Newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Hark the herald angels: How sacred music evangelizes, lifts up hearts
Msgr. Vincenzo De Gregorio, director of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, is pictured at an organ at the institute in Rome Dec. 6. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)   VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- 'Tis t...

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Witnesses recall New Year’s Eve cathedral blaze of 60 years ago
Written by Jack Sheedy
Left, people gather to watch firefighters attack the blaze as it rages near the towers of the cathedral. The roof eventually collapsed after being completely involved in flames. At right, firefighters...

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Museum featuring crèches of Germany
Written by Mary Chalupsky
German Nativity scene by Egon Wolfsgruber is placed inside a barrel with polychrome wood figurines. (Photo courtesy of the Knights of Columbus Museum)  NEW HAVEN – With its ancestral heritage, c...

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Pope Francis meets Martin Scorsese, director of 'Silence,' at Vatican
VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) – On Wednesday, Pope Francis added world famous director Martin Scorsese to the list of Hollywood stars he has welcomed for a private meeting in the Vatican, following a...

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Theater review: ‘The Front Page’
John Slattery and Nathan Lane in “The Front Page” (Photo by Julieta Cervantes)NEW YORK – Because of Nathan Lane’s presence in the cast,  the revival of “The Front Page” has attracted attention an...

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Sacred music: a St. Mary tradition
Written by Mary Chalupsky
Nicholas Renouf, director of music at St. Mary Church in New Haven or four decades, accompanies the Schola Cantorum during a noon Sunday Mass at St. Mary recently. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky) NEW HAVEN...

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Retirement Fund for Religious helps when communities can’t
Written by Administrator
Campaign photo for the 2016 Retirement Fund for Religious collection, which will take place Dec. 10-11 in most parishes. (Photo by Jim Judkis) WASHINGTON – The annual Retirement Fund for Religious ...

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Hark the herald angels: How sacred music evangelizes, lifts up hearts
Hark the herald angels: How sacred music evangelizes, lifts up hearts
Witnesses recall New Year’s Eve cathedral blaze of 60 years ago
Witnesses recall New Year’s Eve cathedral blaze of 60 years ago
Museum featuring crèches of Germany
Museum featuring crèches of Germany
Pope Francis meets Martin Scorsese, director of 'Silence,' at Vatican
Pope Francis meets Martin Scorsese, director of 'Silence,' at Vatican
Theater review: ‘The Front Page’
Theater review: ‘The Front Page’
Sacred music: a St. Mary tradition
Sacred music: a St. Mary tradition
Retirement Fund for Religious helps when communities can’t
Retirement Fund for Religious helps when communities can’t

Latest Commentary

ARCHBISHOP

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, I wish all of you a holy Advent and a Christmas...

LOCAL

HARTFORD – Reverend Ivan Dario Ramirez and Reverend Israel Rivera have been incardinated in the Archdiocese of Hartford by Archbishop...

WORLD

Women religious gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington March 23, the day the high court heard oral arguments...

ARTS

Gabrielle Union and Colman Domingo star in a scene from the movie "The Birth of a Nation." (CNS photo/Fox) NEW...

FROM OUR READERS

ENFIELD – John Berube, president of the parish council of St. Bernard Parish, thanks Father John P. Melnick, pastor, for...

YOUTH

BRANFORD – More than 300 people attended the 10th annual Archbishop’s Columbus Day Breakfast, held at the WoodWinds this year...

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.