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 20, 1971 when parishioners settled on a site for the new St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Oxford.
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deSilvaDr. Paula deSilva, of St. Ann Parish in Avon, left, and Janet Leishman, a member of St. Gertrude Parish in Windsor, pause for a moment while collecting items for Haiti. (Photo submitted)

 AVON – Volunteers who have been sewing items for Haitians for years stepped up their efforts after the devastating earthquake in that country on Jan. 12.

Dr. Paula deSilva, a member of St. Ann Parish in Avon, has volunteered for the Mothers and Babies Sewing Project for the Haitian Health Foundation for years. Dr. deSilva coordinates the efforts of nearly 100 women who collect donated cotton fabric, and cut and sew items used in the villages surrounding Jeremie, Haiti. Volunteers sew maternity jumpers, cloth beds for the infants, and diapers which are shipped every three months to Haiti.

After the earthquake, many others got involved. They included members of St. Timothy Parish in West Hartford, students at St. Mary School in Simsbury and Avon High School and employees from One Beacon Insurance in Avon. In addition, Janet Leishman of Suffield, a member of St. Gertrude Parish in Windsor, organized a school-wide collection at Suffield Middle School.

More than 6,000 items, including tents, sleeping bags, baby clothes, maternity items, personal hygiene items and first aid supplies were packed and shipped to Haiti by the Norwich-based Haitian Health Foundation.

On April 10, another shipment was sent, this one including 7,465 items collected by the same students, parishioners and friends. Students from St. Mary School's Sewing Club sewed 308 pocket washcloths and collected more than 200 bars of Ivory soap for that shipment.

Dr. deSilva is inviting others to volunteer by contacting her at



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.