Articles By: Renee Stamatis

Cordileone: ‘Unrealistic’ limits on public worship

SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco’s archbishop told hundreds of Catholics gathered near City Hall September 20 that “it is because of our Catholic faith that we are being put at the end of the line” by city officials in enacting what could be the country’s harshest pandemic restrictions on religious worship.

“The city continues to place unrealistic and suffocating restrictions on our natural and constitutional right to worship. This willful discrimination is affecting us all,” said Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone. “Yes, discrimination, because there is no other word for it.”

He made the comments in a homily at a Mass that followed eucharistic processions to a plaza near San Francisco’s City Hall.

On September 13, in a memo to all priests of the archdiocese, Archbishop Cordileone announced that three parishes were organizing eucharistic processions starting at different points and ending up next to City Hall, to be followed by Masses outside the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption. He urged all parishes to participate.

More than 1,000 Catholics participated in the archdiocesan “Free the Mass” demonstration.

In his memo, in an op-ed in The Washington Post September 16 and in his homily, the archbishop said Catholics are asking to be treated like anyone else in being able to exercise their right to worship in public at a “level consistent with other activities” in the city, like shopping, protesting and gathering in a public park.

Church leaders have no issue with the faithful being asked to following safety protocols amid the pandemic, he said, and he has reiterated that being asked to adhere to these measures is within the purview of city and health officials, but keeping people from worship is not.

“Months ago, we submitted a safety plan to the city including masks and social distancing, just like indoor retail stores did,” explained in his homily. “The city said yes to indoor retail, but we Catholics are still waiting to hear back.”

Right now, he said, people can shop at Nordstrom’s at 25 percent capacity “but only one of you at a time is allowed to pray inside of this great cathedral, your cathedral? Is this equality? No, there is no reason for this new rule except a desire to put Catholics—to put you—at the back of the line.”

The archbishop made several references to the “back of the line” and “end of the line” in his homily, titled “Going to the End of the Line for the Glory of God.”

He said that Sunday’s Gospel reading from Matthew reminded him of the time he spent as pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Calexico, California, at the U.S.-Mexico border and his morning jog along the border fence.

“There I would see the exact scene Our Lord describes: men standing in the streets, waiting to be hired to work in fields so they could make a day’s wage,” he said. “Like the workers at the Eleventh Hour, these men were at the end of the line: the ones left out and ignored by society, the people barely able to survive.”

One time he gave a ride to the bus station to a man who had entered the country illegally and was trying to get to the next stop to start his new life in the United States. He bought the man a ticket so he could continue on his journey.

“I was aware that I was breaking the law, since it is against the law to provide transportation to an undocumented immigrant,” he continued. “But the highest law is love of God and love of neighbor, and that law has to take precedence over the human-made law of the state when government would ask us to turn our backs on God or our neighbor in need.

“Now in San Francisco, all of us here are being put at the end of the line,” he said. “No matter how rich or poor, no matter whether newly arrived or from families that have been here for many generations, it is our Catholic faith that unites us, and it is because of our Catholic faith that we are being put at the end of the line.”

Archbishop Cordileone noted that amid the pandemic, the work of the Catholic Church of San Francisco has been ongoing, such as Catholic Charities’ outreach to the homeless or and the efforts of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul assisting the needy at the parish level.

He thanked the priests, religious and “the sacrificing lay faithful, for what you are doing to keep the love of Christ alive and visible in these distressing times. This is what it means to go to the end of the line.”

He urged Catholics to remain spiritually grounded during this time by spending at least one hour a week in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and, fasting on Fridays and going to confession frequently.

By Catholic News Services

A day of Sunshine and Sacraments

DANBURY—The tradition of First Holy Communion was celebrated at St. Joseph Church with more than a dozen children receiving the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

Students from St. Joseph School and Religious Education classes, along with their families, participated in the Mass on a chilly but sunshine-filled Saturday morning.

“Today is a very special moment and milestone in the lives of our young parishioners,” said pastor, Father Samuel Scott. “We are so mindful of this precious gift of the Eucharist and we recognize what a great joy this is today.”

A total of 38 children prepared to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion in May but those plans were changed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Following the leadership of the Diocese of Bridgeport, the parish decided to hold three separate First Holy Communion Masses to accommodate the students and family members while adhering to social distancing protocols. This was the second group of students to receive the sacrament. A third set of students will receive the sacrament next weekend. The Mass was also live-streamed on the parish website.

All students received the Sacrament of Reconciliation the day before receiving First Holy Communion. Father Scott and Father David Franklin heard confessions from the children the night before the First Holy Communion Mass.

Girls wore a white mask to match their beautiful white dress and boys wore a dark colored mask to match their suit.

During the homily Father Scott said it was important now and throughout life to understand, “Things aren’t always what they appear to be. Sometimes they are more.”

To illustrate his point, Father Scott held up objects that on the surface looked like one thing but upon further inspection were much more. For instance, what looked like a Reader’s Digest book was actually a hollowed-out book meant for keepsakes to be hidden. He also held up a figurine of what looked like a bird but its beak functioned as a bottle opener.

He then held up a cruet with wine and a host of bread explaining that when the priest calls upon the Holy Spirit during Mass, these become, “the Body and Blood of our Savior.”

“A change that is unique but is invisible,” Father Scott said. “You are receiving this as a gift from Christ Jesus. It is the real presence of Jesus. It is invisible but very, very real.”

After the mass, the children received a certificate in addition to a gift bag they received the day before with a handmade Rosary by Our Lady’s Rosary Makers and an instruction booklet on how to pray the Rosary.

“The families were all so happy,” said director of Religious Education, Lynn Smierciak. “You could see their smiling eyes. It’s a joyous occasion despite the restrictions.”

Smierciak said some families opted to wait until next year for their child to receive the sacraments while others were excited to have an opportunity to do so now.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this,” said Denise Maritato, whose daughter, Giovanna, received her First Holy Communion. “The kids did very well.”

“We are very proud and very happy,” said Margarida Wheeler, whose son Tyler received his First Holy Communion. “This is part of why we go to Saint Joseph’s, for the values. When we had this opportunity, we were very grateful.”

Father Scott said we are all living stones of this spiritual temple.

“There really is no substitute of receiving Christ Jesus. We are so proud of you,” Father Scott said. “We need Jesus every week to strengthen us every week and for a moral compass in our lives. This is not a one-time deal,” he said. “Come every week.”

View the 2020 Catholic Scouting Awards

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BRIDGEPORT—The 2020 Catholic Scout Awards Ceremony for the Diocese of Bridgeport will be held this evening tonight, Friday September 18, at St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan. Because of Covid-19 restrictions, the gathering is by invitation only.

The ceremony will begin with a Scouts’ Color Guard and Pledge of Allegiance followed by their scouting promises and oaths.

Father Robert Kinnally, Diocesan Scouting Chaplain and Pastor of St. Aloysius Parish, will bless and award the Scouting Medals to young scouts throughout the diocese.

Awards to be distributed include Light of Christ, Ad Altare Dei (To the Altar of God), Parvuli Dei (Children of God), the Pope Pius XI Award, and the Pope Paul VI National Catholic Unit Excellence Award.

Click here to view the live stream.

‘Smooth as silk.’ Shelton’s HTCA welcomes students back

SHELTON—Masks on their faces couldn’t hide the enthusiasm Monday morning as students and teachers at Holy Trinity Catholic Academy came together for the first time in more than five months.

The Catholic school is holding in-class learning only, and HTCA Director Lisa Lanni said the first day reinforced the administration’s confidence in its COVID-19 mitigation plans.

“Today was just wonderful,” Lanni said. “It was far better than we anticipated. Everyone was so excited to be back.”

Lanni said the school welcomed 53 new students this year, and that added to the excitement of seeing children making new friends.

Holy Trinity Catholic Academy is running half days for the week, with teachers and students spending the time getting acclimated to the rules—wearing masks, social distancing and before-school temperature checks, Lanni said.

Next week, Lanni said, staff and students will be back for full days of hitting the books.

“We sent out a video to parents about the reopening plan, with hopes that they would go over everything with their children,” Lanni said. “They obviously did, from what we saw today. The kids did exactly what we asked of them. It was a good feeling to see them get it right.”

The Diocese of Bridgeport has a detailed reopening plan that focuses on in-person instruction but does include a distance learning option if one or more of the schools under its direction are forced to close because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lanni said her facility’s detailed preparation plans and focus on technology has created an “uptick” in inquiries for placement. Lanni said the school is still accepting students and could easily hold 199 students and still adhere to all social distancing guidelines with small class sizes.

HTCA’s average class size is 15. Some classrooms can hold as many as 25 students, Lanni said, and still follow social distancing guidelines which call for six feet between desks and children remaining six feet apart.

“The public schools have struggled to pull together its plans,” said Lanni about why some parents are looking at private schools like HTCA. “Because of their size, it is difficult to guarantee a safe environment for in-person learning. And parents need school. It is tough to play teacher as well as mom and dad.”

School requirements call for all adults entering the building to wear face masks. Students must wear face masks at times when social distancing may not be possible, such as during recess.

Lanni said the staff had worries—will we get the temperature checks done quickly enough so it would not impact the school day? Will students stay 6 feet apart, or will they congregate as the day goes on? Will students keep masks on when required?

“We all did it,” Lanni said. “It went smooth as silk. We want to take it one day at a time … make sure everyone keeps following the protocols … but if today is any indication, we are off to a great start.”

In Trumbull, Rachel Ambrosini, principal, St Catherine of Siena, was prepping for their opening day on Tuesday.

“We’re feeling confident and ready to go. We’ve got direction signs on the walls, and we’ve closed half the stalls in the bathrooms. We have the stickers, I call them lily pads, on the floor so the kids know where to stand when they’re waiting for the bus,” she said.

There are hand sanitizing stations in every room, and the school will operate with its windows and doors open, and ventilators circulating air in each classroom. The school also has two large tents that were donated that teachers can sign up to use for outdoor classes, she said.

By Brian Gioiele   I   Shelton Herald

Gospel cannot be parsed in partisan terms

CLEVELAND—The U.S. bishops’ quadrennial document on political responsibility is rooted in the Catholic Church’s long-standing moral tradition that upholds human dignity and the common good of all, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City said.

“The document is meant to give Catholic voters an opportunity to reflect upon how their faith intersects with their political and civic responsibilities,” said the archbishop, who chairs the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

Titled “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility From the Catholic Bishops of the United States,” the document has been offered as a guide to Catholic voters every presidential election year since 1976.

It has been updated and revised at four-year intervals to reflect changes in the issues confronting the country since it first appeared.

One thing “Faithful Citizenship” is not is a mandate on which candidate for public office to vote for, Archbishop Coakley said.

Voting, he added, is a responsibility to be taken seriously and that requires prudential judgment in determining who can best serve the common good.

“No candidate will likely reflect all of our values,” he told Catholic News Service August 18. “But I think we need to begin in prayer. We need to know our faith. We need to study our faith. We need to have recourse to the catechism and what it might teach about certain questions.

“This document is intended to be that, an official guide for the formation of consciences that Catholics can utilize as they weigh these questions,” the archbishop said.

Furthermore, he continued, “the Gospel cannot be parsed in political or partisan terms. The Gospel calls us to live by standards and our Catholic faith calls us to embrace standards that are not divisible into left or right, Republican or Democratic terminology.”

The document went through no major revisions for this year’s election, but it is being supplemented by an introductory letter, which underwent a long debate before its adoption by the full body of bishops during their fall general assembly in November.

This time around, the document also is accompanied by a series of five videos that highlight vital public policy issues.

The document has three parts.

The first part outlines the responsibility of Catholics to incorporate Catholic teaching as they consider their vote as well as their support for myriad public policy issues that confront society.

The text explores a series of questions related to why the church teaches about public policy issues; who in the church should participate in political life; how the church helps Catholics to speak about political and social questions; and what the church says about social teaching in the public square.

Part two outlines policy positions of the bishops on numerous issues. Topics addressed include human life and dignity, promoting peace, marriage and family religious freedom, economic justice, health care, migration, Catholic education, promoting justice and countering violence, combating unjust discrimination, care for the environment, communications, media and culture and global solidarity.

The bishops said they wanted to “call attention to issues with significant moral dimensions that should be carefully considered in each campaign and as policy decisions are made in the years to come.”

Part three lists goals for Catholics’ participation in political life, whether they are citizens, candidates or public officials. Notably, it invites Catholics to assess moral and ethical questions emanating from public policy issues. It also lists nine goals for Catholics to weigh in public life.

“Faithful Citizenship” also draws from the teaching of Pope Francis, Pope Benedict XVI, St. John Paul II, St. John XXIII, the Second Vatican Council, and “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.”

The introductory letter reminds Catholics that “we bring the richness of our faith to the public square” and that “faith and reason inform our efforts to affirm both the dignity of the human person and the common good of all.”

The letter also says, “The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed. At the same time, we cannot dismiss or ignore other serious threats to human life and dignity, such as racism, the environmental crisis, poverty and the death penalty.”

It concludes by reminding Catholics to “bring their faith and our consistent moral framework to contribute to important work in our communities, nation, and world on an ongoing basis, not just during election season.”

The full document also is available in Spanish.

The text of “Faithful Citizenship” can be downloaded as a free PDF from, or it can be purchased by going to

In addition to English, the videos were produced in Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

The productions explore various aspects of Catholic social teaching while reflecting on the teaching of Pope Francis.

The videos are posted on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website at and the USCCB’s YouTube channel at They are part of the bishops’ effort to broaden their outreach through the document.

“People respond to different media,” Archbishop Coakley said. “This is a very technically savvy audience today, especially younger voters. The videos use powerful images and brief statements that illustrate some of the teaching embodied in the formal document.”

Four English-language videos of about two minutes in length examine participation in public life, protecting human life and dignity, promoting the common good and loving others. The fifth video is a six-minute compilation of the highlights of the four shorter pieces.

The foreign language videos are slightly longer.

Each video was produced with young people in mind, said Jill Rauh, director of education and outreach in the USCCB’s Department of Justice Peace and Human Development.

Along with the images and voices of young people, each piece features one bishop narrating an aspect of Catholic social teaching. Each production closes with a different prayer specifically written for the series.

Scenes showing people feeding the hungry, protecting God’s creation, comforting the elderly, caring for children, migrant people and families, and engaging in civil discussions are prominent in the productions.

“The videos are meant to reflect the teaching of the bishops in ‘Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,’” Rauh said. “The videos are really trying to make that teaching more accessible.”

Other wide-ranging resources are being made available to parishes, schools, prayer groups and other interested parties through the faithful citizenship web page.

As summer ends and Election Day, November 3, nears, dioceses and parishes have been gearing up their use of “Faithful Citizenship” resources, according to social ministry directors across the country.

Archbishop Coakley said the bishops expect the guidance offered in the “Faithful Citizenship” materials will gain wider attention this year.

“My hope and prayer is that Catholics who really want their faith to influence their decision making when it comes to going to the polls will give the reflections in this document consideration rather than just going to their favorite news source,” he said. “That’s going to be a very different kind of guidance than what they receive from their favorite cable news anchor or pundit.

“This is our chance to bring a different light to bear to a very important fundamental civic responsibility.”

By Dennis Sadowski   I   Catholic News Service

Bishop updates Covid-19 protocols

BRIDGEPORT—A fundamental mandate of our Catholic faith is to protect human life. The diocesan coronavirus procedures that are in place have been achieving this mandate.

In recent weeks however, there has been an increase in the number of COVID-19 positive cases in our area. A few towns have added new restrictions to contain the spread of the virus. Therefore, the following additional guidelines are now in effect:

  • If there is a significant increase in the infection rate in your town, then your parishioners must be notified of the increased risk through social media and the parish website.
  • Pastors and Parochial Administrators may add further restrictions if necessary, to reduce the risk of infection. The following are some examples of additional actions that may be taken.
    a. Outdoor Masses (weather permitting)
    b. The suspension of liturgical music
    c. Only clergy allowed in the sanctuary
    d. Temperature checks as people arrive for Mass
    i. Anyone with a temperature greater than 100.3 degrees should not be admitted.
  • In order to respond properly to any grave concern regarding an increase of infections in a given area and to maintain proper ecclesial supervision over the public celebration of the sacraments, especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the final decision to temporarily suspend Mass in a given parish can only be made by the Bishop or the Vicar General after consulting with the pastor.

As we approach the beginning of Fall and the attendant uncertainties of the coming months, we do so in the knowledge that the protocols we have put in place have protected the lives of our parishioners and priests. I am grateful for your leadership and support, and your continued vigilance as we pray for the end of the pandemic.

doctors: Mass is safe when guidelines are followed

CNA—Evidence suggests that church services following public health guidelines do not present a greater risk of spreading the novel coronavirus than other similar activities, doctors said last week.

Washing hands, social distancing, and mask requirements have helped prevent the spread of COVID-19, even in cases when contagious, pre-symptomatic parishioners took part in church events, three members of the Thomistic Institute Working Group on Infectious Disease Protocols for Sacraments & Pastoral Care concluded.

Doctors Thomas McGovern, Deacon Timothy Flanigan, and Paul Cieslak authored an article for Real Clear Science on Mass attendance and COVID-19 August 19.

“For Catholic churches following [the] guidelines, no outbreaks of COVID-19 have been linked to church attendance, even though we have examples … of asymptomatic, unknowingly infected individuals attending mass and other parish functions,” they wrote. “Their attendance could have led to an outbreak if appropriate precautions were not followed, yet in each case, we found no evidence of viral transmission.”

“This encouraging news should inspire confidence that the guidelines in place—based on CDC recommendations—are working to decrease COVID-19 transmission,” the doctors continued. “While nothing during a pandemic is risk-free, these guidelines mean that Catholics (and public officials) may be confident that it’s reasonably safe to come to Church for Mass and the sacraments.”

Over the last 14 weeks, they said, approximately 17,000 parishes have held three or more Masses each weekend, as well as daily services, combining to equal more than 1 million public Masses celebrated across the United States since shelter-in-place orders were lifted.

By following public health guidelines, these Masses have largely avoided viral spread, the authors suggested.

Nick Schoen, an employee of the Archdiocese of Seattle, has initiated a contact-tracing protocol for Mass-goers in the area. Tracking individuals who have participated in church events shortly before testing positive for COVID-19, he found that none of these individuals launched outbreaks at churches.

The authors pointed to at least four examples of infected individuals attending Mass while pre-symptomatic, as well as three anointings of sick individuals by priests in poorly-ventilated rooms. In each case, they said, the sick individuals avoided infecting other people.

“During a July 3 funeral mass (45 attendees, capacity 885), two members of one household notified the parish that they had tested positive for COVID-19 and were infected and pre-symptomatic during the mass,” they said.

“During a July 11 wedding (200 attendees, capacity 908), fresh air circulated from multiple open windows with the aid of fans. The following day, an attendee developed symptoms of COVID and on July 13 tested positive. The attendee was almost certainly contagious with pre-symptomatic infection during the wedding.”

In April, the Thomistic Institute’s Working Group on Infectious Disease Protocols for Sacraments & Pastoral Care released guidelines for reopening churches for Mass and other sacraments. These guidelines were incorporated by numerous dioceses into their protocols for reopening.

The guidelines were built on a multi-phase proposal for resumption and expansion of public Masses while remaining in conformity with public health guidelines in force in different places.

In “Phase 1” of the proposal, the institute encouraged the “Sunday obligation” to be dispensed, the elderly and those at high risk of COVID-19 to stay home, and those with symptoms to stay home from Mass. The institute also promoted social distancing, masks requirements, and the regular use of hand sanitizer.

The few churches that have reported a COVID-19 outbreak did not follow these regulations and in some cases engaged in discouraged actions such as congregational singing.

In some cases, these isolated incidents have led local government officials to restrict church services more than activities in restaurants, movie theaters, and casinos. This has prompted lawsuits alleging religious discrimination, which have often been sucessful.

The doctors said in their article that there is no evidence that church services are higher risk than similar activities when guidelines are followed.

“To date, the evidence does not suggest that Church attendance—following the current guidelines—is any more risky than shopping for groceries. And the spiritual good for believers in coming to Church is immeasurably important for their well-being,” they said.

“Indeed, for Catholics, the Mass and above all the Eucharist are central to the Christian life. In a time like this, it is even more important that the faithful be able to come to Church and receive Holy Communion.”


Knights St. Matthew Council 14360 receives top award

NORWALK—Knights of Columbus St. Matthew Council 14360 was recently awarded the distinction of Star Council, the international organization’s top honor for local councils.

The Star Council Award recognizes overall excellence in the areas of growing membership, promoting Knights of Columbus insurance benefits, sponsoring Catholic faith formation programs and volunteering time through service-oriented activities.

The council donated thousands of hours and funds over the last fraternal year to assist St. Matthew Parish, Family & Children’s Agency, Malta House, Notre Dame Health and Rehab Center, Homes for the Brave, Al’s Angels, All Saints School, Regina Pacis Academy, Our Lady of Fatima School and St. Philip Church food pantry.

Council 14360 highlights include large food drives, donation of PPE supplies to Notre Dame Health and Rehab, sending food to those on the front-line of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the council rolled up its sleeves and saved Regina Pacis Academy School thousands of dollars on painting the inside of the school, landscaping five acres of property at Notre Dame Health and Rehab Center and mulching of the playgrounds at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Academy.

“It is such an honor to hear this news but it is an even greater honor to be part of such a great organization. The men of this council are truly my brothers and I am so proud of them for their dedication to putting Faith in Action, earning this distinction, “said Grand Knight Anthony Armentano.

About the Knights of Columbus
The Knights of Columbus is one of the world’s leading fraternal and service organizations with 2 million members in more than 16,000 parish-based councils. During the past year, Knights around the world donated more than 77 million service hours and $187 million for worthy causes in their communities. The organization also provides financial services to groups and individuals, resulting in more than $112 billion of life insurance in force, and through its money management firm, Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors, it invests in accord with Catholic social teachings. From helping children in need, to providing wheelchairs for the disabled, to helping stock food banks, to offering top-rated and affordable insurance products to its members, the Knights of Columbus has supported families and communities for more than 138 years.

Membership in the Knights of Columbus is open to men 18 years of age or older who are practical (that is, practicing) Catholics in union with the Holy See. For information on joining the Knights of Columbus St. Matthew Council 14360 contact Grand Knight Anthony Armentano at 203.246.6648 or or join on-line for free at and input Council 14360 as the council to join.

Remembering Loved Ones Lost to Cancer at St. Vincent’s SWIM Virtual Memorial Service

BRIDGEPORT—St. Vincent’s SWIM Across the Sound will be hosting its 23nd Annual Memorial Service on Sunday, August 30, in a new, virtual format.

Due to circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and current social distancing precautions in place, St. Vincent’s will be presenting this year’s memorial online, in a virtual event that will be available to anyone who would like to be part of this moving ceremony. The event is free of charge, open to all members of the community and will celebrate the lives of family members and friends lost to cancer, regardless of where they received treatment.

People can submit the names of their loved ones to be recognized in a video presentation by visiting Please submit your request by Friday, August 21. The memorial service will be streamed as a video at 9 am on Sunday, August 30 and will remain available for viewing after the event.

The annual Memorial Service seeks to remember and carry on the spirit of those who have died from cancer. The service provides an opportunity for families and friends to heal after the loss of loved ones, and reflects St. Vincent’s Mission as it acknowledges the importance and contribution of every life. It is another way that St. Vincent’s SWIM Across the Sound supports area residents in the fight against cancer.

The virtual event will include prayers, musical tributes and inspirational readings. Performers will include bagpipers P. Thomas Landry and Dave Curtis, soloist Tyler Cervini of Trumbull, and members of the St. Vincent’s Choir led by Chief Medical Resident Pius A. Osei-Bagyina, MD.

The service will also remember the late Miriam Raubvogel of Shelton, who has sponsored the memorial for many years in memory of her sister Linda Waterman and the Waterman family.

For more information, please contact Edna Borchetta of St. Vincent’s Mission Services at 475.210.6393 or

Charity is path to perfection when done for Jesus

VATICAN CITY—The central focus of a Christian’s life and all he or she does to help others must be Jesus Christ, Pope Francis said.

“Christian charity is not simple philanthropy but, on the one hand, it is looking at others through the eyes of Jesus himself and, on the other hand, seeing Jesus in the face of the poor,” the pope said Aug. 23 before reciting the Angelus prayer with visitors in St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis focused on the day’s Gospel reading, Mt 16:13-20, in which Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” and then asks them, “But who do you say that I am?”

The disciples seemed to have a ready answer to the first question, the pope said. “The apostles liked talking about people, as we all do. We like to gossip. Speaking of others is not so demanding, which is why we like it.”

But, he said, when asked who they thought he was, the disciples seemed to pause.

“If I were to ask you now, ‘Who is Jesus for you?’ there would be a little hesitation,” the pope told people in the square.

Simon Peter gets the disciples off the hook by responding, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.”

And, the pope said, Jesus points out that Peter did not come up with that answer all by himself, but that it was revealed to him by God.

“To confess Jesus is a grace from the Father,” the pope said. “To say that Jesus is the son of the living God, that he is the Redeemer, is a grace that we must ask for: ‘Father, give me the grace to confess Jesus.’”

After Peter makes his profession of faith, Jesus calls him the rock upon which he will build the church. The pope said, “The church goes forward always on the basis of Peter’s faith, that faith that Jesus recognizes (in Peter) and which makes him the head of the church.”

“Who is Jesus Christ for me? Who is Jesus Christ for you, for you, for you,” Pope Francis asked, pointing to people in different parts of the square. Each day, he said, Christians should think how they would reply.

With so “many forms of poverty and crises” everywhere, he said, Christians are right to see charity as “the high road of the journey of faith, of the perfection of faith,” the pope said. “But it is necessary that works of solidarity, the works of charity that we carry out, not divert us from contact with the Lord Jesus.”

By Cindy Wooden  I  Catholic News Service


‘Above And Beyond:’ Wilton Pastor Is A Local Hero

WILTON—When times are tough, heroes emerge. We all know someone who’s making a difference right now as we live through unprecedented and changing times.

Here at Patch, we’ve launched an initiative to help recognize these heroes making a difference in their communities. Together with Ring, we’re working to let all your neighbors know about these outstanding people and their stories.

Father Reggie Norman is the pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Wilton, and the subject of multiple nominations as a Local Hero. By all accounts he has gone “above and beyond,” particularly for the town’s elderly community.

Father Reggie routinely checks in upon those most vulnerable during the pandemic, and also goes shopping for them.

“His heart is huge,” one nominator wrote. “He sends them notes and cards. He listens when they need to be consoled.”

Another Father Reggie fan told us that he is “a caring and inspirational man who is always there for others especially during the pandemic. He opened his doors to the parish center for those who lost power during Isaias. Always looking out for our seniors and homebound.”

Although he “never takes credit where credit is due,” Father Reggie is a “true man of faith that puts faith into action and cares for his parishioners and community.”

Thank you for all you do, Father Reggie!

(Photo by George Ribellino, Jr)

By Rich Kirby, Patch Staff

Virtual March on Washington and discussions offered

WASHINGTON,D.C.—The 2020 Virtual March on Washington takes place August 27 and 28. Archbishop Wilton Gregory will celebrate a Mass of Peace and Justice on August 28 in honor of the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington. Click here to register.

Background on the march

At the 1963 March on Washington, Archbishop Patrick O’Boyle—who began integrating parishes and schools in the Archdiocese of Washington shortly after becoming the archbishop of Washington in 1948—offered the invocation before Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Cardinal O’Boyle retired in 1973 and died in 1987.

Archbishop Gregory was installed as the current archbishop of Washington in 2019, becoming the first African American prelate to lead the Archdiocese of Washington. A leading voice in the U.S. Catholic Church for racial justice, Archbishop Gregory recently spoke on “Race in America: The Faith Perspective,” in an online forum sponsored by the American Jewish Committee.

He also recently spoke in a related panel discussion sponsored by Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life.

Washington Auxiliary Bishops Mario Dorsonville, Roy E. Campbell, and Michael Fisher will concelebrate the August 28 Mass, which is being organized by the Archdiocese of Washington’s Office of Cultural Diversity and Outreach.

More discussions available

Tolton’s Legacy: A Road Map to Unity 2020 Vision, will take place Saturday, August 29, 7-8:30 pm CST. Archbishop Gregory, Bishop Perry, Dr. Cecelia Moore, Father David Jones and Sr. Eva Marie Lumas, SSS, are the speakers.

The National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM) will host a virtual half-day event, Momentum: The Accompaniment Symposium, on September 1, 2020, 1-4:30 pm ET. The program is designed to provide insight on how to faithfully minister to and walk with youth and their families in the year ahead. To register visit

Sacred Heart University’s Commitment to Community Service Recognized by Princeton Review

FAIRFIELD—For the fourth consecutive year, Sacred Heart University has earned recognition for students’ community involvement. The Princeton Review ranked SHU 10th out of 20 universities and colleges on its “Students Most Engaged in Community Service” listing. That’s three spots higher than SHU earned last year.

The Princeton Review, an education services company, recently released the 2021 edition of its annual college guide, The Best 386 Colleges. The guide also named SHU as one of the nation’s best institutions for undergraduates to earn their college degree. Additionally, it placed SHU on its “Most Religious” ranking, and included the University among the “Best Northeastern Colleges.”

“Our students understand the importance of volunteering and giving to those in need,” said SHU President John J. Petillo regarding the community service accolade. “Many of our students spend time on mission trips locally and abroad, working with nonprofits to better the lives of families and children. Social justice is a key piece of SHU’s mission, and our strong tradition of community service is an expression of that.”

In SHU’s profile, The Princeton Review said, “Sacred Heart is a university that’s imbued with a tremendous amount of ‘school spirit’ and ‘an amazing sense of community.”

Under the “Academics” section in the profile, The Princeton Review wrote, “Students love that the campus is ‘very modern,’ with whiteboard-stacked classrooms that feature ‘many unique features other schools lack’ and ‘VR for classroom exercises, which enhanced the learning experience.’”

The section goes on, “Sacred Heart prioritizes ‘real work experience’ and provides ‘a lot of networking opportunities that are very valuable.’ Undergrads also suggest that small classes help ‘make the learning experience very personal.’ Students also seem to hold their professors in high regard as well.”

According to The Princeton Review and the student response survey it conducted, “When students arrive on campus, they are pleased to discover just how ‘selfless’ and ‘supportive’ their classmates truly are.”

One student quoted by The Princeton Review said, “Every day when I go to class, a fellow student is always holding open the door for me.”

Another undergraduate wrote, “There is an enthusiasm that you can’t fake that comes from the president all the way down to the students. People here genuinely care for others.”

“Receiving a glowing profile from The Princeton Review, as well as the other accolades, is a testament to the University’s commitment to providing students with top-tier experiences and facilities to learn and grow in,” said Pam Pillo, executive director of undergraduate admissions. “This ranking confirms that Sacred Heart meets students’ needs and allows them to thrive.”

Only about 14% of America’s 2,800 four-year colleges are profiled in The Best 386 Colleges guidebook, which is one of The Princeton Review’s most popular publications. The company chooses colleges based on data collected annually from administrators at hundreds of colleges about their institutions’ academic offerings. The Princeton Review also considers data from surveys of college students, who rate and report on various aspects of their campus and community experiences for this project.

“We salute Sacred Heart University for its outstanding academics, and we are truly pleased to recommend it to prospective applicants searching for their personal ‘best-fit’ college,” said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief and lead author of The Best 386 Colleges.

Photo details: Sacred Heart University’s Office of Volunteer Programs & Service Learning, Student Government, Residential Life and many student athletes helped to distribute Thanksgiving food at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Bridgeport as part of SHU’s annual food drives to benefit the needy. Photo by Tracy Deer-Mirek

About Sacred Heart University
As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest-growing in the U.S., Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers more than 80 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its Fairfield, Conn., campus. Sacred Heart also has satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland and offers online programs. More than 9,000 students attend the University’s nine colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Social Work; Computer Science & Engineering; Health Professions; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; the Dr. Susan L. Davis & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions as it was established and led by laity. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time cultivates students to be forward thinkers who enact change—in their own lives, professions and in their communities. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 385 Colleges—2020 Edition, “Best in the Northeast” and Best 252 Business Schools—2019 Edition. Sacred Heart is home to the award-winning, NPR-affiliated radio station, WSHU, a Division I athletics program and an impressive performing arts program that includes choir, band, dance and theater.

Listening, learning from, and loving multicultural voices

BRIDGEPORT—“Hopefully today is just another opportunity to grow together and have more effective action through conversation,” said Armando Cervantes, the fourth presenter in the webinar series of Conversations About Race hosted by The Leadership Institute, the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism and the Apostolate for Black Catholics.

Armando’s conversation was titled “Beyond Black: Multicultural Voices.” “Why is going beyond important?” Cervantes posed the question. “Because when we don’t go beyond we are complicit in continuing a way of thinking, a systemic racist model of continuing to not talk about it, engage in it and discuss it.”

Cervantes explained the feeling of “battle fatigue” from having to continually fight against racism. “In some ways I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired of having to talk about this issue,” he said. “But I am happy that you are here and willing to go beyond with me. Hopefully today we can acquire new strategies to deal with old issues and maybe unlearn a little bit of what we have learned.”

The speaker encouraged listeners to have the courage to go beyond fear and safety, take responsibility for the issues one may have, and to recognize one’s feelings, limitations, frustrations, responses, intentions and desires.

Learning from multicultural voices

Cervantes discussed the USCCB’s letter “Open Wide Our Hearts.” The letter explains that what is needed is a genuine conversion of heart—a conversion that will compel change and reform of our institutions and societies, and how Catholics and all people of good will are called to combat racism.

The bishops explain that our call is to listen and know the stories of our brothers and sisters. “We must create opportunities to hear, with open hearts, the tragic stories that are deeply imprinted on the lives of our brothers and sisters, if we are to be moved to empathy to promote justice,” the bishops write.

Beyond Listening: Loving Multicultural Voices

“God is calling me not only to listen and learn, He is asking me to love, to show genuine and authentic love to our brothers and sisters right in front of us—especially the marginalized and those on the peripheries, because those are the ones who Jesus in the Gospels would have gone after,” said Cervantes.

Cervantes discussed the USCCB document “Building Intercultural Competence for Ministers.” The document urges us to seek intentionally a cultural understanding, to develop intercultural communication skills, to expand knowledge of obstacles that impede intercultural relations and to foster ecclesial integration rather than assimilation in church settings.

Cervantes explained that people are biased because of one of these three things: fear, ignorance or guilt. These are obstacles in really getting to know and love the other. “You need to be aware of these feeling and wish to get over these barriers in order to connect with someone else,” advised Cervantes.

Anti-Racism is the goal

“I challenge you, and I challenge myself, to get to the point of not just denying racism as a problem but promoting and advocating for anti-racism on a regular basis,” Cervantes said.

“When we are willing to be comfortable in the uncomfortable then we are able to be pushed beyond that fear to be able to understand and to get to the point of loving something that is different from me,” Cervantes explained that this is the invitation we all have.

Beyond Knowing: Living with Multicultural Voices

Cervantes urged listeners to address what biases one may have, what access one has that others don’t, if one is truly an ally to the BIPOC community and their stories, and if one is complicit in institutional forms of racism.

“We all have it in some capacity,” Cervantes said of these biases. “We all have been taught stereotypes. How do you and I fight against them and how do you and I break them by getting to know someone else?”

Cervantes explained that if one doesn’t know something about a particular community, it is their obligation to learn in order to break that stereotype. He urged that this can be done through sharing stories.

“The hope of today is to invite us to be thinking about our multicultural brothers and sisters,” said Cervantes. “More than ever we need these conversations. We need everyone to jump in, we’re not going to attack this problem in one day and in one moment. It is going to come from us doing it together.”

Cervantes encouraged listeners to walk together…to listen, learn and share with those who are different than us.

“The Emmaus story in Luke 24:13-35, that is Jesus Himself giving us the example of walking with someone, of radical, active listening, of sharing,” said Cervantes. “That is the invitation for you and I.”

Armando Cervantes
Armando brings over two decades of parish, diocesan, regional, national and international experience and leadership. Armando graduated from UC Irvine with a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences with an Emphasis in Public and Community Service. After receiving his master’s in Pastoral Theology from Loyola Marymount University, Armando received his Executive MBA from Chapman University. Armando was one of the co-masters of ceremony for Region 11’s Regional Encuentro and the National Encuentro in Grapevine, Texas.

(To register to join the “Conversation on Race,” visit the Leadership Institute: Click to view all of the resources and information about joining the conversation:

Archbishop Gregory: Mass of Peace and Justice

WASHINGTON—On Friday August 28 at 4 pm, Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory will celebrate a Mass of Peace and Justice in honor of the 57th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. People are invited to watch the livestreamed Mass from St. Matthew’s Cathedral via this link.

The Archdiocese of Washington’s website at will also include a link to the Mass, as will a related article on the Catholic Standard’s website at

At the 1963 March on Washington, Archbishop Patrick O’Boyle—who began integrating parishes and schools in the Archdiocese of Washington shortly after becoming the archbishop of Washington in 1948—offered the invocation before Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Cardinal O’Boyle retired in 1973 and died in 1987.

Archbishop Gregory was installed as the current archbishop of Washington in 2019, becoming the first African American prelate to lead the Archdiocese of Washington. A leading voice in the U.S. Catholic Church for racial justice, Archbishop Gregory recently spoke on “Race in America: The Faith Perspective,” in an online forum sponsored by the American Jewish Committee.

He also recently spoke in a related panel discussion sponsored by Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life.

After the May 25 death of George Floyd—an African American man who died while under police custody in Minneapolis after an officer knelt on his neck—Archbishop Gregory issued a statement noting that “this incident reveals the virus of racism among us once again even as we continue to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.”

Washington Auxiliary Bishops Mario Dorsonville, Roy E. Campbell, and Michael Fisher will concelebrate the August 28 Mass, which is being organized by the Archdiocese of Washington’s Office of Cultural Diversity and Outreach.

(Right) Then-Washington Archbishop Patrick O’Boyle, at podium, offers the invocation on August 28, 1963 at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. At right is Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech that day. (CS file photo)

Catholic Standard article