Updated: Jan 9, 2020
Dear Friends in Christ:
This past week I attended the 137th Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I have recently been named the new Connecticut State Chaplain for the Knights of Columbus. I consider this a real privilege to serve my brother knights for two very meaningful reasons:
The new State Deputy (that is the highest ranking officer in the State) is Gary McKeone. Gary and I have known each other since I was first ordained. Gary was a member of Council 2533 in Glastonbury where I served as Chaplain as a newly ordained priest. He and his wife Stacy have remained good friends to me since those early days of my priesthood and I have walked with them and ministered to them in various ways through the years.
Serving as State Chaplain in the Founder’s State links me to another Hartford priest who in 1882 founded the Knights of Columbus just down the road in New Haven, the Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney.
The Knights of Columbus grew from a small group of men in the basement of Saint Mary’s in New Haven to almost 2 million members worldwide! These men have donated over $185 million dollars to charities in 2018, and over 76 million hours of service! The Knights were originally founded to help the men of his (Father McGivney) parish to grow in their faith, to provide financial security for the widows and orphans of deceased members, and to perform acts of charity! The Knights are based on four guiding principles: Charity, Unity, Fraternity, and Patriotism.
This year the theme for the Supreme Convention was Knights of Unity. It is part of a three year focus on the founding principles of the Order. This theme helps to focus our thoughts on how we can live out the principle of Unity as an Order and in our families and parishes. In particular it has gotten me thinking about what it is that unites us as Knights of Columbus, but also what unites us as Catholics. IT IS JESUS CHRIST!
Jesus Christ unites us! All of the information we received in Chaplain’s Class and all that we heard in the general meetings at the convention mean absolutely nothing unless each of us has encountered Jesus. Encountering Jesus is the most important thing that can happen to a person! Why? Because when one encounters Jesus they meet and get to know the Jesus who loves us, who has saved us from our sins, and who gave his life for us on the Cross. An encounter with Jesus can change one’s life! In our increasingly digital age, the moment of encounter can often be lost. We have to seek out ways to encounter Jesus in our lives. This brings me to the question: how do we encounter Jesus?
First, we encounter Jesus in the Scriptures. Yes, my Catholic friends I am telling you to pick up the Bible and read the Scriptures. We Catholics are not known for knowing the Bible as well as many of our Protestant brothers and sisters BUT WE SHOULD. So pick up your bible, dust it off, open it, and allow yourself to encounter Jesus in the Gospels. Spend time in prayer! Especially before the Eucharistic Lord in Adoration! Read the Gospel stories where others encounter the Lord and see how an encounter with Him changes their lives forever, changes the direction they were going, and calls them to a new way of life altogether. We too must learn to allow an encounter with Jesus to set us on a new path of fidelity to Him above all else. We must become changed people and share this good news with others as a way to encourage them to encounter the Lord as well.
Second, encounter Jesus in the Sacraments, especially in the frequent participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass where we receive the Eucharist and in the frequent practice of the Sacrament of Reconciliation! Allow Jesus to bring the healing you need in life. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a personal encounter with Jesus, the Divine Physician, who seeks to bring us the healing grace we need so we can begin anew in answering the call to Follow me.
Finally, and only after these first two, can we then encounter, authentically, Jesus in our loving service of those in need. We are not united in serving others simply out of the goodness of our hearts, we are not social service workers. No, we are Catholics united in serving the presence of Jesus in others. Our good works, our works of charity, our unity in reaching out to those less fortunate, is rooted in seeing and encountering Jesus present in our brothers and sisters.
All of these encounters with Jesus—in His Word, in the Sacraments of the Church, and in service of others through works of charity—can transform us to being better disciples.
Last weekend we gave out the recent book from Bishop Robert Barron entitled Letter to a Suffering Church. (If you were not here, remaining copies are available at the doors of the Church while they last.) In this short book, Bishop Barron rather pointedly and honestly addresses the concerns of countless faithful Catholics in recent years as the Catholic Church continues to deal with the sexual abuse crisis, namely, why should I stay? Why remain faithful to the Church amidst such a crisis? Why should I remain practicing my faith during these tough times? Bishop Barron explains it is NOT time to leave the Church but IT IS TIME TO STAY AND FIGHT. He calls us to see the role each of us can play in the renewal of our Church. He calls us all to see our call to becoming holy ourselves, of transforming the lives of others, and of preserving our Church’s traditions by becoming more faithful disciples of the Lord.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Recently, the Pastoral Staff discussed the desire to hear from you about your story of faith! We would like you to write out your story and share it with us. Please tell us how you became Catholic and why you stayed Catholic. Describe what the Catholic faith means to you. How has the faith helped you in the tough and dark times of life? Tell us about any incredible and uplifting supernatural experiences that have happened to you. Why is Saint Bridget of Sweden your parish? We are planning to incorporate your story of faith into an outreach program for those friends and family members who have left the Catholic faith. The testimony and faith stories from people just like them will have a much bigger impact than if it came only from their priests. Your submission will not be shared without your permission. Please send your story to my attention through the collection or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
One of the other topics discussed at the Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention was of course the recent violence that has shaken our country once again. This past week alone we saw violent events: the shootings in California, Mississippi, Texas and Ohio. These have certainly shaken us once again to the core. Innocent and unsuspecting people enjoying a day at an Annual Garlic Festival, others shopping for back to school supplies, and others engaging in the nightlife of Dayton all experienced senseless violence by young men using guns. At candlelight vigils across the country people gathered to offer prayers for those killed and their families. Politicians renew the debate once again about the how to do something to address this issue in our society. Supreme Knight Carl Anderson called on all of us in attendance at the Convention and Knights everywhere to bring more civility to our interactions each day. Let’s restore civility into our daily encounters with others. We need it in our society, in our political discourse, in our schools, in our workplaces, and even in our homes!
Update on Father Philip O’Neill…many have asked after Mass why we have not included Father O’Neill in our prayers for active duty service people. The reason is that Father O’Neill completed his military training and is back in the Archdiocese for the immediate future while he awaits orders to serve in active duty. He is currently taking an assignment in the Archdiocese assisting where there is need for weekend help. We keep him in our prayers during this time of transition and once he is officially serving in active duty we will be sure to add him to our list in the weekly bulletin.
CALLING ALL GOLFERS! CALLING ALL SUPPORTERS OF ST. BRIDGET SCHOOL! WE NEED YOUR HELP! This is the 25th Anniversary of the reopening of St. Bridget School and we are gearing up for the 6th Annual St. Bridget School Golf Tournament…This will be held at the Country Club of Waterbury on Monday, September 23, 2019. This is one of the two major fundraisers for our parish school; please assist us in any way you can.
Here are a number of ways you can assist us:
YOU can consider sponsoring our event. If you own a business or work for one who supports local charities consider asking them to be a sponsor or put an ad in our ad book for the tournament (we expect a pretty full field, and additional people to attend the dinner following the tournament which means these booklets will be dispersed to a good number of friends from the greater Cheshire area). We really could use as many sponsors as possible…sponsorships make the tournament a success. https://stbridgetschool.ejoinme.org/MyEvents/6thAnnualGolfOuting2019/RegistrationForSponsorship/tabid/1070914/Default.aspx
YOU can join us! We have available spots for golfers ($175 per golfer), and if you don’t golf you can still get in on the fun by getting some friends together to come for a nice dinner that evening and support our parish school by your participation at this event and your opportunity to win a raffle prize. Cost for dinner only option it is just $50.
YOU can donate an item for our raffle. We are in need of a variety of items for the raffle which is held during the dinner at the tournament. Items such as: a grill, a big screen television, foursomes to local golf courses, any electronic equipment from entertainment to home improvement, gift cards to local restaurants, bottles of wine or spirits, or anything your creative minds can come up with. Items can be dropped off to the school office or rectory office any day during the week, or in the sacristy at Mass on the weekend. Please be sure your name is on it so we may properly thank you!
ANY AND ALL information including registration forms and sponsorship forms can be found online at https://stbridgetschool.ejoinme.org/golf2019. Thank you for whatever you can do to assist our parish school in this important fundraising effort.
As always, remember to pray and ask God’s blessings upon our family of faith 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.