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Jaynika Aguirre-Larios and daughter Danielise Gonzalez were among an honorary residential welcoming committee for Archbishop Leonard P. Blair during his Thanksgiving pastoral visit on Nov. 25 to pray and celebrate with the staff and residents of St. Agnes Home in West Hartford.

20141121cm01588 webA poster announcing the pope's raffle is seen next to St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Nov. 21. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Like many Catholic parishes, the Vatican has turned to a raffle to raise money; the difference is, though, the prizes are items originally given as gifts to Pope Francis.

whyte-kidney 4244-adj-webFather Michael G. Whyte, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in West Simsbury, sits beside parishioner Margaret Domashinski in the parish rectory 10 weeks after surgery Sept. 9, when Mrs. Domashinski donated a kidney to save her pastor’s life. (Photo by Jack Sheedy)

WEST SIMSBURY – A parishioner walks up to her pastor and says, “I want to give you my kidney.”
Pastor smiles and says, “Okay.”

Don’t expect a punch line. It’s no joke.

Father Michael G. Whyte arrived at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in 2007 and has been pastor there since 2008.  A type 1 diabetic, he began experiencing extreme tiredness and nausea at about that time, signs of kidney failure due to the diabetes. Doctors gave him three choices: go on dialysis and live five or six more years; do nothing and die within six months; or get a kidney transplant and – if it’s from a live donor – live 20 to 25 years.

20141117cm01483 webPope Francis leads his Sunday Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Nov. 16. The following day, Pope Francis confirmed he will visit Philadelphia in September. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis said he would attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September, making it the first confirmed stop on what is expected to be a more extensive papal visit to North America.

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Auxiliary Bishop Christi A. Macaluso presided over the Rite of Admission to Candidacy for the Permanent Diaconate on Nov. 20 in the chapel of St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield.

20101119cnsbr03533 webBishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, Calif., addresses the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during its annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15, 2010. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec) WASHINGTON – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) annual collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) will be taken up in parishes nationwide on Nov. 22-23, the weekend before Thanksgiving. Echoing the teaching of Pope Francis, the collection focuses on the theme: “CCHD: Working on the Margins.”

“In the United States, many Americans continue to face the effects of a stagnant economy, debilitating unemployment, a dehumanizing cycle of poverty, and growing civic disenfranchisement,” said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

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Up above the shoreline of the Mediterranean Sea, Saint Peter's Church shines as the beacon to the Holy Land from the old port city of Jaffa. Peter's vision of the clean and unclean took place here at the house of Simon the tanner. Jaffa (Joppa in biblical times) was also the departure port for the prophet Jonah's encounter with the whale.Bob Mullen/The Catholic Photographer, a member of the Cathedral of St. Joseph Parish in Hartford and a regular contributor to The Catholic Transcript, visited Israel Nov. 4-11 and shared the sites through these photographs. The Israel Ministry of Tourism and El Al Israel Airlines arranged the “Catholic Highlights of Israel” tour primarily for writers, editors and photographers for Catholic media. The photos marked "Photo of the Day" are available for download for free. They will be highlighted periodically.

20141105cnsbr6821 webYoung people take selfies with Pope Francis as he leaves his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Nov. 5. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The world's bishops are called to be servants and shepherds who use their position to care for people and the faith, not to seek power and boost their pride, Pope Francis said.

The church has no place for men with a "worldly mentality" who are seeking a career, he said at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square Nov. 5.

"It's sad when you see a man who seeks this office and who does so much to get there and when he makes it, he doesn't serve, but struts like a peacock, living only for his own vanity," the pope said.

AlbertusProf SMSstudents-webBiology Professor Patricia Compagnone Post demonstrates materials for working with DNA to students from St. Mary School in Branford on Oct. 22 at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven.

BRANFORD – St. Mary School’s seventh and eighth graders are learning science and math from Albertus Magnus College faculty now as part of a new partnership.

The partnership is designed to improve the St. Mary students’ competitiveness in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields of study. The school’s STEM program aims to provide students with a dynamic, engaging series of educational experiences based on an innovative, in-depth and hands-on approach to science.

Archbishop's Desk

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  • True and false compassion

    For this November issue of the Transcript, I want to anticipate the coming holiday and wish you...

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Milestones

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  • USJ receives $2-plus million grant toward student success

    Together for the announcement of a $2 million-plus grant for the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford...

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Youth

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  • St. Gabriel students give to Windsor Food Bank

    From left, students Sabrina Louro, Ethan Alford, Thomas Dao and Jordan Walker pose near...

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dirienzos_feb11Rosemarie DiRienzo holds the award that she received recently from the volunteer organization Soldiers’ Angels as her husband, Deacon Mario DiRienzo, points out a photo in a room in their Woodbridge home that is dedicated to Mrs. DiRienzo’s efforts to support soldiers and military chaplains. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky)

WOODBRIDGE – For the past five years, Rosemarie DiRienzo has been sending supplies to military chaplains stationed in the far-flung bases in Iraq and Afghanistan through Soldiers’ Angels – a group dedicated to sending care packages and letters of support to soldiers from home.

To thank her for her work, the California-based nonprofit organization recently recognized her with an award in the shape of a beautiful crystal angel that reads, "For giving above and beyond the call of angels in supporting our military personnel."

On the back is the simple phrase that captures the efforts of the group, founded in 2004 by the mother of two soldiers, as well as Mrs. DiRienzo’s mission: "May no soldier go unloved."

"You have no idea how wonderful this work is," said Mrs. DiRienzo, the wife of Deacon Mario DiRienzo, who serves at St. Augustine Parish in Seymour. "It’s wonderful, the responses and letters I’ve received.

"It has become an obsession with me," she said emphatically. "My father was an Army man, so I’m tuned into the military and the contributions of our service people."

Mrs. DiRienzo volunteers to serve one of four areas assigned by Soldiers’ Angels – specifically, to chaplains who minister in remote regions by offering prayer and sacramental support, celebrating Mass and providing pastoral counseling.

She has been assigned eight chaplains; six of whom are Catholic priests. The chaplains minister to 350 to 600 male and female soldiers.

She send the priests vestments, chalices, altar linens, prayer cards, rosaries, Bibles and other items collected from priests in the Archdiocese of Hartford. Each box is accompanied by a letter from the DiRienzos.

She also responds to requests she receives from the chaplains and the organization by sending items for soldiers, such as socks, T-shirts, personal hygiene items, hot chocolate, sheets, gloves and even candy and toys that the soldiers give to local children to help bridge relationships.

Local priests who have given items to send are Father Gene Gianelli (Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Woodbridge); Father Joseph Donnelly (Sacred Heart Parish in Southbury); Father James Shanley (St. George Parish in Guilford); Father Stephen Sledesky (St. Bridget/St. Bartholomew in Manchester); Father Robert Beloin (chaplain at Yale University’s St. Thomas More Chapel); and Father Ronald Genoa (Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin Residence in Bloomfield).

Other donations for the boxes of items that she sends monthly have been from Holy Family Monastery and Retreat Center in West Hartford, the Rosary Guild at Holy Rosary Parish in Ansonia, local councils of the Knights of Columbus, and the religious education program and parishioners of St. Augustine in Seymour.

The Thursday Woodbridge Senior Ladies group also has donated stitched prayer pouches for soldiers to slip into their pockets with a prayer or blessing inside; and children at St. Bridget School in Manchester assembled ‘happy feet’ care packages that included soap, detergent, socks, brushes, foot powder, nylon rope and clothes pins.

Mrs. DiRienzo also bargain- hunts for such items as stuffed animals and candy at local stores, and gratefully accepts donations from anyone who wants to help.

In addition to sending to her assigned chaplains, she also sends items to Father Dennis P. Hanley and to Father Lee W. Hellwig, both priests of the Archdiocese of Hartford, both of whom are serving overseas.

In return, she receives numerous letters of appreciation as well as photos of soldiers and priests, the latter shown wearing the donated vestments.

The DiRienzos send the boxes at their own expense. The postage on boxes transported on military cargo planes costs between $6 and $14, she said.

In one letter, a soldier wrote, "You’ll never know how much morale is lifted by the love and support of friends like you back home. Be assured that your contribution goes a long way in motivating our war fighters. It is my hope that this note will communicate our thanks and appreciation for your extraordinary generosity."

"They’re just so appreciative of everything you do that you just want to keep doing this," said Mrs. DiRienzo.

An entire room in the DiRienzos’ Woodbridge home is dedicated to Soldiers’ Angels. Some of the letters and photos are kept in that room. Other photos hang on a wall at her husband’s office, DiRienzo Mechanical Contractors Inc. in New Haven, where customers have identified family members in the photos.

"We do not realize how important and uplifting it is for them to get messages from home to help their morale," said Deacon DiRienzo, who has been a permanent deacon for 25 years.

In another letter, a soldier related that he and his wife have a baby on the way. He further wrote, "I’d like to personally thank you. It’s extremely uplifting for us to receive support from home in a war that many people in the United States seem to have placed in the back of their minds. We cannot deny that there are many who have lost their life. We cannot forget the courage, sacrifice and spirit that these soldiers possessed as well as the soldiers who on this very day are on patrol thousands of miles from home and loved ones. Once again, thank you very much for the time you give to us and for your support."

With a note of quiet determination in her voice, Mrs. DiRienzo said, "You get letters like this and you know you’re doing the right thing."

Information about Soldiers’ Angels is available at http://soldiersangels.org.

 

 

Events Calendar

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10:00 AM
St. Michael Parish Center, Waterbury, Waterbury, United States
Knights of Columbus from several councils in greater Waterbury will distribute coats to children from 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 28 at its “Coats for Kids” drive at St. Michael’s Parish [...]
Date :  November 28, 2014
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09:00 AM
St. Gregory CCD Center, Bristol, Bristol, United States
The annual St. Gregory Christmas Craft Fair will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 29-30 at the CCD Center, located at 1043 Stafford Ave. The fair will feature over 40 crafters/vendors, an [...]
12:00 AM
St. Mary School, Milford
St. Mary School will sell freshly cut Christmas trees, wreaths and cemetery pieces from 5:30-9 p.m. Monday [...]
Date :  November 29, 2014
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09:00 AM
St. Gregory CCD Center, Bristol, Bristol, United States
The annual St. Gregory Christmas Craft Fair will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 29-30 at the CCD Center, located at 1043 Stafford Ave. The fair will feature over 40 crafters/vendors, an [...]
09:30 AM
Polish National Home, Hartford, Hartford, United States
HARTFORD – The Polish Cultural Club of Greater Hartford will hold its annual Szopka Festival from 9:30 [...]
12:00 AM
St. Mary School, Milford
St. Mary School will sell freshly cut Christmas trees, wreaths and cemetery pieces from 5:30-9 p.m. Monday [...]
Date :  November 30, 2014

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