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Students represent the Archdiocese of Hartford at the March for Life today on the National Mall.

8202773256 5d16c585fa mA statue of Blessed Junipero Serra at the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala in San Diego, Calif. (Photo by Bob Mullen/The Catholic Photographer)

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM MANILA, Philippines (CNS) – Pope Francis said his September trip to the U.S. will take him to Philadelphia, New York and Washington – where he intends to canonize Blessed Junipero Serra – but probably no other stops.

sledesky 053 webA man photographs Father Stephen Sledesky, pastor of St. Bridget Parish in Manchester, and friends during reception in priest's honor Jan. 11.

MANCHESTER – Hundreds gathered at St. Bridget Parish on Jan. 11 to honor Father Stephen Sledesky, who was recognized as this year’s Archdiocesan Distinguished Elementary School Pastor. The award is presented annually to a pastor who exemplifies leadership, dedication and commitment to Catholic school education.

20150118cnsbr7984 webAn aerial view shows pilgrims gathering to hear a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis at Rizal Park in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 18. The view shows only a portion of the Mass site. (CNS photo/Philippine Air Force/Handout via Reuters)

MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- Pope Francis told a crowd of an estimated 6 million gathered in a Manila park to protect the family "against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture."

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FARMINGTON – The campaign for the 2015 Archbishop’s Annual Appeal got off to a rousing start with a reception and dinner for past donors at Farmington Gardens Jan. 9. Archbishop Leonard P. Blair spoke on the theme of this year’s appeal, “Living the Joy of the Gospel.”

st fran spirit award winners 2015 webFrom left, Mark and Barbara Lentini, Daniel O'Connell and Christopher M. Dadlez

HARTFORD – Archbishop Emeritus Henry J. Mansell and the late David A. Lentini were recipients of the St. Francis Spirit Award during the annual luncheon meeting of St. Francis Care, parent company of St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, at the Connecticut Convention Center Jan. 7.

soccer web(Photo provided by Knights of Columbus/l'Osservatore Romano)

Wilfrid Macena and other members of a Haitian amputee soccer team present Pope Francis with a soccer jersey on Jan. 12, commemorating the fifth anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson stands to Mr. Macena’s left.

20150112cnsbr7611 webA Swiss Guard keeps watch as Pope Francis speaks during an audience with the Vatican diplomatic corps Jan. 12. (CNS photo/Claudio Peri pool via Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Highlighting some of the most urgent conflicts facing the world, Pope Francis said such strife and injustices were rooted in a culture of rejection that refuses to recognize God, to protect nature and to respect other human beings.

In a wide-ranging speech Jan. 12 to diplomats accredited to the Vatican, the pope urged the world's governments and individuals to work "to end every form of fighting, hatred and violence, and to pursue reconciliation, peace and the defense of the transcendent dignity of the human person."

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Archbishop Leonard P. Blair and Father John P. Gatzak record a session of “Archbishop’s Corner” at the chancery in Hartford for airing radio station WJMJ 88.9 FM. (Photo by Jack Sheedy)

HARTFORD – Bishops, priests and deacons often preach from a pulpit, high above the heads of their listening congregations. It’s part of their job – their ministry – but, for Archbishop Leonard P. Blair at least, it’s not enough.

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ROME (CNS) -- With songs, videos, testimonials and prayers, Catholics of every age and many countries gathered in Rome to remember Pope John Paul II on the eve of his beatification.

"I feel him present here in the Circus Maximus," the pope's former secretary, Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow told the crowd in Rome's ancient racetrack April 30. "I feel him returning tonight."

The vigil began with a two-minute video clip of Pope John Paul talking to young people in 2000, struggling at first to find the words and then bantering easily, to the delight of the crowd.

The video set the evening's tone of remembrance, and it was followed by a torchlight procession to an image of Mary, evoking the late pope's special devotion to the mother of Jesus. The vigil featured a live satellite link-up to five Marian sanctuaries around the world, including the pope's former Archdiocese of Krakow, Poland.

Pope Benedict XVI closed the event with a prayer to Mary and a blessing, telecast live from the papal apartment at the Vatican.

The crowd on a wet evening in the Circus Maximus was small at first but swelled to an estimated 200,000, many of whom planned to pray the entire night in preparation for the beatification Mass in St. Peter's Square the next morning. One of the many homemade banners read in Engish: "Karol, we are here with you."

Brother Tristan Abbot of the Cayman Islands, a member of the Society of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity, was among those who came to remember and pray. "John Paul II is our hero. He taught us what it is to love. ... We want to emulate him. We want to have his courage," he said.

Lady Joy Okechukwu from Abuja, Nigeria, came to Rome with 41 people from her archdiocese. Asked why she considered Pope John Paul II a saint, she said: "His humility, his kind heartedness, his love for the Blessed Virgin Mary. I love her too."

Thousands of candles glimmered in the darkness as a Philippines choir sang "Ave Maria." In an amateur video montage made by Rome students, young people said in simple language what they appreciated about the late pope -- especially his spiritual depth and his ability to reach out to all kinds of people.

The crowd cheered French Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, whose cure from Parkinson's disease was accepted as the miracle that paved the way for Pope John Paul's beatification. The nun beamed as she recounted her unexpected healing.

She said when she was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2001 at the age of 40, she found it difficult to watch Pope John Paul, who suffered from the same disease. "I saw in him the image of my illness. But I admired his strength and courage," she said.

When the pope died, she felt a great emptiness, as if she had lost someone who could sustain and support her. Two months later, her condition had worsened. Then, after prayers to the late pope, she awoke early one morning feeling well rested.

"I felt something had changed in me, and I was healed," she said. The crowd in the Circus Maximus erupted in applause.

Earlier, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Pope John Paul's spokesman, told the crowd that he would sometimes find the pope kneeling in prayer, surrounded by small pieces of paper, which he would read one by one. They were prayer intentions that arrived by the thousands -- relatives of the gravely ill, parents of drug addicts, people looking for answers.

"All the pain of the world came to him. And he nourished his prayer with the needs of the others. I don't think there was room in his prayer life for his own intentions," Navarro-Valls said.

Cardinal Dziwisz, the pope's personal secretary for some 40 years, said he knew he was living and working next to a saint -- even before his election as pope in 1978.

The cardinal said he could remember only two times when Pope John Paul showed anger. One was during a trip to Sicily in 1993, when the pope vehemently denounced the Mafia in language that surprised even his close aides.

"It frightened all of us," Cardinal Dziwisz recalled.

The other time he saw the pope angry, he said, was just before the start of the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003, when the pope publicly warned that military action would never resolve the problems. "He was right," Cardinal Dziwisz added.

The vigil included recital of the luminous mysteries of the rosary, an innovation of Pope John Paul, led by pilgrims at the five sanctuaries connected via video, in Poland, Tanzania, Lebanon, Mexico and Portugal. The five mysteries were dedicated to intentions dear to the late pope: young people, the family, evangelization, hope and peace among peoples, and the church.

Eight churches in the center of Rome were being kept open all night so that people could pray until the opening of St. Peter's Square at 5:30 the next morning for the beatification Mass.

Events Calendar

January 2015
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07:00 PM
Caritas Christi Center, Hamden, Hamden, United States
"Finding the Sacred in Everyday Life," a two-part program, will be presented by Lisa Velazquez, certified [...]
Date :  January 19, 2015
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09:00 AM
Cathedral of St. Joseph, Hartford
Archbishop Leonard P. Blair will celebrate the annual Rally for Life Mass at 9 a.m. Jan. 24 at the [...]
09:00 AM
Doubletree by Hilton, Bristol, Bristol, United States
Magnificat for women will meet for breakfast from 9 a.m. to noon Jan. 24 at the Doubletree by Hilton in Bristol. Registration begins at [...]
Date :  January 24, 2015
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12:00 PM
St. Mary School, Newington, Michigan City, United States
Saint Mary School in Newington will host several open houses next week for families interested in the [...]
Date :  January 25, 2015
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02:00 PM
Spiritual Renewal Center, Norwich, Norwich, United States
A Mass of Healing will be celebrated at 2 p.m. Jan. 26 at the Spiritual Renewal Center in Norwich. It is [...]
05:15 PM
Albertus Magnus College, New Haven, New Haven, United States
Dr. Denys Turner will speak on “A Teacher and Two Students: Albert, Thomas Aquinas and Meister Eckhart” on from 5:15-6:30 p.m. Jan. 26 in the Hubert Campus Center on the New Haven campus [...]
07:00 PM
Caritas Christi Center, Hamden, Hamden, United States
"Finding the Sacred in Everyday Life," a two-part program, will be presented by Lisa Velazquez, certified [...]
12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
The Knights of Columbus Museum’s 10th annual Christmas crèche exhibition, “Buon Natale: Crèches of Italy,” opened Dec. 1 and remains on view until Feb. 1 with [...]
Date :  January 26, 2015
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01:00 PM
St. Mary School, Newington, Michigan City, United States
Saint Mary School in Newington will host several open houses next week for families interested in the [...]
Date :  January 29, 2015
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06:30 PM
My Father's House, Moodus, East Haddam, United States
MOODUS – Healing and a spaghetti supper will be combined at 6:30 p.m. Jan 30 at My Father’s House at [...]
Date :  January 30, 2015
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01:30 PM
Caritas Christi Center, Hamden, United States
Caritas Christi Center's ongoing centering prayer program will continue from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Jan. 31 at the [...]
09:00 AM
My Father's House, Moodus, East Haddam, United States
MOODUS – Matthew Arnold, speaker, author, producer and host of the radio program “Shield of Faith” on Radio Maria, will present a program titled [...]
Date :  January 31, 2015

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