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"We’ll do our part. God will do the rest"
| July 31, 2014


BRAZIL — Watch this video celebrating the work of Msgr. Joseph Potter and the Diocese of Bridgeport at Remanso, Brazil. In the spirit of Vatican II, The Most Rev. Walter W. Curtis, second Bishop of Bridgeport opened a diocesan mission in Remanso, a desperately poor area in the Northeast region of Brazil. More than 100,000 people had died there after a prolonged drought in 1959. Msgr. Joseph Potter served at the mission from 1965 to 1982 and returned there at the age of 70 in 1998 after retiring as pastor of St. Charles Parish in Bridgeport.

He continues to serve the poor along with Fr. Whitey McCall in the growing parish, which now includes three schools supported by the generosity of many parishes and individuals across the diocese. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano returned from a trip to Remanso in early July. The September issue of Fairfield County Catholic will profile the Bishop’s visit and offer and update of the missionary work and the great spirit of the Catholic people in Remanso. The video was made possible through the generosity of Tom O'Hara, President of International Marketing Systems in Shelton, CT.

Happy Saint Baldrick’s Day!
| July 30, 2014


I used to be a red head.

What am I supposed to do?

Go easy on me.

Msgr. Edward Scull about to be shaved.

Girls selling popcorn.

BROOKFIELD—Everyone has heard of St. Patrick’s day, but St. Joseph Parish in Brookfield celebrates St. Baldrick’s day!

Sponsored by St. Joseph School and spearheaded by parents Mike and Dianna Sobutka, St. Joseph’s aimed to raise nearly $25,000 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation that seeks to conquer childhood cancers.

Father Chip O’Neill, pastor of St. Joseph, thanked God for the beautiful weather on June 22, and encouraged those to be shaved and the shavers to do all for the glory of God! Father Chip and Msgr. Edward Scull were among those who volunteered to have their heads shaved to support childhood cancer research.

Those who were to have their heads shaved could raise money beforehand by asking for pledges for their soon-to-be baldness. Others could make a donation at the event before having their heads shaved in solidarity with children fighting cancer. Walk up “shavees” were asked to make a minimum donation of $20 in order to have their hair professionally coiffed. The volunteer shavers were all professional hairstylists.

This is the third year that St. Joseph’s has sponsored the St. Baldrick’s fundraising event. The previous two events yielded a total of $47,000 for childhood cancer research, and it is hoped that this year’s total will approach or surpass $25,000.

The St. Baldrick’s fundraising formulas are proving popular and effective. Shaving heads can also be practical. One woman watched admiringly as both her husband and her son received maintenance-free buzz-cuts for the warm summer weather.

As would be expected, most of those having their heads shaved were males. Girls and women seemed to be reluctant to embrace the shaved-head look. In any case, females who want to donate their hair for a cause (without having their heads shaved) have another outlet in the “Locks of Love” program that helps provide wigs for cancer patients.

(Anyone interested in sponsoring an event, volunteering time, making a donation, or having your head shaved in solidarity with cancer patients can find more information at

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna

Three Saints A Day
| July 30, 2014


Rome is a place that surpasses expectations. Whenever I have visited the Eternal City I have marveled at the wonderful things I have experienced and the people that I have encountered. My visit to the Holy Land was also spectacular, and its surpassing effects have stayed with me ever since. Ireland is similar in that I have never met anyone who said, “We just came back from Ireland and it was a very dull, uninspiring experience.” In some corners, Ireland itself is referred to as the Holy Land, but not in this blog! No, sir!

After my second year of major seminary I made a pilgrimage to Europe and the Holy Land. The academic year for my seminary concluded in early May and I was soon on a plane to Rome, my first stop. Shortly after I arrived, I experienced something that few people have even imagined: I saw three saints in one day.

It was a beautiful Wednesday in May, and in the morning, I took the Scavi Tour, which is an exploration of the ancient Roman graveyard that lies directly beneath Saint Peter’s Basilica. Around 60 years ago, the Church quietly began excavating these tombs and the network of cobblestone streets that connect them. Directly below the main altar of St. Peter’s, archaeologists discovered an ornate tomb with an inscription referring to Saint Peter. Today, pilgrims like me can see the bones of St. Peter enclosed in a glass case, in essentially the same spot in which he was entombed 2,000 years ago, now located some 60 feet directly below the main altar of the present St. Peter’s Basilica. Saint number one.

Later that afternoon, I had an audience with Pope Saint John Paul II. Well, there were about ten-thousand other people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the audience, but it was still called an audience! Saint number two.

After my audience with the Pope, I headed up to the North American College, which was still in session. Seminarian Tom Powers (now Monsignor Powers assigned to the Vatican) did something for me for which I will be forever grateful. He took me aside and quietly asked me, “Would you like to meet Mother Teresa?” We had to keep it fairly quiet because the whole seminary would probably want to meet her. Tom had some inside info, so I gladly accepted his invitation and traveled with a small group of seminarians to another part of the city where Mother Teresa’s order had a convent.

We had to wait quite some time, but that just made our anticipation build. Reportedly, she was meeting personally with the Pope (he probably penciled her in after my audience with him!). Finally, she arrived and she was very happy to see us. At the time she was about 87 years old, but she had amazing energy. One of her sisters got her a folding chair and we all sat on the floor around her. She spoke to us for about an hour and then she retrieved a handful of Miraculous Medals from somewhere within her garments. Each of us came up to her and she placed several Miraculous Medals in our hand.

When we were leaving, I retraced my steps so that I was the last one leaving and I held out my hand again. She acted like I must not have received any medals, so she gave me some more. What I really wanted to do was to make sure that I touched her hand as she placed the medals in my palm. After she gave me the medals, she looked directly into my eyes and said, “Remember me when you pour the drop of water into the chalice.”

This afternoon, I celebrated Mass in the Catholic Center chapel and I did remember her when I poured the water into the chalice. In fact, in my 15 years as a priest, I have remembered her at Mass many times. Technically, she has not yet been canonized, but at this point it is just a matter of time before she is proclaimed to be living with God in heaven.

When I returned to seminary after my summer pilgrimage, I discovered to my surprise that I was giving away the medals Mother gave me at a pretty fast pace. Usually, I would place one in a zip-lock baggy with a note explaining that the medal had been touched by Mother Teresa. After a few years, I was down to one remaining medal. Eventually, I gave it to someone whom I believed was in need of it more than me.

When Mother Teresa is proclaimed a saint, those Miraculous Medals will become second-class relics, meaning they were touched by the saint.

I don’t know why it was so easy for me to give those medals away. After all, I had rather selfishly made sure that I got more than any of the other seminarians. When it came time to give away the last one that I had in my possession, I had concluded that I had held them long enough and had benefited from them to the degree that God willed.

Perhaps it was easy to give away the relics because my hand did touch Mother Teresa’s hand, and she spoke to me personally and asked me to do something for her. Like a faithful friend, I will continue to remember Mother Teresa in my Masses, and I am confident that she is praying for me too.

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St. Mary Student to compete at U.S. Junior Olympics Track Finals
| July 30, 2014 • by by Sharon Palmer, Bethel News


HOUSTON—The heat index was 105 degrees at Turner Stadium in Houston, TX as athletes warmed up for their events at the US Junior Olympic Track Finals on Sunday, July 27. Angela Saidman, an 8th grade student at St. Mary School, competed against the top runners in the country in the 13-14 year old 1500M race.

She had already placed 1st in New England for the event, which qualified her for Sunday’s national competition. After a successful qualifying run in the semi-finals, she moved on to the Finals, where she finished 7th in the country.

Senior-Senior Prom shared dances & memories
| July 30, 2014


NORWALK—On June 27, Maplewood Senior Living at Strawberry Hill was alive with the sights and sounds of Prom Night. Music filled the atrium as the St. Philip Youth Group held a Senior-Senior Prom for the residents. The young men and women wore their prom dresses and suits, and pinned a corsage on each of the Seniors. The Seniors had looked forward to the event, having their hair and nails done during the week.

The younger generation showed the residents some typical dances and then took to the floor as sounds of the Big Bands, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como and more played on. Appetizers and drinks were enjoyed and a king and queen were crowned. There was even a portable photo booth where memories could be captured.
One of the most interesting parts of the event was when the students and the residents spent time one-on-one, sharing memories and stories of their own proms, graduations and high school experiences. The students were surprised to find out that this was actually the first prom for many of the residents, as World War II had disrupted their high school years. Many of the gentlemen had left school to enter the military, thus missing their own proms. Others remember their prom being cancelled because of all the tumult of the time. The afternoon was a wonderful and special time for both generations, and all are already talking about the next one!

Area Youth Travel to Youngstown Ohio to Serve Inner City Children
| July 28, 2014



ART CAMP HELPS BUILD THE CHURCH--Katie Arsenault, Haley Deorio, Tom Schneidermeyer, Kayla Burgos (all from St. John Parish in Darien) joined Carla Duran, Samuel Sanchez, Brenda Aguilar and Zulema Duran (All from St. Ignatius Loyola Parish, Hicksville, New York).

A group from two East Coast dioceses made the trip to the Project Grow Inner City Art Camp

CHICAGO—Youth from Darien, Conn., and Hicksville, N.Y., have just returned from a week long trip to Ohio where they helped serve disadvantaged children at the Project Grow Inner City Art Camp in Youngstown before moving on to a youth conference in Steubenville.

The trip was made possible by donors from Catholic Extension, a national nonprofit whose mission is to strengthen and build the Catholic faith in some of America’s poorest areas, many of which are located in mission dioceses like the Diocese of Youngstown.

A mission diocese is one in which the Catholic Church is emerging, and even thriving, but does not have the financial resources and infrastructure to be self-sustaining. Since its founding, Catholic Extension has distributed more than $500 million to poor Catholic dioceses throughout America.

The camp is in its fourth year and came about following a trip by members of the Diocese of Youngstown to New Orleans to help a local church recover from the effects of Hurricane Katrina. One of the first programs to come back there after the hurricane was an inner city art camp. Father Ed Brienz, Director, Propagation of the Faith and Missions Office for the Diocese of Youngstown, knew he wanted to bring the idea back home.

“Many of the inner city children in Youngstown are from poor families who are in need of a community and a place for their children to thrive,” said Brienz. “By providing this creative outlet of art and music, we can engage the children and their families while bringing them closer to Christ through the church.”
As the camp grew, volunteers were needed to act as “teachers’ helpers”.

The focus of the camp aligned perfectly with the Catholic Extension mission and the desire of a donor to send her daughter to a mission area of the country to do service. Another generous New York-based donor pitched in financially to help fund the trip and then the plans were set for a service/immersion trip.

Kathleen Gunn, Director of Development, Northeast Region for Catholic Extension, was able to work with youth leaders in the Bridgeport and Rockville Centre dioceses to form a group of 10 high school students and chaperons eager to answer the call for help.

“We were thrilled to be able to make this trip a reality and teach the kids about faith in action,” said Brenner LeCompte, youth minister at St. John Church in Darien, who served as a chaperone. “To see firsthand how helping others can build the American Catholic Church through serving others is something these kids will take with them forever.”

While Brenner LeCompte served as the adult Male Chaperone Adult, students on the mission trip included Tom Schneidermeyer; Katie Arsenault, Kayla Burgos, AND Haley Deorio, all of St. John Parish in Darien.

Brienz expressed his gratitude to the group by saying, “We are incredibly thankful to Catholic Extension and to the East Coast kids for their support and service and hope that the program continues to grow for years to come.”
One of the highlights of the Art Camp each year is the day the students make chalk drawings on the sweeping sidewalks in front of the St. Columba Cathedral. There, Bishop Murry, S.J. greets and encourages the students and their volunteer teachers.

The kids also enjoyed a field trip to the local art museum for inspiration. On another day, the group prepared and served a dinner for homeless people at the Dorothy Day House. Some of the high school helpers were from the neighboring communities of Salem and Ashtabula, and some of them spoke limited or no English. The students from Hicksville were able to translate for the Spanish-speaking kids, forming a bond between the students.

The trip for the high school students also incorporated the practice of faith with nightly spiritual reflection on the day and retreat experiences in addition to celebrating mass, Eucharistic adoration, prayer and songs.

About Catholic Extension: Catholic Extension uniquely contributes to the growth and vibrancy of the Catholic Church in the United States by strategically investing in poor mission dioceses. Based in Chicago, this national organization provides funding to dioceses and parishes to support programs and services that invest in people, their ministries and their churches. Since 1905, Catholic Extension has distributed more than $500 million to communities across America. For more information visit

St. Andrew Young Believers Youth Group July Mission Trip
| July 28, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Twenty teens and four adults from the St Andrew Young Believers Youth Group served at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission during July 13–July 21st. Susan Baldwin, Director of Faith Formation and Youth Ministry at St. Andrew Parish, says the kids did an awesome job, and the experience was humbling and life changing.

I don’t want to use that word as cliché. Truly the word has taken on new meaning. I thought I knew what it meant to be humble. I realized that I have just begun to learn the true meaning of humility.

Our day began with mass at St. Theresa’s parish in Tuckerton. We then trucked over to Atlantic City where we prepared food, servedfood, prepared food baskets, sorted clothes for men, women and children, shoes, blankets . We worked on the sustainable farm one day, pruning and weeding the plants that will be harvested for meals at the mission.

We worked side by side with clients of the center. We prayed with and for them. We heard their stories. We ate lunch and dinner with the clients .The depth of their circumstances is many, loss of homes from hurricane Sandy, loss of family, job loss, drug and alcohol recovery, mental illness, no education and some with college educations. There are so many displaced people it was a heart awakening experience. Poverty truly isn’t selective .

Jesus tells us specifically when he was teaching the beatitudes “seek peace with a true heart”. I pray that we were able to give some hope and peace to the people we encountered. I pray that our experience will not lose momentum and that we will stay strong in our commitment to love others and be missionaries wherever and whenever the Lord calls for us to do so."

Church Reform from Below: An Interview with Bishop Frank Caggiano
| July 27, 2014 • by by Sean Salai, S.J., America: The National Catholic Review


BRIDGEPORT—The Most Rev. Frank Caggiano is bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport. A Brooklyn native, he graduated from Regis High School in 1977 and attended Yale University briefly before deciding to study for the priesthood. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Cathedral College and an M.Div in theology from Immaculate Conception Seminary.

Ordained for the Diocese of Brooklyn in 1987, Bishop Caggiano served as a pastor and director of permanent diaconate formation before being named monsignor in 2003 and auxiliary bishop for the diocese in 2006. On September 19, 2013, he was installed as bishop of Bridgeport, where he has convoked a local synod to formulate a new pastoral plan for the future of his diocese. The synod begins its formal work this September and will conclude in September 2015.

On July 24, I interviewed Bishop Caggiano by telephone about the Bridgeport synod and its implications for church reform. The following transcript has been edited for content and length.

What inspired you to call for this synod, which is the first in the Bridgeport diocese in 32 years?

When I first came to the diocese, I felt I needed to spend a significant amount of time listening and learning. Because I have an active personality, it was a conscious decision on my part to be receptive. Soon after I began to visit the different parishes and schools, I realized there was a need to engage the laity in a very significant way—the lay leadership in particular, given the wonderful people we have in the diocese. Many are very professional, they’re very well educated, they want to learn about their faith and they want to take rightful leadership in the church. I thought to myself that the best vehicle we had to engage them in discerning what the challenges really are which exist in the diocese, and prioritizing what we have to address and how to address them, was to call a synod. I made that decision at the beginning of January and it really has been very well-received by the people of the diocese.

How is the Bridgeport diocese a microcosm of the larger church?

Part of this learning process I’ve gone through over these past 10 months as bishop has been coming to recognize the great richness, diversity and variety of the diocese—which, to be honest, I was not aware of as a New Yorker looking at Fairfield County with the stereotype that it is a monolith. It really is not. In many senses, it really is a microcosm of the church. For example, 18 percent of the population of Fairfield County is Hispanic. We have tremendous diversity economically from areas of significant affluence—like Darien, Westport and Greenwich— to places of economic challenge like Danbury and sections of Norwalk, to sections of real economic hardship like Bridgeport. We also have a tremendous ethnic diversity. We have a very large Vietnamese, Brazilian and Haitian population in addition to the Hispanics. So in many ways, Fairfield County is very reflective I think of the American church, and the church of its larger metropolitan areas.

What are the most vibrant areas of Catholic life in your diocese?

There are a number. I am very impressed, for example, with Catholic education and its mission. We have 35 Catholic schools and 18 of them are blue ribbon presidential schools. So we provide an excellent, superior, I think unmatched education in the county that’s also very Catholic. The Catholic identity is extremely strong and my hope is to strengthen it even more. That’s one area that’s vibrant. I think Catholic Charities does a phenomenal job of reaching out to the poor, the disabled, the immigrants. Recently, I myself was surprised to learn that Catholic Charities is the largest provider of social services in Connecticut outside of the state government itself. They do tremendous, effective and I think indispensable outreach to the needy.

Other areas? I mean, our parishes are very different, but overall I’ve been very impressed. There is overall a great attention to liturgy in many of them, an interest in justice and charity. Our priests, by and large, are very dedicated to their work. I think the synod is going to pay special attention to how we can help them, particularly pastors, reimagine their work given the administrative burden they carry. We’re blessed with a great college seminary, St. John Fisher, that has celebrated its 25th anniversary. About 80 of our priests have come out of that program and now serve in the diocese. So there are many aspects that are vibrant. There are also challenges that we face.

What are the biggest challenges right now?

First and foremost, there’s a tremendous need for evangelical outreach. We have perhaps 20-25 percent of our Catholics attending Mass on Sunday, maybe closer to 20 percent, which means four out of every five Catholics are not worshipping regularly. I think that’s the single greatest challenge. That challenge highlights other challenges. For example, those Catholics who no longer feel they are welcomed, those who are disaffected because of the state of life they live—perhaps they’re divorced, perhaps they’re divorced and remarried. Perhaps some disagree with the teachings of the church in social areas or moral areas. But we have too many Catholics not involved in the life of the church. The same is true with the young. The young people I’ve dealt with, and I’ve dealt with hundreds of them in these listening sessions for the synod, are tremendous. But for every one that’s involved in the church, there are perhaps eight or nine who are not involved. What came across clearly in the seven listening sessions—almost 2,000 people made interventions—is that the single greatest challenge that everyone agreed on is this need for outreach to Catholics, to welcome them back to the church, both the young and everyone else.

In dealing with these sorts of pastoral challenges, Pope Francis has encouraged bishops to formulate creative solutions at the local level. Why should church reform start at the bottom rather than at the top?

Two basic reasons. First, all religion and all politics is local. And if that motto is true, then the church has been and always will be most alive at the parish and school level. The diocese is at its best when it’s at service to the parishes and schools and is almost invisible in the life of the church. The more locally we engage discussion, the more creative it is, the more receptive it is, and the more reactive it can be to the real problems. So that’s number one. The second thing is “many hands make light work.” My experience has been—both in Brooklyn and now certainly in Bridgeport—that most people are eager to be of help. But they need to be part of the solution-making process. They need to be asked their thoughts and input and then encouraged to become involved. People don’t just want their opinions asked; they also want to have some possibility of formulating what the program and the response is going to be. So on both levels, I think the Holy Father is absolutely on target, and at times we have not done such a great job of engaging lay leaders in creative and constructive ways. The synod is really meant to be the catalyst to do that.

Part of your synod’s work will involve lay participants attending learning sessions at Fordham University, discussing best practices from other places in the church. What does this sort of discussion contribute to the life of the U.S. church?

There are many benefits. But speaking about the delegates themselves, I’m hoping that—in exchange for all of their hard work, and their time, and their generous commitment to the process that is very significant—they will come out spiritually blessed and enriched. And both personally and theologically, more attuned and educated so that they are ready to do whatever God asks them to do. I want the delegates to be able to come out as more engaged, more knowledgeable, more on fire in faith. I want it to be a personal journey as well as an ecclesial journey. That’s why I asked for the formation sessions, and from what I can gather, the initial reports are that people are very enthusiastic about them precisely because they are coming away with material for them to reflect on personally in their own prayer life apart from what the synod is going to do. You cannot give what you do not have; you cannot give he who you do not know. I’ve mentioned that in my talks many times, and for many of these delegates, the synod is an opportunity for them to grow in faith personally. That is beyond price when it comes to the value to a parish, a school or a diocese. I mean, the Lord picked 12, and after the coming of the Holy Spirit 11 of them converted the world. Can you imagine, if we had 50,000 people, what they would do?

The local churches in Miami and Juneau completed synods last year. Do you think more U.S. bishops should hold local synods?

Two other dioceses have already contacted our office inquiring about the process we’re going to use. I think there is more interest now among bishops to have synods. To be honest, I think there is precious little to lose and far too much to gain when a bishop discerns whether or not to have a synod. I would encourage every diocese to have one because we all face challenges. Some are unique to our areas and some are universal to the church. But to engage all leadership—not just lay leadership but priests, deacons and consecrated men and women—and bring them to a forum where we can really begin to discuss issues in a very frank and transparent way can only strengthen the church.

So I would encourage all bishops to have one. If you were to ask me “what are some concerns bishops may have in calling a synod,” it’s true that I’ve had a number of people say to me: “Well, how do you control the synod?” And my response is it’s not for me to control. There is nothing to be afraid of when people speak their minds honestly and respectfully because the truth is the truth. The truth prevails regardless of circumstance, person, participants or venue. I firmly believe that with all my heart. When we allow people to speak their minds, then that process itself is healing. People sometimes just want to be heard even when they know that what they’re asking cannot be. But that’s a service to that person and to the church if we allow that venue to happen. Growing up in an Italian house, which was for lack of a better word quite a lively experience, I don’t have any fear of the synod being a place where people speak frankly. I encourage it. Even when people disagree, I encourage that too if it’s on people’s minds, provided they do it respectfully.

Reports from the pre-synod listening sessions you held in the spring indicated a wide variety of perspectives, with some people wanting a stronger devotional life and others voicing more progressive concerns. As a bishop, how do you balance people’s pastoral needs in a way that makes everyone feel cared for?

This is at the heart of what a synod is and I think it’s going to be very hard for most people, and at times even myself, to understand that a synod is more a process of discernment than it is of deliberation. And that is where, as Americans, we might be a bit behind the eight ball, because we tend to understand gatherings of individuals assembled to address problems as a deliberative action. That is, we identify what the problem is and we make a decision to address it. That is not what a synod is, though. A synod is a discerning process in which, once the issue has been clarified, we need to sit and listen to the voices who can inform us of what the program or solution needs to be. And I think that’s part of that formational process. We need to suspend our initial reaction that “we’re going to solve this problem by doing X” and take a step back and deliberate—to allow a discernment to occur, to allow the Holy Spirit to enlighten us about what God is asking us to do. Because it’s not our church, it’s his church first and foremost.

So that’s where I think the challenge is. Now the second piece of the question is “to whom do we listen?” That is where the rubber hits the road. There’s a bias in contemporary society that the only voices we here are the ones who speak to us here and now. You know, I call it the “blog phenomenon.” But in fact, the voices we listen to are the voices of the tradition, starting with the apostles and working our way up to you and me. And that’s where the discernment comes in. And that’s why the synodal process is personally enriching, but it’s also a heck of a lot of work to get all the voices in the mix. It’s the magisterium, it’s sacred scripture, it’s the tradition and all the great teachers from the Fathers of the Church onward who are able to inform us of what the Holy Spirit might be asking us to do. Because the bottom line is this: There is precious little that is new under the sun. We as contemporaries think all of our problems are new, and that we have to come up with new ideas, and new programs, and that’s baloney. There is very little that’s new after 2,000 years that the church has not struggled with in other ages. So why reinvent the wheel? Why not go back to those times and have those voices inform us? I’m not sure, but for the synodal delegates, I think that will be the hardest piece of this process.

As you’ve mentioned, one of the themes for your synod is building bridges to those who have left the church. Do you have any initial thoughts on how to move forward with that issue?

Yeah, I have just one, and it’s a foundational principle that has come to the fore in my own reflection and prayer over the last six or seven years—and it is a radical change from what I used to think. I say “radical” because it really reworks a lot of what I used to consider the hallmarks of success. It’s this: Up to recently, the church has usually turned to creating a pastoral program when facing a pastoral challenge, to address that challenge. Now that will always have a place in the life of the church. But I think the genius of Pope Francis is that he has expressed words of what I was intuiting, when he speaks about missionary discipleship, that we need to reach out one person at a time. That has phenomenal implications for the life of the church. If the methodology is “one person at a time,” then each and every baptized person is called to get involved. That’s the only way we’re going to do it. It also implies that we’re going to have to invest time to sit and listen to the people who we wish to invite back, to allow them to tell us their story, for healing whatever needs to be healed. And it implies that success has to be measured by sowing seeds, even when you don’t see the seed grow initially, because the person who comes after you sees the seed blossom. It demands a spirituality, it demands a discipline in prayer and it demands a pastoral faith reflection which will for many people be a brand new experience. That’s my initial insight going into the synod. It could be leaven for tremendous renewal of people’s lives because there are no more spectators at the synod.

In the minds of many people, Pope Francis has issued his own pastoral game plan for the universal church in his apostolic exhortation "Evangelii Gaudium." Do you see any particular areas of congruence between what the pope’s doing and what you’re doing in Bridgeport?

It’s this intuition I just mentioned that I’d like to bring to the synod as one of the foundational principles for everything we’re going to do, because I think that’s ultimately what the pope is challenging us to do. The only additional reflection the pope is offering is to emphasize what allowed the primitive church, in our initial history, to grow in such an unparalleled way. Why was there such unparalleled growth? It was missionary growth, one person at a time, and the charism of the early church was joy. As the pope is saying, joy is infectious. I mean, the early Christians went to their crucifixion singing the psalms, expressing a deep-seated joy. The Romans probably looked at them and said “what is the matter with these people? They are going to get crucified, so what is it that they have and we don’t have?” Of course, it’s not a “what” but a “who.” Again, the pope has hit the nail right on the mark, it’s the joy. But joy is not a program. The synod’s not going to say, “O.K. we’re going to be joyful.” It will be the fruit of the work of the synod, if we do it well. In my dealings with young people, if there’s anything in the faith that resonates in the hearts of young people, it’s when they encounter real joy. Then they are hooked, because there’s precious little joy in the secular society of their ordinary experience. There’s plenty of happiness in the “pursuit of happiness,” but there’s precious little joy. Joy is the only other element I hope we’ll bring out of our synodal process.

In terms of reform or renewal, what do you believe the Catholic Church needs most right now?

We need to force the dialogue on every level. That ultimately is the key to discern we need to do going forward into the future. Now most people would suggest that there ecclesiastical structures that have to be changed, that disciplines have to be changed, but in my estimation it is a posture that’s more important than those sorts of changes. It’s a change of attitude towards listening and dialoguing. Too many people feel isolated and alone and unwelcomed, even within the church. And even among clergy and religious, many of them feel their superiors are not really listening to their concerns. So that would be my greatest suggestion, whether it’s really reform or just renewal, that everyone adopt more of a stance of dialogue and listening with the heart. I think that would bring the church a long way towards the renewal that we want.

What are your hopes for the future?

My hopes for the future, at least for the Diocese of Bridgeport, is that in a few years all of our parishes and schools will be growing, our vocations will be on the rise, we will have an army of lay leaders engaged in the life of the church in every aspect and at every level of our diocese. If we could realize that, I would be absolutely delighted, and that’s my hope.

Any final thoughts?

It’s a lot of work, but I find it very gratifying to be part of this process in Bridgeport, and I owe it really to the work of the Spirit. If you had asked me when I was named the bishop last September if we’d be going through this process, I would not have believed it myself, and yet we’re in it. I’m grateful that we’re in it and I don’t believe it’s my doing. I believe it’s the work of the Holy Spirit that’s moving all of us that way. So my last thought is that I’m grateful to the Lord and I’m looking forward to some great things happening.

Sean Salai, S.J., is a summer editorial intern at America.

Archbishop Chaput says pope will visit Philadelphia in September 2015
| July 25, 2014 • by By Nancy Wiechec, Catholic News Service


FARGO—Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said Pope Francis has accepted his invitation to attend the World Meeting of Families in the U.S. next year, even though the Philadelphia Archdiocese still has not received official confirmation from the Vatican.

Archbishop Chaput made the announcement July 24 before giving his homily during the opening Mass of the Tekakwitha Conference in Fargo.

"Pope Francis has told me that he is coming," said the archbishop as he invited his fellow Native Americans to the 2015 celebration being held in Philadelphia Sept. 22-27.

"The pope will be with us the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of that week," he said.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said July 25 Pope Francis has expressed "his willingness to participate in the World Meeting of Families" in Philadelphia, and has received invitations to visit other cities as well, which he is considering. Those invitations include New York, the United Nations and Washington.

"There has been no official confirmation by the Vatican or the Holy See of Pope Francis' attendance at the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia," the archdiocese said in a statement. "We still expect that any official confirmation will come approximately six months prior to the event."

It said Archbishop Chaput "has frequently shared his confidence in Pope Francis' attendance at the World Meeting and his personal conversations with the Holy Father are the foundation for that confidence."

"We are further heartened and excited" by Father Lombardi's comments, it added. "While Archbishop Chaput's comments do not serve as official confirmation, they do serve to bolster our sincere hope that Philadelphia will welcome Pope Francis next September."

Some Mexican media have cited government officials saying a September trip to North America also could include stops in Mexico, but Father Lombardi said that at this moment "nothing operational has begun relative to a plan or program for a visit to the United States or Mexico. Keep in mind, there is still more than a year to go before the meeting in Philadelphia."

Church Response to Refugees Is Part of the Pro-Life Call, Bishop Says
| July 24, 2014 • by By Katy Senour, CNA/EWTN News From The National Catholic Register


PITTSBURGH—Answering the needs of refugee migrants is one component of a truly pro-life view, said a U.S. bishop, announcing a new initiative to aid children who have fled Central America for the United States.

“The Catholic Church responds to humanitarian crises here at home and all across the world because we are pro-life,” said Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh. “Being pro-life requires we protect and care for vulnerable persons from conception to natural death,” he emphasized in a July 19 statement.

The bishop announced that Holy Family Institute, a ministry of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, in Emsworth, Pa., will be offering aid to young children fleeing Central America.

He explained that the diocese respects the law and right of nations to have secure borders and recognizes that “the root causes of why people are fleeing their homelands must be addressed by the international community.”

However, he said, the Church’s pro-life stance has implications for how the faithful are called to respond to the needy children in front of them.

“Whether they are traveling because of poverty, or violence, or with the hope of reuniting with relatives on the other side of the border, followers of Jesus are called to protect these children and help them because they are very vulnerable and defenseless against any abuse or misfortune,” Bishop Zubik said.

“You probably recall that Holy Family Institute performed a similar ministry for many Haitian children after the devastating earthquake in that country. This is exactly the same kind of humanitarian response.”

The bishop’s comments come amid heated public debate surrounding the treatment of unaccompanied child migrants to the U.S., whose numbers have doubled in the past year. Public officials disagree on how to respond to the children, many of whom are fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Sister Linda Yankoski, a member of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, heads the Holy Family Institute. She explained to CNA that aiding the migrant children fits in with the sisters’ mission of charity and justice.

“We have agreed to take in the most vulnerable, the very young children under the age of 12 who make up about 20 percent of the migrating children,” she explained. “Many of these children are fleeing violent situations and have endured a long and dangerous journey.”

The children will be provided with temporary food, clothing, housing, counseling, and recreation, Sister Linda said. Eventually, they will be placed in the homes of relatives or sponsors throughout the country.

This aid will be provided for about 30 days, until the children receive a hearing date which will determine if they fit the criteria of refugees fleeing grave danger. In light of the “humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied children arriving at the U.S.-Mexican border,” Holy Family Institute seeks to offer a response of “respect, care and compassion,” Sister Linda said.

“It is a painful reality that poverty, greed, and selfishness often lead to injustices in the world that cause some to turn to isolationism,” she said. “Holy Family Institute hopes to humbly be among those looking for ways to build up the kingdom of God on earth.”

Catholic Charities continues to reach out to Super Storm Sandy Victims
| July 23, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Watch this video of how Catholic Charities continues to spearhead the relief effort for those affected by Super Storm Sandy.

For more information about Catholic Charities' Sandy Disaster Relief Services, please click here

Spirit moves Diocesan youth!
| July 22, 2014


RHODE ISLAND—Over the weekend, more than 400 youth from 14 parishes across the Diocese attended Steubenville East, the summer youth conference sponsored by the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio.

In the photos, young people from St. Joseph Parish of Brookfield, St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown and St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Fairfield experience faith, fun and fellowship at the University of Rhode Island Campus, where Steubenville East was held.

"Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the Lord God is my strength and song.” Isaiah 12:2 was the theme of this summer’s conference.

As a Eucharist-centered movement within the Roman Catholic Church, Life Teen leads teenagers and their families into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. With the Blessed Virgin Mary as our intercessor and guide, Life Teen seeks to unleash the fullness of the Sacramental power present within the young Church.

This summer, more than 40,000 teens will participate in 18 different youth conferences across North America, discovering the richness of the Catholic Church and encountering the truth of Jesus Christ in Word and Sacrament.

Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio is a vibrant Catholic college rooted in the Franciscan tradition and dedicated to proclaiming Jesus Christ as "the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

Franciscan University hosted its first Steubenville Youth Conference in 1976, when 1,000 youth and young adults gathered on our campus in Steubenville, Ohio, for a weekend of prayer, praise, and reflection.

Dribble Drive Basketball Camp inspires achievement
| July 18, 2014


SHELTON—Energy and inspiration filled the gym at St. Lawrence Parish for two weeks in July.

More than 50 young athletes from the parish and surrounding communities the two-week Dribble Drive Basketball Camp run at St. Lawrence by former NCAA Division 1 referee and player Dennis Kelly and former NBA player Wes Matthews, Sr.

Dribble Drive Basketball camps, clinics, and workouts sessions are held throughout Connecticut for boys and girls ages 12 to 18, providing basketball training for beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. The camps are dedicated to providing "inspired achievement" in its players. They are  designed to cultivate a high basketball IQ, skill development based on individual ability and competitiveness developed through demanding and entertaining games and contests.

(For more information about Dribble Drive Basketball player development sessions and camps check the web site: or call Dennis Kelly: 203.926.1365.)

They’ll be missed
| July 18, 2014


TRUMBULL—The following seniors attended the annual welcoming and send off ceremony for the High School Apostle's program.

Each year the celebration welcomes the new High School Apostles as well as sends off all those seniors who will be missed greatly!

Click here to view photos from the event.

Pope urges Israeli, Palestinian leaders to end Holy Land hostilities
| July 18, 2014 • by By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Expressing his serious concerns over the escalating violence in the Holy Land, Pope Francis telephoned Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, urging all sides to end hostilities and build peace.

The morning after Israel launched a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, the pope personally telephoned the two leaders July 18 to express "his very serious concerns about the current situation of conflict."

Phoning Peres at 10 in the morning and Abbas at 11:30 Rome time, the pope told the leaders that the conflict was creating "numerous victims and was giving way to a state of serious humanitarian emergency," the Vatican said in a written communique July 18.

The pope told the two presidents, whom the pope "considers to be men of peace and who want peace," that constant prayer was needed.

He also urged them to "work hard at making sure all interested parties and those who have political responsibilities on the local and international levels dedicate themselves to bring an end to all hostilities, striving to foster a truce, peace and a reconciliation of hearts," the Vatican said.

The pope assured the two leaders of his "constant prayers" as well as the prayers of the whole church "for peace in the Holy Land."

Meanwhile, the pope also assured the parish priest of the Holy Family Church, the only Catholic parish in Gaza, of his prayers.

One of the pope's secretaries sent an email around 7 p.m. July 17 to Father Jorge Hernandez, an Argentine priest of the Institute of the Incarnate Word.

According to the Vatican, the brief message said, "I accompany you all with my prayers. May the Holy Virgin keep watch over you."

Holy Family Parish had been holding eucharistic adoration and celebrated a special Mass "to implore forgiveness, justice and peace for all," according to Vatican Radio.

The priest has opened the parish school to "numerous families" who fled their homes in bombed neighborhoods, according to Fides, the Vatican's missionary news service. The families "didn't sleep a wink all night because of the bombing," a Brazilian nun, identified only as Sister Laudis, told Fides.

"The houses were shaking, the children were crying," said the nun who said she had spoken with Father Hernandez after leaving Gaza July 17 for Beit Jalla, a village near Bethlehem.

St. A's teens help at Missionaries of Charity Day Camp
| July 18, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Teens from St. Aloysius Parish youth group in New Canaan have found an awesome way to enrich their summer vacation.

They worked and played with the youngsters in the Missionaries of Charity Day Camp, helping the children learn about the Ten Commandments and the two greatest commandments.

As Mother Teresa said “Wherever God has put you, that is your vocation. It is not what we do, but how much love we put into it.”

“I can attest there was much love put into these days,” says Chris Otis, St. Anoysius’ youth minister. “If anyone wants to go help there, let me know. The Sisters would love to have more teens there over the next few weeks.”

(To join the teens from St. Aloysius, contact Chris Otis at 203.652.1154 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

Click here to view more photos.

Unaccompanied migrant children need our help
| July 17, 2014 • by By Tony Magliano


Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano

Tens of thousands of children fleeing desperate conditions have entered the United States asking for help. And many more are coming. What kind of welcome is being offered to them? The answer to that question is still largely undetermined.    

According to Human Rights Watch the US government predicts that 90,000 unaccompanied migrant children will cross the US-Mexico border in fiscal year 2014, more than 10 times the number who crossed in 2011. And thousands of other children have crossed with a parent, also an increase from previous years.  
Reportedly, more than 90 percent of these children are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where pervasive drug/gang violence and poverty have made their lives dangerous and miserable.
It is said that drugs go north and guns and money go south. Therefore, it is essential in the U.S. that adequate treatment for addiction replace jail time for non-violent drug users, that all loopholes in gun export laws be closed, that serious gun-control laws – such as a total ban on all assault weapons – be passed, and that greatly increased U.S. aid to these Central American nations for schools, job creation through clean industry and agricultural development, infrastructure and fair trade practices become realities.
Injustices resulting from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) are contributing factors towards the flow of unaccompanied migrant children.

According to Barbara Briggs, associate director of the Institute for Global Labor and Human Rights (, these “free trade” agreements in many cases greatly boost American corporate profits, while undercutting poor workers, domestic industries, and agriculture south of the U.S. border.

Under NAFTA and CAFTA U.S. companies are often building factories where they are permitted to pay the cheapest wages and lowest benefits to poor workers. These U.S. corporate injustices are in many cases contributing factors driving Latin Americans – adults and children – to seek fairer working and living conditions in the U.S., said Briggs.

The “Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act” would greatly correct many American corporate injustices abroad. Please ask you congressional delegation to reintroduce this legislation.

While addressing the root-causes of unaccompanied migrant children is essential, we need to also kindly address the immediate needs of these young brothers and sisters.

Instead of viewing these children as criminals who are illegally entering the U.S., a totally humanitarian Christ-like response is needed.

A coalition of immigration and faith-based organizations – including the Catholic Legal Immigration Network and Catholic Charities – sponsored by Human Rights First recently sent President Barack Obama a letter opposing plans to expedite deportation of migrant children.

They wrote, “The administration’s recent statements have placed far greater emphasis on deterrence of migration than on the importance of protection of children seeking safety.”

Please urge President Obama and your congressional delegation to insure that these children get all the help they need.

And sign up to receive legislative alerts from the bishops’ campaign for immigrants by going to  .;

Responding to unaccompanied migrant children seeking asylum in the U.S. Pope Francis recently wrote, “This humanitarian emergency requires … these children be welcomed and protected,” and that policies be adopted to “promote development in their countries of origin. …
“A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed … moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world.”

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

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna

Saint Michael Prayer with pro-life addition:
| July 15, 2014



Dear St. Michael the Archangel
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against
the wickedness and snares
of the devil.
May God rebuke him,
we humbly pray,
and do thou, Oh Prince
of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
cast into hell Satan
and his legion of devils
and demons, who prowl
throughout the world
seeking the ruin of souls
and the deaths of babies
in the womb.

For many years now, I have prayed the Saint Michael prayer with the pro-life addition at the end. For a long time, I have wondered how I might promulgate it, and now I have the opportunity! If you like the pro-life addition, please copy this prayer and print it or email it to others. You can also share the link to this blog with others ( To contact me with your thoughts or questions, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Weird animals speak of God’s love
| July 15, 2014


NORWALK—Like brilliant summer flowers, Vacation Bible Schools are springing up in parishes during the summer months. They carry a lively message of faith through song, skits, activities, laughter and friendship.

“Welcome to Weird Animals,” the VBS at St. Matthew Parish in Norwalk, helps kids see that “Jesus’ Love is one of a Kind.”

Click here to see a slideshow.

Even if you think you’re like Shred the Tenrec, a pointy-quilled bug eater (yes, there is such an animal), Jesus will find a way to hug you—quills and all.

During the week at St. Matthew’s, a set of extremely weird animals like Shred become Bible Buddies, teaching kids that: even though you’re left out, even though you’re different, even though you’re naughty, even though you don’t understand, Jesus says “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20).

The lesson for the day is introduced during morning prayer with Msgr. Walther Orlowski, St. Matthew’s pastor, and brought home through a variety of activities. Campers from about three and a half years old through fifth grade enjoy the activities, guided by counselors in training from sixth grade up, Confirmation candidates, teens and young adults home from college. There are almost as many volunteers as campers, and they have every bit as much fun.

“Jesus will love you no matter what you do,” says fourth-grader Catie Gutowski, describing the purpose of the “Untamed Games.” At one game, the kids had a large bucket of water at one end of the lawn and an equally large, empty bucket at the other. “We had different tools—a sponge, cups, spoons, a beanbag,” Catie explains. “It doesn’t matter what tool you use. All that matters is that you do the best you can with the tools you have.”

In the end, she points out, “Working together, you can fill a whole bucket.”

Other stations throughout the morning include Bible skits, KidVid Cinema time with the day’s weird Bible Buddy, and project time where the kids make bright happy turtles for homebound parishioners and cross necklaces for children in Haiti. A box in the “Jungle,” the imaginatively decorated parish great room, invites donations for the parish’s food pantry.

“We always incorporate social outreach into our themes,” says Joanne Obst, co-coordinator of the VBS along with Janet Mitchell and Concetta Maffei.

In the fascinating Imagination Station, strange scientific objects invite puzzled amazement while opening up a new window on the day’s theme. After a morning spent following the misbehavior of Shred, kids in the Imagination Station try spinning an odd, roughly banana-shaped, piece of plastic. Even when it is spun in the wrong direction, the object will eventually stop, hesitate, and spin properly.

“No matter how much you sin, Jesus can always help you turn out right,” says volunteer and Imagination Coordinator Albert Agular, a junior at Quinnipiac College.

After a morning following the behavior of the naughty Shred, kids take time to think about their own sins and shortcomings and write them on pieces of paper. They stuff their sins (it’s amazing how many these young kids can come up with) into garbage bags and tie them to a cross. At the end of the session, a young volunteer dressed as Jesus carries away the loaded cross. The kids see firsthand that, no matter what they do, Jesus will always take away their sins—but only by bearing the weight of his cross.

“This way, and through the skits, they see the Bible come to life. That’s so important,” says Janet Mitchell. “It stays with them forever.

Catholic Heart Work Camp 2014: A Beautiful Mess
| July 15, 2014 • by by Kelly Walsh


FAIRFIELD—The St. Pius X/St. Thomas Aquinas Youth Groups recently returned from an amazing week at Catholic Heart Work Camp!

It was a blessing to be able to combine with our friends from St. Thomas as we went on a mission trip to the Boston area.

The theme of this year’s Catholic Heart Work Camp was “A Beautiful Mess,” and it was an opportunity to help impoverished families with cleanups, painting and other projects from June 29 to July 4.    

The idea behind the theme is that our world is full of so much pain and injustice, yet also beauty and goodness. Together, we can bring beauty to bad situations through small acts of service.

Blessed Mother Teresa said, “Do small things with great love,” a quote that our Youth Group took to heart as we went on this trip. Through our various acts of service such as painting houses, preparing meals at a soup kitchen, or helping at a Vacation Bible School, we were able to put our faith into action. More importantly, we began to make a beautiful mess in the Boston community as people were pleasantly surprised by the faith and service of young people.

My best experience from the trip was combining with the St. Thomas Youth Group and growing closer to all members of St. Pius X, St. Thomas, and our amazing chaperones! It was great to strengthen these friendships and know that we have people to help us continue our faith and service at home!

It was truly a remarkable trip where we were able to grow in our relationships with each other, with teenagers from other parishes, and with our residents. I also grew in my relationship with God and witnessed other members of our Youth Group truly encounter Christ through Adoration, daily Mass, and confession.

Although we all are sinners with our own “messes,” the theme of CHWC reassured us that we can bring our imperfections to God, and allow him to use us to make a beautiful mess in our everyday lives.

What was your best experience from this trip and why? What did you get out of it or learn? Read the comments of Fairfield youth who participated in the Work Camp:

“My best experience was getting to work with all the little kids in the daycare and becoming so close with my Youth Group.  I learned how lucky I am to have such close Youth Group friends that I can go to for anything.” - Jenny Schneider

“The best experience I had during the trip was Adoration. It was such a calming and reassuring experience and reminded me that God is always with us.”- Annie Silk

“My favorite part was building closer, stronger relationships with so many people through serving our residents and through Christ.” - Thomas Smalley

“Among the many memorable experiences, I believe the most significant moments of the trip were centered around the time spent with my residents, Min and Khoi Dwang. These two amazing individuals were by far the most grateful, caring, and faithful people I have come across thus far in my life. By simply working side by side with them and enjoying a peaceful lunch break, their mere presence inspired me to grow in faith.” - Thomas O’Brien

“My best experience from this trip was Adoration. I have been to Adoration many times and it has never been the way it was on this trip. I felt God’s presence with me for the entire time. There was music, many true Catholics surrounding me, and most importantly the presence of God. This truly helped me pray and thank God for everything He has done for me.”

“Over the course of this week, I learned many life lessons. The most important lesson I learned is that external beauty is not as important as knowing that God's internal beauty is always present with you. One of my residents was blind and was unable to see all the work we had done for her. This woman said, "Even though I am blind and unable to see the garden you made for me, the most important thing is that I know God and your beauty are with me.” - Jen O'Neil

“My best experience was being able to bond with my group members and Youth Group as we all grew closer to God throughout the week. I learned that seeing isn't always believing and to truly feel God’s presence you have to trust Him in your heart.” - Meagan Goddard

“My best experience from this mission trip was helping the elders at their picnic. I loved hearing all their stories about what they did when they were younger. I learned that some people just want someone to listen to them and they want to be heard.”  - Caroline Grosso

“The best experience from my trip was Four Corners. I think it brought our entire Youth Group closer together. It also helped me to learn how forgiving and healing God can be when all you have to do is let Him in.” - Colleen McGuiness

“My team and I got really close in a matter of four days. I felt like I had known them for four years. You look at our faith in a different light and see God in new ways. When we had Adoration the environment was a grass field and a guitar in the background.” - Catherine Regan


Click here to view a slideshow.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano’s homily at Solemn Vespers for the success of the Fourth Diocesan Synod
| July 15, 2014


June 29, 2014: the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul at  St. Augustine Cathedral, Bridgeport

My sisters and brothers in the Lord, each was a formidable figure; perhaps a towering figure. Each was unique in his own gifts, talents, faults and failures, and yet each was chosen by the Lord for a particular task, to bring forth the work of the Gospel and to help found the Church of which you and I are now members.

First there was the fisherman … in whose roughness the Lord discerned a great love; a man who – when fully converted – could be trusted to the end. To him were given the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, and to him was given the task to be the leader of the Apostles, and a symbol and sign of unity for all believers.

His counterpart was as different from him as night is from day; a well-educated, eloquent Rabbi who was convicted with all of his heart and soul in the covenant given to Moses; a man whom we know from Sacred Scripture devoted his life—at least after the rising of the Lord—to stamp out what he saw as heresy and an abomination of that which his ancestors had passed on to him. He became the apostle to the Gentiles and a fearless disciple of Christ.

My friends, as we gather this evening on the Solemnity of Peter and Paul—the two great Princes of the Church—we are invited to reflect upon a very basic question (each of these saints has more than one feast day on the Church’s annual calendar; each is honored with dignity and respect): why is it then that on this day, the Church asks us to honor them, to ask for their intercession and to be inspired by their examples, side by side? It seems to me—as Mom used to say—the more things change the more they stay the same. Because my friends, these two remarkably different men were literally placed side by side, because the Lord asked them to do in their age what the Lord is asking us to do in our own time. For they were asked to listen carefully to one another and to listen carefully to the discernment of the Holy Spirit that was and is alive in both of their hearts. They were challenged to overcome not only the natural differences that existed between them, but even one could say the theological differences that existed between them as they struggled in the Council of Jerusalem to discern whether the Mosaic Law needed to be applied to the converts to the Faith.

Because they listened carefully; prayed deeply; discerned wholeheartedly; and were open to the power of the Holy Spirit, they were able to build a bridge between the two of them in Christ; a bridge that was not made by their hands or efforts, but a bridge that was constructed by the very life and grace of the Risen Spirit. And because they were servants to the Truth, and servants to the Lord, and not servants to themselves, we honor them as the greatest of the Apostles, and the foundation upon which you and I and generations before us and generations to come will stand on their mighty shoulders. And as they did, you and I must do.

That is why we are here tonight. For we have begun, my friends, an extraordinary journey of faith: listening; prayer; and discernment. I have had the privilege to sit at seven different listening sessions, but my friends, the listening is not over: it is only beginning. I have the privilege to join you and lead you on this extraordinary synodal journey, so that you and I together could listen carefully to each other; begin this great discernment with the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit who is alive in every single one of us; to be able to build more mighty and formidable bridges between ourselves and those we long to join us in worship and prayer, so we might live the Apostolic spirit of Peter and Paul, and we might, in our own age and time, as they did, rise to the challenges before us.

My friends, I am grateful for your honesty. I am grateful for your great love for one another and the Church. I am grateful for your willingness to walk this journey, and I ask that in the months ahead, as the synod unfolds, that you and I together, as sisters and brothers, will have the same humility that Peter and Paul had, and the same commitment to Christ, so we will work not for “my agenda” or “your agenda,” but with humility witness to the Truth who is Jesus Christ the Lord, present in the credible witness of the Church which is here in our midst. For the challenges are many…but every single one of those challenges is an opportunity for growth; it’s an opportunity for conversion; it’s an opportunity for you and I to allow the Holy Spirit to change the face of our diocese, and the face of the world.

I have prayed long and hard over what I have heard, and after much reflection, I am going to ask the synodal delegates to devote themselves to four over-arching themes. A principal goal is to design a pastoral plan that will allow us to strengthen the bridges of faith and charity that exist at the heart of the Catholic community.

The first theme is this: I will ask the synodal delegates to devote their time and study to help empower the young Church. And I use that word “empower” deliberately. For you and I have heard that our young people—who are not just the future of our Church, for they are present in our Church, here and now—that they are eager to take up the challenges of our time and to make a positive difference in the Church and in our world. We saw that they remain idealistic and generous and open to listening to the Truth. They desire to have a challenge in which they can believe and devote themselves to, and give their all in response.

To empower the young Church, my friends, means to give young people the faith in ways that they can understand; to allow catechesis to evolve so that they can hear and act on the salvific message that comes through Jesus Christ. It means to give them an opportunity to discover their gifts and talents and give them the venues by which they can use those gifts and talents not for themselves but for others. It also means, my friends, that we as a community must re-dedicate ourselves to the basic, core commitment that we have made to keep all our young people safe, so that they may grow in holiness, wisdom, and faith.

Young people told us in those listening sessions that too many of their friends do not believe what they believe. Too many do not share their conviction and desire to be members of our community of faith. So I will ask the synodal delegates to dig deep, and hard, and learn from our young people some of the ways by which we may reach out to their fellow sisters and brothers. For the young are not spectators in this process. They are full participants in the synodal process. The young may have the answers that we have been looking for. We must empower the young Church.

The second over-arching theme, my friends, is even broader than the first. You and I in this synodal journey must build up all communities of faith that make up our diocesan Church, and those communities are many. Let us begin with our families, for our families are the first and primary community of faith. They are the domestic Church. We heard in the listening sessions that many families are struggling mightily to be faithful to the Lord, under enormous challenges and difficulties. In this moment of grace, we must commit ourselves in spirit and resource to help mothers and fathers to do what the Lord has asked them to do. We must reach out to all those who are caretakers of the young; and families of all different shapes and sizes. Families must become places where the Spirit is alive and basic human needs are met; and where families know that they are not alone in their struggles. For if families are healthy, the Church will be healthy. We must, my friends, build those communities of faith above all others.

For there are other communities that also look for renewal. We heard that in the communities of faith that are our parishes—places of worship, study and fraternity—many people long for more opportunities for catechesis and faith formation, and to learn how to pray, and to pray with all of our hearts. Many do not solely wish to know about Jesus, but rather they seek to know Jesus, as a living, saving, redeemer.

Many long for parishes where everyone is welcomed, and everyone is known by name. That attitude, my friends, is not solely the work of parish leaders, pastors, deacons and parish staff, it is the work of every single parishioner.  

We must ask a very hard question: how will it be that every baptized member of this diocesan family of faith will help our parishes to realize what the Lord wants them to be: living, vibrant places where the Lord is known, worshipped and served.

We also seek to build up our communities of faith which we call our schools. For our schools are places of academic excellence, and they are extolled for that. They are also lauded because they are Catholic schools, not “private” schools.Many schools long for more children to have the opportunity to receive the great gift of Catholic education. My friends, I will ask the synodal delegates, in collaboration with our school leaders, to seek ways to strengthen our schools so that they retain academic excellence and grow in their Catholic identity. May the day come when every Catholic child who wants to go to a Catholic school will have the opportunity to do so regardless of their economic status.

All communities of faith that we have formed, my friends, that wish to be strengthened, that need to grow, cannot do so without the leaders who serve those communities also being given the opportunity to grow. Many of you are those leaders, and what I heard in our listening sessions is that the people of God are grateful for all that you do, and so am I.

But we must allow all women and men in leadership the time and opportunity to grow in knowledge and faith. They must be given—our priests, deacons, and lay leaders—an opportunity to grow in knowledge of the faith and to grow in love of one another. We must strengthen them in their sacrifice, and help them to become ever more joyful in their ministry. Our leaders need the opportunity to grow in faith and love, and that includes me.

The third synodal theme is to foster evangelical outreach. Too many of our Catholic brothers and sisters no longer feel the need to be part of our worshipping family. They feel unwelcome. They feel as if they do not belong. And they feel that no one misses them. But we do miss them and want them present with us. The synod will be an opportunity for us to find new and creative ways to do an outreach that is evangelical—meaning that it will bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to them. We will find new ways to bring to them the good news that they are welcomed, they are missed, they are invited, and I will challenge the delegates not simply to come up with programs, but to find a way to do what Pope Francis has asked us to do: to become missionary disciples, reaching out to those who are away from the Church one person at a time. Let us pray that the day will come when our churches will be bursting once again with all of the baptized side by side, in worship of the One True God, who is Jesus the Lord.Much good is going on already in our Church, and we need to celebrate all that is being done. Let us build on the good that is already there.

The fourth synodal theme concerns the works of charity that are done so quietly in every corner of our diocese. Let us find new ways to promote works of charity and justice, to allow us to get the good news out of what is already underway; the good works of Catholic Charities and all of the parish-based programs that many of you serve in quietly. The time has come for the world to know the good that happens in the Catholic Church. But more than that, we need to discover new ways to respond to the needs of all peoples. In a county like ours, there should be no one who is homeless; no one who is hungry; no one who is alone. That may be a lifetime of work, but that lifetime will begin in the Synod. Works of charity make the community more credible, and by making the community credible, we will bring many to great faith in God who is love Himself

So there is much to do. I hope you are excited, because I am. The Synod is not going to be the end of the journey, it is only the beginning.

My friends, if Peter and Paul, in the hour of the Church’s greatest need, could overcome whatever differences they had, and were able with the grace of God to build a bridge, a bridge upon which you and I stand two-thousand years later, a bridge that I can assure you will stand firm until the end of time, imagine what we can do (guided by the Holy Spirit) for generations yet to come in this great diocesan Church of Bridgeport.

We have much to do. So my friends, I commend us all to the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, who turned to children when she needed her work done. Tonight, Our Lady turns to us—her children—to do her Son’s business. Let us roll up our sleeves. Let us take a deep breath, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, let us turn to each other for inspiration and encouragement and commit ourselves to do our Father’s business.

To our Lord—to Jesus the Christ—who will guide us in this synod; to Him be glory and honor, now and forever. Amen.

Butch Cassidy and the Weight-Loss Kid
| July 11, 2014 • by By Matthew Hennessey


Summer is great. I love the sun. I love cooking on the grill. I love the ice-cold lemonade. What I don’t love is parading half-naked before friends and neighbors at the town pool.

Oh yes, bathing suit season is here. That means it’s time again to crowbar myself into those five year-old swimming trunks (the ones bought because they were a little bigger and a little baggier than the 10 year-old pair). Time again for this suburban slug to take a hard look at his soft tummy. 

I’m not a vain fellow. If I was, I probably wouldn’t have let myself go like this. At 20, I was a wisp. At 30, I was fit and trim. Now, at 40, I have trouble finding pants that fit.

Let me put it this way: I’m on the edge of having to buy my clothes at the big and tall shop, and I’m not that tall.

What happened? I can pinpoint it. Around 2004—when I became a dad and exercise went AWOL from my life—I got it into my head that I deserved a couple of beers every evening. Just two itty-bitty little beers. You know, as a reward for all the hard work of fatherhood.

It seemed so sensible. As a bachelor, I would hit the town weekly. When I did, I’d have far more than just two beers. So two seemed a reasonable compromise, even if it was every night. I thought it would be a wash—calorically, that is.

A friend of mine once told me that Paul Newman drank two beers every night. Ever seen a Paul Newman movie? That guy was as fit as a fiddle. I wanted to be like him. I wanted to be like Butch Cassidy. Two beers never hurt anybody.

Well, 10 years, 7,300 itty-bitty little beers, and 1.2 million unnecessary calories later, I can honestly say that drinking two beers every night is a bad idea. I don’t look like Paul Newman. I look more like Newman from Seinfeld.  

(You may be thinking, “What’s this guy talking about? He looks pretty slim in that picture.” Well, that headshot is at least 10 years-old. I’ve been meaning to replace it—I just didn’t want to face reality. Look for a new one in the next issue of Fairfield County Catholic.)

Appearances are not my only concern. They’re not even my main concern. There is heart disease in my family tree. I don’t want to be the guy who dies of a coronary in his 40s or 50s. I’d rather be the guy who lives long enough to play with his great-grandchildren, and explain who Paul Newman was.

The good news: I’m making progress. Over the last two months I’ve made changes. Sensible stuff. Bread and pasta are out. Instead, lunch is a nice salad and dinner is chicken or a chop. The two-beer days are gone, too. A glass of wine, with dinner, once or twice a week, is all I’ll allow myself now. Desserts are minimized.

I won’t lie—it’s been tough. The hunger is unrelenting. But you probably can’t lose weight and get healthy without being a little hungry once in a while. That’s the price, I suppose.

Luckily, I’m not doing it alone. I couldn’t. Prayer is my crutch.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not praying to lose weight. That hardly seems like God’s problem. But I am praying for the strength to endure the struggle of self-denial. It’s been a challenge. Willpower ain’t my thing. I wasn’t built for abstemiousness.

Then again, I wasn’t built for gluttony either. None of us were. Our bodies are a gift. They should be taken care of. Doing otherwise is an insult to the giver.

So I am recommitting myself to responsible stewardship of my gift. I am recommitting myself to living a healthy life. I hope you will, too.

And if you see me at the pool, I won’t mind at all if you stop and say, “Looking good, Butch.”

(You can follow Matt on Twitter @matthennessey.)  

Matthew Hennessey and his family are parishioners of St. Aloysius in New Canaan.

At his name…
| July 11, 2014 • by By Denise Bossert


Catholic by Grace
By Denise Bossert

My mother may have gone overboard. In order to keep our tongues in check, she not only banned us from using Our Lord’s name in vain, but she also prohibited my siblings and me from using gentler cuss words. Not geez. Not gee whiz. Not jeepers. Not gosh or gosh darn.

It was too easy to go from the benign to the profane, she said.

It may have been extreme, but Mom’s high standard kept me from breaking the Second Commandment. I still have a low tolerance for foul language—especially when it misuses the name of Our Lord.

At his name, knees should bow. At his name, there should be no punching of walls, no throwing of dishes, and no stamping of feet.

By his name, all creation should be blessed.

Not cursed.

There are many ways to express anger. Even Our Lord became angry. But he did something rather amazing in that moment. He affirmed the authority of the Father. He elevated the dignity due his Father—and his Father’s house. Yes, he raised his voice. But even in anger, he remained perfectly holy. It is possible for us to model his righteous anger. It is possible to be angry and yet not sin (Ephesians 4:25-26).

This is a frustrating world. We can hardly escape feeling angry at times, but we do not have to defile the tongue in order to express emotion.

The book of James tells it like it is. “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain” (James 1:26).

The old adage has some truth to it: you can lose your religion—or at least render it useless.

When my parish priest was transferred to our little Missouri town, he immediately began visiting the local establishments. He learned names. Made friends. Won our respect. After morning prayers, he stopped by the local watering hole. And when the good ole boys began taking the name of his Lord in vain, he cringed inside, but he waited. He waited until he’d gained their respect. And then, he said it, quietly, friend-to-friend.

“You know, guys, I love starting my day with you. And I hope to keep doing that. But there’s something you have to know about me. When you say Our Lord’s name carelessly, you are using the name of the one I love in order to curse. To vent. That’s hard for me to hear. Just thought you should know.”

Sure, the guys sometimes fall into old habits, but they are more careful now. They see my priest as a friend—and now, they see him as a friend of Christ. That has made a difference.

I don’t suppose we have to go to extremes. We don’t have to purge words like gee and gosh from our vocabulary.

But we must remember that Jesus Christ is worthy of worship and praise. And holy is his name.                   


Denise Bossert is a convert and a syndicated columnist. Her column has been published in 60 diocesan newspapers.

At last, the secret to a happy marriage
| July 11, 2014 • by By Joe Pisani


Swimming Upstream
By Joe Pisani

Three of our daughters got married in ten months, so I consider myself an expert on the topic of holy matrimony—at least on the topic of paying for weddings.

Before I got involved in this business of gowns, receptions and deejays, I did a lot of Internet research and couldn’t believe the father of the bride still has to pick up the tab for his daughter’s wedding in the post-feminist era when women are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. There’s no justice. Even worse, when I suggested having a garden wedding or a group ceremony, I was met with hissing and icy stares, so in the end, I kissed my retirement savings goodbye.

Actually, I felt privileged to be father of the brides, which got me thinking about marriage in America. We live in a strange and sad era, when marriage is constantly under attack. The divorce rate is increasing for Baby Boomers, and there’s a growing chorus of evolutionary biologists who suggest that having the same partner for life isn’t realistic. In our consumer society, fidelity has an expiration date.

To add to the craziness, celebrities like Gywneth Paltrow, who divorced her rock star husband in what they called a “conscious uncoupling,” are looked upon as enlightened role models. The uncoupling shouldn’t come as a surprise, however, because the entertainment industry generally condones “open marriage” and adulterous relationships, aka cheating.

Adding to the salacious headlines, actress Tori Spelling and her husband exploited their problems with adultery and addiction by airing them on reality TV with a psychotherapist. And let’s not forget the late legendary Mickey Rooney, who had eight wives, or Elizabeth Taylor, who had seven husbands.

For the average couple struggling to make things work one day at a time, marriage is never easy. I recently read a book by Christian writer Gary Thomas titled, “Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?” That’s a radical concept in our narcissistic society, which deceives us into believing “getting” is more important than “giving” and marriage should be a constant source of pleasure.

When the romantic thrill starts to ebb, Thomas says, “Many couples will break up their relationship and try to recreate the passionate romance with someone else. Other couples will descend into a sort of marital guerrilla warfare, a passive-aggressive power play as each partner blames the other for personal dissatisfaction or lack of excitement. Some couples decide to simply ‘get along.’ Still others may opt to pursue a deeper meaning, a spiritual truth hidden in the enforced intimacy of the marital situation.”

And that’s where Christ comes in. The most profound vision of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony I’ve ever seen is the “Exhortation Before Marriage,” which the priest read at my daughters’ ceremonies. It offers the best advice to avoid conscious, and unconscious, uncoupling through the unfamiliar practice of self-sacrifice.

I confess I’m not very good at self-sacrifice. Actually, I don’t have to confess anything because my wife is always reminding me. She’s like that little angel on your shoulder, whispering in your ear. Except she uses a megaphone.

The exhortation tells couples, “You are about to enter upon a union which is most sacred and most serious. It will bind you together for life in a relationship so close and so intimate, that it will profoundly influence your whole future. That future, with its hopes and disappointments, its successes and its failures, its pleasures and its pains, its joys and its sorrows, is hidden from your eyes. These elements are mingled in every life, and are to be expected in your own. And so not knowing what is before you, you take each other for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death. ...

Then, the important part: “It is most fitting that you rest the security of your wedded life upon the great principle of self-sacrifice. And whatever sacrifices you may hereafter be required to make to preserve this mutual life, always make them generously. Sacrifice is usually difficult and irksome. Only love can make it easy, and perfect love can make it a joy. We are willing to give in proportion as we love. And when love is perfect, the sacrifice is complete. ...

“May, then, this love with which you join your hands and hearts today never fail, but grow deeper and stronger as the years go on. And if true love and the unselfish spirit of perfect sacrifice guide your every action, you can expect the greatest measure of earthly happiness that may be allotted to man in this vale of tears. The rest is in the hands of God.”

Self-sacrifice is an unfamiliar concept in modern America, yet it’s the secret to true love and true happiness. And God is always there to help.    


Joe Pisani has been a writer and editor for 30 years.

Kolbe entrepreneur chosen for national competition
| July 11, 2014


Ambar Romero (l) and Robin Altman, NFTE Program Director

BRIDGEPORT—Kolbe Cathedral student Ambar Romero won the Fairfield County competition at a recent Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship event and will travel to Silicon Valley, CA, in the fall to compete nationally.

NFTE (pronounced Nifty), is an international non-profit organization providing entrepreneurship training and education programs to young people from low-income urban communities, helping them build creativity and business skills.

Ambar's business proposal was for an on-line thrift store called "Styles by Ambar," featuring women's clothing and accessories. NFTE sponsors the program at Kolbe and the trip is an all-expenses paid opportunity.

St. Mark School Rallies for Recess
| July 10, 2014


(Photo by Theresa Scallo)

(Photo by Theresa Scallo)

STRATFORD—St. Mark School was recently named one of the five winning schools in the 2013-2014 Dannon "Rally for Recess" contest.

In addition to their yogurt products, Dannon looks for ways to help address larger health concerns. Among these, Dannon believes that playing and exercising at recess is a fun way for kids to enjoy the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

As one component of that outreach, each year, Dannon gives away a $30,000 playground makeover to five schools nationwide through their "Rally for Recess." The contest includes participants collecting entry codes found on specially marked Danimals and Danonino yogurt products or mailing in for free codes. The St. Mark School community rallied together to accrue over 22,000 codes, the highest number of codes collected by any school in the contest. Students, parents, grandparents, faculty, friends and neighboring schools all contributed to this successful grassroots effort. One grandmother collected nearly 5,000 codes herself!

Ironically, construction on the new playground began on the last day of school and was completed in time for the first day of summer camp. A ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for September, when all St. Mark students can officially enjoy their new playground as the school kicks-off its 50th anniversary celebration.

Pope says Mass with pedophilia victims
| July 10, 2014


VATICAN CITY—Six adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of priests on Monday took part in a Mass said by Pope Francis in St. Martha's church.

The survivors, who are from Germany, Ireland and the UK, were set to meet with Francis after Mass, which he celebrates weekday mornings in the small church adjacent to the Vatican guesthouse where he lives.

This will be the first time Francis meets with victims of pedophile clergy.

The reformist pope warned while returning from his trip to the Holy Land in May that not even bishops are exempt from investigation, and that three are currently being probed by church authorities on suspicion of child abuse.

Vatican authorities in June defrocked a former papal nuncio or ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Jozef Weselowski, prior to putting him on juridical trial for alleged child sexual abuse while in the Caribbean country. As well, Pope Francis' new anti-abuse commission met Sunday for the second time since the pontiff appointed it in March in a move intended to demonstrate resolve about confronting the child sexual abuse scandals that have rocked Catholicism.

The pope tapped three clergy and five lay people from eight countries, with seven from Europe or the United States, including four women.

Among his appointees are Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, one of Francis' key advisers and the archbishop of Boston, where the US pedophile priest scandal erupted in 2002, and Marie Collins, who was assaulted as a 13-year-old by a hospital chaplain in her native Ireland and has gone on to become a prominent campaigner for accountability in the church.

Francis faces mounting criticism for a perceived blind spot on the abuse scandals, which have cost Catholic dioceses and religious orders around the world billions of dollars in legal fees and settlements.

His predecessor Benedict XVI was the first Catholic pope to meet with victims of sexual abuse by priests, in Washington in 2008. He then met with sexual abuse survivors Australia, Germany, Malta and the UK.

“Am I my brother’s keeper?”
| July 10, 2014 • by By Father Frederick Saviano


This question, taken from the Book of Genesis in the Bible (chapter 4, verse 9), has plagued humanity since its recording. I’m sure that all of us have felt a sense of indignation at Cain’s response before God when questioned about his brother Abel’s murder. It seems so vicious that Cain could shrug off the horrendous crime that he committed.

And yet, somehow, we seem to be blind to the fact that we are all, indeed, our brother’s keepers and hence are responsible for the well-being of all our brothers and sisters in the human family.

The yearly Cooperative Mission Appeal will take place the weekend of July 19-20 in all our parishes. It is a clarion call to be generous in sharing what we have with our less fortunate brothers and sisters, especially in developing countries.

However, it is also a call to remember our commitment to the mission of preaching the Good News of the Gospel to all nations. We cannot dismiss our baptismal obligation as members of a Missionary Church simply by dipping our hands in our pockets or purses to hand funds off to the missionaries who labor in foreign lands to “let them do it,” and then go our merry way, feeling good about what we have done.

Certainly it is necessary for us who have the where-with-all to provide financial assistance to those who do, in fact, labor in foreign missions. Yet it still remains a fact that we are “our brother’s keeper.”

As I write these lines, I am looking at the numerous letters of desperation from missionaries who are laboring among our less fortunate brothers and sisters. As part of our family of faith they are so close to us, and yet they seem so far away. I read about the struggle for human dignity that has been denied to so many of them because of political structure or social customs which keep them subjugated in a life unworthy of children of God. It is poignantly brought to my attention so much suffering by attacks on Catholics from fanatical sects, some of whom claim to be of Christ while causing painful division. Add to this woeful disregard for human life the natural disasters such as floods and fires, drought and famine, and it should be more than evident that we cannot remain indifferent to “our brother’s” suffering and death.

Many of our family of faith have answered the call from God to go to “our brother’s” assistance as priests, Brothers, Sisters and lay missionaries. They announce the Gospel of a Loving God and Father through a healing touch, the caring for practical needs through the building of safe housing or water supplies, while at the same time denouncing the systems that maintain so many of our brothers and sisters in a state of drastic poverty.

For them it is no easy task. Because we are “our brother’s keepers,” I ask you to be very generous with your financial help in the collection for the Co-Op Mission Appeal. Then I ask you to pray fervently for all who are suffering because of the faith we profess. Beyond that, pray—and read and learn, too—so that government leaders will replace unjust structures with ones that assure human dignity and tolerance for all. And pray that we also will be converted to living the love that God expects of his children.

Thank you, and God bless each and every one of you.

(Father Saviano, temporary administrator of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Parish in Shelton, is diocesan director of the Pontifical Mission Societies.)

St. Rose students reach Gold Level in math
| July 08, 2014


NEWTOWN—St. Rose of Lima School’s Advanced Math Club was one of only two schools in Connecticut to achieve “Gold Level” status in a year-long challenge administered by MATHCOUNTS Association.

This was the second year in a row that St. Rose achieved gold-level status. The honor brings with it a trophy, a banner and a listing on the website.

St. Rose’s advanced math club is comprised of students in grades six through eight who demonstrate advanced proficiency in math. In order to be eligible for membership in the club, a student’s math total score on Terra Nova tests must have been at least 97 percent. The club meets weekly to work in teams solving challenging, creative math problems covering a range of topics aligned to the CT State Math Core Standards for middle school students.

St. Rose students successfully completed a total of six rigorous math challenges throughout the school year. To attain Gold Level, students created a comprehensive Power Point presentation that had to include 12 math vocabulary definitions, along with photographs illustrating each word.  Students then created a word problem and solution for each vocabulary word.
Participation in the club helps inspire math excellence, which includes confidence, creativity and curiosity.

The math club is led by teacher Elaine Smith. Members include: Emma Boushie, Katy Cassetta, Gabriella Fabrizio, Victoris Gugliotti, Isabella Jiminez, Marina Kolitsas, Elizabeth Maker, Nicole Palmieri, Audrey Sedensky, A J Vitiello, Isabella Wolson, Wyatt Cicarelli, Reece DeLeo, Luke Kirby, Mark Leonardi, Thomas Luciano, Jack McDermott, Caroline Palmer, Molly Villodas, Michael Bachmann, Jack Boushie, Sabrinia Capodicci, Hunter Kirkman, Rebecca McHugh, J. P. Queenan, Erin Sudbey and Colman Tokar.

The MATHCOUNTS Association oversees Math Clubs around the country and internationally, and is sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of Math, the National Society of Professional Engineers, the Raytheon Company, Texas Instruments and the U.S. Dept. of Justice. More information can be found at

Young writers hold poetry celebration
| July 08, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—For six weeks this spring, Cathedral Academy Upper School and Fairfield University collaborated on a poetry project.

University students spent time in fourth through eighth grade classrooms, sharing ideas and advising young writers. At the end of the project, Cathedral Academy teachers and students and the Fairfield University students and their supervisors held a poetry celebration in conjunction with National Poetry Month.

At the celebration, academy students shared their original poems with the entire school.

The cooperative project began with the academy’s participation in Fairfield University’s annual Poetry for Peace contest. The Fairfield University students participated under the direction of Dr. Beth Boquet and Professor Carol Ann Davis (poet-in-residence). As part of the contest, the university is publishing a book of the poems academy students submitted for consideration. The cover artwork and page art were also done by academy students. Enough books will be published so that each student can receive a copy.

“Because the project has been so successful, Cathedral Academy and Fairfield University are already planning to continue the collaboration next year,” says Ann Marie Donnelley, the Upper School English Language Arts and social studies teacher. “Academy students greatly benefitted from the energy and creativity of the university students and the university students benefitted from working with young writers and their teachers in a classroom setting.”

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna

Jesus Christ, Divine Gardener
| July 08, 2014


Cornstalks and wildflowers just sprouting.

Cornstalks and wildflowers five weeks later.

When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” (John 20: 14-16)
Jesus Christ is the Divine Gardener. Even though Mary Magdalene is mistaken when she thinks that Jesus is the cemetery gardener, her mistake is inspired because Jesus is a gardener. The aim of every gardener is to make things grow, and Jesus wants us to grow in holiness day by day, and helps us to grow in the light of His grace. The result of healthy growth over time is a harvest of good fruit. God wants us all to grow in holiness and bear abundant, good fruit.

Although Jesus is a carpenter by trade, he does display significant agricultural knowledge. When he and his disciples are hungry, they know to eat grain from the fields. Jesus knows about the growth cycles of various trees, especially fig trees. He uses the image of the vine and the branches to great effect. It is likely that most families at the time of Jesus would try to grow produce for themselves anywhere they could. They may have even had cooperatives where they maintained and farmed grapes and figs with other families who did not have the resources to have their own fruit trees and vineyards.

Mary Magdalene knew that gardeners were employed to maintain the cemetery and perhaps even to reap a harvest from some of the things growing there. Jesus was raised from the dead and appeared first in his glorified body in cultivated gardens. From these facts, we can make the assumption that God loves gardens and also loves to garden. Where did God make a home for our first parents, before the fall? Their original job was to tend to the garden, so God loves gardeners too. Gardening was our original universal vocation.

There is a direct link between gardening and spirituality. All plant life needs water and light to grow. Further, plant life needs nutrients. We are akin to plants in that we all need God’s grace to grow in holiness, and God’s grace can be seen as light. Water can be seen as baptism, the sacraments and the Church, and nourishment can be seen as the Word of God, who is Jesus Himself. By the way, none of what I have just written is exhaustive. The examples I use above are merely metaphorical, meaning they could be expanded greatly.

On the right, I have posted some before and after photos of a planter on my deck that was seeded with wildflowers and corn. In five weeks or so, the growth has been explosive. Day by day, the growth of plant life is not that noticeable, and neither is growth in holiness. It is only when we can hold up a benchmark to the light that we are able to discern how much growth has taken place.

Here, the analogy begins limping, because growth in holiness is never as visible or as quantifiable as the growth of plants. Nevertheless, there is good spirituality to be harvested in gardening, and I recommend it to everyone, whether it is a single houseplant or a more extravagant garden.

Finally, and I have learned this well with my lemon trees, many plants need to be pruned in order to remain healthy and to produce an even greater hoped-for harvest. When it comes to our own spiritual selves, when Jesus prunes us, it does not tickle! In fact, although pruning by God is necessary for us to grow more strongly in holiness and to produce an ever richer harvest, we usually experience it as spiritual pain, if not agony. Then again, it can help us to endure difficult spiritual times if we consider that we may be undergoing spiritual pruning by God.
Oh, I’d better hurry. I’ve got to get some seeds. I’ve got to get some seeds right away. Nothing’s planted. I don’t have a thing in the ground. (Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”)

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Aetna Golf scores for charity
| July 02, 2014


NORWALK—This year’s Catholic Charities/AETNA Golf Classic, held at Shorehaven Golf Club, raised more than $135,000 for the many behavioral health services and throughout the diocese.

Catholic Charities is a leading provider of food, housing, mental health, adoption, immigrations and family support services to people in need in Fairfield County.

“It was an extraordinarily positive event. We have so many people to thank including all our marvelous sponsors, the terrific volunteers from Catholic Charities, AETNA, and other friends of CCFC, all the players and guests who joined us for the post golf activities, all those who bought the terrific auction items, the wonderful staff at Shorehaven, and, I’m sure, many others,” said Al Barber, President of Catholic Charities.

“We were also blessed with a glorious sunny day. I am very pleased to report that AETNA and the terrific co-chairs of the tournament, Bill Tommins and Jon Vaccarella, have committed to leading next year’s event,” Barber said.

(Catholic Charities is celebrating its 96th year of providing services to the poor and vulnerable of Fairfield County. For information on services and giving opportunities, visit

Fairfield Prep celebrates groundbreaking and blessing of Student Life Center
| July 02, 2014


From left: Fairfield University President Rev. Jeffrey von Arx, S.J.;
Fairfield Prep President Rev. John Hanwell, S.J.; and Board
Chairman Dr. Bob Russo '65.

FAIRFIELD—Fairfield Prep celebrated the groundbreaking and blessing of a new Student Life Center on June 18 in Pelletier Quad. Guests included Fairfield University President Fr. Von Arx, S.J., members of Prep’s Board of Governors, administrators and staff, and members of the Fairfield Jesuit Community.

Prep President Fr. John Hanwell, S.J., announced, "Today is a great moment in the history of Fairfield Prep. The Prep community breaks ground together for our new Student Life Center as we believe so heartily in our great mission that our students are our future and that their future is our responsibility."

The center will serve as a crossroads for important campus activities. This state-of-the-art, technology-enriched, multi-purpose facility will feature a number of specialized, but functionally related spaces. The center will foster a synergy between the academic and co-curricular lives of the school by providing students the opportunity to meet, to interact, to explore, and to cultivate their interests outside of the classroom. The facility will include an enhanced dining area to accommodate 500 students and other school sponsored functions; an assembly area for formal and informal meetings; and office space to support various student-based programs. The project is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2015.

Court: Closely held companies can't be required to cover contraceptives
| July 01, 2014 • by By Patricia Zapor, Catholic News Service


Pro-life demonstrators celebrate June 30 outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington as its decision in the Hobby Lobby case is announced. (CNS/Reuters)

WASHINGTON—In a narrowly tailored 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court June 30 said closely held companies may be exempted from a government requirement to include contraceptives in employee health insurance coverage under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The court said that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods, the two family-run companies that objected to the government mandate that employees be covered for a range of contraceptives, including drugs considered to be abortifacients, are protected from the requirement of the Affordable Care Act. The opinion essentially held that for-profit companies may hold protected religious views.

But the court also said that government requirements do not necessarily lose if they conflict with an employer's religious beliefs.
The ruling is not a slam-dunk for all entities that oppose the contraceptive mandate for religious reasons. The court noted that cases challenging the mandate for nonprofit entities, such as Catholic colleges and faith-based employers, are pending and that the June 30 ruling doesn't consider them. The decision also did not delve into whether the private employers have religiously motivated protection from laws under the First Amendment.

It said the government failed to satisfy the requirement of RFRA, a 1993 law, that the least-restrictive means of accomplishing a government goal be followed to avoid imposing a restriction on religious expression.

The majority opinion said the ruling applies only to the contraceptive mandate and should not be interpreted to hold that all insurance coverage mandates -- such as for blood transfusions or vaccinations -- necessarily fail if they conflict with an employers' religious beliefs.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the primary holding, which was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a separate concurring opinion, which agreed with the ruling, but made clear that while the opinion applies to the particular companies involved in this case, it's not a sweeping condemnation of the key elements of the contraceptive mandate itself.

"It is important to confirm that a premise of the court's opinion is its assumption that the HHS regulation here furthers a legitimate and compelling interest in the health of female employees," wrote Kennedy in his concurrence. He went on to say that the federal government failed to use the least restrictive means of meeting that interest, pointing out that it has granted exemptions from the mandate for employees of nonprofit religious organizations.

"That accommodation equally furthers the government interest, but does not impinge on the plaintiff's religious beliefs," he wrote.

In the 49-page majority opinion, Alito noted that the department of Health and Human Services that administers the ACA has already provided exemptions from some of the coverage requirements for employers in a variety of situations, including some that were grandfathered in without certain provisions and employers of fewer than 50 workers.

He also said that the standard for the government of meeting a general good by the least restrictive means is "exceptionally demanding," and that the contraceptives provision fails to meet it. The federal government could easily, and relatively inexpensively, cover the cost of providing the disputed contraceptives coverage, Alito said.

And he said the federal government already has a system for handling the mandate for nonprofit religious organizations with objections to the mandate.

Under that accommodation, organizations self-certify that their religious objections entitle them to exemption from the mandate. In those cases, third party insurers arrange for the provision to be handled without involvement or cost to the employer.

Alito specified that the opinion does not decide whether the accommodation approach complies with RFRA for all objections. "At a minimum, however, it does not impinge on the plaintiff's religious belief that providing insurance coverage for the contraceptives at issue violates their religion, and it serves HHS's stated interests very well."

Alito also noted that the opinion should not be understood to mean any religion-based objection to a requirement of the ACA would be upheld. Different issues would arise, for instance, in the case of objections to vaccinations that protect public health, he said.

In a dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the court's majority decision one of "startling breadth" allowing commercial enterprises to "opt out of any law" except tax laws that they "judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs."

Ginsburg, joined on the merits of her dissent by Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer, said she was "mindful of the havoc" the ruling could produce and noted that the court's emphasis on RFRA failed to take into account the impact the decision would have on "third parties who do not share the corporation owners' religious faith."

"Until today," she wrote, religious exemptions have not been extended to the "commercial profit-making world" because these groups do not exist to foster the interests of those of the same faith, as religious organizations do.

"The court's determination that RFRA extends to for-profit corporations is bound to have untoward effects," she said, adding that even though the court "attempts to cabin its language to closely held corporations, its logic extends to corporations of any size, public or private."

As a result, she said, "RFRA claims will proliferate."

- - -

Contributing to this story was Carol Zimmermann.

St. Aloysius Youth say "Yes" to Synod 2014
| July 01, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Annie Butler and Grace Wagner represented the teens of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan at the Evening Vespers at St. Augustine Cathedral with Bishop Caggiano on June 29.

During his homily, Bishop Caggiano announced the topics for the synod and stated that the young delegates are not just spectators, they are full members of the synod deliberations.

The synod delegates, who will be charting the future of our diocese through discussion and prayer, will focus on the following four tasks:

1. Help empower the young Church.
2. Build up communities of faith.
3. Foster evangelical outreach
4. Find new ways to promote the works of charity and justice.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna

My iPhone and Fisher’s 25th Anniversary Celebration
| July 01, 2014


A few years ago, when I first got an iPhone, I would have been hard pressed to tell you why I “needed” one. Once, I remember explaining to a non-iPhone user why I liked my iPhone. After listing a few reasons why I had purchased one, the non-iPhone user claimed that his phone could do the same things that my more expensive iPhone could do. Admittedly, I felt a bit befuddled, and wondered to myself, why did I “need” an iPhone?

Now that I am assigned to help at the Fairfield County Catholic, which includes writing a weekly blog, I have a better understanding of the differences between an iPhone and a basic cell phone. For example, I now use my iPhone to record homilies that I might like to transcribe. It has worked well for recording Bishop Caggiano a few times, and at the Fisher Seminary anniversary Mass, I recorded Cardinal Egan’s homily (excerpted below). Thus far, my brother priests – who have seen me fumbling with my phone in church – have been patient with me. They seem to know that I am not texting friends during Mass, but they are not quite sure what I am doing. Now they will know.

Recording a homily during Mass is not a perfect system because when I play it back I have to strain to hear certain words. I think it is helping my listening skills, however, as it took me over three hours to transcribe the bishop’s Vespers homily given at the cathedral on the Solemnity of Peter and Paul. If you want to know what he said without reading his homily, I am probably a pretty good person to ask. If you want to know in detail about the four over-arching themes of the synod, ask me.

Then comes taking pictures. As far as a camera goes, the iPhone is fairly limited, but now I am learning how to crop the photos I have taken, which makes them much more presentable and effective. The five photos that accompany this blog are from the June 20 reception at the Inn at Longshore in Westport following the 25th anniversary Mass at Assumption Parish in Westport. For two of the pictures, I even employed standardized special effects available on the iPhone (see if you can tell which ones). Then, when I saw the singer/songwriter Jose’ Feliciano and his lovely wife Susan, who are parishioners at Assumption and very active in the Catholic community, I was tempted to take a selfie with Jose’. Thankfully, Susan came to my rescue and snapped a pretty nice shot. Six months to “Feliz Navidad!”

My goal is to learn how to better use my iPhone in my role as Catholic “cub reporter.” One of the reasons I wanted to post these shots on my blog is that no one would post them anywhere else, and I want them to be seen! This is art here, people!

The photos are listed from top to bottom: 1) Cardinal Egan relaxes at Longshore with Msgr. Bill Scheyd, vicar general and pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan. 2) A view of the revelers with Long Island Sound as a backdrop. 3). Bishop Caggiano “listening” to two attendees. 4). The sun is setting, is it time for dinner?? 5) Me and my new best friend Jose’ Feliciano!

On a serious note, Cardinal Egan’s moving homily set the tone of thanksgiving for the entire evening, which in total was a wonderful celebration.
Excerpts from Cardinal Egan’s Homily at the Mass to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of St. John Fisher Seminary (Friday evening, June 20, 2014: Assumption Parish, Westport, Conn.):
That Gospel reading (John 17:11b-19) is the high-priestly prayer of Jesus Christ to his seminarians at the Last Supper. And in that high-priestly prayer and exactly in that passage, you have the program for how to run a seminary.
It opens up with Jesus Christ announcing that he needs the Father in heaven to protect, guard and nurture the calling of his Apostles... Three times he begs the Father in heaven: ‘See to it the young men who are at the table with me will pursue the calling he has given them in holiness and grace’...
Jesus Christ wants the seminary to be a place where the calling is protected, guarded and nurtured by prayer, by study, and by the example of the priests who guide the seminarians just as the Lord was the example for his seminarians, the Apostles. And John Fisher Seminary does this magnificently... and it does it with devotion, exuberance, and with the great style of the Diocese of Bridgeport!
The second thing the Lord tells us about his seminary is that the seminarians need to know the Word of God and be able to teach it, whole and entire, nothing left out, nothing added... and I have never had any doubt that the Gospel is being preached at St. John Fisher!...
The third and final element in this high-priestly prayer is that seminarians are to know that they are to be that they can go out and consecrate and make holy the world...
Those are the three elements of the seminary of Jesus Christ...
There is an element in every seminary that is over and above the three elements I have already mentioned. The seminary has to teach future priests to be men of kindness, compassion and love...
And I believe that in addition to your wonderful faculty at St. John Fisher, you have another addition that you may not be aware of right now, and his name is Pope Francis... and I would like to think that the men who are in seminary now will learn from him; imitate him; be sure that kindness, compassion and love are part of their lives.

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Announcement of Themes for Synod 2014
| June 30, 2014


Watch a video of Bishop Caggiano announcing the Themes for Synod 2014.

From the Vespers Service, June 29, 2014

Faithful cheer Bishop’s call for renewal
| June 29, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank Caggiano called for empowering youth, building bridges to those who have left the church, finding new ways to promote charity and justice within the diocese, and strengthening local faith communities at the Vespers service tonight that formally launched Synod 2014.

The Bishop convoked the synod in February, and announced a series of “listening sessions” to better understand the concerns and hopes of Catholics as the diocese plans for the future.

“The listening has only begun,” he said, noting that the four themes he selected came out of the seven listening sessions that he and the Synod Commission attended during the Spring.

As the evening prayer service began a brilliant shaft of light filled the stained glass window above the sanctuary on a strikingly beautiful summer evening.

More than 650 Catholics throughout the diocese filled the Cathedral for the Vespers prayer service and voiced support for the goals of the synod.

In a moving moment following the singing of psalms and canticles, the intercessions were read in Spanish, Creole, Vietnamese, Polish, Portuguese and English, reflecting the diversity of many different communities across the diocese.

During his 20 minute homily, the bishops challenged the delegates and others present to work with him to renew the diocese.

On the feast of the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the Apostles, Bishop Caggiano said the two fathers of the Church were “as different as night and day.”

Peter was a stubborn fisherman, while Paul was well-born and educated. Yet they overcame their differences to build the Church. The bishop urged those in attendance to “overcome differences so that we might rise to the challenge before us.”

“Empowering youth” was the first priority mentioned by the bishop. “They are not just our future, but our present and they are eager to lead,” he said.

“We must give them faith in ways they can understand,” he said, calling for delegates to help “evolve a catechesis” that speaks to youth.

“Our young tell us that too many of their friends don’t believe,” the bishop said, asking delegates to “dig deeper” and to understand that youth themelves may have the answers to many of the church’s challenges. “The young are not spectators, they are full participants in the process,” he said.

Building upon the communities of faith that make up the diocese was the second theme announced by Bishop Caggiano. He said the diocese must begin with the family, which he referred to as “the domestic Church.”

Bishop Caggiano said parents and all caretakers of children are “struggling mightily “ to be faithful in changing times and he said the Church must learn to respond to “all of the different sizes, and shapes that families now are.”

Noting that parishes are communities of fraternity and education as well as faith, the bishop said it is not only important for Catholic to know about Jesus, “but to know Jesus.” He said parishes must be places “where everyone is welcome and everyone is known by name.”

Identifying schools as important Catholic communities, Bishop Caggiano said they are appreciated throughout the diocese because they are both place of academic excellence and faith formation.

He also asked delegates to devise programs that support leaders of faith communities whether they be priests, religious or laity, by giving them an opportunity to continue to grow in the faith.

“Too many of our Catholic brothers and sisters feel unwelcome as if they don’t belong and they feel no one misses them, but we do miss them,” said the bishop in calling for Evangelical Outreach as the third theme of the synod.

He said that evangelization in the simplest terms is “sharing the good new of Jesus Christ, that they are welcomed, that they are missed and that they are invited back.”

In the spirit of Pope Francis Bishop Caggiano challenged local Catholics to “be a missionary church reaching out one person a time.” He said the delegates will look at the best programs provided by other dioceses and also create others to bring Catholics back home.

“The time has come for the world to know the good that happens in the Catholic Church,” Bishop Caggiano said in defining the fourth major themes of the synod as finding new ways to promote charity and justice in the diocese.

“Charity makes the community credible . We bring many to faith in the works of love, because God is love.”

Bishop Caggiano said there are many challenges ahead but he challenged the faithful to build bridges to alienated Catholics and to future generations.

“The bridge that Peter and Paul built has stood for 2000 years and will remain firm until the end of time.”

“Imagine what we can do for generations yet to come,” he said, telling those present they can breathe the air of the Holy Spirit to find strength and inspiration.

His homily was greeted by prolonged applause and pledges to help him renew the Church in Fairfield County.

The beautiful music for the Vespers program was provided by Thomas J. Marino of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan, who served as organist and choir director of the celebration. Choir members were drawn from parishes throughout the diocese, while Cidalia Alves was the cantor.

For more information visit the Synod 2014 website at

Click to read a full transcript of Bishop Caggiano's homily

Click here to view the slideshow

Serve and Love
| June 26, 2014


When my good friend lay dying of cancer, I didn’t know where to turn. A tragedy of that magnitude has a way of upending daily life as we know it and changing our view of the way things are supposed to be.

This fellow was a young man, and young men seldom think about their mortality, until it’s too late. So I called one of the few people I knew who would know what to say, a man named Frank Wissel, who also happened to be a priest and the pastor at St. Mary Church in Greenwich.

As your life approaches its end, which is an experience we all will share, everything that preoccupied you for 99% of your time on Earth takes on a different meaning. You look at the way you measured success and see it through an entirely different lens. Everything you thought was so important suddenly loses its luster and a lot of things that you never bothered to think about suddenly seem important.

Msgr. Wissel, who died last week, talked to my friend a long time. He gave him last rites and heard his confession, which is a Catholic thing that we usually think about later than we should. When he left, I walked him to the door and thanked him. For once in my life, I’d made the right decision.

A week or so later, my friend passed away, and as it turned out, Msgr. Wissel said the funeral Mass in a packed church. For his sermon, he read a poem about taking the time to live life the way it was meant to be lived, not in the relentless pursuit of prestige, possessions and pleasure.

The poem, he told me, was one he often used during funerals when people are looking for answers. It was about life and falling victim to the rat race. It was about making the most of each moment and being sure that your priorities are true priorities that won’t fail you — or make you regret you lived the way you did.

Life, he said, passes by a lot faster than we expect, until it’s too late and you realize you frittered away valuable time for the wrong reasons. You have to put first things first. It was a lesson I needed to hear. It was a lesson I hope I never forget, and more importantly, it was a lesson Frank Wissel lived by.

Msgr. Wissel lived by the principles he professed. After 17 years as pastor of St. Mary Church, he had recently retired and moved to the Nathaniel Witherell home in Greenwich.

A few weeks ago, he had been honored during a ceremony to dedicate a hand-carved marble statue of Our Lady of Grace made in Italy and given anonymously to the church in recognition of his service and in appreciation for St. Mary’s intercession in curing cancer patients.

Born in Brooklyn, Wissel, 76, attended Long Island University, where he received master’s degrees in science and professional studies. He later earned a doctorate in psychotheology and ministry. Before he entered the seminary, he was a psychologist for the New York City Board of Education and taught for 17 years in the Brooklyn Catholic schools.

In 1977, he was ordained by Bishop Walter W. Curtis and served in parishes in the Bridgeport Diocese. He later became principal of Kolbe Cathedral High School and was the director of the St. Maximilian Kolbe House of Studies, which has helped students from Africa, Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia and Peru earn college degrees. I had heard about his work with the immigrant community and knew some of the people he helped along the way.

Looking back on his years of service, he said his goal had been a simple one but not always an easy one. It was, “Serve and love the people. Try and absorb all their pains and suffering. And let them know you really do love and care about them.”

And the people who knew him will tell you that was a goal he accomplished, right to the end when he was confined to a wheelchair because of health issues. He set the example for the lessons and virtues he spoke of.

Joe Pisani may be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Vespers Service to open Synod 2014
| June 25, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—The  Synod 2014 Vespers prayer service , which for the Solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul will be held on Sunday, June 29, 7 pm at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.

All are invited to attend the evening prayer service will include hymns, psalms, scripture readings and a homily by Bishop Frank Caggiano.

After his homily the Bishop will also announce the major topics for the Synod based on the hundreds of comments and suggestions made at the listening sessions held throughout the diocese during the spring. Comments have also been submitted online through the diocesan website.

“It is fitting that we begin the Synod with prayer on the Feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the two great Apostles who represent the very foundations of the Church,” said Bishop Caggiano. “They are the solid rock on which the Church is built, and they remain our protectors.”
The Vespers service will bring together more than 300 Synod delegates for the first time along with pastors, clergy and religious throughout the diocese to pray for the success of the Synod.
During the listening sessions, Catholics throughout the diocese have offered suggestions on a wide range of issues including the need to welcome Catholics back to Church, to reach out to youth and young adults, to increase collaboration between parishes, and to offer new opportunities for lay spiritual formation.
The Synod will formally open on Saturday September 20 when delegates convene for the 1st General Session at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull. The year-long process will conclude with a Closing Session in September 2015.
Bishop Caggiano officially convoked the 4th Diocesan Synod with an announcement in his February 22 letter that issued a challenge to all Catholics to help plan for the future of the diocese.
“Each generation and every age has faced its own difficulties; yet the gift of faith that has been placed into our heart by God always remains and must be passed into future generations,” he wrote.
For reports on the listening sessions and other information, visit the synod website:

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna

Is Sunday the “Sabbath”?
| June 25, 2014


Catholics often refer to Sunday as the “Sabbath” rather than the “Lord’s Day.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), published in English in 1994 attempts to correct this terminology. Some day, with the help of proper catechesis, Catholics may unfailingly refer to Sunday as the “Lord’s Day” rather than the Sabbath.

The Sabbath is still in effect, but the “Shabbat” begins at sundown on Friday and ends at sunrise on Sunday. Jesus himself rested in the tomb from sundown Friday until sunrise on Sunday. With His Resurrection, Jesus made Sunday His day – the Lord’s Day!

For the Jewish people, our brothers and sisters in the Lord who first received God’s Word and experienced God’s real presence, the Sabbath remains a day of rest. In the time of Jesus, there were myriad prescriptions regarding Sabbath rest, and violations of these laws were considered serious infractions. Even today, Jewish people who observe the Shabbat take great pains to avoid doing any work between Friday evening and Sunday morning.

As Catholics, we are not bound by the laws of the Shabbat, so the Lord’s Day is not one necessarily free from all work. Like the Sabbath, however, we should strive to make Sundays a day of rest and renewal.

Do you wait until Sunday to do your grocery shopping? Is Sunday your day to mow the lawn? Do you own a store or a restaurant that remains open on Sundays? These are all areas where we can honor Jesus by refraining from ordinary activities on the Lord’s Day.

The Lord’s Day should be a time for spiritual renewal. Like the Shabbat, our Sunday begins at sundown the day before, which we call the “vigil” of the Lord’s Day. In the early 1970s, many of our parishes moved their first Sunday Mass to 12:00 noon on Saturday. These Masses were very popular because one’s Sunday obligation could be fulfilled by about 1:00 p.m. on Saturday! Eventually, the bishops realized that noon was too early for a vigil Mass, so most dioceses restricted the celebration of the vigil Mass to 4:00 p.m. at the earliest.

Whether it is our custom to attend Mass on Saturday or on Sunday, participation at Mass in our local faith community is the primary way to “make holy” the Lord’s Day. In our present economic situation, some Catholics are required to work on Sunday. If one’s livelihood demands it, there is no sin incurred in working on Sundays. After all, parish priests technically “work” on Sundays too!

Sometimes it takes a long time for the Church to adopt newer, correct terminology when referring to its own practices. I have found, through experience, that it is usually better not to “correct” someone who calls Sunday the Sabbath. Early one morning someone greeted me by saying, “Happy Sabbath!” Unfortunately (and maybe because I am not a morning person), I said, “Technically, it is not the Sabbath.” Let’s just say it did not go over too well!

If you look at the index of the CCC, you will find many beneficial topics listed under “Sunday.” Reviewing these highlighted items helps to deepen our understanding of and appreciation for the Lord’s Day. Parents may even find these topics useful for reviewing with their children. Using the Catechism is a great way for parents to be the first and best teachers of the faith for their children!

Paragraphs 2190 and 2191 of the “new” Catechism sum up the Church’s teaching on the difference between Sunday and the Sabbath:

2190: The Sabbath, which represented the completion of the first creation, has been replaced by Sunday which recalls the new creation inaugurated by the Resurrection of Christ.

2191: The Church celebrates the day of Christ’s Resurrection on the “eighth day,” Sunday, which is rightly called the Lord’s Day.

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Final Listening Session focuses on fallen way Catholics
| June 21, 2014


DANBURY—A sense of loss and questioning over the large number of Catholics no longer attending Church, including the children and grandchildren of some of those in attendance, overwhelmed the 7th and final Listening Session of Synod 2014.

Participants voiced equal concern over losing the young and the need to engage and inspire them to grow in their faith.

More than 150 men and women gathered in the gymnasium at Immaculate High School to share their concerns and hopes for the local Church as its plan for its future through the yearlong synod.

“We know how much you love the Church to come out on a beautiful afternoon like this,” quipped Synod Director Msgr. Dariusz Zeilonka on the first official day of summer. Bishop Caggiano and other Synod Commission members also attended the session.

Over an intense, honest, and heartfelt 90 minutes, speakers made 97 suggestions and comments. Unlike earlier sessions, many of the men and women spoke from written remarks they had prepared before coming to the meeting.

While speakers voiced concern, they also expressed a deep appreciation for the teachings of the Church, the availability of the sacraments, the presence of adorations chapels and the gift of faith in their lives.

Many spoke of the beauty of a “personal relationship with Jesus” and the need for the Church to reach people’s hearts with a deep sense of conversion.

In response to the first question about the strengths of diocesan ministries, speakers cited Catholic schools, the Diaconate Program, Pastoral Services, youth programs, the Cursillo movements and the outreach of Catholic Charities that help the poor and suffering throughout the area.

Many suggestions for new initiatives targeted the need to reach out to alienated Catholics and youth, and to provide more adult formation and catechetical programs that teach the faith in a vibrant and contemporary way.

Pam Arsenault, Director of Religious Education at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown, said, “We need to hear from non-practicing Catholics.” She said that a friend who is a member of a protestant congregation told her that 60 % of the parishioners are former Catholics. “We need to look at who’s alienated and meet those needs.”

A young woman in her twenties from St. Rose said that she and most of her friends could “count on their fingers” the few people their age who attend Mass.

Many speakers agreed that the Church needs to learn to be more welcoming, not simply in a social or superficial way, but a change of culture that forms small communities of faith.

One young man said that the poor and elderly often have difficulty getting to Church. He “taking to the streets like the apostles. “We should say ‘Hey, come to Mass because Jesus loves you.’”

A woman from St. Joseph Parish in Brookfield said that we should not constantly refer to youth as the future, but see them as the present, and directly ask them “why we are failing and how we can capture their interest.”

Two finance council members of different parishes in the Danbury area said that it was time for laymen with financial and accounting expertise “to take the burden off pastors” by becoming more involved in the financial management of parishes.

Other speakers asked for more use of social media to communicate with the young and they expressed a need for the diocese to make people more aware of all the services and volunteer opportunities it provides.

In brief closing remarks, Bishop Caggiano directly addressed the challenge of bringing back Catholics who no longer attend Mass.

“We all know there are large numbers with members of their families who won’t come here because they are disaffected, and they need to speak for themselves,” he said, adding that he was considering a poll or some other method of hearing from them.

The Bishop said he would announce the final synod topics at the Vespers Service on Sunday June 29, 7 pm at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport, and he invited everyone to attend.

After attending all of the Listening Sessions, the Bishop said he believes that the diocese must ask, “What does it truly mean to be a community of faith.” He said the “there are deeper spiritual issues” underlying all of the comments and the ultimate task of the Synod is to help people “undergo the personal process of conversion to Jesus as Lord.”

He said the Synod will explore the inevitable “tension between truth and love. We want to welcome people back, yes. But the truth is also involved. How do you hold both together: we must welcome back but can’t compromise what the Lord has taught us,” he said to applause.

He concluded by telling those in attendance that while the challenges are sobering, he is optimistic about the future of the Church. “There will be a path because Christ is in charge. We will find renewal in him.”

Click here to view the slideshow

Fisher Seminary 25th Anniversary Celebration a Huge Success
| June 21, 2014


WESTPORT—Cardinal Edward Egan gave a moving homily at a Mass honoring the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Saint John Fisher Seminary Residence, now located in Stamford.

The Mass was held at Assumption Parish in Westport, and was concelebrated by about 50 priests with Bishop Caggiano presiding.

About 200 religious, deacons and lay people also marked the anniversary with the celebration of the Eucharistic using the liturgical prayers for the feast day of St. John Fisher, an English Bishop who was martyred by King Henry VIII.

After Mass, a festive celebration was held at the Longshore Inn on Long Island Sound. The weather was ideal and the setting magnificent. Many more people who were unable to attend the Mass joined the celebration at Longshore. In all, about 400 people - clergy, religious, seminarians and laity—gathered on the waterfront for a cocktail hour and then proceeded into the beautiful banquet hall for formal presentations to honorees and an exquisite meal.

Click here for a slideshow 

Msgr. Frank Wissel, 76 beloved Pastor of Saint Mary Parish, Greenwich
| June 20, 2014


GREENWICH—Msgr. Frank C. Wissel, 76, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Greenwich, died peacefully yesterday evening (June 19) in Greenwich Hospital. 

News of his death has been greeted with sadness by people throughout the diocese. His commitment to education and his devotion to the people entrusted to his care made him a towering presence both in Greenwich and among the inner-city students he had served in in Bridgeport.

Msgr. Wissel’s body will be received into Saint Mary Church on Monday, June 23 at 10 am, where it will lie in state until the Vigil Mass there at 7 pm. The celebrant and homilist for the Mass will be Msgr. William Scheyd, pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated for Msgr. Wissel in St. Mary’s on Tuesday, June 24, at 11am. The celebrant will be Bishop Frank J. Caggiano; Msgr. J.  Peter Cullen, pastor of St. Michael Parish in Greenwich, will deliver the homily.

Burial will follow at Saint Mary Cemetery, in the Priests’ Circle.

Msgr. Wissel had retired as pastor less than a week earlier, on June 15, after serving the parish for 17 years.

To honor the occasion of his retirement, a marble statue of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal had been erected outside the church, overlooking Greenwich Avenue. It was donated anonymously by a parish couple in honor of Msgr. Wissel and in gratitude to Our Lady for her intercession in the healing of cancer patients.  

The statue was dedicated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano on a festive Mother’s Day, May 11, with many parishioners and well-wishers looking on. Carved from Carrara marble by the Arrighini Family of Pietrasanta, Italy, the one-ton statue is an exact replica of the one in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal on the Rue de Bac in Paris, France. The chapel is where Our Lady appeared to Saint Catherine Labouré in 1830, encouraging her to create the medal.

Msgr. Wissel believed the statue would be the source of many blessings, as well as a powerful witness to passersby on the busy shopping street. “It’s beautifully done, a unique gift given by a very special couple,” he said on that happy day. “I never expected it to be dedicated to me. In Brooklyn you’d have to be dead 30 years for that to happen!”

A native of Brooklyn, Msgr. Wissel, 76, was ordained to the priesthood in 1977 by Bishop Walter Curtis. He holds a doctorate in psycho-theology and ministry from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, CA.

Msgr. Wissel was the principal of Kolbe Cathedral High School in Bridgeport from 1981-1991. While there he founded the St. Maximilian Kolbe House of Studies for Boys in Bridgeport, designed to educate young men in a family setting. In 1991 he was named Chaplain to His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, carrying the title of Monsignor.

Appointed pastor of Saint Mary’s in 1997, Msgr. Wissel expanded the number of parish programs and organizations and established a fund to assist the needy, including the large immigrant community. All of this was accomplished, he notes, through the “overwhelming” generosity of parishioners in devoting their time, talent, and resources.

His trademark style of running a successful parish, Msgr. Wissel had noted, was to build a team effort between clergy and qualified lay people. “You have to delegate, and you have to affirm people when they are doing a good job,” he said.

Most of all, he always insisted, a pastor needs to be present. “Serve and love the people,” he said. “Try and absorb all their pains and sufferings. And let them know you really do love and care about them, and you’re happy to be there.”

For many years Msgr. Wissel wrote a popular column in the Greenwich Citizen newspaper. Recently, he offered sound advice that expresses his philosophy of life. “God has given us the Bible,” he wrote. “We are, indeed, our brother’s keeper. We have a choice, being blessed with many things, but unless we share them with the needy, all is for nothing.”

Bishop Caggiano has named Father Cyprian LaPastina, formerly pastor of Saint Gabriel Parish in Stamford and a former parochial vicar at Saint Mary’s, as the new pastor.

Final Synod Listening Session set for Saturday in Danbury
| June 20, 2014


FAIRFIELD—The seventh and final listening session for Synod 2014 will be held this Saturday, June 2, 1 pm at Immaculate High School, 71 Southern Blvd  in Danbury.

The listening session at Immaculate is open to the public and will run for about 90 minutes.

Parishioners from Vicariate 5, (Danbury, Sherman, Georgetown, Brookfield, Bethel, Redding Ridge, Ridgefield and Newtown) will be given an opportunity to share their comments and thoughts about the Diocese and its future.

Nearly 300 people, the largest turnout to day, attended the sixth listening session held on Tuesday at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull.   Participants praised the excellence of Catholic schools, the increasing availability of Adoration Chapels, youth programs like “Convivio,” Fairfield County Catholic and the diocesan website and Facebook, pro-life and family ministries, and the work of Catholic Charities.

However, as in earlier session, many people voiced concerns about the large number of Catholics who no longer attend Mass or participate in parish life. This topic triggered a number of suggestions, including catechesis for parents during their children’s First Holy Communion and Confirmation classes; higher quality, and more modern, music during Mass—a topic that came up several times; the importance of sharing resources, like youth groups and Bible studies, between parishes; and the need to re-evangelize the people who are in the pews every week.

Input from the listening sessions is guiding the formulation of topics and themes to be discussed in the 4th Synod of the Diocese of Bridgeport, “Building a Bridge to the Future.” 

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and other leaders of Diocesan programs and ministries will attend the Listening Sessions to listen to comments about how the diocese can move forward and plan for the future.

During the sessions, speakers are asked to comment on the strengths of the diocese, ideas for new programs and outreach, and areas that need improvement.

Summaries of the listening sessions are available online at

Praise, concern voiced at sixth listening session
| June 19, 2014


TRUMBULL—Catholics in Vicariate IV expressed their praise and concerns for the ministries of the Diocese of Bridgeport at a listeningsession held at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull.

The vicariate is a microcosm of the diocese in its own right, stretching along its eastern edge from Bridgeport and Stratford to Shelton and including Trumbull and Monroe.

At nearly 300 strong, one of the largest listening sessions expressed gratitude for the dedication and inspiration of their priests. They praised the excellence of Catholic schools, the increasing availability of Adoration Chapels, youth programs like Convivio, Fairfield County Catholic and the diocesan website and Facebook, pro-life and family ministries, and the work of Catholic Charities.

A recurring concern, one that has arisen at every listening session, was the lack of attendance at Mass. “I’m 28 years old,” said one participant. “When I look around at Mass, I wonder—where are the people my age? What is the Church doing for young adults?”

He, and several others, noted the attraction of energetic Protestant denominations—not just to youth but to Catholics of all ages. “We need an aggressive campaign to find why people don’t come to Mass,” said another commentator.

This topic triggered a number of suggestions, including catechesis for parents during their children’s First Holy Communion and Confirmation classes; higher quality, and more modern, music during Mass—a topic that came up several times; the importance of sharing resources, likeyouth groups and Bible studies, between parishes; and the need to re-evangelize the people who are in the pews every week.

“We are a community of faith. We need to ask ourselves—who have I talked to today about my faith?” said Msgr. Chris Walsh, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Shelton.

At the end of the session, Bishop Caggiano summed up his experiences with the listening sessions to this point. “Each session has its own flavor,” he said, adding that they have given him the chance to “learn more about our lives together as sisters and brother in faith.”

When he considers the scope of the topics spoken at this and past sessions, with one more planned in Danbury, common areas of concern are beginning to arise. “The discernment of the Holy Spirit will help us to go forward,” he said. “We have many challenges. We will one by one begin to address them.”

When all concerns from the listening sessions have been collated, Bishop Caggiano will announce the major themes of Synod 2014 at a Solemn Vesper Service for the Solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul onSunday, June 29, at 7 pm in St. Augustine Cathedral. All the faithful are invited to attend.

Walking for Peace
| June 19, 2014


Rev Arthur Mollenhauer, Pastor of St. Benedict, and Mayor David
Martin and Fr. Rolando Torres. Photo by Sharon MacKnight

STAMFORD—On June 8, 2014 both communities of St. Mary and St. Benedict/Our Lady of Montserrat in Stamford walked together for the first time praying for peace and unity.

The main purpose of the walk was to create a conscience about peace and unity; to guide people in the experience of prayer and sacrifice; and to unite in our prayers.

On the same day of our Walk for Peace and Unity, Pope Francis met with the presidents of Palestine and Israel in the Vatican City asking for everyone in the world to pray for peace.

With the help of Father Arthur Mollenhauer and many volunteers, including donations, the Walk for Peace and Unity was a success. It was a moving experience to see children and adults, David Martin, the Mayor of Stamford, and many others praying and singing to the Lord. It was an experience of God in all senses. The day was perfect and to see how many people answered this call makes us realize the importance to pray for peace. We finished our walk with a BBQ that gave an excellent blessing to all of us on this wonderful day of prayer.

"Praying for peace and unity is a call necessary in our world today. We need more than ever to pray for peace as part of our mission as Catholics. We need to be part of this Revolution of Love that Pope Francis calls us to. A revolution to awaken the people and give example is our call. My thanks and prayers go to all of the organizers and those who marched with us," said Fr. Rolando Torres, Parochial Vicar of St. Benedict/Our Lady of Montserrat.

"God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God" Mat. 5,9

Vespers Service to open Synod 2014
| June 18, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—All are invited to attend the Synod 2014 Vespers prayer service for the Solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul on Sunday, June 29, 7 pm at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.

The evening prayer service will include hymns, psalms, scripture readings and a homily by Bishop Frank Caggiano.

After his homily the Bishop will also announce the major topics for the Synod based on the hundreds of comments and suggestions made at the listening sessions held throughout the diocese during the spring. Comments have also been submitted online through the diocesan website.
“It is fitting that we begin the Synod with prayer on the Feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the two great Apostles who represent the very foundations of the Church,” said Bishop Caggiano. “They are the solid rock on which the Church is built, and they remain our protectors.”
The Vespers service will bring together more than 300 Synod delegates for the first time along with pastors, clergy and religious throughout the diocese to pray for the success of the Synod.
During the listening sessions, Catholics throughout the diocese have offered suggestions on a wide range of issues including the need to welcome Catholics back to Church, to reach out to youth and young adults, to increase collaboration between parishes, and to offer new opportunities for lay spiritual formation.
The Synod will formally open on Saturday, September 20 when delegates convene for the 1st General Session at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull. The year-long process will conclude with a Closing Session in September 2015.
Bishop Caggiano officially convoked the 4th Diocesan Synod with an announcement in his February 22 letter that issued a challenge to all Catholics to help plan for the future of the diocese.
“Each generation and every age has faced its own difficulties; yet the gift of faith that has been placed into our heart by God always remains and must be passed into future generations,” he wrote.
For reports on the listening sessions and other information, visit the synod website:

Sixth Listening Session tonight
| June 16, 2014


FAIRFIELD—The sixth listening session for Synod 2014 is set for tonight, June 17, 7:30 pm at St. Catherine of Siena Family Center, 200 Shelton Road, Trumbull.

The listening session at St. Catherine's is open to the public and will run for about 90 minutes.

Parishioners from Vicariate 4, (Trumbull, Shelton, Bridgeport, Stratford, Monroe) will be given an opportunity to share their comments and thoughts about the Diocese and its future.

Input from area Catholics at the listening sessions is guiding the formulation of topics and themes to be discussed in the 4th Synod of the Diocese of Bridgeport, “Building a Bridge to the Future.”

In the first five sessions, those in attendance have expressed concern about the large number of Catholics who have left the Church and the need to better engage young people in parish life. Speakers have also called for increased religious education, a greater role for women in the local Church, more lay involvement in parish finances and business decisions to free up pastors for ministry, and new programs for young couples and families.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and other leaders of Diocesan programs and ministries will attend the Listening Sessions to listen to comments about how the diocese can move forward and plan for the future. “Since we expect a good turnout for the listening sessions and we wish to encourage as many people as possible to come forward, we have asked that speakers confine their comments within the context of the following three questions:

1. The strengths of the diocesan ministries are ____________________
2. I would like to see new diocesan outreach in ____________________
3. The diocese should improve the ministry by ____________________

The final listening session will be held this Saturday (June 21), 1 pm at Immaculate High School in Danbury. Summaries of the listening sessions are available online at

Those who are unable to attend the listening session can also submit your questions online in advances using Form LS (

St. Joseph tops Brookfield in Class S boys lacrosse final
| June 16, 2014 • by By Richard Gregory, Connecticut Post


NORWALK—The bitter taste left behind after losing a heartbreaker in last year's Class S state title game has been washed away for the St. Joseph High School boys lacrosse team—and replaced by the sweet taste of victory.

Ryan Corcoran scored seven goals and Josiah Wilson added two goals and seven assists as the eighth-seeded Cadets held off seventh-seeded Brookfield for a 14-11 victory in the Class S state championship game at McMahon High School Saturday.

And for those who experienced the disappointment of last year's 9-8 title-game defeat at the hands of Weston, Saturday's triumph couldn't have been more satisfying.

"It's all unreal," Wilson said. "Especially coming off a loss last year, and winning this year in such a close game, it's amazing."

Having lost a gut-wrenching battle in a state championship game last year may have actually benefited the Cadets this time around. They weren't overwhelmed by the magnitude or intensity of the game, and they didn't lose their confidence when they fell behind early.

"Last year, I think it would have been a different situation with a younger group," St. Joseph coach Joe Izzo said. "Because they had been here before, they were like, ‘Ok, let's just settle in and do what we do and get back to it.' I think the fact that they had been here last year helped them in that type of situation."

Also for St. Joseph, Jeff Marcantonio had a goal and two assists, Mike Sudora and Peter Bashar each had a goal and an assist and Mike Brennan and Chris Klabonski each scored a goal. Goalie Mike Braddick made five saves, and faceoff specialist Flippo Petrini won 17-of-24 draws and scooped up 14 ground balls.

"Faceoffs were a big game-changer today, and the ground-ball battle," Brookfield coach Brian Loftus said. "In the second half, we started winning more of those, but coming back from a (10-6) deficit like that at halftime was tough."

Andrew Collins led Brookfield with five goals and two assists, while Dane Heckmann had three goals and an assist. J.T. Redd, Liam Clancy and Thomas Petrellese each scored a goal and William Lawrence added an assist for the Bobcats. Goalie Daniel Dixon made 13 saves.

"I couldn't have asked for a better group of guys to have this year," said Loftus, who was a member of the 2001 Brookfield team that won the SWC title. "They always fight and they never give up. It's a tough one to eat right there, but I couldn't be prouder of these guys. This is the best season Brookfield lacrosse has ever had and the town has ever seen."

Brookfield opened the game on a high note, taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Collins and Heckmann. A five-goal outburst late in the first quarter put St. Joseph ahead. Sudora and Corcoran scored less than a minute apart to tie the game at 2 with 4:00 remaining in the first quarter. Wilson, Brennan and Corcoran each scored in a 57-second span to put the Cadets up 5-2.

"They weren't going to beat us 2-0," Corcoran said. "We knew we had to score more than two goals to win anyway. We just had to work harder to come back."

Brookfield never got closer than two goals for the rest of the game. The Bobcats continued to claw away, but every time they got close, St. Joseph had an answer.

"We never get flustered," Wilson said. "We trust our defense, they trust us. Flip did a great job at the X and got us the ball. We put a couple goals in and the defense made a few key stops. We just pulled it out."

Redd scored with nine seconds remaining in the first quarter to narrow Brookfield's gap to 5-3, but Klabonski and Wilson both scored in the first 1:10 of the second quarter to make it 7-3.

Collins scored two goals 23 seconds apart to trim the deficit to 7-5, but Corcoran answered with two of his own about a minute apart to make it 9-5. Marcantonio's goal with 1:26 remaining in the first half put the Cadets ahead 10-6 at halftime.

With the Cadets' possession game draining precious time off the clock in the fourth quarter, Petrellese scored to cut St. Joe's lead to 12-10 with 5:56 remaining. Corcoran answered less than three minutes later. Collins scored with 2:14 to go to bring Brookfield back within two, but Corcoran again answered, this time with 32 seconds to all but seal the deal.

"You know special groups when they come through, and this was a special group," Izzo said. "It had all the pieces. They were so dedicated. They did everything they asked them to do. They focused, they worked hard, they came out every day and they gave you everything that we asked from them. They gave it all."

Class S championship game
ST. JOSEPH 5 5 2 2 -- 14
BROOKFIELD 3 3 3 2 -- 11

Records: St. Joseph 15-6; Brookfield 16-7.

Scoring: SJ--Mike Sudora 1g, 1a; Ryan Corcoran 7g; Josiah Wilson 2g, 7a; Jeff Marcantonio 1g, 2a; Mike Brennan 1g; Chris Klabonski 1g; Peter Bashar 1g, 1a. B--Andrew Collins 5g, 2a; Dane Heckmann 3g, 1a; J.T. Redd 1g; William Lawrence 1a; Liam Clancy 1g; Thomas Petrellese 1g. Goalies: SJ--Mike Braddick (5 saves). B--Daniel Dixon (13 saves).

Saint Matthew Knights Salute Graduates
| June 16, 2014


NORWALK—On Tuesday, July 10, All Saints Catholic School’s Class of 2014 graduated at a beautiful ceremony in the school auditorium.

Six members of Bishop Fenwick Assembly #100 (all members of K of C Saint Matthew Council #14360) were in full regalia for the ceremony. Color Corps Commander Bill Berger led Sir Knights George Ribellino, Scott Criscuolo, Anthony Armentano, Scott Mazzo and Mike Colaluca in honoring the graduating class by taking part in the ceremony.

Grand Knight Ribellino also presented two $500 scholarships to a pair of deserving students who will be attending Catholic high schools. “It is an honor to be able to help two catholic students continue their academic as well as spiritual journey,” said Ribellino. “Seeing the class in their cap and gowns reminds me of when I graduated, and I am excited for them on the path they all continue to take.”
Starting in 2014-15, K of C Saint Matthew Council #14360 will name their annual scholarships in memory of Mario Mastracchio, the first Deputy Grand Knight of the council who passed away from Cancer in 2009.

Knights of Columbus St. Matthew Council #14360 is located in Norwalk and their fundraisers help many local organizations around the city, such as Malta House and Foster Care Agency of Connecticut. Check out for more information.

Ceremony Marks Opening Of Holy Innocents Faith Formation Center At St Rose
| June 16, 2014 • by By Eliza Hallabeck, The Newtown Bee


NEWTOWN—A dedication and blessing ceremony was conducted Saturday, June 7, for St Rose of Lima’s latest building, the Holy Innocents Faith Formation Center.

The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, presided over the blessing and dedication ceremony.

Construction of the building began last summer. As Monsignor Robert Weiss explained during the event, there were multiple construction projects running simultaneously at St Rose of Lima in the last year and a half, including work on security projects for St Rose of Lima School, the addition of a rectory office, the renovation of the rectory, and the work on the new Holy Innocents Faith Formation Center on the west side of the St Rose of Lima campus.

Msgr Weiss thanked all who helped the Holy Innocents Faith Formation Center come to fruition, including an anonymous benefactor, and all who helped in the construction and decoration of the facility.

The whole building is powered by solar energy, he added.

“You’re enjoying the lights and air conditioning today because God created the sun, and we’re using that energy for us,” said Msgr Weiss.

He also noted that the building will provide an area for special needs children.

“As you know, we have a great affection for special needs children in this parish community,” Msgr  Weiss said, adding there are also a number of children in the parish community with special needs. “It was our hope that if they had a building where they would feel comfortable, where they would be safe, where they would have easy access, that we would be able to bring these children to Christ.”

The building will additionally provide new reasons for coming together, Msgr Weiss said, which will help provide healing in a community still coming together in the wake of a tragedy.

“It’s our great hope that this building will be able to provide that opportunity for this community and for all who enter our doors,” he said.

The name Holy Innocents Faith Formation Center, the monsignor explained, honors all children who lost their lives, and “reminds us that here there is hope, there here there is blessing. In the midst of so much darkness that here there is light. And I hope that all who come here will continue to reflect that light, because we need it.”

Bishop Caggiano noted that the first gathering in the building celebrated light, life, faith, hope, joy, “and the promise the Lord gives us that the light will always come through the darkness.”

Newly ordained deacons urged to live what they preach
| June 15, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano told two transitional deacons to use the great gift of the priesthood to serve others in sacrificial love throughout their lives, in a Mass and ordination rite at St. Augustine Cathedral this morning.

Before family, friends and priests throughout the Diocese, David peter Clark of Danbury and Carl Dennis McIntosh of New York were ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacon, the last step on the way to their ordination as priests next June.

“This is a noble and beautiful moment, not just for you but in the life of the entire Church,” Bishop Caggiano said in his homily. “You will have the privilege of preaching… Become a living Gospel to the world. The power of preaching does not lie in your words but in the integrity of your life.”

The Bishop said that in his first 15 months as Holy Father, Pope, Francis has taught us “that for many, love is just a word, and most people don’t feel loved. It’s for you to make real the sacrament of God’s love through your generous service.”

“You may be thinking, ‘Am I ready.’ Nobody is ready for so awesome a gift. Are you worthy? No one is worthy myself included, but God loves us wildly. He will give us every grace to service,” the Bishop said. During the rite of ordination of Deacon, the men responded, “I do” to a series of resolves to live a holy, chaste and obedient life.

"Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, reach what you believe, and practice what you teach,” Bishop Caggiano, said at the conclusion of the ordination rite as he presented the Book of the Gospel to the men.

During the Mass, Mrs. Sandy S. Clark, mother of Deacon David Clark, read the epistle. Leonard McIntosh, brother of Deacon Carl McIntosh brought forth the gifts with Carol Kassten.

After Mass, Bishop Caggiano thanked family members for “giving us thus these two great gifts to the Church.” As light drenched the gray granite blocks of the historic cathedral after a week of rain and fog, the men processed out to warm applause under a brilliant sun for well wishes and photos with the Bishop.

David Clark, 30, was born and raised in Danbury, attending St. Peter School there and graduating from Immaculate High School in 2002. He graduated from the Catholic University in Washington, D.C., in 2006 with a concentration in history.

A visit to St. John Fisher Residence in Stamford reinforced his commitment to a vocation to the priesthood. He entered Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., where he will complete his studies in 2015.

A summer assignment in 2013 introduced him to St. Joseph Parish in Brookfield with Father Chip O’Neill and Msgr. Edward Scull. The two priests have had a powerful influence on the growth of his vocation, and he now considers St. Joseph’s as his home parish.

Carl McIntosh, 63, grew up in New York City. He graduated from Fordham Prep in the Bronx and Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. After working in as a manager in a Manhattan corporation and playing piano in the U.S. Army band, stationed at Ft. Lee, Va., he attended law school at the College of William and Mary. Among his later positions, he was legal secretary to Rudolph Giuliani, former mayor of New York.

A pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City bore the fruit of his decision to enter the seminary. St. Lawrence Parish in Huntington is now his home parish.


Click to see the slideshow

Msgr. Wissel retires
| June 13, 2014 • by By Joseph McAleer


On Mother’s Day, May 11, Bishop Frank Caggiano dedicated a new
statue of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in front of Saint Mary
Church in Greenwich. The statue honors Msgr. Frank Wissel (left),
who is retiring after 17 years as pastor.  (Photo by John Glover)

GREENWICH—On the occasion of the retirement of Msgr. Frank Wissel as pastor of Saint Mary Parish in Greenwich, a marble statue of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal has been erected outside of the church, overlooking Greenwich Avenue.

It was donated anonymously by a parish couple in honor of Msgr. Wissel and in gratitude to Our Lady for her intercession in the healing of cancer patients. Msgr. Wissel retired as pastor on June 15, after serving the parish for 17 years.

The statue was dedicated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano on a festive Mother’s Day, May 11, with many parishioners and well-wishers looking on. Carved from Carrara marble by the Arrighini Family of Pietrasanta, Italy, the one-ton statue is an exact replica of the one in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal on the Rue de Bac in Paris, France. The chapel is where Our Lady appeared to Saint Catherine Labouré in1830, encouraging her to create the medal.

Msgr. Wissel believes the statue will be the source of many blessings, as well as a powerful witness to passersby on the busy shopping street. “It’s beautifully done, a unique gift given by a very special couple,” he says. “I never expected it to be dedicated to me. In Brooklyn you’d have to be dead 30 years for that to happen!”

A native of Brooklyn, Msgr. Wissel, 76, was ordained to the priesthood in 1977 by Bishop Walter Curtis. He holds a doctorate in psycho-theology and ministry from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, CA.

Msgr. Wissel was the principal of Kolbe Cathedral High School in Bridge­port from1981-1991. While there he founded the St. Maximilian Kolbe House of Studies for Boys in Bridgeport, designed to educate young men in a family setting. In 1991 he was named Chaplain to His Holi­ness, Pope John Paul II, carry­ing the title of Monsignor.

Appointed pastor of Saint Mary’s in 1997, Msgr. Wissel expanded the number of parish programs and organizations and established a fund to assist the needy, including the large immigrant community. All of this was accomplished, he notes, through the “overwhelming” generosity of parishioners in devoting their time, talent, and resources.

Running a successful parish, Msgr. Wissel says, is a team effort between clergy and qualified lay people. “You have to delegate, and you have to affirm people when they are doing a good job,” he says.

Most of all, he says, a pastor needs to be present. “Serve and love the people,” he says. “Try and absorb all their pains and sufferings. And let them know you really do love and care about them, and you’re happy to be there.”

For many years Msgr. Wissel wrote a popular column in the Greenwich Citizen newspaper. Recently, he offered sound advice that expresses his philosophy of life. “God has given us the Bible,” he wrote. “We are, indeed, our brother’s keeper. We have a choice, being blessed with many things, but unless we share them with the needy, all is for nothing.”

Bishop Caggiano has named Father Cyprian LaPastina, formerly pastor of Saint Gabriel Parish in Stamford and a former parochial vicar at Saint Mary’s, as the new pastor.

Notre Dame High School recognized for 26 Acts of Kindness Campaign
| June 12, 2014


FAIRFIELD—On June 10, Notre Dame High School received the Challenge to Educational Citizenship Award from the Connecticut State Department of Education and the State Student Advisory Council on Education for their 26 Acts of Kindness Campaign.

Student activities which represented good citizenship, a commitment to others, civic awareness, leadership, responsibility and teamwork, and that provide opportunities for students to help others, were eligible for this award.

Notre Dame was one of twelve schools from across the state selected to be recognized (and one of only four high schools represented). Nearly 60 schools submitted programs for consideration. Principal Chris Cipriano (second from right), Father Peter Cipriani (r), Sean Cronan '14, Mike DeGennaro '14, and Emmett Whelan '14 attended the ceremony at the Capitol and received the award from State Education Commissioner Stefon Pryor.

Msgr. Weiss celebrates new Faith Formation Center
| June 12, 2014


NEWTOWN—“Our gratitude this weekend is given in a very special way to the benefactors of our new HOLY INNOCENTS FAITH FORMATION CENTER.

This is another gift from the Lord through the hearts of this family. This new center will enable us to keep the SPIRIT alive here at Saint Rose by providing programs and ministries that will strengthen our faith lives. It is also a center where our children with special needs will have an opportunity to learn about their faith and prepare for the sacraments as caring catechists guide them through their journey of faith.

It is also a building named in honor of innocence lost by the disregard of human life and where we will be able to not just remember but remind ourselves daily of our Church’s teaching on the issues of life and the gift of life as given to us by God. Like the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to us on Pentecost, this center is given to us to remind us that we are never alone in faith; there is always a hand to guide us to truth if we simply choose to take hold of it. We welcome Bishop Caggiano as he prays God’s blessings on our new building. A formal open house of this new facility will take place in the fall for those who were not able to attend this weekend’s blessing and dedication ceremony.

Center named for Holy Innocents
| June 12, 2014


NEWTOWN—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano is joined by the St. Rose of Lima Children's Choir and their pastor, Msgr. Robert Weiss, to officially open the brand new Holy Innocents Faith Formation Center.

Msgr. Weiss celebrates new Faith Formation Center

Ceremony Marks Opening Of Holy Innocents Faith Formation Center At St Rose

The blessing and dedication ceremony was held Saturday June 7 to celebrate the gift to the parish as a community of faith.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna

Our Graphic Design Summer Intern
| June 11, 2014


Since her freshman year of college, Anna Lynette Speight has been looking for a graphic design summer internship. This summer, she is utilizing her graphic design and creative talents at the Catholic Center, in the Office of Communications, where the Fairfield County Catholic is produced. The Office of Communications also manages the diocesan website and engages in social media outreach.

In addition to the newspaper and Internet, Catholic Center employees and staff (including Bishop Caggiano) look to creative art director Brian A. Wallace to help them with design planning and distribution strategies. This summer, Brian is Anna’s supervisor, and he is impressed with her contributions. “Anna is proving very capable and well-prepared,” he said. “She takes initiative and has a lot of energy. She is a real self-starter.”

A 2011 graduate of Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford, Anna will be entering her senior year this fall at Montserrat College of Art, in Beverly, MA. Her major is “Illustration,” and her minor is “Creative Writing.” She is already employing her collegiate knowledge at the Catholic Center!

Her first big project was to help design and print the thank-you signs for the Catholic Charities golf tournament. Her artwork and design could be seen from tee to green on the golf course, undoubtedly making the sponsors very happy!

Now she is working on an even more important project. Brian has given her the task of helping to redesign the St. Augustine Medal that is given to outstanding parishioners from every parish each fall. Anna drew an image of St. Augustine from another image and then she used her computer skills to create a stylized graphic art image of St. Augustine that will be used to create the new medals.

Anna has only been here a few weeks and already her artwork and design skills will have a lasting impact on the life of the diocese!

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Spanish Speaking Catholics add their voices to synod listening sessions
| June 11, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Spanish-speaking Catholics throughout the diocese expressed many of the same concerns articulated at earlier listening sessions and also brought forward some unique issues and hopes at the fifth listening session for Synod 2014 held at the Catholic Center on Sunday night.

More than 150 men women attended the special session held in Spanish, a language that is common to an estimated 25% of Catholics across the diocese. They addressed their remarks to Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and Synod 2014 Commission members.

“Besides comments on issues specific to the Spanish-speaking community, it should not come as a surprise that most of the concerns that were brought up by those attending this session apply to the Catholic Community in general:  A deep desire for evangelization, Catholic education of children and youth and the need for strengthening Christian family values; our faith needs to be at the center of our lives,” said Fr. Gustavo Falla, Vicar for Spanish-speaking Catholics in the diocese.

Yet speakers also expressed a need for the diocese to develop a greater capacity for serving the Spanish speaking, and to develop programs that support their practice of the faith in ways that are familiar to their different cultures and traditions.

“From the need for having counseling services offered to the uninsured through Catholic Charities, to a request for a Spanish-speaking voice on the other side of phone when callers dial the Catholic Center, people were able to present a case for Spanish-speaking Catholics in the Fairfield County community,” Fr. Falla said.

Many speakers also cited examples of how it is that Francis, the first Latin-American Pope is challenging the Universal Church through his earnest call for action, fidelity to Jesus and to the Gospel.

Participants also voiced the concern for the number of Catholics leaving for Protestant and Evangelical congregations.

The evening began with speakers praising diocesan programs such as the Lenten Confession Campaign; Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and Children and parish catechesis; St. John Fisher Seminary; ministry to those preparing for marriage; formation opportunities for parish lay leaders; presence of religious communities; youth programs; social outreach programs; social justice and immigration services.

Like other speakers throughout the diocese, Hispanic participants said they thought the Church should put a major emphasis on ministry to the divorced and separated; education of parents on how to bring up children in the faith; increased scholarships for Catholic school education for those who cannot afford it; support to parents of teen-agers; a program on intimacy and chastity for the youth; allocation of diocesan funds for the education of catechists; and better use of mass media and outreach to the most vulnerable in society.

After a whole hour of listening had passed, Bishop Caggiano was particularly attentive to the many passionate comments being made and the suggestions for improvement that represented the final portion of the listening session.

“The third question on how diocesan ministry should improve allowed for people to show how much they really care for the Church and how it is that they are willing to take active roles in effecting change,” said Fr. Falla, noting that many speakers went over the time limit to express their hopes, and all were given an opportunity to speak.

“Challenging as the present might be for the Church in Fairfield County all Catholics, regardless of ethnicity, race, language or age, the Synod gives us very good reasons to hope for a better future,” he said.  

Msgr. Dariusz Zielonka moderated the discussion. He was joined by  Synod Commission members Carol Pinard of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan, Damien O’Connor, Senior Director of the diocesan office of Pastoral Services, Deacon John Rodriguez of St. Peter Parish in Bridgeport, Sister Rita Petrarca of St. Joseph Parish in Shelton, Martha Missimer of St. Patrick Parish in Redding Ridge. A translator also sat at the head table.

The remaining listening sessions are set Tuesday, June 17,  7:30 pm at St. Catherine of Siena Family Center in Trumbull; and  Saturday June 21, 1:00 pm at Immaculate High School in Danbury. 

For more information and visit the Synod 2014 website at

Leaders of Tomorrow
| June 10, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Despite the rain coming down outside, the mood was all joy and sunshine recently when Sarita Hanley of Stamford, CT, met Nahiser, the student she sponsors through the Catholic Academies of Bridgeport's Leaders of Tomorrow program, for the first time earlier this month.

BRIDGEPORT—Despite the rain coming down outside, the mood was all joy and sunshine recently when Sarita Hanley of Stamford, CT, met Nahiser, the student she sponsors through the Catholic Academies of Bridgeport's Leaders of Tomorrow program, for the first time earlier this month.

Launched in April of 2013 with 21 individuals sponsoring 23 students, the Leaders of Tomorrow has grown this year to 40 donors sponsoring 39 students, with 70% of sponsors re-committing to sponsor a child.

Sponsors pay anywhere between $1,000 and $4,000 a year, depending on whether full or partial scholarships are chosen, to help educate a child in one of the Bridgeport Catholic elementary schools.

Hanley, originally from Puerto Rico and a native Spanish speaker, was delighted she was able to select a child in need who also spoke Spanish. It was love at first sight for she and Nahiser when they met on school grounds, and Hanley even left the first grader with a little stuffed rabbit to have and to hold long after the visit ended.

The Catholic Academies of Bridgeport, include Cathedral Academy with two campuses in the Hollow section of the city, St. Ann Academy in Black Rock and St Andrew Academy in the North End, as well as several of our neighboring Catholic elementary schools, are serving over 1200 students from Bridgeport alone, more than half of whom benefit from financial assistance.   

To find out more about the Leaders of Tomorrow program, please call 203.416.1466 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Christianity is hands-on action, not school of thought, pope says
| June 09, 2014 • by By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Being a good Christian demands concrete action and deeds, Pope Francis said.

And, he said, the "how-to" manual is found in the beatitudes and the Last Judgment, which spells out the consequences awaiting those who fail to help others in need.

Jesus offers a guide to life that is "so simple, but very difficult," the pope said June 9 during his early morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.

It's difficult because Christianity is "a hands-on religion; it isn't for thinking about, it's for putting into practice, to do it," he said in his homily, according to a report by Vatican Radio.

The pope focused his homily on the day's Gospel reading from St. Matthew in which Jesus teaches the beatitudes, which begin, "Blessed are the poor in spirit."

The beatitudes are the "program" and "the identity card" for every Christian, outlining a step-by-step guide to being "a good Christian," he said.

Jesus' teaching goes "very much against the tide" of a worldly culture, he said, in which monetary wealth, superficial joy and personal satisfaction are the measures of happiness and success.

But "blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," he said, and "blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted."

People who face reality and life's big and small difficulties will mourn in their hearts, but they will also find consolation in Jesus, the pope said.

Most of the world, on the other hand, "doesn't want to cry, it prefers to ignore painful situations and cover them up" or just turn the other way and pretend they're not there, he said.

Jesus also says, "Blessed are the meek in this world that, from the beginning, is a world of war, a world where people everywhere fight, where there is hatred everywhere," the pope said.

Jesus, however, wants people to be meek, even if everyone "will think that I'm a dolt."

The world has become all about "business" and deal-making while "so many people suffer" from so many injustices.

Even though "it's very easy to slip into corrupt cabals" and fall into the "daily politics of 'do ut des,'" the give-and-take of exchanging favors, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who fight for justice, the pope said.

Jesus never said, "Blessed are those who wreak revenge," but rather, blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Those who forgive, understand the mistakes others have made, the pope said, underlining how "we are all part of an army of people who have been forgiven. We have all been forgiven."

He said blessed are the clean of heart, those who have "a simple heart" and a heart that "knows to love with purity," for they will see God.

Today, it's all too common to be "makers of war or at least makers of misunderstanding," the pope said. Instead, blessed are the peacemakers.

Gossip and backstabbing are another form of warmongering, he said.

"These people who gossip do not make peace, they are enemies of peace. They are not blessed."

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, he said, as theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Pope Francis said the beatitudes are "the program of life that Jesus offers us."

He said, "If we want something more, Jesus also gives us other instructions" in the "Judgment of the Nations" in later chapters of St. Matthew's Gospel.

People should remember the "protocol by which we will be judged" -- by what everyone has done or didn't do for the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the ill and the imprisoned, he said.

He asked that people find the time to read the beatitudes and the final judgment "once, twice, three times."

By following these two teachings, "you can live a holy Christian life," the pope said.

St. Rose of Lima School announces winners of Annual Art Show
| June 05, 2014


NEWTOWN—St. Rose of Lima School’s Annual Art Show and Juried Competition, held in May, featured over 1000 pieces of art from students in Kindergarten through grade eight. Seventh-grader Chase Harper took home Best in Show for his painting, “Beach.”

The school’s art teacher, Samantha Kohler, explained this year’s theme: “The theme of this year’s show was Nature and the theme for the juried portion was Nature’s Drama. Each grade created a different type of owl, from oil pastels to clay sculptures. What they created was filled with colorful and truly lovely expressions of nature and the drama it conveys. It was such a beautiful showing for all the students.”

The school’s art teacher, Samantha Kohler, explained this year’s theme: “The theme of this year’s show was Nature and the theme for the juried portion was Nature’s Drama.  Each grade created a different type of owl, from oil pastels to clay sculptures. What they created was filled with colorful and truly lovely expressions of nature and the drama it conveys. It was such a beautiful showing for all the students.”

Students in Grades Six, Seven and Eight each had the opportunity to submit their creations in six areas: Design, Drawing, Photography, Painting, Sculpture or Mixed Media All.

“We congratulate the winners and all the students for their exceptional efforts and expressions,” says Principal Mary Maloney.

Winners were announced at the culmination of the Art Show:

Best in Show: Chase Harper for “Beach”, Painting

Best of 6th Grade: Adam Kliczewski for “Dreams”, Mixed Media
Best of 7th Grade: Gavin Connors for “Tranquility”, Photography
Best of 8th Grade: Emma Boushie for “Field of Dreams”, Photography

Best of Design: Olivia Cavallero for “Nature’s Tears”, Photography
Best of Photography: Olivia Heineken for “The Tree of Wisdom”, Painting
Best of Painting: Lauren Barrett for “Wise Eyes of F-Men”, Drawing
Best of Sculpture: Michael Bachmann for “Peacock Mask”, Sculpture

Honorable Mention Sculpture: Erin Sudbey for “Floating”, Photography
Honorable Mention Painting: Carla Fabrizio for “Sunset Over the Hills”, Photography
Honorable Mention Collage/Mixed Media: Ethan Bick for “Whale”, Painting

Commencement Held for Lauralton Hall Class of 2014
| June 05, 2014


MILFORD—On June 1 Lauralton presented diplomas to 119 young women from several towns across Connecticut.

Click here to see a slideshow of photos from Lauralton’s graduation.

President Antoinette Iadarola, Ph.D. gave the opening and closing remarks and, along with Chairman of the Board of Trustees Michael Amato and Principal Ann Pratson, presented the graduates with their diplomas.

The Catherine McAuley Award, Lauralton’s highest honor, is named for the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy and is given to a student for her commitment to Lauralton’s mission, her academic performance, her spirit of volunteerism and a value system that responds to others with compassion, courage and genuine graciousness. This year the award went to Kimberly Pritchard of Milford.

This year’s Valedictorian was Ann Marie Guzzi of Fairfield. In her address, Ann Marie assured her classmates that they are not the center of everything, and even though Lauralton was the center of their universe over the past four years, they should not be afraid of what an uncertain future may bring. “But there is one thing that is the center of everything—passion. Love, hate, rage, joy, passion and gravitational attraction keep the world spinning,” she stated. “Follow a dream for the sheer belief that you think this dream, this passion, is the single best way you can leave your mark on this world, this world that will keep spinning without us.”

Salutatorian, Jeanne-Claire (JC) Vincent of Stamford, spoke highly of Lauralton when she mentioned some of the highlights of the past four years in her address to the class. “We have been nurtured to be empowered, educated and well-mannered young women but we have also been challenged to be ambitious, determined and successful,” she reminded her peers. “We are refined and strong-willed. We can fight for what we believe in but do so courteously and with grace.”

This commencement was dedicated to Principal Ann Pratson, who after 35 years at Lauralton, is retiring. She and French teacher Dr. Regina Moller, who is also retiring after 30 years, were presented with roses.

Bonds of friendship formed early
| June 04, 2014


STAMFORD—Back on August 26, 1999, three students began pre-school as three year olds at Our Lady of Fatima School in Wilton.

On Saturday, May 31, they walked across the stage at Trinity Catholic High School to receive their diplomas.

James Conlon, Jr., Kaitlyn Prackup and Peter Soucy have been together for fifteen years in Catholic Education. The bonds that were formed early in their childhood have kept them grounded in faith, family, and friendship. While they all received an excellent faith based education from Our Lady of Fatima and Trinity Catholic Middle School, they also received something invaluable—a deep-rooted foundation of Christian values and a knowledge that we are all part of God's family. They have grown together, learned together, and stayed together as a family, because that is what they are to each other. As they go their separate ways in the fall, they go with the understanding that they will always be there to support each other through thick and thin. As Our Lady of Fatima’s pastor, Father Reginald Norman, told them at the Baccalaureate Mass, "You can come home again—and you should". (Photos by Mary Rooney & Gina O'Sullivan)

Click here to see photos from Trinity Catholic High School’s graduation. Photos by Lindsay Perry, the Stamford Advocate.

Diocese honors Consecrated Life
| June 04, 2014


WESTPORT—On May 21, one hundred fifty Religious gathered for the annual Mass celebrating Consecrated Life, followed by a festive dinner, at Saint Luke Parish, Westport.

There are 31 communities of Women and Men Religious represented in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

The main celebrant was Bishop Frank J. Caggiano who, in his homily, compared the various charisms of Religious congregations, which are their gifts to the Church, to the colors of a prism. The Religious in the diocese are active in many traditional ministries such as school teaching and administration on all levels, running  diocesan offices,  catechetics and nursing and pastoral hospital work. They also work in a variety ministry and outreach, including counseling for Pro-Life choices, lobbying at the UN, doing prison ministry and planning retreats.

Click here to view a slideshow.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna

| June 04, 2014


Wildflowers and corn stalks.

Planters with lemon trees and grass.

Monica in a good mood.

Advertising Manager Ralph Lazzaro.

When I was deciding what to write for my blog today, I had several options. Last night, the fourth Listening Session was held for the Synod, at St. Thomas in Fairfield. Among the heavy topics I considered writing about today included ongoing formation for priests, genuflecting versus bowing, the importance of the tabernacle versus altar, and on a lighter note, the importance of good air-conditioning whenever a large group gathers.

Regarding air-conditioning, I noticed that having fresh air circulating during a listening session keeps people in a better mood. At one of the listening sessions, the venue was very stuffy, and the attendees were in a grumpier mood because of it. Ongoing clergy formation, reverential postures and liturgical sanctuary theology will have to wait for another day.

Last night, I told myself that I was not going to say anything, but like a true Irishman, when they are passing the microphone around, it was just too difficult to resist saying something. When I stood to speak, the first thing I did was plug my blog! Whenever I am speaking in front of a large group these days, I make it a point to plug my blog. After I sat down, one of the next speakers referred to me as Fr. Blog. I hope that nickname does not stick!

If you are one of my loyal readers, you can help promote my blog by copying our web link ( and emailing it to your friends and associates. We are doing our best to keep our website fresh and up to date, so if you want hyper-local news (and blogging), please check us out. I also get paid by how many people click on my blog (just kidding!), so please click on my blog many times a day.

In the end, I decided that I would revisit an earlier post and update the progress of my deck garden. If you look at my list of posts you can click on "Late Spring Deck Garden" to see earlier photos of my plantings. The photos on the right represent my planter with corn stalks and wild flowers and all of my planters in a row, with grass and lemon trees in them.

This morning when I took the photos of my plants, one of my cats, Monica, was in a cooperative mood, lying nearby, and she posed for a portrait. Monica is about 11 years old and I got her from a shelter for cats located behind Wilton Town Hall called "Animals in Distress" ( A few days ago, I took her to the vet, Dr. Paula Belknap, at Cannondale Animal Clinic in Wilton (cannondaleanimalclinic., and Dr. Belknap informed us that Monica is now officially "overweight." In charity, the photo I am posting does not show Monica's complete girth.

Dr. Belknap said that I had to put Monica on a strict diet of special canned food with no dry food. I told Dr. Belknap that Monica simply would not tolerate that. Monica is basically a good-natured kitty, but if she does not get her way, she can become spiteful and even vengeful. Denying her dry food—which she loves—would create major problems for me. Dr. Belknap does not have to live with Monica, but I do!

We decided instead that I reduce the amount of dry food that I give Monica. So far, that seems to be working pretty well.

One reason I am writing about Dr. Belknap in my blog today is that she recently signed an agreement to place ads in the next three issues of the Fairfield County Catholic. One of her ads can be seen on the right. She met with our advertising manager, Ralph Lazzaro, who drove to Wilton to meet personally with her, and now Cannondale Animal Clinic is Fairfield County Catholic's newest advertiser!

In all seriousness, please support those who advertise with Fairfield County Catholic in print and/or online. If you own a business or manage an advertising budget or have any reason to advertise, please contact Ralph Lazzaro at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 203.416.1462. Pastors in particular are encouraged to place ads in print and/or online before upcoming parish events that they want to publicize. The paper itself is directly mailed to over 100,000 households each month and the diocesan website gets over 20,000 hits per month and that number is growing rapidly. Coming soon, advertisers will be offered the option to place zip-code specific inserts in the print edition.

If you would like to contact me with comments, critiques or even suggested topics for future blog posts, you can reach me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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4th session focuses on deepening faith, reaching out
| June 03, 2014


FAIRFIELD—In the fourth and largest listening session for Synod 2014 held last night at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, participants asked for more sharing between parishes, a new generation of programs to reach high school students and young adults, and an outreach to divorced Catholics.

More than 260 people filled the school hall to share their thoughts and feelings about the local church with Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and the Synod Commission, which listened attentively from the stage.
In a little more than 90 minutes, the men and women in attendance offered 110 comments on a variety of topics ranging from the need for improved parish and diocesan communications, religious education programs that speak to contemporary families, and the need to build a bridge between affluent and poor parishes.
“Now, after four sessions, I think we’re beginning to see some commonality in the themes beginning to arise and where they connect. You’ve taught me a great deal in all of our sessions. Some things resonate in my head and others are new to me,” said Bishop Caggiano.
“I’m extremely excited and very hopeful that when we come out of this we’ll have a road map, though it won’t be easy to follow,” he said, noting that faith and prayer will help overcome all challenges as the diocese plans for the future.
The bishop invited everyone in attendance and all Catholics throughout the Diocese to attend the Synod Vespers Service on June 29, 7 to 9 pm at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the Apostles.
As many of the speakers introduced themselves, it was clear that they had traveled from all over the diocese for the opportunity to play a role in the future of the local Church.  
In addition to speakers from Fairfield and Bridgeport, parishioners from New Canaan, Greenwich, Darien, Redding, and Norwalk, who weren’t able to make the meetings in their own vicariates, offered their suggestions for change and improvement during the evening.
Through their many different comments and questions, speakers articulated the need for liturgies, homilies and ministries that deepen their spirituality and also renew and expand their knowledge of the Catholic Church.
In a relaxed session that was filled with humor along with insight and candor, participants had much good to say about the diocese including its programs for seminarians, the quality of Catholic schools, the importance of Catholic Charities programs, the availability of Mass and the sacraments, the annual Confession Campaign, “Share” and other religious education efforts, and the “Convivio” rally for youths,
Many of the comments during the evening were focused on the need to speak to youth in a language that engages them and makes them life-long Catholics. Both men and women speakers said that the Church starts to lose young people as early as middle school, and definitely needs to do better with high school and college students.
Echoing a comment heard in other synod sessions, Jackie Musante of the Cathedral Parish said that she would like to see the diocese play a more prominent role in interfaith cooperation.
“At one time we did a wonderful job in this area but we seem to have forgotten how to do it. We hear exciting things coming out of the Vatican but nothing from the diocese.
Dee Cortello, also of the Cathedral Parish, said that many of the children in Religious Education classes have divorced parents who feel a “little like outcasts. If we want forgiveness, that’s where we have to start.”
Cora Anne of St. Thomas asked for more mission and novenas “that give us some spark” in the expression of faith.
Diane Feckety of St. Anne Parish in Black Rock urged the diocese to launch a media campaign that encourages Catholic to attend Mass by giving them positive reasons to understand what they’re missing. Another speaker said the diocese have it own radio station.
Those in poorer parishes wanted more outreach to families affected by violence, opportunities to get to know other young couples in affluent parishes, and spiritual programs that reach out to them.
Angelo Cocco of St. Margaret Shrine of Bridgeport said the wealth gap in the county needs to be bridged. “You can go from absolute wealth to abject poverty in 22 minutes,” he said, asking if the diocese had the understanding of graphics to more effectively communicate and bring the diocese together.
A young mother from St. Thomas Parish encouraged parishes to make better use of social media. That’s what are kids are looking at all the time, but we’re still handing out paper parish bulletins.”
Msgr. Dariusz Zielonka moderated the discussion. He was joined by  Synod Commission members Carol Pinard of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan, Damien O’Connor, Senior Director of the diocesan office of Pastoral Services, Deacon John Rodriguez of St. Peter Parish in Bridgeport, Sister Rita Petrarca of St. Joseph Parish in Shelton, Martha Missimer of St. Patrick Parish in Redding Ridge, and diocesan Chancellor Anne McCrory. 

The remaining listening sessions are set Sunday, June 8, 5:00 pm for the Hispanic Community at The Catholic Center (Queen of Saints Hall); Tuesday, June 17,  7:30 pm at St. Catherine of Siena Family Center in Trumbull; and  Saturday June 21, 1:00 pm at Immaculate High School in Danbury. 

For more information and visit the Synod 2014 website at

Congratulations and Farewell
| June 03, 2014


DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT—Caps tossed in the air. Shouts of joy.

The class of 2014 is graduating. It’s a moment both joyous and, if truth be told, scary. The future is now.

Graduation ceremonies at the five diocesan high school began with Notre Dame, Fairfield, on May 30 and St. Joseph, Trumbull, on May 31. Others will follow within the week. Bishop Frank Caggiano celebrated the Baccalaureate Mass at Notre Dame was on hand to present diplomas at St. Joseph’s. To these graduates, and all those receiving diplomas this spring, the Diocese of Bridgeport gives a round of vigorous applause as they move on to their next stage in life.

Click here to see photos from St. Joseph’s High School graduation. Photos by Autumn Driscoll, CT Post

Click here to see photos from Notre Dame High School’s graduation. Photos by Christian Abraham, CT Post

Listening Session for the Synod Tonight At St. Thomas in Fairfield
| June 02, 2014


FAIRFIELD—The third listening session for Synod 2014 is set for tonight, 7:30 pm at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 1719 Post Road Fairfield.

Tonight’s listening session at St. Thomas is open to the public and will run for about 90 minutes. Parishioners from Vicariate 3 (Fairfield, Bridgeport, Easton) will be given an opportunity to share their comments and thoughts about the

Input from area Catholics at the listening sessions is guiding the formulation of topics and themes to be discussed in the 4th Synod of the Diocese of Bridgeport, “Building a Bridge to the Future.”

In the first three sessions, Catholic those in attendance have expressed concern about the large number of Catholics who have left the Church and the need to better engage young people in parish life. Speakers have also called for increased religious education, a greater role for women in the local Church, more lay involvement in parish finances and business decisions to free up pastors for ministry, and new programs for young couples and families.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and other leaders of Diocesan programs and ministries will attend the Listening Sessions to listen to comments about how the diocese can move forward and plan for the future.

“Since we expect a good turnout for the listening sessions and we wish to encourage as many people as possible to come forward, we have asked that speakers confine their comments within the context of the following three questions:

1. The strengths of the diocesan ministries are ____________________
2. I would like to see new diocesan outreach in ____________________

3. The diocese should improve the ministry by ____________________

We hope that this format will allow as many as possible to present their thoughts publicly in a few words,” said Msgr. Dariusz, Synod Director.

Summaries of the first three listening sessions are available online at 

Those who are unable to attend the listening session can also submit your questions online in advances using Form LS (

Though paths to priesthood vary, desire for ordination is constant
| May 30, 2014 • by By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service


WASHINGTON—Despite varying paths to the priesthood, the burning desire for ordination as the culmination of their discernment over a vocation is the one constant among many in the current group of men being ordained as priests.

At just 25 years old, Father Brad Zamora, ordained May 17 for the Archdiocese of Chicago, is a bit of a throwback. In an earlier time, most new priests were his age. This year the median age is 32.

Two priests at his home parish in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood approached him when he was in eighth grade and told him they thought he would make a good priest.

"That was all it took, really, and I entered high school seminary, Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary, the following August," he told Catholic News Service in an email exchange May 21. Although he was in Washington, he could not break away from the eighth graders from Sts. Faith, Hope and Charity School in Winnetka, Illinois, he had been chaperoning in the nation's capital.

But for Deacon Rusty Vincent, who will be ordained a priest May 31 for the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi, "I never thought about becoming a priest when I was growing up. It was not until college. It shows that God can call us at any moment in our lives." He made his comments to the Mississippi Catholic, Jackson's diocesan newspaper.

He is one of three priests being ordained for Jackson -- a rich harvest for a diocese that had not seen a priestly ordination in years. Father Zamora is part of the nation's largest diocesan priestly ordination class at 12, but even that figure doesn't replace the number of priests in Chicago who retire or die each year.

Dominican Father Peter Martyr Yungwirth -- his given name is Patrick but Dominicans take on a new name as they approach priesthood -- told CNS the day before his May 23 ordination that he had "gotten out of a relationship with a girlfriend" and was sensing a call to a priestly vocation, which he did not want. "I wanted to marry and have a family," he recounted.

But the priest he consulted about this dilemma advised him to discern the priestly vocation. If priesthood was for him, it would make the discernment process quicker; if it wasn't, then he could tell his future children what he understood about priesthood.

"I spent the whole fall semester fighting with the Lord," Father Yungwirth said. God won. What won him over was seeing a TV miniseries in December 2005 on the life of St. John Paul II.

Another new Dominican priest, Father Cajetan Cuddy, was born in South Korea, and adopted and raised by evangelical parents. During his first semester at an evangelical school, Grove City College in Pennsylvania, he befriended one of the sons of Scott Hahn, who had been a Presbyterian minister before joining the Catholic Church.

Father Cuddy, whose baptismal name is Christopher, met the elder Hahn, quickly became convinced that the Catholic Church was best suited for him, and transferred from the evangelical college to the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio. He joined the church and started pondering whether ordained ministry was meant for him.

His adoptive parents, Father Cuddy admitted, were "a little confused" by his switch, thinking he did so "maybe for a girl." But "as time went on, they were real happy" for him.

Deacon Binh Nguyen, who is Vietnamese-American, is also to be ordained May 31 for the Diocese of Jackson, and like every new priest gets to choose a priest to vest him for his first Mass. He chose not just a priest, but an archbishop: retired Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans.

"I choose him because he is my spiritual director during the time I have studied at Notre Dame Seminary, New Orleans. He has been my closest person to my priestly vocation since 2009," he said.

"He always gives me spiritual support and shares with me a lot of wonderful guidance and insight for my spiritual journey toward the priesthood. He has been teaching me how to become a good and holy priest by passing his great and valuable spiritual experience on (to) me."

Both Father Zamora and the future Father Vincent selected Father Henri Nouwen as one of the models for their own priesthood. For the Jackson ordinand, Father Nouwen's "The Return of the Prodigal Son" is his favorite book.

Click here to watch the ordination video

St. Vincent’s says “Good-Bye” to the Daughters
| May 28, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—During a weekend long commemoration of their 110-year history, St. Vincent’s Medical Center said goodbye to the Daughters of Charity, but not to their mission.

The Daughters of Charity who first came to St. Vincent’s in 1903 wearing their wing-like cornette headdress that morphed into plain blue habits they wear today will no longer be a familiar site in the hallways or departments.

The Daughters of Charity who first came to St. Vincent’s in 1903 wearing their wing-like cornette headdress that morphed into plain blue habits they wear today will no longer be a familiar site in the hallways or departments.
More than 25 Daughters of Charity who had worked at St. Vincent’s over the years returned to the area to celebrate their heritage, remember the Sisters who had come before them, and to say good bye to co-workers.  
Two Masses brought the health services system together as a community of faith, a public Mass held at St. Patrick Church on Saturday May 17, and a special Mass for management and staff held in St. Vincent’s Hawley Conference Center on Monday May 19.
Fr. Thomas McKenna, Provincial Director of the Daughters of Charity of the St. Louis Province, USA, was the main celebrant of the Mass of St. Vincent de Paul. He was assisted by Fr. Al Forlano, a member of the pastoral care staff at St. Vincent’s, Fr. John Punnakunnel of Christ the King Parish in Trumbull, and Deacon Tim Bolton, coordinator of Pastoral Care at St. Vincent’s.
In his homily Fr. McKenna said the Daughters left a lasting legacy because “they came to heal and help people, ” and had a larger vision of service.
“They brought another world to this one, the conviction that they were bringing the kingdom of God to into the here an now,” Fr. McKenna said, adding that the hospital was part of their “dream of God in the world they wanted to bring about.”  
In her remarks following Mass, Sister Louise Gallahue, Provincial of the Daughters of Charity St. Louise Province, which stretches from Texas to Maine, noted that 300 Daughters served at St. Vincent’s in the 110 years since Sister Laura Eckenrode led a small group of American Daughters from Baltimore to the Hawley Farm site, which was then on the far outskirts of the city.
“Bridgeport is still a city of immigrants, though the countries they come from have changed,” she said, noting that the Sisters who returned to the city enjoyed a drive through Seaside Park and other areas.    
“We’ve been deeply toughed by the outpouring of well wishes and prayer,” Sister Louise said. “Our day to today active presence comes to an end but doesn’t bring to an end the compassion and caring.”
Earlier this year the Daughters of Charity announced that they would be moving the four remaining Sisters at St. Vincent’s to new assignments, where they will work directly with the poor and under-served.
However, two sisters from the St. Louis Province will be named to serve on the Board of Directors, and St. Vincent’s, will continued to be sponsored by Ascension Health, the Daughters of Charity health system, which includes 1,900 healthcare facilities in 23 states.  
“We’re not leaving because you did something wrong, but because you did something right. That’s why we can leave,” Sister Louise said, adding that she felt good about the transition because St. Vincent’s will always be committed to protecting the sacredness of life from birth to death and caring for the most vulnerable.
Like many of the other Daughters of Charity who came to Bridgeport, Sister Louise held a variety of assignments at St. Vincent’s. She served as a nurse in the psychiatric unit and supervisor in the Family Health Center before beginning her tenure as board chair from 2005-2009.
In addition to the Daughters who worked at St. Vincent’s, the Sisters also taught at St. Anne School in Black Rock, Bridgeport, from 1935 to 1986.
“I know you, I care for you, I pray for you,” Sister Louise said in concluding her remarks. ‘Let the cross on the side of the building be a beacon for all as you look at it. May it be a reminder of our presence and spirit.”
Choir member Taylor Cervini, son of Cindy Cervini, RN, a Clinical Nurse leader in the Intensive Care Unit, provided a moment of striking beauty when his solo of “Ave Maria” stunned listeners during meditation following Holy Communion.
At St. Patrick’s Church during the public Mass on Sunday, when Fr. Peter Lenox asked how many people in attendance have been patients or treated at St. Vincent’s over the years, nearly the entire congregation stood.
The Mass attended by hundreds was followed by a soup and bread reception in the Parish Hall
St. Patrick’s played an historic role in the founding of the hospital in the 1890’a, when Catholic physicians, concerned about the health needs of the burgeoning immigrant population, contacted Father James Nihill, then Pastor of St. Patrick's Church on North Avenue, and asked for his assistance in contacting the Daughters of Charity, a religious women's community known for their work in hospitals, orphanages and schools. Fr. Nihill then extended an invitation for the Daughters to visit the city. The hospital was incorporated in 1903 and opened its doors in1905.
Sister Louise was introduced by Dr. Stuart G. Marcus, MD, President/CEO of St. Vincent’s Health Services who said it was a sad day but also one of transition. He said that many employees have experienced their leaving with a “heavy heart” because the Daughters have been a welcome and historic presence in the medical center
“The mission and legacy will continue in our hearts. They set standards for compassion we deliver each day. It is a big task ahead of us caring out that mission. Our job is to accept that responsibility.”
Dr. Marcus noted that the Daughters of Charity had the foresight to begin a formation program to prepare lay leadership to carry on their historic mission.
He said that on the day St. Vincent’s Hospital opened its doors in 1905, there were 17 patients, and that on the morning of the farewell Mass, the patient census was 267. In the years in between, St. Vincent’s has grown from a small hospital to health system with many facilities in the region.   
In a brief interview following Mass, Sr. Louise said the Daughters are committed to serving “the poorest of the poor,” and will be working in “under-served areas” that lack basic medical care and social services.
“We need to focus more on areas that don’t have people to serve them. There are people here carrying on our mission. But we need to reach out.”
Today, there are 495 nuns in the St. Louis Province, 600 nationally and 17,000 across the world.
Following Mass the Daughters made final rounds of the Medical Center, touring departments where they had worked for many years. A reception for all employees retirees and volunteers was held later in the after noon,  and the day concluded with a “Passing the Flame” ceremony for at. Vincent’s administration, board, benefactors and civil leaders.

A member of Ascension Health, St. Vincent’s Health Services includes the Medical Center, Hall-Brooke Behavioral Health Services, St. Vincent’s Behavioral Health Services, Westport Campus, St. Vincent’s College, St. Vincent’s Special Needs Services, St. Vincent’s Medical Center Foundation and St. Vincent’s Urgent Care/Walk-in Centers. In 2010, the Medical Center broke ground on the Elizabeth M. Pfriem SWIM Center for Cancer Care, the renovated and expanded Michael J. Daly Emergency Department. As a part of a $160 million Capital Campaign, the master facilities project continues today with the renovation of all major clinical areas on Level II and a new 630-car parking garage

Ascension Health was formed in 1999 when the four provinces of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul (that were Sponsors of the Daughters of Charity National Health System, and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Nazareth, Mich. brought their health systems together. In 2002, the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet became the sixth Sponsor when its health system became part of Ascension Health.

Click here for slideshow

John Santa honored by Fairfield University
| May 28, 2014


FAIRFIELD—John S. Santa, an outspoken advocate for prison reform and chair of the Malta Criminal Justice Initiative, was awarded an Honorary Degree by Fairfield University at their 2014 Commencement.

The Southport resident is a member of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Fairfield and has held many voluntary leadership posts in service of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

After a 40-year career in marketing, finance and finally as CEO at Santa Energy, John Santa now serves as an independent director for four private corporations. His record as a community activist as well as his ongoing commitment to social justice and community service is substantial.

Having served on many community boards in the past, such as the Inner City Foundation for Charity and Education and the Family Firm Institute, he is currently an active member of the Sentencing Commission of the State of Connecticut, the board of the Fairfield Museum and History Center, and the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University. He received the Paul Harris Fellowship from the Rotary Club of Fairfield Connecticut as well as the Volunteer of the Year Award from the State of Connecticut, Department of Correction. In 2012, he received the Graymoor Award from the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement for his work on behalf of current and formerly incarcerated men and women.

He has been recognized as a prophetic voice in the modern criminal justice reform movement. He began his work in 1998, and by 2002 he and his colleagues founded Malta Prison Volunteers of Connecticut—now known as Malta Justice Initiative. Their mission is to inform and educate the business, faith and academic communities about the opportunities available in criminal justice legislative reform.

His programs were embraced as the first and only national work of the American Association of the Order of Malta. The Order now conducts prison ministry activities from coast to coast. Mr. Santa has also headed the inaugural capital campaigns at Lauralton Hall in Milford, Conn., and St. Joseph's Manor in Trumbull, Conn. He is a founder of the National Oilheat Research Alliance, for which he was instrumental in putting a bill through Congress for its establishment.

Msgr. William Loughlin dies at 87
| May 27, 2014


STAMFORD—Msgr. William Loughlin died on May 26 at St. Joseph Center in Trumbull, where he lived in retirement. He was 87 years old.

William Loughlin was born on March 3, 1927 in Wharton, N.J. He attended St. Mary’s School there and Bayley High School in Morristown. Thereafter he attended the Oratory Preparatory School in Summit, N.J., and Seton Hall University, attaining BA and MA degrees. He completed his seminary studies and received a Master of Divinity degree from Pope John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass.

He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Walter W. Curtis in St. Mary Church, Greenwich, on May 3, 1969.

His first assignment was as parochial vicar at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newton. He also served at Assumption Parish in Westport, St. Philip Parish in Norwalk, St. Augustine Cathedral Parish in Bridgeport and St. Mary Parish in Greenwich.

In the summer of 1983, he was named pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Shelton. That fall, he was appointed director of the newly formed Office of Diocesan Pilgrimages, a position he held until his poor health prohibited travel. He was named a Chaplain to His Holiness by Pope John Paul II, with the title of Monsignor, on July 14, 1988.

While continuing as director of the pilgrimage office, he served as parochial vicar of St. Mary’s in Greenwich, St. Luke Parish in Westport and St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Fairfield. In addition, Msgr. Loughlin served on the Priests’ Council.

An evening Vigil Mass was celebrated for Msgr. Loughlin at St. Bridget of Ireland Parish in Stamford on June 2. Father Ian Jeremiah, director of Clergy Personnel, celebrated the Mass and gave the homily. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated for Msgr. Loughlin at St. Bridget’s on June 3. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano celebrated the Mass; Msgr William Scheyd, pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan, delivered the homily.

Msgr. Loughlin will be buried with his family in St. Mary Cemetery, Dover, N.J.

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna

Bishop Caggiano Gathers his Priests
| May 27, 2014


St. Matthew Parish, Norwalk—Bishop Caggiano has enlisted his priests—nearly 200 strong—to help him define, form and plan for the future of the Diocese of Bridgeport. He has instituted semi-annual meetings for all of the priests of the diocese to come together and discuss the most critical issues facing priestly ministry today and the broader issues that are impacting the diocese. These general meetings of the presbyterate “are designed to be a dialogue and to build on one another,” Bishop Caggiano said.

At the meeting, which lasted nearly four hours, the bishop asked for input from his priests on a large range of items on the agenda, and he also opened the floor to priests to present concerns of their own. Perhaps the day’s most persistent theme centered on the discussion of structural financial concerns for the diocese, especially relating to Catholic education.

One positive financial highlight is that the Annual Bishop’s Appeal is on course to meet its goal of nearly $12 million dollars. Despite the successful trajectory of this year’s funding effort, Bishop Caggiano announced that beginning next year, the annual appeal will no longer be called the “Bishop’s Appeal.” Instead, it will be called the “Annual Catholic Appeal” (or something similar). “The appeal belongs to the people,” the bishop said, noting that most dioceses have already dropped the word “bishop” from  annual appeals.

On another positive note, the plans for the Synod are progressing on schedule. Three of the seven Listening Sessions are complete and all have gone very well. The next Listening Session will be held on June 2, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Thomas in Fairfield. More information can be found at the dedicated website:

In the “needs improvement” category, Bishop Caggiano discussed the results of a professional study that analyzed the current effectiveness of operations at the Catholic Center. To sum up the report, the bishop said that the diocese needs to strive to make the Catholic Center more “customer friendly.” Improving the way the home office communicates with diocesan institutions, parishes, staff and parishioners corresponds nicely with the bishop’s plans to bring new life and energy to the entire diocese.

In his closing remarks to the priests at the meeting, Bishop Caggiano emphasized that collaboration between all levels of diocesan life and administration is needed to help bring “new viability and vitality to every parish, school and institution throughout the diocese.”

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New Bridgeport bishop reaches out through simplicity, dialogue
| May 27, 2014 • by By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter


BRIDGEPORT—For 492 days, the Bridgeport, Conn., diocese was without a bishop.

The void came in May 2012 when Bishop William Lori moved 250 miles south as archbishop of Baltimore. The long interregnum created somewhat of a chasm between past and future for the area's 400,000-plus Catholics.

On July 31, Pope Francis named Frank Caggiano, an auxiliary bishop from nearby Brooklyn, N.Y., as the fifth bishop of Bridgeport. Installed September 19—his deceased mother's birthday—before 1,200-plus people, Caggiano spoke of the transformative power of bridges, both physical and spiritual, to bring together communities and fortify faiths.

"Bridges unite, they open opportunity, they can even transform human life," he said in the homily.

So it was that the bishop born and bred in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge became the leader of a diocese named after such spans. In eight months, Caggiano, 55, has himself gone to work buttressing existing networks, repairing those long abandoned and constructing new connections.

"There's always the great challenge of allowing people to see that which unites us is greater than that which divides us," Caggiano told NCR in an April 8 interview.

Bridgeport is a relatively young diocese that presents unique dichotomies. Its borders follow those of Fairfield County, among the wealthiest areas in the country, while its center, Bridgeport, is among the nation's poorest cities. Its sizeable immigrant population adds to the diversity Caggiano calls "the fabric of life."

In recent years, the diocese has seen its share of scandals. Allegations of clergy sexually abusing minors have been limited, but two priests in the past seven years have gone to jail for embezzling parish funds. In January 2013, Msgr. Kevin Wallin, aka "Msgr. Meth," was indicted for his role in a drug distribution ring, for which he laundered money through an adult store.

Only one of Caggiano's four predecessors remained in the diocese the duration of his ministry, leading some to view it more as a steppingstone rather than a destination. For his part, Caggiano has been rubber to any accusations of clericalism or careerism—both terms, fairly or unfairly, stuck to Lori and Edward Egan, who became a cardinal in New York.

Bridges to transparency

Caggiano is keenly aware of the impact scandals have on the faithful in any diocese. More than that, he recognizes what it calls of him.

"I think we need to rebuild the trust in the church, among people in the church, with the leadership of the church, of which myself I am a member," he told NCR.

Rebuilding trust, the bishop said, requires transparency, simplicity, authenticity "and to have my actions match my words."

So far, so good.

In December, Caggiano released reports on diocesan finances for the fiscal years 2009-2012. The numbers presented a bleak picture, but one he felt compelled to make public:
•    An operating deficit of $1.8 million;
•    A total deficit of nearly $50 million, largely due to pension funds, frozen for lay employees since 2010;
•    A $15 million loan from the Knights of Columbus.

"If I'm going to ask you for financial support, then you need to know what you're giving to and what the state of life is here," he said.

The diocese said they've had great response so far to the annual bishop's appeal, and hope to raise $11 million through it.

In February, Caggiano added members to the diocesan review board and asked they meet quarterly. He also formed a Ministerial Misconduct Advisory Board to review cases not involving minors, as well as problems in ministry. In May, he asked it to review the case of Fr. John Stronkowski, whom Caggiano removed from pastoral duties at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Parish in Shelton, for "persistent absenteeism" from the parish and "growing difficulties" the priest had with parish staff and lay leaders.

Beginning in June, newly named pastors will serve six-year renewable terms at parishes, something he and others see as a benefit to the priests, the parish and the incoming pastor. Pastors at age 75 will be asked to submit resignations.

And if he has his way, Caggiano will announce that month the return of his current 8,900-square-foot home in Trumbull to its original purpose as the college seminary, where he will maintain a small apartment. As for the current seminary, which needs $3.5 million in repairs, he is exploring fundraising efforts or giving it to the nearby high school. An agreement for the seminarians to study at Fairfield University is also in the works.

Perhaps the most significant announcement came in February, when he called a diocesan synod, Bridgeport's first in 32 years. Carrying the theme "Building Bridges to the Future Together," the yearlong synod officially opens in September; the preparatory stage has begun. The process brings to light challenges facing the diocese. Caggiano has acknowledged that at some point, the diocese will have to undergo strategic planning, a process he envisions for all parishes, not just those struggling.

Through his actions and interactions to date, Caggiano told NCR, he hopes he has projected "a real genuine sense that what you see is what you get."

Again, so far, so good.

"He's a breath of fresh air," said Paul Lakeland, the Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J. Chair in Catholic studies at Fairfield University.

Other Bridgeport Catholics interviewed added "inviting," "humorous," "sincere," "good listener," "relatively fearless," "Vatican II" and "entirely un-image-conscious" to his description.

"It's boringly good," Lakeland said.

The common explanation is that Caggiano carries himself in a way that's more approachable than his predecessors, more ordinary than ordinary.

"If you see him out on the streets, and you run into him, he'll talk to you like there's nothing else that matters at that moment," said Florencia Silva, head of the diocese's pastoral services office. She described him as cercano, a Spanish word meaning "close to the people."

The closeness is evident in the ongoing marathon of meetings and listening sessions in and outside his office that have filled his schedule since his arrival. He's met with donors, prison reform advocates, the Newtown community and even the local Voice of the Faithful chapter. Additionally, he set aside time specifically to meet with his priests, giving them his personal contact information with a straightforward request: Call me anytime. So far, more than 100 of the diocese's 240 priests have taken up the offer.

The outreach has brought a renewed energy to the presbyterate in a diocese where a few years ago, morale was low and enthusiasm even lower, said Fr. Michael Boccaccio of St. Philip Church in Norwalk. Now, Boccaccio sees his brother priests more engaged, particularly at meetings where even new faces have begun to appear.

"There's a welcome to openness and to a dialogue, and I'm seeing priests become more enthusiastic about their involvement and their criticism or questioning of the bishop," Boccaccio said.

From the priest meetings, Caggiano has "learned their struggles and the struggles of the parishes." Some, like Boccaccio, have expressed that administrative duties and financial struggles have created a vacuum in their pastoral ministry.

"Please, please, please let us be priests," Boccaccio said.

Caggiano has heard that plea, calling it one of the greatest challenges priests have articulated, particularly in the desire and struggle to reach out to distant Catholics. He has also learned of priest isolationism, and wonders aloud if communal rectories might be a solution. Such a step, though, would have to come through the synod process.

So far, criticisms of Caggiano haven't been few and far between—they're nearly nonexistent, with concerns largely limited to doing too much, too fast, too soon for the diocese, as well as for his own good. In March, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests called for him to commission an independent investigation related to two priests accused of abusing in the late 1960s and '70s, and to publish names of abusers on their website. The diocese is working to publish the list, and Caggiano has communicated informally with several SNAP members.

Bridges to Rome

As noticeable as what Caggiano has done is who he is.

In describing their bishop, people cannot help but draw similarities between him and Pope Francis. First, there are the names. Both have called synods and both were born in the Americas to Italian immigrants. Beyond the superficial, people have witnessed parallels in style.

"He represents in some ways the new kind of bishop that Pope Francis is looking for," Jesuit Fr. Jeffrey von Arx, president at Fairfield University, told NCR, listing simple living, a commitment to evangelization and a faithful message of compassion, forgiveness and engagement.

The confluence of Caggiano and Francis, von Arx said, came together at the right time.

"People are looking for a much simpler delivery of the Christian message, a much more kind of faith-based Christo-centric understanding of Christianity," he said.

The connections make Bridgeport appear closer to Rome, where people can hear what Francis says at the Vatican and then see it lived out in their own neighborhoods.

Like Francis, Caggiano stands firmly in line with church teaching on marriage, ordination and other familiar reform issues, and, when asked, will share his thoughts. But also like Francis, the emphasis is placed elsewhere. He appears more interested in the pastoral development of his diocese than in making statements on hot-button issues. That style diverges from Lori, who became a national point person for the bishops in the religious liberty debate.

But those who have known Caggiano from Brooklyn and before say the Francis parallels are not the result of mirroring; it's just who Frank has always been.

Born on Easter Sunday, Caggiano grew up on Van Sicklen Street in Brooklyn. It was there around the kitchen table he developed much of his personality, style and ministry -- aspects he attributes to his parents. From his father, he learned that familial bonds hold strong, even amid disagreements; from his mother, he learned to listen. His preference for dialogue, he said, keeps him informed and engages others as partners.

"I need to be the guardian of the life of the church. ... But that doesn't mean I have all the answers," he said.

A former Yale student, Caggiano worked as a sales rep for McGraw Hill Publishing Company in the early 1980s. He had a good salary, a company car and expense account. What he didn't have was happiness, and he entered Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, N.Y. He was ordained a priest in 1987.

But it was a moment during his junior year at Regis High School in New York City that he believes set the path of his life. Surrounded by classmates from affluent roots, he felt embarrassed by his lower-middle-class immigrant family. An epiphany opened his eyes to what his parents provided him -- love and a good life.

"The simplicity of life, at that point, I kind of embraced it and I will never let go of it," Caggiano said.

On Sundays, the bishop schedules time for himself, and crosses Long Island Sound to return to Brooklyn and his boyhood home where his sister still lives. There he relaxes and rejuvenates until he returns to work on Monday.

Bridges to 'dissidents'

The room filled with laughter, a lighthearted moment on an otherwise night of solemn discourse. Inside the First Congregational Church on the Green in Norwalk, Boccaccio and Fr. David Blanchfield shared a priest's perspective of the clergy sex abuse scandal with members of the Bridgeport chapter of Voice of the Faithful at its April meeting. About 50 Catholics, most with graying hair, listened, asked questions and expressed opinions.

These were the faces of "dissidents."

The night would have never occurred if not for a meeting in the same church a month before. It was then that members of Voice of the Faithful Bridgeport met with their bishop for the first time in the group's 12-year existence.

"It was quite amazing," said Jamie Dance, the chapter's chair. "So friendly. So engaging. So gracious."

The Bridgeport chapter formed in 2002 after the national affiliate formed in Boston in the wake of The Boston Globe sex abuse reports. Shortly after, Lori denounced the group and forbade them from meeting on church property. According to the chapter's history, Lori "did not approve of VOTF in any way" and left unanswered multiple requests to meet.

The Brooklyn Voice of the Faithful affiliate had a far different relationship with its diocese. Caggiano and other chancery staff would meet with them regularly, even share an occasional meal. Because of that history, Caggiano said, "it never dawned on me even to ask" about the relationship between Lori and Voice of the Faithful. When the Bridgeport chapter sent him a welcome letter, he replied and said he looked forward to meeting with them after his installation.

"And sure enough, he reached out to us after that, made the appointment," Dance said.

An hourlong meeting with Dance and chapter founder Joe O'Callaghan laid the groundwork for Caggiano to attend the March 13 meeting of Voice of the Faithful—a moment the 160 people in attendance and even others across the country saw as historic, but the bishop viewed as nothing out of the ordinary. Questions addressed the role of women in the church, women's ordination, birth control, and the formation of seminarians. Oddly enough, no one asked about the abuse crisis, a sign Dance attributed to the confidence Caggiano inspired.

"Theologically, we will not agree necessarily on some issues," Caggiano told NCR, speaking of positions espoused by some in Voice of the Faithful. "But I don't have to agree with you in order to respect you and to talk with you. And that's ultimately what animates that dialogue."

The meeting evoked little negative feedback, outside of a few concerned letters and a critical review of the outreach in the conservative Crisis online magazine. The vast majority of people the bishop has spoken to welcomed the dialogue, he said. Boccaccio called Caggiano's reaching out "remarkably wonderful. I am so glad he did that, having opened that door."

But some Voice of the Faithful members remain frustrated that the doors to their churches remain closed to their meetings.

"It is an item on the agenda that we are going to continue to talk about," Caggiano told NCR, explaining that he continues to learn more about the theology of the group and its members.

Some have speculated that too quick a move could be viewed as a rebuke of Lori. Dance wonders if negative views of the group continue to linger among the clergy, and she sees the benefits of meeting off church property. In the meantime, she has focused on the "whole new world" that Caggiano has brought to their mission.

"His openness to us means more to us than having a room in a church basement," she said.

Bridges to the future

Caggiano had just finished addressing 23,000 teens inside Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, typically the home of the Indianapolis Colts but on this late November weekend the site of the 2013 National Catholic Youth Conference. The Bridgeport bishop -- and episcopal adviser to the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry -- "blew the house away," according to chaperone Kali DiMarco, a youth minister at St. Philip Parish in Norwalk.

After the speech, several teens asked to go see their bishop; she obliged, then watched as they maneuvered through the large crowd toward the main stage, where they threw themselves at Caggiano.

"And I thought that that was a very powerful message," DiMarco said. "One, that they wanted to, and two, the way he received them, and that they felt he was that approachable."

The connection between Caggiano and Bridgeport youth has been instantaneous and magnetic. The bishop speaks of "baptizing the digital world," recognizing that the church must engage it as part of its evangelization, since kids today communicate and socialize differently than previous generations. With that perspective, he has made youth ministry a top goal for the diocese and, more than that, has embodied it. He attends youth events, has celebrated confirmations at all 82 parishes, and seeks to connect with youth on their level.

"You don't feel like he's a bishop," Marisa Mantero, a senior at St. Joseph High School, said. "I tell my mom all the time, 'Can we have him over for dinner?' I want to have him over for dinner like a parish priest. He's just not like a bishop."

DiMarco gets emotional recalling an exchange in Indianapolis between Caggiano and a 14-year-old boy from Iowa. A tradition at the youth conference has attendees donning and trading outrageous hats -- cows and flying pigs, cheeseheads and ice cream cones. After Caggiano finished his speech, the boy asked if he would swap lids; the bishop obliged and exchanged his zucchetto for the boy's giant chili pepper. Later at the conference, DiMarco and a friend ran into the boy and asked what he would trade for the bishop's hat. "Nothing," he replied. "It was the best part of my whole weekend."

In February came the pinnacle event, one Caggiano called "an absolute high point of my time so far here" -- a town hall forum with 350 teens at St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan. Before the event, pastoral services director Silva asked the bishop what his plan was and what she should prepare. He said he didn't want a theme, or a prepared talk, but would briefly introduce himself and then simply listen.

"I've been through a lot of different dioceses and I have never seen a bishop do that before," said Silva, who also oversees youth ministry.

Not only did he want to introduce himself, he wanted to have a conversation. He wanted to listen. So he asked two questions: What do you like about your church? What don't you like? Sally McHugh, another St. Joseph senior, called the tone more conversation than a lecture, and that the bishop's own openness and sincerity helped quickly develop an environment for honesty.

Some teens said they liked the closeness of their communities, while others asked about same-sex marriage, the definition of love, priest shortages, even the state of Christianity in the Middle East. At one point, Caggiano recalled, a boy told him, "Bishop, I don't like my church because when our boiler broke, we don't have the money to fix it. And there are parishes in this diocese that spend over a million dollars decorating their church."

The answer impressed the bishop: "Talk about an insightful observation that needs to be repeated before the whole synod."

As part of the diocesan synod he's called, Caggiano has included 25 youth delegates, hoping they bring that kind of honesty to the process.

According to Jesuit Fr. Paul Fitzgerald, an ecclesiologist and senior vice president at Fairfield University, diocesan synods are prayerful conversations in the local church, guided by the Holy Spirit, to read the signs of the times and address issues confronting the church.

Diocesan synods, Fitzgerald said, examine "things we're doing now that we don't need to do anymore" or "new things that we want to start doing. Maybe there are old things we want to do in new ways in order to be church."

Often, synods can address larger social issues, such as families, equality, environmentalism and even income inequality -- a topic that could come up in the socioeconomically diverse diocese.

Caggiano said he hopes a "pastoral road map" will emerge from the synod process.

More than 400 delegates will attend the synod's five general sessions; another 400 youth co-delegates will have four separate sessions to keep them involved. The first of five preparatory listening sessions came May 5. Listening sessions are planned for youth and Hispanics as well. Those sessions will wrap up by the end of June and give a glimpse of the priorities the diocese wants to address.

"When you hold a diocesan synod, it's very hard to control what people will do and say," Lakeland said, which in part has made synods somewhat of a rarity since the 1983 revision of canon law altered their necessity from every seven years to the bishop's discretion.

That Caggiano has called a synod, Lakeland said, shows a commitment to a vision of the church found in the Second Vatican Council, one that "recognizes that the majority of people in the church are laypeople and that they have a voice, a legitimate voice, in how it conducts itself."

"I think he recognizes, as Vatican II does, that those who have positions of authority in the church or leadership in the church have them as servants and not as princes," Lakeland said.

Caggiano is well aware decisions will ultimately rest with him, but the bridge builder prefers to have many working hands, of all ages, shades and textures, actively involved in creating a structure that serves the people, not the other way around.

"I sense a real excitement that they want to get involved in the life of the church, which is great," he said. "That's a gift [for which] any bishop would get on his knees and be thankful to the Lord."

(Brian Roewe is an NCR staff writer. His email address is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

Faith calls for climate responsibility
| May 27, 2014 • by By Edie Cassidy


A month or so ago our Fairfield County Chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), which is an advocacy group asking policy makers to heed the trend toward global warming, was deliberating the faith community’s role in addressing climate change. At the same time a similar discussion was taking place at a Catholic conference in the Midwest. 

One of the CCL members there picked up the phone and called the Vatican. She asked to speak with Pope Francis. The Pope was out at the time, so she found herself speaking with the head of one of the pontifical commissions. She explained CCL’s purpose, which is “to create a political will for a sustainable climate.”

The commission head thought that Pope Francis might be interested, since it aligned with the design of the May workshop he had organized: “Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature: Our Responsibility,” co-sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

During the phone call, the Vatican speaker asked that the caller write a brief summary of CCL’s mission and the legislation we had proposed to reduce carbon emissions. He then asked that the summary be translated into Spanish and sent to the Pope. He could not say if she would or would not receive a phone call. (Imagine answering your cell phone in the local mall and…)

Attendance at the workshop was by invitation only; no more than 86 invitations were issued. We were thrilled when the Vatican issued an invitation to Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s legislative director, Dr. Danny Richter, to attend as an observer.

Although recent popes have voiced their concern about the degradation of the environment, Pope Francis has gone a step farther by drawing attention to this grave situation early in his papacy. He is not alone. Overwhelmingly, climate scientists agree that the climate is warming and attribute it to human influence, and many of the world’s religions feel it is time for people of faith to become involved.

A recent report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has awakened a lot of people to the immediacy of the climate change issue. The IPCC report is personal bad news for the 271 million of us living in coastal areas, including coastal Fairfield County. It is bad news for our oceans, whose increased acidification is a “fundamental challenge to marine organisms and ecosystems” and our food supply. The report also warns of “extreme weather events leading to breakdown of critical services such as electricity, waste supply and health and emergency services” and the “breakdown of food systems, linked to warming.” Not a pretty picture.

While that can sound extreme, all of us remember the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Social services are back in place, but hundreds of families are still homeless.

While economic, health and agricultural planning will mitigate some of the effects of global warming, the more tragic and catastrophic effects can only be ameliorated by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Even companies who are in the fossil fuel business recognize this issue.

Change is possible; it can be done. But change, like charity, begins at home. It requires us to take the initiative and direct our congressional and state legislative officials to take aggressive leadership on this problem. I quote one political sage, “If the political will of the people is asleep at the wheel, then the political will of the government is likely to be asleep at the wheel.”

This is a matter of social responsibility, not politics. Scientists and economists on both ends of the political spectrum support a free-market approach.

On the table is a market-based approach to the reduction of greenhouse gases: the Carbon Fee and Dividend Act. This proposal would charge fossil fuel producers a fee for using the atmosphere for discharging their waste products.

This makes sense. Households—meaning us and our families—have always paid for removal of pollutants such as garbage pickup, sewage disposal and recycling whether through taxes or direct fees. It is time for other producers of waste products to do the same.

On the dividend side, the proposal would have the fee collected by the government returned to all Americans in the form of an annual or bi-annual refund based on the number in the household.

This legislation is of interest to decision makers of various political leanings and it is important for us, as citizens, to educate our legislators. Focusing our Congressional members’ attention on this legislation is one meaningful way we can approach the challenge of climate change.

Pope Francis, in a statement to the Diplomatic Corps this January, phrased the climate imperative sharply. “What is crucial is responsibility on the part of all in pursuing, in a spirit of fraternity, policies respectful of this earth which is our common home. I recall a popular saying: ‘God always forgives, we sometimes forgive, but when nature—creation—is mistreated, she never forgives!’”             

Edie Cassidy, former diocesan director of Social Concerns, is group leader of the Fairfield County chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

Finding compassion–easier said than done
| May 27, 2014 • by By Joe Pisani


Swimming Upstream
By Joe Pisani

Back when my wife and I were going through parent boot camp, we faced some monumental challenges. Our first daughter drove us absolutely crazy—so crazy we sometimes wondered whether we had the necessary qualifications to be good parents because we lacked one basic ingredient called “patience.”

My mother, however, always came to the rescue during our training period and tried to comfort us with the notion that this cute little girl was just “going through a phase.”

“It will pass,” she assured us. “Don’t make a big deal out of it.” Naturally, we believed her because she raised three kids, and all that experience had to count for something. Right? Uhh, not right.

Looking back over the years, I calculate this particular daughter went through many different phases, and each was more challenging than the previous one. From infancy to toddlerhood to puberty to adolescence, to whatever came after that, and well into adulthood, there was a new and exciting phase every few years, and sometimes every few months.

She’s still going through a “phase,” perhaps the longest phase in the annals of child psychology. We love her just the same. I wish I could say we grew as parents from the experience and were more patient, but that would be lying.

Even though Mom’s skills as an armchair psychologist left a lot to be desired, her outlook led me to a new understanding of life. You see, she always thought the best of people—even annoying people. She was tolerant of their shortcomings and idiosyncrasies. She never tore down and always tried to build up. She understood the importance of that amazing virtue called “compassion.”

Humorist Erma Bombeck once said, “It is not until you become a mother that your judgment slowly turns to compassion and understanding.”

That’s one of the most profoundly Christian statements I’ve ever heard.

Not being a mother, I had to learn the hard way that being compassionate is far more Christ-like than being judgmental. Compassion is central to Christ’s message even though it is often rare among so-called religious people.

It certainly was rare in my life. As a rebellious teenager, I had a barometer in my brain that measured hypocrisy in adults. To my thinking, they talked the talk but didn’t walk the walk, and whenever I went to Sunday Mass with my mother, I would take everybody’s inventory ... except my own.

“Why do they even bother to go to church?” I’d grumble. “They’re all hypocrites, they’re phonies.”

Her response was always the same: “They go to church because they’re sinners.” That explanation seemed too facile, too unbelievable, and I refused to accept it. In a heated argument, I yelled, “Your problem is you make excuses for the way people behave!”

One woman in the parish always wore gaudy pillbox hats with so many feathers, bangles and beads that her head looked like Disney World on the Fourth of July, and she would parade up the aisle to the front pew and plop herself down like royalty. She really bugged me. Mom, of course, defended her, but I wouldn’t listen. Years later, I realized this woman was one of the kindest people you’d ever want to meet, with one problem—she had terrible taste in hats.

My father’s approach to life was entirely different. He drank alcoholically until he was 50 and got sober through the grace of God; however, he couldn’t understand why some people didn’t make it. To his thinking, they weren’t trying hard enough or they weren’t honest with themselves. Like me, he passed judgment, and having compassion for others wasn’t easy.

Most of us don’t understand the beauty of compassion until we find ourselves in a position where we should be judged for our mistakes ... and instead someone shows us compassion. Those occasions can be life-changing, when you realize you’ve been shown mercy instead of being criticized or condemned. And at that moment, you understand you’re being called by Jesus to do the same to others.

Mother Teresa once said, “I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness.” And that’s great advice for all of us.          

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna

Late Spring Deck Garden
| May 26, 2014


Exhibit A

Exhibit B

With this blog entry I am venturing into uncharted territory, which I am known to do from time to time! I am going to write about one of my interests, or hobbies, and I am going to document it so that you and I together can monitor the progress of my efforts.

Exhibit A: To the right is a ceramic planter into which I have thrown a number of different seeds. A charity wrote to me and included a packet for wildflowers in their material. I do not remember if they wrote twice to me, but I somehow had two packets of wildflower seeds that needed planting.

Last week, I put most of the seeds from the two packets into the planter along with some kernels of corn. Then I covered them with some Miracle Grow potting soil. As you can see, much has come to life and is sprouting skyward.

Regarding the corn, I discovered that unpopped kernels (like Orville Redenbacher) can be planted directly into the soil and they come up a few days later as corn stalks. Last year, I only planted one kernel, which came up, but when the stalk was about three-feet high, it fell over and died. This year, I planted about ten corn kernels, and most have come up. My theory is that if they grow smaller, they might have a better chance of reaching maturation and producing fruit. The tallest growths – one on the right and one on the left in the photo – are the two fastest growing corn stalks. They are also V-shaped. I will post pictures of their progress as the summer continues. The rest of the growths, presumably, are various wildflowers. More pictures of their progress will also be forthcoming.

Exhibit B: In addition to my ceramic planter, I have three large plastic planters and a wooden tub-like planter. The three large plastic planters each house a lemon tree that I grew from the seeds of an ordinary lemon. They must be five years old now but none of them has ever produced a flower or a lemon. They struggle through the winter with the limited light they get, and presently, all three have been aggressively pruned. One is thriving, one is muddling along, and one looks like it nearly bit the dust! Maybe I will have my own lemons for my seltzer water this fall!

I plant grass each spring in my lemon tree planters because my cats like to eat the fresh grass. Also, the grass helps retain moisture in the soil on hot summer days. This year I tried something very different with the wooden tub-planter. In the middle of it, I transplanted an apple-tree I am growing from seed that barely made it through the winter (inside). Around the tree, I planted lots of grass, and my cats now jump into it and lie in it. Unfortunately, one cat in particular has also taken to nibbling on what is left of the apple tree seedling. Alas, I probably should have put the apple tree in a different planter and just let the cats lie around in the tub. I tried to take a picture of one of my cats lying in the grass in the tub but she would not cooperate this morning. Those pictures and more will be forthcoming as my deck-garden grows into summer…

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Song of winter fled and summer soon to be
| May 23, 2014 • by By Thomas Hicks


By Thomas H. Hicks

Hail, bounteous May!
You inspire mirth, and youth, and warm desire!
We welcome you, and wish you long.

(Milton, Song: On May Morning)

Violets bloom and dogwoods whiten. The air pulses with the morning song of robins and orioles. Who in our ice-bound January could have believed it—this time of apple blossoms and lilacs, this time of new leaf. Who in our ice-locked January could believe in the sounds of bird cries in serene, honey-sweet, misty May dawns? But it is here.

We ask ourselves, is this the same land that only a few months ago lay in sheaths of snow and ice and swept by bitter winds?

The stern reality of our winter’s long siege is over. Now the long, lovely light of May falls on the streets lately so deep in snow. The first act of Die Walkure, an opera by Richard Wagner, has the line, “Thou are the spring for which I sighed in winter’s cold embrace.”

These are probably the best hours, the best days of the year. These are the Elysian days, when the mornings are fresh and crisp, and the whippoorwills call at dusk. There is all this and more that we waited for through those rigorous weeks of winter.

Part of May’s glory is that it comes after a hard New England winter. There is the magnificence of life returning and life renewed. I suppose this is a picture from which one can draw several lessons. For example, it reminds us that all cares and sorrows are transient and that in the end good triumphs.

Most of all, I imagine, when spring comes after a hard winter, it is fair to say it is a token that happiness follows on sorrow; the Paschal mystery, through death to life.

It is an obvious fact that suffering occupies a large place in the life of every individual. As Teresa of Avila stated, “in one way or another we must carry the cross all our lives” (Interior Castle, Fifth Mansion, ch.28). In his style, Jesuit philosopher and author Teilhard de Chardin observed that “roughly half the things in life are things we undergo, or which overtake us without warning.”

Life is marked with the sign of the Cross.

I’ve heard it said that Catholics worship sorrow. That’s not true. But there is Catholicism’s recognition that life is essentially tragic and you cannot live in time without living with sorrow as well. Everywhere the Cross. What accompanies this is the insight that we only really learn from our sufferings. There are essentials we would never have known if we hadn’t gone through the sufferings.

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor, theologian, and anti-Nazi martyr wrote, “Pain is the holy angel who shows us treasures that would otherwise remain forever hidden.”

In Hinduism the god of tears, Rodra, is at the same time the god of loving joy and prosperity.

The coming of May after a hard winter reminds us of that line in the Book of Job: “you shall forget your misery, or recall it like waters that have ebbed away” (11:16).

I love the legend about the lady “Much-Afraid.” When Much-Afraid begins her journey to the High Places she is given two silent companions who will be with her until the end. Their names are Sorrow and Suffering, and Much-Afraid recoils from them. She complains bitterly. But as time passes she grows to love them, and by the end of the journey she realizes that no one but they could have accompanied her to the High Places.

So we sing our song of winter fled and summer soon to be. All that is good and beautiful has come again to us with the sunlight and warmth, save those we still love and can see no more. 

The ‘Medium & the Message’
| May 23, 2014 • by By Frank Derosa


Twitter meant the chirping of birds, Google was the last name of Barney, a comic strip character, and the term Internet was virtually unknown at the time of the Church’s first World Communications Day in 1967. Oh, how media and vocabulary have changed.

Pope Paul VI launched WCD in May of that year, an initiative minimally recognized and even less observed in the almost half-century since then. Yes, it is noted in some places, but if you Google it, reports of commemorative events are few.

World Communications Day grew out of Vatican II’s 1963 Decree on the Media of Social Communications, Inter Mirifica, one of the first of 16 documents that came out of the historic conclave. Media appear to have had the Council Fathers’ attention almost right away.

The decree called for a day each year for the Church to focus on the responsible use of communications. Pope Paul chose the Sunday before Pentecost to celebrate it, June 1 this year.

In the conciliar days of the 1960s, media generally meant the traditional forms: press, film, television and radio. The decree urged that they function “for the good of society, whose fate depends more and more on their proper use.” Pope Paul described them as “noble” services to be used responsibly and with respect for the dignity of others.

If written today, Inter Mirifica would have a more expansive cast, from the Internet to digital media to social networks—emails and blogs, ebooks and video games, Facebook and Twitter, and on into cyberspace. But it would continue to recognize the potential of new and interactive media to connect people for the common good.

In his WCD statement this year, Pope Francis stated that the Internet is “a gift of God” when users understand its “immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity.” He said good communication “helps us grow closer, to know one another better and ultimately to grow in unity.”

The Pope’s worthy and hopeful message is too often honored in the breach. When we travel daily along the digital highway, we sometimes see the Internet and social media galloping into the wild, wild West, with too few sheriffs on patrol providing checks and balances on how people ought to express themselves.

For young people, the new media platforms can create healthy connections. They are drawn to them with great curiosity. Bishop Frank Caggiano spoke clearly when he said they “are formed” by it and the Church needs to “baptize” the venues. Parental guidance and oversight are critical to guiding them to use communications vehicles like text messages wisely and to avoid being exploited.

Websites and blogs, now part of our media landscape, were unknown terms and entities in 1967. Today, Catholic contributions into these fields are easy-to-find portals into what the Church teaches and what people in the Church world are saying and doing. Many dioceses, like Bridgeport, and a growing number of parishes have developed attractive websites that let you in on life in their faith communities.

Two Catholic bloggers, among others, provide a real service. Early-30-something Rocco Palmo, a faith-filled and wired-in Vaticanologist from Philadelphia, produces the respected and sometimes intriguing “Whispers in the Loggia.” He provides thoughtful commentary and timely texts. Brooklyn Deacon Greg Kandra searches the global media world for informative, inspiring and entertaining religious content for his “The Deacon’s Bench.” A bonus is reading the weekly homilies he prepares for his parish.

Reading Catholic blogs is not yet high on the list for weekly Mass-goers, however. Only 13 percent do so, according to Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. That number ought to grow. Data on the ages of people who read them would likely find that those who do include many who remember Philco radios, rotary phones and Dumont televisions.

With its 48th incarnation this year, World Communications Day reminds us that in an age of hashtags, “likes” and tweets, all media—the traditional and the new—can enhance relationships and promote the common good when we use them in a responsible way.

Comment welcomed. No password needed.

Moms and Sons
| May 23, 2014


STAMFORD—Trinity Catholic High School’s annual Mother-Senior Son Communion Breakfast took place at the Italian Center in Stamford on May 18.

Father Sam Kachuba, Trinity’s spiritual director, celebrated the Mass.

St. Catherine of Siena cagers capture title
| May 23, 2014 • by By Trumbull Times


TRUMBULL—St. Catherine of Siena School in Trumbull won the title in the 14-team Suburban Girls Basketball League, made up of local parish and school teams fourth grade or below.

They finished the season with a 20-0 record. Team members (front row l-r) in photo are: Addison Strouse, Caroline Begg, Ellie Moffat and Sami Bacarella; (second row) coach Doug Moffat, Jodan Jones, Olivia Augustine, Amy Beddoe, Kate Rudini and coach David Rudini.

Woman's History Month essay winners
| May 23, 2014


STRATFORD—Congratulations to St. James School sixth-grader Ethan Miller, who was the first place winner in the State of Connecticut Woman's History Month Essay Contest at his grade level and to Ali Gordon, who was the runner up.

Click here to see additional pictures of the event.

Each honored essayist received a certificate from the State of Connecticut. Principal James Gieryng (l) and their teacher, Claire Casey, also were recognized by the State for their school’s participation in the contest.

Knights helping those who help others
| May 22, 2014


NORWALK—On May 10, the Knights of Columbus Council #14360 undertook a major project at Notre Dame Convalescent Home on West Rocks Road in Norwalk.

The Knights cleaned out the home’s basement, which was filled with old broken wheelchairs and other outdated or broken equipment. Due to a wonderful turnout by the Knights, what could have been a long and tedious job was completed in less than two hours.

Special thanks to AJ Cossuto and AJ’s Landscaping for lending a truck to transport the refuse to the dump and the recycling outlet.

Council #14360 has helped with yard work and maintenance projects over the last few years, since the home is on a limited budget.  They have also made financial contributions from the council’s yearly fundraisers for capital improvements.  

Notre Dame Convalescent Home is located on five landscaped acres in Norwalk. The one-story residence consisting of sixty nursing care beds is operated under the loving sponsorship of the Sisters of St Thomas of Villanova and lead by Sister Marie Lucie Monast, S.S.T.V. and Sister Frances Golder S.S.T.V. Their main goal is to optimize the quality of life for the chronically ill and convalescent elderly.  
"The Saint Matthew Knights of Columbus made a difference in our city of Norwalk by giving up their Saturday morning and helping out a local Nursing Home,” said Sister Lucie.

Grand Knight George Ribellino says “The focus of being a Knight is to not only help the Church but help the community. It’s those around us that ultimately need the help and support, and we as Knights are more than willing and excited to do that.  Notre Dame does such a great job with caring for our elderly and it is an honor to help them.”

K of C St. Matthew Council #14360 is located in Norwalk and their fundraisers help many local organizations around the city, such as Malta House and Foster Care Agency of Connecticut.  Check out for more information.

Caroline House preschoolers are “getting ready to run”
| May 22, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Trifitness of Fairfield is hosting their fifth annual Seaside Sprint on Sunday, June 8,with a portion of the proceeds to benefit Caroline House of Bridgeport.

Come and join the fastest and safest triathlon course in Connecticut! The sprint distance triathlon is set on a very flat course, closed to traffic for a great start of a triathlete’s  season.

Perfect for beginners and seasoned athletes. This year’s race is adding a duathlon option and the duathletes will start with the first wave. As a special treat to all the children under 12, Trifitness will host a free fun run and at 9 am. To register and find out more information go to

Trifitness owner Pascale Butcher says “Trifitness is honored to support Caroline House and their mission to help immigrant women and children. I know many of our triathletes will be inspired by the commitment of these women to improve their lives by learning the English language.”

Caroline House is a nondenominational education center teaching literacy and life skills to economically disadvantaged immigrant women and children. Since opening its doors 18 years ago, Caroline House has nurtured and educated hundreds of women and children. All programs and services are provided free of charge. Grants, foundations and individual donors provide the financial support for our center.

For more info, contact: Christine Matthews Paine, Development Director
, Caroline House,

Merton Breakfast is testimony to faith in action
| May 22, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—Merton Center Director Mark Grasso told nearly 400 people that “poverty today is very complex, ” and featured speaker Cindy Bigelow proved the point when she shared her own story of working with a Fresh Air Fund Child and how difficult it has been to help her, at the Merton House Celebrity Breakfast.

The event, held in the Bridgeport Holiday Inn, raised over $170,000 for Merton Center, which is celebrating it 40th anniversary. The first diocesan soup kitchen serves and distributes more than 275,000 meals each year to the working poor and homeless.

“Our 40th year is the busiest on record and that’s disheartening. I wonder if the people who were there on that first day serving meals knew how complex it would be to serve people in poverty,” said Grasso. “Poverty has economic roots but that’s not everything. Substance abuse can drive people into poverty and poverty can drive people into substance abuse.”

Grasso, who served as social worker at Catholic Charities before being named to lead Merton House, said the many faces of poverty change dramatically at the three diocesan soup kitchens in Bridgeport, Stamford and Danbury, and guests require services beyond nutrition.

Once again, Fr. Charles Allen S.J. of Fairfield University served as host and handled the fund raising chores with his unique brand of humor and style. In his introduction of Cindy Bigelow, a Boston College graduate, he reminded her that Jesuit missionaries made the world safe for tea when they first visited China in 1616 and discovered the tasty brew.

Cindy Bigelow, President/CEO of Bigelow Tea in Fairfield riveted the audience with her story of a young girl named Tracey whom she took into her home one summer as part of the Fresh Air Fund and is now a part of her life.

“I’ve been blessed. I’ve never need a soup kitchen or shelter for my family or me. I’ve never had to navigate a difficult bureaucratic system to get help,” she said, describing the many challenges and reversals the young girl faced during her growing years. .

The first day they met, she had expected a cute five- year old to play with her own children, but a seven year old with “an attitude” and a world of problems got off the bus.  She needed medical care and other help, but more than that she needed a sense that someone cared.  

In describing the many problems the Tracey faced over the years, Bigelow gave insight to the importance and difficulties of working with kids held back by poverty and violence.

Tracey dropped out of school, became homeless, got pregnant, and was not always appreciative or able to take advantage of the opportunities that Bigelow provided her.  

“People have asked me over the last twenty years, ‘Why are you doing this?,’ and it’s the same question people may ask you who support the Merton Center,” she said, noting that she is the godmother of Tracy’s daughter. “She’s family now.”

“It’s not a Cinderella story, but it’s not a lost cause either. I’m just one person, but you are many. You are the reason that Merton Center can exist, and that it is a warm place to go. Gold bless you for your support of this essential party of our community.”

In brief remarks Merton Advisory Board member Mark Kelly welcomed guests and gave heartfelt remarks on his own 16-year service at Merton Center.

“Everybody in life should get involved. If you’ve never served others, you should try it. It will save your life,” said Kelly, who is president of Safety Marking in Bridgeport.

Kelly said that he and his son Bronson cooked and served 260 meals last Thanksgiving at the Merton Center, and he was stunned to recognize someone he had gone to high school with in line.

“How could it happen?  I thought, and then you realize that it could happen to anyone. Life comes with changes. Ten percent of our guests fall on hard times while 90 grew up in the system,” he said thanking the many donors who have supported Merton Center over the years. “I love this place, the Merton Center.”

During the breakfast the Merton Center honored board member Joe Mulcahy of Fairfield posthumously by creating the first Joseph E. Mulcahy Creative Service Award.  Joe was fondly recalled for his commitment to Merton Center guests. Just before his death he worked with Ed Mitchell’s to provide socks and underwear for guests who were homeless.  

Mark Grasso and member of the Mulcahy family presented the first Mulcahy award to Judge F. Paul Kurmay, Deacon of St. Mark Parish in Stratford, for his outstanding working in purchasing food, cooking and serving meals meal three times a month at Merton Center. Deacon Kurmay was honored for trading in his Judge’s robes for a chef’s outfit and handling the kitchen.  His work has also encouraged other parishes to get involved.

In his closing remarks, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano praised the donors and thanked them for “putting their faith into action” to help those who are often neglected and unloved.

“I am so deeply impressed. In your presence and witness this morning, I see what is best about the community and the Church. Through your efforts, Merton House is the home for those who are seeking a home. Here they know they are lovable and not forgotten.”

The bishop said that in the Gospel of John, the evangelist asks, “How can you love the God you don’t see if you can’t love the neighbor who you do see.  Your charity makes faith real.”

Merton Center is sponsored by Catholic Charities. It is located at 43 Madison Avenue in Bridgeport. To serve as a volunteer or make a gift, please call 203.367.9036. Online:


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Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna

Getting Back on the Spiritual Track
| May 21, 2014


Last Friday evening, at St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan, the second Listening Session for the upcoming Synod was held. The youngest person in attendance was in his early twenties, and there were a few thirty-somethings there too, but by and large the audience was comprised of middle-aged people and senior citizens. Admittedly, it would have likely been difficult for parents to convince their children and teens to come to a two-hour listening session on a Friday evening in May.

The absence of children, teenagers and even twenty and thirty year-olds was noted repeatedly by those who made comments. In fact, the absence of young people at the listening session seemed to symbolize a primary problem facing the Church: the absence of young people and young families at Sunday Mass. Even though teenagers were not present at the listening session, many adults who did speak repeatedly mentioned the “Emmaus” retreat program that has been so successful over the years at St. Aloysius. The listening session was certainly not limited to St. Aloysius parishioners, but of the 200 or so people who attended, it seemed like St. Aloysius was very well-represented. When the theme emerged that young people are not practicing their faith, St. Aloysius parishioners understandably touted their own retreat program, and they vouched that it helps teens to stay involved in the faith during high school and perhaps even helps them remain practicing Catholics into adulthood.

After the session, I could not help but reflect upon my own experience with  Emmaus. When I was in ninth grade, Emmaus retreats were very popular at Assumption Parish in Westport, my home parish. In the fall of my freshman year of high school, I joined a large group of other teens from my parish and elsewhere and we traveled to Wilton for a weekend retreat. It was a tremendous experience, and when I returned home on Sunday evening, I was definitely on a spiritual high.

Sadly, the spiritual high did not last very long and I plummeted rather quickly into a fairly severe spiritual low. In retrospect, I believe that I thought the world had changed; in truth, I was invited to change but the world was very much the same as I had left it before departing for the retreat.

In the months and years that passed after my difficult post-retreat experience, I decided that if I ever had the chance, I would speak about the dangers of spiritual highs and lows following retreats. Now I have that chance!

Unlike St. Aloysius, the Emmaus retreat program at Assumption eventually withered away. It takes a large army of adult volunteers to make a retreat program like Emmaus work, and St. Aloysius is to be commended for keeping the retreats going strong for so many years. It has been over thirty years since I attended my first Emmaus weekend, but if I had one suggestion to make, it would be to prepare the participants and perhaps the volunteers, too, for the return to “the real world” when the retreat is over.

Looking back, my powerful spiritual response to the Emmaus retreat may have revealed that I had a budding priestly vocation (but it would still take me nearly twenty years before I entered seminary!). For others, who may not have experienced a stirring religious vocation, Emmaus provided a first-time personal encounter with God and the joy that experience brings.

When I look even more closely at the entire experience, it is very likely that the powerful let-down I experienced afterward represented my first encounter with feelings of depression. Can I conclude then that my first spiritual retreat led to my first encounter with real feelings of depression? Fortunately, it is not that simple.

The first thing that could have helped would have been a discussion ahead of time of possible feelings of sadness in the days following the retreat. The spiritual joy in the communal experience of Emmaus would not be able to withstand the drudgery of everyday life once our schedules returned to normal. If I had been forewarned about a possible let-down after the retreat, I probably could have dealt better with it. Unfortunately, because I felt confusion after such a great experience, my feelings of sadness – even depression – made me wonder if the Emmaus experience had been real or if it had been illusory.

The second point that could have prepared me for a spiritual let-down is a more sophisticated one, but it applies to not only first-time retreatants but also to grizzled old veterans in life-long pursuit of God. The spiritual life, by its very nature, is filled with ups and downs.

A point of sophistication in spiritual discernment regards the distinction between the spiritual and the emotional. Spirituality and emotions are linked but they are not one and the same thing. A spiritually and emotionally healthy and mature individual can identify the different movements of the purely spiritual and the purely emotional. It would be unrealistic for anyone to expect to achieve complete mastery over our spiritual and emotional selves during our lifetimes. The best we can probably hope for is to be able to identify emotions like anger and realize that feeling angry does not mean that we are becoming less holy!

For people who are beginners in prayer to those who are “professional pray-ers,” the truth is that we cannot always be as fervent as we would like to be when it comes to prayer and pursuing growth in holiness. As people of prayer, we always need to be aware that some days we may want to pray and believe that we will never be lukewarm again; the next day, it may be difficult to make the Sign of the Cross!

The Holy Spirit – the Spirit of prayer – blows when and where He will, and it is perhaps for our salvation that sometimes we find it difficult, even loathsome to pray. It keeps us humble, and reminds us that prayer itself – and the desire to pray – is a gift from God. It is easy for us to believe that we are very holy when it is easy to pray; sadly it is just as easy to get discouraged when our fervor runs out.

In order to truly grow in holiness in response to God’s grace, we must be willing to be spiritual warriors and engage in spiritual warfare, primarily within ourselves. Those who can keep to their course of prayer and devotion when their souls feel arid will truly merit great graces. For the sake of full disclosure, I admit that I usually “wimp out” when it becomes difficult to pray, even though I know how beneficial it would be to discipline and mortify myself. In truth, my discussion about prayer at this point has turned mainly aspirational because I do not really practice consistent prayer when I am in the spiritual doldrums.

My main point is that everyone who pursues intense prayer will eventually feel like they have run out of gas. This is normal. My intense Emmaus experience as a teenager could not possibly have kept me perpetually in the spiritual heavens. I had to come back down to earth. Sadly, I was unprepared for the crash landing.

When I was thirty years old, I entered St. John Fisher seminary to study for the priesthood. Soon after the semester began, one of my classmates came to me to discuss how discouraged he felt because his prayer was so “dry.” It was difficult for him to find any joy in our daily communal prayers and in our liturgies and devotions. If I could return to that conversation today, I would assure him that it might be a very good thing that he was finding it so difficult to pray. It might, in fact, be the Holy Spirit strengthening him for spiritual combat to come.

Faith, on our part, demands us to believe that God will have mercy on us eventually, and restore the joy we experience in prayer. In my own life, I have discovered that whenever God sends me into the spiritual desert – where it is difficult to pray—I am a better person and a better Christian for it when I eventually emerge on the other side.

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Cardinal Egan will speak at Fisher’s 25th
| May 21, 2014


A generous outpouring of holy oil blesses the altar of the chapel
of St. John Fisher in Stamford. Bishop Egan’s foresight and faith
opened the seminary, which has seen 92 men ordained
to the priesthood.

STAMFORD—Edward Cardinal Egan, former Bishop of Bridgeport, will be the celebrant and homilist at the 25th Anniversary Mass for St. John Fisher Seminary, to be held on June 20 at 6 pm at Assumption Parish in Westport.

A celebration with musical entertainment will follow at The Inn at Longshore in Westport.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will preside at Mass and speak during the anniversary reception.

The evening will celebrate the contributions of the many priests and lay leaders who have supported the growth of St. John Fisher Seminary Residence in Trumbull since it was opened by Bishop Egan in 1989.  

Msgr. Stephen DiGiovanni, first rector of Fisher and current pastor of the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist in Stamford, will also be honored for his contributions as a founder of the seminary.

“We are fortunate as a diocese that Cardinal Egan had the foresight and the faith to open St. John Fisher Seminary Residence during his tenure here,” said Bishop Caggiano. “To date, 92 men who resided there have been ordained to the priesthood. It is a living and enduring legacy that Cardinal Egan has left us and we are blessed to be able to celebrate that with him.”

Bishop Caggiano said he was also profoundly grateful for the lay people who have supported St. John Fisher Seminary Residence over the years through their gifts to the Annual Appeal and numerous voluntary efforts on behalf of seminarians.

The celebration will recognize six people for their support of St. John Fisher over the years: Philip and Judith DeFelice, parishioners of the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist in Stamford; David Harvey of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan; R. James Long, Ph.D., a member of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Fairfield; John J. Pioli, Ph.D. and Liane M. Pioli, Ph.D., of Notre Dame Parish in Easton.

Dr. Liane Pioli and Dr. John Pioli have provided evaluation services for incoming seminarians of the diocese for the past 24 years. This contribution to the assessment of prospective seminarians has been most valuable to the vocation ministry. Their thoughtful, thorough and pastoral approach to their work has been appreciated by their clients and those responsible for the formation of seminarians. They both hold Ph.D. degrees from St. John’s University in Jamaica, NY. The couple have been married for 34 years and have three sons.

R. James Long, Ph.D., has been a faculty member at St. John Fisher Seminary for the past 24 years. A professor of philosophy at Fairfield University, Dr. Long helped shape the philosophy curriculum at St. John Fisher in the very early days of the seminary program.

Dr. Long earned his doctorate from the University of Toronto and holds a licentiate in medieval studies from the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies. He has published nine books and more than 60 articles on medieval philosophy and has served as president of the Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy. Dr. Long has received numerous academic awards throughout his distinguished career. He and his wife, Wendy, have three sons.

Judith and Philip DeFelice have been members of the St. John Fisher Seminary family since 1995, when Judy began working for Msgr. Stephen DiGiovanni, the first rector. As administrative assistant to all subsequent rectors, she has been very involved in the day-to-day activities of Fisher for nearly 20 years.

Philip, a general contractor and master carpenter, built the Adoration Chapel and the Chapel of the Holy Cross at St. John Fisher Seminary, both of which are recognized for their beauty and craftsmanship. In addition to the seminary, his work can be seen throughout the diocese, including St. Augustine Cathedral.

They have eight children, 25 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren with another one on the way.

David Harvey started teaching Latin at St. John Fisher Seminary in 1990; music and Greek were soon added to his responsibilities. But his contributions to the life of the seminary extend far beyond that. His philosophy about the integration of his courses with the life of the seminary community has created a wonderful esprit de corps: “I use Latin and music instruction to create a relationship with the seminarians, which gives me insight into their personalities, formation and discernment. I use this insight to give another perspective to the rector and to the seminarians.  I also do my part to create a culture where respect and friendliness are valued.”

David and his wife, Carol, reside in New Canaan. They have two sons.

(To make a reservation to attend the 25th Anniversary Reception at the Inn at Longshore, contact Allison McCarthy, assistant to the director of seminarian formation St. John Fisher Seminary: 203.322.5331 or email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

What do young people want from the Church?
| May 20, 2014


FAIRFIELD—What do parents want from the Church for their teens and young adults? More active youth groups, contemporary music, more youth-targeted sermons.

What do young people want? Better religious education programs, more opportunities to be involved in parish life, greater outreach to the poor.

They think readers at Mass should be better prepared and that Eucharistic ministers should be more formally dressed.

They want more bi-lingual programs, more outreach to public school teens and special services for young people struggling with their faith.

Oh, yes, and they want active youth groups, engaging music, good preachers and more modern prayers.

Those were some of the surprising responses to a Youth Listening Session for Synod 2014, held on May 17 at Notre Dame High School in Fairfield.

“You are one of my highest priorities as Bishop of Bridgeport,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano told the more than 200 youth in his opening remarks.

The agenda for the afternoon asked youth of the diocese to consider what made them proud to be Catholic. They were asked what topics the synod should discuss, and what changes they would like to see in the diocese. As the first fully “tech” generation, they suggested ways to use technology for the advancement of the Church, and they had time for an open forum with Bishop Caggiano.

The young Catholics gathered on this May afternoon take their faith seriously. Proud that their faith encourages them to think of the needs of other people, they have worked in soup kitchens and volunteered in Appalachia. They have prepared sandwiches and spent the dark hours of frigid winter nights delivering them to the poor in the Bronx. They welcome the opportunity to experience God’s love in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. They wish for more occasions for Eucharistic Adoration.

They know, as teens and young adults, that they are not the future of the Church—they ARE the Church. Now. Today. Not in some future time.

Bishop Caggiano concluded the listening session with a ceremony that put weight behind his priority for youth. He called forward 33 youth who will serve as delegates to Synod 2014. The youth delegation will form the largest single group of delegates to the Synod General Sessions, which will begin this fall.

Bishop Caggiano’s Ordination Homily: Saint Augustine Cathedral, Bridgeport, CT
| May 20, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—We are gathered today to ask that the great gift of the Holy Spirit come in fire and in power upon these our brothers, so that through the laying on of hands, and the anointing with Sacred Chrism, they may be configured to Christ the High Priest, for service to the Church and to the world.

My brothers, we gather with you, Christopher, Robert and Andrew, so that this great gift of the Holy Spirit may come upon you and allow you to enter into the ranks of the sacred priesthood. It is the same Holy Spirit that came upon you on the day of your baptism, when the Spirit made you a son of God, gave to you the promise of eternal life, and also gave you a share in the threefold office of Christ: priest, prophet and king. And today we gather here to ask that that same Holy Spirit come upon you in power and in fire, to configure you to Christ the High Priest so that you may share in a unique and unrepeatable way in the threefold office of the Lord, for the sanctification of God’s people and for the salvation of the entire world. For he will come upon you in fire. He will burn from you all that is unworthy (so that you) may serve him well. And he will come upon you in power because he will teach you, as he has taught all of us who share this office, how it truly is to serve God’s people who make up the Body of Christ, to serve them in joy, in holiness, and in faith.

My friends, today is a day to ponder the great goodness of God, and to pause and give thanks for so many gifts. First and foremost, to ponder the goodness of God, because my brothers, you know as well as I that you were chosen by the Lord from the very beginning of time. Before you were even conceived in your mother’s womb, God called you. And he has sought you. He has cared for you. He has encouraged you. He has challenged you. He has loved you.

And you were also given into the hands of those who have cared for you so much: your parents; grandparents; brothers; sisters; relatives; friends; fellow pilgrims and parishioners. They have helped to bring out the best in you, for they too have loved you, supported you, corrected you, encouraged you, to prepare you for this day. Many are here, and some have gone to the eternal rest of everlasting life, but on behalf of all who are gathered here, I wish to say thank you, for all those, for all of you who have allowed these three talented, extraordinarily gifted men to say “yes” to the Lord’s call.

But we also thank many others, don’t we? We thank the priests, the deacons, the consecrated women and men, and the parishioners of the parishes where you were born, raised and served all throughout these years, for they too have challenged you, and have loved you, and have in many ways helped to form you into the men that you are. So I join all of you in thanking all of them – many who are here, many more who are not – for the great gift that they have given you this day. For you are truly men of many gifts and talents, but they are all from the Lord; they are not yours. The Lord has molded you by your experiences, your training, your successes, and your failures. He has purified you from your sinfulness. He has forgiven you, and He has brought you to this moment, so that his Holy Spirit will configure you now and for all ages to his image of the crucified and risen High Priest.

This, my friends, is a singular moment of grace. So let us consider for a moment the vocation that these three, our brothers will be called to; for (they) will share in the threefold office of Christ: priest, prophet and king (in service of God’s people).  What is it that the Lord is calling you to do? To share his priestly office; to lead the celebrations of the mysteries of faith, so that God’s people may grow in holiness and in sanctity. Consider, you will be the humble vehicle through which the chains of sin will be broken by the grace of Christ, risen, ascended and glorified at the right hand of His Father. It will be through your hands that you will anoint God’s people not only for the forgiveness of their sins, but in the moment of their dying, to be prepared to stand before the merciful judgment seat of our Lord.

It will be your singular privilege to come to the altar of God, and through your unworthy hands – as mine are unworthy – to take bread and wine, and through the consecration that can only come through the power of the Holy Spirit…through the ministerial priesthood, that bread and wine becomes the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of the one and only Savior the world will ever know: as food for God’s people for the journey unto everlasting life.

Allow me to give to you some holy advice, that is not mine, but that comes from St. Augustine. Augustine, my friends, taught his congregation nearly sixteen-hundred years ago, that we receive the Body of Christ to become the Body of Christ. I say to you, my brothers (to be ordained), that as you share the priestly office of Jesus, pursue the call to holiness in your own lives, for it is the preeminent call of your lives. Pray often. Pray deeply, and do not make the mistake to think that you are too busy to pray: for prayer is the foundation of your entire priestly life, as it is the foundation – please God – of my life and the life of every priest.

My prayer for you is that you will become, ever more deeply, the mysteries that you celebrate. But you are also called to the prophetic office of Christ, which means that you, like me, are called to teach and preach God’s truth, which comes to us through the Sacred Scriptures, through the Sacred Tradition of the Church that is authentically interpreted by the Magisterium of the Church. You, like all of us who share this ministry, are asked to preach and teach the Word of God, in season and out of season, when people like it, and when they don’t. It will be for you to be able to tell those who oppose the Word of God, that we stand firm in what we believe; for the world is hungry for the truth.

And perhaps one of the greatest challenges you and I face, is to be able to lead those who wish to embrace only part of the truth with patience, and mercy and charity; to lead them ever more deeply to understand that the truth is not something; it is someone. (The truth) is Jesus, the Lord. And I pray that you will become a living homily, and that the Word of God will dwell deeply inside of you. So that all that you do and all that you say will reflect the truth, who is Christ.

And lastly, you will be asked to embrace and live the kingly office of Christ, and the Lord teaches us what that means when he said, “I have come, not to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as ransom for the many.” My friends, we know that authority in the Church is all about service in love, and so I ask you to be the best of servants; to allow God’s people to know their gifts and talents and to help them bring them forward to build up the Body of Christ, so that the Church may grow in unity, and charity and peace. I ask you to make collaboration the hallmark of all that you do, so that we can realize the prayer of the Lord: that we may all be one as He is one with His Father.

I have every confidence that you will give generously and sacrificially as servants because you have already done so, so generously, all of these past years. May the Lord grant you the grace to be truly a king of service.

But my friends, my brothers and sisters, allow me to remind you, as I remind myself, of the words of St. John Vianney, who once said that, “A priest is not a priest for himself; he is a priest for you.” These three, our brothers, in just a few moments, will freely and willingly give their entire lives, without reservation, for the service of the Lord, and for you and me. And so I ask you to support them, respect them, encourage them, love them, as your priests and as your brothers in the Lord. And I ask you, as I ask you to do for all priests, in very tangible and concrete ways to encourage and support and love them; for the ministry we share is not always easy, as you know. But with your love and support, we who are priests in your midst will be able – even though we are never worthy; none of us: myself included – to share this great vocation; that we will be able to do it well, to the best of our human abilities, blessed with the grace of Christ, because your love will help to support us every step of the way.

And so let me end by saying this: We gather here on Saturday, which is Our Lady’s day, and she is present here; she will be present with you every moment of your priesthood. She comes here as your mother, as she is our mother, and my mother. May you always keep her close to your heart; turn to her in your need; never let her be far. She will always answer your prayers and she will lead you always to her Son. Into His image we are configured, because her Son is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. He is, as we sing, the Alpha and the Omega. He is the beginning. He is the end. He is the savior and the redeemer. He is our crucified and risen High Priest; in His image, you will now live forever.

To Him be glory, and honor, now and forever. Amen.

Spotlight on the peanut butter and jelly project
| May 20, 2014


FAIRFIELD—News 8 and the Knights of Columbus teamed up to recognize the good work of St. Catherine Academy in Fairfield as part of their "Charity in Action" feature that inspires viewers across the state.

This PSA is being shown at various times on WTNH and we will be featured on the noon show on May 30th.

Click here to veiw St. Catherine's Academy video on the peanut butter and jelly project.

Bishop urges new priests to pray, prophesize and serve
| May 18, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—“We ask that the gift of the Holy Spirit come to our Brothers who are configured to Christ today,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said at the ordination of three men to the priesthood on Saturday.

Joined by more than 100 diocesan priests and deacons, the three men processed into St. Augustine Cathedral under a brilliant mid-morning sun after a night of torrential rains.

“Do you know them to be worthy?” the bishop asked during the presentation of candidates, as the Christopher Perrella, Andrew Vill and Robert Wolfe came forward and face their families, friends, brother priests, and other worshippers who filled the Cathedral in downtown Bridgeport to witness their ordination. “Do you promise obedience to me and my successors?” the Bishop asked during the Rite of Ordination. ‘I do,” the men responded.

“We chose them, our brothers, for the orders of the priesthood. Thanks be to God,” the bishop said, igniting a wave of thunderous applause moved throughout the Church and reached the three young men at the front of the altar.

The bishop told the three men that he and all priests are unworthy of the great gift they receive at ordination but that if they seek to live a life of holiness, “The Holy Spirit will be upon you in fire and burn away that is unworthy.”

In his homily, the bishop offered only one word of advice, “Pray,” he told the “Never be too busy to pray. It is the foundation of your priestly life. You will become the mystery you celebrate by praying.”

Noting that celebrating the Eucharist is the great gift of the priesthood, the Bishop asked the new priests to remember the words of St. Augustine more than 1,600 years ago. “We receive the Body of Christ to become like the Body of Christ.”

The bishop told the men that they must “preach and teach the word of God in season and out of season, when people like it and when they don’t, because the world is hungry for the truth.”

At the end of the two-hour ordination Mass, the Bishop thanked all of the family members, friends and priests who supported the men in their vocation.

“Father Perrella, Father Vill, Father Wolfe—doesn’t that sound good,” he said, as the gathering once again broke into applause.

Father Christopher J. Perrella

Father Christopher Perrella, 26, is one of three children of Frank and Anne Perrella. He was born in Philadelphia, Pa., and grew up in Amherst, N.H. His family members still live in New Hampshire, where his parents are members of Sainte Marie Parish in Manchester.

An energetic young man with a love of playing ultimate Frisbee and a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, he began to consider a vocation to the priesthood during college at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. He graduated in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.

A visit to St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford led to his entry into the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Exploring this diocese, he spent the summer after graduation at St. Pius X Parish in Fairfield before entering Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. In 2013, while he was in the seminary, he was in charge of the Mount2000 High School Youth Retreat.

He deepened his friendship with seminarians from Fairfield County at Mount St. Mary’s and found more friends during a summer assignment at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown. St. Rose is now his home parish, and he will celebrate his first Mass there.

“God has done so much in my life to bring me to this point,” he says. “Lots of personal growth, lots of suffering, and an ever-deepening relationship with the Lord. I know God now in ways that I never knew him before, and discovering my vocation to be a priest was part of that. As I got to know God more closely, I saw more clearly who he had made me to be, and that was to be his priest.”

Father Perrella will celebrate his first Mass on May 18 at 12 noon at St. Rose of Lima. Father Marc Montminy, his former home parish pastor, will deliver the homily.

Father Andrew A. Vill

Father Andrew Vill, 25, grew up in Ridgefield, where his parents, Andrew and Angela Vill, are members of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish. His brother and two sisters all live in Fairfield County. Another brother, Christopher, is deceased.

He attended Ridgebury Elementary School, East Ridge Middle School and Ridgefield High School, where he graduated in 2006. After a year at the University of Connecticut he followed a call to the priesthood, entering St. John Fisher Seminary. He graduated from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, and completed his bachelor of sacred theology degree at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, with residence at the North American College. He plans to return to Rome to complete a degree at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies in Marriage and Family, graduating in 2015.

An Eagle Scout, Father Vill was named a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, Boy Scouting’s National Honor Society. He is a 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus.

“My time in seminary has been one of incredible growth and deepening in my relationship with Jesus Christ,” he says. “My vocation to serve as his priest has been the greatest joy of my life. The blessings which he has poured out upon me are innumerable. I look forward to many years of hard work and faithful service to God in the Diocese of Bridgeport.”

Father Vill will celebrate his first Mass on May 18 at 11:30 am at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Father Nick Cirillo, pastor of St. Edward the Confessor Parish in New Fairfield, will be the homilist.

Father Robert L. Wolfe

Father Robert Wolfe, 25, grew up in Shelton where his parents Robert and Pamela and his brother Nicklaus are still active members of St. Joseph Parish. He graduated from St. Joseph School in 2002 and received the Louis V. Gerstner Scholarship to St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, graduating in 2006.

He entered St. John Fisher in September of that year, and graduated from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, where he was a member of the Delta Epsilon Sigma National Honor Society, in 2010.

He has been in formation for the priesthood at the Pontifical North American College in Rome since 2010. After completing three years of studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University, he enrolled in the licentiate program at the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm, to which he will return this fall for his final year of studies.

Father Wolfe will celebrate his first Mass at St. Joseph’s on May 18 at 2 pm. Father Joseph Marcello, priest secretary to Archbishop William E. Lori of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, will be the homilist. Father Marcello both served as assistant director of vocations in this diocese and was spiritual director of St. Joseph High School during Father Wolfe’s time there as a student.

“I first thought about the possibility of priesthood when I was only eight years old,” he recalls. “I became an altar server not long after that. I can truly say that I consider this time spent growing up around the altar and the Mass as the source of my priestly vocation. During my freshman year at St. Joseph’s High School, as I continued to discern the Lord’s will for my life, I became convinced that I was, in fact, being called to priesthood. Twelve years of education, formation, conversation, and spiritual growth have brought me to this great day and I have nothing but gratitude and joy in my heart for the many graces that God, in his abundant mercy, has given me throughout these years of preparation. I rejoice in the mercy and the love of God and look forward to the many wondrous things he has in store for me in my priesthood!”

Click here to view a video of the day.

Click here to read Bishop Frank J. Caggiano's Homily.

Bringing Catholics back is concern at second Synod Listening Session
| May 17, 2014


NEW CANANN—Concern about the large number of Catholics who have left the Church and the need to better engage young people in parish life dominated the second Synod 2014 listening session held at St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan.

With more than 200 people seated on fold-up chairs under the bright lights of the St. Aloysius School gym, the ninety-minute session featured almost 100 comments from Catholics in the greater Norwalk area about what was right with the Church and what changes need to be made in the diocese.

The spirit of Pope Francis also loomed over the gathering with many speakers invoking his name as they urged the Church to be more welcoming and open to Catholics who feel alienated, and to serve others with joy and compassion.

As in the first session held in Stamford, a few speakers expressed concerns that their own family members have stopped attending Mass, while others urged the Church to play a more aggressive role in getting Catholics back to the faith.

“I’m 70 years old and have seven children but only one is a practicing Catholics. The others have gone to other religions or none at all,” said one man. “I don’t see any 30 year olds here. The people who are leaving the Church aren’t here.”

Another man said, “Silence won’t serve us well. Do we want them back? Do we want them to stay away?”

One woman noted that many young people who attend religious education classes and Catholic schools do not regularly go to Mass on Sunday.

“Our parents aren’t catechized,” she said, suggesting the Church should focus on adults. “We teach children and bless adults, while Jesus blessed children and taught adults.”

During the evening speakers addressed their comments to the Synod Commission panel who sat on the stage. Synod Director Msgr. Dariusz Zielonka moderated the evening, allowing two minutes for each comment.

Because the evening was designed as a listening session, the panel, including Bishop Caggiano, did not offer responses. However, the comments will be organized into categories and become the themes explored by the synod over the next year.

While participants voiced many concerns about the challenges facing the Church, they were also deeply grateful for their pastors, priests and deacons and for the gift of faith in their lives.

In the first question of the night designed to explore what is working in the diocese, speakers praised Catholic Charities for its outreach to the poor through New Covenant House and other programs, and gave high marks to diocesan youth programs and pastoral services including the Lenten Confession campaign. They also noted that information is freely accessible on the diocesan website and social media pages.

They were also grateful for Catholic schools and the presence of two Catholic universities within the diocese, along with the quality of many adult education programs offered by the diocese.

As in the first listening session, speakers called for a greater role for women in the parishes, more lay involvement in parish finances and business decisions to free up pastors for ministry, and new programs to engage youth and young couples in the life of parishes.

Once again speakers praised Bishop Caggiano for his openness and willingness to listen by calling for a Synod, and for his outreach to Voice of the Faithful earlier in the year.

Among the suggestions for improving the Church’s outreach was creating programs that engage entire families in acts of service; creating a list of volunteer opportunities on the diocesan website; offering conversion retreats for teens as well as adults; improving the quality of music in Churches by training parish musicians; providing more outreach groups to divorced Catholics; and greater cooperation with other faiths to have an impact on the secular world.

“I want to thank you for a very insightful and meaningful exchange of ideas and I am very grateful for your honesty and your willingness to speak your mind. We can only move forward in honesty,” Bishop Caggiano said to the gathering at the end of the session. The Bishop said he and the panel could already see some “commonality “ in the comments made in Stamford and New Canaan.

“This is a process of discernment as much as it is decision making,” he said in brief remarks thanking those who participated, and he drew laughter when he added. “I’m also giving you homework since you gave me enough tonight.”

“Pray for this process. Pray for me. The Lord will lead us to what we need to grow. The Lord lead us through his voice.”

Click here for slideshow

Second Listening Session for the Synod Tonight
| May 16, 2014


NEW CANAAN— The first of two listening sessions to be held this weekend for Synod 2014 will convene tonight, Friday, May 16, 7:30 pm at St. Aloysius School Gym, 40 Maple Street in New Canaan.

A second, special listening session for youth will be held tomorrow (Saturday, May 17) 1:30 pm at Notre Dame High School in Fairfield. (Admission will be confined to youth and adults who have completed a criminal background check and Virtus training.)

Tonight’s listening session at St. Aloysius is open to the public and will run for about 90 minutes. Parishioners from Vicariate 2 (parishes in Westport, Wilton, New Canaan, Weston, and Norwalk) will be given an opportunity to share their comments and thoughts about the

Input from area Catholics at the listening sessions will guide the formulation of topics and themes to be discussed in the 4th Synod of the Diocese of Bridgeport, “Building a Bridge to the Future.”

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and other leaders of Diocesan programs and ministries will attend the Listening Sessions to listen to comments about how the diocese can move forward and plan for the future.

“Since we expect a good turnout for the listening sessions and we wish to encourage as many people as possible to come forward, we have asked that speakers confine their comments within the context of the following three questions:

1. The strengths of the diocesan ministries are…
2. I would like to see new diocesan outreach in…

3. The diocese should improve the ministry by…

We hope that this format will allow as many as possible to present their thoughts publicly in a few words,” said Msgr. Dariusz, Synod Director.

A summary of the first listening session has been published in the May issue of Fairfield County Catholic and is also available on this website.

Those who are unable to attend the listening session can also submit your questions online in advances using Form LS (

Three men to be ordained to the priesthood
| May 15, 2014


BRIDGEPORT—It has been a year of “firsts” for Bishop Frank J. Caggiano. But he’s been in the Diocese of Bridgeport long enough now to have had the opportunity for his first “second.”

Click here for slideshow

On May 17, in St. Augustine Cathedral, he will perform one of the most fulfilling duties in the life of a bishop—the ordination of three young men as priests for the Diocese of Bridgeport. This is Bishop Caggiano’s second ordination; last December he ordained Father Rolando Arias to the priesthood.

In addition to their formal theological studies, all three of this May’s new priests have spent time at St. John Fisher Seminary, where they grow in faith as perceptive and well-balanced men. The formation experience at Fisher is designed to leave an imprint on their conscience and character and nourish their growth in faith.

“I am honored, humbled, and happy to soon call these three men ‘my brother priests,’” says Father Robert Kinnally, director of vocations and rector of St. John Fisher Seminary. “Deacons Chris, Andy, and Rob have been faithfully and prayerfully engaged in their formation from the very beginning. As priests, they will use the many gifts God has given them to bring people closer to Christ, and the joy that they exude in serving God’s people has—and will continue to be —inspiring and transforming. How blessed is the Church of Bridgeport to have these three new priests.”

Father Christopher J. Perrella

Father Christopher Perrella, 26, is one of three children of Frank and Anne Perrella. He was born in Philadelphia, Pa., and grew up in Amherst, N.H. His family members still live in New Hampshire, where his parents are members of Sainte Marie Parish in Manchester.

An energetic young man with a love of playing ultimate Frisbee and a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, he began to consider a vocation to the priesthood during college at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. He graduated in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.

A visit to St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford led to his entry into the Diocese of Bridgeport. Exploring this diocese, he spent the summer after graduation at St. Pius X Parish in Fairfield before entering Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. In 2013, while he was in the seminary, he was in charge of the Mount2000 High School Youth Retreat.

He deepened his friendship with seminarians from Fairfield County at Mount St. Mary’s and found more friends during a summer assignment at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown. St. Rose is now his home parish, and he will celebrate his first Mass there.

“God has done so much in my life to bring me to this point,” he says. “Lots of personal growth, lots of suffering, and an ever-deepening relationship with the Lord.  I know God now in ways that I never knew him before, and discovering my vocation to be a priest was part of that.  As I got to know God more closely, I saw more clearly who he had made me to be, and that was to be his priest.”

Father Perrella will celebrate his first Mass on May 18 at 12 noon at St. Rose of Lima. Father Marc Montminy, his former home parish pastor, will deliver the homily.

Father Andrew A. Vill

Father Andrew Vill, 25, grew up in Ridgefield, where his parents, Andrew and Angela Vill, are members of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish. His brother and two sisters all live in Fairfield County. Another brother, Christopher, is deceased.

He attended Ridgebury Elementary School, East Ridge Middle School and Ridgefield High School, where he graduated in 2006. After a year at the University of Connecticut he followed a call to the priesthood, entering St. John Fisher Seminary. He graduated from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, and completed his bachelor of sacred theology degree at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, with residence at the North American College. He plans to return to Rome to complete a degree at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies in Marriage and Family, graduating in 2015.

An Eagle Scout, Father Vill was named a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, Boy Scouting’s National Honor Society. He is a 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus.

“My time in seminary has been one of incredible growth and deepening in my relationship with Jesus Christ,” he says. “My vocation to serve as his priest has been the greatest joy of my life. The blessings which he has poured out upon me are innumerable. I look forward to many years of hard work and faithful service to God in the Diocese of Bridgeport.”

Father Vill will celebrate his first Mass on May 18 at 11:30 am at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Father Nick Cirillo, pastor of St. Edward the Confessor Parish in New Fairfield, will be the homilist.

Father Robert L. Wolfe

Father Robert Wolfe, 25, grew up in Shelton where his parents Robert and Pamela and his brother Nicklaus are still active members of St. Joseph Parish. He graduated from St. Joseph School in 2002 and received the Louis V. Gerstner Scholarship to St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, graduating in 2006.

He entered St. John Fisher in September of that year, and graduated from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, where he was a member of the Delta Epsilon Sigma National Honor Society, in 2010.

He has been in formation for the priesthood at the Pontifical North American College in Rome since 2010. After completing three years of studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University, he enrolled in the licentiate program at the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm, to which he will return this fall for his final year of studies.

Father Wolfe will celebrate his first Mass at St. Joseph’s on May 18 at 2 pm. Father Joseph Marcello, priest secretary to Archbishop William E. Lori of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, will be the homilist. Father Marcello both served as assistant director of vocations in this diocese and was spiritual director of St. Joseph High School during Father Wolfe’s time there as a student.

“I first thought about the possibility of priesthood when I was only eight years old,” he recalls. “I became an altar server not long after that. I can truly say that I consider this time spent growing up around the altar and the Mass as the source of my priestly vocation. During my freshman year at St. Joseph’s High School, as I continued to discern the Lord’s will for my life, I became convinced that I was, in fact, being called to priesthood. Twelve years of education, formation, conversation, and spiritual growth have brought me to this great day and I have nothing but gratitude and joy in my heart for the many graces that God, in his abundant mercy, has given me throughout these years of preparation. I rejoice in the mercy and the love of God and look forward to the many wondrous things he has in store for me in my priesthood!”                    

Golf Scores for Catholic Academies
| May 15, 2014


FAIRFIELD—The 2nd Annual Golf Classic to benefit inner-city students of the Catholic Academies of Bridgeport took place on Monday, May 12, at the Country Club of Fairfield.

The event raised more than $200,000, which will go toward financial aid for students in St. Ann, St. Andrew and Cathedral Academy.

The weather was picture-picture and participants enjoyed golf at its best on this links-style course.

Following golf was a live auction, which featured items like a table for the night at Roa's, a chef's tasting at Paci in Southport, a signed Derek Jeter jersey, tickets to the Giant's home opener with a signed Eli Manning football, and Legends Suite tickets to an upcoming Yankee/Red Sox game.

Funds raised in the Golf Class help to fill the gap between the average $6,000 cost of education per student and the amount families are capable of paying.

Each year the Catholic Academies of Bridgeport awards more than $2 million in scholarships.

The four Catholic Academy campuses educate a total of 1,025 children, with 66% being Catholic and 34% non-Catholic.

The Classic would not have been a success without the help of the planning committee chairs Jim Bailey, Bradford Evans and Marylou Queally Salvati.

Click to view Catholic Academies Golf event in Fairfield

Currabawn: Sound thinking and Spirituality
A blog by Fr. Colin McKenna

Please Pray for Priests
| May 12, 2014


Not long after Bishop Caggiano became our bishop, he informed the priests of the diocese that he wanted to encourage them to pray for one another. To help facilitate a spirit of brotherly prayer among his priests, Bishop Caggiano has had prayer cards printed each month with a priest to pray for designated for each day. The list of priests proceeds alphabetically; the first prayer card was issued just before January 1, 2014. Presently, May 1st was a day of prayer dedicated for Fr. Sean Kulacz and May 31st will be dedicated for Fr. Greg Mecca. After five months or so, we are about halfway through the alphabet of our nearly 200 priests. When the list concludes with priests whose last name begins with “Z,” the prayer list will begin again with those whose last names begin with “A”.

As opposed to religious order priests who usually live in community, diocesan priests often live alone or with just one other priest. As fewer and fewer priests remain to staff our parishes, more and more priests are living alone. The monthly prayer cards that Bishop Caggiano sends the priests powerfully remind the presbyterate (the priests in the diocese) that although we seem to serve in increasing isolation from one another, we still serve together under our bishop who is in communion with the Pope, the Bishop of Rome.

The prayer cards are designed to fit in the breviary, the book of prayer that priests promise to pray daily with and for the universal Church for the salvation of the world. It is very fitting for the priests of the diocese to begin their morning prayer each day by checking to see who among their brother priests has been designated that day for special, heartfelt prayer.  Some priests also make photocopies of the prayer cards and place them on or near the altar so that the priest of the day can be remembered in a special way at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

By taking the time to have the cards produced on a continual basis and sent to each priest, Bishop Caggiano gives witness to the importance of prayer in the lives of priests. It may seem like a small thing to some, but priests who pray for one another may together more effectively help build up the Kingdom of God here on earth.

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Bishop removes Fr. Stronkowski
| May 12, 2014


Photo by BK Angeletti, B.K. Angeletti

SHELTON—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has asked for and accepted the resignation of Fr. John J. Stronkowski from his pastoral duties at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Parish in Shelton.

In a letter distributed to all parishioners over the weekend, Bishop Caggiano said he removed Fr. Stronkowski as a result of his "persistent absenteeism from both the rectory and the parish and its ministries, his growing difficulties with both the staff and lay leaders of the parish and other personal and administrative shortcomings."

"Further, I have referred this issue to the Ministerial Misconduct Advisory Board for review and recommendation. The board assists me in reviewing cases of clerical misconduct, either involving adults or that occurs in the exercise of his ministry, and where I must consider action regarding that cleric's assignment, including temporary or permanent removal or suspension."

Fr. Stronkowski has been appointed administrator of the parish in September 2012, and was named as pastor in January 2014. He was scheduled to be formally installed as pastor in June.

However, a number of parish leaders came forward recently to express their concern about his frequent absenteeism and leadership problems.  

The Bishop was also made aware of rumors that Fr. Stronkowski was engaged in an affair with a woman from the area, though he denied the rumor.

Based on that meeting, the Bishop met with Fr. Stronkowski on Friday May 2, and asked for his resignation. All of the concerns and allegations will be brought before the Ministerial Misconduct Advisory Board.

Fr. Stronkowski agreed to take a leave of absence effective immediately, to seek professional evaluation, to spend time in prayer and to reflect upon his future in the ministry.

It has not been worked out whether he will participate in individual counseling, an outpatient program or a clinical program. The decision will be made in conjunction with the Ministerial Misconduct Board.

Diocesan officials met with parish lay leaders and staff on Monday May 5, to listen to concerns and plan for the future. During the meeting, parish staff reiterated the same concerns expressed by the volunteer lay leaders.

In the interim, the Bishop has appointed Fr. Frederick Saviano, the Bridgeport Diocese's 72-year-old director for the propagation of the faith, to serve as St. Margaret Mary's temporary administrator. The bishop said he expects to appoint a new pastor around June 15.

Fr. Saviano is known to many parishioners because he has filled in at Mass over the years, and he celebrated the First Communion Masses for the parish on the weekend of May 3-4.

Fr. Stronkowski Bio: The first priest ordained from his hometown of Beacon Falls, Conn., Fr. Stronkowski attended Holy Cross High School in Waterbury and St. Thomas Minor Seminary in Bloomfield. He completed his seminary studies at Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell and was ordained by Bishop Walter W. Curtis in 1985. His first appointment was a parochial vicar of St. Patrick Parish in Bridgeport and he later served at St. Gregory the Great Parish in Danbury.

In 1992, he served as administrator of Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Fairfield, and was named pastor of St. Ambrose Parish in October 2003.

A delayed vocation, Fr. Stronkowski put himself through college working construction jobs. He has maintained licenses as an electrician, plumber, and heating and air conditioning specialist. He is also a licensed health care administrator with a degree from the University of Connecticut.

His considerable construction background led to his service on the board of the Building and Sacred Arts Commission of the diocese.

Ministerial Misconduct Board: Bishop Caggiano announced the formation of a Ministerial Misconduct Board in February of this year to review cases involving a priest or deacon who is accused of misconduct involving another adult. It reviews cases in which the Bishop must consider action regarding a priest or deacon’s assignment, including removal or suspension.  

At the time, the Bishop said that in addition to reviewing adult misconduct not covered by the current review board, the new panel also creates a mechanism so that parishes including lay leadership are notified and consulted before a priest or deacon is reassigned after being removed from ministry.

“As I begin my ministry, I think it is important to create new structures to make sure I have the tools and resources to give me the assurance that any allegation is properly reviewed, taken to civil authorities if necessary, and that responsible and transparent actions be taken immediately,” Bishop Caggiano said.

“These new norms are presented for both the protection of our community of faithful and for the maintenance and protection of the integrity of the priesthood,” he added.

If a decision is made that a priest or deacon may return to his ministry or receive a new assignment, the Vicar for Clergy will meet with the priests, deacons, staff and parish lay leaders to review the proposed placement. Parish leaders will be briefed with a summary of the original offense and a report on the measures taken.

If the assignment is accepted, it will ordinarily be made on a provisional basis, requiring that the Vicar for Clergy visit the parish after a six-month period to ascertain the overall assignment. If the report is positive, the assignment will then be made permanent.


Click to read the copy of Bishop Caggiano’s letter distributed to all parishioners over the weekend.

Don't let bureaucracy block evangelization, pope says
| May 12, 2014 • by By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY—Too often Catholics turn the church into "a company that manufactures impediments" to faith, rather than a community that patiently helps people come to believe in Jesus, Pope Francis said.

"Grace is more important than bureaucracy," the pope said May 8 in a homily at his early morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis focused his homily on the day's first reading from the Acts of the Apostles (8:26-40), which details how the apostle Philip led the Ethiopian to faith and baptism.

The first thing the account shows, the pope said, is Philip's willingness to obey the Lord's call to leave what he was doing and set out. "Without this docility to the voice of God, no one can evangelize."

Second, the Bible explains how Philip walked with the Ethiopian, listening to his concerns, respecting his sensibilities and offering explanations.

"You cannot evangelize without dialogue. You just can't because you must begin where the person is," the pope said. "This is very important."

Pope Francis said he knew some people would object, "But, father, you waste so much time that way because everyone has his or her own story," experiences and ideas.

The pope said his response to that claim was to tell them: Look at how much time "God wasted in creating the world, and he did it right."

"Dialogue," the pope insisted. "Waste time with the other person because that person is the one God wants you to evangelize."

While they were still on the road, the Ethiopian saw some water and asked Philip to baptize him. And Philip, placing the Ethiopian "in the hands of God, in his grace," did so immediately, the pope said.

Trusting in God's grace, he said, is much more important that fulfilling some bureaucratic procedures and paperwork. "May the Lord help us understand this."

A consistent ethic of life protects everyone—no exceptions
| May 08, 2014


Making a Difference
by Tony Magliano

A Utah woman was recently charged with six counts of first-degree murder for allegedly killing six of her newborn infants, according to The Associated Press (AP).

Megan Huntsman, 39, confessed that from 1996 to 2006, she suffocated or strangled the six babies, packed them in boxes, and stored them in her Salt Lake City garage, reports AP.

But if Huntsman had agreed to have an abortion just prior to giving birth to each of the six babies, she would be legally innocent of all charges.

While suffocating or strangling born babies is certainly a hideous crime, it is no more hideous than brutally dismembering unborn babies through abortion. Yet, in the United States, abortion remains legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy.

This is totally illogical.

As a newborn infant is just as much a human being as a one-year-old child, so too, an unborn baby is just as much a human being as a newborn baby.
So why do many nations mandate that it is seriously wrong to kill a baby after birth, but not before? Why are some lives deemed valuable and other lives deemed expendable?
The principle reason is because societies use inconsistent, politically-correct, subjective reasoning, instead of a consistent, morally-correct, objective reasoning which protects every single human being – no exceptions!

This flawed reasoning allows the powerful to decide whose lives are worth protecting, and whose lives are not. And thus, it threatens weaker, vulnerable people everywhere—like the unborn, war-torn civilians, the hungry, the poor and the sick.   

In 1983, as head of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, the late Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin, championed for our time, the early church's consistent pro-life ethic.

During an address at St. Louis University, Cardinal Bernardin said, "The case for a consistent ethic of life—one that stands for the protection of the right to life and the promotion of the rights, which enhance life from womb to tomb … is both a complex and demanding tradition.

"It joins the humanity of the unborn infant and the humanity of the hungry; it calls for positive legal action to prevent the killing of the unborn or the aged and positive societal action to provide shelter for the homeless and education of the illiterate."

In his powerful encyclical Evangelium Vitae (“The Gospel of Life”), Saint John Paul II taught “Where life is involved, the service of charity must be profoundly consistent. It cannot tolerate bias and discrimination.”

Catholic social teaching calls us to especially act and speak out on behalf of the vulnerable and poor.

The late German anti-Nazi theologian Martin Niemöller, who was imprisoned in a concentration camp, wrote a highly insightful statement warning against the dangers of not speaking out.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum quotes him as saying,  

• “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.

• Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

• Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.

• Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Saint John Paul summed it up very well for us: “Respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life. Only in this direction will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness.”
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.