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May 10, 2020 - Fifth Sunday of Easter

Dear Friends in Christ:

There is so much going through my mind right now as I sit at my desk that I am on overload. I really do not even know where to start! I am filled with such a variety of emotions from the past few days, there have been highs and there have been lows, but I place it all in the hands of our Blessed Mother in this month dedicated to her. Wrap our parish family in the mantle of your love, O Lady, Queen of Peace.

First and foremost…on this Mother’s Day Weekend I offer to all mothers, grandmothers, aunts, godmothers, and to all who fill the role of mother in other people’s lives a very HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! Please know that each of you are in our prayers. This will be one for the books for sure. We will do what we can to find ways to honor our mothers while still in a time of social distancing and pandemic. I am sure social media will be flooded with driveway gatherings, perhaps some parades, and, of course, some backyard “socially distant” gatherings as we mark this day devoted to honoring the women in our lives who taught us about love.

How appropriate it is that in this month of May in which we honor the Blessed Mother Mary we also honor our own mothers, grandmothers, and all who love us in a motherly way by celebrating Mother’s Day. With gratitude, let us offer a prayer of thanks to our Blessed Mother. Let us take a moment to thank her for her motherly care for each of us. Let us also take the time to say thanks to God for the gift of our own mothers, grandmothers, and motherly figures in our lives—both those living and those deceased—who helped us to become who we are today.

Let us also remember and pray for those in our parish who find this to be a difficult day; those who may be alone on this day away from their children (certainly a number much higher this year as we face the reality of the pandemic), those who may be mourning a recent death of their mother or grandmother, and those who may be struggling with the reality of not being able to be a mother.

I assure all of you of our prayers as well:

· To those who gave birth this year—we celebrate with you.

· To those who lost a child this year, to those who experienced a miscarriage, to those who went through failed adoptions—we mourn with you.

· To those who struggle in the trenches each day with little ones and have the food stains to prove it—we appreciate you.

· To those who are foster moms, legal guardian moms, stepmothers, and godmothers—we need you.

· To those who lost their own mother or grandmother this year—we mourn with you.

· To those who will deal with an empty nest for the first time this year—we grieve and rejoice with you in this new phase of life.

· To those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising—we are filled with joy with you.

May Mary, the Mother of our Savior, pray for all of us. Happy Mother’s Day!

Cause for JOY! It is with profound joy and enthusiasm that I inform you that we have concluded the search for a new Principal for Saint Bridget School. Habemus Principalem!!! (Latin for “We have a Principal!”) I wanted to shout from the church roof these Latin words as they do from the balcony over St. Peter’s Square when they elect a new Pope and have white smoke come out of the chimney. I am ecstatic to share with you that on Friday, May 1, 2020, I appointed Dr. Nancy Testa as the next Saint Bridget School Principal. I know the family of Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish and St. Bridget School join me in welcoming Dr. Testa. She started on Monday, May 4, 2020, hitting the ground running getting to know our faculty and staff, seeking to become familiar with what makes St. Bridget School the great family it is, and working to create a plan for moving our school forward and ensuring we are ready to go for the 2020-2021 school year!

Dr. Testa is no stranger to St. Bridget School as she has a granddaughter in our PreK 3 Program, and over the past year visited our school facility for Archdiocesan meetings. Dr. Testa brings 36 years of experience as an educator and a real passion to further develop the path of academic excellence to St. Bridget School. Dr. Testa holds a Bachelor of Arts in Child Study from St. Joseph College, a Master of Science in Elementary Education from Central Connecticut State University, a Master of Science in Spanish Studies from Southern Connecticut State University, and a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University in Florida. She has not only been in education for 36 years but she also is an educational consultant helping others to hone their teaching skills.

Dr. Testa brings a caring demeanor, a deep Catholic faith, a commitment to education, and an understanding through experience of what it means to lead the school community.

I am also most confident that Dr. Testa will help build upon the legacy of St. Bridget School as we move forward seeking innovative ways to carry out our mission of attending “to the spiritual, intellectual, social, emotional, and physical needs of our students within a safe and nurturing environment based upon the Gospel message of Jesus to ‘love one another as I have loved you’ with the goal of empowering each of us to serve the parish and community and make a positive difference in the lives of others.”

Dr. Testa stated in her application that “one’s professional commitment and willingness to advocate for educational and spiritual advancement go hand-in-hand with facilitating and supporting the continual evolution of new programs, concentrations and 21st Century skills that ensure appropriate student placement and establish healthy minds and bodies, positive outcomes, and the spiritual growth of all learners.” I am confident we will see this style of leadership prove to be most effective during her tenure as Principal of St. Bridget School. We are truly blessed with her excitement to join our school family! Welcome Dr. Testa!

I take this time to express my deep personal gratitude, and the gratitude of our parish and school family to our Principal Search Committee for their distinguished service to us! Over the past six months they gathered together, and most recently over ZOOM, to conduct interviews and always insisted the right candidate would come one day. I am most grateful to each of the members including Dr. Margaret Palmeri, Chair of the Search Committee, Mr. Carey Dupont, Mr. Mark Izzo, Mrs. Joan Roczynski, and Mr. Shawn Simpson! THANK YOU for service in our time of need!

At the same time, I must share some bittersweet news as well. Our own Mrs. Marilú Rochefort, Interim Principal and Assistant Principal of Academics, has been offered an amazing opportunity as Assistant Director of Educational Services at Southern Connecticut State University. This is bittersweet as we are sad to see her leaving our team at St. Bridget School but are happy for her as this has been one of her professional goals to transition to higher education. Marilú will continue to be around as a parent, and a parish cantor, so this is not a goodbye. I do want to express, on behalf of all of us at St. Bridget School and Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish, our most profound gratitude to her! She has been part of the fabric of St. Bridget School since 2010 as a parent, a teacher, a Coordinator of Instructional Intervention & Resources, Assistant Principal of Academics, and for the last six months has faithfully and heroically, especially during this time of pandemic, served as Interim Principal. Marilú thank you, and please know of our prayers for you as you embark on this next journey in your professional life!

Mrs. Rochefort will continue to lead our faculty and students through the learning process and end-of-the-year activities while Dr. Testa begins a two month transition to St. Bridget School working with Mrs. Rochefort and meeting with faculty, staff, and parish colleagues, and preparing for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Thinking about the school, I was sad when I heard the Governor has decided that our school buildings will remain closed through the rest of the school year. It is in a way an experience of loss. I was holding on to hope that we would get to see the kids come back for a couple of weeks and bring some official closure to the academic year, but that is now not possible. While I understand the reasoning behind the decision it is still hard to accept. BUT school is NOT closed. Most of the media outlets announced schools remain closed for remainder of the year, but school is NOT closed—just ask the teachers or the parents. Education is continuing each day and for that I express my profound gratitude to our administration, our faculty and staff, and to ALL parents in our parish for what you are doing to ensure our young people continue to grow in knowledge.

WHAT ABOUT FIRST COMMUNIONS AND CONFIRMATIONS? WHAT ABOUT SCHOOL GRADUATION? These have been questions I have heard for quite some time and I had hoped to have an answer to those questions but I still do not. For now, as you can imagine, they are postponed. My hope and prayer is that as soon as we can start having public Masses, once again, to come up with a plan to let our young people receive their Sacraments and our Eighth Graders to graduate as soon as possible. We want to make these moments special for our young people. We want to celebrate these moments with them! So stay tuned for more information! I will communicate the information as soon as it develops.

THANK YOU!!!!! I want to express my gratitude, and that of Father Federico, to those who organized and to those who participated in the Parade last Sunday. You know as I wrote last week that Father Federico and I too are feeling the anxiety at times that comes during this time of pandemic. We really miss being with our parishioners, “seeing” you all, and walking this journey of faith with you. We long for that day when we can “be” together at the altar again. The parade last Sunday, on Good Shepherd Sunday, was truly an amazing experience. It gave us a chance to see so many with over 150 cars coming through the church grounds. It was deeply touching to see you all coming out to express your love and concern for us. God bless you all for that gift to us in the midst of this time of pandemic.

FINALLY, we were so excited last Sunday to offer an opportunity for parishioners to come on the church grounds, remain IN their own cars, and pray before the Eucharistic Lord. Our drive-in Adoration was well received! Over 80 cars came through the two hours and spent time in prayer before the Lord. Special gratitude to Sean Strollo, and Strollo’s Towing Service in Cheshire for allowing us to use the flatbed truck!

Also a word of thanks to all those who came to spend some time in prayer. Everyone remained in their cars and respected the need for doing so! It was really moving for Father Federico and I to see so many come on the property to “be” together with fellow parishioners for a time of prayer. The Lord certainly provided us the beautiful day needed for such an event and we give Him thanks!

As always, remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings upon us all in this time of pandemic. With the gracious intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, may we be united with one another in prayer! Please pray for me and know that I am praying for you! Continued prayers for you all to know and experience the joy, the peace, and the hope of the Risen Christ!

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