Miracles happen when we sit before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. We get answers we need, we receive the comfort we desire, we have a friend who listens to us … and we’re healed. Yes, miraculous things happen.

Before she entered the Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and Mary Immaculate, Anna Rodriguez had a personal encounter with the Eucharistic Lord that inspired her to leave her job, and her boyfriend, for the religious life.

“I was before the Blessed Sacrament, and I wondered, ‘What am I feeling?’” she said. So she asked, “Dear Lord, what am I going to do?”

A lover of horses, she immediately thought of the blinders they wear in the mountains, so they can stay focused and not be distracted by the cliffs.

A voice told her, “Put the frame on just like you put on your horse. Look forward and not to the side, and I will be there.’”

“That’s when I said, ‘the Lord wants me to be a sister.’” Forty-two years later, she is still focused on the Eucharistic Lord, serving as the mother of her convent in Bridgeport.


Marie Moura would take her grandson Johnathan to Eucharistic Adoration at St. Joseph’s chapel in Shelton.

At two, he developed a special friendship with Jesus. They talked to each other, they prayed together, and sometimes they just stared at each other lovingly.

“He loves to be close to Jesus on the altar and look up at him,” Marie said. “He would get Rosary beads and kneel where Jesus was on the altar. He’d look up and show him the Rosary and said, ‘Jesus, I’m praying the Rosary!’”

When he walked into the chapel, he’d spread his arms and say, “I love you this much, Jesus!”

“You could tell he’s in the presence of the Lord, and it’s amazing to watch. I learned so much from this little boy who has so much love for Jesus, just watching him praying and blowing kisses to Jesus.”


Brianna Farens was convinced she’d pursue a career in medicine like her father, Dr. John Farens.

Today, she is Sister Maria Antonia of the Holy Wounds of Jesus, a member of the cloistered religious order at Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe in New Mexico.

“All the while, my prayer life was deepening and intensifying,” she recalled. “I was spending more and more time before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and I just couldn’t get enough. Being before the Lord and gazing at him, caught up in his love, it felt like my heart could just leap out of my chest and go out to him. He was drawing me into this divine intimacy, and the only response I could make was that of totality, anything less would not satisfy.”

One evening during Adoration, “I heard Jesus calling me so clearly in the utmost depths of my heart to the cloister. In hearing this, it was like my innermost being was illumined, and it felt like I was on fire with peace, consumed by love.”

“It seemed like from the very place within me Our Lord drew out this call, there also came all my love and therefore my response,” she said. “This profound moment of realizing my vocation was simply an encounter of love: his love meeting mine.”


This account is from “Real People, Real Presence” compiled by Cardinal William Keeler.

“Where do I begin to tell about the most powerful experience I have had before the Eucharist? My story starts in the late 1970s, when as an unmarried teenager, I became pregnant. In a time of doubt, fear and confusion, I committed a sin that I will regret as long as I live—I aborted my unborn child.

“Years later, I stopped at a 100-year-old church in downtown Baltimore for Eucharistic Adoration … I had prayed to the Lord about my aborted child many times before. As I prayed for God’s forgiveness again, I suddenly had the feeling I was not alone. I called God’s name and asked, ‘Is that you?’ His answer was ‘Yes.’ At that moment, a shimmering, white being came down and sat beside me. For the next 15 minutes, he and I sat in each other’s presence. From him I sensed no anger or condemnation, simply warm, unconditional love and joy.

“Then, he left my side and went away. When I told a devout friend about what had happened, she believed (as I did) that I had received a great gift from God. He allowed me to feel his complete and total forgiveness for my sin so long ago. Do I love the Eucharist? Absolutely! I have no words to truly express the peace and joy it has brought into my life.”

The skeins of yarn. The piles of fabric. The boxes of buttons.

For years, my mother’s favorite pastime had been her handiwork. In addition to all the other roles she played, she had such finesse with her hands, knitting sweaters for my brothers and sewing dresses for me throughout our childhood. An original Halloween costume? She would sew it in days. A new baby in the family? She would knit a nursery blanket. Booties for the church fair? Done again, and again. Doll clothes, pillowcases, hats and scarves. My mother’s handiwork was her trademark, and everyone she knew benefitted from those careful stitches.

As a child, I would sit beside her, watching the swiftness of her fingers as she twirled the yarn or threaded the bobbin of her Singer sewing machine. She offered to teach me her craft many times, but I was not interested, preferring books and pencils to yarns and needles. That was her domain, and I was content to simply enjoy it. How the sweaters and dresses would appear from something so simple seemed like magic to me back then. Of course, it required talent, but even more so, patterns and patience, as her fingers moved, repetitively, one stitch at a time. Designs took shape, rows took form. Nothing could be rushed.

Frustrated, she might suddenly catch a dropped stitch. Though barely noticeable to someone else, my mother knew that mistake could change the whole pattern, the symmetry she desired. Even if it meant tearing out minutes—maybe hours—of otherwise careful work, she did, wanting that special piece to be deserving of the person for whom it was intended, especially if it was a child.

When each of her grandchildren came along, she had a quilt ready as their Christening gift. Though each pattern was unique, they all included crosses embedded in the design. Everything made with her hands was a reflection of herself, she knew, and thus, a reflection of God. Though she felt accomplished with a completed piece, her greatest enjoyment came in the process itself. It was mediative, she’d say, a spiritual discipline offering her the perfect time to pray.

Today, the hands that could knit and sew with such precision have been stilled by arthritis and a lack of focus, inevitable with an aging body and mind. It is harder and harder for her to hold a knitting needle and the old Singer has long been idle. Still, I sit beside her, no longer seeing the swiftness of yesteryear in her fingers but the wrinkles, blue veins, and scars from the stabs of a needle. Whereas the skeins of yarn and piles of fabric once helped define my mother’s life, now it is the creases in the palms of her hands that do, telling a lifetime of stories.

Just as her handiwork resulted in the tapestry of her creations, “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.”

The remnants of her craft continue to hang in our closets and lay folded at the foot of her grandchildren’s beds, their patterns—and her legacy—a reminder of the patience and skill that come one stitch at a time.

By Joe Pisani

BRIDGEPORT — On the second day of the Eucharistic Procession through the Diocese of Bridgeport, Jesus was welcomed by a cathedral filled with school children.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, joined by priests and deacons from throughout the diocese, celebrated a Solemn Pontifical Mass of the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church at St. Augustine Cathedral.

“How blessed we are,” he told the faithful, who included students from several Catholic schools, religious sisters and members of the Knights of Columbus. “How great are the gifts God gives us. Who are we to have the Food of Eternal Life and the Mother of all mothers who will lead us to glory? We are the Church. We are the disciples of Jesus Christ. We are the ones chosen by him to carry his message and mission to the world … and today we celebrate the fact that we all have the same mother Mary, Mother of the Church. May she lead us safely home so that one day we might all share in glory everlasting.”

On Pentecost Sunday, the Eucharist arrived from New Haven by boat at Bridgeport Harbor Marina, and throughout the day there were processions and activities at five parishes in the city. Over four days, it will travel through eight towns before going to the Archdiocese of New York. Then, the procession will make its way to Indianapolis for the National Eucharistic Congress in July.

Bishop Caggiano told the students that as the day approached when Jesus would give his life for our salvation, he prepared to give his disciples two great gifts.

“My young friends, we come here so that we could receive the Food of Eternal Life given to us by the Lord himself,” he said. “Jesus also gave us the second gift moments before he literally handed over his spirit to the Father. His last great gift was his own mother, the Virgin Mary, the one who said ‘yes’ to the Angel Gabriel. The one whose ‘yes’ allowed her Son to enter into the world. The one woman above all others who set the stage for our salvation.”

The bishop said that throughout the ages many different images have been used to explain the importance of Our Lady in salvation history, and one that he finds the most beautiful is the moon, which mariners relied on for thousands of years to find safe passage home. The moon is symbolic of three truths about the Blessed Mother, he said.

“The moon generates no light of its own, but reflects the light of the sun, which is hidden, just as the Blessed Mother reflects the light of Jesus. The moon also allows us to find our way when the night is darkest, and it also provides a path for us, as does the Blessed Mother.

“Our Lady is our spiritual moon because she is the one above all other disciples who shone completely the light of Christ,” Bishop Caggiano said. “Our Lady’s life had nothing to do with herself but had everything to do with her son Jesus. And her last words were ‘Do whatever he tells you,’ which is exactly how she lived her life. Everything about Our Lady points to the Son of God whose light shines in the darkness of our lives. She is present to us in the darkest moment of our lives so that she may lead us home to her Son.”

He said Our Lord knew that we would struggle with sinfulness, disobedience, and the temptation to pride.

“He knew that we would all struggle, so he gave us both the Food of Life and the woman who is our model,” the bishop said. “If we follow her example, she will lead us not only to receive the Eucharist worthily, but to see her Son one day. When a mother loves her children, there is nothing she will not do for them. There is nothing Our Lady will not do for us, my young friends, if we turn to her because her heart is most joyful when you and I are one with her Son.”

Members of the congregation who attended events the previous day said it was a profoundly spiritual experience.

Sister Mareja of the Missionaries of Charity said they had been blessed by receiving extraordinary graces.

“We can feel it, we experienced it,” she said. “We experienced a foretaste of Heaven.”

Her colleague, Sister Sarah, agreed and said it was a tremendous honor and privilege to be walking the streets with our Savior, Jesus.

Students from Kolbe Cathedral High School and St. Augustine Academy attended the Mass, along with a contingent that came by bus from St. Joseph High School in Trumbull and Notre Dame High School in Fairfield.

Deacon Jeff Font, who is in charge of campus ministry at St. Joseph’s, said, “The Eucharist is the center of our faith. Taking part in this renewal shows students how significant it is in our lives.”

Also attending the Mass were 12 pilgrims who will process all the way to Indianapolis for the National Eucharistic Congress in July. Among their group was Amayrani Higueldo from St. Patrick Church in Norristown in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, who said, “It’s been so beautiful and filled with many graces. I’ve met so many people on fire for the Lord.”

Father Luke Suarez, pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in Stamford and lead organizer for the procession, proclaimed, “It’s a new day. It’s beautiful to see so many people at the cathedral.”

Joseph C. Rahtelli, State Deputy for the Knights of Columbus and a member of St. Virigilius Council #185 at St. Rose of Lima in Newtown, came with a contingent of Knights who held the processional canopy above the Blessed Sacrament. Rahtelli had been with the procession since it started at the Church of St. Mary in New Haven, which holds the tomb of Blessed Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights.

“We have been helping out and promoting the procession in our councils,” he said. “We are honored that it started in New Haven, Connecticut, and very excited to be part of the Eucharistic Renewal, which is so significance in the life of the Church.

James Carmody of St. Mark Parish in Stratford was among the Knights who processed, and he was joined at Mass by his wife Olga, who said, “I had so many things to do today, but the Eucharist comes first, and I’m so happy to be here.”

Over the next two months, the Blessed Sacrament will make its way across the country to Indianapolis. The Diocese of Bridgeport is just the second stop along the Pilgrimage’s Seton Route, which is one of four routes around the country that will culminate in Indianapolis.

The Seton Route will also pass through the dioceses of New York, N.Y.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Metuchen, N.J.; Trenton, N.J.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Baltimore, Md.; Washington; Altoona-Johnstown, Pa.; Greensburg, Pa.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Wheeling-Charleston, W. Va.; Steubenville, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio and Cincinnati, Ohio before arriving in Indianapolis, Ind.

Speakers, honorary degree recipients and others celebrate graduating students’ achievements

FAIRFIELD, Conn.—The Sacred Heart University community celebrated, honored and conferred degrees upon more than 3,000 students during five commencement ceremonies throughout the week of May 6.

Approximately 1,440 students earned bachelor’s and associate’s degrees, and more than 1,910 graduate students were awarded certificates, master’s and doctoral degrees. Graduate ceremonies were held at SHU’s Martire Family Arena May 7 and 8, and undergraduate ceremonies took place at the Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater in Bridgeport May 11.

SHU President John J. Petillo addressed the undergraduates. He asked them to reflect on their last four years.

“Graduates, just pause for a moment and reflect on that 18-year-old that arrived here,” Petillo said. “Do you recognize the transition in yourself? Do you know better the person you are and who you can be? You have been a gift to this university, because you have been a gift to one another, in joyful moments, in periods of stress and through times of growth. As I look out, it is with mixed feelings that I anticipate this day myself. I celebrate with joy your accomplishments, and yet, because I have come to know so many of you, I will miss your gifts, to this community and, selfishly, to me personally.”

From the undergraduate students
Many of the graduates, eyes sparkling as they proudly wore their caps and gowns, talked about their transformative experiences as Pioneers. They shared stories of how they were shaped by their peers and the wisdom and knowledge faculty and staff bestowed upon them throughout their college careers.

It took Shaniece Kelly more than a decade to complete her degree, but she was determined to finish what she started and take her place as a first-generation college graduate. The Bridgeport native, who earned her bachelor’s degree in business with a focus in management, transferred to Sacred Heart in 2013, and she said the transition to SHU was “super easy.”

“All the offices I had to speak with to get accepted and to move forward with classes had great communication,” Kelly said. “The other reason [I transferred to SHU] is because SHU is faith-based. With life’s adversities, it has taken me 14 years to complete this degree, and this University has reminded me time and time again that God is with me as I go through this journey, and that to me speaks volumes.”

Throughout college, Kelly experienced life’s ups and downs. She got married and had two sons, which were definitely highlights; but she also lost her grandmother, whom she kept close spiritually at Saturday’s graduation in the form of a photograph dangling from her cap.

“My grandmother is on my tassel—she passed away seven years ago,” Kelly said. “Her only wish was for me to graduate college and continue to pursue the best in life. This pendant is a reminder that she is here, walking with me as I cross the stage to receive this high honor and fulfill a dream as the first-generation graduate in my family.”

Kelly said her last year at SHU was great. She was pleased she saved a Catholic intellectual tradition course for her final semester.

“Life as a mom of two, an entrepreneur and the wearer of many other hats can sometimes be a lot to handle,” she said. “However, this class reminded me, through the lectures, discussions, homework and connections I’ve made, how faith is so important to have while going through life’s journey.”

Another milestone occurred for a special, four-legged friend named Layla. The service dog, a Labrador retriever and Chihuahua mix, graduated alongside her owner, Charlie Leahey, a psychology and social work major. Layla provided Leahey with the necessary support for a successful college experience. On Saturday, Layla’s name was called just like any other graduate. The service dog walked across the stage decked out in appropriate commencement attire, eliciting rousing audience applause.

“Having her all four years has helped me get through college with confidence,” Leahey said. “She was my best buddy through it all. She was alongside me through my best days and my worst days. She assisted me with physical and mental health and stood by my side. She is the most amazing dog.”

Leahey and Layla will continue their SHU journey as Leahey starts her master’s in social work program this year.

“All of our hard work together finally paid off,” she said. “Not only am I graduating, but she is too! She is getting her ‘dog-ploma.’ We will be partners in the social work field.”

Degrees were conferred upon approximately 1,660 students: 1,061 bachelor’s degrees; 529 master’s degrees; 55 doctorate degrees; and 15 sixth-year certificates.

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (May 19, 2024)— Fairfield University honored the academic excellence of the graduating Class of 2024 at its 74th Commencement ceremonies this weekend.

Read the full transcript of Bishop Caggiano’s address >>

For the first time in University history, international graduates from the Dolan School of Business Shanghai MBA program will receive their diplomas in person at the graduate ceremony. The MBA program has been available to professionals in Shanghai since 2020, in partnership with Golden Education, one of the largest management training companies in China.

On Sunday, May 19, against the backdrop of Fairfield University’s picturesque campus overlooking the Long Island Sound, the undergraduate commencement ceremony celebrated the accomplishments of its graduating students from the College of Arts & Sciences, the Charles F. Dolan School of Business, Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing & Health Studies, and School of Engineering & Computing.

The ceremony featured an inspiring speech from Commencement speaker The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport. “Saint Ignatius speaks of setting the world on fire, but that fire begins deep within you and me,” said Bishop Caggiano. “It’s a passion, a burning desire for each of us to seek greater excellence, more authentic integrity, to challenge the accepted beliefs of modern society.” He encouraged graduates to “be the architects of hope and transformation,” and to “accept the mantle of transformational leadership…to be able to bring hope and change to the people entrusted to [their] care and a world that is looking for a better way.”

Bishop Caggiano was presented with a Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree by University President Mark R. Nemec, PhD, in recognition of his unwavering commitment to building faith communities of solidarity and inclusion. Bishop Caggiano’s contributions to World Youth Day, his service on several committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and his pastoral leadership in the Diocese of Bridgeport exemplify his dedication to the values of faith, compassion and service, and fostering positive change in the world.

Sunday’s ceremony also celebrated the achievements of honorary degree recipient Patrick J. Waide Jr. a distinguished alumnus and leader in international professional services, who was honored for his exemplary career, commitment to service, and ethical leadership. Waide has had a transformative impact on the Fairfield community, most notably through his generous support of the Center for Applied Ethics at the Dolan School of Business, renamed The Patrick J. Waide Center for Applied Ethics. Waide has worked to advance the University’s mission, through his service as a University Trustee, and as a member of the Dolan School of Business Advisory Board and the Fairfield Awards Dinner Committee.

Student Commencement Speaker Steven Cullen Burns spoke about how he learned to incorporate Jesuit values such as ‘cura personalis’ or care of the whole self—mind, body, and spirit—while he examined his purpose or his “why.” “Magis encourages us to strive for excellence in all that we do, including the ways we take care of ourselves, and how we can be a source of light in the lives of those close to us and beyond. The Jesuit values guide us to find purpose and fulfillment in all that we do.”

Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, former President of Mexico, delivered the commencement address at the graduate ceremony on Saturday, May 18. Zedillo, honored with a Doctor of Laws honorary degree, is renowned for his visionary leadership in economic reform, social justice, and international cooperation. His address inspired graduates to embrace the challenges and opportunities of the future with courage and a commitment to positive global impact. “Graduates, this is your moment. This is your world now. You are stepping onto a stage teaming with both unparalleled promise and great peril…Raise your voices. Become a chorus for peace, a symphony of understanding, and a clarion call for international cooperation. Reject the poisonous allure of division, and instead champion the values of inclusivity and compassion that bind us together as a human family.”

Additionally, honorary degree recipient and Fairfield alumna Carolyn M. Vermont, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County, was presented with a Doctor of Laws degree, and recognized for her tireless efforts to provide affordable housing solutions and empower communities, and promote diversity and inclusion. Vermont’s volunteer leadership positions span local, statewide, and national organizations. She has served on the Fairfield University Board of Trustees, Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions Advisory Board, and Annual Giving Committee. Nationally, Vermont has served as a First Lady Michelle Obama Women’s Roundtable representative and was honored as a White House Changemaker at the 2016 United State of Women Summit.

In his closing remarks President Nemec encouraged graduates to effect positive change in the world, quoting Chris Lowney, a former Jesuit Seminarian and JP Morgan managing director, and 2019 honorary degree recipient. “Everyone is a leader, and everyone is leading all the time. The measure of a leader’s personal greatness is less what they found at journey’s end and more the depth of human character that carried them along the way.”

For more information about Fairfield University and the 74th Commencement ceremonies, visit:

FAIRFIELD – On Wednesday May 8, St. Catherine Center witnessed a heartwarming celebration as the community came together to bless our newest addition at the Center—an accessible and inclusive playground. Led by Board Member Monsignor Robert Weiss, the event marked a significant milestone in the Center’s journey toward inclusivity and ensuring that every individual, regardless of ability, has the pleasure of play.

Laura Grozier, executive director, welcomed everyone and thanked all those who made this possible.

“We are so grateful to all those who supported this project,” she said. “Lori and Frank Mercede’s generous donation in honor of their daughter Jacki, provided the cornerstone for the construction of the playground.”

As Monsignor Weiss imparted blessings upon the playground, his words resonated deeply, asking for the space to be filled with laughter, socialization, and safety. He also said God was shining down on us because the rain stopped and the sun came out. It was a touching reminder of the Center’s unwavering commitment to creating environments where children and young adults with special needs can find a sense of belonging and happiness.

The blessing ceremony was a collective effort, with students, young adults, board members and parents joining Monsignor Weiss in blessing each piece of play equipment with holy water. Together, they blessed the playground with spiritual significance, a strong sense of community, and shared purpose.

As the blessing drew to a close, there was a sense of gratitude and optimism among all those present. The playground will be something all will enjoy for years to come.

By Ron Kuzlik

STAMFORD – The Holy Spirit Men’s Group (HSMG) held their quarterly Pancake Breakfast at Holy Family Hall in Stamford on May 5.

About 10 volunteers set up, cooked, served and cleaned up for the nearly 120 attendees.

“The success of the HSMG events over the past year has started discussion in the leadership of the Men’s Group about how to distribute profits from these events,” said Tanner Cosgrove, the men’s group secretary. “We intend to use any proceeds to further our plans in our mission statement and to possibly help to ease the burdens on the parish.”

The mission of the HSMG is to “pursue the Church’s mission of saving souls by leveraging our virtues as men. We focus on embracing humility, accepting sacrifice, and fostering brotherhood via actionable items. Through events at Church of the Holy Spirit and beyond, we will unite our community, enabling spiritual growth and fulfilling our responsibility to the Church’s greater vision.”

Other HSMG events include the men’s wild game dinner celebrating first responders, father/son field day, the men’s steak night celebrating veterans, couples dinner with a guest speaker, a bi-monthly prayer group, a weekly informal Scripture study, and a monthly commitment to cook and provide food service at the New Covenant Center soup kitchen.

Father Luke Suarez has been pastor of Holy Spirit since 2019.

“I am grateful for the work the parish Men’s Group has accomplished, in imitation of Christ, through service and by bringing families together to share a meal,” he said. “It is a joy to see our entire community together – from the very young running in circles and laughing all around the room and outside to the more ‘mature’ engaging in fellowship after participating in the Celebration of the Mass.”

“By God’s good grace and focusing on bringing families together in fellowship and in worship, we continue to see our parish grow,” Father Suarez said.

Meetings are held the first Saturday of the month in Holy Family Hall from 7 am for fellowship, Adoration, and planning for current and future business and group activities. For more information, go to:


By Andrew Fowler
May 9, 2024

Dan Hurley is an intense person. But so is the arena where he works.

As the head coach for the University of Connecticut (UConn) Huskies men’s basketball team, Hurley has led the program to back-to-back NCAA national championships — the first time since Florida did likewise nearly 20 years ago — after defeating the Purdue Boilermakers 75-60 on April 8.

Throughout the tournament, the Huskies were the No. 1 overall team and displayed a dominance unmatched in college basketball history, winning by a record average of 23.3 points per game. This exceeded their previous season’s average of 20 points.

By Joe Pisani

GREENWICH—St. Mary/Putnam Cemetery in Greenwich is recognized as one of the most beautiful natural settings in town, with 80 acres on rolling hills with woods and wetlands, and a peaceful bucolic landscape that attracts runners, arborists, birdwatchers, historical tours and, of course, those who come to visit their loved ones who have died.

The cemetery, which has served the surrounding communities, including Westchester County, N.Y., for more than a century was recently accredited as a Level II Arboretum by the ArbNet Arboretum Program and the Morton Arboretum for achieving the professional standards essential for arboreta and botanic gardens, according to James Tomlinson, Director of Administration for Catholic Cemeteries of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Tomlinson said the initiative, which was conceived in 2020, began in earnest in January 2022, when Dean Gestal, executive director of Catholic Cemeteries, met with representatives of the accreditation organization and set about cataloguing trees on the 80 acres in an effort to achieve the standards needed to be classified as a Level II arboretum.

“To get to Level II, you had to have 100 species, and we had close to that when we started the project,” Tomlinson said. Currently, St. Mary/Putnam, which has close to 145 notable trees on its property and more than 1000 trees in total, will be recognized in the Morton Register of Arboreta, a database of the world’s arboreta and gardens dedicated to woody plants.

During the initiative, the trees were catalogued, mapped and tagged under the guidance of Jason Brander, Cemetery Superintendent, who has a deep knowledge of trees. Each year, Brander plants another tree at the cemetery on Arbor Day, which is observed on the last Friday in April.

“We needed 11 new species to reach Level II arboretum status,” Brander said. “We’ve gotten many more than that over the past three years. Also, we are trying to plant a lot of native plants and shrubs, such as native northern high-bush blueberry, red and yellow dogwood and others. We also brought in cinnamon fern. I’d like to get more native ferns and grasses, and this year do a small butterfly garden, mostly of native milkweed, blazing star and others.”

Tomlinson said that as part of the program, the cemeteries staff has developed a maintenance schedule for the trees, which includes a quarterly trimming and pruning.

“This was a very important project for us,” he said. “We wanted to do something positive for the community. We just don’t want to be known as a cemetery. These 80 acres are a tranquil place, and we encourage people to visit — not only those whose loved ones have passed away, but also joggers, walkers, nature lovers, birdwatchers and anyone who can appreciate the beautiful and peaceful environment.”

St. Mary/Putnam Cemetery is open to the public from 8 am to 5 pm with full access, he said.

“I’ve seen so many people walking together, running, having conversations and enjoying the tranquility,” he said. “It is a place where you know people have faced loss, but it is also a place for everyone to enjoy the natural beauty, and one of the most gorgeous sites in Greenwich.”

The accreditation program is coordinated by the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Ill. in cooperation with the American Public Gardens Association and Botanic Gardens Conservation International. The organization says it is “the only global initiative to officially recognize arboreta based on a set of professional standards. The program offers four levels of accreditation, recognizing arboreta of various degrees of development, capacity and professionalism. Standards include planning, governance, public access, programming and tree science, planting and conservation.”

At St. Mary/Putnam Cemetery, located at 399 North St., more than 50,000 Catholics and non-Catholics are buried on the grounds, and there are approximately 20,000 headstones.

The cemetery was officially recognized on May 8, 1919 by an act of the state legislature, according to research provided by the curator of Library and Archives of the Greenwich Historical Society.

In 1945, by the end of World War II, the bodies of many servicemen and women had come home to Greenwich for burial, and a Crucifixion Monument was erected at St. Mary’s, honoring the war dead and deceased members of the parish.

During the mid-1980s, the Diocese of Bridgeport purchased the non-sectarian Putnam Cemetery at 35 Parsonage Road, which is the resting place of notable residents such as Victor Borge, author Anya Seton, TV host Bud Collyer, and U.S Senator Prescott Bush and his wife Dorothy Bush, who were parents of President George H.W. Bush and grandparents of President George W. Bush.

Among those buried at St. Mary Cemetery are George and Ann Brannack Skakel, parents of Ethel Kennedy, U.S. Congressman William L. Tierney and TV personality Jack Lescoulie.

“It is a historical place and a very special place,” says Joseph McCurdy, Director of Operations. “I wish I could put into words how beautiful and serene it is there. On an autumn day, the sky is clear blue and the leaves have brilliant colors. I’m always in awe of the craftsmanship of the headstones and monuments.”

DANBURY—Ten Immaculate High School student-athletes committed to colleges and universities as part of Spring Signing Day on May 7, 2024!

These letters of intent are a contract between the student and their chosen institution and are a celebrated event across the United States. Immaculate’s Mustangs were joined by parents, coaches and friends in the school’s Bobby Plumb Gymnasium to mark their accomplishment. They included:

  • Ava Amatulli, Danbury: Caldwell University – Soccer (DII)
  • Robert Anton, Woodbury: Albertus Magnus College – Baseball (DIII)
  • Juan Arevalo, Danbury): Johnson & Wales University – Soccer (DIII)
  • Hunter Brown, New Milford: Mount St. Mary College – Track (DI)
  • James Doering, Southbury: Wilkes University – Football (DIII)
  • Seamus Downey, Redding: Franklin and Marshall College – Cross Country & Track (DIII)
  • Tyler Fahey, Danbury: Trinity College – Baseball (DIII)
  • Caitlyn Mascetta, Danbury: Sacred Heart University – Cross Country & Track (DI)
  • Thomas Pilla, New Milford: Albertus Magnus College – Baseball (DIII)
  • Gabrielle Yamoah, Brookfield: Carnegie Mellon University – Softball (DIII)

“We are incredibly proud of our student-athletes and know this recognition comes after four years of dedication to their sports and their academics,” said Immaculate Athletic Director Nelson Mingachos. “This year, Niche ranked Immaculate the #8 Best High School for Athletes in Connecticut because we are committed to offering competitive sports programs that develop well-rounded students.”

In November 2023, Immaculate recognized Tommy Conley of Ridgefield who signed with the Division One Saint John’s University’s Red Storm baseball team!

TRUMBULL— St. Joseph High School is pleased to announce the appointment of Jana Migliaro as their new Head Girls Basketball coach.

With a passion for athletics and education, Migliaro embodies a blend of academic rigor and practical experience that sets her apart in the field. She currently holds a Bachelor of Science in Sports Management from Southern Connecticut State University and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Sports Administration.

At Bunnell High School in Stratford, Migliaro has been instrumental in shaping the trajectory of the Girls Basketball program. From serving as the Assistant Varsity Coach to assuming the role of Varsity Coach, Migliaro has demonstrated exceptional leadership and coaching prowess. Her responsibilities have ranged from devising comprehensive practice plans to fostering a supportive environment for student-athletes to thrive both academically and athletically. Additionally, she has spearheaded fundraising initiatives and alumni outreach efforts, showcasing a well-rounded approach to program management.

Beyond the basketball court, Migliaro extends her impact to the field hockey arena at St. Joseph High School. As the school’s Assistant Varsity Coach and Head JV Coach, she has implemented innovative training methodologies and mentored players to develop not only their skills but also her leadership capabilities.

Director of Athletics, Kevin Butler remarks, “We are pleased and excited to have Jana Migliaro join our coaching staff as our new head varsity girls basketball coach. Jana brings a wealth of experience to the position as a past player and having coached at both the collegiate and high school level. Jana will be an outstanding role model for our female athletes in the basketball program.”

Coach Migliaro will be formally introduced to the members of the girls’ basketball program within the next week.

At Fairfield University, the Jesuit tradition of service and justice isn’t just a philosophy; it’s a way of life embraced by both students and alumni.

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (May 1, 2024)— This April, the Fairfield University Alumni Association took part in a new initiative to encourage greater participation in service activities nationwide during National Jesuit Service Month. Through collaborative efforts with seven alumni chapters throughout the country, as well as the AOCN (Alumni of Color Network) and Bellarmine Campus, Stags from Fairfield to San Francisco showcased their commitment to the core Jesuit values of compassion, empathy, and social responsibility by volunteering in their local communities during the month of April.

Throughout the month, the Alumni Association worked with the leaders of Fairfield’s regional alumni chapters to orchestrate a series of projects based on the needs of each community, and the causes that alumni found near and dear to their hearts. These events and activities were diverse in nature and included offering support to local nonprofits dedicated to alleviating childhood hunger, caring for our nation’s veterans, serving at local food banks, and volunteering at animal shelters.

Fairfield’s Washington D.C. alumni chapter partnered with Honor Flight, a program that honors veterans by coordinating trips to visit memorials in the nation’s capital. Fairfield alumni, while touring the monuments alongside veterans, had the privilege of expressing gratitude and listening to their inspiring stories. This experience allowed the alumni to not only show their appreciation, but also deepen their understanding of service and sacrifice.

Closer to home, in Bridgeport, Conn., Fairfield University staff members and the Alumni Board joined forces to volunteer with Connecticut Foodshare, a non-profit dedicated to fighting hunger through collaboration with community partners. During the service event, alumni volunteers sorted and packaged thousands of pounds of food destined for food pantries, soup kitchens, and other organizations serving those in need throughout the state. Alumni board member Tony Mixcus ’75, who participated in the project, was impressed by the turnout. “We had our largest number of participants ever, after the announcement about National Jesuit Service Month,” he shared.

Reflecting on the significance of Jesuit Service Month, Kelly Falcone ‘10, president of the Fairfield University Alumni Association Board of Directors, emphasized the tradition of service she’d experienced throughout her life as part of the Fairfield community. “When I was a student, we always participated in service activities in April as part of National Jesuit Service Month. I love that the tradition carries on in our role as alumni. It shows the greater community that service and being people for others are key Jesuit values that we truly live even after our time on campus.”

Falcone’s sentiment resonates with many alumni who participated in National Jesuit Service Month events and activities. For them, the initiative served as a reminder of the transformative power of service and the importance of giving back to the community. From packing food boxes at local pantries to honoring veterans at memorials, Fairfield alumni continue to be committed to making a positive impact in the world.

This year’s kick-off of the National Jesuit Service Month initiative was a tremendous success and Fairfield is eager to build upon this momentum in the years ahead. The Fairfield University Alumni Association remains dedicated to cultivating a vibrant culture of service, volunteerism, and connection among its alumni family. With ongoing initiatives and opportunities for engagement, alumni are encouraged to continue making a difference through their local communities and beyond.

If you are a Fairfield alumna/alumnus who served in your community during Jesuit Service Month this April, we’d love to hear more about how you made an impact— share your service.

Since 2014, Fairfield’s Connecticut Writing Project (CWP) programs have benefited more than 2,500 students in grades 3 through 12.

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (May 3, 2024)— The Young Adult Literacy Labs program of the Connecticut Writing Project (CWP)–Fairfield was recently bestowed the 2025 Divergent Award for Excellence in the Implementation of Literacy in a Digital Age. This award comes from the Initiative for Literacy in a Digital Age, which recognizes excellence in programs and initiatives surrounding writing and digital literacy.

Bryan Ripley Crandall, PhD, associate professor of educational studies and teacher preparation in the School of Education and Human Development, serves as director of CWP–Fairfield. The programs offered at Fairfield emphasize collaboration, publication, and embracing the diverse demographics of southern Connecticut. Students and teachers showcase their work in an annual published anthology, POW!—Power of Words.

“This recognition is for the teachers and young people,” said Dr. Crandall. “Too often our classroom leaders and the young people they work with are not celebrated for their brilliance, creativity, hard work, and dedication to learning. This award sees the wonderful educators who teach our programs and the success of our writers.”

This Divergent Award for Excellence recognizes the pivotal role literacy plays in the digital landscape, and those who diverge from traditional pedagogies and research approaches. It recognizes the contributions of educators and scholars who have dedicated their careers to the theoretical and practical study of 21st century literacies.

“We received a record number of nominees for the 2025 class. The educators, librarians, community organizers, K-12 educators, college and career leaders, and students honored by this recognition are transformational difference-makers in the field of literacy,” said Shelbie Witte, PhD, senior director of outreach and teacher education at Oklahoma State University, and founding director of the initiative for literacy in a digital age.

Honorees will share their work as part of the Literacy in a Digital Age lecture series in April 2025.

Allison Fallon (Greenwich Public Schools), Tim Huminski (Easton-Redding Region 9), Stefania Vendrella (Greens Farm Academy), Abu Bility (Syracuse Academy of Science), and Dave Wooley (Stamford Public Schools) currently lead the literacy labs with Fairfield University alumni William King (Bridgeport Public Schools), Emily Diggs (Westport Public Schools), Jessica Baldizon (Bridgeport Public Schools), and Stefania Vendrella (Greens Farm Academy).

Through this recognition, CWP will continue to lead writing practices and programs under The National Writing Project, a collaborative network dedicated to advancing writing education.

DANBURY – “If you don’t manage your own career, someone else will.”

Those were the words of Immaculate’s Career Day keynote speaker, Rob O’Neill ‘91, who is the Chief Financial Officer of Viatris, a global pharmaceutical company. He said he came to Immaculate Friday, April 26 from Pittsburgh because he still cares about the school that helped him achieve success.

“When I went off to Bryant University I felt well prepared, not only educationally but spiritually,” O’Neill told students. “I should probably tell you that your faith and your morals are extremely important. As you go through life and your career, you’re going to be challenged and I’m going to ask you now to consider not compromising on your morals.”

Twenty-one speakers met with students in small groups in Immaculate’s classrooms as part of the annual event. Among them were a civil defense attorney, social worker, registered dietician, IT director, school counselor, financial planner, biotechnology executive, pastry chef, Sikorsky flight operations chief, registered nurse, TV producer, restaurant owner, teacher, author and sales director.

“We are blessed with an incredible alumni community that gives back in so many ways,” said Jeannie Demko ‘88, Director of Alumni and Events. “Our graduates go on to be successful in a variety of careers and we love it when they come back to share advice and the secrets of their success with the Mustangs of today.”

Exposing students to as many career options as possible is one of the key objectives of Immaculate’s Counseling Department, where college prep truly begins on day one.

“We have so many students whose curiosity and inspiration were sparked by hearing someone share the details – and journey – of their career,” said Tim Nash, Dean of Counseling. “And we receive great feedback from students on how helpful they find these events.”


May 14, 2024 6-8PM
with Dr. Yvonne R. Masakowski

Program Price: $25

The Faith and War lecture series will explore the intersection of faith and war through the lens of the art, music, literature, and poetry which distinguish each war era and have influenced the lives of soldiers, their families, and their societies – and our world today.

Sign up now at or call 860.536.0565 x0



May 22, 2024
with Sister Theresita Donach, CSFN

Program Price: $75 (includes hot lunch)

This Day of Recollection promises an enriching experience, centered around the remarkable theme: “Mary the First Tabernacle of our God.” Seeking to deepen your connection with God and find inspiration in the extraordinary life of Mary? Look no further! Uncover the depths of Mary’s humanity, and her incredible journey ignite your own spiritual transformation.

Sign up now at or call 860.536.0565 x0