PARISH BLOG

Reflections and news from our Pastor and Youth Minister

to help you stay connected and go deeper in your faith.



Welcome back to "How Catholic Are You?" Today, we're sharing with you the miraculous and mysterious story of Pope Saint Leo I (also known as Pope Leo the Great) and Attila the Hun. Bit of an odd pair, don't you think? In fact, Attila was one of the most ruthless conquerors in human history. What could he ever want with a pope?


As a matter of fact, he wanted to conquer his city. In the year 452, Attila and his army ravaged through Italy like a hot knife through butter. They had their eyes set on the crown jewel of the region: Rome. With Roman troops overrun (this was only 20 or so years before the Western Roman Empire fell), the city seemed all but lost with the Huns on the doorstep.


In a last-ditch effort to save the Eternal City, Emperor Valentinian III sent 3 envoys to negotiate with Attila, one of whom was Pope Leo. This is where the mystery comes in! Nothing is known about the ensuing negotiations aside from the fact that Leo met with Attila in his hut. Nobody knows what they spoke about or what was agreed upon, but whatever Leo said saved the city!


After their discussion, Atilla (again, perhaps the most vicious invader in human history) packed up his army and went home. Rome paid no money to the Huns, nor did they give them any territorial rights. It would seem like they gave up nothing at all. How is this possible? Well, the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, the shepherd of the entire universal Church. It is safe to assume that whatever he said was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and sometimes that's all we need know.


This is a crazy and borderline unbelievable story. If they wrote a fictional movie script with this plot, it would immediately be canned because it's just not plausible. But it really happened! Miracles, the Holy Spirit, and the power of Christ to change the hearts of mankind are all real. Praise God for inspiring His Vicar on earth to save the city of Rome. Pope Saint Leo the Great, pray for us!

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Welcome to the first written edition of "How Catholic Are You?"! We hope you enjoyed our first video about the Catholic roots of the Devil's Advocate. This time, in the wake of Pentecost, we have a Holy Spirit factoid for you! Shout-out to Patti Flynn-Harris for suggesting this topic.


When asked to pick the most important part of the Mass, there are a LOT of options to choose from. In reality, it's nearly impossible to single out one piece of the greatest prayer known to mankind, but the Consecration is as good a place to start as you'll find. Specifically, there's a moment during the Consecration where the priest extends his hands over mere bread and wine and says the following words:


"Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall, so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ."


This is the crux of the Eucharistic Prayer, the beginning of the miracle where simple food is miraculously transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, truly present in the appearance of bread and wine (completed when the priest, in persona Christi, says "This is my body," and "This is my blood"). Incredible! This moment, this crucial point in the Mass, is known as the Epiclesis.


Epiclesis (or Epiklesis, originally) is a Greek term meaning, "calling down." This is important to remember because the priest is asking God very directly to come and sanctify the gifts on His altar. He asks God the Father (Part One) to make the bread and wine holy by sending down the Holy Spirit (Part Two) so that they may become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ (Part 3).


It is worth noting that it is the Holy Spirit, sent by God the Father, who transubstantiates the bread and wine. Thus, we are reminded that the Trinity is inherently intertwined with the Eucharist, a timely reminder so soon after the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity!


This is the moment where the veil between Heaven and earth is at its thinnest, the moment where the Lord Himself comes to us in miraculous fashion at each and every Mass. So the next time you're kneeling and praying during the Consecration, remember to pay special attention to the Epiclesis! Say a special thank you to the Lord for the miracle He performs for our salvation every time we come to Him at Mass.

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Dear Friends in Christ:


Just days ago we received word from Archbishop Blair and the other bishops of Connecticut that we are reopening our churches fully, beginning Pentecost Weekend, NEXT WEEKEND! Acknowledging the challenging year we have endured, the Bishops of Connecticut said that given the recent positive developments surrounding the pandemic they “believe the time has come to review the importance that full participation at Mass has for the spiritual life of all believers and offer a heartfelt appeal to all Catholics to return to the Sunday celebration of Mass in person.”


It has been a long year! It has been a difficult and challenging year. It has been a sad year for those who lost loved ones due to the Coronavirus. But we have made it through this historic time TOGETHER as a family of faith. I couldn’t be more pleased with how we have remained connected as a family. We have continued to seek ways to grow together in faith and even a pandemic could not stop our hearts from longing for the presence of the Lord.


While some will greet this announcement from the Bishops with excitement, we have to be aware that some are going to see this as an opportunity for anxiety and fear. But our Bishops are telling us it is time to come together and be with one another again, in-person, for the sacramental celebration in which we are invited into the mystery of our salvation in Jesus Christ.


Each of us has a role to play in this development. Share the word! Help others come to understand that this call back to in-person worship is more than a legal requirement. It is a call from our Bishops to come “into the presence of the Lord whom we love, who gave His life for our salvation so that we may receive Him as food for our life’s journey unto eternal glory.” It is about the deep desire of our hearts to encounter the Lord.


While the dispensation previously granted is being lifted May 22nd, the Bishops still recognize that not everyone is able to fully return to in person worship and they should remember that the “Lord will never invite you to do something that poses a danger to oneself or others.” Archbishop Blair said “as of Pentecost Sunday the obligation to attend Mass is reinstated with the understanding, however, that persons with valid health concerns or even, for now, fears about the virus, should not feel constrained to come to Church.” Other who would be dispensed from the obligation include:

1. Those suffering from pre-existing conditions that may make a person more susceptible to falling ill from COVID-19

2. Those who are ill and homebound or the caregiver in close contact with someone who is ill and homebound

3. Those who tested positive for any contagious disease, including COVID-19

4. Those in quarantine due to exposure to any contagion or residing with someone who is quarantined.


As the Bishops of Connecticut made clear in prior communications, there is nothing contrary to faith or morals that would prevent a person from being vaccinated against COVID-19. Now they are encouraging people “very strongly to receive the vaccine for their own safety, for the safety of their family and their communities, and the common good, because the larger proportion of people who get vaccinated, the more quickly will the pandemic subside.”


Given the bishop’s statement, I am, once again, urging EVERYONE to get the vaccine! As we enter this time of no more requirements with regard to social distancing, it is more important than ever, I really cannot urge you more—out of care, concern and love for others—to get vaccinated!


SO what does this mean?

1. No more signing up for Mass!

2. Masks will still BE REQUIRED.

3. The barriers used to block off pews and the tape used to direct the flow of traffic will be removed.

4. We will continue to livestream the 10:30AM for those who are unable to attend Mass in-person due to medical reasons.

5. We will continue to do drive-thru confessions each Saturday beginning at 3PM until heard in front of the school building. While it is possible to be together in the Church, for the time being as an extra precaution for our safety and yours, we will continue to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation as we have these past months.

6. The holy water fonts will remain empty. If you need holy water for your own bottle and use, please use the receptacle in the South Entrance.

7. Hymnals will be put in the pews and available on a cart for use during the Mass. Please remember that you MUST wear your mask at all times in the Church building but you CAN now sing!

8. The offertory collection will resume the weekend of Pentecost with use of the collection baskets with long extended handles.

9. There will still not be an offertory procession of the gifts of bread and wine for the time being.

10. The Sign of Peace CAN be announced and reinstituted but it is only to be exchanged without touching one another.

11. We will begin the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and Lectors but, at this time, altar servers are still not permitted by directive of the Archdiocese. You can expect those distributing Holy Communion to continue to sanitize their hands prior and following.

12. Communicants will receive the consecrated host in their hand, step to the side, lower their mask, consume the host, replace their mask, and return to their seat. COMMUNION ON THE TONGUE SHOULD CONTINUE TO BE DISCOURAGED FOR THE SAKE OF THE HEALTH OF OTHERS. Those who refuse to receive on their hand MUST come at the end of the Communion line after everyone else has already received.

13. Finally, the disinfecting that has taken place all these months will be replaced with regular cleaning in accordance with the update from the CDC on April 5th. We will continue to sanitize bathrooms following each Mass.

Here is praying for a successful reopening!


HAPPY BIRTHDAY AND HAPPY ANNIVERSARY FATHER JOSEPH PETTIT…I know many of you will remember Father Joseph Pettit from his many years assisting on weekends here in Cheshire. I hear many stories from parishioners who remember him with great fondness.

I have been privileged to know Father Pettit from his first days of retirement when he moved into my home parish of Saint Matthew in Forestville. He lived in the rectory there for some years and was a wonderful help to our busy parish. Once I got to know his sense of humor, I enjoyed spending time with him and hearing stories of years ago.

This past Monday was his birthday and his 65th Anniversary as a Priest of Jesus Christ. We give thanks to Almighty God for his extraordinary ministry and example. On Monday, Monsignor Shanley, Vicar for Clergy, presented Father Pettit with a Papal Blessing commemorating his 65th Anniversary.


WE ARE HIRING! Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish is creating a NEW position in our Parish Office. During these months I have been contemplating the hiring of someone to work a few hours on the weekend to be more accessible to our parishioners who are seeking Mass cards, sponsor certificates, or any other hosts of items. So, after consultation with members of our Pastoral Staff and Pastoral Council and the Parish Finance Council, we are creating a Part-Time Position for Saturdays from 9:30a.m. until 12:30p.m. Applicants must be over the age of 18, have phenomenal interpersonal skills, basic computer skills, and have a desire to help others. Any interested persons are asked to email a resume to rectory@stbridgetcheshire.org.


PANDEMIC COOKBOOK IS AVAILABLE…As you remember during the pandemic we were seeking recipes to put together a Pandemic Parish Cookbook. It was a difficult and isolating time but one thing Father Federico and I continually heard was parishioners trying new recipes, seeking new recipes, and spending more time in the kitchen. We thought it would be an ideal time to try to gather recipes and put together a Parish Family Pandemic Cookbook that would be available online and be easy to use. I am so grateful to Mrs. Helen Tine who volunteered to take all the recipes and put this new Parish Cookbook together! A shout out to Regis O’Neill from our staff who assisted in this effort as well. Check it out on the website www.stbridgetcheshire.org by clicking I’m New then clicking on Parish Cookbook and you can download it right to your tablet or computer. I hope you will find some delicious recipes as I am planning to try a few myself.


I wish to express A HUGE THANK YOU to our parish and community for your support of Saint Bridget School!!! A special thank you to all who assisted in so many ways to make the 2021 Saint Bridget School Come Together Virtual Auction such a huge success. I am humbled and edified by the generosity of the greater Cheshire community. We are especially grateful to our major sponsors:

Diamond Sponsors: Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish Family, Pediatric Associates of Cheshire, PC, Spadola & Vincent General Dentistry, Viron Rondo Osteria, St. Elizabeth of The Trinity Parish in North Haven, Ion Bank, Lilia Bunick, LPC, NCC, The Carrano Law Firm, LLC, Dr. Christopher Bunick, PPI Gas Distribution, Inc., Elite Travel, Webster Bank, Eastern Fuel Corporation, Blacks Road Self Storage, LLC, Heavy Weight, Inc., Gibbs, Bartlett Legal Group, LLC, Feldman Orthodontics, Complete Environmental Services, Ronald Isaac Jr. & Alexandrea Isaac, Michael & Amanda Votto, and Saint Louis De Montfort Parish in Litchfield.

Gold Sponsors: K&S Property Holdings, Biller Associates, Modern Formals, Mystic Medical Associates, E. Haberli Electric, LLC, Professional Coaching, LLC, Cheshire Men's Softball, Rheumatology Specialists of Connecticut, Ulbrich Stainless Steels & Special Metals, St. Paul Catholic High School, Michael & Rina Ayepah, Kristia Bermudez, Patti Flynn Harris, Deborah DeWitt Frattini, and Vincent & Deb Masotta.

Silver Sponsors: Alex LaRosa of Calcagni Real Estate, Advanced Dentistry, Inc, Burlap & Mason, Baillie & Hershman P.C., The Higgins Family, John T. Maier of Maier Real Estate, Mathnasium of Naugatuck Valley, Component Engineers, Inc., St. Bridget School Board, Elder Ease, LLC, Carpets Plus Inc., Grant P. Writer Services LLC, Old Florida Gourmet Products, Illiano's Restaurant, and Deacon Richard & Ann Wilber


I am likewise very grateful to all who donated to the $50,000 challenge gift. The challenge is still on! We have raised $21,460 as of the writing of this article on Wednesday. Can you help us move the needle higher and closer to meet the challenge! I know how much our parishioners support our parish school and I would love to see us meet this challenge before the end of May! I believe it is possible. Will you help our school today? Visit the site: https://stbridgetschool.ejoinme.org/50k!!! Thank you!


Last, but certainly not least, our gratitude to this year’s co-chairs Mrs. Chelsea Brown, Mrs. Cheryl Roome, and Mrs. Rosa Spilka who came together with such excitement and energy to make this auction a huge success. And a special word of gratitude to Helen and Steve Tine, their daughter Theresa Tine, and Regis O’Neill for all the work in preparing for this auction, executing the livestream, and their tremendous gift of time and talent to making this first virtual auction such an amazing experience for so many!

It is truly all for the children! On behalf of our students and our entire school family I say “Thank you!”


As always, remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings upon us all in this time of pandemic. With the gracious intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, and Blessed Michael McGivney, and united in the Eucharist, may we be united with one another in prayer and reflect the presence of Jesus to the world! Please pray for me and know that I am praying for you! Continued prayers for you all to know and experience the joy, the peace, and the hope of the Risen Christ! A Blessed Easter Season to you and your family!





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