Bridgeport seminarians retreat

Bishop Caggiano joins Bridgeport seminarians Ricardo Comin and Deacon Chris Ford on a mulching project with Franciscan Brother Leo Maneri during the seminarians’ retreat.

MERIDEN, CT (06-30-2018) – The Franciscan Community of Sisters and Brothers welcomed thirty seminarians of the Diocese of Bridgeport for a work retreat June 24-29 in coordination with Father John Connaughton, Director of Vocations for the diocese. The days included daily Mass, prayer and conferences, work experiences on the land, and evening dinner with the Franciscan Community. Small teams of seminarians were assigned work projects for the week – mulching flower beds on the Walter Acres, refurbishing stone pathways, transplanting peonies, clearing logs from the woods, assisting with children’s camp activities and helping with the adventure leadership camp for youth. One day the men added their muscle to help load bales of hay from the field to the barns.

The Sisters and Brothers enjoyed the lively presence of the men and the opportunity to work in collaboration with them and their mentors. The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport, joined the group on the last day and offered Mass for the men and the Franciscan Community.

A few comments about the week:

“I was really pleased at the way the week with the Sisters went. Bishop Caggiano often speaks about how important renewal in the priesthood is to renewal in the Church.  Fostering friendships and fraternal charity among the men who are in formation for priesthood for the Diocese is an essential part of building up the local presbyterate.  As I watched the way the guys worked and prayed and played together over the course of the week I was filled with great hope for the future of the Diocese of Bridgeport. I’m grateful to the FSEs for all they did to make it possible.” – Fr. John Connaughton, Director of Vocations

Sister Clare Hunter and Seminarians

Sister Clare Hunter and Seminarians

“The time we spent praying and working with the entire community was truly grace filled. The way that God worked through the community to help my brother seminarians and me build our fraternal bond was so evident each and every day we were together. Through everything, I was truly humbled and inspired by the joyful witness of Brother Leo and all the Sisters. It was a week I will not soon forget.” – Deacon Chris Ford, 4th Theology (St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie)

Brother Leo and mulchers

Brother Leo and mulchers

“I was placed in the mulching group. Well, let’s just say that I had never regarded mulching as something people sign up when desiring to do mission work. Even though initially being in this group may not have lived up to my expectations for this mission trip, I ended the week with a sense of gratitude for having the opportunity to be a mulcher, as my brother seminarians and I ended up calling ourselves. I have family and friends who are in the landscaping business and I myself have also worked in the landscape business. It is not easy. This experience allowed me to remember and grow in appreciation of all the people who do manual labor in order to provide for their families. At the end of the day, this mission trip was a great experience because I was able to pray and work with my brother seminarians. And even if the work did not seem very mission trip like at first, the work needed to be done. This mission trip allowed me to redefine what mission work is all about.” – Guillermo Jimenez, 1st Theology (Pontifical North American College, Rome)

Seminarians load bales of hay.

Seminarians load bales of hay with Mickey Wells of the Franciscan staff.

“Through our time with the Sisters, I learned that the work we do on the land is not separate from the work we do in the classroom or in the chapel. The smallest job we do makes the gift of creation more beautiful and gives great glory to God.” – Andrew LaFleur, 4th College (St. John Fisher Seminary, Stamford CT)