crs lauralton webAntoinette (Toni) Iadarola, president of Lauralton Hall in Milford, holds an award presented to the school by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) on Feb. 26. From left are Soha Menassa, who spoke to students about the work of CRS in Lebanon; Peggy Jean Craig from CRS; Dr. Iadarola; and Maria Isabel Barboza, CRS relationship manager in the northeast and mid-Atlantic region. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky)

MILFORD – Calling the refugee crisis in Syria the worst humanitarian disaster since World War II, Soha Menassa, project manager for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Lebanon, explained how CRS is responding to the mounting needs of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

20150305cnsbr8397 pope webPope Francis greets elderly woman as he arrives for weekly audience in 2014 in St. Peter's Square at Vatican. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The most serious ailment the aged face and the greatest injustice they suffer is abandonment, Pope Francis said.

facs stpats webCindi Bigelow, president and CEO of Fairfield-based Bigelow Tea, speaks at the annual Archbishop’s St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast in Hartford March 17. (Photo by Jack Sheedy)

HARTFORD – More than 900 people attended the annual Archbishop’s St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast at the Connecticut Convention Center March 17, making Catholic education possible for many students who otherwise could not afford it, according to organizers of the event.

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NEW HAVEN – Legislative proposals to allow doctors to prescribe fatal prescriptions to people diagnosed with a terminal illness are not seen as a good option by Connecticut adults, according to a new Knights of Columbus-Marist poll.

20150218cm01806 webPope Francis gives ashes during Ash Wednesday Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome Feb. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

ROME (CNS) -- Lent is a journey of purification and penance, a movement that should bring one tearfully back to the loving arms of the merciful Father, Pope Francis said at an Ash Wednesday Mass that began with a procession on Rome's Aventine Hill.

stpats mass 4317 web

Archbishop Leonard P. Blair poses with key figures from the Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday at St. Mary Church in New Haven, where the archbishop celebrated Mass before marching in the parade.

20150217cm01766 webCoptic Christian women attend a Feb. 17 service in Cairo for the Egyptians said to have been beheaded in Libya. (CNS photo/Mohamed Abd El Ghany, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis called for prayers for the Egyptian Christians beheaded by Islamic State militants in Libya and asked that God recognize these men killed for their faith.

Robert.Curis.New.Headshot2Robert F. Curis

WEST HAVEN – Notre Dame High School in West Haven has named Mr. Robert F. Curis its next president. He will assume his responsibilities on July 1.

20150213cnsto0043 web This architectural rendering shows how the Museum of the Bible planned for Washington will look. (CNS photo/courtesy Smith Group JJR)

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- On a gray and overcast morning in Washington, just a short walk from Capitol Hill, construction work began on a museum intended to promote engagement, education and discussion of the Bible.

Archbishop's Desk

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  • Blessings and challenges

    A letter from Archbishop Leonard P. Blair was inserted into church bulletins available at Masses...

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Milestones

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    A new, women-only infusion center has been  officially opened at the Comprehensive Women’s Health...

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Youth

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    The victorious boys varsity basketball team of St. Mary School in Milford poses after beating...

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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

March 2015
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05:30 PM
Grand Oak Villa, Oakville, CT, Watertown, United States
The St. Vincent DePaul Mission of Waterbury will commemorate its 37-year record of continual service to the poor of Greater Waterbury with a banquet beginning at 5:30 p.m. March 26 at the Grand Oak [...]
05:30 PM
St. Peter/St. Francis School, Torrington, Torrington, United States
St. Peter/St. Francis School will have open houses in March, April and May. The times and dates are 5:30-7 p.m. March 26, 9-11 a.m. April 22 and 5:30-7 p.m. May 12. Parents may visit [...]
07:00 PM
St. Rita School, Hamden CT, Hamden, United States
St. Rita School in Hamden will present the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” at 7 p.m. March 26, 7 p.m. March 27; and at 1 and 7 p.m. March 28.. Tickets cost [...]
12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War’s end, the Knights of Columbus Museum is sponsoring an historical exhibition and lecture series. The exhibit, [...]
Date :  March 26, 2015
27
07:00 PM
St. Rita School, Hamden CT, Hamden, United States
St. Rita School in Hamden will present the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” at 7 p.m. March 26, 7 p.m. March 27; and at 1 and 7 p.m. March 28.. Tickets cost [...]
12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War’s end, the Knights of Columbus Museum is sponsoring an historical exhibition and lecture series. The exhibit, [...]
Date :  March 27, 2015
28
01:00 PM
St. Rita School, Hamden CT, Hamden, United States
St. Rita School in Hamden will present the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” at 7 p.m. March 26, 7 p.m. March 27; and at 1 and 7 p.m. March 28.. Tickets cost [...]
05:00 PM
Sacred Heart Academy, Hamden, CT, Hamden, United States
Sacred Heart Academy is sponsoring a $10,000 cash raffle as part of its annual signature fund-raising event, a live and silent auction, taking place at 5 p.m. March 28. Tickets for the cash [...]
07:00 PM
St. Rita School, Hamden CT, Hamden, United States
St. Rita School in Hamden will present the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” at 7 p.m. March 26, 7 p.m. March 27; and at 1 and 7 p.m. March 28.. Tickets cost [...]
12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War’s end, the Knights of Columbus Museum is sponsoring an historical exhibition and lecture series. The exhibit, [...]
Date :  March 28, 2015
29
07:00 PM
St. Ann Church, Bristol CT, Bristol, United States
A tenebrae service, or service of lights, will take place at 7 p.m. on Palm Sunday, March 29, at St. Ann Church, 215 West St., Bristol. This service will include hymns, music by a contemporary [...]
12:00 AM
12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War’s end, the Knights of Columbus Museum is sponsoring an historical exhibition and lecture series. The exhibit, [...]
Date :  March 29, 2015
30
12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War’s end, the Knights of Columbus Museum is sponsoring an historical exhibition and lecture series. The exhibit, [...]
Date :  March 30, 2015
31
09:00 AM
St. Mary School, Milford, Milford, United States
St. Mary School in Milford will have an open house from 9-11 a.m. March 31. Teachers, staff and parents of current and former students will be on hand and students will provide tours. [...]
11:00 AM
Cathedral of St. Joseph, Hartford , Hartford, United States
During the Chrism Mass on March 31 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford, Archbishop Leonard P. Blair will bless the oils to be used in the upcoming year during the sacraments of [...]
12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War’s end, the Knights of Columbus Museum is sponsoring an historical exhibition and lecture series. The exhibit, [...]
Date :  March 31, 2015

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