Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

Father David Santos, 41, pastor of St. James the Apostle Catholic Church in Springfield, New Jersey, remembers that he was on retreat with a young-adult group when the priest in confession, Father Antonio Biko, asked him, “What do you want to do with your life?”

“This was right after 9/11,” Father Santos recalled to the Register. “I said, ‘I want to be a soldier of Christ.’ I was growing in my relationship with the Church and my love of the Lord. I also felt this call to serve in the military. So that’s what I came up with — a soldier of Christ. And he looked at me and he said, ‘That sounds like a priest.’ And I said, ‘No, I don’t think so.’ I was certainly open to the possibility, but it wasn’t something that I, at that point, really thought.”

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis formally recognized a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Carlo Acutis, a 15-year-old Italian teenager whose birth in 1991 will make him the first “millennial” to become a saint.

In a meeting May 23 with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Dicastery for Saints’ Causes, the pope signed decrees advancing the sainthood causes of Blessed Acutis, as well as one woman, and six men.

The Vatican announced May 23 that the pope had signed the decrees and that he would convene a consistory to set a date for the canonization of Acutis and other future saints: Blesseds Giuseppe Allamano; Marie-Léonie Paradis of Québec, Canada; Elena Guerra; and eight Franciscan friars and three Maronite laymen who were martyred in Damascus, Syria, in 1860.

Blessed Acutis was born and baptized in London to Italian parents in 1991, but the family moved back to Milan, Italy, while he was still an infant.

After he started high school, he began to curate, create or design websites, including one for a local parish, for his Jesuit-run high school and for the Pontifical Academy “Cultorum Martyrum,” according to the saints’ dicastery. He also used his computer skills to create an online database of Eucharistic miracles around the world.

He volunteered at a church-run soup kitchen, helped the poor in his neighborhood, assisted children struggling with their homework, played saxophone, soccer and videogames, and loved making videos with his dogs and cats, according to carloacutis.com, the website dedicated to his cause for canonization.

“To always be close to Jesus, that’s my life plan,” he wrote when he was 7 years old.

He was devoted to Our Lady, praying the rosary every day, and to the Eucharist.

“The Eucarist is the highway to heaven,” he wrote. When people sit in the sun, they become tan, “but when they sit before Eucharistic Jesus, they become saints.”

When he was only 15, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia and died Oct. 12, 2006. He had said, “I’m happy to die because I’ve lived my life without wasting even a minute of it doing things that wouldn’t have pleased God,” according to carloacutis.com.

His mortal remains were moved to the municipal cemetery in Assisi in 2007 to fulfill his wish to be in the city of St. Francis. Then his remains were moved to the Shrine of the Renunciation at the Church of St. Mary Major in Assisi in 2019. He was buried wearing Nike sneakers, black jeans and an athletic warmup jacket — clothes he was used to wearing every day.

In February 2020, the pope formally recognized a miracle attributed to Acutis’ intercession and in October that year, the teen was beatified during a Mass at the Basilica of St. Francis. An estimated 117,000 pilgrims visited the teen’s tomb in just the first year after his beatification, the Diocese of Assisi said the day before his feast day, Oct. 12, 2021.

The two miracles attributed to the intercession of the teen involved alleged miraculous recoveries for a young boy in Brazil in 2013 and a young woman in Florence in 2022.

The miracle Pope Francis recognized May 23 that paves the way for the blessed’s canonization involved a young woman who was born in Costa Rica in 2001 and moved to Florence in 2018 to study.

The woman fell from her bicycle at 4 a.m. July 2, 2022, and suffered a serious head injury, according to the dicastery website. Even after emergency surgery removing part of her skull to reduce severe intracranial pressure, doctors warned her family she could die at any moment.

An associate of the young woman’s mother began praying to Blessed Acutis the same day, and the mother went to Assisi and prayed at the blessed’s tomb July 8 — the same day the young woman began to breathe on her own again. She slowly recovered basic mobility and a CT scan showed the hemorrhage was gone. After a period of rehabilitation therapy and a complete recovery, she and her mother visited his tomb Sept. 2.

Pope Francis has urged young people to learn about Blessed Acutis, who “did a great deal of good things,” despite his short life.

“Above all, he was impassioned by Jesus; and since he was very good at getting around on the internet, he used it in the service of the Gospel, spreading love for prayer, the witness of faith and charity toward others,” the pope told young Italians Jan. 29.

“Prayer, witness and charity” were the hallmarks of Blessed Acutis’ life and should be a key part of the life of every Christian, he said.

DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME; OPENING RECEPTION AT THE BLESSED MICHAEL MCGIVNEY PILGRIMAGE CENTER
May 31, 2024
with guest speaker, Fr. Chris Alar
Program Price: $50 (includes hor d’oeuvres and cash bar)

Join us on May 31, from 5 PM to 8 PM, for the opening reception of the exhibit Do This In Memory Of Me, a stunning art exhibit over a year in the making with over 300 artists submitting more than 650 of their finest art pieces. One hundred and nine of these works of art have been chosen for this prestigious Sacred Art Exhibit in the Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center, which will run through August 25, 2024.

Sign up now at DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME or call 860.536.0565 x0
ST. EDMUND’S RETREAT
1 ENDERS ISLAND, MYSTIC CT. 06355

DANBURY – The Knights of Columbus McGivney Council #29 will be hosting a blood drive on Friday, May 31 from 12 to 5 pm.

The blood drive, hosted in collaboration with the American Red Cross, will be held in the St. Joseph Parish Hall at 376 Main Street in Danbury.

To make an appointment, please call 800.RED.CROSS or visit www.RedCrossBlood.org and enter “KOC”.

Join the Knights in answering the call to help others – give blood!

Good morning. President Nemec, Ms. Davidson, members of the board of trustees, deans, administrators, faculty, parents, friends, and most especially fellow graduates of the class of 2024. I stand before you with great gratitude for receiving this honorary degree.

I’m humbled by receiving such an important recognition. I’m honored to be counted among you as a graduate of this year and quite frankly, after 43 years of completing my collegiate studies, I guess it was time for me to graduate as well.

My fellow graduates, we gather here this morning to celebrate your many accomplishments with great joy having achieved them during this four year adventure as part of the Fairfield University family. Each of you have accomplished much and all of us here are deeply proud of you. You have unlocked your God-given gifts and talents, discovered the beautiful truths that govern our creation and those truths that are transcendent that give meaning to human life.

Many of you have achieved distinctions in so many different areas of study and you have each and every one of you completed a rigorous course of study. You are well prepared for whatever you have chosen as the next stage of your life. We all here salute your achievements. We are proud of the young people you have become and all of us wish you God’s blessings as you take the next step into your life. Let’s give them a big round of applause in recognition.

My friends, but you have also had the singular blessing to be in this remarkable university that founded is founded animates lives bleeds the Jesuit motto, maam de ‘to the greater glory of God’. For the very foundation of this place and all that it aspires in its mission and work is to give greater glory to God through you and me.

For God is the author of every human life. He’s the giver of every blessing. He’s the one who invites us to seek a life of purpose and service to our neighbor. You, my fellow graduates, in a few hours will be stepping off this campus and you will be begin to enter a world in a whole new way, challenged in many ways, you know those challenges as well as I. Unbridled technological change, growing political, social and communal division, a growing lack of tolerance and the deepening gap between those who are privileged and those who live in the shadows of society. You like me, are called to be leaders in that world and to face those challenges. Accepting the burden and mantle of leadership has never been easy. It is not easy now.

And yet my young graduates, all of you can leave this place with graced confidence that you have every tool at your disposal to embrace your own future and to lead our community and our nation to ever greater greatness.

But allow me to ask you a question. I ask it of you who are graduates. I ask it of all of us who are gathered here. What type of leader will you choose to become? What type of leadership do you aspire to embrace? May seem like a strange question to ask, and yet even a perfunctory look at modern history shows that many have answered that question in very different ways, some with dire consequences for those around them.

Many years ago I stumbled on a description of leadership that allow me the liberty to share with you today the author of the article ‘Described Leadership’. In this way, leadership is the ability to inspire willing change in others. You see, I find that intriguing, intriguing because no one can inspire others to change unless she or he is willing to change.

First, to admit that to be a leader among men and women to accept that as our mandate and responsibility begins deep within the fabric of my life and yours. It begins with a commitment to recognize that you and I do not have all the answers and that we need to aspire ever to change in greater excellence and integrity that you and I must always remember. We are projects that are unfinished and so a truly transformational leader in whatever walk of life God has asked you to walk is one who will continue to grow in self-knowledge and self-reflection, to never be afraid to admit my faults and you admit your faults and limitations to seek ever greater wisdom, which is a lifetime project. It is for you and I always to strive for greater courage of heart, to embrace the truth, who for those of us who are disciples of the Lord we know is a living person who is Jesus the Lord, and to stand for what we believe and to ever know that more deeply in the journey of life it is to be more humble before God and to accept the blessings He gives us.

See, Saint Ignatius speaks of setting the world on fire, but my dear friends, that fire begins deep within you and me. It’s a passion, a burning desire for each of us to seek greater excellence, more authentic integrity to challenge the accepted beliefs of modern society. For there are some who are whispering and perhaps now even no longer whispering, saying to us that the order in which we live is broken, that perhaps the best years of our country, nation community, perhaps they’re behind us, that the status quo cannot be healed.

And yet we gather here to say with a clarion call to our country, to our community, to our Church, that that is not the case. That our horizon, each of our human horizons is not shackled to the status quo, but each of us, all of us have dignity, creativity, and a future that is given to us by God, our Heavenly Father. We are called to be the architects of hope and transformation and you, my fellow graduates have all those tools at your grasp.

When I was your age in prehistoric times, I heard this challenge and I would be a liar if I said to you, I fully understood it. Now that I stand before you with a degree in one hand and my Medicare card in the other hand, now I can honestly say that I do.

Today is a time of great celebration and joy richly deserved by each and every one of you, my fellow graduates, but it’s also a time for you and the quiet of your heart to accept the calling God has given you to accept the mantle of transformational leadership and wherever God leads you to be able to bring hope and change to the people entrusted to your care and a world that is looking for a better way.

Allow me to conclude. Allow me to give you advice because I guess I am the oldest graduate here. A transformational leader never uses another person as a means to an end, never considers the success of his or her life as the measure of material wealth, is a person that never forgets that the measure of a person’s heart is always the principles by which he or she can live, and as a person that never sees a challenge as a roadblock, but as an opportunity for true and lasting change, a transformational leadership is a missionary of hope. So my fellow graduates, as you accept your diplomas today with pride and gratitude and step into the world as our newest leaders go out with pride, confidence, and hope, and together let us renew the face of the earth. Congratulations, my friends and you go with my prayers each and every one of you. God bless you all.

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, April 8, 2024 – Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and its local partners are expanding efforts to provide life-saving humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. CRS has served more than 750,000 people since the conflict began in early October 2023, with shelter and hygiene supplies, cash and food parcels.

CRS has set up operational hubs in Rafah and Deir al Balah, including distribution points, offices, warehouses and guesthouses, as well as a distribution point in Khan Younis. CRS’ scale-up plan includes setting up additional distribution points throughout the southern half of Gaza. CRS is collaborating with local partners in Gaza City and North Gaza to prepare for safe distributions as soon as aid can reach these areas.

“None of this would be possible without the incredible work of our Gazan staff,” Jason Knapp, country representative for CRS in Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza said. “Most of them are displaced, many of them multiple times. They have lost homes and family members. Yet they continue to work every day to serve those in need. I am humbled and inspired by these colleagues.”

In the last six months in Gaza, CRS has distributed cash, bedding supplies, tarps, tents, hygiene kits and food parcels in partnership with the World Food Programme, reaching hundreds of thousands of people. CRS is also supporting families who have sought refuge in several churches with cash and food.

“The situation in the north is especially dire – much more assistance is needed on a consistent basis,” Knapp said. “We prioritize people living in the most vulnerable situations, so our goal is to begin serving people living in the north as soon as possible.”

Still, more aid is necessary to meet the needs of the 2.3 million people living in Gaza. About 75% of people are displaced, and according to the most recent Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis released on March 18, the entire population of the Gaza Strip is at a crisis level of food insecurity.

“People are skipping meals, and in some cases going days without eating,” Knapp said. “This is preventable, and it is inhumane to deprive people of food, water and medical care.”

“The people of Gaza are not defined solely by their challenges,” Nesma Naseem, CRS’ shelter field officer in Gaza said. “They are resilient individuals with dreams, aspirations, and the capacity to rebuild their lives. Continued assistance and solidarity can make a meaningful difference in their journey toward recovery. We hope this bad dream will end soon, and we can rebuild our souls and our lives again.”

CRS again calls for an immediate end to the violence, greater humanitarian access to ensure innocent civilians can access food, shelter, and medical attention, protection for humanitarians and innocent civilians and the immediate release of all hostages and others unjustly detained.

As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reiterated on March 23, “As the Holy Father recently said, ‘One cannot move forward in war. We must make every effort to negotiate, to negotiate, to end the war.’ To move forward, a cease fire and a permanent cessation of war and violence is absolutely necessary. To move forward, those held hostage must be released and civilians must be protected. To move forward, humanitarian aid must reach those who are in such dire need.”

CRS works by leveraging longstanding partnerships across the region. In Lebanon, CRS supports its partner Caritas Lebanon to provide aid in southern Lebanon, where there has been fighting. CRS also works closely with the government of Egypt and in Jordan along with its partner, Caritas Jordan, and in collaboration with the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization (JHCO), to coordinate the procurement and delivery of aid supplies into Gaza.

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Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, visit www.crs.org or www.crsespanol.org and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media in English at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube; and in Spanish at: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

MESSAGE FROM OUR LEADERSHIP

Dear Fellow Serrans and Followers,

On March 31st we celebrated the miraculous resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. During the month of April, we began the Easter season which will take us up to Pentecost Sunday on May 19th. In the meantime, the month of May is the month of our Blessed Mother, Mary.

For centuries, the Catholic Church has set aside the entire month of Mary to honor Mary, the Mother of God. Not just a day in May, mind you, but the entire month. The custom spans both centuries and cultures, with roots going back as far as the Ancient Greeks. In early Greece, May was dedicated to Artemis, the goddess of fecundity (fertility).

In Ancient Rome, May was dedicated to Flora, the goddess of blooms, or blossoms. They celebrated ludi florals, or floral games, at the end of April and asked the intercession of Flora for all that blooms. In medieval times, similar customs abounded, all centering around the practice of expelling winter, as May 1 was considered the start of new growth.1

How fitting, therefore, that May should be the month in which we celebrate Mary.

In 1965, Pope Paul VI wrote a magnificent encyclical on the month of May. In his writing, he described how the faithful will reserve this month to honor Mary in a special way:

“For this is the month during which Christians, in their churches and their homes, offer the Virgin Mother more fervent and loving acts of homage and veneration; and it is the month in which a greater abundance of God’s merciful gifts comes down to us from our Mother’s throne.”

Pope Paul VI went on to say that May is an opportune time to let our petitions “fly” to Our Lady—especially for the needs of the Church and the whole human race—that most urgently require our Blessed Mother’s intercession…including our prayers for an increase in Catholic vocations!

What would you add to this list of ways to celebrate the Month of Mary? Please give that some thought.

May the Lord be with you.

Thom Field, President
St. Serra Vocations Ministry of Bridgeport
1 Marge Fenelon, May 1, 2020