Recently in Connecticut Dioceses Category

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Saints in Connecticut. Relics point to Jesus Christ.

Litchfield County Times' reporter Tom Breen published his "Catholic Retreat Near Mystic Features Severed Arm of Medieval Saint" on May 25, 2013. He writes on the first class relic of Saint Edmund of Canterbury, a renowned English archbishop, in a Mystic, CT, retreat house by the same name.

The infrastructure of holiness rests, in part, with the witness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Saints, for those who are Catholic, are men and women who know they are sinners, who have been forgiven, and who know what it means to live the sacred Scriptures. Specifically, they point to Christ as Messiah and say that it is in fact possible for all of us to be saints.

The Church has venerated, not worshiped saints and their relics. As reliable witnesses, the saints to this day point to Jesus. By the second century Christians would pray in the places where the martyrs were buried and/or where they were killed. A human contact is necessary for all of us.

The practice of offering Mass upon the tombs of the saints became normal; when the Christian community expanded, the practice of praying with the saints followed. Devotion ensued and Connecticut has a verifiable saint to honor.

Saint Edmund of Canterbury's feast day is November 16.

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Bishops of CT and RI.jpgPope Benedict XVI met Nov. 5 with U.S. bishops from northeastern states on their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses. From left are Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, R.I.; retired Auxiliary Bishop Peter A. Rosazza of Hartford.; Archbishop Henry J. Mansell of Hartford; Pope Benedict XVI; Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport; Bishop Michael R. Cote of Norwhich; Auxiliary Bishop Robert C. Evans of Providence, R.I. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)
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4 new priests Dio of Bport 2010.jpgThe Most Reverend William E. Lori ordained four deacons to the holy priesthood of Jesus Christ today at Mass celebrated at the Cathedral of Saint Augustine, Bridgeport, CT. The newly ordained priests, Fathers Jeffrey Couture, Karol Ksiazek, Jaime Marin-Cardona and Michael Novajosky will serve in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Bishop Lori spoke eloquently about the need for the priest to be both disciple and shepherd of Jesus Christ. A "theme" of the Scriptures proclaimed at Mass, particularly Psalm 23, 1 Peter 5 and John 10.  I think one can argue that a failure to live with both dimensions of priesthood (the common & ministerial) constantly in heart and mind is a lack in understanding of the vocation given by the Lord which could lead to mistakes in the exercise of the priesthood. Sure, there may be times when the shepherd aspect of a priest's life may be more evident but the sitting at the feet of the Lord is required of any good shepherd. That is, one can't be a shepherd if one is not first a disciple! The bishop related a story from the experience of the late Cardinal James Hickey who quietly yet confidently tried to live his priesthood as both disciple of Jesus and to act as a good shepherd for the flock his was given to lead to heaven.

The bishop also exhorted the newly ordained and those present to practice what we say we believe. Integrity of life is so very needed for the witness to be credible. Those who despise the Church cannot assail the Church and her ministers (the faithful included) if how one lives is in accord with what one professes to be true.

One small and interesting item happened at the Litany Saints --when the Church kneels and those to be ordained lay prostrate on the floor in humility-- asking the saints to intercede for us, the cantor invoked the intercession of Saint Oliver Plunkett, the sometime Primate of Ireland of the 17th century convicted of treason by England and killed for the faith at Tyburn. Plunkett was the last martyr to die in England; he was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1975. And this is an example of something that can make you go "hmmmm" in the sacred Liturgy. Nevertheless, I was elated someone has a devotion to Plunkett!

At the conclusion of the Mass Bishop Lori announced to the congregation the assignments of the new priests:

Reverend Father Jeffrey W. Couture will be at the Saint Edward the Confessor, New Fairfield
Reverend Father Karol J. Ksiazek will be at Saint Therese, Trumbull
Reverend Father Jaime Marin-Cardona will be at Saint Joseph, South Norwalk
Reverend Father Michael P. Novajosky will be at Saint Jude for the summer before returning to Rome to complete his studies for the License in Sacred Theology (Patristics)

Bl Mary Elizabeth Hasselblad.jpgToday is the 10th anniversary of the beatification of Mother Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad, the woman who re-established the Swedish branch of the Order of the Most Holy Savior of Saint Bridget --Bridgettine Order after centuries of the charism's absence, in 1911. This is the order of nuns founded by Saint Bridget (Birgitta) of Sweden (1303-1373).

Saint Bridget of Sweden, not to be confused with the Irish saint, was named co-paroness of Europe on October 1, 1999.

Today the order numbers some 700 sisters in 50 houses around the world. In the USA, there is one house of Bridgettine nuns, in Darien, Connecticut, in the Diocese of Bridgeport. The order has about a 4% growth per annum with about 30 novices entering yearly. Info on Wiki can be read here.

There is a group of Bridgetine monks in Oregon, themselves re-founded in 1976.

Blessed Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad's liturgical memorial is June 4.

Bp Lori blessing bells, St Philip Norwalk.jpgGod, eternal shepherd, You tend Your Church in many ways, and rule us with love. Help Your chosen servant William as pastor for Christ, to watch over Your flock. Help him to be a faithful teacher, a wise administrator, and a holy priest.

Bishop William Edward Lori, the 4th bishop of Bridgeport, observes his 15th anniversary of consecration as bishop today.

In 1995, James Aloysius Cardinal Hickey with William Wakefield Cardinal Baum and Bishop William George Curlin, consecrated Father William Lori to the order of bishop. He served the Archdiocese of Washington as auxiliary bishop and titular bishop of Bulla.

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In 2001, Bishop Lori was translated to the Bridgeport Diocese succeeding Archbishop Egan.

Lori serves not only the local Church but the Church in the USA by being a member of several committees on the US Catholic Conference of Bishops, as Supreme Chaplain to the Knights of Columbus and various civic boards.

On May 14 Bishop Lori will celebrate 33 years a priest.

We grateful to God for the person of Bishop Lori. May God grant him many years!

The picture one is getting in the press today of Pope Benedict is that of an out-of-touch old man in 3000 miles away. Somehow from what is commonly known and personally experienced of Benedict XVI, I don't quite think the editors of the NY Times and other press agencies have it right, much less some scheming lawyers trying to make as much money off the sexual abuse crisis. I sometimes wonder if the newspapers and legal profession comprehend reality as it is presented or if fiction is the only genre worth digesting in their diets.

Bishop William Lori offers another view of the Pope, and he outlines some interesting facts of the clergy sex abuse industry and what the Church actually did in an article titled, "The Holy Father I Know."

St John the Evangelist Bas.jpgThe Catholic faithful with their bishop, the Most Reverend William E. Lori, their pastor, Msgr. Stephen M. DiGiovanni and parochial vicars, gathered at the newly established Basilica of Saint John the Evangelist (Stamford, CT) tonight for Solemn Vespers and Benediction on the occasion of the Church receiving the dignity of a minor basilica by the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Benedict, XVI. It is one of 66 basilicas in the United States at this time. Also in attendance were Bishop Paul, Eparch of the Ukrainian Eparchy of Stamford and Bishop Basil the eparch emeritus with about 40 priests and seminarians.

Providing an honor guard were the Knights of Columbus, the Order of Malta and the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.

Tonight's ceremonies commemorated the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter. In the Diocese of Bridgeport the only church which ranks higher than Saint John's is the Cathedral of Saint Augustine, the seat of the bishop, which holds first place and the greatest dignity. The Basilica enjoys a special relationship with the Pope because it becomes his church, especially should he visit the diocese.

The designation was made last fall and noted here.

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In order for Saint John's to have been recognized as a minor basilica by the Holy Father, upon recommendation by those concerned with such work, certain criteria had to be followed as outlined by the 1989 document, Domus Ecclesiae (the House of God). Namely, that the church be exemplarly noted for her praying the Liturgy, the sacred music performed for prayer, the teaching of the faith, a place of beauty, enjoy a good reputation in the diocese and a place of pilgrimage for the faithful.

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There are three ecclesiastical symbols ("decoration") for the new basilica to display, two originated for papal processions: 1) the liturgical umbrella, also called the papal pavilion (umbraculum) used to shield the pope from harsh weather and to signal the pope's movement through the streets; the pavilion is constructed in the yellow and white papal colors used since the 9th century which originally were the colors of the Roman Senate; 2) the papal bell (tintinabulum) which announces a pope's arrival; and 3) the basilica is privileged to use of the papal symbols of the tiara with crossed keys in a design of a coat of arms (seen to the right),

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The coat of arms was designed by heraldic artist, the Very Reverend Canon Matthew R. Mauriello, pastor of Saint Roch's Church, Greenwich, CT. The motto, "Behold your Mother" (John 19:27) was spoken to Saint John by Our Lord entrusting His mother to Saint John's care. The motto also recalls the traditional title of Saint John's Parish as the Mother Church of Stamford.

Father Matthew's design evokes redemption by Christ with the use of the gold cross. With other symbols, connections are made with Benedict XVI, Blessed Pope Pius IX, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the Archdiocese of Hartford and the Diocese of Bridgeport and the symbol of Saint John the Evangelist.

The sacred music for the Vespers and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was beautifully done by the Basilica schola under the direction of Scott Turkington, who after 11 years, is taking a job as the director of music at the Charleston, SC cathedral. The psalmody was executed well so that all knew their respective parts. The schola sang Palestrina's Tu es Petrus, Victoria's Magnificat and Tantum Ergo along with the Vesperal psalmody.

In his homily the bishop made the connection with the Blessed Mother and Saint John the Beloved Disciple and the paradigm the are for the Church and thus for us today. Bishop Lori reminded us of the feast of the Chair of Peter we celebrate today and the closeness we have with the Pope especially now with the basilica dignity. As the Lord entrusted to the Apostles the proclamation of the Gospel and administration of the sacraments, so the Church today is charged with the same work to spread the message of salvation. As the Church's faith is built on the rock of Saint Peter, the prince of the Apostles, 1st among equals, and the embodiment of the Church office, especially the papacy, our faith is made firm, we are given freedom to profess Christ and to remain vigilant until the Second Coming of the Savior.

We were happy to receive a resolution from Her Excellency, M. Jodi Rell, Governor of Connecticut read by her assistant governor and messages from Stamford's Board of Alderman and the Mayor.

The Stamford Advocate ran an online slideshow presentation on February 23.

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Behold the Lord the Ruler is come: and the Kingdom is in His Hand, and power, and dominion. Give to the king Thy judgment, O God: and to the king's Son Thy justice. (Epiphany entrance Antiphon)

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Saint John Chrysostom teaches us that, "If the Magi had come in search of an earthly King, they would have been disconcerted at finding that they had taken the trouble to come such a long way for nothing. Consequently they would have neither adored nor offered gifts. But since they sought a heavenly King, though they found in Him no signs of royal pre-eminence, yet, content with the testimony of the star alone, they adored: for they saw a man, and they acknowledged a God."

The Feast of the Epiphany is a terrific day to manifest the Lord's entrance into our history with an ordination. The Diocese of Bridgeport, indeed the entire Church, rejoices today in calling another man to ordained service as a deacon. But what do deacons do in the Catholic Church? According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "Deacons are ministers ordained for tasks of service of the Church; they do not receive the ministerial priesthood, but ordination confers on them important functions in the ministry of the word, divine worship, pastoral governance, and the service of charity, tasks which they must carry out under the pastoral authority of their bishop (1596).

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Today, Bishop Lori ordained to the Order of Deacon Jaime de Jesus Marin Cardona, 41, at Saint Charles Borromeo Church (Bridgeport, CT). Deacon Marin is a native of Columbia where he did his seminary training. Here in the US, Deacon Jaime did some studies at Saint John Fisher Seminary (Stamford, CT) and Holy Apostles Seminary (Cromwell, CT).

During the Rite of Ordination of a Deacon Bishop Lori prayed:

Almighty God . . . You make the Church, Christ's body, grow to its full stature as a new and greater temple. You enrich it with every kind of grace and perfect it with a diversity of members to serve the whole body in a wonderful pattern of unity. You established a threefold ministry of worship and service, for the glory of your name. As ministers of your tabernacle you chose the sons of Levi 
and gave them your blessing as their everlasting inheritance.

More than a dozen priests and deacons concelebrated Mass with the Bishop--in Spanish--with a packed Church. A fair number of the diocesan seminarians were also in attendance, many of whom acted altar servers for the Liturgy. It was wonderful to see all the gathered faithful. Jaime drew together his family and friends from across the area to celebrate with him. The occasion afforded the Msgr. Patrick McGivney Council, the local council of the Knights of Columbus to observe their 10th anniversary in Saint Charles. The State KofC officers were present as was the 4th degree honor guard.

Since he's finished with studies, Deacon Jaime will serve in a parish for the next six months. In the exercise of his ministry, Deacon Jaime now "strengthened by sacramental grace... [is] dedicated to the People of God, in conjunction with the bishop and his body of priests, in the service (diakonia) of the liturgy, of the Gospel, and of works of charity" (CCC 1588).

We also rejoice at the ordination of another man for the Bridgeport Diocese. On December 12th, Bishop Lori by the laying on of hand and prayer, ordained Jeff Couture to the Order of Deacon at Holy Family Church (Fairfield, CT), a native son of that parish. The ordination took place at the Vigil Mass for Gaudete Sunday with lots of Jeff's family and friends present. Deacon Couture is a student at Mount Saint Mary Seminary (Emmitsburg, MD). He's been serving Holy Family Church for Christmastide and will return to the Mount to finish up prior to ordination.

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On June 5, 2010, four men will be ordained to the presbyterate for the Diocese of Bridgeport. In addition to Deacons Jaime and Jeff, the deacons ordained this past May, Deacons Michael Novajoski and Karol Ksiazek will be made priests. In comparison to 2009 when six were made priests of Jesus Christ, 2010 is also a good year for our diocese in terms of ordinations. As of this writing, there will only be one ordained to the priesthood in 2011.

May Saints Stephen, Nicanor, Lawrence, Ephrem, Francis and all holy deacons, pray for us and for these men ordained for service in the Diocese of Bridgeport!

Connecticut Bike Project

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bicycle.jpgThe Connecticut Bike Project is a program that collects and distributes donated bicycles in good working condition to financially challenged children and adults who need them. Besides offering them to children for recreation the aim of the endeavor is to provide needed transportation to work and for running errands to the economically disadvantaged; individuals with physical or mental disabilities that prevent them from driving, ex-offenders re-entering the workforce and other folks who can't afford a vehicle or are without licenses to drive.

Consider hosting a Bike-Drive at your parish! Please spread the word that bicycles are in need for this project. Contact Mr. Brooks Sumberg to schedule a drive in your parish or through your club or organization. He will be there for the event and take the bikes the same day as the drive. All you need to do is publicize the drive in your bulletins or newsletters. Maybe you can make it a project for your Parish youth group or Confirmation class.

All individual bikes can be dropped off at your convenience (at 96 Hillspoint Road, Westport, CT) but please call  the project founder, Mr. Brooks Sumberg, at 203-293-4130 or by e-mail: If you know of a child or adult in need of a bike you may contact The Urban Center at Saint Charles Borromeo Parish in Bridgeport which has graciously houses the project and serves as the distribution center.

Saint Rose Catholic Forum

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Saint Rose Catholic Forum
is pleased to present
"Celebrating the Faith"

Luncheon with special guest Dr. Peter Kreeft
Professor of Philosophy at Boston College
October 25th - 1:00 pm

St. Rose Church, 46 Church Hill Road, Newtown, CT

$10 dollar donation for adults, $5 for children requested not required. Please reserve your place by email: or call the St. Rose Parish Office at 203.426.1014.

Luncheon from 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Event #1

1:30pm: "Is the Church 'beautiful'? And is that a good reason to be a Catholic?"

Event #2

3:30 pm: Book signing and talk- Monsignor Conroy Room - Precious & practical profundities in the greatest book of the 20th Century: The Lord of the Rings

Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and at the King's College (Empire State Building), in New York City. He is a regular contributor to several Christian publications, is in wide demand as a speaker at conferences, and is the author of over 45 books. For more information, go to

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 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

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.
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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

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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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