For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday Feb 14, 2016  Pastor’s Corner: Mr. Raffaele Giamba has been guiding his workmen in the sanctuaryOld Altar repair and altar restoration; they have been working days and nights. He told me that the work will be completed within the next few days, just in time for a wedding on Saturday, February 20th: earlier than anticipated.

As you can see, the scaffolding, planking, plastic covering, and machinery have all been removed. Workmen have cut and set the new marble flooring to replace those pieces damaged decades ago. The scope of this work can be understood by the fact that the first stage in this project was the removal of more than 9 tons of rubble from the steps and sanctuary—the broken marble, along with a footing of over 7 inches of concrete from beneath the stairs and altar platform, all of which sat upon what looked like scrap wood. There was no foundation beneath the high altar platform and steps, so all that 9 tons of weight rested squarely on top of the 1875 wooden floor joists. Once removed, the sagging of the joists was visible! I can hear them sigh in relief, as does the Pastor, happy that the sanctuary will NOT collapse, since that weight has been removed.

When Mr. Giamba began cleaning the marble altar itself he asked me if I knew why some of the carved marble pieces were crumbling, especially some of the capitals on top of the various onyx pillars. I mentioned to him that I had been told upon my arrival, that decades ago the altar was cleaned with bleach and ammonia, in an attempt to keep it Altar Carvingglistening white. While the bleach and ammonia bleached the marble white, it also granulated the marble, so that some of the carved pieces simply crumble when touched: they had the consistency of table salt! That is why so much of the carved detail on the lower portion of the altar has been worn away: detail has simply crumbled off. The marble was reduced to dust by the cleaning efforts of good-intentioned parishioners whose hard work to scrub the altar actually contributed to its slow deterioration. Mr. Giamba applied a preservative to neutralize any bleach or ammonia residue still present in the marble, and another to bind the damaged carved marble pieces together. He next cleaned the flooring, completed cleaning the high altar marble, and put the finishing touches to the restoration of broken carved marble pieces and re-plastered them back onto the high altar. Then, as you can see, the workmen began installing the finished oak altar steps and platform, replicating the original 1885 design. Simple cleanup, and repair to the present altar rail and wooden steps is all that’s left to do.

The future stages of work, hopefully next winter or so, will be the complete grinding, cleaning and polishing of the entire sanctuary marble flooring. We can’t begin earlier this winter because of Lent, Holy Week and Easter, and the beginning of the wedding season. No bride wants to be married under scaffolding! Finally, all that is left is the cleaning and restoring of the two side altars, sometime in 2018 or so. Comparatively minor repairs planned for this summer will be the rewiring and lowering of the chandeliers, and the repair and repainting of the exterior of the original wooden window frames holding the clerestory stained glass windows—those smaller windows way on top, just under the lower portion of the church roof. As you can see, they need attention. Repair work of old buildings never ends.
—Monsignor DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: Sophia Petrafesa, Donald Gerbasi, 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, John 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.

Please pray for those who have recently died: Mary Churley, 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

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.

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

The Lenten rules of fasting and abstinence from eating meat apply on Ash Wednesday & Good Friday: Fasting, means cutting back on the amount of food eaten on certain days, applies to those aged 14-60 years old, unless ill or suffering from a serious medical condition. Fasting means that only one full meal [on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday] is to be taken and NO snacking between meals. Abstinence from eating meat means that no meat is to be eaten on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, or on any Fridays of Lent. This is a simple way to begin doing penance for our sins, along with prayer and charity.

Stations of the Cross: Fridays during Lent at 4 p.m. upstairs in the Basilica.

Daily Mass: Returns to the Basilica on Saturday, February 20th. Until then, daily Masses: 8 a.m. and 12:10 p.m., Monday through Friday of this week will continue to be offered downstairs in the Msgr. Nagle Parish Hall. Please be patient; the work is nearly completed finished.

EUCHARISTIC ADORATION: with praise and worship music will be offered IN the Basilica next Saturday evening, February 20th, 2016 from 7-8pm. Please bring your whole family for this experience of prayer before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament!
Confessions will be available.

PARISH LENTEN RETREAT: Sunday, February 21 thru Tuesday, February 23rd, 7:30-8:30 p.m. Please join us for a three–night Lenten meditation IN the Basilica about God’s Mercy, with a Eucharistic Holy Hour, Sermon, Benediction and Confession. Bring the whole Family.

Faith on Tap: For young Catholics 21-39 years of age, will be on Wednesday, February 24th beginning at 7:00 p.m. in Murphy’s Townhouse Café on 97 Franklin Street. Bishop Caggiano will speak “The Call to Mercy.” Join us for a beer and a stimulating discussion of our Faith.

The Upper Room: For Catholics 39 and up in age, will be on Tuesday, March 29th beginning at 7:00 p.m. at Columbus Park Trattoria’s Upper Room on Columbus Park in downtown Stamford. Join us for a glass of wine and a stimulating discussion of our Faith.

SAVE THE DATE: 2016 KENTUCKY DERBY: Save the date and join us! Saturday, May 7th, 4-7 p.m., in the Rectory. Our annual fundraiser features a simulcast of the “Run for the Roses,” fabulous food and drink, and the chance to win some spectacular prizes. Space limited to 100 guests only; tickets: $125. All proceeds this year will fund the painting/restoration of the wooden frames of the clerestory stained-glass windows in the Basilica. Details to follow.

Weekly Sunday collection:

Sunday January 7, 2016 $ 14,685.79
Sunday February 8, 2015 $ 11,507.71
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 21st, Sunday Readings: Gn 15:5-12, 17-18; Phil 3:17—4:1; Lk 9:28b-36.

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? Try something new during Lent: Our Holy Name Society 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. in time for daily Mass. Just walk in the front door of the Rectory. Come join us!

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). The next series begins on Wednesday, March 2nd at 7:30 p.m.

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.

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.

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, February 13, 2016
4:00 +Alexander Baldwin req. Jagodzinski Family
Sunday, February 14, 2016
7:30 +James F. Berger
10:00 Special Intentions Father Walsh req. Jean Vaccaro
12:00 +Aniello Preziosi Birthday Remembrance 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, February 15, 2016
8:00 Souls in Purgatory
12:10 +Rev. Thomas Yu req. Agnes Kung
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
8:00 +Hien Do req. Thang Nguyen
12:10 Lovel DeCaro req. Joan
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
8:00 +Margaret M. Timon req. Tom Timon
12:10 +Natale Sposato req. Mossa Family
Thursday, February 18, 2016
8:00 +Elaine Keen req. Kelly Lover
12:10 Deceased Members of the Lockhart Family req. Harriet Lockhart
Friday, February 19, 2016
8:00 +Marie Gedeon req. Our Lady of Sorrows – Praesidium
12:10 +George Terenzio Birthday Remembrance req. Family
Saturday, February 20, 2016
8:00 +Dominick Carpanzano req. Pasquale and Ida Carpanzano
12:10 Special Intentions Frank Carpanzano req. Family

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: Tuesdays 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:

140 years ago, or so:
Feb. 15, 1878: “Most of the Roman Catholic churches in the state are draped in mourning as a token of respect to the memory of Pope Pius IX. In all of them, requiem Masses will be said for the eternal repose of the Holy Father’s soul, in accordance with the custom of the Roman Catholic Church.”

100 years ago, or so:
Feb. 21, 1918: “A series of Lenten sermons having a special bearing on the world war is to be preached in St. John’s Catholic Church every Wednesday evening during Lent by Rev. Father Corbett, a learned Jesuit priest of New York. The introductory sermon was preached on Ash Wednesday evening. Father Corbett’s topic on Wednesday evening of this week will be “Christianity and the War.” He will answer the claim some have made that the war has resulted in a breakdown of Christianity.”

85 years ago, or so:
Feb. 17, 1933: St. John’s Church Crowded At Funeral Of Dr. John J. Ryle. “Men and women from all walks of life honored the memory of Dr. John J. Ryle, this morning, when the capacity of St. John’s R. C. Church Dr Rylewas taxed to the limit at the solemn requiem Mass for the repose of his soul. It was the second largest funeral in the history of the church, the number of mourners having been exceeded only at the funeral of the late Rev. James C. O’Brien, pastor of the church. Hundreds also went to St. John’s Cemetery, Springdale, for the interment. Officers of the Mass were the Rev. Charles A. Corcoran, celebrant; the Rev. Jerome T. Cook, subdeacon; the Rev. Henry C. Callahan, master of ceremonies. Prayers at the cemetery were read by the Rev. Peter H. McClean, S.T.L., pastor of St. Augustine’s Church, Bridgeport.” (EDITOR’S NOTE: During his entire career, Dr. Ryle took care of the Sisters at St. John’s convent without charge.)

55 years ago, or so:
Feb. 17, 1961: Johnnies Triumph. “Kenneth Clark of St. John’s of Stamford put on a brilliant scoring exhibition of 21 points to lead his team to the CYO Grammar School championship over St. Mary’s, 33 to 25. St. John’s will represent the District in the quarter-finals of the Diocesan championship.”

What Are You Taking On?
-Fr. Andy Vill

Last week I wrote about fasting in my article “What are you giving up?” and this week I want to look at prayer by asking “What are you taking on?” The season of Lent models itself on the time that Jesus spent in the desert where he fasted and was tempted by the devil. This weekend’s Gospel reading from Luke suggests that our Lord’s temptation came at the end of His time in the desert. “He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” (Luke 4:2-3). For most of us, this is not our first Lent (for you recent converts, welcome!) and we know the routine of the season. We give things up on Ash Wednesday and for the first few weeks it is easy to be faithful to that penance.

As the weeks continue however, we become more and more hungry for that which we have given up. It is not so easy for us to stand firm in our resolve. Jesus’ temptation came at the end of His time in the desert when he was at His weakest. How does Jesus respond to the devil? “Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, One does not live on bread alone.’” (Luke 4:4). Jesus had been fasting because He was led by the Spirit to do so (Cf. Luke 4:1-2). The devil doesn’t even address why Jesus is hungry, that He is making it an offering to the Father, but addresses the problem at hand. You are hungry and you can have food if you want it. The same can be said of whatever we are fasting from, and the devil tempts us just the same. The only one stopping you from enjoying the thing you are giving up is you. Jesus quotes the Scriptures to him and rebuffs his threefold attempt at tempting Jesus away from His mission and ultimately away from the Father.

Jesus was able to resist temptation because He had spent those many days in the desert in prayer. He was uniting Himself to the Father and staying close to Him Jesus was able to know what was truly for His good. During this time of Lent, we too should be focused in a particular way on prayer. This means taking on things to replace what you have given up. If you normally watch an hour of TV every day and have given that up for Lent, consider taking that hour to pray. Consider going to daily Mass this Lent (the Basilica offers Mass daily at 8am and 12:10pm). Pick up a book about the life of a saint or some other spiritual reading and read when you would have been watching TV. Learn a new prayer such as the Angelus, the Prayer to St. Michael, the Litany of Humility, etc. and recite it daily. All of these things can help us to form good habits of prayer.

The devil is no fool. When temptation comes in our lives, particularly during the season of Lent, it is rarely when we are at our strongest. Just like when he tempted our Lord in the desert, the devil looks to tempt us when we are at our weakest. If we don’t make it a habit to pray when we are at our strongest, we will never have the resolve to pray when we are at our weakest. If we can take good habits of prayer upon ourselves during these early days of Lent, we will be able to carry them with us into the darkness of Good Friday and they will sustain us until we arrive at the glory of Easter.