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:


Next Sunday launches Catholic Schools Week across the nation! The National Catholic Educational Association began this week of celebration back in 1974. It starts the last Sunday of January and continues for a whole week. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence. Service.” In a normal year we would celebrate this week starting with an in-person Open House, daily special events with our students, and other celebrations for families, parishioners, and the community. It is a way to highlight what Catholic Schools offer, the value Catholic education provides to our young people, and the positive impact Catholic Schools have in their community.


St. Bridget School is NO exception. We are very proud of our parish school! How blessed we are to have a parish school as part of the vibrancy and life of our parish family. I truly believe that parishes with a school are blessed in a particular way, as a parish school provides unique opportunities for building up families and the parish family that parishes without a school do not have. I have seen this firsthand throughout my priesthood and, most especially, during my time here, even during these past months!


Maybe you saw our banner in front of the rectory this week? This is no normal year. So we are marking Catholic Schools Week with a “virtual” open house! Won’t you join us?


We are very excited to be offering this virtual open house!!! We are working with a Story Real Studios in New Haven to produce a impactful, concise, and informative virtual open house! Of course, an in-person tour is available for anyone who wishes to come and see in-person what our school campus looks like, what the curriculum offers our students, and see firsthand our phenomenal faculty at work.


What makes me most proud about our parish school is that our young people learn daily that faith in God is at the heart of their total education and has an essential place in their everyday lives. It is, of course, obvious to all that not all of our Catholic young people have the opportunity to attend a Catholic school, as I myself did not. In fact, the majority of our school-age children attend public schools and a fair number of families choose to educate their children at home. In these cases, they rely on the religious education that is so diligently provided in our parish and in our family homes. A word of gratitude must be offered to our many catechists and our Religious Education Staff who during this pandemic have created ways to continue to form our young people in the faith even remotely.


For now, as we mark Catholic Schools Week in our parish school, we as a family of faith can only offer our admiration for the many fine teachers, administrators, staff, and benefactors of our parish school. They deserve our thanks for their commitment, and for the many sacrifices they make to teach and form the young people of our parish. And, I must personally express my gratitude to the many parents and families who make it possible, at times making sacrifices, for their children to attend Catholic schools. Without the high level of parental involvement that our school enjoys, they could not achieve the success we have seen for so many years.


Though NOT a product of Catholic Schools myself, I AM a strong proponent of Catholic Schools and not just simply because I am a priest. I am a proponent of Catholic Schools because I have witnessed firsthand what makes Catholic Schools, and particularly our own St. Bridget School, such a wonderful center for faith based learning and academic excellence.


This past year we welcomed our new Principal, Dr. Nancy Testa. I can honestly say that having a Principal with her expertise and of her caliber, tells me that the best is yet to come for our parish school! Great things await our school! She has already made a significant impact on our school family and for that we are most grateful.


Dr. Testa and I want ALL parishioners to know that St. Bridget School is ready and willing to assist in educating your child or children. St. Bridget School offers students a faith-based, challenging curriculum designed to promote academic excellence in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and grades 1 through 8. Committed educators guide our students through the day with lessons in faith development, math, language arts, social studies, geography, science, Spanish (grades PreK-8), music, art, and physical education.


We are thrilled with the presence of three religious sisters in our day-to-day operations with two Sisters, Sister Francesca and Sister Jeanne d’Arc, from the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist on faculty and, of course, Sister Patricia Cigrand, ASCJ, our Pastoral Associate from the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, whose office is located in the school. In addition, Father Federico and I visit classrooms and visit our students as often as we can and we are privileged to celebrate Mass with the entire school community EVERY Friday at 9a.m. Even now during the pandemic, with the help of technology and our amazing SmartBoards, the entire school “attends” Mass on Friday right from their classrooms while one grade comes to Mass in-person to assist with the readings.


St. Bridget School is also blessed with an amazing School Board made up of current parents, community leaders, parishioners, and YES alumni! The School Board is very active in working with Dr. Testa and myself to ensure that the school has the tools and resources necessary to fulfill its mission!


St. Bridget School stands in the long tradition the Catholic Church has in educating our young people to a higher degree of success. St. Bridget School is one of the highest scoring schools within the Archdiocese of Hartford in standardized tests. Catholic schools, and it is true for our parish school, establish a spirit of faith, family, and community in their students. The education our students receive at St. Bridget School stays with them their entire lives and can be the basis from which they orient themselves with the world. It also encourages them to remain grounded in the Catholic faith while they reach to fulfill their dreams. Our students enter our school to learn, and leave to serve as disciples of Jesus.


Catholic schools expect and guide their students to become successful citizens by encouraging them to develop their God given potential and use the talents God has blessed them with to further the building of their character. From this strong foundation, we build our students’ character, their understanding of the world around them, and a strong sense of faith while we model for them how to see the needs of the less fortunate and motivate them to respond to those needs.


We are charged with exceeding national standards and so continue to implement curriculum that provides a challenging course, grounded in basic skills necessary for students to develop foundational skills that lead to higher, more complex thinking skills, rooted in Gospel values, and integrating Catholic social teaching across all disciplines, ensuring the development of the whole child. Students graduating from St. Bridget School exceed state and national benchmarks, evidenced by our exemplary standardized test scores and high performance on high school placement exams. Most importantly, we truly educate the whole child: academically, socially, and spiritually.


What will you find in St. Bridget School for your child or children?

· Faith Based Learning with a Real World Approach

· Spanish Language from PreK3 to Grade 8

· Advanced Studies and Curriculum Resources

· Smart Boards, 1 to 1 Chromebooks in the Middle School, iPads and other technology in all other grades

· Athletic Fields and a Gymnasium

· Sports Programs including Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Cross-Country, Cheerleading, and Soccer

· Air-Conditioning throughout our facility

· Extra-curricular activities such as Robotics Club, LEGO Club, & more

· A Diverse Student Body

· Small Class Sizes with Differentiated Learning at ALL Grade Levels

· Enrichment Programs and Family Events

· Tuition Assistance

· Weekly Mass as a school family and Adoration


I want every family in our parish, with children of school age children, to feel that St. Bridget School is an option for them. Join us for our Virtual Open House beginning NEXT SUNDAY at www.stbridgetschool.org and see for yourself what our parish school can offer to your child(ren).


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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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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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