Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

Articles By: John Grosso

Lent is time to grow in faith, hope, love, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As Christians pray, fast and give alms during Lent, they also should consider giving a smile and offering a kind word to people feeling alone or frightened because of the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis said.

“Love rejoices in seeing others grow. Hence it suffers when others are anguished, lonely, sick, homeless, despised or in need,” the pope wrote in his message for Lent 2021.

The message, released by the Vatican Feb. 12, focuses on Lent as “a time for renewing faith, hope and love” through the traditional practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. And, by going to confession.

Throughout the message, Pope Francis emphasized how the Lenten practices not only promote individual conversion, but also should have an impact on others.

“By receiving forgiveness in the sacrament that lies at the heart of our process of conversion, we in turn can spread forgiveness to others,” he said. “Having received forgiveness ourselves, we can offer it through our willingness to enter into attentive dialogue with others and to give comfort to those experiencing sorrow and pain.”

The pope’s message contained several references to his encyclical “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship.”

For example, he prayed that during Lent Catholics would be “increasingly concerned with ‘speaking words of comfort, strength, consolation and encouragement, and not words that demean, sadden, anger or show scorn,’” a quote from the encyclical.

“In order to give hope to others, it is sometimes enough simply to be kind, to be ‘willing to set everything else aside in order to show interest, to give the gift of a smile, to speak a word of encouragement, to listen amid general indifference,’” he said, again quoting the document.

The Lenten practices of fasting, almsgiving and prayer were preached by Jesus and continue to help believers experience and express conversion, the pope wrote.

“The path of poverty and self-denial” through fasting, “concern and loving care for the poor” through almsgiving and “childlike dialogue with the Father” through prayer, he said, “make it possible for us to live lives of sincere faith, living hope and effective charity.”

Pope Francis emphasized the importance of fasting “as a form of self-denial” to rediscover one’s total dependence on God and to open one’s heart to the poor.

“Fasting involves being freed from all that weighs us down — like consumerism or an excess of information, whether true or false — in order to open the doors of our hearts to the one who comes to us, poor in all things, yet full of grace and truth: the son of God our savior.”

Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, presenting the message at a news conference, also insisted on the importance of “fasting and all forms of abstinence,” for example, by giving up “time watching TV so we can go to church, pray or say a rosary. It is only through self-denial that we discipline ourselves to be able to take the gaze off ourselves and to recognize the other, reckon with his needs and thus create access to benefits and goods for people,” ensuring respect for their dignity and rights.

Msgr. Bruno-Marie Duffe, secretary of the dicastery, said that at a time of “anxiety, doubt and sometimes even despair” because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lent is a time for Christians “to walk the way with Christ toward a new life and a new world, toward a new trust in God and in the future.”

Legatus names Bishop Frank International Chaplain

ANN ARBOR – Legatus International has named Bishop Frank J. Caggiano as its International Chaplain. Headquartered in Ann Arbor, MI, Legatus is an international membership organization of Catholic CEOs and presidents who have committed to study, live, and spread the Catholic faith. In his new role, Caggiano succeeds Bishop Sam Jacobs, Bishop Emeritus of Houma-Thibodeaux, who served from 2010–2020.

As International Chaplain, Caggiano begins a five-year term in which he is charged with overseeing the theological content of Legatus programs, providing guidance to chapter chaplains, and helping members advance spiritually. The International Chaplain is an ex-officio member of the Legatus International Board of Governors. Under Caggiano’s care is the entire Legatus organization which includes over 100 chapters throughout the United States and Canada and comprises 5,000+ members. 

Caggiano has long been connected to Legatus having celebrated Masses at the organization’s biannual Summit and its New York City Gala. The Bishop is also a steadfast supporter of the Legatus Fairfield County Chapter (CT) which chartered under his guidance in November 2016. At his January 2021 meeting with Legatus chapter chaplains, Caggiano encouraged his fellow chaplains, “We are now living in a missionary country and Legatus members are poised to be very effective missionaries through their witness of life and as messengers of salvation. I am looking forward to working with you to serve our chapters and members as they rise to the call of heroic holiness.”

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Legatus has continued to experience growth, chartering new chapters in Albany, Ft. Lauderdale, and Miami in 2020. Legatus Executive Director, Stephen M. Henley, is enthusiastic as the organization embraces the coming year with Caggiano, “Legatus is blessed to have Bishop Caggiano as International Chaplain, empowering our chapters and members with Christian ethics and values as they navigate the mission field as ambassadors for Christ in the marketplace.” 

Founded 34 years ago by entrepreneur and Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas S. Monaghan, Legatus is focused on the commission which Pope St. John Paul II gave to the organization in 1988: “The world needs genuine witnesses to Christian ethics in the field of business and the Church asks you to fulfill this role publicly with courage and perseverance.” By living out the Faith in their business, professional and personal lives, Legatus members represent
a powerful lay ministry in the New Evangelization and in the building up of the Body of Christ in accord with the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church.

Diocese welcomes expanded capacity order

BRIDGEPORT—The State of Connecticut has removed the cap of 100 people for indoor religious gatherings, making it possible for larger churches in the diocese to expand their capacity at each celebration of the Mass.

Governor Ned Lamont issued Executive Order No. 10 on Thursday, February 4, removing the previous cap of 100 people for indoor religious gatherings. Under the modification of the state mandate, restrictions on religious gatherings have been eased to permit indoor capacity of up to—but not to exceed—50 percent.

In a memo to all priests, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano welcomed the modifications and emphasized that the easing of restrictions must be accompanied by maintaining existing safety protocols including wearing masks and providing seating that observes recommended social distancing—six feet of space in all directions between individuals or groups not from the same household during a liturgical celebration.

While larger churches in the diocese will be able to include more people at Mass, smaller church structures will likely not benefit from the expanded capacity change because they lack the space for adequate social distancing between pews.

The bishop said that in effect, this change means that every Church building will have its own, specific “maximum” capacity number dependent upon the actual seating capacity of the building. For most parishes that can seat people in every other pew, maximum capacity will likely range between twenty and twenty-five percent because of the social distancing restrictions that remain in place.

“If we wish to be successful in our future attempts to invite more people to return to Sunday Mass, it is imperative that we do everything in our power to maintain the safety of our people,” said Bishop Caggiano as he thanked pastors and priests for their patience and cooperation.

The Connecticut Catholic Conference, representing the Catholic dioceses of the state, issued a statement welcoming the expanded capacity policy.

“We view this new lifting of the cap on attendance at worship as an important step forward welcoming back more of our faithful to Mass and the sacraments. Freedom of religion is the most sacred of our God-given and constitutional rights… At the same time, we remain firmly committed to ensuring that all steps are taken to promote public health and safety.”

The Catholic Conference statement pointed out that Infections and related problems in Catholic parishes have been minimal due to the commitment to safety and the hard work of all concerned.

Holy Hour for Vocations Rescheduled for January 27th

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TRUMBULL- Among the seminarians of the Diocese of Bridgeport, there is a long-standing tradition that takes place at mealtimes. Everyone stands at their chair and, as we say grace together before our meal, we begin with this prayer:

Father, in your plan for our salvation, you provide shepherds for your people. Give your church the spirit of courage and charity. Raise up worthy priests for your altars and ardent but gentle servants of the Gospel. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Perhaps one of the greatest myths about vocations to the priesthood is that they just simply happen. We don’t often think about where priests come from until God forbid, there is no priest there when we need them. But we must begin to think about and pray for vocations before that day ever comes. As Jesus reminds us in the Gospel, “the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few, so pray to the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest” (Luke 10:19).

On Wednesday, January 27th at 7:00 pm, faithful from around the Diocese will join Bishop Caggiano at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull to do just that: pray that the Lord sends an abundance of laborers to his vineyard in the Diocese of Bridgeport. During a time of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, we will pray that young men throughout our Diocese will be open to hearing the call that God has placed deep in their hearts to become the living instrument of His love and mercy that priests are formed to be. Perhaps more importantly, we will pray that God gives these young men the courage to echo the beautiful words of our Blessed Mother, “be it done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38)

Originally, the Holy Hour for Vocations was scheduled for early December but was postponed due to inclement weather.

There is no way around it: we need priests! So, we invite you to join us on the evening of January 27th to offer this time of prayer. Together, as the seminarians of our diocese have done each and every day, let us pray with fervent hearts that new shepherds may be raised up for the Church in Bridgeport.

Please observe all necessary social distancing requirements, and remember that masks are mandatory.

Pope Francis receives COVID-19 vaccine

The vaccination campaign against Covid-19 in the Vatican which began on Wednesday continues with both Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI receiving their first doses of the vaccine.

“I can confirm that as part of the vaccination program of the Vatican City State, as of today, the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine has been administered to Pope Francis and to the Pope Emeritus,” said Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See Press Office in response to journalists’ questions.

Pope Francis had announced during an interview with Italian television station Tg5 on Sunday that he planned to receive the vaccine this week.

The Pope referred to the vaccination as “an ethical action, because you are gambling with your health, you are gambling with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others.”

Private Secretary to Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, Bishop Georg Gaenswein, had also confirmed that the Pope emeritus would be vaccinated.

Story originally found on Vatican News.

Diocese releases Strategic Plan for Catholic Schools

BRIDGEPORT- The Diocese of Bridgeport has released the 2021-2024 Strategic Plan for Catholic Schools: “To Make All Things New.”

This strategic plan focuses on four strategic priorities including ensuring a vibrant Catholic identity,  fostering academic excellence,  and strengthening the operational vitality and financial stability of schools.

The report is the result of a three-year effort by the Strategic Plan Steering Committee composed of diocesan and non-diocesan leaders in areas of education, finance, marketing, and strategic planning who worked collaboratively with the school leadership and consulted with others throughout the diocese.

“My gratitude goes out to all who participated in the planning process and made this strategic plan possible. I am especially grateful to our Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Steven Cheeseman, and his team in the Office of the Superintendent, as well as the members of the Education Commission of the Diocese who spend countless hours supporting our schools with their expertise,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.

The diocesan school system includes 25 elementary and high schools that educate over 7,000 students throughout Fairfield County.

Among the recommendations made in the report is the creation of an Operational Support Network (OSN) to centralize and streamline certain administrative tasks across schools in the diocese, the development of financial and viability plans for all schools, the introduction of new governance models, and a yearly assessment of the Catholic identity in the schools.

“It is my belief that the successful implementation of this plan will lead to long term and systemic change. Through a re-allocation of resources, redistribution of leadership responsibilities, and a reimagining of the ways in which our schools carry out administrative and management functions, our hope is that we can remove much of the burden our school leaders shoulder so that they can focus on nurturing an ever-improving faith-filled academic program,” the bishop said.

Dr. Steven Cheeseman, Superintendent of Diocesan Catholic Schools, said the plan enables the schools to think strategically about their future while remaining student-centered and faith-focused.

“As we look to our future, we must challenge some of the fundamental assumptions under which we operate in order to meet the changing dynamics of our world. We need to ensure that schools can be nimble and agile, and that school-based leadership has the capacity to anticipate and envision the future, maintain flexibility, think strategically, and engage the broader community. Most importantly, as we think strategically about our future, we must always remain student-centered, and faith focused.

He said that as the schools move into the future, one of the biggest challenges remains the financial stability of the diocesan system as it is currently configured.

“With a concern that the true economic impact of the pandemic has not yet been fully revealed, we have to reexamine the financial health of our schools to reimagine how we share resources and services across schools, how we determine funding strategies given the financial strains of our families, and how we determine the number and location of schools needed in the system given demographic shift and community engagement,” Dr. Cheeseman said.

A realistic strategic plan for growth supports the entire diocesan school system and encourages further investment in schools challenged by demographics or other serious impediments, he said.

“The current educational, social, and economic realities represent the context within which this plan was written and require us to take bold action. It is against that backdrop that this strategic plan, To Make All Things New has been developed,” Dr. Cheeseman said.

The Strategic Planning Committee developed the To Make All Things New plan based on four fundamental guiding principles:

  1. Above all else, schools must be “Catholic First”
  2. Schools must provide academically superior educational programs
  3. Schools must demonstrate the vitality and financial stability
  4. Community stakeholders, including staff, parents, pastors, and board members must work collaboratively and engage the wider community in support of the school

The Strategic planning process was led by the Education Commission of the Diocese of Bridgeport who work collaboratively with the Superintendent to provide students with an academically rigorous education rooted in the Catholic faith and to ensure the future viability and vitality of our Catholic schools.

Click here to read the full strategic plan.

Bishop resumes Public Ministry after quarantine

BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has resumed public ministry after quarantining for more than ten days following an initial positive test for coronavirus.

“My friends, thank you for your prayers, for your concern, and your support these past few days.  I wish to share with you good news: my quarantine period is over, and with two negative COVID-19 tests, I am back in full swing,” the bishop said after receiving his second negative test for the virus.

“Thank you again for your prayers, and know of mine for you, for your families, and for an end to this pandemic.”

Throughout his quarantine, he did not experience any symptoms and continued to work. However, he followed CDC guidelines to safeguard the lives of others until testing proved it was safe for him to return.

The bishop said he is very grateful for the prayers and well wishes he received from many people across the diocese.  He also asks for prayers for all those who have lost a loved one and those who are currently afflicted with the virus.

Just after Christmas the Diocese announced that the bishop had tested positive for Covid-19 during his regular weekly test of December 28. Consistent with CDC guidelines, he immediately went into quarantine and pursued follow-up testing.

News of the positive test was posted on the diocesan website and quickly spread throughout the region. During his time in quarantine, the bishop received many messages of prayerful support from the faithful

The results of his follow-up tests (PCR and antibody) taken on Wednesday, December 30 were negative and showed no antibodies to the virus. The Bishop was then advised to retake the PCR test the following week until he received a second negative result.

Bishop Caggiano was tested at the COVID-19 testing site located at Queen of Saints Hall in the Catholic Center, at 238 Jewett Avenue in Bridgeport.  The Diocese partnered with Progressive Diagnostics, LLC of Trumbull, a clinical medical laboratory, in response to the urgent need for more testing sites in Fairfield County. Working with Progressive Diagnostics, the Diocese has opened additional test sites at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Wilton and at Immaculate High School Retreat Center in Danbury.

The test sites are open to the general public. For information on Progressive Diagnostics test sites and appointments throughout Fairfield County, contact: https://progressive-diagnostics.com

Diocesan COVID-19 Policy: The Diocese has consistently followed and often exceeded all state and local recommendations and has also added a registration feature to Mass attendance, so that congregations can be notified if any who attended a service later becomes aware of a positive test. As a result, to date, there is no evidence of communal spread as a result of anyone attending Mass in the Diocese. 

For more information, updates, and a complete listing of Diocesan public health and safety measures in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, visit https://www.bridgeportdiocese.org/coronavirus/home/

The Dedication of Our Teachers

The dedication of teachers during this pandemic never ceases to amaze me. Take Margarita Nicolasa Sulugüí, a 4th-grade teacher from Guatemala, for example. I found out about her from Catholic Relief Services, which helps train teachers in her area.

When the pandemic made its way to her community, she decided to start visiting her students at home. Wearing a mask and carrying hand sanitizer, she visits 4 – 5 students per day, spending extra time with those who need additional help. Margarita gives her lessons in an open space – usually outside on a patio, on rocks, or under shady trees. After the visits, she makes herself available by phone for the parents who have questions about the homework. In the words of the parents, “Her visits are very good because we feel supported, we’re happy, we’re not alone.”

Let’s make sure we thank all of our teachers who are doing their best during this very difficult time. My special thanks to the teachers of our Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport!

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

Statement on Violence in Washington, DC

There are few words that can describe the shock I feel to see our Capitol Building occupied by violent and unlawful rioters earlier today. As Americans, we should be deeply disturbed to see such an important symbol of freedom and liberty in our nation violated in such a way. Our nation is better than such behavior.

The peaceful transfer of power is one of the most important and revered aspects of our democracy. We must recommit ourselves to the values we hold dear as Americans: democracy, freedom, and peace. As people of faith we condemn violence in all its forms as a moral betrayal of the Gospel. We also know that our nation needs prayer, now more than ever, so that we may always remain one nation, under God.

In that spirit, please join me tonight in praying for the United States during this unprecedented and frightening time in our history. Let us pray for peace in our communities, in our capital, in our Country, but most of all, in our own hearts.

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

We need to persevere until the tide turns

As I begin my seventh day of quarantine, I am grateful to the Lord that I have not developed any symptoms associated with the coronavirus. Unfortunately, a number of dear friends have recently contacted me by text or email and told me that they have received both a positive test result and also begun to experience some severe side effects from the virus. My heart goes out to them and their families. Let us continue to keep everyone who has been afflicted by this terrible disease in our prayers.

Given the fact that many who have recently contracted the Coronavirus fell ill through small gatherings that they attended at Christmastime, I urge everyone to remain vigilant in doing all that we can to protect ourselves and our families against this terrible disease. I recognize that we are all weary of what has become our ”new” way of life: wearing masks, socially distancing and frequently washing our hands. However, in those settings when we do not follow these protocols, precisely in small gatherings with family and friends, is when many have fallen ill. We need to persevere until the tide turns and this terrible disease is vanquished from our midst.

Please be assured of my daily prayers for all of you, your family and friends.

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

An Update from Bishop Frank

My dear friends, I am so deeply grateful for all the emails and texts you have sent me offering prayers as I begin my quarantine. I deeply appreciate your kindness and support. Thankfully, I remain asymptomatic which is very encouraging.

For those who join me for the electronic celebration of Mass, I am sorry that I will be unable to offer Mass until my quarantine is over. However, be assured of a remembrance in my own prayers as I celebrate Eucharist in private for the next ten days.

Finally, let us continue to pray for everyone who has been affected by the scourge of this pandemic in any way, especially those who are sick and our health care workers who care for them. May the Lord grant the sick a full and complete recovery and continued protection and well-being for all our health care workers.

Best wishes for a Blessed, Joyful, and Healthy New Year to you and your families.

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

Statement of the Diocese concerning Bishop Caggiano

(Read the updated status of Bishop Caggiano published Sunday, January 3, 2021.)

The Diocese of Bridgeport announced today that Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

Bishop Caggiano is asymptomatic and feels well. However, he will observe a 10-day quarantine consistent with CDC guidelines. As a result, he will not engage in public ministry or attend any previously scheduled events during this time.

Because his ministry takes him to different parishes throughout the Diocese, Bishop Caggiano has been undergoing weekly testing as a safety protocol. His weekly test on Monday, December 28 yielded a positive result (of which he learned on Wednesday, December 30) and he immediately went into quarantine.

On Wednesday, December 30, Bishop Caggiano was re-tested with both the PCR test and the antibody blood test and he is awaiting results.

Bishop Caggiano was tested at the COVID-19 testing site located at Queen of Saints Hall in the Catholic Center, at 238 Jewett Avenue in Bridgeport.  The Diocese partnered with Progressive Diagnostics, LLC of Trumbull, a clinical medical laboratory, in response to the urgent need for more testing sites in Fairfield County. Working with Progressive Diagnostics, the Diocese has opened additional test sites at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Wilton and at Immaculate High School Retreat Center in Danbury. (New sites are expected to open soon.)

The test sites are open to the general public. For information on Progressive Diagnostics test sites and appointments throughout Fairfield County, contact: https://progressive-diagnostics.com

Diocesan COVID-19 Policy: The Diocese has consistently followed and often exceeded all state and local recommendations and has also added a registration feature to Mass attendance, so that congregations can be notified if any who attended a service later becomes aware of a positive test. As a result, to date, there is no evidence of communal spread as a result of anyone attending Mass in the Diocese. 

The Diocese asks for prayers for Bishop Caggiano and for all those throughout the Diocese who are afflicted by the virus, those who have lost loved ones, and for the many people suffering from anxiety related to the pandemic.

For more information, updates, and a complete listing of Diocesan public health and safety measures in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, visit https://www.bridgeportdiocese.org/coronavirus/home/

 

Are we ready to celebrate His birth every day of our life?

As we welcome this Christmas Day, we cannot but remember the many struggles and challenges that we have faced this past year. How often did our hearts imitate the lament of the holy men and women of Sacred Scripture who cried out to God for assistance in times of equal peril and fear? Even in our modern world that is blessed with the promise of vaccines that can fight the Coronavirus virus, who among us this past year was not humbled to admit the fragility of our own life? Who did not have their confidence shaken when faced with the sufferings of our neighbors and friends? Who among us did not wonder with anxiety what the future would bring?

In the light of such struggles during these dark and difficult months, we can ask one question today: what do we have to celebrate this Christmas? This pandemic has hung over our heads like a darkness that admitted little light to comfort us. What is there to celebrate?

My friends, the reason to celebrate is clear to the eyes of faith. We celebrate the promise of Christmas because of our deep conviction that God’s love, like a divine light, can pierce all darkness, no matter how deep or widespread it may be. Christmas celebrates the birth of the Son of God into a world mired in pain, suffering and challenge, born in a stable with only the animals to witness it.  His birth brought the victory of God’s love into the world 2000 years ago and now invites us this Christmas to welcome His love into our own lives. For if we welcome His love into our hearts and homes, then our joy will be rekindled, our hope strengthened, and we will have strength to meet the challenges of our lives. We celebrate Christmas with joyful hearts because God’s love is real, found in our midst and has never left us even during the struggles of these past ten months.

In fact, long before this Christmas day, we have seen how the love of God broke through the darkness. It came through the love of women and men who cared for patients in hospitals, long term care facilities and nursing homes. The love of Christmas came through the self-sacrificing work of our teachers who guided our children through remote and in person learning. The love of Christmas shone through our essential workers who persevered in the face of tremendous adversity to help people to eat and survive, the ministry of our clergy who brought the sacraments to people in their hour of greatest need and the thousands of scientists whose tireless work has created vaccines that promise to protect us from the ravages of the COVID-19 virus. We celebrate the divine love of Christmas because it is already in our midst and we have seen it with our own eyes.

In March, it appeared as though the world would be shrouded in a pall of darkness that seemed impenetrable. Yet the darkness did not prevail. Christmas came in every moment when love was brought into the world and will come again, in all its beauty, when we silently kneel before the Christ Child and welcome His divine love that will never fade, never fail and never end.

Whenever we saw the inbreaking of God’s love in our midst, many of us were also surprised by the gift of joy. For joy is a divine gift that comes to the heart of any person who dares to believe that God’s love will never falter. Joy is the abiding sense that “all things shall be well” even when we face suffering, sorrow, and loss as we have experienced this year. Joy is the confident assurance that God’s love will conquer every challenge. Joy comes to every human heart that welcomes the love of Christmas both on December 25th and every day of the year.

As we look upon the Christ Child born this day, we cannot forget that the world into which Christ was born, much like ours, was weary. Yet, Christ made his home in such a world. He seeks to make His home in our world as well. Are we ready to welcome the light of His love into our communities, families and our hearts? Are we ready to celebrate His birth every day of our life?

I recognize that this Christmas will be very different for past years. Many of us will be unable to safely see our families or participate in traditions we hold sacred. Many Catholics are still unable to attend Mass. Thousands remain unemployed or underemployed. Some of us are celebrating Christmas with newly empty chairs around the table. However, Christ’s love is with us. Let us be strengthened and refreshed in that love.

To my brothers and sisters of different faiths, and to all people of good will, I pray that you will find peace and joy in this season, and I pray that you will never allow the world to extinguish the fire of hope in our hearts for a better, more loving, more compassionate future.

May we open our hearts to receive the promise of Christmas and may you and your family be blessed by the Christ Child, the light of the world, and find true joy in the New Year.

Bishop Caggiano

Msgr. Walter C. Orlowski, 68

NORWALK—(updated Tuesday, December 22, 5:10 pm) Msgr. Walter C. Orlowski, beloved pastor of St. Matthew Parish in Norwalk, passed away suddenly on the morning of Monday, December 2). He was 68 years old. (Arrangements have been announced and are listed below).

“It is with a deep sense of sadness and of profound loss that we announce the passing of Msgr. Walter Orlowski, beloved pastor of St. Matthew Parish. His passing is an even more difficult cross to bear for his parish family and all those who loved him,  coming as it has just a few days before Christmas,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.

“Throughout his ministry, his spirit of joy and compassion gathered an entire community around him and brought healing and affirmation to so many lives. His death is a great loss to parishioners, his brother priests, and to the entire community. He will be deeply missed by all,” the bishop said.

On September 14, 2019, when the parishioners of St. Matthew’s celebrated his 25th year as pastor and the 40th Anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, the bishop praised Msgr. Orlowski’s in the presence of his parishioners:

“You, my friends, are absolutely blessed to have a true spiritual father who has been here nearly a quarter of a century. One who has guided you, laughed with you, cried with you, walked with you, has come to love you— probably more than he could love anything or anyone else. You have responded to his vision because you have seen the genuineness of Msgr. Walter and what he wants: the best for you and for the Church.”

Walter Cajetan Orlowski was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on April 6, 1952, son of Walter and Jeanne M. Orlowski. He was baptized May 4, 1952, at Saint Michael the Archangel Church in Bridgeport. He attended St. Thomas Aquinas School, Fairfield and Bullard Havens Technical School in Bridgeport.

Msgr. Orlowski began his priestly formation at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield Conn., continuing at St. Mary Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md., where he completed his theological studies. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Bridgeport by the Most Reverend Walter W. Curtis at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport on May 5, 1979.

Following his ordination, his first assignment was as parochial vicar of St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport (1979-1984). In July 1984, he was transferred to St. Mary Church in Bethel where he served until 1990. From 1990-1994, Msgr. Orlowski served as parochial vicar at St. Luke Church in Westport.

In July 1994, he was named the fourth pastor of St. Matthew Parish in Norwalk and he brought great enthusiasm and energy to his ministry. Under his leadership, on September 29, 1995, the groundbreaking for the new parish center became a reality with a Mass of Celebration officiated by Most Rev. Bishop Edward M. Egan.

In late 2003, the church underwent an expansion, increasing the seating capacity and creating a family room that allowed families to more fully participate in Mass. On June 26, 2004, Bishop William E. Lori presided at the rededication of St. Matthew Church.

On November 4, 2007, a Jubilee kick-off Mass was held to celebrate St. Matthew’s 50 year anniversary. There was a year-long celebration with spiritual and social events, which concluded on November 15, 2008, with a Mass and gala. On June 1, 2019, St. Matthew Parish celebrated the groundbreaking for an 18,000-square-foot two-story recreation center that will feature a basketball court, indoor walking/running track, and college lounge for a Catholic Newman Center Club.

“We’re building on what we already have, to give people the training space and programs they need to encourage health in body, mind and spirit,” according to Msgr. Walter C. Orlowski. “It’s all about creating a parish even more welcoming than ever before—one that can be the center of people’s lives. It’s all for the good, all for God’s people.”

On the occasion of his 40th anniversary as a priest, Msgr. Orlowski addressed the congregation during his homily for the  Mass of Thanksgiving. On that day, priests, religious, dignitaries and five generations of parishioners packed the church. The procession into church included representatives of from the 1,016 baptized by Monsignor while at St. Matthew, 2,252 First Communicants, 1,599 young adults he prepared for Confirmation and 407 couples who received the Sacrament of Matrimony.

“I’ve spent more than a third of my life here at St. Matthew,” said Monsignor. “There has never been a day or week when one of you hasn’t come up to me with a prayer, word of support or a hug. It has meant the world to me “When I gather together with you, I know I am with family,” he said.

“It is you who inspires us,” he said to the faithful. “It is you who makes us better priests. It is you who fills us with your great spirituality that you possess in the community of St. Matthew. 40 years of priesthood has been a magnificent gift; I am blessed by you. 25 years and I have never felt alone—you have been there every step of the way. All of the great people of St. Matthew—it is you who make this place work. And I am grateful to God for you. God will take care of you, trust me,” Monsignor said.

Throughout his years of priestly ministry in the diocese, Msgr. Orlowski served both on the Presbyteral Council and the College of Consultors. He also served as vicar for Vicariate V as well as Dean of the Mother of Divine Grace Deanery, covering Norwalk, New Canaan and Darien. Msgr. Orlowski served as priest president of the board of All Saints Catholic School in Norwalk, and as a board member of Elderhouse of Norwalk. In addition, Monsignor served as mentor to many new pastors, a member of the Vocations Team and lastly as minister for priests. In 2007, he received the great honor of being named chaplain to His Holiness.

His words to young men considering the priesthood sum up the values he brought to his ministry as a priest:  “Someone who’s thinking of a vocation to the priesthood should have a big heart and be willing to give of himself,” says Father Orlowski. “The priesthood requires prayer, study, and above all service. If you’re willing to do that, the priesthood offers great peace and great joy that nothing else on earth can give.”

ARRANGEMENTS: Msgr. Orlowski’s body will be received at St. Matthew Church, Norwalk on Monday, December 28 at 1 pm, followed by a Mass reserved to family, clergy and religious. The principal celebrant will be Msgr. Thomas Powers, vicar general; the homilist will be Msgr. William Scheyd. Concelebrating clergy are asked to bring diocesan vestments and remember that masks must be worn.

Starting at 3 pm, Msgr. Orlowski’s body will lie in repose until 6 pm for public viewing, Bishop Caggiano will celebrate the Funeral Mass on Tuesday, December 29 at 11 am. Interment will be private.

Condolences can be sent to the Orlowski Family c/o St. Matthew Church, 216 Scribner Ave, Norwalk, CT 06854. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Msgr. Orlowski and for the consolation of his family.

Advent Events at St. Catherine of Siena

TRUMBULL – The Parish of St. Catherine of Siena (220 Shelton Road, Trumbull) invites everyone to prepare for Christmas this Advent with the following events. Both in person and virtually by livestream options are available.

Annual Christmas Tree Lighting
Join the St. Catherine’s parish community for a special Christmas tradition! The Christmas Tree will be lit on the front lawn of the church immediately following the 4:00pm Mass on Saturday, December 12.

Advent Lessons and Carols
All are invited to a special festive service of Sacred Scripture, carols and choral anthems to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ at Christmas. The program will feature guest soloists and instrumentalists, and will take place on Sunday, December 13 at 4pm. Registration is required to attend in-person. Or join virtually! The event will be livestreamed on our Parish Website.

Advent Evening of Recollection
Everyone is welcome to a special Advent Evening of Recollection on Monday, December 14 from 7:00 – 8:00pm. in which we prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of Christ at Christmas this year. This one-hour event will be led by Monsignor Thomas Powers, Vicar General of the Diocese of Bridgeport. Registration is required to attend in-person. Or join virtually! The event will be livestreamed on our Parish Website.

Annual Parish Giving Tree
St. Catherine’s Social Justice and Charitable Outreach Team invites you to support our Trumbull & Bridgeport neighbors in need this Christmas by contributing to our Annual Parish Giving Tree. Donations are accepted by contact-free drive through on Saturday, December 12 & 19, from 10am – 12 noon, and on Sunday December 13 & 20 from 11am – 12 noon, in the Church Parking Lot. You can sign up to sponsor a gift, or a whole family, on our Parish Website with our Online Giving Tree. Details at www.stcathtrumbull.com. Donations are also collected at all Masses on December 12/13 & December 19/20. Financial donations are welcome, and the Social Justice Team will make a purchase on your behalf.

Other initiatives of the Social Justice & Charitable Outreach Team include: school supplies drive, toiletry drive, hat, coat & sweater drive, Thanksgiving food drive and other emergency food drives, pro-life baby shower, and many more. For more information on the Social Justice and Charitable Outreach ministry at St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull, contact Salvatore Spadaccino, Coordinator of Social Justice and Charitable Outreach, at caritas@stcatherinetrumbull.com.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, seat reservations are required for all in-person events. There is no charge for seat reservations. The link to register is on the Parish Website at www.StCathTrumbull.com.

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.