Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

NORWALK—Please join the St. Philip community its annual Lessons and Carols, a service of Scripture, music and caroling, on Sunday, December 18 at 7 pm at St. Philip Parish.

Choir members and instrumentalists of St. Philip Church, Assumption Parish and St. Luke Parish of Westport will be featured.

A reception will follow at St. Philip’s Lockwood Mansion.

Admission is free; a good will offering will be taken up to support the work of the St. Philip Music Ministry.

For more information, call  Music Director Maria O’Kelly at 203.847.4549.

STRATFORD—Christmas came early for St. Mark School, which hosted its traditional Breakfast with Santa. The event drew more than 230 children and parents together for holiday fun on December 4.

This year, the school gymnasium was transformed into Whoville  — complete with the Mayor of Whoville, Cindy Lou Who and the Grinch. But the hit of the morning, of course, was Santa Claus himself, who listened to Christmas wishes while posing for photographs with the children.

Breakfast was hosted and coordinated by Andy Tsichlas — owner of Paradise Pizza in Stratford and a St. Mark parent. Waffles, sausage, bacon and Grinch-scrambled eggs were served, along with coffee, tea and hot chocolate.

The event also featured Christmas arts and crafts, a cookie bake sale and themed basket raffles. Upper grade students and recent alumni helped with set-up and clean-up and provided entertainment for the children.

“There’s nothing better than seeing the children’s faces as they look upon the characters and decorations with awe,” shared St. Mark parent and Event Chair Michele Rouse. “It’s a magical time!”

St. Mark School is a 2009 Nationally Recognized Blue Ribbon School of Academic Excellence and a New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accredited school, serving students in Pre-K through Grade 8. Enrollment is at an all-time high at St. Mark School as the school continues to attract families looking for an exceptional faith-based education.

St. Mark will host a PreK – Grade 8 Open House on Sunday, January 29, 2023 in celebration of National Catholic Schools Week. For more information, visit www.stmarkschool.org or email contactus@stmarkschool.org.

SHELTON—St. Joseph’s Annual Advent Christmas Concert took place last Thursday evening in Shelton. The Parish and Children’s Choir, the Fairfield Prep Select Choir, the Fairfield University Bensonians and Sweet Harmony all participated, directed by Daniel Horstmann and Nicholas Stampone.

Attendees enjoyed traditional Christmas favorites like Joy to the World and Hark the Herald Angels sing, many of which were performed with an orchestra that included a violin, cello, flute and piano.

See photos from the concert below (pictures by Amy Mortensen):

FAIRFIELD—The Seton Collaborative was officially launched with a mission to help grow and renew the Church by unlocking the talents and skills of people within the diocese and beyond.

“For the Church to grow, we need to collaborate,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at the launch event, held October 26 on the Fairfield University campus. “Everyone gathered around a single vision will lead the Church forward. What excites me is the transformation!”

The bishop spoke to a group of about 65 benefactors and supporters who attended a special evening that began with Mass in the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola, followed by dinner in the Dogwood Room in the Barone Student Center.

The group gathered to celebrate the launch of the Seton Collaborative, learn more about the mission of the new innovative non-profit organization and share their thoughts on how best to engage with the initiative.

“We live in a time of many challenges,” the bishop said during his homily. “We live in a world that thrives on competition and division. You and I have come here to affirm a better way, to build on what we have and to work on initiatives that are collaborative.”

Those Seton Collaborative initiatives include partnering with both diocesan schools and parishes to provide them with financial, operational and other support and expertise and promote greater collaboration and support among them.

The bishop said the valuable resources within the diocese are not being used to their full potential.

“At this moment in our life, we have talents and gifts that are hidden because of the structure we have,” he said, referring to the duplication and redundancy of services each parish and school must employ. “For the Church to be renewed, we must unlock the talents that have been given to us. And for the Church to grow, we need to collaborate.

The bishop noted many parishes have already begun to collaborate on formation efforts, youth services and other projects.

The Seton Collaborative is named after St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, founder of the first Catholic schools in the United States. She is the patron saint of Catholic education.

Kevin Lawlor, executive director of the Seton Collaborative, explained during a presentation following dinner that utilizing resources efficiently throughout the diocese will enable schools and parishes to focus on what they do best—ministering to children and parishioners, not being distracted by day-to-day business requirements.

“Each school and each parish is a small business,” he said, noting principals and pastors might not have the time or expertise needed for the demands and nuances of running one. “As an organization built from the ground up to be a service organization, Seton will offer the best in school finances, IT and other services.”

In fact, the Collaborative has already begun working with schools to streamline payroll and accounting systems and provided additional training and support to ensure stronger financial systems.

This fall, some schools are being supported with the first-ever IT Help Desk. Lawlor said as the Seton Collaborative expands, parishes will also be able to take advantage of additional shared services.

Lawlor said streamlined services can give back time—a precious commodity—back to these organizations. And that time can be better utilized ministering to God’s people.

“We are not effectively passing the faith onto our children, who are leaving the Church,” Bishop Caggiano said. “My mission with the pastors is to help them imagine what could be.”

The savings realized by not duplicating activities at every parish affords the Collaborative the opportunity not only to compete with the secular world to recruit and retain top-notch talent, but also gives families the opportunity to work within the diocese to satisfy both their financial and spiritual needs—using their talents and gifts to work for God.

“We want to make the best of the best available to all our parishes and schools,” the bishop said. “If we don’t work together, we’re not going to survive together. The potential here is transformative.”

The bishop said as important as this initiative is for the survival of the Church, it is just as important that the people who make up the church are provided opportunities to evolve with the changes. For instance, the Collaborative is working to provide training for those affected by any of the potential changes.

Leading with compassion to preserve the character of the parishes and schools, the bishop said, is a top priority. And those in attendance agreed.

“The vision is spot-on, and I think the Collaborative will bring even … more value than the original intention of tactical operations,” said James O’Rourke, who attended the event with his wife Measi—the founder of St. Joseph Parenting Center. “The most important thing is that it will be done with compassion and in a way that is governed by God. It will be a benefit to the community.”

The bishop urged those gathered to support the Seton Collaborative efforts in any way they can.

“This is an opportunity for collaboration among all parishes and schools for the renewal of the whole church,” he said.

For information on the Seton Collaborative visit: setoncollaborative.org or email: info@setoncollaborative.org

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By Brian D. Wallace

DANBURY—Holiday music, cookies, cider and Santa! Immaculate High School invites you to get in the spirit at the Sweet Sounds of Christmas Concert Sunday, December 18 at 2 pm. Admission is free for this performance at the school’s Bobby Plumb Gym.

The Immaculate Music Department’s concert will feature a beautiful selection of pieces performed by the concert band, guitar ensemble, piano students, the Inspire Choir and the Junior Inspire Choir. There will also be a special spotlight featuring Immaculate’s seniors. Enjoy cookies and cider after the concert—plus meet a special visitor from the North Pole! All are welcome.

The school is located at 73 Southern Boulevard in Danbury, CT.

Immaculate High School is a private, non-profit Catholic college-preparatory institution serving students from 28 communities in Connecticut and New York. A continued commitment to our 60-year tradition of being a value-based, student-centric, outcomes focused Catholic high school, has driven our rising trajectory as evidenced by the 2022 Niche A+, Best Schools ranking.

BRIDGEPORT—During his regular Sunday Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral (8:30 am), the Bishop offered the following reflection on the First Sunday of Advent, the beginning of a new spiritual year. In his homily he encourages us to “make a resolution or perhaps more than one to use this new year for our spiritual growth and for the love of our sisters and brothers, We are pleased to provide this transcript:

Good morning, everyone. I think we can safely say that for all of us, when we have the opportunity to begin a new year, take it also as an opportunity for a new beginning, fresh start, to be able to look at our life in a new way. And please God, with his grace and our resolutions, seek to improve it. That is why on New Year’s Day, almost all of us make resolutions, which to varying degrees we are successful in keeping. And yet that crossed my mind in preparation for this day because my friends in the eyes of faith, today is New Year’s Day. You and I come to begin yet another year of grace in the church. And perhaps we can take a lesson out of our secular handbook and perhaps use this day to make resolutions to grow in our spiritual life, our relationship with the Lord and our love for one another.For today is the first day of Advent, the season we celebrate the three comings of Christ.

First and foremost, in four weeks, you and I will gather to adore the Christ child born in Bethlehem. And so these weeks are meant as a  time for reflection and penance in a cleansing of our minds and hearts to receive him worthy.

But he came to establish a kingdom. We celebrated that last week. And so Advent also prepares our minds and hearts and our will to receive him at the day and hour of his choosing as we heard in his, in the gospel from the Lord himself to await his coming when he will not come in swaddling clothes in poverty, but he will come in majesty and power and every knee that ever existed will bend to him. He who is the judge of the living and all the dead, he will come to heal all creation and offer it to his father as a fragrant gift.And then of course, in the in-between time, as you and I walk this journey of faith, we celebrate an advent, as we do every day of the year, the coming of Christ here on the altar, under the form of bread and wine. He comes to accompany us, feed us, support us, strengthen us in our challenges, to overcome our temptations, to enlighten our minds and give strength to our wills to do good. Why? So that you and I might be co-workers in building up the kingdom that was created and born in Him. On this New Year’s Day, we begin the journey anew.So what is my suggestion to you, my friends? My suggestion to you as it is to me, is to spend this day and use it wisely to make resolutions as we would on New Year’s day, but spiritual resolution so that we might welcome Christ into our lives in an ever more perfect and beautiful way. And perhaps the three comings, the grammar of advent can help us to examine our conscience. So for example, it is no mistake that Jesus came in Bethlehem in poverty. He didn’t come in royal glory because he stood with the poor and the destitute and those who have no one to stand with them. I ask you, my friends, as you look on this new year, what can you and I do more than already? We are doing to stand with the poor and the sick and the immigrant and those who are alone, who have no one to stand with them. Because when we do, we will discover the face of Christ in our midst.So too the coming of Christ and glory. I alluded to the fact that you and I are coworkers in building the kingdom in our midst. And so I ask you as I ask myself, what part of my life is not building up the kingdom? Where do you and I refuse to forgive, to hold a grudge, refuse to be the dispenser of mercy. Where do you and I and our lives still stubbornly, clinging to a spirit perhaps that is divisive, that does not seek unity and peace? If you and I can name it, this is the day to make the resolution with Christ’s grace to overcome it one day at a time. And then of course my friends, we speak of the coming of Christ here on the altar. You and I are faithful to this great sacrifice every Sunday, some of us every day. And yet my friends forgive me for putting it this way, but familiarity can easily breed contempt, can breed an attitude where we take this precious gift for granted.

And so I ask you each time you come to the altar to receive his Sacred Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity as I do each day. Are our hearts filled with wonder and awe that Christ is there for you and me? Are we filled with gratitude that the master of all things comes as food so that you and I might have life have we forgotten to be? When we come to church, when we’re here in adoration, he comes to us each and every day. What must I do in my life and yours so that we may welcome him with ever more gracious and grateful hearts?

Today is New Year’s for us. In faith. Let us make a resolution or perhaps more than one to use this new year to our spiritual growth and for the love of our sisters and brothers, for if we do. When we come to Bethlehem and we look upon the face of the judge of all things, whenever that day comes, my friends, we will be far more ready, far more prepared, far more grateful, and far more open to the gift the Lord asks us to accept. And that is the gift of eternal life. Happy New Year’s.

All are invited to join the Bishop in person each Sunday at St. Augustine Cathedral, 399 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport. The live-stream will be available Sundays at 8:30 am on the St. Augustine Cathedral website (www.thecathedralparish.org, while the replay will be available on the Diocese YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/c/BridgeportDiocese/streams) once Mass concludes.

GREENWICH — In these troubled times when married couples confront countless challenges, St. Paul Parish is offering the ideal spiritual antidote — an evening together … with Jesus.

Evenings for Married Couples, a monthly program for couples of all ages, is a collaboration of Regnum Christi NY Tri-State and St. Paul Parish, designed to give married couples some authentic quality time.

“Everyone knows it’s not easy to get a date on the calendar, let alone decide where to go, get a reservation, figure out where to park, and of course, budget for the expense,” says Hope Hirshorn PhD, Director of RCIA at St. Paul’s and Director of Regnum Christi NY Tri-State. “Evenings for Married Couples offers a beautiful sanctuary, dimly lit with candles, quiet music setting the mood, plenty of room to sit together, and a program that includes a short reflection tailored to enrich one’s marriage while finding peace amid the challenges of daily life.”

The evenings are offered free of charge to area Catholics on the first Thursday of every month, from 7:30 to 8:40 p.m., beginning October 6, and running until May, except for the first Thursday in April. Registration is recommended. For further information, email Hirshorn at hmhirsh@optonline.net or go to www.rcnytristate.org/marriage-evenings/

“This innovative program is important because it provides an opportunity for married couples to take a little time away from all the noise, distractions and challenges of daily life to focus on each other,” Hirshorn says. “While the demands placed on married couples today are significant, there are very few places married couples can go to nourish and strengthen their marriages. What is significant about what St. Paul is offering is that it can be a consistent ‘date night’ for couples.”

Hirshorn says the program “is simple but powerful.” The evening begins with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for a period of adoration. She says making Jesus central to marriages helps them thrive.

The priest who oversees the evening delivers a brief talk, combining Scripture with real-life stories. The couples are then encouraged to discuss a question pertinent to their relationship, such as, “When, by your attitude toward your wife/husband, have you forgotten that she/he is a gift that has been entrusted to you?”

A Eucharistic blessing concludes the program, which is followed by fellowship with refreshments.

“I must say I was pleasantly surprised at the impact only one meeting had on me,” said Michael Caridi who attended with his wife Jill. “It made me ask questions of what marriage means to me and the times I take for granted the special bond we have. I encourage everyone to get out of their comfort zone and embrace this program and reboot your relationship with your spouse and with God.”

The first evening was led by Fr. Jorge Obregon, LC, who offered a short reflection about how spouses are gifts to each other. This was followed by discussion questions, including, “When have you been a gift to your spouse in a concrete way recently?”

Also on hand for the program were Fr. Eric Nielsen, LC, and St. Paul’s pastor, Fr. Leszek Szymaszek.

Hirshorn thanked Fr. Szymaszek for opening the church for the program and making it available to all married couples “interested in growing in their faith and strengthening their marriages.”

Married couples of all ages are invited, Hirshorn said, and the parish plans to reach out to parents of students in the religious education program, along with young married couples in the area. You do not have to be a member of the parish to take part.

Evenings for Married Couples is an outgrowth of other Regnum Christi programs, including Three to Get Married, which is their Pre-Cana program; Cana Uncorked, which offers young couples a chance to socialize at a host couple’s home to discuss topics with a priest over dinner. In addition, there is C4: Catholic Couples, Cocktails and Christ aimed at couples who have kids in college; and One Flesh, a weekend retreat for married couples. For more information, visit www.rcnytristate.org

Hope and her husband William have been married 32 years and have six children. “For my husband and me, faith is at the center of our marriage,” she says.

Quoting Venerable Fulton Sheen, she says, “It takes three to make love, not two: you, your spouse and God. Without God, people only succeed in bringing out the worst in one another. Lovers who have nothing else to do but love each other soon find there is nothing else. Without a central loyalty, life is unfinished.”

By Joe Pisani

NEW HAVEN—Knights of Columbus councils in Connecticut will continue their signature Coats for Kids program on Black Friday, November 25, 2022, providing thousands of children with new winter coats at eight distribution sites throughout the state. Launched in 2009, the Knights of Columbus Coats for Kids program, through the efforts of 8,000 Knights of Columbus councils throughout the United States and Canada, has provided more than 949,000 coats to children in need.

Coats for Kids distributions in Connecticut will take place on Friday, November 25, 2022, from 10 am to 2 pm.(unless otherwise indicated) at the following locations:

  • Bridgeport – 391 Ogden Street, McGivney Center—Saint Charles Borromeo Church
  • Columbia – 328 Route 66, Saint Columba Church Hall
  • Hartford – 140 Farmington Avenue, Cathedral of Saint Joseph
  • Middletown – 155 Washington Street, Saint Sebastian Church
  • New Haven – 397 Ferry Street, Saint Francis Church
  • Plainfield – 10 Railroad Avenue, Saint John’s Church
  • Waterbury – 515 South Main Street, All Saints Parish – Todos Los Santos Parish
  • Stamford – 507 Shippan Avenue, Knights of Columbus (Note: Distribution in Stamford will occur from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.)

In recent years, Knights of Columbus councils have expanded their efforts by supplying local police officers and firefighters with coats to distribute within their communities as they go about their day-to-day duties.

In 2021, Knights of Columbus councils distributed more than 149,000 new winter coats to children in need throughout the United States and Canada, a total which includes over 5,000 provided in Connecticut. This year, Connecticut councils have already distributed over 6,000 coats to children in need.

About the Knights of Columbus

In 1882, Blessed Michael McGivney, a young parish priest in New Haven, Connecticut, founded the Knights of Columbus to serve the needs of a largely immigrant Catholic community. What began as a small fraternal benefit society has since grown into one of the world’s leading international charitable organizations, with more than 2 million members in over 16,000 local councils. Last year, Knights around the world donated nearly 48 million service hours and nearly $154 million for worthy causes in their communities. The Knights of Columbus also offers extensive life insurance products to members and their families. Knights of Columbus currently has more than $120 billion* of life insurance in force and was named by Forbes as one of America’s Best Insurance Companies 2023. In addition, the Knights provides investment services in accord with Catholic social teaching through Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors, which holds more than $25 billion in assets under management. Based on the founding principles of charity, unity and fraternity, the Knights of Columbus is committed to strengthening Catholic families and parishes and to practicing faith in action through service to all in need. To learn more or to join the Knights of Columbus, please visit kofc.org/join.

FAIRFIELD—We are grateful for all the ordinary days and extraordinary ways we are nurtured by each other.

Please enjoy some images of JOY & GRATITUDE from Saint Catherine Center.

Wishing a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving to all!

Click the player below to watch the video:

NORWALK—St. Matthew Parish invites you to join in the fun and festivities at its inaugural St. Matthew Christmas Sip & Shop Event, December 3-4.

The Msgr. Walter C. Orlowski Rec Center will be transformed into a bustling Holiday Market with carefully-curated Vendors showcasing Jewelry, Boutique Items, Clothes, Accessories, “Make Your Own Ornaments,” Candles, Seasonal Home Décor, and more!

There will also be a Gift Wrapping Station, Vendor Raffle & 50/50 Raffle, Christmas Trees with twinkle lights, Food, Specialty Drinks and Holiday Music!! It’s designed for all to have a fun day out, and to leave the Sip & Shop with gifts checked off your list for family & friends – and yourself!! And the best part: Admission is FREE! For more information, please visit StMatthewNorwalk.org.

During his regular Sunday Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral (8:30 am), the Bishop offered the following reflection on the Solemnity of Christ the King. In his homily he reminds us of the difference between worldly power and the “authority of the Shepherd,” which is love that unites us all. We are pleased to provide this transcript:

“My dear friends, it was the last day of our family trip to London, and my mother sister insisted that we go to this final destination. And I remember as we arrived, we went down these long steps, very dark and damp, very narrow because we were going deeper and deeper into the Tower of London to see the crown jewels of the kings and queens of England. And I must confess, I was unimpressed going down. But when you actually see them, they are quite astonishing. Some of the largest diamonds in all the world sit in the crown that now will be on the head of Charles II.

As we were coming up the steps, it dawned on me that for all their beauty and for all, they represent authority and power in its time, absolute authority in terms of this world. It dawned on me that on those very steps, there were those who walked having no concern for the authority. Those jewels represented were not impressed in the least because they were walking in allegiance to a different king. The English Martyrs, they gave their lives being held in that tower because they believed that the only king that matters has a throne of wood and jewels made of nails. And they honored him to the end.

Today, you and I gather to celebrate Jesus Christ, king of the universe. We need to be sure we understand what it is we are celebrating in his kingship for in this world, my dear friends, kingship authority and power usually measures itself in a very divisive way, meaning that wealth is accumulated in the hands of those who have authority to the detriment of those who do not. Oftentimes that authority is exercised, not in a way that brings unity, but actually can divide us. And when it is held in the hands of those who have no answer to anyone else, it can be ruthless, oppressive. We see that in our own world.

And while it is necessary for the world to have structures of authority, those structures need to remember that one day, whether they like it or not, they will kneel to the only king where the authority of our shepherd is one of love. It’s not divisive, it’s uniting because he offered his life from his throne. For all of us saints and sinners alike, he did not come to exercise that power in an exclusive way, but in an inclusive way because he asks us, you and me, to love each other as he loved us. And he promises us, not riches, not diamonds, not crowns, not comfort, but he promises us a place in paradise as he gave to the good thief. In the last moments of his life, he asks us to be His presence in the world for his kingship would be invisible without you and me as those who walk in his footsteps.

So I ask you, to whom do you and I pledge our allegiance to which king do we bow and kneel and offer our loyalty, our duty, our obligation, our life? And if you and I will say to ourselves, well, Bishop, of course I give my allegiance to Jesus or else I would not be here. That may be true, but allow me to ask you a second question as I ask myself. If we truly have our allegiance to the king of love, do our lives show that allegiance clearly or do they not? And at times, I dare to say that is true for all of us in the season that will be coming next Sunday.

As we begin the holy season of Advent, it is time for us to reflect, to seek forgiveness, to repent, so that on Christmas morning when the infant is born, in the poverty of Bethlehem, we will be able to look upon him. And with hearts, minds, and wills, renew our pledge of allegiance to the King of kings and the Lord of Lords. Jesus the Christ.”

All are invited to join the Bishop in person each Sunday at St. Augustine Cathedral, 399 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport. The live-stream will be available Sundays at 8:30 am on the St. Augustine Cathedral website (www.thecathedralparish.org, while the replay will be available on the Diocese YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/c/BridgeportDiocese/streams) once Mass concludes.

TRUMBULL—As the Church celebrated the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe on November 20, a small parish in Trumbull had a celebration of its own.

Christ the King Parish on Madison Avenue commemorated the 60th anniversary of its founding with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and a community gathering. Founded in 1962 as Most Precious Blood Church, the parish was renamed Christ the King in 1974.

“It is important to celebrate this milestone and recognize who we are as a community,” said Father Richard Gemza, Christ the King’s pastor.

The importance of community resonated throughout the ministries of the parish and its members. Longtime parishioner MaryAnn DeFusco helped coordinate the celebration. As a trustee for over 40 years, she has seen the dedication that members have show both to the church and to each other.

“We are an exceptionally close-knit family of parishioners working and praying together,” she said. “We have been blessed over the years with caring pastors and religious personnel whose vision and guidance have helped create a parish of which we are very proud.”

Father Gemza himself, who has been pastor for the past year, has seen this close-knit atmosphere firsthand, feeling fortunate to be in a place which he called “welcoming and community-minded.”

“In my short time here, I’ve seen people who are very involved in their faith and parish community,” he said. “It’s one of those places where everyone checks in on everyone else.”

Concelebrating the Mass with Bishop Caggiano were Father Gemza and former pastors Father Terrence Walsh and Father Lawrence Carew.

In his homily acknowledging both the Feast of Christ the King and the Trumbull parish named after it, the bishop recalled a visit to the Tower of London where he viewed the Crown Jewels, which by earthly standards, he said, were “quite impressive,” especially the singular diamond soon to be worn by the newly appointed King Charles III, when British subjects will soon pledge allegiance to him.

However, at one time, the same tower also held the martyrs St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, who pledged allegiance to another king and stood for the law of God.

“Jesus is our king—of the universe and of all creation,” Bishop Caggiano said. “Consider the allegiance this demands of us. What matters is love, and the faith and hope to pledge that allegiance. The king we give allegiance to is the shepherd of love.”

And what treasures do those jewels have?

“Jesus giving his life for us—that is a treasure,” the bishop said. “He asks those who stand with him to do for others. Commit to love for saints and sinners, for those we care about and for those we don’t.”

In preparation for Advent, the bishop said, “It is time for you and me to look in the mirror and ask how are we failing in our allegiance to Christ the King? Let us make this allegiance today, so 60 years from now, people may be saying that they were able to stand with the only king that mattered.”

As the bishop commented on this milestone, he shared his delight in celebrating the day, and quipped the parish was only three years younger than he is. This is a family, he said, that has grown for 60 years, all in allegiance to Christ.

As Mass concluded, several members presented him with a gift: a framed, crocheted image of Christ, handmade by parishioner Alberta Ceresa.

A gathering was later held in the parish center, where parishioners enjoyed cake and coffee and shared memories of their time at Christ the King. Gilda Palatiello, a founding member from 1962, said she can still recall the early days.

“Now I’m just so used to this church and the community,” she said. “I don’t even think about how many years it’s really been.”

Kristen Geraghty joined the parish in 1992 with her parents and now attends Mass at Christ the King with her husband and three children.

“I heard what the bishop said about this being a family,” she said. “I’ve seen the same families come through and grow as parishioners. There are so many faces that hold so many memories.”

By Emily Clark

DANBURY—It is one of the most iconic holiday shows in America—and now Immaculate High School’s Inspire Choir will be performing in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular!

The group will open for the famous show on Thursday, December 8 at 11 am. The Choir will perform a song they selected to coincide with the Immaculate Conception which falls on December 8, “Mary, Did You Know?” Twenty-four students, which include freshman through seniors, will be part of the performance.

“I am so proud of our Inspire Choir and they are excited to perform at Radio City,” said Immaculate Choir Director Jen Doherty. “We know that their beautiful song will touch many during this holiday season and we hope to have some local fans in the audience!”

Come out and support our local Inspire Choir in the Big Apple by purchasing discount tickets here.

 


Immaculate High School is a private, non-profit Catholic college-preparatory institution serving students from 28 communities in Connecticut and New York. A continued commitment to our 60-year tradition of being a value-based, student-centric, outcomes focused Catholic high school, has driven our rising trajectory as evidenced by the 2022 Niche A+, Best Schools ranking.

FAIRFIELD—Writer, poet and author of hymn texts, Anna Bendiksen of Fairfield, has written a new hymn to ask the Blessed Mother’s protection in a deeply troubled world.

“O Mary by Thy Fiat,” was completed on November 7, when the writer was thinking about “how badly we need Our Lady” in a world “that is cold and spurns Thy son, our King.”

The new hymn text is set to the 19th-century tune “Unde et Memores” by William H. Monk (1823-1889), an English church musician who was influenced by the Oxford Movement, in which St. John Henry Newman played a leading role.

The first stanza proclaims, “O Mary by thy Fiat came the dawn of goodness, truth and beauty born anew; Yet in the presence of the holy One we make reply with lips and lives untrue; O Mother still a Maid, we know not how; Arise and be a Mother to us now.”

Bendiksen, who has graciously shared many of her compositions with those who visit the diocesan website, said this tune is usually sung with the text “Lord, Who at Thy First Eucharist Didst Pray.”

“Several weeks back, I started hearing different words to the last phrase—the words “Arise, and be a Mother to us now.” This, of course, was inspired by St. Teresa of Kolkata, who often prayed, “O Blessed Mother, be a mother to me now.”

A native of Detroit, Anna Bendiksen spent her childhood in the Midwest, learning piano, viola, and voice as a schoolgirl in Brookings, South Dakota. Having moved to Rochester, New York, she studied voice in the Preparatory Division of the Eastman School of Music and began taking Russian at Brighton High, the public high school from which she was graduated. It was at Brighton High that several great teachers inspired me to take poetry seriously both as a reader and as a writer.

She earned degrees from Bryn Mawr College (A.B. in Russian summa cum laude), where she served as director of the Bryn Mawr-Haverford Russian Choir, and Yale University (M.A., M. Phil. in Slavic Languages and Literatures). She is also trained in teaching English to speakers of other languages (certificate from Teachers College, Columbia University).

A convert to Catholicism from Anglicanism, she is a Fairfield resident along with her husband and son, and member of the Parish of St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull.

For more information about Anna Bendiksen’s sacred music compositions, visit: www.annabendiksen.com.

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BRIDGEPORT—As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, the faithful of the Diocese of Bridgeport have the opportunity to give to the best of both worlds.

The Diocese of Bridgeport has selected two crucial ministries for its parishioners to support on November 29, Giving Tuesday. The first is Foundations in Faith’s St. Francis Xavier Fund for Missionary Parishes. which supports vibrant inner-city parishes facing socioeconomic challenges. The second is Foundations in Charity’s Mental Health Matters campaign, which will support mental health services and programs provided by Catholic Charities of Fairfield County.

Both target areas are in need of support. As temperatures begin to drop, some parishes in the Diocese of Bridgeport will have difficulties paying their heating bills during the winter months. Many of the parishes can just meet their financial needs, meaning they might be one broken boiler away from financial disaster.

In addition, mental health support is crucial now more than ever as the world navigates to the other side of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the National Institute of Health, nearly half of Americans surveyed in a 2021 study reported recent symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorders, and 10 percent of them reported their mental health needs were not being met. These effects were highest among children, racial and ethnic minorities, people with housing and financial insecurity and healthcare workers, among others.

Luckily, both Foundations in Faith and Foundations in Charity can provide crucial support for both of these efforts. And the impact they make can be life-changing for the members of the communities they help.

For example, St. Augustine Cathedral barely made it through last winter with its boiler on its last legs. It was becoming costly to heat and cool the cathedral, so its leadership explored using geothermal energy to do the job. Unfortunately, the parish couldn’t afford the upfront costs—until the St. Francis Xavier Fund intervened.

“The St. Francis Xavier Fund stepped forward and provided an unprecedented two-year grant totaling $400,000 to make the first geothermal energy parish project happen here in the diocese,” said Father Art Mollenhauer, pastor of The Cathedral Parish. “Our hearts and hands are warmed by this generosity.”

Foundations in Charity provides financial support to Catholic Charities of Fairfield County’s many programs — including mental health support. Programs include mental health counseling, as well as specific programs for adults living with mental illnesses and disabilities.

It might be difficult to choose which initiative to support, but this Giving Tuesday, you don’t have to! All donors have the option to split their gift between both initiatives.

Thank you for helping Foundations in Charity and Foundations in Faith provide essential services and support to the more vulnerable people and parishes in our community.

Click here to donate to the Diocese of Bridgeport’s Giving Tuesday campaign!

By Rose Brennan