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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blue-massHARTFORD – With a mixture of pageantry and solemnity, the Archdiocese of Hartford celebrated its fourth annual Blue Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph on May 6 to recognize police, fire and other safety personnel who keep residents from harm’s way.

As the plaintive hum of bagpipes sounded, a solemn procession of police officers, firefighters and other emergency first responders paraded into the cathedral for the service to remember fallen comrades and honor those who serve.

In his homily, Archbishop Henry J. Mansell captured the sentiments of those gathered by expressing gratitude for the courage of service personnel "who serve our society 24 hours a day, and those who have given their lives."

"They are the protectors of our society … protectors of us," he said, and "they have our admiration and respect.

"The Blue Mass gives us an opportunity to recognize the contributions of our police, fire and other safety personnel," he said. "They remind us of Jesus Christ and all he gave" for humanity, he reflected, as "he loved them to the end."

Honor guards leading the procession included those from the Connecticut Department of Correction, Connecticut State Police, Hartford Fire Department, Hartford Police Department and Torrington Police Department.

"This is a beautiful day that honors all the emergency service personnel," said East Hartford Police Sgt. Peter Vanek, who attended with his department’s honor guard.

Fred Spagnolo, deputy chief of the Waterbury Police Department, spoke along the same lines. "It’s a wonderful celebration hosted by the Archdiocese of Hartford." He said it was more special for him because he was accompanied by his son and wife.

Archbishop Mansell presented memorial candles to the families of Lt. Bruce M. Bachinsky of Waterbury, Detective Andrew F. Faggio of the New Haven Police Department, and New Haven firefighter Robert Dean Watts, who died from injuries incurred in the line of duty.

Concelebrants for the Mass were Msgr. John J. McCarthy, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Hartford; Father David J. Baranowski, director of the Office for Divine Worship; Father Anthony J. Bruno, director of religious services for the Connecticut Department of Correction; Father Louis D. Cremonie, chaplain for the Hartford and Manchester police departments; and Father Ronald A. Ferraro, chaplain for the Waterbury fire and police departments.

Music for the procession was provided by the Police Pipes and Drums of Waterbury and by the Connecticut State Police pipers.

The first Blue Mass was initiated in 1934 by a priest in a Washington, D.C., parish, drawing more than 1,000 police and firemen dressed in blue uniforms.


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.