Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

An Overview of ‘Open Wide Our Hearts’

BRIDGEPORT—Danielle Brown was the presenter of the second of several webinars being hosted by The Leadership Institute, the diocesan Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism and the Apostolate for Black Catholics.

Danielle Brown is the associate director for the Ad hoc Committee Against Racism of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

During the webinar, Brown discussed “Open Wide Our Hearts,” the USCCB document in which, “the bishops say that racism arises when, either consciously or unconsciously, a person holds that his or her own race or ethnicity is superior and judges other people of other races or ethnicity as inferior or unworthy of equal regard.”

The document addresses many points, including that racism is a sin, especially when it excludes, mistreats or discriminates against people of another race.

Brown explained that the letter was the response to rising societal racial and ethnic hostility prevalent in 2014/15. “It was really the election of Barack Obama that sparked a lot of nationalist ideologies and xenophobic rhetoric,” explained Brown.

“Open Wide Our Hearts” specifically rejects organizations formed out of racist ideology, calling participation in them or fostering them sinful.

In the letter, the bishops call for a conversion of heart. They discuss racism and systems of racism, identify groups particularly impacted by both and a call to action and conversion.

The bishops reiterated that racist acts are a failure to acknowledge another person as a brother or sister created in the image of God.

Brown explained that the letter also calls out the “sin of omission,” which occurs when individuals, communities and even churches fail to speak out against racial injustice. They also condemn institutional racism in all its forms.

The letter touches on the Native American, African American and Hispanic American historical and contemporary experiences.

Brown shared that the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism has been tasked to promote justice, and to facilitate ongoing national dialogue and reconciliation by holding listening sessions and providing resources for parishes, schools, college campuses and catechetical.

“We need to recondition ourselves to see people really based on the content of their character…to see people for who they are and for their souls and how their culture informs that,” Brown said.

The USCCB letter issues a call to action, calling for dioceses to aid communities of color with struggling schools and parishes, provide catechetical training resources, youth ministry programs and support for families. The bishops also call each other to self-education through cultural and learning institution visits, and by presenting and preaching the entire Christian doctrine on racism.

“One of the biggest pronouncements that the bishops make is that racism is a life issue,” said Brown. “It’s unfortunate that many Black people had to die in front of our faces and we had to watch them die over and over again on our screens for us to realize that people having biases can affect the life-span of people of color and does on a daily basis.”

Brown explained the importance of looking at how health care disparities are affecting people of color and how health outcomes tell a story of how true this disparity is.

“Implementation has changed, most certainly, over the last two or three months,” Brown explained that many bishops are putting together committees and beginning to pay more attention to the issue of racism.

During the Q&A session, Danielle Brown encouraged listeners to be advocates for anti-racism within their own parishes and communities, by having conversations with their priests about things they would like to see and hear.

Brown explained the importance of doing what we can within our diocese to reach the people in our communities.

“Only love can draw out hate,” said Brown, “conversion as it relates to any sin is the same as converting to the person of Jesus Christ. It takes somewhere between 30 and 60 times until someone becomes open to the idea.” She explained that for people to get to the place where you are there needs to be a conversation that is digestible, coming from a place of love.

About Danielle Brown
Danielle M. Brown, associate director of the ad hoc Committee Against Racism at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), was born and raised in the Archdiocese of Detroit. She is a lawyer licensed in the State of Michigan. Before coming to the USCCB in May 2018, she served on several boards, commissions, and ministries in Lansing, Michigan, including co-founding and leading one of Renewal Ministries’s first young adult discipleship chapters, I.D.916, now known simply as I.D. She was also a diocesan delegate at the USCCB Convocation of Catholic Leaders and the National Black Catholic Congress in 2017. Previously, she was a three-time governor appointed appellate administrative law judge in the State of Michigan, and an assistant deputy legal counsel to the Governor of the State of Michigan.

(For a recording of this webinar, along with all resources mentioned, the previous webinar recording, or to sign up for future webinars, visit formationreimagined.org).

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to change the world

BRIDGEPORT—Gloria Purvis was the presenter of the third of several webinars being hosted by The Leadership Institute, the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism and the Apostolate for Black Catholics.

“So much of the conversation on race has been politicized, said Purvis. “As Catholics, we have to remember that we fight against racism because it is a sin. It contradicts the very word of God—that every person is created with dignity and respect.”

“As Catholics, we believe that we should live in a community where we share the common good—where I would not want to see my neighbor be deprived of anything,” explained Purvis.

Gloria discussed how racism is not only an ideology, it is a system, prevalent in practices, policies, institutions that began with slavery. “Once we let slavery into our country that was the beginning of the need for us to realize that we must have a spiritual response to the evil.”

“We abolished slavery but what happened to freed blacks after that? What we saw was a concerted effort to keep blacks subjugated,” said Purvis. “Our country has a history that I don’t think we have really dealt with or admitted on a spiritual level—a history that is contrary to the Gospel.”

Gloria explained that the sin still is there and can infect even those who claim to preach the Gospel.

“We need to have a real come to Jesus moment as a Church,” she said.

Purvis said that she noticed that the values of people who claimed to be pro-life completely went away when it came to George Floyd. “His past did not make him any less a child of God,” said Purvis. The same way people dehumanize infants in the womb, people dehumanized George Floyd.

“There is a difference between a criminal committing a crime within a community,” Purvis explained. “There is not as great a violation of the public trust as a police officer who is paid to protect the people they serve using violence. To say we can have one or the other is a way to deflect from police brutality and the gross injustice inflicted on the Black community.”

“It is okay if you don’t like that organization (referring to Black Lives Matter) but what are you doing in the cause for racial justice?” Purvis raised the question. She said that her response to those people would be, “Your issue isn’t with the organization it is that you haven’t been able to find a place for you in the racial justice movement—let me invite you to do so.”

Gloria explained that we have to help people understand that we are missing a conversion of heart on a massive level. She suggested we name it, apologize to God for it, and do some type of reparations and reconciliation for it. 

“There seems to be an idea that if there is to be some kind of recompense toward descendants of slaves that it would somehow take away from or punish white people…that justice to our neighbor is some kind of punishment to white people—they must not believe that there has been some kind of injustice on Black people as a whole.”

Gloria explained that if we understand that racism is a sin we would not be surprised that it still exists. It deforms their humanness and puts a wedge in the human family.

“Imagine what would happen if Catholics really got involved in the fight for racial justice and for police reform…,” Gloria addressed the listeners. “Imagine what would happen if we expected people to be treated a certain way—if we demanded criminal justice reform and health care that would care for the poor properly. If we could come in with this vision as Catholics.” 

Purvis discussed that racism is a life issue because it deals with the dignity of the human person. “The answer is to bring the full Gospel to bear,” she said.

“As followers of Jesus Christ we are called to change the world, to expel evil and not be so wedded to political parties,” Purvis said. “The only person you should be worried about offending is Jesus Christ. You are making the Gospel too small and being false in your witness.”

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano thanked Gloria, “for an inspiring and honest conversation.” Purvis commended the bishop for making these webinars available, stating, “you are truly a shepherd to your flock.”

About Gloria Purvis

Gloria Purvis is a graduate of Cornell University and she worked for nearly two decades in the mortgage industry before becoming a risk management director at a major financial services company. She served on the National Black Catholic Congress’ Leadership Commission on Social Justice, and as an Advisory Board Member on the Maryland Catholic Conference’s Respect for Life Department as well as the Archdiocese of Washington’s Pastoral Council. Gloria is the co-host of EWTN’s Morning Glory.

(To view a recording of yesterday‘s webinar and to see previous webinars, visit this page and click “previous webinars: https://formationreimagined.org/events-home/.)

Priest offers ‘Simple Steps’ to healing prayer

DANBURY—Shortly after Father Lawrence Carew was ordained and assigned to St. Peter Church in Danbury in 1967, he learned that an 8-year-old altar server was sick with no hope of recovery.

“After I heard the news, it stayed with me that I had to pray for his healing,” he recalls. “I went to my room and spent a lot of time praying for him, and then at lunch I prayed for another hour.”

At 2 pm he went to see the boy in the hospital.

“He looked like a living skeleton,” Father said. “He had been diagnosed with diabetes and had such severe dehydration that by the time they discovered it, too much damage had been done, and they gave him no hope to live.”

He asked the boy’s mother if he could anoint him, but she said that a priest friend would give the boy the sacrament at the time of death. Nevertheless, Father walked over to the boy, prayed for his healing and anointed him.

When he returned to the hospital at 7 p.m., the boy was totally restored. The doctor, a non-Christian, said there was no explanation for his recovery and that it had to be a miracle.

The encounter taught Father an enduring lesson. The Sacrament of the Sick should be administered not just as a last rite or for those in danger of dying, but for anyone afflicted with illness.

The Second Vatican Council had recently concluded, and there was a new emphasis on the Sacrament of the Sick and healing prayer. In three different documents, the Council said the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today and should be used not just by clergy but also laypeople.

“That became a whole new lens through which I viewed my priesthood,” he said. “Simply by being a priest, I have gifts that I’m supposed to use. I prayed to receive the gifts that Jesus wanted to give me for healing. All priests have them, especially connected to the Sacrament of the Sick.”

Healing prayer has undergone a real change since the Second Vatican Council, Father said: “It has become more popular in the Catholic Church and beyond. It is a powerful adventure to bring people into a relationship with our Lord and give them healings and freedom from past hurts.”

Several years later, when he came into the Charismatic Renewal, Father found a movement where people were already praying for each other.

“The healing ministry of Jesus, which he exercised during his three years of ministry and also in the early Church with the apostles and missionaries, was always meant to be a central part of the mission of the Church,” Father Carew said. “From time to time, healing prayer gets lost in Church tradition, but then it gets renewed and revived. We live in a period when it is getting renewed and revived.”

This means that Jesus continues to heal people of what are considered hopeless illnesses and spiritual wounds.

Father Carew, who has a healing ministry in the prison system, has been active in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal since 1971 and was named spiritual adviser to the renewal in 1997. He has also served in several leadership positions in the national Catholic Charismatic Renewal. He is the author of several books and healing workshops, including “Six Simple Steps Into Healing Prayer.”

“Through healing prayer, we invite Christ to the places inside of us that are in pain, physically, emotionally and spiritually,” Father says. “It is based on a trust that the Lord cares about those things and that there can be a solution through our relationship with him. I wrote ‘Six Simple Steps’ for use in parishes to bring people to authentic conversions. The purpose of the retreat is to bring evangelization to parishioners and get Catholics into a personal encounter with the Lord as Savior.”

Even though he wrote it as a Catholic priest, other Christians can use the retreat.

“I discovered after years of healing Masses that a lot of people come into powerful experiences, and even if they don’t get the physical healing, they know Jesus is there, touching them and giving them comfort.”

“Six Simple Steps” is based on Father’s 53-year ministry in healing prayer. The program includes teachings that help Christians reach healing of body, mind and spirit.

“There still remains widespread ignorance among many Christians, from a variety of backgrounds, of the availability and fruitfulness of this kind of prayer,” Father says. “Skeptical Christian believers and even non-believers have opened themselves to healing surprises when they have taken the risk of giving healing prayer a try. Christ, the source of such healing, is so often experienced as being truly close and really present. Such good news invites folks to take up the journey and be further evangelized.”

Father tells the story of a man who was suffering from severe lung cancer and came to a healing Mass at St. Joseph Church in Danbury 23 years ago at the suggestion of his niece. He had no religious formation, but told Father, “I’ll try anything.”

“Although he was agnostic, he knew from that Mass that the Lord was real,” Father recalled. “We prayed with him, and he had an awareness that Christ was there, loving him and forgiving him.”

Several months later, the man returned and even though his physical condition had not improved, he wanted to receive more blessings. After Mass, he told Father, “I probably won’t be living much longer, but would you baptize me and bring me into the Church?”

After several weeks, Father baptized and confirmed him and gave him his first Communion.

A year later, Father learned that the man had been healed of his cancer. Twenty-three years later, he discovered that not only had the man been healed but that he lived out the rest of his life giving witness to Christ.

“I was stunned to learn from his niece that there was so much more to his story,” Father said. “She overflowed with joy and shared examples of how his conversion to Christ had not only blessed him with many more years of healthy life, but also with many more years of his giving bold and unashamed witness of what Our Lord had done for him.”

The man’s message was simple and yet profound: “I didn’t know whether God was real or not. Loaded with lung cancer, I saw no reason why I shouldn’t give healing prayer a try. Jesus then not only let me know that he loved me, he also wanted to fill me with his love. He then went on to completely heal my lung cancer. He’s not just up there in Heaven. I now know, as well, that he’s really down here too, ready to bless us with blessings beyond imagination. Don’t miss out on it!”

Father said, “When people of faith and compassion cry out to Jesus on behalf of brothers and sisters who are in real need or in deep pain, Jesus shows up. Broken hearts get mended. Sinful hearts get cleansed. Tormented souls know peace. Wounds that seemed so permanent and unhealable just shrink and even disappear.”

“Six Simple Steps Into Healing Prayer” can be done individually or with a group. It offers presentations that discuss healing prayer through biblical wisdom and testimonies of Christ’s healing activity in lives today. At the end of each talk, there are prayers that people are encouraged to say.

“The deepest healing of all,” Father says, “is spiritual healing and coming to know we are loved by God and are children of God … and knowing this in a deep spiritual sense.”

To obtain copies of the “Six Simple Steps Into Healing Prayer” retreat, on DVD or the printed version, visit www.communityofthecross.com.

Father Carew is available to give healing retreats and Masses at parishes, and he will do follow-up with people to offer counseling and prayer at the Community of the Cross chapel in Danbury. For more information, call the Catholic Charismatic Renewal office at 203.456.5610.

Commencements celebrated safely amidst pandemic

FAIRFIELD COUNTY—The coronavirus pandemic has posed unique challenges for all. For the Class of 2020, this meant not getting to enjoy the usual rites of passage as they reached the culmination of their either middle or high school years. Schools throughout the diocese found innovative ways to still celebrate their students—through social distanced graduation ceremonies, giving students the opportunity to take pictures with their family on campus, and more. Here are just a few snapshots of graduation ceremonies in a pandemic.

St. Rose of Lima

NEWTOWN—St. Rose School’s eighth-grade graduation ceremony which took place on Friday, June 26 in the school parking lot. Mr. Gjoka, principal, Mrs. Petrillo, eighth-grade homeroom teacher, Mrs. Bokuniewicz, dean of student life and Msgr. Bob, pastor, along with the class parents, worked very hard to make the celebration possible despite these different times.

Chairs were arranged alphabetically for every student and their parents. The ceremony was limited to parents and siblings only to adhere to safety measures. Every student and guest wore a mask.

There are 24 graduates, all going off to a variety of high schools including Newtown High School, Immaculate High School, St. Joseph High School, Canterbury, Fairfield Prep, Hopkins School and The Gunnery. Several of the students received merit scholarships based on their entrance test scores.

St. Joseph High School

TRUMBULLSt. Joseph High School conferred diplomas upon 213 students on Saturday, July 11, 2020. The Class of 2020 achieved a 100 percent college acceptance rate, with 99 percent going on to four-year schools, and earned for themselves over 25 million dollars in scholarships and tuition assistance.

The Blessing and Conferral of Diplomas was held at Dalling Field on the school’s campus. Parents were confined to their cars, while the graduates were socially distanced in masks on the lower field, in conformance with the CDC and State of Connecticut guidelines. During the ceremony, pre-recorded videos from Ms. Vicki A. Tesoro, first selectman of the Town of Trumbull and Mr. Christopher Wilson, chairman of the board of St. Joseph High School, offered their congratulations and best wishes to the Class of 2020.

Your graduation is not like any other. But then the Class of 2020 is unlike any other,” remarked recently retired head of school, Dr. William Fitzgerald during his speech. “Ironically, in February, we were talking about how to get the iPhones out of your hands. Today, we are looking to you—the social media generation—to understand what continuous learning is all about. This spring has showed us, that in many ways, this is already your world and we are just catching up.”

Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Academy

WILTON—On Friday evening, June 12, 2020, Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Academy held commencement exercises for its graduating eighth-grade class. Featured commencement speakers were Clara and Gerry Davis, parents of a graduating student and Stanley Steele, school principal. The event included a Mass celebrated in the church parking lot and homily offered by Our Lady of Fatima Church pastor, Father Reginald Norman.

The graduates will attend the following high schools in the fall (listed alphabetically): Fairfield College Preparatory School, Immaculate High School-Danbury, Lauralton Hall-Milford, New Canaan High School, Norwalk High School, Notre Dame High School-Fairfield, Saint Joseph High School-Trumbull and Wilton High School.


 

Apostles of the Sacred Heart Celebrate Vow Renewals, New Novice 

HAMDEN—The Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus celebrated the renewal of vows of four junior professed Sisters and welcomed one Sister into the Novitiate on July 31, 2020.

In a Mass celebrated by Rev. Thomas Kelly, Sr. Catherine Francis Brodersen, ASCJ; Sr. Allison Lorraine Masserano, ASCJ; Sr. Catherine Ann Phillips, ASCJ; and Sr. Kelsey Ann Shaver, ASCJ renewed their temporary vows of poverty, chastity and obedience at Mount Sacred Heart Chapel in Hamden. These vows are renewed annually until Perpetual Profession.

Sr. Catherine Frances of Lansing, Kan., currently teaches theology at Cor Jesu Academy, the Apostles’ Catholic high school in St. Louis. She holds a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from Benedictine College and a master’s in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. 

A Bronx native, Sr. Allison Lorraine will start her new ministry as a teacher at Cor Jesu Academy in St. Louis this fall. For the past two years, she taught at St. Raphael Academy in Bridgeport. Sr. Allison earned a bachelor’s degree in theology from Georgetown University.

Sr. Catherine Ann is beginning her second year in ministry at Santa Maria School in the Bronx. A native of St. Louis, she is an alumna of Cor Jesu Academy. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nonprofit leadership from Rockhurst University.

A convert to the faith, Sr. Kelsey Ann is a native of Rolla, Mo. She was confirmed as a Catholic in 2009 while earning her undergraduate degree in exercise science at St. Louis University. She went on to earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy from St. Louis University. Sr. Kelsey has been ministering as a physical therapist to the retired and infirm Apostles at Sacred Heart Manor in Hamden since 2017.

Prior to the renewal of vows, Sr. Allison Zink entered the Novitiate, the second phase of formation. It is at this stage that women receive the title of Sister and officially become members of the Congregation. A native of St. Louis, Sr. Allison holds a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders from Rockhurst University.

Three Apostles of the Sacred Heart Profess Final Vows

HAMDEN—The Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus joyfully celebrated the Perpetual Profession of three Sisters on August 1, despite limitations due to COVID-19.

Sr. Elizabeth Doyle, ASCJ; Sr Clara Mahilia Roache, ASCJ; and Sr. Christina Skelley, ASCJ professed their final vows in a small, socially-distanced Mass celebrated by the Most Reverend Peter A. Rosazza, D.D., Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Hartford, at Mount Sacred Heart Chapel in Hamden. Rev. Jaime Maldonado-Avilés concelebrated and Rev. Matthew Gworek served as Master of Ceremonies.

Attendance was limited to the Sisters’ parents and Apostles from Connecticut and New York. All other family, friends and Apostles outside Connecticut and New York watched a livestream of the Mass. Even knowing their celebration would be very different from what they envisioned over the years, Sr. Elizabeth, Sr. Mahilia and Sr. Christina made the conscious decision not to postpone.

“It would have been meaningful to have all our family and community present, but it would have been more excruciating for us to have to wait another year,” Sr. Mahilia said.

Sr. Elizabeth, Sr. Mahilia and Sr. Christina all entered the Congregation in August 2012. They professed their first vows as Apostles in 2015.

Originally from St. Louis, Sr. Elizabeth, 30, ministers at Sacred Heart Academy in Hamden as a teacher and Director of Campus Ministry. She is an alumna of Cor Jesu Academy in St. Louis, the sister school of Sacred Heart Academy. Sr. Elizabeth earned dual bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and social work from the University of Missouri, and a master’s in Spanish from St. Louis University. She also studied theology at both Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Connecticut and Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.

Sr. Mahilia, 40, was born and raised in St. Lucia. She joined the faculty at Cor Jesu Academy in St. Louis this month and previously taught 4th grade at Santa Maria School in the Bronx. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international studies from Central Connecticut State University and a master’s in international trade policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in California. Sr. Mahilia also earned a four-year biblical studies certificate from the Catholic Biblical School of the Archdiocese of Hartford.

A native of Aurora, Ill., Sr. Christina, 35, is a convert to the faith. She was received into the Catholic Church in 2006 while she was a student at Washington University in St. Louis, where she earned a bachelor’s in humanities. She also holds a master’s in education from St. Louis University. Sr. Christina teaches 5th grade and music at St. Joseph School in Imperial, Mo. She’s been in ministry at St. Joseph since 2017.

Back to School Makeover

St Matthew Knights Spruce Up Playgrounds at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Academy

NORWALK—Summer is usually a time for rest and relaxation but need knows no season so that is why the St. Matthew Knights of Columbus make sure to help whenever it is needed.

On Saturday, August 8th the council hitched up their work boots, grabbed their rakes and wheel barrows, and went to work on beautifying the ground of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Academy. The Knights, parents and students spread over 70 yards of mulch for their playgrounds and gardens. As schools prepare to come back in person after three plus months of distance learning and summer break it is important to spruce up the grounds for the children and make the school a welcoming and warm place.

“Anything we can do to help make the return to school even a little bit better especially during these unpredictable times is a great thing,” said Council Grand Knight Anthony Armentano.

It was a large job made much easier by a large turnout from the Knights, who assisted some parents and students from OLF Catholic Academy. St. Matthew Knight’s member AJ Cossuto of AJ’s Landscaping Service, LLC donated his equipment to help move the mulch to the two playgrounds. “We are so thankful for Brother AJ’s generosity in donating his time and equipment to this project, said Council Past Grand Knight and project chairman George Ribellino.

This is the third year Council 14360 has assisted Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Academy and has become an annual council event Carmel Bowron, one of the parents at OLF Catholic Academy, reached out to the St. Matthew Knights in 2018 since she was familiar with their work at St. Matthew Church, All Saints Catholic School, Notre Dame Health and Rehabilitation Center and Malta House. Ribellino went on to say, “Our council loves to help the local community and we are always ready for put ‘Faith in Action’ and assist those in need.”

Grand Knight Anthony Armentano praised his brothers for their efforts. “I am so proud and thankful of my Brother Knights for always answering the challenge by helping those in need. They never back down from a challenge big or small.

The council uses the various talents of the members to take on large cleaning, repair and landscaping projects including remodeling a chapel, painting of rooms at Malta House and the mulching/landscaping projects at the local Catholic Schools and Notre Dame Health and Rehab Center. The Council just finished a major painting project at Regina Pacis Academy in Norwalk.

“Catholic Schools are struggling financially and have limited budgets so if we can provide labor to help save on costs, we are honored to do it, “said Ribellino.
The Council is planning to help paint the office at the school in the next few weeks.

“It’s what Knights do, Leave No Neighbor Behind,” said Armentano.

The mission of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Academy is to provide, in a creative atmosphere, a child-centered education of academic excellence for our students from Preschool through 8th grade. It is based on Catholic principles and traditional Christian values supported by strong family commitment. For more information go to olfacademy.org.

The goal of the Knights of Columbus Council at Saint Matthew Church in Norwalk is 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.

(For more information, visit saintmatthewknights.com.)

Few Prayers as Easy to Say as, ‘Lord Save Me’

BRIDGEPORT— “Even if we’ve gotten out of the boat like Peter and feel like we’re sinking, we can say the same prayer, ‘Lord save me,’” said Fr. Frank Hoffmann in his homily for the Mass for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Fr. Hoffmann, who is diocesan Vicar for Clergy and former pastor of St. John Parish, Darien, was the guest celebrant and homilist for Bishop Frank J. Caggiano’s weekly online Mass from the Catholic Center chapel.

Reflecting on Matthew (14:22-33) “ 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”32 After they got into the boat, the wind died down,” Fr. Hoffmann said the Gospel speaks to us in troubled times.

‘Over the last few months we have reason to be afraid as we face an uncertain future, try to prepare, and don’t know what’s going to happen. Are schools going to open? Are we going back to lock down? There’s a lot to scare us, but we have Jesus,” Fr. Hoffmann said.

Fr. Hoffmann said we are all like the Apostle Peter and sometimes our faith is not as strong as we would like it to be, but Jesus is always there for us if we reach out to him.
Peter in his fear and imperfect faith “gets out of the boat and begins to walk toward Jesus. No one else does that,” said Fr. Hoffmann.

Fr. Hoffmann said the words, “Do not be afraid” appear in all the Gospels and that many times during our lives, we may find ourselves calling out, “Lord save me.”

When we are frightened, the Gospel tells us to ‘Take courage and do not be afraid,” said Fr. Hoffmann, who noted that one of the most common refrains of Saint John Paul II was, “Don’t be afraid. Fear not.”

“We must take courage to do our best and take chances to reach out to the Lord… His promise to us is to put out his hand and pull us back into the boat,” he said.

Fr. Hoffmann said Peter made many mistakes and even grievously denied knowing Jesus, but his faith saved him. He became “prince of the apostles and one of the leaders of the early Church,” because though he called out in fear, he walked in faith.

“There are few prayers as easy for us to say as, ‘Lord save me,” said Fr. Hoffmann.

Before leading the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel at the end of Mass, Fr. Hoffman thanked those who joined the online liturgy and said he hoped their day and week was filled with many blessings.

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.

What does the Catholic Church teach about nuclear weapons?

On Aug. 6 and 9 the world will observe the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The 75th anniversary raises the question: What does the church teach about nuclear weapons?

Two popes have visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki to highlight the dangers of nuclear war and to mourn its victims. St. John Paul II made the first papal visit in 1981. Last November, Pope Francis made the second.

Since the 1945 bombings, popes have addressed and developed the teaching on nuclear weapons in consistent and increasingly urgent ways. The bishops of the United States have amplified and applied this teaching.

So what does the church teach about nuclear weapons? Its teaching is anchored in a concern to protect human life, an acknowledgement that peace is ultimately built on justice and a need to place strict moral limits on the use of force.

Any use of force must be proportional and discriminating. Force must not cause evils greater than what it aims to achieve. Force must discriminate between combatants and civilians.

In 1954, Pope Pius XII argued that “every possible effort must be made to avert (atomic warfare) through international agreement.”

He condemned “the pure and simple annihilation of all human life within the radius of action.” Pope Pius made the moral argument that the use of force must be limited to “self-defense” within “rigid limitations.”

St. John XXIII built upon this teaching in his 1963 encyclical letter, “Peace on Earth”: “The stockpiles of armaments which have been built up in various countries must be reduced all round and simultaneously by the parties concerned. Nuclear weapons must be banned.”

The Second Vatican Council was equally clear that “any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities … is a crime against God and man himself.” The council maintained that the arms race “is not a safe way to preserve a steady peace.”

Instead of eliminating the “causes of war,” the arms race aggravates them. “Extravagant sums” are spent on weapons and not on the underlying causes of conflict and the “multiple miseries” afflicting humanity.

St. Paul VI called “development, the new name for peace” in his 1967 encyclical letter, “On the Development of Peoples”: “For peace is not simply the absence of warfare, based on a precarious balance of power; it is fashioned by efforts directed day after day toward the establishment of … a more perfect form of justice.”

Pope Paul also inaugurated the annual World Day of Peace (Jan. 1) in 1968. In the first papal Peace Day message, he decried “frightful weapons of extermination” and the expenditure of “enormous financial” resources that “hinder(s) the development of so many other peoples.”

Addressing diplomats in 2003, St. John Paul II was emphatic. “‘NO TO WAR!’ War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity.” He singled out “those who still place their trust in nuclear weapons.”

Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 starkly warned “those governments which count on nuclear arms as a means of ensuring the security of their countries.” He called their viewpoint “completely fallacious.” “In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims,” he added.

Pope Francis has frequently addressed the moral and life-threatening dangers of nuclear weapons. In a message to the 2014 Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, he wrote: “Nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutually assured destruction cannot be the basis for … peaceful coexistence among peoples and states.” He decried how expenditures “on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations.”

The U.S. bishops have issued two pastoral letters on the issue, “The Challenge of Peace” (1983) and “The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace” (1993). In the first, they called upon the whole world to “say ‘no’ to nuclear conflict; ‘no’ to weapons of mass destruction; ‘no’ to an arms race which robs the poor and the vulnerable.”

In the second, they asserted: “The eventual elimination of nuclear weapons is more than a moral ideal; it should be a policy goal.”

What about the role of “nuclear deterrence”? In 1983, the U.S. bishops echoed the 1982 judgment of St. John Paul: “In current conditions ‘deterrence’ based on balance, certainly not as an end in itself but as a step on the way toward a progressive disarmament, may still be judged morally acceptable.”

Decades later, the church has reexamined “current conditions.” Nuclear deterrence has not led to “progressive disarmament” and a global nuclear ban. In fact, the nuclear powers are investing heavily in modernizing nuclear arsenals.

Given these conditions, in Hiroshima, Pope Francis declared: “The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral.” Earlier this year, the U.S. bishops’ International Justice and Peace Committee highlighted the efforts of Pope Francis and reaffirmed the longstanding “moral obligation to recommit to the work of ridding the world of nuclear weapons.”

The church’s teaching is clear and compelling. World leaders should work for a mutual, verifiable ban on nuclear weapons and instead invest in peace.

(Stephen M. Colecchi retired as director of the Office of International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2018. He currently serves as an independent consultant on Catholic social teaching and international issues of concern to the church.)

By Stephen M. Colecchi | catholicnews.com

The Catholic Academy of Stamford Re-Opening Plan

August 7, 2020 For Immediate Release from The Catholic Academy of Stamford

Stamford, CT – This summer was like no other for the faculty and staff at The Catholic Academy of Stamford as they worked tirelessly to get the school prepared for reopening. This effort was led by school principal, Patricia E. Brady. Following the guidelines set forth by federal, state, local and Diocesan authorities, The Catholic Academy of Stamford is ready to reopen this fall for in-person instruction, five days per week.

“Kudos to our faculty and staff who have worked hard this summer to prepare our physical spaces within the school so that we are able to adhere to the social distancing requirements as well as prepare for multiple, potential avenues to deliver instruction throughout the upcoming school year. No one person could do this alone and I am blessed to have a faculty and staff here that truly demonstrated what this school community has always been about – providing our students with a faith-filled, safe, nurturing, academically challenging environment”, states Brady.

Brady continues, “We have prepared for three different scenarios – In person learning, sudden closure resulting in distance learning, as well as, the option for individual families who need temporary distance learning for their children while we are open for in person learning”.

“I am also grateful for the excellent leadership of our Superintendent, Dr. Steven Cheeseman and his team at the Diocese, who have provided to all administrators and teachers the guidance, support and professional development so needed during this time of uncertainty,” Brady said.

The Catholic Academy of Stamford conducted two Parent Preview Days on July 28-29, where over 100 families attended and offered positive feedback involving the school’s reopening measures.

“What makes me feel secure about sending my kids back is the amount of safety measures the school is taking to make our families feel safe,” said Keri LaRa, a parent of a second-grader and fifth-grader at the school. “Plus, the communication has been tremendous. I feel secure knowing there’s a plan, and knowing that as things shift, the school will navigate too.”

Jeanette Noriega, a mother of a third-grader at the school appreciates the safety measures the school is planning to administer. “I am pleased with the necessary social distancing precautions the school has come up with,” Noriega said. “All the desks have been measured to be six- feet apart. The kids’ school supplies are kept separately to prevent any sharing of supplies or cross contamination. Despite all the new safety measures in place, the classroom still feels warm and inviting. With all the changes going on, it’s important that the kids feel their classroom is a safe and inviting place.”

Robyn Neto, mother of a 5th grade student said “The administration and teachers have clearly spent weeks preparing to have our children return to a safe and nurturing environment under these very unusual circumstances. I am pleased that my daughter will be able to reunite with her friends in a socially distant academic environment. If the school doors were to open for tomorrow we would be ready to send her—and Emma would be happy to go back!”

Caroline Coffey, mother of 6th grade daughter Ava stated “I feel a lot better after the recent classroom tours. As a parent, I was a bit hesitant to send the kids back full-time, but CAS has created a fool proof setup to keep the children as safe as possible. The desks are spaced out, the common areas are significantly reduced, the teachers have a process in place and the amount of PPE around is incredibly reassuring.”

In addition to having the entire school prepped and ready to go for social distancing, they are in the process of building three outdoor learning spaces to enable the students and faculty plenty of outdoor time and fresh air. The school has designed extensive plans for sudden school closure and the need for temporary at-home instruction. This is something that The Catholic Academy of Stamford has exceled in this past spring with the sudden closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Since last March we have stepped up to the plate in order to come up with new and exciting ways to keep our students engaged and learning everyday, said Jeanne Bererich, who teaches 2nd grade at The Catholic Academy of Stamford. “By participating in countless hours of PD on exciting online platforms such as SeeSaw and Nearpod, I feel more ready than ever to take on teaching in the fall whether that is in the classroom with my students, or from a distance! No matter what obstacles are thrown our way I know that the CAS community is ready for the challenge. We are excited to welcome our students back to school and to help them continue to grow not only academically, but also in their faith so they can continue to put their trust in God no matter what obstacles they may face”.

Michelle DeRubeis, who teaches ELA for grades 6-8 at the school stated “This coming school year will provide both unique opportunities and challenges in the newish normal of education in and out of the classroom. I have no doubt that my 6th, 7th and 8th graders will meet both head on, and will exhibit true witness and leadership for their fellow CAS classmates to follow. It will be exciting to work in the same building with the CAS colleagues that I have come to know and respect. After 30 plus years with the Diocese of Bridgeport, I am truly blessed to continue the path of education with our wonderful students and their families.”

The Catholic Academy of Stamford is a fully accredited pre-K through grade 8 school through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Grades PreK3 through grade 5, caters to students at the beginning of their educational journey. Personalized learning is integrated early on. Working with students and their parents to develop individualized curriculum based on the students’ unique talents and interests, small class sizes facilitate master-level teaching allowing for a better, technology-based education coupled with one-on-one attention. Grades 6- 8 offer high-school preparatory curriculum which includes high school-level math while still in middle school.

“There’s a wonderful vibe here,” states current parent, Robyn Neto. “CAS creates a great learning and social environment for the children to get a topnotch Catholic education. I love the fact that we have such a great Catholic school and community in Stamford, run by an enthusiastic and nurturing administration dedicated to education and instilling strong Catholic values in our children.”

“We prepare their children for high school, yes, but equally as important we help transform them into whole and giving citizens who will go out and make a difference in our world” states Brady.

The school is located on at 1186 Newfield Ave in the St. Cecilia’s school building. Visit their website at www.CatholicAcademyStamford.org or call (203)322-6505 to arrange a tour of the school.

Franciscan, Volunteers Help Homeless

BOGOTA, Colombia (CNS) — The sun was just rising over Bogota, and more than 50 men and women lined up for breakfast on a chilly sidewalk, with their shoulders wrapped in blankets and their faces burned by the cold wind.

After receiving a blessing from Franciscan Father Gabriel Gutierrez, the crowd of homeless people quickly filed by a handful of volunteers, who provided each person with a cup of hot chocolate, a tamale wrapped in plantain leaves and a bag with two pieces of bread.

Father Gabriel, as he is known, tried to keep the line orderly, urging people to wear their face masks and stay a safe distance from each other. He watched for those trying to get seconds before everyone in the group had been fed.

“The streets are not a romantic place” said the priest, who has been providing free meals to the homeless in Colombia’s capital for the past four years. “But this is not a time for us to hide inside our convents or our monasteries.”

Colombia has struggled to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Each day, it reports more than 9,000 new infections and more than 300 people dead from COVID-19.

Social distancing measures and lockdowns, which have been in place for months, have destroyed around 5 million jobs and dragged hundreds of thousands of people into poverty. The nation’s unemployment rate has nearly doubled since the pandemic began and now hovers around 20%.

Homeless people around the country have been hit particularly hard by this situation. In Bogota, Father Gabriel and a group of volunteers are ramping up efforts to help them survive the pandemic.

Their organization, whose name translates roughly to Mercy on the Streets, feeds hundreds of homeless people each day, at four different spots in the city.

“Under normal conditions it’s tough for these people to make an income and get some food,” said the 63-year-old priest. “Now the only food some of them can get are the coffee and bread that we provide each morning.”

A census conducted by Bogota’s city government three years ago found 9,600 homeless people in the city. Father Gabriel said that number now could be closer to 15,000.

Most of these homeless people make a living from recycling trash, the priest said, while some sell coffee on the street, some beg for money and others do random jobs for tips, like guarding parked cars.

But the pandemic has slowed down the economy severely, and now there is less trash to recycle from businesses. The situation has left some homeless people without income.

“I used to watch over shops and I would get some money from that,” said a homeless man who identified himself only as Harry. “Those shops shut down during the pandemic and their owners left, and I’ve been making no money since then.”

Many homeless people in Bogota have addictions, such as crack or alcohol. The pandemic has made it harder for them to manage this dependency.

“Some of the drugs they take have become more expensive,” said Father Gabriel. “For those who can’t afford them, it means going into abstinence, without any sort of therapy or support.”

The city has centers that help homeless people with substance abuse problems, but those centers are only prepared to serve about a third of the current homeless population.

Father Gabriel said he began to work with the homeless in 2016, shortly after hundreds of people were expelled from a crime-ridden street called The Bronx. It operated as a drug market but also provided shelter to homeless people.

“When I arrived in Bogota, I would work like any other priest, helping with religious celebrations,” Father Gabriel said. “But then I found this reality (of homeless people) and it opened my eyes. It reminded me of my vocation of taking the Gospel to the streets.”

The priest and some volunteers from his parish started to set up small meals for the homeless. Slowly more volunteers from universities and from the Franciscan movement joined, now they run an organization that has around 180 volunteers.

The free meals, Father Gabriel said, help them get to know the city’s homeless population and “start a conversation” with them. Once dialogue and trust have been established, the volunteers have been able to help some homeless people enter rehab centers or to get items like recycling carts, with which they can improve their incomes.

Pope Francis “said that the church is like a field hospital,” Father Gabriel said. “We must go out in the streets and embrace these faces that are none other than the faces of God.”

By Manuel Rueda | catholicnews.com

Our Summer Decisions Have Winter Consequences

There is an old saying in my parents’ Italian dialect that referred to August as the “head of winter”. For a rural, agrarian society, the meaning was clear. August was the time when preparations began for the coming winter months, to ensure that everything was ready. The first chore was to accumulate firewood that was needed to keep the kitchen fire burning all winter long. Many other preparations followed.

In our modern, urban world, we consider August the apex of the “lazy days of summer.” Ordinarily, these weeks saw many of us take our summer vacations, do some work around the house or simply relax from the frantic pace of life before the start of a new school year. I think it is fair to say that the winter would ordinarily be far from all of our minds.

This year, however, things may be different. In fact, the decisions that you and I now make regarding how to respond to the pandemic will have a profound impact on the shape of the upcoming fall and winter months. The lazy days of summer should not be an excuse for anyone to drop their guard or relax their vigilance against the many ways in which the virus can be transmitted. We must always keep in mind the grave consequences that will result if we disregard the future effects of the actions we take right now.

The safety measures we have been asked to observe are not designed solely to keep us safe. They are also primarily focused on keeping our neighbor safe, especially the vulnerable in our midst, which is a mandate that flows from our Christian belief in the sanctity of all human life.

So it seems to me that past generations have an important lesson to teach us this summer. August is clearly at the “head of winter”, setting the stage for the autumn and winter months ahead.  Let us do what is required of us with cheerful hearts. For to do otherwise will guarantee for all of us a long, cold, and bitter winter.

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos.

St. Matthew Knights brighten the walls of Regina Pacis Academy

NORWALK—Being a part of a Knights of Columbus Council, you try to establish relationships in your parish and community. Some relationships are expected, and others occur when you least expect it.

On Saturday, June 20 a few members of St. Matthew Council 14360 helped out with a food drive collection at Room to Grow in Norwalk. Grand Knight Anthony Armentano and Past Grand Knight George Ribellino struck up a conversation with a volunteer and she mentioned that her husband is a Knight in another town but would love to be in a council in Norwalk where they live. After telling her about our council and activities she took the paperwork for her husband to transfer. She also mentioned that her children go to Regina Pacis Academy in Norwalk which is an independent Catholic School. She asked if our council would like to establish a relationship with the school and they could use some assistance with projects before they open in September.

“This council does not hesitate when those in the community ask for help. We certainly welcomed the opportunity to form a new and hopefully long term partnership with the school,” said Armentano.

St. Matthew Council 14360 is known for its mission of putting Faith in Action and performing outreach in the community including Coats for Kids, Food Drives, painting and remodeling of the chapel at Notre Dame Health and Rehab, painting and repair work at Malta House and yearly mulching of playground projects at All Saints School and Our Lady Fatima Academy, just to name a few.

“Our council loves to roll up our sleeves and assist with labor. It saves other non-profit dollars that are not there due to limited budgets, said Past Grand Knight and project co-chairman George Ribellino.

The Council met with Principal Kimberly Quatela at the school to assess the project. Eight classrooms and two long hallways needed to be prepped and painted as well as a temp wall splitting a classroom needed to be taken down. Longtime Council member/carpenter and Project Co-Chair Tim “Tool-man” Horne reviewed what needed to be done and said this is something we could do.

“I knew we had a great bunch of Brother Knights in our Council that could handle this. It is always a pleasure to work with my Brothers so we can assist those in need,” said Horne.

So the Council put on their painting clothes and work books and started on Saturday, July 18 with the prep work, which included taping and covering the floors and some furniture. On Saturday July 25, many members of the council and a few members of neighboring council worked with some school parents and staff to paint all of the classrooms. Tim Horne went during the week to knock down the wall in the one classroom and paint the upstairs hallway.

“Without Brother Tim Horne, we could not take on some of this big projects over the years. His expectations and insight help guide us, said Ribellino.

On August 1, the Council finished the long downstairs hallway and the project was completed. It was a large job but all involved were happy with the outcome.

“A job of this magnitude would cost between 25 to 30 thousand dollars,” said Horne.

The Council is going to continue working with school on outreach project. In addition, they will help run some of the traditional Knights of Columbus youth projects such as the Keep Christ in Christmas and Vocation Poster contests as well as the Catholic Citizenship Essay contest. Principal Quatela will also help recruit some of the fathers in joining the council.

“On behalf of the entire school community of Regina Pacis Academy, I would like to
thank all of the Knights who selflessly donated their time to beautify our
school. This is a tremendous gift to our students and faculty members who
are eager to be back together under one roof this Fall. Thank you for
providing them a fresh, clean and beautiful school to come back to in
September. Please know of our prayers of gratitude for each of you and your families,” said Kimberly Quatela, principal of Regina Pacis Academy.

Regina Pacis Academy is an independent, Catholic classical school located in Norwalk, Connecticut, serving students in Kindergarten through eighth
grade. The mission of Regina Pacis Academy is to achieve academic
excellence, providing a Roman Catholic classical education taught by
teachers loyal to the Magisterium. For more info go to www.reginapacisacademy.org.

The goals of Council #14360 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 go to saintmatthewknights.com.

Sisters of Life to profess vows

STAMFORD—The Sisters of Life, a religious congregation who take a special a fourth vow to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life, and who has a retreat house located in Stamford, is pleased to announce that the following five Sisters will profess their first vows as a Sister of Life on August 4, 2020, at Annunciation Motherhouse in Suffern, NY. Bishop Gerardo Colacicco, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York, is celebrating the Mass of Profession.

Sr. Beata Victoria, 33, graduated from the University of Ottawa in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications with a minor in Religious Studies; and from the University of King’s College, Halifax in 2011 with a Bachelor of Journalism. Prior to entering the Sisters of Life in September of 2017, she worked in the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Office of Public Relations and Communications for five years. Previously she interned with the Holy See Mission to the United Nations in New York and served for one year as a missionary with Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is the daughter of Francis and Silvana Loughheed of Ontario, Canada. She has an older brother, Stephen. Throughout her childhood, the Loughheeds worshiped at Queen of the Most Holy Rosary in Belleville, Ontario, Canada.

Sr. Léonie Thérèse, 30, graduated from Lindenwood University of St. Charles, MO, in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education.  Prior to entering the Sisters of Life in September of 2017, she taught first grade at Sts. Joachim and Ann Catholic School in St. Charles, MO, for four years. She is the daughter of Jim and Catherine Weis of Florissant, MO, near St. Louis.  She is the oldest of four: Elizabeth, Sr. Anne (a Salesian Sister), and Joseph.  The Weises are parishioners at St. Ferdinand of Florissant, MO.

Sr. Anima Christi Rose, 29, graduated in 2015 from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor’s in Speech and Hearing Science and minor in Psychology; and a Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology. Prior to entering the Sisters of Life in September of 2017, she was a missionary with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), serving two years at Tulane University in New Orleans. She is the daughter of Antony and Rogy Chirayath of Lewisville, TX. She has an older sister, Merlyn. She was raised in the Syro-Malabar rite; and with the permission of the Holy See will profess her religious vows in the Latin rite.

Sr. Maria Augustine, 28, graduated from Adelphi University, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History in 2014 and an MA in Childhood Education and Special Education in 2015. Prior to entering the Sisters of Life in September of 2017, she taught 5th grade at St. Patrick’s School in Smithtown (2015-2016) and 4th grade at Holy Angels Regional School in Patchogue (2016-2017). She is the daughter of Mark and Carol Correa of Smithtown, NY; her siblings are Katherine, Matthew (wife Sarah), and Victoria. The Correas are parishioners at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church of Smithtown, NY.

Sr. Chiara Madonna, 28, graduated in 2015 from Benedictine College with a Bachelor’s degree in Theology and a minor in Business. Prior to entering the Sisters of Life in September of 2017, she served the Church in a number of it ministries and missions: humanitarian relief, marriage and family, women’s health, and religious freedom, in settings as varied as Geneva, Switzerland; Washington, DC; and her home Archdiocese of St. Louis. She is the daughter of Patrick and Carrie Judd of St. Louis, MO.  She is the oldest of six: Meghan, Annie, Patricia, Katie and Joe. The Judds are parishioners at St. Clement of Rome in St. Louis, MO.

The following two Sisters will profess their solemn vows as a Sister of Life on the Feast of the Transfiguration, August 6, 2020, at Villa Maria Guadalupe in Stamford, CT. The Mass of Profession will be celebrated by His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan.

Sr. Virginia Joy, 39, graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.  She is currently the Director of the Respect Life Office for the Archdiocese of New York. As a Sister, she has served in the New York City Visitation Mission, through which she accompanied women whose pregnancies created a crisis in their lives, seeking to bring them the spiritual, emotional, and temporal support they needed to choose life for themselves and their children.  She assisted the Sisters of Life Vocations Director from August 2012 until 2015.

Prior to entering the Sisters of Life in 2009, she served as a Residential Counselor at St. Anne’s Maternity Home in Los Angeles; as a Residential Counselor at Trinity Teen Solutions in Wyoming; and as Director of College Counseling at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville, SC. 

She is the daughter of Timothy J. and Mary E. Cotter of Greenville, SC. She has two older siblings, Dave Cotter (Bethany) and Ellen Cotter.   The Cotters are parishioners at Our Lady of the Rosary; Sr. Virginia Joy was baptized at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, both in upstate South Carolina (Greenville, and Simpsonville).

Sr. Naomi Maria Magnificat, 34, graduated from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland with a BSc in Occupational Therapy in 2007.  Prior to entering the Sisters of Life in 2012, she worked in a children’s retail clothing store, and participated in and contributed to the New Evangelization in her home country.

As a Sister of Life, Sr. Naomi has served in the Visitation Mission in New York City, exploring life-giving options and providing resources and practical support to women experiencing unexpected pregnancies or adverse prenatal diagnoses; and in the Holy Respite Mission serving vulnerable human life in the persons of mothers-in-need and their infants, born and unborn, who are guests of the Sisters of Life at Sacred Heart of Jesus Convent.

She is the daughter of Helen Collins and the late Hugh Collins of Abbeyfeale, County Limerick, Ireland. Her siblings are Lorraine (Sean) Woulfe, Kevin, Sr. Fiona Mary of Grace (Ware Carmel, England), Clare (Mike) Hawes, Siobhan, Mark, Sinead (Rory) O’Connor, Louise (Gordan) Noonan, Bernadette, Katie, Eleanor, and Kelly. Her family worships at the Church of the Assumption in Abbeyfeale, County Limerick.

The Mass of Perpetual Profession may be viewed via live streaming on the Sisters of Life website, sistersoflife.org; or through their YouTube channel.

Don’t Abandon Those who have Made a Mess of Their Lives

BRIDGEPORT— One of the great spiritual challenges we face as people may be to accompany others when they wrecking their own lives, said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano during his weekly online Mass from the Catholic Center chapel.

Reflecting on the account of the Loaves and Fishes in his homily at Mass for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the bishop said we must always walk with those who are suffering, even if they have brought it on themselves.

Bishop Caggiano began his homily by recalling the Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared.” He said he grew up in a household where he left the house ready for school each day, and if he was not prepared or he made a bad decision, his father would remind him, “You made your bed, now lie in it.”

The bishop said the gospel of the loaves and fishes is very much about the same feeling. A crowd comes out to hear Jesus and stays the entire day, but the people are unprepared to feed themselves and the disciples urge Jesus to send them off.

“This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” (Matthew 14:15).”

“The Lord’s response is very different. He does not ask them to leave but through pity and compassion for the crowd, he feeds them. They came unprepared but he was willing to walk with them in their need.”

The same is true in our own lives, he said.

“We all know people who have made awful mistakes and have messed up their lives royally,” he said, and we are tempted to respond like the disciples in the gospel and tell them to “Dig yourself out. Move on.”

The bishop said that through the eyes of faith, we are able to summon the pity and compassion to accompany those who are suffering and lost.

“Pity is that great gift that allows someone to recognize the misery of the person before us, but not in a judgmental way.”

Compassion is the decision not to turn them away, “but to walk with them, suffer with them, and guide them so they may understand the consequences of their decisions… And then to go beyond that; to learn to be healed and to hear the word that will grant them in belief a way to find Jesus and follow him to eternal life.”

The bishop said in a world where we all makes mistakes—sometimes big mistakes— we don’t have to give up on each other.

“Through the gift of Eucharist and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the Lord will help us to follow his example and bring them to greater life.”

Before giving the final blessing the bishop said he was praying for the faithful and their families and asked to be remembered in their prayers as well during these difficult times.

“May they also be times of opportunity for growth and renewal in our personal life and in the life of the Church.”

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.