Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

On Holy Thursday Father Dunn washes the feet of St. Gregory the Great School teachers

DANBURY—A symbolic act of service and a reminder to not only follow the example of the Lord but to call on Him and trust Him, was the message at the Holy Thursday Mass at St. Gregory the Great Parish in Danbury.

“What our Lord did that evening was very powerful and meaningful. He wanted to do something the apostles would not forget,” said Pastor Father Michael Dunn during his homily about the Last Supper.

“The Son of God chose to take the role of a servant,” Father Dunn said. “Our Lord wants to take that role in our lives too. What we are to understand is that our Lord loves us so much, he wants to serve us and like the apostles, we are to allow Him,” Father Dunn said.

Father Dunn explained in Jesus’ time it was a job for the slave, servant or children of a household, not the master of the house, to wash the feet of a visitor as an act of hospitality. Since the apostles called Jesus master it was hard for them to grasp why he would want to wash their feet. The reenactment of the washing of the feet, imitates the humility and selfless love of Jesus, who washed the feet of the Twelve Apostles at the Last Supper, the night before his Crucifixion.

“I am so humbled and honored to be able to follow the example the Lord has given to us,” Father Dunn said before he washed the feet of six schoolteachers, assisted by parochial vicar, Father Christopher Ford.

Father Dunn said when asked to participate most people are either honored, surprised or uncomfortable, much like St. Peter who at first did not want the Lord to wash his feet. But when he understood the significance of the act, a spiritual cleansing and gift of love, he readily agreed.

Father Dunn said teachers from St. Gregory the Great School were chosen for the foot washing reenactment because of their service to the community during the pandemic.

“They have gone above and beyond the call of duty during COVID-19,” he said. “I couldn’t think of anymore more deserving to have their feet washed.”

The teachers reflected the sentiment of the homily.

“It was very humbling to be recognized in such a special way,” said Joya Timmel, a kindergarten teacher and one of the six people who had their foot washed.

Fellow teacher, Amanda Delaney, who teaches pre-K students, said at first she was hesitant to participate because she felt she should be doing an act of service but then realized, like St. Peter, it is just as important to accept and receive acts of love.

“What an amazing experience,” she said. “I felt privileged. How lucky was I to be chosen out of everyone here? It was a great honor.”

Father Dunn said there are many lessons to be learned and actions to be taken to live our faith.

“We are to perform humble charitable acts for others but at the same time we are to be open to a God that wants to serve us,” said Father Dunn, adding that we should be dependent on God.

“We are to go to him for everything and trust He will always do what is in our best interest,” Father Dunn said.

Father Dunn said he is happy to see more and more familiar faces in the pews as COVID-19 restrictions are slowly being relaxed while the church continues to maintain sanitization and social distancing practices.

“We want people to come back to church. It’s time to stop denying what the Mass and God can do when we come together and receive the Eucharist,” he said. “It’s time to come back home.”

The Eucharist compels us to imitate Christ 

BRIDGEPORT—In washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus illustrates what the meaning of the Eucharist is in our lives, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, last night.

The bishop said that at the Last Supper the Lord gave us the example of getting on our hands and knees and “washing the feet of others for their sake and for our salvation.”

“As he does on this most sacred night, the Lord Jesus invites you and me into the Upper Room to share in the great mystery he left his apostles that reveals to the world the depth of God’s gracious love,” he said to begin his homily.

In a Mass that was live-streamed from St. Augustine Cathedral, the bishop said the deeper meaning behind the washing of the feet is the need “to go out into the world and empty ourselves for others,” just as Christ has done in giving his life for us.

Humbling ourselves in such as way is not easy, but it is made possible through the “great gift of the Eucharist,” he said to the nearly 200 who attended the evening Mass in person.

On the night in which he himself washed the feet of diocesan seminarians who attended him at Mass, the bishop said that “in the quiet intimacy of the Upper Room, Jesus shows us his love for man and he shows us how to continue his mission.”

While the bishop quietly performed the moving ritual of washing and drying the feet, the silence of the Church was punctuated by the sound of the pouring of water and an infant vocalizing in a distant pew.

On Holy Thursday, Jesus “took the familiar element of the Passover meal—unleavened bread and the choices of wines and allowed them to be the medium through we receive his sacred body and blood, soul and divinity,” the bishop said.

Just as we are washed clean and nourished through baptism, the  Eucharist is “a free gift cannot be earned or merited. So much does the savior love us that he has given you and me his very life,” he said.

The bishop said that during the Last Supper, the Lord baffled his disciples by leaving the table and doing what was customarily done by slaves.

“It is on this same night in such a sublime and beautiful moment that the Lord goes on to do something that may seem odd, almost provocative, something the apostles wouldn’t have immediately understood—washing the feet of those who were his guests.”

“What is the Lord trying to teach us?” bishop asked, adding that it is summarized in three familiar words heard at the end of Mass, “Go in peace.”

However, going in peace requires us to be prepared for the “great challenge” of washing the feet of all those we meet, particularly those whom we have shunned and others who have tried to do us harm, he said.

Most of us would be willing to wash the feet of those we love—our children, spouses, parents and friends, particularly when they are in need, the bishop said “because they have a hold on our hearts.”

“But are we willing to wash the feet of  complete strangers when we don’t even know their names, those who come to us to ask for help—and there are many.”

“I ask you further, who in this church is willing to strip himself of comfort and pride and get on our hands and knees to wash the feet of those who have betrayed us, hurt us, sinned against us, maligned, mocked and slapped us—who would be willing to do that?”

The bishop quoted St Augustine who said, “We receive the Body of Christ to become the Body of Christ.”

“That challenge is a lofty one. Left to ourselves, we won’t be able to do it, but have no fear,” the bishop said because the Christ who dwells in us through the Eucharist will give us strength.

“I ask you tonight as you sit before the Eucharistic Lord, whose feet have you refused to wash? Whose feet have I refused to wash?”

Immaculate High School to Light The Way for Students at 16th Annual Gala

DANBURY—Immaculate High School will be hosting their 16th annual Gala on May 1, 2021 at 7 pm. This year, the gala will be held virtually and everyone is invited to attend! In lieu of admission or ticket prices, Immaculate is asking everyone to become a sponsor at any level. Sponsorship options can be found at immaculatehs.org/gala. In traditional fashion, Immaculate will be honoring two members of their community with the Nancy K. Dolan Leadership Award and the Distinguished Service Award.

Brian P. McGovern, a member of the Immaculate Class of 1989, is the recipient of the Nancy K. Dolan Leadership Award. Brian stayed active in the Immaculate community after graduating by helping to plan the Class of 1989 reunions and furthered his involvement in 2009 by becoming a member of the school’s Advisory Board. In this role, he was able to lead the initiative to bring better technology such as projectors and laptops into the classrooms. He also the Immaculate Alumni Association, which keeps graduates of the school in close communication with happenings at Immaculate. Brian is presently a General Manager at Miratech, overseeing the company’s industry leading workflow management products that deliver business results across a variety of industries.

John G. Capilli, Sr. is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award for his commitment to Immaculate High School as a member of the community for the past eleven years. Along with being aparent of Cara ‘14 and Johnny Jr. ‘17, John has continued to serve on the Mustang All Sports Club (MASC), the Annual Golf Outing Committee and is a member of the School Advisory Board. He has also been a generous sponsor of numerous athletics fundraising events, the Tuition Assistance Program, Annual Golf Outing and Annual Gala. John is the Division President of Classic Equipment Services, Inc., a subsidiary of Vault Structures, Inc. out of Fort Myers, Florida and Cedarville, New Jersey.

The theme of this year’s gala is Light the Way and will feature a virtual silent auction, a $10,000 cash raffle and more! For more information and to become a sponsor, visit immaculatehs.org/gala.

Service Project Thanking Grade A Employees

STAMFORD—On Tuesday, March 30, sixth graders at The Catholic Academy of Stamford prepared thank you cards and small care packages for the employees at Grade A market on Newfield Avenue. Each student assembled and personalized bags that contain mints, tissues, tea bags, chapsticks, pretzels, granola bars and other goodies along with a note from the students.

The classroom mom spoke to the manager at Grade A and said the employees were very appreciative and thankful that the students want to acknowledge and thank the employees for their hard work while we all stayed home during last year’s lockdown and during this year’s continued restrictions. It can be a thankless job sometimes. Grade A is located right down the road from The Catholic Academy of Stamford so many families are patrons at Grade A and wanted to say thank you. Grade A employs many town locals who have made a career there and Grade A currently has 126 employees.

The classroom mother will deliver the bags to Grade A market on Thursday, April 1.

Chrism Mass and Mass of the Lord’s Supper to be live-streamed

BRIDGEPORT– For the second year in a row, the bishop’s Triduum Masses and liturgies will be live-streamed from the St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.

On Holy Thursday April 1, the bishop will celebrate the Chrism Mass—10 am and the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7 pm. Both Masses will be lived streamed on the diocesan website.

The Chrism Mass is celebrated to bless the holy oils that are used in the sacraments throughout the year, and to strengthen the bond between the bishop and his priests. During the Mass the bishop leads the Renewal of Priestly Promises with a series of questions. Deacons and religious are also in attendance.

The bishop also blesses the Oil of the Catechumens, the Oil of the Infirm and the Holy Chrism (a mixture of olive oil and balsam used in ordinations and confirmation).

In his online Mass for Palm Sunday, Bishop Caggiano said “Holy Week invites us to reenact the great mysteries of our faith, and to remember that what was begun in the Upper Room is the same sacrifice Jesus offers his believers today.”

This year’s Masses will also permit in-person attendance. However, registration is advance is required for all those who wish to attend, and seating remains limited as a result of Covd-19 safety restrictions.

Bishop’s Live-Streamed Holy Week Masses:

Holy Thursday—April 1
Chrism Mass—10 am
Mass of the Lord’s Supper—7 pm

Good Friday—April 2
Celebration of the Passion of the Lord
3 pm

Easter Vigil Mass—April 3
Mass—8 pm

St. Augustine Cathedral is located at 399 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport. Anyone interested in attending in person must register on the Cathedral website: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/cathedralparish.

For online viewing, visit the diocese website: www.bridgeportdiocese.com

St. Rose Kindergarteners on parade

NEWTOWN—On Monday, March 29, Kindergarten students at St. Rose School in Newtown were decked out in their Easter finest, including handmade Easter bonnets, hats and bow ties.

Students and their parents paraded around the school parking lot, calling out Happy Easter! They then brought their joy across the street to Church Hill Village, an assisted living facility.

Many residents were seated in front of the building with a special guest—the Easter Bunny!

Students waved and called out Happy Easter, giving high fives to the Easter Bunny. The Bunny led students to the back of the facility where they waved to other residents who were watching from their windows.

Their little feet walked many steps and warmed many hearts with Christ’s love!

Jesus takes on human suffering

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A Christian life should be filled with amazement — astonishment at the son of God suffering and dying for humanity and awe at realizing how precious and loved people are in his eyes, Pope Francis said.

“Can we still be moved by God’s love? Have we lost the ability to be amazed by him?” the pope asked in his homily during Palm Sunday Mass, marking the start of Holy Week.

“Let us be amazed by Jesus so that we can start living again, for the grandeur of life lies not in possessions and promotions, but in realizing that we are loved and in experiencing the beauty of loving others,” he said at the Mass March 28.

Palm Sunday Mass, the liturgy that begins with a commemoration of Jesus entering Jerusalem among a jubilant crowd, began with a small procession toward the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica with a few dozen concelebrating cardinals and bishops walking ahead of Pope Francis.

Dressed in red vestments, the color of the Passion, they held large woven palm fronds while the reduced congregation of faithful were sitting distanced in the pews, wearing facemasks and holding small olive branches. Due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions, Holy Week and Easter celebrations at the Vatican were to be celebrated primarily in the basilica with a very small congregation.

Broadcast and livestreamed over a wide range of media, the pope preached in his homily about Holy Week marking an important time to be amazed by Jesus, who completely overturned people’s expectations.

Instead of being “a powerful liberator at Passover,” he arrives on a lowly donkey “to bring the Passover to fulfillment by sacrificing himself” and, instead of triumphing over the Romans by the sword, “Jesus comes to celebrate God’s triumph through the cross,” the pope said.

What is amazing, he said, “is the fact that he achieves glory through humiliation. He triumphs by accepting suffering and death, things that we, in our quest for admiration and success, would rather avoid.”

And even more astonishing is that he endures all this pain and humiliation “for us, to plumb the depths of our human experience, our entire existence, all our evil. To draw near to us and not abandon us in our suffering and our death. To redeem us, to save us,” the pope said.

With his love, sacrifice and salvation, “now we know that we are not alone: God is at our side in every affliction, in every fear; no evil, no sin will ever have the final word,” he said.

“Let us ask for the grace to be amazed,” he said, because not only is a Christian life without amazement “drab and dreary,” how can people proclaim “the joy of meeting Jesus, unless we are daily astonished and amazed by his love, which brings us forgiveness and the possibility of a new beginning?”

Pope Francis asked that people begin Holy Week with this sense of amazement, by gazing upon Jesus on the cross, and saying to him, “Lord, how much you love me! How precious I am to you!”

“With the grace of amazement we come to realize that in welcoming the dismissed and discarded, in drawing close to those ill-treated by life, we are loving Jesus. For that is where he is, in the least of our brothers and sisters, in the rejected and discarded,” the pope said.

After the Mass and before praying the Angelus, Pope Francis recalled this was the second Holy Week celebrated during the COVID-19 pandemic. While last year was experienced more as a shock, this year “it is more trying for us” and the economic crisis has become very burdensome.

The devil “is taking advantage of the crisis to disseminate distrust, desperation and discord,” he said, but Jesus is taking up the cross, taking “on the evil that this situation entails, the physical and psychological evil, and, above all, the spiritual evil.”

“What should we do?” he asked.

People should be like Mary, the mother of Jesus, and follow her son, he said.

“She took upon herself her own portion of suffering, of darkness, of confusion, and she walked the way of the Passion keeping the lamp of faith lit in her heart. With God’s grace, we too can make that journey,” the pope said.

The pope also asked that people pray for all victims of violence, “especially those of this morning’s attack in Indonesia, in front of the cathedral of Makassar.”

At least 14 people were wounded in what police suspect was a suicide bomb attack outside the cathedral. As of March 28, no group had claimed responsibility for the bombing.

By Carol Glatz | Catholic News Service

Vaccine brings hope to Cathedral parishioners 

BRIDGEPORT— “I feel fortunate that our parish can open a door for people to get vaccinated,” said Father Juan Gabriel Acosta, newly named pastor of the Cathedral Parish in Bridgeport.

Yesterday, more than 100 parishioners took advantage of the opportunity in the St. Augustine Academy school building located behind the historic Bridgeport cathedral on the corner of Pequonnock Street and Washington Avenue, overlooking downtown Bridgeport.

Throughout the day individuals and couples entered the school’s cheerful all-purpose-room to receive the Moderna vaccine.

Father Acosta said he was grateful to the Diocese of Bridgeport and St. Vincent’s/Hartford Health Care for making it possible to bring the vaccine to the parish.

Bill Hoey, vice president of mission integration at St. Vincent’s Medical Center/Hartford HealthCare Fairfield Region, said that the Cathedral Parish was the second to participate in the mobile vaccination program. Last Thursday, more than 100 parishioners of St. Charles Borromeo Parish were vaccinated by Hartford Health.

“We are eager to bring the vaccine to parishioners of Catholic churches located in areas of Bridgeport that have disproportionately low rates of vaccination,” he said.

Hoey said the event, and others like it sponsored by Hartford Health, is part of a concerted effort to eliminate barriers to access and achieve more equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Father Acosta dropped in to say hello to parishioners at the temporary clinic site before preparing to celebrate the 12:10 pm Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral.

“So many of our parishioners have had a tough and difficult time in the past year. They’ve lost loved ones and had other hardships,” he says.

The positive reception to the vaccination on the part of parishioners has made him feel happy that the parish can make things easier for parishioners. “It’s something the parish and the diocese have been able to do for the people.”

Father Acosta, who has been pastor of the Cathedral Parish for only a month and a half, said the vaccine has brought hope to people and he has noticed a gradual increase each Sunday in the numbers of people who are attending Mass. It has given him the opportunity to meet some of the parishioners who have been unable to attend Mass during the pandemic.

On Palm Sunday, the parish saw the largest gathering in months, and he took advantage of it to promote vaccinations before the end of Mass.

Some people came forward with questions, and Father Acosta took the opportunity to reassure them that they’re doing the right thing by getting vaccinated. He believes the vaccine is a gift from God as well as a scientific achievement.

Starting Monday, March 29, Bridgeport residents can schedule an appointment (preferred) or walk in and receive a one-dose-only Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

(To learn more contact HartfordHealthCare.org/vaccine or call Hartford HealthCare’s dedicated Bridgeport Resident Community Care Center 860.827.7400.)

Click here to view the FEMA flyer in Spanish and English

Today is Reconciliation Monday across the Diocese

BRIDGEPORT– A total of 26 parishes will offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation today from 3-9 pm, so that the lay faithful may experience God’s mercy as Holy Week begins.
In his Pastoral Exhortation, “Let us Enter the Upper Room with the Lord,” Bishop Caggiano urged all to take advantage of Reconciliation Monday to fully prepare for the gifts of Holy Week.

“On Monday, March 29th, we will hold our annual observance of Reconciliation Monday. As you may know, on this day, Confessions will be heard in many parishes throughout the Diocese, both in the afternoon and evenings, so that everyone who wishes to receive the sacrament can do so before the Easter Triduum. I ask you to consider participating in this unique opportunity to receive the gift of forgiveness that only Christ can give. My friends, the Lord wishes to free each of us from the burden of our sins. Should we not then use this time to shed the baggage of our sins and accept His freedom with joy?”

The invitation to participate in “Reconciliation Monday” was created in the joyful spirit of Pope Francis who said, “Now is the time to be reconciled with God. Staying on the path of evil is only a source of sadness.”

According to Msgr. Thomas Powers, vicar general of the diocese, because of the ongoing pandemic host parishes may offer Confessions in a variety of venues, which would include confessionals, church bodies, parish centers or outdoor parking lots.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has asked that penitents have the option of confessing anonymously or face-to-face and that a distance of six feet (as recommended by the CDC) is maintained between the priest and penitent.

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

Deanery A (Queen of Peace)

  1. St. Andrew Parish: 435 Anton Street, Bridgeport
  2. St. Ann Parish: 481 Brewster Street, Bridgeport
  3. St. Augustine Cathedral: 359 Washington Avenue, Bridgeport

Deanery B (Mystical Rose)

  1. St. James Parish: 2070 Main Street, Stratford
  2. St. Lawrence Parish: 505 Shelton Avenue, Shelton
  3. St. Mark Parish: 500 Wigwam Lane, Stratford

Deanery C (Queen of Martyrs)

  1. St. Theresa Parish: 5301 Main Street, Trumbull
  2. St. Rose of Lima Parish: 46 Church Hill Road, Newtown

Deanery D (Our Lady, Queen of Confessors)

  1. St. Peter Parish: 104 Main Street, Danbury
  2. St. Edward the Confessor Parish: 21 Brush Hill Road, New Fairfield
  3. St. Joseph Parish: 163 Whisconier Road, Brookfield

Deanery E (Seat of Wisdom)

  1. St. Mary School Hall, 183 High Ridge Road, Ridgefield
  2. Our Lady of Fatima, 229 Danbury Road, Wilton

Deanery F (Queen Assumed into Heaven)

  1. Our Lady of the Assumption Parish: 545 Stratfield Road, Fairfield
  2. St. Pius X Parish: 834 Brookside Drive, Fairfield

Deanery G (Mother of Divine Grace)

  1. St. Aloysius Parish: 21 Cherry Street, New Canaan
  2. St. Thomas More Parish: 374 Middlesex Road, Darien
  3. St. Matthew Parish: 216 Scribner Avenue, Norwalk

Deanery H (Cause of Our Joy)

  1. The Parish of St. Cecilia-St. Gabriel: 1184 Newfield Avenue, Stamford
  2. Holy Spirit Parish, 403 Scofieldtown Road, Stamford
  3. Sacred Heart Parish: 37 Schuyler Avenue, Stamford

Deanery I (Mary, Mother of the Church)

  1. The Parish of St. Catherine of Siena and St. Agnes: 4 Riverside Avenue, Greenwich*
  2. St. Mary Parish: 178 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich
  3. St. Michael the Archangel Parish: 469 North Street, Greenwich

** Confessions heard from 5-7:30 pm
(To find a deanery near you, and for a full Confession and Eucharistic Adoration schedule from around the diocese visit: www.bridgeportdiocese.org/call-to-renewal.)

Holy Week challenges us to “clear our vision”

FARFIELD— Holy Week invites us to see Jesus not with the eyes of the world but through the eyes of faith, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in his homily for the Mass for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion.

The bishop celebrated his weekly online Mass from St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Fairfield. He was assisted by Fr. Victor Martin, Pastor and Fr Larry Larson, Parochial Vicar.

“Perhaps you and I at times look at our life, our circumstances, and our work through the eyes of the world, and this week is meant for us to clear that vision. To remember through whose eyes we should live, move, see, and have our being. It is easy to fall prey to voices around us, to live life in a way other than what Christ asks us,” the bishop said.

In addition to “celebrating anew the great mystery of our redemption,” Palm Sunday offers an opportunity to better understand what Christ is asking of us as his followers, he said.

After reading the account of the Passion in the Gospel of Mark (15:1-39), Bishop Caggiano explained that in his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus was given a welcome that was reserved for Caesar, who had “conquered nations and subjected people.”

The strewing of palms was a symbol of Caesar’s earthly power and authority.

Those who welcomed Jesus with palms judged him “with the eyes of the world,” because they mistakenly expected Jesus to overthrow civil authority. They believed that “conquest and brutality should be meet with military conquest and more brutality. Violence begets violence,” the bishop said.

“That is not why Jesus came to Jerusalem. He came to bring another form of power that meets conquest and brutality with forgiveness and mercy, and allows the world a better way, a divine way to live,” he said.

Holy Week extends the same challenge to us as it did in the time of Jesus. He does not promise earthly victory, but asks us to accompany him to Calvary and not to run away as the apostles did.

“The path is not easy. We cannot escape suffering. Whoever dares to love must dare to be willing to suffer. It is the only path that leads to the empty tomb and that leads us to eternal life.”

The bishop said Holy Week invites us to reenact the great mysteries of our faith, and to remember that “what was begun in the Upper Room” is the same sacrifice Jesus offers his believers today.

The bishop concluded his homily by noting that each year the palms blessed today that are unused palms will be gathered and burned to make the ashes of next Lent “as a sign of our faith and the promises that truly matter, and they are not the promise and ways of the world.”

“And when the smoke clears we see life as it is truly meant to be seen. We have that opportunity again during these days of our redemption. Let us use them well so that when the risen Lord appears in our midst. We will be able to see him, follow him and give him honor and glory now and forever.”

Bishop’s Holy Week Schedule

BRIDGEPORT– For the second year in a row, the bishop’s Masses and liturgies throughout Holy Week will be live-streamed from the St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.

This year’s Masses will also permit in-person attendance. However, registration is advance is required for all those who wish to attend, and seating remains limited as a result of Covd-19 safety restrictions.

Bishop’s Live-Streamed Holy Week Masses:

Palm Sunday—March 28
Online (only) Mass—8 am

Holy Thursday—April 1
Chrism Mass—10 am
Mass of the Lord’s Supper—7 pm

Good Friday—April 2
Celebration of the Passion of the Lord
3 pm

Easter Vigil Mass—April 3
Mass—8 pm

St. Augustine Cathedral is located at 399 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport. Anyone interested in attending in person must register on the Cathedral website: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/cathedralparish. The Chrism Mass is using a tiered registration system, open to priests, then deacons followed by the curia.

For online viewing, visit the diocese website: www.bridgeportdiocese.com

As he approaches 103, Fr. Brady still gives to ACA

Fr. Philip Brady will turn 103 this year and during his lifetime, he’s developed a lot of steady habits. He says Mass every day, he prays his breviary, and he still sends his check to the Annual Catholic Appeal.

Father, who lives in a senior community outside Buffalo, served for many years in the Diocese of Bridgeport until retiring in 1995 as pastor from St. Margaret Mary Church in Shelton after 27 years. Since that time, he has been sending his annual check of $1100 to help the parish reach its goal in the appeal.

Throughout his priesthood he contributed and continues to do so because of his love for St. Margaret Mary.

“I have a great feeling for the parish,” he said in a phone interview. “And I want to help them get by. I was very friendly with everybody, and the parishioners continue to call me.”

When he first arrived as pastor in 1968, the parish was facing serious financial challenges.

“It was a really difficult situation,” he recalls. “It took me quite a long time to straighten things out, but when I retired in 1995, they had a new church and rectory. All the bills were paid, and there was $100,000 in the bank. We had a lot of food festivals, sing-alongs, Bingo and carnivals.”

One person who is especially appreciative to Father Brady for his participation in the appeal is Pamela S. Rittman, Director of the Annual Catholic Appeal. Twelve years ago, when he called to make his donation, she discovered he was from the town in upstate New York where she grew up.

“We immediately hit it off as friends and talked about local restaurants and the cold Western New York weather,” Rittman said. “He was there when I needed him and presided over the funeral of a family member and blessed our home in upstate New York.

Rittman says that when she visits her family in New York, she tries to stop in to see him and see him and share the news of the diocese.

Rittman said the “Arise” theme along with the hopefulness of this year’s ACA campaign is something Fr. Brady can relate to in his long and productive life. Filled with faith and with a love for people, he puts his trust in the Holy Spirit and keeps on going. And he understands the importance of making goal!

“We always met our goal for the appeal when I was pastor,” Father says. “I still participate in it because it is a good thing for the diocese, and I want to help St. Margaret Mary. Those 27 years I was there were very happy years. I love the people and I miss them all.”

Father, who was ordained on December 18 has been a priest for 77 years and will turn 103 on September 16.

He continues to celebrate daily Mass at Orchard Glen Residence in Orchard Park, NY. Because of COVID restrictions, which he said “are kind of a drag,” he has to celebrate Mass alone in his room instead of in the Father Brady Chapel, which the community built for him. Before COVID, Sunday Mass was held in the common room for the 35 Catholics who are residents.

Looking back on his life, he said, “I’ve been very happy in my 77 years as a priest. I never considered being anything else.”

The middle child of five, with two older brothers and two younger sisters, Fr. Brady entered St. Mark’s Elementary School in Buffalo in 1924.

“I can still remember Father Shea coming into our third-grade classroom,” he said. “He asked, ‘How many boys want to become a priest?’ I raised my hand immediately and from then on, that was my vocation. No other profession attracted me. I was determined to become a priest.”

Of course, Father had help from his mother, Dorothy, whose prayers and encouragement led him forward in the pursuit of his calling. As a young woman at St. Cecilia Church in Harlem, she visited the convent and told Mother Superior that she wanted to become a nun.

“The nun told her, ‘No, you’re not going into the convent. You’re going to become the mother of a priest,” Father recalled. So every day at Mass, Dorothy prayed that one of her sons would enter the priesthood. And her youngest did.

After eighth grade, Father was accepted at the Little Seminary of St. Joseph and the Little Flower, but his family had to move to New York City because his father needed to find work during the Depression.

They lived in The Bronx, and he attended Cathedral College, a preparatory seminary across the street from St. Patrick’s Cathedral. However, they returned to Buffalo a year later, and he resumed his studies at the Little Seminary. He later entered the Columban Fathers order because he wanted to be a missionary priest and take the Gospel message to foreign countries, and on December 18, 1943, he was ordained with 13 other men at St. Joseph Cathedral in Buffalo.

“I wanted to go to China, but China was closed and they were kicking priests out,” he recalled. “The war was on and they couldn’t give us assignments in the missions so we were loaned to different dioceses.”

His first assignment was at St. Joachim Church in Buffalo, until he became vocations director at a seminary the Columban Fathers opened in Milton, Massachusetts. For 17 years, he toured the country, looking for young men who had a calling to the priesthood.

When his younger sister, who was a nurse in Buffalo, needed care, he volunteered because he was teaching nearby at the Columban Fathers’ Silver Creek Seminary.

“I was the only one available who could help her,” he recalled.

With her treatment came financial responsibilities, but he had no money because missionary priests did not receive a salary, so he asked to be assigned to the Diocese of Buffalo. Since there were no openings, his superior suggested that he apply to the newly formed Diocese of Bridgeport.

The response was immediate. “Send him down and I’ll put him to work,” Bishop Lawrence Shehan told the superior, and in 1960 Fr. Brady arrived at St. Mary’s in Greenwich, where he taught religion at the parish high school. He was later transferred to St. Paul’s in Glenville. Then, in 1968 during the fourth week of Lent, he was named pastor at St. Margaret Mary’s in Shelton.

Another of his trademarks is “Father Brady’s Holy Fudge,” which was sold in Vermont and New Hampshire at roadside stands and country stores. Father still makes batches of his fudge from his personal recipe, and sends them to Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, Archbishop William Lori, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, and many others, including Pam Rittman.

(Please participate in this year’s, Arise, Annual Catholic Appeal by giving as generously as your means allow. You may mail your gift in the enclosed envelope in this issue, make a donation online at www.2021ACABridgeport.com or text the word APPEAL to 475.241.7849. Donations of whatever amount will help us to help those in need.)

By Joe Pisani

Vatican releases book commemorating pope’s prayer

VATICAN CITY—One year ago, Pope Francis stood in a rain-drenched, empty St. Peter’s Square praying for God’s comfort as the world began experiencing the growing severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Vatican is commemorating that event with a book of texts and images “encapsulating the meaning of that extraordinary moment of prayer,” the Dicastery for Communication said in a March 24 press release.

The English version of the book titled, “Why are You Afraid? Have You No Faith?” is jointly published by the Vatican publishing house and Our Sunday Visitor.

The book includes Pope Francis’ recent reflections about that evening and what was going through his mind.

He said he thought about “the empty square, people united at a distance,” and about the sculpture in the square of a boat carrying migrants, which made him think how “we are all on the boat.”

“The whole drama is in front of the boat: the plague, the loneliness, in silence,” and he thought about how “everything was united: the people, the boat and everyone’s suffering,” he said.

Even though the square was completely empty of people due to the nationwide shelter-in-place order, he said, Jesus and Mary were present, which he wanted symbolized by displaying the “Miraculous Crucifix” from Rome’s Church of St. Marcellus and the icon of “Salus Populi Romani” (health of the Roman people) from the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

And, he said, “I was in contact with the people. There was no moment I was alone.”

When asked what gave him strength and hope during the intense moments of the hourlong prayer and blessing, the pope said, “Kissing the feet of the crucified Christ always gives me hope.”

“He knows what it means to walk, and he knows all about quarantine because they put two nails there to keep him there,” he said.

“Jesus’ feet are a compass for people’s lives, when to walk and when to stand still. The Lord’s feet are very touching for me,” the pope said.

New FEMA Program offers relief for COVID-related Funeral Expenses

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) program is providing financial assistance of up to $9,000 for COVID-19 related funeral expenses incurred between January 20, 2020 and December 31, 2020.

To be eligible for the assistance, you need to meet the following conditions:

  • The death must have occurred in the U.S., including the US territories and the District of Columbia.
  • The death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.
  • The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020. (There is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a US citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien.)

FEMA states they will reimburse families up to $9,000 for COVID-related funeral and burial costs. It isn’t yet clear what factors will determine who is able to receive the full amount, or a portion of the available funds.

Before applications open up in April, FEMA recommends those who may be eligible gather the following documentation:

  • An official death certificate that attributes the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the U.S., including the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. (You can get one by contacting the state or county vital records office. Sometimes a cemetery, funeral home, or a third-party provider can also request this for you.)
  • Funeral expenses documents (receipts, cemetery contract, funeral home contract, etc.) that include the applicant’s name, the deceased person’s name, the amount of funeral expenses, and the dates the funeral expenses happened.
  • Proof of funds received from other sources specifically for use toward funeral costs. FEMA is not able to duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies or other sources.

Find out more information about this program directly at the FEMA website.

The Catholic Cemeteries Office of the Diocese of Bridgeport is available to assist with any burial information required to file for this assistance, as well as discuss and plan for your future needs.

(For more information visit: bridgeportdiocese.org/fema.)

Celebrating Social-Emotional Learning

BRIDGEPORT—World Social-Emotional Learning Day is March 26, and the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport is celebrating the event with specially planned activities.

This morning, March 25, Pre-K-3rd grade students had a special Zoom with award-winning children’s musician and yoga and mindfulness expert Kira Willey, who read from her books Breathe Like A Bear and Peaceful Like A Panda. She also taught students new mindfulness techniques and participated in a Q&A. Everyone who participated in the Zoom will receive one of Willey’s books.

On March 26, older students in grades 4-8 will Zoom with mindfulness expert Missy Brown, founder of “Deep Play for Kids,” who will teach SEL techniques and coping strategies. These students will receive the book All Because You Matter.

The Catholic Academy of Bridgeport is especially grateful to the Tauck Family Foundation for helping to make all of this possible!

The Catholic Academy of Bridgeport provides a Christ-centered, academically rigorous learning environment where cultural diversity is welcomed, Catholic values taught and all faiths celebrated. Students are nurtured, encouraged and challenged in preparation for a successful life of leadership and service.

(For more information visit: www.catholicacademybridgeport.org.)