Tag Archives: Connecticut

A Spiritual Approach to Health and Healing Brings Results


DARIEN — Prayer can be a trusted and effective means for bringing peace, freedom and healing into everyone’s  life, according to  Lorenzo Rodriguez, a Christian Science lecturer and spiritual healer.  Rodriguez will give a public talk titled “Spiritual Solutions for Desperate Situations”, on May 3 at 7:30 pm at the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Darien.” On May 5 Rodriguez  will deliver the same talk in Spanish at 11 am at Alexis Hill Montessori School in New Haven and again in English at 2 pm in the Christian Science Reading Room on the New Haven Green.

In his remarks, Rodriguez will show how people from every walk of life have demonstrated the power of God to bring solutions to adversity of every sort. He will describe his own experience in learning to engage the power of God and the divine law  of Truth and Love.

“Understanding God as infinite good brings trust in the power of good to help us overcome worry, doubt and fear,” Rodriguez says.

Claiming one’s  divine rights as a child of God is empowering and satisfying, he asserts.

Rodriquez’s talk will draw on ideas from the original sourcebook for Christian healing, the Bible,  along with Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, a  companion book of universally applicable ideas on practical spirituality that has sold more than ten million copies.

Born in Cuba and raised in Mexico and the US, Rodriguez graduated from the University of Connecticut with a BS in Chemical Engineering.  Although he practiced engineering for a time, he felt since childhood that his calling was for the helping professions.  He became a pioneer in the field of employment for people with disabilities before  dedicating himself to the full-time practice of healing through spiritual means.  Rodriguez,  a Miami-based teacher of Christian Science and a member of the Christian Science Board of Lectureship  , is fluent in English and Spanish.

The Darien talk will be held at the Christian Science church edifice, 2331 Post Rd., near the YMCA. In New Haven, the Spanish lecture will be held at the Montessori school ,  330 Grand Ave., New Haven and the English version at 950 Chapel Street. For more information, call Darien’s Christian Science Reading Room at 655-2772

Bishops’ point man on ‘religious liberty’ gets a promotion

By David Gibson
Religion News Service

Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., testifies on President Obama's proposed contraception mandate before the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform. RNS photo courtesy House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.

BRIDGEPORT — If there is any Catholic bishop in the U.S. who probably didn’t need a bigger platform, it would be William E. Lori, who was named Tuesday (March 20) by Pope Benedict XVI as the next archbishop of Baltimore.

For the past decade, Lori has led the Diocese of Bridgeport in Connecticut’s Fairfield County, but in recent months he’s become the public face of the hierarchy’s new signature issue: the fight for “religious freedom.”

It’s a fight that has defined Lori’s career — and is likely to define the public face of the church in the months to come.

In political terms, Lori has been tasked with coordinating the bishops’ opposition to the White House’s birth control mandate as well as opposing gay marriage and a host of other hot-button controversies.

Last September, Lori was tapped to lead the bishops’ new Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty in order to sharpen the bishops’ message and raise their profile after years of playing defense in the clergy sexual abuse scandals.

In recent months, Lori has testified in Congress three times, and the bishops’ fight with the White House has dominated the headlines and even seeped into the 2012 presidential race.

“To tell you the truth, I feel a sense of urgency about it,” Lori said, with some understatement, in an interview a few days before his promotion. “But at the same time it’s a work that’s important and fulfilling and I enjoy it.”

Quiet and soft-spoken, Lori nonetheless brings a single-minded focus to defending sacred principles while also deploying the kind of double-edged humor that a religious leader needs to do battle in the public square. He can be sharp to the point of sarcastic but also self-effacing in regards to his own career.

“They say timing is everything,” Lori said with the quiet laugh of a man who tends to see the irony and absurdity of so many aspects of modern life.

Now, with the move to Baltimore — the oldest archdiocese in the U.S. — timing is again Lori’s ally. At just 60 years old, his new post will put him that much closer to the action, and now he’ll have a papal imprimatur to bring with him.

Unlike the gregarious Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Lori is slightly-built and almost shy. He likes nothing more than reading history, and loves books so much that he named his pair of sibling Golden Retrievers “Barnes” and “Noble.”

“I am dialed-down quite a bit from Cardinal Dolan, no doubt about that,” Lori said during an interview in the chapel at Sacred Heart University.

Lori learned the virtue of hard work from his immigrant family, especially his Sicilian grandfather, who arrived in America in the depths of the Great Depression and managed to launch a successful fruit and vegetable store. Born in Louisville, Ky., and raised in nearby Indiana, Lori watched his grandfather work in his garden until he was 87, and it was a lesson he never forgot.

“I’m happy, and I love working,” he said. “Happiness and hard work go hand in hand.”

It was also a lesson Lori took to the seminary, and it paid off. After studies in Kentucky, he earned a master’s degree from Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., and was ordained in 1977. He earned his doctorate from Catholic University five years later, and after a brief stint as an associate pastor in suburban Washington, he went to work for the late Cardinal James Hickey of Washington.

Lori wound up working for Hickey for 18 years, serving in a variety of posts and learning even more about what it meant to work hard: “There are two words that I feared most at 10:00 at night from the cardinal: ‘Second wind.’ That would mean you were going until one in the morning.”

In 2001, Lori was appointed to Bridgeport. Knowing that he could be made a bishop, he says he checked to see which dioceses had vacancies, and saw two: Bridgeport and Fairbanks, Alaska. “I said a little prayer that it might be the former. I’m just not that good at ice fishing and flying a Cessna,” he said.

Within months, Lori was facing two huge crises: the 9/11 attacks that claimed many of his new flock, and the clergy abuse crisis that has continued to dog the hierarchy.

While Lori is known for his orthodoxy on doctrine and social issues, he was praised by many for taking a hard line in dealing with abusive priests, and in dealing with subsequent financial scandals that emerged. On the other hand, Lori also fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to keep documents on private settlements with victims — reached before he became bishop — sealed. He argued his case on religious freedom grounds, but eventually lost.

But two other episodes helped shape his outlook. One was a proposal by a pair of state senators to change the structure of Catholic parishes to have lay people, rather than priests and bishops, in charge. Critics suspected it was legislative mischief prompted by Lori’s vocal opposition to Connecticut’s gay marriage law.

Lori rallied the state’s bishops and thousands of Catholics in a public campaign against the bill, which died fairly quickly. But it provided a template for Lori’s current national approach.

“If it’s just bishops speaking, in a democracy, we understand that as charming and as reasonable and as innately delightful as we all are, we’ll have a better chance for a hearing when there’s a lot of people out there saying, wait, this is a problem.”

Another case, however, showed that Lori also knows the value of a strategic retreat. In 2007, Connecticut mandated that all hospitals provide emergency contraception to rape victims, a mandate that Lori and the other Connecticut bishops resisted much as they have the White House’s current contraception mandate.

Within months, Connecticut bishops said they had undergone “an evolution in thinking” and now believed that the Plan B pill would not necessarily cause an abortion and so could be used at Catholic medical facilities.

Lori says the decision was a prudent one, based on the facts, and that the current Obama mandate is different because it includes other pills that are closer to abortion, as well as sterilizations. Despite the White House’s assurances, he also doesn’t believe that compromise proposals will not force the church to pay for contraception.

In that view of President Obama, Lori is voicing skepticism shared by the bishops but not necessarily their flocks. That sort of disagreement is the kind of thing that really gets his “dander up,” as he said in explaining why he wrote a “nippy” response to an editorial in the Jesuit magazine America that had critiqued the bishops’ wisdom in the religious freedom battle.

“I felt that an ironic — some would say sarcastic — little piece was a knife to cut through the fog,” Lori said, relishing the memory of the exchange. “I enjoy a good piece of writing that has a bit of an edge to it, and other people do, too. We’re all big boys and girls.”

Lori believes that exuding joy as a bishop, not to mention displaying a sense of humor, is key to preaching the gospel. But if Lori’s approach and sense of humor isn’t to everyone’s liking, he insists that too much is at stake to let personal feelings get in the way.

“Once you have preached the principle that a government can define a church and tell a church what to do, well, it could tell us about contraception today, it could tell us about abortion tomorrow, and physician-assisted suicide the day after that. It is the principle of the thing,” he said.

“We certainly have to speak reasonably and civilly. But we also have to speak prophetically. And sometimes prophets are thought to be strident.”

Mansell: Health Care Insurance Mandate Declares War on Religion

On WJMJ, Catholic radio, Archbishop Henry J. Mansell stated that, “Some would say that the war on religion was formally declared,” when the federal government passed the health care insurance mandate requiring that all employers (with few exceptions) pay for health coverage that covers sterilization, contraception, and medication that induces abortion – all practices that go against Catholic moral teachings.

“This development runs clearly in the face of the Bill of Rights, providing in its First Amendment freedom of religion. Never before in the history of the United States has the federal government forced citizens to pay for health insurance that violates their religious principles,” said Mansell.

The archbishop made his feelings known during a two-hour broadcast moderated by the Rev. John Gatzak, general manager of WJMJ, on Wednesday evening.  He said that Catholic relief services, colleges, universities, schools and hospitals would be impacted. He noted that 16 percent of the nation’s hospitals are run under the auspices of Catholicism.

“If this goes through, we would have no Catholic hospitals or Catholic charities, said Mansell.

The archbishop was joined by Michael Culhane of the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference, the public policy and advocacy office of the Catholic Bishops in Connecticut.

“This is an affront to our religious liberties,” said Culhane.

Listeners flooded the broadcast with phone calls voicing their comments and questions. An 82-year-old woman called to say that she was appalled by what was happening. In her lifetime, she couldn’t remember the government being so intrusive. A caller from Meriden said that all religions have to band together, because there is “strength in numbers,” while an atheist commented that although he didn’t practice a religion, he certainly believed in the Constitution of the United States. And, while some are viewing this as a controversy over contraception, Vincent McCarthy, a constitutional lawyer, called in to say that the mandate was clearly unconstitutional, because “It is forcing the Catholic Church to pay for policies that they believe are wrong.” “I see this going all the way to the Supreme Court,” he said.

Mansell and bishops across the nation are urging people to call their local legislators in opposition of the mandate. “Votes make the difference,” he said.


St. James’ Celebrates Stephen’s Ministry

DANBURY — St. James’ Episcopal Church in Danbury will celebrate 10 years of Stephen Ministry in the parish on Saturday, Feb. 18, at the 5 p.m. service, and on Sunday, Feb. 19 at both the 8 and 10 a.m. services.  A joyous coffee hour in honor of this lovely ministry will immediately follow the services at 8 and 10 on Sunday.

Grounded in Jesus’ command to love one another, Stephen Ministers offer lay-pastoral care by providing confidential, one-to-one relationships to members of the church going through a life crisis or challenge.  As Christian friends, Stephen Ministers walk beside, listen and share God’s love.  Stephen Ministry can help meet the needs of individuals who are hospitalized, terminally ill, bereaved, in a job crisis, disabled, homebound, lonely, or in a spiritual crisis.

The Stephen Ministry program was born in 1975 when pastor and clinical psychologist Kenneth C. Haugk, Ph.D. realized that he could not single-handedly meet the needs of his congregation.  He developed materials to train church members to provide loving, quality, one-to-one Christian care to other church members suffering a life crisis. He commissioned his trained Christian care-givers as Stephen Ministers.

St. James’ Episcopal Church has trained and commissioned Stephen Ministers since 2002 under the direction of Janet Brown, Stephen Ministry coordinator for the church.  Currently, two congregants, Janet Brown and Jeff Chowanec, share responsibility as Stephen Leaders.  The congregation is blessed to celebrate 10 years as a Stephen Ministry Parish in the same year that the church is celebrating 250 years of worship and service in Danbury.

St. James’ Episcopal Church is located at 25 West Street, in downtown Danbury.  It is easily recognized by its big, red doors.  Parking is available on West Street, around the corner on Terrace Place and in the parking lot behind the church.

Archdiocese Opposes Federal Edict on Health Care Insurance

HARTFORD —  The Archdiocese of Hartford is vigorously opposing the new federal health care insurance legislation, which will require that all employers (with few exceptions) pay for health coverage that covers sterilization, contraception, and medication that induces abortion. Archbishop Henry J. Mansell and Executive Director Michael Culhane of the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference will address how the federal edict violates our First Amendment right to freedom of religion on a special edition of “In the After Glow” hosted by Rev. John Gatzak on WJMJ/88.9 FM on Feb. 8t at 7 p.m. It will be a call-in show, so listeners are encouraged to participate in the conversation.

According to the archbishop, the federal directive would force Catholic institutions to pay for health insurance on matters that violate their religious principles.  It would impact over 77,000 employees of Catholic Charities across the country, numerous Catholic colleges, universities, hospitals, schools, and the large numbers of employees who work for Catholic Relief Services.

“This development runs clearly in the face of the Bill of Rights, providing in its First Amendment freedom of religion, going all the way back to December 15, 1791,” said Archbishop Mansell. “Never before in the history of the United States has the federal government forced citizens to pay for directly what violates their beliefs,” he continued.

The Archdiocese of Hartford, along with dioceses across the country, is mounting a campaign against this edict, urging people to contact our two U.S. senators and five U.S. Representatives demanding that it be reversed. For information on where to send letters, visit archdioceseofhartford.org.

Mansell has invited all of Connecticut’s legislators to speak with him in person concerning the legislation.

“We must act strongly against this edict. It affects the lifeblood of Catholics and millions more who are not Catholic but whom we serve diligently. The future

of all of us and our country as well is at stake,” he said.


Annual food drive to include ‘Love & Chocolate’ event

SHELTON — Spooner House will be the beneficiary of two heart warming events on  Feb. 11 and Feb 12..

The annual Valley Has a Heart food collection will be held on Saturday, Feb. 11 at three Stop and Shop stores in the lower Naugatuck Valley—Ansonia, Seymour and Shelton. Stop and Shop is the marquee sponsor for this year’s Valley Has a Heart drives. The goal is to gather enough non-perishable food to last for at least two months and $3,000 in cash to use for restocking the shelves as needed during the cold winter months. The collections will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at each location. A list of the most needed items is included at the end of the release.

The Stop & Shop stores where donations can be made are at 100 Division Street in Ansonia, 15 Franklin Street in Seymour and 898 Bridgeport Avenue in Shelton. This year Spooner House is happy to have Stop & Shop as a marquee sponsorship, as well as site sponsors,  Dan Jacobs Porsche Specialists of Oxford and Dworken, Hillman, LaMorte & Sterczala of Shelton.

On Sunday, Feb. 12 from 1 – 4 p.m. Liquid Lunch is hosting a chocolate lover’s paradise event, “In Love & Chocolate” with proceeds being split between Spooner House and the Mary A. Schmecker Turtle Shell Fund. For $20 per person, patrons will be able to sample chocolate creations from the best of Connecticut’s confectioners, sip on champagne, listen to live music and more. Among the exhibitors serving up sweet samples are Antonio’s (Ansonia), Crave (Ansonia), Royal Bakery (Shelton), Pink Cupcake Shack (Shelton), Burnt Bakery (Seymour), KB Scotty’s (Southbury), Stone Gardens (Shelton) and more.

“In Love & Chocolate” will be held at the Liquid Lunch location in Shelton at 6 Research Drive. Tickets are available at all Liquid Lunch locations and via PayPal at liquidlunchrestaurant.com. All tickets purchased through our website will be held at Will Call for day of event. Please call Nicole at
203-926-6038 with any questions.

“Who doesn’t love chocolate? A perfect Valentine’s Day treat for everyone while giving back to two wonderful causes,” commented Nicole Heriot from Liquid Lunch. “We are always happy to help Spooner House continue to fulfill their mission of serving people in need in the lower Naugatuck Valley.”

Volunteers are still needed for “The Valley Has a Heart” food drives at each location to collect and organize the food. Spooner House encourages everyone to bring their loved ones to help or to organize a group in support of this cause. Please call Tony Vellucci at 203-225-0453 if you are able to provide just a few hours of help on Feb. 11. This is a great activity for scouts, church youth groups, high school students and civic clubs who are often required to donate community service time.

Those unable to visit one of the three Stop & Shop stores on Feb. 11 are still encouraged to make a donation.  Checks should be made payable and mailed to: Area Congregations Together, Inc., Spooner House, 30 Todd Road, Shelton CT 06484.  Donations may also be made via PayPal by clicking on the Donate button at www.actspooner.org.  Deliveries of non-perishable food items are also accepted at the above location Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., or to set up a special time for food delivery call 203-225-0453.

In Ansonia, donations for the Spooner House food bank may also be brought to the office at Christ Episcopal Church 56 Cliff Street Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or call 203-734-2715 to arrange for drop offs at another time.

National Survey of African American Catholics to be discussed in Bloomfield

BLOOMFIELD —  As the first national survey of its kind, the National Black Catholic Survey (NBCS),  prepared by the University of Notre Dame, reveals significant information about the religious engagement of African American Catholics. The results of the survey will be discussed at a “Day of Reflection,” which is being sponsored by the Office for Black Catholic Ministries (OBCM), on Jan. 21 at the Archdiocesan Center at Saint Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield at 9 a.m.

The public is invited to attend. To participate in the discussion, call the OBCM at: 860-243-0648.  Registration is required.

According to Deacon Arthur Miller, director of the OBCM and president of the National Association of Black Catholic Administrators (NABCA), the findings are revealing.  For instance, the study shows that on almost every conceivable measure of religious engagement, ranging from religious beliefs to practice, African American Christians are more religious than most other American Christians.