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So far Saint Catherine has created 5 blog entries.

New Canaan High School Class of 1978 Honors Memory of Katherine Schlegel

Members of the NCHS Class of 1978, including (l-r) Leo Karl III, Susan (Ambule) Galione, Susan (Burnap) Boston, Elena (Peters) Schlegel, Steve Yates, and Pam James, presented a check to Saint Catherine Center in memory of Katherine Schlegel. Pictured with Center participants: Gus, Eve, Ryan, and Natalie.

When Elena (Peters) and Stephen Schlegel lost their 20-year-old daughter Katherine last fall, members of the New Canaan High School Class of 1978 quickly focused their upcoming 40th Reunion celebration to make the event a fundraiser for Saint Catherine Center, where the Schlegels chose to honor Katherine’s memory.

Katherine Schlegel carried a bright, bubbly personality in life and was a quick friend to many people she met along the way. As her father Steve pointed out, “Katherine was always the brightest light in the room.” In a similar way, Saint Catherine Center has become a bright light to many area families of children and young adults with special needs.

“Many students and participants are now reaching the age where they need a new challenge,” said Helen Burland, Executive Director. “An expanded living and learning facility is becoming a top priority.” 

Recently members from the Class visited Saint Catherine Center for a tour and to present the gift, which will go toward a capital campaign to help us meet the growing needs of the population we serve.

Special Success: Meet the Athletes!

A willingness to try new things has brought about some exciting new experiences for two young women in our Adult Program.

Cheering with the Stars

For the past four years, Tierra has spent Sunday afternoons with her teammates on the CT Stars Inspiration Team working on their cheer routines. “I like the dancing part,” Tierra says, “especially when we jump up in a ‘V’!”

Tierra’s mother, Nicole Latimer-Livingston, is assistant coach of the team, as well as president of the CT Youth Spirit Conference and its local association, Bridgeport Charge, which has won four national championships. “Tierra would attend practices and competitions with me and would always ask if she could do cheerleading as well,” Nicole says. So when American Youth Cheer (AYC) created the Inspiration Division for young people with cognitive or physical disabilities, Nicole got Tierra involved. She participates in three to four events a year.

Early this past November, the CT Stars Inspiration Team travelled to Kissimmee, Florida, to show off their skills in the AYC National Championships. Tierra enjoyed staying in a hotel and eating out in restaurants. When asked if she was nervous performing, Tierra said, “I wasn’t nervous because I was happy.”

Her mom concurs. “Tierra absolutely loves cheering.”

Triumphing with the Team

In September, Sami competed in her first triathlon—the Westport Tri—with help from members of myTeam Triumph, a nationwide program that brings volunteer athletes together with people with disabilities to help them compete and enjoy endurance events like triathlons and road races. In the Westport Tri, myTeam Triumph pulled Sami in an inflatable boat on Long Island Sound, then moved her into a special chair which was first pulled by a bike and then pushed over the finish line. The event, Sami’s 9th competition, was featured recently in Dan Woog’s “06880” blog.

Although Sami is nonverbal, her mother Lori can tell she likes participating in the events from how animated she becomes when she sees her new “angel” friends. “One of my most important goals for Sami is that she is an active participant in her community,” Lori says. “This group has been heaven-sent to us…Sami has made new friends whom she now runs into all over town. She has a whole new community of love and support.”

Adult Program Welcomes New Director

Brady Cronin, new director of Adult Day Services

Mary “Brady” Cronin of Prospect, Conn., has joined Saint Catherine Center as the new Director of Adult Services. She will work closely with Executive Director Helen Burland to coordinate all program functions, from managing staff and developing Individual Plans for our young adult participants, to interfacing with the Department of Developmental Services. She will also work with Eric Spencer, Director of Education at Saint Catherine Academy, to maximize coordination with the school.

Brady comes to the Center with more than a decade of experience in child development and mental health counseling. Most recently she was Program Director for the Level II Therapeutic Group Home at Family & Children’s Aid in Danbury. In addition to coordinating daily care and treatment plans for the residents, she was responsible for maintaining all licensing and regulatory requirements. Brady has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Connecticut, and a Master’s in Human Services with a concentration in Clinical Counseling from Post University.

Brady feels confident her experience with adolescents will translate comfortably into working with adults with disabilities. “I was born into the field of helping others,” Cronin says. (Her mother, Kelly Cronin, was Executive Director of Waterbury Youth Services for 35 years.)

“We’re thrilled to have Brady on board,” Helen said. “She brings some excellent skills from her previous work with young adults—as well as a lot of fresh energy.”

All Are Welcome, Just as They Are: Special Needs Mass on December 2

Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”  Luke 18:16

Special Masses for young people with disabilities are both a joyful celebration of what Jesus calls us to do and an important way to promote their inclusion in the life of the parish.

Two such Masses were recently held in the region: In September, St. Pius X Church in Fairfield hosted a Mass for individuals with Down Syndrome and their families, and in early October, St. Catherine of Siena Church in Riverside celebrated a Mass for people of all ages with disabilities. Organized and facilitated by Parish Partners: Ministry of Hope, more than 130 people attended. A lively luncheon followed.

On Sunday, December 2nd, at 2 p.m., Saint Catherine Center will host its annual Mass Celebrating People with Special Needs at Holy Cross Church, adjacent the Center at 750 Tahmore Drive in Fairfield. As many as 15 young people from all over the Diocese will receive the Sacraments of First Holy Communion and/or Confirmation. It is a moving experience each year.  Individuals of all ages and their families are welcome to join in the celebration, with refreshments following. RSVPs (203-540-5381) are appreciated.

“It is beautiful to see Anna and her classmates participate in the Mass,” said Dave Stowe, parent of a Saint Catherine Academy student who was confirmed at the 2017 Mass. This year, Anna will be one of the readers for the celebration.

Download the flyer here.

In addition to promoting inclusion of people with special needs in parish life, Saint Catherine Center’s Office for Parish & Community Support serves as a resource across the Diocese to help families with the process of preparing their special needs children and young adults to receive the Sacraments of Baptism, First Holy Communion, and Confirmation. Gail Mikolsky, director of the program, is available to advise families and Directors of Religious Education about accommodations or modifications that might be needed, and even to “practice” with the individuals. Call 203-540-5381 for more information.

“Oh, What a Night!”

The Annual “Joy and Gratitude” Dinner on June 10th at Fairfield University was hugely successful, attracting nearly 300 guests and raising over $300,000 in much-needed support for Center programs. (Visit our Facebook page to see the photos!)

The combination of a great Silent Auction, a unique array of Live Auction experiences, and the generosity of so many donors who raised their hands in the Call to Charity contributed to the event’s success. Funds raised in the Call to Charity will support the development of vocational and social enterprise opportunities for students and adult day participants.

Three individuals were recognized for their contributions of time and talent to Saint Catherine: the late Dan Caruso (Community Service); Eileen Blees (Volunteer Service) for facilitating gym class at the Academy the past 10 years; and Michael LaBella (Leadership), for his contribution as a Board member.

“It was a great evening in every aspect—the size of the gathering, the quality of the auctions and, of course, the guests,” noted Charles Chiusano, Chairman of the Board. “The food was excellent, and the results are a godsend!”

Guests enjoyed the relaxed, summertime atmosphere. Numerous attendees said the event was “the best one ever” for the Center. “This event is like a family reunion for a great cause,” said one guest. “I get to relax, catch up with friends, and support this wonderful organization at the same time.”

A special Thank You to all our Dinner Sponsors: Britta and Denis Nayden; GoldPoint Partners; Knights of Columbus Supreme Office; Dian Jennings Mayo; AEA; CrossBay Capital Partners, LLC; St. Aloysius Parish; St. Rose of Lima Parish; TD Bank, N.A.; and all our Table Patrons.

We also thank Kelly Weldon and the Dinner Committee for all their help and enthusiasm!

View more photos!

  

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