Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

Articles By: John Grosso

NORWALK—The Knights of Columbus Bishop Fenwick 4th Degree Assembly No. 100 recently hosted its 4th Annual Patriot Dinner on Saturday, July 10th at the St. Ann Club in Norwalk. The dinner raised over $1,100 for the Norwalk Police Activities League. In addition, a portion of the funds raised through a raffle will help the Knights of Columbus purchase supplies for the Cadet Post.

The dinner was attended by over 130 guests which included members of the Sons of American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and members of the Knights of Columbus.  The title sponsor for the dinner was Assembly member Mike Purdy and his company Riverside Cemetery in Norwalk

“I am so appreciative of Brother Mike Purdy and his company Riverside Cemetery for being a sponsor which helped offset the costs so we can donate more funds to PAL,” said Assembly 100 faithful navigator George Ribellino, Jr.

Guest speaker was former Norwalk Public Safety Cadets Captain and new member of the West Hartford Police Department, Officer Noah Velez   Officer Velez spoke about how the Cadet program run by Norwalk PAL helped him grow as a person and deal with adversity in his journey and dream of becoming a police officer.  The crowd was so impressed with his story and gave him a standing ovation.

The Norwalk Police Activities League (PAL) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the youth of Norwalk with positive alternatives to the all too available paths of idleness and delinquency that can ultimately lead to crime. The league provides various cultural, educational, and athletic experiences to these youngsters who are in the greatest need of leadership, guidance, and understanding.

Ribellino had a vision of a fundraiser once a year for a specific Veterans or Law Enforcement Organization when elected to lead the Assembly in September 2016. “One of my goals, when I took over as the Faithful Navigator of the Assembly, was to assist an organization that works and helps our veterans and our law enforcement”, he said.  Assembly member Al Latte oversaw the catering part of the dinner. Ribellino went on the say “I am so appreciative of Brother Al for overseeing the kitchen. I am thankful for him and the Brother Knights and members of St. Ann Club who prepared a delicious Italian meal.

In addition, Assembly 100 wanted to do something for the youth and future leaders in our community, so they decided to help the young men and woman in the Norwalk Public Safety Cadets Post 1913.  This was a tradition that was started with the first dinner in 2017.

“My daughter is the Captain of the Norwalk Public Safety Cadets and I see the program has done for her by helping her grow into a disciplined young lady, so we’re thrilled to help such a great group of young adults,” said Ribellino.

The Norwalk Public Safety Cadets assisted with serving and clean up. Ribellino went on to say, “I was so impressed at how the Cadets jumped right in and made the attendees feel right at home. I am so grateful for the help they provided. We were happy to return the favor with the donation of supplies.”

Officer Matt Sauer spoke fondly of the Cadets, “These kids are amazing.”

The Public Safety Cadet program is a shared program between the Norwalk Police and Fire Departments for youth ages 13-20. This program gives youth the opportunity to learn about both departments while participating in community service and learning leadership.

At the end of the evening, Ribellino presented a check for $1,100 to Officer Matt Sauer and the Norwalk Public Safety Cadets.

“We would like to thank the Knights of Columbus for graciously hosting this patriot dinner to benefit Norwalk PAL. Through your generous donations we can continue to provide enriching programs to our youth of Norwalk, “said Officer Sauer.

Bishop Fenwick Assembly 100 4th Degree Knights of Columbus has been based in Norwalk, Conn., since 1914. The Fourth Degree is the outgrowth and culmination of the desire of the members to manifest their love for country and pride in their Catholic American heritage. In 1882, the Reverend Michael J. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus to provide mutual aid and assistance to its members and their families. At that time, the Order had only three degrees, exemplifying the principles of Charity, Unity and Fraternity. In compliance with the wishes of the body, the national board of directors met in August 1899 and approved the addition of a Fourth Degree to the work of the Knights of Columbus. The new ritual was adopted on the 9th of December that year and went into effect in 1900 with its primary purpose to foster the spirit of patriotism through the demonstration of one’s love for its country and by responsible citizenship. It is the highest Degree in the Knights of Columbus, giving a greater knowledge and appreciation for our Catholic heritage.

NEW CANAAN — At the beginning of the pandemic, Fr. Rob Kinnally urged his parishioners to pray for protection to their patron, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, an Italian aristocrat who entered the Society of Jesus and died in 1591 at 23, while caring for victims of a plague that swept through Rome.

The parish, which has a strong devotion to St. Aloysius, Our Lady and St. Joseph, had their prayers answered. There was never a transmission of COVID at St. Aloysius during the pandemic and he said, “I give our saints a lot of credit for keeping us safe through this whole thing. We never shut down, and the doors were always open for people to pray.”

Early on, the parish live-streamed its Masses, relying at first on Fr. David Roman’s iPhone and Facebook The Masses became so popular that even now, there are many people from the region and around the world who continue to watch them each week.

From the very beginning, St. Aloysius has been faithful to his parish, which this year celebrates the 125th anniversary since it was founded after a group of Irish Catholics left St. Mary Parish in Norwalk on Long Island Sound and headed into the hill country of New Canaan. Every Sunday, they would make the arduous journey back to Norwalk for Mass, some traveling on foot.

“We pray to St. Aloysius who has given us 125 years of grace and service and all kinds of blessings,” Fr. Kinnally said.

In 1917, the New Canaan Messenger reported: “The first Irish immigrants … walked to Norwalk to attend Mass. They thought nothing of the hardships entailed in fulfilling their religious duties as is known from reliable testimony, and neither the heat of summer nor the cutting cold of winter would keep them from setting forth early on a Sunday morning for Norwalk.”

Eventually, Fr. Kinnally says, a mission parish was established in New Canaan and the priest came as his schedule allowed, to celebrate Mass in private homes and what is now the New Canaan Historical Society Town House. Then, in 1862, the first Catholic Church was built on Forest Street. On June 1, 1896, the New Canaan Mission separated from St. Mary Parish, and Fr. John McMahon was appointed the first pastor of St. Aloysius.

A second church, which is still on the campus, was built and dedicated on July 15, 1917, and 50 years later the current Cherry Street church was dedicated, and the old church became the rectory and parish center.

Father Kinnally, who is in his sixth year as pastor and is chancellor of the Diocese of Bridgeport, says, “My experience has been nothing but wonderful. These are very faithful, caring, generous people. It is an amazing community, and I am very proud of what they do. They share with one another and with the larger community. I am very blessed.”

He describes being pastor as a grace-filled experience in the tradition of many previous priests, two of whom are his close friends — Msgr. J. Peter Cullen and Msgr. William J. Scheyd.

“We are very good friends, and I rely on them for history, and they are so supportive of me,” he says. “Among the three of us, there are 37 years of being pastor — Msgr. Cullen with 17 years, Msgr. Scheyd with 14 and me with six.”

The parish has almost 3000 families, most from New Canaan and some from Northern Westchester, with close to 1000 children in religious education. Well over 100 people attend the two daily Masses. Father is particularly proud of the parish tithing program by which 10 percent of donations are given to charities identified by parishioners, including hospitals, clinics, ministries of Catholic Charities, schools, and missions in South America.

“We are a very large congregation, and I have a great relationship with our other brother and sister pastors in town,” he says. “To the larger community, we offer a sense of parish, that there is life here, that you will find support and that you have people present for you.”

The vibrant parish life has many ministries, including a bereavement program, a Men’s Ministry and Walking With Purpose, along with an active youth ministry and a semi-annual Emmaus Retreat program.

Students at St. Aloysius School, from kindergarten to eighth grade, attend Mass regularly and have opportunities to pray three times a day, he said.

“Our music program is amazing, and there is a strong tradition of good music thanks to Dr. John Michniewicz,” Father said. There are adult, youth, and cherub choirs in addition to the StAY Teen Choir & Praise Band.

The teen Mass typically attracts 600 people on Sunday at 5 p.m., and members of the senior community often go because they are energized by the young people, Father says. There is also a 6:30 a.m. Mass for teens once a month at which they receive a takeaway breakfast before heading to school.

“We have a lot of folks who do a lot of amazing things,” he says. “They are important to the life of the Church in a culture that says people are moving away from religion. Our community has shown that you need a personal relationship with Christ and a community relationship with people in prayer. We have to come together in Eucharist. The Lord says to do this, and that’s what we do every day.”

The parish recently embarked on a capital campaign, which it hopes will finance work on aging buildings on the campus, more space for parish ministries, a larger indoor gathering space, and an outdoor area.

“It will be a re-imagining of our campus,” Fr. Kinnally says. “We also want to put a cafe in the middle of the campus, which will be managed throughout the day so people can gather for coffee and a light lunch and provide coffee for people after Mass. We want a place where people will feel comfortable and can pray the rosary and have outdoor prayer services. It will also be available to the community if, say, they want a room for a meeting or just to sit outside and have lunch.”

This year, the St. Aloysius’ 125th-anniversary feast was celebrated on June 19 after the 5 p.m. Mass with Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, followed by a procession and a parish party with music and food.

Marking the occasion, Fr. Kinnally said in a message to his faith community: “We give thanks to God for 125 years of parish family life under the patronage of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga. From moments of grace in the three different church buildings that have been our spiritual houses over a century and a quarter, we all have some treasured stories of countless prayers said, thousands of candles lit, hundreds of happy brides and grooms walking down the aisle, generations of babies being brought to the baptismal font, the funeral rites for our dear ones, school graduations, First Holy Communions, Confirmations, a First Mass or two, years and years of Christmas pageants, and the hundreds of thousands of Masses that have been offered.

“More than anything, Saint Aloysius Parish has been a place where generations have celebrated the love of Christ that is made present in a community….125 years after the Vatican approved our desire to name the parish after Aloysius Gonzaga, the young Jesuit seminarian who gave his life in service of the poor and the sick, we pray that we will imitate him in his desire to serve the Lord by serving one another. And then, we pray that one day we will meet all of the Saint Aloysius parishioners from 1896 and beyond in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

BRIDGEPORT— “We are successful to the extent that we are willing to die to ourselves and allow Christ to shine in us,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said at the annual Mass for employees at the End of the Curial Year.

More than 60 Catholic Center office staff gathered at the nearby St. Andrew Church in Bridgeport for the Mass followed by a luncheon in the school hall. It was the first large, in-person gathering in which employees could see each other face to face without masks since the pandemic began.

“It’s good to see everyone in person, to gather for worship, and to come together as a family,” the bishop said. “The long winter of Covid is coming to an end. We have experienced much over the past 16 months,” he said, noting that it will take time to come to terms with it all.

The bishop personally thanked employees for their hard work and all they did to bring hope to the people of the diocese during the Covid crisis.

In his homily, the Bishop reflected on Luke’s account of the ministry of John the Baptist and said the gospel prompts a question:  “How do we measure success as followers of Jesus?”

The bishop said that business measures success by profits, customer engagement, or market share, and educators can gauge student tests and achievement, but how does a Church measure success?

In recent years in the northeast the Church has faced many challenges and is a long way from its golden years of building new parishes and schools, he said.

Likewise, seen through the lens of worldly success, John the Baptist’s life would be looked upon as a failure—he made people angry, he was abandoned in his ministry, and he was beheaded, “yet God called him by a name that means ‘God is gracious,’” the bishop said.

He said that John the Baptist “didn’t make it about himself,” but professed his unworthiness to make way for the “Lamb of God.”

Pointing out that economies rise and fall and that wealth and riches come and go, he said that believers must have a different measure of success, “None of that matters if we keep our eyes fixed on Christ. What really matters is bringing the love of Christ to those around us every moment of our lives.”

The bishop said it is interesting to note that the Church celebrates John’s birthday when the light begins to gradually wane over the summer, and we celebrate Christ’s birth six months later when the light begins its ascent in the sky.

“We must tell the world another light is beginning to dawn,” he said of the work of Christians. “Our light takes second place to the light that is Christ. Our ministry is to point to Jesus.”

Bishop Caggiano was joined in the celebration of Mass by priest and deacon leaders who serve at the Catholic Center.

The Catholic Center is located at 238 Jewett Avenue in Bridgeport. It houses the bishop’s office and the many programs and ministries sponsored by the diocese.

When others ask why I converted to Catholicism, my mind goes at once to a cherished hobby of mine: weaving. Catholic communal life reminds me above all of priceless handwoven fabric, two thousand years’ worth of fantastically colorful silk still on the loom, the pattern alive with dancing saints and trees in flower. Yes, I know—I know about the damaged areas and the rips and the mistakes and the people screaming about whether they really were mistakes and the people screaming back at those people and the rest of us, eyes bloodshot, whispering novenas to St. Joseph, under whose calm gaze we all manage to stay in the studio. Still, Catholicism is to me such a fabric. If one gets up close and analyzes it with a magnifying glass, one sees all kinds of marvels, among them a crisscrossing ground of golden threads, upon which surface ever more extravagant and luxurious designs are worked for the praise and glory of the Name of God. Golden ground: the Sacrament of Confession.

In the church from which I came, a general confession was said at weekly services and one-on-one confession was optional: “all may, some should, none must,” as we said. This made for an odd and troubling dynamic: how could I know whether I was one of those who did not need to go? Catholics, on the other hand, must go to Confession at least once a year in order to be in good standing with the Church. Many people, of course, go more often. Among other things, it was precisely this requirement to confess one’s sins to a priest that attracted me so powerfully to Catholicism. The requirement means that there is no such thing as a person who does not need to avail herself of one-on-one Confession. I am a sinner like everyone else and will benefit from Confession as everyone else does. What a relief!

It isn’t my own efforts, of course, that make the Sacrament of Confession so powerful for me, but Jesus Christ and the good and holy priests who minister in His Name. Let’s face it: the bit of thread I bring to the loom to be woven in by our Master and His artisans is bedraggled, moth-eaten, and generally pretty awful to behold. It would stay that way without this sacrament. I need to bring it there anyway. I need to come and say that I have sinned as Jesus and His priests labor on that golden ground. I need to obey this precept of the Church so that Jesus can turn that poor thread into something better. Most of all, I need to trust, in the words of St. John Henry Newman, that “He knows what He is about.”

There is more. If I am (Heaven forfend) out of charity with another Catholic, it means that there are limits to how much energy the two of us can spend on that lack of charity, particularly if one or both of us go to Confession frequently. I may have a problem with someone and that person with me, but since Our Lord commands that we forgive others as we have been forgiven—notably, before receiving Him in the Eucharist—in our heart of hearts we two Catholics know that this is an issue for the confessional and it is only so long before it will be brought there for light, repentance, and healing so that we both can get on with the business of becoming saints.

This mutual knowledge of the need for repentance, surely a result of the Holy Spirit at work, is to this convert’s mind one of the most striking aspects of Catholic life. The practice of frequent confession will be of real help, then, not only to my fellow Catholic and me, but also to the surrounding community, which will, no doubt, have suffered in all sorts of unseen ways from our disagreement. Stabilized by the golden ground, the joyful pattern full of color goes on. The loom clacks away; the shuttles sing. Laudetur Jesus Christus!

By Anna Bendiksen

 

I am a big hiker, so when this past year I saw that the news was encouraging a walk in the woods as a cure for lockdown stress, I agreed heartily.   There are good scientific reasons why time in the woods relieves stress.  Science tells us our upright physiques evolved for walking long distances, so what makes the body happier than a long walk?   Our eyes see more shades of green than any other color, a vestige of early man’s time in the forest that now adds extra delight under a forest canopy.  Our tri-partite brains are awakened in the woods too:  the “fight or flight” response of the “reptile” brain (“is there something behind that tree that’s going to eat me?!”);  the simple pleasure center of the “mammalian” brain (“gee, that cool breeze is nice!”) and the contemplative human neocortex (“Someone created this, I am awed, and should be thankful”).

A walk in the woods has curative power.  Part of that power must result from the neocortex calming the reptile brain with the knowledge that there is nothing to fight and nothing to fear:  this place is God’s doing.   As to that last realization, Christian contemplatives got there long before the scientists.  Thomas Merton, our greatest American contemplative, wrote about trees and forests as follows:

[a] tree gives glory to God by being a tree.  For in being what God means it to be, it is obeying Him….The forms and individual characteristics of living and created things, of inanimate things, of animals and flowers, and all nature, constitute their holiness in the sight of God.  Their inscape is their sanctity.  It is the imprint of his wisdom and reality in them.  [“Things In Their Essence” in New Seeds of Contemplation at 30.]

Merton was a Trappist monk who lived some of his life in a hermitage, but he also wrote for those laypersons trying to live “lives of contemplation in action and purity of heart”.  He described that life as follows:

One is content with what is.  One does what is to be done, and the more concrete it is, the better.  One is not worried about the results of what is done…At such time, walking down a street, sweeping a floor, washing dishes, hoeing beans, reading a book, taking a stroll in the woods – all can be enriched with the contemplative and obscure sense of the presence of God.  [ The Inner Experience at 66.]

We also enjoy walking and talking together, sometimes becoming “pilgrims” —  sharing a journey down paths our ancestors once trod to a holy destination.  Thus, when in Spain and you conclude your Camino, you reach the portal of the Cathedral, you fit your fingers into the finger-grooves worn under the little statue of Santiago, and you touch the hands of the many millions of pilgrims before you.  Or when in Ireland you labor up Croagh Patrick on the last Sunday in August to take communion with 20,000 other pilgrims, on a path allegedly 5,000 years old, you walk in a communion of saints, living and dead.  Indeed, when we walk, we move through both space and time.

This is especially true when hiking in Connecticut.  The rolling hills are the imprint of a massive glacier that melted away only 16,000 years ago.  That glacier left hills, river valleys, stream beds, and ridgelines.  Our paths in the woods were predestined to go along the ridges, because who wants to get their feet wet?   Connecticut’s woods are full of the marks of little men too — stone walls tumbled mills, animal pens —  left by colonists who conquered, planted, and then moved west, leaving the forest to reclaim their fields. Those colonists’ walls, like the glacier’s ridges, direct where you go.

So, it was with those usual observations of time and space in mind that I came off the Aspetuck Trail one afternoon along Route 58, on the same weekend that the jury was deliberating in the George Floyd murder case.  I found that someone had planted a sign near the hikers’ parking lot.  The sign read: “MLK YES, CRT NO”.    I knew MLK must mean Martin Luther King, Jr, but CRT?

Later that day, I learned CRT stands for Critical Race Theory, which is a way of contemplating American society through its race prejudices, race structures, and race results.  African- American scholars created and many support CRT theory.  Other people of color do also, as well as many whites.   The basic point is that the civil rights legislation of the 1960s did nothing radical to change the social position of African-Americans and that much more needs to be done to reform American systems.    As a lawyer, this makes sense to me, because I know laws are passed to try to change behavior, but the mere passage of a law does not mean that the behavior changes.  Think of drunk driving, or littering, or murder.  No one would argue that the Fifth Commandment put an end to murder.

I am no expert on Dr. King, but it seemed odd that this sign would set up “CRT” in opposition to “MLK”.  So I did a quick google for Dr. King’s most famous speech, the “I Have a Dream” speech of 1963, and found him saying that while Lincoln had freed African-Americans from the bondage of slavery, African Americans still remained bound by racism, and that progress must continue beyond civil rights legislation.  Dr. King said:

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.  We cannot turn back.  There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.   We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.”  We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

That sure sounded like CRT to me, so I dug a little deeper on the alleged MLK-CRT conflict, and found that a trend had developed over the last year to deny that racism still exists as a functioning part of American society, to argue that Dr. King was “color blind”, and that the country could no longer be described as “racist”.  They would argue that, in a mere 60 years, America had “evolved” so radically that 1963 America no longer exists in 2021 America.  Hence, the sign:  MLK YES; CRT NO.

But that is not the Catholic position.  In fact, twice in the last 40 years, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued pastoral letters stating just the opposite.  In 1979, the Bishops stated:  “Racism is an evil which endures in our society and in our Church. Despite apparent advances and even significant changes in the last two decades, the reality of racism remains. In large part, it is only external appearances which have changed”.  Brothers and Sisters unto Us at 1.   n 2018, the Bishops stated:

Racism still profoundly affects our culture, and it has no place in the Christian heart….What is needed, and what we are calling for, is a genuine conversion of heart, a conversion that will compel change and the reform of our institutions and society.  Conversion is a long road to travel for the individual. Moving our nation to a full realization of the promise of liberty, equality, and justice for all is even more challenging. However, in Christ, we can find the strength and the grace necessary to make that journey.

In this regard, each of us should adopt the words of Pope Francis as our own:  let no one “think that this invitation is not meant for him or her”.  All of us are in need of personal, ongoing conversion.  Our churches and our civic and social institutions are in need of ongoing reform.  If racism is confronted by addressing its causes and the injustice it produces, then healing can occur.  In that transformed reality, the headlines we see all too often today will become lessons from the past.  [Open Wide Our Hearts at 6-7.]

It’s an odd thing to read the Bishops’ words from only a few years ago and reflect on that sign by the road, which for me that day was a kind of personal, negative headline.  A misleading one.   A scaremongering one.  A sign of “fight or flight”.   The Bishops’ invitation to conversion raises analogous questions:  how did we get to where we are today?  What cold force shaped our footpath, what wall kept us going in this direction rather than another?  What memories and habits made us do this rather than that?  What company do we keep when we walk?  Are we walking with God?

As discussed above, finding God in the forest is easy.  No one has made a business of whispering evil about the trees.  God’s Creative Love is all too obvious to admit of any evil.  It would be wonderful to walk into a crowd of strangers the way one walks into a stand of trees and experience the same kind of powerful change, but there are forces within us and around us that want to keep us fallen, hobbled, hateful.  And yet we hold out hope that each of us can come to the same beautiful vision, to our own personal, ongoing conversion, that Merton experienced himself when he left the hermitage and went into the city:

In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness…This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud…I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate.  As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are.  And if only everybody could realize this!  But it cannot be explained.  There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.

Pete Maloney, J.D.

BRIDGEPORT—On the week of May 3-7, Veritas Catholic Network is having their spring pledge drive.

“With St. Joseph as our patron, we are building a powerful means of evangelization for Jesus here in Connecticut and New York. What we are building will be here for generations and will touch thousands of souls,” wrote Steve Lee in the most recent newsletter.

Debbie Georgianni, who co-hosts EWTN’s Take 2 on Veritas most weekdays at noon, is the host for this spring’s pledge drive.

Veritas is the only 24-hour Catholic station in this area and is completely listener-supported.  Listen on the radio or by using the mobile app on your phone. All donations receive a prayer card & window decal.

(Tune in and call in to show your support: 833.88.TRUTH, or 833.888.7884 or visit: www.veritascatholic.com)

Trumbull- The Parish of Saint Catherine of Siena (220 Shelton Road, Trumbull) announces the addition of a beautiful new stained-glass window in the church. The window, dedicated and blessed on March 19, also the Solemnity of St. Joseph, depicts five women and five men who have lived in more recent times, and have lived lives of heroic, exemplary faithfulness to God.

“Intentionally located just beside the baptismal font, the window serves to highlight the important truth that through the Sacrament of Baptism comes the vocation to holiness in all the various states of life in the Church: marriage, single life, priesthood, and consecrated life,” says Joseph A. Marcello, Pastor of St. Catherine of Siena.

Reflecting on the fact that St. Catherine’s Church includes many images of Bishops from the early Church and the founders of Religious orders, Father Marcello continues: “Seeing only images of people who lived so long ago and in states of life far removed from our own might give us the mistaken impression that becoming a saint – actually becoming a saint! – is not really meant for you or me.  In this window, we see people who look a little more like us.”

The 10 Saints and Blesseds featured in the window are:

Saints Louis (1823-1894) and Zélie (1831-1877) Martin, the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, are depicted in the center of the window.  They are the first married couple in history to be canonized together.  Their liturgical feast day is July 12, their wedding anniversary.

Also depicted is Blessed Michael McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus and a Connecticut diocesan priest, whose two younger brothers were also priests, and pastors of the territory that contained what is now St. Catherine of Siena Parish.

Another is Mother – now Saint – Teresa of Calcutta.  People of every faith, and of none, instinctively recognized her thoroughgoing authenticity: hers was an intentional, lifelong response of heroic generosity to Jesus’ words: “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.”  Mother Teresa, who saw the worst of human suffering and who experienced extended periods of interior darkness herself, never tired of saying, with a big smile: “Never let anything so fill you with sorrow that you forget the joy of Christ risen.”

Additionally:

  • Saint Gianna Beretta Molla: wife, mother, doctor
  • Saint André Bessette: Religious Brother
  • Blessed Chiara Luce Badano: young lay woman
  • Saint John Henry Newman: priest and theologian
  • Saint Josephine Bakhita: Religious Sister
  • Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati: young lay man

The Parish of Saint Catherine of Siena warmly welcomes anyone who is new to our area, anyone who is searching for the truth, or anyone who is looking for a spiritual home. We are joyfully and faithfully Roman Catholic in belief and practice – a community of faith, worship, service, and formation – and with open hearts we invite all our brothers and sisters into a living and saving friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ, in the communion of His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  We are conveniently located at 220 Shelton Road in the Nichols area of Trumbull. Information at www.StCathTrumbull.com.

DANBURY – Annual spring musicals are part of the Immaculate High School tradition. Due to Covid-19, the 2020 musical was unfortunately unable to go on, but director Matthew Farina was determined to make the 2021 show a reality. The planning process for this year’s production has been different than most years, as a virtual show was inevitable. When exploring possibilities for shows, Farina wanted an option that would come across screens as well as it would on a stage. “I wanted to weave the virtual production into the storyline of the show,” he said. This goal of having the storyline of the show make sense virtually eliminated traditional options such as Oklahoma, which takes place in a time where Zoom and virtual watching would be foreign concepts. Thus, Immaculate’s rendering of WE WILL ROCK YOU was born.

WE WILL ROCK YOU is told through the songs of the British rock band Queen and is set in the distant future where live music and free thought have been banned. A group of rock rebels, called Bohemians, fight against the globally corporate world to restore freedom and the rebirth of rock and roll.

The next challenge to tackle was how to produce this show in a way that would be interesting to the audience watching through a screen. Due to Covid-19 restrictions and safety protocols, having the whole cast together and live streaming the show from the school auditorium was out of the question. That is where the movie musical idea came to be. By filming one scene at a time, students are able to work in smaller groups and maintain social distance to keep each other safe. Scouting and filming at different locations around Immaculate and the Danbury community keep the show fresh and interesting to watch.

Farina says the new way of producing the show has allowed not only himself and producer Kathleen Czel to think outside the box, but the students as well. “It may never be like this again,” Farina said in regards to the movie musical format, and explained that they are taking advantage of the opportunity to be “creatively brave” and use different technology and computer effects to enhance the viewing experience.

WE WILL ROCK YOU will be livestreamed Friday, May 21 at 7:00 pm, Saturday, May 22 at 7:00 pm and Sunday, May 23 at 2:00 pm. Information regarding accessing the livestream, a full cast list and more can be found at www.immaculatehs.org/rock.

TRUMBULL, CT—St Joseph High School, southern Connecticut’s premier college preparatory school, is proud to announce that Joseph Harrington and Helen Mahoney are this year’s Valedictorian and Salutatorian respectively.

Joseph Harrington has attained the highest academic record among his class and will deliver the Valedictorian’s Farewell Address at the close of Commencement on Saturday, June 5th. Joseph resides in Fairfield, CT and currently serves as President of the Writing Center, a Captain of the Boys Varsity Tennis Team, and member of the National Honor Society, Jazz Band, Coding Club, and Student Ambassadors. Joseph is also a Harvard Book Award recipient, Commended National Merit Scholar, and a member of Math, English, Spanish, and Music Honor Societies. Additionally, he has represented St Joes multiple times as a Western Region and All-State Euphonium instrumentalist. Joseph is heavily involved in scouting, having served as the Senior Patrol Leader of his troop, and as a Chapter Chief in scouting’s national honor society, the Order of the Arrow. Joe is currently wrapping up his Eagle Scout project and application and, in the fall, plans on attending The University of Notre Dame to study economics and political science.

St Joe’s Salutatorian, Helen Mahoney resides in Stamford, CT. She is President of the National Honor Society, and has led the initiative to make and deliver over 10,000 sandwiches to the New Covenant Center. She is a member of the Math, English, and Spanish Honor Societies. Helen is also a Yale Book Award recipient, an AP Scholar with Distinction, and a Bausch + Lomb Honorary Science Award recipient. During her time at St Joes, as a Presidential Scholar, Helen has been an active member of the Drama and Debate clubs, as well as President of the Online Writing Resource Center and Vice President of Student Ambassadors. She was also a starting defender on the 2017 Varsity Girls Soccer State Championship team. In the fall, Helen will attend The University of Notre Dame as a Glynn Family Honors Program Scholar, majoring in Mathematics.

“We are so proud of these two very talented students who embody all that is St Joes,” said Principal, Nancy DiBuono. “James is a leader through example and his strength of character is noticed by all. Helen is a talented student with a strong work ethic. She sets high standards for herself and is a leader both in and out of the classroom. We know they are both destined for greatness.”

 About St Joseph High School

St Joseph High School (SJHS) strives to be the premier college preparatory school in Southern Connecticut. The school provides a learning environment that embraces the Gospel values of the Roman Catholic faith and promotes a commitment to family and community. SJHS prepares young women and men to realize their potential, helps them to excel in higher education, and provides a foundation to guide them throughout their lives. St Joseph High School is a member of NCEA, NAIS, NEAS&C.  www.sjcadets.org

 

BRIDGEPORT – Work has begun on offering the ambassador training program in Spanish. Father Gustavo Falla, Vicar for Hispanic Catholics, in collaboration with four other Spanish-speaking priests, is collaborating with Father Michael Novajosky to organize the program, with a proposed start at the beginning of May.

Registration materials will be distributed next Monday, April 19th. As was true for the English language track, pastors will be asked to nominate persons from his parish to attend the formation program. The registration process will be identical to that which was done in March.

The formation experience will begin with in-person orientation sessions, as was offered in English. For more information, contact your Pastor.

“Notas” acerca del Cuarto de Arriba #5

La Diócesis pronto inaugurará la sección en Español del programa de experiencia de formación para Embajadores. Se prevé que este programa se dará inicio a comienzos del mes de Mayo. Habrá más información disponible acerca de esto la próxima semana. Les solicitamos a todos aquellos interesados que contacten a su pastor para discutir su posible registro al programa.

MONROE- St. John XXIII Council 5987 of the Knights of Columbus hosted a unique presentation in celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday on April 11th at St. Jude Parish in Monroe, CT.

In partnership with the Apostolate for Holy Relics, Reverend Henry Hoffman and Deacon John Tuccio participated in presenting a one-hour program highlighting a series of excerpts from The Diary of St. Faustina.  The readings provided the source material for meditations focused on the topics of the Passion of Our Lord and of the Holy Eucharist, complemented by the traditional recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and musical interludes.

While many consider the Feast of Divine Mercy a day that completes the devotional prayers given to us by St. Faustina, the messages from St. Faustina’s Diary provide us with a new perspective on the amazing gift of Divine Mercy brought forth from the Heart of Jesus from the Cross.  God’s Mercy is manifest as the fruit of the Life, Passion, Death and Resurrection of His Only Begotten Son, conveyed to us by the Holy Spirit.  We reap salvation through His Suffering and Death on the Cross from the very seat of love in the Heart of Jesus from the Cross.   In following St. Faustina’s example, we place all our trust in God’s Great Mercy, brought to us in the Passion of Christ and in His ongoing presence with us in the Holy Eucharist, that He might have pity on us and meet us with His Forgiveness, which is the true essence of salvation.

Veneration of the Holy Relics followed the presentation.  The faithful came forth to spend a few moments honoring Jesus and invoking the help of St. Faustina to recognize that gift of unfathomable Divine Mercy in our lives and in the lives of all those for whom prayers were offered. Included were the Relic of the True Cross, St. Faustina’s Religious Veil, St. Faustina’s Habit, and a bone relic of the saint.

The program can be viewed in its entirety at https://boxcast.tv/view/divine-mercy-sunday-with-relics-of-st-faustyna-tswjuei6zt8p3kqytkoo.  For more information on the Apostolate for Holy Relics visit www.relictour.org.

BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will celebrate a special Mass this Saturday, open to all, in honor of all healthcare workers throughout the diocese.

This special celebration of Mass will take place at 11 am at St. Joseph Church in Brookfield.

Bishop Caggiano said he felt it was important that the diocese recognize healthcare workers and participants in the Ambassador program called for in his pastor exhortation, “Let us Enter the Upper Room with the Lord.”

“Over this past year, many of our healthcare workers offered heroic service on behalf of those who fell ill with the coronavirus, often risking their own lives to care for those who were sick. While I am sure that we have kept them in our prayers each day, we also look forward to this opportunity to affirm their healthcare ministry,” he said.

Registration is not required, the Mass is open to all.

On March 13, 2021, the Knights of Columbus Msgr. William J. Blake Assembly 118 4th Degree was awarded the Knights of Columbus Star Assembly Award and Civic Award.  Assembly 118 was one of only two Assemblies in Connecticut to be awarded the highest award given by the Knights of Columbus. The Star Assembly Award recognizes outstanding achievement in new membership, charitable faith-based patriotic programming and overall high operations. Assembly 118 was also one of only three Assemblies to be awarded the Knights of Columbus Civic Award. The Civic Award is given to Assemblies for their outstanding implementation of patriotic programming.

For Assembly 118 it is not about winning awards.  The goal is to follow the work that Blessed Father Michael McGivney started in 1882 when he founded the Knights of Columbus.  Father McGivney was a man ahead of his time.

Father McGivney’s work was dedicated to helping his poor Catholic parishioners in their lives and faith. At that time Catholic priests tended to stay on the Church property and focus their work there. But Father McGivney was surrounded by Catholics in great need at home and in society. The families of his parish at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn. were dealing with high poverty, deadly diseases and dangerous working conditions. Men were dying at an early age and leaving behind widows and orphans who were being tossed out on the street.

To combat these societal needs Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus. He was known for walking into the community to visit the sick and console grieving families. Father McGivney was happy to help the local children start up a baseball game or organize a St. Patrick’s Day theatre production. He had no problem going into court to help a widow keep her children from being forced into an orphanage or continuously visiting a man on death row up until his final moments.

The members of Assembly 118 continue to follow the lead of Father McGivney today through their volunteer work in the Fairfield community. Sir Knight of the Year 2020 Russell Edgett has helped homeless veterans at Homes for the Brave for many years. The Assembly also supports the American Wheelchair Mission through fundraisers which raise much-needed funds to purchase wheelchairs for children and adults who do not have wheelchairs. Over the years, Treasurer Tom Kelty Sr. has been known to run raffles to help raise money for these wheelchairs. Some of the charities Assembly 118 support are: Malta House, Merton House, Military Chaplains Scholarship Fund, American Legion, Homes for the Brave, American Wheelchair Mission and all the parishes of Fairfield Conn.

It is really a team effort. Officers Tom Langdon and Andrew Geisert help handle all the financial reporting and requirements while Trustee Jim Dobson helps with the coordination and publicity for all events.

Assembly 118 also dedicates itself to spreading patriotism throughout the community.  Sir Knight of the Year 2019 Terry Armstrong and the late Harry Ackley have helped collect and retire used and worn American Flags in a respectful manner. Some of the locations we have collected flags include: Holy Cross, Holy Family, and St. Emery Churches as well as the local Fairfield libraries.

On Flag Day and Veterans Day Ken Elwood, Bob Madar and Bob Elinskas hand out flags to families listening to patriotic music at the Fairfield town gazebo or to school children at St. Thomas Aquinas and Our Lady of Assumption Schools. Peter Mantilia, David Parise and Mark Drexel love to march in the Fairfield Memorial Day Parade. This past fall Patrick Colligan, Geo Crume and Tom Kelty Jr. also helped to remember those who lost their lives on September 11 by placing American Flags in front of Our Lady of Assumption, St. Pius X and St. Thomas Aquinas Churches over the 911 weekend.

Father McGivney started a fraternal organization open to all Catholic men regardless of their race, education, or economic status. The organization stands ready to help all people in need. Through the years the Knights of Columbus have helped publish the written works of Jewish and African Americans when no one else would publish their work. The Knights have helped families during destructive floods and hurricanes, pandemics and wars. The Knights help people here in America and around the world. All the members of Assembly 118 help volunteer in their own special way to help continue the work of Father McGivney.

(Interested in joining the team? Go to www.kofc.org and make a difference.)

By: Tom Kelty Jr. PFN

Pictued above Assembly 118 Color Corps members dressed in full regalia holding the Star Assembly Award and relic of Blessed Fr. Michael McGivney.

From Left to Right:  Jim Dobson, Andrew Geisert, Tom Kelty, Jr & Ken Elwood

This is Lidio da Silva. He and his wife, Marie, have three children, including one-year-old twins. The da Silva family are farmers who grow maize and beans in Timor Leste, which has the highest rate of child malnutrition in Asia. The lack of dietary diversity is one of the causes of this. To fight malnutrition, Catholic Relief Services offers a nutrition program in the country. Like any parent, Lidio and Marie want their children to have a healthy start to life. After attending the program, they changed what they eat as a family. In addition to eating what they grow, they now buy meat and fish once a month. When they have a little extra money, they purchase carrots, eggs, cassava, and pumpkin leaf from the market.

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

The clouds, gray and heavy, greeted us as we stepped onto the front porch Easter morning. I had hoped bright sunshine, the kind that would match the daffodils nodding in the lawn, would accompany us to Mass, but we found that brightness elsewhere. Christ had risen, bringing with Him a sense of hope and a promise of rebirth we seemed to need now more than ever.

A year ago, like so many others, we celebrated Mass in the family room, watching our priest consecrate the Eucharist on live-streamed TV instead of in person, sitting on the couch instead of in a pew, reciting prayers in isolation instead of in community. Though we told ourselves at the time it was better than nothing, a feeling of emptiness prevailed. Technology could never truly capture the essence of this holy day. This year would be different, we said as Easter approached again. It would. It had to be.

And it was. The white lilies and periwinkle hydrangeas on the altar, the lingering trace of incense in the air, and the sounds of the children’s choir created a feeling of welcome and, indeed, of peace that had been missing for over a year. Though we went to Mass outdoors in the car last summer and were grateful to attend the very socially-distanced vigil on Christmas Eve, this felt different. The symbolism of resurrection and renewal was not lost on any of us as we gathered together, but it was that gathering together that made it so different. We were all emerging from our own personal darkness and our own personal suffering of the past year, yearning to do just that – gather together – once again, with Easter as our backdrop.

“I love to see that the church is filled,” my daughter whispered. Filled? Not really, I thought. It couldn’t be – not yet. But it was. Not filled to capacity with parishioners, but filled with the hope and the joy of all that Christ’s resurrection means to us. The excited waves from across the pews, the bright smiles (even behind the masks), and the occasional embrace confirmed what our priest said during his homily: “We’re here, and this is where we are supposed to be.” As we bore witness to the suffering of the past year, we now see the promise in the rebirth of our lives, accompanied by the smiles of our friends reflected in our own gratitude. Such a blessing.

And as we exited the church, another blessing greeted us – bright sunshine, the kind that matched the daffodils nodding in the churchyard.

By Emily Clark