BETHEL – Hundreds of faithful recently witnessed the consecration of a new church building heralding a new home for Our Lady of Aparecida Quasi-Parish on Vail Road in Bethel.
“May God the Father of Mercy dwell in this house of prayer,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano. “May the Word of God resound always in this building, in this church.”
Bishop Caggiano and Rev. Leonel S. Medeiros, Episcopal Vicar for Brazilians/Administrator for Our Lady of Aparecida, affectionately known as Fr. Leonel, concelebrated the weekday evening Mass.
“A dream that has been talked about for many years is becoming a reality,” Bishop Caggiano said.
For more than 27 years, Our Lady of Aparecida has been a Brazilian-American Catholic community of faith and was designated a Quasi-Parish by Bishop Caggiano on January 25, 2020, at a ceremony at St. Peter Church in Danbury. The Main Street church partnered with the Brazilian-American Catholic community to host Masses and its pastoral ministry service groups including Bible studies, retreats and social gatherings.
“The community that you have founded, faithful and joyful took a great amount of patience to get it done, I am grateful to all of you,” Bishop Caggiano said. “This is another chapter in the life of the Brazilian community in the life of the Diocese of Bridgeport.”
“Thank you for keeping the dream alive and thank you for shepherding the people,” said Bishop Caggiano as he thanked Fr. Leonel. His remarks were met enthusiastically by those gathered with a standing ovation of applause.
“It is God’s love that has carried you. This place will become His temple and this will become Holy ground,” Bishop Caggiano said before placing a relic that was sealed in the altar and anointing the altar with oil. The bishop then used the oil to bless the crosses throughout the church with Fr. Leonel. The altar was transformed in front of everyone as it was dressed in fine linens and adorned with lit candles and a crucifix.
“On this altar Calvary becomes real over and over again,” Caggiano said. “This altar is the door to everlasting life. Consider how much God loves us to come down upon this night to make this place holy.”
During the Mass, which was also broadcast in another room on a big screen to accommodate everyone who wanted to be present on this very special day, the statue of Our Lady of Aparecida was presented to the bishop adorned with flowers. The statue was blessed and then placed to the right of the altar in front of a lighted gold backdrop.
There were tears of joy and happiness among those gathered as gifts of bread and grapes were brought to the altar and congregants also approached and placed roses at the altar.
“It is with great joy we come to this joyous occasion, this joyous day,” said Fr. Leonel, as he thanked the bishop for his help, support and fatherly guidance throughout the entire process.
“Without his support, it would be impossible,” Fr. Leonel said, to which the congregation gave a standing ovation for the bishop.
“We would like to thank you for having walked with us. We are incredibly thankful to you,” Fr. Leonel said. “You were able to guide us and provide us with everything we need to get where we are today.”
Congregants were elated at the milestone in the church’s history.
“I’m very happy. I feel like we are in heaven. I feel in grace,” said Edna Korn at the conclusion of Mass.
Marcelo and Marilyn Mendonca agreed.
“I feel blessed to be here and be a part of this,” Marcelo Mendonca said. “It was a lot of work to get to this point to have a Brazilian Catholic Church.”
Bishop Caggiano said the New Year may hold yet another milestone for the Brazilian-American Catholic community noting that he has received a petition to make the quasi-parish a full parish.
“With the help of Our Lady of Aparecida you will do great things and I promise you I will walk with you the whole way,” Caggiano said. “I will come back in the New Year and hope to have another gift for you as a parish.”
“Remember that the Church is more than these walls, you are the living Church,” Bishop Caggiano said. “We are only beginning to rebuild the Church one living brick at a time.”