Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

South Sudan bishops condemn atrocities, appeal for help to prevent famine
A mother feeds her child with a peanut-based paste for treatment of severe acute malnutrition at a hospital Jan. 20 in Juba, South Sudan. South Sudan's Catholic bishops asked for the world's help to p...

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Grass-roots leaders join call for 'disrupting' oppression that hurts many
Representatives from small groups give the final message from the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements Feb. 19 in Modesto, Calif. (CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski) MODESTO, Calif. (CNS) -- Affi...

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Be ashamed when tempted to use church for power struggles, pope says
Pope Francis greets a new priest during the ordination Mass of 11 priests in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 17, 2016. The pope warned against using the church in pursuit of personal ambitio...

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Pope's tip for becoming a saint: Pray for someone who doesn't like you
Pope Francis delivers his blessing to an overflow crowd gathered outside St. Mary Josefa Church after celebrating Mass at the parish in Rome Feb. 19. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) ROME (CNS) -- A practica...

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Employees of archdiocese volunteer to bring meals and good cheer to the homeless
Written by Shelley Wolf
Alicia Fleming, sales assistant for the Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, laughs with a client while serving desserts at the South Park Inn in Hartford.(Photo by Shelley Wolf) ...

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Special Olympians show world that 'every person is a gift,' pope says
Pope receives a stuffed animal from a participant in the Special Olympics during a meeting Feb. 16 at the Vatican. The Special Olympics World Winter Games will be held in Austria March 14-25. (CNS pho...

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South Sudan bishops condemn atrocities, appeal for help to prevent famine
South Sudan bishops condemn atrocities, appeal for help to prevent famine
Grass-roots leaders join call for 'disrupting' oppression that hurts many
Grass-roots leaders join call for 'disrupting' oppression that hurts many
Be ashamed when tempted to use church for power struggles, pope says
Be ashamed when tempted to use church for power struggles, pope says
Pope's tip for becoming a saint: Pray for someone who doesn't like you
Pope's tip for becoming a saint: Pray for someone who doesn't like you
Employees of archdiocese volunteer to bring meals and good cheer to the homeless
Employees of archdiocese volunteer to bring meals and good cheer to the homeless
Special Olympians show world that 'every person is a gift,' pope says
Special Olympians show world that 'every person is a gift,' pope says

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hopes-2-gerckensThe Gerckens family, twins Brittany, left, and Ashley, mom Patsy and dad Arthur, share moments of pride after Mr. Gerckens was presented with the Office of Catholic Schools’ 2013 St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award at the annual HOPES Dinner on Sept. 22 at the Aqua Turf Club in PlantsvilleSOUTHINGTON – When St. Mary-St. Michael School in Derby faced closing in 2010 because of  dwindling finances and enrollment, a group of parents, led by Arthur Gerckens, stepped up.

They created a strategic plan, implemented a number of fund-raising initiatives and successfully took the school from nearly closing its doors with 65 students to becoming a viable Catholic school again with 144 students today.

For his efforts to show what can happen when people who believe in Catholic education volunteer their talents, the Office of Catholic Schools (OCS) of the Archdiocese of Hartford gave Mr. Gerckens the 2013 St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award.

The occasion was the 36th annual HOPES (Help Our Parish Elementary Schools) Dinner, held Sept. 22 at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville to honor volunteers who offer their time and talent on behalf of their parish elementary schools.

Also honored were 103 volunteers from 47 Catholic elementary schools, each of whom was presented with the St. John Neumann Award for supporting their schools in a number of ways with their time and talents.

“These are the people who carry the benefits of Catholic education in their hearts at all times,” said Anne T. Clubb, director of enrollment management and marketing for OCS, who coordinated and moderated the event.

Offering the invocation for the celebration, Archbishop Henry J. Mansell expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the volunteers. “We’re here tonight to celebrate the great success of Catholic schools,” he said.

He noted that among the reasons for the success of Catholic schools is their family-like environment.

Attendees also gave a standing ovation to a performance by the combined Catholic Schools Choir of Greater Waterbury under the direction of Joan Tortora.

Accepting his award, Mr. Gerckens, a 1976 graduate of St. Mary, said, “It’s a tremendous honor. It’s been a lot of hard work. But I want to stress that there was a team of people who kept the school viable. When you have a group of people with a common goal, great things can happen.”

Mr. Gerckens said that because of his involvement with the school and the awareness the campaign  raised in the community, he went on to be elected to the Derby Board of Aldermen.

He and his wife Patsy have twin daughters, Ashley and Brittany, who graduated from St. Mary-St. Michael School. Both now are freshmen at  Sacred Heart Academy in Hamden.

Presenting the awards to recipients were Archbishop Mansell; Dale R. Hoyt, superintendent of Catholic Schools; and Maria Maynard, deputy superintendent.

For the last 36 years, the OCS has organized a HOPES collection at all parishes in September to support the Catholic elementary schools in the archdiocese. It helps to fund grants to elementary schools and supports OCS marketing efforts.

The dinner is held the same weekend as the collection.

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