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 17, 1891 when Bishop Lawrence S. McMahon dedicated St. Bernard Church, Enfield.
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Novena 4792A Knights of Columbus honor guard leads the candlelight procession on the final night of a nine-week novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help at our Lady of Pompeii Parish that ended April 24.

 

EAST HAVEN – Carol Scussel and Judy Esposito could never have imagined either the success or longevity of the Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help that they began 18 years ago at of Our Lady of Pompeii Parish.

From a humble beginning with an attendance of 35 people in 1995, the annual nine-week novena ended on April 24 this year with more than 200 people gathered for the concluding Mass, eucharistic adoration, outdoor candlelight rosary procession, individual veneration before the image of Our Lady and presentation of a holy card. (Click here to visit photo gallery.)

"It’s exciting and very rewarding for us because we see so many people who have benefitted from the petitions and prayer intentions," said Mrs. Esposito. "We’ve seen many people cry because the experience was so spiritual for them."

Adds Mrs. Scussel, "We have so much devotion to the Blessed Mother. I know prayers have been answered through her intercession."

It was a parishioner from a neighboring parish who first approached Mrs. Scussel about the idea of holding the novena. "It was such a coincidence because I had just received a prayer card with the image of Our Mother of Perpetual Help," she recalled.

After obtaining permission from Father Dennis Hussey, who was then pastor of the parish, the two women began the nine-week novena as a Lenten program for the parish, starting two weeks before Ash Wednesday and ending the week after Easter. They ordered novena booklets from the Redemptorists, who have been charged with spreading devotion to the image since 1865.

Visiting priests are invited to lead the weekly devotion that includes a Scripture reading, homily, exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, recitation of the rosary, and the novena prayers accompanied by hymns to the Blessed Mother. The priests also lead healing prayers and conduct the blessing and investiture of the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, or brown scapular.

Other members of the parish have also volunteered to help with the novena, including the Knights of Columbus and the Columbian Squires, the youth fraternity of the Knights for boys between the ages of 10 and 18.

Both women find it hard to believe that it’s been 18 years since they organized the novena. "The time has flown by," said Mrs. Scussel, "but we hope to continue for another 18 years."

They attribute the growing success of the novena to their pastor, Father John L. Lavorgna. "He’s wonderful … such a blessing and so inspirational," said Mrs. Scussel.

Father Lavorgna said the novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help "is a wonderful and joyful tradition of our parish."

He said, "I am grateful for the involvement of so many members of our community, from the parish and beyond," he said, "because the novena really strikes to the heart of our Catholic identity – joining together to worship the Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; to seek the intercession of Our Blessed Mother; and to pray for our needs and those of our relatives, friends and neighbors. During this Year of Faith, and in the face of so many societal challenges, these spiritual exercises take on a whole new meaning and purpose.  We need to turn to God always."

As parishioners concluded the novena, the two friends were tearful as they stood in the back of the church receiving expressions of gratitude from participants. "It’s so emotional," said Mrs. Esposito. "This is our best one yet … so many prayers were answered."

The ancient icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is one of the most recognizable images of the Mother of God in the world. The original miraculous icon and shrine are housed in the Church of St. Alphonsus Liguori in Rome.

 

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.