Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT
BRIDGEPORT—We should learn to be grateful for what we have rather than being jealous of others’ talents or possessions, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in his homily during his weekly online Mass for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
In addition to wounding others, jealousy blinds us to our own gifts and talents, and from feeling gratitude for our own lives, the bishop said.
Reflecting on the Gospel – Matthew 20:1-16 (1 “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard,”) the bishop said we may hesitate to admit our own jealousy but most of us have it in one form or another.
“It’s a sin and it can be profoundly serious. It harms others and ourselves because it hardens our hearts to what God has given us in our own lives and to the basic spiritual truths we need to come to grips with.”
In the parable, the landowner pays laborers who started working later in the day the same wage as those who began early in the morning.
The bishop said we are often like the laborers in the parable, asking why and failing to understand God’s love for us.
“If the landowner is God our Father, the truth is God gives gifts and talents according to his inscrutable will. They are given differently to each of us—and given to be given away in service of our neighbors.”
Looking back on his student days at Regis High School the bishop said he studied with a brilliant class of young men who seemed to master everything easily. He remembered struggling to improve his English prose skills while many of the students were learning Russian on the weekends as a second language.
Likewise, he said many people are jealous of others good looks or athletic talents, “while we struggle just to make the cut.” We may even be jealous of others who seem to be able to eat anything, while “We can just look at a piece of cake and gain weight.”
The bishop said that being envious of others masks an important spiritual truth.
“There is another deeper lesson at work here. That is, many times you and I are tempted to be jealous of our neighbor and envious of things they own because we have forgotten to be grateful. We spend too much time looking at those around us and not looking into our own lives. You and I are wildly blessed and many times we forget the gifts or take them for granted because they are part of the ordinary or in the fabric of our lives.”
The bishop recalled that as a young man he often disagreed with his father’s decisions and would question them.
“My father said, ‘I don’t have to explain them to you, though I may choose to for your own benefit. You need to trust me,’” the bishop said “The same is true for God our Father, as he gives each of us different gifts.”
At the end of his homily, the bishop issued a spiritual challenge for all to consider during the week.
“Why spend spiritual energy, waste time in comparing ourselves to one to another. It’s a dead end. The challenge is to spend more time celebrating and thanking the landowner for what he has given us. We should be less tempted to worry about what they have, and celebrate what we have… And then respond by giving our talents away. This is how we will learn to love our neighbor.”
In his brief remarks following Mass, the bishop invited all to watch the two-minute 2020 Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) video and to help others who have been devastated by the pandemic.
“When this entire challenge began 7 months ago, we were hoping it would be over. Sadly it is nowhere near being over,” he said.
The bishop said that the diocese has been able to respond on many levels in recent months but there is more work ahead. “I come to you in this unique moment recognizing that need in our midst in diocese continue to grow,” he said, urging people to be as generous as they can be to help the ACA reach it goal.
Bishop’s Online Mass: The Bishop’s Sunday Mass is released online every Sunday morning at 8 a.m. and available for replay throughout the day. To view the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, recorded and published weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.
BRIDGEPORT—Best-selling author Jim Steffen’s book “The Secret of Growing True Love That Lasts,” found its way into Bishop Frank J. Caggiano’s hands…and then the pope’s!
When Steffen heard that Bishop Caggiano was on the USCCB committee on laity, marriage, family life and youth, he knew that “True Love That Lasts” was something the bishop would truly appreciate.
“In their book, Jim and Carol Steffen outline a very simple recipe for a strong and healthy marriage, said Bishop Caggiano. “By asking just one question a day, husbands and wives can work together to build a relationship that endures. I invite couples of all ages and experience to take up Jim and Carol’s challenge of growing true love that lasts.”
Steffen’s new book is the culmination of the author’s sixty-year quest to understand how couples can stay together and enjoy marriages that thrive. “The problem has a dual nature,” Steffen says, “the first is to discover what to do to grow true love that lasts and the other is remembering to do it.” In the book, Steffen offers a solution to both.
The book provides practical tips for couples to follow and simple questions to ask each day. The included habit builder solves the second part of the equation. With his background in time management, Steffen uses what he calls the QEP method: Quickto-learn, Easy-to-use, Proven-towork Method. The book is told as a story— following John and Maria on their romantic journey as they discover how to grow true love that lasts by asking just a single question a day. “I took the idea [for a story format] from Jesus Himself,” explains Jim. “Jesus did some of His best teaching in the form of a story and I wanted this to be a story that people could hang onto.”
In 2016, Pope Francis expressed his concern over the decreasing desire in young people for marriage. He explained that this is a great concern because the family is the basis of society. This issue is what Jim and Carol Steffen address in “True Love That Lasts.” “What can we do to make the family happier so that young people will want to get married?” Jim asks.
Jim Steffen has been working closely with Dr. Patrick Donovan, director of the diocesan Leadership Institute, in order to create a video series on True Love that Lasts.
“This movement is unique in so far as there is no diocese that has such an effort,” says Donovan, explaining that this is not just a premarital program but a program of continuing formation.
On June 25, 2020, The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization released a new Directory for Catechesis, providing guidelines for the Church’s mission of proclaiming the Gospel through catechesis and evangelization. The timing of Steffen’s book and video series could not be better, Donovan added.
“In the new directory, Pope Francis challenges us to ‘make use of the valuable help of other couples with long-standing experience in marriage,’” Donovan says, quoting the New Directory. “The document goes so far as to challenge parishes and dioceses to lose the terminology, ‘marriage prep’ because it undermines the true meaning of marriage formation: an ongoing journey that takes a lifetime. What Jim and Carol have done is to take their own story and put it at the disposal of others. It will be a perfect tiein to our renewed formation for the sacrament of marriage, which launches in early September.”
The goal of the video series is to show people that the True Love That Lasts movement is both research based and practical.
Steffen explains that one can either follow along with the book as they watch the series, or use it to add something new, exciting and useful to their current understanding of relationships. He is most looking forward to being able to tell stories and share insights that wouldn’t have been able to fit in the book. “True Love That Lasts is not just for married couples,” says Steffen, “the principles can be applied to any and all relationships.”
(For more information on the True Love That Lasts video series visit formationreimagined.org; to purchase the book and accompanying materials, visit: truelovethatlasts.us.)
My heart is filled with deep gratitude to the Lord and Our Lady as I look back on these last seven years in which I have had the privilege to serve as the Bishop of Bridgeport. Today I celebrate the blessings to to collaborate with wonderful and dedicated priests, a curial staff that is second to none, lay leaders who are faithful, generous and committed to the faith in a Diocese that is rich in beauty and diversity. My ministry continues to be a daily blessing and joy, despite the lingering challenges we continue to face as a Church.
As many of you know, today also would have been my mother’s birthday. If she had lived, mom would have been 88 years old today. It was her care and encouragement that nurtured my vocation to the priesthood. Since her death, I have asked her many times for help during these years and I know that she remains present to me in powerful ways, both in times of challenge and those of joy. I am grateful for her constant love and protection.
Finally, in the Office of Readings, Saint Augustine offers these words of admonition to anyone who holds an office in the Church. As always, he has given me much to reflect upon:
“The day I became a bishop, a burden was laid on my shoulders for which it will be no easy task to render an account. The honors I receive are for me an ever present cause of uneasiness. Indeed, it terrifies me to think that I could take more pleasure in the honor attached to my office, which is where its danger lies, than in your salvation which ought to be its fruit. This is why being set above you fills me with alarm, whereas being with you gives me comfort. Danger lies in the first; salvation in the second.”
BRIDGEPORT—The 2020 Catholic Scout Awards Ceremony for the Diocese of Bridgeport will be held this evening tonight, Friday September 18, at St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan. Because of Covid-19 restrictions, the gathering is by invitation only.
The ceremony will begin with a Scouts’ Color Guard and Pledge of Allegiance followed by their scouting promises and oaths.
Father Robert Kinnally, Diocesan Scouting Chaplain and Pastor of St. Aloysius Parish, will bless and award the Scouting Medals to young scouts throughout the diocese.
Awards to be distributed include Light of Christ, Ad Altare Dei (To the Altar of God), Parvuli Dei (Children of God), the Pope Pius XI Award, and the Pope Paul VI National Catholic Unit Excellence Award.
BRIDGEPORT—As the culmination of seven weeks of the well-received webinar series “Conversations About Race” hosted by The Leadership Institute, the diocesan Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism and the Apostolate for Black Catholics, last night’s “Conversations About the Conversations” brought about a lot of important discussions.
The two panelists were Janie Nneji a member of St. Mary Parish in Ridgefield and Father Reggie Norman, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Wilton and episcopal vicar for Black Catholics in the diocese. “I have been intensely interested in what the Church can do to heal the racial divide,” explained Nneji, who has piloted a study in her parish using Bishop Braxton’s 2015 pastoral letter, along with books and videos in order to facilitate a conversation and work toward healing.
“This is my third or fourth job,” explained Father Reggie of his role as the episcopal vicar for Black Catholics in the diocese, “but it was the one that I find the most passion in.”
Panelists began the webinar discussing highlights of the seven-week series, what moved them, change them and challenged them. Listeners were then invited to ask questions or begin discussions in the chat.
Patrick Donovan, director of The Leadership Institute shared that one of the things that was most eye-opening for him was when Gloria Purvis used the phrase “we can walk and chew gum,” referring to the fact that just because we say that Black lives matter doesn’t mean that white lives don’t and just because we say that racism in a pro-life issue doesn’t mean that we feel any less strongly about other pro-life issues. “I had never thought about it so simply,” shared Donovan.
Nneji shared that she was shocked to hear that some people had never heard it said that racism was a sin, and that racism was a life issue and contrary to the Word of God. “To me it was very important that I am also involved in many pro-life circles and have bemoaned the fact that it is not always as womb to tomb as I would like it to be,” shared Nneji.
Panelists enjoyed how both Chatelain and Villalobos discussed how to have a conversation and how it is important to listen to others’ stories when beginning to engage with others on these difficult topics and to find common ground. “I think that was an effective tool in having a conversation,” said Nneji.
“I thought the series was excellent. As a Black Catholic, having gone back and read some of the Bishop’s pastoral statements and my disappointment is that the Church has gone to battle over many different issues and I don’t think they have raised the racism issue up to the level of concern and dedication of resources to which they should,” shared Nneji. “But I think having the conversations was a good start,” she said.
Father Reggie said that Armando Cervantes’ conversation on multicultural voices allowed listeners to see the issue of racism as a bigger picture, and to recognize other cultures that are struggling as well.
“As a Black man I’m tired of talking about this. I talk about this all day every day and sometimes it’s very frustrating because no matter how much you talk some people are just not going to get it,” explained Father Reggie, sharing that Gloria Purvis’ discussion gave him a new perspective and approach and inspired him to speak up in areas where he might not have before.
Father Reggie encouraged listeners to work with their pastors and show them the way that they wish to learn more about certain issues. “You are the Church, if you can get some people together and do it that is a start,” he said.
Panelists discussed how important it is to make sure that parishioners of color feel welcome enough to continue coming to church. “The reality is that none of us own the Church, it’s God’s Church we are just temporary stewards of it and we should be welcoming and let anyone in who wants to celebrate God. We contradict ourselves when we say our doors are open but want to limit who comes through.”
“We need to make sure our parishes are places of acceptance and healing and preaching and teaching and all of those things,” said Donovan.
“The Church is not a sanctuary for Saints it is a hospital for sinners,” shared Father Reggie, explaining that that’s something we all need to work on recognizing as a Church.
Panelists discussed that the diocesan Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism is currently working on developing anti-racism training for diocesan staff as well as within the parishes, as well as plans for Black Catholic History Month in November.
(To watch all the webinars from the Conversations About Race series and for a growing list of resources visit www.formationreimagined.org.)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Human beings must change their relationship with nature and view it not as an “object for unscrupulous use and abuse” but as a gift they are charged by God to care for and protect, Pope Francis said.
Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives for his general audience in the San Damaso courtyard at the Vatican Sept. 16, 2020. (CNS photo/Yara Nardi, Reuters)
People are called to contemplate creation as a reflection of “God’s infinite wisdom and goodness” and not act as if people are the “center of everything” and the “absolute rulers of all other creatures,” the pope said Sept. 16 during his weekly general audience.
“Exploiting creation — this is sin,” he said. “We believe that we are at the center, claiming to occupy God’s place and thus we ruin the harmony of creation, the harmony of God’s design. We become predators, forgetting our vocation as guardians of life.”
The audience was held in the San Damaso courtyard of the Apostolic Palace. While the pope maintained his distance when greeting most of the faithful, he approached several pilgrims to sign autographs, speak directly to them or briefly swap his signature zucchetto for one brought as a gift.
Continuing his series of talks on “healing the world,” the pope reflected on the theme of “caring for the common home and contemplative attitude.”
Contemplation, he said, is the best “antidote against the disease of not taking care of the common home” and falling “into an unbalanced and arrogant anthropocentrism,” in which humans place themselves and their needs “at the center of everything.”
“It is important to recover the contemplative dimension, that is, to look at the earth, at creation as a gift, not as something to be exploited for profit,” the pope said. “When we contemplate, we discover in others and in nature something much greater than their usefulness.”
Departing from his prepared remarks, the pope warned that those who are incapable of contemplating nature and creation, are often incapable of contemplating their fellow human beings.
“Those who live to exploit nature, end up exploiting people and treating them like slaves,” the pope said. “This is a universal law: if you do not know how to contemplate nature, it will be very difficult for you to contemplate people, the beauty of people, your brother, your sister.”
Recalling a Spanish proverb, the pope also cautioned that exploiting creation brings costly consequences because “God always forgives; we forgive sometimes; (but) nature never forgives.”
Citing a recent report that the Pine Island and Thwates glaciers in Antarctica are collapsing due to global warming, Pope Francis said the consequential rising sea levels “will be terrible,” and he called on people to “guard the inheritance God has entrusted to us so that future generations can enjoy it.”
“Each one of us can and must become a guardian of the common home, capable of praising God for his creatures (by) contemplating them and protecting them,” the pope said.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis reminded elderly and ill priests that they need not be afraid of suffering because Christ is always there to help them carry that cross.
With God’s grace, their situation, which was made even more difficult and risky because of the COVID-19 pandemic and strict protocols for containing its spread, can be “an experience of purification,” he said.
For priests, fragility can be like a fire that refines and soap that purifies, and which, “raising us up to God, refines and sanctifies us,” he said.
“We are not afraid of suffering; the Lord carries the cross with us,” he said.
The pope’s message was sent to priests taking part in an annual day of prayer and fraternity for elderly and sick clergy Sept. 17 in Italy’s northern Lombardy region — the region that had been hit hardest by coronavirus infections and deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Vatican released the message the same day.
Over the past several months, the pope said, “we have all experienced restrictions. Days spent in confined spaces seemed endless and always the same.”
“We have missed the affection of those dearest to us and of friends; the fear of infection has reminded us of our precariousness,” and, he added, it has also given people an idea of what many elderly people experience every day.
Pope Francis said he hoped this period would help everyone understand how “it is necessary not to waste the time that is given to us; that it will help us to enjoy the beauty of encountering others, to heal from the virus of self-sufficiency.”
He said he was pleased the group could travel with their bishops to the town of Caravaggio and pray at the city’s Marian sanctuary.
He thanked them for their faithful and silent witness, and their love for God and the church.
By Carol Glatz | Catholic News Service
SAN ANTONIO (CNS) — Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonio said that “we do not know exactly what God has in store for us,” but he hopes that while “we wait and work” for this COVID-19 crisis to be over, it will not “just be an episode in history from which we recovered.”
Instead, it must be “a turning point that we embraced allowing God to heal and transform each one of us, our archdiocese and the whole world into something better,” he said before promulgating a new pastoral during a Mass at San Fernando Cathedral Sept. 14, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
The pastoral, which is in English and Spanish, is titled “Transformed by Hope, Let Us Rebuild Our Tomorrow!” and addressed to all the people of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.
“In this challenging time, we ask the Holy Spirit to grant us freedom in spirit, in order to loosen ties and hold-backs that prevent our souls from flying toward the divine,” he said before signing the pastoral at the Mass, attended by ministry representatives from various institutions — primarily educational entities — in the archdiocese.
“We pray humbly and constantly for the virtue of fortitude, a gift of the Holy Spirit that is rooted in trust,” Archbishop García-Siller he said.
Copies of the pastoral letter will be distributed to parishes of the archdiocese as well as Catholic schools. It also is available on the archdiocesan website, www.archsa.org, and on archdiocesan social media outlets.
The 38-page document states: “Ignited by the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts, let us dive into the dynamics of the current times! Let us come in closer spiritual contact with God and with one another!
“Let us recognize and caress the face of the Lord — whom we adore — in the flesh of every suffering brother or sister. And may our perception, thoughts, feelings and actions become a channel of God’s love for his children. Ven, Holy Spirit, Ven!”
Archbishop García-Siller in the pastoral said that so many have suffered in numerous ways due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have lost their lives, millions have suffered from the illness or have lost dear ones. Countless more are currently undergoing financial turmoil, necessary seclusion or find themselves facing varied causes of seemingly unbearable distress,” he said.
The archbishop said he was “particularly heartbroken” by how the pandemic has exacerbated the “neglect and abandonment” experienced by the marginalized in society, those who are looked on “with indifference or disdain,” who lack access to health care, food and shelter and have other hardships — all of which has been made worse by the pandemic.
As the scientific community works on a C OVID vaccine, “we must also cure a larger virus, that of social injustice, inequality of opportunity, marginalization and the lack of protection for the weakest,” he said quoting Pope Francis from his Aug. 19 general audience.
More than ever immigrants “are being treated in less than human ways in many dimensions of our social life, including the legal system,” he said, and “some ethnic groups are suffering more than others.”
“Unequal opportunities and services, stereotypes and prejudices, still tremendously affect the way African American communities are generally treated, as opposed to most people of Western European descent,” he continued. “The same can be said about Native American groups, Hispanics and others.”
During this time, he said, an increased number of people of East Asian and Pacific Island heritage, “have been mocked, bullied and assaulted.”
The “tremendous recession” caused by the pandemic “has caused further exposed grave deficiencies in our economic system,” leading more low-income people and the middle class to struggle financially, while the rich get richer, he said.
He expressed concern the pandemic and the suffering it has caused have led some to promote “the business of abortion and euthanasia,” with the latter being used to deprive the elderly and the terminally ill of the natural end to their pilgrimage due to a lost sense of the meaning of life in their suffering, and because their treatments are considered too costly by people who care more about their own profit.”
Archbishop García-Siller also called it scandalous some use fetal cell lines taken from aborted babies for research purposes, including trying to develop a COVID vaccine.
He pointed to other important problems drawing attention during the last few months, including the “brutality of some police officers and its frequent connection with racism.”
“Legitimate indignation has triggered demonstrations, which have been infiltrated by violent agitators and ideological agendas. In addition to that, we have witnessed the desecration and destruction of religious and historic symbols,” he added.
“In one way or another the pandemic is affecting the whole world. … There are undoubtedly some very unique challenges,” he said.
“We are all called to share each other’s burdens as well as their joys. ‘We are in this together’ is a common hope expressed these days,” he added.
During this time “not only is God’s grace readily available for us … but perhaps the circumstances to which the pandemic is forcing us can be used as opportunities to get to know ourselves, God and the people around us better, in new and different ways, as we grow spiritually,” he said.
“It is a paradox that now that many people cannot go out, we can make a trip inside ourselves,” he added.
“As we strive to look ahead full of trust and hope, let us turn our hearts and our minds to Mary,” Archbishop García-Siller said. Quoting the pope, he added: “Our Lady is the star that guides us.”
TRUMBULL—St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull launched a new Pastoral Year on September 12 & 13 on a picture-perfect weekend. Father Joseph Marcello, pastor, Deacon Patrick Toole, and St. Catherine of Siena Parish staff were joined once again by the parish’s Welcome Team for our 4th annual kickoff weekend.
Masses were as full as state guidelines allow. Everyone could easily see by the smiles under every mask that friends were happy to see each other. Christ is alive and at work in our community! Even though it’s an unsettled time for all of us, it’s going to be a great pastoral year at St. Catherine’s!
Do you know someone who is looking for a spiritual home? Invite them to come see what St. Catherine’s is all about.
The Parish of Saint Catherine of Siena warmly welcomes anyone who is new to our area, anyone who is searching for the truth, or anyone who is looking for a spiritual home. We are joyfully and faithfully Roman Catholic in belief and practice – a community of faith, worship, service, and formation – and with open hearts we invite all our brothers and sisters into a living and saving friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ, in the communion of His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We are conveniently located at 220 Shelton Road in the Nichols area of Trumbull.
(To view all photos from the event, visit: www.flickr.com/photos/stcathtrumbull/albums/72157715959120018.)
The Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano
By the Grace of God and the Authority of the Apostolic See
Bishop of Bridgeport
RELEGATION TO PROFANE BUT NOT SORDID USE OF OLD SAINT PATRICK CHURCH, REDDING, CT
Whereas the old Saint Patrick Church of Redding, CT has been replaced by a new church structure and;
Whereas the old structure is no longer being used as a center of worship of Saint Patrick Parish and;
Whereas it was decided by the Pastor and the faithful that the old Saint Patrick Church could best serve the parish as a center of evangelization for the youth and;
Whereas the remodeling of the old Saint Patrick Church for the aforementioned purpose has received diocesan approval;
In virtue of the office entrusted to me, I, the Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano, Fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, concerned with the welfare of the diocese and souls entrusted to me, in conformity with cc. 1212 and 1222, §2 of the Code of Canon Law, hereby relegate to profane but not sordid use the old Saint Patrick Church of Redding, CT.
Due consideration has been given to the above reasons and the presbyteral council was duly consulted on September 10, 2020 and approval has been received from the interested parties whose rights must be protected by law.
Given at the Diocese of Bridgeport Catholic Center on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, this 14th day of September of the Year of the Lord 2020.
TRUMBULL—To mark the 8th Annual National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children, a group of local parishioners gathered in prayer at the Memorial Site of the Unborn in the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Trumbull on a recent Saturday afternoon. Beginning at the holy hour of 3 pm under the warm sun of mid-September, the ceremony included pro-life prayers, special intentions, and the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.
Two dozen people from the Trumbull area held long-stemmed white roses and joined together to visit this gravesite, not only to remember the countless number of children who have been aborted but to also acknowledge forgiveness for those responsible.
“The children we remember here today are in Heaven,” said Tina Kelly, a member of St. Catherine of Siena Parish who has organized this event for the past four years. “The real crux is to pray for those who did this and hope that they too get to Heaven. We want them to know that they are forgiven.”
Held each year on the second Saturday of September, the event, Kelly feels, has special significance as it occurs during the week of the Blessed Mother’s birthday on September 8. “We ask for her blessings on us today,” she said as the ceremony began.
As the group recited the “Prayer to End Abortion,” “Prayer for Forgiveness of Those Who Destroy Human Life,” and other devotions, a young girl visiting the cemetery with her family wandered toward the memorial. She paused and gently touched the vase of roses and an unlit white candle, seeming to acknowledge those unborn with the innocence only a child herself could possess. Several attendees said this simple act of kindness reminded them of the line they had just recited: “We pray for the toddler who, like your Son, reaches out in hope to a brand new world.”
The small granite stone, inscribed with the words “In Memory of the Unborn,” is one of 11 memorial sites that have been erected throughout Connecticut. In addition to the ceremony in Trumbull, gatherings also occurred this weekend in Oakdale and Putnam and at the burial place for aborted children in Cromwell.
Kelly said that the group who gathers at Gate of Heaven Cemetery grows each year, with more and more people getting involved in the pro-life movement. “I hope they will become more vocal about their beliefs,” she said. “The Lord is merciful. We are praying for those who destroyed life, not judging them.”
“Forgiveness,” she added, “is what distinguishes our faith.”
By Emily Clark
DANBURY—Immaculate High School recently began a new school year, successfully rolling out their reopening plan and hosting the student body in the building. New protocols throughout the school promote social distancing and safe practices, including temperature sensors at all entrances to the building, directional signage in the hallways and stairwells, air purifiers in all rooms in the building, hand sanitizer stations and disinfectant wipes in every classroom as well as mask mandates for all faculty, staff and students.
Similar to the efforts of all school administrators, school President Mary Maloney and school Principal Wendy Neil, have been coordinating their reopening plan efforts with the Department of Health, local officials, CIAC and the Offices of the Superintendents of Danbury Public Schools and Diocese of Bridgeport Catholic Schools. The first week of school began with Freshman Orientation on Tuesday, September 8 and continued on Thursday and Friday with a hybrid learning platform for the entire student body. Parents were provided an option of sending their student back to the school or for their student to take courses virtually for the first semester.
While prioritizing the safety and well-being of its students and staff, Immaculate is committed to maintaining the rigor of its programs and its Catholic identity. “We have created two cohorts of students who will be participating in their 55-minute classes whether virtual or in-person using Microsoft Teams. Our Wednesday schedule includes shortened periods and special programming to allow students to engage in Mass, Prayer services, Advisory, counseling, extracurricular and after school club meetings,” says President Mary Maloney.
Principal Wendy Neil expressed her enthusiasm in a letter to parents stating “ Together we can make this untraditional start of the year a success. Our teachers have worked endlessly to master their technology skills while designing their lessons, our staff has tried to prepare for every possible scenario and our building is ready. Our coaches and athletic department programs have been responding to every new guideline in order to keep our athletes safe on the field and court.”
To see the full reopening plan, please visit: www.immaculatehs.org/re-opening-plans/september-4-2020-update.
Immaculate High School is a private, non-profit Catholic college-preparatory institution serving students from 28 communities in Connecticut and New York. Founded in 1962, Immaculate High School also allows students to focus on academic excellence, spiritual development, service to others and personal goals. Located in Danbury, Conn., Immaculate High School is part of the Diocese of Bridgeport’s school system.
Fernanda Moreira had a dream that changed her life, a dream that led her to a deep devotion to Our Lady and writing a book about the silent suffering the Mother of God endured in the depths of her heart, suffering only another mother could understand.
As a Catholic, she was raised with a knowledge of the Blessed Mother, but says, “I never had a real relationship with her.” During May, she would pray the rosary and honor her, but that was the extent of her devotion.
“My love for Jesus was so great that I didn’t have room in my heart for anyone else, so I stopped my devotion to Mary,” she recalled. “But as a good mother, she would not let me live in such error and ignorance.”
Then, one night she had a dream, and in the dream she became upset when saw a statue of the Blessed Mother lying on the floor.
“My heart felt such sorrow that I went and picked her up, and as I did, she embraced me,” Fernanda recalls. “I can’t express the feeling in my heart. It was like she was telling me, ‘You took me out of your life, but I am your mother, and I won’t let you go.’ And I have been in her arms ever since.”
Years later, Fernanda and her sister-in-law began a worldwide apostolate for the dying, which she says was God’s doing because she never could have spread it across America from California to Connecticut, including parishes in Shelton and Bridgeport, and to places as far away as the United Kingdom, Nigeria and the Philippines. The mission of the Apostolate for the Dying is “to pray for souls at the vital moment of death, when eternal salvation is at stake.” Fernanda and her sister-in-law Lourdes later published the “Holy Hour Devotion for the Dying,” which has been translated into five languages and distributed worldwide.
“The Silent Sufferings of Mary” is Fernanda’s most recent book. It contains 40 meditations to honor and console the sorrowful heart of Mary, and it can be used for prayer and meditation.
“The devotion and love we should have for Our Lady of Sorrows is of the utmost importance,” Fernanda says. “What child would not love a mother like our heavenly Mother? She suffered along with her divine Son for our salvation, and she truly is the most powerful mother this world will ever have because of her great suffering and love. She is our great intercessor.”
Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows has special importance during our time, Fernanda says.
“She is the Queen of Heaven and Earth and can obtain the peace and harmony the world so desperately needs and is longing for,” she said. “We are living in times of great sorrow and no one knows how to suffer like she did and still does. She has been calling us back to God for centuries, and many do not listen.”
Devotion to the Seven Sorrows of Mary is based in Scripture and Christian tradition. The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, which is observed on September 15, was introduced in 1239 by the Servites—the Order of the Servants of Mary. In 1814, Pope Pius VII extended it to the universal Church.
During Our Lady’s last apparition at Fatima on October 13, 1917, when the Miracle of the Sun occurred, she appeared as Our Lady of the Rosary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Our Lady of Sorrows.
One of the visionaries, Sister Lucia, later said that God wants “to show us the value of suffering, sacrifice and immolation for the sake of love. In the world today hardly anyone wants to hear these truths, such is the extent to which people are living in search of pleasure, of empty worldly happiness and exaggerated comfort. But the more one flees from suffering, the more we find ourselves immersed in a sea of afflictions, disappointments and suffering.”
According to St. Bridget of Sweden, the Blessed Mother revealed she would give seven special graces to those who honored her with a daily devotion to the Seven Sorrows by saying seven Hail Marys and meditating on her “dolors”:
- “I will grant peace to their families.”
- “They will be enlightened about the divine mysteries.”
- “I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.”
- “I will give them as much as they ask for as long as it does not oppose the adorable will of my divine Son or the sanctification of their souls.”
- “I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy, and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.”
- “I will visibly help them at the moment of their death—they will see the face of their mother.”
- “I have obtained this grace from my divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to my tears and dolors will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness, since all their sins will be forgiven, and my Son will be their eternal consolation and joy.”
These are the Seven Sorrows of Mary:
- The prophecy of Simeon
- The flight into Egypt
- The loss of Jesus for three days in the Temple
- Meeting Jesus on his way to Calvary
- Jesus’ crucifixion and death
- Jesus is taken down from the cross
- Jesus is laid in the tomb
Fernanda, who also wrote “The Hidden Sufferings of Christ,” said that “God is full of surprises and when you place your life into his mighty hands, all things are possible.”
She did not intend to write about the suffering of Mary until a woman in Washington DC called her with the idea.
“I was very surprised and told her I didn’t think I could do it, but she was so convinced I could and should, that I said I would pray about it,” Fernanda recalled.
She asked the Lord to guide her and then went to talk to Fr. James Walsh, the pastor of St. Dominic Church in Cincinnati, who told her, “This is from the Holy Spirit. You have to do it.”
In his foreword to the book, Father Walsh wrote, “In this book, we are invited to get inside the mind and heart of Mary as she experienced the various Gospel events. Fernanda helps us to begin a conversation with Mary that leads us into prayer…This is a beautiful book. May it lead you to a new appreciation of Mary and a deeper relationship with her Son Jesus.”
In her introduction, she wrote, “The Scriptures don’t say much about the sufferings of Mary. So how can we know the silent sorrows in the depths of her heart? The writer of this book doesn’t pretend to know, but as a mother herself, she can easily imagine how great Mary’s suffering must have been, seeing her divine Son so mistreated and killed by those He came to save.”
The meditations take the reader from the Annunciation to the Descent of the Holy Spirit to help us understand the role Mary played in the history of our salvation. The book took her nine months to complete, and she would work on it after she had completed her daily duties as a wife, mother and grandmother.
“During the day, thoughts and inspirations came to me, but it was mostly at night that I had the chance to write,” she said. “Before I did, I always prayed and asked the Holy Spirit and Blessed Mother to give me the words I should write.” She was also assisted by her daughter Paula Dudzinski, who helped with the editing and designed the cover, in addition to finding beautiful artwork to accompany each meditation.
Why 40 meditations? “Just as Jesus, Moses and others in the Bible spent 40 days in the desert, we can spend 40 days meditating on Mary’s suffering and growing closer to her,” she said.
(To obtain a copy of the book or for more information about the Apostolate for the Dying, visit apostolateforthedying.com or email@example.com or write to Apostolate for the Dying, P. O. Box 38-9185 Cincinnati, OH 45238)
STRATFORD—As the first week drew to a close on Friday, St. Mark faculty say they aced their first test on back-to-school in the era of COVID-19.
“The kids are so happy to be back at school, as are the teachers,” shared St. Mark Principal Melissa Warner. “Even through their tiny masks you could see the excitement on their faces and they’re being so cooperative with all the health protocols we put in place.”
St. Mark faculty have been meeting all summer long planning the reopening measures, ensuring both teachers and parents had a voice in the planning process.
“I’m so excited to have everyone back,” added grade 8 Teacher Mrs. Agnes Miller. “For most of our students, St. Mark School is a second home.”
Principal Warner said families had two options this fall: in person, five days a week or at-home guided distance learning. Of the school’s 190 students in Pre-K through grade 8, twenty-two students elected remote learning. Students who are ill or presenting any symptoms of COVID-19 can also continue their education remotely if they feel well enough, added Warner.
The school welcomed 51 new students this fall, many of whom transferred from public school. Currently there are waiting lists for kindergarten, grade 4 and grade 8.
Following the guidelines of the CDC and State of Conn., Warner said they rearranged rooms, removed unnecessary furniture and spaced the desks out anywhere from 4 to 6 feet depending on the number of students in the classrooms. The students are kept in cohorts, or small groups, and teachers will move into the classrooms for special programs.
“The smaller size of our school populations and the mission driven zeal of our teachers have allowed us to be flexible in our planning, to use space and instructional time creatively and to create a school environment that is healthy, safe and nurturing,” commented Superintendent of Schools Steven Cheeseman, who is also a St. Mark Alumni Parent and School Advisory Board member.
St. Mark also hired a professional day porter to clean and sanitize high-touch surfaces throughout the day in addition to a second crew who cleans at night. The school also purchased an electrostatic mist machine, also known as a disinfectant fogger, that vaporizes a cleaning solution as an extra layer of sanitation.
“I have to say, it’s run pretty well so far,” added Warner. “It’s an educational experience for everyone. Kudos to the parents, because a lot of them had that conversation at home and now we’re an extension of that conversation.”
As for the parents, Mrs. Warner reports that the feedback has been very positive.
“We could not be happier with how this week went and the clear preparation from principal and staff to make it happen,” commented Deanna Pittore, parent of a St. Mark fourth-grader. “All the extra loving care was evident in every detail. What an amazing job St. Mark is doing to keep our kids in school, safe and still learning.”
St. Mark School is a Nationally Recognized Blue Ribbon School of Academic Excellence and a New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accredited school, serving students in Pre-K through grade 8. For more information, visit stmarkschool.org or call 203.375.4291.
BRIDGEPORT—Most of us find it difficult to forgive friends and family who may have betrayed us, but Jesus urges us toward complete forgiveness, said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in his homily during his online Mass for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
“Many of us who struggle with this demand find it difficult to summon the energy and grace to forgive. We can forgive to a point— but with strings attached,” said the bishop from the Catholic Center chapel.
The bishop said it is a very human reaction to want to protect ourselves from further hurt, but the challenge presented by the gospel is that ““True Christian forgiveness does not have strings attached.”
The bishop’s homily was based on the Gospel of Matthew 18:21-35. “ 21 Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”
The bishop said Peter probably thought he had done well with his generous figure, but that Jesus goes beyond that exponentially.
“The Call of the Gospel is to be wildly generous, to know no limits or bounds. We are as children to follow the example of the Father in heaven who does the same for you and me and all of us,” the bishop said.
“He remembers every sin but gives us a chance to re-build ourselves without strings attached. He does so by generously, wildly maybe even recklessly loving us.”
The bishop said that one of the most poignant conversations he ever had took place when he began his first parish assignment at St. Jude Parish in Canarsie after returning from studies in Rome.
A woman came to him broken and distressed because she had been deeply betrayed by family and friends.
The bishop recalled “the honest human struggle this woman had to trying to do what the Lord asked… forgive those who had hurt and betrayed her so deeply.”
In the midst of her tears and resignation, she said to him in a whisper, “Fr. Frank, I will do my best to forgive, but I’m not sure I can forget.”
“Forgiveness is not an emotional response,” said the bishop. “It is an act of the will, a choice you make to give someone a new beginning, another chance.”
Forgiveness doesn’t condone what happened or excuse the hurt or sin committed, but it offers the other a fresh start if people are willing to change their lives, he said.
“God is always ready to forgive us, so who are we not to give it to our neighbors and friends and those who have hurt us?” he asked.
The bishop said that people feel the relief of no longer carrying the burden when they are forgiven, but the choice to forgive “is ours to make.”
“The challenge as we go through the coming week is that there are people in your life and mine where we have forgiven but not forgotten—forgiven but held on to the strings just in case,” he said.
“The lord asks us to forgive from the heart. For if He, the father, is willing to forgive us from his divine heart, shouldn’t we do the same for our neighbor?”
In brief remarks following Mass, Bishop Caggiano urged Catholics throughout the diocese to join in the “conversation about the conversation on race” that will be held online this Thursday.
“The diocese has been engaged in online conversations about the presence of racism in our midst, and the evil and sinfulness that needs to be identified and rooted out. In the conversation we will break open what we have learned so far, so that we will be prepared to answer the hard questions about where we will go from here,” he said.
Conversations about Race: The webinar series, features talks by teachers and pastoral ministers, began on July 30. The talks are live-streamed at 1 pm each Thursday and then rebroadcast at 7 pm each evening, with a question and answer sessions moderated by a member of the diocesan ad hoc committee against racism. (To view a recording of previous webinars, visit this page and click “previous webinars: https://formationreimagined.org/events-home/.)
Bishop’s Online Mass: The Bishop’s Sunday Mass is released online every Sunday morning at 8 a.m. and available for replay throughout the day. To view the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, recorded and published weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.