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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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mens-conf-2_0282SOUTHINGTON – Before the start of the fourth annual Connecticut Catholic Men’s Conference, held Oct. 22 at St. Dominic Church, Ron Gerlip of Westfield, Mass., said he hoped it would enlighten him and strengthen him in his faith. Eight hours later, he said, "It’s like what all the speakers said: If you walk away with something, your day has been fulfilled. I walk away today with a deeper faith, a chance to go to reconciliation, an attempt to be a better person for Christ."

 

mens-conf_0271Expectations and reactions of other men were similar. Joe Murphy of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Gales Ferry said he went "for the experience of fellowship and to enrich my life." Charlie Nostrand of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown said, "I want to get recharged going into the winter months. ... It’s nice to get a booster shot of spirituality and faith." And conference veteran Richard Feil of St. John Parish in Old Saybrook said, "There are always so many booths of information where you can pick up so much other information besides the talks. You don’t doze off in here. It’s spectacular."

Joe Premus, conference director, told the more than 400 men that a Pew Research poll found, "When a child comes to faith in Jesus, there’s a 20 percent chance that his or her family will follow. When a woman comes to faith in Jesus, there’s a 28 percent chance that her family will follow. But when a man comes to faith in Jesus, there’s a 93 percent chance that his family will follow."

Father John Gatzak, director of the Archdiocese of Hartford’s Office of Radio and Television and emcee of the conference, said the theme of this year’s gathering was "Know Him. Love Him. Serve Him." He said he was recently stopped for speeding, and the officer told him, "All right, Father, I’m giving you a warning: Slow down."

Father Gatzak advised the men, "Let’s slow down and come to know him, love him and serve him."

Bishop Paul Chomnycky of the Ukrainian Diocese of Stamford used digital clocks and analog clocks as a metaphor for a disconnected society. Digital clocks show an isolated snapshot in time, but "On an analog clock face, you can see where time has been a minute ago and where it is going." He said we are all connected with each other and with God. "What really matters when our time is up are not the things we have acquired but the love that we have given away," he said.

Advertising entrepreneur-turned Catholic evangelist Tom Peterson picked up on this theme. For years, in the stressful but lucrative advertising world, he said, he suffered from the disease of "affluenza" – the desire to accumulate more and more wealth. He came to realize he had to "downsize and simplify" his life. He founded Catholics Come Home Inc. and VirtueMedia Inc., nonprofit apostolates dedicated to promoting Catholic evangelization and the sanctity of life. He announced that Catholic ads he created will air later this year on major television networks coast to coast and in prime time.

Doug Barry, who wowed the men at last year’s conference, returned to remind men that they are made to deal with conflict and that they should channel those energies in healthy ways rather than squelch them. Mr. Barry is founder and director of the Catholic apostolate RADIX and a personality on EWTN.

"The fighting spirit of a man is a gift from God," he said. "It is essential to the safety of the family." It’s no accident that soldiers in battle run toward the sound of gunfire – not to cause harm but to heal it, he said.

Randy Raus roused the men to become active in youth ministry. Mr. Raus is president of Life Teen, a parish-based ministry for young Catholics. He astonished the men with the statistic that if young Catholics are not involved in some kind of youth ministry, there is only a 3 percent chance that they will continue in the faith.

"Boys want to hear they have what it takes," he said. "I make it a point to tell my boys every day that I love them."

"If this conference helped one person, it was worth it," said Father Gatzak. "What I ask you to do now is to look deep into your hearts and see if you – if you – can be that one person."

Bruce Wimperis and his son Tony, both of Bridgewater, are members of St. Francis Xavier Parish in New Milford. "This is our first time," Bruce said. "We felt we would hear some great speakers and meet some great guys, and it’s been great."

Tony added, "I just came to hear some good wisdom from Doug Barry and some of the other speakers about how to be a man in the community, to live as a man of God and to take a leadership role."

Jeannot Michaud, a member of the Knights of Columbus of Council 12 in New Britain, has attended all four conferences and was happy this one was held in his home parish. "I think it’s an eye-opening experience, listening to all these speakers," he said. "It’s a refreshing, uplifting inspiration."

Father John L. Lavorgna, pastor of Our Lady of Pompeii Parish in East Haven, accompanied 10 men from his parish. He said, "It’s a great source of strength, a great sense of hope, but also a lot of joy. What you really sense at the outset is that everyone’s real happy to be here, excited to be here, encouraged and affirmed. And we let God work, and he’ll never let us down."

Father Ivan Kaszczak of the Unkrainian Diocese in Stamford, accompanied Bishop Chomnycky. He said, "I like the part about being a man, about taking responsibility, because I do find as a rule that Catholics are sort of timid and even apologetic when we express the faith."

Tommy Valuckas is a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Watertown. Of his first conference two years ago, he said, "It gave me a lot to think about on how I can become a better Catholic, how I can translate that to other people to have them become better Catholics."

Doug Barry’s talk made a big impression on Mr. Valuckas this year, he said. "There’s a lot of truth to what he says, and we need to become more the warriors for God. I think we sit back too much and let things happen when we really can cause a lot of change, we can effect a lot of change."

It’s great to be re-energized, he said, but men need to pass it along to other people and say, "Lookit, you’re Catholic. This is what you should be doing. A lot needs to be done, but we can do it."

A date and location for next year’s conference have not yet been decided, Mr. Premus said.

Events Calendar

January 2015
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
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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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