannon,
Michael Morrissey, Tyler Burgess, Jared Grindrod, Nick Rodrigues,
Joey August, Thomas Blaine, Michael D'Aloia, John Bushka, JT Baroni
Assistant Coach, John Baroni, Head Coach, Mike August


Girls Varsity: First Row (l-r) Erin Parchinski, Amanda Zdru,
Abby Anka, Cassi Barbato, Skylar Robotti, Second Row:
Tatianna Gonzalez, Caitlin Fenton, Kaitlyn Feliciano, Elizabeth, Adzima,
Sami Perley, Georgia Grabowski, Alexandra Richo,
Third Row: Head Coach, Walt Brown, Assistant Coaches, Sean Fenton,
Chris Perley

The four teams went undefeated throughout the tournament, which was held April 1- 3.


New Covenant Center’s Celebrity Breakfast Big Success!
| April 19, 2016


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STAMFORD—On Tuesday April 19th, New Covenant Center held it’s 12th Annual Celebrity Breakfast at Woodway Country Club in Darien.






The event hosted over 250 people who were treated to an enjoyable new guest speaker format. This year featured an interview style discussion with Mark Lazarus, Chairman—NBC Sports Group, interviewed by Rob Simmelkjaer, Sr. VP—NBC Sports Ventures, and the former Honorary Chairman of the New Covenant Center Capital Campaign.

They shared information about the importance of NBC Sports volunteering at New Covenant Center and other charities, and a fun “behind the scenes” glimpse of the logistics of putting on the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Phil Shalala, Chairman Emeritus of New Covenant Center, was honored with the first “Founders Award” for the creation of the Celebrity Breakfast event and for his 16 years of devoted service. Additionally, John Gutman, Executive Director, revealed a new logo for the center that better reflects the range of services offered in the new facility.  Al Barber, President of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County proudly discussed this year’s 100th Anniversary of Catholic Charities, of which New Covenant Center is a program.  Celebrity Breakfast set a new record for funds raised for New Covenant Center and all proceeds go to support New Covenant Center meals, food pantry and human services programs.

As the final element of the Celebrity Breakfast, bidding continues on The New Covenant Center online auction” Football Night in America” package for 4, featuring an exclusive “behind-the-scenes” tour of NBC Sports International Studios in Stamford, viewing a LIVE “Football Night in America” show, dinner at the Water’s Edge in Darien, and accommodations with breakfast at the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich. https://www.charitybuzz.com/catalog_items/1038800" target="_blank">Bid Now, Auction ends: Tuesday, April 26th.

We would like to thank our Sponsors. Platinum Sponsor: NBC Sports Group. Gold Sponsors: Bodenheimer Foundation, Sarita & Gregory Hanley, King Low Heywood Thomas School, RBS, Thomson Reuters and Woodway Country Club.  Silver Sponsors: CrossBay Capital Partners, Jay& Lisa McDermott, William F. Mulhall & Family, PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP.  Bronze Sponsors: Armstrong Family Foundation, Michael J. Boyd, Darien/Rowayton Bank, ESPN, Michael Feldman/William Raveis Real Estate, Linda & Bruce Koe, Gerrie Musicco, Donna Shalala Foundation, St. Aloysius Parish, and Stone Harbor Management.  In-Kind Donations were kindly provided by The Advocate/Greenwich Time, Moffly Media, and Stamford Florist.

New Covenant Center opened a new 8,000 sq. ft. facility at 174 Richmond Hill last summer. New Covenant Center serves hot meals twice a day, 365 days a year.  Including the breakfast program and food pantry, it provides over 700,000 meals a year.  The new facility includes an efficient and modern kitchen, a welcoming dining area, expanded food storage area and refrigeration, a spacious food pantry area and additional space for other services.

Founded nearly 40 years ago, New Covenant Center is an inter-faith project of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County, serving the homeless, elderly, disabled, working poor, and children. No one is turned away.  There are no requirements to enter the New Covenant Center doors, except a mutual exchange of respect and dignity.

(To learn more and to donate, please go to: newcovenantcenter.org or contact: John Gutman, Executive Director .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))


Thousands across Diocese view Fatima Centennial Statue
| April 19, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Thousands of Catholics across the diocese turned out to welcome the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima from April 14 through April 19.


The statue’s arrival in the diocese is part of a two-year World Apostolate of Fatima USA Centennial U.S. Tour for Peace.

Over the weekend the Centennial Tour bus stopped at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Bridgeport, St. Theresa Parish in  Trumbull, St. Mary Parish in Stamford, Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton and St. Marguerite Parish in Brookfield, where it makes it final stop this evening (Tuesday) at 5 pm.

Parishes greeted the statue arrival by arranging Novenas, Meditation, Recitation of the Rosary and Mass to pray for peace.

“We had the great blessing to be one of the few parishes in Connecticut to be chosen to honor and celebrate this venerable and holy statue, and as Our Lady implored to the children of Fatima and the whole world to do, Pray for Peace throughout the world,” said Fr. Reggie Norman, Pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Wilton.
        
Events in Wilton included is a parish wide Novena  that started April 8th (parishioners signed up for a Nine Day Novena Notification reminder through the new parish app!)…
     
The Family Rosary was also said after every Mass.  The parish also hosted Visitation and Meditation before the Statue.  from 1-3:30pm.
 
Fr. Norman has encouraged parishioners to say this prayer every day for nine consecutive days: “Most Holy Virgin, who has deigned to come to Fatima to reveal to the three little shepherds the treasures of graces hidden in the recitation of the Rosary, inspire our hearts with sincere love of this devotion.

Click here to view the flicker albums with photos of the visitation of the Our Lady of Fatima statue in area parishes.


Deacon Harold Lynch, 79
| April 19, 2016


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EASTON—Deacon Harold J. Lynch, 79, a deacon at Notre Dame Parish in Easton, died at home in the care of his family on April 13 after a battle with cancer.


“He had been a member of our parish for over 30 years and faithfully served the Notre Dame Community for 27 years as a permanent deacon,” said Father Michael Lyons, Notre Dame’s pastor. “Deacon Hal will be greatly missed.”

Harold Lynch graduated in 1954 from Power Memorial Academy in Manhattan. He joined the United States Marine Corps the following year. He served from 1955 to 1963, attaining the rank of Sergeant.

In 1965, he received his bachelor of science degree from Fordham University and enjoyed a long and successful career as a sales and marketing executive of primary metals for Anaconda, AMAX and ASARCO. During his retirement he consulted with SIDICH, Belgium.

In 1989, he was ordained a deacon for the Diocese of Bridgeport and served in this capacity at Notre Dame of Easton and at Our Lady of Victory in Manhattan. As a deacon, he most enjoyed serving as a facilitator for the Prepare Enrich Program and pre-baptismal classes.

He was passionate about world news and politics and would share his views with anyone that would listen. He was an enthusiastic reader, a diehard Giants fan, an avid golfer and—most important—the number one cheerleader and supporter of his granddaughters at all their sporting and musical events.

Deacon Lynch will be brought into Notre Dame Church the afternoon of Tuesday, April 19. Calling hours will be held from 3-5 pm and 7-9 pm. A Memorial Mass will be celebrated on Wednesday, April 20, at 11 am. Msgr. Thomas Powers, vicar general of the Diocese of Bridgeport, will be the celebrant. Father Lyons will deliver the homily. Interment follows at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Trumbull.

Deacon Lynch is survived by his wife of 55 years, Carmen Barraza Lynch, three children and three granddaughters.


Deacon information sessions set
| April 19, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Information sessions for men interested in pursuing their calling to diaconate ministry will be held at five locations throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport beginning April 25 at 7 pm. The first session will be held at Holy Spirit Parish, 403 Scofieldtown Rd., Stamford.


The evening sessions will also be held in Wilton, Fairfield, Newtown and Shelton. Each session will run approximately 90 minutes and will provide specific information on the diaconate formation and the admission process.

“If a man is interested in discerning a vocation to the diaconate, we encourage him to attend one of the upcoming information sessions,” said Deacon Anthony Cassaneto, Ph.D., director of the diaconate for the Diocese of Bridgeport.

“We know that there are diaconal vocations in our parishes. Our hope is that these sessions will spark an interest in and a desire to learn more about diaconal ministry,” he said.

There are 80 active and 27 retired deacons in the diocese of Bridgeport. They minister to people in a variety of parish and institutional settings, including service as chaplains in area hospitals and healthcare facilities, Deacon Cassaneto said.

Ideally men applying to the diaconate should be between the ages of 40-60, though men 35 and older are welcome to apply.

Deacon Cassaneto said that many of the men who will attend the meeting have the support of their pastors. However, all who are interested are welcome to attend one of the information sessions. Men who elect to continue in the Inquiry process will then need a letter from their pastor to support their application to deacon formation.

The first six months of the Inquiry period is a time of spiritual discernment and reflection. Inquirers will attend monthly sessions at the Catholic Center before beginning formal theological studies. Those accepted as Inquirers will officially begin their discernment in January 2017.

“A man discerning his vocation to the permanent diaconate must fully participate in the Inquiry period in order to be considered an applicant,” Deacon Cassaneto said.

According to the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States, “The first stirrings of a vocation to the diaconate are often explored at a personal level and usually begin with seeking information about the diaconate and formation. An individual initially reflects upon the nature of his perceived call. Primacy must be given at this time to the spiritual dimension.”

The directory indicates that entrance into diaconal formation is not just a personal and family journey, but Church must accompany it, and that the “the parish is the primary experience of Church for most Inquirers.”

The deacon’s role includes administering baptisms, witnessing and blessing marriages, officiating at wakes, funerals and burial services, and presiding at prayer services. Deacons also distribute Holy Communion, proclaim the Gospel, preach the homily and assist at Mass.

Deacon Information Sessions will be held at the following locations: Holy Spirit Parish, 403 Scofieldtown Rd., Stamford, on April 25; Our Lady of Fatima Parish, 229 Danbury Rd., Wilton, on April 28; Holy Family Parish, 700 Old Stratfield Rd., Fairfield on May 2; St. Rose of Lima Parish, 46 Church Hill Rd., Newtown on May 11; and St. Lawrence Parish, 505 Shelton Ave., Shelton, on May 23.

(For more information, contact Deacon Anthony Cassaneto: 203.416.1451 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))               


Synod process “alive and evolving”
| April 16, 2016


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Click to view photos from the session

TRUMBULL—The Synod is over but the consultative process is still very much underway in the diocese, Bishop Frank Caggiano told more than 100 delegates who reconvened for the 2nd Post-Synod General Session this morning at St. Catherine of Siena Parish.


The bishop thanked the delegates for coming back together and said that he wants to hear from them as the diocese gives shape to the many new programs and initiatives inspired by their Synod deliberations.

“What we gave birth to is a living process. September 19 (date of the Synod Closing Mass Celebration last year) didn’t end anything. Implementation is not static, it will continue to evolve,” the bishop said. “We may do things we didn’t envision in our process but they will be born out of that which we discussed and discerned.”

Throughout the morning delegates received status reports from diocese officials and ministry leaders about new Synod initiatives including the Diocesan Leadership Institute, the Catholic Service Corps, and Faith Formation programs.

Those who have left the Church were still very much on the minds of delegates who asked that the new programs be effective in bringing back men and women who no longer participate in parish life and in better engaging the young people between the ages of 17 and 23, who are at the greatest risk of leaving.

During the meeting, the delegates also heard from three people who have come to work at the Diocese as a result of the needs identified during the Synod deliberations in 2014-2015.

The bishop said his thoughts on the post-synod process have been guided by “three words: patience, discernment, and perseverance, as we continue to be obedient and listen to prompting of Holy Spirit as a diocesan family.”

The bishop told delegates that he originally thought of the Synod as “roadmap” but as implementation moves forward, he has come to understand its as a “mosaic” with many bright pieces and figures.

“A roadmap has a clear line to the destination, but in a mosaic, each piece of the puzzle has its own life and character. When we put all these pieces together, we can create a new picture, a new chapter in the life of the diocese.”

The bishop, who drew laughter when he quipped that he was not known to be a patient man,” said the implementation was taking longer than he initially expected, and then added, “We have to learn to do this in the mind of Christ and with his grace. If that takes longer than I thought, that’s okay, as long as it’s done right.”

Patrick Turner, Director of Strategic and Pastoral Planning, and Fr. Michael Dogali, Episcopal Vicar for Planning, offered an overview of the Strategic Planning Process now underway in the diocese.

Turner said that over 400 parish taskforce members participated in planning workshops held during the month of March and that parishes are now working on self-assessment forms.

He said the self-assessments will be completed by May 15 and that each parish is expected to have a strategic plan drafted by next September.

“Planning is going to be an integral part of parish life going forward, “ he said. “This is not a one-time process.”

Fr. Dogali, who has been visiting with pastors across the diocese, said that the diocesan strategic planning commission is reviewing key diocesan services such as communications, information technology, data management, procurement and human resources in order to improve services to parishes.

“We’re really trying to respond to what the pastors have asked of us and to provide the kind of support that they need,” Fr. Dogali said.

Patrick Donovan, newly named executive director of the Diocesan Leadership Institute, said that every Catholic is called to ministry and leadership at some level by virtue of his or her baptism.

The father of four young children said “Part of my story is trying to figure out how to use my gifts to bring others to Jesus. We are all called to ministry and the first step is discernment.”

Donovan said that the institute will be a two-way street that draws from the talent and experience of those already working in the diocese. “Everyone brings something to the table. We already have good people doing formation and two great universities to draw from.”

Donovan said the ultimate goal of the institute is to ask, “How do we become the presence of Christ in other people’s lives, so they may want to learn more about what we have?”

He said programs offered by the new diocesan institute will “not be in the business of certifying but engaging and forming those interested in serving as catechists.”

Donovan, who also chairs the Catechetical Task Force recommended by the Synod, said an assessment is already under way of catechetic instruction to find out what is working in the diocese and “how we invite people into ministry.”

“Formation has to be rooted in hospitality, it has recognize the local experience, and it has to be manageable,” he said.

Rose Talbot-Babey, Coordinator of Elementary Foundation, said that her office will make new tools and resources available to engage and form young people in the faith.

She said at present, little training is offered to catechists, and that she parents need to start talking to their children about faith if they wish to avoid the “drop off and drop out” problem.

She said the challenge is to create religious education standards across the diocese without creating “a one size fits all” approach.

Kim Quatela, coordinator of Family Formation programs in the diocese, said that one of her biggest priorities has been “revamping marriage prep program that urgently needed an update.

She said her office is launching the new “Unveiled” program used by the Diocese of Richmond in Marriage Preparation.

“We’ve taken it from a class model to a marriage conference that is more welcoming and engaging. We want it to be a day of enrichment and formation for couples that will give them the resources they need to prepare for marriage.”

Quatela also told delegates that future offerings from her office will include a Women’s Conference and Men’s Conference, Ministry to the Divorced and Separated, Parenting Resources, information on Natural Family Planning and Fertility, and RCIA program to welcome new Catholics.

In a report on the Catholic Service Corps, Patrick Turner said the corps now has 15 pilot projects involving Catholic schools, local universities and parishes, and that a diocesan wide day of service is planned for September

“The goal is to engage youth in service and formation, and to make Christian service and enduring, lifelong choice,” he said.


Young women daring to dream
| April 15, 2016 • by By AUDREY COZZARIN


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NORWALK—“…Because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)


The realization that there was no safe place for homeless pregnant women in our community compelled Malta House founders Michael O’Rourke, Hope Carter, Christopher Bell and a concerned group who had a dream to create a work of mercy. Since 1998, Malta House, located in Norwalk, has provided pregnant women (and women with newborns or infants) with supportive services in a safe and nurturing environment.

As O’Rourke recalls, “These vulnerable 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.”

For those who are not familiar with Malta House, its mission to honor God-given life and lift up its residents towards a bright future is clearly in tune with the life of Jesus Christ who touched, healed, and ate with outcasts and the poor.
 
Lucy Freeman, Malta House executive director, says, “Malta House is where dreams really do matter. The women we serve are strong, yet need support to recognize their strengths.  We encourage them to dream and dream big.” Freeman’s dream is to serve more families, “We dream of a facility that will allow for growth, with larger and more living spaces for pregnant women with small children and a respite room for a woman in a crisis situation.”

Potential residents come to the attention of Malta House primarily through social services and other agencies. Once accepted into the residential program—which can accommodate up to 10 families—the young women are expected to follow guidelines of good conduct, are supported in establishing a savings account and in finding a part-time job or completing their education, and given skills training with the goal of independence. Teaming with other non-profits such as St. Joseph Parenting Center in Stamford, Malta House’s residents receive valuable parenting lessons and learn about nutrition and life skills both for themselves and their
children.

In addition, spirituality classes are provided at Malta House on a weekly basis. Father Reggie Norman, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton and a Malta House board member, has recently been meeting with the young women. As he explains it, “Our spirituality program is based on the needs of the individual women and the goal is to empower them to recognize their own inner strength and spirit. Individual counseling is also available to help the women overcome some of the tragedies of their past lives and to equip them to overcome and prosper in the new life and family they create.”

The residential program lasts about 18-24 months. For life after Malta House, there is the “Partnering Success” program that provides follow-up services and outreach to guide “graduates” through the initial stages of life as parents on their own.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano values the dreams of those who seek the help of Malta House. He says, “Malta House plays an integral part in the mission of our diocese, as it allows young mothers and their children to have a healthy and holy start to their life. Malta House provides the children an opportunity to grow and be educated, and the young mothers a beginning to a life that holds promise and opportunity.”

In remarks to those attending last year’s Spring Gala, he said, “Besides financial support, the gift of your time and your prayer—the spirit of volunteerism—this is what makes Malta House a unique and successful experiment in Catholic social living.”

Kim Petrone, chair of the Malta House board of directors, invites the readers of Fairfield County Catholic to attend this year’s Annual Spring Gala on Saturday, May 14, at Woodway Country Club in Darien. The evening features a cocktail hour, dinner, and a live auction. In addition, Barbara M. Ripp, a long-time supporter of Malta House, will be honored.

Petrone says, “Overcoming life’s most challenging issues starts with a dream, and supporters like Barbara are key to the young women achieving their dreams.

Malta House is supported entirely by private donations, both monetary and in-kind donations—large and small, every gift matters as our residents continue on their path to self-sufficiency.”

(For more info about Malta House and its upcoming Annual Gala: visit www.maltahouse.org or call 203.857.0088.)


Father Emidio Gregori, 92
| April 14, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Father Emidio O. Gregori, a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport for over 58 years, passed away on Tuesday, April 12, 2016 in Stratford at the age of 92.


Father Gregori was ordained on May 3, 1958 at St. Augustine Cathedral by the Most Rev. Lawrence J. Shehan, first Bishop of Bridgeport. Father Gregori’s body will be received by Reverend Nicholas Pavia on Monday, April 18, 2016 at 3 pm at Our Lady of Peace Church, Stratford, and will lie in state until the Vigil Mass at 7 pm.  Monsignor Thomas Powers will preside and Reverend Nicholas Pavia will be the homilist.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held there on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 at 11 am. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the main celebrant and Reverend Richard Murphy will be the homilist. Interment will be at Saint Peter Cemetery, 71 Lake Avenue, Ext., Danbury.

Father Gregori was assigned as Parochial Vicar at Saint Roch, Greenwich; Saint Mary, Stamford; Saint Raphael, Bridgeport; and Saint James, Stratford. He also served as temporary administrator at Saint James Parish. He celebrated his 50th Anniversary as a Priest in June, 2008.

Father Gregori was born on May 19, 1922 in Collagna, Italy, to Peter  Gregori and Maria Cristina Pulsoni Gregori. He attended Danbury High School, the Junior College of Bridgeport, and Syracuse University.

He was prepared for the priesthood at Saint Mary Seminary, Saint Mary, KY and Saint Mary Seminary, Baltimore.

Father Gregori did post-graduate studies at the University of San Francisco. He also served on the Diocesan Presbyteral Council and was active as a director of District CYO in Greenwich.  He retired from active ministry in 1997.

Father Gregori is mourned by his brother and sister-in-law, Oreste and Joanna Gregori. Condolences may be sent to Mr. and Mrs. Oreste Gregori, 23 Sunnyview Drive, Redding, CT 06896.


2nd Post-Synod General Session To offer progress report on implementation
| April 14, 2016


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TRUMBULL—The second diocesan post-Synod General Session will be held this Saturday, April 16, from 8 am to 12 noon at St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull. 


More than 150  men and women who served as delegates during last year’s Synod process are expected to reconvene for an update on Synod initiatives now underway in the diocese.

“We look forward to bringing the delegates together to review the actions taken on the Synod recommendations since we met in December,” said Patrick Turner, Director of Strategic and Pastoral Planning of the Diocese of Bridgeport.   

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.

The session will formally begin at 8 am and will conclude promptly at noon.  Coffee, juice, breakfast pastries and fresh fruit will be provided.   

Bishop Caggiano will address delegates at 8:30 with a reflection on the progress of Synod initiatives, particularly those focused on empowering youth, renewing catechesis, and forming parish leaders.
   
The morning will include updates from the Office of Faith Formation, and progress reports on the pastoral planning process, the Catholic Service Corps, the Diocesan Leadership Institute, the Catechetical Task Force and other initiatives. For a full recap, visit the Synod website at http://www.2014synod.org
.
“There will also be plenty of time for discussion and questions with those who are undertaking the implementation,” said Patrick Turner, who said that many delegates are also at work on implementing various synod recommendations.

Bishop Caggiano issued a Pastoral Letter on Easter Sunday Solemnity of Easter, reflecting on the vision and mission that arose from Synod 2014 as the diocese works to implement its initiatives in the coming months and years.

Click to read the Bishop’s Pastoral Letter on the Synod


Open Houses set for Catholic Elementary Schools in Stamford
| April 13, 2016


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STAMFORD—On Sunday, April 24, 2016 all four Catholic elementary schools in Stamford will be open from 10 am to 1 pm to welcome parishioners, prospective families, alumni, alumni parents and grandparents. 


Bishop Frank Caggiano is leading a new strategic planning process that will position the schools for the very best in 21st century learning.

Students and families are invited to come visit and take a tour, meet faculty, parents and students and learn more about Catholic education.

·      Holy Spirit School, 403 Scofieldtown Road
·      Our Lady Star of the Sea, 1170 Shippan Avenue
·      St Cecilia, 1186 Newfield Avenue,
·      Trinity Catholic Middle School, 948 Newfield Avenue.

All schools are also open for Take A Look Tuesdays, our weekly open houses, every Tuesday from 9 am – 11 am.  For more information, please visit www.CatholicSchoolsStamford.org


Wedding Jubilee Mass set for April 17
| April 12, 2016


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TRUMBULL—More than 200 couples in parishes throughout the diocese will be honored at special Wedding Jubilee Mass celebrated by  Bishop Frank J. Caggiano on Sunday, April 17, 3 pm at St. Theresa Church, 5301 Main Street in Trumbull.


The Jubilee will bless the marriages of couples celebrating anniversaries ranging from 25 to 75  years. The afternoon includes Mass, photos of the couples being honored by Bishop Caggiano, and a reception.

Among those celebrating wedding anniversaries will be Stanley and Gladys Gwiazdzinski (75 years) of St. Paul Parish in Greenwich; William and Bertha Fredette (70 years) of Holy Family Parish in Fairfield; Lawrence and Ruth Schmidt (70 years) of Saint Bridget of Ireland Parish in Stamford; and Joseph and Florence Romano (66 years) of St. Matthew Parish in Norwalk.

The annual Jubilee Mass had been originally scheduled for St. Paul’s in Greenwich but was relocated to St. Theresa when a larger Church was required to accommodate the enthusiastic response from the couples and their guests.

The Mass is being sponsored and coordinated by the Faith Formation Office of the Diocese of Bridgeport. For information contact: Kim Quatela, Coordinator of Family Formation: 203.416.1334 or email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


| April 12, 2016


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Also: Learn more about Hidden Rock Sports

NEWTOWN—Faith, sports and giving back were the theme of the first Good News for Young Athletes family workshop offered by Hidden Rock Sports, LLC at St. Rose of Lima Parish on April 2. Interactive games and lessons emphasized the importance of including God in every game plan.


“Sports are a major aspect of family life in our town and families are often so busy with games and practices they have a difficult time fitting worship services into their weekend schedules. This ministry provides an important bridge between faith and sports. It shows children that God is the greatest coach. When they put him first, the rest will follow,” said Msgr. Weiss, St. Rose’s pastor.

In the spirit of teamwork and giving, participants donated gently used sports equipment and uniforms to Let’s Play it Forward, an organization that collects and distributes these items to children in need.

(For more information about adding a twist of faith to your family’s sports life, visit www.hiddenrocksports.com. To find how to bring a Faith and Sports workshop to your school or parish, go to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Father Frederick Saviano, 74
| April 11, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Father Frederick Saviano died on Saturday, April 9, 2016 at Bridgeport Hospital after a long struggle with illness.


Father Saviano’s body will be received into his home parish of the Church of the Assumption, Westport, on Friday, April 15, at 3 pm by Father Robert Kinnally, Chancellor of the Diocese, and will lie in state until the Vigil Mass at 7 pm.

Msgr Thomas Powers, Vicar General of the Diocese of Bridgeport, will preside at the Mass and Father Thomas Thorne, Assumption’s pastor, will be the homilist.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, April 16, at 10 am. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the main celebrant; Msgr. Nicholas Grieco will be the homilist. Interment will be at Assumption-Greens Farms Cemetery, Greens Farms Road, Westport.

In a 2002 profile of Fr. Saviano in Fairfield County Catholic, he reflected on his work as a priest while serving as Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Danbury.

“The priesthood is like the Incarnation. When Jesus took on a human nature, He became a part of us, no matter how deeply we upset Him, no matter how badly we behave,” he said
 
“As priests we live where we work and we’re always available to our people. I love them. I’m part of them, I am their priest.  It’s all-absorbing. No matter how difficult this job is, you have to see God’s presence all around you.”

Father Saviano was born on November 5, 1941 in Norwalk Hospital. The son of John and Mildred Romano Saviano, he grew up in Westport. He was prepared for the priesthood by the Missionaries of LaSalette at LaSalette Seminary, Hartford, LaSalette Seminary, Altamont, NY and LaSalette Seminary, Ipswich, MA.

He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Thomas J. Riley at the La Salette National Shrine in Ipswich, MA on May 5, 1968.  He then ministered for many years as a missionary in Argentina and Peru.  

Coming back to his home diocese, he was assigned as parochial vicar at Saint Benedict/Our Lady of Montserrat Parish in Stamford and subsequently was incardinated into the Diocese of Bridgeport in 1995. In 1996, Father Saviano was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Danbury.

He served there until 2005, at which time he accepted a year-long pastoral assignment in parish mission work in Peru.

Father Saviano became the director of the Office for the Propagation of the Faith in 2006, and served in that capacity at the Catholic Center until his retirement in 2015.  During this time he was in residence at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Weston and was the administrator of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Parish, Shelton.

Father Saviano also served on the diocesan Presbyteral Council.

Father Saviano is mourned by his sister-in-law, Hazel Saviano, and several nieces and nephews. His memory will be cherished by his many friends in South America with whom he kept contact through Skype and social media. Condolences may be sent to Hazel Saviano, 3 Saviano Lane, Westport, CT 06880. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Fred and for the consolation of his family.


From Broadway to Habitat House!
| April 10, 2016


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FAIRFIELD—“Broadway in the Basement” will be back at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Fairfield on Saturday, April 23, at 7pm for pasta dinner and a show in the parish hall.


“Snap Shots” will include highlight numbers from some of Broadway’s most popular shows. It will be performed by members of New Paradigm Theater, a non-profit group of professional Broadway actors who use their talents to raise funds for other non-profit groups.

Proceeds from the performance will benefit the Pope Francis House now under construction on George Street in Bridgeport by Habitat for Humanity and volunteers from many area parishes and institutions.

The diocese adopted the Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County house project in recognition of the visit of Pope Francis to the United States in September and his call to serve the poor and homeless.

Donna Spigarolo, a member of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Fairfield and a longtime Habitat volunteer, is serving as coordinator of the effort. She said the project needs one final push in fund raising to bring it to completion.

The Zepeda family that hopes to move into the house in May will be guests during the evening and will says a few words about their own experience and share their excitement about owning their own home. They are members of the St. Augustine Cathedral parish.

A live auction with auctioneer Fr. Charles Allen of Fairfield University will be held along with a silent auction.

People who attend are asked to make a contribution at the door based on what they might ordinarily spend on show and a dinner. For reservations email Katie Scinto at: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 203- 209-1280.


Share truth of family with mercy, help those struggling, pope says
| April 08, 2016 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


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VATICAN CITY—The same mercy and patience that are essential for building a strong family must be shown to those whose families are in trouble or have broken up, Pope Francis said in his highly anticipated postsynodal apostolic exhortation.


The document, "'Amoris Laetitia' (The Joy of Love), on Love in the Family," released April 8, contains no new rules or norms.

However, it encourages careful review of everything related to family ministry and, particularly, much greater attention to the language and attitude used when explaining church teaching and ministering to those who do not fully live that teaching.

"No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love," Pope Francis wrote. People grow in holiness, and the church must be there to give them a helping hand rather than turn them away because they have not attained some degree of perfection.

The exhortation was Pope Francis' reflection on the discussion, debate and suggestions raised during the 2014 and 2015 meetings of the Synod of Bishops on the family. Like synod members did, the pope insisted that God's plan for the family is that it be built on the lifelong union of one man and one woman open to having children.

Synod members, including priests, religious and laypeople serving as experts and observers, talked about everything from varied cultural forms of courtship to marriage preparation and from the impact of migration on families to care for elderly parents.

Pope Francis' document touches on all the issues raised at the synods and gives practical advice on raising children, urges a revision of sex-education programs and decries the many ways the "disposable culture" has infiltrated family life and sexuality to the point that many people feel free to use and then walk away from others.

"Everyone uses and throws away, takes and breaks, exploits and squeezes to the last drop. Then, goodbye," he wrote.

Much of the document is tied to the theme of God's mercy, including Pope Francis' discussion of welcoming the vulnerable.

"Dedication and concern shown to migrants and to persons with special needs alike is a sign of the Spirit," he wrote. Both are "a test of our commitment to show mercy in welcoming others and to help the vulnerable to be fully a part of our communities."

The synod issues that garnered the most headlines revolved around the question of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried, as well as Catholic attitudes toward homosexuality.

"In no way must the church desist from proposing the full ideal of marriage, God's plan in all its grandeur," Pope Francis said.

He repeated his and the synod's insistence that the church cannot consider same-sex unions to be a marriage, but also insisted, "every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity."

On the question of families experiencing difficulties, separation or even divorce and remarriage, Pope Francis said responses to the questionnaires sent around the world before the synod "showed that most people in difficult or critical situations do not seek pastoral assistance, since they do not find it sympathetic, realistic or concerned for individual cases."

The responses, he wrote, call on the church "to try to approach marriage crises with greater sensitivity to their burden of hurt and anxiety."

Particularly in ministry to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, Pope Francis said, pastors must help each couple look at their actions and circumstances, recognize their share of responsibility for the breakup of their marriage, acknowledge church teaching that marriage is indissoluble and prayerfully discern what God is calling them to.

Pope Francis said it would be a "grave danger" to give people the impression that "any priest can quickly grant 'exceptions' or that some people can obtain sacramental privileges in exchange for favors."

At the same time, he insisted, "the way of the church is not to condemn anyone forever; it is to pour out the balm of God's mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart."

Divorced and civilly remarried couples, especially those with children, must be welcomed in Catholic parishes and supported in efforts to raise their children in the faith.

Generally, without an annulment of their sacramental marriage, such a couple would not be able to receive Communion or absolution of their sins unless they promised to live as "brother and sister." But every situation is different, the pope said, which is why the church does not need new rules, but a new commitment on the part of pastors to provide spiritual guidance and assistance with discernment.

The diversity of situations -- for example, that of a spouse who was abandoned versus being the one who left -- makes it unwise to issue "a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and applicable to all cases," the pope wrote. Quoting St. John Paul II, he said, "'since the degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases,' the consequences or effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same."

Pope Francis used the document's footnotes to specify that the consequences include whether or not the couple might eventually be able to receive Communion: "This is also the case with regard to sacramental discipline, since discernment can recognize that in a particular situation no grave fault exists," he wrote. Those who are in a state of serious sin are not to receive Communion.

Another footnote commented on the church's request that remarried couples who had not received an annulment and who want to receive the sacraments forgo sexual relations. "In such situations, many people, knowing and accepting the possibility of living 'as brothers and sisters' which the church offers them, point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, 'it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers,'" he wrote.

Pope Francis wrote that he understood those "who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion. But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness, a mother who, while clearly expressing her objective teaching, always does what good she can, even if in the process, her shoes get soiled by the mud of the street."

Turning to those who believe allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion waters down church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, the pope said, "we put so many conditions on mercy that we empty it of its concrete meaning and real significance. That is the worst way of watering down the Gospel."

In many respects, Pope Francis wrote, church members themselves have presented and promoted such a dreary picture of married life that many people want nothing to do with it even though they dream of a love that will last a lifetime and be faithful.

"We have long thought that simply by stressing doctrinal, bioethical and moral issues, without encouraging openness to grace, we were providing sufficient support to families, strengthening the marriage bond and giving meaning to marital life," he wrote. "We find it difficult to present marriage more as a dynamic path to personal development and fulfillment than as a lifelong burden.

"We also find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations," the pope wrote. Yet, "we have been called to form consciences, not to replace them."

The role of an individual's conscience made frequent appearances in the document, not only regarding the situation of those who may determine their new union is best for their family, but also regarding decisions over how many children to have.

Pope Francis praised Blessed Paul VI's encyclical "Humanae Vitae," which insisted every sexual act in a marriage must be open to the possibility of pregnancy, and included a large section reiterating what has become known as St. John Paul II's "Theology of the Body."

The saintly pope definitively opposed an old idea that considered "the erotic dimension of love simply as a permissible evil or a burden to be tolerated for the good of the family," Pope Francis said. "Rather, it must be seen as gift from God that enriches the relationship of the spouses."

Pope Francis called for church leaders to ensure more married couples are involved as leaders in designing and carrying out pastoral programs for families. Their witness is key, he said.

"Marital love is not defended primarily by presenting indissolubility as a duty, or by repeating doctrine, but by helping it to grow ever stronger under the impulse of grace," he said. "A love that fails to grow is at risk. Growth can only occur if we respond to God's grace through constant acts of love, acts of kindness that become ever more frequent, intense, generous, tender and cheerful."


Bishop Caggiano chats with Jim Blasingame
| April 07, 2016


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Listen to the interview here

BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank Caggiano joined nationally syndicated talk radio host Jim Blasingame on The Small Business Advocate Show to discuss some of the steps the Diocese of Bridgeport is taking to reform and renew the local Church.


The Bishop and Jim discussed a wide range of topics including bringing Catholics back to the Church, the need for healing after the abuse crisis, and the important role the Church plays in serving the people of Fairfield County.

Jim Blasingame is one of the world’s foremost experts on small business and entrepreneurship.He is president and founder of Small Business Network, Inc., a media company dedicated to serving small business. He is also a syndicated columnist and the author of three books, Small Business Is Like a Bunch of Bananas, Three Minutes to Succces and The Age of The Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance, which have sold over 140,000 copies combined. His fourth book, The Third Ingredient ®, will be published in 2016. Google ranks Jim as the #1 small business expert in the world.


Bishop names new Superintendent of Schools
| April 06, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has announced the appointment of Steven F. Cheeseman, Ed. D. of East Moriches, Long Island, as Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Bridgeport.



Dr. Cheeseman currently serves as Associate Superintendent of Schools in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Long Island, and will assume his new responsibilities in Bridgeport effective June 30, 2016. He will be responsible for more than 9,000 students and 1,000 faculty members in the 31 elementary and high schools sponsored by the Diocese of Bridgeport. He will also chair the Diocesan Education Commission formed by Bishop Caggiano in 2014 to reorganize Catholic education and lead a strategic planning process, now underway, to insure its viability and vitality in the future.

Dr. Cheeseman succeeds Sister Mary Grace Walsh, ASCJ, who accepted the newly created position of Provost for Education, Evangelization and Catechesis of the Archdiocese of Hartford in December 2015.  

“I am pleased to announce that our new superintendent is a man of great faith along with being a superb and innovative educator. At a time when our schools are taking major steps in planning for the future, we are fortunate to draw upon his leadership skills and profound understanding of the value of Catholic education,” said Bishop Caggiano.

The bishop said that Dr. Cheeseman has worked at every level of Catholic education from teacher to principal and system administrator and he brings extensive experience to the diocesan post.  “He has been responsible for professional development, worked with boards, and negotiated on behalf of the diocese in the collective bargaining agreements with the diocesan high school teacher association. These skills will serve him well in his new role as leader of education in the diocese.”

While serving as Associate Superintendent for Rockville Centre, Dr. Cheeseman was responsible for the development and implementation of diocesan-wide strategic planning along with marketing and branding efforts. He also coordinated the implementation of diocesan curriculum and worked with administrators to ensure student growth and success through data driven analysis and planning.

“As a leader in Catholic Education I truly believe that we need Catholic schools now more than ever. Our schools must combine a clear and consistent focus on the Catholic faith and tradition along with a commitment to academic excellence. With this as our focus, we can work to create a generation of young people who leave our schools academically strong and prepared to use the framework of faith as the lens with which to think critically about the world around them,” said Dr. Cheeseman.

Dr. Cheeseman earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership & Technology from Dowling College, a Professional Diploma in School District Administration also from Dowling, an MA in Liberal Arts & Sciences from SUNY/Empire State College and a BA in History/Secondary Education from St. Joseph’s College, Patchogue, NY. He is a certified teacher and School District Administrator.  

Dr. Cheeseman served as a High School and Junior High teacher in both public and Catholic schools as well as an Assistant Principal and Interim Principal in public and Catholic Middle and Elementary Schools. Immediately prior to his service as Associate Superintendent, he served for eight years as principal of his own alma mater, McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead, NY.

In addition to these full-time positions, Dr. Cheeseman has been an Adjunct Professor at Fordham University Graduate School of Education and St. Joseph’s College, Patchogue. Earlier in his career he served as an Assistant Director of Religious Education and Youth Minister in his parish.

Dr. Cheeseman and his wife, Danielle, are parishioners at St. John the Evangelist in Center Moriches, Long Island and currently make their home in East Moriches. They are the proud parents of Emily (Grade 5), Christina (Grade 9) and Steven (Grade 11). They look forward to relocating to Fairfield County in the coming months.

The diocesan school system serves students in grades Pre-K through 12 in 31 Catholic schools in the cities and suburbs throughout Fairfield County. There are 25 elementary schools, five high schools and one special education school.   

Fifty percent of diocesan elementary schools have received the Blue Ribbon Schools of National Excellence, and ninety-nine percent of diocesan high school graduates have earned admission to 300 colleges and universities nationwide.    

In 2015, the new Bishop Scholarship Fund doubled financial aid in the form of scholarships to elementary school families by distributing over $2.2 million to more than 1,500 students, including 300 new students in the elementary schools. High school students in Catholic schools throughout the diocese are eligible to apply for scholarships this year. The largest source of support for the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund is the Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA).

(For more information about Catholic schools in Fairfield County, visit the website at www.bridgeportdiocese.com, or phone 203.416.1380.)


Fraternas celebrate Silver Anniversary
| April 06, 2016


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TRUMBULL—“It is a great joy to celebrate this anniversary with you,” said Karina Bohorquez, MCR, the local superior of the Marian Community of the Reconciliation, speaking to friends and family gathered at St. Catherine of Siena Church on April 4.


Bishop Frank J. Caggiano presided at the Mass celebrating the Silver Jubilee of their community, which was founded in Lima, Peru, on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 1991. The glow of candles and of hearts full of friendship warmed the church, which was generously filled despite the surprise April ice storm outside.

The Fraternas, as they are commonly known, are an Apostolic Community of laywomen who, responding to God’s call, have consecrated themselves to God in order to serve others in the world. The worldwide community has three establishments in the United States: in this diocese; in Denver, Colorado; and in San Antonio, Texas. They came to Trumbull in 2005.

“How right and just it us that we give thanks to almighty God for the Fraternas, especially now on their 25th anniversary,” said Bishop Caggiano in his homily, describing the Fraternas as “women of courage, who give of themselves joyfully and generously.”

Celebrating the Feast of the Annunciation, the bishop held up the model of Mary in her response to the angel Gabriel. “At her ‘fiat,’ that one ‘yes,’ heaven and earth were joined.” He spoke of Mary’s courage in her willingness to go along with God’s plan, whatever the personal cost.

“We give thanks for all you do as faithful daughters of Mary,” he told the Fraternas. “You give us such an example, and we hope that we, like you, will be courageous when we proclaim the word of God.”

A reception followed the Mass, during which each of the Fraternas took time to talk about their apostolic mission in this diocese, from work with Convivio and the High School Apostles to support of individuals and families in all areas of life. There are currently four Fraternas in Trumbull: Karina Bohorquez, Monica Zuniga, Maria Cerdena and Karina Goñi.


Immaculate Golden Gala Thank You!
| April 06, 2016


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DANBURY—On Saturday, April 2, 2016, Immaculate High School celebrated its Golden Anniversary at the annual Gala, which raised $100,000 to support the school and its students.


During the evening which drew a record 450 attendees to  the Amber Room Colonnade, Immaculate High School honored and Mr. Anthony M. Rizzo, Jr. and Mr. George F. Landegger.

Funds from the evening provide support for Immaculate’s academic and extracurricular programs including athletics, fine arts and spiritual life.
 
“The purpose of this most historical Gala evening was to celebrate our past and prepare for the future of our Immaculate students, said Mary R. Maloney, President.
 
“Our school charism of forming the whole person in spirit, mind and body continues with the profound realization that our mission is achieved only with and through the unity of the whole community—students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents, grandparents and friends. And, I have to share with you that thanks to the unity of so many, the future of Immaculate is looking very bright!”
 
Bonnie Zuccala served as Chairperson of the Gala Committee and let an energetic team of twenty-five committee members. The evening was also coordinated by Immaculate’s Advancement Team led by Advancement Director, Debbie Basile.
 
“Their combined persevering efforts and creative spirit were exemplary and highly commendable. Many sincere thanks to all who were able to attend as well as those of you who extended your support through volunteering and donating to our Gala and/or the 2015-16 Annual Fund.
We are a very blessed community,” said Maloney.
 
Immaculate High School, a Catholic college preparatory school located in Danbury, is leading the way in 21st Century education and learning. Accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, IHS serves more than 26 towns in the greater Danbury area, including Putnam and Duchess Counties in eastern New York.

Students at Immaculate live the motto “Respect, Responsibility and Reverence” not only in the classrooms, but also on the athletic fields, the stage, and in their daily lives.
 
Immaculate High School is located at 73 Southern Boulevard, Danbury CT 06810 Tel:203.744.1510 • Fax:203.744.1275. Website: www.immaculatehs.org


The Fatima Centennial U.S. Tour to Stop in Diocese
| April 05, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Catholics throughout the Fairfield County are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima from April 14 through April 19.


The statue’s arrival in the diocese is part of a two-year World Apostolate of Fatima USA Centennial U.S. Tour for Peace, which kicks off on March 21 at the National Blue Army Shrine Of Our Lady in Metuchen, New Jersey. The statue was originally blessed by Pope Pius XII in 1947.

From April 14-19, the Our Lady of Fatima Centennial tour will make five stops in the diocese:

Our Lady of Fatima (Bridgeport) - April 14th, 12 pm, 2:30 pm

St. Theresa (Trumbull) - April 14th, 4:30 pm - April 15th, 6:30 pm

St. Mary (Stamford) - April 16th, 7:30 am, 9 pm
Our Lady of Fatima (Wilton) - April 17th, 7:30 am - April 18th, 3 pm
St. Marguerite (Brookfield) - April 18th, 7 pm - April 19th, 5 am


Msgr. Thomas Powers, Vicar General of the Diocese, said the arrival of the Centennial Tour and statue will be an “opportunity to renew our commitment to prayer and to peace. Most importantly we will turn to Our Lady for prayer, help and guidance,” he said, in announcing the tour dates.
    
The tour features the historic international Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima blessed by Pope Pius XII in 1947. It commemorates the 100th anniversary of two apparitions in Fatima Portugal, the Angel of Peace in 1916 and the Blessed Mother in 1917. It is expected to visit more than 100 dioceses in 50 states.
     
It is not commonly known that the story of Our Lady of Fatima actually began in 1916, when an Angel of Peace appeared on three separate occasions to three young shepherd children—Lucia Santos and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto. He taught them to pray, and encouraged them to make sacrifices and spend time in adoration of the Lord as a way of bringing peace to their country.
     
The following spring, on May 13, 1917, the three children were with their flocks in a pasture when they witnessed brilliant flashes in the sky. Lucia later described in her memoirs the appearance of “a lady, clothed in white, brighter than the sun, radiating a light more clear and intense than a crystal cup filled with sparkling water lit by burning sunlight.”
It was the first of six consecutive monthly appearances by Our Lady, who asked the children to devote themselves to the Holy Trinity and pray the Rosary every day to bring peace to the world.
     
Her last visit, witnessed by a gathering of tens of thousands, culminated with a spectacular solar phenomenon known as the Miracle of the Sun.
   
For more information, please contact the above parishes receiving the statue.

Click to view a PDF of the Fatima Tour Press Release.

Click to view video of Msgr. Thomas Powers introducing the Centennial Tour.


21st Century Skills Shine at St. A’s Science Fair
| April 05, 2016


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NEW CANAAN—Magic was in the air at the annual St. Aloysius School Science Fair. Sixty young scientists in grades sixth, seventh and eighth, gathered recently in the school gymnasium to showcase their STEM skills.


Seventh graders Molly McAndrew, Veronica Butler and Helen Mahoney
from St. Aloysius School Take 1st Prize at the annual Science Fair.


Students impress judges Joan Williams and Barry Weston
with their Earthquake Simulator.

Over thirty projects, including one called, “The Magic of Science,” were presented to lower school students and parents.

At the same time, fifth graders, dressed as notable scientists, created a “living museum” as they chatted with visitors. Edwin Hubble, Stephen Hawking and Aristotle, among others, could be heard talking about their past theories and inventions. 
 
Also in attendance was a panel of judges, comprised of four science, engineering and technology experts, who listened as students described their projects and answered questions. Judges gave feedback on all projects, but used a scoring system to evaluate seventh and eighth grade projects.  

The St. Aloysius School Science Fair culminated months of classroom work using the STEM model of learning. STEM requires students to think beyond science textbooks, as they identify problems, conduct research, brainstorm, and experiment. Utilizing engineering design principles, students learn to apply solutions. Science Teacher, Deborah Phillips explains, “STEM is a skill, or way of thinking, that will move our students into the next generation of technology and scientific breakthroughs.” 

The project topics were wide ranging. They included analysis of different liquids on the heart rate of a daphnia, otherwise known as a water flea, and the mold growth rate of different baking flour. Other topics included the genetics of fingerprints, levels of bacteria in varied water samples, absorption properties of various flowers, a look at hydroponic gardening (growing without soil) and phototropism (plant response to light.)
 
Mrs. Phillips was clearly proud of her students, who eagerly and professionally demonstrated their projects. The judges were also very impressed, with one commenting that, relative to other science fairs, St. Aloysius students scored among the highest. 
 
In the seventh grade, first place winners were Molly McAndrews, Helen Mahoney, and Veronica Butler who presented, "White and Bright.”  Second place winners were Cianna Varas, and Lan Wen, presenting about the, “Dangers of Soap.” The third place winning project was, “Earthquake Simulator” presented by Conor McNichols, A.J. Cirifalco, and Henry McGuinness.

Eighth grader winners were Raaga Subramanian, Isabella Adamo, and Chloe Sweitzer with "How Do pH Levels Affect You?" taking first place. In second Place, "Vocaloid Hologram" was presented by Zef Paloka, Dylan Young, and Bartek Ruszczyk.  Coming in third was "Bacteria in your Water" by Sean Oates, Jack Farrar, and Adam Shaak.
 
St. Aloysius School is a Kindergarten through Grade 8 Catholic School located in the center of New Canaan. It was named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in 2010, and is proudly entering its sixtieth year of academic excellence in a faith-filled community. For more information about St. Aloysius, please call 203.966.0786.


Pope asks for new Catholic institutions of mercy, charity
| April 04, 2016 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


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VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis asked Catholic dioceses around the world to set up a permanent memorial of the Year of Mercy by establishing a hospital, home for the aged or school in an under-served area.


Pope Francis speaks as he leads a prayer service on the eve
of the feast of Divine Mercy in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 2.
(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday with an evening prayer vigil April 2 and a morning Mass April 3, the pope said the idea came to him during a meeting with a charitable organization and he decided to mention it at the vigil with participants of the European gathering of the World Apostolic Congress of Mercy and followers of the Divine Mercy devotion.

“As a reminder, a ‘monument’ let’s say, to this Year of Mercy, how beautiful it would be if in every diocese there were a structural work of mercy: a hospital, a home for the aged or abandoned children, a school where there isn’t one, a home for recovering drug addicts—so many things could be done,” the pope said.

“Let’s think about it and speak with the bishops,” the pope told thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet of St. Faustina Kowalska, and also to remember St. John Paul II, who promoted the devotion and died April 2, 2005.

Reciting the “Regina Coeli” prayer at the end of Mass the next day, Pope Francis said the Divine Mercy Sunday celebration was “like the heart of the Year of Mercy,” and he announced that Catholic parishes throughout Europe would be asked to take up a special collection April 24 as a sign of closeness and solidarity with people suffering because of the war in Eastern Ukraine.

The war has caused thousands of deaths and forced more than 1 million people to flee their homes, he said. Pope Francis prayed that the collection, a sign of solidarity and closeness, “could help, without further delay, promote peace and respect for the law in that harshly tried land.”

The more one receives mercy, Pope Francis said at the vigil April 2, “the more we are called to share it with others; it cannot be kept hidden or kept only for ourselves.”

God’s mercy should drive people to love others, “recognizing the face of Jesus Christ above all in those who are most distant, weak, alone, confused and marginalized,” he said.

“It pains the heart” when people talk about refugees and say, “Let’s throw them out,” or speak about the poor and say, “Let them sleep on the street,” the pope said. “Is this of Jesus?”

Reflecting on the Gospel account of Thomas, who came to faith in the risen Lord when he was able to put his hands in Jesus' wounds, Pope Francis said, “a faith incapable of entering the wounds of the Lord is not faith. A faith unable to be merciful as a sign of the merciful wounds of the Lord, is not faith. It's an idea, an ideology.”

"If we want truly want to believe and have faith," he said, "we must draw near and touch those wounds, caress those wounds, but also lower our heads and let others touch our wounds."

Celebrating the Divine Mercy Sunday Mass the next morning, Pope Francis said the Gospel story of God's mercy "remains an open book" to which people can add good news by being heralds of the Gospel and engaging in works of mercy, "which are the hallmarks of the Christian life."

Just as the disciples were afraid but nevertheless set out as the risen Lord commanded, he said, many times Christians today experience "an interior struggle between a closed heart and the call of love to open doors closed by sin."

“Christ, who for love entered through doors barred by sin, death and the powers of hell, wants to enter into each one of us to break open the locked doors of our hearts,” the pope said. Where people are wounded, fearful and uncertain, Christians are called to reach out with Jesus' peace, mercy and healing power.

“In Christ, we are born to be instruments of reconciliation, to bring the Father’s forgiveness to everyone, to reveal his loving face through concrete gestures of mercy," Pope Francis said. “Truly, God's mercy is forever; it never ends, it never runs out, it never gives up when faced with closed doors, and it never tires.”


Divine Mercy Sunday Observances set for Bridgeport, Danbury
| April 02, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will dedicate a new shrine to the Divine Mercy on the grounds of St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport on Sunday, April 3, beginning at 2 pm.


All are invited to join the bishop and parishioners from around the diocese to dedicate this beautiful shrine, celebrate Mass and join in the singing of the Divine Mercy chaplet. A reception will follow.

The WCSU Newman Center in Danbury will celebrate The Feast of Divine Mercy with a Holy Hour set for Sunday, April 3, 3 to 4 pm at St. Peter’s Church, 104 Main Street, Danbury. The service will include Holy Hours, the Sung Chaplet, Confession in English, Spanish and Portuguese, and contemporary worship music provided by the Newman Center Worship Band. A reception will follow in the parish hall.

“This message of Divine Mercy tells each of us that God loves us with no regard to how great our sins. He wants us to realize that his mercy is so much greater than our sins and in this recognition we should call upon him with trust and receive his mercy and ultimately his joy. The devotion to the Divine Mercy challenges us to a total commitment to God as Mercy. We are called to trust him completely, to accept his mercy and be merciful as he is merciful,” said Bishop Caggiano.

On February 22, 1931, Jesus Christ appeared to Sister Faustina bringing a message of mercy for all of mankind.

In Jesus’ revelations to St. Faustina regarding Divine Mercy, He asked that a feast day be dedicated to the Divine Mercy and that this feast be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter. This feast, which was previously granted to Poland and celebrated within Vatican City, was granted to the Universal Church by Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the canonization of Sister Faustina on April 30, 2000.

In her diary that day Sister Faustina wrote of the original apparition: “In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing the other touching the garment at the breast. From the opening of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord; my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also great joy. After a while Jesus said to me, ‘Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust You.’ The pale ray stands for water which makes souls righteous; the red ray stands for the blood which is the life of souls.”

As the third child born to a family of ten children, Helen Kowalska struggled alongside her family for survival on their small farm during World War I in the small Polish village of Glogowiec. Having very little education but a tremendous devotion to the Lord, Helen became a religious Sister in the convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Kraków, Poland. Upon taking her veil she received the name Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska. (For more information, contact Janet Davis: 203.416.1636 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))

04/04/2016 UPDATE—Click here for photos from the Mass


Learning, Loving God, and Having Fun
| April 01, 2016


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NORWALK—All Saints Catholic principal Linda Dunn narrates this short video that celebrates the All Saints Pre-School K3 and Pre-School K4 program.


“Pre-School is a warm, nurturing environment where children are able to grow and develop in a Christian atmosphere that emphasizes our loving faith, respect and consideration for others,” she Mrs. Dunn.

The curriculum for the 4 year olds includes daily religion lessons that promote love of God, kindness and service to others. The Happily Ever After Reading Program introduces the students to listening, comprehension and writing skills, letter recognition, phonological recognition, language and vocabulary.

Math, science and social studies are also a part of the curriculum. Children take an active part in the lessons and are encouraged to use manipulatives to understand the concepts being taught.

Pre-K classes are scheduled weekly for art, computers, library, music, physical education and Spanish. The daily schedule also includes center time, snack, outdoor play, lunch and rest time.

All Saints Catholic School is located at 139 West Rocks Road in Norwalk. It welcomes families of all races and religions to participate in its programs. If you are interested in learning more about our programs and taking a tour, please call Denise Vuoso, Director of Admissions at 203-847-3881, or send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).



Watch this joyful video visit to All Saints Catholic School PreK

Lebanese saint’s holy relics arrive at Danbury church
| April 01, 2016 • by Danbury News Times


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DANBURY—Until a few days ago, Monette Wilder had never heard of St. Charbel Makhlouf, a Lebanese saint.

She learned about St. Charbel, the Hermit of Lebanon, from friends, who said his relics would be displayed at St. Anthony Maronite Catholic Church in Danbury on Thursday and Friday. On Thursday afternoon, she brought her four children to the church on Granville Avenue to pray for their sick family and friends.

“I have never been so close to a relic like this,” said Wilder, of Katonah, N.Y. “I like having my kids around me to experience it.


Sister Mary Margaret Kiwan prays in front of the relics of Saint Charbel Makhlouf at St. Anthony's Church (photo by H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media)

St. Matthew Knights of Columbus help CT Fisher House
| April 01, 2016


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Citrus Sale through Wilton Kiwanis Club raise $2500 to help with building costs

NORWALK—The Knights of Columbus Council 14360 that meets at St. Matthew Parish in Norwalk presented a check in the amount of $2,500 to Attorney Kevin Creed, representative of the Fisher House of CT.


Fisher House is a wonderful organization that provides housing for veterans and their families while the veteran is going through treatments at a VA hospital. There is little or no cost to the veterans using the Fisher houses, and a new facility is being planned for the VA hospital in West Haven This check will be used for the project.

The funds for this donation came from a partnership between the St. Matthew Knights and the Kiwanis club of Wilton in their annual citrus sale, a fund raiser that Kiwanis has been doing for 23 years. This is the first time the Knights have formed this partnership and are looking to make it an annual event for their charitable funds. "When Brother Bud Taylor, who is also a member of the Kiwanis Club in Wilton, brought this idea to me and the council, we all said when do we start and unanimously chose Fisher House CT to be the recipient. I want to thank Brother Bud for doing an awesome job coordinating this great fundraiser," said K of C Council 14360 Grand Knight George Ribellino, Jr.

On top of the $6200 raised at their annual St. Patrick’s Day dinner earlier in the month, K of C Council #14360 has raised over $12,000 this fraternal year to help charities such as Fisher House, Homes for the Brave, Malta House, Notre Dame Convalescent Home and the St. Matthew Parish Food Pantry.

The goal of the Knights of Columbus Council at St. Matthew’s is to perform acts of charity. They are dedicated to providing those in need with a range of support from financial to tactical help in dealing with a wide variety of challenges. Council members work together to foster the founding principles of our order; Charity, Unity, Fraternity & Patriotism. Our aim as a council is to continue to identify specific needs in our community and muster support and help to alleviate these challenges and hardships to the best of our abilities and resources. For more info, go to saintmatthewknights.com and fisherhousect.org.


PHOTO: (L-R) Knight and Veteran Joe Giandurco, Grand Knight George Ribellino, Jr. and Attorney Kevin Creed, representative of Fisher House of CT.

Art cheers patients
| March 30, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Art students at St. Augustine Academy were encouraged by their teacher, Ashley Vivenzio, to make Easter cards for the patients at St. Vincent’s Medical Center. Students in grades 4-7 participated in the project.


Easter cheer for St. Vincent’s patients:
Lucinda Ames, coordinator of Workplace Spirituality,
receives handmade cards from Ashley Vivenzio,
art teacher at St. Augustine Academy

It took each student an entire class period to make a card, so each one is a handmade work of art. “My goal was to help students learn how their artwork can positively impact their community,” says Vivenzio.

Principal Andrew Malionek had first explored the possibility of the project with Deacon Tim Bolton, supervisor of pastoral care. Once contact was established, Vivenzio worked with Lucinda Ames, Workplace Spirituality/Mission Services coordinator to determine the kind of art project that would best lift the spirits of St. Vincent’s patients at Eastertime.

After the cards were completed, Ames brought them to three different floors in St. Vincent’s, including the cancer unit. “They were adorable!” she says, “The kids at brightened the days of patients who had to be in the hospital over Easter.”

Ames hopes that the St. Augustine students will be able to do another project for St. Vincent’s patients in the near future.


Photo: Easter cheer for St. Vincent’s patients: Lucinda Ames, coordinator of Workplace Spirituality, receives handmade cards from Ashley Vivenzio, art teacher at St. Augustine Academy

Judge Daniel F. Caruso and Mr. Joseph M. Mattone to receive the first Saint Pio Award in Trumbull, CT, on April 16
| March 29, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—The Saint Pio Foundation is proud to present the first “Saint Pio Award Ceremony,” which will take place at Tashua Knolls Golf Club & Banquets, located at 40 Tashua Knolls Lane, Trumbull, CT, on Saturday, April 16, 2016, at 6:30 pm. A cocktail reception will be followed by the gala dinner.


The Saint Pio Award has been established to recognize the selfless and outstanding contribution to the Catholic Church of those individuals who have strongly committed to support the Saint Pio Foundation and its vision.
 
Recipients of the Saint Pio Awards will be Judge Daniel F. Caruso, Fairfield Probate District Court, CT and Mr. Joseph M. Mattone Sr., Chairman and CEO The Mattone Group. Special guests of the event will be The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, Fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, and the famous American singer and actor Franc d’Ambrosio, best known for his history-making portrayal of the "Phantom" in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award-winning musical, The Phantom of The Opera. Franc is perhaps most familiar to movie audiences around the world for creating the role of Anthony Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather III. In that performance, he sang the Academy Award-winning theme song, “Speak Softly Love” (Brucia la Terra) in both the film and on the original motion picture soundtrack.
 
The event will include a special performance by Franc d’Ambrosio. Ticket price starts at $250.00.
 
For information and reservations, please call 203.416.1471, send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or visit the website www.saintpiofoundation.org


Reconcile with God, resurrect hope in others, pope urges at Easter
| March 27, 2016 • by Cindy Wooden and Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service


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VATICAN CITY—Easter is a feast of hope, a celebration of God's mercy and a call to pray for and assist all who suffer, Pope Francis said before giving his solemn blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city and the world).


The risen Jesus "makes us sharers of his immortal life and enables us to see with his eyes of love and compassion those who hunger and thirst, strangers and prisoners, the marginalized and the outcast, the victims of oppression and violence," the pope said March 27 after celebrating Easter morning Mass.

Easter in Rome dawned bright and sunny; in St. Peter's Square, the steps leading up to the basilica were turned into an abundant garden with thousands of tulips, daffodils and flowering bushes.

On Easter morning, the pope does not give a homily. Instead, with hands clasped in prayer and head bowed, he led the tens of thousands of people in the square in silent reflection.

After Mass, before giving his solemn blessing, Pope Francis said Easter should give people the courage to "blaze trails of reconciliation with God and with all our brothers and sisters."

Speaking about Christ's power over death and sin, the pope prayed that the Lord would touch places in the globe scarred by war, terrorism, poverty and environmental destruction.

"The risen Christ points out paths of hope to beloved Syria, a country torn by a lengthy conflict, with its sad wake of destruction, death, contempt for humanitarian law and the breakdown of civil concord," the pope said. "To the power of the risen Lord we entrust the talks now in course."

He prayed that the power of the Resurrection would "overcome hardened hearts and promote a fruitful encounter of peoples and cultures," particularly in Iraq, Yemen, Libya and the Holy Land.

"May the Lord of life also accompany efforts to attain a definitive solution to the war in Ukraine, inspiring and sustaining initiatives of humanitarian aid, including the liberation of those who are detained," he prayed.

On Easter and throughout the Holy Week liturgies that preceded it, Pope Francis showed special concern for the fate of refugees and migrants fleeing violence and poverty and for Christians facing persecution in the Middle East and other parts of the world.

At Rome's Colosseum Good Friday, after presiding over the Stations of the Cross, the pope offered a long meditation on how Christ continues to be scorned, tortured and crucified in suffering people around the world.

"O Cross of Christ," he said March 25, "today too we see you raised up in our sisters and brothers killed, burned alive, throats slit and decapitated by barbarous blades amid cowardly silence."

"O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the faces of children, of women and people, worn out and fearful, who flee from war and violence and who often only find death and many Pilates who wash their hands," he said.

Two days later, celebrating the Resurrection, Pope Francis said the Easter message "invites us not to forget those men and women seeking a better future, an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees—including many children -- fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice. All too often, these brothers and sisters of ours meet along the way death or, in any event, rejection by those who could offer them welcome and assistance."

Celebrating the Easter vigil March 26, Pope Francis said Easter is a celebration of hope, one that must begin within the hearts of each Christian.

"Christ wants to come and take us by the hand to bring us out of our anguish," he said in his homily. "This is the first stone to be moved aside this night: the lack of hope which imprisons us within ourselves. May the Lord free us from this trap, from being Christians without hope, who live as if the Lord were not risen, as if our problems were the center of our lives.

"Today is the celebration of our hope, the celebration of this truth: nothing and no one will ever be able to separate us from his love," the pope said.

"The Lord is alive and wants to be sought among the living," Pope Francis said. "After having found him, each person is sent out by him to announce the Easter message, to awaken and resurrect hope in hearts burdened by sadness, in those who struggle to find meaning in life. This is so necessary today."

During the Easter vigil, Pope Francis baptized eight women and four men, including Yong-joon Lee, the South Korean ambassador to Italy, who took the baptismal name, Stephen. The ambassador's wife, taking the name Stella, was also baptized. The other catechumens came from Italy, Albania, Cameroon, India and China.

One by one, the catechumens approached the pope who asked them if they wished to receive baptism. After responding, "Yes, I do," they lowered their heads as the pope, using a silver shell, poured water over their foreheads.

Confirming the 12 during the vigil, the pope asked the cardinals, bishops and priests present to join him in raising their hands and praying over the newly-baptized so that God would send forth the Holy Spirit upon them.

At the beginning of the vigil, after blessing the Easter fire, Pope Francis entered a darkened basilica, gently illuminated by the light of the Easter candle.

In his homily, reflecting on the Easter account from the Gospel of St. Luke, the pope noted how the disciples doubted the testimony of the women returning from the empty tomb.

Peter, he said, was the first of the men to rise and run to the tomb, choosing not to "succumb to the somber atmosphere of those days, nor was he overwhelmed by his doubts."

"This marked the beginning of Peter's resurrection, the resurrection of his heart. Without giving in to sadness or darkness, he made room for hope; he allowed the light of God to enter into his heart, without smothering it," the pope said.

Like Peter and the women, he added, Christians cannot discover life by being "bereft of hope" and "imprisoned within ourselves" but, instead, must allow Christ to bring life and break open their tombs, sealed by "the stones of our rancor and the boulders of our past."

While problems will always remain, he said, Jesus' resurrection is a sure foundation of Christian hope and not "mere optimism, nor a psychological attitude or desire to be courageous."

The Holy Spirit "does not remove evil with a magic wand. But he pours into us the vitality of life, which is not the absence of problems, but the certainty of being loved and always forgiven by Christ, who for us has conquered sin, death and fear," he said.

Christians are called to awaken the same hope in the hearts of others, Pope Francis said. Without such witness the church risks becoming "an international organization full of followers and good rules, yet incapable of offering the hope for which the world longs."


Bishop Issues Pastoral Letter On the “Synod Journey of Faith”
| March 26, 2016


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Click to read the Pastoral Letter

BRIDGEPORT—(March 27, 2016) In this Pastoral Letter, released on the Solemnity of Easter, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano provides a summary of the vision and mission that arose from Synod 2014 as the diocese works to implement its initiatives in the coming months and years.


The Bishop tells us that the new initiatives underway in the diocese from strategic planning to the Diocesan Leadership Institute “remain rooted in, and return to, the vision of the Synod. Only in this way will they bear lasting, spiritual fruit.”

The Bishop writes that “the Synod journey of faith” provides the “roadmap for realizing the New Evangelization” in the diocese.

He also reflects in a more personal way on the “wonderful opportunity of grace “ that the Lord has provided the diocesan family that came together in the 18-month Synod journey.

“It is a great sign of hope that our Church remains faithful to our Lord. Despite the challenges we face, we can and will confidently and joyfully move forward,” writes the Bishop, who expresses his gratitude to all those who have participated in this journey of faith and the ongoing process of renewal in the Diocese of Bridgeport.


Walking With Jesus
| March 25, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Gray skies overhead lent a sober tone to the multi-parish Good Friday procession in Bridgeport’s East End.



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

A thousand or more filled the street in front of St. Mary Parish, preparing to walk the Stations of the Cross down East Main Street. They came not only from the four parishes along the procession route but from throughout the city and from the neighboring towns of Stratford, Trumbull and Fairfield. With devotions in five languages—English, Spanish, Polish, Haitian Creole and Portuguese—the procession gave life to the rich diversity of the family of faith in Fairfield County.

“It’s beautiful to be representing part of what happened to Jesus,” said Kairyn Jimenez, who goes to Stratford High School and portrayed one of the women Jesus would meet at the third Station. “For me, it’s that Jesus died for us,” agrees young Christopher Monge, a member of St. Charles Parish and certainly one of the youngest guards in the procession. “We do this for the great love Jesus has for us,” summed up St. Mary’s Lydia Orozco, who stood with other women at the procession’s First Station, “Jesus is condemned to death.”

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano began the procession with the Act of Contrition in English, which was then taken up in each of the other languages. As the procession began, the songs and devotions drew neighbors along the route, who came out of doors, watched through windows and leaned over porches and came into their front yards, some of them joining in the prayers and hymns as the procession passed. Along busy East Main Street, closed to traffic for the procession, people came out of shops, delis, bakeries and restaurants, joining briefly or taking photos and videos.

East Main Street, which has welcomed generations of Irish, Polish, Hungarian and Italian immigrants over the decades, now rang with vigorous hymns representing its most recent communities as each in turn expressed their devotion to the crucified Lord.

The last three Stations of the Cross took place on the grounds of Our Lady of Fatima Portuguese parish. After hymns and prayers in Portuguese, Bishop Caggiano concluded with a prayer to Jesus Christ Crucified. But just as 2,000 years ago the crucifixion did not end with the death of Jesus, so, too, this day ended with a triumphant “Fifteenth Station”—the Resurrection of Jesus and his triumph over sin and death.

Just as this Good Friday procession reenacted the Passion and Death of Jesus, the faithful ended the observance with the sure and certain knowledge of the glory of Easter Sunday soon to come.


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

Pope to refugees: Despite differences, all people are God's children
| March 24, 2016 • by By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service


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ROME—In a moving gesture of brotherhood and peace, Pope Francis washed the feet of several refugees, including Muslims, Hindus and Copts.


Gestures, like Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, "speak louder than words," he said during the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper March 24.

Coming together, he added, is another gesture meant to show a desire to live in peace as brothers and sisters despite people's different cultural and religious backgrounds.

Hundreds of refugees were outside hoping to catch a glimpse of the pope as he made his way into the courtyard of the Center for Asylum Seekers at Castelnuovo di Porto, about 15 miles north of Rome.

Prior to his arrival, the pope sent some Easter presents for the center's guests: 200 chocolate Easter eggs, a wooden chess board, and several autographed soccer balls and baseballs.

After getting out of a blue four-door vehicle, the pope was greeted by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the main organizer of the Vatican's Year of Mercy initiatives, as well as the directors of the refugee center.

He was also introduced to three residents who would serve as his interpreters: Ibrahim from Afghanistan, Boro from Mali and Segen from Eritrea. One of the refugees handed the pope a marker, which the pontiff used to sign a banner depicting the flags of 26 nations, representing the countries of origin of the center's guests.

In his brief, off-the-cuff homily, the pope said there were two distinct gestures in the day's Gospel: Jesus serving and washing the feet of his disciples and Judas receiving money by Jesus' enemies to betray him.

"Today as well, there are two gestures. All of us here, (coming) together -- Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Copts, Evangelicals -- but (being) brothers, sons of the same God who want to live in peace," he said.

However, recalling the recent terrorist attack in Brussels, the pope said there was a second gesture made by those want war. Like Judas, he said, behind those who committed the attacks there are "arms traffickers who want blood, not peace."

"In this moment, when I do Jesus' same gesture -- to wash the feet of you 12 -- all of us are making this gesture of brotherhood. And all of us can say: We are diverse, we are different, we have different religions and cultures, but we are brothers and we want to live in peace," he said.

Acknowledging the suffering endured by the refugees, Pope Francis asked them to pray in "their own religious language" so that there may "always be brotherhood and goodness."

After his homily, the pope removed his vestments and put on a large white garment tied over his alb. He kneeled before each of the 12 people, washed each person's foot slowly and dried it.

The refugees barely contained their emotions, tears streaming down their faces as the pope bent low and kissed their feet. A young mother wiped her tears as the pope gazed at her and reached out to touch her baby.

The evening Mass was the second of two Holy Thursday liturgies for Pope Francis; the first was a morning chrism Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

Before going around and greeting each of the center's residents individually, Pope Francis asked them to remember the beauty of living together as brothers and sisters despite their different cultures, religions and traditions.

This beauty, he said, "has a name: peace and love."


Bishop Caggiano offers a Prayer to prepare for Holy Thursday
| March 24, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—On this Holy Thursday, as we contemplate the divine gift of the Eucharist, Christ’s Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, offered as food for our life’s journey towards heaven, let us meditate on the words of the hymn O Sacrament Most Holy:


  1. O Jesus, we adore you, Who, in your love divine, Conceal your mighty Godhead In forms of bread and wine. (Refrain): O sacrament most holy, O sacrament divine, All praise and all thanksgiving Be ev'ry moment thine!
  2. O Jesus, we adore you, our victim and our priest, Whose precious Blood and Body become our Sacred Feast. (Ref.)
  3. O Jesus, we adore you, Our Savior and our King, And with the saints and angels, our humble homage bring. (Ref.)
  4. O Jesus, we adore you; Come, live in us we pray, That all our thoughts and actions be yours alone today. (Ref.)
  5. O come, all you who labor In sorrow and in pain, Come, eat this bread from heaven; Your peace and strength regain. (Ref.)


Bishop urges priests to be true brothers in Christ
| March 23, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—“If we are not brothers to one another, we cannot be fathers to anyone else,” the Bishop said in his homily to priests throughout the diocese who attended the Chrism Mass held at St. Augustine Cathedral this afternoon.


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

More than 250 priests and deacons joined by religious and laity filled the cathedral for the annual Chrism Mass in which priests renew their priestly promise, and the holy oils used throughout the year are consecrated and blessed.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano told his brother priests they “have been given a great privilege to be called father,“ and of serving as the “spiritual father” of their people.

During the service, the Bishop blesses the Oil of the Catechumens, the Oil of the Infirm and the Holy Chrism (a mixture of olive oil and balsam used in ordinations and confirmation).

Describing the Holy Oils as “vehicles of God’s mercy in our midst,” the bishop said they would be used in “initiation and ordination, and to console the sick” in the coming year.

Standing before his priests in the center aisle, the bishop said that the “Lord asks much of us—to give our lives and to give generously.”

He said that at ordination priests receive the ability to “break open the word of God in Church” through preaching and administering the sacraments.

Noting that one important role of the priest is to “foster community” the bishop exhorted his priests to deepen their relationships with one another,

Pointing to the cross shrouded in purple above the main altar, the bishop said, “True leadership looks to the Cross--our lives poured out for the life of another. As priests we must always protect life and order in the Church.”

The bishop told priests that temptation is real and that evil lurks “even when we try to do God’s work.” He said that priests and all believers must overcome the temptation” to put ourselves first and to foster our own will, rather than God’s. “

After the homily the bishop led the priests through the renewal of their priestly promises.

“Are you resolved to renew in the presence of God’s holy people, the promise you once made? Are you resolved to be more united with the Lord Jesus and more closely conformed to him? Are you resolved to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God’s Eucharist,” he asked them.

To each of these questions the priests answered, “I am “ in unison. The bishop then asked the laity to pray for the priests and to pray for him.

Fr. Francisco Gomez-Franco, Pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Bridgeport, and Deacon Patrick Toole of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Nichols served as Masters of Ceremonies for the Mass.

Thomas J. Marino, Director of Music Ministries of St. Aloysius Church in New Canaan, led the Diocesan Synod Choir in the music. Marjorie Donolds served as soloist.

Seminarians from the diocese acted as altar servers for the 90-minute liturgy. Reading were delivered by Maureen Ciardiello, Director of the Respect Life Office, and Jackie Herbert of Fairfield, a member of the Liturgical Commission.

In his final blessing of the oils, the bishop prayed, “We beseech you, Almighty God, that those You renew by your Sacraments may merit to become the pleasing fragrance of Christ.”

After Mass, the holy oils that were consecrated on the altar were distributed to priests who will use them in their parishes when blessing the sick and in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

Click to read Chrism Mass Homily of Pope Francis


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


Listen to the Bishop’s Chrism Mass Homily

Record breaking!
| March 23, 2016


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NEW CANAAN—Students and parents from St. Aloysius School in New Canaan came out in force to run a food drive for the benefit of Catholic Charities’ New Covenant Center during the weekend of March 12-13.



Due to the incredible efforts spanned over 10 hours at Acme Supermarket, Walter Stewart’s and Mrs. Green’s, the entire St. Aloysius team collected 4,000 food items and $625 to help feed almost a thousand people who live below the Connecticut State Poverty line.  

OVER FOUR THOUSAND!

First Selectman Rob Mallozzi stopped by the Walter Stewart’s station to show his support (see photo).

Then on the following Monday afternoon, about 30 students and several parents came to New Covenant Center to unload, unpack, re-organize, and stock the collected items in bins and on the pantry shelves.

It was the single most successful food drive ever for New Covenant Center.

Catholic Charities and New Covenant Center are extremely grateful to the St. Aloysius School community and the residents of New Canaan for their extraordinary generosity. Thank you!


Bishop to celebrate Chrism Mass today at 3 pm
| March 23, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will celebrate the Chrism Mass today (March 23) 3 pm at St. Augustine Cathedral in downtown Bridgeport. All are invited to attend.


More than 300 priests and deacons will process into the cathedral for the yearly Chrism Mass in which priests renew their priestly promises and the Bishop blesses the sacramental oils that are used throughout the year in parishes.

The Chrism Mass traditionally manifests the unity of priests with their bishops and includes a homily in which the Bishop directly addresses his brother priests in attendance.

During the service, the Bishop blesses the Oil of the Catechumens, the Oil of the Infirm and the Holy Chrism (a mixture of olive oil and balsam used in ordinations and confirmation).

After Mass, the holy oils that were consecrated on the altar were distributed to priests who will use them in their parishes when blessing the sick and in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

Chrism Masses are traditionally celebrated during Holy Week or on the morning of Holy Thursday. It is a beautiful liturgy that celebrates the communion of the Church.


Days from Palm Sunday to Easter ‘draw upon 2,000 years of tradition’
| March 22, 2016 • by By FRANCIS CARR Jr., Hour Staff Writer


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NORWALK—For Norwalker Denise Zako, the highly choreographed rituals of Palm Sunday help to humanize her religion.


Jerry Meehan lays out palms at the Palm Sunday service at St. Phillip Church in Norwalk. (Photo by Matthew Vinci)

During the Palm Sunday service, Catholics re-enact Jesus’s final visit to Jerusalem, when, according to tradition, his followers showered him with palm fronds as he entered the city riding a mule.

The ceremony, also known as Passion Sunday, includes an account of Christ’s condemnation to death and subsequent execution, during which he cries, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

In this plea, “Towards the end, even though he is the son of God, he became more human-like,” Zako said Sunday after attending a noon service at St. Philip Church with husband, Matt.

A crucial event for Catholics, each Palm Sunday service requires weeks of planning and preparation, according to St. Philip Pastor Michael Boccaccio.

“Obviously, it’s a very solemn way to begin Holy Week,” said Boccaccio after Sunday’s Mass, which he performed. “It incorporates people in many ways.”

As one of the oldest Christian holy days, it can be challenging to capture in an hourlong ceremony the breadth of what Palm Sunday represents, Boccaccio said.

The days from Palm Sunday to Easter are “not just the Catholic Church’s, but the Christian Church’s oldest liturgies ... drawing on roughly 2,000 years of tradition,” Boccaccio told The Hour. “Therefore, capturing the originality and the sanctity of them require a lot of work.”

In a typical Palm Sunday Mass, each parishioner entering the church is handed a palm frond to be blessed with holy water during the service. (These same fronds are then collected and burned to make ashes for Ash Wednesday.)

The Mass itself involves a call-and-response reenactment of the Passion, wherein the parishioners play the role of the crowd condemning Jesus to die. Participants then file out of the church in silence.

A rehearsal involving more than 30 people was held last weekend to ensure Sunday's service would go smoothly, Boccaccio said.

Greeters, ushers, choir members, artists, cantors and scripture readers convened to practice their roles—distributing palms, playing music at the proper time, decorating the altar, even managing traffic patterns outside the church.

“Basically, the rehearsal was getting everything set up, from greeting people to leaving in silence,” Boccaccio told The Hour. “It’s very intense, in the good sense of the word.”

“If you don't do liturgy well, then don't do it,” Boccaccio added.

In Catholicism, Palm Sunday marks the beginning of a series of important dates known as Holy Week: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday will all take place in the coming week.


“In a way, it’s anticipating (Easter) next Sunday, when Jesus comes out of the tomb,” Boccaccio told The Hour.

For Boccaccio, the act of imitating the mob that condemned Christ to die contains a model of behavior Catholics should avoid.

“No matter which (account of Christ’s condemnation) we read, all of them indicate that Jesus was denied and abandoned,” Boccaccio explained. “The invitation I give to myself and the people gathered in prayer is to spiritually do just the opposite.”

“As part of our Holy Week prayer services, let us say to Jesus ‘I will stay with you and I will not deny you,’” Boccaccio told the congregation during the service. “That’s personally very important to me, to assure the lord that while others abandoned him, we would not.”

A unique element in ceremonies at St. Philip is the contribution of art from members of the St. Philip Artist Guild. On Sunday, a hand-painted banner depicting a crown of thorns hung behind the altar. Display boxes lined in Palm Sunday's traditional red contained creative palm frond arrangements.

“(The artists’) input into the design of the church is just phenomenal, and it reflects what we’re celebrating,” Boccaccio said.

“Preparing all this requires weeks and weeks and weeks,” Bocaccio added. “No person could ever do it alone, and I’m fortunate to have such creative talent around.”


Working on a Communications Plan
| March 22, 2016


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FAIRFIELD—Patrick Turner, Director of Strategic and Pastoral Planning for the Diocese of Bridgeport, and Sue Stone of Stamford, a member of the diocesan Strategic Plan Commission, try out the anchor desk at Sacred Heart University studios in the new School of Communication and Media Arts in the new $50 million Frank and Marisa Martire building at the university.


As part of its overall Strategic Planning process, the diocese has created a Communications sub-committee to explore internal and external communications that support Synod goals of empowering the young church, build up communities of faith, foster evangelical outreach and promote works of charity and justice in Fairfield County. Otis Shelton of New Fairfield is chairing the communications subcommittee with Sue Stone. Dr. James Castonguay, Director of the School of Communication & Media Art at SHU, led a tour of the new facility after the meeting. The sub-committee is meeting to create an overall framework that improves communications with parishes and diocesan institutions.


The Kennedy Center Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting to feature Bishop Frank J. Caggiano
| March 22, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Celebrating 65 Years Strong, The Kennedy Center Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting is set for Thursday, April 7 at the Holiday Inn, 1070 Main Street, Bridgeport.


The social hour will begin at 6 pm, followed by the dinner, annual meeting, and awards at 7 pm This year’s theme is “I Am The Kennedy Center.”

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will deliver the keynote address.

The Awards presentation will include the following community and employer recipients: Competitive Employer Award—The Green Team/Greater Bridgeport Community Enterprises, Inc.; Media Award—Fairfield County Business Journal/division of Westfair Communications, Inc.; and Community Service Award—Sacred Heart University. Consumer awards will be announced at the Annual Meeting.

Generous sponsors are: Community sponsor—DDN Consulting Services, LLC from Hamden; and Stakeholder Sponsors—Collins Medical Equipment from Fairfield, Pullman & Comley, LLC from Bridgeport and Whittlesey & Hadley, PC/The Technology Group, LLC from Hartford.

The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano was installed as Fifth Bishop of Bridgeport on September 19, 2013 at St. Theresa Church in Trumbull. In his installation homily, he spoke of the needs to build bridges to youth, to all those who are troubled, who are neglected and to Catholics who no longer participate in the life of the Church.

Area residents serving on the Annual Meeting committee include:

Fairfield residents Pietro Andres and Joan Fleitas; Bridgeport residents Mary Brown  and Teri Brown; Trumbull residents Joe Dennin, Randye Kaye, David Kmetz and Martin D. Schwartz;  Jo Ann McMullan of Westport; Dan Long of Cheshire; and Rachelle Mitchell of Milford.

The Kennedy Center, founded in 1951, is an internationally accredited, non-profit, community-based rehabilitation organization that currently serves 2,400 individuals annually. The agency actively responds to the needs of the community by offering innovative, comprehensive service options to persons with disabilities and special needs, from birth to senior years. The Kennedy Center operates 30 community experience programs, 16 group homes, an industries program composed of six businesses, supported and competitive employment and job placement services, a family support and respite service, travel training, and a variety of children’s programs.   

Tickets for the Annual Awards Dinner are $50 per person. Register online at www.thekennedycenterinc.org or call 203.365.8522, ext. 213. 


Bishop Caggiano Reflects on the Beginning of Holy Week
| March 21, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT—Today we commemorate the Lord’s triumphal entry into the City of David. It signals the beginning of Holy Week—a week we call holy precisely because we recall the great events of our salvation in the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection.


It is a week that we are asked to keep holy by our prayer, reflection and participation in the services of the Easter Triduum.

The distribution of palms is an ancient custom in the Church that gives us an important spiritual lesson to reflect upon the rest of the week’s salvific events. For in the time of Jesus, the spreading of palms and cloaks at the feet of a dignitary was most often reserved for Cesar, the Emperor of Rome and his dignitaries. It was a sign of the reverence and respect that they demanded from their subjects. It was also a sign of a person’s subjugation to the Emperor’s rule, for it was a rule that was marked with brutal violence, suppression and torture. As such, it was a gesture that was designed to invoke images of power, military might and conquest.

The people who greeted Jesus this day in Jerusalem afforded him this same privilege, in a vain attempt to make Jesus their conqueror and king. However, Jesus did not accept the privilege as they offered it. Rather, he transformed it into an occasion to reveal a far greater power than any military might or emperor of this world could ever wield. He entered the City of David as the true King who brought with him the power of divine, self-sacrificing love. Such love would see Jesus sit not on a throne of gold but on the throne of the Cross. It is this same love that on Easter morning revealed His divine Kingship and gained for His believers a Kingdom of everlasting glory and life.

On Palm Sunday, we are invited to walk with our King and experience the power of His love. We are asked to join Him in the Upper Room, walk with Him to Calvary and encounter in awe His empty Tomb. This is the week of Love’s eternal and enduring victory over sin, death, cynicism, loneliness, hurt and betrayal. It is a week that invites the heart of every man, woman and child to encounter how wildly God loves us we and how desperately our neighbors and friends need to feel God’s love through you and me.

It is the only journey that matters. It is the journey of Holy Week. Are you and I ready to begin?


Workshop moves Strategic Planning process forward
| March 21, 2016


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NEW FAIRFIELD—More than 100 representatives from parishes throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport attended the “Pastoral Planning 101 Workshop” on Saturday at St. Edward the Confessor Parish in New Fairfield.

Click to view photos


It was the second workshop this month to outline the parish pastoral planning process and help parishes create a “roadmap to the future,” as they explore the challenges and opportunities ahead.

“We’ve educated about 400 task force members between the two sessions, and helped them understand the process for reviewing their parish sacramental and financial data, for responding to the parish self-assessment questionnaire, and identifying their parish pastoral priorities,” said Patrick Turner, Director of Strategic and Pastoral Planning

“The feedback and participation was engaging, and the taskforce members are so involved and excited about this process, that we’re really looking forward to continuing to work with them,” Turner said.

Pastors have formed the task forces, which can include parish trustees, members of the finance and parish councils and other parishioners who are committed to the process of renewal.

As part of the process each parish has been sent a resource manual that offers a “snapshot” of the parishes based on sacrament, financial and social data in order to analyze the trends.

“We're asking the parishes to look at every aspect of their operation and to plan—to plan better, to plan for a bright and optimistic future,” said Fr. Michael Dogali, Episcopal Vicar for Strategic Planning.
 
Task forces will review the data in a “state of the parish” meeting in order to respond to a self-assessment and planning questionnaire identifying strengths and challenges.
 
"The bishop has asked parishes to set long-term goals that go at least two years into the future, and he wants pastoral planning to be a part of every parish,” Fr. Dogali told taskforce members.
 
Patrick Turner said that the two workshops have given parishes the tools to move the strategic planning process forward and began to create a long-term plan.
 
“People are beginning to really have an understanding about what makes a vibrant parish and how do we create that within our own faith communities."  
 
The Strategic Planning initiative was overwhelming endorsed by delegates to the recently completed Synod 2014.


Regina Pacis students hold “Baby Shower” for Birthright Moms
| March 21, 2016


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NORWALK—“The children shared this beautiful lenten almsgiving as one big family in Christ. It started as a simple idea and than became a beautiful fundraiser that everyone got involved,” said Karla Martinez, whose five children attend Regina Pacis Academy in Norwalk.



“The children got together to organize a babyshower for Birthright of Norwalk, because they know very well what birthright does for babies and for those mothers in need of guidance or help with just diapers or clothing for their newborns,” she added. The baby shower was held on Thursday, March 17 at the school gym, a representative from birthright came over to gather all the donations the kids brought. The entire school participated and the kids gather from diapers, baby clothes to maternity clothes for those mothers in need. Regina Pacis Academy is located at 8 Leonard Street on the grounds of St. Mary Parish in Norwalk. For information call 203.642.4501.


Bishop visits St. Joseph High School to celebrate Feast of St. Joseph
| March 18, 2016


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TRUMBULL— Bishop Frank J. Caggiano visited St. Joseph High School in Trumbull Friday to celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph and to encourage students who also dedicated a day of service in honor of St. Joseph.


The student body filled the gymnasium for a morning Mass that included more than 300 grandparents who visited the school as part of Grandparents Day.

The bishop told the students that St. Joseph is venerated for his obedience, and that by trusting in God, he was given the “two greatest gifts” in human history, the Blessed Virgin Mary and her son, Jesus.

“When you are tempted to say no, or to do it your way, not "their way," remember Joseph. Remember what he teaches you and I- if we trust the ones we love, we will not be giving up anything, but we will gain far more than we can ever imagine,” the bishop said. .

During the service, the bishop confirmed a student and also blessed student Eucharistic Ministers.

It was a day of festivities throughout the high school with students involved in a variety or projects including assembling Easter baskets for the poor.

In his remarks to students, Dr. James Keane, St. Joseph High School Principal, thanked Bishop Caggiano and the students grandparents for visiting the school. He also reminded students of the importance of the Catholic identity of St. Joseph’s.

“A great deal happens at St Joseph’s. This is a dynamic community characterized by near-constant activity. However, the most important thing we do, that which calls us into being, is that we are a Roman Catholic, Mission-centered, academic community of faith.

“More than our academic and athletic triumphs, and I assure you that they are many...our Catholic values, the quality of our theological reflection, the caliber of our Christian service, and the vibrancy of our Campus Ministry Program are what define us. It is why we have created this day as a celebration of The Feast of St Joseph and as a statement of our Catholic identity,” Dr. Keane said.

Following Mass bishop dedicated the Project Rachael Chapel on the school grounds.

Saint Joseph's Day, March 19, is the principal feast day of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He is the foster-father of Jesus Christ. Joseph is the patron saint of workers and has several feast days. He was also declared to be the patron saint and protector of the Catholic Church by Pope Pius IX in 1870, and is the patron of several countries and regions.

St. Joseph High School is located at 2320 Huntington Turnpike
Trumbull, CT 06611
For more information visit the web: www.sjcadets.org


It was a great, great day!
| March 18, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT— It was a great day for the City of Bridgeport and students from diocesan Catholic schools who “put on the green” and marched in the noontime parade through the streets of the downtown.


Students from Catholic Academy of Bridgeport were joined by marchers from Catholic schools in Stratford, Trumbull and Fairfield, and Catholic high schools throughout the diocese.

Kathleen Casey, Associated Superintendent of School, waved to the crowd along the parade route from a Triumph sports car, while Fr. Peter Lynch, pastor of St. Ann Parish in Black Rock, watched the parade with many of his parishioners and students from the St. Ann campus of Catholic Academy.

Catholic school Students from Catholic Schools in Bridgeport and surrounding towns turned out for

The day began with the traditional 8 am St. Patrick's Day Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at St. Augustine Cathedral.

In his homily, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano told the gathering that the Irish Church historically sent missionaries to every corner of the world and that the Catholic Church was blessed by their "call to mission."

The Mass commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, which led to Irish independence and the eventual formation of the Irish Republic.



Alanna Cavanagh Kabel served as Grand Marshall of this year's festivities, while Fred Cotter served as Chairman and Patricia McDonnell as Chairwoman of the 34th annual event.




St. Patrick's Day Mass
| March 18, 2016


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BRIDGEPORT— More than 300 men and women turned out for the St. Patrick's Day Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral in downtown Bridgeport this morning.


In his homily, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano told the gathering that the Irish Church historically sent missionaries to every corner of the world and that the Catholic Church was blessed by their "call to mission."

The Bishop discussed his own visits to Ireland including his preaching at the Youth 2000 Summer Festival in Tipperary, where he was impressed by the faith of many Irish youth. He said their faith has deep roots in the Irish missionary spirit that helped to bring Christ to the world.

Fr. John Ringley, pastor of the Cathedral Parish, and Fr. Peter Lynch, Pastor of St. Ann Church, concelebrated the Mass with Bishop Caggiano.

The Mass commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, which led to Irish independence and the eventual formation of the Irish Republic.

Alanna Cavanagh Kabel is serving as Grand Marshall of this year's festivities, while Fred Cotter is serving as Chairman and Patricia McDonnell as Chairwoman of the annual event.

Scriptural readings were delivered by Samantha Mitchell, 2016 Miss Shamrock, and Adrian Coyle, 2016 Mr. Shamrock.

The Lauralton Hall Choir sang "Our Lady of Knock" as the Communion Hymn, "Hail Mary Gentle Woman," and "St. Patrick's Breastplate" for the recessional.

The St. Patrick's Day Parade, which will feature student marchers from Bridgeport Catholic schools, will begin at Noon from Harbor Yard.




USCCB President Urges Support for Petition to Stop Christian Genocide
| March 16, 2016


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WASHINGTON—The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, issued an urgent call, March 15, to support a petition to stop genocide in the Middle East and convince the U.S. Department of State to include Christians in any formal  declaration of genocide.


The call to action was issued days before the U.S. Department of State is expected to make a decision on the issue, and as a congressional resolution gains support in Congress.

“For months, the Catholic Church has been a voice for Christians and other  religious minorities facing the evil of deadly persecution,” Archbishop Kurtz  said. “Please, make sure your name is added to the witness. The very future  of the ancient Christian presence in the Middle East is at stake.”

The petition is available at: www.stopthechristiangenocide.org.

Archbishop Kurtz’ full statement follows:


Join me in the Pledge to Stop Christian Genocide

A Statement from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Today, the people of God must speak up for our brothers and sisters facing genocide in the Middle East. I urge every Catholic to sign the petition at www.stopthechristiangenocide.org. As a people of faith, we must convince the United States Department of State to include Christians in any formal  declaration of genocide.

For months, the Catholic Church has been a voice for Christians and other  religious minorities facing the evil of deadly persecution. Now, the State Department is expected to make a decision within days. A resolution, H. Con. Res. 75, is also gaining bipartisan support in Congress. Please, make sure  your name is added to the witness. The very future of the ancient Christian presence in the Middle East is at stake.

I am grateful to my brother bishops, the Knights of Columbus and all the faithful who have struggled to keep a focus on suffering Christians in the national debate. Rest assured of my continued prayers and support.

With each passing day, the roll of modem martyrs grows. While we rejoice in their ultimate victory over death through the power of Jesus’ love, we must also help our fellow Christians carry the Cross of persecution and, as much as possible, help relieve their suffering. By doing so, the Middle East and the world will be made safer for people of every faith to live in peace.


Global knowledge at Geography Bee
| March 16, 2016


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DANBURY—The Knights of Columbus McGivney Council #29 in Danbury held its Sixth Annual Regional Catholic Geography Bee on March 12, with 26 students in grades 5 through 8 representing ten schools (Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton, St. Mary in Ridgefield, St. Joseph in Danbury, St. Peter in Danbury, St. Gregory the Great in Danbury, St. Mary in Bethel, St. Joseph in Brookfield, St. Rose of Lima in Newtown, Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich, and Greenwich Catholic School) grappling with 112 questions about world, North American and regional geography.


Zachary Meyerson, in Grade 7 at St. Gregory the Great School in Danbury, won the bee in a tie-breaker by identifying eight as the number of Canadian provinces and territories that border the United States, after advancing through eight rounds based on his knowledge ranging from Chesapeake Bay to Nevada to Vancouver to Mongolia. Marcel Melendez, in Grade 7 at Greenwich Catholic School, placed second by applying his knowledge ranging from Ohio to Germany to the Mediterranean coast of Africa. Avery Simoneau, in Grade 7 at St. Mary School in Ridgefield, took third place using her knowledge of Boston, Seattle, Haiti and Japan.

The three are shown here with Bee officials Thomas Burns and Nanci Stockmann.
Each won awards from the Knights and from Immaculate High School, which was represented on the judges panel by Thomas Burns, director of admissions (and member of  K of C Council #29), and Nanci Stockmann from the Social Studies faculty.

(Thanks to Mike Farkas, the Knights’ photographer for this event, we have 76 pictures from the Bee at Shutterfly.com, “share site,” album “KOFC McGivney Council 29.”)


Ministry Fair at Our Lady Star of the Sea Draws a Crowd
| March 15, 2016


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STAMFORD—The Lord blessed us with a beautiful weekend for our first Ministry Fair and also a spectacular turnout! Parishioners came together after each Mass the weekend of March 5th/6th to highlight all the good already being done and to learn about new ministry opportunities.


(Photo by Ryan Day)

In response to the Synod, Our Lady Star of the Sea invited the entire parish last June to dialogue about the needs of the community and how to meet those needs.

Then, a survey was conducted in the fall with all the findings organized into 7 distinct ministry areas including Evangelization, Liturgy and Music, Spirituality, Outreach, Fellowship, Youth, and Senior Activities. Each ministry is excited about embarking on this faith-filled journey in a collaborative effort to serve others and bear fruit all in thanksgiving to God.

Everyone’s prayerful reflections on their gifts made this event of learning more about ministry possibilities and sharing good conversation and food with their OLSS family a fun-filled event. Many thanks to all for their generous contributions of self!


Mother Teresa to be canonized September 4; pope sets other sainthood dates
| March 15, 2016 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


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VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis will declare Blessed Teresa of Kolkata a saint at the Vatican September 4.


A poster of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata and Missionaries of Charity
are seen in Kolkata, India, in this September 5, 2007, file photo.
Pope Francis will declare her a saint at the Vatican September 4,
the conclusion of the Year of Mercy jubilee for those engaged
in works of mercy.                (CNS photo/Jayanta Shaw, Reuters)

The date was announced March 15 during an "ordinary public consistory," a meeting of the pope, cardinals and promoters of sainthood causes that formally ends the sainthood process.

At the same consistory, the pope set June 5 as the date for the canonizations of Blessed Stanislaus Papczynski of Poland, founder of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, and Blessed Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad of Sweden, who re-founded the Bridgettine sisters.

In addition, Pope Francis declared that October 16 he would celebrate Mass for the canonizations of Argentina's “gaucho priest,” Blessed Jose Brochero, and Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio, a 14-year-old Mexican boy martyred for refusing to renounce his faith during the Cristero War of the 1920s.

Setting the dates concludes a long process of studying the lives and writings of the sainthood candidates:

—Mother Teresa was widely known as a living saint as she ministered to the sick and the dying in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the world. Although some people criticized her for not also challenging the injustices that kept so many people so poor and abandoned, her simple service touched the hearts of millions of people of all faiths.

Born to an ethnic Albanian family in Skopje, in what is now part of Macedonia, she went to India in 1929 as a Sister of Loreto and became an Indian citizen in 1947. She founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950.

Shortly after she died in 1997, St. John Paul II waived the usual five-year waiting period and allowed the opening of the process to declare her sainthood. She was beatified in 2003.

After her beatification, Missionary of Charity Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, the postulator of her sainthood cause, published a book of her letters, "Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light." The letters illustrated how, for decades, she experienced what is described as a "dark night of the soul" in Christian spirituality; she felt that God had abandoned her. While the letters shocked some people, others saw them as proof of her steadfast faith in God, which was not based on feelings or signs that he was with her.

The date chosen for her canonization is the eve of the 19th anniversary of her death and the date previously established at the Vatican for the conclusion of the Year of Mercy pilgrimage of people like her who are engaged in works of mercy.

—Blessed Papczynski founded the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception in Poland in the 17th century. Today the Marians are special promoters of the Divine Mercy devotion of St. Faustina Kowalska.

Born in 1631, he was ordained as a Piarist priest, but left the order after 10 years. His new congregation was established officially in 1679 and he died in 1701. He was beatified in Poland in 2007.

—Blessed Hesselblad was born in Faglavik, Sweden, in 1870 and went to the United States at the age of 18 in search of work to help support her family. She studied nursing in New York and, impressed by the faith of the Catholics she cared for, began the process of entering the Catholic Church. Coming from a Lutheran family, she was conditionally baptized by a Jesuit priest in Washington, D.C. On a pilgrimage to Rome, she visited the home of the 14th-century St. Brigid of Sweden and was welcomed by the Carmelite sisters who were then living there.

She received permission from the pope to make religious vows under the rule of St. Brigid and re-found the Bridgettine order that had died out in Sweden after the Protestant Reformation. She was beatified in 2000.

—Blessed Brochero, the "gaucho priest," was born in Argentina in 1840 and died in 1914. Ordained for the Archdiocese of Cordoba, he spent years traveling far and wide by mule to reach his flock. Pope Francis, in a message in 2013 for the priest's beatification—a ceremony scheduled before the Argentine pope was elected—said Father Brochero truly had "the smell of his sheep."

He gained particular fame for his work caring for the sick and dying during a cholera epidemic in 1867. With his own hands, he built churches and chapels and opened paths through the western mountains of Cordoba province. During his travels, he contracted Hansen's disease, more commonly known as leprosy; many people believe he was infected by sharing a cup of mate, an herbal tea, with someone who already had the disease.

—Blessed Sanchez was martyred in Mexico in 1928, just weeks before his 15th birthday. In 1926 Mexican President Plutarco Elias Calles had introduced tough anti-clerical laws and confiscated church property across the country. Some 90,000 people were killed in the ensuing Cristero war before the government and church reached an accord in 1929.

Young Sanchez wanted to fight in the war alongside his brothers, but he was too young. Eventually, he was allowed to be the flag bearer of a unit. During an intense battle, he was captured by government troops, who ordered him to renounce his faith. He refused, even when tortured. The boy was executed about two weeks later. He was beatified in 2005.


Local and Global Educational Issues Converge
| March 13, 2016


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FAIRFIELD—Global and local challenges converge around issues of education and poverty, speakers at the 8th Annual Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice (CAPP) Educators; Communion Breakfast said this morning at Sacred Heart University.


Jim Ziolkowski, founder of BuildOn, an international non-profit organization, said that “the children of Burkina Faso in West Africa and the children of Bridgeport face the same challenges” of poverty and inequality .

Mr. Ziolkowski was presented the CAPP “Educator of the Year” Aware for his efforts in building schools and supporting poor students throughout the globe.

“What needs to change in our churches and our schools?” asked Ziolkowski , whose BuildOn programs have transformed the lives of inner city American youth along with young people in the developing world.

He said his efforts “to break the cycle of poverty through education” have grown out of his faith and the courage of those working to change their lives.

Thomas W. Burnford, acting President of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), said that education “is a human right based in human dignity” and that poor children in the U.S. are often stuck in failing schools.

In his talk on the importance of Catholic education, he advocated for federal government support for Catholic Schools in order to give parents the choice to better serve their children.

Burnford, who is the father of three young children in a Catholic School in his home state of Maryland, said that education is a “’social justice” issue and inalienable right” around the world.

He said that one of the most important challenges for Catholic education “is to make it accessible to the poor,” adding that equal education unites a society and “raises everyone up.”He said there are 6, 525 Catholic schools across the United States that not only educate young people but “form them in the faith.”

He said that Catholic schools “raise the bar” on education because “to know, love and serve God,” is our mission. “We want young people to know they are not just citizens of a country but of people working to get to heaven.

Burnford said that Vatican II documents prophesized the importance of education around the globe in elevating human dignity and posited that parents should have educational choice in the selection of schools for their children.

More than 200 turned out for the Communion Breakfast, which began with Bishop Frank Caggiano celebrating the Educator’s Mass in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Sacred Heart.

The Bishop told educators that they were entrusted with a “sublime mission” of educating students in the faith.

During the meeting Mr. Robert Nalewajek, President of CAPP USA announced that Bishop Caggiano has been invited to serve on the CAPP board by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. He also honored Dr. Ralph Burke of Fairfield for his educational leadership and for his efforts in founding and guiding the CAPP Educators’ Communion Breakfast.

“During this time of change and challenge in Catholic education, it is good for us to come together in faith to discuss these issues,” the Bishop said. CAPP was founded in 1993 to encourage business people, academics and other professionals to study and promote Catholic social teaching. It is named for Pope John Paul’s encyclical of the same name that marked the 100th anniversary of the landmark papal document on social responsibility, Rerum Novarum. The Diocese of Bridgeport is one of three pioneering dioceses in the United States to establish a chapter.