NEWTOWN—St. Rose of Lima School recently held an Open House, which was incredibly well attended, despite having to postpone it from the previous week. “It was exciting to welcome so many prospective families into our halls,” remarked Laura Moulder, director of mission advancement.

St. Rose had a spectacular Catholic Schools Week, which ran from Monday, January 31 through Thursday, February 3. “There was so much spirit in the building and the students were very excited to participate in the fun activities,” said Moulder.

On Monday (January 31) there was a Spirit Walk through the halls to honor 8th-graders  Later that day, the school held its traditional mechanical pig races which always bring great excitement to all grade levels. Every class names and decorates a mechanical pig, which races in heats. The teachers stand behind the pigs  (in case they start wandering off) as children in those grades hold signs and call out for their class pig. Once a pig crosses the finish line that class pig will race the winner of the next heat and so on. In the end, the 8th-grade class pig, Peppa Pig, won.

Tuesday, February 1 was student appreciation day. As a treat, students could dress down and there were no tests or homework. In the afternoon they visited the gathering hall turned ice cream shop for ice cream floats (orange soda or root beer with vanilla ice cream). That was a big hit!

On Wednesday, the 8th-grade and faculty played a fun and competitive game of volleyball. This event was very exciting, with students in the stands cheering for teachers or 8th-graders (typically the younger grades root for teachers and the older students favor the 8th-graders.)  It was a close game but the 8th graders were ultimate victors after two, 15-minute sessions. The final score was 37 to 34 and their opponents cheered the loudest! There was great sportsmanship all around. (As a fun twist, many teachers wore tutus for 2-2-22!  Students wore sports jerseys and sweatshirts)

More fun on Thursday as every class had a chance to play life-size Hungry Hungry Hippos! The gym floor was filled with colorful balls that teams of two swept up with laundry baskets. The team with the most balls wins!

In celebration of the 100th day of school, students in the younger grades dressed as 100-yea- olds in recognition of this milestone. The Home & School Association hosted a special lunch for teachers.

Over the weekend, students dressed in their school uniforms, handed out handmade thank you cards to show their appreciation for parishioners at St. Rose Church as they exited the church after Masses. Students also made cards for residents in nursing homes and veterans during Catholic Schools Week outreaches.

On Thursday, February 3, St. Rose School kindergarten teacher Mrs. Donna Rahtelli and first-grade teacher Mrs. Jeanne Vitetta received grants from Foundations in Education for the following classroom initiatives that they proposed:

Kindergarten —Exploring Scientific Wonders in Kindergarten ($1,500 grant)

First Grade—Imagination Reading Station ($750)

These programs, which will be implemented in the 2022-2023 school year, will add a wonderful dimension for kindergarten and first-grade students.

On another exciting front, Art Teacher, Mrs. Meagan Ferriter, has announced that students’ artwork has been chosen to be part of a traveling exhibition. Mrs. Ferriter is involved with an organization called “Fermata Arts” based out of Avon, Conn. that promotes peace and mutual respect, understanding and cooperation between countries of the Former Soviet bloc and the United States. Through the sharing of children’s art in traveling exhibitions in public libraries in New England and the tri-state area, the mission is to promote positivity and hope for our world through the universal language that is children’s creativity.

Currently, Fermata Arts is running an open-ended project entitled, “Peace in the World,” including contributions from 11 schools from countries such as Belarus, Latvia, Russia, Bulgaria, Estonia and Lithuania. In fact, right now at the Cyrenius Booth Library, there is a Ukrainian exhibition on display through the end of February. “In light of current events in Ukraine, this is an important way to remind us all that children worldwide need adults to find peaceful solutions to grown-up problems,” wrote Mrs. Ferriter in a letter to parents about the project.

Fourteen students’ rural winter watercolor landscapes were chosen based on their ability to encapsulate the peace of New England winter. The students chosen ranged from 5th-8th-grade.

Yesterday (February 7) the following letter was issued to parents from Superintendent Steven Cheeseman concerning the mask mandate.

Download the PDF version of the letter or read below.

Dear Parents:

This afternoon, Governor Lamont held a press conference indicating that the statewide mask mandate would no longer be in effect and that mask choice would be determined at the local level. He “recommended” February 28th as the date to make this change. Although the Governor “recommended” February 28th, I have chosen to end our mask mandate on Valentine’s Day, February 14th. Therefore, starting Monday, February 14th, Diocese of Bridgeport Catholic schools will move to a Mask Optional policy. This change comes in response to the decline in the number of confirmed cases and the strong vaccination rate among faculty, staff and eligible students. It also reflects the lower positivity rates in children.

As we make this change, please note the following:

  • We recognize and support the recommendation of the CDC regarding student masking, but Diocesan schools will move to a mask optional environment effective February 14, 2022.
  • Masks may be required on buses, as transportation is provided by the district and they may require them.
  • Our schools are no longer conducting contact tracing nor excluding potential contacts.
  • Those individuals who test positive WILL continue to be excluded from school.
  • We recognize and respect mask choice. Everyone should be treated with kindness and respect whether they choose to wear a mask or not.
  • Students will not be segregated, nor will they be separated by any barrier regardless of mask choice.
  • Our schools will be open to parents and visitors as appropriate.
  • Students may be required to wear masks on field trips if the venue requires it.
  • It is imperative that parents act responsibly and keep kids home if they are sick or experiencing any covid-like symptoms.
  • We reserve the right to reverse this decision on a school-by-school basis should there be a spike in cases within the school or local community.

Let us pray that we continue moving closer to normalcy. May God bless our school communities with good health and may Our Lady shower us with Her blessings.


Dr. Steven F. Cheeseman
Superintendent of Schools
Diocese of Bridgeport

DANBURY—Immaculate High School announced that student Caroline Tucker ‘22 will receive the Congressional Award for her service as a student-teacher for the Children’s Leadership Training Institute (CLTI), a program that teaches children about community, inclusion and civic engagement.  In addition, Caroline volunteered at the Families Network of Western CT, Inc., a nonprofit organization that sponsors the CLTI.

Caroline, a leading scholar at Immaculate, was recognized by the United States Congress for her qualifying 400 hours of volunteer service for organizations such as the Danbury Children’s Leadership Institute that make a difference in the Danbury community. The Congressional Award was established to recognize initiative, service, and achievement in young people and is the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

As an advocate for service to others, Caroline encourages others to “try and pursue this honor if they are passionate about impacting their community and putting themselves outside of their comfort zone. It was definitely a great experience for me.”  Caroline will receive her award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

As part of its Catholic Schools Week celebration, Immaculate High School invited Danbury Mayor Dean Esposito to visit the school and meet with SCA President Gavin Buttafucco, SCA Vice President Kennedi Muller and Mock Trial Captains Nikolas Badinelli and Allie Bellone.

Born and raised in Danbury, Mayor Esposito discussed with students his prior service as a five-term City Councilman, service as the Town Clerk and as the Chief of Staff for Mayors Mark Boughton and Joe Cavo. Most importantly, Mayor Esposito shared his pride in continuing his family’s legacy to serve all constituents of the City of Danbury.

In addition to a tour of the school facility, students and Social Studies Chairperson Joanne DeMassa presented Mayor Esposito with letters citing the importance of Catholic education.  Immaculate High School Principal Wendy Neil acknowledges “that the Mayor inspired our young students to strive to do their best, follow their passion and to become influential leaders who make a difference for others.”

DANBURY—For its fourth year, the Immaculate High School Brave Engineers team competed and won the Real World Design Challenge’s State Champion Governor’s Award.

In a letter to students Nikolas Badinelli, Carolyn Jandura, Mario Perez, Paulina Garcia, Ava Viola, Yipeng Zhao, and Nicole Radliff from RWD founder Dr. Ralph Coppola, students were complimented on their “demonstrated ability and significant achievement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics” and were cited to be among the most innovative students.

The 2022 RWD project challenge was titled the “Unmanned Aircraft System Challenge: Airspace Integration of UAS Package Delivery” which required participating teams to design a drone within certain constraints to deliver packages in an urban setting. The team had to follow safety guidelines and build a business case that is profitable to the city and the company.

The Brave Engineers team, coached by IHS Math and Engineering teacher Mrs. Jeanine Antonios and mentored by Mrs. Ruthanne Szumski of Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Engines, is invited to compete at the national and international competition in April.

RWDC is a partnership between industry, government, academia, and non-profit. The partners are committed to bringing a program to schools that brought professional engineering resources into the classroom. The partners are focused on working within the context of the American educational system to transform STEM education in the United States by providing professional science and engineering and learning resources to students and teachers.

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.

DANBURY—Hundreds of acts of kindness were pledged and thousands of dollars were raised during the second annual St. Joseph School fundraising campaign.

A telethon-style rock concert, held in the school gymnasium and broadcast live on Vimeo for students logged in at home to participate, raised more than $14,000 for the school.

“It’s an exciting way to kick-off the kindness campaign for the children,” said Megan Cerullo, director of advancement and marketing for the Main Street school.

Students emailed family and friends to raise funds for the school and in return the students pledged to perform acts of kindness at home, in school or in the community.

“This beautiful premise aligns so well with our Catholic school mission to promote a life full of compassion, empathy and gratitude, and further fosters the importance of service that we aim to instill in our children’s lives,” said Dr. Louis Howe, school principal.

Dr. Howe co-hosted the rock concert with 4th-grade student Caio Ninja as members the DOC rock band, Disciples of Christ. Both were dressed in rock attire with Howe donning platform black boots, a purple jersey and a black mullet wig.

Howe sang rock songs with Christian-themed lyrics such as “Born in Bethlehem,” to the tune of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” and “Because He Rocks,” to the tune of “I Wanna Rock,” by Twisted Sister.

Students at home and those in the gymnasium were encouraged to rock along with air guitar, drum or keyboard antics. Staff members interacted with students at home via text chats during the evening.

Between songs, each grade from pre-K to eighth-grade would announce what organization they would be partnering with to help. A representative of that organization spoke briefly about the organization and what it means to have the support from the school.

“Thank you for doing what you have to do to donate to our organization,” said John Gentile, president and co-founder of the Connecticut Youth Leadership Project, an organization empowering youth with disabilities to realize their potential. Fifth graders pledged to fill backpacks for the organization.

Second-graders pledged to make handmade tie blankets for new moms at Birthright, a pro-life organization helping new moms. Eighth-graders pledged to collect food for Hillside Food Outreach and students from the National Junior Honor Society will deliver the food and stock the pantry shelves for the organization.

“The children of St. Joseph School serve year-round and this campaign is a wonderful way to continue their commitment while also helping keep our special school financially healthy,” Howe said.

Howe said funds raised for the school will go toward the bathroom renovation project as well as enhanced security measures at the school.

In addition to the acts of kindness for the charity partner organizations, a percentage of the money raised by each grade up to $500 will be given to each organization.

Local snack business, Lesser Evil, sponsored the campaign by donating snacks for the event and donating a full-size bag of popcorn to each family at the school.

(Anyone who wishes to support the children on their kindness mission can contribute at

DANBURY— In their first Mock Trial round, Immaculate High School’s team members were recognized for their outstanding performance in a civil case regarding an injury sustained by a player in a soccer tournament. Sponsored by Civics First, Mock Trial is a unique program that teaches an understanding of trial law along with language and communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills in a real-life trial setting with students competing against their peers throughout the state.

Attorney Mary-Caitlin Cronin and Attorney Kristin Chiriatti have been volunteering to prepare the Immaculate team for the 2022 trial competitions. On the plaintiff side, Allie Bellone was awarded Best Attorney, Nik Badinelli as Second Best Attorney, and Ben Gasparinni as Best Witness.  On the defense side, Carolyn Jandura was awarded Best Attorney, Gavin Buttafuoco as Second Best Attorney, and Ernst Koch as Third Best Witness.  The 2022 team will move forward to the next round of competition scheduled for this Friday, February 4.

Civics First promotes law-related education programs in Connecticut’s public, private, and parochial schools. Students who participate in these programs develop self-confidence, critical thinking, and public speaking skills while learning about the Constitution and the rule of law.

Included in team photo:

Students: Nikolas Badinelli (Danbury), Allie Bellone (Redding), Chloe Bellone (Redding), Gavin Buttafuoco (New Fairfield), Aiden Doolabh (Danbury), Charles Doran (Danbury), Calista Dudas (Redding), Deirdre Dwyer (Bridgewater), Ben Gasparrini (Ridgefield), Memphis Garvin (Danbury), Carolyn Jandura (Redding), Ernst Koch (Danbury), and Jude Vail (Brookfield). Teacher-Advisor: Chris Houser. Attorneys: Mary-Caitlin Cronin and Kristin Chiriatti.

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 also allows students to focus on academic excellence, spiritual development, service to others, and personal goals. Located in Danbury, Conn., Immaculate High School is part of the Diocese of Bridgeport’s school system.

DANBURY—Five Immaculate High students are winners of the 2022 Scholastic Fine Arts and Writing Awards. The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards recognize and inspire bold ideas in creative teens each year. In the writing category, winners are Caitlin Doherty ’22 and Matthew Reeves ’22, and in the arts category, winners are Julong Williams ’22,  Anna Kopec ’23, and Caroline Tucker ’22.

Caitlin Doherty has received the Gold Key Award for “An Absence of Forgetting,” “Ghost Guns are Real Guns,” and “Pennies and Brown Paper.” In addition, Caitlin has received an honorable mention for the personal essay “A Familiar Set of Stairs.” Matthew Reeves received an honorable mention for his critical essay “Monsieur Meursault: The Absurd Stranger.”

Julong Williams received a Gold Key for her digital drawing “Dolphin Plane,” Anna Kopec received a Gold Key for her digital drawing “Amber Eyes,” and Caroline Tucker received a Silver Key for her drawing “The Funeral.”

The awards ceremony will be virtual via Zoom on Saturday, February 12, 2022, from 2-3:30 pm, and the works are on exhibit at the Silpe Gallery at The University of Hartford from January 18 through February 4, 2022.

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 also allows students to focus on academic excellence, spiritual development, service to others and personal goals. Located in Danbury, Conn., Immaculate High School is part of the Diocese of Bridgeport’s school system.

BRIDGEPORT—As schools around the diocese gear up for Catholic Schools Week, it is important to reflect on the many continued achievements of our diocesan schools, even amidst the difficult days of the pandemic.

“While there can be no doubt that the pandemic has challenged our schools, our leaders, our teachers and our families, we must acknowledge the many blessings that have come from everyone’s commitment to mission and focus on academic success of students,” wrote Dr. Steve Cheeseman, superintendent of schools, in a letter introducing Diocesan Schools Office’s 2021 Annual Report.

Readers can peruse the annual report in more detail in the following pages, and will find many encouraging statistics that Catholic education is alive and well. In fact, student enrollment increased by 11 percent in 2021, which is the highest increase in enrollment in decades.

The fact that our diocesan Catholic Schools are thriving is especially evident when Dr. Cheeseman visits and gets to see students and teachers in action!

When Dr. Cheeseman visited St. Joseph School in Danbury, they kept him busy with a Saint project, games, violin, making the tallest tree in Innovation Lab, and reviewing math and reading skills.

At St. Raphael Academy in Bridgeport, first-graders couldn’t wait to show off their improved handwriting, and second-graders class couldn’t wait to share what they’d learned about Christmas in France and invited Dr. Cheeseman to make a yule log cake with them.

In the third grade classroom, they put his math skills to the test and in the Innovation Zone, there was nothing short of creative ideas going on. In preschool, he didn’t shy away from making slime and helping a group match their colors and shapes.

It didn’t matter which grade he visited, it was clear that the students and staff were just as happy to see Dr. Cheeseman as he was to see each and every one of them.

At St. Augustine Academy in Bridgeport, each classroom had a student representative excited to share with him what they were learning—the middle schoolers were working with Exact Path, running through their station rotations in reading and math, studying for their Spanish quiz by playing a game, where Dr. Cheeseman scored a point—buen trabajo!

One of the fifth-grade classes was working through a life science lesson and was able to talk through the plant life cycle, while the other fifth-grade class enjoyed showing him how to play We Wish You A Merry Christmas with maracas.

The fourth graders enjoyed talking to him about his role as superintendent and they all agreed they enjoyed his school visits as much as he did! With that, he ended his visit in grade 4 where he got blessed with Kindness Sprinkles, ranked in first place during their Kahoot game, and was told how grateful the students were to him for always protecting the schools.

With that, he wrapped up the visit with a special announcement for a dress-down day as an appreciation for all the student’s hard work!

(For more information, visit:

STRATFORD—St. Mark School actively seeks ways to put faith into action. This year, students, faculty and staff are participating in the “Chalice Challenge,” an initiative presented by the Diocese of Bridgeport Office of Vocations.

On a bi-weekly basis, a golden chalice gets passed from one grade to another. While a class has the chalice, they commit to praying each day for parish priests, for diocesan seminarians, and for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

St. Mark is one of twelve schools in the diocese that is intentionally praying for more people to hear and answer God’s call. 

Grade 2 volunteered to be the first class to take on the “Chalice Challenge.” Second-grade teacher Amelia Justo shared, “Our students are preparing for their First Holy Communion and learning about the chalice helps them understand the mystery of the Holy Eucharist and Jesus’ infinite love for us. The students love admiring the chalice and praying in front of it.”

St. Mark Principal Melissa Warner commented, “The Challenge is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn what a vocation is and the need our Church has for priests and the religious to serve their brothers and sisters in Christ.”

According to third-grade teacher Breanna Miller, students truly enjoyed taking time out of their busy days to pray for priests who strengthen our relationship with God.

Students wrote prayers such as:

“I thank all the priests for teaching us about Jesus in Mass.” 

“I am happy that the priests help us to be followers of Jesus like the disciples.” 

“I think it’s beautiful that we are saying prayers for our priests and nuns and for those people who want to enter the priesthood,” commented Nicholas, a fourth-grader who has wanted to be a bishop for as long as he could remember.

According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, in 2020 there were 35,513 priests in the United States, 18,036 permanent deacons, 41,357 religious sisters and 3,801 religious brothers.

The “Chalice Challenge” is not the only initiative that St. Mark School has adopted this year to increase awareness of vocations. Students also participated in the CT Council Knights of Columbus Vocation Poster Contest, where students in grades 2-8 were asked to depict priests, brothers and/or sisters in action and service.

Diocesan Vocations Director Father Christopher Ford visited St. Mark School in the fall to thank students for their participation in the contest. Students were excited to meet with Father Ford. They shared with him their aspirations in life, and what they thought God wanted them to aspire to. Father Ford answered questions about the Catholic faith and about the daily life of a priest, nun or religious ministries.

“Priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life are promoted through prayer and education efforts,” shared Father Ford. “The greatest way we can do this is by inviting people to first grow in their relationship with Jesus, become His disciple, then listen and respond to the particular way the Lord wants us to serve.”

“As it takes a village to raise a child; it takes an entire Church to raise a priest,” added Father Ford.

DANBURY—On Thursday, January 27 at 6:30 pm, St. Joseph School will host a telethon-style rock concert in the gymnasium to kick off their 2nd annual kindness campaign. The campaign is an opportunity for the students to raise funds for the school and in return for any support received, the students will pay it forward through acts of kindness carried out both at home, and in the classroom.

SJS has partnered with local organizations and nonprofits on this mission and is proud to announce that in addition to fundraising for the school, a percentage of funds raised will also go back to each group. Students in Pre-K-8th-grade will also be carrying out unique service projects for the organizations. Our partners include: Jericho Partnership, GAFFA, Connecticut Youth Leadership Project, Hillside Food Pantry, Birthright, New American Dream Foundation, Ann’s Place, the Police Athletic League, and the Veterans Affairs Department of the City of Danbury.

Dr. Howe, principal, will perform some of our favorite rock hits and will co-host the live show with SJS 4th-grader and local inspirational personality, Caio Ninja. Mayor Esposito, students, and ambassadors from each organization will also join on stage throughout the night. The event will serve as a kick-off for the kindness campaign that will run for two weeks and coincide with Catholic Schools Week.

“This beautiful premise aligns so well with our Catholic school mission to promote a life full of compassion, empathy, and gratitude, and further fosters the importance of service that we aim to instill in our children’s lives,” said Dr. Howe. “The children of SJS serve year-round and this campaign is a wonderful way to continue their commitment while also helping keep our special school financially healthy. Our 100th anniversary is coming up and we plan to be around for at least another 100 years!”

Anyone who wishes to support the children on their kindness mission can contribute at The Rockathon will be live and televised to our school community via a private link, for home viewing information, please contact

FAIRFIELD– On “PB&J Fridays” each month, students from Saint Catherine Academy in Fairfield gather with volunteers to prepare 300 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Thomas Merton House in Bridgeport.

After the sandwiches are packaged, staff and students deliver them to Merton Center, a house of hospitality sponsored by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

In addition to building skills and working as a team, students gain a sense of purpose and satisfaction in helping others.

Going on its 14th year, the PB&J community service project is coordinated by members of the Order of Malta. The Academy is part of Saint Catherine Center for Special Needs.

The mission of St. Catherine Center is rooted in Gospel values that affirm the dignity of every person. The center provides unified pastoral and educational support for individuals with disabilities and serves as a centralized resource for the diocesan community.

Saint Catherine Center for Special Needs includes Saint Catherine Academy, a state-approved, private special education school in Fairfield, Conn., serving students ages 5-21 of all faiths who are impacted with autism, intellectual, and developmental disabilities. It also includes the Adult Services Program, approved by the Department of Developmental Services, which offers opportunities for adults with disabilities to learn new skills and participate in vocational and community-based activities.

The Center, located at 760 Tahmore Drive in Fairfield, serves as a resource for faith formation and inclusion for parishes throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport. For more information, visit the website at, call 203-540-5381, or email

TRUMBULL— POSTPONED St. Joseph High School, Connecticut’s largest, co-ed, Catholic, college preparatory school, announced today the names of fifteen student-athletes who will sign National Letters of Intent or Celebratory Letters in six different sports has been postponed.

The National Letter of Intent (NLI) is a document used to indicate a student’s commitment to participating in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) colleges and universities. The NLI is a binding agreement between a prospective student-athlete and an NLI member institution. The Celebratory Letter (for Division III athletes) indicates that a student has been accepted to and plans to attend an institution.  The following St. Joes Seniors will participate:


Isabelle Casucci – Lacrosse – Marquette University – Division 1

Dennaye Hinds – Basketball – Presbyterian University – Division 1

Mary Lundregan – Soccer – Dartmouth College – Division 1

Caroline Sheehan – Soccer – University of Connecticut – Division 1

Lauren Wasikowski – Softball – University of Rhode Island – Division 1

Sean Callinan – Lacrosse – Rivier University – Division 3

Kayleigh Carson – Basketball – Worcester Polytechnic Institute – Division 3

Mia Geignetter – Lacrosse – Franklin and Marshall College – Division 3

Tommy Kramer – Football – Ithaca College – Division 3

Maddigan Leifer – Lacrosse – Hamilton College – Division 3

Lily Mattison – Volleyball – Hunter College – Division 3

Josh Newall – Lacrosse – Endicott College – Division 3

Kirsten Rodriguez – Basketball – Western Connecticut State University – Division 3

Erika Stephens – Basketball – Hamilton College – Division 3

Ava Tuccio – Volleyball – Middlebury College – Division 3

“When you think about the amount of time spent on and off the field, the dedication of St. Joe’s student-athletes is truly second to none,” remarked Kevin Butler, Athletics Director. “Their hard work and commitment, both academically and athletically, are incredible achievements and we wish them all the best as they begin their collegiate journeys.”

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.

Photo by Owen Bonaventura

STRATFORD—Students and staff at St. Mark School will take a break from their normal routines during the week of January 30 in order to celebrate National Catholic Schools Week.

The annual weeklong celebration focuses on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to our church, communities and nation. This year’s theme is “Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence. Service.”

Students do not have to be Catholic to attend St. Mark School. “There are a number of students who are not Catholic,” shares Principal Melissa Warner. “However, many do practice their faith inside and outside of the school day. In fact, 34 students participate as altar servers at weekend Masses, weddings and funerals.”

The week kicks off on Sunday, January 30, with the school’s annual preschool-grade 8 open house. Student ambassadors will showcase the school to prospective families by providing them with tours and their personal experiences and testimonials. Students also read essays at Mass on what their Catholic education means to them.

Some of the highlights of the school week include dress-down days, community service projects, making valentines for seniors, no-homework days, and fun-filled surprise activities aimed at celebrating students, parents, faculty and staff.

“Our students look forward to Catholic Schools Week,” states Janet Rodriguez, grade 4 teacher and coordinator of the Catholic Schools Week activities. “The whole school gets involved with the planning. It’s a really fun week which encourages students to reflect on the benefits of their Catholic education and how the grounding in faith, excellence and service will help them throughout their lives.”

Despite declining Catholic school enrollment, Diocese of Bridgeport Catholic Elementary Schools have experienced a growth of 10 percent over the last year. At St. Mark School alone, it increased by 18 percent this year with many classes at wait-list status.

The current enrollment of 234 is an all-time high for St. Mark School!

“We are proud of the work we do educating the whole person,” comments Warner. “We have wonderful students and so much to celebrate!”

BRIDGEPORT—Yesterday, on Catholic Academy of Bridgeport’s St. Raphael campus, CT Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz held a press conference with Deputy Commissioner Heather Aaron, Mayor Ganim, Executive Director Angela Pohlen, principal Sr. Elizabeth Doyle, and several state and local officials to discuss the importance of getting children vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to keep schools in person.

The conference was followed by a free vaccine clinic at St. Raphael for children and adults.

Bysiewicz said the clinic location was a natural choice since a benefit of being vaccinated is greater resistance to COVID-19 and a shorter, milder illness in the event of a breakthrough case. All of this means children stay in school instead of being home either sick or quarantining, she said.

“Now, when we’re seeing this huge spike in cases, the governor and I are really focusing on how we can best protect our children,” Bysiewicz said. “We know in-person learning is the most effective. We are here to highlight that in Bridgeport, as of December 29, only 50 percent of children 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated. It’s even less among children 5 to 11, so that’s why we’re here.”

St. Raphael offers instruction for children in grades K-3, so its students are statistically the least likely segment of the population to be vaccinated. State Deputy Health Commissioner Heather Aaron said the vaccines had proven effective in keeping COVID-19 at bay.

Angela Pohlen, executive director of the city’s Catholic Academy, which includes St. Raphael, agreed. With children starting to require hospitalization, she said vaccinating the youngest members of the population was the highest priority.

Catholic Academy will be hosting numerous clinics in the coming weeks, and Pohlen invited anyone in the community to attend.

“We welcome everyone,” she said.

(Click here to read the full CT Post story)

SHELTON — What started as a project for St. Margaret Mary Alacoque students to bring some Christmas joy to the residents of Gardner Heights Health Care Center spread throughout the community in the spirit of the season until hundreds of gifts were collected, from pajamas and socks to crossword puzzles and personal care items.

“What began as a little idea blossomed and grew rapidly,” said Heather Moura, the Director of Religious Education. “This is the result of the mustard seed that grew into a beautiful bush.”

It all began when Deacon David Sochacki and his wife Kathy made their regular visit to the home to pray the rosary and give Communion to the residents and were approached by the recreational therapist Morgan Lovell who told them, “I wish you could do something for them for Christmas because many of them don’t have family.”

Deacon Sochacki approached Moura, who emailed the families of the 80 students in her religious education program. Many of the parents, in turn, spread the word to organizations they were involved with, including ambulance services, the Knights of Columbus, the Walking With Purpose Bible study group, Mary Kay beauty products and even the University of Connecticut dental clinic, which donated dental supplies.

Moura said the wide variety of several hundred gifts included toothbrushes, soap, cosmetics, lotions, perfumes, cologne, eyeglass chains, pajamas, slippers, socks, hats, gloves and bags of candy from the Girl Scouts. In addition, $400 in donations was collected, which will be used to finance an event for the residents.

There was such an outpouring of giving that each of the 100 residents received two bags of gifts with enough left over for people who move there in the future.

“The students also made Christmas cards and helped me wrap the gifts over two weekends,” Moura said.

She was joined by parishioners Sarah Graham, Deacon Sochacki and Thomas Jensen of the Men’s Group, who loaded up four cars and brought them to Gardner Heights the Monday before Christmas. Because of COVID restrictions, the students did not go to the home.

“The staff was waiting outside for us, jumping up and down they were so excited,” Moura said. “It was the cutest thing. They ran out and hugged us and were shocked that the cars were piled to the top with gift bags. They unloaded them and brought them to the recreational room, where they will be distributed. And they’ll send pictures of the residents opening their presents to the students.”

The best gift of all is the one the students received, which was a lesson about giving.

“It teaches the kids about the importance of giving,” Moura said. “It’s not just about receiving. It’s about giving and caring for the elderly.”