For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday January 3, 2016

Altar Pastor’s Corner: There is a host of practical construction projects completed each year here at the Basilica. Most are merely minor repairs; others are major, such as the restoration of the stained glass windows; the new slate roof; modernization and improvement of the church and rectory air conditioning and heating systems; repairs and painting of the interior of the Basilica; the construction of a new wooden altar; the solid wooden altar rail, replicating the original 1885 rail; renovation of the parish hall; the creation of new public rest rooms in the vestibule of the Basilica; and the bronze Saint Peter and Saint Padre Pio statues. These are some of the major projects completed during the 18 years since my arrival at Saint John’s.

In January additional work will begin inside the Basilica, this time in the sanctuary. The high altar dates from 1885; the sanctuary marble flooring and altar steps date from the late 1920s. The altar is of white Carrara marble and golden Mexican onyx; the floor of lesser quality marble. Both the high altar and the sanctuary floor are in dilapidated condition due to age, years of neglect, deferred maintenance, and repair work poorly executed during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, that seriously damaged the marble.

This restoration project of the high altar and the sanctuary floor will be completed in two phases. The first phase will begin on January 11th and continue during the subsequent three weeks. This phase will replace the present marble steps and marble platform in front of the high altar constructed in the 1920s. The marble is of a low grade, and the installation work was of equally poor quality, so that the platform is actually sinking, and the steps are fractured and broken in places. This phase of the project will remove the marble altar steps and platform and replace them in oak, replicating exactly the original 1885 design of wooden altar steps and platform to match the present wooden altar rail. The marble will be reused elsewhere. The broken marble slabs in the sanctuary flooring will be replaced. These were broken in the late 1960s/ early 1970s when a wooden platform was built extending into the sanctuary, and wooden planking was secured to the floor by the use of nail guns that shattered the marble.

The second phase of this project is the restoration and cleaning of the high altar, itself. This is the original 1885 altar, darkened by incense and candle soot, automobile exhaust from Atlantic Street, and other pollutants. There are a number of carved decorative pieces that have been damaged or broken over the years. The plaster holding the marble pieces together has also dried up, so many of the decorative carved pieces are loose; some have fallen and shattered into bits over the past decades. This project will remove all the marble from the interior brick core and base of the altar; clean and repair all the carved marble components; and rebuild the altar according to the original 1885 design, securing the restored marble pieces with fresh plaster. All this will be completed in time for Easter.

The entire project has been paid for by a generous parishioner who wishes to remain anonymous. Please remember him and his family in your prayers.
—Monsignor DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: Cathy Itri, Elaine Shoztic, Louise Morello, 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, 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: Marian Bissell, Domenic Civitillo, Suzanne DePreta, John Marena, Mary Fahey, Audrey Thorpe, 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.

Special Energy Collection . . . The second collection today will be the Special Energy Collection to help pay the Higher Energy and Fuel Costs for the parish. Your generosity is appreciated.

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

Let us also pray for the safety and safe return of our men and women serving in the USA armed services.

The opening event for the 375 Anniversary of the Founding of Stamford at the Old Town Hall has been rescheduled for Sunday, April 17th. Details to follow.

Kids Preaching: During the Christmas season, until February 2nd, parish school children who are attending religious education classes are invited to preach to the Baby Jesus. A small pulpit will be erected near the Nativity Set for this purpose. This is a centuries’-old practice begun by Saint Francis of Assisi to encourage children to express their faith and gratitude to the Baby Jesus.

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.

Wine into Water: One of our parishioners and his family own a superb wine shop. During the past years they have dedicated a percentage of their profits to Catholic Relief Services to dig wells in Ethiopia. A lack of adequate clean drinking water is a severe problem in parts of Africa. Last September, Bishop Nicholas Djomo, President of the Congo Catholic Bishops’ Conference, visited the Rectory and spoke of this good work. I think our parish should support these efforts to help Catholics in Ethiopia obtain clean drinking water. Anyone interested in joining in this good work would be welcomed as part of a Saint John’s initiative to help the needy in Stamford and around the world. Please call Monsignor [203-324-1553, ext 11] for more details.

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.

Rugby Anyone? Since we have many men in the parish who were Rugby players during their youth, I thought it might be an interesting project to begin an inter-parish league. If you are interested, please contact Monsignor: 203-324-1553, ext 11.

Weekly Sunday collection:

Not Available because of Early Bulletin Transmission Deadlines

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 10th, Sunday Readings: Is 42:1-4, 6-7; Acts 10:34-38; Lk 3:15-16, 21-22.

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.

MEN of SAINT JOHN’S: Looking for a spiritual boost? Come to the Rectory each Friday at 7 a.m. and join with 30 other men of the parish for coffee, prayer, Eucharistic adoration and Benediction. Out by 8 a.m. Due to Christmas and New Year’s, our next Friday meeting will be on January 8th. Come join us!

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.

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

New Covenant House of Hospitality: St. John’s will be 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 of Stamford.

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 charter a bus to go down to the March for Life in Washington DC this year. Interested? Please email Father Vill at frvill@diobpt.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.

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, January 2, 2016
4:00 Colleen Sharkey Kung req. Parents
Sunday, January 3, 2016
7:30 +James Spillane req. Mary Carlu
10:00 +Lewis R. M. Hall req. Jagodzinski Family
12:00 +Suzanna Donovan 21st Anniversary req. Marion Morris
5:00 +Peter Pia
6:00 People of the Parish
Monday, January 4, 2016
8:00 +Patrick Timon req. Tom Timon
12:10 +Margaret Conroy req. Ann Rafter
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
8:00 +Ann Picerni req. Patti Robinson
12:10 Souls in Purgatory req. Mr. and Mrs. Darrell Ingram
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
8:00 +Margaret M. Timon req. Tom Timon
12:10 +Francesco and Josephine Mancuso req. Anthony and Carolyn Conte
Thursday, January 7, 2016
8:00 +Ann Picerni req. Shelly Ward
12:10 Special Intentions Adriana Stange req. daughter
Friday, January 8, 2016
8:00 +Dennis Matregrano req. Mary Francis and Kieran Malone
12:10 Cindy Hulbert
Saturday, January 9, 2016
8:00 +Raymond Lohman req. Mary Francis and Kieran Malone
12:10 In Honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary req. Ferry G.

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:

155 years ago, or so:
Jan. 4, 1860: New Year’s day passed off quietly, so quietly that we, who have always been accustomed to the noise and gaiety and rushing about of one half the city calling upon the other half, could hardly bring ourselves to believe that this was the veritable “Happy New Year.” It being the feast of the Circumcision, there was Mass in the Roman Catholic Church.”

150 years ago, or so:
Jan. 8, 1869: “The Roman Catholic choirs are generally found to excel. This is true of the choir in the Catholic church in this town. Additional good voices and other improvements have been lately added, and though they appear to need a good organ, yet they produce very pleasing music.”

100 years ago, or so:
Jan. 7, 1916: “The Holy Name societies of St. John’s Catholic Church, St. Mary’s Catholic Church and the Church of the Holy Name are to assemble in St. John’s Catholic Church, on Sunday evening, at 7:30, to listen to a lecture by Rev. Joseph Byrne of Norwalk, who is superior of the Holy Ghost school.”

95 years ago, or so:
Jan. 7, 1921: LINEN SHOWER FOR CONVENT. “On Thursday, Jan. 13, from 4 to 6 p.m., and from 7 to 9 p.m., visitors will be received at the convent of St. John’s Catholic Church, on South Street. The visiting day will also be the occasion of a linen shower for the convent. There is a decided need for linen, the present quarters being much larger than those recently vacated by the Sisters of Mercy. Visitors who are unable to give linen may make donations of money with which to purchase it. It is expected that every member of St. John’s, particularly the parents of the parochial school children, will be interested in visiting and inspecting the new home of the Sisters of Mercy, who teach in the parochial school and do many other things for the parish and its children without monetary compensation.”

75 years ago, or so:
Jan. 5, 1940: “The junior and senior groups of the Children of Mary of St. John’s Catholic church will receive Holy Communion in a body on Sunday morning at the 8 o’clock Mass. The regular meeting of the senior society will be held on Monday, Jan. 15. Election of officers will take place.”

The Importance of Discernment
-Fr. Andy Vill

An important part of the Catholic lexicon is the word vocation. The word comes from the Latin vocare which means “to call.” This refers to the reality that God calls each one of us to living out our lives here on earth in a special way. God has a plan for each of our lives; simply put, everyone has a vocation. Typically, when someone hears the word vocation they think of priests or nuns who are consecrated to God. Our vocation comes from God and ultimately is a response to His call to love Him. We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).

It is easy to be fooled into thinking that more choices mean more freedom, but until we make a choice, we are not really living out our freedom. I will give you an example. During a recent road trip I made with a friend, we grabbed a bite to eat at a rest-stop. When it came time to get our drink, the restaurant had one of the soda machines with a touch screen and 126 different beverage options. Did I consider myself more free in my ability to choose exactly what I want since I had so many options? The problem is that until I finally chose a beverage for myself, I continued to go thirsty. How fulfilling is it for the thirsty man to stand in front of a machine with 126 soda options if he never chooses one to drink? It is in choosing that we live out our freedom, not in holding on to our ability to choose something else.

It can also happen in the spiritual life in this way. How often have you heard given (or perhaps yourself have given) the advice to young people who are dating, “Don’t you think you should date a few more people first before you marry to make sure that he/she is the one?” God has a plan for our lives. The problem is not that we need to doubt when we believe that we have found “the one” to marry or that we must “live a little” before we say yes to a priestly or religious vocation. What we need to be asking ourselves is this, “Is this how God is calling me to live holiness in the life?” Ultimately to determine our vocations we need to determine if the way we choose to live will bring us to heaven or not.

For those of us who have already responded to God’s call and are living out our vocation, we need to ask ourselves and God in prayer, “Am I living out well the promises/vows I made on the day of my ordination/final profession/wedding?” If I am not, “What concrete changes can I make in my life to live these promises/vows more faithfully?” For those of us still asking God how He wants us to live, there are a few simple steps to finding an answer. First of all, pray. Ask God directly, “God, what do you want me to do with my life? How are you calling me to be holy? What is your plan for me to joy-filled in this life?” Second, start being the person God is calling you to be. This means that you have to set aside sin and seek virtue. Go to confession when you fall. Jesus calls all of us beyond where we are now to where He wants us to be: So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Finally, speak to people already living out their vocations! Do you feel called to be married? Talk to your married friends about married life. Ask about the joys and struggles of that vocation. Do I want to get married or become a religious/priest is the wrong question. We should ask, “Is this what God wants for me?” If it is God’s will, he will give us peace and joy in our decision.

For any men between the ages of 18 and 35 who are considering the priesthood, there will be a day of prayer at St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford, next Saturday January 9th. This event is meant to help you to ask and answer the question, “God, is this what you are calling me to?” Please contact our new Vocation Director Fr. John Connaughton atvocations@diobpt.org to register.