HARTFORD – Enthusiasm continues to build as the Archdiocese of Hartford rolls out an array of events, resources, activities and liturgies designed to celebrate the Year of Faith that Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed to encourage Catholics to renew their faith.
A smorgasbord of workshops, concerts, liturgies, Bible study classes and times for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament can be found on the archdiocesan Web site (www.archdioceseofhartford.org) by clicking on the Year of Faith icon. Users will find a list of resources including the Year of Faith prayer card, scriptural reflections, spiritual readings and links to sites including the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
A special highlight of the archdiocesan observance is a Lenten confession campaign. Every Catholic parish will offer the sacrament of reconciliation from 6-7 p.m. each Monday during Lent. Parishioners are being asked to pray for and participate in the campaign, which will be widely publicized via billboards, social media and six radio stations, including the archdiocesan station, WJMJ.
The first billboard was to go up Jan. 28 along I-84, I-91 and Rte. 202, directing people to go to the campaign’s Web site, www.light4you.info for information. A second billboard promoton runs Feb. 10 thorugh March 25 to promote the Monday evening confessions. Radio ads will promote the campaign during that time, as well.
"Every parish will have a priest available for the sacrament of reconciliation so people can go to any church – such as when driving home from work, stop in and go to confession," said Father Jeffrey V. Romans, assistant chancellor for the archdiocese, who chairs the archdiocese’s Year of Faith committee.
"We’re praying it will be a grace-filled moment not only for priests but for those who have been away from the Church to come back," said Maria Zone, director of communications for the archdiocese.
Responding to the call for the Year of Faith, Archbishop Henry J. Mansell also is using social media to reach out to Catholics via Facebook, Twitter and a blog as a means of encouraging the faithful to renew and deepen their faith.
For young people, the archdiocese has begun a Spanish adaptation of Theology on Tap called Word y Vino, with an English version planned for the near future.
Archbishop Mansell is also leading a pilgrimage to Italy May 20-29 that includes a tour of Rome and Vatican City; an audience with the Holy Father; daily Mass; and a tour of Rome’s four major basilicas, plus visits to Assisi, Orvieto, Siena, Florence, Pisa, Padua and Venice. Space is still available. Information is available from Father Romans at (860) 541-6491.
Parishes, too, have launched plans to mark the Year of Faith with a creative mix of innovative programs, Bible study classes and activities.
Examples include: a presentation on the Shroud of Turin at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 10 at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in West Simsbury; a Lenten video series at 2 p.m. Sundays at Holy Angels Parish in South Meriden; a presentation on the Holy Relics of the Passion at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26 at St. James Parish in Manchester; a five-part series called The Spirituality of St. Thérèse of Lisieux by Father Ronald Zepecki at SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Wallingford at 6 p.m. beginning Feb. 21; and a 12-week study group, which started Jan. 9, on the Catechism of the Catholic Church at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Waterbury.
"It’s going wonderfully," said Father Romans, about the schedule of events for the Year of Faith. Archdiocesan offices and ministries have joined forces to develop creative programs designed to inspire, motivate and encourage Catholics to renew their faith.
"The Holy Father has called for the Year of Faith with the hope of helping Catholics refocus and renew their faith in Jesus Christ," he said.
Catholic educators are being encouraged to attend the annual Catholic School Educators Conference March 19-20 at St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol.
For the laity and religious, Dr. Joan Kelly will present a program called "Catholic Laity: Called and Gifted" on Feb. 26 at the Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield.
Also under way are special programs for priests that include gatherings with invited speakers. And the library at St. Thomas Seminary is offering resources that inspire the faithful to cherish the roots of Catholicism.
Liturgies that are being prepared along the Year of Faith theme will include a Mass June 2, Corpus Christi Sunday, the annual Black Catholic Heritage Mass Feb. 10; and the annual Chrism Mass March 26 – all to be celebrated at the Cathedral of St. Joseph.
The Year of Faith also marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. During the year, Catholics are being asked to study and reflect on the documents of Vatican II and the catechism to deepen their knowledge of the faith.
"It is our hope that we all will become closer in communion with God, deepen our relationship with Christ and become active disciples and, thus, more effective builders of the kingdom," said Archbishop Mansell about the Year of Faith.
More events and activities will be posted on the archdiocesan Web site as the year, which runs from Oct. 11, 2012, to Nov. 24, 2013, unfolds. Information about obtaining a plenary indulgence granted by Pope Benedict XVI is also available on the Web site.