Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

Immaculate Students Win Scholastic Art and Writing Awards

DANBURY—Six Immaculate High School students had their work recognized and awarded at the annual Connecticut Regional Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards is the nation’s longest-running, most prestigious recognition program for creative teens. Teens in grades 7-12 can apply in 28 categories of art and writing, and submissions are judged regionally and nationally by panels of creative industry experts.

Regional Art Awards were presented to Brooke Squitieri ‘21 who received an honorable mention in the drawing and illustration category for her piece “Discriminating Digits”; Anna Kopec ‘23 who received a Silver Key in the drawing and illustration category for her piece “Tiger King”; and Olivia Esposito ‘23 who received an Honorable Mention in the design category for her piece “Trivia Tile Game”. Student artwork is juried by professional artists and university art faculty and is selected on merit for inclusion in a state-wide art exhibition that is traditionally held at the Hartford Art School. Beyond the honor of being selected for this high quality exhibit, students may be awarded Gold or Silver keys and Honorable Mention Awards in each of 18 media categories. Students whose art pieces were recognized in the 2021 Regional Art Awards will be honored at a virtual celebration with winners from other schools on February 26. A virtual gallery of all the entries can be viewed here.

In the Regional Writing Awards, Spencer Squitieri ‘21 with his essay “Finding the Words for Why,” Zachary Meyerson ‘21 with his essay “More In Common” and Caitlin Doherty ‘21 with her essay “Unspoken” all received Silver Keys in the personal essay & memoir category. Annually, over 1,500 students from across Connecticut submit entries vividly demonstrating their passion for the craft of writing. From this large pool of poetry, essays, stories, and drama, submissions in Poetry and Prose are awarded to be published or honored at each grade level. Students who were awarded for their pieces will be celebrated at a virtual celebration on March 7. View the full list of award recipients.


Immaculate High School is a private, non-profit Catholic college-preparatory institution serving students from 28 communities in Connecticut and New York. Founded in 1962, Immaculate High School also allows students to focus on their spiritual development, personal moral commitments and service to others. Located in Danbury, CT, Immaculate High School is part of the Diocese of Bridgeport’s parochial school system. Immaculate is currently accepting freshman and transfer student applications. For more information on rolling admissions please visit immaculatehs.org/admissions.

St. Mark School celebrates Black History Month

STRATFORD—From classroom activities and research projects to creative videos and civil rights music, students at St. Mark School in Stratford are celebrating Black History Month and paying tribute to influential Black Americans throughout history.

The school has been recognizing Black American achievements and milestones that have shaped our nation by incorporating a variety of lessons in Science, English Language Arts, Music and Social Studies classes and through the school’s Social Emotional Learning program.

Second-graders are researching several distinguished historical figures such as Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, Ruby Bridges and Frederick Douglass, and sharing their findings with classmates.

Second grade teacher Stacey Zenowich comments, “Black History Month aims to inspire lifelong learning about the history, voices and experiences of Black Americans. The lessons are a powerful education of our past, an opportunity to appreciate the contributions of the present, and a chance to build an even more hopeful future.”

Middle School lessons included learning about poets such as Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou and Amanda Gorman and watching films that portray obstacles of social injustices of racism and genderism.

English Language Arts teacher Danielle Veith shares, “I believe it is my responsibility to highlight stories and voices that have been previously overlooked or silenced and to uplift those who have been most marginalized by our society. I emphasize to my students that as a white woman, I will never truly have a full understanding of the experiences of people of color.”

According to Veith, she and her students will listen, learn and discuss these stories together, and challenge one another to both envision and carry out a better future than the histories we leave behind us.

Middle school science lessons included viewing the movie Hidden Figures, a story of three Black women scientists working at NASA in the early 1960’s who were instrumental in launching manned space flight.

Science teacher Lorie Boveroux remarks, “The film illustrates their triumph and shows how they used their God-given talents to better humanity and break down gender and racial barriers.”

Middle School students also learned about how music was influential in promoting the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s.

Eighth-grader Olivia Szczerba shares, “Music has always been able to deliver powerful messages and show deep emotions, so the perfect time to sing would definitely be during a civil rights movement. Singing a song while protesting would be a way to come together with others, let go of anger and fear, as well as make a stand.”

“At St. Mark School, we want our students to see the value in diversity and the benefits of inclusion,” adds Principal Melissa Warner. “We aim to foster a genuine sense of empathy and compassion.”

According to Warner, the school-wide Social Emotional Learning program provides an additional avenue to highlight the school’s ongoing commitment to fostering dignity and respect for all people, in celebration of Black History Month.

Warner concludes, “In the words of Nelson Mandela, education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.”

Texting prayers to help unite faithful during Lent

BRIDGEPORT— Bishop Frank J. Caggiano is putting the power of social media to work during the Lenten season by asking area Catholics to pray together each day at 4 pm.

Those who participate will receive a daily text message, offering a specific intention and asking that they pray one Hail Mary, in communion with everyone else who is receiving the same text.

The daily text is part of the Bishop’s “Upper Room” initiative, a call to renewal of the diocese that began with the issuing of his pastoral exhortation, “Let Us Enter the Upper Room with the Lord,” on Ash Wednesday, February 17.

The plan for renewal begins with a preparatory period of prayer and will move into a more active, public phase in the Fall. One of the major focuses of the initiative is to welcome people back as the pandemic subsides and also invites other who no longer practice the faith to come back to Church.

In a letter to priests, the bishop said a text message will be sent to all participants, inviting them to stop whatever they are doing and pray for a specific intention, followed by the recitation of one Hail Mary.

“This simple gesture unites thousands of people in prayer, while reminding us of the place that prayer should play in our ordinary lives.,” said Bishop Caggiano, who will issue spiritual challenges on a regular basis through the “Notes from the Upper Room” web page.

On Divine Mercy Sunday 2017, the Diocese first announced The Face of Prayer, an online prayer experience that brings together social media, text alerts, and the power of prayer. To date, over eight million prayer texts that have been shared by subscribers.

To join the “Face of Prayer” movement, simply text the word pray from your smartphone to 55778. You will automatically receive a response to confirm your subscription. Standard texting rates apply

Immaculate’s Brave Engineers Qualify for National/International Tournament

DANBURY—Immaculate High School’s Brave Engineers team participated in the Real World Design Challenge (RWDC), receiving second place in the State Finals. This incredible performance qualified the Brave Engineers for the RWDC National/International competition in April. The team will also have the opportunity to compete for merit awards at the National/International Competition.

The Brave Engineers, coached by Jeanine Antonios, includes members Mario Perez ‘22, Carolyn Jandura ‘22, Nikolas Badinelli ‘22, Meryl McKenna ‘21, Shaun McKenna ‘23 and Zifeng Zhan ’22.

The Real World Design Challenge is an annual competition that provides high school students, grades 9-12, the opportunity to work on real world engineering challenges in a team environment. Each year, student teams are asked to address a challenge that confronts our nation’s leading industries. Students utilize professional engineering software to develop their solutions and also generate presentations that convincingly demonstrate the value of their solutions. The RWDC provides students with opportunities to apply the lessons of the classroom to the technical problems that are being faced in the workplace.

Immaculate High School is a private, non-profit Catholic college-preparatory institution serving students from 28 communities in Connecticut and New York. Founded in 1962, Immaculate High School also allows students to focus on their spiritual development, personal moral commitments and service to others. Located in Danbury, CT, Immaculate High School is part of the Diocese of Bridgeport’s parochial school system. Immaculate is currently accepting freshman and transfer student applications. For more information on rolling admissions please visit immaculatehs.org/admissions.

Lent during a pandemic brings new practices

CONNECTICUT—The season of Lent, often seen as a time of sacrifice, of giving up something, may just feel like too much to ask after a year of isolation, mask-wearing, and losses of friends or family members.

The season between Ash Wednesday and Easter represents Jesus’ 40 days fasting in the desert before beginning his public ministry. But the tradition of self-denial and giving to others as a way of imitating Christ may just feel like too much right now, faith leaders say. Instead, those leaders say, Christians may need new ways to look at these 40 days and find new practices to deepen faith and give personal meaning to the season.

“I do think that Lent is a really great time for us to recognize that there really is … fatigue from sacrifice. We’ve given up hugs and we’ve given up visits to Grandma,” said Patrick Donovan, executive director of the Leadership Institute in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport.

“I think last year we were in such shock and we were in duck-and-cover mode. We experienced Lent and we didn’t realize it,” he said. In 2020, Ash Wednesday fell on Feb. 26, about two weeks before the country went into lockdown because of COVID-19.

After being afraid to go to the grocery store, learning to wear masks, living professional and social lives on Zoom, not being able to go to a movie or ballgame, “we’re just exhausted,” Donovan said.

“We are an impatient country … and we don’t like to sacrifice. We are a nation of excess, a people of excess,” he said. Lent is a time to pay attention to how faith is practiced, he said. The message can get lost if by giving up eating meat on Fridays but having shrimp instead.

Instead, Lent is about “eating simply and giving what you might have spent on dinner into the rice bowl for Catholic Relief Services, which is on the table,” he said.

Donovan said giving up something for Lent has actually brought his family spiritual gifts. Katie, 12, for instance, gave up watching YouTube, “which is huge for her,” he said. Their conversation was about “when you’re not doing YouTube, what are you going to be doing?” he said. “For Katie, it’s about filling it with something else, so she’s reading a book, she’s playing with the dog, she’s painting. … She’s not as distracted as she was.”

His 13-year-old son, Liam, shoveled a neighbor’s sidewalk, unasked, when it recently snowed. “He knew it was the right thing to do,” Donovan said. “I have to believe that the conversations we’re having at home about Lenten sacrifice motivated him to do that. It’s really a good time to really practice what we hope to be the rest of the year.”

Donovan’s Lenten practice has been aided by a new puppy, “getting up in the morning and spending 30, 40, 50 minutes outside in the cold in silence. … My Lenten practice right now is to keep that up but begin to fill it with prayer.”

“I think part of the challenge is this Lent is a call for innovation. We’ve got to get creative with our sacrifice,” using our time to do something like checking on a neighbor, he said.

The Rev. Mary Barnett, priest-in-charge of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity in Middletown, said the pandemic has been so hard on people that “sometimes we have a harder time feeling pleasure and finding some bit of that, and that too can be part of our relationship with God, and it’s not just giving things up.”

She suggested to “be good to yourself and really think about what’s good,” filling a need by spending time with a loved one.

“I feel like paying attention to the signals your body gives you rather than just your brain is really helpful,” Barnett said. “It’s important to listen to how sad we are and the losses we’ve had. It’s really hard.”

The Rev. Ryan Lerner, the chaplain at the St. Thomas More Chapel and Center at Yale University, said the pandemic has posed the question of “what does it mean to take up one’s cross … when the cross enters into our life in a way that we would not choose? … All of us have been asked to sacrifice or called to sacrifice in ways we never would have chosen or never would have imagined.”

But Lent gives us the opportunity of “letting go of those things that we sometimes cling to that clutter up our lives, to make room for God,” Lerner said.

Cultivating “a sacrificial spirit … frees us up. That is a positive thing,” Lerner said. “To be in dialogue with God, to recognize God’s presence in our lives and to give to others, whether it be our time, our attention, our prayers.”

Lerner and three others from St. Thomas More sprinkled ashes on people’s heads on Ash Wednesday. “The first real in-person thing we’ve done may be the only thing for the foreseeable future,” he said. Besides Yale students, faculty and staff, “we also had students from the University of New Haven and Southern who also came,” he said.

He said receiving ashes is more than just a tradition. “Go out with that ash on your forehead. How are you going to be ambassadors for Christ?” he said.

And he urges Christians to stay flexible and be present to opportunities to give to others. “It’s easy to be stuck to your calendar and your schedule,” he said.

Members of St. Thomas More also were given a Lenten kit including a booklet containing daily Scripture readings through Easter, a small jar of sand as a meditative tool, the Catholic Relief Services “rice bowl” for almsgiving and a copy of “Sacred Space for Lent 2021,” with daily prayers by the Irish Jesuits.

Aside from giving up something himself, which he doesn’t disclose, Lerner said he is praying throughout the day at the liturgically appointed times.

“As priests and religious, we make a promise to pray the liturgy of the hours. It’s very easy on a busy day to blast through it in the morning,” he said. “You’ve got to carve out a little bit of time during the day.”

The Rev. Joseph Marcello, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull, said this Ash Wednesday “had the biggest turnout in anyone’s memory. … It was hundreds and hundreds, probably well into the thousands,” he said.

Marcello used Q-tips to mark a cross in ashes on each person’s forehead. “Several people told me with tears in their eyes that this was the first time they had been back in church since the pandemic began,” he said.

Lent has given people the opportunity of “returning to a ritual that has been a constant in their lives, connected with people on a very deep level,” Marcello said.

“I think that as the pandemic subsides, as people get their vaccines, a lot of people are waiting for a tipping point, a moment to come back, and Ash Wednesday is the perfect time for that,” he said. “As we reapproach the normal that was taken from us a year ago, very few things connect with folks as deeply as Mass, liturgy, worship and prayer.”

The parish has had several “drive-through food drives. We have had an unbelievably strong response to those,” Marcello said. “We’ve delivered truckloads upon truckloads” of food, dry goods, baby supplies and other items, he said. “I’m just really encouraged to see that our parishioners, a goodly number of them, have not turned in on themselves, isolated, [but] have really stepped up.” Non-members also have dropped off items at the church, he said.

To the Rev. Ximena Diaz-Varas, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Torrington, Lent is an opportunity to perform “acts of kindness, being that person of God for others. … What is that thing that is going to help them be aware of the presence of God, which is basically what Lent is about.”

While it is good to make a sacrifice, “Giving up chocolate with nothing behind it is not going to make us closer to God,” she said. But small acts of kindness, such as reaching out to someone who lives alone, “will help us to see God working in this time, even in this pandemic, even in winter with storm after storm,” she said.

“I also have found that people are just on edge and we need to be kind to one another, and we need to be graceful with one another,” Diaz-Varas said. “Sometimes we feel we need to do huge things, but it really begins with our own heart. … If we all start with our heart we can change the world.”

The Rev. Frederick “Jerry” Streets, pastor of Dixwell Avenue United Church of Christ in New Haven, said parishioners have talked about “what it was they wanted to do for Lent,” trying new approaches to Bible study and prayer.

“They pray regularly, but they’re going to try to pray in a different way.” For some, “that meant getting on their knees, which they haven’t done in a long time,” he said.

“There’s a broader interest that people have in nurturing their sense of their spiritual life in the midst of such grief and sorrow and vulnerability,” Streets said. “The Lenten season has a way of making it more acute because of the emphasis on repentance and transformation.”

Streets said maintaining connections among parishioners, even if online, has been critical. He said he had been reading about the 1918 flu pandemic and “one of the things that was happening was that local newspapers … were publishing weekly meditations and sermons and spiritual advice.”

Now, he said, in addition to the weekly services on YouTube, there is Bible study and a general meeting in which people can share their experiences and information. At a recent meeting, “people were giving information about their COVID experience,” Streets said. “They were sharing their experience about overcoming their anxiety about getting the shot and the side effects, if any … and those stories were very helpful to people.”

New Haven’s Mayor Justin Elicker and Health Director Maritza Bond have been online guests at the meetings as well, he said. “All of these are means of helping people to stay connected, but it’s also a means of getting resources to live their life.”

Written by Ed Standard, Originally posted in the New Haven Register

St. Mark Students Strive to be Models in Christ

STRATFORD—St. Mark School in Stratford is pleased to announce a new school-wide program that teaches students the value of moral character and that the positive impact of their actions do not go unnoticed.

The program, Models in Christ, recognizes students for demonstrating character traits based on the Catholic theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. Teachers in kindergarten through grade 8 nominate students as Models in Christ based on how they exemplify the six pillars of character at St. Mark School: Respect, Kindness, Accountability, Citizenship, Perseverance and Trustworthiness.

Each month, two students per grade are chosen and presented with a commemorative gold cross pin.

The Models in Christ program was introduced to Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano at a recent school Mass ¬that he celebrated at St. Mark during Catholic Schools Week.

“What a tremendous program this is!” commented Bishop Frank. “Thank you students for your great example and your great conduct.”

School Counselor Jennifer Flynn created the program and believes its foundational skills embody the ideals of St. Mark School and instill a positive school climate and a culture of kindness.

Flynn shares, “Good character is not formed automatically; it is developed over time through a sustained process of teaching, example, learning and practice. With this program, students are intentionally taught good character traits to support their behaviors. As I tell my students, in a world where you can be anything, choose to be kind.”

School Principal Melissa Warner recognizes that while the primary responsibility for character development lies with parents and families, schools play an essential supportive role.

Warner adds, “As educators, we shape students’ ideas about what constitutes good behavior. We help them develop civic responsibility, healthy attitudes towards themselves and others, and a commitment to lifelong learning. We proactively instill in our students these important character traits that society values in its school graduates, community members and employees.”

According to Warner, the Models in Christ program is integrated into all elements of school life at St. Mark. Students discuss what each virtue looks like and how they can use that strength for the betterment of the school and the betterment of others. Morning prayer and school bulletin boards feature the virtue of the month and students are recognized when reflecting the virtue in their daily lives.

School Counselor Flynn praises the program for being a practical way for faculty and staff to model virtuous behavior and to help explicitly teach children to be the best versions of who they are.

St. Mark School is a Nationally Recognized Blue Ribbon School and a New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accredited school. St. Mark School opened its campus for in-person learning in September and continues to offer robust educational programs for students in Pre-K through Grade Eight, including those who choose to be enrolled in remote learning. For more information, visit www.stmarkschool.org or email contactus@stmarkschool.org.

Bishop to Rite of Election Candidates: ‘You are most welcome’

TRUMBULL— Bishop Frank J. Caggiano welcomed 100 men and women as they progressed toward full communion with the Catholic Church at Sunday’s Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion at St. Theresa Church in Trumbull.

“Today the Lord, through the Mystery of the Mystical Body, the Church, is going to elect you; that is, confirm the call you have received in the quiet of your heart; the call that was given to you by the Lord, Himself,” said the bishop during his homily.

The bishop assured the participants that he and all the members of the Church would be praying for them in the weeks ahead, as they continue their preparation to receive the sacraments of initiation. “You are most welcome,” the bishop said.

“There is a profound lesson to be contemplated,” explained Bishop Caggiano, reminding the participants that their journey in faith is one that all the faithful must continue throughout their lives.  “For the reality of the temptations in our lives are real. The tendency to fall into those temptations can be deadly, and so what is it that the Lord requires?”

The bishop explained the struggle that lies within all of us. “Temptation, my friends, is when we’re given a choice between doing what is good, right and moral, or to do what is disordered or evil or sinful.”

“That choice has power over us when it engages our hearts,” he said. “It is the desires of our heart that can at times get us in trouble.”

The bishop explained that we cannot find peace in our hearts from what the world wants us to consume—power, pleasure, possessions, privilege, prophet, and so many other things.

“To win over temptation is not simply knowing what’s right or wrong it is to contain, to train, to bring to conversion my heart and yours,” said the bishop.

“And you, my friends, election candidates, as you continue this journey you are going through, it is more than an invitation to simply know what the Church teaches, but it is also to train your heart…to allow these desires to lead you to the one desire that matters—the desire you have encountered already in your hearts.”

The bishop explained that in the Gospel reading of Jesus’ temptation in the desert, he was teaching us how to overcome temptations. The bishop assured that Jesus did not experience temptations as we do, because His heart is singular and pure, not divided as ours is.

The bishop posed the question: How can you and I look the devil in the face and walk away? He answered: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

“St. Augustine said one sentence that has been repeated and echoed for centuries,” the bishop said. “Our hearts are restless until they rest with thee, O God.”

This liturgical rite, traditionally held on the first Sunday of Lent, is part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) process. It closes the period of formation and marks the beginning of the period of final preparation for the Sacraments of Initiation at Easter.

To properly adhere to COVID-19 protocols, attendees were asked only to sit together if they were related or live together. Sponsors and godparents did not have to sit with the candidates and/or catechumens. Clergy and parish staff could sit wherever they please as well, following social-distancing guidelines.

After the homily, catechumens’ and candidates’ names were read aloud, as they were asked to stand with their godparents/sponsors and recite the responses provided.

All social-distancing and COVID-19 protocols were followed. The event was livestreamed at: www.sttheresatrumbull.org. 

(For more information regarding RCIA and adult formation, contact Dr. Patrick Donovan, executive director of The Leadership Institute at: pdonovan@diobpt.org.)

 

Parish Catechumens Candidates
St. Mary Parish, Bethel Meghan Dibella, Amy Crumb, Amanda Crumb Dempsey  Reese
St. Rose of Lima, Newtown Michael Digiovanni, Jesse Dudics, Joe Lacourse Seamus Conway, Daniel Pardovish
St. Thomas More Church, Darien Lisa Washburn
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Shelton Elida Cela Ree Torres
Sacred Heart of Jesus, Danbury Stephanie Viega, Fred Whipple
St. Aloysius, New Canaan Chastity Monoghan, Emily Zafonte, Trudi Widdrington-Davies, Nicholas Andrews Joseph Osburn, Hunter Smith, Hannah Kimmell, Kevin Shanley
St. Edward the Confessor, New Fairfield Hope Cosentino
St. Lawrence Church, Shelton Stephen Brighindi, Leslie Judd
Sacred Heart Parish (Westconn Newman Center) Devin Rivalsi, Mikayla Silkman, Holly Doyle Mikayla Silkman, Holly Doyle, Devin Rivalsi
Sacred Heart Church, Stamford Emily Lopez Remberto de Jesus Gomez, Brandon Perez, Juan Pinzon, Marcos Euceda, Juan Pinzon, Deysi Ramirez, Giselly Saenz, Melvin Orellana, Beverly Sarceno, Ludvin Menendez, Brenda Menendez, Steven Farez, Walther Arapa, Jairo Alarcon, Sandy Lopez Jr.
St. Charles Borromeo, Bridgeport Centauri Cotes, Mariah Cotes Bianca Diaz, Carlos Diaz, Aleah Loren Byas, Gracia R.Garhens Duvelson, James Anthony Galinda, Berta Ortiz, Aian Tomas, Maite Ramirez, Laysa Mekine Rodrigues Dutra, Fernanda Maria Delgado, Guilhermo Leandros dos Reis
St. Cecilia-St. Gabriel Cheryl McCormick
St. Joseph- St. Ladislaus
Jose Trinidad Aguirre
Carolina Rodriguez
Margarita Morel Martinez
Marvin Blanco Hidalgo
Libeth Mendez Hernandez
Hector Ayala
Lidia Argentina Morel
Jose Rigoberto Arevalo
Beni Tarazona
Jose Eduardo Vasquez
St. John, Darien Linda Lyons
St. Philip, Norwalk Hunter Finneran
Jon Anda
Dean Williams

Jeana Davila

St. Joseph Parish, Shelton Cole Twing
Cristal Ramos-DeMoya
Robert Reyes
St. Mary Parish, Stamford
Claudia Santizo
Leslie DeJesus
Kimberly Roig
Eugenio Victorino
Geullian Castellanos
Mateo Gallego
Milevie Ruiz
Ricardo Mejia
Kiara Chuquiang
Christian Discua
Eliana Sanchez
Michael Sanchez
St. Theresa Church, Trumbull Cedric Njila
Nicholas Zerella
Eujin Lee
Amber Deamico
St. Mark, Stratford Patricia Jean Baptiste
St. Matthew, Norwalk Anne Wilkins
Thomas Faye
Norberto Santiago, III
Natalia Toro-Santiago
Leidy Toro
Dawn Weiss
Liam Trudden
St. Peter Parish, Danbury Ana Jimenez and Hector Tomas

 

Sasha Nguyen, Alejandro Jimenez

Lent creates the space apart to tame our heart’s desires

BRIDGPEORT—“The mystery of sin is very much involved with the mystery of the heart,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in Mass for the First Sunday in Lent, which was live-streamed from the Catholic Center chapel.
After reading the Gospel of Mark (1:12-15) in which Jesus is tempted by Satan in the desert for 40 days, the bishop reflected on the nature of desire, sin and temptation.

He said that Jesus teaches us that we must walk into the desert “to tame our heart’s desires” and to free ourselves from attachments that ultimately enslave us, hurt others, and “continue to be the stumbling blocks to the freedom that is our destiny as the children of God.”

“It’s not easy to walk in the desert, but it brings freedom and life and gives us strength to overcome temptations in in your life and mine,” he said.

Bishop Caggiano began his homily by noting that the ancient view of wrong, which was discussed in the writings of St. Augustine, held that many people do things that are unethical because they don’t always know what is right and they choose “a mistaken good.”

“In the ancient world, sin was a failure of right thinking, a failure of the mind,” the bishop said, but the actions of a young boy helped Augustine to understand that sin was giving into the desires of the heart.

In his “Confessions,” Augustine relates the story of observing a young boy who was sitting on a wall and staring at a nearby apple tree with ripe and delicious fruit. As St. Augustine watches the boy sway back and forth on the wall, it become clear that the boy is deciding whether or not to take an apple from someone else’s yard. At some point, the boy leaps off, climbs the tree and eats the apple with a giant smile on his face.

The bishop said that Augustine understood then that sin was giving in to the heart’s desires and other temptations.

But “the Lord Jesus teaches us the way out by going to the desert,” where we can extricate ourselves from our passions and desires.

“The desert is a place we can take the desires that haunt us, enslave us, addict us and create a space that we can see them for what they really are,” he said. “When you go into the desert, possessions, privileges and pleasures are not there to be found.”

Jesus triumphed over Satan in the desert because he “did not have a divided heart. In his singular love for the Father he knew the false promises of things that attract my heart and yours,” the bishop said.

The bishop said we can all be tempted by our desire for privilege, power, pleasure or possessions because “we believe it will give us what we want , and make us whole and that we will find our heart’s peace in that.”

We sin when we allow the “desires of our heart” to determine the choice between good and evil, and that often leads us to choose poorly, the bishop said.

The Lenten season is an invitation to practice mortification, prayer and almsgiving to “tame the heart” and ask God’s guidance about what we should or shouldn’t do, he said.

“Mortification is to enter into the desert by denial of our desires, one choice at a time,” while almsgiving is not simply about giving to the poor but also “developing a grateful heart for the small, ordinary, beautiful blessings in our lives,“ he said, noting that we are all restless for things that cause us harm.

The bishop said that at the end of his life St. Augustine wrote a line in his “Confessions” that has been repeated innumerable times in the life of the Church, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee, O God.”

As we begin Lent, we are asked to go to the “boot camp of the heart and to train it to desire one thing above all others, to give ourselves totally and completely to the one who forgives us, loves us, set us free and brings us eternal life,” he said.

Before giving the final blessing, the bishop prayed that as we begin the journey of Lent that “it may lead us to true freedom of heart, and freedom from the temptations that afflict us, that we may come to Easter renewed and ready for new life.”

The Bishop’s Sunday Mass is released online every Sunday morning at 8 am and available for replay throughout the day. To view the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, recorded and published weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist. You are invited to join Bishop Caggiano for the Sunday Family Rosary every Sunday at 7:30 pm visit: https://formationreimagined.org/sundayfamilyrosary/

Two ways to give this Lent

BRIDGEPORT—This year, Catholic Charities of Fairfield County will be running two faith in action campaigns concurrently during Lent—Catholic Charities annual Loaves and Fishes Campaign together with Catholic Relief Services’ Rice Bowl program.

The Catholic Charities feeding programs provide food for the needy and most vulnerable members of the local community while the CRS Rice Bowl program supports members of the global family who are impoverished and endangered in the developing world.

“Due to COVID-19 we are doing things a bit differently this year,” said Mike Donoghue, director of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County.

“Since the pandemic began, food insecurity is the biggest need amongst some of our most vulnerable families,” Donoghue said, explaining that their main programs, pre-pandemic were doing 4-500 meals a day; now they do 1,000-1,2000 meals a day. “Demand has definitely increased,” said Donoghue.

Donoghue explained that this year’s Loaves and Fishes Campaign will be foregoing the use of envelopes, to cut down on paper waste and make giving more stream-lined.

Instead, flyers will be available in parishes with information on how to give including online and a mailing address.

Catholic Charities Feeding Programs supported by Loaves and Fishes

New Covenant Center, Stamford

  • Open 365 days per year serving 3 meals each day
  • Soup Kitchen serves 600,000 meals per year to 3600+ men, women, and children
  • Food pantry serves 1000 families per month
  • 800+ volunteers help cook, stock shelves and serve clients
  • Also provides clients with Day Shelter, Job Skills and Life Coaching, Immigration Counseling, Showers, Barber Services, and a Computer Lab

Thomas Merton Center, Bridgeport

  • Provides breakfast, lunch, and day shelter 6 days per week
  • Soup Kitchen serves 100,000+ meals a year to 4000 individuals
  • Eat Smart Food Pantry provides 600 families with 10 days of groceries per month
  • 600+ volunteers help cook, stock shelves and serve clients
  • Other Services provided – Thrift store, Shower program, Cosmetic day, Computer resources, medical services and referrals, homeless outreach team, life skills

Morning Glory Breakfast Program, Bridgeport

  • Serves hot breakfast 365 days per year to 100+ individuals daily
  • Served 45,000 hot and nutritious meals in 2019
  • 400+ volunteers help cook and serve clients
  • Non-food pantry provides household staples to over 1000 families

Parish Leaders may order CRS Rice Bowl materials free of charge at www.crsricebowl.org. Please contact Father Michael Boccaccio at: frboccaccio@diobpt.org for further information or questions on the Rice Bowl program.

Nurses who care for the physical and spiritual

BRIDGEPORT—Nine years ago, Marilyn Faber joined her husband William on a trip to Swaziland and discovered a different perspective on healthcare. While she was there, she volunteered at the parish nurse program that had 50 retired nurses running clinics throughout the country.

She saw firsthand what can be done in communities that lack resources. The nurses would bring in doctors to do exams and equally important, they helped in the healing process by their simple presence, she said.
The experience proved inspirational for Faber, who is the Parish Nurse Coordinator at Hartford Healthcare, St. Vincent’s Medical Center, which provides resources and assistance to 79 parishes and congregations throughout Fairfield County. The program has 225 participating nurses who are unpaid professionals, focused on what Faber calls, “the intentional care of the spirit.”

“I learned at lot in Swaziland,” she says. “I’m a holistic nurse and I learned what it means just to be you. As a nurse, you’re bringing yourself to the situation and a person who is ill. Making that connection, listening to their story and maybe using healing touch can be helpful to their healing process. And that is what the nurses did there. It taught me a lesson about the things they could do without money.”

Faith community nursing is a specialty within the American Nurses Association. There is a standard scope of practice that is followed by the unpaid professionals in the program, which exists at 42 parishes, including several in Stamford, St. Mark in Stratford, St. Aloysius in New Canaan, St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull and Holy Name of Jesus in Stratford, along with 37 Protestant churches. The program is ecumenical and available to all churches, congregations, mosques and synagogues in Fairfield County.

Bill Hoey, Vice President of Mission Integration at Hartford Healthcare, St. Vincent’s Medical Center, said, “The Parish Nurse program is a crown jewel in our vast array of programs at St. Vincent’s. The program brings our faith-based services to the people most in need, it captures our mission, vision and values beautifully. For over 25 years, this program has educated, informed and encouraged people to be as healthy as possible. We are very proud of the fact that our programs are in congregations of many faith traditions and are provided at no cost to the church, synagogue, mosque or parish that hosts the program. I am blessed to work with colleagues like Marilyn who see their work as a vocation and strive on a daily basis to put faith into action.”

The role of the parish nurse is to offer guidance so people can navigate the healthcare process. They do educational programs, health screenings and referrals. St. Vincent’s helps the parishes start and maintain the program in their churches.

“When you are in your church and people know you are a nurse, they are often asking you questions,” Faber says. “People know the relationship the nurse may have with the pastor and you get to know them as a church person and then as a nurse, who can help you navigate a health situation. There is an intentional presence so that the nurse can attend to the whole person — body, mind and spirit — and have the opportunity to do that without time constraints of a hospital or clinical setting.”

The focus of the program is to maintain a healthy balance of mind, body and spirit, Faber says.

“The parish nurse serves as health educator, counselor, referral source and health promoter for her congregation,” Faber says. “Through basic services such as monthly blood pressure screenings, the nurse can provide valuable instruction and assistance to the congregation.”

As a result of these screenings, for example, many parishioners who might not be aware of existing problems can be referred to their personal physicians before a serious problem develops. The nurses also sponsor health fairs in their churches with information and activities for different age groups.

They take what she called a “wholistic” approach, which means caring for the whole person, including the spirit. What does that mean?

“Much of the interviewing we do is finding out how someone’s prayer life is,” Faber says. “How do you feel in your spirit? If you feel that God has left you, that could be a big piece of what is happening in your life.”

For example, when a person is ill, he or she can succumb to the belief that God has abandoned them. They may be praying to be healed and nothing is happening. As a result, they become despondent because they assume God is not listening.

Faber said, “St. Vincent’s offers each parish or congregation enrolled in the program a start-up stipend for materials and supplies, and provides orientation and continuing education programs for the parish nurses. It also facilitates professional collaboration between the parishes and services offered at the Medical Center and in the greater Bridgeport community.”

In her role as Parish Nurse Coordinator, Faber supports the parish nurses by providing them with health tips for their bulletins, updated health information and education, and guidelines on important issues, such as the safest practices for reopening churches during COVID pandemic.

An important part of her job at St. Vincent’s is her involvement in the Community Health Improvement initiative in which she works with colleagues from Bridgeport Hospital along with the greater Bridgeport area health departments and and other organizations to determine how to improve the health outcomes of the community.

“I work on the ‘Know Your Numbers’ campaign, which utilizes Fairfield University and Sacred Heart University nursing students to offer health screenings in local food pantries,” she said. This team effort helps the people of Bridgeport work together to improve community health.

As one of three parish nurse coordinators in the state, Faber collaborates with the Connecticut Nurses’ Association to offer guidance for the more than 500 parish nurses in some 200 parishes and congregations.

Her role at St. Vincent’s is oriented to community health with special attention to the underserved in the area. Among her responsibilities is overseeing the monthly food distribution done on site at St. Vincent’s.

Faber is also the parish nurse contact at her own church, Nichols United Methodist in Trumbull. Over the past 20 years she has taught CPR classes and weight-management programs, provided flu shot clinics, health fairs and Red Cross blood drives along with facilitating support groups for those who are grieving or suffering from chronic illness. She been part of the parish nursing program since its inception in 1989, when she was parish nurse at Huntington Congregational Church.

For more information about becoming a parish nurse or how St. Vincent’s can help your parish develop a program, contact the Parish Nurse Office at 203.576.5558 or email the office coordinator at Lauren.davidson@hhchealth.org.

 


For nurses, a tradition of service in parishes

The parish nurse program at St. Mark Church in Stratford is one of the oldest in the diocese, and in the vestibule of the church, there is a plaque honoring the nurses for their years of service. Led by Christine Pfeiffer, RNBS, the program has some 20 nurses and five volunteer recorders.

Explaining the different services the nurses offer, Pfeiffer said, “I have worked with our pastor, Father Birendra Soreng, during the return-to-church phase to explain the public health code and the Bishop’s directions. Our group also does blood pressures once a month in the church entrance. We staff all five Masses before and after services.”

On average, 60 parishioners have their blood pressure checked. Two nurses take the blood pressure and one volunteer, from the Ladies Guild or a student parishioner, records the medical information for the client.

“We also collect used medication every month and removed the labels and drop off the meds at the Stratford Police Station’s collection container,” she said. “We usually collect a good amount of used meds, which we feel is a contribution to the environment.”

In addition, the group has made presentations on nutrition and medications to the Ladies Guild and on use of wheelchairs and defibrillators to the Ushers Guild so they are prepared when EMTs arrive in an emergency situation.

Cheryl Basztura, RN has been a parish nurse at St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull for 28 years. She and Judy Pyrch are co-coordinators of the program.

The first parish nurse, Mary Ellen Kovacs, is now director of pastor care and regularly visits hospitalized and home-bound parishioners.

“Over the years, we have held health fairs, flu shot clinics and information sessions for seniors, sometimes in conjunction with Nichols United Methodist Church,” Basztura said.

Blood pressure screenings were held every month before the COVID-19 restrictions were enacted. In addition, they make materials on wellness and disease prevention available to parishioners.

“I attend monthly parish nurse meetings at St. Vincent’s to keep abreast of current information on community agencies and other resources that parishioners can access,” she said. “And I enjoy spending one-on-one time with our clients.”

The regularly put notices in the church bulletin, and maintain a health-related bulletin board in the church hall, she said.

There are automated external defibrillators in the church and McClinch Center, and Basztura still recalls the Saturday afternoon when a parish nurse used one of them to save the life of a visitor.

Fifteen years ago Father Andrew Marcus of Holy Name of Jesus Church in Stratford asked Caren Silhavey, RN, BSN, MSN, CURNr, CNEr, to start a parish nurse program so she contacted Sister Mary Jean Tague, the first coodinator of the program at St. Vincent’s Hospital.

Silhavey, who was co-coordinator with her cousin Marion Rader, RN, said, “We were fortunate that we started our program with six RNs, 2 LPNs and one EMT.”

They began having monthly blood pressure screenings before and after Mass. That practice continued until COVID-19 restrictions were begun earlier this year. However, during the pandemic, the nurses called parishioners with health issues to see how they were doing.

“Besides blood pressures, we often provided counseling on various health and family/social issues,” she said. “We participate in health fairs both at our church as well as other parishes. At special services, such as a healing Mass, the parish staff has asked us to be present. We participated in a blood pressure screening with student nurses at a food bank that was held at our church.”

Silhavey received a grant from the Michael Vincent Sage Dragonheart Foundation for an automated external defibrillator that is mounted in the church. Since training was cancelled because of the pandemic, she sent videos and instructions to the parish staff.

With the resumption of Mass at the church, Silhavey said, “I have attended Masses and monitored the correct technique for taking temperatures.”

Kimberly McNamara, RN began volunteering at the Parish Nurse Program at St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan in 2007, assisting with the monthly blood pressure checks after Mass. She later took the training course with the encouragement of then pastor, Monsignor William Scheyd and Sr. Mary Jean Tague, St. Vincent’s first parish nurse coordinator.

Since that time, she has been involved with the St. Aloysius Parish Nurse Program, checking blood pressure and coordinating other parishioner/nurses who help with the ministry.

“The primary service this ministry offers at St. Aloysius is blood pressure checks and associated health counseling,” McNamara said. “Many people in the parish know their numbers and appreciate being able to have a nurse check their blood pressure on a regular basis. Hypertension is a risk factor that can be managed with proper medical care, medication compliance and lifestyle accommodations.”

What McNamara has enjoyed the most about her participation has been “the one-to-one interaction with fellow parishioners.”

“During these brief meetings, we have gotten to know one another and to share elements of our common faith,” she says. “I am honored to be a part of the Parish Nurse Ministry at St. A’s, and I am continually humbled by the faith, courage and wisdom I encounter in my fellow parishioners. The act of sitting down, and taking the time to have someone read you information about your own body is one that should not be minimized. It is a challenge for some people to stop their busy schedules to address blood pressure and other health indicators.”

She says that one of the most rewarding aspects of the Parish Nurse experience has been the rich faith in the community of nurses.

“Our monthly meetings are educational and social, thanks to Marilyn Faber’s dedication and leadership,” she said. “And I leave each meeting having heard a nugget of wisdom shared by a parish nurse colleague.”

Immaculate High School CyberPatriots Team Competes Nationally

DANBURY—Immaculate High School’s CyberPatriots team has been competing in the CyberPatriots XII National Tournament. There are three qualifying rounds in order to be considered for a spot in the National Finals, Immaculate placed fifth and first in the opening two rounds and finished the third round strong with a first-place win for the gold tier and third overall for the state of Connecticut.

Immaculate’s CyberPatriots team, coached by Dave Cirella, includes members Perry Gosh ‘21, Kolbe Mosher ‘21, Anish Nanda ‘22, Ethan Goodman ‘21, Aidan Doolabh ‘23, and Logan McAloon ‘21.

CyberPatriot is the National Youth Cyber Education Program created by the Air Force Association (AFA) to inspire K-12 students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation’s future.

Immaculate High School is a private, non-profit Catholic college-preparatory institution serving students from 28 communities in Connecticut and New York. Founded in 1962, Immaculate High School also allows students to focus on their spiritual development, personal moral commitments and service to others. Located in Danbury, CT, Immaculate High School is part of the Diocese of Bridgeport’s parochial school system. Immaculate is currently accepting freshman and transfer student applications. For more information on rolling admissions please visit immaculatehs.org/admissions.

Catholic Schools Week and beyond at St. Rose School

NEWTOWN—With Catholic Schools week running from January 31-February 6, St. Rose of Lima School in Newtown started out the month in celebration. However, the snow interrupted the initial timing of events, so the celebrations were extended over the following weeks!

First, there was an 8th-grade vs. faculty Family Feud game on Friday, February 5. In the past, there has been an 8th-grade vs. faculty volleyball game but given restrictions that has been postponed and will hopefully take place outdoors later in the spring. In the meantime, students and faculty played a safe and fun game of Family Feud in the Gathering Hall. The students were the victors!

Also on Friday, February 5, the Home & School Association (HSA) showed their appreciation to teachers and faculty with hand-delivered lunches from Marketplace as well as Relax, Rest & Restore Mason jars filled with a candle, lip balm, a teabag, a face mask and a beautiful plant. This was in place of the traditional teacher/staff appreciation luncheon and was received with much gratitude.

On February 10, 6th and 7th-graders assembled Valentine craft kit bags for the CH Booth Library in Newtown to distribute to three and four-year-olds in the community. This is in keeping with a past tradition of the middle school students leading a craft and reading hour for Little Ones at the Library over the past few years during Catholic Schools Week. Three 6th-grade students filmed a “how-to” video which the Library will post.  The bags were delivered and are displayed on top of one of the bookcases in the Children’s department where little ones can pick up and take home to do the craft.

Also on February 10, first-graders collected packaged cookies and candies for guests at the Dorothy Day Hospitality House in Danbury to be included in their Valentine’s Day lunch.

On February 11, there was a Spirit Stroll for 8th-graders at SRS. This took the place of the annual pep rally but enabled faculty and staff to acknowledge the leaders of the student body in this special last year at SRS. The entire school dressed in red and white. After morning prayer and announcements each 8th-grader was called by name over the speaker and “strolled” down the hallway while representatives from each class stood at the doorway of their classroom waving red and white pom-poms.

That afternoon, traditional mechanical pig races ensured, but to ensure safety and distancing only two classes went to the gym at a time.  It was a school-wide, creative effort. Third-grade, New Pork Piggers, won the preschool-3rd grade slot. Just Jeff, the fifth-grade pig, won the 4th-8th grade slot. New Pork Piggers was the overall winner, crossing the finish line ahead of Just Jeff in the final heat of the day. All classes put in a spirited effort:  Preschool—Her Royal Porkness; first grade—Moe; 2nd-grade—Baconator; 4th-grade —Bob the Bacon Builder; 6th-grade—Elvis Pigsley; 7th-grade—Hampa Bay Baconeer; 8th– grade—COVID-19.

The “fee” for dressing down for every student and faculty member was to bring at least two items for contribution to the Faith Food Pantry.  Service is an integral part of all St. Rose does throughout the year and particularly during Catholic Schools Week. During these weeks of celebration, students wrote cards for essential workers at Danbury Hospital, Nursing Home residents and Veterans to name a few.

Receiving ashes “a wonderful moment”

DANBURY – Marking the beginning of Lent, hundreds of Catholics flocked to area churches on Ash Wednesday to receive ashes in an unusual way.

At St. Peter Church on Main Street, a steady stream of people entered the neo-Gothic church in the late afternoon to participate in the tradition of personal acknowledgement of sin and a desire to seek forgiveness from God.

“I think it was fantastic to be able to come to church to receive ashes today,” said parishioner Karen Scalzo.

Scalzo said she was a little concerned when she heard that ashes were being sprinkled on the head, due to COVID-related contact restrictions.

“When I saw people coming out of church with actual crosses on their forehead, even if they had to use a cotton swab, I was relieved. That’s the way it’s supposed to be,” Scalzo said.

Parishes were given the option of distributing ashes either by sprinkling them on top of a person’s head or by making the traditional sign of the cross on the forehead with a cotton swab.

Pastor Gregg Mecca said he was grateful to be given the option by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and decided to use the cotton swab method since a cross on the forehead is more akin to what parishioners are accustomed.

Fr. Mecca said it was important to keep some normalcy to the tradition during a time when people are enduring so many changes and uncertainty because of the pandemic. Sprinkling ashes on the top of people’s heads, rather than marking foreheads with ashes is the customary practice at the Vatican and in Italy.

In addition to the change in how ashes were distributed, parishes also had the option to offer a time when the faithful could come to church to receive ashes outside of Mass or the Liturgy of the Word. Fr. Mecca said that option was crucial in addressing the needs of the congregation especially since morning masses were at or near COVID-restricted capacity.

“I’ve been watching mass on TV but to be able to come into the church is wonderful,” said parishioner Laura Halas. “I feel more connected.”

That was the sentiment shared by many parishioners who were very grateful to be able to participate in a tradition, albeit in a non-traditional way.

“Every Sunday morning, we watch mass online,” said parishioner Ron Kreho. “We’ve been doing that for a year now but it’s so good to be here,” he said adding that he has medical concerns and is awaiting his second vaccine shot before he will feel more comfortable being in public places.

The walk-in period allowed Fr. Mecca to briefly chat and reconnect with parishioners he hadn’t seen since the beginning of the pandemic.

“It’s good to see familiar faces,” he said. A sentiment echoed by many including parishioner Danielle Ford. “I miss being here and seeing everyone and the priests.”

WSHU General Manager George Lombardi Retires

FAIRFIELD—George J. Lombardi, long-time general manager of WSHU Public Radio, based in Fairfield Connecticut and owned by Sacred Heart University, has retired, ending his 44-year tenure with the station. He has been succeeded by A. Rima Dael, a development and management executive with over 25 years of experience with nonprofit organizations in the public media, arts and education sectors.

“The WSHU of today is the station that George built, and Sacred Heart University is deeply grateful for his contributions to the university and to the community at large,” said Michael Iannazzi, vice president for marketing & communication and chief of staff at SHU. “We are thrilled to have identified an extremely worthy and capable replacement in Rima. She is a leader who has already demonstrated her commitment to WSHU’s mission and will usher the station towards a vibrant future.”

George was first hired to serve as a part-time radio engineer at WSHU. But as his interest grew, so did his singular vision. Under George’s leadership, the station evolved from a student-run radio station into an NPR member station with an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning regional news team and a steadfast commitment to classical music. What began as the single 91.1 FM frequency grew into an operation broadcasting on 13 frequencies and serving listeners in Fairfield and New Haven Counties, the entire Connecticut shoreline, Suffolk County on Long Island and beyond. Thanks to WSHU’s nationally syndicated classical music program, Sunday Baroque, and that award-winning sports journalist Frank Deford recorded his weekly NPR commentaries at WSHU’s studios for many years, WSHU has become visible to listeners throughout the country.

In recognition of his contributions, Sacred Heart University dedicated the soaring entrance space of the new WSHU Broadcast Center as the George J. Lombardi Lobby. George looks forward to spending his retirement in Maryland with his wife Patricia, their daughters, Karen and Sarah, and three grandchildren.

Dael joined WSHU Public Radio as station manager in September 2019. Prior to that, she was the executive director of development & major gifts at New England Public Radio, where she was an integral part of the team negotiating the strategic alliance between WGBH TV and New England Public Radio. She also served as the executive director of Country Dance & Song Society, an international arts service organization for North American traditional dance, music and song, during their successful Centennial Celebration and Spread the Joy campaign. She was a founding faculty member of the Nonprofit Management & Philanthropy graduate program at Bay Path University.

“I am both honored and exhilarated by the opportunity to lead the station,” Dael said. “Over the past 16 months, I have worked together with the WSHU team to weather the COVID-19 pandemic—one of the biggest challenges the station has faced. It is clear to me that WSHU has an extremely dedicated staff and an unshakable commitment to serving the community with the best content available. I am convinced that WSHU’s future is bright indeed.”

In her new role, Dael will continue to build WSHU’s infrastructure to meet the station’s strategic goals; focus on revenue generation and sustainability; and envision a relevant 21st-century radio station committed to sharing the stories of our local communities, the region and the world.

Originally from the Philippines, Dael spent her early years in Old Greenwich, CT, and in several Southeast Asian countries. She received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology and theatre arts from Mt. Holyoke College. Her master’s degree is in nonprofit management from the Milano School of Management & Urban Policy at the New School University where she was a Community Development Finance Fellow. Dael currently lives in West Hartford, CT.

About WSHU Public Radio

WSHU Public Radio is a group of not-for-profit, member-supported radio stations, owned and operated by Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT, that brings the best in public broadcasting to 200,000 listeners in Connecticut and Long Island. An NPR member since 1984, the station airs highly regarded national programs such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, and Marketplace; locally-produced classical music; and its own regional news coverage for which it has won five national Edward R. Murrow Awards and scores of other prizes. Its classical music program Sunday Baroque is syndicated and heard on over 200 stations nationwide. In addition to broadcasting on 13 traditional radio frequencies, it streams all of its programs at www.wshu.org.

Fairfield U Announces Leadership Changes for Mission and Ministry

FAIRFIELD—In a message to the Fairfield University community, President Mark R. Nemec, Ph.D., recently announced three new appointments that will strengthen all aspects of the spiritual life of Fairfield: the Rev. Gerry Blaszczak, S.J., will be appointed to the role of assistant to the President and alumni chaplain, a post most recently held by the Rev. Charles Allen, S.J.; the Rev. Paul Rourke, S.J., will assume the post of vice president for Mission and Ministry; and the Rev. Keith A. Maczkiewicz, S.J., will be joining the University to assume the role of director of Campus Ministry and University chaplain. These appointments will take effect on July 1, 2021.

Currently, vice president for Mission and Ministry, “Father Gerry is held in the warmest regard throughout our community,” said President Nemec. “He has tirelessly reached out to our alumni, faculty, and staff in their hours of need and celebration over many years, and has been of great assistance to me in my efforts to spread the good news of our continued strength and ascendancy as a University to our alumni around the country. His new role will allow him to continue and expand this work, and I am deeply grateful that he has agreed to serve in this capacity.”

Father Gerry has been on the faculty of Le Moyne College, Fordham University, and Hekima College in Nairobi, Kenya. He has served as Secretary for the Service of Faith at the Jesuit General Headquarters in Rome, as novice director for the Maryland and New York Provinces of the Jesuits, superior of the Fordham Jesuit community, parochial vicar at St. Raphael’s Church in Raleigh, N.C., and pastor of St. Ignatius Loyola Church in Manhattan, among other posts.

In 1967 Father Gerry entered the Society of Jesus and was ordained in 1979. He holds a Ph.D. in New Testament and Early Church History with a secondary field of Islamic Studies from Harvard University. He earned a B.Phil. from Philosophische Hochschule Berchmanskolleg in Pullach, Germany and a bachelor of arts, summa cum laude, in classics from Fordham University.

To fill the vital role of overseeing the work of ministry on our campus, Father Paul Rourke, currently the director of Campus Ministry will assume the post of vice president for Mission and Ministry. In this capacity he will oversee Campus Ministry, the Murphy Center for Ignatian Spirituality, and other dimensions of spiritual life on campus, and will serve as a member of Fairfield’s senior leadership team.

Acknowledging Father Paul’s leadership since joining Fairfield in 2018—after serving as the director of Campus Ministry at Georgetown University’s Law Center—President Nemec said, “Father Paul has led the work of Campus Ministry and our Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola with great care, enthusiasm, and energy, and I know he has been of great encouragement to so many during the significant challenges we have faced during the past year. I am grateful that he will assume this important office, and look forward to his contributions in leadership as we chart out the next leg of our course as a University, and continue to deepen our mission to serve the greater community.”

Father Paul joined the Society of Jesus in 2000, and was ordained a priest in 2010. A 1994 graduate of Georgetown University, he received his JD from the Washington University School of Law in 1997, and worked at a think-tank before joining the Society. His studies include an STB degree from the Pontificia Università Gregoriana in Rome, and licentiate studies in canon law at the same university. He was also a teacher at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia, and an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown, among other posts.

Returning to Fairfield to assume the role of director of Campus Ministry and University chaplain, is Father Keith A. Maczkiewicz ’04, a Fairfield alumnus. Father Keith has most recently served as assistant chaplain at the College of the Holy Cross. There, he worked in the college chapels, leading the liturgical formation of student ministers and coordinating liturgy. Other ministries included student and alumni retreats, international immersions, directing communications strategy, and developing new initiatives and programs in the Office of the College Chaplains. Father Keith served as a Student Mission and Diversity Ambassador trainer at Holy Cross, and on several committees including the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Implementation Committee; the Sexual Respect and Conduct Planning Group, and other efforts.

Following his studies at Fairfield, Father Keith earned an M.Ed. at Providence College, an MA in social philosophy at Loyola University Chicago, and a master of theology and divinity degrees as well as a License in Sacred Theology (STL) at the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University. He was ordained a priest in 2018 at Fordham University.

On behalf of the University, President Nemec extended a warm welcome back to Father Keith. “We are delighted that a graduate of Fairfield will be returning to assume this vital role within our community, and grateful to the Society of Jesus for its unflagging support of our collaborative mission as the modern, Jesuit Catholic University.”