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 21, 1934 when Father James J. Kane offered Madison's first Mass in Madison's Memorial Town Hall.
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Campion_1436Father Campion and the Cavaliere family, from left, Peter, Alex, mom Mary and dad Carl.

WETHERSFIELD – In a celebration rich with emotion, parishioners filled Corpus Christi Church to say good-bye to their beloved pastor of 28 years, Father Thomas B. Campion, 84, during a Mass on Dec. 11 at which Archbishop Henry J. Mansell was the principal celebrant.

While every parishioner had a special story or memory about the priest with the big smile, warm hug and engaging personality, it was Archbishop Mansell who focused attention on the great "respect, admiration and affection" held for the retiring priest.

Offering highlights from Father Campion’s nearly 60 years as a priest, Archbishop Mansell drew thunderous applause and a standing ovation following remarks during which he praised him for being someone who "really is typecast to be a priest."

"Father Campion has been a tremendous priest for so many years," he said, "and we say thanks from the bottom of our hearts for all he means to so many of us."

Born in West Hartford, Father Campion was a standout high school athlete and sports enthusiast, who loved playing baseball and was offered an opportunity to sign by the Boston Braves and Brooklyn Dodgers. However, after turning down both offers, he entered St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield in 1948.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1952 at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in West Hartford, he served for 27 years at St. Thomas Seminary (1953-80) as a teacher and director of athletics, as well as the coach of the baseball and basketball teams. Before arriving at Corpus Christi in 1983, he served at St. Paul Parish in West Haven and St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Torrington.

Many priests currently serving in the Archdiocese of Hartford were influenced or formed by Father Campion during his years at the seminary.

"In those years, he had a profound impact on young men who were preparing for the priesthood," said Archbishop Mansell about Father Campion’s years at St. Thomas Seminary. "Many priests in the Archdiocese have been the recipients of his example and encouragement."

Father Campion drew smiles during his remarks when he reminisced about a particularly high-scoring basketball game that was played years ago between his team from the seminary and a New York team playing at Cardinal Hayes High School that included a player who would become the current archbishop of Hartford, who alone scored 20 points.

Then, turning to his congregation, Father Campion fought back tears as he thanked parishioners "who made this such a memorable Mass for me."

"I’ve been blessed by 28 years here," he said, "and by you who made this such a blessing for me."

The celebration, which included a three-hour reception following Mass, was co-hosted by parishioners of Corpus Christi and Sacred Heart Parish, which was linked with Corpus Christi in 1995, as well as the Korean Catholic Community. A video of Father Campion from his ordination to the present was also shown.

"This is a wonderful tribute to an incredible man," said Coleen Antico, director of development for Corpus Christi School. The school previously had celebrated its 50th anniversary and paid tribute to Father Campion’s 28-year legacy with a dinner-dance at the Bond Hotel in Hartford, a Mass followed by breakfast at the school, and a celebration in November at the school.

The dinner-dance raised more than $55,000, which will be used for a new gymnasium floor and bleacher section for what will be called Father Campion Court. The school plans to dedicate it next fall.

 

 

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.