Archbishop Leonard P. Blair prepares to bless the recently reopened St. Gerard’s Center for Life pregnancy resource at 59 Eaton St., Hartford, on Oct. 31.
At center of the photo is Christa Chodkowski, the center’s new executive director.
Father John L. Lavorna, the archbishop’s secretary and assistant chancellor, looks on, along with about 35 volunteers, board members and guests. (Photo by Jack Sheedy)
Father Emmanuel Ihemedu, pastor of St. Justin Parish in Hartford, speaks at the Interreligious Harvest Festival held at the parish on Oct. 19.
The event, to which local Catholic and non-Catholic congregations were invited, included guest choirs, musical performances, liturgical dancers and praise worship. Fresh fruits, vegetables, chrysanthemums, baked goods and take-out Caribbean food were sold. (Photo by Lenora Sumsky)
Maggie Cody, a fifth grader at St. Mary School in Milford,generates some energy with pedal power recently as part of her school’s annual all-day STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program.
CROMWELL – “Pius XII was the greatest hero of World War II. He saved more Jews than Roosevelt, Churchill and all the rest of them combined.”
That is the assessment of Gary Krupp, founder and president of Pave the Way Foundation, an organization dedicated to inter-religious dialogue, harmony and tolerance. Mr. Krupp will present the foundation’s groundbreaking research at the 2014 Pope John Paul II Bioethics Lecture on Nov. 13 at Holy Apostles College and Seminary.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In official reports of the closed-door talks at the Synod of Bishops on the family, an emerging theme has been the call for a new kind of language more appropriate for pastoral care today.
"Language appeared many, many times," Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, the briefer for English-speaking journalists, told reporters Oct.7, the assembly's second working day. "There's a great desire that our language has to change in order to meet the very complex situations" the church faces.
HARTFORD – For Charles and Deanna Comparetto, it’s never too late to start over. He is 92, she is 76, and they’ve been married just one year.
They are one of 210 couples who attended the annual Wedding Anniversary Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph on Oct. 19. Another 53 couples had registered but were unable to attend. All of them received a marriage anniversary certificate signed by Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, principal celebrant.
TOTOWA, N.J. (CNS) -- Father Benedict J. Groeschel, who was a founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, a leading pro-life figure and popular author, retreat master and preacher, died Oct. 3 at St. Joseph's Home for the elderly in Totowa after a long illness. He was 81.
"We are deeply saddened by the death of Father Benedict. He was an example to us all," said Father John Paul Ouellette, who is also a Franciscan friar and the order's community servant.
"His fidelity and service to the church and commitment to our Franciscan way of life will have a tremendous impact for generations to come," he said in a statement released Oct. 4 by the order's community office in the Bronx, New York.
A wake was planned for Oct. 8 at St. Adalbert's Church in the Bronx, with a wake to be held Oct. 9, followed by an evening vigil, at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, New Jersey.
BLOOMFIELD – Small Christian Communities were first formed in the Archdiocese of Hartford 30 years ago under the leadership of the late Archbishop John Whealon. The program has flourished to the point that a combined dinner and anniversary celebration was held to celebrate their achievements.
An estimated 200 people turned out at the Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary on Oct. 8 for that celebration. After a dinner, a program brought attendees up to date on a newer initiative that’s beginning to take root in a few Connecticut churches. It’s called Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP), or “chirp.”
DENVER (CNS) -- The federal government is pursuing its case against the Little Sisters of the Poor in an attempt to get the religious order to comply with newly issued interim rules regarding the Department of Health and Human Services' contraception mandate under the Affordable Care Act.
The government filed a brief Sept. 8 in the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, where the Little Sisters of the Poor run a home for the aged. Other plaintiffs in the case include Southern Nazarene University in Denver and Reaching Souls International, an Oklahoma nonprofit.
HARTFORD – Few people have the opportunity to attend a Mass celebrated by the pope. Far fewer have the privilege to do so in his private chapel at the Vatican.
Mario Enzler is one of those people. He spoke in Hartford on April 29 about how his faith grew during the nearly four years he protected Pope John Paul II as a member of the famed Swiss Guard.
An only child, he is the son of an Italian mother and Swiss father. He served in the Swiss Army before applying to join the Swiss Guard because, as he joked, he thought the uniforms looked sharp and would help him meet girls.
His talk was entitled "I Served a Saint," and he spoke of how John Paul II "helped me to grow as a man in my faith" and in his appreciation of the priesthood. "The love of Christ was the dominant force in the life of our Holy Father."
In a talk that mixed humor with a serious message, he explained that "the popes have an army and that army is from Switzerland. The Swiss didn’t do just banking and chocolates. They were mercenaries" and highly valued for their military skills.
Members of the guard may serve a maximum of 10 years. They can marry after two years of service, but only if there is an available apartment for the couple within Vatican City.
The typical work week is 100 hours and many days involve split shifts, he said.
"When you are a Swiss Guard, you never go home. You become a citizen of Vatican City" and live there full time, Mr. Enzler added. The pay is modest at best.
"To be a Swiss Guard, it’s a mission. You get a call, you leave your family," he said. "Spending time in the Apostolic Palace in the presence of the Lord forms the soul of a Swiss Guard."
Depending upon their assignment, members of the guard may or may not be in ceremonial uniform. The pope always has two Swiss Guards alongside whenever he travels. The entire force numbers 100.
Mr. Enzler told a number of personal stories, some of them drawing laughs, about his experiences at the Vatican. But most were tales of faith.
"The first time I met John Paul II, I was doing my night shift" at a desk in the hallway outside the papal apartment from midnight to 6 a.m., he said.
At 3 a.m. he noticed that a light was on and went to investigate. It was in the tiny chapel next to the Pope’s bedroom and there before him was the Holy Father, kneeling in deep, intimate prayer, with one hand on the tabernacle and his forehead pressed against the back of that hand.
Mr. Enzler quietly backed away so as not to disturb him. A couple of hours later, a cardinal came down the hall and invited him to attend the 5:30 Mass that would be celebrated by the pope. He was one of only six people present.
The Mass was truly special, but what impressed him the most was how the Holy Father had spent two and a half hours in prayer to properly prepare himself for the Mass.
"I saw the presence of the Lord in that small chapel," he said.
Later that day, the pope approached him in the hallway and invited Mr. Enzler to join him the next time he was in intimate prayer. He had somehow sensed the guard’s presence outside the chapel.
On Good Friday, the Swiss Guard selects a few people from among the crowd at St. Peter’s Basilica to have their confessions heard by the pope. On one occasion, the last person in line was a pregnant woman who went into labor and had to be rushed to the hospital.
The sergeant of the guard ordered Mr. Enzler to take her place. He was a little uneasy about this because the penitents were supposed to come from the congregation, but he followed orders.
As he started his confession, the Holy Father spoke up from the other side of the darkened confessional and said, "I know this voice." He smiles about it now.
He estimated that during his career, he saw as many as 750 world leaders pass before him in the waiting room outside of the pope’s office, all waiting for a personal audience with the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. They included heads of state, the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa.
That list may sound impressive, but "I learned in the Vatican that the biggest leader in the world is Jesus Christ."
Mr. Enzler now serves as headmaster of the New England Classical Academy, a school in the Catholic tradition, in Claremont, N.H. His talk was held at the Polish National Home and sponsored by the Polish Cultural Club of Greater Hartford.