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 22, 1960 when ground was broken for St. Philip Church, East Windsor.
Catholic Transcript Reader Survey
Catholic Transcript Reader Survey

march4-hartford 0718Archbishop Leonard P. Blair greets members of the Wolfgang family and other congregants after celebrating a Mass for Life on Jan. 25 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford. (Photo by Karen O. Bray)

HARTFORD – More than 400 people stood up against abortion in a rally for life at the Cathedral of St. Joseph on Jan. 25, days after the March for Life in Washington.

They had traveled from throughout the Archdiocese of Hartford and beyond in frigid temperatures to attend the Mass, at which Archbishop Leonard P. Blair was the principal celebrant.

The Mass, followed by prayer, speakers and refreshments, was organized by the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants as part of the regularly scheduled monthly rally and vigil activities that take place every third Saturday at St. Peter Church.

This event was the last in an annual week-long series of events to celebrate life on the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

Many of the attendees, including Archbishop Blair, had traveled to Washington to join the thousands from around the country at the annual March for Life.

 In his homily, Archbishop Blair focused on the feast of the conversion of Saint Paul, welcoming all who had come out to stand against abortion. He told them that as a pastor in the Archdiocese of Detroit and as bishop of Toledo, he had had a long association with and had supported the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants.

He said, “I want to give you every encouragement and support.”

On what he called a “powerful feast day,” Archbishop Blair said, “We should never sell short the grace of God.” He went on, “Who would ever have imagined that Saul, persecutor of Christians, would become the evangelizer of the whole world? … We can hope, too, that God will, in fact, raise up giants of faith and action and that a whole society can be changed as a result. God’s grace turned Saul, the implacable persecutor of Christians, into the apostle of the gospel of life.”

Bill Serkosky, who serves as treasurer of the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, and who had organized the after-Mass activities, said that he was very pleased that the archbishop celebrated the Mass, adding that he was especially encouraged to hear of the archbishop’s support for the “Helpers.”

As in past years, the event was scheduled to include a prayerful march to the state capitol, but the bitter cold moved organizers to cancel it. Instead, a large number remained in the cathedral for the recitation of the rosary and the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy on behalf of the cause for life.

Participants then visited the lower level of the cathedral to hear speakers on behalf of pro-life issues. Principal among them was Leticia Velasquez, who described her commitment to the defense of Down syndrome-afflicted babies as a personal journey. She related her own experience and read excerpts from her book, A Special Mother Is Born.

Jamie Pohlman and her children Ryan, Eva, Maggie and Jacob drove to the event from Gales Ferry with signs they had made in advance. Mrs. Pohlman said that they went to Hartford because they were unable to go to Washington.

Walter and Louise Cody, members of St. Jerome Parish in New Britain, also held signs. They said they attend the event in Hartford every year to pray and march with the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants.

“Prayer as a group is very powerful, praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament as a group at the same time.” Mr. Cody said.

 Edward (Jed) Conran told The Transcript that he’d gone to Washington for a number of years, but lately has participated in the Hartford activities instead.

“[F]ortunately, have some great services … the Mass here, the speakers, prayer groups and the enthusiasm of sharing with people in our surroundings. So I’m very delighted we’ve had the opportunity to come here,” he said.

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.