On January 13 the seminarians of St. John Fisher and Redemptoris Mater seminaries gathered for a day of prayer and fraternity. The day consisted of three conferences, a Holy Hour, and meals together. Bishop Frank Caggiano was present for the event and capped off the day with Mass during which he installed Fr. Paul Check as the 6th Rector of St. John Fisher Seminary.
The first conference was given by Fr. Andy Vill, Parochial Vicar of the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist in Stamford. Fr. Vill discussed the importance of being authentic and honest about yourself while in seminary formation. He told the seminarians about his own vocation story and how transparency and authenticity helped him to better discern his call to the priesthood. He stressed that by being authentic and honest in our discernment will not only strengthen our own spiritual lives, but help those in formation to better contribute to the communities in which they live.
The second talk was by Fr. Check, the Rector of St. John Fisher Seminary. He gave a reflection on the story of the mother who watched the martyrdom of her seven sons in the Book of Maccabees. He used the story to illustrate the importance of obedience to God as well as faithful discernment and the need to always remain faithful to Our Lord, even when it is most difficult.
The third conference was given by Msgr. Nick Greco. Before residing at Queen of Clergy Home for Retired Priests, Msgr. Greco served the Church in Bridgeport in many capacities including as pastor of St. Francis Church in Weston. He discussed the need for a Christocentric model in our lives, emphasizing the need for everything in seminary and in the parishes to be centered around Jesus Christ and bringing Him to others. He also spoke of the great need to always keep in mind the call to evangelization.
After the conferences Bishop Caggiano celebrated Mass in the Chapel of the Holy Cross. In his homily the Bishop spoke of his mother's funeral and how he became overwhelmed with emotion at the end of that Mass. The sermon exhorted seminarians not to be afraid to be transparent and how such honesty can have a powerful impact on the lives of others. During the Mass, the Bishop installed Fr. Check as rector, and following the Mass blessed the seminary building and led the seminary community in the prayer of enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Afterwards all gathered together to enjoy dinner together.
It was a tremendous blessing for the communities at St. John Fisher and Redemptoris Mater to receive great advice and wisdom from priests in the diocese and to spend the day with Bishop Caggiano and one another in prayer and fraternity.
(Greenwich, CT 12/4/16) Before a packed church at St. Mary's in Greenwich, the seminarians of St. John Fisher and Redemptoris Mater performed their annual "Carols of the Season Christmas Concert." The concert was the culmination of many months of dedicated practice and rehearsal and began with the joyous hymn: "Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending." Between other traditional pieces such as "Joy to the World" and "In the Bleak Midwinter," there were recitations of written reflections on the meaning of the season of Advent. The performance was well-received by those in attendance.
Accompanying the seminarians was Mr. David Harvey, Director of Music at St. John Fisher, and Mr. Thom Marino, the Music Director at St. Aloysius Church in New Canaan. In addition, there were eight professional singers, a percussionist, trumpet players, and a flutist. At the end of the concert Fr. Robert Kinnally, Rector of St. John Fisher Seminary, took time to thank everyone involved. Fr. Alfonso Piccone, Rector of Redemptoris Mater Seminary, delivered the final blessing. A reception followed the event.
On Saturday, Nov 19, the seminarians from St. John Fisher Seminary traveled to New York City for a day of recollection and reflection. They spent the day on the Upper East Side, visiting and praying in three of the beautiful churches located in the Archdiocese of New York.
The first stop was St. Vincent Ferrer, a parish run by the Order of Preachers located on Lexington Ave. There, Fr. Cyprian LaPastina, the Director of Spiritual Formation at St. John Fisher, celebrated Mass in the beautiful choir chapel of the magnificent gothic church. Taking advantage of the setting, Fr. LaPastina preached about how the beauty of our churches allows us to enter into the mystery of God and helps us to contemplate and grow in our understanding of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
After Mass the seminarians had lunch before moving on to the church of St. Jean Baptiste, where they prayed the rosary in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament which was exposed there for adoration. From there they went to St. Ignatius of Loyola, a parish run by the Society of Jesus. During their visit there the seminarians prayed quietly and reflected on the day.
Days of recollection and reflection are a vital part of seminary formation. They allow men in formation to set aside a day to be with Christ Jesus and focus on where they are in their journey of faith. Additionally, having the opportunity to see and learn the history of some of the region's most beautiful churches can inspire all of us to zealously continue the mission of Christ's Church here on earth.
(STAMFORD Oct 14, 2016) The people came from near and far to join the priests and seminarians of St. John Fisher Seminary in a rosary procession to celebrate the month dedicated to the rosary. The rector, Fr. Bob Kinnally, welcomed a crowd of over one hundred people and invited them to begin the candlelit procession. Singing the hymn "Immaculate Mary" in English, Spanish, and French, the large group processed from the entrance of the seminary to the courtyard, where they prayed the rosary together, led by five seminarians in each of the above-mentioned languages.
Gathered together in the darkened courtyard, with only candles to light the way, the priests, seminarians, and their guests stood before the illuminated statue of the Mother of God, asking her intercession for vocations, the care of seminarians and priest, and for all personal intentions. The crowd, composed of people of all ages, languages, and backgrounds, made it a beautiful witness to the Catholic faith and the love that Catholics have for the Blessed Mother.
Following the rosary procession, the guests were welcomed to the refectory for coffee and homemade cookies. It was a great opportunity for fellowship among the seminarians and many of the people who support them with prayer during their regular visits to the seminary's public chapel of Eucharistic Adoration.
A night of prayer and community, the rosary procession at St. John Fisher Seminary was truly a grace-filled event. Many thanks to all who participated - we hope to see you there again next year!
"Do not be afraid to be stretched! Do not be afraid to be challenged!" These were the words Bishop Frank Caggiano spoke to the seminarians of St. John Fisher Seminary who had gathered in the Chapel of the Holy Cross with family members to celebrate the Mass marking the beginning of the 2016-17 academic year.
Reflecting on the gospel for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time in which Christ Jesus gives the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Bishop Caggiano spoke of the danger of complacency in the lives of Christians, especially those called to serve as priests.
The Bishop said that the seminarian who is preparing for priesthood must avoid falling into the trap of thinking that what he is doing is "good enough." He noted that complacency combined with a sense of self-righteousness can lead to the blindness that made the Rich Man in the parable indifferent to the plight of the beggar on his doorstep. One must always be open to hearing what the Lord is calling him to do, and resist the fear of being overwhelmed by a sense of inadequacy. If one is open to the call and responds generously, he will learn with the growth of his responsibilities in ministry that it is in fact God who accomplishes all through us. He noted that St. John Fisher Seminary is the place where a man in formation for priesthood begins to learn this by allowing himself to be stretched and challenged.
At the end of Mass the Rector, Fr. Robert Kinnally, welcomed the seminarians and their families, who he thanked for their generosity and the work that they have done in raising their sons in the faith. He also expressed thanks to the priests in attendance, including Msgr. Thomas Powers, the Vicar General, Fr. Cyprian LaPastina, Director of Spiritual Formation, Msgr. Christopher Walsh, Academic Dean, and Fr. John Connaughton, Director of Vocations.
A special welcome was given to Fr. Paul Check who will be assuming the responsibility as Rector of St. John Fisher Seminary in January 2017. In his final remarks, Bishop Caggiano thanked Fr. Kinnally for his years of good work as Rector of St. John Fisher Seminary, and especially for "being a very, very good priest."
Following the Mass the Bishop joined the seminarians and their families for brunch in the refectory, with Fr. Paul Check giving the blessing.
During the celebration of the 6:45am Mass on Tuesday, September 6, Msgr. Thomas Powers, Vicar General of the Diocese of Bridgeport, announced to the seminarians assembled in the Chapel of the Holy Cross that Bishop Caggiano has appointed Fr. Paul Check to be the sixth Rector of St. John Fisher Seminary. Fr. Check will begin his ministry as Rector on December 31, 2016. He will succeed Fr. Robert Kinnally who will begin his new role as Pastor of St. Aloysius Church in New Canaan after five years of dedicated service to the men who lived under his guidance at St. John Fisher.
During his homily, Fr. Check spoke about Christ Jesus' call of the Twelve and how at the time of their call they were not ready to go throughout the world and preach the gospel. He made the connection between their need to spend time with Our Lord, to sit at His feet, and learn from Him and the life of the seminarian. The Twelve needed to be formed by Christ to fulfill their mission, just as seminarians need formation in Christ to fulfill their vocation to priesthood as the Lord intends.
In his announcement of the appointment, Bishop Caggiano wrote: "I consider the human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation of our seminarians to be one of my greatest responsibilities as Bishop of Bridgeport and, therefore, am acutely aware of the great blessing Fr. Kinnally has been to the seminary and to me personally. I am confident that Fr. Check will build upon all the good work of Fr. Kinnally and that the seminarians will receive him joyfully as a spiritual father and a faithful guide."
To read more about Fr. Paul Check's work as Director of the Courage Apostolate, check out this article from Catholic News Agency announcing Fr. Check's new assignment.