Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

Articles By: erik shanabrough

We’re often jealous because we’ve forgotten to be grateful

BRIDGEPORT—We should learn to be grateful for what we have rather than being jealous of others’ talents or possessions, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in his homily during his weekly online Mass for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

In addition to wounding others, jealousy blinds us to our own gifts and talents, and from feeling gratitude for our own lives, the bishop said.
Reflecting on the Gospel – Matthew 20:1-16 (1 “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard,”) the bishop said we may hesitate to admit our own jealousy but most of us have it in one form or another.

“It’s a sin and it can be profoundly serious. It harms others and ourselves because it hardens our hearts to what God has given us in our own lives and to the basic spiritual truths we need to come to grips with.”

In the parable, the landowner pays laborers who started working later in the day the same wage as those who began early in the morning.

The bishop said we are often like the laborers in the parable, asking why and failing to understand God’s love for us.

“If the landowner is God our Father, the truth is God gives gifts and talents according to his inscrutable will. They are given differently to each of us—and given to be given away in service of our neighbors.”

Looking back on his student days at Regis High School the bishop said he studied with a brilliant class of young men who seemed to master everything easily. He remembered struggling to improve his English prose skills while many of the students were learning Russian on the weekends as a second language.

Likewise, he said many people are jealous of others good looks or athletic talents, “while we struggle just to make the cut.” We may even be jealous of others who seem to be able to eat anything, while “We can just look at a piece of cake and gain weight.”

The bishop said that being envious of others masks an important spiritual truth.

“There is another deeper lesson at work here. That is, many times you and I are tempted to be jealous of our neighbor and envious of things they own because we have forgotten to be grateful. We spend too much time looking at those around us and not looking into our own lives. You and I are wildly blessed and many times we forget the gifts or take them for granted because they are part of the ordinary or in the fabric of our lives.”

The bishop recalled that as a young man he often disagreed with his father’s decisions and would question them.

“My father said, ‘I don’t have to explain them to you, though I may choose to for your own benefit. You need to trust me,’” the bishop said “The same is true for God our Father, as he gives each of us different gifts.”
At the end of his homily, the bishop issued a spiritual challenge for all to consider during the week.

“Why spend spiritual energy, waste time in comparing ourselves to one to another. It’s a dead end. The challenge is to spend more time celebrating and thanking the landowner for what he has given us. We should be less tempted to worry about what they have, and celebrate what we have… And then respond by giving our talents away. This is how we will learn to love our neighbor.”

In his brief remarks following Mass, the bishop invited all to watch the two-minute 2020 Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) video and to help others who have been devastated by the pandemic.

“When this entire challenge began 7 months ago, we were hoping it would be over. Sadly it is nowhere near being over,” he said.

The bishop said that the diocese has been able to respond on many levels in recent months but there is more work ahead. “I come to you in this unique moment recognizing that need in our midst in diocese continue to grow,” he said, urging people to be as generous as they can be to help the ACA reach it goal.

Bishop’s Online Mass:
The Bishop’s Sunday Mass is released online every Sunday morning at 8 a.m. and available for replay throughout the day. To view the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, recorded and published weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.

True Love That Lasts: new video series

BRIDGEPORT—Best-selling author Jim Steffen’s book “The Secret of Growing True Love That Lasts,” found its way into Bishop Frank J. Caggiano’s hands…and then the pope’s!

When Steffen heard that Bishop Caggiano was on the USCCB committee on laity, marriage, family life and youth, he knew that “True Love That Lasts” was something the bishop would truly appreciate.

“In their book, Jim and Carol Steffen outline a very simple recipe for a strong and healthy marriage, said Bishop Caggiano. “By asking just one question a day, husbands and wives can work together to build a relationship that endures. I invite couples of all ages and experience to take up Jim and Carol’s challenge of growing true love that lasts.”

Steffen’s new book is the culmination of the author’s sixty-year quest to understand how couples can stay together and enjoy marriages that thrive. “The problem has a dual nature,” Steffen says, “the first is to discover what to do to grow true love that lasts and the other is remembering to do it.” In the book, Steffen offers a solution to both.

The book provides practical tips for couples to follow and simple questions to ask each day. The included habit builder solves the second part of the equation. With his background in time management, Steffen uses what he calls the QEP method: Quickto-learn, Easy-to-use, Proven-towork Method. The book is told as a story— following John and Maria on their romantic journey as they discover how to grow true love that lasts by asking just a single question a day. “I took the idea [for a story format] from Jesus Himself,” explains Jim. “Jesus did some of His best teaching in the form of a story and I wanted this to be a story that people could hang onto.”

In 2016, Pope Francis expressed his concern over the decreasing desire in young people for marriage. He explained that this is a great concern because the family is the basis of society. This issue is what Jim and Carol Steffen address in “True Love That Lasts.” “What can we do to make the family happier so that young people will want to get married?” Jim asks.

Jim Steffen has been working closely with Dr. Patrick Donovan, director of the diocesan Leadership Institute, in order to create a video series on True Love that Lasts.

“This movement is unique in so far as there is no diocese that has such an effort,” says Donovan, explaining that this is not just a premarital program but a program of continuing formation.

On June 25, 2020, The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization released a new Directory for Catechesis, providing guidelines for the Church’s mission of proclaiming the Gospel through catechesis and evangelization. The timing of Steffen’s book and video series could not be better, Donovan added.

“In the new directory, Pope Francis challenges us to ‘make use of the valuable help of other couples with long-standing experience in marriage,’” Donovan says, quoting the New Directory. “The document goes so far as to challenge parishes and dioceses to lose the terminology, ‘marriage prep’ because it undermines the true meaning of marriage formation: an ongoing journey that takes a lifetime. What Jim and Carol have done is to take their own story and put it at the disposal of others. It will be a perfect tiein to our renewed formation for the sacrament of marriage, which launches in early September.”

The goal of the video series is to show people that the True Love That Lasts movement is both research based and practical.

Steffen explains that one can either follow along with the book as they watch the series, or use it to add something new, exciting and useful to their current understanding of relationships. He is most looking forward to being able to tell stories and share insights that wouldn’t have been able to fit in the book. “True Love That Lasts is not just for married couples,” says Steffen, “the principles can be applied to any and all relationships.”

(For more information on the True Love That Lasts video series visit formationreimagined.org; to purchase the book and accompanying materials, visit: truelovethatlasts.us.)

Creation must be protected, not exploited, pope says at audience

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Human beings must change their relationship with nature and view it not as an “object for unscrupulous use and abuse” but as a gift they are charged by God to care for and protect, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives for his general audience in the San Damaso courtyard at the Vatican Sept. 16, 2020. (CNS photo/Yara Nardi, Reuters)

People are called to contemplate creation as a reflection of “God’s infinite wisdom and goodness” and not act as if people are the “center of everything” and the “absolute rulers of all other creatures,” the pope said Sept. 16 during his weekly general audience.

“Exploiting creation — this is sin,” he said. “We believe that we are at the center, claiming to occupy God’s place and thus we ruin the harmony of creation, the harmony of God’s design. We become predators, forgetting our vocation as guardians of life.”

The audience was held in the San Damaso courtyard of the Apostolic Palace. While the pope maintained his distance when greeting most of the faithful, he approached several pilgrims to sign autographs, speak directly to them or briefly swap his signature zucchetto for one brought as a gift.

Continuing his series of talks on “healing the world,” the pope reflected on the theme of “caring for the common home and contemplative attitude.”

Contemplation, he said, is the best “antidote against the disease of not taking care of the common home” and falling “into an unbalanced and arrogant anthropocentrism,” in which humans place themselves and their needs “at the center of everything.”

“It is important to recover the contemplative dimension, that is, to look at the earth, at creation as a gift, not as something to be exploited for profit,” the pope said. “When we contemplate, we discover in others and in nature something much greater than their usefulness.”

Departing from his prepared remarks, the pope warned that those who are incapable of contemplating nature and creation, are often incapable of contemplating their fellow human beings.

“Those who live to exploit nature, end up exploiting people and treating them like slaves,” the pope said. “This is a universal law: if you do not know how to contemplate nature, it will be very difficult for you to contemplate people, the beauty of people, your brother, your sister.”

Recalling a Spanish proverb, the pope also cautioned that exploiting creation brings costly consequences because “God always forgives; we forgive sometimes; (but) nature never forgives.”

Citing a recent report that the Pine Island and Thwates glaciers in Antarctica are collapsing due to global warming, Pope Francis said the consequential rising sea levels “will be terrible,” and he called on people to “guard the inheritance God has entrusted to us so that future generations can enjoy it.”

“Each one of us can and must become a guardian of the common home, capable of praising God for his creatures (by) contemplating them and protecting them,” the pope said.

By Junno Arocho Esteves from catholicnews.com

Decree on Old Saint Patrick Church, Redding

The Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano
By the Grace of God and the Authority of the Apostolic See
Bishop of Bridgeport
DECREE
RELEGATION TO PROFANE BUT NOT SORDID USE OF OLD SAINT PATRICK CHURCH, REDDING, CT

Whereas the old Saint Patrick Church of Redding, CT has been replaced by a new church structure and;

Whereas the old structure is no longer being used as a center of worship of Saint Patrick Parish and;

Whereas it was decided by the Pastor and the faithful that the old Saint Patrick Church could best serve the parish as a center of evangelization for the youth and;

Whereas the remodeling of the old Saint Patrick Church for the aforementioned purpose has received diocesan approval;

In virtue of the office entrusted to me, I, the Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano, Fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, concerned with the welfare of the diocese and souls entrusted to me, in conformity with cc. 1212 and 1222, §2 of the Code of Canon Law, hereby relegate to profane but not sordid use the old Saint Patrick Church of Redding, CT.

Due consideration has been given to the above reasons and the presbyteral council was duly consulted on September 10, 2020 and approval has been received from the interested parties whose rights must be protected by law.

Given at the Diocese of Bridgeport Catholic Center on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, this 14th day of September of the Year of the Lord 2020.

Christian forgiveness has no strings attached

BRIDGEPORT—Most of us find it difficult to forgive friends and family who may have betrayed us, but Jesus urges us toward complete forgiveness, said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in his homily during his online Mass for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

“Many of us who struggle with this demand find it difficult to summon the energy and grace to forgive. We can forgive to a point— but with strings attached,” said the bishop from the Catholic Center chapel.

The bishop said it is a very human reaction to want to protect ourselves from further hurt, but the challenge presented by the gospel is that ““True Christian forgiveness does not have strings attached.”

The bishop’s homily was based on the Gospel of Matthew 18:21-35. “ 21 Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”

The bishop said Peter probably thought he had done well with his generous figure, but that Jesus goes beyond that exponentially.

“The Call of the Gospel is to be wildly generous, to know no limits or bounds. We are as children to follow the example of the Father in heaven who does the same for you and me and all of us,” the bishop said.

“He remembers every sin but gives us a chance to re-build ourselves without strings attached. He does so by generously, wildly maybe even recklessly loving us.”

The bishop said that one of the most poignant conversations he ever had took place when he began his first parish assignment at St. Jude Parish in Canarsie after returning from studies in Rome.

A woman came to him broken and distressed because she had been deeply betrayed by family and friends.

The bishop recalled “the honest human struggle this woman had to trying to do what the Lord asked… forgive those who had hurt and betrayed her so deeply.”

In the midst of her tears and resignation, she said to him in a whisper, “Fr. Frank, I will do my best to forgive, but I’m not sure I can forget.”

“Forgiveness is not an emotional response,” said the bishop. “It is an act of the will, a choice you make to give someone a new beginning, another chance.”

Forgiveness doesn’t condone what happened or excuse the hurt or sin committed, but it offers the other a fresh start if people are willing to change their lives, he said.

“God is always ready to forgive us, so who are we not to give it to our neighbors and friends and those who have hurt us?” he asked.

The bishop said that people feel the relief of no longer carrying the burden when they are forgiven, but the choice to forgive “is ours to make.”

“The challenge as we go through the coming week is that there are people in your life and mine where we have forgiven but not forgotten—forgiven but held on to the strings just in case,” he said.

“The lord asks us to forgive from the heart. For if He, the father, is willing to forgive us from his divine heart, shouldn’t we do the same for our neighbor?”
In brief remarks following Mass, Bishop Caggiano urged Catholics throughout the diocese to join in the “conversation about the conversation on race” that will be held online this Thursday.

“The diocese has been engaged in online conversations about the presence of racism in our midst, and the evil and sinfulness that needs to be identified and rooted out. In the conversation we will break open what we have learned so far, so that we will be prepared to answer the hard questions about where we will go from here,” he said.
Conversations about Race: The webinar series, features talks by teachers and pastoral ministers, began on July 30. The talks are live-streamed at 1 pm each Thursday and then rebroadcast at 7 pm each evening, with a question and answer sessions moderated by a member of the diocesan ad hoc committee against racism. (To view a recording of previous webinars, visit this page and click “previous webinars: https://formationreimagined.org/events-home/.)

Bishop’s Online Mass: The Bishop’s Sunday Mass is released online every Sunday morning at 8 a.m. and available for replay throughout the day. To view the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, recorded and published weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.

‘Restless’ Podcasts and Videos Reach Out to Young Adult Catholics

More than 1600 years ago, a proud, brilliant young man who thought he had everything realized he had nothing. He had friends, women, wealth and prestige, and still his heart was restless … because he didn’t have God.

That man, Augustine of Hippo, a pagan who became one of the Church’s greatest saints, said, “O Lord, our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.”

That spiritual restlessness still afflicts young people today in an age when we look to worldly pleasures and pursuits to satisfy a longing that only God can satisfy, says Father Joseph Gill of the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist, who with a group of young adults developed a podcast and video series titled “Restless” to bring them closer to God and explore issues that touch their lives in modern society.

“We are reaching out to young people through podcasts and videos because this is their language,” Father Gill said.

The Restless project was made possible by a St. John Paul II Fund grant from Foundations in Faith, which is supported by the We Stand With Christ capital campaign. Restless will be broadcast on Veritas Catholic Network at WNLK-AM 1350 radio and be made available as a podcast at www.veritascatholic.com.

Father Gill will moderate discussions with three young people from Stamford and Greenwich — Lauren Doyle, Diane Kremheller and Javier Tremaria — as they explore such topics as evangelizing in the workplace and navigating the single life with an eye toward marriage. The show is expected to begin airing this October.

=The Restless podcast is being recorded every Tuesday night at a studio Veritas set up in the basement at St. John’s. When Father Gill first arrived at the Basilica a year and a half ago, he had an idea to start a podcast and spoke to Kremheller, a co-founder of Catholic Adventures Stamford, a group for young adults in their 20s and 30s who have an interest in “building community and fellowship” with other Catholic young adults.

“People have had a lot of spare time on their hands during the shutdown, and they are using podcasts to get spiritual nourishment,” he said.

Themes they will explore include Catholics in political life, Catholic dating, how to read the Bible, Christian friendship and incorporating faith into sports.

Father, who acts as moderator, said of his three colleagues, “They are definitely devout, and more than that, they are articulate about their faith and not afraid to share. They are also very ‘normal’ with real struggles and real joys. They work in the secular world and are respected and well-liked by everybody.”

The Restless project is intended to help young adults on their faith journey.

=“It could be one avenue through which the Gospel reaches souls,” he said. “And it is meant for those young adult Catholics who want to go deeper into their faith. A lot of faithful young people feel isolated because there are not too many young adult groups in the area.

The podcasts, which will be 30 minutes long, will be available on Veritas and Spotify, a global digital music, podcast and video streaming service.

Steve Lee, President and CEO of Veritas, said he is excited about the new show, particularly at a time when young people are moving away from organized religion.

“Young adults are leaving the Church, and they don’t even understand what they’re leaving and why,” he said. “I met the young adults Father is working with and heard them do a mock show, and I was very impressed.”

The Restless video series has as its goal to produce faith-filled artistic expression. “People are attracted to God through beauty, truth and goodness,” Father said. “And we are looking at the way of beauty.”

He cited the example of Bishop Robert Barron’s series on Catholicism, which he said people watch over and over because of its profound message and captivating cinematography. Rather than having “talking heads,” Restless will feature different speakers and stunning video. A young volunteer who is accomplished in videography is editing the series, which will explore topics such as devotion to the Blessed Mother, the importance of confession and the meaning of life.

“It is meant for people who are seekers, people who are hungry and thirsty and want to dip their toe into Catholicism,” Father said. “My hope is that it will be used in Confirmation classes and CCD.

The videos will be uploaded to YouTube. In addition, Shalom World TV, a 24-hour television channel that broadcasts Catholic programs, has expressed interest in using the series. The 20 videos, which will be five to seven minutes long, are expected to be completed by spring and begin airing once a week in May.

Kelly Weldon, Director of Foundations in Faith, which approved a grant for the project from the St. John Paul II Fund for Religious Education, Youth Ministry and Faith Formation, said, “It is really a great project, and we are super excited about it.”

“I came to Foundations in Faith with a deep passion for giving young people the opportunity to really use their voice to create positive change, and Bishop Caggiano shares that interest,” Weldon said. “And there’s no better way to engage them than letting them design the program they’re participating in. Our young people know what they need. We seldom ask them what they want. This project is an excellent example of how as a community we can learn from our young people.”

September 11, 2001: When John Paul II Grieved With America

VATICAN CITY — As three airliners smashed into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, and Flight 93 crashed into a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001, Joaquín Navarro-Valls, at the time the director of the Vatican press office, delivered the news to Pope John Paul II.

“I remember that terrible afternoon as if it were yesterday. I called the Pope, who was at Castel Gandolfo; I gave him the news. He was shocked not only by the tragedy itself, but also because he could not explain how man could achieve this abyss of evil,” he recalled in a 2011 interview with Vatican Insider.

John Paul II, who had grown up to watch his native Poland overtaken first by Nazis and then by the Soviets, and who as pope navigated the dangerous international waters of the Cold War, was no stranger to tragedy and war.

Still, the terror attacks on the United States shook him deeply.

“He was deeply shaken, saddened. But I remember that he asked himself how so heinous an attack could happen. His dismay, in front of those images, went beyond pain,” Navarro-Valls recalled.

“He stayed for short time in front of the TV. Then he retired to the chapel, which is only a few steps away from the TV room. And he remained there a long time in prayer. He also wanted to get in touch with George Bush, to communicate his support, his pain, his prayer. But it was not possible to contact the president, who, for security reasons, was flying on Air Force One.”

Instead, Pope John Paul II decided to send his message of condolences and assurance of prayers via telegram and was among the first of the world leaders to do so that day.

“I hurry to express to you and your fellow citizens my profound sorrow and my closeness in prayer for the nation at this dark and tragic moment,” the Pope wrote.

In a 2011 article in the Register, James Nicholson, who was the new U.S. ambassador to the Holy See in 2001, recalled his first meeting with John Paul II, just two days after the terror attacks.

“The first thing the Pope said to me was how sorry he felt for my country, which had just been attacked, and how sad it made him feel. We next said a prayer together for the victims and their families.”

“Then the Pope said something very profound and very revealing of his acute grasp of international terrorism. He said, ‘Ambassador Nicholson, this was an attack, not just on the United States, but on all of humanity.’ And then he added, ‘We must stop these people who kill in the name of God.’”

Sept. 11, 2001, was a Tuesday.

The next day, Wednesday, is when the Pope is scheduled each week to address the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

While John Paul II normally used this as a time for catechesis on the family or other issues, he set everything aside on Sept. 12 to address the tragedy from which the world was still reeling.

Below is the full text of his words to the United States:

I cannot begin this audience without expressing my profound sorrow at the terrorist attacks which yesterday brought death and destruction to America, causing thousands of victims and injuring countless people. To the president of the United States and to all American citizens, I express my heartfelt sorrow. In the face of such unspeakable horror, we cannot but be deeply disturbed. I add my voice to all the voices raised in these hours to express indignant condemnation, and I strongly reiterate that the ways of violence will never lead to genuine solutions to humanity’s problems.

Yesterday was a dark day in the history of humanity, a terrible affront to human dignity. After receiving the news, I followed with intense concern the developing situation, with heartfelt prayers to the Lord. How is it possible to commit acts of such savage cruelty? The human heart has depths from which schemes of unheard-of ferocity sometimes emerge, capable of destroying in a moment the normal daily life of a people. But faith comes to our aid at these times when words seem to fail. Christ’s word is the only one that can give a response to the questions which trouble our spirit. Even if the forces of darkness appear to prevail, those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say. Christian hope is based on this truth; at this time our prayerful trust draws strength from it.

With deeply felt sympathy I address myself to the beloved people of the United States in this moment of distress and consternation, when the courage of so many men and women of goodwill is being sorely tested. In a special way I reach out to the families of the dead and the injured and assure them of my spiritual closeness. I entrust to the mercy of the Most High the helpless victims of this tragedy, for whom I offered Mass this morning, invoking upon them eternal rest. May God give courage to the survivors; may he sustain the rescue workers and the many volunteers who are presently making an enormous effort to cope with such an immense emergency. I ask you, dear brothers and sisters, to join me in prayer for them. Let us beg the Lord that the spiral of hatred and violence will not prevail. May the Blessed Virgin, Mother of Mercy, fill the hearts of all with wise thoughts and peaceful intentions.

Today, my heartfelt sympathy is with the American people, subjected yesterday to inhuman terrorist attacks, which have taken the lives of thousands of innocent human beings and caused unspeakable sorrow in the hearts of all men and women of goodwill. Yesterday was indeed a dark day in our history, an appalling offence against peace, a terrible assault against human dignity.

I invite you all to join me in commending the victims of this shocking tragedy to Almighty God’s eternal love. Let us implore his comfort upon the injured, the families involved, all who are doing their utmost to rescue survivors and help those affected.

I ask God to grant the American people the strength and courage they need at this time of sorrow and trial.

Below is the full text of Pope John Paul II’s prayers for the faithful and intentions on Sept. 12, 2001:

Brothers and sisters, in great dismay, before the horror of destructive violence, but strong in the faith that has always guided our fathers, we turn to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, salvation of his people, and with the confidence of children, pray that he will come to our aid in these days of mourning and innocent suffering.

Cantor: Dominum deprecemur: Te rogamus, audi nos (Let us pray to the Lord: We beseech thee, to hear us),

1. For the Churches of the East and the West, and in particular for the Church in the United States of America, so that, though humbled by loss and mourning, yet inspired by the Mother of the Lord, strong woman beside the cross of her Son, they may foster the will for reconciliation, peace and the building of the civilization of love.

2. For all those who bear the name of Christian, so that, in the midst of many persons who are tempted to hatred and doubt, they will be witnesses to the presence of God in history and the victory of Christ over death.

3. For the leaders of nations, so that they will not allow themselves to be guided by hatred and the spirit of retaliation, but may do everything possible to prevent new hatred and death, by bringing forth works of peace.

4. For those who are weeping in sorrow over the loss of relatives and friends, that in this hour of suffering they will not be overcome by sadness, despair and vengeance, but continue to have faith in the victory of good over evil, of life over death.

5. For those suffering and wounded by the terrorist acts, that they may return to stability and health and, appreciating the gift of life, may generously foster the will to contribute to the well-being of every human being.

6. For our brothers and sisters who met death in the folly of violence, that they find sure joy and life everlasting in the peace of the Lord, that their deaths may not be in vain, but become a leaven bringing forth a season of brotherhood and collaboration among peoples.

The Holy Father:

O Lord Jesus, remember our deceased and suffering brothers before your Father.
Remember us also, as we begin to pray with your words: Pater noster…

O almighty and merciful God,
You cannot be understood by one who sows discord; you cannot be accepted by one who loves violence. Look upon our painful human condition tried by cruel acts of terror and death; comfort your children and open our hearts to hope, so that our time may again know days of serenity and peace.
Through Christ, our Lord.
Amen.

This is a reposting from 2015. From ncregister.com

Bringing Christ to the sick and dying

NORWALK—Every day, Father Paul Sankar, chaplain at Norwalk Hospital, sees opportunities for Catholics to come back to their faith. He encounters people who haven’t been to church in a long time, and while they lie in their hospital beds, it seems that Jesus is tugging at their sleeves.

NORWALK HOSPITAL CHAPLAINS (l-r) Father Marcel Saint Jean and Father Paul Sankar

“They say hospital walls hear more prayers than church walls,” Father said. “We see a lot of transformation, especially of Catholics who have not been to church in years. They see us, they talk to us, they receive Communion, and tell us they will return to church.”

Father Paul and Father Marcel Saint Jean, both chaplains at the hospital, bring Christ to the infirm and dying on a daily basis.

“There isn’t a greater way to serve the Lord than when I am helping a vulnerable person,” said Father Marcel. “This is evident when I am present in a room with a patient. What makes it so authentic is knowing I am seeing the Lord in that patient. As a chaplain, there isn’t a time when I am with a patient and not hearing the voice of Jesus resounding in my heart and ears saying, ‘I was sick and you came to visit me.’”

Father Paul, who has been a full-time chaplain at Norwalk Hospital for 12 years, is in residence at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Weston. Father Marcel, a part-time chaplain there for four years, serves at St. Joseph Church in South Norwalk.

“Their ministry would not be possible without the Annual Catholic Appeal,” said Father William Platt, pastor of The Parish of St. Catherine of Siena and St. Agnes in Greenwich and Director of Hospital Chaplains for the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Father Platt, who was a hospital chaplain for 25 years, said, “Our chaplains continued to serve with courage through this pandemic. They have had to navigate a wide range of hospital and nursing home protocols in regard to visitation and the last rites. They have done so with skill and compassion. The Catholic Church is the only faith group that provides chaplains to public institutions free of charge. It is something in which we may take pride, thanks to the ACA.”

Father Paul recalls the case of a woman who was dying of cancer and her family asked him to anoint her. He offered to give her Communion, but she resisted because she hadn’t been to church in a long time.

“I told her she could make a simple confession and receive absolution because God knows everything,” he said. “She did, and the whole family was crying and thanked me. Two days later she died. It was a very touching experience for me.”

The hospital setting offers many opportunities for people to renew their faith and come back to the Church, he said. So many Catholics have no parish and many are getting older and no longer practice their faith.

“We hospital chaplains visit these patients, and they are very happy to see us,” he said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, they were restricted from visiting patients in their rooms and had to rely on phone calls and Zoom sessions to pray with patients who were isolated from their families. The Catholic nurses would often put them in touch with patients who needed prayer and encouragement.

Father Paul, who was a priest in India for 15 years before he came to the diocese, said he is appreciative to Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and the Annual Catholic Appeal.

Being a hospital chaplain is a special calling, he says, which requires a priest to be available whenever a call comes in. Training includes four units of a Clinical Pastoral Education program.

Recently, he received a call from a 75-year-old man concerned about his 70-year-old brother, who was a patient.

“He told me, ‘My brother was a good Catholic but stopped practicing his faith. Can you convince him to come back to the Church?’ He wanted a priest to give him the sacraments,” Father recalled. “He had no family except his brother. He grew up Catholic, but hadn’t practiced his faith in 30 years.”

Father went to see the man, who agreed to confession and then he received Communion. He was very happy and his brother was grateful to Father.

Father Paul’s work also brings him in contact with people of great faith, such as a 39-year-old woman with two children who was dying of cancer.

“Father, I am ready to die; pray for me if it is God’s will,” she said. She was able to deal with it because of her strong faith.

“I learn so much from the patients,” he said. “Sometimes they are like saints. Despite their sickness, they are happy. And those who know they are going to die want to be at peace with God.”

Father says the families of patients still call him, and occasionally he will meet someone in the supermarket who says, “Father do you remember me? When I was sick, you brought me Communion.’”

“It is a wonderful ministry to care for the sick, and to practice the Corporal Works of Mercy,” he says.

Father Marcel, who came from Haiti and was ordained in 1996 in the Diocese of Bridgeport, also served as chaplain in Bridgeport Hospital for four years in addition to several parish assignments.

“Chaplaincy to me is a call to compassion,” he said. “Through my visits and presence to the patients, I have learned patience, humility and kindness. No matter what they are going through, when I leave the room, I always hear these words: ‘Father, thank you for coming. You made my day. Please come back.’”

One of his patients was an elderly woman who was dying and haunted by guilt and hurt because she had been divorced and could not receive Communion. Father knew he had to put her at peace with Christ and help heal her troubled conscience.

“The only way to lift her up was to try to say what Jesus would say in a situation like that,” he recalled. “That day in her room she said, ‘Father, I feel I am being rejected by my own church.’”

“I told her, ‘You are a daughter of Abraham and a beloved daughter of God. Whatever happened in your past life, whatever made you feel guilty, God will not hold it against you.’”

Father Marcel heard her confession, and she told him it gave her the most peace and happiness she felt in a long time.

“I saw a luminous face, and her countenance changed after confession because she knew she was loved by God,” Father Marcel said.

From the time he was 3-yearsold, Marcel Saint Jean wanted to be a priest because of the example of his mother and the Redemptorist missionaries in his parish who built hospitals and schools and set a profound example for the people. He even grew his hair long to be like them, until his father cut it one night while he was sleeping.

As a boy, everyone in the neighborhood called him “Mon Père,” which is French for “My Father.” Although his mother nurtured his childhood vocation, his father directed him to study civil engineering, which he did for a time.

“But the Lord really spoke to my heart, and I remembered the example of those good priests,” he said. And he followed their example. In 2000, he led a campaign to build a school in Portau-Prince to give children an opportunity to succeed in life.

“All they need is a helping hand, and I am glad that I was that helping hand,” he said.

“Being a chaplain allows a priest to make Christ present in a tangible way to patients and their families through his compassion, his words of comfort and the sacraments,” he says. “It lets us follow the words of Jesus who said, ‘Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’”

By Joe Pisani

USCCB Labor Day 2020 Statement

“Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5)
Rebuilding a Dignified Post-COVID World

This Labor Day is a somber one. The COVID-19 pandemic goes on. Economic circumstances for so many families are stressful or even dire. Anxiety is high. Millions are out of work and wondering how they will pay the bills. And for workers deemed “essential” who continue to work outside the home, there is the heightened danger of exposure to the virus. Yet, as Pope Francis points out in a set of beautiful and challenging reflections on the pandemic, “In this wasteland, the Lord is committed to the regeneration of beauty and rebirth of hope:

‘Behold, I am doing something new: right now it is sprouting, don’t you see it?’ (Is 43:19). God never abandons his people, he is always close to them, especially when pain becomes more present.”1

As God declares to John in Revelation: “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5). God knows the challenges we face and the loss and grief we feel. The question to us is this: will we pray for and willingly participate in God’s work healing the hurt, loss, and injustice that this pandemic has caused and exposed? Will we offer all we can to the Lord to “make all things new?”

As public reports show, the virus has spread widely among essential workers such as meat packers, agricultural workers, healthcare providers, janitors, transit workers, emergency responders, and others. As a result, low wage workers, migrant workers, and workers of color, have borne a disproportionate share of the costs of the pandemic. Before the pandemic, a significant number of Americans were trapped in low wage jobs, with insecurity around food, housing, and health care, and with little opportunity for savings or advancing in their career. Those same workers have been hit particularly hard, and, it is devastating to say, many have paid with their life. As one New York subway worker put it, “We are not essential. We are sacrificial.”2

These words, and the reality behind them, should haunt us. As Pope Francis pointed out at the beginning of his pontificate, “today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.”3

What was wrong before the pandemic has been accelerated now. What may have been hidden to some is now revealed. Against this backdrop, the murder of George Floyd was like lighting a match in a gas-filled room. Pope Francis writes of the pandemic:

We are all frail, all equal, all precious. May we be profoundly shaken by what is happening all around us: the time has come to eliminate inequalities, to heal the injustice that is undermining the health of the entire human family!4

The Holy Father is now using his weekly general audience as an occasion for catechesis on Church teaching on inequalities that have been aggravated by the pandemic.5

The dignity of the human person, made in the image and likeness of God, is not at the center of our society in the way it should be. In some workplaces, this has meant an emphasis on profits over safety. That is unjust.

Consumerism and individualism fuel pressures on employers and policy makers that lead to these outcomes.

The good news is that injustice does not need to have the last word. The Lord came to free us from sin, including the sins by which we diminish workers and ourselves. “This is the favorable time of the Lord, who is asking us not to conform or content ourselves, let alone justify ourselves with substitutive or palliative logic, which prevents us from sustaining the impact and serious consequences of what we are living.”6

Beginning with our own decisions, we might ask when we buy goods from stores or online: do we know where they came from?

Do we know whether the people who made them were treated with dignity and respect? Was the workplace made safe during the pandemic, and did workers receive a just wage? If not, what can we do to remedy this?

Our government also plays an indispensable role. Policy makers must address the outstanding needs that people have around nutrition, housing, health care, jobs and income support, as I and my brother bishops have written repeatedly.7

People are hurting, and some of the relief measures of previous legislation are expiring. Congress and the White House should reach a deal that prioritizes protecting the poor and vulnerable. A sign of great hope springing up at the roots is the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), which celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year. Founded to do more than meet emergency needs, CCHD supports low-income-led efforts to address poverty, create good jobs and be a force for transformation in families and communities. Over its history, CCHD has distributed over 8,000 grants worth more than 400 million dollars to help create grassroots change. Pope Francis has made the work of the popular movements that CCHD supports a key theme in his pontificate. In April, he again wrote to the leaders of these groups in light of the pandemic, noting how extraordinarily important these movements are at this very moment.8

Unions and workers’ associations have a central role to play as well.

In response to COVID-19, CCHD’s community organizations have quickly amplified their efforts to address its devastating impacts. As one example, workers in meat processing plants are faced with dangerous working conditions as companies fail to provide basic protections from COVID-19 or do not make sufficient workplace modifications to reduce risk of exposure to the virus. The CCHD-supported Rural Community Workers Alliance has helped organize workers in rural Missouri, pressuring employers to take these concerns seriously and advancing the dignity of workers.9 These groups, as well as labor unions and other worker associations, make an invaluable contribution to the safety and wellbeing of workers.

In order to protect the dignity of work and the rights of workers, we are each called to practice solidarity with those in harm’s way. In addition, we can offer charitable assistance to all those who have become unemployed during this time by donating to local food banks and Catholic Charities agencies. Catholic Charities helped 13 million people last year, and the demand has increased 30-50% so far during the pandemic and is anticipated to increase. Catholic hospitals are also strained as doctors, nurses, and staff have also been working relentlessly, and have in many instances done so at a loss of significant resources.

Pope Francis is fond of citing the 1964 dogmatic constitution, Lumen Gentium, which reminded us that “no one can save themselves alone.”10 This is true in this life and the next. The fruits of individualism are clear in the disparities brought to light by this crisis. Through our work of solidarity, let us be a counter-witness to individualism. “Let us not think only of our interests, our vested interests. Let us welcome this time of trial as an opportunity to prepare for our collective future, a future for all without discarding anyone.”11 Let us pray for the grace to participate in God’s work in healing what is so deeply wounded in our society. Let our response to the Psalm at Mass this Labor Day echo in deed and truth: “Lead me in your justice, Lord” (Ps 5:9).

Most Reverend Paul S. Coakley
Archbishop of Oklahoma City
Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
September 7, 2020

Original statement with footnotes.

If you see something, say something

BRIDGEPORT–In his weekly online Mass celebrated from the Catholic Center chapel Bishop Frank j. Caggiano said the need to speak the truth may often be seen as judgmental in our society, but if done in love, it can help lead others closer to God.

“In a politically correct world, actions cannot be judged… In the world of faith we give testimony to the truth so that our actions can lead us to heaven,” said the bishop in his Mass for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time.

The bishop said we have an obligation to speak the truth to those whose behavior may be sinful, self-destructive, and harming others.

“It’s a lesson the world does not understand, particularly in our contemporary society. Many a person in our midst can’t make the distinction that if I disapprove of what you do, I disapprove of you,” he said, adding that people mistakenly think, “I do not care for you, welcome you, do not love you.”

However “Love demands I speak the truth because I love you and wish to do what is good for you,” he said.

Reflecting on the Gospel of Matthew 18: 15-20, 5 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother,” the bishop said that confronting a person is not rejecting them but trying to save them from behavior that separates them from the fullness of God’s love.

He said that in the second reading of the day (Romans 13:8-10) St. Paul reminds us that we are responsible for loving one another as we walk through the journey of life together.

“Because I wish the good for you, we must always in mercy correct one another when we have made choices that are destructive and sinful.”

In the early Church, followers set up a system of “fraternal correction” so that a person could be guided in love to step aside from actions that can hurt others and ultimately offend God, he said.

“It was created to love them, not to condemn them or judge them but to lead them to Christ,” yet we are often reluctant and “hesitate in our heart of hearts” to say anything.

“How often in our own lives, particularly among those we love, do we not challenge their actions because we do not wish to offend them or we fear they will walk away,” he said. “

The bishop said the gospel reminds us that love demands we speak the truth to those around us so they may find the way to walk toward their promise and destiny in Jesus Christ.

The bishop said that something said to him by one of his Jesuit teachers at Regis High School in Brooklyn has stayed with him his entire life.

“God will never love your sins, but will always love you,” his teacher said.

The bishop said the message is simple and profound. “God being love himself has irrevocably covenanted himself with us. He will always love us who are his temple. He will never walk away from you and I even when our sin offends His majesty and disobeys His will.”

He concluded his homily by noting that when he was serving as pastor at St. Dominic Parish in the Diocese of Brooklyn at the time of the 9/11 attacks, almost overnight a saying immediately came into use and to this day it is written on every subway car in New York City.

“If you see something, say something.”

“The challenge to think about this week is, when we see something in the life of someone we love that is destructive, sinful or leading them into harm, for the sake of love, for the sake of Jesus Christ our savior, are we willing to say something?”

Following Mass the bishop thanked all those who are participating in the online Rosary and the weekly “Conversation about Race,” to root out the sin of racism in the diocese.

Conversations about Race: The webinar series, features talks by teachers and pastoral ministers, began on July 30 will run through September 3. The talks are live-streamed at 1 pm each Thursday and then rebroadcast at 7 pm each evening, with a question and answer sessions moderated by a member of the diocesan ad hoc committee against racism. (To view a recording of previous webinars, visit this page and click “previous webinars: https://formationreimagined.org/events-home/.)

Bishop’s Online Mass: The Bishop’s Sunday Mass is released online every Sunday morning at 8 a.m. and available for replay throughout the day. To view the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, recorded and published weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.

Schools re-open across the diocese

BRIDGEPORT—Students began returning to Catholic schools throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport this week for in-person classes and the start of a new school year.

Even through their tiny masks you could see the excitement on the faces of the elementary school children who were happy to see their teachers and friends once again after months of lockdown as a result of the pandemic.

Many of the twenty-five diocesan elementary and high school schools have different starting dates and some have staggered openings to better acclimate students to the safe return to class, but most schools will be filled with students and fully operational by the end of next week.

Among the first to return to school were the students of Holy Trinity Catholic Academy in Huntington and Notre Dame High School in Fairfield.

In Danbury, where a recent uptick in the virus delayed school openings, students are expected to return to class next week along with students enrolled in St. Aloysius of New Canaan, St James in Stratford, and St. Mary, Bethel.

The re-opening was made possible by months of planning and preparation for the return to in-person classes throughout the diocese, said Dr. Steven Cheeseman, superintendent of schools.

Dr. Cheeseman asked for prayers for all of the students, faculty and school communities in the coming weeks. “This will be a year like no other, but we can face it together and make the best of it.”

Just prior to the reopening, Dr. Cheeseman addressed parents, students and the school communities in a video that provided an overview of the extraordinary steps taken for a safe and measured re-opening during the pandemic.

Photos by Amy Griffin

“I hope you are all excited to finally get new school year underway and God willing this will be the first step in our return to a sense of normalcy,” he said from his office at the Catholic Center.

Over the next few weeks Dr. Cheeseman will complete his visits to every school to ensure compliance, to share best practices and to run through every possible scenario related to the re-opening and ongoing challenges.

Dr. Cheeseman said that the main concern shared by members of his leadership team and administrators faculty and parents throughout the system has been “ the safe return of over 6,500 students to our diocesan schools.”

While the schools have moved ahead with in-person classes, the diocese has also provided distance learning options for families who prefer to keep children at home through its online academy. At present, more than 150 students are enrolled in the academy: (www.OnlineCatholicAcademy.org)

Dr. Cheeseman said the schools are also prepared to move ahead with hybrid plans if that becomes necessary as a result of a spike of the virus in a given school.

Any future decisions to close a school or to make a transition to a hybrid model and full distance learning will be made on an individual school basis .

“The decision will be made in consultation between the school administration, the Office of the Superintendent in consultation with the bishop, and the Health Department from the township within which the school is located,” he said.

Factors in the decision if has to be made will be based on state guidelines and include the number of confirmed cases in the specific school and the ability of the school to mitigate risk of virus spread, he said.

Catholic schools have been able to move forward with in-person classes while many public systems can’t because they have been able to meet very strict protocols developed in compliance with CDC and state guidelines for reopening schools, Dr. Cheeseman said.

“While all educators agree that students should be back in school to ensure learning and to provide appropriate socialization opportunities, not all public schools are able to meet the State and CDC requirements to bring students back full time. In most cases it has to do with the size of the school population, the space available and the ability to schedule teachers.

“Thankfully we do not face the same issues. The smaller size of our school populations and the mission driven zeal of our teachers and administrators have allowed us to be flexible in our planning, to use space and instructional time creatively and to create school environments that are healthy, safe and nurturing.”

Put simply, we are able to open because we can meet, and in many cases exceed, the requirements and guidelines of the CDC and the State of Connecticut.

As a result of the ability to provide in-person classes, Dr. Cheeseman said that many of the schools have seen an increase in enrollment and a growing number of inquiries from public school parents.

While Dr. Cheeseman is confident that the schools can meet and even exceed government safety requirements, he says that as a parent as well as a superintendent and a parent, he approaches the school year with a sense of caution even as he is excited about the return to the classroom.

Although the intense and comprehensive planning by the diocese has become a model for other school systems, Dr. Cheeseman said he still loses sleep at night because of uncertainty about the pandemic.

“No matter what we do, we can’t answer every question because we don’t know what the future holds.”

However, he feels the schools are ready after “a tremendous amount of preparation and planning and the amazing work of principals” to implement the safety protocols.

(The superintendent’s office has created a COVID-19 hotline (203.209-2894) and email address (schools@diobpt.org) to answer any questions that parents have. The schools office has also released a list of Frequently Asked Questions (download here) that offer detailed information on a variety of topics. The full re-opening plan for diocesan elementary and high schools is available online: www.dioceseofbridgeportcatholicschools.com/coronavirus-reopening-plan.)

Fr. Frank Winn, 79

BRIDGEPORT–The Reverend Frank A. Winn, who became a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport after a successful career in advertising, died in Providence, Rhode Island, August 31 after a long illness.

“Fr. Winn will be affectionately remembered by many across the diocese, particularly at St. Paul Parish in Greenwich, for his humble and joyful service. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Fr. Winn and for the consolation of his family,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.

He was 79. Born in Providence, son of Joseph R. and Margaret M. (McDonell) Winn, Father Winn grew up in North Scituate, R.I., and attended LaSalle Academy in Providence and Scituate Junior-Senior High, graduating in 1958. He went on to earn an undergraduate degree in English and religious studies at Fordham University.

Following a long career as an advertising executive in Manhattan, Father Winn heeded a spiritual calling that would keep him active in the Catholic Church for the next 25 years. After receiving a master’s degree in theology from the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, N.Y., in 1992, he completed a one-year residency program in Hospital Chaplaincy at Cabrini Hospital in New York and at Bridgeport Hospital, then serving in both cities providing pastoral care. After chaplaincy service,

Father Winn studied for the priesthood at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass., a spiritual community dedicated to educating older seminarians.

He was ordained to the priesthood by the Most Reverend Edward M. Egan at St. Augustine Cathedral, Bridgeport on May 23, 1998.

Following ordination, Father Winn was appointed parochial vicar at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Ridgefield, where he said his first Mass on Sunday, May 24, 1998. He later served at St. James Parish in Stratford and went on to serve as parochial vicar of Assumption Parish in Fairfield.

In 2005, Bishop William E. Lori appointed Father Winn as pastor of St. Paul Church in the Glenville section of Greenwich where he served until his retirement in 2015.
Father Winn also served as Territorial Vicar for Vicariate 1 (Greenwich, Stamford and Darien) from 2006 through 2009.

In announcing his retirement due to ill health, Father Winn reflected on his long and joyous service at St Paul, telling his beloved parishioners, “Many of you know the priesthood was a second career vocation for me, and these last 11 years here at St. Paul have truly been the best years of my life. This has been my home and all of you have been my extended family – it was a good match; God has been good to me.”

Father Winn is survived by a sister, Marilyn Winn Seymour and her husband, David, of North Kingston, R.I; a brother, Joseph R. Winn Jr., and his partner, Elizabeth A. Laposata, MD, of Providence; nieces Jennifer Hodge and husband William, and Jane Dickinson and husband Blake; four grand nieces; and a grand nephew.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial and Fr. Thomas Lynch will deliver the homily on Saturday, September 5, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. in St. Paul Church, 84 Sherwood Ave., Greenwich, CT. Burial in St. Mary’s Cemetery will be private. Relatives & friends are invited and may call at the church on Saturday from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. prior to the Mass. Due to COVID restrictions and limited seating and masks and social distancing are required.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the MS Society of Rhode Island in memory of John E. Seymour, Father Winn’s nephew and godchild.
Arrangements have been entrusted to THE CRANSTON-MURPHY FUNERAL HOME of WICKFORD. For online messages of condolence, kindly visit www.CranstonMurphy.com

Making Altar Breads

While the pandemic has had an impact on every aspect of parish life, it has also led to a backlog of altar breads that are made by the Poor Clares in the Franciscan Monastery of St. Clare, which is situated on 17 acres of land in Langhorne in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. This monastery was dedicated in 1977, and is home to 11 Sisters.

In this beautiful video the Sisters talk about the privilege of baking the altar breads that become the Body of Christ at Mass. Prior to the pandemic they were baking 15,000 altar breads a day and more than 3 million a year.

The Poor Clares are a contemplative community and part of the Franciscan family. The lives of the Siters are dedicated to praying for our Church and our world. We invite you to explore our website and get to know us. We are one of the few monasteries that still bake altar breads. We have several stoves; Raphael, Maddalena, Vincent & Benny. Breads baked on Raphael and Maddalena are a standard thickness. Vincent and Benny produce “thin” breads which are used by hospitals, nursing homes and those taking communion to the sick.

catholicnews.com

Suffering is Essential to Discipleship

BRIDGEPORT—“Suffering is essential to discipleship,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in his homily during Mass for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time.

“All discipleship is the emptying of ourselves so we can be filled with God’s love” rather than the prison of our own desires, he said.

In his weekly online Mass celebrated in the Catholic Center chapel, the bishop said suffering is not a good thing in itself, but it is an inevitable part of life and of the human condition.

“It comes through the frailty of time, the sins we commit, and the damage caused by others who sin against us and those around us.”

Suffering reminds us that “our rightful place is not at the center of our own life,” he said.

Rather, we must learn “to be His servant, to be cleaned from sin and to suffer well for the sake of love, for the sake of serving God in every moment of our life.”

The bishop said he often meditates on Matthew 16:21-27, “24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

“My friends perhaps the easiest way to describe the philosophy (of the parable) is to put it this way, it’s either my way or no way.”

“My father believed that very much,” said the Bishop, recalling that as a teenager he often clashed with his father and resisted his wisdom because he did not want to follow his orders.

“When I was a teen and thought I was invincible and immortal and knew all things, and it was a recipe for fighting constantly.”

The bishop said looking back now he realizes that he missed his father’s deeper motivation to protect him and prepare him for suffering in his own life.

The bishop said his father was formed by the hardships of the life he lived in Italy as a young man, and “the suffering and challenges he lived in this country as an immigrant.”

Attempting to mold gospel values in others and in ourselves is not easily done, but it is the essential challenge of faith, the bishop said.

“It requires dying to one’s self, dying to what we may want to do– a lesson it took me a long time to learn, and some days I’m still learning it,” the bishop said, adding that only by putting obedience to God at the center of our lives are we set free.

“We can do it our way or God’s way. We must trust his love and that he will never abandon us. Even if sometimes he won’t give us answers to the questions we ask, he is walking quietly by our side. He only asks that we put our hand in his and allow him to take the lead.”

“Suffering is never easy, but it is essential to discipleship because in the end, it is not my will, but His will, not my way, but His way. How grateful I am to my father for helping me to understand that many years ago when I began the journey of my own life.”

The bishop said that the journey for Christ’s disciples is a process of learning that “doing things God’s way is not chaining us, it’s setting us free,” and that in addition to being re-created in Christ by our baptism, we are also freed by his death and resurrection.

Before giving the final blessing and leading the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, the bishop invited all to join in the “Conversation on Race,” and the online weekly recitation of the Rosary. He noted that more than 100 people form the core of the online Rosary family, which he hopes will continue to grow because “we need prayer to guide us in this time of uncertainty and challenge.”

Conversations about Race: The webinar series, features talks by teachers and pastoral ministers, began on July 30 will run through September 3. The talks are live-streamed at 1 pm each Thursday and then rebroadcast at 7 pm each evening, with a question and answer sessions moderated by a member of the diocesan ad hoc committee against racism. (To view a recording of previous webinars, visit this page and click “previous webinars: https://formationreimagined.org/events-home/.)

Bishop’s Online Mass: The Bishop’s Sunday Mass is released online every Sunday morning at 8 a.m. and available for replay throughout the day. To view the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, recorded and published weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.

Schools Re-opening: ‘First Step in a Return to Normalcy’

BRIDGEPORT—As thousands of Catholic elementary and high school students across the diocese prepare to return to in-person classes in early September, Dr. Steven Cheeseman, Superintendent of Schools, has issued a new video providing an overview of the extraordinary steps taken for a safe and measured re-opening during the pandemic.

‘I hope you are all excited to finally get new school year underway, and God willing this will be the first step in our return to a sense of normalcy,” he said from his office at the Catholic Center.

Dr. Cheeseman said that the main concern shared by members of his leadership team and administrators faculty and parents throughout the system “is the safe return of over 6,500 students to our diocesan schools.”

After months of planning and preparation throughout the school system, Dr. Cheeseman said the schools are ready to move ahead with in-person classes but also have distance learning options and are prepared for hybrid plans if that become necessary.

The full re-opening plan for diocesan elementary and high schools is available online: https://www.dioceseofbridgeportcatholicschools.com/coronavirus-reopening-plan/

As both a superintendent and a parent, Dr. Cheeseman said he approaches the school year with a sense of uneasiness even as he is looks forward to the opening of classes.

Although the intense and comprehensive planning by the diocese has become a model for other school systems, Dr. Cheeseman said he still loses sleep at night because of uncertainty about the pandemic.

“No matter what we do, we can’t be perfect. We can’t answer every question because we don’t know what the future holds.”

However, he feels the schools are ready after “a tremendous amount of preparation and planning and the amazing work of principals” to implement the safety protocols.

In the past couple of weeks Dr. Cheeseman has visited every school to ensure compliance, to share best practices and to run through every possible scenario” related to the re-opening and ongoing challenges.

Dr. Cheeseman asked for prayers for all of the students, faculty and school communities in the coming weeks. “This will be a year like no other, but we can face it together and make the best of it.”

The superintendent’s office has created a Covid-19 hotline and email address to answer any questions that parents have. The schools office has also released a list of Frequently Asked Questions (English | Español) that offer detailed information on a variety of topics.