For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday November 29, 2015

Pastor’s Corner: Advent is the season of preparation for Christmas. As with the daily preparations for the holiday, such as buying a good looking tree, deciding on a Christmas dinner menu, looking for the right Christmas gifts for everyone, we should include our own personal preparation for Christmas, AND our personal preparation for eternal life: not alone, but with the entire Church, including the Saints. The scriptural readings for Mass during the first two Advent weeks are about the end of the world. Why? Because the birth of the Savior ushers in the end times, the final period leading to the return of Jesus at the end of time. So, we begin preparing to celebrate the Savior’s first coming, at Bethlehem as an infant, by reminding ourselves of the reason God became a man: to free us from eternal death, which will be meted out at the Last Judgment by Jesus: God who became man at Bethlehem in order to pay for our sins on the Cross, and rise in His human body to destroy death for us. His second coming will be to judge humanity about how it has responded to God becoming man in the interim centuries since His birth, death and resurrection to the end of time. Do we live for God or ignore Him? As members of the Church, we are, after all, spiritually linked with every Catholic who has ever lived, as well as with the angels, saints, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Our Lord, Himself, who is the “Head of the Church”, which is His Mystical Body, as Saint Paul tells us.

The gift we prepare for the Lord is not purchased in the Mall; it is an interior gift of the heart, based first and foremost on our love for Him. If we love someone, we first consider how to please that person we claim to love, lest we do something to hurt or offend the person we claim to love. During these few weeks of Advent, prepare yourself to please Our Lord in everything you do. That’s your gift to God: get yourself into the habit of asking yourself before you do something, “Will this please God?” Pleasing to God, by which we mean that the action contemplated should show that you love God above everything else, and that the action contemplated will not harm anyone or take advantage of anyone, or use anyone. Only after answering those two questions should one proceed to action or to rejection of the doing of that which is contemplated. If we claim to love God, you cannot use, cheat, harm or destroy those around you: who are the Image of God. Such a program of disciplining your actions by asking such questions is in accord with Our Lord’s boiling down of the 10 Commandments to two: You shall love the Lord your God with your whole mind, and heart and strength. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Putting God in the forefront of your mind before you do anything each day is a good habit to get into for the 4 weeks of Advent.

There are other small acts of piety and charity you might do during Advent, as a way to prepare to celebrate Christmas. How about visiting a Catholic church each day. If convenient, stop by the Basilica before or after work, or during your lunch break. You don’t have to do anything dramatic: just pop in, light a candle and say a prayer for your family; or ask Him to help you find a job; or ask God’s blessing on a project you’re working on; or thank Him for the blessings you have received. This could be a daily pilgrimage: if not to the Basilica, to any other Catholic church that might be close by your work or home. Our Lord is always there in the tabernacle, waiting for you to stop by. Or, how about going to Confession? This sacrament is the normative means Our Lord gave us for the forgiveness of sins. The priests hear confessions every day of the week at St. John’s.

How about a simple act of charity? You know those Salvation Army Santas standing around everywhere ringing bells: drop you loose change in the bucket to help those they help. Or, send a gift to the local Catholic soup kitchen; The New Covenant House of Hospitality at 90 Fairfield Avenue, behind the Yerwood Center, here in Stamford. Or, better yet, drop in and ask if you can volunteer to help serve meals to the needy during Advent. Another simple act of charity: clean out your closet, and bring your unused clothing to Goodwill to help those in need.

At this point, you might be asking, “Has the pastor nothing interesting to write this weekend in this bulletin column?” I am rarely at a loss for words, as you know. Since we’ve all gone through a million Advents and a million Christmases, what does one do that’s “new” and “original”? You don’t Have to invent something flashy. Well, how about the basics? And trying to please God in our daily actions is about as basic as one can get.

The older I get, the more I realize that the basics are the most important things in life. Love God; Love your family:what my parents taught me—to respect others and help those in need; urging kids to get a good education; fostering curiosity; enjoying beautiful music; the thrill of beauty in nature, art and architecture; thanking God for His many and usually unexpected and undeserved blessings. So, as I get older, the question returns: what should I do? And the answer is the same: try to please God. Not too dramatic; not very glitzy; not too original; but quite the basics of life in one phrase: please God by the way you treat others, who are the Image of God.

So, there is my suggestion for Advent: get into the daily habit of pleasing God in everything you do, whether in your relations with family and friends; whether in business or sports or leisure, please God by not hurting or using others or abusing yourself. That is pleasing to God. You might also consider joining us for our Advent mission: Monday, December 14th, Tuesday, December 15th and Wednesday, December 16th, from 7:30 p.m.– 8:30 p.m.,:a Holy Hour, a spiritual conference, Confessions, Adoration, prayer, and Benediction. Make an effort and go out of your way for God. Especially, since He has gone out of His way for you—that’s what we celebrate at Christmas: God coming from Heaven to become a man in order to rescue us from ourselves, our sins and death. Let’s please God in everything, and we’ll be happier here and forever in Heaven. Happy Advent! —Monsignor DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: Jacqueline Domingue, Mary Churley, John & Joan Kronk, Mary Lena Cocchia, Alexandre Laurent, 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, Mary Bauer, Mary Rose Bauer, Catherine Longo, Lee Kaplan, Paolo Cavallo, Silvana Smith, Josh Frank, Mildred Beirne, Joe Brennan, Betty Brennan, Nancy Gallagher, Billy Therriault, Loy Mulyagonja, Ben Castle, Jay & Catherine Olnek, Marie Augustin .

Please pray for those who have recently died: Stanton Parrish, Pauline Whitehead, Suor Ada Marchetti, Ilse Pollard, Marge (Longo) DiDonato, Richard Hughes, Michel Lops, Louise Munro, Rene Lafleur, Victor Lafleur, John Gannon, Richard Saunders.

Our Lady’s Altar Votive Light: Special Intentions Anita Fasanelli

WANT TO BE A CATHOLIC? OR, are you a Catholic who would like a refresher course in the Faith, OR have you never received First Communion or Confirmation? These (R.C.I.A.) classes are for you: Wednesdays 7:30-9:00pm in the Rectory. This is an eleven week course of studies that repeats during the winter/spring; so, if you miss a class or two, you can easily make them up. Please call the rectory for information (203-324-1553, ext. 21).

Mark your Calendars:

Rorate Mass, Saturday, December 12th: 6am in the Basilica: a candle-lit High Mass of Our Lady in English with our parish Gregorian Choir. Coffee and pastries in the parish hall immediately after Mass.

Handel’s Messiah, Saturday, December 12th: 8pm in the Basilica, performed by the Stamford Symphony and Choir: A wonderful event! Limited number of tickets available. For tickets: Call today 203-325-4466, or go to www.stamfordsymphony.org.

Parish Advent Retreat, December 14, 15, 16: 7:30-8:30 pm in the Basilica. Prepare for Christmas by spending some time with Our Lord in our parish: the evenings will include Exposition and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament, inspiring sermons, and Confession. Plan to join us with the whole family.

The Religious Education Program: Thanks you for another successful Canned Food Drive! More than 120 bags of food were packed for the needy in our parish as well as for the St. Joseph’s Parenting Center in Stamford. This year’s donations exceeded all previous ones! Thanks to all of our generous parishioners for making a difference in the lives of many families this Thanksgiving!

Catholic Pilgrimage to Spain with Father Andrew Vill…April 11 – 21, 2016:
Madrid, Toledo, Salamanca, Seville, Cordoba and Avila (St. Theresa).
Cost: $3,299 per person (double occupancy) from JFK. Price includes roundtrip airfare,  all airline fees and government taxes, hotel with daily buffet breakfast, Hotel taxes  and surcharges, 1 lunch, 5 dinners, English speaking professional tour guide and sightseeing.  For more information, please call Frank Carpanzano at 203-975-8833 ext.3004.

Weekly Sunday collection:

Sunday November 22, 2015 $ 10,835.00 (Parade)
Sunday November 23, 2014 $ 11,134.12 (Parade)

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

December 6th, Sunday Readings: Bar 5:1-9; Phil 1:4-6, 8-11; Lk 3:1-6.

Police: Please remember the members of our Stamford Police Department in your prayers.

Baptism/Confirmation Sponsorship Certificate: When asked to be a sponsor, a certificate is needed from your home parish. If the 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 203-348-4355 or www.birthright.org.

St. Monica Biblical Greek Grammar: Thursdays at 6:30 pm, in the Rectory. 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.

St. Monica Latin Reading Group:  Thursdays at 12:45 in the Rectory.  We are continuing our review of ecclesiastical Latin using Second Latin by Cora and Charles Scanlon.  Currently, we are reading excerpts from the Summa Theologica  of St Thomas Aquinas.  An intermediate reading ability in Latin is necessary.  Please call the Rectory for information.

Volunteers: FUTURE 5 is a non-profit organization to help motivated low income high school students in Stamford to improve themselves and their future. We need volunteers to do one-on-one student work, such as college coaches, job prep coaches, and teachers. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Fanny Moran: fmoran@futurefive.org

Job Seekers: Led by Melanie Szlucha whose company, Red Inc., a leader in helping find jobs. More info, see: www.redinc.biz or 203-866-1606: There’s no charge. Next meeting: Monday, January 25th 7:30PM Location: Cosi at 230 Tresser Blvd, (in front of the Stamford Mall).

Interested in Cub Scouts? We are looking to start a Cub Scout Pack here at the Basilica. If you are an adult who would like to be involved as a scout leader, or you have a boy of elementary school age who is interested in becoming a Cub Scout, please email Fr. Vill at frvill@diobpt.org with the subject Cub Scouts to express your interest.

March For Life January 22nd, 2016: We want to gage if there is enough interest to get a bus to go down to the March for Life in Washington DC this year. If you are interested please email Fr. Vill at frvill@diobpt.org.

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, November 28, 2015
4:00 Deceased Family Members
Sunday, November 29, 2015
7:30 +Kathleen Hennessy req. Christine Carey
10:00 In Honor of Saint Rita req. Maria Trivino
12:00 +Elizabeth and John A. Coughlin Jr. req. children
5:00 +Fr. Peter M. Rinaldi, SDB
6:00 +Patrick Kane and Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane and Family
Monday, November 30, 2015
8:00 Special Intentions Alexandra Laurent req. Mom
12:10 +Anne Dudas req. Tom and Olga Kolenberg
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
8:00 +Patrick Timon req. Tom Timon
12:10 Special Intentions Stevens Jeff Marcel
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
8:00 +Margaret M. Timon req. Tom Timon
12:10 +Fernand Constant req. Geralda Constant-Berrouet
Thursday, December 3, 2015
8:00 Souls in Purgatory req. Lucy Espinoza
12:10 +Gerald Mullins req. Ed Nemchek
Friday, December 4, 2015
8:00 +Saturia Pretel req. Lucy Espinoza
12:10 +Laura Pascale req. John Pascale
Saturday, December 5, 2015
8:00 Souls in Purgatory req. Maria Trivino
12:10 +Angelina Corcione

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 are welcome. We finish in time for the 8a.m. Mass.

Pray to end Legalized Abortion: Fridays, 7:45a.m.-10a.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:— Biblical Greek: Intermediate Grammar: Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm in the rectory. Call Monsignor DiGiovanni for more information (203-324-1553, ext 11).

St. Monica Latin Reading Group: Thursdays at 12:45 in the Rectory.

Coffee Hour: There is no Coffee Hour this Sunday, November 29th, because of Thanksgiving. Coffee Hour will resume next Sunday December 6th, after the 10a.m. Family Mass in the Monsignor Nagle Parish Hall.

St. John’s in THE ADVOCATE:

145 years ago, or so:
Dec. 1, 1871: “Seely’s Hall was crowded last evening by the members of the St. John’s R. C. Benevolent society, who, with their friends, enjoyed the pleasure of the dance till a late hour. The annual balls of this society furnish amusement and pleasure to hundreds, and the ball last night was no exception to the rule.”

135 years ago, or so:
Dec. 5, 1879: St. John’s R. C. Exhibition. “A house packed from floor to gallery by a sympathetic and delighted audience, the stage filled with a host of pink and muslin young girls, the smallest in the front rank, and so on in order of stature to the rear, the ensemble presenting a blooming “garden of girls” as picturesque as it was significant of the care and labor which the good sisters, and other managers of the affair, had bestowed upon its preparation.”

130 years ago, or so:
Dec. 5, 1884: A Run of Luck. “James Hudson, who claims to be the organist of St. John’s R. C. Church because he supplies the wind for Mr. Smith, took several chances on the various articles bid for at the late fair. On Wednesday it was announced that he had won the gold handed cane, and James “did it up” in good style in consequences. Not content with one victim in the family, young Will Hudson, his son, attended a raffle Saturday evening at Henry Dorre’s hotel on Manhattan St., and threw thirty-seven which won a twenty pound turkey, which was eaten on Sunday by the Hudson family. James has been threatening to paint the town ever since, and no doubt will keep his word.”

75 years ago, or so:
Dec. 6, 1939: St. John’s Boys’ Brigade Unbeaten Over Span of Two years. “The St. John’s Catholic Boys’ Brigade will hold their second annual athletic and award banquet this evening at seven o’clock at the St. John’s School hall. The guests of honor will be the brigade football team which has just finished its second undefeated and untied season. The brigade team has a very enviable record during the past two years, scoring a total of 412 points to 42 for their opponents. This year alone they totaled 253 points to 24. In no game since their organization did the opposing team ever make more than one touchdown in any one game. Within the next few weeks the brigade expects to fill its schedule of Winter sports of boxing and basketball, with both teams seeing action in the school hall.”

A Return to Normalcy On Thanksgiving
-Fr. Andy Vill

This last Thursday was the first time that I have been able to spend Thanksgiving with my family since 2009. For me it was a return to normalcy after many missed holidays and significant moments in the lives of my family and friends who are Stateside. In my first year of major seminary I wrote home about my first Thanksgiving in twenty-two years that I was NOT with my family. I have included an excerpt from that letter below.

While it took three long months in Italy before my theology courses began at the university, Thanksgiving Day seemed to be upon us at the North American College (NAC) in no time at all. As with many other seminarians studying in Rome, Thanksgiving was the first major holiday that I had ever spent away from my family. The NAC community realizes this and makes every effort for us feel at home. For the rest of Italy, the third Thursday of November is like any other Thursday. For us at the NAC, it was anything but.

I began my day at 6 a.m. by running in the first ever Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot in Rome. It was a 5k race around Vatican City State and ended at the main entrance of the College. This was the first 5k race I had ever run and it was great fun! Toward the end of the race, I took a wrong turn and ran around the front rather than the rear of a hospital building. It was so early and a group of people was setting up a newsstand on a corner. When they saw the numbers pinned to my shirt, they all cheered and clapped for me. Remember, this was just another Thursday for the rest of Rome. No other runners had passed their stand so they likely thought I was lost …or in first place in a race of really slow runners! By the time I made my way back up the Janiculum Hill upon which the college is perched, most of the runners had already finished. The first few had the joy of clocking a fast time, but coming in at the end I had nearly sixty participants waiting for me at the finish line, cheering me on in my last fifty meters. What a great way to start Thanksgiving!

At 8:30 a.m. the men on my corridor gathered for a breakfast of sausage, eggs, and home fries (which my hall deacon and I had prepared). It was wonderful to share in fraternity with the men with whom I had lived the last few months. For our Thanksgiving dinner, we sat according to our home state. The men from Connecticut and Vermont sat together because combined there are only ten of us. The men in their fifth year of theology (who had been ordained priests in the spring) served the meal. The deacon who chairs the NAC’s Pastoral Council Board (a fourth year seminarian) served as master of ceremonies. The meal was traditional Thanksgiving fare: turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, but we also had pumpkin ravioli …because our Italian chefs cannot imagine a meal that does not have at least one pasta dish. The honorable Miguel H. Díaz, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, was there with his family and read the Thanksgiving Declaration on behalf of the President of the United States. At one point, a friend turned to me and remarked, “This dinner is just like Thanksgiving back home!” to which I replied, “I don’t know about you, but my family doesn’t usually have a master of ceremonies at our Thanksgiving!”