For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday July 26, 2015

Pastor’s Corner: July 26th is the Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of Our Lady. The celebration of this humble married couple belies the common place notion that religion doesn’t have much affect on real life. Possibly the person who first coined that notion just didn’t have much religion to begin with, so its absence was a greater personal influence. Nevertheless, the homespun lives of Saints Joachim and Anne, while not very Hollywood, did change history, since their daughter participated significantly in the Incarnation, whereby God’s entrance into human history as the God-become-Man, Jesus of Nazareth, transformed all subsequent human history and all creation.

Even though nothing is mentioned in Scripture, the fact that Mary had parents can be taken for granted. But there is a very early document, known as the Protoevangelium of Saint James, written between 170-180 A.D. [For the full document, Google www.newadvent.org/fathers/0847.htm] It is one of the most famous apocryphal writings [meaning, not part of the Bible] of the early Church and, despite it not having been included by the Church in its canon of Scriptural books, was one of the most widely read religious works of its age: originally written in Greek, there are early extant Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, Arabic and Ethiopic translations or paraphrases. It was a best seller, and was quoted by many of the Church Fathers. The work enjoyed an unparalleled influence on the development of popular devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the early Church, as seen by the development of various Marian feast days, such as the Immaculate Conception, the Presentation of the Virgin, and that of Saints Joachim and Anne. By the 6th century there were two massive churches built in Jerusalem and Constantinople in honor of Mary’s parents, and their feast day was celebrated in the mid-East; in Rome by the 8th century, and from there, throughout Europe. While everything in the book cannot be taken as historically true, much of it can. And the story of Saints Joachim and Anne as presented in this work is the earliest known written version of their lives.

Why a devotion to the parents of Mary? First, in an earlier age, no family was considered complete without grandparents. Likewise, the story of a married couple struggling with the seeming impasse of not being able to conceive and have children was so touchingly real that it captured the attention of millions. Here is a story of the complete Holy Family, whose beginning is found in the generosity of God’s blessings on a man and his wife who asked God’s help. Not only is the faith and trust in God of Joachim and Anne repaid by their conceiving Mary, but, they mark the very moment when the Divine intimately enters human history—God intervened in the conception of Mary, the fruit of the very natural and intimate act of human love of Joachim and Anne, and He preserved Mary from the stain of Adam’s Original Sin while she was in Anne’s womb, in view of Mary’s role as the Mother of the Savior, and in anticipation of Christ’s saving sacrifice.

The parish’s images of Saint Anne are traditional, and can be seen on the pulpit, and in the small statue to the left of the altar, and next to the left hand large window [in the southern transept]: Saint Anne instructing a young Mary from the Scriptures of the Old Testament. The relics of Saints Anne & Joachim are next to the small statue. While the background fabric of the banner at the pulpit is new, its image of Saint Anne and Mary is very old: cardboard figures, embroidered and hand decorated, taken from the original late-19th century parish banner that was used here at Saint John’s. It is an image of a mother teaching her daughter the ways of God. While Mary did play an essential role in our salvation by being the Mother of God, she was not born with a Catholic Encyclopedia in her head. She had to be educated and formed by her parents, as do all children. Saint Anne provided much of that education, especially about God and His love, and how to be a faithful servant of God, according to Jewish law and customs. It was this education, spiritual guidance and human formation of Mary as a young lady by her mother that further prepared Mary for her momentous role as the most important woman in human history—the second Eve, through whom all creation would be recreated by her Son, Jesus—the second Adam. Simple, homespun words, examples of faith, hope, charity, instructions about God as the most important One in their lives, and how to pray: these are some of the commonplace instructions that Saint Anne must have given her daughter; commonplace by nature, yet exceptional in their result: Mary was prepared to be the Mother of our salvation and of Christ’s Catholic Church.

Saints Joachim and Anne are the patrons of married couples, who remained faithful to each other and to God, despite rough times in their marriage. Their fidelity and faith strengthened them to remain together, and their love helped to bring about your salvation. Nothing commonplace about their simple lives, daily formed by their love for God and each other. Not bad patrons and examples for real married family life.
–Monsignor DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: Mildred Beirne, Joe Brennan, Betty Brennan, Nancy Gallagher, Billy Therriault, Thomas Bernie, Loy Mulyagonja, Ben Castle, Jay Olnek, Catherine Olnek, Lena Cocchia, Alexandre Laurent, Louise Morello, John MacLean, John Murray, Karyl Suzanne Bearden, Nellie Taylor-Boltrek, Kevin O’Byrne, Barbara Itri, Victoria Campos, Ro Clarke, Suzanne DePreta, Rita Timon, 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, John Palumbo, Silvana Smith.

Please pray for those who have recently died: Philip C. Clark, Marie Gedeon, Edward J. Gill, Joseph Runio, Gary DeSalvo, Jeanne Loughlin, Barbara Wolf, Dominick Franco Sr., Barbara Rizzi, Joseph H. Dervil, Elaine Marie Breunich, Patrick Timon, Thomas Mardi, Alfred Candito, Sr., Mable Lewis, Linda DePreta, Theresa Deluca, Josephine Melfi, Mary Lou Kerr, Madeline Preziosi, Cardinal Edward M. Egan, Suzanne Demonchaux.

Banns of Marriage:
III Banns: Claudine Firmin and Patrick Labaze

Convert Classes: Have you ever thought of converting to Catholicism? Do you know someone who might want to become Catholic? Or are you a Catholic, yet never received First Holy Communion or Confirmation? These classes are for you. Classes: Tuesdays, 7:00PM in the Rectory, beginning in September. This is an eight week course of studies, that repeats throughout the year, so, if you miss a class or two, you can easily make them up. Special Needs Classes: Contact Michelle O’Mara at momara@stcatherineacademy.org 203 540 5381 ext. 2012. Our next classes will begin in September and continue through May. Please call the rectory for information (203-324-1553, ext. 21).

St. Monica Biblical Greek Grammar: Thursdays at 6:30 pm. 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.

The St. Monica Latin Reading Group: Meets on Thursday afternoons at 12:45 to read writings from the early Church and will resume meeting in September at a date to be announced. Newcomers are welcome. A basic reading ability in Latin is necessary. For more information, please call Saint John’s Rectory at 203-324-1553 Ext. 21.

Annual Bishop’s Appeal: Has begun. Saint John’s goal, set by the diocese, is $110,000. The funds collected for the Bishop are used for the numerous charitable and educational works of the Diocese. We have collected to date: $98,071.00. Please be generous; we need everyone’s help.

Celebration Mass of SYNOD 2014– Saturday, September 19, 2015 @ 11:00 AM At the Webster Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport. Bishop Frank Caggiano invites you to join 9,000 faithful throughout the diocese for Mass, Music and Thanksgiving. Doors will open at 9:00 AM with Praise and Worship music and the debut of the new Diocesan Youth Choir. If you choose to drive, you must register and secure your ticket of entry by August 15, 2015 through the Eventbrite link (www.2014synod.org/tickets). The Basilica of St. John will have bus transportation. Please secure your seat on the bus .and free entry ticket by July 31, 2015. For additional information or to secure your bus seat/ticket, please email Frank Carpanzano at fcarpanzano@advancetravel.com.

Weekly Sunday collection:
Sunday July 19, 2015 $ 14,055.00
Sunday July 20, 2014 $ 14,959.70

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

August 2nd, Sunday Readings: Ex 16:2-4, 12-15; Eph 4:17, 20-24; Jn 6:24-35.

Baptism/Confirmation Sponsorship Certificate: When asked to be a sponsor, a certificate is needed from your home parish. If the parish priest does not know you personally, or by sight, the only other way of knowing you as a practicing catholic is by tracking your contributions by check or envelope.

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.

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).

Saint John’s School Reunion. Columbus Day week-end, October 10-11, 2015. If you attended St. John’s School, or know anyone who did, please e-mail your information to Erin.Cody@SunGard.com OR call (203) 325-3128 and leave a message (please speak slowly and clearly). Full name (including maiden name), e-mail, phone, mailing address, year graduated or left SJS, and if you would like to join the planning committee. Alumni should go to Facebook and search “St. John’s School Alumni, Stamford” and Like the page. Please pass this information on to anyone you know who may have attended: siblings, parents, cousins, aunt and uncles, grandparents, friends.

Francis & Clare, The Flock, Saint Maria Goretti & Saint Dominic Savio Societies will NOT continue in September. I am grateful to everyone who organized and participated in these parish societies during these past years. Father Vill, Father Audette and I are looking to reorganize present programs, and to institute new parish initiatives, spiritual societies, devotions, charitable works and educational activities and groups during these next months, all in line with the Diocesan Synod decisions and decrees and the changing needs of our parish.

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: July 27th 7:30PM Location: Cosi at 230 Tresser Blvd., Stamford (in front of the Stamford Mall).

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, July 25, 2015
4:00 +John Marini, Bob Bell and Ray Gerorski req. Leon Taricani
Sunday, July 26, 2015
7:30 +Luigi Melchionno req. Giannitti Family
10:00 +Anthony, Derrick and Amiano Ramos req. Lilian and Alvina Ramos
12:00 Ignatius Chu req. Joseph and Agnes Kung
5:00 +Fr. Peter M. Rinaldi, SDB
6:00 +Patrick Kane and Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane and Family
Monday, July 27, 2015
8:00 +Anna Do req. Thang Nguyen
12:10 +Julius and Elizabeth Sebestyan req. Peter Sebastian
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
8:00 +Myrio and Anoude Paulemon req. Montanise Paulemon
12:10 +Vilma Fowler req. Ed Nemchek
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
8:00 Alexandra and Gertha Laurent
12:10 In Honor of the Infant Jesus req. Gina Uva
Thursday, July 30, 2015
8:00 +Joseph and Margaret Curtis req. Mary Maloney
12:10 Antonetta Uva req. Gina Uva
Friday, July 31, 2015
8:00 +Dickens and Pierre Labranche req. Montanise Paulemon
12:10 +Michael and Mary Windsor req. Joseph and Agnes Kung
Saturday, August 1, 2015
8:00 Souls in Purgatory req. Lucy Espinoza
12:10 +Rose Astrid Jean-Guillaume req. parents

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.

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

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 Monsignor DiGiovanni for more information (203-324-1553, ext 11).

Coffee Hour: Starts again in September, after the 10:00 a.m. Family Mass in the Monsignor Nagle Parish Hall.

St. John’s in THE ADVOCATE:

150 years ago, or so:
July 27, 1866: Justice Court. “Before Justice Dankam, Delin Sullivan plead guilty of an assault upon Mr. Sammis, of Stillwater. Delin was stealing cherries from a tree upon Mr. Sammis’s premises, and was forbidden by him, and when he made an attempt to eject her, she committed an assault upon his person, for which she was fined $1 and costs, amounting in all to eight dollars. Timothy Ryan was sentenced by the same Justice to pay a fine of $1 and costs for an attempted assault upon Patrick O’Reilly, teacher of the Roman Catholic School. It appears that Ryan’s son was punished by the teacher for misconduct, and the father thought he would punish the teacher for that same. But as he did not succeed in carrying out his design-his demonstrations being promptly vetoed-the Justice let him off with a nominal fine, but told him if the offence was repeated, he would give him the full extent of the law.”

120 years ago, or so:
July 29, 1897: RELIGIOUS. “The completion of the annual census of St. John’s R. C. parish indicates that there are about 4,000 souls in the parish, nearly all of which are faithful in church attendance. Many complain of the hard times and lack of work.”

55 years ago, or so:
August 1, 1961: St. John Cemetery to Repair Building Burned Last Week. “St John’s Cemetery Association has been granted a building permit to make repairs to a combination office-garage building on the cemetery grounds, Camp Ave., Darien. Damage was caused by a fire last week. The Darien Board of Selectmen approved a building permit to the association for repairs to the building at an estimated cost of $8,000.”

35 years ago, or so:
August 2, 1980: Communion Breakfasts Slated Sunday. St. Anne, St. John Guilds. “The combined St. Anne and St. John Rosary Altar Guild annual Mass will be celebrated at 9 a.m. Sunday at St. John’s Catholic Church , by the Rev. William A. Nagle, Pastor. The annual communion breakfast will follow at the Marriott Hotel with the Rev. Bartholomew McMahon as featured speaker. His topic will be The Various Appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Mankind.”

A Vocation Story

-Fr. Andy Vill

I am the first person I ever knew who was interested in being a priest. What do I mean by that? Obviously I knew priests growing up, but they were already priests. Until I felt God calling me to be a priest, I had never met another man who I knew to be actively discerning God’s call to the priesthood. I am not sure that I ever gave much thought to where a priest came from or how he was “made”; I suppose that I implicitly thought priests were just born priests…Like I said; I never gave it that much thought! I can assure you that I was not born a priest. In my next few bulletin articles, I would like to explain how it is that I came to hear God calling me to be a priest and eventually ended up as a seminarian for the Diocese of Bridgeport.

I was definitely not a stranger to the Church growing up. I went to Mass every Sunday with my family and faithfully attended religious education classes from first grade through ninth grade when I would make my Confirmation. I had been a part of a youth group at my home parish of St. Elizabeth Seton during my freshman year of High School and worked at the parish Vacation Bible School during the summers. In spite of all this, I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus. I believed that God exists, but I did not have a regular habit of private prayer. I knew that the Catholic Church taught that the bread and wine became Jesus at Mass and, while I wanted to believe it, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I can count on both hands the number of times I had gone to confession in my life. Without realizing it, I began to desire an experience of the Faith which would change me to the core of who I was.

When I was a senior at Ridgefield High School a friend, who had broken his collarbone playing the sport, convinced me to join the wrestling team. That same friend convinced me to attend a retreat called Emmaus. For those of you who are familiar with the Cursillo movement, Emmaus is a high school version the Cursillo retreat experience. I, along with thirty or so other high school students, arrived at the retreat center on Friday evening not quite knowing what to expect. I had never made a weekend retreat before and was a bit anxious.

Over that weekend we heard talks from various teens and adults about how everything changed when God became the center of their lives. More so than their words, I was moved by the joy that the people working the retreat exemplified. I wanted to experience that joy! On Saturday evening I went to confession for the first time since Confirmation. I had never made an integral confession, that is, a confession where I confessed all of my sins. As many people experience, I had done things which I felt that I could not tell anyone, not even a priest. Despite what you might be thinking, the confession that weekend was not an integral one either. It was a start however. It would set me on a path towards a freedom which would be life changing. I will write about that next week.

After the confession I went to the chapel and sat in front of the altar to pray. As I sat there I felt a wave of God’s love and mercy wash over me. It was as if He was telling me. “I love you and there is nothing you can do which will keep Me from loving you.” I sat there and wept, so moved was I by this realization. God is real and He loves me. He created me for Himself. How awesome is that?

After the retreat I was eager for more. A friend of mine invited me to attend his youth group at St. Mary’s in Ridgefield where he would be giving a chastity talk. “I don’t know what chastity is,” I told him, “but I’d love to come!” I attended the group from April to June of that year and would sign up to attend a youth retreat that summer offered at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.

During the spring, I helped out with another Emmaus retreat and went to confession with a priest named Fr. Nick Cirillo. He was a last minute addition to the team and all I knew about him was that he was the chaplain at Trinity Catholic High School. Again, I tried to confess all of my sins, but there were some I held back.

Stay tuned for next week’s article where I will talk about the experience of the Steubenville retreat and how God changed my life in an irreversible way.