Reflections and news from our Pastor and Youth Minister

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

Dear Friends in Christ:

First and foremost…on this Mother’s Day Weekend I offer to all mothers, grandmothers, aunts, Godmothers, and to all who fill the role of mother in other people’s lives a very HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! Please know that each of you are in our prayers.

How appropriate it is that in this month of May in which we honor the Blessed Mother Mary we also honor our own mothers, grandmothers, and all who love us in a motherly way by celebrating Mother’s Day. With gratitude, let us offer a prayer of thanks to our Blessed Mother. Let us take a moment to thank her for her motherly care. Let us also take the time to say thanks to God for the gift of our own mothers, grandmothers, and motherly figures in our lives—both those living and those deceased—who helped us to become who we are today.

May Mary, the Mother of our Savior, and Mother of us all, pray for us. Happy Mother’s Day!

A word of HAPPIEST CONGRATULATIONS to over 100 of our third graders who received their First Holy Communion and to the over 100 high schoolers who received the Sacrament of Confirmation last weekend. It was such a joy for me and Father O’Neill to see our young people filled with excitement as they received their Sacraments. What a true privilege it is for us as priests to journey with our young people during their preparation for the Sacraments. We pray for these fine young people, in a special way, that they may always follow the call of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and walk as children of God spreading His love in their lives and the lives of those they encounter. Again, happiest congratulations to our young people and please know your parish family loves you!

I wish to express my profound gratitude to all involved in preparing our young people for the Sacraments. Thank you to their parents and godparents, first and foremost, for fulfilling the promise you made on the day of their baptism to bring them up in the practice of the faith. Thank you to their teachers and catechists from our Parish School and our Religious Education Program who journeyed with them, taught them, shared your faith with them, and prepared them for the celebration of the Sacraments!

Also a word of deep gratitude to all involved in our Religious Education Program! As the celebrations of First Holy Communion and Confirmation are now complete and our formal classes for religious education have come to the end of another year of growing in the faith, I wish to express my deep and profound gratitude to Mrs. Donna Yatcko for all that she does as our Director of Religious Education. Her joy for bringing others, young and older, closer to the Lord and guiding others to grow into a deeper relationship with the Lord is evident in her daily work with our parish children and adults. I am most grateful to her, as I am to her office assistant Elsa Loehmann, and our site-coordinator Doreen Festa, who work so hard to ensure our program runs smoothly and efficiently.

To our many volunteer catechists who give of their own time and talent as they share our faith with our young people I say thank you! We could never educate all of our children in the faith without the help of the countless men, women, and high school students who assist in our religious education program. May you all be blessed for your generosity of spirit and the joy you bring into the lives of God’s children!

Today is also Good Shepherd Sunday, and World Day of Prayer for Vocations! The Gospel this Fourth Sunday of Easter always features a Gospel referring to Jesus as the Good Shepherd. While that Gospel passage this weekend (Jn. 10:27-30) is the shortest (only five sentences), it packs a powerful message.

First, Jesus counts among his followers his “sheep” those who hear and recognize his voice. So how do we hear and recognize Jesus’ voice? By getting to know Jesus as a companion and friend through prayer and worship. By reading the Scriptures, particularly the Gospels which are about His life and ministry, which give His teachings and sayings, and which share with us about His ultimate sacrifice of love for us. By receiving Him in the Eucharist when we receive His most precious Body and Blood and by receiving His forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which helps us to know Him personally.

Secondly we have within this short passage Jesus’ promise of eternal life to us when He says: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” Wow! What a gift! Jesus, who Himself passed through death to life in the great “Paschal Mystery” offers us who follow Him the very same. That is great cause for our being overwhelmed with joy this Easter Season!

As always, remember to pray for our parish families 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 united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world.

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Dear Friends in Christ:

As we continue on our journey through the weeks of the Easter Season I cannot help but reflect upon the idea of JOY. I have written about this topic in the past but I think it is one that is good to reflect on each year during this holy time. Why? Because this is the JOYFUL season of Easter.

We are not only an Easter people but we are also called to be a JOYFUL and JOYFILLED people. I often say to the young of our parish on their way out of Mass, and perhaps to a few adults as well--maybe I have even said it to you?--SMILE! When we leave Mass we should be reflecting the joy of what we just celebrated. The Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, is cause for JOY! The resurrection of Jesus is cause for JOY! So why don’t we all come out of Mass with huge smiles on our faces? Perhaps that is a question for us all to ponder.

The five Prefaces of Easter—that is, the first part of the Eucharistic Prayer leading us into the “Holy, Holy”—all contain the phrase “overcome with paschal joy.” So what is Paschal joy, anyway? Well, first of all, the word “paschal” comes from the Latin word pascha, which in turn is from the Hebrew word pesach, which we translate in English as “Passover.” For Christians, the Jewish festival of Passover has been transformed into Easter.

We as Catholic Christians celebrate the fact that Jesus passed over from death to life and so enabled us to pass over with him from an old way of life to a new and better existence, and to pass over from earth to heaven.

Now you might be thinking, “Sure, I’m joyful about Easter. But overcome with joy? Isn’t that going too far?” Well we certainly don’t look overcome with paschal joy when we are leaving Mass, but we should!

Don’t forget that we Christians have available supernatural joy, one of the fruits of the Spirit listed by Saint Paul (along with love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; Galatians 5:22).

With the Holy Spirit, our surroundings may be crumbling around us or threatening our plans, and we may feel some inner anxiety, but alongside it we can feel joy. The gifts of the Holy Spirit do not diminish with our weakness. In fact, sometimes they shine more in us when we feel lowest.

So, back to the question—how can we be “overcome with joy” here on earth, especially knowing that sorrow will always be along with it, as least to some extent? One way to be overcome with joy is to praise God. In fact, at Mass the words in the Easter Prefaces about being “overcome with joy” are followed by a reference to praise: “Therefore, overcome with paschal joy, every land, every people exults in your praise and even the heavenly Powers, with the angelic hosts, sing together the unending hymn of your glory, as they acclaim: Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts…”

I should also point out that we can praise the Lord outside of Mass too. If we do so on a regular basis by taking our eyes off ourselves and putting them on God, we just might find ourselves getting closer to the kind of rejoicing known in heaven, and overcome with paschal joy.

Try living your life according to JOY:

J—putting Jesus first

O—putting others and their needs second

Y—putting your interests and desires last

Let’s try it! If we all try it, maybe we will see more smiles during Mass and on the way out of Church in the weeks to come! Let’s be a JOY filled people!

This weekend we as a parish family are certainly filled with joy as we celebrate the Sacrament of First Holy Communion for our young people on Saturday and this afternoon we celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation for our young adults. What a powerful weekend it is! What an opportunity for us to rejoice! What a cause for JOY!

How fitting it is that this weekend in the Gospel Jesus says to us, “Feed my lambs,” “Tend my sheep,” and “Feed my sheep.” Of course we know this call from Jesus can only come after we have strengthened our own relationship with Jesus. Prior to these statements Jesus did ask Peter “do you love me?” Prayer has to come first. When St. Monica asked the Bishop Ambrose what to do about her pagan son, he told her, “Before you talk to Augustine about God, make sure you talk to God about Augustine.” Great advice. Prayer first--especially before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Hear him ask, “Do you love me?” Then go forth and feed His sheep; help to draw others closer to the Lord. This is not a call only for those in the priesthood or religious life, this is a call for all of us who call ourselves Christians. We all have to do our part to feed His sheep.

This weekend we rejoice that the parents of our First Holy Communion students and our Confirmation candidates have done their part in helping their children to know Jesus and have a relationship with Him. They have fulfilled their promise which they made at the baptism of their children to train them in the practice of the Faith and to bring their child up to keep God’s commandments as Christ has taught us by loving God and neighbor. They have fed His sheep, their children. To all parents I say “thank you!” May we all see this weekend as an opportunity to reflect on how each of us can fulfill this call!

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 united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world!

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Dear Friends in Christ:

Happy Easter! We continue to bask in the glory of what we celebrated last weekend, namely, the resurrection of Jesus Christ! He is Risen! Alleluia!

The Church celebrates Easter over the next 50 days! We conclude this great Season of Easter on Pentecost Sunday, June 9th.

As I reflect on the experiences of Lent and, in particular, Holy Week, I am filled with gratitude to so many who pitched in and helped enhance our celebrations. I wish to take a moment to express my profound gratitude:

1. To Father O’Neill, Deacon Iadarola, Deacon Wilber, Sister Patricia, and the entire Pastoral Staff. I am so thankful to them for all of their work. The weeks of Lent and, in particular, Holy Week, are an intense time for collaborating to ensure our programs, activities, events, and, most importantly, our liturgies are prepared to best serve the people of our parish family and our visitors. I am so thankful for the many ways each of the members of our Pastoral Staff have worked to help make our journey truly a time in which we were able to Encounter Christ. For all their efforts, which often go unseen, for all they do to discern the needs of our parishioners in our weekly meetings, and for their advice and counsel to me, I am especially grateful to each of them.

2. To our parish staff…we are truly blessed with a dedicated team who work so hard each day to best serve the parishioners of our parish, assist the clergy, and ensure our buildings and grounds are cared for and properly maintained. I say thank you to each of them!

3. Thank you to Julia Atwood and all involved in our music ministry. The music this Season of Lent and Holy Week was just so moving! I have received countless comments and emails from parishioners saying how beautiful the music was and how it really enhanced our celebrations. The special choir formed for Holy Week was simply amazing as well! I am grateful to Julia, to Kathy Mahmood, to Alan Smith, to our choir members, to the contemporary ensemble members, to our cantors, and to each of our parishioners who shared their musical talents with our parish family. The music was superb! Thank you!

4. Thank you to all those who helped in preparing our liturgies. Thank you to our altar servers, lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, as well as those who assisted behind the scenes to get us ready for each of the liturgies and Masses throughout Holy Week. A special and profound word of gratitude, on behalf of us all, to Tony Ginnetti who works so hard as our sacristan! You may not see him very often but I can tell you having someone serve our parish as a sacristan is beyond helpful to the clergy and all those involved in the liturgies. He is always aware of what is happening and makes sure our liturgies go so smoothly! I am most grateful!

5. Thank you to our Decorating Committee who worked to make sure both of our churches were ready for the celebration of Easter! The Holy Week time is a little stressful as a lot of changes need to be made. There is not a lot of time for the volunteers to come in and prepare our altars, but they do it so well. I love watching as they do their work and seeing such talent. This year our churches looked especially beautiful, many of you commented the same sentiments. For that I say “thank you” to all those involved in the decorating committee!

6. Thank you to those who sent cards and dropped off treats at the rectory. Your kindness is much appreciated. We thank you also for your kind emails of support and your posts in social media. For your deep faith and the way you reach out to others day in and day out I say, “thank you!”

A special word of happiest congratulations to Kayleigh Hinkle who was baptized at the Easter Vigil, and happiest congratulations also to Erin Brenes, Christopher Jones, Jacob Jones, and Emily Negron who were received into the Holy Catholic Church at the Vigil as well. It was a very moving ceremony. In fact, it was particularly moving for me this year and I continue to hear from others that they had the same feeling. What a blessing it is for us to welcome these new parishioners into the faith and especially into our parish family! Count on our continued prayers and please pray for us!

As we think about Easter and are moved to gratitude to God for the blessing of His Son, His Son’s Resurrection which conquers sin and death, let us also remember the many throughout the world who suffer persecution for their faith in Jesus Christ. We only have to think of the news of Easter Day as word spread throughout the world of the attacks in Sri Lanka killing and injuring those gathered to celebrate the Mass of Easter. Let us pray for the people of Sri Lanka.

Let there be no mistake, though, that Christians are being persecuted around the whole world. Someone pointed out to me on Easter Sunday that the New York Times had no mention of Easter! Even though thousands and thousands of their readers believe in Jesus Christ and His Resurrection, there was no mention of it. Can you imagine? How sad.

This weekend we celebrate, as we do every year on the Sunday following Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday...This devotion was initiated through the writings of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, a young Polish nun, who sought to remind others that God is merciful and forgiving and we too must show mercy and forgiveness. Her writings call us to a deeper understanding that God’s love is unlimited and available to everyone — especially the greatest sinners. The message of mercy is that God loves us — all of us — no matter how great our sins. He wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Thus, all will come to share His joy.

This Sunday from 2-3 PM we will have Eucharistic Adoration during which Deacon Wilber will lead a prayer service and there will also be the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. At 3PM we will have the recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy followed by Benediction and veneration of the relic of Saint Faustina. Please consider joining us for this devotion invoking God's mercy.

Saint Bridget School NEWS…On March 31st in this column I announced that our Principal Mrs. Jennifer Furlong has decided to resign as Principal of Saint Bridget School. In light of her resignation, I announced that I am forming a Search Committee to assist me in selecting the next principal for Saint Bridget Parish School. Working with School Board Chair, Dr. Margaret Palmeri, I wish to publicly thank those in our parish and community who have agreed to served on our search committee:

Dr. Margaret Palmeri, Chair of Search Committee

Mr. Carey Dupont, President and Chief Administrator, Saint Paul Catholic High School, Bristol

Mr. Mark Izzo, Trustee of Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish, Business Manager Derby Schools

Mrs. Joan Roczynski, Parishioner and Retired Educator

Mr. Shawn Simpson, Parishioner and Principal, Alcott Elementary School, Wolcott

Our work has begun and I am confident, that with your prayers, we will choose the right person to be the next Principal of Saint Bridget School. Please pray for us through this process!

Mass book for first six months of 2020 is NOW OPEN…As Catholics we know that every Mass is offered for all the living and the dead, but it is our time honored tradition of offering the Mass for particular intentions. The donation for a weekday Mass is $15, and that for a weekend Mass or Holy Day is $25. We are opening our books on Monday for the first SIX MONTHS of calendar year 2020. We also still have some openings for Masses to be offered in 2019 if you so desire. The office will be open from 8:30AM to 4:30PM, Monday through Friday, to take your calls.

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 united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world. Since today we are still in the Octave of Easter, I say, once again, Happy Easter!

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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:

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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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