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$2 million in aid distributed to diocesan families
| July 28, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—The Bishop’s Scholarship Fund (BSF) has awarded over $2 million in scholarship aid to students in Catholic elementary schools throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport, according to Siobhan Lidington, executive director of the fund.

TUITION AID—In June, more than 1,800 families of all income
levels throughout the diocese received notification of their scholarship
amounts. In addition to helping financially challenged families,
the fund also gives a boost to families with more than one child in diocesan schools.

In June, more than 1,800 students received notification of their scholarship amounts. The funds were distributed to families at all income levels throughout the diocese.

“This fund is truly transformational because it supports the decision of all families in our diocese who want a Catholic education for their children,” Lidington said, noting that the diocese will continue taking new applications for aid over the summer.

Over $350,000 was awarded to families with more than one child enrolled in Catholic schools regardless of their income. Over 300 new students received aid, while almost $1 million was given to families who did not qualify for aid in the past.

Students demonstrating the most need were awarded up to 85 percent of the full tuition cost, an increase of $1,000 over past awards.

When the fund was announced in January, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano noted that in addition to inner-city families who could not afford the cost of a Catholic education, many suburban families were also struggling to meet the cost of tuition, particularly if they have more than one child in diocesan schools.
“We want these and all families to know that they can benefit from scholarship aid,” said the bishop. He noted that the fund is designed to award scholarships of varying amounts to as many students as possible who otherwise could not attend or remain enrolled in the diocesan-sponsored Catholic school of their choice because of financial need.

The scholarship fund, which was approved by the Diocesan Consultors in December 2014, substantially creates a new financial model for diocesan assistance to schools.

Lidington said the BSF was initially capped at $1.4 million for its first year, but the diocese received a gift enabling it to distribute $2 million. She said that one hundred percent of all the funds raised are distributed for scholarship aid. The Bishop’s Scholarship Fund is a permanent fund designed to provide tuition assistance on an annual basis for students to attend our diocesan-sponsored schools.

The first year of the funding has been reserved for elementary school students. High school students will also be able to apply for scholarship aid in 2016.

The diocese educates more than 9,000 students in its 35 (five high schools, 29 elementary, and one center for early childhood excellence) Catholic schools in grades Pre-K-12 throughout Fairfield County.

Families can apply for scholarships each year for as long as the student attends a diocesan elementary or high school.

The Bishop’s Scholarships will be funded each year through direct donations and a new Scholarship Fund Dinner, along with revenue from the Annual Catholic Appeal, the Faith in the Future Fund, and a redistribution of existing parish educational contributions.

(For more info or to make a donation, contact Siobhan Lidington: 203.416.1405 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

New Haven area teens crush Marathon Record as they Swim Across the Sound for Cancer
| July 28, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Bright sunshine and calm waters greeted 140 swimmers as they took on the 15.5 miles between Long Island, New York and Bridgeport, Connecticut on Saturday for the 28th Annual SWIM Across the Sound Marathon. Motivated by personal experiences with survivorship and loss, the swimmers had one shared goal in mind: supporting 30,000 people annually who are battling cancer and their families.

The Hopkins Hilltoppers celebrate their 1st place finish in Saturday’s
St. Vincent’s 28th Annual SWIM Across the Sound Marathon.
The team crushed the previous record by over two hours, with a time
of 5 hours, 54 minutes, and 32 seconds. (L-R) Philip Ross of Woodbridge;
Katharine Larsen of Milford; Michael Zhu of Woodbridge; Team Captain
Mollie Seidner of  Woodbridge; Gwyneth Maloy and Evan Schott of New Haven.

Photo by Amy Mortensen

This year’s SWIM raised over $250,000, all of which goes to St. Vincent’s 45 cancer education, prevention, and assistance programs. A group of six teens from New Haven’s Hopkins School, called the “Hopkins Hilltoppers,” came in first place completing the marathon in five hours, 54 minutes, and 32 seconds, crushing the previous record of 8:15:20.
“When we were about half way across, we realized we had a good chance of winning,” explained Team Captain Mollie Seidner, age 16, of Woodbridge. “For a while it was neck and neck between us and two other teams but we were determined!” While most were motivated by their love of the sport, two team members' grandparents had cancer, making the connection a personal one. In addition to Seidner, members of the Hopkins Hilltoppers include Katharine Larsen, 16, of Milford; Gwyneth Maloy, 16, of New Haven; Philip Ross, 16, of Woodbridge; Evan Schott, 15, of New Haven; and Michael Zhu, 15, of Woodbridge.
Coming in second and third places were the “Wavecrushers” and “Swim Seventy +/-,” which recorded 5:58:37 and 6:00:09 respectively. This year’s marathon included four solo swimmers, 20 team relays of four to six swimmers, and four (4) two-person relays.

One other course record was broken in the name of cancer support, as well. "Brown Emergency Medicine," whose members are emergency room doctors at the Rhode Island Hospital Level I Trauma Center, broke the record for the Corporate Challenge Relay, coming in at seven hours, 40 minutes, and 17 seconds.
“Our motto is: ‘We want to crush cancer!’” offered Mike Hunihan, Brown Emergency Medicine team captain. “This event rocked—we want to make this a yearly deal! And for everyone who has cancer—keep fighting!”

Emotions ran high as swimmers arrived at Captain's Cove Seaport in the historic Black Rock neighborhood of Bridgeport:
- For Carlos Acosta, a 42 year old solo swimmer from Mexico City, completing this marathon brings him one step closer to qualifying to swim the English Channel. With his parents and aunt cheering him on from the docks, he emerged from the waters exhausted but ecstatic.

- Tom Casey, a stage 4 cancer survivor who swam with the "Survivors," inspired not only his teammates, but everyone on the docks who witnessed him triumphantly cross the finish line. The dockside crowd shared his tears of joy as he joined his teammates for a group photo. Casey has been swimming in the Marathon since 2002. He believed in the cause and felt privileged to use his interest and skills in swimming to help patients and their families who battle cancer and the many burdens it brings along with it. He never dreamed he would find himself on the other end of the battle himself. "The SWIM Across the Sound has a brand new meaning for me now. We just never know when we might find ourselves struggling for our lives."

- Led by Senator Richard Blumenthal, hundreds shouted words of encouragement to Marlon Meggie of the St. Vincent's Bullsharks, whose muscles had cramped, making the final approach incredibly painful. Determined to complete the marathon together, his teammates took turns flanking both his sides to help him cross the finish line.
Dozens of cancer survivors and their families were able to cruise aboard the "Spirit of the Sound" and watch the swimmers as they crossed Long Island Sound. The 64-foot catamaran was generously donated by the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk.

"This is the first year we were able to bring families out onto the water to see the swimmers in action and everyone loved it," shared Lyn McCarthy, executive director, St. Vincent's Medical Center Foundation, which sponsors the SWIM Across the Sound Marathon. “To see these families together, laughing and having a carefree time, knowing what they've survived, is very special.”
Since that first marathon raised $5,000 in 1987, the SWIM has grown into a series of year-round events. Each swimmer and team raised funds in order to participate in the SWIM, which offers a significant safety net to the region by providing one-on-one financial assistance to cancer patients regardless of where they receive their care.
“We encourage people living with cancer to focus their energy on maintaining their health. Let the SWIM help with the other day-to-day concerns - that’s what we’re here for,” McCarthy explained. “We owe a debt of gratitude to all of our swimmers, boat captains, crew, volunteers, and donors. It’s thanks to them that people fighting cancer, some without insurance or money for food, utilities, medications, or housing, now have somewhere to turn.”
St. Vincent’s SWIM Across the Sound provides cancer education, screening, and prevention programs at low- or no-cost for the uninsured and underinsured. In addition, the SWIM helps individual cancer patients on a case-by-case basis with specific needs, such as the funding of wigs and prostheses, payment of utilities or rent, medication assistance, free transportation to treatments and appointments, day-care scholarships, support groups and more. For more information on the SWIM, visit

Televised Mass returns to Cablevision
| July 28, 2015


HARTFORD—Viewers who have missed watching the Celebration of the Eucharist daily Television Mass for the past couple of years will be able to see it again every day of the week at 10 am on Cablevision’s Channel 84 serving Fairfield County.

Starting Sunday, July 26, 2015 the popular program returns to Cablevision on the Local Programming Channel, Channel 84, for half an hour Monday through Saturday and on Sunday for an hour that also includes news from the Office of Radio and Television (ORTV) of the Archdiocese of Hartford.

“This is wonderful news for the Diocese of Bridgeport,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano. “It will be a tremendous gift to the elderly, sick and infirm who cannot travel to Mass on Sunday.”

The bishop said he was deeply grateful to Father John Gatzak, executive director of ORTV for all of his efforts to bring the Mass back to Cablevision. Father Gatzak and the ORTV production team will also produce the live broadcast of the Synod Celebration Mass on Saturday, September 19, (broadcast details will be provided in the next issue of FCC).

“So many people who can’t get to church, whether they’re recovering from an operation or homebound because they don’t drive anymore, tell me how much they appreciate hearing the Good News of Jesus and feel reassured of God’s love for them by watching the Mass each day,” Father Gatzak says.

Now fragile seniors and shut-ins will have the consolation of faith available to them again. The Celebration of the Eucharist has aired every day since 1984, but was not available on Cablevision in recent years.

“We’re very happy to be again reaching our loyal viewers in Fairfield County,” says Father Gatzak, who will include priests from the Diocese of Bridgeport among the celebrants of the televised liturgy. “Bishop Caggiano plans to celebrate Mass on television in the near future.”

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

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

St. Peter Church says farewell to the end of an era: Reverend Monsignor Aniceto Villamide retires as Pastor
| July 27, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Reverend Monsignor Aniceto Villamide ended his pastoral mission as Pastor of St. Peter Church on June 30, 2015, after 30 years of service in the Dioceses of Bridgeport.

On Sunday, June 28, St. Peter Parish honored their pastor in a very special way.

Starting at 7:30 am, Monsignor was serenaded with the mañanitas sung by his parishioners, followed by a moment of prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament where everyone knelt and prayed for their Pastor. A special solemn Mass of Thanksgiving was offered for Monsignor Villamide.

The Mass was con-celebrated by several priests and deacons from our Dioceses and Washington. The church was filled to capacity with many faithful parishioners and friends, including some from as far as Florida, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and New York. They made presence to pray for this very special priest, a unique man, a man of faith, a man of God, and a holy priest.

During his homily, Monsignor thanked his parishioners for allowing him to walk with them the journey of faith for the past 30 years. The Apostolic Papal Blessing was presented to Monsignor by his parishioners, and the children of the parish also sung a very special song to him.

After the Mass, a reception took place in the church hall where Monsignor was received by a mariachi band and hundreds of parishioners and friends shared their love, support and well wishes to their very special Shepherd. A dinner reception also took place at Vazzano’s Four Seasons that evening.

St. Peter Parish honored and celebrated Monsignor Villamide’s life with a very special program that included dances, poems, songs, presentations, and gifts. This was a very emotional day for everyone, especially for Monsignor Villamide.

Monsignor Villamide is a true disciple and missionary of Christ. He is a priest chosen by God from all eternity to accomplish the mission of bringing his love and forgiveness to all men. He is a priest who has always given us his all. A priest who has radiated love, has sown peace, and has preached justice. A holy priest, who has led us towards God and has made his parish community to be fervent. Monsignor is a man of the Word of God, a man of the mystery of faith, and a witness and instrument of divine mercy.

Just like Peter, who was the rock of the first Christians, Monsignor Villamide has been the rock of St. Peter Church. He has led us with passion, conviction, and firmness; but more importantly, he has led us with faith, love, compassion, humility, and kindness.

We want him to know that his words and actions have led many in the right path. There is so much that he has done for our parish and for our Dioceses! Thanks to him, we know, appreciate and love our faith. He has inspired us by his good example and testimony of faith, his loyalty and dedication to his priesthood, his commitment and service to our parish, and his unquestionable love for the Church.

Monsignor Villamide has always guided us with the truth and the light of the Gospel. He showed us the love of God, which is an unconditional love. He has taught us to live in community, preached the Word of God to us, has brought us closer to the Eucharist, and has shown us how to love Jesus in a more profound and authentic way.

We want him to know that what he has sown has produced much fruit. St. Peter is a community of strong faith thanks to his hard work, commitment, and dedication. We have many people very well prepared with the ability to be good leaders in the Church thanks to his leadership. St. Peter is who it is today thanks to Monsignor Villamide. So, we don’t say goodbye to him, we say “THANK YOU”. Thank you Monsignor for all the good you have done for these past 30 years. We have been blessed for having you as our spiritual father and as our friend. We know that every stage in life must come to an end, and this is your time. Your presence among us will be deeply missed. You leave a great void in our hearts, and our parish will never be the same.

The Lord has blessed you with many gifts and talents, and you still have much to give to the Church. We know that God has plans for you in Spain. We give our beloved Pastor, Monsignor Aniceto Villamide our heartfelt thanks for being who he is, a unique human being, a faithful priest, and a holy priest. May God continue to bless you and may our Blessed Mother guide and protect you as you embark this new chapter in your life. We love you and we will miss you!! Your parishioners and friends.

Click to read in Spanish: Reverendo Monseñor Aniceto Villamide se Retira

Franciscan Action Network’s Patrick Carolan to be honored by White House
| July 24, 2015


WASHINGTON, DC—Today it was announced that Franciscan Action Network’s Executive Director Patrick Carolan is being honored by the White House as a “Champion of Change” for his climate change advocacy work with FAN and with the Global Catholic Climate Movement.

"I'm deeply honored and grateful for this recognition by the White House," remarked Carolan, "and I'm even more excited to share the honor with so many other great faith leaders working on the issue of climate. It is my hope that our efforts will help bring greater awareness to the urgent need of all people to address the climate crisis."

Inspired by the Gospel of Jesus, and the example of saints Francis and Clare, the Franciscan Action Network (FAN) is a collective Franciscan voice seeking to transform U.S. public policy related to peacemaking, care for creation, poverty, and human rights. You can find us on facebook and twitter.

Office of Communications
July 15, 2015

White House Honors Faith Leaders for Climate "Champions of Change"

WASHINGTON, DC—On Monday, July 20, the White House will recognize twelve people of faith as "Champions of Change" for their efforts in protecting our environment and communities from the effects of climate change. These Champions have demonstrated clear leadership across the United States and around the world through their grassroots efforts to green their communities and educate others on the moral and social justice implications of climate change. The program will feature remarks by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Senior Advisor to the President Brian Deese.

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The event will be live streamed on the White House website. To watch this event live, visit >< on Monday, July 20, at 2:00 pm ET. To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program, visit Follow the conversation at #WHChamps.

Patrick Carolan, Stratford, Connecticut—Patrick Carolan has been the Executive Director of the Franciscan Action Network (FAN) for five years. He has made climate change a core issue at FAN, and has built relationships with other faith and secular organizations in that role. Patrick co-founded the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM), a coalition of Catholic leaders and organizations from across the globe that have come together to raise awareness about the urgency of climate action in light of Catholic social and environmental teachings. Prior to coming to FAN, Patrick was involved in faith rooted social justice organizing. During the 1980's and early 1990's he served as a state employee union official, serving two terms as president. He and his wife Stella have been foster parents and have adopted two children in addition to having two children.

Call to Action - Rally to Defund Planned Parenthood - Tuesday July 28 - Stamford, CT
| July 23, 2015


See photos from Rally (taken by Michelle Babyak)

STAMFORD—Join with us, Tuesday, July 28, 2015 at Noon, for a rally at the Stamford CT Government Building.

Following the release of the undercover video that went viral this past week (, showing horrific revelations regarding Planned Parenthood and the sale of aborted baby body parts, a desire within many has been stirred to do something. Already, several states have called for investigations, and some have even defunded Planned Parenthood from taxpayer dollars, but not Connecticut, and more than half a billion dollars are still going to Planned Parenthood every year.

The question is what can be done. We have an answer.

We need to bring the power of the grassroots to Planned Parenthood. We need to stand up and show that we are sick of being forced to donate to Planned Parenhood through our tax dollars. If there is a chance that the abortion giant will be defunded from our tax dollars or that there will be a proper governmental investigation into the activites of this organization, prayer and witness will need to be increased. We are participating in the nationwide "Women Betrayed" rallies here in Stamford. These rallies are happening in dozens of cities across the country, all at the same time. And we need YOU to join us.

Our rally will be from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm, Tuesday, July 28 meeting at 888 Washiontone Blvd., Stamford, CT. Immediately following the rally volunteers are invited to bring these posters to stand outside of the Planned Parenthood office in Stamford.

This rally will be in conjunction with Pro-Life Future, Students for Life of America, volunteers from pro-life groups in our Diocese and volunteers from the Order of Malta CT. There will be more to come regarding on going prayer and witness.

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

PS. We have created a Facebook Event that we will be posting updates to. Please join the page and share it with friends at

Click to read media statement of Rally organizers

Father Peter DeMarco, 80, turned handicap into ministry
| July 22, 2015 • by By Pat Hennessy


BRIDGEPORT—Father Peter DeMarco, widely loved for his deep spirituality and for his ministry to the hearing impaired, died on July 20 in Bridgeport Hospital. He was 80 years old.

Born with a cleft palate leading to speech problems, and experiencing progressive hearing loss during adulthood, Father DeMarco turned what could have been an impediment into a beautiful asset to his ministry.

“God presents a lot of opportunities,” he said in 1988 during a day of recreation for deaf children at the Cardinal Shehan Center in Bridgeport. Moving comfortably among both the hearing and the deaf, “I can be a bridge between both worlds. I’ve never had any restrictions on me whatsoever.”

The Bridgeport native was born November 8, 1934, and attended Garfield elementary school and Fairfield Prep. He graduated from Fairfield University, where he learned sign language so he could volunteer at Mass for the hearing-impaired. He completed his theological studies at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Md., writing his thesis on teaching religion to the deaf.

Father DeMarco was ordained on May 21, 1960 in St. Augustine Cathedral by Bishop Lawrence Shehan, first Bishop of Bridgeport. His first parish assignment after ordination was at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown, followed by Sacred Heart Parish in Stamford.

In 1967, he was named the first full-time director of special education in the diocese. At that time, the office included special needs children and adults, and blind, deaf and hearing-impaired Catholics. He resided first at St. Raphael Parish in Bridgeport and then at Holy Family Parish in Fairfield.

In 1974 Father DeMarco was named pastor of St. Mary Parish in Bethel, a position he held for nearly a dozen years. He was a member of the first Priests’ Council in the Diocese of Bridgeport, a vicar for Vicariate V and a priest advisor to Juvenile Court.

In 1986, dealing with worsening hearing, he chose to leave St. Mary’s and became spiritual moderator for the special education office. In 1989, he was named diocesan moderator of the Ministry of the Deaf and Hearing-Impaired while taking an assignment as parochial vicar at St. Theresa Parish in Trumbull. In addition, in 1990, he served as temporary administrator of St. Gabriel Parish in Stamford.

Over the years he has been the spiritual advisor to the Cursillo movement, and leaves behind several meditative prayer groups that continue to meet to this day. Throughout his priesthood he continued to work with ministry to the deaf.

He was named parochial vicar of St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull in 1999, and retired to the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy Retired Priests’ Residence in 2006.

A wake for Father DeMarco will be held at the Abriola Parkview Funeral Home, 419 White Plains Rd., Trumbull, on Sunday, July 26, from 2-6 pm. The Mass for Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Theresa Parish, Trumbull, on Monday, July 27, at 11 am. Father Joseph Marcello, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull, will be the principal celebrant. Msgr. Nicholas Grieco will give the homily. Burial will follow in the family gravesite in St. Michael Cemetery in Stratford.

Father DeMarco is mourned by many family members and friends, who will miss his smile and gentle spirit.

Volunteers collect items for Project Homeless Connect Day
| July 17, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Today nearly 20 volunteers made up of religious, seminarians and lay faithful under the direction of Sr. Eileen Boffa, R.S.M. gathered at the Black Rock Senior Center in Bridgeport to pack nearly 400 backpacks with toiletries for the homeless, to be distributed next month at the August 4th Project Homeless Connect Day.

To learn more about this day long event visit:

Diocese signs up 250 for pilgrimage to Poland
| July 16, 2015 • by Jim Shay, Connecticut Post


BRIDGEPORT—More than 250 people have registered to take part in the Bridgeport Diocese’s pilgrimage to Krakow, Poland for World Youth Day next July.

Pope Francis waves from his popemobile along the Copacabana
beachfront on his way to celebrate Mass in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
Sunday, July 28, 2013. Hundreds of thousands of young people
slept under chilly skies in the white sand awaiting Francis’ final
Mass for World Youth Day.
Photo: Jorge Saenz / Associated Press

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano posted on his Facebook page that more than $200,000 in financial aid has also been awarded to help people make the trip to Poland next summer.

“There will be a second wave of financial aid awarded at the beginning of August, so I encourage all interested in coming with us to Krakow to apply,” he said.

The 12-day trip begins on Friday, July 22, 2016. The trip will also include a visit to the Auschwitz, the German concentration camp where millions lost their lives, including Saints Maximilian Kolbe, and Edith Stein. After stopping there, the group is hoping to make a brief stop in Wadowice, the home town of John Paul II. On July 27, the group will welcome Pope Francis to Krakow. The group will also attend a candlelight vigil and outdoor Mass with the pope.

“I can promise you that World Youth Day will be an incredible, life changing week, and one that you will never forget,” the bishop posted.

He encouraged young people who want to make the trip to register as soon as possible noting that no deposit has to be made until August 31.

Cassiano, who is serving as World Youth Day Liason for the U.S. bishops, spoke at the “Krakow Kickoff” on July 7 at the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C, aqccording to Fairfield County Catholic. He acknowledged that attending the global gathering in Poland next summer will have a cost—not only in money, but also in time and the hardships of traveling to a foreign country. Although anyone is welcome to attend, the event focuses on young people. Some 30,000 are expected to attend World Youth Day 2016 from the U.S., and the anticipated overall attendance is 2.5 million.

The diocese says while hotel and flight costs are still being negotiated, it has “a reasonable estimate” of $3,600 per person for the trip, including all transportation, lodging, WYD registration and many meals.

There are two catagories of “pilgrims;” those who are 16-18 years old as of July 20, 2016 and who will graduate high school in 2016 or will still be enrolled in high school in the 2016-2017 school year will be considered “Youth Pilgrims.” Those who are 18-35 years old as of July 20, 2016, and who have graduated high school in 2015 or before will be considered “Young Adult Pilgrims.:

Caggiano also announced that John Grosso, social media leader of the Diocese of Bridgeport, has been named the coordinator of World Youth Day for the diocese. He will work with our World Youth Day Committee to plan the details of the pilgrimage, future meetings, and pre-WYD formation, which will begin in January 2016. Grosso has posted a YouTube video to provide an update on the trip and the registration process.

Grosso said the diocese hopes to take 300 people on the pilgrimage.

Meanwhile, Caggiano is currently on pilgrimage to Italy visting holy sites in Sicily, Calabria, Bari, Campania and Rome “in a journey designed to celebrate the great saints of prior ages who are our inspiration and intercessors.”

He posted, “Pilgrimages are not meant to be vacations. They are meant to be times of sacrifice and prayer that help each pilgrim to attune themselves more deeply to the voice of God alive in their hearts. I very much enjoy the times of silence and reflection that pilgrimages have afforded me in the past and I pray for the grace to be able to offer these days in worship and praise of the Lord.”

Click here to read the original article at Connecticut Post.

Bishop Caggiano reflects on Immigration while on Pilgrimage in Italy
| July 15, 2015


ARGRIGENTO, ITALY—I am beginning the first full day of pilgrimage today here in Argrigento—a city located in the southern portion of Sicily, which includes the port city of Lampedusa where many immigrant refugees fleeing poverty and religious persecution in Africa make the dangerous crossing over the Mediterranean Sea to find hope and freedom in Italy.

It is the same city that was made famous by a recent visit by our Holy Father who wishes to draw the world’s attention to the plight of these refugees.

The origins of the city lie over 2,900 year ago. Argrigento was the first Greek outpost in what is now Sicily, established as a trading post. Its ruins are famous and some of the best preserved in all of Europe.

The fact that this city has been the home of immigrants for over three millennia provides us a powerful spiritual lesson. For in the end, are we not all immigrants, traveling on a spiritual journey from this life to the glory of eternity? Even though we may be rooted in a country for generations, those roots do not have lasting life. The only roots that matter are those that will give us the privilege to enjoy eternal life with the Lord in the glory of Heaven. Our lasting city is heaven, not any place on earth. As such, is it time for the peoples of the world to stop treating each other as enemies, somehow trespassing on each other’s territory and realize that we are all pilgrims, all immigrants, all travelers to a far greater land that is not our own.

Food pantry moves to larger space
| July 13, 2015 • by Keila Torres Ocasio, Stamford


STAMFORD—Tania Nilla reached the vegetable aisle and began examining her options.

Volunteer Richard Greene helps a customer shop in the food pantry
at the new New Covenant House of Hospitality in Stamford, Conn.
Sunday, July 7, 2015. New Covenant recently relocated from its
2,200 sq. ft. space in the basement of the Yearwood center to a new
8,000 sq. ft. building across the street. The facility includes
a state-of-the-art soup kitchen, spacious dining hall, food pantry,
and will soon have other amenities available for use like washers
and dryers, showers and a computer lab. Photo: Tyler Sizemore /
Hearst Connecticut Media Buy this photo

There were boxes of cucumbers, onions, cabbage and more lined side by side on the shelves.

She began placing items in shopping bags and putting them in her small shopping cart.

Several months ago, the shopping experience at the New Covenant House of Hospitality’s food pantry did not have the supermarket feel it now has, the Stamford resident noted.

Then, last month, New Covenant left its space in the basement of the Yerwood Center’s Fairfield Avenue building and moved its food pantry and soup kitchen into new leased space at 174 Richmond Hill Ave.

“It’s much better here,” Nilla said. “It’s clean. Everything is nice and organized. I like it.”

For more information about the New Covenant House of Hospitality visit To provide food or monetary donations, contact John Gutman at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or Betsy Lopez at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Click here to read the full story.

Sutherland mourned as a man who cared about the have-nots
| July 13, 2015 • by By John Burgeson, Connecticut Post


MONROE—About 225 people were in the St. Jude Roman Catholic Church Monday morning to bid farewell to Kevin Sutherland, 24, a former intern to U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4, who was the victim of a senseless knife attack on a Washington, D.C., subway platform on July 4.

Terry and Doug Sutherland speak to Monsignor Dariusz Zielonka
after the Funeral services for their son Kevin Joseph Sutherland.
The funeral was held at St. Jude Church, Monroe, CT on Monday,
July 13, 2015. Kevin Sutherland was a former intern for U.S.
Representative Jim Himes. Photo: Mark Conrad / For Hearst Connecticut Media

“Many people say that no parent should ever have to bury a child, but from the moment that parents decide to start a family, they know that the perils of a dangerous world are all around them, and they are constantly in fear that the natural course of events could be disturbed,” said Sutherland’s father, Douglas, who delivered the eulogy.

“Kevin had a pure heart,” Douglas said, his voice choking with tears at times. “He was a sensitive young man, and he had the ability to feel the pain of others.”

The father said that his son’s political pursuits “were to make this place a better world,” and not for self gain. “Kevin’s life’s work was to fight prejudice of any kind, to fight poverty, to fight for equality, to fight for justice, to fight for a better environment and simply to fight for a more perfect union.”

Monsignor Dariusz Zielonka, who delivered the homily, said he was moved by the parents’ desire to grant forgiveness, even in the depths of their sorrow.

“That means everything to me, because it means that their love is pure and perfect — a selfless, forgiving love that will make our world a better place,” he said. “They are leading us through this tragedy.”

Zielonka described Sutherland as a man who deeply loved his country and eagerly followed Pope Francis. “In his short but beautiful life, he touched so many people in a positive way,” he said.

Through a spokeswoman, Sutherland’s parents, Douglas and Theresa, said that they were encouraged by the news that Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Friday signed into law a measure that provides harsh new penalties for businesses that sell synthetic drugs. It’s believed that the suspect in the Fourth of July knife attack, Jasper Spires, 18, may have been high on synthetic marijuana at the time.

Experts say that the drugs, often packaged to look like other products, can contribute to violent, erratic behavior and an altered mental state.

“They feel that, with hope, so good can come of this,” said the spokeswoman, Elizabeth Carlson.

Sutherland was born in Bridgeport on April 8, 1991. He was a member of the Trumbull High School class of 2009 and was graduated with a bachelor’s degree from American University in 2013.

In addition to his parents, he is survived by two uncles, Michael Bevacqua and his wife Alberina of Stratford, and Joseph Sutherland of Raleigh, NC; his cousins, Steven Bevacqua of Lake Balboa, California, Lisa Bevacqua and her wife Catherine Proto of Stratford and their children, Ryan and Owen. Rep. Himes was among those in attendance.

Considering WYD 2016 in Poland? Here's what one bishop wants you to know
| July 10, 2015 • by By Matt Hadro, CNA/EWTN News


WASHINGTON D.C.—For those pilgrims thinking about participating in World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, Poland, Bishop Frank Caggiano has a message: It will be worth the sacrifice.

World Youth Day pilgims take part in a flashmob dance
at the beginning of the closing Mass June 28, 2013.
Credit: Michelle Bauman/CNA.

The Bridgeport prelate, who is serving as World Youth Day Liason for the U.S. bishops, acknowledged that attending the global gathering in Poland next summer will have a cost—not only in money, but also in time and the hardships of traveling to a foreign country.

However, he told CNA, “it is in the sacrifice that you intimately meet the Lord.” Upon reaching Krakow, the fruits of the sacrifice are seen: “that you’re in solidarity, that there are millions like you who are making the same sacrifice.”

“I think one of the great debilitations of contemporary life for young people, and those of us older, is that we ask ourselves: are we the only ones doing this? Who else out there thinks faith matters?” he remarked

But when at World Youth Day, “you stand with two and a half million people, young people. Then you have your answer. Faith is very much alive, and you’re never alone doing it.”

Bishop Caggiano spoke to CNA after the “Krakow Kickoff” event held July 7 at the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C.

“I invite every Catholic young person, every Catholic young adult, every leader in our Church to come together and embark with me on this great pilgrimage of faith and mercy,” the bishop told those gathered at the shrine.

World Youth Day is an international pilgrimage of young people from around the world, which includes opportunities for catechesis, prayer, sacraments, song, and fellowship. The event culminates with a prayer vigil and Mass with the Pope.

Instituted by St. John Paul II in 1985, the international gatherings are held every 2-3 years and have drawn crowds of up to 5 million. World Youth Day 2016 will be held next year in Krakow, Poland from July 26-31. The theme will be “Blessed Are the Merciful.”

Although anyone is welcome to attend, the event focuses on young people. Some 30,000 are expected to attend World Youth Day 2016 from the U.S., and the anticipated overall attendance is 2.5 million.

Bishop Caggiano sees World Youth Day 2016 as an invitation for all young people to encounter Christ’s transformative mercy. He told CNA that he hopes attendees “have two experiences.”

The first, he said, is “that they themselves will be touched somewhere deep inside of them. That in the part of their heart which is still perhaps secret, in a part of their lives which they may still be embarrassed at what has happened and what they did, where they still wonder whether God can love them, knowing what they know – that part of what will happen is they’ll be touched and realize that God knew it all along and still loves them.”

“And equally important, so what they have gotten, they give away,” he added. “To love and not expect something in return. Only someone who has experienced mercy can give mercy that way.”

The bishop encouraged those who will attend World Youth Day to start their spiritual preparation now through prayer and service. He suggested that they reflect on Jesus’ Transfiguration, and act as if they were climbing the mountain now with Peter, James and John to see Christ transfigured at the top.

For the three apostles, the Transfiguration of Jesus began the “rest of their life of faith,” he said. In a similar way, by making the pilgrimage and encountering God’s mercy at World Youth Day, young people today can be transformed and begin a new chapter in their life of faith as well.

It is “essential” that bishops, priests, and religious attend, but especially that bishops travel with pilgrims from their respective dioceses, Bishop Caggiano added.

“The young people, young adults, relate to them as spiritual fathers,” he said. “The bishop is the sign of unity and almost the symbol, sacramentally, of the Father’s love for his people.”

“Everybody needs to be a part of that too, but the bishop being there is tremendous, it’s a gift.”

Youth Choir Rehearsals
| July 10, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—In addition to enjoying their summer vacations, some young people throughout the diocese are also busy at rehearsals for the Diocesan Youth Choir.

Formed by Bishop Caggiano this Spring, the youth choir now numbers 77 young men and women throughout Fairfield County.

Youth Choir director Mary Bozzuti Higgins of Wilton, a noted opera singer and choir director, has been leading rehearsals at sites throughout the area to accommodate young people and their families. The choir will debut at the Synod Closing Mass at Webster Bank Arena on Saturday September 19 in Bridgeport. The young people will also be featured in a special Christmas Concert in December. For more information visit:

Families need prayers, mercy, courage, including from synod, pope says
| July 07, 2015 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador—Even if a pastoral proposal for helping a Catholic family with problems seems scandalous at first, it is possible God could use that proposal to bring healing and holiness, Pope Francis said.

Encouraging and celebrating family life during a Mass July 6 in Guayaquil, Pope Francis asked people to pray for the October Synod of Bishops on the family, and he tied the synod to the Jubilee of Mercy, a yearlong celebration that will begin in December.

The synod will be a time for the church to “deepen her spiritual discernment and consider concrete solutions to the many difficult and significant challenges facing families in our time,” the pope said.

Celebrating Mass with as many as one million people gathered under the hot sun in Los Samanes Park, Pope Francis asked them “to pray fervently for this intention, so that Christ can take even what might seem to us impure, scandalous or threatening, and turn it—by making it part of his ‘hour’—into a miracle. Families today need this miracle!”

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters Pope Francis was not referring to any specific proposal discussed in anticipation of the synod; one of the most common—and most debated pastoral suggestions—was to develop a process or “penitential path” for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics who want to receive Communion but have not received an annulment.

The pope, Father Lombardi said, hopes the synod “will find a way to help people move from a situation of sin to a situation of grace.”

Pope Francis acknowledged the suffering and hope of young people who do not experience happiness and love at home, the “many women, sad and lonely,” who wonder how their love “slipped away,” and the elderly who feel cast aside.

In a family, “no one is rejected; all have the same value,” he said, telling the crowd that when he asked his own mother which of her five children she loved best, she would say that they were like her five fingers: all were important and if one finger was hurt, the pain would be the same as if another finger was hurt.

The Gospel reading at the Mass recounted the story of the wedding feast at Cana where the wine ran out and Mary asked Jesus to do something about it. Jesus turned water into wine.

Despite the 90-degree heat, the 78-year-old pope was upbeat during the Mass and confident—even cheerful and playful—in his homily about the family.

The joy of the wedding feast at Cana, he said, began when Mary was attentive to the needs of others “and acted sensibly and courageously.”

“Mary is not a ‘demanding’ mother, a mother-in-law who revels in our lack of experience, our mistakes and the things we forget to do,” he said. “Mary is a mother! She is there, attentive and concerned."

As with the guests at the Cana wedding, who were offered the finest wine at the end of the celebration, Pope Francis insisted, so, too, for families today “the richest, deepest and most beautiful things are yet to come.”

“The time is coming when we will taste love daily, when our children will come to appreciate the home we share and our elderly will be present each day in the joys of life,” he said. “The finest of wines will come for every person who stakes everything on love.”

Pope Francis said he knows “all the variables and statistics which say otherwise,” but “the best wine is yet to come for those who today feel hopelessly lost.”

Speeding up his delivery and increasing his volume, the pope made “the best wine is yet to come” into a litany. “Say it until you are convinced of it,” he told the crowd. “The best wine is yet to come.”

“Whisper it to the hopeless and the loveless,” the pope urged.

The whole story of God’s involvement with humanity, he said, demonstrates that he always seeks out those on the margins of society, “those who have run out of wine, those who drink only of discouragement.”

Jesus, he said, will provide flasks of the finest wine “for those who, for whatever reason, feel that all their jars have been broken.”

Strong families, he said, help build strong individuals and strong societies. They are the place where “our hearts find rest in strong, fruitful and joyful love.” Families teach people to be attentive to the needs of others and to place those needs ahead of one's own.

“Service is the sign of true love,” he said.

When the church asks governments to assist families, he said, it is not asking for "alms," but rather payment of the "social debt" societies owe to families.

St. Joseph High School to Induct Honorees into Athletics Hall of Fame
| July 07, 2015


TRUMBULL—The St Joseph High School Athletic Hall of Fame 2015 Induction Ceremony will be held on Saturday, September 26, 2015 at 6 pm, at St. Joseph High School in Trumbull.

The ceremony recognizes nine outstanding individuals and one team who were nominated for performing with distinction or having been instrumental in the overall development and success of athletics at St. Joseph High School.

Mr. Christy Hayes—Coach Hayes graciously accepted his Hall of Fame nomination and will be recognized with this year’s 2015 Hall of Fame Class and will receive his award at the next Hall of Fame induction ceremony which will be scheduled for September 2017. Coach Hayes football coaching career included five State Championships in varsity football with 103 victories. Coach earned one State Championship while coaching girls’ varsity basketball and had a career record of 150 wins to 25 losses in girls basketball. Coach Hayes also coached varsity baseball during his tenure and finished with 120 victories and one FCIAC Championship. Coach Hayes was inducted into the CT HS Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2014.

Mr. George Green
In November of 2010, Coach Green was inducted into the Connecticut Volleyball Hall of Fame. He coached volleyball for 32 years at St. Joe’s and compiled a 538-188 all-time record. His 538 wins earned him a place in Connecticut high school volleyball history. Coach Green brought home five State Championships during 1984, 1989, 1991, 1992 and 1997. His record includes 14 league championships. Coach Green also earned a State Championship in tennis during his coaching career at St. Joe’s.

Mr. Jim Driggs ’68—Known for being Captain of three SJ teams in 1968 including Football, Baseball and Basketball, Mr. Driggs scored the legendary first varsity football touchdown in school history against Crosby High School of Waterbury in an 8-0 victory. He also scored the first winning touchdown over Trumbull High School and was named the MVP of that Thanksgiving Day game. As Basketball Captain, he set scoring records in both his junior and senior years and was the third leading scorer in the metro Bridgeport area. During Baseball he lettered for three years and started as a short stop.

Mr. Rick DiCicco ’73
Basketball is what Rick DiCicco is known for at St. Joe’s. He was a leading scorer with 1,666 points and leading rebounder with 1210 rebounds. He also had 433 rebounds in one season which is a record at St. Joe’s. He received All American Recognition during his basketball career and was All State in 1972 and 1973.

Mr. Mike DellaVecchia ’80
Mr. DellaVecchia was both Captain of Football in 1979 and Baseball in 1980. As a quarterback in 1979 he made all MBIAC, 2nd All State, and MBIAC Player of the Year. While Mr. DellaVecchia was Captain of baseball from 1979-1980 he was awarded all MBIAC, All State, MBIAC Player of the year and was part of the 1980 State Championship team. In 1980 he was named St. Joseph High School Male Athlete of the Year. Mr. DellaVecchia continued with baseball at Fairfield University and was Captain of their baseball team in 1984.

Mr. William Kurtz ’84
Mr. Bill Kurtz is remembered for his leadership as a student athlete. He was Captain of the football team in 1983 and Captain of the baseball team in 1983. During his four years at St. Joe’s, our football team was at 42-2, which included four State Championships. Mr. Kurtz continued onto Northeastern University where he was Captain of the football team, which at the time was 3rd in all of New England.

Miss Christine DellaVecchia ’09
Miss DellaVecchia has an amazing sports history at St Joseph High School. She was the Girls Varsity Basketball Captain in 2008 and 2009 as well as Captain of Girls Varsity Softball in 2009. For 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 she was All State for Softball and All FCIAC for Softball in 2007, 2008 and 2009. She holds the most hits record and stolen bases for her career and seasons at St Joe’s. She was named a Gatorade Player of the Year Finalist. She was also basketball All State in 2008, 2009, All FCIAC in 2008 and 2009 as well as a Connecticut Post Super 15 All Star in 2007, 2008, 2009. Miss DellaVecchia was the St Joseph High School Female Athlete of the Year in 2009. She continued with her softball career at UMASS as a three year starter and Captain of the softball team.

Mrs. Michelle Pagliaro Haywood ’90
Mrs. Haywood was All-state in three sports her senior year; volleyball, basketball, and softball. She was the only female athlete in the state to be all-state in those three sports at that time. She also captained all three of those sports her senior year. She was USA Today’s CT Female Athlete of the Year in 1989-1990. She scored her 1000 point in basketball and a total of 1159 points in her career. Her volleyball team won the state championship and ACC in 1989-1990. She was the first junior in St. Joe’s history to be Captain of a softball team. She was recently inducted into the Brown University Athletic Department Hall of Fame competing in basketball and softball for the Bears.

Mr. Thomas Roach—Mr Roach was a constant fixture at St. Joe’s for more than 30 years. During his tenure he served as head Coach of Golf, Baseball and Softball, as well as assistant Basketball coach. After leaving the coaching ranks Mr Roach continued to serve SJ Athletics in many capacities. Two decades of St. Joseph Athletes and Coaches always find comfort in seeing Mr. Roach on the sidelines. Mr. Roach also held positions in Administration at St. Joe’s as Dean of Students and Assistant Principal...and will go down in history as the "best bus driver at St. Joe’s ever!”

The 1982 St. Joseph High School Football Team will be inducted as a team. They were the 1982 State Champions and the Number One team in Connecticut. The team was ranked #3 in New England, held a school record 30 game winning streak, and were the third team of five consecutive state champions.

St. Anthony Parishioners visit Bethel AME in Bridgeport, a Sister Church to Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston
| July 05, 2015


FAIRFIELD—Fr. John Baran and a group of 12 St. Anthony of Padua Parishioners in Fairfield demonstrated their prayer solidarity with the victims and families of the Charleston shootings when they attended a prayer service last week at Bethel AME in Bridgeport, sister Church to Charleston AME.

Many faith communities came together at the service to express their sorrow and pray for unity. “We were there to show support, to offer comfort, to companion in grief, but what unfolded was an event that was beyond what we could have imagined,” writes Fr. Baran, pastor.

Click below to read Dr. Eleanor Sauers’s moving account of the evening found in the St. Anthony Parish Bulletin.


Dear Parishioners,

There is a remarkable congregation on Grove Street in neighboring Bridgeport, the members of Bethel AME Church, a church that welcomed faith communities from Bridgeport and beyond last Wednesday evening, to join them in expressing the profound sorrow felt by all at the vicious attack on a gathering of the faithful the week before in the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Among those gathered were people of various ethnicities and faiths, including at least twelve parishioners of St. Anthony’s Parish. All were warmly welcomed, invited to take a seat and handed a program. The worship space was different from ours, yet it felt comfortable and inviting. We were there to show support, to offer comfort, to companion in grief, but what unfolded was an event that was beyond what we could have imagined.

The liturgy, beautifully arranged, began with the Rev. Bernadette Hickman-Maynard, co-pastor of the church, calling us to worship. With her natural grace and her Harvard-trained preaching skills, she spoke eloquently of the need to build bridges, across faiths, across racial divides, bridges to the future. The opening hymn followed, led by Rev. Bernadette’s husband and co-pastor, Rev. Dr. Teddy Hickman-Maynard and choir (two women who rocked the church). The hymn was composed a few days following the tragedy. It is entitled, “They Met to Read the Bible,” and all present joined in the singing. There were prayers of invocation, calling of the names of the Emanuel Nine, prayers of healing, and prayers for justice, all interspersed with short hymns, reverently and universally sung.

All seventeen clergy present, ministers, rabbis and imams offered prayers or reflections. It was an outstanding moment of ministerial collaboration. The entire evening was memorable, but a few moments deserve special mention. Rabbi Prosnit, Senior Rabbi from Congregation B’nai Israel, began his prayer with “Disturb me, O Lord…wrest me from my complacency,” at which everyone sat up and took notice. Praying for disturbance...not for peace of mind...what kind of prayer is this? While trying to digest this plea to move us from compassion to action, another member of the clergy prayed for the shooter and his family...some in the congregation murmured “amen” and “that’s right,” while many of us sat mesmerized, amazed at the expression of forgiveness by a people who struggle on a daily basis to be accepted for who they are, without regard to the color of their skin.

And then, after the scripture readings, the prayers and reflections, when it seemed that nothing could bind the assembly more than what had already occurred, it happened. All were invited to stand and sing once more the hymn that bound many of us together so many years ago, in the Civil Rights Movement, and again in the anti-war movement in the 1970s, “We Shall Overcome,” all five verses, sung vigorously by all present, white and black, Latino and Asian, Muslim, Jewish and Christian hands all joined, swaying and singing loudly the words that “we shall live in peace someday.”

The tears flowed as we realized that we were still singing this more than forty years later…and we asked ourselves, when are things going to change?

Last Wednesday evening was a memorial for those who gave their lives in Charleston, but in another way it was a celebration of humanity, a rebuttal of what was intended by the rampage in South Carolina. What had been sown were the seeds of peace, of understanding, of solidarity, not of division.

As we left the church, we met a woman, another minister, who engaged us in conversation. She had lost a sister to a drive-by shooting over twenty-five years ago, as she sat on her front porch.

The minister said to us, “We have to get together.” As we drove away, the meaning of her words became clear...we have to get together and move away from what divides us toward what we have in common. The evening’s words had been stirring, the music echoed in our hearts, the message permeated our very bones. We would return home different from when we arrived. We had been disturbed.

As we celebrate the Fourth of July this weekend it seems appropriate that we once again declare our independence from what holds us captive. Let us resolve this Independence Day to declare our freedom from prejudice, from prejudging others and from our pre-conceived notions of other races, faiths and cultures. Let us celebrate our common humanity, our common dependence upon God, and our common desire for peace.

Let us be as we were on that Wednesday evening at the Bethel AME Church-- a community of disciples, partakers of the eternal banquet, a vision of the Kingdom of God.

Faith, Freedom and the Founding Fathers
| July 04, 2015 • by By Jay Copp, Register Correspondent


Catholic Churches Have Witnessed to Religious Liberty

PHILADELPHIA—As the Fourth of July nears, crowds swell at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, and the nearby Liberty Bell.

But just three blocks away is another powerful symbol of freedom—religious freedom. An active parish, small, modest-but-stately Old St. Joseph’s Church was a cradle of Catholicism in America.

Oddly, there is no public façade or street entrance to Old St. Joseph’s, tucked away in narrow Willings Alley. Early church leaders deliberately kept a low profile to avoid antagonizing the non-Catholic majority. Prudent priests quietly went about the city in Quaker garb.

The church was erected in 1733. William Penn, the founder of the colony of Pennsylvania, had decreed religious toleration, a freedom not granted by the other colonies. For 80 years, Old St. Joseph’s was the only Catholic church for Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. In fact, for many years, it was the only place in the English-speaking world where the Mass could be legally celebrated.

Just a block from the historic church is Old St. Mary’s, another Catholic church that flourished despite anti-Catholic sentiment and even strengthened the ties between Catholics and leaders of the new nation.

As leader of the Continental Army, George Washington and other members of the Continental Congress attended Mass here in 1776, as a sign of respect to Catholics and to France and Spain, Catholic nations that supported the war against the English.

A sign of the growing pluralism of the American experiment in democracy, St. Mary’s hosted the first public religious commemoration of the Declaration of Independence. Its adjoining cemetery is testament to the role of Catholics in the struggle for freedom. Many of the inscriptions on the weathered gravestones have been worn away by time. But buried here are Commodore John Barry, the father of the U.S. Navy; Thomas Fitzsimons, a signer of the Constitution; and Stephen Moylan, Washington’s aide-de-camp.

St. Mary’s was built in 1763, enlarged in 1810 and renovated in 1963. The church was the cathedral of the diocese from 1810 to 1838. Located in the fashionable Society Hill neighborhood, the church blends into its surroundings, with its red-brick façade and white doors. There is no soaring cross or steeple at this active parish. During the day, the empty interior is a wonderfully hushed, dark and deeply reverent space.

The past is part of the present at Old St. Mary’s. The baptismal font dates from 1791. The brass chandeliers once hung in Independence Hall. Renowned sculptor William Rush carved the crucifix, and Thomas Walter, who designed the Capitol in Washington, helped craft the organ.

In colonial days, St. Mary’s parishioners showed a robust attachment to their faith. The Unitarian John Adams, later to become the second U.S. president, wrote to his wife, Abigail: “The music, consisting of an organ and a choir of singers, went all the afternoon, except sermon time, and the assembly chanted most sweetly and exquisitely. Here is everything that can lay hold of the eye, ear and imagination, everything which can charm and bewitch the simple and ignorant. I wonder how [Martin] Luther ever broke the spell.”

St. Mary Cemetery dates from 1759. The cemetery grounds are higher than street level: Graves from various eras are layered. Rich and poor were laid to rest here. Yellow-fever plagues periodically ravaged the city in the 18th century, and its victims were buried here. Also entombed here are some of the family members of Michael Bouvier, the great-great-grandfather of Jacqueline Kennedy.

Old St. Joseph’s predates Old St. Mary’s by 30 years. It was enlarged in 1821 and rebuilt in 1838. The strategy of priests to keep a low profile apparently paid dividends over time. Protestant mobs torched churches during the anti-Catholic Nativist Riots of 1844, but Old St. Joseph’s was spared.

Writer Agnes Repplier once described Old St. Joseph’s as “a church as carefully hidden away as a martyr’s tomb in the catacombs.” Its humble exterior is matched by its simple interior, a place not to gawk at, but to pray and worship. But worth noting are the dramatic painting of the Crucifixion behind the altar and the lovely, sweeping balcony.

The history of Old St. Joseph’s is rich with drama. After authorities in Maryland clamped down on Catholics, Jesuits established a foothold in Pennsylvania and neighboring states by founding St. Joseph’s Church. The faith blossomed. By 1785, the future Bishop John Carroll proudly reported to Rome that 1,000 Catholics lived in Philadelphia. Catholics finally had a toehold in the United States.

To walk into Old St. Joseph’s is to walk in the history of Catholics in the new nation and to understand their hard-won assimilation in an unwelcoming land.

The pastor during the Revolutionary War, Jesuit Father Robert Molyneux, was the father of Catholic publishing: The first Catholic prayer books in America were published under his direction. When the 1793 yellow-fever epidemic killed 10% of Philadelphians, Jesuit Father Leonard Neale established the first Catholic orphanage in the new nation. The parish was a refuge for persecuted populations, whether they were Irish, Italian or black. In 1848, the church began the St. Joseph’s Society for the Relief of Irish Immigrants. Four years later, church leaders made plans for St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzzi, the nation’s first Italian national parish. Blacks were welcome at St. Joseph’s from its earliest years. In 1859, a school for black children was begun. The school eventually was supported by St. Katharine Drexel, a Philadelphia native.

In its attractive, sunny courtyard, Old St. Joseph’s honors its past with a plaque that pays tribute to William Penn and his guarantee of religious freedom.

But it took generations of regular Catholic families, whose names are unknown to history, to take advantage of that freedom by practicing their faith and paving the way for the religious freedom we often take for granted today.

Brookfield girl struck and killed by car “a wonderful, wonderful person”
| July 04, 2015 • by By Rob Ryser from The News-Times


DANBURY—The Diocese of Bridgeport extends its deepest sympathy and condolences to the family of Rebecca Draper Townsend who was struck and killed by an automobile in Danbury on Thursday evening.

Rebecca, 17, was a 2015 graduate of Immaculate High School. Principal Joe Carmen has described her as a "deeply caring and wonderful person."

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has asked Catholics throughout the Diocese to remember Rebecca and the Draper and Townsend families in their prayer.

The 17-year-old Brookfield girl struck and killed by car while crossing Lake Avenue Thursday night was described as a joyful and giving youth who cared about other people’s welfare.

Rebecca Draper Townsend had just graduated from Immaculate High School in Danbury.

“She was a wonderful, wonderful person,” said Immaculate High School Principal Joe Carmen.

Townsend was crossing the street with a classmate near the entrance of Western Connecticut State University’s Westside Campus shortly after 9 pm when they were struck by a car.

The friend, Benjamin Arne, 17, of New Fairfield, was recovering Friday in serious but stable condition at Danbury Hospital, police said. Arne had also just graduated from Immaculate High School.

Townsend founded the Immaculate chapter of a charity for third world girls called She’s the First. The charity sponsors girls’ education in low-income countries, giving them the chance to become the first in their families to graduate from secondary school.

Carmen said the school was in contact with Townsend family members and was discussing what it could do to support them.

Details about the accident have not been released.

Police said Krista Consalva, 23, of Brookfield was driving a 2007 Hyundai Elantra west on Lake Avenue Extension between the Stop & Shop parking lot and Stanziato’s pizza when the car struck the teenagers.

Witnesses are encouraged to call police officer Lance Brevard or Marcel Kruijis at 203.797.2156.

National Shrine Pilgrimage rescheduled
| July 01, 2015


Please read Bishop Caggiano’s statement:

BRIDGEPORT—“A few months ago, Pope Francis declared an extraordinary Holy Year entitled a ‘Jubilee of Mercy’.

It will begin on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8, 2015) and conclude on the Feast of Christ the King (November 26, 2016). The Jubilee will ask all Catholics to accept and live Christ’s call of mercy for all those who are in need, lost or struggling in their lives.

Unlike former Holy Year observances, the Jubilee of Mercy will be lived in a unique way throughout the world, insofar as the Holy Father is asking every Diocese to sponsor the same events for the Jubilee among its own people as will be celebrated in Rome. Specifically, this means that the Cathedral of Saint Augustine will have its own holy door for pilgrims who will travel to the Cathedral to pray for themselves and their intentions. To that end, I am pleased to announce that our Diocesan Holy Door will be sealed on the morning of the Synod Mass, during the closing prayer service that will precede the procession with the statue of Our Lady to the Webster Arena. The diocesan holy door will be formally blessed and opened during a solemn celebration of Mass at 7:30 pm on December 8, 2015. More details about this special celebration will be made available at the end of the summer.
One of the Jubilee celebrations that the Holy Father is asking each Diocese to sponsor is a pilgrimage. As you know, we had scheduled a Synod pilgrimage to the National Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on October 24, 2015, in order to consecrate our Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Given the fact that we are now being asked also to sponsor a diocesan pilgrimage during the Jubilee of Mercy, I have decided to postpone the Synod pilgrimage to Saturday, November 5, 2016. This will avoid the need to sponsor two major pilgrimages in less than one year. The pilgrimage will also now conclude the Jubilee of Mercy and give thanks to the Lord for the first fruits of the implementation of the Synod.
While the pilgrimage is delayed, we cannot delay our diocesan consecration to Our Lady. As a result, I will consecrate our Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the conclusion of the Synod Mass that will take place on September 19, 2015 at 11 am. Our diocesan consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus will remain part of pilgrimage on November 5, 2016.
May the Jubilee of Mercy help heal whatever bitterness, anger or resentment we harbor in our hearts and transform us into Christ’s missionaries of healing and hope in a very troubled world.”

Pope’s visits to Cuba, U.S. to highlight families, charity, tolerance
| July 01, 2015 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—In word and deed, Pope Francis will take his vision of a Catholic’s approach to family life, parish life, charity, economics, immigration and good governance to Cuba and the United States during a September 19-27 visit.

Visiting both Cuba and the United States on the same trip not only acknowledges his role in encouraging detente between them, but will give Pope Francis an opportunity to demonstrate that while different political and cultural challenges face Catholics in both countries, the Gospel and its values are the same.

On June 30, the Vatican published the detailed schedule of Pope Francis’ September 19-22 visit to Cuba and his September 22-27 visit to the United States.

For Pope Francis, one of the key values Catholics in the U.S. and Cuba share is the obligation to “go out,” proclaiming the Gospel and bringing God’s mercy to the poorest and most disadvantaged people.

The standard of living in the United States may be exponentially higher than in Cuba, but in Pope Francis’ vision that only increases the responsibility of U.S. Catholics to reach out and to share. He will demonstrate what he means when he meets homeless people in Washington September 24, children and immigrant families at a Catholic school in Harlem when he visits New York September 25, and prisoners September 27 in Philadelphia.

The closing Mass for the World Meeting of Families will follow the papal meeting with prisoners. The World Meeting of Families international congress September 22-25 and the celebration of families with the pope September 26-27 were the initial reason for the papal visit.

With the Catholic Church’s constant concern for promoting strong families and with the world Synod of Bishops on the family set to start one week after the papal visit, marriage and family life are expected to be topics throughout the pope's visit to both Cuba and the United States.

Long before the Vatican released the full trip itinerary, it had confirmed certain parts of it: U.S. President Barack Obama will welcome the pope to the White House September 23; that afternoon, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and canonize Blessed Junipero Serra; the pope will address a joint meeting of Congress September 24, becoming the first pope to do so; and Pope Francis will address the U.N. General Assembly September 25. It is thought the pope may bring up some of the points he made in his recent environmental encyclical, “Laudato Si’,” given that world nations will come together just a few months later for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in the hopes of reaching global agreement on reducing greenhouse gases.

The pope also is expected to emphasize the contributions of U.S. Catholics to society, defend religious liberty and support the church's right to uphold its teaching, including in its employment practices. He will use his visit to ground zero in New York as an occasion for an interreligious gathering.

The pope will spend three days in Cuba visiting three different cities, including the popular Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre.

He will hold the usual meetings with President Raul Castro, young people, families and religious as well as celebrate Mass and vespers all three days. But he also will bless the cities of Holguin and Santiago de Cuba—blessing Holguin from a panoramic hilltop and pilgrimage site called Cross Hill.

It will be his third visit to the Americas after Brazil in 2013 and Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay in July, and his 10th trip abroad since his election in 2013.

Here is the schedule for the trip. All times are local unless otherwise indicated.

Saturday, September 19 (Rome, Havana)

-- 10:15 am (4:15 a.m. EDT), Departure from Rome's Fiumicino airport for Havana.

-- 4:05 pm Arrival ceremony at Havana's Jose Marti International Airport. Speech by pope.

Sunday, September 20 (Havana)

-- 9 am Mass in Havana's Revolution Square. Homily by pope. Recitation of the Angelus.

-- 4 pm Courtesy visit with Cuba's President Raul Castro in Havana's Palace of the Revolution.

-- 5:15 pm Celebration of vespers with priests, religious and seminarians in Havana's cathedral. Homily by pope.

-- 6:30 pm Greeting to young people at the Father Felix Varela cultural center in Havana. Remarks by pope.

Monday, September 21 (Havana, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba, El Cobre)

-- 8 am Departure by air for Holguin, Cuba.

-- 9:20 am Arrival at Holguin's Frank Pais International Airport.

-- 10:30 am Mass in Holguin's Revolution Square. Homily by pope.

-- 3:45 pm Blessing of the city of Holguin from Cross Hill (Loma de la Cruz).

-- 4:40 pm Departure by air for Santiago de Cuba.

-- 5:30 pm Arrival at Santiago de Cuba's Antonio Maceo International Airport.

-- 7 pm Meeting with bishops at the seminary of St. Basil the Great in El Cobre.

-- 7:45 pm Prayer to Our Lady of Charity with bishops and the papal entourage in the Minor Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre.

Tuesday, September 22 (El Cobre, Santiago de Cuba, Washington)

-- 8 am Mass in the Minor Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre. Homily by pope.

-- 11 am Meeting with families in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Assumption in Santiago de Cuba. Speech by pope. Blessing of the city from the outside of the cathedral.

-- 12:15 pm Farewell ceremony at Santiago de Cuba's International Airport.

-- 12:30 pm Departure for Washington.

-- 4 pm Arrival at Andrews Air Force Base. Official welcome.

Wednesday, September 23 (Washington)

-- 9:15 am Welcoming ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. Speech by pope, followed by a courtesy visit with Obama.

-- 11:30 am Meeting with U.S. bishops in the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. Speech by pope.

-- 4:15 pm Mass and canonization of Blessed Junipero Serra in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Homily by pope.

Thursday, September 24 (Washington, New York)

-- 9:20 am Visit to the U.S. Congress. Speech by pope.

-- 11:15 am Visit to St. Patrick's Catholic Church and meeting with homeless people. Greeting by pope.

-- 4 pm Departure by air to New York.

-- 5 pm Arrival at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

-- 6:45 pm Celebration of vespers with priests, men and women religious in St. Patrick's Cathedral. Homily by pope.

Friday, September 25 (New York)

-- 8:30 am Visit the headquarters of the United Nations. Greeting and speech by pope.

-- 11:30 am Interreligious meeting at the ground zero 9/11 Memorial. Speech by pope.

-- 4 pm Visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Elementary School in East Harlem and meeting with children and immigrant families. Speech by pope.

-- 6 pm Mass at Madison Square Garden. Homily by pope.

Saturday, September 26 (New York, Philadelphia)

-- 8:40 am Departure by air to Philadelphia.

-- 9:30 am Arrival at Philadelphia's International Airport.

-- 10:30 am Mass with Pennsylvania's bishops, priests, men and women religious at Philadelphia's Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul. Homily by pope.

-- 4:45 pm Meeting for religious liberty with the Hispanic community and immigrants at Philadelphia's Independence Mall. Speech by pope.

-- 7:30 pm Festival of Families and prayer vigil at Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Speech by pope.

Sunday, September 27 (Philadelphia)

-- 9:15 am Meeting with bishops taking part in the World Meeting of Families at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. Speech by pope.

-- 11 am Visit with prisoners at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. Speech by pope.

-- 4 pm Closing Mass of the VIII World Meeting of Families at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Homily by pope.

-- 7 pm Greeting to the organizing committee, volunteers and donors at Philadelphia's International Airport. Speech by pope.

-- 7:45 pm Farewell ceremony.

-- 8 pm Departure for Rome.

Monday, September 28 (Rome)

-- 10 am (4:45 am EDT). Arrival at Rome's Ciampino airport.

Alleluia! Catholic Center at Yale University promotes Catholic Music and Liturgy
| June 30, 2015 • by By Father Colin McKenna


NEW YORK—Anyone who has taken an art history course knows that the Renaissance was inspired by Catholicism.

Bishop Caggiano at Carnegie Hall, waiting for Alleluia! to begin.

Beginning in the late 13th century, great artists began making religious paintings and sculptures that culminated in the works of Michelangelo and Leonardo.

Likewise, great post-Renaissance musicians like Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Vivaldi (a Catholic priest) also looked to Christianity for inspiration, particularly the Catholic Mass. For centuries, composing “Masses” was considered the pinnacle of the musical art form.

Just as art these days usually does not focus on religious themes—unless it is denigrating Christianity—so too, modern day composers usually shy away from religious themes.

St. Thomas More Chapel and Center at Yale University is hoping to turn these trends around by encouraging musicians and composers worldwide to focus on the Mass once again as a source for artistic inspiration. With the recent establishment of its Center for Music and Liturgy, the Catholic Center hopes to fuel the creation of new sacred music and support musical excellence throughout the universal Church. The Center plans to focus on empowering people to enjoy liturgical music that is of high quality and attractive to worshippers. More information about the Center and its mission can be found at Catholic Center at Yale University.

After thousands of hours of rehearsals, preparation and unbelievably complex logistical machinations, the Center for Music and Liturgy burst onto the worldwide musical and liturgical scene on June 29—the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul—at Carnegie Hall with its inaugural concert, Alleluia!

Before a packed house, choirs from five countries joined the National Children’s Chorus to form a 400-voice international festival chorus, along with 200 handbell players and full orchestra.

With much thanksgiving to the grace of God, Alleluia! has been acclaimed a huge success, both as a fundraiser for the Center and as a vehicle to debut new liturgical music, including the world premiere of Mass of the Divine Shepherd, by Julian Revie, composer in residence at the Center.

Mass of the Divine Shepherd is the first major setting of the Catholic Mass in the revised English translation, and part of Revie’s Mass will be performed during Pope Francis’s Mass in Philadelphia this September.

Under the direction of Father Robert Beloin, Chaplain for St. Thomas More Catholic Chapel and Center at Yale, the Center gave the title of Honorary Patron to four Catholic bishops from the tri-State metropolitan area: Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York; Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport; Archbishop Leonard Blair of Hartford; and Bishop David O’Connell of Trenton.

Moments before the lights went down at Carnegie Hall, before Alleluia! began, Bishop Caggiano (who attended Yale as a freshman) expressed his anticipation, recognizing how much work and planning had gone into the production. “Julian has been working on this for a very long time,” Bishop Caggiano said. “I have had the privilege to come to know him over the past year. He has come to visit me often. He is a man of deep faith and tremendous artistic talent.”

The sheer number of musicians and their placement around Carnegie Hall (at different ascending rings of seats) was designed to “engulf the listeners in a sonic whirlwind,” Revie said.

And it did, to great effect.

Hundreds of handbell players from the highest reaches of the hall sent heavenly music from on high that descended beautifully upon the audience. In addition, the heavenly handbells also glimmered in the light as music was made.

The design of the heavenly handbell players in the rafters of the hall builds on the vision of Pope St. John Paul II, who “envisioned the ultimate potential of the whole cosmos as Eucharistic, a heavenly liturgy,” Revie said.

In addition to its irrepeatable world premiere, Revie intends to release simplified settings for the Mass parts for choral use in parishes.

The Center’s director, Richard Gard, understands that its mission is “to renew and refresh the music of the Church. Thanks to today’s inexpensive digital devices, it is feasible to publish and distribute music at virtually no cost,” he said.

One of the things that made Alleluia! such a moving experience was Revie’s inclusion of the audience in the production. “I have always seen the audience in this Mass as a critical, unnotated ‘third voice,’” Revie said. The audience is “a silent participant, engaged with the music not merely as spectators, but in active participation, in a liturgical spirit,” he said.

In his world premiere of the Mass of the Divine Shepherd at Carnegie Hall, composer Julian Revie wanted the audience to share in the creation of beautiful music and liturgy as an extension of their own lives of prayer and faith.

With the help of some 600 singers, musicians and handbell players from around the world, and with the help of the unparalleled musical setting of Carnegie Hall, composer Julian Revie and the Center for Music and Liturgy at Yale University made the world premiere of Mass of the Divine Shepherd a grand success. Alleluia!

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Homily Prep: Deacon Dean Finch
| June 30, 2015


Deacon Dean Finch has been “extremely happily married” for 42 years to his wife Beverly. They have four children: Stephanie, Christie, Sarah, Brittany. He was ordained to the Order of Diaconate on June 27, 2000, so he just celebrated his 15th anniversary of ordination!

He has been assigned to St. Jerome Parish in Norwalk since his ordination.

He was director-internal audit for Star Gas Partners, LP, Stamford, Conn., until his retirement in 2014

“Faith and Isolation” – Mark 5: 21-43
Sunday, June 28, 2015

Today’s gospel presents us with a story within a story. The first begins with a father (Jairus) who is desperate to save his deathly sick daughter and the second of a woman who has been isolated from her society for 12 years.  

The contrasts between Jairus and the woman with the hemorrhage are stark and revealing. One is a man the other is a woman. One is a public official, an important person in the community. The other is a woman who has lost everything to find a cure to a condition that separated her from the community. One approaches Jesus publicly and one approaches secretly. Yet, with each, faith is the driving force that leads them to seek out Jesus in their time of need.

In the first story, it is because of the faith of the Jewish man, Jairus (a synagogue official) that Jesus could bring back to life his daughter who was near death. In the second story, it was because of the faith of a woman, that she could be healed of her hemorrhaging by only touching Jesus’ clothing.  

It is noteworthy that these healings are different. The woman’s faith causes her own healing. Jairus’ faith moves Jesus to heal his daughter. Jesus’ involvement with each person is unique.  For Mark, one’s faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God is inextricably linked to Jesus’ power to heal and raise those who have died from the dead.

The story of the hemorrhaging woman illumines a situation many people experience in our society today, the condition of isolation. According to Jewish law, no one was allowed to touch a woman with an issue of blood, whether monthly or continuous. This particular woman had not been touched for twelve years! Why else would she weave through the crowd and sneak up behind Jesus? She didn’t know If Jesus was a keeper of the law; if so, he would not have touched her without becoming ritually unclean. Even in the “pressing” crowd, had she been discovered, she would have been excluded. This woman was living in solitary confinement in the midst of society, an untouchable … so thirsty for human interaction!

Her faith gives her the courage to reach out a finger, a finger seeking healing, seeking new life. That faith is rewarded. She feels wholeness within herself. The flow of blood dries up. The water of wholeness floods her being. Her desert life blossoms! Jesus brings her out of isolation and into the family of faith, calling her “daughter.” She belongs once again.

Our faith is the wellspring of courage, courage to seek what is needed for life. The words from the Book of Wisdom need to be planted deeply in our hearts: “God did not make death” and “God formed us to be imperishable.” God brings water to the desert of our souls that we may live and live fully!

There is a quality about touching that makes it an apt sense for experiencing the Spirit. However, how often do we have the tendency to play it safe; to keep our pain to ourselves and, in the process, isolate ourselves from the human companionship that is so necessary to life?  

Pain and loneliness are often co-companions. When we see another person in pain, it can increase the sense of distance, even if the seeing is compassionate. When we listen to another person in pain, they can be comforted because their words are being received. But touching seems to be special. It has the capacity to bridge the separateness and create a non-abandoning sense of presence.

In touching someone who is in pain/isolation, we become a vehicle for divine love. Whether the individual is cured or not, the human touch that communicates divine care and inclusion always heals. We bring the isolated person back into our fold.

A question for us to ponder might very well be, “Who have we comforted with our touch and compassion (recently) and if we didn’t bring Christ’s loving touch and compassion to someone in pain and isolation, why not?”

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Change in Civil Law does not reflect understanding of Sacramental Marriage
| June 29, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—“Last week’s Supreme Court decision reflects rapidly shifting attitudes in our secular American society.

However, it does not change the teachings of the Catholic Church or its understanding of sacramental marriage.

More specifically, the Church clearly teaches that the sacrament of marriage is a covenant of love that can be entered into only by a man and a woman—a covenant that binds and seeks to deepen the union between spouses over their lifetime and opens them to the creative power of their love in the procreation of children. The Supreme Court’s decision does not change this fundamental Catholic teaching of faith.

While affirming marriage as “God’s “masterwork” in a recent talk, Pope Francis noted that Jesus “begins his miracles in a marriage, in a wedding feast: a man and a woman.” While clearly affirming the Church’s teaching on marriage, the Holy Father has also repeatedly urged us to act lovingly and mercifully toward all of our brothers and sisters, even those who may disagree with our beliefs, and to be more welcoming to all those who seek the healing of Christ.
This change of civil law, despite the challenges and difficulties that it presents to our religious beliefs, must not stop our efforts to continue our mission to become a more welcoming Church, and to evangelize by witnessing to the beauty and truth of the Church’s teaching in our own lives, including  our belief in the sacrament of marriage.
Witnessing to the truth has become increasingly difficult in our contemporary age because truth is considered a relative matter by many of our neighbors and friends. Yet if we move forward in love and respect, then people of all ages will find safe harbor in the Church’s teaching and be drawn to loving and faith-filled communities we wish to create.”

Knights deliver breakfast…and a message of family
| June 29, 2015


NORWALK—On June 14, St. Matthew Council #14360 hosted its Second Annual Family Communion Breakfast at St. Matthew Parish for over 180 guests.

Besides the wonderful food provided by Zody’s 19th Hole in Stamford, the guest speaker delivered some treats of her own. Sister Lucie Monast of Notre Dame Convalescent Home in Norwalk delivered a wonderful talk on respect and family.

Sister Lucie talked about faith and respect within the family and how it needs to be revitalized in families today. The council and Sister Lucie recently combined to work on a huge project to renovate the chapel in the home’s convent.

Notre Dame Convalescent Homes, Inc. was opened in Norwalk on March 24, 1952, as an extended care facility. The Convent House and Mother Kevin Pavilion were used by the Sisters of St. Thomas of Villanova to care for local needy elderly. Sister Lucie enjoyed the day. “I enjoyed and had fun doing the presentation, and I praise the Lord for all the smiles that I witness that morning!”

Committee chair Ron Miller was excited for the results too. “Our Communion Breakfast brought together faith, family, youth and community—a perfect day for our St. Matthews parish Family,” said Miller.

(The Knights of Columbus at St. Matthew, Council #14360, help many local organizations around the city, such as Malta House and Foster Care Agency of Connecticut. For more info, check out

President of the UCCB statement on gay marriage
| June 27, 2015


WASHINGTON—The U.S. Supreme Court decision, June 26, interpreting the U.S. Constitution to require all states to license and recognize same-sex "marriage" "is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us," said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable. Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.

The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female. The protection of this meaning is a critical dimension of the "integral ecology" that Pope Francis has called us to promote. Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child¹s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.

Jesus Christ, with great love, taught unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. As Catholic bishops, we follow our Lord and will continue to teach and to act according to this truth.

I encourage Catholics to move forward with faith, hope, and love: faith in the unchanging truth about marriage, rooted in the immutable nature of the human person and confirmed by divine revelation; hope that these truths will once again prevail in our society, not only by their logic, but by their great beauty and manifest service to the common good; and love for all our neighbors, even those who hate us or would punish us for our faith and moral convictions.

Lastly, I call upon all people of good will to join us in proclaiming the goodness, truth, and beauty of marriage as rightly understood for millennia, and I ask all in positions of power and authority to respect the God-given freedom to seek, live by, and bear witness to the truth.

Read related CNS item "USCCB president calls Supreme Court ruling on marriage 'tragic error'"

Father Carl Dennis McIntosh!
| June 27, 2015 • by By Father Colin McKenna


BRIDGEPORT—An overcast day could not keep Deacon Carl McIntosh from smiling.

Deacon Carl McIntosh is all smiles as he waits for his ordination
Mass to begin. In the background is an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe,
to whom he has a great devotion.

As the 11 am ordination Mass drew ever closer, his smile and his spirit provided the light that the clouds tried to conceal.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano lay his hands on the head of a kneeling Deacon Carl McIntosh at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport, and priestly ontological change was impressed upon his soul. In that instant, Deacon Carl McIntosh became Father Carl McIntosh.

“We came here this morning to celebrate the gift that Deacon Carl McIntosh is to the Church,” Bishop Caggiano had said at the outset of the ordination Mass.

Now the diocese and the universal Church celebrate together the ordination of a newly minted Catholic priest!

Father McIntosh’s ordination also had some historical significance. At 64, he is the oldest man to be ordained a priest this year in the United States.

Father McIntosh will celebrate his first Mass at St. Lawrence Parish in Shelton at 11:30 am tomorrow (June 28). Father Michael Jones, pastor at St. Lawrence, will be the homilist.

Excerpts from Bishop Caggiano’s ordination Mass homily at St. Augustine’s Cathedral, June 27, 2015:

Deacon McIntosh lies prostrate, signifying his docility to the power of the Holy Spirit, moments before his priestly ordination.

Carl, in a few moments, by the imposition of my hands and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, you will enter into a great mystery...

You are going to be configured to Christ, the crucified, and Risen Priest. And from this moment unto all eternity, Christ will press upon your very soul the gift of His Priesthood...

It is a mystery that you and I, and every single one of us in this Church ordained to priesthood are neither worthy of nor can be ever fully prepared to live. But it is a mistake to think that we are the actors; we are the protagonists. We are not. Christ is. In you, and me.

And as you will prostrate yourself in just a few moments here, before the altar, which is Calvary in grace; when you rise from this place you must remember, my brother, what I must remind myself each is Christ I honor, Christ I serve, and Christ whom, through His grace, I will make present in the world through my priestly life. That will be your mission (Carl) from this day forward...

The Moment of Ordination: Deacon McIntosh becomes Father McIntosh.

You will do it because you are going to become a minister of the sanctification of God’s people...You will take bread and wine, and through the power of the Risen Lord in His Spirit, that bread and wine will become the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Crucified Lord...We will be fed with the Bread of Life.

We are also called to a prophetic office in Christ, which means that you and I are to be heralds of the Gospel, the good news of salvation.

You will (also) share in the Kingly Office of Christ, and if the world ever wonders what it means to call God “King,” look to the Crown of Thorns that the King of Heaven and Earth wore on (Calvary). That is our crown brothers. That is your crown (Carl) from this day forward.

If you wish to be truly holy; wish to be disciples of Christ; wish to sanctify the world; wish one day to come to glory; Our Lady, the Mother of God, is your mother and mine. Today (Carl) she becomes for you, your special mother...She will wrap you in her mantle.

(In your priesthood), go to our mother, and she will never fail you.

And so, my brother Carl, I welcome you into the sacred priesthood today with great joy, and with great confidence that you will do wonderful work...and be a worthy servant of Christ.

Photography by Amy Mortensen and Fr. Colin McKenna

Click here for more photos!

Click here to view a video from the ordination


Deacons Jack Mahon and John DiTaranto gather for the entrance procession.

Deacon McIntosh, with his father, moments before his ordination to the priesthood.

"You're sure you want to do this, right?": Bishop Caggiano and Deacon McIntosh share some levity before the ordination Mass.




Diocesan choir director and organist,
Tom Marino, tries to whip his singers
into shape before the ordination Mass.

“A Priest’s Priest”
| June 26, 2015 • by By Father Colin McKenna


GREENWICH—Monsignor William A. Genuario was buried today from St. Catherine of Siena Church in Greenwich, where he had been pastor from 1987-2004.

A plaque in the entry way
to St. Catherine's Church.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano was the principal celebrant, and Monsignor Alan F. Detscher—current pastor of St. Catherine’s—was the homilist. More than 50 priests concelebrated the funeral Mass, assisted by six deacons and a seminarian from Fisher Seminary. Other priests, deacons, and deacons’ wives attended the Mass as congregants.

St. Catherine’s was nearly filled to capacity with mourners who wanted to pay their sacramental farewell to a priest who had faithfully and tirelessly served the Diocese of Bridgeport in various capacities for nearly 60 years. Many of the faithful were past and present employees of the Catholic Center, where Monsignor had worked for many years in a variety of capacities. Since his formal retirement in 2004, he had continued to regularly travel to Bridgeport to work as a Canon Lawyer in the Marriage Tribunal at the Catholic Center.

Born and raised in Norwalk, and a graduate of Fairfield Prep, Monsignor Genuario devoted much of his priesthood to the City of Bridgeport, through his work at the Catholic Center but also as a pastor of inner-city parishes. During his work as a priest in Bridgeport, he championed the needs of the poor and often challenged City Hall and the police department to work for justice and peace in a city that saw a dramatic economic downturn after the Second World War.

Msgr. Detscher preaching the homily.

Born into a large family in Norwalk, Msgr. Genuario worked to make his parishioners his family too. “The parish becomes your family - that’s why you are called ‘Father,’” he said at his retirement.

The clergy also became his family, as evidenced by the large number of priests and deacons that attended his funeral Mass. “He was a priest’s priest,” Msgr. Detscher said in his homily. “During his priesthood, he was a great help to many of his brother priests.”

Msgr. Detscher described Msgr. Genuario as a simple man with a fondness for food (in the sense of a connoisseur). His interest in food may have been passed on from his father, an Italian immigrant who made his living selling vegetables.

Preparation of the Gifts
Deacon Vincent Heidenreich and Bishop Caggiano
at the Preparation of the Gifts.

Msgr. Genuario was nothing if not versatile in life and in the priesthood. Over a period of 29 years at the Catholic Center, he served the diocese as vice-chancellor; chancellor; director of planning, administration and development; presiding judge; vicar general and consultor. It was also said that he was on the “short-list” to be named the third Bishop of Bridgeport, but Edward M. Egan edged him out at the last minute.

When he was appointed pastor at St. Catherine’s, Msgr. immediately utilized his superior intellect by learning Spanish. An expert in Latin, he also was proficient in French and Italian. Soon after he took over as pastor in Greenwich, he began celebrating Masses in French, Italian, and Spanish, to better serve the needs of his parish. Msgr. Detscher joked that “Msgr. Genuario spoke Spanish with an Italian accent.”

As a priest whose ministry stretched from the pre-Vatican II Church to the post-Vatican II Church, Msgr. Genuario was forced to make adaptations along the way. Before 1983, he was in the habit of carrying with him at all times a “pocket-code” of Canon Law, for reference and to help immediately resolve canonical disputes that might arise. For those who might continue to challenge him after he had made reference to his pocket code, he also pretended that he had a direct-radio link to God. Conversations could go something like, “God, yeah, this is Bill. Jim is here with me and he is questioning me about...”


(left) Bert: Short for Albert. A ferral cat
adopted as a kitten from "Just Cats"
in Stamford (
17 years ago, when Msgr. Genuario
was pastor at St. Catherine's. He was
brought in to eliminate a "mouse problem"
in the rectory, but he soon developed
a taste for finer foods, and foods that
required little or no energy to obtain.


When the Code of Canon Law was revised in 1983 (ironically, with the help of the man who would reportedly edge him out for bishop a few years later), the “pocket-code” was no longer published, so Msgr. Genuario was forced to leave home each day without his handy pocket reference book. Whether his direct-radio communication link with God continued in operation after 1983 remains unknown.

Vatican II also ushered in married clergy, the Order of the Diaconate. Msgr. Genuario embraced the renewed order of deacons and had four of them working for him at St. Catherine’s. “They are still here, but getting older,” Msgr. Detscher said.

Before the final prayers of commendation at the funeral Mass, Bishop Caggiano thanked Msgr. Detscher for his “wonderful homily,” but also gently scolded him for “stealing my line!”

Bishop Caggiano had also wanted to refer to Msgr. Genuario as “a priest’s priest.”

Although it is an aspiration for many priests, “Very few become priests to priests, fathers to fathers,” Bishop Caggiano said.

As Msgr. Genuario’s casket was carried to the hearse outside the church on this glorious early summer’s day, nearly 60 priests and deacons sang “Salve Regina,” a tradition at the funeral of a priest.

After the funeral Mass, Msgr. Genuario was buried at his family gravesite at St. John Cemetery in Norwalk.

Click to see full photo album

Photography by Fr. Colin McKenna

Priest line up
Priests line up to receive Msgr. Genuario's casket at the altar.
"Salve Regina"
"Salve Regina" is sung as Msgr. Genuario's casket is carried to the hearse.
Holy Water
Bishop Caggiano sprinkles Msgr. Genuario's casket with holy water before the hearse leaves for St. John's Cemetery in Norwalk.

Carl McIntosh to be ordained this weekend
| June 25, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—On June 27, at 11 am in St. Augustine Cathedral, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will ordain Carl Dennis McIntosh to the priesthood for the Diocese of Bridgeport.

“Carl has the distinction of being, at 64, the oldest man ordained to the priesthood in the United States this year,” says Father Sam Kachuba, vocations director for the Diocese of Bridgeport. “While he is not your typical newly ordained priest in terms of age, he brings to priestly ministry a youthful spirit and the same zeal and excitement for the Gospel you might see in any man finishing seminary formation. Carl’s experience serving our country in the Army and his work experience in a variety of fields will serve him well as he begins his priestly ministry.”

A late vocation, Carl McIntosh, 64, grew up in New York City. His mother Cecile, brother Neil and sister Anne are deceased. His father, Leonard, is a parishioner at St. John the Martyr Parish in Manhattan. His sister Joan lives in Brooklyn.

“My father is still going strong,” says McIntosh. “He’ll be 94 by the time of my ordination, and he’ll be there ‘with bells on.’”

He graduated from Fordham Prep in the Bronx and Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., with a degree in music. After several years of freelancing as a word processing operator in Manhattan, he enlisted in the U.S. Army band program as a piano player.

After attending the Marshall Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary, he worked as a legal secretary for several of the top attorneys in New York City, including former mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

He had been struggling with a possible vocation to the priesthood since he was an altar boy in grammar school, but the timing was never quite right and things never seemed to work out. A pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City bore fruit, and he entered the program at St. John Fisher.

He has held summer assignments throughout the diocese, at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Stamford, St. Lawrence Parish in Shelton—which he now considers his home parish—St. Stephen Parish in Trumbull and St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Norwalk. He was ordained to the transitional diaconate by Bishop Caggiano on June 14, 2014, and completed his theological studies at Mount St. Mary’s this May.

“As the oldest seminarian in the country to be ordained to the priesthood this year, the thing I feel most qualified to comment on as I approach ordination is time,” he says. “God gives each of us a certain amount of time to live upon this earth, and it’s up to each one of us to choose how we’re going to spend it. We can choose to strive or to settle, to press on or to retreat, to make the best of it or make the worst of it. It is my sincere prayer for each of God’s people in the diocese that you choose to make the best of it as you travel along whatever path he chooses to lead you.”

Father McIntosh will celebrate his first Mass at St. Lawrence Parish in Shelton at 11:30 am on June 28. Father Michael Jones, pastor of St. Lawrence, will give the homily.

Msgr. William Genuario, former pastor of St. Catherine of Siena, Riverside
| June 24, 2015


STAMFORD—Msgr. William A. Genuario, former pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Riverside, died the morning of June 24 at the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of Clergy Residence in Stamford.

Born on January 23, 1931, the son of an Italian immigrant, he attended the former St. Mary School in Norwalk and graduated from Fairfield Prep. He went to St. Thomas Minor Seminary in Bloomfield, completed his theological studies at St. John Seminary, Brighton, Mass. He was ordained to the priesthood in St. Augustine Cathedral on February 2, 1956, by Bishop Lawrence J. Shehan, first Bishop of Bridgeport.

After an assignment at Sacred Heart Parish in Stamford, he studied canon law at the Gregorian University in Rome. He returned with his licentiate in canon law to become notary and secretary of the diocesan tribunal with residence at St. Peter Parish, Bridgeport.

Over a period of 29 years he would serve as vice chancellor, chancellor, director of planning, administration and development, presiding judge, vicar general, and consultor. He was a member of the Bishop’s Commission on Human Relations and a diocesan volunteer representative for Latin America In 1963 Pope Paul VI named him Papal Chamberlain, with the title of Monsignor. He would receive further papal honors, becoming an Honorary Prelate and Protonotary Apostolic.

Msgr. Genuario had also been a resident at St. Theresa Parish in Trumbull before being named pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Bridgeport in 1968. He subsequently served as pastor of the former St. Anthony Parish, also in Bridgeport. During his tenure as vicar general, he was in residence at St. Ambrose Parish in Bridgeport. Msgr. Genuario served as chaplain for Park City Council and Knights of Columbus, chair for Action for Bridgeport Community Development and chair for Sacred Heart University’s Board of Directors. He was on the Public Defenders Services Commission for the State of Connecticut 24 years and was a member of the Greenwich Ethics Committee and the Canon Law Society of America.

He was vice chairman of the Third Diocesan Synod in 1981.

In 1987, Msgr. Genuario was made pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Riverside, where he remained until his retirement to Queen of Clergy Residence in 2004. During his years of guiding one of the largest parishes in the diocese, he had officiated at more than 6,000 Masses and hundreds of baptisms, weddings and funerals.

“The parish becomes your family—that’s why you’re called ‘Father,’” he said at the time of his retirement.

Although semi-retired, he continued to serve the Diocese of Bridgeport as a judge in the diocesan tribunal, driving from Stamford to the Catholic Center in Bridgeport until January of this year. He always considered offering Mass at noon as his great gift to the Curia staff. He would deliver the Gospel lesson in a scholarly way, tell humorous stories of his youth in Norwalk and give reviews of selections he was currently reading with his book club.

Msgr. Genuario’s body will be received at St. Catherine of Siena Church on Thursday, June 25, at 4 pm, where it will lie in state until the parish Vigil Mass at 7:30 pm. The celebrant and homilist for the Mass will be Msgr. William Scheyd, pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan. The Mass for Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, June 26, at 12 noon. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the main celebrant. The homilist will be Msgr. Alan Detscher, who succeeded him as pastor at St. Catherine’s.

Burial will follow at St. John Cemetery in Norwalk in the family gravesite. Msgr. Genuario is mourned by a large family, including his sister, Marie Staprowski, of Westport.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Parakeet Found
| June 24, 2015


Sister Nancy Strillacci and Sister Mary Grace Walsh, Sisters of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (ASCJ), are both followers of my blog. In a way, they have also contributed to my blogging efforts. In fact, this is “Currabawn” blog number 58, and Sisters Nancy and Mary Grace will have contributed directly and indirectly to the composition and content of at least three of my blogs.

I was never very good at math (that is what kept me out of Harvard!), but by my reckoning (on a calculator), Sisters Nancy and Mary Grace have contributed to over 5% of my blogging output to date!

I don't know about man-made global warming,
but I am still a consummate recycler! This was
the batch I took to the Wilton recycling center on
6/22/15. Are all global-warming activists serious
about recycling on a daily basis? Doubt it.
Click here for recycling blog

Thank you, Sisters!

It started in November, 2014, at the Bishop Caggiano Roast to help support St. Margaret’s Shrine in Bridgeport (Bishop Roast, St. Margaret Shrine, Bishop Video). Sister Mary Grace suggested that I should do a blog about the housewarming gift that Gina Barber had made for Anne McCrory (Housewarming Gift).

Then I focused a blog on Sister Nancy herself (Unsung Hero).

A few weeks ago, Sister Nancy basically demanded that I provide a parakeet update (Parakeet Lost).

I was wondering if I should do a parakeet update, and then something very significant occurred in my life, and now I am more than happy to provide you with a joyful parakeet update!

Sadly, my parakeet Snowball has never returned and he has not been found by anyone who was able to contact me, but I do have a new member of my family, and “her” name is Squeeky.

Here is a consolidated version of how all of this came to be:

Shortly after Snowball flew away, I contacted Pet Pantry Warehouse in Greenwich about the serial number on his ankle tag. When I first bought my birds, a store rep took the time to carefully write down the number on each bird’s ankle bracelet.

When Snowball disappeared, I hoped that perhaps these numbers had been entered into a national (international??) database of some sort to help find lost birds. It turns out that no such database exists (but one really should be created, people!!).

When I contacted PPW by phone, a female rep was not very helpful, or charitable. She told me that “I was the first person to have lost a bird.” Thanks a lot. Not only is that not factually true, but it should never be told to a bereft customer. The serial numbers are only recorded in-house, in case someone comes into the store after finding a bird.

Because I live in Wilton, and I bought the birds in Greenwich, the odds of someone finding Snowball and bringing him to the Greenwich store are infinitesimal.

My next step was to contact some local pet stores in and around Wilton, and everyone I spoke to at these stores was very gracious. In fact, they must have really followed up because one day, out of the blue, while I was in my office at the Catholic Center, I received a text from someone who had found a white parakeet in Stamford.

My hopes were really raised that perhaps someone had found Snowball, but after further texts, it was determined that the young woman, Sarah, had found another escaped parakeet (see, I am not the only one who has ever lost a bird!!).

Thankfully, I kept my text correspondence with Sarah on my phone. If you delete a text, it is irretrievable.

As time went by, I started to realize that Amber was not a happy camper. Each morning, he spent quite some time making loud noises, as if he was calling out for Snowball.

So, eventually, I reached for my phone and texted Sarah.

After some consideration, she decided to let me adopt the bird that she had been caring for, explaining that she was not really a “bird person.”

On a recent evening, outside Bertucci’s in Darien, I “made the pick up!” Sarah gave me the bird in a beautiful cage with lots of accessories and some food. For her kindness, I gave her some cash for her efforts, which she accepted.

Amber’s eyes absolutely lit up when I placed the cage containing Squeeky beside his cage. Sarah had named the bird “Captain Squeeky,” so I simply shortened it to Squeeky.

Ironically, Squeeky makes very subdued and beautiful vocal music; more pleasant than the sounds made by Amber and Snowball.

The birds went “bedtime” in their separate cages that first night, but in the morning, I began to get them acquainted. When they finally were in the same cage, perched beside each other, I knew that this was a “marriage” made in heaven.

When I had first determined that Amber and Snowball were both males, I was relieved that I need not worry about baby parakeets.

Within moments of placing Amber and Squeeky beside each other in the same cage, however, they started rehearsing mating choreography. Now, I am open to children; for them, I mean.

Amber is now about 16 months old and Squeeky is about a year old, so they are at the prime age for mating. If they prove fertile and have babies, I will take it all one step at a time (anyone want to adopt some baby parakeets??).

Now that I have added Squeeky to my family, I am very happy, and of course, I see God’s hand in it.

Amber and Squeeky are very happy together, and when my family is happy, I am happy.

If and when I spy Squeeky making a nest and then sitting on some eggs, I will take pics and video and we can all begin the countdown.

Please keep praying for Snowball. If he is still alive, perhaps he has found a new home or can be led to one. If  he can make it far enough south, maybe he can survive in the wild and perhaps find or found a community of escaped parakeets.

Click here to watch a video of Amber and Squeeky

There have been 480 visit(s) to this blog post.

Soup Kitchen, Food Pantry serving New Canaan moves into new home
| June 24, 2015 • by By Robert Berczuk, New Canaan Daily Voice


STAMFORD—The "new" New Covenant House is now officially open in its new home at 174 Richmond Hill Avenue in Stamford, according to Executive Director John Gutman.

John Gutman, Betsy Lopez and Mike Boyd stand
in the kitchen of New Covenant House's new site
at 174 Richmond Hill Ave. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

“For 37 years, New Covenant House has operated a daily soup kitchen and food pantry.” said Gutman in a press release.

“Our new facility will offer job skills programs in several food related areas, a dedicated medical services program, a team of case workers to help our guests find solutions for everyday problems, and shower, laundry and hair-cutting facilities for those in need.”

The food pantry and soup kitchen serves Stamford, New Canaan, Greenwich and Darien.

The “new” New Covenant House encompasses 8,000 square feet, a major expansion from its former 2,000-square-foot location at the Yerwood Center. The facility includes a state-of-the-art kitchen and dining area with seating for 72 guests, according to a press release.

One of the most significant changes to New Covenant House is the food pantry, which is now in an expanded space, according to a press release. It features six shopping aisles and two side-by-side refrigerator/freezers, allowing New Covenant House to provide fresh and frozen foods, in addition to dry grocery items. The pantry is open two days per week for a total of nine hours.  

New Covenant House serves lunch and dinner Mondays through Saturdays and lunch on Sundays; additionally, there is a breakfast-to-go program daily.

Founded more than 37 years ago, New Covenant House is an inter-faith project of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County, serving the homeless, elderly, disabled, working poor and children.

New Covenant House's capital campaign raised nearly $1.3 million, which was needed to renovate and move into the new larger facility, according to a press release. An additional $400,000 is still needed to launch and support new initiatives and expanded food services, according to a press release.

New Covenant House provides about 400,000 meals per year from its food pantry and about 250,000 meals from its daily soup kitchen and off-site programs.

Guests can eat at the soup kitchen with no questions asked. To receive food from the pantry, guests have to complete an application and provide proof of income and residency. Families can visit the food pantry once per month and receive enough food for 10 to 12 days.

To learn more and to donate, go here or contact Paul Harinstei at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or Gutman at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

First Grade!
| June 24, 2015


SHELTON—If you want to know why Catholic Schools are special, take a look at this video of the First Grade Class of Miss Jaime Peterson at St. Lawrence School in Shelton.

Miss Peterson affirms each student and even invites parents in to read to the class! St. Lawrence numbers over 200 children in grade levels Pre-K through 8th Grade.

The schools offers a Christ-centered education while providing an academically challenging curriculum including Foreign Language instruction, Advance Math, Competitive Science, Computer Labs and other programs. Visit St. Lawrence School online:

Bishop Caggiano reflects on “Forgiveness” after Charleston
| June 23, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—One of the most powerful ways we can evangelize in the name of the Lord Jesus is to forgive those who have hurt or betrayed us.

As disciples, we say each day: “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The Lord Jesus freely gave His life on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins and the sins of the whole world.

If we wish to evangelize the world in His name, to bring His Good News, how can we do so if we are not ready to forgive others as He has forgiven us?

At times, it is very difficult to forgive because the hurt runs deep or the betrayal is long lasting. However, even when faced with the most terrible of sins, there are disciples of the Lord Jesus who can still find it in their hearts to forgive. Many of these authentic disciples are among the relatives and friends whose loved ones were murdered in Charleston a few days ago. As our Christian brothers and sisters, they have not responded to the terrible evil inflicted upon them with a desire for revenge or retribution. Rather, in a remarkable moment of faith that was witnessed by everyone who has watched the news in the last 24 hours, they directly addressed the young man who murdered their mothers, fathers, sons and daughters and told him that they forgave him for the evil he had done. What a powerful witness to the Lord Jesus! What a remarkable expression of a faith that will conquer the evil that they have endured. Such Christian witness will evangelize the world.

Let us continue to pray for all those who were killed in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church this past Wednesday evening. May the Lord grant them eternal life and peace in the Kingdom of heaven. Let us pray for their families, neighbors and friends, that the Lord will grant them consolation and strength during this time of tremendous sorrow and pain. And let us pray for ourselves that we may learn from the example of those who can heroically forgive even the greatest of evils.

For if we wish to be true evangelizers of the Gospel, we must have the courage to forgive.

The green encyclical has arrived!
| June 23, 2015 • by By Tony Magliano


Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano

It’s courageous, it’s prophetic, it’s challenging, it’s holistic, it’s wonderful: That’s what I think of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.”

Quoting his patron saint, Francis of Assisi—who is also the patron saint of ecology—Pope Francis begins his papal letter with a beautiful verse from the saint’s Canticle of the Creatures:“Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.”
“St. Francis of Assisi reminds us,” writes the pope, “that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. …
“This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will.”
Pope Francis explains, “Each year hundreds of millions of tons of waste are generated, much of it non-biodegradable, highly toxic and radioactive, from homes and businesses, from construction and demolition sites, from clinical, electronic and industrial sources. The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”
The Holy Father then weighs in on climate change. Ignoring the weak scientific claims of those who deny the climate is changing and that the earth is warming—due principally to human pollution—he writes, “A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system.”
Indeed, the scientific consensus is very solid. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), “97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities.” (
Pope Francis continues, “In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events. … Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming. …
“The problem is aggravated by a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels”—that is coal, oil and gas.
The pope urgently calls for global conversion from the use of these fossil fuels to “clean renewable energy”—wind, solar and geothermal (see Earth Policy Institute  
“Climate change … represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades.” For example, “There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. …
“The warming caused by huge consumption on the part of some rich countries has repercussions on the poorest areas of the world, especially Africa, where a rise in temperature, together with drought, has proved devastating for farming. …
“Many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms, simply making efforts to reduce some of the negative impacts of climate change.”
In a rebuke to some multinational corporations operating in economically underdeveloped countries Francis writes, “Generally, after ceasing their activity and withdrawing, they leave behind great human and environmental liabilities such as unemployment, abandoned towns, the depletion of natural reserves, deforestation, the impoverishment of agriculture and local stock breeding, open pits, riven hills, polluted rivers and a handful of social works which are no longer sustainable.”
Francis then turns his attention to the growing scarcity of clean water—especially in Africa—and the reckless pollution of much of our existing water.
And he writes about his concern regarding the privatization of water—“turning it into a commodity subject to the laws of the market. …   
“Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water,” says Francis.
The pope expresses deep concern that the many injustices of market-based economies, together with environmental degradation, have their gravest effects on the poor and vulnerable.
He writes, “The depletion of fishing reserves especially hurts small fishing communities without the means to replace those resources; water pollution particularly affects the poor who cannot buy bottled water; and rises in the sea level mainly affect impoverished coastal populations who have nowhere else to go.
Francis tries to awaken the consciences of all—especially the economically and politically powerful—to the plight of the poor.

He writes that in political and economic discussions the poor seem to be brought up as an afterthought. “Indeed, when all is said and done, they frequently remain at the bottom of the pile.”

Francis astutely observes that living comfortable lifestyles far removed from the poor, often leads to a “numbing of conscience” and to a cold impersonal analysis. “At times this attitude exists side by side with a ‘green rhetoric.’

“Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”

Observing the connection between the degradation of the environment and war Francis writes, “It is foreseeable that, once certain resources have been depleted, the scene will be set for new wars.”

Pope Francis says in addition to highlighting the duty of each person to care for nature, the Church “must above all protect mankind from self-destruction.”

The Holy Father sees the environmental problem as part of a much larger, more serious problem: Our failure to consistently recognize the truth that everyone and everything is interconnected.
He explains, “When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities—to offer just a few examples—it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected. …

“Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion.”

Pope Francis sees in St. Francis a perfect example of one who fully understood our interrelatedness.
He writes that St. Francis “was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.”
Pope Francis has given the world a great gift. With wise insight, he has laid out for us the truth of our interconnectedness with all creation—not only in the ecological web of life, but as persons sharing one human nature, and spiritually as brothers and sisters united to God, who is father of all.     

However, because we continue to ignore the vital necessity of nurturing this interconnectedness, the ecological, social and spiritual web is tearing.

But if we care at all, we still have a little time to mend the tears.   

For anyone interested in being a part of the solution, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home” is a must read!

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

Catholic Young Adults groups gather for a social in Stamford
| June 22, 2015


STAMFORD—On June 19th, Catholic young adults gathered at Brother Jimmy's BBQ in downtown Stamford for an evening of fellowship and socializing.

Stamford's Saint John's Flock, New Canaan's St. Aloysius Young Adult Fellowship, Trumbull's St. Theresa's Young Adult Group, and the Catholic Young Adults of Greater Danbury were all represented, along with other parishes in Fairfield and Westchester counties.

Prior to the social, YA group leaders met to share information about upcoming events and the plan future collaborations, including the upcoming Summer Splash at Our Lady Star of the Sea on August 9th. To view photos, click here. For list of YA groups by town, for news and events go to the Diocese of Bridgeport Young Adults webpage:

People express heartache, outrage as they mourn shooting victims
| June 22, 2015 • by By Daniel O'Shea, Catholic News Service


WASHINGTON—The tragic taking of nine lives at a historically black church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, brought an outpouring of solidarity, compassion and sorrow from around the country.

After an all-night search, police June 18 found the white man suspected of fatally shooting nine people, including the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a senior pastor.

They arrested 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof in neighboring North Carolina and charged him with the murders. He did not fight extradition so he was returned to South Carolina.

Witnesses said Roof had joined a prayer meeting the evening of June 17 at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. They said he sat with church members for about an hour then stood up, yelling racist remarks, and opened fire.

Religious leaders as well as government leaders issued their condolences and condemned the shooting, which is being investigated as a hate crime.

Catholic Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone of Charleston expressed a deep sadness over the tragedy.

"The inside of any church is a sanctuary," he said in a statement. "When a person enters, he or she has the right to worship, pray and learn in a safe and secure environment. For anyone to murder nine individuals is upsetting, but to kill them inside of a church during a Bible study class is devastating to any faith community."

Bishop Guglielmone also shared his sympathies with those who lost loved ones in the shooting and prayed they will "feel the comforting presence of our Lord surrounding them during this difficult time."

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh in the neighboring state of North Carolina, said: "In solidarity with my brother bishop ... I ask all the Catholic faithful and people of goodwill in the Diocese of Raleigh to stop at some point today, and offer sincere and thoughtful prayer for the nine victims of this horrific crime and for their families."

A number of Jewish groups issued strong statements on the crime that took place in Charleston.

"Hate crimes attack both individual victims and entire communities," said the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. "They are meant to isolate and terrorize. We stand in direct contrast: for an inclusive and pluralistic community, one that cherishes life and recognizes that every person is created in the divine image."

The statement went on to point out that tragic act "highlights that there is still racism in our society and that there is urgent need to address the issue directly. We must clearly and unequivocally demonstrate that hate violence has no place in our society."

Rabbi Noam Marans, director of interreligious and intergroup relations at AJC Global Jewish Advocacy, said that "this horrific massacre of innocents at prayer is extreme depravity. We are shocked beyond words that someone could enter a house of worship in our country and commit such a horrific crime, all the more so if it was racially motivated."

Numerous government officials weighed in on the shooting, with some citing an attachment to Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Closely impacted by the tragedy was Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley.

According to AP coverage of a news conference, Riley, who is Catholic, said that for someone to go into a church and kill people who had gathered to pray and worship "is beyond any comprehension. We are going to put our arms around that church and that church family."

A number of Catholic bishops across the country issued statements, including Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

He expressed "grief and deep sadness" over the murders June 19, saying, "There have been far too many heartbreaking losses in the African-American community this year alone. Our prayers are with all those suffering from this heinous crime. We join our voices with civic and religious leaders in pledging to work for healing and reconciliation."

Archbishop Kurtz added, "We must continue to build bridges and we must confront racism and violence with a commitment to life, a vision of hope, and a call to action."

Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley in a June 18 statement said: "It is foundational to our country's heritage that places of worship always be sanctuaries of prayer, safety and peace. We must reject these senseless acts of hatred and brutality in society."

Washington Auxiliary Bishop Martin D. Holley in a statement as the national chaplain of the Knights of Peter Claver said: "We stand in solidarity with all the people of South Carolina offering our sympathy, condolences, love and prayers for the survivors and all the family members of the victims begging God to grant us peace and security and respect for the dignity of every human person."

The American Jewish Congress called it "a hateful act of terror. ... Nobody should be unsafe in a house of worship, no matter the color of their skin or the religion they practice."

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, in a joint statement recalled meeting Rev. Pinckney, who also was a state senator.

"He was a good man, a man of faith, a man of service who carried forward Mother Emanuel's legacy as a sacred place promoting freedom, equality, and justice for all," the statement said, using a popular name for the church. "We pray for him and his sister as we do for the seven other innocent souls who entered that storied church for their weekly Bible study seeking nothing more than humble guidance for the full lives ahead of them."

President Barack Obama in a separate statement said that he and first lady Michelle Obama know several members from Mother Emanuel church, including the pastor.

"There is something particularly heartbreaking about the death happening in a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace, in a place of worship," he said.

"Mother Emanuel is, in fact, more than a church," Obama continued, noting the church's long and proud history. "This is a place of worship that was founded by African-Americans seeking liberty. This is a church that was burned to the ground because its worshippers worked to end slavery."

"When there were laws banning all-black church gatherings, they conducted services in secret," he said. "When there was a nonviolent movement to bring our country closer in line with our highest ideals, some of our brightest leaders spoke and led marches from this church's steps."

He said the kind of shootings that took place at the Charleston church don't happen as often in other advanced countries and blamed the politics of gun control for keeping the U.S. from addressing the issue, but said such the country has to come to terms with such incidents.

Two men ordained transitional deacons
| June 19, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano ordained seminarians Eric Silva and Philip Lahn Phan as transitional deacons on June 20 at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.

Philip Lahn Phan and Eric William Silva

“We are blessed to have these two men of prayer serving in our diocese,” says Father Sam Kachuba, director of vocations. “I look forward to the day when they are ministering here as priests!”

Philip Lahn Phan

Philip Lahn Phan, 30, was born in Vinh-Long, Vietnam. His parents still live there, where they are members of Sacred Heart Parish in the city of Tra-On. A sister and brother also live in Vietnam.

He attended local schools and graduated from Can-Tho University in 2007 with a bachelor of science degree. Following graduation he worked as a technician for the Golden Rice Pesticide Company in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in Vietnam.

“When I was a child, I always dreamed of doing something that would make my life meaningful,” he says. That dream became a quest, a searching that led him toward the Catholic faith. “When I turned 20, I found the meaning of life through my relationship with God and the Church. This relationship also led me to have a desire to serve, that is, to serve God and his people in the priesthood.”

Coming to this country, he entered St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford in 2010. He is currently studying at Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., and expects to complete his MDiv degree in 2016. Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in Stamford is his current home parish.

“The more I walk on this journey, the more I feel my quest is being accomplished and that always makes me a happy person,” he says

Father Kachuba agrees with that assessment. “Lanh brings a joyful spirit to everything he does,” he said. “He is both a convert to the Catholic faith and a man who has lived the immigrant experience. His zeal for living the Catholic faith grows every day. He wants to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with everyone. While maintaining strong roots in his own Vietnamese culture, Lanh moves fairly seamlessly in the American culture, as well. He will be a welcoming presence for anyone who crosses the threshold of his parish.”

Deacon Phan will assist at his first Mass on June 21 at St. Augustine Cathedral at 2:30 pm, the regular Sunday Vietnamese Mass at the Cathedral. Father Linh Nguyen will be the principal celebrant; Deacon Phan will give the homily.

Eric William Silva

Eric William Silva, 24, grew up in Trumbull, where St. Theresa is his home parish. His parents and brother James still live in Trumbull; another brother, John, lives in Fairfield. He went to Booth Hill School in Trumbull and graduated from St. Joseph High School in 2008. During that time he became active in the High School Apostles, a Catholic leadership formation program for youth.

He went to St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., before transferring to Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. After graduating from Sacred Heart in 2012 he entered St. John Fisher Seminary.

“If anyone ever wants to know if Catholic education or Catholic youth ministry pays off, I hope they meet Eric Silva,” says Father Kachuba. “His involvement with the High School Apostles, his background in Catholic schools, both in the diocese and in college, helped him to hear the Lord’s call to ministry. Eric is able to encounter people on a profound, spiritual level and help them to feel loved by God. His desire to serve the People of God is evident.”

Silva is also studying at Mount St. Mary’s and will complete his theological studies in 2016.

“It was apparent from very early in my life that I was being called to live radically, but I did not know how or in what way,” he says. “In college, God really entered into the busyness and messiness of my life to show me that the only authentically radical life is that of a Christian. My discernment began with an encounter with Christ in the Eucharist, and it is sustained only by a continuation of that relationship. After years of discernment, prayer and a great deal of joy, God has revealed that the radical life he called me to is brought to fulfillment as his priest.”

Deacon Silva will assist at his first Mass on June 21 at 10:30 am at St. Theresa. Father Brian Gannon, St. Theresa’s pastor, will be the principal celebrant.  

See hi-res photos: Photo 1 | Photo2

Read encyclical on care for creation with ‘open heart,’ pope asks world
| June 18, 2015 • by By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Appealing to the entire world, Pope Francis urged everyone to read his upcoming encyclical on the care of creation and to better protect a damaged earth.

“This common ‘home’ is being ruined and that harms everyone, especially the poorest,” he said June 17, the day before the Vatican was releasing his encyclical letter, “Laudato Si, on Care for Our Common Home.”

He said he was launching an appeal for people to recognize their responsibility, based on the task that God gave human beings in creation: to cultivate and care for the garden in which he settled us.

I invite everyone to receive this document with an open heart, he said at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.

Pope Francis said the encyclical is part of the church’s social teaching; the social doctrine of the church takes Gospel principles and applies them to concrete situations in society and public life.

The encyclical’s title, which translates into “Praised be,” comes from the introductory phrase to eight verses of St. Francis of Assisi’s “Canticle of the Creatures,” a prayer thanking God for the gifts of creation.

The encyclical is not expected to be a theological treatise or a technical document about environmental issues, but a pastoral call to change the way people use the planet's resources so they are sufficient not only for current needs, but for future generations, observers said.

Click here to read Encyclical on USCCB site

Click here to read Bishop Caggiano's statement on the encyclical

St Joseph’ High School recognizes Ken Mayo for 38 years of service
| June 17, 2015


TRUMBULL—On Monday, June 8, the St. Joseph High School Executive Advisory Board recognized Principal Ken Mayo on his 38 years of service.

Principal Mayo was honored with a plaque which read "The Advisory Board of Directors extends our deepest appreciation for the thirty-eight years of service you have given to St. Joseph High School as teacher, coach, dean, and principal. Our prayers and best wishes go with you and your family upon your retirement. Thank you, and may God bless you always."

Parishioners pray to uphold Christian marriage
| June 17, 2015


DANBURY—“Pray the Rosary daily!” proclaimed the sign on Main St., Danbury.

The early dark clouds had dissipated and people gathered in brilliant sunshine to pray the Rosary before the statue inscribed “Mary Mother of God” on St. Peter’s rectory lawn at noon on June 13, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

A large banner proclaimed “God’s Marriage = 1 Man + 1 Woman,” indicating the reason for the gathering. They were praying that the Supreme Court, which is deliberating the definition of marriage, hand down a decision by the end of the month that will uphold the basic biblical standard.

The 25 people who came out in support of the Judeo-Christian principle included parishioners not only of St. Peter Parish but also of St. Joseph’s in Danbury, St. Mary’s in Bethel and St. Rose of Lima in Newtown; as well as  from Putnam Lake, NY. Their rationale was that God has wrought miracles in the past as a result of the Rosary devotion, and would do so again.

During the prayer meeting, a recently reported story was cited, according to which a Nigerian bishop had a dream in which the Lord gave him a sword that turned into a Rosary, and he heard the words, “Boka Haran (the terrorist group which had kidnapped some 240 girls) is gone!” This has been interpreted to mean that the Rosary is like a sword, and by praying the Rosary, even terrorist groups will be overcome.

Save the Date now for the Synod Closing Mass
| June 17, 2015


A message from Bishop Frank J. Caggiano

BRIDGEPORT—“My friends, as you know, for the past year we have been walking a Synodal journey.

Over that time, we have discerned the many challenges we face as a Diocese, and most importantly how we can address those challenges.

I have shared many of the important initiatives and proposals that have emerged from our Synod here, and will continue to do so throughout the next few months.

Today, in the latest episode of my monthly video series, I discuss my excitement for our Synod Closing Mass. This will be a beautiful event in the life of our Diocese, where we will come together in prayer to celebrate all that we've accomplished and to ask the Holy Spirit for His grace and strength for the road ahead. Though we are closing this chapter of our Diocesan Synod, with this Mass, we move on to the next chapter of it: implementation of all the wonderful ideas brought forth!

I hope that you will all join me on September 19th at Webster Bank Arena! As I said in my video, there is enough bad news in this world. This is the time for us to talk about the Good News of Jesus Christ and our Faith in the Church!”

Honor Guard escorts All Saints graduates
| June 17, 2015


NORWALK—As All Saints Catholic School’s Class of 2015 graduated, some of St. Matthew Council #14360’s fourth degree members marked the occasion with a special Honor Guard.

(l-r) Sir Knights: Bill Berger, Anthony Armentano, Mike Colaluca, Scott Mazzo, George Ribellino, Jr. and Tim Horne.

Sir Knights Anthony Armentano, Mike Colaluca, Tim Horne, Scott Mazzo and Grand Knight George Ribellino were led by Color Corps Commander Bill Berger in honoring the graduates.

For the second year in a row, Ribellino presented two $500 scholarships to a pair of deserving eighth graders. This year the recipients were Mia Dunn and Angelica Zacarola.

For the first time the scholarships are, and will continue to be, named in the memory of the council’s first Deputy Grand Knight, the late Mario Mastracchio. Mario was a tireless volunteer at St. Matthew Church, including as a youth mentor and catechist. Mario passed away of cancer in 2009.
“It is an honor to be able to help two Catholic students continue their academic and their spiritual journey,” Ribellino said. “Seeing the class in their caps and gowns reminds me of when I graduated, and I am excited for them on the path they all continue to take

The Knights of Columbus St. Matthew Norwalk Council #14360 was founded in 2007 and currently does many fundraising and community outreach throughout the year, including its annual Macaroni and St Patrick Day Dinners, as well as lend assistance to Notre Dame Convalescent Home, Family & Children's Agency of Norwalk, All Saint, Malta House and Fisher House.

(For more info on the Knights, go to; for All Saints school, go to

A day of joy for newly ordained deacons
| June 14, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—“We come here with awesome joy,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said just before he ordained six men as deacons for the Diocese of Bridgeport. “Our hearts are filled with joy because you have said ‘Yes’ to the Lord.”

View the photo gallery

More than 500 priests, brother deacons, family and friends filled St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Fairfield for the ordination of Anthony Caraluzzi of Bethel, Jeffrey Font of Brookfield,
John Tuccio of Monroe, David Flynn of Monroe, Ernest Jeffers of Stamford, and Patrick Shevlin of Newtown, who had spent five years preparing for the day.

“On this beautiful morning we gather to pray for our six brothers that the Holy Spirit come upon them in the image of Christ. No one is worthy of ordination, I am not worthy, but in ordination we are made worthy” through the mystery of God’s love for us, the Bishop said.

There were two standing ovations during the Mass, one of the newly ordained deacons and another for their wives, who were called forth to the altar and gifted with crosses in gratitude for their support of their husbands’ vocation.

The Bishop called for blessing on the deacons’ wives and children, and for all the priests and others who helped in their formation. “All of you come here after celebrating the mystery of marriage, and you know what it is to love another person wholly and completely,” the Bishop said to the men.

The Bishop said that the diaconate is “a mystery of service,” and called upon the men to “surrender all you have in self-sacrifice in order to build up others around you. As you decrease, the Lord gives back one hundred-fold.

“You are called upon to be counter-signs in to the world that no longer understands what service means,” the Bishop said.

At the start of the ordination Deacon Tony Detje, director of the diaconate program, called out the names of the six men who answered “Present.” When he responded “We choose you as brothers for the order of diaconate,” the congregation burst into spontaneous and prolonged applause.

The Bishop noted that ordination fell on the feast of St. Anthony of Padua and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He said that Saint Anthony said that preaching “was just words” if the gospel is not lived in a person’s heart. And he told them deacons to remember that “praying to Our Lady” will always lead them to the Lord.

“You will do great things, one day at a time, “ the Bishop said before the recessional hymn. “Let us all pray for a springtime of renewal in the life of the Church.”

Deacon’s bio and profiles

“While the men are the ones called to ordination as deacon, the decision to request ordination is a joint decision by the man and his wife,” stated Deacon Tony Detje, diocesan director of deacons.

Anthony Caraluzzi

Anthony Caraluzzi, 56, and his wife, Debra Ann, are members of St. Mary Parish in Bethel. This September they will be celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. The couple has three children in their twenties.

St. Mary’s is his home parish in a way rarely seen now: he was baptized at St. Mary’s, had First Holy Communion and Confirmation there, and went to St. Mary’s elementary school. After graduating from Immaculate High School in Danbury, he attended Fairfield University, where he holds a B.A. degree in economics. He has been the owner of Taunton Wine & Liquor in Newtown for the past 23 years.

Deacon Caraluzzi will assist at a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Mary’s on June 14 at 11:30 am. Father Corey Piccinino, St. Mary’s pastor, will be the principal celebrant; Deacon John DeRoin will give the homily.

“The diaconate call is simply a call to serve,” he says. “I’m not entirely sure if there is any one particular ministry that God has in mind for me, though I do believe hospital ministry will be an important part of my ministry work. However, I trust that God will give me what I need for whatever his will is for me.”

David Flynn

David Francis Flynn, 60, and his wife Anita belong to St. Jude Parish in Monroe. The couple has four grown children, two boys and two girls.

Deacon Flynn grew up in a devout family who owned a grain and dairy farm in rural Minnesota. After attending Catholic elementary school and public high school, he enrolled in St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., run by the Benedictine monks. He holds a B.A. in business administration from St. John’s, and another from the University of Minnesota-St. Paul in agricultural economics. He is currently a senior director of Jones Lang LaSalle.

After relocating to the East Coast from the Midwest, the Flynns found meaningful relationships through their parishes and through the Cursillo movement. From that came the decision to profess as a Benedictine Oblate.

Deacon Flynn will assist at a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Jude’s on June 14 at 12 noon. Benedictine Father Eric Hollas, O.S.B., will be the principal celebrant and deliver the homily.

“I believe that each of us is carrying a burden that is causing pain and suffering,” says Deacon Flynn. “A relationship with Jesus will ease or release that burden, and our faith offers a path to fully experience the comfort Jesus offers. I hope to be a useful instrument for Christ in ministering to those needs, and a truthful witness to his message.”

Jeffrey Font

Jeffrey Joseph Font, 44, grew up in St. Edward the Confessor Parish. He and his wife, Lisamarie, are currently members of St. Joseph Parish in Brookfield. They have four daughters, ages 10-15.

He attended Consolidated School in New Fairfield and graduated from New Fairfield High School. He is currently a product specialist with Centrix Dental in Shelton.

He first became interested in the diaconate 15 years ago, encouraged by his pastor at St. Edward’s, Msgr. Martin Ryan. Recently married and with a growing family, he put the thought on hold for a time but the calling continued to grow stronger and was encouraged by his wife and children.

Deacon Font will assist at a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Joseph’s on June 14 at 11 am. Father Chip O’Neill, St. Joseph’s pastor, will be the principal celebrant. Deacon Font will give the homily.

“I want to become a deacon because I want to serve God and to minister to his people,” he says. “It is a difficult world we live in and people need someone they can go to in times of trouble and struggle. They need others who may be able to help them with their faith and be with them in prayer and comfort.”

Ernest Jeffers

Ernest Louis Jeffers, Jr., 50, was born in Queens, N.Y., but grew up in Stamford where he is a member of St. Bridget of Ireland Parish. He and his wife, Magdalene, have four children, three boys and a girl, ranging in age from 17 to 31 years old.

He attended Sacred Heart elementary school (where he met his wife in seventh grade) and graduated from Westhill High School in Stamford. He is currently a production coordinator for Stamford Tent & Event Services. He credits his former pastor, Father Gil Babeau, and current one, Father Ed McAuley, Jr., with encouraging his vocation.

Deacon Jeffers will assist at a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Bridget on June 14 at 11:45 am. Father Ed McAuley will be the principal celebrant. Deacon Jeffers will give the homily.

“I would love to continue my work in my parish, especially with the youth group who are such a joy. They give me great hope for the future of our Church,” says Jeffers, who was a youth football coach for many years. “I also have a hope of working in prison ministry and with people who have lost their way and have given up hope. I want to be there for those who need to be pulled back to God.”

Patrick Shevlin

Patrick James Shevlin, 56, was born in Scranton, Penn., but grew up in Bridgeport, where he graduated from St. Ann School (now St. Ann Academy). He went to Notre Dame Catholic High School in Fairfield and holds an AS degree in sociology from the University of Scranton and a BS in business management from Charter Oak State College in New Britain. He is associate director of business intelligence for Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals in Ridgefield.

He and his wife, Doreen, are parishioners of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown. They have three children, all in their twenties.

Deacon Shevlin will assist at a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Rose on June 21 at 12 noon. Msgr Robert Weiss, St. Rose’s pastor, will be the principal celebrant and will give the homily.

“By the time I was a teenager I began to ask God to let me know his will for me,” he says. “The first time I distinctly heard his reply was when I met my Doreen, whom I knew with certainty was to become my wife. It was through working with RCIA that I realized that God was calling me to the diaconate. Upon entering the formation program, I felt the same type of certainty as when I met my wife, that peaceful and energized feeling from knowing that this is part of God’s plan for me.”

John Tuccio

John Nicholas Tuccio, 70, was born in New Haven, where he was baptized in St. Anthony Parish, and grew up in Ansonia. His father was one of 10 children and, during his childhood, Tuccio remembers seeing the entire extended family at Sunday Mass at Holy Rosary Parish in Ansonia.

He went to Larkin School in Ansonia and Notre Dame High School in West Haven. He holds a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Bridgeport and an MS in project management from Boston University. He retired after 49 years as a project manager with IBM in Southbury.

He and his wife, Helen, are members of St. Jude Parish in Monroe. The couple has four adult children, two boys and two girls.

“When Helen and I moved to Monroe and became members of St. Jude, we discovered a faith-based community of families,” he says. The clergy, in particular Msgr. John Sabia and Father Skip Karcinski, and the families of St. Jude’s played a significant role in my call to the diaconate. They reinforce the realization that faith is more than Mass on Sunday, but a calling to support the entire week.”

Dr. Joseph Gerics to lead Trinity Catholic High School
| June 11, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Dr. Joseph Gerics, Associate Superintendent for Secondary Education, Archdiocese of New York, has been named Principal of Trinity Catholic High School, 926 Newfield Avenue in Stamford.

The appointment was made by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and Sister Mary Grace Walsh, ASCJ, Ph.D., Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport. It is effective beginning July 1, 2015.

“Joe Gerics is a recognized leader in Catholic education both in our diocese and in the Archdiocese of New York,” said Bishop Caggiano. “As Trinity Catholic High School moves forward with its Envision Campaign for the future, we believe Joe will provide energetic, experienced and faith filled leadership.”

Sister Mary Grace Walsh said “Dr. Gerics will be a tremendous resource to the Trinity Catholic school community with his expertise in faculty development, strategic planning, advancement, and board development.  

“We’re excited about welcoming him back to the Diocese of Bridgeport, where he has provided distinguished service and successful leadership in the past,” she said. “During a time of challenge and opportunity, Dr. Gerics will help to guide Trinity into a new era.”

Founded in 1958 as Stamford Catholic High School, the school was re-named Trinity Catholic High School in 1991, when it became a regional Catholic High School attracting students from Norwalk, Greenwich, Ridgefield and Wilton in addition to the greater Stamford area. The schools numbers almost 450 young men and women, and recently announced the Envision Campaign to upgrade facilities and educational resources.

Dr. Gerics was a teacher at Fairfield College Preparatory School prior to being named Principal of Immaculate High School in 1996. There he was credited with bringing about a renaissance by increasing enrollment, improving the curriculum and creating a fund-raising program and an advisory board. In 2004 he moved to New York, where he has served as Headmaster at Xavier High School in Manhattan, and most recently as Associate Superintendent in the Archdiocese.

Dr. Gerics holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Fairfield University, and a Master's degree and Doctorate in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. He has also completed studies at the Institute for Not-for-Profit Management at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business.

Dr. Gerics and his wife Susan reside in Trumbull and are members of the Cathedral Parish in Bridgeport. They are the parents of a grown son, Joseph Angelo.

ABOUT TRINITY CATHOLIC: Trinity Catholic High School is a coeducational college preparatory Diocesan high school located on 26 acres in northern Stamford, Connecticut. The student body is comprised of residents of Fairfield County, Connecticut, and lower Westchester County, New York, as well as a number of students from other countries in the school’s international program.  

ENVISION CAMPAIGN: In April of this year, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano presided over the groundbreaking ceremony for the brand new, multi-million dollar sports complex to be located on the Newfield Avenue campus. The groundbreaking follows three years of planning and is part of the school's multi-year ENVISION Campaign to completely upgrade and renovate its facilities and provide the latest educational technology. Phase 1 of the campaign include a complete refurbishing of the rear-of-school field campus to include a brand-new, multi-purpose, turf field.  Additional phases include a new media center and auditorium upgrades, and plant improvements.

(For more info on the ENVISION Campaign or Trinity Catholic High School, please contact the school: 203.322.3401.)

Bishop will ordain Deacon Class of 2015
| June 11, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will ordain six men as deacons for the Diocese of Bridgeport on June 13 at 11 am in St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Fairfield.

Preparing to serve, the Deacon Class of 2015 will be ordained
on June 13. (l-r) Front row: Anthony Caraluzzi, Jeffrey Font,
John Tuccio. Back row: David Flynn, Ernest Jeffers, Patrick Shevlin.

In preparation for their ordination, the men attended a week-long retreat at Mt. Alvernia Retreat House in Wappingers Falls, N.Y. They began their retreat on Sunday, April 26, and were joined by their wives in the middle of the week.

“While the men are the ones called to ordination as deacon, the decision to request ordination is a joint decision by the man and his wife,” stated Deacon Tony Detje, diocesan director of deacons.

Anthony Caraluzzi

Anthony Caraluzzi, 56, and his wife, Debra Ann, are members of St. Mary Parish in Bethel. This September they will be celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. The couple has three children in their twenties.

St. Mary’s is his home parish in a way rarely seen now: he was baptized at St. Mary’s, had First Holy Communion and Confirmation there, and went to St. Mary’s elementary school. After graduating from Immaculate High School in Danbury, he attended Fairfield University, where he holds a B.A. degree in economics. He has been the owner of Taunton Wine & Liquor in Newtown for the past 23 years.

Deacon Caraluzzi will assist at a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Mary’s on June 14 at 11:30 am. Father Corey Piccinino, St. Mary’s pastor, will be the principal celebrant; Deacon John DeRoin will give the homily.

“The diaconate call is simply a call to serve,” he says. “I’m not entirely sure if there is any one particular ministry that God has in mind for me, though I do believe hospital ministry will be an important part of my ministry work. However, I trust that God will give me what I need for whatever his will is for me.”

David Flynn

David Francis Flynn, 60, and his wife Anita belong to St. Jude Parish in Monroe. The couple has four grown children, two boys and two girls.

Deacon Flynn grew up in a devout family who owned a grain and dairy farm in rural Minnesota. After attending Catholic elementary school and public high school, he enrolled in St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., run by the Benedictine monks. He holds a B.A. in business administration from St. John’s, and another from the University of Minnesota-St. Paul in agricultural economics. He is currently a senior director of Jones Lang LaSalle.

After relocating to the East Coast from the Midwest, the Flynns found meaningful relationships through their parishes and through the Cursillo movement. From that came the decision to profess as a Benedictine Oblate.

Deacon Flynn will assist at a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Jude’s on June 14 at 12 noon. Benedictine Father Eric Hollas, O.S.B., will be the principal celebrant and deliver the homily.

“I believe that each of us is carrying a burden that is causing pain and suffering,” says Deacon Flynn. “A relationship with Jesus will ease or release that burden, and our faith offers a path to fully experience the comfort Jesus offers. I hope to be a useful instrument for Christ in ministering to those needs, and a truthful witness to his message.”

Jeffrey Font

Jeffrey Joseph Font, 44, grew up in St. Edward the Confessor Parish. He and his wife, Lisamarie, are currently members of St. Joseph Parish in Brookfield. They have four daughters, ages 10-15.

He attended Consolidated School in New Fairfield and graduated from New Fairfield High School. He is currently a product specialist with Centrix Dental in Shelton.

He first became interested in the diaconate 15 years ago, encouraged by his pastor at St. Edward’s, Msgr. Martin Ryan. Recently married and with a growing family, he put the thought on hold for a time but the calling continued to grow stronger and was encouraged by his wife and children.

Deacon Font will assist at a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Joseph’s on June 14 at 11 am. Father Chip O’Neill, St. Joseph’s pastor, will be the principal celebrant. Deacon Font will give the homily.

“I want to become a deacon because I want to serve God and to minister to his people,” he says. “It is a difficult world we live in and people need someone they can go to in times of trouble and struggle. They need others who may be able to help them with their faith and be with them in prayer and comfort.”

Ernest Jeffers

Ernest Louis Jeffers, Jr., 50, was born in Queens, N.Y., but grew up in Stamford where he is a member of St. Bridget of Ireland Parish. He and his wife, Magdalene, have four children, three boys and a girl, ranging in age from 17 to 31 years old.

He attended Sacred Heart elementary school (where he met his wife in seventh grade) and graduated from Westhill High School in Stamford. He is currently a production coordinator for Stamford Tent & Event Services. He credits his former pastor, Father Gil Babeau, and current one, Father Ed McAuley, Jr., with encouraging his vocation.

Deacon Jeffers will assist at a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Bridget on June 14 at 11:45 am. Father Ed McAuley will be the principal celebrant. Deacon Jeffers will give the homily.

“I would love to continue my work in my parish, especially with the youth group who are such a joy. They give me great hope for the future of our Church,” says Jeffers, who was a youth football coach for many years. “I also have a hope of working in prison ministry and with people who have lost their way and have given up hope. I want to be there for those who need to be pulled back to God.”

Patrick Shevlin

Patrick James Shevlin, 56, was born in Scranton, Penn., but grew up in Bridgeport, where he graduated from St. Ann School (now St. Ann Academy). He went to Notre Dame Catholic High School in Fairfield and holds an AS degree in sociology from the University of Scranton and a BS in business management from Charter Oak State College in New Britain. He is associate director of business intelligence for Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals in Ridgefield.

He and his wife, Doreen, are parishioners of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown. They have three children, all in their twenties.

Deacon Shevlin will assist at a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Rose on June 21 at 12 noon. Msgr Robert Weiss, St. Rose’s pastor, will be the principal celebrant and will give the homily.

“By the time I was a teenager I began to ask God to let me know his will for me,” he says. “The first time I distinctly heard his reply was when I met my Doreen, whom I knew with certainty was to become my wife. It was through working with RCIA that I realized that God was calling me to the diaconate. Upon entering the formation program, I felt the same type of certainty as when I met my wife, that peaceful and energized feeling from knowing that this is part of God’s plan for me.”

John Tuccio

John Nicholas Tuccio, 70, was born in New Haven, where he was baptized in St. Anthony Parish, and grew up in Ansonia. His father was one of 10 children and, during his childhood, Tuccio remembers seeing the entire extended family at Sunday Mass at Holy Rosary Parish in Ansonia.

He went to Larkin School in Ansonia and Notre Dame High School in West Haven. He holds a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Bridgeport and an MS in project management from Boston University. He retired after 49 years as a project manager with IBM in Southbury.

He and his wife, Helen, are members of St. Jude Parish in Monroe. The couple has four adult children, two boys and two girls.

“When Helen and I moved to Monroe and became members of St. Jude, we discovered a faith-based community of families,” he says. The clergy, in particular Msgr. John Sabia and Father Skip Karcinski, and the families of St. Jude’s played a significant role in my call to the diaconate. They reinforce the realization that faith is more than Mass on Sunday, but a calling to support the entire week.”  

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
| June 09, 2015


On Wednesday, June 3, Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass., celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony for its new library and media center, to be built as an addition to the present seminary structure, which is fifty years old.

Deck Garden Update: My first two strawberries
of the season! They were delicious (and very fresh! Ha ha!).
Maybe next year I will plant three strawberry plants.
The berries ripen a couple at a time, so if I had three plants,
I could have more of a meal as they ripen by picking six
at a time instead of two.

The name of the seminary has changed to reflect
the recent canonization of its namesake.

Is there a special place where you go to buy
shiny shovels for groundbreaking ceremonies??

An architectural model of the seminary with addition.

Future member of the seminary class of 2046?

Cardinal Sean O’Malley and Father William Palardy,
rector, reflect in prayer before the groundbreaking.

The seminary bell tower stands like a sundial
marking the passage of the years.

Dig in!! Two former rectors and the current rector
join the Cardinal in playfully tossing some dirt
for the cameras (Left: Msgr. Cornelius McRae;
second from left; Auxiliary Bishop Peter J. Uglietto).

Each fall the seminary holds its largest fundraiser—
the lawn party—in a large, majestic tent.
The groundbreaking saw a mini-version
of the lawn party tent for the cocktail reception
after the ceremony.

This is the first “brick and mortar” addition to the seminary since its founding in 1964. Updates, upgrades, and renovations have been made on a regular basis to the interior of the buildings (including a recent renovation of its chapel), but this addition represents the first time that the seminary has expanded its original architectural footprint.

Pope St. John himself, and perhaps Cardinal Cushing (the seminary founder) put in a special request with Jesus for perfect weather for the event, and the request was granted! It was a splendid evening for an outdoor ceremony in June.

About 100 people attended the ceremony, including Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, and Auxiliary Bishop for Boston, Peter J. Uglietto (former professor and then rector at the seminary). Monsignor Cornelius McRae, former rector and former spiritual director at North American College in Rome, was also on hand for the festivities. In addition to local clergy and clergy alumni, current and former staff members as well as benefactors and other well-wishers were present.

After the ceremony, all were invited to a large event-tent for au d’oeuvres and cocktails. In all, it was a wonderful event.

In addition to the pictures and captions that accompany this blog, a video of the event was made by Catholic TV in Boston, and can be viewed by clicking on the following link:

Pope St. John XXIII Seminary is designed for later—or second-career—vocations, and has a one-year pre-theology program in addition to its 4-year major theology program. It is located about 15 miles west of Boston (off the Mass  Pike), and enjoys broad support from the greater-Boston Catholic community.

In fact, I am a proud alumnus of the seminary, and am delighted to be able to promote its mission by posting a blog about it. If you would like to read a previous blog I posted about the seminary, please go to my blog archives and click on the blog entitled, “Vocation Awareness.”

The Diocese of Bridgeport has many priest-alumni from the seminary, including Msgr. John Sanders, Father Henry Hoffman, Father Nick Pavia, Father Chip O’Neill, Father Frank Winn, and Father Fred Riendeau. Presently, two seminarians from the Diocese of Bridgeport are studying there, and one more may be entering this fall.

Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary has its own Facebook page, and the seminary’s website can be found at

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Thousands visit relics of St. Anthony of Padua in Bridgeport
| June 08, 2015


PADUA, Italy—More than 7,500 faithful turned out to venerate a holy relic of St. Anthony of Padua last weekend at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bridgeport.

“People came from all over the state,” said Father Frank Gomez, pastor. “In addition we have over a thousand people attending our Haitian, Spanish and Brazilian Masses and they also processed past the relics.”

Fr. Gomez said that veneration followed each of the eight Masses celebrated on June 6 and June 7.
This June, in honor of the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua, Father Paolo Floretta brought the a holy relic of St. Anthony to the U.S. from the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua, Italy to four dioceses in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Devotion to Saint Anthony is a part of life for many people in the Tri-State region, and an encounter with the relic moves it to the forefront.
Pope Francis has been inspired by St. Anthony and St. Francis’ love, care and concern for the poor and marginalized. Pope Francis once said, “Relics are parts of the body of a saint which was the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Through this body, the saints practiced heroic values recognized by the Church.”
Born in 1195 in Portugal, St. Anthony of Padua was born and raised in a wealthy family in Lisbon. He joined the Franciscan Order, and was noted by his contemporaries for his forceful preaching and expert knowledge of Scripture. He died in Padua in 1231 at the age of 35, and was canonized a year after his death. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1946.
(For more info, contact Tom Muscatello with the Anthonian Association: 914.263.8841. For more on St. Anthony, go to

The Diocese celebrates the Feast of Corpus Christi
| June 08, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—This past Sunday, the Diocese of Bridgeport celebrated the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. Parishes in Norwalk, Westport, Bridgeport and Danbury all held processions in honor of this feast day.

Saint Philip Parish, Saint Ann Parish, Saint Peter Parish, Assumption Parish, Saint Charles Parish, and Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish all hosted vibrant processions that included recent recipients of First Holy Communion.

Bishop Frank Caggiano also posted a concise and powerful reflection on this important day:

“Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christi—the Feast of the Holy Body and Blood of Christ. We acknowledge the mystery of the Lord’s real, enduring and substantial presence in the Eucharist, under the form of bread and wine. It is a great gift that has been given to the Church, in our pilgrimage towards eternal life. We believe that our Lord continues to dwell in our midst, feeding, leading and blessing us with His real presence.
In theological terms, Saint Thomas Aquinas explained the change that occurs at Mass with the term ‘transubstantiation.’ This explanation is based on a philosophical distinction made by Aristotle, who distinguished between the ‘substance’ of a reality and its ‘accidents.’ Substance refers to what makes a reality essentially itself. Accidents refer to those qualities that can be different and do not change the essential character of the reality in question.
For example, human beings possess very different qualities that are considered ‘accidents,’ such as varying height, weight, color of their skin, facial features, etc. However, every human being is substantially the same because as human beings, we all share the same ‘substance.’
In terms of the Eucharist, while consecrated bread and wine retain ‘accidents’ similar to regular bread, we believe that it is ‘substantially’ changed into the body and blood of Jesus the Lord. Interesting, the fact that the Eucharist shares similar accidents with ordinary bread have caused many to conclude that the consecrated bread and wine are merely ‘symbols’ of Christ’s presence. On the other hand, we hold that a substantial change has occurred because of the prayer of consecration and the power of the Holy Spirit. So the Eucharist may look and taste like ordinary bread and wine, but it is no longer ordinary bread and wine. It has been substantially changed into the Sacred Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
If you are having a problem understanding this profound mystery, you are certainly not alone. However, what is essential is this: Christ has maintained His promise to remain with us, in a real, substantial and enduring way, to the end of time, through the great gift of the Eucharist.”

Bishop’s goal: Take 300 to Poland for World Youth Day
| June 05, 2015 • by By: Jim Shay


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Caggiano has set a goal of taking 300 young people from the Bridgeport Diocese to World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland next year.

“It is my hope that people from all economic backgrounds will be able to attend. In that spirit, I have instituted two programs to ease the financial burden of this trip, our scholarship program, and our incentive program,” Caggiano posted on his Facebook page.

The 12-day trip begins on Friday, July 22, 2016. The trip will also include a visit to the Auschwitz, the German concentration camp where millions lost their lives, including Saints Maximilian Kolbe, and Edith Stein. After stopping there, the group is hoping to make a brief stop in Wadowice, the home town of John Paul II. On July 27, the group will welcome Pope Francis to Krakow. The group will also attend a candlelight vigil and outdoor Mass with the pope.

Caggiano said those who register by 11:59 p.m.Monday, June 8 will qualify for the incentive program. “They will have until August 31st to recommend up to two people; if both of those people sign up, the original registrant will earn 1,500 dollars (or 1,000, if they recommend one person). Furthermore, anyone recommended will earn 500 dollars towards their trip.”

The bishop said “We are also providing need-based scholarships for those who cannot afford this trip. We will begin the distribution of funds starting June 17, which will constitute our first wave of scholarships. I encourage everyone who needs it to apply for our scholarships.”

Caggiano said young people “can sign up without a deposit, and that you do not have to make that deposit until scholarship funds are distributed. My goal is to make attending this trip as easy as possible. I cannot emphasize enough how much I believe in World Youth Day, I wish I could send every eligible young adult in our Diocese. The experience is so incredibly moving and powerful, and it is my hope that the 300 people our Diocese sends will come out of the trip enriched, fulfilled, and on fire for the Lord.”" target="_blank">Here is the registration link
Twitter: @diobpt_wyd
WYD Facebook
Bishop Caggiano Facebook page.

The hidden poor of Appalachia
| June 04, 2015 • by By Tony Magliano


Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano

Back in the mid-1980s, I was working as a director of religious education at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in western Maryland.
That part of Maryland, like parts of 12 other U.S. eastern states—from Alabama to New York, and all of West Virginia—is part of the Appalachian Mountain region.

In those days, as I got to know the beauty of Appalachia, and some of the simple, friendly and caring mountain folks, I discovered the grinding poverty many of them were experiencing.

Hidden largely out of sight in the mountains and hollows were people living in shacks with no indoor plumbing.They would haul water from the nearest spring.
I remember Judy, who helped with our ecumenical special education Bible class.The winter before we met, she and her family lived in a tent in the mountain woods. It’s a miracle they survived.

And I remember the coal companies. Their deep mining, and mountaintop removal mining, raped the land, and polluted the air, rivers and streams. Their blasting regularly damaged the houses of many already poor Appalachian residents. And sadly, these abuses continue to this day.

But you can help correct some of this injustice. Please urge your U.S. representative to co-sponsor the “Appalachian Emergency Community Health Act” (H.R. 912) which is designed to determine the health hazards of mountaintop removal coal mining, and hopefully lead to its end. And urge your two U.S. senators to introduce a companion bill in the Senate.

To learn more about the dangers of mountaintop removal mining please visit

And consider visiting the “Catholic Committee of Appalachia”, and “Glenmary Home Missioners” to learn more about the church’s ministry in Appalachia.   

Forty years ago the Catholic bishops of the Appalachian region wrote a document that reflects the courage of a prophet, the intellect of a sage, and the beauty of a poet.
“This Land is Home to Me,” is a pastoral letter that reflects the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains, as well as the powerlessness of many of its inhabitants.
The bishops wrote that the destructive growth patterns of corporate giants like the coal companies often pollute the air, foul the water and rape the land.
They declared, “The driving force behind this perversion is ‘Maximization of Profit,’ a principle which too often converts itself into an idolatrous power. … It delivers up control to a tiny minority whose values then shape our social structures. … It has become clear to us that the present economic order does not care for its people. In fact, profit and people frequently are contradictory. Profit over people is an idol. … This is not a problem only for mountain folk; it is everybody’s problem.”
Now that’s prophetic!
Do yourself, Appalachia, and the world a favor by reading “This Land is Home to Me.” It will challenge you to make a difference!
I leave you with its inspiring closing words: “The dream of the mountains’ struggle, the dream of simplicity and of justice, like so many other repressed visions, is, we believe, the voice of the Lord among us.

“In taking them up, hopefully the church might once again be known as

•    a center of the Spirit,
•    a place where poetry dares to speak,
•    where the song reigns unchallenged,
•    where art flourishes,
•    where nature is welcome,
•    where little people and little needs come first,
•    where justice speaks loudly,
•    where in a wilderness of idolatrous destruction the great voice of God still cries out for life.”

Walk for loved ones
| June 04, 2015


BROOKFIELD—At the beginning of June, students of St. Joseph School honored their grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and—in a few tragic cases—closer relatives who were victims of cancer.

For the annual Cancer Awareness Walk, students prepared posters with the names of those they loved and remembered.

They gathered together in prayer before setting out on the walk, determining to be part of the cure for this disease.

Click here to watch the video!

War, greed, consumerism, ‘cult of appearance’ harm families, pope says
| June 04, 2015 • by By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Families are weakened and destroyed by war, “the mother of all forms of poverty,” as well as by economies and policies that worship money and power, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis speaks during his weekly audience
Wednesday in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.
(CNS/EPA/Alessandro Di Meo)

“It’s almost a miracle” that, even in poverty and crisis, the family can keep on going, safeguarding its bonds and staying intact, he said at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square June 3.

Leaders who consider family ties and affection as something peripheral to the quality of life “don’t understand a thing,” he said. “Instead, we should kneel before these families, who are a true school of humanity, who are saving society from barbarity.”

Continuing a series of talks about the family, the pope began a new chapter addressing the various social conditions and problems that put today’s families to the test.

The pope began by focusing on the hardship of poverty, which is further aggravated by war.

“War is always something terrible,” he said, as it is “a great predator of lives, of souls and the most sacred and dearest of attachments.”

But despite such difficulties, there still are many poor families who are able to live “with dignity, seeking to live their daily life” and placing their trust in God, the pope said.

The ability of some poor families to persevere, “however, must not justify our indifference, but, if anything, increase our shame that there is so much poverty,” he said.

“What are we left with, in fact, if we give in to the extortion of Caesar and Mammon, of violence and money, and we also reject familial attachments?” he asked.

Healthy families are the “mainstay” of healthy individuals and communities, he said, so if that cornerstone is removed, “everything collapses.”

“Today’s economy often specializes in the enjoyment of individual well-being, but widely practices the exploitation of family relationships. This is a serious contradiction,” he said, criticizing economic and political experts as being “stingy” in not recognizing or including the “enormous work of the family” in their analyses and balance sheets.

“A new civil ethics will come about only when those responsible for public life reorganize social bonds starting with the fight against the perverse spiral” of poverty, he said.

Fighting poverty is not just a matter of families getting “bread” on the table, the pope said; it is about having jobs, stable employment, education, health care, housing and transportation.

The conditions found in poor neighborhoods and “the reduction of social services—health care and schooling—cause further difficulties” for families, he said.

Spread by the mass media, “fake models” of the family based on “consumerism and the cult of appearance” also harm families, he said, and have a greater impact on poorer families and increase the breakdown of family ties.

The church and its members are called to heal families and fight poverty, he said.

By becoming “poor” and practicing simplicity, the pope said, the church can break down “every wall of separation, especially from the poor” and become more effective in responding to poverty.

Pope Francis called on Christian families to pray and act on behalf of those in need, and join “this revolution” of drawing near to families, “which is so needed now.”

He asked those gathered in the square to listen carefully and think of a disadvantaged family they knew as he reread a passage from the Book of Sirach (4:1-6) that had been read at the start of the audience.

The verses tell people not to mock, anger or reject the poor, but to relieve them of their burdens.

The poor will be the first to judge those who ignore their cries, he said, followed by God's judgment and curse “if we don’t do these things” commanded in the Gospel.

Donating 'Nature's Candy' is an Act of Kindness
| June 03, 2015


STRATFORD—In honor of their 50th Anniversary, St. Mark School in Stratford has been performing "50 Acts of Kindness" throughout the school year.

Act of Kindness #46 was Fresh Fruit Friday. Each member of the school community was asked to donate a fresh piece of fruit to the Bridgeport Rescue Mission and the Storehouse Food Pantry in Milford. The fruit was delivered the same day it was collected. While the local food pantries generally ask for canned goods, they were ecstatic to accept the fresh produce. Many less fortunate families do not have the opportunity to enjoy a healthy piece of fresh fruit, "nature's candy." The community service project was such a success that next week will be "Fresh Vegetable Friday!"

Cardinal Shehan Center unwraps $2 million Capital Campaign
| June 03, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—The Cardinal Shehan Center of the Diocese of Bridgeport announced the launch of a capital campaign to raise $2 million for facilities improvement and educational scholarships to local Catholic Schools.

The announcement was made today on the grounds of the Cathedral Academy Upper Campus (on the grounds of St. Augustine Cathedral), one of the four Catholic schools in Bridgeport sponsored by the Diocese of Bridgeport.

The Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport, joined Cardinal Shehan Center Executive Director, Terry O’Connor, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and other community leaders for the announcement of the first Shehan Center Capital Campaign in its 50-year history.

“As a city and a Church we need to invest in young people,” said Bishop Caggiano. “If we attend to their needs and help them develop, they will blossom into future leaders. The Cardinal Shehan Center is unique in its ability to reach out. ”

O’Connor said that $500,000 would go toward upgrades to Shehan Center’s historic facility on Main Street in downtown Bridgeport, and an additional $500,000 will be added to the Shehan Center endowment fund to ensure long-term viability of the youth center.

A key initiative of the campaign will be the creation of a $1 million fund to help pay tuition for Shehan Center members who need financial assistance to attend a Catholic school in Bridgeport.

O’Connor said the Shehan Center has helped its high school age members with financial assistance to Catholic schools since 1995 through the David Liptak Fund. The new scholarship assistance fund created by the capital campaign will benefit students who seek to enroll in Catholic elementary schools or who need assistance of remain in one.

“If the father of one of our members already enrolled in a Catholic schools loses his job and can no longer make tuition payment, the fund will kick in,” O’Connor explained.

Those on hand for the announcement overwhelmingly endorsed the Shehan Center as a unique institution serving Bridgeport youth as well as those from surrounding towns.

“Thousands of kids depend on this facility,” said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, who noted that his own children took swimming lessons at the center. “It’s an example of how to do it right.”

“The Shehan Center is a fundamental institution at the heart of the city. It makes a difference every day,” said Robert Panza of Trumbull, a member of the investment committee that launched the campaign.

Twelve-year old Joseph Vu, who enjoyed having his photo taken with the bishop, told the gathering he is a member of the Shehan Center and is in 6th grade at Cathedral Academy, and that he loved being at both places.

The bishop reminded those in attendance that the Shehan Center was named for Cardinal Lawrence J. Shehan, the first Bishop of Bridgeport. “He understood the importance of youth to the future,” said the Bishop. “And our recently completed Diocesan Synod has also put youth and the young Church at the center of everything we do. They are not our future, they are here with us right now in the Church.”

The bishop also noted that the Shehan Endowment will compliment the work of the new Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, which provides assistance to students in cities and suburbs across the diocese who require financial aid in order to attend Catholic elementary and high schools.

Opened in 1962 in downtown Bridgeport, the Shehan Center provides a lively mix of educational and recreational programs to young people of all faiths in the Bridgeport area. Many of its members also attend Catholic schools and require scholarship assistance.

The 129-year old facility has been well maintained, but O’Connor says the capital campaign will pay for upgraded lockers and bathrooms for boys and girls, and other program related renovations.

 “While bringing about ongoing safety, energy efficiency and other improvements to our building, the capital campaign will position us for success in the 21st century, expanding both the extent and scope of services that impact the lives of our young people,” said O’Connor.

In 1961, the Diocese of Bridgeport received this building as a donation and the Cardinal Shehan Center opened one year later. With an indoor swimming pool, gymnasium, fitness center, game room, arts and crafts room, member’s lounge, dark room, computer lab, library, music room and outdoor facilities, the Center is an outstanding community resource.

The Shehan Center offers a wide range of educational and recreational programs including after-school and tutoring programs, mentoring, basketball camp and leagues, swimming lessons, summer camp and physical educations. Throughout the year it also sponsors a wide range of events that involve the entire community such as the Red Ribbon Ball, the Great Shehan Trivia Contest, the Dodge Ball Tournament, golf classics, March Madness basketball tournament and other activities.

Carla Klein and David D’Addario are Honorary Chairs of the Committee.

The Cardinal Shehan Center serves young people of all faith. It is located at 1494 Main Street in Bridgeport. For information or to make a gift to the capital campaign, call 203.336.4468. Online at:

Episode IV: Class of 2015
| June 03, 2015


FAIRFIELD—As their final farewell, Notre Dame High School’s Class of ’15 have put out a video capturing the energy of their four years together.

“In September of 2011, approximately 100 little freshmen entered the halls of Notre Dame.

These freshmen carried huge back packs in the hallways, walked through doors the wrong way, and wore their skirts down to their ankles…” Come along and see these confident seniors say farewell to Notre Dame in their own dynamic style.

Click here to watch the video!

Fairfield University trustee, Milford business leader honored by Irish university for his commitment to higher education
| June 02, 2015


FAIRFIELD—Kevin M. Conlisk '66, a member of Fairfield University’s Board of Trustees, was recently presented with the President’s Medal by the University of Limerick in Ireland for establishing a scholarship that has educated Irish business students at Fairfield for 25 years.

Kevin M. Conlisk, right, receiving the President’s Medal
from President Don Barry at the University of Limerick
honoring his commitment to the accessibility of higher
education and 34 years of the Rev. John M. Conlisk Irish Scholarship.

Conlisk, principal and chief financial officer of Milford-based Alinabal Holdings Corporation, is the driving force behind the Rev. John M. Conlisk Irish Scholarship which was established in 1981 at the University of Bridgeport and moved to Fairfield University in 1990. It was founded by Conlisk in memory of his late brother, a 1954 Fairfield Prep graduate who was pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Georgetown, St. Patrick Parish in Redding and St. Jerome Parish in Norwalk.

The full scholarship was established when the Irish economy was struggling. A group of Irish Americans, led by Conlisk, believed it would enhance the job prospects of young people from Ireland, while enabling them to further their education in America and make business contacts. It covers all tuition, housing and medical insurance expenses for the time it takes to earn a master’s degree from Fairfield University’s Dolan School of Business and is awarded annually.  

“It is a very special award and as such has only been presented to a very select few,” a university official said of the President's Medal, which was established in 2002 to honor individuals who have provided outstanding support and service to the University of Limerick where dozens of Conlisk scholars earned their undergraduate degrees.

The scholarship is dedicated to the purpose of perpetuating Irish culture and of strengthening educational and cultural relationships between Ireland and the Fairfield community in Connecticut.

Donald E. Gibson, Ph.D., professor and dean of the Dolan School of Business, described the scholarship as “a game-changer” for deserving students from Ireland to advance their business studies in the U.S. “The students benefit from our strong curriculum, and we benefit—students and faculty—from the opportunity to interact with smart people who are going to make a difference, both here and in Ireland.”

Mark Ligas, Ph.D., associate dean and director of graduate programs, concurred. “Each scholar I have worked with has seen this opportunity as a life-changer,” he said.

A current Conlisk scholar is Sean Donovan of Callan, County Kilkenny, who is pursuing an MBA, with a concentration in accounting. “Receiving the scholarship has brightened my future,” said Donovan. “It means I will have more choices and possibilities in my career.”

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Parakeet Lost
| June 02, 2015


This blog post is part catharsis, part requiem, and part acknowledgment of my own failure to act responsibly with regard to caring for one of my parakeets, Snowball.

Snowball has literally flown the coop, and while he bears some responsibility, the responsibility for his disappearance rests almost entirely with me. Before I give the details of how Snowball became lost, I need to give some background about my interest in birds.

Deck Garden Update (DGU): One of my strawberries
is ripening! Yesterday, I saw organic strawberries priced
at $9.99 per pound at Village Market in Wilton (then again,
it is also know as the "Village mark-up!").

DGU: Monica enjoys lying in the grass. She seems
unconcerned about Snowball's disappearance
(notice how much more fit and trim she looks!
For reference to her previous girth, look up "Monica"
in blog archives).

DGU: "This barrel-planter is not big enough for the two
of us." My ADHD cat, Katie, in a rare, tranquil moment.

DGU: I planted corn, melons, and wildflowers in these
biodegradable seed-starters, but so far, only the melons
and two shoots of corn have come up (my deck garden
ambitions are growing!).

DGU: Cantaloupe sprouting!!!

Snowball and Amber.

In fourth grade, we incubated chicken eggs in school and watched the chickens hatch. After the birds were a few days old, my teacher asked if any of us wanted to take one home. Of course, I arrived home with a pet chicken!

If a bird hatches and the first thing it sees is a human, that bird will “imprint” to humans. In other words, it will think it is human and will naturally bond to people. We had a small, portable cage that we put it in, and during those beautiful spring days, our black-lab, Sheba, would stand guard beside the chicken for hours at a time. Baby chickens have small upper bodies but very long legs, and they can run really fast. I don’t remember if I named the bird, but I do remember letting it run in the yard, and it would run toward one end of the yard and then back to me at high speed. It was a great pet. But when it got a little bigger, we put it in a larger cage out back built into the ground, and we think a raccoon dug under the fence and got the chicken. It was a sad day to see the hole and the empty cage, but that little chick had a good, if brief, existence. I loved that bird.

A few years later, my mom bought me a baby duck from a pet store, and that too was proving to be a great pet, until it too met raccoon disaster (we thought we had raccoon-proofed the cage!)

Soon after I was ordained a priest in 1999, I became a very part-time volunteer at the Ansonia Nature Center, which is a magnificent little institution that most people do not even know exists. For a $100 donation way back when, I became a “lifetime member,” and still receive their quarterly newsletters. In the years since I first became a lifetime member, I have continued to make donations to the organization, so I may be an eight or nine lifetime member by now!

My first assignment as a priest was in Shelton, which for those of you who do not know, is in “The Valley.” It is the southernmost town in the Housatonic River valley, and the only “valley” town in Fairfield County. When I lived in Shelton, I never experienced any sense of living in a valley, but the further north one goes, the more pronounced the valley topography becomes.

Living in downtown Shelton orients one to valley towns such as Derby and Ansonia, which are literally across the river. I don’t remember how I found Ansonia Nature Center (ANC), but my first assignment as a volunteer was to feed the baby birds that were brought in by the dozens by well-meaning denizens of the area. In the spring, baby birds fall out of their nests, become orphaned, etc., and ANC was a primary drop-off point for orphaned baby birds, mostly sparrows, but a good number of starlings and some robins too.

In a back workroom, nests of hungry baby birds were lined up on a counter, and it was my job (along with other volunteers and ANC employees) to feed these birds. We used an oatmeal formula, and fed the birds with flat wooden sticks that looked like mini tongue depressors. Whenever you hovered the stick over the baby birds, loud chirping ensued and the babies opened their large, bright-orange beaks begging for food.

In this stage of life, they needed to be fed, and nature provided ready cues for them. Their mouths, or beaks, were over-sized compared to their heads. This was to ensure that momma bird would have an easy shot when drooping in food, and the almost fluorescent color of their beaks would make them visible in a dark nest.

There was an intern of some sort there a few times when I was feeding the birds. After a couple of hours, I would report to him and say, “I fed all the birds.”

He would respond, “Oh, I’m sure you did.” His tone was one of awe and intrigue. Basically, he was implying that I was an outstanding “orphaned baby-bird feeder,” and that from observing me at work, he had no doubt whatsoever that the baby birds had received top-notch care. In truth, I was probably a little bit intense about carrying out my responsibilities. When I was there, he knew the baby birds were in good hands.

Some time later, in the fall, the director of ANC asked me if I would help socialize two great-horned owls that were in an enclosed area outside the building. She wanted them to get accustomed to the presence of humans, in the hope that they might someday become ambassador birds that could be displayed in front of people. Because of their injuries, neither bird was going to be able to be released back into the wild. One of them, I think, had been hit by a car when it was feeding on a carcass in the roadway.

One day, I remember entering their enclosure with a folding chair and my liturgy of the hours prayer book. The male owl, which was smaller than the female, was relatively disinterested, but the female put up quite a hoot (ha ha)! She kept hissing at me and even regurgitated one of her owl pellets (WAG*). Between the hissing, the spitting up and her head turning nearly 365 degrees, I was happy I had Sacred Scripture in hand because I worried that instead of socializing her, I might in fact be performing an exorcism.

The reason I knew that satan was not involved is that both owls—the female in particular—were exceedingly beautiful. Her eyes were stunning to look at (WAG), and her entire demeanor was exquisite.

My modest efforts to socialize them proved ineffective, and in fact, the female owl later attacked a female employee who was in the enclosure. The employee, Alison, had beautiful long, blond hair, and I think that the female owl believed that Ally was “moving in on her man!” When she attacked, the female owl attacked owl apparently went after Ally’s most alluring feature, her long, blond hair.

If the owl had really wanted to injure Ally, it would have been a sad story, because the razor-sharp talons on a large, female great-horned owl are about three-inches long. As frightening as it must have been for Ally, the owl only really tussled her hair. But that was enough for Ally and the others at ANC. Those great-horned owls were no longer considered suitable for ambassadorships!

Several years later, I glanced over the ANC newsletter and read that the female owl had died. Sometimes, when I learn of a death, I feel as though the deceased wants me to know about it. I like to think the same can be said for that beautiful owl. Although she hissed and spat and twirled her head, I think she appreciated my efforts to be with her. It is possible that maybe she even liked me!

The preceding, I hope, gives evidence that I am a bird-lover. After many years of considering the possibility of getting a pet bird, I finally took the plunge last June on my fiftieth birthday and I bought two parakeets at Pet Pantry Warehouse in Greenwich, which is truly a top-of-the-line pet store.

The store representative explained to me that their parakeets (in a large, glass enclosure) were healthy and about four months old. There must have been 70-80 of the birds in the enclosure, and they were all having a grand old time. I think that glass enclosure was intended to quell the cacophony. After observing them for awhile, I decided on two birds and asked the rep to get them for me. While I was deciding which birds to choose, I was also praying for divine inspiration to make a good choice.

The representative at the store assured me that I would love them, and she told me to “handle them daily.” In addition to the birds, I bought a cage (which has turned out to be perfect) and some toys and accessories for the cage. The rep led me to what she said was the best food for them (from a small Long Island company) and she also told me to buy some liquid vitamins to add to their food or water. The birds, cage and other supplies totaled about $100.

My cats were certainly surprised when I brought home these new additions to our family. Now, after a year of living together, only one of my cats still really pays any attention to the birds. She still occasionally stands on her hind legs in peers into their cage, and when they are outside of their cage, she frequently tries to catch them. Every once in awhile, she bats one down in mid-flight. Although my cat, Katie (who I think is ADHD), is overly interested in the birds, I don’t think she wants to hurt them. Katie is about 15 pounds and very athletic, and each bird only weighs about two ounces. To her credit, when Katie does bat one of the birds down (which requires extreme paw-eye coordination), her claws are not extended. Katie would like to be friends with the birds, but thus far they have not felt a mutual attraction.

Handling the birds “daily” has proven to be a bloody experience. One of my birds, Snowball, really bites hard. In time, I was hopeful that he would bite me less often, but his determination to bite me has never really lessened. Because I did not know the sex of the birds when I got them, I gave them unisex names: Amber and Snowball (if Amber turned out to be a boy, I could claim that Amber was short for Ambrose).

In time, and with a little study, I determined that both of my birds were males. Al least I did not have to worry about baby parakeets! So, Amber is short for Ambrose.

I also learned that a pair of parakeets will bond with each other to the exclusion of their human caretakers. This was evident, but disappointing too. In my naivete, I had envisioned my birds calmly perched on my shoulder while I read in my recliner. Between Katie swatting at them, and their disinterest in having me hold them, birds peacefully perched on my shoulder has never come to pass. And now “birds” in the plural on my shoulder may never come to pass.

A few days ago, on a Saturday, Snowball was acting in an odd manor. When Katie is not launching at them, the birds like to come down on the carpet near my sliding glass-door and peck around at the carpet fibers and whatever else they can find in between. Birds eat little indigestibles like tiny pebbles to help grind up the food in their gizzards (that bit of knowledge may go back to fourth grade science class).

Snowball began stepping up to the screen door and peering outside, which was a new behavior for him. And then he began flying in a brief and almost compulsive pattern, squawking all the way. Usually, when he and Amber would fly, they flew in circles around the room, usually once or twice, and then settled on their cage again.

On this day, Snowball kept looking outside through the screen door and flying in rapid, brief sorties, from screen door back to his cage. For some reason, I concluded that he wanted to go outside, and for a variety of reasons, without a lot of consideration of the consequences, I decided to open the screen door for him.

Immediately, he hopped out onto the deck and the up on the railing. Inside, I sat on my recliner and watched him. He was calling out to the other birds as if to announce that he had arrived, and after a few minutes, I opened the screen door and called for him to come in, which he did.

Instead of quelling his compulsive activity, letting him out only seemed to exacerbate it. Again, without fully considering the consequences, I decided to let both he and Amber go outside. Amber was inside the cage and Snowball was perched on it when I took them out onto the deck. In my heart, I thought that what he (they) needed was to fly around the yard in large circles and really get some energy out. To my amazement, Snowball took off from his cage and made a diving, sharp right-hand turn around the corner of the building, and out of sight. After a few moments, I realized what I had done.

When Amber realized that they were outside (he still inside the cage and Snowball atop it), he gazed up at Snowball as if to say, “What are you doing? Are you crazy!?” Amber did not venture out of the cage when it was on the deck, and after Snowball disappeared, I closed the door of the cage and brought Amber back inside.

Now I was really worried, and feeling pretty stupid. Snowball had not come back, and I did not know if he was even still in the area. Sheepishly, I walked downstairs and around to the back of the condo complex and started looking up in the trees for him and calling his name. For about an hour, I had no luck, but then I saw him up in a huge, white oak tree in the backyard. He looked as natural as could be, except for being a small, snow-white tropical bird in Connecticut. He seemed to be having a great time, hopping from branch to branch, looking like he was born for northeast trees.

When I got back to my deck, I was feeling better, because he was still visible, and I was hopeful that he would soon fly back to the deck and back inside through the open screen door. Then he flew closer to me, to a pine tree about 20 yards from where I was standing. In essence, that become the moment of decision.

Snowball may have been experiencing urges to mate, and those needs were not being met at home. When he was looking at me from the pine branch a short distance away, he could have decided to fly back to me. But I should not have allowed him to make that decision. The decision to fly free or come home was not a decision he was capable of making, and it was irresponsible of me to put him in the position of making that decision.

Instead of flying back to me, he flew back across the yard to the larger trees, and then in a flash, he emerged, screeching, being chased by a larger bird.

That is the last I saw of him.

The other bird only gave brief chase, but I think that the unexpected danger and “flight” response disoriented Snowball, and he probably got lost.

I waited on the deck until sundown, unable to eat, hoping that Snowball would return, but he didn’t. That night, I could not sleep, and kept walking out onto the deck, hoping that maybe he had returned. My one comfort was that it was unusually warm throughout the night. Parakeets need the temperature to be above 70 degrees for their well-being and comfort.

Because he had lived a temperature-controlled existence, Snowball did not really know about the dangers of fluctuating temperatures, or torrential downpours, both of which we have experienced in the days since he flew away.

Parakeets derive from Australia, so northward flights would bring them toward the equator. Snowball’s best chance for survival in the wild would be to fly south, and perhaps he can instinctually determine the direction of the equator. For all I know, he may be well on his way to the Gulf of Mexico, where he will need to be come fall and winter.

In the end, I believe Snowball wanted to mate, and perhaps he can find another escaped parakeet down south and start a family. Another possibility is that he has already succumbed to the cold and wet.

As far as being ready for flight, Snowball was fully equipped. He never really took to captivity nor to being a “pet.” His “wild” streak may hold him in good stead in his coming adventures, if he is still alive. For the time that I had him, he received the best food and supplements, drank filtered water, listened to classical music, and had very regular bed-times and morning-times.

On his own, he will have to forage for himself and deal with the vagaries of food and water sources and the climate itself. If he knows to fly south, and if he can get there, he has a good chance to survive.

Another outcome could be that humbled, he will land on someone else’s deck hungry and exhausted. I say “humbled” because he will need to seek out human assistance, without literally biting the hand that feeds him. If he approaches a human for help and then bites the person who tries to pick him up, he may seal his own doom, as that person will problem send him flying.

Before I left Pet Pantry Warehouse last June with my newly purchased parakeets in tow, the store representative carefully recorded the serial number on the bracelet around each bird’s ankle. These numbers may be stored in a database, because I am not the only bird-lover who has ever “lost” a parakeet.

It is possible that my phone will ring, and someone will tell me that they have my parakeet. If they are calling from New Mexico, Snowball is going to have to start a new life without me. If he is in New Jersey, or reasonably close by, I will go and get him.

Thus far Amber has not seemed too depressed about Snowball’s disappearance. He has been louder than usual since Snowball flew away, as if he is calling out for Snowball, expecting to hear his reply. Nevertheless, Amber is eating, and flying and behaving normally, except for his loud chirping.

Today, while I was reading in my recliner, Amber was pecking around on the carpet, and came closer to me than he usually does. My one consolation, if Snowball never returns, is that Amber may begin to bond with me. Unlike my original hoped-for vision, I may never have two parakeets perched lovingly on my shoulder while I read and pray, but I may at least have one bird, Amber, who some day may willingly land on my shoulder to stay.

*WAG = worth a google.

** For more photos and info about Snowball and Amber, please look up "WSHU" in my blog archives.  - Thnx

Video: Ironically, I took this video a few hours before Snowball flew away. I was going to entitle it, "Indoor chickens," (because of their pecking around) but now I think it will remain untitled.

There have been 581 visit(s) to this blog post.

Keep an eye out for each other
| June 02, 2015


TRUMBULL—St. Joseph High School graduated 210 students on Saturday, May 30, 2014 at 10 am on the school's Dalling Field.

Emily Robertson, of Stratford and a member of St Mark Parish, is this year's Valedictorian. Winner of the Robert Trotochaud Memorial Scholarship, awarded by the Knights of Columbus, Emily will enroll in the Honors Program at The University of Connecticut to study Biology. Emily will be the class speaker at commencement.

Tyler Falk, of Milford and a member of St. Ann Parish, is the Class of 2015 Salutatorian. Winner of a President's Scholarship, Tyler will continue his education at the University of Maryland next fall where he will major in Electrical Engineering.

"On Class Day, both Mr. Mayo and Mr. Taylor invited you to reflect back on where you were four years ago. What would that 8th grader think of the person we see today, this YOU that has been four years in the making?

Say you made a minimum of 80 personal decisions a day—what clothes to wear, who to say hi to, who to have lunch with, who to take to the Ring Dance, what courses to take, teams and clubs to join, what colleges to apply to—times that by say 800 days, that is about 64,000 personal decisions you made here at school—each one contributing to the person we now know as YOU.

That YOU is pretty much set for life—with regard to character and personality. What you do will change, but the values you will live by have been formed by the choices you made here.

So take a good look at this YOU. Mark who your friends are, what you gained here, what to take with you, and what to leave behind. Leave all the resentments and grudges, all the efforts that came to nothing, and take only the best. Because it's going to happen all over again, only on a much grander scale. Instead of 800 kids in your school, there will be 8,000, or 80,000. You will need to be the best YOU possible.

At the Breakfast of Champions, one of our three—peating bowlers—after listening to folks talk about how great everything and everyone is—asked his parents, "How come you never tell us that life is hard, that bad things are going to happen?" So here it is: life is difficult, and troubles will come. Your path will be beset by lions, and tigers, and bears. (Oh my!)

My advice? Don't live in your dreams. Nothing ever happens in the future. The future is a consequence of what you do, not what you dream—just as those 64,000 decisions make up the YOU of today.

Stay fresh. I was running through downtown Fairfield last weekend and came up behind an old geezer, older than me, with a t-shirt on that read: "Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional." The kids sitting outside the bookstore started hooting at his shirt, and the old guy turns and shakes his cane at them—but not in a menacing way; but as if he were Merlin shaking a magic wand, showering them with fairy dust. And everybody broke out laughing. It was a great moment. Stay young. And never forget how to laugh. 

Have a high tolerance for frustration. There are seven billion people in the world; all of them trying to make their dreams come true, and you will collide with them, like atoms in a particle accelerator. You won't always get your way.

I would approach life like a Prezi. I know teachers like Power Point presentations—where everything is linear and logical, where point A leads to point B, but life isn't like that. In a Prezi, you throw all your ideas up on the screen, sort them out, move them around, highlight some, fade out others. I have yet to meet an alumn who could draw a straight line from who they are today back to their high school ambitions. 

My son recently got a call from The Los Angels Times. They are interested in hiring someone to move that distinguished print newspaper deeper into the digital market. He had majored in political science, at George Washington, lived right next to the White House—a great place for a budding politician—but he worked his way in the library's computer room. And though he never took a course in computers, he now works in the highly digitalized world of Buzzfeed in Manhattan, and the LA Times is calling him for advice. Life is a Prezi. You just don't know what balloons are going to expand and which are going to pop.

Be open. We live in a highly connected world. This is going to be a challenge. You have encountered a fair bit of cultural and economic diversity here at St. Joes. You are about to meet a whole lot more.

I took a group of high school kids on a mission trip to Ecuador, kids just like you. We were building a school in the barrio of Duran, and fell in love with the kids. One little girl, whose smile could melt the moon, said, "Saturday is my birthday." "Great," the kids said, "are you going to have a party?" "Oh, yes," she said. "Nice, who are you going to invite?" And she got this furrowed look on her precious face, and repeated, "It's my birthday. Everybody comes." No lacey invites, no three-tiered cake, no pony rides, just a 25-gallon pot of rice, and a party for everyone who lives on the hillside. She taught us a lesson. And I finally understood Christmas. Christmas is Jesus' birthday—the birthday of all birthdays—and everyone is invited. No guest list. Please, always be open to the stranger.

And last, "Don't ask "What Would Jesus Do?" You are not Jesus; don't make that mistake. Instead, ask, "What would Jesus have YOU do?" Then, just do it.

As Mr. Mayo has. For thirty-eight years, Mr. Mayo has been living his Prezi here at St. Joseph High School—as a teacher, a coach, a Dean, and the last eight years as principal. Mr. Mayo has taught me much about the importance of putting principles before personalities. I admire his integrity, his diligence, his commitment, his vigilance. He leaves St. Joes a better school for his being here. Please join me in expressing our appreciation for 38 years of service.

All in all, I hope we have served you well. I wish you every blessing. I wish you so much more than success. I wish you strength, I wish you confidence, I wish you courage; I wish you selflessness, I wish you freedom from all fear. I wish you love.

Keep an eye out for each other out there. Godspeed."

Class Address by Dr. William Fitzgerald, St. Joseph President

Taking the plunge
| June 01, 2015


NORWALK—Fr. Michael Boccaccio, pastor of St. Philip Parish in Norwalk, took the "old fashioned polar" plunge last week at Shady Beach in Norwalk to help raise funds for the 30 Hour Famine program that feeds the hungry across the globe.

Fr. Boccaccio fulfilling his promise to his parish's teens who raised money for 30 Hour Famine

With Long Island Sound water temperature at 57 degrees, Fr. Mike made the plunge to fulfill a promise to the young people of the parish.

"We've saved the lives of 800 young people who would have died of hunger," said Fr. Boccaccio of the program, which has earned his parish national recognition. Congratulations go to the 30 Hour Famine participants who raised over $50,000 to feed the hungry. The 30 Hour Famine Program, organized locally by St. Philip Roman Catholic Church, supports World Vision, an international Christian organization that works to feed the hungry in more than 100 countries. Once a year young people from seven towns, 34 schools, and 17 churches come together at St. Philip's to fast for 30 hours and participate in a program of events related to alleviating hunger both worldwide and locally. St. Philip Church is located at One Fr. Conlon Place, Norwalk CT, 06851. For more information and online donations can be found at

Trinity Sunday: A reflection by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano
| May 31, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinty—the central mystery of our Christian faith, revealed to us by the Lord Jesus Himself.

To state it as simply as possible, we believe that the one true God is a community of divine persons, equal in majesty and power. Their unity is one of substance, each divine person sharing in the one divine essence and nature. At the same time, the three divine persons are distinct because of the origin of the relations they share with each other as one God.

The Catechism of the Church teaches in article 254: "It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds." As a divine mystery, the Holy Trinity is a truth that is beyond our human ability to fully understand. However, as believers, we know that we are blessed with God’s presence in our lives each day, coming to us as the sustainer of creation, the giver of redemption and our sanctification.

In practical terms, the mystery of the Holy Trinity gives us a great challenge. For if God is a community of divine persons who live perfect divine love, and you and I are made in God’s image and likeness, the challenge is this: if we wish to really know who God is, we must love one another. We must live in imitation of and union with God who is Love. In other words, the highest calling we have as human beings is to love those around us. Love makes us human and also allows us to realize our divine image and likeness.

Further, Christ taught us to love everyone we meet, not simply those whom we like or give us affection or gratitude. And it is the Holy Spirit who gives us a share in God’s life so that we can radically love as the Lord Jesus has taught us.

In the end, there is no greater to know who God really is, in a way deeper than either words or thoughts could ever express, than by loving one another as Christ has loved us.

In Final Synod General Session Delegates Ratify a Path Forward for the Diocese
| May 30, 2015


TRUMBULL—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano received a standing ovation this morning after rallying Synod delegates around a vision for the future of the Diocese of Bridgeport and a path for revitalizing the local Church.

The sixth and final General Session of 2014, held at St. Catherine of Siena Parish Center, came to a high spirited and joyful conclusion when more than 250 delegates showed nearly unanimous approval of the major initiatives and action plans outlined by the Synod.

“Now it’s on to implementation” said Bishop Caggiano to cheers before formally gaveling the session to a close. “This is an extraordinary moment in a remarkable journey.”

Bishop Caggiano said the synod should go forward in a spirit of creativity, humility, and flexibility. He said he didn’t expect that all of the proposals will be successful, but felt strongly that the diocese should move forward with great energy and commitment to renewal based on the work of the Synod.

He told delegates that there are many paths to achieving the goal of the synod, which is “to foster personal conversion and deepen each disciple’s relationship with the Lord Jesus in the community of the Catholic Church.”

“If we do that, everything else will fall in place and the diocese will experience deep and long lasting renewal,” the Bishop said.

In a 30-minute address that visibly inspired many delegates, the Bishop said the Synod will help create a Church that is more faithful, diverse, and welcoming, while it both upholds traditional teachings and also moves forward with new ways to evangelize.

The Bishop began his talk by thanking the delegates for their candid comments, hard work, and spirit of unity, but said that as bishop he felt the need to further address issues that were not resolved during the discernment phase.

In particular he single out peace and justice, the sexual abuse crisis, and diversity as ongoing challenges.

“We’ve also not been very comfortable talking about need for healing in our church on many levels including for our sisters and brothers whose lives have been damaged and even destroyed by sexual abuse,” he said.

The Bishop said the Synod talked about and included the cultural racial and ethnic diversity within the diocese, but there is much more work to be done.

He said the Church must always be a prophetic voice for justice in the world and to challenge structures that leave many people dependent on charity.

“These are issues that I as bishop will pursue to bring greater healing to the church. They will always be a priority if we are to deepen our personal conversion. And to the best of my ability I will lead us forward in these areas.”

Looking back over his reasons for convening the Synod, the Bishop said that he and the delegates have come to terms with the fact that “it’s a different world” in which much of what was done in the past has to change if the diocese is to respond to where people are in their life and faith journeys.

“The Synod has not been a discussion about what we believe, but about how we are going to live our discipleship as the world around us changes and becomes more privatized and more indifferent; as religion becomes more suspect while spirituality is still alive, and as people search for God but are ambivalent about whether or not they need us in the process. We are back to missionary times, and we have to ask, ‘what would we do different than what we are doing in our parishes today. That’s part of the discernment we need to make through the Synod journey.”

In a vigorous question and answer session with delegates prior to voting, the bishop said he did not think the diocese was taking on too much, because ultimately the Synod was not about programs but personal conversion and loving parish communities.

The final General Session capped a process that began in February 2014 when the Bishop issued a formal proclamation to convene the Synod. It was followed by a series of listening sessions across the diocese last Spring, a series of six general sessions, and consultations in between with youth, clergy and religious, and the Hispanic community.

Describing the Synod as “a road map but not the road,” the Bishop said no one has all the answers and that Catholics must always wrestle with Jesus’ question, “Who do you think I am?” He said the answer drives personal conversion and stronger parish communities.

The Bishop announced that the Synod office will formally close this Fall after the September 19 Closing Mass at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, and he urged all delegates to attend.

The 2014 Synod will conclude with a Mass of Thanksgiving and celebration to be held at the Arena at Harbor Yard on Saturday September 19 at 10 am. For more information visit the Synod 2014 website at

Click here to read the major directives approved by Synod Delegates

Click to see photos from the Final Synod Session

Major Initiatives Approved by Synod Delegates (May 30, 2015)
| May 30, 2015


Establish a Diocesan Strategic Planning Commission, by October 2015 whose competency will include: (1) the ongoing reform of the Diocesan Curia and (2) to oversee the pastoral planning process.

Begin a Comprehensive Pastoral Planning Process by November 2015 to engage every parish to create a roadmap for its future.

Establish a Catholic Service Corps (CSC) by November 2015 that will focus on fostering and guiding parish and diocesan-­‐wide opportunities to realize justice, peace and charity within our Diocese.

Establish a Leadership Institute by January 1, 2016

Create a six-­‐month consultative process, beginning in September 2015, leading to a Presbyteral Assembly on February 25, 2016 to draft concrete measures to realize the call of the Synod for priests to live “holy and healthy living.”

Reestablish the Diocesan Liturgical Commission by December 1, 2015. The objectives of the Liturgical Commission would include but not be limited to:

Create a Task Force to draft: (1) a comprehensive revision of the Diocesan Sacramental Guidelines and (2) the Diocesan Pastoral Handbook, for approval by the Diocesan Bishop by June 1, 2016.

Create a diocesan pastoral initiative that will 1) seek to support and strengthen couples in their marriage and, 2) reach out to divorced and separated Catholics within the Diocese. Such an initiative would also study the work of the Tribunal toward a plan to strengthen its work.

Establish family life centers (both virtual and physical) in collaboration with Catholic Charities, parishes and other entities. The goal is to provide resources and support to families to help strengthen the bonds of unity among its members, and also to support families that are confronting particular stressors.

Create a strategic plan for priestly vocations by February 25, 2016. In addition, concrete measures must be enacted towards the fostering of vocations to the diaconate and religious life.

Create a Diocesan Task Force by October 1, 2015 whose competency is to identify concrete ways to reform our catechetical methods and programs. The Task Force will report back to the Diocesan Bishop in eight months.

Pope Francis: Evangelize with a language of merciful love
| May 29, 2015 • by Vatican Radio, Lydia O’Kane


VATICAN—Excerpt: He stressed in order to proclaim the Gospel, the language used needs to be renewed so it can be understood by all who hear it.

During the course of their Plenary session the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization has been discussing the relationship between evangelization and catechesis and it was on that theme that Pope Francis addressed members of the Council, including its President Archbishop Rino Fisichella. Speaking to them at the end of their session the Holy Father told them that the Church is called to evangelize at a time of great change. But he stressed in order to proclaim the Gospel, the language used needs to be renewed so it can be understood by all who hear it.The Pope went on to say that people want a Church that can walk with them, offering a witness of faith, a Church for the marginalized which expresses solidarity with those on the “outskirts of existence”.

Then, getting to the heart of what the true meaning of the new evangelization is, the Holy Father said, it is this: to become aware of the merciful love the Father has for us and also to become instruments of salvation for our brothers.

Turning his attention to the Catechesis, as part of the process of evangelization, Pope Francis explained that “it needs to go beyond just the school sphere of educating believers, from childhood because it is an encounter with Christ who awakens the desire to know him better and then to follow him to become his disciples.

Concluding, the Holy Father underlined that the challenge of the new evangelization and catechesis together is played on this fundamental point: “how to meet Christ, and what is the most consistent place to find him and follow him.”

The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization is undertaking the preparations for the Jubilee of Mercy, which opens on December 8, 2015.

Delegates to vote on final recommendations
| May 28, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Delegates will gather to vote on final initiatives and proposals  at the 6th  and last General Session of 2014 Synod this  Saturday, May 30,  at St. Catherine of Siena Parish Center in Trumbull.

More than 350 delegates are expected to convene for the closing session of 2014 Synod, which has been meeting for almost a year to address major challenges and opportunities faced by the diocese as it seeks reform and renewal.  

The half-day session will begin with Mass at 7:15 am and conclude at 11:30 am. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will introduce the initiatives and proposals after his 9 am talk, “A Dialogue on the Future.” Voting on the initiatives will follow at 11 am.

“This Saturday will be an exciting day in the life of the diocese because delegates will vote on a roadmap for the future of the Church in Fairfield County. The Bishop will introduce major proposals to address specific challenges identified by delegates,” said Patrick Turner, Deputy Synod Director.

“The recent General Session gave us an opportunity to seek direction on how to respond to challenges, and the Bishop was able to identify these initiatives based on the work of the Study Committees, the Synod Office and the input of delegates. He is very grateful for their hard work in getting us to this point,” he said.

Turner said that since the May 9, General Session of the Synod, Bishop Caggiano has met with priests and lay leaders to make them aware of the work of the Synod and discuss its importance to the diocese.

On Tuesday evening, hundreds of lay leaders throughout the diocese attended a meeting at All Saints Catholic School for a briefing by Bishop Caggiano on Synod initiatives.   

At the 5th General Session of the Synod on May 9, Bishop Frank Caggiano introduced dramatic new proposals including calls for a Catholic Service Corps, the creation of a Leadership Institute and the formation of a new diocesan council to empower laity.
Synod delegates also got the first look at some of the final recommendations in response to challenges in areas such as liturgy and worship, family life, evangelization, leadership and catechesis.

During this Saturday’s session, delegates will be asked to vote on a total of 14 items including a diocesan Mission Statement; a series of guiding principles that will support the work of change; and specific proposals to address the major challenges identified by delegates. The voting will formally bring to a close the General Sessions of the Synod.

“The twelve different initiatives and proposals do not represent the final and total number of directions or paths that need to be further explore and addressed,” said Turner. He added that delegates will also vote on “action items” that connect directly to specific challenges.

All of the new initiatives have been framed within the five final challenges affirmed when Synod delegates voted earlier this year: liturgy and worship, family life, evangelization, leadership, and catechesis and education.

At an early General Session, the Bishop said the 2014 Synod was an invitation to “create roadmaps to vital and vibrant communities,” and that he will ask all parishes as well as diocesan programs to set measurable benchmarks for change. Noting that there is inherent tension as the Church seeks to preserve what it does best, while also undergoing change, the bishop called for a spirit of collaboration that does not simply mean compromising on individual goals, but “allowing Christ to take the lead.”

Saturday’s session will begin at 7:15 am Mass celebrated by Fr. Joseph Marcello, Pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Church. Coffee and pastries will follow at 7:45 am.

The 2014 Synod will conclude with a Mass of Thanksgiving and celebration to be held at the Arena at Harbor Yard on Saturday September 19 at 10 am. For more information visit the Synod 2014 website at

Breakfast of Champions
| May 27, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—“This morning, we are here to celebrate the best of news,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in his opening remarks at the Breakfast of Champions, held at the Catholic Center each year to recognize students who display academic excellence and live the values of their faith.

In his welcoming speech, Bishop Caggiano called the students “champions, scholars, and role models.”

The Breakfast of Champions’ St. Thomas Aquinas Award recognizes one student from each school who has shown excellence in academics and exemplifies the Gospel values fostered through Catholic education. In addition, the St. Sebastian Award is given to individuals who have shown leadership in high school as captain of athletic teams that won success on the state level.

Fifty-two students representing 34 schools throughout the diocese, along with their parents, principals, pastors and school chaplains turned out for the awards breakfast. Thirty-four were presented the St. Thomas Aquinas Medal for academic excellence and the practice of virtue. Eighteen received the St. Sebastian Medal for their achievement as scholar-athletes. Bishop Caggiano, assisted by Sister Mary Grace Walsh, ASCJ, PhD, superintendent of schools, presented the awards individually to each student.

The students’ comments reveal not only their intelligence but the values that led to their selection.

“When I got the letter inviting me to the Breakfast of Champions, I was really surprised,” said eighth-grader Charles Asetta, the St. Thomas Aquinas Award winner from St. Rose of Lima School in Newtown. “There were so many people in my class who deserved the award.”

Charles plans to attend St. Joseph High School in Trumbull in the fall, where he hopes to play on the soccer team.

His parents, Richard and Susan, gave high praise to the education their son received at St. Rose. “He’s been here all the way since preschool,” they said. “It’s a wonderful school.”

One student, St. Joseph High School senior Matthew Laveneziana, earned both the St. Thomas Aquinas and the St. Sebastian awards. Although he was the only one to achieve such recognition, “I’m just like everyone else here,” he said.

Matt, who was captain of St. Joe’s football team, thoroughly appreciated the education he got there. “I love it there,” he said of the school atmosphere. “It’s going to be hard leaving.”

He’s headed to UCONN this fall, where he hopes to play on the baseball team.

His parents Joseph and Sue, have high praise for the value of Catholic education. All three of their children went to St. Jude School in Monroe. “When it came to high school, from a parent’s point of view academics was the first thing,” said Joseph. “But when you have a gifted athlete like Matthew, St. Joseph’s made the perfect choice.”

Matt in turn credits his success not only his education but the strong backing of his parents. “They made me who I am,” he said.

Echoing the theme of the breakfast, each table had as its centerpiece a box of Wheaties, the original “Breakfast of Champions.” In the spirit of the day’s awards, these centerpieces were donated to Catholic Charities for distribution to local soup kitchens and food pantries.

Click here to view photos from the event.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Little Flowers Girls’ Club
| May 26, 2015


St. Mary Parish in Bethel is thriving. It is blessed to be the only Catholic parish in town, and it is a town that has seen significant growth in recent decades.

Fr. Corey Piccinino, pastor, is doing a magnificent job shepherding this growing and vital parish. I am blessed that Father Corey has included me as a weekend assistant. From time to time, I cover other Masses, but I am regularly scheduled to celebrate the 11:30 Mass on the first Sunday of each month. Come up and see us some time!

Mary Ferri arrives early to set up for her Little Flowers
and their moms.

St. Therese, the “Little Flower” herself, graces the cover
of the art and activity book.

How about this for solid formation! The “colors of piety”
rainbow: zeal; charity; holiness, the Lord’s Day; prayer;
sacrifice; piety.

“I knew you were coming, so I baked a cake!” To honor
St. Cecilia, the saint of the day, May Ferri baked a cake
in the shape of a musical instrument (St. Cecilia is the
patron saint of music because of the song of love for God
in her heart). The main ingredient in this wonderful cake
is love!

Girls and their moms begin the meeting with prayers,
memorized and read.

Little Flowers each wear a blue sash that they decorate
with religious symbols over time.

The girls and their moms went up into the choir loft to look
at a stained-glass window located above the church organ.

Taken from the old church and placed in the new one,
the St. Cecilia window is located in the choir loft.

One of the younger Little Flowers shows off her blue sash,
decorated with a cross.

Years before I entered seminary, I was an English teacher at Immaculate High School in Danbury, and I lived in Danbury near the Bethel line. During those years, I was a parishioner at St. Mary’s when it was located in the old church on Greenwood Avenue. At the time, the church had a capacity of about 200 people, which led it to have the most aggressive ushers I have ever seen. They literally squeezed us in the pews like sardines—no exceptions—and at most Masses, people lined the walls too.

About the time I moved to Norwalk (still three years before I entered Fisher Seminary), plans were underway to build a new parish church in Bethel. These plans were the cause of much division, as a significant number of parishioners wanted to keep the old church. Bishop Egan refused to divide the town into two parishes (a prescient decision) and now the new church can hold about 1,000 people for an Easter service (something I witnessed).

The new church (which is already 20 years old!) is not perfect, but it has elements that make it an extremely successful worship space. The late Monsignor Edward Karl spearheaded the construction and design of the church, and overall, the result is laudatory. My principal criticism would be that it is a tad dark inside—unnecessarily so—given its location and exposure on all sides. For some reason, the architects decided to use small windows in the sanctuary, and this makes for dependence on artificial light.

The old church building was sold, but most (if not all) of the old stained glass has been beautifully incorporated into the new building. Although beautiful, the old windows also tend to be on the darker side, which also tends to make the church darker inside.

Besides being a little dark for my liking, nearly everything else about the church itself and its connected buildings are truly state-of-the-art. The sound system is great; the vestments are magnificent; the sanctuary marble and the altar are stunning; and even the pews are padded!

Because I help out in a number of different parishes, I get to marvel at how differently we celebrate Mass in each parish, and yet remain one. When I say “differently,” I refer primarily to the different “choreographies” required to celebrate the liturgy in different parishes.

In a way, the choreography of the Mass at St. Mary’s in Bethel is among the most complicated among the churches where I celebrate Mass, but in a way, it is also the easiest. First, it is simple for the celebrant, because everything is always set up and everything “works!” Deacon John DeRoin also makes my life easy during Mass. In addition to proclaiming the Gospel, he also hands me things that are clearly printed that I need to read, etc. He is like my own, personal master of ceremonies for the regular Sunday Mass I celebrate once a month.

Deacon John also helps me at Communion. When the Eucharistic Ministers come up, we often have 4 altar servers, 4 Eucharistic Ministers, the deacon and me standing around the altar. I let the deacon divvy everything up and give the ministers their assignments. Liturgy at St. Mary’s does involve a “cast of thousands!”

St. Mary’s is a large parish, in terms of the size of its campus (including a K-8 school), and in terms of the number of parishioners who are registered. It is one of the largest parishes in terms of registered households among the 82 parishes of the diocese of Bridgeport.

But how does a parish as large and vibrant as St. Mary’s keep on growing? It keeps innovating. Its web site is top notch and it is always seeking new ways to engage its members in service of God and neighbor.

The Second Vatican Council was held 50 years ago, but in the time that has elapsed since, those who have embraced the Council are always seeking ways to celebrate renewal in the Church (which is an ongoing process!).

Although Fr. Corey is doing a great job as pastor, individual clergy and religious are usually not able to have the kind of impact in the life of the Church that powerful lay movements can produce. One such lay movement is sprouting roots at St. Mary’s, and it has the potential to have an impact on the nation as well as the Church.

A chapter of “Little Flowers Girls’ Club” has been founded at St. Mary’s in Bethel by Mary Ferri and Kate Fitzgerald.

Ferri has been DRE at St. Mary’s for 15 years and Fitzgerald is a long-time parish secretary and catechist. As if they each did not have enough to do already, they decided to begin a Little Flowers club at St. Mary’s. Their first meeting was on October 20, 2014, and I paid a visit to the gathering in May. I am happy to report that Little Flowers at St. Mary’s in Bethel is off to a great start!

For a parish to thrive, parishioners and parish leaders need to go “above and beyond” in their service of God and neighbor. Fifty years after Vatican II, Ferri and Fitzgerald are revealing what it takes to begin a new and important ministry in a parish, and they are revealing how immense the impact of new and important ministries can be.

The first thing required to begin and maintain a new ministry is love—love of God and neighbor. It is the greatest commandment, and sums up the Law and Prophets. Without love, Ferri and Fitzgerald could not have fathomed founding a chapter of Little Flowers, but with love, they are already achieving great success.

With the help of the internet, materials for Little Flowers are readily available online, along with booklets and other materials that can be ordered for use with club members. Interestingly, Little Flowers is a club for girls and their moms to participate together. Girls as young as five are invited to join. Presently, Ferri and Fitzgerald are discovering that 6-9 year-old girls seem to express the most interest. The St. Mary’s chapter meets on the third Monday each month for an hour and fifteen minutes, from 6:15-7:30. The girls who participated in the meeting I attended were really enjoying themselves, and their moms seemed happy too.

As a Church, we need to improve the way we catechize young people, and we also need to re-catechize parents who may not have received solid formation in the faith. Little Flowers approaches both issues by catechizing children and parents together, in fun and interesting ways.

The first flyer Ferri and Fitzgerald posted about the new club summarized their hopes and dreams for their Little Flowers chapter: “The Little Flowers Girls’ Club is a program whose goal is to provide young Catholic girls (and Moms), age 5 and up, with an opportunity to gather and learn about their Catholic heritage, faith, virtues and traditions through games and crafts, Sacred Scripture, the lives of the saints and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is hopes that Little Flowers will learn what it means to be a Catholic girl and eventually a Catholic woman. Whether she is called to a life of consecration to Our Lord, as a single woman, or as a wife and mother, what she learns as a Little Flower will provide her a strong foundation upon which to build. This is a wonderful opportunity for moms to have quality time with their daughters in a fun, loving and faith-filled environment.”

All those who may be interested in joining Little Flowers in Bethel or interested in starting their own chapter can contact Ferri at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Farewell, Sister Mary John O’Rourke, OSU
| May 26, 2015


DANBURY—Sister Mary John O’Rourke, OSU, principal of St. Gregory the Great School in Danbury for the past twenty years, went to her eternal reward on May 22 after a courageous battle with cancer.

Sister Mary John O'Rourke, principal of St. Gregory the Great
School in Danbury, shows the Blue Ribbon award the school
received to first-graders including Gianna Casturan, left, Susan Radliff,
center, Billy Murphy, center right, and Hailey Busse, right, Wednesday,
November 17, 2010.     Photo: Michael Duffy,

Sister Mary John had been on medical leave and recently announced her plan to retire effective June 30.

She was an exceptional Catholic school educator who was a mentor to many and a leader in our diocesan curriculum mapping process and technology initiatives.

She proudly worked with the entire school community to earn the distinction of being a 2010-2011 Blue Ribbon School of Excellence from the U.S. Department of Education.
Sister Mary John’s religious community has chosen to have her services at St. Gregory the Great. Her wake will be at the church (85 Great Plain Road, Danbury, 06811) on Thursday, May 28th beginning at 10 am. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 12 noon in the church, followed by a light lunch in the school gymnasium. 

St. Gregory the Great School will be closed in order to give the faculty and staff the opportunity to attend the wake and funeral.
Expressions of sympathy may be sent to:
The Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk
Provincial Offices
81-15 Utopia Parkway
Jamaica, NY 11432
St. Gregory the Great School
85 Great Plain Road
Danbury, CT  06811

Patrick Turner discusses upcoming Synod General Session
| May 26, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—We are just a few days away from our final general session, where we'll be voting on initiatives that will shape the future of our Diocese.

Patrick Turner discusses the upcoming session in this week's episode of Synod Today!

A Baltimorean’s reflections on the Baltimore riots
| May 26, 2015 • by By Tony Magliano


Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano

“The God of peace is never glorified by human violence,” wrote the famous Trappist monk Thomas Merton.
Whether it’s on an individual, city, national, or international level, violence always dishonors God, and makes bad situations worse. The recent Baltimore City riots were no exception: people were injured, neighborhood stores were burned, and violence was further engrained into a city and world already steeped in violence.

But, and this is a big but: What are the reasons that led to violence? What motivated some African-Americans in Baltimore to riot? To ask and to try to answer these questions—in dialogue with the rioters—is certainly not meant to justify the violence; rather it is a necessary step on the road to ending it.  

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.”
I grew up in Baltimore. And in the 1950’s and 1960’s when I was a kid there, Baltimore—while it certainly had significant problems like racial segregation—overall was a kinder and gentler place to live.
In those days crime was much lower, there were no gangs to speak of, drugs were far less a problem, schools were good, neighbors watched out for each other’s children, and blue-collar Baltimore had lots of good manufacturing jobs—like those provided by Bethlehem Steel—that offered hard-working people of all colors a living wage.
Sadly, those days are mostly gone.
I spoke with Brendan Walsh, who with his wife Willa, co-founded Viva House—the Catholic Worker House serving homeless, poor people located in southwest Baltimore where some of the rioting occurred.
Walsh who has lived at Viva House since 1968 shared with me his reflections regarding root-causes of the rioting that occurred after the death of Freddie Gray—who died from a fatal injury that happened while in transport by Baltimore police, according to an initial investigation.
Walsh noted that many U.S. corporations have moved their operations from cities like Baltimore, to very poor countries where they can get away with the injustice of slave labor (see, and in the process have left many Americans without decent paying manufacturing jobs.
Walsh asked, “What are people to do when there are so few blue-collar jobs available that pay a living wage”?
Walsh believes that every city police officer should be required to live in the city. He said this would help police to better under the difficulties faced by many city residents, and in the process better relationships would be established.
Walsh noted there are not nearly enough drug treatment facilities. He said people need to be medically treated for drug addiction, not thrown into prison.
Many years ago I remember police districts in Baltimore ran recreational centers where kids could go to play sports, games, and do homework with police officers who offered guidance and friendship.
Back in those days numerous companies offered students summer jobs. For a couple of summers I worked for the Baltimore Gas and Electric company in their machine shop.    
We need to bring back the recreational centers and summer jobs.
Federal, state and city governments, in partnership with corporations, need to create a comprehensive, well-funded plan to rebuild our cities.

Baltimore’s Catholic Archbishop William E. Lori, perhaps said it best here: “For without love, respect and personal relationships, our lives make no sense. We shouldn’t expect a person whose life makes no sense to pull himself up by his bootstraps into a productive and prosperous life.”

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

Star Wars is still Star Wars
| May 26, 2015 • by By Matthew Hennessey


A Dad’s View
By Matthew Hennessey

My name is Matthew and I am a child of the Star Wars generation.

Star Wars was the first real movie I saw in a theater. It was a magical experience that has stayed with me always. Every movie since has been a bit of a disappointment.

There wasn’t a single kid in the entire neighborhood who wasn’t obsessed with George Lucas’s imaginary world of lightsabers and stormtroopers. It dominated all conversations. It shaped all play. All Star Wars, all the time.

Given this, I was surprised to realize recently that I didn’t see Star Wars during its initial release. The original movie hit theaters in May 1977, when I was just three-and-a-half years old. I must have seen it first during its 1979 theatrical re-release.

Theatrical re-release? They did that with movies back then. VCRs hadn’t yet become part of the furniture in every American living room. If you missed a movie when it was out in theaters, well, that was that. Unless it came back around in re-release, which the big movies did.  

Such things are unheard of now. These days you can watch a blockbuster on your smartphone the same day it comes out in theaters. The world has changed.

An example: I once had a friend named Damon. He lived across the street. We played together every afternoon with our Luke Skywalker and Han Solo action figures. Then Damon moved with his family to Portland, Oregon. There was no email for our mothers to keep us connected. There was no Facebook. I sent him a postcard. He sent one back. But I never saw or spoke to Damon again.

That’s the way the world was then—both bigger and smaller than it is now. Everyone saw the same movies, but distances really meant something. Things went away. Now, every jot and tittle that ever fell from the brain of Einstein or Aristotle is available for free online, 24/7, in vivid Technicolor and search-engine optimized. We’re living with an embarrassment of riches.  

Since becoming a father, I’ve been fretting about how to raise children in a world that doesn’t resemble the one I grew up in. Think about it. People call the cops now when they see kids playing unsupervised in the neighborhood. What used to be essential has become criminal. All the risk and adventure is being drained from childhood. Not to mention all the fun.

But Star Wars is still Star Wars and I’ve looked forward to sharing it with my kids. It means something to me that they experience it as I did. I want them to be terrified of Darth Vader’s demonic breathing. I want them to wonder who will succeed in winning Princess Leia’s heart. I want them to leap from their seats with joy when the Death Star is destroyed. I want them to be truly shocked when they find out … you know what I’m talking about.

I want them to experience the magic—and be transported by it—the same way I did.

So far it’s working. My kids are obsessed. They want to know everything. No minor character—no Jedi, jawa, or droid—goes uninvestigated. Paddy took a giant Star Wars reference book out of the library. I was terrified that he would stumble onto an explanation of the Skywalker family tree before he had a chance to learn about it as I had. Luckily, he didn’t.

Watching these movies through adult eyes I can see their value more clearly. The childhood magic is gone for me, but the essential messages remain: don’t let your fear define you; trust your instincts; be loyal to your friends; never give up on family; good ultimately triumphs over evil.

The world may change but those values are timeless. Just like Star Wars.

Matthew Hennessey and his family are parishioners of St. Aloysius in New Canaan.

Will my love endure?
| May 26, 2015 • by By Denise Bossert


Catholic by Grace
By Denise Bossert

It is disheartening when people walk away from the Church.

Sometimes, when we try to talk, they run at us like some kid on the opposite team in a game of Red Rover. They want to break through our line and pull somebody else from the Church. They may even attempt to pull us away.

We have a choice. When they run toward us, even if it is with a kind of adversarial spirit, we must be ready to receive them, ready to hold them tightly in our arms, ready to defend the faith, and maybe even ready to reclaim them for Our Lord and his Church. Red Rover, Red Rover, send them on over, we pray.

It has happened to me many times. I write an article or post something on social media. Someone sends an email explaining why he is glad I am happy being Catholic, but he wants me to know that his choice was clear. It was time to walk away. Somebody disappointed him. Something someone did scandalized her. She lost the joy of being Catholic. He decided to walk away from God or just find God in some other faith community.

Many do build a relationship with Jesus somewhere else. Usually, it is in a church with a name that does not fit categories. No denomination. No labels. No hierarchy. They find a place where they can begin again. It feels wonderful and they are happy, they say.

It makes me think. I believe we all have reasons to be bitter and walk away. There are plenty of offenses to send us through the exit doors. Most of the ones who left didn’t hate the faith. There were just things that rubbed them the wrong way. Their love for the sacraments and the Church was not enough to keep them here. It sometimes makes me wonder. Will my love endure?

Am I strong enough to persevere when others scandalize the faith?

If I encounter a priest who is far from pastoral or an administrator in a Catholic workplace who has more vices than virtues, will I stay?

What about the young Catholic whose spouse cheats—after she sponsored him into the faith? Will he have the strength to stay when she leaves their family and the Church?

What about the young person who hears about a charitable organization squandering funds, and it becomes common knowledge that those who could have stopped the whole thing just looked the other way—will the spiritually fragile young person stay after that?

What happens when a bishop or cardinal causes scandal? What will we do when a high profile Catholic falls off the pedestal in a very public way—or in a quiet way and nobody else has any idea?

These are not made-up scenarios. For some people, these things were enough to send them in the opposite direction. For others, nothing would take them away from the Eucharist. The ones who stick around seem to have some things in common. For them, truth is true, and God is God. If the Church is the Church in time, and devotions lead to holiness; if the saints light the way, and the Eucharist is Christ; if the Word is alive, and the poor are fed, the lost are found, the sick are healed; if miracles still happen, and Christ still calls disciples; if angels still aid, and the confessional still cleanses; if martyrs still die, and others rise to take their places; if a still, small voice can be heard above the betrayal, wounds and doubts—then the Church is still the Church.

In that moment we realize that God never fails, even when people sometimes do. And the person running toward us with division in her heart is really a lost lamb running toward us, a soul in need of strong arms that wrap around her and gather her back to the safety of the Church. Red Rover, Red Rover. Send her on over.

She looks up, a bit disoriented, because she didn’t break through the line. She was, in fact, caught in loving arms. Hopefully, she sees a smile. A welcoming nod. Not gloating. Not condescension.

Make room for her at your side. Squeeze her hand a couple of times to let her know you are glad she’s back. And brace yourselves. Someone else is barreling at the line. But he is not the enemy either. Hold the line, and let it wrap around him—with love. 

Denise Bossert is a national Catholic writer and columnist.

The Master of Cities
| May 26, 2015 • by By Thomas H. Hicks


By Thomas H. Hicks

I want to be a part of it, New York, New York.
These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray 
Right through the very heart of it, New York, New York.

Genesis 4:17: “Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city and called the name of the city after the name of his son, also called Enoch.” Thus according to the Bible, the first city was built by the descendants of the first murderer, Cain. This is a way of saying that cities are places of evil.

If someone should ask me, “How is New York?” I would reply, “It’s dirty, noisy, dangerous, sinful, but I LOVE IT.” To me, New York is the Master of Cities, the one that all others echo.

New York City seen from a number of bridges, but especially from the Queensboro Bridge, is always the city seen for the first time. The skyline jutting into a cornflower blue sky seems to be stretching itself, standing up straight and saying, “Don’t I look good?” If you look down on the city at night from a plane on its landing run to LaGuardia, the city is a jeweled wonder, breathtaking; it glimmers and sparkles.

Now I only occasionally go to the city. But, always, when I arrive on the Metro North train at Grand Central, there is the old acceleration of the pulse. I’m swallowed up by the crowd of detraining people and borne along till we eddy out of the station onto the street.

I am stunned by the noise, the endless roar, brakes squealing, trucks grinding gears, horns blowing, sirens screaming. Some find the noise appalling. But for me, Manhattan’s steady noise is the roar of life, part of the trembling energy of the city—The Kingdom of Man.

I walk along the streets of the city excited, with constant wonder, in this man-made forest of towering steel, of rushing, bustling humans. I draw energy from the crowds, the noise. Kierkegaard would stroll among the crowds of Copenhagen to take his daily “people bath.”

I enjoy the feeling of being anonymous on a crowded sidewalk watching numerous people pass by, each person belonging to someone or something. Flannery O’Connor said about the crowds in NYC: “Although you see several people you wish you did know, you see thousands you’re glad you don’t know.”

I find especially exciting the city on the brink of evening. There is the tidal exodus of the homebound while, at certain times of the year, there is still sunlight on the west faces of the buildings, rendering them rose-colored in the setting sun.

The skyscrapers at night are as dazzling as any wonder of the world.

One summer, while in college, I worked as an elevator operator in the Cotton Exchange building on William Street. For two weeks, the job called for me to arrive on the job at 6 am. How I remember the city stirring itself in the early morning. I loved that crescendo as the city rumbled to life; all the life and color and movement of the great city coming to life again at the first light of day.

I remain fascinated by the Flatiron Building on 23rd Street, where Broadway crosses Fifth Avenue, the Diamond District, Rockefeller Center. And, of course, there is Grand Central Station with its surging sense of life; so many faces on so many errands, so many preoccupations, hopes, passions, lives in progress. Writer Aline Weiller captured the character of Grand Central well when she writes that among the swarming ponds of humanity “some are anxious, seeking specialists for second opinions, others arriving with hopeful anticipation for a blind date or lovers’ reunion, still others apathetic, approaching their mundane nine-to-five grind. It’s a place of connections, where commuters scroll their phones. Grand Central is a constant, a make-shift friend upon which you can depend.”

There are the New York theaters, museums, concert halls, churches, etc., but it is the spectacle of human life, the mass of human striving, that is so fascinating. A million faces on city streets, all with names, all with souls, as we used to say. The Christian belief is that God cares individually for all those souls he has made—all those millions seemingly so little distinguished by any vivid faith or real intimacy with things of eternity. Do most of them have a self before God? There is Therese of Lisieux’s comment about “poor ignorant sinners filled with earthly thoughts.”

When I’m with the mobs clustering at intersections on a sunny day, I have noble thoughts about the human journey we all make; we all love and suffer and hope and dream. Deep down we’re all scared and lonesome. Tragedy comes to everyone. We all have secret fears to face. We may speak different languages, have different cultural roots. But we share the one sky and one earth, are children of the same God. We’re all caught in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.

But on a cloudy overcast day, sometimes there resonates in me something Chuck Colson said: “The greatest myth of the 20th century is that people are good. We aren’t.” And there’s Dostoyevsky’s observation: “We are all emotional cripples, every one of us, more or less.”

Thomas Hicks is a member of St. Theresa Parish in Trumbull.

Save America, pray the Rosary
| May 26, 2015 • by By Joe Pisani


Swimming Upstream
By Joe Pisani

On the back of my SUV, plastered onto the spare tire, is a bumper sticker I found in the vestibule of a church that proclaims, “Save America—Pray the Rosary.”

Most people probably think I’m a subversive, one of those weirdos who puts bumper stickers all over his car about peace, love and legalized pot. You see, I have a few others, including one that says, “Live Free or Fry,” urging an end to high-tension power lines through the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

But when you think about it, the bumper sticker about prayer and saving America is more radical in our secular society than any other cause, including global warming, animal rights, rain forest preservation and so-called marriage equality.

People probably assume I’m peculiar when they pull up behind me at the stop light and read that message, or if I cut them off on the highway and plant my rear bumper right in front of their windshield.

When one of my daughters saw it, she asked, “Aren’t you afraid someone will vandalize your car?”

I have to admit that her anxiety unsettled me a bit. Did you ever think we’d see the day when advocating prayer would provoke anger and vandalism? Welcome to the culture wars.

Like other Catholic subversives, I also have Rosary beads dangling from my rear-view mirror, and I’m sure some people think I use them as a good luck charm, but that’s not the case. Sacramentals are powerful.

“Save America—Pray the Rosary.”

Unfortunately, not enough people realize America needs to be “saved.” To the general public, everything’s fine. It’s business as usual. However, when it comes to morality, everything’s not fine. Look at the statistics for abortion, crime, poverty, teen sex, domestic violence and sex abuse. Then, spend a few hours watching “reality” TV, and it will be apparent that something is drastically wrong. Our value system has been perverted, and in many areas, what was once considered “sinful” is now socially and scientifically acceptable.

Over the years, I’ve met countless political activists who are convinced the solution to America’s problems is to promote their cause. They believe we need more laws, more programs, more taxes, more regulations, more slogans, more speeches, more celebrity endorsements.

But for a person of faith, prayer is the true way to save America. Sad to say, I’ve reached that cynical age in life when I no longer have confidence in politics, legislators, officials, the media, advocacy groups or “The System,” as it was called during the ‘60s.

Yes, praying the Rosary can save America. St. John Paul II said, “Pray, pray much. Say the Rosary every day.” St. Padre Pio called it “the weapon for these times.” What’s more powerful than the intercession of the Blessed Mother, who has a direct line to her Son, Jesus?

“Go to the Madonna. Love her!” St. Pio said. “Always say the Rosary. Say it well. Say it as often as you can! Be souls of prayer. Never tire of praying. It is essential. Prayer shakes the heart of God, it obtains necessary graces.” (Show me a politician whose motto is “more grace, fewer taxes,” and he has my vote.)

I’ve often thought that once we get to heaven and they hand out the celestial equivalent of the Oscars, the souls who walk up to the podium to give acceptance speeches won’t be the powerful and famous, or the people on the Forbes 100 list, or those who are successful by the world’s standards. The true heroes will be the lowly and humble, the prayerful and spiritual—people like the silver-haired little ladies who go to daily Mass and pray the Rosary for their children and grandchildren, for the sick and the dying, for the Blessed Mother’s intentions and for the world.

Padre Pio often told a story about the efficacy of the Blessed Mother’s intercession, and it went something like this: One day Jesus was walking around Paradise and saw some unfamiliar faces, so he went to St. Peter and asked, “Who are these people? Did you let them in?”

St. Peter responded, “No.” Jesus looked at him quizzically.
“There’s nothing I can do,” St. Peter said.
“What do you mean?” Jesus asked. “You have the keys.”
“There’s nothing I can do,” he repeated, “and there’s nothing you can do either.”
Jesus was confused.

Peter sighed, “It’s your mother. She let them in. She has her own key.”

May is Mary’s month, so as Padre Pio said, “Go to the Madonna! Love her!” And pick up your Rosary and start praying.

Joe Pisani has been a writer and editor for 30 years.   

Serra Club supports vocations
| May 26, 2015


FAIRFIELD—The Serra Club, an international organization dedicated to promoting and nurturing vocations to the priesthood and religious life, has a new chapter.

On April 28 in the Mary Mother of God Chapel at St. Pius X Parish, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano formally chartered the Serra Club of Bridgeport in a Mass and reception.

“I am ecstatic that you are here,” said Bishop Caggiano in his homily. “To create the Serra Club here in our diocese will go a long way in helping our young people hear the voice of the Shepherd.”

Serra International, founded in 1935 in Seattle, Wash., has chartered 1,170 Clubs in 46 countries across six continents. Inspired by their patron, soon to be canonized Blessed Junipero Serra, the club’s objectives are to foster, encourage and promote vocations. Serra Club members are also called to dedicate time each day in prayer, specifically for vocations.

“Our first and greatest responsibility is to pray for vocations, and to pray that young people hear the call,” said Bishop Caggiano. Even that though, is not enough, he added: “Once young people have heard the call, to sustain it is absolutely essential.”

Sustaining that call to vocations will be one of the primary functions of the new chapter, as members will help to keep the fire of the Holy Spirit burning in all those who say, “yes” to God.

In his homily, Bishop Caggiano charged the new officers and trustees of Serra to keep that fire burning through prayer and conversation.
Led by President Jeff Miller and Chaplain Father Sam Kachuba, the new chapter will go a long way towards providing all those in our diocese with the resources needed to discern their vocation. The club will provide a welcoming environment where those considering the priesthood or religious life in the Diocese of Bridgeport can have the support that they need.

In his closing remarks, Bishop Caggiano agreed: “In the end, we only want what the will of God is for each of us, including our young people.”

(See all about vocations at For S.erra Club of Bridgeport, go to

Catholic Students March in Memorial Day Parades
| May 25, 2015


BROOKFIELD—At the Memorial Day Parade in Brookfield, Handy Dandy Handyman Ministry (HDHM) sported its own float with family in tow.

A fun day was had by all.

TRUMBULL—Students from St. Catherine of Siena School in Trumbull gather before marching as a group in Trumbull's Memorial Day Parade on May 25, 2015 (view larger photo).

This year, St. Catherine of Siena School celebrates 50 years of excellence in Catholic education.

FAIRFIELD—In Fairfield a delegation from Church of Assumption also showed school colors in this morning’s Memorial Day Parade through the Post Road (view photo).

St. Catherine of Siena Supports our Veterans!
OLD GREENWICH—The Carnival Committee marched in the annual Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 25 and gave out lollipops and “FREE Dunk Tank toss tickets.” It was a great morning for everyone!

Living Water: Father Emil Kapaun, ‘Shepherd in Combat Boots’
| May 25, 2015 • by By Kathy Schiffer | National Catholic Register


CLEMSON, S.C.—“Would you care for a drink of water?”

Father Emil Kapaun, clad in his worn prison uniform and sitting beside a small fire, extended his arm to offer a roughly crafted tin pan full of melted snow. His fellow POW, Lt. William Funchess, accepted the gift with gratitude.

Sixty-four years later, Bill Funchess still remembers the priest’s kind offer. “It was the first water I’d drunk since I’d been captured three months earlier,” Funchess explained from his home in Clemson, S.C. “Until Father Kapaun climbed the fence into our camp with his handmade pan, we’d survived by eating the frozen snow.”

Father Kapaun, a U.S. military chaplain, and Funchess—of the 24th Infantry Division, a Methodist—were captured by Chinese Communist forces in November 1950, during the Korean War.

Forced by their captors to march north toward Pyoktong, North Korea, near the Chinese border, the two were imprisoned in different compounds. Conditions in the prison camp were harsh: Housed in a crowded 9-by-9-foot thatched roof mud hut, with no heat in sub-zero temperatures, the prisoners huddled against one another for warmth.

About a week after being taken captive, Father Kapaun scaled the fence into the camp where Funchess lived to care for the sick and wounded prisoners there. Funchess was inspired by the priest's resolute sense of mission. Shortly after, Chinese officers realized that Funchess was an officer living among enlisted men, and he was relocated to an officers’ camp, again separated from Father Kapaun.

But in April 1951, the door to Funchess’ shack was thrown open by Chinese guards, and a man was thrown to the floor. It was Father Kapaun, who was suffering from a blood clot in his right leg and was having difficulty walking. Perhaps, said Funchess, the guards hoped to isolate him from the Catholics, in the mistaken belief that prisoners of other faiths wouldn’t bond with him. Perhaps, too, they hoped that the prisoners in that hut would care for Father Kapaun.

Service to All

The priest, the only Catholic whom Funchess had ever gotten to know, was an inspiration to his fellow prisoners. When he was able to walk, he cared for the other POWs with no regard for their faith background; Catholic, Protestant or atheist all benefited from Father Kapaun’s kindness.

Lice were a significant problem for the prisoners; and a soldier who didn’t regularly pick the lice from his body could lose a significant amount of blood, risking his health. Father Kapaun would doggedly pick lice from prisoners who were unable to care for themselves.

The courageous chaplain scrounged around, recalled Funchess, visiting the various warehouses and stealing soybeans or other food for the other prisoners to eat. At great risk to himself, he would cross the barbed-wire fence to visit other compounds and help the men imprisoned there.

He would lead prayers for both the Catholics and the non-Catholics. Funchess reiterated, as though reminding himself: “He did many good Christian-type things for the POWs, with no regard for their religious background.”

However, Father Kapaun’s health continued to deteriorate. When the priest was no longer able to walk, Funchess cared for his wounded friend. Seeing his serious condition, Funchess offered him the choicest spot on the cold dirt floor, sleeping against the wall, so that no soldier stumbling through the total darkness of the hut would mistakenly step on the priest’s injured leg at night. Funchess got all the prisoners to move over in order to offer Father Kapaun the safe spot near the wall. Then, with no warm clothing or blanket and no heat, Funchess rested against the priest on the coldest nights, helping to stave off frostbite and further illness. All the while, the duo did a lot of talking.

Funchess also took it upon himself to perform an extraordinary act of kindness for Father Kapaun: He scrubbed the soiled hut and wiped clean the gaunt body of his friend. And he and his fellow prisoners even fashioned a makeshift toilet for their padre out of a pot-belly stove.

The Chaplain’s Final Days

Their time together was short. In the second or third week of May 1951, Chinese officers and guards burst into the hut and dragged Father Kapaun out. They were, they said in broken English, taking him to the “hospital”—or to what prisoners more realistically called the “death camp,” since most of the prisoners who were taken there never left to rejoin their fellow prisoners: Funchess recalled only two prisoners who had survived and came out of the hospital.

Funchess pleaded with the guards to leave Father Kapaun where he was, as he was in no condition to be moved. Other POWs, especially the Catholics, tried to intervene. They were almost physical—pushing, shoving the Chinese guards and the Chinese English-speaking officer. The guards, though, were determined to take him—probably, Funchess thought, because they intended to allow him to die.

Funchess recalled that the guards permitted five or six Catholic POWs to take the ailing Father Kapaun out of his room and up the path to the so-called “hospital.” Once at the hospital, the guards closed the doors and sent the POWs back to their camp.

There was no word for several days; finally, the POWs learned that their beloved priest had died on May 23, 1951.

A Special Crucifix

Some time later, after he was transferred to North Korea’s Camp No. 2, Funchess saw the 5- or 6-year-old daughter of the Chinese commander playing with a set of gold “cups” that had once belonged to Father Kapaun. Nothing in his Methodist faith had prepared Funchess to understand the purpose of the “gold cups”; but most likely, the little girl had acquired the priest’s military Mass kit—and the cups were the chalice, ciborium and paten used in the liturgy.

Funchess also spoke with the Register about another prisoner of war, a Jewish prisoner by the name of Jerry Fink. Fink, a Chicago native who had been trained as a military pilot, had been shot down on his first mission; and Fink and Funchess had spent a week together in “the hole,” an underground cell in the prison camp.

Fink also formed a bond of respect with Father Kapaun; once, when Fink obtained rough wood from the woodpile, he used it to carve a crucifix for the priest.

Funchess also contributed to Father Kapaun’s crucifix: He climbed to the rafters in an abandoned camp building and found a pair of tin snips, which he used to cut the barbed wire. From the snipped wire, Funchess fashioned a crown of thorns for the crucified Christ.

The crucifix—which is 24 to 26 inches high and perhaps 12 to 15 inches across—was brought out of the camp by Catholic POWs when they were released at the end of the war. It is now enshrined at St. John Nepomucene Church in Pilsen, Kan., the hometown church of Father Kapaun.

Sainthood Cause and the Medal of Honor

The Diocese of Wichita and the Vatican have begun the formal process that could lead to Father Kapaun’s canonization. In 1993, Father Kapaun received the title of “Servant of God.” The next two steps would be beatification and canonization, if the cause proceeds.

On April 11, 2013, nearly 62 years after his death, Father Emil Kapaun was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama. Receiving the award was Father Kapaun’s nephew.

The president, in presenting the award, said, “This is an amazing story. Father Kapaun has been called a shepherd in combat boots. His fellow soldiers, who felt his grace and his mercy, called him a saint, a blessing from God. Today, we bestow another title on him—recipient of our nation’s highest military decoration. I know one of Father Kapaun’s comrades spoke for a lot of folks here when he said, ‘It’s about time.’”

More than six decades later, Bill Funchess recalls how in a Chinese POW camp the priestly Medal of Honor winner modeled Christ's love to all, regardless of faith.


Vigil of Pentecost Mass with Bishop Caggiano
| May 23, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—All Ecclesial Movement, Apostolic Societies, Fratnerities & 3rd Orders. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano invites all members and all those who wish to attend, to a special Mass on the Vigil of Pentecost, tonight, Saturday, May 23 at 6:30 pm at St. Augustine Cathedral, 359 Washington Avenue, Bridgeport. 

Reception will follow. Click here for free ticket. Let's have many Cursillistas at this Mass! De colores!

Bishop Caggiano's reflection on the Vigil Mass.

This evening I will be celebrating the full Vigil of Pentecost Mass of the Solemnity of Pentecost at 6:30 PM in Saint Augustine¹s Cathedral, during which we will give thanks for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit who gave birth to the Church in the upper room over 2,000 year ago and who came to us in the sacrament of Baptism, creating us as adopted children of God who share in the life and grace of God. In tomorrow¹s posting, I will share some thoughts about the great gift of the Holy Spirit. However, it is not enough to appreciate who the Holy Spirit is. Rather, let us pray for a greater outpouring of the Spirit¹s presence in your life and mine, so that we can come to know, love and serve the Lord Jesus in a deeper way. To this end, I ask you to pray today for each other and the whole Church in the following way:

"Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your divine love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth. Let us pray: O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit have taught the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the assistance of the same Holy Spirit, we may ever walk in the path of righteousness and ever rejoice in his consolation, through Christ the Lord, Amen."

Red Noses for a good cause at Assumption School
| May 21, 2015 • by Minute Man News


FAIRFIELD—More than 200 students, teachers and administrators at Assumption School in Fairfield wore red noses Thursday as part of Red Nose Day, to raise money to fight hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world.

The students purchased the $1 red noses, donated by Walgreens, sponsor of the event, and the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport. Irene Orosz, athletic director at Assumption and also a parent, heard of the nationwide program and helped plan the event at the school. "All the children were very excited and into raising money for this good cause," she said.

Photo by: Tom Henry

C4Y auditions are underway!
| May 20, 2015


WILTON—When Mary Bozzuti Higgins accepted the job as director of the diocesan youth choir, she probably did not realize that in addition to molding young singers into concert ready performers, she would also have to fill the role (at least initially) of “chief recruiter.” (click for video)

Victoria Baggio

Katie Cunningham

Sam Muirhead auditioning.

Whether she is able to create virtuosos, she has already done a good job recruiting young people for the first C4Y (Choir for Youth) auditions. Information on

Higgins, a soprano and accomplished opera singer and voice teacher, had help recruiting from her daughter, Caroline, a junior at Wilton High School who is a “shoe-in” to make the choir!

When asked how she learned about C4Y, and its auditions, Victoria Baggio explained that she is best friends with Caroline Higgins. “She recruited me,” Baggio said, and after singing “My Country Tis of Thee” in front of her friend’s mother, she said, “I wasn’t nervous.”

Baggio is also a junior at Wilton High School and an active member of Our Lady of Fatima Parish.

At the first audition for the nascent C4Y, Wilton High School and Our Lady of Fatima Parish were well-represented. WHS junior Katie Cunningham said, “I love to sing, and I sing for the high school choir.” She sees C4Y “as a perfect opportunity to sing more.”

Cunningham admitted that she can be shy, but after auditioning, she said, “I’m really glad I did it.”

Sam Muirhead, a WHS sophomore and OLF parishioner, presented a challenge to Bozzutti Higgins. At 6’4”, Muirhead may need a custom-made choir robe. “But we will get you one,” she assured him.

When asked why he was interested in auditioning, Muirhead said that “I’m very involved with the Church, and I figured that this would be fun.” He is also family friends with another “recruiter,” Deacon John DiTaranto, who is assisting with C4Y.

C4Y’s first assignment is to be ready for the September 19 Synod Closing Mass at Webster Arena in Bridgeport. The choir’s first public performance may be in front of 9,000 people. After that, they will sing at the first annual C4Y Christmas Concert, to be held December 18 at Norwalk Concert Hall.

C4Y rehearsals begin in June and run through the summer. “We are going to start practicing Christmas songs right away,” Bozzutti Higgins told some of her young singers.

In addition to their first two already scheduled “command performances,” Bozzutti Higgins is informing her singers that “Bishop Caggiano will be calling on C4Y for various events throughout the year and we must be ready with a basic repertory for Masses and special celebrations.”

It is likely that C4Y will consist of less than 50 members for the synod Mass, but the bishop hopes that in time, C4Y can be more than 100 members strong, ready to perform at a moment’s notice.

In addition to serving the needs of the Church, C4Y members will also have a very positive item to add to their college applications. College admission boards are very receptive to applicants who practice their faith and express interest in religion, as statistics show that college students who attend religious services during their college years tend to do better academically than students who do not practice religion while in college.

In order to build up her ranks of singers, Bozzutti Higgins is willing to travel throughout the diocese to meet individual singers for auditions. If you are interested in auditioning for C4Y or if you want to learn more about it, please contact Bozzutti Higgins at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Music events planned at St. Emery
| May 20, 2015


FAIRFIELD—St. Emery Church will hold its Third Annual Guest Artist Day on May 31 at the 9 am Mass, according to parish music director Anthony Procaccini.

“The day is set aside for all to thank the choir for their season, and to add an outstanding talent to the mix,” Procaccini notes. “This year the honors go to baritone Frank Mastrone.”

Mastrone, a Stamford resident, graduated from Central Connecticut State College with a bachelor of fine arts in acting and directing. He was part of the first national cast of “Cats,” and subsequently appeared as Jean Val Jean in “Les Miserables” and in the title role “Jackal and Hyde.” In the original company of “Phantom of the Opera,” he performed over 4,000 times in 25 years. His concert performances have taken place in the USA and Europe, and he has toured in “Evita” and “Mamma Mia!” He has performed benefits for local Catholic organizations and currently teaches at the Greenwich Performing Arts Studio.

Musical selections at the Mass will include “Ave Maria” composed by Michael Cooney, music director of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Fairfield.

The public is cordially invited. Immediately after Mass, all are invited to a free "coffee and" reception in the hall, courtesy of parish council members and volunteers, and to thank the choir members for their efforts.

On Sunday afternoon, June 14, St. Emery’s music department will hold a fundraising concert at 3 pm. The program will include organ music performed by Tony Procaccini; solo soprano selections by Rose Kovach, including Handel, Mozart, Brahms, Copland, and arias from the Hungarian opera “Bánk bán;” and music by the parish choir. Kovach, who has a degree in vocal performance and sacred music from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Penn., has lived in Hungary for four years.  

A reception follows.

(St. Emery is located at 838 Kings Highway East. The church has street parking only; arriving early is recommended. The May 31 Guest Artist Mass is free. Tickets for the June 14 concert are $10; children under 12, free. For more info, contact Tony Procaccini: 718.873.7421 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

Church needs women's voices, input, experiences, pope tells religious
| May 19, 2015 • by By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Women can be appointed heads of some offices of the Roman Curia, Pope Francis said, but that will not be enough to "recover the role" women should have in the Catholic Church.

"Women should be promoted," he said May 16 during an audience with an international group of men and women religious working in the Diocese of Rome.

But assigning a certain number of women to leadership positions is "simply functionalism," he said.

What is important is to ensure that women have a voice and are listened to, he said, because the church needs their specific contributions.

"When we men are dealing with a problem, we arrive at a conclusion, but if we deal with the same problem along with women, the conclusion could be different. It could lead along the same path, but would be richer, stronger, more intuitive," he said. "Women in the church must have this role," because the church needs "the feminine genius."

During the pope's long meeting with the religious, he responded off the cuff to questions posed by two women and two men. But he also highlighted the stories and ministries of religious he has met during his two years as bishop of Rome and experiences he had previously as archbishop of Buenos Aires.

Amigonian Father Gaetano Greco asked the pope how the diocese and religious orders of men could help religious women find good spiritual directors and confessors.

Pope Francis responded that for both women and men religious finding a good spiritual director can be a problem either because a priest "does not understand what consecrated life is, or because he wants to involve himself in the charism and give it his own interpretation."

Looking for a good confessor also can be difficult, he said. When going to confession, a religious doesn't need "a nice chat between friends," but he or she also does not need "one of those rigid ones."

"In the other diocese I had," he said, referring to Buenos Aires, "I always asked the sisters who came to me asking advice, 'But tell me, in your community or congregation isn't there a wise sister, a sister who lives your charism well, a good sister with experience? Ask her to be your spiritual director.'"

The pope said he once was told, "But she's a woman!"

Spiritual direction, the pope said, "is not a charism exclusive to priests. It's a charism of the laity."

The pope said he was reading a book on obedience by St. Silouan of Mount Athos, who was a carpenter. "He wasn't even a deacon, but he was a great spiritual director."

Pope Francis encouraged religious superiors—of both men and women—to identify members of their congregation who are good and wise and patient, and get them training in spiritual direction.

"It's not easy," the pope said. "A spiritual director is one thing and a confessor is another. I go to a confessor, say what my sins are, feel condemned, then he forgives everything and I go forward.

"But with a spiritual director, I have to talk about what is in my heart. The examination of conscience isn't the same for confession and for spiritual direction," he said. "For confession, I have to look at where I was lacking, where I lost patience, if I was greedy—that kind of thing, those concrete things that are sinful.

"But in spiritual direction, I must examine what is happening in my heart, where the Spirit is moving, if I felt desolation or consolation, if I am tired, why I am sad: These are things to talk about with the man or woman who is my spiritual director," he said.

"When you find a consecrated man or woman who cannot discern what is happening in his or her heart, who cannot discern a decision, it's a failing of spiritual direction," the pope said. "This is something only a wise man or wise woman can do."

Iwona Langa, a consecrated virgin, asked the pope how married couples and consecrated people can help each other realize they both have a vocation to love and they can support one another in their fidelity to that love.

The key, the pope said, is to remember that love is concrete.

"Your love as a woman is a concrete, maternal love," he said. The 25th chapter of Matthew's Gospel outlines just how concrete Christian love is to be: among other things, it involves feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting prisoners.

Scalabrinian Father Gaetano Saracino, pastor of a parish Pope Francis visited in March, asked how religious orders, new movements, Catholic associations and the diocese could work together better, valuing the identity and gifts of each.

Saying he would be blunt because "I am a bishop and a religious," the Jesuit Pope Francis told the religious, "One of the most difficult things for a bishop is to create harmony in the diocese."

Sometimes, the pope said, it may be true that the bishop sees religious as "stopgaps" or fillers. "But put yourself in the bishop's place. You have a parish with a great religious as pastor; three years later the provincial comes and says, 'I'm changing this one and sending you another.' The bishops suffer from this kind of attitude."

Religious tell the bishop, "we had a chapter and the chapter decided," he said. Well, the bishop is trying to run a diocese and sometimes it seems that "many religious women and men pass their lives if not in chapters, then in verses," he said, making a play on words while also making fun of endless meetings.

Carl Anderson and the Knights of Columbus has received Notre Dame’s 2015 Evangelium Vitae Medal
| May 18, 2015


INDIANA—The University of Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture has awarded the 2015 Evangelium Vitae Medal to Carl A. Anderson and the Knights of Columbus.

“Since its inception, the Knights of Columbus has protected and supported the most vulnerable among us,” said O. Carter Snead, William P. and Hazel B. White Director of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture.

“Its members have been at the forefront of the struggle to promote a culture of life through their work at the local, national and international levels. They have tirelessly volunteered, educated, advocated, donated and prayed on behalf of every human life from conception to natural death. Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and the Knights of Columbus richly deserve to be recognized as heroic contributors to the pro-life cause; they embody the spirit of the Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal.”

The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic organization with 1.8 million members. Anderson has served as Supreme Knight for 14 years. Over the past decade, under his administration, the organization has donated more than 664 million hours of service and $1.4 billion to charity, including the donation of more than 268 ultrasound machines valued at more than $14 million to pregnancy resource centers in 44 states and Canada.

The Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal honors individuals whose efforts have served to proclaim the Gospel of Life by steadfastly affirming and defending the sanctity of human life from its earliest stages. Previous recipients of the medal include Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities; Helen M. Alvaré, associate professor of law at George Mason University; Mother Agnes Mary Donovan and the Sisters of Life; and Congressman Chris Smith, co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, and his wife, Marie Smith, director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues.

Announced annually on Respect Life Sunday, the first Sunday of October, the Evangelium Vitae award consists of a specially commissioned medal and $10,000 prize, presented at a spring banquet.

Click here to read Mr. Anderson's speech.

Contact: Ryan Madison, associate director, Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, 574.631.1167, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Cardinal Egan: Extraordinary leader and personal mentor
| May 17, 2015 • by By Fr. Colin McKenna


BRIDGEPORT—A memorial Mass for Edward Cardinal Egan, the third Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, was held at St. Augustine Cathedral on Saturday, May 16, at 1 pm.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano was the principal celebrant, and Father Michael Jones, pastor of St. Lawrence Parish, Shelton, was the homilist.

Fifteen priests concelebrated the Mass, assisted by four deacons and four seminarians from Fisher Seminary who served as altar-servers. About 100 congregants attended the celebration, which was scheduled in part for those who were unable to attend the cardinal’s funeral Mass in March.

Bishop Caggiano repeatedly referred to Cardinal Egan as a personal “friend and mentor,” and as a friend of the Diocese of Bridgeport during and after his tenure as Bishop of Bridgeport. When Bishop Caggiano was named the fifth Bishop of Bridgeport, Cardinal Egan invited him to his Manhattan residence and said, “The Diocese of Bridgeport is a great treasure; take good care of it.”

Father Jones began his homily by saying that “Cardinal Egan did not like eulogies,” and then proceeded (humorously) to eulogize the bishop who ordained him and who became a lifelong friend. Father Jones spoke to Cardinal Egan on the phone within an hour of his cardiac arrest.

Despite the stresses of the position and the responsibility of commanding the “most important pulpit” in the United States, “Cardinal Egan was very happy as Archbishop of New York,” Father Jones said. “But the Diocese of Bridgeport was a vineyard that he never forgot.”

In his last phone call with Cardinal Egan, the cardinal was lining up donors to help with the relocation and construction of the new Fisher Seminary in Trumbull. Many consider the founding of Fisher to be Cardinal Egan’s signature achievement, and he was concerned about its legacy until his last breath.

Bishop Caggiano emphasized that the faithful hope that in Cardinal Egan we now have a great friend and intercessor in heaven, who can continue to help the good works of the Diocese of Bridgeport with his prayers from on high.

Regarding Cardinal Egan’s abilities as a fundraiser and fiscal manager, Father Jones said, “As a steward, there was no one better with the resources of others, and no one more generous with his own.”

Father Jones said that “Cardinal Egan loved priests,” and in his nearly thirty years as a bishop, he had the privilege to ordain many men to the priesthood. His love of priests is one reason he founded Fisher Seminary and remained concerned to the end about its legacy.

Father Jones was present at Cardinal Egan’s episcopal ordination in Rome in 1985. The Cardinal’s thirtieth anniversary as a bishop would have been May 22.

Father Jones said that Cardinal Egan “believed that life is a journey.” Now that Cardinal Egan’s journey here on earth has come to an end, the people of God will continue to remember him in prayer, with thanksgiving for his extraordinary leadership in the Church.

(Gifts in thanksgiving for Cardinal Egan’s service to the Diocese of Bridgeport and the universal Church can be given in his memory to support the ongoing works of St. John Fisher Seminary: 894 Newfield Avenue, Stamford, CT, 06905, and at

Click here for photos
(Photos by Michelle Babyak and F. McKenna)

Diocesan Memorial Mass for Cardinal Egan this weekend
| May 15, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—The Diocesan Memorial Mass for the late Edward Cardinal Egan will be held this Saturday, May 16, 1 pm at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport. All are invited to the Mass and remembrance.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the main celebrant. The homily will be delivered by Fr. Michael Jones, pastor of St. Lawrence Church in Huntington and former Priest Secretary to Cardinal Egan when he served as Bishop of Bridgeport

Cardinal Egan passed away suddenly and peacefully on March 5, 2015. More than 2,500 mourners, many from Fairfield County, attended his March 10, Mass of Christian Burial celebrated at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Cardinal Egan was the third bishop of Bridgeport serving in that capacity from 1988 to 2000.  While leading the diocese, he oversaw the regionalization of diocesan elementary schools, established Hispanic and Haitian Apostolates, founded the Saint John Fisher Seminary Residence for young men considering the priesthood, reorganized diocesan healthcare facilities, and initiated the Inner-City Foundation for Charity and Education. He saw to the construction of the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy Residence for Retired Priests in Stamford, Connecticut, and established the Saint Catherine School for Children with Special Needs in Bridgeport, Connecticut as well as The Haitian Catholic Center in Stamford, Connecticut. At this time he also served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut; and as Chairman of the Board of the Bishop Curtis Homes for the Elderly in fifteen communities of Fairfield County, Connecticut.

Just a few weeks prior to his death Cardinal Egan was present at Monsignor William Scheyd’s 50th Ordination Anniversary Mass. Last summer he visited the diocese for the 25th anniversary celebration of St. John Fisher Seminary, which he founded. At that time, the Cardinal said he hoped to return to help the diocese launch new initiatives in Catholic Education and conclude its fundraising for the new St. John Fisher Seminary in Trumbull.

"Ascension Thursday holds promise for us" | Bishop Frank J. Caggiano reflects on Ascension Thursday
| May 14, 2015


BRIDGEPORTToday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Lord¹s Ascension into heaven.

As a people of faith, we believe that the Risen Lord has ascended with his risen humanity into the glory of heaven, where He now sits at the right hand of the Father. From his place in heaven, Christ is forever our intercessor before our Heavenly Father. So whatever we ask for in prayer, we ask in the name of Jesus, our crucified, Risen and Ascended Lord.

Yet, as much as this feast celebrates what happened in the life of Christ, it also reminds us of what has been promised to each of us. More specifically, Christ has ascended into heaven, fully God and fully man, to open the path that you and I are called to walk to inherit eternal life. Today¹s feast reminds us of one basic truth of our Christian faith: in baptism, each of us is given the grace and shown the way to enter into the glory of eternal life. Our daily journey is also a journey to heaven. Where the Lord Jesus has gone, we hope to follow.

Many times we get so caught up in the things of life that are not important that we forget the really essential point of all that we are and do. Today we are reminded that our destination is eternal love and glory in heaven. For in the end, if we do not live so as to receive this great gift of eternal life, whatever do in its place will matter very little.

Also read: Deacon Greg Kandra's Ascension Thursday HomilyDeacon Kandra serves in the Diocese of Brooklyn, he is a former CBS Evening News writer and producer.

Feast of Our Lady of Fatima
| May 13, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima, one which the Diocese observes withgreat joy and devotion because Bishop Frank Caggiano has invoked Our Lady as patroness of 2014 Synod.

We honor Our Lady as the Mother of God,  and look to her as a model of perfect discipleship. We ask for her prayers to God on our behalf for the success of the Synod and the work of the diocese.

Pope Francis has signaled his strong devotion to Mary from the first morning of his pontificate, when he made a brief pilgrimage to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, Rome's principal Marian shrine. He later asked the bishops of Portugal to dedicate his pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima.

In 2014 Pope Francis formally entrusted the world to Mary, as he faced the statue of Mary that stands in the shrine at Fatima, Portugal. Click here for story by Catholic News Service.

God will judge people on care for the poor, for the planet, pope says
| May 13, 2015 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—The powerful of the earth will face God's judgment and will be asked to account for how they cared for the poor and how they cared for the environment so that it could produce food for all, Pope Francis said.

"The planet has enough food for all, but it seems that there is a lack of willingness to share it with everyone," Pope Francis said May 12 during his homily at a Mass opening the general assembly of Caritas Internationalis.

The network of 164 Catholic charities—who were to welcome Caritas South Sudan as the confederation's 165th member—was to focus on the theme, "One Human Family, Caring for Creation."

Pope Francis told the delegates, "We ought to set the table for all and ask that there be a table for all."

Citing Jesus' explanation of the final judgment in the Gospel of Matthew, which includes the line, "For I was hungry and you gave me food," the pope said, "we must do what we can so that everyone has something to eat. But we must also remind the powerful of the earth that God will call them to judgment one day, and it will be seen if they truly tried to provide food for him in every person, and if they worked so that the environment would not be destroyed, but could produce this food."

The work of Caritas in parishes, dioceses, nations and across the globe draws its strength from love of God and neighbor, the pope said. "Without this root, Caritas dies."

"All of our strategies and plans remain empty unless we carry this love in us," he said. "Not our love, but his. Or better yet, our love purified and strengthened by his love."

Adding to his prepared text and its call for further development of Caritas on the parish level, Pope Francis said every Caritas organization, large or small, is equal.

And he asked people to pray for "the grace not to fall into the trap of thinking that a well-organized centralization is the path to follow, the grace to understand Caritas is always on the periphery in every local church, and the grace to know the central office is there for assistance, service and to promote communion—but it is not everyone's boss."

Caritas agencies assist the poor, promote development, advocate for justice and assist refugees around the world. Pope Francis asked them at the Mass to be especially mindful of "our Christian brothers and sisters who have been violently deprived of food for the body and for the soul: They have been driven from their homes and their churches, which at times have been destroyed. I renew my appeal not to forget these people and these intolerable injustices."

The Christian faith, he said, is a call "to wash the feet and bathe the wounds of the suffering and to prepare a table for them."

Belief in God and assisting others go hand in hand, he said. Faith is "to welcome God and express this in service to our brothers and sisters. Word, sacraments and service lead to and nourish each other."

"Whoever lives the mission of Caritas is not simply a charity worker," the pope said, "but is a true witness of Christ, one who seeks Christ and allows Christ to seek him, one who loves with the spirit of Christ, which is a spirit of gratuitousness and giving. All of our strategies and plans remain empty unless we carry this love in us."

Father Hyl, former pastor of Holy Spirit
| May 12, 2015


STAMFORD—Father Robert J. Hyl, 78, former pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in Stamford, died on May 10 in Stamford after a long illness.

Robert Hyl was born on February 21, 1937 in Byram.  He attended Greenwich High School and the University of Connecticut in Storrs.

Father Hyl studied philosophy and theology at Our Lady of Mercy Seminary, Lenox, MA and Our Lady of the Angels, Niagara University, N,Y. He was ordained by Bishop Walter W. Curtis on May 25, 1963, at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.

His first assignment as a parochial vicar was at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Bridgeport. He served at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown; St. Peter Parish in Bridgeport and Saint Paul Parish in Greenwich. In 1970 he was appointed diocesan director of the Family Life Bureau, with residence at Our Lady of Good Counsel rectory in Bridgeport. In addition, Father Hyl held the position of chaplain at the former Fairfield Hills Hospital in Newton, was chaplain for Scouts in the Danbury area and chaplain for the American Apostolate of the Holy House of Loreto. He also served as a member of the Priests’ Council

He pursued advanced studies during sabbaticals at the  American College at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, and at the Institute of Theology and Spirituality of the Franciscan Renewal Center at Santa Barbara, Calif.

He was appointed pastor of Notre Dame Parish in Easton in 1986 and served there until 1999. In that year he was named pastor of Holy Spirit. He led Holy Spirit until his retirement in 2013. Father Hyl retired to the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of Clergy Residence in 2013 due to declining health.

Father Hyl’s body will be received at Holy Spirit Church, Stamford on May 15 at 3 pm, where it will lie in state until the Vigil Mass at 7 pm. The celebrant and homilist for the Mass will be Msgr. Kevin Royal, the current pastor of Holy Spirit. The Mass for Christian Burial will be celebrated at Holy Spirit by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano on May 16, at 10 am. Burial will follow at St. Mary Cemetery in Greenwich.

Father Hyl is mourned by his brother, Kenneth Hyl of Brookfield, and sister, Patricia Moore of Sutton, Mass.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
Mike’s Way!
| May 11, 2015


Notre Dame Convalescent home on West Rocks Road in Norwalk has been a fixture in the community since 1952. “It was founded before the Diocese of Bridgeport was formed,” Sister Marie-Lucie Monast says. “And it is the last ‘Catholic’ nursing home in the Diocese of Bridgeport,” she adds.

Camille Scavetta, SSTV-NDCH-Guild member,
with Sister Marie-Lucie Monast, SSTV.

Notre Dame remains Catholic because it is a non-profit agency owned and operated by the Sisters of St. Thomas of Villanova (SSTV), represented in the ever-present personages of Sister Monast and Sister Francoise Golder.

Both Sister Lucie (as she is known) and Sister Francoise have an aura of agelessness about them that can sometimes be found in Consecrated Religious women who live their faith and mission with love and intensity. At once, they appear child-like and filled with youthful energy and excitement, but upon reflection, one realizes that they are probably not as youthful as they appear.

Sister Lucie, one of thirteen children, is literally a bundle of energy and nearly non-stop activity in service of God and neighbor. Although the “Pearl of Great Price”—Notre Dame Convalescent Home—is truly Catholic, Sisters Monast and Golder are the only two SSTV religious in the facility, which is home to 60 residents.

For two “little” (in the sense of St. Therese, the Little Flower) Consecrated Religious women, Sisters Golder and Monast create an enormous sense of “presence” in the greater-Norwalk community and beyond.

In fact, when I met with her yesterday, Sr. Lucie needed to excuse herself for a moment. She pulled out her cell phone and said, “I need to call Paris.” Paris, France, that is, not Paris, Texas! An observer remarked that Sister Lucie seemed to only press one number on her phone to make the connection—speed dial! Paris is the location of the SSTV Mother House, and hailing form Quebec herself, Sister Lucie is a fluent French speaker. Sister Francoise—who has been in Norwalk for about 30 years—is herself from France, and speaks English with a soft and charming French accent.

Notre Dame is a small institution that strives to treat its residents with the utmost respect and dignity, and remarkably, is able to offer daily Mass for its residents and staff in its own chapel. I say remarkably, because it is difficult to find priests to cover daily Masses outside of parish communities these days (due to fewer priests being available), but Sisters Monast and Golder get the job done! Their daily Mass is also open to the public, Monday-Friday at 10:00 am. And they offer a weekly Sunday Mass too!

When it comes to managing a Catholic parish or institution, it is usually wise not to build the “edifice” on the personality of a current pastor or administrator, no matter how dynamic such a personality may be. In the case of Notre Dame, Sisters Golder and Monast have no choice but to be the face (and personality) of their institution, because reinforcements are not on the horizon (even though Sister Lucie is also SSTV-USA Vocation Director). If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Sister of St. Thomas of Villanova, please contact Sister Monast at 203.847.2883 or by email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

If you would like to become a Consecrated Religioius woman to help minister to the aged and infirm at Notre Dame, there is more than enough work to do, as evidenced by the lives of Sisters Golder and Monast.

For example, with their fundraiser at Jersey Mike’s set for Friday, May 8, Sister Monast had to make an emergency visit to Hartford for a consultation with the State of Connecticut Health Department. Whether it is preparing the chapel and residents for daily Mass or meeting with State officials, Sister Monast has to do the job. “We had a 15-minute break during the meeting in Hartford,” Sister Lucie told me, “so that gave me a chance to return your call.”

I had called her to ascertain the time of the fundraiser, which turned out to be 4:00 pm to 8:00. In addition to the many “hats” that the sisters wear out of necessity, chief fundraisers for SSTV USA and Notre Dame are among the most all-encompassing.

Sadly, for numerous reasons, Sisters Monast and Golder are nearly always engaged in fundraising. Most recently, they have embarked on a major capital improvement campaign for upgrading the physical plant at Notre Dame, a building which is nearly 65 years old. The sisters are proud that Notre Dame has recently introduced a new Intensive Stroke Rehabilitation Program, “And now we are raising funds to upgrade the dining facilties,” Sister Monast said.

Under the leadership of SSTV, Notre Dame Convalescent Home has been awarded 5 stars by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. For more information, its website is located at

Jersey Mike’s is a relatively new sandwich shop to Connecticut, but the franchise has 600 locations nationwide and is rapidly expanding. It is similar to Subway, but in my opinion, the quality of the food and its customer experience are a step above what one can expect at most Subway Restaurants. To understand the difference between Jersey Mike’s and a Subway, one really needs to give Jersey Mike’s a try. I did, and now I am hooked!

John Stefanidis, the Jersey Mike’s Area General Manager, offers a very generous promotion to local non-profit agencies and organizations. For a period of time (e.g. 4 hours) a Jersey Mike’s location will donate 20% of its gross sales to the non-profit group holding the fundraiser. The idea is to get lots of supporters to buy dinner at Jersey Mike’s during the fundraiser.

When I arrived at the Jersey Mike’s at 35 Danbury Road in Wilton at 4:00 pm, for the 4-8 fundraiser, the turnout was not overwhelming. The few customers who did come in during the time I was there were not aware that they had indirectly made a donation to the cause of the sisters, who were both present. Although unaware, customers were pleased to discover that they were supporting the sisters and Notre Dame.

Camille Scavetta was there to assist the sisters with the fundraiser, and had a pile of promotional info to distribute about Notre Dame. She is a member of the SSTV-NDCH-Guild, which has about 120 lay members dedicated to helping SSTV and NDCH in their mission. Camille is a parishioner of Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton, and was joined by her son Frank, a Physicians Assistant from Pennsylvania who was up visiting mom for the Mother’s Day weekend. Frank spent quite a bit of time trying to put together the order for the Scavetta clan, which included siblings, children and extended family. It was Frank’s first time there, so I had to show him the ropes about how to order and I told him what I liked best. He showed his appreciation for my assistance by buying me a an enormous ham, turkey and bacon sub. Thanks, Frank!

Jersey Mike’s has another location in Norwalk, on Connecticut Avenue, which was holding the fundraiser simultaneously. Despite the rush-hour traffic, and despite a round-trip drive to Hartford that day, Sister Lucie was off to the Connecticut Avenue location, to be present there too!

In total, the Jersey Mike’s fundraiser probably did not amount to much, but it was a first-time try for the sisters and they will probably try again with greater success next time.

John Stefanidis and Jersey Mike’s are to be commended for offering an easy and “delicious” way to raise funds for local charities and non-profit organizations.

In addition to planning and attending fundraisers directly, Sisters Monast and Golder also spread the Gospel and the good news about Notre Dame and SSTV. On Sunday morning, June 14, Sister Lucie will be the special guest speaker at St. Matthew’s Family Communion Breakfast, sponsored by St. Mathew’s Knights of Columbus Council 14360. Georg Ribellino, Grand Knight, and the other members of the council are huge supporters of SSTV and Notre Dame. They recently helped to renovate the SSTV convent chapel, and by inviting Sister Lucie to speak to their parish community, the Knights are helping to spread the news about the good works of SSTV and Notre Dame. More info about the breakfast can be obtained at

John Stefanidis gave me his business card, and when I prepared to write this blog, I glanced at the back of the card and it says, “One free regular sub.” Thanks John and thanks Jersey Mike’s. I think I’ll have it “Mike’s Way!”

There have been 621 visit(s) to this blog post.

5th General Session reveals shape of future change
| May 09, 2015


TRUMBULL—Bishop Frank Caggiano introduced dramatic new proposals including calls for a Catholic Service Corps, the creation of a Leadership Institute and the formation of a new diocesan council to empower laity at the 5th General Session of 2014 Synod today at St. Catherine of Siena Parish Center in Trumbull.

In the most dynamic and detailed General Session of the Synod to date, the Bishop and Synod leaders laid out specific plans and initiatives for reform and renewal in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

After nearly a year of identifying problems and challenges and exploring best practice models, Synod delegates got the first look at what might become the final recommendations in response to challenges in areas such as liturgy and worship, family life, evangelization, leadership and catechesis.

Many of the ideas and suggestions outlined during the day will be formally introduced and voted on in the May 30 General Session, which will formally bring to a close the first phase of the Synod.

Speaking to more than 300 delegates in the first major presentation of the morning session, the Bishop set the pace for a fast paced and intense day in which he outlined his plans for programs that empower youth, reach out to divorced and separated Catholics, recognize the cultural and ethnic diversity of the diocese, and support priests in spiritual and personal growth and formation.

Before recommending specific programs for the consideration of Synod delegates, the Bishop outlined six global initiatives to support all final recommendations produced by the synod: the creation of a permanent strategic planning commission to guide renewal and reform of the diocese; development of a comprehensive pastoral planning process for parishes and diocesan institutions; a Catholic Service Corps; a Diocesan Leadership Institute; a consultation with priests leading to a presbyteral assembly in the winter of 2016; and the formation of two new leadership councils, one for religious and a pastoral council for laity.

The Bishop’s presentation was followed by reports from Synod Study Group members on best practice models and solutions to the challenges identified in earlier sessions.

Fr. Thomas Thorne, Pastor of Assumption Parish in Westport, said that the Mass remains the center of Catholic life but that parishes must learn to become more welcoming and inviting.

“People shop around for parishes today,” he said, noting that some may even go to other denominations that are more welcoming.

Among the recommendations of the Liturgy Study group were the re-establishing of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission and the need to “reflect and celebrate ethnic and cultural differences in the worship life of the Church and all diocesan events.” Fr. Thorne said.

He said that while there are fewer “National Parishes” organized along ethnic lines as in the past, there is far more diversity within each parish including a growing number of people who speak English as a Second Language.

Al Barber, President and CEO of Catholic Charities delivered the report on Family Life, which recommended a unified mission statement for parishes, the renewal of Baptismal preparation, the creation of a diocesan website and social media campaign to support parents, and the development of a parish volunteer corps to reach out to elderly and needy parishioners.

“We are family,” Barber said noting that the challenge of the synod is to put faith and a personal relationship with Jesus at the center of family life.

In response to Barber’s presentation, the Bishop called the for development of a “diocesan pastoral outreach to the divorced and separated” and changes within the Tribunal to streamline responses for “those who are seeking a way back to sacramental life.”

Fr. Peter Towsley delivered the Evangelization study committee report, which identified best practices in reaching out to youth as well as outreach to Catholics who are no longer active in the Church. One of the major recommendations was for the development of Parish Evangelization Teams.

The Bishop said that the new Pastoral Planning Process will address evangelization needs, and that he did not anticipate a single diocesan wide initiative, but that each parish would have flexibility in developing its own program.

The Leadership committee reported on approaches to leadership training for priests, religious and laity within the diocese.

Fr. Ian Jeremiah, head of Clergy Personnel for the diocese, said that priest leadership programs will focus on creating formation and on opportunities for “healthy and holy living.”

Robert Rooney and Jamie Dance, members of the leadership committee, emphasized that programs should provide both spiritual and managerial training, mentoring, and spiritual direction that reflect the composition of existing parishes and encourage people to bring their talent to support parish life.

In the report on Catechesis and Education Andrea Woronick called for a complete overhaul of religious education programs in the diocese. Noting that parishes begin to lose some teens after Confirmation and that existing programs tend to isolate youth from the rest of the parish, she said that new programs should make youth “visible and integrated into every aspect of parish life, ministry, planning and decision making.”

Her study group also recommended more “communication, collaboration, and sharing” of best practices between parishes,” and alternatives to classroom models in faith formation.

In response to her presentation, Bishop Caggiano called for the creation of a Faith Formation taskforce to explore Religious Education models for parishes and a new approach to religious education.

In the final presentation of the session on Empowering Youth, Julie Rodgers, director of youth ministry for the diocese, said that the “breakdown of family and secularization of culture” means that young people are not receiving a “conversion experience in the context of family life.

Her committee recommended bringing parents back into the formation process and for a diocesan-wide effort to re-define youth groups and their relationship to parish life.

The 2014 Synod will conclude with a Mass of Thanksgiving and celebration to be held at the Arena at Harbor Yard on Saturday September 19 at 10 am. For more information visit the Synod 2014 website at

Msgr. Wallin Sentenced
| May 07, 2015


HARTFORD—Monsignor Kevin Wallin, 63, was sentenced to five years and five months in prison this morning for his involvement in a drug distribution ring.

The Federal Courthouse in Hartford was filled with more than 100 friends from all walks of life who turned out to show their support. The gathering also included many of his brother priests and deacons.

Msgr. Wallin was visibly moved by the presence of those who witnessed the sentencing. He publicly apologized for the hurt his actions caused others, said that he was deeply ashamed of his actions and hoped to use the rest of his life to make amends.

Msgr. Wallin has incarcerated since he pleaded guilty to drug charges in 2013.

Those who spoke on his behalf before Senior U.S. Distcit Judge Alfred V. Covello asked for leniency in the sentence because of Msgr. Wallin’s compassionate and tireless service as a pastor who reached out to many people in his ministry. He could have been sentenced to 10 years.

May 7,  2015
Diocese of Bridgeport

Statement on the sentencing of Msgr. Kevin Wallin

This is a fate we could not have imagined for such a talented, hard working and respected priest.

We ask for prayers for Msgr. Kevin Wallin and for all those who are imprisoned and who suffer from addiction. He has admitted to serious wrongdoing that has affected many lives, and he is working to make amends and rebuild his life.

We also pray that during this difficult time as Msgr. Kevin Wallin comes to terms with his actions, he will be blessed with some of the peace, consolation and healing that he generously brought to so many others during his ministry.

Monsignor Kevin W. Wallin

Monsignor Wallin, a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, was ordained to the priesthood in 1984 by Bishop Walter W. Curtis, S.T.D. His first assignment was as Parochial Vicar at St. Augustine‘s Cathedral in Bridgeport. In 1987, Bishop Curtis appointed him as Secretary to the Bishop. In 1988, Bishop Edward M. Egan, J.C.D reappointed him as Secretary to the Bishop after assuming the Office of Bishop of Bridgeport. In 1995, Bishop Egan named him Diocesan Director of the Ministry for Liturgy, and in February, 1996, as Executive Director of the Inner-City Foundation for Charity and Education. In June, 1996, Monsignor Wallin became pastor of Saint Peter Parish in Danbury Connecticut. In April, 2002, The Most Reverend William E. Lori, S.T.D. the Fourth Bishop of Bridgeport, appointed Monsignor Wallin pastor of the Cathedral Parish of Saint Augustine.

Monsignor Wallin served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut since 1993; he was a member of the Pope John Paul II Center for Health Care in Danbury; a member from April 1997 to April 2002 of the Cultural Commission of the City of Danbury; since 1992 he has served a State Chaplain to the Connecticut State Council of Columbiettes; from 1998 to 2002, he served as the State Chaplain to the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; since 1996, he has served as the Chaplain of the Order of Malta, Connecticut and a Magistral Chaplain of the Order; since 2003 he has served on the Board of Directors of the Bridgeport Catholic Elementary School System, and as its president from January 2003 to June 2004. In the spring of 2003, he was elected to a three-year term as Territorial Vicar for his vacariate. The Most Rev. William E. Lori, Fourth Bishop of Bridgeport, asked for and accepted Msgr. Wallin’s resignation as Pastor of St. Augustine Parish in June 2011, and removed his priestly faculties in October of that year. 

Bishop Caggiano reflects on National Day of Prayer
| May 07, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—“Many years ago, when I was a catechist preparing seventh graders for Confirmation, one of my students asked me a very serious question that I have not forgotten since.

He asked, “If God knows everything, why do we need to ask Him for anything in our prayers? Since we can’t tell God anything that He does not already know, why bother to ask at all?”

I honestly do not remember what answer I gave the student but his question stayed with me for many years. However, a few months after my ordination to the priesthood, I recall praying the Fourth Eucharistic Preface in Ordinary Time and was struck that it answered his question! The Preface said: “You (God) have no need of our prayers for our desire to thank You is itself Your gift. Our prayers add nothing to Your greatness but help us to grow in grace through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The point is simple: when we ask the Lord for anything in our prayers, we are not telling Him something that He does not already know. However, our prayer is meant to help us to accept the gifts that God wishes to give us in answer to our needs. In other words, when we pray, God wishes to give us what we ‘need’, not necessarily what we ‘want’, because what we need will help us to grow in grace and peace in this life and help prepare us to receive everlasting life. The point of our prayer is to help us to open our hearts to accept what God wishes to give us in answer to our prayers—to accept what we need from Him, even if it is not what we want.
On this National Prayer Day, we need to ask ourselves a basic question: What is it that we are looking for from the Lord in our prayer? For if we are not looking to accept what God generously wishes to give us because of His great love for us, then we need to re-examine what we are asking for.”

Delegates get back to work this weekend
| May 06, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Best practices and other initiatives to create strong and vibrant ministries in the diocese will be on the agenda for the 5th General Session of the 2014 Synod at St. Catherine of Siena Parish Center in Trumbull.

More than 300 delegates are expected to convene to review possible solutions formulated by the Synod Study Committees to the challenges defined by the synod to renew the local Church and plan for the future.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will address the delegates during both the morning and afternoon sessions. His morning reflection on “Genesis” will reflect on ways of creating new initiatives and moving forward. During the afternoon session he will discuss Global Initiatives, Next Steps and Preparation for Synod Recommendations.”

Deacon John DiTaranto, special assistant to the Bishop, will conduct a session on “Overcoming Resistance to Change” including suggestions on ways parishes can move forward to implement Synod recommendations.

“We are looking forward to hearing from each of the five study committees as we begin to move toward addressing the challenges and developing the language of the Synod recommendations,” says Patrick Turner, Deputy Synod Director.

All of the new initiatives and planning for the future of the diocese will be framed within the five final challenges affirmed when Synod delegates voted earlier this year

•    Liturgy and Worship: Every Catholic is called to FULL, CONSCIOUS, AND ACTIVE PARTICIPATION in the worship life of the Church.
•    Family Life: There is a need to strengthen and support family life, to empower youth and to assist parents as the primary teachers of the Catholic Faith.
•    Evangelization: We must create concrete plans for evangelization through our parishes, schools, ecclesial movements, and communities.
•    Leadership: There is a need to continually call, form, and support clergy, religious, and laity in active leadership roles in the life of the Church.
•    Catechesis and Education: We must renew the ministry of faith formation throughout our Diocese, leading each person to a deepening relationship with the Lord Jesus in and through His Church.

Turner said there will not be any formal voting on recommendations during this session.  All voting on the recommendations will take place on the final May 30 session.

When the general delegates last convened on March 21, Bishop Caggiano called for a commitment to “substantial and lasting change” as he outlined guiding principles for implementing Synod recommendations in parishes and ministries.

The Bishop said the 2014 Synod was an invitation to “create roadmaps to vital and vibrant communities,” and that he will ask all parishes as well as diocesan programs to set measurable benchmarks for change. Noting that there is inherent tension as the Church seeks to preserve what it does best, while also undergoing change, the bishop called for a spirit of collaboration that does not simply mean compromising on individual goals, but “allowing Christ to take the lead.”

Saturday’s session will begin at 7:15 am Mass celebrated by Fr. Joseph Marcello, Pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Church. It will be followed by breakfast and 8:20 am    

The 2014 Synod will conclude with a Mass of Thanksgiving and celebration to be held at the Arena at Harbor Yard on Saturday September 19 at 10 am. For more information visit the Synod 2014 website at

Click to read the Summary of Bishop Frank’s Seven Principles for Implementation of Synod Recommendations

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna
More Deck Garden News!
| May 05, 2015


For some reason, my deck garden blogs have proven popular, so now that the weather is nicer, I think I will continue the “series.”

This past winter was not kind to two of my lemon trees (they have passed), and during the cold weather, I kept telling myself that I was not going to have a deck garden this summer. I even planned to get rid of the barrel-like planter that I use to grow grass for my cats (and birds).

My plans for not having a deck garden this summer changed when I stopped by Wal-Mart a few days ago. Near the front entrance, they had all kinds of plants in little biodegradable planters. A strawberry plant (already flowering) and a green pepper plant caught my eye. For $2.60 each, how can you go wrong? Each is now planted (and growing, I hope) in its own planter. As time goes on, each may have to share space with some melons I plan to grow, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

Fortunately, I had a few hours the other day to get my deck garden in shape. The deck and the railings needed a good cleaning, and I tried to create a new drainage system for my barrel-planter (but my efforts did not work! Had to resort to the “old” system). Now I have my deck and planters looking pretty good. Grass is already planted in my barrel-planter but it has not yet sprouted.

It turns out that my parakeets, like my cats, love fresh grass too. When I clip some fresh blades and leave it in a pile for them at the bottom of their cage, they consume it all in short order. One of my cats in particular—Katie—loves to lie in the grass in the barrel planter. She stays out there for hours in nice weather, watching the neighborhood birds coming and going. On my to-do list is setting up my hummingbird feeder!

Like my birds, my cats also like to eat the fresh grass. I think it is good for their digestion system. First thing in the morning—when the grass has grown—they go out on the deck and nibble on the fresh sprigs, still wet with dew. Because they eat it and lie in it, I keep it organic (I don’t use any fertilizer or treatments on it, other than what is already in the planting soil).

Now I have one lemon tree left (but still no lemons!), even though I asked a neighbor if she wanted the tree, because she gets more winter sun on her side of the building. She was not interested. If I do not get any lemons this summer, I may ask a nearby nursery if they want the tree. In the poor winter sunlight with the possibility of mite infestations, my lemon trees have not faired well inside during the cold weather. Perhaps a winter in a greenhouse could bring lemons. Anyone want a lemon tree? Needs a good home.

From being dispirited about the coming growing season, I am quite motivated now to give my deck garden the attention it needs.

At Mass this past weekend in Greenwich, I mentioned that I had already planted some strawberries and peppers. After Mass, I was surprised that two separate “seasoned citizens” gently scolded me for having planted my garden already. One woman in her 80s said, “My father never planted anything before May 15!” Another woman said, “Don’t you think it is a little early to put your plants out, Father?”

The way I see it, I just took in my ice-scraper from my car, and it is May, after all. I think I will risk the possibility of a freeze, and will likely have lots of strawberries long before all of those other more-cautious Connecticut Yankee farmers!

There have been 646 visit(s) to this blog post.

Three classmates grew up to be priests for the Diocese of Bridgeport
| May 04, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Can you guess who they are from their 8th Grade Class pictures? To find out who they are click below for the story.

Look for this story in the next print issue of Fairfield County Catholic.

Father Skip Karcsinski, Msgr. Andy Varga and Msgr. Kevin Royal were all members of Stratford's Holy Name Of Jesus School Cass of 1966. In its May "Vocation" issue (due in homes May 16), the Fairfield County Catholic will feature an article on these three priests, exploring the path their vocations have taken and how they are living their priesthood today.

An Abiding sense of peace at Lourdes
| May 04, 2015


LOURDES—There is an abiding sense of peace here in Lourdes that is very hard to describe.

Even though there were over 20,000 in attendance at Mass yesterday morning, the entire celebration was deeply reverent and prayerful.

In fact, there was a joyful spirit that is often absent when so many people are gathered together, trying to settle into the same space.

It was truly moving for me to see the profound faith reflected in the eyes and faces of those who attended Mass in the Pius X Basilica. Then I realized that we had all gathered as Mary’s children, to honor her Son and our Lord. Our Blessed Mother called each of us to the table of Her Son and we were all grateful to be there sharing this special moment with her. She was the reason for our joy!

I continue to remember all of your prayers and intentions here at Lourdes. Blessed Mother, hear our prayers!

Posted on May 4, 2015

LOURDES—This morning I had the privilege to concelebrate Mass with eight other bishops, over 30 priests and all the pilgrims and malades from the Order of Malta throughout the United States in the very grotto where Our Lady first appeared to Saint Bernadette.

As I reflected upon the entire experience, I was filled with many different feelings. The grotto is a place of tremendous peace, even though there is activity going on everywhere around it. It is also a place that filled me with a beautiful sense of awe and wonder in the maternal love and care that Our Lady has for each of us. It is a place where prayer can come easily for anyone who is not afraid to surrender to what is being asked of those who visit-to trust that Our Lady, as our spiritual mother, will take care of us in every way that we need.

I plan to go back to the grotto early tomorrow morning, when the crowds are not there, to spend time in quiet with Our Blessed Mother. I feel she is calling me to come, to sit silently and to learn.

Posted on May 2, 2015

LOURDES—Last night I had the privilege to concelebrate Mass with Cardinal Dolan as the pilgrimage in Lourdes began in earnest. Pilgrims from all over the United States- Knights and Dames of Malta, maladies and their caregivers, priests and bishops- gathered to give thanks to the Lord for the privilege to be in this holy place where Our Blessed Mother appeared to Saint Bernadette. My heart was moved with great joy to see the faith of everyone who gathered in prayer, especially those who are sick and have come to ask for healing in body and spirit.

It was once said to me that the Lord Jesus is never closer to each of us than in the time of our sufferings. For when we suffer, the Lord never fails to give us whatever we need, especially His love and mercy, to remain faithful to Him and never to lose hope.

Last night I saw how close the Lord Jesus is to everyone who has come here in prayer to Lourdes.

Posted on May 1, 2015

Bishop asks for Prayer Intention as he travels to Lourdes
| April 29, 2015


LOURDES—This evening I will be traveling with the Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta to the Shrine of Our Lady at Lourdes in France.

I will be joining nearly 400 people on this special six day pilgrimage, including over 50 people who are seriously ill and are traveling to Lourdes to seek spiritual and perhaps even physical healing.

This will be my very first visit to Lourdes and I look forward to spending time in reflection with my fellow pilgrims and in prayer with Our Blessed Mother.

I would like to bring whatever intentions you have with me to Our Lady of Lourdes, especially for friends and loved ones who are sick and struggling. Feel free to send them in or simply to offer them up in the quiet of your own prayers, spiritually joining them to the prayers of all the pilgrims who will be making this special trip. I will pray for your intentions during the celebration of Mass each day.

May Our Blessed Lady be our hope, advocate and guide!

To send Bishop Frank a message go to: or

Click to see photos of Bishop Caggiano and 400 area Catholics who are in Lourdes this weekend


Further Reflection on Lourdes

In one of his most famous homilies, Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen described the Blessed Virgin Mary as the moon in the evening sky. For the moon does not generate light itself, but only reflects the light of the sun, which for the time being is not visible. The moon's light is bright because the sky is at its darkest.

I often reflect on this image of our Lady, especially as I prepare to travel to Lourdes. In this time of so much challenge and difficulty and where the events around us seem to be so dark, I believe our Lady can help us to find the way to renewal and to her son, as she always has in past ages.

So as I leave for Lourdes, I will bring all of your prayers and intentions with me. I ask that you pray that this trip will allow me, those who come with me, and all of God's people to look up in the sky when it is darkest, see the moon, and know that the sun is not far away.

Serra Club encourages vocations
| April 29, 2015


FAIRFIELD—The Serra Club, an international organization dedicated to promoting and nurturing vocations to the priesthood and religious life, has a new chapter.

(Photo by John Grosso)

On April 28 in the Mary Mother of God Chapel at St. Pius X Parish, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano formally chartered the Serra Club of Bridgeport in a Mass and reception.

“I am ecstatic that you are here,” said Bishop Caggiano in his homily. “To create the Serra Club here in our diocese will go a long way in helping our young people hear the voice of the Shepherd.”

Serra International, founded in 1935 in Seattle, Wash., has chartered 1,170 Clubs in 46 countries across six continents. Inspired by their patron, soon to be canonized Blessed Junipero Serra, the club’s objectives are to foster, encourage and promote vocations. Serra Club members are also called to dedicate time each day in prayer, specifically for vocations.

“Our first and greatest responsibility is to pray for vocations, and to pray that young people hear the call,” said Bishop Caggiano. Even that though, is not enough, he added: “Once young people have heard the call, to sustain it is absolutely essential.”

Sustaining that call to vocations will be one of the primary functions of the new chapter, as members will help to keep the fire of the Holy Spirit burning in all those who say, “yes” to God. In his homily, Bishop Caggiano charged the new officers and trustees of Serra to keep that fire burning through prayer and conversation.
Led by President Jeff Miller and Chaplain Father Sam Kachuba, the new chapter will go a long way towards providing all those in our diocese with the resources needed to discern their vocation, whatever they may be. The club will provide a welcoming environment where those considering the priesthood or religious life in the Diocese of Bridgeport can have the support that they need.

In his closing remarks, Bishop Caggiano agreed: “In the end, we only want what the will of God is for each of us, including our young people.”

Fairfield County economic and social trends challenge the Church
| April 29, 2015


BRIDGEPORT—Social issues from growing inequality to  the rising number of foreign born residents have important implications for the Church and other service institutions rooted in the area, said Chris Bruhl, CEO of the Fairfield County Business Council.

Speaking at the invitation of Bishop Frank J. Caggiano to diocesan leadership at the Catholic Center, Bruhl said the growing gap between rich and poor, and between new arrivals to the state and those who have been here for generations presents unique challenges and opportunities to the business, government and churches.

He noted that the foreign born share of Connecticut’s population has continued to grow from 8.5 percent in 1990 to over 13 percent today. However, Fairfield County is more even more diverse than the rest of the state with 20 percent of its population foreign born.

“The same thing is happening in the Church, where it has Brazilian, Asian, Latino and other Catholics from all over the globe in its parishes. We all have come here from somewhere else. The challenge is to make them into one community,” he said.

Bruhl said that Churches and non-profits will experience greater demand for services and will need to develop new donor bases. He said corporate giving is now only a fraction of what many hedge funds in Fairfield County are donating to charitable causes.  

He also noted that in the future women will serve in leadership roles across every aspect of life in Fairfield County and that will have implications for their participation in the Church. As a group they are now better educated than men and more likely to be employed in the county.

In welcoming Bruhl to the Catholic Center, Bishop Caggiano mentioned that the Catholic Church is one of the few “country-wide organizations” that reaches out to many people through worship as well as social service.   

The bishop added that the demographic projections and trends identified by the Business Council have been useful to him in formulating challenges for the Synod as it works to make plans for the future of the Church in Fairfield County.

In his presentation, Bruhl pointed out that Fairfield County is “the least equitable area in the U.S. as measured by wealth and educational attainment,” and that the county has the resources to move ahead but must adapt to change and do a better job of integrating young people and newcomers into its economy.

Bruhl began his talk by noting that Fairfield County is “at the intersection of New England and New York” and that the area is much more closely related to New York than Hartford in its economy, airports, media and other key infrastructure.

He said that one of the barriers to progress may be found in Connecticut’s DNA as a colony with a strong sense of home rule and religious freedom that often led to people pulling up stakes and moving to the next town, rather than forming a regional government to solve problems. “They didn’t stay and work it out. They left and started over.”

He said that immigration has always been important to Connecticut prosperity and that if the state is to move forward again, long-term residents and new arrivals must begin speaking to one another, whether in Churches or other community settings.

Bruhl said that for him challenges show “that we are all in this together,” and that policies need to better integrate all of concerns faced by Connecticut residents.