PROSPECT – The St. Vincent de Paul Mission of Waterbury honored Archbishop Emeritus Henry J. Mansell, the Taft School in Watertown and Our Lady of Loreto Parish in Waterbury with the Father Cascia Service Awards during a celebration at Aria Wedding and Banquet Facility March 27. More than 350 guests attended the event, which raised money for the mission incorporated in 1978 under the direction of the late Father Philip Cascia.
Father Joseph Donnelly, chair of the board of directors of St. Vincent de Paul Mission, introduced Archbishop Emeritus Mansell as a man who embodies Pope Francis’ commitment to helping the poor. During last year’s conclave, Father Donnelly said, as it became clear that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio would be elected pope, a cardinal next to him leaned over and whispered to him, “Don’t forget the poor.”
“I think during his 10 years as archbishop of Hartford, Archbishop Mansell has been telling us the very same thing: ‘Don’t forget the poor,’” Father Donnelly said. “Early in his tenure, he was invited to become the co-chair of the mayor of Hartford’s committee to end chronic homelessness in Hartford, and so from the very beginning of his time here, his concern about the needy and the poor was clear.”
The former archbishop also helped develop the Malta House of Care mobile medical clinics for people without medical insurance; the Cathedral Green affordable housing facility in the former Cathedral School in Hartford’s Asylum Hill area; the Vicariate Outreach Program of the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, a parish-based program to help local charities; the construction of a new facility for the Institute for the Hispanic Family; the soon-to-be-completed Francis Xavier Plaza, another affordable housing facility in Waterbury; and more, Father Donnelly said.
In accepting the award, Archbishop Mansell thanked attendees for their own service and generosity to the mission. “We see the tremendous effect you have every day of the year, every night of the year,” he said. “Taking care of the sick, taking care of the homeless – you’re doing that. That’s what you do. You carry out the Gospel message.”
The Taft School was honored for its spirit of volunteerism among students and staff, who serve food at the St. Vincent de Paul Shelter every Friday evening while school is in session. Elizabeth Frew, director of community service at Taft, accepted the award and said, “Our partnership with St. Vincent de Paul over the years has been so important to all the staff and students at Taft. It gives us a chance to live our motto, which is to serve, not to be served, and we feel very fortunate to be part of this organization.”
Father Allan J. Hill, pastor of Our Lady of Loreto Parish, accepted the award for his parish, which for 10 years has provided more than 500 toys each Christmas for children at the St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen. Parishioners also donate food items as requested by the soup kitchen.
Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, president of the mission, said, “I want to congratulate all those who have been awarded tonight, but you’ll understand if I want to say a special word of thanks and congratulations to my predecessor, Archbishop Mansell. Each of us brings to the role of archbishop our own particular history or talents or personality, but I know that in days to come, as now, he will always be remembered as a great man of charity, as his award of recognition this evening has made clear. That should be an inspiration to all of us because one of the pillars of Lent is charity.”
Deacon Paul Iadarola thanked Archbishop Mansell for his guidance to him personally, both as executive director of St. Vincent de Paul Mission and as a deacon at St. Margaret Parish in Waterbury.
He added, “Archbishop Blair, thank you for taking on the responsibilities as our president. We have had a few discussions, and I am looking forward to several years of service to you and to our directors. Together the legacy of caring for the poorest people in the Waterbury area, left to us by Father Cascia, will continue.”
Eric Doyle, a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Southbury, works on the mission’s marketing committee with Father Donnelly, who is also pastor at Sacred Heart. Mr. Doyle described a recent visit he made to the several facilities of the mission in Waterbury.
“It’s amazing the amount of work that they’re doing, from the soup kitchen to mental health services and really just trying to tackle homelessness,” Mr. Doyle said. “It’s been an amazing educational experience for me, really, to see everything that’s going on. And once you start to understand what they do, you can’t help but think that this is something that needs attention, needs to have people donating and really getting involved.”
Father John Cormack, who assists at SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Waterbury, said of the volunteers and staff of St. Vincent de Paul, “I’ve seen the good work they do in supporting the homeless and the poor to restore the dignity of the human person. It’s also a great sign of God’s providence to see people come out and give their time and love here tonight in a very special way.”
Tom Hill, a realtor who helped the mission purchase a building for its thrift store at 38 Willow St. about 20 years ago, said, “I think that you need to support the Catholic Church. St. Vincent de Paul Society raises a hand up for the poor.”
Information about St. Vincent de Paul Mission is available at www.stvincentdepaulmission.org or 203-754-0000.