Category Archives: Connecticut Dioceses

Catholic education: where is it going and why?

The Catholic school system in the US has been in a very desperate shape for years: acute and chronic money problems, lack of good, solidly trained Catholic teachers and administrators, a coherent vision of Catholic education as it interfaces with the charism of the religious order/diocese operating the school, building & grounds in near of repair, low endowments, etc. Then there is the assessment of what is purported to constitute a Catholic school: poor formation in the faith, the arts & humanites and science suffer, good use of current technologies, and engagement with people who do things differently, engagement with the vulnerable and culture of life, etc. Many, many Catholic schools don’t offer the Sacrifice of the Mass on a weekly basis for the students; and very few of them that I am familiar with offer reliable guidance and formation of the faculty and parents. In my book, if the bishop rarely shows up and the pastor visits the school only when there is crisis. then the problem is more acute.

Don’t get me wrong: I am a product of a lot years Catholic education and wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love my time in the Catholic schools I attended but I can see the gaping holes in education and experience. I also believe that the Church needs excellent schools and formation programs.

Five exceptions to this critical view may be the five schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport recently named “Blue Ribbon” by the US Dept of Ed. But for these success stories in Catholic Education there are thousands of others pointing to major problems.

Today, there is an article in Time that speaks to a corrective of what is noted above. The dynamic Mr. Ekicsen is asking the right questions and seeking reasonable solutions. The bishop of Patterson made an excellent choice in hiring Eriksen and I pray his project thrives. It will –the saints are behind him. Read about the Eriksen initiative…

I think of a few things that are contributing to a renewal of Catholic eduation in the US: 1) Luigi Giussani’s The Risk of Education; 2) the Ed Conference; 3) UND’s ACE program; and 4) Dwight Longenecker’s booklet The Risk of Faith; 5) Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. This is not an exhaustive list by any stretch of reality because I know there are plenty of more good programs/schools out there so please forward the names to me.

St John’s Church Stamford CT named minor basilica

St John Church Stamford.jpgWord has been received that the Church of Saint John (Stamford, CT) has been given the high honor of being named a minor basilica by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.

Henceforth, the parish will be known as The Basilica of Saint John the Evangelist.

The Catholic community has been present in the Stamford sine the early 18th century but an official ecclesial community was founded in 1847. The current church was completed in 1886.

Saint John’s is the second church in the State of Connecticut to receive this distinction. The first is the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Waterbury, CT. There are only 65 minor basilicas in the US.


The announcement from the Diocese of Bridgeport, October 17, 2009

The Stamford Advocate‘s article of October 17, 2009

Sacred Heart University’s new chapel is a sanctuary for the pilgrim people of God

SH Chapel.jpgSacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT enters into rites dedicating the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, today. Rarely do we have the opportunity to newly construct a marvelous work of art given for God’s greater glory and His worship such as Sacred Heart’s Chapel of the Holy Spirit. Having Father Rupnik‘s commission in Connecticut gives us a special link to the work of the Church in calling us to deeper union with God. Rupnik’s mosaic work had its first world dramatic epiphany in Apostolic Palace’s Mother of the Redeemer Chapel (Vatican City State) due to Pope John Paul being struck to the beauty wrought by Rupnik and his colleagues at the Centro Aletti. Today, we are struck by the same beauty drawn more deeply into the mystery, into radical holiness by another dramatic manifestation of the mosaics.

I previously mentioned Rupnik’s work in the USA.

The NY Times features the liturgical art of the chapel.
On the new chapel organ for the chapel.
The progression of building the chapel
I have to note that Sacred Heart’s mosaics are not the first for the artist in the USA: Father Rupnik’s first work was installed in the Holy Family Chapel at the central office of the Knights of Columbus, New Haven, CT. And like today’s ceremonies of dedication, the mosaics in New Haven were blessed for liturgical use by Bishop Lori, the same who is doing consecration today.

5 Blue Ribbon Schools in the Bridgeport Diocese

Dept Ed arms.jpg

Today the Diocese of Bridgeport conveyed the great news that 5 of the Catholic schools of the diocese, and only ones in the State of Connecticut, have been named a Blue Ribbon School by the US Department of Education.
This distinction places these schools in the top 10% of schools in the USA. Here’s a list of the 2009 recipients of the Blue Ribbon distinction.
The five schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport:
St Cecilia School, Stamford, CT
St Mark School, Stratford, CT

Fan the Fire 2009

Fan the Fire 2009.jpg

The group photo of Fan the Fire 2009!
(Can you find me?)
Fan the Fire is now an annual youth rally hosted by St. Rose of Lima Church (Newtown,CT) in conjunction with the Diocese of Bridgeport. 2009 was the fourth time Fan the Fire was held. This youth rally reminds me of a mini world youth day in the sense that there are hundreds of teenagers present; there’s Mass, Confession, Eucharistic Adoration, presentations on the faith, small and large group discussions and an opportunity for friendship. Numbers were down this year: only 500 youth from the Diocese registered with some coming from the neighboring Archdiocese of Hartford.
The day together was electric. You could feel the enthusiasm and zeal of the teens in attendance. They were there not because of some obligation but there was a desire in their hearts to be together for each other, for themselves and for Christ and the Church. The rally while a bit large and seemingly unwieldy was well done: I believe it was a time for all to meet Christ.
Bishop William Lori spent Friday evening and Saturday afternoon and evening with Fan the Fire participants. He gave two presentations and led two Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction services and celebrated Mass. Priests from around the diocese heard confessions and lent a hand in teaching.
All of this would not be possible without the assistance of Msgr Robert Weiss and many, many of the parishioners, Sisters and Knights of Columbus of St Rose!

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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