Reflections and news from our Pastor and Youth Minister

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

I hope you all had a blessed and Merry Christmas! My family and I were thankfully able to relax, kick back, and just enjoy some time together around the tree. A welcome respite after a year that just wouldn't quit (up to and including a windstorm on Christmas Day)! Now, we look towards 2021 and hope for better days ahead.

Today, I'd like to talk with you a bit about something I experienced very vividly in 2020. There's not a name for it that I'm aware of, so I'll call it "Eucharistic Anguish." That sounds super intense, but stick with me! I promise that this is a good thing, not a bad thing. Put very simply, Eucharistic Anguish is the knowledge that you're not prepared to receive the Eucharist.

Is that surprising to hear? That there are times when it is better for us NOT to receive the Eucharist? I know it surprised me the first time I heard it. It's uncomfortable! Not only because we don't want to miss out on the opportunity to receive Jesus in bodily form, but also because we feel we might stand out if we don't receive the Eucharist.

To understand this better, a bit of context is needed. First off, let's be absolutely clear on what the Eucharist is: The Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. It's not a symbol, a metaphor, or a substitute. The Eucharist IS Jesus, through and through. It is impossible to fully comprehend this, but thinking of it in these terms helps us realize just how respectful we are to be of this great gift.

This is definitely more of an issue in America than in other countries. Some priest friends of mine have spent time in South America, and they've mentioned multiple times how many people at Mass don't receive the Eucharist. But why is this? Are they unaware of what it is? Do they not appreciate it? Not at all. In fact, just the opposite.

These people realize that they are not prepared to receive the Eucharist. But what does that mean, "not prepared"? Did they just forget to stand up and walk down the aisle? Nope. Being prepared to receive the Eucharist is about more than just standing up at the right time and fasting for an hour before Mass.

Let's look to our frequent contributor, Saint Paul, for some guidance here. In 1 Corinthians 11:29, he tells us that "those who eat and drink without discerning the Body of Christ eat and drink judgement on themselves." Yikes! That's a bit disquieting. In this case, "discerning the Body of Christ" means ensuring we are prepared to receive Him.

But how do we ensure this preparedness? The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has us covered there. In their 1996 "Guidelines for the Reception of Holy Communion," they state that "a person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession."

Translated: we should not receive the Eucharist when we are consciously in a state of grave or mortal sin. In short, these are sins with grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent. If you have a question about whether or not a sin is mortal, it's a good idea to discuss that with a priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Again, I know this is an uncomfortable truth! But it's that very discomfort that's brought me a greater appreciation for the Eucharist this year. You see, that "Eucharistic Anguish" I referenced earlier is a force for positive change in our lives. Earlier this year, after a discussion with a priest, I made the decision to only receive the Eucharist when I felt I was truly prepared.

I, like you, am a sinner. There were absolutely times when I was not prepared, and I followed through with my decision not to receive. And you know something? It was the worst! Anguish is exactly the word for it.

As I walked down the aisle during Communion, arms crossed over my chest as a symbol that I sought a blessing, not the Eucharist (yes, this is what to do if you're at Mass and not receiving the Eucharist), I felt a spiritual pain.

In fact, I felt more of a yearning to receive Jesus into my heart then than ever before. Facing the priest, wishing more than anything that I could receive the Eucharist, I felt the greatest appreciation for Jesus' sacrifice that I ever had. It's kind of like going to the chiropractor: painful, but so beneficial.

The benefit to this was that I became much more mindful of my lifestyle and whether or not I was prepared to receive the Eucharist. I started going to Confession more often, making honest attempts to root out sins I consistently struggle with, and allowed myself to focus more and more on what taking Communion actually means.

Am I now perfect and sinless? Absolutely not. But I'd be lying if I said that this discomfort hasn't been a net positive in my spiritual and moral life. Now, don't hear what I'm not saying. I don't want less people to receive the Eucharist at Mass. That's not my goal! In fact, I'd love for everyone to receive Jesus as often as possible.

What I pray that we all embrace is a renewed knowledge of just what the Eucharist actually is. What it MEANS. Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ isn't a box to check off as part of our Sunday routine. It shouldn't be a given. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that the Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life," and THAT is what I pray for us all to take to heart.

Don't be ashamed to take this plunge. Yes, it is painful. Yes, it does bring discomfort. But, in the end, it will give you a greater appreciation for the Eucharist, and you'll most likely end up receiving Jesus even more than you did beforehand. I pray that the Lord will guide your judgement on this and all Eucharistic matters.

I continue to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May God bless you,


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Dear Friends in Christ:

This weekend after Christmas I am filled with gratitude! Even in a time of pandemic I am awed at the blessings of God in my life and in the life of our parish family! Thank you to Father Federico, Sister Patricia, our Pastoral Staff and our Parish Staff for their tremendous efforts this past year!

Thank you to Lynn Krieg and Jim Mitchell and to our entire Parish Pastoral Council who have done tremendous work in helping us to reopen since June and in keeping the list of Mass attendees as well as coordinating volunteers for each and every Mass and event.

Thank you to Santa Fe Council 2978 of our Knights of Columbus for their support throughout the year, assistance with reopening, and assistance with special events like this past Sunday at our Confession and Eucharist event. They deserve a lot of credit from their efforts this past Sunday being out there in the snow directing the 166 cars that came through for Confession and the 115 or so that came for Holy Communion at our Confessions & Eucharist event!! Look at the line of cars. Thank God we used Cherry Street entrance and not Main Street. The Knights even had to start a double line up the driveway just to get more cars off the road so we wouldn’t back up onto Route 70. The turnout was AMAZING!!!

Thank you to Julia Atwood and our other musicians who shared their talents to enhance our celebrations of Christmas. Special gratitude to Julia for the phenomenal virtual concert and for her tremendous efforts to coordinate putting together a music ministry piece and a St. Bridget School student chorus piece. Thank you to Steve Tine and the Tine Family for their tremendous efforts in putting these two pieces together. You can hear our students sing Silent Night, and our music ministry members sing Christ our Light Has Come, which are both posted on our Facebook and YouTube pages.

Thank you to Team Holy Spirit…Sandra Centorino, Victoria Clarizio, Frank Johnson, and Steve Tine…who from the very beginning back in March have worked together to assist us in communicating the Good News, programs and events, and Holy Mass with our parishioners by using the technology of today!

Thank you to our phenomenal decorating committee and volunteers for their tremendous work in decorating our three worship spaces for Christmas and a word of special gratitude to Charlie Kurtz of CK Greenhouses for donating so many poinsettias!

Thank you to the members of our Contemporary Music Group who came caroling last Sunday night at the rectory!

Thank you to all who sent Christmas cards, cookies, and other delicious treats to the rectory during the past weeks. Your thoughtfulness and generosity are very much appreciated.

Thank you to EVERYONE who came together at our 17 Masses Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. I am so pleased we offered so many opportunities and that the people of God responded by coming! It is my hope that each person who came to celebrate Christmas Eve and Day with our parish family felt welcomed, loved, and encouraged. Merry Christmas once again!

A special word of gratitude to all who participated in our Advent Giving Tree…It is truly amazing how much we can do together as one family of faith and this was once again witnessed in your generosity to our Advent Giving Tree. THIS YEAR WAS MUCH DIFFERENT but you all did your part to respond to the needs of our neighbors and I cannot thank you enough for your phenomenal generosity! I thank you for the OVER 700 gifts that were distributed to those in need. Thanks to your generosity and care for the less fortunate, their Christmases will be brighter, they will know that hope is never cancelled, and the little ones will smile with joy! Your constant support and generosity to the less fortunate continues to be a great hallmark of our parish family, and for that I thank you!

A word of special gratitude goes to Tina Kurtz who coordinated the program again this year and to the many helpers who worked with her to make sure that even in a time of pandemic, we would be able to meet the needs of our neighbors in need. They created the SignUpGenius, made out the stars for the tree, and worked together so beautifully to ensure this Christmas brought joy into the lives of others. Typically this program requires months of planning, preparation, execution, and delivering, and I know this year it was even more time-consuming. To ALL THE VOLUNTEERS I say thank you!

I have said it before, it truly takes a village to accomplish a task so large, and the Advent Giving Tree is proof it sure does. To those who helped Tina in this effort including Devorah Olewnik, Cee Cee and David Johnson, Stacie Nole, Margaret Hardner & Steve Burner, Nancy & Bruce Humiston, Heather & Jimmy Alix, and Leah Judge. Thanks, too, to the students from our parish who took time to cut out the stars for the tree.

Your generosity provided gifts and gift cards to the 170 families served by the Cheshire Community Food Pantry, as well as 130 gifts to the clients of Saint Vincent DePaul Soup Kitchen, 30 gifts to Carolyn’s Place, and 19 gifts to Marbridge residents. Your care for others also made it possible to serve new families who became clients of the Food Pantry during the weeks we were coordinating this effort! The responses of those who benefited from your generosity was truly heartfelt. Again, please know of my personal gratitude to each and every one of you who give from your hearts to support those in need.

This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The Sunday that falls in the Octave of the Solemnity of Christmas is always dedicated to celebrating the Holy Family. The Readings for this Sunday focus on the rights and responsibilities of family members toward each other, and the Gospel focuses on Saint Joseph, who cared for and protected the Blessed Mother and infant Jesus through the dangerous early years of Jesus’ childhood. The primary purpose of The Feast of the Holy Family is to present the Holy Family as a model for Christian families.

Family life today is experiencing a crisis of stability, partly caused by economic hardship, but often by other factors like lack of generosity, or too much insistence on getting one’s own way. Today’s feast invites us to meditate on our own contribution to family life. The future of the Church and of society begins in the family—yours and mine. This is the first great fruit of the Incarnation. It should give all of us hope!

If there have been rifts in your family in the past which have separated you from one part of your family, perhaps in 2021 these relationships can be mended. If there are relatives you haven’t seen or spoken with in some time through neglect, perhaps in 2021 you can reach out to them and let them know you care. And for those family members within our “safe bubble” (immediate family members we live with) give them a hug, a smile, or just tell them how much you love them!

How fitting it is for US then on this Feast of the Holy Family, in collaboration with our Knights of Columbus Santa Fe Council #2978 that we are inviting ALL families in our parish to, once again, celebrate this feast day by a special consecration of your family to the Holy Family. It is our hope that consecrating your family to the Holy Family will help your individual family to be strengthened in the bond of love and that through this spiritual exercise we as a parish family will, likewise, be strengthened in grace and love.

The Knights of Columbus together with your Priests invite each family of our Parish to be consecrated to the Holy Family and to devote yourselves to the ideal model of familial love set forth by Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Consecrating yourselves to the Holy Family provides you great intercessors to help you as a family to follow their model of living lives obedient to God’s Will, strong in faith, persevering in prayer, diligent in work, and generous towards those in need.

We will invite all families to consider standing up at the end of Mass this weekend and reciting the Prayer of Consecration to the Holy Family. Our local council has purchased prayer cards for you to use during those Masses and take home with you.

The New Year is approaching! This coming week we celebrate and enter into a New Year, 2021! Wow, how time flies by. Don’t forget January 1st is also a Holy Day of Obligation, the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. (Of course due to the pandemic all are dispensed from the obligation.) We will offer Mass at 5PM on Thursday, December 31st, and at 8:30 and 10:30AM on Friday, January 1, 2021.

CERTAINLY WE ARE ALL LOOKING TO 2021 TO BE A YEAR OF HOPE AND HEALING, but let us also enter into this New Year mindful that a new year can be so much more. It can be a time of new enthusiasm, it can be a time of new energy, it can be a time of new opportunity. It is also a time to discern how God is calling us to live out our call as missionary disciples today as individuals and as a family of faith here at Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish.

So, as we embark on this New Year in God’s grace, let us pray that we will do so in the understanding that there is nothing that should hinder us from following the Lord completely, strengthening our relationship with Him, and serving Him in our daily lives.

Last year I shared 8 suggestions for New Year’s Resolutions and they were well received, so here they are again:

1) Read the Bible… Can you read a chapter a day during your prayer time?

2) Get to know the Saints…go to Amazon and purchase a book on the lives of the Saints or start with just one Saint perhaps your patron for Confirmation. Learn about their lives and get to know them as spiritual guides.

3) Come to Eucharistic Adoration…it happens every Friday from 1-2PM in Saint Bridget Church. Come by for a visit with the Lord Jesus.

4) Commit to daily prayer…make a commitment to the Lord to spend time each day in prayer no matter what time of day, but make a commitment and keep it. Read the book I Heard God Laugh and learn from Matthew Kelly’s own experience, or read Do Something Beautiful for God and be inspired by the daily reflections of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Both books were available at the Christmas Masses.

5) Celebrate the Sacraments…come to Confession more! Participate more frequently in the Eucharist! If you are doing both perhaps you can increase your prayer time?

6) Join a group…perhaps one of our Adult Ed Programs, our Parenting Circle, a book club, a bible study, or one of the many other opportunities we have in our parish.

7) Start fasting…fasting isn’t just for Lent, it is a way for us to be conformed to Christ every day. Perhaps you can start by performing some act of penance every Friday throughout the year! It is only 52! You can do it.

8) Forgive…wow. There it is. “I knew he would throw that in there,” I could hear some saying right now. Yes I did. “He doesn’t understand how hard it is,” perhaps some are thinking. Yes I do. We all need to realize that forgiveness is a choice and not a feeling. Let’s all make a resolution to forgive one person for whom we have been harboring resentment and add them to our prayer intentions. It’s a good start!

As we continue to move into the New Year be sure to stay connected to the parish. Be sure you have visited our user-friendly website at Through the website you will find out what is happening in our parish family. You can also “like” us on Facebook @stbridgetofswedenparish, and don’t forget to sign-up for our parish app by texting APP to 88202 and searching for our parish through the application.

We are really hoping to better utilize these means of communication as a way to get information out to you in a timely manner. Of course, for more information on the life of our parish family and the many spiritual and social activities and events throughout the year, including a parish calendar, simply visit the parish website.

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. Merry Christmas once again! Stay safe!!!

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Dear Friends in Christ:

Merry Christmas! I know this Christmas is like none ever before, but it is still Christmas!!! It is a day for us to remember God’s merciful love found in the infant Jesus! As we gather, we remember the words of our Advent banners, Hope is never cancelled…Jesus is still coming! We gather to celebrate the birth of our Hope, the Light of the World, the Prince of Peace, the Savior of the World, Emmanuel (God is with us). At Christmas we celebrate that in the person of Jesus, God humbled himself and became flesh. God-made-man enters the world as a newborn baby.

This is the Good News we gather to celebrate today! I thank you for your presence here with us today! I extend a warm and loving welcome to all who are with us to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Since we last gathered for this celebration, so much has happened throughout the world and in our church, and yet here we are. We are here because we know deep in our hearts that no matter what is happening in the world or the church, nothing compares to the significance of what we celebrate here this night/day. We are here because we know deep within us is a longing that is only filled by the One whose birth we celebrate this night/day.

We welcome ALL who come here to celebrate this great moment. We welcome parishioners and visitors, male and female, young and old, rich and poor, gay and straight, married, divorced and single. We welcome all who come to this celebration filled with hope and joy:

· Those who come seeking like the wise men…

· Those who come surprised like the shepherd…

· Those who come distracted like the innkeeper and his wife…

· Those who are searching for meaning in their lives…

· Those who are grieving the loss of their spouse, parent or child, or another significant person in their life, and are in need of the comfort and peace that only Jesus can give…

· Those who don’t believe that Jesus is for them…

· Those who don’t feel worthy of God’s love…

· Those who are hurting and in pain…

· Those who are not sure why they are here but they are…

· Those who are here to give their faith another shot…

· Those who don’t believe in God…

We welcome you ALL. You all BELONG HERE! You all mean something to Jesus Christ!

No matter what brought you to Mass today, we welcome YOU and we pray that all will come to know the joy, the peace, the hope, the love, and the mercy this Babe of Bethlehem brings into the world.

Just as the shepherds were led to a humble stable in Bethlehem to worship the infant Jesus, so have we been led to be together at this time in history, amidst this pandemic, and here in this place to say with the angels: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests!”

Think of the power of what we celebrate in this infant baby. For us, for each and every one of us, for all people of all time, this child is born. God gives His Son for you and for me! He sends His Son into the world for us! He is the One who calls us to Himself in the midst of the struggles of life. He is our strength and our stronghold. In the midst of any pain or suffering of life, He is there to give us comfort and strength. In the midst of fractured relationships, financial difficulties, a pandemic, and any other battle or stress we know He is the One that is there for us, guiding us through it, and giving us strength and grace!

The past year has been a time of constant change, continued questions, struggles, disappointments, and uncertainty. This past year has shown us the need we truly have in our hearts for our faith! This past year has opened our eyes to recognize how much our faith means to us, how our faith is our strength, and how without Jesus we could never have dealt with this pandemic and all that it entails.

As we gather to celebrate the birth of our Savior, I am grateful to the people of our parish family. Even in the midst of a pandemic, I witnessed the people of our parish family seeking to grow into a deeper relationship with Jesus. Even in the midst of a pandemic, I witnessed countless people come together to help us reopen the church so we could resume public worship. Even in the midst of a pandemic, I saw the strength we have when we are united together. You see God is at work in our midst. He shows us this every day. Sometimes we need a little nudge to see His presence but, once we

do, it is life-changing!

As we look to the New Year, filled with more hope than ever before perhaps, we are tremendously excited to see how God will continue to work in our midst, how God will continue to deepen the faith and commitment of our parishioners, and how God will bless our parish family as we continue to hear His voice and follow Him!

May the birth of Jesus help our parish family to be a spiritual home and a center of missionary outreach where all may come to be nourished in the midst of their journey. May all who come here feel at home in our parish family!

On behalf of myself, Father Federico, Deacon Iadarola, Deacon Wilber, Sister Patricia, the entire pastoral staff, our parish staff, our Parish Trustees, the Parish Finance Council, and the Parish Pastoral Council, I offer our prayers for a blessed Christmas for you and your family.

Thank you for making Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish such a vibrant community of faith, and thank you for your love evidenced in so many ways throughout the year, especially this year. We offer our special prayers for all those who find these celebrations difficult, especially for those who have recently grieved the death of a loved one. Know you hold a special place in our prayers at this time and that we pray the Christ-child will grant you His comfort and His peace. To all we say Merry Christmas! Rejoice on this O holy night, when the stars are brightly shining, it is the night of the dear Savior’s birth! Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices! O night divine! O night when Christ was born!

As always, 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.

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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




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

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