DANBURY—Immaculate High School recognized athletes who have made a remarkable contribution to the school’s athletic program in years past. Long-time broadcaster, sports director, program director for WLAD radio and WSCU Hall of Fame member, Bart Busterna, was the Master of Ceremonies at the Ethan Allen Hotel, Danbury.

After an insightful speech that focused on fostering good sportsmanship and moral character in student-athletes, Busterna introduced the school’s inductees, including the 1995 SWC and CT State girls soccer team champions; four-year all-conference baseball player who held the record for most wins and innings pitched in the early ‘70s and lettered Class M basketball player, Walter “Dusty” Thompson ‘71; captain of the 1986 undefeated WCC league and Class S championship football team, offensive guard and middle linebacker,  Jonathan Fenaroli’ 87; starter on the undefeated 1985 freshman basketball team, member of the 1986 championship basketball team, three-time defending WCC All Conference long jump champion, All-State Track and Field and Class M 100M State Championship winner, Alex Ascensio, ‘89;  multiple SWC, All New England and MVP championship indoor track, Moira (Kenny) Howly ‘09;  three-time All-State running back, defensive back player and record holder of the school’s Most Interceptions in a Career award,  Zach Long ‘04; three-sport athlete who set a single season baseball record with 30 stolen bases and leading the team to the school’s first ever state championship, Anthony SImone, ‘01; starting point guard and two-time SWC honors recipient and four-year All SWC singles tennis player with a four-year record of playing in the CT State Open quarterfinals, Lauren (MacKay) Neeley; two-time All-State basketball player, four-time All SWC Conference team, four-time News Times All Area team member named in the “Top 25 Best Athletes of the Decade” and 1,176 point career scorer, Lindsay (Brown) Smith ‘06.

In addition, a Mustang Athletic Appreciation Award was presented to local Danbury resident, Michael Szabocsan, known as Big Mike to the school community. As its #1 fan, Mike, who did not attend Immaculate nor has had any relatives enrolled at Immaculate, has been attending basketball, soccer, football, hockey regular season and postseason championship games for the past thirty years.

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.

Rami Qumsieh, who was born in the Holy Land, has had a lifelong ministry of helping Christians there, particularly those in Bethlehem and the surrounding communities who have been suffering economically because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

His goal is to raise awareness of their plight with the St. Joseph Project, through which Christian carvers make statues of the foster father of Jesus out of olive wood during the Year of St. Joseph, proclaimed by Pope Francis. Qumsieh says that sales of the statues benefits Christians and promotes devotion to St. Joseph.

In addition, contributing to the effort lets Catholics stand in solidarity with the Christian Holy Land.

“The pieces are made by Christian Palestinians in the Holy Land and specially blessed,” he says. “No two products are the same and each piece is an original creation.”

“It is important to keep in mind the suffering of our Catholic and Christian community in the Holy Land and give honor to St. Joseph’s profession as a woodworker,” said Qumsieh, founder of the apostolate Christians of the Holy Land. “Catholic Americans aren’t aware of the plight of my people. Over there, they don’t receive a stimulus check or money from the government. They’re on their own, trusting in the Lord.”

The Christian communities represent less than 2 percent of the population, and there are an estimated 70,000 of them in the Bethlehem region, he says.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has virtually ended pilgrimages to the Holy Land since March 2020, caused economic hardship for Christians, many of whom made their livelihood as tour guides, translators, merchants and makers of religious items. Qumsieh said that 80 percent of the Christian community works in pilgrimage services.

A committed advocate for them, he says, “This is my life’s work. It defines who I have become in my life. My ministry is to build a connection in people’s hearts so they understand this Holy Land belongs to them because we have the most evidence that Jesus Christ was here on Earth.”

The carvers, themselves, have expressed gratitude for the St. Joseph Project, he said, because a majority of families have been out of work for more than a year.

Qumsieh regularly visits parishes throughout the United States to talk about the struggle of the Christian community in the Holy Land and to promote the project.

“I did not have a true devotion to St. Joseph until Pope Francis declared the Year of St. Joseph, and it was like an awakening in my heart,” he says. “Then, I started to read about him and get to know what he went through. The man was awesome, truly a wonderful example for us. He accepted God’s Will as his will and raised Jesus and protected him and Mary. He was a carpenter who worked with wood and a father who was truly devoted to the Holy Family.”

Qumsieh expressed his gratitude for Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in promoting the cause. “He has been incredible; he has been very helpful,” he said. “I remain grateful to Bishop Caggiano for never abandoning our Christian Holy Land.”

Qumsieh also urges pastors throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport to participate in the St. Joseph Project by downloading fliers from the website and making them available in church and the parish bulletins. Statues can be delivered as a group order to churches, thereby saving parishioners $10 on every statue.

Every carved statue of St. Joseph is blessed by Father Issa Hijazeen at the Church of the Nativity and the Church of the Shepherds Town.

“A purchase serves as a spiritual and corporal work of mercy as it employs, feeds and comforts those in need,” Qumsieh said. “It also demonstrates solidarity, loyalty and prudence toward the Christian identity of our Holy Land.”

He also believes the statues will give honor to St. Joseph’s profession as a carpenter and woodworker.

“These olive wood statues will memorialize this Year of St. Joseph and increase devotion to him, while helping our faithful Christians in Bethlehem,” he said.

(For further information, visit or email Qumsieh at

BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will commission Ambassadors of the diocesan renewal and delegates who will participate in the upcoming Global Synod on Synodality in two separate ceremonies on Saturday October 16.

Watch the Commissioning of the Ambassadors: here.

“These are two very important moments in the life of the diocese as we continue the work of renewal,” the bishop said. “I a very grateful to all of the men and women who have stepped forward to deepen their own spirituality while giving of their time and talent to revitalize the Church and help to lead us forward during a time of challenge and change.”

Global Synod on Synodality

The bishop will lead an orientation session and commissioning ceremony for synod delegates on Saturday, October 16, from 9-11 am at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, located at 35 Norfield Road in Weston.

The bishop has asked each parish and quasi-parish in the Diocese of Bridgeport to choose four delegates to participate in the diocesan portion of the Global Synod on Synodality announced by Pope Francis in March of this year.

“As you are aware, Pope Francis has mandated that every diocese in the world participate in the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that will conclude in Rome in October 2023. The topic to be explored is the synodal nature of the Church and its impact upon our ecclesial life,” said Bishop Caggiano.

The concept of “synodality” has been a topic of frequent discussion by Pope Francis, particularly during the previous ordinary Synod of Bishops on Young People, The Faith and Vocational Discernment in October 2018.

In an August 23 letter to pastors and administrators, Bishop Caggiano said the purpose of the diocesan participation in the process will be to solicit feedback regarding a number of questions that will be identified in the preparatory document of the synod, to be released in the fall of this year.

Each local process will conclude in April 2022 with the creation of a diocesan report that will be sent to both the USCCB and the Roman Synod Office.

“The choice of delegates will be for the pastor, administrator or priest moderator to make. They should be persons involved in the life of the parish and reflecting its diversity. Each delegate will be asked to participate in a parish-level discussion of the issues to be presented, along with the participation of the local clergy and parish staff, leading to a written summary of the parish’s feedback to be submitted to my office,” the bishop said.

One of the four delegates will be delegated the task of drafting the parish’s report, based on a template that will be provided to by the start of the new year.

The bishop also announced that Deacon Stephen Hodson has agreed to serve as diocesan delegate to the synod office. He will be responsible to keep all clergy and parish delegates informed of the process, coordinate all parish reports and draft the final diocesan report.

“I am deeply grateful for Deacon Hodson’s willingness to serve in this most important position,” the bishop said.

Commissioning of Ambassadors

The Mass and commission ceremony for diocesan ambassadors participating in the diocesan renewal will be held on Saturday October 16, 12 noon at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.
“We’ve been looking forward to this moment after many months of prayer and preparation,” said Bishop Caggiano. “The Mass will be a true celebration of their commitment and commission them to begin their work in parishes throughout the diocese.”

The Mass will celebrate the commitment of almost 200 people from 25 different parishes who responded to the bishop’s call and have completed the Ambassador training program to prepare them go out into the world and welcome all back to the Church.

The men and women of all ages participating in the Ambassador formation initiative were recommended by their pastors and drawn from parishes throughout the diocese. The formation initiative was created to equip parishioners with the knowledge and tools to confidently talk to others about their faith and encourage those that may be disenfranchised with the Catholic Church to reengage with its teachings and spiritual guidance.

In Masses held last spring in Bridgeport and in New Fairfield, the bishop said “developing a spirit of perseverance and endurance alongside the desire to witness Christ in a wounded world are the qualities needed to welcome people back to the Church.”

The bishop said he looks forward to the day when every Catholic home in the diocese will be visited by Ambassadors who will affirm the faithful and welcome people back to the Church.

(For further information on the Ambassador initiative, visit:

NEW FAIRFIELD—A celebration of fellowship and an opportunity for young Catholics to deepen their faith through community, prompted dozens of young people to gather recently at St. Edward the Confessor Church on a summer evening for the first meeting of this new ministry.

About seventy people were registered for the event which was advertised in parish bulletins in the Greater Danbury area. The hope is to welcome young people from the surrounding area not just St. Edward parishioners.

Meetings are held monthly and the ministry will also host special events such as the upcoming Coffee House, a virtual “Evening in Roma,” an Advent Retreat, Pizza Night, and Eucharistic Adoration followed by a Wine and Cheese social (see information below).

Judging by the turnout, the invitation to gather filled a void for many young adults in the area, and has created a growing interest in the ministry as it continues to grow and collaborate with other parishes.

“I want to connect with people my age,” said Alyssa Denlke. “I don’t have many friends my age, so this is great,” she added, as she dashed off to introduce herself to someone new, and it was a shared sentiment among those in attendance.

“I don’t really get to meet the young people in the Church,” said Yan Wusik, who admittedly came to the event mostly out of curiosity. But, he said, he wasn’t disappointed and plans to participate in future events.

The evening of festivities included outdoor games, music, a barbeque of hot dogs and hamburgers with all the fixings, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

“In terms of rebuilding the Church after the pandemic, this is one of the things that we are doing,” said Father Robert Wolfe who, along with Father Tim Iannacone, started the group for young adults.

Both say that young adults have often been overlooked in the Church, but the two young priests with the blessing of their pastor, Father Nick Cirillo, are doing their best to change that.

The young adult ministry is open to Catholic young adults between the ages of 18-35 and consists of various social and spiritual opportunities to aid in fostering community.

Erin Lennon traveled from Brewster, New York to participate in this first gathering. “Young adults need people to walk with to Christ,” she said, referencing the inherent support group of fellow Catholics.

“Community has been a large part of my faith life and I want to invite more people to be a part of that,” she said, adding that she is looking to start a young adult fellowship group at her home parish of St. Lawrence O’Toole Church in Brewster.

“This is very cool,” Lennon said, looking around at the group gathered enjoying outdoor games and conversations. “I didn’t really know there were this many young Catholics around.”

Relaxing in a circle of red Adirondack chairs, young adults shared conversation and laughter while spectating simultaneous games of frisbee, a spirited game of badminton and corn hole. As the sunset on a summer evening, a bonfire illuminated the front lawn of the church, a perfect backdrop to an evening spent with friends old and new.

“It’s nice to be around other people my age,” said Diane Rambadt, a parishioner of St. Edward’s. Fellow attendee, Christian Kutzy agreed, “Walking in and seeing so many people is such a thrill. It’s so very, very nice.”

“We are journeying with them,” Father Iannacone said. “It’s good that they meet each other in the parish but it’s great for them to establish lasting relationships outside of the parish.”

He said the goal of the group is to enlighten one’s faith with charity and hope, empower the future of the Church with the spiritual tools of the past and present, and to engage the hearts of all Catholic young adults in search of faith and community.

Father Nick Cirillo is excited about the new ministry and the “heavy lifting” undertaken by the two young priests, and has invited other parishes in the region to join in the effort to make the outreach available to more young adults.

“One of the aspects that makes our program unique is that we are trying to create a series of relationships between local pastors and young adult liaisons in neighboring parishes so that we can unite our strengths, activities and talent into one effort,” Father Cirillo said.

“With added input from these communities and the possibility of young adults from these churches supporting the combined ministry, we believe that great things can be accomplished for this age group.”

Father Cirillo added that St. Edward Parish is providing financial support for the launch of the ministry, and it has also applied to Foundations in Faith for a grant to assist in some of those costs.

“We hope to establish more formal relationships and partnerships with these groups as we plan larger events. We are in the process of approaching the Diocesan Young Adult Council for contacts and event advertising,” he said.

(St. Edward the Confessor Parish is located at 21 Brush Hill Road, New Fairfield, CT 06812. For more information on the young adult ministry visit:

Upcoming events 

Friday, October 22 – Coffee House 7 pm.

We have invited six musicians for live music, dinner, coffee selections and dessert bar. This is one of our larger events because of the expenses involved, so we have been asking pastors to sponsor tables with participants, not funding. If you are able to put together a table of 7 for the event, we would really appreciate it.

Friday, November 5 – An Evening in Roma 7 pm.

Join us for a lovely Italian evening of food and fellowship at St. Edward’s, featuring a virtual tour of the ancient necropolis beneath St. Peter’s Basilica and learn the true story of how St. Peter’s Tomb was discovered! This presentation is hosted by Father Robert Wolfe.

Sunday, November 14 – Eucharistic Adoration, 6:30-7:30 pm.

Please join us for our monthly Holy Hour which will feature contemporary Christian music in praise of the Blessed Sacrament. After adoration young adults will gather for pizza and fellowship.

Friday, December 10 – An Evening with Father Pierre Toussaint, CFR 7:00 pm.

For Advent, we are pleased to welcome Father Pierre Toussaint, CFR as our guest presenter. Dinner will be served at 7 pm followed by the presentation. Father Toussaint is a very popular and dynamic speaker and we are so fortunate to have him join us for an evening of spiritual reflection. Many thanks to Father Chris Ford and the diocesan Office of Vocations for co-sponsoring this event for our young adults.

Sunday, December 12 – Eucharistic Adoration, 6:30-7:30 pm.
Please join us for our monthly Holy Hour during the season of Advent. After adoration young adults will gather for dinner and fellowship.

Wednesday, December 15 – Chris Stefanick speaks on Living Joy, 7 pm

St. Edward’s welcomes internationally acclaimed speaker, author and TV host Chris Stefanick to our parish to speak on his new book Living Joy. Many know Chris as the author of “The Search” and through his online presence in the Ambassadors training program. We are very blessed to have secured him for this year, and we are grateful to Dr. Patrick Donovan at the Leadership Institute for helping in this effort. Tickets are $15 and include a copy of the book that accompanies the presentation. Register for this incredible event at Click on events, and scroll to December 2021 to register online.

FAIRFIELD—Rev. Charles H. Allen, S.J., was celebrated by 500 friends and family members during an outdoor Mass and luncheon on Sunday, September 19. Below are remarks of thanks from Rev. Denis G. Donoghue, S.J., director of the Murphy Center for Ignatian Spirituality.

Dear Friends of the Murphy Center for Ignatian Spirituality of Fairfield University,

Whether you attended in person or were there in spirit, thank you for being part of our celebration on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021! It was a glorious day to welcome back to campus and honor Rev. Charles H. Allen, S.J.

The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, celebrated the Mass on Bellarmine Lawn, and Fairfield University Alumni Chaplain Rev. Gerry Blaszczak, S.J., offered a heartfelt, inspired homily. Fr. Allen’s unique charism filled the tent with love and grace. His spirit of generosity was experienced by all. Fr. Allen sees the love of Christ in all those who are fortunate enough to be in his presence; this is the gift of Fr. Allen’s relationship with God.

With family and friends in abundance, we witnessed Fr. Allen’s humility and humor in accepting the Rev. James M. Bowler, S.J., Award from the Murphy Center, for his lifetime of service exemplifying the spirit of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Fr. Allen and St. Ignatius remind us to trust the invitation from God to see all things new in Christ, by accepting and embracing who we are uniquely called to be. The Murphy Center builds on this work by opening its doors to our on-campus community of students, faculty, staff, as well as the greater Fairfield County community, in order to help people grow in their awareness of how and where God is breaking through in their daily lives. This is the gift of finding God in all things. Fr. Allen’s ministry and the work of the Murphy Center is God’s work.

Please visit our website at to learn more about the Murphy Center for Ignatian Spirituality, and consider supporting our work by making a gift.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Denis G. Donoghue, S.J.
Director, Murphy Center for Ignatian Spirituality

Click here for the full story. 

STRATFORD—St. Mark School congratulates 8th-grade student, Robert “Robby” Rosati, for leading his team to 2nd place in the National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship this past weekend. 

Robby and Team Connecticut, one of the twelve All-Star Teams of players ages 10-13, competed in the Semi Finals at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. 

Robby and his teammate won their round with seven birdies and one eagle. Robby’s eagle shot at the 17th hole secured the flag in the final round. 

According to the PGA Jr. League, the championship season highlights the aspirational nature of competition. All-Star Teams must win Section Championships before advancing to Regional competitions and ultimately the National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship.

“Watching Robby excel at his favorite sport was extraordinary,” commented St. Mark Principal Melissa Warner. “Our school community is so incredibly proud of him and excited to see his talent being recognized nationally,” she added. 

The championship was broadcast live on select ESPN networks. During a televised interview, Robby commented that history was his favorite school subject because he likes learning about the past. 

“As Robby’s Social Studies teacher, I am deeply impressed by his athletic achievements,” shared St. Mark teacher, Matt Bonito. “However, what impresses me the most about Robby is his fascination with history. On classwork and projects, such as our class Constitution, Robby always shows a level of dedication and engagement that mirrors students I have had in higher education. All of us benefit from Robby’s presence in our class and the insights he frequently shares. I am incredibly proud to teach history to Robby and I am even happier to see him make it.”

St. Mark School is planning a warm welcome upon Robby’s return.

NEW YORK–Bishop Frank Caggiano, Chair of Catholic Relief Services and Assistant National Ecclesiastical Counselor to CAPP-USA, reflected on “The Health of Nations” in light of Catholic Social Teaching and Pope Francis’ “Call for Inclusion” at the recent CAPP (Centesimus Annus – Pro Pontifice) conference.

The Bishop’s talk set the stage for the conference with his exploration of Catholic social teaching ( video link below) from the perspective of the Holy Father.

Professor Sir Angus Deaton (School of Public and International Affairs and the Economics Department at Princeton University and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics) then focused on the topic in light of his extensive, lifetime work on development.

Following the talks a conversation between Bishop Caggiano and Professor Deaton, as well Q&A with the audience was moderated by Professor Joseph P. Kaboski (Professor of Economics at University of Notre Dame and President of CREDO).

The gathering saw a COVID restricted in person audience of 90 and, with the outstanding support of America Media and 12 sponsoring organizations, an online audience of 2,300+.

Founded by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1993 to promote the knowledge and practice of Catholic social teaching (CST), CAPP is unique in Church history as the only lay led organization with canonical standing in the Church and juridical standing in Vatican State. Its goal is to have CST implemented in society through lay Catholic business, academic and professional leaders. The Diocese of Bridgeport was the first diocese in the United States to establish a group.


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A synod calls on everyone to become experts in “the art of encounter” in a way that is uplifting and transformative, Pope Francis said, formally opening the process leading up to the assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 2023.

Pope Francis raises the Book of the Gospels as he celebrates a Mass to open the process that will lead up to the assembly of the world Synod of Bishops in 2023, in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Oct. 10, 2021. (CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters)

“Celebrating a synod means walking on the same road, together” just like Jesus did — encountering, listening and discerning with all who one meets, the pope said in his homily at the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica Oct. 10.

“Are we prepared for the adventure of this journey? Or are we fearful of the unknown, preferring to take refuge in the usual excuses: ‘It’s useless’ or ‘We’ve always done it this way?’” he asked.

Some 3,000 people attended the Mass, including the 270 people — cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and laypeople — invited to the day of reflection in the Vatican Synod Hall Oct. 9.

The weekend of events began the “synodal journey,” which will explore the theme, “For a synodal church: communion, participation and mission.” Bishops around the world were to open the process in their dioceses Oct. 17. The diocesan phase, which runs until April, will focus on listening to and consulting the people of God.

In his homily, the pope said they should begin the synodal process “by asking ourselves — all of us, pope, bishops, priests, religious and laity — whether we, the Christian community, embody this ‘style’ of God, who travels the paths of history and shares in the life of humanity.”

The day’s Gospel reading (Mk 10:17-30) of Jesus setting out on a journey and encountering a rich man offers just one example of how Jesus “walks alongside people and listens to the questions and concerns lurking in their hearts,” he said. “He shows us that God is not found in neat and orderly places, distant from reality, but walks ever at our side.”

Celebrating a synod, he said, means walking on the same road as others and living out the “three verbs” that characterize a synod: to encounter, listen and discern.

“We too are called to become experts in the art of encounter. Not so much by organizing events or theorizing about problems as in taking time to encounter the Lord and one another,” to devote time to prayer and adoration, and to listen to what the Holy Spirit wants to say to the church, the pope said.

Jesus shows that an encounter has the power to change someone’s life — “the Gospel is full of such encounters with Christ, encounters that uplift and bring healing,” the pope said. In fact, Jesus was never in a hurry, and he would never have looked at a watch to signal it was time to wrap things up. “He was always at the service of people he met in order to listen to them.”

Each encounter requires “openness, courage and a willingness to let ourselves be challenged by the presence and the stories of others,” the pope said. It means not hiding behind a facade or stiff formalities indicative of a spirit of clericalism or of courtiers, but it means being a father.

To that end, the pope said he would be meeting a group of people who live on the streets later that day. He said they had already started meeting because another group of people had gone to listen to them and from there, “they have been able to begin the journey.”

Sincere listening involves the heart, not just the ears, Pope Francis said. The aim is not to be able to answer people’s questions, especially with pre-packaged or “artificial and shallow responses,” but to provide an opportunity to tell one’s story and speak freely.

“Whenever we listen with the heart, people feel that they are being heard, not judged; they feel free to recount their own experiences and their spiritual journey,” he said.

Listening to one another “is a slow and perhaps tiring exercise” but it must be done, including listening to “the questions, concerns and hopes of every church, people and nation,” and to the “challenges and changes” that world presents, he added.

Encountering and listening “are not ends in themselves” where everything stays the same, but must lead to discernment, he said.

“Whenever we enter into dialogue, we allow ourselves to be challenged, to advance on a journey. And in the end, we are no longer the same; we are changed,” he said.

The synod is “a journey of spiritual discernment that takes place in adoration, in prayer and in dialogue with the word of God,” the pope said.

Discernment is what lights the way and guides the synod, “preventing it from becoming a church convention, a study group or a political congress, but rather a grace-filled event, a process of healing guided by the Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis said.

Like he asked the rich man in the Gospel reading, Jesus is asking everyone “to empty ourselves, to free ourselves from all that is worldly, including our inward-looking and outworn pastoral models, and to ask ourselves what it is that God wants to say to us in this time and the direction in which he wants to lead us,” he said.

Pope Francis wished everyone “a good journey together! May we be pilgrims in love with the Gospel and open to the surprises of the Spirit.”

By: Carol Glatz | CNS

WESTPORT—On September 18, 2021, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano celebrated Mass for the Filipino-American community at the Cathedral of St. Augustine in Bridgeport in honor of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines.

It was a beautiful, sunny day and a flower garden in full bloom greeted the faithful into Church. The congregants had quietly piled into Church and there was an air of excitement in anticipation of the blessing of our Lord for another 500 years.

As the congregation settled into their seats and Mass participants reviewed their roles, the Holy Rosary began led by Tessie Senerador of the 2000 Hail Marys Group. Then the children from the Missionary Families of Christ Connecticut choir performed to “We Give Our Yes” with hand gestures and motions, praising God with their tiny, uplifted hands. Soloist, Kirby Asunto, sweetly sang the same song.

When the Mass procession began, smoke and fragrant incense filled the entrance of the church. A young girl, Jada Abille, carried the Santo Niño or Child Jesus and Xavier Abille carried the Magellan wooden cross to the altar before the entrance of priests, altar servers and the Mass celebrants. Reverend Juan Gabriel Acosta, Rev. Cyrus M. Bartolome, Rev. Jose Ignacio Ortigas, and Rev. Justin Cinnante, the concelebrants, preceded Bishop Caggiano and filed onto the altar where a life sized Crucifix of Jesus hovered prominently over all who were gathered. Statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph with Child Jesus, and the Sacred Heart stood beautifully around it and for that day, the Lady of Penafrancia, the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Bicol region in the Philippines, also watched over the Mass service.

Bishop Caggiano wore a stunning creamy white chasuble and miter adorned with red ornate embroidery and shiny jewels which was given to him as a gift by the Filipino-American community. In his homily, Bishop Caggiano said that we stand on the shoulders of those who brought Christianity forward through the first 500 years of Philippine history. He added that now is the beginning of the next 500 years and that we have a lot of work to do still. The missionary work must grow even more and continue unabated. He said that although the Spaniards conquered the Philippines 500 years ago, they brought Catholicism which the Filipino people willingly accepted and followed. The Philippines is now the third most populous Catholic country in the world with 90 percent of the population identifying as Catholic. Finally, following the musical theme of the 500th anniversary, Bishop Caggiano repeated too that the Filipinos are “Gifted to Give” their faith back to the world. A pilgrim and migrant people too, they spread the Catholic faith in all the corners of the world in search of a better life for their families.

Father Cyrus Bartolome delivered the Gospel reading. The first reading was given by Lani Gonzales of the Filipino American Association of Western Connecticut. The Responsorial Psalm was sung by Joefel Sanchez of Missionary Families of Christ Connecticut. The prayer of the faithful included petitions for the Universal Church, the Filipino community in Fairfield County, vocations to the priesthood, for the sick, and those who have died. Frank Guzzello, Dory Palma, Elsa Mole, Loriebel Agulay and Leon Egipto recited those petitions. An abundance of inspiring hymnals were sung in Filipino and brought back memories of native Mass in the Philippines. It was a moving presentation. The offering of gifts came from more than a dozen people representing Filipino-Catholic and Filipino-American groups in Fairfield County. The Mass was followed by a reception in the neighboring hall. There the congregation broke into loud, animated laughter and conversation, the Filipino version of toasting. The Holy Spirit and Bishop Caggiano bestowed such a blessing for another 500 years that you can even say the Holy Spirit and the dearly departed servants of God were there rejoicing with us.

By Lani Gonzales

DANBURY—About two-dozen children gathered at St. Joseph Church on a Friday evening to pray the Rosary and make rosaries for themselves and others.

The new Children’s Rosary Ministry, which welcomes children of all ages, is led by Ania Szurawsk, who credits the creation of the ministry to the Blessed Mother.

“I listened to the Blessed Mother,” Szurawsk said. “She was telling me in my heart to do it. I just said yes to the Blessed Mother.”

Children gathering for the ministry enjoyed some playtime in the sunshine at the St. Joseph School playground with their guardians, before entering the church to pray.

Each child was given a basic Rosary guide, a list of the five Sorrowful Mysteries and an opportunity to choose a rosary from a basket of colorful handmade rosaries.

Szurawsk began the Rosary prayer session with instructions about how to hold the Rosary, the meaning of the number of beads and prayer intentions.

“I would like to dedicate this Rosary to all of us,” she said. “I am grateful that you are here. Our intention for this Rosary is to pray for all the children in our parish.”

Children took turns approaching the altar and reading one of the five Sorrowful Mysteries before the group continued with the prayers.

“I want to be sure how to pray the Rosary because it’s an important part of my faith,” said 13-year-old Emilia Schweitzer, adding she knew parts of how to pray the Rosary and the prayer session helped her learn the order of the prayers.

Following the prayer session children and their guardians were welcomed to the adjacent Carmen Buck Religious Education building to make rosaries and enjoy a dinner of pizza and ice cream.

Szurawsk instructed the children to introduce themselves to their neighbor as they sat at round tables getting ready to make rosaries.

Children could choose from a rainbow of colorful beads that were laid out on tables along with wooden or plastic crucifixes and medallions. Samples were placed on the table for children to follow.

“I thought it was good,” said 14-year-old William Stramiello of the Rosary prayer session. “It got us to pray together and it gives us an opportunity to get together. It’s important to pray with others,” he said, as he worked on putting together a green-colored Rosary. “It’s my mom’s favorite color. I’m going to give it to her.”

William’s nine-year-old brother Jack was stringing together black beads for his rosary. “It looks really cool,” he said.

Denise Lor Cerullo, attended the event with her two grandchildren.

“It’s very important for them to know their faith,” she said.

Szurawsk said she is overjoyed to see so many children praying the Rosary.

“It’s a beautiful thing to pray the Rosary. It’s a powerful thing,” said Szurawsk, who is a parishioner at St. Joseph for 22 years.

“Praying the Rosary fills your whole heart with such joy,” she said. “You feel closer to God and by praying the Rosary you are getting closer to Mary’s son Jesus.”

By Kathy-Ann Gobin

FAIRFIELD—St. Anthony of Padua Church in Fairfield observed the end of the Season of Creation with special celebrations at its Masses on the weekend of October 2-3.  

In his homily, Father John Mulreany, S.J. emphasized how we all need to return to a right relationship with nature and protect God’s creation. He cited the Laudato Si’ Action Platform and its call for eco-justice for the world’s poor.

S.A.V.E. (St. Anthony’s Values the Environment committee) created educational posters focusing on everyday ways parishioners could foster a more sustainable environment including recycling, composting, reducing waste, and creating pollinator pathways. The information was well-received by parishioners.

Click here to download the PDF version

The Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano
By the Grace of God and the Authority of the Apostolic See
Bishop of Bridgeport

On the Use of the Roman Liturgy Prior to the Reform of 1970
Within the Diocese of Bridgeport

On July 16, 2021, the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis issued an apostolic letter given motu proprio regarding the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970 in the particular Churches of the Roman Rite. In obedience to the universal law that the Supreme Pontiff has set forth, I, the Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, decree what follows as particular law for the Diocese of Bridgeport.


  1. 1. Recognizing that there are several groups of the faithful (cœtūs fidelium) throughout the diocese composed of those rooted in the form of Christian worship which employs the more ancient use (usus antiquior) of the Roman Liturgy experienced prior to the reform of 1970, and that certain groups have been attached to such worship for a significant period of time; and

  3. 2. Confirming that there is neither widespread dissension nor denial of the validity and the legitimacy of the liturgical reform as established by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council either within these groups of faithful or within the diocese as a whole; and

  5. 3. Mindful of the Supreme Pontiff’s desire to reaffirm that the bishops are “the principal dispensers of the mysteries of God, as well as being the moderators, promoters, and guardians of the entire liturgical life in the church entrusted to their care” ; and

  7. 4. Desiring to care for the spiritual welfare and good of the cœtūs fidelium; and

  9. 5. Understanding that it is my exclusive competence to authorize the use of the Missale Romanum of 1962 and to regulate all liturgical celebrations in my diocese, as stated in Traditionis Custodes

I hereby determine the following:

  1. 1. In accordance with canon 87, the Parish of Saints Cyril and Methodius, Bridgeport, and the Parish of Saint Mary in Norwalk are dispensed from the restriction of location found in Traditionis Custodes, permitting them to celebrate the Mass according to the Missale Romanum of 1962, following their respective schedules as established before the issuance of Traditionis Custodes. The pastors of these parishes also have permission to celebrate the other sacraments of the Church in the usus antiquior of the Roman Rite within their parishes, without any further needed permission

  3. 2. Outside of these two parishes, and concerning all other celebrations of the usus antiquior of the Roman Rite which would occur throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport, the following applies:
    1. a. All celebrations of Mass using the Missale Romanum of 1962 will be sponsored as a direct service of my episcopal ministry and remain under my direct supervision. These Masses will be hosted by those parishes in which the usus antiquior of the Roman Rite was celebrated prior to the issuance of Traditionis Custodes.
      i. The schedule of such Masses will remain as existed before the issuance of Traditionis Custodes.
      ii. If a pastor determines that his parish no longer wishes or needs to host the celebration of Mass using the Missale Romanum of 1962, the pastor must inform the Bishop of his decision in writing before the change is finalized.

    2. b. In cases where the pastor of the parish hosting the celebration of Mass using the Missale Romanum of 1962 neither has nor wants delegation to celebrate in the usus antiquior, the Vicar for Liturgy and Worship will take on the responsibility to ensure that these Masses are properly and reverently celebrated in accordance with the rubrics, employing a rotation of the priests who have been determined by me as qualified (idoneus) to celebrate in the usus antiquior.

    3. c. Priests who seek delegation to celebrate Mass using the Missale Romanum of 1962 shall seek the faculty to do so in writing directly to me. A priest will be granted this faculty provided he has been determined to be idoneus, or qualified to celebrate in the usus antiquior.
      i. In order to be deemed as idoneus, a priest must:
      1. Not be impeded by Canon Law;
      2. Possess and evidence a basic knowledge of the Latin language so as to pronounce words correctly while understanding their meaning;
      3. Demonstrate facility and competency in the celebration of the usus antiquior of the Mass according to the rubrical directives.

    4. d. The faculty to celebrate Mass using the Missale Romanum of 1962 includes:
      i. Permission to celebrate such a Mass privately at any time;
      ii. Permission to celebrate such a Mass for the faithful at any approved times;
      iii. Permission to pray the Breviarum Romanum (the Divine Office in the usus antiquior) as a means of fulfilling a cleric’s obligation to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.
      iv. Permission to celebrate the Ordo Ministrandi Sacramentum Pœnitentiæ (the Sacrament of Penance in the usus antiquior) to the faithful who request it.

    6. e. Priests ordained after July 16, 2021 who wish to celebrate Mass using the Missale Romanum of 1962 must make a request in writing to me outlining the reasons for his desire to celebrate Mass in the usus antiquior of the Roman Rite.
      i. Such priests must first be determined to be idoneus (cf. Article 2c) as per diocesan guidelines.
      ii. In accordance with the requirements of Traditionis Custodes, I will consult the Congregation for Divine Worship and Disciple of the Sacraments before granting any such requests.

    8. f.If a pastor discovers that there is a stable community within his parish that desires to celebrate in the usus antiquior of the Roman Rite, he must make a written petition to me requesting the ability to have such celebrations in his parish, outlining the pastoral considerations that led to the request. If I grant such permission, it will be given in writing.

    10. g. Concerning the celebration of all other sacraments of the Church in the usus antiquior of the Roman Rite other than the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance: with the exception of those parishes that have received the dispensation of restriction of location as stipulated in Article 1, each celebration will require permission from me to celebrate.

    12. h. Likewise, deacons ordained after July 16, 2021 who wish to assist as either deacon or subdeacon at Masses celebrated in the usus antiquior of the Roman Rite must first obtain permission from me to assist at such Masses. They must also be determined to be idoneus in accordance with the prescriptions of Article 2c in order to exercise their ministry.

    Given the importance of this period of transition, I will be working directly with the priests who wish to celebrate the Mass using the Missale Romanum of 1962. In accordance with the desires of Traditionis Custodes, a priest delegate will be assigned to moderate all such activities at a future date.

    In order that everything I have decreed be observed in all its parts, anything else to the contrary notwithstanding, even if worthy of particular mention, I establish that it be promulgated by way of publication in the Fairfield County Catholic, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Bridgeport; entering in force on September 29, 2021, the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels.

    Given at the Catholic Center on September 29, 2021.

    1 PAUL VI, Decree «On the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church Christus Dominus» 12; Ceremonial of Bishops 9.

VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis and faith leaders closed the Season of Creation on Monday, the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, as they began the ecumenical season: united in their call for governments to set ambitious targets at the upcoming UN climate summit.

His Holiness and about 40 faith leaders signed a joint appeal at the Vatican that calls on governments to set climate targets and take “urgent, radical, and responsible action” with young people and the most vulnerable among us in mind.

“Future generations will never forgive us if we miss the opportunity to protect our common home. We have inherited a garden; we must not leave a desert for our children,” the joint appeal stated.

“We plead with the international community gathered at COP26 to take speedy, responsible and shared action to safeguard, restore, and heal our wounded humanity and the home entrusted to our stewardship.”

Faith leaders from other Christian faiths and Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, among others, signed the joint appeal, which was then handed to Alok Sharma, the President of the United Nations 26th Climate Change Conference (COP26). The conference will take place from 31 October to 12 November in Glasgow.

“Today shows us how we can and will turn the tide,” Sharma said, calling the appeal a “powerful call to action for the world.”

Pope Francis welcomed the faith leaders into the Vatican’s Hall of Blessings for the daylong event, “Faith and Science: Towards COP26.”

He framed the broader discussion by offering three values that should guide our work around caring for God’s creation: sharing, love, and respect.

“Today’s meeting, which brings together many cultures and spiritualities in a spirit of fraternity, can only strengthen our realization that we are members of one human family,” His Holiness shared in written remarks.

“COP26 in Glasgow represents an urgent summons to provide effective responses to the unprecedented ecological crisis and the crisis of values that we are presently experiencing, and in this way to offer concrete hope to future generations. We want to accompany it with our commitment and our spiritual closeness.”

Pope Francis plans to attend the UN summit, marking the first time in the past three decades that a Pope has attended a UN climate change conference.

His Holiness walked into the event alongside Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The two, along with Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, who also attended Monday’s meeting, began the monthlong Season of Creation by issuing their first-ever joint statement.

The historic message called on Christians and their communities to address the climate crisis by listening to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor and “pledging meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the Earth which God has given us.”

Monday also marked more than a year since the publication of Pope Francis’ Fratelli Tutti, his encyclical on fraternity and social friendship. His Holiness echoed its themes in his message to all.

“We cannot act alone, for each of us is fundamentally responsible to care for others and for the environment. This commitment should lead to an urgently needed change of direction, nurtured also by our respective religious beliefs and spirituality,” Pope Francis said.

“Each of us has his or her religious beliefs and spiritual traditions, but no cultural, political or social borders or barriers prevent us from standing together… Let us commit ourselves to a future shaped by interdependence and co-responsibility.”

By Jonathon Braden | Laudato Si’ Movement 

BETHEL—Knights of Pavia Council 48 in Bethel joined with enthusiastic parishioners of the newly merged Sacred Heart/St. Patrick’s Parish in the Dedication of Mercy Hall for a farewell to their pastor of the past twelve years, Father Joe Cervero.

The day’s events were the culmination of years of planning and fundraising to restore and renovate the old St. Patrick’s Church, located in a section of Redding known as “The Ridge,” an area rich in history as the very road used by soldiers of the American Revolution, and escaping slaves during the Civil War.

Constructed in 1880 to serve the spiritual needs of the increasing Irish community escaping the disastrous potato famine in Ireland, the original church was enlarged in 1895 with a new sanctuary built and dedicated by the Most Reverend J. McSiernan of Hartford at a Confirmation of a class of thirteen boys and girls.

Pictured at the parish social following the dedication are the District Deputy of the Knights of Columbus, Vic Flagello and his wife, Heather Anne, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, Grand Knight of Pavia Council Tom Ryan, and Father Joe Cervero, current pastor of Sacred Heart/ St. Patrick’s Parish.

Presided over by Bishop Caggiano, with an honor guard from Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus and Bagpiper from Pavia Council, the dedication included a greeting by Mike Handy, coordinator of the day’s events, with talks from Tom Ryan, grand knight of Pavia Council, Dan Conlon and Father Joe Cervero before a blessing and final thoughts offered by Bishop Caggiano.

The rest of the day was spent enjoying each others’ company, wishing Father Joe “godspeed” in his new assignment, and enjoying a beautiful fall day of games, hot dogs, brats, hamburgers and an inexhaustible variety of pizzas courtesy of the “Big Green Truck Pizza.”

By Grand Knight of Pavia Council Tom Ryan

BRIDGEPORT– Three diocesan High Schools have officially joined as Catholic Relief Services (CRS )Clubs to support the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries.

Immaculate High School in Danbury, Kolbe Cathedral High School in Bridgeport, and Notre Dame High School in Fairfield have all joined the CRS network of clubs. Immaculate High School led the way with 167 students signing up as club members.

Nora Ferreira Aufiero , Community Engagement Manager for Catholic Relief Services, Northeast Mid-Atlantic Region, said she was delighted by the response from the Diocese. Additionally, she said there is interest in an adult chapter of the Club and hopes to schedule a Zoom meeting with those who are interested by mid to late October.

“I believe that CRS Club can be true agents of change and an integral part of the movement to build a better world,” said Aufiero. “Young people have the power, energy and passion to drive real change, and their actions are essential to achieve our vision—God’s vision—of a world free of hunger, violence and injustice.

CRS clubs empower students to contribute in a tangible way to join in the effort to lift millions of people out of poverty while developing leadership skills they can use to continue to be changemakers into the future, she said.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano , who was named Chairman of the international catholic relief agency in 2019, welcomed the news and said that he was proud of the students for their commitment to others and their willingness to become part of the larger CRS community.

“I am grateful to our young people for choosing to become missionary disciples who believe that in Christ we can build a more just and equitable world,” he said.
“The number of those who are impoverished and endangered is staggering. Many persons live in fear and constant anxiety. The needs of minimal sustenance, particularly water, are of paramount importance and invite us to help. CRS reaches out to our global family,” the bishop said.

The bishop said that CRS Clubs across the country are giving students the opportunity to learn about issues of global injustice and involving their school community in impactful actions such as advocacy and fundraising.

The bishop said that CRS is “a bright light for all of our brothers and sisters overseas who don’t have enough to eat or a place to sleep because of entrenched poverty. All of God’s children have the right to live in just and peaceful societies, and for more than 75 years CRS has worked toward making that a reality.”

Catholic Relief Services is the USCCB agency that provides global humanitarian assistance to those in need in two critical ways: by responding to man-made and natural disasters and providing direct assistance to those in need. Its mission seeks effective ways by which every human person can be assisted to realize his or her full human integral development in an environment that is peaceful and sustainable.

Founded in 1943 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the agency provides assistance to 130 million people in more than 100 countries and territories in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

For more information on student and adult CRs clubs, contact Nora Ferreira Aufiero, Community Engagement Manager | Catholic Relief Services, Northeast Mid-Atlantic Region, Cell: 631-897-9129 | | or visit the website at:

Photo: Members of the new CRS Club at Notre Dame High School in Fairfield