“My dwelling, like a shepherd’s tent is struck down and borne away from me; You have folded up my life, like a weaver who cuts off the last thread” (Isaiah 38:11-12). I long dreaded these words, and prayed God to permit the thread to continue spinning.

I grew to love it here and thought the world radiated a stream of things that were bright and beautiful and alive. There was much to enjoy in this world. At many times in my life, I’ve had exhilarating feelings of life. I could be in wonder at the daily miracles of life: the light of a new day, a simple meal, watching the day slowly turn into evening. There was a kind of delight in being a human being.

Time taught me that life was not always benign. As Psalm 116 put it, “They caught me, sorrow and distress.” Trouble can always find us. Life is not always gentle. The world does bad things to us all. I had to wonder, is it the sort of life I would want to go on indefinitely? We are all preys to time, and everybody learns how awful the world can be.

According to St. Augustine, life is both a grace and a crippling burden. Life often ceases to be a joy and becomes an affliction. There are the infirmities, the protracted illnesses, the humiliating failure of the flesh that belong to the long process of aging. Life ceases to be a joy and becomes a burden. The world we once trusted hurts us. We become men and women “of sorrow and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). They are part of the package.

As I see it, the elderly generally grow lonely and tired, crushed by the separations and sorrows of life. They can give you a list of all whom they have loved and lost. There is so much loneliness in living, so much unredeemable loss. Many find themselves alone like Elijah under a broom tree saying to God “it is enough” (“sufficit” in Latin), now, O Lord, take my life” (1 Kgs. 19:4). People are haunted periodically by the thought that keeping on is not worth the struggle. Elderly people generally don’t put up much of a fuss about dying, and death usually gentles them out the door.

I sometimes wonder how I will do at dying. I hope to go off quietly—no doctors, no hospitals, no fear, no pain, giving as little trouble as possible—an “easeful death” as Keats called it (Ode to a Nightingale). Here are some comforting expressions about dying by some famous people:

“I thought dying was harder” (Louis XIV).

“It is so simple to die” (Carl Schurz, French dramatist, died 1660).

“Is this dying, is this all? Is this what I feared? Oh, I can bear this, I can bear this” (Cotton Mather, American Puritan preacher, died 1728).

“I’m not afraid to die, honey. In fact, I’m kind of looking forward to it” (Ethel Waters, American blues singer, died 1977).

“My work is done” (John Stuart Mill).

I’m comforted by a common scene depicted in the burial chambers in the catacombs of Callistus, in Rome. Seven youths are pictured gathered around a table, enjoying a convivial meal. The table is laden with two platters of fish. Seven large baskets brimming with loaves of bread stand on the floor beside the table. There is a flask of wine.

Early Christians held meals on the anniversary of a loved one’s death. These banquets were considered illustrating and parallel to the heavenly banquets the deceased person was enjoying in Paradise. The moral is that for all eternity the deceased will rejoice, never to know sorrow again, “and the days of your mourning shall come to an end” (Antiphon, morning prayer, Tuesday, week II of Advent).

I believe in the Resurrection of the dead. The Almighty Creator who called things from nothingness into being can also call humans from death into incorruptible life (Rom.4:17).

I believe death is the doorway to reunion with loved ones. The ties of love and affection which knots us as one throughout our lives do not unravel with death.

I hope to meet with God’s “well done.” And I will experience gratitude for the grandeur and vitality of my human life. I will give God thanks for the road I travelled, thank him for “my story.”

I’ll end with two stories of death-bed experiences in which I was involved. One involved a lady I knew for many years. There was silence for a long time. I held her hand. Eventually she said “I guess I’m going to leave.” I said “I know.” With a slight smile she said “I never died before.” I said, “I know.” In a whisper she said “I think we’ll make it. Tom.” Then she said “I want to pray a bit.” She whispered “My Father, take me home because of Jesus, and Father, take care of this good guy here. He has given me love, and he has been my friend. Amen.”

The second death-bed story involved a man I knew since high school. With his final words he said not “good-bye” but “forgive me.” It was the most profound good-bye I ever heard.

I’ve already made plans for when I get to Heaven— even though I’m not sure when that will be because these things can take time. Nevertheless, there are a few people I want to meet, so I’m penciling them in on my calendar.

Sure, there’s God and Jesus and the Blessed Mother, not to mention St. Joseph and my guardian angel, who’s done a lot of heavy lifting, with more to go.

I also want to give a shout-out to some saints who’ve helped me along the way, like St. Jose Sanchez del Rio, St. Margaret of Castello, St. Josephine Bakhita, St. Ann and St. Joachim, Servant of God Chiara Corbella Petrillo, and St. Joseph Barsabbas.  He’s the guy who didn’t get the job when the Apostles had to fill the opening left by Judas. We certainly can all relate to the guy who didn’t get the job.

Let me not forget St. Martha, who’s one of my favorites. All my life, I’ve lived with Marthas. Even though it’s been a bit annoying, they always step up to the plate when there’s work to be done.

Who can’t love Martha? When her brother Lazarus was sick, she sent word to the Lord, and after he died, she went out to meet Jesus as he approached Bethany. She told him: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask, God will give you.” All of us need a saint like that on our side.

When I get to Heaven, I also look forward to meeting people we hear about but know so little about. I’d love to sit down with them and talk about life, and the afterlife over a latte, assuming they serve lattes in Heaven.

I really want to meet the Syrophoenician woman whose daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit. St. Mark tells us that she fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to help, but he rebuffed her and said, “It’s not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” Hearing that, anyone else would have crept away, but she came right back at Jesus with her famous retort: “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.”

The Gospel writers tell us that Jesus wept, but they never say Jesus smiled. I’m convinced he smiled that day when he told her, “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.”

I’d also like to meet the woman who was hemorrhaging for 12 years and gave all her money to doctors, who couldn’t cure her. She pushed her way through the crowd to get close to Jesus so she could touch his tunic, thinking, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” She did and the flow of blood stopped … and then mayhem erupted.

“Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who has touched my clothes?’ But Peter said to him, ‘You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”

Jesus looked around, and the woman realized she’d been exposed. “She approached in fear and trembling,” the Gospel says. “Then, she fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.”

“Daughter, your faith has saved you,” he said. “Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” I suspect he smiled again.

I’m also making plans to enjoy a cappuccino with the Good Thief (I’ll buy). The Good Thief was there during Jesus’ darkest hour, when he felt abandoned and was reviled as he hung on the cross between two criminals.

The Good Thief rebuked the other, who was cursing Jesus and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

But the Good Thief told him: “ Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? We have been condemned justly … but this man has done nothing criminal.”

Then, he said the words that gained him Heaven: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus uttered a reply that will be remembered for all eternity: Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

All of them were people whose lives went from ordinary to extraordinary when they encountered the Son of Man … who also happened to be the Son of God.

Jesus, remember us when you come into your kingdom.

Refresh. Renew. Reflect. Umm, rebirth! What about revive? Return? Redo. I bet you didn’t get this one—redeem!”

Whoever thought that ninth graders could become so competitive over a grammar lesson about prefixes? I scrambled to keep up with them, writing each re- verb on the board and finally pausing after that very enthusiastic “redeem.”

Most of them probably didn’t realize it, but as they brainstormed these words, they managed to create a roll call of Lenten themes.

These 14-year-olds certainly understand the power of making something better and of starting again. I often hear them say, “Would you let me revise my last essay so I can improve it?” “Can you repeat the directions?” “I’m going to redo the assignment after school.” There seems to be an infinite desire for another chance, and not only for high schoolers. How nice it is to refresh with a cold drink on a summer day or recall a memory from childhood, to restore an old photograph or renew a wedding vow. The act of doing over and coming back offers us a unique opportunity for a new start.

Now, in the midst of Lent, I think of the times this season I have followed through on all those verbs my students tossed out—and the times I haven’t. My older daughter, a college freshman, encouraged me to join her in reading the Lenten reflections that her school emails each morning. I started off strong, spending time during the week after Ash Wednesday enjoying passages before the busyness of the day began. We shared our thoughts later on through a quick text or phone call, but then, as sometimes happens, I missed one, and then another, and so did she, preoccupied by worldly distractions. Soon a week had gone by. Frustrated, I then realized that I just had to start again. Like my students, I needed to “redo my assignment.”

And the first passage I read the next day could not have been more fitting, one from Isaiah that ended with “Return to me, for I have redeemed you.”

With God, there seems no limit to the opportunities he gives us to rebuild and restart, and I feel that so often during Lent. Though I missed out on those days of reflection, he invited me back, aptly saying, “Return to me.”

Though my students make mistakes, they see an opportunity to do better. For us Catholics, that message is compelling, applicable to our relationship with God during Lent and to all segments of our lives throughout the year.

Just as I was finishing this piece, I received an email from a student who had been struggling over the winter and had fallen behind.

“Spring’s rolling around, soon flowers will be blooming,” she wrote. “New beginnings I guess. I’m excited. See you tomorrow.”

With spring indeed upon us and Easter approaching, I remind myself to reflect and revise, keeping in mind the power of that little prefix and knowing Jesus’ resurrection gives us all the chance to start anew.

The following is a letter to the faithful in the Archdiocese of New York by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan.

NEW YORK—Dear Family of the Archdiocese: If we were not still observing the holy season of Lent, I would probably begin this letter with one word: Alleluia! But, since we still have a few more days to go until Easter, allow me to say that I write to share some very good news.

After an extensive search process, wide consultation, and much prayer, Sister Mary Grace Walsh, ASCJ, Ph.D., has accepted my invitation to serve as the next Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of New York. She will succeed Mr. Michael Deegan, who, as you may recall, will be retiring from that role at the end of the current academic year, after many decades of splendid service to Catholic education here.

Sister Mary Grace is no stranger to the Archdiocese of New York.   A member of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a religious congregation of women with a particular devotion to education, she has served in the archdiocese as both a teacher and principal in our Catholic schools, as well as receiving a Ph.D. in Educational Administration/Church Leadership from Fordham University.

In addition, among her many other assignments, she has served as Provost for Education, Evangelization, and Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Hartford, and prior to that as Superintendent of Schools and Secretary of Education and Faith Formation for the Diocese of Bridgeport. Currently, Sister Mary Grace is President of Cor Jesu Academy in Saint Louis, a member of the Board of Directors of the National Catholic Educational Association, and a Trustee of Foundations in Education. She is a Provincial Councilor for her religious community and serves as a director on all of their corporate boards.

It’s no secret that our Catholic schools have faced tremendous challenges in recent years. It was just a few weeks ago that we announced the sad news that 12 of our excellent schools would cease operating after this school year. We’ve been fortunate to have Mike Deegan as the Superintendent of Schools to help us meet those challenges, and his upcoming retirement – which he delayed, at my request, for several years – would have left me anxious about our future had we not been able to find an educator of the quality of Sister Mary Grace Walsh to succeed him. She has already shared with me  that she looks forward to serving in this archdiocese, and, in her words, “to working with the priests and pastors, the many dedicated teachers, principals, and staff in the schools, the benefactors who do so much to keep them running, and, most especially, the parents and students, all to give our young people an outstanding academic and spiritual formation, and a future full of hope.”

I trust that you join me in welcoming Sister Mary Grace back to the Archdiocese of New York, and in my promise to keep her, and the school community we serve, in our prayers.

A blessed Holy Week, and a joyous Easter to come.

With prayerful best wishes, I am,

Faithfully in Christ,

+ Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York

By Kathy-Ann Gobin

NEW FAIRFIELD – The meaning of relationships, religious observations and expressions of faith were topics discussed at St. Edward the Confessor Parish during a Lenten Soup and Substance gathering.

“I love theology and history and connecting with theology,” said Father Edward Enright, OSA, the event’s guest speaker and an Associate Professor of Religious and Theological Studies at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass.

Father Enright started the discussion hosted by the “Old Enough to Know Better Ministry,” at the Brush Hill Road church by sharing a little about himself and his work.

He is currently working on a reflection of Saint John Henry Newman’s life. Father Enright, a professor for more than four decades, is one of the foremost scholars of Newman and has written a book called, “John Henry Newman: Doctor of the Church.”

Newman was on a mission to revitalize the Church of England before his controversial conversion to Catholicism in 1845 following research that made him suspect that the Roman Catholic Church was in closest continuity with the Church that Jesus established.

“Newman was ahead of his time,” Father Enright said. “He was a modern man when no one knew what a ‘modern man of the time’ was.”

“Helping people to do what they have to do to be the person they have to be, was the mission that he embodied,” he said.

And as Father Enright has lived that mission as a member of the Order of St. Augustine for more than 50 years, he has forged many friendships along the way including becoming a mentor and guide to parochial vicar Father Tim Iannacone for more than 10 years.

“Father Ed was the inspiration of why I wanted to be a priest,” Father Iannacone said. “He showed me that priests are human beings.” Father Enright vested Father Iannacone at his ordination, a moment which was captured and celebrated on photos projected on a large screen during the luncheon meeting.

Father Iannacone credits Father Enright with deepening his understanding of the human condition and helping him to always seek to foster meaningful relationships with the people he serves for Christ.

Father Enright grew up in Arlington, Mass., as the oldest of four siblings and although his mother was Protestant, he ended up attending and found his place at a newly built Catholic High School and said the Augustinian order there, helped him in his faith journey.

“It’s important to live in good community,” he said. Augustinians seek to live out a Christian vocation of love for God and neighbor in communion of life and service to the Church.

Father Enright answered questions from those gathered including understanding the different observations between Eastern Catholics, Greek Orthodox Catholics and Roman Catholics.

“We all started out together,” he said, adding division in the church is responsible for the establishment of different factions. “We do have the seven sacraments in common,” he said, noting there are some caveats like Eastern Catholics can be married before priesthood.

“We have the same beliefs when it comes to the level of orthodoxy,” he said about Greek Catholic Orthodox followers.

The group also discussed Pope Francis’ decree for all Catholics to embrace the Vatican II reforms and learn the way to celebrate the liturgy according to them.

Father Enright is studying the path to enlightenment and relationships. He encouraged those in attendance to, “look at the beauty of each individual, despite any doubt or difficulties, look at the beauty before you. Shine the light (of Christ) on other people when they may be having a bad day.”

Father Iannacone agreed.

“It’s all about relationships and recognizing that person is a human being, whether they are Catholic or not,” said Father Iannacone. “We are all family. A family in faith.”

Father Enright will be at St. Edward the Confessor until Easter Tuesday. He will lead a Lenten Reflection at the church on Wednesday, March 29 starting at 6 pm.

HARTFORD — Hundreds of Catholics from Fairfield County joined people of all faiths at the Connecticut March for Life on March 22 to send a pro-life message to state legislators that they want “laws to protect life and not take life.”

Several thousand rallied at the State Capitol as lawmakers begin discussing a Constitutional amendment that would legalize abortion at any time during pregnancy, along with a bill that would give public funds for women to travel to Connecticut for an abortion.

“The speakers at the rally inspired the crowd to be courageous, to speak up for life and be loving and compassionate,” said Maureen Ciardiello, Coordinator of Respect Life and Project Rachel for the Diocese of Bridgeport. “It brought together people of all faiths, ages and cultures — not just Catholics — from across the state, who were united in their desire to be heard by our legislators. It showed them there are many in Connecticut who value the culture of life and want laws to protect, not take life.”

Among those attending the rally were Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, Archbishop Leonard P. Blair and Auxiliary Bishop Juan M. Betancourt of the Archdiocese of Hartford, and Bishop Michael R. Cote of the Diocese of Norwich.

On the eve of the march, Bishop Caggiano celebrated a Vigil Mass for life at St. James Parish in Stratford and told the congregation that human life is sacred, only to be given and taken by God — and that it reached its perfection in the personhood of Jesus Christ.

The second annual March for Life was held at a time when legislative committees begin discussing issues that also include assisted suicide and parental notification for children under 16 who seek abortion services.

“It’s important for people to realize that since the Dobbs decision, the battle now is here in Hartford to protect life and to stop what we anticipate will be an effort by abortionists to see a state Constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to take innocent life,” said Christopher C. Healy, executive director of the Connecticut Catholic Conference. “We anticipate that, we welcome that fight, and we are ready to deal with it. So we are urging people to re-engage on a basic level through their parishes and pro-life ministries to reach out to their elected officials and be heard.”

The U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade after almost 50 years left it up to the states to debate issues, such as when life begins and restrictions on abortion.

The Hartford event began with a rally outside the Capitol building, followed by a march through Bushnell Park and along several streets.

The march was sponsored by the Connecticut Catholic Conference in collaboration with the national March for Life Education and Defense Fund. Twenty-eight buses, subsidized by the Knights of Columbus, transported people from 14 churches and schools in the diocese to the rally. David Janny of St. Theresa Parish in Trumbull organized the buses with the help of Drew Dillingham, the pro-life director of the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council.

“The Knights deserve a tremendous amount of credit for all they did so people could get to the rally,” Janny said. “I am very involved in pro-life causes, and the march shows there are a lot more pro-life supporters in Connecticut than meet the eye. My prayer is that this gives all the pro-life people in the state the courage to stand up and make our views heard. I think we can build on this success and have even more come out next year.”

Father Nicholas Pavia, chaplain of St. Joseph’s Manor in Trumbull and of the diocese’s Bereavement Ministry, has long been active in the pro-life movement, and drove to Hartford for the march.

“After I celebrated Mass at St. Joseph Manor, I went to the march, and it was perfect timing in so many ways,” he said. “So it is with every pre-born person made in God’s image to answer some prayers only God knows. And his plan and timing are always perfect. Therefore no human being must separate what God has put in motion, totally unique and wonderfully made.”

Marie Moura, who leads a prayer ministry for the dying at St. Joseph Parish in Shelton and Our Lady of Fatima in Bridgeport, said: “I felt the presence of God in those very powerful speakers, and I was moved to see so many young adults participate in the march. I hope and pray the awareness we are creating about abortion will teach young adults the importance of life. How many women who have had abortions really understood they were killing somebody? In my heart, I believe they were unaware of what they were doing because they weren’t taught about the importance of life, and now so many of them are hurting and really in pain. But our God is a forgiving God, and we need to have compassion for them. I believe with God anything is possible, and he will make all this better. We have to believe that and have faith and keep praying because prayer is powerful.”

Rosemary Samoskevich, a member of 40 Days for Life Bridgeport, said that like others, she felt “the need to speak out for the defenseless, including the babies in the womb, the aged and sick who are considered a burden to society, the pregnant mothers … who need support when the world advertises abortion as healthcare and attempts to conceal the truth and offer an expedient solution with ‘no consequences.’”

She also criticized the federal government for its ineffective response to violence against pregnancy centers and churches in recent years over the issue of abortion.

“We marched because we are concerned citizens who embrace our Constitutional rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and believe in the inalienable right to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’” she said. “We represent many concerned citizens who hold these values, but see them eroding.”

Barbara Grabowski, the leader of 40 Days for Life Bridgeport, attended the march with several colleagues, including Irene Gifford and her son Brian, who regularly give witness to life at rallies and vigils around the diocese.

At the Hartford march, they distributed materials about 40 Days for Life, which is an international organization that campaigns against abortion in more than 60 nations. The grassroots campaign brings together people of all denominations in a campaign of prayer, fasting and peaceful witness to seek God’s favor in turning hearts and minds from a culture of death to a culture of life, and to bring an end to abortion in America.

“It was great that so many participated to make our voices heard in Hartford,” Grabowski said. “The four Connecticut 40 Days for Life campaigns are offering each other support and encouragement with our respective campaigns, and we handed out a large amount of signage at the march.”

She expressed gratitude to the bishops for working together to make the march possible.

“They worked together as a Connecticut Catholic community of faith, offered Masses and made the march a great success,” she said. “It was good to see representation from all four corners of the state. After all, we may be a small state, but we have a big voice. I hope they heard us.”

Don Mallozzi, who heads the pro-life ministry of St. Edward the Confessor Parish in New Fairfield, along with the 40 Days for Life campaign in Danbury, has been organizing pro-life activities among parishes in the Greater Danbury area. He said some 40 people left from St. Edward’s and St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Parish in Brookfield for the Hartford march.

“The message for us is to fight against abortion and for the elderly and to oppose bills that come up in the state for issues like assisted suicide,” Mallozzi said. “There was a great sense of camaraderie. We were very encouraged by the march and the thousands who attended give us hope that we can fight together to create a culture of life in Connecticut.”

Several hundred college and high school students also participated in the march. Gemma Marchetti, Anna Melton, Thomas Grimm, John Paul Underhill and Ava Lannigan from Cardinal Kung Academy in Stamford led the Pledge of Allegiance at the rally.

By Emily Clark

HARTFORD—When the Connecticut March for Life kicked off in Hartford on March 22, some of the strongest voices there were from some of the youngest participants. Despite the overturning of Roe vs. Wade last summer, young people, especially young women, feel the need to continue supporting the pro-life movement.

Christa Colaco, a freshman at Cardinal Kung Academy in Stamford, joined thousands of others at the Connecticut March for the past two years. Though only 14, she understands the importance of this event.

“We need to show Connecticut that we will still fight (to end abortion),” she said. “The people in control need to know we do care.”

The youthful presence makes a powerful impact at the March for Life, especially when those just starting out in the workforce take personal time off from their jobs to attend, said Clare Wagner, a member of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan.

“As a recent college graduate getting used to my new adult life, I know how important it is to be true to myself and my beliefs,” she said. “At the March, I see so many others like me believing in what I do and banning together for the same cause.

“I want young adults to know that you’re never too young to have a voice,” added Wagner. She grew up valuing life from conception until natural death and with the knowledge that abortion is inherently wrong.

“I believe in life from a religious standpoint, but our founding fathers also said that life is an ‘inalienable right,’” she said.

Though younger than Wagner, Colaco holds the same views.

“High schoolers care, even if they don’t always talk about it,” she said. “It’s one thing to know in your heart as a Catholic that abortion is morally wrong, but going to the March shows that to other young people and helps them understand the evil behind it,” she said.

Having also grown up with a pro-life mindset, Rebecca Margolnick has attended both the March for Life in Washington, D.C. and the Connecticut March to give a voice to those who have none.

“It’s important to defend the unborn who cannot speak for themselves,” said Margolnick, a junior at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. “Although Roe vs. Wade has been overturned, abortions still do occur, and I believe it is imperative to march for the babies who are in danger.”

Many young adults are often told that as the next generation, they are responsible for making changes to improve the society in which we live.

“We’re supposed to change the world,” said Colaco, “but if we’re not changing it for the better, then what’s the point? We need to make a real change now.”

NEW CANAAN — For more than 50 years, there was a Scouts BSA Troop 45 at St. Aloysius Parish until it ended in the mid-1980s. Then, four years ago, Monsignor Robert Kinnally and Stephen V. Prostor worked together to bring it back because of the importance of Catholic Scouting.

Their efforts were well-rewarded. Today, Scouting is flourishing at St. Aloysius, and the newly revived troop recently honored its first Eagle Scout, which is the highest rank a scout can achieve. Matthew Fleming of Stamford, who is Troop 45’s Junior Assistant Scoutmaster and former Senior Patrol Leader, received his Eagle Scout award at the Ceremony of Honor on February 28.

The occasion revived a tradition that had been a hallmark of Troop 45 for decades, when boys from New Canaan and surrounding towns earned their Eagle, according to Prostor, who is the Committee Chair of Scouts BSA Troop 45.

Prostor praised Fleming, who plans to enlist in the Air Force, and said, “Matthew guided and encouraged and mentored our younger scouts. He set a great example by motivating them to achieve Eagle. The time he took and the patience he had working with them on their projects demonstrated the kind of leadership Eagle Scouts should exhibit. And we have benefitted tremendously by having him in the troop.”

Almost a year-and-a-half ago, Matthew and Ryan Jouanno joined the New Canaan troop after Troop 5 in Stamford ended. They were both Life Scouts — which is one step away from Eagle — and they needed a new troop.

Matthew was a high school senior in Stamford, and Ryan was an 11th-grader in Norwalk. They were accompanied by adult leader Alan Gerard, who had been Troop 5’s Committee Chair and Matthew’s Eagle adviser.

Matthew’s mother Robyn Fleming told News 12 that they had searched for a new troop and decided “This is the troop for us….I’m very excited and very proud of him. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Matthew said “he had a little dream” when he was 11 and read about the Eagle rank in the manual. He completed his Eagle project by cleaning and repairing the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in downtown Stamford.

“Matthew and Ryan both needed an active troop, and we needed older scouts to serve as an example to the younger members,” Prostor said. “Matthew has had a great influence on our younger scouts, and with his inspiration, we now have four of our 13 scouts who have achieved the rank of Star, which is two steps away from Eagle,” Prostor said.

He explained that only four percent of all scouts nationally earn the rank of Eagle, and they are in exclusive company.

“His example has dramatically inspired our younger scouts to do the work to get to Eagle,” Prostor said. “And that group of scouts will be an inspiration for the younger ones who are leaving Cub Scouts. Matthew’s legacy and the effect he has had on the troop is very positive. As an adult volunteer, there is no way I can thank him enough because he has had a tremendous impact on the program at St. Aloysius.”

Prostor, who grew up in Cleveland, was never a scout but has been an active adult volunteer in the New Canaan programs for the past seven years, ever since his son Aidan joined the Cub Scouts in first grade. Now, he is a 13-year-old eighth-grader and the Senior Patrol Leader for Troop 45.

“I was so impressed with the positive impact the program has on these kids,” he said. “It will be part of my life forever. We have a bishop and a diocese that is supportive and people who have had good experiences with Scouting.”

Assisting him in Troop 45 are Scoutmaster Dr. Keith Duggar, who is an Eagle Scout, and Robert Mantilia, the Chartered Organization Rep, who serves as the liaison between the parish and Scouting. Monsignor Kinnally, pastor of St. Aloysius and Vicar General of the Diocese of Bridgeport, who previously served as chaplain for the scouting program, also achieved the rank of Eagle.

While Scouting units are open to kids of all faiths, Prostor stressed the importance of Catholic Scouting, which is an activity like other parish groups but also a parish ministry.

“You don’t have to be Catholic, but there are specific programs for practicing Catholics,” he said. “Monsignor Rob and I both felt that Scouting can play a role in between the religious education of our younger youth on the path toward Confirmation and the teen Emmaus programs, which the parish offers for high school students. It provides something different to the parish community and introduces them to the values that Scouting espouses.”

He pointed out that the programs give young people an appreciation of nature and a reverence for God, who created the natural world.

“Scouting teaches life skills and values that are important and should be instilled in kids,” Prostor said. “It helps connect the dots between what they get at school and in sports and their religious education. He helps kids become productive adults and real citizens in the parish community and the broader world.”

St. Aloysius is “a family pack” for boys and girls. Cub Scouts extend from K-to-fifth grade, and later, when they enter the scouts, they join either a boys or girls troop. The Cub Scouts are parent-led. In BSA Scouts, adults support the older, more mature scouts to lead the younger ones. In fall 2019, the parish began a new Cub Scout Pack, which now has 30 members, and in spring 2020, it restarted Troop 45, which has 15 active scouts.

By Joe Pisani

BRIDGEPORT— Bagpipes played outside St. Augustine Cathedral, the worshippers were bedecked in many shades of green, Mr. and Mrs. Shamrock brought up the gifts, and the Lauralton Hall Choir brought their ethereal voices to the diocese’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Mass.

Spirits were high and the conversation was lively on an overcast morning as more than 100 St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee members and other leaders turned up for the 8:30 am Mass to start the parade day with prayer and worship.

“It is good that we can be together again. I want to thank all of you for coming to this Mass. It is a beautiful way to begin festivities,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano who celebrated the Mass along with Father Art Mollenhauer, pastor and rector of St. Augustine Cathedral, and Father Frank Hoffman, Vicar for Clergy in the diocese.

The bishop told those in attendance that he would pray for them and ask God’s blessing for the day, and he encouraged them to “walk in the footsteps of St. Patrick” by placing their trust in God, not merely in their own authority or achievements.

In the prayer of the faithful, the congregation prayed for peace in Ireland, and for the souls of past Parade Grand Marshals Peter Bellew, Billy Carroll, Ted Lovely, and Peg O’Connor. They also prayed  that the many members of  the Irish diaspora around the world see themselves in those who are suffering today.

In his homily the bishop reflected on the Gospel of Luke (5:1-11) in which after preaching from a  boat along the shore,  Jesus asks Simon Peter to return to deeper water to resume fishing. Peter answers that they’ve caught nothing after fishing all night, but he lowers the nets once again and in in return hauls in great numbers of fish.

“We are hearing an extraordinary story. Fishermen who have come from generations of fishermen are taking the advice of a carpenter,” said the bishop who noted that great trust in the Lord yielded a great catch.

He said that St. Patrick teaches us the same lesson because he had the trust to return to Ireland, a land where he had earlier been enslaved. In doing so, “St. Patrick brought the message of Christ  who received the faith and have been a bulwark of faith for centuries in Europe and beyond.”

The bishop said St. Patrick’s day is a time for all of us to ask ourselves an important question, “Do we trust in ourselves alone or in God’s providence and mercy?”

He said that “when are prayers are not answered, it’s tempting to think we know better than God or to turn away in disappointment.

“We live in a world that is not much different from Patrick’s, a world interested in power and subjugation of others by those who think they are in charge.  The faithful life finds its anchor in Jesus and trusts in him.”

The Irish Blessing, “May the road rise up to meet you,”  was sung as the recessional hymn by the Lauralton Hall Choir under the direction of Dr. Bill Atwood, director of the diocesan music ministry. Following Mass, Bishop Caggiano greeted the faithful on the steps of the Cathedral and many asked to have their photo take with him.

BRIDGEPORT- “Reconciliation Monday” will once again be held in the diocese on Monday, April 3, 2023 during Holy Week.

A total of 25 parishes located throughout the diocese will offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation  from 3-9 pm, so that the lay faithful may experience God’s mercy as Holy Week begins.

Confessions will be heard both in the afternoon and evenings, so that everyone who wishes to receive the sacrament can do so before the Easter Triduum.

“I ask all the faithful to consider participating in this unique opportunity to receive the gift of forgiveness that only Christ can give. The Lord wishes to free each of us from the burden of our sins. Should we not then use this time to shed the baggage of our sins and accept His freedom with joy?” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.

According to Monsignor Robert Kinnally,  vicar general of the diocese, the bishop has asked pastors to ensure that penitents have the option of confessing anonymously or face-to-face. COVID protocols will be left to the discretion of each Pastor.

Last year, thousands across the diocese turned out for Reconciliation Monday. Many people also took to diocesan social media to encourage each other to attend confession, sharing their experiences from last year’s Reconciliation Monday.

“Many people have misconceptions about what Confession really is. It is not solely a spiritual exercise during which you tell the priest your sins. Rather, it is a profound encounter with the Lord Jesus, who through the words and actions of the priest, meets us in our sinfulness and forgives, liberates and empowers us with the Holy Spirit so that we can go forth and sin no more,” said the bishop after last year’s Reconciliation Monday.

Reconciliation Monday” will be hosted from 3 pm to 9 pm at the following parishes:

Deanery A: Queen of Peace (Bridgeport)
St. Ann Parish: 481 Brewster Street, Bridgeport *
St. Augustine Cathedral: 359 Washington Avenue, Bridgeport *
St. Mary Parish: 25 Sherman Street, Bridgeport *

* : Confesiones disponible en español

Deanery B: Mystical Rose (Shelton and Stratford)
St. James Parish: 2110 Main Street, Stratford
St. Lawrence Parish: 505 Shelton Avenue, Shelton
St. Mark Parish: 500 Wigwam Lane, Stratford

Deanery C: Queen of Martyrs (Monroe, Newtown and Trumbull)
St. Catherine of Siena Parish: 200 Shelton Road, Trumbull
St. Rose of Lima Parish: 46 Church Hill Road, Newtown

Deanery D: Our Lady, Queen of Confessors (Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, Sherman)
St. Edward the Confessor Parish: 21 Brush Hill Road, New Fairfield
St. Joseph Parish: 163 Whisconier Road, Brookfield
St. Joseph Parish: 8 Robinson Avenue, Danbury *

* : Confesiones disponible en español a las 3-5 pm.

Deanery E: Seat of Wisdom (Georgetown, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston and Wilton)
Our Lady of Fatima Parish: 229 Danbury Road, Wilton
St. Mary Parish: 55 Catoonah Street, Ridgefield

Deanery F: Queen Assumed Into Heaven (Easton, Fairfield and Westport)
Assumption Parish: 98 Riverside Avenue, Westport
Our Lady of the Assumption Parish: 545 Stratfield Avenue, Fairfield
St. Thomas Aquinas Parish: 1719 Post Road, Fairfield

Deanery G: Mother of Divine Grace (Darien, New Canaan and Norwalk)
St. Aloysius Parish: 21 Cherry Street, New Canaan
St. Matthew Parish: 216 Scribner Avenue, Norwalk
St. Thomas More Parish: 374 Middlesex Road, Darien

Deanery H: Cause of Our Joy (Stamford)
Sacred Heart Parish: 37 Schuyler Avenue, Stamford
St. Benedict Parish: 1 St. Benedict Circle, Stamford *
St. Cecilia-St. Gabriel Parish: 1184 Newfield Avenue, Stamford

* : Confesiones disponible en español

Deanery I: Mary, Mother of the Church (Greenwich)
St. Catherine of Siena-St. Agnes Parish: 4 Riverside Avenue, Greenwich
St. Mary Parish: 178 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich
St. Michael the Archangel Parish: 469 North Street, Greenwich

FAIRFIELD—The total annual economic impact of Fairfield University is more than $987 million, according to the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges (CCIC) 2023 Economic Impact Study. The university’s economic impact was measured in terms of both the direct and the induced economic impact of the university’s activity on the local economy.

Direct spending, defined as the amount of money spent directly by the university, its employees, students, alumni, and visitors, was valued at over $589 million, with $123 million contributed by employees alone, and above $56 million generated with direct spending by students and visitors.

The induced economic impact — the additional employment and expenditures of local industries that result because of direct spending — was valued at nearly $400 million.

Included in the total amount is the opportunity that Fairfield University brings to the region with 7,171 jobs created, and the impact of more than 13,000 Fairfield University alumni who call Connecticut home.

“Fairfield University continues to serve as a powerful resource to our state’s economic success,” said Vice President of Marketing and Communication Jennifer Anderson ’97, MBA’02. “We have invested in expanding the University’s nationally ranked programs, enhancing our learning, living, and research spaces, and offering a rigorous associate’s degree-level education to promising students in underserved communities in our region. Fairfield alumni who make Connecticut their home after graduation are making a significant impact in many high demand fields across our state.”

The 2023 report on the economic impact of the state’s 15 non-profit independent colleges and universities used FY ’21 data to present an analysis of payrolls, spending for goods and services, the spending of students, faculty, staff, and visitors, as well as indirect and induced job creation, and spending that occurs because of the presence of these institutions in their communities. The study found that Connecticut’s non-profit independent institutions of higher education generate a total impact of $16.52 billion to the state’s economy, representing a direct economic impact of $10.1 billion in direct institutional spending for employee spending, university purchases, capital expenditures, student, visitor, and alumni spending, as well as another $6.4 billion in induced spending.

“The non-profit independent higher education sector is a key driver in Connecticut’s economy,” said Jennifer Widness, president of the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges (CCIC). “Collectively, our member institutions are economic engines in this state, serving as magnets attracting students and their families, alumni, and tourists that all spend money locally yet use minimal municipal services. They are large employers in the communities (the largest, in some instances) and collectively employ nearly 30,000 people statewide.”

Founded in 1932, the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges (CCIC) is an association that represents 15 accredited nonprofit independent colleges and universities in Connecticut. CCIC provides public policy leadership and support of higher education, fosters cooperative efforts among colleges and universities and serves as a liaison between the state and the independent institutions. Visit CCIC at

How do you go from praying with the faithful here in the diocese and the surrounding area, to praying with believers on every continent, all over the world?

For Sacred Beauty, an Approved Association of the Faithful in the Diocese of Bridgeport, it involved no international travel, no promotional campaign, and less than no budget – and it began when the prayer of the Church came face to face with a global pandemic.

“Sacred Beauty had always prayed the Liturgy of the Hours ourselves,” co-founder Dr. Paul Chu said, “and brought it with us – either Evening Prayer or Night Prayer, depending on the time of day – to all the public Eucharistic Holy Hours we led. When the pandemic struck, we suspended all public ministry, and focused on praying the full Divine Office together, aloud, every day.”

A bit of backdrop: as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Liturgy of the Hours “is the very prayer which Christ himself together with his Body addresses to the Father…  [it] is intended to become the prayer of the whole People of God,” to be prayed by “all the faithful as much as possible.”

Val Tarantino, co-founder of Sacred Beauty, noted, “As part of Vatican II, the Office was revised specifically to accommodate the needs of clergy and laity alike. This was integral to the universal call to holiness – which is the foundation for the empowerment of the laity, as the Council envisioned it.”

According to Dr. Roger Duncan, who taught at the former St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford, “Years ago, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Cardinal Stafford, told me that one of the most important things lay people can do is to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Yet so little has happened since.”

For Sacred Beauty, this was a challenge – and an opportunity.

“Outside of the Mass and Eucharistic Adoration, the Divine Office is the way the Church prays together,” Chu, who also taught at St. John Fisher, added. “We thought we should share some of our prayer online, to foster a community of prayer and contemplation for ourselves and others.”

Yet more was still needed.

“Recording in a sacred space is integral to our work,” Tarantino said. “Our authority to put our work online rests on two bases alone: that we are speaking the words of Scripture and the saints, and, even more, because we are there with our Eucharistic Lord, immediately in front of the tabernacle, praying to Him and asking Him to join our prayer to His.”

This involved finding an appropriate sacred space. Months passed. In August 2021, a door opened for Sacred Beauty – quite literally. Walking by the water in West Haven, the two founders had stopped to pray outside a church, when the apparently locked door came open under minimal pressure, onto an acoustically perfect, contemplative worship space. As it happened, the priest in charge of the parish was a former Episcopalian cleric whose daughter had been a regular adorer at Sacred Beauty Holy Hours. By October, the Sacred Beauty YouTube ( was posting Evening Prayer and the Office of Readings every day online.

“No promotion, no launch strategy – we just committed to the prayer and put the rest in the hands of God – which, by its nature, means beginning slowly.” Chu said. “Yet now, just in the last week, we’ve had people reach out to us from India, Austria, Norway, Mauritius, England, the Philippines, and more. Over time, we’ve added readings in the spirit and mind of the Church – from the saints and recent popes, poetry and literary writing, as well as original sacred music.  If we can increase our subscriptions, we hope that more people will be able to find this prayer – so much depends on the YouTube algorithm.

“Of course, it is easy to attract hits with politics, ideology, apocalyptic rhetoric, or claims of prodigies – all of which foment anger and fear among believers and invite ridicule from the world,” Tarantino said. “Consecrating a small channel of cyberspace as monastic is the experiment that hasn’t been tried.

“For instance, a small thing – we offer ‘monastic hospitality’ to everyone who prays together. We reply to every comment with as much warmth, welcome and gratitude as we can offer. We have received no trolling – on the contrary, our commenters are extremely insightful, engaged and affirming, in some cases reaching out to us in real spiritual friendship.”

In the midst of today’s online atmosphere, a charitable, peaceful comment box – surely the hand of God at work.

By Jen Hanley

STAMFORD— Although the Catholic Academy of Stamford (CAS) was opened six years ago, its roots run deep in the Stamford community and the lives of Catholic families in the area who are grateful to pass it on to the next generation.

Many parents who attended Catholic schools as kids are now sending their children to the Catholic Academy of Stamford, which was formed in 2017 when parish-based grammar schools were merged to create one flagship Catholic school. They are grateful to advance the legacy and tradition that CAS represents as it builds strong foundations for their children in academics and in faith.

Maureen Garvey Forde, a CAS parent of a PreK-3 student said, “My family roots run deep with Catholic school in Stamford, and we are very proud of it. My five siblings and myself attended St. Cecilia’s, St. Gabriel’s Middle School and (Trinity Catholic High School), and we are grateful for the lessons learned and the memories made at each of those schools. There is something very special that my daughter Katie walks the same hallways as myself and her aunts and uncles and she is also learning the same Catholic values we were taught.”

Other CAS parents attended Catholic school in Stamford together as kids, including John Murphy and Kristen Delmonico. John and Kristen were in the same classes together at St. Cecilia’s and now their sons are in the same kindergarten class, in the same school building their parents were schooled in.

“It’s hard to put into words the feeling of your child becoming friends with children of people that you yourself met in the very same classrooms at the very same place. Friendships you have made which turned more into extended family. The warm and welcoming environment has not changed since I walked the halls over 30 years ago,” Delmonico said.

Murphy added that “having attended Catholic school in Stamford for kindergarten through 12th grade, I strongly believe in the importance of faith, family and community. We feel blessed to have our son Jack attend CAS, where creating relationships within the Catholic community is exemplified. CAS provides our child with the opportunity to build strong foundations for life-long learning and lasting friendships.”

Kate Thomas, a CAS parent of PreK 3 student, noted that “There is something about having the same  group of friends from kindergarten through eighth grade and beyond…They are the ones that know you through all phases of your life and with you have more shared experiences than you can count. It has been so amazing now running into parents in the CAS parking lot that I went to school with – not only from my class, but ones above and below my grade – as well as their siblings, cousins, and now married families. We are all giving our children the same chance to have this life-long opportunity at friendships, education and faith that we had. It is so easy to strike up a conversation or ask for advice from someone you know has the same values and goals for their children. Its returning to a safe place and a place we know our children will be nurtured as they grow in the community of the Church.”

Laura Smith, parent of a CAS PreK3 student said that “We knew CAS was the right place for our daughter the second we walked through the doors. We instantly felt that this school was a happy little safe place for our family. My sisters and I attended St. Cecilia’s, St. Gabriel’s and (Trinity) and the best part about it was the sense of community and values it instilled in us. This was very important to us when choosing a school for our daughter.”

Another parent praised the flagship Catholic school, saying, “The ability to introduce, educate, and continuously reinforce faith into our children’s lives is something that we, as parents, sought when moving back to Stamford, Connecticut. Through their low student-to-teacher ratio, tight-knit community, and integration with St. Cecilia-St. Gabriel Parish, we found that home in the Catholic Academy of Stamford. Each of our kids has attended and thoroughly enjoyed their time at school, while making lifelong friendships in the process. We couldn’t be happier with our experience.”

Eric Lenhart, CAS parent of an eighth grader, fifth grader and fourth grader, said, “Our Catholic school roots run deep. I was a student at St. Ann’s, Our Lady Star of the Sea and (Trinity). I was taught in a nurturing environment that not only emphasized academics, but also developed morality and Catholic values. The sense of community was and is a huge part of my experience. I have made lifelong friendships as both a student and a parent through Stamford Catholic schools. It was important to me and my family that we provide this Catholic education experience to our three daughters. The Catholic Academy of Stamford has exceeded our expectations and set the foundation for my children’s academic and spiritual growth.”

Angelica Cicchesi, parent of a CAS kindergartener and a PreK-4 student, said, “My husband and I decided to send our children to CAS because we are products of the Catholic school system ourselves and recognize the solid foundation the system creates. We wanted to give our children the same opportunity we were afforded because we value the individual attention our son and daughter receive while in a group atmosphere. The entire faculty and staff are committed to each and every student. They foster a safe, caring and respectful environment that is felt the moment you walk into the school. The sense of support, family, and community that CAS gives you is immeasurable and for that we are so grateful!”

The Catholic Academy of Stamford community roots run deep, and that together with the work being done present day has built strong foundations for this generation and for many future generations to come.

To view CAS Legacy photos, click here.

BRIDGEPORT—“Jesus fulfills his ongoing presence on earth through our lives, our crosses, our hands,” said Fr. Peter Le Jacq, to area hospital and healthcare professionals at the 27th Annual Mass for Catholic Healthcare Workers at St. Augustine Cathedral.

Fr. Le Jacq M.D., a physician and Maryknoll priest who was the special consultant to Pope John Paul II on AIDS in East Africa, told healthcare workers that suffering is unavoidable in our lives and that Jesus himself experienced anxiety and suffering “through his arrest, torture and crucifixion.”

More than 100 physicians, nurses and other health workers turned out for the annual Mass and brunch that followed at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield.

In his reflection on the vocation of healthcare, Fr. Le Jacq said that we may not always understand suffering, but it has redemptive value when offered in union with Jesus’ own suffering on the Cross.

“As healthcare workers we feel the full human pain of our crosses, but there is a resurrection in every cross,” he said, adding that the unavoidable suffering in our own lives will lead to good, just as the suffering of Jesus led to our salvation.

He pointed out that many physicians and healthcare workers themselves “have been and will be on the receiving end of caring for the sick.”

“Sickness and crosses in our own life can be a great help in serving the sick,” he said, “There is a connection between the crosses of all those who suffer.”

Fr. Le Jacq, who graduated from Cornell University Medical College and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ireland and served as a physician in Tanzania and as a professor at Bugando Medical Center, said that people come to healthcare careers for many reasons, but “the perfect motivation is when we serve Jesus Christ in those who are suffering.”

Throughout his talk he referred to scriptural passages that offer support and perspective on the vocation of healing, and he urged healthcare workers to be open to the great surprise of the experience of God’s unlimited love in their lives.

Referring to Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus, Fr. Le Jacq said that God works with those who are “available” and gives them the opportunity to be his presence on earth. Just at the Shepherds were the first to hear Christ was born because they were vigilant watching their sheep, healthcare workers are “on call” to recognize and serve Christ in the sick.

Photos by Amy Mortensen

Fr. Le Jacq said that healthcare workers can find a model of now to support and care for one another as professionals in the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth. When Elizabeth was pregnant, Mary went to her and provided understanding and support.

“The Lord accompanies us every moment in our lives of faith and service in the experience of caring for the sick. The Lord will help those with vocations fulfill their healing mission,” he said, encouraging healthcare workers to always “listen to and ponder” the voice of those who are suffering.

The morning began with the Catholic Healthcare Workers Mass, also known at the White Mass, with Bishop Frank J. Caggiano as the principal celebrant joined by priest chaplains in from area healthcare institutions.

“We gather today to pray for healthcare worker involved in the ministry of healing, and we ask the Lord to continue blessing your ministry, your courage and perseverance in a time of stress and discouragement as you are doing the work of Christ every day,” the Bishop said as he welcomed those in attendance.

In his homily the Bishop reflected on the gospel account of the Samaritan woman who Jesus speaks to at the well. He said that seen through the eyes of the people at that time, “the Samaritan woman had three strikes against her,” because she was part of an outcast group, had been married five times, and had no social status as a woman.

While others gave up on her or scorned her, Jesus did not. “No one but Jesus knew that she sought healing from the slavery of her own sinful choices,” the Bishop said, noting that Jesus brought waters of “hope, mercy, love and forgiveness of heart.”

He praised healthcare workers for standing by those who are suffering, because in doing so, they “take the place of Christ at the well and bring healing.”

“Our vocation in baptism is to be ambassadors of Christ, and bring healing to those society considers to have struck out. Thank you for being ambassadors in your mission of healthcare. Christ lives in you,” he said.

As he directly addressed healthcare workers from the center of the altar, the Bishop acknowledged that it has not been an easy year for them given the stress of the Covid crisis and said he hopes that the newly formed St. Luke’s Guild will be a source of strength and spiritual growth.

“The time has come for the Church to be of great service to you, work with you and support your ministry of healing,” he said.

The bishop also spoke briefly at the end of the brunch that followed Mass. He thanked Dr. and Mrs. William and Mary Beth Fessler who served as chair couple, and he presented special recognition awards to Dr. Thomas Flynn, Hope Carter, and William F. Stephanak, D.D.S. , who guided the White Mass Breakfast in the diocese for over 25 years. (Monsignor William Scheyd accepted the award on behalf of Dr. Stephanak, who was unable to attend the breakfast.)

“With the St. Luke’s Guild we are beginning a new generation that is built on the work that you did and the leadership and vision you provided,” the bishop said. He said the Guild will help healthcare workers to share their experience of faith in the face of the many “moral and ethical dilemmas” they will face.

The new St. Luke’s Guild will be formally inaugurated in a Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral on October 15 at 10 a.m. (For further information contact the Special Events Office at: 203.416.1670 or email Pat Hansen at:

Saint Luke Guild Prayer
Loving God, you created us with the capacity to heal,
to restore and to offer peace, hope and love,
through our role in Catholic health care ministry.
Help us to be visible signs of compassion in the world today
— honoring every person we meet who is in need of healing.
When our burdens are heavy, renew us,
and remind us of the blessings
as well as the privilege of our calling.
Reawaken our commitment to the healing ministry
of Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sam (Salvatore ) A. Cingari, Jr., a devoted family man, Founder, Partner and Chief Financial Officer of Grade A Markets and the Cingari Family ShopRite of Southwestern Connecticut, and a prominent figure in the Stamford community, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family, on Wednesday, March 8, 2023.

He was born on October 15, 1930, of Italian immigrants, in Stamford, Conn., and was the youngest of six children. The Cingari family were active members of St. Mary Parish. Sam attended Rogers grammar school and graduated from Stamford High School in 1949. Sam was a lifelong Stamford resident whose boyhood was spent working beside his father who was a grocery peddler. In his teenage years he delivered groceries to many customers of his father’s now small corner market Grade A.

In 1949, Sam left Stamford for the first time to earn a degree in accounting at Bryant College in Smithfield, R.I. It was here that Sam met his wife, Catherine Franco, at church on their first weekend on campus. Sam and Cathy were married on September 1, 1952 and committed their lives to raising a family in their faith and serving their church and larger community. They were married for 66 years. Sam began his career as an accountant for a local accounting firm before joining his father and two brothers at Grade A Market where he worked every day up until his final days.

Sam was predeceased by his parents Salvatore and Rosa Cingari, his beloved wife Catherine (Cathy) Cingari and his siblings Catina Sciaba, Dominick P. Cingari, Joseph Cingari, Rocco Cingari and Mary Cutugno. Sam is survived by his six children, Rosemary, John (Tricia), Michael, Tom (Sue), David(Janine), Mary Donovan (Brian), 15 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren as well as many nieces, nephews and dear friends. Of all the titles Sam possessed, his most precious was his title “Papa” as he was known and loved by his beloved grandchildren, great-grandchildren and all their friends he so graciously welcomed into his home for the famous Sunday cookouts throughout the years.

As a lifelong Stamford resident, Sam was active at ShopRite/Grade A Markets, where he was always found greeting customers in the aisles and mentoring employees but also serving the people in the greater Stamford community at large. Sam was the driving force behind the customer-centered culture that is the trademark of the now -12 Cingari Family ShopRite supermarkets across Connecticut. As a grocer and philanthropist, Sam was especially dedicated to fighting hunger, a passion that eventually led to his being named Chairman of the Board of the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County. Sam and his brothers were recognized as Corporate Citizens for their companies’ lifelong contributions enabling the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County to feed the hungry throughout their community. In 2003, they were also honored as Ambassadors to Humanity.

In addition, Sam served his community as an active member of the Board of Directors for St. John’s Towers, the low-income housing for the City of Stamford since 1992. He was also a member of the Board of Directors for St. Joseph’s Hospital from 1985-2000 and the YMCA for 25 years. Sam was a member of the Connecticut Grand Opera and Orchestra Board of Directors and a sponsor of the New York Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center for 45 years. He was honored as The Stamford Citizen Of The Year in 2001 and State Street Debating Society’s Man Of The Year in 2001. In addition, Sam was honored by the Knights of Columbus as the Grand Marshall of the 2006 Columbus Day Parade.

Sam and his family became active members of Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in Stamford, established in their neighborhood in 1964. Sam dedicated his time, talent and treasure assisting in the building of a church, school and parish community. Sam was a member of the first Parish Council and was elected Trustee in 1990 and served in this capacity for over 25 years. In 2005, Sam was awarded the St. Augustine Medal of Service by the Most Reverend William E. Lori of the Diocese of Bridgeport and in 2018, Pope Francis bestowed upon Sam the Papal honor of Knight of the Order of St. Sylvester Pope, for living a life of exemplary faith and excelling in business and society, which was awarded to him by the Most Reverend Bishop J. Caggiano of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Sam and Cathy Cingari have left a remarkable legacy steeped in virtue and values of faith, family, humble leadership, care and serving in Fairfield County, Conn. They have served and supported many organizations, and their children and grandchildren continue to honor their legacy. A legacy best described in the sacred words of Scripture so dear to Sam: “If God has been generous with you, he will expect you to serve him well. But if he has been more than generous, he will expect you to serve him even better” – Luke 12:48

Calling hours will be private. There will be a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Mary’s Catholic Church 566 Elm St., Stamford, Conn. on Wednesday, March 15, at 11 am. Burial will follow at St. John’s Cemetery in Darien immediately following Mass.

During this most solemn holy season of Lent, flower arrangements can not be accepted at the funeral home or the Church. Thank you for your understanding.

The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, you consider a donation in Sam’s honor to: The Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County, 461 Glenbrook Road, Stamford, CT 06906, or via

Arrangements are under the direction of Thomas M. Gallagher Funeral Home (203)-359-9999. To send online condolences to the Cingari family, please visit