FAIRFIELD—Sacred Heart University graduate Eric Patrick Cameron ’23 is already making a name for himself in the film industry.

A month before Cameron earned his degree at SHU’s May 14 commencement exercises, he premiered his documentary, The Space Western of the Southwest, a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

He started the documentary during his junior year while he studied abroad at SHU’s campus in Dingle, Ireland and completed the editing process throughout his senior year. He premiered the film in April at the Féile na Bealtaine, which has been described as Dingle’s largest arts festival.

“Being able to not only premiere this movie in front of an audience, but to do it in Dingle, was amazing. Going back to Dingle was the best experience ever,” said Cameron.

The Space Western of the Southwest documents the making of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which was filmed in Dingle. It features testimonies from residents about witnessing the production and from the crew about their experiences in town. The film also includes an exclusive interview with The Last Jedi director, Rian Johnson, a two-time Academy Award-nominated writer.

“I would say a huge challenge was getting Rian Johnson in the movie. He’s at the height of his career right now. He’s grown to be one of the biggest names in directing,” Cameron said.

Cameron, who majored in media arts with a concentration in film and television, has been a Star Wars superfan and self-proclaimed film buff throughout his life. When he was considering which college to attend, SHU’s overseas learning opportunities especially appealed to him. “The reason I chose Sacred Heart was because of the study-abroad program, and that gave me the best experience of my life,” he said. “It was my first time outside of the states, so it was my first time experiencing another culture. It sparked a new love for not just traveling, but world traveling.”

Fellow grad provides original music

The Space Western of the Southwest features an original score by another recent SHU graduate, Paul Richard Keegan ’23, who double-majored in media arts with a concentration in film and television, and theatre arts with a concentration in acting.

Keegan praised the University for supporting him and Cameron throughout the filming process. “I think it speaks to how supportive so much of the faculty at SHU is,” he said. “Everyone just kind of rallied behind Cameron and supported him and said, ‘You want to make this movie? OK, do it. We’ll help you how ever we can.’ I think so many faculty members here, especially in the media department, really care about everyone.”

He believes the faculty’s go-for-it attitude pushes students to explore their creative talents. “It promotes students to want to try projects like this, and it helps make success possible because people have your back,” Keegan said.

Cameron credits SHU for connecting him with Keegan. “Sacred Heart gave me this incredible collaboration with Paul that I would not have had otherwise. I think it’s a collaboration that’s going to last a lifetime. As long as I get to keep making movies, I hope he gets to keep making the music,” said Cameron.

Both Cameron and Keegan have exciting plans for the future. “Every movie you make, you make in order to make the next one. So, I’m hoping that the year-and-a-half I worked on this leads me to the next movie,” said Cameron.

Cameron will attend New York University’s cinema studies graduate program where he will continue making films. He also welcomes the opportunity to return to Ireland, noting his “deep love for the country and its history.”

Keegan will continue his work with music and composition. “I want to keep writing and keep scoring music. It’s just what I absolutely love to do,” he said.

trailer for The Space Western of the Southwest can be viewed on Cameron’s website.

FAIRFIELD—A grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of Fairfield University’s new Austin, Texas campus was held at the new facility located at 7951 Shoal Creek Blvd. The event introduced the new campus to the local community, including Texas-based Fairfield University alumni, and community partners, who toured the 21-bed simulation center, and simulated rooms for ICU, obstetrics, pediatrics, and med-surg, an operating room, home care suites and skill labs.

The expansion of Fairfield University and the Egan School of Nursing & Health Studies to Texas establishes an additional nursing pathway through Fairfield University, and addresses the needs of the national healthcare system. Fairfield’s Austin campus initial program offering will feature Fairfield Egan’s full-time, 15-month accelerated second-degree baccalaureate nursing (SDNU) program, which provides a unique opportunity for students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree to pursue a bachelor of science in nursing degree in an accelerated format. Employment opportunities for nurses in the next decade are projected to grow 15 percent, faster than all other occupations.

The ribbon cutting featured speakers were Fairfield University President Mark R. Nemec, PhD; Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing & Health Studies Dean Meredith Kazer, PhD, APRN, FAAN; Alumni Chaplain and Special Assistant to the President Father Gerald Blaszczak, S.J.; Austin Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President of Economic Development Charisse Bodisch; and Ascension Texas Chief Nursing Officer and Regional Hospital President Steven Brockman-Weber, DNP, RN, MS (HSA), FACHE, NEA-BC, CENP.

Father Blaszczak offered the invocation and cited a reflection by Pope Francis on the crucial and indispensable role of nurses as today’s Good Samaritans.

President Nemec shared that as a 21st century, modern Jesuit, Catholic university, Fairfield “seeks to be a model for others…to find broader student populations in ever more innovative ways” and “to seek those populations where the need is great, and the population is growing.”

Inspired by a mission to carry forward the work of the Society of Jesus, Fairfield was animated “to come to a region where there is not a Jesuit Catholic work of higher education,” explained President Nemec. “Fairfield is bringing to this community a first-class clinical education. One that brings health professionals to the highest standards of inquiry and knowledge—but it also brings with it a Jesuit way of proceeding.”

“As a mission-driven University, we knew the world needed nurses, we knew the world needed Fairfield nurses and we could impact healthcare beyond our northeast regional influence,” said Dean Kazer, referring to the University’s decision to lead its geographic expansion efforts with nursing. She expressed gratitude for the collaboration among clinical partners, the board of nursing, real estate professionals, architects, builders, program directors, faculty, staff and students. “Because of you, Texas is our new home.”

Charisse Bodisch of the Austin Chamber of Commerce welcomed Fairfield to Austin, and highlighted the critical need for nurses in the Austin metro region. “What you are doing with the Egan School of Nursing & Health Studies is very important to our entire region, our residents and our companies…We need more entering these fields and the work and education you do here will have meaningful impact.” Bodisch shared that in the Austin metro region there are currently 82,300 total workers in healthcare occupations, and 51, 300 are employed as healthcare practitioners or in technical healthcare occupations. Another 31,000 are in healthcare support occupations. “We anticipate the annual growth in healthcare will continue. Projections over the next 5 years are 2.8% healthcare practitioners and technical occupations and 3.3% healthcare support occupations—faster than the 2.5% growth in jobs overall.”

A warm welcome by Dr. Brockman-Weber was extended on behalf of Ascension Seton, one of Fairfield Egan’s clinical partners. “We look forward to working with the faculty and staff to provide excellent clinical experiences in our world-class hospitals and clinics as we grow the next generation of nurses to care for the people of Austin and surrounding cities.”

The nursing curriculum at the Austin, Texas-based facility builds on the University’s successful Fairfield, Conn. baccalaureate offerings. The first cohort of students were admitted in May 2023, with a second cohort to begin in January 2024.

In addition to Ascension Seton, Fairfield Egan’s clinical partnerships include Baylor Scott & White Health, and Central Texas Veterans Health Care Systems.

At the completion of this program, students are eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) to become registered nurses. The SDNU program has been in existence at Fairfield Egan for more than two decades and is fully accredited by Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Among many national distinctions, U.S. News & World Report recently ranked Fairfield’s Egan School of Nursing & Health Studies among the Best Undergraduate Nursing Programs. The Egan School was ranked in the top 11 percent nationally at #76 (tied) out of almost 700 schools. It was also ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s 2023-2024 Best Graduate Schools among the Best Nursing Schools that offer Master’s degrees (tied at #73) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees (tied at #74). According to Niche’s 2023 Best Colleges for Nursing in America, the Egan School was ranked #29 out of 762, in the Top 5%.

The Sustainable Fairfield Taskforce is reaching out to Fairfield residents, including the elderly and those on fixed incomes, to help them save money while cooling and heating their homes.

The Inflation Reduction Act offers huge incentives to make homes more energy efficient and help residents save on electricity and heating bills.  The first step is to get a home energy audit by going to and signing up.

Both renters and homeowners are eligible and most people can save hundreds of dollars. The Sustainable Fairfield task Force would love to come to talk to your parish to introduce this program and the Tax incentives and rebates available.

Contact for more information.

Editor’s note: The following article was written by Joan Frawley Desmond and was published online by the National Catholic Register on June 1, 2023.

BRIDGEPORT — Back in 2015, when Father Philip Bochanski joined the staff of Courage International, the Catholic apostolate that helps persons with same-sex attraction live in accordance with Church teaching, the U.S. Supreme Court had just legalized same-sex unions, and he feared the ministry would stall as America embraced a new normal.

“Everything seemed settled in the public mind, and I thought, ‘We probably won’t be expanding,’” Father Bochanski recalled during an interview with the Register.

Instead, the high court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges propelled an unexpected increase in the opening of new Courage chapters across the United States.

Bishops who had remained on the fence during the nation’s contentious debate over “marriage equality” now saw the urgent need for an apostolate that placed the Church’s vision of human sexuality at the heart of its pastoral outreach to Catholics seeking to reconcile their personal struggles with their faith.

The rapid expansion of Courage chapters in the U.S. was the first, but not the only, twist in Father Bochanski’s eight-year tenure, which will come to a close on June 3, when he will leave the Trumbull, Connecticut-based apostolate and return to Philadelphia, where he will take up new duties as the vicar general of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

While serving as the ministry’s executive director for the past six years, Father Bochanski also faced new challenges, from a pandemic lockdown that suspended vital face-to-face chapter meetings to a fast-moving campaign to change Catholic teaching on homosexuality, led by Church leaders in Europe.

The lockdown paved the way for remote video-facilitated chapter meetings, now a permanent option for some members, and the push to upend Catholic teaching prompted Father Bochanski to pen an 2022 “open letter” urging the Church leaders to halt their efforts.

Primary Focus

But Father Bochanski has maintained a laser-like focus on the apostolate’s primary responsibility: serving the spiritual and pastoral needs of his same-sex-attracted flock and bringing this vital ministry’s message of hope and healing to more dioceses, both in the U.S. and beyond.

“We have always made an effort, as an apostolate, to avoid political activism of any sort because it is a distraction from our primary pastoral work,” he said. “We are here to walk with those we are striving to serve through one-on-one, face-to-face conversations and small groups.”

That approach has paid off. In 2017, Courage sponsored 247 U.S. chapters, and by 2023, that number had surged to 340, with 236 priests serving as chaplains. EnCourage, a companion ministry for the family and friends of persons experiencing same-sex attraction, has also made similar progress, along with a steady increase in Spanish-language groups and online resources.

Likewise, Father Bochanski devoted significant time and resources to securing a strong beachhead in Latin America, which now has 36 Spanish-language and nine Portuguese-language chapters and 35 chaplains.

The website for Courage is available in English, Spanish and Italian, and a revised handbook for the ministry is also posted online, providing a “deeper understanding of the spirituality, practices and beliefs that lay at the heart of this apostolate.”

“A lot of the success Courage has experienced is due to Father Bochanski’s leadership,” Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, the chairman of Courage’s seven-member episcopal board, told the Register, while noting the urgent need to identify a suitable successor.

“He is extraordinarily intelligent, very well-spoken, and when he gives a presentation, he is able to address complex issues and thoughts in a way that invites someone to walk with him and reflect afterward,” the bishop said.

“He is a faithful priest,” Bishop Caggiano added. “Just look at the number of seminarians and priests who have him as their spiritual director. People gravitate toward priests who, as they say in Brooklyn, are ‘the real deal.’”

Courage chaplains echoed this assessment, while highlighting additional areas of strength.

“Father Bochanski is leaving the ministry with a strong network and a firm foundation,” Father Kyle Schnippel, a Dayton, Ohio-based Courage chaplain, told the Register. “He has built up financial support and an international presence.”

Father Schnippel, the chairman of the board of directors of Courage, will serve as acting executive director until a successor to Father Bochanski is appointed.

Philadelphia Native

A Philadelphia native, Father Bochanski first began working with Courage in 2009, a decade after his ordination as a priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and about three decades after New York Cardinal Terence Cooke established the first chapter of Courage in 1980.

Courage offers weekly or monthly confidential chapter meetings that include the sacrament of confession, recitation of the Rosary and the reading aloud of memberships’ five goals: chastity; prayer and dedication; fellowship; support; and being good examples/role models.

An annual conference, with in-person and virtual participation, draws about 330 people. A separate Spanish-language conference is simultaneously available via Zoom with members from the U.S., Latin America and Spain participating.

Father Bochanski views his early involvement in Courage as the “best decision” of his priesthood, aside from entering the seminary. More than anything else, he said he has been deeply moved by the members’ hunger for a true spiritual father.

“My father passed away in March, and before he died, I thanked him for being a good role model,” said Father Bochanski.

He said his father replied, “The older you get, the more you see how much you learned from your own children about being a father.”

And his son, in turn, has also learned from the Catholic men and women who share their stories and pose deep questions about their identity and earthly mission as a child of God.

“It is a real privilege to speak to those questions, affirm a person, and help them see, through my eyes, what they may not appreciate in themselves,” said the priest. “St. John Bosco said, ‘It is not enough for us to love the children; they must know they are loved.’”

As a result, the most important lesson he has learned from this ministry “is the ability to tell someone I loved them because it is true and not worry about whether I feel uncomfortable.”

Papal Recognition

In 2019, in recognition of his important work at Courage, Pope Francis awarded Father Bochanski the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal recognizing exceptional service to the Church.

Father Bochanski also serves as a consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. He is the author of six books on a variety of religious topics, including, most recently, Wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers: Ancient Advice for the Modern World.

Members of Courage acknowledged the spiritual fruits of Father Bochanski’s ministry in interviews with the Register.

“He never disregards the severity of the problem or the immorality of acting out, but he starts with a spirit of encouragement,” John, a Courage member in the Midwest who did not want to use his name for reasons of privacy, told the Register. “I never feel like I am being ‘fixed’ by him. I feel I am being loved back to life.”

Joe L., another member of Courage on the East Coast, described Father Bochanski as a priest with a “commanding presence” and a “calming tone of voice.”

“He is a tall, stocky man, but he is not threatening in his demeanor,” he said. “He is always a priest, not some guy doing his job.”

Joe noted that Courage members “are at all different levels of their journey: Some, like myself, were fully integrated in the gay community; others only had it in their mind, and no one knew about it; and still others were married and sometimes acted out.” But whatever the member’s personal experience, Father Bochanski is very adept at meeting them where they are, said Joe, who added, “He is approachable and sincere.”

Both John and Joe said that they valued Father Bochanski and the ministry’s commitment to Christian sexual ethics, even as some pastors have become uncomfortable with the Church’s teaching on chastity.

During confession with a local pastor, Joe shared his spiritual struggles and was encouraged to establish a monogamous relationship with a male partner. “That’s what Christ wants for you,” Joe said the priest told him, insisting that this was the case, even after Joe told him the Church did not endorse this guidance.

Now, as a stepped-up effort to change Church teaching on homosexuality draws headlines across the globe, Courage members worry that the controversy could derail the progress Catholics like them have made as they deepen their relationship with the Lord, exercise the virtue of chastity, and form healthy friendships.

Father Bochanski expressed similar concerns in his April 2022 open letter to German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany, and Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, the relator general of the worldwide Synod on Synodality. The letter opposed their call for a change to Church teaching on homosexuality and warned that it could raise “false hopes.”

Countercultural Witness

The letter spotlighted the countercultural witness of Courage’s community of chaplains and laypeople who are often ignored or misrepresented in a world that views sexual rights as a source of liberation and Church teaching as a vector of stigmatization.

Apart from all the chatter in “the political arena, social media or contemporary culture, the Church cares deeply for those who have same-sex attraction and wants them to be welcomed,” said Bishop Caggiano. “But the Church also asks them to live a chaste life in fidelity to what Christ has asked of us. That is why Courage’s ministry of accompaniment and formation is timely and important.”

He said he was not surprised that the apostolate had opened almost 100 new chapters amid the culture’s seismic shift on issues like same-sex unions and transgender rights, noting that “it has always been true that the Church is at its best when it is under attack.”

That said, Bishop Caggiano expressed frustration that the apostolate was not better known across the Church.

A lack of information and “misinformation” were partly to blame for the problem. But he also agreed that the growing number of activist groups promoting new models of pastoral accompaniment for “LGBT” Catholics made it tough for the faithful to hear and appreciate Courage’s distinctive message.

Father Martin’s Perspectives

Perhaps the most striking example of this problem is the fact that Jesuit Father James Martin’s influential 2017 book, Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity, did not even mention Courage or the experience of its members. Yet Father Martin was invited to address the 2018 World Meeting of Families in Ireland, where he discussed “best practices from parishes that have successfully reached out to the L.G.B.T. Catholic community.”

During an email exchange with the Register, Father Martin said he regretted the decision to exclude Courage and the experiences of its members from his book.

“If I were to write the book today, I would speak more about LGBTQ Catholics who follow Church teachings on celibacy,” said Father Martin. “At the time, though, the vast majority of LGBTQ people I knew were not living celibately. And that is still the case today.”

Father Martin also expressed deep respect for Father Bochanski, noting that the priest served as a panelist at the 2022 “Outreach LGBTQ” Catholic ministry conference he had helped to organize at Fordham University.

As a panelist, Father Bochanski “set forth the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and entered into dialogue with some top-notch Catholic theologians,” Father Martin said, and “everyone came away with gratitude for his presence.”

Father Bochanski’s presence at the conference signaled his eagerness to meet people where they are, in order to help them understand that the Church does not seek to destroy their chances for happiness, but to invite them into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ, through the crucible of the cross.

At the same time, he has been very cautious about addressing the deeply politicized gender-identity revolution and the relatively new phenomenon of young Catholics struggling with gender dysphoria and feeling trapped in the wrong body.

‘Building Connections’

This issue is very different from “the experience of same-sex attraction, so we have wanted to proceed very carefully,” he said. “Thus far, Courage has focused on building connections with those who are more expert on the transgender question,” while some EnCourage chapters have opened meetings to parents who need support as their children deal with gender-identity issues.

Looking ahead, Father Bochanski prays that the lessons he has learned at Courage, and the insights he has gleaned during his travels around the U.S., will bear fruit as he begins his new role as vicar general and moderator of the curia in Philadelphia.

He also believes that his trips to university campuses have provided vital feedback that will help guide the local Church’s outreach to young Catholics, many of whom are leaving the Church in droves and often single out Catholic teaching on homosexuality as a major sticking point.

“I have encountered a number of young people who are not angry at the Church, but they are angry at what they think the Church has to say about same-sex attraction or gender identity,” he said.

The key, he concluded, is to begin by carving out a “middle ground.” After that has been accomplished, “you can show how it is possible for them to keep the faith and also appreciate and honor the people they love.”

Great strides have been made in the digital age, but one of the pressing issues yet to be addressed is how we, as individuals and as an ecclesial community, are to live in the digital world as “loving neighbours” who are genuinely present and attentive to each other on our common journey along the “digital highways”.

An Open Letter to Connecticut State Leaders: Let’s Stand Together for Our Most Vulnerable

Dear State Leaders and Residents of Connecticut,

We write to you today on behalf of the three Catholic Charities agencies in Connecticut — each
a lifeline that people, communities, and organizations turn to when there is no other place to go.

We humbly serve people from all faiths and backgrounds to create a sense of hope that
empowers them to not only survive but also thrive and become a positive force in their

But our work comes with a significant cost to cover facilities, programs, infrastructure, and the
dedicated employees who work every day to fulfill our mission. And we have seen the cost of
caring for people steadily increase in recent years, pushing us toward budget deficits that
threaten our ability to continue.

While we are grateful for any increase in funding from the state, a recent proposition by
legislators for a 3 percent increase is still significantly below what is necessary to maintain our
current service levels. The Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance has said agencies like
ours require at least a 9 percent increase.

We ask you to consider the vulnerable people who depend on us and their fate if we are forced
to cut back on services. These include infants in our Early Head Start programs, children
preparing for their school years, teenagers seeking refuge and educational support, young
parents in need of basic necessities and job training, adults with developmental or intellectual
disabilities, individuals battling mental illnesses, and senior citizens who seek daily social

These are the people who will suffer most if we eliminate services due to lack of funding. We
implore you to not let them down, especially at a time when the state has a projected surplus,
and allocate increased funding to nonprofit agencies.

Thank you for your consideration and understanding. We are looking forward to your support in
this critical matter.

Jack Babbitt, Interim Chief Operating Officer, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Norwich Inc.
Michael Donoghue, Executive Director, Catholic Charities of Fairfield County
Marek Kukulka, CEO, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Hartford

BRIDGEPORT—Developer Bob Scinto hosts the “Let Me Be Your Landlord” podcast, and he spoke at length about his Catholic faith and support of the Diocese of Bridgeport in its third episode, “Faith and Belief.” Listen to the podcast episode on YouTube and Apple Podcasts.

GREENWICH—Impact Fairfield County will present a check representing a $100,000 grant to the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport this Monday, May 22, at 9 am. All are invited to attend.

Impact Fairfield County was founded in 2015 by Wendy Block and Vicki Craver and is based on the Impact 100 model of collective giving. The goal was to gather at least 100 women in the area to pool their contributions to make significant philanthropic investments in local non-profits.

Since their initial grant year in 2016, they have provided nearly $1.6 million in grant funding to local exceptional non-profits, including twelve $100,000 Impact FFC Grants and significant general operating support.