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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Chrism-Mass_2453Well over 200 bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians and servers walk in procession at the start of the annual Chrism Mass April 3 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford. Showing unity with their archbishop, the priests renewed their commitment to priestly service during the liturgy. (Photo by Jack Sheedy)

HARTFORD – Archbishop Henry J. Mansell addressed a record number of Catholic school students during the Chrism Mass April 3 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph, where more than two dozen concelebrating bishops and priests signified close unity with their archbishop.

As Archbishop Mansell noted in his homily, the purpose of the Mass, celebrated in every diocese during Holy Week, is to consecrate the sacred chrism and bless two other oils. A fragrance is added to the oil that is then consecrated as sacred chrism, which is used in baptisms, confirmations, ordinations and to consecrate churches and altars.

The archbishop also blesses the oil of catechumens, which is used to anoint people before baptism; and the oil of the sick, used during the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.

The cathedral can seat 1,750 people, and, according to the Office of Catholic Schools (OCS), 1,634 children and adults from 33 Catholic elementary schools and four high schools filled most of the pews. Since that office began keeping records in 2009, the next highest number of Catholic school children and adults at a Chrism Mass was 805, in 2010.

"This is a special day for the priests of the archdiocese and across the world to renew their priestly commitments. We are so grateful for all they continue to be and all they continue to do," Archbishop Mansell said.

During that portion of the Mass, he asked the priests – most of whom were marking 25, 50, 55, 60 or 65 years in the priesthood – if they were "resolved to renew, in the presence of your bishop and God’s holy people, the promises you once made." They answered, "I am."

In his homily, Archbishop Mansell reminded everyone that the cathedral will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its dedication this year. It was consecrated on May 15, 1962.

"Think of the Cathedral of St. Joseph as your mother church inside the archdiocese," he said. "We all have our own parishes, and the parishes are key to who we are as church. But the cathedral is the mother church, and every one of us is a parishioner of the cathedral. Every one of us can be baptized here, receive the sacraments here, be married here and be buried from here. This is where we come together to see who we are: we are family."

During the blessing of the oils, three vessels of oils were carried by deacons in a procession to the sanctuary.

After the oils were blessed or consecrated, the deacons delivered them to the lower cathedral, where volunteers from the archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women filled vials to be delivered to each of the 213 parishes.

"We have our own little box that we bring back every year," said Anita Iacomacci, a representative from St. Mary the Immaculate Conception Parish in Derby, who has been taking the oils to her parish for six or seven years.

"We put the vials in the box. We come here. We go to the Mass. We have the vials with us during the Mass, the empty ones from last year. And then we just follow the procession downstairs and hand in the old vials and get the new ones," she said.

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.