Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

BRIDGEPORT—City of Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim shows the city’s support for St. Vincent’s Medical Center’s Swim Across the Sound with the Paint the City Blue campaign. The mayor will be unveiling this year’s design for the Paint the City Blue banners. The ceremony will be held by McLevy Green at the corner of Bank Street and Broad Street on Wednesday, July 28, 2021, at 11 a.m. Mayor Ganim will be sharing information about the City’s Banner program, which encourages businesses and individuals to sponsor streetlights in the city with a personalized banner in honor of or in memory of a loved one, with proceeds helping cancer patients in our community.

For more than 33 years, the Swim Across the Sound has taken place and challenged swimmers to swim 15.5 miles from Port Jefferson to Captain’s Cove in Bridgeport. Millions of dollars have been raised that have benefited local cancer patients and their families. St. Vincent’s Medical Center is holding the Swim Marathon as a hybrid event this year. Groups of swimmers will take to the Long Island Sound as part of the live event on August 7, 2021, with a virtual challenge being held August 1 – 31 for anyone to participate from the location of their choice completing the challenge by participating in one or more of their favorite activities, such as running, biking or swimming.

WHO:

Dianne Auger, Host, Hartford HealthCare Regional Vice President Strategy & Regional Development, Foundation President & CEO

Joe Ganim, Mayor, City of Bridgeport

William Jennings, Hartford HealthCare Fairfield Region President

Ann Gorton, St. Vincent’s Medical Center Emergency Department, Captain of Team ‘Code Blue Fish’

WHAT:

Swim Across the Sound Street Banner Unveiling

WHERE:               

Corner of Bank Street and Broad Street, Bridgeport, CT 06604

(Across the street from Margaret E. Morton Government Complex)

WHEN:

Wednesday, July 28 at 11 a.m.

WHY:   

To help raise awareness for the SWIM Marathon, which raises funds to support 44 oncology programs and services and provide financial assistance to cancer patients in our community. Interviews will be available with the speakers after the event.

For more information, please contact: Christine.Howard@hhchealth.org or call 475.210.7308.

FAIRFIELD—Connecticut’s COVID-19 Vaccination Vans are on the road and coming to Notre Dame High School in Fairfield to provide no-cost, walk-up vaccinations.

The highly visible yellow Vaccination Vans, provided by the CT Department of Public Health and run by Griffin Health, can administer 100-125 shots per day in a six-hour window of time.  The shots are available without appointment.  It is not necessary to have health insurance or a state-issued ID:  all residents are welcome and no one will be turned away for lack of insurance or ID.

Choosing to get vaccinated is an additional powerful tool in our fight against the COVID-19 virus.  

The vaccine will protect you from becoming seriously ill from COVID19, 

The vaccine will protect your family and friends from becoming seriously ill from COVID19.

The vaccine will allow you to once again gather safely with your loved ones and neighbors.

The vaccine will allow you to get back to a sense of normalcy.

Look for our bright yellow Mobile Vaccination Team SUVs at Notre Dame High School in Fairfield.  

DATE:  Thursday, July 29, 2021

LOCATION: Notre Dame High School

220 Jefferson Street

Fairfield, CT  06825

203-372-6521

Clinic will be held in the Cafeteria

TIME: 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

The DPH Vaccination Vans are part of the State’s effort to vaccinate as many Connecticut residents as possible.  More than half the state’s population has received at least one shot since vaccinations began in December 2020.  

For more information on vaccinations and COVID-19 visit ct.gov/covidvaccine.

The Olympic Games are known to feature the greatest athletes in the world, and this summer many of those athletes whose God-given talents are on display arrive in Tokyo formed in some way by their Catholic faith or education.

Clockwise from top left: Gymnast Grace McCallum (2nd from right) lines up with teammates Kara Eaker, Sunisa Lee and Jade Carey as the U.S. gymnastic women’s team prepares to compete at an event Oct. 1, 2019, in Stuttgart, Germany; Matthew Centrowitz Jr. runs during Rio 2016; fencer Mariel Zagunis holds an American flag at the 2014 World Fencing Championships; gymnast Simone Biles waves to the crowd at the Rio games in 2016. (photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images; Vasily Maximov/AFP via Getty Images; Ricardo Augusto, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons; CC BY-SA 2.0; Agencia Brasil Fotografias, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The U.S. gymnastics team features two Catholic champions who have been open about their Catholic faith. Black Catholic Simone Biles returns to the Olympics as a champion with “the Greatest of All Time” status. Biles pushed herself to even greater heights of excellence, demonstrating in May her mastery of the extremely difficult and dangerous Yurchenko double pike vault, which many suspect she may deploy at the Summer Games in Tokyo.

Biles’ fellow Catholic and gymnast Grace McCallum, who travels with a rosary and a cross from her grandmother, told Relevant Radio’s Morning Air, “My Catholic faith has been such a huge part of my journey and keeps me grounded in who I am.”

McCallum said she prays before meets and practices, remembering her parents’ advice to “compete for an audience of one,” keeping Jesus Christ front and center. She also prays the Prayer to St. Michael right before hitting the mat, “to give me that last little bit of strength before I go up.”

“[My faith] makes me feel at peace, which is why I compete with a rosary and cross from my grandma when I travel,” she said.

Faith also plays a key role in the lives of some of the Olympic runners in this year’s games.

Long-distance runner Galen Rupp, reported by Runner’s World magazine to be a devout Catholic and a graduate of Portland, Oregon’s Central Catholic High School, is headed for his fourth Olympics, after winning a silver medal in London (2012) and a bronze at Rio de Janeiro (2016).

Sydney McLaughlin, an outspoken Christian and graduate of Union Catholic Regional High School in New Jersey, gave “all the glory to God” after setting a new women’s world record for 400-meter hurdles in just under 52 seconds.

“Honestly, this season, just working with my new coach and my new support system, it’s truly just faith and trusting the process,” she told NBC after her win.

“I couldn’t ask for anything more. Truly, it is all a gift from God.”

McLaughlin explained that while there are a lot of things an athlete cannot see coming in preparing for the Olympics, it was key to have both a “childlike faith that everything is going to work out” and a coach who understands that.

Middle-distance runner Matthew Centrowitz Jr. is returning to the Olympics to defend his title as the reigning champion for the 1,500-meter race. Centrowitz comes from a Catholic family remembered for their faithful witness, especially as a family attending church together.

“He certainly was a respected member of our community and a role model,” said Julie Scheide, Centrowitz’s ninth-grade catechism teacher at St. Andrew by the Bay parish in Annapolis, Maryland.

“I wish him all the luck in the world,” she said. “He’s a hometown boy, and we love him.”

Humility in Excellence

Mariel Zagunis, a four-time Olympic champion fencer (sabre) and first American to win a gold medal in fencing, aims to cut down the competition once again in Tokyo. Raised Catholic, Zagunis at the outset of her career credited the values she learned from the Valley Catholic Schools in Oregon for her success.

“Going to a small Catholic school has helped me in every aspect of my life,” Zagunis said in a 2004 interview with the Register. “It helped because of the moral support of the teachers and staff and the rest of the students, who mostly come from good families.”

Sister Adele Marie Altenhofen, of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon, who is the president of the Valley Catholic Schools, said Zagunis has really demonstrated the school’s values of “living valiantly, striving for excellence, honoring the unique gifts of each person, and celebrating God and life.”

“She’s a very humble person,” Sister Adele said, noting that Zagunis continues to come back to the school to speak with students and now sends her daughter to the school.

Valley Catholic’s unique formation likely had a positive impact on the world-class fencer.

The school’s campus includes both an early-learning center for babies as young as 6 to 8 weeks old and a nursing home for elder adults. Sister Adele said the school’s philosophy is to teach students to care for life from “cradle to grave” and show the value of life from “the womb to the tomb.”

Strengthening Olympians’ Faith

Curtis Tomasevicz, gold medalist at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver in bobsledding, is now the director of sports performance with USA Bobsled and Skeleton.

He told the Register that the Catholic faith has been a huge part of his life. Because the Olympics are so all-consuming for each athlete in their journey, he said “putting Christ first” really kept him grounded, especially in the face of distractions from competition.

“You can’t separate athletics and my faith; they’re intertwined in so many different ways,” he said, adding that the physical and mental preparations included going to Mass before competitions and praying before the competitions or even just practice.

“In so many ways, it was part of just … my routine every day,” Tomasevicz said.

Former Olympic athlete Rebecca Dussault, a cross-country skier who competed at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, told the Register that the realm of sport does not make many concessions for the lives of faithful Catholics and requires a lot of sacrifices, especially in the journey to the Olympic Games. “I had to get extremely resourceful,” she said, sacrificing team meals on Saturday evening in order to attend the vigil Mass because she had to compete on Sundays.

Dussault said it is important to have coaches behind athletes that understand their core values, especially in individual competition.

“The fullness of the games just presents challenges,” she said, wishing Mass had been more available for athletes in the Olympic Village.

But she said the encouragement she received from Catholics who told her that they were praying for her was very helpful.

Dussault said it was important to shine a light on the virtuous models in sports that are on display at the Olympics and for Catholic Olympic athletes to make their experience a gift to others.

“The formation you receive as an athlete and as disciple in Christ is invaluable in this world that seeks so much comfort and escapism,” she said.

“As an athlete, you can’t be comfortable, and you can’t escape. It gives you the ability for a really unique leadership. It calls us to give back and make sure that we’re forming the next generation of athletes for Christ.”

Peter Jesserer Smith Peter Jesserer Smith is a staff reporter for the National Catholic Register. He covered Pope Francis’s historic visit to the United States in 2015, and to Jerusalem and the Holy Land in 2014. He has reported on the Syrian and Iraqi refugee crisis, including from Jordan and Lebanon on an Egan Fellowship from Catholic Relief Services. Before coming on board the Register in 2013, he was a freelance writer, reporting for Catholic media outlets as the Register and Our Sunday Visitor. He is a graduate of the National Journalism Center and earned a B.A. in Philosophy at Christendom College, where he co-founded the student newspaper, The Rambler, and served as its editor. He comes originally from the Finger Lakes region of New York State.

DANBURY—The Off The Streets program, focused on getting individuals experiencing homelessness established in stable affordable housing, received numerous donations in July, with the help of St. Mary Church volunteers from Bethel.

The program, founded by former St. Mary Deacon Michael Oles more than 10 years ago, is still going strong in the Greater Danbury area and has expanded to include a chapter in Bridgeport. The program has also been established in several other states including Pennsylvania, where Deacon Oles now lives.

“This is a wonderful program to directly help people in a permanent way,” said Deacon Oles, who admittedly is anxious and eager to establish a chapter in every state. “There’s still more work to be done. It requires people to see the face of the homeless Christ in their midst and step up in their own communities to work hand in hand to help the homeless.”

The all-volunteer group works with area social service agencies to identify those they can help.

Candidates must have a source of income, such as a job or disability income and Off The Streets will supply the security deposit directly to the landlord. The organization will deliver furniture and household goods to transform an empty apartment into a home.

“What makes the program so special is that it’s so simple,” said Beth Davis, one of the volunteers helping to collect the items from donors and temporarily place them in a storage unit.

Items donated include chairs, lamps, dressers and mattresses. The volunteer group has added a special touch by including a laundry basket filled with everyday household items such as napkins, paper towels, laundry detergent, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste to help people moving into their new home have some of the necessities to get started.

“You kind of reach a point where you know what people need,” said Ann Leiss, one of the first volunteers recruited by Deacon Oles. In addition to creating some of the welcome baskets, Ann also cares for the volunteers by bringing them home-baked goodies when they gather for donation collections or other events.

Donations are generally accepted on the first Saturday of every month or are requested when there is a specific need or when the units at the two storage facilities in the Danbury area have space to accommodate more items.

“One thing about the pandemic is that people have been going through their homes, so that’s been a bonanza for us,” said Joe Simons, who is the administrator for the Off The Streets program and an active volunteer at the Dorothy Day Hospitality House, a soup kitchen and shelter in Danbury, where he and Deacon Oles both volunteered.

When Deacon Oles was asked to speak about homelessness to a group of middle school religious education students, he asked a man named Rodney, who was experiencing homelessness, to join him and share his story with the students.

“It all started with students’ desire to get a man experiencing homelessness off the streets,” Deacon Oles said.

The students were so moved by Rodney’s plight that they sent money to Deacon Oles to help him. Deacon Oles, who was not experienced in securing housing for others, did eventually find an apartment and paid the security deposit with the students’ funds. Word soon spread that he could help get people out of homelessness and into housing and he received unsolicited contributions from church groups and individuals to enable him to help more people secure housing and so Off The Streets was born.

“I’m happy so many people are so giving in this area,” said Danelle Hill, a Girl Scout troop mom who was with her daughter dropping off welcome baskets with basic household items to be given to families receiving furniture deliveries.

In the past, the crew of volunteers would gather and load up their personal vehicles to deliver furniture and other items to people in need.

There are about 15 core volunteers and many more may come and go depending on schedules and other commitments.

“Usually, enough people turned out,” said Dan Kallberg, a St. Mary parishioner who donated his time to help receive donations and load a truck for delivery that day. “It always has a way of working out.”

Recently, they received a box truck from local business, Good Directions, and now can do multiple deliveries in a day. They also no longer have to delay deliveries due to inclement weather.

“Having a truck takes the weather out of the equation,” said Simons, adding that most deliveries are on Saturday but they will deliver in the week if enough volunteers are available.

The group has helped about 500 families get “off the streets” and about 80 percent remain housed after a year.

“Our philosophy is everyone deserves a chance,” Simons said. “We do not want people to fail.”

Many times, people with minimum wage jobs cannot afford the bigger expense of furniture and set-up so Off The Streets steps in to fill those needs.

“We are able to fill in the missing pieces to get people into housing and supplement what the agencies are doing,” Simons said.

The work is extremely rewarding.

“We get to be there when they move into their place and to see the expressions on their faces when they move in,” he said. “It means the world to them and it is so gratifying to us too.”

By Kathy-Ann Gobin

TRUMBULL—Friday, August 13 will be the first-ever liturgical memorial of Blessed Michael McGivney, the diocesan priest who founded the Knights of Columbus.  He was beatified last October in Hartford in ceremonies led by Joseph Cardinal Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, on behalf of Pope Francis.

St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull will celebrate his feast day with a special Mass at 7 pm on August 13.  A first-class relic of Blessed Michael will be present on the altar, and everyone present will be blessed with the relic. The Litany of Blessed Michael McGivney will be prayed at the Mass, and an ice cream social will follow. Everyone is welcome! No reservations necessary.

(The attached photo is of the stained glass window of Blessed Michael McGivney which was installed at St. Catherine’s last March.  To our knowledge, it is the first stained glass window of him to be installed anywhere in the world following his beatification).

BRIDGEPORT—On Sunday, August 8, 2021, Hartford HealthCare/St. Vincent’s Medical Center will host the 24th Annual Memorial Service celebrating the lives of family members and friends who have been lost to cancer.

The event will take place at Captain’s Cove Seaport in Bridgeport with registration at 8 am and the service from 8:30-9:30 am, open to all, rain or shine. It will consist of a reading of names, musical tributes, inspirational readers and prayers.

To dedicate a flower to be cast into the Sound in memory of your loved one, email: SWIMMemorial@hhealth.org or call Edna Borchetta at: 475.210.6393 by Monday, August 2, to submit your dedication.

BRIDGEPORT—In celebration of its six-year anniversary, Foundations in Education (FIE) wishes to thank donors and friends for their support in advancing its mission of transforming lives through Catholic education in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

FIE began life as the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, an initiative created by The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, which helped make it possible for more than 1,500 students to attend Diocesan Catholic elementary schools in its first year.

Embarking on its seventh year, FIE has awarded more than $18 million in tuition assistance to thousands of students and families who value Catholic education and more than $500,000 in Innovation and Leadership Grants to Catholic School educators.

“We owe such a debt of gratitude to Bishop Caggiano for his courage and vision to launch what is now a beacon of hope for thousands of young Catholic school students, their families, and their teachers,” shared FIE Executive Director Holly Doherty-Lemoine, CFRE.

At its Inaugural Reception, Bishop Caggiano addressed attendees: “This is an historic event in the life of the diocese. You are now partners in a venture that will enable our schools to remain on the cutting edge of innovation in the 21st century.”

On July 14, 2015, Foundations in Education became incorporated as a separate 501(c)3 organization which raises funds throughout the year to provide tuition assistance to diocesan-sponsored Catholic elementary schools to families in need through the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, and to provide funding for competitive grants for teachers and administrators for innovation in education and professional development in leadership.

The founding board of trustees included Bishop Caggiano, Robert Dilenschneider, John Eppolito, R. Bradford Evans, Michael Hanlon, Lawrence Kudlow, Ned Lautenbach, Daniel McCarthy, Anne McCrory, Thomas McInerney, Dr. Julia McNamara, Bernard Reidy, Gerard Robilotti, Joseph Roxe, and Robert Scinto.

Joining the board of trustees since then are David Cappiello, George Coleman, Lisa Ferraro Martino, Timothy FitzPatrick, Leslie Lopez, Andrea Maldon, Michele Mitola, Joseph Purcell, Henry Rondon, Michael Shea, Jennifer St. Victor-de Pinho, Barbara Ripp and Sr. Mary Grace Walsh.

At the recent annual board meeting, Bishop Caggiano thanked the chair, executive director, and all the members of the board for their leadership. “Thank you for your tremendous work in stewardship of the Foundation. In all the years we have worked together, this is one of the shining examples of what we can do together to foster the mission of the Church.”

Board Chair Tom McInerney also acknowledged fellow board members for their continuous support of students and teachers, “The enormity of our work has never been more important than it is today.”

“We accomplished a lot in our first six years,” commented Lemoine. “Now as the foundation looks to the future, the focus is on continuing to develop the extraordinary board of trustees and growing long-term sustainable funding.”

“Projecting ahead six years from now, with the rising cost of Catholic education, we would like to grow our endowment significantly to assure a Catholic Education is available to all who seek it for their children,” Lemoine added.

Foundations in Education is embarking on a strategic planning process to help determine how they can best serve their constituencies in the future. The results will guide the foundation board, staff and donors to best serve schools and their communities in the future.

(To learn more about Foundations in Education, visit www.foundationsineducation.org.)

On July 16th, 2021, the Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, our Holy Father Pope Francis issued a motu proprio addressing the practice of celebrating Mass according to the Roman Missal edited by Pope Saint John XXIII in 1962. It is a liturgical practice that has steadily grown throughout certain parts of the Universal Church and in our Diocese. The norms contained in the new motu proprio significantly restrict the use of the Roman Missal of 1962. The new law requires individual bishops to approve celebrations of the Tridentine Mass

In his letter to priests, released today, the Bishop states that he believes it is important that we the retain the celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of 1962 in the Diocese, provided that future practice is in conformity with the norms of Traditionis Custodes. The bishop indicates that he will take time to consult, draft and promulgate permanent diocesan norms that will address both the pastoral needs of those who have received spiritual nourishment from attending such celebrations of the Mass, while at the same time remaining obedient to the requirements of the law and the wishes of the Holy Father.

The interim procedure outlined at the end of his letter applies to all such celebrations scheduled from Wednesday, July 21, 2021 until the Feast of the Archangels, September 29, 2021. The new permanent norms will be ready for diocesan-wide implementation by the end of September 2021.

Click to read the Bishop’s Letter

FAIRFIELD—For one week early in the summer, sixteen high school students from around the diocese immersed themselves in charitable work, reflection, prayer and instruction as participants in the “Sacred Heart University Journey” Summer Theology Institute. Funded by the Lilly Endowment, this program, now in its fifth and final year, encouraged the youth to become leaders in their parish and community and to discover more about themselves as young Catholics.

The teens gathered each morning on the Sacred Heart campus in Fairfield for breakfast and Mass before embarkng on daily programs with themes such as “A Life of Meaning and Purpose” and “God’s Call to Love, Lead and Serve.” Though coming from diverse backgrounds among eight parishes, they bonded through a shared interest in faith and service.

Focusing on the theme of a journey, the adult facilitators and college-age mentors led the teens in experiences highlighting social justice issues, enhanced by small group discussions and journaling about their faith. According to Dr. Patrick Donovan, the executive director of The Leadership Instutite and a co-facilitator of this program, an important part of a young person’s journey is understanding what the church tells them and what the church asks of them.  “They’re gaining a deeper sense of who they are as young Christians and what is expected of them,” said Donovan. “I’m fascinated by their responses to the activities and real life issues. They are not choosing from a place of ease but from what is right and what is good.”

Such activities included a financial decision-making simulation, a personality inventory which encouraged collaboration, and theological discussions in a socratic seminar format, modeled after the Sacred Heart University course “Catholic Intellectual Tradition.” Teens were challenged in the endeavors to consider questions such as what does social justice look like to you, how can you hold yourself accountable, and where did you find God today. It was their thoughtful and honest answers to these complex topics that most impressed co-facilitator and SHU Campus Minister Valerie Kisselback, who identified this group as very open, intentional, and receptive—even from day one.

“They are really interested in their faith and are sharing so deeply with each other,” she said, referencing their concerns about the pandemic and pressures at school. “After hearing about [different speakers’] faith journeys—all the stories, the twists, the turns—they are learning how to live their own.”

As part of their service component, students put their social justice learning to work one afternoon by making blankets for children in hospitals and shelters, realizing that they could personally affect change and directly impact others. Another day, they filled 130 drawstring bags with necessities such as toothbrushes, socks, tissues, and dry cereal which were later delivered to the Bridgeport Rescue Mission. Donovan also encouraged each teen to take a bag or two home with them to give to someone in need, an activity which profoundly impacted sophomore Travis Simon.

“It feels so good to help people who don’t have much, and it gives me a sense of gratification. I didn’t always think about the plight of the homeless, but now I am much more aware of these issues,” he said.

The combination of faith in action and classroom instruction gave junior Adrianna Barbee a better understanding of scripture and how it affects her personally. “I loved reading the Bible and learning more about the Gospels,” she said. “This has all empowered me on my journey as a young woman to get more involved in my parish.”

In addition to faith exploration and service, participants also had the chance to develop friendships by interacting socially at lunch, during free time, and on a trip one afternoon to The Adventure Park at the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport. Because of these opportunities and the depth of their discussions, Kisselbeck said, “They have created such a sense of community in just a few short days.”

During the closing ceremony, several students spoke of their similar faith journeys, their shared interests, and their responsibility as young Catholics, the purpose behind the original grant. Donovan then left the teens with a final charge: “Take the grace of God with you and be living icons of Christ.”

By Emily Clark

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis offered prayers and expressed his closeness with the people of Germany after severe flooding in the western part of the country claimed the lives of more than 80 people.

“His Holiness remembers in prayer those who lost their lives and expresses to their families his deepest sympathy,” said a telegram sent by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, to German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

“He prays especially for those who are still missing, for the injured and for those who have suffered damage or lost their property due to the forces of nature,” said the message, which was released by the Vatican July 15.

A series of severe rainstorms also struck other countries in Europe, including Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland and Luxembourg, causing massive flooding and mudslides that leveled homes and buildings.

In Germany, authorities had confirmed the death of 81 people by early July 16. While rescue workers continue working to save people stranded on rooftops, an estimated 1,300 people remain unaccounted for, The New York Times reported.

Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, president of the German bishops’ conference, also issued a statement July 15, expressing his hope that the missing “will be found unharmed, and that all those in need, who have lost their belongings or the roof over their heads, will receive comfort, hope and help.”

“My heartfelt thanks and all my respect go to all those who have been tirelessly and selflessly providing help since yesterday, often risking their own lives in the process,” Bishop Bätzing said, especially, “the rescue workers, the fire department, the police and all the people who help and stand by others.”

By Junno Arocho Esteves | Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Try a little tenderness. That’s basically how Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, 73, summarized Pope Francis’ vision for what older people, their grandchildren and friends should do to change the world after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cardinal, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, used the word “tenderness” nine times when he presented to the press the pope’s message for the celebration July 25 of the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly.

Pope Francis did not use the word at all in his 1,800-word message, but it came through as he acknowledged the suffering, loneliness and fear many older people experienced during the worst of the pandemic, and also when he reminded older Catholics that, like him, they still have a vocation to share the faith and care for others.

The Vatican as a whole, not just the pope or Cardinal Farrell’s office, are making a big deal out of the world day. Pope Francis will celebrate Mass with older people, his message — as a text and as a video — was available in eight languages by June 23 and the dicastery has published a 43-page pastoral kit with suggestions for homilies, for prayers of intercession and for action.

The action focus is all about tenderness, too: Visit your grandparents and any older person living alone. Offer them a ride to Mass. Take them a flower. And, for those who cannot go to church, take them the Eucharist.

“In places where health emergency measures still make it impossible to visit in person, love can use imagination to find ways of reaching lonely elderly people by phone or social media,” the pastoral kit says.

That is precisely what Maria Sofia Soli has been doing since March 2020 when Italy initiated its first COVID-19 lockdown.

Soli, who is 88, volunteers with the Community of Sant’Egidio in monitoring the situation of about 6,500 people who are over 80 and living alone in Rome. The project involves regular telephone calls and home visits, but also organizing outings and celebrations. Since Soli could not make her regular phone calls from the Sant’Egidio offices during lockdown, she told reporters June 22, younger community members set up her computer so she could keep track of the calls from home.

At the presentation of Pope Francis’ message, Soli said she and her peers are on board with the pope’s focus on helping humanity come out of the pandemic better off.

“We must try to direct humanity toward a better future with less selfishness and conflict and more fellowship. Yes, the future,” she said. “The elderly do not only look to the past. Neither fatigue nor frailty can prevent us from dreaming for the sake of our grandchildren and for the generations to come.”

Calling Catholics around the world to mark the day after “dramatic months of difficulty,” Cardinal Farrell told reporters, Pope Francis invites people to embrace tenderness, especially toward the elderly, who suffered so much during the pandemic.

But, he said, the day also is about “the tenderness that grandparents show toward their grandchildren, of the solid guide that the elderly can be for many disoriented children, especially in a time like the one we are living in, in which personal interaction has become rare.”

“Tenderness is not just a private feeling, one that soothes wounds, but a way of relating to others, which should also be experienced in public,” Cardinal Farrell said. “We have become accustomed to living alone, to not hugging each other, to considering the other as a threat to our health. Our societies, the pope tells us in ‘Fratelli Tutti,’ are now fragmented.”

“Tenderness has a social value,” the cardinal insisted. “It is a remedy we all need, and our elderly are those who can provide it. In a frayed and hardened society emerging from the pandemic, not only is there a need for vaccines and economic recovery — albeit fundamental — but also for relearning the art of relationships. In this, grandparents and the elderly can be our teachers. This is also why they are so important.”

By Cindy Wooden | Catholic News Service

A delicate brooch.

A lock of hair.

A family christening gown.

A much-prayed rosary.

These ordinary items belonged to a saint.

To St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, specifically, the first native-born American saint.

Photo: ‘Seton Family Treasures’ include a variety of familial heirlooms. (photo: Courtesy of the Seton Shrine)

Marking the 200th anniversary of her death, the Sisters of Charity of New York presented the Seton Shrine in Emmitsburg, Maryland, with a collection of relics from their foundress. This new exhibit, “Seton Family Treasures,” enhances visitors’ understanding of the many roles she held in her 46 years of earthly life.

Coming into contact with the actual items of a saint, even through glass, makes the saint real. The material reality prevents one from keeping the saint at an arm’s distance as a statue or a painting. Very often, when we think of relics, we think of slivers of things, but here at the shrine through November, one can come face-to-face with whole things, whole things held, used and representative of a holy soul. The brooch, pendants and locks of hair demand we see this woman as a physical person of flesh and blood and her faith as something more.

These objects reveal a unique individual with a unique relationship with God. Like all saints’ lives, her story also provides a road map to Christ for all of us still in exile to follow. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s life is an ongoing story of being invited deeper and deeper in and saying “Yes” to the invitation.

The shrine already boasts an extensive collection of relics from her life on permanent display. One could learn St. Elizabeth’s story from the videos and regular items and get a sense of her growth in holiness over the course of her life. However, the new exhibit brings the faithful into more intimate contact.

Old and new exhibits taken together reveal the saint as a romantic, joy-filled, dedicated, determined and ever-resilient woman, one who was dedicated to her husband, children, God and, by extension, to the poor and marginalized of the new world. She lived six of the seven sacraments in her lifetime.

Saints make the ordinary of life a celebration of ordinary time.

Starting with her life as a young bride, the gold filigree bow brooch is a beautiful representation of the Setons’ happy experience of this lifelong sacrament. According to family tradition, every bride in the Seton line is said to have worn it on her wedding day. Likewise, Elizabeth’s tiny wedding band, also worn by one of her daughters at the profession of her vows in the Sisters of Charity, stands out in its simplicity.

In the same case, there are portrait pendants side by side of William Magee Seton and Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, showing her hair down. It’s hard to think of a saint as a young bride, but there she is, and she’s beautiful. The story of her putting her portrait in his suitcase so he would not forget her when work demanded he travel hints at the ongoing happy romance of their relationship.

As a mother, this saint illustrates that love always multiplies. She and her husband had five children: William, Richard, Anna Maria, Catherine and Rebecca. She took joy in their gifts (Rebecca’s piety, for example) and worried when they seemed distant or ill. In the special exhibit, there are relics that connect visitors to each of them: a Bible, a christening gown, a lock of hair, rosaries, portraits — all of these things highlight the reality of her life as a single mother struggling to care for those she loved after losing her husband when all five of her children were still young (age 8 and under).

As a widow and convert, Elizabeth suffered from poverty and rejection of friends for her conversion. Yet she persevered in hope. She started the Sisters of Charity once she moved to Emmitsburg, and the books and handwritten notes reveal a woman who understood that God held a bigger plan than hers, even in her darkest moments. The films and notes accompanying the exhibit remind the viewer that saints are, in all things, like us. They had moments when all felt lost, when God seemed far and when they thought it would never get better. (The loss of her husband and, later, her two children to the same disease were part of Elizabeth’s earthly sorrows.)

As a foundress, her handwritten notes for her community and prayer books and schedule reveal a deeply integrated piety and the expectation that she and her Sisters of Charity look for the visible needs of the invisible people of the world and meet them. Founding the first women’s religious community in the United States, she and those who joined her community helped envision Catholic schools and Catholic hospitals. She took the pain of her own suffering and used it as an inspiration for a whole new ministry that would spread out across the nation, helping the poor and the sick and providing education and support for marginalized populations.

Lastly, in the center of the collection, is her iconic bonnet and shawl, the ones often seen in her profile portrait. The black bonnet is softer and less severe in real life. The embroidery of a silver “S” on her shawl is a physical reminder of an actual time and place, when she put needle to thread to mark her things. The color may have been what was available, but it hints at whimsy and humor in addition to practicality. It puts flesh to the bones of the story of her life.

Sitting in the room after viewing the exhibits, one could see how her life imitated the Joyful, Luminous and Sorrowful Mysteries in life and reflected the truth of the Glorious ones in her death and declared sanctification.

Proclaimed a saint in 1975 by Pope St. Paul VI, he encouraged, “Rejoice, we say to the great nation of the United States of America. Rejoice for your glorious daughter. Be proud of her. And know how to preserve her fruitful heritage.”

Her countrymen and women now have the opportunity to be within arm’s reach of things she touched, things she treasured, things that led her deeper into friendship with God and might help us as well. Make it part of your 2021 to come and meet this first saint of our country face-to-face.

By Sherry Antonetti
July 17, 2021
National Catholic Register

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Saying he was acting for the good of the unity of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has restored limits on the celebration of the Mass according to the Roman Missal in use before the Second Vatican Council, overturning or severely restricting permissions St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI had given to celebrate the so-called Tridentine-rite Mass.

“An opportunity offered by St. John Paul II and, with even greater magnanimity by Benedict XVI, intended to recover the unity of an ecclesial body with diverse liturgical sensibilities, was exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences and encourage disagreements that injure the church, block her path and expose her to the peril of division,” Pope Francis wrote in a letter to bishops July 16.

The text accompanies his apostolic letter “Traditionis Custodes” (Guardians of the Tradition), declaring the liturgical books promulgated after the Second Vatican Council to be “the unique expression of the ‘lex orandi’ (law of worship) of the Roman Rite,” restoring the obligation of priests to have their bishops’ permission to celebrate according to the “extraordinary” or pre-Vatican II Mass and ordering bishops not to establish any new groups or parishes in their dioceses devoted to the old liturgy.

Priests currently celebrating Mass according to the old missal must request authorization from their bishop to continue doing so, Pope Francis ordered, and for any priest ordained after the document’s publication July 16, the bishop must consult with the Vatican before granting authorization.

Pope Francis also transferred to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments responsibility for overseeing the implementation of the new rules.

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI issued “Summorum Pontificum” on the use of the pre-Vatican II Roman liturgy. It said any priest of the Latin-rite church may, without any further permission from the Vatican or from his bishop, celebrate the “extraordinary form” of the Mass according to the rite published in 1962. The Roman Missal based on the revisions of the Second Vatican Council was published in 1969.

The conditions Pope Benedict set out for use of the old rite were that there was a desire for it, that the priest knows the rite and Latin well enough to celebrate in a worthy manner and that he ensures that the good of parishioners desiring the extraordinary form “is harmonized with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the governance of the bishop in accordance with Canon 392, avoiding discord and favoring the unity of the whole church.”

The now-retired pope also insisted that Catholics celebrating predominantly according to the old rite acknowledge the validity of the new Mass and accept the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

In his letter to bishops, Pope Francis said that responses to a survey of the world’s bishops carried out last year by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “reveal a situation that preoccupies and saddens me and persuades me of the need to intervene. Regrettably, the pastoral objective of my predecessors, who had intended ‘to do everything possible to ensure that all those who truly possessed the desire for unity would find it possible to remain in this unity or to rediscover it anew,’ has often been seriously disregarded.”

“Ever more plain in the words and attitudes of many is the close connection between the choice of celebrations according to the liturgical books prior to Vatican Council II and the rejection of the church and her institutions in the name of what is called the ‘true church,’” Pope Francis wrote.

To promote the unity of the church, Pope Francis said, bishops should care for those Catholics “who are rooted in the previous form of celebration” while helping them “return in due time” to the celebration of Mass according to the new Missal.

The pope also indicated he believed that sometimes parishes and communities devoted to the older liturgy were the idea of the priests involved and not the result of a group of Catholic faithful desiring to celebrate that Mass.

Pope Francis asked bishops “to discontinue the erection of new personal parishes tied more to the desire and wishes of individual priests than to the real need of the ‘holy people of God.’”

However, he also said that many people find nourishment in more solemn celebrations of Mass, so he asked bishops “to be vigilant in ensuring that every liturgy be celebrated with decorum and fidelity to the liturgical books promulgated after Vatican Council II, without the eccentricities that can easily degenerate into abuses.”

The liturgical life of the church has changed and developed over the centuries, the pope noted.

“St. Paul VI, recalling that the work of adaptation of the Roman Missal had already been initiated by Pius XII, declared that the revision of the Roman Missal, carried out in the light of ancient liturgical sources, had the goal of permitting the church to raise up, in the variety of languages, ‘a single and identical prayer’ that expressed her unity,” Pope Francis said. “This unity I intend to re-establish throughout the church of the Roman Rite.”

By Cindy Wooden | Catholic News Service

BRIDGEPORT—The Diocesan Young Adult Council are extremely grateful to Foundations in Faith for approving its St. Therese grant application for $20,000 to fund the establishment of a Young Catholic Professionals (YCP) Chapter in Stamford/Fairfield County.

The Diocesan Young Adult Council (DYAC) was established by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in January 2021. The Council’s stated mission is to “assist ministry on behalf of young adults through (1) coordinating communication among existing ministries, (2) creating opportunities for community building among young adults, (3) offering faith formation and leadership training to those who desire it and (4) identifying best practices to evangelize and form young adults in the life of faith.”

Bishop Caggiano has been instrumental in leading the growth of the young adult community in the diocese. He recognizes that young adults are the future of the Church and that ministering to them is essential. Through the Diocesan Young Adult Council, he has provided a medium for young adults to voice their opinions/concerns. When the idea of starting a YCP Chapter in Stamford/Fairfield County was raised at one of the monthly DYAC meetings, Bishop Caggiano provided his full support and helped to procure funding by reaching out to Foundations in Faith and asking for financial assistance from the St. Therese Fund for Evangelization.

Members of the Board of Foundations in Faith approved DYAC’s grant application at their June 2021 meeting, providing unwavering support for DYAC/YCP. Foundations in Faith is hopeful that YCP will ignite a love for the Catholic Faith in young adults throughout the Diocese and encourage young adults to become evangelizers/spreaders of the gospel message whether through involvement at the parish level or through involvement in diocesan-wide initiatives such as the newly formed Pastoral Center for Entrepreneurship and Pastoral Center for Culture.

Young Catholic Professionals (YCP) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, founded in 2010, with a mission to challenge, train, and encourage young adults working in various professions to Work in Witness for Christ. YCP is dedicated to fostering Catholic identity, encouraging community and inspiring a call to action for young Catholics in their 20’s and 30’s so that they may be empowered to see their workplaces as a natural site for evangelization.

YCP fulfills its purpose through executive speaker series—where top-level Catholic executives are invited to speak and share their professional/faith journeys; networking happy hours—which allow young professionals to enjoy fellowship and learn about YCP in a casual setting; virtue-based panel discussions— focused Q&A and small group discussions about living virtuously in the workplace; executive mentorship—where young professionals are paired with top-level executives for career guidance & “best practices” in faith & business; spiritual guidance—where YCP’ers are connected with priests and other religious to better discern God’s hand in their lives and careers; career counseling & more.

YCP participants grow in awareness and understanding of the challenges and issues facing each Diocese. They also develop valuable contacts and communication networks within the community. Most importantly, their involvement with YCP builds confidence and motivation to become actively involved in promoting positive change for the diocese. Parishes, pastors and Catholic partnering organizations will see increased leadership and problem-solving skills in their future board members, volunteers, etc. YCP opens doors to greater diocesan and community involvement and visibility, and helps identify where strategic alliances might be formed. It creates additional opportunities to influence positive change and impact quality of life in the community. The community will experience immediate benefit from increased involvement on the part of the participants, and will reap future benefits from the collective commitment to effective leadership by YCP members.

The YCP Stamford/Fairfield County Chapter will be formed in close collaboration with the DYAC and, in the words of Bishop Caggiano, “once operational, can be of great help in a larger initiative to create a Young Catholic Pastoral Center for Entrepreneurship. The Center will invite young adults to address local social needs through the creation of small non-for-profit corporations that they will manage, affording them both professional business experience, as well as mentoring in the Catholic faith. It is envisioned that YCP members would assist the work of the Center, in part by accompanying those peers who may not be as active in the practice of their faith. Hence, the proposal is one of evangelization.”

YCP thanks both Bishop Caggiano and Foundations in Faith for their support of young adult Catholics in the diocese.

FAIRFIELD — Dr. Donna Andrade, dean of mission and ministry at Fairfield College Preparatory School, has advanced the Jesuit mission of social justice throughout her 42 years at the school, and she was recently named to an international commission that will assess the role and responsibilities of women in Jesuit apostolates around the world.

She is representing women in the North American continent on the Commission on the Role and Responsibilities of Women in the Society of Jesus in what she describes as a historic opportunity.

“I am so pleased that the Jesuits are looking at this issue,” she said. “They are looking at it within the Jesuit network…And it’s exciting to me as a Jesuit educator that there are people from all over the world that I will get to meet and learn from.”

The commission was announced in March by the Rev. Arturo Sosa, S.J., the superior general of the order, and it represents a further step by the Jesuits to “more fully include and collaborate with women.” A major objective of the commission is to evaluate how relevant the previous decree issued by 34th General Congregation in 1995 is today, because as Father Sosa said, “The world has changed substantially since then, including the situation of women.”

The commission comprises six women, three Jesuits and one layman, representing eight countries. They have already begun work, which is expected to take three years to complete before issuing a final report for Father Sosa, who will act on their recommendations.

Throughout her career, Dr. Andrade has been focused on the Jesuit mission.

She began teaching English literature at Fairfield Prep in 1980, and wrote a proposal in 1985 for the first diversity program for Jesuit high schools in the nation, which was replicated around the country. She eventually began organizing diversity conferences for the network of then 44 schools in 1994. At Prep, she has held a variety of administrative positions, including director of diversity and academic dean.

“When I began at Prep, the president of the school approached me,” she recalls. “I was the only person of color until 2001 in the school, and we had very few students of color, so the school did not reflect the diversity of our area. It was a predominantly white and wealthy school in a changing landscape. Our kids were predominantly white students, going into a world that was diverse, and they were not prepared for that.”

She says that the diversity program cultivates understanding on both ends of the spectrum and is mutually beneficial.

“It is important because everybody benefits,” she says. “White kids are exposed to diversity and others learn about social capital and the environment they will encounter in college and beyond in a predominantly white school and college.”

Today, Fairfield Prep is one of the most diverse schools in the area, she says, with 25 percent of the student body consisting of students of color.

“We are blessed and we our pleased,” she says. “We worked at getting that diversity over the past few decades. It is the core of our mission as a Jesuit school, which has a commitment to social justice. That includes socio-economic, political, ecological and ethical justice, which are issues we address in our curriculum.”

Andrade, the oldest of three sisters, is Cape Verdian, a colonized mixture of African and Portuguese. Her parents were the first generation in their families to be born in America.

She grew up in the East End of Bridgeport and is a lifelong parishioner of Blessed Sacrament Church, where her mother Frances worked for 15 years as parish secretary until she was 80, after having retired from the City of Bridgeport.

“My parents raised us in the Church and we went to Mass on Sunday,” she recalls. “I was a public school girl and went to McKinley Elementary School and Harding High School and took religious education and received my first communion and confirmation at Blessed Sacrament.”

She received a bachelor’s in English education from the University of Connecticut, a master’s in educational media from Fairfield University, a master’s in administration and supervision from Fordham University and a doctorate in education from Fordham.

Since the beginning, Andrade has been inspired by the mission of the Society of Jesus, which this year is celebrating the 500th anniversary of its founding by St. Ignatius of Loyola, a Spanish nobleman who was hit by a cannonball during the Battle of Pamplona in 1521, an incident that led to his conversion and the eventual founding of the order.

“My first encounter with them was a personal one,” she recalls. “In 1980, there were a lot of Jesuits in the school, and I befriended the ones who worked with me in the English and Arts Department. They would invite us over to the Jesuit residence, and I got to know them personally.”

She says it is an honor to be the only representative from North America on the commission, which will chart the course for the “role of women in the Jesuit mission, a faith that lives justice.”

Father Sosa in announcing the commission enumerated his objectives, the initial one being a review of the previous decree from 1995 titled, “Jesuits and the Situation of Women in the Church and Civil Society,” which was promulgated at the 34th General Congregation.

Among his other objectives were a review of the Society’s “structures of collaboration with women,” “strengthening the mission of the Society with the active participation of women,” and the encouragement of “mutual respect, care and solidarity between men and women.”

Dr. Andrade stresses that the commission is not just looking at the role of women in education, but in all Jesuit apostolates, including parishes, charitable work and social justice initiatives worldwide.

The commission has been at work since March, via Zoom because of the COVID restrictions, and the group recently chose a moderator.

“It is a very Ignatian process involving discernment and how we should proceed as a commission,” she says. “We didn’t jump right into the work. Everything we do is grounded in Ignatian spirituality, which is the one thing we all have in common.”

“We will be looking at where we came from and where we want to go,” she said. The process will involve an examination of existing structures, best practices that help women and practices that impede women. And from their three-year endeavor, they will draft a report with recommendations to the Superior General.

Some of their discussions will center on the equality of women and men, ensuring that women are promoted to positions of leadership and determining how the participation of women will strengthen the Jesuit mission.

Dr. Andrade has been committed to Catholic education throughout her career, and she is hopeful that the work of the commission will have implications for the broader Church regarding the role of women in leadership and the contributions they can provide. She stresses, however, that the issue can be a divisive one and that it is fundamentally important to have those discussions “in a way that doesn’t divide us, but unites us.”

She is enthusiastic about the initiative and says it can best be summed up by the phrase, “Women in the Jesuit mission — a faith that lives justice.”

By Joe Pisani