Dear brothers and sisters!

When our God reveals himself, his message is always one of freedom: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Ex 20:2). These are the first words of the Decalogue given to Moses on Mount Sinai. Those who heard them were quite familiar with the exodus of which God spoke: the experience of their bondage still weighed heavily upon them. In the desert, they received the “Ten Words” as a thoroughfare to freedom. We call them “commandments”, in order to emphasize the strength of the love by which God shapes his people. The call to freedom is a demanding one. It is not answered straightaway; it has to mature as part of a journey. Just as Israel in the desert still clung to Egypt – often longing for the past and grumbling against the Lord and Moses – today too, God’s people can cling to an oppressive bondage that it is called to leave behind. We realize how true this is at those moments when we feel hopeless, wandering through life like a desert and lacking a promised land as our destination. Lent is the season of grace in which the desert can become once more – in the words of the prophet Hosea – the place of our first love (cf. Hos 2:16-17). God shapes his people, he enables us to leave our slavery behind and experience a Passover from death to life. Like a bridegroom, the Lord draws us once more to himself, whispering words of love to our hearts.

The exodus from slavery to freedom is no abstract journey. If our celebration of Lent is to be concrete, the first step is to desire to open our eyes to reality. When the Lord calls out to Moses from the burning bush, he immediately shows that he is a God who sees and, above all, hears: “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Ex 3:7-8). Today too, the cry of so many of our oppressed brothers and sisters rises to heaven. Let us ask ourselves: Do we hear that cry? Does it trouble us? Does it move us? All too many things keep us apart from each other, denying the fraternity that, from the beginning, binds us to one another.

During my visit to Lampedusa, as a way of countering the globalization of indifference, I asked two questions, which have become more and more pressing: “Where are you?” (Gen 3:9) and “Where is your brother?” (Gen 4:9). Our Lenten journey will be concrete if, by listening once more to those two questions, we realize that even today we remain under the rule of Pharaoh. A rule that makes us weary and indifferent. A model of growth that divides and robs us of a future. Earth, air and water are polluted, but so are our souls. True, Baptism has begun our process of liberation, yet there remains in us an inexplicable longing for slavery. A kind of attraction to the security of familiar things, to the detriment of our freedom.

In the Exodus account, there is a significant detail: it is God who sees, is moved and brings freedom; Israel does not ask for this. Pharaoh stifles dreams, blocks the view of heaven, makes it appear that this world, in which human dignity is trampled upon and authentic bonds are denied, can never change. He put everything in bondage to himself. Let us ask: Do I want a new world? Am I ready to leave behind my compromises with the old? The witness of many of my brother bishops and a great number of those who work for peace and justice has increasingly convinced me that we need to combat a deficit of hope that stifles dreams and the silent cry that reaches to heaven and moves the heart of God. This “deficit of hope” is not unlike the nostalgia for slavery that paralyzed Israel in the desert and prevented it from moving forward. An exodus can be interrupted: how else can we explain the fact that humanity has arrived at the threshold of universal fraternity and at levels of scientific, technical, cultural, and juridical development capable of guaranteeing dignity to all, yet gropes about in the darkness of inequality and conflict.

God has not grown weary of us. Let us welcome Lent as the great season in which he reminds us: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Ex 20:2). Lent is a season of conversion, a time of freedom. Jesus himself, as we recall each year on the first Sunday of Lent, was driven into the desert by the Spirit in order to be tempted in freedom. For forty days, he will stand before us and with us: the incarnate Son. Unlike Pharaoh, God does not want subjects, but sons and daughters. The desert is the place where our freedom can mature in a personal decision not to fall back into slavery. In Lent, we find new criteria of justice and a community with which we can press forward on a road not yet taken.

This, however, entails a struggle, as the book of Exodus and the temptations of Jesus in the desert make clear to us. The voice of God, who says, “You are my Son, the Beloved” (Mk 1:11), and “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex 20:3) is opposed by the enemy and his lies.  Even more to be feared than Pharaoh are the idols that we set up for ourselves; we can consider them as his voice speaking within us. To be all-powerful, to be looked up to by all, to domineer over others: every human being is aware of how deeply seductive that lie can be. It is a road well-travelled. We can become attached to money, to certain projects, ideas or goals, to our position, to a tradition, even to certain individuals. Instead of making us move forward, they paralyze us. Instead of encounter, they create conflict. Yet there is also a new humanity, a people of the little ones and of the humble who have not yielded to the allure of the lie. Whereas those who serve idols become like them, mute, blind, deaf and immobile (cf. Ps 114:4), the poor of spirit are open and ready: a silent force of good that heals and sustains the world.

It is time to act, and in Lent, to act also means to pause. To pause in prayer, in order to receive the word of God, to pause like the Samaritan in the presence of a wounded brother or sister. Love of God and love of neighbour are one love. Not to have other gods is to pause in the presence of God beside the flesh of our neighbour. For this reason, prayer, almsgiving and fasting are not three unrelated acts, but a single movement of openness and self-emptying, in which we cast out the idols that weigh us down, the attachments that imprison us. Then the atrophied and isolated heart will revive. Slow down, then, and pause! The contemplative dimension of life that Lent helps us to rediscover will release new energies. In the presence of God, we become brothers and sisters, more sensitive to one another: in place of threats and enemies, we discover companions and fellow travelers. This is God’s dream, the promised land to which we journey once we have left our slavery behind.

The Church’s synodal form, which in these years we are rediscovering and cultivating, suggests that Lent is also a time of communitarian decisions, of decisions, small and large, that are countercurrent. Decisions capable of altering the daily lives of individuals and entire neighbourhoods, such as the ways we acquire goods, care for creation, and strive to include those who go unseen or are looked down upon. I invite every Christian community to do just this: to offer its members moments set aside to rethink their lifestyles, times to examine their presence in society and the contribution they make to its betterment. Woe to us if our Christian penance were to resemble the kind of penance that so dismayed Jesus. To us too, he says: “Whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting” (Mt 6:16). Instead, let others see joyful faces, catch the scent of freedom and experience the love that makes all things new, beginning with the smallest and those nearest to us. This can happen in every one of our Christian communities.

To the extent that this Lent becomes a time of conversion, an anxious humanity will notice a burst of creativity, a flash of new hope. Allow me to repeat what I told the young people whom I met in Lisbon last summer: “Keep seeking and be ready to take risks. At this moment in time, we face enormous risks; we hear the painful plea of so many people. Indeed, we are experiencing a third world war fought piecemeal. Yet let us find the courage to see our world, not as being in its death throes but in a process of giving birth, not at the end but at the beginning of a great new chapter of history. We need courage to think like this” ( Address to University Students, 3 August 2023). Such is the courage of conversion, born of coming up from slavery. For faith and charity take hope, this small child, by the hand. They teach her to walk, and at the same time, she leads them forward.

I bless all of you and your Lenten journey.

Click here for the English version

NORWALK. Para celebrar la misa de la Epifanía, es decir la visita de los reyes al Niño Jesús, la iglesia de Saint Joseph ubicada a una cuadra de la estación de Policía de la ciudad recibió en la misa dominical del mediodía una estampa de los Tres Reyes Magos, personificados por oficiales de la uniformada, quienes después entregaron juguetes a los niños del vecindario de South Norwalk.

Antes del mediodía la iglesia estaba casi llena, Monseñor Aniceto Villamide, el primer Vicario de Asuntos Hispanos de la Diócesis de Bridgeport, quien fue invitado a celebrar la homilía, esperaba pacientemente el inicio de la ceremonia con la estampa de los tres reyes. Y no fue sino hasta cuando la puerta principal de la iglesia se abrió e ingresaron en procesión los ayudantes de monseñor y los Tres Reyes Magos, que los fieles, junto a sus niños, se emocionaron de verlos.

El teniente Joe Dinho y los oficiales Felipe Taborda y Héctor Delgado, ataviados con túnicas de colores cálidos y coronas de terciopelo, personificaron a los reyes: Melchor, Gaspar y Baltazar, quienes al llegar al Altar Mayor se arrodillaron frente al pesebre del Niño Jesús, tal como relata la Biblia cuando nació el Niño Dios al tiempo de manifestación que se conoce como epifanía e inmediatamente el Obispo Villamide los acomodó en la primera fila.

“Se postrarán ante tí señor todos los pueblos de la tierra, para que riga tu pueblo con justicia”, se leyó a viva voz como parte de la primera lectura y seguidamente, Juan David Corrales, un músico de origen colombiano, desde el coro tubular de la iglesia repitió la frase cantando: “¡Aleluya!, ¡aleluya! Ha nacido el Niño Dios. Hemos visto nacer su estrella y venimos adorar al niño Dios”. Luego, el Obispo Villamide proclamó el evangelio según San Mateo. “…Habiendo nacido en Jesús en Belén de Judea, en tiempo de Herodes, unos magos se presentaron diciendo: venimos adorarlo. Al enterarse el rey se sobresaltó…”. Después de leer el Evangelio, monseñor en su prédica dijo que con la recordación de la Epifanía en la conocida fiesta de los Reyes, se cierra el ciclo de Navidad, donde se contempla en la historia del ser humano la entrada al mundo de Dios nacido como hijo de una mujer llamada María.

Conforme con Monseñor, cuando la estrella se aparece a los tres sabios, magos, o reyes; según el evangelio de San Mateo, estos tres hombres representan a la humanidad en su origen tanto: oriental, blanco y moreno. “Los tres hombres ven en la estrella la fe, pero no solo se contentan con ver la estrella que les guía, sino que le siguen en el camino. Ese es un primer aspecto de la fe: ¡ponerse en camino!”, dijo el obispo.

El segundo aspecto de la fe es cuando en un momento la estrella desaparece y los magos la empiezan a buscar. Entonces, la fe cuando tambalea hay que buscarla. ¡Hay que preguntar!, los magos están acostumbrados a investigar y por eso salen a preguntar.

El tercer momento de la fe es cuando entra la mentira. El instante en que Herodes engaña a los sabios diciéndoles que cuando encuentren al Rey vengan avisarle para él ir a adorarle. En ese momento, dice Monseñor Villamide, empieza la trampa de la fe que encontramos en el camino y que en esa búsqueda se van a encontrar trampas, mentiras, tal como lo hizo Herodes, cuando dijo a los reyes que cuando encuentren al rey le avisen para el también ir a visitarlo, aunque sus intenciones eran matarlo. Por eso Villamide explicó: “El que busca encuentra. La estrella desaparece a lo largo de nuestras vidas de muchísimas formas; a través de los escándalos que hay en las familias o cuando se quedan sin trabajo y eso produce obscuridad, pero no hay que desanimarse ante las dificultades la fe exige buscar y cuando buscamos la estrella la fe vuelva a aparecer”, dijo.

Mientras el obispo ofrecía la homilía, Martín Aguilar, un mexicano con 15 años de vivir en Norwalk, se encontraba en las gradas de la iglesia. Estaba esperando que sus dos pequeños hijos lleguen para que vean a los tres reyes magos. “Ya venimos a la misa de diez, pero quiero que mis niños vean a los reyes porque es bonito preservar nuestras tradiciones y enseñarles a los hijos que los reyes traen alegría, esperanza y también regalos”, dijo.

Al salir de la iglesia en procesión los tres Reyes Magos, personificados por los oficiales del Departamento de Policía de Norwalk, se dirigieron al gimnasio de la escuela Side by Side, y desde ahí entregaron a todos los niños juguetes, como parte de un proyecto comunitario que lo realizaba el oficial César Ramírez y que a su muerte tomó la posta el oficial Héctor Delgado dentro de las actividades de la organización “Community Policing Division”.

Conforme con Joe Dinho, vocero de la Policía, que también fue uno de los tres reyes, a partir de noviembre el oficial Delgado organiza una jornada que se conoce como “Stuff-A-Cruiser” en donde los cadetes de la policía y varios miembros de la uniformada se estacionan en Walmart y empiezan a recoger regalos que el público compra en este supermercado para ser repartidos en la fiesta de Navidad del 17 de diciembre a un promedio de 150 niños y luego, en la fiesta de los reyes en la iglesia de Saint Joseph.

By Maricarmen Godoy

My Dear Friends in Christ:

I am delighted to share with you the results of our diocesan participation in the global Synod on Synodality begun over 18 months ago. The full diocesan report and an executive summary have been released for your review and information.

Allow me to express my sincere appreciation to Deacon Steve Hodson, who served as the diocesan coordinator of the process and author of the full diocesan report, along with the many parish delegates with whom Deacon Hodson collaborated very closely. I am grateful to all who participated in the listening sessions, whether they were held via Zoom, in large or small group settings or through personal conversations. I very much appreciate your feedback and insights.

As you know, the purpose of the Synod on Synodality is to create a process of graced listening to the thoughts and prayers of all the members of the Church, including clergy, religious and members of the faithful. It is a discernment that will remain faithful to the teachings of the Church, while under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, addressing the needs of all who form the Church. Its principal goal is to help us more effectively encounter the living presence of Christ, while being accompanied in our individual discipleship. In a world that is growing ever more confused and hostile to religious belief and practice, this process will better equip us to address the challenges we face while deepening our knowledge and appreciation of our Catholic faith.

The Synod on Synodality is now entering the continental phase of discernment, having completed work on a national synthesis of all the diocesan processes to date. I ask for your continued prayers that this process will bear great spiritual fruit for the re-evangelization of our world.

Please be assured of my prayers for you and your families as the holy days of Christmas approach. With every best wish, I am

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano,
Bishop of Bridgeport

“As we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, let us remember and give thanks for the tangible blessings in our lives. To do so is both necessary and obvious. In contrast, we often forget the spiritual, intangible gifts that God has given us. One of those gifts are the very people around us, with whom we live, work, share life as our neighbors, with whom we raise our children, dream of a better future and come together in times of challenge and crisis.

It seems to me that we often take for granted the blessings we share together in our common life as a nation. For this reason, I ask that you and I recommit ourselves this Thanksgiving to recognize, celebrate and foster the community we form, as one nation under God, in all our diversity, disagreements, and common hope for the future. Let us recommit ourselves to patient listening, a spirit of understanding, a willingness to speak the truth with respect and to stand in solidarity with whomever is our neighbor.”

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano

In ancient times, large, important construction projects began with the laying of a cornerstone. The stone itself had to be carefully hewn with precise dimensions, angles, and surfaces. The ground it sat on had to be perfectly level. Depending on the intended purpose of the completed structure, the orientation of the stone would also be precisely calculated. Why? Because all the other stones laid for the project would be placed in reference to that single cornerstone. For a building intended to last for centuries, the fundamental importance of the cornerstone could not be overstated.

The history of the cornerstone—one might say the fate of the stone—can be likened to the great debate raging across our country in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling that the U.S. Constitution does not provide a constitutional right to abortion on demand. Although widely anticipated as the Court’s conservative-liberal balance has shifted in recent years, the decision at present has left the nation in a state of great joy and relief on the one hand and equally great confusion, anger, and fear on the other.

I am under no illusion that my few words here will have a measurable impact on this issue going forward. At best, they might take some of the heat and emotion out of the debate and allow cooler minds to prevail.

I firmly believe that we have let the issue get away from us. We give it a variety of names: the abortion issue, pro-life, pro-choice, women’s rights, reproductive rights. We cloud the issue with inflammatory slogans and rhetoric on both sides and demean one another with vicious insults. A woman who has an abortion is a murderer, anyone who opposes abortion is a moron. And a man has no voice in this issue at all!

My thesis is this: the emotional and rhetorical upheaval surrounding the Court’s ruling—along with the issue itself—has drawn our attention away from the fundamental, immutable cornerstone essence of our shared humanity: Life!

To state the obvious, we are nothing without life. Like the cornerstone, everything else—all the conversations, arguments, rulings, debates, and actions—must be considered in relation to that fundamental truth: Life is!

Our founding fathers, a decade or more before they began work on the Constitution, wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Note carefully that Life is listed first, even before Liberty and Happiness.

As an ordained Roman Catholic Deacon, I firmly believe the “unalienable right to life” to be true. But even if we were to take God out of the equation (as if that were possible!), the truth of the argument would not change. Life comes—must come—before all else. It is a fundamental tenet of the natural law. For many people, myself included, life is sacred. It must be upheld and protected above all else. Above all things human.

The recent Supreme Court ruling moves authority for laws and regulations concerning abortion from the federal government to the fifty individual states. Already this seems certain to prolong the debate for years to come.

But as the states take up the challenge, the fundamental, cornerstone truth that life is, and that it begins at the moment of conception, must be upheld. Acceptance of this premise necessarily changes the debate from one of “rights” to one of “responsibility.” Protecting life above and before all else imposes huge moral, religious, societal, economic, and civic burdens on us as citizens, not to mention as people of faith. Unintended, unwanted and crisis pregnancies will continue to occur. And just as our society provides assistance and services for people facing a host of life’s challenges, we must ensure that compassionate assistance is available that will enable women to carry their babies to term and become responsible mothers.

As a person of faith, I am constantly awed in knowing that I am a beloved child of God, created in God’s own image and likeness. And I am further awed at sharing this distinction with every man, woman and child on earth.

Regardless of one’s religious or spiritual beliefs, though, there can be no denying the cornerstone truth that all life is precious. For an unborn child, a terminally ill person, or a prisoner on death row, life is a gift that cannot be taken by any other person or institution.

As our communities, our states and our nation begin the hard work of formulating abortion legislation, may we all work to move from heated confrontation to responsible debate to tolerant conversation.

May God bless us and may God bless the United States of America.

Deacon Peter Kuhn ministers at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Brookfield, CT. He can be reached at

The oldest priest from the Diocese of Bridgeport, my friend Father Philip Brady, died June 21 at 103. He would have been 104 on September 16 and marked 79 years as a priest on December 18.

Father served for 35 years in the diocese, before retiring in 1995 from St. Margaret Mary Church in Shelton, where he was pastor for 27 years.

He was active until the end, celebrating Mass at Brookdale Orchard Glen senior community in Orchard Park, N.Y., where he was a resident. Until the COVID-19 pandemic, he celebrated daily Mass with others in the “Father Brady Chapel,” which the community built for him.

“They are very nice to me here,” he said in a 2019 interview. “They treat me like a king.”

His nieces and nephews visited him often and he led an active life. Once he played Mother Abbess in the production of “Sound of Music” and sang “Climb Every Mountain.” He regularly took part in performances of Broadway show tunes from musicals like “South Pacific,” “Les Miserables” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”

I first met him in the confessional back in the late 1960s. It didn’t go well.

I was 16 and most likely had the usual accumulation of adolescent sins to confess. He was the new pastor at St. Margaret Mary Church in Shelton.

The confessional was a dark and foreboding place, and all I remember is that he started to lecture me about the French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre’s bleak vision of modern man…which Father adapted to my teenage mentality.

The image he evoked, as I recall, was of a scraggily adolescent with oily hair and torn jeans (we didn’t have tattoos and body piercings back then) standing alone on an iceberg in the middle of a vast ocean, being tossed about by frothy and tempestuous waves. He assured me I didn’t want that to be my life.

Decades later, when I recall that exchange, for the life of me I can’t imagine what I said to take us down that rabbit hole. But whatever he said helped, and I owe him for that and much more.

Our friendship grew, and I still recall the time my girlfriend Debbie and I went to see him about starting a youth group we called “Get Together,” which met weekly in the church hall and attracted a collection of young people who wanted a place to belong, back at a time during the Vietnam era when parents and kids typically found themselves at loggerheads over what was notoriously called “the Generation Gap.”

I saw him on and off over the years but never realized how close he became to my parents during that time.

My father, who was a carpenter, often did renovations for him, and they became close friends, so close Father would tell me they were like brothers. So I guess it was somewhat providential that my father got into recovery after 40 years of drinking at the Wednesday night AA meeting in the St. Margaret Mary church hall, where a lot of other men and women found sobriety.

For years, my mother worked in the rectory and later as the director of religious education for him. When both my parents got sick, he would bring them Communion and hear their confessions…which was no small achievement when it came to my father, who hadn’t received the sacrament since he was a kid, growing up on the East Side of Bridgeport across the street from St. Mary Church.

I’m pretty sure that Father also gave me my first writing assignment. He asked me to write the script for a parish musical revue called “Hello, Neighbor.”

Over the years, he would regularly send me kind notes about something I had written and include his own self-published essays on topics such as Church History, the principles of Catholic education and his autobiography. To this day, they occupy a place of honor on my bookshelf.

In 2001, my wife Sandy and I met him at Happy Hour Restaurant in Wells River, Vermont at a time I was finally ready to leave society behind and move to a cabin in the North Country, where he was living and helping out at several parishes in Vermont and New Hampshire. He gave us good advice and got us started on our adventure to live off the grid. We bought a small farm and prepared for a great escape that never happened.

I look back at all the places where our lives intersected, and I realize the incalculable effect that one priest can have in his life when he’s led by God’s grace.

Several years ago, as he was approaching his 100th birthday, he took the time to tell me about his life. It was a remarkable story.

In 1919, his mother Dorothy took two-month-old Philip to downtown Rochester for a parade celebrating Armistice Day—the end of the War to End All Wars. She had great hopes for her newborn baby because she’d once been told she would be the mother of a priest.

And that prayer was answered.

Looking back on his life at 100, Father said, “I’ve been very happy in my years as a priest. I never considered being anything else.”

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

“I can still remember Father Shea coming into our third-grade classroom,” he recalled. “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 once 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, he 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, suffered a breakdown, he volunteered to care for her 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 Father 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.

“It was really a 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.”

In the years since retiring, he assisted at parishes in Woodsville, New Hampshire; Yucca Valley, California; and Wells River, Vermont. In 2010, he returned to Buffalo and moved into a senior living community with his brother-in-law.

Throughout the years, he has been friend and spiritual advisor to countless people, who have been endeared to him because of his compassion, humor, reverence and love of the Eucharist.

One is Pamela Rittman, director of the Annual Catholic Appeal, who met Father over the phone 13 years ago when he called to make a donation and she discovered he was from the town where she grew up.

Shortly afterward, he sent her some of his homemade fudge, which was known as “Father Brady’s Holy Fudge” in parts of Vermont and New Hampshire and sold at roadside stands and country stores. Father made batches of his fudge from a recipe he generously shared, and sent them to Bishop Frank Caggiano, Archbishop William Lori and Timothy Cardinal Dolan, among others.

“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. When I visited, I made sure to stop in and see him and share the news of the diocese. To my surprise, he often knew more than I did.”

By the time you reach 100 you know a lot about life, especially the religious life. During our last interview, I asked him to sum it all up.

“The priesthood can be difficult,” he told me. “You see a lot of problems, but you’re doing Christ’s work, which is the most important thing of all. Today, the Church gets bad press, and the sex abuse scandal has made it hard, but I always had my vocation and I never wanted anything else.”

And so, good friend, pray for us. And we’ll pray for you…until we meet again.


Editor’s note: Father Brady’s funeral and memorial Mass will be held on September 17, a day after his 104th birthday. Condolences can be sent to:

Mary Catherine Farley

5277 Southcrest Avenue

Hamburg, NY 14075

I thought of the days of long ago
And remembered the years long past. (Psalm 77)

The Scriptures frequently summon us to remember the past (Psalm 143:5), and I do look back on my life more—to the days when life was young. There’s a keen sorrow for things irrevocably lost, for so many lost and lovely things—all the summers that have come and gone. There’s a great deal of happiness behind me, and there are the tears and fears and struggles of those dear, dead days. There are so many people dead, my parents gone, my grandparents, a favorite aunt for whom I could do no wrong, good friends taken away, so many separations from those who loved and shaped me. I saw them all as boundless.

There are the standing distresses of my life, wounds that I have both suffered and inflicted. They reverberate throughout my life. I think we are all assaulted by memories of past wounds and failures, all the little deaths inflicted on us. I think we’re all scared by sad and hurtful events of the past, things we would prevent having happened if we could.

There are the wounds I have suffered, and there are the wounds I have inflicted. Philosopher Martin Heidegger stated that if one looks honestly at one’s past, there is a response of guilt.

There are things I regret and would love to undo, but they are irretrievable and irreparable. Faces come back from the past. There are tears I would like to dry and departed people from whom I would like to ask forgiveness.

There are all the things I had not done and should have done or had not said and should have said. There are the unsaid apologies, the unstated affections. There’s remorse about lost chances, favors I didn’t do, injustices I didn’t repair, promises I didn’t keep, opportunities for charity I put off. I’m particularly sorry for all the loves in my life at which I have blundered and for the opportunities of love that I have wasted. They are instances, if I could, I would retrieve, undo, wipe out.

But the outstanding distress of my life, what endures and keeps coming back to haunt me, are words I said. Some of the worst pains I suffered came from cruel words spoken to me, words that did harm to me, injured me, sometimes deeply and permanently. I think some of the worst pains we all suffer come from cruel words, and the damage can be permanent.

There comes over me a sad, sorry feeling about things I’ve said. They keep coming back to shame and hurt me. Some irrevocable pain was released into life. There’s a Spanish proverb: “Three things do not come back: the spent arrow, the spoken word, the lost opportunity.”

There is great power in words. The Book of Proverbs states that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (18:21). Here are some other quotes:

“The tongue is made to be used in love” (Catherine of Siena).

“Speech is to be full of mercy” (Letter of James 3:17).

“Where words are many, sin is not wanting” (Proverbs 10:19).

“Never miss a good chance to shut up” (Will Rogers)—a tribute that was paid to a great linguist stated that “he could be silent in seven different languages.”

“A good word surpasses the best gift” (Rule of St. Benedict).

“A compliment can warm three winter months” (Spanish Proverb).

Words have been called “the physicians of a spirit.”

“I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. By your words you will be acquitted and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36).

“It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth that defiles one” (Mt.15:10-11).

“Say only the good things people need to hear, things that will help them…. Get rid of all harsh words, slander, and malice of every kind. In place of these, be kind to one another, compassionate, and mutually forgiving” (Ephesians 4:29-31).

Finally, when I look back on my life, there have been things I did with wisdom and love. And despite the distresses, life overall was “very good,” just as Genesis promised. Indeed, life was often a joyous thing. I can say that “the favors of the Lord I will recall, for He has been good to me” (Isaiah 63:7). With Job I can say “Oh, that I were in the months of old.” There was much to celebrate in life, much to be thankful for. It was good to be alive, to be on this earth; there’s the wonder of having existed.

FAIRFIELD—Those seeking to add depth to their Memorial Day remembrance now have a new work by sacred music composer Anna Bendiksen of Fairfield.

Bendiksen has penned deeply resonating lyrics to a well-known hymn tune by Hans Hassler, PASSION CHORALE, which most faithful may recognize from singing it on Good Friday to the text “O Sacred Head Surrounded.” The parishioner of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull says she originally wrote the lyrics as a funeral hymn.

“Many things are on my mind this Memorial Day weekend: the men and women who died for our country; the victims of the pandemic; the war in Ukraine; the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas; the recent losses of several people in my own community,” says Bendiksen.

The hymn begins with these words, “For all the faithful fallen in this the earthly fight, We sing with saints and angels as evening falls to night. O Jesus Christ have mercy, O holy Mary pray that soon their souls awaken to Your unending day.”

“As Catholics, we grieve, but not as those who have no hope. In sorrow we are joined more closely to Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother. Even in times of sorrow, I find such consolation in praying and singing as if Our Lord and Our Lady were standing close—for they really are.”

(For more information about Anna Bendiksen’s sacred music compositions, visit:


BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has reconstituted the Sexual Misconduct Review Board of the Diocese of Bridgeport with the announcement of new board members, renewal of current members and the retirement of long-time members of the board.

The bishop said that adding of new board members is consistent with certain recommendations of Retired Connecticut Superior Court Justice Robert Holzberg included in his Clerical Sexual Abuse Accountability Report on sexual abuse in our diocese that was issued in October after a year-long, independent investigation.


It was a world much like our own…150 years ago in France. There was war and rumors of war. Catholics were under attack by the press, parishes were in disrepair, religion was ridiculed by atheistic intellectuals, and the government harassed the Church because of its teachings.

A Catholic woman from Tours believed there was only one hope to combat this spiritual and political assault: a return to the Eucharist.

As a result, Mlle Marie Marthe Emelie Tamisier spent ten years petitioning the clergy to hold a Eucharistic Congress. During that time, she led pilgrimages to holy sites where Eucharistic miracles had occurred and inspired by her friendship with Father Peter Julian Eymard, who was later canonized, she promoted Eucharistic adoration as a response to the militant atheism of the era.

Although she received little recognition in her lifetime, she was eventually successful in her campaign to have a congress in Lille, France in 1881. The theme of the First International Eucharistic Congress was “The Eucharist Saves the World,” which would be a provocative concept today when two-thirds of professed Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence of Christ—Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity—in the Blessed Sacrament.

Pope Leo XIII, who approved the first congress, which was followed by 51 more, proclaimed: “Our belief is that the renovation of the world will be brought about only by the Holy Eucharist.”

Think about those words. Do we believe that? We live in a world in much need of renovation, and Christ in the Eucharist is our only hope in a world gone seriously wrong. As they said in 1881: The Eucharist saves the world—not political movements, not governments, not social causes, not corporations, not academia. How strange that must sound to people who think the Eucharist is nothing more than a 2,000-year-old symbol.

We should never forget the unequivocal words of Jesus, which have inspired countless non-Catholics to come into our faith: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” (John 6:53-56)

Eucharistic Congresses bring together clergy, religious and laity to give witness to the fundamental doctrine of the Real Presence with open-air Masses, adoration, prayerful devotions, and talks.

Beginning this June 19 on the Feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for the Body of Christ), the Bishops of the United States are launching a three-year revival of devotion and belief in the Real Presence. It will lead up to the first National Eucharistic Congress in the United States in nearly fifty years, which is expected to bring 100,000 Catholics to Indianapolis.

“God wants to see a movement of Catholics across the United States, healed, converted, formed, and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist—and sent out in mission ‘for the life of the world,’” the bishops said in a statement.

St. Teresa of Calcutta did not use complex theological terms when she talked about the power and mystery of the Real Presence.

“The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on Earth,” she said. “The good news is Jesus is here with us TODAY—Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity—in the Holy Eucharist. Although Jesus comes to us under the appearance of bread and wine, his presence is as real to us now as he was flesh-and-blood-real to his disciples when he walked this Earth. He can perform miracles, heal us, teach us, and love us. We can talk to him, and he can speak to us.”

Always remember that the Eucharist—and only the Eucharist—saves the world. If that sounds preposterous, you need to strengthen your faith in the power and glory of the Blessed Sacrament. Sit before Christ in adoration and ask him to give you the graces you need because until we truly believe the Eucharist saves the world, it won’t be saved.

As Servant of God John Hardon S.J. once said: “Without faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, there is no Catholic Church.”

There are difficulties many of us have with God. Like many others, I’m often baffled by the way God runs the world. The world often is not gentle for many people. There are the horrors visited on people from long-term debilitating illnesses, paralysis, dementia, natural disaster, personal brutality, old age. It’s a world of spinal meningitis, of cerebral palsy, of neurochemical imbalances that can make people hate having to exist. There are the genetic disorders that blanket people’s skin in ulcers. There are all the carcinomas. Epidemics blot out millions of people, tsunamis engulf thousands, mothers weep for their fallen soldier sons. What is going on? What is God doing? As Job says, “if it is not He, then who is it?” (Job 9:24).

Few human beings would inflict these things on those they loved. I don’t understand why God allows children to suffer. I don’t know what it means. God doesn’t explain. If God is good, why are there genetic defects in newborn children? Why is there so much that seems ungood?”

A friend said he pictures God bestowing a cancer here, a deformity there, for you a septic embolism, and for you a compound fracture, etc.

There is the disappointment of unanswered prayers. Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote of “cries like dead letters sent to dearest Him that lives alas! Away” (I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark, Not Day). Hopkins also wrote “Comforter, where is Your Comforting?” (No Worst, There Is None).

Wordsworth wrote of “hearing often times the still, sad music of humanity.” In the poem No Worst, There Is None, Hopkins uses the term “WorldSorrow.” There is that insightful statement from the movie The Hard Way: “People get hurt. It’s nobody’s fault. Just live and get hurt.”

There are those shocking passages in the Old Testament, for example, God’s directive to King Saul to kill every living Amalekite—man, woman and child, and even the sheep, and camels and donkeys. Saul fell short. He left the Amalekite king alive and spared the best of the sheep and lambs. As a punishment for the incompleteness of the slaughter, God took the Kingdom from Saul and his heirs and gave it to David (First Samuel 15:3-29). There are similar texts in the Book of Joshua that shock us. A loving God seems to be ordering the policy of genocide.

The answer given for all these situations is that God’s ways are past our understanding. Isaiah tells us that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and his ways are not our ways. Karl Rahner was always talking about the mystery and incomprehensibility of God. John of the Cross spoke of God “whose ways are past finding out.”

In the 1960s, Archbishop John Foley stated that AIDS was God’s punishment for sexual immorality. Pope John Paul II, when asked about the archbishop’s statement, replied that “it is hard to know the mind of God.”

Thus, Orion is a gorgeous starlight spectacle, and the horse is a marvel of construction and instinct. Nevertheless, innocent children die, and the world is full of seeming random disaster. We are a people struggling with the mystery of God.

On the other hand, there is great goodness and beauty in the world. It’s got the sound of rain on the roof and the smell of the rain on fresh-turned earth.

There is the theology that asserts that God comes to you disguised as your life. God makes Himself known through the events of our lives. God made Himself known in my life. Examining my life convinces me that there have been a number of “God Sightings”—unmistakable moments when He revealed Himself; times when I sensed that the Lord had been mindful of me, attended to me. Like Job, I can recall times when “the friendship of God was upon my tent” (Job.28:4). God showed Himself under various disguises. He sometimes was a God of surprises. We name things “accidents” or “coincidences” or “lucky breaks.” God enters the scene. There are the infinite multiplicity of the ways God deals with humans. Each has a different access.

The Scriptures tell us that mercy is the deepest quality of God’s love. There are the beautiful words of Lamentations 3:22-23: “The favors of the Lord are not exhausted. His mercies never come to an end. They are renewed every morning.” Hopkins put it this way: “Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward springs – Because the Holy Ghost over the bent world broods with warm breast and Ah! bright wings” (God’s Grandeur).

Again, as I meditate on my life, I can sense the action of God in it at various times. There were His interventions, “God Sightings.”

On his 75th birthday, Karl Rahner was asked what was the primary truth he had learned about God? He replied: “it cannot be anything else but God as mystery.” Rahner also said that God is to be found in the details of life. We can all recognize God’s hand in some of those details. I have become an optimist about God and His mercy. I think I can sense an essential Goodness around me, holding me up, carrying me on, and despite the perplexities we can have concerning God, I think “the earth is full of the kindness of the Lord” (Psalm 33:5).

Ayer Neuroscience Institute Fairfield Region Annual Sock Drive Co-sponsored by Mission Services

Monday, February 7 through Friday, March 11

Together, we can help our neighbors keep warm during the harsh winter months.
Our Annual Sock Drive will benefit local organizations in Bridgeport who assist individuals and families in need. Initially launched in 2020, this program provides our neighbors important protection against the elements. Please consider donating a pair of new socks in original packaging
Why socks? Clean, warm socks are something many of us take for granted but are the #1 most requested item at many shelters and community centers.

Donation baskets located in the Main Lobby and in the Credit Union at St. Vincent’s Medical Center

Purchase new socks online and send to: Jennifer Nascimento, Stroke Coordinator 3rd Floor Neurology Suite
St. Vincent’s Medical Center
2800 Main Street
Bridgeport, CT 06606

For monetary donations, scan the QR code in the photo attached with your smartphone’s camera and search @jenascimento on the Venmo app OR see contacts below for questions or monetary donation.

Jennifer Nascimento or 475.210.5257

Edna Borchetta or 475.210.6393

I recently attended a funeral for a family friend who was my age. I have the fondest memories of us playing together when we were little. One of the things I remember most about her was her strong faith and love for God. She had many health struggles, battling cystic fibrosis her whole life, but she always carried such a light and had an aura of hope about her. She had a fiery spirit to match her fiery red hair.

She called me up last year, in the midst of the pandemic, looking for a local church that she could attend regularly. Even amongst everything that was going on in her life and in the world, she sought out a faith community. I remember having such admiration for that.

After her passing, it feels very strange to be joyful, especially at Christmas time. I am at an exciting time in my life, where doors and opportunities are opening up along with the world, which has seemed so shuttered in the past few years. But I find myself questioning why she didn’t get to continue to experience all these wonderful things as well.

I was struck by something Bishop Caggiano recently said in his homily at the Dedication Mass for the new recreation center at St. Matthew Parish in Norwalk. The Mass was celebrated on Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday of joy.

The bishop said, “We are not always promised that we will be happy, but we are promised that we will have the gift of joy. For joy comes from the deep trust that we have in our hearts that no matter what happens to us, challenges before us, or suffering we face, our God will be before us.”

I immediately thought of Abby. Even as she struggled with her health, she had joy. She had a deep trust that God had a plan for her and that her suffering was a part of that plan. She lived her life unapologetically.

Similarly, as the parish of St. Matthew celebrated the dedication of their new recreation center, many missed the presence of Msgr. Orlowski, who began the project in 2018 and for whom the center is named.

Even though the parish still mourns his loss, they were able to celebrate this joyful occasion in his memory.

The bishop mentioned that although Monsignor experienced suffering and challenges, he had the gift of joy in his heart.

Abby did too. And I think she would want us to remember that most of all. There will be suffering, but there will also be joy. And perhaps the two can exist simultaneously.

The priest who said the homily at Abby’s funeral explained that God was not just a puzzle piece in her life, but rather He was the table or surface on which she put the puzzle pieces of her life together. God was the foundation on which she built her life—and that will be my Christmas this year—the understanding that Christ is close to us.

Is this why she was able to have joy even in the face of hardship? I’d like to think it was.

As I was saying goodbye to Abby’s family, her dad pulled out a small Rosary from his pocket, mentioning that she had it with her. I’d like to think it was a comfort to her, as it now will be to him.

The night before Abby’s funeral I had a dream about her. We were playing together again in the backyard, our laughter that of immense joy. I think I’ll hold on to that memory, and I think it is how I will always remember her.