For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday January 24, 2016

Wooden Clapboard Pastor’s Corner: January 26th will mark an anniversary for Saint John’s, as noted on page 6 of this Bulletin in the Saint John’s in the News section: On January 26, 1851, the Catholic Bishop of Hartford, Bishop Bernard O’Reilly, came to Stamford to dedicate our first church—a small wooden, clapboard building on the corner of Meadow Street and Priest Avenue—no kidding! The Marriot Hotel is on the site today.

Today’s Basilica of Saint John the Evangelist is our second parish church. The growing number of Catholics in mid-19th century Stamford soon outgrew the original wooden church on Meadow Street. Our parish moved to Atlantic Street in 1875 upon the completion and dedication of the lower church—today, the Msgr. Nagle Parish Hall— on Thanksgiving Day, 1875. The upper “chapel”, as it was called, which is today’s Basilica, was begun soon after, and completed in 1886.

We’ve nearly completed the first phase of our own project: the renovation of the original high altar platform and steps, based on the original 1885 design of our own Basilica.

This first phase of the restoration project of the high altar will continue through this week, and should be completed by Saturday, January 30th. We will return to full use of the Basilica for all weekend and weekday Masses UNTIL Thursday, February 11th, when the second phase of the altar restoration project begins: the repair, cleaning and re-plastering of the marble elements of the original 1885 high altar. This part of the project will be completed by the weekend of March 19/20th, which is Palm Sunday.
High Altar This is the first major restoration of the high altar since its construction in 1885. Many of the decorative carved marble pieces have fallen off or been damaged, and many more are very loose, since the original plaster has dried out and deteriorated. Beginning February 11th, the second phase will clean the entire altar: as you can see, the white marble is more gray than white, darkened with age and 130 years of dirt, soot and pollution. A full scaffolding will be built around the high altar, and the sanctuary will be blocked off with protective plastic, in an attempt to contain the dust and debris as the marble is cleaned and the repaired decorative marble pieces reattached to the altar with fresh plaster.

In 1885, both the secular and Catholic press took special note of Saint John’s high altar. Catholics throughout Connecticut were intrigued as work on the largest stone church in the state proceeded: “A portion of the marble to be used in the construction of the altar of our church has arrived and work is being done upon the [altar’s] foundation. The builders of the foundation are Messrs. Theis and Trueg of 42nd Street, New York City, and by the plans, it can be seen that the altar, when completed, will be second to none in New England.” [The Connecticut Catholic, September 12, 1885]. Since Stamford was a predominately Protestant town, and their churches usually had little ornamentation, the residents had never seen such expense lavished on any church. For the Catholic population, primarily Irish immigrants, the work was a source of pride that their nickels and dimes were producing such beauty in their Catholic parish church. All Stamford was excited at the novelty of huge crates arriving daily at the train station containing carved marble panels, pillars, capitals, and decorative turrets. Today, it is important that we preserve this masterpiece. It was the pride of Stamford’s Catholics when first built in 1885, and it would be a tragedy if this monument of their Catholic Faith and their love for Saint John’s Parish were lost. To everyone, please accept my thanks for your patience during these weeks. Without this restoration work, our beautiful high altar would continue to deteriorate, which would be a shame. —Monsignor DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: Addison Byrne, Ruth Coyle, 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, Jay & Catherine Olnek, Marie Augustin.

Please pray for those who have recently died: Deborah Karen Fallacaro, 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.

Church in Latin America Collection . . . Please drop your special Church in Latin America envelope into the ONE basket that will be passed at the Offertory.

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, remember in your prayers members of Stamford’s EMS and Fire Department, and our military women and men who protect our nation.

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.

Daily Mass: One more week until the first phase of the work is completed upstairs in the Basilica. Daily Masses: 8 a.m. and 12:10 p.m., Monday through Saturday, will continue to be offered downstairs in the Msgr. Nagle Parish Hall. This first phase of the altar restoration work will be completed by February 6th, and the second phase will begin on February 11th, continuing until its completion on March 19th. This is a big project, since it is the first major restoration of the altar since 1885, and of the sanctuary since 1914. Please be patient.

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:

Sunday January 17, 2016 $ 12,297.00
Sunday January 18, 2015 $ 10,707.72

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 31st, Sunday Readings: Jer 1:4-5, 17-19; 1 Cor 12:31—13:13; Lk 4:21-30.

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? 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 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.

Life Runners: Are you a runner interested in joining the fight against abortion through LIFE Runners ((http://www.liferunners.org/)? 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 diane.kremheller@gmail.com 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: fmoran@futurefive.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:  Tuesdays 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.

Regina Pacis Academy: will be holding an Open House, Feb 1st-Feb 4th, from 9:00-11:00 am.  Regina Pacis provides a K-8  Catholic Classical education.  The school is located at 8 Leonard Street, Norwalk, directly behind St Mary’s Catholic Church. Please call for an appt. 203-642-4501. www.reginapacisacademy.com

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

Religious Ed News: Sunday, January 24: No Class. Classes are cancelled.

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: This Monday,  January 25th 7:30PM Location: Cosi at 230 Tresser Blvd, (in front of the Stamford Mall).

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, January 23, 2016
4:00 Mary Helen McConnell Schwarzkoph req. Jagodzinski Family
Sunday, January 24, 2016
7:30 +Bill and Felicitas Cody req. Nick and Ann Lepore
10:00 +Danail O’Connor req. Abdul and Sarah Aslam
12:00 Marion Morris God’s Blessings req. Diane Strain
5:00 +Peter Pia
6:00 +Patrick Kane and Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane and Family
Monday, January 25, 2016
8:00 +Eileen Carr req. Marie Carr
12:10 +John Wolf req. Mr. and Mrs. Darrell Ingram
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
8:00 +Frederick Aloysius Graham req. Donna and Jeff Wyant
12:10 +Niamh Hickey req. Nick and Ann Lepore
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
8:00 +Madelaine Fitzgerald req. Jeannene McMurchy
12:10 +Susan Fazio req. Mr. and Mrs. Darrell Ingram
Thursday, January 28, 2016
8:00 +Joseph and Margaret Curtis req. Mary Maloney
12:10 Special Intentions Nicholas Hickman req. Mother
Friday, January 29, 2016
8:00 Thomas Cycon req. Jef and Mary Spetland
12:10 +Francis Sullivan req. Anthony and Carolyn Conte
Saturday, January 30, 2016
8:00 +Eugenia Carpanzano req. Pasquale and Ida Carpanzano
12:10 God’s Blessing Father Albert Audette 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 Street.

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 NEWS:

DEDICATION OF THE ORIGINAL CHURCH OF ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST, JANUARY 26, 1851.

THE BOSTON PILOT: February 3rd, 1851: Connecticut. STAMFORD. “Mr. Editor: From a conviction of the interest which your truly Catholic paper has always taken in communicating through its columns the progress of our holy religion, I take pleasure in informing you of the dedication of our Church in Stamford, on Sunday, January 26th, by the Rt. Rev. Bishop O’Reilly. The morning was beautiful and it would appear that the cross shone with more than usual luster: from an early hour in the morning the hills and valleys were literally covered over with the sons and daughters of the emerald isle, whose hearts and souls were overflowing with joy that the time at length arrived when they had a church to be dedicated to the service of Almighty God. This church has been commenced and completed by the indefatigable zeal of our pious and exemplary pastor, Rev. John C. Brady, with the cooperation of the whole-souled Catholics of Stamford. The Church was dedicated to Almighty God under the patronage of St. John the Evangelist, after which confirmation was conferred on a considerable number, who were duly prepared by their Rev. Pastor; then High Mass was sung by the Pastor, and after the first gospel the Bishop ascended the platform and preached a very eloquent and persuasive sermon on the gospel of the day to a crowded congregation, many of whom were not of our religion, yet they were much delighted by the mild and charitable sermon. In the afternoon at vespers he preached one of the most powerful and practicable sermons we ever heard. On the following Tuesday
Larry's Church
he dedicated another Church, erected by the same pastor, under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary , and administered confirmation to those who were prepared here; he was assisted by the Rev. Mr. Lynch of Bridgeport, and Rev. Mr. Brady of Middletown. So now Mr. Editor you must think that our holy religion is flourishing rapidly along the Sound. A few years ago there was no cross erected to cheer the heart of a poor Irish emigrant coming from New York to New Haven, but now the emblem of salvation may be seen in every little village. Yours truly, J. T. O’R.”

Witness to Love
-Fr. Andy Vill

Often, parishioners don’t have a chance to see the “behind-the-scenes” work that the priests do here in the parish when it comes to ministry. The only encounter with us many might have is for that one hour on Sunday during Mass. While there are many ministries here in the parish all doing God’s work, I thought I would write about one ministry in particular, how we prepare couples for marriage.

In the Diocese of Bridgeport, a couple seeking marriage must approach the priest or deacon in the parish at least 6 months prior to the date of the wedding. The reason for this is to give the Church and the couple adequate time to properly prepare for the Sacrament. Often couples will complete the required classes, get married, and we lose touch with them after their wedding. Especially in our city parish, we have many young people who are new to the area and never quite feel like they connect with the community.

Since my ordination to the diaconate and now as a priest I have performed six weddings. Currently, I am working with six more couples who are preparing for marriage. Having finished my degree at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family, I consider my pastoral work with families most dear to my heart. If we want successful families, we need to set up successful marriages. All of the priests of the Basilica want to set up engaged couples with every chance for success in their vocations.

In talking with many married couples about their own experience with marriage preparation, we realized that we needed to create marriage preparation program that focused on allowing engaged couples to draw on the wisdom of couples who are already married. I thought that my idea was a novel one and was excited to get started until one of the couples I was talking with told me, “Father, there is no need to reinvent the wheel, a program like that already exists!”

This past weekend, Msgr. DiGiovanni and I, along with three married couples from our parish, attended a daylong seminar for a new marriage program that was created in Louisiana called Witness to Love. We left truly excited that this program could give us the element that has been missing, integrating the couple into parish life. You see, that is what most marriage programs lack, the integration into parish life. Most couples that approach us are younger and have been in school during their courtship and they are just now starting their career. Their faith and going to Mass haven’t always been in the forefront of their lives. Therefore, they don’t have a solid foundation in the parish and don’t know how to go about establishing one.

The Witness to Love program fills that void and helps them not only prepare for a life together, but a life within the Church as a married couple. One of the unique elements of this program is that the engaged couple gets to choose their own mentor couple. The mentor couple they chose must be parishioners who have been married for at least five years, actively practicing their faith, and are in full communion with the Church. The mentor couple is then trained in their role with the engaged couple present during one of the sessions.

The beauty of the program is that it gives an opportunity for the mentor couples to strengthen their own marriages as they walk with another couple who are on their way to starting their own. The main role of the mentor couple is to be a positive example for the engaged couple while helping integrate them into parish life. They will be given a “scavenger list” of to do items. This may entail tasks such as: attending Mass at least twice a month with their mentor couple, having a date night with their mentor couple, and engaging in a ministry with their mentor couple. The goal is that after the literal honeymoon is over, the newly married couple will feel comfortable and established in our parish and become an active member of our faith community. They will have a couple on whom they can rely for guidance as the journey through their first years of marriage. This program can also help couples who have been civilly married, but wish to have their marriage “blessed” or, as the Church calls it, con-validated.

It will take a few months to get this program started in our parish and there will be some learning curves along the way. However, we pray that the end result will be a happily married couple that keeps God as the foundation in their relationship and St. John’s as part of their faith family. If you are asked by a newly engaged couple to mentor them as a part of this program, we’d ask that you prayerfully consider saying yes. You don’t have to be “marriage experts”, but know that God will use the witness of your marriage to help another couple to achieve a successful, happy marriage!