Dear Friends in Christ:
Today we celebrate the great Feast of Pentecost…that moment when the Lord sent the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles which gave them the strength and courage to leave the Upper Room and fearlessly begin to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We celebrate this great Feast ending the Easter Season as we began it-under a time of lockdown and self-isolation. The limited reopening, including government guidelines on limiting the number of people that can gather together in large groups, prohibits us from gathering together at the altar of God to celebrate the birthday of the Church as we normally would.
We have many things that can cause us to live in fear in addition to the Coronavirus, don’t we? Perhaps the most common is the fear of the unknown which, of course, has been one of the side-effects of this pandemic. It is a very real fear. One common theme that comes up in many conversations with parishioners throughout the year is this fear of the unknown and how to deal with it. Most of us, if not all, at some point have had to deal with this fear in our own journeys. Today more than ever I believe it is a call for us to put our trust in the promise of Jesus Christ, namely, I am with you always, until the end of the age. Yes, in every moment of everyday Jesus is with us. Today, we celebrate that great day on which Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, upon the Apostles to fill them with the gifts they needed for their mission.
Isn’t this Feast relevant for us too? Absolutely. The Holy Spirit is first given to us through faith and Baptism. Then at the Sacrament of Confirmation the Bishop reminds the candidates that through the Sacrament of Confirmation the Holy Spirit is given to you in a special way just as He was given to the Apostles on the day of Pentecost. YES WE NEED THE SPIRIT. YES we need to be empowered by the gifts of the Spirit to spread the gospel, to live a fervent Christian life, and to share more fully in the mission and ministry of the Church, in particular, to empower us to go and make disciples of all nations! Jesus says to us today in the Gospel, “as the Father has sent me, so I send you!” Let each of us open our hearts and our souls to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Allow the Spirit of God to send you forth to share the peace, the love, and the mercy of the Risen Lord with others! Where is the Spirit sending you today?
The Holy Spirit is alive and active right here in our own parish family. Thanks be to God! It is amazing that even in the midst of this time of pandemic, self-isolation, and quarantine we have been able to witness firsthand the effects of the Holy Spirit at work in our midst! Two groups in particular stand out as a sign of this working of the Spirit:
1. N.G.D.—Have you seen this acronym in the bulletin and wondered what is that? It stands for Next Generation of Disciples! The new Youth Ministry in our parish named their own group and that is the title they have chosen. Before the pandemic they were beginning to meet weekly and get to know one another and share some fun, faith, and fellowship together. Once thrown into self-isolation, Youth Minister Regis immediately tried to continue to gather them together on weekly ZOOM meetings so they could continue to form as a group. I am so pleased to say that they are growing! I joined their ZOOM call this week and was so impressed with our young people. Near the end of their time this week Regis asked them what they missed most about not being able to attend Mass in person. The responses were what I expected mostly: being with others, the music, and being in a place where there is less distractions than home. One responded that what she missed most was being in God’s house for 45 minutes to an hour where she didn’t need a device in her hands! That is food for thought for all of us young people, young adults, and even us middle agers.
2. Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish Young Adult Ministry—another group that was just beginning in this New Year was the Young Adult Ministry. We were working with some young adults to form this new ministry in our parish and they were excited. They have also been meeting on ZOOM these past few weeks working on getting to know one another and also doing a book study together. This past week I joined their ZOOM meeting and did not know what book they were reading together. So I inquired. They told me Spiritual Warfare and the Discernment of Spirits by Dan Burke. I was floored. Just moments before joining their call I was watching Father Federico on a Facebook program for another parish where he and Father Gubbiotti were talking about the Holy Spirit and were asking for questions. No one was asking a question so I asked that they talk about the discernment of spirits and how one can know if a prompting is coming from the Holy Spirit or not. Then to join our Young Adults and hear that they were talking about this very topic just shows that the Holy Spirit is at work in our parish! Come Holy Spirit!!!
I also want to share another story of how the Holy Spirit is working in the lives of our Young Adults. This story touched me immensely. As you may remember we offered a Book Study and a Bible Study recently. At the end of the Bible Study, Father Federico was worried about one of our older parishioners who had said repeatedly that this time has been difficult and they are lonely. As he was considering what we could do to help this parishioner, one of our Young Adult Core Team Members reached out to him and asked to get in touch with this older parishioner who had been on the Bible Study. He has reached out to her and has even invited her to his family’s home to watch, socially distant of course, Sunday Mass on-line with them. You never know where the Holy Spirit is calling you to be His presence in the lives of others but this young man heard the prompting in his heart and generously responded by extending the love of God to someone in their time of need. AMAZING!
JOIN US TODAY, Pentecost Sunday, for a special concert for our parishioners at 2PM. Similar to what we did on Mother’s Day we will be holding a special concert on our livestream. Julia Atwood, our Director of Music, will play some of our favorites from the collection of hymns used at various occasions in the life of the church. She will be taking requests too! If you have a favorite, join us live and put in your request to hear that favorite hymn played and sung by our very talented music director. We look forward to joining her for this special concert and fielding your special requests! Please join us!
WEDNESDAY, MAY 27th, was an amazing day for us all! Word spread quickly that on Wednesday the Holy Father, Pope Francis, approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Father Michael J. McGivney, a priest of the Archdiocese of Hartford!
We were overjoyed to hear the news on Wednesday! It was a burst of amazing joy! A miracle was approved as being attributed to the intercession of Father Michael J. McGivney! Father McGivney is one of our own! He was born in Waterbury, was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese, served in parishes in Connecticut, founded the Knights of Columbus, and eventually died in Thomaston. Someone from Connecticut will now be a Blessed in the eyes of the Church and is on their way to being canonized a saint. Beatification is an act by which the Pope allows a candidate for sainthood to be venerated publicly. Another miracle attributed to their intercession is needed to be declared a Saint. A ceremony celebrating Father Michael J. McGivney’s beatification will take place in Connecticut at a date yet to be determined! WOW!
A press release from the Knights of Columbus May 27 said the miracle recognized by Pope Francis involved an unborn child in the United States who was healed in utero of a life-threatening condition in 2015 after his family prayed to Fr. McGivney.
As State Chaplain for the Knights of Columbus I couldn’t help but be filled with great joy at this announcement. What a great day for Knights of Columbus here in the Founder’s State and throughout the world.
As a priest of the Archdiocese of Hartford I couldn’t help but think what a great day for parish priests in the Archdiocese of Hartford and throughout the world as one who shared in the ministry right here in our own Archdiocese is on their way to being declared a Saint.
Of course, for us all, what a great day for the Church of God.
Venerable Servant of God Father Michael J. McGivney, soon to be Blessed, pray for us!
AND NOW WHAT WE HAVE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR!
THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THIS TUNNEL SEEMS TO BE GETTING BRIGHTER EACH DAY…we also received word this week of the reopening of our parish offices in a limited capacity beginning June 1, 2020, and a reopening of our parish for Public Worship effective June 8, 2020! Praise God!
Now, as of this writing, the Pastoral Staff and the Pastoral Council will be meeting to discuss how best to put into place the guidelines of the Archdiocese here at Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish. We want to ensure we follow the guidelines and do all in our power to ensure the safety and well-being of all our parishioners.
We will begin to offer Daily Mass on Monday, June 8th. Masses will be limited to 50 persons. How this will be regulated is yet to be determined. Whether we will add more Masses is yet to be determined. I assure you that the Pastoral Staff, and the Pastoral Council will do ALL we can to ensure we are ready to welcome the People of God back to the altar.
We will be communicating information during the course of the next week with all parishioners to the best of our ability. SO I reiterate to you, if you want up-to-the-minute information MAKE SURE we have your email address. Send your email address to: firstname.lastname@example.org. We will also be communicating through the ParishApp and the tools of Social Media.
Father Federico and I are beyond thrilled to begin welcoming you back to church for the celebration of Mass. We promise you that we will be responsible, diligent, and cautious as we begin to reopen to ensure the safety and well-being of all of us, clergy and laity. Please continue to be united in prayer and trust in God’s wisdom and God’s time as we begin to see a reopening of our parish for Public Masses.
As always, remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings upon us all in this time of pandemic. With the gracious intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, may we be united with one another in prayer! Please pray for me and know that I am praying for you! Continued prayers for you all to know and experience the joy, the peace, and the hope of the Risen Christ and to know the power of the Holy Spirit at work in your lives!