Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 22, 1960 when ground was broken for St. Philip Church, East Windsor.
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Msgr. David Q. Liptak

A few years ago, as I was leaving my barbershop in one of those busy malls on the Silas Deane Highway in Wethersfield, a woman passing by politely addressed me by name. Surprised, since I did not recognize her, I stopped to return her greeting. She told me her name, explained that although I did not know her, she was at my first solemn Mass back in 1953 at St. Ann’s Church in the beautiful Black Rock Section of Bridgeport, just blocks from St. Mary’s by the Sea. Moreover, she had not seen me since my first Mass, which she had never forgotten for several reasons.
Her account was almost unbelievable.
For one thing, she said that she had a first date the day of my first Mass with a young man who was in my graduation class at Bassick Senior High School in Bridgeport. When he arrived to take her out – they had no special plans – he explained that he had forgotten that he must be at St. Ann’s Church for the first Mass. Would she mind making the Mass the occasion of their first date? So she went with him to St. Ann’s, and, as the expression goes, the rest is history.
Unbelievable, I thought again. But all the pieces fell into place, all the details and, of course, the time, place and circumstances.
The chance meeting in the mall occasioned so many memories surrounding my first solemn Mass. Memories of old friends, for example, friends from grade school as well as high school, friends with whom I worked in various factories (Jenkins Valves, Raybestos Brakes, two tool and die shops, a shoe store, a radio station where I auditioned at age 16 and more). Many of those old friends were in church that day, and at the parish reception following the Mass.
Memories were also quickened of good neighbors who couldn’t do enough for my family as they prepared for my priestly ordination and first Mass, and of countless parishioners who volunteered time and services to arrange the parish reception. And there were memories of the priests of St. Ann’s parish, such as the truly great Msgr. James Murphy; and from my grade school days, recollections of St. Charles Borromeo Church, whose pastor, Msgr. John J. McGivney, was a younger brother of the Founder of the Knights of Columbus, Father Michael McGivney; as well as Father Thomas H. Dwyer, who drove me up to St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield for my first visit there. And thoughts of my first Mass called to mind outstanding seminary professors and, supremely, my noble parents, sisters and relatives.
This is the time of the year for first Masses, of course; the Archdiocese of Hartford is graced with six. As priests can never forget their first Masses, neither should any who share in them, especially during these times of contradiction. I often reread the words of Pope John Paul II in this regard:
“…Think of the places where people anxiously await a priest, and where for many years, feeling the lack of such a priest, they do not cease to hope for his presence. And sometimes it happens that they meet in an abandoned shrine, and place on the altar a stole which they still keep, and recite all the prayers of the Eucharistic Liturgy; and then, at the moment that corresponds to the transubstantiation, a deep silence comes down upon them, a silence sometimes broken by a sob… so ardently do they desire to hear the words that only the lips of a priest can efficaciously utter. So much do they desire Eucharistic Communion, in which they can share only through the ministry of a priest, just as they also so eagerly wait to hear the divine words of pardon: Ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis! So deeply do they feel the absence of a priest among them!… Such places are not lacking in the world.”
A first Mass (actually one’s very first Mass is his ordination Mass, concelebrated with the Bishop) should remind all of us to appreciate the priesthood, without which we would not have the Mass. Without the priest, the Eucharist could not be perpetuated. And without the Eucharist, we are without life, as Jesus told us in the Gospel according to John. In the words of a prayerlike poem:
“Keep them [priests] for they are thine, thy priests whose lives burn out before thy consecrated shrine…”
With this prayer we thank God for six new priests to serve the Archdiocese of Hartford: Fathers Joseph Crowley, Paul Gotta, Emmanuel Ihemedu, John Lavorgna, David Manna and Jose Mercado. Oremus pro invicem.
– Msgr. David Q. Liptak is Executive Editor of The Catholic Transcript, and censor librorum for the Archdiocese of Hartford.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.