Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

New School Model Proposed for Trinity Catholic

STAMFORD—In the face of declining enrollment and rising budget deficits at Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford, Bishop Caggiano asked parents to join with him to “reboot and re-imagine the school so that it can start growing again.”

About 200 parents, teachers and alumni turned out tonight in the school auditorium as the bishop and diocesan education leaders announced plans to accelerate the transformation of Trinity Catholic High School to a personalized and blended learning model grounded in traditional Catholic values and formation.

During the two-hour meeting, questions about the new teaching model and the fate of Trinity sports programs led to an intense and at times emotional exchange between parents and diocesan officials.

However, the meeting ended on a hopeful note for many in attendance when Bishop Caggiano reassured parents that he is committed to keeping the doors of Trinity Catholic high school open, and he urged them to register their students by May 31.

“I am here with every hope that you will work with us to allow Trinity Catholic to move forward in this new model. This is a moment of real decision for parents, but I believe we have an opportunity to start the school growing again,” he said.

Projected enrollment for the 2019-2020 school yeas has dropped to 175 from the current number of 295 students. To date, 158 students have registered for next year, while there are another 73 current students who have not yet re-registered.

The bishop said that the school can open its doors with a minimum of 160 students, but in order to do so, it must make changes by adopting the personalized learning model and adjusting other programs and activities based on the number of students enrolled.

The bishop began his remarks by saying that above all, the school must be “Catholic first” and form young people in the faith.

The bishop and Dr. Cheeseman, superintendent of schools, first announced plans for personalized learning in a meeting with parents held on January 8 in the school auditorium. At that time, the transition was expected to take two to three years.

The bishop said the decision to move forward immediately is based on declining enrollment, an opportunity to introduce innovative programs, and the need to make the best use of existing resources.

“The current challenges have actually provided us with an opportunity to move forward and accelerate our plans for the long-term, which will enable Trinity Catholic to innovate, to grow and to meet future needs,” he said.

Dr. Cheeseman said that personalized learning has produced higher test scores in other diocesan schools and in both public and private schools across the country where it has been adopted.

Personalized learning is based on direct instruction, online learning, a central learning lab, group projects and seminars, internships and a path for intervention to better diagnose student difficulties and create mastery-based learning skills. It incorporates traditional classroom teaching with new technology and innovative teaching styles.

In order to implement the new teaching model, faculty members will be trained in workshops over the summer, Dr. Cheeseman said.

The diocese is projecting a $1.3 million operating deficit for the next school year. Trinity is also running a $1.5 million budget deficit for the current year. It currently receives more subsidy than the other four diocesan high schools combined.

Dr. Cheeseman said the deficit is largely the result of declining enrollment, and that if the diocese is able to expand the number of students, the school can rebuild and better plan for the future.

Under Bishop Caggiano’s leadership, the diocese has invested significantly in the Trinity Catholic Campus highlighted by the recent completion of a two-year, $5M renovation project including extensive renovations to the school’s media center, classrooms, offices, labs and guidance wings, which were completed in late 2018.

Last month Bishop Caggiano announced a new scholarship opportunity to make Catholic high school education at Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford more affordable and available to more families in lower Fairfield County.

The new Bishop’s Scholarship Initiative for 2019 will award a total of $12,000 ($3,000 for each of four years) to any Catholic student who is currently an 8th-grade student in good standing at one of the five Catholic elementary and middle schools in the area.

An additional scholarship of up to $8,000 ($2,000 for each of 4 years) is available to any student who qualifies for the incoming 9th-grade scholarship and has a sibling currently enrolled in any diocese of Bridgeport Catholic elementary or high school.

Earlier this year, the diocese approved a new governance model for Trinity Catholic. Under the planned governance model, the diocese will continue to sponsor the school and provide global vision, and a new board of directors will provide oversight and decision-making authority on a day-to-day basis.

Trinity Catholic High School is one of five diocesan high schools. The 40-acre campus will also include the Catholic Academy of Stamford upper schools (grades 6-8), which is scheduled to move into a newly renovated space in the Trinity building this fall 2019-20 school year.

The new Cardinal Kung Academy, launched last Fall, is a division of Trinity Catholic High School. Its mission is to support parents in their role as primary educators of their children, by providing a Catholic classical honors-track college-preparatory high school education at a reasonable cost.

Trinity is the only diocesan-sponsored Catholic high school in the greater Stamford area. While most students are from Stamford, it also draws students from Norwalk, New Canaan and Westchester County.

To schedule a tour or visit or for more information on The Bishop’s Scholarship and application procedures including easy online application at Trinity, please contact Mrs. Cindy Willette, director of admissions, via email at: cwillette@trinitycatholic.org.

(Trinity Catholic High School is located at 926 Newfield Ave, Stamford, Conn. 06905
Phone: 203.322.3401. Online: www.trinitycatholic.org.)

Fatima School’s Pink Gala Honors Long-Time Teachers

WILTON—Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School-Wilton held its annual gala on Saturday, May 18 at the Silver Spring Country Club in Ridgefield. Sponsored by the Fatima School Board, the gala is the major fundraising event for the school. This year’s event was entitled Pink Gala “Celebration of Life.” The event honored two beloved, long-time Fatima School teachers and breast cancer survivors, Mrs. Geraldine Galasso and Mrs. Patricia O’Shea.

Principal Stanley Steele noted, “It is the long-term teaching staff that makes Fatima such a unique environment for our students. I am very grateful to both Geri Galasso and Patty O’Shea for their dedication to the school, even as they faced personal health challenges. They have lived the Fatima motto of “Service above Self,” and are true examples to our students.” Clara Taveras, gala chair and school board member also noted, “We are thrilled to have an opportunity to recognize these two teachers who educate and nurture the Fatima student body with tireless devotion and love.”

Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School-Wilton is a co-educational, National Blue Ribbon School offering a Pre-K 3 through grade 8. For tours and admissions information, contact Stanley Steele, Principal at ssteele@olfcatholic.org. The school is located at 225 Danbury Road, Wilton Conn. Phone: 203.762.8100.

(For more information visit www.fatimaschoolwilton.org.)

About our honorees

Mrs. Geraldine Galasso

Mrs. G, as she is affectionately known, is a teacher, Fatima Alumni mother, and a Fatima parishioner for over 26 years!  She has been a stalwart fixture at Fatima School for over 17 years. During her tenure, Mrs. G has taught Grades 1, 4 and most recently, middle school math. She is devoted to her students, spending extensive time with extra help throughout the year and guiding their preparation for high school entrance exams. Geri also serves as the advisor to Student Council. Diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2017,  Geri began remission in 2019. She has been an active participant in the Wilton Relay for Life and Whittingham Cancer Center Walk & Run. Geri is extremely appreciative of the love and outpouring of support she received during her battle with breast cancer. “My students were my inspiration. Having their support motivated me each day.”

Mrs. Patricia O’Shea

Mrs. O’Shea launched her illustrious Fatima School career 19 years ago and has taught third grade ever since! Starting in 2018, she began teaching multi-ages—grades 2 and 3. Beyond the classroom, Mrs. O’Shea has been involved in the after school program, served as a Peer Mediation mentor and assisted in a variety of capacities for the school plays. The entire school awaits the annual Nativity pageant and the October Living Rosary, both of which she has spearheaded every year since her arrival. In 2005, Patty was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer and underwent surgery, treatment and reconstruction.  She has been active in supporting Breast Cancer initiatives, participating in the 2010 36.0 Mile Avon Walk in NYC,  the Wilton Relay for Life and Whittingham Cancer Center Walk & Run. Patty is grateful to Fatima students for helping her “get through” her treatment. “I focused on getting to my classroom each day and teaching…having those little faces looking at me with eager expectation kept me from being discouraged or sad. “

St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School inducts 19 into National Junior Honor Society

FAIRFIELD—St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School inducted 19 rising eighth-graders into the National Junior Honor Society in a ceremony last night. Founded in 1929, The National Junior Honor Society is the nation’s premier organization established to recognize outstanding middle school students. More than just an honor roll, NJHS serves to honor those students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service, citizenship, and character. St. Thomas students inducted were Ryan Backus, Matthew Berardo, Maura Bosse, Noelle Carpanzano, Jake Coerver, Luke Cristodero, Amelia Deeds, Emily Donovan, Grace Kulaga, Lauren Marsden, William Mitchell, Grace Montelli, Sreya Mothukuri, Kolby Northrop, Maeve O’Donnell, Julia Ortiz, Caroline Spengler, Connor Towle, and Mia Whipple.

Principal Dr. Patrick Higgins congratulated and praised the candidates, “We have the outstanding honor of inducting 56% of our current seventh-grade class for inclusion in this organization tonight. It is a testament to these students and their families to have met or achieved such rigorous criteria. We are blessed to have so much support of these important values among St. Thomas community, families and faculty. We are truly preparing tomorrow’s leaders, good citizens, lifelong learners and faithful servants.”

Students who are identified as academically eligible for membership are invited to complete an information packet to support their candidacy in the spring of their seventh-grade year. The activities and grades from the applicants’ sixth and seventh grade are evaluated by the faculty selection committee and the principal.

Students must meet all requirements in each of the five areas. Scholarship: Candidates must have a cumulative scholastic average in each subject, of at least 90% for each of grades 6 and 7. Leadership: The student who exercises leadership is resourceful in identifying problems, applying principles, and proposing new solutions; demonstrates initiative in promoting school activities; exercises a positive influence on peers in upholding school ideals; contributes ideas that improve the civic life of the school; exemplifies a positive attitude; inspires positive ideas in others; demonstrates reliability and dependability; holds school offices or positions of responsibility successfully. Service: Volunteers and provides dependable and well-organized assistance, is gladly available, and is willing to sacrifice to offer assistance; works well with others and is willing to take on difficult or inconspicuous responsibilities; is willing to represent the school in inter-class and inter-scholastic competition; participates in some activity outside of school, for example, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, religious groups; volunteer services for the poor, elderly or disadvantaged; shows courtesy by assisting visitors, teachers, and students. Citizenship: understands the importance of civic involvement; has high regard for freedom, justice, and respect of the American form of government (representative democracy); demonstrates mature participation and responsibility through involvement with such activities as scouting, community organizations, and school clubs. Character; shows an outstanding record of conduct and behavior with regard to school and community rules, guidelines, and policies;  shows sufficient growth and improvement to compensate for previous inadequacies; takes criticism willingly and accepts recommendations graciously; consistently exemplifies desirable qualities of behavior; cooperates by complying with school regulations; demonstrates the highest standards of honesty and reliability; regularly shows concern, courtesy, and respect for others; has self-discipline.

About St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School
St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and recognized as an award-winning Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.  For nearly 100 years in the heart of downtown Fairfield, we have served a critical role in Fairfield County by providing a strong foundation for students in faith and knowledge at an affordable cost for students in pre-K 3-eighth grade.

St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School is conveniently located at 1719 Post Road, Fairfield.

(For additional information please contact Barbara Turner, director of admissions, at 203.255.0556 x.225 or Barbara.turner@stasonline.net.)

Assumption Catholic School ‘Tapes the Teacher’ to raise funds

FAIRFIELD—Today, Assumption Catholic School in Fairfield hosted a “Tape the Teacher” event, during which the teacher (or Father Cipriani, pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Church) who raised the most money towards the school fund was taped to the side of the building.

By a huge lead, the winning team was the Blue Team of veteran teacher Ms. Kathy Andrade with nearly $900 raised. At the beginning of the week, Ms. Andrade’s team was in the lead after the generous contributions of her second-grade class. The total funds raised overall currently stands at over $1250!

Leading up to the event, students of Assumption Catholic School and parishioners of Our Lady of Assumption Church had been spreading the word to ensure support.

Students were encouraged to wear the color of their choice of winner and they took the opportunity to show their school spirit, even bringing in colored pom-poms!

This event came out of an idea to not only raise money for the school but to create increased community throughout our Pre-K 3-8th grade and throughout the greater Fairfield County community at large.

“Anything for the school and the kids!” said Father Cipriani.

PrincipaSantoli stated, “It’s not surprising Ms. Andrade won by a landslide—she would do anything for our kids and hopes to “stick” around for a long time to come. We thank her for her efforts, her team building and all those that supported including a great showing by Father Cipriani and Mrs. Yoney.”

Assumption Catholic School’s Tape the Teacher event will be featured on News12 at 5 pm on Friday, May 17.

Immaculate High School’s Student-Athletes Sign To College Teams

DANBURY—Immaculate High School’s strong athletic program has nurtured many accomplished student-athletes, and several of them will play in college. At the third signing ceremony of the year, student-athletes represented ten sports at colleges and universities, including D1 and D2 schools.   

 

Mikey Basile of Bethel will play basketball at Washington and Lee University, where he will major in Business.  A starting player on the Immaculate boys’ basketball team that won last year’s CIAC Division II State Championship, Basile is a 2016 and 2018 Boys Basketball State Champion. While at Immaculate, he was named to the All-State and SWC First teams for basketball his junior and senior years, to the All-Patriot Team for soccer and was captain of the basketball, soccer and tennis teams.

 

Emma Baughman of Brookfield will play midfield on the Ave Maria University’s D2 women’s lacrosse team. An Immaculate lacrosse player for four years, she ran cross country for three years and indoor track one season.  Baughman will major in Psychology while on a pre-med track and plans to be an ER physician.
Morganne Cartee of New Milford will play D2 soccer as a mid-fielder at Concordia College and is enrolled in the nursing program. Cartee played both midfield and outside defense for the Immaculate girls’ soccer team and ran indoor/outdoor track as a sprinter. Cartee was a member of the soccer team that won a Class ‘M’ State Championship in 2016 and the SWC Conference Championship in 2017, and the team finished as the Class ‘S’ runners-up in 2018 with Cartee as their team captain.  Named to the All-SWC Indoor Track First Team and the All-State Indoor Track Second Team for both her sophomore and junior years, as well as All-SWC her sophomore year, Cartee also received an All-State Second Team recognition for outdoor track and competed at the New Balance Nationals Meet.

 

Christina Carboni of Danbury will run D1 cross country and track for the University of Maine, where she will major in Business.  Carboni ran cross country and track while at Immaculate and was a member of its championship teams.

 

Matt Christe of Brookfield will play for the Norwich University football team where he will major in Political Science. Christe was running back for the Abbott Tech-Immaculate co-op football team (ATI) and was named an All-Conference player twice.

 

Hailey Dubbioso of North Salem, N.Y. will play soccer, forward and outside midfield positions, for Salve Regina University where she will major in Early Childhood and Special Education. Dubbioso was a forward on the Immaculate girls soccer team, which won the 2016 Class M State Championship and the 2017 SWC Championship and finished as the Class ‘S’ runners-up in 2018.

 

Madison Halas of Danbury will play D2 field hockey at Bentley University, where she will play midfield and major in Business.  Halas played the midfield position for both the Immaculate field hockey and lacrosse teams. She was named All-State First Team and All-Conference player three years in a row, CIAC Class S State Championship Player of the Game and to the NFHCA All-Northeast Region Second Team for field hockey.  Halas was a lead player for the Immaculate field hockey team that won the 2018 Class S State Championship. She served as captain for the Immaculate field hockey team since 2016 and as captain of the girls lacrosse team in 2019.

 

Natalie Kennedy of Ridgefield will play D1 women’s ice hockey at Sacred Heart University where she will be a nursing student in the honors program. Natalie has played as a center on the Brewster Lady Bulldogs ice hockey team, where she has been a captain for the last three years, but will most likely play wing at Sacred Heart. The Bulldogs won the New York State Amateur Hockey Association U16 Championship last season and attended the USA Hockey Nationals. At Immaculate, Natalie played defense on the girls lacrosse team and is one of the senior captains.

 

Taylor Mascetta of Danbury will run for the Fordham University D1 track team, where she will be a mid-distance and cross country runner. She will study Communications and Journalism at Fordham. At Immaculate, Mascetta ran cross country and track and field. She ran the 5K and specialized in the 4x800m, 1600m, 3200m and 800m for track and earned All-SWC and All-State honors multiple times. For this school year’s indoor track season, Mascetta was a SWC, State, State Open and New England Champion in the 4x800m and also medaled at New Balance Nationals twice in the Emerging Elite DMR. Mascetta was named MVP during her senior year for the cross country and indoor track seasons and was named a SWC Scholar Athlete. She was part of the 2018 girls cross country team that won both the SWC and the State Class SS Championship titles.

 

Maura Murphy of Ridgefield will run both cross country and track (mid-distance) for Springfield College. As captain, Murphy ran cross country and track. She was a strong member of the Immaculate teams that won the SWC and State Championship titles and earned third place in the New England Nationals meet this Fall.

 

Sophia Pilla of Ridgefield will attend the University of Georgia’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, where she will be a part of their D1 equestrian team. She will study to become a large animal veterinarian.  Pilla had top finishes in the equitation, hunters and jumpers divisions at premier shows across the country. In 2018 she won the Overall Washington Equitation in Lake Placid (N.Y.) and the Maclay in Wellington (Fla.), which qualified Pilla to compete in the George Morris Equitation Championship. Among other honors, she also won multiple titles in the Junior Jumpers in 2018, qualifying for the US Jumper Championship in Washington finishing second in the speed round, and won the $10,000 Junior Jumper Classic at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington.

 

Anna Richards of Ridgefield will major in Nursing at Sacred Heart University, where she will also be a member of its D1 varsity cheerleading squad.  A captain of the Immaculate cheer team her senior year, Richards was named to the SWC All-Patriot cheerleading team. She also played lacrosse at Immaculate her junior and senior years.

 

Allen Riego De Dios of Danbury will run cross country at Western Connecticut University, where he will major in Nursing. While at Immaculate he ran cross country and the 4×800 relay for indoor and outdoor track, and received All-State 2nd Team honors for indoor track and was named Rookie of the Year for cross country. Riego De Dios was a valued member of the 2018 Immaculate boys cross country team that won the State Class SS Championship, the first time the team won that title in school history.

 

Danielle Sekelsky of Bethel will be a varsity D1 cheerleader at Pennsylvania State University, where she will major in Business Finance. While at Immaculate, Sekelsky was a varsity cheerleader who earned Top All-American honors from the National Cheerleaders Association and was a 2019 World Champion with the World Cup Shooting Stars.

 

Lin Marie Vitarbo of Newtown will play on the girls’ soccer team at Mount Saint Mary’s College, where she will major in Biology, pre-veterinary track. At Immaculate, Vitarbo was a member of the girls’ soccer team and was a sprinter for the track teams.

 

Jack Woods of Danbury will play D1 golf at Bryant University, where he will major in finance. While at Immaculate, Woods was named to All-Conference and All-State teams for golf during all four years of school.  He played varsity basketball at Immaculate and was named to the All-SWC First Team. Woods was a leader of the Immaculate Golf Team that won the SWC Championship in 2018 and was a player on the 2018 basketball team that won the State Championship.

 

Immaculate High School is a private, non-profit Catholic college-preparatory institution serving students from 28 communities in Connecticut and New York. Founded in 1962, Immaculate High School allows students to focus on academic excellence, spiritual development, personal commitments and service to others.  Located in Danbury, Conn., Immaculate High School is part of the Diocese of Bridgeport’s parochial school system.

Immaculate High School’s Theatre Department Receives 16 HALO Nominations!

DANBURY—Immaculate High School’s major 2018-19 theatre productions received a total of 16 HALO nominations. The High School Halo Awards honors high school students’ achievements in all aspects of theatre and is sponsored by the Seven Angels Theatre. Immaculate’s Fall Drama “Our Town” and the Spring Musical “PIPPIN” received the following nominations; award winners will be announced at the ceremony in Waterbury on May 28:

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play: James Vigar as Mr. Webb in Our Town

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play: Emilia McGuinness Getzinger as Julia Gibbs in Our Town

Best Costume Design: Elizabeth Varda for Our Town/Pippin

Best Hair and/or Makeup Design: Lin Marie Vitarbo ‘19 for Our Town

Best Lighting Design and/or Execution: Colby Bellone’19 for Our Town/Pippin

Best Stage Management: Dan Wroblewski ‘19 (SM) for Pippin

Best Incidental or Original Music in a Play: Vincent Fontenelli ‘21 for Our Town

Best Dancing: Pippin

Best Specialty Ensemble: Zach Demko ‘19, Alison Harco ‘20, Stella Sabo ‘21, Amber Fairchild ‘21 & Gabriella Casturani ‘19 as Pippin & The 4 Dancers in Pippin

Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Play: Ethan Beaulac ‘21 as George Gibbs in Our Town

Best Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Play: Camille Vail ‘20 as Emily Webb in Our Town

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Classical Play: Nicole Kolitsas ‘21 as Stage Manager in Our Town

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Contemporary Musical: Zach Demko ‘19 as Pippin in Pippin

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Contemporary Musical: Nicole Kolitsas ‘21 as Leading Player Dark in Pippin

Best Classical Play: Our Town

Best Contemporary Musical: Pippin

A high school that inspires vocations

When it was time for Eric Silva to go to high school, his parents made the decision for him—St. Joseph High School—even though he wanted to follow his brother to Trumbull High.

A decade after graduating in 2008, Father Eric Silva has returned as chaplain of the school, which he believes played a decisive role in leading him to the priesthood. His story is part of what Father John Connaughton, vocation director of the Diocese of Bridgeport, describes as a remarkable spiritual phenomenon. Since 2003, there have been seven priests who are alumni of St. Joseph’s and one religious sister. Since the school opened in 1962, there have been 12 vocations.

Father Connaughton, Class of ’94, says in the past 15 years a strong Catholic culture has developed at the school. There has been a rediscovery of the Catholic intellectual tradition, a rediscovery of the sacrament of confession and an increased devotion to Eucharistic Adoration—all part of a spiritual culture conducive to leading young men and women to the religious life.

Alumni include Father John Georgia, ’67; Sister Kathleen Kelly, RSM, ’67; Father Gregory Huminski, ’72; the late Father John Baran, ’76; Father Joseph Marcello, ’94; Father John Connaughton, ’94; Sister Jaime Mitchell, ’95; Father Samuel Kachuba, ’01; Father Michael Novajosky, ’01; Father Robert Wolfe, ’06; Father Krzysztof Kuczynski Jr., ’06, and Father Eric Silva, ’08.

Both Fathers Connaughton and Silva credit Father Joseph Marcello, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena, with changes that began while he was chaplain from 2005 to 2009—11 years after he graduated.

His high school years were formative because the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn emphasized the importance of the Mass and devotion to the Blessed Mother. However, his original plan was to become an attorney like his father, who was a prosecutor and ran the State’s Attorney Office in Bridgeport. He describes his vocation as “an inspired intuition,” a gradual progression.

His parents, Joseph and Ellen, were surprised by his decision because they wanted him to marry and have children, and as Father Marcello says, “In Italian families, a priestly vocation is the best thing that can happen to your best friend’s son.”

He went to St. John Fisher for a year and got a degree in English literature and writing from Fairfield University. Later he went to Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and was ordained May 17, 2003, the anniversary of the canonization of St. Theresa.

His first assignment was at St. Joseph Church in Shelton. From 2009 to 2012, he served as Secretary to Bishop William Lori and from 2012 to 2015 with him as Archbishop of Baltimore. He was appointed pastor of St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull in 2015.

While he was chaplain, he learned the students’ names by studying the yearbook and every morning held the door open and said hello when they arrived at school.

“I simply tried to be a good priest in the school and make the sacraments available to them as best I could,” he recalls.

Over four years, he renovated the sanctuary of the chapel after a donor gave them a new tabernacle and altar. He moved the Mass schedule into the school day so one or two classes could attend and he tried to make it relevant to courses they were studying, whether Latin, Spanish or Italian and say Mass in that language.

He also began regular Eucharistic Adoration and confession, and a course he taught on the relationship between faith and reason became popular with students.

Father Marcello says, “In order to discern a vocation, you have to come from a strong life of faith to begin with. That is why I wanted to make the sacraments available as much as possible, to give students time in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and confession so that their own friendship with Christ could be deepened and they would be able to see clearly where God was calling them.”

He emphasizes that when discerning a priestly vocation, every story is different, but every one centers on the Eucharist. “My goal was to present the faith on its own terms the best I could and leave the rest to the grace of God.”

The Path to the Priesthood
Looking back, Father Silva says, “Holiness is very attractive and I saw people like Father Marcello living out the faith. He is someone who lived the priesthood without compromising. He didn’t lose an ounce of who he was.”

The seeds for his vocation were planted at St. Joseph’s.

“The faith became a reality for me because it was talked about in a very real way,” he said. “I was exposed to the traditions of the Church and different devotions.”

His prayer life deepened and he became active in the High School Apostles Program. He prayed the Rosary, he went to Adoration, he read the lives of the saints. However, the community of faith at St. Joseph’s was taken away when he went to St. Anselm College.

“College was an awkward time,” he said. “I found a group of people who weren’t going to Mass, and so I stopped going too…and did what other people around me were doing.”

During sophomore year, he began attending Sunday Mass and in Lent, he started going every day, which he says was a desire the Holy Spirit put in his heart.

That summer he had an internship at the Catholic Center and met Father Rob Kinnally, then vocation director, and visited St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford. Later, on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of the North American Martyrs in New York, he had a spiritual experience during Eucharistic Adoration.

“The Lord sort of tapped me on the shoulder in Adoration,” he recalled. “He put it into my heart to go into the seminary and there was a peace that came with that.”

He broke up with his girlfriend and left St. Anselm’s to enter St. John Fisher. He got his degree in philosophy from Sacred Heart University and did his theological studies at Mount St. Mary University in Maryland. At 28, he was the youngest priest ordained from the diocese.

Voted Most Likely to Become a Priest
When Sam Kachuba graduated from St. James School in Stratford, he was voted “Most Likely to Become a Priest.” His classmates knew something he didn’t. Today, he is pastor of St. Pius X Church in Fairfield.

“My time at St. Joe’s was extremely formative,” Father Kachuba says. “I learned things about myself that I don’t think I would have learned any place else, and I always felt very supported by my fellow students and faculty.”

In Sam’s freshman year, Frank Marchetti, a religion teacher who had been in the seminary, pulled him aside and encouraged him to consider the priesthood.

He joined campus ministry and took part in his parish youth group. He later learned that Mike Novajosky, who sat behind him in Spanish class, was considering the priesthood and they became close friends. Today, Father Novajosky is pastor of The Cathedral Parish at St. Augustine’s.

The seed was planted at a young age when he started serving Mass at St. Mark’s in Stratford. “I was introduced to serving at the altar and being around priests,” Father Kachuba recalled. “And my parents were very serious about making sure we prayed together as a family.”

Msgr. McMahon had a profound influence on him in addition to Father Tom Lynch, recently retired pastor of St. James, who once told him, “Sam, the priesthood is really a great life.”

He and Michael Novajosky entered St. John Fisher together. Father Novajosky enrolled in the Basselin Scholars Program at Catholic University while Father Kachuba went to Sacred Heart University and finished his bachelor’s in philosophy at Fordham. He went on to the North American College in Rome and the Gregorian. He was ordained on May 17, 2008.

From ‘boy crazy’ to crazy about Christ
Jaime Mitchell was sent to St. Joseph’s against her will.

“My mother wanted me to go to a Catholic high school, and I pretty much fought her  because I wanted to go to Trumbull High,” Jaime said. But she agreed to try it for a month and her opinion changed.

“I liked it and made friends pretty easily,” she said. “There is definitely a community spirit there and a lot of camaraderie.”

From first grade, Jaime thought she might have a religious vocation, but she was “boy crazy” in high school, she says. After graduating in 1995, she went to Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island and majored in hospitality management. Her career included positions at Robustelli Travel and Fairfield University. Her career was advancing, but her spiritual life was stagnant.

“I went the opposite way, the way of the culture, and found myself hanging out with people who liked to go drinking and partying,” she says. Until she went on a retreat and had what she describes as “an encounter with the Risen Lord.” She returned home, broke up with her boyfriend and started attending daily Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. Over the next few years, she went through several jobs, and her mother Marilyn told her, “I think you’re missing your vocation.”

Jaime looked into several religious communities and saw a video about the Franciscans of the Eucharist, who work in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago.

She recalls: “I said to the Lord, ‘I’m 35 years old, and we’ve got to get this vocation thing settled. I’m not looking anywhere else, so if this doesn’t work out, sorry. But if it’s meant for me, I really want to work with the poor and live with people who strive to be holy and want to do things for You.” She gave Jesus a list of “job requirements” … and He fulfilled them all.

In January 2013, she entered the community as a postulate and recently professed her final vows. “It’s everything I wanted and more,” she said. “God has been really good to me. He has shown me His love in so many ways and in the littlest details.”

Working with students
Leading students to faith is a daily job for Father Silva. Describing his role as chaplain, he says, “First and foremost, I just try to be present. There is a real need for a renewal of spiritual fatherhood. These kids are hungry for a spiritual father in their lives.”

He begins his day at the front door, greeting students as they arrive. He has morning prayer and Mass during second period. Students come to chat with him and during lunch, teachers bring their classes for Adoration and he hears confessions. Young people, he says, are thirsty for Christ’s compassion and mercy.

“I always felt I could come home to St. Joe’s High School because of the community, because of the people who are here,” he says. “I firmly believe it continues to provide those opportunities for young men and women, who need to be encouraged to follow the religious life.”

Counter-cultural Catholics
Father Connaughton says priests and parents must do their part in nurturing vocations and guiding “their children to do what the Lord has created them to do.” Whatever that may be.

“I have a lot of hope for the future of the diocese,” he says. “I see young people who are so much more engaged in the life of the faith than I was at their age and that’s a sign of God’s grace at work. We have to recognize the challenges we face but also realize there are many young people whose lives have been touched by the Holy Spirit and who want to be intentionally Catholic and be more authentic witnesses of Catholicism in a world that hungers for it without even knowing it.”

By Joe Pisani

Arts in the Park at Immaculate High School

DANBURY—Ready for summer? Head over to Immaculate High School’s annual Arts In The Park art and music event on Thursday, May 23 from 6-8 pm. This free beach-themed event, open to the public, features original and varied artwork produced by IHS students to the musical accompaniment of student musicians and singers. There will also be a silent auction featuring original artwork on repurposed stools and a special t-shirt and original ceramic pendants of seashells and surfboards will be available for purchase. T-shirts can be purchased in advance at www.immaculatehs.org/artsinthepark or at the Arts Show.
Immaculate High School is a private, non-profit Catholic college-preparatory institution serving students from 28 communities in Connecticut and New York. Founded in 1962, Immaculate High School allows students to focus on academic excellence, spiritual development, personal commitments and service to others.  Located in Danbury, Conn., Immaculate High School is part of the Diocese of Bridgeport’s parochial school system.

News from Villa Maria School!

STAMFORD—There is a lot happening in the month of May for Villa Maria School! Our word of the month for May is Creativity, and needless to say, it is evident in all the events taking place: Art Fair, STEM Fair, Career Day, Grandparents Day, Dedication and Blessing of the Performing Arts Center, Annual Performance, etc.

Performing Arts Center

The dedication and blessing of the Peggy O’Malley Performing Arts Center will take place at Villa Maria School on Friday, May 17 at 10:30 am with Bishop Frank Caggiano officiating. Tom and Mary Alice O’Malley from Greenwich have been generous benefactors to the school since their daughter, Peggy attended Villa. There will be a presentation by the students, followed by the blessing and dedication, remarks, and power point presentation. The event will conclude with a luncheon in the convent for all the guests.

125th Anniversary

The Bernardine Franciscan Sisters came from Poland to the USA 125 years ago. They served the people in Stamford at Holy Name Parish, Holy Spirit Parish, and Villa Maria Retreat House and School. The Sisters of Heart of Mary Convent and their Associates, together with Msgr. Kevin Royal and the parishioners in Holy Spirit Parish will celebrate the 125th Anniversary at the 11:30 Mass on Sunday, May 19. The celebration will focus on the Congregation and also on all the Sisters who were principals and teachers at Holy Spirit School. The Bernardine Associates are helping with the celebration and will be Readers and Eucharistic Ministers at the Mass which will be followed with a brunch in the parish center.

Villa Rolls Out the Red Carpet

Every year, our students do an annual performance and this year, it is “Villa Rolls Out the Red Carpet.”  Students will perform songs, play different instruments, share the history of some of the songs, etc.  The whole school opener will “Be Our Guest” (from Beauty and the Beast), and the closer will be “This Is Me” (from The Greatest Showman), before departing the stage and risers with “So Long, Farewell” (from The Sound of Music). Of course, there will be a red carpet; a five-foot reel and Oscar; a popcorn machine with a cart; plus pole and rope stanchions on loan from The Palace Theatre. The dates of the performances are Wednesday, May 22 at 12:30 pm and Thursday, May 23 at 6:30 pm. Students wrote their bios which will be posted in the foyer.

Villa Maria School is a non-profit, co-educational school in Stamford, Conn. serving students with learning disabilities.

(For more information visit: www.villamaria.edu.)

Four SJ student-athletes to sign SCAA letters of intent

TRUMBULL—St. Joseph High School, southern Connecticut’s premier college preparatory school, announced today the names of four senior student-athletes who will sign National Letters of Intent. With the addition of 4 new student-athlete signings, the Class of 2019 celebrates 20 signings total, a new record for the school.

The National Letter of Intent (NLI) is a document used to indicate a student-athlete’s commitment to participating in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) colleges and universities in the United States. The National Letter of Intent is a binding agreement between a prospective student-athlete and an NLI member institution. The following St Joes Seniors will participate:

Emily Fedor – Track – Central Connecticut State University – Division I
Sierra Clark – Soccer – American International College – Division II

Kyren Jones – Football – Utica College – Division III

Dori Grasso – Soccer – Manhattanville College – Division III

Student-athletes, their families, and coaches will come together in St Joe’s Health & Wellness Center to sign their letters of intent.

“St Joseph High School is proud to be able to host yet another signing day,” remarked Stacey Nasser, Associate Athletic Director. “Our senior athletes have worked incredibly hard year round – both on the field and in the classroom – and we can’t wait to watch their journeys in college and beyond.”

As part of their NLI, prospective student-athletes agree to attend the institution full-time for one academic year and the institution agrees to provide athletes financial aid for one academic year.
About St Joseph High School

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

Advanced Math Club Strikes Gold…Again!

NEWTOWN—The St. Rose School Advanced Math Club has been notified that its Gold Level Project received the Gold Level Award—the highest level—for the ninth consecutive year. Currently St. Rose the only school in Conn. to have reached the Gold Level this year.

Last November, the students began planning, researching and creating their project during the club’s once-a-week meetings. This year the assignment was to create a high-level mathematical game using middle-grade math concepts. The students decided to create a bingo board game using concepts involving the conversion between fractions, decimals and percents. The game, entitled “Mango Bingo” is designed for Grades 5-7.

Upon reviewing the submission, The National Math Club announced that it was complete and satisfied all the requirements noting “this is an extremely commendable accomplishment.

St. Rose School is listed on the Gold List on the MATHCOUNTS website: www.mathcounts.org

Each student received their Gold Level Certificate and the school received its ninth banner from the National Math Club. “We are extremely proud of what our Mathletes accomplished in this year-long challenge. They show a great level of commitment and effort,” said Ms. Elaine Smith, Advanced Math Club Moderator.

Way to go, Mathletes!

St. Rose of Lima Catholic School is a Christ-centered community committed to academic excellence in an atmosphere that nurtures the spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical and moral development of each child. The dedicated staff partners with families to prepare students to be responsible leaders in a global society by fostering integrity, service and respect. By creating a sense of family where all are welcome, they encourage each child to develop his/her gifts and to become Christ’s compassionate heart and hands in the world. They center their community of learning around the four core values of respect, integrity, academic excellence and service. Their spirituality is fostered through their close connection with St. Rose of Lima church. Students attend weekly Mass and are blessed by the continual presence of Msgr. Robert Weiss and the other parish priests.

(For more information on St. Rose of Lima school, visit their website at: www.stroseschool.com.)

Immaculate High School’s First  Engineering Team Wins Awards at National Competition

DANBURY—Immaculate High School engineering students recently represented the State of Connecticut in the 2019 National Real World Design Challenge (RWDC) after winning the State competition in January and took home two major awards. The Brave Engineers Team captured the National Best First Year Team Award for scoring the highest both in the writing and oral sections. The team also won the International Merit Award —Judges Award, an award for an exceptional team that the judges felt “had qualities that were not captured by other awards but were worthy of recognition.”
The team competed at the Real World Design Challenge in Washington, DC on April 13.  The RWDC annual competitions are run by public and private partnerships that work to set a solid foundation for the future STEM workforce. This was the first time Immaculate sent a team to the State and National competitions.
The IHS Brave Engineers team members are James Vigar ‘19 of Ridgefield (team leader, theory of operation and design), Keelan Doherty ‘20 of Danbury (design engineer), Yuxuan Brittany Hu ‘19 of Ridgefield (business case), Ruining Nancy Yang ‘19 of Danbury (safety manager) and Mackenzy Garden ‘19 of Danbury (graphic design and coordination). The team is coached by IHS Math teacher Mrs. Jeanine Antonios and mentored by Mr. Syed Raza and Mrs. Ruthanne Szumski of Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Engines.
“The national challenge added more constraints than the State-level challenge and included a written and oral presentation in addition to the revised engineering notebook,” said Mrs. Antonios. “The IHS team was the only U.S. team to get two Merit Awards. But more important, the students gained a unique experience exposing them to real world problems and gave them the opportunity to acquire professional skills,” she noted.
The RWDC 2019 Challenge provides high school students the chance to work on real-world engineering challenges using professional science and engineering resources in a virtual environment by applying classroom lessons to real-life challenges found in the working world.
The challenge was titled the “Unmanned Aerial System Challenge: Pilot Urban Survey Mission and required participating teams to design a drone within certain constraints to survey the health of plants in an urban setting. It also had to follow safety guidelines and build a business case that is profitable to the city and the company.
Immaculate High School is a private, non-profit Catholic college-preparatory institution serving students from 28 communities in Connecticut and New York. Founded in 1962, Immaculate High School allows students to focus on academic excellence, spiritual development, personal commitments and service to others.  Located in Danbury, Conn., Immaculate High School is part of the Diocese of Bridgeport’s parochial school system.
From left to right : Keelan Doherty, Ruining Nancy Yang, Mackenzy Garden, Yuxuan Brittany Hu , James Vigar

St. Thomas Aquinas Holds Annual Student Art Exhibit

FAIRFIELD—St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School opened its annual student art show with a reception last night for an enthusiastic crowd of families, faculty and guests. This year’s show theme was “Elements of Art” and displayed classroom work created by each grade, Pre-K through 8th grade.  Ms. Bello, St. Thomas’ Art teacher, explained how the art curriculum focuses on teaching the seven key elements of art:  line, color, value, shape, form, texture, space.   The show highlighted the art elements practiced, the techniques applied, and the various media employed:  watercolor, clay, chalk, marker, paper collage, brush & ink.   Ms. Bello commented, “Classroom instruction incorporates an interdisciplinary approach to hands-on art making, we study the influences of various significant artists such as Kandinsky, Klee, Stella, Mondrian, Rousseau; and periods of art history—modern, abstract, cubism as it relates to their projects.  Before executing their projects for this exhibit, students learned color theory; practiced techniques such as shading, blending colors, varying the weight of lines; outlined and experimented with design and layout.”

Kindergarten was inspired by the illustration style of Ezra Jack Keats in his children’s classic, The Snowy Day.  After reading the book and studying the illustration, students worked in multimedia collage to create their own scene and “selfie” using chalk painting and torn paper. The class instruction included a lesson on space, where items are placed to create a background and foreground.  They used metallic paint to mimic the reflection of glass. Students blended chalk by hand, careful to blend up to the edges of the paper.  This was also an age-appropriate exercise in dexterity.

The fifth graders studied abstract works of Frank Stella, which was immediately recognizable in the show for its use of color and geometric elements.  This project aligned with their math curriculum, as they incorporated geometric shapes, fractions, radius, perimeter and angle into their collage work. Students blended colors and explored the element of value by varying dark “shades” and lighter “tints”.

Sixth grade exhibited collages entitled “Helping Hands” made with paper and sharpie markers.  Students were challenged to make a clear distinction between foreground and background and created the illusion of multi-dimensional space using multiple art elements—color vs. black and white; geometric angle vs. freeform shape; intricate, intertwining, organic patterns vs. solid, straight lines.  Students demonstrated their advanced understanding of color theory using contrasting, complementary, analogous, and primary and secondary colors in their compositions.

Seventh-grade classes exhibited a detailed design plan along with their texturized and glazed clay plates. This project illustrated art-making as a planned process, not just a spontaneous expression.  Students developed the design, color and texture of their work in watercolor and crayon “resist”.   A resist is created when the crayon wax and water of the paint react or repel. Students experimented with color value to create an “ombre” (transition from dark to light) effect.  Once they were satisfied with the plan, they executed the final work and wrote an “artist statement” describing their process and result.

The eighth graders worked on a “Zentangle” assignment. Zentangle (or “doodle”) method is a study in mark-making, as much as it is a creative process through which the artist can achieve a state of “zen-like” calmness.  The artist incorporates imagery, patterns and symbols as means of self-expression. Students were restricted to a palette of black and white, challenging them to create the effect of texture, dimension by varying line weight, the concentration of marks, using cross-hatching techniques.  To accompany this project, 8th graders were asked to reflect on their St. Thomas experience, and write a statement about faith formation, education, friendships formed and values developed at St. Thomas.

The show closes Wednesday, May 1, but the exhibition catalog can be viewed on the school website, www.stasonline.net.

About Ms. Bello
This is Ms. Bello’s 6th year as the art teacher for grades K-8 at St. Thomas Aquinas.  She earned her B.S. in Art Education at Southern Connecticut State University and her Connecticut Teaching Certification with a specialization in Ceramics.  Her honor’s thesis was incorporating Interdisciplinary Curriculum: (Physics and Art) with children’s literature and watercolor illustrations. “When I see that my technique for teaching an art concept is received with excitement, curiosity, and followed by engrossed and passionate focus, I know I’ve succeeded as a teacherUltimately, I want my students to share my enthusiasm for art and learning. It is my goal for their experience in my classroom to leave them feeling empowered as artists and valued as people. I want their experience to be exciting, intriguing, and memorable as they expand their artistic horizons.”

About St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School
St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and recognized as an award-winning Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.  For nearly 100 years in the heart of downtown Fairfield, we have served a critical role in Fairfield County by providing a strong foundation for students in faith and knowledge at an affordable cost for students in pk3-8th grade.

St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School is conveniently located at 1719 Post Road, Fairfield.

For additional information please contact Barbara Turner, Director of Admissions, at 203.255.0556 x.225 or Barbara.turner@stasonline.net

Holy Trinity Catholic Academy Girls Win Basketball League

SHELTON—The Holy Trinity Catholic Academy Girls Junior Varsity Basketball team from Shelton, Conn. won the St. Ann’s Basketball League this past weekend.

The mostly sixth-grade HTCA girls team dominated the season and finished with a final record of 16-0 (12-0 regular season and 4-0 in the playoffs).

Offensively, the girls were a dual threat with a super-fast transition and three-pointer shooting accuracy.

Defensively, they stifled opponents with an aggressive man to man set up. They averaged 27 points per game while only allowing their opponents 13 points per game.

Holy Trinity Catholic Academy strives for academic excellence in a safe, faith-based Catholic environment. The Academy offers a challenging and inclusive program to meet the needs of the 21st century. Students are nurtured and educated to achieve their fullest potential as life-long learners. Guided by a moral compass that promotes strong values and a sense of integrity, each child is prepared to serve God and the community.

(For more information visit the website at: www.valley.newhavenindependent.org)

This article was originally published on the Valley Independent Sentinel.

CAS Students Excel In Knights of Columbus Geography Bee

STAMFORD—On Saturday, March 16, Olivier Czoch, Annika Natarajan and John Thomas represented The Catholic Academy of Stamford in the Knights of Columbus Geography Bee in Danbury, Conn. Twenty-six students from 11 schools faced 121 questions on world, North American and regional geography. Olivier tied six other students for fifth place by working into the seventh round, while Annika and John tied for twelfth by working into the sixth round.

Congratulations to Olivier, Annika, and John!

The GeoBee took place at St. Joseph School in Danbury and was hosted by the Knights of Columbus Council #29. It was the Ninth Annual Knights of Columbus Southwestern Connecticut Regional Catholic Geography Bee and the first time The Catholic Academy of Stamford participated in the event.

The Catholic Academy of Stamford forms and nurtures its children in the Gospel Values of the Catholic Faith. It educates in a superior academic environment which challenges its children to discover and to fully develop their unique abilities and talents. Students are encouraged to love God, learning and one another.

(For more information visit their website at: www.catholicacademystamford.org.)