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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.

Click here to view the live stream.

An ongoing conversation

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

Creation must be protected, not exploited, pope says at audience

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.

By Junno Arocho Esteves from

Pope thanks elderly, ill priests for witness

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


Pastoral urges Catholics to draw closer to God

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,, 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.”

By | Catholic News Service

St. Catherine of Siena hosts 4th annual kickoff weekend

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:

Decree on Old Saint Patrick Church, Redding

The Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano
By the Grace of God and the Authority of the Apostolic See
Bishop of Bridgeport

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.

Prayers of remembrance and forgiveness at the Site of the Unborn

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

Immaculate High School returns to school

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:

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.

New book ponders ‘Silent Sufferings of Mary’

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”:

  1. “I will grant peace to their families.”
  2. “They will be enlightened about the divine mysteries.”
  3. “I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.”
  4. “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.”
  5. “I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy, and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.”
  6. “I will visibly help them at the moment of their death—they will see the face of their mother.”
  7. “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:

  1. The prophecy of Simeon
  2. The flight into Egypt
  3. The loss of Jesus for three days in the Temple
  4. Meeting Jesus on his way to Calvary
  5. Jesus’ crucifixion and death
  6. Jesus is taken down from the cross
  7. 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 or or write to Apostolate for the Dying, P. O. Box 38-9185 Cincinnati, OH 45238)

St. Mark School in Stratford welcomes students to in-person classes

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 or call 203.375.4291.

Christian forgiveness has no strings attached

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:

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.

‘Restless’ Podcasts and Videos Reach Out to Young Adult Catholics

More than 1600 years ago, a proud, brilliant young man who thought he had everything realized he had nothing. He had friends, women, wealth and prestige, and still his heart was restless … because he didn’t have God.

That man, Augustine of Hippo, a pagan who became one of the Church’s greatest saints, said, “O Lord, our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.”

That spiritual restlessness still afflicts young people today in an age when we look to worldly pleasures and pursuits to satisfy a longing that only God can satisfy, says Father Joseph Gill of the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist, who with a group of young adults developed a podcast and video series titled “Restless” to bring them closer to God and explore issues that touch their lives in modern society.

“We are reaching out to young people through podcasts and videos because this is their language,” Father Gill said.

The Restless project was made possible by a St. John Paul II Fund grant from Foundations in Faith, which is supported by the We Stand With Christ capital campaign. Restless will be broadcast on Veritas Catholic Network at WNLK-AM 1350 radio and be made available as a podcast at

Father Gill will moderate discussions with three young people from Stamford and Greenwich — Lauren Doyle, Diane Kremheller and Javier Tremaria — as they explore such topics as evangelizing in the workplace and navigating the single life with an eye toward marriage. The show is expected to begin airing this October.

=The Restless podcast is being recorded every Tuesday night at a studio Veritas set up in the basement at St. John’s. When Father Gill first arrived at the Basilica a year and a half ago, he had an idea to start a podcast and spoke to Kremheller, a co-founder of Catholic Adventures Stamford, a group for young adults in their 20s and 30s who have an interest in “building community and fellowship” with other Catholic young adults.

“People have had a lot of spare time on their hands during the shutdown, and they are using podcasts to get spiritual nourishment,” he said.

Themes they will explore include Catholics in political life, Catholic dating, how to read the Bible, Christian friendship and incorporating faith into sports.

Father, who acts as moderator, said of his three colleagues, “They are definitely devout, and more than that, they are articulate about their faith and not afraid to share. They are also very ‘normal’ with real struggles and real joys. They work in the secular world and are respected and well-liked by everybody.”

The Restless project is intended to help young adults on their faith journey.

=“It could be one avenue through which the Gospel reaches souls,” he said. “And it is meant for those young adult Catholics who want to go deeper into their faith. A lot of faithful young people feel isolated because there are not too many young adult groups in the area.

The podcasts, which will be 30 minutes long, will be available on Veritas and Spotify, a global digital music, podcast and video streaming service.

Steve Lee, President and CEO of Veritas, said he is excited about the new show, particularly at a time when young people are moving away from organized religion.

“Young adults are leaving the Church, and they don’t even understand what they’re leaving and why,” he said. “I met the young adults Father is working with and heard them do a mock show, and I was very impressed.”

The Restless video series has as its goal to produce faith-filled artistic expression. “People are attracted to God through beauty, truth and goodness,” Father said. “And we are looking at the way of beauty.”

He cited the example of Bishop Robert Barron’s series on Catholicism, which he said people watch over and over because of its profound message and captivating cinematography. Rather than having “talking heads,” Restless will feature different speakers and stunning video. A young volunteer who is accomplished in videography is editing the series, which will explore topics such as devotion to the Blessed Mother, the importance of confession and the meaning of life.

“It is meant for people who are seekers, people who are hungry and thirsty and want to dip their toe into Catholicism,” Father said. “My hope is that it will be used in Confirmation classes and CCD.

The videos will be uploaded to YouTube. In addition, Shalom World TV, a 24-hour television channel that broadcasts Catholic programs, has expressed interest in using the series. The 20 videos, which will be five to seven minutes long, are expected to be completed by spring and begin airing once a week in May.

Kelly Weldon, Director of Foundations in Faith, which approved a grant for the project from the St. John Paul II Fund for Religious Education, Youth Ministry and Faith Formation, said, “It is really a great project, and we are super excited about it.”

“I came to Foundations in Faith with a deep passion for giving young people the opportunity to really use their voice to create positive change, and Bishop Caggiano shares that interest,” Weldon said. “And there’s no better way to engage them than letting them design the program they’re participating in. Our young people know what they need. We seldom ask them what they want. This project is an excellent example of how as a community we can learn from our young people.”

Dr. Marcia Chatelain: An embrace of social justice is an embrace of faith

BRIDGEPORT—”I hope that my talk today can help you bring home some of the strands of the conversation and hopefully give you the vocabulary to share the information within your parishes, schools and community,” said Dr. Marcia Chatelain, the presenter of the seventh of several webinars titled “Conversations About Race” being hosted by The Leadership Institute, the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism and the Apostolate for Black Catholics.

“I think a lot about the Lenten season when I think about the issue of racism,” said Dr. Chatelain, explaining how living antiracism is connected to one of the most impactful stories of the New Testament.

Dr. Chatelain compared white supremacy to the story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11). “A similar bargain has been put before many people and it is the reason why white supremacy continues to sustain itself and take on many forms. We are often told that we will have the very best, the best financial rewards, schools, opportunities for our children if we bow before some of the tenets and values of white supremacy,” Dr. Chatelain said.

Dr. Chatelain explained that racism is the externalization of the contempt for people because of their racial identity by withholding care, justice or safety; stating that racism is an obstruction of the ability to facilitate and receive these things.

“We are in a moment right now where people feel deeply compelled to pick sides,” said Dr. Chatelain. “One of the reasons why I think this is happening because we have never before had the ability to chronicle who we are in specific moments as we do now,” she referenced social media and our current ability to access information in a way that is quicker and more available than ever before.

“Regardless of where we stand on a position there are structures in place that normalize inequality in the places that are designed to meet health, housing, nutritional, educational, legal and social needs of people,” the speaker said. “What are we allowing in our society to obstruct people from feeling as cared for and loved as the creator has cared for and loved us?”

Dr. Chatelain explained that bias is an unfounded or narrowly dawn preference or affinity for people or peoples at the expense of building substantive and loving relationships with others.

“Especially now, I think we see the importance and human need of community,” she said. “When it comes to racism, we see our immense power to actually intervene in these problems,” said Chatelain, specifically referencing the Church and its great power to create change, especially in light of its great diversity.

Dr. Chatelain explained that segregation is the result of structural racism and interpersonal racism and it shapes all aspects of American life, from school to neighborhood to church.

“Racial scripts comprise what our families, schools, churches, neighborhoods, political parties and other influential entities teach us about difference, human value and acceptable behavior,” explained Dr. Chatelain, making clear that these scripts are sometimes not explicitly written but are enforced by the community we live in.

“We are a faith tradition that is based on renewal,” Dr. Chatelain said. “We have to have the confidence that our faith will pull us through any tension we feel while standing up for racial justice.”

Dr. Chatelain explained that race shapes how people view and perceive the world around them, especially in reference to feelings of freedom and fear, and expression and understanding of faith.

Chatelain also explained that Catholics are very active when it comes to service, especially prison ministry. She urged listeners of the importance of taking this service and turning it into action in terms of great systemic change.

“So much of the work is about a kind of reflection process,” Dr. Chatelain urged listeners to speak from a place of personal experience when discussing racial justice.

About Dr. Marcia Chatelain 

Marcia Chatelain is currently a Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor of History and African American Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Previously, she was a Reach for Excellence Assistant Professor of Honors and African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.  She is a proud native of Chicago, Illinois, and an even prouder graduate of the following schools: St. Ignatius College Prep, the University of Missouri-Columbia (bachelor’s journalism/religious studies), and Brown University (A.M. and Ph.D., American Civilization).  She is a scholar of African-American life and culture, and her first book South Side Girls: Growing up in the Great Migration (Duke University Press, 2015) reimagined the mass exodus of black Southerners to the urban North from the perspective of girls and teenage women. Dr. Chatelain’s latest book, Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America examines the intersection of the post-1968 civil rights struggle and the rise of fast food industry.

Next Thursday at 7 pm, The Leadership Institute will be hosting a conversation about the conversations facilitated by the diocesan Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. In this final webinar, listeners will have the opportunity to discuss what differences we can make in our parishes, schools and communities based on the previous webinar conversations.

(Visit for more information.)

Sept. 11, 2001: When John Paul II Grieved With America

VATICAN CITY — As three airliners smashed into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, and Flight 93 crashed into a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001, Joaquín Navarro-Valls, at the time the director of the Vatican press office, delivered the news to Pope John Paul II.

“I remember that terrible afternoon as if it were yesterday. I called the Pope, who was at Castel Gandolfo; I gave him the news. He was shocked not only by the tragedy itself, but also because he could not explain how man could achieve this abyss of evil,” he recalled in a 2011 interview with Vatican Insider.

John Paul II, who had grown up to watch his native Poland overtaken first by Nazis and then by the Soviets, and who as pope navigated the dangerous international waters of the Cold War, was no stranger to tragedy and war.

Still, the terror attacks on the United States shook him deeply.

“He was deeply shaken, saddened. But I remember that he asked himself how so heinous an attack could happen. His dismay, in front of those images, went beyond pain,” Navarro-Valls recalled.

“He stayed for short time in front of the TV. Then he retired to the chapel, which is only a few steps away from the TV room. And he remained there a long time in prayer. He also wanted to get in touch with George Bush, to communicate his support, his pain, his prayer. But it was not possible to contact the president, who, for security reasons, was flying on Air Force One.”

Instead, Pope John Paul II decided to send his message of condolences and assurance of prayers via telegram and was among the first of the world leaders to do so that day.

“I hurry to express to you and your fellow citizens my profound sorrow and my closeness in prayer for the nation at this dark and tragic moment,” the Pope wrote.

In a 2011 article in the Register, James Nicholson, who was the new U.S. ambassador to the Holy See in 2001, recalled his first meeting with John Paul II, just two days after the terror attacks.

“The first thing the Pope said to me was how sorry he felt for my country, which had just been attacked, and how sad it made him feel. We next said a prayer together for the victims and their families.”

“Then the Pope said something very profound and very revealing of his acute grasp of international terrorism. He said, ‘Ambassador Nicholson, this was an attack, not just on the United States, but on all of humanity.’ And then he added, ‘We must stop these people who kill in the name of God.’”

Sept. 11, 2001, was a Tuesday.

The next day, Wednesday, is when the Pope is scheduled each week to address the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

While John Paul II normally used this as a time for catechesis on the family or other issues, he set everything aside on Sept. 12 to address the tragedy from which the world was still reeling.

Below is the full text of his words to the United States:

I cannot begin this audience without expressing my profound sorrow at the terrorist attacks which yesterday brought death and destruction to America, causing thousands of victims and injuring countless people. To the president of the United States and to all American citizens, I express my heartfelt sorrow. In the face of such unspeakable horror, we cannot but be deeply disturbed. I add my voice to all the voices raised in these hours to express indignant condemnation, and I strongly reiterate that the ways of violence will never lead to genuine solutions to humanity’s problems.

Yesterday was a dark day in the history of humanity, a terrible affront to human dignity. After receiving the news, I followed with intense concern the developing situation, with heartfelt prayers to the Lord. How is it possible to commit acts of such savage cruelty? The human heart has depths from which schemes of unheard-of ferocity sometimes emerge, capable of destroying in a moment the normal daily life of a people. But faith comes to our aid at these times when words seem to fail. Christ’s word is the only one that can give a response to the questions which trouble our spirit. Even if the forces of darkness appear to prevail, those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say. Christian hope is based on this truth; at this time our prayerful trust draws strength from it.

With deeply felt sympathy I address myself to the beloved people of the United States in this moment of distress and consternation, when the courage of so many men and women of goodwill is being sorely tested. In a special way I reach out to the families of the dead and the injured and assure them of my spiritual closeness. I entrust to the mercy of the Most High the helpless victims of this tragedy, for whom I offered Mass this morning, invoking upon them eternal rest. May God give courage to the survivors; may he sustain the rescue workers and the many volunteers who are presently making an enormous effort to cope with such an immense emergency. I ask you, dear brothers and sisters, to join me in prayer for them. Let us beg the Lord that the spiral of hatred and violence will not prevail. May the Blessed Virgin, Mother of Mercy, fill the hearts of all with wise thoughts and peaceful intentions.

Today, my heartfelt sympathy is with the American people, subjected yesterday to inhuman terrorist attacks, which have taken the lives of thousands of innocent human beings and caused unspeakable sorrow in the hearts of all men and women of goodwill. Yesterday was indeed a dark day in our history, an appalling offence against peace, a terrible assault against human dignity.

I invite you all to join me in commending the victims of this shocking tragedy to Almighty God’s eternal love. Let us implore his comfort upon the injured, the families involved, all who are doing their utmost to rescue survivors and help those affected.

I ask God to grant the American people the strength and courage they need at this time of sorrow and trial.

Below is the full text of Pope John Paul II’s prayers for the faithful and intentions on Sept. 12, 2001:

Brothers and sisters, in great dismay, before the horror of destructive violence, but strong in the faith that has always guided our fathers, we turn to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, salvation of his people, and with the confidence of children, pray that he will come to our aid in these days of mourning and innocent suffering.

Cantor: Dominum deprecemur: Te rogamus, audi nos (Let us pray to the Lord: We beseech thee, to hear us),

1. For the Churches of the East and the West, and in particular for the Church in the United States of America, so that, though humbled by loss and mourning, yet inspired by the Mother of the Lord, strong woman beside the cross of her Son, they may foster the will for reconciliation, peace and the building of the civilization of love.

2. For all those who bear the name of Christian, so that, in the midst of many persons who are tempted to hatred and doubt, they will be witnesses to the presence of God in history and the victory of Christ over death.

3. For the leaders of nations, so that they will not allow themselves to be guided by hatred and the spirit of retaliation, but may do everything possible to prevent new hatred and death, by bringing forth works of peace.

4. For those who are weeping in sorrow over the loss of relatives and friends, that in this hour of suffering they will not be overcome by sadness, despair and vengeance, but continue to have faith in the victory of good over evil, of life over death.

5. For those suffering and wounded by the terrorist acts, that they may return to stability and health and, appreciating the gift of life, may generously foster the will to contribute to the well-being of every human being.

6. For our brothers and sisters who met death in the folly of violence, that they find sure joy and life everlasting in the peace of the Lord, that their deaths may not be in vain, but become a leaven bringing forth a season of brotherhood and collaboration among peoples.

The Holy Father:

O Lord Jesus, remember our deceased and suffering brothers before your Father.
Remember us also, as we begin to pray with your words: Pater noster…

O almighty and merciful God,
You cannot be understood by one who sows discord; you cannot be accepted by one who loves violence. Look upon our painful human condition tried by cruel acts of terror and death; comfort your children and open our hearts to hope, so that our time may again know days of serenity and peace.
Through Christ, our Lord.

This is a reposting from 2015. From