Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

Diocesan Seminarians to study at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary

BRIDGEPORT—Beginning in January, 2021, college seminarians and pre-theologians of the Diocese of Bridgeport will undertake their formation and studies at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano announced the change in seminary formation on September 16, in a letter he sent to all priests of the diocese.

“Given that fostering vocations and supporting our seminarians is a unique obligation that I possess as bishop and a successor of the apostles, I have made this decision because I am convinced that it will be to the great benefit of our seminarians and their future priesthood.”

The bishop made the decision following an in-depth review and analysis by ad hoc committee of curial officials who examined the long term viability of Saint John Fisher House of Discernment. The Presbyteral Council and the College of Consultors were also involved in the process.

“In order to fulfill my ministerial responsibility to provide men aspiring to the priesthood the best opportunity to be formed in the mind and heart of Christ, a few months ago I authorized the analysis,” the bishop said.

“After further analysis, I recently received the final recommendation that our collegiate seminarians and pre-theologians would be best served by attending the formation programs offered by St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia.”

The bishop said the study team was given the charge to examine every collegiate formation program east of the Mississippi River, and to provide him with a detailed oral summary of the strengths and weaknesses of seven programs of formation.

St. Charles Borromeo seminary was chosen because of its strong academic and formation program which serves 65 seminarians from 14 U.S. dioceses and six religious congregations. Likewise, 78 percent of college seminarians and 61 percent of its pre-theologians go on to major seminary formation.

The bishop said the larger number of seminarians and the cultural and racial diversity of its population (35 percent of all seminarians) along with St. Charles’ strong emphasis upon human and spiritual formation (seeking to form “Men of Communion” with Christ and His Church) were all factors in his final decision. He also appreciated the possibility that a pre-theologian can earn a master’s in philosophical studies.

The seminary also has a self-contained faculty comprising of two full-time spiritual directors, a full-time psychologist and counselor and 16 full-time priests.

The bishop praised St. John Fisher House of Discernment, which has provided nearly two generations of priests. However, he said the program faced increasingly difficult obstacles to fulfill its formational object lives.

He said the diminished number of candidates residing in the house has made fostering basic human formation challenging, since peer interaction is essential to such formation.

“There are also increasing difficulties to maintain a philosophy faculty available to train our men in collaboration with Sacred Heart University. Finally, the escalating cost of training our men in our own collegiate formation program cannot be discounted in the current financially challenged situation that we face as a Church,” he said in his letter to priests.

The bishop offered his gratitude to all those who have supported St. John Fisher and diocesan seminarians, both past and current.

“I am especially appreciative of all the work that the rectors have provided the seminarians who were entrusted to their care and for all our faculty, board members and donors who have supported our men during their time at Fisher.”

In a letter to donors, the bishop thanked them for their generosity said that there is an ongoing need for prayers and financial support as the seminarians continue their formation and seek “to grow in virtue and deepen their discernment.”

Funds that have been donated and were raised at St. John Fisher events such as the Rector’s Dinner will continue to support diocesan seminarians.

The bishop told donors that the decision to move the seminarians to a larger seminary program meets “the conditions we must consider for the appropriate human, spiritual and pastoral formation of the men who will one day minister in the diocese. We must consider both their lies as they enter formation and the challenges of proclaiming the Gospel today.”

All current seminarians have been made aware of the decision and will soon travel to St. Charles Borromeo Seminary to meet their new formators and community. “Please pray for them as they prepare to make this important transition,” the bishop said.

Founded in 1989 by Most Rev. Edward M. Egan, the third Bishop of Bridgeport, the St. John Fisher House of discernment was created to provide young men with a place in which they could deepen their relationship with Christ Jesus while discerning a vocation. Since its inception, nearly 100 men have been ordained who spent some time at Fisher during their priestly formation. During its 31 year existence, St. John Fisher House has been located on Daniels Farm Road in Trumbull and its current location of 894 Newfield Avenue in Stamford.

Christians Called to be “Holy Reproach” in a Troubled World

BRIDGEPORT—Christians cannot run away from the world; rather they should engage it and seek to transform it, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said during the online Mass from the Catholic Center chapel for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

“We as believers do not run away from the kingdom of Caesar but enter into the public square and the larger culture recognizing its faults and bringing to it a message of hope and transformation.”

Bishop Caggiano said we effect change by bearing personal witness to the “integrity of Christian life” and by becoming a “Holy Reproach” to the larger society that often fails to live up to Gospel values.

Reflecting on the Gospel of Matthew (22: 15-21) when the Pharisees try to trap Jesus into a statement that will lead to his death, the bishop said that the Roman tax on the Jewish people was oppressive and held them in bondage.

If Jesus answered, No, to their question, he would be speaking against his own people. If he opposed the tax, he would be charged with insurrection, the bishop said.
However Jesus turns the tables on the Pharisees when he responds, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

Translating that statement into our own lives is the challenge that we face today as we seek to bring the message of the Gospel to the public square, the bishop said.
The bishop said that no one likes paying taxes, that there are “many Caesars” in the world today and that all systems of rule “are troubled and broken and do not follow example of the Kingdom Christ has come to inaugurate.”

He said that Christians at some cost to themselves must become “a holy reproach to systems that create no place for God, and for his mercy and for the dignity of human life.”
At the same time, many social structures do not allow “all of God’s children to live in peace and prosperity.”

The bishop said we are all members of God’s kingdom by virtue of our baptism and that we are challenged to become “the eyes and ears, hands and feet and heart of Jesus” as we call the world to conversion and change.

“In the end, there will be only one King– the King to whom we owe everything– and that is Christ. We his subjects must allow his presence to rule our lives. We must give to God what is God’s. Without God, we have nothing. In the end, there will be no Caesar,” the bishop said.

The bishop said that St. Thomas More set the example for all Christians by “dying as the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” When in conflict with Henry VIII he sought to continue to serve the King, but realized he owed God “a pure conscience and fidelity to the truth. My friends, can you and I say the same?”

In remarks before final blessing, the bishop noted that as pandemic endures there are reports of resurgence of the virus as well as signs of hope. He urged all the pray for the end of the crisis and join in the weekly Family Rosary, every Sunday at 7:30 in the evening.

For more information on the Sunday Family Rosary, visit: https://formationreimagined.org/sundayfamilyrosary/

Bishop’s Online Mass: The Bishop’s Sunday Mass is released online every Sunday morning at 8 a.m. and available for replay throughout the day. To view the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, recorded and published weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.

Connecticut Bishops Issue Statement on Respect Life Month

One year ago, even before the unthinkable effects of the pandemic and the social unrest and division that we are now witnessing, a piece in the New York Times stated: “The world we live in now is one in which no place is safe, no lives really matter, when it comes to violence” (9/2/19). This statement was prompted by the tragedy of repeated mass shootings in our country. To this we must now add the outbreaks of random violence and the deaths that have prompted outrage and have called into question the level of force employed by law enforcement in some cases, especially with regard to people of color.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Evangelium vitae (The Gospel of Life), written by Pope St. John Paul. He urged the world to uphold the sacred value and inviolability of human life rather than giving way to a culture of manipulation and choice in life matters, as evidenced in abortion, euthanasia, biological engineering, ecological destruction and unnecessary recourse to the death penalty. Violating the right to life, the Pope stated, only results in the destruction of values that are fundamental not only for the preservation of the lives of individuals and families, but of society as well. This message has been strongly echoed by Popes Benedict and Francis.

Amid all the ominous polarization, acrimony and even violence that are increasing in our country, we would do well to ponder Pope St. John Paul’s teaching. He said that respect for innocent human life from conception until natural death is a “transcendent truth” that surpasses any one religion, philosophy, law code or system of government. Religion can and should serve that truth, but it does not create it. If there is no God-given higher truth about the human person than the one we feel free to create, then everything degenerates into competing views of personhood and life itself; the “force of power” prevails, and the inalienable God-given meaning of the human person, and his or her dignity and right to life, are trampled.

Until recent times the religious beliefs of the vast majority of Americans did acknowledge the transcendent truth that all innocent human life is to be respected as inviolable. Indeed, the first thing that struck the French observer Alexis de Tocqueville about the United States in 1831 was its “religious atmosphere.” He wrote: “… while the law allows the American people to do everything, there are things which religion prevents them from imagining and forbids them to dare.” Religion taught virtuous behavior, which is essential if liberty is to be ordered to the common good. By bringing a moral dimension to issues, religion also helped ensure that majority rule not deteriorate into an immoral tyranny. Religion in America also created an allegiance and devotion among its adherents that counteracted the tendency of government to swallow up all aspects of life.

Today the withering away of respect for the transcendent truth about the right to life, and for traditional religious teaching about the sin and crime of taking innocent human life, has created what Pope St. John Paul called a “culture of death.” It is reflected in the words we cited from the New York Times that “the world we live in now is one in which no place is safe, no lives really matter, when it comes to violence.” In his new encyclical Fratelli tutti Pope Francis speaks of a “throwaway” world in which “persons are no longer seen as a paramount value to be cared for and respected” (n. 18). Hopefully the 25th anniversary of Evangelium vitae will be an inspiration for all people of good will to work for a “culture of life” that cherishes, serves, defends, and protects human life from conception until natural death.

Local pro-life leaders across the world are currently conducting an annual 40 Days for Life campaign that runs through November 1. Walking with Moms in Need is a year of service where Catholic parishes and communities “walk in the shoes” of local pregnant and parenting women in need. And then there is Project Rachel, a network of caregivers, including clergy, mental health professionals and others who provide one-on-one care to those struggling after involvement in an abortion. The church continues to advocate strongly for hospice care for the dying, not death imposed by others or by suicide, and for an end to the death penalty because it is no longer needed to protect society.

For well over half a century the U.S. Bishops have spoken out nationally as a body about the evil of racism, most recently in 2018, calling yet again for Catholics and all Americans to take to heart in particular the lived experience—past and present—of African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans. Without equal respect and opportunity for the life and dignity of each and all we cannot hope to have a nation at peace with itself.

Likewise, Pope Francis has dramatically and urgently spoken of the plight of refugees, immigrants and all those who are vulnerable and at risk across the world. Our Church strives to uphold the life and dignity of every person by providing education, health care and works of charity on a large scale, and by advocating for economic justice, immigration reform, and the alleviation of the desperate plight of so many of the world’s migrants, near and far.

These are just some of the ways the Catholic Church is working to promote a gospel of life. We invite you to join us, so that, in the words of Pope St. John Paul, “together we may offer this world of ours new signs of hope, and work to ensure that justice and solidarity will increase and that a new culture of human life will be affirmed, for the building of an authentic civilization of truth and love.”

Family Bible Challenge goes national

BRIDGEPORT—The Leadership Institute’s Family Bible Challenge gathered more than 2,500 families to engage in Scripture.

Families tuned in from around the diocese as well as from the dioceses of Dallas, Orange, Rochester, Brooklyn and the archdioceses of Newark and New York.

Now…Family Bible challenge is going national!

In a recent USCCB mailing, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano shared a letter inviting families around the country to participate.

“There is a strong desire of people to learn about their faith,” said Dr. Patrick Donovan, director of The Leadership Institute. “We want people to open their Bibles.”

The Family Bible Challenge takes place seasonally, usually three to four times per week. During each challenge, a theme is adopted.

With a goal of engaging both families and individuals in the Bible, The Leadership Institute sends an email each Sunday (in English and Spanish) with a passage to read and discuss. Quizzes on the material follow on Wednesday.

Seasons usually run six to seven weeks and families can join at any time and all reflections and quizzes are archived online for easy access.

The next season begins on October 18, 2020, and focuses on the beauty of God’s many creations. Drawing on passages from Genesis, Psalms, Daniel, Matthew, and St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, families will be challenged to reflect upon how we care for creation in its many forms.

The Leadership Institute held several trivia nights last spring and has been partnering with Catholic high schools to encourage students to assist with writing future questions. Also benefitting from the Family Bible Challenge are religion classes at diocesan elementary schools.

“St. Jerome tells us that, ‘ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ,’” reflects Bishop Caggiano. “I would add that amidst all the uncertainty in the world today, Scripture is one place we can find hope.”

“I strongly encourage catechists, parents, Catholic school teachers, and my brother priests and bishops to help spread the word about this great resource,” said the bishop.

(Visit familybiblechallenge.org to learn more and to sign up.)

St. Catherine to hold hat, coat & sweater drive this weekend

TRUMBULL—The Social Justice and Charitable Outreach committee at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull will be hosting a hat, coat and sweater drive this weekend.

There are five ways to donate:

  1. Contact-free drive through: Sat., Oct 17, from 9 am-12 noon, & Sun., Oct 18, from 11 am-12 noon at the McClinch Family Center
  2. At All Masses: Oct 17 & 18
  3. At St. Catherine of Siena School: Fri., Oct 16 AM drop off & PM pick up at the McClinch Family Center
  4. Religious Education classes: Tue., Oct 13, Wed., Oct 14 & Sun., Oct 18 during Rel Ed Classes at the McClinch Family Center
  5. Financial contributions are also welcome!

Please join the parish in supporting their annual hat, coat and sweater drive that will provide warmth and clothing for families in need at Blessed Sacrament Church and Thomas Merton House in Bridgeport. The group are collecting hats, winter coats, sweaters, gloves and scarves for men, women and children. They request that all items be in new or good condition (please, no rips, stains or soiled items), in order to respect the dignity of those individuals who will be receiving gifts. All donations are appreciated! Please, no summer clothing. Thank you in advance for your generosity!

(For more information contact Salvatore Spadaccino, Coordinator for Social Justice and Charitable Outreach at Caritas@stcatherinetrumbull.com.)

St. Theresa School embraces the classics and looks to the future

As the academic year gets underway, school communities have faced unexpected changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic that have challenged the way they educate their students. St. Theresa School in Trumbull, however, embraced not one but two significant changes this fall as it welcomed both a new principal and a new model of education.

Pamela Fallon, former director of education at St. Joseph Academy in Brookfield, replaced Salvatore Vittoria as principal in August, bringing with her a love for Catholic education and an excitement for this long-established school. While at St. Joseph, Fallon oversaw the day-to-day functions of the academy and implemented curriculum, all which prepared her well for a smooth transition to St. Theresa.

“My faith has called me to learn and to serve,” said Fallon, also a former teacher and assistant principal. “I teach with the lens of my Catholic faith and always want to share the ‘good news.’”

Fallon’s arrival at St. Theresa coincided with the school’s shift to a Catholic liberal model of education, a philosophy that places Jesus at the center of all learning, affecting not only what is taught but how. Such a model engages children in a love of knowledge and, like a traditional education, encourages them to discover the fundamentals of history, science, math, and English composition and grammar but on a deeper level for a stronger relationship with God. According to Father Brian Gannon, pastor of St. Theresa Church, this is achieved by recognizing that God is the purpose for everything we do.

“He is the order in biology, the magnificence in geography, the beauty in poetry,” said Father Gannon. “We are renovating educational opportunities for kids based on the strengths of our current structure and giving them the tools to integrate the body and the soul.”

“A child’s mind is so sharp,” he continued, “and we want to fill it with truth, beauty and goodness.” These building blocks of knowledge, said Father Gannon, are also the foundation of this classical model of education.

For Fallon, part of the draw of St. Theresa was this new philosophy. “I believe in this classical model. It integrates so much of what I stand for—connecting curricular areas as a coherent whole. There is a tremendous difference in this versus a traditional curriculum,” she said.

To assist St. Theresa in making this three-year transition, a curriculum director was hired to help guide the building of the curriculum and instructional practice and to provide ongoing support for teacher and families. In addition, the administration sought the expertise of Colleen Richards, director of school services at the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education, who spent two days in August at the Trumbull school leading professional learning workshops for teachers and staff. Equating this model to the telling of a great story, Richards commented that students respond so well because they are engaged by history.

“We are restoring history—ancient, medieval, American and modern times,” she said. “We are renewing the mission in the church’s own tradition. Kids are happy because they study meaning and purpose, and that’s what feeds their souls.”

When first and second graders study ancient Greece and Rome, they have a greater understanding of the founding of American democracy in grade five. When third graders embark on a guided pilgrimage around the school through a modern day Canterbury Tales, they are learning social studies and religion in an integrated way.

“This whole self-engagement through the lens of faith further engages the story,” said Fallon, adding that new lesson plans, resources and tools recommended by Richards will be implemented in this inaugural year.

As the transition moves forward even in the midst of a pandemic, safety precautions remain in place at St. Theresa School, with masks, disinfectants, cohort groups and a remote learning academy for children who choose to study at home. Fallon believes, however, that even some of these measures will enhance the classical model. With “specials” such as music and art now occurring within the students’ homeroom classes, teachers can better incorporate them into the core curriculum. “It’s a benefit,” she said, “and everyone is on board.”

With a new principal and a new model of education complemented by the strong foundation of its Catholic faith, St. Theresa School has much “good news” to share.

Immaculate Senior Meryl McKenna named Commended Student in 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program

DANBURY— Immaculate High School Principal Wendy Neil announces that senior Meryl McKenna has been named a Commended Student in the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program. Meryl was one of only 34,000 students across the nation who received the Commended Student recognition for “exceptional academic promise.” Entry into this competition was gained through taking the 2019 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). Semifinalists and Commended Students for the National Merit Scholarship Competition make up 50,000 of the more than 1.5 million students that took the 2019 PSAT/NMSQT.

School Principal Wendy Neil describes Meryl as a very kind, humble student who excels in all that she does in the classroom, on the field and when serving others. “We are extremely proud of Meryl and her accomplishments as an Immaculate student. Her academic mastery, hard work ethic and self-motivation is most deserving of this honor.” Immaculate High School is a private, non-profit Catholic college-preparatory institution serving students from 28 communities in Connecticut and New York. Founded in 1962, Immaculate High School allows students to focus on academic excellence, spiritual development, personal commitments and service to others. Located in Danbury, CT, Immaculate High School is part of the Diocese of Bridgeport’s parochial school system.

St. Catherine/St. Agnes food drive continues

RIVERSIDE—Generous donations arrived today to the weekly Tuesday morning Neighbor-to-Neighbor Food and Essentials Drive at St. Catherine’s sponsored by the Social Justice Committee.

Donations filled three trunks and two back seats. Volunteers and staff sent out a heart-felt thank you to all who participated. The need continues!

Food Items Needed: peanut butter and jelly, oatmeal, canned meats (chicken, chili, Vienna sausages), Chef Boyardi ravioli, tuna, canned fruit, black or red kidney beans (dried or canned), cereal, rice, soup.

Non-Food Items Needed (which cannot be purchased with food stamps): toilet paper, toiletries, paper towels, sanitary products, cleaning products, etc. and brown paper grocery bags.

Until further notice, there will be a car or SUV with an open trunk in the parking lot across from St. Catherine’s church on Tuesdays from 9- 11 am. Please drop your bagged grocery donations in the trunk, and we will take them to Neighbor-to-Neighbor.

(For more information visit www.stc-sta.org.)

Mother Cabrini Gets a New Statue in New York City

MANHATTAN — A new statue of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini now overlooks Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and other New York City landmarks associated with immigrants, concluding a long effort by Catholics and others who objected to her exclusion by a city commission.

“We hope that people who visit this memorial will recognize that history should be repeated, that there was a care for the outcast and marginalized which Mother Cabrini understood, and we need that same care today,” Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn said Oct. 12. “This is not just history, we want to make history with a new understanding of how we take care of people.”

Bishop DiMarzio had co-chaired the Mother Cabrini Memorial Commission, founded after a New York City program drew strong criticism last year for not accepting the most popular nominee, Mother Cabrini, as a subject for a new city-funded statue series intended to raise the profile of women and minorities.

In response, Bishop DiMarzio organized a fundraiser and advocacy effort to build a statue of the saint. In the 2019 New York City Columbus Day Parade, the bishop rode on a parade float with a statue of Mother Cabrini. When the parade finished, Gov. Cuomo said New York State would work with the Brooklyn diocese and the parade sponsor, the Columbus Citizens Foundation, to create a permanent memorial for the saint.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was the founder of the Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and opened and operated many schools and orphanages in New York City. She was born in Italy in 1850, and emigrated to the U.S. in 1889. She was canonized in 1946, becoming the first naturalized American citizen to be declared a saint. She is venerated as the patron of immigrants.

The new Mother Cabrini statue was unveiled Monday, Columbus Day, in lower Manhattan’s Battery Park City overlooking New York Harbor, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. It shows Mother Cabrini, a young boy and a young girl in a paper boat sailing on water. The nun holds a book in her hand, while the boy holds a suitcase and a wind instrument invented in Italy.

The statue was designed by Jill Burkee-Biagi and Giancarlo Biagi, sculptors based in New York City.

“Our goal was to create a statue that would represent the perseverance spirit of an extraordinary woman in realizing her childhood dream, the dream of helping people in need around the world,” said Burkee-Biagi, NBC New York reports.

“I am so happy that there were so many people who supported this effort and I am happy with the unique design which shows Mother Cabrini in motion and taking care of children,” Bishop DiMarzio said. “I know for the artists it was a work of passion, and this statue does her justice.”

Gov. Cuomo, who spoke at the unveiling ceremony, linked Cabrini’s life to contemporary troubles.

“Today the lesson of Mother Cabrini is even more vital because of the difficulties we are facing,” he said at the unveiling. “We all know these are challenging times, but as we also know in the book of life it is not what one does when the sun is shining that tests…but it is what one does in the fury of the storm.”

“Mother Cabrini only had two assets, but they were powerful assets,” he said. “She had her culture and she had her faith.”

John Leo Heyer II, a member of the Mother Cabrini Memorial Commission, said the statue “recognizes both her contributions as an Italian immigrant woman, as well as those of all Italian American and immigrant women.

“She is a shining symbol of what it means to care for the other person, the sick, the uneducated, the economically challenged and the stranger, always putting the needs of society’s most vulnerable above her own,” said Heyer.

“I hope that people will see this heroic statue, ask questions, learn about her outstanding life and work to imitate it as we all build New York’s future together,” he said.

The Diocese of Brooklyn has raised funds to build a Mother Cabrini monument in Brooklyn. Details about this monument will be announced later, the diocese said.

A Mother Cabrini statue became a point of controversy after Mayor Bill de Blasio commissioned a study into existing statues and monuments in the city, then set aside $10 million to craft new monuments better representative of the city’s ethnic and gender diversity.

Of the 150 statues in New York City at the time of the study, only five featured women. The city-run program She Built NYC received $5 million to build new monuments.

The She Built NYC program opened nominations to the public to help the commission decide on new statues.

Mother Cabrini was by far the popular favorite. She received 219 nominations, more than double the number received by the runner-up candidate, journalist and urban activist Jane Jacobs.

However, the selection committee, chaired by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife Chirlane McCray, decided not to choose Mother Cabrini for the statue series, drawing objections from admirers of the saint.

By Catholic News Agency

Climbing the mountain of faith

BRIDGEPORT— The hard work of discipleship requires us to climb the mountain of faith, but the feast of eternal life awaits those who walk with Christ, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in his online Mass for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

In his homily the bishop reflected on readings from – Isaiah ( 25: 6-10)6 “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines,” and on the Gospel of Matthew’s (22:1-14) parable about the King and the wedding guests, “Many are invited but few are chosen.”

The bishop said the two readings come together in the concept of a feast that follows a journey whether to a mountain top or as a wedding guest.

“There is a lesson to be learned that the Lord reminds us of today. The unprepared man was not ready to do what was necessary to enter the feast, to walk the mountain… And so that’s where the challenge lies for you and me. We are called to scale that mountain in discipleship with Christ as our companion.”

The bishop, who grew up in Brooklyn, said the first time he saw a mountain was as a little boy when his parents took him back to their ancestral Italian village on the foothills of the Apennines. He was overwhelmed by their power and majesty, and immediately wanted to climb them.

Describing mountains “as the place where heaven and earth meet,” the bishop said we all have mountains to climb in order to be faithful disciples of Jesus, and we will not falter if we turn to him for his power strength and grace.

“We too are asked to climb the mountain and its end will be feast He promises us because He entered first in His death and resurrection.”

The bishop said the hard work of discipleship involves many steps “first and foremost to become lifetime learners of our own faith” and to fully explore the teachings and rich tradition of the faith that Christ has given us through his Mystical Body.

The hard work also requires “fruitful prayer” and preparation for the sacraments, and the time to reflect after the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Likewise, scaling the mountain of faith calls us to acts of kindness, charity, accompaniment and works of justice.

“We must climb the mountain to root out racist attitudes and to fight against structures that allow people around the world to spend a day without food, water, a home or security,” the bishop said.

The Bishop concluded his homily by noting that it’s unlikely that he’ll will ever climb a mountain, but noted that “you and I have a far more important mountain to climb.”

“Ask yourself, What is the next step of the mountain you need to take and pray for the grace to take it, mindful of the feast that await us. The Lord is inviting us to the feast. He nourishes us with his word and sacraments along the way and promises us a place at the top of mountain in a feast that will never end.”

In brief remarks before the Final Blessing, the bishop asked people around the diocese to join in the weekly online Family Rosary and to take care of one another, particularly in a time of uncertainty.

“Let us re-double our efforts to reach out to our neighbors and friends in circumstances that may become more challenged as the virus spikes… Let us revolve not to leave anyone behind, so they know someone out there cares for them and has them in mind.”

For more information on the Sunday Family Rosary, visit: https://formationreimagined.org/sundayfamilyrosary/

Bishop’s Online Mass: The Bishop’s Sunday Mass is released online every Sunday morning at 8 a.m. and available for replay throughout the day. To view the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, recorded and published weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.

Immaculate Offers Innovative Approaches to Unique School Year

DANBURY—The beginning of this school year may look different than those before it, but Immaculate High School, Danbury has taken the changes in stride, developing plans and strategies to navigate the new challenges. Through their cohort style learning approach, with half the student body in the classroom while the other half participates synchronously virtually using Microsoft Teams, students in both cohorts are receiving the same academic experience while also staying safe and healthy.

Student, faculty and staff safety and well-being have been the primary focus of all planning and reopening processes at Immaculate. With new protocols, such as signage throughout the school building to promote social distancing, wearing of masks by all in the building, three lunch waves instead of two, maintaining an average of 12 students in a classroom during each 55-minute session, Immaculate is doing their part to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Wednesdays are a deep cleaning day using UV and electrostatic cleaners at the school while all students learn virtually on a modified schedule that allows time for club meetings, counselor advisory sessions, other virtual programming such as health and wellness assemblies, and socially distanced PSAT, SAT and ACT testing. The Immaculate Reopening Task Force meets twice a week to track and assess implementation of their plans, sending updates regularly to the school community.

Parents have been noticing the efforts being made by Immaculate. “It is clear that a lot of time and work has been put into developing a plan to keep students and staff safe. I am very happy that safety is the number one priority, as it should be. Excellent work, everyone!”, says Lisa Pierce-Wirth, parent of Peter ‘21​.

Immaculate students are thankful to be able to grow and learn in a comfortable environment. “At Immaculate, I have grown academically and socially because of the comfort the school provides through the support and understanding of the faculty and the kindness of peers. Immaculate has also allowed me to grow in my faith and encourages me to practice it freely and openly. The teachers’ compassion and the students’ inclusivity has made Immaculate feel like a family. I have met some of my closest friends here, and have not only expanded academically, have been able to figure out who I am and who I want to become.” —Amanda ​Tureaud ‘​22.

Immaculate has adapted their annual fall admissions events to maintain personal safety. Open House, planned for October 18, will offer 30-minute tours by appointment only. The original six tour slots filled very quickly, so an additional four tours are being offered. For more information about scheduling a tour or learning more about Immaculate’s programs, please visit our website Immaculatehs.org/admissions or contact Denise Suarez, Director of Admissions at ​203.744.1510 x148.

‘Blessing of the Animals’ tradition continues

TRUMBULL—Last Sunday, October 4, was the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, merchants and ecology and the occasion of a beloved tradition at St. Catherine of Siena Parish.

Father Joseph Marcello, pastor of St. Catherine’s greeted dozens of the parish’s pets for a prayer and a special blessing.

Every kind of pet was accounted for—from a singing parakeet to an 100-pound turtle, who was a big hit with the crowd.

The beautiful October weather allowed parishioners and pets to gather safely outside.

The Parish of Saint Catherine of Siena warmly welcomes anyone who is new to the area, anyone who is searching for the truth, or anyone who is looking for a spiritual home.

“We are joyfully and faithfully Roman Catholic in belief and practice—a community of faith, worship, service, and formation—and with open hearts we invite all our brothers and sisters into a living and saving friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ, in the communion of His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church,” said Father Marcello.

St. Catherine of Siena Parish is located at 220 Shelton Road in the Nichols area of Trumbull.

Photos by Amy Mortensen

Pope calls for politics to rediscover its vocation to work for common good

VATICAN CITY (CNS)—People who think politics is sinking to new lows may find comfort in knowing Pope Francis also is concerned about the debasement of what church teaching has described as a “lofty vocation.”

“Political life no longer has to do with healthy debates about long-term plans to improve people’s lives and to advance the common good, but only with slick marketing techniques primarily aimed at discrediting others. In this craven exchange of charges and countercharges, debate degenerates into a permanent state of disagreement and confrontation,” the pope wrote in his new encyclical.

The encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship,” was published Oct. 4 and urges Christians and all people of goodwill to recognize the equal dignity of all people and to work together to build a world where people love and care for one another as brothers and sisters.

Building that world, he insisted, requires “encounter and dialogue,” processes that allow people to speak from their experience and culture, to listen to one another, learn from one another and find ways to work together for the common good.

“Today, in many countries, hyperbole, extremism and polarization have become political tools,” the pope wrote. “Employing a strategy of ridicule, suspicion and relentless criticism, in a variety of ways, one denies the right of others to exist or to have an opinion.”

The “social aggression” often found on social media has spilled over into mainstream political discourse, he said. “Things that until a few years ago could not be said by anyone without risking the loss of universal respect can now be said with impunity, and in the crudest of terms, even by some political figures.”

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement that “in analyzing conditions in the world today, the Holy Father provides us with a powerful and urgent vision for the moral renewal of politics and political and economic institutions from the local level to the global level, calling us to build a common future that truly serves the good of the human person.”

“For the church,” he added, “the pope is challenging us to overcome the individualism in our culture and to serve our neighbors in love, seeing Jesus Christ in every person, and seeking a society of justice and mercy, compassion and mutual concern.”

In the encyclical Pope Francis had particularly harsh words for politicians who have “fomented and exploited” fear over immigration, ignoring the fact that migrants and refugees “possess the same intrinsic dignity as any person.”

“No one will ever openly deny that they are human beings,” he said, “yet in practice, by our decisions and the way we treat them, we can show that we consider them less worthy, less important, less human. For Christians, this way of thinking and acting is unacceptable, since it sets certain political preferences above deep convictions of our faith: the inalienable dignity of each human person regardless of origin, race or religion.”

Pope Francis often has insisted that he is not calling for open borders and unregulated migration and, in the document, he again insists on the right of people not to be forced to migrate.

International aid to help people overcome extreme poverty in their homelands is essential, he said, but if such development takes too long, people do have the right to migrate to ensure the good of their families.

“Certain populist political regimes, as well as certain liberal economic approaches, maintain that an influx of migrants is to be prevented at all costs,” he wrote. “One fails to realize that behind such statements, abstract and hard to support, great numbers of lives are at stake.”

For Christians, he said, the answer cannot be to simply bow out of political engagement. Instead, they must act at a local level to build relationships of trust and assistance and support politicians and political platforms that promote the common good.

“Whereas individuals can help others in need, when they join together in initiating social processes of fraternity and justice for all, they enter the ‘field of charity at its most vast, namely political charity,’” he said.

Getting practical, Pope Francis explained that “if someone helps an elderly person cross a river, that is a fine act of charity. The politician, on the other hand, builds a bridge, and that too is an act of charity” but on a larger scale.

By Cindy Wooden | Catholic News Service

Pope calls for politics to rediscover its vocation

VATICAN CITY—People who think politics is sinking to new lows may find comfort in knowing Pope Francis also is concerned about the debasement of what church teaching has described as a “lofty vocation.”

“Political life no longer has to do with healthy debates about long-term plans to improve people’s lives and to advance the common good, but only with slick marketing techniques primarily aimed at discrediting others. In this craven exchange of charges and countercharges, debate degenerates into a permanent state of disagreement and confrontation,” the pope wrote in his new encyclical.

The encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship,” was published October 4 and urges Christians and all people of goodwill to recognize the equal dignity of all people and to work together to build a world where people love and care for one another as brothers and sisters.

Building that world, he insisted, requires “encounter and dialogue,” processes that allow people to speak from their experience and culture, to listen to one another, learn from one another and find ways to work together for the common good.

“Today, in many countries, hyperbole, extremism and polarization have become political tools,” the pope wrote. “Employing a strategy of ridicule, suspicion and relentless criticism, in a variety of ways, one denies the right of others to exist or to have an opinion.”

The “social aggression” often found on social media has spilled over into mainstream political discourse, he said. “Things that until a few years ago could not be said by anyone without risking the loss of universal respect can now be said with impunity, and in the crudest of terms, even by some political figures.”

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement that “in analyzing conditions in the world today, the Holy Father provides us with a powerful and urgent vision for the moral renewal of politics and political and economic institutions from the local level to the global level, calling us to build a common future that truly serves the good of the human person.”

“For the church,” he added, “the pope is challenging us to overcome the individualism in our culture and to serve our neighbors in love, seeing Jesus Christ in every person, and seeking a society of justice and mercy, compassion and mutual concern.”

In the encyclical Pope Francis had particularly harsh words for politicians who have “fomented and exploited” fear over immigration, ignoring the fact that migrants and refugees “possess the same intrinsic dignity as any person.”

“No one will ever openly deny that they are human beings,” he said, “yet in practice, by our decisions and the way we treat them, we can show that we consider them less worthy, less important, less human. For Christians, this way of thinking and acting is unacceptable, since it sets certain political preferences above deep convictions of our faith: the inalienable dignity of each human person regardless of origin, race or religion.”

Pope Francis often has insisted that he is not calling for open borders and unregulated migration and, in the document, he again insists on the right of people not to be forced to migrate.

International aid to help people overcome extreme poverty in their homelands is essential, he said, but if such development takes too long, people do have the right to migrate to ensure the good of their families.

“Certain populist political regimes, as well as certain liberal economic approaches, maintain that an influx of migrants is to be prevented at all costs,” he wrote. “One fails to realize that behind such statements, abstract and hard to support, great numbers of lives are at stake.”

For Christians, he said, the answer cannot be to simply bow out of political engagement. Instead, they must act at a local level to build relationships of trust and assistance and support politicians and political platforms that promote the common good.

“Whereas individuals can help others in need, when they join together in initiating social processes of fraternity and justice for all, they enter the ‘field of charity at its most vast, namely political charity,’” he said.

Getting practical, Pope Francis explained that “if someone helps an elderly person cross a river, that is a fine act of charity. The politician, on the other hand, builds a bridge, and that too is an act of charity” but on a larger scale.

By Cindy Wooden   I   Catholic News Service

Throw away our masks of indifference

BRIDGEPORT—In a powerful video reflection about wearing masks, Bishop Caggaino urged all to wear the masks that protect others from COVID-19, but to peel off the masks that make us less compassionate, truthful and empathetic to those who are isolated and suffering.

The bishop began his video by removing the black cloth mask he was wearing and inviting people to consider how much our lives have changed since the onset of the pandemic in early March, when we had little knowledge of this “Invisible virus” that was making people sick and taking lives.

None of us expected how much life would change, the sacrifices many people would make, and even the extensive safety requirements necessary to continue public worship at Mass, he said.

“Nothing is a greater symbol of how our lives have change than this,” he said pointing to his mask from his Catholic Center office.

Wearing face masks is difficult and annoying, he said, but the reason we wear them in public places is not simply because the state mandates it, it but also because our Lord asks us to “in his words and ministry that have taught us that all human life is sacred.”

“We wear a mask to protect the elderly, the frail and those with pre-existing conditions. We wear them to save the lives of others and as an act of Christian love for our neighbors, known and unknown. We wear them in faith…”
At the same time, the bishop urged us to reflect on the other masks that we often wear, the ones that are not made of materials and filters and “are often invisible to the eye.”

“They are created by our fears and anxieties, and my sins and yours. They disfigure us and don’t allow us to show ourselves as children of God. They prevent us from using our talents for the benefits of others and from being faithful missionary disciples,” he said.

The bishop said we often mask our ears, eyes and hearts to others suffering by relegating them to the shadows, failing to hear their pleas, and hesitating to speak the truth because we may alienate or offend others.

“In a divided and hostile world no civility or mutual respect, it is important for us to peel the masks off our mouths—and always with respect for the other—speak the truth in love. That is what disciples are supposed to do.”

Bishop Caggiano said while it’s not the time to shed our medical masks, it is time to throw away our masks of indifference toward the sick and vulnerable, the homeless and unemployed, the refugees, and even for those in our own midst “who have everything they want but very little of what they need.”

“The Holy Spirit gives you the inner fire and courage to listen with the heart of Jesus,” he said, especially during this time of pandemic when we are often alone. The Lord asks us to be his hands and feet in the world and gives us his Sacred Heart to guide us.

“Don’t you think it’s time that for these masks we created that that we peel them off and throw them away?”

Click here for the Bishop’s video.