Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

BRIDGEPORT— “We are successful to the extent that we are willing to die to ourselves and allow Christ to shine in us,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said at the annual Mass for employees at the End of the Curial Year.

More than 60 Catholic Center office staff gathered at the nearby St. Andrew Church in Bridgeport for the Mass followed by a luncheon in the school hall. It was the first large, in-person gathering in which employees could see each other face to face without masks since the pandemic began.

“It’s good to see everyone in person, to gather for worship, and to come together as a family,” the bishop said. “The long winter of Covid is coming to an end. We have experienced much over the past 16 months,” he said, noting that it will take time to come to terms with it all.

The bishop personally thanked employees for their hard work and all they did to bring hope to the people of the diocese during the Covid crisis.

In his homily, the Bishop reflected on Luke’s account of the ministry of John the Baptist and said the gospel prompts a question:  “How do we measure success as followers of Jesus?”

The bishop said that business measures success by profits, customer engagement, or market share, and educators can gauge student tests and achievement, but how does a Church measure success?

In recent years in the northeast the Church has faced many challenges and is a long way from its golden years of building new parishes and schools, he said.

Likewise, seen through the lens of worldly success, John the Baptist’s life would be looked upon as a failure—he made people angry, he was abandoned in his ministry, and he was beheaded, “yet God called him by a name that means ‘God is gracious,’” the bishop said.

He said that John the Baptist “didn’t make it about himself,” but professed his unworthiness to make way for the “Lamb of God.”

Pointing out that economies rise and fall and that wealth and riches come and go, he said that believers must have a different measure of success, “None of that matters if we keep our eyes fixed on Christ. What really matters is bringing the love of Christ to those around us every moment of our lives.”

The bishop said it is interesting to note that the Church celebrates John’s birthday when the light begins to gradually wane over the summer, and we celebrate Christ’s birth six months later when the light begins its ascent in the sky.

“We must tell the world another light is beginning to dawn,” he said of the work of Christians. “Our light takes second place to the light that is Christ. Our ministry is to point to Jesus.”

Bishop Caggiano was joined in the celebration of Mass by priest and deacon leaders who serve at the Catholic Center.

The Catholic Center is located at 238 Jewett Avenue in Bridgeport. It houses the bishop’s office and the many programs and ministries sponsored by the diocese.

BRIDGEPORT—The “ARISE” Annual Catholic Appeal now stands at almost $5.4 million pledged toward its $8.1 million goal, and there is more than a month left to close the gap, says Joe Gallagher, chief development officer of the diocese.

Gallagher adds there is more heavy lifting to do, but he’s optimistic as a number of factors are coming together to bring the campaign to a successful conclusion by the end of June.

In-pew weekends are scheduled for June 6 and June 13 in most parishes throughout the diocese, with speakers and the ACA video available to offer information, says Gallagher.

“In-pew weekends are really a call for everyone to come on board and join the more than 9,000 parishioners that have already contributed to the ACA. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has often spoken about the need for all to participate and to give at whatever level is possible. In-pew weekend is a reminder that we are all in this together and that the ministries and programs the Appeal supports build up the faith of the entire diocese through service, spiritual formation and strengthening of our faith community,” says Gallagher.

If this year’s campaign seems to be quicker, it is because Bishop Caggiano cut five weeks off the usual timeline and has asked that it be wrapped up by the end of June.

Gallagher says the bishop shortened the campaign in recognition of the
extraordinary generosity of many during the pandemic year, and with an understanding of the toll the pandemic has taken on everyone and the enthusiasm about moving forward in a year of recovery and renewal.

“During the past year, I have been inspired by those who have given so generously out of the recognition of the suffering and hardships that others have been experiencing. Now, as we call all the faithful back to Mass and the Eucharist, we have much to celebrate as a family of faith— and with the help of our donors, an opportunity to move forward in renewal,” said the bishop.

Gallagher said the fact that the diocese is already at 66 percent of its goal during an abbreviated campaign is very encouraging and an indication that people understand and appreciate the role diocesan ministries play in uniting the diocese in service and prayer and how they were able to reach out in the worst of the crisis to feed, counsel and support those most in need.

“After a year we’ve had, I think people can see that the ACA touches every life in our diocese. Some received direct assistance such as food or counseling. Others were able to view Mass online or participate in a rosary and unite in spiritual communion.”

Gallagher says that in the coming weeks his office will continue to follow up with major donors who have traditionally given large leadership gifts to the ACA. His team will also work with parishes that may be struggling to help them reach the goals.

Pam Rittman, director of the ACA, says that one of the positive signs of this year’s campaign has been the increase in new donors and the increase in individual giving.

“This year so far, we have a total of 2,210 new donors and another 1,900 people who increased their giving,” reports Rittman.

Rittman believes one reason for the positive response to this year’s Appeal is that pastors and parishioners are very pleased with the new incentive sharing program, which enables a parish to direct the funds to an area it raises over goal. “The incentive program has really resonated with parishioners who like the idea that the over goal money can be directed to parish operations, parish ministries, or parishes that are pastorally viable but financially facing hardship,” she says.

Rittman believes that the events of the past year and the suffering caused by the pandemic have created an awareness of the role that only the diocese can play.

“While people have always given generously to their parishes, this year the health crisis has driven the point home that the diocese can reach out in ways that individual parishes cannot. Our parishioners were able to see how we continued programs last year in the midst of COVID-19 and continue to meet the tremendous need; they see their appeal gift in action. It does not matter the size of the gift; whether it’s educating seminarians, providing scholarship money for our students, or serving the most vulnerable, the ACA gives the diocese the reach to bring the gospel message and resources to those in need,” she said.

Rittman says she hopes people will take advantage of the upcoming in-pew weekend to support the appeal. “We know that by this time in the campaign, some people may have lost their envelopes or simply forgotten. We hope that the in-pew will bring them on board as we work together to reach goal and support our overall appeal goal. As always, we are grateful to each and every parishioner.”

(Gifts can be made securely either online on the Annual Catholic Appeal website: 2021ACABridgeport.com, donate page tab or by texting the word, APPEAL to 475.241.7849 on a smartphone or calling 203.416.1470. ACA gifts can be mailed to the Catholic Center at 238 Jewett Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06606.) 

 

  1. General Guidelines
    1. Masks are required in church, but not outside including the parking lot
    2. People must put on masks prior to entering any church facility
    3. No social distancing is required within church
      1. All pews are available for seating
      2. Pastors may want to consider having a “social distance” section for those more vulnerable
    4. Mass registration systems are no longer required
    5. Outdoor Masses are allowed for the remainder of the year
    6. Church bulletins are allowed, as are holy items, cards, and books
    7. It is recommended that at least one weekend Mass should be livestreamed
    8. Holy Water fonts must remain empty
    9. The Church must be cleaned before and after weekend Masses but not in between weekend Masses
      1. Church bathrooms should be open and cleaned before weekend Masses start and after the last weekend Mass
    10. Signs are no longer required on church doors or inside churches
      1. A sign reminding people to wear masks is recommended
    11. Parish or Private functions must follow state guidelines
      1. There are no additional restrictions for these events beyond what the state mandates
      2. The state is planning to publish new guidelines for outdoor activities on May 1st and indoor activities on May 19th
    12. Mass
      1. Missals may be placed in the pews
        1. Disposable worship aids are still the preferred method of publication
      2. 8 person choirs plus instrumentalists are allowed
        1. It is recommended that singing masks be used and social distancing be observed by all choir members
        2. Choir rehearsals should be no more than an hour with social distancing
      3. Congregational singing with masks is allowed
      4. Use of Masks:
        1. Masks must be worn by everyone participating in the processionals and recessionals of Mass
        2. Masks are required in the sanctuary except for the celebrant or anyone speaking to the congregation
        3. Masks are required for anyone who is distributing Holy Communion.
        4. Concelebrants may be seated next to one another but it is recommended that they wear masks
        5. Clergy may greet parishioners before or after Mass while wearing masks
      5. There is no limit on altar servers
      1. Altar servers are not permitted to hold the book for the celebrant
  1. No restrictions on the use of Readers and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
  2. Collection baskets with handles passed by ushers are allowed.
    1. Ciborium lids must remain on until the distribution of Holy Communion
    2. It is strongly recommended that the hosts which are to be consecrated for distribution to the faithful be of at least 1 3/8” diameter to allow for ease of use and sanitary purposes
  1. The exchange of the sign of peace among the faithful remains optional
    1. If the sign of peace is exchanged, then it must be some type of non-contact gesture (bow)
  2. Processions (e.g. Corpus Christi) with masks are allowed
  • Procedures for the distribution of Holy Communion
    1. Holy Communion may continue to be distributed either on the tongue or in the hand. Clergy are not to limit the faithful in their choice of method of reception.
    2. Communion is to be distributed to the faithful only under one species – that of the consecrated hosts. Gloves are not to be worn in the distribution of holy communion, and no type of sanitary device or implement is to be placed over the hands of any communicant during distribution
    3. Social distancing is not required for Communion lines
      1. Two Communion lines in the center aisle are permitted
  1. Masks must be removed by the faithful immediately prior to receiving Holy Communion and then put back on after receiving
  2. Those distributing Holy Communion must sanitize their hands before and after distributing Holy Communion
  3. Sanitizing hands in between communicants is required when someone receives on the tongue or if the person distributing Communion inadvertently touches the communicant’s hand
  4. Kneelers and altar rails no longer must be cleaned in between communicants
  5. Communion is only given under one species – consecrated hosts
  6. Celebrants, concelebrants and deacons who are ministerially assisting at Mass must receive both species of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Appropriate accommodations must be made:
    1. The Precious Blood from the celebrant’s chalice must not be shared with concelebrants or with assisting deacons;
    2. Concelebrants are to self-communicate by means of intinction from a chalice separate from that used by the celebrant.
  • In the case of deacons who are assisting at Mass, the celebrant is to distribute the consecrated host to them so that the deacons can receive either by intinction or from a separate chalice.
  1. Procedures for other liturgical and sacramental celebrations
    1. Sacrament of Reconciliation
      1. Masks are required
      2. Social distancing is not required; confessionals may return to full use though proper ventilation is strongly encouraged.
  • Sanitization procedures are not required.
  1. Weddings and Funerals
    1. The same guidelines above for Mass apply to weddings and funerals
    2. The bride and groom are not required to wear masks

Order for the Blessing of new images at the Cathedral

This order is inserted immediately after the homily but before the recitation of the Creed. The statues which are to be blessed are situated in the sanctuary of the Cathedral in the area in front of the ambo. The statues are to be appropriately decorated with flowers and lit candles.

The Bishop processes to the statues which are to be blessed, and stands before them.

Turning to the faithful, he addresses them: 

Bishop: My brothers and sisters, we are gathered here today to bless new images which have been installed within our diocesan cathedral for public veneration. Before they are to be blessed, we must be properly disposed and have a clear appreciation of the meaning of this celebration.

When the Church blesses an image or statue and presents it for public veneration by the faithful, it does so for the following reasons: that when we look at the representation of those who have followed Christ faithfully, we will be motivated to seek the city that is to come; that we will learn the way that will enable us most surely to attain complete union with Christ; that, as we struggle along with our earthly cares, we will be mindful of the saints, those friends and coheirs of Christ who are also our brothers and sisters and our special benefactors; that we will remember how they love us, are near us, intercede ceaselessly for us, and are joined to us in marvelous communion.

Today, we have genuine reason to rejoice, because we are about to bless two new images: that of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and that of Saint Joseph, the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The image of the Sacred Heart reminds us our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself up for us with a wonderful love and poured out blood and water from his pierced side – the wellspring of the Church’s sacraments – so that all might draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation. The image of Saint Joseph is reminds us of the just man who was given as spouse to the Virgin Mother of God and set as a wise and faithful servant in charge of the household of the Almighty God to watch like a father over our Lord Jesus Christ. This particular image bears even more significance for the faithful in that it has been erected during this holy year which venerates Saint Joseph as the Patron of the Universal Church, and following a diocesan-wide consecration to his patronage.

The Bishop then says each prayer of blessing, beginning with the image of the Sacred Heart. 

Bishop: Let us pray.

The bishop then pauses briefly in silence and with hands folded. He then says the Prayer of Blessing with his hands outstretched towards the image to be blessed.

 Prayer of Blessing for the Image of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Good Father, lover of the human race,

we praise you for the great love shown us in the sending of your Word.

Born of the Virgin, he became our Savior,

our firstborn brother, like us in all things but sin.

You have given us Christ as the perfect example of holiness:

We see him as a child in the manger, yet acknowledge him God almighty.

We see his face and discern the countenance of your goodness.

We hear him speak the words of life and are filled with your wisdom.

We search the deepest reaches of his Most Sacred Heart

and our own hearts burn with that fire of the Spirit

which he spread in order to renew the face of the earth.

We look on the Bridegroom of the Church,

streaked in his own blood

which flowed through his Most Sacred Heart,

pierced for our own offenses,

but we revere that blood, which washes our sins away.

The Church rejoices in the glory of his resurrection

and shares in the promise it holds.

Lord, listen to our prayer, and bless + this image

of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, your beloved Son.

As your faithful people honor this image of your Son

may they be of one mind with Christ.

May they exchange the image of the old Adam of earth

by being transformed into Christ, the new Adam from heaven.

May Christ be the way that leads them to you,

the truth that shines in their hearts,

the life that animates their actions.

May his Most Sacred Heart become a place of refuge for them

in moments of turmoil and distress.

May Christ always be a light to their footsteps,

a safe place of rest on their journey,

and the gate that opens to them the city of peace.

For he lives there reigning with you and the Holy Spirit,

God for ever and ever.

Response: Amen

The Bishop then takes the aspergillum and imposes holy water upon the newly-blessed image. He then places incense in the thurible and incenses it.

The Bishop then stands before the image of Saint Joseph and invites all to prayer.

Bishop: Let us pray.

The bishop again pauses briefly in silence and with hands folded. He then says the Prayer of Blessing with his hands outstretched towards the image to be blessed.

Prayer of Blessing for the Image of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Lord,

you are praised, adored and loved by your people

for you alone are holy,

and because in your compassion for sinners

you sent into the world your Son,

Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of holiness.

He sent the Spirit to sustain his newborn Church,

a voice that teaches us the secrets of holiness,

a breeze that strengthens and refreshes,

a fire that sears our hearts in love,

the seed of God that yields a harvest of grace.

Today we praise you for the gifts of the Spirit bestowed upon Saint Joseph,

in whose honor we + bless this statue.

As a faithful consecrated to his patronage,

may we always follow in the footsteps of the Lord

while keeping before us his example,

and grow to a maturity measured not by nature,

but by the fullness of Christ.

May we proclaim his Gospel by word and deed

and, shouldering our crosses daily,

expend ourselves for others in your service.

As we carry out our earthly duties,

may we be filled with the Spirit of Christ

and keep our eyes fixed on the glories of heaven,

where you, Father, receive those who will reign with your Son,

for ever and ever.

Response: Amen.

The Bishop then takes the aspergillum and imposes holy water upon the newly-blessed image. He then places incense in the thurible and incenses it.

Mass continues with the recitation of the Creed, which is begun from the Cathedra.

Following the Creed is the Universal Prayer of the Faithful, during which the following intercessions are added:

Addendum to the Universal Prayer of the Faithful

Father, it is your will that in Christ we should have a teacher who is gentle and humble of heart; grant that we may obediently learn from his Most Sacred Heart both kindness and goodness. We pray to the Lord ….

O God of all wisdom, through your Son Jesus Christ you built your Church on the foundation of the apostles; keep their teaching secure among your faithful people. We pray to the Lord ….

Father, in the mysterious design of your providence you willed our Savior’s death on the cross as a victory over death and hell; grant that we may die with him so that we may also rise with him. We pray to the Lord ….

O God, source of all holiness, in the saints you have shown the many splendors of your grace; grant that in them, we may honor your majesty. We pray to the Lord….

In your saints you show your presence and make known your countenance and your word; grant to your faithful that when they honor the saints, especially Saint Joseph, they will find themselves drawn closer to you. We pray to the Lord ….

BRIDGEPORT—”How good it is to be here in person after such a long winter of isolation, challenge and fear!” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano to 200 priests, deacons and laity at the Chrism Mass this morning at St. Augustine Cathedral.

Although the statues were shrouded in purple for Holy Week and those in attendance were masked and socially distanced, there was a feeling of quiet joy as the faithful could once again gather in person to join the bishop for one of the most beautiful liturgies of the year.

The bishop seemed visibly moved to welcome the priests and laity back to the Cathedral after celebrating last year’s Chrism Mass in a nearly empty church during the pandemic lockdown.

Echoing the words of Peter at the moment of the Transfiguration, “It is good for us to meet you,” Bishop Caggiano said that being able to gather at the Chrism Mass was an “opportunity to make those words our own and a sign of hope and healing from the long winter of the pandemic.”

The procession into Mass began with a single bell tone that filled the Cathedral and signaled a moment of hopefulness captured by the bishop’s words.

The Chrism Mass is celebrated during Holy Week to bless the holy oils that are used in the sacraments throughout the year, and to strengthen the bond between the bishop and his priests.

During the Mass, the bishop led the Renewal of Priestly Promises with a series of questions. “Are you resolved to be more united with the Lord Jesus?” “Yes I am,” the priests answered in unison to begin the renewal.

In his homily, which by tradition is largely directed to the priests at the Chrism Mass, the bishop began by offering the men his “deepest personal gratitude for all of you who during a time of great trial have given of yourself sacrificially without regard for your own safety.”

“You have been witnesses to Christ, you have been faithful, but I must ask of you one more thing,” the bishop said to his priests, urging them to “make the choice” to renew the faith and strengthen their brotherhood in the post-pandemic world.

The bishop said as the pandemic begins to recede, many say that life may be forever changed and they speak of a “new moment—Heaven knows what that will look like.”

He said the new moment poses an opportunity as well as a challenge, and that “we have choices to make.”

“The new moment could be made either by us or to us…. We must seize the moment and allow the new normal to be made by us,” the bishop said as he urged priests to “recast the lives we live as brothers” by  creating a more welcoming, engaging and inclusive Church and bonding as priests “in the image of the Lord Jesus.”

He said it’s a choice that is not made once, but hundreds of times each day to “fashion a culture, an environment, a sacred place where we can support each other as brothers of one Savior.”

At a “generational moment” within the Church, he cautioned priests not to be tempted by distractions and differences over the liturgy or the belief that they have all the answers, but to see themselves as united in a Church of great diversity and charity.

“As we move out of a dark period of intense suffering and isolation, do not let this moment pass…. Let us resolve to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “With God’s grace, let us bring the Church together—all of us—to renewal and a Springtime of life it deserves,” he said.

“When we come to Calvary, what is left? What is left is seemingly a broken and bruised body which is the salvation of us all,” he said.

The bishop concluded his homily by saying, “This is not a good place to be—it is the best of all places to be. To Him be honor and glory now and forever and ever.”

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

Photos by Amy Mortensen

The bishop said the Lord chose the “simple elements of earth,” including the oil from olives as the “blessed instruments of priestly ministry” that are a tangible sign of God’s mercy and hope in the world.

After Mass, the holy oils that were consecrated on the altar are distributed to priests who will use them in their parishes when blessing the sick and in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

After the renewal of priestly vows, the bishop installed the new priest deans representing the territorial division of the diocese: Father Birendra Soreng, Mystical Rose Deanery for the towns of Stratford and Shelton; Msgr. Robert Weiss, Queen of Martyrs Deanery for the towns of Trumbull, Monroe and Newtown; Father Reggie Normal, Seat of Wisdom Deanery for Wilton, Redding, Georgetown, Weston and Ridgefield; Father Paul Murphy, Divine Grace Deanery for New Canaan, Darien and Norwalk and Father John Connaughton, Cause of our Joy Deanery for the City of Stamford.

Deacon Patrick Toole, episcopal vicar for administration, served as master of ceremonies for the Chrism Mass.

The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is Dec. 12.

The most popular Marian devotion among U.S. Catholics presently is the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. She is the most widely embraced Marian devotion in the entire American continent and perhaps the most revered religious icon in the world.

Statues of Our Lady of Guadalupe are seen during a celebration in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Houston Dec. 8, 2019. The celebration included a religious procession through downtown Houston and marked the Dec. 12 feast of Mary appearing to St. Juan Diego on a hilltop in what is today Mexico City. (CNS photo/James Ramos, Texas Catholic Herald)

Although we could attribute her wide appeal to the fast-growing Hispanic population in our country — nearly half of all U.S. Catholics — Mary of Guadalupe has a special place in the hearts of Catholics from every culture, race and social location.

My first encounter with Our Lady of Guadalupe was at a very young age when I heard the story of her apparitions. The text is beautiful and enthralling. It tells a story in which the human and the divine intersect seamlessly, as in the best of the biblical stories.

A woman, “the Lady of Heaven,” appears to an indigenous man, Juan Diego, in the year 1531. She treats him with love and respect, something that the conquistadores denied to his people at a time of much violence and suffering. He listens yet feels unworthy of her words and the tasks she gives him.

She insists that he be her messenger to the ecclesial powers of the time. He doubts himself; she affirms him. He eludes her; she reaches out again. He does not seem to understand why she chose him; she suggests that he does not have to understand it all.

After several interchanges of trusting and loving words, he acquiesces. She wants a temple. He conveys the message and she gets her wish. In the meantime, a divine sign occurs. The image of a young, pregnant and indigenous-looking maiden is miraculously imprinted in his tilma (cloak). She stayed with him. She remains with us.

The story enjoys the characteristics of a true drama. A Christian drama, one of the first of this nature in the continent for which we have a record! As in the larger Christian story, at the end the poor are lifted up, the oppressed find freedom, life supersedes death, despair is conquered by hope.

There is no doubt in my mind that these characteristics, all present in the story of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe, explain why millions upon millions of people have embraced the devotion. They resonate with our daily human experience. We all are Juan Diego at some point.

Mary of Guadalupe is a powerful symbol of hope. I have seen this in the way many Catholics approach her story and venerate her image. She is a reminder that no matter how hard life is, God does not abandon us. God cares about the poor and downtrodden. As a pregnant woman, her body enshrines God’s ultimate hope for the world: Jesus Christ.

Mary of Guadalupe is a true symbol of renewal. At the time of her apparitions, the story goes, precious birds sang and beautiful flowers blossomed out of season. In the Nahuatl tradition, the presence of flower and song signified creation: a new creation. Through her, God signaled a new beginning in which justice, friendship and love would prevail.

The year 2020 was a tough year, no doubt. The pandemic brought illness, pain, isolation, despair and death to many. Recent social tensions reopened wounds inflicted by racism and reminded us that this evil will remain with us until we really decide to confront it. Our communities ache with division as our political system withstands unprecedented tests.

God knows that we need hope and renewal. I turn first to Jesus and in doing so I turn to Mary of Guadalupe. As she promised to Juan Diego, she remains with us. I know she does.

By Hosffman Ospino @ catholicnews.com

FAIRFIELD—Assumption Catholic School nestled in the Stratfield section of Fairfield held its first class of the new year in their new outdoor classroom with its 22 first graders on Friday, September 4.

Mrs. Jennifer Geaney instructed her first-grade class surrounded by beautiful trees, while the statue of Mary looked on. Friday’s perfect weather was the ideal time to kick-off the use of this newly constructed space which will provide additional outdoor time and mask breaks.

Funds from the school’s first spring virtual auction were used to purchase these custom socially distant benches for the entire school’s use. An additional outdoor classroom under a tent will also be used following final construction of its AstroTurf flooring.

Assumption prides itself on looking a challenge head-on and making the best out of the situation for its students and families. The recent events around COVID-19 have certainly presented obstacles for those in education, healthcare and the church. Assumption and it’s parish, Our Lady of Assumption never stopped educating, growing and sharing their faith during these difficult times and “this outdoor classroom is just one more example of how the Assumption community looks forward, looks to stand together, stronger than ever,” stated Mr. Steven Santoli, principal.

Assumption Catholic School proudly opened full-time, five days a week in grades Pre K-8 for in-person learning in a nurturing, academically focused, safe environment this Fall. Assumption additionally offers before and aftercare for its working families in small cohort settings. Specials including physical education, technology, library and art strive to educate the whole student physically and emotionally and also remain offered.  Internal enrichment activities open soon including Cross Country, Lego Robotics league and others that will gradually and carefully be added within the month.

(To learn more about Assumption or to join the family visit: www.assumptionfairfield.org.)

FLORIDA—Deacon Frank J. Chiappetta entered into eternal rest on January 17, 2020 at Oak Hills Hospital in Brooksville, Florida.

Frank was born in Greenwich, Conn on February 10, 1935, to Alice Gaipa and Joseph Chiappetta. Frank attended Stamford Public Schools and graduated from Stamford High School in 1952. He attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn for two years before being drafted for service in the Korean Conflict. He served in the 6th Infantry regiment in Berlin as a cartographer.

Upon returning in 1956, he enrolled in the University of Bridgeport, School of Engineering, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Design. As a successful and accomplished artist, Frank was employed by Corning Glass Works, Syracuse China, Hamilton Watch, Lenox China, and International Silver. Frank held several patents in various disciplines.

After his ordination to the Permanent Diaconate of the Diocese of Bridgeport in 1981, he left corporate life and became Executive Director of the New Covenant House of Hospitality in Stamford. During his tenure there, he also graduated from Iona College, with a Master’s Degree in Family Counseling.

Deacon Frank served the parish of St. Philip, in Norwalk, for over twenty years. He retired to Weeki Wachee, Florida, and served as Deacon at St. Frances Cabrini, in Spring Hill, Florida. In retirement, Frank continued using his God-given talent as an artist and began painting religious icons. His greatest pride in this medium, is the icon of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, which hangs in the chapel of St. Philip Church.

Frank is survived by his wife of sixty two years, Doris Cernier. Their two children, Joseph (Nicole), of Stamford, and Paula Sideri, of Lawrence, MA, five grandchildren, Domenic (Katie), Marco (Emily), Stephen Jr., Angela, and Thomas, as well as three great-granddaughters, Evelyn, Piper, and Robin. Frank is also survived by his brothers Robert Chiappetta of Danbury and John Chiappetta (Margarita) of Dunellon, FL, as well as several nieces and nephews.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday, January 30, 10 am at St. Philip Church, 1 Fr. Conlon Pl. in Norwalk. Burial with full military honors will follow at the Veteran’s Cemetery in Middletown, Conn. Frank’s family will receive friends at St. Philip Church on Wednesday, January 29 from 4-7 pm, with a prayer service at 7 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations in his name may be made to St. Philip Church. For directions or to leave an online condolence, please go to www.magnerfuneralhome.com

Published in The Hour on Jan. 27, 2020

On November 23, I delivered the following address at the Order’s midyear or-ganizational meeting of state deputies in Orlando, Fla. I encourage all Knights to read and reflect on these remarks about the mission and future of the Knights of Columbus and a historic moment in the life of our Order—the introduction of a new, optional combined exemplification of our principles of charity, unity and fraternity.

EACH YEAR in November, we take stock of what we have done and what still remains to be done. Yet this year is different. Why? Because we’ve reached a turning point. We’ve reached a crossroads as an Order, and in the Church itself.

A rising tide lifts all boats, and there has been a rising tide since the Second Vatican Council. The council opened the floodgates of lay involvement and lay leadership in our Church. The Knights of Columbus has been there at every level of the Church in service and in solidarity. In so many ways, we have been indispensable as the strong right arm of our pastors, our bishops and even, at times, our popes. As an Order, we have nearly doubled our size since the middle of the 20th century, and in recent years, we exponentially increased our charity.

But there is another tide—a tide that is no longer rising. In fact, it is a tide that is receding, and it is receding fast—and it’s pulling much of what we love out to sea. We all can see what is happening; it’s impossible to ignore.

Over the last 50 years, more than 26 million Americans have left the Catholic faith, along with millions more in Canada. In the past several decades alone, baptisms have fallen by more than 40%; sacramental marriages have plummeted by two-thirds; and the percentage of Catholics who attend Mass every week has dropped from more than half to just over 20%.

Approximately four out of every 10 “born and raised” Catholics no longer identify as Catholics, and for every person in the United States who converts to the Catholic faith, seven leave. This year marked the first time that a majority of Hispanics in the United States said they don’t identify as Catholic. Although the recent scandals have contributed to this trend, the involvement of Catholics in our Church—usually measured by attendance at Mass—has been declining for many decades.

This is a crisis for our Church. This is a crisis for our Catholic families. We are not talking about abstractions. We are talking about our parishes, our communities, our councils, our families and our friends.

And this is a crisis for our Order. The hard reality is that the Knights of Columbus is not immune to these trends. You know as well as I do that we are finding it harder to recruit men—especially younger men. And while many juris-dictions are still adding members and inspiring more good works, in other jurisdictions this is no longer the case. This trend makes clear that our long-term future is far from secure—both as a Church and as an Order. We cannot expect someone else to come in and make everything right. The challenges are too great. All of us have a responsibility. We must step up and we must act now. This crisis calls for Knights.

OUR ESSENTIAL ROLE
Our popes have been calling our at-tention to this crisis for decades—most importantly when they speak about the Church’s mission of evangelization, as did Pope St. Paul VI in Evangelii Nuntiandi, Pope St. John Paul II in Redemptoris Missio and, most recently, Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium. We can see why this is a crisis of evangelization when we examine the reasons Catholics themselves say they leave.

First, large numbers of young adults rebel after years of catechesis and sacramental practice under their parents’ guidance. Many of them find they were only going through the motions with their parents; they never really internalized the Catholic faith and now they find it boring.

A second category is made up of Catholics who choose a lifestyle contrary to Catholic moral teaching and leave the Church.

And a third group is made up of Catholics who faced a crisis and needed help, but did not receive support from their fellow Catholics.

My brother Knights, this crisis in our Church is really a crisis of evangelization—or rather, it is a crisis of a failure to evangelize. In a particular way, it is a failure to evangelize the Catholic family and to evangelize within the Catholic family. Such a crisis cannot be adequately responded to without the action of Catholic husbands and fathers.

Three decades ago, St. John Paul II told us that the lay faithful have “an essential and irreplaceable role” in the Church’s mission of evangelization (Christifideles Laici, 7). Today, I say to you that the Knights of Columbus has “an essential and irreplaceable role” in con-fronting the crisis we now face as a Church.

The Knights of Columbus will rise to meet this challenge. We will take up our essential and irreplaceable role. We must become again a Church that evangelizes—a Church that evangelizes its children and families and at the same time reaches out to those who do not yet know Christ who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” We can and we must do this by our witness and our charity.

Today, the Knights of Columbus has the tools to meet this crisis on two important levels. First, because of our Faith in Action model we now have effective programs to meet the challenges we face—programs to evangelize and strengthen Catholic family life with our men’s spirituality and marriage spirituality programs like Into the Breach, Complete My Joy, and The Family Fully Alive.

We are also inspiring a new generation of Catholic men by the witness of brother Knights who are true Everyday Heroes through the video series with that title. Our Office of Youth Protection offers a robust program to enhance a safe environment for our children, and the film Protecting Our Children: A Family’s Response to Sexual Abuse offers families knowledge and concrete steps to help keep their children safe.

We continue in countless ways to bring Christ’s love and concern to millions who suffer and are in need. We provide a charity that evangelizes because it sees in the face of all those who suffer the face of Christ. And this must be especially true for our brothers and sisters in our parishes who face hardship and suffering. We must redouble all these efforts, and we must bring the programs in our Faith in Action model to even greater heights.

We must forge a new generation of Knights—men who see in our principles of charity, unity and fraternity a path to leading a Catholic way of life that can strengthen their families, their parishes and their communities. Just as our forefathers rallied to meet the challenges of their day, we must inspire the men of our day.

We must reach out to meet these men where they are. And when we do, we must show them that they are called to be men of charity, unity and fraternity. Because of this, we are acting to make our Order more inviting and more accessible. Our online membership initiative has already opened the door to membership where no local councils may be active. Early in the new year, we will begin offering a new and groundbreaking combined exemplification of our principles of charity, unity and fraternity.

A NEW CEREMONY FOR A NEW ERA
This historic new ceremonial is rooted in our past and tailored to our present. It will inspire more men to join us. Most of all, it is essential to the sustainability of the Knights of Columbus, as it will empower us to advance our mission and grow in the years ahead. It is essential to our ability to meet the crisis we now face.

Before I explain what the new ceremony entails, let me first address why it is necessary. The current degrees are products of the late 19th century. At that time, the Knights of Columbus competed with other fraternal societies. In those days, men wanted secrecy and the sense of progression that came with multiple degrees. That’s why our founder and first members initially created a system of two ceremonies. Over time, a third and then a fourth were added.

The idea of a journey through knighthood in which men pro-gressed from one degree to the next was meant to encourage greater participation in the activities of the Order. It was meant to inspire men to seek leadership roles in our local councils—and for a time it worked well. But the men of today are not the men of the 1880s, or even the men of the 1980s.

In recent decades, we have found it harder to bring men, especially young fathers, into the Order. When we ask them why, they tell us three ceremonies are too time-consuming and too difficult to attend. They also tell us that secrecy is unnecessary, and sometimes, it is even an impediment to joining.

Many local councils lack ceremonial teams or the manpower to organize degrees. This means many candidates wait far too long to fully join our ranks. Some give up. Too many never take their Second and Third degrees. Last year, little more than half of the men who took their First Degree also took their Third Degree.

This situation will not improve during the coming decade as the number of ceremonial teams—especially Third Degree teams—decline. Today, our current system is too often a stumbling block, not a gateway to membership. Today, our current system too often fails to promote a truly Catholic fraternal membership according to the vision of Father McGivney.

Our ceremonials have always been an essential way we teach the principles of charity, unity and fraternity. But today, too many men never hear the lessons of unity and fraternity. The current inability of our system to reach so many brother Knights and teach them the lessons of unity and fraternity must have an impact on the character and life of many local councils. All this threatens the future of our Order. We have the responsibility to act and to act now.

We must find new ways to bring the men we need—and the men who need us—into our Order. We no longer need a journey through knighthood based upon a progression of degrees that nearly half our men are unwilling or unable to take. Today, we need an exemplification of our principles that presents, in a clear and convincing way, how charity, unity and fraternity can come together to form a Catholic way of life for today’s man and his family.

Our most recent Supreme Convention adopted a resolution from Illinois to consider combining our current First, Second and Third degree ceremonies into one and removing the condition of secrecy. Following the Supreme Convention’s action, I directed an in-depth review of our ceremonials with an eye toward staying true to our roots while at the same time presenting our principles of charity, unity and fraternity in a more clear and convincing way. We undertook an inclusive process with supreme directors, state officers and ceremonialists with many decades of experience in the exemplification of our degrees.

The result is a new ceremony that stays true to our traditions while addressing the needs of our times. Instead of having separate ceremonies, all three degrees can now be conferred in a single ceremony. The new exemplification focuses on the history and principles of our Order. It presents a fuller and richer understanding of who we are, what we stand for and what we are called to be. It hearkens back to the simple ceremonies of unity and charity first approved by Father McGivney.

Our new ceremony can be held in a council chamber or in a church with families and friends seated in the pews. They will see firsthand the organization that their husbands, fathers, brothers, sons and friends are joining—the principles and values they are committing to and why it matters.

FOLLOWING OUR FOUNDER
Now, I recognize that this is a significant change. Like so many of you, I have a special fondness for the old degree ceremonies. Yet, also like you, and every leader of our Order, I want to see the Knights of Columbus thrive and grow. The Knights of Columbus needs the men of today. In the 1880s, Father Mc-Givney oversaw reforms that were needed to allow his young organization to flourish. Looking back on those changes, our founder proudly declared: “The Knights of Columbus is the same now as when first instituted.”

My brother Knights, I say the same to you today. Together with our online membership initiative, our new combined cer-emonial will form the two wings upon which membership growth can soar to new heights. All of this will be supported by a new branding and marketing campaign that will be released early in the new year. It will focus on how we can more effectively invite men to join us. And it will show that “one-on-one recruiting” is most effective when it expresses our own personal experiences in the Order.

We are making a paradigm shift. Years ago, when each of us accepted the responsibilities of fraternal leadership, few of us thought that those duties would one day include taking up pro-grams to support the Church’s mission of evangelization. Yet, such are the circumstances we face. Throughout our history, the Knights of Columbus has been called to adapt to change. Now we are again taking bold steps. But boldness is what the times demand. We cannot shrink from the crisis around us. We must meet it head-on, with firm reliance on our faith and in each other.

Today, we face a great crisis throughout the Church in North America. We are at a crossroads we cannot avoid. At such times, our thoughts turn to Father McGivney.

During his trip to the United States in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of our founder. He said Father McGivney represented “the secret of the impressive growth” of the Catholic Church in our continent. We should be inspired and humbled that a pope should highlight Father McGivney in such a way as a model for our fellow Catholics. We continue to pray for his canonization—that through the example of his heroic virtue, his vision and his intercession, millions of Catholics will be inspired.

Father McGivney’s example and his vision can again be the reason for the “impressive growth” of our Church in the days ahead. Father McGivney saw that Catholic men united in charity could form a brotherhood that would enable them to fulfill their mission to manifest Christ to others by their witness and in that way contribute to the sanctification of the world. For Father Mc-Givney, the path of charity, unity and fraternity was to be an enduring path of Christian discipleship.

Then, Father McGivney did something that made all the difference—he entrusted this great task to the Catholic laymen he called his brothers. He could have chosen to serve as the leader of the new organization that his vision and his determination had made a reality. Instead, he trusted laymen, in unity with their clergy and with their guidance, to direct and carry out their own part in the mission of the Church. This is the great legacy that you and I have inherited.

May the intercession of Father McGivney guide, sustain and enable us to fulfill our vocation as leaders of this great Order for the welfare of our brother Knights and the renewal of our Church.

Vivat Jesus!

by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson  I  Originally published in Columbia Magazine

Diciembre 6, 2019

Carta a los Fieles

Estimados Hermanos y Hermanas en Cristo,

Les escribo para informar que he asignado al Padre Jaime Marín-Cardona a estar en licencia administrativa tras haber sido informado por el Departamento de Niños y Familias del estado (DCF) que se ha encontrado alegaciones substanciadas de abuso como resultado de una larga investigación.

La Diócesis de Bridgeport ha cooperado plenamente con la investigación realizada por DCF y con una investigación paralela en curso llevada a cabo por el Departamento de Policía de Danbury.

El Consejo diocesano de Revisión de Conducta Sexual también se reunió y aceptó la determinación de credibilidad concluida por DCF. Como resultado, he removido las facultades sacerdotales del Padre Marín-Cardona y le he prohibido participar en el ministerio público.

El padre Marín-Cardona ha sido sacerdote de la Diócesis de Bridgeport desde 2010, con asignaciones en la Parroquia San José en Norwalk, San Carlos Borromeo en Bridgeport, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe en Danbury y más recientemente en Santa María en Bridgeport.

La diócesis inició esta investigación enviando un informe tanto al Departamento de Niños y Familias de Connecticut (DCF) como a la Policía de Danbury en Septiembre de 2019, cuando recibió una carta de que indicaba que los padres de familia estaban preocupados por contacto del Padre Marín-Cardona con un familiar menor de edad.

En ese momento yo inmediatamente removí al padre Marín-Cardona de su ministerio, le ordené que se mudara fuera de la parroquia a un establecimiento para adultos y restringí su contacto con cualquier menor durante la investigación.

En la entrevista inicial los padres del menor y la víctima indicaron que no ocurrió abuso alguno, y como resultado DCF inicialmente no aceptó el reporte para continuar la investigación. Sin embargo, la policía continuó con el curso de esta investigación y con base en la información encontrada, ambos DCF y la policía de Danbury aceptaron el reporte para continuar la investigación.

Estamos agradecidos con los padres por haber manifestado sus preocupaciones y nos comprometemos a trabajar con ellos en toda manera posible para lograr su sanación durante este momento difícil. Asimismo, la vigilancia de los padres de familia, así como la de los pastores enfatiza en la importancia de identificar las señales de alerta de posible abuso, y también la importancia de las Políticas diocesanas de Ambiente Seguro que están diseñadas para proteger a los niños y conducen a intervención temprana. La Diócesis está agradecida también con la Policía de Danbury por su sensibilidad y profesionalismo en el manejo de esta investigación.

Estas noticias son profundamente preocupantes para todos los involucrados. Es también angustiante dado el esfuerzo de la diócesis por continuar con su proceso de sanación y reconciliación tras la publicación del reporte de responsabilidad del Juez Holzberg. Sin embargo, la diócesis continúa comprometida a reforzar los transcendentales programas de protección infantil que están vigentes y a fortalecer aún más los procedimientos de respuesta inmediata y transparente de las denuncias, así como los reportes simultáneos tanto al departamento de policía como al Departamento de Niños y familias (DCF).

Tengan por seguro que cada uno de ustedes está en mis oraciones, y les pido que asimismo me tengan en sus oraciones en este momento de dificultad.

Sinceramente suyo en Cristo,

Reverendísimo Frank. J. Caggiano,

Obispo de Bridgeport

 

La Diócesis solicita que cualquier persona que tenga una preocupación la traiga a nuestra atención inmediatamente llamando a la oficina de Ambiente Seguro: (203) 416-1406 y a la línea para Sobrevivientes y testigos (833) 990-0004 o por correo electrónico • www.lighthouse-services.com/diobptTodas las llamadas son confidenciales.

NORWALK—A priest in Norwalk says it’s a blessing the Notre Dame cathedral’s structure remains intact after a fire partially destroyed the building.

Father Peter Lenox, of St. Joseph Church in Norwalk, studied at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in Rome and spent a summer studying French in Paris.

He says he had the honor of visiting Notre Dame several times.

“When I first saw the fire, I was heartbroken,”  Lenox says.

Father Lenox says he not only celebrated Mass at the cathedral, but also participated in priesthood ordinations of the Archdiocese of Paris and even played the organ.

He’s friends with the organists at the cathedral who say relics, including the Crown of Thorns, were saved.

Lenox says it’s a symbolic gesture because it’s Holy Week.

He says it’s a blessing the cathedral’s structure remains.

“It’s wonderful to see that God did not allow it to be completely destroyed. But he has allowed it to be placed in a need for this current culture and citizens and this current generation to take care of the treasure that they have,” Lenox says.

This article, along with a video, first appeared on News 12.

 

My Dear Friends in Christ,

“Sic transit Gloria mundi.” So passes the glory of the world. That simple Latin phrase was used for nearly 660 years, each time a bishop assumed the throne of Peter. And it was during that ceremony of coronation that as the bishop soon to be Pope was carried through St. Peter’s, three times one of his masters of ceremony would fall to his knees while holding in their grasp a golden rod, at the very end of which was a piece of wax that was burning slowly—becoming ashes.

He would proclaim those words sic transit Gloria mundi. For all the pomp, circumstance, glory and power that the new Peter would receive, he was reminded that much of what the world considers to be glory will end up in ashes.

We’ve come here in the beginning of this time of penance to be reminded of the same thing. We enter into the desert for forty days and forty nights so that we may come to the cross of Jesus Christ renewed with our minds and hearts clear that we do not place our trust in the glory of mundi but in the glory of Christi and that our dreams, our hopes, our desires and our longings will find their answer in Christ—the one who freely gave his life so that you and I might have eternal life.

And we will walk these forty days mindful of the fact that you and I have chosen the glory of mundi over and over and over again, each time you and I have sinned. And we see the forgiveness of those sins and repentance of life and new beginning in Jesus Christ. For each time you and I have chosen to follow the ways of the world, believe what the world teaches us, we have come to its glory and we have sinned. Each time you and I have believed and followed the ways of the world and not sought to live a life of patience and love forgiveness and mercy when our hearts have become hardened, we have sinned. And much of what we have done will wind up in ashes.

Each time you and I my friends have chosen to follow what the world wants us to believe—that the only person that ultimately matters is me and it is my will to prevail, my desires that should lead me, my thoughts and opinions should guide everything I do, regardless of what the Lord has taught us, shown us and given us, we have sinned, we have chosen the glory of the world and it will wind up in ashes.

The purpose of Lent, my friends, is to begin with ashes and leave them behind. And in the weeks ahead, to take on the mind of Christ. And we do that by following the words of the Master—by going into our inner room and praying with minds and hearts in devotion. To find the time in our busy lives to do less talking and more listening, to allow Jesus to speak to us, to caress us, to love us and to forgive us. It is to do fasting and abstinence, so that we may go hungry, not for the things of the world but the gifts only Christ can give, most especially His body and blood, soul and divinity that will fill our hearts, our stomachs, our minds and our lives with the only thing we need. And in almsgiving to do the works of charity so that we might become the ambassadors of Christ’s good news of salvation in a world that desperately needs and new way of living.

We begin Lent mindful that we have all at times chosen the glory of this world over the will of God. Let us be resolved to end Lent not being afraid of the words sic transit Gloria mundi, because we will have already left the glories of the world behind to embrace the one who is our glory, our hope and our salvation.

 

 

October 1, 2019

Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

I write today to inform you that retired Connecticut Superior Court Judge Robert Holzberg has released the Clerical Sexual Abuse Accountability Report for our Diocese, which I commissioned on October 3, 2018.

The report, nearly a year in the making, was compiled by the Judge and his investigative team who had unfettered access to diocesan files, reviewing over 250,000 records, hundreds of thousands of individual documents, inspection of parish offices, files, and computers and interviews with key participants. It provides an independent and comprehensive accounting of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy along with the response of diocesan leadership since the inception of the diocese in 1953. It is available in its entirety on the diocesan website, (www.bridgeportdiocese.org) and includes an executive summary for the reader.

While this is a difficult day in the life of our Church, I hope and pray that it is also an historic step toward closure and reconciliation for all those affected by the crisis, particularly the victims and their families who have suffered so much. The report explores a deep wound in the life of our Church, one that has profoundly changed and challenged all of us. Yet there is reason for hope because so much work has already been done to create awareness, to protect our children and prevent future abuse.

I believe the publication of the report is a crucial step forward, among many other pastoral and administrative measures that the Diocese has taken over the last eighteen years, to ensure complete accountability and transparency in the handling of abuse and also to maintain the strongest Safe Environment policies to protect our children and young people.

Together with the Financial Accountability Report which was originally published in October 2018, this report continues our commitment to full and ongoing transparency in these matters. Furthermore, the first annual update of the Financial Accountability Report, expected to be released before December 31, 2019, will include a full accounting of the costs associated with the Judge’s Report.

I wish again to offer my profound and heartfelt apology to all who have suffered abuse at the hands of any cleric in our Diocese. I also apologize to all those who have lost a sense of trust or feel betrayed by Church leadership. My personal commitment is to do whatever is humanly possible to eradicate this evil from our midst. I also pledge to swiftly implement the recommendations included in Judge Holzberg’s Report in the months ahead.

As we move forward, I wish to thank those survivors and family members who have joined our efforts to prevent this crime from ever happening again. Likewise, to our good and faithful priests, who represent the vast majority of those in ministry, I recognize the pain and challenges you face in this time of challenge and remain grateful for your support.

Finally, I wish to thank Judge Holzberg, who served as lead investigator and his team for their exhaustive work on this effort and their professionalism throughout the process.

It is my sincere hope and prayer that with the release of this historic report, we can come to terms with the sins of the past, move towards deeper reconciliation, continue to walk with our survivors on their journey of healing, and work together for the spiritual renewal of the diocese.

I ask for your prayers and support as we work together to renew our Diocesan Church.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano,
Bishop of Bridgeport

Retired Connecticut Superior Court Judge Robert Holzberg, who has led an independent investigation into the handling of the abuse crisis by the Diocese of Bridgeport, released a report on his findings today (October 1, 2019) in a press conference.

The press conference can be viewed below, as well as on the Diocese of Bridgeport’s Facebook page. It begins approximately at 10:43 of the video.