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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
EAST HAVEN – Carol Scussel and Judy Esposito could never have imagined either the success or longevity of the Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help that they began 18 years ago at of Our Lady of Pompeii Parish.
From a humble beginning with an attendance of 35 people in 1995, the annual nine-week novena ended on April 24 this year with more than 200 people gathered for the concluding Mass, eucharistic adoration, outdoor candlelight rosary procession, individual veneration before the image of Our Lady and presentation of a holy card. (Click here to visit photo gallery.)
"It’s exciting and very rewarding for us because we see so many people who have benefitted from the petitions and prayer intentions," said Mrs. Esposito. "We’ve seen many people cry because the experience was so spiritual for them."
Adds Mrs. Scussel, "We have so much devotion to the Blessed Mother. I know prayers have been answered through her intercession."
It was a parishioner from a neighboring parish who first approached Mrs. Scussel about the idea of holding the novena. "It was such a coincidence because I had just received a prayer card with the image of Our Mother of Perpetual Help," she recalled.
After obtaining permission from Father Dennis Hussey, who was then pastor of the parish, the two women began the nine-week novena as a Lenten program for the parish, starting two weeks before Ash Wednesday and ending the week after Easter. They ordered novena booklets from the Redemptorists, who have been charged with spreading devotion to the image since 1865.
Visiting priests are invited to lead the weekly devotion that includes a Scripture reading, homily, exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, recitation of the rosary, and the novena prayers accompanied by hymns to the Blessed Mother. The priests also lead healing prayers and conduct the blessing and investiture of the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, or brown scapular.
Other members of the parish have also volunteered to help with the novena, including the Knights of Columbus and the Columbian Squires, the youth fraternity of the Knights for boys between the ages of 10 and 18.
Both women find it hard to believe that it’s been 18 years since they organized the novena. "The time has flown by," said Mrs. Scussel, "but we hope to continue for another 18 years."
They attribute the growing success of the novena to their pastor, Father John L. Lavorgna. "He’s wonderful … such a blessing and so inspirational," said Mrs. Scussel.
Father Lavorgna said the novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help "is a wonderful and joyful tradition of our parish."
He said, "I am grateful for the involvement of so many members of our community, from the parish and beyond," he said, "because the novena really strikes to the heart of our Catholic identity – joining together to worship the Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; to seek the intercession of Our Blessed Mother; and to pray for our needs and those of our relatives, friends and neighbors. During this Year of Faith, and in the face of so many societal challenges, these spiritual exercises take on a whole new meaning and purpose. We need to turn to God always."
As parishioners concluded the novena, the two friends were tearful as they stood in the back of the church receiving expressions of gratitude from participants. "It’s so emotional," said Mrs. Esposito. "This is our best one yet … so many prayers were answered."
The ancient icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is one of the most recognizable images of the Mother of God in the world. The original miraculous icon and shrine are housed in the Church of St. Alphonsus Liguori in Rome.