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Let There Be Peace on Earth

FAIRFIELD - When the cast of this year's Saint Catherine Academy Christmas pageant brought down the curtain with their rendition of "Let there be peace on earth," they were treated to a standing ovation. Almost 200 filled the tiny St. Catherine Academy auditorium for the performance of "The First Christmas" by students of the academy, which serves young people impacted by autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities. The annual production has become one of the great Christmas moments in the Diocese. "Just seeing Jesus filled them with hope," said the narrator during the production, which was also filled with hope and joy. The audience responded to the 40-minute production with frequent applause and by joining in a wide range of Christmas standards from Silent Night to We Three Kings, O Little Town of Bethlehem, and the Gloria. For an encore, the students treated the audience to a performance of "Feliz Navidad." "You gave us Christmas two days early," said Bishop Caggiano after congratulating the performers and parents. "These young people gave us a very great gift today because they helped us to experience what Christmas is all about - it's about love." "It's an old saying that every time a person loves someone, Christmas is re-lived," said the Bishop, who posed for photos with the cast and faculty of Saint Catherine Academy after the performance. The Bishop thanked parents for entrusting their children to the academy, "where they are cared for, they are loved, and they help us remember what really matters, Jesus the Lord." Academy students Kelly Martinez and Jonathan Tiexiera narrated the pageant and read Nativity accounts from the Gospel of Luke.  Natalie Massaro won applause for her spirited portrayal of Angel Gabriel, and Elijah

By | January 5th, 2015|News|0 Comments

Peanut Butter and Jelly Friday

“We have made more than 18,000 sandwiches since the project began in November 2008,” said Helen Burland.  “PB and J Friday has been part of our program and we look forward to it every month!” Once a month, volunteers, students and staff gather in the gym and form an assembly line to produce peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Merton House, a local soup kitchen. Everyone is broken up into teams: the peanut butter spreaders, the jelly team, toppers, sandwich cutters, and baggers. With music in background, each team works on their task and before you know it, 300 sandwiches are done! On Friday, December 19th, Fr. Ian Jeremiah, Nancy Murphy, Steve and Moreen Donahue, Sr. MaryRose and Kathy Madzulla along with our regular volunteers, Michelle Quinn, Sr. Leonora, Sr. Diane, Sr. Henry and Sr. Donna gathered with the students and staff. With Christmas Carols playing, everyone got right to work and finished in less than an hour. This wonderful partnership with members of the Order of Malta and Sisters from School Sisters of Notre Dame is our way of giving back to the community and to learn that we all have something to share! We celebrate our abilities by helping others in need.

By | December 19th, 2014|News|0 Comments

van Gogh meets Christmas in New Haven

On December 1st, our students headed to the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven, CT to participate in their annual Christmas Tree Festival. This was the culmination of several weeks of working with Mrs. Gina Barber, Art Teacher as the students created the tree decorations reflecting the theme of the Museum, Creches of Italy. Our students began with an introduction to Vincent van Gogh, learning about his interests and style. They produced sunflowers that adorn the bulletin board outside the art room. The sunflowers would become the garland for the tree. Then they moved onto “Starry, Starry Night” and created individual nativity scenes with Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus with the backdrop of the beautiful deep blue sky adorned with glittery stars. Finally, the students, under the watchful eye of Mrs. B. created stars as ornaments and a tree topper. The visit to the Knights Museum is an annual event for our students. They enjoy the decorating of their tree as well as the tour of the museum. This year they had the opportunity to see a number of crèches from Italy. But the highlight of the trip is always the hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookies! The Christmas Tree exhibit is open 7 days a week from now until Feb. 1st. There are over 20 trees decorated by school children from around the state.

By | December 12th, 2014|News|0 Comments

Thanks to our Veterans

Sergeant Jonathan K. Edmonds helped our students honor our veterans and active duty service men and women by coming to Saint Catherine Center for Special Needs and telling them about his career in the US Marines! Sergeant Edmonds talked about his journey from boot camp, through his time as an infantryman, to his current post as a recruiter in Bridgeport.  He had previously served in Japan, Hawaii and Afghanistan.  He told us that he is looking forward to returning to his role as an infantryman when he finishes his current post as a recruiter.  He described each of his medals, and the reason each was awarded.  He was very proud of his dress uniform, which he described as his favorite.   Sergeant Edmonds spent time answering all of the questions put to him by our students. Kelly asked him about his time in basic training-.  He replied that is was tough, and that it is the most difficult of all the branches of the military.  Jonathan asked him about his pay and living quarters.  He told us about the college style dormitories you live in as a new marine, but that you get a housing allowance when you are married.  The allowance enabled him to find a nice house in Shelton, where he lives with his wife and their thirteen year old daughter.  He posed for a photo with all of our students who were present, and gave each student a USMC sticker.  All of our students were excited by the visit, and appreciated his talk.

By | November 12th, 2014|News|0 Comments

Breaking News

The Incorporation of the Center for Special Needs Bishop Frank Caggiano and Charles Chiusano, Board Chair put into motion the final phase of the establishment of the Saint Catherine Center for Special Needs on Saturday, October 25th. The Articles of Incorporation establishes a two- tiered governance for the new organization, i.e., Members who control the mission and oversee the appointment of the Board of Directors, and the Board of Directors who are responsible for the overall operation of the Center. Bishop Caggiano, Sr. Mary Grace Walsh, the Secretary for Catholic Education and Faith Formation and Monsignor Scheyd, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Bridgeport will serve as the Members of the corporation. The following were named to the Board of Directors: Charles Chiusano (Chair); Michael LaBella (Vice Chair); Anthony Minopoli (Secretary); Al Barber; Christine Herman; Monsignor Robert Weiss; Stephen Donahue; Cece Donoghue; Joseph Sindelar, Jr.; Elizabeth Browne; Edward Lenard, MD; Jerry Hemenway, MD; Terrence McClinch; Sara Zagrodzky; Kelleen Luff Weldon; Thomas Vita; Sr. Mary Grace and Damien O’Connor. Helen Burland, Executive Director of the Center will serve as Treasurer. “This is an exciting day,” Bishop Caggiano said. “I believe that the Board should have the opportunity to exert leadership. I want to entrust this organization to you.” More than 10 Board of Directors looked on as Charles and Bishop Caggiano formerly signed the resolutions that will be filed with the Office of Secretary of the State on Monday, October 27th. The mission of Saint Catherine Center for Special Needs is to meet the educational, social, and spiritual needs of people with disabilities. Saint Catherine Academy will continue under the umbrella of the Center as a private special education school meeting the needs of students

By | October 29th, 2014|News|0 Comments

Learning From Each Other

Learning from Each Other The beginning of school offers many opportunities to share and explore and develop. We share our summer experiences with our classmates and teachers. This opens our minds to new ideas that encourage us to explore. We look at new skills that we might need and we begin to build on skills that we already have with confidence. We share our talents with each other and we open our hearts and minds to learning from each other. Now we work together to develop something new – an idea; an art project; a new skill. In September, the students involved in our vocational program last year reviewed their job placements and talked about workplace behavior and what it means to be a good employee. These students were joined by students who were new to the vocational program and they shared their perspective on work. By the middle of the month, Saint Catherine students were at Bigelow Tea, Gilberties Herb Farm and TJMaxx. Other students began to explore reading learning site words and looking at texts in the library and on I Pads. Some of our older students paired up with some of our younger students to show them how to explore a book. In the process, we are developing relationships with each other and are learning to respect one another and enjoy our new friends. All is possible if we take the time to share, explore and develop!

By | October 7th, 2014|News|0 Comments

Special Needs Mass – September 21st

All are invited to join us on Sunday, September 21st for the annual Special Needs Mass at Holy Cross Church in Fairfield (next to Saint Catherine Academy). The Most Reverend Bishop Frank Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport will be the Principal Celebrant and Homilist at the Mass. A reception with light refreshments will follow the Mass in the adjoining gymnasium. Please join us for the beautiful celebration!

By | September 9th, 2014|News|0 Comments

What did you do on your summer vacation?

This is the most commonly asked question of returning students and is often met with reluctance and sometimes groans. But when we asked Kelly to describe her summer experience she smiled and began to tell us about an adventure that started 10 months ago. Looking for something interesting to do that matched her interest in law enforcement, Kelly discovered the Fairfield Explorers Post. The group meets weekly with classes in self defense, traffic safety, fingerprinting and physical fitness just to name a few. Some weekends, the Post volunteers to help with traffic for local 5ks or carnivals. Fast forward to the Summer 2014. Sixteen members of the Fairfield Explorer Post headed west to Indiana University for 7 days for a national conference of posts. The week was filled with competitions between posts; First Response – what to do in a traffic accident where Kelly was the PD on duty who got injured during traffic duty; or solving a case of money fraud. During the Physical Fitness competition, Kelly won the push up competition against a young man also from the Fairfield Post. She completed 36 pushups while wearing a 35 lb weighted vest. At the closing ceremony, the former director of the Secret Service presented a medal to her. “It is an honor to be a member of the Fairfield Explorers’ Post. I am growing with them while we learn all about public safety. I love it, “ Kelly exclaimed.

By | September 9th, 2014|News|0 Comments

Back to School Excitement

Back to School Excitement A school year will begin on August 28th with all of the excitement that comes with new beginnings. This year, Saint Catherine Academy welcomes students and staff with some new faces. Brian Farrell joined the staff in July as the new Director of Education, a position that includes the responsibilities of building principal. His professional experience includes positions as School Psychologist and Director of Special Services of the Redding school district. Also new to Saint Catherine Academy is Michelle Herzog Ballard who will be a classroom teacher and brings over 10 years of teaching experience with students with a variety of disabilities. Our newest addition is Frances Guitierrez who will assist Ms. Ballard in her classroom. In addition to new staff for the Academy, Michelle O’Mara has moved into her room and has begun her role as Director of Pastoral Care and Outreach as part of the expansion of services offered through the Saint Catherine Center for Special Needs. Sr. Marilyn Muldoon, formerly Principal at Saint Catherine Academy has taken on the role of Director of Inclusive Support working with all of the schools of the Diocese to assist teachers and principals in meeting the learning needs of children who are enrolled. This is an exciting year for Saint Catherine Academy and the Center as we expand our services and strive to deliver our mission. It is with great joy and hope that we begin again.

By | August 21st, 2014|News|0 Comments

Extended School Year/Summer Program in Full Swing

Three weeks into the summer program, the summer group of students and recent graduates enjoyed a day at Beardsley Zoo. Before they left, Mrs. Burland challenged Jonathan, Kelly and James to come back to Saint Catherine Academy ready to answer two questions – “What animal and its habitat did you see?” and “Did you see any animal that used camouflage to survive?” And off they went. Wolves, peacocks, deer, different birds, antelope (not cantaloupe!) and prairie dogs to name a few were the exhibits that they visited. Some of the students got the chance to see what it would be like to be a prairie dog coming up from burrowing in a tunnel. All the students and graduates posed in front of the “How tall are you?” and got to see just how big a tiger really is. There was time for a snack before the journey continued winding through the exhibits. Upon return, Jonathan reported on the habitat of the turtle while James learned that owls are night animals that live in the woods. Kelly shared her information about antelopes. It was a great day at the zoo!

By | July 10th, 2014|News|0 Comments