Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

Articles By: John Grosso

Simple acts of kindness can revive the spirit and rekindle hope

Bishop No Comments

A few days ago, Debbie, my assistant, and I were puzzled with the arrival of a package to my office that listed no sender. Within it was an Advent wreath that had electrically powered candles- something that I had never seen before. After some thought, Debbie suggested that perhaps someone in the Catholic Center ordered it and it was sent to my office by mistake. The explanation seemed logical so I moved on to my other work.

Later that evening, I began preparations for the recording of my next podcast. Suddenly I understood the mystery of the wreath. For in my last podcast, I made mention of an incident a few years ago when I accidentally left the candles of my Advent wreath lit and only be sheer grace, having forgotten my keys, returned to my room to discover the danger. Since then, I keep my Advent wreath unlit- until the arrival of the electric wreath that was sitting in my office! A kind and generous person who listened to my podcast sent me the electric wreath, so that I could once again pray with the light of its candles in safety!

I cannot describe how moved I was when I realized this beautiful act of generosity and kindness given to me. In the face of all the challenges that have become a daily part of leadership, to know that there are persons who care enough to reach out in simple and anonymous ways, to provide support and encouragement, was one of the greatest spiritual gifts I have received in a long time. It powerfully reminded me that simple acts of kindness can revive the spirit and rekindle hope.

To whomever sent me the Advent wreath, I am praying for you, your family and your intentions each day that I light . Thank you for your kindness, generosity and support.

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos.

Pope, in new book, talks about personal ‘lockdowns’

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While the coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions have interrupted people’s lives and brought suffering on a global scale, every individual — including the pope — has or will experience traumatic interruptions in their lives, Pope Francis said in a new book.

“Illness, the failure of a marriage or a business, some great disappointment or betrayal,” he said, are moments that “generate a tension, a crisis that reveals what is in our hearts.”

In “Let Us Dream: The Path to A Better Future,” a book written with author Austen Ivereigh, Pope Francis said he had experienced three “COVID moments” in his lifetime: lung problems that threatened his life when he was 21; his “displacement” in Germany in 1986 for studies; and when he was sent away to Cordoba, Argentina, for almost two years in the early 1990s.

“Let Us Dream” will be published Dec. 1 by Simon & Schuster. The section on what the pope called his “personal COVIDs” was excerpted in Italian newspapers Nov. 23.

In those major moments of challenge and pain, Pope Francis wrote, “what I learned was that you suffer a lot, but if you allow it to change you, you come out better. But if you dig in, you come out worse.”

Writing about his diseased lung, the pope said, “I remember the date: Aug. 13, 1957. I got taken to hospital by a (seminary) prefect who realized mine was not the kind of flu you treat with aspirin. Straightaway they took a liter and a half of water out of the lung, and I remained there fighting for my life.”

He was in his second year at the diocesan seminary and it was his “first experience of limit, of pain and loneliness,” he said. “It changed the way I saw life.”

“For months, I didn’t know who I was and whether I would live or die. The doctors had no idea whether I’d make it either,” the pope wrote. “I remember hugging my mother and saying: ‘Just tell me if I’m going to die.”

After three months in the hospital, “they operated to take out the upper right lobe of one of the lungs,” he said. “I have some sense of how people with coronavirus feel as they struggle to breathe on ventilators.”

One of the nurses, “Sister Cornelia Caraglio, saved my life” by doubling his antibiotics, he said. “Because of her regular contact with sick people, she understood better than the doctor what they needed, and she had the courage to act on her knowledge.”

Pope Francis said he also learned the meaning of “cheap consolations.”

“People came in to tell me I was going to be fine, how with all that pain I’d never have to suffer again — really dumb things, empty words,” he said.

Instead, he learned from a nun who had prepared him for his first Communion and would come and hold his hand, how important it was to sit with people, touch them and keep words to a minimum.

The time in the hospital recovering, he said, gave him the time and space he needed to “rethink my vocation” and explore his longing to enter a religious order rather than the diocesan priesthood. It was then that he decided to join the Jesuits.

This article originally appeared in Catholic News Service.

Dream big, pope tells young people

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Young people today should not waste their lives dreaming of obtaining trivial things that provide only a fleeting moment of joy but aspire to the greatness God wants for them, Pope Francis said.

Celebrating Mass on the feast of Christ the King Nov. 22, the pope told young people that God “does not want us to narrow our horizons or to remain parked on the roadside of life,” but instead he “wants us to race boldly and joyfully toward lofty goals.”

“We were not created to dream about vacations or the weekend, but to make God’s dreams come true in this world,” he said. “God made us capable of dreaming, so that we could embrace the beauty of life.”

At the end of the Mass, young people from Panama, the host country of World Youth Day 2019, handed over the World Youth Day cross to young people from Lisbon, Portugal, where the next international gathering is expected to take place in August 2023.

The handoff originally was scheduled for April 5, Palm Sunday, but was postponed because of the lockdowns and travel bans in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

In his homily, the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading from St. Matthew, in which Jesus tells his disciples that the good done to the least ones are done to him.

Pope Francis said that works of mercy such as feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger and visiting the sick or imprisoned are Jesus’ “‘gift list’ for the eternal wedding feast he will share with us in heaven.”

This reminder, he said, is especially for young people as “you strive to realize your dreams in life.”

This article originally appeared in Catholic News Service.

Helping family farms save water during the drought

There’s a catch-22 happening for thousands of family farms in Honduras who grow coffee as their way to earn a living, and it’s this: growing and processing coffee takes a lot of water, but Honduras has been in a drought for more than five years now. The very thing most needed to earn a living is also the very thing in short supply. Catholic Relief Services has been working with thousands of coffee farmers in Central America to use improved techniques that save them a lot of water. It’s working. Using these techniques, Wilfredo Sanchez, the farmer in this photo, reduced the water he uses to produce coffee by 75 percent. When water is already in short supply, saving that much water really makes a difference.

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos.

Water is Life, but it is also Time

Bishop No Comments

My friends, people say “water is life,” and that’s true…but water is also time. Many children and women all around the world spend hours every day just getting water because there’s no access to clean water at home.

A simple water pump or water tank can change all of that. 13-year-old Elisa Niyobyose, pictured in this photo, knows this first hand. Catholic Relief Services worked with members of her community in Rwanda to build a water tank. She said, “I used to spend at least one hour to collect water from the neighboring village. Now it takes me about 15 minutes because this tank is in the center of our village.” Thanks to the water tank, more time for children like Elisa often means more opportunity to do other important things, like her studies. What a difference a simple thing like a water tank can make.

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos.

CRS has a plan for how Catholics can take a stand

For decades, Catholic Relief Services CRS) has been one of the world’s leading humanitarian aid agencies, serving and supporting vulnerable populations in 114 countries. While engagement with U.S. Catholics has always been a part of CRS programming—with well-known projects such as the annual CRS Rice Bowl Lenten program and other education and fundraising initiatives—a new strategy focused on advocacy and action aims to include U.S. Catholics in an ongoing and sustainable way.

The strategy, which involves creating local CRS chapters across the United States, began in 2019 to bring together “communities of Catholics and other people of goodwill with an interest in supporting the mission of CRS through measurable steps of advocacy and fundraising,” says Bill O’Keefe, executive vice president for mission, mobilization, and advocacy at CRS. The new methodology of building and supporting chapters in parishes, high schools, and universities allows participants to join CRS’ work while they establish ties within their local communities and with their local, state, and national representatives, which is a key component to the project’s success.

After one year and the formation of more than 40 chapters (with almost another 40 in development), O’Keefe sat down with the U.S. Catholic editors to talk about why it’s important for Catholics to get involved in advocacy efforts and how they can effectively influence policy decisions that are important to people of faith.

What are Catholic Relief Service chapters?

Catholic Relief Service (CRS) chapters are local communities of people who support CRS’ mission through measurable steps of advocacy and fundraising. The formation of the chapters is part of a strategy that CRS has crafted in response to the overwhelming set of problems we see around the world.

We’re not a social movement. We’re part of an institution—the Catholic Church. We asked, “What is an authentic way for us—given the teaching of the church, the structure of the church, and where we fit into it—to begin to do this?”

There’s a four-month cycle for forming new chapters. CRS provides training, materials, fellowship, prayer resources, and action items. Some of the advocacy tools that we provide include how to write an effective letter to the editor that gets printed, how to get and have a successful meeting with your member of Congress, and how to organize a meeting of your chapter in a way that is successful and engaging.

At our current rate of growth, by 2030 we’ll have thousands of chapters with tens of thousands of members who are mobilized to take concrete action. We’re building a movement of people in the United States who are engaged in changing the root causes of poverty and injustice that CRS sees every day in the countries where we operate.

How does the work of CRS chapters fit into the greater Catholic call to work for justice?

We’ve organized our work around campaigns focused on major issues of justice and human dignity. We have two main campaigns right now—Lead the Way on Hunger and Lead the Way on Migration—that address a host of problems related to those two major issues. For example, we’re engaging people in addressing how our government can do more about the root causes of migration, which we have a clear perspective on because of CRS’ work in Latin America. We know what the root causes are and what our government could and should be doing about them. How do we protect people from violence and poverty in their home countries? How do we help them to be able to stay where they are and live with dignity and hope of opportunity for their families? These are significant justice questions.

What are some of CRS chapters’ successes?

One of the pieces of legislation that has been part of our hunger efforts is the Global Child Thrive Act. It’s a bill in Congress that would require the U.S. government to integrate best practices from CRS programming around the world in parenting, family support, nutrition, and school readiness so that children are set up for success for the rest of their lives. It’s been amazing how many members of Congress have agreed to sponsor the bill as a result of a meeting with a local CRS chapter.

The Global Child Thrive Act is still working its way through the legislative process, so we don’t know yet what the ultimate result will be. It has moved to the House of Representatives and has been marked up by the committee. Our chapter members were huge supporters to committee members to pass that bill out of committee. In both the House and Senate among both Democrats and Republicans, chapters have brought many sponsors and cosponsors for the bill. It’s been exciting to see.

How do you decide which issues the chapters will engage?

Everything we do connects to Catholic teaching, but something such as water-smart agriculture—a farming practice that balances the cost of production, increasing yields, and environmental sustainability—doesn’t evoke one’s faith at face value the same way hunger does. We need something at that level.

We look for serious underlying issues that can include a number of different actions. We want something where we can get people to be experts and advocates over time. So we have to pick something that can include several different actions that all connect with the goal, but through which we can sustain commitment and energy.

Everything we do at CRS comes from our experience of our programming around the world so that we have something credible to talk about, people who can represent it, experience from the local church, and partners to bring to bear. That’s important.

All the issues we advocate on, our policy frameworks, everything we’re doing is within the context of what the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is advocating.

What happens during a chapter meeting?

We first conduct a four-part formation and training process for each beginning chapter and chapter leader to give them the basic idea and tools. Then we have a monthly national chapter call with a speaker who talks about the issue we’re working on at the time. This could be a well-known expert and academic, a bishop, a CRS partner from around the world, or anyone who can go deeper into the meaning of the particular issue.

Next we discuss what’s working and what’s not working. People share success stories, and CRS provides some content about best practices and recommendations. A meeting then finishes with action steps for the next month.

The chapters meet on their own between national calls. They get a monthly action sheet that has specific actions and tools to take those actions. CRS also provides materials for prayer reflection and chapter building.

We’ve made a lot of progress in measuring and evaluating success in advocacy. By tracking the phone calls and meetings that chapter members have with members of Congress, we can measure the actions people take. Then we can say with some degree of confidence, “We are making a difference. This movement is having an impact.”

People are incredibly busy. We want to make sure that if we ask for their precious time and commitment, we can say that it’s worth it. We want to be able to demonstrate to our board, participants, the people we serve, and our partners around the world that we are making a difference.

What is the goal?

The goal is to tap into people’s desires and calling to be missionary disciples, to take the gospel and put it into action through their faith lives. How we organize, communicate with, and engage our chapters is all consistent with that and with the church’s calling for us to live out our faith in concrete and actionable ways.

In addition to feelings of success, people want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. This was an interesting lesson of the COVID-19 crisis. When everything first shut down, we had discussions about whether we should pause the program. Everybody was anxious. Everybody was dealing with a plethora of problems. We decided to move forward under the hypothesis that people, particularly at this time, want to step outside of themselves and feel something beyond helplessness, hopelessness, and fear.

Why did CRS decide to do this now?

We developed a new agency strategy and set five goals with indicators of the kind of impact that we want to have: (1) all people live in just and peaceful societies; (2) all people survive and thrive in the face of disasters; (3) all people achieve dignified and resilient livelihoods in flourishing landscapes; (4) all children reach their full health and development potential in safe and nourishing families; and (5) all youth are empowered to thrive. After doing this, it was clear that we cannot do this on our own. We need to get the U.S. government to do more and change some of the ways it operates, because it impacts the kinds of problems
CRS addresses around the world. The only way to get our government to take those kinds of steps is if faithful people are willing to take a stand.

How is this different from the way CRS has engaged U.S. Catholics in the past?

We’ve always had groups of supporters at parishes or schools, but they’ve been pretty independent. Now we’re knitting them together into one strategy that’s pointed in one direction with one set of actions.

For example, there is an amazing group of Catholic activists in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. We brought together a number of our groups from different audiences as part of an advocacy committee, and together they’ve made some huge collective changes they could not have made on their own.

In New York we did statewide virtual advocacy with college students, parish men’s clubs, CRS Rice Bowl groups, and CRS chapters. Everyone mobilized the same actions at the same time on the same day. That’s really powerful: It helps to break down silos within the communities of the church and energize parish life. We’ve heard from pastors and parishioners that it’s making a real difference in those communities.

Are other Catholic groups doing similar work?

Many Catholic groups are trying to figure out how to engage more people through social ministry. What’s different about our methodology is we’re designing it to scale. We have a limited number of staff. Dioceses have a limited amount of resources, and lack of resources can restrain growth. We’re designing a system that doesn’t depend on having an expanded number of staff in order to expand.

Folks in dioceses are critical for our strategy. They’re significant partners who are important for building support, connecting the global mission of the church with the local activities of the diocese, and identifying leaders. But if everything depends on them, it
can go only so far. We’re hoping that CRS chapters will enable the capacity that’s already there to have more impact. That’s the big challenge.

Are Catholics called to political advocacy?

The church calls us as members of a society to have a responsibility to the more vulnerable members of that society. We can’t just sit by without taking some sort of action. Everyone has to figure out what the right action is for them in their context and in their conscience. What moves them?

We hope individuals will join chapters, but you don’t have to be a chapter member to advocate for justice. Our campaigns are broader than chapter work. The chapter members are the best trained and most committed. They take the most important actions. But anybody can take action to advocate to our government about issues related to refugees and migration and hunger. CRS provides tools to do that through our campaigns and invites everyone to get involved. Get your non-Catholic friends to help too, because these problems are bigger than we are.

What are some struggles for Catholics who are involved in advocacy, especially those who are living their faith in this way for the first time?

It might seem political at first. We’re not asking people to get involved in politics, and we’re certainly not asking them to get involved in the polarized, partisan debates that are going on in our country. We are asking them as citizens—and the church asks them as citizens—to get involved as members of a democracy in expressing their views so that society can be better aligned with the teaching of the church and the consciences of Catholics.

Another thing people grapple with is anxiety about talking with a member of Congress. They think members of Congress don’t have time or aren’t interested in what they have to say. They’re nervous, but if we prepare them well—and that’s what our methodology is designed to do—every single time after they have their first meeting they say, “That was great!”

I do a lot of lobbying on Capitol Hill, as do others at CRS. Although members of Congress are interested in what we have to say, they’re a lot more interested in what a Catholic in their district has to say.

Congress members recognize that CRS is a great organization with a lot of experience. But it’s much more impactful when actual people who vote show up and say, “I support the Global Child Thrive Act. I have children. I know firsthand what it takes to prepare kids to be ready for school. I want children in Kenya to have the same opportunities as my child. That’s what my faith calls me to do and that’s what I’m asking you to do.” Direct constituent engagement is what makes the difference.

What have you learned in the first year with CRS chapters?

Catholics really do care. They want to be asked to take action. They’re willing to take action. They want to live their faith.

This article originally appeared in US Catholic Magazine and Online.

Mater Salvatoris School to move to former Trinity Campus

 
 
 
Mater Salvatoris issued the following press release regarding the sale and long-term land lease of Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford:

Stamford, Conn. (Nov. 11, 2020)—The Diocese of Bridgeport and Sisters of the Company of the Savior have announced a sale of Trinity Catholic High School and a long-term land lease of the campus of the former High School in Stamford as the permanent location for Mater Salvatoris College Preparatory School.

“With great joy, we move forward with this agreement, which will lead to the expansion of our presence in Stamford and a permanent location for the Mater Salvatoris College Preparatory School. The Sisters of the Company of the Savior are deeply grateful to the Diocese of Bridgeport and the ongoing support of Bishop Frank Caggiano to make this possible,” said the Order’s Mother General, Sister Mercedez Díez de Angulo.

The move to the former Trinity Catholic High School campus will allow the Sisters to accomplish their project of a Pre-K through Grade 12 School, and enable the Sisters to gradually open a high-school division.

In addition, driven by the need to serve the family as a whole, and to meet the needs in Stamford, the Sisters of the Company of the Savior are pleased to announce the opening of a boys’ division at Mater Salvatoris. Boys and girls develop and learn differently, and in order to meet their individual needs, the school will introduce a model of single-sex classrooms in a co-ed campus, starting in first grade, as enrollment makes it feasible.

Plans for the 2021-2022 school year call for the school to enroll girls from PreK-3 through fifth grade, and boys from PreK-3 through first grade. The school will add one grade level each year through Grade 12.

Bishop Frank J Caggiano said that consistent with his commitment to find the best use for the Trinity Catholic campus, the Sisters’ plan to continue the tradition of catholic education in Stamford was a major factor in his decision to move ahead with the agreement. After Trinity Catholic closed, there was a great deal of interest on the part of commercial and other interests to acquire the property.

“Our goal with regard to the future of the Trinity Catholic campus has been the preservation of Catholic education in the greater Stamford community. Many families have sacrificed and contributed to Trinity Catholic over the years, and we believe this is the best way to honor their commitment and lasting legacy while giving parents a new option for Catholic education.”

The initial proceeds from the agreement will be used to cover a portion of the significant debt incurred from the renovation and operational deficits of the former Trinity Catholic High School over the decade before it closed. Under the agreement, the balance of the funds to be paid by the Sisters will not be received by the Diocese for a number of years. As required by canon law, the sale has been submitted by the Diocese to the Vatican and approval is expected before year-end.

The Bishop said that the Sisters are working with Diocesan Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Steven Cheeseman, to look for areas of growth and collaboration.

Mater Salvatoris school opened in Stamford in in 2018, in the former Holy Spirit School building on Scofieldtown Road and it became the seventh school that the Sisters of the Company of the Savior have founded around the world. The mission of the Schools is to accompany students from their early years until their admission to the university, seeking to nurture in each student the development of the whole person in all its dimensions.

Sister M. Maria Alguacil, C.S., Head of School, said with 20 acres of property and more than 125,000 square feet of building space, the site of the former Trinity Catholic High School meets all the needs to develop the Mater Salvatoris project—including classrooms and labs, a chapel, sports fields gymnasium and playgrounds, and an auditorium.

“In this way, the mission for which the campus was designed and built—to provide a faithful Catholic education—will continue,” said Sister Maria.

Mater Salvatoris Schools are supported by over 60 years of experience in educational excellence in Europe, North America, South America and Africa, and currently educate more than 6,000 students worldwide.

Following the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the charism of our Mother Foundress, Venerable Servant of God Maria Felix, the Sisters of the Company of the Savior offer a faithful Catholic education, student-centered learning environment, strong academic formation and experiential and active education.

On February 27, 2020, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano announced the decision to close Trinity Catholic High School in the face of mounting deficits and declining enrollment. At the time the Bishop thanked the board for their extraordinary efforts on behalf of the school, and said that he would look for ways to preserve secondary Catholic education in the future.

To learn more about Mater Salvatoris College Preparatory School and the Sisters of the Company of the Savior at stamford.matersalvatoris.org. Contact us by email at stm.school@matersalvatoris.org, or by phone at (203) 489-0977. The new Mater Salvatoris campus is located at 926 Newfield Avenue, Stamford, Conn.

Why do bishops wear a hat and carry a stick?

A bishop’s tools symbolize his office and responsibilities.

“Which one is the bishop?” a friend asked me recently at a diocesan liturgy. Before I could respond, my coworker quickly answered: “The one with the hat and the stick!”

When at a big liturgy, these very visible and symbolic objects make it easy to spot the bishop in the crowd. Yet they are more than just liturgical decoration. The “hat” and “stick”—actually called a miter and crozier, respectively—are tools of a bishop, symbolizing his office and responsibilities.

To be ordained a bishop means that one receives the fullness of the sacrament of holy orders. Usually, a bishop is assigned as an ordinary, which means he is installed in a diocese to be the shepherd of the local church: to teach the word of God to the people, to govern the diocese administratively, and to sanctify the people by word, deed, and example.

The church provides that the outward representation of the office of the bishop points to this understanding of what it means to serve as bishop. Articles such as the miter and crozier, as well as the bishop’s ring and pectoral cross, are external symbols of the role.

Scholars have found that miters came into practice around 1100 C.E. When a bishop is ordained, the miter is blessed by the ordaining bishop before the ceremony and, in the midst of the rite of ordination, placed on the newly ordained bishop’s head in silence.

A bishop’s crozier looks like a shepherd’s crook to symbolize his role as shepherd of his diocese. The rite of ordination of a bishop says: “Take this staff as a sign of your pastoral office: keep watch over the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has appointed you to shepherd the Church of God.” The crozier also symbolizes spiritual fatherhood: God has entrusted the souls of the diocesan faithful to the care of the diocesan bishop.

The bishop’s ring, worn on the ring finger of his right hand, and pectoral cross are signs of his fidelity to the church. Whereas the miter and crozier are worn only during the celebration of Mass, the ring and pectoral cross are worn both during and outside of Mass.

The rich meaning and symbolism behind the tools of a bishop point to the importance of his role in the life of the church and the deep spiritual relationship bishops are called to have with the faithful of their dioceses.

By: John Grosso

Originally featured in US Catholic.

Veteran’s Day Prayer Service Honoring Veterans

STAMFORD – On Tuesday, November 10, The Catholic Academy of Stamford hosted a Veterans Day Prayer Service to honor our nation’s Veterans. Attending this ceremony were several local Veterans, including those from the Stamford Catholic War Veterans Post and parents and grandparents of students at The Catholic Academy of Stamford.

The prayer service was led by Father John Connaughton and the 8th-grade class. During the prayer service, Father John blessed a new flag for the school. At the conclusion of the service, students raised the newly blessed flag and students placed their Veterans Day rocks (which they created in Art class) around the flagpole.

In all, it was a great tribute to those who gave so much to our nation.

Check out the video here.

Statement of Bishop Frank J. Caggiano on Release of McCarrick Report

Today, the Holy See has published its report on the institutional knowledge and decision-making process related to former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick, prepared by the Vatican Secretariat of State by mandate of Pope Francis.

The 460-page report will receive intensive review in the coming days, and I believe, based on the 12-page summary, that it will prove to be another important step forward in the Church’s long struggle to confront the crimes of sexual abuse by clergy including Bishops and Cardinals.

At this time, my thoughts and prayers are first and foremost with all victims and survivors of sexual abuse, especially those who suffered at the hands of the former Cardinal McCarrick. I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering that you and your families have endured.

I also wish to reiterate my fierce and enduring commitment to continue to address this crisis and attack this evil in our midst. Our Diocese is currently implementing the final recommendations from the Independent Accountability Investigation conducted by Judge Robert Holzberg, and I hope to issue an update soon. Early last week, I promulgated a new Safe Environment Handbook, which incorporates the Judge’s recommendations and can be found on the diocesan website: www.bridgeportdiocese.org.

Lastly, I am working with a team of dedicated and faithful survivors of sexual abuse, many of whom I am blessed to call friends, on this year’s Service on Hope and Healing, which I hope to share details on shortly.

We remain committed to Safe Environments through verifiable policies, practices, and oversight that safeguards all children and vulnerable adults. I pledge that we will continue to move forward together in the solidarity of faith, a commitment to absolute accountability and transparency, and in the spirit of hope, and we will renew the Church.

Some Parishes return to Phase 2 guidelines

BRIDGEPORT–  With a second wave of the coronavirus beginning to take hold across Fairfield County, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has updated health and safety protocols for the Diocese of Bridgeport.

In a memo to all clergy issued today, the bishop noted that several cities including Bridgeport, Danbury, and Stamford have reverted to the state’s Phase 2 reopening guidelines in response to a growing positivity rate and an increase in hospitalizations.

The Bishop announced that if a parish is located in a city or municipality that has returned to Phase 2, then the following guidelines are in effect:

1. Mass and Liturgical Events
a. Indoors limited to 25% of capacity, no more than 100 people total
b. Outdoors limited to 150 people total

2. Non-liturgical Gatherings
a. Indoors limited to 25 people
b. Outdoors limited to 100 people

The bishop said there are no other changes to the most recent diocesan liturgical guidelines.

In addition to limiting capacity, masks, proper social distancing, and frequent sanitization are essential.

The bishop thanked pastors and priests for their continued leadership and support of diocesan COVID-19 protocols during this challenging time.

Radio: Saving Lives in the Central African Republic

Bishop No Comments

Each week, I look forward to recording my podcast, Let Me Be Frank with Veritas Catholic Network. Recording my podcast has helped reinforce in me an appreciation for how powerful the spoken word can be, which is why I so appreciate how people in the Central African Republic — a country literally in the middle of Africa — use radio as an important way to provide accurate and essential information to stop the spread of COVID-19. Catholic Relief Services, which has been in the Central African Republic since 1999, works with partners and radio programs there to dispel rumors about the disease. In a country where the internet isn’t widely available, radio is one of the best tools for fighting the spread of the virus by providing people with accurate information. It’s a simple and effective way of reaching millions of people, and saving lives.

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos.

Morning Ride

In this time of working from home, distance learning, and “remoting in,” I consider myself fortunate for the opportunity to drive to work every morning. It’s not just because I truly enjoy my job and am thankful to have it, but because the process of getting there eases me into the routine each day, something I was unable to do for almost six months.

Like so many last spring, my 25-minute morning commute from home to work changed to my 25-step morning walk from the kitchen to the family room where I set up a Chromebook and welcomed students on Zoom. Convenient? Sure. Satisfying? Not really. It was not the rising before dawn that I missed or the hastily-eaten breakfast and certainly not the parkway traffic. It was the journey itself – and what I didn’t experience when I wasn’t on it.

Much of my ride to school takes me through a generally rural community whose winding roadways seem to effortlessly inspire peaceful reflection, even at 7 am. Such a perfect setting for a decade of the Rosary, a moment of meditation, a short podcast on Spotify, and a chance to witness God’s glory in the continual change of seasons.

Driving the same route every day for many years, I have tried to notice even the smallest transformations, especially in nature. I didn’t realize until recently though how much I missed not only the emergent greening of front lawns last spring or the gradual blooming of tiny buds but also the time each day to acknowledge it. This all happened, of course, but I didn’t have the privilege of seeing the arrival of new life. This autumn, I vowed to appreciate its departure. As the leaves that appeared from those tiny buds during quarantine transformed in their brilliance and began to wither, I traveled those roads once more, awed.      

I saw, as if for the first time, the magnificent crimson of burning bushes lining the walkway of an old Colonial, the mini pumpkins settled into the crevices of a meandering stone wall, and the blanket of golden leaves forming a perfect circumference around a longstanding maple. This drive, consistent though never boring, awakens me to how God is revealed in nature’s beauty and how He gives us what we need just when we need it. For me, it is those 25 minutes, those quiet moments of solitude and reflection which, when absent, left me with an emptiness that has just now been restored.

Like the branches of the tallest trees, some already bare and extending skyward, we reach for respite in these times, finding comfort in the routines that once appeared mundane. I for one am happy to settle in and enjoy the ride.

By Emily Clark

Fear is best confronted when we are not alone

Bishop No Comments

I am most grateful to everyone who took the courageous step to describe many of their personal fears. As you can see, we share many of the same fears. I am most thankful to everyone who took this first step in confronting whatever fears you may have. Now the question is: What is the second step?

Naming our fears unmask their presence and power in our lives. Whatever we are afraid of is brought into the light, where for a brief glimpse we can see it for what it really is. In that brief moment, we know that our fears cannot harm us. However, fear will always try to find its way back into the shadows of our hearts, seeking to reassert its destructive and painful power over us. So, it seems to me that the second step in facing and overcoming fear is to find a trusted friend or guide to whom you or I can sit and, with confidence that we will be taken seriously, discuss the fear that threatens to overwhelm us. Fear is best confronted when we are not alone in trying to conquer it.

Most often a person with whom we will discuss our fears will not have a simple answer that will eliminate them. They may initially have little or no advice to give. Yet, it is their very comforting and reassuring presence, their commitment to be of help and their desire to accompany as we confront our fears is truly a great gift. Their presence can give us the reassurance we need to unmask the reasons for our fears and to explore ways by which we can learn to cope with them, and even overcome them.

Jesus always asked his disciples to go out into mission two by two. When you consider the obstacles a disciple faced and the fears those obstacles created, the Lord was already giving his disciples the first two steps to overcome those fears. My friends, the time has come that we starting opening our hearts with one another and to do the same.

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos.

Sometimes you just need some help

My friends, many of you know firsthand how hard it can be to start a small business. Sometimes you just need some help. I recently learned about a program that Catholic Relief Services offers in the highlands of Guatemala, where income opportunities are sparse. CRS works with farmers, like husband and wife Raúl and Lilian, teaching them techniques to improve their crops and have enough to sell. CRS helped them build a greenhouse to expand their vegetable production and also helped them register their business so they could sell their products at better prices. As a result, Raúl and Lilian have doubled the number of crops they grow and have increased their profits by 25%, which means have more income to care for their two children. To that I say, thanks be to God!

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos.