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Students experience the power of prayer
| November 25, 2014


DARIEN—On October 20, middle school students  at St. Thomas More Parish celebrated a Living Rosary. Each student recited a prayer of the Rosary aloud and lit a candle to symbolize the power of prayer. They participated in the Joyful and the Sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary. For information on St. Thomas More Parish go to:

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A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Happy Eucharistein!
| November 24, 2014


I had to do some research for this blog. Although research can be tedious, it is usually rewarded with the gift of increased knowledge. Again, I have to give the Internet a big “thumbs up” for allowing me to do some significant research in a rapid manner. Despite the pitfalls of our online culture, in my opinion, the Internet is and can be a huge boon for all who are seeking to increase their knowledge about God and the Catholic faith.

First, our English word, Eucharist, is taken from the Greek verb, Eucharistein. At first, I thought that Eucharist was taken from the Greek word, Eucharistia, but Eucharistia is a noun. It took a little digging, but I finally found what I was looking for -- the verb form of Eucharist, which is Eucharistein.

After finding the word, Eucharistein, I wondered if it was correct, because it sounds more German than Greek to me. Then again, languages (other than English), have never been my strong suit. To paraphrase John Belushi in “Animal House”: “Seven years of French down the drain!” (I bet you never thought I could mention “Animal House” and the Eucharist in the same blog post! ).

What I determined through online research is that our Eucharist is primarily a verb rather than a noun. Eucharist, from the Greek, means “to give thanksgiving.” Each time we celebrate the Eucharist, we are giving thanksgiving to God, in the most perfect way possible. This is what Vatican II speaks about when it encourages us to have a “conscious” participation in the liturgy.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass can be taken as a liturgical unity that comprises the highest, most perfect prayer of thanksgiving that we can offer to God. It is Catholic doctrine that no prayer is more pleasing to God than one’s participation in the Mass.

Each time we celebrate Mass, we are giving perfect praise and thanksgiving to God, in prayer and action taught to us by Jesus himself, culminating in the institution of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper.

When we sit down this year to enjoy a Thanksgiving Day meal, it is important to remember that this American celebration was never intended to be purely secular. As with many traditions in American society, militant atheists and an over-reaching relativism has rendered many Christian traditions merely “popular,” in the sense that they are for the people, regardless of religious beliefs or non-beliefs.

As Catholics, it is good to participate in our national holiday of Thanksgiving, but it is also important to remember its Christian roots. In terms of apologetics, it is good for Catholics to be secure in their knowledge of Christian American history, because there are many who claim today that America was never founded “as a Christian country.”

While it is good for Catholics to celebrate Thanksgiving Day as an American national holiday, it is more important for Catholics to remember that we “Keep Holy the Lord’s Day” each Sunday by celebrating the Holy Eucharist. The Catholic life requires that we be a people who give thanksgiving to God!

To support my claim that we were indeed founded as a Christian country, and that we risk ruin as a nation by trying to “cleanse” ourselves of our Christian identity, I have pasted below respectively the Thanksgiving proclamations of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. It is hard for me to believe that I was born only 100 years or so after Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation. Oh, how things have changed in America!

It might be a good tradition to print these proclamations out and have a good reader proclaim them to any and all gathered at your table on Thanksgiving Day! It is always good for us as Americans to remember the historical foundations of our traditions, but it is also important to remember the important role that thanksgiving to God has played in our public, civic and personal lives as Americans.


Thanksgiving Proclamation


Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
Go. Washington


Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President Abraham Lincoln, October 3, 1863

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth."

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The Friendsgiving Potluck dinner at St. Theresa's was a success
| November 24, 2014


The First Annual Young Adult Friendsgiving Potluck dinner took place Friday, November 21 at St. Theresa's Parish in Trumbull. Their Young Adult Group teamed up with St. John the Evangelist Parish from Stamford to host the event. Everyone shared in delicious homemade food and good conversation. By having this annual event, we are starting a presence in the Diocese of Bridgeport to share events and fellowship with other Young Adult Groups in Fairfield County. For info on Catholic Young Adult Groups (ages 21-35) news and events in Fairfield County Don't miss upcoming social at Two Roads Brewery in Stratford on Dec. 6 or DJ Ice Skate Dec. 5 in Danbury!

Catholic Young Adults are meeting in groups all around Fairfield County and the Diocese of Bridgeport. 

St. Thomas More Youth Group faith in action
| November 24, 2014


DARIEN--The St. Thomas More Youth Group had 26 teens raked 11 homes of elderly & homebound seniors in Darien on November 8.  The group also gathered in the Parish Hall to make over 40 pies for the New Covenant House in Stamford. The teens worked hard to share the spirit of Thanksgiving to their community. To find a youth group in Fairfield County CT For info on Catholic Youth in the Diocese of Bridgeport email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

St. Thomas More Youth Group making pies for New Covenant House.

"We owe you a tremendous debt" - Bishop tells retired Priests
| November 21, 2014


STAMFORD-- More than 50 retired priests, donors and invited guests gathered today for groundbreaking of the $3.5 million expansion of the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of Clergy Retired Priests’ Residence.

Describing the new project as an “exciting and historic moment,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said the groundbreaking was another step forward for the diocese. He thanked the staff for their dedicated service to the priests and donors for their generosity in making the expansion possible.

Click here to view slideshow

Directly addressing the many retired priests who were present for the groundbreaking ceremony, Bishop Caggiano said “While it’s exciting to build, what is at the heart of our celebration here today is that my brother priests in residence here represents 1,000 years of faithful services to the Diocese together. We owe you a tremendous debt.”

The Bishop said that the expansion ceremony for the 16 new suites was also a time “to pause for a moment and remember that we can do nothing without the grace of God. In the end, the Holy Spirit guides us in everything we do.”

He then added, “ Let his be a house of grace, health and peace for all who live here.”

Msgr. William Scheyd , Vicar General of the Diocese, welcomed the guests and said the expansion will serve priests for many years to come.

“It does a lot for priests morale to know that we’re appreciated at this time in our lives,” Msgr. Scheyd said, noting that 12 priests will be waiting to move into the new wing when it is finished in late 2015.

Msgr. Scheyd said that plans for the residence began in 1998 when Cardinal Edward Egan and he toured other facilities. Prior to that time, retired priests, along with Bishop Walter Curtis, lived in a wing of the former St. Joseph Medical Center.

Msgr. Louis A. DeProfio, Director of the retired priests’ residence said that it has become a true home for priests where they can share friendship “and the common bond of brotherly love.” He said it was also a place that brought them together in prayer and enabled them to live independently.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held in the community room of the 22,000 square foot facility with a warm fire blazing in the stone hearth at the center of the room. The Bishop and others then walked out into a blistering cold afternoon for the ceremonial photos with golden shovels and hardhats.

The diocese has launched a $3.5 million capital campaign to fund the construction of the new wing, which will include 16 suites for retired priests. The residence currently houses 19 men between the ages of 75 and over 90 years old.

“With the groundbreaking, we begin the public phase of the campaign,” said William McLean, Chief Financial Officer of the Diocese. “To date, through the generosity of 60 donors, more than $2.3 million has been raised.”

By 2015, there will be 80 priests in the Diocese of Bridgeport over the age of 75. Many of the men continue to serve in parishes and enrich the sacramental life of the diocese. They deserve our support and commitment,” McLean said.

Construction of the first 10 suites will be completed and ready for occupation by Fall 2015. The remaining six units will be built as the funds become available.

Each retired priest will have a sitting room, bedroom, bath and small kitchenette. All residents will have access to a chapel, community room, library, exercise room and dining area.

The age of priest retirement in the Diocese of Bridgeport is 75 years old, and most remain active by helping out in parishes on weekends, visiting hospitals and other assignments. In addition to those residing at the residence, many retired priests continue to live in parishes or on their own.

The Queen of Clergy Retired Priests Residence is an independent living facility located on the campus of St. Bridget of Ireland Parish in Stamford on Strawberry Hill Avenue. It opened it doors on January 28, 2000.

To make a gift, call Pam Rittman, 203-416-1479 or make an online contribution by visiting the Diocesan website at:

Diocese to break ground for Queen of Clergy Expansion
| November 21, 2014


STAMFORD— A groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion of the Catherine Dennis Keefe, Queen of the Clergy Retired Priests’ Residence will be held on Friday, November 21, 4 pm at 274 Strawberry Hill Avenue in Stamford.

The Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport, will lead the groundbreaking and prayer ceremony for donors and invited guests. A reception will immediately follow.

The diocese has launched a $3.5 million capital campaign to fund the construction of the new wing, which will include 16 suites for retired priests. The residence currently houses 19 men between the ages of 75 and over 90 years old.

“With the groundbreaking, we begin the public phase of the campaign,” said William McLean, Chief Financial Officer of the Diocese. “To date, through the generosity of 60 donors, more than $2.3 million has been raised.” By 2015, there will be 80 priests in the Diocese of Bridgeport over the age of 75. Many of the men continue to serve in parishes and enrich the sacramental life of the diocese. They deserve our support and commitment,” McLean said. Construction of the first 10 suites will be completed and ready for occupation by Fall 2015. The remaining six units will be built as the funds become available.

Each retired priest will have a sitting room, bedroom, bath and small kitchenette. All residents will have access to a chapel, community room, library, exercise room and dining area.

The age of priest retirement in the Diocese of Bridgeport is 75 years old, and most remain active by helping out in parishes on weekends, visiting hospitals and other assignments. In addition to those residing at the residence, many retired priests continue to live in parishes or on their own.

The Queen of Clergy Retired Priests Residence is an independent living facility located on the campus of St. Bridget of Ireland Parish in Stamford on Strawberry Hill Avenue. It opened it doors on January 28, 2000.

To make a gift, call Pam Rittman, 203-416-1479 or make an online contribution by visiting the Diocesan website at:

Deacon Domingo Reverón
| November 21, 2014


Deacon Domingo Reverón, Sr., a deacon at St. Peter Parish in Bridgeport, died on November 9 at St. Vincent’s Medical Center. He was 78 years old.

Deacon Reverón was born in Quebradillas, Puerto Rico, and had come Bridgeport as a young man. He had attended seminary for four years in Puerto Rico; after coming to this area he helped to introduce the Cursillo movement to the Diocese of Bridgeport, starting first at the former St. Anthony Parish in Bridgeport and then at St. Peter's. Cursillo is now widespread, holding monthly ultreya meetings throughout the diocese.

He was ordained as a permanent deacon in 1979, becoming the first Hispanic to be ordained deacon in the Diocese of Bridgeport. During his years of service as deacon he was involved in the Marriage Encounter program, assisting in the counseling of many married couples.

He was employed as a chef for over 38 years at the United Methodist Homes, and served as a City Council member during the administration of Bridgeport Mayor Nick Panuzio. He was predeceased by his wife, Milagros, who died in 2012. The couple were married for more than 55 years.

Among other relatives in this diocese, he is survived by three sons: John, Domingo, Jr., and Geraldo; his daughter Gladys; two grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Deacon Reverón was received into St. Peter Church for a vigil on November 12. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano was the principal celebrant at Mass of Christian Burial for Deacon Reverón the following morning. Msgr. Aniceto Villamide, pastor of St. Peter’s, delivered the homily. Interment followed in St. Michael Cemetery in Bridgeport.

Trumbull OKs conversion of bishop’s residence into seminary
| November 20, 2014


The Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport is asking the Trumbull P & Z for permission to convert the bishop's residence on Daniels Farm Road in Trumbull into a seminary in an effort to downsize.

Photo by: Autumn Driscoll

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano could be getting some company at his Daniels Farm Road home.  The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport on Wednesday received approval for a text change to the town's zoning regulations that opens the door for the conversion of the bishop's residence into a seminary.

The diocese's application before the Planning and Zoning Commission asked the town to include seminaries -- colleges that prepare individuals to become priests, ministers or rabbis -- as a permitted use in a residential zone. Diocesan officials will now apply to add a 10,000-square-foot wing to the back of the existing two-story structure.

The request is part of Caggiano's plans to reorganize and cut costs across the diocese.  To view article online at CT Post click here

Pope condemns attack on Jerusalem synagogue, urges end to violence
| November 19, 2014 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis condemned the "unacceptable episodes of violence" in Jerusalem, episodes that "do not spare even places of worship," after an attack in a synagogue left four worshippers, a policeman and the two attackers dead.

At the end of his general audience Nov. 19, the day after the attack on the synagogue, Pope Francis said he was following "with concern the alarming increase of tensions in Jerusalem and other areas of the Holy Land."

The pope offered prayers for the victims of the attack carried out by two Palestinian cousins from East Jerusalem and for all those suffering the consequences of the attack.

"From the depths of my heart," he said, "I appeal to those involved to put an end to the spiral of hatred and violence and make courageous decisions in favor of reconciliation and peace."

"Making peace is difficult," he said, "but living without peace is a torment."

Shortly after the early morning synagogue attack, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem called for an end to all violence in the Holy Land.

"We are praying and waiting. We are sad," said Patriarch Twal. "We must, all people of responsibility, politicians and religious leaders, do our best in our positions to condemn this violence and avoid as much as possible the causes which lead other people to violence."

The attack occurred in the Har Nof neighborhood of West Jerusalem, which is popular with the Anglo-Orthodox Jewish community. Three of the dead worshippers had dual Israeli-American citizenship; one had Israeli-British citizenship.

The two perpetrators of the attacks were killed at the scene by Israeli police.

"Violence leads to more violence," Patriarch Twal told Catholic News Service. He said he sent condolences to the families of all the victims of the recent wave of violence that has rocked Jerusalem as Israel moves toward expanding Jewish settlements in the area and Palestinians fear a Jewish presence on the shared holy site of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, in Jerusalem's Old City.

According to a tenuous and contested status quo agreement, Jews are allowed to visit the site where, according to Jewish tradition, the Biblical Jewish temple stood and, but they are not allowed to pray there. According to Muslim tradition, it is the site where Muhammad ascended into heaven.

A day prior to the synagogue attack, a Palestinian bus driver who worked for an Israeli cooperative was found hanged in his bus at the terminal. Israeli police called the death a suicide after a medical investigation, but the man's family and the Palestinian media maintain that it was a lynching. Some have said the synagogue killings were in retaliation for his death.

"You can't occupy and then think people (will be quiet)," Patriarch Twal said, referring to Israel occupation of Palestinian lands. "We are against any kind of violence either from a state group or private groups."

"We are in a very bad situation and condemn the violence and assure the families who have lost loved ones of our prayers," he added. "It is very sad."

The Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land expressed "shock and horror" at the attack, calling it "horrendous."

"Such murderous deeds, especially in a house of worship, are the ultimate abuse of religion," said a statement from the council, which represents Israel's chief rabbinate, the Palestinian Authority Shariah courts, and local Christian leaders. "We call on all religious political and civic leaders to do their utmost to prevent the local political conflict from being turned into a religious war, the consequences of which will be disastrous for all."

The Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, World Council of Churches general secretary, expressed concern and sadness over the attack.

"There is a particular horror in any such attack which takes place at a place of worship. I condemn this violence unequivocally, as I do all violence between the peoples and communities of this region which has seen so much bloodshed in the name of religion," he said. "Violence, collective punishments and communal attacks can only further damage the prospects of peace and justice for all."

Israelis were shocked by the attack on the worshippers, killed as they took part in the daily morning prayers at the popular neighborhood synagogue.

In past weeks, the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif has been sight of bloody confrontations between Israeli police and Palestinians, and synagogues and mosques have been vandalized.

Over recent weeks, several Palestinians have been killed and injured in demonstrations in East Jerusalem, and several Israelis been killed and injured in attacks by Palestinians in the Jerusalem area and Tel Aviv.

Patriarch Twal said Jerusalem is a city of peace, not violence.

He said the recent attacks have shown that the walls built as a security barrier to separate the West Bank do not protect anyone from violence as long as there is occupation and injustice.

"There is no protection with walls. Only dignity and justice for all (will bring security,)" he said. "All this violence took place within the walls. We need more justice and comprehension."

Patriarch Twal noted that Christians in the Holy Land were preparing to celebrate Christmas and expressed concern that pilgrims would be afraid to come because of the violence.

"We hope that by Christmastime there will be no more revenge and no more killings," he said. He asked for prayers for the peace of Jerusalem, the Holy Land and all its inhabitants, so Jerusalem could return to its vocation as the city of peace.

Contributing to this story was Judith Sudilovsky in Jerusalem.

Trinity Catholic girls soccer wins Sportsmanship Award
| November 18, 2014


The Trinity Catholic High School Varsity Girls Soccer team was awarded the prestigious Brian Kelly Award for sportsmanship by the Southern Connecticut Soccer Officials Association. At a recent banquet the team was applauded for its conduct and character on the field of play.

After each game during the season officials give a sportsmanship score for each school and submits it to Larry Stowe, chairman of the SCSOA sportsmanship award committee. The Lady Crusaders were also congratulated for amassing the highest average score by unanimous vote of the 80 voting officials in the history of the award. On hand to receive this award for Trinity Catholic were head coach Mike Calle, Lady Crusader tri-captains, Anne Peltier, Laura Green and Christina Bellacicco along with assistant coach, Jennifer Calle.

St. Joseph High School Awarded State School Security Grant Funds
| November 17, 2014


TRUMBULL— St. Joseph High School in Trumbull has been awarded a $92,857 School Security Grant by Gov. Daniel P. Malloy. The matching grant commits $185,750 for increased security measures at the school. Governor Malloy stated, "We want our schools—both private and public— to make their institutions as safe as possible."

William J Fitzgerald, PhD, President of St Joseph High School, said, "Safety is a top concern at St Joes. When students are comfortable and relaxed, academic achievement increases. When parents are less anxious, academic achievement increases. So safety is a priority. It’s great to know the Governor feels the same way. The grant not merely doubles our resources, it means we can make these enhancements immediately.”

The grant will strengthen security measures on campus by adding a computerized entry system, additional surveillance cameras, protective classroom enhancements, and will allow the school to increase surveillance at access points.

Ms. Jessica Morales, Admissions Director, stated that, “Safety and security is an important part of the conversation throughout the admissions process. Both students and parents seek a high school community that is comfortable and safe. We are committed to ensuring that safe atmosphere. The support from the State of Connecticut will only help us fulfill the promise.”

St Joseph High School is one of the 445 public and private schools to be included in the School Security Grant Program. 380 public schools and 65 private and religious schools will receive funds. A total of $22 million in state funding will be used to reimburse municipalities for a portion of the costs associated with security infrastructure improvements at 445 schools.

St Joseph High School is a co-ed, Catholic college preparatory school in Southern Connecticut, and provides a safe learning environment for 810 students.

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

St Joseph High School, 2320 Huntington Tpke., Trumbull, CT 06611

A Toast to the Roast
| November 16, 2014


Larry Cafero is the former minority leader of the Connecticut House of Representatives, and he currently practices law in Norwalk. In his college days, he tried his hand at stand-up comedy, and if he never made it as a politician or a lawyer, he very well may have been another Seinfeld.

A longtime parishioner of St. Matthew’s Parish in Norwalk, Cafero was given the honor, or the burden, to be the master of ceremonies at a roast of Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, held Sunday, November 16, at St. Catherine of Sienna Parish in Trumbull.

Click here to view a slideshow from the roast

The roast was a fundraiser for St. Margaret’s Shrine, located on Park Avenue in Bridgeport. It was the second annual roast for the shrine, and several months ago, Bishop Caggiano bravely accepted the invitation to be roasted.

In addition to roasting the bishop, the nearly 300 attendees participated in an auction for various prizes and then a raffle for other assorted prizes.

The festivities began with hors d'oeuvres and then moved on to a delicious hot italian buffet which included rigatoni a’ la vodka sauce, roast pork, and breaded chicken cutlets in a lemon white-wine sauce. At the conclusion of the event, Italian pastries were available for those who had room for dessert!

Before he started roasting Bishop Caggiano, Cafero asked an indulgence of the bishop. He said, “Bless me Father, for I am about to sin.” This brought the Catholic house down.

If Bishop Caggiano is known for anything thus far in the Diocese of Bridgeport, it is for the synod, a word which many Catholics do not know how to pronounce. Cafero kept referring to it as the “syn-ate,” which sounded a lot like “senate,” which may be a byproduct of all of his years in the halls of the capitol.

Cafero said that to him, a synod “sounds like a collection of little sins.”

Al Barber, the director of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County, also got in on the act. He presented Bishop Caggiano with a bobble-head doll of Pope Francis. Whenever Barber needed the Pope’s assent to keep pestering the bishop, he simply set the Pope’s head nodding.

Bishop Caggiano’s driving habits were a focus of Barber’s ribbing, as was the bishop’s somewhat difficult adjustment to life in Connecticut. In his Trumbull residence, the bishop has claimed that the night’s are so quiet that he finds it difficult to sleep. To make sure the bishop sleeps soundly, Barber said that he has tape-recorded some elevated trains, which should make the bishop feel like he is back home in Brooklyn.

Joshua St. Onge, a religion teacher at Notre Dame High School, singed the bishop with a musical interlude. St. Onge is also a cantor at several parishes, so he wrote lyrics set to a few broadway tunes, and roasted the bishop in song.

After St. Onge finished his musical parody, Cafero asked him if he had written the lyrics. St. Onge said that he had, and Cafero said, “You should be ashamed of yourself, making fun of the bishop like that!”

When the roasting was complete, Bishop Caggiano received a standing ovation for being such a good sport. With Thanksgiving coming, he said, “I have a new appreciation for the turkey as it slowly roasts in the oven.”

On a serious note, the bishop concluded the successful fundraiser by thanking everyone who helped put the event together and all of the staff and parishioners of St. Margaret Shrine. “We are all family,” Bishop Caggiano said. “The shrine is a place of prayer and rest, where we come to meet Jesus, Our Lady, and all of the angels and saints.”

Serving others is the heart of Catholic Social Teaching
| November 16, 2014


FAIRFIELD — Bishop Caggiano set the tone for the Eighth Annual CAPP Communion in his homily at the Egan Chapel of Fairfield University Breakfast, when he told the gathering of business leaders that the Gospel is an “antidote” to the current fallacy “that my life is all about me.”

Listen to audio of Bishop Caggiano at this event:

Business leader and philanthropist Al DiGuido of Westport (left), recipient of the CAPP Business Leadership Award, is congratulated by Michael O'Rourke of Stamford at the Communion Breakfast held at Fairfield University

The breakfast was sponsored by Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice (CAPP) of Fairfield County and by the Center for Faith & Public Life of Fairfield University.

Click here to view a slideshow from the breakfast

Click here to watch the video

With over 200 men and women gathered in the Egan Chapel for Mass, Bishop Caggiano said that an egocentric notion of the self has only managed to “create loneliness, betrayal and hurt” in the people who espouse it.

He drew laughter from the congregation when he quoted financiaciar Peter Lynch who said, “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”

The Bishop said that Church teaches that the path of holiness is through a loving community. “We can’t see the face of God without loving or making others the center of our lives.”

The Bishop told business leaders and other professionals “to live for others one person at a time” and that the desire to serve others is at the heart of Catholic social teaching.

‘My life is all about you, which may seem strange to the world but it is the way to every lastlsting life and my brothers and sisters, let’s take that walk together.”

At the breakfast that followed in the Oak Room of the Barone Campus Center, marketing entrepreneur and philanthropist Al DiGuido of Westport was presented the CAPP Business Leadership Award for his work as founder and CEO of Al’s Angels, which supports children affected by financial hardships and those struggling with cancer.

In accepting the honor presented by CAPP Member Bob Rooney, DiGuido reminded the gathering that like the Bishop, he is a Brooklyn native.

DiGuido, a member of St. Mathew parish in Norwalk, said that in true leadership isn’t created when someone is given a title but by “walking the walk and leading when no one is watching”.

He said that he founded Al’ Angels after a Tomomorw’s Children Fund event when he listened to the stories of parents whose children were afflicted with cancer. Most were bankrupt.

He remembered driving away from the event in a heavy rain thinking about his own three young children.” I thought, what is it were my children? What if it were me begging for money?”

He said he named the group Al’s Angels because he believes the volunteers are truly send by God to serve those who are lonely and afflicted.

Visiting young children suffering from cancer is “like touching the face of God,” he told the gathering, emphasizing the importance of faith.

“I’ve seen miracles happen. If you don’t think Christ is holding your hand, I’m here to tell you that he is.”

DiGuido finished his talk by challenging business leaders to build social conscience into the DNA of their organizations.

“Business leaders have a repsnsilbity to build a legacy of caring organizations. It’s not just about the bottom line, but motivating and incentive people to do good. The world needs faith-filled leaders. Our responbility is to the human family and no one else is coming forward to help the kids and families we serve.”

In her keynote address Kerry Robinson, executive director of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, articulated the same theme.

Describing the church as the “largest humanitarian network in the world,” Robinson said that Church fosters an ethic that is “other-centered, not self-centered, ” and that the challenge of the laity is “living vocationally” in service of the Church and the world.

A member of the Raskob family, she said her works grew out of the commitment of her great-grandfather who built the Empire State Building during the Depression, sold it, and dedicated all of his funds to Catholic philanthropy.

She said the Church has played a role in the breaking the cycle of poverty and bigotry around the world, and that Catholic volunteers and service workers exhibit a sense of joy that comes out of their faith, even when dealing with the worst conditions.

Robinson said the Roundtable fosters collaboration between lay and ordained for a well run church. Created in 2003, it grew out of her work as director of the Catholic Center at Yale University and in response to the sexual abuse crisis.

Noting that “nothing was more damaging to the Church” than the abuse crisis, she quickly added that she has “never been more hopeful about the Church than I am today.” She added that the laity has helped to heal the church and move it forward by assisting priests and bishop with management and financial challenges.

She said the Roundtable has been successful because though very diverse in membership, it never “weights in on doctrinal matters” and that all of its projects are vetted by through Canon Law.

Recently back from a ten day visit to the Vatican, Robinson said she was cheered by the leadership of Pope Francis, his emphasis on “being a poor Church for the poor,” and his interest in reform management and stewardship.

“You can see how serious he is about positive management reform as a legacy of his pontificate. The laity is going to do the work and that is evangelization.”

Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice (CAPP) is a lay-led, Vatican-based organization founded by Pope John Paul II in 1993. Their mission is to implement Catholic social teaching—the Church’s social doctrine—through lay Catholic business, academic and professional leaders. Its board is made up of business leaders throughout Fairfield County. For more information, visit

Synod wrestles with challenges While moving toward consensus
| November 15, 2014


TRUMBULL— Delegates largely reached consensus on a wide range of issues affecting the local Church during today’s Second General Session of Synod 2014, but wrestled with ways to approach youth and disaffected Catholics.

Almost 400 delegates, observers, and invited guests gathered at the Parish Center of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Nichols to review 60 challenges related to the four major themes of the Synod: empowering the young Church; building up communities of faith; promoting works of charity and justice; and fostering evangelical outreach.

Click to view slideshow

The Bishop told delegates that the next step will be for the Synod leadership and the study committees to reduce all of the challenges to 12 or fewer goals, so that the Synod can begin to make final suggestions for addressing the issues.

Throughout the day, he interjected his thoughts and summaries, challenging people to think outside the box and to understand the many Catholics who were not in the room.

“We are all believers, but we must also give voice to those who aren’t here,” he said referring to the many Catholics who no longer participate in the life of the Church.

The Bishop also announced to delegates that the Diocese is exploring the possibility of commissioning a Marist Poll to survey those who have stopped attending Church in Fairfield County.

The daylong session was crammed with presentations of the study committees, voting on presented materials, and comments from delegates about the many challenges and opportunities facing the Church.

The discussion addressing the needs of young people and teens drew the most difference of opinion with 62% of delegates voting to add to or amend the challenges as presented.

The Study Committee on Empowering the Young Church found many challenges that prevent teens from a deeper faith life including peer pressure, secular role models in conflict with Church teachings, indifferent parents who don’t attend Mass, and liturgies that are often centered on adults but don’t reach out to kids.

Michael Favo from St. Philip Parish in Norwalk said that teens did not relate to the music played at liturgies.

“We’re singing songs written in the 70’s,” he said, drawing laughter from the older delegates. “Why can’t we incorporate new music?”

But Colin Lomnitzer from St. Catherine of Siena Parish, a freshman at Catholic University, quickly countered him by saying “Contemporary music by itself is not bad, and can be used at Mass and be appropriate. The temptation, however that comes from using contemporary music is to contemporize the Mass. This leads to a de-reverence of the Mass, which should never, ever happen. So we need to help people and ourselves better understand what Mass is, and the beauty of the Mass so every aspect of it will and can be treated with this beauty in mind.”

Annie Butler from St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan said the Teen Mass was a very powerful experience with all teens asked to come to the altar during the consecration. “We kneel side by side at the altar with our parents and families behind us. It’s a powerful moment.”

The Bishop said that the Synod should not make any final decisions about what youth want until he meets with them and discusses their challenges in an upcoming consultation session.

“I will defer to what the young people say for themselves,” he said, drawing applause from the gathering.

Strengthening the Catholic identity of diocesan schools was discussed under the “Building up Communities of Faith” theme. A couple of delegates said the schools were academically excellent but not sufficiently passing on the faith.

Jackie Greenfield, a teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Fairfield, countered that the students at St. Thomas School “receive a very strong foundation in the faith and are wonderfully prepared to receive the sacraments.”

Much of the afternoon discussion focused on “challenges to those at risk of leaving the Church or already gone” and a more effective use of social and secular media to bring the joy of the Gospel to the marketplace of ideas.

Mark Azzara of St. Joseph Parish in Danbury said that Catholics must be prepared to personally and powerfully testify to their faith in the same way that many non-Catholics proclaim Jesus Christ.

“We have to bring them back in the same way they left—one at a time,” he said.

Sister Mary Karen Toomy of Stamford said that we should know “when to use social media and when not to use it. St. Francis of Assisi said, ‘Preach the Gospel, sometimes use words.”

Fr. Michael Boccaccio, Pastor of St. Philip Church, said he believed that Church “must address liturgical practices” as they draw people to the sacraments.

Anne Pollack, a member of Voice of the Faithful, said the Synod had more work to do in including women in leadership role and decisions about the local Church.

After the discussion on the use of social media in the diocese, Deacon Patrick Toole of Westport, a member of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Fairfield, introduced the new diocesan mobile APP that will be launched in February. Deacon Toole said that delegates will be invited to field test the APP before it is released to the general public, and that all parishes will be enlisted in providing material to keep it updated.

He said that “it’s not easy to get the breadth of the diocese on a small mobile phone,” but that the use of social media “has enormous possibilities to invite people into the sacramental life of the Church.”

With a large image of the new APP on the screen, the Deacon walked delegates through its many functions, which will include Mass times throughout the diocese and content that invites people to deepen their understanding of the “sacramental, prayer life and community service of the Church.”

“This has been quite an experience for all of us and a great deal of work reviewing the 60 challenges, but I think we all have much greater clarity in leaving then when we started the day,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in his wrap-up remarks.

The Bishop said that regardless of differences of opinion, all delegates come together in their belief that the renewal of the local Church should begin with the need to have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ through a credible community of love and faith. He added that many of the challenges presented at the Synod call for improved leadership and the need to find new ways to “celebrate the beauty of the Catholic faith.”

The third General Session for delegates is set for Saturday February 7, 2015 at St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull. In between, the Synod will also host consultations sessions with youth, deacons, religious, priests and the Hispanic community

For more information visit the Synod 2014 website at

Second General Session set for Saturday in Trumbull
| November 14, 2014


BRIDGEPORT-- The Second General Session of Synod 2014 is set to meet tomorrow, Saturday November 15, at St. Catherine Parish in Trumbull.

Almost 400 delegates and invited guests will meet to continue their efforts to discern the pastoral challenges of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Deputy Synod Director Patrick Turner said the theme of the Second General Session is "Testing for Consensus." The day will focus on "Presentation of Challenges" based on the demographic and pastoral situation outlined in the first General Session held in September.

The session will begin at 7:15 am with Morning Mass followed by coffee and pastries. The first presentation will begin at 9:30 after Dr. Joan Marie Kelly delivers a reflection, "The Catholic Church, One , Holy, Catholic, Apostolic,"

"This is a singular opportunity for us, as a diocese, to ask very deep, honest, and probing questions, so that we can transform the challenges we face into opportunities for growth and renewal. But perhaps most importantly, this is a graced time for you and me to accept the invitation of the Lord, in a very personal way, to grow in faith and holiness," said Bishop Frank Caggiano."

"This is an essential moment for the synod, for we need to distinguish between the challenges that are obvious from those that are far more fundamental and serve as the underlying cause to many of the difficulties we are experiencing in our daily lives of faith."

During the session, delegates will receive update and reports from each of the four major study committees: Empower the Young Church, Build up Communities of Faith, Foster Evangelical Outreach, and Promote Works of Charity and Justice.

Since the first General Session held on September 20, the Synod study committees have been meeting to discuss and discern the feedback from the first session by listening carefully to what was presented by the delegates and by utilizing their insights, understanding and experience.

"At this Second General Session, the general delegates will have the opportunity to respond to these proposed challenges; to accept them, to request to modify them, or to reject them," Turner said.

In the first General Session, delegates discussed a wide range of issues including the growing number of Catholics who have left the church; the early exodus of young people from the Church, which begins in their teens and accelerates in their twenties; the sense that many Catholics are "sacramentalized but not evangelized," and live without the joy or spirit of faith; and The challenge of balancing the beauty and truth of Catholic tradition with new approaches to prayer, worship and catechesis

In his column in the November issue of Fairfield County Catholic, Bishop Caggiano describes the Synod as "a sacred journeying together of God’s people to discern God’s will."

"As bishop, I convoke the synod, but I do not animate the synod. The Holy Spirit is the animator of the synod. If the synod is to achieve its work, it is important that we make the important distinction between discernment and decision-making," he said.

The Bishop said that discernment seeks to understand the experience and challenges of our lives through the prism of faith, following the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Discernment is an essential prerequisite to ensure that the decisions to be made will be for the good of the Church.

The Bishop calls for a spirit of collaboration and humility on the part of all those who participate in the Synod. He notes that collaboration is founded upon the communion and unity that we share as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ."

In addition, a spirit of humility is possible in those who are not afraid to face the truth of their own lives and our common life in Christ. It requires each and every one of us to take a step back, let go of those things that we may be clinging to, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide and inform us. Only humility will allow us to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit with courage and confidence."

The day will include breaks for prayer and voting on three resolutions related to Synod deliberations. During the afternoon session, Deacon Patrick Toole of St. Thomas Parish in Fairfield will also discuss the development of a new diocesan mobile APP and the role parishes will play in uploading information.


1st Diocesan-wide Catholic Young Adults (21-39) "Friendsgiving" Potluck
| November 14, 2014


Our first ever "Friendsgiving" Potluck for Catholic Young Adults (couples & singles, ages 21-39) for the Diocese of Bridgeport will be held at  St. Theresa Church, Main St., Trumbull on Friday, November 21 from 6-8:30pm. Bring yourself, invite friends, relatives, co-workers - make a table! Open to all! Meet new people of same age in Fairfield County, and enjoy terrific, home-cooked food at the same time!  

Bring a Thanksgiving meal item or a dessert in a disposable container.  Dinner to be held in newly renovated Parish Center.  Also, we are participating in food drive by Sisters of Mother Theresa, so bring a non-perishable food item to bless our neighbors in our community.  For info email Theresa Raytar at:  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  For a list of Catholic Young Adult groups and events in Fairfield County go to

St. Aloysius Teens Lead Conf Prep Students in Project 1,000
| November 13, 2014


NEW CANAAN--Thanks to St. Aloysius high school teens who came to help out last night in the Level 2 Confirmation Prep Project 1,000 project - 1,000 stockings were filled with care by our 7th graders under the direction of our high school teens -- were picked up this morning by our shipping donor, Kaster Moving and are on their way to 1,000 impoverished children in Appalachia! To view photos click here

Vatican public restrooms to include showers for the homeless
| November 13, 2014 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The archbishop who distributes charity on behalf of Pope Francis has announced that the public restrooms in St. Peter's Square will include showers where the homeless can wash. The service will require volunteers and donations of soap, towels and clean underwear, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, told Catholic News Service Nov. 13. 

"We have to be evangelical, but intelligent, too."

Pope Francis blesses a sculpture "Jesus the Homeless" at the Vatican last November. (CNS/L'Osservatore Romano)

Several people living on the streets of Rome or in tents say it is not difficult to find a parish or charity that will give them something to eat, but finding a place to wash is much more difficult.

Barbara, a Polish woman who lives in a tent with her teenage son and a companion, said showers in the Vatican's public restrooms "would be good. We'd thank them if it works."

Her companion, who calls himself Stefano, said: "I'm a mason without work. I'll help them build it. No problem."

The news site Vatican Insider first reported the news that Archbishop Krajewski had asked the office governing Vatican City State to include showers in an already-approved project to remodel the public restrooms in St. Peter's Square.

The remodeling work and installation of the showers was scheduled to begin Nov. 17. The archbishop said the three shower stalls would be located in the public restrooms a few steps north of Bernini's Colonnade, just behind the Vatican post office.

The archbishop told Vatican Insider that in early October he was talking to a homeless man near the Vatican and discovered it was the man's 50th birthday. He invited the man to a restaurant for dinner, but the man declined, saying a restaurant would not let him in because of his odor.

Sitting on the steps of the Vatican press office Nov. 13, Barbara and Stefano were discussing the plans with a small group of Polish friends -- and expressing some doubts about it to reporters.

The Rome diocesan Caritas, the Community of Sant'Egidio and other organizations offer shower facilities to the homeless in Rome, Barbara said, "but there are so many things you have to do. You have to get there at 4 in the morning to sign in. Then only 15 people get in each day."

In addition, she said, because the number of homeless men is so much greater than the number of homeless women, many of the shower facilities are only for men or are open to women only a half day each week.

Archbishop Krajewski told Vatican Insider that he is visiting parishes in areas where homeless people gather and is encouraging them to install public showers if they have not already. His office will help fund the building, he said.

"It is not simple," he said. "It is easier to prepare sandwiches than to run a shower service -- you need volunteers, towels, clean underwear."

Assembly honors veterans
| November 12, 2014


SHELTON—Close to 20 veterans who served in World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War and Afghanistan were treated to a breakfast hosted by St. Joseph’s School Home School Association. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts started the assembly by carrying the flag and leading everyone into the Pledge of Allegiance. 

Msgr. Chris Walsh, St. Joseph’s pastor, said a blessing and the students, led by music teacher, Mrs. Salustri, on the piano sang patriotic songs.

The guests took time and visited the classrooms to talk about their experiences with the students.

(Photo by Vicki Fitzsimmons)

St. Thomas Schools Remembers our Veterans
| November 10, 2014


FAIRFIELD—I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Our country’s Pledge of Allegiance.

What better way to begin a Veterans Day assembly with students and honored guest reciting these words together, with hands over their hearts.

On Monday, November 10, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School held their annual Veterans Day assembly. Each year the assembly is held in the school gymnasium and veterans from various armed forces are invited to participate. Principal Patricia Brady opened the ceremony by reminding the students that we are all free to practice our faith here at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School because of those who have fought for country’s freedoms. Poems were recited by students and patriotic songs were sung by the school choir.

USCCB president emphasizes bishops' role of serving family of church
| November 10, 2014 • by By Patricia Zapor, Catholic News Service


BALTIMORE—Acknowledging that families come with complications, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reminded his fellow bishops November 10 that their role is to accompany their family of the church through their fears and concerns.

"Evangelizing means witnessing to our hope in Jesus," said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, in opening the USCCB's annual fall general assembly in Baltimore. It was his first address as conference president.

"As pastors, we accompany so many families who face their own fears and concerns and who yearn to experience the love of Jesus in and through his loving family—the church," he said. "Together, brothers, we seek to walk with these families and to build their confidence in faith."

Archbishop Kurtz framed his remarks around a conversation he had recently with Italian journalist Paolo Rodari, who has a brother with Down syndrome. Archbishop Kurtz for many years was responsible for the care of his late brother, who also had Down syndrome.

The two discussed how they learned to communicate with their brothers through the things that were important to their siblings—film and books—and that they otherwise could be difficult to understand.

"Paolo has learned to understand Giovanni, because they're family," Archbishop Kurtz said, continuing the metaphor as an example of what the bishops are called to do—"walk with our brothers and sisters, helping them grow closer to Jesus through his mercy."

He noted that Pope Francis has said the church is "a place of mercy freely given, where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live the good life of the Gospel."

Archbishop Kurtz spoke about the recently concluded extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family, saying it resulted in positive steps to "witness to the beauty of church teachings on marriage," to "deepen the way we accompany those struggling with the many challenges families face today," and encourage married couples to "have confidence in their ability to faithfully live the Gospel of the family."

He said the bishops "must especially seek out those who suffer under the weight of the difficulties of seeking to come closer to Christ," quoting Pope Francis' call to approach the coming year before the synod work continues as "joyful messengers of challenging proposals, guardians of the goodness and beauty which shine forth in a life of fidelity to the Gospel."

The archbishop commented about some of his experiences over the last year as USCCB president—such as visiting the Philippines with Catholic Relief Services to see the relief work after Typhoon Haiyan, and the conference's work on issues such as religious freedom and respect for life.

"We all strive to be faithful pastors, so we know what this looks like," he said. "Think of the home visits we've all done in parishes. When I'd come to someone's home, I wouldn't start by telling them how I'd rearrange their furniture. In the same way, I wouldn't begin by giving them a list of rules to follow.

"Instead, I'd first spend time with them, trying to appreciate the good that I saw in their hearts. I'd acknowledge that, like them, I was in the process of conversion toward greater holiness," the archbishop said. "I would then invite them to follow Christ and I'd offer to accompany them as we, together, follow the Gospel invitation to turn from sin and journey along the way. Such an approach isn't in opposition to church teachings; it's an affirmation of them."

Thanksgiving Message from Bishop Caggiano
| November 25, 2014


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

At a time when we as a nation express our gratitude for our good fortune and the many blessings we have in our lives, I want to take this opportunity to thank the many donors, volunteers and others who have given so generously throughout the year. With your prayerful support we have been able to reach out with compassion to people in need throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport:

1.5 million meals served at Catholic Charities soup kitchens, food pantries and senior nutrition sites  

  • 1.5 million meals served at Catholic Charities soup kitchens, food pantries and senior nutrition sites
  • 15,000 clinical counseling sessions provided to individuals and families at risk
  • A diocesan network of senior housing through Bishop Curtis Homes, as well as transitional housing serving 200 people who would otherwise be homeless
  • Over 9,000 children of all faiths in Catholics elementary and high schools
  • 38,000 young people in religious education in parishes
  • Mass is said in 16 languages in 420 liturgies every week
  • Thousands of volunteers working in our soup kitchens and feeding programs, and hundreds more who serve on parish and diocesan boards

Thanksgiving reminds us that we should always be grateful to God for our lives and talents. As Catholics, at every Mass, we pray, “It is right to give Him thanks and praise.” Let us be happy that Christ has shared his life with us, and in our gratitude, let us continue to put or faith in action through service to others.

On behalf of the entire Diocesan family, I offer my prayers and best wishes to you and your family as we observe this national holiday of Thanksgiving.


Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano,
Bishop of Bridgeport

From the Pastor’s Desk
| November 25, 2014


A Thanksgiving Spiritual Reflection

By Monsignor Chris Walsh

What would we have seen if we were there with the Pilgrims on that first Thanksgiving Day? A group of huddled men, women and children, poorly clothed, weakened, heads bowed over a simple meal, eyes shut in fervent prayer. They had arrived in New England late the previous year. During that first terrible winter, and the lean months awaiting their first harvest, half their number died through hunger and disease. They were absolutely alone: no way to communicate with England, no certainty of their fate at the hands of these strange, primitive natives or the brutal New England winter, huddling in hastily built cabins where the cold wind whistled through gaps in the rough-hewn planks.

Yet they gathered to give thanks. Thanks to God, who they believed had called them to this new land where they could live their Christian faith in peace. All they possessed with certainty was this strong faith in God and their deeply held love for each other, “the assembly of Christ’s Elect.” And still they believed in the depths of their hearts, as the motto of the State of Connecticut so eloquently professes (the motto we, their modern heirs, have so completely forgotten), “Qui transtulit sustinet”: “He [the God] who brought us here will sustain us.”

Last Sunday I received an emergency call to rush to the Bridgeport Hospital E.R. Kim, age 30, a life-long parishioner, had just suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in the afternoon while watching television at home with her husband Joel, age 33. That evening, before she was taken by helicopter to Yale Medical Center, I anointed her, praying for her complete healing through the intercession of Father Michael McGivney. Kim, a Bridgeport schoolteacher, has been since March the chief organizer of our parish’s new, vibrant Young Adult Group. She and Joel spent two recent summers working as lay missionaries in Ethiopia, described in the Fairfield County Catholic. And they had just begun the week before excitedly telling friends, including myself, that they were expecting their first child.

I invited Joel and the family members into a private room in the Bridgeport E.R. Holding hands, we prayed: Psalm 91, John chapter 14, the Litany of the Saints, an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be. At such moments all you have is your faith and your love. And then you learn that those first Pilgrims, Christian Puritans, got it right: especially when surrounded by grave dangers and fears, that is when we need to rely totally, solely on faith in God and his love. “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; his mercy endures forever” (Psalm 118: 29). Have a blessed Thanksgiving weekend.

Monsignor Chris


"It's a wonderful life" at Trinity Catholic High School
| November 21, 2014


"IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE" by Trinity Catholic High School Players held in the Trinity Catholic Auditorium, 926 Newfield Ave., Stamford Dec. 11, 12 and 13 at 7pm. Terrific for all ages! Purchase tickets online at or call (203) 322-3401 (8:30am-3:30pm).  Advance ticket purchases will be held for pickup at the door prior to the performance. Click here for poster.

Send joy around the world
| November 20, 2014


BROOKFIELD--St. Joseph School first and seventh graders recently completed a service project as they participated in Operation Christmas Child; a program run by the international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse.

At St. Joseph's the seventh graders are "buddies" to the first graders. With the help of their teachers, Jeanne Vitetta in the first grade and Kathi Benzing in the seventh, students worked together to pack shoeboxes filled with a variety of items for children ages 5-9.

Each first grader has a seventh grade buddy and each buddy pair filled, wrapped and made wrapping paper for a shoebox. Shoeboxes were filled with school supplies, small toys, hygiene items, and accessories. The students wrote personal notes to include in the boxes and made wrapping paper to cover the boxes.

The shoeboxes are sent to children in need throughout the world. The first and seventh graders, along with their teachers, felt the true Christmas spirit as they were able to spread joy through giving.

Fairfield Prep’s Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive collects food for needy families
| November 20, 2014


FAIRFIELD—Prep's annual Thanksgiving Food Drive successfully collected hundreds of bags of much-needed food for Bridgeport area families, filling Arrupe Hall! Students filled two large transport vans with bags of food for Action for Bridgeport Community Development, Inc., which works to provide Thanksgiving dinner for over 2,000 families. 

Pictured are student government representatives - front row from left: Kevin Gallagher, James Ruddy, Ryan McMullin, Vito Ciambriello, James Mangan, Matt Pompa. Back row from left: Aidan Coyle, Jack Thornton, George Crist, Ryan Matera, AJ Mansolillo, Jemuel Saint Jean and Bobby Haskins.

Kolbe Cathedral High School Student wins 2014 National Youth Network Entrepreneurship Challenge
| November 19, 2014 • by David McCumber, CT POST


President Barack Obama greets the winners of the 2014 National Youth Network Entrepreneurship Challenge, in the Oval Office of the White House, Nov. 18, 2014. The President greets from left: runner up Jesse Horine, 19, from Fort Mill, S.C.; first place winner Lily DeBell, 13, from Baltimore, Md., and Runner up Ambar Romero, 16, from Bridgeport, Conn. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

WASHINGTON --As a business owner, Ambar Romero knows the value of networking. And Tuesday, the 16-year-old entrepreneur from Bridgeport made a very important business connection. That would be President Barack Obama.

Romero, a senior at Kolbe Cathedral High School, was honored at the White House as one of the three national finalists in the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge.

Her business is Styles by Ambar, an online thrift shop that collects and resells quality "preloved" clothing, shipping to customers worldwide. The business started in March and is going very well, Romero said Tuesday.

Meeting the president in the Oval Office was "an absolutely amazing experience," she said. "It's definitely something I will never forget. He was so calm and so welcoming."

Romero stressed that her business is "committed to helping the community and the environment." She says she donates a portion of her profits to organizations that help women in areas of health, education and careers.

Romero credited her entrepreneurship class teacher, Laura Grover, and her then-principal, JoAnne Jakab, who is now the school's president, with encouraging her to become involved in the Young Entrepreneurship Challenge, which drew 50,000 entrants nationwide. Romero was runnerup to national winner Lily DeBell, 13, of Baltimore.

She credited the Networks for Teaching Entrepreneurship, which provides classes on entrepreneurship in lower-income communities, for giving her the tools she needed to open her business.

Next is college. Romero says she's planning on attending "a four-year university and then getting my Masters." And she's vowing to run her business throughout.

"I'm talking with advisers now about how to make the business run with less of my time during college," she said, because she's determined to keep it going.

And after her Oval Office networking, she's sure that nothing is out of her reach.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
“Nothing and no one is junk”
| November 18, 2014


Anne McCrory is the former chancellor of the Diocese of Bridgeport and is currently its chief legal and real estate officer (she is wearing the white jacket in accompanying photos).

Recently, she and her husband purchased a home, and a friend of theirs, Gina Barber, made them a housewarming gift. Gina is an artist, and she combined theology, spirituality and raw, physical materials to produce a work of art and devotion that will proudly hang in the McCrory home.

Each time Anne and her husband, and their family, friends and visitors look upon Gina’s gift, they will remember Gina’s kindness and thoughtfulness for creating such a powerful work of art, which is also a primary symbol of Jesus Christ. Gina’s gift is not only for house-warming, it is also a house-blessing!

Along with the gift, Gina attached a card with the following words:

This crucifix is made of scrap metal found along the paths I have traveled. Each piece is a representation of the elderly, poor, homeless and handicapped people who have been discarded, abandoned and forgotten in this world. Resurrecting these pieces into a symbol of ultimate Love and Salvation, is for me, a reminder that nothing and no one is junk. The greatest expression of faith, hope and love is to remember the castoffs and outcasts.

Caring for the poor and down-trodden is a focus of the Barber family. Gina’s husband, Al Barber, is the longtime director of Catholic Charities for the diocese. As they say, behind every great man, there is a great woman!

Behind the scenes, Gina scours the paths she traverses for castaways, and helps bring deep spiritual reflection to the work that she and her husband do for the needy in our diocese and beyond.


There have been 162 visit(s) to this blog post.

Catholic Roundtable executive to speak at CAPP business breakfast, Al DiGuido to be honored
| November 06, 2014


FAIRFIELD—Kerry Robinson, executive director of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, will be the featured speaker at the eighth annual CAPP Communion Breakfast for Business Leaders on November 16 at Fairfield University.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and Father Rick Ryscavage, S.J., director of the Center for Faith and Public Life at Fairfield University, will concelebrate Mass in Egan Chapel at 9 am The breakfast and Robinson’s talk will follow in the Oak Room of the Barone Campus Center.

CAPP’s Business Leadership Award will be presented to digital marketing industry innovator and philanthropist Al DiGuido of Westport, founder of Al’s Angels, which supports children affected by financial hardships and those struggling with cancer. He is a member of St. Matthew Parish in Norwalk.

The breakfast is sponsored by Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice (CAPP) of Fairfield County and by the Center for Faith & Public Life of Fairfield University.
“As the diocese moves forward with its own reorganization plan and with Synod 2014 to plan for the future, we welcome the thoughts of Kerry Robinson on best practices and the most efficient use of resources. Her work directly addresses the Catholic social teaching principles of human dignity, solidarity and subsidiarity,” said Bishop Caggiano.

The National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management is an organization of laity, religious, and clergy working together to promote excellence and best practices in the management, finances and human resource development of theCatholic Church in the U.S. through the greater incorporation of the expertise of the laity.

Robinson is a writer and speaker on philanthropy, development and faith. In addition to her work with the National LeadershipRoundtable, she is a trustee of the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities in Wilmington, Del., and FADICA (Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities) in Washington.

Founding editor of The Catholic Funding Guide: A Directory of Resources for Catholic Activities, first published by FADICA in 1998 and soon to be in its eighth edition, she has been an advisor to grant-making foundations, charitable nonprofits and family philanthropies since 1990.

Robinson served as the director of development for St. Thomas More Catholic Chapel and Center at Yale University and led a successful $75 million fundraising drive to expand and endow the chapel's intellectual and spiritual ministry and to construct a Catholic student center on Yale’s campus.

She has served as a trustee on the national boards of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps; Education for Parish Service Foundation; the Gregorian University Foundation; the National Catholic AIDS Network; the Institute for Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry at Boston College; the Center of Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA); the Center for the Study of Church Management at Villanova University; Busted Halo: Paulist Young Adult Ministries; America Magazine; and the National Pastoral Life Center.

From 1995 to 2010 Robinson served on the national committee for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development. She currently serves on the Core Group of the Initiative of Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University and is a trustee of Yale’s St. Thomas More Catholic Chapel and Center.
She received a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in 1988 and a master’s degree from Yale Divinity School, concentrating on ethics, in 1994.

She and her husband, Dr. Michael Cappello, professor of medicine and director of the World Fellows Program at Yale, have two children.

Al DiGuido, former CEO of Zeta Interactive, has long been recognized as one of the digital marketing industry’s premier innovators and a pioneer in email communications. He has over 20 years of marketing sales, management and operations expertise. He has also served as CEO of Epsilon Interactive and Bigfoot Interactive, a leading email marketing firm. He is a thought leader in interactive advertising and marketing.
A frequent guest on Fox Business News, MSNBC and CNN, he has been quoted in US News & World Report, the New York Times and Business Week as a leading voice on marketplace changes as a result of new technology.

In addition to his business success, DiGuido raises millions of dollars for Tomorrow’s Children’s Fund in Hackensack, N.J., to help children fighting cancer and rare blood diseases. Locally, he is known as the founder of Al’s Angels. This year the organization will provide holiday meals and gifts to over 2,500 families and 6,000 children in the tri-state area.

Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice (CAPP) is a lay-led, Vatican-based organization founded by Pope John Paul II in 1993. Their mission is to implement Catholic social teaching—the Church’s social doctrine—through lay Catholic business, academic and professional leaders. William J. Fox of Stamford is serving asCAPP president. Its board is made up of business leaders throughout Fairfield County. For more information, visit

(For more information on the event, contact Fairfield University: 203.254.4000, ext. 3415.)

Bishop at Fairfield University: Synod offers “singular moment of grace”
| November 05, 2014


FAIRFIELD—“You and I are living a singular moment of grace, in this unique and particular time in the life of our diocese.

It is a moment of grace as we walk this synodal journey together,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano before a gathering of more than 250 in the Quick Center of Fairfield University last night.

“First and foremost, this is a journey that allows all of us in leadership – lay, religious and clergy—shoulder-to-shoulder, in prayer and reflection, to strengthen the mortar that holds us together as the living Temple of Christ,” he said during his 45-minute talk On Calling a Diocesan Synod: Hopes and Dreams. The bishop’s address, followed by a question and answer session, was delivered as the 21st Annual Christopher F. Mooney, S.J. Lecture in Theology, Religion & Society. He was introduced by Fr. Jeffrey von Arx, President of Fairfield University. Dr. Paul Lakeland, director of the University’s Center for Catholic Studies, moderated the evening.

The Bishop explained that Synods are consultative in nature, they are not legislative. “They do not pass laws. They seek to discern what God is asking of the Church. A diocesan synod is a sacred gathering of Church leaders to discern God’s will. He also made the distinction between discernment and decision-making. “The synod will make decisions that I hope to ratify, but to make correct decisions we need first to discern. Discerning is deeper and more profound than decision-making. Discernment is an essential prerequisite to ensure that decisions that are made are for the good of the Church,” he said. The Brooklyn native said he worked on the Diocese of Brooklyn Synod in 1996 with Bishop Daley and found it to be a transformative experience for the Diocese. “The Diocese of Brooklyn is the most ethnically diverse diocese in the country. On any given Sunday, Mass can be celebrated there in 35 languages. Geographically, it is the smallest diocese in the nation, and in 1996, it was facing severe financial distress. Bishop Caggiano said the Brooklyn synod achieved far-reaching changes to the diocese’s ecclesial life by creating an innovative lay leadership program that trained thousands of men and women to “take on the tasks of ministry, fully formed, fully prepared.”

The synod also created a program of ongoing formation for clergy to help them in their pastoral ministry, and “to provide the spiritual and theological support they needed to be pastors and shepherds of their people,” he said.

“My friends, I saw then that a synod can lead to miraculous renewal, and I stand before you as your shepherd to tell you that the exact same thing and more is in store for you and me in the Diocese of Bridgeport!” The bishop said that the Holy Spirit will inspire the Synod 2014 delegates because “Jesus has promised to be in our midst when we gather in His name. We are always more than just an assembly of human beings when we gather in Christ’s name, for we form a mysterious unity that has a human and a divine dimension. We humans are members of a divine community that is greater than the sum total of its parts.”

The Bishop concluded his address with a prayer that the diocese becoming a welcoming Church that changes lives. “What is it that the Lord wants for us and from us?” he said. “On a personal note, I pray for a Church that will find new ways to effectively invite all the baptized to fall in love with Jesus Christ in a deeply personal way. I long and pray for a welcoming Church that will never be afraid to teach and preach the truth, who is Jesus Christ himself in our midst.

The director of the Center for Catholic Studies is Paul Lakeland, Ph.D., the Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J. Chair in Catholic Studies. For more information about the Center and the event, call 203.254.4000, ext. 3415, or visit

Listen to the entire program including the introduction by Fr. von Arx:

Recycling with a purpose
| November 05, 2014


WILTON—“Recycling Saturdays" a program started by Our Lady of Fatima parents Joseph and Karin Beggan does double duty.

It not only raises money for new playground equipment for the kids, but allows the students of Our Lady of Fatima school to come together with the religious education students and work toward a common cause while helping the community.

Every second Saturday of the month, the parish and school have "Recycling Saturday." The volunteers from both the school and the religious education program meet at 9 am to set up. Parents and parishioners drop off all the recycling to the front door of the school. The volunteers work together to separate the bottles and cans and bag them, then, at 1 pm, they are loaded into a truck and taken to the recycling center. The children learn the importance of staying green, recycling, and teamwork.
A portion of the proceeds go to Stop Hunger Cross Catholic Outreach Program and the remainder are donated to Our Lady of Fatima School. Last year, the school was able to purchase new swings, outdoor equipment boxes, and decoy dogs to protect the playground from the geese.
Our Lady of Fatima has received press attention from the local press, and the Wilton Town Conservation Commissioner Dan Berg (second from right) came to visit the recycling volunteers on the second Saturday in October. 

Raleigh Seminarian with terminal brain cancer responds to Brittany Maynard
| November 04, 2014 • by By Philip G. Johnson


Philip Johnson, a 30-year-old Catholic seminarian from the Diocese of Raleigh who has terminal brain cancer, has written an article responding to Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old woman who has publicly stated her plan to commit suicide due to the fact that she has a terminal brain cancer. Johnson is vocal about his disagreement that suicide would preserve one’s dignity in the face of a debilitating illness. His article is below:

Dear Brittany: Our Lives Are Worth Living, Even With Brain Cancer

Last week I came across the heartbreaking story of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer one year after her wedding. When doctors suggested that she might only have six months to live, she and her family moved from California to Oregon in order to obtain the prescriptions necessary for doctor-assisted euthanasia. She is devoting her last days to fundraising and lobbying for an organization dedicated to expanding the legality of assisted suicide to other States.

Brittany’s story really hit home, as I was diagnosed with a very similar incurable brain cancer in 2008 at the age of twenty-four. After years of terrible headaches and misdiagnosis, my Grade III brain cancer (Anaplastic Astrocytoma) proved to be inoperable due to its location. Most studies state that the median survival time for this type of cancer is eighteen months, even with aggressive radiation and chemotherapy. I was beginning an exciting career as a naval officer with my entire life ahead of me. I had so many hopes and dreams, and in an instant they all seemed to be crushed. As Brittany said in her online video, “being told you have that kind of timeline still feels like you’re going to die tomorrow.”

I was diagnosed during my second Navy deployment to the Northern Arabian Gulf. After many seizures, the ship’s doctor sent me to the naval hospital on the Persian Gulf island nation of Bahrain, where my brain tumor was discovered. I remember the moment I saw the computer images of the brain scans—I went to the Catholic chapel on base and fell to the floor in tears.  I asked God, “why me?” The next day, I flew home to the United States to begin urgent treatment. A few months after radiation and chemotherapy, I was discharged from the Navy and began formation for the Roman Catholic priesthood, a vocation to which I have felt called since I was nineteen years old. Despite all of the hardships and delays in my training and formation over the past six years, I hope to be ordained to the transitional diaconate this Spring and to the priesthood one year later.

I have lived through six years of constant turmoil, seizures, and headaches.  I often changed hospitals and doctors every few months, seeking some morsel of hope for survival. Like Brittany, I do not want to die, nor do I want to suffer the likely outcome of this disease. I do not think anyone wants to die in this way. Brittany states relief that she does not have to die the way that it has been explained that she would—she can die “on her own terms.” I have also consulted with my doctors to learn how my illness is likely to proceed. I will gradually lose control of my bodily functions at a young age, from paralysis to incontinence, and it is very likely that my mental faculties will also disappear and lead to confusion and hallucinations before my death. This terrifies me, but it does not make me any less of a person.  My life means something to me, to God, and to my family and friends, and barring a miraculous recovery, it will continue to mean something long after I am paralyzed in a hospice bed. My family and friends love me for who I am, not just for the personality traits that will slowly slip away if this tumor progresses and takes my life.

Obviously, I have lived much longer than originally expected, and I attribute this to the support and prayers of others who have helped me to keep a positive outlook. I will never claim that I have dealt with my illness heroically or with great courage, no matter what others might observe or believe from my reserved disposition. I am shy and introverted, so I have not let many people become aware of the depth of my suffering. There have been times over the past six years that I wanted the cancer to grow and take my life swiftly so that it would all be over. Other times, I have sought forms of escape through sin and denial just to take my mind off of the suffering and sadness, even if only for a few moments. However, deep in my heart I know that this approach is futile. My illness has become a part of me, and while it does not define me as a person, it has shaped who I am and who I will become.

In Brittany’s video, her mother mentions that her immediate hope was for a miracle. My response to my diagnosis was the same—I hoped for a miraculous recovery so that I would not have to deal with the suffering and pain that was likely to come. However, I now realize that a “miracle” does not necessarily mean an instant cure. If it did, would we not die from something else later in our lives? Is there any reason that we deserve fifteen, twenty, or thirty or more years of life?  Every day of life is a gift, and gifts can be taken away in an instant. Anyone who suffers from a terminal illness or has lost someone close to them knows this very well.

I have outlived my dismal prognosis, which I believe to be a miracle, but more importantly, I have experienced countless miracles in places where I never expected to find them. Throughout my preparation for the priesthood I have been able to empathize with the sick and suffering in hospitals and nursing homes. I have traveled to Lourdes, France, the site of a Marian apparition and a place of physical and spiritual healing that is visited by millions of pilgrims each year. I have had the great opportunity to serve the infirm there who trust in God with their whole hearts to make sense of their suffering. Through my interaction with these people, I received much more than I gave. I learned that the suffering and heartache that is part of the human condition does not have to be wasted and cut short out of fear or seeking control in a seemingly uncontrollable situation. Perhaps this is the most important miracle that God intends for me to experience.

Suffering is not worthless, and our lives are not our own to take. As humans we are relational—we relate to one another and the actions of one person affects others. Sadly, the concept of “redemptive suffering”—that human suffering united to the suffering of Jesus on the Cross for our salvation can benefit others—has often been ignored or lost in modern times. It is perfectly understandable that medication should be made available to give comfort and limit suffering as much as possible during the dying process, especially during a terminal illness, but it is impossible to avoid suffering altogether. We do not seek pain for its own sake, but our suffering can have great meaning if we try to join it to the Passion of Christ and offer it for the conversion or intentions of others. While often terrifying, the suffering and pain that we will all experience in our lives can be turned into something positive. This has been a very difficult task for me, but it is possible to achieve.

There is a card on Brittany’s website asking for signatures “to support her bravery in this very tough time.” I agree that her time is tough, but her decision is anything but brave. I do feel for her and understand her difficult situation, but no diagnosis warrants suicide. A diagnosis of terminal cancer uproots one’s whole life, and the decision to pursue physician-assisted suicide seeks to grasp at an ounce of control in the midst of turmoil. It is an understandable temptation to take this course of action, but that is all that it is—a temptation to avoid an important reality of life. By dying on one’s “own terms,” death seems more comfortable in our culture that is sanitized and tends to avoid any mention of the suffering and death that will eventually come to us all.

Brittany comments, “I hope to pass in peace. The reason to consider life and what’s of value is to make sure you’re not missing out, seize the day, what’s important to you, what do you care about—what matters—pursue that, forget the rest.”  Sadly, Brittany will be missing out on the most intimate moments of her life—her loved ones comforting her through her suffering, her last and most personal moments with her family, and the great mystery of death—in exchange for a quicker and more “painless” option that focuses more on herself than anyone else. In our culture, which seeks to avoid pain at any cost, it is not difficult to understand why this response is so common among those who suffer.  

I have experienced so much sadness due to my illness, but there have also been times of great joy. The support I have received from others encourages me to keep pushing on. I want to be a priest, I want to see my three young nephews grow up, and these goals give me the hope to wake up each day and live my life with trust.

I will continue to pray for Brittany as she deals with her illness, as I know exactly what she is going through. I still get sad. I still cry. I still beg God to show me His will through all of this suffering and to allow me to be His priest if it be His will, but I know that I am not alone in my suffering.  I have my family, my friends, and the support of the entire universal Church.  I have walked in Brittany’s shoes, but I have never had to walk alone. Such is the beauty of the Church, our families, and the prayerful support that we give to one another.

May Brittany come to understand the love that we all have for her before she takes her own life, and that if she chooses instead to fight this disease, her life and witness would be an incredible example and inspiration to countless others in her situation. She would certainly be an inspiration to me as I continue my own fight against cancer.

This letter was originally posted on the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh website – 10/22/14

Mass Mob–a new way of looking at prayer
| November 04, 2014


STAMFORD—As reported in the New York Times, flash mobs are proliferating throughout the world—Catholic youth in Fairfield County are taking the idea one step further by joining the ‘Mass Mob’ movement already popular in major cities like Buffalo, Detroit, New York City and Philadelphia.

Intrigued? We hope so, and we hope you’ll join the group at 5 pm, Saturday, November 8 at Holy Name of Jesus Church, 325 Washington Boulevard, Bridgeport CT. Everyone is welcome to join in the second Mass Mob in Fairfield County.  The first one drew 230 faithful from all over Fairfield County and Mass Mob plans on growing from there.

Mass Mob will help its participants see other parishes and how they celebrate the liturgy, to support other parishes and to improve their own prayer lives. Mass Mob will encourage people to go to Mass in a different place they normally wouldn’t go. The hope is to connect the diocese—people will meet other people from across the diocese, see new churches, meet new priests and support other churches—just by getting more people to go to Mass.

“Just by showing up to a church at a particular time, you’re helping to build bridges all across the diocese; you’re helping other parishes; you’re meeting new people; you’re experiencing different ways to give thanks to God. You get to do all of this simply by showing up to Mass and praying!”, said Katie-Scarlett Calcutt, spokesperson for Mass Mob Fairfield County. “Pope Francis has encouraged young people to ‘make a mess in their dioceses’, and Bishop Caggiano, of the Diocese of Bridgeport has urged us all to cultivate a welcoming spirit—this is a new way of doing just that.”

WHAT:      Mass Mob Fairfield County

WHERE:   Holy Name of Jesus Church, 325 Washington Boulevard, Stamford CT

WHEN:     Saturday, November 8 at 5 p.m.

WHY:        Mass Mob Fairfield County hopes to support other parishes, celebrate the liturgy and improve the prayer lives of participants by taking a new approach to going to church.

Click here to link to a blog post that also explains what a Mass Mob is

Mass Mob Committee
Fairfield County, CT
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Facebook: Mass Mob Fairfield County
Twitter: @MassMobFfldCo

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Vocation Awareness
| November 04, 2014


National Vocation Awareness Week is November 2-9, 2014.  The focus of the week is especially on vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life.  

Bishop Caggiano has asked his priests and deacons to preach about vocations, especially at Sunday Masses during this time of heightened vocation awareness. Additionally, the bishop has asked that parishes include prayers for vocations in their Prayers of the Faithful.

National Vocation Awareness Week is an annual week-long celebration of the Catholic Church in the United States dedicated to promote vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life through prayer and education, and to renew our prayers and support for those who are considering one of these particular vocations.

A portrait of Pope Saint John XXIII that hangs in the seminary.
It was a gift to the seminary by Blessed Pope Paul VI.

Richard Cardinal Cushing

Pope Saint John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass.

A Vocation Story:

I was born in June, 1964. Two months later, Pope John XXIII National Seminary was dedicated. In August, 1995, I entered PJXXIII Seminary and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Bridgeport in May, 1999.

PJXXIII Seminary is now called Pope Saint John XXIII National Seminary. It is located in Weston, Mass., about 15 miles west of Boston proper.

Its founder is the legendary Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston, a man of great Irish wit, initiative and spirituality who was a whirlwind of grace-filled activity in the glory days of the American Church and who also attended Vatican II, although some claim he was a bit mystified by the process. At one point in Rome, it is claimed that he quipped, “If they really want a college, I will just write them a check.” He was referring to the discussions about the need for renewed collegiality in the Church.

Despite his apparent confusion about the need for Vatican II, he was a visionary, especially concerning vocations to the priesthood. At a time when American seminaries were bursting at the seams with aspirants to the priesthood, he believed that the nation needed another seminary, this time for later vocations.

Since its founding in 1964, the notion of “later” vocations in America has been changing. In 1964, most priests would have been ordained at 25, but today, the average age of ordination is 35 and growing higher all the time.

PSJXXIII was founded for seminarians who enter at 30 years of age and older, but since its founding, its average seminarian is about 50 years old. When I entered, I was 31, and I was the youngest by far in my class of ’99. Our eldest seminarians were in their early 70s. Those who were near 70 had probably worked out a deal with their bishop whereby it was understood that they may only work in the field for 5-10 years before retiring.

Recently, I attended my 15th Class Reunion, which coincided with the seminary’s 50th anniversary. Cardinal Sean O’Malley was the principal celebrant at the anniversary Mass, and in his homily he joked that Cardinal Cushing must have been a very busy man. “All I do, it seems,” he said, “is travel around this vast archdiocese celebrating 50th anniversaries! Celebrating these anniversaries could essentially be a full-time job!” Everyone found these comments amusing because if anything, Cardinal Cushing was known to be a man of ceaseless action.

Two members of the Class of 1968 – the seminary’s first – were present for the celebration. Five of the 17 members of my graduating class were present for the festivities and we sat together at dinner.

Some men have a dislike for their former seminary for various reasons, but I find it hard to fathom why anyone could complain about PSJXXIII. The food is good, the rooms are comfortable and the academics are not excessive. In all, the formation to be a priest is “top shelf” as one of our beloved chefs used to say about certain cuts of meat that he would serve us!

Many priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport have attended PSJXXIII, and we now have two seminarians there in formation.

I am very happy that I made the effort to attend my reunion and the seminary’s 50th anniversary. It made feel connected, or reconnected, to a long line of men who have entered that seminary to be ordained priests. It is good, and healthy, to experience a sense of belonging, and I am happy to belong to Pope Saint John XXIII National Seminary.

If you think you may have a “later” vocation that is trying to spring forth, please go to and/or Thanks and God Bless ~ Fr. Colin

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Newly beatified pope championed justice and peace
| November 03, 2014


Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano

With numerous armed conflicts raging in various parts of the world, and the Vietnam War worsening, Pope Paul VI on October 4, 1965 proclaimed before the U.N. General Assembly: “No more war, war never again. It is peace, peace which must guide the destinies of peoples and of all mankind.”

Unfortunately, in 1965 the world did not heed Blessed Paul VI’s prophetic words. And sadly, it has not heeded them since.
From Mexico to South Sudan, from Syria to Ukraine, from Russian and U.S. nuclear weapons threatening each other to the endless “war on terrorism,” today more than ever the world needs to heed Blessed Paul’s plea: “No more war, war never again. It is peace, peace which must guide the destinies of peoples and of all mankind.”
Since Pope Paul had tremendous respect for all human life—starting at conception—it is providential that the miracle granted by God through his prayerful intercession involved the healing of an unborn child.
According to Vatican Insider, in California an unborn child in 2001 was diagnosed with ascites (liquid in the abdomen) and anhydramnios (absence of fluid in the amniotic sac). When every corrective attempt failed, the doctors said the baby would die before birth or be born with dangerous renal impairment.
When abortion was offered as an option, the mother refused. Instead, she prayed for a miracle asking Pope Paul’s intercession to God. Ten weeks later tests results revealed that the unborn child had significantly improved, and was born by Caesarean section.   
The boy is now a healthy adolescent considered completely healed. The Vatican’s medical consultation team headed by Professor Patrizio Polisca, confirmed that it was impossible to explain the healing scientifically.
Over 40 years ago Blessed Paul VI foresaw the impending environmental disaster facing humanity today. In his apostolic letter Octogesima Adveniens  (“A Call to Action”) he warned: “Man is suddenly becoming aware that by an ill-considered exploitation of nature he risks destroying it and becoming in his turn the victim of this degradation.”
In his day, and even more so today, in a world where great economic inequality exists—where the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer—Blessed Paul VI in his prophetic encyclical letter Populorum Progressio (“On the Development of Peoples”) clearly challenged this grave injustice.

He wrote, “God intended the earth and everything in it for the use of all human beings and peoples. Thus, under the leadership of justice and in the company of charity, created goods should flow fairly to all. …

“Extreme disparity between nations in economic, social and educational levels provokes jealousy and discord, often putting peace in jeopardy."

Instead of largely ignoring the reasonable and just demands of countless oppressed people, and then going to war against them when they rise up, we should tirelessly work for social justice for all people.

For as Blessed Paul VI continued to teach in his encyclical Populorum Progressio, “When we fight poverty and oppose the unfair conditions of the present, we are not just promoting human well-being; we are also furthering man's spiritual and moral development, and hence we are benefiting the whole human race. For peace is not simply the absence of warfare, based on a precarious balance of power; it is fashioned by efforts directed day after day toward the establishment of the ordered universe willed by God, with a more perfect form of justice among men.”

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

The Bishop will speak at Fairfield University’s Quick Center for the Arts to share his hopes for the Diocese
| November 03, 2014


FAIRFIELD—On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, at 8 pm, Fairfield University will welcome the Bishop of Bridgeport, the Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, who will share his perspectives and hopes for the future of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Free and open to the public, the event will take place in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.

It is sponsored by Fairfield University’s Center for Catholic Studies. Complimentary tickets need to be reserved through the Quick Center Box Office: 203.254.4010, or toll-free 1.877.ARTS.396. (1.877.278.7396).

Bishop Caggiano will deliver the 21st Annual Christopher F. Mooney, S.J. Lecture in Theology, Religion & Society, entitled, “On Calling a Diocesan Synod: Hopes and Dreams.” In his talk, he will discuss how the Diocese has begun its fourth diocesan synod, in the hope that it will be a catalyst for pastoral discernment and renewal.

“Throughout its history, the Church has effectively used the work of synods to clarify the pastoral challenges that confronted believers in a given age, to listen attentively to the voice of the Spirit who sought to guide them in such times and to discern effective responses to those challenges,” Bishop Caggiano said of his upcoming talk. “In the Diocese of Bridgeport, we have begun our fourth diocesan synod, in the hope that it will be a catalyst for pastoral discernment and renewal. Against the larger backdrop of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, my remarks will provide both a personal and theological assessment of the synod and its work. ”
On September 19, 2013, the Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano was formally installed as the fifth Bishop of Bridgeport at an Installation Mass held at St. Theresa Church in Trumbull. In his homily, the Brooklyn, New York born and raised priest spoke of “Building Bridges of Faith” in Fairfield County and the Diocese of Bridgeport. He was appointed Bishop of Bridgeport by His Holiness Pope Francis. Bishop Caggiano comes to Bridgeport from Brooklyn, where he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn and Titular Bishop of Inis Cathaig by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.

Bishop Caggiano is an outstanding teacher, as is evidenced by the Holy See selecting him twice to offer catechesis to the young people at World Youth Days, in Madrid 2011 and just recently in Rio de Janeiro. Following World Youth Day, he travelled to Ireland where he had been selected by the Catholic Bishops to help lead the “Youth 2000” Summer Retreat.

He was born in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn on Easter Sunday March 29, 1959, the second of two children of Arnaldo and Gennarina Caggiano, both of whom came to this country in 1958 from the town of Caggiano in the province of Salerno, Italy.

The director of the Center for Catholic Studies is Paul Lakeland, Ph.D., the Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J. Chair in Catholic Studies. For more information about the Center and the event, call 203.254.4000, ext. 3415, or visit
The 21st Annual Christopher F. Mooney, S.J.  Lecture in Theology, Religion & Society - “On Calling a Diocesan Synod: Hopes and Dreams”
Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport
Tuesday, November 4, 2014, 8 pm
Fairfield University’s Quick Center for the Arts.

Children teach about saints
| October 31, 2014


NEW  CANAAN—Celebrating the Feast of All Saints, fourth graders from St. Aloysius Religious Education attended the 10 am Mass on October 26 dressed as the saints they had studied in class. 

Pictured here with Msgr. Scheyd, St. Aloysius’ pastor, the students shared the information they learned during the homily.

For parents, the Catholic Parents Connect ministry will be offering a very special talk by Matthew Hennessey on November 20 at 7:30 pm.

Catholic Parents Connect invites parents and grandparents of children of all ages to come together to network and listen to speakers who help them nurture and strengthen our Catholic identity and faith in our families. For more info, contact Chris Otis, director of St. Aloysius Youth & Family Ministry: 203.652.1154 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Ernie Anastos: Positive on Faith and Community
| October 30, 2014


DANBURY—“Whatever you enjoy doing every day will be the avenue to your success,” WNYW Fox 5 News Anchor Ernie Anastos said this morning at the Annual Catholic Charities of Danbury Celebrity Breakfast.

Click here to see a slideshow

Noting that most people want “more, better or different,” Anastos said that a life in pursuit of success can leave people feeling empty if they live without a higher purpose. “Don’t just strive for success, strive for significance.”

The event, with its Greek themed breakfast in honor of Anastos, raised $60,000 to support the work of Catholic Charities in the greater Danbury area. It was recorded and some of it will be used on the 6 pm broadcast of “Positively Ernie” on WNYW-TV.

The Emmy Award winning news anchor said the advice came from his grammar school teacher and he often shares it with young people as he encourages them to “follow their passion” in life.

Speaking to a gathering of more than 300 friends of Catholic Charities of Danbury in the Amber Room, the Hall of Fame broadcaster said that his Greek Orthodox faith has always been an important part of his life.

“The number one in my life is God. I can’t imagine living a life without faith,” said Anastos in a talk that mixed humor and wisdom. He was introduced by Danbury Mark Boughton, who proclaimed October 30 as “Positively Ernie Anastos Day” in the city.

Anastos has ties to Danbury through his late grandfather who was a priest at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church on Clapboard Ridge Road in the city.

Mayor Boughton also praised the work of Catholic Charities for helping to serve “the 580,000 people who live in the ten towns of the greater Danbury region.

Anastos, who grew up in Nashua New Hampshire, fell in love with radio as a boy and practiced being an announcer in a pretend studio. He got his first break hosting a Saturday show for teens on WOTW, a station that he later bought.

His first real job was at WRKO, Boston’s biggest radio station, where he was asked to change his name to Ernie Andrews. “Anastos” was a bit too ethnic, so Ernie reluctantly changed his on-air name with his father’s blessing. But when he landed his big break in TV on Channel 12 in Providence, he restored his real name, which has since become a household word in the northeast.

Anastos clearly enjoyed working the audience and asking questions of those in attendance.

“I love being with live people,” he quipped, noting that millions watch Fox News or get it through digital sites but he never really knows who’s watching. “I focus on my Aunt Eva who lives on Park Avenue in Bridgeport, because I know she’s watching every night.”

Anastos said he was excited about the opportunity to design and host “Positively Ernie,” an upbeat newscast that focuses on positive stories. He urged those in attendance not to be overwhelmed by all the negative news but to try to make a difference in their own communities.

Bishop Frank Caggiano delivered the invocation and Fr. Samuel V. Scott, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Danbury offered the welcome. The Reverend Peter Karloutsos of Assumption Greek Orthodox Church gave the final blessing.

Amber room Chef Chris Hatzsis paid tribute to Anastos with a Greek themed breakfast including miniature parfaits of Greek yogurt, Galaktoboureki (Green pastry filled with cream) and a toasted baguette with grilled tomato, feta cheese and a Loukaniko (sausage) garnish.

The Fall Celebrity Breakfast was co-chaired by Catholic Charities Advisory Board members Lisa Donovan, Saint Edward the Confessor Parish, New Fairfield, Claudia Menezes and Sally Savoia, both of St. Mary Parish in Ridgefield.

Catholic Charities programs in the greater Danbury area include the Behavioral Health Clinic, Family Loan, Morning Glory Breakfast (at Dorothy Day House), Homeless Outreach Team, Community Support and Recovery Pathways, and New Heights for those struggling with mental illness.

Catholic Charities Danbury has served people of all faiths in the greater Danbury area since 1939. The main office is located at 405 Main Street, Danbury.

Pink for one of their own
| October 29, 2014


STAMFORD—On Friday, October 24, Trinity Catholic High School held an especially meaningful Go Pink Day for breast cancer.

The school held an assembly in the gym where speakers read statistics and facts about breast cancer.

Then students listened with intent silence while Assistant Principal Diane Warzoha, who is currently undergoing treatment for the disease, spoke about her personal experience and expressed her gratitude for the school's support. At the end of the day Trinity’s students made a human angel in support of the cause. The day’s observance raised over $1,000 for the Bennett Cancer Center at Stamford Hospital.

Pope urges prayer, international action to fight Ebola virus
| October 29, 2014 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis pleaded for the international community to take stronger, coordinated steps to "annihilate" the Ebola virus and help the millions of people impacted by the disease.

"As the Ebola virus epidemic worsens, I want to express my deep concern for this relentless illness that is spreading particularly on the African continent and especially among populations that are already disadvantaged," the pope said Oct. 29 at the end of his weekly general audience.

Pope Francis offered his prayers and solidarity with the sick, as well as with the doctors, nurses, volunteers, religious orders and humanitarian agencies working "heroically to help our sick brothers and sisters."

"I ask you to pray for them and for all who have lost their lives," the pope said.

The day before the pope's appeal, Caritas Internationalis—the umbrella organization for Catholic charities around the world -- announced it would hold a special meeting in Rome Nov. 4 to coordinate ways to increase the work Catholic charities are doing in response to the epidemic, especially in West Africa.

"At this point, it's not only about preventing Ebola. We're also called to care for the thousands of healthy people who were already poor, who have no access to healthcare for other illnesses and whose lives have been turned upside down by this crisis," said U.S. Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo, the Caritas health adviser.

"This is a shattering emergency. We need to strengthen the response of Caritas and our collaboration with other Catholic Church organizations as quickly as possible. Our brothers and sisters cannot wait," Msgr. Vitillo said.

The priest also said the organizations would discuss ways to "respond to the global reactions of panic and of stigmatizing that are directed at West Africans, migrants from the region, and even at returning health care volunteers."

The World Health Organization reported Oct. 25 that "10,141 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola virus disease have been reported" in Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Spain and the United States, as well as previously in Nigeria and Senegal, where the disease reportedly has been contained. As of Oct. 23, the report said, 4,922 of those infected had died.

Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' overseas aid agency and a member of Caritas Internationalis, announced in late September that it has committed more than $1.5 million to anti-Ebola efforts in West Africa.

Remembering the diocese after we are gone
| October 28, 2014 • by Father Colin McKenna


On Thursday evening, October 16, I was feted along with a small number of other clergy and lay people at the bishop’s residence in Trumbull. After a moving, personal Mass with Bishop Caggiano as principal celebrant and homilist, I along with the other attendees was inducted into the Saint Augustine Legacy Society.

The bishop presented me with a membership lapel pin and a certificate of induction worthy of papal honors. When he tried to attach the pin to my lapel, he drew blood (just kidding!). Finally, we were led into the dining room where we were treated to home-made pizza, sandwiches, various salads, and scrumptious home-made desserts.

Never have so many honors and privileges been showered upon me for having done so little!

Now for a little background. A few weeks ago, Bill McLean, chief development officer for the diocese, stopped by my office in the Catholic Center and placed an invitation in front of me. He asked me if I had received the invitation, and I admitted that I had received it but I had failed to RSVP that I would not be attending. I apologized, thinking that determining whether or not I was coming to the Mass and induction ceremony and reception was the primary purpose of his visit. But he continued.

He asked me if I had checked off a little box on the form when I had made a contribution to the Annual Bishop’s Appeal. The box indicated that I had remembered the diocese in my estate. Now I had to go further and explain that I had considered the invitation but that I was not interested in becoming a member – even an inaugural member – of the St. Augustine Legacy Society.

When you are dealing with someone in development, it is best to remember that fundraising professionals can be persuasive. The next thing I knew, I had agreed to become an inaugural member of the St. Augustine Legacy Society. This is the stuff of which fine obituaries are made!

For whatever reason, I have always been quite responsible about having a will. I think I had my first one when I was about thirty years-old. Now that I am fifty, I need to bring my will back to my lawyer for a tune-up.

It has always been a given that I would remember the Diocese of Bridgeport in my estate, and whatever I leave to the diocese will be an unrestricted gift. Since entering seminary twenty years ago, and after fifteen years as a priest, the diocese has been unwavering in its support of me. There are instances where I could claim that I was treated unfairly here and there, or that I was not shown proper respect (excuse me!), but by and large, the Diocese of Bridgeport has shown me unconditional love and nurturance. In that sense, the diocese has been like a parent to me, imperfect but loving.

My hope is that when it is my time to meet Jesus face to face, I may be able to leave more to the diocese in dollar terms than I received in salary and benefits during my time as a priest. That is a lofty goal, but God-willing, I will leave something to the diocese in my estate that can help the bishop at that time with his fundraising goals and objectives.

Remembering the diocese in my estate is an act of thanksgiving to God for having called me to serve as a priest in Fairfield County, where I was born and raised. Contributing the Annual Bishop’s Appeal is easy to do, thank God. And it was even easier to check off that little box, indicating that I have remembered the diocese in my estate.

Little did I know when I checked off that box that I would become an inaugural member of the St. Augustine Legacy Society. If you, too, think that you have what it takes to be inducted into the St. Augustine Legacy Society, please contact the development office at 203.416.1479.

They say that you cannot buy heaven, but…

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Brian A. Wallace Deserves a Medal
| October 28, 2014


The communications office in the Catholic Center houses the offices of the Fairfield County Catholic, which produces a monthly newspaper mailed directly to over 100,000 households in Fairfield County. On a daily basis, the communications office is also one of the livelier offices in the chancery because clergy and staff from other offices often stop by to ask for assistance with projects involving printed material and online efforts, including social media outreach.

The communications office staff consists of fewer than ten people, but two of them have the same name: Brian Wallace. This can lead to some confusion, but surprisingly, things run fairly smoothly, even when someone comes in and asks for “Brian.”


Brian D. Wallace is the director of communications, which includes being executive editor of the Fairfield County Catholic (print and online) and being diocesan spokesperson.

Brian A. Wallace works in the communications office as the creative art director. Presently, he is working on a new safe environments manual that will be 80 pages long. It is expected that 30,000 copies of the manual will be printed and distributed to parish staff and volunteers throughout the diocese.

Someone suggested a helpful mnemonic for me when trying to remember which Brian has the middle initial “A” and which one has “D.” The trick is to remember that Brian A. Wallace has the “A” for “art”!

Whenever a large diocesan Mass is to be celebrated that requires a program, Brian A. is called upon to produce something as attractive and detailed as required. He recently produced a one volume program for the priests at their convocation which included texts, music and prayers for all of their liturgies.

His most recent work of art, for which he is to be lauded, is the new St. Augustine Medal, given each year to outstanding parishioners and staff who serve the Church above and beyond the call of duty. The medals were awarded this past weekend, and undoubtedly, many marveled at the beauty of their award.

Not one to take all of the credit himself, Brian wanted to make sure that the contributions of last summer’s intern were also recognized. Over the summer, intern Anna Lynette Speight drew an image of St. Augustine from another image and then used her computer skills to create a stylized graphic art image of St. Augustine that was used to create the new medals.

In the pictures that accompany this post, Brian can be seen tucked away at his desk in the Catholic Center. He is truly one of the unsung heroes of our diocese!

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5K run, walk draws 250 in Newtown
| October 28, 2014 • by Danbury News Times


NEWTOWN—"The spirit of St. Rose" was everywhere Sunday as 250 participated in St. Rose of Lima School's 5K run and walkathon at the Fairfield Hills campus.

The fifth annual event was sponsored by the Catholic school's parent-teacher organization. Rob and Amy Griffin have organized each 5K run and walkathon, attracting the Newtown community each year.

"We've had a fabulous response from the beginning," Amy Griffin said. "It brings the entire family of St. Rose together." The event reached its $20,000 fundraising goal as of Friday. Raffle prizes were donated by school families, while silent auction items were donated by Newtown and Bethel businesses.

For link to story in Danbury News Times click here

Recipients honored as “missionaries of hope” at St. Augustine Medal Service
| October 25, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—After praising more than 130 St. Augustine Medal recipients for their “generous and loving service to the Church,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano also issued a challenge to them during today’s St. Augustine Medal of Service ceremony.

“I commission you to go out to be my missionaries of hope to the rest of our Church, and to invite them to follow in your footsteps,” the Bishop said in a brief homily. “And in this year of the Synod, let us pray that they rise to the challenge because we need every single one of them.”

More than 700 friends and family members filled St. Augustine Cathedral in downtown Bridgeport to offer prayer and praise for the recipients.

In the early afternoon ceremony on a day sparkling with sunshine, the Bishop began his remarks by thanking medal recipients for their long-time service to parishes and the diocese.

“I am very grateful for your service, your generosity, your witness and your faith,” he said. “Today is a celebration of that service as love made concrete in your witness. Often in your silent way, you become the presence and face of God to those who need it the most.”

During the prayer service and program, one by one the honorees came forward with their pastors to receive their medals from the Bishop. Many couples were also among the recipients.

Speaking to almost 900 people who filled St. Augustine Cathedral in downtown Bridgeport, Bishop Caggiano said it was fitting that the medals of service are named for St. Augustine because “he wrote one of the most beautiful sermons ever written in generosity.”

The names of the medal winners were read from the altar by Sister Mary Grace Walsh, Superintendent of School, and Al Barber, President of Catholic Charities. William McLean, Chief Development Officer of the Diocese, presented the medals to the Bishop for distribution.


At the end of the service, recipients were given a standing ovation and invited to a reception at Kolbe Cathedral High School.

After the prayer service, which included a the singing of Psalms and a reading from the Jeremiah (More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? The Lord alone…”), the Bishop blessed the bronze medals with an engraving of St. Augustine on the front and the seal of the Diocese of Bridgeport on the reverse side.

“Wear your medal often,” the Bishop urged the men and women, “so people asked what is it? And you can invite them to receive it as well by following your example of generous and loving service. May the medal you wear outside always reflect the goodness of your heart on the inside.”

The November 15 issue of Fairfield County Catholic will include photos of all recipients. They will also be posted on line as soon as they are available.

2014 St. Augustine Medal Nominees (Download PDF)

Click to view a slideshow of the ceremony

To view photos of recipients go to

The Big Day of Serving
| October 24, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—What a great day! Teens from St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan joined over 400 other volunteers from the tri-state area who spent the day in Bridgeport working to help in 24 service projects.

The St. A teens were assigned to the Burroughs Community Garden. They weeded and weeded for hours and then mulched and prepped the soil for next spring, all so next summer those in need in Bridgeport can have fresh food on their table.

They were guided by Laura, a Jesuit Volunteer who led them for the day, and Edie Cassidy who formerly worked for the Diocese of Bridgeport.

After their day on the job, the teens were invited to the Bluefish Stadium for a BBQ the city hosted for volunteers, and had the chance to meet Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch! For the record, the mayor shared that with the man hours that were put in by volunteers—that work would have cost the city $40,000 to complete if they had to pay people to do it! Way to go teens! Thank you for giving up your Saturday to help revitalize Bridgeport at the Big Day of Serving!

The best part of this great day is that St. A’s teens want to go back in the spring and replace the wood partitions around the gardens! “Anyone want to join us???” asks St. Aloysius Youth Minister Chris Otis.

Save the date: next October 17, 2015, the Big Day of Serving returns to Bridgeport. “St. A's will be there!” says Otis. “We challenge every other Catholic Parish in the diocese to join us and invite Bishop Caggiano to come serve with us too!”
Click the link to see the before and after pics of the great job done by St. A’s team

Amazing Parish Conference re-energizes parish life
| October 24, 2014


DENVER—Five parishes from the Diocese of Bridgeport were among the 140 parishes from around the U.S.A. and Canada who gathered in Denver on August 27-28 for the Amazing Parish Conference.

Led by Father Peter Towsley, vicar for evangelization and episcopal delegate to the ecclesial movements of the Diocese of Bridgeport, the parishes represented at the conference included St. Joseph in Shelton; St. Joseph in Brookfield; Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton; St. Aloysius in New Canaan; and St. John in Darien. Pastors, parochial vicars, directors of religious education (DREs), deacons and other lay parishioners were invited to participate.
The conference was put on by the Amazing Parish Movement, a group of committed Catholics from around the United States who want to help parishes by connecting them to great resources.

“The conference was a wonderful instrument in examining, evaluating and renewing the many aspects of parish life,” said Father Cyrus Bartolome, a participant from St. Aloysius. “It is a way to look within the very fabric of parish ministry—what are the things that need to stop, to start and rebuild, to refocus our vision in order to build up the body of Christ, our Holy Mother Church.”

The Amazing Parish website explains: “A parish is probably the most important organization in society—it is where most people come to know Christ and his Church. That is why every parish must strive to be amazing.”

(To learn more, visit the Amazing Parish website:

Tap Dancing Priests Rising to Internet Fame
| October 24, 2014


ROME—A pair of priests from the U.S. are captivating audiences at their seminary in Rome with a tap dance routine that is now garnering hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube.

Click here to view a recent YouTube video.

Click here to view a video from 2012.

St. Catherine of Siena women help to feed the poor
| October 21, 2014


RIVERSIDE—The Women's Guild of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Riverside had a "soup-making" day to raise money to support the work of the Greenwich World Hunger Association.

Twelve women got together to make 100 quarts of lentil soup which was sold after all of the weekend Masses.

It raised enough money after expenses to be able to send a check for $800 to GWHA to help promote its mission: to eradicate hunger one project at a time all over the world.

GWHA currently has projects in India, Guatemala, Peru, Haiti, Nigeria, Kenya, Mozambique and the Philippines. The objective is to fund small projects to ease hunger and enable small communities to develop self-sustaining agricultural projects, water accessibility and purification, prenatal health, educational opportunities, and small business projects to advance the economic well-being of the local populations.

It is lifting people out of poverty one village at a time. And this tiny group in Greenwich has been doing so since 1976. For more info: or visit it on Facebook.Twelve.

Immaculate teens introduce youngsters to XC
| October 21, 2014


DANBURY—A new and exciting sport was introduced to the parochial schools in the Danbury area this fall.

In the first week of September, forty students from five different schools in the area met at Tarrywile Park and were introduced to the sport of Cross Country by members from the Immaculate High School Cross Country team.

The athletes met three times a week over the course of five weeks.

On October 8, the runners met for the Parochial School XC Championship. The race took place over a 1.91 mile hilly course, which proved to be very exciting for both runners and spectators alike with many close finishes. Each runner was greeted by a cheering crowd of fans and a Popsicle at the finish line. Medals were awarded to the top 12 runners and a trophy to the team champions: St. Joseph School in Danbury. Congratulations goes out to all the runners, parents and Immaculate students who made this program a quick success. Much thanks to our very own XC coach, Brian Hayes for leading the effort!

Kindergartners test hypothesis
| October 21, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Predicting buoyancy, kindergarteners at St. Andrew Academy conducted a experiment under the guidance of S.T.E.M. teacher Marilyn Mlynek.

Experimenting with different sized pumpkins, the youngsters first looked at their size and felt their weight,  then made estimates on whether they would sink or float. The most fun came when they tested their theories real-time in a tub of water.

“The first step in the scientific method is the hypothesis,” said St. Andrew Principal Maria O’Neil. The fun-filled activity helps build an attitude of exploration necessary for 21st Century learning.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Indian Summer
| October 21, 2014


Saturday, October 18 (the Feast of St. Luke), may have been the last warm day that we will have for awhile. The pictures of the waterfront that accompany this post were taken near sunset at Compo Beach in Westport, and the temperature was in the 70s. It was warm enough to be comfortable in shirtsleeves despite the brisk ocean breeze.

One of the reasons I wanted to post these pictures is to highlight the effects produced by the different editing filters on my iPhone 5s. For full-diclosure, I do not own shares in Apple (but I am considering buying some!).

I have written about the use of my iPhone in this blog before, and I am happy to report that it is becoming even more indispensable to me as a creative tool.

Someone asked me yesterday if I already have a blog written for Thanksgiving. Somewhat surprised by both the question and the concept, I explained that I much prefer to write my blogs each week, to keep them relevant and fresh. One of the joys of writing a blog is that I usually do not know what I am going to write about until I sit down to write it. Sometimes, I can experience writer’s block and really wonder if I can come up with something. Other times an idea presents itself immediately and I am eager to write about it.

This blog actually began with the pictures of the waterfront, which reveal both the limitations of my iPhone camera and its capabilities. The true beauty of the moment was not really captured by the camera, but the different filters allowed me to present the moment artistically. They are three separate pictures taken in time and from different vantage points. You will notice that the boat has moved in each frame.

After I took the pictures, I wondered how I could build a blog post around them, and then it occurred to me: refer to them in the context of Indian Summer.

Indian Summer is a term that is used rather loosely in the Northeast. Some refer to it as any warm weather after September 21, or the onset of fall. Others are very technical about its definition. The Farmer’s Almanac defines it as a period of unusually warm, hazy weather (in a high pressure system) between November 11 and November 20 after at least one freezing spell or “killing frost.”

For the purposes of this blog, we will maintain a rather loose definition of Indian Summer, but we will keep the criteria of a spell of unusually warm weather after a frost.

Because this blog is written for our diocese in particular, I will assume that our northernmost parish—Holy Trinity in Sherman—has already had at least one hard frost. Sherman is about 40 miles north of Long Island Sound and about 800 feet above sea level. For all I know, it may have already snowed up there! Would someone from Sherman please send me a note by carrier pigeon and let me know if you already have snow?

It was in the 30s along the coast in the wee hours of October 20, so I can safely assume that someplace in Fairfield County (the Diocese of Bridgeport) got frost.

The next step for Indian Summer is the return of unusually warm weather, which at this point would be in the 70s.

After my lovely walk on the beach on Saturday afternoon, I had to take my lemon trees inside from the deck on Sunday afternoon because of the coming cold temperatures. After some arranging and rearranging, I think I have my trees set up just right for their time indoors. They seem happy enough, and my parakeets are delighted to have them inside, placed beside their cage.

Oh, my parakeets! I have not written about them yet. They were a present to myself for my 50th birthday back in June. They were about three months old when I got them and they have been with me now for about four months. Their names are Snowball and Amber.

I did not know if they were male or female when I got them, but I now know that they are both boys. The names I gave them were sort of “unisex” so that I would not have to change them after I learned their sex. My explanation for a boy named “Amber” is that it is short for Ambrose. Hopefully, he won’t suffer any sexual identity issues because of his feminine-sounding name. More on my parakeets later…

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Women of Faith: Conference will focus on vocation of women
| October 20, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—“We as women need to take time for ourselves,” says Gina Donnarummo, diocesan director of adult formation. 

“We need time to come together in a prayerful and spiritual way to explore our dignity and vocation as women.”

The Office for Pastoral Services, with the encouragement of Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, has put together a day-long women’s conference with the theme, “Handmaids of the Lord."

It will be held on October 25 at the Trumbull Marriott. The day will include both breakfast and lunch. Through speakers, Adoration, Confession, veneration of a relic of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross and Mass with Bishop Caggiano, women will be looking at how they can respond to what the Lord is asking of them.

Three speakers will present aspects of that call and response during the conference:

Genevieve Kineke converted to the Catholic faith as a young adult. She was immediately drawn to the question of how women image God. In 2008, she was asked to address the participants of a Vatican congress honoring the 20th anniversary of “On the Dignity of Women”, an encyclical of Pope John Paul II. She will bring her perspective to the conference.

Dr. Dianne Traflet earned a licentiate and a doctorate in Sacred Theology from St. Thomas Aquinas University in Rome, focusing on the life of St. Edith Stein. She will draw on that expertise, at the conference, giving a talk titled: “To Unveil Christ in the Heart of Another: Edith Stein’s Understanding of the Vocation of Women”

Dr. Traflet is associate dean and assistant professor of pastoral theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University, South Orange, N.J. The founder and co-director of the seminary’s new Institute for Christian Spirituality, she currently serves on the Theological Commission of the Diocese of Paterson and the Newark Archdiocesan Advisory Committee for Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests.

Sister Clare Matthiass, CFR, entered the Community of the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, a community committed to following in the footsteps of Saint Francis by living the Gospel and serving the poor, in 1998. She has served as the vocations director and as postulant director, and is currently the community vicar. Sister Clare’s topic for this conference will be, “Dignity and Vocation as Women.”

The conference is sold out with 408 registrations, which include a cross section of the diocese in age, professional background, and geographical distribution across Fairfield County.

“We are pulled in so many different directions today, whether we are at the beginning of our careers, raising children or being caregivers to aging parents,” says Maureen Ciardiello, diocesan Respect Life director. “It is important for us to set time aside to ground ourselves in our Catholic faith to help us navigate the challenges of life.”

Pope beatifies Blessed Paul VI, the 'great helmsman' of Vatican II
| October 20, 2014 • by By Francis X. Rocca, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Beatifying Blessed Paul VI at the concluding Mass of the Synod of Bishops on the family, Pope Francis praised the late pope as the "great helmsman" of the Second Vatican Council and founder of the synod, as well as a "humble and prophetic witness of love for Christ and his church."

The pope spoke during a homily in St. Peter's Square at a Mass for more than 30,000 people, under a sunny sky on an unseasonably warm October 19.

"When we look to this great pope, this courageous Christian, this tireless apostle, we cannot but say in the sight of God a word as simple as it is heartfelt and important: thanks," the pope said, drawing applause from the congregation, which included retired Pope Benedict, whom Blessed Paul made a cardinal in 1977.

"Facing the advent of a secularized and hostile society, (Blessed Paul) could hold fast, with farsightedness and wisdom—and at times alone—to the helm of the barque of Peter," Pope Francis said, in a possible allusion to "Humanae Vitae," the late pope's 1968 encyclical, which affirmed Catholic teaching against contraception amid widespread dissent.

The pope pronounced the rite of beatification at the start of the Mass. Then Sister Giacomina Pedrini, a member of the Sisters of Holy Child Mary, carried up a relic: a bloodstained vest Blessed Paul was wearing during a 1970 assassination attempt in the Philippines. Sister Pedrini is the last surviving nun who attended to Blessed Paul.

In his homily, Pope Francis did not explicitly mention "Humanae Vitae," the single achievement for which Blessed Paul is best known today. Instead, the pope highlighted his predecessor's work presiding over most of Vatican II and establishing the synod.

The pope quoted Blessed Paul's statement that he intended the synod to survey the "signs of the times" in order to adapt to the "growing needs of our time and the changing conditions of society."

Looking back on the two-week family synod, Pope Francis called it a "great experience," whose members had "felt the power of the Holy Spirit who constantly guides and renews the church."

The pope said the family synod demonstrated that "Christians look to the future, God's future ... and respond courageously to whatever new challenges come our way."

The synod, dedicated to "pastoral challenges of the family," touched on sensitive questions of sexual and medical ethics and how to reach out to people with ways of life contrary to Catholic teaching, including divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, cohabitating couples and those in same-sex unions.

"God is not afraid of new things," Pope Francis said. "That is why he is continually surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways. He renews us; he constantly makes us new."

Convocation 2014: Study, Prayer and Fraternity
| October 18, 2014


NEWPORT—On Sunday afternoon, October 12, I-95 was filled with Catholic priests from the Diocese of Bridgeport as they made their way by bus and car to Rhode Island.

More than 160 priests from the diocese attended Convocation 2014. The last one was held in 2010 in the same Newport location, a large hotel/convention center with a chapel adjoining the grounds.

When they arrived on Sunday evening, the priests were treated to an opening dinner and then invited to pray together with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Vespers, a Holy Hour and Benediction.

Monday was the first full day of the Convocation, and it began, fittingly, after breakfast with Mass and morning prayer.

The first presenter of the conference was Robert Wicks, Psy. D., who is on the faculty at Loyola University Maryland. He has authored over 50 books, and his presentation was entitled, “Remaining Calm within the Storm ~ Strengthening the inner life of Priests.” By discussing psychological and classical spiritual approaches to maintaining a healthy perspective and inner strength, Dr. Hicks offered insights into how priests can maintain their equilibrium under stress. In his lively, engaging style, he encouraged the priests to “have an attitude of gratitude!” He concluded that maintaining a healthy perspective can allow priests to find peace in their ministry, a peace and warmth that they can then share with others.

The second presenter was Rev. Alfred McBride, O. Praem., who focused on the recent exhortation by Pope Francis, “The Joy of the Gospel.” Father McBride is an expert in catechesis, and in addition to writing many books during his priesthood, he has also worked in seminary formation, most notably at Pope Saint John XXIII Seminary near Boston, where a number of Bridgeport priests enjoyed his work as a professor.

Father McBride began his presentation by stating that “we all need wisdom,” especially priests who minister in these turbulent times. He encouraged priests to be evangelists not so much by what they say but rather by their witness to Jesus. He encouraged them to focus especially on evangelizing the family.

In addition to the presentations by Father McBride and Dr. Wicks, the priests also participated in a lengthy synod discussion facilitated by Bishop Caggiano, who said, “This is the first of a number of synod sessions we will have together.”

Msgr. Dariusz Zielonka, director of the synod, encouraged the priests to "bring the synod to your parishes.” And deputy synod director, Patrick Turner, hoped that the priests would “engage synod delegates with their fellow parishioners.”

On Wednesday evening, the final evening of the session, the priests gathered in clerical attire for a festive dinner. Casual dress was the order of the day except for the final festive dinner.

In the photos that accompany this article, the priests can be seen at conference, during liturgy and at the festive dinner.

Click to see additional photos from the Convocation

Anglican, Lutheran delegates say synod's concerns are theirs, too
| October 16, 2014 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Upholding the Christian ideal of marriage and family life while also reaching out to those whose lives do not reflect that ideal is a pastoral challenge faced by all Christian communities, said the Anglican representative to the Synod of Bishops.

Anglican Bishop Paul Butler of Durham, England, and "fraternal delegates" from seven other Christian communities addressed the synod Oct. 10. Bishop Butler also spoke to Vatican Radio Oct. 15 as synod members worked in small groups to amend the assembly's midterm report.

He told members of the synod that he and his wife have been married 32 years and have four grown children. Although Anglicans have married bishops and clergy, "like you," he told them, Anglicans "are wrestling with how best to respond" to the challenges facing family life around the world.

"As part of this response," he said, "we want to speak more of the promise of and hope from the family than focus on the threats," while also making it clear that "marriage is between a man and a woman and is intended to be for life."

Still, he told the synod, "families of all types" exist in society and within the church. "We have to minister to and with cohabiting, single-parent and same-sex families. This demands listening, understanding, compassion and care rather than condemnation."

In the Vatican Radio interview, he said that participating in a synod working group and making suggestions, he was looking first of all at "the tone" the synod report would take. "It's about being as positive as we possibly can to families of all make ups, recognizing that within the Catholic confession marriage is a sacrament, but how can the church be as welcoming as it is possible to be to those whose family life is not the ideal."

Being welcoming, he said, "is a way of offering hope to people and introducing them to the Christian doctrine. If we are seen as completely negative, then people won't come near us and they will just dismiss the Christian Gospel."

Lutheran Bishop Ndanganeni Phaswana of South Africa, representing the Lutheran World Federation, also told the synod that his community has been having "lively discussions" about how to respond to "new forms of family and marital relationships." The process, he said, has "created tensions" within the federation.

On behalf of the federation, he thanked the Catholic Church for inviting him to observe the synod's "discernment process and to learn from your discussions on this subject."

St. Rose student wins Parochial League Cross Country Championship
| October 15, 2014


DANBURY—On Wednesday, October 8, the inaugural Parochial League Cross Country Championship meet was held at Tarrywile Park in Danbury.

The cross country trail run was 1.9 miles that challenged runners with rolling hills. St. Rose of Lima School fielded 12 runners at the meet. Fifth Grader, Kayla Ondy was the overall winner with a time of 13:27, under seven minutes a mile, and St. Rose School placed third overall, with 74 points. Five area parochial schools participated, with more than 40 students running.

First Young Adults dance held in Trumbull
| October 15, 2014


TRUMBULL—The first dance by the Catholic Young Adults Group out of St. Theresa Parish in Trumbull was held on Saturday, October 11.

A great night of dancing, food and meeting new friends from all around the Diocese of Bridgeport. We even had visitors from the Diocese of Hartford “Catholic Young Adults of Connecticut”! For information on the Young Adults Group (ages 20s and 30s) at St. Theresa Parish, Main St., Trumbull, email Theresa: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). For a list of other Catholic Young Adult Groups in Fairfield County, and events around the area go to


Click here to view a slideshow.

Eagle Scout Service Project concludes with Solemn Blessing Ceremony
| October 14, 2014 • by By Matthew A. Penza, Life Scout


NEW FAIRFIELD—On Sunday, October 12, a public blessing ceremony of urns was held during the 11 am Mass at St. Edward the Confessor Church as part of Lone Boy Scout Matthew A. Penza’s Eagle Scout Service Project.

The Knights of Columbus from St. Edward Council No. 12968 lent dignity to the ceremony, as did the Knights from the Rev. John D. Kennedy Assembly No. 99, Greater Danbury, who attended with a colorful six-Knight honor guard. Connecticut State Senator Michael McLachlan was also in attendance as an honored guest.

While researching potential projects, Penza found the website of Garden of Innocence, a charity that provides burials to abandoned or unidentified children and stillborns, and assists families unable to provide a proper burial for their young children, saving them from the indignity of being buried unacknowledged in their local Potter’s Field.  

On their website, Penza viewed a video highlighting an event honoring infant Leo Riggs, who had died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and whose family had received assistance from the Garden. This video deeply moved him to give serious consideration to selecting Garden of Innocence as his project beneficiary, a decision firmly solidified shortly thereafter when he read several unrelated news articles spotlighting the use of fetal remains as biofuel in both the United Kingdom and Oregon.

The project consisted of coordinating the planning, building, and finishing of thirty-three wooden urns, as well as their public blessing at a Sunday Mass. The blessing took place immediately after the Liturgy of the Eucharist, with Penza delivering brief remarks and receiving an unexpected standing ovation from the congregation before Father Nick Cirillo, pastor of Saint Edward’s, administered the blessing while the Knights stood guard.  

Carol Matlick accepted the urns at the conclusion of the Mass on behalf of Garden of Innocence National, whose founder, Elissa Davey, later remarked, “These are probably the loveliest urns I have ever seen. The craftsmanship looks remarkable, plus you can tell that this project received a lot of love going into it.  Thank you so much for helping us spread the word… and for being an excellent example of what a true Eagle Scout should be.”

The successful completion of this service project involved coordinating a team of volunteer woodworkers, clergy and staff from St. Edward the Confessor Parish, the Knights of Columbus, Garden of Innocence National, BSA Connecticut Yankee Council, multiple local businesses, various media outlets, and local dignitaries, to all of whom Penza extends his sincerest gratitude for their generous contributions.

Later this month, Penza will go before an official Boy Scouts of America Eagle Board of Review, which will determine whether the rank of Eagle Scout will be officially granted to him.

A transcript of Penza’s remarks as delivered before the blessing follows: 

Matthew Alexander Wm Penza
Life Scout
Lone Boy Scout
Connecticut Yankee Council, BSA

Remarks at Mass Before the Blessing of the Urns
Saint Edward the Confessor Roman Catholic Church
Eagle Scout Service Project for Garden of Innocence National
Transcribed as Delivered October 12, 2014

Good afternoon. My name is Matthew Penza. I am a Lone Boy Scout working towards the rank of Eagle. As my Eagle Scout Service Project, I chose to lead a team of volunteers in planning, building, and finishing thirty-three wooden urns, which today I will be turning over to Garden of Innocence National.  The Garden provides dignified burials to abandoned or unidentified children and stillborns, as well as assisting families who are unable to provide a proper burial for their young children, saving them from the indignity of being buried nameless, unmarked, and forever unknown and unacknowledged in mass graves in their local Potter's Field. Very often, the local Knights of Columbus attend the burial services with an honor guard, and they have been kind enough to attend today.

Several factors led me to choose this as my project. As I was researching potential projects, I found the Garden of Innocence website, and saw an extremely moving video about an event they had in honor of an infant named Leo Riggs, who had died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and whose family had been assisted by the Garden. At that point, the Garden was on my short list, but I had not made any final decisions. Very soon after, I was horrified to read in the news that fetal remains were being used in British hospitals as biofuel—that they were being mixed in with other medical waste and being burned to heat the hospitals. Only a few days later, I learned that fetal remains were receiving similar treatment very close to home in Oregon. Though not directly related, hearing this news led me to definitively choose Garden of Innocence as my project beneficiary.

St. John Paul the Great noted that the culture of death seems to reign supreme, when he described the growing glamorization and acceptance of abortion, euthanasia, and other needless waste of life in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, in which he called us to be, quote, “fully aware that we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the ‘culture of death’ and the ‘culture of life.’” He went on to say, “We find ourselves not only ‘faced with’ but necessarily ‘in the midst of’ this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life.”

Two weeks ago today, during remarks before a Mass for the elderly, Pope Francis reminded us that, quote, “The culture of discarding human beings hurts our world… We are all called to counter this culture of poisonous waste! … We need a society which measures its success on how the weak are cared for.”

I see my project as my contribution to reversing the culture of death and restoring a culture of respect for and protection of life, including and especially for the weakest and youngest among us, by helping to properly bury these innocent children, which is one of the Corporal Works of Mercy. In addition to answering the call of the Church, this project honors the first point of the Scout Oath—Duty to God—and the twelfth point of the Scout Law—A Scout is Reverent.

Before formally turning over the urns to the Garden, I felt that they ought to be blessed at Holy Mass, given the profound role they will play in the end of their recipients’ lives on Earth, and in comforting their families. May God bless the souls of all deceased infants and children, especially those for whom these urns were made. In the words of librettist and Orthodox nun Mother Thekla: “Alleluia! Alleluia! May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

Thank you.

Respecting life outside our comfort zone
| October 14, 2014


Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano

True respect for life requires us to get out of our comfort zone.
Oh, we might say, “I respect life, I vote for ‘pro-life’ politicians who claim they will work to end abortion.” However, in a democracy voting is usually easy and comfortable.

But are we willing to regularly stand outside of an abortion mill on a freezing winter morning or hot summer afternoon praying and witnessing to the humanity of our unborn brothers and sisters? That’s harder and somewhat uncomfortable.
Now for those who are willing to get uncomfortable in support of the Catholic Church’s efforts to protect unborn human life, try to move into an even more uncomfortable zone: acknowledge the truth that war does much to disrespect life. War kills life–mostly innocent life.

Blessed Mother Teresa insightfully said, “The greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion, which is war against the child. … Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.”

But Mother Teresa’s quote can logically and honestly be turned around to say that war also is the greatest destroyer of love and peace. Like abortion, war is also against the child. And that any country that accepts war is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “The truth is that it is impossible to interpret Jesus as violent. Violence is contrary to the Kingdom of God. It is an instrument of the Antichrist. Violence never serves man, but dehumanizes him.”
Now let’s put the shoe on the other foot. Perhaps you say, “I respect life, I vote for politicians who say they will work to end war, war preparation and the military-industrial-complex.” Again, in a democracy voting is generally easy and comfortable.  
But are we willing to peacefully, prayerfully and publicly witness to the evil of war and war preparation? And are we regularly contacting our legislators?
Now for those who are willing to get out of their comfort zone in support of the Catholic Church’s teaching against violence and war, try to move into an even more uncomfortable respect life zone: acknowledge the truth that abortion disrespects life.
Admit the truth that abortion is as Mother Teresa said, “war against the child.” Acknowledge that abortion is extremely violent–against the unborn baby and against the mother.
Over the years I have talked with many “prolife” advocates for unborn babies who don’t think twice about bombing their enemies–often not knowing or caring that many of the victims are innocent, vulnerable born babies and children.
And I have come across numerous advocates for peace who are committed to ending war and war preparation, and yet who argue for the so-called right to choose an abortion—the violent dismembering of an unborn baby.
There is a very serious moral disconnect here. And this moral disconnect also sadly happens with all of the other grave social justice issues facing humanity—like poverty, hunger, sweatshops, immigration and refugee reform, climate change, the death penalty, euthanasia and  embryonic stem cell research.
As followers of the God of life, justice and peace we need to connect all of the moral dots and do whatever we can to make a difference.
For as Saint Pope John Paul II said, “We are all really responsible for all.”

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

Construction Kickoff!
| October 14, 2014


STAMFORD—Renovations started yesterday on the new home New Covenant House of Hospitality, the inner city soup kitchen that feeds the poor and hungry of the greater Stamford area.

The Kickoff ceremony put the focus on the $1.5 million “Funding the Future” capital campaign to raise funds for relocation to a new facility and to plan for future program needs.

The house of hospitality, which has served the poor of the greater Stamford area for almost 40 years, officially signed a lease for 8,200 square feet located at 174 Richmond Hill on September 1.

The Columbus Day festivities drew many dignitaries including Congressman Jim Himes, Stamford Mayor David Martin, Stamford Board of Representative Gloria DePino, Honorary Capital Campaign Chair, Rob Simmelkjaer of NBC Sports; and Al Barber, President of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County;

Also joining the kickoff celebration were Matthew Reyher, President ARI of Connecticut and Gerard Gasparino, ARI Development and Recreation Manager, and construction partners, Randy Salvatore, principal of RMS Construction and Jay Inzitari of RMS Construction.  

The capital campaign was announced by Paul Harinstein, Chairman of the Advisory Board of New Convent House of Hospitality, and Al Barber, Chief Executive Office of Catholic Charities, which sponsors and manages NCH.

NCH, which benefits from the commitment of hundreds of interfaith volunteers, will continue to serve three meals a day at its current location at Yerwood Center, until the new site is ready.  
Barber said the NCH Food Pantry, which provides groceries to poor families, will be the first to move to the new site, hopefully some time early next year.

To date the campaign has raised $425,000 with unanimous board participation. Harinstein, a member of Temple Sinai inStamford, is hoping the public phase will expand awareness of historic roleplayed by NCH in feeding the working poor, homeless and hungry of the region.  
Capital Campaign Committee members include Laure Aubuchon of New York City; Paul Harinstein of Stamford; Michael A. Boyd of Greenwich; Moira Colangelo of Stamford; Bob Dorf of Stamford and Linda Koe of Stamford.
“We getting word out to businesses, philanthropic givers and the religious community and we have a new brochure outlining ourstory,” said Harinstein who is in his third year as chairman of NCH. “Over the last six year, the numbers of meals we serve has nearly tripled to over 700,000 a year. Our current facility is not sufficient to meet the needs and we want to be in a better position to serve the community.”
Harinstein said he was encouraged by the support of NBC Sports, which recently moved into Stamford. On a recent Saturday more than 50 employees and their family members prepared and served a meal to guests. NBC Sports made a $25,000 donation to the soup kitchen. Rob Simmelkjaer of Westport, Senior Vice President, NBC Sport Ventures has agreed to serve as Honorary Chair of the Campaign.  
Harinstein said NCH was fortunate to find a site diagonally across from its current home in the Yerwood Center. The larger space will provide room for expansion andalso for a number of programs that will help guests to live independently.
“Feeding the hungry remains the core of our programs, but we don’t want  to just feed someone, send them home and nothing changes. Our goal is to get at the rootcauses of poverty.”   
Plans for the new facility include creating a bistro style dining area, and spacious foodpantry that will enable guests to shop and select a wide range of healthy food. The center will also house immigration services, English as a Second Language courses, a clothing closet, shower facility, and classroom space for job training and other skill building courses.
Guests are the poor and disadvantaged including the homeless, working poor, elderly, mentally ill, HIV/AIDS clients, the disabled and immigrants, both with and without citizenship documentation.
Many guests are at risk due to numerous socio-economic factors including poverty; disadvantage; addiction; lack of resources; complicated health issues and/or other disabilities.
New Covenant House of Hospitality serves the greater Stamford area, which includes Stamford, New Canaan, Greenwich and Darien. It is located at 90 Fairfield Avenue in Stamford. For information call email or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) Phone 203.964.8228

Note: For additional coverage please visit the Stamford Adocate

Respecting Life is Joyful
| October 13, 2014


STRATFORD—Bishop Caggiano was the principal celebrant and homilist at the annual diocesan “Mass for Life,” held October 12 at St. Mark’s Parish.

The 10:30 am Mass featured a full choir (in white gowns) and a full church of parishioners and visitors. Many of the parishioners who attended were anxious to see the bishop in person.

After Mass, the bishop waited outside the church in the beautiful fall weather to greet anyone and everyone who wanted to meet him.

The theme for Respect Life Ministry this year is derived from a quote from Pope Francis: “Each of us is a masterpiece of God’s creation.” The Mass is held in a different parish each year and is sponsored by the Respect Life Ministry office in the diocese.

After the Mass, a light reception was held in the parish center, where parishioners and visitors of all ages enjoyed baked goods and assorted beverages.

From beginning to end it was a festive day, which was in keeping with the bishop’s message about respecting life. Bishop Caggiano said that exhorting people to respect life is “not always a popular message in our society.” In order to make the message more attractive, those who encourage others to respect life must themselves lead by example, and being joyful in prayer is always an important component of successful evangelization. The bishop encouraged all gathered to be “people who live life fully and who respect life fully.”

The parishioners and visitors who attended the Respect Life Mass were certainly joyful. The St. Mark Parish Youth Group wore their distinctive bright blue t-shirts to show solidarity with the bishop and his pro-life message. Wearing a garment that signified belonging to a religious group fit in nicely with the Gospel in which an unfortunate fellow found himself without a “wedding garment.” Keeping with the theme of sacred garments, the bishop said that “life is a seamless garment, from the moment of conception until natural death.”

In his discussion about the need to respect life, the bishop was careful to include not only the unborn but also anyone who is in need. He encouraged everyone gathered to “concretize” the message by reaching out to anyone whom they may know who is in need of support, assistance or encouragement, including the poor, the elderly, the sick, the disabled and the dying.

Finally, the bishop encouraged everyone to pray daily for the “conversion of hearts” of those who do not respect life. He asked for special prayers for Christians in Middle Eastern countries who are now undergoing severe persecutions at the hands of lawless bands who are trying to make forced conversions to Islam. Those who refuse to convert to Islam are often victims of unspeakable violence, even against children.

Before the final blessing, the bishop extended a special thanks to Maureen Ciardiello, director of Respect Life Ministry for the diocese, who helped to organize this special Mass. The bishop also thanked Father Don Guglielmi, pastor of St. Mark’s, for his gracious hospitality.

Click here to view a slideshow of photos by Michelle Babyak.

Catholic Young Adults Group Adventure
| October 12, 2014


DANBURY—Catholic Young Adults of Greater Danbury at St. Marguerite, Brookfield, braved the rain on October 11 for a hike at Tarrywile Park in Danbury; they were joined by 3 others from other area Young Adult groups.

Aaron, Carl, Mary, Ambria, Sean, and Ruwan, enjoyed the morning getting to know each other. The group meets First and Third Friday of the month at St. Marguerite's, Brookfield, from 7-9pm. Come join us. For info call Maria Mullen at 203.798.6923 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). For events and a list of Young Adult Groups in Fairfield County CT and NY area go to:

First Hand-written Illuminated Bible in 500 Years
| October 10, 2014 • by By Joseph Pronechen


NEW HAVEN—For several centuries, monks spent countless hours diligently making copy after copy of the Bible by hand in beautiful script and adding colorful illustrations of some passage or parable along with highly ornate, illuminated lettering.

But once Gutenberg came along and printed the first Bible with moveable type around 1455 in Germany, the medieval Benedictine monks stopped all their hand-copying of the Bible. There was no need any more since now Bibles could be made in many copies in short time.

It was not until the time of this new millennium that monks once again looked toward a hand-produced Bible when the Benedictines of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minn., commissioned the first hand-written and illustrated Bible in 500 years. The result is the St. John’s Bible, a monumental work completed in May 2011 when calligraphic artist Donald Jackson finished copying in beautiful script the last word — “Amen”.

The story of this project and its results is now on exhibit at the Knights of Columbus Museum in downtown New Haven. Called “Illuminating the Word of God: The Saint John’s Bible,” it fills four galleries and includes 68 of the 1,178 original pages in addition to numerous items connected to making this unique Bible.

This is no pocket-sized Bible. Surprisingly, the pages are two feet high and nearly a foot-and-a-half wide. They will be bound into seven volumes, but for now the sections are being exhibited in various locations for some time yet so that many people around the country can see the incredible results.

The script all done by hand is striking. It looks straight from the Middle Ages, as if monks labored years over the whole work. Yet at the same time, there is something slightly different about it.

That new-old difference might be because this graceful script was created by the person who headed the project and had the idea in the first place: Donald Jackson. Appropriately, it is called the Jacksonian script.

Jackson happens to be one of the best calligraphers in the world and is the Senior Scribe to the Queen of England. He has stated that it was his dream since childhood of one day completing a handwritten Bible after the ancient practice.

To do that, the St. John’s Illuminated Bible project enlisted Jackson and five more scribes working with him in his scriptorium in Wales. A number of aides joined them.

While a computer was used to plot out the pages showing where every line should be placed, and the same for the illustrations, the rest of the work was basically carried out in the centuries-old manner that the medieval monks would recognize and use.

The pages are the same time-tested and time-honored vellum, which is from calfskin which was prepared in the traditional centuries-old manner.

The black ink for the script itself was prepared from rare 19th century Chinese ink sticks. The red ink dates to the 19th century and the vivid blue from lapis lazuli.

Just as did the monks of old, Jackson and his scribes began each chapter with a fancy capital letter. Only in this case, they are not quite as ornate as the medieval monks made them, at least in the major examples existing from centuries ago.

As quite a surprise, and yet no real surprise considering the project’s goals, all the script was done in the same manner as from well over a thousand years ago. Jackson and scribbles used quills they prepared by hand from turkey, swan and geese feathers. Not only are examples of these tools on display, but their use is demonstrated by way of a video.

The illustrations themselves are often quite colorful and even dazzling because of the abundance of sparkling and gleaming gold leaf in several of them. But here they differ in most part from the medieval sources. Most on display in this exhibit and presumably in the rest of the Bible are modernistic in their appearance, symbolism and metaphors. Sometimes they even lean to being somewhat abstract. They were intended to tilt toward being ecumenical.

While there are a couple of Byzantine icon-like illustrations from John Chapter 8, an illustration of the Sower and the Seed parable has a modern look with the sower working blue jeans and sweatshirt.

In the Book of Revelation, the illustration of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is likely meant to reflect chaos with its mostly abstract images that do include identifiable elements like the tanks of modern warfare.

But there is abstraction in the beautiful swallowtail butterflies that sometimes grace the pages.

For this handwritten and illustrated Saint John’s Bible, the committee in charge used the New Revised Standard Version (not the New Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition).

Considering the historical foundation and the work and talent that went into this project that took over a decade, The Saint John’s Bible is an epic work. It indirectly pays tribute to all those nameless monks who toiled with such patience for God and his Church.

This major exhibit runs through November 2 at the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven.

Click to view high resolution samples: Vision of Isaiah | Sower and the Seed | Valley of the Dry Bones

Bishops examined the link between the crisis of faith and the crisis of the family
| October 09, 2014 • by By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register


VATICAN CITY—The general discussion of the Synod of Bishops on the Family continued Wednesday by focusing on various proposals under way regarding the pastoral program for the family unit.

Bishops participate in one of the conferences of the October 5-19 Synod on the Family. – Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

According to the Holy See Press Office, the link between the crisis of faith and the crisis of the family was discussed, with the first generating the second.

This led to the suggestion of a vademecum (handbook) being devised, dedicated to the catechesis of the family.

The weakness of the knowledge of the Catholic faith of many baptized person was emphasized, saying this leads to couples getting married without being fully aware of what they are undertaking. “A dictatorship of unitary thought”—that is, counter-values that distort the vision of marriage as between a man and a woman—was also discussed. The crisis of values, atheist secularism, hedonism and ambition “destroy families today,” the synod heard. “It is therefore important to recover in the faithful the awareness of belonging to the Church, as the Church grows by attraction and the families of the Church attract other families,” the Vatican said in its summary.

Humanity must be reawakened so it senses belonging to the family unit, and the Church, being an expert in humanity, must underline this. The link between priest and families and their mutual help was also discussed, as was the family being the “cradle of vocations.”

A further link underlined was that between baptism and marriage: Without a serious and in-depth Christian initiation, a participant said, the meaning of the sacrament of marriage is diminished. There was talk of light that the Church brings to the world—the light that is given to mankind, which is not so much in terms of “fixed beacon” anchored to the land of origin, but a torch that accompanies the journey of each person step by step.

Confidence in God’s Grace
Many interventions have dealt with the need to have confidence in the grace of God, the Vatican said, adding that God’s grace is essential for our actions and our decisions. The director of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi, said there have been some “very beautiful” interventions on the theme of forgiveness and reconciliation, especially with regard to traditional African culture.

The interventions Wednesday largely drew attention to the situation in Africa: Discussed were polygamy, levirate marriage (whereas the brother of a deceased man is obliged to marry his brother's widow, and the widow is obliged to marry her deceased husband's brother), sects, war, poverty, the painful crisis of migration, and international pressure for birth control. At a press briefing on Wednesday afternoon, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, Nigeria, said the participants “came out very clearly” with the view that “life is sacred, marriage is sacred and family has dignity.”

He criticized international organizations that “like to entice us to deviate from our cultural practices, traditions and even our religious beliefs.” He said this is because they “believe their views should be our views” but “we say ‘No, we have come of age.’” Most African countries, he pointed out, became independent 50, 60 or 100 years ago. “We should be able to think for ourselves, define for ourselves what is marriage, what makes a family and when life begins,” he said.

He deplored the current practice of African nations being “wooed” by economic enticements. “We’re told if you limit population growth, we will give you so much,” he said. But he reminded the synod that many children die in infant mortality, or through diseases and wars.“And yet you [the West] come to tell us about ‘reproductive rights’ and you give us condoms and artificial contraception?” he said. “Those are not things we want,” he continued. “We want food, education, roads, regular light, good health care. We’re being offered wrong things, and expected to accept them because we’re poor.”

But he said poverty is not merely about money and there are other kinds. “We’re not poor in every sense, so we say ‘no’,” he said. The time has passed, he added, when Africans accept things “without asking questions.”

Conjugal Bond
The focus then returned to discussion on marriage. With regard to the indissolubility of the sacrament, it was highlighted in the synod that the conjugal bond and its stability is inscribed within the person, and therefore it is not a question of setting the law and the person in opposition to each other, but rather of understanding how to help the person not to betray his or her own truth.

In the fifth general congregation, which took place Wednesday morning, the debate focused on the Church in the Middle East and in North Africa. It was said that the laws impede “reunification of families” due to difficult political, economic and religious situations.It was also said that poverty leads to migration, and explained how “religious fundamentalism” means Christians do not enjoy equal rights with Muslims, especially when it comes to families of mixed (interreligious) marriages. Children of “mixed” marriages must be offered suitable catechesis, couples must “not be neglected” and the Church must care for them.

Later in the general congregation, it was said that the Holy See’s voice must be heard defending families “at all levels”—international and local—and the Church “must combat the educational and religious silence in families.”

The synod also highlighted the “indispensable contribution” of the lay faithful in proclaiming the Gospel of the family, especially the lay ecclesial movements. “Listening to the laity” and believing in them was “essential” as it is through them the Church “may find the answers to the problems of the family.”

Often, there was an emphasis on “greater preparation for marriage” with “special attention” paid to “emotional and sexual education.”

Father Thomas Rosica, press secretary to the Holy See, told reporters there was “no sense of doom” or “handwringing despair” among the participants. Instead, they have disclosed the “best practices,” considering, for example, how to appeal more to Scripture and adapting the language of “natural law” to suit the world of today.

He spoke of the need to use irregular elements of civil marriage as a “springboard” towards introducing them to sacramental marriage, and emphasized the “medicine” of mercy rather than placing “burdens on people’s shoulders.”

Financial Pressures
Also discussed were the effects of finances on the family. The precariousness of work, unemployment and poverty, and the distress they cause, can prevent families from having a home. “Furthermore, a lack of money often leads to it becoming “deified” and to families being sacrificed on the altar of profit,” it was said. “It is necessary to re-emphasize that money must serve rather than govern.”

And again, greater preparation for marriage was stressed, with special attention paid to “emotional and sexual education, encouraging a true mystical and familiar approach to sexuality.”  The contribution of grandparents to families, namely in the transmission of faith, was also emphasized, as was care for the elderly. “The same care must be reserved to the sick, to overcome the “throwaway culture” that Pope Francis frequently warns against,” it was said.

From the Pastor’s Desk
| October 09, 2014 • by By Monsignor Chris Walsh


In last week’s bulletin we talked about the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops summoned by Pope Francis that is taking place right now in Rome. Its theme is sharply focused: “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the context of Evangelization."

Its participants are largely key bishops from around the world. But the Fourth Synod of the Diocese of Bridgeport, which was officially convened last month by Bishop Caggiano, is a different sort of Church assembly.

Our Diocesan Synod (pronounced “SIN-id”) is a gathering of several hundred representatives of the clergy, religious and laity of the Church of Bridgeport. It meets under the leadership of our bishop, the chief shepherd and pastor for the Catholics of Fairfield County, who has asked the synod representatives to study, discuss and recommend proposals to him on a wide range of pastoral issues: e.g., re-evangelization of non-practicing Catholics, challenges to family life, ministry to youth, support of Catholic education, welcoming Latinos and other new Catholic immigrant groups, addressing key social issues, strengthening our parish life, etc. The Bridgeport Synod plans to hold five general sessions over the course of this coming year, with smaller study groups meeting in between. It is expected that the bishop will issue a final report of the Synod’s conclusions upon its completion.

In short, a local synod is not a deliberative or legislative body. Its purpose is to study issues, express views, and make proposals to the bishop who, as a successor to the Apostles, has the full, ordinary authority to teach, sanctify and govern the local Church. Nevertheless, synods have played a central role through the Church’s history in articulating the “sensus fidei” (or “sense of the faith”), which as Vatican II reminded us belongs to the entire Body of Christ, and in guiding the actions of bishops in a certain diocese, city or region.

In this Fourth Synod of the Diocese of Bridgeport, we can see the hand of the Holy Spirit leading us along the path that the Holy Father has pointed out for the Church as a whole. As the pope summed it up so well in his “Prayer to Mary, Star of the New Evangelization,” which we have been praying regularly at Sunday Masses at St. Joseph’s:

"Obtain for us now a new ardor born of the resurrection,
that we may bring to all the Gospel of life
which triumphs over death.
Give us a holy courage to seek new paths,
that the gift of unfading beauty
may reach every man and woman. . . .

Pray for the Church, whose pure icon you are,
that she may never be closed in on herself
or lose her passion for establishing God’s kingdom."

- (Pope Francis, "Evangelii Gaudium")

Diocesan Financial Statements
| October 08, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—The Diocese of Bridgeport has released its Combined Statements of Financial Position for December 31, 2013 and 2012.

“One of my first priorities is to provide a clear, transparent and comprehensive account of the finances of the Diocese,” said the Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano last year when he announced his plan to publish financials on a yearly basis.

Click to view the full audited report

Assumption School Teams up with Big Brothers and Big Sisters for a Clothing Drive
| October 08, 2014


FAIRFIELD—On Sunday, October 12 from 10 am-1 pm, the Service Club at Assumption Catholic School will be collecting clothes, shoes, linens and pocketbooks to donate to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Southwestern CT.

"We would love it if everyone can come and donate clothes they do not wear anymore and bring them on down for adults and children that need clothing." said Dylan Smith, an eighth grade student in the Service Club.
The students will be collecting the items in the school parking lot and working collaboratively with Big Brothers and Big Sisters towards a goal of 200 bags of clothing. For more details or questions, please call Karen Guastelle: 203.814.4894.

Assumption Catholic School Introduces New Technology
| October 08, 2014


FAIRFIELD—This September marks the 60th anniversary of Assumption Catholic School in Fairfield, and marks a pivotal point in their history with the introduction of Learn Pad tablets for the upper-middle school.

"Each teacher has been trained on the Learn Pads to use them to their optimal capacity in the classroom—really bringing learning to the 21st century" says Principal Gerrie Desio.

The introduction of this one-on-one computing is a fundamental change in the culture of teaching and learning at Assumption Catholic School. All of the students currently take computer science as one of their classes and utilize technology in many ways throughout their day, however, this is now taking it to the next level. The students will use the Learn Pads in each of their classes where it will be integrated into the curriculum.
This use of one-on-one computing will enhance their already strong STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) curriculum. Assumption Catholic School was recognized as model school  by the state of CT Invention Convention for our inventing/STEM program and a recipient of a School of Distinction plaque and has always had students get to the finals and win awards in the CT State Science Fair. The Learn Pads will also be used in the school’s math partnership with Sacred Heart University.
This is the first step in the school's plan to transform the entire school to one-on-one computing. "The introduction of these tablets was the natural next step for us in giving our students the tools and knowledge that they will need to be prepared for high school and college. As we celebrate our 60th anniversary, this is a perfect way to begin!" Principal Desio noted.  

Blessings on pets and owners
| October 08, 2014


NORWALK—Kittens, puppies and an assortment of pets joined the second graders at All Saints Catholic School for the Blessing of the Animals on October 6.

Father Sudir D’Souza, parochial vicar at St. Philip Parish, did the honors, blessing both the pets and their owners.

A time-honored Catholic observance, the Blessing of the Animals is held around the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4, a Saturday this year). St. Francis, known for his love of animals, is famous for establishing the traditional Nativity scene, which he brought to Assisi using live animals around the Christ Child’s manger.

Museum visit enriches studies
| October 08, 2014


NEW HAVEN—Kolbe Cathedral sophomores visited the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven and had an opportunity for a guided tour of the elaborately illustrated St. John's Bible manuscript.

The calligraphy and images chosen to accompany the text enhanced the students' study of Old Testament. Father Augsutine Nguyen and the religion department teachers attended with the students.

On sexual and medical ethics, synod fathers speak of 'graduality'
| October 07, 2014 • by By Francis X. Rocca, Catholic News Service


VATICAN—In their discussions of sexual and medical ethics, participants at the Synod of Bishops on the family are giving emphasis to the concept of "graduality," as a way of thinking about morality that allows for human imperfection without compromising ideals.

In an address to the assembly on its first working day, October 6, Cardinal Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, said that "Humanae Vitae," the 1968 encyclical by Pope Paul VI that reaffirmed the church's prohibition of artificial birth control, "needs to be considered in light of the law of graduality."

He suggested that it was unrealistic to expect immediate acceptance of the widely flouted teaching.

The cardinal quoted "Familiaris Consortio," a 1981 apostolic exhortation by St. John Paul II on the role of the Christian family in the world that was inspired by the last synod on the family in 1980. According to St. John Paul, each person is a historical being who "knows, loves and accomplishes moral good in stages of growth."

Several bishops referred to graduality in their remarks during an afternoon session dedicated to the theme of "God's plan for marriage and the family."

"Despite serious flaws that we always identify in Western culture, we also have to discern and to declare what the steppingstones are for Christian wisdom," one bishop said, according to Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, an assistant to the Holy See Press Office, who did not identify the bishop in accordance with synod rules.

Discussing the church's attitude toward "irregular" relationships, such as those of civilly married or cohabitating Catholic couples, another bishop drew an analogy with the Catholic understanding of other Christian churches. While the church is said to subsist fully only in the Catholic Church, other Christian communities are believed to possess important elements for sanctification.

By the same token, "there is a full and ideal vision of the Christian family, but there are absolutely valid and important elements even of sanctification and of true love that may be present even when one does not fully realize this ideal," the bishop said, as paraphrased by the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, who also spoke at the October 6 session, told reporters the next day that the "law of graduality" is a "law of pastoral moral theology which permits people, all of us, to take one step at a time in our search for holiness in our lives."

The cardinal, who attended the 1980 synod as a priest assisting a participating bishop, recalled that St. John Paul II had made an important point on the subject at the conclusion of the synod.

"He said, yes, there is a law of graduality, but it should not be confused with a graduality of the law," Cardinal Nichols said. "He was saying the vision, the teaching of the church is consistent and is offered to everybody. So it's not as if there's one law at this time in your life and another law later in your life, but there is a pathway on which we'll walk."

Another synod father, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany, told reporters October 6 that the idea of graduality could help the church develop a new way of speaking about sexuality.

"We cannot have always 100 percent, and I would say good and bad, that's not so easy to make the difference," the cardinal said in English. "There is a development, a way, in the biography or in a relationship and so on."

Cardinal Marx, chairman of the German bishops' conference, also said that the "great majority" of German bishops support German Cardinal Walter Kasper's controversial proposal to make it easier for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion, even if they have not obtained annulments of their first, sacramental marriages.

"I think it is very important to see that we have ways or that there is a graduality also in the way to the sacrament," Cardinal Marx said.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Deck Garden Harvest
| October 07, 2014


The nights have been getting pretty chilly lately.

In Wilton, where I reside, the temperatures have come close to freezing a few times, so it is time to begin winding down my deck garden and begin preparing for winter.

The first order of business are my three lemon trees. One is about 6 feet tall while the other two are each only about two feet tall. The two smaller ones underwent a couple of prunings this summer while I let the larger tree grow relatively unabated.

I grew my lemon trees from ordinary lemon seeds taken from a lemon, but after five years or so, none of them have produced any fruit. Even without flowers or fruit, they are interesting and attractive to look at, so even if they never produce lemons I plan to keep tending them.

Lemon trees do not respond well to freezing temperatures, so I will soon need to move them indoors. They prefer the warmer weather and direct light, but thus far they have been able to survive the winters positioned near my sliding glass doors. The exposure is north-easterly, so they could use more light in the winter months, but they usually make it to the spring in stable condition. One of the keys to their indoor health, I have found, is to keep them lightly watered. If their soil is a little dry during the winter months, that seems to suit them well.

The other things that I focused on growing this past summer were wildflowers and corn. If you are interested in seeing the progress of my garden from early spring through mid-summer to now, you can reference two of my earlier blog posts: “Deck Garden” (5/28/14) and “Divine Gardener” (7/8/2014).

The things that grew best of all this summer were my wildflowers. Until a few days ago, I thought that my four corn plants had been duds. Then I noticed that two of the corn stalks had grown one ear apiece. This morning, I harvested the two ears of corn and photographed them. Later, as small as they are, I plan to boil them and eat them (I’ll let you know how they taste!).

The wildflowers turned out to be gifts that just keep giving. As you will see from the pictures I took today, some flowers are in bloom and more buds seem set to burst forth.

Next summer, I plan to focus on my lemon trees and more wildflowers. As for the corn, I will buy what I need from the store.

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A reassessment of Pius XII
| October 07, 2014 • by By DEACON TOM DAVIS



“Pope Pius XII was the greatest hero of World War II. He saved more Jews than Roosevelt, Churchill and all the rest of them combined.”

That is the assessment of Gary Krupp, founder and president of Pave the Way Foundation, an organization dedicated to inter-religious dialogue, harmony, and tolerance Krupp will present the ground breaking research of Pave the Way Foundation at the 2014 Pope John Paul II Bioethics Lecture on November 13 at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, CT.

“Believe me” says Krupp, “I never dreamed I would be defending a man who, when I was growing up, we believed he was a Nazi sympathizer.”

The controversy surrounding the war time record of Pius XII is one of the great injustices of the 20th Century. The controversy was advanced in the 1963 play “The Deputy” by Rolf Hochhuth, which portrayed Pope Pius XII as having failed to take action or speak out against the Holocaust.

Krupp is uniquely qualified to address the issue. His organization has done much to further affectionate relations between Jews and Catholics, people who share faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and who increasingly do share the bonds of friendship.

Through those and other efforts Krupp and Pave the Way Foundation have raised new awareness of the heroic efforts of the great Pope Pacelli in the face of Hitler and Mussolini’s racially psychopathic Fascism.

In September, 2013 Krupp was interviewed by First Things, the renowned journal of religion, culture and politics. He described the current the state of the historical datum concerning Pius XII: “The debate is over. Those who attack Pius XII still do not have a shred of documented evidence to support their claims. ... Every charge against Pius XII can be proven wrong. ... I once showed a simple PowerPoint presentation of the documents we discovered to seventy students at Yeshiva University. All of the attendees said there was no question that Pope Pius XII was a hero of the Jewish people, when many of the other religious and political leaders of the time did literally nothing.”

But what accounts for the enduring, if unjust, negative assessment of some concerning Pius? Krupp points out the incongruity between such judgments and the near universal praise from Jews after the war, including Albert Einstein, Israeli Prime Minster Golda Meir, and the World Jewish Congress.

He identifies Hochhuth’s play as a turning point. The play and its wide promotion distorted public opinion and drove an unjust narrative that lingers to this day—one that amounts to the greatest character assignation of the 20th Century.

As examples of Pius’ actions on behalf of Jews, Krupp points to a secret “underground railroad,” directly ordered by the Pope, sending more than 10,000 Jews to the U.S. via the Dominican Republic. Since many countries would not accept Jews, Pius directed that they were to be given false baptismal papers to travel as Catholics. Pius also successfully stopped the deportation of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews and ordered the lifting of cloister for men and women to enter monasteries, convents and churches to hide 7,000 Jews of Rome in a single day, all with German rifles posted 200 yards beneath his windows.

The focus on Pope Pius XII for the annual bioethics lecture at Holy Apostles College & Seminary grows out of several allocutions delivered by Pius in the 1950s on medical-moral topics and which stand as the modern foundation of Catholic bioethical teaching. His effort on behalf of persecuted European Jewry during the dark night of Nazi atrocities witnessed to the highest priority Christian bioethics— the defense of human life.

In addition to the presentation by Krupp, the 2014 Bioethics Lecture will feature a concert performance by Asteria, (Sylvia Rhyne, soprano, and Eric Redlinger, tenor and lute), which brings to life the exquisite love songs of medieval Burgundy through intimate interpretations based on extensive archival research in to original sources in Paris, The Hague, and Basel, Switzerland.

The concert and lecture/presentation is free of charge and open to the public. Asteria’s performance will begin at 6 pm followed by Gary Krupp’s presentation at 7 pm. A reception will follow.

(Deacon Tom Davis is associate director of the Pope John Paul II Bioethics Center. For more info on the 2014 Pope St. John Paul Bioethics Lecture and Concert, contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)                

Life Chain proves a strong Link in Danbury!
| October 06, 2014


DANBURY—Sunday, October 5 was a beautiful day in Connecticut, a perfect day for a pro-life rally!









































































Joining with other pro-life witnesses across the nation, about 50 people gathered on Main Street in Danbury to advocate for the protection of innocent life in the womb. They were part of a national effort called “Life Chain,” which seeks to link people in prayer from coast to coast on the first Sunday each October, which is Respect Life Month.

The first Life Chain was held in California in 1987 and linked two neighboring towns in prayer for life. In 2013, Life Chains were held in 1,890 locations.

The founders of Life Chain call it “a serious first step to pro-life activism.” Participants stand publicly for one hour while holding a pro-life sign (provided by Life Chain) and praying for an end to abortion. During the Life Chain hour, participants try to avoid idle chatter, frivolity, and both verbal and physical responses to motorists. Life Chain is a time of prayerful self-analysis, repentance and serious commitment to helping end abortion in our nation.

When we consider that the Diocese of Bridgeport has over 80 parishes throughout Fairfield County, the turnout for the event was disappointing. Nonetheless, the Life Chain hour was effective. Traffic on Danbury’s Main Street was quite heavy, and passing motorists could not help but see the Life Chain participants lining both sides of Main Street with their signs in hand, praying aloud and singing songs. Some motorists beeped and waved in support.
For much of the hour, participants prayed the Rosary together and then the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Lyrics to religious and patriotic songs were included on the back of each sign, and participants made an effort to sing in unison.

Perhaps we can rally as a diocese next year to make Life Chain a truly powerful event in Fairfield County. Ideally, each town should have its own chain. This would be a great event for youth groups to organize. Giving an hour or so of one’s time to give witness to life on a Sunday in October is a commitment many people might be willing to make.

Parishes with pro-life coordinators should begin planning now to help make the next Life Chain a greater success in Connecticut. Priests, religious and parishioners interested in finding out more about Life Chain can contact Maureen Ciardiello, diocesan director of Respect Life Ministry, at 203.416.1445 or by email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The national Life Chain organizers also have a great web site at Become a link in the Life Chain!

Magnificat hosts Bishop Caggiano
| October 04, 2014


DANBURY—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the guest speaker at a Magnificat Women’s Breakfast on October 18 from 9:30 am-12:30 pm at the Ethan Allen Inn, Danbury.

Magnificat, a nationwide ministry to Catholic women, has a twofold purpose. “It’s an evangelizing group,” says Fran Hood, coordinator of the Triumphant Heart of Mary Immaculate, the diocesan chapter.

“We want to welcome women who have walked away from the Church, for whatever reason, and to help all women be more open to the Holy Spirit through a deeper commitment of their lives to Jesus.”

Magnificat carries out its mission through women’s breakfasts, usually held twice a year in different locations throughout the diocese. Along with conversation, prayer and music, the centerpiece of each breakfast is a personal testimony, usually from a local woman, of the way God has worked in her life.

“Primarily these are before-and-after testimonies—where they were, what happened to change their life, and where they are today,” says Hood. “It has great appeal to those women who may be struggling with faith or who have lost touch with the Church.”

Hood will give her own personal testimony at the upcoming Magnificat breakfast in addition to the bishop’s talk. “We want him to get a sense of who we are, and how a meeting would be held under ordinary circumstances,” she explains.

After the meal, there will be a time of prayer for the needs of all present. Women can come up to request individual prayer with Father Lawrence Carew, Magnificat’s spiritual advisor, and members of the prayer team.

(The cost of the prayer breakfast is $25. Registration needed by Saturday September 27. No tickets will be sold at the door. For more info, call Fran Hood: 203.744.1856 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

Students Meet Mayor Bill Finch
| October 04, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Cathedral Academy 8th graders were visited by Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and Bridgeport City Council President Tom McCarthy, who spoke with the students about the importance of being involved in government, as well as issues that related to the students.

Cathedral Academy is thankful to Mayor Finch and Councilman McCarthy for taking the time out of their incredibly busy schedules to stop by!

Cathedral Academy Principal For A Day – Elijah Trotman wins high marks on the job!
| October 01, 2014 • by By Natasha Rivers


BRIDGEPORT—Elijah Trotman, member of Cathedral Academy’s Class of 2015, Grade 8A, was chosen to be Cathedral Academy Upper School’s first “Principal For A Day”.














































Cathedral Academy Principal Mr. Larry DiPalma said he was impressed by Elijah’s approach to the job.

"Mr. Trotman brought enthusiasm, leadership skills, a principal presence, and a "distinctive style" to his role as Principal of the Day.  What a legacy he has established for future Cathedral Academy Principals of the Day!” Mr. DiPlama said.

In order to get the top job for the day, Elijah submitted an application in which he answered  the following:
•    Indicate the reasons why you want to be “Mr. D. for a Day”
•    How would you address the teachers at our 7:00 morning meeting?
•    During daily announcements, how would you address the students concerning your expectations for them?

His duties for the day included addressing the faculty at their morning meeting, leading the student body in prayers, monitoring the cafeteria, addressing discipline and bus issues that arose, and helping to conduct the 8th grade parent meeting at night.

Looking professional in his white collared shirt, dress pants and tie, Elijah conducted himself with leadership and maturity, impressing both students and faculty/staff.

Catherine Rubano, 7th grade teacher, said “I always knew he had it in him, and I am proud”. Anne-Marie Donnelly, 8th grade teacher remarked, “I felt Elijah was very professional. He took his responsibility seriously. I was amazed at how much respect the students gave him.”

Anna-Marie Altieri, 5th grade teacher, was equally impressed, stating,” Elijah was an ideal role model, one that children aspire to be like. He showed maturity and intellect during his appointment.”

When asked about his day, Elijah said, “It was fun, but tiring!” He also remarked, “I noticed when I went into the classrooms that the teachers work very hard!”

Cathedral Academy includes the upper school (Grades 4-8) at the St. Augustine campus, 30 Pequonnock Street, and the lower school (pre-K through grade 3) campus at nearby St. Raphael campus, 324 Frank Street in Bridgeport. It is part of Catholic Academies of Bridgeport, which include St. Ann Academy in Black Rock and St. Andrew Academy in the North End of Bridgeport.  

(For information call 203.416.1376. Or visit the Cathedral Academy website at

October is Respect Life Month!
| October 01, 2014


DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT—Join in the pro-life activities planned throughout the diocese during this Respect Life Month!


































Pope Francis has inspired the theme for this month with his quotation: "Each of us is a masterpiece of God’s creation."

Pro-Life Activities during Respect Life Month:

September 24 – November 2: 40 Days for Life

At 5:30 pm, on September 24, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano gave public witness to his support for life by helping to launch the 2014 “40 Days for Life” in the Diocese of Bridgeport. Standing outside the Summit Women’s Center at 3787 Main Street, Bridgeport, the bishop joined a large crowd of pro-life supporters and led them in praying the rosary for the protection of innocent life in the womb.

Maureen Ciardiello, diocesan director of Respect Life Ministry, said that “Bishop Caggiano is very supportive of Respect Life issues.” When he joined with other pro-life witnesses to pray the rosary on the first day of 40 Days for Life, “People really appreciated his presence and his public support for life,” she added.

40 Days for Life is a community-based pro-life effort that takes a determined, peaceful approach to illustrating the consequences of abortion. It draws attention to the evil of abortion through three focused activities:

•    Prayer and fasting
•    Constant vigil
•    Community outreach

Prayer is at the center of 40 Days for Life. Pray outside an abortion facility. Pray at church. Pray at work. Pray in the car. Pray at home with your family.

Jesus has explained that some demons can only be driven out by prayer and fasting. The two go hand in hand. Fasting is a sacrifice that, with God’s help, allows us to reach beyond our own limitations. A fast is not a Christian diet; it is a powerful means of drawing closer to God by blocking out distractions. Fast from certain foods. Fast from television. Fast from apathy and indifference. Fast from whatever it is that separates you from God.

Each day during 40 Days for Life, individuals, churches, families and groups will be asked to join together in prayer for a specific request including:

•    Women who are at risk of having an abortion
•    Innocent children who are at risk of perishing
•    Men and women who carry the pain of a past abortion experience
•    Workers at Planned Parenthood facilities and abortion centers
•    Local, regional, and national leaders
•    Revival and renewal in our churches
•    Repentance and healing throughout our nation

For more information, please visit, or contact Christine Murphy at 203-438-4866 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

October 5: Life Chain

Come be a link in our Chain!  Join us on Sunday, October 5, 2014 from 2:30 pm-3:30 pm in Danbury.  Participants will gather at the corner of Main and West Streets (across from the Public Library). Life Chain is a peaceful, prayerful public witness of pro-life Americans standing in honor of 54 million lives lost to abortion, praying for our nation, for people in crisis situations and for an end to abortion. It is a visual statement of solidarity by the Christian community that abortion kills children and that the Church supports the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death. For information or questions, contact Deirdre Condon at 203.438-6123.

October 12: Respect Life Mass

Sunday, October 12, 2014 @ 10:30 am
St. Mark Parish
500 Wigwam Lane

Bishop Caggiano will be the principal celebrant and homilist at this annual pro-life Mass which is celebrated during Respect Life month to help bring greater awareness to all aspects of Respect Life. The theme for this year’s respect Life month is inspired by a quote from Pope Francis: “Each of us is a masterpiece of God’s creation.”

October 18: Morning of Prayerful Remembrance and Intercession Service

A beautiful service for all who are seeking healing from abortion

Saturday, October 18, 2014
10:00 am-1:00 pm
St. Mary Parish
55 Catoonah St.
Ridgefield, CT

“Our Morning of Prayerful Remembrance and Intercession is a beautiful service for all who are seeking healing from abortion,” says Maureen Ciardiello, director of the Respect Life Ministry for the Diocese of Bridgeport. “It is not focused only on women who have had an abortion but includes parents, grandparents, siblings, health care providers and all those who have been impacted by abortion.”

The Service is sponsored by the Respect Life Ministry and Lumina/Hope & Healing After Abortion.  

“We’re all impacted by abortion, says Theresa Bonopartis, who developed the Remembrance Service. “This service focuses on God’s mercy, his love and his forgiveness.”

Bonapartis is the director of Lumina, which offers healing retreats for women, men, siblings and those who suffer the effects of abortion. In addition, Lumina provides training for clergy members and mental health professionals in post abortion stress. Bonopartis has directed a number of healing retreats at Villa Maria Guadalupe, the retreat center of the Sisters of Life in Stamford.

During the service at St. Mary’s, volunteers from area parishes will read testimonies from those who have been impacted by abortion. “It’s not just the moms,” stresses Bonapartis. “Often these will be from parents who feel they didn’t offer their daughter enough support in her time of crisis, or a counselor who directed a girl to an abortion center. Sometimes they are testimonies from siblings who have learned that a brother or sister was aborted. These are the hidden wounds of abortion; their testimonies speak to the heart.”

The service will include Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, and intercessory prayer. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available for those who seek its healing comfort.

(For more info, contact the Respect Life Ministry: 203.416.1445 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address); or Lumina: 877.586.4621 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Bishop films Padre Pio video
| September 30, 2014


Bishop Caggiano might have felt like a celebrity when he pulled into the parking lot at St. Margaret Shrine and walked to the “set” where he was scheduled to film a short promotional video for the Saint Pio Foundation. Diocesan director of communications, Brian Wallace, was on hand to greet the bishop and make sure the film crew was ready.

Bishop Caggiano on “the set” at St. Margaret Shrine.

The Padre Pio monument is a newer section at St. Margaret Shrine,
replete with beautiful landscaping and stonework.

To protect it from the weather, the Padre Pio statue at the shrine
is encased in glass.

Bishop Caggiano has a strong devotion to St. Michael the Archangel,
who is represented by a beautiful statue at St. Margaret’s Shrine.
September 29 is the Feast of the Archangels and I visited the shrine
to pray the Joyful Mysteries, which includes The Annunciation
and the Archangel Gabriel.

You don’t have to tell me twice that there is a miraculous spring
on the grounds!

Soon it was “lights, camera, action!” The bishop spoke for a few minutes about the foundation – and it was a take. After having his picture taken with the film crew and speaking with a few well-wishers who had watched the proceedings, the bishop was once again on his way.

It was a fitting day to visit the monument to Padre Pio at St. Margaret’s Shrine, as September 23 is Padre Pio’s feast day.

The film crew was from the Fairfield University Media Center, led by director Casey Timmeny and producers Steven Minnick and Bridget Dalen. The video that they produced can be seen by clicking on the following link:

Bishop Caggiano accepted an invitation to serve on the Episcopal Advisory Board of the Saint Pio Foundation, and the video he made was an effort to promote awareness of the foundation and its work.

The Saint Pio Foundation is a non-profit charity organization dedicated to evangelization through the promotion of the spiritual charism of St. Pio of Pietrelcina. An important goal of the foundation is to commit 10% of its distributed funds to the hospital “Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza” in San Giovanni Rotondo, founded by Saint Pio in 1956 and currently owned by the Holy See.

For more information about Padre Pio and the foundation, please go to


Transcript of Bishop Caggiano’s Padre Pio video:

My friends, I am delighted to stand before you, in support of the Saint Pio Foundation. I am standing here at St. Margaret Shrine, in the city of Bridgeport.

Here at the shrine there are multiple shrines that have been created in honor of the various patronal saints to which the people of this great diocese are devoted.

Of course, Padre Pio himself holds a privileged place here. And I come to you on the twenty-third of September, which is Padre Pio’s feast day.

I am privileged to be a member of the Saint Pio Foundation religious advisory committee, and I ask you to consider supporting their wonderful mission.

At the heart of the foundation is the desire to advance the charism of Padre Pio through cultural, religious and educational programs. And as you know, as a saint of our own time, a man dedicated to penance, to the forgiveness of sins, to preaching fearlessly the truth about who Jesus Christ the Lord really is, Padre Pio was also a man devoted to great charity. He attended to the needs of the poor, especially the sick, founding one of the largest hospitals in the western world in Pietrelcina.

Through the money that it collects, the foundation will reach out to the poor to provide medical services for them in the spirit of this great saint, this humble friar, affectionately known as Padre Pio.

So I ask for your prayers for the foundation and I ask for your support. Together let us pray that Padre Pio will lead our Church and you and I into an era of greater renewal and spiritual vitality in honor of Jesus Christ the Lord. May God Bless you. Amen.

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Matters of faith and family dominate Spanish-speaking consultation session
| September 30, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Family issues, including the need for the Diocese of Bridgeport to offer programs that support families in living the faith, were prominent at last weekend’s consultation with the Hispanic community.

In a whirlwind weekend, Bishop Caggiano also met with youth and Deacons to brief them on the work of Synod 2014 and to enlist their thoughts and concerns as the diocese plans for the future.

In a consultation session that was held largely in Spanish with some comments made in English, about 140 people of all ages gathered at St. Peter Parish in Bridgeport to discuss concerns specific to Spanish-speaking Catholics in the Diocese.

“On the whole, reaction to the synod was very positive,” said Fr. Gustavo Falla, Vicar for Spanish speaking people in the diocese. “I thought that the concerns people brought to the Hispanic Consultation Session were applicable not only to Hispanics; they were applicable to the concerns and needs of people throughout the diocese.”

Speakers came forward with questions on marriage preparation, many expressing a desire for deeper preparation before marriage but also for support and enrichment programs for married couples, said Fr. Falla who moderated the session.

As at other sessions throughout the diocese, the low attendance of youth at Mass was a concern to the Spanish community. “There is a lot of peer pressure in public schools,” Fr. Falla notes. “It’s not cool to be spiritual.”

Parents also pointed out that most Hispanic youth have to work, usually in lower paying jobs that often include night and weekend hours, making it difficult to attend Mass.

Speakers also called for diocesan parishes and organizations to work more closely together. “Why do we have such a difference between one parish and another?” was a frequently asked question.

The October issue of Fairfield County Catholic will offer more information on the Hispanic Community consultation along with the sessions held by Deacons and youth.

Consultation Sessions will also be held after the second and third General Sessions. The second General Session for delegates is set for Saturday November 15, 8-3 at St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull, while the third will convene on Saturday February 7, 2015.

Bishop Caggiano officially convoked the 4th Diocesan Synod with an announcement in his February 22 letter that issued a challenge to all Catholics to help plan for the future of the diocese.
“Each generation and every age has faced its own difficulties; yet the gift of faith that has been placed into our heart by God always remains and must be passed into future generations,” he wrote.
For reports on the listening sessions and other information, visit the synod website:<./p>

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Pope: Greed, throwaway culture fuel 'hidden euthanasia' of elderly
| September 29, 2014 • by By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis warned against the abandonment and neglect of the elderly, calling it a "hidden euthanasia" rooted in today's "poisonous" culture of disposal and an economic system of greed.

Pope Francis greets emeritus Pope Benedict XVI during an encounter for the elderly in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 28. (CNS/Paul Haring)

In the presence of his predecessor, Pope Francis also thanked retired Pope Benedict XVI for staying to live at the Vatican and being like "a wise grandfather at home."

"A people who don't take care of their grandparents and don't treat them well is a people with no future. Why no future? Because they lose the memory (of the past) and they sever their own roots," he said.

The pope's comments came during a special encounter and Mass for older people in St. Peter's Square September 28. Some 40,000 grandparents, retired men and women, and their families attended "The Blessing for a Long Life" event, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Pope Francis specifically invited Pope Benedict to attend the event, making it the third time since his retirement in 2013 that the German pontiff has made a rare appearance in public with his successor.

Carrying a cane and looking strong, the 87-year-old pope arrived about one hour into the event, which featured music and testimonies from families. About 10 minutes later, while the famed Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli sang "Con te partiro" ("I'll Go With You"), Pope Francis made his entrance with a small group of families. He immediately went to greet and embrace Pope Benedict, who only stayed for the next hour, leaving before the start of Mass.

Addressing him as "Your Holiness," Pope Francis thanked the retired pontiff for his presence, telling the crowd, "I really like having him living here in the Vatican, because it's like having a wise grandfather at home."

The wisdom and love of older people are instrumental for building the future, and they can even cheer up grumpy teenagers, the pope said.

"It's very good for you to go visit an older person. Look at our kids. Sometimes we see them being listless and sad; (if) they go visit an older person, they become happy," he said.

"Older people, grandparents have an ability to understand very difficult situations, a great talent. And when they pray about these situations, their prayers are strong and powerful."

But there are many who instead prey on their fragilities, and the pope warned against the "inhuman" violence being waged against the elderly and children in areas of conflict.

Harm can also be waged quietly, he said, through many forms of neglect and abandonment, which "are a real and true hidden euthanasia."

People need to fight against "this poisonous throwaway culture," which targets children, young people and the elderly, on "the pretext of keeping the economic system 'balanced,' where the focus is not on the human being but on the god of money."

While residential care facilities are important for those who don't have a family who can care for them, it's important these institutes be "truly like homes, not prisons," the pope said, and that their placement there is in the best interest of the older person, "not someone else."

These retirement homes should be like "sanctuaries" that breathe life into a community whose members are drawn to visit and look after the residents like they would an older sibling, he said.

The pope also thanked an older couple from Qaraqosh, near Mosul, Iraq, for their presence and urged people to continue to pray and offer concrete aid to those forced to flee from such "violent persecution."

Married for 51 years with 10 children and 12 grandchildren, Mubarak and Aneesa Hano said they were chased out of their Iraqi town by Islamic State militants.

"The cities are empty, homes destroyed, families scattered, the elderly abandoned, young people desperate, grandchildren cry and lives are destroyed from the terror of the shouts of war," Hano said.

He said he hoped the world would finally learn that "war truly is insanity."

Hano told the pope that, for 2,000 years, the bells tolled in their parish churches until the militants invaded the northern Iraqi plain and replaced the crosses on top of their places of worship with black flags. Because the bells no longer ring in these abandoned villages, the bells of St. Peter's Basilica tolled instead at the end of Hano's testimony.

Pope Francis then concelebrated Mass with 100 elderly priests from around the world.


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Red Mass Breakfast takes closer look at contraception mandate
| September 28, 2014


FAIRFIELD—“The challenge is not only to practice law with integrity and resolutely, but I ask you to consider the gift of humility as a cornerstone of your ministry and your vocation in administering the law,” Bishop Frank CaggIiano said to more than 200 legal professionals who attended the Read Mass this morning in the Egan Chapel of Fairfield University.

Referring to attorneys several times during his homily as “custodians of the law and guardians of the common good,” Bishop Caggiano said “It’s not easy to administer the law at a time when people wonder what the common good is in a diverse and secular society.”

Reflecting on a reading from Philippians , the Bishop said that adopting humility is important for professionals and all people who have been blessed with talents and gifts that come from God.

“Humility is all about living fully in the truth,” he said urging those in attendance to recognize that all people are sinners” who are invited to lay their failings and shortcoming before the altar.

At the Red Mass Breakfast that followed in the University Oak Room, Attorney Noel J. Francisco, Jones Day partner and head of the Government Regulations Practice Group, discussed that status of legal opposition to the birth control mandate included in the Affordable Care Act.

He said that his law firm is pursuing 16 different suits involving 73 organizations across the United States in association with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop (USCCB). He said that Jones Day took on the cases because the Birth Control Mandate is a clear violation of religious freedom and there is a need to protect the “minority view” even if it is unpopular.

Recognizing that even among Catholics there are different views on the use of birth control, attorney Francisco said the litigations is “about religious liberty and larger legal issues,” not about birth control.

He said the mandate represents “a complete misunderstanding of the church,” essentially defining it as “a religious wing and social wing,” when it decided that the Church is exempt from the mandate but groups like Catholic Charities and Catholic hospitals must apply for an exemption.

“Insurance coverage for birth control is still written into the plan in invisible ink,” he told the gathering, noting that no accommodations are acceptable to the Church because they ask others to do something immoral on our behalf.

“Can you force Catholic organizations to undertake conduct that is abhorrent to their beliefs?” he asked adding that the First Amendment is intended as “a bulwark” against this kind of intrusion.

Attorney Francisco said the contraception mandate uses churches for “administrative convenience” when there are many other ways in which government could easily provide contraception to those who cannot afford it. He added that “the Administration is hostile to the minority view of the situation and is clearly out to break the back of religious hold-outs.”

In a question and answer session that followed, Attorney Francisco said that he expects many cases to work their way to the Supreme Court over the coming year because the issue is ultimately about religious liberty.

He said that religious freedom is ultimately not simply about the “freedom to worship, but the exercise of religion, which is up to the adherents to define,” not the government. He said that in every case, the law suits that have been brought forward are not just about “faith as the four walls of a church,” but the exercise of faith beyond that in the larger society.

Attorney Francisco was introduced by Anne McCrory, Chief Legal and Real Estate Officer of the Diocese of Bridgeport. He represents companies and individuals in civil and criminal litigation involving federal and state governments, including lawsuits against governments, enforcement actions by governments, and congressional investigations. He has been working most recently as a part of the team of litigators at Jones Day who have been providing pro bono support for those entities claiming that the HHS contraceptive mandate presents a violation of the religious freedom.

The National Law Journal recently named Francisco as one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America.”

Francisco has testified before the House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law on separation of powers, and administration law reform issues.


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Bombing Islamic State is fueling the violence
| September 26, 2014 • by By Tony Magliano


Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano

We need to do something!
With the barbaric Islamic State now controlling large portions of Iraq and Syria, and inflicting rape, torture and even beheading on those who do not conform to their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, it is imperative that they must be stopped.

So yes, we need to do something. But that “something” is not more violence and war. Answering violence and war, with more violence and war, is always part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Shortly after the start of the first Gulf War in 1991, St. Pope John Paul II wrote: “No, never again, war, which destroys the lives of innocent people, teaches how to kill, throws into upheaval even the lives of those who do the killing and leaves behind a trail of resentment and hatred, thus making it all the more difficult to find a just solution to the very problems which provoked the war.”

There is a collective amnesia that continues to block government and society’s memory that we have been there, and done that, many times before. Therefore, the war machine keeps rolling on with the encouragement of hawkish politicians, pundits and the military-industrial-complex.

During a “Democracy Now” interview with Rami Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, Khouri said the major problems that lead to the formation and growth of militant Islamic groups like the Islamic State, are brutal dictators – often backed by the United States – who rule much of the Arab-Islamic world, and a foreign military presence like the U.S. in Muslim majority countries.

Khouri said American led military action in the Islamic world is the best recruiting tool for al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

And it stands to reason. Imagine how most people would react—including many Christians—to a foreign power bombing and killing their loved ones.
So, what would be a Gospel-based way of responding to this violent crisis?
The Gospel calls us to mount an active response to suffering based on love and nonviolence.
This means no bombs, no drones, no missiles.  

The U.S. and other arms supplying nations need to stop flooding the Middle East (and world) with weapons. A total multilateral arms embargo is needed.
And the diplomatic tool must be vigorously pursued.

Yes, negotiations with the Islamic State are highly unlikely. But negotiating just settlements to the grievances of hurting populations in Iraq and Syria will dry up support for the Islamic State and other militant groups.
The U.S. and other wealthy nations need to provide adequate resources for the quick evacuation of Christians and other minorities who are in harm’s way.

And funds and supplies need to be massively increased to assist nations—like Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey—that are being overwhelmed by Iraqi and Syrian refugees.
Finally, the U.S. and other industrial nations need to do their fair share in offering emergency asylum to these poor, frightened refugees.
Please email and call (Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121) your two U.S. senators and representative, and President Obama (202-456-1111) urging them to stop the bombing and start the nonviolent actions mentioned above.
It would do us all well to seriously reflect on the words of Pope Francis: “War is never a necessity, nor is it inevitable. Another way can always be found: the way of dialogue, encounter and the sincere search for truth.”
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.

Weather or not
| September 26, 2014


SHELTON—News Channel 8 meteorologist Sam Kantrow visited St. Joseph School in Shelton, along with WTNH executive producer of weather Kevin Arnone.

Kantrow explained what some of the instruments on top of the Mobile Weather Lab were for as well as their names, and asked questions of the students about what some of the other instruments might do and why they were important.

He talked about what a meteorologist does, pointed out different types of clouds andexplained the formation of natural disasters. He also showed the kids the satellite and radar located in the back of the Mobile Weather Lab.

Focus is on New Covenant House of Hospitality
| September 26, 2014


STAMFORD—New Covenant House of Hospitality, the Stamford soup kitchen and support center sponsored by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Bridgeport, was featured at the Social Justice Committee’s Dinner with a Cause held in Stamford on Thursday, September 18.

Brian Jenkins, who has served as NCH executive director since 2006 and has since been named director of Merton Center in Bridgeport, shared his own compelling story of a roller coaster ride from middle class upbringing to early marriage, a child, divorce, the early death of his mother… and the slide into alcohol, cocaine addiction, bankruptcy and homelessness. His slow creep back to normalcy began in a soup kitchen, at the Thomas Merton Center, where a meal led to conversation, counseling, a 30 day treatment period, prayer and recovery. Back to college, on to a Masters degree, and just a few weeks ago, Brian Jenkins received his PhD.

New Covenant House provides primarily food for the body. The soup kitchen offers two hot meals Monday thru Saturday and breakfast bags to 100-150 people daily. On Sundays it offers one meal at lunch and breakfast bags. The Sunday ministry is the one which many of St. Catherine’s parishioners support under the direction of Kathy DiGiovanna who organizes the teams.

Further, NCH has a Food Pantry, which supplements the food for 250-300 working poor families monthly. It also has an after school hot meal program for about 250 children daily.

Recently NCH announced plans for a capital campaign to support its move to a new location at 174 Richmond Hill Avenue in Stamford.

“We want to do more than address the next meal, it’s also important to work on the core problem of poverty,” said Paul Harinstein, Chairman of the NCH Advisory Board. “At NCH the objective is to create an environment that will help people solve some of the problems associated with poverty. We encourage people to come in when they suspect they may be late with their rent, instead of waiting until it’s too late to come for help, and we hope to bring in life coaches to develop relationships with the guests so as to help them solve their problems.  These objectives will be part of the new site under renovation. It is expected to be ready by next spring. The space will be tripled. It will include a “restaurant-style bistro”, a food pantry more like a grocery store, mail service, showers, etc.

NCH has a need for volunteers at many levels. It needs funds to complete the construction; volunteers to pick up and deliver food from “Community Plates” and other supporting businesses; volunteers to serve the meals, etc.

If you are interested in volunteer work at NCH see

Sisters of Life Volunteer Day
| September 24, 2014


STAMFORD—St. John's Flock (Catholic Young Adult Group at the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist) spent an energetic day at the Villa Maria Guadalupe in north Stamford.

In the morning, they planted flowers and did landscaping work for the Sisters. The work shifted focus after lunch as they helped prepare the Villa for an upcoming retreat.

The group had a great turnout, with young adults coming from the Stamford/Greenwich area as well as Danbury, New Canaan, Trumbull, and as far away as Long Island. Emilio Funicella, a parishioner at St. John's (in the orange shirt) who does all kinds of work for religious orders in the area, was the primary organizer. The group is hoping to do some more work for the Sisters and for some of the other religious orders in the next few months.
If you join the Flock Facebook group, you can see the rest of these these (and some other) pictures as well!
Also, another event coming up: Catholic Underground CT will be having a dance with a holy hour, swing and salsa lessons, and general fellowship on November 15. It's a great group! Here's the official description (from
Grab your friends and come to the semi-formal (ladies, think cocktail dress, suit and tie for the guys) Catholic Underground CT Second Annual Fall Ball! Swing and salsa dancing! Swing and Salsa lessons and demonstrations throughout the night! Come for the Holy Hour, stay for the dancing!
Where: Holy Apostle Seminary, Cromwell CT
When: Saturday November 15th, Holy Hour at 7:00 pm, the dancing will start at 8:00.
Suggested donation: $10 or $5 plus a baked good/appetizer. Contest for the best appetizer/dessert!

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Bishop Caggiano’s Coat of Arms
| September 23, 2014


When I attended the September 19, 2014, Vespers service to mark the opening of the synod, I was struck by the beauty of the bishop’s coat of arms, which comprised the entire cover of the program on a white background with a red border. The coat of arms in brilliant green, gold, red and blue spoke boldly, but I am not well-versed in the art of heraldry (coat of arms symbolism and artwork), so I could not decipher much of what was being symbolically proclaimed. Thankfully, the bishop’s motto was in the vernacular, so I clearly understood “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Yes, if his motto was in Latin, I may not have been able to immediately comprehend it.

Heraldry has never much interested me, but now that I have a blog to write, I am always looking for items to write about. Because someone – perhaps a team of persons including the bishop – put so much time and effort into designing and producing such a beautiful coat of arms, I believe that I should share with others what I have since learned about this heraldic achievement.

The principal color in Bishop Caggiano’s coat of arms is red, signifying the blood of martyrdom. The use of gold signifies the glory of the Resurrection. The use of blue represents our Blessed Mother, to whom Bishop Caggiano has a deep devotion.

The crescent moon is an ancient symbol of the Mother of God, included in the Book of Revelation. The moon is a fitting symbol of Mary because it has no light of its own but only reflects the light given to it by the sun. Mary receives her glory as a reflection of the glory of her Son.

The Lamb of God (Agnus Dei) image is known in Catholic heraldry as the Paschal Lamb. It represents Jesus Christ, and this image is portrayed supporting the Book of Sacred Scripture and a staff bearing a banner ensigned with the Chi Rho, the proper monogram for Jesus in Catholic heraldry.

The winged sword represents Saint Michael the Archangel, a particularly important devotion of Bishop Caggiano. The sword is depicted with the blade downward which represents peace that comes after victory.

The Bridgeport diocesan arms appear to the left, as one views the coat of arms, and Bishop Caggiano’s personal arms appear to the right. The diocesan arms literally depicts a “bridge” over wavy, flowing waters with the light of Christ depicted by a Cross. The three arches of the bridge represent the three dioceses of Connecticut, united in one construction. The bridge is an ancient symbol of the Church and, in fact, the word pontiff means “bridge builder.”

In Church heraldry, a motto has always been intended to represent a bishop’s personal spirituality and theologically based philosophy of life. The motto is most frequently grounded in Sacred Scripture. With his motto, “Jesus Christ is Lord,” Bishop Caggiano has embarked on his ministerial journey in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

There are external elements to every coat of arms design that also must be explained. Surmounting Bishop Caggiano’s shield is a pilgrim’s hat in deep forest green. Six tassels suspended on either side of the hat in a pyramidal style represent his rank as bishop. The interior of the hat is always rendered in red, representing the possibility of dying for the faith (i.e. martyrdom).

Behind Bishop Caggiano’s coat of arms is found the episcopal cross. The red circle in the center of the Cross refers both to his former Diocese of Brooklyn and his new home in Connecticut.

Bishop Caggiano’s coat of arms remains faithful to the style of Church heraldry originally developed in the Middle Ages. It was designed by renowned heraldist James-Charles Noonan, Jr. and expertly painted by Linda Nicholson.

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Synod First General Session: A time for asking tough questions
| September 20, 2014


TRUMBULL—The first General Session of Synod 2014 came to a close this afternoon after seven hours of tightly formatted presentations and discussions about the challenges and opportunities facing the Catholic church in Fairfield County.

Almost 400 delegates, observers, and invited experts filled the St. Catherine of Siena Parish Hall in the Nichols section of Trumbull to absorb study committee reports built around the four major themes of the Synod: empower the young church, build up communities of faith foster evangelical outreach, promote works of charity and justice.

Bishop Caggiano set the tone for the day when he told delegates, “This is a day of all questions and no answers. We need to saturate ourselves in the data and suspend judgment about solutions.” In the comments made by many of the delegates who came to the microphone during the four discussion periods, it was clear that the spirit of Pope Francis hovered over the day in the optimism over his Papacy’s ability to inspire Catholics to look at the faith through new eyes.

Many delegates referenced the Holy Father’s emphasis on mercy and inclusion, and said that while they wanted a Church steeped in the truth of Catholic teaching, they also wanted a welcoming Church that does not judge others and reaches out with compassion.

Likewise speakers thanked Bishop Caggiano for calling the Synod and moving forward to renew the diocese.

Several times during the sessions, Bishop Caggiano urged delegates to “dig deeper, ask more questions and get to the root of the problems.”

Many common threads emerged in the statistics and the discussions about the nature of faith in contemporary society. Among the many challenges identified were:

  • The growing number of Catholics who have left the church
  • The early exodus of young people from the Church, which begins in their teens and accelerates in their twenties
  • The sense that many Catholics are “sacramentalized but not evangelized,” and live without the joy or spirit of faith
  • The impact of poverty on Catholic families and the gap between affluent and poor parishes
  • The irony that many parents in the diocese drop off their children for religious education but do not personally participate in the Church or bring their children to Mass
  • The opportunity to use social media to bring the Gospel to the marketplace of ideas
  • The need to let youth speak for themselves
  • The need for continued healing from the sexual abuse crisis while continuing to reach out to victims and assess the impact on the Church
  • The challenge of balancing the beauty and truth of Catholic tradition with new approaches to prayer, worship and catechesis
  • The need to share resources between parishes and break down silos
  • The mandate to bring people to an encounter with Christ in a way that is not intimidating or judgmental

Deacon John DiTaranto, Special Assistant to Bishop Caggiano and a member of the Synod commission, led off the day with a demographic overview.

Building on the statistics presented in Bishop Caggiano’s recent State of the Diocese address, he noted that 470,000 people in Fairfield County (roughly half of the overall population) identify themselves as Catholic, but only 82,460 or 17% attend Mass every week.

At present, there are 420 Masses offered in 16 different languages every weekend in the diocese. Yet there has been a gradual decline in the number of marriages and baptisms. Nationally there has been a 60% decline in Catholic marriages since 1972.

Perhaps most dramatically, one in ten Americans now identifies as a former Catholic, and four times as many people have left the Church as have entered it over the past two decades.

“Why did they leave, Where did they go,” Deacon DiTaranto asked, noting that of the 53% of Americans who leave their childhood faith, only 9% return.

The Deacon said there is room for optimism in the growing number of vocations to the priesthood, the openness of Americans to spiritual experience, and the growing number of foreign-born Catholic.

The Latino population in Fairfield County has seen a 16% increase; now totaling 144,593, with growing populations in Norwalk, Danbury and Bridgeport. Nationally, Hispanics now represent 45% of the Catholics in the US, and 70% of the growth in the Church over the past 50 years.

One of the more striking statistics presented by Deacon DiTaranto was the early exodus of youth from the Church and parish life.

“Catholics who leave, leave early, “ he said, pointing out that 48 % who leave the Church do so by the age of 18. That number jumps to 79% by the age of 23.

Bishop Caggiano, who has made reaching out to youth a priority, responded to the statistics by saying, “One of the first questions I have to ask myself as Bishop is are we causing this? Is the behavior of the institutional Church making this worse? We have to re-establish the credibility of the parish community for young people, because their search for God does not require them to be with us. They do in on their own.”

Delegate Bob Rooney of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Riverside gave the presentation on the “Build up Communities of Faith” theme. He noted that the American family portrayed on “Leave it to Beaver” has morphed into the complexity of the “Modern Family” portrayed in today’s media. He said the changes in the American family are here to stay and the Church “must figure out how to adapt to this new reality.”

Rooney said that three communities of faith, parish, schools and the family unit, “are interconnected” and the Church needs to do more to strengthen them. Quoting Pope Francis, that “one does not become a Christian by himself,” Rooney said the Church build up trust and reach out one person at a time to evangelize.

In his presentation on “Fostering Evangelical Outreach,” said that “Evangelization is not proselytizing,” but drawing people to the joy of faith by love, tenderness and patients, so that “everyone can have a personal encounter with Jesus Chris through the Church.”

Fr. Towsley said as society’s values become more secular and less Christian, We must “bring the Gospel to the streets and bring Jesus Christ to the marketplace.”

Catholic Charities Chief Operating Officer Michael Trintrup delivered the final Study Committee report on “Promoting works of charity and justice.” He said that Catholics throughout Fairfield County are putting “faith in action” through untold social outreach in parishes, schools, Catholic civic groups and other ministries.

He told the gathering that poverty is the root cause of many of the problems in Fairfield County including homelessness and mental illness. At present 8.8% or 90,000 residents in Fairfield County are living below the poverty line.

Tintrup also provided an overview of the impact of Catholic Charities services in Fairfield County including 1.5 million meals served each year to the poor, elderly and homeless, 15,000 counseling sessions to help keep families together and over 200 housing units that shelter those who would otherwise be homeless.

In his brief closing remarks, the Bishop noted that unlike other states, Connecticut does not have regional government and the Church plays a major role in unifying the county.

“There are very few institutions that actually cover the whole country. Are we the one institution can have the dialogue?” he asked.

The Bishop also said that in the next General Session for delegates “the work of discernment will begin” when delegates seek to find solutions to the many questions they have explored in the research and study phase.

The second General Session for delegates is set for Saturday November 15, 8-3 at St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull. In between General Sessions, the Synod will also host consultations sessions with youth, deacons, religious, priests and the Hispanic community.

For more information visit the Synod 2014 website at

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350 Synod delegates commissioned at prayer service
| September 19, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano officially commissioned more than 350 delegates to Synod 2014 at a Vespers Service on Friday night at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.



“Bless the members of the Synod and give them gifts of wisdom, understanding, knowledge and fear of the Lord. Commission them to go forth and be the new prophets of your divine plan for the Diocese of Bridgeport,” Bishop Caggiano said during the Prayer of Commissioning.

The delegates officially begin work on Saturday at 8 am when the first General Session convenes at St. Catherine of Siena Parish Center in the Nichols section of Trumbull.

Almost 700 faithful braved the congested Friday commute in Fairfield County to fill St. Augustine’s for the Vespers service that included hymns, psalms, scripture readings and a homily by Bishop Frank Caggiano.


The Vespers service, which fell on the first anniversary of Bishop Caggiano’s installation as Fifth Bishop of Bridgeport, marked the opening ceremony of Synod 2014, which will gather for a year to help discern and plan for the future of the Diocese.

In his homily the Bishop drew laughter when he said that when he finally got his driver’s license after failing earlier attempts, he was quickly designated as the driver on family vacations. He said that his mother was in charge of the food and his father was concerned about directions.

“He needed to know the directions step by step,” the Bishop said, noting that it is important to have a road map when taking a journey. Before asking the delegates to join him in the Profession of the Faith, he said that the Creed is the roadmap for all Catholics.

“The Synod is a gift of the Holy Spirit. You and I in this age and in this time are being called to bring this creed, this road map to a waiting world.,” the Bishop said. “The ancient creeds binds us together, helps us to overcome our differences and become a single family.”

Describing the Synod as a “journey of a lifetime” for the Diocese, the Bishop asked, “Are you ready to begin? Roll up your sleeves with love and let us be on our way.”

The Church was filled with applause after his homily when the Bishop officially signed and sealed the Letter of Decree opening the Synod. The Bishop also received a standing ovation in appreciation for all of the work he has done in his first year of ministry in the diocese.

In the “Examination of Synod Participants,” Bishop Caggiano asked the delegates to stand. “Are you willing to undertake the journey of discernment, which will allow us to determine the will of God for our Diocese” the bishop asked delegates who responded, “I am.”

The Bishop also asked delegates “to promise to pray daily for guidance of the Holy Spirit so we may always fulfill the will of God.”

The intercessions toward the end of the service were read in Spanish, Creole, Vietnamese, Polish, Portuguese and English, reflecting the diversity of many different communities across the diocese.
Music for the Vespers program was conducted by Thomas J. Marino of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan, who served as organist and choir director of the celebration. Choir members were drawn from parishes throughout the diocese, while Cidalia Alves was the cantor

In the June 29 Vespers service to launch the Synod, Bishop Caggiano announced the four major themes that came out of the synod listening sessions held last spring throughout the diocese: empowering the young church, building up communities of faith, fostering evangelical outreach and promoting works of justice and charity.

When the Synod delegates convene on Saturday for the first General Session, they will hear four study committee presentations based on the four Synod themes. Each presentation will be followed by 40 minutes of discussion. The study committee as made up of priests, religious, laity and guest speakers.

During the year-long Synod, the study committees will also look at national and diocesan trends and examine best-practice models around the country in order to address challenges and plan for the future.

Bishop Caggiano officially convoked the 4th Diocesan Synod with an announcement in his February 22 letter that issued a challenge to all Catholics to help plan for the future of the diocese.

The second General Session for delegates is set for Saturday November 15, 8-3 at St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull. In between General Sessions, the Synod will also host consultations sessions with youth, deacons, religious, priests and the Hispanic community

For more information visit the Synod 2014 website at

Listen to Bishop Caggiano's Homily Below | Click here to view the slideshow

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Bishop Caggiano meets with his priests
| September 18, 2014 • by By Father Colin McKenna


NORWALK—Bishop Frank Caggiano believes that the best way to facilitate communication is to meet face-to-face.

Msgr. Peter Cullen and Monsignor William Millea chat before
the meeting.

Bishop Caggiano led the meeting but also requested
and encouraged input from his priests.

The priests enjoyed a buffet luncheon before the meeting began.

In his first year as Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, he has made communication with his priests a priority. To ensure that priests have the opportunity to present issues to him and ask him questions in an open forum, he has instituted semi-annual priests’ meetings wherein he and the presbyterate (the priests of the diocese) can spend several hours together discussing important issues.

Last May, the priests of the diocese met with Bishop Caggiano at St. Mathew’s Parish in Norwalk, and today they returned for their second general meeting of the year. After a buffet luncheon and an opening prayer, they took up an agenda divided into six separate subject areas with twenty sub-topics. The May meeting lasted nearly four hours. Today’s meeting was more than two hours long.

Bishop Caggiano led the meeting but paused frequently to ask for input from his priests. His leadership style is collaborative, and his enthusiasm is inspiring. “This is a great discussion!,” he proclaimed at one point.

Many of the topics were very technical in nature, relating to canonical, liturgical and catechetical processes. But there were at least several topics that were practical in nature and had definite dates attached to them.

Vocation Director Father Sam Kachuba reminded everyone that November 2-9 is “Vocation Awareness Week.” As that week approaches, Father Kachuba encouraged priests to check for pertinent materials. “It would be great to have homilies about vocations on those weekends,” he said.

Bishop Caggiano added that “our five high schools have the potential to generate many vocations to the priesthood and religious life.” And he announced that he is taking concrete steps to strengthen our approach to fostering vocations in the diocese.

Father Peter Lynch, a former vocation director in the diocese, pointed out that “every priest is a promoter of vocations.” Bishop Caggiano said that helping men and women to realize that they may be called by God to a religious vocation is a primary responsibility of priests.

Building on the theme of vocations, Bishop Caggiano announced that Pope Francis has proclaimed a “Year of Consecrated Life,” which actually extends for 16 months, from November 2014 - February 2016. In our diocese, this special year in honor of consecrated religious life begins on Sunday, November 30, with a special Mass and celebration at St. Cecilia Church in Stamford from 2:30-4:30 pm. Although it is a Sunday, Bishop Caggiano encouraged as many as possible to attend.

The bishop also encouraged the priests to preach about consecrated life on the weekend of February 7 & 8, 2015. “It is such an important and beautiful part of the Church,” he said.

Finally, in terms of exciting events to anticipate in the future, the bishop announced that the diocese will hold a youth concert and Mass at Webster Arena in Bridgeport on December 12, 2015. It is called “C4Y15” (Concert for Youth 2015) and the bishop hopes that 5,000 diocesan youth will attend.

If all of that is not enough, the bishop announced that after the conclusion of the synod, he is sponsoring a diocesan pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The all-day pilgrimage is scheduled for October 24, 2015, and the bishop wants as many buses as possible heading down I-95 filled with pilgrims from our diocese. He wants the priests to keep that day—a Saturday—as free from parish commitments as possible.

Before concluding the meeting, Bishop Caggiano requested prayers so that he may be guided by the Holy Spirit as he navigates a maze of difficult decisions in the coming weeks and months.

Vicar General Msgr. Bill Scheyd took the microphone before the meeting ended and thanked the bishop for his first year of service to the people and priests of the Diocese of Bridgeport. In a sign of agreement and unity, the presbyterate rose and gave Bishop Caggiano a standing ovation.

Preschool opened in Norwalk
| September 18, 2014


NORWALK—Room to Grow Preschool of Catholic Charities has announced the opening of its second location in Norwalk at 139 West Rocks Road, behind All Saints School.

The pre-school program for children from three to five years old officially opened its doors on September 8, 2014.

“We are proud to bring this very successful program to a second location in Norwalk,” said Al Barber, president of Catholic Charities. “This is a proven program that has been a remarkable resource for children and families. We know that quality, affordable and safe early childhood education is one of the most pressing needs a family can face, and this program answers that need.”

Nancy Cook Owens, director of Room to Grow, said there are still some subsidized school readiness slots available to eligible Norwalk residents, along with full-tuition spaces open to all in the greater Norwalk area and neighboring communities.

Cook Owens said the new location can accommodate a total of 46 children. It is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 to 5:30.

Room to Grow Preschool is a State licensed and nationally accredited facility that provides high quality care and education for children ages three to five years old. The 208 East Ave. campus of Room to Grow Preschool, located in the back wing of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish Center, serves 83 children.

The subsidized slots are grant funded through a School Readiness grant, which requires that a child be a resident of the City of Norwalk. These spots are available on a sliding fee scale based on family income.

“Our curriculum is based upon the philosophy that young children learn best by doing. Learning requires active thinking and experimenting. During the preschool years, play is one of the most fundamental activities of the developing child, providing the foundation of academic learning. The most important goal of our curriculum is to help children become enthusiastic learners,” said Cook Owens.  

“The program wait-list policy necessitates priority going to the siblings of families already enrolled or returning to Room to Grow. We currently have more than a two year waiting list, so we ask families to please plan accordingly.”

(For more info on enrollment, contact Nancy Cook Owens: 203.831.8200; email  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
St. Margaret Shrine: An Oasis of Peace
| September 16, 2014


When we think of “pilgrimages,” we often think of going someplace far away. To our mind’s eye, pilgrimages involve travel, sometimes difficult travel, and the willingness to partake of a “spiritual camping trip.” By camping trip, I mean that pilgrimages require the need to forgo certain creature comforts, or to at least accept a degree of asceticism.

I am writing this blog to inform everyone–and to remind myself–that pilgrimages do not require any of the features that I have mentioned above. First, as Catholic Christians, we are all pilgrims. Regardless of how comfortable our earthly lives may be, earth is not our true homeland. While we are alive on earth, we are traveling, as pilgrims, toward a personal meeting with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Creation is always in motion. As I type, the earth itself is hurtling through space at many thousands of miles per hour and the earth is spinning rapidly. Just because these movements are imperceptible to me does not mean that they are not occurring. It is similar with our daily pilgrimage. We may not experience it as actual movement, but there is a mechanism that monitors our progress, and that is time.

The Park Avenue entrance to St. Margaret Shrine in Bridgeport.

Christ the King greets visitors to the shrine and extends his arms
in blessing over the city of Bridgeport.

Our Lady of Fatima and the shepherd children kneeling in prayer.

A dramatic metalwork depiction of the crucifixion.

A lifelike depiction of Golgotha.

A mosaic of St. Margaret of Antioch standing guard above
the Italian town from which many emigrated to Bridgeport.

Deacon Don Foust (L), Administrator of St. Margaret Shrine,
and Nick Mastroianni, who has helped oversee the shrine since
1950, stand beside the fountain from which many believe springs
forth miraculous water.

Whether they are major undertakings or local journeys, pilgrimages are blessed events because they require us to take time out of our daily lives and schedules and commit ourselves to spending time with God and neighbor in prayer and perhaps good works.

If the thought of actually boarding a plane with fellow believers and traveling to Lourdes or Fatima or someplace else is just too daunting, I have recently discovered a destination for pilgrims much closer to home. St. Margaret Shrine is the only shrine in the Diocese of Bridgeport, and it is located in the middle of the city of Bridgeport.

St. Margaret’s is easy to get to from either the Merritt Parkway or I-95 and it has plenty of safe, secure parking available. If you decide to make a pilgrimage to the shrine, your visit may only last an hour or an afternoon, but in my opinion, it is still a real pilgrimage and you will reap many benefits from God for your generosity in taking the time and making the effort.

This idea of the “simple pilgrimage” recalls the principles of St. Therese of Lisieux who wrote about doing little things for God and neighbor in our daily lives.

St. Margaret Shrine was founded by Father Emilio Iasiello at the onset of World War II to be “an oasis of peace” in the midst of a world at war. As the United States now enters its latest war, or begins it anew, a special place to pray for peace in our lives and in the world is needed more than ever. Since 1941, Father Iasiello’s shrine has experienced organic growth within its 7.5 acres. As different individuals with various talents and inspirations come along, different shrines or areas of prayer and worship are incorporated into the landscape.

The most recent shrine within the shrine is a statue and prayer space created to honor Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. One of the first things that our newly installed Bishop Caggiano did last September as Bishop of Bridgeport was to dedicate the Padre Pio statue at the shrine. Bishop Caggiano is extremely fond of the shrine and has made several visits to it already and is looking forward to spending more time there. Two new areas of remembrance are under construction at the shrine and hope to be opened soon. One is for first responders and the second is for the victims of the Newtown massacre.

Although the shrine is dedicated as a place to pray for peace, it is named after St. Margaret of Antioch (Syria) who was martyred in the year 304, only a decade before Christianity was made legal in the Roman Empire. She was martyred because she wanted to preserve her virginity, yet curiously she is known as a patron saint of pregnant women. In addition to expectant mothers, St. Margaret’s shrine would also be a good place to visit for women who long to be biological mothers but may be experiencing difficulties conceiving.

What would a Catholic shrine be without miraculous spring water? People come from miles around to fill containers with spring water from St. Margaret Shrine that is believed by many to have miraculous healing powers. One man claims to have been healed of stomach cancer as a result of drinking the water. The water that supplies the “miraculous” source comes from a spring 1,450 feet below the surface.

Water from that deep within the earth is certainly pure and undoubtedly filled with many healthy minerals. Whether it becomes holy and healing as it rises up and through holy ground is a matter of faith for those who visit the shrine.

The shrine and its three chapels are open Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The chapels are open on the weekends at various daytime hours but the grounds remain open until dusk. The shrine is located at 2523 Park Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604. Office phone: 203.333.9627. Website: www.parishesonline/

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Father Hribsek, former pastor of Holy Cross Parish
| September 16, 2014


FAIRFIELD—Father Aloysius Hribsek, former pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Fairfield, died on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, September 14, in Stamford Hospital. He was 92 years old.

Father Hribsek, who lived at the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of Clergy Retired Priests’ Residence since 1996, served as pastor at Holy Cross Parish for twenty-three years.

Born on October 28, 1921 in Yugoslavia, he attended local schools there. His studies for the priesthood were done at the Pontificio Ateneo Salesian in Turin, Italy and Salesian College, Aptos, Calif. His ordination to the priesthood as a Salesian took place at Mary, Help of Christians Church, Watsonville, California, on June 29, 1949. He was incardinated into the Diocese of Bridgeport in 1959.

His first assignment for the diocese was as a faculty member at the former St. Mary High School in Greenwich, while in residence at Saint Michael Parish, also in Greenwich. Later he was an assistant at Sacred Heart Parish, Byram, and administrator and pastor at Holy Cross Parish. He lived at St. Luke Parish, Westport as well.

Father Hribsek spent part of his early years of retirement in his native Slovenia assisting Salesian Fathers working in that newly formed, independent country. On his return he was appointed administrator of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Shelton and later chaplain at Villa Maria Retreat House in Stamford.

In addition, Father Hribsek served on the Priests’ Council and did advanced studies at Fordham and Columbia Universities, and the Catholic University of America.

Father Hribsek’s body will be received at Holy Cross Church on Wednesday, September 17, at 4 pm where it will lie in state until the Vigil Mass at 7 pm. The celebrant and homilist will be Reverend Alfred Pecaric, the current pastor.

The Mass for Christian Burial will be celebrated for Father Hribsek on Thursday, September 18, at 10:30 am at Holy Cross. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the main celebrant. The homilist will be Msgr. Nicholas Grieco. Burial will follow at Saint Michael Cemetery, Stratford, in the Priests’ Circle.

Bishop says service of First Responders is “victory of love”
| September 14, 2014


DARIEN—At the 13th Annual Blue Mass, which was celebrated this morning on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, Bishop Caggiano reminded those in attendance that September 13 is the anniversary of the day a New York construction worker uncovered the cross that would become “a sign of hope and encouragement” to the country after the terrorist act of 9/11.

With bagpipes playing “America the Beautiful,” more than 100 police, fire and emergency services personnel processed in to the tiny Church on the Post Road in Darien for the annual Mass that remembers those lost on 9/11 and honors the service of First Responders.

The chapel-like Church was quickly filled with people standing in the aisles and in the vestibule with the doors wide open, and the stained-glass windows on the tipped up to let the fresh air in on a beautiful morning.

Bishop Caggiano, who celebrated his first Blue Mass in the Diocese at St. John Church in Darien, said the huge steel cross was uncovered in the mist and fog of dust that settled over the World Trade Centers after the terrorist attacks.

He said the workers “found an enormous gift, an act of grace” when they came upon the cross “made of the mangled steel that had been at the very fiber of one of the towers.”

The Bishop said that the lesson in the aftermath of 9/11 is that “Christ is never closer to use then in the moment of our suffering. But God doesn’t just stand in solidarity with us.”

He said that although as Christians, “we must learn to live in the shadow of the cross. The story does not end at the Cross” but goes on to the resurrection and new life.

“Our story ends in the victory of God over violence and all those things that are not of him.” the Bishop said. “There is not a broken heart in this world that does not find a place in the heart of Jesus.”

During this homily, the Bishop turned to the uniformed officers who lined the side walls of the Church, thanked them for their service, which is Christ-like in their mission to protect others from harm, never to abandon them in need and often to suffer with those they try to save.

Noting that their badges as First Responders mark them as persons of “faith and integrity, “ the bishop said, “But the greater badge you carry is the one in your heart because you have been signed by Jesus Christ. May the cross of Christ always be your badge of honor and love.”

At the conclusion of Mass, presented awards to the 2014 Blue Mass Honorees 2014 and recognized their contributions to the community.

Fr. Charles Allen, Special Assistant to the President of Fairfield University, read the following tributes:

Officer Robert Muschett, Stratford Police Department
Officer Robert Muschett exemplifies what law enforcement is today. His selfless, dedication to the community and professionalism exemplify the high standards of the Stratford Police Department.

Officer Muschett has repeatedly proven that even in the most emotional situations, he can defuse the situation with calm professionalism. He treats everyone with respect and dignity. He takes the extra time to ensure victims are aware of their rights and the legal process. The Stratford Police Department has received numerous letters of praise for Officer Muschett’s performance and dedication.

Lieutenant Mathew Deysenroth, City of Bridgeport Fire Department
Lieutenant Mathew Deysenroth's dedication to the Department as a leader and company commander throughout the year is exemplary. He is a key figure in organizing donations to the Bridgeport Fallen Firefighters Foundation as well as organizing the Fill-A-Boot drives for Muscular Dystrophy and the Annual Walter Flyntz Memorial Golf Tournament each fall.

Officer Tiffanie Bennett, Fairfield Police Department
On July 26, 2014 Fairfield Police Department conducted a missing person investigation after family members reported their 50 year old son who suffers from dementia, missing and endangered after he left the house in his Gray Mini Cooper and never returned. Approximately 24 hours had passed when Officer Tiffany Bennett driving off-duty in her personal vehicle noticed the Gray Mini Cooper, spotted the car and followed it until the man was stopped and safely returned to his family.

Officer Bennett has also volunteered to take on the extra responsibility of mentoring College Students wishing to explore a career in Law Enforcement through our internship program.

Officer Christopher Holms, Norwalk Police Department
Officer Christopher Holms has been a Norwalk Police Officer since January 1997. He became the Department DARE officer in 2010 and teaches the Drug Awareness Resistance Education program to fifth grade students in Norwalk School. In 2013 he also piloted a DARE program in one middle school for eight grade students and program has been very well received. He also runs a two week DARE summer camp, which this year had 35 campers.

In 2011, Officer Holms took on the development of the Norwalk Police Explorer Post and has grown that program to approximately 40 weekly participants. Through this program, Officer Holms mentors youth age 14 to 20 while teaching them police related skills as well as life lessons. He works diligently with the youth to instill integrity, ethics, and leadership skills while bolstering their self-confidence. He is always inspiring the Explores to strive for improvement and give back to the community.

Officer Christopher Nugent, Shelton Police Department
Officer Christopher Nugent has demonstrated outstanding to the Shelton Police Department with several arrests and investigation in 2014. This included an arrest of a person responsible for a tremendous amount of graffiti, several burglary suspects, drug suspects and a person who broke into cars sealing GPS units.

Officer Nugent and his K-9 unit have supported many community service projects and fundraising events.

Captain Robert Robinson (Ret) of the Bridgeport Police Department
Captain Robert Robinson is a retired Captain of the Bridgeport Police Department. Even for years after his retirement he continued to lead the Department’s Honor Guard. Bob coordinated all of the honor guard activities of the Blue Mass for over a decade from its inception and helped make it the proper event that it is today. His leadership, commitment and character helped to build the formal attendance of Police, Fire and EMS honor guard units from across the county.

Before the uniformed personnel processed to a thunderous version of the National Anthem, Bishop Caggiano thanked the Fairfield County Councils and Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus for their faithful service on the frontlines of the Church and for sponsoring the annual Blue Mass. He also recognized Msgr. Frank McGrath, who is leaving St. John Parish for a new assignment. He described Msgr. McGrath, who has also served for years as a police and fire chaplain, as “a brother priest who has served generously, a man of great faith, and a preacher of the truth.”

Click here to see a slideshow

“House of Hope” Food Drive to help Veterans and the underserved
| September 12, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—St. Vincent’s Health Services and Aquarion Water Company are launching the 4th Annual “House of Hope” Food Drive, running from September 15 until November 14 to help reduce hunger throughout the Greater Bridgeport area.

A ribbon cutting will be held on Monday, September 15 at 11 am at the House of Hope at the entrance to St. Vincent’s Medical Center.

Visitors to St. Vincent’s Medical Center, employees of the health system and Aquarion, and the public are being asked to drop off donations in the “House of Hope”—a special shed located at the hospital entrance for the duration of the drive.
Items collected will be delivered to area food banks and to a veterans’ group. Last year more than six tons of food were donated and organizers hope to surpass that total this year.
Veterans Organization to Benefit for First Time
This year’s collection will benefit The Spooner House in Shelton, Bridgeport Rescue Mission, The Thomas Merton Center, and the St. Vincent’s Family Health Center all in Bridgeport, and for the first time, the Port Five Naval Veterans organization, also in Bridgeport. All branches of the armed forces belong to the Port Five group, which will redistribute donated food to other veterans’ organizations. Plans call for Port Five to use the turkeys donated to host dinners for veterans in need.
“We are happy to once again partner with Aquarion to help bring food to so many families in our region,” said St. Vincent’s Health Services President Stuart G. Marcus, MD, FACS. “Our employees and the public have displayed great generosity and enthusiasm for this project, which is well aligned with the mission entrusted to us by the Daughters of Charity to serve the poor and vulnerable. We are very pleased this year to expand our reach to area veterans and in this small way thank them for their service.”
“Aquarion is delighted to partner with St. Vincent’s Health Services to offer assistance to individuals and families who require a lift,” said Charles V. Firlotte, President and CEO of Aquarion Water Company. “As the difficult economy continues to negatively impact local families, we hope to make the holiday season a bit brighter for them and for our veterans who have given so much to our country and to the global community.”
What to Donate
The organizers ask that only nutritious, non-perishable, non-expired items be donated. They suggest canned fish, meat, soup, stews, fruits and vegetables as well as pasta, peanut butter, cold cereal and powdered milk.
Serving this year as co-chairpersons are Lucille Bentley, RN, and Kareem Wali of St. Vincent’s and Carolyn Giampe of Aquarion.
Monetary donations are also accepted and are turned into double the amount in food purchases thanks to the generosity of  Big Y in Monroe, which is continuing its  "buy one get one" arrangement. Stew Leonard’s will again be donating turkeys to the House of Hope.
People wishing to make a monetary donation to the House of Hope may do so at the hospital information desk. Gift cards to grocery stores will also be accepted.
For more information, please contact at St. Vincent’s:Lucille Bentley at 203.576.5130 or Kareem Wali at 203-576-5221; at Aquarion: Carolyn Giampe at 203.337.5908.

Blue Mass on Sunday in Darien
| September 12, 2014


DARIEN—The Annual Diocesan Blue Mass honoring fire, police and rescue workers will be held on Sunday September 14, 11:30 am at Saint John Church in Darien. A reception immediately following Mass will be held in the Blanchard Center on parish grounds.

Click here to see a slideshow

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

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

Now in its 13th year, the Blue Mass has grown into a moving and memorable commemoration of the courage and commitment of the uniformed personnel who protect our health and safety every day of the year in Fairfield County.    
“In remembering the heroism and loss of 9/11, we also celebrate the courage and commitment of all those who put their lives on the line to protect us,” said Bishop Caggiano.
The Blue Mass takes its name from the blue uniforms worn by police, fire and emergency services personnel. Founded by Bishop William E. Lori, the Blue Mass was initiated to celebrate the life and heroism of those who died during the 9/11 tragedy in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. Each year it also recognizes local first responders.

Chaplains of the Fairfield County fire, police and emergency medical service departments include: Rev. Charles H. Allen, S.J., Fairfield Town Emergency Services; Rev. Michael A. Boccaccio, Norwalk Police Department; Msgr. Laurence R. Bronkiewicz, Ridgefield Police Department; Msgr. Stephen M. DiGiovanni, Stamford Police Department; Rev. Thomas F. Lynch, Stratford Fire Department; Rev. Joseph J. Malloy, Bridgeport Fire Department (ret.); Msgr. Frank C. McGrath, Westport Fire and Police Departments and Noroton 
Fire Department; Deacon John J. Moranski, Bridgeport Police Department; Deacon William D. Murphy, Germantown Fire Department; Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci, Danbury Police Department; Rev. Robert J. Post, Stamford Fire Rescue Department; Msgr. William J. Scheyd, New Canaan Emergency Services and Norwalk Fire Department; Msgr. Richard J. Shea, Trumbull Police Department; Rev. Thomas P. Thorne, Federal Bureau of Investigation; Rev. Terrence P. Walsh, Stamford Police Department; Rev. Frank A. Winn, Glenville Fire Department.

The Fairfield County councils and assemblies of the Knights of Columbus are sponsoring the Mass again this year.  

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

Retired NYC firefighter remembers 9/11 every day
| September 11, 2014 • by By Roxanne King, National Catholic Register


DENVER—This week the world will remember the 13th anniversary of the events of 9/11, but for Steamboat Springs resident Kevin Nerney, 56, the attacks are “a daily memory.”

On September 11, 2001, Lieutenant Nerney was settling into a new life in Steamboat Springs, having just retired two weeks earlier from the New York City Fire Department. He watched as the Twin Towers crumbled, knowing that his crew would most likely be on the ground.

Click here to read a story on 9/11 from the National Catholic Reporter.

A New York City firefighter looks up at the remains
of the South Tower of the World Trade Center
on September 13, 2001.

He found out later that all the men from his fire station on duty that day died, including his best friend. He took the first available plane back to New York to help with the search and cleanup efforts.

“It was a horror show,” he said recalling the 10 days he spent at Ground Zero.

At one point he called his wife, Kathy, and told her, “Kath, there’s nothing but down here but dust.”

In June, Nerney learned he has a form of brain cancer, stage four glioblastoma, which is among the cancers tied to the toxic ground zero cleanup area. He immediately underwent surgery, radiation and chemotherapy and is getting ready to start another series of chemo. His medical bills have topped $640,000.

Because he worked as a volunteer at ground zero, Nerney was initially told he’s ineligible for financial assistance from the World Trade Center Health Program, which was established as part of the 2010 Zadroga Act to respond to the health crisis involving workers at ground zero.

John Feal, founder of the Feal Good Foundation which was instrumental in getting the Zadroga Act and two related bills passed, said Nerney was wrongly denied but must act quickly to meet an upcoming deadline.

“They need to file before October 12,” he said by phone from his Nesconset, N.Y. office. “He is eligible.”

Some 2,800 people have been diagnosed with 9/11-related cancer, Feal said, adding that the number is expected to grow as cancer can take years to appear. More than 30,000 responders have been certified as having 9/11-related illness or injury, according to the World Trade Center Program.

“Since 9/11, we’ve lost over 16,000 people to a variety of 9/11-related illnesses or injuries,” said Feal, himself a first responder who was injured during the ground zero cleanup.

On September 8, New York lawmakers called on Congress to renew the Zadroga Act and extend it for 25 more years. The medical treatment and compensation components of the act are set to expire in 2015 and 2016.

“We have an uphill battle,” Feal said about the legislation, which is expected to be introduced later this month.

Ground Zero Fallout

Todd O’Brien, 57, is a retired fireman who fought fires with Kevin Nerney and worked alongside him at Ground Zero. O’Brien, who is now cancer free, came down with prostate cancer and his lungs now only work at slightly more than half capacity. Both of his medical issues are tied to 9/11 cleanup efforts. Because he was a working firefighter during the cleanup, he has received compensation for his medical treatment.

“I was there 10 minutes after the second tower went and stayed two months,” O’Brien said by phone from Lindenhurst, N.Y. “It was so much dust down there my lungs are shot. What we’re going to see is more and more men who were there are going to be getting sick and dying.”

Another of Nerney’s fellow firefighters who helped at Ground Zero and is now retired, Bruce DelGiorno, 56, has 9/11-related asthma, sinusitus and was treated for a pre-cancer thyroid tumor.

“I’m doing all right,” he said from his home in New Hyde Park, N.Y. “I’m very lucky.”

Three days before 9/11, DelGiorno and another New York firefighter, Capt. Emilio Longo, were in Steamboat Springs helping Nerney build his retirement home. Longo later died of 9/11-attributed lymphoma.

“It’s a tragedy,” DelGiorno said, adding that on 9/11 he’ll attend a memorial service and later this month he’ll attend a Mass and plaque dedication in Long Island honoring Longo.

Meanwhile, Kathy Nerney, a former teacher who retired to help care for her husband, is working through stacks of paperwork to get Kevin’s medical claim accepted. And his treatment costs continue to mount.

“It’s a lot of hoops you have to jump through,” she said. “There’s a lot of phone calls, a lot of hurry up and wait.” To help Nerney, Holy Name Church, where Kevin and Kathy are parishioners—their two children Joseph and Marykate are grown and have both served in the military—has established the Kevin Nerney Fund.

“People are so compassionate,” Kathy Nerney said, expressing gratitude.

Although her husband’s speech is a bit slurred at times and his thought process can be fuzzy, the cancer hasn’t slowed him down. He is Grand Knight of his parish’s Knights of Columbus Council and a member of the men’s Beer and Bible group.

“I think he’s missed one Knights’ meeting, that’s it,” Kathy Nerney said. “He still goes to Beer and Bible every Tuesday and if he can’t go, they come here. Last week he made chili for them. He keeps truckin’ along.”


Click here to read the original story.

Progress for Trinity Catholic football in 2014
| September 11, 2014 • by By Rich DePreta, Stamford Advocate


STAMFORD—Donny Panapada is proud to be a member of the FCIAC football head coaches fraternity.

Dominick Svrcek carries the ball as he practices
with the Trinity Catholic football at the high school
on Saturday, September 6, 2014. Photo: Lindsay Perry

The Trinity Catholic football team practices at the high school
on Saturday, September 6, 2014. Photo: Lindsay Perry

Randy Polonia practices with the Trinity Catholic football
at the high school on Saturday, September 6, 2014.
Photo: Lindsay Perry

Head Coach Donny Panapada talks to a player during
Trinity Catholic's football practice at the high school
on Saturday, September 6, 2014. Photo: Lindsay Perry

He has nothing but love for his alma mater, Trinity Catholic High School.

He is ready to embrace the challenge of his second season in arguably the state's strongest football conference.

"Things are running a lot smoother. The team knows what I expect. And I think I learned from my mistakes," Panapada said. "I'm doing things a little differently. The team and I talk every day about expectations and goals."

The first expectation will be victory as the Crusaders were 0-11 overall, 0-9 in the FCIAC in 2013.

Here are five questions facing Trinity Catholic on the eve of the 2014 campaign:

1. What is different to give you hope of a better start in 2014?

"We had spring football practice this year. And that gave us momentum into our off-season work this summer," Panapada said. "We had the Bluestreak Sports Training people from Chelsea Piers (in Stamford) work with us for seven weeks before we began our preseason practice. It was three times per week and we had about 40 kids each day at Chelsea Piers this summer.

"I see more speed, more agility. I see kids in better physical condition," Panapada continued. "It has allowed us to spend more time on football in the preseason rather than conditioning. We have a new offensive coordinator this year. Alex Drayson spent the last three seasons at Staples working with QB Jack Massie."

2. What is the situation at quarterback for 2014?

"Junior Anthony Lombardi is a transfer from Mahopac, N.Y. He is 6-foot-3 and around 195 pounds," Panapada said. "He's been a pleasant surprise this preseason. I'm impressed with him physically. But more impressed mentally. He's so intelligent, learning this new offense on the fly. That's why we brought coach Drayson in as offensive coordinator. We want to attract athletes with aspirations of playing college football. That starts with the quarterback. Our new offense will prepare our quarterbacks to play in college football systems."

3. The good news is you have the kids' attention by opening the season once again against Sheehan of Wallingford. The bad news is you're opening (Saturday, September 13 at home at 2 pm) against Sheehan who beat you 63-26 in Game 1 of 2013.

"I remember the bus ride home very clearly. I learned a lot in my first varsity game as a head coach," Panapada said. "It was not a great ride. You question a lot of process. It was quiet reflection. Inner talks with myself. The best part was we improved from week 1 to week 2 (a 14-8 loss to intracity rival Westhill)."

4. Does Lombardi have enough playmakers on offense?

The answer is yes. If they stay healthy. Sophomore Courtlyn Victrum (5-foot-6) is a year wiser about running off the work of his offensive line rather than merely using his speed. Randy Polonia will be more of a wide receiver than taking punishment at running back. Thomas Costigan (who will play at Bryant University in fall 2015) is a hardnosed and underrated tight end.

"Polonia is a phenomenal athlete. The key is to get the ball to kids in space," Panapada said. "Our offensive playmakers could have just as much impact on defense."

5. What are some of the things that have to happen for Trinity Catholic to reach a point where it can fairly compete with the FCIAC's upper echelon?

The first thing is the catholic school's enrollment numbers have to increase significantly. It is hard to build a football program when there are more freshmen girls enrolling than freshman boys. Trinity Catholic and Harding are the last two FCIAC football teams playing on grass fields.

Overall program roster numbers are such that dings from preseason scrimmages create too many minor injuries heading into a season.

The changeover to an artificial turf field begins the day AFTER the 2014 football season concludes. Lights are also part of the plan for Trinity Catholic as the Crusaders can join the world of Friday Night Lights rather than remain playing home games on Saturday morning or Saturday afternoon.

The turf field and lights will attract better athletes. The turf field will help Trinity Catholic practice better throughout the season. Snow and days of mud after a rainstorm won't be obstacles to progress. The turf will also aid the Crusaders' passing offense.

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

The truth about climate change
| September 10, 2014 • by By Tony Magliano


“Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change …  loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions?”

These aren’t the radical words from the leader of a secular environmental organization, no; these are the radical words from the former leader of the Catholic Church!

In his 2010 World Day of Peace message titled, “If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation,” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote that “it would be irresponsible not to take seriously” the signs of a growing environmental crisis.

And the greatest threat to the natural world is climate change, caused principally by human induced global warming. Burning fossil fuels – oil, gas and coal for energy – produces huge amounts of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the lower atmosphere.

The earth indeed is getting hotter. It’s not a liberal hoax.

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), last decade was the hottest on record.

And according to NASA, “97 percent of climate scientists agree that global warming trends over the past century are “very likely due to human activities.”
In a study titled “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis” the highly authoritative United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed global warming since the mid-20th century.

According to new findings by the World Meteorological Organization, concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide—the major cause of global warming—increased at their fastest rate in 2013 than in any year since 1984.

And in a study by the non-governmental organization Germanwatch, the U.S. is the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide.

To underscore the critical importance for world leaders to robustly respond to the climate changing dangers already beginning to affect the earth and humanity, the U.N. on September 23 will host “Climate Summit 2014.”

With all of the solid scientific evidence validating climate change and global warming, I was wondering why this summer has felt cooler than normal where I live in Maryland.  
Dr. Brenda Ekwurzel, senior climate scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, explained to me that the continued relatively faster warming of the Arctic region is causing shifts in the jet stream pattern which in turn is leading to more unusual weather in the Northern Hemisphere.

She said that during the first half of this year the same jet stream that has been bringing mostly cooler weather to the eastern U.S. has caused hot drought conditions along the west coast.

As the Arctic and Greenland ice caps continue to melt, ocean levels will dangerously rise—putting large areas of world-wide coastal land under water.

While too much water will plague many, countless others will suffer from not having enough.

According to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Hundreds of millions of people face water shortages that will worsen as temperatures rise.”

We need to quickly move toward, and heavily invest in, clean, safe and renewable alternative sources of energy—like wind, solar and geo-thermal.

Pope Benedict writes, “In a word, concern for the environment calls for a broad global vision of the world; a responsible common effort to move beyond approaches based on selfish  interests towards a vision constantly open to the needs of all peoples.”

Our wise retired Holy Father is absolutely right!  
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.

Bishop announces reorganization of diocesan offices to prepare for change and renewal
| September 09, 2014


NORWALK— Bishop Frank J Caggiano told a gathering of more than 500 lay leaders, pastors and synod delegates that it is important to “get the diocesan house in order” as the 350 delegates of Synod 2014 begins their work to help plan for the future of the Catholic Church in Fairfield County.

“As the Bishop, I have an obligation to ensure that the work of the Diocese, its organization, processes and procedures, reflect the best practices that I ask all our parishes and schools to adopt. I believe in leadership by example. So before we ask any other institution to undergo change, the Diocese must go first,” he said during the address.

In his first State of the Diocese at All Saints School auditorium in Norwalk, the Bishop outlined the pastoral, administrative and financial challenges facing the diocese, and said he expects to make a “state of the diocese” address a yearly event under his tenure. At the end of last year, he also released all of the financial statement of the diocese.

His 50-minute talk was interrupted several times by applause. The Bishop also received a standing ovation at the completion of his address.

In addition to announcing a major restructuring of the administrative offices of the Church, the Bishop announced that he is exploring the possibility of moving the Catholic Center out of the existing building in the North End to a new location in downtown Bridgeport. He said the current building is too large and expensive to maintain and does not meet contemporary needs.

The Bishop also announced that the diocese will move St. John Fisher Seminary from its current location in Stamford to the site of the Bishop’s residence in Trumbull in order to prepare for the growing number of vocations to the priesthood.

The diocese will also introduce a new social media app in November for i-phone and androids to assist people seeking Mass times and other information about parishes and diocesan ministries.

Much of his talk focused on the financial challenges which parishes, schools and other ministries face, and the strategic planning process the diocese is about to launch for parishes and schools.

“Most importantly we are also working to ensure long-term financial sustainability of the Diocese. Our two major financial challenges are related operational deficits and accumulation of debt, and for the first time in many years we will end the fiscal year 2014 without a deficit.”

He added that he will lead the way by adopting best practices that will lead to cost savings and greater efficiency in Catholic Center operations.

The Bishop said he is committed to lowering the operational costs for the Catholic Center by at least $500,000 more for the 2015 fiscal year. He also announced plans to increase revenue by leveraging the Diocese’ real estate assets to generate income that will help fund operations.

In praising the 35 Catholic elementary and high schools sponsored by the Diocese for their faith-based education, diversity, outreach to the poor and academic excellence, Bishop Caggiano said they face significant challenges. He noted that enrollment continues to decline as parents struggle with tuition costs and operational deficits strain diocesan finances.

The Bishop said that diocesan schools currently run an operational deficit of over $1 million a year, which the diocese has subsidized to help schools with the cost of healthcare and other ongoing expenses. He added that Catholic schools are more cost effective than public schools and called upon the state to provide aid to help keep them viable.

The Bishop pointed to good news in the growth of the endowments created by Faith in the Future and said the board will soon authorize payment of $925,000 for the 2014 fiscal year.

He began his talk by outlining some of the stark pastoral challenges that face the Church as a result of changes in the secular culture and the sexual abuse crisis within the Church.

Mass attendance has dropped and sacramental observance has also decreased in the form of fewer baptisms, marriages and confirmations. Other barometers are equally challenging; only 20% of all confirmation students remain active in the faith after 5 years from their Confirmation. Likewise, the largest Christian church in the US is the Catholic Church: the second largest are former Catholics,” he said.

He said the Synod, which is about to convene its first General Session, will address these pastoral challenges.

“The Synod, is one of the most important initiatives of my Episcopal service and I ask for prayers for its success, “ he said. “Its purpose is to allow us, with Christ’s grace, to learn from our past but not be paralyzed by it, to face our pastoral challenges at their roots, and to move forward in faith together.”

While the Bishop outlined many serious challenges, he was optimistic that the Diocese has already turned the corner, and he noted that much good work is underway in the many programs and services such as the 1.5 million meals and the 15,000 hours of counseling provided by Catholic Charities each year to the poor and needy.

He said he was also in the process of re-promulgating all of the safe environments policies of the diocese to build on the good work that has already be done and further strengthen protection for children and healing for victims of abuse.

“I am honored, excited and humbled to be a co-worker with you in the life of our Church at this singular moment. None of what I have described frightens me. I am energized by the challenge before us and I hope you are as well,” he added.

The Diocese of Bridgeport includes more than 470,000 registered Catholics in Fairfield County. In addition to its 82 parishes, the diocese sponsors 30 regional elementary schools and five diocesan high schools, educating 10,000 youth, the St. John Fisher Seminary, the Queen of Clergy Residence and a wide range of social services through Catholic Charities and other institutions.

The Bishop said he was not daunted by the challenges and he asked that "every single one of us re-dedicate ourselves to the work of strengthening, revitalizing and healing the Church of Bridgeport."

Noting that Pope Francis has challenged the Church “to look anew at ways by which we can renew our mission,” the Bishop asked everyone in attendance to help build up communities of faith by supporting their parishes and schools.

“When I was installed as your bishop just one year ago, I spoke of building spiritual bridges in our midst, because we all seek healing and reconciliation. Often what we forget that great structure like the Brooklyn Bridge are composed of thousands of stones, and each is essential for the stability of the bridge. Saint Paul reminds us that we are living stones who make up the Church of Christ. Each of us is essential and needed to realize its mission. I am confident we will make the bridge to the future of the Church stronger, one stone at a time as we witness the faith and share our talents in service and love.,” he said.

Bishop Caggiano was installed as Fifth Bishop of Bridgeport on September 19, 2013 at St. Theresa Church in Trumbull, and began almost immediately to take steps to reorganize the diocese.

On February 22, 2014, he formally convoked the Fourth Synod of the Diocese of Bridgeport, the first in 32 years, as an opportunity for renewal and pastoral planning for the future of the local Church. After a series of listening sessions with over 4,000 comments by laity, priests and religious across the diocese, the bishop announced the Synod 2014 themes of empowering youth, building up the community of faith, fostering evangelical outreach, and promoting works of charity and justice.


Click here to watch video of this event

Click here to read and article from the National Catholic Reporter.