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Open Meeting for Sexual Abuse Survivors

A gathering on Tuesday, March 6 (6:30 pm – 8:00 pm) will be held at The Newman Center, #7 Eighth Ave, Danbury, CT 06810 (get directions) for any person who has been sexually abused as a minor to meet with the victim assistance coordinators and fellow survivors of sexual abuse.

We hope to hear from you; your input is important to us.

If you are an adult survivor of abuse as a minor, and you would like to learn more about the resources available within the Diocese of Bridgeport, including the Annual Mass for Survivors of Sexual Abuse and upcoming support meetings, please join us on Tuesday March 6, 2018, or contact one of our Victim Assistance Coordinators:

Erin Neil, L.C.S.W., 203-650-3265,

Michael Tintrup, L.C.S.W., 203-241-0987,

Pope marries couple on flight

CHILE (CNS)—Aboard the Papal flight to Iquique, Chile, love was literally in the air as Pope Francis performed an impromptu wedding ceremony at 36,000 feet aboard his flight.

During his flight to Iquique January 18, the pope was approached by LatAm flight steward Carlos Ciuffardi Elorriaga and asked for a blessing for him and his wife, stewardess Paula Podest Ruiz.

The couple were supposed to be married in their home parish in Santiago February 27, 2010. However, tragedy struck when an earthquake destroyed the church. Eight years later, they remained only civilly married.

Ciuffardi told journalists aboard the flight that, after he explained their story, he asked the pope for their blessing. At that moment, the pope surprised the couple with offering to marry them right there on the plane.

Ciuffardi said he asked his boss and owner of LatAm airline, Ignacio Cueto, to be his best man.

The pope was on his way from Santiago, Chile, to Iquique before heading to Peru later in the day.

By Junno Arocho Esteves   I   Catholic News Service
Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju


Poll: Americans Favor Abortion Limits

More Than 3 In 4 Americans Have Consistently Supported Substantial Restrictions For a Decade

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – More than three quarters of Americans would limit abortion to — at most — the first three months of pregnancy, according to a new Marist Poll. That number has consistently been about three quarters or more for the past decade.

Deanery G Priests Put Faith in Action

STAMFORD—Msgr. Walter Orlowski, Pastor of St. Matthew Church and leader of Deanery G, joined ten other priests from the Diocese of Bridgeport’s Deanery G, Mary, Mother of Divine Grace, in service at New Covenant Center, Stamford.

They prepared and served a full meal to 67 guests, sorted and stocked vegetables and produce in the food pantry, and assisted 40 guests who were shopping in the pantry.

Knights of Columbus Star Awards

The Knights of Columbus Council # 16347 of St. Pius X Parish in Fairfield has been presented with the prestig-ious Star Council Award. This is the highest recognition earned when a Knights of Columbus council qualifies for the Father McGivney, Columbian, and Founders’ Awards within a year period. During the fraternal year starting July 1 of 2016, and ending June 30 of 2017, K of C Council 16347 qualified for all three awards through its out-standing achievements in membership gain, insurance participation, and service program activities.

National Prayer Vigil for Life

WASHINGTON—The National Prayer Vigil for Life will be held from Thursday afternoon, January 18 to Friday morning, January 19, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Over 20,000 pilgrims from around the nation will pray there for an end to abortion before the annual March for Life. The Vigil marks the 45th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions legalizing abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy. Since those decisions, over 58 million abortions have been performed legally in the United States.

Catholics Should Hear “Cry of the Poor”

NEW YORK (CNS) — Catholics have a responsibility to look past the noisy rhetoric of the current debate on immigration and answer the “cry of the poor” by engaging with individuals facing deportation.

That was the focus of a National Migration Week discussion Jan. 11 at the Church of St. Francis Assisi in New York examining the plight of individuals affected by President Donald Trump’s Jan. 25, 2017, executive order on deportation. Presenters discussed practical actions to extend Christian charity and seek justice.

Walking “The Way of the Cross”

JERUSALEM– Continuing in the footsteps of Jesus on the final day of their pilgrimage to the Holy Land, a delegation of 22 young adults from the Diocese of Bridgeport walked “The Way of the Cross.”

The night before they prayed at the Mount of Olives and at the rock on which Jesus prayed on that first Holy Thursday, and journeyed to the Western Wall, where they prayed for all of the intentions people from the diocese had sent on social media.

U.S. News & World Report Ranks SHU

FAIRFIELD, Conn.—Sacred Heart University’s online programs for bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing are the best in the state, according to a statement U.S. News & World Report released Jan. 9. Sacred Heart’s programs were ranked against those from hundreds of colleges and universities across the country in the 2018 U.S.News Best Online Programs rankings.

Confirmation project helps persecuted Christians

DANBURY—The Level 1 Confirmation students at St. Joseph Parish in Danbury choose a different charity to support each year. In November, following the National Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians, the students chose the Knights of Columbus Christian Refugee Relief Fund. Christians in the Middle East face daily persecution and receive little support. According to Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, “the situation is dire. For instance, Christianity in Iraq—which can be traced to the time of the Apostles—could disappear entirely. That community has fallen from 1.5 million in 2003 to less than 200,000 today. Seeing that their brothers and sisters in Christ around the world care about them will provide much needed hope to those who have lost everything but their faith, for their faith.”

Purchasing and donating supplies, the students then gathered together to dip, decorate, and bag pretzels. Making 1,200 pretzel rods was fun. Selling them in the chill weather was more challenging, though cheerful hearts kept them warm. They finished selling the pretzel bags before Christmas. In all, the Confirmation Community Service Pretzel Project collected $650 to send to the Fund.

“The persecuted Christians need our financial support and prayers,” said Lynn Smierciak, director of religious education at St. Joseph.

(To learn more or to donate, visit

“Speaking to Sparrows” Free Film Screening

TRUMBULL—Join us on Wednesday, January 10th or Thursday, January 18th at 7:00 PM at Parish Hall of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull for a free screening of the documentary film Speaking to Sparrows!

Speaking to Sparrows is a documentary film about women finding courage to confront the uncomfortable. The film brings to light the issues facing women in today’s world and creates space for the difficult conversations. It is these conversations that are a light in the darkness, and can lead to sisterhood, belonging and healing.

Speaking to Sparrows is a film that can be used as a launchpad for authentic conversation in homes, small groups and schools. Further, the film provides this healing space for women across all generations. Regardless of age, women struggle with the same issues and will benefit from Speaking to Sparrows whether they are 16 or 60.

The event is free!The film is appropriate for ages 16+. For more information about the film, please visit the film’s website:

Open Meeting for Sexual Abuse Survivors

BRIDGEPORT—An open meeting for survivors of sexual abuse and their friends and family will be held on January 10, 12:30 to 2:30 at the Catholic Center, 238 Jewett Avenue, Bridgeport.

This gathering is being sponsored by the Committee for Healing of Survivors of Sexual Abuse group and the Safe Environments Office of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

It is open to any person who has been sexually abused as a minor to meet with the diocesan victim assistance coordinators and fellow survivors of sexual abuse.

“We hope to hear from abuse survivors. Their input is important to us,” said Erin Neil, Director of Safe Environments.

The Committee for Healing has sponsored a number of events including the Mass of Hope, Healing and Reconciliation held in October at St. Anthony Church, “What unites us is the common search to be able to go on in hope, to be healed from our suffering and drawn closer in reconciliation,” the Bishop said at the Mass. “Healing is as much a walk in in faith as being carried in faith by the love of Christ,” said the Bishop at the Mass, which also included testimonials from member of the Healing Committee.

Survivors of Sexual Abuse also recently shared their stories in two powerful videos that offer a candid and hopeful look at what the group and diocese have done to address victims and prevent further abuse, but also explore the pain and ongoing suffering victims have felt as they come to terms with abuse in their own lives.

The videos were produced at Sacred Heart University. They can be viewed at

The first public event sponsored by the survivor’s group was the Service of Peace, Hope, and Healing for survivors of Clerical Sexual Abuse held at the Egan Chapel of Fairfield University in November 2016.

In addition, the group has sponsored gatherings at the Bridgeport Public Library at their North Branch, 3455 Madison Ave., Bridgeport. This is an opportunity to meet with fellow adult survivors of abuse as a minor together with a diocesan victim assistance coordinator.

(If you are an adult survivor of abuse as a minor, and you would like to learn more about this Mass, the upcoming gatherings, and resources that are available in our diocese, contact one of our victim assistance coordinators: Erin Neil, LCSW, 203.650.3265 or Michael Tintrup, LCSW, 203.241.0987.)

St. Vincent College Continues Tradition

LATROBE, PA – The Benedictine monks of Saint Vincent College are continuing the ancient Epiphany blessing tradition of “chalking the doors” in a contemporary way.

In order to invoke the prayer “May Christ bless the house” on campus residence hall and office doorways as well as off campus on the homes of faculty, staff, alumni and friends in a new way, the monks are distributing pre-printed cards which are taped on doors instead of writing the blessing by hand in chalk directly on the doors.

Open Meeting for Sexual Abuse Survivors

A gathering on January 10 (12:30 pm – 2:00 pm) will be held at the Catholic Center for any person who has been sexually abused as a minor to meet with the victim assistance coordinators and fellow survivors of sexual abuse. We hope to hear from you; your input is important to us.

If you are an adult survivor of abuse as a minor, and you would like to learn more about the resources available within the Diocese of Bridgeport, including the Annual Mass for Survivors of Sexual Abuse and upcoming support meetings, please join us on January 10, 2018, or contact one of our Victim Assistance Coordinators:

Erin Neil, L.C.S.W., 203-650-3265,

Michael Tintrup, L.C.S.W., 203-241-0987,

Trinity Catholic High School announces tennis coach

STAMFORD—Trinity Catholic High School is pleased to announce the hiring of Jay Barston as the new Head Coach of Varsity Girls Tennis Program.

“Jay comes to us highly recommended and we look forward to a long and successful relationship. He is an experienced coach at the high school and collegiate levels and we welcome him into the Trinity Catholic Family,” said Bob Robustelli, athletic director at the school.

Jay is a long time resident of Darien, and has coached at Westhill High School, Yeshiva University and Sarah Lawrence College. Most recently he was a professional at Yonkers Tennis Center and team coach for the CT State Special Olympics.

Barston is a twenty-year member of the United States Professional Tennis Association.

“I am a very honored and excited to have been selected as the new girls’ tennis coach at Trinity Catholic. I share the schools vision and values and believe the team’s potential is great both on and off the court. I’m thrilled to be part of this prestigious institution and terrific athletics’ staff,” said Barston.

Celebrating A Journey Of Faith And Achievement

BRIDGEPORT— 2017 was a remarkable year for the Diocese of Bridgeport. In this “Top Ten” countdown, social media leader John Grosso shares some of the top stories from a year that saw the diocese grow in faith and in opportunities to serve, to worship and to evangelize. From the launch of the new Leadership Institute and the Face of Prayer campaign to the diocesan pilgrimage to the National Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., people throughout the diocese followed the call of Bishop Frank Caggiano for prayer and renewal.

The Waiting is Nearly Over!

BRIDGEPORT— In this joyous video, diocesan Social Media Leader John Grosso takes us for a one-minute trip around the diocese during the past week as the faithful prepared for Christmas.

You’ll hear the Diocesan Youth Choir sing, and share in the happiness and joy of our school children as they participate in Nativity pageants in schools and parishes.

Cleaning Up for Christmas

Bishop Caggiano’s 12/22/2017 Reflection

“The last item that I remember being part of our family’s annual Christmas “preparations” was what mom called “house cleaning”. For my part, I did not think the house needed to be cleaned in any special way, since everything always seemed to me to be spotless. However, Christmas house cleaning meant cabinets were to be cleaned, Christmas dishes unpacked, bedrooms were to be “straightened out” and all the floors washed.

“Christmas Store” is About Earning and Giving

BRIDGEPORT–Santa was on hand, there was a mountain of toys, and children were hard at work “shopping” for those they love yesterday at the McGivney Center’s Annual Christmas Store.

“This is wonderful—one of the best yet,” said Terry O’Connor, Executive Director of the McGivney Center located on the East Side of Bridgeport on the grounds of St. Charles Borromeo Parish.

St. Catherine Students Shine a Light

FAIRFIELD—“What a remarkable experience of faith!” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at the end of this year’s St. Catherine Academy Christmas Pageant.

“Now I can say it’s really the beginning of the Christmas Season in our diocese!” said the bishop to the more than 200 people who turned out for this year’s pageant performed by students who with autism or intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Bishop at Newtown Remembrance

NEWTOWN – On the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, more than 800 people gathered at St. Rose of Lima Church for a Mass of Remembrance, in search of healing and hope.

They looked for healing from a tragedy that Bishop Frank Caggiano said could not be captured in words, when a disturbed young man took the lives of 20 first-graders and six educators shortly before Christmas.

$10,000 Grant Allowing Bridgeport Youth Center to Expand Their Fitness for Life Program

BRIDGEPORT—In early December, the Cardinal Shehan Center, a youth center in Bridgeport, CT, received a $10,000.00 grant from the Rotary Club of Bridgeport Foundation for its Fitness for Life program. The Shehan Center Fitness for Life program teaches kids about healthy eating and cooking as well as the importance of being physically active.

Advent Resources

BRIDGEPORT—Prepare for Christ’s birth with this treasury of Advent resources compiled by the diocesan Leadership Institute. According to Patrick Donovan, Advent resources include a checklist for Advent practices, 10 things you need to know about Advent and other guidance to deepen your spiritual life and immerse yourself in the Advent season.

Catholic Liturgies Avoid Christmas Decorations, Carols in Advent

WASHINGTON (CNS) — During the weeks before Christmas, Catholic churches stand out for what they are missing. Unlike stores, malls, public buildings and homes that start gearing up for Christmas at least by Thanksgiving, churches appear almost stark save for Advent wreaths and maybe some greenery or white lights.

Arise and Shine! Diocesan Youth Choir Christmas Concert

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BRIDGEPORT—The Diocesan Youth Choir Christmas Concert will be held at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts of Fairfield University on Sunday December 17, at 7 pm.

This will be the third Christmas Concert for the youth choir formed by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano. It has become one of the most joyous and inspiring events of the year in the diocese.

St Matthew Knights of Columbus Continue Thanksgiving Weekend Traditions of Helping Those in Need

Norwalk’s Knights of Columbus St. Matthew Council 14360 has many traditions but helping veterans and children in need is at the top of the list.

First Council 14360 and students at All Saints Catholic School sponsored a donation drive for the veterans at the Homes for The Brave in Bridgeport in honor of Veterans Day. Homes for The Brave is a facility in Bridgeport that takes care of veterans who are working to get back to regular life after serving in the armed forces. This was the 4th consecutive year that the council and school has run a drive for Homes for the Brave.