“My friends, in a world where we are judged solely by what we can offer, today as we celebrate these sacraments let us remember the great gift of just being a son or daughter of God. Everything else takes a second place.” Bishop Frank Caggiano

The Great Gift of Just Being a Child of God: Saint Catherine Center Hosts 2019 Mass Celebrating People with Special Needs

More than 150 family members and friends gathered on Sunday, November 17th, at Holy Cross Church in Fairfield for the annual Mass Celebrating People with Special Needs, hosted by Saint Catherine Center. View photos

In his homily, Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano spoke of the “unique witness” given by the 12 young people who were receiving the Sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation. “God has chosen these young people in baptism and reaffirms their baptism [in Confirmation] because they are worth everything to him before they do a single thing,” the bishop said. “It’s with their joy, their enthusiasm, their innocence, their purity, their faithfulness that they respond…  My friends, in a world where we are judged solely by what we can offer, today as we celebrate these sacraments let us remember the great gift of just being a son or daughter of God. Everything else takes a second place.”

Participants came from St. Mary’s Church (Norwalk), St. Thomas Aquinas Church (Fairfield), St. Rose of Lima (Newtown), The Cathedral Parish (Bridgeport), and five students from Saint Catherine Academy.

Each year, Saint Catherine Center offers the opportunity for individuals with special needs to receive the Sacraments of Initiation outside the typical faith formation program. Center staff worked with parents and Directors of Religious Education throughout the Diocese to coordinate preparation and participation.

Msgr. William Scheyd and Rev. Charles Allen, SJ, concelebrated the Mass with the bishop. Members of the Knights of Columbus Honor Guard, Saint Catherine Center board members, and staff joined the celebration. Family members gave the readings and two students from Saint Catherine Academy presented the gifts. The bishop acknowledged Saint Catherine Center staff, the Center’s Board of Directors, and Executive Director Helen Burland for their work with young people with special needs. “The Center is not a ‘Center,’” he said. “It’s a home.”

At the conclusion of the Mass, Bishop Caggiano presented Joe and Carrie Sindelar of New Canaan with the St. Augustine Medal of Service for outstanding volunteerism. (The couple was unable to attend the prayer service and award ceremony in October.) A longstanding member of the Board of Directors, Joe is a tireless advocate for Saint Catherine Center. Carrie has volunteered her time and expertise in numerous ways, assisting in the Library Program and organizing tables for the Center’s annual “Joy & Gratitude” Dinner. “Both Joe and Carrie have been outstanding advocates for our students and young adults,” said Helen Burland, Executive Director. “They always respond to whatever is needed.” 

In addition to promoting inclusion of people with special needs in parish life, Saint Catherine Center for Special Needs 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. We are available to advise families and Directors of Religious Education about accommodations or modifications that might be needed. Call 203-540-5381 for more information.

X