Articles By: John Grosso

Racism is Ignorance

The below is a Reflection by Rev. William F. Platt, The Parish of St. Catherine of Siena and St. Agnes

In the end, racism is ignorance. It is an ignorance that could be dispelled if permitted. It is an ignorance that is both intellectual and emotional. It is an ignorance that becomes fear, and that fear becomes hatred. It is evil.

I grew up in Trumbull CT. Trumbull is much like Greenwich, except far less affluent. My family belonged to the Country Club, had a boat and a swimming pool – though “above ground.” We went skiing almost every weekend during the winter, and boating almost every weekend during the summer. It was a beautiful life. It was also incredibly insular.

I attended a Catholic High School. There were three or four African American students who attended, but they were all boys, no girls. The common understanding was that they had been recruited for sport scholarships. They sat at different lunch tables, and attended different parties. We were all friends, but in a very different manner. Everyone was kind, but we were “kindly” separate.

College was pretty much the same. It wasn’t until I went to the Seminary at the North American College in Rome, that I actually had a Black friend. I was 23. He was more than a few years older. He had been a successful attorney in Washington DC, and I admired that he left his practice to enter the seminary. I’ll never forget the first conversation that I had with him. We were on our “Cappuccino Break” between classes, rough life I know, and I introduced myself. We started up a conversation. There was a lag in the conversation, and I said: “so, how long has your family been Catholic?” Without hesitation and with a smile he said, “probably longer than yours.” He was right. My paternal grandfather was a Methodist, his Catholicism dated all the way back to early slavery. Being “Black and a Roman Catholic” didn’t fit my “world view.” Blacks were Baptists. I remember looking down and being embarrassed (which we now laugh about), and saying, “well there is a lot for you to teach me.”

Eddie was ordained a few years later in Washington DC. He wanted me to be an active part of his ordination. When I told my mother that I would be with Eddie’s family for the week in Virginia Beach, she said, “do you really think that is prudent?” I said, “what?” She went on to explain, which made matters even worse. I was confused. She loved Eddie, always welcomed him into our home, always supported civil rights. I couldn’t believe the reasons that she was giving for me not to stay in his home with his family. It made no sense. What was truly startling was that I couldn’t reason with her. She was convinced that I shouldn’t stay with Eddie’s family simply because they were Black.

I stayed with Eddie’s family for the week. Going out for a jog my first morning, Eddie’s mom stopped me and said, “Where are you going?” I said, “out for a jog.” She smiled and said “which way?” I said, “I don’t know.” She said, “well, if you pass from the black neighborhood to the white neighborhood, you’ll be noticed.” I smiled and said, “Because of my incredible good looks?” She smiled and said, “go jog, but you’ll be noticed, trust me.” This was 1985.

Love conquers all. Racism is ignorance.

Bishop Invites Faithful To Pray Rosary in the Summer

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano invites the faithful to join together on Sundays and Tuesdays in the Summer to pray the Rosary as we pray for an end to the pandemic and for our country.

According to Dr. Patrick Donovan, Director of the diocesan Leadership Institute, there will be many opportunities to connect to the prayer gathering. Options for joining include Zoom, YouTube Live, or by Phone.

Earlier this year, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, announced that the U.S. bishops will join the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on May 1 in consecrating the two nations to the care of the Blessed Mother under the title “Mary, Mother of the Church.”

“This will give the church the occasion to pray for Our Lady’s continued protection of the vulnerable, healing of the unwell and wisdom for those who work to cure this terrible virus,” said Archbishop Gomez in a letter to the U.S. bishops. Each year, the church seeks the special intercession of the Mother of God during the month of May.

“This year, we seek the assistance of Our Lady all the more earnestly as we face together the effects of the global pandemic,” he said.

This consecration reaffirms the bishops’ previous consecrations of the United States to Mary.

To join via Zoom (link active at 7:30 pm):

To view on YouTube:

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

We cannot stand silent before any form of hatred

As the nation reels from the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the protests and rioting that have followed, we must once again confront the evil of systemic racism, bigotry, and discrimination in our country.

As people of faith we are outraged to see a video in which an African American man is killed before our eyes—an incident that unfortunately has become all too familiar in the past few years. Such an act calls all people of conscience to work tirelessly for justice and to seek true change, which is badly needed in the face of a recurring pattern of violence that needs to be addressed on multiple institutional levels. The death of George Floyd is the latest wake-up call that we must answer with honesty and a spirit of dialogue and genuine conversion.

As Catholics, we value and defend every human life because every person is made in the image and likeness of God. As it is stated clearly in the USCCB Pastoral Letter against Racism, Open Wide Our Hearts, “As bishops, we unequivocally state that racism is a life issue.” This means that we are obligated to fearlessly proclaim the Church’s teachings that any ideology that advocates racism and bigotry is a grave sin against the dignity of the human person and the divine mandate to love our neighbor as ourselves. To live in any way contrary to this divine command is a betrayal of the Gospel.

It is also imperative that we condemn violence in all its forms as a moral betrayal of the Gospel. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.” As a nation, we must address the legitimate concerns being raised in protest and find peaceful ways to resolve them as quickly as we can.

Time and again, we are confronted with the sobering reality that although we have made significant strides in this country towards equality, that there are still significant societal structures that perpetuate racism. These structures must be reformed before any lasting healing and progress can occur.

The Truth of Jesus Christ has no room for racism, no tolerance for bigotry, and no place for hatred. You and I must courageously challenge people who perpetuate such hateful ideas. We must work to reform the structures that continue to repress our brothers and sisters. We must build bridges of mutual respect and trust in our society, so that we can move forward together as one family in Christ.

We cannot stand silent before any form of hatred, because to remain silent is to condone it.

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

Our Common Moral Obligation to Protect Human Life

As our Diocese continues its second phase planning to reopen our church buildings for the public celebration of Mass, it may be helpful to recall the prime reason why the Diocese mandated that such public celebrations be temporarily suspended. Given all the misinformation that exists in the media, we must never forget that the decision was rooted in a commitment to remain faithful to a central tenet of our Catholic faith.

The grave reason that motivated the suspension of public Mass was our commitment to the central Catholic belief in the sanctity of every human life and our common moral obligation to protect human life. When it became clear that the passing of the COVID-19 virus often occurs by asymptomatic persons sharing regular human contact, time was needed to understand how such infections occur, the best ways to avoid passing the contagion, all the while maintaining as much of the public practice of the faith as was prudent and still protecting human life- especially the elderly and sick in our midst. In the last eight weeks, we have made much progress in this regard, allowing us to begin the resumption of public worship in a prudent and gradual manner.

More specifically, the decision was never based on any debate about whether our Catholic faith and its practice is “essential”. For anyone who believes, this issue is not debatable. The practice of our faith is at the heart of who we are. The Eucharist sustains our daily life and temporarily to suspend its public celebration could only be justified by a grave, moral cause. Recognizing the great pain that was caused by the suspension, our churches have remained open for private prayer, Eucharistic adoration and the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance. To be clear, the practice of our Catholic faith is essential and necessary for our personal salvation as revealed by our Savior and Redeemer.

The good news is that the celebration of public Mass has begun in our Diocese outdoors, in a manner that every health official considers the safest venue in which to congregate, following social distancing rules. While this is a first step forward, we are all anxious to be able to resume the public celebration of Masses in our churches as well. To this end, we will soon make a public announcement about how and when we can reopen our church buildings

I am grateful for your patience, prayers, and understanding during these difficult months. I very much understand and appreciate the great sorrow and loss felt by many. However, my friends, let us remember that our common sacrifice had one prime motive: to follow the mandate of the Lord of Life to protect, defend, and keep safe every human life.

For if we failed to protect human life during this pandemic, how can we ever hope to convert our society to end the culture of death and to recognize and protect every human life?

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

A Fatima Birthday Surprise for a Bridgeport Legend

BRIDGEPORT- Family, Friends and Bridgeport City Council representatives gathered at St. Augustine Cathedral earlier this February to honor and celebrate a one of a kind Bridgeport legend and beloved native son Mr. Frank D’Ausilio, on his 85th Birthday milestone. The extraordinary day (2/27/2020) was full of amazing surprises!

Frank D’Ausilio is a true Catholic superstar layman.  He has lived during the most eventful century of this world’s history, in his quiet optimistic way, dedicated to his Catholic faith, family and friends.  Frank has demonstrated in countless ways his dedication as a Bridgeport Community Advocate and Mentor to the welfare of others and has earned the respect and affection of people from all walks of life and all ages during his long and productive lifetime.

For over 40 years, Frank D’Ausilio served with dedication as Head Custodian at the Bridgeport Police Department Headquarters, St. Vincent’s Medical Center, and the Cathedral Parish. He has been very active and a supporter of “Swim across the Sound” and a Marian Volunteer assisting nursing home and hospital patients.  Frank is also a long time member of 52 years in the Knights of Columbus Global Fraternity Service Organization and 23 years in the Holy Spirit Fraternity Secular Franciscan Order.  His Catholic faith has guided him throughout his entire life and he has learned to seek truth through his many years of pilgrimages traveling to holy sites where he prays with various Christian communities near and far.

Beginning in 1960 through the 1970’s Frank D’Ausilio along with fellow Catholic champion and mentor Dr. Joseph Fida DDS traveled throughout the Bridgeport and Hartford Dioceses with a blessed life-sized personal replica of a Pilgrim Statue of Our Dear Lady of Fatima from Portugal.  The inspiring message they brought forth to all parishes and hospital patients was one of FAITH, HOPE, MERCY, LOVE, and PEACE which produced good fruit that helped thousands of people heal spiritually and physically.

 On the festive birthday occasion a spectacular guest of honor arrived at St. Augustine Parish, the original 1972 New York State Travelling Pilgrim Fatima.  Frank D’Ausilio and all of the parishioners were overjoyed and moved by the loving tribute in the presence of Our Dear Lady of Fatima.  In thanksgiving, heartfelt prayers were offered which included the most holy rosary, litanies, Marian hymns, and a procession inside the Parish led by Reverend Fr. Michael Novajosky.

The 85th Birthday Mass of joyful celebration was a slice of Heaven on Earth presided by Reverend Fr. Michael Novajosky, Cathedral Director along with a superb and multi-talented angelic choir performance orchestrated by Dr. Sam Schmitt, Musical Director Extraordinaire.  After the conclusion of the Holy Mass, Mr. Frank D’Ausilio humbly accepted a lifetime achievement proclamation award on his 85th Birthday from a City Council Representative on behalf of Honorable Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim who expressed congratulations and best wishes.

Reverend Dr. Herron Gaston, Assistant Chief Administrator for the Office of Mayoral Leadership and Chaplain of the Bridgeport Police Department said that Frank D’Ausilio radiates a joyful loving spirit and has found peace, faith, clarity, and strength in the church community. “He truly is a witness of the Light of CHRIST, the Grace of GOD, and the Spirit of TRUTH through his Catholic faith.  Congratulations Mr. Frank D’Ausilio, a true Bridgeport Treasurer as  I am honored to celebrate with family and friends and do hereby proclaim on behalf of Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim, Thursday, February 27, 2020, as “Frank D’Ausilio Day.

At the conclusion of the recognition award ceremony, Fr. Michael Novajosky graciously thanked Reverend Dr. Herron Gaston and on behalf of Bishop Frank Caggiano presented him with a beautifully impressive full-color classic statue of St. Michael, the Archangel, the Greatest Warrior of Heaven and Earth for the Office of Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim.

Fr. Michael Novajosky said that under the leadership of Bishop Frank Caggiano all parishes have been encouraged to recite daily the powerful St. Michael prayer and after each Mass invokes special protection for the intentions of the Bridgeport Community.

Frank D’Ausilio was gifted with an exquisite hand-carved statue of Our Lady of Fatima from Portugal and humbly extended a heartfelt thank you to all family, friends, and city officials gathered.  He shared with a twinkling smile and infectious laugh, “that he is a blessed man and what a great honor it was to accompany Our Lady of Fatima with Dr. Joseph Fida.”

The final birthday surprise was held in the rectory of St. Augustine that included a celebration luncheon and a favorite treat of Frank, a cannoli filled birthday cake.

Written by Cindy Lucignano

St. Catherine of Siena Collects Donations to Support Three Area Food Banks

TRUMBULL—On a picture-perfect spring morning, an enthusiastic crew of volunteers from the Parish of St. Catherine of Siena wearing face masks and gloves welcomed more than 150 cars to a contact-free Drive Through Food Drive to support the Trumbull Food Pantry, Blessed Sacrament Parish in Bridgeport, and the Thomas Merton Center in Bridgeport, all of which are experiencing extraordinary need right now.  Through the generosity of St. Catherine’s parishioners, the May 2 effort raised more than $3,000 in cash donations and food donations overflowed from nearly 100 feet of tables.

“Demand for food at Thomas Merton Center has skyrocketed since the COVID-19 crisis began, which is now serving nearly 500 meals daily, up from 150 per day at this time last year. Some of these meals we are delivering to clients of other Bridgeport non-profits, including homeless shelters who don’t have food resources,” said Mike Donoghue, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County.  Mr. Donoghue extends a very special thank you to Dan & Kelly Murphy, Parishioners of St. Catherine’s who organized the event, the many volunteers who helped remove food from cars and deliver it to the food banks, as well as everyone who drove through with donations on Saturday.

Father Joseph Marcello, Pastor of St. Catherine of Siena, reflects that “Many families who came to help were wearing masks.  They had big smiles under their masks, which I could see in their eyes, as they were here because they wanted to help.  It’s attributed to St. Francis of Assisi that it is in giving that we receive.” He continues: “We don’t know who the recipients of this food will be other than that they are hungry and in need.  And we know that not one of those cars would have come on that day had it not been for Jesus Christ, who came so that we might have life, and have it more abundantly.”

Mr. Donoghue noted that “Our clients are hourly workers who have recently lost jobs, immigrants, homeless, or mentally ill individuals struggling to make ends meet. Please know how grateful we are for your help and support! Catholic Charities programs are a partnership with all the generous and caring faithful of our Diocese. Thank you for helping us treat every human being, especially those who are most vulnerable, with the love and respect they deserve!”

If you missed the event and would like to help, financial contributions for this purpose are still welcome. The Social Justice and Charitable Outreach Committee is using all financial donations to buy food which will be divided equally among the three food banks. Please mail your contribution for this purpose to 220 Shelton Road, Trumbull CT 06611.  Make your check payable to St. Catherine of Siena, and write FOOD BANKS in the memo line.

Plans for a second event are already in the works.

The Drive Through Food Drive was organized by St. Catherine’s Social Justice and Charitable Outreach team, led by Salvatore Spadaccino. Other initiatives that the Social Justice & Charitable Outreach Team has worked on include: toiletry drive, school backpack drive, Thanksgiving food drive, annual Parish giving tree, pro-life baby shower, and more. For more information on the Social Justice and Charitable Outreach ministry at St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull, contact Salvatore Spadaccino, Coordinator for Social Justice and Charitable Outreach, at

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.

Christ’s Victory is Absolute

Yesterday we celebrated the Octave of Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday. It concludes an extraordinary week in the Church’s annual celebration of the Pascal Mystery of the Lord’s Resurrection. Let us consider its uniqueness and what it can teach us.

There are two interesting facts about the liturgy of last week that we can easily overlook. First, all the days of last week can be considered to be a single day. In other words, the one day of Easter extends over eight days in which to celebrate it! It is for this reason that each of these days is a Solemnity of the Lord, having precedence over every other celebration that would ordinarily fall on these days. In short, the importance of what happened on Easter morning is so great that it needs eight days in which to celebrate the single day of Easter.

It is also important to remember that the Easter season extends for 50 days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday. During this season, 40 days after Easter Sunday, we celebrate the Lord’s Ascension into Heaven. It is an extended period of celebration in which we are asked to consider what it means to be a community of faith built upon the apostolic witness of the Lord’s death and Resurrection. Prominent in this reflection is the Acts of the Apostles, which is proclaimed as the First Reading of each Mass in this season. I highly recommend that a prayerful reflection upon this inspired book of Scripture written by Saint Luke can be a source of great spiritual fruitfulness for you and me.

Even though we are still observing a time of confinement in our homes, the joy of Easter is a gift that the Risen Lord still wishes to give us. His victory over sin, suffering, disease, and death is absolute and offered to us through His grace. Let us not lose our focus on the meaning of this season in the midst of our struggles, for by the Lord’s death and Resurrection, we have been set free.

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

Pope announces extraordinary Urbi et Orbi blessing

At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis invited all Christians to join together in praying the Our Father as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

By Christopher Wells, Vatican News Service

Pope Francis on Sunday called for all Christians to respond to the coronavirus pandemic “with the universality of prayer, of compassion, of tenderness”, adding, “Let us remain united. Let us make our closeness felt toward those persons who are the most lonely and tried”.

Speaking after the traditional recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father called on all Christians to join together in prayer. “In these trying days, while humanity trembles due to the threat of the pandemic, I would like to propose to all Christians that together we lift our voices towards Heaven,” he said.

The “Our Father” on the Annunciation

On Wednesday, 25 March, the feast of the Annunciation, he has invited “the Heads of the Churches and the leaders of every Christian community, together with all Christians of the various confessions, to invoke the Almighty, the omnipotent God, to recite at the same time the prayer that Jesus, our Lord, taught us” – the Our Father. “On that day  on which many  Christians recall the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary of the Incarnation of the Word”, Pope Francis prayed, “may the Lord listen to the united prayer of all of His disciples who are preparing themselves to celebrate the victory of the Risen Christ”.

A special Urbi et Orbi blessing

The Pope also announced that on the following Friday, 27 March, he will preside over a moment of prayer on the sagrato of St Peter’s Basilica, the platform at the top of the steps immediately in front of the façade of the Church. “I invite everyone to participate spiritually through the means of communication”, he said.

The ceremony will consist in readings from the Scriptures, prayers of supplication, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; and will conclude with Pope Francis giving the Urbi et orbi Blessing, with the possibility of gaining a plenary indulgence for all those who listen to it live through the various forms of communication. The blessing “to the City [of Rome] and to the World” is normally only given on Christmas and Easter.

The Director of the Holy See Press Office confirmed that the moment of prayer on Friday will be broadcast live from the Vatican, beginning at 6 pm Rome time. He noted that the plenary indulgence attached to the Urbi et orbi blessing is subject to the conditions foreseen by the recent Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

Bishop Frank’s Letter to the Faithful

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Who among us could have imagined just a few months ago that our global society would be confronting such a crisis as the Coronavirus pandemic? In these days, who does not feel our collective vulnerability and personal frailty? This is a time when fear and even panic can overtake us, in part because we have far more questions than answers.  As Christians, we must resist such fears. Rather, we must respond with prudent actions rooted in charity for our neighbor, seeking to protect the most vulnerable among us, heeding the recommendations that have been mandated by civil authorities and to plead for God’s mercy that this scourge will end quickly and that the lives of our sisters and brothers throughout the world will be spared.

In Matthew 8:23-27, we recall the day when the apostles sailing in their boat were suddenly caught in the middle of a great storm that threatened their survival. Their immediate reaction was one of fear and panic. Yet, when they called upon the Lord, He heard their pleas and commanded the winds and the waves to be still. My friends, this is our time, in the middle of a great storm, to cast away our fears, turn to the Lord and to ask for His grace.

In order to protect the lives of the faithful and our priests, I took the extraordinary measure to temporarily suspend public Masses in our diocese. I understand the deep spiritual hardship that this absence has created in the minds and hearts of many. Yet, recognizing that our Churches have served as places of refuge in times of need, we will do all that is possible to see that our Churches remain safely open for private prayer, for Exposition of the Eucharist, and to serve as places to seek solace with the Lord.

I also invite you to use this time we now spend at home to prepare more diligently for the celebration of the Easter Mysteries.  Personally, I have begun to pray the Stations of the Cross each day, since they powerfully remind me that the Lord always walks with us, helping us to carry our own personal crosses.

In my conversations with our priests and people in the past weeks, I am humbled to see their resolve, goodness and readiness to help all those in need. Please be assured that you are remembered in my prayers as I ask for your prayers during this difficult time. We will get through this together and continue the work of renewal in our lives.

As Christians we know that suffering will always be a part of our life. We understand and accept this mystery at the foot of the Cross of Christ. Yet we also know that the Lord suffered and died so that we might live and share in His victory over fear, suffering, and death itself. We are never alone in our sufferings. Christ is here to lead us along paths unknown to victory and life.

This is the time to do as Jesus commanded: to be brave despite fear, to be sensitive and responsive to the needs of others, and to pray. Especially pray. The health and life of so many now hang in the balance. Pray for miracles both medical and spiritual. Pray for the conversion of many hearts. Pray for an end to this scourge in our midst. Pray that the Lord will see us to safety and renewed life. In Him.

Entrusting each one of you to the loving care of our Blessed Mother, I am

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano

Bishop of Bridgeport


Our Lady, Salvation of the Roman People

GREENWICH- Pastors from all over the Diocese of Bridgeport are issuing pastoral letters and reflections to their faithful in this time of trial. One Pastor, Fr. La Pastina of St. Mary Parish in Greenwich, issued the following statement to his parishioners on the Parish Facebook page.

“I thought I would give you a closer view of the image I mentioned at the end of the Rosary tonight. It is a copy of the miraculous image of Our Lady called “Salus Populi Romani” or the Salvation of the Roman People. The original is in a side chapel of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome. The image got its name because in the 6th century Pope Gregory I carried the icon in procession through the streets of Rome begging the Virgin to end a plague. Our Lady granted the prayers of the Holy Father and the people of Rome. Since then the image has become the center of Marian devotion in the Eternal City.

It was to this same Church that Pope Francis went in pilgrimage yesterday to pray before Salus Populi Romani to protect Rome, Italy and the rest of the world.

I purchased this copy shortly after my ordination. I had the privilege of offering Mass before the sacred image and when I left the basilica some religious sisters across the street had this hand-painted copy in the window. I purchased it and took it back into the Church to bless on the same altar where the original hangs.

Let us continue to beg the Mother of God who is our mother as well, to protect us from harm and bring us closer to her Son!”

God bless you and protect you,
Father La Pastina

Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled: A Message from Fr. Dunn

DANBURY- Pastors from all over the Diocese of Bridgeport are issuing pastoral letters to their faithful in this time of trial. One Pastor, Fr. Dunn of St. Gregory the Great Parish in Danbury, issued the following statement to his parishioners on the Parish Facebook page.

Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled!

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Immediately after the horrific and tragic events on 9/11, a man working in one of the towers that morning barely managed to escape with his life. Covered in debris and ashes, he hopped on a train and returned to his hometown of Weston CT, before New York City was shut down. He didn’t go straight to his house but to his church, St. Francis of Assisi, my last parish. There he wept and prayed, both thankful and devasted by the events. After he left the church, the evidence that he was there remained- that is ashen footprints down the center aisle to the foot of the cross.

So too with many others, the terrible events from 9/11, led to a return to God and His Church. Churches were filled with those wanting to pray and find peace. Sunday Mass attendance surged and Confessionals were busy. The events of 9/11 reminded us that God is capable of bringing good even out of the greatest evils- as he did through his own suffering and death on the cross. The sad thing is that the return to God and His Church didn’t last long, perhaps only a couple of weeks. The surge in faith ended. For most people life went back to normal- life went on as it did before 9/11.

With the danger of the coronavirus and the drastic changes in our lifestyle now, many are feeling anxious and afraid. Perhaps we know someone with the virus, are fearful for our elderly parents, are separated from loved ones, worried about the economy, or currently losing a good portion of our normal income. It is exactly at this time that Jesus tells us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, have faith in God and in me.” This change in lifestyle that we are all experiencing at this time, although difficult, presents us with an opportunity to return to God- to pray and deepen our relationship with Him. Our God and His words can comfort and console us like nothing else in this world can. With God, we have nothing to fear, nothing to be afraid of. With Him at our side, not a hair on our heads will be harmed. Let us use this time to grow in our faith and love of God- for therein lies our peace and joy. St. Paul understood this well as he said, “Everything works out for the good, for those that love God.” This is the message that not only we can embrace at this time, but seek to encourage others and our children to do so as well.

This virus didn’t come from God, nor is he punishing our world, for God is not the author of anything bad or evil. However, he may very well be using this virus to capture the world’s attention- to let us know that we are not in charge, He is. He may want the world to know that He is the one God of us all, we are all his sons and daughters, that He deeply loves us all, and wishes for the world to return to Him. Let us use this time to join in prayer with all the faithful in our world. Let us pray for the conversion of the world and that the world may give God his proper place, the highest place, above anyone or anything else.

Please know that I as your Pastor, am continuing to think of and pray for you in this unusual and trying time. I and Fr. Ford are offering Mass daily for your protection, health, and peace. May the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary our Mother, be with you and protect you. May we place our trust in the great mercy and love of our God, a love that knows no bounds or limits.

God Loves you,
Rev. Michael L. Dunn

Bishop Issues Sacramental Guidelines During Crisis

BRIDGEPORT– In a letter to priests issued today (March 18th), Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has updated sacramental guidelines and practices in response to the Coronavirus crisis. He offers further instructions and suggestions regarding the pastoral care of parishioners during this unique period of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis.

These directives take into consideration the March 16th order of Governor Lamont that in-person gatherings in the State of Connecticut must be less than 50 people, as well as the Bishop’s concern for the wellbeing of the clergy and lay faithful of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Eucharistic Adoration

Although no public Masses are currently being offered in the Diocese, the Bishop said it is important that churches, as much as possible, remain open during some portion of the day so that the lay faithful are given the opportunity to pray before the Blessed Sacrament and spend some time in quiet meditation. Most especially during this unsettling time, the Bishop wants parishioners to remain in close contact with Christ in the Eucharist and with their parish. 

He has asked each parish to offer Eucharistic Adoration on the Sundays when Mass is not available. Weekday Eucharistic Adoration is also permitted. Exposition will be simple and not include hymns or Benediction. Each individual Pastor will determine the scheduling and feasibility. The bishop recommends that parishes provide this opportunity for a suitable period of time each Sunday afternoon. Pastors must monitor attendance and make sure that the number of adorers present is less than 50 persons at one time.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation

 Recognizing that a time of crisis can also be a time of personal conversion, it is our obligation to continue to provide the Sacrament of Reconciliation to those who request it. The Bishop has directed that parishes maintain their regular hours for Confession to the extent possible, but communal penance services are not permitted and, if already scheduled, will be cancelled.

An abundance of caution should be used when administering the Sacrament. Therefore, because they cannot be properly and uniformly disinfected after each individual Confession, the use of confessionals for the Sacrament of Reconciliation is not permitted. Pastors are to designate another open space where Confessions can be heard.

Whatever configuration is used, Pastors should ensure that penitents have the option of confessing anonymously or face-to-face and that a distance of 6 feet (as recommended by the CDC) is maintained between the priest and penitent. One option, for example, is for priests to place themselves with their back toward the entrance door and set up two chairs, one behind them and one in front of them so that both options are available to the penitent. In such circumstances, Pastors should make arrangements to ensure that privacy is maintained.

In order to maintain uniformity and clarity, the Bishop has asked pastors to create signs in the vestibule of the church (or wherever the Sacrament of Reconciliation will be offered) providing the information above and also instructing penitents to wait their turn for Confession in a way that avoids a line and leaves ample space between them and other penitents.

However, under no circumstances may any Confession be heard via telephone, the internet or any social media platforms. Confession of sins must always take place in person.

Because of the large crowds, it has attracted over the past three years, Reconciliation Monday, scheduled for April 6th from 3:00 PM to 9:00 PM, is cancelled. Please inform your parishioners of this in a timely manner.

General Absolution

The Bishop has forbidden the use of General Absolution.

Anointing of the Sick

As much as possible, priests are encouraged to administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick as needed. When doing so they should observe prudence and common sense. Specifically, Bishop Caggiano has asked that the following directives be followed:

  • If a person has been diagnosed with the Coronavirus or if there is reason to believe that a person could have been exposed to it, priests should not put themselves at risk of catching the virus by administering the Sacrament without the proper protective gear.
  • Those who have been diagnosed with Coronavirus and who are in hospitals or nursing homes should only be anointed by the trained priest chaplains of each institution, and only if they are permitted to do so by the administration and health care professionals at each hospital or nursing home;
  • For the time being, in accord with canon 1000 §2 of the Code of Canon Law, whenever priests are ministering to the sick, including providing the Anointing of the Sick, they should use latex gloves or, in the absence of gloves, cotton swabs.,
  • Older or vulnerable priests should refrain from providing the Sacrament or visiting the sick or homebound until the crisis is clearly over.

The diocese will continue to work with the chaplains of hospitals and nursing homes to develop more detailed protocols should they be necessary.

Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy Residence

Last week, out of concern for the retired priests who reside at Queen of the Clergy, Bishop Caggiano asked that no outside visitors except for health care personnel be permitted inside the building. Also, for the last several weeks the staff at Queen of the Clergy has been extra diligent in cleaning and disinfecting the Residence regularly and wearing protective masks and gloves when serving the needs of the priests.

Effective today, Bishop Caggiano has asked the residents of Queen of the Clergy for the next three weeks to remain inside as much as possible and to exit the building only for exercise or for essential appointments, such as visits to the doctor, banking or essential shopping. Furthermore, any residents in the building who must leave and reenter the building regularly for any reason have been asked to temporarily relocate during this period.

Other Information

The Connecticut March for Life, scheduled for Wednesday, April 15th, has been cancelled. The date for the 2021 March will be announced soon.

“Thank you for your continued patience and cooperation during this crisis. We continue to place our trust in Jesus, the Divine Physician, through the loving hands of Our Blessed Mother, and to pray for an end to this illness,” said the Bishop.

Unexpected time with the Lord

One of the unexpected consequences of the need for us to shelter at home and avoid all social gatherings is having a great deal of unstructured time in what is usually the busiest times of the year. For me, given my very busy pace of life, it is quite jarring to have so much time is now free from travel and ministerial obligations. I woke up this morning and asked myself: how can I best use this free time? Perhaps you have asked yourself the same question.

At a minimum, we now have extra time to spend in prayer each day- prayer that is sorely needed to seek eternal repose for the dead, to remember those who are sick and living in great fear, our health care workers who remain on the front lines of this disease, and for one another. We may never again have a Lenten season that affords us so much time to give to the Lord. Let us use this time wisely and well.

I would also suggest that you and I can revisit our Lenten promises and see if there are other things that we can do in our homes to prepare our minds and hearts for the celebration of the Paschal Mystery. For my part, I have added the daily practice of the Stations of the Cross, which gives me great comfort and consolation. To meditate on the Lord’s passion and death each day by praying the Stations reminds me that He is here with us, in this hour of suffering and fear. He will walk with us as we carry our own crosses, especially in this time of uncertainty.

We will be facing many challenges in the weeks ahead. However, we now have an unexpected time to spend with the Lord. It is a gift that we should not waste.

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