For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday January 31, 2016

Church Pastor’s Corner: The first phase of our altar restoration project is complete, as you can see. The work is superb, restoring the high altar steps and platform to their original 1885 design, and restoring the symmetry and balance to the entire sanctuary. The second phase of the project will begin next week and be completed in February: the restoration of the marble high altar, itself.

That altar, when built in 1885, wowed the town. Progress of the work was recorded for Stamford residents by The Advocate, whose offices were directly across Atlantic Street from Saint John’s Church [in the beautiful three story arched Italian Revival building that still exists today].

While work was underway, the annual two week parish fair was held at Miller’s Music Hall to raise funds to pay for the new church interior. [The Advocate, September 4, 1885] When work on the high altar was in progress in late 1885, the Stamford and Connecticut press greeted the work with astonishment and admiration. The Advocate offered this report: “Last week masons were busy carrying up from a solid foundation of stone, brick and concrete the substantial sub-structure of the grand altar, which is to be so important and striking a feature of the interior finish. Some of the altar pieces have already arrived, including many exquisite specimens of artistically wrought Italian and American marbles and Mexican onyx.” [The Advocate, September 25, 1885] By late October, work on the church interior had progressed sufficiently that “The high board fence so long in front of the new Catholic church has at last been removed. The incident is notable as one of the indications that the end of the work is at hand.” [The Advocate, October 22, 1885] The high altar was completed in mid-November and “The church was thrown open to visitors for a portion of last Sunday, and many hundreds took advantage of the occasion to inspect the work already done. Many were the expressions of admiration and pleasure at the fine Gothic outlines and finish of the interior, the magnificent stained glass windows, and especially the exquisite work in Italian marble and Mexican onyx of the altar. Competent judges pronounce this ‘the most beautiful altar in the United States’.” [The Advocate, November 20, 1885].

When our church was completed, it was the largest stone church in Connecticut. Norwalk was the only town nearby with a stone Catholic Church, St. Mary’s. All other churches in Stamford and lower Fairfield County were Protestant, and had no stained glass, marble altars, statuary or decoration. So, when the citizens of Stamford inspected the new interior of Saint John’s, they were amazed, even though the only works of art were the marble high altar and the three stained glass above the high altar, with the wooden altar rail, along with the wooden pews, and that was all: no side altars, no large stained glass windows, and no statues [as you can see in the above photo of our Basilica interior soon after its completion in 1886]. Nevertheless, people were amazed. And, when the church was dedicated on May 30, 1886, the ceremony was covered by the local secular press in Stamford, Norwalk and Bridgeport, as well as by the New York Times, The Hartford Daily Courant, the Boston Pilot, and other lesser known newspapers, as well as by the Catholic press: The Connecticut Catholic of Hartford, and the New York Freeman’s Journal and Catholic Register. [For a complete and in-depth study of the life of Saint John’s, I suggest you read the magnificent and fascinating recently completed history written by one of our own parishioners: Lawrence Bolanowski, entitled, The Golden Years Never Ended, which may be purchased in our parish bookstore. You may also access it on our parish website, under the “Parish History” tab.]

During the next weeks, scaffolding will be erected in the sanctuary so that our 1886 high altar can be thoroughly cleaned, repaired and restored. Please, do not be alarmed when you see the scaffolding: we are preserving and restoring the high altar, NOT destroying it. The work so far completed, restored the original wooden sanctuary stairs and platform by removing the exceptionally heavy and ill-constructed marble stairs and platform that were collapsing, and which placed an enormous weight on the church’s wooden support beams. All our work is being done in order to restore the sanctuary as much as possible to its original 1886 design, and to preserve our beautiful church for another 100 years. —Monsignor DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: Lyn Geikie-Rice, Ann Cody, Bridget Ormond, 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, 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

St. Blaise: Wednesday, February 3rd, throats will be blessed after the 8am & 12:10pm daily masses downstairs in the Msgr. Nagle Hall.

Banns of Marriage:
I Banns: Jennifer Anne Giannitti and Ross Perry Marlin

Parish Lay Members of the Corporation: In accordance with General Statutes of Connecticut  [Tit. 33, chpt 598, sec 33-279-280], each Roman Catholic parish in the State of Connecticut is a legal corporation, and is required to have two lay members of the parish as voting members of the parish corporation. The other members of the board are the Bishop, the Vicar General and the Pastor. For the past 17 years, Dr. Joseph McAleer and Mr. Michael Guarnieri have served in that legal responsibility. This year, both decided it was time to step down to allow other parishioners to serve. I take this opportunity to thank both Joe and Mike for their incomparable assistance during nearly the entirety of my 18 years as pastor. Their deep faith and love for St. John’s, clear business sense, perspicacity and common sense have been invaluable, and I am grateful to them. Our new parish lay members of the corporation are Annie Schreck and Jack DeSoye. Both have been very gracious in acquiescing to my invitation to be our “Parish Trustees” for the next year. Welcome aboard to Annie and Jack, and renewed thanks to Mike and Joe.

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.

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 .

Daily Mass: Until 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. Please be patient.

Weekly Sunday collection:

Sunday January 24, 2016 $ 8,195.73 (Snow)
Sunday January 25, 2015 $ 12,738.12

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

February 7th, Sunday Readings: Is 6:1-2a, 3-8; 1 Cor 15:1-11; Lk 5:1-11.

Interested in Cub Scouting? 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 at the Basilica please email Father Vill at frvill@diobpt.org with the subject Cub Scouts .

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

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 classes are for you: Wednesdays 7:30-9:00pm in the Rectory. This is an eighteen week course of studies. Please call the rectory for information (203-324-1553, ext. 21).

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

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, February 22nd 7:30PM Location: Cosi at 230 Tresser Blvd, (in front of the Stamford Mall).

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, January 30, 2016
4:00 Special Intentions Dr. Joann Borchetta req. Frank & Beth Carpanzano and Family
Sunday, January 31, 2016
7:30 +Vincent DeVivo – 58th Anniversary req. Munro and DeVivo Families
10:00 Joan Quick req. Jagodzinski Family
12:00 +Bill req. Barbara Ann Smith and all the members of the Season’s Restaurant
5:00 +Peter Pia
6:00 +Patrick Kane and Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane and Family
Monday, February 1, 2016
8:00 +John Maloney req. Mary Maloney
12:10 +Gary DeSalvo req. Mr. and Mrs. Darrell Ingram
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
8:00 +Josephine and Karl Berger
12:10 Deceased members of my family and friends req. Rina Scafidi
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
8:00 Mary Coffey req. Thomas J. Cycon
12:10 +Jacqueline Pelletier, 1st Anniversary req. Dr. Joe McAleer
Thursday, February 4, 2016
8:00 +Patrick Timon req. Tom Timon
12:10 +Bernard Krupnik req. Marge Hogan
Friday, February 5, 2016
8:00 +Bill Grimm req. Lancaster Family
12:10 +Joanne Zwicker req. Jean Vaccaro
Saturday, February 6, 2016
8:00 +Marie Gedeon req. The Legion of Mary – Curia
12:10 +Carmine Labriola req. Jean Vaccaro

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 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 Sunday, April 3rd, when the Altar construction is finished.

St. John’s in THE ADVOCATE:

100 years ago, or so:
Feb. 3, 1913: THROATS BLESSED TODAY. “The Feast of St. Blasius is observed today in St. John’s Catholic Church by the usual custom of blessing throats. This ceremony was performed in St. John’s Church at 7:30 and will be performed at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. today. Ash Wednesday services in St. John’s will be at 8 a.m., 3:30 and at 7:30 p.m. The ashes will be blessed at these Masses and distributed after the Masses..”

90 years ago, or so:
Feb. 2, 1926: ST. JOHN’S RECREATION CLUB TEAMS VICTORIOUS IN THEIR FIRST “OPEN NIGHT” OF WINTER. “The first “open night” at St. John’s Recreation Club was held, last night, in St. John’s School Hall with several hundred friends and relatives of members of the club in attendance. Two basketball games, one between boys and one between girls, and a potato race in which 110 boys and girls of the club contested were the features of the evening. The St. John’s Senior Boys’ Team defeated the Stamford Advocate quintet, 28 to 23, in a closely contested game. O’Connell starred for the winners while Leako and Cassiday were the shining lights for the losers. The St. John’s Girls Team were easy victors over the Eagles 43 to 17.”

80 years ago, or so:
Feb. 6, 1936: Court of Honor Awards 24 Badges. “The February Court of Honor of the Stamford Council of Boy Scouts was held, Tuesday night, at headquarters, at which 24 merit badges were awarded. The badges were awarded as follows: handicraft—John Campo, Troop 22; interpreter—John Campo, Troop 22; path finding—Craig Kellogg, Troop 22; personal health—Richard Costello, Troop 22; safety—Craig Kellogg, Troop 22.”

55 years ago, or so:
Feb. 1, 1960: Scout Troop Hikes To Site of Cookout. “Boy Scout Troop 22, sponsored by St. John’s Church, held a cookout Saturday at Chestnut Hill Park. The scouts hiked to and from the park. Scouts participating were Lawrence Avignone, Robert Bates, Robert Costello, Richard Daly, Maurice Durette, David Farley, Dennis Feighery, Clifford Frost, Robert Gainer, James Hogan, Robert Hogan, William Holmes, Robert Johnstone, Andrew Klueky, William Martin, Richard O’Connor, Alain Orgnon, Richard Orgnon, Clifford Palladino, Anthony Rapaglia, William Seabrooks, William Smith, William White, and Stanley Wykowski. Also attending were Charles Bittman, Joseph Connolly, and John Feighery, members of Explorer Post 22 and Frederick Miller, assistant scoutmaster.”

Snow Day
-Fr. Andy Vill

Last weekend I experienced my first stateside snowstorm (say that five times fast!) in a long time. On Saturday, I couldn’t drive because of the dangerous road conditions, but I didn’t have to be anywhere so it didn’t much matter. I celebrated the 12:10pm Mass that day in the church hall. That usually largely attended Mass had only seven people present, but I would have said the Mass whether anyone showed up or not so it didn’t much matter. I had dinner plans for Saturday evening, plans I had been looking forward to since before Christmas, which had to be cancelled on account of the snow; but I got to have a great dinner with Monsignor and Fr. Al so it didn’t much matter.

When I have freedom to do many things, I am often unable to do any of them. At least, I am unable to do any of them well. In trying to do everything, I never commit the time necessary to each activity, but I split my time to try to get everything accomplished. I have already written about our tendency to do this with large life choices, but even in the everyday, there is such a temptation to put so many things on our plate that we never tackle any of them. When the snow made it too dangerous to drive and I had to stay in, I did. I couldn’t get done the list of things I normally have scheduled for myself. I was able to accomplish a few things well. The essentials like prayer, eating, resting, enjoying time with friends; these few things were all accomplished.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am a dabbler. I am very talented at very few things, but I do “dabble” in many things. There are various activities and interests in which I involve myself and at the end of the day it can seem overwhelming because I have “so many things to get done.” The snow day helped me to realize that there are few things that are essential. It is possible to take a day to relax and the world doesn’t end. At the end of the day, everything that I put on my plate is my own burden.

What I have come to realize is how busy we can make our lives and how rushed we can make ourselves feel and how very much our fault that is. We ought to give thanks to God that He gives us these moments in our lives in which we can put our many activities on hold for a time and return to focusing on the few important things. Now that the snow has been cleared away it is time to get back to my “busy” schedule. It would be easy to be saddened that the snow day has ended, but then I realize that there are more snow days to come so it doesn’t much matter.