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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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ordinationHARTFORD – Tears of joy flowed among family members and others as the Archdiocese of Hartford welcomed three men to the priesthood and five men to the transitional diaconate during a two-and-a-half-hour ceremony Dec. 1 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph.

It was the first dual ordination of priests and deacons performed in the Archdiocese of Hartford. It is believed to have been the first ceremony of its type in the United States since a new ritual was promulgated last year.

Ordained to the priesthood were Henry Alexander Avendaño Varon, Andrés Mendoza Floyd and Jorge Eliecer Castro Morales, all of whom were born in Colombia.

The new transitional deacons are William Agyemang, Piotr Buczek, John Robert Mariano, Carlos Andrés Piedrahita Echeverri and Michael Alberto Santiago.

The five deacons will continue their seminary studies while providing pastoral care at various parishes across the Archdiocese of Hartford. Once they complete their requirements, they will be ordained to the priesthood in the spring.

"It’s a wonderful day for all of us as we celebrate the ordination of these men," said Archbishop Henry J. Mansell, ordaining prelate. "We are grateful to those who have chosen to serve God’s people, and we gather asking for the blessing of the Holy Spirit on these men who will serve the archdiocese through the diaconate and priesthood."

Announcing parish assignments for the new priests, Archbishop Mansell said that Father Varon will be assigned to St. Joseph Parish in Bristol; Father Castro, to Most Holy Trinity Parish in Wallingford; and Father Mendoza, to Most Holy Trinity Parish in Wallingford before returning to St. Vincent de Paul Seminary in Boynton Beach, Fla., to continue his studies.

"It’s a very important day for my family, especially my mother and father who are deceased," said Ricardo Mendoza Floyd, Father Mendoza’s brother. "My father wanted to see my brother become a priest. Our parents are in heaven now blessing him and watching this moment."

Father Mendoza earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in art from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield before starting major seminary at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in 2000. He also attended Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, where the other two priests also studied, as well as St. Vincent De Paul in Boynton Beach.

"Today is a big day," echoed Flor Ossa, wife of Deacon Tullio V. Ossa, who serves at Most Holy Trinity Parish in Wallingford. As tears welled up in her eyes, Mrs. Ossa explained that she and her husband have served as surrogate parents for Father Castro, whose parents live in Colombia and were unable to attend the ceremony.

"This is the way he wants to serve the Lord," she said of Father Castro. "He loves the Lord so much. It’s his vocation, his mission. He wants to serve the Lord with all his might."

Also emotional was Maria Varon, Father Varon’s mother, who came from Colombia with her husband Henry to see her son ordained. "This is a very special day and very important for our family," she said. "His father is so proud of him for this moment. We love him so much."

After the ordination, a jubilant Father Varon, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree in computer systems before beginning his seminary studies, said, "I am so grateful because I deeply believe that the priesthood is a gift from God."

Parents of the newly ordained deacons were also moved by the ordination.

"It’s a very, very special day," said Olinda Santiago, with tears in her eyes, about her son, who was baptized at Our Lady of Fatima in Hartford and received his first holy Communion and confirmation in Portugal. "It’s been a long journey and God has made it possible."

Also traveling a long distance were Deacon Buczek’s mother and brother, who came from Poland for the ordination; and Deacon Piedrahita’s mother and sister. Deacon Piedrahita holds degrees in business administration and finance from Universidad Eafit in Colombia.

Supporting Deacon Agyemang was a large contingent of members of the Ghanaian community, in addition to his family.

"It’s a very precious day because my son is being ordained to the diaconate," said Wial Agyemang, his mother.

She said that she and her husband adopted him in Ghana. "It’s been his dream all his life to be a priest," said his father, Lawrence Bempong.

Born in Waterbury, Deacon Mariano was raised in Naugatuck, receiving his sacraments at St. Francis of Assisi Parish there. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of Connecticut and a master's degree in environmental education from Southern Connecticut State University. He worked for 27 years as a middle school science teacher in Fairfield County.

"I feel like I have been walking through the stairs of life and the next is the priesthood," said Deacon Mariano, who graduated magna cum laude from the Angelicum, Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome.

"It was a long journey for him," offered Kathi Jones of Middlebury, a cousin, who added that his parents are deceased. "But he’s so excited. He will do so many good things for people."

Principal concelebrants for the ceremony were Archbishop Emeritus Daniel A. Cronin and Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Peter A. Rosazza.

There also were more than 70 priests, nearly 20 deacons and some of the 40-plus men who are studying for the priesthood for the archdiocese in attendance.


Events Calendar

January 2015
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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