For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday January 17, 2016

Altar 01-17-16 BulletinPastor’s Corner: The restoration project of the high altar and the sanctuary floor has begun, as you can see. The first phase began on January 11th with the removal of the marble altar steps and platform.

The altar marble steps and platform date from 1912-1914, and were part of a redecorating program begun by the pastor, Father James O’Brien, which included the frescoes in the sanctuary by Thomas Magee, which we recently uncovered and restored during the repainting of the Basilica. [O’Brien also built the bell tower and school] The marble was of a low grade quality. The marble and concrete beneath is was so heavy that the platform was actually sinking, and the steps were fractured and broken in places. The work was done in 1914 by Jeremiah Osmand, who purchased the marble from the Voska-Hoelisch & Sidlo Company. According to the parish ledger book for March 30, 1914, the cost of the marble and labor was $575.00 [$13,646. in 2016 dollars]. The weight of the marble-concrete platform and steps rested on a wooden substructure, which was a collection of odd-shaped scrap pieces of wood jerry-rigged in a haphazard fashion, nailed to main beams, and shimmed in places to give a level platform for the marble. While it lasted 100 years, this makeshift woodwork was the reason for the cracking and sinking of the altar platform. As the workmen continued last week, it was clear that the marble altar platform and steps were added after the original 1885 altar was completed. The high altar is secure because it rests on its own brick foundation, which goes through the church floor, through the parish hall, down to the floor of the parish hall, down to the church’s foundations. The wooden substructure for the altar steps and platform abutted against the high altar brick foundation, into which it was also anchored.

The sanctuary flooring, steps and platform were built between 1912-1914. As our workmen removed the steps, they made discoveries: a rat’s nest inside the hollow wooden substructure of the bottom marble step. Since the marble sat on top of a hollow wooden framework, the rats obviously entered through the rafters of the lower church, and made their way upstairs to the Basilica and inside the altar steps. What came to my mind was something a lifelong parishioner told me during my first year at Saint John’s 18 years ago: that two pastors of Saint John’s, Father James C. O’Brien [pastor 1900-1928] and Father Francis J. Lally [pastor 1928-1936] kept cats in the upper church and the lower church [now the Msgr. Nagle Hall], because there were rats and the proverbial church-mice. In fact, when we rebuilt the parish hall nearly 12 years ago, a dead and desiccated cat’s body fell from ceiling, no doubt trapped between the beams and plaster ceiling since before World War II! Our workmen also found some “artifacts” left by the 1914 workmen: a box for Mecca Cigarettes, and a paper bag for Beechnut Chewing Tobacco, bearing a tax stamp of 1910. Also, the waxed paper wrappings from their lunch, with the printing: “Reinhardt’s celebrated Cream Bread. New Canaan Bakery.” There were also some dried up banana peels! Obviously, the original workmen who built the marble altar platform and steps were not overly pious, smoking and eating lunch at the high altar itself, and stuffing their garbage inside the high altar steps as they built them! No wonder rats nestled inside the altar steps.

After removing the concrete and wooden substructure from the altar steps and platform, our present-day workmen began cutting new marble squares to replace those damaged in the 1960s when an earlier wooden altar and staging were built by Fr. Bertrand E. Parent [pastor 1963-1973]. The final work for the week was the construction of a new foundation for the new oak altar steps and platform. Next week, they will begin installing the new altar steps and platform, replicating exactly the original 1885 wooden altar steps and platform. This, and the wooden altar rail, will restore most of the sanctuary to its original 1885 design and look. The second phase of the work, the re-plastering and restoration of the 1885 high altar, will begin in late February and be completed in time for Easter.
—Monsignor DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: Joyce Simoneau Rybnick, Brianna Petigny, 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: Fr. Joseph Malloy, Alberico Faugno, Alvaro Paternina, Bonnie Keyes, Anne Duffell, 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.

Monthly Collection . . . The second collection today will be the monthly collection for the parish. Your generosity is appreciated.

Police:  As policemen and women are under attack throughout the country, we ask that you Please remember the members of our Stamford Police Department in your prayers. Likewise, mention in your prayers members of Stamford’s EMS and Fire Department, and our military women and men serving to protect our nation.

Construction: The altar restoration project will continue for another week. Daily Masses [8 a.m. & 12:10 p.m., Monday through Saturday] will be offered downstairs in the parish hall during this construction. Weekend Masses will continue to be offered upstairs in the Basilica.

Holy Hour for Life: Sunday, January 17th, 4:00-4:45 p.m. in the Basilica, for Exposition, Adoration and songs of praise for life, followed by the 5:00 p.m. Mass. Everyone is welcome to attend.

FAITH ON TAP: FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS and YOUNG ADULTS 21-39 years old: Tuesday, January 26th at 7-9pm at Murphy’s Townhouse Café on Franklin Street in Stamford. Free admission, cash bar, [ID’s required], with an introductory talk on Relationships: Moving Beyond the Battle of the Sexes by Dr. Greg Bottaro Bring a friend!!

UPPER ROOM: Thursday, February 4th: 7:30pm For Catholic adults 39 and older: 7:30-9pm at the Upper Room in Columbus Park Trattoria, 205 Main Street, Stamford. Free admission, cash bar [ID’s required]: Dr. David Bonagura, Jr, author and lecturer, will speak on the topic: “Was Virgil Catholic?” Obviously, he was not! He was a happy pagan. However, the author of the Aeneid has had an unparalleled influence on the development of Western Christian culture—even today. This is an insightful presentation about the Catholic Faith forming our culture. No charge: everyone is welcome. Join us for a fun, intellectually stimulating, and spiritual provocative evening at Columbus Park’s Upper Room.

Weekly Sunday collection:

Sunday January 10, 2016 $ 13,415.57
Sunday January 11, 2015 $ 10,694.04

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 24th, Sunday Readings: Neh 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10; 1 Cor 12:12-30; Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21.

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 with the subject Cub Scouts to express your interest.

MEN of SAINT JOHN’S: Looking for a spiritual boost? Holy Name is it! Come to the Rectory each Friday at 7 a.m. and join with 30 men of the parish for coffee, prayer, Eucharistic adoration and Benediction. Out by 8 a.m. Just walk in the front door of the Rectory. 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

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

Life Runners: Are you a runner interested in joining the fight against abortion through LIFE Runners (( Meet ups will consist of a monthly group run starting with prayer outside a local abortion clinic. No previous running experience is required. Please contact Diane Kremheller at for additional details.

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:

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

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.

Job Seekers: Led by Melanie Szlucha whose company, Red Inc., a leader in helping find jobs. More info, see: 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).

Parish women: are invited to a talk by Catholic author Hallie Lord, on Mon., Jan 25th  at 7:30pm in the Nagle Hall. Please Contact Lisa at 203-253-3499.

Religious Ed News: Sunday, January 17: No Class for Martin Luther King holiday.  Sunday, January 24: No Class. Classes are cancelled due to a change in the schedule.

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, January 16, 2016
4:00 +Antonio Lepore req. Nick and Ann Lepore
Sunday, January 17, 2016
7:30 Thanksgiving to God req. Thang Nguyen
10:00 +Constance Higgins req. Jagodzinski Family
12:00 +Maria Preziosi 23rd Anniversary req. your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren (Morris), John and Lindsey Ciglar
5:00 +Peter Pia
6:00 +Patrick Kane and Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane and Family
Monday, January 18, 2016
8:00 Souls in Purgatory
12:10 +Alex Ramirez req. Pascale Family
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
8:00 Alexandra and Gertha Laurent
12:10 +Ron DelMazzio req. Mr. and Mrs. Darrell Ingram
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
8:00 Ferry Galbert req. Andrew Mbabaali
12:10 +Antonietta and Jacobus Legierse req. Longo Family
Thursday, January 21, 2016
8:00 Special Intentions Matthew Hickman req. wife
12:10 Pray to Stop Abortion req. Marion Morris
Friday, January 22, 2016
8:00 +Patrick Kane and Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane and Family
12:10 +Dr. Vincent Kung req. Joseph Kung
Saturday, January 23, 2016
8:00 Joseph Kravar Sr. req. Fabiola
12:10 Bruno and Bromley Families req. Diane Strain

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, 35 Sixth 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: There is no Coffee Hour until Altar construction is finished.

St. John’s in THE ADVOCATE:

110 years ago, or so:
Jan. 18, 1905: PATRICK HANRAHAN IS DEAD. “Councilman Patrick Hanrahan was stricken with an attack of apoplexy at 9:30 this morning, while at breakfast at his home in Hawthorn Street. Mr. Hanrahan had been longer in service as a Councilman than any other man in the city. He was prominent in the affairs of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and was an active member of the local council of the Catholic Benevolent Legion. He held important offices in both. He was also actively identified with the affairs of St. John’s Roman Catholic Church.” (EDITOR’S NOTE: Patrick Hanrahan was the donor of a stained glass window in 1884. It is the first on the Bell Street side of the church.)

80 years ago, or so:
Jan. 21, 1936: NOVENA STARTS AT ST. JOHN’S CHURCH. “A large attendance of parishioners of St. John’s R. C. Church marked both the afternoon and evening exercises of the Novena to honor and imitate St. Anthony, begun yesterday, under the direction of the Rev. Francis X. Downey, S.J., of the Stamford Catholic Library. Father Downey asked parishioners to apply the works and life of St. Anthony of 700 years ago to their everyday lives; to make of their daily labors and prayers, that others may benefit, a sacrifice offered to God. Special prayers for the intercession of the patron saint are said at the Novena exercises.”

75 years ago, or so:
Jan. 18, 1939: Spiritual Retreat For Catholic Youth Of Stamford Planned. “The first annual mid-year spiritual retreat for boys and girls of high school age will be held in St. John’s Catholic Church Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 27, 28 and 29, it was announced today by the inter-parish Council of the Stamford Catholic Youth Organization. The retreat will be for boys and girls of every parish in Stamford and is not only for those who are attending school but for those of high school age who are working.”

55 years ago, or so:
Jan. 19, 1960: Stamford Native To Be Received In Priesthood. “The Rev. Mr. Charles Richter of 60 Grant Ave., son of the late Mrs. Regina Nurney Richter, will be ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood at St. John’s Church, Stamford, at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, February 2nd. The ordination ceremonies, believed to be the first ever held in a Roman Catholic Church in Stamford, will be conducted by the Most Rev. Lawrence J. Shehan, D. D., Bishop of Bridgeport, who will administer the Sacrament of Holy Orders to the Rev. Mr. Richter.”

It’s really not my fault…
-Fr. Andy Vill

Last summer I was asked to offer Mass at a convent of religious sisters early in the morning and I arrived late. I mean really late. I was close to forty-five minutes late! If you know anything about religious life you’ll know that there is an ordo (daily schedule) which rarely affords forty-five minutes of “wasted time.” But it wasn’t my fault really. I left Trumbull at 6:10am to get to Stamford for the 6:45am Mass. I only left about ten minutes later than I should have. Those ten minutes made all of the difference though. The traffic was atrocious at that hour. If I had left at 6:00am I would have gotten ahead of the traffic and made it in plenty of time. All I had to do was explain myself when I arrived, how there was terribly bad traffic and the sisters would realize that it wasn’t my fault.

As I examined my situation and came up with excuses for myself I realized my habit and knew it had to stop. When I arrived at the convent, I apologized for being late and that was it. No excuses. I was late and I was sorry. I realized that I wanted to make an excuse out of my own pride. When we make apologies, they are for the sake of the people we have offended; when we make excuses, they are for the sake of ourselves. How often do we want to create excuses for ourselves to shirk the blame for whatever has gone wrong? If I am honest with myself about that morning, it was my fault for leaving late. I knew there was commuter traffic in the morning. I could have woken up earlier. Any of the reasons I could have given would be missed opportunities for humility.

Why is it that we feel the desire to make excuses for ourselves? Ultimately, we do not want people’s image of us to be tarnished. We want people to like us. We desire the respect of others. We don’t like to admit that we can be wrong. We are men and women of pride. How often do we focus on the esteem that others have for us for our own sense of self-worth? The only opinion that should matter is God’s and He is one to whom we definitely don’t need to make excuses. We have the opportunity to apologize to God in the Sacrament of Confession. How insincere do we sound when we tell God, “Hey, I’m sorry for what I did, but it wasn’t really my fault…” When we make excuses for ourselves we walk through life pretending as if we don’t have freedom. The challenge we have is to not allow our response to be automatic. When we say that we are sorry we should mean it. Before we say anything we should pause and make a conscious decision not to make an excuse for ourselves.

A piece of spiritual council which sticks with me is that the only way to grow in humility is through humiliation. We want to make excuses because we don’t want people to get the wrong impression about us. When we are in a situation where it really isn’t our fault, are we willing to endure the embarrassment and grow in humility? That we should apologize without giving excuses does not mean that we should not try to make amends for when we do wrong, it simply means not trying to find a way out of responsibility for our actions. It means being men and women of virtue. It means being men and women who are willing to allow ourselves to decrease and to let God increase in us.