CYAs’ “Summer Splash”: A Model Faith Community

|   By Audrey Cozzarin
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WESTON—The Catholic Young Adults of Greater Danbury (CYAGD) organized and hosted the 3rd Annual “Summer Splash” on Sunday, August 5, at St. Francis of Assisi parish in Weston. Father John Connaughton of St. Thomas More parish in Darien celebrated the Mass accompanied by very moving live music provided by Caitlin McElroy and Ryan Moore, followed by a pizza party (with water fight) in the parish hall and backyard space.

The CYAGD organizers did an outstanding job of gathering their group for the event, as well as opening it up and promoting it to all CYAs in the diocese.

The young adults from CYAGD are a model faith community in action. Maria Mullen, a long-time advisor to the CYAGD group, has observed, “The CYAGD is an exemplary group of faithful young adults who attend Mass and have relationships with each other.” They have become closely bonded, love one another as brothers and sisters, and truly enjoy being together.

Those gathered remarked on the genuine good time they were having whether it be when in prayer together or competing in a water gun fight. They were able to enjoy both at “Summer Splash.” The success of this remarkable, close-knit faith community is worth celebrating.

Michelle Silverio, 23, attended Sunday’s “Summer Splash” observed that while her peers in the greater world rely on texting to connect with others, she prefers being in person with friends and seeing their smiles.

CYA “Summer Splash” builds community. This year’s event exemplified the model we all need right now: Love for one another, supporting one another during life’s ups and downs, and surrounding one’s self in a faith community. Showing up. Living as God intended, and enjoying life and the abundance He has given us. Living as Christ teaches, as brothers and sisters in a loving community of faith.

Obituary of Sister Sheila O’Brien O.P.

WILTON- Sister Sheila O’Brien, O.P., age 93, a member of the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of the Springs of Bridgeport, went to the Lord on Saturday, August 4, 2018 at Lourdes Health Care Center, Wilton. Born in Glen Cove, Long Island on March 11, 1925, she was a daughter of the late Patrick and Julia Martin O’Brien.

Sister Sheila received her master’s in education at Hunter College in New York and was a brilliant educator for over 30 years. She was a New York sports enthusiast following all the New York teams closely but her true passion was the Yankees.

She was predeceased by brothers, Patrick and Jeremiah and her twin sister, Eileen. Survivors include many nieces and nephews and many great nieces and nephews.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Tuesday, August 7, 2018 at 12:00 noon at Saint Jude Church in Monroe. Interment followed at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Trumbull.

Say yes to the call to attend World Youth Day

BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Caggiano is calling youth and young adults ages 18 and older to join him from January 21-28, 2019 to travel on pilgrimage to Panama for World Youth Day 2019, extending Pope Francis’ invitation to all young people of the Church to attend.

World Youth Day provides an opportunity for Catholic youth and young adults from all over the world to come together in Christ’s name in prayer and celebration of the Catholic Faith.

“I can promise you that World Youth Day will be an incredible, life changing week, and one that you will never forget,” said the Bishop in his Facebook post announcing the event. “I know I speak for many of our pilgrims when I say that the opportunity to encounter hundreds of thousands of fellow Catholics from around the world, including the Holy Father, is truly awe inspiring! “

The theme for World Youth Day Panama focuses on Mary’s fiat from the Gospel of Luke: “I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

“Millions of young people from all over the world attend…and the most beautiful thing is that we all speak one language: the language of the love of Jesus Christ that lives within us,” said Juliana Lima, on the World Youth Day website.

Participants will get to tour the beauty of Panama, as well as participate in World Youth Day activities, some of which include: Catechetical sessions from bishops from all over the world, multiple opportunities to hear Pope Francis address the gathered, celebration of Mass and Stations of the Cross, an overnight Vigil with Eucharistic Adoration, and a Farewell Dinner Cruise on the Panama Canal.

“We have said the phrase ‘on Earth as it is in heaven’ a thousand times. And I am sure that this very phrase sums up what one experiences at World Youth Day,” said from Martin Valverde Rojas, a World Youth Day pilgrim.

Planning for the diocesan participation in World Youth Day 2018 is being coordinated by the Office of Faith Formation of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

It is not too late to join Bishop Frank and youth from around the world on this transformative and powerful spiritual journey. Registration for World Youth Day Panama 2019 is still open! Scholarships are available to help defray the costs. You can register at

Bishop Zinkula cycles across Iowa

|   By Barb Arland-Fye | Catholic News Services
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (CNS)—Davenport Bishop Thomas R. Zinkula made a confession during the final “RAGBRAI Mass” at St. Mary Catholic Church in Iowa City: “I have a love-hate relationship with RAGBRAI.”

Many of the 250 at the evening Mass July 27 could relate. They had bicycled 360 miles of the weeklong Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa and were anticipating the final 68.9-mile leg July 28.

This year on RAGBRAI, “it’s been mostly love,” the bishop said, referring to the sunny days, moderate temperatures, low humidity and favorable wind conditions. “It’s like the rich soil we heard about in the Gospel reading,” he added.

This spiritual component of RAGBRAI resonated with the bicyclists, including Bishop Zinkula’s Pedaling to the Peripheries team of 20 people.

The bishop, an enthusiastic bicyclist, viewed RAGBRAI as an opportunity to follow Pope Francis’ call to go to the peripheries, to be in the midst of the sheep, to have the smell of the sheep, to be in touch with the world outside church walls.

“The daily Masses brought a whole new dimension to my RAGBRAI experience,” Tiedje told The Catholic Messenger, Davenport’s diocesan newspaper. “It was great having so many people show up for Mass. I think for some they found the bishop to be a real down to earth human being—someone they could relate to. I can’t help but believe that good things will come out of … ‘Pedaling to the Peripheries.’”

Bishop Zinkula prepared his RAGBRAI homilies ahead of time but added to their rich soil as the bicycling experience unfolded.

He flipped pancakes with the Knights of Columbus in Harper and strolled through the massive tent city at St. Mary’s in Sigourney. He stopped by the home of 10-year-old Zach Santos in Hills for cookies and lemonade. Zach had a poster on the lawn welcoming the bishop.

The bishop also paid a visit to 101-year-old Mary Hurt, who attends daily Mass at St. Joseph Parish in Hills. A parishioner told the bishop that Hurt would like to meet him.

What was really neat,” Hurt said, “is that (the bishop) is Czech and my husband was pure Czech.”

Learning of that connection, Bishop Zinkula greeted her in Czech: “Jak se mas” (“How are you?”) and she responded in Czech: “Dobre” (“Good”). “He took my hand; it was very sweet. My husband would be just thrilled to death.” Hurt said she prays for the bishop daily, but now, “I know who I’m praying for.”

Bishop Zinkula had dinner with people in every parish before Mass: St. John in Onawa; St. Rose of Lima in Denison; St. Joseph in Jefferson; St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames; Sacred Heart in Newton; St. Mary in Sigourney; and St. Mary in Iowa City.

“They were having a meal and so I thought I’d have a meal with them and hang out with the parishioners and then celebrate Mass,” he said. “I figured that would be something that they would enjoy and appreciate. I wanted to support them just by being there.”

The themes of his homilies related to each day’s Scripture, centered on evangelization, salvation, family, leadership, looking and listening, and preparing the soil of our lives. He summed up the homilies during the last evening Mass with a call to action for the RAGBRAI family of faith:

“Having personally accepted God’s offer of salvation and joined the family of God, may we be servant leaders in the church and in the world who look closely to see God’s presence in our lives and listen carefully to hear what God speaks to our hearts. May we prepare the soil of our lives so that we bear more abundant fruit by becoming more committed disciples of Jesus Christ and by evangelizing others as we share the joy of the Gospel.”

He added, “If we do that, as Julian of Norwich (a Christian mystic and theologian) said, ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”‘

Pedaling to the Peripheries team members reveled in the ride, good weather, accommodations, hospitality, and the opportunity to bond with the bishop and one another after Mass.

Camaraderie ruled the day among bicyclists on the road and in the towns where they stopped to fuel up on grilled cheese sandwiches, pork chops on a stick, homemade ice cream, huge slices of pizza, smoothies, beer and other refreshments.

At RAGBRAI’s conclusion, Bishop Zinkula and his brother, Jerry, dipped the front wheel of their bicycles in the Mississippi River in Davenport.

“Where we go from here is Vision 20/20,” Bishop Zinkula said, referring to a diocesan journey of revitalization of faith and a renewal of grace in the spirit of Pentecost. Vision 20/20, still in its formative stages, aims to fill every heart and life with the joy of the Gospel through a fresh encounter with Jesus Christ.

“You could look at our RAGBRAI experience as preparing the soil for Vision 20/20,” the bishop said. “As we continue to talk about Vision 20/20, hopefully this gives people some ideas. We all need to be creative in reaching out to people and evangelizing in whatever way might work for a parish.”


Arland-Fye is editor of The Catholic Messenger, newspaper of the Diocese of Davenport.

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Church leaders urge inquiry into abuse claims

|   The Pilot
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WASHINGTON (CNS)—U.S. Catholic church leaders have been calling for an internal investigation into the handling of allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct against Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick and urging such an inquiry be spearheaded by laypeople.

“I think we have reached a point where bishops alone investigating bishops is not the answer. To have credibility, a panel would have to be separated from any source of power whose trustworthiness might potentially be compromised,” said Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany, New York.

In an Aug. 6 statement, the bishop said he was “heartened by my brother bishops proposing ways for our church to take action in light of recent revelations” and he agreed “a national panel should be commissioned, duly approved by the Holy See.”

But the bishop said laypeople had a crucial role to play in this work, noting that they are “not only willing to take on this much-needed role, but they are eager to help us make lasting reforms that will restore a level of trust that has been shattered yet again.”

“In speaking with them, ” he said, “we all hear their passion for our universal church, their devotion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and their hunger for the truth. They are essential to the solution we seek.”

Bishop Scharfenberger said what is currently needed is “an independent commission led by well-respected, faithful lay leaders who are beyond reproach, people whose role on such a panel will not serve to benefit them financially, politically or personally. These will be people with a deep understanding of the Catholic faith, but without an axe to grind or an agenda to push. It will not be easy, but it will be worth every ounce of effort, energy and candor we can muster.”

He stressed that U.S. bishops must “get this right” and he said he is confident they can “find a way to look outside ourselves, to put this in the hands of the Holy Spirit, and to entrust our very capable laypeople, who have stood with us through very difficult times, to help us do the right thing.”

“We need an investigation—the scope of which is not yet defined but must be defined—and it must be timely, transparent and credible,” he added.

Similarly, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, former head of the U.S. bishops’ committee on child and youth protection, said in an interview with America magazine that he supports an investigation into the handling of allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct against Archbishop McCarrick that includes laypeople.

The cardinal told the Jesuit magazine he was shocked to learn about Archbishop McCarrick’s double life and would support “a full inquiry” into why those settlements against him were not disclosed.

“We have to find out exactly what took place, especially with regard to the adult misbehavior that was alleged,” he said, adding that if dioceses lack policies on how to deal with allegations of misbehavior involving adults, then “we need to correct that.”

Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl told the National Catholic Reporter Aug. 5 that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops should create a new panel to receive and evaluate any allegations or rumors of sexual misconduct by a member bishop, adding that the Vatican could designate one of its offices to act on the proposed panel’s findings.

The cardinal said he had not personally been aware of rumors about Archbishop McCarrick’s alleged abuse of young men while he was a priest and bishop, but the cardinal said there should be a mechanism where rumors about bishops could be reviewed.

“It seems to me that’s one possibility, that there would be some way for the bishops, and that would mean working through our conference … to be able to address the question of sustained rumors,” he told the independent, lay-owned biweekly newspaper

He said the proposed panel of bishops might turn any findings it makes on an accused bishop to the apostolic nuncio, who could pass these findings on to a Vatican office.

“We don’t pass judgment,” Cardinal Wuerl told NCR. “That has to go to Rome. So, it seems to me there has to be some mechanism in the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith or in the Congregation for Bishops to evaluate any concern that a conference of bishops might have about one of its members.”

He said his idea of a new panel was in response to the Aug. 1 statement by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, that said the bishops’ conference would discuss at its annual fall meeting “the right course of action” in wake of revelations of Archbishop McCarrick’s abuse.

Cardinal Wuerl said bishops need to be ready for this meeting with work already done and ideas in place.

Cardinal Cupich similarly urged bishops to be ready to discuss this issue at their November meeting.

He told America magazine that Catholics should ask their bishops to explain the policies in place to protect both children and adults from harassment and abuse.

If church leaders “need help in that nationally, then we need to do something,” he said, adding: “Let’s roll up our sleeves when we get together in November and do it.”

Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, Missouri, also mentioned the bishops’ fall meeting, saying in an Aug. 6 statement that when the bishops convene they will “consider ways to embrace spiritual renewal and to rebuild trust.”

“I pledge to do everything I can to make the process of handling the accusations of bishops more transparent and effective,” he added.

He thanked diocesan Catholics for warmly welcoming him to the diocese last November which he said: “contrasts sharply with the sting of the recent reports of scandal regarding Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and the silence of so many bishops who knew about him.”

“It is almost unbearable,” he said, of the allegations and lack of church response, noting: “How could a brother bishop disrespect with such callousness the dignity of young boys, seminarians and priests over decades and no one called him on the carpet?”

“It is inexplicable to me. This cannot continue, and I hope with God’s grace there will be a change of culture among the clergy,” he said.

Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger of Tucson, Arizona, similarly called for further action, saying in an August 1 statement that it is important for the USCCB to review the bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” to address clergy abuse.

“The charter needs to ensure that procedures and practices are in place to hold clergy, employees, volunteers, and bishops to the same level of accountability,” he said.

Click here for The Pilot article.


Reimagine RCIA Workshop

August 17-18, 2018 at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Weston (Friday evening 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM; Saturday 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM)

This workshop provides RCIA teams with a good grounding on why the rites are the central place of formation and conversion for catechumens and candidates. Although the RCIA is a liturgical process, many RCIA team members are more catechetically-trained and focused. The aim of this workshop is not to make RCIA team members into liturgists but to give them the confidence they need to understand the liturgies of the RCIA better and how to work more effectively with presiders, liturgists, and music directors to assist them in preparing powerful rites. The workshop uses mystagogical catechesis to give RCIA teams basic skills in teaching from the liturgy. For both liturgists and catechists, we review fundamental liturgical preparation and evaluation skills, navigating a ritual text and understanding how to make use of the options and notes provided, and how to use the four liturgical arts well and to implement twelve liturgical principles. We do this all by celebrating two major rites of the RCIA and giving the participants an opportunity to practice their skills in the preparation of one of the minor rites.

Anyone who leads the RCIA process in a parish is welcome and encouraged to attend. Parishes may send a team of up to six people for one low fee. ($200 per parish team, $300 per parish team outside the Diocese of Bridgeport)

The deadline to register is August 10, 2018, but space is limited!

You can register and pay online at this event’s website at

Preparing Something Special

STAMFORD—“He’ll do anything for the kids,” says Executive Director John Gutman, of Chef Michael Arditti. The New Covenant Center Chef has been preparing and cooking the weekday meals for two years for the kids and moms at Inspirica House (shelter) in Stamford.

This week Michael donned his hoodie, winter gloves and Hollywood glasses to spend time in the New Covenant Center—4 degree freezer searching for something special to provide two lunches for 150 kids during the last week of the Boys and Girls Summer Camp at the Yerwood Center,

“Michael found chicken tenders for one of the meals. The MAVFoundation, who advocates for the end to hunger, approached us about helping out during the last week of camp. New Covenant Center served lunch to the camp yesterday and will serve another lunch tomorrow. We also want to thank St. John Church of Darien for donating juice, water, energy bars and tangerines as part of the lunches for the campers,” Gutman.

New Covenant Center provides more than 600,000 meals yearly to the working poor, elderly and homeless of the greater Stamford area. Its mission is focused on hunger prevention and social services for a better life.

The 8,200 square foot center includes dining and pantry services, bath and shower facilities for homeless guests, and a laundry room, barber services, job skills training and social programs provided at the soup kitchen to help people become more independent.

Sponsored by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Bridgeport, the inner city soup kitchen relies on hundreds of interfaith volunteers along with its small professional staff to provide nutrition and social services. Services are open to people of all faith, free of charge.

New Covenant Center is located at 174 Richmond Hill Avenue in Stamford. Phone 203.964.8228. Online at:

Pray for Peace Walk

10th Annual Fairfield County Pray-For-Peace Walk

Since 2008, Al has hosted numerous Pray-for-Peace Walks covering more than 4,000 miles. Hundreds have participated and thousands received the Pray-for-Peace Message.

Recently, on June 30th, 50 of Prayer Walkers wearing PRAY-4-PEACE shirts walked from Grand Central Station to Yankee Stadium for a Yankee/Red Sox game.

Catholic NY published an article about our latest walk.
Prayers for Peace Along New York City Streets  |  Catholic New York

Al’s Story

No God – No Peace
Know God – Know Peace

I’m 75, father of three and grandfather of nine. I would like our world to be a better place for my children and grandchildren.

I believe in Prayer and Praying-for-Peace. When we all pray for peace, there will be peace. Peace in ourselves and our families… Peace in our neighborhoods and cities… Peace in our country and in our world.

Thirty years ago, if someone asked me “Do you believe in God?” I would have said “yes”.

I go to Mass and Communion every Sunday and on Holy Days. I received all the sacraments and all my children received all their sacraments. I supported the Church and volunteered on occasion. My two sons went to Catholic High School and I volunteered there and was an officer in the Parent School Association. You see, I believe in God. But, if I was asked, “what difference does believing in God make in your life. I wouldn’t have had an answer.

My life was a mess. I felt like a LOSER, No! —big self-inflicted challenges. Big financial problems, a marriage was going south big time and losing jobs. I was lost. Full of fear and anxiety. My then wife must have been full of anxiety also. But, I was so self-centered and self-absorbed, I was only concerned about myself and my feeling of being a loser. A huge knot in my solar plexus. No God in my life. No God—No Peace. And, drinking too much, much too much. I had no idea I was drinking to much or how that was effecting my life. A big self-inflicted challenge.

By the grace of God, my parish priest and Catholic Family Services, I was lead to a 12 step program, and eventually stopped drinking. Early on at a 12 step meeting, a woman shared that she Prayed Every Day. That woman looked and sounded better than me. That was the day I began to pray everyday.

I’ve been in a 12 Step Program for almost 30 years and gone to thousands of meetings. Every meeting I’ve ever been at ends in a prayer. Step 11 of the 12 steps says, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out”. I’ve seen prayer at work.

Hundreds of peoples lives have been changed. They, like me, have come out of the grips of their addictions, out of despair, out of hopelessness and meaningless lives. Their lives were changed—no transformed and now they lead productive, useful and joyous lives. Prayer has worked in their lives.

Praying every day, hanging around people who believe in God and pray, going to meetings and going to Mass and Communion frequently, gradually changed me. Slowly very slowly.

The knot in my solar plexus went away, never to show up again. Prayer worked for me.

I believe in God’s Graces and Prayer.

I believe, if we all pray for peace, there would be peace… Peace in ourselves and our families… Peace in our neighborhoods and our cities… Peace in our country and in our world.

I would not have walked over 4,000 miles wearing PRAY-4-PEACE shirts, personally handed out more than 60,000 Pray-for-Peace Cards and organized numerous walks that hundreds have participated in, if I didn’t believe in Pray and Praying For Peace.

Prayer is working for me and working for many of us. Maybe, we, you and me, should Pray more frequently. There lots of ways to pray. Find the way(s) that work best for you. My personally best Prayer is “God make me more frequently aware of You in my daily life”. God is answering that prayer as I am writing.

If prayer is good and better than Coca-Cola, why is it not marketed more than Coca-Cola.

I’ve come to believe that we, you and me, are the best marketers for PRAYER but we keep it a secret. We belong to fellowship of Prayers Anonymous. Pew Research said that 70% of us pray. You would never know it.

I used to believe that if people saw us wearing Pray-4-Peace shirts, they might pray or think about praying. Now I believe, it is more important that they see we pray. If we get one person to say one more prayer, that’s a miracle. That person like you and me will get closer to God.

God could use our help. Pray… Pray for Peace… Pray for our 10th Annual Fairfield County Pray-For-Peace Walk on September 9th.

By praying for the walk you are participating in the walk. Join us for part or all of the walk. Information on attached flier.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s letter of support

A new generation of Gregorian chanters

|   By R.A. Schuetz | The Hour/Hearst Connecticut Media
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NORWALK—“Oh pray tell—what is this neume?” asked David Hughes jovially, melodically, as he held up a paper covered in rectangles and lines.

“A torculus!” cried a chorus of small voices gathered in the yard of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church.

And what is a neume, you may well ask? Neumes are notes sung on a single syllable. They’re the building blocks of Gregorian chants—ancient, sacred music that is still a part of Mass in many Catholic churches. And the three dozen children gathered for the 10th year of Chant Camp, run by Hughes, of Norwalk, can tell you all about them.

“I’d say it’s lovely music—and fun,” said 10-year-old Mary Kelley, of Mount Kisco, N.Y.

“It’s a really big part of our religion, too,” added her older brother, Gus Kelley, pointing to the words written in gold across the hearts of their camp T-shirts: “Bis orat qui bene cantat.”

“He who sings well prays twice,” the 14-year-old translated.

Hughes can still remember the first time he experienced a Gregorian chant. He was a junior at Fairfield College Preparatory School, where Richard Cipolla, recently the reverend at St. Mary, was his chemistry teacher at the Jesuit prep school. Cipolla roped him into singing a chant for Holy Week at a convent in Darien.

“And hearing that chant—it really changed my life,” Hughes said. “It was an encounter with beauty that I had never seen or heard before in that way.”

Now, he’s helping children discover it much earlier than he did.

“This type of singing is very rare for kids to do these days,” said the mother of Gus and Mary, Amy Kelley. “Only at Chant Camp would kids willingly sit in this extremely hot gym to eat and sing and play.”

Remarkably, Hughes was not complaining either, although he was standing outside on a humid, 87-degree day wearing a dark blue suit and leather shoes.

Every day, the children meet for practice, sing Mass, then break for lunch and games before an afternoon practice.

The games took place outdoors, with the children, as young as 5, in four lines.

“I love the neumes races!” said 9-year-old Audrey Marvell of New Jersey.

Every neume has a name denoting a distinct progression of notes, and for the neumes race, each team was assigned a neume to mimic. Because a torculus’s second note is the highest, that team raced with sideways jumping jacks, and because quilisma trills, that team raced with a wriggling prance.

“On your mark, get set, neumate!” Hughes shouted, as the teams broke into jumps and flops, flailing their way toward the fence as quickly as they could.

“We’re way too into this,” laughed a camp counselor, Giovanna Loizzo of Bethel.

Then it was time for practice. The flushed children sat down in the gym, where they drank iced water and fanned themselves with blue folders.

Hughes called them to order (“Students, students, all ye students!”) and used a chalkboard to review the terminology for more neumes, before splitting them up to sing a round.

The mumbling sounds of children’s voices quieted. Then, in their stead, clear, round notes filled the gym, cresting one after another, swelling, then subsiding.

Patti Ward, of Norwalk, the parent of two of the campers, had been tidying up after lunch, but as the children sang, she paused and lifted her face toward the music. After the round faded, she smiled.

“It’s straight from their hearts,” she said.

Click here for original story from The Hour

Trumbull woman joins Diocesan Communications

BRIDGEPORT—Elizabeth Clyons of Trumbull has been named Communications Associate in the Office of Communications of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

She will work as a staff writer and editor for Fairfield County Catholic and the diocesan website, and also report for the various diocesan social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Clyons, a 2016 graduate of Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, comes to her new post from St. Joseph Parish in Shelton, where she has served as youth minister since August 2017.

She earned her Bachelor Degree at Salve Regina in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Elementary and Special Education, and is currently completing work on a Master of Arts in Catechetics and Evangelization from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.

As a student she assisted the St. Catherine of Siena Youth Group Minister. Her volunteer commitments include service to Caroline House summer program and Big Brothers Big Sister of the Ocean State, Newport, RI.

Clyons is a member of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull, and Catholic Young Adults sponsored by the diocese. She can be reached at; phone: 203.416.1338

The Office of Communications publishes the monthly Fairfield County Catholic newspaper, which goes out to 100,000 people across the diocese. More than 13,000 people follow Bishop Caggiano on Facebook and 7,100 like the diocese. The Bishop also has more than 5,000 followers on Twitter @BishopCaggiano. For further information visit the diocesan website:

The Promise of Transfiguration

Yesterday we celebrated the Feast of the Transfiguration when the Lord Jesus brought Peter, James, and John up a high mountain and gave them a glimpse of His divine glory. It is an event that provides a key moment of transition for the apostles who accompanied Jesus and a profound lesson for all his disciples, including you and me.

Recall that this extraordinary event is one of many that occurred in Jesus’ life that are theophanies, that is, privileged moments of extraordinary grace when the true nature of Jesus is clearly manifest. The Lord’s Baptism in the Jordan is another example of a theophany when the Father’s voice proclaimed Jesus as His beloved Son. The Transfiguration is significant not solely because of what happened, but also when it happened. For soon before they arrived at the mountain, Jesus had asked his disciples at Caesarea Philippi who they believed him to be. Peter’s confession of faith was clear and unequivocal. However, Jesus and his disciples were on the road to Jerusalem, where Jesus foreknew that He was going to suffer and freely offer His life on the Cross for the forgiveness of sins and the conquest of death. Peter and the other apostles, having proclaimed their allegiance to the Lord, were also walking that same road to suffering, which would test them dearly. For this reason, in anticipation of the need for Peter and the other apostles to understand what it meant for Jesus to be the Suffering Servant and Messiah, Jesus provided them this special moment of grace to strengthen them for the challenges that awaited them.

The lesson of the Transfiguration is a simple one. We have been meditating on the meaning of the Kingdom of God, which we will inherit fully when we enter into the glory of heaven. In His transfiguration, Christ gives us a glimpse of what awaits us in the fullness of the Kingdom of Heaven. However, we cannot arrive at this eternal glory without walking the road of discipleship and embracing its sufferings for the sake of love.  The promise is that we too will be transfigured into glory, provided we walk in the footsteps of Jesus, even to Calvary.

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

Fairfield U Nursing Named Center of Excellence

FAIRFIELD—Fairfield University Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing & Health Studies was one of 16 nursing programs selected nationwide and named as a National League for Nursing (NLN) Center of Excellence. The Egan School will be formally inducted during the Honors Convocation at the 2018 NLN Education Summit in Chicago, Ill.

“The Egan School faculty have a long-standing reputation for clinical nursing excellence, deep commitment to student learning, and innovative teaching and learning practices,” stated Dean Meredith Wallace Kazer, Ph.D., APRN, FAAN. “Our designation as an NLN Center of Excellence provides the well-deserved recognition of these stellar qualities. I am honored to be the Dean of this wonderful faculty whose teaching excellence will continue to improve nursing care for years to come.”

In order to become a Center for Excellence, the selection is based on the school’s sustained excellence in faculty development, nursing education research, and student learning and professional development. Fairfield’s Egan School was specifically selected for its sustained efforts to “promote the pedagogical expertise of faculty.” Egan’s programs use the latest in healthcare equipment and modern classroom settings to provide a practical and engaging education for students while offering a strong liberal arts education with the theory-based knowledge and skills to work in the expanding fields of nursing and health studies. Students grow both personally and professionally to become committed and compassionate nurses, capable of providing professional care to people in any setting.

NLN CEO Beverly Malone, Ph.D., RN, FAAN stated, “Centers of Excellence help raise the bar for all nursing programs by role modeling visionary leadership and environments of inclusive excellence that nurture the next generation of a strong and diverse nursing workforce to advance the health of the nation and the global community.”

The designation of the Egan School as a Center of Excellence is the latest in a series of accolades. In their annual rankings for graduate schools, U.S. News and World Report named the Egan School among the best in the country in the category of Doctorate of Nursing degree, as well as Masters Nursing degree. Both placements on the lists saw a jump of over 26 spots from the previous year. Additionally, College Factualnamed the Egan School among the top 15 nursing programs in the country and the top nursing program in Connecticut.

For more information, please visit

Fairfield University is a modern, Jesuit Catholic university rooted in one of the world’s oldest intellectual and spiritual traditions. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students from the U.S. and across the globe are pursuing degrees in the University’s five schools. Fairfield embraces a liberal humanistic approach to education, encouraging critical thinking, cultivating free and open inquiry, and fostering ethical and religious values. The University is located on a stunning 200-acre campus on the scenic Connecticut coast just an hour from New York City.

A Priest Who Helps Us From His Place in Eternity

WATERBURY—Twelve years ago on October 29, Sister Veronica and Sister Rita both woke up in the middle of night with the premonition that somebody needed prayers … so they prayed. Sister Veronica didn’t realize that “somebody” was her brother.

Pictured: Brian Caulfield, vice postulator for the cause of Venerable Father Michael McGivney at his office in the Knights of Columbus headquarters in New Haven.

At the same time, Dennis Sullivan, 41, had a massive heart attack and drove himself to Waterbury Hospital, where he went into cardiac arrest as soon as he walked into the emergency department. For 26 minutes, his heart stopped beating and the staff performed CPR on him. For 26 minutes, they struggled against odds to revive him. One technician was so exhausted, he sat on Dennis’ chest, prepared to give up until the cardiologist said, “He’s so young. Let’s go five more minutes.” In those five minutes, they got a response.

When family members started to arrive, they learned the grim news. Dennis was alive, but barely. Eighty percent of his heart had been damaged, and the doctor told them, “There are no guarantees.”

Sister Veronica Mary Sullivan had been a cardiac care nurse at St. Raphael Hospital in New Haven before entering the Sisters of Life. When she got to the ICU and saw her brother’s body swollen to three times its normal size and the doctor kneeling to explain his condition to her mother, she knew the situation bordered on hopeless. Her mother had already lost her husband and her oldest son.

She looked out the window and said to God, “You can’t do this. This can’t happen,” and at that moment, the thought came to her that she should pray to Father Michael McGivney, the priest who founded the Knights of Columbus and whose cause for sainthood is being considered by the Vatican.

She knew a little about the life of this parish priest, whose family lived near hers in Waterbury on the banks of the Naugatuck River … a century earlier.

“I went to my mother and told her, “Mom, we really need to go to the tomb of Father McGivney and pray for a miracle.” Mrs. Phyllis Sullivan looked up and nodded. “Go,” she said.

Sister Veronica, her brothers John and Jim, who is a priest in the Archdiocese of Hartford, drove to the Church of St. Mary in New Haven and gathered around the sarcophagus of Father McGivney to pray.

“We begged him to help us,” Sister Veronica said.

They stayed for noon Mass and when it ended, she was alone in the pew. “I prayed like I never prayed before,” she recalled. “And then I heard it.” It was a clear, distinct, unmistakeable voice that said simply, “Tell me what I need to do.”

She knew immediately it was Father McGivney, and if he needed directions, Sister Veronica would give them. As a nurse, she understood exactly what was necessary for her brother to live. So she said, “Here’s what you have to do” and proceeded to give him specific instructions about the medication, the insulin drip, the stents, his kidneys and sugar levels. When she finished, she sensed the priest had left, and an amazing peace came over her.

“I sat up and thought, ‘Dennis is going to be all right.’” Her brothers felt the same peace.

As they returned to the hospital, John received a call from his friend, who said, “You got your miracle. There’s no brain damage—he’s going to be OK.”

Sister Veronica Mary Sullivan and Moira Sullivan Shapland visit McGivney family grave at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Waterbury.

The Sullivan family has no doubt Father Michael McGivney interceded for them and they were granted a miracle. In the years that followed, Mrs. Sullivan regularly visited the McGivney family grave at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Waterbury, where his parents and two brothers, who were pastors at St. Charles in Bridgeport, are buried. She planted flowers, she cared for the grave, she prayed, and she thanked Patrick and Mary McGivney, whose son had saved her son.

The cause for sainthood

Brian Caulfield of the Knights of Columbus has been vice postulator for Father McGivney’s cause for sainthood since January 2012, and during that time he has examined many cases in which the founder of the Knights has touched people’s lives. Since the priest’s cause for sainthood began in 1997, Caulfield estimates there have been more than 1000 favors granted to individuals who prayed for Father McGivney’s intercession before the Throne of God — an alcoholic enters recovery, a marriage that seemed destined for divorce is saved, a woman whose cancer was considered terminal goes into remission, a man who was unemployed for years finds work.

After reviewing the reports of answered prayers from the last decade, Caulfield says there are four categories that predominate: recovery from addictions, family reconciliations, employment and a return to the Church.

“These are four things that were so important to him while he was a priest on Earth,” Caulfield says. “We can believe that from his place in eternity, Father McGivney is answering the prayers of the faithful.”

Many cases involve what he calls “moral miracles” in which a person’s moral, psychological or spiritual lifestyle is significantly changed. The accounts are recorded on the website of the Father McGivney Guild, which has 170,000 members and oversees the cause for canonization.

“Father McGivney is at a stage of the canonization process in which a miracle attributed to his intercession is needed for him to be beatified, and another one to be canonized a saint,” Caulfield said. “The Vatican has very high standards for declaring some events miraculous and others not. What the Vatican is looking for in most cases is a physical healing that cannot be explained by medical science.” He stresses that only God can perform a miracle, which is described as a suspension of the created natural order.

As part of the process, a proposed miracle is brought to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which “considers almost exclusively extraordinary physical healings and recoveries since those incidents usually have verifiable facts such as medical tests and records as well as objective and widely accepted measurements for diagnosing a serious condition and declaring a person healed,” Caulfield said.

In addition, there must be evidence that people prayed exclusively to Father McGivney, although additional prayers to the Blessed Mother are allowed. When a case is reported to the Guild, Caulfield conducts an initial investigation and interviews the people involved.

“If there is a general sense that there is no apparent medical explanation for the healing and that Father McGivney was exclusively invoked, then the evidence will go to the cause’s postulator in Rome,” he said. If the case is strong, a diocesan tribunal is formed where the miracle occurred to gather testimony and documentation before deciding whether to refer the case to the Vatican, whose experts review the material and then determine whether to send it to a board of cardinals and the Pope for final approval. Two possible miracles that had been investigated by the Vatican were not approved.

The process is long and meticulous, Caulfield says, because “the Church does not want to declare any event miraculous that may later be called into question.” He encourages Catholics to join the Guild and pray for Father McGivney’s canonization and to report any extraordinary healings or favors.

When Caulfield receives a report of a favor, he calls to follow up. A recent case involved a New Jersey grandmother of four children who was declared cancer free after a member of the Knights of Columbus told her about Father McGivney, and she and others started praying to him for a cure.

“She had an overwhelming sense of gratitude to God,” Caulfield said. However, she had received medical treatment, and for a miracle to be accepted by the Vatican, it must be medically inexplicable, such as a spontaneous cure of a birth defect, injury or disease.

“I’m encouraged by people who have found favors from Father McGivney in their lives,” Caulfield says. “I visit his tomb at least once a week and often see people praying there. In my own life, I have come to see him as a real friend, one who walks with me.”

(For more information about Father McGivney or to become a member of the Guild, which is free, go to )

Heroic Virtue

“Father McGivney was a priest ahead of his time, totally devoted to the good of his people,” Caulfield says.

In declaring him “Venerable,” on March 15, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI said that his life displayed evidence of “heroic virtue.”

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints in its decree wrote: “Concerning the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Love both toward God and neighbor, as well as the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude, and those others joined to them, they existed to a heroic degree in the Servant of God Michael McGivney, Diocesan priest and founder of the Fraternal Order the Knights of Columbus.”

Born August 12, 1852 in Waterbury, he was ordained in 1877 and assigned to the Church of St. Mary in New Haven, where he was committed to helping families and the poor. He was especially concerned about the plight of children and widows at a time when the death of the provider often meant dissolution and disaster for a family.

His vision of a Catholic men’s fraternal benefit society eventually led to the formation of the Knights of Columbus in the St. Mary’s church basement in 1882 to ensure the survival of families afflicted with financial hardship and to provide a faith-filled fraternal organization for Catholic men.

In 1884, Father McGivney was appointed pastor of St. Thomas Church in Thomaston, a working class parish that was overwhelmed by debt. He also oversaw Immaculate Conception Church in Terryville. For six years he ministered to his parishes with the same charitable care that had endeared him to St. Mary’s congregation and served as supreme chaplain of the Knights, which had extended into Rhode Island. In January 1890, he contracted pneumonia and despite treatment, he died on August 14, 1890 at 38.

From his place in eternity …

Twelve years after his life was miraculously saved through the intercession of Father Michael McGivney, Dennis Sullivan died this year on July 1. At his funeral Mass, his brother Father James Sullivan said, “Dennis’ life was completed in a beautiful way with those additional 12 years.”

During those 12 years, he watched his daughter grow up, get accepted to college, pursue a career, and give Dennis a grandson. He went skydiving, he played pool, he received many regional and national awards for horseshoeing in his work as a master horse farrier. The week before he died, he had dinner with his daughter and told her how proud he was and how much he loved her. He lived those 12 years to the fullest, in hope and in gratitude for the gift God had given him, Father Sullivan said.

His mother, Phyllis Sullivan, died October 3, 2016. For many years, she regularly traveled across town to care for the McGivney family grave in Waterbury.

Three years before she died, her daughter Moira Sullivan Shapland took her to St. Thomas Church in Thomaston on August 14, the anniversary of Father McGivney’s death.

Moira, her daughters Erin, Hannah and Margaret, and Mrs. Sullivan walked into the empty church lit only by the light from the stained glass windows. They entered a pew near the altar, knelt and prayed.

“Out of the corner of my eye, I could see my mother turn her head toward the aisle,” Moira recalls. “She kept looking and then nodded and turned to me and said, ‘He seems so nice.’” The rest of them saw no one, but Mrs. Sullivan was smiling and staring at the altar.

A few moments later, she turned to Moira and repeated, “He seems so nice.” And then she told them about the young dark-haired priest who walked to the altar and genuflected, and as he was leaving, stopped at their pew and smiled at the women.

When they got to the car, Moira reached for her copy of “Parish Priest,” the biography of Father McGivney, and showed her his picture and asked, “Is this who you saw?”

Mrs. Sullivan tapped the picture with her finger and said, “Yes, that’s him!”

By Joe Pisani


Archbishop Leonard P. Blair will celebrate Mass on top of Holy Land USA on August 11 in an event being planned in collaboration with the Knights of Columbus and the organization that owns the park.

Several thousand people are expected to attend from across the state. They believe it will increase devotion to Father McGivney, whose cause for sainthood is being considered by the Vatican, in addition to calling attention to Holy Land, a religious theme park which during the 1960s and 1970s attracted more than 40,000 visitors annually and was known for its 56-foot illuminated cross that could be seen from the highway.

The park, which is on an 18-acre site, once included biblical scenes from the life of Jesus and recreations of Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Holy Land was developed by John Baptist Greco, a Waterbury attorney, who began a volunteer organization called Companions of Christ, whose purpose was to create and oversee the religious park, which opened in 1955.

The gates will open at 2 p.m. on August 11. The rosary will begin at 4 p.m., followed by praise and worship by the Christian group Hands and Feet. Mass will start at 5:30. There is no public parking at Holy Land at 90 Slocum Street. Free parking and shuttle service is available from St. Mary’s Hospital parking garage on South Elm Street beginning at 2 p.m. Bus groups should email for instructions. People are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and umbrellas and ponchos in case of rain. There will be food concessions at the park. For further information, visit

St Joseph H.S. Hires New Head Coach for Boys Varsity Basketball

TRUMBULL—St Joseph High School, striving to be southern Connecticut’s premier college preparatory school, is proud to announce that Kevin Wielk ’95 has been hired to serve as the new varsity head coach for boys basketball.

Kevin is a graduate of St Joseph High School (Class of 1995) and former St Joe’s High School basketball player who went on to play an additional four years at Nichols College in Dudley, MA (serving as Captain during his senior year). He graduated with a BS in Sports Management.

“We are very excited to have Kevin Wielk join our coaching staff,” remarked Kevin Butler, Assistant Principal for Athletics at St Joseph High School. “Kevin brings a wealth of experience from all levels of basketball, having coached youth AAU, high school, and for the past ten years at the collegiate level. He has been successful at all levels and will bring a competitive level to practices and games each day. Kevin is coming home as an SJ alumni and we look forward to him leading our boys basketball program.”

Kevin began his coaching career at Westbrook High School where he worked as the Head JV and Assistant Varsity basketball coach for three seasons. He then moved to Notre Dame of Fairfield High School where he held the same positions for three seasons. With six seasons of coaching, Kevin was given the opportunity to become the Head Assistant Coach at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, CT. In 2010, the Albertus Falcons moved from the bottom of the division to conference champions. They went to the Division III NCAA tournament for the first time in the school’s history. Kevin has been at Albertus Magnus for 10 seasons. Accomplishments include: six Great Northeast Conference championships and six NCAA tournament appearances including second round appearances in 2010, 2012, and 2015. In 2014 the Falcons made it to the Sweet Sixteen and ranked 5th in their division during that season and received number 1 votes. The overall record for the Falcons for the past 10 seasons is 170-27 and the conference playoff record is 22-2. Kevin has also been heavily involved in the AAU circuit for the last 9 years, coaching teams from the greater Fairfield county area with Premier Hoops Development as well as coaching various teams for the Fairfield County Basketball League travel program.

About St Joseph High School
St Joseph High School (SJHS) strives to be the premier college preparatory school in Southern Connecticut. The school provides a learning environment that embraces the Gospel values of the Roman Catholic faith and promotes a commitment to family and community. SJHS prepares young women and men to realize their potential, helps them to excel in higher education, and provides a foundation to guide them throughout their lives. St Joseph High School is a member of NCEA, NAIS, NEAS&C.

From ‘Rock Dreams’ to priestly calling

|   By Joe Pisani
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Trevor Kelly thought his destiny was to be a rock star.

His mother, his father, his grandparents, his aunts, his uncles and his cousins, said he was meant to be a priest.

They were right. He was wrong.

Trevor, who teaches theology at St. Joseph High School and played in the band Eyes to See at Sacred Heart University, is entering the Jesuit novitiate in Syracuse this August and leaving behind his aspirations of rock ‘n’ roll fame.

His former bandmate Bill Haug, who is director of marketing at SHU’s west campus, said, “Playing music with Trevor over the years has been a pleasure. There’s no one else in the world that I have that kind musical chemistry with. I’ll never forget the first time we played together. It was instant. We earned our chops together in our college band, playing gigs anywhere and everywhere. Most importantly, we grew as musicians, brothers and as people.”

Most of Trevor’s life seemed to point toward a career in music and the priesthood, from the time he became an altar server in the second grade through his years at Xavier High School in Middletown and Sacred Heart University, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in religious studies and philosophy.

“As a kid, I thought the priesthood was really attractive and admirable and heroic,” he said, “but …” It seemed there was always a ‘but’ even though God kept putting people in his path to inspire him, especially Father Thomas Cieslikowski, the parochial vicar at Our Lady of Fatima in Yalesville, which was Trevor’s parish as a youth.

“Father Tom was so important to me as a role model in his preaching and proclaiming the Word,” he said. “His example as a priest stuck with me. The Gospel stories came alive when he told them.”

As fate—or Providence—would have it, Trevor saw him again for the first time in 20 years when he was recently concelebrating Mass at the Church of the Assumption in Ansonia, where Trevor was singing.

As Father Tom tells the story, “I admired the young man who was singing, and I said to him, ‘I don’t know how much they’re paying you, but if you come to my church, I’ll pay you more.”

Trevor realized immediately this was the priest who had such a tremendous influence on him as a boy—the man who during his children’s liturgy had a teddy bear dressed up as a priest that told Gospel stories and the man whose example inspired Trevor to enter the Society of Jesus.

“I was very honored when he told me his story,” Father Tom said. “We both teared up and hugged, and he took a selfie with me.”

Despite his early interest in the priesthood, Trevor spent 20 years focused on another path.

“I felt very strongly that I was meant to be a dad and a musician, so I couldn’t be a priest, and I began to shut the door on the priesthood,” he recalled.

Since he was 16, he has worked in the Catholic Church in various ministries, including cantor, youth minister and catechist. He has also performed in many bands, singing groups and choirs. His first band as a teenager was Virgo Down, an alternative rock group in which he sang and played keyboard. His current praise and worship ensemble, Joseph and the Saints, performs at Assumption in Ansonia.

Throughout his life, Trevor has had a love of music, which he got from his parents, Peter and Lisa, who encouraged their children to sing together as a family. However, when Trevor told them his dream was to be a rock star, they suggested he consider other options.

“They did everything to talk me out of a career in rock music,” he recalled. “They said I wouldn’t make money and that I needed to find work that would pay better, so I continued to play but made a course correction when I went off to college.”

His love of the Catholic Church, the liturgy and the sacraments, along with the example of his teachers at Xavier pointed him toward religious studies. Sacred Heart University had everything he was looking for.

“The moment I stepped on campus, I knew I was somewhere special,” he said. “I was enchanted by the campus, and I enrolled there with the intention of being a religion teacher at a Catholic high school.”

He found friends, educators and mentors in the Theology and Religious Studies, and Philosophy departments, and he studied in Ireland for two weeks with associate professor June-Ann Greeley.

Trevor graduated with a double major in religious studies and philosophy and a minor in music. At Sacred Heart, he also sang in the liturgical and concert choir, Four Heart Harmony and a chamber ensemble.

Before pursuing his master’s, he took a year off and taught music and band at St. Augustine’s School in Hartford and continued to be involved in campus ministry.

“Once I was asked point blank by a student if I had ever considered entering the priesthood, and I said, ‘Sure, many times,’” he said. “When things were going badly or I had family issues or dark times, I would tell God, ‘If you can get me and my family or friend through this, I’ll do whatever you want. I was thinking I would give the priesthood a sincere shot, but I always pulled back my offer and thought, ‘Next time, God, next time.’”

In 2016, he began teaching at St. Joseph High School in Trumbull and although things were going well, the question of whether he should enter the priesthood persisted.

He reached out to several priests he knew, including Father Jeffrey Gubbiotti, who was pastor at Assumption.

“One of the priests told me I had over-romanticized the priesthood and that every one of the priests I knew was still an imperfect person, a sinner, and there was no version of me that was ever going to be good enough on my own accord,” Trevor recalled. “Jesus would work with me if I opened myself up to him, and He would more than make up for my many flaws.”

Trevor visited St. John Seminary in Boston to get a taste of the religious life and had a good experience but didn’t think parish life was for him. After discussing the possibility of joining a religious community, the Jesuits became a strong possibility. Their spirituality was similar to the Xaverian Brothers at his high school.

Trevor began doing things in his daily life that Jesuits have been doing for 500 years — praying the Divine Office with his students at St. Joseph’s, meditating on Scripture, conducting a daily examination of conscience and delving into Ignatian spirituality.

His interest in the Society of Jesus increased, and he had meetings with the Rev. Bret Stockdale, S.J., chaplain at Fairfield Prep, and the Rev. Mark Scalese, S.J., director of campus ministry at Fairfield University.

“I felt instantly at home with them,” Trevor said. “I felt a bond and kinship there. I left feeling completely and totally empowered, and I reached out to the vocation director at the Provincial Office in Maryland and had a two-hour interview over the phone.”

All the pieces seemed to fall into place, he said. He began spiritual direction at the Ignatian Spirituality Center at Fairfield University and reading about the Jesuit tradition. Last September, he sent the vocation director a letter and said he wanted to apply to the order.

The director called back and Trevor started to learn about the ways he could serve God in the Society of Jesus, including prison ministry, teaching, mission work and hospital ministry.

In August, he will enter the Jesuit Novitiate of St. Andrew Hall in Syracuse. After 20 years, Trevor believes he is finally where he was meant to be … and that Jesus was patient with him as He led him along.

His former bandmate, Bill Haug said, “I couldn’t be happier for him. Trevor has always been on a journey of growth, a search to become the best version of himself. We can all use someone like Trevor to inspire us and share his faith with us.”

Pope Francis: death penalty is ‘inadmissible’

|   By Cindy Wooden | Catholic News Service
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VATICAN CITY—Building on the development of Catholic Church teaching against capital punishment, Pope Francis has ordered a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to assert “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” and to commit the church to working toward its abolition worldwide.

The catechism’s paragraph on capital punishment, 2267, already had been updated by St. John Paul II in 1997 to strengthen its skepticism about the need to use the death penalty in the modern world and, particularly, to affirm the importance of protecting all human life.

Announcing the change Aug. 2, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said, “The new text, following in the footsteps of the teaching of John Paul II in ‘Evangelium Vitae,’ affirms that ending the life of a criminal as punishment for a crime is inadmissible because it attacks the dignity of the person, a dignity that is not lost even after having committed the most serious crimes.”

“Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”) was St. John Paul’s 1995 encyclical on the dignity and sacredness of all human life. The encyclical led to an updating of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which he originally promulgated in 1992 and which recognized “the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty.”

At the same time, the original version of the catechism still urged the use of “bloodless means” when possible to punish criminals and protect citizens.

The catechism now will read: “Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.

“Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption,” the new section continues.

Pope Francis’ change to the text concludes: “Consequently, the church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that ‘the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,’ and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.”

In his statement, Cardinal Ladaria noted how St. John Paul, retired Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis had all spoken out against capital punishment and appealed for clemency for death-row inmates on numerous occasions.

The development of church doctrine away from seeing the death penalty as a possibly legitimate punishment for the most serious crimes, the cardinal said, “centers principally on the clearer awareness of the church for the respect due to every human life. Along this line, John Paul II affirmed: ‘Not even a murderer loses his personal dignity, and God himself pledges to guarantee this.'”

Pope Francis specifically requested the change to the catechism in October during a speech at the Vatican commemorating the 25th anniversary of the text’s promulgation.

The death penalty, no matter how it is carried out, he had said, “is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel, because a decision is voluntarily made to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of whom, in the last analysis, only God can be the true judge and guarantor.”

Cardinal Ladaria also noted that the popes were not the only Catholics to become increasingly aware of how the modern use of the death penalty conflicted with church teaching on the dignity of human life; the same position, he said, has been “expressed ever more widely in the teaching of pastors and in the sensibility of the people of God.”

In particular, he said, Catholic opposition to the death penalty is based on an “understanding that the dignity of a person is not lost even after committing the most serious crimes,” a deeper understanding that criminal penalties should aim at the rehabilitation of the criminal and a recognition that governments have the ability to detain criminals effectively, thereby protecting their citizens.

The cardinal’s note also cited a letter Pope Francis wrote in 2015 to the International Commission Against the Death Penalty. In the letter, the pope called capital punishment “cruel, inhumane and degrading” and said it “does not bring justice to the victims, but only foments revenge.”

Furthermore, in a modern “state of law, the death penalty represents a failure” because it obliges the state to kill in the name of justice, the pope had written. On the other hand, he said, it is a method frequently used by “totalitarian regimes and fanatical groups” to do away with “political dissidents, minorities” and any other person deemed a threat to their power and to their goals.

In addition, Pope Francis noted that “human justice is imperfect” and said the death penalty loses all legitimacy in penal systems where judicial error is possible.

“The new formulation of number 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church,” Cardinal Ladaria said, “desires to give energy to a movement toward a decisive commitment to favor a mentality that recognizes the dignity of every human life and, in respectful dialogue with civil authorities, to encourage the creation of conditions that allow for the elimination of the death penalty where it is still in effect.”

Click here for the original Catholic News Service article.

USCCB on Moral Failures of Church Leaders

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement noting the steps the U.S. Bishops Conference will take in addressing the failures of the Church in protecting the people of God.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“The accusations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick reveal a grievous moral failure within the Church. They cause bishops anger, sadness, and shame; I know they do in me. They compel bishops to ask, as I do, what more could have been done to protect the People of God. Both the abuses themselves, and the fact that they have remained undisclosed for decades, have caused great harm to people’s lives and represent grave moral failures of judgement on the part of Church leaders.

These failures raise serious questions. Why weren’t these allegations of sins against chastity and human dignity disclosed when they were first brought to Church officials? Why wasn’t this egregious situation addressed decades sooner and with justice? What must our seminaries do to protect the freedom to discern a priestly vocation without being subject to misuse of power?

Archbishop McCarrick will rightly face the judgement of a canonical process at the Holy See regarding the allegations against him, but there are also steps we should be taking as the Church here in the United States. Having prayed about this, I have convened the USCCB Executive Committee. This meeting was the first of many among bishops that will extend into our Administrative Committee meeting in September and our General Assembly in November. All of these discussions will be oriented toward discerning the right course of action for the USCCB. This work will take some time but allow me to stress these four points immediately.

First, I encourage my brother bishops as they stand ready in our local dioceses to respond with compassion and justice to anyone who has been sexually abused or harassed by anyone in the Church. We should do whatever we can to accompany them.

Second, I would urge anyone who has experienced sexual assault or harassment by anyone in the Church to come forward. Where the incident may rise to the level of a crime, please also contact local law enforcement.

Third, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will pursue the many questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick’s conduct to the full extent of its authority; and where that authority finds its limits, the Conference will advocate with those who do have the authority. One way or the other, we are determined to find the truth in this matter.

Finally, we bishops recognize that a spiritual conversion is needed as we seek to restore the right relationship among us and with the Lord. Our Church is suffering from a crisis of sexual morality. The way forward must involve learning from past sins.

Let us pray for God’s wisdom and strength for renewal as we follow St. Paul’s instruction: ‘Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect’ (Romans 12:2).”

Newlywed Mass & Social

All couples married within the past 10 years are invited to our:


When: Friday, August 10, 2018 @ 6 PM

Where: Saint Rose of Lima Church (46 Church Hill Road, Newtown, CT 06470)

Please join us at 6 PM for the celebration of the Mass followed by a social with wine, cheese, and delicious appetizers. After the social, we will hear an inspiring and entertaining presentation on married life from national Catholic speaker Chris Padgett. Click here for registration.

Free childcare will be available for children over 12 months. Infants are welcome to attend with their parents.

Two New Principals Named

BRIDGEPORT—Dr. Steven Cheeseman, Superintendent of Catholic School in the Diocese of Bridgeport has announced the new principals for St. Aloysius School in New Canaan, and St. Rose of Lima School in Newtown.

Dr. Alfone Named Principal of St. Aloysius School

NEW CANAAN—Dr. John R. Alfone has been named Principal of St. Aloysius School in New Canaan, effective July 23, 2018. His appointment was announced by Dr. Steven Cheeseman, Superintendent of Schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

“Dr. Alfone’s commitment to children and the Catholic faith is evident by his dedication to Catholic education. With over twenty-five years of service in the Archdiocese of Hartford and the Diocese of Bridgeport, he held roles in teaching, administration, instruction and curriculum development, and district leadership,” said Dr. Cheeseman, Superintendent of Schools.

Dr. Alfone holds a Bachelors degree from the Brooklyn College of Pharmacy, a Masters in Upper Elementary Education from Southern Connecticut State University, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Hartford.

“Dr. Alfone has worked in his previous schools to strengthen instruction in literacy, math and science,” said Dr. Cheeseman. “I am confident he will continue to strengthen the academic program to ensure St. Aloysius students will become innovative and creative problem solvers.”

In addition, his dedication to the faith will benefit the school.
Fr. Robert Kinnally, pastor of St. Aloysius Church in New Canaan said Dr. Alfone brings a wealth of experience and passion for Catholic Education to St. Aloysius School.

“He understands Catholic schools to be a mission of the Church, and from that framework he will bring Saint Aloysius School to the next great place the Holy Spirit wants our wonderful school to be! I am so happy that Dr. John Alfone is our principal,” he said.

Among his many posts in Catholic and public schools settings, Dr. Alfone formerly served as Assistant Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Dr. Alfone, who currently resides in Branford, will be relocating to the area. In addition to his impressive educational background and professional accomplishments, he enjoys travel and ballroom dancing, finding his greatest joy in his two daughters, and three grandchildren.

St. Aloysius serves students from Kindergarten through eighth grade. Visit or call Admissions at 203.966.0786 for more information about this 2010 Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.

St. Rose of Lima School Welcomes Mr. Gjoka

NEWTOWN—Mr. Bardhyl Gjoka has been appointed the new Principal of St. Rose of Lima School in Newtown.

He comes to St. Rose School from St. Aloysius School in New Canaan where he was the Principal for the past four years.

“Bardhyl Gjoka is a strong and experienced administrator with an impressive STEM background. During his time at St. Aloysius, enrollment increased, teacher turnover diminished and more than half the students performed above 90% on a nationally-recognized, norm-referenced test,” said Dr. Cheeseman.

In the past Mr. Gjoka has been the Assistant Principal of All Saints Catholic School in Norwalk and has also taught Math and Engineering at Kolbe Cathedral High School in Bridgeport, and the High School Engineering Academy in Fairfield.

A Connecticut-certified teacher and school administrator, Mr. Gjoka earned a bachelor’s degree in math and physics from the University of Shkoder in Albania, a master’s degree in education from Fairfield University and a sixth-year diploma in educational leadership from Sacred Heart University.

Monsignor Weiss, Pastor of St. Rose Church, there was an extensive search for the new principal who would understand the mission of Catholic education while also proving to be a creative and innovative educator.

“We were looking for a person of integrity and faith who is a proven leader, an exceptional educator and an innovative thinker. Mr. Gjoka clearly fits all of these criteria and we are delighted to welcome him aboard.”

We are proud of our rich school history and of our many alumni who are doing great things in this world. We also recognize the need for keeping our curriculum fresh and competitive so that we blend tradition and innovation to create the best possible learning environment for our children.

Located at 40 Church Hill Road in Newtown, CT, St. Rose of Lima School is a Pre-K-8th Grade School school designated as a Blue Ribbon school of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education. Nationally recognized as a recipient of the Gold Level Award in the Math Counts competitive program, the school is accredited by the New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC) and has a fully integrated technology platform utilized by all grades across the curriculum. In addition to its enriching core academic offerings, students can partake in an advanced math class as well as in Spanish and Mandarin language courses, a competitive sports program, an active cultural arts outreach, and theater opportunities.

Personal tours can be arranged during most summer mornings and throughout the school year. For more information call 203.426.5102, ext. 13 or visit

First Annual Charities Cup a huge success

|   By Ellen McGinness
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FAIRFIELD—In describing the international sport of rugby, Pope Francis has said, “It makes us think of life, because our whole life we are heading for a goal. We need to run together, pass the ball from hand to hand, until we get to it. Playing rugby is hard; it is no walk in the park. I think that makes it useful to toughen the spirit, the will.”

Taking inspiration from the Holy Father’s words, rugby teams from around Fairfield County came together on June 23 at Fairfield University’s Rafferty Stadium for the first annual “Charity Cup,” a fundraiser in support of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County (CCFC). Organized by Fairfield Yankee rugby player and St. Joseph High School theology teacher Michael Pappa, in tandem with CCFC board member Pete Maloney, the day brought in over $3,500 for the agency.

“The first ever Charity Cup was a win all around. Local players volunteered their time playing in a healthy competition to support a great cause,” Pappa summarized.

Over one hundred rugby players, from middle schoolers to seasoned veterans, competed in multiple matches throughout the day. For the youth teams, Fairfield Rugby Club defeated Aspetuck Rugby in three consecutive matches. On the adult side, the Fairfield Yankees, Danbury Madhatters, Greenwich Rugby, Fairfield Lady Yankees, and Danbury Women’s Rugby battled it out in a round-robin format.

With support from agile college players and hometown-hero-turned-professional player Myles McQuone, the Fairfield Yankees men’s team overwhelmed their competition with relentless fast-paced play. In the women’s division, the experience, skill and depth of the Danbury Women’s Rugby team led them to victory, despite a valiant effort by their opponents, the Lady Yankees.

Dr. Mark Nemec, president of Fairfield University and a hard-nosed rugby player, participated in the touch rugby matches and presented trophies to the winning teams. Rugby United New York, the metropolitan area’s first professional rugby team, was a sponsor of the event and had representatives on site in support of the day. Additional sponsors and supporters included Grace O’Malley’s, Yankee Social, Jr’s Deli and Grille and American Medical Response.

The Fairfield Yankees team donated their tournament winnings to CCFC’s Thomas Merton Center, while Danbury Women’s Rugby donated their purse to CCFC’s Morning Glory Breakfast Program.

(To support Catholic Charities, contact Bob Donahue at 203.416.1313 or

Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life

NEW HAVEN—The Knights of Columbus is urging its members and Catholics to join the U.S. bishops in a nationwide Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life on each Friday from August 3 to September 28.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has invited people of good will to pray and fast that the change in the U.S. Supreme Court prompted by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy will move the nation closer to the day when every human being is protected in law and welcomed in life.

“Prayer draws us close to God, makes us seek the good of others and is the greatest means of achieving justice,” said Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson. “We join our pastors in praying that the confirmation process will help lead to a court that upholds the right to life of every person, as it is the prerequisite for all other rights guaranteed by our Constitution.”

Participants in the novena will receive weekly prayer reminders by text message or email along with educational material on the nature and ramification of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. Participants are asked to fast on the Fridays and to pray an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for the intention.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said the novena is an effort to “intercede for the healing of our nation and our people from decades of abortion on demand.”

Participants can join this prayer effort at
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About the Knights of Columbus
Founded in 1882, the Knights of Columbus is a 1.9 million member fraternal organization and Fortune 1000 insurance company. The organization is well known for its charitable activities carried about by its 15,000 councils that support local neighbors and the Catholic Church. However, the K of C’s reach extends beyond parishes and communities to the rest of the world. Whether it’s donating food and clothes, providing support for disaster relief, helping persecuted Christians in the Middle East, volunteering to help children with special needs with the Special Olympics or supporting mothers of unborn children, Knights demonstrate the power and impact of men turning their faith into action every day. 2017 was a record-setting year for Knights of Columbus charitable work with an unprecedented $185.6 million in donations and 75.6 million hours of volunteer service provided worldwide. For more information, visit

Bishop reflects on the feast of Saint Ignatius

BRIDGEPORT—He was a soldier who became a saint, creating a religious order that helped reform the Church and spread the Gospel to every corner of the world. As we celebrate today the feast of Saint Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), we are invited to reflect upon the life of a man who understood the meaning of giving allegiance to authority as a soldier and came slowly to recognize the true authority to whom he owed both his allegiance and his very life.

Saint Ignatius came to recognize the kingship of Christ over his life during a time of recuperation from a serious wound incurred in battle. It was during those months of reading and quiet that he realized that the obedience, single-minded drive and desire to give his entire life to something greater than himself did not find its goal in anything or anyone in this world. His desire for victory and glory did not give him true joy until he discovered that allegiance to Christ promised him eternal glory and unending joy. It was for this reason that the motto by which Saint Ignatius both lived his life and founded the Jesuits upon was “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam”, which means “For the Greater Glory of God.” To live one’s life for the greater glory of God is to offer our allegiance to Christ and to become a citizen of His Kingdom.

Saint Paul summarizes this same allegiance in 1 Cor.10:31: “ Whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” It was an allegiance that St. Paul and St. Ignatius came to understand very well. It is an allegiance that alone can lead us to what we really seek, that is, everlasting life.

The Kingdom of God is the basis for our hope

A central theme that runs throughout the Gospels is the Lord’s proclamation of the Kingdom of God. More specifically, through His preaching, parables, and miracles, the Lord Jesus offers to His followers a beautiful and grace-filled vision of the inbreaking of God’s Kingdom into creation. It is a Kingdom whose inauguration comes through Jesus’ life, death and Resurrection. It is a Kingdom that is the basis of our hope and joy in Christ.


Young Adults Plan Catholic Adventures

STAMFORD—“Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.” These words of St. John Paul II have been the foundation for the creation of a new young adult group in the diocese. Catholic Adventures Stamford is a group for young adults in their 20s and 30s who have an interest in “building community and fellowship” with other Catholic young adults “while having fun and trying new things,” says co-founder Diane Kremheller of Greenwich. Diane was not alone in her creation of this group. At a Faith on Tap night in Stamford, she met Amanda Stole (Stamford), Caitlin Stole (also of Stamford), and Staci Genovese (Norwalk). Through conversation, “we realized that we shared a love of Christ and the Catholic faith” and “lamented how difficult it has been for all of us to meet other like-minded Catholic young adults, so we decided that we should start our own group,” says Kremheller. They try to plan one event each weekend, and they have already had many adventures on their calendar, such as rock climbing at Rock Climb (Fairfield), attending a Frassati Night at St. Mary’s Church (New Haven), the Humane Vitae Conference at the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist (Stamford), and karaoke at Fiddler’s Green (Stamford). These are only a few of the adventures in which the group has partaken, and more are on the horizon.

Ranging from day trips and outings to Catholic events throughout the diocese, Catholic Adventures Stamford seeks to offer “regular opportunities for building friendships,” says Kremheller. In addition to these activities, they will be starting a young adult bible study at St. John the Evangelist in Stamford, which will employ “The Bible Timeline” Study Series by Ascension Press and meet once a week in the evening. Catholic Adventures Stamford is open to all young adults in the diocese.

If you or someone you know is interested in participating in events, bible study, or both, contact them at and like them on Facebook.

Journal entries describe struggles and gratitude

BRIDGEPORT—Catholic Charities of Fairfield County caseworker Maria Palacios has joined a humanitarian team working on the Texas border to respond to the needs of families being served by the Humanitarian Respite Center. During her 9-day journey Palacios is working alongside other caseworkers at the request of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.

“The arrivals and needs of these families are not new and the dedicated staff and volunteers of Catholic Charities in the Rio Grande Valley have built an efficient and effective respite center. However, the current volume of needs and support exceeds their current capacity,” said Al Barber, CEO of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County.”

Please see her July 25th journal entry below:

A Journal Entry From Maria Palacios in McAllen, Texas:

July 25, 2018—To say that the situation at the border is overwhelming is an understatement. Everything is extremely fast moving because the center is receiving 100 to 200 families each day. Families that have recently been released from ICE custody are left at a bus station where Sister Norma Pimentel and her team pick them up and bring them to the center. There they are housed, assisted with their immigration paperwork, fed, clothed, and helped with arrangements to reconnect with their families members who may be located all over the country. I am the only volunteer who is fluent in Spanish in my group, as well as the only one with a legal immigration case management background. Though there are about 10 different jobs that need to be done by a limited amount of people, my main focus will be helping the families organize their documentation for their upcoming court dates where they will present their refugee cases. As a result of the court order to reunite children with their parents, most of the children here are between the ages of 2 and 10. It is easy to understand why they remain glued to their parents. I attempted to speak to a few of the children gathered in the cafeteria and although I speak fluent Spanish and have the same skin complexion as them, they were very hesitant to respond to me. Another group of volunteers informed us it takes a few days for them to get comfortable with people who are there to help them since they had just been released. A great deal of time is spent driving to the airport and bus station as the families receives confirmation of getting their fares paid for by family members. All meals are donated by the local community. Our group is comprised of three members from Catholic Charities Tennessee, one from Michigan and me. We are not helping at the warehouse sorting donations since the center is understaffed and all attention is needed there. The center is at full capacity.

They are in great need of monetary donations because it’s easier to manage. They are receiving clothes donations but the guests are mostly very skinny and they are swimming in the clothes that are donated. All they want is a t-shirt and a pair of jeans to change out of the ICE detention uniforms as soon as possible.

Donations can be made on the established Go Fund Me Pages listed below.

Please click here to see other journal entries.

Update: Pope Accepts Cardinal McCarrick’s Resignation

VATICAN CITY (CNS)—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation from the College of Cardinals of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, and has ordered him to maintain “a life of prayer and penance” until a canonical trial examines accusations that he sexually abused minors.

The announcement came first from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and a few minutes later from the Vatican press office.

The press office said July 28 that the previous evening Pope Francis had received Cardinal McCarrick’s letter of “resignation as a member of the College of Cardinals.”

“Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the cardinalate and has ordered his suspension from the exercise of any public ministry, together with the obligation to remain in a house yet to be indicated to him, for a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial,” the Vatican statement said.

In late June, Cardinal McCarrick, the 88-year-old retired archbishop of Washington, said he would no longer exercise any public ministry “in obedience” to the Vatican after an allegation he abused a teenager 47 years ago in the Archdiocese of New York was found credible. The cardinal has said he is innocent.

In the weeks that followed the announcement, another man came forward claiming he was abused as a child by Cardinal McCarrick and several former seminarians have spoken out about being sexually harassed by the cardinal at a beach house he had.

Although unusual, withdrawal from the College of Cardinals in such circumstances is not unheard of. Just 10 days before then-Pope Benedict XVI retired in 2013, Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien announced he would not participate in the conclave to elect Pope Benedict’s successor because he did not want media attention focused on him instead of the election of a new pope.

Pope Benedict had accepted the cardinal’s resignation as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh after reports that three priests and a former priest had accused the cardinal of “inappropriate conduct” with them going back to the 1980s.

One week after the conclave that elected Pope Francis, the Vatican announced the new pope accepted Cardinal O’Brien’s decision to renounce all “duties and privileges” associated with being a cardinal. He died March 19.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, thanked the pope for accepting Cardinal McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals.

In a July 28 statement he said: “I thank the Holy Father for his leadership in taking this important step. It reflects the priority the Holy Father places on the need for protection and care for all our people and the way failures in this area affect the life of the church in the United States.”

In New Jersey, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, an archdiocese then-Archbishop McCarrick headed 1986-2000, stated July 28: “The somber announcement from the Vatican this morning will impact the Catholic community of the Archdiocese of Newark with particular force.”

“This latest news is a necessary step for the church to hold itself accountable for sexual abuse and harassment perpetrated by its ministers, no matter their rank,” Cardinal Tobin said. “I ask my brothers and sisters to pray for all who may have been harmed by the former cardinal, and to pray for him as well.”

Before being named to Newark, then-Bishop McCarrick was founding bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, serving there 1981 to 1986. Other reaction from U.S. bishops included a strongly worded letter from Bishop Michael F. Olson of Fort Worth Texas, to the people of the diocese.

“Ministry in the church is a grace from God that carries with it sober responsibility. Ministry is not a right to be claimed by anyone as an entitlement; rather, it involves a convenantal trust established through our baptism as members of the church established by Christ,” he said.

“We see in the scandalous crimes and sins alleged to have been committed by now former Cardinal McCarrick, the violation of trust and the grave damage caused to the lives and health of his purported victims,” he continued. “The scandal and pain are compounded by the horrific fact that reportedly one of his victims was his first baptism after his priestly ordination.”

Bishop Olson said the former cardinal’s alleged crimes “have caused further damage to the integrity of the hierarchy and the mission of the church,” and as a result “his prompt reduction canonically to the laity should be strongly deliberated.”

The Texas bishop also said church leaders who knew of the former cardinal’s “alleged crimes and sexual misconduct and did nothing (must) be held accountable for their refusal to act thereby enabling others to be hurt.”

Bishop Olson added that the Fort Worth diocese “and I have zero tolerance for sexual abuse against minors, as well as against vulnerable adults by its clergy, staff and volunteers, including me as bishop.” He assured Catholics that any such allegation is taken seriously and swiftly acted on according to the diocese’s protocols.

Holy Land USA Being Refurbished to Honor Fr. McGivney

WATERBURY—The organizers of the Holy Land Mountaintop Mass, honoring Venerable Fr. Michael J. McGivney, hope their event will cause a revitalization of faith and increased devotion to the founder of the Knights of Columbus, who grew up in Waterbury.

“We think this will be a significant religious event for the city and the state, in the spirit of the new evangelization,” said Father James Sullivan, pastor of Church of the Assumption in Ansonia and organizer of the Mass. “It will be a celebration of Holy Land and Father McGivney’s life and legacy.”

Archbishop Leonard P. Blair will celebrate Mass on top of Holy Land USA on August 11 in an event being planned in collaboration with the Knights of Columbus and the organization that owns the park.

Several thousand people are expected to attend from across the state. They believe it will increase devotion to Father McGivney, whose cause for sainthood is being considered by the Vatican, in addition to calling attention to Holy Land, a religious theme park which during the 1960s and 1970s attracted more than 40,000 visitors annually and was known for its 56-foot illuminated cross that could be seen from the highway.

Father James Sullivan and Chuck Pagano, chairman of Holy Land USA on the mountaintop overlooking the city of Waterbury.

Over the past several months, volunteers, members of the Knights of Columbus and area construction companies have been working daily to refurbish Holy Land for the event. The roads have been repaved and the mountaintop has been cleared of brush. The entrance is being redesigned with a new gate, which the organizers hope will be ready in time for the Mass.

“We want to bring Christ to the people with a mountaintop experience,” Father Sullivan said. “God speaks to us in a special way on mountains.”

Chuck Pagano, Chairman of Holy Land USA, said, “Growing up in Waterbury connected me with Holy Land as a child because I saw it every evening from my childhood bed. And there are numerous reminders of Father McGivney around our city that still connect me with him. The event is a perfect celebration for both important entities that helped develop me over the years.”

The mountaintop offers views of the places where Father McGivney was born, baptized, educated and buried for 92 years until his body was moved to St. Mary Church in New Haven, where he began the Knights of Columbus. The August 11 Mass is on the eve of Father McGivney’s birthday, August 12, 1852. He died at 38 on August 14, 1890.

The park, which is on an 18-acre site, once included biblical scenes from the life of Jesus and recreations of Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Holy Land was developed by John Baptist Greco, a Waterbury attorney, who began a volunteer organization called Companions of Christ, whose purpose was to create and oversee the religious park, which opened in 1955.

However, the park fell into disrepair and eventually closed in 1984. When John Greco died two years later, the property was given to the Religious Teachers Filippini. Over the years, various attempts to revive the park were unsuccessful although the cross was restored and later replaced in 2008 and dedicated during a Mass by Archbishop Henry Mansell.

In 2013, Mayor Neil O’Leary and Waterbury businessman Fred “Fritz” Blasius purchased the site from the Filippini Sisters. They eventually erected a new and larger cross on the hill, and there have been other initiatives to refurbish parts of the park, which reopened on September 14, 2014 with an inaugural Mass.

“Anyone who has been through the area is familiar with Holy Land,” Father Sullivan said. “Truck drivers passing on Route 84 would look for the cross. People were moved to see it illuminated at night on the hilltop. The mountain has always had a spiritual mystique. It is a landmark, but also an icon.”

Father Sullivan had the idea for the Holy Land Mountaintop Mass following the success of a Mass last year on the Feast of the Transfiguration, which he celebrated for almost 100 people on the top of High Rock in Naugatuck. When he approached Archbishop Blair, Mayor O’Leary and John Marrella, Supreme Advocate and General Counsel of the Knights of Columbus, he got an enthusiastic reception and moved forward.

Three crosses representing Calvary on top of Holy Land USA.

“Being born in Waterbury, I can recall as a young boy when all the churches were filled,” Father Sullivan said. “The spiritual climate of the world has diminished with many forces pulling us away from our devotion to God. The human heart, however, is made for God. The prayer of many of us is that He be found again. By God’s grace, Holy Land in Waterbury will help to reignite that flame of love.”

Three crosses representing Calvary on top of Holy Land USA.The gates will open at 2 pm on August 11. The rosary will begin at 4 pm, followed by praise and worship by the Christian group Hands and Feet. Mass will start at 5:30. There is no public parking at Holy Land at 90 Slocum Street. Free parking and shuttle service is available from St. Mary’s Hospital parking garage on South Elm Street beginning at 2 pm. Bus groups should email for instructions. People are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and umbrellas and ponchos in case of rain. There will be food concessions at the park. For further information, visit

Featured Photo: Illuminated cross at the top of Holy Land USA in Waterbury.

Sisters of Life to Take Vows August

STAMFORD—The Sisters of Life are pleased to announce that the following Sisters will profess their first vows as a Sister of Life on August 4, 2018 at Villa Maria Guadalupe in Stamford, CT. Bishop Frank Caggiano of the Bridgeport Diocese will celebrate the Mass of Profession.

The Sisters of Life are a religious congregation founded in 1991 by John Cardinal O’Connor, Archbishop of New York, and dedicated to the protection and enhancement of the sacredness of human life.

Sr. Mary Casey O’Connor, 35, graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio with a bachelor’s degree in theology and religious education. Prior to entering the Sisters of Life, Sr. Mary Casey O’Connor worked as a youth minister in her home parish of St. Frances Cabrini, Littleton, CO. She is the daughter of James and Cindi Gunning of Centennial, CO, and her siblings are: Todd, Erin Martinez, and Casey, her twin sister.

Sr. Mary Grace, 28, was raised in Sydney, Australia, and first met the Sisters of Life through World Youth Day 2008. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame, Sydney, Australia with a bachelor’s degree in theology. Prior to entering the Sisters of Life, Sr. Mary Grace served as a Chaplaincy Convenor for the University of Notre Dame Australia, organized events at St. Benedicts Church on campus, and worked in young adult ministry for the Archdiocese of Sydney. She is the daughter of Mark and Mary Langrell of Queenscliff, NSW; her siblings are Patrick, Lauren (entered eternal life 2014), and Thomas.

Sr. Fidelity Grace, 28, was raised in Oakdale, MN, and attended the Church of St. Peter in North Paul, MN. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN, with a bachelor’s degree in Catholic Studies and Secondary Education. Prior to entering the Sisters of Life, Sr. Fidelity Grace was a Middle and High School Religion Teacher in Chippewa Falls, WI. She is the daughter of Ken and Mary Ann Thelen; her siblings are Christine (husband John) Goerke and Sarah.

Sr. Gaudia Maria Magdalena, 27, was raised in the Archdiocese of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and attended St. Hyacinth Parish/ Parafia Św. Jacka in Ottawa. She graduated from the University of Ottawa with a bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences. Prior to entering the Sisters of Life, Sr. Gaudia Maria Magdalena was a social worker and then spent a year of Faith Formation at St. Therese School in Bruno, SK. She is the daughter of Krzysztof and Anna Matuszewscy of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; her siblings are Robert and Stefania.

Sr. Zélie Maria Louis, 26, was raised in Waterloo, Iowa, and attended Sacred Heart Parish there. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN, with a bachelor’s degree in Catholic Studies and Political Science, and a minor in Philosophy. Prior to entering the Sisters of Life, Sr. Zélie Maria Louis was working in Human Resources at Assessment Associates International in Wayzata, MN. She is the daughter of Steven and Jana Schmitt and a triplet. Her siblings are: Lauren, Michael, Emily (husband Matt) Nolting, Steven, and Andrew.

Sr. Ann Immaculée, 25, was raised in Owatonna, MN, and attended Sacred Heart Parish there. Prior to entering the Sisters of Life, Sr. Ann Immaculée studied Philosophy, Catholic Studies and Business at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and received a liberal arts degree in 2015. She is the daughter of Joseph and Sharon Stiles and has five siblings: Lorena (husband Eric) Dillon, Ezra, Annemarie (husband Mitchel) Milless, Fr. James Stiles, and Monica (husband Alex) Marchetti.

Sr. Catherine Joy Marie, 25, was raised in Stamford, CT, and attended Holy Spirit Parish there. She graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island with a bachelor’s degree in Theology and a concentration in Biology prior to entering the Sisters of Life. She is the daughter of Frank and Megan Janik of Stamford, and the oldest of five daughters: Carolyn, Katherine, Rachel, and Madelyn.

Sisters taking Final Vows on August 6

The following Sisters will profess their solemn vows as Sisters of Life on August 6, 2018, the Feast of the Transfiguration, at the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist in Stamford, CT. The Celebrant and Homilist will be Archbishop Charles J. Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to Albania and a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. The Mass of Perpetual Profession at the Basilica is open to wellwishers to help us celebrate this momentous occasion. Confessions begin at 10:30 am, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass begins at 11 am on Monday, August 6th.

Sr. Talitha Guadalupe, S.V., 32, was raised in Silt, CO, and attended Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish there. She graduated from the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, MN, in 2007 with a B.A. in theology. Prior to entering the Sisters of Life in 2007, Sr. Talitha Gaudalupe was a student who spent her summers walking with the Missionaries of the Eucharist from Minnesota to Pennsylvania (once) and Maine to Washington, D.C. (twice). She is the daughter of Les and Margaret Simms, and her siblings are: Carrie (husband Greg) Hartman; Eric (wife Sophie); and Molly (husband Tommy) Butler. Sr. Talitha Guadalupe currently serves at Sacred Heart of Jesus Convent in Manhattan, a Holy Respite where pregnant women, vulnerable to abortion, live side-by-side with Sisters, allowing them a place to rest, to get their feet on the ground, and to grow in their authentic identity as women and mothers.

Sr. Cecilia Rose, S.V., 37, was raised in Chico, CA, and attended St. John the Baptist Parish there. She graduated from the University of Portland, OR, in 2003 with a degree in theology and a minor of philosophy. Prior to entering the Sisters of Life in 2009, Sr. Cecilia Rose worked for NET Ministries- National Evangelization Teams. She is the daughter of Jim and Janice Carleton. She has three brothers: John (wife Sheelagh), Jerry (wife Heather), and Jay. Sr. Cecilia Rose currently serves at Sacred Heart of Jesus Convent in Manhattan, a Holy Respite where pregnant women, vulnerable to abortion, live side-by-side with Sisters, allowing them a place to rest, to get their feet on the ground, and to grow in their authentic identity as women and mothers.

Sr. Faustina Maria Pia, S.V., 34, was raised in Somers, CT, and attended All Saints Parish there. She graduated from the Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2005 with a degree in human services; and from Springfield Technical Community College with an R.N. degree in 2009. Prior to entering the Sisters of Life in 2009, she worked for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Hartford, CT, and for Northwest Airlines. She is the daughter of Dr. Germain and Mrs. Ortrud [note to editor: no ‘e’ at the end] Bianchi. She is the youngest of eight: Samsaim, Ariela (husband Dean) Torgersen, Anaritha (husband Will) Gonzalez, Muriel, Sr. Mareja, M.C., Hanael (wife Tiffany), Gertrud [note to editor: no ‘e’ at the end] (her twin sister; husband Adam) Harlan. Sr. Faustina currently assists the Vocations Director for the Community, helping to guide young women discerning a call to Religious Life as a Sister of Life.

Sr. Mariana Benedicta, S.V., 33, was raised in Los Alamos, NM, and attended Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish there. She graduated from Williams College in Williamstown, MA, in 2007 with a degree in Chemistry. Prior to entering the Sisters of Life in 2009, she served as a campus missionary with FOCUS (the Fellowship of Catholic University Students), at the University of Vermont in Burlington, VT, and at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD. Sr. Mariana Benedicta is the daughter of Francisco Uribe and Cheryl Wampler. She has two older brothers, Francisco (wife Marcela Carvallo) and Sebastian, and a younger sister, Eva Cristina Uribe (husband Misha Shashkov). Sr. Mariana Benedicta currently serves in the Visitation Mission in New York City, through which she accompanies women whose pregnancies have created a crisis in their lives, seeking to bring them the spiritual, emotional, and temporal support they need to choose life for themselves and their children.

Sr. Gianna Maria, S.V., 31, was raised in Wilmington, DE, and attended St. John the Beloved Parish there. She graduated from the Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, in 2009 with a bachelor of science degree in nursing. Prior to entering the Sisters of Life in 2010, Sr. Gianna Maria worked as a registered nurse as Nemours duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE. Her parents are Michael and Mary Solomon. She is the fifth of seven children, and her siblings are: Terri, Mary Jean (husband Will) Howard, Mike, Rev. John Solomon, Anne (husband Andrew) Mild, and Tony. Sr. Gianna Maria currently serves as an assistant at the postulant formation house, helping to introduce the newest members of the Sisters of Life to the prayer and life of the Community.

Sr. Monica Marie, S.V., 31, grew up in Anmore, British Columbia, and attended Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Port Coquitlam in the Vancouver area, Canada. She graduated from St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2009. Prior to entering the Sisters of Life in 2010, she was a registered nurse in a post-surgical unit. She is the daughter of Maureen and Bruce Currie, and her siblings are: Ian (wife Kelsey), Andrew James (“AJ”, wife Katharine), Rachael (husband Albert) Bonato, Josh, Aidan, and Kalina. Sr. Monica Marie currently serves in the Visitation Mission in New York City, through which she accompanies women whose pregnancies have created a crisis in their lives, seeking to bring them the spiritual, emotional, and temporal support they need to choose life for themselves and their children.

Sr. Maria Regina Immaculata, S.V., 30, was raised in Ann Arbor, MI, where she attended St. Francis of Assisi and St. Thomas the Apostle parishes there. Her family now attends St. Thomas the Apostle Parish. She graduated from Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, MI, in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and a minor degree in Spanish. In college, she was actively involved with her campus Students for Life group and president of its Catholic Society. She first met the Sisters of Life at World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, in 2008. She entered the Sisters of Life following her college graduation. Her parents are Dr. David and Mrs. Marie Williams and her four younger siblings are Anna (husband Eddie) Sutherland, Douglas, Clare, and Molly. Sr. Maria Regina Immaculata currently serves in Novitiate Formation at the motherhouse.

Sr. Marie Veritas, S.V., 30, was raised in Edmonton, AB, Canada, with her family spending a year in Australia during her childhood. She attended St. Andrew Parish in Edmonton. Prior to entering the Sisters of Life in 2010, she completed her degree in Biological Sciences and English at the University of Alberta. She is the daughter of Raymond and Dr. Diane Severin, and the eldest of four: Anna, Gregory and Theresa. She currently serves in the Visitation Mission in Toronto, through which she accompanies women whose pregnancies have created a crisis in their lives, seeking to bring them the spiritual, emotional, and temporal support they need to choose life for themselves and their children. She also assists in retreats and evangelization in Canada, and contributes to the Sisters of Life publication, IMPRINT.

For information on the Sisters of Life in Stamford, contact:

(Retreat House)
159 Sky Meadow Drive
Stamford, CT 06903
(203) 329-1492 Tel
(203) 329-1495 Fax
[Retreat Schedule]

Photo: Kathleen O’Rourke, Stamford Advocate, 2010

The Encyclical “Humanae Vitae” Fifty Years Later

Fifty years after its publication, the encyclical “Humanae Vitae” of Paul VI presents itself in the eyes of the men of today in a completely different way. In 1968, it was a courageous document—and therefore controversial—that went against the climate of the time, that of the sexual revolution, the realization of which required a reliable contraceptive and also the possibility of abortion. It was also the era in which economists were talking about the “population bomb,” meaning the danger of overpopulation that threatened wealthy countries and could reduce their prosperity.

Two powerful forces, therefore, were aligned against the encyclical: the utopia of happiness that the sexual revolution promised for every human being, and wealth, which would be the logical result of a reduction of the population on a vast scale.

Today, fifty years later, we see things in a completely different way. These two utopian visions have been realized, but they have not brought the hoped-for results: neither happiness nor wealth, but instead new and dramatic problems.

If the collapse of the the population in developed countries is having trouble coping with the arrival of masses of immigrants that are necessary but at the same time unacceptable for many, medical birth control has led to the invasion of procreation on the part of science, with ambiguous results that are often worrying and dangerous.

Today, when we are paying all the costs of a sharp and steep drop in birth rates, when many women after years of chemical birth control are unable to conceive children, we are realizing that the Church was right, that Paul VI had been prophetic in proposing a natural regulation of births that would safeguard the health of women, the relationship of the couple, and the natural character of procreation.

Now that young women in love with environmentalism are turning to natural methods for the regulation of fertility, without even knowing that “Humanae Vitae” exists, now that governments are trying to implement policies that encourage childbirth, we should reread the encyclical with new eyes. And instead of seeing it as the great defeat of the Church in the face of the onslaught of modernity, we can assert its prophetic lucidity in grasping the dangers inherent in these changes and celebrate, we Catholics, the fact that once again the Church did not fall into the enticing trap of the utopias of the twentieth century, but was able to grasp immediately their limitations and dangers.

But few are able to do this: for many, it is still difficult to give up the old opposition between progressive and conservative, within which the encyclical has been torn to pieces, without grasping its critical spirit and innovative power. Even now, no one seems to recall that for the first time a pope accepted the regulation of births and invited physicians to study effective natural methods.

It is very important, therefore, to be able to look at “Humanae Vitae” with new eyes, the eyes of human beings who live in the twenty-first century, now aware of the failure of many utopias and of many economic theories that had been presented as infallible.

It is only in this way that we can we face the problems of the family today, the new role of women, and the difficult relationships between ethics and science, the roots of which lie – even if unwittingly in some regards—in that text from way back in 1968.

by Lucetta Scaraffia
From “L’Osservatore Romano” of July 25, 2018

Sacred Heart University Building new Residence Halls

FAIRFIELD—Construction is under way for two additional residence halls that will make up the residence village on Sacred Heart University’s Upper Quad—formerly the site of Jewish Senior Services. The first of what is anticipated to be six halls—housing more than 900 students—opened early this year. It is named after Pierre Toussaint, a freed slave who became a noted philanthropist.

The two halls under construction will offer a combination of apartments and suites, each housing four or five students. They are expected to open in the fall of 2019.

The apartments will include living rooms, kitchens and bathrooms, in addition to the bedrooms. Mike Kinney, senior vice president for Finance & Administration at SHU, describes the buildings as state-of-the-art. “In addition to the modern and spacious suites and apartments, the halls will offer study spaces and lounge areas for the students,” he said.

“We anticipate the Upper Quad will eventually include a new dining facility, in addition to its close proximity to Linda’s and JP’s Diner,” Kinney noted. “These housing facilities are also conveniently located next to the new Bobby Valentine Athletic Center, which is currently under construction and will be open to all students.” Kinney even predicts that eventually there will be retail businesses on campus—something that students have often requested.

“With the addition of the Upper Quad, we will be able to offer more students the option of on-campus living, which adds to their experience and helps them to assimilate to college life more easily,” Kinney said.

About Sacred Heart University
Sacred Heart University, the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, offers more than 80 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its main campus in Fairfield, Conn., located less than 60 miles from Manhattan and approximately 150 miles from Boston. With its five miles of shoreline, marinas, parks, open space and plenty of shopping and fine dining, Fairfield is consistently recognized as a top community in the Northeast in which to live. In 2018 the town earned an A+ in a ‘report card’ by Niche on “Best Places to Live” in Connecticut. Sacred Heart also has satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland. It comprises more than 300 acres of land, including an 18-hole golf course and the former global headquarters of General Electric. Rooted in the 2000-year-old Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, Sacred Heart embraces a vision for social justice and educates students in mind, body and spirit to prepare them personally and professionally to make a difference in the global community. More than 8,500 students attend the University’s six colleges: Arts & Sciences; Health Professions; Nursing; the Jack Welch College of Business; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education; and St. Vincent’s College. Consistently recognized for excellence, The Princeton Review includes SHU in its guides, Best 382 Colleges–2018 Edition, “Best in the Northeast” and Best 267 Business Schools–2018 Edition. It also placed SHU on its lists for “Best College Theater” and “Most Engaged in Community Service,” each of which comprises only 20 U.S. schools. U.S.News & World Report ranks SHU in its Best Colleges 2018 guidebook and calls SHU the fourth “Most Innovative School” in the North. The Chronicle of Higher Education also names SHU one of the fastest-growing Roman Catholic universities in its 2016 almanac. Sacred Heart has a Division I athletics program.

Go Against the Grain

STEUBENVILLE, OHIO—What does it mean to be an analog Christian in a digital world?

A digital clock shows every minute separately, each abrupt and independent from the one before and the one after. An analog clock, however, displays time as an unbroken relationship, each minute depending on what came before and what comes after.

Analog Christians, therefore, are Christians who live in relationship.

Expanding on this analogy, Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins of the Archdiocese of Toronto, Canada, says the distinguishing mark of a digital world is the exaltation of autonomy.

Cardinal Collins gave the opening keynote address on “Discipleship in Our Present Age” at the St. John Bosco Conference for Evangelization and Catechesis, held July 16-19 at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He said autonomy—the embrace of complete individual independence and disdain of dependence—can “cause great evil. It causes great loneliness. It is something that is radically opposed to a life of discipleship lived in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

Trinitarian love, he said, the generous love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is key to pushing back against the grain of a modern society where the most dreaded fear is losing independence.

“It all comes down to an encounter with the Lord,” Cardinal Collins said. “God is a ‘who,’ not an ‘it.’”

A member of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Cardinal Collins has been very active in the pro-life movement in Canada and spoke at the 2018 National March for Life in Ottawa.

Referring to the Canadian Supreme Court case that legalized euthanasia, he acknowledged the fear of pain and the fear of not wanting to be a burden, but said ultimately, “We are disciples of the Lord. We all depend on one another.

“Depending on other people is not a bad thing. It’s a noble and a beautiful reality. We need to reach out and form people in discipleship so they’ll realize that our life is full, that it does not depend upon my ability to do what I used to do as a teenager.”

Cardinal Collins praised the example of the saints who lived out Trinitarian love.

“St. Thomas More is shown as a model of conscience, and he is, but his conscience isn’t ‘I want to do it this way.’ It was because he studied and reflected on the teaching of the Church. He saw what was right and he did it.”

He continued, “The idea that there’s a certain model for Christianity, somewhere out there, that no one can actually be expected to live, is simply wrong. Saints live out the Christian faith every day. The great challenges of Christian faith are the pathways to sanctity.”

Putting one’s will above God’s is a further example of autonomy, one that the cardinal likened to the philosophy of nominalism. Nominalism denies there is an order in the universe in regard to justice, truth, or existence.

“But there is a real order up there,” he said. “God says, ‘Thou shalt not steal,’ and people think, ‘We could steal if God says we could steal,’ but that’s the will triumphant. The reason we don’t steal is because stealing, by the nature of things, is wrong. That’s why God says it’s wrong.”

The denial of divine order revealed through God’s love is another indicator of an autonomous society. Addressing the common misconception that a new pope would dramatically change the teachings of the Church, Cardinal Collins said, “It’s not your Church or my Church. It’s Christ’s Church. Insignificant things can change, but anything that comes from Christ can’t change.”

Collins’ words resonated with Elizabeth Bonutti, director of Religious Education at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Woodstock, Georgia. She said one of the biggest challenges she faces in her work is distractions.

“Everyone is so busy. They’re not recognizing what’s really important. They don’t see the need for God. If you think you’re enough, you can’t accept help because you’re supposed to be able to do it all yourself.”

Father Jay Mello, pastor of St. Joseph’s and St. Michael’s parishes in Fall River, Massachusetts, said the cardinal’s words were a stark reminder that “we live in a world that is not open to the central message of the Gospel, which is conversion. We live in a world where people want the Church to change, to adapt to their way of life, to see everything they’re doing as OK, as opposed to conforming their life to the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

As a starting point to reaching out, Cardinal Collins called to mind the parable of the Good Samaritan, a story, he said, that even the most secular person accepts.

“We can build on that,” he said. “We see the hand of God. This leads us to hope, which bears fruit in love. But if we are to form people in discipleship, we need to begin with love, helping the victim at the side of the road, so they might be filled with hope and then ask ‘Why are you doing this?’

“People are attracted to people who are really showing love. It draws the scattered in if they see the gathered are living that way.”

Cardinal Collins continued, “We are called to proclaim a discipleship rooted in the love of the blessed Trinity. What does that look like physically? It is washing dirty feet. The love of the blessed Trinity is shown through washing dirty feet.”

Concluding his address, Collins reminded the attendees that “the most important thing is sanctity. Even the greatest teachers need to be rooted in prayer.”

Over 600 attendees traveled to Steubenville from 42 states, Canada, Ireland, and Nigeria for the Bosco Conference, where they chose from 109 different workshops to receive certification in catechesis.

Celebrity, award-winning Chef Patrick visiting Shehan Center

Chef Wenford Patrick Simpson, or better known as Chef Patrick, grew-up cooking for his younger sister. Now, after a career filled with all sorts of accomplishments and awards, he is still cooking for kids. On July 30th, Chef Patrick will perform a cooking demonstration for the 27 teenagers participating in the Cardinal Shehan Center’s 2018 Culinary Arts / Hospitality / Entrepreneurial Young Adulthood Program, funded by the Mayor’s Youth Initiative.

Chef Patrick was raised in Jamaica, where he perfected the Caribbean flair that he is best known for. He started his professional culinary career in high school as an intern and was offered a job after graduation. He has worked in kitchens on both land and sea, and from the Caribbean to New York City. Simpson has worked for luxury resorts, such as Sandals in the Caribbean; as a Sous Chef for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line; and as an Executive Chef at upscale restaurants such Negril Village, B.B. King Blues Club and Grill, and The Howard Theatre in Washington D.C. If you can’t find time to visit one of the many restaurants where you can taste one of Chef Patrick’s creations then try watching his show, “Cook-Up with Chef Patrick” on TEMPO Network.

Chef Patrick’s passion for cooking grew out of a need as a child to learn how to prepare meals for his sister and himself when the fridge was bare. His understanding of the realities and difficulties of food insecurity motivated him to establish a culinary school, Simpson Culinary Institute, in his hometown of Ocho Rios. Simpson’s hope is to educate and inspire others to follow a career path similar to the one he is on. His desire is to give back to the people of Ocho Rios.

Under Chef Patrick’s guidance, the Shehan Center teens will prepare a meal that they will also get to enjoy. The Culinary Arts / Hospitality / Entrepreneurial Young Adulthood Program is designed to introduce teenagers to careers in the culinary arts and hospitality industries. Participants listen to speakers, take field trips and learn about different types of jobs, social etiquette, resumes, paychecks and taxes, money management and personal finances, and educational opportunities. Threaded throughout the program are hands-on lessons on meal preparation and planning.

About the Cardinal Shehan Center
Founded in 1962 and located at 1494 Main Street, Bridgeport, the Cardinal Shehan Center’s mission is to enrich the lives of youth through learning. The Shehan Center has a rich tradition of offering Bridgeport area youth a clean, safe environment with opportunities to grow intellectually and physically; to become responsible, caring members of their community; to build independence and to develop a sense of belonging.

The Shehan Center offers a variety of programs for youth including an After School & Saturday Program, basketball leagues, a Summer Day Camp, Physical Education classes to local schools and more.

In addition, the Shehan Center offers tutoring as well as other enrichment programs and experiences such as JWC Girls Zone Program, Leadership Program, Counselor-in-Training, sailing, karate, swimming, art, cooking, rugby, and more. Call (203)336-4468, visit or find us at for more information.

Catholic Charities case worker to join national humanitarian team at the border

BRIDGEPORT—Maria Palacios, a member of the Catholic Charities of Fairfield County (CCFC) Immigration Team, departed today for the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas where she will join a national Catholic Charities relief effort for immigrants.

As the federal immigration detention and release practices are rapidly shifting and great public attention has been focused on the needs of families, the Humanitarian Respite Center has been inundated with families to welcome and donations to process.

“The arrivals and needs of these families are not new and the dedicated staff and volunteers of Catholic Charities in the Rio Grande Valley have built an efficient and effective respite center. However, the current volume of needs and support exceeds their current capacity,” said Al Barber, CEO of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County.

Barber said the decision to send Palacios to Texas is a result of a call from Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. She has requested a deployed Catholic Charities professional team to provide support and assistance to her existing staff so that systems can be put in place to respond to the current intensity.

During her 9-day journey, Palacios will meet up with other Catholic Charities’ caseworkers from across the United States.

Alex Arevalo, Director of Immigration Services for Catholic Charities of Fairfield County, said Palacios was chosen to take the mission trip for several reasons.

“First and foremost, there is a need for Spanish-speaking case managers and Maria is fluent in Spanish. In addition to that, Maria has extensive experience in this type of work,” he said.

Prior to coming to the Diocese of Bridgeport, Maria worked at Catholic Charities of Las Cruces where she provided case management for clients in need of U-Visas and those who were part of the Women Against Violence Act (WAVA).

Maria also spent last year at the border with Assumption Mission Associates through the Religious of Assumption, a Jesuit Volunteer Corp. There she taught English at a middle school to newcomers at a border town in Chaparral, New Mexico.

This time around, Maria anticipates helping to organize the thousands of donations that are delivered daily. She may also have the opportunity to provide some much needed case management services to the refugees.

During her trip, Maria will be keeping a journal which will be shared upon her return and she will keep the agency appraised of her journey so that updates can be posted via the Immigration and Catholic Charities Facebook pages.

What does it mean to be a witness?

What does it mean to be a witness? The way we answer this question is important if we wish to live faithful discipleship in Christ.

To the modern world, a “witness” is commonly understood as someone who testifies on behalf of a person or to an event that he or she has seen with their own eyes or for which the person has first-hand knowledge. This is the common understanding of serving as a “witness” in court. Such witness is meant to establish the truth so that a proper judgment can be rendered by the appropriate authority.


Bishop named delegate to Vatican Synod on youth

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has ratified the members elected by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to represent the United States at the upcoming XV Ordinary General Assembly: Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment. The Synod will take place October 3-28.

The delegates are:

· Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

· Archbishop José H. Gomez, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Vice President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

· Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth

· Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, Diocese of Bridgeport, member of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.

· Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis

The XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops has been convened by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, along with the Vatican Synod Office. In preparation for this Synod, the USCCB and other episcopal conferences, as well as ecclesial movements, associations, and experts in the field, were consulted throughout 2017 on the topic of “young people, the faith, and vocational discernment.” In addition, the Vatican collected responses from an online questionnaire aimed at youth and young adults conducted last year. In March 2018, over 300 young adult delegates gathered in Rome, where Pope Francis convened a pre-synod gathering to listen directly to the voice of young people from around the world. The gathering produced a Final Pre-Synodal document.

The Working Document. . . (“Instrumentum Laboris”) for the October Synod was released in late June 2018 and includes a summary of all the Synod consultations to date. It describes the purpose of the 2018 Synod of Bishops as an opportunity for the Church “to accompany all young people, without exception, towards the joy of love,” realizing that “taking care of young people is not an optional task for the Church, but an integral part of her vocation and mission is history.”

Cardinal Joseph Tobin, C.Ss.R., of Newark, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., of Philadelphia, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, welcomed the recent release of the Synod Working Document, saying:

“After a lively discussion with our brother bishops at the Spring 2018 General Assembly on the topic of the Synod, we are happy to receive this Instrumentum Laboris, and look forward to exploring how it sheds light on the pastoral challenges of United States. The 2018 Synod will powerfully renew the Catholic Church’s engagement with youth and young adults, and provide a deeper understanding of vocational discernment.”

Click here for the official Vatican website for the Synod, which is inclusive of the Pre-Synod gathering

Click here for the official USCCB webpage for the Synod

Amanecer y Atardecer con Cristo

Cristo alegría del mundo, resplandor de la gloria del Padre. ¡Bendita la Mañana que anuncia tu esplendor al universo! (Del Himno de las Laudes Domingo XV del tiempo ordinario).

El pasado domingo 14 de julio de 2018 la parroquia Santa María en Bridgeport vivió una experiencia única que le permitió unificarse con la naturaleza en oración. Amanecer y Atardecer con Cristo fue una idea que me surgió en mi tiempo como vicario en la parroquia Santa María en Greenwich y que durante los 5 años que estuve trabajando con la comunidad hispana lo realizamos en el Bruce Park y siempre fue un éxito total. Al pasar de los años no había podido volver a realizar este retiro de todo un día por diferentes circunstancias. Este año 2018, luego de ya tener tres años como párroco en Santa María en Bridgeport, me aventure a realizar esta experiencia de Dios, pero a otro nivel. Esta vez Dios decidió llevarnos a otros lugares, mucho mas amplios y hermosos, así llegamos hasta Litchfield, Connecticut, a la gruta de Lourdes guiada por los Padres de los Misioneros de Montfort.

De principio solo esperábamos unas 100 personas y pensábamos que no iban a responder muchos por ser tiempo de verano y por muchas familias estar de vacaciones, pero que equivocados estábamos. Lo que para el hombre es imposible para Dios no lo es. Gracias a Dios tuvimos la asistencia de casi 300 personas de diferentes parroquias de Bridgeport, Norwalk, Stamford, New York y hasta Hartford, fue una bendición total. El día fue hermoso y pudimos compartir la palabra de Dios, comer juntos, orar juntos, cantar juntos y bendecir al Señor juntos, todos como hermanos y hermanas alabando a Dios en toda la creación. A pesar de la humedad, nuestro Dios nos bendijo con un gran Sol y sombra y terminamos el día con la Santa Eucaristía, desde las 8 am hasta las 6 de la tarde, fue una absoluta bendición.

De mas esta decir que Dios estuvo con nosotros a cada instante y damos gracias porque tuvimos la oportunidad de compartir nuestro tiempo, talento y tesoro, desde las personas que ayudaron con el desayuno y almuerzo, hasta los que cooperaron con el rezo del rosario, limpieza y hasta la música. Doy gracias a nuestro creador Dios Todopoderoso que nos acompañó de principio a fin, gracias a Él todo quedo según su voluntad. Esperamos que el próximo ano, si Dios lo permite, podamos volver a realizar este retiro guiados por el Espíritu Santo y María Santísima.

St. Mary’s Pilgrimage Brings “Unity with Nature in Prayer”

BRIDGEPORT—Last Sunday, July 14, 2018, St. Mary’s Parish of Bridgeport, lived a unique experience that allowed us to unify with nature in prayer.

Amanecer y Atardecer con Cristo was a one-day pilgrimage that took us to Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in Litchfield.

It was an idea that arose in my time as vicar in St. Mary’s in Greenwich. During the five years I was working with Hispanic community there, we gathered in prayer at Bruce Park. It was always a total success! Due to different circumstances over the years I had not been able to return to this entire day retreat, although, I often thought of it.

In 2018, after having been the Pastor of St. Mary’s in Bridgeport for three years, I decided to try again and to have this experience with my community but on another level. This time God decided to take us to a more big and beautiful place, so we arrived at Grotto for a very special day of prayer and celebration guided by the Fathers of the Montford Missionaries.

Originally we only expected about 100 parishioners and we thought that many were not going to answer, because of summertime and families being on vacation, but how wrong we were.

What for man is impossible for God is not. Thanks to God, we had almost 300 people in attendance, from all different parts of the Diocese: Bridgeport, Norwalk, Stamford, and even from New York and Hartford. It was a total blessing. The day was beautiful and we were able to share the word of God, eat together, pray together, sing together and bless the Lord together, as brother and sisters, praising Him in every creation.

Despite the humidity, Our God blessed us with a great sun and shade and we ended the day with the Holy Eucharist. From 8 am to 6 pm, it was just amazing. Needless to say, God was with us at every moment. We are grateful for all those who shared their time, talent, and treasure– from the people who helped with breakfast and lunch, to those who cooperate with the rosary, cleaning and even the music.

I give thanks to Our Almighty God who helped us from the beginning to the end, everything was according to His will.

Our reflection for the day was, “Christ, Joy of the world, radiance of the Fathers glory, blessed is the morning that announces your splendor to the universe” (Morning Prayer Hymn, Sunday XV)
We hope next year, God willing, we can return to our parish Retreat not with only 300 hundred but with more people, guided by the Holy Spirit and Mary Our Mother.

By Fr. Rolando Torres,
Pastor, St. Mary’s Church, Bridgeport

‘Walking Priest’ Pursues Street Evangelization

WEST BEND, Iowa (CNS) — With apologies to Fats Domino, Father Lawrence Carney is “walkin’ and talkin’ about you and me,” and hoping that listeners will come back to — not “me” — but God.

Known as the “walking priest,” Father Carney brought his message of street evangelization to Sts. Peter and Paul Church in the north central Iowa town of West Bend in early July.

The event was sponsored by the Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption in collaboration with the Office of Discipleship and Evangelization for the Diocese of Sioux City.

Ordained for the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, Father Carney is on loan to the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, where he serves as chaplain to the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, in Gower. He visits the nuns daily to celebrate the Tridentine Mass, offers the sacrament of reconciliation and provides spiritual direction.

Once his duties are complete, Father Carney, 42, takes to the streets of St. Joseph. Armed with a rosary in one hand and a large crucifix in the other, the tall priest in a black cassock and wide-brimmed clerical hat known as a “saturno” shares the Gospel with anyone who approaches.

The oldest of three boys in his family, Father Carney recalled his first inkling of a vocation surfaced in kindergarten.

“A Redemptorist priest visited and held up a card of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and it seemed like the eyes of Our Lady would follow me,” he said.

“I thought, ‘If a priest can do that with a holy card, then I want to be a priest,'” he said, smiling.

Father Carney confessed he “fought” the idea of the priesthood in high school.

“I was convinced I was to marry a beautiful young woman and have 12 children,” he said. “God ultimately won that battle.”

Following his 2007 ordination, Father Carney served as a parish priest in the Wichita Diocese. His life changed when he chose to walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain — opting to wear a cassock — talking to about 1,000 people during his 32 days on the trail.

The experience led to his decision to walk the streets.

Father Carney’s ministry led him to pen “Walking the Road to God,” published in 2017 by Caritas Press. The book is subtitled, “Why I left everything behind and took to the streets to save souls.”

“I’m a horrible author,” the priest said. “Isn’t is something how God chooses the worst people to do his will?”

But save souls, he has, in his travels in Missouri and elsewhere.

“Three years ago, I was approached by a non-Catholic family who insisted their home was possessed by demons; the children were saying they saw red eyes in the house,” he said. “They asked me to pray for them and I did.”

When he later saw the family, Father Carney asked about the house.

“‘Oh, Father, after you prayed and left, the devils left,’ the mother reported,” he said. “After one year of instruction, they were received into the church and one of the sons is discerning a vocation to the priesthood.”

The story was one of several the priest shared with the 125 people who attended his talk.

In his book, Father Carney expressed his dream of a new order of priests, clerics and brothers, who walk and pray in cities around the U.S. to reach out to lukewarm and fallen-away Catholics and non-Catholics.

The Vatican approved his request for the new order Dec. 8 — to accept men into the Canons Regular of St. Martin of Tours. The new community will be based in St. Joseph. About a dozen men have indicated an interest in joining, Father Carney said.

“I am in the process of discernment myself for this new community,” he said. “God willing, I will profess my first vows on Nov. 11, 2019.”

Meanwhile, Father Carney “walks the walk and talks the talk” to about 10 people a day, about 2,000 to 5,000 folks in the last four years.

“The best part of the walking is I get to contemplate God,” he said. “I pray the rosary, get some exercise, look at nature and someone might talk to me and then, I share my contemplation with them.”

After his presentation, Father Carney took questions, with one person asking if he walked the 245 miles from St. Joseph to West Bend.

With a grin, Father Carney shook his head in response. However, he did admit to being somewhat of an expert on shoes.

“I have discovered ‘shandals’ work well,” he said, referring to a part-shoe, part-sandal, which he had on his feet.

Father Carney reported the Canons Regular are looking into creating the hybrid and marketing them.

“We will be calling them, Father Martens,” he said, chuckling repeatedly at the reference to the popular Doc Martens footwear.

By Joanne Fox Catholic News Service
Pictures by CNS/Jerry Mennenga

Whose Am I?

FAIRFIELD—The summer that a person graduates from high school marks the beginning of one of the first big transitions of their life. All over the country, teenagers are looking at these next few months as their first taste of freedom, or a looming period of the unknown. Whether it’s college, military, or the working world, there is much uncertainty.

Many of us have experienced, at one time or another, lack of attentiveness to our relationship with God during periods of transition. When there are so many questions up in the air about what the future holds, the times when we should be looking with all our trust at the Lord we become more fixed on how we ourselves have control.

In order to remind these high school graduates of who’s really in charge, St. Pius X in Fairfield, will be hosting the second annual Make It or Break It College Retreat (MOB) for college age students. The retreat will be held on Saturday, July 28, and the theme of the event will be Whose Am I?

The purpose of this event is to give young adults an opportunity to renew their faith before heading to college for the first time or heading back for another semester. The event is lead by current college students, recent college graduates, and young adults who have the desire to serve their younger peers and pass along advice based on their own experiences.
“Many of the participants have become accustomed to youth groups or being in a practicing family. It’s a good place to grow, being surrounded by faith communities,” said Paola Pena, youth minister at St. Pius X and one of the leaders of the MOB Retreat.
College campuses aren’t always a friendly place for those who practice the faith, and discussion of faith is often seen as taboo. The purpose of MOB is to make sure these students have the tools to seek out the Lord and community on their own,” Pena reported.

The event will feature a presentation based on the theme, Whose Am I? During the times in our lives when we are unsure of what God’s plan is for us, it’s good to have the reminder that you belong to the Father. Young adults especially have gotten caught up in being of the world and attempt to live up to unreachable expectations the world sets when it comes to success and goals.

Though success and goals are good things that the Lord wants for us, when we remind ourselves that ultimately we belong in heaven, and because of that, God doesn’t just want us to be good, he wants us to be great. “The efforts of everyone involved to make Make It or Break It happen come from the desire to remind this generation of young people that God is constantly pursuing them,” said Pena.

In addition to the advice and guidance attendees will receive at this event, the high point will be Eucharistic Adoration. Young adults will have an opportunity to spend time with Jesus in the Eucharist and bring to him whatever is on their hearts.

Like any ministry, words and testimonies can only go so far, the real power is in the Holy Spirit. “He does all the work, I am just a vessel,” Pena stated, echoing the attitude of all the leaders of MOB.

For anyone who is in a transitional period of their life, prayer is the most powerful tool they have, and MOB is helping participants recognize that.

Sacred Heart University opens Audiology Clinic to Bridgeport Community

FAIRFIELD—The Sacred Heart University Audiology Clinic has opened its doors to the Bridgeport community and invites area residents to make an appointment to get their hearing loss diagnosed and treated.

The full-service clinic delivers hearing health care for individuals across the lifespan, while providing SHU speech-language pathology students with the opportunity to accrue required clinical hours in audiology and aural rehabilitation under the supervision of a licensed audiologist.

An audiologist is a professional who specializes in the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of hearing and balance disorders. Audiologists treat infants, children and adults for various hearing impairments. They work in diverse settings like hospitals, schools, clinics, universities, private practices, Veterans Administration hospitals, hearing aid dispensaries and otolaryngology offices.

The audiology clinic is inside SHU’s Center for Healthcare Education, 4000 Park Ave., Bridgeport. It provides hearing testing and diagnostic audiology and dispenses hearing devices and services. The clinic also offers educational workshops to help people improve daily living and overall quality of life. It aims to provide inter-professional opportunities for other SHU health profession students to observe and learn about diagnosis and treatment for people with hearing loss.

Hearing loss is a progressive condition that worsens over time. Symptoms appear so gradually that the individual may be unaware of the condition for some time. Even when hearing loss is suspected, a person takes an average of seven years to seek medical treatment. The third most commonly reported physical condition, following arthritis and heart disease, hearing loss affects roughly 20 percent of the U.S. population.

Professor Jamie Marotto, Au.D., CCC-A, a licensed audiologist in Connecticut, heads the clinic, under the auspices of the University’s Speech-Language Pathology Department. Marotto earned a doctorate in audiology from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and a bachelor’s degree in communication disorders and Spanish from the University of Connecticut.

Marotto describes hearing loss as “an invisible disability” that often goes unnoticed as it progressively worsens. Affected individuals might bluff their way along until the loss becomes more severe and puts them at increased risk of other health issues such as cognitive decline and falling.

“People need to understand it’s not just something that happens as they as they get older; they can do something about it,” Marotto said. “It’s neat to have the audiology clinic in the center of SHU health care education. We really are able to teach students about hearing and the implications for overall quality of life. Hearing plays a big role in how to treat patients, no matter their disability.”

Hearing aids are more powerful than ever

Hearing aids are much more effective today than in the past, because they amplify the things the user needs to hear and not all the background noise, according to Professor Rhea Paul, chair of SHU’s Speech-Language Pathology Department. Paul, a former professor at Yale Child Study Center, Southern Connecticut State University and Portland State University, earned a doctorate in communication disorders in 1981 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“People sometimes buy hearing aids but have difficulty getting them to work properly. Our students will help people use their hearing aids to maximum potential, adjusting to their particular needs, and assist with their care and maintenance,” Paul said.

People who might have tried hearing aids in the past and not found them effective might want to consider trying them again, Paul said. “Most people don’t get very much counseling or training, which our students can provide. The important thing to remember is hearing loss isolates people and is one of the high risks for other conditions that are deleterious to their health.”

Today’s digital devices are smaller and more powerful than ever, and include many features designed to improve comfort, convenience and clarity. They are available in various sizes and styles, so finding one that appeals to a person’s lifestyle needs and cosmetic preferences should be easy.

Since Sacred Heart is a nonprofit university, the audiology clinic staff can serve people with less of an obligation to generate a profit than private providers have, Paul said. The clinic has the advantage of providing students with the experience of working with people who are learning to use their hearing aids at a lower cost, not full market cost. “We have the opportunity to serve clients who might be underserved by other providers,” she said.

“Hearing loss is a lot more visible than wearing hearing aids might be,” Marotto said. “Spending a couple thousand dollars might make the difference between being able to hear and social withdrawal.”

The audiology clinic accepts insurance plans such as Medicaid, Medicare and other private plans. Typically, most insurance companies will cover the cost of the hearing examination. Coverage for hearing aids is more variable; Medicare will not pay for hearing aids while Medicaid will typically cover the cost of two hearing aids. Some private insurance plans offer a benefit towards the purchase of hearing aids.

The clinic also accepts donated hearing aids, with the aim of giving back to the local community. “Previously, we have fitted donated hearing aids through the Oticon Hearing Foundation to children and adults in Guatemala,” Marotto said.

The Speech-Language-Pathology (SLP) program at Sacred Heart University offers an annual service-learning program that travels to Antigua and the Greater Panchoy Valley in Guatemala where SLP, occupational therapy and physical therapy students actively collaborate on an inter-professional team. Specifically, SLP provides hearing-related services and hearing aid fittings to children and adults in need. The inter-professional team will return to Guatemala in the fall.

To make an appointment or find out more about the clinic, call 203.396.6895 or email

PHOTO CAPTION: Professor Jamie Marotto, right, works with a patient in the audiology clinic at Sacred Heart University’s Center for Healthcare Education. Photo by Sean Kaschak

Knights announce free throw champ

FAIRFIELD—The St. Pius X Knights Of Columbus Council #16347 in Fairfield is pleased to announce that Braden Moore has won the 14-Year-Old division of the Knights of Columbus State Free Throw Competition, held at St. Paul’s High School in Bristol. Braden, an 8th grade student at Tomlinson Middle School, was one of six winners at a local level competition held in January in Fairfield. From there, Braden went on to the Southwestern Regional Competition held in March in West Haven, where he won the 14-Year-Old division. With this momentum, Braden moved on to represent St. Pius X Council at the state finals, where he competed against other regional winners and emerged victorious as state champion.

“It was such a fun experience for Braden, and for my husband Kevin and I” said Michelle Moore, Braden’s mother. “We were all so excited to be part of this event. Thank you to the Knights of Columbus, who made it possible.”

The Knights of Columbus Council #16347 extends its congratulations to Braden on his win, and extends special thanks to James Maloney, the council’s director of youth activities for all of his work in making this a success.

Youth Conference: “Finding God in Our Connectedness”

MASSACHUSETTS—“I urge you to be part of a community of faith that can sustain you and nurture your sense of purpose,” said Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston at the Steubenville East Conference held last weekend.

Around 3,000 teens gathered in Lowell, MA, for the conference, which included young people from St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and St. Joseph Parish in Shelton, St. Mark in Stratford, St. Ladislaus in Norwalk and other diocesan parishes.

Steubenville conferences are hosted by Franciscan University of Steubenville in partnership with Life Teen ministry and provide Catholic teens from around the country, and at multiple locations throughout, with the opportunity to gather together in Christ’s name.

“A life of faith is a life of purpose and a mission to bring fulfillment,” Cardinal O’Malley said to send the teens on their way with closing Mass on Sunday morning of the conference.

During his homily Cardinal O’Malley urged teens to consider the importance of community in living a life of faith

“In our connectedness to God and each other is where we find meaning of life,” he said.

“It was amazing to see an arena packed with people who love God and their Faith,” a participant commented.

Teens had the chance to hear influential speakers on a variety of topics, participate in group worship and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, attend Mass, receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and share and reflect in a small group setting.

There were many different highlights of the weekend, one of them being the chance teens had to encounter Jesus during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. “I’ve never seen so many people be so happy but so emotional during adoration. It was absolutely beautiful,” said Connor, a member of The Walk youth group from St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Parish in Shelton.

“I learned so much from all the different talks we heard. The speakers were able to connect with the audience in an entertaining way while still being able to send an important message,” another teen mentioned in reflection.

The theme of the weekend was Revealed, which was drawn from the following verse of Sacred Scripture: “In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent His only Son into the world so that we might have life through him” (1 John 4:9). Throughout the weekend teens were challenged to think about the way the Christ makes Himself known to them.

The host, Dr. Bob Rice, a professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville addressed the teens, “Let us let God surprise us, challenge us, call us…that we might know who He is.”

Participants heard talks on the real love of God, healthy relationships, God’s plan for their lives, and how to bring what they learned from the conference into their everyday lives. Teens were also able to split off into both men’s and women’s sessions to go deeper into what it means to be sons and daughters of God.

Teens learned about the importance of the Mass, and the need to be present in both the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Teens learned that God’s love reaches out to them no matter where they are and that they need not be afraid because they are not alone.

Notable speakers included Father John Parks, Lisa Cotter, David Calavitta, and Bob Lesnefsky; as well as worship music led by Jon Niven.

“It is important that Catholic teens have the opportunity to attend conferences like this,” an adult chaperone mentioned in reflection. “It is so rare that they are able to see that they are not alone in this journey of faith, that there are thousands of other Catholic teens out there that are looking for and wondering about and learning from the same things as they are.”

Youth from St. Mark in Stratford and St. Ladislaus in Norwalk.

One week changed everything!

Leah Foito, a young woman entering 10th grade at Stratford High from the St. Mark Youth Group, attended LEAD week a five-day leadership and evangelization program that takes place before each Steubenville conference. In the passage below, she shares her impressions.

“Last week I had the blessing and privilege to go the LEAD (Leadership, Evangelization, and Discipleship) program. I went into the week with a very broken and weak faith. I was doubting God’s existence and didn’t think anything would change in a single week. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

During the week I met the most amazing teens from all over New England. Together we learned how to pray in a more meaningful way and how to spread God’s word across the world. Though adoration, I was able to rediscover my faith and return back to Catholicism with more faith than ever before. The instructors were four Franciscan University alumni, and taught us with unending compassion and support. Over the course of the week, our LEAD group became so connected by the grace of God, and I can proudly say that they’re becoming my best friends.

LEAD taught me how to love God to the fullest, and restored my faith in a way that makes me excited to pray everyday, and it’s something I look forward to. Through God’s grace I became one of His disciples, and I am ready to begin my new life in the ways of Christ. Steubenville created that opportunity for me right off the bat. I was able to spread the word of God to my friends from my home parish, and inspire some of them to attend LEAD next year.

The talks addressed relatable issues, such as relationships and self image. God’s presence was very apparent throughout the whole weekend, and I was able to worship Him, with my catholic friends from back home. We learned the value of having an open mind to God’s plan for all of us, and how we can prepare to be called to our vocations. I truly was able to believe again, especially in the church and in God himself, along with preparing myself for when He decides to reveal my vocation to me.

This trip was something I would truly repeat over and over again, and I will definitely keep going to Steubenville as I continue to get older, and wiser in my faith.”

Fan the Fire Registration Now Open

The 13th Annual Fan the Fire Youth Rally will take place on Saturday, August 11 from 9:30am to 10pm at St Rose of Lima Church in Newtown, CT. All young people in grades 8 through 12 are invited and encouraged to attend this incredible opportunity to grow in their Catholic faith and relationship with Jesus Christ, along with hundreds of other teens from throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport.


Summer is the time to rest

The gift of rest is important to our life for at least two important reasons.

First, sufficient, quality rest is essential to the proper stewardship of the gifts of our physical and mental health. Proper sleep, time for recreation and opportunities to “unwind” are essential to mitigate the effects of stress and fatigue. While we often forget that good health is one of the greatest gifts that God has given us, we can equally forget that it is our responsibility, to the best of our ability, to care for this great gift. Rest is essential in the stewardship of good health.


Violence against Church in Nicaragua

Dear Friends of Quest for Peace and Covenant House Casa Alianza in Nicaragua:

These weeks we have been witnessing with great anguish the violence and anarchy that has erupted in Nicaragua which has set the government and its paramilitaries against students, workers, the poor and the Catholic Church.

Since April there have been over 300 murders and assassinations carried out against the Nicaraguan people who are protesting the Ortega dictatorship and its brutal repression of voices calling for social justice. Today, as the Catholic Cardinal and Bishops continued their attempts to mediate a pause for peace and the release of students and priests from a church under siege, even these representatives of Pope Francis were attacked and wounded.

Many of us who are reading this post have worked for decades to support the emergence of Nicaragua since the revolution for liberation which has been so betrayed by its leaders. Through Quest for Peace, and outreach from the worship community of the Benedictine Grange, we defied embargoes to send humanitarian aid there, we have supported the establishment of schools and clinics there. Lives were changed; our lives were changed.

But the most wonderful initiative we have supported there has been Casa Alianza, one of the houses of rescue and relief sponsored by Covenant House International.

Many of us have traveled to Nicaragua to befriend the young children, child mothers, homeless and hungry street children served by Casa Alianza. Children have been rescued from trafficking and from an unimaginable life of desolation and abuse.

During this season of dramatic blood-letting repression by the government, Casa Alianza has suffered unspeakable violence to its workers, and its children. Now more than ever in its history is it under siege with so many other beacons of hope in the country as the regime and its paramilitaries crack down on any church related ministries and works that labor of social justice.

For this reason I am appealing to you, my Friends, to make a generous offering to Covenant House Nicaragua now, so we may be part of the rescue of light in this dreadful dark night the people and especially the children are undergoing there.

Will you be as generous as you are able? We are not helpless to aid our afflicted friends whom we have supported for decades. But now the need is the greatest and I am imploring you to let us carry on our ministry of solidarity to these most vulnerable children and to the staff and workers at this life-saving place, this harbor of hope: Casa Alianza.

Click here to understand more of the situation

Click here to see the work of Casa Alianza

Click here to make a Donation: please indicate Casa Alianza Nicaragua

Kathleen Deignan, CND

St. Margaret Shrine Offers Oasis for Prayer in Connecticut

BRIDGEPORT—The St. Margaret Shrine in Bridgeport might be the only large-scale shrine in the United States dedicated to St. Margaret of Antioch, a late third-century/early fourth-century martyr whose feast was formerly July 20 (she was among some saints removed in 1969 from the liturgical calendar to make way for new saints of more modern times). The 15-year-old shepherdess from Antioch was martyred around the beginning of the fourth century.

As one of the “14 Holy Helpers,” she was among the most petitioned saints in the Middle Ages. She’s a patron of pregnant women and childbirth. St. Margaret’s was one of the saintly voices who directed St. Joan of Arc in her quest.

But it was “a date which will live in infamy” that ignited the inspiration to build this shrine in the Nutmeg State.

The decision came Dec. 8, 1941, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

That day, during prayers to Our Lady for protection for our country and servicemen, Father Emilio Iasiello decided to build an altar dedicated to the Prince of Peace. As pastor of St. Raphael Church in the city of Bridgeport, he had already purchased a rocky piece of land three miles away, where he planned to build a chapel where parishioners in the city’s north end could attend Mass.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the priest determined this would be hallowed ground dedicated to peace in the world and in memory of parishioners serving and giving their lives in the war. He turned his vision of park-like acres with chapels and wayside shrines swiftly into reality.

Before the end of World War II, the shrine drew thousands of pilgrims to pray amid the beauty for world peace and for local servicemen in the armed forces.

In less than a year, on Sept. 30, 1942, the bishop of the Hartford Diocese dedicated the lovely St. Margaret Chapel that still stands at the heart of the shrine. (The Diocese of Bridgeport was established in 1953 from the Hartford Diocese.) As the shrine grew, so did the generous stone paths and stairways, many extra wide, to reach the different terraces, grottos, Crucifixion scene and other life-size images in several wayside shrines.

Over the years, more shrines were added, with others refurbished, and the stone work and landscape were enhanced.

The process continues, as several new shrines, like ones to Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of La Vang, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Padre Pio, plus others, have been added recently.

Today, St. Margaret Shrine has another distinction. It has been named a diocesan shrine, and when the parish’s main church closed, it became the parish church, too.

As visitors enter along a short drive lined with white lampposts, a larger-than-life marble statue of Christ the King standing on a high stone pedestal welcomes them with open arms.


Next, before the chapel, a large circular pool surrounds a moving scene. On a stone pedestal in the middle, a huge sculpture depicts St. Francis comforting the Crucified Jesus, who has taken one arm down from the cross to place on the saint’s shoulder. The scene is modeled on a Murillo painting that depicts the friar consoling Christ the Savior.

When chapel doors are open, the sound of the fountain creates a soothing backdrop for meditation before the Blessed Sacrament.

The chapel’s simple colonial exterior is unassuming, even though most of the building materials came from a mansion that was razed in Fairfield, the town next door. The Renaissance interior has room for about 300 worshippers. After the turn of the millennium, the prayer space was fully renovated and enhanced.

The side altars, in addition to the main altar, are constructed of faux marble built from the mansion’s period mantelpieces and elaborate woodwork.

The decorative lines of all this richly ornate faux marble blend in tones of spring and summer greens, light brown-grays and white-grays. Golden outlines add highlights to the sanctuary’s beauty.

The triptych painting behind the small main altar centers on the Crucifixion. To each side of Jesus Crucified, scenes show a penitent soul searching for the light and an angel escorting another into heaven. Above the side altars, paintings framed within white mantels draw attention to a Pietà scene on one side and, by the tabernacle, St. Margaret of Antioch receiving the palm of martyrdom.

The paintings are reproductions of the famous originals by Redemptorist Brother Max Schmalzl, a renowned European religious artist who died in 1930. Nearby, there’s also a life-size statue of St. Margaret.

Directly outside the chapel, the altar dedicated to Our Lady, Queen of Peace, with its life-size Pietà, a superb replica of Michelangelo’s famous work, has attracted visitors since 1943. It rests atop a sizable marble altar that continues the classical Renaissance style.

The 1940s-’50s parishioners and relatives who were artisans and craftsmen fashioned and carved many parts of the shrine, such as this altar and the terrazzo terrace. Their skills, and those of others, continue this heritage today.

The “surprise” on the back of this altar dedicated to the Queen of Peace is a niche holding the “Group of the Holy Rosary” statue, which showcases depictions of the Blessed Mother, Infant Jesus, St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena.

So much was accomplished so quickly at St. Margaret’s, often unplanned. The Lourdes Grotto on the sylvan hillside and ledges, dedicated in October 1943, came about unexpectedly. When rocks were blasted, one charge shaped a high ledge into this grotto reminiscent of the one in Lourdes, France. Visitors reach the prayerful place by following one of the broad stone staircases and paths, all completed in European-styled masonry.

From the highest rock formations, natural water from a 200-foot-deep spring cascades gently down the ledges and past the grotto. Towering at the very top of a rock formation, the life-size Crucifixion scene, with Jesus, Mary, John and Mary Magdalene, takes visitors to Golgotha. The climb is gentle because the land slopes kindly on one side and has a choice of stone stairs and pathways wending their way to the top.

Lower down the hillside, the “Garden of Gethsemane” depicts a life-size Jesus praying. This image of our Suffering Lord looks above, where a comforting angel holds a chalice and points heavenward.

Swathed in trees and shrubbery and flowers in season, the hillside and ledges provide a serene place of prayer.

Each shrine along the different paths, levels and terraces showcases Mary and more saints: Our Lady of Grace, Our Lady of Fatima with the three children, Our Lady of Charity and St. Sebastian, among others. A recent shrine with an oversized image of Jesus welcoming children is a memorial to those children who died in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.

There are Stations of the Cross, as well as another grotto open during Christmastide for Il Presepio, an elaborate Nativity display.

The wayside altar of St. Margaret of Antioch is a marble and mosaic shrine with twin cerulean-blue tiled pillars supporting its roof. It has a victorious Lamb of God carved into the altar and a mosaic larger-than-life-sized portrait of St. Margaret. In this mosaic, she is shown hovering above the Italian town where she was venerated by many who emigrated to America and to this parish.

The shrine is also home to a large Padre Pio Society Prayer Group, so there is an enclosed St. Pio of Pietrelcina Memorial Shrine.

Another popular spot of strong devotion is the St. Anthony Candle Shrine. The grounds include an All Saints’ Chapel, too.

Throughout, visitors will find true spiritual and natural beauty.

Joseph Pronechen is a Register staff writer.
Click here to read the original National Catholic Register article.

Seminarians serve in Annual Mission trip

MERIDEN—Saint Francis of Assisi said, “It is not fitting, when one is in God’s service, to have a gloomy face or a chilling look.” The Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist not only lived this instruction of Brother Francis, but helped the Seminarians of the Diocese understand how this can be done. The last week of June, the Seminarians assisted the Sisters and the Brother of the Eucharist during their annual mission trip. During the week, they helped to make their land more beautiful and helped with a Bible camp. The labor was intense and the days were long and hot. Despite this, there was an atmosphere of peace and joy. Bishop Caggiano noticed and reflected with the seminarians on how there could be such a spirit of joy, even though the days were tough. His Excellency remarked that it was the spirit of prayer that made each of the Franciscans incredibly joyful. It was that spirit which spread to each of the seminarians.

The idea of ora et labora, pray and work, did not make the work more enjoyable in itself, but it allowed us to approach the work in new ways. Most of the work was a new experience for all of us; some were baling hay, others were laying stone dust paths, and the rest were working with highly energetic children. The Franciscan Sisters taught, through their witness, the powerful connection between working with creation and showing love to our Creator. What greater joy is there than to show the one you love how much you love him/her? To show our love in romantic relationships or in our relationship with the one who came from Heaven to die for us is not easy. Love is hard work. Love does not always feel good. But love lived out in an ordered and proper way is always joyful. Our prayer cannot be separated from our work and vice versa. Each act of our lives ought to be an act of charity, an act of love. The labor of love that is all that these Franciscans do resonated with all who worked with them. Saint Francis was not wrong when he said that is it ill-fitting to have a gloomy look when in God’s service because that is not the face of love. Rather, the face of love is joy. Or to use another Franciscan saying, the face of love is pax et bonum, peace and goodness.

By Colin Lomnitzer
Colin is a seminarian for the Diocese of Bridgeport from St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull.

Serving with Joy

WINNEBAGO—A few weeks ago, I went with my youth group from Saint Aloysius Parish in New Canaan on a mission trip to Nebraska. For an entire week, we did service work on the Native American Reservation of Winnebago.

Our time with the people of the Omaha and Winnebago tribes was a myriad of amazingly unique experiences. We were able to see how Native Americans have integrated the Catholic faith into their culture and identity. We also performed truly meaningful service: working with children, landscaping, and working with a local church to help clothe and provide resources to the members of the tribes in need. Lastly, we were able to grow in our faith each evening in times of reflection when we looked back on our day of work, explored ideas like how to encounter Christ in the people we met, and considered where faith and works intersected in our day.

Personally, the most difficult yet enlightening challenge was at our first work site. A local church runs a thrift store benefiting the local Native American community. Our job was to unload a huge shipping container of donations, organize the clothes, and reload it so that the thrift store would be ready to open soon.

Of course, I knew we were doing important work, but the challenge for me was that it felt too behind the scenes. I found it difficult to see the impact of the work we were doing because I wouldn’t get to see the thrift shop go up, nor the clothes purchased. I remember thinking to myself: “They said we’re doing God’s will, but it doesn’t really feel like it—I’m just folding clothes. I fold clothes at home.” But two events happened that flipped my entire outlook on the situation, as well as my life back home.

First, the two locals who supervised our work at the thrift store came back in to evaluate our progress when we had finished the job. They were practically in tears as they saw how much work we did for them. It was then that I realized that these weren’t just two of many volunteers, but rather they were the only ones and would’ve had to do the entire project if not for us, and I could see in their beaming smiles how much they appreciated us for it.

For our next assignment we were at a local elementary school spending time with the children. We had ice cream, played games, and brightened their afternoon. The second event happened when the kid I had befriended, Kyle, smiled and hugged me in the most heartwarming way when he heard I’d be coming back the next day. I know I’ll never forget that moment and his child-like joy.

Reflecting on these two events, I came to the conclusion that when you do something for others, as background or menial as it seems, there is no real need to see the full impact. In the right mindset, it’s fulfilling in itself—it’s doing God’s work. With this in mind, a smile or two along the way can make it all worth it.

By Alex DiFiore, rising freshman at Fordham University, parishioner of St. Aloysius

On the Battlefield, Some Heroes Wear Clerical Collars

The late author Thomas Craughwell knew how to weave together exciting stories. His last book, Heroic Catholic Chaplains, released this May, a month before his unexpected death, is filled with them. The subtitle captures them this way: Stories of the Brave and Holy Men Who Dodged Bullets While Saving Souls.

Naturally, Craughwell recounts the heroic deeds of chaplains many of the faithful are familiar with and whose causes for canonization have been opened, like Servants of God Father Emil Kapaun, who died a prisoner of war during the Korean War, and Father Vincent Capodanno, who died in Vietnam.

Even more, the book is chockful of lesser known or forgotten heroic chaplains who risked their lives ministering to Catholics on the battlefield, anointing the dying and rescuing the wounded in the heat of combat, as well as bringing comfort behind enemy lines.

A few of these courageous chaplains the author salutes are Father Francis Sampson, who parachuted into Normandy on D-Day 1944 with the troops, became a POW, survived and went on to become the U.S. chief of chaplains.

There’s the vivid story of Father Elmer Heindl in the Pacific Theater in World War II and some extremely dangerous situations he endured to minister to the dying and wounded and to save injured soldiers, especially during the liberation of Manila.

Among the heart-wrenching stories Craughwell recounts are those of the priests who were among the POWs on the horrendous Bataan Death March in World War II and the accounts of Father Aloysius Schmitt, who was the first Catholic chaplain to die at Pearl Harbor in 1941 aboard the battleship Oklahoma while helping other sailors survive, and of Father Ignacy Matrernowski, the only U.S. chaplain killed on D-Day. And Father Lawrence Lynch, self-proclaimed “God’s gift to the Army,” was a great devotee of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Inspiring stories are plentiful, too, of chaplains who survived while praying, anointing, ministering and bringing the wounded to safety — showing faith under fire valiantly, including Medal of Honor recipient Father Joseph O’Callahan, who served aboard the USS Franklin aircraft carrier.

Surprising facts pop up, one after another. One concerns Father James O’Neill and Gen. George George Patton’s “Weather Prayer.” Patton asked the chaplain to write a prayer for good weather so the Americans could stop the Nazi advance during the Battle of the Bulge.

Craughwell recounts: “On the morning of December 8, 1944, Father O’Neill received a phone call from the general. It had been raining long and hard, and Patton was not happy about it. ‘Do you have a good prayer for weather? We must do something about those rains if we are to win the war.’ Father O’Neill said he couldn’t think of one off the top of his head but would find one. But after consulting a few prayer books, he came up with nothing suitable. Staring out the window at the pouring rain, a word sprang to his mind: ‘immoderate.’ So he sat down at a typewriter and, on a 3 x 5 card, compose a formal weather prayer.”

A pleased Patton ordered 250,000 copies of the prayer — reproduced in this book — to be distributed to every man in the Third Army. The author and Father O’Neill both reveal that, much to the surprise of both the Allies’ weathermen and the Germans, the weather took an unexpected dramatic turn that resulted in clear skies for air support. The tide turned, Patton was able to aid the soldiers trapped at the critical town of Bastogne and go on to win the Battle of the Bulge.

While conflicts from World War II to the present are the most familiar, Craughwell offers a chronological look at chaplains, beginning around the American Revolution and giving details of Civil War Catholic chaplains in both the Union and Confederate Armies. Chaplains played a necessary part in the military even back then. And, as the author highlights, hundreds of nuns worked as nurses during that tragic American conflict.

Surprises along the way fill in fascinating details of military chaplaincy: Who were the first Catholic military chaplains officially accompanying soldiers, and in which war? Which chaplains survived which battles? Who went on to found Boston College? Who died the oldest priest in the U.S. at the time? Which chaplain tended the wounded on the battlefield, gave last rites, was ever-present in hospitals and later went on to rebuild the struggling University of Notre Dame? Which World War I chaplain became nationally known through a movie?

These stories and remembrances are replete with historical details and descriptions of the events of the times, emphasizing the need for chaplains, especially in the earlier years of the Catholic military chaplaincy.

A number of the chaplains, including those from the early years, are pictured in the collection of photos that make the stories come even further to life.

Among the stories are the moving incidents of Father John Ireland, who survived the ordeals of the Civil War and later became an archbishop. In recounting details of this priest, Craughwell writes, “He recalled other men, lapsed Catholics, like the one who was reconciled to God on his deathbed, who came to Father Ireland for confession because he was there, because he made himself available, and because he made certain that every soldier in the camp knew he was a Catholic priest.”

By Joseph Pronechen @

Courage Honors Its Founder, Father John Harvey

On the centenary of the late priest’s birth, those who knew him personally offer reflections about his transformational legacy of helping people who experience same-sex attraction.

PHILADELPHIA—When Father John Harvey presented the full truth of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, Tina Nair never felt like she was being asked to do the impossible.

“He believed it, so I believed I could do it,” said Nair, a member of Courage International, the apostolate the late Father Harvey founded for men and women who experience same-sex attraction.

Nair’s recollection is among many that are being shared this week at Villanova University during the apostolate’s 30th annual conference, which is taking place through Sunday in the city of Father Harvey’s birth and commemorating what would have been his 100th birthday.

The conference, which includes EnCourage, Courage’s outreach to loved ones of those with same-sex attraction, is focusing on Father Harvey’s spirituality and pastoral approach through several talks and the showing of the documentary A Profile in Courage.

An Oblate of St. Francis de Sales and an academic who was trained as a moral theologian, Father Harvey, who died in 2010, never expected to become the founder of a ministry to those with same-sex attraction. But Gerard Bradley, professor of law at the University of Notre Dame, who collaborated with Father Harvey on the book Same-Sex Attraction: A Parents’ Guide (St. Augustine’s Press), said early in the priest’s career he had happened to write an article on homosexuality. Jesuit Father John Ford, a renowned moral theologian, urged him to continue writing on the subject, telling him, “The Church needs it.”

“A few years later,” Bradley said, “another great Jesuit theologian by the name of John Courtney Murray delivered much the same advice to Father Harvey. Later still, Terence Cardinal Cooke of New York asked Father Harvey to found the group we know as Courage.”

Father Paul Check, who succeeded Father Harvey as Courage’s executive director, serving from 2008 to 2016, said the priest’s academic work on homosexuality spawned in him a fatherly concern for men and women with same-sex attraction. Although Father Harvey eventually would have to relinquish full-time teaching to focus on the Courage apostolate, Father Check said he did so willingly to fill what he saw as a void.

“I think that was always one of his great concerns—that men and women who experience same-sex attraction are a kind of underrepresented, underserved population in the Church,” Father Check said. “It’s a tribute to his spiritual fatherhood that he would give up another ministry to do this, but it’s one he was very drawn to because of his pastoral charity.”

True Compassion

Indeed, the priest’s compassion is what was most evident to Nair, who, after becoming involved with Courage in Toronto in 1994, wrote to Father Harvey to ask if she could do more to help the ministry. In 1996, he invited her to come to New York, where she served as the Courage office manager for nearly a decade.

“There’s a lot of well-intentioned, misguided compassion out there … but to me, Father Harvey was an example of how you can really adhere to the truth of what the Church teaches, and that doesn’t compromise compassion. It only makes it larger, bigger.”

Nair said Father Harvey could sympathize with people’s struggles while assuring them that, with God’s grace, they could live faithful, chaste and obedient lives.

Added Bradley: “Even though he was until the end of his life a high-functioning intellectual, he had a profoundly gentle manner and a keen pastoral touch. It is no small thing to add that Father John was one of the most holy persons I have ever known. It took no more than a minute or two in his presence to detect that special serenity that one usually associates with holiness. But it did not take long, either, to detect in [him] the steeliness, or toughness, of mind and of spirit that is the earmark of a true disciple of Jesus.”

On the one hand, Father Check said, Father Harvey possessed a particular knowledge of a difficult problem surrounded by a lot of confusion, rebellion, dissent and sentimentality, along with an understanding of the psychology of those with same-sex attraction. But on the other hand, he had a deep and real sympathy for the human condition. “Father Harvey had that gift because of the exceptional way he had surrendered his heart to the Lord and trusted him. That gave him the grace and insight to understand the human heart and to know how to put people at ease, to give encouragement, clarify when necessary, and be available to them.”

Personal Focus

Father Check said Father Harvey managed to lovingly convey the Church’s teaching on same-sex attraction because he was always careful to distinguish the person from the attraction and the action.

“That distinction, which is unique to Catholic anthropology and the understanding of the human person, helps us to find our way forward and to explain to people that we can affirm them emotionally in their dignity, but not in moral choices or beliefs that are wrong,” he said. “Father Harvey was very good at that. He wasn’t provocative or belligerent. He was strong in what he believed, but he could, in his charity, show someone how emotionally he could confirm the goodness that existed in their uniqueness, but at the same time not affirm misbehavior or wrong belief.”

Nair said when Father Harvey was scheduled to speak in public, he sometimes would be met with protesters and audience questions designed to paint him as mean and hateful. “There would be all the hype leading up to the event, and then this sweet, little, humble, unassuming priest gets up there. He would explain the Church’s teaching and then the pastoral care provided for somebody dealing with same-sex attraction.” Nair said the effect could be disarming.

Yet the very nature of his work and the controversial topic it addressed meant Father Harvey not only endured opposition in public-speaking venues, but isolation from other priests. “Surely, he was a great spiritual father to many people, especially members of Courage and EnCourage,” Father Check said, “but he found himself isolated from his brother priests, including those in his religious community, and that produced a lot of suffering. From what I saw … he bore that with peace, even as he continued to suffer for his fidelity.”

Enduring Ministry

Still, the ministry he started has survived and continues to thrive today, even as many in the secular culture and some in the Church insist that same-sex attractions are normal and should be acted on.

Nair said she believes the ministry has endured because it is based on a very simple spiritual plan with five goals: chastity; prayer and dedication; fellowship; support; and good example. “It’s like Catholicism 101 and could be anyone’s spiritual plan,” Nair noted.

The group’s first seven members developed the plan under Father Harvey’s supervision, and Cardinal Cooke later approved it.

“One more practical factor in [the ministry’s] success,” added Bradley, “is that the chastity which is at the core of Courage’s care for same-sex attracted people is the same chastity which is morally required of all of us, namely, that apart from procreative marital acts, all sexual acts (including those solitary) are wrong.”

Likewise, Bradley said, Courage works because Father Harvey founded it on the understanding that one’s identity is not based on sexual attractions, as defined by cultural labels like “gay,” “lesbian” or even “straight.”

“Courage’s message is an indescribably welcome relief from the message on offer today, namely, that your ‘sexuality’ was fixed at birth, that you are immutably ‘gay,’ and that we all respect you and love you as ‘gay’ and for being ‘gay,’” Bradley said.

“What a joy it must be to be delivered from this enslaving message, this burden of being defined by one’s sexual attractions. Courage helps people to discover instead that, no matter what one’s sexual attractions might be, everyone is in the same boat: We are all disciples of the Lord, called to witness to the truth about — among other things, of course — sex and sexual morality.”

By Judy Roberts @

Being a prophet in one’s own land is never easy

When we find ourselves in the difficult position of being unable to spiritually help those whom we love, it is very easy to become disappointed. At times, such disappointment can even lead to resentment and anger. However, if we remember the spiritual fact that God loves those whom we are unable to help, whether they be our children, grandchildren, siblings or friends, in ways that are both generous and unknown to us, we have a powerful reason to fight against developing such resentment and anger. Rather, we must surrender to God and ask Him every day to do for those whom we love what we cannot do for them ourselves.


Goin’ Fishin’

FAIRFIELD—It’s summertime, and the fishing is easy! At least it was on the beautiful day recently for adults in the day program of St. Catherine Academy.

The adult students enjoyed a morning of recreation at the pond on Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens in Westport, followed by lunch on the grassy bank.

All of the fishermen made a catch, including a largemouth bass and a pumpkin seed sunfish, among others! Mr. Mike even went so far as to get up to his knees in the pond to assist with a 4.5-pound bass. (In case you’re wondering, all fish go back into the pond after the excitement.)  

With permission from Sal and Marie Gilbertie, owners of the gardens and Saint Catherine Center supporters, the group has gone to the pond four times now.

“It’s good for male bonding,” notes Mr. Pat, who came up with the idea for fishing expeditions, “And of course there’s great satisfaction for all of us in making a catch.”



Saint Catherine Academy is a state-approved, private special education school in Fairfield, Connecticut sponsored by the Diocese of Bridgeport. It serves students of all faiths who are impacted with autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities. The programs are intentionally designed to help students transition from former environments to one that encourages greater independence, self confidence and engagement in the mainstream environment.

The Academy educates students ages 5-21 who are emotionally and behaviorally sound and available for learning, but currently unable to thrive in an inclusive setting. The Academy is part of Saint Catherine Center for Special Needs that serves as the centralized resource for people with disabilities in the Diocese.

St. Catherine Academy is located at 760 Tahmore Drive, Fairfield   I   Phone: 203.540.5381  I

Programs include K–Grade 12 and transition (special needs students ages 5-21)


Reimagine RCIA!

WESTON—As we continue to encourage parishes to accept Bishop Caggiano’s Invitation to Lifelong Faith Formation, we are pleased to announce a workshop designed specifically for those who lead the RCIA process.
Many parishes are doing wonderful work with the RCIA program. And yet, oftentimes the neophytes don’t return for mystagogy after their initiation and the team of catechists do not receive the formation they desire. This workshop, to be held Friday night and Saturday, August 17-18, 2018, at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 35 Norfield Road, Weston, CT 06883, will offer the following:
• Step-by-step ways to engage participants in the liturgical celebrations in your parish
• A simple process for preparing the assembly for full, conscious, and active participation
• A firm grasp of the twelve liturgical principles and the four elements every liturgy should have
• A repeatable, easy-to-implement, mystagogical process to catechize directly from the rites
This institute will equip your team with the skills they need to plan, implement, and evaluate powerful RCIA rituals. We will accomplish this by celebrating adapted versions of three of the RCIA rites, followed by mystagogical reflection on the rite and application of practical principles for both liturgical celebration and liturgical catechesis.
Our presenters for this day are Nick Wagner and Diana Macalintal from TeamRCIA. Both Nick and Diana have more than 25 years of experience helping parishes master the fundamentals of the catechumenate process and build teams that form passionate disciples of Jesus Christ.
The cost for parishes in the Diocese of Bridgeport is $200 per parish team (no limit). Teams from other Dioceses are welcome to register for the full rate of $300 per parish team.
To learn more and to sign up, go to

Catechetical Leadership Series Workshop in August

BRIDGEPORT—Loyola Press is partnering with the Diocese of Bridgeport Office of Faith Formation and The Leadership Institute to bring several speakers to the area for all those who share the faith as catechists and youth ministers.

The first day will serve as a kick-off meeting for all youth ministers, directors and coordinators of religious education, and any other ministry leader who wishes to attend. The featured speaker will be John Gonzalez and the topic is Living Joyfully/ Leading Joyfully. This day will also include a Spanish-only presentation.

Days two and three will feature author Tom Quinlan whose topics include the call to be a catechetical leader, tips on engaging catechists and excellence in ministry. These days will be open to those from around the region.

For more information visit and to register, please visit: The deadline for registration is August 15th, so please register soon!

Questions can be directed to Rose Talbot-Babey at or 203.416.1648.

Photographer John Glover, 64

KENT—Former Fairfield County Catholic photographer John Glover, 64, passed away suddenly last Friday in his home in Kent.

A full obituary including funeral arrangements will be released as it becomes available.

Glover joined Fairfield County Catholic in 1998 as staff photographer at the invitation of Dr. Joseph McAleer, Executive Editor.

Please read this tribute by Dr. Joseph McAleer, former editor of Fairfield County Catholic and friend of John Glover:

Remembering John R. Glover (1954-2018)

He was larger than life—literally and figuratively.

John Glover was a gentle giant. He was built like a line backer but had a sweet, sensitive nature. Gregarious to a fault, he would engage perfect strangers on a wide variety of topics. He was a man of broad knowledge and strong opinions, always insisting—stubbornly, maddeningly—that he was right.

Funny thing is, he usually was.

John served as the official photographer of the Diocese of Bridgeport for 12 years. In that capacity, he visited every single parish, Catholic school, Catholic Charities location, and major event, often clad in his signature attire: white dress shirt, blue shorts, and brown moccasins (even in winter). Nuns in particular loved him.

John was not Catholic, but he was our Church’s best ambassador. You could not meet a man more respectful of the Mass. Sensitive to his outsize presence, he took care to be discreet. He was unhappy when people were not paying attention or talking during Mass. John would gently advise a priest to put on his jacket or straighten his collar so as to make the best impression.

Dr. Joseph McAleer & John Glover

A favorite of then-Bishop Egan, John followed him to New York and on to the Vatican when Cardinal Egan received his red hat. Those present in St. Peter’s Square that bright February day will remember looking up at the top of the colonnade with pride and seeing John, in white t-shirt and shorts, pointing his lens at the crowd. He also represented the Diocese on official press trips to Jordan and Israel. Upon retiring from Fairfield County for greener pastures in Kent, John travelled widely across the United States, photographing churches for commemorative diocesan publications, including a landmark book on St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

John did not suffer fools gladly. Woe the person who was discourteous or overreaching. He would fearlessly argue with T.S.A. agents at the airport, or demand an explanation why the I.R.S. was asking so many questions. He approached a state trooper in line at the Post Office, wanting to know why she was carrying a firearm; she nearly took him out.

Well-intentioned but intense, John demanded a respect that most of us have given up expecting. He was unique, and how blessed we are for having basked in his very bright light.

3rd Annual Summer Splash

Calling All Catholic Young Adults (CYAs)!

Join us for the 3rd Annual “Summer Splash” on Sunday, August 5, 2-5pm

Hosted by the Catholic Young Adults of Greater Danbury (CYAGB), we’ll gather at St. Francis of Assisi parish in Weston, CT, for Mass celebrated by Fr. John Connaughton of St. Thomas More parish, Darien, followed by a party with music, games, and fun food. A suggested $10 donation per person helps bring Catholic young adults together for fellowship and laughs.


St. Vincent’s College Joins Sacred Heart University

FAIRFIELD—Sacred Heart University has assumed operations of St. Vincent’s College, effective July 2, merging the valuable resources of two of the region’s longstanding, venerable learning institutions. “Sacred Heart University and St. Vincent’s College are two institutions with a strong Catholic identity and similar missions and core values, and we are confident that joining together will benefit the students in both programs,” said SHU President John J. Petillo.

In the coming year, offerings at the new entity—St. Vincent’s College at Sacred Heart University—will include an Associates of Science degree (A.S.) in nursing, an A.S. in radiography and a variety of certificate programs. Going forward, program offerings will expand to include other areas of strong employability. This includes expanding on St. Vincent’s distance education programs and continuing and professional education, which strengthens the academic options for students in both programs and allows both programs to prosper.

In addition, the venture will expand the opportunity for SHU and SVC students and faculty to develop and participate in interdisciplinary education that connects team-based education, self-directed learning and face-to-face instruction. It will provide a pathway for St. Vincent’s students to pursue a baccalaureate or master’s degree at Sacred Heart University in a seamless transition, while providing Sacred Heart students expanded access to inpatient clinical sites that are essential to the success of their program.

“SVC at SHU will maintain a strong relationship with St. Vincent’s Medical Center,” Petillo noted.

The educational pathway for nursing has experienced quite a bit of change in past years. Initially, nursing was based on experience and tradition. Now, with the evolution of nursing science, nursing education is deeply rooted in evidence-based practices and research. Combining the strengths of Sacred Heart and St. Vincent’s will provide the best of experience, traditions and science of nursing education.

“Our goal is to serve the students at Sacred Heart University and St. Vincent’s College with an opportunity to work together to create new models for clinical education and honor the shared Catholic legacy, mission and core values,” said Rupendra Paliwal, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at SHU. “This is an exciting opportunity for all involved and is an example of the pioneering, forward-thinking spirit that marks everything we do at Sacred Heart.”

SHU pays it forward at Ghana Nursing College

FAIRFIELD—Fourteen nurses in Ghana are earning their master’s degrees and will be able to educate student nurses and improve patient outcomes, thanks to an innovative, tuition-free partnership with Sacred Heart University.

The partnership between SHU’s College of Nursing and Ghana’s Holy Family Nursing & Midwifery Training College boosts faculty expertise and nurses’ training in the rural Sunyani region and helps SHU live out its mission to embrace social justice and make a difference in the global community.

“We’ve been helped along the way and we’ve grown, so now we’re helping another university grow,” said Sherylyn Watson, the College of Nursing’s associate dean of Academic Affairs.

The partnership began in April 2015 with a shared vision to offer a quality bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree program to future Ghanaian nurses and, in turn, improve health care in the region around Berekum, where the training college is located.

SHU faculty visited the 400-student college and determined the existing nursing program was the equivalent of an associate’s degree program by U.S. standards. The team decided faculty development would be the first step in boosting the program to the bachelor’s degree level. The initial interaction included site visits during which College of Nursing faculty provided workshops on creative teaching strategies and integrating research content into the curriculum.

In 2016, one faculty member from Holy Family enrolled in SHU’s 39-credit, master’s-level Nurse Educator online program, with tuition funded through SHU with the strong support of President John Petillo.

“He believes this is truly in keeping with the mission of the University,” said College of Nursing Dean Mary Alice Donius. “The primary focus of this initiative is education of the faculty that we believe is the foundation for really leaving a significant legacy.”

Noting the success of the first student, SHU welcomed a cohort of 14 Ghanaian nurses in March 2018. They are expected to complete their degrees online by April 2020, Watson said.

The second step is to provide the master of science degree in nursing education offered by the College of Nursing to 14 Holy Family faculty.

Once the faculty members earn their degrees, they will be able to teach BSN-level courses, increasing the skills and knowledge their fellow nurses take back to their villages and towns.

Nursing is a highly respected career choice in Ghana. The current cohort includes nine men and five women, Donius said.

“Nurses are very well respected there,” said Watson, who led the team establishing the partnership. “It’s a good, stable profession.”

The two colleges partnered through Mother Mary’s Mission, a nonprofit foundation working to improve conditions in Ghana. The program has been so successful, Bishop Matthew Gyamfi, who presides over more than 450 parishes in the Sunyani region, stopped at SHU to say thank you on a recent trip to the U.S.

In the future, Donius and Watson hope to create clinical study abroad opportunities for SHU nursing students at Holy Family, increasing the partnership’s reach for all nursing students.

“We feel professionally obligated to do things like this,” Watson said. “That’s our goal—to support nursing education globally.”

PHOTO CAPTION:Bishop Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi of the Diocese of Sunyani, Ghana, met with Sacred Heart University College of Nursing (CON) faculty and President John J. Petillo during a recent visit to campus. From left are Rev. Francis Mfodwo who accompanied the Bishop, CON Dean Mary Alice Donius, SHU President John J. Petillo, Most Rev. Matthew K. Gyamfi, CON Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Sherylyn Watson, CON Associate Dean of Online Programs Karen Bauce, Rev. Joseph Domfeh Boateng of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Bedford, N.Y., and CON Associate Professor of Nursing Susan Goncalves. Photo by Tracy Deer-Mirek

Knights “Book It” for St. Thomas Aquinas School Library

FAIRFIELD—When the St. Thomas Aquinas School library needed an update, some people suggested to Librarian Adrienne Wilson that she appeal to the Knights of Columbus for help.

The Knights of Columbus, Father Coleman Council #2616, came to the rescue in big way recently by making a $10,000 donation to support an overall upgrade of the elementary school library.

“They were quick to see our need and give us the funding that we desired to bring our collection up to date,” says Wilson who is grateful for their generosity.

She said funds will be directed to a much needed update of the library including its computer systems and reference collections, as well as non-fiction collections in space and technology.

“Thank you, Knights of Columbus for believing in Catholic Education and for your generosity of spirit in supporting it,” said school librarian Adrienne Wilson..

When Wilson took over as librarian last year, she saw an immediate need to update and improve resources.

“There is no better thank you we can give than letting other people know that their local Knights are an amazing resource supporting Catholic Education,” says Wilson.

“Thank you to the Knights of Columbus for believing in Catholic Education and their generosity of spirit in supporting it,” she adds.

St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School is a fully accredited elementary/middle school with approximately 400 students in Pre-K – 8th grade, with two classrooms per grade. The school provides an environment rich in academic, spiritual and emotional learning.

St. Thomas Aquinas School is located at 1719 Post Road, Fairfield, CT 06824. For enrollment information Phone: 203.255.0556. Fax: 203.255.0596. Online:

PHOTO (featured left to right) Grand Knight Joseph Sargent, Treasurer Robert Madar, School Librarian Adrienne Wilson and Principal Stephen Anderson, with a generous donation amount of $10,000!

St. Mary’s Students are “Guardian Angels”

BETHEL—St Mary’s Bethel students Francesca Friscia and Tyler Burns were recently presented Catholic Charities “Guardian Angel” awards for their work on behalf of the hungry and homeless in the Danbury area.

The hard working duo raised funds for the “Take a Walk in Their Shoes” Walkathon for the past 4 years.

Michele Conderino, Director of Homeless Services for Catholic Charities of Northern Fairfield County, made the presentation during an assembly at the school.

The students also received praise of Principal Greg Viceroy and Assistant Principal Kate McDonald.

Mr. Viceroy said both in the classroom and through community activities St. Mary’s works “ to nurture and form each child spiritually, academically and socially in the likeness of Jesus. With Christ as our model, we seek to inspire our students to realize their full potential as Christian leaders in an ever-changing world.”

Francesca Friscia, Assistant Principal Kate McDonald, Tyler Burns

Conderino told the students that the average homeless person walks 3-5 miles a day and she thanked the students for “ walking in their shoes.”

This year’s Breakfast Program walkathon was held on June 2, at Meckauer Park located at 16 Shelter Rock Road in Bethel.

The Catholic Charities Morning Glory Breakfast Program serves a hot and healthy meal to the hungry and homeless of the Danbury area. It has served over 300,000 meals since opening in October of 2007.

Operating out of 15 Spring Street in Danbury and located near the city’s homeless shelters, the program serves a hot breakfast and provides a safe and warm environment to the neediest in the area, Conderino said.

For information on Morning Glory contact Michele Conderino, MSW, Director of Homeless Services
203.733.3185. Online:
Follow Morning Glory s on facebook @CCFCNorth

For enrollment information on St. Mary School, 24 Dodgintown Road, Bethel, call: 203.744.2922

Featured Photo: (Left to Right) Francesca Friscia, Rose Schlemmer, Teacher; Kate McDonald, Assistant Principal, Michele Conderino, Tyler Burns, and Greg Viceroy, Principal.

Bishop Frank’s Miracle Story

As we continue to reflect upon the gift of miracles, I have my own miracle story to share.

When I was a seminarian living my pastoral year at Saint Sylvester’s Church in City Line, Brooklyn, one day in late October I had accepted an invitation attend a friend’s musical recital held at Queens College. So at mid-morning I set out for the college by car. At that time in my life, as a young (and stubborn) man, I almost never wore my seat belt. As I left the parish, this day was no exception.


$5.5 Million gift to Foundations in Education

A lifetime ago, when Tom McInerney was a sophomore at St. Augustine High School in Brooklyn, his world history teacher, Mr. Hitti, took him aside for the kind of talk teenagers would rather avoid.

Mr. Hitti didn’t mince his words. He told Tom that he was “way underperforming” and had to do something about it … fast.

“He really made an impression on me,” Tom recalled, “And I often think back to that conversation, which I still remember after 60 years.”

It was one event that changed the course of a teenage boy’s life. One event he remembered through his senior executive positions in the business world. And one event among others that inspired him to become a lifelong supporter of Catholic education.

Tom and his wife Paula recently gave a $5.5 million gift to Foundations in Education, which Bishop Frank J. Caggiano says will “transform the paradigm of Catholic education in the Diocese of Bridgeport.”

The gift will finance a Personalized Learning Initiative (see article on page 27) that will be launched this fall with pilot programs at six schools, and eventually rolled out at all Catholic elementary schools over the next three years.

“These programs will serve as the foundational cornerstone for the transformation of our schools and support our mission as we seek to form hearts in faith, inform minds in truth and transform the lives of young people so that they will live as missionary disciples of our Lord,” Bishop Caggiano said.

Dr. Steven Cheeseman, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, said, “This is an historic moment for the Catholic schools of the diocese. We are reimagining what the Catholic school classroom can look like and we are excited about what the future holds for our schools and our students.”

Tom McInerney, who is chair of Foundations in Education and CEO and co-founder of Bluff Point Associates, a private equity firm based in Westport, recently attended the introductory session for the initiative.

“It’s relatively easy to write out a check,” he said. “What they’re doing is the hard work. They’re going to have to learn new things. Some will be frightened, others will be energized by it, but they have to do the heavy lifting because they’re the people in the front lines when it comes to providing good Catholic education—the principals and teachers who are in the classroom every day. I cannot exaggerate the importance of what they do. What I do is helpful, but it is only giving them ammunition to fight the wars.”

The Personalized Learning Initiative will provide an updated technology infrastructure, new hardware and student devices and programs to support the traditional Catholic school educational experience, Cheeseman said. The technology will not only improve academic performance among students but also increase their self-confidence and give them lifetime learning skills.

Tom McInerney, who is a product of lifelong Catholic education, attended Holy Cross Elementary School and St. Augustine’s High School in Brooklyn, followed by Cathedral College, a junior seminary, and later St. John’s University, where he received a degree in English literature and served on the board of trustees for 13 years, five as chairman. He also attended New York University Stern School of Business and received an honorary doctorate of commercial science from St. John’s.

“I am absolutely convinced that the years I spent in elementary school and high school and, to a slightly less extent college because I was going at night, were very formative,” he said. “You learned about right and wrong and about your religion and the tenets of the Catholic faith. As part of that process, you also learned about integrity and morality, and the importance of dealing with people on a fair basis.”

They were lessons that stayed with him throughout his life, he said, and values that he brought with him into his professional life and the business world.

Occasionally, he would tease some of his junior colleagues at a firm where he worked. “I used to tell them that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it. There are rights and wrongs, and you have to be conscious of what they are.”

Paula shares his commitment to Catholic education. Before moving to Connecticut, they made a $3 million pledge to convert 29 Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of New York from a traditional educational model to blended learning by providing computers, iPads and software so that teachers could monitor student progress and review it at the end of the day.

As Tom says, “This is not your grandfather’s classroom anymore. Students get to pursue the subject matter at their own pace. It is a much more decentralized, individual approach to education. I’ve seen it in action and I’ve spoken to teachers, students and parents. Everyone is glowing in their praise of this new approach. I’m a convert.”

When they lived in Manhattan, they were also patrons of Catholic schools through the Inner City Scholarship Fund. Paula had two schools and Tom had two, including St. James on the Lower East Side, which claimed Catholic presidential candidate Al Smith as a graduate, and St. Gregory the Great on the Upper West Side.

Prior to Bluff Point, Tom was a general partner of Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe for 24 years, was president and CEO of Momentum Technologies, and a group vice president of Automatic Data Processing’s (ADP) Brokerage Services Division and a group Vice President of ADP’s Financial Industries Services. He also co-founded and served as CEO of Dama Telecommunications Corp. He began his career at the American Stock Exchange. He and Paula have five children and 13 grandchildren.

“From the point of faith and religious beliefs, going to a Catholic school molds a kid with the right kind of thinking about his or her role in life and how to behave and to do the right thing,” he said. “But there’s another element—if you give a good kid a good education, you end up vastly improving that person’s chances to have a good life. With Catholic education, the most important thing is the development of morality, ethics and faith. But it also has the material benefit of creating an environment where a student can break the cycle of poverty.”

The six pilot schools where the Personalized Learning Initiative will be unveiled are Assumption School in Fairfield, St. Gregory the Great in Danbury, Holy Trinity Catholic Academy in Shelton, the Upper School at the Catholic Academy in Stamford, Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton and the new multi-age school, St. Joseph Catholic Academy in Brookfield.

“To survive and prosper, we have to provide an education at least as good as and ideally better than the public schools,” he says. “It has to be an excellent education. And I think individual learning is a clear improvement on educational methodology.”

(Foundations in Education is a non-profit initiative created to assist the Diocese of Bridgeport’s ongoing mission to support Catholic education in Fairfield County. For more information, contact Executive Director Holly Doherty-Lemoine: or visit

EWTN to air Fr. Capodanno documentary for 4th of July

|   CNA/EWTN News
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IRONDALE, Alanta—EWTN Global Catholic Network will observe America’s Independence Day with airings of Called and Chosen: Father Vincent R. Capodanno.

The 90-minute documentary about the life and death of Fr. Capodanno will air on EWTN July 4 at 10 am and 4 pm Eastern time. Produced by Jim Kelty, the film won a Gabriel Award at the Catholic Media Conference in June.

Servant of God Vincent Capodanno was a decorated Navy chaplain who was killed while seeking to provide the sacraments to ambushed Marines in the Vietnam War. His cause for canonization is being pursued by the Archdiocese for Military Services.

Father Capodanno was a Maryknoll priest from the New York City borough of Staten Island. He was nicknamed the “Grunt Padre” for his service to members of the infantry.

While with Maryknoll, Fr. Capodanno served in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and then requested to be reassigned as a chaplain with the U.S. Marine Corps. He was sent to Vietnam in 1966, and requested an extension to his tour of duty when it was up.

The chaplain was killed at the age of 38 on September 4, 1967 in Vietnam’s Que Son Valley after his unit was ambushed by North Vietnamese forces. Despite suffering injuries from mortar fire, including a partly severed hand, he continued to give last rites to the dying and medical aid to the wounded.

In disregard of intense small arms fire, automatic weapons fire, and mortars, Fr. Capodanno rushed about 15 yards to reach a wounded corpsman in the direct line of fire of a North Vietnamese machine gunner. He was killed just before he reached the wounded man.

He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor January 7, 1969.

“By his heroic conduct on the battlefield, and his inspiring example, Lt. Capodanno upheld the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the cause of freedom,” said the priest’s Medal of Honor citation.

Some Catholics devoted to Fr. Capodanno have reported favors granted following intercessory prayers to the chaplain. In 2006 the Congregation for the Causes of Saints declared Fr. Capodanno a Servant of God.

Published by the Catholic News Agency

Morning Glory adds a Marketplace

DANBURY—In addition to providing a hot and healthy meal to the hungry and homeless in the Danbury area on a daily basis, the Morning Glory Breakfast Program of Catholic Charities also operates a Marketplace.

“The Morning Glory Marketplace is a unique non-food pantry program that provides items such as cleaning products, paper goods and hygiene products. These items are not covered by food stamps and can be expensive for a family to purchase,” said Michele Conderino, Director of the Morning Glory program.

This service is provided to participants of Catholic Charities and other programs in Danbury.

“What started as a mobile program grew so big that it is now permanently stationed out of the New Heights program, located at 64 West Street in Danbury,” she said.

Starting this month, the Marketplace will operate the first, second and third Friday of the month from 11 am-1 pm. Items that are available for distribution are made possible through donations from local corporations, businesses, groups and individuals.

(To learn more about how you can help, contact Michele Conderino:

Pope: Fear Sin, Not Death

|   By Hannah Brockhaus | Catholic News Service
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VATICAN CITY—Catholics have no reason to fear death, because Christ the Lord has power over death; instead, they should fear sin, which hardens and kills the soul, Pope Francis said Sunday.

“Jesus is the Lord, and before Him physical death is like sleep: there is no reason to despair. A different [thing] is the death to be afraid of: that of the heart hardened by evil! Of that yes, we must be afraid!” the pope said July 1. “It is the death of the heart.”

“But even sin, even the mummified heart, is never the last word for Jesus, because He has brought us the infinite mercy of the Father.”

Francis explained that “even if we fell down, [Jesus’] soft and strong voice reaches us: ‘I tell you: get up’ It is beautiful to hear those words of Jesus addressed to each one of us: ‘I tell you: stand up! Go. Stand up, be brave, get up!’”

During his Angelus address, the pope reflected on how the words Jesus speaks in the day’s Gospel from Mark speak also to people today. In the passage, Jesus performs two miraculous healings: the hemorrhaging woman and the young daughter of a synagogue official.

In both cases, there is a singe center: faith, he said. “And they show Jesus as the source of life, as the one who gives back life to those who trust him fully.”

When Jesus and the disciples, as they walk to the house of Jairus, receive the message that the girl has already died, “we can imagine the dad’s reaction,” he said. “But Jesus tells him: ‘Do not be afraid, only have faith!’”

Everyone should strive to have this faith, Pope Francis said, and no one should ever feel they do not have a right to reach out to Jesus, just like the hemorrhaging woman.

To have access “to the heart of Jesus, there is only one requirement: to feel in need of healing and to entrust one’s self to Him,” he said.

Speaking off-the-cuff, the pope asked: “does each one of you feel in need of healing? [To be healed] of something, some sin, some problem?”

“And, if you hear this, do you have faith in Jesus? These are the two requisites to be healed, to have access to his heart: to feel in need of healing and to rely on Him.”

After praying the Angelus, Pope Francis spoke about several countries experiencing violence and conflict. He said he renewed his prayers for the people of Nicaragua, praising the the Nicaraguan bishops and people working to bring about mediation and national dialogue.

He also noted the situation in Syria, which he said, “remains serious,” especially in the province of Daraa, where recent military action has resulted in damage to schools and hospitals and created thousands of new refugees.

“I renew, together with prayer, my appeal that the population, already hard-tried for years, will be spared further suffering,” he said. The pope also guaranteed his prayers for the young people who have been missing in an underground cave in Thailand for over a week.

Francis added that “in the midst of so many conflicts,” it is also right to point out good news, noting that “after 20 years, the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea have come back to talk about peace together.”

“May this meeting light a light of hope for these two countries of the Horn of Africa and for the entire African continent,” he said.

He concluded by mentioning his upcoming visit to the Italian town of Bari, where, with leaders of Christian Churches and communities in the Middle East, he will have a day of prayer and reflection on the situation in that region.

There “so many of our brothers and sisters in the faith continue to suffer, and we will implore [with] one voice: ‘Peace be upon you’ (Ps. 122:8),” he said. “I ask everyone to accompany this pilgrimage of peace and unity with prayer.”

Click here to read the original CNA story.

National: Bishops Begin Border Trip With Mass

|   By Rhina Guidos | Catholic News Service
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MCALLEN, Texas—The bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States have for weeks expressed outrage and condemned the government’s recent practice of separating children from a parent or a family member if they’re caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without legal documentation.

On July 1, led by the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, a delegation of prelates from around the country physically stepped into the ground zero of the immigration debate when they arrived in the Brownsville-McAllen area near the southern border to meet with those affected by the policy.

“This is a sign that the bishops of the United States are concerned about the situation and the circumstances affecting people, not just those who live in Brownsville but all along the border,” said the local bishop, Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville during a July 1 interview with Catholic News Service. “This is a moment to completely understand the reality of the situation, to meet, speak with people who are living this reality. It’s a message for the church.”

Bishop Flores welcomed the delegation led by the president of the USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, during a morning Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen.

Auxiliary Bishop Robert J. Brennan of Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, and Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, Pennsylvania, also were present during the Mass. Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, who is vice president of the USCCB, is expected to join the delegation.

Referring to the Sunday Gospel readings from the Book of Mark, in which Jesus heals the daughter of the Biblical Jairus, Bishop Flores, who delivered the homily, said that what the bishops were doing near the border was similar. Jesus was attentive to the woman who touched him and wanted to be healed. Jesus was capable of stopping for a moment and listening to her and tending to her so he could heal her. The story provides the people of God an example of what God wants, he said.

“He is an example for us because of his capacity to tend to this person in his presence and allowing that woman to change his path,” Bishop Flores said. “What kind of people does the Lord want? He wants a people capable of looking at the reality in front of them and adapting to that reality. He didn’t say, ‘I don’t have time for you today.’ He didn’t say, ‘You’re not in the plan, you’re not in the calendar.'”

To be compassionate, one has to have his or her eyes open just as Jesus shows us in the Gospel, he said, and the bishops were visiting the border to listen and to see the reality in that area in a similar manner.

“The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,” he said, switching between English and Spanish. “That’s what the Lord taught us: to listen and then respond to the plan, the Christian plan, and to give hope to the poorest and neediest, to tell them that the Christian people have not forgotten them.”

Christ’s example, he said, was to respect the dignity of each person, “each one, and to hear their cry to tend to them. That is the purpose of the church.”

“We as a church have to hear where the reality is, we have to be the ones to say, ‘There’s a human face and that human face always points us to Christ.’ If we don’t say it, who will?” Bishop Flores asked.

He said he was glad the bishops would be able to witness the generosity of the people of the Rio Grande Valley, who with few resources always respond generously to those who have needed them over the years.

“Let’s ask the Lord to allow us to see with open eyes to respond with compassionate hearts,” he said. “We can be a country of laws without being a nation that lacks compassion.”

The start of the two-day visit began a day after mass protests around the U.S. demanded a stop to the separation of families. The prelates’ visit will be focused on family separation and they plan to visit a center for migrants run by Catholic Charities and also to meet with authorities near the border.

Click here to read the original CNA story.

Our Lady of Fatima School 2018 Commencement Exercises

WILTON—Our Lady of Fatima School-Wilton held its commencement exercises on Friday evening, June 15th for its graduating Eighth Grade Class. The event included a Mass offered by Our Lady of Fatima Pastor, Reverend Reginald Norman, followed by a reception. Featured commencement speakers were Fatima “graduating” parent, Dr. George Zahrah and School Principal, Stanley Steele. During the commencement, Annual scholarships & awards were presented as follows: Eugene Rooney Award: Ellen Siobhan Feeney; Home School Association Awards: Anna Maria Zahrah and Griffin James McMahon; and Performing Arts Awards: Clare Olivia Beggan and Elizabeth Ashley Beggan. In addition, a new award was offered this year by Fatima parishioners Phillip Lauria and Elaine Tai-Lauria in honor of their beloved son Phillip who lost his battle with cancer in May. Phillip was a 2001 Fatima graduate. The Phillip Lauria Jr. Memorial Award was presented to Ryan J. Carroll.

Members of the Class of 2018 represent the towns of Fairfield, Norwalk, Wilton, Westport and Weston. Eighth Grade graduates include: Madison Suzanne Bartek, Clare Olivia Beggan, Elizabeth Ashley Beggan, Anthony Peter Bonaddio, Jenna Brooke Bonafide, Christina Renée Carford, Ryan J. Carroll, Demetra Maria Christakos, Rebecca Elizabeth Crocitto, Anais Lu DeJesus, Ellen Siobhan Feeney, Alexandra Fordsman, Katherine Emma Hanavan, Emma Londoner, Griffin James McMahon, Charles Paul Meyer, Ashley Sophia Moayedi, Elizabeth Ashley Scott, Victoria Caitlin Vizza, Olivia Wendorff and Anna Maria Zahrah.

The graduates will attend the following high schools in the fall: Academy of Our Lady of Mercy-Lauralton Hall, Bishop England High School ( Charleston, SC), Fairfield College Preparatory School, Immaculate High School, Norwalk High School, Saint Joseph High School, Staples High School- Westport, Wilton High School, Weston High School.

Our Lady of Fatima School is a Roman Catholic co-educational school offering Pre-Kindergarten 3 through Grade 8. Recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School, Our Lady of Fatima has a rich history of Catholic education and academic excellence spanning over 56 years. The school has been selected as one of six Diocesan schools to participate in the Personalized Learning Initiative launching in fall 2018. The blended learning experience of the traditional classroom with updated technology infrastructure, new hardware and student devices, and programming will provide each child with a personalized approach to learning. For admissions information for fall 2018, please contact 203.762.8100 or visit Our Lady of Fatima School is located at 225 Danbury Road, Wilton, CT.

Photo caption: Pictured with graduates include (left, front row ) 8th Grade Homeroom and Middle School Math Specialist Geri Galasso; (right, middle row) Reverend Reginald Norman, Our Lady of Fatima Church Pastor ( left, back row) Stanley Steele, Principal.

Convert series — From many gods to the One True God

|   By Joe Pisani
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SHELTON—When Mina Lawrence was growing up in Hong Kong, her parents taught her the importance of reading sacred scripture, of fasting and of praying … to the gods.
She came from a religious family that regularly went to the Hindu temple, where they read the Vedas, burned incense and supplicated different gods and goddesses, depending upon their needs—good health, prosperity, and protection.
Looking back, Mina realizes that throughout her early life she was being pursued by the One True God. She heard, she listened, but she hesitated, partly out of concern for her family and what they would think of their daughter leaving the religion they loved for Christianity, which among Asians is considered a Western religion for white people.
Mina, who is a controller at a medical imaging company in Shelton, her husband John and son Jared are members of St. Joseph Church in Shelton. Hers is a story of God’s persistent love … and pursuit.
Growing up, she lived with her parents and grandparents, who were devout Hindus, and throughout their home were pictures of different gods … to whom they would pray and burn incense.
“My first awareness of God as a higher power was watching my grandparents pray to the deities,” she recalled. “It made me realize there is something higher up there and when you wanted something, you could go to them.”
“When I was 5, my grandmother asked me to pray for a baby brother,” she recalled. “I used to be afraid of these gods and goddesses because some of them had many heads and arms, and I would be terrified looking at them.” When her mother had a baby boy, she believed her prayers had been answered.
Her grandparents had emigrated to Hong Kong from India in the early 1930s, where her mother, the second of four daughters, was born. They encouraged Mina, her older sister and younger brother to pray often. If they wanted to know the future, they would go to the priest in the temple who would read their horoscopes and use astronomy and math to predict events. Her first contact with Christianity came when it was time to enter secondary school because, she said, the best education was offered by Catholic schools.
“In elementary school, we all went to public schools, but my older sister wanted to go to one of the best in the city. She started telling my parents about it and she got into the Maryknoll Sisters School in tenth grade.”
Mina later entered the lottery and prayed she, too, would be admitted. Her prayers were answered and she entered seventh grade in an all-girls Maryknoll school, where she was required to take religious education and attend Mass although she did not receive Communion.
“The environment was very Catholic and there was a lovely chapel and a beautiful statue of Mother Mary in the foyer, and one of the nuns would lead Catholic girls in the rosary.”
It was there that she came to understand the difference between Christianity and Hinduism. It was there, too, that she learned to pray the Our Father and Hail Mary.
“I loved religious education class,” she said. “God seemed so human and personal to me, not a deity with so many heads and arms. But I don’t think I got the whole message even though I was drawn to it. I still went to the temple with my family, but I knew deep inside my heart that I wanted to convert, but I didn’t have the courage to tell my parents.”
In her heart, she wanted to receive Communion and pray the rosary but knew she couldn’t unless she converted.
When her grandfather, who was a religious and giving man, passed away in his early 70s, Mina confronted questions about God and the purpose of life for the first time. She was 15.
“I started to think about life and death and faith,” she said. “I put aside my thoughts of converting and decided to learn more about Hinduism, and I began reading different books, including the Hindu sacred scriptures—the Vedas.” She learned about karma, reincarnation and the epic stories of Hinduism.
In her pursuit of knowledge, she came upon the teaching that every god, every deity, leads you to the One God. This thought settled her … for a time. She also became more committed to the rituals of Hinduism, prayer, horoscopes and fasting. Nevertheless, she always prayed the Our Father at bedtime because she “felt her prayers were going somewhere and there was a sense of intimacy and assurance.”
“Every time I passed by a church, I would hear this little voice deep inside of me that would say, ‘You need to go in there and pray,’” she recalled. “But I would ignore that voice. I never went in. I was too wrapped up in my life at the time.”
Her mother, who had rheumatic heart disease from a young age, needed surgery to replace a valve, but she resisted because a Hindu priest had once told her that should would die.
But her fears went deeper. She believed bad karma in her previous life caused her health problems, and she was worried that after death she would have to suffer again in the next life.
Inspired by what she had been taught about Christ’s infinite love and mercy, Mina told her mother that she shouldn’t be tormented by the fear of punishment after death.
“I told her, ‘God won’t make you suffer. Why would God do that? He is loving,’” she said.
Unfortunately, her mother died in 1992 of heart failure before she was able to have the surgery.
“At that time, I got more into Hinduism than ever before,” Mina says. “After she passed away, I continued to pray and burn incense. Even though I was being called, the time wasn’t right although I knew in my heart I had to become a Christian one day.”
About this time, her cousin Rita returned from Ireland, where she had been studying, and announced she had converted to Christianity. She told Mina, her sister Joyce and their cousin Geeta that Jesus is the One True God. During the discussion between the Christian convert and three Hindu women, they said the Hindu god Krishna is as true as Jesus.
“Deep inside me questions started to arise about the One True God,” Mina said. “Whenever I prayed, I always asked God to reveal himself to me because I wanted to know the One True God. Today I know that God answered me because as He says in the Bible, ‘If you seek me, you will find me.’”
Then, something happened that would change her life completely.
She met a young man named John Lawrence who worked in information technology and was moving to the United States … and he was Catholic.
“We both discovered we had similar values, but I didn’t think it was going to work out,” Mina said. “He asked if we got married and had kids what would their faith be, and I told him Catholic. Shortly afterward, he proposed to me.”
They were married in 1993 and moved to the United States.
As Mina says, “It was a new life for me in a new country away from home.” The first place they lived was a suburb of Detroit, and her religious life took a new direction. John had a picture of Christ in the living room and a crucifix in the bedroom.
“I told my husband I wanted to go to church with him every week, and I loved it,” she said. “I wouldn’t take Communion because I wasn’t baptized. Then, one day a priest from India gave the homily, and I thought that there must have been something very powerful for him to become a Catholic priest. He talked about mercy of God, and it moved me. I connected all the dots about my mother and what Christ did for us on the cross.”
She entered the RCIA program and in 1995 was baptized a Roman Catholic at St. Patrick Church in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota. In 1999, they moved to Connecticut and started worshiping at St. Lawrence Church and eventually moved to St. Joseph’s, where she joined a charismatic prayer group and became a lector.
“When I told my father, he said it was good that we both went to church on Sunday to worship, and when he visited America, he came with us,” she said. “Sometimes I think, ‘Who am I that Christ should call me like he did.’ I am so fortunate.”
Today, she strongly believes we are called to evangelize and share the Christian message with our family and friends.
“It is very important to continue the work of Christ on Earth, and I want to share the Good News with my family members and friends and pray that He will show them the way.”
She also points out that the four young women who 25 years ago were discussing the search for the One True God are all Christians today. God was leading them to himself all along.
(The following profile is part of a series on converts to the Catholic faith, which explores the spiritual path that has led people to the Church and the profound changes that have occurred in their lives.)

Family Fellowship Campfire at St. Joseph, Brookfield

BROOKFIELD – Family Fellowship Campfires will be held weekly after the 5pm Saturday Mass at St. Joseph Church, Brookfield.

We’ll have a campfire and a light dinner and s’mores will be provided. Families should bring chairs, blankets, bug spray and any additional snacks and beverages they may like.

Campfires will be located at the rear of the parking lot near the rectory.

This is a wonderful opportunity for parish families to socialize and build new friendships with fellow Catholics.

For more information, please visit the Diocesan Calendar!

Recognizing God’s Power through Miracles

It is interesting to note that in almost every miracle story in the Gospels, the evangelists never say that everyone who witnessed the miracle believed in Jesus.  Rather, we read that many came to believe in Him. The difference between “everyone” and “many” offers a significant spiritual challenge for us to reflect upon in our own age.

We must remember that every miracle performed by Jesus was a sign of the Kingdom of God that was inaugurated in His life, death and resurrection. They were acts of divine healing, or the restoration of right order or a sign of Jesus’ power over death that point to the restoration of God’s rule over all creation. They were not magic but acts of divine power that required its witnesses to acknowledge the true identity of Jesus who performed them. If there was no openness to see Jesus’ true identity, or if the person who witnessed His miracles was hard of heart, stubborn, or cynical, such a person could easily have walked away claiming that the miracle was a magic act or a hoax.

If beauty is seen in the eyes of the beholder, so too miracles can only be “seen” by those who recognize the inbreaking of God’s power in our world.

How often do we miss the power of God in our lives because of our stubbornness, anger or cynicism? How many times does a miracle occur and we automatically ascribe it to “chance” or “good luck” or some “unknown scientific reason”? How can we recognize God’s power in our own age when we are not attuned to His presence around us?

Many people walked away from Jesus’ miracles unimpressed and non-believing. Will we do the same?

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

Sharing Their Faith Journey

FAIRFIELD—“SHU Journey has definitely changed me for the better. I have made so many wonderful friends and I have been able to experience God through all of them. It has been a place for me to deepen my faith and share my opinions with a community in the presence of God,” said Immaculate High School junior Elizabeth Flaherty at the wrap- up of the SHU Faith Journey Friday at Sacred Heart University.


That Old House

|   Commentary by Matthew Hennessey
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My mother hated the house on Speedwell Avenue. She may have had her reasons. The kitchen was small, the sink was too far from the stove, there was one bathroom for six people, and the whole place drooped slightly so the bedroom doors wouldn’t close. Then again, it was home.

We moved there in 1979. I was six. Before that we’d lived in the house where my dad grew up. It was built in 1886 by my great-grandfather John T. Murphy. My dad told us that John T.’s ghost still lived in the attic. I don’t think my mom liked that house much either.

I didn’t hate those houses. I loved them, especially the Speedwell house, which was quirky in the best way. I loved the sounds it made; the creaks in the floorboards; the squeaks; the little bell my mother hung on the doorknob so she’d know when some late-night sneaker let himself in.

I loved the staircase landing where the laundry baskets piled up; the bathroom with the light switch on the outside; the living-room window that gave the whole neighborhood a view of our Christmas tree; the ancient and faded wallpaper; the decorative Tuscan columns in the living room.

I loved all of it in the way of a child. That’s the way that doesn’t see your parents struggling to pay the electric bill. That’s the way that doesn’t know how annoying it is to have a lawn with grass that just won’t grow or a white picket fence that’s missing a few pickets.

When I drive by that house now I’m shocked at how small the property looks. As a kid I thought it was plenty big—practically an estate. We played every sport imaginable in its friendly confines, with eccentric grounds rules covering Wiffle balls hit over the porch roof or off the side of the house.

The driveway was only wide enough for a single car, and bounded on one side by a hedge, so we played quarter-court basketball. There was room for a layup on the right, but you could only launch jumpers from the left. The hedge led the league in rebounds.

My mother eventually achieved her dream of leaving that house, but before she did 234 Speedwell served as the setting for many great moments in the life of the family. Graduations, birthdays, homecomings, and holidays, of course, but also the unpleasant stuff—the hard Christmas when I dropped out of college, the frightening day my mother fainted and was taken away in an ambulance, my father’s heart attack.

One day I was coming home from high school and found Onyx, my sister Mary Ann’s cat, dead on the side of the road. She’d been hit by a car.

I buried Onyx using a garden spade near my mother’s rose bushes. Mom called Mary Ann to deliver the bad news.

“Mare,” she said. “Onyx bit it.” My mother wasn’t sentimental about pets.

The surprise party for my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary was a famous hooley. A platoon of friends and relatives who’d gathered up the block were led in by a bagpiper. Mary Ann’s 21st birthday party featured a keg of beer that she and her friends couldn’t quite drain. Me and my teenage friends tried to finish the job the following afternoon.

I did the lion’s share of my growing up on Speedwell Avenue.

I tell you all this because we moved recently, leaving behind a house—and a community—that we had grown to love. My son Patrick got emotional when I told him we’d be moving. He’s about to be 10, and probably thinks of Millport Avenue the same way I think of Speedwell Avenue.

Patrick didn’t know the house was too small for us. He didn’t know the long commute was poisoning Daddy’s soul. He didn’t know how badly his parents wanted a house of their own. Millport Avenue was just his home, the setting for his family memories, and he didn’t want to leave.

“I’m gonna miss this place,” he told me, his eyes brimming with tears. “I’m gonna miss all my friends.” I promised he’d make new ones. He didn’t care. All that mattered was that we were going and we weren’t coming back.

How much would I love to walk through that old house again—to hear the bell ring as I come through the door and the stairs creak as I take them two at a time, to flip that hallway switch on my way into the bathroom, to sink a jumper from the left side of the driveway? I’d give anything to look up from the kitchen table and see my mom again, or to hear her sigh because the sink’s too far away from the stove.

I put my arm on Patrick’s shoulder and, pulling him to my side, said, “I know, bud. I know.”

One River, Many Streams

|   Commentary by Thomas H. Hicks
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Never write up a diary on the Day itself.
It needs much longer than that to know what happened.
Christopher Morley, D-Day Plus X

Sooner or later, everyone wonders about what s/he has done in life. When we stand back and look at our lives certain questions arise: How and by what measure do we decide if one’s life has been a success? What is the shape of a good life? Have I done what was mine to do? What do I mean to others?

In the hard perspective of the years I’ve come to certain conclusions about truth. One is to acquiesce to Thomas Aquinas’ observation that “the end of one’s intellectual ascent is the realization of one’s ignorance.” The illusion of having answers crumbles, and often a quiet wonder takes its place. I’ve become open to the possibility that I’m wrong about many things. I’ve learned that one must step back from canonizing one’s interpretation of reality as the infallible blueprint for life. We often have to correct our view of life to some degree. Much of what had been important is no longer.

There are distinct methods to approach truth; truth has many aspects. In the middle of the second century, a Christian writer named Clement of Alexandria wrote: “There is one river of truth, but many streams fall into it on this side and that.” According to Hinduism, one can look at one and the same thing from a variety of perspectives, but none of them is exhaustive. Truth is always precious, but perhaps all truths are not equally relevant to all persons. There is not only one correct way to live one’s life. Everyone must follow an appointed path. It is impossible to talk with absolutists.

As Carl Jung pointed out, truth often isn’t where we suppose. Having passed through certain experiences, I realize that I had to unlearn much of what I was taught. The Buddha said: “Don’t believe what your teachers tell you unless your own reason and experiences confirm what they say.” I think there’s truth to that. Berthold Brecht’s play, “Galileo,” has this powerful line: “You can’t make a man unsee what he has seen.”

I’ve come to learn that eventually, one way or the other, truth reveals itself, and this truth is often uncomfortable, indeed, the truth often hurts.

Humans have always sacrificed truth to vanity, comfort, pleasure, and advantage.

As I’ve said before, there is a truth that runs through all life, namely that this life needs more than itself, it needs the possibility to reach beyond the natural to the supernatural. There is a restlessness, a longing, a hunger, a loneliness, an ache that lies at the center of human experience. Plato explained this unrest by claiming that our souls come from Beyond, and that Beyond is trying to draw us back to itself. It was his way of saying that we sense that something is missing. Human beings are desires for God. Graham Green’s novel, The End of the Affair, expresses the belief that human love, which cannot satisfy the universal inner longing, is in some arcane way a search for God.

Not every truth needs to be told.

There are times when one realizes that one has taken the wrong road.

We can confuse ponderous words with weighty thoughts.

I have a specifically Christian conception of reality, a biblical view. This leads me to agree with something Dostoyevsky said about how one cannot think adequately about man without reference to God. Indeed, God is the explanation of everything; leave out God and, as I see it, you leave everything unexplained.

I think the ultimate meaning of life is found in Jesus’ words: “Be merciful just as your heavenly Father is merciful” (Lk. 6:36). Though it is fractured by every sort of strife, God’s mercy fills the earth. Psalm 33:5: “The earth is full of the steadfast mercy of the Lord.”

I think our greatest fear is our deepest desire: to love and to be loved.

Edith Stein said that “God is truth, and all who seek truth seek God, whether this is clear to them or not.”

Edith Stein also said: “I am coming to the conclusion that, from God’s point of view, there is no chance and that the whole of my life, down to every detail, has been mapped out in God’s Divine Providence and makes complete and perfect sense in God’s all-seeing eyes.”

Is Edith Stein right? Is there more to life than randomness? Is our life not haphazard? Was the whole really planned and thought out? Can the puzzling pieces of my life fit into a sensible and purposeful pattern? Is it true of every created person that “you were set apart from eternity and of old before the earth was made”? (Prov.8:23). Do our lives have a plot? Is there a narrative structure to it?

A Hasidic Rabbi named Israel Baal Shen-Tov said that “God made human beings because he loves stories.”

Who is God, Mommy?

|   Commentary by Joe Pisani
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​My friend’s 5-year-old son came home from school and started to share the day’s events with his mother over a glass of milk and cookies. He told her about the show-and-tell that featured a daddy who worked in the hospital emergency department. He told her about the scuffle on the playground between a bully-in-training and a soft-spoken kid. And then he told her about a discussion that left him so confused he had to ask a compelling question: “Mommy, who is God?”


Led by Holy Spirit to the diaconate

|   By Joe Pisani
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SHELTON—Brad Smythe’s path to the Catholic Church took a few twists and turns and an occasional detour. But step by step, the Holy Spirit led him to where he was meant to be—an ordained deacon at 65 years old.

He and his two younger sisters were raised Congregationalists by devout parents, and from an early age he was active in the church youth group and choir.