Listen to, and support, Catholic radio!

BRIDGEPORT—On the week of May 3-7, Veritas Catholic Network is having their spring pledge drive.

“With St. Joseph as our patron, we are building a powerful means of evangelization for Jesus here in Connecticut and New York. What we are building will be here for generations and will touch thousands of souls,” wrote Steve Lee in the most recent newsletter.

Debbie Georgianni, who co-hosts EWTN’s Take 2 on Veritas most weekdays at noon, is the host for this spring’s pledge drive.

Veritas is the only 24-hour Catholic station in this area and is completely listener-supported.  Listen on the radio or by using the mobile app on your phone. All donations receive a prayer card & window decal.

(Tune in and call in to show your support: 833.88.TRUTH, or 833.888.7884 or visit:

Commencement and Celebration Plans for Classes of ’20 and ‘21

Beginning on May 15, Fairfield University will recognize graduates with both virtual Commencement ceremonies and in-person academic celebrations on Bellarmine Lawn through May 23.

FAIRFIELD— Fairfield University will honor the achievements of the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021, both with virtual Commencement ceremonies and with in-person academic celebrations. President Mark R. Nemec, Ph.D., provosts, deans, and faculty will recognize graduates’ academic achievements by the school and/or department at academic celebrations.

All academic celebrations will take place on Bellarmine Lawn, rain or shine, with health and safety protocols in effect. Graduates may each invite two guests to attend.

Class of 2020

Graduate and Professional Studies:
The graduate and professional studies ceremonies will be virtual on Saturday, May 15 at 9:30 a.m.

In-person academic celebrations on Bellarmine Lawn for Class of 2020 undergraduates will take place on Saturday, May 22, at 9:30 a.m. for both the College of Arts and Sciences and the Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies, and at 2 p.m. for both the Charles F. Dolan School of Business and the School of Engineering.

A special celebratory event for all members of the Class of 2020 will be scheduled during the University’s Fall Alumni & Family Weekend.

Class of 2021

The total number of degrees expected to be conferred are: 966 bachelor’s, 405 master’s, 23 sixth-year certificates, and 41 doctorates.

Graduate & Professional Studies:
On Sunday, May 16 at 9:30 a.m., Fairfield University will hold an in-person academic celebration for the Class of 2021 graduate and professional studies students on Bellarmine Lawn.

Beginning on Monday, May 17, Fairfield will hold a series of in-person academic celebrations for the Class of 2021 undergraduates, with the College of Arts and Sciences celebrations at 9:30 a.m. and at 2 p.m.

In-person academic celebrations for undergraduates in the Charles F. Dolan School of Business will take place on Tuesday, May 18, at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.

On Wednesday, May 19, the in-person celebration for undergraduates in the Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies will be at 9:30 a.m., and the School of Engineering’s academic celebration will be at 2 p.m. on May 19.

Virtual Commencement ceremonies to confer all Class of 2021 undergraduate and graduate degrees are scheduled for Sunday, May 23 at 9:30 a.m.

Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 Commencement Speaker

This year’s speaker for both the Class of 2020 and 2021 undergraduate and graduate virtual ceremonies Judy Woodruff—the anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour—will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. A news veteran who has covered national and international news and politics for over four decades at NBC, CNN, and PBS, Woodruff has reported on every presidential election since Jimmy Carter and has moderated numerous US presidential debates.

Starting in 1977, she served as the White House correspondent for NBC. Woodruff went on to be the chief Washington correspondent for the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour at PBS, as well as the anchor for PBS’s award-winning documentary series, Frontline with Judy Woodruff. She later served as an anchor and senior correspondent at CNN for 12 years before returning to PBS NewsHour, which she co-anchored with the late Gwen Ifill.

Woodruff is also a founding co-chair of the International Women’s Media Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting and encouraging women in journalism and communication industries worldwide. She serves on the board of trustees of the Freedom Forum and is director of Public Radio International and the National Association to End Homelessness. She is the recipient of the Poynter Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism and the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists. Among many honors, she has received the News and Documentary Emmy, a CableACE Award for Best Newscaster, and the Allen H. Neuharth Award for Excellence in Media. Woodruff is the recipient of more than 25 honorary degrees. She is a graduate and trustee emerita of Duke University.

(For more information please visit

COVID-19 vaccines coming to Sacred Heart Church, Danbury

DANBURY—Sacred Heart Church, in partnership with Griffin Health, the Department of Public Health and the City of Danbury, will be offering COVID-19 vaccinations every Wednesday in May from 3-7 pm.

Sacred Heart Church is located at 12 Cottage Street Danbury, CT 06810.

(For more information, call 211 or visit For guests who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711.)

From match-maker to religious sister

Robyn Lee loved the life she was living. She had everything a young person could want—a career in journalism, money, dates, a car, a house and summer trips to Europe. But she wanted more.

“The dream life wasn’t enough,” she says. “I had it all, but something was missing. There was a recognition of being called.”

As managing editor of Catholic Match Institute, she was helping Catholics navigate the singles life and prepare for marriage. But she sometimes wondered—while she was dating and attending singles conferences—when she would find the right match. Then, she found the perfect match. His name was Jesus.

This month, Sr. Mary Mercy Lee is renewing her temporary vows for three more years as a member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist.

Sister, who also held editorial positions at National Catholic Register, Catholic Digest, and Faith & Family magazine, now teaches theology at St. Paul High School in Bristol and lives at the John Lateran Center in Meriden with other sisters in formation.

When she looks back on her life, she realizes that all along the way, God was directing her to the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist.

“Starting with Mass with my family, the love for the Eucharist was instilled in me during childhood and into adulthood,” she says. “It was like God called me to this community. The Eucharist is the center. St. Francis says it is the pouring out of our God. That our all-powerful God would hide himself under an ordinary piece of bread shows his humility.”

The seeds of her vocation had been planted during childhood, beginning with her home life and the example of her parents. Every Saturday, her mother took four of her children, including Robyn,10, to Eucharistic Adoration at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Waterbury.

The youngest daughter in a family of six girls and one boy, Sister grew up in Cheshire and went to St. Bridget of Sweden Parish.

“Vocations are born in the home, and my parents, Maryalyce and Bob, provided a culture that was such a beautiful domestic church,” she says. “We went to Mass every Sunday. My mom could have a baby on Friday, and we would be in church on Sunday.”

Sister attended Mary Immaculate Academy in New Britain, where she was “an active student and social butterfly.”

“I was in drama and choir, and I liked sports,” she recalled. “I played girls basketball and girls softball, soccer with the boys team, and a few games with the boys baseball team.”

After graduating in 1998, she began studies at Christendom College in Virginia, where she majored in philosophy.

“When I was in high school, I didn’t necessarily appreciate the faith,” she says. “I just took it for granted that I had this beautiful culture around me, but at Christendom it was time to make it my own.”

She started attending daily Mass, and as her desire for the Eucharist increased, her spiritual life deepened.

Quoting the foundress of her community, Mother Rosemae Pender, she said, “You could be distracted at adoration and even fall asleep but just like when you’re at the beach, the sun still gets you. Being in the presence of the Eucharist changes you.”

After graduation, she took a job as editorial assistant at the National Catholic Register and eventually was named editor of Faith & Family magazine. When it was sold, she stayed on at the Register until a position opened up for editor at Catholic Digest.

Then in 2010, at 30 years old, she was named managing editor of Catholic Match Institute, where she was responsible for developing resources and educational materials to help couples preparing for marriage and single Catholics who are dating.

“I worked from home. I made good money and I had my own car,” she said. “And every summer I took a trip to Europe.”

At one point, she had to coordinate an essay contest on the topic “How do you discern if you are called to the married life?”

“I had a crisis about what that meant, and I wondered if I could judge the contest fairly,” she said. “I had to ask myself if I could even answer that question. Although I knew I wanted to be married and have a bunch of kids, I wondered whether I was called to the married life.”

Plus, she couldn’t understand why—if she was attending Catholic singles conferences and going on dates—she hadn’t met “The One.”

“I did know a guy I thought I might marry, but we broke it off,” she said. “And I found myself asking, ‘What am I supposed to be doing with my life?’”

During college, she had considered the possibility of a religious vocation, and a family friend, Father Paul Check, the former rector of St. John Fisher Seminary, told her that if she had the slightest inkling of a vocation, she should look into it. However, after exploring a few religious orders, she didn’t think it was meant for her.

To prepare herself to judge the essay contest, she asked friends and family members, including her five married sisters, how they knew they were called to the married life.

“I listened to their stories and got different answers. A lot of people said, ‘Well, you just know.’ Hearing that was so dissatisfying,” she said.

At the time, she was doing graduate studies at Holy Apostles Seminary and taking a course in the New Evangelization taught by Sr. Mary Anne Linder FSE, who invited her to an advent series of Masses and talks at the Franciscan chapel.

“I fell in love with it,” she said. “That’s where it began for me. I thought, ‘Wow, these sisters really love the Church and the Eucharist.’”

Sister Mary Anne continued to invite Robyn to events.

“Through the liturgies, my attraction to the sisters continued to grow,” she said.

When she finally went on a vocations retreat, she asked Sister Barbara Johnson, the vicar general, “How do you know if you have a vocation?” And she responded, “You can sit on the side of the pool and wonder if the water is cold…or you can jump in.”

“Her story was important for my vocation because I wanted to know that instant if it was God’s will for me to make final vows,” she said. “God was speaking through her, saying, ‘You don’t need to know the whole path. I am going to show you the next step’…and that next step was to accept pre-postulancy.”

At one point, the co-foundress Mother Shaun Vergauwen said to her, “You are really living the dream life. Why would you want to give that up?”

“I remember thinking, ‘Yes, I do have it all, but is there something more?’ I had a realization that the dream life wasn’t enough and that I was being called,” she said.                                        But there was a lot she had to sort out, especially since she owned a house and had a publishing business with several clients.

During her year of pre-postulancy, she wore the Franciscan brown tunic while attending Catholic Match events and working as managing editor. In addition, the other publications she edited—Catholic Digest and Catechist magazine—were wondering whether they could put their faith in her or should find someone else.

“I reached a point where I said, ‘It’s time for me to let all this go,’” she recalled.

And she did. In 2016, during the Year of Mercy, she entered the novitiate and was given the name Sister Mary Mercy Lee by Mother Shaun.

“How special it was that I became a novice during the Year of Mercy,” she says. “Even before I entered the community, my family and I had a great devotion to Divine Mercy.”

She also believes God led her to the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist.

“All through my life, the love of the Eucharist was instilled in me,” she says. “It was like God called me to this community because the Eucharist is all about love and learning to pour it out like our God does.”

Looking back, she can see the work of God in her life and believes that when we allow ourselves to surrender to God’s will, we discover the surprises he has in store for us.

“For me, the remarkable thing is that he could call me—a person who has made lots of mistakes—to be uniquely chosen to be a Bride of Christ,” Sister Mary Mercy said. “The lesson is the same for all of us. If we allow God to enter our hearts, we can do bigger things than we could ever imagine. We are broken vessels, and God chooses to shine through those broken vessels. He chooses us to be his hands and feet…and the way we do that is by being nourished in the Eucharist.”

By Joe Pisani

Global Prayer Marathon continues!

BRIDGEPORT—Pope Francis has called for a global prayer marathon for the entire month of May, praying for the end to the pandemic.

Each day in May, there will be a livestream from one of 30 chosen Marian shrines or sanctuaries to guide the prayer at 6 pm Rome time (noon EDT) on all Vatican media platforms.

“The initiative will involve in a special way all shrines in the world” in promoting the initiative so that individuals, families and communities all take part in reciting the rosary, “to pray for the end of the pandemic,” said the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization in a press release April 21.

To help spread the word and save time, The Leadership Institute website and Twitter feed will highlight the Rosary and will link directly to livestreams. 

(To follow along, visit:

Bishop blesses statues of St. Joseph and the Sacred Heart of Jesus

BRIDGEPORT—On Sunday, May 2, at St. Augustine Cathedral, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano celebrated a special Mass to bless two statues generously donated to the diocese.

A beautiful statue, which depicts St. Joseph holding a young Jesus and a bouquet of white lilies, was gifted to the diocese by generous donor, Connie Von Zwehl, parishioner of St. Pius X in Fairfield. A new statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was also generously donated on behalf of Joseph and Mary Gauci.

In his homily on this special Fifth Sunday of Easter, Bishop Caggiano spoke of his visit to Clonmacnoise, a monastery in Ireland. He described a ritual that the monks engaged in when they lived there: blessing the perimeter of the monastery with Holy Water, asking the angels to keep that place safe and sacred. Giving context, Bishop Caggiano explained that at the time there were many pagan religions in Ireland, who may not have wanted other religions to be in their midst and live among them.

The bishop likened this time to what Christians are experiencing now, saying that we live in a world that does not always welcome faith, Christ, or even God. He explained that this was his reasoning behind wanting to consecrate the diocese when he first became bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport. “To create a safe and sacred perimeter, in which you and I can live and work and pray, and gather each other in strength, so that we may go out, equally as missionaries into a world to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.”

Bishop Caggiano said that the process of consecration began at the synod and was completed today.

At the diocesan synod, the bishop consecrated the diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. A statue of Mary was placed in the sanctuary of St. Augustine Cathedral at that time, which the bishop explained was the first step of asking the Holy Family itself to be our protector. “Each member of the Holy Family gives us a tool, which we will need to go out into the world to be safe and sacred.”

“Our Lady reminds us that if we are to go out into the world that it must always be Christ first, Christ always first,” the bishop said.

“Under the care of St. Joseph, we consecrate ourselves, because we will need to be reassured in the work that Christ has given us. So we ask his prayers and intercession so that we might be faithful, quiet workers to bear Christ into the world,” he continued.

“And so we consecrate ourselves to the Lord’s Sacred Heart so that we might be His heart in the world. For we are not going to bring people to faith by arguing with them, chastising them, punishing them or judging them. We are going to bring them to the feet of Jesus by loving them.”

In His Sacred Heart, the bishop said, we have every confidence that His victory will be ours.

“I am very grateful for the gift of these two beautiful statues,” the bishop said, thanking Mrs. Von Zwehl and the Grimes family. “For it now can physically remind every person in this diocese under whose care we now live.”

The bishop thanked both donors for their generosity and their faith. “These statues will do us no spiritual good if we do not use them to remind ourselves of what it is the Lord is asking of us.”

“We must pray every day to Our Lady, to St. Joseph and to the Sacred Heart of Jesus that we will never falter, that we will never waiver, and with His grace we will not fail,” said the bishop.

Prayers of Blessing for Images of the Sacred Heart and St. Joseph

Photos by Amy Mortensen

Two new statues to be formally dedicated at special Mass

BRIDGEPORT— Bishop Frank J. Caggiano recently launched a diocesan-wide renewal as he consecrated the Diocese of Bridgeport to the protection and intercession of St. Joseph, the Patron of the Universal Church, during this Year of St. Joseph proclaimed by Pope Francis.

The bishop celebrated a Pontifical Mass on the Feast of St. Joseph, March 19, at St. Augustine’s Cathedral while pastors throughout the diocese simultaneously celebrated Mass, linking the diocese together in prayer and purpose.

During this special Mass, a new statue of St. Joseph was unveiled and blessed.

This beautiful statue, which depicts St. Joseph, holding a young Jesus and a bouquet of white lilies, was gifted to the diocese by generous donor, Connie Van Zwehl, parishioner of St. Pius X in Fairfield.

“When the Holy Father declared the Year of St. Joseph in December, I was so pleased to learn that St. Joseph was receiving the attention he never sought in life, but has so richly deserved,” said Connie.

She explained that the donation was made to honor the memory of two wonderful fathers: her own, James Belta and her husband, Vincent Van Zwehl.

“Their devotion to Our Lord, Our Church and dear St. Joseph will be immortalized through this beautiful statue,” she said, thanking Bishop Caggiano for the concept of placing this statue for all to worship and for the opportunity for her “to keep his memory and the memories I hold most dear alive in my grateful heart.”

In his apostolic letter Patris corde, (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis describes Joseph as “a hidden presence” and “a man in the shadows.” Similarly, during his Pontifical Mass on the Feast of St. Joseph, Bishop Caggiano observed, “Today we honor a man who has no directly recorded words in all of Sacred Scripture, and yet we come here to honor him as patron and guardian, defender and protector.”

A new statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was also generously donated on behalf of Joseph and Mary Gauci.

Joseph Gauci was a carpenter, and his wife’s name was Mary. They sacrificed everything to give their children opportunities for a better life. They lived the lives of their namesakes—always praying, helping others, and being there for each other.

They made sure to decorate their home with holy objects, most notably a large picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the kitchen. Every day, when getting up from the kitchen table after evening coffee and heading to bed, Mary would put her hand on that picture and give thanks for the day and all that was provided to them. Joseph Gauci still continued this tradition after Mary’s passing. Devotion to the Sacred Heart was something that they both shared in their hearts.

This Sunday, May 2, 9:30 am at St. Augustine Cathedral, Bishop Caggiano will celebrate Mass to formally dedicate these two statues.

A special celebration for Grandparent’s Day

TRUMBULL—St. Theresa School recently celebrated Grandparent’s Day with an oral spiritual bouquet after Mass and the Litany of the Saints led by Father Gannon.

Each class presented a prayer in Latin or English for the intentions of their grandparents and special guests.

Attached are the few short videos of the children reciting their prayers:

Kindergarten: Ave Maria (Hail Mary), Pater Noster (Our Father)
3rd Grade: Pater Noster (Our Father)
1st Grade: St Theresa Prayer

Click play below to watch a video.



CRS to host “Come and See” event for Diocese of Bridgeport

BRIDGEPORT—On Monday, May 3,  7:30-8:30 pm, Catholic Relief Services will be hosting a Come & See event, specifically for the Diocese of Bridgeport. “We are eager to move this opportunity forward as Bishop Frank J. Caggiano is very interested in establishing one or more chapters in the Diocese of Bridgeport,” said Nora Ferreira Aufiero, community engagement manager, Catholic Relief Services, Northeast Mid-Atlantic Region.

The event is open to anyone in the diocese who would be interested in taking a deeper dive into their commitment to global social justice and policy change to help our brothers and sisters around the world.

Catholic Relief Service (CRS) chapters are local communities of people who support CRS’ mission through measurable steps of advocacy and fundraising. The formation of the chapters is part of a strategy that CRS has crafted in response to the overwhelming set of problems we see around the world.

Click here to read an article by the CRS Executive Vice President for Mission & Mobilization Bill O’Keefe in U.S. Catholic magazine, which speaks more to the role and impact of CRS Chapters.

To RSVP, email:  by Friday, April 30.

Zoom Meeting Information for Monday, May 3:

Meeting ID: 974 2859 0445
Passcode: 016876
Find your local number:

Naqvi boys are entrepreneurs in the making!

TRUMBULL—Animal lover and St. Catherine of Siena 8th grader Mika’il Naqvi and his younger brother and future SCSS student, Ayaan, are entrepreneurs in the making.

After their beloved dogs had knocked one too many Christmas ornaments off of the family Christmas tree, the boys put their heads together to invent the Ornament Anchor.

The boys have been featured on QVC, Good Morning America, and the Today Show, sharing their invention and bringing awareness to animal shelters and the overwhelming need to support them.

This year, after donating a portion of their profits to animal charities, the boys were selected by the North Shore Animal League to be Student Ambassadors.

SCSS was the first school to partner with them to execute the grassroots project that they developed.

Together with their mother, Mrs. Amanda Naqvi, they are reaching out to other schools in the Diocese to hope that those schools can be a part of their movement and be Shelter Heroes.

Click here to learn more about the Naqvi boys, their Ornament Anchor invention, and the ways that they have impacted the lives of shelter animals.

Communion Closet offers clothes to those in need

SHELTON—Mallory Doyle, a Junior at St. Joseph High School and a Shelton resident is continuing a Communion Closet that was started by her sister several years ago for the upcoming Communion season. The Communion Closet offers a variety of communion clothing to boys and girls who will be making their First Holy Communion in the spring, who may face a need.
Due to COVID-19, all available items can be viewed virtually on the Facebook Group Page: Communion Closet – Upper Fairfield County/Naugatuck Valley Area.
Each piece is numbered and includes the description and size of the item available.
To make a request, please send a message or email: with the item number and your contact information to arrange for pickup.
Donations of gently used or new dresses, suits, or accessories are being accepted; please contact via messenger or email: to make arrangements.

If you see something, say something to encourage a vocation

BRIDGEPORT—In the din of everyday life and a world that is often chaotic, many young men may not hear the call to priesthood, and they often lack the encouragement they need to discern a vocation, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said on Good Shepherd Sunday.

In his online Mass from the Catholic Center, the bishop said “there are men in our midst whom the Lord is calling to the sacred priesthood,” but they may struggle to move forward without our support.

”We are in need of good holy priests to continue to guide us as shepherds. On this Good Shepherd Sunday, the Church asks us to pray for vocations and for our priests that they may be worthy shepherds following in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd. I ask you to pray that they may be faithful to the end, and I ask you to pray for me.”
In his homily for the fourth Sunday of Easter, Bishop Caggiano reflected on the Gospel of John (10 11-18 ) 14 “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me.”
The bishop said that of all the titles the lord ascribed to himself, the most endearing and beautiful is that of the Good Shepherd.

In the agrarian world in which Jesus lived, the relationship between shepherd and sheep would have been well understood by the people and would have resonated with them in a powerful way, he said.

“The sheep are guided by the Shepherd who leads them forward in security and love,“ he said. The sheep know the shepherds voice as one that protected them from danger and thieves.

“You and I are the sheep in the preaching of the word. Today we hear His voice,” the bishop said.

“We trust him and understand that He comes to feed us as the Good Shepherd so that we may be sustained as we face the challenges of life.”

Bishop Caggiano said that we are all called to holiness and to share in a basic priesthood through baptism, but certain men are called to a special ministry to “follow in the footsteps of Jesus and to preach courageously.”

The bishop said it was in the upper room on the night before he died that Jesus gave this unique ministry to his apostles.

The role of the priest is to help us turn our lives to the Good Shepherd and to make the grace and sanctity of the Lord present in our midst through the breaking of the bread and sharing of the wine.

The authority of a priest is based on a life of sacrifice and “comes from love—from laying down their lives and emptying themselves for other people,” he said.

The bishop said that after the attacks on the World Trade Center twenty years ago, there was a sign in every subway station that said, “If you see something, say something.”

Likewise, we should be on the lookout for the many men of all ages vocalizing or discerning the priesthood, and be prepared to identify, encourage and support those who are drawn to a vocation.

“In this case I have no doubt the Lord is calling many young men to priesthood,” the bishop. “If we see that, let us pray that they may find their own true path and we may have the priests we need to allow the Church’s mission to be renewed outside of the pandemic.”

Good Shepherd Sunday reminds us the Church needs priests to “preach the mission of Jesus and his Church all over the world so that ‘I am the Good Shepherd, I will lay down my life for you’ may be the words spoken on the lips of every priest.”

Before giving the final blessing the bishop personally asked all to pray for an increase of vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life.

He also announced that Pope Francis has asked Catholic throughout the world to pray for the end of the pandemic and to offer a Rosary throughout the month of May. He encouraged all to join in the weekly diocesan rosary and said the diocese will continue to add its prayer to the global prayer for the end of suffering from the pandemic.

All are invited to join Bishop Caggiano for the Sunday Family Rosary every Sunday at 7:30 pm visit:

Foundation in Education Extends Tuition Assistance Deadline

Foundations in Education is pleased to announce they are extending the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund application deadline for new K-8 families as long as funds permit. The hope is the extension will boost enrollment and also encourage consideration of Catholic education.

The mission of the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund is to help families afford Catholic elementary school tuition in the Diocese of Bridgeport. Now in its 7th year, the fund has awarded nearly $15 million in assistance to thousands of students attending Diocesan schools in Fairfield County who demonstrate financial need.

Last year, an anonymous donor to Foundations in Education (FIE) provided $1 million in additional funding for COVID-19 emergency tuition assistance for K-8 families suffering financial hardship from coronavirus-related illness, loss of employment, or loss of business.

Together with this fund, FIE awarded 1,480 students over $3.5 million in tuition assistance for the 2020-2021 academic year.

“We have a lot of great donors who really believe in the value of Catholic education because they received so much from their own Catholic education or have seen the great work Catholic schools are doing,” said Foundations’ Executive Director Holly Doherty-Lemoine.

The deadline for new families to apply to the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund was April 15 but has since been extended for a limited time, while funding permits.

After witnessing a delay in new student applications last spring due to COVID-19, FIE extended last year’s deadline. In doing so, a record high 260 new students applied for assistance.

This year, the deadline is being extended as a result of a continued surge of interest from public school families.

FIE’s Executive Director Holly Doherty-Lemoine observes, “We saw firsthand the difference Catholic schools make in the lives of students. For the most part our teachers met in person with their students five days a week throughout the year, putting students first. They are our unsung heroes and are instrumental in delivering an exceptional education to students. Now is a great time to assure your child’s academic future by enrolling in one of our Catholic schools.”

The application process is streamlined for convenience. Applicants apply online via the FACTS Grant and Aid application at Schools can assist new families with the application process.

According to the Office of the Superintendent, the nineteen Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport welcomed 1,114 new students in September 2020.

Principal at Saint Mary School in Ridgefield, Anna O’Rourke, shares, “Our objective this year was to provide a safe, in-person environment for students. Our protocols have been very effective, with minimal disruption. We see the benefit of in-person learning, and that is reinforced by parents, as we had 45 new students join us from Kindergarten – Grade 8.”

Bishop’s Scholarship Fund tuition assistance is made possible through donors to Foundations in Education. Click here to find out how your tax-deductible gift to FIE can help transform the life of a student.

Welcoming new ideas at All Saint Catholic School

NORWALK—All Saints Catholic School 6th and 7th graders participated in a “talk tournament” last week as the culmination of an historical fiction unit, where they worked in book clubs.

For this project, they had to read and discuss a short story. The idea was that whichever group could talk the longest, stay on topic, and not let the discussion be dominated by one person, would win.

A talk tournament? A prize for being able to talk the longest? Sounds like the perfect project for middle schoolers. But being able to listen as well, and ask questions? That’s a skill that is crucial, especially today.

“They all did such a fantastic job that I couldn’t even pick a winner,” said Mrs. Pollak, the Middle School English Language Arts teacher. “They applied so much of what we’ve talked about through this unit— and even the whole year. They came to the discussion with theories but welcomed other ideas, and many of them changed their thinking. They listened to each other, asked questions, went back into the text, and even redirected each other into the text. And those are just the speaking and listening skills. They employed so many literary analysis skills, too.”

Rather than limiting classroom talk and using it solely to check comprehension, discussion is crucial to develop thinking. But effective, collaborative discussion, listening to others with attention and care is a learned skill. And one our middle school students are learning to conquer.

(For more information on the middle school program at All Saints, visit

By Eileen M. D’Andrea