Articles By: Elizabeth Clyons

Prayerful Discernment at Discovery Evenings

BRIDGEPORT—On a rainy day last May, I journeyed with seminarian Chris Ford on a bus trip to City Field to see the Mets take on the Toronto Blue Jays in an afternoon game. It rained all day and we watched the grounds crew every half inning pile sawdust on the infield to get the game in…it was the longest game of life and indicative of the kind of season we were in for as Met fans.  This was just a couple of weeks before Chris was ordained a Transitional Deacon in the diocese and Chris and I talked about ways to help foster vocations to the Permanent Diaconate. We imagined consistent gatherings for men of faith to come to pray with one another, build community and share how they feel called to perhaps serve the Church as a deacon.

Our imaginations took on form on Thursday, October 11 at St. Stephen Parish in Trumbull with our first of monthly Diaconate Discovery Evenings. It made perfect sense to me as I drove there that it was raining and reminded me of that day last May when the concept was born, and the Holy Spirit was present in the rain that day at City Field.

One of the thoughts of inspiration that has been given to me these past months was to hold these evenings in two parishes named after the first deacons of the Church, Stephen and Philip, as I thought it wouldn’t hurt to have them by our side walking in prayer with us as we respond to Bishop Caggiano’s request to: “Build his Diaconate.” What was revealed to me on the day of the 11th was it was also the day that our Church celebrates the anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council as well as Saint John XVIII.  It occurred to me in that moment that it was so appropriate and never planned, to have Pope John XVIII with us also as it was his openness to the movement of the Holy Spirit that led to the Council, which led to the re-instituting of the Permanent Diaconate.  It was also revealed to me by an Episcopal Deacon that in their tradition on the 11th they celebrate the Feast Day of St. Philip. Indeed the Saints were walking with us as we go forward to build the diaconate!  What a Grace to experience and to be given.

So it begins. Six men gathered in prayer. Two men discerning and four deacons. We prayed and shared our experiences of our call to the diaconate. We created a safe space where the men there felt comfortable to ask questions, some that were difficult. I am confident that they felt heard by our responses and our focus not on details, not on logistics, not on programs, but on discernment and listening with their hearts to how God might be inviting into a deeper relationship with him, that perhaps might lead them both to serve as deacons in our Church. Trusting they were exactly where God wanted them to be that evening. We were all richly blessed in our time together. We were building Christian community and affirming our faith together.  We closed in prayer for the Diaconate here in the Diocese of Bridgeport and trust more fully that the Spirit was indeed moving among us.

Have you ever wondered if you were being “called” to discern the diaconate? Has someone, your pastor, a priest or a deacon ever mentioned to you that they can see you as a deacon someday? Do you feel that God calling you to live your faith differently, perhaps as a deacon? Want to learn more about how to sort this all out?

Join me and explore some of these questions and others that you may have about the Diaconate.  Diaconate Discovery Evenings will be a consistent space to wonder, explore, pray and share with other men of faith regarding serving the Church as a Permanent Deacon.

  • Be with other men of faith who are wondering if God is calling them to serve as a deacon.
  • To have an opportunity for prayer and reflection.
  • To form relationships and build community.
  • Meet deacons from around the diocese witnessing their ministries and journeys of faith.

If you are interested in attending a Diaconate Discovery Evening, or have any questions, please feel free to contact Deacon Tim Bolton, Coordinator of Diaconate Vocations,

By Deacon Tim Bolton

Meet the new saints canonized this weekend

VATICAN CITY—Meet the seven people Pope Francis will officially recognize as saints of the Catholic Church on Sunday.

Below are brief biographies on each of their lives, as well as photos of each saint’s banner currently on display at the Vatican.

Blessed Pope Paul VI
Born Giovanni Battista Montini in 1897 and ordained a priest in 1920, he did graduate studies in literature, philosophy, and canon law in Rome before beginning to work for the Vatican Secretariat of State. In 1954, he was named Archbishop of Milan, and in 1958 was made a Cardinal by Pope John XXIII. As a Cardinal, he helped to arrange the Second Vatican Council and chose to continue the council after he became Pope.

Montini was elected as Pope Paul VI in 1963 at age 65, not long after the start of the second Vatican Council. This was a difficult time for the Church and for the world, as the “Sexual Revolution” was in full swing and the struggle for civil rights in the United States in particular was at its peak. Paul VI is perhaps most noted for his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, which served as the Church’s official rebuke to artificial contraception, prohibiting its use.

Paul VI died in 1978 and Pope Francis beatified him in 2014.

Blessed Oscar Romero

Born in 1917 in El Salvador, Romero was auxiliary bishop of San Salvador for four years before being elevated to Archbishop in 1977. He was an outspoken defender of the rights of the poor in El Salvador, who were being terrorized by right-wing military death squads mainly because of protests over the extreme economic inequality in the country in the 20th century.

His weekly homilies, broadcast across the country on radio, were a galvanizing force for the country’s poor as well as a reliable source of news. In addition to speaking out against the government’s actions El Salvador, he also criticized the US government for backing the military junta that seized El Salvador in 1979, and even wrote to Jimmy Carter in February 1980 asking him to stop supporting the repressive regime.

In March 1980, Romero was assassinated, likely by a right-wing death squad, while celebrating Mass.

Pope Francis beatified Romero in 2015.

Blessed Vincent Romano

Born in 1751 and ordained a priest in 1775, Romano had studied the writings of St. Alphonsus de Liguori and developed a devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. He spent his whole life as a priest in Torre del Greco and was known for his simple ways and his care for orphans. He worked to rebuild his parish, often with his bare hands, after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1794. He died in December 1831 of pneumonia and was beatified by Paul VI in 1963.

Blessed Francesco Spinelli

Born in Milan in 1853, Spinelli entered the seminary and was ordained a priest in 1875. He began his apostolate educating the poor and also served as a seminary professor, spiritual director, and counselor for several women’s religious communities. In 1882, Fr. Spinelli met Caterina Comensoli, with whom he would found the Institute of the Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament. The sisters dedicated themselves to Eucharistic adoration day and night, which inspired their service to the poor and suffering.

He died in 1913. Today his institute has around 250 communities in Italy, Congo, Senegal, Cameroon, Colombia, and Argentina. Their ministries include caring for people with HIV, orphans, drug addicts, and prisoners.

St. John Paul II beatified him in 1992.

Blessed Nunzio Sulprizio

Born in Pescosansonesco, Italy in 1817, Sulprizio lost both of his parents at age six and was brought up by an uncle who exploited him for hard labor. Fatigued and often given dangerous assignments, he developed gangrene and eventually lost his leg. Despite his tremendous suffering, he would reportedly make statements such as: “Jesus suffered a lot for me. Why should I not suffer for Him? I would die in order to convert even one sinner.”

He recovered from the gangrene and dedicated himself to helping other patients before his health deteriorated again. Sulprizio died of bone cancer in 1836, when he was only 19 years old.

Pope Paul VI beatified him in 1963.

Blessed Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa

Born in 1889 in Madrid, Spain, Nazaria was the fourth of 18 children. Growing up, her family was indifferent and sometimes even hostile to her desire to enter religious life, but later she led several family members back to the Church when she entered the Franciscan Third Order. Her family moved to Mexico in 1904, and Nazarie met sisters of the Institute of Sisters of the Abandoned Elders, who inspired her to join their order. In 1915, she chose to take perpetual vows with the order in Mexico City and was assigned to a hospice in Oruro, Bolivia for 12 years.

Beginning in 1920, she felt a call to found a new order dedicated to missionary work. In June 1925, she founded the Pontifical Crusade, later renamed the Congregation of the Missionary Crusaders of the Church, with the mission to catechize children and adults, support the work of priests, conduct missions, and to print and distribute short religious tracts. Many opposed her work, but Nazaria pressed on. Her order cared for soldiers on both sides of the 1932-35 war between Paraguay and Bolivia, and she herself survived persecutions in Spain during the Spanish Civil war. She died in July 1943, and four years later Pope Pius XII finally granted papal approval to the Congregation of the Missionary Crusaders of the Church, which by that time had spread throughout South America and begun work in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Cameroon.

Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1992.

Blessed Maria Katharina Kasper

Born in Dembach, Germany in 1820 as Catherine Kasper, she attended very little school because of poor health. Despite this, she began to help the poor, the abandoned, and the sick at a young age. Her mother taught her household chores, as well as how to spin and weave fabric. After her father died when she was 21, Catherine worked the land as a farm hand for about 10 cents a day. Her helpfulness toward others attracted other women to her, and she felt a call to the religious life, but knew she needed to stay and support her mother, who was in poor health.

After her mother died, Catherine started, with the approval of the bishop of Limburg, Germany, a small house with several friends who also felt the call. In 1851 she and four other women officially took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and formed the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. Catherine, known in the religious community as Mother Mary, served five consecutive terms as superior of the house and continued to work with novices and to open houses for their order all over the world. Today there are 690 sisters in 104 houses in Germany, the Netherlands, the United States, Mexico and India.

She died of a heart attack in February 1898, and Pope Paul VI beatified her in 1978.

All photos, Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

By Jonah McKeown | Catholic News Agency

Saints risk all for love of Jesus, pope says

VATICAN CITY—Carrying Pope Paul VI’s pastoral staff and wearing the blood-stained belt of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, Pope Francis formally recognized them, and five others, as saints of the Catholic Church.

Thousands of pilgrims from the new saints’ home countries — Italy, El Salvador, Spain and Germany — were joined by tens of thousands of others Oct. 14 in St. Peter’s Square to celebrate the universal recognition of the holiness of men and women they already knew were saints.

Carolina Escamilla, who traveled from San Salvador for canonization, said she was “super happy” to be in Rome. “I don’t think there are words to describe all that we feel after such a long-awaited and long-desired moment like the ‘official’ canonization, because Archbishop Romero was already a saint when he was alive.”

Each of the new saints lived lives marked by pain and criticism — including from within the church — but all of them dedicated themselves with passionate love to following Jesus and caring for the weak and the poor, Pope Francis said in his homily.

The new saints are: Paul VI, who led the last sessions of the Second Vatican Council and its initial implementation; Romero, who defended the poor, called for justice and was assassinated in 1980; Vincenzo Romano, an Italian priest who died in 1831; Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa, a Spanish nun who ministered in Mexico and Bolivia and died in 1943; Catherine Kasper, the 19th-century German founder of a religious order; Francesco Spinelli, a 19th-century priest and founder of a religious order; and Nunzio Sulprizio, a layman who died in Naples in 1836 at the age of 19.

“All these saints, in different contexts,” put the Gospel “into practice in their lives, without lukewarmness, without calculation, with the passion to risk everything and to leave it all behind,” Pope Francis said in his homily.

The pope, who has spoken often about being personally inspired by both St. Paul VI and St. Oscar Romero, prayed that every Christian would follow the new saints’ examples by shunning an attachment to money, wealth and power, and instead following Jesus and sharing his love with others.

And he prayed the new saints would inspire the whole church to set aside “structures that are no longer adequate for proclaiming the Gospel, those weights that slow down our mission, the strings that tie us to the world.”

Among those in St. Peter’s Square for the Mass was Rossi Bonilla, a Salvadoran now living in Barcelona. “I’m really emotional, also because I did my Communion with Monsignor Romero when I was eight years old,” she told Catholic News Service.

“He was so important for the neediest; he was really with the people and kept strong when the repression started,” Bonilla said. “The struggle continues for the people, and so here we are!”

Claudia Lombardi, 24, came to the canonization from Brescia, Italy — St. Paul VI’s hometown. Her local saint, she said, “brought great fresh air” to the church with the Second Vatican Council and “has something to say to us today,” particularly with his 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae” on human life and married love, especially its teaching about “the conception of life, the protection of life always.”

In his homily, Pope Francis said that “Jesus is radical.”

“He gives all and he asks all; he gives a love that is total and asks for an undivided heart,” the pope said. “Even today he gives himself to us as the living bread; can we give him crumbs in exchange?”

Jesus, he said, “is not content with a ‘percentage of love.’ We cannot love him 20 or 50 or 60 percent. It is either all or nothing” because “our heart is like a magnet — it lets itself be attracted by love, but it can cling to one master only and it must choose: either it will love God or it will love the world’s treasure; either it will live for love or it will live for itself.”

“A leap forward in love,” he said, is what would enable individual Christians and the whole church to escape “complacency and self-indulgence.”

Without passionate love, he said, “we find joy in some fleeting pleasure, we close ourselves off in useless gossip, we settle into the monotony of a Christian life without momentum where a little narcissism covers over the sadness of remaining unfulfilled.”

The day’s Gospel reading recounted the story of the rich young man who said he followed all the commandments and precepts of Jewish law, but he asks Jesus what more he must do to have eternal life.

“Jesus’ answer catches him off guard,” the pope said. “The Lord looks upon him and loves him. Jesus changes the perspective from commandments observed in order to obtain a reward, to a free and total love.”

In effect, he said, Jesus is telling the young man that not doing evil is not enough, nor is it enough to give a little charity or say a few prayers. Following Jesus means giving him absolute first place in one’s life. “He asks you to leave behind what weighs down your heart, to empty yourself of goods in order to make room for him, the only good.”

“Do we content ourselves with a few commandments or do we follow Jesus as lovers, really prepared to leave behind something for him?” the pope asked people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, including the 267 members of the Synod of Bishops and the 34 young people who are observers at the gathering.

“A heart unburdened by possessions, that freely loves the Lord, always spreads joy, that joy for which there is so much need today,” Pope Francis said. “Today Jesus invites us to return to the source of joy, which is the encounter with him, the courageous choice to risk everything to follow him, the satisfaction of leaving something behind in order to embrace his way.”

By Cindy Wooden | Catholic News Service

Catholic Underground Features Tony Melendez

BRIDGEPORT—On Saturday, October 27, Catholic Underground will be held at St Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport beginning with a Holy Hour at 6:30 pm, followed by a concert with internationally-known musician and performer Tony Melendez.

Catholic Underground is a cultural apostolate of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal which gathers people of all ages to pray and worship Jesus Christ in Eucharistic Adoration, experience community and also appreciate Catholic art and culture. Worship music for the Holy Hour will be provided by Kevin Donovan of St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown. Multiple priests will be available to hear confessions during the Holy Hour.

This upcoming Catholic Underground will feature a bilingual concert by Tony Melendez, who is known internationally for playing his guitar using his feet. Tony was born without arms, nevertheless, he is a talented guitarist, singer, and songwriter who has recorded multiple albums and performed throughout the world, including for St John Paul II.

Catholic Underground is hosted by the Office of Faith Formation of the Diocese of Bridgeport. For more information contact the Office of Faith Formation at: 203.416.1670 or

Welcome back Commander Fanning!

TRUMBULL—St. Catherine of Siena School, in Trumbull, welcomed home a graduate from the class of 1990, Commander Matthew Fanning, Commanding Officer of the USS Hartford. He has been serving in the Navy for 19 years. During this time he lived in Italy, Hawaii, Georgia, Virginia as well as Connecticut with his wife and children.

Commander Fanning returned to his elementary school alma mater to spend the day with the students. He visited all of the classrooms from preschool to eighth grade and shared an engaging PowerPoint presentation.

He talked about the significance of service to community, Church, and country. He was taught the meaning of vocation and the importance of listening to God’s calling during his school years at SCSS. The Commander talked about determination and how valuable his time was at St. Catherine of Siena School.

His presentation was about life in the military and his travels to many European Countries, many states along the East Coast and even to the North Pole. The students were captivated as he talked about life on the submarine.

He was also greeted by his former classmates,  Fr. Joseph Marcello the pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish, and Mr. Steven Burke, a parent at the school. They reminisced about special memories with old friends and teachers. He toured the school and was amazed by all of the incredible upgrades to the school and in the technology over the years.

Principal, Miss Eunice Giaquinto said, “I love to have alumni come back and visit the school. It’s especially exciting when someone wants to come back and share their stories of success and what SCSS meant to them.”  The Commander travels all over the world but he will always have a home at St. Catherine of Siena School.

A rich history and a bright future

NEWTOWN—St. Rose School opened its doors on September 3, 1958, and was originally a first through fifth-grade school. Within three years it added a middle school. Many years later, in 1989, a kindergarten was added and eventually, in 2000, a preschool emerged and is housed in the former convent with thriving 3-year-old, 4-year-old and Step Up programs. Initially run by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, St. Rose School has been guided by several religious orders through the years. In 2008 an addition was made to the school adding a state of the art science lab and modern gathering hall/gymnasium, a library, music room and more.

In memory of their patroness, St. Rose of Lima, St. Rose School has always been committed to service.   Their students, faculty and families are encouraged to be the hands and heart of Christ in the community.  They are a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).  Spanish and Mandarin are taught to students in preschool through eighth grade.  Enrichment programs such as mock trial,  advanced math, musical theater, instrument instruction, basketball, track and cheer offer enhanced learning opportunities that promote well rounded and knowledgeable young men and women who develop the skills and confidence they need to take the next step into high school and beyond.

The Mass was a beautiful representation of the threads of love, learning and prayer that bond students and families from every generation. The choir was made up of current and alumni students, and readers were Karen (O’Connor) Kravec ’89) and Charles Asetta ’15. Mrs. Peggy Baiad, alumni parent of children in years ’81, ’85, ’87 and ’89 read the prayers of the faithful. Monsignor Weiss was the main celebrant joined by Father Alphonse, Father Krzysztof, Deacons O’Connor, Roos and Scinto.

Dr. Cheeseman attended the Mass and delivered a message from the bishop as well as expressing his own sentiments about the value of a long-standing commitment to Catholic education and the recognized successes of St. Rose School graduates. State Representative Mitch Bolinsky and Senator Tony Hwang presented a Citation from the State of Connecticut in recognition and gratitude for St. Rose School. Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal presented a proclamation from the town during the afternoon as well.

The celebration was an Oktoberfest theme with St. Rose Church Knights of Columbus grilling hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers and bratwurst. Hot pretzels were a big hit as was the Beer Garden for guests 21 and over with a photo ID. A DJ played lively music. St. Rose School Student Council and National Junior Honor Society students ran games and crafts for the children including sand art cross necklaces, spin art designs, face painting and bowling. St. Rose School memorabilia and spirit wear were on site and a popular attraction. Tours of the school were offered with alumni as far back as the class of 1965, sharing their memories as they walked the old halls and discovered the new ones.

The entrance to the field was a replica of the original school building lined with photo boards of students and activities through the years. A giant balloon 60 was on either side of the entrance and hay bales were scattered around.  Red and white (school colors) checked tablecloths and yellow mums created a lovely atmosphere in the main tent while the Beer Garden was traditional blue and white with pennants and Oktoberfest banners bringing it to life.

School spirit filled the air throughout the afternoon confirming that once you walk the halls of St. Rose School it is forever in your heart. Dedicated to academic excellence, stellar service and living the Gospel values, St. Rose School has been a second home to thousands of students for 60 years and it continues to thrive. 60 years and going strong!

Bishop Caggiano: Youth synod must address abuse crisis

ROME—As the Synod of Bishops on youth and young adults prepares to open, one of the American delegate bishops said that for any efforts to minister to young people today to bear fruit, the church must first reclaim credibility by addressing the clergy sexual abuse scandal head on.

“I am going to advocate that the synod needs to make that a major topic now, without a doubt,” said Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, who spoke to NCR in an interview September 27. “If you’re going to speak relevantly to young people, you cannot but do that.”

He added that he hopes the synod will produce “not just words but some significant initiatives in that regard.”

The 59-year-old bishop said such a move is “essential,” a word he repeated several times, for the Catholic Church to be seen as credible in its outreach to young people. He described the present abuse scandal now in a second phase “all about authenticity. It’s about leadership being accountable. It’s about transparency. I think the greatest scandal is when, you know, things are not accounted for, or hidden or not transparent. That shakes people’s faith.”

Caggiano added that “authenticity speaks powerfully to young people,” and the church must demonstrate what it believes in how it lives and acts, and with the abuse crisis, how it responds.

“For young people, I think this is a moment for the church to recapture their imagination by using this as a moment of truth, humility and repentance and purification, and do what we have to do to hold people accountable. And those who remain, please God, to rededicate ourselves to lives of true personal holiness. That speaks powerfully,” he said.

A first-time delegate, Caggiano will be one of six U.S. bishops participating in the Synod of Bishops on young people, faith and vocational discernment, which will run October 3-28. He departed Monday for the Vatican, just days after he had returned from Italy, after leading his diocese’s annual pilgrimage.

The synod, which is led by Pope Francis, will bring together 300-plus bishops and non-voting observers and participants from around the world to examine how the church can develop new ways to join young people in their faith journeys, or as the pre-synod working document puts it, “to accompany all young people, without exception, towards the joy of love.”

While this will be his first Vatican synod, perhaps few bishops bring with them Caggiano’s experience in youth ministry. The Bridgeport bishop is a regular speaker at major youth events, including World Youth Day, to which he serves as episcopal liaison for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Since 2013, he has served as episcopal advisor to the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry. He is also chair of the U.S. bishops’ subcommittee on catechism.

Caggiano, who is fluent in Italian but acknowledges his Spanish is a bit rusty, also arrives to Rome with experience running a synod of his own.

In February 2014, he convoked the first synod in the Bridgeport Diocese in more than three decades. Among its four themes was empowering youth. Twenty-five youth delegates participated in the synod’s five general sessions, with another 400 youth co-delegates holding their own sessions. Caggiano also held a special listening session with the diocese’s young people, something that has become a staple of his five years in Bridgeport and Fairfield County.

Some initiatives resulting from the diocesan synod, which closed in September 2015, have been the creation of a diocesan choir and the Catholic Service Corps. Caggiano said both programs have allowed young people to express their faith in new ways and have offered new entry points to encountering God.

A major takeaway from the process, Caggiano said, was “one person at a time,” the idea of putting many different paths before youth and hoping one of them resonates.

“It’s going to be almost like planting seeds: Some sprout earliest, some sprout later, but to be patient because this is the Lord’s work, right? This is not about flashy headlines, this is about people’s lives,” he said.

As part of his preparation for the youth synod, he held another listening session with young people in his diocese Sept. 28, ensuring their voices would be among the final ones he heard before departing three days later for Rome.

“I’m going to ask them, so if you had an opportunity to address the synod, what would you say? You, as a young person, what is on your mind? What are your concerns? And I’m very curious to see what they come up with, to be honest,” he told NCR ahead of the event.

From his work with young people over the years, he said many of the questions they have are affective in nature — “questions of the heart, not the mind” — about belonging and self-worth, connection and community. He said the synod working document, the instrumentum laboris, does a good job of summarizing these concerns and discussing relationships. An important question for the synod to address, the bishop said, is “what is the relevance of being a part of an established community, rather than creating my own community?”

That is particularly true in an age of social media, which the bishop says can play a key role in how the church connects with youth, but also something it must better understand in terms of how new technological advances impact not only their lives but also their physiological development. Caggiano said he plans to urge the synod to explore such issues further as part of his intervention.

The Bridgeport Diocese under Caggiano has worked to expand its social media footprint. The bishop has a weekly video series on his Facebook page, where he has also shared updates from the recent pilgrimage and his experiences to date at the synod.

Another challenge he sees for the synod to address is how to transmit the faith, primarily done by words in modern times, at a time when images are becoming a more predominant medium. In the Middle Ages, the church built great cathedrals and basilicas as a type of “living catechisms” conveying the faith, Caggiano said. He’s not certain what that would look like today, but sees St. Thomas Aquinas’ idea of truth, beauty and goodness as paths to God as an essential paradigm for ministry.

As for approaches to reaching young people who have left the church or considering such an exit, he sees accompaniment and apologetics — explaining and defending church teachings — as “two sides of one coin,” believing arguments for one or the other as a “false choice.”

“It’s the journey and the destination,” Caggiano said.

With the synod itself, he hopes it produces a document that provides a “general roadmap” that bishops can take back to their home countries and dioceses to implement in ways unique to each’s culture and conditions.

“My hope is that the document will lay down a basic groundwork, and then it’s going to be different in Nairobi as it is in New York as it is in you know, I don’t know, Lima, Peru. But we’ll all kind of be going foundationally in the same direction, even though it may look very different in the lived experience,” the bishop said, adding it was important to allow the document “to become a living document and evolve.”

In the U.S., Caggiano is well aware of the trends of people, especially the young, leaving organized religion behind. (Connecticut was even identified as a somewhat “ground zero” for Catholics leaving the church.) He has heard the “spiritual but not religious” axiom — what he defines as “spiritual is me, religious is we” — and is familiar with surveys that show people desiring a more welcoming and inclusive church. To him, it all comes back to the relevance of community, and the church making itself credible again. “And credible, in my mind, means authentic.”

“All of that is different ways of saying we have to live what we believe. We have to love in the truly authentic way that Christ has taught us,” Caggiano said. “I think young people who encounter communities like that then find the rationale to say you know what, I am spiritual but maybe it’s worth being religious.”

By Brian Roewe | National Catholic Reporter

Reviewers Praise Lux Fulgebit, Debut CD of St. Mary’s Schola Cantorum

Premiere recording of William Rasar’s Mass “Christe Jesu” is a beautiful and unique album perfectly themed for the Season of Christmas

NORWALK—St. Mary’s Church and the St. Cecilia Society are pleased to announce that Lux Fulgebit, the debut CD of the acclaimed St. Mary’s Schola Cantorum, based in Norwalk, Connecticut, has earned high praise from numerous reviewers since its official release last year.

Lux Fulgebit: The Mass at Dawn of Christmas Day is the professional recording debut of the St. Mary’s Schola Cantorum, featuring the world premiere recording of the 16th-century Mass Christe Jesu by William Rasar. This unknown gem from the Peterhouse partbooks is presented as part of the “soundtrack” to a full sung traditional Mass, including everything from the bells to the organ, the chant, and the choral polyphony (which also includes music by William Byrd and Alfonso Ferrabosco).

Since its 2017 release, Lux Fulgebit has garnered praise from Fanfare, Early Music Review, The National Catholic Register, The New Liturgical Movement, and other publications, as well as being featured on Robert Aubry Davis’s “Millenium of Music” program.

“A remarkable debut…a must for anyone interested in Tudor polyphony and recommendable to anyone who cherishes the Latin Mass.” —Fanfare

“All the more surprising that, with the current flurry of interest in Peterhouse repertory, this is the premiere recording of Rasar’s mass. It is a revelation….glorious music and [a] committed and spiritual performance by the Schola.” —Early Music Review

Lux Fulgebit captures the musical splendor of the traditionally-oriented life of St. Mary’s Church, internationally recognized as a beacon of liturgical renewal in the Roman Catholic Church. The St. Mary’s Schola Cantorum is the heart of the multi-faceted sacred music program, directed by David J. Hughes, and contributes to making St. Mary’s a stand-out among Catholic parishes.

Lux Fulgebit can be purchased through the St. Mary’s website (, in person at the St. Mary’s Bookstore, or in digital formats on, iTunes, and CDBaby. The attractively packaged CD includes the complete text of the Mass at Dawn in English and Latin, as well as an informative essay on Rasar’s Mass and the music of his period, and is available for US$15.00. For further information, including inquiries about bulk purchase discounts, please call Tom Heckel at 203.656.2389.


About Saint Mary’s Church
Saint Mary’s Church is a Roman Catholic Church within the Diocese of Bridgeport. Parishioners in this unique multi-ethnic community are united in their devotion to the Trinitarian God through aesthetically beautiful and reverent celebrations of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in three languages: English, Spanish and Latin. The Traditional Form of the Roman Rite lies at the heart of the parish’s liturgical life and its timeless essence infuses every Mass. The parish’s mission of evangelization through authentic liturgical renewal is enhanced by a sacred music program of rare caliber featuring the acclaimed St. Mary’s Schola Cantorum. Designed in Gothic Revival style and dedicated in 1870, this historic church was beautifully and lovingly renovated beginning in 2009 to support its essential and timely mission. For more information, please visit the parish’s website:

Masses for special needs an opportunity for all

FAIRFIELD—This year, the annual Mass for those with down syndrome, their families and friends was celebrated on September 16 at St. Pius X Church. The Mass can best be summed up with one word… “Joy”. For annual attendees, that “Joy” is daily but for many attending weekly Mass, it was refreshing.

As it says in the New American Bible,  “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete”(John 15:9-11).

No one can deny the joy and light of Jesus Christ that shines forth from these children with down syndrome. They are truly a gift to our community. They bring happiness wherever they go and to whomever they meet. You see it in the beautiful smiles on their faces and from the families who love them and are trying to be the very best they can be for them.

You could see the “Joy” they brought to all who attended the Mass, the family members, friends, teachers, paraprofessionals and caregivers. It was a lovely sunny day outside and sunshine radiated through St. Pius X Church! We are certainly looking forward to the Mass next year.

The mission of the St. Robert Bellarmine Apostolate is to support and strengthen individuals with Down syndrome, their families and friends through prayer.

The members of the Apostolate live out this mission by:

1.)  Praying the intercessory prayers to St. Robert Bellarmine to increase devotion to this saint as a patron for individuals with Down syndrome

2.) Celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on the feast day of St. Robert (September 17, or the Sunday before or after his feast day) for individuals with Down syndrome, their families and friends

3.) Encouraging Catholic parents to join or to form a MOMs+DADs (Mother of Mercy spiritual Divine Advocate for Down syndrome) prayer/support group at their local parish

For more information about the St. Robert Bellarmine Apostolate contact: or visit the website:


Looking for another opportunity to celebrate those in your lives with special needs, as well as those who care for them?

On October 7 there will be a special needs mass at Saint Catherine of Siena in Riverside for those families with special needs, autism and all children who need a mass with accommodations and modifications.

The Parish Partners at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Riverside invite anyone who is, cares for, or cares about a person with disabilities or special needs to attend the 12 noon Mass and the lunch that follows on October 7. “We have great hope that the Spirit will kindle in all who attend the desire to foster loving relationships and meaningful partnerships with people with disabilities in our shared faith journeys, in all aspects of parish life,” say the Partners.

Pope: Pray to protect church, fight against abuse

VATICAN CITY (CNS)—Signaling his belief that the Catholic Church is facing a serious crisis, Pope Francis asked every Catholic in the world to pray for the protection of the church from attacks by the devil, but also that the church would be more aware of its sins and stronger in its efforts to combat abuse.

Pope Francis asked Catholics to pray the rosary each day in October, seeking Mary’s intercession in protecting the church, and “at the same time making her (the church) more aware of her sins, errors and the abuses committed in the present and the past, and committed to fighting without hesitation so that evil would not prevail,” the Vatican said in a statement released Sept. 29, the feast of the Archangels.

United “in communion and penitence as the people of God,” the statement said, Catholics should plead for protection against “the devil, who always seeks to divide us from God and from one another.”

Pope Francis met earlier in September with Jesuit Father Federic Fornos, international director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, formerly known as the Apostleship of Prayer, to ask that the recitation of the rosary in October conclude with “the ancient invocation ‘Sub Tuum Praesidium’ (‘Under your protection’) and with the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, who protects us in the battle against evil.”

The first prayer, to Mary, has a variety of translations. One reads: “We turn to you for protection, Holy Mother of God. Listen to our prayers and help us in our needs.  Save us from every danger, glorious and blessed Virgin.”

The prayer to St. Michael reads: “St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.”

The Vatican, announcing Pope Francis’ prayer request, cited his homily Sept. 11 at morning Mass where he spoke about the devil as the “Great Accuser” who “roams the world looking how to blame” and spread scandal.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former nuncio of the United States, who has called on Pope Francis to resign, claiming the pope knew about and ignored the sexual misconduct of former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, issued another statement Sept. 27 accusing the pope of “subtle slander” with that homily.

As of Sept. 29, neither Pope Francis nor the Vatican had responded to Archbishop Vigano’s original allegations.

In addition to the case of Archbishop McCarrick, the Catholic Church in the United States is still coming to grips with the mid-August release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report covering decades of alleged abuse by more than 300 priests; the report identified more than 1,000 victims.

A widespread abuse scandal and broad police investigation is ongoing in Chile; Cardinal George Pell, Vatican secretary for the economy, is on trial for abuse in Australia; and the bishops of German in late September released a report on thousands of cases of abuse in their country, some going back to 1946, but some as recent as 2000.

By Cindy Wooden | Catholic News Service

“Hallelujah Train” Rolls into Fairfield

FAIRFIELD—On Sunday, September 30, the Quick Center for the Arts at Fairfield University will welcome the “Hallelujah Train” as it rolls onto campus, featuring Pastor Brady Blade Sr., Daniel Lanois, Brian Blade, and Brady Blade Jr., with the Zion Baptist Church Choir. The day will begin when the “Hallelujah Train” musicians perform at the 11 am Mass in Fairfield University’s Egan Chapel. Following the worship service, the Quick will host a 12 pm brunch with the artists, to be followed by a 3 pm “Hallelujah Train” concert that will have toes tapping and hands clapping.

A devout man and natural musician, 80-year-old Pastor Blade first preached a sermon in 1953. He elevated his praise with song after becoming pastor of Shreveport’s Zion Baptist Church in 1961. Pastor Blade’s unique style of worship came to be known as the “Hallelujah Train” and was launched as a public service broadcast of song and faith over the region’s airwaves throughout the 1970s. At the behest of Pastor Blade’s son, famed jazz drummer Brian Blade, a live “Hallelujah Train” revival debuted in 2009, after it was discovered that recordings from the original 70s show had been erased.

Brian and his brother, Brady Jr., also a renowned drummer, convinced their father to take the new “Hallelujah Train” up to Connecticut for a featured performance at the Quick. The September 30 concert will feature Pastor Blade’s booming, soulful voice, backed by an ensemble that includes the congregational choir and an all-star band whose deft rhythms round out the music with some of the best percussive skill in the world.

This performance marks a return to Fairfield’s campus for jazz drummer Brian Blade, who most recently performed at the Quick with Children of the Light. This time around, he’ll be joined by his brother and fellow drummer Brady Blade Jr., who has played with Emmylou Harris, Dave Matthews & Friends, and others.

Grammy Award-winner Daniel Lanois, a longtime friend and collaborator of Pastor Blade, is also a featured band member. Lanois is best known as a guitarist and producer of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Peter Gabriel, and Willie Nelson, as well as for co-producing two U2 albums with Brian Eno (The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby).

The “Hallelujah Train” ensemble’s uplifting message is carried aloft by a unique blend of traditions fostered by Pastor Blade in his Louisiana church. Expect supple funk and jazz-wise flexibility. Whether you are a person of faith or you consider music to be your church, you won’t want to miss the “Hallelujah Train.” All aboard!

    This event is sponsored by Abbey Tent, Bridgeport Holiday Inn, Laurel Road Bank, TV Eyes, Moffly Media, WPKN, and the Chelsea. Tickets for Concert are $25. For more information or to reserve your seat, visit the Quick Center or call the box office at 203.254.4010 or toll free at 1.877.ARTS.396.


    Fairfield University is a modern Jesuit Catholic university rooted in one of the world’s oldest intellectual and spiritual traditions. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students from the U.S. and across the globe are pursuing degrees in the University’s five schools. Fairfield embraces a liberal humanistic approach to education, encouraging critical thinking, cultivating free and open inquiry, and fostering ethical and religious values. The University is located on a stunning 200-acre campus on the scenic Connecticut coast just an hour from New York City.

The priest who played with Duke Ellington

STAMFORD—Earlier this week, I made a visit to Our Lady Queen of the Clergy Retirement Home in Stamford, CT to interview Msgr. John Sanders, who played with Duke Ellington for five years and then became a Catholic priest.

Msgr. Sanders’s memory was not up to a full podcast interview on the day I visited, but I had a wonderful visit nonetheless. He is a very sweet and humble man who clearly wanted to do his best to give me what I needed.

The memories that remained were seemingly the most important things. Above all, Msgr. Sanders kept repeating how wonderful it was that as a boy, his Aunt Edith took him to the Apollo Theater over and over again to hear the likes of Ellington, Count Basie, and Louis Armstrong. He never could have imagined he would be playing in Ellington’s band some day.

Yet by God’s providence, after a stint with the great saxophonist Lucky Thompson, Sanders ended up replacing long-time Ellington band member Juan Tizol (two of whose tunes, “Caravan” and “Perdido,” are jazz standards) in both his roles—as trombonist and score copyist. The latter job was one most band members considered tedious, but Sanders considered it a great honor.

Sanders played with Ellington from 1954-1959, during which time the band recorded such albums as Such Sweet ThunderBlack, Brown and Beige featuring the great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson; Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook; the first full recording by jazz musicians of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess; and Ellington’s film score Anatomy of a Murder. He also took part in the famous concert at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival, in which a 27-chorus blues solo by saxophonist Paul Gonsalves made the crowd go wild and effectively revived Ellington’s career.

When Sanders decided to leave the band and enter seminary, Ellington was supportive, and even attended his former trombonist’s first Mass. Msgr. Sanders spoke with as much gratitude and awe of having been able to spend his life as a priest as he did of the amazing experience of having played with one of jazz’s greatest giants.

Msgr. Sanders told me numerous times that his life had been more wonderful than he had ever imagined it would be. At the end of our conversation I asked if he had ever missed the musician’s life after becoming a priest. He responded:

No, I think whatever was called for to be or to do, I was always able to go in the right direction. And I thought I was very fortunate to be led one day to becoming a priest. I never thought it would happen to me, and I am thankful for it. Even now when I’m retired, I am thankful for the blessings that I have received; I can’t thank God, our Lord enough. And I hope that every day that I live, I do and think in a way that is doing God’s work. It’s good. Just thankful.

For a more detailed version of Msgr. Sanders’s story, see this L.A. Times article from 1990.

By Thomas V. Mirus |  Catholic Culture

When the marginalized help us find God

At a time he was struggling with his faith and looking for answers about God, Luca Badetti returned from an event at L’Arche Chicago, a multicultural community where people with intellectual disabilities can live ordinary lives.

He decided to share his questions with his friend Jennifer who has down syndrome, hoping to receive words of wisdom to help him understand where God was in the midst of everything.

Before he could finish his sentence, she looked at him from behind her glasses and said, “I believe in you … I believe in you.” He never forgot that moment. It encouraged him to trust himself and to trust in God more.

The words became the title of his book, “I Believe in You,” a compilation of stories about how people with disabilities can widen our understanding of ourselves and of God. The book, which was recently published by New City Press, contains a forward by Jean Vanier, who founded L’Arche at his home in Trosly-Breuil France in 1964. In 55 years, it has become an international movement of 160 communities, 20 of them in the United States.

L’Arche communities provide homes and workplaces where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work together as peers in a spirit of simplicity. They are inclusive communities of faith and friendship. “L’Arche” is French for “the ark,” referring to Noah’s ark, a symbol for refuge and the covenant between God and humanity.

“To believe actually means to trust,” says Dr. Badetti, a former Stamford resident who is the director of community life at L’Arche Chicago. “People journey through life, facing questions about who they really are and what they are here for, as well as questions about those they encounter day in and day out. My hope is this book will provide insights that help them believe in themselves and others. I invite them on a journey, page by page, grounded in stories about people with disabilities I’ve met in my community.”`

Dr. Badetti graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville with a degree in theology and communications and a minor in philosophy and mental health and human services. He received a master’s in clinical psychology from the Institute for Psychological Studies in Arlington, Virginia, and a doctorate in disability studies from the University of Illinois Chicago. In addition to his work at L’Arche, he teaches at Loyola University’s Institute for Pastoral Studies and at DePaul University’s Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies program.

He bases the reflections in his book on stories and experiences he has gathered while living in the L’Arche community, integrating them with insights from psychology, theology and the Gospels.

Dr. Badetti says that sharing simple activities with the core members of the community can be a very profound experience, whether it is going to the supermarket, preparing dinner or attending a concert. It is important, he says, to remember they are people and should not be defined by a clinical diagnosis.

“At dinner we chat with other another,” he said. “There is a humanness around the table. We talk about simple things like ‘Do you like the pasta?’ and ‘Please pass the water.’ We might even share a laugh about what happened that day. I think God is more present there than in our mental abstractions and intellectualism.”

He added that “We can hide behind thoughts and words, but it is more important to live from the heart. This is a great way of living in community with people who have been marginalized but are also very human. There is a beauty to becoming friends and hanging out with them or going on car rides or to a concert.”

One fellow named Ted loved Dunkin’ Donuts, and Dr. Badetti would often take him there, and although he was non-verbal, the occasion let them both communicate in a quiet way with each other.

After dinner, his group members light a candle in the living room and pray together. Community living, however, can present challenges, and there are moments of fatigue along with occasional disputes between core members.

L’Arche Chicago is a multi-cultural faith community with three homes. Its members have different beliefs and some have no religious background.

“The Divinity is in our humanity,” he said. “As Jean Vanier says, if people don’t believe in God but believe in other people, one day they might also believe in God. But if people believe in God but not other people, it can be a disaster.”

Born in Rome, Dr. Badetti attended middle school in Milan, and in 1998, his family moved to Stamford, and he graduated from Westhill High School. He went to the University of Connecticut for his freshman year but later transferred to Franciscan. While he was there, he began reading books by psychologist and priest Henri Nouwen and Jean Vanier. After visiting two L’Arche communities, he felt called to volunteer, so he went to the Massachusetts community outside of Boston and stayed for a year. He later worked at L’Arche in Rome and France, where Vanier started the first home.

“In my work, I promote personal wholeness and social transformation through the encounter with disability,” he says. “I do this through teaching, community work and consulting. In a society that emphasizes individualism and intellectual ability, people can be afraid of disability. It’s easy to hide behind ideas, self-reliance and achievement. I want to bridge the gap by showing how encountering disability can actually lead us to live more complete and connected lives from the heart.”

He and one of the residents named Mike began a national inclusion team for the 20 communities in L’Arche USA. They met to find ways to include the viewpoints of people with disabilities in determining how the communities function.

Dr. Badetti hopes his book will encourage people to open themselves up to those who are marginalized or who are different.

“When we believe in ourselves, we recognize our preciousness and also affirm the preciousness of others,” he said. “God is love, and whenever we love ourselves and others, we are living in God because the Divine is present whether we recognize it or not. I also believe there is truth in the fact that we can be healed by encountering the marginalized, and we can grow together.”

‘Rain Down’ open to youth throughout the diocese

STAMFORD—Rain Down is an incredible gathering of youth for prayer, fellowship, food, fun and Eucharistic Adoration. This event has been taking place annually at St. Cecilia Church in Stamford, and this year is open to youth in grades 8 through 12 throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport! This year the keynote presentation and entertainment will be provided by the international performer Tony Melendez. The cost is just $10 per participant!

The gathering will include:

• Dynamic & Inspirational Presentations
• Sunday Mass & Eucharistic Adoration
• Service Projects
• Food & Games
• Sacrament of Reconciliation

When: Sunday, October 28, 2018 from 2-8:30 pm
Where: The Church of St. Cecilia (1184 Newfield Avenue, Stamford, CT 06905)
Please register by October 21. Space is limited! Continue below to register as youth (age 18 and below) or adult (age 18+).
Register here:

Knights’ Anderson Empowers Hispanic Catholics

Knights’ Carl Anderson Tells Hispanic Catholics they Can Shape Future of U.S. Church

Our Lady of Guadalupe is relevant as she appears today in those she inspires

NEW HAVEN—Our Lady of Guadalupe is at work today in the Church in the United States through the faith and action of her numerous followers, Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson told the Fifth National Encuentro for Hispanic/Latino Ministry that concluded Sunday in Grapevine, Texas.

Anderson told the audience at the conference that “She is very relevant today and there is a Guadalupe miracle today in our country.” He added, “That miracle is the appearance of millions of Guadalupanos and Guadalupanas in this country that can shape the future of our Church.”

Anderson noted that the Encuentro gathering is an opportunity “to tell the other Catholics in our country that Hispanic Catholics have gifts to give you.”

A key objective of the Encuentro, which followed smaller, regional meetings, is to challenge Latino Catholics to go further and “better respond as missionary disciples in service to the entire Church,” according to organizers.

Hispanics comprise about 40 percent of Church membership in the United States, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Latino Church population is particularly large among youth and young adults. Fifty percent of American Catholics ages 14 to 29 are Hispanic, and 55 percent of Catholics under 14 are Hispanic.

The Knights of Columbus has long recognized the devotion of Hispanic Catholics and their important contributions to the Catholic Faith. K of C councils were instituted in Mexico as early as 1905 and first primarily Hispanic council in the U.S. was founded in Los Angeles in 1927.

Today, the Knights of Columbus has hundreds of Spanish-speaking councils, and thousands of Hispanic members, said Anderson, who recalled the advice of Pope Francis to Latino Catholics during his 2015 visit to the United States.

“[Pope Francis] said, first, you have many gifts to give to the nation,” said Anderson. “And, second, do not be afraid, do not be ashamed of your traditions.”

For Hispanic Catholicism, those traditions are closely associated with Mary and the impact on evangelization prompted by the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe, said Anderson, Upon becoming supreme knight of the K of C in 2000, Anderson declared Our Lady of Guadalupe to be patroness of the Knights of Columbus, placing every Knights council everywhere in the world under her protection.

Anderson is also the co-author, along with Msgr. Eduardo Chavez, of “Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the Civilization of Love,” on how Our Lady of Guadalupe’s message is both historically significant and speaks to contemporary issues confronting the people of the American continents.

“The future of America is the future of Guadalupanos and Guadalupanas,” said Anderson of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s ongoing impact that reaches far beyond the hilltop in Mexico City where she first appeared. “That’s the miracle today.”

Our Lady of Guadalupe’s image appeared on the cloak of indigenous Mexican convert Juan Diego in 1531. The cloak revealed important elements of the Christian faith through native symbols easily recognized by the indigenous people, resulting in the conversion of millions to the Catholic faith.

About the Knights of Columbus

Founded in 1882, the Knights of Columbus is a 1.9 million-member fraternal organization and Fortune 1000 insurance company.  The K of C is known for its contributions to communities and parishes, and its reach extends to the rest of the world, as well. Whether it’s donating food and clothes, providing support for disaster relief, helping persecuted Christians in the Middle East, volunteering to help children with special needs with the Special Olympics or supporting mothers of unborn children, Knights demonstrate the power and impact of men turning their faith into action every day. 2017 was a record-setting year for Knights of Columbus charitable work with an unprecedented $185.6 million in donations and 75.6 million hours of volunteer service provided worldwide. For more information, visit

Contact: Joe Cullen, 203.415.9314;