Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

Articles By: Elizabeth Clyons

WILTON—Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Academy (OLFCA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Mary Ann Fleming as the principal of the Pre-K through 8 grade school. Mrs. Fleming brings a great deal of expertise with her as she begins her role as principal at OLFCA which include, special education intervention, budget planning, strategic operations, and pandemic leadership. She is eager to meet and join her new community and learn about their great strengths. She expressed her commitment to the school and said, “I know Fatima is a special place. I look forward to meeting the faculty and families over the next few weeks, and as I get to know them, we can work together to ensure that the mission of OLFCA is being carried out.”

Mrs. Fleming has called the Diocese of Bridgeport her home for the last 15 years at St. Joseph School in Danbury. She previously taught third-grade, middle school social studies, English and was named assistant principal there. Mrs. Fleming’s assistant principal responsibilities included daily operations, communication amongst the faculty, performing classroom observations and teacher evaluations. As an assistant principal she was closely tied to the parents and the school community.

Father Reginald Norman is enthusiastic about the upcoming school year and welcomes Mrs. Fleming to the school and parish community. Father Norman stated, “We are elated that Mrs. Fleming accepted the position. Her energy and vision align with the Fatima values, and we will only grow better with her leadership.” Mrs. Fleming is committed to keeping the school’s motto, “Service Above Self” in daily practice, while discovering new ways to expand Christian values within the greater Wilton community. Her skills as a leader will serve the Fatima Faculty and students well.

Dr. Louis Howe, Jr. recently commented on Our Lady of Fatima’s Catholic Academy Facebook page as they announced her appointment, “I worked with her for two years and you are getting a real gem. We will miss her greatly, but I know she will serve your community as a great leader.”

For more information about Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Academy, visit www.olfacademy.org or contact the school’s office at 203.762.8100.

About Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Academy

Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Academy is a co-educational, National Blue Ribbon School offering a Pre-Kindergarten 3 through Grade 8 education model. The Academy’s Personalized Approach to Learning blends classroom and small group instruction with technology to provide learning that is fluid and flexible based on the ability of the student. Multi-age, child-centered classrooms offer continuous learning. OLFCA’s faith-based environment nurtures the whole child and emphasizes strong moral values and respect for self and others.

Registration for 2021-2022 is now open. School tour and other information are available on the school’s website, www.olfacademy.org. The Academy is located at 225 Danbury Road, Wilton CT 06897. For more information, contact Principal Mary Ann Fleming at mafleming99@olfcatholic.org.

BRIDGEPORT—City of Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim shows the city’s support for St. Vincent’s Medical Center’s Swim Across the Sound with the Paint the City Blue campaign. The mayor will be unveiling this year’s design for the Paint the City Blue banners. The ceremony will be held by McLevy Green at the corner of Bank Street and Broad Street on Wednesday, July 28, 2021, at 11 a.m. Mayor Ganim will be sharing information about the City’s Banner program, which encourages businesses and individuals to sponsor streetlights in the city with a personalized banner in honor of or in memory of a loved one, with proceeds helping cancer patients in our community.

For more than 33 years, the Swim Across the Sound has taken place and challenged swimmers to swim 15.5 miles from Port Jefferson to Captain’s Cove in Bridgeport. Millions of dollars have been raised that have benefited local cancer patients and their families. St. Vincent’s Medical Center is holding the Swim Marathon as a hybrid event this year. Groups of swimmers will take to the Long Island Sound as part of the live event on August 7, 2021, with a virtual challenge being held August 1 – 31 for anyone to participate from the location of their choice completing the challenge by participating in one or more of their favorite activities, such as running, biking or swimming.

WHO:

Dianne Auger, Host, Hartford HealthCare Regional Vice President Strategy & Regional Development, Foundation President & CEO

Joe Ganim, Mayor, City of Bridgeport

William Jennings, Hartford HealthCare Fairfield Region President

Ann Gorton, St. Vincent’s Medical Center Emergency Department, Captain of Team ‘Code Blue Fish’

WHAT:

Swim Across the Sound Street Banner Unveiling

WHERE:               

Corner of Bank Street and Broad Street, Bridgeport, CT 06604

(Across the street from Margaret E. Morton Government Complex)

WHEN:

Wednesday, July 28 at 11 a.m.

WHY:   

To help raise awareness for the SWIM Marathon, which raises funds to support 44 oncology programs and services and provide financial assistance to cancer patients in our community. Interviews will be available with the speakers after the event.

For more information, please contact: Christine.Howard@hhchealth.org or call 475.210.7308.

FAIRFIELD—Connecticut’s COVID-19 Vaccination Vans are on the road and coming to Notre Dame High School in Fairfield to provide no-cost, walk-up vaccinations.

The highly visible yellow Vaccination Vans, provided by the CT Department of Public Health and run by Griffin Health, can administer 100-125 shots per day in a six-hour window of time.  The shots are available without appointment.  It is not necessary to have health insurance or a state-issued ID:  all residents are welcome and no one will be turned away for lack of insurance or ID.

Choosing to get vaccinated is an additional powerful tool in our fight against the COVID-19 virus.  

The vaccine will protect you from becoming seriously ill from COVID19, 

The vaccine will protect your family and friends from becoming seriously ill from COVID19.

The vaccine will allow you to once again gather safely with your loved ones and neighbors.

The vaccine will allow you to get back to a sense of normalcy.

Look for our bright yellow Mobile Vaccination Team SUVs at Notre Dame High School in Fairfield.  

DATE:  Thursday, July 29, 2021

LOCATION: Notre Dame High School

220 Jefferson Street

Fairfield, CT  06825

203-372-6521

Clinic will be held in the Cafeteria

TIME: 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

The DPH Vaccination Vans are part of the State’s effort to vaccinate as many Connecticut residents as possible.  More than half the state’s population has received at least one shot since vaccinations began in December 2020.  

For more information on vaccinations and COVID-19 visit ct.gov/covidvaccine.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican reported the Roman Curia had a $78 million deficit in 2020, and on the same day, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, which administers Vatican properties and investments, made a summary of its annual budget public for the first time.

Releasing both reports July 24, the Vatican said the coronavirus pandemic had a serious negative impact on the Vatican’s financial situation, including the 66.3 million euros ($78 million) deficit in the consolidated budget report for 2020.

In an interview with Vatican News, Bishop Nunzio Galantino, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, known by its Italian initials APSA, said making the budget synthesis public was “a step forward in the direction of transparency and sharing.”

“The release of the balance sheet is a sign of great respect for all those who, with trust and generosity, have placed and continue to place part of their resources in the hands of the Catholic Church,” Bishop Galantino said.

“I harbor a secret hope: I hope that the publication and reading of the numbers and the important notes that accompany them will foster more correct and complete information,” he added.

In 2019, Italian journalist and author Gianluigi Nuzzi claimed in his book “Giudizio Universale” (“Universal Judgment”) that decades of mismanagement of the Vatican’s investment portfolio and real estate holdings by APSA would leave the Vatican no choice but to default by 2023.

APSA directly administers 4,051 properties in Italy and entrusts to outside companies the administration of some 1,200 properties in London, Paris, Geneva and Lausanne, Switzerland, the Vatican report said.

During the 2020 fiscal year, APSA reported a profit of almost 22 million euros ($25.8 million), compared to 73.21 million euros in 2019.

Aside from the economic challenges posed by the pandemic — including a need to reduce the rents of businesses that could not function during lockdown — Bishop Galantino told Vatican News the drop in its income was largely due to the “changing behavior of the securities market.”

Jesuit Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, told Vatican News his office was committed to providing as much detailed information as possible.

“We come from a culture of secrecy, but we have learned that in economic matters transparency protects us more than secrecy,” he said.

While 2020 was not a good year, he said, the Roman Curia’s budget deficit was “better than what we expected.”

Before the pandemic, he explained, the Vatican projected a budget deficit of 53 million euros. However, in the midst of the pandemic, the office figured the best-case scenario would be a deficit of 68 million euros while the worst case would a deficit of 146 million euros.

“Instead, with a deficit of 66.3 million euros, the end result was slightly better than the projected best-case scenario, and decisively better than what we had projected in the revised budget in March,” Father Guerrero said.

While most Vatican offices reduced costs during the year, Father Guerrero also noted that in 2019 the Peter’s Pence collection was used to subsidize 32% of Vatican dicasteries’ expenses, while in 2020 it was used to cover only 24%.

Furthermore, despite the economic difficulties and orders to Vatican offices to reduce spending, the congregations for Eastern Churches and for the Evangelization of Peoples increased the aid sent to local churches experiencing even greater difficulty.

The coronavirus pandemic “has given us the possibility of being able to provide additional help at a difficult moment for all humanity, thus making the church present in areas with fewer resources to deal with the pandemic,” Father Guerrero said.

“The economic situation was worse, but the mission expanded. This is further proof that the criteria driving the church are not economic,” he said.

By Junno Arocho Esteves | Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Older people are not “leftovers” to be discarded; rather, they continue to be precious nourishment for families, young people and communities, Pope Francis said in the homily he wrote for the Mass marking the first World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly.

“Let us ask ourselves, ‘Have I visited my grandparents, my elderly relatives, the older people in my neighborhood? Have I listened to them? Have I spent time with them?’” the pope said in his homily, which was read aloud at the Mass by Archbishop Rino Fisichella.

“Let us protect them, so that nothing of their lives and dreams may be lost. May we never regret that we were insufficiently attentive to those who loved us and gave us life,” the homily said.

The Mass July 25 was celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica with about 2,000 people in attendance, including multi-generational families, older people and their caregivers. Large-print Mass booklets also were available.

Pope Francis, who had colon surgery July 4, did not preside over the Mass as he was still undergoing “normal convalescence,” according to the Vatican press office.

The pope, however, did give his Angelus address and lead prayer at noon the same day.

Archbishop Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, presided over the Mass, which he began by greeting the older people in attendance who, he said, had been understandably expecting to celebrate with Pope Francis.

But “we do not want him to tire himself so that he may spend these days resting to regain his strength and fully resume his pastoral ministry,” the archbishop said before reading the homily the pope prepared for the Mass.

“Grandparents and the elderly are not leftovers from life, scraps to be discarded,” the pope wrote. They are a precious source of nourishment,” the pope wrote.

“They protected us as we grew, and now it is up to us to protect their lives, to alleviate their difficulties, to attend to their needs and to ensure that they are helped in daily life and not feel alone,” he wrote.

The pope asked people to reconnect with older people, to visit or call and “listen to them and never discard them. Let us cherish them and spend time with them. We will be the better for it,” young and old alike, he wrote.

“I worry when I see a society full of people in constant motion, too caught up in their own affairs to have time for a glance, a greeting or a hug,” he wrote.

The notion of “every man for himself” is “deadly,” he wrote, and the Gospel asks people to share “what we are and what we possess” in order to find true and lasting fulfillment.

“Our grandparents, who nourished our own lives, now hunger for our attention and our love; they long for our closeness. Let us lift up our eyes and see them, even as Jesus sees us,” the pope wrote.

During the intercessions, prayers were offered for those who died during the pandemic, especially the elderly, and for the faithful to learn to cherish and serve the elderly.

At the end of the Mass, Archbishop Fisichella and Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, which was promoting the world day, blessed baskets of bright yellow, red and orange flowers, that were then distributed with the pope’s message by young people to the older people attending the Mass.

The pope appeared at the window of his studio in the apostolic palace to greet and bless those gathered in St. Peter’s Square and to deliver his address before praying the Angelus.

He invited everyone to visit the elderly and to give them a copy of this year’s world day message. Young and old must spend time together, talking and sharing their memories, hopes and dreams, he said.

Commenting on the day’s Gospel reading of the multiplication of the loaves, the pope recalled the generous gift of the boy who gave what little he had, which was enough for Jesus, who used that small gift to feed thousands.

But, the pope said, think about the event from the point of view of the young boy: taking his five barley loaves and two fish to feed others seems like an “unreasonable proposal. Why deprive a person, indeed a child, of what he has brought from home and has the right to keep for himself? Why take away from one person what is not enough to feed everyone anyway?”

It shows people must ask what they can bring to Jesus each day and reminds people that “the Lord can do a lot with the little that we put at his disposal,” the pope said.

Today’s mindset is marked by the quest to “accumulate and increase what we have, but Jesus asks us to give, to diminish. We like to add, we like addition; Jesus likes subtraction, taking something away to give it to others. We want to multiply for ourselves; Jesus appreciates it when we share with others, when we share,” he said.

The pope recalled that many problems in the world, particularly hunger, cannot be solved without “fair sharing.” It is estimated that about 7,000 children under the age of five die each day because of malnutrition, he added.

Facing such scandals, he said, people should, like the boy, accept Jesus’ invitation and “be brave, give what little you have, your talents and your possessions, make them available to Jesus and to your brothers and sisters. Do not be afraid, nothing will be lost, because if you share, God will multiply.”

By Carol Glatz | Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — After record rainfall in central China left dozens dead and forced more than 1 million people to relocate, Pope Francis prayed for all those affected by the disaster.

After praying the Angelus with visitors in St. Peter’s Square July 25, the pope commented on the torrential rains that triggered flash floods in the city of Zhengzhou and in Henan province.

“I pray for the victims and their families and express my closeness and solidarity with all those who are suffering due to this calamity,” he said.

China’s provincial government updated its estimated death toll July 25 to 63 people, with five people still missing. Almost 9,000 homes had collapsed, and more than 1.1 million people had been relocated after record rains started falling July 20.

While the rains have stopped, some neighborhoods were still flooded and others were cut off from roads, requiring aid and supplies to be brought in by helicopter. Emergency workers were trying to close breaches along the river and gaps in the flood dikes while residents continued to clear away mud and debris, according to the Associated Press.

By Carol Glatz | Catholic News Service

To have … To hold … To honor: Supporting God’s gifts of love and life in marriage” is the theme of Natural Family Planning Awareness Week July 25-31.

The educational campaign of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will celebrate God’s vision for marriage and promote the methods of natural family planning through a social media presence at #NFPWeek and through NFP events scheduled in dioceses across the country.

The start of NFP week coincides with two other July 25 observances that underscore and celebrate the value and dignity of all human life: the anniversary of St. Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” articulating the church’s beliefs about human sexuality, marriage, conjugal love and responsible parenthood, and World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, instituted by Pope Francis earlier this year.

The development of NFP provider organizations is up sharply in recent years. NFP research continues to make relevant strides as well, according to Theresa Notare, assistant director of natural family planning in the Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth at the USCCB.

“But if you look at it from the perspective of user rates in the U.S., it looks like a failure,” she told Catholic News Service.

The Centers for Disease Control’s National Survey of Family Growth says less than 1% of Americans of reproductive age are currently using some type of natural method.

Although the rate is a little higher within the Catholic Church — usually among those who not only fulfill their Sunday Mass obligation but often attend weekday Masses as well, Notare noted — “there are layers of knowledge and acceptance.”

“I would think that among progressive people who are interested in protecting the environment, doing something healthy for their body and employing a holistic approach to living, that natural family planning would be well known, understood and beloved,” she said.

“But it’s not,” she added. “Actually, there are probably higher user rates of any natural method in countries that are not as well developed, where they’re focused on family, less in love with technology and not as immersed in the ‘me’ culture and ‘what I want.’”

Many Catholic couples aren’t necessarily rejecting the idea of natural family planning, Notare suggested, they simply haven’t given it much thought because what’s put in front of them at every turn are the culturally accepted alternatives.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, natural family planning is a general title for the ethical, natural, safe and effective methods for achieving or avoiding pregnancy in marriage.

Couples are taught how to observe and interpret their signs of fertility and infertility in a way that respects the bodies of the spouses, encourages tenderness between them and favors “the education of an authentic freedom.”

The sacred responsibility of being open to the possibility of children is intrinsic to the purpose of marriage and the complementarity of the man and woman who come together in the sacrament. This discernment, achieved through prayer and communication between the husband and wife about when and how many children the couple can nurture and support, is crucial to that call.

The Catholic Church supports the postponement or avoidance of pregnancy if the methods used to achieve it do not interfere with God’s gift of fertility.

By honoring God’s plan for marriage and preserving the dignity of both spouses, as well as the life that would be created, NFP bestows the grace of a deeper bond between the spouses and enriches family life. Couples learn how to create a “happy tension,” as Notare put it, between what they discern God wants for their lives, what they want and how many children they feel they can support.

In the U.S., the main methods of natural family planning fall into one of three categories: cervical mucus methods, sympto-hormonal methods and symptom-thermal methods. All three rely on daily observation, testing and recording (charting) to determine the couple’s most fertile time each month and therefore the period during which conception is most likely.

Cervical mucus methods hinge on a primary sign of the woman’s fertility, the characteristics of her cervical mucus, which is observed and charted daily.

Sympto-hormonal methods — sometimes referred to as the Marquette method — tracks several daily indicators of a woman’ fertility, including her levels of reproductive hormones. Symptom-thermal methods use at least two indicators of fertility, including the characteristics of cervical mucus and basal body temperature.

Lisa Everett, director of Marriage and Family Ministry for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, perceives that the number of Catholics couples using NFP is growing. Partly responsible, she believes, is the recent awareness and embrace among the general population of the gamut of fertility awareness-based methods of family planning, referred to as FABMs.

“While FABMS don’t have the same moral rules surround them, the fact is that this has become a much more popular option,” said Everett. “It means that there’s more acceptance and awareness of all things natural in our society.”

FABMs include barrier methods of pregnancy prevention, though, so care must be taken regarding blanket support of them, warned Notare. A cornerstone of NFP, on the other hand, is abstinence from sexual relations during fertile days in a woman’s cycle for couples trying to avoid pregnancy.

The initial reaction Deanna Johnston sometimes gets from engaged couples who are presented with information about natural family planning is a sentiment she understands all too well. The director of NFP and of the Office of Family Life for the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, readily acknowledges that NFP can sometimes be a cross.

“Abstinence is hard,” she affirmed. Still, she considers NFP to be a “gift of the Holy Spirit.”

A mother of four and NFP user herself, Johnston and her husband believe that first and foremost, a marriage should remain open to new life. But when it makes sense to postpone pregnancy, “there is a tool that Catholic can use in good conscience to do that.”

“What I see with couples is that sometimes they say, ‘We’re hesitant to begin, we’re nervous, we’re not actually sure this is going to work, but we just feel strongly that we need to try something different.’”

The modern, app-based lifestyle dovetails with NFP programs’ requirements, facilitating couples’ tracking and recording of data. That ease of access encourages Everett. “I think those two factors have made NFP more attractive to couples than it otherwise might have been.”

The FEMM app and Catholic digital fertility tracking programs are also helping to combat what Notare calls “fertility illiteracy.”

Indeed, the growth in the number, size and tenacity of NFP ministries, providers and other organizations has been “fabulous” in the last 20 years, Notare told CNS.

She hopes it will eventually combat one of the biggest challenges she sees to wider utilization of natural family planning methods: the general lack of awareness that they exist and that they constitute the church’s teaching regarding family planning as it enriches the sacrament of marriage.

NFP providers are doing their part, said Notare, teaching in parishes about the human person as God created him or her, the nature of human sexuality, the complementarity of men and women, the gift of human fertility, the sacredness of marriage, the morality and immorality of certain technological means of contraception and reproductive fertility, chastity and the theology of the body.

“They’re involved in all of these things,” she said. “They’re a small but mighty force” that are usually limited by a single factor: funding.

“The bishops understand NFP teachings and support them. The difficulty comes in regard to finances. When a bishop is able to put money behind an NFP ministry, it flourishes. With a dedicated staff person, the progress is visible.”

By Jodi Marlin | Catholic News Service

DANBURY—The Off The Streets program, focused on getting individuals experiencing homelessness established in stable affordable housing, received numerous donations in July, with the help of St. Mary Church volunteers from Bethel.

The program, founded by former St. Mary Deacon Michael Oles more than 10 years ago, is still going strong in the Greater Danbury area and has expanded to include a chapter in Bridgeport. The program has also been established in several other states including Pennsylvania, where Deacon Oles now lives.

“This is a wonderful program to directly help people in a permanent way,” said Deacon Oles, who admittedly is anxious and eager to establish a chapter in every state. “There’s still more work to be done. It requires people to see the face of the homeless Christ in their midst and step up in their own communities to work hand in hand to help the homeless.”

The all-volunteer group works with area social service agencies to identify those they can help.

Candidates must have a source of income, such as a job or disability income and Off The Streets will supply the security deposit directly to the landlord. The organization will deliver furniture and household goods to transform an empty apartment into a home.

“What makes the program so special is that it’s so simple,” said Beth Davis, one of the volunteers helping to collect the items from donors and temporarily place them in a storage unit.

Items donated include chairs, lamps, dressers and mattresses. The volunteer group has added a special touch by including a laundry basket filled with everyday household items such as napkins, paper towels, laundry detergent, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste to help people moving into their new home have some of the necessities to get started.

“You kind of reach a point where you know what people need,” said Ann Leiss, one of the first volunteers recruited by Deacon Oles. In addition to creating some of the welcome baskets, Ann also cares for the volunteers by bringing them home-baked goodies when they gather for donation collections or other events.

Donations are generally accepted on the first Saturday of every month or are requested when there is a specific need or when the units at the two storage facilities in the Danbury area have space to accommodate more items.

“One thing about the pandemic is that people have been going through their homes, so that’s been a bonanza for us,” said Joe Simons, who is the administrator for the Off The Streets program and an active volunteer at the Dorothy Day Hospitality House, a soup kitchen and shelter in Danbury, where he and Deacon Oles both volunteered.

When Deacon Oles was asked to speak about homelessness to a group of middle school religious education students, he asked a man named Rodney, who was experiencing homelessness, to join him and share his story with the students.

“It all started with students’ desire to get a man experiencing homelessness off the streets,” Deacon Oles said.

The students were so moved by Rodney’s plight that they sent money to Deacon Oles to help him. Deacon Oles, who was not experienced in securing housing for others, did eventually find an apartment and paid the security deposit with the students’ funds. Word soon spread that he could help get people out of homelessness and into housing and he received unsolicited contributions from church groups and individuals to enable him to help more people secure housing and so Off The Streets was born.

“I’m happy so many people are so giving in this area,” said Danelle Hill, a Girl Scout troop mom who was with her daughter dropping off welcome baskets with basic household items to be given to families receiving furniture deliveries.

In the past, the crew of volunteers would gather and load up their personal vehicles to deliver furniture and other items to people in need.

There are about 15 core volunteers and many more may come and go depending on schedules and other commitments.

“Usually, enough people turned out,” said Dan Kallberg, a St. Mary parishioner who donated his time to help receive donations and load a truck for delivery that day. “It always has a way of working out.”

Recently, they received a box truck from local business, Good Directions, and now can do multiple deliveries in a day. They also no longer have to delay deliveries due to inclement weather.

“Having a truck takes the weather out of the equation,” said Simons, adding that most deliveries are on Saturday but they will deliver in the week if enough volunteers are available.

The group has helped about 500 families get “off the streets” and about 80 percent remain housed after a year.

“Our philosophy is everyone deserves a chance,” Simons said. “We do not want people to fail.”

Many times, people with minimum wage jobs cannot afford the bigger expense of furniture and set-up so Off The Streets steps in to fill those needs.

“We are able to fill in the missing pieces to get people into housing and supplement what the agencies are doing,” Simons said.

The work is extremely rewarding.

“We get to be there when they move into their place and to see the expressions on their faces when they move in,” he said. “It means the world to them and it is so gratifying to us too.”

By Kathy-Ann Gobin

TRUMBULL—Friday, August 13 will be the first-ever liturgical memorial of Blessed Michael McGivney, the diocesan priest who founded the Knights of Columbus.  He was beatified last October in Hartford in ceremonies led by Joseph Cardinal Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, on behalf of Pope Francis.

St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull will celebrate his feast day with a special Mass at 7 pm on August 13.  A first-class relic of Blessed Michael will be present on the altar, and everyone present will be blessed with the relic. The Litany of Blessed Michael McGivney will be prayed at the Mass, and an ice cream social will follow. Everyone is welcome! No reservations necessary.

(The attached photo is of the stained glass window of Blessed Michael McGivney which was installed at St. Catherine’s last March.  To our knowledge, it is the first stained glass window of him to be installed anywhere in the world following his beatification).

BRIDGEPORT—On Sunday, August 8, 2021, Hartford HealthCare/St. Vincent’s Medical Center will host the 24th Annual Memorial Service celebrating the lives of family members and friends who have been lost to cancer.

The event will take place at Captain’s Cove Seaport in Bridgeport with registration at 8 am and the service from 8:30-9:30 am, open to all, rain or shine. It will consist of a reading of names, musical tributes, inspirational readers and prayers.

To dedicate a flower to be cast into the Sound in memory of your loved one, email: SWIMMemorial@hhealth.org or call Edna Borchetta at: 475.210.6393 by Monday, August 2, to submit your dedication.

BRIDGEPORT—In celebration of its six-year anniversary, Foundations in Education (FIE) wishes to thank donors and friends for their support in advancing its mission of transforming lives through Catholic education in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

FIE began life as the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, an initiative created by The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, which helped make it possible for more than 1,500 students to attend Diocesan Catholic elementary schools in its first year.

Embarking on its seventh year, FIE has awarded more than $18 million in tuition assistance to thousands of students and families who value Catholic education and more than $500,000 in Innovation and Leadership Grants to Catholic School educators.

“We owe such a debt of gratitude to Bishop Caggiano for his courage and vision to launch what is now a beacon of hope for thousands of young Catholic school students, their families, and their teachers,” shared FIE Executive Director Holly Doherty-Lemoine, CFRE.

At its Inaugural Reception, Bishop Caggiano addressed attendees: “This is an historic event in the life of the diocese. You are now partners in a venture that will enable our schools to remain on the cutting edge of innovation in the 21st century.”

On July 14, 2015, Foundations in Education became incorporated as a separate 501(c)3 organization which raises funds throughout the year to provide tuition assistance to diocesan-sponsored Catholic elementary schools to families in need through the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, and to provide funding for competitive grants for teachers and administrators for innovation in education and professional development in leadership.

The founding board of trustees included Bishop Caggiano, Robert Dilenschneider, John Eppolito, R. Bradford Evans, Michael Hanlon, Lawrence Kudlow, Ned Lautenbach, Daniel McCarthy, Anne McCrory, Thomas McInerney, Dr. Julia McNamara, Bernard Reidy, Gerard Robilotti, Joseph Roxe, and Robert Scinto.

Joining the board of trustees since then are David Cappiello, George Coleman, Lisa Ferraro Martino, Timothy FitzPatrick, Leslie Lopez, Andrea Maldon, Michele Mitola, Joseph Purcell, Henry Rondon, Michael Shea, Jennifer St. Victor-de Pinho, Barbara Ripp and Sr. Mary Grace Walsh.

At the recent annual board meeting, Bishop Caggiano thanked the chair, executive director, and all the members of the board for their leadership. “Thank you for your tremendous work in stewardship of the Foundation. In all the years we have worked together, this is one of the shining examples of what we can do together to foster the mission of the Church.”

Board Chair Tom McInerney also acknowledged fellow board members for their continuous support of students and teachers, “The enormity of our work has never been more important than it is today.”

“We accomplished a lot in our first six years,” commented Lemoine. “Now as the foundation looks to the future, the focus is on continuing to develop the extraordinary board of trustees and growing long-term sustainable funding.”

“Projecting ahead six years from now, with the rising cost of Catholic education, we would like to grow our endowment significantly to assure a Catholic Education is available to all who seek it for their children,” Lemoine added.

Foundations in Education is embarking on a strategic planning process to help determine how they can best serve their constituencies in the future. The results will guide the foundation board, staff and donors to best serve schools and their communities in the future.

(To learn more about Foundations in Education, visit www.foundationsineducation.org.)

FAIRFIELD—For one week early in the summer, sixteen high school students from around the diocese immersed themselves in charitable work, reflection, prayer and instruction as participants in the “Sacred Heart University Journey” Summer Theology Institute. Funded by the Lilly Endowment, this program, now in its fifth and final year, encouraged the youth to become leaders in their parish and community and to discover more about themselves as young Catholics.

The teens gathered each morning on the Sacred Heart campus in Fairfield for breakfast and Mass before embarkng on daily programs with themes such as “A Life of Meaning and Purpose” and “God’s Call to Love, Lead and Serve.” Though coming from diverse backgrounds among eight parishes, they bonded through a shared interest in faith and service.

Focusing on the theme of a journey, the adult facilitators and college-age mentors led the teens in experiences highlighting social justice issues, enhanced by small group discussions and journaling about their faith. According to Dr. Patrick Donovan, the executive director of The Leadership Instutite and a co-facilitator of this program, an important part of a young person’s journey is understanding what the church tells them and what the church asks of them.  “They’re gaining a deeper sense of who they are as young Christians and what is expected of them,” said Donovan. “I’m fascinated by their responses to the activities and real life issues. They are not choosing from a place of ease but from what is right and what is good.”

Such activities included a financial decision-making simulation, a personality inventory which encouraged collaboration, and theological discussions in a socratic seminar format, modeled after the Sacred Heart University course “Catholic Intellectual Tradition.” Teens were challenged in the endeavors to consider questions such as what does social justice look like to you, how can you hold yourself accountable, and where did you find God today. It was their thoughtful and honest answers to these complex topics that most impressed co-facilitator and SHU Campus Minister Valerie Kisselback, who identified this group as very open, intentional, and receptive—even from day one.

“They are really interested in their faith and are sharing so deeply with each other,” she said, referencing their concerns about the pandemic and pressures at school. “After hearing about [different speakers’] faith journeys—all the stories, the twists, the turns—they are learning how to live their own.”

As part of their service component, students put their social justice learning to work one afternoon by making blankets for children in hospitals and shelters, realizing that they could personally affect change and directly impact others. Another day, they filled 130 drawstring bags with necessities such as toothbrushes, socks, tissues, and dry cereal which were later delivered to the Bridgeport Rescue Mission. Donovan also encouraged each teen to take a bag or two home with them to give to someone in need, an activity which profoundly impacted sophomore Travis Simon.

“It feels so good to help people who don’t have much, and it gives me a sense of gratification. I didn’t always think about the plight of the homeless, but now I am much more aware of these issues,” he said.

The combination of faith in action and classroom instruction gave junior Adrianna Barbee a better understanding of scripture and how it affects her personally. “I loved reading the Bible and learning more about the Gospels,” she said. “This has all empowered me on my journey as a young woman to get more involved in my parish.”

In addition to faith exploration and service, participants also had the chance to develop friendships by interacting socially at lunch, during free time, and on a trip one afternoon to The Adventure Park at the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport. Because of these opportunities and the depth of their discussions, Kisselbeck said, “They have created such a sense of community in just a few short days.”

During the closing ceremony, several students spoke of their similar faith journeys, their shared interests, and their responsibility as young Catholics, the purpose behind the original grant. Donovan then left the teens with a final charge: “Take the grace of God with you and be living icons of Christ.”

By Emily Clark

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis offered prayers and expressed his closeness with the people of Germany after severe flooding in the western part of the country claimed the lives of more than 80 people.

“His Holiness remembers in prayer those who lost their lives and expresses to their families his deepest sympathy,” said a telegram sent by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, to German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

“He prays especially for those who are still missing, for the injured and for those who have suffered damage or lost their property due to the forces of nature,” said the message, which was released by the Vatican July 15.

A series of severe rainstorms also struck other countries in Europe, including Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland and Luxembourg, causing massive flooding and mudslides that leveled homes and buildings.

In Germany, authorities had confirmed the death of 81 people by early July 16. While rescue workers continue working to save people stranded on rooftops, an estimated 1,300 people remain unaccounted for, The New York Times reported.

Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, president of the German bishops’ conference, also issued a statement July 15, expressing his hope that the missing “will be found unharmed, and that all those in need, who have lost their belongings or the roof over their heads, will receive comfort, hope and help.”

“My heartfelt thanks and all my respect go to all those who have been tirelessly and selflessly providing help since yesterday, often risking their own lives in the process,” Bishop Bätzing said, especially, “the rescue workers, the fire department, the police and all the people who help and stand by others.”

By Junno Arocho Esteves | Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Try a little tenderness. That’s basically how Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, 73, summarized Pope Francis’ vision for what older people, their grandchildren and friends should do to change the world after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cardinal, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, used the word “tenderness” nine times when he presented to the press the pope’s message for the celebration July 25 of the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly.

Pope Francis did not use the word at all in his 1,800-word message, but it came through as he acknowledged the suffering, loneliness and fear many older people experienced during the worst of the pandemic, and also when he reminded older Catholics that, like him, they still have a vocation to share the faith and care for others.

The Vatican as a whole, not just the pope or Cardinal Farrell’s office, are making a big deal out of the world day. Pope Francis will celebrate Mass with older people, his message — as a text and as a video — was available in eight languages by June 23 and the dicastery has published a 43-page pastoral kit with suggestions for homilies, for prayers of intercession and for action.

The action focus is all about tenderness, too: Visit your grandparents and any older person living alone. Offer them a ride to Mass. Take them a flower. And, for those who cannot go to church, take them the Eucharist.

“In places where health emergency measures still make it impossible to visit in person, love can use imagination to find ways of reaching lonely elderly people by phone or social media,” the pastoral kit says.

That is precisely what Maria Sofia Soli has been doing since March 2020 when Italy initiated its first COVID-19 lockdown.

Soli, who is 88, volunteers with the Community of Sant’Egidio in monitoring the situation of about 6,500 people who are over 80 and living alone in Rome. The project involves regular telephone calls and home visits, but also organizing outings and celebrations. Since Soli could not make her regular phone calls from the Sant’Egidio offices during lockdown, she told reporters June 22, younger community members set up her computer so she could keep track of the calls from home.

At the presentation of Pope Francis’ message, Soli said she and her peers are on board with the pope’s focus on helping humanity come out of the pandemic better off.

“We must try to direct humanity toward a better future with less selfishness and conflict and more fellowship. Yes, the future,” she said. “The elderly do not only look to the past. Neither fatigue nor frailty can prevent us from dreaming for the sake of our grandchildren and for the generations to come.”

Calling Catholics around the world to mark the day after “dramatic months of difficulty,” Cardinal Farrell told reporters, Pope Francis invites people to embrace tenderness, especially toward the elderly, who suffered so much during the pandemic.

But, he said, the day also is about “the tenderness that grandparents show toward their grandchildren, of the solid guide that the elderly can be for many disoriented children, especially in a time like the one we are living in, in which personal interaction has become rare.”

“Tenderness is not just a private feeling, one that soothes wounds, but a way of relating to others, which should also be experienced in public,” Cardinal Farrell said. “We have become accustomed to living alone, to not hugging each other, to considering the other as a threat to our health. Our societies, the pope tells us in ‘Fratelli Tutti,’ are now fragmented.”

“Tenderness has a social value,” the cardinal insisted. “It is a remedy we all need, and our elderly are those who can provide it. In a frayed and hardened society emerging from the pandemic, not only is there a need for vaccines and economic recovery — albeit fundamental — but also for relearning the art of relationships. In this, grandparents and the elderly can be our teachers. This is also why they are so important.”

By Cindy Wooden | Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Saying he was acting for the good of the unity of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has restored limits on the celebration of the Mass according to the Roman Missal in use before the Second Vatican Council, overturning or severely restricting permissions St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI had given to celebrate the so-called Tridentine-rite Mass.

“An opportunity offered by St. John Paul II and, with even greater magnanimity by Benedict XVI, intended to recover the unity of an ecclesial body with diverse liturgical sensibilities, was exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences and encourage disagreements that injure the church, block her path and expose her to the peril of division,” Pope Francis wrote in a letter to bishops July 16.

The text accompanies his apostolic letter “Traditionis Custodes” (Guardians of the Tradition), declaring the liturgical books promulgated after the Second Vatican Council to be “the unique expression of the ‘lex orandi’ (law of worship) of the Roman Rite,” restoring the obligation of priests to have their bishops’ permission to celebrate according to the “extraordinary” or pre-Vatican II Mass and ordering bishops not to establish any new groups or parishes in their dioceses devoted to the old liturgy.

Priests currently celebrating Mass according to the old missal must request authorization from their bishop to continue doing so, Pope Francis ordered, and for any priest ordained after the document’s publication July 16, the bishop must consult with the Vatican before granting authorization.

Pope Francis also transferred to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments responsibility for overseeing the implementation of the new rules.

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI issued “Summorum Pontificum” on the use of the pre-Vatican II Roman liturgy. It said any priest of the Latin-rite church may, without any further permission from the Vatican or from his bishop, celebrate the “extraordinary form” of the Mass according to the rite published in 1962. The Roman Missal based on the revisions of the Second Vatican Council was published in 1969.

The conditions Pope Benedict set out for use of the old rite were that there was a desire for it, that the priest knows the rite and Latin well enough to celebrate in a worthy manner and that he ensures that the good of parishioners desiring the extraordinary form “is harmonized with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the governance of the bishop in accordance with Canon 392, avoiding discord and favoring the unity of the whole church.”

The now-retired pope also insisted that Catholics celebrating predominantly according to the old rite acknowledge the validity of the new Mass and accept the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

In his letter to bishops, Pope Francis said that responses to a survey of the world’s bishops carried out last year by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “reveal a situation that preoccupies and saddens me and persuades me of the need to intervene. Regrettably, the pastoral objective of my predecessors, who had intended ‘to do everything possible to ensure that all those who truly possessed the desire for unity would find it possible to remain in this unity or to rediscover it anew,’ has often been seriously disregarded.”

“Ever more plain in the words and attitudes of many is the close connection between the choice of celebrations according to the liturgical books prior to Vatican Council II and the rejection of the church and her institutions in the name of what is called the ‘true church,’” Pope Francis wrote.

To promote the unity of the church, Pope Francis said, bishops should care for those Catholics “who are rooted in the previous form of celebration” while helping them “return in due time” to the celebration of Mass according to the new Missal.

The pope also indicated he believed that sometimes parishes and communities devoted to the older liturgy were the idea of the priests involved and not the result of a group of Catholic faithful desiring to celebrate that Mass.

Pope Francis asked bishops “to discontinue the erection of new personal parishes tied more to the desire and wishes of individual priests than to the real need of the ‘holy people of God.’”

However, he also said that many people find nourishment in more solemn celebrations of Mass, so he asked bishops “to be vigilant in ensuring that every liturgy be celebrated with decorum and fidelity to the liturgical books promulgated after Vatican Council II, without the eccentricities that can easily degenerate into abuses.”

The liturgical life of the church has changed and developed over the centuries, the pope noted.

“St. Paul VI, recalling that the work of adaptation of the Roman Missal had already been initiated by Pius XII, declared that the revision of the Roman Missal, carried out in the light of ancient liturgical sources, had the goal of permitting the church to raise up, in the variety of languages, ‘a single and identical prayer’ that expressed her unity,” Pope Francis said. “This unity I intend to re-establish throughout the church of the Roman Rite.”

By Cindy Wooden | Catholic News Service