Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

Articles By: erik shanabrough

Jesus Asks us to Walk Side by Side

BRIDGEPORT—On Independence Day weekend, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano delivered a homily on the theme of accompaniment and the need to walk with others who are struggling or burdened.
In his weekly online Mass (for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time) celebrated in the Catholic Center chapel, the bishop reflected on the Gospel of Matthew (11: 25-30), “28 “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…”

Noting that Pope Francis has consistently spoken of accompaniment, the bishop said, “When we walk with our neighbor, we are fulfilling the Lord’s commandment and making the yoke easy, the burden light for someone who walks with us.”

The bishop began his homily by recalling the Spring of 1966, when he was seven years old and accompanied his parents back to Italy for his Uncle’s wedding.

He said he remembered two things about the trip; the heavenly wedding feast which had three pasta courses, and the old farmer plowing his field with a single ox, though the yoke was designed for two.

“The farmer was walking side by side with the ox before he began to plant. It struck me as odd until I grew older and realized the great symbol and meaning,” said the Bishop, referring to the gospel passage.

“The yoke was designed to hold two side by side. If Jesus invites you and I to carry his yoke, he will be near to us every step of the way to share the burden, pain and suffering, and also when the going is easy and we walk in delight and joy.”

Referring to the writing of St. Teresa of Avila, the bishop said that believers are the hands, voices eyes and ears of God in the world since the Ascension and must walk alongside of each other.

He said it can be difficult to accompany those we love and are closest to, when they are unwilling to change, “and our attempts to share their yoke are received with deafening silence,” he said.

Parents often desperately try to reach their teenage children who resist all attempts, and many people helplessly watch family and friends slipping away in self-destructive lifestyles.

“It not easy to accompany someone who doesn’t see the need,” he said, but he urged people not to give up, and to persevere in walking with those who share our lives or are entrusted to our care.

“Perhaps with God’s grace they will ask us to stand with them, share the yoke and accompany them in the ups and downs in life,” he said.

He also challenged listeners to “share the yoke” of those who have betrayed and wounded them.

“So I ask you can you share the yoke of the person at the bottom of your list, who you and I would least like to accompany, can we summon the courage to reach out and make the offer?”

“We may discover God has many surprises for you and me, and that the yoke may be easier than we imagined because we went where no one else dared to go.”

The bishop concluded by saying that years later when his sister returned to Italy for her own wedding, the oxen were gone, replaced by tractors, and that the village had changed.

“But the yoke remains– what Christ asks us to share with our neighbor. Who among us will put our hand to the plow?”

In brief words before the end of Mass, the bishop wished all a happy and healthy Independence Day weekend. He thanked them for joining the Mass and for also praying the rosary online on Sundays and during the week.

To join in the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, live-streamed weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.

(To volunteer to lead or to find the link to join, please visit https://formationreimagined.org/summer-sunday-rosary/. No computer? No problem. If you do not have access to a computer but still wish to join, please call 301-715-8592, 845-737-3993, or 312-626-6799, and enter this ID number when prompted: 853 2949 3207 If you call in a few minutes early, you should hear some music until we begin.)

U.S. Bishops’ Chairmen Grateful for SCOTUS Decision

WASHINGTON – Today, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision in the case of Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, which challenged a decision by the Montana Supreme Court to invalidate a tax credit scholarship program because families benefiting include those who choose to send their children to religiously-affiliated schools, a violation of the Montana state constitution’s “Blaine Amendment” of 1889 against aid to religious schools. By vote of 5-4, the Court ruled in favor of the petitioners.

Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Michael C. Barber, S.J. of Oakland, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Catholic Education, have issued a statement:

“The Court has rightly ruled that the U.S. Constitution does not permit states to discriminate against religion. This decision means that religious persons and organizations can, like everyone else, participate in government programs that are open to all. This is good news, not only for people of faith, but for our country. A strong civil society needs the full participation of religious institutions. By ensuring the rights of faith-based organizations’ freedom to serve, the Court is also promoting the common good.

“The Court has also dealt a blow to the odious legacy of anti-Catholicism in America. Blaine Amendments, which are in 37 states’ constitutions, were the product of nativism and bigotry. They were never meant to ensure government neutrality towards religion, but were expressions of hostility toward the Catholic Church. We are grateful that the Supreme Court has taken an important step that will help bring an end to this shameful legacy.”

The USCCB filed an amicus curiae brief supporting the petitioners, which can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/Laycock-Berg-CLS-Amicus-Brief.pdf

From usccb.org

Celebrating the Great Freedoms!

“On this Independence Day, we celebrate the great freedoms that form our nation. We give thanks to the countless men and women who sacrificed so much to allow our nation the protection it needed and still requires to maintain the ideals of our founding fathers and to move forward into the future with confidence.” – Bishop Frank J. Caggiano

Wishing a happy, healthy and safe 4th of July to all!


 

Permanent Diaconate Survey Highlights Work

WASHINGTON-The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations has shared the results of the annual survey on the permanent diaconate. A Portrait of the Permanent Diaconate: A Study for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 2019-2020, was conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) and provides an illustration of the state of the permanent diaconate in the United States, including the number of those ordained and retired in the past year, percentages of those involved in various Church ministries, and other demographic information.

Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations expressed his gratitude for the ministry of permanent deacons in the Church. “Permanent deacons provide an invaluable service to the universal Church. Through their leadership in parish and pastoral ministry, proclamation and preaching of the Gospel, and involvement in corporal and spiritual works of mercy, deacons imitate Christ the Servant by bringing the presence of Jesus to those who are often the most vulnerable in our society.”

With contact information provided by the National Association of Diaconate Directors and CARA’s Catholic Ministry Formation database, CARA contacted the 187 dioceses and eparchies in the United States with an active Office of the Permanent Diaconate. Of this total, 129 responded to the survey for an overall response rate of 69%. Of that total, 71% of responses were from Latin Catholic dioceses and 36% were from Eastern Catholic eparchies. Some of the major findings of the report based on the responding dioceses and eparchies are:

  • The dioceses with the largest number of permanent deacons: Chicago (764), Galveston-Houston (478), and New York (355). Adjusting for Catholic population size, Latin Rite dioceses with the lowest ratio of Catholic per permanent deacon include: Lexington (481 Catholics to every deacon), Bismarck (690 Catholics per deacon), Rapid City (704 Catholics per deacon), Duluth (708 Catholics per deacon), and Jefferson City (733 Catholics per deacon).
  • The 123 Latin Rite dioceses that responded to the survey report a total of 13,810 permanent deacons, both active and non-active. The four eparchies that responded reported a total of 57 permanent deacons. Extrapolating to include the dioceses and eparchies that did not respond to the survey, it can be estimated that there are as many as 19,833 permanent deacons in the United States today.
  • Latin Rite dioceses report having 9,935 permanent deacons active in ministry. The four eparchies report 50 active permanent deacons. Extrapolating to include dioceses and eparchies that did not respond to the survey, it can be estimated that there are 14,287 deacons active in ministry in the United States today, or about 72% of all permanent deacons.
  • During the 2019 calendar year, 383 new permanent deacons were ordained. At the same time, 334 deacons retired from active ministry and another 289 deacons died. As is the case with priests in the United States, there are not enough new permanent deacons being ordained to make up for the numbers who are retiring from active ministry or dying each year.
  • Ninety-five percent of active permanent deacons are at least 50 years old. About a fifth (20%) are in their 50s, four in ten (41%) are in their 60s, and two-fifths (41%) are 70 or older.
  • Three-quarters of active deacons (76%) are non-Hispanic whites. Seventeen percent are Hispanic or Latino. Three percent are African American and 4% are Asian or Pacific Islander.
  • Among permanent deacons who are financially compensated for ministry:
     

    • 26% are serving in a “parish ministerial position” other than in pastoral care of a parish (Canon 517.2), such as religious education or youth ministry.
    • One in eight are entrusted with the pastoral care of one or more parishes (Canon 3 517§2) (13%) or work in parish non-ministerial positions such as administration, business, or finance (12%).
    • One in nine works in prison ministry (11%), in a diocesan non-ministerial position (e.g., administration, business, finance) (11%), and in diocesan ministerial position (e.g., religious education, youth ministry) (9%).
    • Fewer work in hospital ministry (8%), parochial education (e.g., school teacher, educational administration) (7%), and works in ministry in a social services agency (e.g., Catholic Charities) (4%).

The entire CARA report can be accessed at: http://usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/diaconate/upload/Diaconate-Post-Ordination-Report-2019-2020.pdf

Published originally usccb.org

Gratitude is Fundamental to our Lives

BRIDGEPORT— Discipleship and following in the footsteps of the Lord require a deep sense of gratitude for our blessings and also a willingness to give them all away, said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in his homily for Mass on the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Practicing spiritual detachment is one of the most difficult things in life, but it frees us to truly love others, he said in his weekly online Mass from the Catholic Center chapel.

After reading the Gospel of Matthew, (10: 37-42), 39 “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it,” the bishop offered a personal and poetic reflection on spiritual detachment.

He said one of the most profound experiences he had while serving as Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn was participating a spiritual exercise known as the “Five Suitcases,” in which a person is challenged to place all of his or her blessings in five suitcases and then unpack them one by one in an effort to detach themselves from the things of the world.
The bishop noted that in the gospel, Jesus challenges his listeners to be prepared to let go of all they love, “even the most basic, natural relationships with mothers and fathers.”

“There is much we all cling to, but Jesus becomes even more blunt that we must be prepared to give up everything even our own desire for self-preservation so that we can walk with Him.”

“Discipleship is about becoming detached from that which is around us so that we become more attached to the Lord,” he said.
Two qualities are necessary to fully follow in the footsteps of the Lord, “a deep sense of gratitude in the recognition of our many blessings and the willingness to give them away,” he said.

“Gratitude is fundamental to our lives. That is what we do here on the altar in the Holy sacrifice of the Mass—we give thanks” he said.

“On Calvary, Christ extended his hands to embrace us and let go of everything else except love of the Father, and he is our savior and redeemer,” he said, adding that the deeper reason for detachment is to learn that “Love is self-giving,” opening our clenched hands to give ourselves to others.

“He has taught us what it is to love and not cling to anything, and in his graciousness, he gives it all back to us but in its proper places so that it doesn’t command all of our attention, and we are ready to give it away if love demands it.”

As we are emptied of ourselves in following Christ, we are also “Filled with gift of Holy Spirit, so that we can love world, our neighbor, our enemy and all we meet in the mind and heart of Christ,” he said.

The bishop concluded by suggesting that those who watched the Mass begin their own spiritual exercise of sitting and listing all of the many blessings in their lives, and “thanking God for every line on your list. ”

“Thank God for all the ways he has helped us, picked us up, forgiven us, shaken the dust off us, embraced us, and walked with us to the next day, the next chapter in the newness of life.”

In brief comments after the final blessing, the bishop said there was much good news this weekend as all parishes throughout the diocese have resumed Mass inside Church, and he invited people to return as soon as possible to receive the Eucharist in person. He also asked prayers for all who are ill and that the virus will “leave our midst so that we may return to the worship we desire and the community we form together.”

To join in the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, live-streamed weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.

Faith Can Overcome Fear and Division

BRIDGEPORT—At a time of uncertainty, division and rancor in public discourse, we need not be overcome by our fears if we remember what Christ has taught us, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in his homily at Mass for the Twelfth Sunday of ordinary time.

“Jesus said to the 12 disciples, fear no one and nothing, but I ask myself, ‘How can I get to that place,’” Bishop Caggiano said in his reflection on the gospel of Matthew (10: 26-33).

The bishop began his homily by noting that when he was a young boy, an episode of Superman frightened him. It portrayed aliens coming out of the manhole covers, and he had nightmares until his mother explained that it was a TV show and he had nothing to fear.

He said that as he grows older and sees the state of the world, he finds himself growing more fearful and filled with worry along with questions about the future we are leaving for the younger generation.

“There is no listening and dialogue, things are cold and cruel. There is no mercy or tolerance and no overriding desire to seek justice despite the cost,” he said of today’s society.

“In our church I also see divisions that frighten me. I see the inability to see beyond what I want rather than what is for my neighbor’s good,” he said, urging the faithful to seek the truth of the gospel.

“Knowledge dispels fear,” the bishop said, noting that truth of faith brings hope and strength to those who believe in and follow Christ.

“You and I as believers in the Lord must remember the things we have been taught and that we know… and we know at that bottom of our heart that there is a savior and redeemer who has come to touch your life and mine.”

The bishop said that by taking up the Cross, Jesus walked in our own footsteps and knows what it is to suffer and to be lonely, misunderstood and reviled. His sacrifice gave us new life that we need not fear losing and that no one can take from us.

Referring to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s statement that there is “nothing to fear but fear itself,” the bishop said that Jesus goes one step further in that formula.

“Jesus tells us we should fear nothing–not even fear itself. With him, knowing who he is. what he has done, what he offers and what he promises, I ask you in the end, what is there to be afraid of.”

After the final blessing the bishop thanked the growing number of people who have been joining him for his regular online Sunday Mass, and he wished all men a happy Father’s Day.

“In a Special way I wish to offer my greetings and prayer so all fathers, grandfather, Godfathers, spiritual father and foster fathers. May God give you the grace to be good fathers leading hour children and all those you love to the Lord Jesus.”

To join in the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, live-streamed weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.

Two Men Ordained as Transitional Deacons

BRIDGEPORT — Bishop Frank J. Caggiano ordained two men as transitional deacons on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary at St. Augustine Cathedral, urging them to fulfill their ministry of service by following Our Lady’s example during these extraordinary times.

“I know you are both men of great integrity, of great faith, of great prayer, of great honesty and of great transparency, and I am delighted to be able to ordain you to be deacons and one day priests of Jesus Christ” he told Guy Dormevil and Brendan Blawie.

Ordination as a transitional deacon is the last step before ordination to the priesthood, which typically occurs a year later after additional pastoral, liturgical and educational preparation.

Attendance at the ordination on June 20 was limited to family members and guests because of restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“What a wonderful day to gather on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” Bishop Caggiano said. “She has much to teach us. Your lives could not be more different, and yet they were foreordained by the Lord, for in your triumphs and sufferings, in your struggles and in the ordinary routine of your lives, you have been molded like a sacred piece of clay in the hands of the great Master so that you could — both by the gifts he has given you and by the willingness you have to open your heart to his grace — serve him as his deacon.”

Bishop Caggiano said the ministry of the diaconate was foreordained by Christ through the Apostles “so there would be those among us who would be at ready service to the needs of the community and the needs of the world.”

However, he said the ministry is more than simply an ordination “to do something” but represents “a Living Sacrament of Service, which is far more than the things ‘you do,’ because you are called ‘to be’ as well as ‘to do.’”

He told the candidates, “From this moment on, everywhere you go, every word you utter, every opportunity to serve actively or to help others will be your gift to God’s people. You are and will forever be a Sacrament of Service, and so you enter into a great mystery, a mystery you could not live on your own, and for that reason, through the laying on of the hands and the invocation of the power of the Holy Spirit, you will have an abiding in the indwelling presence of God, who will allow you to do and be what you could not do or be on your own.”

The service they are called to is threefold — Service to the Word, Service to the Altar and Service in Charity, he said, adding that they were blessed to be ordained on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary because “She is a great teacher who will help you live that threefold service well, as only a mother can do.”

He recalled Our Lady’s last recorded words in Scripture at the Wedding Feast at Cana, when she told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

“The power of a preacher,” Bishop Caggiano said, “is to remind all God’s children that the only path to trust and joy and the only road to eternal life is to follow the words of the Master. To do what he tells us, what he has revealed to us in season and out of season, whether we like it or not, whether it is easy or not….I ask you to always preach courageously, to preach fearlessly, to preach with courage and compassion and mercy, mindful of the struggles that you and I and all God’s children face day in and day out. Do not fail on every occasion to tell those you have the privilege to preach to and with to ‘do whatever he tells you.’”

Photos by Amy Mortensen

Regarding, Service to the Altar, Bishop Caggiano said that Our Lady’s faithfulness allowed her to remain at Calvary when others fled. There, the sword of sorrow pierced her Immaculate Heart.

“You will come and serve not simply to aid in worship,” he told the candidates, but so you can bring your heart to it and allow it to pierce you so that the hopes and tears and sufferings and challenges of all God’s children that you and I have the privilege to serve will be presented at the altar through you, where they find healing and meaning and hope.”

He urged them to remember the example of the Blessed Mother because she will teach the profound meaning of Service in Charity, just as she did to the Apostles in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit came upon them.

“Why was she there?” he asked. “She was there because like any good mother, she was accompanying the friends of her son. She was there as the consoler, as the encourager, and throughout the Early Church, they came to her because she was the pillar of strength. They laughed with her, cried with her, danced with her and went on mission with her. She understood that charity is not simply giving to those who have not, but it is an accompaniment of life so that they may be encouraged, supported, lifted, freed, healed and never left alone.”

“We gather in extraordinary times,” he said. “If we were not people of faith, how could we endure the challenges we are facing because they are many and they are grave and they demand action of us. And yet it is precisely because these times are challenging that I am saying to you, Brendan, and to you, Guy, do not be afraid. Have hope and have joy because the Lord has called you, and the Lord will empower you. The Lord will strengthen you with whatever grace you need in every moment. He will never ask you to do what you cannot do, so do not allow the challenges around us to discourage you. Allow this day to be the first day of a joyful life of ministry. Remember, there will be many occasions when you will have no answer to give, when there will be no clear path, but the fact you are there. And the Lord will do what you cannot do yourself.”

When Bishop Caggiano concluded his homily, he examined the candidates, who knelt before him and declared publicly their intentions to undertake the office to assist the bishop and priests and serve the people of God.

Then, as they lay prostrate, the Litany of the Saints was prayed on their behalf, supplicating God for the grace to serve him and the Church. Later, extending his hands over each candidate, the bishop recited the prayer of ordination and they were vested with a stole and dalmatic. Bishop Caggiano presented them the Gospels and said, “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach.”

The ordination was followed by photos and a gathering of family and friends who congratulated the newly ordained men on the lawn outside the Cathedral.

Deacon Dormevil said he was blessed to be taking a step closer toward fulfilling a dream of his father Gustave to have a son who was a priest. He was certain his late wife of 29 years, Magalie Adolphe, who died in 2015, was looking down and proud of him for pursuing the vocation to which God called him. His children Guyvensky and Guylendy attended the ordination with family members and friends from the Haitian community.

He was born in Haiti to Gustave Dormévil and Angélie Louis Charles, where he was raised with his 15 siblings. In 1988, he left his job as immigration inspector to take refuge in the United States, where he worked as a nursing aide and produce manager. He attended college and received a certificate of English as a Second Language and an associate degree in business administration.

On August 3, 2016, Bishop Caggiano approved his application to enter St. John Fisher Seminary, where he began pre-theology studies. A year later, he entered Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass., where he will continue his fourth year of theological studies in the fall.

He has been active in his parish and on a diocesan and national level. At his parish, he was leader of the liturgical committee, leader of the Haitian Charismatic Prayer Group, Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, member of the parish council, a member of the finance board and a parish trustee.

In October 2009, he received the Saint Augustine Medal of Service from the Diocese of Bridgeport, while he was serving as a diocesan pastoral council member. In 2014, at the fourth diocesan synod, he served as delegate of the Haitian Community and St. Joseph Parish. Currently, he is one of the five members of the Haitian National Charismatic Committee based in New York.

“After my wife’s death, my plan was to fulfill the dream of becoming a Permanent Deacon,” he said. “However, the Lord had something far better planned for me. He re-kindled the priesthood call he made to me as a young adult so I prayerfully said yes to the call.”

Deacon Blawie was born and raised in Newtown and received all his Sacraments at St. Rose of Lima Parish. He is the middle of three children, with an older brother, Jack, and a younger sister, Marian. His parents, Karen and John Blawie, raised him in the faith, although he admits to not thinking much about being a priest as a boy.

“It was in high school that I began to actually learn about and love our faith,” he said.

He enrolled in the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech in the Marine Corps ROTC program, before transferring to Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he earned his degree in accounting.

While at Franciscan, he pursued a commission with the Marine Corps, graduating from Officer’s Candidate School in Quantico, Va. in 2012. This fulfilled a dream he had of being a Marine officer, but in the end, it was clear to him that it may have been his plan, but not the Lord’s.

Instead of commissioning as a 2nd Lieutenant, he entered St. John Fisher Seminary and completed two years of pre-theological studies before being sent to the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where he spent three years. In 2019, he received his theology degree, magna cum laude, from the Pontifical Gregorian University and has been on pastoral assignment at St. Thomas More Parish in Darien for the past year.

“I look forward to returning to Rome in the fall, where I will begin my studies for a Licentiate in Sacred Theology,” he said. “Life with Christ is always an adventure, and these past six years of formation for the priesthood for the Diocese of Bridgeport have been filled with joy and peace.”

“Approaching diaconate ordination has been a wonderful blessing,” he said. “It is something for which I have prepared and anticipated all these years of formation….Seminary formation is never the young man forming himself, but allowing the Lord to form him, so as to be a priest after his own Sacred Heart. Conforming our lives to the Will of God allows us to trust in his providence, and I can reflect back with much joy on all the twists and turns of the road of my life that have led me to this point of approaching his altar to receive Holy Orders. Being ordained during a pandemic was never how I pictured it, but I have learned that my plans are often flawed. I continue to trust in his will and his love, and pray that will lead me toward a worthy life of ministry.”

Decree Merging St. Joseph and St. Ladislaus Parish in Norwalk

 
 
 
 

The Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano
By the Grace of God and the Authority of the Apostolic See Bishop of Bridgeport
DECREE MERGING THE PARISHES OF
SAINT JOSEPH, NORWALK, CT
and
SAINT LADISLAUS, NORWALK, CT

In virtue of the office entrusted to me, I, the Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano, Fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, duly concerned with the spiritual welfare of the souls entrusted to me, zealous of removing everything that may be detrimental to their well-being and desiring to promote everything becoming of their progress, having engaged with the people of Saint Joseph Parish, Norwalk, CT and Saint Ladislaus Parish, Norwalk, CT, having prayerfully considered the information presented to me, the law and the facts, having heard all those whose rights may be harmed (c. 50), on November 16 & 23, 2019, February 12 & 29, 2020, April 2, 2020 and June 2, 2020 and having ascertained from documents and deeds and consulted those concerned that there are no major donors or heirs to be heard, and having heard the Council of Priests (c. 515 §2) on January 23, 2020, and having determined that the good of the souls requires it,

ESTABLISH THAT

The above two parishes be merged through an extinctive union so as to form one parish. This determination has been made to strengthen the pastoral care of the people of God in this area of my diocese especially through mutual coordination in the common mission of the Church and the re-evangelization of youth and to address several trends that are of serious concern, including: diminished Mass attendance, lack of sustainability in the face of diminishing income, declining sacramental celebrations, and clergy availability. Also, to be noted is that, the two parishes are territorial adjacent.

Wherefore, I, the undersigned Bishop of Bridgeport, in virtue of c. 515 §2 of the Code of Canon Law, do hereby decree that Saint Joseph Parish, Norwalk, CT and Saint Ladislaus Parish, Norwalk, CT, which up until now have been independent parishes, be merged as to form one parish which will be named Saint Joseph and Saint Ladislaus Parish.

  • I also hereby decree that all the rights, obligations and privileges of the members of Christian faithful domiciled in the territories of the now extinct Parishes of Saint Joseph, Norwalk, CT and Saint Ladislaus, Norwalk, CT, accorded to them by law or legitimately acquired, are to be transferred to and made part of Saint Joseph and Saint Ladislaus Parish.
  • The territorial boundaries of the aforementioned parishes, by this canonical decree, shall be amalgamated to become the boundaries of the newly formed Saint Joseph and Saint Ladislaus Parish.
  • Furthermore, the intentions of the founders and donors of the patrimony of Saint Joseph Parish, Norwalk, CT, and Saint Ladislaus Parish, Norwalk, CT, must be respected, in accordance with the law (c. 121 & 122).
  • All sacramental registers, seals, and parish files of the amalgamated parishes are to be properly transferred to, preserved and safeguarded by Saint Joseph and Saint Ladislaus Parish in accord with the norm of law.
  • The Church of Saint Joseph and the Church of Saint Ladislaus shall remain open as worship sites of the newly formed Saint Joseph and Saint Lad is la us Parish.
  • This decree will become effective on October 1, 2020, The Memorial of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church.

    This decree is to be communicated to the Pastors who are the proper administrators of the two juridical persons that are being amalgamated into a new juridical person, as well as the freely appointed Pastor of the newly formed juridical person. It is also to be communicated to all interested persons, according to the norm of law ( c. 532). It may be challenged within the peremptory time limit of ten (10) days from the legitimate notification of the decree and in accordance with the norm of law ( c. 1734 §2).

    Given this 19th day of June, 2020, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, at the Catholic Center, Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Bring Christ to the Waiting World!

BRIDGEPORT—“We receive the Body of Christ so we can go out in mission to bring Christ to the waiting world,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in his Mass on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, Sunday June 14.

In his online homily from the Catholic Center chapel, the bishop said that many people may think of missionary service in terms of going to a far-off land or a great adventure, but that it’s often found in the ordinary lives that people are called to lead as loving mothers and fathers.

“Mission is a life lived in fidelity, obedience, kindness and mercy. We receive the body of Christ so that we can be that for others,” he said, after reading from the Gospel of John (6:51-58), “ I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.”

The bishop began his homily by noting that when he was younger, he joined other people from the parish where he was serving as pastor for morning workouts at the gym.

“You are what you eat,” the personal trainer hold him, and added that that getting in shape requires better nutrition as well as exercise.

“My trainer got it right, but St. Augustine was even more correct when he said ‘We eat the body of Christ to become the Body of Christ.’”

“St. Augustine, the 5th century theologian, said the only food that matters is the food on this altar as we receive and grow ever more in the image of the Lord who grants it. In this mission we will find our purpose, find our identity and find the road we will walk with Christ unto everlasting life.”

The bishop said that every time Mass is celebrated there is a “four-fold” action at work. “We take the bread, bless it, break it, and give it away to those who come forward… so that we might be ready to be broken, poured out in the love we offer others as was offered to us on the cross. And then that we can be given away in mission.”

“We remember the gift of the body and blood of Christ not as history but as fact,” he said. “What appears to be bread and wine is the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ in our midst.”

The bishop noted that the last three words of the Latin Mass, “Ite Missa est,” don’t simply mean the Mass is over, but they are a summons to “Go forth and do something with what you have received.”

In brief remarks after Mass the bishop said that beginning this weekend many parishes in the diocese are making the transition back to Masses within the Church.

He said he prayed that “We will continue to do it safely and prudently, as we, who share in the life of Christ through the Eucharist, work to make Christ’s presence real in the world.”

To join in the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, live-streamed weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.

St. Elizabeth Seton Parish “Celebrates” the Return to Mass

RIDGEFIELD – As parishes get ready to resume indoor services, new traditions embraced during recent months will continue.

Volunteers throughout the diocese graciously accepted learning new technology to maintain a crucial link between the church and its community.

“When we started in March, I had never done Facebook streaming before,” said Cynthia Conti, a parishioner of St. Elizabeth Seton. Conti has been coming to the church every day to assist the parish in streaming masses on the social network. The masses are also posted to the church website.

“Every day you learn something new to work out the kinks. By the time this is all done, I will be a pro,” Conti said, adding, “I feel honored to bring our shepherd to his flock.”

Indeed, many parishioners appreciate the ability to see the familiar faces of the priests in their parish delivering the mass, as they watch from their homes. Outdoor masses, which started on Ascension Thursday at the Ridgebury Road church, enabled priests to not only see the faces of their parishioners but to interact with them as well.

“Celebrating mass to an empty pew is terrible,” said Pastor Reverend Joseph Prince. “There is no eye contact, so you don’t have (the parishioners) reactions.”

It was evident parishioners were excited to see each other and Father Prince during the outdoor ceremony where colorful lawn chairs and blankets dotted the lawn just across from the entrance of the church. Congregants had to pre-register on the church website for one of about 50 available spots.

“To watch the mass online is great,” said Michele Goodman, a parishioner at St. Elizabeth Seton for 15 years. “To receive actual communion meant the most to me.”

Although, Catholics watching mass at home have been encouraged to receive spiritual communion, Goodman’s sentiment was shared by many.

“It was awesome to be able to be here. It was really awesome to celebrate the mass again and receive the Eucharist,” said Nancy Rafferty, of Danbury.

Cindy Bruno, a parishioner for 40 years said the gathering of people at the outdoor mass, “was a beautiful reminder of our faith and how people longed to be together.”

“Worshipping together and being together,” Bruno said, “has given the mass a whole new meaning now.”

God’s Love Calls Us to Build a Just Society

BRIDGEPORT—In light of the events of the past few weeks, people of faith must work to build a more loving and just society that reflects the love that Jesus has brought into the world, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in his homily during the Mass for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.

In his weekly online Mass from the Catholic Center chapel, the bishop issued a powerful appeal for a change of heart and conversion based on the unity and love of the Holy Trinity.

He said the great suffering of the poor during the pandemic and the senseless killing “of a man begging to breathe” have forced us to look at the social and economic inequality that leaves so many struggling with racism and “standing on the edge of hunger and poverty.”

Reflecting on the Gospel of John (3: 16-18), “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,” the bishop said that the gift from God is love, not necessarily as the world defines it, but rather as “a self-giving that expects nothing in return,” and sacrifices all for the good of others.

“For disciples of the Lord it is not enough simply for myself to live a loving life. You and I must become agents so that the very world in which we live and society we are a part of must also reflect God’s love. That is why society exists to give honor and glory to the God of us all.”

The bishop said we are living in a world where we are divided and polarized, and there is much inequality of opportunity based on the color of someone’s skin, the language they speak or the country they come from.

“Where is the love in all that? How does it reflect the one who created us?” the bishop asked pointedly, saying that people must work to change things.

“The time has come for real action, real repentance, real conversion, real commitment to effect justice, equality, charity, understanding, dialogue, respect and peace-making in every corner of our society, regardless of race, creed or color. “

The bishop began his homily by noting that one benefit of sheltering in place for him during the pandemic was the time he found to look at the science channel, particularly the discussion of scientists about the origin of the universe.

He said that even preeminent physicists and astronomers come to a place where they are “lost for words when they speak of the depth, breadth, order and beauty of all creation,” and that some “stumble on words like ‘creator’ and then correct themselves” as they wrestle with the concept of infinity.

The bishop said that as believers in Jesus, people can find answers in their faith and that God revealed in the Trinity is a “community of love.”

“You and I are made in image and likeness of the Trinity and are called to be agents of love. If we are truly to worship this one true God, this is the moment, when we are coming out of the pandemic and looking at one man, George Floyd, who represents the tragic death of so many other of our brothers and sisters in this society.”

“We must rebuild our society one living brick at a time based on what God has revealed about himself. He calls us to dream of a world that we will build that is color blind, race blind and economic-strata blind, where all God’s children will have opportunities to live in in peace and justice.”

The Bishop said such a vision may sound utopian, but it is the obligation of all Christians to work to fulfill God’s love in the world.

“You and I will begin to see this dream become reality, one choice at a time, one person at a time, one day at a time. For if it is not now, when? If it is not you and me, then who will do it?As we honor the most Holy Trinity, let us honor him in word, let us honor him in deed.”

To join in the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, live-streamed weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.

St. Joseph’s Curbside Caring

DANBURY – Volunteers at St. Joseph Church gave curbside pick-up a whole new meaning in May.

As vehicles pulled into the entrance of the Main Street church, they popped open the trunk or back door of their car or SUV and volunteers eagerly picked up bagged non-perishable items being donated to those in need.

St. Joseph Church and Catholic Charities partnered for the 3-hour event (May 23) to collect and later distribute food items and other essentials that are in high demand.

“It’s so encouraging to know our parishioners care about those in need,” said Pastor Reverend Samuel Scott, as he stood alongside volunteers, greeting each person with a wave, a smile and a few heartfelt words. “We have a sense of belonging in Danbury and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the ability to help those in need.”

Dozens of cars arrived at the church despite the persistent rain and occasional downpour. They were greeted by cheerful volunteers who were also undeterred by the soggy afternoon.

Bags containing pasta, peanut butter, cereal and other important items such as face masks, hand sanitizer and puzzles and books, filled the Catholic Charities “Morning Glory” van in the parking lot.

“It’s wonderful to see a good turnout like this,” said Heather Ely, Director of Catholic Charities’ New Heights Wellness and Recovery Center.

Ely said there are a lot of people who are at-risk, who need help now more than ever. They are paralyzed by the pandemic with anxiety or stress of isolation. Many cannot go out to the store due to health concerns or they have issues getting transportation to and from the store.

“The need is so great and we are trying to find some small way to fill the gap,” said Sandy Cole, LCSW, Vice President & Senior Director of Catholic Charities. “We wanted to have a collaboration with our parishes and the community.”

Volunteers for Catholic Charities have coordinated efforts to deliver groceries to people who are unable to shop or who cannot come to Catholic Charities to pick up the items.

“We realized we had all these supplies in our pantry (at the beginning of the state shut-down in March) and we didn’t want it to go to waste,” Ely said. “This has challenged us to see what we can do and how we can reach people now.”

Demonstrating the need in the community, as a steady stream of cars arrived at the church to donate goods, there were a few who stopped by seeking to be the recipient of food donations.

“It’s sad how much the need has grown in such a short period of time,” said Michael Donoghue, Executive Director of Catholic Charities.
“We’ve seen a tripling of demand,” he said. “Service workers and hourly workers are really struggling right now to provide food for their family. Although this is a very difficult crises, we’ve really seen an outpouring of support.”

The parish established in 1905 has a vibrant volunteer population participating in different ministries within the church and the surrounding communities.

The food drive was a parish family affair, as multiple members of families took on different roles with young children holding food drive signs at the entrance of the church parking lot and adults unloading cars.

“It works well. People don’t have to get out of their cars. It’s very safe,” Donoghue said of the organized food drive, one of several Catholic Charities has collaborated on with parishes in the area.

The generosity of the community filled the commercial-sized van twice. The opportunity to help others and see familiar faces, such as Reverend David Franklin who offered blessings and bulletins to parishioners and people who stopped by with donations, elicited a sense of joy, as face coverings could not quite conceal the smiles and laughter.

“St. Joseph in the spirit of giving, wanted to make a difference in our community,” said Lynn Smierciak, Director of Religious Education at the Parish, who was volunteering alongside her family. “It is traditionally a very generous parish.”

Catholic Schools are planning for in-person classes

BRIDGEPORT— The diocese plans to begin the next school year in September with in-person classes and the ability to make a fluid transition to distance learning if it becomes necessary, Dr. Steven Cheeseman, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, said in a video to parents, teachers and students.

Diocesan plans also call for a blended learning option for students who for any reason are unable or concerned about returning to the classroom, he said.

In the video Dr. Cheeseman said that the diocese is ending the current schools year “in a way that no one could have imagined when it started.”

He said a diocesan “Return to School” taskforce is preparing for a back-to-school season that will be unlike any other,” but that the schools will be ready to provide student-centered learning that focuses on the personal, spiritual and academic development of students.

Dr. Cheeseman said that diocesan schools are prepared to transition from the “crisis distance learning program” they began in March to an improved remote learning process, if it is required at any time in the future.

He thanked all those who participated in recent focus groups and asked parents to participate in a planning survey that will be available within a few days. The information will be used to develop “school-specific plans” that will be shared with parents.

To learn more about Catholic elementary and high schools available throughout Fairfield County, visit: https://www.dioceseofbridgeportcatholicschools.com/find-catholic-school-fairfield-county-ct/

Pentecost offers gift of unity in the Church

BRIDGEPORT– “We are not meant to be a sea of strangers or of polite neighbors… but to be members of one single, beautiful divine body–the mystical body of Christ,” said Bishop Frank J Caggiano on the Feast of Pentecost.

The bishop’s Mass was live-streamed from the Catholic Center chapel, where he has been celebrating Mass online for the faithful during the pandemic.

In his homily he said that one important gift that may come out of the terrible suffering and isolation of the pandemic is that we no longer take for granted the unity of the Church, which is struggling with many of the same divisions experienced by the larger society.

“Let’s be honest, do we want everything to go back to what we once considered normal?” the bishop asked, referring to the vitriol and personal attacks that have characterized much social media.

He said that disagreement should not be a license to attack the other person and that we need to work on mutual respect within the Church and society.

The bishop began his homily by quipping that when he celebrated his 50th birthday with friends eleven years ago, one of them said that at 50, “The body’s warranty expires and you start paying your dues.”

He added that we often take our own health for granted and “the gift of our body, this beautiful mysterious unity that allows us to be who we are.”

Yet one little ache or pain can cause discomfort in the entire body, he noted, likening it to division within the Church.

Describing Pentecost Sunday as ‘the birthday of the Church when the Holy Spirit came into our midst,” the bishop said the Church is a unity of believers and that the peace and forgiveness of Christ are offered to all.

“St Paul spoke of the Church as a body, the presence of Christ’s mystical body in the world… Just as there is this unity in our own individual bodies, so should there be unity amongst ourselves – we who share this great single Holy Spirit,” he said.

More than 1,600 years ago St. Augustine addressed disunity in the Church and taught that “the suffering of one is suffering of all. The glory, honor and dignity given to the one, is the glory, honor and dignity given to the all,” the bishop said.

At the end of Mass the bishop said that the diocese will soon begin the second phase of its reopening plan, and asked for prayers “the Holy Spirit will guide us step by step as we gradually emerge from the pandemic,” he said.

On Friday he announced the resumption of socially distanced weekend Masses inside church buildings beginning the weekend of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (June 13th and 14th) Click to read the Bishop’s entire letter: https://www.bridgeportdiocese.org/bishop-announces-phase-ii-return-to-public-mass/. Many parishes have been celebrating outdoor Masses since May 21, when the bishop formally gave permission and issued a set of health and safety guidelines.

“As we take steps to share community together, let us remember the promise of Pentecost. If that becomes the new normalcy, what a great gift will be given us to us.”
To join in the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, live-streamed weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.

USCCB Statement on Death of George Floyd

WASHINGTON – Seven U.S. bishop chairmen of committees within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have issued a statement in the wake of the death of Mr. George Floyd and the protests which have broken out in Minneapolis and in other cities in the United States.

Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism; Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez of Philadelphia, chairman of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, chairman of the Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; Bishop David G. O’Connell, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, chairman of the Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development; and Bishop Joseph N. Perry, auxiliary bishop of Chicago, chairman of the Subcommittee on African American Affairs have issued the following statement:

We are broken-hearted, sickened, and outraged to watch another video of an African American man being killed before our very eyes. What’s more astounding is that this is happening within mere weeks of several other such occurrences. This is the latest wake-up call that needs to be answered by each of us in a spirit of determined conversion.

Racism is not a thing of the past or simply a throwaway political issue to be bandied about when convenient. It is a real and present danger that must be met head on. As members of the Church, we must stand for the more difficult right and just actions instead of the easy wrongs of indifference. We cannot turn a blind eye to these atrocities and yet still try to profess to respect every human life. We serve a God of love, mercy, and justice.

While it is expected that we will plead for peaceful non-violent protests, and we certainly do, we also stand in passionate support of communities that are understandably outraged. Too many communities around this country feel their voices are not being heard, their complaints about racist treatment are unheeded, and we are not doing enough to point out that this deadly treatment is antithetical to the Gospel of Life.

As we said eighteen months ago in our most recent pastoral letter against racism, Open Wide Our Hearts, for people of color some interactions with police can be fraught with fear and even danger. People of good conscience must never turn a blind eye when citizens are being deprived of their human dignity and even their lives. Indifference is not an option. “As bishops, we unequivocally state that racism is a life issue.”

We join Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis in praying for the repose of the soul of Mr. George Floyd and all others who have lost their lives in a similar manner. We plead for an end to the violence in the wake of this tragedy and for the victims of the rioting. We pray for comfort for grieving families and friends. We pray for peace across the United States, particularly in Minnesota, while the legal process moves forward. We also anticipate a full investigation that results in rightful accountability and actual justice.

We join our brother bishops to challenge everyone to come together, particularly with those who are from different cultural backgrounds. In this encounter, let us all seek greater understanding amongst God’s people. So many people who historically have been disenfranchised continue to experience sadness and pain, yet they endeavor to persevere and remain people of great faith. We encourage our pastors to encounter and more authentically accompany them, listen to their stories, and learn from them, finding substantive ways to enact systemic change. Such encounters will start to bring about the needed transformation of our understanding of true life, charity, and justice in the United States. Hopefully, then there will be many voices speaking out and seeking healing against the evil of racism in our land.

As we anticipate the Solemnity of Pentecost this weekend, we call upon all Catholics to pray and work toward a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray for a supernatural desire to rid ourselves of the harm that bias and prejudice cause. We call upon Catholics to pray to the Holy Spirit for the Spirit of Truth to touch the hearts of all in the United States and to come down upon our criminal justice and law enforcement systems. Finally, let each and every Catholic, regardless of their ethnicity, beg God to heal our deeply broken view of each other, as well as our deeply broken society.

Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200