Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Of the 70 languages spoken by people in the Archdiocese of Hartford, priests here are fluent in only seven, according to first-year seminarian Sean Hoffman. "We’re trying to stretch the number of languages that the Archdiocese knows," he said in a recent interview.

Mr. Hoffman will be studying Bosniac this summer, if a suitable teacher can be found for this language spoken by about 1,000 Bosnian families in the Hartford area. He said Bosnians form a recent immigrant wave here, and while most are Muslims, there are Bosnian Catholics here also.

"If you’re serving the Bosnian community, at some point you’ll have to preach in Bosniac, and that requires a little bit higher-level language than the vernacular."

Mr. Hoffman has studied French at Stonehill College in Massachusetts and in France. He also has studied Spanish and will study Latin and Greek at St. Joseph Seminary at Dunwoodie, N.Y.

Seminarian Robert Turner spent three weeks last summer studying Haitian Creole at the University of Massachusetts, and he will resume those studies there this summer.

"There’s a community of Haitians, particularly at St. Justin’s in Hartford, that has a rich culture," Mr. Turner said. "I think there is a large community of Haitians in New York and in Boston, and as immigration goes, there is a possibility of an influx into our community of faith. To prepare for that as children of God is part of the formation of a priest," he said.

Before the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti, Mr. Turner visited the island nation and was impressed by their religious ardor. "The experience of meeting the people who are extremely poor and don’t have material things but are spiritually rich and devoted to God, that was a moving experience for me," he said.

Seminarian Tim Hickey is taking a Spanish course at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven. In an e-mail message, Mr. Hickey wrote, "At Mount St. Mary’s, I’m enrolled in the Hispanic Ministry Certification program, which entails that by ordination I have proficiency with the language, take a couple of courses focusing on ministry to Spanish speakers and have additional coursework on Spanish culture and peoples. I’ll be taking an independent study class on Spanish life and culture in the U.S. this fall."

Mr. Hickey, former editor of Columbia magazine, published a Spanish edition of that magazine, so he has some background in the language. Before entering the seminary, he taught English to Spanish-speaking immigrants.