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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mens-conf 6594-w-logoBLOOMFIELD – With an eye toward Jesus’ request to Saint Francis to “rebuild my Church,” the organizers of the sixth annual Connecticut Catholic Men’s Conference have chosen the theme “Rebuild” for the Oct. 26 event.

“When we sat down in a group of about seven of us, we thought about Pope Francis,” said Ken Santopietro, this year’s conference director, in a phone interview in September. “We wanted to have just one word, so one of the men suggested ‘Rebuild.’ Then we added on the poster, in smaller print, ‘Our Church, Our Faith & Our Life.’ And, as a kicker, we added, ‘Following Pope Francis.’”

The conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Goodwin College in East Hartford. It annually draws men from throughout the state.

“We pray that Pope Francis will lead us and rebuild our Church, but all of us must work on rebuilding our faith. And, if we do God’s will, our lives will be rebuilt. It is an exciting theme,” Mr. Santopietro wrote in an invitation that was sent to all Knights of Columbus in the state.

Mr. Santopietro told the Transcript that he attended the first conference in 2008 that was held at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. It changed his life, he said.

“I became a catechist in our religious ed program [at St. Thomas Parish in Thomaston],” he said. “I have been going to adoration. I got involved in this [Men’s Conference] committee. I joined the Knights of Columbus [Council 18]. We had one of the biggest fund-raisers in the state with our Thomastonopoly game, and we raised a ton of money and bought a Father McGivney statue for our church.”

He also became a more frequent churchgoer and began going to confession more regularly, he added.

“The Holy Spirit must have gotten involved and said, ‘Ken, you know, you’ve got something that we want,’” he said with a chuckle.

He said he became fired up at that first conference because of the inspirational presentation of Father Larry Richards of Erie, Pa. “He told the men, ‘Come back and be reconciled with Jesus.’ The message was really clear, and the guys were all lined up for confession,” Mr. Santopietro said.

This year’s speakers will weave the “Rebuild” theme into their presentations, he said. The speakers are Father John Paul Duran of the Legionaries of Christ; Dr. Bryan S. Thatcher of Tampa, Fla., founder of the Eucharistic Apostles of the Divine Mercy; Mark Houck, cofounder and president of the Kings Men; and Bryan Mercier, a speaker with the Catholic speaking bureau CMG Booking and head of the R.O.C.K. Group retreat team. Bishop Michael R. Cote of Norwich also will speak.

Father John P. Gatzak, executive director of the Archdiocese of Hartford’s Office of Radio and Television, will be the master of ceremonies.

As in previous years, Archbishop Henry J. Mansell will be the principal celebrant of the closing Mass at 4 p.m. Eucharistic adoration and the sacrament of reconciliation will be available throughout the day.

“I want to share this with other guys,” Mr. Santopietro said. “When they look at me and they go, ‘I don’t want to go to a conference,’ I tell them that I said the same thing. A conference, to me – I’m a CPA – a conference is one of those things that we go to and take notes, get a binder, and who wants that? This is not like that.”

He added, “This conference is where your spiritual needs are going to be met.”

Tickets are $35 ($25 for ages 13-19), including lunch, and may be purchased online at or by calling (860) 739-4607. Seating is limited to 800.

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.