PARISH BLOG

Reflections and news from our Pastor and Youth Minister

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



Dear Friends in Christ:


Back to Ordinary Time…can I get an AMEN! Please don’t get me wrong. I do love all the preparation of Advent, the hearing of Christmas carols on the radio, the increased care and concern for the less fortunate, and the joy and celebration of Christmas.

While this past Christmas came amidst the pandemic and a time when life is so different from “normal,” there was still so much to witness and be thankful for.


· I think of the overwhelming generosity of you, our parishioners, displayed in your care and concern for your parish family, in your love for our neighbors served through the Advent Giving Tree, and in your many kindnesses to Father Federico and me.

· I think of the amazing day we had on Sunday, December 20th, when we had our “Drive-Thru Confessions and Communion” and over 160 cars (the majority with multiple people in them). The snow did not stop our parishioners from seeking the mercy of God, and our priest friends, while none of us could feel our toes, were all really moved by this experience.

· I think of the 17 Masses we scheduled for Christmas so as many as wanted to could come “in-person” for the celebration of the birth of our Savior.

· I think of our parish choir and school choir who prepared virtual choir songs for our Christmas Virtual Concert and brought such joy to so many.


And while I am overwhelmed with joy reflecting back on these experiences, I am so happy to be back in Ordinary Time even if just for a few weeks. It means I can see my desk again, the days are less cluttered with countless meetings, and it is a peaceful time when days are a little longer giving us some hope.


Ordinary Time brings us to reflect on Jesus’ earthly ministry and some of the major events in the Gospels we have come to know and to love. The miracles, the parables, the calling of the twelve, the sermon on the mount, the bread of life discourse… we get all that and more during this season. Truly, there is still much to celebrate even in Ordinary Time.


So why the term Ordinary? The term ‘ordinary’ in our common use typically refers to something being plain, unimpressive, or unexciting. A kind of ‘it is what it is’ mentality (by the way this is a line I have said often throughout the pandemic when there has been no other reasoning for things…it is what it is). For that reason, many people hear ‘Ordinary Time’ and they immediately think of the season as such. However, that understanding does not reflect the true meaning of the season.


Ordinary, in this context, comes from the Latin term ordinalis, meaning ‘numbered’ or ‘ruled’. This title simply refers to the ongoing and rhythmical nature of the season. Just like everyday life, there is a rhythm to the days and the weeks. Sure, we have holidays and special occasions that we look forward to that change the pace, just like we have holy days and feasts in the Church year, but those special occasions are not the whole picture, just like there is more to the life of Christ than what we celebrate in other liturgical seasons.


Ordinary Time has two parts, but it remains one season…the first part begins right after the Baptism of the Lord (so this past Monday) and continues until the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, and the second part begins the Monday after Pentecost and continues to the First Sunday of Advent. In total, there are about 33 or 34 weeks in Ordinary Time depending on how other feast days fall within the liturgical calendar. Each of these weeks is denoted by time, such as this Sunday is the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.


Ordinary Time is a time for us to live as disciples of Jesus. Denoted by the color green, which symbolizes growth and new life, Ordinary Time is the time for us to live this new life as followers of Jesus Christ, the Newborn King. This is a time for living the life of Christ! It is a time for growth and maturity as disciples. It is a time in which the mystery of Christ should shape and form every moment of our lives. Often in the midst of the mundane is a call to develop lasting habits in life; do we hear that call in our faith life?

It is a time for us to get caught up in Christ. One of the realities of life is that it is so easy for us to get caught up in things like politics (ugh!), social media, schedules, work, worry, and the list could go on. But what this time of year asks of us is to get caught up in Christ. What would life look like if instead of spending the time we “normally” would spend each day on the items above, we spent that time with Christ, reflecting on His life? Hmmm. An intriguing question! Why not give it a shot these weeks of Ordinary Time and see what happens?


THIS TIME OF YEAR IS USUALLY THE SCHOOL AUCTION…The St. Bridget School Home and School Association is normally gearing up for the annual Auction which, of course, is the major fundraiser of the year. However, as you can imagine with COVID 19 it is not possible to have a large gathering. Therefore, they have many fun events planned which we can ALL participate in safely from our homes in the coming months. The first one announced is the BINGO WITH A KICK on Thursday, February 4th at 7PM via ZOOM. Won’t you join us for an evening of fun from the comfort of your home?


Here is how it works…You purchase bingo cards to play bingo:

1. Single Card for all 6 games= $20

2. 3-Pack of Cards for all 6 games=$35

3. 6-Pack of Cards for all 6 games=$50


Each game the winner will have a choice between a Designer Hand Bag from brands like Michael Kors, Coach, Kate Spade, and Dooney & Bourke or choose a $100 Gift Card from national chains like Amazon.


The item not chosen will then be put into a KICK RAFFLE. You can participate in all 6 Kick Raffles by purchasing a Kick Raffle Ticket for $10. One purchase gets you in all the raffles, or you can purchase more to increase your chances of winning.


This will no doubt be a fun evening that people of all ages can participate in and at the same time be supporting our parish school. I hope you will join us! For information on how to order your bingo cards etc. please see the notice in this bulletin.


There are many more exciting events being planned in the coming months that will be fun for parishioners of all ages, stay tuned!


Annual Family Commitment 2020 Well, thank you does not seem to express the gratitude in my heart for your overwhelming and generous response, once again, to our 2020 Annual Family Commitment. It is such an amazing sign of your commitment to our parish family. I cannot adequately express the gratitude in my heart to the 837 families who pledged $270,426.50. This represents a 27% participation of our registered families! Even more importantly this Annual Family Commitment consistently year to year provides such necessary funds to help our family of faith address capital repairs that would simply not be possible without a special collection. As a family of faith we have a responsibility and an obligation to ensure our facilities are up-to-date and running efficiently and your generosity to the 2020 Annual Family Commitment makes this possible! Your generosity, this year, will certainly help us to address the deterioration of the pews in Saint Bridget Church, while at the same time address some parking lot repairs at Saint Thomas Becket Campus. On behalf of our Finance Council, our Pastoral Council, our Trustees, and myself, THANK YOU for your generosity!


As you know 2020 was the year we were launching two new ministries, vital and important ministries, our new Youth Ministry and our Young Adult Ministry. While COVID 19 certainly has put an obstacle in the way of truly allowing these ministries to flourish, I am still encouraged that both ministries continued during the pandemic.


Our Youth Ministry quickly turned to tools like ZOOM to continue the momentum as a group. They participated in many projects as able, such as the Lights of Hope here in the parish collecting monies and illuminating our properties. They also have begun to meet in-person, once again, and have changed their meeting day to Sunday evenings from 6:30-8:30PM. I ENCOURAGE ALL HIGH SCHOOL AGED parishioners to come and check it out. Please contact our Youth Minister, Regis O’Neill at roneill@stbridgetcheshire.org for more information on the Youth Ministry Next Generation of Disciples.


Our Young Adult Ministry also began just before COVID 19 and instead of putting their efforts on hold, our leadership team decided to put their official training with id 9:16 Ministry on pause and take the time to get to know one another and build relationship with one another via social media tools and when possible in-person. I was so pleased to see them one Saturday evening in their lawn chairs, socially distant, in our rectory parking lot getting together, sharing about a book they were all reading, and building those relationships. They are now in the midst of their training with id 9:16 Ministry and I am excited to see this ministry take off and be an effective tool among the young adults of our parish.


As always, please remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings as we build His kingdom here. Please know that I am praying for you, and I ask for your prayers for me, that together through the intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, and Blessed Father Michael J. McGivney, and united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world. Have a blessed week and stay safe!!!




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  • Regis O'Neill


Ah yes, it's that time of year again. The time for New Year's Resolutions. "I'll actually GO to the gym this year" (well, maybe not this year). "I'll eat better this year". "I want to be kinder." Sound familiar? These Resolutions saturate our culture every time January comes around, but they're done pretty poorly for the most part. Allow me to explain.


To have a productive discussion about this, we need to nail down what a resolution actually is. Like many words in English, it's a homonym, which means there are multiple words with different meanings that use the same spelling (i.e. "you can only say you've read things that you've taken the time to read, the dog barks at the tree's bark, it's hard to play pool in the pool, etc.).


The word "Resolution" can mean the solution or end of something. For my fellow gamers and tecchies, it can refer to the quality of an image or monitor. Neither of these are what we're going for. The resolution definition we're referring to is "a firm decision to do or not to do something."


A resolution is not a hope. A resolution is not a want. A resolution is not a "maybe, if I get around to it." Nope, nope, nope! A resolution, a TRUE resolution, is a promise to yourself. It is a declaration of intent and a challenge of willpower. In our world today, New Year's Resolutions are a bit of a joke. Let's change that.


You may have heard that we're called to be "in the world, not of the world." This is a perfect opportunity to put that to the test. We live in a world that regurgitates the idea of New Year's Resolutions each year. Fine! We'll play along. But I would suggest that we do it the right way.


New Year's Resolutions, or any resolutions for that matter, are a great idea! But not these half-measures. Let's resolve to do something. Let's make a promise to ourselves, and let's stick to it. I brought this exact topic up with the Next Generation of Disciples last night, and I think their answers are worthy of sharing (anonymously, of course).


Some of the things shared as personal resolutions were being more charitable, reading more, and waking up at 5:30 each morning. Wow! Not only were these shared, but each person spoke an "I resolve" statement, making public their intentions and creating accountability partners of the whole group. I have to say, I was pretty impressed with their responses!


However, we didn't stop there. Just like we can resolve things as individuals, we can resolve them as groups, too. All of us at that NGD meeting on Sunday belong to 2 specific groups that we spoke about: The Catholic Church and the United States of America. Yes, we went there.


We spoke about how the Capitol violence this Wednesday had affected each of us, and we were open and honest about our feelings. We agreed that it was difficult, painful, and saddening to watch. We agreed that we saw images that were decidedly un-American. But we didn't stop at just talking.


I asked our group what they want to see from our country in the coming year, and how we can make those things happen. The answers were very interesting. As Americans, our group resolved to do things like "not side with violence," "not generalize/lump people into categories," and "be willing to dialogue with people who hold opposing viewpoints."


Those all sound like good ideas to me. The great thing about being part of a community is that you can change it from the inside! If people on the "other side" aren't doing these things, that's not an excuse to forsake them yourself. Be the difference! Make the change! Serve as the example! Take a break from toxic social media posts and engage the folks you disagree with in an honest (and CALM) dialogue.


Finally, we came to the Church. The Catholic Church is our Church, and we have the power to change and influence it through the way we live our lives. Again, we didn't just talk about this. We resolved to make these changes ourselves. Otherwise, it's meaningless! Talk is cheap.


Our group resolved to be focused while praying and actively avoid the temptation our phones provide during times of silence. We resolved to be proud to be Catholic, and to be willing to speak the Truths of our faith boldly. Finally, we resolved to echo Jesus when he spoke to the woman caught in adultery.


Remember what He said? He asked the woman if anyone had condemned her (after His famous "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" line), and she said no. In response, He said "neither do I condemn you." This clearly calls us to open wide the doors of the Church and extend the hand of mercy. But Jesus doesn't stop there.


Jesus goes on to say "now go, and sin no more." We resolved to show both sides of the Church this year, the side of mercy and the side of truth. Again, this is not a hope or a want. These are things we resolved to do. I'd recommend considering doing the same. Hold yourself accountable! You won't regret it!


I pray that 2021 is a better year than 2020 for all of us. I hope that we all find some time to rest and relax, hopefully in person, before too long. Finally, I resolve to keep praying for you throughout the year!


God Bless you,


Regis

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Dear Friends in Christ:


Today is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Each year I see this Feast as an opportunity to think about what baptism means in our lives, and specifically how am I living out my own baptism. Today we celebrate the moment when Jesus went down to the Jordan River and asked John the Baptist to baptize Him. The One who did not need to be saved from sin, identified as God’s beloved Son, chose to be baptized, as He says to John, “to fulfill all righteousness.” In being baptized, Jesus demonstrates His commitment to the Father’s Will. In response, God revealed through the voice from heaven and the descent of the Holy Spirit that this was the Messiah, the Anointed One, His beloved Son with whom He is well pleased.


From the moment of His baptism, Jesus is sent to perform His ministry of preaching the Kingdom of God. We begin what is often referred to as His public ministry. If you think about it, our baptism was a public beginning as well. We were brought to the church by our families, our life in Christ was begun, and we began to live as sons and daughters of God seeking to bring His light and His love into the lives of others.


I ask this EVERY YEAR…Do you actually know the date and place of your baptism? I think it is safe to say only a handful of us have that information in our heads. Sadly we do not celebrate our baptism date as we do our birthday date and, yet, it is the day we became a son or daughter of God and received the promise of eternal union with God! Given all that this date means in terms of our eternal life and status as (adopted) children of God, wouldn’t we want to celebrate it with great joy?


So, if you do not know your date of baptism, I encourage you to find it out, and to celebrate it with great joy for it marks the anniversary of your becoming a child of God.


Did you know Pope Francis proclaimed a “Year of St Joseph?” With all that was going on in December it may be that, we missed this announcement. Back on December 8, 2020, in his Apostolic Letter “Patris corde” (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis recalled the 150th anniversary of the declaration of Saint Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. To mark this significant occasion, the Holy Father has proclaimed a “Year of Saint Joseph” from December 8, 2020, to December 8, 2021.


Some of the terminology that Pope Francis used in this Apostolic Letter to describe Saint Joseph caught my attention, such as, a beloved father, tender and loving, obedient, and courageous.


The Holy Father wrote this Apostolic Letter amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which, he says, has helped us see more clearly the importance of “ordinary” people in a time when we have come to experience that “our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people, people often overlooked.” People who do not look for the limelight, who exercise patience and who offer hope to others every day. In this, they resemble Saint Joseph, “the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence,” who nonetheless played “an incomparable role in the history of salvation.”


In Joseph, “Jesus saw the tender love of God.” He also teaches each of us the importance of obedience to God’s will. Pope Francis writes, “Even through Joseph’s fears, God’s will, his history and his plan were at work. Joseph, then, teaches us that faith in God includes believing that he can work even through our fears, our frailties and our weaknesses. He also teaches us that amid the tempests of life, we must never be afraid to let the Lord steer our course. At times, we want to be in complete control, yet God always sees the bigger picture.”


Isn’t that something we all need to learn! Joseph did not always understand what was happening, but he was obedient to God. He put his faith in what God said to him through the angel. Despite the understandable fear and anxiety the situation might have given him, he was obedient to the Father’s Will. With his ‘fiat’ he protects Mary and Jesus and teaches his Son to “do the will of the Father.”


Joseph’s spiritual path “is not one that explains, but accepts.” Full of hope and with the gifts of the Holy Spirit at work in him, Joseph is able “to accept life as it is, with all its contradictions, frustrations and disappointments.” He teaches us that faith in God and His love for us enables us to face the moments of life with confidence. Joseph did not look for shortcuts to turn away from what life threw at him, rather, he confronted reality with open eyes. As the Pope wrote, “Just as God told Joseph: “Son of David, do not be afraid!,”, so he seems to tell us: “Do not be afraid!” We need to set aside all anger and disappointment, and to embrace the way things are, even when they do not turn out as we wish. Not with mere resignation but with hope and courage.”


The true gift of self…Happiness for Joseph involved a true gift of self: “In him, we never see frustration, but only trust,” writes Pope Francis. “His patient silence was the prelude to concrete expressions of trust.” Joseph stands out, therefore, as an exemplary figure for our time, in a world that “needs fathers,” and not “tyrants”; a society that “rejects those who confuse authority with authoritarianism, service with servility, discussion with oppression, charity with a welfare mentality, power with destruction.”


In this challenging time of COVID-19, we can turn to St. Joseph with great hope:


· We can turn to him as protector from harm, even as he protected Mary and the child Jesus from Herod’s wrath;

· St. Joseph was worker and provider for the Holy Family, so to him we can entrust ourselves and our nation in the face of unprecedented unemployment and economic distress;

· As model husband and father, we turn to St. Joseph at a time when good examples of both are so desperately needed. We can ask him to help strengthen our families – as well as the bonds of our “parish family” – at a time when these can be fragile.

· As patron of the dying, we can invoke the intercession of St. Joseph on all who are in their last moments of life, including the elderly and others with terminal disease.


More reflections to come in the year ahead on Saint Joseph and his role in our lives. The Pastoral Staff is now contemplating events and programs that will help us to understand better the role Saint Joseph plays in our own lives. Stay tuned…for now we encourage you to pray a daily prayer to St Joseph as Pope Francis ended his letter with:


Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. To you God entrusted his only Son; in you Mary placed her trust; with you Christ became man.

Blessed Joseph, to us too, show yourself a father and guide us in the path of life. Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage, and defend us from every evil. Amen.


There are available to us all Plenary Indulgences for the Year of St. Joseph…All this year until Dec. 8, 2021, the decree from the Apostolic Penitentiary, which is in charge of indulgences, has established that the faithful “following his example can daily strengthen their life of faith in the full fulfillment of God's will.” They will have “the opportunity to commit themselves, with prayers and good works, to obtain with the help of St. Joseph, head of the heavenly Family of Nazareth, comfort and relief from the serious human and social tribulations that today afflict the contemporary world.”


We can gain a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions — sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father, “with a soul detached from any sin” if we participate in the Year of St. Joseph in several specific ways that the Apostolic Penitentiary has established for us to gain the plenary indulgence.


· The plenary indulgence is granted to those who will meditate for at least 30 minutes on the Lord’s Prayer, or take part in a Spiritual Retreat of at least one day that includes a meditation on St. Joseph. “St. Joseph, an authentic man of faith, invites us”, the decree reads, “to rediscover our filial relationship with the Father, to renew fidelity to prayer, to listen and correspond with profound discernment to God’s will.”


· The indulgence can also be obtained by those who, following St. Joseph’s example, will perform a spiritual or corporal work of mercy. St. Joseph “encourages us to rediscover the value of silence, prudence and loyalty in carrying out our duties,” the decree notes.


· The recitation of the Holy Rosary in families and among engaged couples is another way of obtaining indulgences, in order that “all Christian families may be stimulated to recreate the same atmosphere of intimate communion, love and prayer that was in the Holy Family.”


· Everyone who entrusts their daily activity to the protection of St. Joseph, and every faithful who invokes the intercession of St. Joseph so that those seeking work can find dignifying work can also obtain the plenary indulgence. On 1 May 1955, Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of St. Joseph “with the intent that the dignity of work be recognized by all, and that it inspires social life and laws, based on the fair distribution of rights and duties.”


· The plenary indulgence is also granted to the faithful who will recite the Litany to St. Joseph (for the Latin tradition), or the Akathistos to St. Joseph (for the Byzantine tradition), or any other prayer to St. Joseph proper to the other liturgical traditions, for the persecuted Church ad intra and ad extra, and for the relief of all Christians suffering all forms of persecution. Because, the decree notes, “the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt shows us that God is there where man is in danger, where man suffers, where he runs away, where he experiences rejection and abandonment.”


In Light of Health Crisis

The Apostolic Penitentiary has also taken into account the worldwide situation regarding the health crisis. The office stated the “gift of the plenary indulgence is particularly extended to the elderly, the sick, the dying and all those who for legitimate reasons are unable to leave the house, who with a soul detached from any sin and with the intention of fulfilling, as soon as possible, the three usual conditions, in their own home or where the impediment holds them, they will recite an act of piety in honor of St. Joseph, trust in God the pains and discomforts of their life.”


DRIVE-THRU HOLY COMMUNION will be offered to our Virtual Family, once again, NEXT SUNDAY, January 17th from 1:30-2:30PM. We are pleased to be offering another opportunity for our parishioners who have yet to return to “in-person” Mass to come by and receive Holy Communion without even leaving your car!


These opportunities have been so well received and we know that many long to be able to receive Holy Communion so we are doing our best to offer it at least once a month.

It is as safe as we can possibly make it. You don’t even need to leave the car! Enter the Church Campus from the Main Street entrance and follow the signs around the Church. These signs will guide you through some preparation prayers, then to a station where Father Federico and I will be there one on each side of the car. Roll down the windows and receive the Holy Eucharist. Please be sure to consume Holy Communion before pulling away from us…then pull forward to do your prayer of thanksgiving and be on your way.


As always, please remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings as we build His kingdom here. Please know that I am praying for you, and I ask for your prayers for me, that together through the intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, and Blessed Father Michael J. McGivney, and united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world. As we end the Christmas Season today with this Baptism of the Lord, once again, I wish to say Merry Christmas! Stay safe!!!





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ABOUT US

Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish is a Catholic community in the heart of Cheshire. Together we can discover your path to a deeper, more fulfilling spiritual life.

Saturday Vigil Masses:

4PM St. Bridget Church

5PM St. Thomas Becket Church

Sunday Masses:

7:30AM St. Bridget Church

9AM St. Bridget Church

10AM St. Thomas Becket Church

11AM St. Bridget Church

Confession: Saturday 3PM St. Bridget Church

ADDRESS

203-272-3531

 

Parish Office

175 Main Street

Cheshire, CT 06410

North Campus

St. Bridget Church

175 Main Street 

Cheshire, CT 06410

South Campus

St. Thomas Becket Church

435 North Brooksvale Road

Cheshire, CT 06410

 

rectory@stbridgetcheshire.org

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