Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

DANBURY—Immaculate High School is proud to announce that one of its freshman students, Maximillian Fleming of Redding, earned a perfect score of 1440 on the PSAT 8/9.

Immaculate administers the PSAT to freshman and sophomores as a way to practice for the SAT test junior year. It’s all part of the school’s rigorous college preparatory program. Fleming was the only student taking the PSAT at Immaculate this year to earn a perfect score. The PSAT 8/9 consists of 98 questions divided into two sections, reading and writing and math, and takes approximately 134 minutes to complete (according to the College Board).

“We are incredibly proud of him,” said Dean of Counseling Timothy Nash. “This is no easy feat. We also want to encourage all students that, no matter what score they earned, there’s always time to practice and improve. This is precisely why we give the PSAT as a practice exam.”

It is November, with its Feasts of All Saints and All Souls Day. On these days I do remember people who figured prominently in my life, people with whom I identified myself. Many of them were relatives, the familiar people whose faces I can picture and voices I can remember. They were the voices of home, of summertime, and Sundays and holidays, and meals together with all the simple joys. I can see before me the faces of grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins and nephews and nieces, god-fathers. Their memory bring back happy times and some situations touched by suffering. Et omnibus in Christo quiescentibus, “and for all who rest in Christ.” How much meaning these words have gathered.

So many people I loved are gone. In the language of St. Paul and the early Christians, they “fell asleep.” Mk. 5:39: “And when He had entered, He said to them, ‘why do you make a tumult and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.’”

Death after death has marred my life and I find myself more and more alone. One can have a fear of some final loneliness. So much fear in the world is fear of this loneliness.
All the people who had loved the young man I once was are gone. For me, a whole world has lived and died. There’s been so many deaths, one after the other. So much is ended. It makes for a lonesome world. Sometimes a procession troops through my mind of all the people I’ve loved and were now dead. There are those who can never be replaced. With them gone, the world seems strangely empty. I thought them immortal. There are times when I catch myself looking for some of them, even expecting to see them. Sometimes I do feel a special sense of their presence in my life.

A number of times I was with a dying loved one. I learned that all of us take with us the knowledge of having loved and having been loved. Research has proven that the five last things which people most want or need at the end of their lives are:

• Granting forgiveness
• Seeking forgiveness
• Expressing gratitude
• Demonstrating love
• Saying good-bye

My Aunt Mae died without a sound, as if to spare her visitors any further trouble. She died softly and quietly. She raised her eyes to heaven, smiled with an expression of mingled happiness, surprise, and delight, and expired.

The loss that marked my life more than anything was the death of my wife, Marcy. It was as if she were going away from me and I could not hold her back. It was as if she were bidding me farewell. I’m convinced that dead she watches over my life.

I’ve often asked God to allow my dead wife to come for me on my deathbed. I often think of old men struggling on alone, experiencing the weariness of survival. Their body has become a burden and a chore for them. It feels as if their body has betrayed and confined them.

As Saint Therese of Lisieux said: “Dying is the last thing I’ll have a chance to do well.” I hope I won’t have left behind any unsaid apologies and unstated affections. The way I would like it to be would be would be no doctors, no hospitals, no sickness and shame, just a sudden step across the line. I would like to end my life giving as little fuss as possible.

There is a Jewish Midrash that says that when a fig is gathered at the proper time it is good. The owner of the fig tree knows when their fruit is ripe for plucking, and he plucks it. It is the same way with dying. God knows when the time of the righteousness has come. As Julian of Norwich said: “His wisdom and love do not allow the end to come until the best time.” I’d like to die in harness, peacefully and composed. There’s an anguish that troubles me at the thought that some day I won’t “be here.” We are all destined to have someone say of us one day, “He’s gone.”

You know, I can still vividly remember my 8th grade classmates. They are not nameless. They are known. I feel they were mine, and shall ever be. An ancient Aztec Indian prayer states that all is on loan; we are only on loan to each other for a short time.

In John 11:23-25 Jesus makes the promise that anyone bereaved of a loved one wants to hear Jesus say to him/her: “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even if they die, will live.”

As I grow older I grow more inclined to see death as the gateway into life, the end of the journey, and the arrival home. The time will come for me to weigh anchor for the final journey. I believe the promise that our death will reunite us with those loved ones who have died, that we will once again see their faces and hear their voices. St. Therese of Lisieux wrote of her parents meeting each other and their dead children in heaven.

There’s that reunion I imagine for me, a gathering of loved ones that awaits me. Sometimes I picture all the people I loved and lost marching toward me from their graves.

I’m disinclined to exit. But I surrender to the mystery of God’s love and mercy.

“One short sleep past and we wake eternally, and death shall be no more; death thou shalt die” (John Donne).

“All life death does end, and each day dies with sleep now. It is all death life does end, and each day lives forever” Enough! The Resurrection.” (Gerard Manley Hopkins)

There’s one more quote I very much like:

Because I could not stop for death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held just ourselves And immortality.
We slowly drove,
he knew no haste,
And I had put away my leisure too,
For his civility (Emily Dickinson).

When I went to the Connecticut Catholic Men’s Conference recently, I heard a new approach on how to increase vocations to the priesthood. An approach that we all have to embrace, not just for more priests, but to save our Church and to save our country during these troubled and desperate times.

Father Anthony Federico, director of vocations for the Archdiocese of Hartford, stood before 600 men and told them: “I am here today because I am not satisfied with empty churches, and I am not satisfied when Holy Mother Church is degraded because I do not believe the Son of God died on the cross for what we see today.”

So what is he doing about it? Every night, he goes before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament on his knees and “begs him for total renewal in our Church.”

Then, he appealed to the audience and said: “I ask you to beg with me, I ask you to beg the Lord for new priests in our Church.”

To be sure, he’s doing other things besides begging Jesus, but it has to start with begging … and not just ordinary begging. We have to beg Jesus face-to-face before the Blessed Sacrament.

Our Church and our world are beset by countless intractable problems that won’t be solved by another task force, another committee, another report, another focus group, another survey, or another study, with or without artificial intelligence. Don’t get me wrong. Those things are fine, and they keep people employed, but unless we’re begging Jesus for help, they won’t mean anything.

It’s reached a time in the history of the Church and our country for us to fall on our knees in humility before the Blessed Sacrament and beg Christ to save us. We have to beg for more priests, for our family members and friends who have fallen away from the faith, for our own faith to be strengthened, for our divided country, for our divided Church, for an end to war, for an end to the anger and anxiety, and for hope and courage.

When Father Federico told his story about going before the Blessed Sacrament every night, he didn’t say, “I asked him.” He didn’t say, “I appealed to him.” He didn’t say, “I petitioned him.” He didn’t say, “I urged him.” More than once, he said, “I begged him.”

When it comes to Christ, none of us should think begging is beneath us.

Do you remember the Gospel story about that very annoying and very persistent Syrophoenician woman who approached Jesus because her daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit? She had more chutzpah than the entire island of Manhattan.

St. Mark said she fell at Jesus’ feet and “begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter.” At first, Jesus rebuffed her and said, “It’s not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” Hearing that, anyone else would have crept away downcast, but she came right back at him with her famous retort:“ Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.”

“For saying this, you may go,” he told her. “The demon has gone out of your daughter.”

Jesus gets it. Do you remember the parable in Luke’s Gospel about the need to pray with persistence?

Jesus said: “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time, the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me, I shall deliver a just decision for her, lest she finally come and strike me.’”

The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.”

We have to be like that widow. We have to be like that Syrophoenician woman. We have to “call out to him day and night,” as if our lives depended on it. Because they do.

We wondered if it would ever happen. While the other siblings were settled, he was the restless one. We thought he was content being “fun Uncle Dave,” as his nieces and nephews called him, but we were wrong, for all he needed was a little more time. My youngest brother, the supposedly confirmed bachelor who was known for spontaneity, a love of travel, and his city apartment, was getting married.

Though he often had a date for holidays and events—kind, engaging women whom the family welcomed—after a few months, he’d usually say that they were just not “the one.” He watched as friends around him married and settled down. Many had children. One became a priest. To an extent, he enjoyed his single life and the freedom it brought, but I knew my little brother longed for a partner, one to share his life. This became more apparent as he approached his mid-40s, and we wondered, maybe his plan wasn’t God’s plan.

Then, about a year ago, Dave confided in me that he had met Christie. From the first time he introduced her to us at Easter dinner last spring, we saw something different. The ease of their interactions. The genuine laughter between them. The moral values they shared. The way “I” quickly became “we.” Maybe she’s “the one,” we thought.

“No, he’s still just fun Uncle Dave,” Elizabeth assured us, wondering about this woman who had captured the heart of her beloved godfather. “It’s hard to even picture him married!” Abigail answered.

We felt the same, even as the dating apps and well-meaning colleagues introduced him to others looking for love. No one, though, was a partner with whom he could imagine spending his life. It wasn’t until he paused from looking and trying that a new co-worker saw an empty seat next to him at a meeting and struck up a conversation. A connection was made, and he admitted that from the start, he thought he had found “the one.”

Like my brother, Christie had rocky relationships and wondered if she was destined to remain single or to settle for someone just to please others. Even as she struggled and approached her early 40s, hope remained. Was her plan God’s plan?

It was, for them both. It just took a little longer than some.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” I have often thought of this passage from Ecclesiastes in the weeks since Dave called us to share his news. The seasons they spent apart were necessary to bring them together. God led my brother and Christie down a myriad of pathways that seemed, at times, confusing, but in reality, those experiences led them exactly where they needed to be—with each other in mid-life near that empty chair in a meeting room.

Though I think they will both retain their spontaneity and love of travel, fun Uncle Dave will now have a wife, and the city apartment will now be a split level in the suburbs, a home where we can all gather “under heaven.”

By Joe Pisani

TRUMBULL — They gathered to remember husbands, wives, children, parents and friends. They gathered in love and grief around a 10-foot-tall Christmas tree at St. Joseph’s Center and hung ornaments dedicated to loved ones who died.

A sister who lost a brother to brain cancer. A friend who lost a best friend to Lou Gehrig’s Disease. A woman who lost a mother to Alzheimer’s. A mother who lost a daughter at 36. A father and son who lost their wife and mother. And a community of elderly who lost some 50 residents during 2023.

“Hanging an ornament with the name of a person you love who has died can be so healing,” said Carolyn Killian, Director of Bereavement for Catholic Cemeteries, who organized the event. “It can take a hard time and transform it into a healing moment, not just for you but for other members of your family.”

The tree, which is in the chapel, was blessed by Father Nick Pavia, chaplain of the nursing care facility and of the Bereavement Ministry, during a ceremony November 29.

Fr. Pavia said: “In preparing the blessing, two words came to mind, ‘blessed hope.’ Hope is not just wishful thinking; hope is insurance that comes from love and faith. And this community of Genesis St. Joseph’s Center is a community of love, of kindness, of compassion and of hope. We face death every day because death is a passage to our eternal hope.”

He also recalled a previous chaplain of the center, Fr. John Punnakunnel, who recently passed away in India on September 27 at the age of 94. Fr. Punnakunnel was known for his joy and regularly visited the sick and dying in hospitals and nursing homes.

Quoting the late Mother Angelica, Father Pavia said, “Hope in this life is looking forward to the promises of God, but heaven is the possession of those promises.”

“Heavenly Father, we are blessed with your hope and with all your blessings,” Father said. “The word ‘compassion’ means ‘able to feel with and identify with the feelings of others.’ You, Father, teach us how to have empathy and compassion for others, so bless this beautiful tree, this Christmas tree, this tree of hope, this tree of assurance of blessed hope in your promises. Dear Jesus, you understand us like no one else ever could because you walked in our shoes and deliberately took the role of the Good Shepherd to lift us up and carry us home to Heaven.”

After the blessing, people gathered around the tree, hung their ornaments and shared their stories.

Sophia Nemergut lost her husband Vincent two years ago on September 10, 2021. This year, she said, they would have been married 50 years.

“I came here 50 years ago from Poland,” she recalled. “He was from Slovakia and came in 1968. We met in America and got married.” They had three children and now seven grandchildren.

Photos by Joe Pisani

Ernie Maseto lost his wife Denise at the end of July, and shortly after, his mother-in-law Linda died. He came to the ceremony with his son Jesse, and they hung ornaments on the tree. At Thanksgiving dinner, Ernie said, there was an empty chair at the table in her honor.

Giovanna Griffin, administrator of St. Joseph’s Center, hung ornaments on the tree in remembrance of the residents who had died throughout the year, including her father Carmen, who passed in September and lived at the facility.

“This tree shows that St. Joseph’s Center is all about taking care of our current residents and remembering those who have passed,” she said. The tree will be up throughout the Christmas season.

In her comments, Killian thanked everyone for attending the ceremony, along with Father Pavia for his work with her in the ministry. She recalled the first Tree of Remembrance ceremony that was held a year ago at St. Mary/Putnam Cemetery in Greenwich, when more than 200 people came out.

“It was such a healing moment that I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to share this.’”

Killian acknowledged Dr. William Atwood, Director of the Music Ministry for the diocese, who provided music, along with Giovanna Griffin, administrator, Donna Palmer, director of recreation, Ed Tamimi, family advisor at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, and Abriola Parkview Funeral Home for providing refreshments.

“It was beautiful to see residents and community members coming together to honor the memory of their loved ones by placing an ornament on the Tree of Remembrance,” she later said.

“This simple but powerful gesture demonstrates we have not forgotten the people we have loved — we carry them in a special place in our hearts until we meet again.”

She also encourages anyone, who knows someone suffering a loss, to reach out with simple acts of kindness, such as helping them set up their tree if they plan to decorate one, saying a prayer for them, and offering to assist them any way possible during a painful time.

“These small gestures will help them on their healing journey — along with other members of their family because we never grieve alone,” Killian said. “When you hang an ornament on the tree with the name of someone you love, you recognize your grief, you remember your loved one, and you perform a small act that moves you forward and helps you heal.”

For more information about bereavement programs or to receive daily reflections from “The Healing Journey,” visit https://ctcemeteries.org/bereavement-support/

TRUMBULL—St. Joseph High School is proud to share that their Varsity Girls Soccer Team has been ranked 6th in the nation. On November 21, 2023, the United Soccer Coaches released the High School Rankings for the final regular season of fall high school boys and girls soccer.

St. Joes Girls Soccer moved up from 9th last year to 6th this year with a regular season record of 22-0-1.

“This is a well-deserved honor for our girls varsity soccer team and head coach, Jack Nogueira,” remarked Kevin Butler, Athletics Director. “To be ranked in the top 25 in the country is a wonderful accomplishment and comes from a tremendous amount of dedication, commitment, and hard work throughout their season.”

On November 18, 2023, St. Joes Girls Soccer won the Connecticut Class LL Championship over Notre-Dame Fairfield. The win was the third straight championship for St. Joes as well as the ninth CIAC Championship in the program’s history.

The full list of ranked high schools can be found here.

By Joe Pisani

ROME- On a lonely night during the COVID pandemic, Luca Badetti, a theology professor in Rome, was sitting on the sand near the Mediterranean. During the Italian lockdown, anxiety and separation seemed to afflict everyone’s lives. There was so much uncertainty, he thought, as ideas began forming for a book he would write about “the night” that touches the human soul.

“The night that was being lived out was something deeper, vaster and less tangible. It was a sense of disorientation caused by a pandemic that separated individuals, halted future planning and brought into question some of the structures people had based their lives on,” said Dr. Badetti, Professor and Coordinator of Service Learning at Loyola University Chicago, John Felice Rome Center.

On that evening, as he watched people passing, he says, “It seemed that there was a big question mark hovering in the air, comprising questions like ‘Where are we going? Why?  And ‘What is going to happen?’”

Born in Rome and raised in Stamford, Dr. Badetti says from those initial experiences, his latest book was conceived. “Hope in Darkness: Leaving Night,” which was published by Paulist Press, has been described as “a contemplation of five simple and yet profound questions: Who, What, Why, Where and When?”

The purpose of the book is to help people “find hope in moments of disorientation.”

“During moments of disorientation, crisis and loss,” he says, “we may grapple with questions that have to do with identity (who we are), community (where do we find support and belonging), time (when will what we wait for come about), reality and meaning (what are we living and why or what for).

His book refers to these questions as the 5 W’s, which we must answer. He encourages us to live through the questions rather than avoiding them or pushing them aside because answering them will ultimately lead to a “hopeful horizon and new life direction.”

Night is a common theme in the New Testament, he says. Night can connote betrayal and hardship as in the Agony in the Garden that Jesus suffered. But night also can connote freedom and liberation as when St. Peter and the apostles were freed from jail by an angel.

“My book invites readers to live through their nights with fresh hope,” Dr. Badetti says. “It invites them to become aware of their moments of disorientation and difficulty, face the questions that arise through them, and find through those very questions spaces of hope they might not have imagined before.”

The book contains stories of parents, workers, young adults, refugees, the homeless and the disabled, who are dealing with their personal “nights,” and it includes reflections about our spiritual and psychological needs.

“I bring together a variety of experiences,” he says. “Hopefully, people won’t fall into the trap of thinking, ‘Oh, it’s about that group of people, so it doesn’t speak to me’ … because it does.”

Dr. Badetti returned to his native Rome to teach theology at the John Felice Rome Center of Loyola University Chicago. He also coordinates Service Learning and the First Year Experience. As part of Service Learning, he encourages students to combine in-classroom learning with reflective engagement with marginalized communities in Rome. The First Year Experience supports first-year students as they transition and grow into the experience of a new educational context, a new country, and a new community.

In 1998, his family moved to Stamford, and he graduated from Westhill High School. He went to Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio where he received a degree in theology and communications and a minor in philosophy and mental health and human services.

He received a master’s in clinical psychology from the Institute for Psychological Studies in Arlington, Va., and a doctorate in disability studies from the University of Illinois, Chicago.

While he was a student at Franciscan University, he began reading about L’Arche communities, consisting of homes and workplaces where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work together as peers in a spirit of simplicity. He began volunteering at a Massachusetts community outside of Boston and later served as Director of Community Life at L’Arche Chicago.

L’Arche communities provide homes and workplaces where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work together as peers in a spirit of simplicity. “L’Arche” is French for “the ark,” referring to Noah’s Ark, a symbol for refuge and the covenant between God and humanity.

While in Chicago, he taught at Loyola University’s Institute for Pastoral Studies and DePaul University’s Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies program.

His first book, “I Believe in You,” is a compilation of stories about how people with disabilities can widen our understanding of ourselves and of God.

 

BRIDGEPORT—The Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport, will confer Pontifical Honors granted by His Holiness Pope Francis on 39 lay faithful of the diocese during a Vespers Prayer Service set for Sunday  December 3, at 4 pm in St. Augustine Cathedral, 359 Washington Avenue, Bridgeport. All are invited to attend, or click here to watch the livestream of the Vespers ceremony.

During the Vespers Prayer Service, the Bishop will be conferring Benemerenti Medals and Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross Medals on those who have served the diocese as donors, board members, and Catholic Center staff.

The bishop said that Papal Honors are a recognition of recipients and a celebration of the good work going on in the entire diocese.

“Please accept my heartfelt congratulation on receiving this special honor from Pope Francis. While it is a wonderful recognition of your commitment to the Catholic Faith, it is also a significant moment and source of pride for the diocese of Bridgeport. In gratitude for your generosity and faithful example, and with an assurance of my prayers for you and your family,” said the bishop when he notified recipients.

Bishop Caggiano said that several months ago he personally wrote to the Holy See in order to request that Pope Francis bestow the honors on those “who have distinguished themselves by their faith, wise counsel, and generous support of the mission of the Church.”

“Over one year ago, I began the process of petitioning the Holy See to award Pontifical Honors on 40 members of the lay faithful of the Diocese of Bridgeport. My desires was for the Holy Father to formally recognize those individuals who have distinguished themselves by their faith and generous support of the mission of the church,” he said.

The last time Papal Honors were conferred was in September 2018, when ten faithful were inducted into the Order of Saint Gregory the Great, and ten were inducted into the Order of Pope Saint Sylvester.

Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross Medals are bestowed on individuals who have merited special recognition by the Holy See.  The Medal, gold in color, is a Pontifical decoration conferred by the Pope on those faithful who have provided a distinguished level of service for both the universal Church and its head which deserve special recognition by him for their labors, and for their fidelity to and love of the Church. The obverse side of the medal depicts Sts. Peter and Paul in its center.

Benemerenti Medals are bestowed on individuals who have merited special recognition by the Holy See. This Medal is a Pontifical decoration conferred on recipients for distinguished service to Catholic principles, the Church and society, who have shown an active fidelity to and love for the Church. The medal is a Greek Cross, gold in color, depicting Jesus Christ with his hand raised in blessing

Papal Honors Recipients:

Mr. Conrad and Mrs. Carol Calandra St. Lawrence Parish, Shelton Cross Pro Ecclesia
Ms. Debbie Charles St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Fairfield Benemerenti
Dr. Steven Cheeseman St. Mark Parish, Stratford Benemerenti
Mr. Charles and Mrs. Ruth Chiusano St. Pius X Parish, Fairfield Benemerenti
Ms. Sheila Clancy St. Pius X Parish, Fairfield Benemerenti
Mr. Jim Colica St. Mary Parish, Greenwich Benemerenti
Mr. Al and Mrs. Chris DiGuido St. Pius X Parish, Fairfield Cross Pro Ecclesia
Mr. Michael and Mrs. Cece Donoghue St. Thomas More Parish, Darien Benemerenti
Ms. Betty Dunne St. Matthew Parish, Norwalk Benemerenti
Ms. Lisa Ferraro St. Aloysius Parish, New Canaan Benemerenti
Mr. Kevin and Mrs. Yvonne Grimes St. Rose of Lima Parish, Newtown Cross Pro Ecclesia
Mr. Michael Hanlon Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Hamden Benemerenti
Mrs. Judy Higgins St. Mary Parish, Greenwich Cross Pro Ecclesia
Mr. Edward and Mrs. Lydia Knapp Georgetown Oratory, Redding Benemerenti
Mr. Andy Knuth St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Weston Cross Pro Ecclesia
Mr. Tom Kolenberg Basilica of St. John the Evangelist, Stamford Cross Pro Ecclesia
Mrs. Anne McCrory St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Fairfield Benemerenti
Mrs. Erin Neil-Hickey St. Louis de Montfort Parish, Litchfield Benemerenti
Mr. Bill and Mrs. Diane Parrett St. Aloysius Parish, New Canaan Cross Pro Ecclesia
Mr. Peter and Mrs. Barbara Ripp St. Michael the Archangel Parish, Greenwich Cross Pro Ecclesia
Mrs. Grace Rodriguez St. Aloysius Parish, New Canaan Cross Pro Ecclesia
Mr. Andrew Schulz St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Fairfield Benemerenti
Mr. Bob and Mrs. Barbara Scinto St. Pius X Parish, Fairfield Cross Pro Ecclesia
Mr. John and Mrs. Cindy Sites St. John Parish, Darien Cross Pro Ecclesia
Mr. Patrick and Mrs. Mary Ann Toole St. Luke Parish, Westport Benemerenti
Mr. Brian D. Wallace St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Fairfield Benemerenti
Mr. Chris and Mrs. Lorraine Wilson St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Fairfield Cross Pro Ecclesia

BRIDGEPORT–Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, with a formal decree, recognized the Hispanic Charismatic Renewal in the Diocese of Bridgeport as a private association and approved the new statutes. He named Very Reverend Arthur Mollenhauer, Judicial Vicar and Rector of St. Augustine Cathedral, as Spiritual Director and Coordinator of the recognized association for a period of six years. Father Mollenhauer officially took on this new role on October 7, 2023, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary. The see of the recently approved association will be the Cathedral of St. Augustine.

Pictured: Father Mollenhauer, recently appointed, meets with leaders of the Hispanic Charismatic Renewal.

Over the past few months Bishop Frank was working with Father Mollenhauer to renew the association’s statutes. The Hispanic Charismatic Renewal celebrated a diocesan congress on the Feast of Pentecost, May 28, 2023, at The Cathedral Parish with the participation of over five hundred members. The bishop sent a video message to encourage the members to continue to grow in their spiritual life and live faithfully the charism of the Charismatic Renewal.

Leadership Retreat at Sacred Heart Parish, Stamford, to review the new statutes. November 18, 2023.

Father Mollenhauer stated that, “Bishop Frank has a great appreciation for the Charismatic Renewal and he wanted to give the association more support and guidance in the years to come.” The diocesan parochial leaders of the Hispanic Charismatic Renewal are meeting with their new spiritual director to implement the newly approved statutes in the thirteen diocesan parishes where the association is present.

Father Mollenhauer says, “I have always appreciated the spirit of the Charismatic Renewal and even though I do not come from the Charismatic Renewal, the Holy Spirit has called me at this moment to participate more closely in the association’s life and mission. God has His way of calling us to service in the Church. Stay tuned for upcoming diocesan activities for Hispanic Charismatic Renewal. I hope to be a catalyst for spiritual and numerical growth in the diocesan Charismatic Renewal.”

By Steven Filizzola

It began one Sunday October morning in a beautiful Church in the hills of Norwalk. An innocent talk on “kindness” with the Saint Jerome elementary faith formation children went slightly off cue. The “little ones” wanted to know a bit more- “How do we show lots of kindness?” So, they learned the virtue of compassion. “But what can we really do to help others in need?” So, they learned the virtue of generosity. Suddenly, they realized that even a little child…one with a compassionate soul and a generous heart…can make a difference in the lives of others. And, they understood, with smiles bright and beautiful, that a small “army” of passionate children can make a profound impact on the world.

After learning of the kindness and compassion of Saint Francis of Assisi, their inspired idea was born. The children of Saint Jerome decided to work hard, raise funds, and do “wondrous deeds” to make a difference in the lives of others. And, so, the “Saint Francis of Assisi Team” was created, in honor of their favorite Saint and their newfound desire to be compassionate and generous children.

The children now work hard at Church on projects to raise funds. And, they have begun their “One Dollar Assisi Fund” in which they each earn one dollar per week at home. Then, they donate their hard-earned pay to the Assisi team fund to undertake their “wondrous deeds.”

Their first kind act, in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, was to sponsor two rescue puppies. Their next act was to “adopt” a 4-year-old girl living in poverty. Now, their new little friend, Monserrat, will have enough food when she is hungry, medicine when she is ill, and plenty of books to go to school.

For Thanksgiving, the children, some as young as five, collected over 300 cans of food to donate to a Church pantry in Bridgeport. They will soon complete their “Compassion at Christmas” deeds (including buying their new friend Monserrat a Christmas present). And there will be lots more for the children to do in 2024. Kindness and compassion must never end, they agree.

Wondrous deeds from the children. More importantly, profound lessons for the “little ones” as they grow in faith and charity: the greatest form of kindness is being compassionate and generous to those who need our help. Both with individual acts and as part of an inspired team, helping just one person can change the world…maybe not the whole world…but their world. So, the elementary children of Saint Jerome will, indeed, change the world. Someone’s world, that is, who needs their compassion.

By Joe Pisani

STRATFORD — How often have you heard the sad lament of a discouraged parent: “Where did I go wrong?” Especially when kids don’t turn out the way you wanted them to. But what about a father who utters, “Where did I go wrong?” because his son wants to be baptized a Catholic, who prays the rosary and who opposes abortion.

Catholic author James Carmody of St. Mark Church in Stratford, wrote a short play that centers on a discussion between a father and a son from a fractured family. The angry middle-aged man and his college-aged son see the world differently — and find themselves poring over the tragedies in their family and debating the Catholic faith, abortion, and the power of prayer. Somewhere in that intense and agonizing conversation, God’s grace intervenes … and things will never be the same.

Carmody’s play, “Falling Apart to Come Together, was among six that were selected for the 2023 Catholic Playwrights Festival at Theatre 71 at Blessed Sacrament Church, just off Broadway in Manhattan.

Carmody wrote the play and acted in it. The character of the son was played by his son, Andrew, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

“The play is about a man who is very anti-Catholic, and we don’t really know why,” Carmody said. “And when the play starts he is sitting with his son, who tells him he has to debate about abortion at his Catholic college.”

The father informs the boy, “This is a pro-choice family.” But after a few minutes, you realize the play involves much more than a debate about Catholic morality. There’s a lot of repressed pain and anger.

His wife, who was Catholic, died and gave her son a rosary, which he uses to pray for his father, who is an angry and wounded man. His other son left home for New Mexico because his girlfriend got pregnant, and the father insisted she have an abortion.

Eventually, the son gets to the point and tells his father he’s going to be baptized at the Catholic college he attends and wants him to be there. And slowly but certainly God’s grace is at work through the young man.

“The question is can the father accept the grace that is being offered,” Carmody said. “Can he see it and recognize it as a way out of his anger and pain and have a reunification with his son, who giving him an opportunity to cooperate with God’s grace. God is working through the son.”`

The emotional intensity of the play escalates. At the end, the father and son embrace as the man says, “I don’t get it … where did I go wrong? I didn’t see any of this coming. I was blind to all of this. When did you begin to think about all of this?”

The son responded: “When Mom gave me this, shortly before she died.” And he shows him the rosary. “I have been saying this rosary every day since Mom gave it to me.”

“I never wanted my life to be like this,” the father says. “How did our family fall apart like this?”

The son tells him, “There was never anything to hold it together … until now.”

Carmody, who taught English and theater at New York’s Information Technology High School, had a previous play titled, “Where’s Mommy,” performed at the Harold Clurman Theatre. He is currently working on two plays, one about Ukraine and the other about homelessness.

Carmody also spent more than a decade researching and writing a historical novel about Lt. Joseph Petrosino titled, “The Giant Killer,” based on the life and exploits of the most renowned Italian-American law officer in the city’s history, who was known as the “Italian Sherlock Holmes.”

The book, which was published by Pocol Press and is available on Amazon, begins on January 5, 1905 when one of the worst blizzards in history paralyzed the city. A bomb set off in a barber shop leaves one man dead, and in the weeks that follow, there is a series of bombings as Petrosino pursues his investigation.

Theatre 71, which sponsored the series of short Catholic plays, is connected to Blessed Sacrament Church on 152 West 71st Street.

“Theater 71 at Blessed Sacrament presents professional theatrical and musical performances, which support our parish community both financially and spiritually by uplifting spirits of those who attend,” said Susan Campochiaro Confrey, the artistic director. “We regularly have different performances, music, dance and films that are appropriate for a Catholic audience — with events for children as well as adults.”

For more information, visit (https://www.theatre71.org)

Obituary of Michael F. Basso

Michael F. Basso, age 89, of Bridgeport, beloved husband of the late Therese (Terri) Davey Basso, passed away on Sunday, November 12, 2023, with his loving family by his side. Born in Bridgeport, on December 23, 1933, he was a son of the late Michael J. and Ann Mayernick Basso. A 1954 graduate of Warren Harding High School and a proud U.S. Army Veteran. He was a retired Senior Systems Analyst for IBM with over 40 years of committed service.

Mike had 24 years of service as a member of the Knights of Columbus. He was the first Grand Knight of Council 12615 at St. Charles Parish. He was a Faithful Navigator at Assembly 107, District Deputy and an organizer of the Blue Mass along with the Diocese of Bridgeport. He was a dedicated parishioner and a member of the Parish council, financial committee & an usher. He was an avid Giants, Yankee, & UConn Basketball fan. He enjoyed organizing trips to Mohegan and Atlantic City with his family and friends. But above all, he was a dedicated husband, father and Papa, who always put the needs of his family first. He was described by many as the most thoughtful, kind and giving man. His smile lit up every room and he always had a “God Bless” for all. He will be truly missed by all who knew and loved him.

He leaves behind his two loving children, Michael V. Basso of Bridgeport and Michele Basso Cennamo and her husband Jack of Trumbull, two cherished grandchildren, Jeff Cennamo and Nikki Taylor and her husband Joe, an adored great grandson, Grayson Taylor and a brother, Stephen Basso and his wife Diane. His memory will also be cherished by his extended family, the Delaney and Davey families, as well as several nieces, nephews and cousins. He was pre-deceased by his sister, Dolores Basso Cortello and husband Sam and his brother, Lawrence Basso and wife Joan.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday, November 20, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. in St. Charles Borromeo Church, 1255 East Main St., Bridgeport. Interment with military honors will follow in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Trumbull. Relatives and friends may greet the family on Sunday, November 19, 2023 from 1 – 4 p.m. in the Abriola Parkview Funeral Home, 419 White Plains Road, Trumbull.

Those desiring may make memorial contributions to the St. Charles Borromeo Church, 391 Ogden St., Bridgeport, CT 06608, Swim Across the Sound at www.swimacrossthesound.org or the College Fund for his great grandson, through the funeral director. To leave an online condolence please visit www.abriola.com.

BRIDGEPORT- In the eighth year since its founding, Foundations in Education is pleased to release its annual report for the year of 2023.

To date, the foundation hasawarded over $20 million in tuition assistance to thousands of students through the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, helping families from across Fairfield County achieve the dream of a Catholic education. In addition to tuition assistance, Foundation in Education has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in Innovation and Leadership Grants to teachers and has committed more than $7 million to support specific projects to improve Catholic education at our schools.

To read the full report, see below.

22-23-FIE-Annual-Report-spreads

By Emily Clark

TRUMBULL— “It is a great grace to be in the presence of a saint, an apostle who many, many times with this arm embraced the body of Jesus Christ.” These words, spoken by Father Carlos Martins, expressed the awe that thousands of faithful experienced as they venerated the major relic of the arm of St. Jude Thaddeus at St. Theresa Parish in Trumbull on November 8.

During his nationwide tour, Father Martins, director of Treasures of the Church, has accompanied the relic and given people the rare opportunity to pray before one of the church’s most popular saints, also known as the “Apostle of the Impossible” for helping those most in need of healing and miracles.

From 1 pm to 10 pm, lines wound through the church and oftentimes within the vestibule and up the sidewalk as locals as well as those from the greater community and tri-state area waited up to 90 minutes in chilly weather to see the arm of this beloved saint, which was enclosed in a wooden reliquary before the altar. As the only stop in Connecticut, the event drew close to 4,000 devout Catholics of all ages, many of whom said they have long prayed to St. Jude.

Matthew Avigliano and his wife Lisa drove from Madison, N.J. to attend the event with friends from Woodbury.

“I’ve always had a great devotion to St. Jude,” said Avigliano, whose middle name is Jude. “As I kid, we had some difficult situations in my family, and we invoked him during those times. It’s my first time seeing the relic, so truthfully, I’m a bit overwhelmed.”

Julie Sees, who made the drive from the Diocese of Paterson in New Jersey, had the same reaction.

“When I saw the relic, I was speechless. It’s such a blessing to have a piece of Rome in our midst,” she said. Her mother Lucielle agreed and said that, like Avigliano, she has prayed to St. Jude many times throughout her life.

Locally, teenagers Ellie and Lauren Holmes who belong to St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull stopped on their way home from school and waited over an hour in line, though that didn’t seem to bother them.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, a chance to view a saint from Jesus’ time,” said Ellie.

“I’m very religious and don’t mind missing sports or anything to come to this,” Lauren added. “It makes me feel so happy and grateful for my faith.”

As visitors waited to venerate the saint, many purchased gift items such as prayer cards, small medals of St. Jude, Rosary beads, and devotionals which could be held against the glass reliquary during prayer to become third class relics. That is what Carmella Turpin from Albany, N.Y. hoped to do as she waited with her daughter Carla. St. Jude was a favorite of her late husband’s, she said.

“He used to say, ‘I’m such a hopeless case,’ though he wasn’t!” she remembered, holding Rosary beads and a special bracelet. “And he was always devoted to St. Jude.”

Photos by Amy Mortensen

Large, poster-size banners with details of St. Jude hung along the walls of the church giving those in line a chance to learn more about him as well as the protocol for venerating. Despite the long lines, visitors were quiet and patient and had the assistance of more than 100 volunteers. They, like usher Anne Wright and parking attendant George Hess, were grateful to be part of this experience.

“This man had his arm around Jesus,” said Hess, a longtime parishioner at St. Theresa. “They were first cousins. Can you imagine that they probably wrestled together and played together?”

Despite being a first cousin of Our Lord, St. Jude occupies a very humble place, uttering only one sentence in all four Gospels. However, Fr. Carlos said in his homily, he has healed many.

“Don’t think of this relic as merely bone,” he told those gathered for Mass. “All of St. Jude is here because the soul is here.”

St. Jude “is somebody that people go to when they feel really desperate,” said Father Brian Gannon, pastor of St. Theresa. “He has so many miracles attributed to him throughout the centuries,” and those continue to occur today.

Father Martins recounted the story of a miracle early in the relic’s tour. While in Chicago this September, he planned to see an acquaintance of his whose wife had undergone brain surgery years earlier and was left severely disabled. Many activities were impossible for her; even walking and talking were difficult. Because she unable to venerate the relic in person, Father Martins prayed to St. Jude, asking him to visit the woman himself. The next day, the acquaintance called Father Martins with wonderful news. His wife was well again, and doctors confirmed that she had been cured of her illness.

“There is always a miracle with a saint,” Father Martins said. “He is a gift for each person here.”

Following its Connecticut stop, the relic of St. Jude moved on to Rhode Island and Massachusetts and will continue touring the country through May.

Mary Frances Lako, age 80, passed peacefully among her loved ones on October 27, 2023. A longtime resident of Trumbull, Connecticut, Mary was a caring wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend. Her reunion with her late husband Steve in heaven will be joyous after a long, well-lived, and loving life together.

The daughter of Betty May Malmquist Noble and Ralph H. Noble, Jr., Mary was born in Bridgeport, CT on February 1, 1943 and graduated from Notre Dame High School, Fairfield, CT. A 35-year volunteer with Trumbull EMS, she worked at Avco-Lycoming before marriage, at J.C. Penney’s in Trumbull, and in the communication department at the Catholic Center for the Diocese of Bridgeport.

She was a devoted parishioner of St. Stephen’s Church in Trumbull, CT. In high school Mary met the love of her life, Steven Michael Lako, and they married the summer of 1965. Over their 55 years of marriage, they built a beautiful home, family, and circle of close friends. Their loving relationship was an inspiration to everyone they knew.

Together they raised their daughter, Jennifer Irene Laux (Steven), and son Dr. Steven Laszlo Lako (Amy), and showered love and attention on their grandchildren, Emma Mae Lako, Anna Leigh Lako, Lillian Grace Lako, Connor Noble Laux, and Michael Patrick Laux. Mary also leaves behind her beloved siblings Sharon Noble Eaton, Ralph H. Noble III (Lucia), Kathleen “Kate” Noble (Tom) and Elizabeth “Beth” Pinckney (Clarence), sister-in-law Susan Lako Dial (Bill), twin brothers-in-law Ronald “Ronnie” Lako (Mary) and Donald “Donnie” Lako (Pamela), her many nieces and nephews, cousins and dear, longtime friends. She was devoted to all of them and a constant, loving presence in their lives.

Mary enjoyed an active lifestyle, making wonderful memories on multi-generational family vacations, travel and boating excursions with family and friends, visits to her daughter’s and son’s homes in Pennsylvania and Georgia, and to her grandchildren’s high school and college events. From Long Island Sound and the Virgin Islands, to Europe and Ireland, to the big skies of Montana, Mary lived a life filled with adventure, love, and friendship.

She called her home the “party house” and hosted large holiday gatherings for family and friends. She taught her children and grandchildren to appreciate family traditions, home-cooked food, and many life lessons. She always encouraged them “to make good memories” and they did. They were her joy.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 18, 2023 in St. Stephen Church, 6948 Main St., Trumbull, interment will follow in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Trumbull. Friends may call on Friday, November 17, 2023 from 5-7 p.m. at the Abriola Parkview Funeral Home, 419 White Plains Rd., Trumbull. In lieu of flowers, donations to Catholic Relief Services in memory of Mary are graciously accepted.

To leave an online condolence, please visit www.abriola.com.