Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

Update from St. Rose of Lima School

NEWTOWN—St. Rose School is off to a safe, strong and sustaining mode with their preschool-8th grade classes running full time, on-site. Teachers and students are motivated and parents continue to be supportive which creates a bonded community.

During these different times, some outreaches really stand out. This week, one school family, who have a daughter in 8th grade and an alumna daughter, donated hundreds of pumpkins to the school.   

On Sunday, October 18, they spent the afternoon creating pumpkin patches around the school grounds with the help of several 8th-grade students. On Monday morning preschool, kindergarten, first and second graders had time to run through their own designated pumpkin patches to find and pick their pumpkins. Tying a lesson into the outing, each child was given a colored shape or number to match to a pumpkin.  This way every child felt accomplished and it limited the pumpkin handling.  What joy this act of kindness brought to the littlest learners and teachers at a time when they could not take their traditional trip to the pumpkin patch, the pumpkin patch was brought to them!

Another notable moment came yesterday when a Mom made a special, “on-screen” visit to the first-grade classroom to read a story in honor of her daughter’s birthday. Parent participation is such a big part of St. Rose School life; it’s nice that they can continue to connect, even from a distance.

About St. Rose School

St. Rose of Lima Catholic School is a Christ-centered community committed to academic excellence in an atmosphere that nurtures the spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical and moral development of each child.

The dedicated staff partners with families to prepare students to be responsible leaders in a global society by fostering integrity, service and respect. By creating a sense of family where all are welcome, St. Rose School encourages each child to develop his/her gifts and to become Christ’s compassionate heart and hands in the world. Their learning community is centered on four core values. These are: respect, integrity, academic excellence and service.

The community’s spirituality is fostered through close connection with St. Rose of Lima Church. Students attend weekly Mass and we are blessed by the continual presence of Monsignor Robert Weiss and the other parish priests.

40 Hours at The Cathedral Parish

BRIDGEPORT—The Cathedral Parish will be holding 40 Hours devotion this Thursday, October 22 through Saturday, October 24 at St. Patrick Church in Bridgeport.

It is period of public exposition of the Blessed Sacrament to allow and encourage members of the parish and larger community to gather in prayer to adore and offer petitions.

Part of the history of the devotion was to hold it during troubled times and encourage petition of Almighty God for assistance.

The 40 Hours will begin with a Solemn Mass of the Holy Eucharist at 7 pm on Thursday, followed by a procession and exposition. Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament will continue until Saturday morning and the concluding Mass of the Holy Eucharist at 9 am and continue uninterrupted, except possibly for the Mass on Friday evening. The church will remain open for the duration of the 40 Hours.

More information can be found at www.thecathedralparish.org/40hours.

You can also signup there if you wished to commit to an hour of prayer or signup to serve as security and help provide an extra set of eyes, although we do not expect any problems. The parish recently acquired a camera security system to help with monitoring and to provide a safe space to gather for prayer, worship and adoration.

A Mass for Peace (Missa Pro Pace) will be offered on Friday evening at 7 pm to ask for the Lord’s mercy and help. There will also be other opportunities to pray the Divine Office, Holy Rosary and more.

If you have any questions, you can contact Father Novajosky at frnovajosky@diobpt.org or by text at: 203.450.9102 or call the office at: 203.368.6777.

St. Greg’s ‘Forest of Fear’ a fun Halloween attraction

DANBURY—Wearing masks—both decorative and real—hundreds of people ventured into the woods behind St. Gregory the Great Parish for a socially-distanced night of fear-induced fun.

The second annual “Forest of Fear,” a quarter mile wooded trail of the hair-raising unexpected is filled with thrills and shrills for all who dare to enter the Great Plain Road Halloween attraction.

“Kids need to have fun,” said Pastor Father Michael Dunn, as he greeted visitors arriving on opening night. “It’s a big fundraiser, too.”

Last year, thousands visited the event which raised about $20,000 for the parish including scholarships for St. Gregory School. It was such a success, that this year more attractions were added. Father Dunn said they also extended the event by one night and increased the entrance fee to $15 per person.

“It’s very professionally done,” said Father Dunn, who worked with Gene McNamara, Bob Novella and Dave Knight to design and develop the Forest of Fear. McNamara is a parishioner and was involved in creating a popular corn maze in the neighboring town of Brookfield, years ago.

Father Dunn said he has fond family memories of Halloween and this is an opportunity to help create those kinds of memories for other families while also benefiting the parish.

“My dad used to take us around as kids to Halloween attractions. I remember how fun it was as a kid and there’s not a lot of fun things for kids to do nowadays with the pandemic,” he said.

Father Dunn, who created a similar experience during his time at St. Mary’s in Bethel, said the effort is a parish and community collaboration with parish members and community businesses donating money or props to create the spooky experience.

The elaborate wooded trail, which took months to construct, promises to be quite a treat for anyone looking for a safe environment for some Halloween fun.

All safety guidelines and precautions were followed in accordance with the Diocese of Bridgeport.

All volunteers were temperature screened prior to participating in the event and for contact tracing purposes. Protective face coverings are required for all guests and are always worn by all staff.

The event also enforces social distancing, in queue lines as well as inside the Forest of Fear. Groups can walk the trail together but no groups are combined and attendees must maintain at least six feet from the group in front of them.

Sanitizing stations are available and there is a separate entrance and exit both decorated with pumpkins carved by students at the school.

“Some people get scared and want to run through the trail, others get scared and freeze in place,” said Terry Kennen, a secretary at the school and one of the many volunteers who make the Forest of Fear a success.

Kennen, dressed as a spider greeted guests to the event, reassuring youngsters and their families that the trail is a lot of fun and only gets truly scary when the sun goes down.

During the first hour of the five-night three weekend event, children, some wearing their Halloween best including little princesses, action heroes and monsters and their families or anyone who prefers a “no-scare” experience, are greeted by friendly ghouls and goblins waving and smiling to greet them. Following the children’s hour, the trail lives up to its name.

Visitors can expect to walk through a corn maze with scarecrows and gruesome monsters lurking about, find an abandoned cabin with the unexpected inside and, of course, a Forest of Fear would not be complete without a fog-filled graveyard of the unknown. Leaves rustling underfoot, the cackle of a witch in the distance and bone-chilling screams are all a part of the Forest of Fear.

The creativity of illusions with the appropriate accompanying eerie sounds or music will trick the mind during this walk through the woods. It is quite the treat.

“It’s something fun, given the pandemic right now,” said John Esposito, Danbury Councilman, who was attending the event with his family.

Father Dunn, who initially greeted visitors as they arrived and who helped create the non-traditional corn maze portion of the trail, vanished to get into costume to play an active part in the Forest of Fear.

Children were huddled together trying to figure out which costumed character was their teacher as they entered the trail with nervous laughter of anticipation.

“We went last year in the kid version, so we thought we’d try something different and go at night,” said eighth-grader Holden Hafkimeyer, who was waiting in line with his brother and brother’s friend.

Fifth-grader Shayleigh Barrett enjoyed the trail especially the clowns, the corn maze and the one of a kind stuffed animal freaky feature.

“I’m always surprised about the effort,” said Shayleigh’s mom, Suzanne said. “It’s all church members and school members who volunteer their time. It’s totally worth bringing the family for Halloween.”

NOTE: The Forest of Fear is open this weekend Friday and Saturday, October 23 and 24 and Friday, October 30.

Tickets are sold on-site. The cost is $15 per person.

5:30 pm – 6:30 pm: Children’s Hour

6:30 pm – 9:00 pm : Scary

Five deacon candidates elevated to Ministry of Reader

BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano urged five candidates for the permanent diaconate to proclaim the Word of God to a “world that runs from the Truth,” during a Mass at which they were installed in the ministry of reader, a major step in their formation as deacons.

As readers of God’s Word, they will be able to proclaim it in a liturgical assembly, instruct children and adults in the faith, and prepare them to receive the sacraments. This is a milestone for the men who are discerning the vocation of deacon.

“Be a humble servant of the Truth, for the Truth itself has the power, not you and not me,” Bishop Caggiano said in his homily at St. Augustine Cathedral. “Open your hearts in charity when you teach. Be humble before the mystery that is greater than all of us combined, and allow charity to always animate what you do in service of the Lord for he will allow you to bear great fruit.”

He thanked the men for their perseverance, and their families for the sacrifices they have made so the candidates, as husbands and fathers, could be involved in the formation program.

“Allow me to begin by offering my sincere thanks to you for persevering in formation in these very difficult, challenging and unpredictable times,” he said. “It is the calling God has given to all of us to meander this world, and I am deeply grateful that you have persevered in the call you have discerned in your heart and that the Lord has brought you to — your call to come into the great mystery of the Sacrament of Service as leaven in the Body of Christ.”

The candidates were Rock Desances of Saint Margaret Shrine, Bridgeport; Christopher Greer of Saint Luke Parish, Westport; George Kain of Saint Mary Parish, Ridgefield; James Meehan of Assumption Parish, Westport; and Vincent Pia of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys Parish, Brookfield.

Bishop Caggiano told them that service takes many forms and that during the Institution of Ministry of Reader “God will grant you the grace of the Holy Spirit to dedicate yourselves to one of the three great charisms—the “Munera” of the office you will one day possess.”

This service to the Word of God was described by St. Paul as a two-edged sword because “it brings life and it also brings clarity of conversion of life to those who do not follow the Truth.”

To be a servant of the Word, Bishop Caggiano said, “is to dedicate yourself to discover the Truth, who is Someone, not something—the one who calls you will also in his holy word begin to open your minds and your hearts and your hands to be servants of the Truth.”

He added: “It is a call to enter into a living, breathing, ever-more deeply personal relationship with the Lord Jesus so that he can whisper in the quiet of night into your hearts what the Truth asks of you and the people you will serve…. For the world out there runs from the Truth; the world out there is afraid of the Truth, and we must be messengers of the Truth so that the world, you and I may find our path to eternal life.”

Deacon Jerry Lambert, Director of the Diaconate, said, “The Institution in the Ministry of Reader is a significant milestone along the four-and-a-half-year journey toward ordination.  Our five candidates have begun their third year of studies and discernment.  As they continue their journey, they will grow and strive for balance among the human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral dimensions of their diaconate formation.”

Within a year, the candidates will be installed as acolytes and receive the grace to enter into the second charism, which is to serve at the altar. Bishop Caggiano said it is more than a functionary rite. “It is to bring the hopes and dreams and suffering of God’s people into the one sacrifice which Christ offers for all eternity in which you and I have salvation,” he said.

There is no installation for the third charism, the Bishop explained. “That is not by mistake,” he said. “The truth is that Word and Sacrament exist for the sake of charity, which is the third of the great services you will live. For charity is God’s life, and service should animate everything you do in all aspects of your life—those that are extraordinary, pulpit and altar, and those that are ordinary, which is the rest of your life.”

“As you come here today to be installed as lector, allow me to remind you that all that you will do in service of the Word is also in service of the charity that you must give to your neighbor,” he said. “The Word of God is not to be a bludgeon to be beaten over people’s heads. It is the sweet divine invitation that God’s people can have their hearts expanded so they discover God’s love and share that love with their own neighbors and those they meet.”

During the institution, Bishop Caggiano called each candidate forward and as they knelt before him and held the Bible, he said, “Take this book of Holy Scripture and be faithful in handing on the Word of God, so that it may grow strong in the heart of his people.”

He told the five candidates: “Brothers, thank you for coming here and for standing to be installed as lectors. May God continue to bless your formational journey in times of triumph and in times of great sacrifice. Both will come your way, and I promise you my prayers, as I do each day, that God will bring to fulfillment what he has called you to do from the moment you were conceived—to be his deacon, to be his servant of the Word, altar and charity, and to be the leaven in the world, to transform it into the image of the Lord so that we may all walk together as sisters and brothers until eternal life.”

The candidates who were instituted as readers were:

Christopher Greer of Westport, who received his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has worked as a development consultant as well as a professional sports photographer. He is a member of St. Luke’s in Westport along with his wife Kristine and their two children, Kassidy and Kevin. He is involved in the adult choir as a cantor/soloist, a member of the men’s group and an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.

George Kain of Ridgefield, who holds a Ph.d. in Criminal Justice from the City University of New York. He has worked as a university professor and chairman in the Division of Justice and Law Administration at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury for 25 years and served as police commissioner for the Town of Ridgefield for 20 years. He is a member of St. Mary’s in Ridgefield along with his wife Marilyn. He has served as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion (as well as a homebound minister to the sick), a cantor, usher, altar server and RCIA instructor. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus, an adoration chapel volunteer, a member of the Disciples for Life Parish Retreat Team and men’s ministry. He is father of daughter Grace and grandfather of Mercy.

James Meehan of Westport, who holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from City University of New York. He has been the owner/operator of several businesses for historical window restoration, home heating oil delivery and heating/air conditioning. He and his wife Athina attend Church of the Assumption in Westport, along with their children Christopher, Andrew and Christina. At Assumption, Meehan serves as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and reader, coordinating both ministries. He also serves in the elderly/homebound ministry, acts as financial secretary for the Knights of Columbus and is a volunteer coordinator at the Thomas Merton Center.

Rock Desances and his wife Mireille attend St. Margaret Shrine parish in Bridgeport, along with their five children. Desances serves as an usher, reader, altar server and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus and has worked as  dietetic assistant, food manager and health care assistant.

Vincent Pia who has worked as a writer, photographer, professional picture framer and art conservator. He is a member of St. Marguerite Bourgeouys in Brookfield, with his wife Holly and children Caitlynn and Brandon. He is active in the parish, serving as a reader/lector, an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, altar server, parish Rosary leader, adult faith formation facilitator, a member of the Knights of Columbus (having previously served as both officer and director) and a former member of the choir.


 

Immaculate High School’s Annual Fall Open House Held on October 18

DANBURY—Immaculate High School in Danbury welcomed 75 families to their campus this past Sunday, October 18, with precautions in place due to COVID-19. After originally planning on six tours over the two-hour event, the admissions team added four more tour slots to allow other interested prospective families an opportunity to see the school.

“While we had to adjust from our traditional larger open house event, we were able to host thirty-minute tours to allow families to experience our campus in a safe, socially distant way,” said Denise Suarez, director of admissions.

Prospective families learned about Immaculate’s innovative and certification programs including engineering, graphic arts, computer programming and nursing as well as its vast AP and Early College Education offerings in Fine Arts, Socials Studies, Math, English, Business and Science. The campus tours included the school’s new Fitness Center, state-of-the-art Physics, Biology and Chemistry labs and renovated Chapel.

Immaculate’s rigorous academic programs have led to a 100% college acceptance rate and over $30 million earned in scholarships and grants for the Class of 2020. Immaculate was recently ranked #10 out of 284 schools in Connecticut as “Best for Athletes” by Niche, and its theatre program has earned over 70 Halo Award nominations resulting in 14 wins in just the last four years.

Interested families who were not able to make it to the in-person open house are invited to attend a virtual open house on November 1 from 2-4 pm. To access this event, please register at www.immaculatehs.org/openhouse. If you have any questions regarding the admissions process, please contact Denise Suarez, Director of Admissions, 203.744.1510 x148 or admissions@myimmaculatehs.org.

The Pumpkin Patch Project

FAIRFIELD—As fall arrives, Saint Catherine Center for Special Needs’ months-long pumpkin patch project is coming to completion. Students have used their observational skills, counting and measuring, some basic botany and, of course, teamwork. The project has helped students become more aware of the seasons and their connection to the growing cycle.

The project is the brainstorm of Patty Loh, one of the Academy teachers. “In summer school I thought it would be fun to study the life cycle of pumpkins,” she said. “I bought the tray of seeds; we planted them, and within a week we had sprouts. The students were all excited.”

The whole school got involved, with each class engaged in various activities. Mrs. Loh’s class started with the basics. What is a seed? When is the best time to plant a seed? How do you help it grow?

She created a bulletin board illustrating the growing cycle and filling in the specific timeline of the Saint Catherine project. Her students worked on their calendar skills, connecting the names of the months with the number of the month on the timeline and identifying the stages of growth from photos.

Mrs. LaPorta’s class conducted some “pumpkin investigation” each Wednesday afternoon, noting what they saw, answering specific questions about size and color, and reinforcing what they saw by coloring worksheets. In Sr. Cheryl’s class, students created Pumpkin Patch journals, in which they recorded the number of plants and blossoms they observed, measured vines, and studied the planting timeline.

Like all scientific experiments, the results do not always come out as hoped. It is likely that we planted our seedlings too late for pumpkins to be harvested this fall. That is great information, and Mrs. Loh plans to talk with her class about what they can do to make sure that we have pumpkins next year.

However, all this didn’t stop a certain parent “Pumpkin Wizard” from dropping off a few full-grown pumpkins in the patch! Just for fun, of course.

‘One of our own’ about to be beatified

WATERBURY, Conn. (CNS) — Msgr. John J. Bevins has been praying a long time that a miracle would be attributed to the intercession of Father Michael J. McGivney and move him one step closer to sainthood.

“I’ve been praying I would live long enough to see it,” he said. “I was elated. We are praying harder now for the second miracle of canonization.”

The miracle needed for Father McGivney’s beatification was approved by the Vatican last May. The founder of the Knights of Columbus will be beatified Oct. 31 during a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford, Connecticut.

He will be the first U.S. parish priest to be beatified and will be given the title “Blessed.”

Msgr. Bevins, who served as pastor of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Waterbury from 1991 to 2014, said he holds “great pride” that a man considered for sainthood walked the streets of Waterbury. “I have great pride in the city,” he said. “Here, one of our own was raised.”

Waterbury was once a city of parishes where hundreds of thousands of Catholics attended church and were educated in the teachings of the church — and where many vocations are said to have originated.

One of those vocations was for Father McGivney, the son of Irish immigrants, who was born in Waterbury. He attended local schools and developed his faith at Immaculate Conception Church, now the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, where he was baptized, received the sacraments and said his first Mass as an ordained priest.

In the basilica office, Msgr. Bevins proudly showed a copy of Father McGivney’s baptismal record that hangs on a wall and a statue of Father McGivney that used to be located in the now-closed St. Mary School, which merged in 2018 with another Catholic school to form the Catholic Academy of Waterbury.

“Father McGivney was baptized here, which shows that anyone can be a saint too. … This is great for the people of Waterbury,” the monsignor told the Catholic Transcript, the monthly magazine of the Archdiocese of Hartford.

Father McGivney was ordained Dec. 22, 1877, and a few days later, he said his first Mass at Immaculate Conception Church. His first assignment was as assistant pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in New Haven. Established in 1832, St. Mary’s Parish is the oldest Catholic church in New Haven and the second oldest in Connecticut.

Father McGivney served at St. Mary’s from 1877 to 1884, and it was there he founded the Knights as a service organization to help widows and orphans.

When they heard the news of the pope had approved this first miracle in his cause, Dominican friars from St. Mary’s Parish gathered at the rear of the church to pray around Father McGivney’s bronze coffin, which is inside a polished granite sarcophagus.

On March 29, 1982, 100 years after Father McGivney founded the Knights and 92 years after he was buried in the McGivney family plot at Old St. Joseph Cemetery in Waterbury, his remains were reentombed at St. Mary’s Church.

The McGivney family gave permission for his reentombment, because that March, during the centennial observance of the official founding of the Knights of Columbus, early plans were made to consider opening his sainthood cause. In December 1997, Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin, then head of the Hartford Archdiocese, officially opened his cause.

The Vatican made its announcement about the miracle attributed to Father McGivney’s intercession at 6 a.m. (Eastern Time) May 27, and by 6:45 a.m., Father John Paul Walker, pastor, received a call from Rome for an interview.

“It was elation, many of us had been hoping for this moment and praying for it,” Father Walker told the Catholic Transcript. “There is a sense of confidence now, to have that personal sense given a definitive approval by the church.”

The approved miracle involved the cure five years earlier of a U.S. baby, still in utero, with a life-threatening condition that, under most circumstances, could have led to an abortion. In general, a second verified miracle attributed to the sainthood candidate’s intercession is needed for canonization.

During Mass at St. Mary’s, parishioners have been reciting the “Prayer for the Canonization of Father McGivney” for several years.

“People are thrilled,” Father Walker said. “People are super-excited.”

Father Walker said he prays to Father McGivney for the parish and that he himself may be a good shepherd to the people he serves. “This is a reinforcement of this sense we’ve had that we are living in the presence of a saint,” he added. “He poured himself out for the people he was serving.”

After St. Mary’s Parish, Father McGivney’s next appointment was as the second resident pastor of St. Thomas Church in Thomaston, Connecticut, now part of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish. His assignment included a mission church, Immaculate Conception Church in Terryville, that opened for Mass Nov. 5, 1882.

“The legacy he leaves behind is something you keep building on,” said Father Joseph Crowley, pastor of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish. “The shoes are very big to fill. Personal holiness is something you have to work at every day.”

Father McGivney’s presence is not forgotten at St. Thomas or at Immaculate Conception: Both churches are adorned with paintings of him. The churches also each have several registers of baptismal and marriage records signed by Father McGivney that bring him closer to the parishioners.

“I preach about him,” Father Crowley said of Father McGivney, adding the parish is in a unique situation given one of its former pastors is being beatified. “What a great foundation for the church and the Archdiocese of Hartford.”

Father McGivney fell ill with tuberculosis and was later stricken with pneumonia. He was eventually confined to a bed in the Thomaston rectory where he died Aug. 14, 1890, two days past his 38th birthday.

“Standing in the same church he was in is rather exciting,” said Father Gerald Dziedzic, former pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Terryville.

Originally from Terryville, Father Dziedzic said he often wondered how Father McGivney used to travel in a horse and buggy the 3.5 miles up a hill from St. Thomas to Immaculate Conception.

“The fact he had gone up the Terryville mountain, I can relate,” he added.

Currently pastor of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in New Milford, Connecticut, Father Dziedzic remembers praying to Father McGivney often during his time at Immaculate Conception Church about 13 years ago.

“A number of times I’ve asked for his intercession for people who have been sick,” he said.

Father Dziedzic, himself a member of the Knights of Columbus, calls him a “great parish priest” and said he is not surprised he is on his way to sainthood.

By Karen A. Avitabile | Catholic News Service

Christians need to be active in society, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The mission of the church and of all Christians is to proclaim and live the Gospel in daily life, Pope Francis said.

“Each one of us, by virtue of baptism, is called to be an active presence in society, inspiring it with the Gospel and with the lifeblood of the Holy Spirit,” he said.

Before reciting the Angelus prayer Oct. 18, the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading (Mt 22:15-21) in which the Pharisees sought to trap Jesus with the question about whether it was lawful to pay a tax to Caesar, the leader of the Roman Empire, which had control over the Mediterranean region.

Aware of the Pharisees’ evil intentions, Jesus asked them to observe whose image was on the coin and because it was Caesar’s, he said, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

Pope Francis said this shows how Jesus not only avoided their trap but also describes “the criteria for the distinction between the political sphere and the religious sphere, and gives clear guidelines for the mission of all believers for all times, also for us today.”

“Paying taxes is a duty for all citizens, just as is complying with the just laws of a nation,” he said.

But at the same time, “it is necessary to affirm God’s primacy in human life and in history, respecting God’s right over that which belongs to him,” the pope said.

Christians are asked to be engaged in society “with humility and, at the same time, with courage, making their contribution to building the civilization of love, where justice and fraternity reign.”

The pope prayed Mary would help “all of us to flee from all hypocrisy and to be honest and constructive citizens. And may she sustain us, disciples of Christ, in the mission to bear witness that God is the center and the meaning of life.”

After the formal prayer, Pope Francis reminded everyone that the church was celebrating World Mission Sunday, a day on which Catholics are asked to show their support of missionaries around the world through prayer, reflection and material contributions.

He also expressed his joy and gratitude for the liberation of Father Pierluigi Maccalli, a member of the Society of African Missions, who had been kidnapped in Niger in 2018. He and three other hostages were released in Mali after being held captive for more than two years.

Pope Francis said, “Let us keep praying for missionaries and catechists and also for those who are persecuted or abducted in different parts of the world.”

By Carol Glatz | Catholic News Service 

Linda Michaud, 71

FAIRFIELD—Linda Michaud, 71, of Fairfield, passed away peacefully at her beautiful home on Friday, October 16, 2020, surrounded by her loving family after a brave battle with metastatic breast cancer.

Linda was known to many in the Diocese of Bridgeport as a clinical social worker for Catholic Charities in Bridgeport and Norwalk for over 30 years. She is also fondly remembered for her work as victim assistance coordinator for the diocesan Safe Environments program.

Linda was the beloved wife of Joseph McGee. Just last year, they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary with their closest loved ones. Linda was the devoted mother to Chelsea McGee and her husband Steven Hurd and Kiera McGee. She was the beloved “Winnie” to her grandson Colin Hurd.

Linda also leaves her sisters, Patrice (Roger) Lebert, Alison Michaud (Joseph Mandese) and Kimberly Michaud (Claire Borrelli). She also leaves behind her cherished nieces and nephews and their spouses and children, her dear cousins, colleagues, and lifelong neighbors and friends. Linda was born in Fairfield on November 4, 1948 to the late Paul and Mary Gerrity Michaud.

Linda’s profession as a social worker and her service to others was central to who she was as a person. As a licensed clinical social worker she assisted survivors of sexual abuse survivors coming forward with a complaint of sexual abuse as a minor by a person from the Church, and she arranged for them to meet with the bishop. She was a compassionate listener and she brought a great deal of comfort and healing to survivors and their family members.

Her desire to help others and to share their journey towards health and peace was embedded in who she was as a person. These values, her warmth, her non-judgemental attitude, and her ability to provide a safe and open space for those she loved were a cornerstone to both her work but more so, who she was and how she lived her life.

Linda also loved a bargain and had a great eye for design. She loved tending to her garden, cooking, entertaining and welcoming her friends and family into her home. She would readily share her opinions and values often with wit. Her love also extended to her animals, most recently her golden retriever, Lea, who never left her side during her illness. Above all, she was the happiest when she was around her family and friends.

Linda’s family would like to extend their gratitude and appreciation to her devoted doctors, the nurses at St. Vincent’s Infusion Center and Wound Care Center, as well as her team of visiting nurses.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Vincent’s Swim Across the Sound, c/o St. Vincent Medical Center Foundation, 2800 Main St., Bridgeport, CT 06606 or to the Bridgeport Rescue Mission, PO Box 9057, Bridgeport, CT 06601. To send an online condolence, please visit www.shaughnesseybanks.com.

 

Jeff Cavins visits St. Francis, Weston

WESTON—The Women’s Guild at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Weston recently hosted internationally acclaimed Catholic evangelist, author and biblical scholar Jeff Cavins and his “Activated Disciple Seminar.”

Jeff Cavins was born and raised Catholic but later left the Church and became a Protestant minister for 12 years before returning to the Catholic Church and the story of his faith journey is chronicled in his book My Life on the Rock.

“People are chosen by God to be like God and enter into his mission in the world today,” Cavins said. “This not about our comfort or making me the best me. Instead it’s about becoming like Christ and turning our will over to Him to accomplish His purposes.”

“We must commit ourselves to transforming us to be like Christ,” he said. “But this will never happen until we put our faith into practice.”

St. Francis Pastor Father Jeffrey Couture explained why Cavins was invited to deliver his message to the parish family. “His experience as a former Protestant pastor is important,” said Father Couture. “Many people question the similarities and differences between Catholicism and Protestantism and why someone would choose one faith over the other. He brings a very unique perspective to people that ask these questions.”

Father Couture explained that the parish observed all COVID-19 protocols and restrictions including sanitizing and observing social distancing requirements.

“I am so thrilled that we had this opportunity to share with Jeff Cavins,” said Anita Field, a 25-year parishioner of the parish. “It was an amazing experience and it’s important that we hear this message at this time.  So much is going on in our world at this time.  We need it. Our Church needs it.”

Chris Trueax and his wife Sofia are parishioners at the Cathedral of Saints Peter & Paul in Philadelphia.  Although currently living in Philadelphia, Chris grew up in Trumbull, attending St. Catherine of Siena and graduating from St. Joseph High School.

“I’ve done a few of Jeff Cavin’s studies, starting with Unlocking the Mystery of the Bible and they’re really changed my life,” Sofia said.  “Our family has learned how to read the Bible and really understand the story of Salvation. When we heard that Jeff was speaking near Chris’s hometown, we knew we wanted to come. Now we feel really blessed that we were able to hear Jeff talk about mission and helping re-energize the Church to go out and evangelize.”

St. Francis of Assisi Women’s Guild President Kathleen Failla explained the purpose of the Guild. “The organization has a mission of bringing women together to service our community spiritually and provide programs such as this and to assist in whatever way we can.”

She explained that the proceeds from the Jeff Cavins’ seminar are going to a college scholarship for a graduating high school senior. The guild presents the scholarship in June after school is out.  The latest scholarship recipient is a graduate of Fairfield Prep who is currently attending Boston College.

“In order to be eligible, the graduating senior must be a parishioner of St. Francis and the recipient ideally has served the Church and the community and is ready to spread Christ’s mission and His word when they go off to college and the world.”

(More information on the Women’s Guild and the Scholarship Fund can be found by going to:  www.stfrancisweston.org/womens-guild. Jeff Cavins recently launched “The Jeff Cavins Show” which addresses the everyday life of a modern disciple of Christ.  The show can be found at www.jeffcavins.com/podcast.)

Diocesan Seminarians to study at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary

BRIDGEPORT—Beginning in January, 2021, college seminarians and pre-theologians of the Diocese of Bridgeport will undertake their formation and studies at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano announced the change in seminary formation on September 16, in a letter he sent to all priests of the diocese.

“Given that fostering vocations and supporting our seminarians is a unique obligation that I possess as bishop and a successor of the apostles, I have made this decision because I am convinced that it will be to the great benefit of our seminarians and their future priesthood.”

The bishop made the decision following an in-depth review and analysis by ad hoc committee of curial officials who examined the long term viability of Saint John Fisher House of Discernment. The Presbyteral Council and the College of Consultors were also involved in the process.

“In order to fulfill my ministerial responsibility to provide men aspiring to the priesthood the best opportunity to be formed in the mind and heart of Christ, a few months ago I authorized the analysis,” the bishop said.

“After further analysis, I recently received the final recommendation that our collegiate seminarians and pre-theologians would be best served by attending the formation programs offered by St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia.”

The bishop said the study team was given the charge to examine every collegiate formation program east of the Mississippi River, and to provide him with a detailed oral summary of the strengths and weaknesses of seven programs of formation.

St. Charles Borromeo seminary was chosen because of its strong academic and formation program which serves 65 seminarians from 14 U.S. dioceses and six religious congregations. Likewise, 78 percent of college seminarians and 61 percent of its pre-theologians go on to major seminary formation.

The bishop said the larger number of seminarians and the cultural and racial diversity of its population (35 percent of all seminarians) along with St. Charles’ strong emphasis upon human and spiritual formation (seeking to form “Men of Communion” with Christ and His Church) were all factors in his final decision. He also appreciated the possibility that a pre-theologian can earn a master’s in philosophical studies.

The seminary also has a self-contained faculty comprising of two full-time spiritual directors, a full-time psychologist and counselor and 16 full-time priests.

The bishop praised St. John Fisher House of Discernment, which has provided nearly two generations of priests. However, he said the program faced increasingly difficult obstacles to fulfill its formational object lives.

He said the diminished number of candidates residing in the house has made fostering basic human formation challenging, since peer interaction is essential to such formation.

“There are also increasing difficulties to maintain a philosophy faculty available to train our men in collaboration with Sacred Heart University. Finally, the escalating cost of training our men in our own collegiate formation program cannot be discounted in the current financially challenged situation that we face as a Church,” he said in his letter to priests.

The bishop offered his gratitude to all those who have supported St. John Fisher and diocesan seminarians, both past and current.

“I am especially appreciative of all the work that the rectors have provided the seminarians who were entrusted to their care and for all our faculty, board members and donors who have supported our men during their time at Fisher.”

In a letter to donors, the bishop thanked them for their generosity said that there is an ongoing need for prayers and financial support as the seminarians continue their formation and seek “to grow in virtue and deepen their discernment.”

Funds that have been donated and were raised at St. John Fisher events such as the Rector’s Dinner will continue to support diocesan seminarians.

The bishop told donors that the decision to move the seminarians to a larger seminary program meets “the conditions we must consider for the appropriate human, spiritual and pastoral formation of the men who will one day minister in the diocese. We must consider both their lies as they enter formation and the challenges of proclaiming the Gospel today.”

All current seminarians have been made aware of the decision and will soon travel to St. Charles Borromeo Seminary to meet their new formators and community. “Please pray for them as they prepare to make this important transition,” the bishop said.

Founded in 1989 by Most Rev. Edward M. Egan, the third Bishop of Bridgeport, the St. John Fisher House of discernment was created to provide young men with a place in which they could deepen their relationship with Christ Jesus while discerning a vocation. Since its inception, nearly 100 men have been ordained who spent some time at Fisher during their priestly formation. During its 31 year existence, St. John Fisher House has been located on Daniels Farm Road in Trumbull and its current location of 894 Newfield Avenue in Stamford.

Bishop to celebrate All Souls Day Mass at Gate of Heaven, Trumbull

TRUMBULL—Bishop Caggiano will be celebrating Mass for All Souls Day at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Trumbull on Monday, November 2, at 11 am. Seating is limited this year, so we ask that you help us accommodate for those with loved ones buried in Gate of Heaven Cemetery specifically.

The Mass will be livestreamed on both our website and Facebook page. Because there will be no tent this year, the Mass will be held, weather permitting.

The Diocese of Bridgeport is taking precautions per the CDC and Governor Lamont’s recommendations regarding public gatherings, as well as our own precautions we feel are prudent under the circumstances.

Please understand there are risks involved in attending a public worship in a pandemic despite all of the precautions taken by the parish and the diocese.

We ask your cooperation with all of the directives that have been put in place for your safety and the safety of our clergy and your fellow worshipers.

(To sign up visit: www.signupgenius.com/go/allsoulsday2020.)

Christians Called to be “Holy Reproach” in a Troubled World

BRIDGEPORT—Christians cannot run away from the world; rather they should engage it and seek to transform it, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said during the online Mass from the Catholic Center chapel for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

“We as believers do not run away from the kingdom of Caesar but enter into the public square and the larger culture recognizing its faults and bringing to it a message of hope and transformation.”

Bishop Caggiano said we effect change by bearing personal witness to the “integrity of Christian life” and by becoming a “Holy Reproach” to the larger society that often fails to live up to Gospel values.

Reflecting on the Gospel of Matthew (22: 15-21) when the Pharisees try to trap Jesus into a statement that will lead to his death, the bishop said that the Roman tax on the Jewish people was oppressive and held them in bondage.

If Jesus answered, No, to their question, he would be speaking against his own people. If he opposed the tax, he would be charged with insurrection, the bishop said.
However Jesus turns the tables on the Pharisees when he responds, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

Translating that statement into our own lives is the challenge that we face today as we seek to bring the message of the Gospel to the public square, the bishop said.
The bishop said that no one likes paying taxes, that there are “many Caesars” in the world today and that all systems of rule “are troubled and broken and do not follow example of the Kingdom Christ has come to inaugurate.”

He said that Christians at some cost to themselves must become “a holy reproach to systems that create no place for God, and for his mercy and for the dignity of human life.”
At the same time, many social structures do not allow “all of God’s children to live in peace and prosperity.”

The bishop said we are all members of God’s kingdom by virtue of our baptism and that we are challenged to become “the eyes and ears, hands and feet and heart of Jesus” as we call the world to conversion and change.

“In the end, there will be only one King– the King to whom we owe everything– and that is Christ. We his subjects must allow his presence to rule our lives. We must give to God what is God’s. Without God, we have nothing. In the end, there will be no Caesar,” the bishop said.

The bishop said that St. Thomas More set the example for all Christians by “dying as the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” When in conflict with Henry VIII he sought to continue to serve the King, but realized he owed God “a pure conscience and fidelity to the truth. My friends, can you and I say the same?”

In remarks before final blessing, the bishop noted that as pandemic endures there are reports of resurgence of the virus as well as signs of hope. He urged all the pray for the end of the crisis and join in the weekly Family Rosary, every Sunday at 7:30 in the evening.

For more information on the Sunday Family Rosary, visit: https://formationreimagined.org/sundayfamilyrosary/

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.

Connecticut Bishops Issue Statement on Respect Life Month

One year ago, even before the unthinkable effects of the pandemic and the social unrest and division that we are now witnessing, a piece in the New York Times stated: “The world we live in now is one in which no place is safe, no lives really matter, when it comes to violence” (9/2/19). This statement was prompted by the tragedy of repeated mass shootings in our country. To this we must now add the outbreaks of random violence and the deaths that have prompted outrage and have called into question the level of force employed by law enforcement in some cases, especially with regard to people of color.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Evangelium vitae (The Gospel of Life), written by Pope St. John Paul. He urged the world to uphold the sacred value and inviolability of human life rather than giving way to a culture of manipulation and choice in life matters, as evidenced in abortion, euthanasia, biological engineering, ecological destruction and unnecessary recourse to the death penalty. Violating the right to life, the Pope stated, only results in the destruction of values that are fundamental not only for the preservation of the lives of individuals and families, but of society as well. This message has been strongly echoed by Popes Benedict and Francis.

Amid all the ominous polarization, acrimony and even violence that are increasing in our country, we would do well to ponder Pope St. John Paul’s teaching. He said that respect for innocent human life from conception until natural death is a “transcendent truth” that surpasses any one religion, philosophy, law code or system of government. Religion can and should serve that truth, but it does not create it. If there is no God-given higher truth about the human person than the one we feel free to create, then everything degenerates into competing views of personhood and life itself; the “force of power” prevails, and the inalienable God-given meaning of the human person, and his or her dignity and right to life, are trampled.

Until recent times the religious beliefs of the vast majority of Americans did acknowledge the transcendent truth that all innocent human life is to be respected as inviolable. Indeed, the first thing that struck the French observer Alexis de Tocqueville about the United States in 1831 was its “religious atmosphere.” He wrote: “… while the law allows the American people to do everything, there are things which religion prevents them from imagining and forbids them to dare.” Religion taught virtuous behavior, which is essential if liberty is to be ordered to the common good. By bringing a moral dimension to issues, religion also helped ensure that majority rule not deteriorate into an immoral tyranny. Religion in America also created an allegiance and devotion among its adherents that counteracted the tendency of government to swallow up all aspects of life.

Today the withering away of respect for the transcendent truth about the right to life, and for traditional religious teaching about the sin and crime of taking innocent human life, has created what Pope St. John Paul called a “culture of death.” It is reflected in the words we cited from the New York Times that “the world we live in now is one in which no place is safe, no lives really matter, when it comes to violence.” In his new encyclical Fratelli tutti Pope Francis speaks of a “throwaway” world in which “persons are no longer seen as a paramount value to be cared for and respected” (n. 18). Hopefully the 25th anniversary of Evangelium vitae will be an inspiration for all people of good will to work for a “culture of life” that cherishes, serves, defends, and protects human life from conception until natural death.

Local pro-life leaders across the world are currently conducting an annual 40 Days for Life campaign that runs through November 1. Walking with Moms in Need is a year of service where Catholic parishes and communities “walk in the shoes” of local pregnant and parenting women in need. And then there is Project Rachel, a network of caregivers, including clergy, mental health professionals and others who provide one-on-one care to those struggling after involvement in an abortion. The church continues to advocate strongly for hospice care for the dying, not death imposed by others or by suicide, and for an end to the death penalty because it is no longer needed to protect society.

For well over half a century the U.S. Bishops have spoken out nationally as a body about the evil of racism, most recently in 2018, calling yet again for Catholics and all Americans to take to heart in particular the lived experience—past and present—of African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans. Without equal respect and opportunity for the life and dignity of each and all we cannot hope to have a nation at peace with itself.

Likewise, Pope Francis has dramatically and urgently spoken of the plight of refugees, immigrants and all those who are vulnerable and at risk across the world. Our Church strives to uphold the life and dignity of every person by providing education, health care and works of charity on a large scale, and by advocating for economic justice, immigration reform, and the alleviation of the desperate plight of so many of the world’s migrants, near and far.

These are just some of the ways the Catholic Church is working to promote a gospel of life. We invite you to join us, so that, in the words of Pope St. John Paul, “together we may offer this world of ours new signs of hope, and work to ensure that justice and solidarity will increase and that a new culture of human life will be affirmed, for the building of an authentic civilization of truth and love.”