Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

Celebrating Champions: St. Joseph High School unveils renovated gymnasium

TRUMBULL—St. Joseph High School will celebrate the opening of their newly-renovated gymnasium and Vito Montelli Court with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, August 28 at 8:30 am. The ceremony will include a blessing by the school’s chaplain, remarks from St. Joes President David J. Klein; Assistant Principal for Athletics Kevin Butler; and Chairman of the Board Christopher Wilson.

St. Joseph High School was founded in 1962 and this is the first major renovation to the school’s gymnasium, named after Vito Montelli, whose legendary coaching career lasted more than a half-century at St. Joes. The renovation included replacing and installing new floors, overhauling the bleachers, introducing energy-efficient lighting and installing a new air conditioning system.

“We are so pleased to share our state-of-the art updates in this extensive renovation,” remarked St Joe’s President David J. Klein. “The new gymnasium will be enjoyed by our entire community and ensures the continued academic and athletic success of our students.”

“This renovation celebrates a history filled with extraordinary victories and athleticism at its finest,” stated Assistant Principal for Athletics Kevin Butler. “I’m proud of all the students, alumni, family, fans and coaches that have celebrated so many milestones here, and look forward to many more to come.”

“This means so much to our community,” remarked Board Chair Chris Wilson. “The gymnasium is home to all of our school-wide ceremonies—it’s where we celebrate masses, community events, assemblies, dramatic productions and cherished moments. The banners literally covering the walls showcase our enduring athletic legacy—we compete with the best, successfully.”

The gymnasium renovations were fully funded through reserves built exactly for such purposes over many years of sound financial management of the St. Joes operating budget, and will not affect the school’s tuition. The gymnasium will be ready for use by the first day of school for St. Joseph High School students on September 8, 2020.

St. Catherine of Siena Parish provides backpacks and school supplies

TRUMBULL—Nearly one hundred students from inner-city Bridgeport will begin the new school year this week with a brand new backpack and all of the school supplies they will need for a successful year of learning thanks to the generosity of parishioners at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull.

“This year has been filled with incredible challenges for everyone,” says Salvatore Spadaccino, coordinator for the Social Justice and Charitable Outreach team. He continues: “However, this response proves that the St. Catherine community clearly understands that we are all in this together and, as Catholics, we are all here for each other.”

St. Catherine’s Social Justice and Charitable Outreach team, led by Salvatore Spadaccino, conducted the parish’s annual Backpack and School Supplies Drive in August. The backpacks and school supplies collected from the drive benefitted students at St. Charles Borromeo Church, Blessed Sacrament Church, The McGivney Community Center, and the Convent of Mary Immaculate in Bridgeport, who sent their heartfelt thanks.

Other initiatives that the Social Justice & Charitable Outreach Team has worked on include: toiletry drive, hat, coat & sweater drive, Thanksgiving food drive, emergency food drives, annual parish giving tree, pro-life baby shower and many more.

The Parish of Saint Catherine of Siena warmly welcomes anyone who is new to our area, anyone who is searching for the truth, or anyone who is looking for a spiritual home. We are joyfully and faithfully Roman Catholic in belief and practice – a community of faith, worship, service, and formation—and with open hearts we invite all our brothers and sisters into a living and saving friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ, in the communion of His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We are conveniently located at 220 Shelton Road in the Nichols area of Trumbull.

(For more information on the Social Justice and Charitable Outreach ministry at St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull, contact Salvatore Spadaccino at caritas@stcatherinetrumbull.com.)

Archbishop Gregory: Mass of Peace and Justice

WASHINGTON—On Friday August 28 at 4 pm, Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory will celebrate a Mass of Peace and Justice in honor of the 57th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. People are invited to watch the livestreamed Mass from St. Matthew’s Cathedral via this link.

The Archdiocese of Washington’s website at adw.org will also include a link to the Mass, as will a related article on the Catholic Standard’s website at cathstan.org.

At the 1963 March on Washington, Archbishop Patrick O’Boyle—who began integrating parishes and schools in the Archdiocese of Washington shortly after becoming the archbishop of Washington in 1948—offered the invocation before Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Cardinal O’Boyle retired in 1973 and died in 1987.

Archbishop Gregory was installed as the current archbishop of Washington in 2019, becoming the first African American prelate to lead the Archdiocese of Washington. A leading voice in the U.S. Catholic Church for racial justice, Archbishop Gregory recently spoke on “Race in America: The Faith Perspective,” in an online forum sponsored by the American Jewish Committee.

He also recently spoke in a related panel discussion sponsored by Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life.

After the May 25 death of George Floyd—an African American man who died while under police custody in Minneapolis after an officer knelt on his neck—Archbishop Gregory issued a statement noting that “this incident reveals the virus of racism among us once again even as we continue to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.”

Washington Auxiliary Bishops Mario Dorsonville, Roy E. Campbell, and Michael Fisher will concelebrate the August 28 Mass, which is being organized by the Archdiocese of Washington’s Office of Cultural Diversity and Outreach.

(Right) Then-Washington Archbishop Patrick O’Boyle, at podium, offers the invocation on August 28, 1963 at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. At right is Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech that day. (CS file photo)

Catholic Standard article

Armando Cervantes to present this week’s conversation on race

BRIDGEPORT—Armando Cervantes will present this week’s “Conversation on Race” about Multicultural Voices on Thursday August 20 at 1 pm.

Armando brings over two decades of parish, diocesan, regional, national and international experience and leadership. Armando graduated from UC Irvine with a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences with an Emphasis in Public and Community Service. After receiving his master’s in Pastoral Theology from Loyola Marymount University, Armando received his Executive MBA from Chapman University. Armando was one of the co-masters of ceremony for Region 11’s Regional Encuentro and the National Encuentro in Grapevine, Texas.

The webinar series, produced by the diocesan Leadership Institute and has featured talks by teachers and pastoral ministers, and will run through September 3. The talks are live-streamed at 1 pm each Thursday and then rebroadcasted at 7 pm each evening.

According to Dr. Patrick Donovan, director of the Leadership Institute, the webinar series is designed to inform those who attend about the sin of racism and the Church’s teaching regarding it, the many forms that racism and bigotry can take, its history in our society and the personal, economic and social consequences that racism has had on the lives of generations of people.

Upcoming talks in the series:
AUGUST 27 – Pamela Harris Race and Catholic Social Teaching
SEPTEMBER 3 – Dr. Marcia Chatelain Living the Faith, Living Antiracism

(To register to join the “Conversation on Race,” visit the Leadership Institute: www.formationreimagined.org. Click to view all of the resources and information about joining the conversation: www.formationreimagined.org/conversations-about-race-main.)

Golf Classic Raises $260,000 for Inner-City Students

FAIRFIELD—The 8th Annual Golf Classic to benefit the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport was held at the Country Club of Fairfield on Monday, August 10. Clear blue skies, mild breezes, and midsummer sunshine provided donors and supporters with a perfect setting for an afternoon of golf, a cocktail reception, and a lively auction that raised over $260,000 for scholarships.

Despite some limitations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was sold out with 21 foursomes for golf and 100 guests for cocktails, all held outdoors on the shores of Long Island Sound to meet social distancing protocol. Though each of the Academy’s fundraisers are important in providing scholarships for their inner-city students, CAB’s Executive Director Angela Pohlen said this one was especially vital due to a cancelled event in March, increased requests for financial aid, and the need for an additional $178,000 to cover the schools’ reopening and to meet standards for COVID-19 cleansing.

“This is a critical fundraiser for us,” said Pohlen. “Catholic schools are the hope to a weary world, and we need to be ever more present now.”

With close to 850 students among the four campuses of St. Andrew, St. Ann, St. Augustine, and St. Raphael, the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport will provide tuition assistance to approximately 90% of its population this school year. Pohlen commented on the great sacrifice parents make to send their children to the Academy, especially during these challenging times. “It’s harder now, so we work harder,” she said. “The more kids we can serve, the better.”

Pohlen added that everyone in attendance, from the generous donors to the committed staff of educators and personnel, all remain focused on the mission of CAB in preparing students for “a successful life of leadership and service,” evidenced through the powerful speeches shared throughout the afternoon.

During the cocktail reception, alumnus Janelle Rosales ’16 spoke about the financial burden so many families face in educating their children and thanked the donors “for providing this opportunity to future generations. My teachers gave me a future, a voice, and spirituality.” A 2020 graduate of Notre Dame of Fairfield in the top 20 of her class with over 200 hours of community service, Rosales will attend Quinnipiac University in the fall to simultaneously pursue both a B.A. and an M.B.A.

Those opportunities are made possible by such donors as Jim and Judy Bailey, two of this year’s honorees. As Board Chair from 2009-2014, Jim co-founded the Annual Golf Classic and along with his wife have sponsored multiple students over the years through the Leaders of Tomorrow program. In his speech introducing Jim, current Board Chair Brad Evans quoted the Baileys’ oldest daughter, Elizabeth, who remembers her parents instilling in her the values of compassion, commitment, and confidence.

Also honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award was Ann Marie Donnelly, who retired from the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport in June after 37 years in education. Former students Michael Jones ’06 and Onyinyechukwu Nnodum ’13 praised Donnelly for her commitment to students and the difference she made in their lives.

“Mrs. Donnelly didn’t let me fall by the wayside,” said Jones, now a third-year Master of Divinity candidate at Howard University who also works full time at a technology company in Washington, D.C. In describing Donnelly as a “hero,” Jones said, “She stood up for all her students and made sure they all succeeded. She resuscitated students through her acts of kindness and gave her life to something bigger than herself.”

“She made me who I am,” added Nnodum, a rising senior at Cornell University who is studying Industrial and Labor Relations. “Mrs. Donnelly was a teacher, mentor, and friend.”

Success stories such as these, made possible by those most committed to the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport, will continue on due to the generosity displayed at the Golf Classic.

“We are unique,” said Pohlen. “Where others see obstacles, we see potential. This is our moment in history, and when people look back to ask how we served so well, I look around and am reminded of John 13:35—‘they will know us by our love.’”

By Emily Clark


 

Albertus Magnus welcomes 2nd largest class in history 

NEW HAVEN—The more than 200 members of the Albertus Magnus College incoming class will begin moving into residence halls on Tuesday, August 25, commencing the College’s historic 95th Anniversary Year. However, instead of the usual festive support of the College’s mascot Frankie Falcon’s Move-in Crew, led by President Marc M. Camille, Ed.D., students will have assigned move-in times over the course of a few days to promote appropriate social distancing and safety precautions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. All students will receive Albertus-branded PPE kits including masks and hand sanitizer, supporting the College’s commitment that all students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus wear masks and adhere to the latest State of Connecticut guidelines.

“These are truly unprecedented times,” said Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing Andrea Kovacs. “We look forward to welcoming our students to our beautiful campus with safety as our top priority. By bringing our students back safely, our Fearless Falcons will be able to soar— especially in this milestone year that is marked by courage as much as celebration.”

Following last fall’s largest ever incoming class, the 200 first-year and transfer students enrolling at Albertus this fall were part of a record total of more than 1,750 applicants, an increase of 15-percent over the previous year’s then record total. Nearly 60 percent of the Class of 2024 elected to live on campus with 82 percent coming from Connecticut, eight-percent being international students, and several of the newest Fearless Falcons hailing from New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. The class includes high achievers, with 11 percent having earned invitations to the College’s Honors Program and 76 percent receiving $15,000 or more in merit scholarships. Of the incoming class, 40 percent are receiving Federal Pell Grants and 65-percent are first generation students. Albertus Magnus College’s continued commitment to equity and diversity is reflected in the class consisting of approximately 53 percent students of color.

Move-in will be followed by a robust schedule of orientation events and activities for new resident and commuting students before traditional undergraduate classes begin on August 31, including face-to-face, hybrid and online learning options all designed to adhere to guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), the State of Connecticut and local health departments.

For the College’s Traditional Undergraduate program, face-to-face classes will continue through Friday, November 20, at which time residential students will return home for the Thanksgiving break. To help mitigate possible Coronavirus exposure and spread, students will then complete classes, projects, and final exams remotely for the remainder of the fall semester, before returning in January for the spring 2021 semester.

Additional information, details, and updates will be posted on the College’s Return to Campus section on the Albertus website.

Online Silent Auction!

RIVERSIDE—The Parish of St. Catherine of Siena and St. Agnes in Riverside announces its first-ever online silent auction!

The auction will offer everything from fishing lessons for kids to golf at Winged Foot, a weekend in the Berkshires to lunch with Father Platt, skiing at Thunder Ridge, Bill Baker’s voice on your answering machine, nutrition coaching, yoga, gift cards and much more.

Check out all of the unique offerings posted on the parish website thru Q-Giv. Bid early and bid often.

The auction will be going “live” by Aug. 30. Spread the word!

 

Foundations in Education welcomes two new board members

BRIDGEPORT—Foundations in Education, Inc. is pleased to announce the appointment of two new members to its Board of Trustees. Joining the board are Lisa Ferraro Martino and Barbara Ripp.

“We are delighted Lisa and Barbara are joining our board. They bring a level of expertise and a great deal of heart that will significantly aid us in our mission to support students and teachers,” remarked Holly Doherty-Lemoine, executive director to Foundations in Education.

Lisa Ferraro Martino has served on the gala committee for Foundations in Education for the last two years. Lisa currently serves on the visiting committee for Pediatric Oncology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and as an ambassador with the Parents Leadership Council of Fairfield University. Lisa has worked on a variety of committees to raise money for schools through annual fund campaigns and fundraising events. Her volunteer work for the Catholic Church has included translating documents for the Martyrs Project and serving as a catechist for 11 years. Lisa earned her Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and holds a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in writing from Fairfield University.

Barbara Ripp has served on the Board of Malta House for six years and has been involved in all aspects of this home for homeless pregnant women and women with young children. As a member of the Order of Malta, she participated in prison ministry and as a mentor in the Shepherds program. Barbara is proud to report her mentee graduated from college in 2020, after four years at Kolbe Cathedral High School. Barbara also volunteers with Walking with Purpose at St. Michael’s Parish in Greenwich and has been a group facilitator for the past five years. With her husband, Peter, Barbara co-sponsored the Christopher Ripp Early Learning Program, which provides after school programming for preschool children and their parents at St. Peter School, Danbury. Retired from her career in social services, Barbara earned her Master’s degree from Kean University and graduated from Marymount Manhattan College with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and early childhood education.

Foundations in Education is the realization of Bishop Frank J. Caggiano’s vision to support the Diocese of Bridgeport’s ongoing mission to advance Catholic education in Fairfield County. The primary purpose of this non-profit initiative is to support Catholic education by providing tuition assistance for elementary school students and Innovation and Leadership grants for teachers and administrators that promote classroom innovation and professional leadership development and other education-based programs.

Board of Trustees Chair Tom McInerney, remarked, “We are honored that Lisa and Barbara have joined the board and appreciate all they bring to the table in helping to transform thousands of students’ lives in our Catholic schools.”

The two new members join the existing Board of Trustees: Chair Tom McInerney, David Cappiello, George Coleman, R. Bradford Evans, Tim FitzPatrick, Michael Hanlon, Lawrence Kudlow, Leslie Lopez, Andrea Maldon, Anne McCrory, Dr. Julia McNamara, Michele Mitola, Joseph Purcell, Bernard Reidy, Gerard Robilotti, Robert Scinto, Michael Shea, Jennifer St. Victor-de Pinho, Sr. Mary Grace Walsh, and Holly Doherty-Lemoine, ex officio. 

(Click here for more information about Foundations in Education)

Program helps students in recovery

FAIRFIELD—James was just another young person thinking about his future. At 21, he had his entire life ahead of him, and he was considering the possibilities, while lying on the sofa in his parents’ Westchester home.

As he saw it, there were three options: suicide, dying from drugs and alcohol…or sobriety. He chose sobriety.

That was four years ago. Today, James Cafran is the coordinator of the Sacred Heart University Collegiate Recovery Program, which began operations last fall and is among a growing number of college programs in the country.

A lounge in the Main Academic Building provides a place for 12-Step meetings along with yoga and meditation classes. The area is available to any students struggling with addiction or related issues so they can gather and talk.

“This lounge makes people know they are not alone,” Cafran said. “It’s where students can meet other students in similar situations. They can just hang out and talk. It’s all about knowing someone who has been through, or who is going through, what you are. Whether they’re talking about being sober or whatever, it’s about having that bond and feeling comfortable.”

Cafran, who has been in recovery since 2016, is available to talk with students facing similar challenges. “Everything is confidential. They can contact me to inquire about the program, and I will maintain their anonymity,” he said.

“We have people who have problems with drugs, alcohol and life and are discontent with themselves—and that is all really the same thing,” he said. “These students are helping me with my own sobriety, whether they know it or not. I’m grateful for the people who come here and let me tell my story, and if they get something out of it, it’s a better high than anything.”

In addition to 12-Step meetings, there are all-inclusive recovery sessions for young people who may not be in a program but are seeking some type of recovery in their lifestyle or who are dealing with friends or family members struggling with substance abuse.

“We have every possible resource that anyone would need,” he said. In order to be part of the program, students must have a desire to stop using drugs or alcohol through an abstinence-based lifestyle.

The mission of the program, Cafran said, is “to create a safe and supportive educational environment where students in recovery from substance use disorders can be the best version of themselves and live to their best academic potential, and to give every student the best possible chance at achieving success through physical, mental and spiritual growth.”

Sacred Heart also has a partnership with Progressive Institute, a counseling organization in Shelton that treats people with mental health and substance abuse issues and provides clinical services for students who suffer from addiction.

Liz Modugno, the clinical director at Progressive Institute, said, “We’ll be able to assess each student to see what their needs are…and work with Sacred Heart to offer individual therapy, group therapy and other services that promote wellness and recovery.”

By next September, the university plans to create a sober living space at the Scholars Common for four students in recovery, Cafran said. A graduate assistant will share their living arrangements in the apartment. To be eligible, students will be required to have some type of grounding, whether a 12-Step sponsor, a recovery coach or participation in a program.

Larry Wielk, dean of students, said the program has been extremely well received by the Sacred Heart community. “When we send a global out to the community, promoting an activity sponsored by the Collegiate Recovery Program, we always get a response with someone telling us their personal story or the story of a friend or loved one. This program seems to touch a lot of folks on campus,” he said.

“It’s all about second, and third and maybe even fourth chances,” Wielk said. “These are strong students who suffer from a disease that they are fighting back against. And for us, it is a chance to partner with them to successfully complete this part of their journey and give them the tools and structure they need, as well as to make sure they are an integral part of the campus community.”

Bill Mitchell, a trustee of Sacred Heart since 2002 and Vice Chairman of Mitchell Family Stores, was the driving force behind the program.

Mitchell, who has been in recovery 29 years, approached the school’s president, Dr. John J. Petillo with the idea and received an overwhelmingly positive response.

“Recovery saved my life, and it gave me a life,” said Mitchell, who provided a significant gift to the university to start the program.

He also traveled around the country to see what other colleges were doing and visited the University of Alabama, which has one of the leading programs in the nation. When Sacred Heart began developing the program, it turned to Caron Treatment Centers, an internationally recognized not-for-profit organization that specializes in addiction and behavioral healthcare treatment.

“What family do you know that doesn’t have someone suffering addiction?” Mitchell said. “We stepped up to the plate and did what we did as a Catholic school. People want their kids to come to Sacred Heart because of the character of the school. We are a school that believes in Catholic education, and we support a culture of hard work, faith, honesty, niceness, kindness … and now we have recovery.”

Over the years, Mitchell has helped many individuals in recovery and has been a friend and mentor to several Sacred Heart students striving to live clean and sober. James Cafran was one of them. “I could not have gotten this done without James,” Mitchell said. “I took him before the board of trustees, and James told his story. You could hear a pin drop. Then, the board voted approval.”

Cafran’s message to students is one of hope and encouragement. It’s also a simple message: “If you get sober now, at such a young age, you will have your whole life ahead of you. I’m super grateful I got sober at a young age,” he said “But it is just for today.”

(For more information about the recovery program, contact James Cafran, Recovery Coordinator, at 914.849.8590 or cafranj@sacredheart.edu.)

By Joe Pisani

OLF Dedicates New Philip Tai Lauria Memorial Prayer Garden, with Bishop Caggiano’s Help

WILTON—Bright skies shined down on Saturday morning’s meaningful dedication of the new Philip Tai Lauria Memorial Prayer Garden at Our Lady of Fatima Church, as a group of parishioners joined Bishop Frank Caggiano and Father Reggie Norman to bless the space meant to remember and honor deceased loved ones.

The stone structure in the shape of a cross lying horizontally at the center of a circle will bear the names of those memorialized. It’s surrounded by a lush landscaped area and offers two benches for anyone who wants to pay respects, meditate or simply sit in the solemnity of the spot.

Having a memorial prayer garden was a project that Father Norman and church leaders had on the drawing board for over five years.

“When I first got here seven years ago, we had the beautiful 9/11 Memorial in the back. But it was for [memorializing] parishioners. Only a lot of our family members lost other members who weren’t parishioners, and I don’t think we ever did a proper job in acknowledging them. So I said, one day, we want a place to acknowledge them,” he explained.

Church members Phil Lauria and Elaine Tai-Lauria were significant benefactors who made the project possible. The garden is named in honor of their son, Philip, who died two years ago after battling neuroendocrine cancer. Philip attended Our Lady of Fatima School from kindergarten through 8th grade and was an altar boy and devoted volunteer to the church as he got older.

“He spent so many hours there. While he was at Fairfield Prep, they would have social projects that they would do. And I remember when the nuns lived in the house on the hill behind the church, he went over on one of his social work projects to help her with her gardening,” his mother Elaine recalled, adding that there’s a lovely connection to now having a garden that bears her son’s name. “There’s so much of the property that he was a part of.”

Their involvement, she believes, was something Philip prompted the couple to do.

“In life, this one is inspired. Sometimes you don’t know where a thought comes from when it happens and it feels right, when you know it’s the right thing to do. When Father told me about this prayer garden and I saw the sketch, I thought it was a wonderful idea. When he showed me for some reason, I said, ‘We’ll do it, Father.’ It just felt right. I think I got the message,” Tai Lauria said.

Also at the dedication were several other OLF members who helped make the garden possible with contributions to memorialize their family members. Norman purposefully kept the gathering small, only inviting primarily those families so that social distancing could be maintained as well as to let those who supported the project have a very personal experience.

During the service, as the name of each remembered individual was read aloud, their family members were called up to receive a flower from the arrangement that adorned the memorial.

Bishop Caggiano praised the OLF members for creating the garden.

“My thanks for all that you do as a community of faith. This is just a small sign of what you do. In our troubled times to have a community that is dedicated to the things that really matter, it is a great gift. Thank you for erecting this memorial, this garden, this shrine precisely because it is a public act. There’s going to be many people driving up and down Danbury Road. here who will see it and in very unconscious, and perhaps in sometimes even conscious ways, have seeds planted in their hearts, seeds to come to recognize the greater meanings of life, which will point them to God,” he said.

After the dedication’s conclusion, several attendees walked around the cross, some tenderly touching the stones inscribed with a name, some sitting on a bench comforted by surrounding family members.

It’s something Tai Lauria wanted to create by being part of bringing the memorial garden to life.

“What I think is beautiful is it’s bringing together families we have interacted with over the years, bringing us in a space to continue sharing memories of our loved ones. I saw so many names of families who we met at OLF school, on memory plaques, and that’s special. I look at this and it’s the circle of life,” she said.

Norman acknowledged how meaningful the Laurias’ gesture is.

“I give them credit. They have survived what I don’t think I could survive. And of course, it still hurts, but they haven’t stopped doing for other people throughout this all. That’s what amazes me,” he said. “It fits right into who they are. They give back in a meaningful way, that affects a lot of people, and it’s always done right. That’s them. That’s what I love about them.

Philip’s father is grateful for the opportunity to let his son continue to give back to the community, even after he’s gone.

“We’re so happy to help get this done,” Lauria said. “Philip was a gift to us, and this is a gift to Wilton and to the OLF parish. He loved the town and Our Lady of Fatima School and the parish. And even when he would come back, at 30 years old, living out in Chicago, he’d come back, but he still just loved it here. So a piece of him is here, it will live on.”

By Heather Borden Herve, GMW Editor

A sacred place to encounter the living spirit of God

BETHEL—The commemoration of the Assumption of Mary was particularly meaningful for St. Mary church in Bethel this year, as it celebrated the rededication of the newly renovated house of worship.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano presided over the Saturday noon Mass and commended the leadership and great care that was taken to breathe new life into the church.

Bishop Caggiano said he was grateful for the “remarkable work as a parish family, to take a church which was worthy and beautiful in its own right and uplift it in ever greater elegance and beauty—renovated so that it can become in the next chapter of its life an enduring place where many generations to come will come here to meet God.”

At the beginning of mass, Bishop Caggiano walked around sprinkling holy water throughout the church and on members of the congregation attending the Mass in person.

The church on Dodgington Road underwent an extensive nine-month renovation and recently opened to limited public masses in June.

“A church is a building unlike anything else human beings will put their hands to create,” Caggiano said. “It is a sacred meeting place to encounter the living spirit of God. This is holy ground; unlike any other ground you and I will walk upon.”

Significant changes were made to the church including elevating the altar, installing marble throughout the church with meaningful color choices to reflect Catholic heritage as well as updated heating, cooling and light and sound systems.

“When we come to this sacred place, we are invited to find the compass of our life,” said Bishop Caggiano, encouraging parishioners to not only bring what they experience in church to others in their everyday lives but to also invite others to come to church to experience it for themselves.

“Come here with your family and friends and with your neighbors and with those of whom you share your life here in Bethel and beyond. Come here to be refreshed and healed, freed and renewed and help me to bring the world to Jesus,” Bishop Caggiano said.

During the Mass, Bishop Caggiano poured and rubbed Chrism, a consecrated mixture of oil and balsam, on the altar. A vessel was also placed on the altar, filled with incense and burned.

“As your house is filled with a pleasing fragrance, so let your church be fragrant with the aroma of Christ,” Bishop Caggiano said.

The altar was then dressed with an altar cloth, adorned with candles and flowers before the Mass continued, punctuated with the sounds of a beautiful music ministry.

At the end of Mass, Pastor Father Corey Piccinino thanked everyone for their prayers, dedication and contributions to help make the church renovation a reality. “We (now) have this timeless beautiful church to praise All Mighty God,” he said.

A sentiment that was echoed by many parishioners.

“It’s incredible,” parishioner Susan Barr said after the Mass. “We’re home.”

Parishioner Michael Urban, also of Bethel said he remembers attending the original church on Greenwood Avenue, where standing-room only became routine before this church was built in 1995.

Details and the significance of all the changes in the church are documented in a book written by Father Robert Wolfe, who was deeply involved in seeing the project to completion. A copy of the book was given to all in attendance and is available through the parish.

“Being a part of something that is and always will be bigger than myself is wonderful,” Urban said. “I hope that this will continue for generations to come.”

Bishop Caggiano offered these words of wisdom on the anniversary of the Assumption of Mary.

“Every time you and I have doubts or fears…run to Our Lady. She will bring us to Him like a good mother will always, always be at our side,” Caggiano said. “May Our Lady keep you close to her wrap you in the mantle of her love and see us all safely to the journey our heart desires; what this sacred place teaches us, that our destination is not the ordinariness of life, it is eternal life.”

By Kathy Ann Gobin

Taking God’s Love to Heart Requires Sharing it with all

BRIDGEPORT— The great revelation of Christianity is that God’s love is available to all, but we as Christians must work to live up to that understanding in our church, our community and in our own lives, said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in his Mass for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

“God’s mercy knows no bounds and is not afraid to go into the shadows of this world. Twenty-one centuries later, no one among would dispute this revelation of Christian faith; Christ is the savior of all people, all humanity. God’s love is offered to all.”

However, while we have an understanding of words, we have not always taken them to heart, the bishop said, noting that Christians must work to root out racism, self-righteousness and division that exclude others.

The bishop’s homily was based on Matthew’s account of the Canaanite woman (15:21-28) who asks the Jesus to heal her daughter even though she is a Gentile, and Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Rom 11:13-25, 29-32), celebrating God’s love for all, “For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.”

The bishop noted that after much suffering and struggle, St. Paul, who was formerly zealous to follow the law, came to a larger understanding that God’s love was open to all.

“Through the revelation of Christ in his life, St. Paul was coming to understand what the Lord was actually doing by reaching out to the woman who was not Jewish in an area that was pagan,” he said. “ St. Paul came to the truth that God’s love and mercy are destined for every person made in his image and likeness.”

The bishop said Paul was chosen to be a vessel to invite all people- even the Gentiles of his time and those thought to be outside of the covenant or of salvation—into “the Joyful , liberating, intoxicating, message,” of God’s love, and that we as followers of Christ have same responsibility.

“We are his instrument to invite all children to encounter him, fall in love with him, and respond to him,” he said.

The bishop said the power of the scripture is a challenge for us to be honest with ourselves; not only to understand the message but to live it in our hearts as we deal with social justice issues.

“We as nation and as people of faith continue the journey to confront the evil of racism in our midst,” he said, noting that racism holds people back and denies opportunity based on the color of someone’s skin or their country of origin.

Even those with the best of intentions to heal and reform the Church must guard against “a growing self-righteousness in the Church in which people are dividing themselves into groups and camps based on preference or their understanding of the tradition,” he said.

He said that such thinking “Sometimes overtly, sometimes more subtly, creates divisions that restrict God’s generous love and creates ‘have’s and have-nots.’”

The danger of thinking that there is only one way forward is that someone chooses “ another portion of tradition, another way to pray, or another language,” that somehow they may become part of the have-nots” who are not welcome or equal, he said.

“In God’s eyes, that’s a lie. In God’s eyes, we are all loved wildly, generously, irrevocably,” he said.

The bishop began his homily by noting that as a young man he had little interest or understanding of history, but that over the past ten years he has developed a great interest in the story of the past.

“History is the narrative of the human experience, the expose of the human heart and its challenges, triumphs and sufferings.”

The bishop said that when he looks into the eyes of his grandnephew and niece–three and five-years old respectively– he wonders when they reach the age of 61, as he is now, what they’ll read about the history of our own generation in light of the challenges we face and the teaching of the gospel.

“Faced with this basic revelation and truth, when the history is written of my life and yours is written, what will they read?” he asked.

In brief remarks following Mass the Bishop invited all to join in the ongoing “Conversation about Race” webinar series sponsored by the Leadership Institute, and he said now is the time to confront vestiges of racism in the Church

“As we admit and face clear-sightedly the sins of the past and those that endure in our midst, can we dare to hope that we can write a new chapter of history in which all God’s children are treated equally and lovingly and united together to offer the message of salvation to a waiting world. I pray that it is a reality through you and me.”

Conversations about Race: The webinar series, features talks by teachers and pastoral ministers, began on July 30 will run through September 3. The talks are live-streamed at 1 pm each Thursday and then rebroadcast at 7 pm each evening, with a question and answer sessions moderated by a member of the diocesan ad hoc committee against racism. (To view a recording of previous webinars, visit this page and click “previous webinars: https://formationreimagined.org/events-home/.)

BISHOP’S ONLINE MASS: The Bishop’s Sunday Mass is released online every Sunday morning at 8 a.m. and available for replay throughout the day. To view the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, recorded and published weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.

Catholic Academy of Stamford Creates Outdoor Classroom Space

The Catholic Academy of Stamford is beginning construction on three outdoor classroom spaces to use when students return.

Organizers say this new space will be critical in keeping children 6 feet apart and allowing them to breathe fresh air.

K&J Tree service donated wood chips from storm cleanup after Isaias, and some volunteers offered trees and stumps from their yard.

Video courtesy of connecticut.news12.com

Blessed Mother Offers Hope to a World Disfigured by Sin

BRIDGEPORT– “So perhaps today on the Solemnity of the Assumption, we can ask ourselves this question, ‘If I were to die today, what is it that I would bring before the judgement seat of God,” the Bishop asked in his online Mass.

The Bishop said Mary’s death and the Assumption give us hope in the resurrection and that our sins can be forgiven.

The Mass began with the sound of The Lourdes Hymn, “Immaculate Mary your praises we sing, you reign now in heaven with Jesus our King, Ave, Ave, Ave Maria” filling the tiny Catholic Center chapel.

In his homily the bishop celebrated the Blessed Mother’s Assumption into Heaven at the end of her earthly life by reflecting on the account of Mary’s visitation with Elizabeth, (Luke 1:39-56) 41” When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,42 cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”

The bishop said Elizabeth was an older woman who could easily have died in childbirth, and Mary, though pregnant herself, responded to Elizabeth’s frailty and came to help her.

The bishop said that Mary was “singularly graced by God,” but fully human. However, unlike us, the Blessed Mother was free of sin because she always put God and others first in her life.

“What distinguishes us from Mary is her sinlessness. In her humanity throughout her life, she cooperated with these graces and made the free choice always to remain in the life of God. She did that by placing God first in the center of all she did,” he said, setting an example for us..

“She walked in his presence. She was the new Eve that brought the savior into the world, following in his footsteps and remaining sinless her entire life.”

He said we honor Mary and ask for her help “because you and I are in a different place. We are all sinners. We’ve all been disfigured by the sins of our past. Even though we have repented, the damage has been done to our neighbors, friends, the world and to ourselves.”

As a result our experience, many of us fear the unknown and the judgement that awaits us at the end of our lives, but we can ask for forgiveness and learn to live with hope, the bishop said.

“It’s never too late for you and I to put clear in our minds the purpose of our life is to get to heaven and to be with Our Lady and our Lord, to live lives that are self-blessed and find the joy Our Lady speaks of because we put God and our neighbor first.”

The bishop said while most people are not guilty of extraordinary mortal sins, every day and in a thousand different decisions, we are challenged by the need to put God and our neighbor first.

Our goal should be to “mold our live in the image of Jesus and walk in the footsteps of Our Lady,” the bishop said.

“We do not know the day or hour of our own death, but we can ask forgiveness for our sins, and we can go into that mystery with ever greater confidence that God’s love will see us, his mercy forgive us,” and like Mary we will one day we will be able to take our place in heaven.

Lyndy Toole, who provided the music and song for the Mass, sang “Hail Holy Queen” as the recessional after the bishop led the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.

Rosary for Healing and Peace: From now until Labor Day on Sundays and Tuesday at 7:30 pm, the Leadership Institute will continue to implore Our Lady to bring us healing and peace. Young people will lead the prayers on Tuesdays and adults will lead on Sunday evenings. To join, visit: https://formationreimagined.org/summer-sunday-rosary/

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.

Pray the Rosary for the Nation

Join us in praying the Rosary for our nation.

As we approach August 15, the Sisters of Life, Dominican Friars, Servants of the Lord and the Virgin Matara, Archdiocesan seminarians, and the international Aleteia community again invite you to join us in praying the 4 sets of mysteries of the Rosary on behalf of our nation.

The Rosary video will be available at the links below on Aug. 15. Feel free to pray with the video, or on your own, anytime during the day!

Visit ROSARY on Aleteia.org