For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday Jan 18, 2015

Pastor’s Corner: On January 21st the Church commemorates the martyrdom of a young girl, Saint Agnes, who died during the last persecution of the Church by the Roman Empire, under the Emperor Diocletian, in 303 A.D.

Agnes was 12 years old [marrying age in 4th century Rome], the beautiful daughter of wealthy noble parents. While “her beauty and riches excited the young noblemen of the first families in Rome”, as Dom Alban Butler put it, Agnes responded repeatedly that she had one spouse already: Christ, to whom she had vowed her virginity and life. Frustrated in their pursuit of the girl’s wealth and beauty, these young, wealthy, socially advanced and adept young men, angered that Agnes was unwilling to satisfy their lusts for power, money or sex, reported to the governor that she was a Christian, an enemy of Rome. Her suitors and the governor, knowing the family and the girl, thought that the mere suggestion of a trial and torture would be sufficient to wear Agnes down, so she would relent and marry herself and her fortune to one of them. Yet, to the consternation of all, neither pleasant words, nor threats nor even the sight of instruments of torture could weaken her resolve to be faithful to her Heavenly spouse: “you may”, she said, “stain your sword with my blood, but will never be able to profane my body consecrated to Christ.”

There was more going on here than simply a young girl protecting her virtue for Christ. Like today, sex and money are all too often closely linked. The Emperor Diocletian put a new spin on his persecution of Catholics: if a noble or official of the Imperial Court was found practicing Christianity, his fortune, lands and all possessions could be confiscated by the state, unless he publicly disavowed Christ. In Agnes’ case, that meant that her personal fortune could be confiscated by—the local Imperial officials, unless she broke her vow of virginity to Christ and denied her faith in public. If her suitors could not succeed in depriving her of virtue or fortune, the state officials could. It was now financially worthwhile to kill Christians.

Saint Ambrose continues the story,
“Was her little body really large enough to receive the sword’s thrust? She was hardly big enough to be struck, yet was great enough to overcome—and then at an age when little girls cannot bear a mother’s stern look and think a needle’s jab a mortal wound. Agnes did not tremble when in the executioner’s bloody hand nor cringe at the harsh sound of chains. She did not know yet how to die, but was ready. Dragged to the pagan altar, she extended her hands to Christ in the flames of the pagan sacrifice, and turned the sacrilegious fire into a victor’s banner. She offered her neck and hands to the fetters, but they were too big for her tiny limbs.” [On Virgins, Book 1]

Finally, Agnes was led outside the City and beheaded: she courageously bent her head, praying for her persecutors, while the executioner, terrified and trembling, dispatched her with one stroke. From the moment of her burial, her tomb became a site of pilgrimage, embellished after the Peace of the Church in 313 by the Emperor Constantine, who built a small basilica over her tomb on the Via Nomentana.

For centuries since, each January 21st the pope or his representative would bless two white lambs: each crowned with red and white roses, after which the lambs were taken away to the convent of Saint Cecilia, another virgin martyr. Once grown, their fleece is shorn, and is woven into a number of pallia: liturgical stoles of white wool with black crosses, which are placed within the Tomb of Saint Peter in the Vatican. The Holy Father gives these to newly named metropolitan archbishops on June 29th, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, as a sign that their authority comes from Peter through his successor the Pope, and that apostolic authority to preach and teach is linked with the virtue of purity of personal life, both symbolized by the wool of the lambs blessed at the tomb of Saint Agnes. Virtue and Faith: essentially linked. Saint John, our parish patron, relates how highly virginity for Christ was held in the early Church: in the Book of Revelation, virgins are the companions of the Lamb of God, following Him wherever He goes [Rev xiv, 1-5]. —Msgr. DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: Pete Boltrek, Kevin O’Byrne, Barbara Itri, Mary Lou Kerr, Elaine Mellace, Victoria Campos, Barbara Wolf, Dominick Franco, Ro Clarke, Suzanne DePreta, Patrick and Rita Timon, Billy Therriault, Thomas Bernie, Diane Grant, Marie Augustin, Mary Churley, Mary Bauer, Mary Rose Bauer, Paul Cavalli, Maggie Ward, Sr. Anne-Marguerite, Peter Monks, Agnes Allen, Bonnie and Dorothy Keyes, Ruth Coyle, Jacqueline Domingue, John Palumbo, Silvana Smith, Lena Cocchia, Christina Samon Ta-Chu.

Please pray for those who have recently died: Harrie Humphreys, Angelina Corcione, Fernand Constant, Karin Fahey, Louise Fazio, Alice Dykes, Anthony Pellicci, Mark Cagle, Nicholas J. DiMatteo, Onide Jean-Guillaume, Canio V. Lorusso, John DePoli, Lilji Vasilji, Scott Therriault, Bill Detrick, Malcolm Pounds, Carol Sorbo, Bill Detrick, Stefano Pirolozzi, Teodoro DeBlasi, Erzulia Joseph, Jenny Gallagher.

Monthly Collection . . . The second collection today will be the monthly collection for the parish. Your generosity is appreciated.

Monday Evening Holy Hour: Monday nights 7-8:00 pm for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Rosary in the Basilica. Next Holy Hour, Monday, Jan. 19th.

St. Monica Latin Reading Group: Thursdays at 12:45 in the Rectory. We are beginning this Fall’s meetings with a review of Ecclesiastical Latin using Latin Grammar by Cora and Charles Scanlon. A basic reading ability in Latin is necessary. Please call the Rectory for information.

St. Monica Biblical Greek Grammar: Thursdays at 6:30pm. An intermediate grammar/reading class. We are translating the Gospel of John. Basic grammatical knowledge of Biblical Greek is required. Call the rectory for information.

RCIA: Classes meet Tuesdays at 7:00PM in the rectory. Anyone interested in becoming a Catholic, or adult Catholics wanting to receive 1st Communion or Confirmation, call the parish secretary (324-1553, ext. 21).

Knights of Columbus Free Throw Competition: All Boys and Girls from 9 to 14 years old (as of Jan 1) are invited to participate in the annual Knight of Columbus Free Throw Championship. All attendees will receive a Participation Certificate and winners will advance to the District Competition to represent our community! The event will be held on February 8, 2015 at 3pm in the Rippowam Middle School Gym – 381 High Ridge Rd, Stamford, CT 06905. Pre-registration is suggested by Feb 1. Contact KofC5833@gmail.com or Dan Fiegoli at 203-327-9027 with any questions. This event is hosted by the local Knights of Columbus Fr. Myron Miller Council #5833.

January 22, 2015 marks the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s infamous abortion-on-demand ruling: Come join millions of people across the nation and pray for the end of abortion and an increase respect for life at the Basilica on Thursday, January 22 (1 pm – 3pm). Exposition of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and Chaplet of the Divine Mercy at 3PM…following the 12:10 Mass and daily rosary.

Weekly Sunday collection:
Christmas January 4, 2015 $ 12,171.63
Christmas January 5, 2014 $ 8,819.54

Sunday January 1, 2015 $ 5,888.00
Sunday January 1, 2014 $ 6,097.00

Please increase your Sunday offering by $5.00 each weekend.
“I ask you one thing: do not tire of giving to God, but do not give your leftovers.”
—Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

January 25th, Sunday Readings: Jon 3:1-5, 10; 1 Cor 7:29-31; Mk 1:14-20.

Home Schooling Families: All ages are welcome. For information, please contact Bridget Bethray: bridget.bethray@gmail.com, or Janet Lancaster: jmlancaster@optonline.net, or at 203-637-3301.

St John’s Flock (20’s and 30’s Young Adult Ministry):  The Flock is a group of Catholic young adults in their 20s and 30s. The group meets regularly each month on the first Monday for Holy Hour and fellowship from 7-9, and third Sunday from 5-7 pm for the 5pm mass and fellowship. For more details or to sign up, please email Mary at saintjohnsflock@gmail.com.

Francis & Clare: Our High School Youth Group. Students interested in being part of the Teen Leadership Group contact Sue Kremheller, D.R.E. at: religioused@stjohnsstamford.com. Service Hours are available for those who have already been Confirmed.

Project Rachel Ministry: Offers free and confidential help to those seeking healing after abortion. Come back to God, who is love and mercy. Please call (203) 416-1619 or projectrachel@diobpt.org.

Birthright: seeks volunteers: Support women to bring their babies to term, providing pregnancy tests, connecting women with medical, financial, legal and other resources. Flexible schedules; training provided. Call 348-4355 or www.birthright.org.

Lost & Found . . . Please check the Lost & Found in the Rectory for any items you may have left in the church. Feel free to call Cindy at the rectory, M-F, 9AM—1:30PM, 203-324-1553 x21.

Electronic Giving – Offertory Donations Made Easy…Consider using your credit card to make your weekly or monthly donation to St. John’s. Easier for you, and less costly for the parish than the printing and mailing of weekly envelopes, credit card giving automatically sends your weekly offering to the Basilica of St. John’s. Call the parish secretary (324-1553, ext. 21).

Prayers in Rome: If you have any prayer intentions, or people you’d like me to pray for at the Tombs of the Apostles, Saints and Martyrs while I’m in Rome for the upcoming year, please drop a note to Cindy in the parish office; just one or two intentions at a time, please. God bless you, Msgr. DiGiovanni.

Job Seekers: There’s no charge. Led by Melanie Szlucha whose company, Red Inc., a leader in helping find jobs. More info, see: www.redinc.biz or 203-866-1606: Next meeting: Monday, January 26th, 7:30PM Location: Cosi at 230 Tresser Blvd., Stamford (in front of the Stamford Mall).

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, January 17, 2015
4:00 +Gertrude LaSala req. Tracy and Tom Banahan
Sunday, January 18, 2015
7:30 +Antonio Lepore req. Rose Lepore
10:00 Pray for the opening of the Cause of Ignatius Cardinal Kung req. Cardinal Kung Foundation
12:00 +Maria Preziosi 22nd Anniversary req. your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren (Morris) John and Lindsey Ciglar
5:00 +Fr. Peter M. Rinaldi, SDB
6:00 +Patrick Kane and Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane and Family
Monday, January 19, 2015
8:00 Souls in Purgatory
12:10 +Antoinette Rubino req. Carla Coutant
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
8:00 +Juana Mazariegos and Moses Reyes req. Blanca M. Reyes
12:10 +Carmine and Julia Iantorno req. Alfred Iantorno
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
8:00 +Aurea David req. Marilen Versaggi
12:10 +Charles and Matthew Austin req. Parents
Thursday, January 22, 2015
8:00 +Patrick Kane and Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane and Family
12:10 +Marcel Gedeon req. Marion Morris
Friday, January 23, 2015
8:00 +Lakim McIver req. Wilma Santiago
12:10 +Henrietta Crowley req. Jeannine and Bill Steward
Saturday, January 24, 2015
8:00 +Al Ramos req. Cruz Noriega
12:10 +Mrs. Milagro Herrera req. Monique and Robert Valles

Baptisms: Are celebrated every day of the week, according to the schedule of the parish priests and the families. Baptisms at St. John’s are one-family only ceremonies: never groups. Please call Cindy (203-324-1553, ext 21).

Weddings: Couples must contact and begin meeting with one of the parish priests for at least 6 months before a hoped for wedding date at Saint John’s. Please call the parish secretary, Cindy, or one of the priests for an initial discussion.

Holy Name Society: For the men of the parish, meets Fridays in the Rectory, 7-7:50 a.m. for coffee, Eucharistic Adoration & Benediction. All men of the parish are welcome. We finish in time for the 8am Mass.

Moms & Tots: Moms and their kids meet in the Church each first Tuesday of every month at 10:30a.m.

St. Anne’s Family Society: A family society meeting four times a year on Sundays after the 5pm mass, with Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament and prayer, supper, and a lecture in the church hall.

Francis & Clare: Co-Ed High School Youth Group. Meetings are held twice a month in the Church Hall.

Pray to end Legalized Abortion: Wednesdays, 7-10:30a.m., Stamford’s Planned Parenthood, 1039 East Main St.

St. Dominic Savio Society: For spiritual formation of young men, 6th-8thgrades. Anne Marie 203-324-1553, x21.

St. Maria Goretti Society: For the spiritual formation of , young ladies,6th-8thgrades:Anne Marie 203-324-1553 x21.

The Legion of Mary: Wednesday Evenings: 7:30 pm ’till 9:00 pm in the Msgr. Nagle Hall. All are welcome.

St. Monica Institute for Patristic Studies: —Latin Patristic Reading Group: Thursday afternoons in the rectory: basic reading ability required. Please call the rectory for information.

Intermediate Studies in Biblical Greek: Intermediate Grammar: Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm in a private home.
Please call the office for more information.

Coffee Hour: After the 10:00 a.m. Family Mass in the Monsignor Nagle Parish Hall.

St. John’s in THE ADVOCATE:

145 years ago, or so:
Jan. 22, 1869: “The Catholic Fair, which commenced in Seely’s Hall on Tuesday evening is, we learn, a decided success so far. The Hall is tastefully decorated with flags, etc., and the various tables are arranged with much neatness. An unusually large number of valuable articles are to be disposed of by lottery, the drawing to take place Saturday evening. Among these are a magnificent clock, gold watches, oil paintings-one worth two hundred dollars-a gold mounted revolver and other articles too numerous to mention. From present appearances we have no doubt the Fair will be a success financially and otherwise.”

100 years ago, or so:
Jan. 22, 1915: CAN’T HAVE SALOON ON ATLANTIC STREET. “The county commissioners today refused the petition of Mahoney & Co. of Stamford to have a saloon license transferred from Pacific to Atlantic Street in this city. A hearing was held by the county commissioners in this city, Tuesday, Jan. 12, when testimony was given in support of a remonstrance, and several witnesses also testified in favor of the application.”

75 years ago, or so:
Jan. 18, 1939: Spiritual Retreat For Catholic Youth Of Stamford Planned. “The first annual mid-year spiritual retreat for boys and girls of high school age will be held in St John’s Catholic Church, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 27, 28 and 29. It was announced today by the Inter-parish Council of the Stamford Catholic Youth Organization. The retreat exercises will be directed by Rev. Robert X. Sheridan, S. J., a member of the faculty of Boston College High School, who has had considerable experience with high school student retreats in New England. The retreat will be for boys and girls of every parish in Stamford and is not only for those who are attending school but for those of high school age who are working.”

55 years ago, or so:
Jan. 24, 1959: Scouts Honored At Annual Court. “Four Eagle Scouts were honored Monday during the largest recognition ceremony ever conducted here by the Alfred W. Dater Council, Boy Scouts of America. The mothers of the four Eagle Scouts pinned on their son’s badges, during the annual Court of Honor held at Darien High School. Receiving badges were Eagle Scouts Joseph P. Connolly, Jr. Troop 22, St. John’s R.C. Church, pinned on by Mrs. Joseph Connolly.” (EDITOR’S NOTE: Joseph Connolly Jr. was the first Eagle Scout from Troop 22 since it was resurrected in 1950, having been dormant since 1939. Joseph P. Connolly, Jr. M.D., is presently retired and living in Connecticut.)

St. Frances De Sales – Feast Day: January 24th
Fr. Terry Walsh

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2

Pilgrimages are uniquely spiritual journeys that begin in the heart with the simple recognition that all who are baptized are intimately connected to one another in the Mystical Body of Christ. Indeed, the “great cloud of witnesses” are not so far removed from us. They are simply a prayer away. Getting to know them opens us up to a much broader perspective on the breadth of the faith we share. As we get to know them through the shining witness of their lives, or perhaps their spiritual insights, we quite naturally come to understand some particular facet of our Lord himself, who bestowed upon the Saints the necessary graces that enabled them to be ‘perfected’ in Him. I visited a few of these wonderful Saints who have had a great impact on my life and in particular, upon my priesthood. On a pilgrimage to France, the “Eldest Daughter of the Church”, I had the opportunity to say thanks and to ask for their continued intercession. The first streaks of dawn seemed to cast a beautiful glow upon the canopy of fog trapped between the various mountains beneath our wings as our flight began its slow descent into Switzerland. Green fields emerged from the blanket of fog in the lower regions of the French Alps, home to small country hamlets scattered here and there. It all seemed so peaceful. My thoughts drifted to the days when Saint Francis de Sales (1567 – 1622) had ministered to a deeply fragmented population in the turbulent time of the protestant reformation. As Bishop of Geneva, he courageously engaged in the difficult spiritual and political waters of his time and was enormously successful in defending the truth of the faith. Indeed, his spiritual classics continue to benefit the faithful today, especially Introduction to the Devout Life and Treatise on the Love of God (available in our parish bookstore), along with a host of other great works. His pastoral zeal for souls was clearly evident through his tireless work. He was constantly visiting the people in his charge. Indeed, he visited the 600 parishes of his diocese – on a mule. Moreover, he co-founded the Religious Community of the Sisters of the Visitation, along with the mystic, St. Jane Frances de Chantel. A widow and mother of six children, St. Jane was drawn to the contemplative life after she had provided for all her children. After Co-Founding the Sisters of the Visitation, St. Jane would establish an additional 87 new Monastic Communities of the Sisters of the Visitation over the course of 26 years. Four Hundred years later, the Sisters of the Visitation are thriving in Monasteries throughout the world.

After landing in Geneva, we drove across the border to Annecy, France, to visit St. Francis and St. Jane. As I strolled through the medieval city along the narrow streets which occasionally crisscrossed the various canals stemming from the Lake, I took the short 20 minute walk up to the Basilica of the Visitations which stands out like a beacon of light, nestled in the hills that overlook the beautiful old city beside the fifth largest lake in France. There in the sanctuary lie the mortal remains of St. Francis and St. Jane in glass coffins on display for public veneration very near the Altar Rail. The Cloistered Monastery of the Mother House of the Sisters of the Visitation is attached to the Sanctuary of the Basilica and is home to Sisters from around the world. These consecrated souls following in the footsteps of St. Jane, live a life devoted to our Lord in prayer. Entering the quiet Church, I made my way to the Sanctuary and greeted the Saints. One could easily touch a Rosary or Holy Card to them. They seemed just as approachable in death as they were in life, eager to help those seeking instruction in the ways of faith. After a few days in Annecy, we pushed onward to Paray-le-Monial in anticipation of our visit to one of the earliest Convents of the Sisters of the Visitation and home to the mystic, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647 – 1690), called “The Beloved Disciple of the Sacred Heart.” Through her mystical conversations with our Lord Jesus Christ, a renewed devotion to the Sacred Heart flourished, which would include the First Friday Devotion. I had visited this Holy Shrine as a seminarian a decade earlier and returned to say thank you for her life and inspiration and to ask for her continued intercession.

While a more modern town has grown up in Paray-le-Monial over the centuries, the Cloistered Convent of the Visitations and the nearby centuries old Basilica still hold the center place for this community. The public Masses at the Convent are well attended and are held in the Chapel where the apparitions took place. It was here that Jesus revealed His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary. On the right side of the sanctuary, the Cloistered Chapel faces the Altar and those gathered in the public chapel can hear the Sisters chanting the Divine Office so beautifully at various hours of the day. I offered Mass at a side chapel where the remains of this great Saint, called the “Apostle of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus” are entombed. These Saints are heroes to me, but they are also friends. They lived amazing lives in great simplicity and humility. Every one of them endured great suffering, but they did it for love – love for the One who laid down His life for them. In Christ, the triumphed and now, they bask in the True Light of Christ in the Presence of our Heavenly Father where they pray for us. You don’t have to fly across the ocean to get to know them. They are already in your heart – for they are with God. Why not get to know them? Read about them. Read what they have written. And without hesitation, ask for their intercession – especially at Mass – where they surround us and join us in our adoration and praise of Almighty God. You will come to truly know them and – love them.