Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

Below is Bishop Caggiano’s decree regarding the merger of Holy Trinity and St. Edward the Confessor.

For a printable PDF, please click here to download.


The Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano
By the Grace of God and the Authority of the Apostolic See
Bishop of Bridgeport
DECREE MERGING
HOLY TRINITY PARISH, SHERMAN, CT INTO
SAINT EDWARD THE CONFESSOR PARISH, NEW FAIRFIELD, CT

In virtue of the office entrusted to me, I, the Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, Fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, duly concerned with the spiritual welfare of the souls entrusted to me, zealous of avoiding everything that may be detrimental to their well-being and desiring to promote everything becoming of their progress, having engaged with the parishioners of Saint Edward the Confessor Parish, New Fairfield, CT, and Holy Trinity Parish, Sherman, CT, having prayerfully considered the information presented to me, the law and the facts and, having heard all those whose rights may be harmed (c. 50) and, having ascertained from documents and deeds and consulted those concerned that there are no major donors or heirs to be heard and, having heard the Council of Priests (c. 515 §2) on February 10, 2022 and, having determined that the good of the souls requires it,

ESTABLISH THAT

Holy Trinity Parish be merged into Saint Edward the Confessor Parish through an extinctive union. This determination has been made to strengthen the pastoral care of the people of God in this area of my diocese, to bring the full pastoral and ministerial services of Saint Edward the Confessor Parish to the people of the extinct Holy Trinity Parish, to foster collaboration between both communities and effect financial savings and enhance economic viability that will allow for future growth of Saint Edward the Confessor Parish.

Wherefore, I, the Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiirno, Bishop of Bridgeport, in virtue of canon 515 §2 of the Code of Canon Law, do hereby decree that Holy Trinity Parish, Sherman, CT be merged, through an extinctive union, into Saint Edward the Confessor Parish, New Fairfield, CT.

  • I also hereby decree that all the physical property, rights, obligations and privileges of the members of Christian faithful domiciled in the territory of the extinct parish, accorded to it by law or legitimately acquired, are to be transferred to and made part of Saint Edward the Confessor Parish.
  • By this extinctive union, the territorial boundary of Saint Edward the Confessor Parish is extended to include the territory of the extinct parish.
  • Furthermore, the intentions of the founders and donors of the patrimony of the now extinct parish must be respected in accordance with the law (c. 121).
  • All sacramental registers, seals, and parish files of the extinct parish are to be properly transferred to, preserved and safeguarded by Saint Edward the Confessor Parish in accord with the norm of law.
  • The church of the extinct parish shall remain open as an additional worship site of Saint Edward the Confessor Parish.
  • The Corporation of Holy Trinity Parish will remain intact in order to receive possible legacies, bequests, donations, etc.

This decree is to be communicated to the respective administrators of the two juridical persons that are being amalgamated through this extinctive union. It is also to be communicated to all interested persons, according to the norm of law (c. 532). It may be challenged within the peremptory time limit of ten (10) days from the legitimate notification of the decree and in accordance with the norm of law (c. 1734 §2).

This decree becomes effective on July 1, 2022.

Given June 29, 2022, the Solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul, at the Catholic Center, Bridgeport, Connecticut.

DANBURY – Hundreds of people gathered at St. Gregory the Great Church, were challenged to follow the Five First Saturdays devotion to the Blessed Mother to spread grace, peace and healing in their own communities and throughout the world.

A riveting speech by Father Donald Calloway, a Catholic priest with an unforeseen journey to becoming a man of the cloth, combined humor, realism and a conviction of faith despite the pressures of the outside world.

“We need heavenly help and Our Lady can help us,” said Father Calloway, who is a priest in the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.

Father Calloway said he was “spiritually dead” before picking up a book and learning about the Mother of God more than 30 years ago. He said his conversion from being a wayward teenager doing drugs to following Christ, came through his relationship with Mary.

“Jesus having a mom made a difference,” he said, explaining, “if you want to know me talk to my mom,” the same as the Blessed Mother knows her child and a child who loves his mother will honor her and her wishes. “You need to know the real Jesus,” he said. Throughout his hour-long speech, Father Calloway often referred to the Blessed Mother as “Mama Mary,” making her seem even more real and relatable.

“She’s going to give you the humility to go to confession,” he said, which is the first element in First Saturdays devotion. “People don’t know what sin is today,” he said. “They have stink and stench on their soul and as every good mother does, she cleans her kids,” he said.

“We have a great gift in the gift of confession,” Fathey Calloway said. “You are always going to be a child in the eyes of God. It doesn’t matter how old you are in chronological time.” “Confession is God’s spiritual cleansing of his child. You have to have the humility to do that,” he said. The Sacrament of Confession is also part of the devotion practice to receive Holy Communion on First Saturdays as is reciting five decades of the Holy Rosary sometime during that day.

“The Rosary is tried and true for overcoming vices in your life,” he said. “This is the Bible in a set of beads,” he told those gathered as he held up a Rosary in his right hand. “It’s a journey to Bethlehem in your mind and in your heart.”

Father Calloway spoke of fostering an enduring relationship with God. The truth will not change to accommodate you.” He also acknowledged, as a priest, he must do the same, “I need to keep my thinking and my desires in alignment with Christ.”

Meditating for 15 minutes on the Mysteries of the Rosary is also part of First Saturdays devotion practice. “No one wants to see their mother cry,” he said, referencing Our Lady’s explanation about the Five First Saturdays to Sr. Lucia dos Santos, one of the Fatima visionaries, in 1925.

Five First Saturdays signify the five kinds of offenses and blasphemies spoken against the Immaculate Heart of Mary including blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception, against her Virginity, against the Divine Maternity, those who seek publicly to implant, in the hearts of children, indifference, disrespect, and even hate for the Immaculate Mother and those who revile her directly in her sacred images.

The Blessed Mother promises to assist at the hour of death with the graces necessary for salvation for all those who practice First Saturdays devotion.

Father Calloway also implored men to be men acknowledging how men hurt women. “We have got to get men who model St. Joseph. There needs to be a renewal of manhood,” he said encouraging women to, “wait to find your Joseph.”

Following his speech, Father Calloway, an accomplished author, signed his books available for purchase including his most recent book, “Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father,” and took photos and prayed with attendees.

His words resonated with those gathered. “The entire speech was phenomenal,” said Peter Chomiak, who attended the event with his wife, Catherine. “It was action-packed. We really need to hear more of that.”

“I think there was beauty in the simplicity of his message,” Catherine Chomiak said. The couple traveled from St. Mary Parish in Ridgefield to attend the sold-out event. “He really touched a lot on sin in our culture that we see all around us,” said Mary Ryan of St. John’s in Watertown, who attended with her friend Rachel Rossier, an art teacher at St. Gregory the Great School. “He contextualized with so much gentleness, that God sees us as his children,” Rossier said. “I loved his humility and his transparency. He’s so good about speaking very relatively and his comedic timing is perfect. He is gentle and strong, just like St. Joseph.”

Elma and Jim Stoveken of Ridgefield said Father Calloway’s enthusiasm and his ability to explain faith in a relatable way made for an impactful and insightful evening on how the Rosary pertains to our world today. “When you’re close to Mama Mary,” Father Calloway said. “She always brings you closer to God.”

By Kathy-Ann Gobin

FAIRFIELD—St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Fairfield has recently received a Victory Noll Sisters Small Grant from the Catholic Climate Covenant for their work on the parish’s “Resurrection Vineyard” garden.

This past summer, St. Anthony’s Values the Environment (S.A.V.E.), an environmental component of the parish’s social justice committee, started the garden as a way to give back to the local community. Parishioners and community members have made generous donations over the past few months, and the garden is growing in size, but hopefully the money from the grant will help it yield even more.

The Covenant’s small grants program was announced last summer, and these are the first winners. Half of the funding for the first year of the program came from the Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters (aka Victory Noll Sisters) and the other half from generous donors. The program was overwhelmed with more than 230 applications from Catholic groups for grants of up to $1,000.

Among the grant winners are college campus ministries, parishes, elementary and high school creation care programs, charities agencies, state Catholic conferences, men and women religious communities, and many others.

Funds will go to a wide variety of ecological and Laudato-Si’-inspired projects including community gardens that provide healthy produce for food programs, educational efforts to bring greater awareness of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, growing tree canopies around schools and parishes, and instituting recycling and composting projects to dramatically cut waste in school and parish cafeterias.

Jerry Hemenway, Jr., St. Anthony’s parishioner and a member of S.A.V.E., said the idea for the parish garden was based on the combination of desires to contribute, serve and sustain the community, especially those most in need, and to participate in God’s plan to ‘love our neighbor as we love ourselves.’

“At St. Anthony’s, this past season, we were thrilled beyond our wildest expectations that our little Resurrection Vineyard Garden was so successful, producing several thousand vegetables for the Merton Center. Sabine, the director, her dedicated staff, and the adults and children served are always so appreciative when we show up twice weekly with the freshly grown veggies. They even asked us to take over their garden and greenhouse on the side of the building, to which we gladly agreed,” said Hemenway.

Hemenway said the group was thrilled to receive the grant from the Victory Knoll Sisters, will allow them to expand the gardens and add a much wider variety of vegetables, herbs, flowers, seeds and composting bins.

“Our wonderful group of loyal gardeners, many who have expertise in different facets of growing the vegetables and flowering plants, have developed a warm camaraderie, that has bonded us proudly as parishioners, helping and serving others, and on a small but significant level, nurturing our planet and humanity,” said Hemenway, who added that the group at St. Anthony’s is happy to discuss and assist other diocesan parishes who are interested in starting their own garden.

The Covenant has encouraged all grant recipients to share their stories as their projects unfold. For many grant winners, projects will be part of their Laudato Si’ Action Platform efforts, the Vatican’s global initiative for Catholic institutions to commit to a seven-year sustainability journey.

About Catholic Climate Covenant

Catholic Climate Covenant inspires and equips people and institutions to care for creation and care for the poor. Through our 19 national partners, we guide the U.S. Church’s response to climate change by educating, giving public witness, and offering resources.

(For more information, visit: www.catholicclimatecovenant.org)

About St. Anthony of Padua

St. Anthony of Padua Church, located at 149 South Pine Creek Road, is a Roman Catholic Church that attracts parishioners from all areas of Fairfield and Westport, Connecticut. St. Anthony’s Values the Environment (S.A.V.E.) will periodically post information on the church website about how individuals and parishioners can work to care for our common home.

(For more information, visit: www.stanthonyffld.org)

By Elizabeth Clyons

BRIDGEPORT—As schools around the diocese gear up for Catholic Schools Week, it is important to reflect on the many continued achievements of our diocesan schools, even amidst the difficult days of the pandemic.

“While there can be no doubt that the pandemic has challenged our schools, our leaders, our teachers and our families, we must acknowledge the many blessings that have come from everyone’s commitment to mission and focus on academic success of students,” wrote Dr. Steve Cheeseman, superintendent of schools, in a letter introducing Diocesan Schools Office’s 2021 Annual Report.

Readers can peruse the annual report in more detail in the following pages, and will find many encouraging statistics that Catholic education is alive and well. In fact, student enrollment increased by 11 percent in 2021, which is the highest increase in enrollment in decades.

The fact that our diocesan Catholic Schools are thriving is especially evident when Dr. Cheeseman visits and gets to see students and teachers in action!

When Dr. Cheeseman visited St. Joseph School in Danbury, they kept him busy with a Saint project, games, violin, making the tallest tree in Innovation Lab, and reviewing math and reading skills.

At St. Raphael Academy in Bridgeport, first-graders couldn’t wait to show off their improved handwriting, and second-graders class couldn’t wait to share what they’d learned about Christmas in France and invited Dr. Cheeseman to make a yule log cake with them.

In the third grade classroom, they put his math skills to the test and in the Innovation Zone, there was nothing short of creative ideas going on. In preschool, he didn’t shy away from making slime and helping a group match their colors and shapes.

It didn’t matter which grade he visited, it was clear that the students and staff were just as happy to see Dr. Cheeseman as he was to see each and every one of them.

At St. Augustine Academy in Bridgeport, each classroom had a student representative excited to share with him what they were learning—the middle schoolers were working with Exact Path, running through their station rotations in reading and math, studying for their Spanish quiz by playing a game, where Dr. Cheeseman scored a point—buen trabajo!

One of the fifth-grade classes was working through a life science lesson and was able to talk through the plant life cycle, while the other fifth-grade class enjoyed showing him how to play We Wish You A Merry Christmas with maracas.

The fourth graders enjoyed talking to him about his role as superintendent and they all agreed they enjoyed his school visits as much as he did! With that, he ended his visit in grade 4 where he got blessed with Kindness Sprinkles, ranked in first place during their Kahoot game, and was told how grateful the students were to him for always protecting the schools.

With that, he wrapped up the visit with a special announcement for a dress-down day as an appreciation for all the student’s hard work!

(For more information, visit: www.dioceseofbridgeportcatholicschools.com.)

STRATFORD—St. Mark School actively seeks ways to put faith into action. This year, students, faculty and staff are participating in the “Chalice Challenge,” an initiative presented by the Diocese of Bridgeport Office of Vocations.

On a bi-weekly basis, a golden chalice gets passed from one grade to another. While a class has the chalice, they commit to praying each day for parish priests, for diocesan seminarians, and for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

St. Mark is one of twelve schools in the diocese that is intentionally praying for more people to hear and answer God’s call. 

Grade 2 volunteered to be the first class to take on the “Chalice Challenge.” Second-grade teacher Amelia Justo shared, “Our students are preparing for their First Holy Communion and learning about the chalice helps them understand the mystery of the Holy Eucharist and Jesus’ infinite love for us. The students love admiring the chalice and praying in front of it.”

St. Mark Principal Melissa Warner commented, “The Challenge is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn what a vocation is and the need our Church has for priests and the religious to serve their brothers and sisters in Christ.”

According to third-grade teacher Breanna Miller, students truly enjoyed taking time out of their busy days to pray for priests who strengthen our relationship with God.

Students wrote prayers such as:

“I thank all the priests for teaching us about Jesus in Mass.” 

“I am happy that the priests help us to be followers of Jesus like the disciples.” 

“I think it’s beautiful that we are saying prayers for our priests and nuns and for those people who want to enter the priesthood,” commented Nicholas, a fourth-grader who has wanted to be a bishop for as long as he could remember.

According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, in 2020 there were 35,513 priests in the United States, 18,036 permanent deacons, 41,357 religious sisters and 3,801 religious brothers.

The “Chalice Challenge” is not the only initiative that St. Mark School has adopted this year to increase awareness of vocations. Students also participated in the CT Council Knights of Columbus Vocation Poster Contest, where students in grades 2-8 were asked to depict priests, brothers and/or sisters in action and service.

Diocesan Vocations Director Father Christopher Ford visited St. Mark School in the fall to thank students for their participation in the contest. Students were excited to meet with Father Ford. They shared with him their aspirations in life, and what they thought God wanted them to aspire to. Father Ford answered questions about the Catholic faith and about the daily life of a priest, nun or religious ministries.

“Priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life are promoted through prayer and education efforts,” shared Father Ford. “The greatest way we can do this is by inviting people to first grow in their relationship with Jesus, become His disciple, then listen and respond to the particular way the Lord wants us to serve.”

“As it takes a village to raise a child; it takes an entire Church to raise a priest,” added Father Ford.

TRUMBULL—The Diocese of Bridgeport is reaching out to the families who had a loved one die of COVID-19 last year to let them know they can receive up to $9000 for related funeral expenses from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We see this as an opportunity to reach out to the families of the 1600 people we buried last year to inform them,” said Dean Gestal, the Director of Catholic Cemeteries. “We can identify 350 we know died of COVID, and there are obviously many more who will be able to recoup some money for funeral expenses and burials.”

In addition, a letter will go out from Bishop Frank J. Caggiano for pastors to read and publish in their parish bulletins, announcing the FEMA program.

Gestal’s office is also sending letters to the 1600 families that buried a loved one in the Catholic cemeteries during 2020 to explain the requirements to obtain the financial assistance.

He said the Catholic Cemeteries Office of the Diocese of Bridgeport is available to assist with any burial information required to file for this assistance, as well as discuss and plan for future needs. (For more information, visit: bridgeportdiocese.org/fema or call the Catholic Cemeteries office at 203.416.1494 or email dtotten@diobpt.org.)

The new FEMA program provides up to $9,000 for COVID-19 related funeral expenses incurred between January 20, 2020 and December 31, 2020.

You must meet the following conditions to be eligible:

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

FEMA will reimburse families up to $9,000 for COVID-related funeral and burial costs; however, different factors will determine who is eligible to receive the full amount or a portion of the funds.

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

  • An official death certificate that attributes the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the U.S., including the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. (You can obtain one by contacting the State Vital Records Office or vital records office where the death occurred. Sometimes a cemetery, funeral home, or a third-party provider can also request this information).
  • Documents that detail funeral expenses, such as receipts, cemetery contract, funeral home contract, etc. They must include the applicant’s name, the deceased person’s name, the amount of funeral expenses, and the dates the funeral expenses were incurred.
  • Proof of funds received from other sources specifically for use toward funeral costs. FEMA will not duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies or other sources.

BRIDGEPORT—  The Diocese has launched the “Call to Renewal” website to serve as a guide to the Year of St. Joseph and overall renewal efforts.

The website is designed to provide information related to the spiritual and pastoral renewal of the diocese as called for in Bishop Caggiano’s Pastor Exhortation, “Let us Enter the Upper Room with the Lord.”

“I come to you now, when many may be wondering about the future direction of our Church, to invite you to begin this spiritual journey with me, seeking the Lord’s grace to transform this time of suffering into a springtime of renewal for the life of the Church,” he said in his introductory letter.

The website includes updates on the Year of St. Joseph, the Diocesan Ambassadors Program, opportunities for Reconciliation and Eucharistic Adoration, and more.

“I pray that you will find these resources helpful as we seek to renew our Church in Fairfield County,” said the bishop.

Materials on the website include an introduction from the bishop, a link to his  Pastoral Exhortation in its entirety, which is available in both English and Spanish.  A professionally recorded audio version is also available for those who prefer to listen to it as they drive or perform other tasks.

The website will also feature weekly “Notes from the Upper Room” by Bishop Caggiano along with a timeline explaining the Year of St. Joseph as well as liturgies and activities during the renewal period.

The bishop issued his Pastoral Exhortation on Ash Wednesday urging the people of the diocese to move forward in faith and evangelization. In the letter, he provides the framework that will make it possible by designating  Centers of Mercy and Centers of Eucharistic Adoration throughout the diocese.  He also calls for the commissioning of lay “Ambassadors” to go out into the community later in the year to share their faith and invite others back to the Church. The ambassador training is now underway in the diocese and the new website will feature many of their stories.

To visit the “Call to Renewal” website: https://www.bridgeportdiocese.org/call-to-renewal/welcome/, or click “A Call to Renewal” at the top of our Homepage.