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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.

Archbishop's Desk

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    In this new year, the 2015th year of Our Lord, may our archdiocesan family of faith and each of...

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    Deacons Elkin Mauricio Galvis Hurtado, Ricardo Emilio Borja Alcaraz and Ramon Israel Garcia ...

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Girls-in-BarnIn this still from the new, locally made movie "St. Bernadette of Lourdes," Connecticut children portraying village children of Lourdes, France, ask Francois Soubirous if they can go to a grotto where the Blessed Mother has appeared to his daughter Bernadette. (Photo courtesy of Jim Morlino, Navis Pictures)

In 1858, 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous was wading across a brook near a cave in Lourdes, France, when she was visited by an apparition of Our Blessed Mother. Many of us know the story through the 1943 movie "Song of Bernadette," which relates the widespread skepticism and eventual acceptance of the miraculous events. Bernadette (1844-1879) was canonized a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1933.

Now, a new, 75-minute movie is available, filmed locally in 2009 and featuring only children – 166 of them. "St. Bernadette of Lourdes" was produced by Navis Pictures and was shot at several locations within and near the Hartford Archdiocese.

"The movie industry exerts a very strong influence on our culture, and I don’t see many Catholics producing great films," said Jim Morlino of Danbury, creator of Navis Pictures and the man who wrote, directed, produced and narrated the movie.

"I think it’s a Catholic duty to understand what beauty is and who the author of beauty is," Mr. Morlino said. "Most of the world’s greatest art, the faith can’t be separated from it. That’s what I was hoping for. If you can’t get to that stage, at least get the children mindful of what is good art and what is not good art," he said.

The movie stars Mr. Morlino’s daughter, Genevieve Morlino, as Bernadette. His two other daughters, Annette and Cecelia, portray nuns. Our Lady is played by Stephanie Lamore of Farmington.

It opens with a battle scene between Charlemagne and Mirat in about 778, in what was to become Lourdes. Local leader Mirat and his forces are nearing starvation, but he vows never to surrender to a mortal man. Roracius, Bishop of Le Puy, confronts him and asks if he would surrender to an immortal lady – Mary, Queen of Heaven.

Released from his vow, Mirat surrenders and is converted, taking the name Lorus as his baptismal name. From that name, legend holds, comes the name Lourdes.

In this way, Mr. Morlino said, Our Lady had influenced the location for more than 1,000 years before Bernadette Soubirous was born.

Mirat is portrayed by Joseph Henares, then 16, of Avon, who also played the part of Jacomet, the town official who tried to discredit Bernadette.

"It was very fulfilling," he said. "[Mirat] was a major role in the movie, even though he was an antagonist. He lived when Europe was beginning to turn away from Christ. He represents those forces, while Bernadette represents innocence."

He said he did not find it difficult to portray the bad guy. "I just had to have a very supercilious attitude and basically act superior," he said, adding that his family has an acting background. He said that his sister, Marian, who portrays Jeanne Abadie, Bernadette’s friend, wants to pursue a professional acting career. His younger brother, John Paul Henares, portrays a priest, Father Pene.

Jean Henares, their mother, said her children and Mr. Morlino’s children belong to the same home-schooling association in Cheshire and have been involved in stage productions and small films he has produced over the years.

She said her favorite of the many locations for the Bernadette film was the Lourdes in Litchfield Shrine. "Our whole family goes there every year in October and May. We say the rosary and go on pilgrimage there," she said.

Montfort Father William Considine, director of Lourdes in Litchfield, said the brook on the property was used as the brook Bernadette waded into when she experienced her first apparition. Exterior shots of the priests’ residence, Montfort House, and its courtyard were also used, he said.

"I guess the thing that struck me was this sort of wonderful mix of professionalism and these wonderful young actors," Father Considine said. "The main actors had to shoot and re-shoot. This wasn’t quite right, change the light. I was very impressed."

He said it would be a great film for a religious education class to show, but even adults would appreciate it, he added. "The beauty and the holiness of Bernadette’s life come through in the children’s acting, every bit as much as it would with adults. We were enchanted," he said.

Brian Murphy of Avon was 17 when he portrayed Francois Soubirous, Bernadette’s father. He said, "When Mr. Morlino first asked me to do it, I had no idea how professional it would turn out. I thought it would be some kind of small school project or something. I was just amazed at how very professional he was with camera and lighting."

His brother Michael, then 11, has a brief, comic appearance as a photographer who uses too much magnesium when photographing Bernadette. He said he was impressed with Mr. Morlino’s work ethic. "People would take a break and he’d always be working, setting up the next scene," he said.

Kathryn Mihaliak, who was 15 when she portrayed the mean Sister Damian, said she worked with Mr. Morlino in two previous short films. "He spent a lot of time with me, one on one, trying to teach me. He had a very clear vision of how the scene was going to look," she said.

Cecelia Joliat, 12 years old when she portrayed Madame Millet, said she knew the story of Bernadette but not every detail. "I liked how he put the story together. I thought it was really well done," she said.

Dee-dee Mihaliak is the mother of four of the actors and also runs a home school in Avon where several scenes were shot. "It’s a great way for the children to see how movies are actually constructed, so they can make better decisions about what they think is truth and fiction when they go to see a movie," she said.

Mr. Morlino said the movie was shot over a four-month period in Connecticut and upstate New York. The grotto scenes were shot at a cave formation in Ridgefield. Cobblestoned courtyard village scenes were shot at the Convent of St. Birgitta in Darien. St. Mary Catholic Church in Norwalk was also used, as well as several private residences.

"It is a work of the soul, because God is the ultimate creator, and we sort of image him in a way when we create something," Mr. Morlino said. "I think it’s a valuable thing, creating something together that is beautiful for the greater glory of God."

"St. Bernadette of Lourdes" is available through the Web site www.navispictures.com and selected Catholic retail outlets. It is being marketed through Ignatius Press and may soon be shown on EWTN, Mr. Morlino said.

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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