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 17, 1891 when Bishop Lawrence S. McMahon dedicated St. Bernard Church, Enfield.
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Everyday Holiness 

A true story by Helen Roseveare, retold by Regina Cram

In her autobiography Give Us This Mountain, Dr. Helen Roseveare told of her life as a medical missionary in the central African country of Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

One night during her long years of service, Dr. Roseveare and her staff fought to save the life of a young mother as she gave birth. Despite their efforts the mother died, leaving behind a premature infant and an inconsolable 2-year old.

Dr. Roseveare knew it would be difficult to keep the baby alive. They had no incubator and no electricity to run an incubator even if they had one. Despite the fact that they were on the equator, nights were often cold and winds could be brutal.

The biggest challenge would be to keep the baby warm.

A midwife-in-training hurried to gather their paltry medical supplies. Another staff member ran to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle, which would serve as a makeshift incubator. She returned with the distressing news that as she’d filled the bottle, it had burst. Rubber does not hold up well in the tropics.

It was their last hot water bottle.

“All right,” Dr. Roseveare instructed, “put the baby as near the fire as you safely can, and sleep between the baby and the door to keep her from drafts. Your job is to keep the baby warm.” She did not need to add that even with these measures, the infant was likely to die.

The following day the doctor joined the orphanage children for midday prayer. She told the children about the tiny baby, explaining the difficulty keeping the baby warm without a hot water bottle. She said that the baby might die, and added that the 2-year old sister was crying for her mother.

Together they bowed their heads in prayer. A 10-year-old girl named Ruth prayed bluntly, “Please, God, send us a water bottle. It will be no good tomorrow, God; the baby will be dead by then so please send it this afternoon.” The doctor gasped at the child’s boldness and the absurdity of her request. “. . . and while you’re at it,” Ruth continued, “would you please send a dolly for the little girl so she’ll know you really love her?”

Dr. Roseveare didn’t know what to say. She certainly believed that God can do miracles; she just didn’t think he would. The only way Ruth’s prayer could be answered was if a package had been sent months earlier. But the doctor had been in Africa for years and had not received a single package. Besides, even if someone did ship supplies, who would send a hot water bottle to the equator?

It was mid-afternoon when a staff member ran to find the doctor with the news that a package had arrived. Dr. Roseveare hurried to her home where she found a large 22-pound box on the steps. This was so exciting that she sent for the orphanage children. Together they painstakingly removed the string and paper, taking care to not tear them.

All eyes were on the box as Dr. Roseveare pulled out brightly colored knitted jerseys for the children and knitted bandages for the leprosy patients. There were raisins and sultanas. Then she felt something she could scarcely believe.

She pulled it out and cried, “A brand new, rubber hot water bottle!”

Ruth rushed forward, exclaiming, “If God sent the hot water bottle, he must have sent the dolly, too!” They rummaged to the bottom of the box where Ruth pulled out a small, beautifully dressed dolly. She had never doubted God.

Ruth looked up at Dr. Roseveare and asked, “Can I go with you to give this dolly to that little girl so she’ll know how much Jesus loves her?”

The box had been sent five months earlier by the doctor’s former Sunday school class. The teacher had listened to God’s quiet call to send a hot water bottle, even to the tropics. A girl in the class had included a small doll for an African child – five months earlier, in answer to a prayer that had not yet been prayed.

“And it shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24).

Regina Cram lives in Glastonbury and is a freelance writer. She is the author of Do Bad Guys Wear Socks? Living the Gospel in Everyday Life.

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.