Bearing Witness to Christ

BRIDGEPORT— The Feast of the Ascension of the Lord is the “beginning of a great commissioning to continue his work” on earth, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in his homily for Ascension Thursday.

“Our work today is precisely to become a witness to him… and to bear witness to his risen life,” the bishop during the Mass, which was live-streamed from the Catholic Center chapel.

He began his homily recalling a moment when he was called to give testimony in a civil legal proceeding and admitted that he was nervous on the way to the courthouse. However, once he completed the oath with the words, “I do,” he remembered feeling relieved.

“Saying , “I do,” make me a sworn witness to the truth, and I had every intention of telling the truth,” he said, noting at as followers of Jesus, Catholics face the same challenge today.

“What does it mean to be a witness to Jesus leads us us into difficult task. For example, to witness Christ is to witness the truth, never mincing our words in proclaiming what is right and just,” he said.

After reading the Gospel of Matthew (28: 16-20), “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” the bishop said we face the same responsibility as the disciples.

“The Ascension reminds of us the task before us and that we are all sinners. How many times by the decisions we’ve made have we stopped to do good in the name of Jesus? And how many time have we lost opportunities to be forgiving, kind, patient or loving—times we failed to say, “I do” to Jesus.”

The bishop said we may be held back by doubts or ambiguous, unnamed attitudes that haunt our hearts and minds,” yet influence what we say and do.”

He urged the faithful to be up to the task of looking in the mirror and “routing these attitudes out if they are not of Christ.”

The bishop said that it is easy for people to become distracted, mesmerized or unaware, but like the disciples, people must be ready to do the work of sharing the good news of Christ.

“In this age in which we live many of us are easily distracted with our ordinary duties and responsibilities. We create a routine where we forget this commission to bear witness to his truth and life.”

Immediately following Mass, the bishop said that he has been praying for the health and well being of all families in the diocese and asked that the faithful also pray for him. He also invited all to join him in the online Rosary being said each evening at 7:30 pm throughout the month of May.

(To find the link to join the online Rosary, please visit No computer? No problem. If you want to join by phone, call 646.558.8656 or 301.715.8592 and enter this ID number when prompted: 840 8707 1375)

A Joyous Moment at St. Jude Parking Lot Mass

EDITOR’S NOTE: What a glorious day to begin outdoor Masses in the Diocese of Bridgeport! The mood was one of joy, gratitude and reverence in the parishes that resumed the public celebration of Mass. The much awaited return to Mass approved by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano on the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord was a great gift and historic moment in the diocese. It the first stage of a phased-in plan to bring people together for Mass while practicing social distancing and using other safeguards to protect all from the coronavirus. Fairfield County Catholic will be sharing stories of the re-opening of Mass this weekend and in the coming days.

MONROE— “We did our first parking lot mass at 12 noon today and the thank you’s are coming in from the parishioners,” says Father Henry Hoffman, pastor of St. Jude Parish in Monroe.

“The people waited two long months to finally receive the Eucharist… and they are grateful for the opportunity,” says Father Hoffman who noted that St Jude’s also had a 6 pm Mass and will hold Masses at 12 noon and 6 pm on Sunday.

Father Hoffman said that many parishioners over the past two months have sent emails, texts and phone calls and held Facetime and Zoom sessions indicating how much they have missed receiving the Eucharist, and he offered this reflection at the first parking lot Mass.

“What a wonderful opportunity for everyone to come together for parking lot Masses, to celebrate the Ascension and to receive communion,” said Father Hoffman.

“After two months of social distancing, quarantining and attending Mass virtually, finally we were able to come together as a parish family to pray together and receive the Eucharist together,” he said.

“Many thanks to our parish volunteers who worked through all of the logistics to enable us to celebrate Mass, while the parishioners sat in their cars and listened to me through the radio, and then car by car exited and observed social distancing and safety protocols while receiving communion,” Father Hoffman said.

“As a parish family, we had all been praying together for a couple of months for this moment and during the past week, we prayed for good weather so that we did not get rained out. And it all came about beautifully. God is good!”

Father Hoffman continued, “I find it so uplifting to see how the volunteers and parishioners were so anxious to receive the Eucharist that they were all able to come together to bring about the reality of our parking lot Masses.”

“At the Ascension, Jesus left his immediate followers to figure out how to take the Church forward. It is fitting that our first parking lot Mass took place on the Ascension when we as a parish family came together to figure out how to take St. Jude Church forward.”

The sun was out. There was a gentle breeze. Shortly before twelve noon, the cars began to show up. The volunteer ushers wearing masks directed the cars to the pre-designated spots all marked by traffic cones, to keep the cars a safe distance from one another. The drivers tuned their car radios to the proper FM station and Father Henry’s voice filled the cars as Mass began.

When it came time for communion, the volunteer ushers wearing masks, escorted the parishioners out of their cars one at a time. They came forward, observing social distancing and received communion from the clergy who wore masks and face shields.

“The safety protocols were all followed so that all could safely receive the Eucharist,” said Father Hoffman.

“Today is a great day for St. Jude Parish, Monroe. Our first outdoor parking lot Mass was at noon on Ascension Thursday. Over 30 cars and about 60 parishioners were in attendance!” reports Vic Eng, a parishioner of St. Jude Parish who helped to plan and coordinate the Mass.

“It was a great event that went smoothly from start to finish! On a beautiful sunny day!,” he says of today’s first outdoor Mass celebrated by Father Hoffman, pastor and Father Jim Bates, parochial vicar.

Regina Schwartz, one of the St. Jude trustees agrees, and she’s deeply grateful that Mass is back in the diocese.

“A great big thank you to all of you for giving us our Mass back! Today’s Mass was so beautiful, so moving and so needed. You did a wonderful job organizing it as everything seemed so smooth and seamless and easy,” said Schwartz.

“God gave us a glorious day as our backdrop and it was a special moment that I will never forget,” she continued. “Receiving our Lord in the Eucharist left me in tears for quite a while after. And honestly, I didn’t know what to expect and had no idea it would be this special. I look forward to more.”

Father Bates offered this beautiful and thoughtful reflection on the return to Mass, which once again re-unites the priests and faithful in public worship:

“It is a great joy to once more celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with the people of Saint Jude in attendance, even in a limited way. The current pandemic has required a necessary distance between us as clergy and those whom we have been called to serve, particularly in the celebration of Mass and reception of the Holy Eucharist. I know that the people of St. Jude have keenly felt the pain of being separated from this essential and lifegiving part of their life of faith. For all of the opportunities that there are to watch Mass via live streaming, there is no substitution for gathering as a people of faith to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and to partake of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ truly present in the Holy Eucharist. We must remain prudent as we resume public Masses and proceed slowly lest we, in our exuberance to gather once more as members of the Mystical Body of Christ on earth, inadvertently put those whom we love at risk. The celebration of Mass outdoors in a parking lot presents a number of challenges and is not designed to be a long-term solution, but it is a good way to start and the response, so far, has been positive.”

Father Bates continued, “I look forward to the day when we have a cure for COVID-19 and can throw open the doors of our churches without concern. Until that day, we will do all that we can to keep our people safe and healthy of body as we find new and creative ways to feed their souls and nurture their faith.”

St. Rose Administration bring D.C. trip to students

NEWTOWN—Yesterday, May 20, the 8th-graders were supposed to board a bus and head to Washington D.C., an annual tradition at the school. The date was postponed from mid-March. Although students were not able to attend the trip due to COVIS-19 concerns, Msgr. Bob, Mr. Gjoka and Mrs. Petrillo brought a little bit of D.C. to each of the 24 students.

At 7:30 am they met outside St. Rose School and decorated their cars with messages for the 8th graders, flags and streamers. They set off to the farthest areas including New Milford, Oxford, Southbury and Shelton, then made their way around Newtown and Sandy Hook honking their horns and waving as they pulled into driveways. In all they covered 130 miles and were met with many smiles.

Monsignor presented each student with a D.C. themed gift bag containing personally signed Washington D.C. guidebooks, patriotic ties for the boys and scarves for the girls. Mr. Gjoka and Mrs. Petrillo greeted them with good wishes and asked how they and their families are doing. When asked if they are learning the resounding answer was YES!




Parishes set to begin outdoor Masses

BRIDGEPORT—Parishes throughout the diocese will take the first step toward resuming public worship on Ascension Thursday and this weekend as priests begin celebrating outdoor Masses.

The Diocese of Bridgeport is the first in Connecticut to resume public Masses since they were suspended on March 16, as a result of the rapid spread of the coronarvirus in Fairfield County and the stay-at-home orders issue by the state.

In a May 1, Letter to the Faithful Bishop Frank J. Caggiano approved optional outdoor Masses beginning on May 21, the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord, as the first phase in a plan to resume the celebration of Mass with the faithful during the pandemic. It will remain in effect until church buildings and other indoor venues can be safely reopened for worship.

Under the plan announced by the bishop, the resumption of public Masses in outdoor settings is optional and each pastor will make the final decision for his parish.
More parishes are expected to move forward with outdoor Masses in the coming days as they work out the logistics of the reservations and social distancing that will be required to safeguard the health of all involved while protecting the sacredness of the liturgy.

“There are a number of parishes that are opting to immediately begin the outdoor celebration of Mass as the diocese takes this important step forward in the resumption of public worship. I am grateful to the pastors who have done a wonderful job of creating plans that allow us to worship outdoors for the time being in a safe manner for all who come,” said Bishop Caggiano.

The bishop said he hopes to have more news about the “full return to church buildings for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,” and that he understands the hardship that laity and priests have experienced during this time “when we have not been able to come together as a family around the Lord’s Table.”

Within hours of the bishop’s announcement to resume Masses, thousands visited the diocesan website to learn more.

The bishop, in consultation with pastors, also issued highly detailed guidelines which outline the sacramental and logistic considerations of moving Mass outdoors and limiting the number of people in attendance to safeguard the health of laity and clergy.

Under the plan, a pastor can choose to hold outdoor Masses with seating limited to 49 people outdoors, or in parish parking lots where people will remain in their cars except for coming forward for the reception of Holy Communion.

The diocese will constantly re-evaluate and update the plan based on the needs of the faithful and the course of the outbreak over the coming months.

The bishop said he believes that the shelter-in-place mandates saved many lives, but that it is now time to move ahead cautiously and safely with a phased-in resumption of Masses.

• Out of the ongoing concern for the health and safety of all parishioners, the bishop announced that he will continue to dispense with the obligation to attend Sunday Mass.
• The guidelines also suggest that anyone who is vulnerable or in the high risk category should consider remaining sheltered at home for the time being.
• The resumption of Mass will require a system of reservations to ensure social distancing and an orderly and reverent return to the sacraments outside of the church building.
• The bishop will also continue to celebrate his online 8 am Sunday Mass, which is live-streamed on the diocesan website (, and he has encouraged pastors to continue their live-streamed Masses.

The plan was developed by the bishop after consultation with pastors and diocesan officials. It allows each pastor to make the final decision about holding an outdoor Mass, the location on parish grounds, the distribution of Holy Communion, and the Mass times throughout the weekend.

If outdoor seating is chosen, people will be seated on chairs that will be arranged with proper social distancing.

The number of cars that can be accommodated in a parking lot Mass will depend upon the size of the lot or field that will be used, the need to distance cars six feet apart from each other and allow for the safe exit of any car in case of an emergency.

The bishop has asked each pastor to draft a parish plan for this first phase of resumption of public Mass to ensure that the particular needs of his parish are properly addressed.

“The guiding principle behind all such planning is to ensure the safety and health of the faithful and clergy, while preserving the sacredness of our liturgy and worship,” he said.

The bishop acknowledged the great hardship experienced by the faithful during the suspension of public Mass and said he and priests very much look forward to seeing people return to worship.

“I wish to express my sincere thanks for your patience, perseverance and fidelity during this most difficult time, when public Masses were suspended. While it has been a great sacrifice for all of us, especially those who have watched a relative or friend fall ill, buried a loved one or remained in isolation and even fear,” he said,

“I believe that observing the state’s shelter at home order has saved many lives. On behalf of all priests of the diocese, permit me to say how much we have missed you and look forward to welcoming you back home to your parish home.”

Deacon Patrick Toole, secretary of the curia and episcopal delegate of administration, said the resumption of Mass beginning with outdoor Mass will require great care and due diligence. “We feel that we can make our churches as safe or safer than other essential businesses and services, and we are committed to doing that”

He said that pastors are developing their own reservation systems or using a system that has been licensed by the diocese, and they will be notifying their parishioners how to sign up for Masses at their particular parish. Reservations are most likely going to be taken online or by calling the parish office.

The diocesan planning process, developed based on information provided by health experts, assumes that the COVID-19 virus will remain a threat for some time with possible outbreaks in the Fall and Winter. The goal is to protect the faithful from any possible relapse while moving forward and preparing for the full re-opening of churches to the extent possible.

The diocese is currently working on plans for the return to church, which will include deep cleaning, ongoing sanitizing, the wearing of masks, proper social distancing, and the renewal of other restrictions including the suspension of the Sign of Peace and reception of the Communion through the chalice.

To view the complete guide- lines for outdoor Masses and for further information visit the diocesan website at www.bridge-, or contact your parish.

On Praying the Rosary

I miss my dad every night around 7:30 pm. That’s when we stop everything and pray the Rosary.

We started back in March when we hosted Nine Days of Prayer in the diocese. That led to a few nights of Evening Prayer during Holy Week, which lead to the Divine Mercy Novena between Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday. Then, I suggested we do another novena at the beginning of May but the Bishop had a better idea: why not the Rosary every single night in May.

And so here we are.

I log in around 7:15, just after the alarm on my phone goes off, ending whatever yard work or Zoom meeting, or dinner preparation that has been started. I finally got smart for the nightly Rosary and invited anyone who wished to lead to do so. I don’t mind leading, but it’s nice to have others give their voice to the prayers too.

It is a holy interruption in our household and it always makes me miss my father. You see, it was my father who introduced me to Mary.

Dad taught me how to pray and a big part of those prayers was the recitation of the Rosary. We prayed every day on the way to school. We prayed in the living room when my aunt and cousin were killed in house fire. We prayed around the bedside of my brother, Jim, as he lay dying of cancer.  We prayed for peace in times of trouble. We prayed in thanksgiving for good health. We prayed for each other. For others. For ourselves. We prayed. Together. Alone. We prayed.

Dad was introduced to the Rosary by his mother, who made them by hand. She gave dad his first beads – for his First Communion – and then made and gave each of the grandchildren one for that same celebration in each of their lives. I still have mine and am proud to say the beads are nicely worn.

As dad got older and spent his time working in the yard or cleaning the pool, he prayed the Rosary every day, just like he had every day of his life. But he found that the mysteries of the Rosary you and I know did not quite cut it anymore. So he made up his own. He contemplated five miracles. Five saints. Five parables. A few summers before he died, he asked me for new ideas I suggested he think of five priests who had influenced his life and, since so many relatives were women religious, five sisters. He liked that idea.

When dad was dying, we took turns sitting with him, praying the Rosary, asking for peace for him, freedom from pain, and a quick journey home to the Mother he had called “Holy” so many times in prayer.

When he was gone and mom was putting together an outfit for dad, she knew where to find his Rosary: in the pocket of the last pair of pants he had worn. We buried him with one set of beads. I have another, found in his office after the funeral.

So last night as I was sitting in my attic office, looking at my wife across the room, I thought of dad and I prayed. I thought of those drives in the early mornings to school and those times sitting around the living room. Eventually, my thoughts turned to the hours sitting by dad as his life slowed. I prayed and I missed my dad.

We gather each night during May – nearly 200 faithful souls – and we pray for each other, our parents, our children, graduates, those who have died, those who are sick, the unemployed, the underemployed, our leaders, our heroes, our families, ourselves. It is an holy interruption from the anxiety that surrounds us.

Perhaps this week you might dig out your Rosary and pray. Perhaps its in your pocket or purse or backpack. Perhaps it’s been a while since you let the beads slide through your fingers. If so, start slowly. One decade per day, starting today. It will make a difference in your week, I promise.

Think of those who taught you to pray and thank God for their example.

Then close your eyes and open your heart and join me.

“In the name of the Father, and of the Son….”


Photo: My father and me when we were both much younger!

This originally appeared on Patrick Donovan’s personal blog, Five Minutes on Monday.

(To find the link to join the evening Rosary, please visit No computer? No problem. If you want to join us by phone, call 646.558.8656 or 301.715.8592 and enter this ID number when prompted: 840 8707 1375.)


Knights work the Drive Thru

NORWALK—On a beautiful spring morning, the Brothers of Knights of Columbus Council 14360 in Norwalk hosted a Drive Through Food Drive for the St Philip Church Food Pantry. The Drive filled around 30 large bins and raised $500 in donations. This drive helped to re-stock the pantry which is serving hundreds of families weekly since the COVID-19 Pandemic began.

“We are so appreciative of everyone from St Philip parish and the Greater Norwalk community for their support in helping those most in need,” said Council 14360 member and Food Drive Chairman George Ribellino, Jr

Before the pandemic, the St Philip Food Pantry assisted 35-40 families per week and now due to loss of jobs the pantry assists hundreds of families in need. “These are very tough times, and the the St. Philip community wanted to be of help to the Greater Norwalk Community. Thanks to our Food Pantry Volunteers, we have stayed open even as many other local pantries remain closed during this pandemic. We were able to get 12,000 pounds of perishable food from Lancaster, PA for our pantry and the local pantries. But, we were finding it difficult to restock the non-perishables. Thanks to my brother Knights, we are in good shape for the next couple of weeks, “ said Father Sudhir, Pastor St. Philip Church.

The Council has hosted and assisted with many food drives since the start of the pandemic and will continue to do this indefinitely. In addition, the council has assisted with providing food for those on the frontlines, getting masks to Notre Health and Rehab Center and donating funds and supplies for our veterans at Homes for the Brave. The Knights of Columbus are called to step into the breach and leave no neighbor behind—especially in this time of crisis. As the coronavirus pandemic continues, our duty is to lead our families, protect our parishes, and serve our communities, remembering always that where there’s a need, there’s a Knight. Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson has challenged Knights to take this moment as an opportunity to deepen the commitment to the very principles which define the Order: charity, unity and fraternity.”

“In truly a difficult time, we need to come together and help struggling families put food on the table. Our council always strives to put Faith In Action and we take the Supreme Knight’s challenge to heart,” said Anthony Armentano, Grand Knight KofC Council 14360.

Father Sudhir continues to work hard to keep the food pantry stocked and ready to help the local community. If you are interested in making a monetary donation, please click here.

The goals of the Knights of Columbus Council at Saint Matthew Church in Norwalk are to perform acts of charity. Providing those in need with a range of support from financial to tactical help in dealing with a wide variety of challenges. Council members work together to foster the founding principles of our order; Charity, Unity, Fraternity & Patriotism. Our goal as a council is to continue to identify specific needs in our community and muster support and help to alleviate these challenges and hardships to the best of our abilities and resources. For more information, please go to

A Fatima Birthday Surprise for a Bridgeport Legend

BRIDGEPORT- Family, Friends and Bridgeport City Council representatives gathered at St. Augustine Cathedral earlier this February to honor and celebrate a one of a kind Bridgeport legend and beloved native son Mr. Frank D’Ausilio, on his 85th Birthday milestone. The extraordinary day (2/27/2020) was full of amazing surprises!

Frank D’Ausilio is a true Catholic superstar layman.  He has lived during the most eventful century of this world’s history, in his quiet optimistic way, dedicated to his Catholic faith, family and friends.  Frank has demonstrated in countless ways his dedication as a Bridgeport Community Advocate and Mentor to the welfare of others and has earned the respect and affection of people from all walks of life and all ages during his long and productive lifetime.

For over 40 years, Frank D’Ausilio served with dedication as Head Custodian at the Bridgeport Police Department Headquarters, St. Vincent’s Medical Center, and the Cathedral Parish. He has been very active and a supporter of “Swim across the Sound” and a Marian Volunteer assisting nursing home and hospital patients.  Frank is also a long time member of 52 years in the Knights of Columbus Global Fraternity Service Organization and 23 years in the Holy Spirit Fraternity Secular Franciscan Order.  His Catholic faith has guided him throughout his entire life and he has learned to seek truth through his many years of pilgrimages traveling to holy sites where he prays with various Christian communities near and far.

Beginning in 1960 through the 1970’s Frank D’Ausilio along with fellow Catholic champion and mentor Dr. Joseph Fida DDS traveled throughout the Bridgeport and Hartford Dioceses with a blessed life-sized personal replica of a Pilgrim Statue of Our Dear Lady of Fatima from Portugal.  The inspiring message they brought forth to all parishes and hospital patients was one of FAITH, HOPE, MERCY, LOVE, and PEACE which produced good fruit that helped thousands of people heal spiritually and physically.

 On the festive birthday occasion a spectacular guest of honor arrived at St. Augustine Parish, the original 1972 New York State Travelling Pilgrim Fatima.  Frank D’Ausilio and all of the parishioners were overjoyed and moved by the loving tribute in the presence of Our Dear Lady of Fatima.  In thanksgiving, heartfelt prayers were offered which included the most holy rosary, litanies, Marian hymns, and a procession inside the Parish led by Reverend Fr. Michael Novajosky.

The 85th Birthday Mass of joyful celebration was a slice of Heaven on Earth presided by Reverend Fr. Michael Novajosky, Cathedral Director along with a superb and multi-talented angelic choir performance orchestrated by Dr. Sam Schmitt, Musical Director Extraordinaire.  After the conclusion of the Holy Mass, Mr. Frank D’Ausilio humbly accepted a lifetime achievement proclamation award on his 85th Birthday from a City Council Representative on behalf of Honorable Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim who expressed congratulations and best wishes.

Reverend Dr. Herron Gaston, Assistant Chief Administrator for the Office of Mayoral Leadership and Chaplain of the Bridgeport Police Department said that Frank D’Ausilio radiates a joyful loving spirit and has found peace, faith, clarity, and strength in the church community. “He truly is a witness of the Light of CHRIST, the Grace of GOD, and the Spirit of TRUTH through his Catholic faith.  Congratulations Mr. Frank D’Ausilio, a true Bridgeport Treasurer as  I am honored to celebrate with family and friends and do hereby proclaim on behalf of Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim, Thursday, February 27, 2020, as “Frank D’Ausilio Day.

At the conclusion of the recognition award ceremony, Fr. Michael Novajosky graciously thanked Reverend Dr. Herron Gaston and on behalf of Bishop Frank Caggiano presented him with a beautifully impressive full-color classic statue of St. Michael, the Archangel, the Greatest Warrior of Heaven and Earth for the Office of Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim.

Fr. Michael Novajosky said that under the leadership of Bishop Frank Caggiano all parishes have been encouraged to recite daily the powerful St. Michael prayer and after each Mass invokes special protection for the intentions of the Bridgeport Community.

Frank D’Ausilio was gifted with an exquisite hand-carved statue of Our Lady of Fatima from Portugal and humbly extended a heartfelt thank you to all family, friends, and city officials gathered.  He shared with a twinkling smile and infectious laugh, “that he is a blessed man and what a great honor it was to accompany Our Lady of Fatima with Dr. Joseph Fida.”

The final birthday surprise was held in the rectory of St. Augustine that included a celebration luncheon and a favorite treat of Frank, a cannoli filled birthday cake.

Written by Cindy Lucignano

Vatican listens to ‘cry of poor, cry of the Earth’

VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis’ vision of “integral human development” and “integral ecology” involves identifying the connections between the condition of human beings and the condition of the environment, said Cardinal Peter Turkson.

While Christians are right to be increasingly focused on “the cry of the Earth” and how environmental destruction impacts human life, with the COVID-19 pandemic “we must listen to the cry of the poor,” especially those risking starvation, the unemployed and migrants and refugees, said Cardinal Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

Cardinal Turkson is coordinating the work of the Vatican COVID-19 Commission and led an online news conference May 15 to discuss the commission’s progress.

“In one of the last meetings we had with Pope Francis, he asked us to ‘prepare the future,’ not ‘prepare for the future,’ but prepare it, anticipate it,” the cardinal said.

“Hardly any aspect of human life and culture is left unscathed” by the virus and efforts to stop its spread, the cardinal said. “Covid-19 started as a health care issue, but it has affected drastically the economy, jobs and employment, lifestyles, food security, the primary role of Artificial Intelligence and internet security, politics and even governance.”

Obviously, providing health care to victims of the virus is an urgent need, said the cardinal and other members of the commission.

Father Augusto Zampini, adjunct secretary of the dicastery, said that is one reason why Pope Francis called for international debt relief — it would help the world’s poorest countries redirect money from interest payments to ramping up their health services.

But another major issue the commission is looking at is the threat of a “hunger pandemic.”

At the beginning of 2020, before the coronavirus became a global pandemic, the U.N. World Food Program said 135 million people in 55 countries were facing “acute hunger” as a result chiefly of conflict, the effects of climate change and economic crises.

Now, with people out of work and supply chains interrupted, the WFP is warning that “the lives and livelihoods of 265 million people in low- and middle-income countries will be under severe threat.”

Still, Father Zampini said, changes in production and consumption patterns and in private and public actions can still make a difference, for example, by providing incentives to farmers to improve productivity in ways that also protect the environment and by encouraging all nations “to divert funds from weapons to food.”

Individuals also can contribute to alleviating food insecurity and protecting the environment by reducing food waste, eating food that is in season and avoiding products and packaging that pollute.

“COVID has shown that we do not need as many things as we think. We can be more with less,” he said.

Caritas Internationalis, the umbrella organization of national Catholic relief and development agencies, is part of the Vatican COVID-19 Commission and has created a COVID-19 Response Fund.

Aloysius John, Caritas secretary general, said the fund already has received 32 project requests and already approved and distributed funds to 14 of them, which aim to help 7.8 million people in Ecuador, India, Palestine, Bangladesh, Lebanon and Burkina Faso and eight other countries.

A big concern, which parish, diocesan and national Caritas agencies are responding to, he said, is the provision of basic food assistance, because people will not respect lockdown requirements if they have nothing at home to eat and no way to earn the money to buy it.

John also called on the international community to remove the economic sanctions on Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Libya and Venezuela “so that aid to the affected population can be guaranteed, and Caritas, through the church, can continue to play its role of support for the poor and most vulnerable.”

By Cindy Wooden | Catholic News Service

Catholic Communication Campaign

WASHINGTON—The annual collection for the Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC) is scheduled to take place on the weekend of May 23-24, coinciding with World Communications Day. This annual national appeal supports efforts in the United States and around the world to use the media, internet, and print publications to help people connect with Christ.

The COVID-19 virus has prompted life to change in dramatic ways for more than two months with an increased reliance on communication tools to stay connected. Catholics and non-Catholics alike are using online tools to work and attend school, and stay connected to their families, friends, and their faith. Although most people are unable to gather together in their parishes for Mass, some dioceses offer electronic offertory programs that include the Catholic Communication Campaign or other ways for parishioners to support scheduled appeals. “In these times, the support of the Catholic Communication Campaign is vital to help keep the faithful connected to our faith and for dioceses to communicate the Gospel through all available means,” said Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv. of Atlanta, and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on the Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC). “The CCC has long recognized the need to reach people and help them connect with Christ. Thanks to the generosity of the faithful in the United States, millions of people throughout the world have been able to connect in new ways with the Good News of Jesus Christ, especially in recent months,” continued Archbishop Hartmayer.

Fifty percent of the funds collected through the campaign remain in each diocese to support local communication efforts. The other half is used to support national efforts in the United States and in developing countries around the world.

With support from the Catholic Communication Campaign, the USCCB developed a resource page in response to the COVID-19 virus, “Together in Christ” on its website with links for families, parishes, and dioceses to prayer resources, livestream of Masses, and catechetical materials.

Two documentaries supported by major CCC grants are now in national broadcast television circulation. Revolution of the Heart: The Dorothy Day Story, about the Catholic Worker movement co-founder who is on the road to sainthood, was released to public television stations in March 2020 and has already exceeded 1,000 broadcasts nationwide. The film won the Religion Communicators Council 2020 Wilbur Award for best documentary. Walking the Good Red Road: Nicholas Black Elk’s Journey to Sainthood, presents the intriguing life of a man born into pre-reservation America and immortalized in author John Neihardt’s classic 1932 book Black Elk Speaks. The program brings to light Black Elk’s conversion to Catholicism and his dedication to bringing other Native Americans to the Catholic faith. In cooperation with the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission, the program will be available on ABC-TV stations nationwide beginning May 17, 2020.

The Subcommittee on the Catholic Communication Campaign oversees the collection and an annual grants program under the direction of the USCCB’s Committee on Communications. Shareable resources for the collection are available online. More information about the Catholic Communication Campaign can be found at Still photos from the documentary films Revolution of the Heart and Walking the Good Red Road are available to the media upon request.

Holy Spirit is the Reason for Hope

To join in the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, live-streamed weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.

BRIDGEPORT—“One of great things this terrible tragedy has caused us to realize is that the things we see and touch are not the only things that matter. What we buy or sell has precious little value when a life is faced with suffering and dying,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in his homily for the Mass celebrating the Sixth Sunday of Easter.

In his regular Sunday Mass, live-streamed from the Catholic Center chapel, the Bishop said that as Christians we must resist the temptation to focus only on the material things and take courage in the Holy Spirit, “the divine person who is love himself, who is invisible to our human senses yet very real in His presence” in our lives.

The Bishop began his homily by describing the Coronavirus as “the silent killer in our midst, a small virus we can’t see with the eye, touch with our hands or fingers, but it has done so much to cause much suffering and so much death.”

He said the pandemic has grown “in part because it is invisible,” but we know the virus is present because we see the effect it creates around us in the suffering and disruption it has caused.

Likewise, we know the presence of good and the hand of God by the love, courage and selflessness of so many people in the world.

Reflecting on the Gospel of John (14:15-21), the Bishop said that in a society that often focuses on material things, we as Catholics must learn to understand the value and power of what is unseen and have faith that God is with us, even in difficult times.

“Jesus reminds us that there is another in our midst who the world will not see and because it does not see him will not know him or believe him. But we do,” he said of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

He said that while we struggle in fear and uncertainty caused by the virus, there is ample evidence that God walks alongside us and is available to us through the presence of the Holy Spirit.

“Where is God in all of this? many people are asking. My friends, he is literally in front of your face. Who in the end gives the courage that has motivated these heroic first responders running into the face of danger and risking their lives for others?

“Is it just human courage or is there someone else who walks, accompanies, encourages and empowers us to make God’s presence felt?” he said.

The Bishop said that it is not only human talent and education leading “so many to race for the cure. Our doings are graced by the invisible Sprit in our midst.”

He urged the faithful to “not solely be occupied by the invisible killer in our midst, but to ask for the outpouring of our invisible advocate, protector and defender, the Holy Spirit of our risen Lord.”

Referring to the question in today’s Epistle, the Bishop said, “Peter said it best, he asks us to be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks about the reason for our hope. The reason is we are not abandoned. The Holy Spirit is invisible to our eye but as real as you and I are, and walks with us every step of the way.”

At the end of Mass the Bishop noted that many parishes in the diocese will be beginning outdoor Masses on Ascension Thursday and the following weekend. He thanked pastors for their enthusiastic response and as the diocese takes its first step back to public worship, and said he hoped that we would soon be able to return to Masses inside the Church.

NBC Meteorologist Bob Maxon visits St. Rose’s virtual classroom

NEWTOWN—NBC Connecticut’s Meteorologist Bob Maxon visited St. Rose School students on Thursday, May 14 via Zoom for a weather lesson plus Q & A.

What better way for 3rd graders to kick off their unit about Weather and 6th, 8th graders to culminate their study of Weather, than to have a lesson with Meteorologist Bob Maxon?

More than 60 students plus some faculty participated in this engaging presentation. Mr. Maxon answered student questions that ranged from “What classes did you have to take in order to become a Meteorologist?”, What was the most intense weather event you have ever reported?” to “Why did it snow last Friday?”

Students sat in front of backdrops ranging from an aerial view of the earth to the Northern Lights, tropical beaches and depictions of the solar system. Mr. Maxon was attentive to every question and encouraged students to listen, read and “practice! practice! practice!” as they build toward their futures.

Kudos to Mrs. Zmek and Mrs. Petrillo for organizing this awesome lesson and preparing the students who were attentive, respectful and insightful. At the end of the lesson, in a special tribute to all front line workers, every student displayed a heart as an expression of THANKS then called out “Thank you’s” to Mr. Maxon who beamed, saying they made his day.

It was an exceptional and memorable experience for all.

St. Theresa Food Drive Benefits Local Charities

TRUMBULL—Despite Friday’s rainy weather and Saturday’s snow squalls, parishioners from St. Theresa Church in Trumbull showed their generosity in donating non-perishable goods and personal care items to a food drive sponsored by the parish’s youth group. As cars parked outside the church, a dozen members of STAY (St. Theresa Apostolic Youth) donned face masks and gloves as they unloaded bags of groceries to assist those struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All goods were then donated on Monday, May 11 to the Thomas Merton Center in Bridgeport and the Trumbull Food Pantry, both of which have seen an increased need in the clients they serve.

Understanding the importance of helping others, the teens from STAY planned and organized this event along with Father Flavian Bejan, the group’s coordinator. “It’s wonderful to see the youth working on their pillars of faith and service,” said Father Flavian. “This gives them a chance to serve and fulfill the mission of this group.”

Boxes of Cheerios, cans of vegetables, and loaves of bread along with packages of tissues, soap, and diapers quickly accumulated on 16-foot tables in the St. Theresa gym, as volunteers sorted items for each of the donation centers. In addition to these goods, parishioners also contributed cash, checks, and gift cards to grocery stores which will directly benefit residents in the local community.

“Everyone is so upset about the pandemic right now, but there are people having a much harder time than we are,” said STAY teen Elizabeth Clark. “It’s important to do this. By serving others, we are serving God.”

Daisy Rodriquez, Food Pantry Coordinator at the Thomas Merton Center, and Karen Seferi, coordinator of the Trumbull Food Pantry, expressed their gratitude for the donations when volunteers made the deliveries on Monday.

As Father Flavian helped remove packages from an SUV, he said, “Jesus told us, ‘Whatever you do for the least of my brothers, so you do unto me,’ and that’s what this is about.”

ACA video spotlights New “Faces of Need”

BRIDGEPORT—The Diocese has released its second 2020 Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) video, “New Faces of Need,” as it asks the faithful throughout Fairfield Count to give generously to this year’s emergency appeal.

The video is meant to accompany the re-launch of the ACA, which was halted in March as a result of the Coronavirus crisis and its impact on parishes, schools and diocesan ministries. In the first video the Bishop praises the heroic response of all frontline workers during the crisis and he noted that many people who never had to ask for help in the past have come forward to seek food and other assistance.

“As the human toll from this terrible pandemic continues to increase in our midst, I am aware of the great suffering that a growing number of our neighbors are experiencing. Your generosity allows us to continue the mission of the Church and provide for these “new faces of need” in our midst,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in announcing the video.

“As we anticipate Pentecost Sunday in the coming weeks and commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, Pope Francis reminds us, “The Spirit is peace in the midst of restlessness, confidence in the midst of discouragement, joy in sadness, youth in aging, courage in the hour of trial, “ the bishop said.

The three-minute video, produced by Brian Russell of Fairfield, offers a brief glimpse into three lives struggling with the pandemic; a homeless man who relies on Merton Center for food and to help rebuild his life; a mother who visit the food pantry to help feed her family, and students from Catholic Academy of Stamford who miss their classmates but are appreciative of the online learning provided by the school.

ACA director Pam Rittman, who coordinated the video, said she hopes the video shows the impact of the coronavirus on every aspect of the diocese from increasing demand in its soup kitchens and food pantries, to the need to make a quick transition to distance learning in schools, while also providing sacramental preparation and faith formation on line.

Rittman said that now more than ever the ACA is responding to the emergency needs of people throughout the diocese and that a strong Spring response is crucial in providing resources to diocesan ministries in a time of crisis.

Please make a gift online at or text the word APPEAL to 475.241.7849. All donations of whatever amount will help us to help those in need.)

Click here for the video.

St. Rose School to host virtual meet & greet

NEWTOWN—St. Rose of Lima School will be hosting a Virtual Meet & Greet for parents of children in preschool – 2nd grade on Sunday, May 17 at 4 pm.  Meet the dedicated principal and dean of student life, admissions director, early childhood teachers and current parents to learn about the dynamic programs offered, the benefits of this learning environment and why St. Rose School could be the right fit.

Interested parents can take a virtual tour, and register for the Meet & Greet at

Questions?  Email  A warm welcome awaits you!

Bishop Announces Gradual Return to Public Mass

May 11, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In the joy of Easter, I wish to announce the good news that in consultation with the pastors of the Diocese, we will be able to begin the outdoor public celebration of Mass on May 21, the Ascension of our Lord. This is the first step in a process that will remain consistent with Governor Ned Lamont’s call for the gradual reopening of the state in a way that safeguards public health and safety. It is my hope that the reopening of our churches, which represents phase two in our planning process, may be possible soon.

Before I outline some of the proposed details for the first phase of plan, I wish to express my sincere thanks for your patience, perseverance and fidelity during this most difficult time, when public Masses were suspended. While it has been a great sacrifice for all of us, especially those who have watched a relative or friend fall ill, buried a loved one or remained in isolation and even fear, I believe that observing the state’s shelter at home order has saved many lives. On behalf of all priests of the diocese, permit me to say how much we have missed you and look forward to welcoming you back home to your parish homes.

We have also been reminded that in our darkest hour, the Lord did not abandon us.

Our planning process assumes what most health experts have told us that the threat of the COVID-19 virus will be with us for some time. Whatever we plan must avoid a possible relapse in the progress we have made to eradicate this silent killer from our midst. As a result, we will move forward in a gradual, systematic and responsible manner to resume public worship safeguarding the health and safety of our clergy and faithful.

Further, the obligation to attend Sunday Mass will remain dispensed for the time being while we slowly resume the public celebration of Mass. This is recognition of the fact that seating will initially be limited at each celebration of Mass due to the state’s requirements for social distancing and other health mandates. It also recognizes that the elderly, who are most vulnerable, should consider remaining sheltered at home for the time being. For this reason, my hope is that each parish will continue to live stream the celebration of Mass while public worship slowly resumes.

The first phase in our plan to resume the celebration of Mass with the faithful is optional in nature and will remain in effect until Church buildings and other indoor venues can be safely reopened for worship. For those parishes that wish to offer Mass outdoors, one of two possible formats can be used. The first format will allow those who attend to be seated on chairs that will be arranged with proper social distancing. Individual outdoor seating up to 50 people. The second format will allow those who attend Mass to remain seated in their cars. The number of cars that can participate in an outdoor Mass will depend upon the size of the parking lot, the need to distance cars six feet apart from each other and allow for the safe exit of any car in case of an emergency. The outdoor venue and format for Mass will be designated by each pastor.

In order to ensure an orderly process for the celebration of Mass outdoors, a series of guidelines have been established that details many of the concerns that need to be addressed, including the use of a parish reservation system either online or over the phone for each Mass, the creation of detailed norms for the distribution of Holy Communion in a safe manner and other liturgical considerations. These norms will be posted on our diocesan website and I invite you to read them at your convenience. In addition, I ask that you consult your parish website for more detailed information about your parish’s potential participation in this first phase of planning.

Finally, I have asked each pastor to draft a parish plan for this first phase of planning to ensure that the particular needs of his parish are properly addressed. The guiding principle behind all such planning is to ensure the safety and health of our faithful and clergy, while preserving the sacredness of our liturgy and worship.

As we take this first, hopeful step forward, I pray that the Lord Jesus will continue to bless you and your families in this time of enduring challenge. Let us look forward in joy and gratitude to worship and to celebrate our Lord’s blessings once again together as a family of faith.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano
Bishop of Bridgeport


General Guidelines for the Resumption of Public Mass
Guidelines for the Celebration of Mass Outdoors

Guidelines for the Reception of Communion