Educ Conf adj webArchbishop Leonard P. Blair and Father John L. Lavorgna, secretary to the archbishop and assistant chancellor, admire a T-shirt given to the archbishop. (Photo by Jack Sheedy)

BRISTOL – Close to 1,000 Catholic school teachers and administrators heard a variety of speakers during the two-day 2015 Catholic Educators Faith Conference March 23 and 24 at St. Paul Catholic High School. The event is hosted each year by the Office of Catholic Schools.

20150311cnsto0029 webPallbearers carry Cardinal Edward M. Egan's casket to the crypt at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City following the cardinal's funeral Mass March 10. (CNS photo/courtesy Chang W. Lee)

NEW YORK (CNS) -- At his funeral Mass March 10 in New York's splendid St. Patrick's Cathedral, Cardinal Edward M. Egan was remembered as a churchman whose faith in Jesus Christ outshone even his considerable temporal qualities.

crs lauralton webAntoinette (Toni) Iadarola, president of Lauralton Hall in Milford, holds an award presented to the school by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) on Feb. 26. From left are Soha Menassa, who spoke to students about the work of CRS in Lebanon; Peggy Jean Craig from CRS; Dr. Iadarola; and Maria Isabel Barboza, CRS relationship manager in the northeast and mid-Atlantic region. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky)

MILFORD – Calling the refugee crisis in Syria the worst humanitarian disaster since World War II, Soha Menassa, project manager for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Lebanon, explained how CRS is responding to the mounting needs of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

20150305cnsbr8397 pope webPope Francis greets elderly woman as he arrives for weekly audience in 2014 in St. Peter's Square at Vatican. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The most serious ailment the aged face and the greatest injustice they suffer is abandonment, Pope Francis said.

facs stpats webCindi Bigelow, president and CEO of Fairfield-based Bigelow Tea, speaks at the annual Archbishop’s St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast in Hartford March 17. (Photo by Jack Sheedy)

HARTFORD – More than 900 people attended the annual Archbishop’s St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast at the Connecticut Convention Center March 17, making Catholic education possible for many students who otherwise could not afford it, according to organizers of the event.

Hospice MP web

NEW HAVEN – Legislative proposals to allow doctors to prescribe fatal prescriptions to people diagnosed with a terminal illness are not seen as a good option by Connecticut adults, according to a new Knights of Columbus-Marist poll.

20150218cm01806 webPope Francis gives ashes during Ash Wednesday Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome Feb. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

ROME (CNS) -- Lent is a journey of purification and penance, a movement that should bring one tearfully back to the loving arms of the merciful Father, Pope Francis said at an Ash Wednesday Mass that began with a procession on Rome's Aventine Hill.

stpats mass 4317 web

Archbishop Leonard P. Blair poses with key figures from the Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday at St. Mary Church in New Haven, where the archbishop celebrated Mass before marching in the parade.

20150217cm01766 webCoptic Christian women attend a Feb. 17 service in Cairo for the Egyptians said to have been beheaded in Libya. (CNS photo/Mohamed Abd El Ghany, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis called for prayers for the Egyptian Christians beheaded by Islamic State militants in Libya and asked that God recognize these men killed for their faith.

Archbishop's Desk

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  • Blessings and challenges

    A letter from Archbishop Leonard P. Blair was inserted into church bulletins available at Masses...

    Read More...

Milestones

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  • Infusion center for women opens in Hartford

    A new, women-only infusion center has been  officially opened at the Comprehensive Women’s Health...

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Youth

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  • St. Mary boys basketball team wins tourney

    The victorious boys varsity basketball team of St. Mary School in Milford poses after beating...

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HARWINTON – Few of us ever think of ourselves as privileged. Until we’re not.

The last light to go out during storm Alfred was the LED digital clock on our DVD player. For half a second after the rest of the house was plunged into darkness on the evening of Oct. 29, the DVD clock glowed 8:32.

My wife Jean and I hunkered down for the night with extra blankets, satisfied that we were as ready as we could be. We had done the laundry; charged the cell phones; and filled jugs with water and cars with gas. We had candles, canned food, flashlights.

Darkness? Bring it on.

But temperatures plunged. Wind whistled. Wet snow bent the lilac and magnolia and cracked the maple.

In the morning, as I gazed at more than 20 inches of snow, I said, "We can’t stay here."

"But there’s no power anywhere."

I bit my lip. "There are ... shelters."

Neither of us liked the idea. Shelters were for ... others. Besides, when I dialed 211 to find the nearest one, I was on hold so long that I had to hang up to preserve my cell phone charge. We turned on the radio and learned that a makeshift shelter was being set up near our home.

A cheerful young woman answered the door, wearing an EMT jumpsuit with a holster for her two-way radio.

"Oh, hi," I said, "our power is out and our house is freezing. Can we hang here for a while?"

"Absolutely!" the woman said. She showed us into a large, open room that was warm and bright, powered by a gasoline generator outside that sounded like an 18-wheeler downshifting for a hill.

A family of four sat at a table, playing Trivial Pursuit. "How many minor league home runs did Babe Ruth hit?" the questioner asked.

An elderly foursome swapped sections of the Sunday paper bearing headlines about the storm’s devastation. I helped a volunteer unfold portable cots. By nightfall, 19 cots had been arranged in rows, as more people, young and old, showed up. Many of us had brought food to contribute to a supper, prepared by the EMT woman and other volunteers.

It all sounds homey and comfy. It is not. There is nothing homey or comfy about being away from your comfortable home, even if home is a small ranch house.

The cots were made of polyester fabric supported by tubular steel and aluminum. They don’t exactly have "sleep numbers" for comfort. The metal tubes bruise your ankles, butt and neck.

At one point, I may have been the only person awake, listening to 18 others snoring in their unique styles. One man sounded like a woodpecker on a hollow apple tree. Another sounded like someone dragging a chair across a cement floor. One woman’s explosive exhalations were like a steam release valve.

How we could sleep at all is a mystery. Elderly hard-of-hearing people stayed up late talking in what they thought were whispers; people two towns away may now know intimate details about their surgeries. The EMT’s squawk box kept rasping about trees down on nearby roads. And the generator kept up a constant growl.

Nobody would possibly want to live in a shelter night after night.

And yet: In Connecticut, on Jan. 27, 2011, there were 3,770 people staying in shelters, according to the annual Point in Time snapshot of homelessness, reported by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness (CCEH). About 42 percent of these people – which included 496 adults with families and 800 children in families – had never before been homeless. For the year 2010, more than 11,000 people, including more than 1,500 children, spent some time in shelters in Connecticut.

Rent problems, family disputes and domestic violence accounted for about 88 percent of homelessness, but they were not the only causes. They certainly were not the reasons that my wife and I and 17 other people slept on those backbreaking cots on the night before Halloween.

But, as inconvenient as shelters are, they sure beat freezing on the streets or in unheated homes. That’s why a number of shelters in Connecticut receive assistance from the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, including the Immaculate Conception Shelter, Mercy Housing & Shelter and South Park Inn-Homeless Shelter, all in Hartford; Samaritan Shelter in Manchester; St. Vincent de Paul Homeless Shelter in Bristol and Waterbury; Winchester Emergency Shelter in Winsted; Beth-El Shelter in Milford; Columbus House in New Haven; Shelter NOW in Meriden; and others.

They literally save lives.

But one night was enough for us. A nearby motel had power restored the next night, and there we at least had the added comforts of a hot shower and privacy (but, frankly, not much else). The night after that, a family member got power back and invited us in.

Finally, just 90 hours after our DVD clock faded out, our lights came on. The furnace hummed to life. The refrigerator purred. The dishwasher and washing machine caught up on their assignments.

Once again, we were among the privileged. Only this time, we knew it.

Oh, and Babe Ruth hit only one minor league home run. Amazing, the stuff you learn in a shelter.

 Jack Sheedy is the News Editor of The Catholic Transcript and lives in Litchfield County.

Events Calendar

March 2015
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05:30 PM
Grand Oak Villa, Oakville, CT, Watertown, United States
The St. Vincent DePaul Mission of Waterbury will commemorate its 37-year record of continual service to the poor of Greater Waterbury with a banquet beginning at 5:30 p.m. March 26 at the Grand Oak [...]
05:30 PM
St. Peter/St. Francis School, Torrington, Torrington, United States
St. Peter/St. Francis School will have open houses in March, April and May. The times and dates are 5:30-7 p.m. March 26, 9-11 a.m. April 22 and 5:30-7 p.m. May 12. Parents may visit [...]
07:00 PM
St. Rita School, Hamden CT, Hamden, United States
St. Rita School in Hamden will present the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” at 7 p.m. March 26, 7 p.m. March 27; and at 1 and 7 p.m. March 28.. Tickets cost [...]
12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War’s end, the Knights of Columbus Museum is sponsoring an historical exhibition and lecture series. The exhibit, [...]
Date :  March 26, 2015
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07:00 PM
St. Rita School, Hamden CT, Hamden, United States
St. Rita School in Hamden will present the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” at 7 p.m. March 26, 7 p.m. March 27; and at 1 and 7 p.m. March 28.. Tickets cost [...]
12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War’s end, the Knights of Columbus Museum is sponsoring an historical exhibition and lecture series. The exhibit, [...]
Date :  March 27, 2015
28
01:00 PM
St. Rita School, Hamden CT, Hamden, United States
St. Rita School in Hamden will present the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” at 7 p.m. March 26, 7 p.m. March 27; and at 1 and 7 p.m. March 28.. Tickets cost [...]
05:00 PM
Sacred Heart Academy, Hamden, CT, Hamden, United States
Sacred Heart Academy is sponsoring a $10,000 cash raffle as part of its annual signature fund-raising event, a live and silent auction, taking place at 5 p.m. March 28. Tickets for the cash [...]
07:00 PM
St. Rita School, Hamden CT, Hamden, United States
St. Rita School in Hamden will present the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” at 7 p.m. March 26, 7 p.m. March 27; and at 1 and 7 p.m. March 28.. Tickets cost [...]
12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War’s end, the Knights of Columbus Museum is sponsoring an historical exhibition and lecture series. The exhibit, [...]
Date :  March 28, 2015
29
07:00 PM
St. Ann Church, Bristol CT, Bristol, United States
A tenebrae service, or service of lights, will take place at 7 p.m. on Palm Sunday, March 29, at St. Ann Church, 215 West St., Bristol. This service will include hymns, music by a contemporary [...]
12:00 AM
12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War’s end, the Knights of Columbus Museum is sponsoring an historical exhibition and lecture series. The exhibit, [...]
Date :  March 29, 2015
30
12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War’s end, the Knights of Columbus Museum is sponsoring an historical exhibition and lecture series. The exhibit, [...]
Date :  March 30, 2015
31
09:00 AM
St. Mary School, Milford, Milford, United States
St. Mary School in Milford will have an open house from 9-11 a.m. March 31. Teachers, staff and parents of current and former students will be on hand and students will provide tours. [...]
11:00 AM
Cathedral of St. Joseph, Hartford , Hartford, United States
During the Chrism Mass on March 31 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford, Archbishop Leonard P. Blair will bless the oils to be used in the upcoming year during the sacraments of [...]
12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War’s end, the Knights of Columbus Museum is sponsoring an historical exhibition and lecture series. The exhibit, [...]
Date :  March 31, 2015

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