WreathFor the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday December 6, 2015

Pastor’s Corner: Tuesday, December 8th, is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the patronal feast day of the United States. At the end of the Sixth Provincial Council of Baltimore in 1846, the American Bishops decreed our nation should be placed under the protection of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. The American Bishops did this as their sign of support for Blessed Pope Pius IX in his efforts to define the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception. But there was more than the 19th century American bishops being “politically correct” by supporting the pope. They earnestly desired to place the growing nation under the protection of Our Lady: since it was Mary whose obedience had united God to humankind in her womb, and under whose tutelage and protection was placed the salvation of the world, in the Person of Her Divine Son, Mary would prove the perfect spiritual mother for our nation. The pope desired to define formally this ancient belief of the faithful: that, while Saints Joachim and Anne had normal sexual relations as husband and wife in order that Anne might conceive, it was God’s grace that preserved Mary from the effects of Adam’s Original Sin from the moment she was conceived in her mother’s womb. This Original Sin is that with which each human being is born, the effects of which are our tendency to want to sin, the fruit of which is our death.

Why would the pope so desire to define this belief in the middle of the 19th century? Because Pope Pius IX understood quite clearly that society was developing in a way that would urge the world to forget God in favor of “progress”, while re-defining the human person: in 1848 Karl Marx had published his Communist Manifesto, which would blossom 50 years later in the Russian Revolution and the horrors of Communism; the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, and would soon enslave millions around the world in the grip of grinding poverty and endless work; Prussia, France and England were developing exclusive, excessive nationalistic loyalties, with massive armies and military industries that would lead to two world wars. In all these movements, early in their development by the mid-19th century, the pope was the only world leader who understood that men and women were being re-defined by governments and industries as worthy of life only by their productivity in industry, their usefulness to a political party, loyalty to the state, their nationality or their race.

Pius saw his task as the one leader whose teachings would gain him nothing personally. He taught simply to remind humanity about who we are: our dignity and right to exist comes from our being created in the Image and Likeness of God, redeemed by God’s Eternal Son-made-man in the womb of the Virgin Mary. We are not important only because of our work. So, in 1854, backed by the Catholic bishops and faithful from around the globe, Blessed Pope Pius IX showed the world the power of the Catholic Church by formally reminding the world that nothing is more important in the world than God; and that nothing is more important to God than us.

Our Lady is the most perfect example of a human being, prepared by God from eternity to be the Mother of God: she didn’t create God, who exists from all eternity. But she gave to the Eternal and unseen Son of God a human mind, heart, soul, will and body: the ever-existing God entered into human history and became man in the womb of Mary, in order to free us from sin and death. One of the most beautiful reflections of this is a homily given by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, whose writings form part of the Church’s teachings about Our Lady and Her Immaculate Conception:

“It befitted God to be born of none but a virgin, and it befitted the virgin that having borne God she should bear no other. The Creator of men, in becoming himself a man, had to choose, indeed even form, the kind of mother he knew befitted him and knew would please him. Therefore, he wanted her to be a virgin so that from a spotless one he, the Spotless One, might come forth to cleans away the sins of all mankind. He wanted her to be humble from whom he, as the m an meek and humble of heart, would be born; he wanted her to give a salutary example of all the virtues. Therefore he made the Virgin conceive, for she earlier offered her vow of virginity to him but had also won the merit of humility.
These were the glorious jewels of mind and body that adorned the royal Virgin. Her beauty was known in heaven, whose citizens gazed on her with admiration; she attracted the eyes of the King to herself and few down a heavenly messenger to greet her. The angel was sent to a virgin’: a virgin in flesh and spirit, a virgin by deliberate intention, a virgin such as the Apostle Saint Paul describes, holy in mind and body. The Lord did not stumble on her by accident but chose her from eternity; the Most High prepared her, the angels preserved her, the fathers pointed her out, the prophets promised her coming” [Sermon II, In Praise of the Virgin Mary].

And why did the pope accede to the American bishops’ desire that Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception should be the patroness of America? Because the pope had great hopes for the United States as the only nation under whose laws and freedoms the Catholic Church might prosper and grow. And he was right: in all European countries, throughout Asia, and in nearly all the countries of Central and South America, the Catholic Church was persecuted throughout the 19th and 20th centuries: Catholic schools, universities and churches closed, all church property seized, clergy and sisters imprisoned, killed and forbidden to wear clerical dress publicly. It is the same reason Blessed Pope Pius IX blessed the efforts of American bishops to build churches and schools for the millions of immigrant Catholics arriving in the United States, such as our own basilica, established as an independent parish in 1854—the same year of the definition of the Immaculate Conception; and the same reason that blessed pope established the American seminary in Rome in 1859. Nourish America, because it understands humanity’s need for freedom to worship God.

On December 8th, let us recall Our Lady’s faith and virtues, and the fact that a pope gave her to us Americans as our patroness and guide to remind us Americans—nothing is more important than God; and nothing is more important to God than us, through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. —Monsignor DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: Chris Seely, Jacqueline Domingue, Mary Churley, John & Joan Kronk, Mary Lena Cocchia, Alexandre Laurent, John MacLean, John Murray, Karyl Suzanne Bearden, Kevin O’Byrne, Barbara Itri, Victoria Campos, Suzanne DePreta, Rita Timon, Diane Grant, Mary Bauer, Mary Rose Bauer, Catherine Longo, 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: Doris Byrd, Santiago Collazo, Klebert Lorent, Susanne Depreta, Margaret Lupo, 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.

Holy Day of Obligation: Tuesday, December 8th: The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception: The Vigil Mass will be offered on Monday, December 7th at 5:15 pm and Masses on December 8th: 8 a.m., 12:10 p.m. and 5:15 p.m.

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:

Faith On Tap: This Tuesday, December 8th: 7:00 pm in Murphy’s Townhouse Café on Jefferson Street. Stump the Priest!, with your questions on the Catholic Faith & Church for young Catholics 21-39.

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 following 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 at evenings including Exposition and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament, inspiring sermons, and Confession. Plan to join us with the whole family.

The 375 Anniversary of the Founding of Stamford begins on January 3, 2016: 1:30-3:00 p.m. at the Old Town Hall, Monsignor DiGiovanni will deliver the keynote address about religious faith in the life and development of Stamford. We need Saint John’s parishioners to make a strong showing, so please join us.
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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. Includes roundtrip airfare, all airline fees and taxes, hotel with daily buffet breakfast, taxes and surcharges, 1 lunch, 5 dinners, English speaking professional tour guide and sightseeing.  Information? call Frank Carpanzano at 203-975-8833 ext.3004.

New Covenant House of Hospitality: St. John’s will begin volunteering at the local Catholic soup kitchen the first Wednesday of every month, beginning January 6, 2016 from 10:30 a.m. through 1:30 p.m. for the noon meal. If you are interested in lending a hand [food shopping, food preparation, help serve the meal and/or clean up], please call the Rectory and speak with the parish secretary, Cindy: 203-324-1553, ext. 21 or Monsignor at extension 11. Let’s discuss your role in helping the needy.

Weekly Sunday collection:

Sunday November 29, 2015 $ 14,466.31
Sunday November 30, 2014 $ 12,738.14

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 13th, Sunday Readings: Zep 3:14-18a; Phil 4:4-7; Lk 3:10-18.

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 or Monsignor at spqrnac@gmail.com.

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 Scouting? 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 brother, son, nephew, cousin or grandson of elementary school age who is interested in becoming a Cub Scout, please email Father Vill at frvill@diobpt.org with the subject Cub Scouts to express your interest.

A Day of Discernment with Bishop Caggiano: Saturday, January 9, 2016 9AM to 8PM – For men between the ages of 18 and 35 to consider the priesthood, at St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford; a day of prayer, Mass, talks, and individual meetings with priests. Come and see what God might have in store for you! Registration required. Please email the Office of Vocations: vocations@diobpt.org
OR speak with Monsignor, Father Al or Father Vill.

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 Father Vill at frvill@diobpt.org.

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, December 5, 2015
4:00 +Elizabeth and John A. Coughlin Jr. req. children
Sunday, December 6, 2015
7:30 +William and Elizabeth Skelly McNamara req. 7 daughters
10:00 In Honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus req. Maria Trivino
12:00 +Edna Holt and son req. Marion Morris and Family
5:00 +Fr. Peter M. Rinaldi, SDB
6:00 People of the Parish
Monday, December 7, 2015
8:00 Mike Guarnieri
12:10 +Dina Caimano req. Marc Romano
5:15 Alex, Monica and Antonio Marchetti req. Ferry G.
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
8:00 +Virginia and Eileen Carr req. Marie Carr
12:10 Prayer for Priests req. Marion Morris
5:15 Special Intentions Stevens Jeff Marcel
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
8:00 +Doris McMahon req. Tom Timon
12:10 +Patrick Kane and Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane and Family
Thursday, December 10, 2015
8:00 Mary Spetland
12:10 +Luisa Oberkatter req. Lucy Espinoza
Friday, December 11, 2015
8:00 Jack Walsh
12:10 +Teopista Lubega
Saturday, December 12, 2015
8:00 +Hope and Joseph McAleer req. McAleer Family
12:10 +Noemi Isidro req. daughters

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. For more information, 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: 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.

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

St. John’s in THE ADVOCATE:

CATHOLIC CHURCH TROOP GETS ITS CHARTER: The Advocate: February 26, 1927: “Stamford Troop 22 Boy Scouts of America, sponsored by St. John’s Recreational Club of St. John’s Catholic Church, was formally presented with their troop charter at the installation ceremonies at the indoor track meet at the armory last night. The public ceremony was a feature of the athletic meet conducted by the St. John’s Recreation Club. The ceremony included acceptance of office by the troop committee composed of Herman C. Rheaume, Rev. Henry Callahan, and William J. O’Connell.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Please read Father Andy Vill’s note on page four of the bulletin “Interested in Cub Scouts?” St. John’s Troop 22 enjoyed a long and glorious history from 1926 to 1966, producing fifteen Eagle Scouts from among its ranks. The Eagle Scout award is the highest award in Scouting and is awarded to only a small percentage of those boys who enter scouting. The following is St. John’s Troop 22 Eagle Scout Roll of Honor:

  1.  Raymond Farrell—August 2, 1930.
  2. Joseph Bohannan—February 14, 1931.
  3.  Thomas Tunney—February 14, 1931.
  4.  Everett Mastrich—December 18, 1931.
  5.  Thomas Kerrigan—December 18, 1931.
  6.  John Ennis—December 18, 1931.
  7.  Robert Herrgen—September 26, 1932.
  8.  Donald Reyen—September 26, 1932.
  9.  Robert Graham—September 26, 1932.
  10.  James O’Brien—February 15, 1934.
  11.  Robert Thayer—February 15, 1934.
  12.  Craig Kellogg—June 28, 1937.
  13.  Joseph Connolly—February 19, 1959.
  14.  John Connolly—September 10, 1964.
  15.  Mark Sileo—May 19, 1966.

In addition to these, Frederick E. Miller, Jr. Esq. , St. John’s School, Class of 1953, attained the rank of Life Scout, scouting’s second highest honor and became the Scoutmaster of Troop 22 in the 1960s.
John Ennis was the grandson of John Ennis, architect and builder of the upstairs chapel of St. John’s Church

Your editor, Lawrence J. Bolanowski, is himself the proud father of Eagle Scout Eugene J. Bolanowski, awarded in February 1998.)

April 2016 Pilgrimage to Spain
-Fr. Andy Vill

G.K. Chesterton is quoted as having said that “the whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” When I think about my experience in Europe to study for the priesthood, I have come to appreciate, in some radically new ways, the “American way” of doing things. Sometimes this appreciation had come through recognizing that the way I am used to doing things is not only way or even always the best way. Other times I have had my convictions solidified that our way IS the best way. This recognition of cultural differences was never more acute than in the context of the Catholic faith as it was lived out in different countries.

During my five years in Italy I was able to travel quite a bit and because of an American friend who joined a religious community in Madrid; Spain became a second home to me. In my second year I stayed for Christmas with the community in Madrid speaking mostly English and Italian to make myself understood. As Providence would have it, I would study and learn Spanish. Carrying out his desire for me to learn Spanish, I was sent by Bishop Lori to Madrid for a month of intensive language study in 2012. In that summer and during subsequent visits to Spain I was able to see Avila, Segovia, Cadíz, El Puerto de Santa Maria, Toledo, Seville, Cordoba, and even hike the final section of the Camino de Santiago.

Spain is a special place. A friend of mine from Seville explained this to me while we hiked the Camino de Santiago (St. James) which commemorates the apostle who evangelized that great land. “Jesus gave His three closest disciples His three greatest loves. To Peter, He gave His Church, to John He gave His Blessed Mother, and to James He gave Spain!” In each of the locations I have visited I learned about and came to love the rich history of the Spanish people and, in a particular way, the way God inspired many to sainthood on the Iberian Peninsula. Whether it was learning about St. Josemaría Escrivá and Opus Dei during my time in Madrid or experiencing the Holy Week pasos in Seville or visiting la Mezquita in Cordoba (a former mosque turned cathedral), I have been enriched by the experience of the Catholic faith in Spain. As a result, I have come to understand the American Catholic experience with a renewed perspective and appreciation.

Wanting to share this experience with you, it is with great pleasure that I invite you to join me this upcoming April on a pilgrimage through central and southern Spain to see various Catholic sites and to experience the faith of a country which produced saints such as Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Angela of the Cross, Josemaría Escrivá, Theresa of Avila, John of the Cross and more. From April 11th through the 21st we will travel through Spain on pilgrimage hoping to return the USA with a renewed sense of wonder at our own homeland and the unique ways which we celebrate our Faith. Details of this pilgrimage can be found on the MARK YOUR CALENDARS section of this bulletin. Won’t you consider joining us for this adventure of faith?