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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!


Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Spring was definitely in the air for our “Cinco de Mayo” dinner dance Friday, May 4, at St. Pius Church in Fairfield. Our guests came from all over the Diocese for the popular event, which offers adults with special needs a fun, free evening together “out on the town”—dinner, socializing, and dancing included.

“I get to be with my friends tonight and I love it,” said Patrick, a participant in the Center’s adult day program.

The lovely paper flower centerpieces, created by Saint Catherine Academy students, were enjoyed by all. Once again, we thank our gracious group of teen volunteers from St. Andrews in Bridgeport for being our servers, and our outstanding DJ, Herb Ramirez.

Hosted three times a year by the Center, the Dinner Dance attracts more than 100 guests and is a much-anticipated event. If you would like to volunteer or help underwrite costs, please contact us at 203-540-5381, or


Special Needs Trusts or Able Account?

Saint Catherine Center for Special Needs will host a financial planning workshop on Wednesday, November 8 at 7:00 pm for parents and guardians of children and young adults with special needs. Stephen Ehrens, CPA and Wealth Advisor from Northwestern Mutual will present estate planning considerations, information of special needs trusts, and wills as well as a primer on Social Security benefits and Medicaid. For more information or to reserve a seat, please call 203-540-5381 or email:

Program Flyer: Financial workshop Nov 2017

Gone Fishing

A group of participants in our Adult Service program spent the day at Gilbertie’s Farm in Easton. Armed with fishing poles and lures, Mr. Mike and Mr. Pat led the group on a fishing adventure. There is a pond located on the farm property that is stocked with fish.

It was a beautiful, sunny day.  The group was joined by John Murphy, a member of the Knights of Columbus Council from St. Rose of Lima in Newtown.  Everyone caught at least one fish and Ryan caught four!

The day was topped off by a picnic lunch under the shade of the trees on the edge of the farm. This is the second time our group has gone fishing. They can’t wait to try it again soon.


Saint Catherine Academy Hosts Parent Workshop on May 3rd

Dr. Eric Frazer will present a workshop, “Evidence-based Psychosocial Treatment for Children and Adolescents with ADHD”, on May 3rd at 6:30pm.  Dr. Frazer is a licensed clinical psychologist with a specialization and academic concentration in Forensic Psychology.  In addition to his private practice, Dr. Frazer holds an academic appointment of Assistant Clinical Professor at Yale University School of Medicine and teaches seminars on various topics related to psychological assessment.

The workshop will focus on the application of behavior therapy and behavior modification as a component of treatment for symptoms of ADHD as a primary diagnosis or secondary to developmental disorders such as intellectual disability or autism. There will be a brief presentation on assessment followed by a review of effective treatments that include parent training, school intervention and child intervention.

The workshop is open to the public.  To reserve a seat, please call 203-540-5381 or email

for more information, please click on: Eric Frazer presentation

Mass for People with Disabilities

Saint Catherine Center for Special Needs will host the annual Mass for People with Disabilities on Sunday, November 5 at 2:00 pm at Holy Cross Church, adjacent to the Center on Tahmore Drive. Bishop Frank Caggiano will be the principal celebrant. All are welcome to attend.

During Mass, Bishop will confer the Sacraments of Initiation to individuals from throughout the Diocese who are presented by their parish.

For more information, please contact the Religious Education Director at your parish or Gail Mikolsky, Director of Parish and Community Support at Saint Catherine Center at 203-540-5381.

mass flyer- 2017

Summertime with Friends

The Adult Day program continued to prosper and grow.  We have had a great summer – filled with fun activities! And we have welcomed some new friends to our program.

While we continued to work on some job skills at the Center and at some of our volunteer sites, we also were able to enjoy the beautiful weather with trips to miniature golf at Calf’s Pasture in Norwalk, the Discovery Museum, Silverman’s Farm and the Maritime Center.

Our days were filled with walks and picnics at Lake Mohegan, bowling at Nutmeg Bowl and music with Mr. Matt. Gus, Andy and Jesse joined our group and we are anxiously waiting for Angel and Patrick to join us in September.  Miss Tra’Nisha joined our staff in June and Miss Racquel will join us in late August.

Next week, Mr. Pat and Mr. Mike are taking a group to fish at Gilbertie’s Farm. Be sure to check in to see how that adventure plays out.