For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the follwing link: Bulletin for Sunday December 13, 2015

Pastor’s Corner: Everyone knows that we celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th. But, who is Mary He? For a variety of Christian and non-Christian groups and organizations, the answer to that question varies: was he a philosopher, or a prophet, or just another religious man, like Buddha, Mohammed, or the Dalai Lama? Those answers are not even close. Jesus is much more, and His real identity is revealed to us by the Church: He is both God—existing forever, and man—named Jesus.
Beginning Thursday, December 17th, the Church gathers together some of the Old Testament prophecies about the Savior, telling us who He is. At daily Mass, these give hints about the identity and nature of the child born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem on December 25th. These are biblical prophecies placed in verse form in the 7th century, each beginning with the exclamation, O! Called the O’ Antiphons, they are addressed to Jesus, and continue through December 23rd. They tell us who Jesus is. Jesus is not just another prophet; He is God the Creator who became a man for us that we might come to share God’s eternal life. Here are the O Antiphons:

Dec. 17th: “O, Wisdom of the Most High, ordering all things with strength and gentleness, come and teach us the way of truth.”
Dec. 18th: “O, Ruler of the House of Israel, who gave the law to Moses on Sinai, come and save us with outstretched arm” [on the Cross].
Dec. 19th: “O, Root of Jesse [Father of King David], sent as a sign to the peoples, come to save us and delay no more.”
Dec. 20th: “O, Key of David, who opens the gates of the eternal kingdom, come to liberate from prison the captives [Adam and all his children, the human race] who live in darkness.”
Dec. 21st: “O, Morning Star, radiance of eternal light, sun of justice, come and enlighten those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death.”
Dec. 22nd: “O, King of the peoples and corner-stone of the Church, come and save mankind whom You made from the dust of the earth.”
Dec. 23rd: “O, Emmanuel, our king and lawgiver, come and save us, Lord our God.”

Saint Augustine described the effect of the birth of God in the flesh on Christmas: “The faithful God made himself our debtor, not by receiving something from us, but by his own promises. He even bound himself in writing in Scripture, as though handing us a written pledge; thus, when he would begin to carry out his promises, we could determine from the Scriptures the very order of fulfillment:

“God’s ultimate promise was of eternal salvation, unending blessedness with the angels, an everlasting and glorious inheritance, the sweetness of his face, his holy house in heaven, resurrection from the dead, and release from fear of death. . . Thus, he promised divinity to men, immortality to mortals, justification to sinners, and glory to the humble.

“Since all this might seem incredible to us, God not only put his promises in writing in Scripture, but also gave us a Mediator, his only Son, to show how he would lead us to the promised goal. More than this, he made his Son not only show the way but himself be the very Way” [Commentary on the Psalms; Psalm 109: 1-3].

On December 25th, Our Lord, the Eternal Son of the Father, Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, the Creator of the entire universe, was born in the flesh, given in the womb of the Virgin Mother; He came as God in the Flesh to rescue us from the power of sin and death. The great Easter Hymn, the Exsultet describes God’s saving work for us in Jesus: “To ransom a slave, you gave away your Son.” We are that slave, as Saint Paul writes, slaves to sin and death. Our response should be one of immense awe and gratitude before this divine generosity and charity for us. God began this great work, as the ancient Roman Martyrology described it, by “leaping down from His eternal throne in the fullness of time”. God became a man in order to raise us up to share His divine life forever, in the flesh. Not a bad Christmas gift, if you ask me! Prepare for Christmas by repenting of sin and going to confession: make that your Christmas gift to God.
—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: Marie Martin, 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.

Retirement Fund for Religious Collection . . . Please drop your Retirement Fund for Religious envelope into the ONE basket that will be passed at the Offertory. There will be one collection today.

WANT TO BE A CATHOLIC? OR, are you a Catholic who would like a refresher course in the Faith, OR are you Catholic but have 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:

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: 2:00-3:00 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. Refreshments will be served.
+++++
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 ext. 11. Let’s discuss how you can help the needy.

Interested in Cub Scouting? We are considering establishing 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.

Weekly Sunday collection:

Sunday December 6, 2015 $ 14,602.00
Sunday December 7, 2014 $ 14,165.95

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 20th, Sunday Readings: Mi 5:1-4a; Heb 10:5-10; Lk 1:39-45.

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 at Saint John’s is by tracking your contributions by check or envelope. If you are a practicing Catholic at the Basilica, please be generous.

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.

Project Rachel – Entering Canaan Day of Prayer and Healing Saturday – January 16, 2016 – For women suffering from a past abortion. Come begin your healing journey and experience God’s hope and mercy. For more information and confidential registration contact Maureen at Project Rachel at 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).

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 12, 2015
4:00 +Paul Palmer req. Carpanzano Family
Sunday, December 13, 2015
7:30 In Honor of Saint Rita req. Mayte
10:00 In Honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus req. Maria Trivino
12:00 +Mary and Michael Gallo Sr. req. Michael Gallo
5:00 +Fr. Peter M. Rinaldi, SDB
6:00 +Patrick Kane and Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane and Family
Monday, December 14, 2015
8:00 Monsignor Stephen M. DiGiovanni
12:10 Thanksgiving to God req. Ferry G.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
8:00 +Paul Oberkatter req. Lucy Espinoza
12:10 +Charles and Matthew Austin req. parents
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
8:00 +Rose Donahue and Mary Hynes req. Marie Carr
12:10 +Ernie and Erma Rizzo req. Pinto Family
Thursday, December 17, 2015
8:00 Monsignor Stephen DiGiovanni req. Hope and Jim Jagodzinski
12:10 +Antoinette Rubino req. Carla Coutant
Friday, December 18, 2015
8:00 +Elia Andrea req. Lucy Espinoza
12:10 Lilian Ramos req. Maria Trivino
Saturday, December 19, 2015
8:00 +Fabio Correa req. Friends of the Family
12:10 Padre Juan Pineda req. Maria Trivino

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:

150 years ago, or so:
Dec. 15, 1865: “The Second Annual Ball of the St. John’s Roman Catholic Benevolent Association takes place at Hoyt’s Hall, on Friday evening, Dec. 29. This is an excellent association and our Irish fellow-citizens will no doubt give liberally, and enjoy a happy social evening. Committee of Arrangements—John Kenealy, Robert Welch, Matthew Fagan, Thos. Hollern, Jeremiah Riordan. President—Patrick McKeon; Vice President, Wm. Brennan; Treasurer, Michael Coughlin; Secretary, Nicholas Donohue. Floor Managers—Patrick Mahon, Wm. Hickey, Eugene Drew.”

100 years ago, or so:
Dec. 17, 1917: Service Flags for Catholic churches. “St. John’s Catholic Church will soon be among the churches of the country that fly service flags. One has been ordered, and it will be put up as soon as it arrives, which ought to be before Christmas. A roll of honor will be placed in the vestibule of the church. It will contain upwards of 225 names. A complete list of the names of the members of the parish who are in the service is now being compiled. It is estimated that there are about 230 and the number will, of course, be increased later.” (EDITOR’S NOTE: A re-creation of the 1917 WWI service flag will be among the items to be displayed during St. John’s centennial commemoration of our parishioners who fought during the “Great War.” The exhibit is scheduled for mid-2016. Further details to follow.)

90 years ago, or so:
Dec. 8, 1927: SCOUTS QUALIFY FOR
ADVANCEMENT. “Scout Raymond Farrell, Troop 22, St. John’s R.C. Church, qualified for advancement to Star Scout rank, at the December session of the Court of Honor of the Stamford Council, Boy Scouts of America, held Tuesday night in the city court room, town hall. The Star Scout badge is awarded to the First Class Scout who has qualified for any five merit badges.”

80 years ago, or so:
Dec. 19, 1935: BOY SCOUTS ARE
ASSIGNED PARTS OF TOWN TO COVER. “To aid the Boy Scouts in their efforts to provide a toy for every child at Christmas, only six days off, each troop has been assigned a section of the town to cover, it was announced today by Scout Executive A. Wilson Beeny. The district assignment is as follows: Atlantic Street section, Troop 22, St. John’s R.C. Church, Scoutmaster David O’Keefe. The firemen are as busy as beavers repairing and repainting the toys already received. More are needed and time is short for making repairs.”

Cub Scouting is Coming to the Basilica!

-Fr. Andy Vill
I have been active in the Boy Scouts of America for the last 21 years. Some of those years have been more active than others, but it all started in Pack 74 when I was in the first grade at Ridgebury Elementary School in Ridgefield, CT. My older cousin Matt was already a scout in Monroe, but no one in my immediate family. Though my dad was never involved in scouts when he was growing up, he wanted to give me that experience. In my time as a Cub Scout I learned how to properly use and maintain a pocket knife, how to make a fire, how to build a survival shelter in the middle of the woods, how to change the tire of a car and many other skills.

Continuing in scouting during middle school and high school I went on a many 10 and 20 mile hiking treks, I learned how to rescue people who were drowning, how to tie knots and use an axe, how to communicate well, how to lead other boys effectively and eventually become the head of the Order of the Arrow (the Boy Scout’s National Honor Society) in Fairfield and New Haven County. I would go on to earn my Eagle Scout award, travel to Virginia for a National Scout Jamboree, Michigan for a National Order of the Arrow Conference, and New Mexico to do trail service and hike in the wilderness of the Philmont Scout Ranch.

All of these experiences were possible because my dad was willing to bring me to the Cub Scout open house and sign me up some 21 years ago. Because the experience of scouting had such an impact on me and many other men of this parish, we have decided to charter a new Cub Scout Pack at St. John’s. The Cub Scout program is open to boys in grades 1-5. When describing the program to parents who are unfamiliar with scouting, I usually like to describe it in the following way: scouting is a program which teaches boys how to be leaders among their peers and good citizens in their community by means of learning camping and outdoor skills. Many of the skills I learned as a scout I still use today. What stay with me the most are the successes and failures that I experienced which have taught me how to be an effective leader. The memories of adventures I had with my friends and classmates will remain with me for a lifetime.

Some parents have already expressed concern to me about the program being compatible with our Catholic Faith. One of my assignments as a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport is serving as the chaplain to the Boy Scouts of America in our diocese. Having a pack which is chartered by our parish will give our boys the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of scouting in a Catholic context. The pack is open to non-Catholics or non-parishioners, but all of the leadership will need to be approved of through the parish. Because of this we will be able to ensure that all of our leaders are adults who are living lives according to the precepts of our Catholic faith.
The Cub Scout adult leadership is being brought together this month and will be trained by the Scout Council in January. We hope to have a membership drive in the spring and then hit the ground running come the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year in August. If you are interested in signing up your son to be a Cub Scout or would yourself like to volunteer as a Cub Scout leader please contact me with questions at frvill@diobpt.org.