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HARTFORD – You may have noticed them at the installation of Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, men wearing black berets and white capes and women attired in black dresses and black capes with black mantillas.
They are knights and ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (EOHSJ), one of the oldest organizations within the Catholic Church. A chivalric order of knighthood that traces back to the first crusade, it exists under the radar of many Catholics, perhaps because it supports no local causes. Its purpose is to defend the Holy Sepulchre, the sacred place in the Holy Land where Jesus was buried and rose.
NEW HAVEN – Archbishop Leonard P. Blair and Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson pause in prayer in the reliquary room of the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven on Monday during the archbishop’s first visit to the museum and Supreme Council Headquarters since becoming archbishop of Hartford in December.
The reliquary room displays the burial vestments of Father Michael J. McGivney, the parish priest at St. Mary's Church in New Haven who founded the Catholic fraternal organization in 1882.
WEST HARTFORD – Children were among more than 100 Catholics who welcomed the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa to the Archdiocese of Hartford with a Mass celebrated Dec. 18 at St. Thomas the Apostle Church.
Members of several Children’s Rosary groups and Knights of Columbus from West Hartford led the opening procession, during which the 75-pound icon was carried into the church. Following the procession, children led those gathered in reciting the rosary before the Mass that was celebrated by Father Peter West, vice president of Human Life International, who is traveling across the United States with the icon.
The Children’s Rosary is a lay prayer movement for children that was started at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in 2011. Currently, there are more than 40 Children’s Rosary groups across the United States and around the world.
This was one of several stops within the archdiocese that the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa made during its journey that began in Russia last summer. The icon, also called the Black Madonna, has traveled more than 40,000 miles and has been venerated by Orthodox Christian and Catholics throughout 27 countries.
The icon is a copy of an original that is believed to have been painted by Saint Luke on cypress wood that was the top of a table used by the Holy Family and was perhaps made by the carpenter Saint Joseph or even Jesus. Several legends about the icon offer theories about the coloring of Mary and the Christ child in the image. Some say the original icon was charred in a church fire, while others believe soot from candles burning near the image over the centuries darkened the paint pigments. Still others believe Mary was painted to reflect her heritage, while others attribute the hues to a painting style used in the era it was created.
“Those present at St. Thomas were moved by this beautiful icon of Our Lady,” said Blythe Kaufman, founder of the Children’s Rosary. “It was a wonderful evening of coming together in prayer with our Blessed Mother.”
For more information about future sites the icon will visit, go to www.fromoceantoocean.org.
Information about starting a Children’s Rosary group is available at www.childrensrosary.blogspot.com.
HARTFORD – Opponents of a bill that would allow physicians to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients have said a spokesman for the bill was wrong when he said it was "not suicide."
House Bill 5326, "An Act Concerning Compassionate Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Patients," was introduced on Feb. 21 in the Public Health Committee. It allows a terminally ill patient to request a physician to prescribe lethal drugs, which would be self-administered, if he/she, in the opinion of medical professionals, has less than six months to live. The Public Health Committee had scheduled a public hearing on the proposed bill for March 5, but then delayed it. It has not yet been rescheduled.
HARTFORD – More than 400 people stood up against abortion in a rally for life at the Cathedral of St. Joseph on Jan. 25, days after the March for Life in Washington.
They had traveled from throughout the Archdiocese of Hartford and beyond in frigid temperatures to attend the Mass, at which Archbishop Leonard P. Blair was the principal celebrant.
The Mass, followed by prayer, speakers and refreshments, was organized by the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants as part of the regularly scheduled monthly rally and vigil activities that take place every third Saturday at St. Peter Church.
This event was the last in an annual week-long series of events to celebrate life on the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
Many of the attendees, including Archbishop Blair, had traveled to Washington to join the thousands from around the country at the annual March for Life.
In his homily, Archbishop Blair focused on the feast of the conversion of Saint Paul, welcoming all who had come out to stand against abortion. He told them that as a pastor in the Archdiocese of Detroit and as bishop of Toledo, he had had a long association with and had supported the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants.
He said, “I want to give you every encouragement and support.”
On what he called a “powerful feast day,” Archbishop Blair said, “We should never sell short the grace of God.” He went on, “Who would ever have imagined that Saul, persecutor of Christians, would become the evangelizer of the whole world? … We can hope, too, that God will, in fact, raise up giants of faith and action and that a whole society can be changed as a result. God’s grace turned Saul, the implacable persecutor of Christians, into the apostle of the gospel of life.”
Bill Serkosky, who serves as treasurer of the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, and who had organized the after-Mass activities, said that he was very pleased that the archbishop celebrated the Mass, adding that he was especially encouraged to hear of the archbishop’s support for the “Helpers.”
As in past years, the event was scheduled to include a prayerful march to the state capitol, but the bitter cold moved organizers to cancel it. Instead, a large number remained in the cathedral for the recitation of the rosary and the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy on behalf of the cause for life.
Participants then visited the lower level of the cathedral to hear speakers on behalf of pro-life issues. Principal among them was Leticia Velasquez, who described her commitment to the defense of Down syndrome-afflicted babies as a personal journey. She related her own experience and read excerpts from her book, A Special Mother Is Born.
Jamie Pohlman and her children Ryan, Eva, Maggie and Jacob drove to the event from Gales Ferry with signs they had made in advance. Mrs. Pohlman said that they went to Hartford because they were unable to go to Washington.
Walter and Louise Cody, members of St. Jerome Parish in New Britain, also held signs. They said they attend the event in Hartford every year to pray and march with the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants.
“Prayer as a group is very powerful, praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament as a group at the same time.” Mr. Cody said.
Edward (Jed) Conran told The Transcript that he’d gone to Washington for a number of years, but lately has participated in the Hartford activities instead.
“[F]ortunately, have some great services … the Mass here, the speakers, prayer groups and the enthusiasm of sharing with people in our surroundings. So I’m very delighted we’ve had the opportunity to come here,” he said.