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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STS-front-ext-2003 story-BLOOMFIELD – St. Thomas Seminary will celebrate the 85th anniversary of its dedication with an exhibit highlighting the history of the seminary from Sept. 23 through the month of October.

The exhibit at the Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary, located at 467 Bloomfield Ave., is open to the public. Directions are available by calling 860-242-5573, ext. 2608, or going online to www.stseminary.org.

The Preparatory Seminary of St. Thomas of Aquinas was founded by Bishop Michael Tierney and originally was located at 352 Collins St. in Hartford. Under the direction of the first rector, Father John Synnot, classes were organized on Sept. 7, 1898. There were 37 students enrolled: 15 boarders and 22 day scholars.

As enrollment grew over the next 30 years, more space was needed. The rector, Father Maurice McAuliffe, moved the seminary from Collins Street to property on Bloomfield Avenue in Bloomfield. According to written accounts, “almost every detail was the work of Bishop McAuliffe,” and “a dream of his that was brought to realization.” The cornerstone of the new seminary was laid by Bishop John Joseph Nilan on Sept. 29, 1928, and the building opened for classes on Sept. 29, 1930.

The seminary has been visited by many notable personalities over its 85 years, including, in October 1936, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, who later became Pope Pius XII.

The golden jubilee Mass of St. Thomas Seminary was celebrated on Oct. 8, 1947, by then-Bishop Henry J. O’Brien, who had been a seminary professor and rector. In 1953, he was named the first archbishop of Hartford. The seminary’s library is named in his honor.

Today, the seminary offers certificate programs in religious studies and biblical studies with accreditation from the Connecticut State Department of Education. “Most of the seminarians of the archdiocese spend time at the building during their breaks and summer vacation. Others who are studying at local colleges are in residence at the seminary,” said Msgr. Gerard Schmitz, current president rector.

The Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary also thrives as a conference and retreat center. It houses conference and meeting rooms, dining facilities and the Archbishop O’Brien Library. The center has a chapel with stained glass windows that were imported from Great Britain in the early 1930s and depict a dozen scenes from Scripture. Mass is celebrated at 12:10 p.m. weekdays and is open to the public.

The Gothic-style building is surrounded by a pastoral landscape designed by the well-known Olmsted Brothers Architectural firm.

In February 2007, renovations were completed for the Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin Residence for retired priests and dedicated by Archbishop Henry J. Mansell.

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.