Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has published a meditation on liturgical formation in which he urges an end to polemics in the liturgy, a rediscovery of its beauty, and reasserts his emphasis on unity around the one Roman Rite that emerged after the Second Vatican Council.

Entitled Desiderio Desideravi and published on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Vatican said the 65-paragraph apostolic letter reworks the results of a 2019 plenary meeting of the Dicastery of Divine Worship and follows the Pope’s 2021 motu proprio Traditionis Custodes, which restricted the Mass according to the pre-1962 Roman Missal in an effort to foster ecclesial communion around the post-Vatican II liturgical rite.

The Pope’s new document, the Vatican said, is a “meditation on understanding the beauty of liturgical celebration and its role in evangelization,” and concludes with the Pope making an appeal to “abandon controversy in order to listen together to what the Spirit is saying to the Church,” as well as to “guard communion” and to “continue to be amazed by the beauty of the liturgy.”

The release of the document, unusually without an accompanying press conference, was overshadowed by news that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had received Holy Communion at a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the same day, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, in the presence of Pope Francis.

In May, Pelosi’s bishop, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, announced that she would not be admitted to Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco due to her position on abortion. Holy See Press Office spokesman Matteo Bruni said he had “nothing to say” about the matter when asked by the Register on Wednesday.

‘Missionary Option’

In Desiderio Desideravi, Pope Francis begins by stressing that “no one earned a place” at the Last Supper, “all had been invited,” and the same applies to the world even though it “still does no know it.” This is why, the Pope said, he said he “dream[ed] of a ‘missionary option’” in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium.

He explains the nature, salvific power and beauty of the Mass; that the liturgy, more than a “vague memory of the Last Supper,” is “the place of encounter with Christ;” and that “there is only one act of worship, perfect and pleasing to the Father; namely, the obedience of the Son, the measure of which is his death on the cross.”

He discusses the “theological sense of the liturgy,” saying that “we owe to the [Second Vatican] Council — and to the liturgical movement that preceded it — the rediscovery of a theological understanding of the liturgy and of its importance in the life of the Church.”

With this letter, he says he wants the whole Church not only “to rediscover, to safeguard, and to live the truth and power of the Christian celebration,” but also to ensure that the Eucharist not be “spoiled by a superficial and foreshortened understanding of its value or, worse yet, by its being exploited in service of some ideological vision, no matter what the hue.”

‘Antidote for Spiritual Worldliness’

Francis argues that the liturgy is an “antidote for the poison of spiritual worldliness,” and recalls a point he made in Evangelii Gaudium, that this can be in the form of Gnosticism, which he defines as a form of subjectivism, and neo-Pelagianism that “cancels out the role of grace” and leads instead “to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism.” Both of these, he says, “can have disastrous consequences for the life of the Church.”

But the liturgy, he adds, is “the most effective antidote to these poisons,” and stresses he is speaking of divine worship in its “theological sense and certainly not, as Pius XII already affirmed, liturgy as decorative ceremonies or a mere sum total of laws and precepts that govern the cult.” The liturgy, Francis adds, does not say “I” but “we,” and that “any limitation on the breadth of this ‘we’ is always demonic.”

On rediscovering daily the “beauty of the truth of the Christian celebration,” the Pope contends that this does not entail the “search for a ritual aesthetic which is content by only a careful exterior observance of a rite or is satisfied by a scrupulous observance of the rubrics.”

“Obviously,” he adds, “what I am saying here does not wish in any way to approve the opposite attitude, which confuses simplicity with a careless banality, or what is essential with an ignorant superficiality, or the concreteness of ritual action with an exasperating practical functionalism.”

Rather the Pope stresses that “every aspect of the celebration must be carefully tended to […] and every rubric must be observed.” But he adds that even if the quality and proper action of the celebration were guaranteed, that would not ensure full participation, and he goes on to stress the need for “amazement before the Paschal Mystery.” Wonder, he says, “is an essential part of the liturgical act.”

‘Abstract Spiritualism’

The Pope then underlines the “need for a serious and vital liturgical formation” especially given that “modern people” in different degrees “have lost the capacity to engage with symbolic action, which is an essential trait of the liturgical act.” He says that with post-modernity, people feel “even more lost, without references of any sort, lacking in values because they have become indifferent, completely orphaned, living a fragmentation in which a horizon of meaning seems impossible.”

He speaks of an “abstract spiritualism which contradicts human nature itself,” but adds that it is with this reality of the modern world that the Church, united at the Council, “wanted to enter into contact, reaffirming her awareness of being the sacrament of Christ.” After quoting St. Paul VI’s words at the end of the second session of the Council in 1963, in which he underlined the liturgy as the “first gift” the Church must give the people, Francis turns to the tensions around the celebration which he describes as “primarily ecclesiological.”

“I do not see how it is possible to say that one recognizes the validity of the Council — though it amazes me that a Catholic might presume not to do so — and at the same time not accept the liturgical reform born out of Sacrosanctum Concilium,” a reference to the Council’s constitution on the sacred liturgy.

That document, he says, “expresses the reality of the liturgy,” and it is for this reason he says he stressed in his motu proprio Traditionis Custodes that only the reformed liturgy that followed the Council is “the unique expression of the lex orandi [the way we pray] of the Roman Rite.”

Francis goes on to say that this is why he sees the need for a “serious and dynamic liturgical formation” — because the “non-acceptance of the liturgical reform, as also a superficial understanding of it, distracts us from the obligation of finding responses to the question that I come back to repeating: how can we grow in our capacity to live in full the liturgical action? How do we continue to let ourselves be amazed at what happens in the celebration under our very eyes?”

Romano Guardini

Quoting the 20th century theologian Romano Guardini, who said liturgical reforms “won’t help much” without liturgical formation, the Pope stresses the need to spread knowledge of the “theological sense of the liturgy” beyond the academic environment.

Noting that “a celebration that does not evangelize is not authentic,” he says that liturgical formation is “not something that can be acquired once and for all,” but requires “permanent formation of everyone, with the humility of little ones, the attitude that opens up into wonder.” The Pope also includes the formation of seminarians in his letter, saying they must experience the liturgy as “not only exemplary from a ritual point of view but also authentic and alive.”

The liturgy, he adds, is not only about “knowledge” but “praise,” and, again quoting Guardini, says that the first task of liturgical formation is to enable man to become capable once again of understanding symbols. “The task is not easy because modern man has become illiterate, no longer able to read symbols,” the Pope observes. And he stresses the need to be open to the transcendent because not recognizing God as constitutive of us leads to us not only not knowing God but also ourselves.

Turning to ars celebrandi (the art of celebrating), he says he sees this as one way of regaining an understanding of symbols, but adds that ars celebrandi cannot be reduced to “only a rubrical mechanism” or “much less should it be thought of as imaginative — sometimes wild — creativity without rules.”

The art of celebration, he continues, “is not something that can be improvised” but like every art, “it requires consistent application.” The Pope also underlines the importance of gestures in the liturgy, from sitting, standing and kneeling, to singing, being in silence and acclamations. Such gestures and discipline “authentically form us,” he says. “Among the ritual gestures that belong to the whole assembly, silence occupies a place of absolute importance,” which “moves to repentance and the desire for conversion; it arouses listening to the Word and prayer; it disposes to adoration of the Body and Blood of Christ,” the Pope says.

‘Humility and Contrition’

The Holy Father also discusses the liturgical role of ordained ministers and warns against “rigid austerity or an exasperating creativity, a spiritualizing mysticism or a practical functionalism.” Such abuses, he says, have a “common root” which he describes as a “heightened personalism of the celebrating style which at times expresses a poorly concealed mania to be the center of attention.” Sometimes this can become more evident when liturgies are broadcast over the air or online, he adds.

To overcome this, the Pope urges priests to understand the reality that when celebrating the Eucharist, they are being “plunged into the furnace of God’s love.” This requires the priest assiduously “tending to the fire of the love of the Lord that he came to ignite on the earth” and doing so “in humility and contrition.”

In conclusion, the Pope says his intention is to share some reflections on the liturgy but not “exhaust the immense treasures of the celebration of the holy mysteries.” But again, he underlines the importance of rediscovering the richness of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the link between this constitution and all the others from the Council, and warns against returning to the pre-reformed liturgies.

It’s not possible, he adds, to “go back to that ritual form which the Council fathers, cum Petro et sub Petro, felt the need to reform.” The principles of that reform, he says, were approved “under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and following their conscience as pastors.”

The Pope says he wrote Traditionis Custodes because the reformed liturgical books of Paul VI and St. John Paul II “guaranteed the fidelity of the reform of the Council” and because he wanted the Church to “lift up, in the variety of so many languages, one and the same prayer capable of expressing her unity.

“As I have already written, I intend that this unity be re-established in the whole Church of the Roman Rite,” the Pope says.

Authentic Liturgical Formation

He explains that his hope for his letter is that it will help to “rekindle our wonder for the beauty of the truth of the Christian celebration, to remind us of the necessity of an authentic liturgical formation, and to recognize the importance of an art of celebrating that is at the service of the truth of the Paschal Mystery and of the participation of all of the baptized in it, each one according to his or her vocation.”

The liturgical year, he adds, represents a “true ongoing formation,” helping us to realize the “the possibility of growing in our knowledge of the mystery of Christ, immersing our life in the mystery of His Death and Resurrection, awaiting his return in glory.”

“Let us abandon our polemics to listen together to what the Spirit is saying to the Church,” the Pope says in closing. “Let us safeguard our communion. Let us continue to be astonished at the beauty of the Liturgy. The Paschal Mystery has been given to us. Let us allow ourselves to be embraced by the desire that the Lord continues to have to eat His Passover with us. All this under the gaze of Mary, Mother of the Church.”

Edward Pentin | June 29, 2022 | ncregister.com

STAMFORD—Seminarians in the diocese of Bridgeport recently gathered at Holy Spirit Church in Stamford for an all-day retreat, followed by Solemn Vespers and dinner with members of the Blessed Michael McGivney Society.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano celebrated Mass for the men, followed by Solemn Vespers.

During Solemn Vespers, Sebastian Sanmiguel Lopez was instituted as a reader and David Klein and Matheus De Araujo Seixas were instituted as acolytes. Each of the candidates were called forward by the bishop. The bishop then spoke briefly to the candidates about the particular ministry and how they are to carry it out in their lives.

Members of the Blessed Michael McGivney Society gathered to share dinner with the men they are supporting.

The McGivney Society was established to provide support to men who are discerning vocations. Society members will help by providing financial support and accompaniment to programs that foster and sustain seminarians in discerning and forming vocations.

The society will make it possible to expand opportunities and support for men who are discerning a priestly vocation, especially in college and post-college. Plans call for developing virtual and in-person discernment support groups, days of recollection/discernment retreats with a particular focus on college students and those in the workforce and sponsoring pilgrimages and young adult conferences on vocations.

“The goal is to cultivate a missionary attitude towards fostering vocations,” said Bishop Caggiano. “Society members are answering the call to renewal in a unique way by fostering discerning, forming and accompanying priestly vocations.”

Music for Solemn Vespers was provided by Dr. William Atwood, diocesan director of music and Allison Savage, cantor.

(For information on joining the Blessed Michael McGivney Society, email Joe Gallagher at: jgallagher@diobpt.org.)               

BRIDGEPORT—The 2022 Bishop’s Appeal, A Bridge Home has raised over $7.1 million and is at 88 percent of its $8.1 million goal to support vital new initiatives while continuing to feed the hungry, reach out to the most vulnerable, foster vocations and so much more to promote the life of faith in our diocese.

Over 12,700 parishioners have made a gift and in a recent video Bishop Frank J. Caggiano thanked all those who have given and asked those who have not yet participated in the campaign to consider making a gift.

“If you haven’t yet given, please join others who have already been so generous. It is important that we all participate. Christ urges us to come together as one family to help each other and those in need. Your gifts will give the Church the resources it needs to lead its healing mission and be a shining light of faith and service in Fairfield County,” he said.

The bishop said he is grateful that so many individuals and families have stepped up and given sacrificially to help others.

To date over 12,700, I moved this up and took this paragraph with the statistics out.

Pam Rittman, director of the Bishop’s Appeal, said that as the diocese nears its goal, it’s important to remember Bishop Caggiano’ s words about “building a bridge home for those who haven’t found their way back to the Church or who have not yet found the Lord.” She said through our friendship to our sisters and brothers in Christ and those we meet and interact with each day; we are helping to build the bridge in our Christian community.

“The bishop instructs us that the mission of the Church is to build vital and engaging communities of faith that draw others by their personal witness, compassion and charity. He has challenged us as one family in faith to build bridges to those who have questions, who may feel unwanted or left behind, and who are suffering and in need of our help,” she said.

Joe Gallagher, chief development officer of the diocese, said that making a gift by June 30 will send a strong message of support for the renewal efforts outlined by Bishop Caggiano and will help the diocese make its goal.

“The response to this year’s appeal has been very encouraging. I am grateful to all of the donors and to our leadership team. Kelly Anne and Dan Murphy, our chair couple, and Paula Summa and Jim O’Neill, our co-chair couple, who have worked tirelessly to build support for the Church’s mission of charity and evangelization,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher said a gift to the Bishop’s Appeal is an “investment in hope, renewal and evangelization” because it has an impact on so many lives in the diocese:

  • 1.3 million meals served to the working poor, homeless and food insecure served by Catholic Charities houses of hospitality.
  • 10,000 counseling sessions provided to help individuals and families cope during a time of crisis and uncertainty.
  • $2.5 million in tuition assistance for families seeking a Catholic elementary school education for their children.
  • Faith formation programs that encourage and inspire youth and young adult leadership and bring others back to the faith.
  • Funding for promising initiatives include diocesan Ambassadors, The Bridge, a mentoring program for young adults, and the Sacred Heart Guild, which will celebrate and inspire through the truth and beauty of Catholic tradition as discovered in sacred arts, music and culture.
  • Support for our seminarians and senior priests who continue to joyfully minister in our parishes.

Rittman said she expects parishioner donations to continue and is grateful for their generosity every year. They understand that supporting our diocese as well as their parish is part of their personal commitment to the Church in providing for its spiritual and material needs every year.

To make your gift online, please visit, 2022BishopsAppeal.org or text the word, APPEAL, to 475.241.7849. If you have questions, please call 203.416.1470.

Almost 50 million people of all faiths and nationalities—believers, skeptics and the curious—have visited Medjugorje since 1981, when the Blessed Mother first reportedly appeared to six children on a mission of peace with a message for the world.

“I have come to tell the world that God exists,” she said. “He is the fullness of life, and to enjoy this fullness and peace, you must return to God.”

She identified herself as the Queen of Peace, according to six visionaries, Marija, Vicka, Ivan, Mirjana, Jakov, and Ivanka, who said God allowed this period of grace so that we can return to her son, Jesus. The Blessed Mother was calling the world to conversion, prayer and fasting, they said. She also told them of world events that would unfold in the future.

“Peace, peace, peace, and only peace,” she reportedly said. “Peace must reign between man and God, and between all people!”

Those who are devoted to her tell the skeptical, “Go and you will believe.” For those who follow Our Lady’s messages but cannot travel to the mountain village in Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is MaryTV Medjugorje, a live-streaming channel available 24 hours a day. The internet channel at MaryTV.tv broadcasts in high definition to the major time zones of the world from Medjugorje.

Begun by Denis and Cathy Nolan of South Bend, Ind., MaryTV is a lay apostolate that uses modern communication technology to spread Our Lady’s presence and messages.

“Our Lady has been coming to help her children in a world that has a growing lack of interest in God, a world that’s becoming more and more godless,” said Cathy Nolan. “She has been calling us back to God, and Medjugorje is one of her final attempts. No other apparition has been this long. She is a source of hope in a world that is increasingly dark.”

Denis Nolan, president of the media outlet said she is using technology to reach people in the digital age.

“We look at MaryTV not as an end in itself, but as a way for Our Lady to invite people to Medjugorje,” said Denis, who has been working in television since the 1990s, when he began producing programs on a Pentecostal station in South Bend.

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a degree in theology and government, he taught high school theology for many years.

“I just wanted to serve God,” he said. “That was my goal in life, and that’s why I started teaching at St. Joseph High School in South Bend.”

When the Medjugorje apparitions were beginning, he saw the positive effect it had on students, who began to pray the rosary and meditate on Our Lady’s messages. Even Protestant students would spend their lunch hour in the chapel, on their knees in prayer.

Then, in October 1986, Our Lady called him. One autumn afternoon, his next-door neighbor told him, “I’m going to Medjugorje this Friday.

“My wife and all my kids pointed at me and said, ‘You go too,’” he recalled. But to make that happen, he needed $1,300 for the trip.

“I never wanted anything so bad in all my life, and I said to my students, ‘Pray with me so I can go to Medjugorje.’” Their prayers were answered. He got the money.

This was the first of almost 100 trips to Medjugorje, and it began a spiritual adventure that changed his life and led to MaryTV. While he was there, he felt the Blessed Mother’s presence and encountered countless people who had conversions, including a former IRA terrorist and a group of Ukrainian pilgrims.

“Satan had nothing that could compete with the power of Our Lady,” he said.

Cathy, who graduated from St. Mary’s College in South Bend with a degree in English literature, later got her master’s in theology from the University of Dayton.

“She has the unique gift of a scholar’s mind and a mother’s heart,” Denis says of his wife and mother of their eight children.

A year after Denis’ trip, both of them went to Medjugorje.

“I was so impressed with Our Lady’s presence,” Cathy said. “But it was a difficult trip because I had a miscarriage there, and it was still a Communist country. The people made sure I found a Catholic doctor who would take care of me in a pro-life way. I experienced the fruit of their goodness, and that helped me trust what was going on there.”

Denis became committed to spreading the word about Our Lady’s messages, and from that commitment emerged several Marian ministries that evolved into MaryTV, which began at the turn of the millennium.

Whenever they prayed, they received money for their projects. Then, he says, “The Lord told me to do TV,” which continued their outreach through digital technology. It was an ambitious undertaking, but the people they needed to implement the project showed up, including Tom Matasso, the chief television engineer, and his son Matt, who is gifted in internet technology.

Matasso, who worked with St. John Paul II, was instrumental in launching Vatican TV and had worked at NBC for 40 years.

“What motivated me more than anything was that I knew John Paul II believed the media could be used for good, and that’s what we wanted to do,” Denis said. “This was a great opportunity to spread the Gospel to the world. What I witnessed was so powerful that Satan had nothing to compete with it—young and old people, praying and loving God.”

The staff of MaryTV also includes Franjo and Rosie Zubac, a family in Medjugorje who offer live weekly updates at the TV studio, which is close to the Church of St. James the Apostle in the center of the village.

The programming schedule, which is available at MaryTV.tv,  includes daily broadcasts of the English Mass, daily rosary, an Hour of Mercy, weekly episodes of “A Moment with Mary,” “Fruit of Medjugorje,” and “Tea With Rosie,” along with other devotions and coverage of the messages from Our Lady.

“At 10 am, seven days a week, Cathy and I pray the rosary live with people on six continents,” Denis said. “We stream the daily English Mass, and live-stream every day the International Mass from St. James Church. We also have live adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; the parish praying the Rosary daily, and coverage when the parish prays on the mountains.”

Our Lady’s message is a simple one, Cathy says. She leads us to her son and the path to peace.     The Blessed Mother gives us “five stones” that can be used to defeat Satan, just as God gave David five stones to defeat Goliath, she said. These are daily prayer, especially of the rosary, fasting on Wednesday and Friday, attending Mass to receive the Eucharist, reading the Bible every day and going to confession every month.

These spiritual weapons can defeat Satan whose goal is to destroy life, love, faith and the family.

The seers say they still continue to receive private apparitions. Some of them share their messages with the public, monthly and annually.

In their years committed to this Marian apostolate, Denis and Cathy have witnessed many conversions, which are the fruits of the apparitions. Even though the Church has not definitively ruled on the apparitions, Denis and Cathy have almost 500 testimonies on the MaryTV website “of what Our Lady has done in invidious lives to bring them back to God”—people healed of addictions, families restored, people rescued from New Age temptations and brought back to faith, amazing physical and spiritual healings, and young people who have been given religious vocations.

“There are so many ways Our Lady has touched lives,” Cathy says. “These healings are all through her intercession. No one knows what people are bringing to Medjugorje, but when they get on the apparition mountain and in church, amazing things happen.”

As the Blessed Mother reportedly said: “Dear children, I am calling you for years through these messages that I am giving you…. For years, I am calling you and exhorting you to a deep spiritual life.… Read the messages I am giving you every day and transform them into life.”

Foundations in Education has released their Summer 2022 newsletter! This edition includes the FIE Spring Gala Fundraiser Review, the Annual Board of Trustees Meeting results, and
Leaders of Tomorrow Reception content.

Download the PDF here or view the embeded version below.

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FIE-summer-2022-Newsletter

TRUMBULL—When Meghan Bausch moved with her family to Connecticut last year, she hoped to settle into their new community and find companionship for her three young children. Ideally, she wanted a faith-filled Catholic community as she had while living in California and New York. Though Bausch recognized the difficulty of meeting people in a new place, especially in the midst of a pandemic, she found what she hoped for in Everyday Fiat.

“Being a stay-at-home mom can be very isolating, and it’s hard to find community. I’m so thankful that we have this,” said Bausch, a member of this ministry for women at St. Theresa Church in Trumbull.

Such ministries are not unique to Bausch’s parish as many churches throughout the diocese have women’s groups, some devoted specifically to mothers with a foundation of spirituality and fellowship. Meeting with like-minded women in a Christ-centered environment allows them to share their faith as well as the joys and struggles of motherhood.

That was the reason Renee Sacco and her friend Regina Berardino initiated the St. Thomas Mother’s Prayer Group over 20 years ago. “It’s so important to feel that you’re connected with other women like you, to know you’re not alone in your prayer life,” said Sacco of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Fairfield. “When mothers pray for their children, amazing things will happen.”

Like Bausch, both Sacco and Berardino, mothers with children in the parish school at the time, had been searching for a prayer group and started their own, specifically advocating the Rosary. Over time, it has evolved, said Sacco, as they pray for the needs of all people at St. Thomas and include the St. Michael Prayer and the Mother’s Petition to Mary as well as the Rosary. Meeting each Wednesday morning during the school year, this group is now open to all women, not just young mothers, emphasizing the importance of supporting each other at every stage of life.

“We have a list of over 40 people who were once part of the group and we’re always praying for them,” said Sacco. “If there’s a hardship or someone is ill, we know we can turn to our prayer group, and we let the Holy Spirit guide us.”

Though some mothers groups continued to meet, whether in-person or virtually, during the pandemic, others are just now relaunching like the one at St. Jude in Monroe. Jessica Iannotta, the parish’s new Family Ministry Coordinator, said there has been tremendous interest and enthusiasm in the group Meeting Other Mothers (MOM).

“This level of interest is a testament to what these mothers need in their lives – camaraderie, spirituality, a chance to be with like-minded Catholics. We’ve been inspired by St. Gianna, the patron saint of mothers who was very pro-life,” said Iannotta, a mother of two. She has distributed prayer cards of this Italian pediatrician, canonized in 2004, to all women in the group. These cards and hand-written notes of welcome are also given to new mothers in the parish with newly baptized babies, she added. “It’s a way to reach out and promote a sense of community.”

Never in recent years has that sense of community been needed more than it is now. Many of the women in Meeting Other Mothers expressed a desire to connect with others, and Father Joseph Gill, parochial administrator at St. Jude’s, said this group will help them forge the bonds of friendship. “How important it is for the Church to fill the void [left by COVID-19] by bringing people together based around our common faith in Jesus Christ,” he said. “It can help us all resist the isolation and loneliness.”

In addition to prayer, members of these local mothers groups also meet socially. Iannotta plans to start a book club and offer art class outings, while Sacco said the women at St. Thomas have enjoyed Christmas brunch at a member’s home and an end-of-year get together before the summer break. Such fellowship, she said, “allows us to become connected socially too.”

A social connection combined with prayer lead to what Bausch calls a “really nice blend” in Everyday Fiat at St. Theresa. Not only does this group consist of newer mothers with toddlers but older women as well who offer wisdom and share advice. It’s a time of fellowship, said Bausch, as they meet each Friday morning to chat about their lives and tell stories, read and discuss the Sunday Gospel, plan a meal train for a member having surgery, all of which start with the same purpose and foundation—their common Catholic faith.

“We embrace our mother Mary’s fiat as we say ‘yes’ to God’s call,” Bausch said. “In the midst of motherhood, we say a simple ‘yes’ when we’re corralling the kids, changing diapers, making meals. It’s our fiat.”

And it’s a way—through fellowship, community and prayer—for these women to live their faith and learn from one another as they balance the many roles in their lives.

By Emily Clark

This morning, after Communion and instead of the announcements, Fr. Wolfe read a letter from the pastor, Fr. Nick.  The words had the cadence and tone of Fr. Nick’s voice, the clarity and simplicity of his spirit. When the letter was  finished, the congregation was terribly quiet, in that stunned way of sharing a deep sadness, an unwelcome farewell. Fr. Nick would remain pastor, but Fr. Wolfe would become the administrator as Fr. Nick met the next phase of his battle with cancer. In the parking lot, there were exchanges about what a great job he has done in the parish, how people loved his homilies and his sense of humor. On the drive home, I realized it is all too often that we wait too long to celebrate the good in one another, to acknowledge wisdom, kindness and generosity in another.

Through odd circumstance, I have had the unexpected good fortune of having a few lengthy conversations with Fr. Nick. I would be the first to acknowledge the skepticism with which I approach the ordained, and he was more than accepting and understanding of that. We talked about the scandals that have defined the church in this era, and he imagined the generations it would take to recover from all that, for trust and confidence in institutions and hierarchy to be earned and restored. He is compassionate and caring, realistic and resolute. His vision, his faith is alive in his interactions and his leadership. This morning, sitting in that stunned silence, I realized that Fr. Nick is one of those who is already rebuilding that trust, meeting people where they are, and devoting his life to service and faith without expectation of reward or seeking heightened status. Somehow, humble and modest, he touches people, even the skeptics.

There are others, and there are other moments that show that broken trust is being slowly rebuilt by individuals whose humanity and faith reside together in comfortable harmony and inspire others. Not too long ago, in Danbury parish, a young priest was invited at the end of Mass to share an announcement. The parish had been his first assignment; he was being reassigned. He spoke of how much he loved the parish, and then visibly choked up, leaned on the podium. There was a split second of awkward silence and a single clap from the rear of the church cascaded into full fledged applause and a prolonged standing ovation. He wept. He, too, is rebuilding the trust, moment by moment, interaction by interaction.

Ours are confusing times of transition and change, full of endings and new beginnings. But all around us, there are signs of rebuilding trust.  Thank you, Fr. Nick, for the gift of the journey.

AnnMarie McLeod

BRIDGEPORT— “You are meant to be a counter-sign of the world in which you live by becoming a living sign of service,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano to the five men he ordained to the Permanent Diaconate this morning at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.

Hundreds of family members, friends, clergy and faithful filled the Cathedral to celebrate the ordination of the five men who are also husbands and fathers: Christopher Greer of Westport, George Kain of Ridgefield, James Meehan of Westport, Rock Desances of Bridgeport, and Vincent Pia of Brookfield. The deacons have professional backgrounds in business, education, the service industry, and photography.

The congregation broke into applause several times to show their happiness and appreciation for the men who became candidates for the diaconate on October 26, 2019, received the ministry of reader on October 17, 2020, and received the ministry of acolyte on December 11, 2021.

The bishop said that the men have “walked a long journey of discovery and formation” to arrive at the moment of ordination, which remains both gift and mystery.

He told them they will be serving in a long line of deacons whose origins are described in the Acts of the Apostles, when seven were entrusted with the ministry of charity and service to the poorest of the poor.

The bishop pointed out that the Church’s definition of ministerial service goes beyond the care provided by the contemporary service industry.

“That’s not what we’re celebrating today. Our Master and Savior defines service as a ministry to give my life as ransom for the many—that’s the Christian definition of service.”

“In a world where life is all about me, you are a sacrament of living life for others. There will never be a moment when you are not a deacon, and what you do will not be easy” bishop told the men who knelt before him in front of the altar.

Whether in the pulpit, at work, or doing everyday things at home in ordinary life, the deacon must pour out his life to all those who trust in him, he said.

“You can’t do it without the Holy Spirit,” he said, urging the men to be courageous, and generous of heart as they point people to Christ. “You must bring the hopes and dreams of God’s people when you come to the altar,” he said.

He said they can always turn to the Blessed Mother for help.

“How blessed we are to gather on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” the bishop said, adding that he dedicated the new deacons to the Blessed Mother, who will also protect and guide their work, “Through her heart we come to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” he said.

After the Laying on of Hands and the Prayer of Ordination the newly ordained deacons were vested with a diaconal stole and dalmatic.


 
Deacon Rock Desances was vested as a Deacon by Deacon Donald Foust; Deacon Christopher Greer was vested by Rev. Thomas Anderson, S.J.; Deacon George Kain was vested by Msgr. Kevin Royal Pastor, St. Mary Parish, Ridgefield; Deacon James Meehan was vested by Fr. Terrence Walsh, Pastor, Sacred Heart-St. Patrick Parish, Redding; and Deacon Vincent Pia was vested by Rev. Shawn W. Jordan; Pastor, St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, Brookfield.

Wearing diaconal vestments, each newly ordained Deacon kneels before the bishop who hands him The Book of the Gospels.

“Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach,” the bishop repeated five times as he presented the book to each deacon.

During the Mass, the gifts of bread and wine were brought forward by the deacons’ family members: Mireille Desances, Kristine Greer, Marilyn Kain, Athina Meehan, and Holly Pia.

Deacons of the Mass were Deacon Gerald Lambert, Director of the Diaconate; Deacon John DiTaranto, Coordinator of Diaconate Continuing Formation; and Deacon Brad Smythe, Diaconate Formation Instructor.

Before giving the final blessing Bishop Caggiano said “What a joyful glorious day God has given us,” and he asked the five deacon’s wives to stand up and receive a round of applause. He praised them for being loving partners who encouraged and supported the men in their vocations.

The bishop thanked Deacon John Di Taranto who will lead the continuing formation program for the new deacons, and Deacon Jerry Lambert for “serving as a brother and a mentor” to the newly ordained.

He also announced the assignments for the new deacons : Deacon Vincent Pia will serve at St. Margaret Bourgeoys Parish in Brookfield; Deacon Rock Desances has dual assignments at St. Joseph and St. Ladislaus Parish in Norwalk and the quasi parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Stamford; Deacon James Meehan will serve at Assumption parish in Westport; Deacon George Cain will serve at St Mary Parish in Ridgefield, and Deacon Chris Greer will minister at St Luke Parish in Westport.

The role of the Deacon as defined by the Second Vatican Council is to administer Baptism, safeguard and dispense the Eucharist, assist at and bless marriages in the name of the Church, bring Viaticum to the dying, read the Sacred Scripture, preach, preside at the worship and prayer of the faithful, administer sacramentals, and to preside at funeral and burial rites.

Photos by Amy Mortensen

About the Deacons

Christopher Greer of Westport received his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has worked as a development consultant as well as a professional sports photographer. He is a member of St. Luke’s in Westport along with his wife Kristine and their two children, Kassidy and Kevin. He participates in the adult choir as a cantor/soloist, is a member of the men’s group and an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.

George Kain of Ridgefield holds a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from the City University of New York. He has worked as a university professor and chairman in the Division of Justice and Law Administration at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury for 25 years and served as police commissioner for the Town of Ridgefield for 20 years. He is a member of St. Mary’s in Ridgefield along with his wife Marilyn. He has served as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion (as well as a homebound minister to the sick), a cantor, usher, altar server and RCIA instructor. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus, an adoration chapel volunteer, a member of the Disciples for Life Parish Retreat Team and men’s ministry. He is father of daughter Grace and grandfather of Mercy.

James Meehan of Westport holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from City University of New York. He has been the owner/operator of several businesses for historical window restoration, home heating oil delivery and heating/air conditioning. He and his wife Athina attend Church of the Assumption in Westport along with their children Christopher, Andrew and Christina. At Assumption, Meehan serves as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and reader, coordinating both ministries. He also serves in the elderly/homebound ministry, acts as financial secretary for the Knights of Columbus and is a volunteer coordinator at the Thomas Merton Center.

Rock Desances and his wife Mireille attend St. Margaret Shrine parish in Bridgeport along with their five children. Desances serves as an usher, reader, altar server and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus and has worked as a dietetic assistant, food manager and health care assistant.

Vincent Pia has worked as a writer, photographer, professional picture framer and art conservator. He is a member of St. Marguerite Bourgeouys in Brookfield, with his wife Holly and children Caitlynn and Brandon. He is active in the parish, serving as a reader, an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, altar server, parish Rosary leader, adult faith formation facilitator, a member of the Knights of Columbus (having previously served as both officer and director) and a former member of the choir.

CHICAGO—In its 37th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, Gatorade today announced Mary Lundregan of St. Joseph High School is the 2021-22 Gatorade Connecticut Girls Soccer Player of the Year. Lundregan is the fifth Gatorade Connecticut Girls Soccer Player of the Year to be chosen from St. Joseph High School. 

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Lundregan as Connecticut’s best high school girls soccer player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year award to be announced in June, Lundregan joins an elite alumni association of state award-winners in 12 sports, including Alexi Lalas (1987-88, Cranbrook High School, Mich.), Steve Cherundolo (1996-97, Mt. Carmel High School, Calif.), Abby Wambach (1997-98, Our Lady of Mercy School of Young Women, N.Y.), Heather O’Reilly (2001-02 & 2002-03, East Brunswick High School, N.J.), Matt Besler (2004-05, Blue Valley West High School, Kans.), Jack Harrison (2013-14, Berkshire High School, Mass.) and Mallory Pugh (2014-15, Mountain Vista High School, Colo.). 

The 5-foot-4 senior midfielder led the Cadets to a 21-1-1 record and the Class L state championship this past season. Lundregan scored 14 goals and passed for 15 assists, including one helper in St. Joseph’s 2-0 win over Simsbury High in the state title game. A two-time United Soccer Coaches High School All-American selection, Lundregan is a three-year First Team All-State honoree. She concluded her prep soccer career with 43 goals and 52 assists. 

Lundregan is the president of the Writing Center in St. Joseph’s Student Academic Center. She has volunteered locally on multiple community service initiatives through her school. “Mary had an amazing season,” said Ryan Perkins, head coach of Westhill High. “She scored goals, she controlled play and was the focal point of their team which probably allowed some of the other St. Joe’s players to stand out more since she was constantly double-marked.” 

Lundregan has maintained an A average in the classroom. She has made a verbal commitment to attend Dartmouth College, where she will play soccer, beginning this fall. 

The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which leverages experts including coaches, scouts, media and others as sources to help evaluate and determine the state winners in each sport. 

Lundregan joins recent Gatorade Connecticut Girls Soccer Players of the Year Maddie Fried (2020-21, St. Joseph High School), Chloe Landers (2019-20, Glastonbury High School), Meadow Mancini (2018-19, Watertown High School), and Lauren Hinton (2017-18, Loomis Chaffee School), among the state’s list of former award winners. 

Gatorade has a long-standing history of serving athlete communities and understands how sports instill valuable lifelong skills on and off the field. Through Gatorade’s “Play it Forward” platform, Lundregan has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national organization of their choosing that helps young athletes realize the benefits of playing sports. Lundregan is also eligible to submit a short video explaining why the organization they chose is deserving of one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants, which will be announced throughout the year. To date, Gatorade Player of the Year winners’ grants have totaled more than $3.5 million across more than 1,300 organizations. 

Since the program’s inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have also turned into pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators. 

To learn more about the Gatorade Player of the Year program, check out past winners or to nominate student-athletes, visit playeroftheyear.gatorade.com or follow us on social media on Facebook at facebook.com/GatoradePOY, Instagram at instagram.com/Gatorade and Twitter at twitter.com/Gatorade. 

Today, with the U.S. Supreme Court reversing the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision on the right to abortion, we enter a new era of opportunity and responsibility to safeguard life and protect the most innocent among us. We welcome this historic reversal, which affirms the right to life of an unborn child and we pledge to do all that is possible to support pregnant women who face serious challenges.

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Elderly Christians are called to bear witness to the strength that comes from God, especially when moments of frailty and weakness make them dependent on others, Pope Francis said.

“Our dependency grows with sickness, with old age, and we are no longer self-sufficient as before. Our dependence on others grows and even our faith matures; even there, Jesus is with us, even there that richness of a faith well-lived along the path of life flows out,” the pope said June 22 during his weekly general audience.

Arriving at St. Peter’s Square in his popemobile, the pope stopped briefly and welcomed aboard several Ukrainian children. According to the Vatican press office, the children were refugees who fled the war and are studying at an elementary school in Rome.

Before concluding the audience, the pope urged the faithful to “not forget about Ukraine.”

“Let us not forget the suffering of that martyred people,” he said.

He also mourned the killing of two Jesuits and a layman in northern Mexico June 20. According to the Jesuits, gunmen stormed the parish church in parish in the community of Cerocahui in the Copper Canyon of Chihuahua state while in pursuit of the layman, who worked as a tour guide.

The priests came outside after the gunmen killed the man, and were subsequently shot.

“How many killings in Mexico!” the pope lamented. “I am close with affection and prayer to the Catholic community affected by this tragedy. Once again, I repeat that violence does not solve problems, but increases needless suffering.”

In his main talk, the pope continued his series of catecheses on old age and reflected on St. John’s account of Jesus’ warning to Peter that “when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”

Jesus’ words to Peter, he explained, reveal an open, frank and direct relationship that is “truthful.” Often, Christians can be tempted to cover the Gospel message in a “cocoon of ‘sugar-coated’ revelation” that “distances us from the real Jesus, and even becomes the occasion for a very abstract, very self-referential, very worldly path of faith.”

“Jesus is the Word of God made man, and he acts like a man, he speaks to us like a man, a God-man,” the pope said, departing from his prepared remarks. Jesus speaks “with this tenderness, with this friendship, with this closeness. Jesus is not like that sugar-coated image of the little pictures, no. Jesus is there, he is close to us.”

The pope said Jesus’ conversation with Peter is a valuable lesson for all believers, especially the elderly, who can still bear witness to the Gospel, even with their lives are “entrusted to others.”

However, in old age, some elderly men and women may find it difficult to accept frailty or the inevitability of death and hesitate to relinquish their role as “a protagonist” to younger generations.

“We elderly should not be envious of young people who make their own way, who take our place, who outlast us,” the 85-year-old pope said. “Learning to take our leave: this is the wisdom of the elderly. But to leave well, with a smile.”

Pope Francis said that the life of an elderly person is “a slow, yet joyful farewell” that allows them in their last moments to reflect on the beauty of the life they lived.

“It is beautiful when an elderly person can say, ‘I have lived life, this is my family; I have lived life, I have been a sinner but also I have done good.’ And this peace that comes, this is the elderly person’s farewell,” the pope said.

By  Junno Arocho Esteves | Catholic News Service

BRIDGEPORT—Five men will be ordained as deacons by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano on Saturday, June 25, 11 am at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.

The five men are Christopher Greer of Westport, George Kain of Ridgefield, James Meehan of Westport, Rock Desances of Bridgeport, and Vincent Pia of Brookfield.

The men became candidates for the diaconate on October 26, 2019, received the ministry of reader on October 17, 2020, and received the ministry of acolyte on December 11, 2021.

Christopher Greer of Westport received his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has worked as a development consultant as well as a professional sports photographer. He is a member of St. Luke’s in Westport along with his wife Kristine and their two children, Kassidy and Kevin. He participates in the adult choir as a cantor/soloist, is a member of the men’s group and an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.

George Kain of Ridgefield holds a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from the City University of New York. He has worked as a university professor and chairman in the Division of Justice and Law Administration at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury for 25 years and served as police commissioner for the Town of Ridgefield for 20 years. He is a member of St. Mary’s in Ridgefield along with his wife Marilyn. He has served as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion (as well as a homebound minister to the sick), a cantor, usher, altar server and RCIA instructor. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus, an adoration chapel volunteer, a member of the Disciples for Life Parish Retreat Team and men’s ministry. He is father of daughter Grace and grandfather of Mercy.

James Meehan of Westport holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from City University of New York. He has been the owner/operator of several businesses for historical window restoration, home heating oil delivery and heating/air conditioning. He and his wife Athina attend Church of the Assumption in Westport along with their children Christopher, Andrew and Christina. At Assumption, Meehan serves as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and reader, coordinating both ministries. He also serves in the elderly/homebound ministry, acts as financial secretary for the Knights of Columbus and is a volunteer coordinator at the Thomas Merton Center.

Rock Desances and his wife Mireille attend St. Margaret Shrine parish in Bridgeport along with their five children. Desances serves as an usher, reader, altar server and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus and has worked as a dietetic assistant, food manager and health care assistant.

Vincent Pia has worked as a writer, photographer, professional picture framer and art conservator. He is a member of St. Marguerite Bourgeouys in Brookfield, with his wife Holly and children Caitlynn and Brandon. He is active in the parish, serving as a reader, an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, altar server, parish Rosary leader, adult faith formation facilitator, a member of the Knights of Columbus (having previously served as both officer and director) and a former member of the choir.

GEORGETOWN—Nearly 70 people came out for a Brunch with Babs, a unique celebration of food, faith, family and tradition. Barbara Costello, known as “Babs” to her 2 million TikTok viewers, is the internet’s favorite home cook and grandmother. She spreads joy and shares wisdom, one quick recipe at a time. 

The event, held at the Georgetown Oratory in Redding, Conn., was a fundraiser for the newly formed Guild of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. With the support of Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, evangelization through the artistic beauty in the Catholic tradition is at the heart of the Guild’s mission. The Guild seeks to inspire the faithful of all ages through sacred liturgy and Christ-centered programs. Brunch with Babs was a perfect kick-off, drawing in the young and old alike through the art of celebration.

“If anyone asked me two years ago to come and have brunch with Babs, I would’ve said, ‘Who’s she? I don’t know Babs!’ A humble opening line from the guest of honor, Barbara Costello, who, at 73 years young, made it clear from the start that her quick rise to internet fame is all God’s doing. Reminding everyone of the key to a successful life, “God first, family second.”

Everyone nodded in agreement at her claim that food evokes memories and nothing brings people together like sharing a good meal. With strong faith, love of family history, and the desire to form deep and meaningful connections, Costello had guests laughing and crying as they reflected on their recipes and traditions handed down to them by loved ones.  

Through touching stories of the hope her videos have offered to those living in the grip of despair and isolation, Costello addressed the power of social media, encouraging the crowd to use it for good. With something as simple and necessary as food, Costello has become a beacon of light through her obedience to God’s call and sharing with the world what matters most: the family. 

Over baked mac and cheese, strawberry salad and ice cream blueberry muffins, guests of the Oratory were reminded of the memories tied to our tried and true recipes and the importance of family and tradition. With over 700 published videos to date and a New York Times best-selling cookbook under her belt (or should we say apron?) Costello’s message at the Georgetown Oratory was loud and clear; “We are supposed to enjoy life!”

Enjoying life is precisely what the guests at the Oratory did. From the pink and white gingham tablecloths decorated with fresh flower centerpieces to the sparkling drinks in champagne glasses, beauty was everywhere, breaking down barriers and drawing the community together. Oratory Rector, Father Michael Clark, took to the mic, thanking Barbara for sharing her gifts, exclaiming, “If you like Babs, then you should come to The Guild! This is what it’s all about. Getting together and having fun!” 

Having fun is no small task, considering the past couple of years. This is why events like Brunch with Babs are crucial to our emotional, social and spiritual well-being, and why the Guild is quickly becoming a place of revival to the life of the community, church and world. People thrive in relationships and beauty truly does save the world. God, who is the supreme Beauty, woos us by way of beauty. Through Christ-centered events that celebrate the arts, the Guild is already opening hearts and minds, drawing people of all generations closer to God. A beautiful sight to behold, indeed.

Guests were able to purchase Costello’s cookbook Celebrate with Babs, with all proceeds benefiting the Georgetown Oratory. With its colorful pages and loving dedication to the Blessed Mother, some even took home multiple copies to pass on to daughters, sisters, and friends. The joy in the room was audible as Babs signed books, taking the time to visit personally, making everyone feel seen, heard and loved (an experience you can count on after every Sunday noon Mass at the Oratory, thanks to an incredible hospitality team). Guests left restored and inspired, eager to return to their own families and kitchens. One woman shared her thoughts: “Never say never! God can truly work through all of us, no matter our age, no matter our season!” And this is the beautiful truth. Everyone has a gift and vocation worthy of celebrating. As far as Costello is concerned, “My vocation is to do my little thing; to spread the good part, the family part, the wonderful food part, the fun!” 

We are all called to do our little thing, to celebrate the beauty of our God-given gifts, all for the praise and worship of Almighty God. This is what the Guild is all about, and Brunch with Babs was just the beginning of many Oratory celebrations.

(For more information on Mass times, future events, and how you can get involved, contact information@sacredheartguild.org and follow The Guild on Instagram at @sacredheartguild.)

By Laura Phelps

DANBURY—Redemptoris Mater Diocesan Missionary Seminary honored Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States on Sunday, who praised them for forming men who will go out as missionary disciples in the name of Christ to a world in need of evangelization.

More than 400 people attended the 5th Annual Gala Dinner, which recognized Archbishop Pierre, along with James Larkin, retired vice chairman of American Express International.

“The Church needs missionary disciples,” Archbishop Pierre said. “Missionary activity is one of the greatest challenges facing us today. Those of you who support the Neocatechumenal Way are doing a vital mission for the future of the Church.”

The Redemptoris Mater Seminary is under the direction of rector Father Marco Pacciana, along with Father Giandomenico Flora, spiritual director. Redemptoris Mater (Mother of the Redeemer) seminaries are under the auspices of the Neocatechumenal Way, a 55-year-old charism in the Church dedicated to Christian formation and the New Evangelization. The seminaries form men as missionary diocesan priests to serve the local church or in any part of the world the bishop chooses.

The seminary in Stamford was established in 2015 on the Feast of Immaculate Conception through the efforts of Bishop Frank J. Caggiano. Several years ago, Archbishop Leonard P. Blair of the Archdiocese of Hartford asked for a section of the seminary to prepare men for vocations in the archdiocese, Father Pacciana said.

Bishop Caggiano, in his opening prayer at the gala, which was held at The Amber Room Colonnade in Danbury, praised the seminarians, and said that one day “We hope to see them ordained to be your sacred priests.”

Father Pacciana expressed his gratitude and said, “I am very happy and grateful for all of you coming tonight for your support.” He said the seminary has had many milestones over the past year, including the ordination of one of the original seminarians, Ricardo Batista Comim, to the transitional diaconate.

In his comments, Archbishop Pierre praised the seminary for its work forming men to be priests who are missionary disciples, who “shine like diamonds among the people of God.”

He said true missionary priests must have the ability to see where mercy is needed and bring a “healthy zeal” to their vocation so they can share the healing power of God’s mercy with others.

He said Redemptoris Mater produces men who give themselves to the Lord and their flock by bringing the joy of the Gospel to the world…and they must be willing to go out into the world.

“It is easier to stay home surrounded by those who love us, but this is not Jesus’ way—he does not use half measures,” the archbishop said. “He gives his disciples one word: Go.” It is “a powerful word that resonates in every cranny of missionary life.”

The men, he said, “must be in a permanent state of mission” and understand the territory of their mission—and their territory is the Diocese of Bridgeport and the Archdiocese of Hartford. He said, “This territory has a rich Catholic history and tradition, and it is still a missionary territory for those who have fallen away and who are on the margins of society.”

In order to announce Christ, the men must be “free of worldly attachments, and at Redemptoris Mater, seminarians learn to renounce the things of the world and develop an understanding of the beauty of freedom that only following Christ can give.”

Father Pacciana gave him a silver plaque and thanked him for his message and support. He also thanked James Larkin, who could not attend the gala, for his commitment to the seminary and the Church.

“The Nuncio is very supportive of the work of the Neocatecumenal Way and the Redemptoris Mater Seminaries in the USA,” Father Pacciana said later. “This dinner conveyed an atmosphere of joy and communion. People came from the tristate area and also from Pennsylvania and Massachusetts to support the seminarians, but we were all together as one family, the family of the children of God, to celebrate and to support these men.” He said that most of the people at the gala rediscovered their baptism through the itinerary of Christian initiation that is the Neocatecumenal Way.

“Many of these were brothers and sisters from the communities where these seminarians too are rediscovering their baptism, and it is from this itinerary that their vocations come, and through this itinerary they are nourished and strengthened,” he said.

Father thanked Archbishop Pierre for attending and “showing with his presence the love and support of the Holy Father for the work of the Neocatecumenal Way and the Redemptoris Mater Seminaries.”

He said the archbishop presided over a vocational meeting in Gettysburg last July attended by more than 10,000 brothers and sisters from the Neocatecumenal Way, and “he saw firsthand the work of the Lord in their life, when young men, young women and entire families answered the call to become priests, nuns or to leave as a family for the mission to evangelize everywhere in the world.”

Father Pacciana also thanked Bishop Caggiano.

“He has honored us with his presence and is the man without whom none of this would have been possible in our diocese,” Father said. “Because of his great prophetic vision, we saw the opening of this seminary, which is an answer to the crisis of vocations and the larger crisis of faith our Church is going through.”

He thanked Archbishop Blair, “who had the same vision when a few years ago decided to open a section of our seminary for the formation of vocations for the Archdiocese of Hartford.” He thanked Bishop Juan M. Betancourt of the Archdiocese for his support and “the great work he is doing in fostering vocations in the Archdiocese of Hartford,” and Bishop James Massa, “who has always accompanied and supported us, both as auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn and as rector of St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, where these men study theology.”

He praised everyone involved in making this year’s gala a success and say next year’s dinner will be held on June 4.

In his final comments, Bishop Caggiano thanked Archbishop Pierre for his great witness to the United States, and he praised the seminarians: “These men, each in their own unique way, are very much committed. They are surrendering themselves to the hands of the Lord and will one day be our shepherds and missionary disciples. The Church will be in very good hands with these young men. I know them and I live with them.”

In offering the final blessing, Archbishop Blair said, “Lord, we are privileged to be together and celebrate as one on this feast of Corpus Christi, the great Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ.” He said the Blessed Virgin, who is the Mother of the Eucharist, is the patron of the Redemptoris Mater Seminaries (Mother of the Redeemer) and that the seminarians have all the help they need through the prayers of the Mother of God.

Archbishop Christophe Pierre was ordained on April 5, 1970, in Saint-Malo, France and incardinated in the Archdiocese of Rennes. He was parochial vicar of St. Peter and St. Paul Parish in Colombes, Diocese of Nanterre, France.

He has a master’s degree in Sacred Theology and a doctorate in Canon Law from the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome. He completed his studies at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome and started his service in the Diplomatic Corps of the Holy See on March 5, 1977. He was appointed first to the Pontifical Representation in New Zealand and the Islands of the Pacific Ocean. Subsequently, he served in Mozambique, in Zimbabwe, in Cuba, in Brazil, and at the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

He was elected Titular Archbishop of Gunela on July 12, 1995 and received the Episcopal Consecration on September 24, 1995, in Saint-Malo, France.

Archbishop Pierre was appointed apostolic nuncio to Haiti in 1995, where he served until 1999. He has been the Apostolic Nuncio to Uganda and then to Mexico. He was appointed apostolic nuncio of the United States by Pope Francis on April 12, 2016.

Honoree James Larkin is a 50-year parishioner of St. Mary Church in Greenwich,  a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and Wharton Graduate School.  He and his wife Dr. Susan Larkin, who is an art historian, have two children and seven grandchildren.

A Korean War veteran, he served two tours of duty as a Marine Corps infantry officer in Korea, Japan and the U.S. and was discharged as a captain.

He spent 40 years in the international communications and financial services fields. His 12 years with American Broadcasting Company were comprised of cooperative liaison with the government’s counter-Castro undertakings in Central and South America. He retired as vice chairman of American Express International after previously serving as president, Europe, Middle East and Africa for the company.

Since 1992, he has been a supporter, contributor and collaborator in the international Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. In 1994, he was an Ecumenical Patriarchate delegate to the peace conference on Bosnia-Herzegovina in Istanbul.  In 2000, he was the first American Catholic to be awarded the Cross of St. Andrew by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul and is Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.  He also received a citation from the General Assembly of the State of Connecticut for building unity between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches.

BRIDGEPORT—Italian flags flew alongside American flags at the entrance to St. Margaret Shrine in Bridgeport’s North End last weekend as the parish welcomed thousands to their annual Feast of St. Anthony. While this three-day event, now in its 44th year, serves as a fundraiser and community celebration, festival coordinators also see it as an opportunity “to encourage people to come back to the Lord.”

The highlight of the weekend occurred Sunday morning as Bishop Frank Caggiano celebrated a special outdoor Mass in honor of St. Anthony, a day that coincided with both the feast of Corpus Christi and Father’s Day. Despite the gusty winds, brilliant sunshine shone down on parishioners and guests who filled hundreds of folding chairs and gathered on the grounds of the Shrine. Bishop Caggiano opened his homily with a blessing on all fathers, remembering stories of his own father who, he said, always had to have bread on the table. “I wondered why,” the Bishop added, “when there was always pasta too.” Speaking in Italian, he recalled his father’s answer, translated to “where there is bread, there is life.”

“We must be mindful of our sisters and brothers throughout the world who do not have bread,” he reminded those in attendance. “You and I are here to be nourished and to hear the Word that is the bread of life, to thank the Father, who is father of us all.”

To commemorate the work of St. Anthony, whose preaching converted thousands in Northern Italy and who consistently shared bread with those he met, the Bishop blessed dozens of small loaves which were distributed after Mass. “You and I will take one home, break it and share it with everyone with whom you will eat. Give thanks to Him for this antipasto of Heaven,” he said.

Following Mass, a procession in honor of St. Anthony made its way from the Shrine onto the neighborhood streets and back, at which time the festival of food, carnival rides, and music began. Lines formed outside the tents with volunteers selling porchetta grinders, sausage and peppers, and pizza fritta. Micalizzi’s Italian Ice and Angela Mia Bakery offered more cultural favorites.

Longtime volunteer John Cervone called the festival a labor of love. “It’s a lot of work, but we love doing this. Whatever is needed, we do it together,” he said, a testament to the sense of community at St. Margaret.

“There is so much excitement in the air, so much love and devotion,” said Lucia Palmieri, St. Margaret’s cantor, music director, and grief minister who also coordinates the outdoor Masses. “This is our story, and this is our outreach.”

Photos by Patrick Clark

Palmieri said the festival and outdoor Mass attract thousands of people from both the Bridgeport area and from out of state, many of whom do not attend church regularly. “We minister to them. We must be present for them at this Mass,” she said. “Maybe they will be called to attend again as they see us before Jesus. This is our gift to them.”

That gift includes priests who are present on the grounds throughout the weekend, music by the Italian choir, and even the opportunity for confessions during the carnival. “We’re encouraging people to come back to the Lord,” she added. “This is our job – to talk with them and expose them to our Italian and Catholic culture.”

Built by men and women whose sons were serving in World War II, St. Margaret Shrine was dedicated in September of 1942 and is now the site of the last Italian festival in Bridgeport, according to Maurizio Viselli, the chair of the St. Anthony Mass. “This is an exciting opportunity for people to experience the Shrine,” said Viselli, who grew up in the parish, “and St. Anthony naturally draws a crowd as he is a national saint.”

Whether they were drawn in by the outdoor Mass, the authentic Italian food, or the carnival rides and music, Palmieri hopes that this festival brings people back. “We are 10,000 strong!” she said. “And we want to welcome you home.”

By Emily Clark