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.
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cc-men-entrep 1661-webClockwise from top left, Anthony Griffin, coordinator of the Fathers’ Entrepreneurial Program at Catholic Charities’ Asylum Hill Family Center in Hartford; George Hilson; Delroy Kerr; Anthony Jackson (back to camera); Moureen Bish, family center director (back to camera); and Elliott Campbell take part in a recent entrepreneurial workshop at the center. (Photo by Jack Sheedy)

HARTFORD – Anthony Griffin was looking for an answer: “What does a good relationship with a man’s father have to do with running a business?”

Five Hartford-area men pondered the question during a meeting of the Fathers’ Entrepreneurial Program, part of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Hartford’s Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood Program at the Asylum Hill Family Center at 60 Gillett St.

Mr. Griffin, coordinator of the eight-week entrepreneurship program, told the men at the meeting that his mother died when he was 6 months old and “Everything I learned I got from my father.” He now owns a retail clothing establishment.

The men in the program are all fathers who are seeking better relationships with their children, and some are trying to reconcile with their own fathers. All are trying to change their lives for the better through self-employment.

Mr. Griffin’s question stemmed from a video the men watched before the discussion, about former NFL linebacker Ray Lewis’s quest to restore his broken relationship with his father.

Seeking answers

But, for the first few minutes of the discussion, the men seemed at a loss to make the connection.

“You were trying to point to having a relationship,” said George Hilson, who wants to start a greeting card business.

“What does that have to do with starting a business?” Mr. Griffin asked.

Mr. Hilson had no real answer. “My father wasn’t around when I was growing up,” he said.

Anthony Jackson, who is starting a home improvement business, said, “Ray Lewis wanted a relationship with his father. He wanted that. And when you run your own business, you’ve got to want it. You’ve got to really, really want it, you know? You’ve got to stay focused on what you’re doing.”

Another man who appeared to be focused was Elliott Campbell, who wants to start his own security business, maintaining order in concert halls and nightclubs. He has worked in security for other firms and now is seeking to obtain a license to operate his own business.

“By-myself meeting”

He said he had a “by-myself meeting” to analyze his strengths and weaknesses. “And it helped. I could push a little harder in certain areas, but just highlighting those and identifying those, it helps because you can see what you need to work on,” he said.

Delroy Kerr is trying to grow his landscaping business and already has a crew of helpers and a truck with a plow. He said he has lasted for five years in the business because he never took anything for granted, and he broke the cycle of poverty in his family.

“My father, you know, never had education. Mom never graduated high school. So being the first college graduate is such a great accomplishment,” the recent Lincoln Tech grad said. “This [entrepreneurship] program gives me a backbone. Positive stays with positive.”

He said business is all about looking ahead, knowing where you want to be in two years or so. “I have a dream,” he said. “I can do it.”

Edward Crouch – his nickname is Boo – wants to start a custom clothing business with iron-on patches that say “My Boo Tee Shirt” or “My Boo Jeans.” He admits he has some catching up to do because he was incarcerated for many years. He too has a dream, but he sometimes wonders if that’s all it is.

“Sometimes you can’t take advantage of an opportunity,” he said.

“What do you mean by that?” Mr. Griffin said.

“I mean you have opportunity and sometimes the opportunity don’t pan out to be what it’s supposed to be. Sometimes you can, you know, you can go directly at something and it’s just not there,” Mr. Crouch said.

Intent and effect

“Well, sometimes you have what you call intent and effect,” Mr. Griffin said. “I believe that when you pursue good, good will come back to you. When you were doing wrong, you knew you were going wrong. But when you were doing right, God always looked out for you. And when you slip, you can’t give that to God. That’s you slipping.”

Mr. Crouch said to the group, “I’m staying above water. I haven’t been back in trouble when everybody thought I was going to be back in trouble, and from there I’ve been, like, surviving. I haven’t been in trouble in 15 years now.”

He added, “Once you got something that’s positive in your life, you can move on to do positive things. And if you’re the type of person that comes from that type of life where you’ve been in the limelight and everything, you still want that, but you know the consequences.”

Moureen Bish, family center director, said that a $300 incentive awaited each man whose business plan is approved. In addition, there are several “barrier removal” cash incentives to help with special goals like obtaining vendors’ licenses when needed.

Morgan P. Sones, director of community investments at The Hartford, which manages the program’s funding, sat in on the meeting.

She told the Transcript, “I’ve been working with Catholic Charities for about a year now. In this capacity and with this program, it’s a great opportunity to help support a need that Catholic Charities, such an important organization here locally, helped identify.”

She added, “We work with other partners on economic development, but this is specifically the only program that we sponsor locally that addresses fatherhood.”

Mr. Griffin offered one last thought for the men to consider. “Why is happiness something we have to pursue?” he asked.

Mr. Hilson suggested, “If you’re not happy, you can’t pursue your goals.”

Mr. Griffin said, “You need to commit yourself to your goals. Nothing’s going to come to you easily, because if it was, you would have it already.”

For more information on Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood and its Fathers’ Entrepreneurial Program, call 860-244-9944 or go to www.ccaoh.org

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.