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 17, 1891 when Bishop Lawrence S. McMahon dedicated St. Bernard Church, Enfield.
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vacation-bible-webNEW HAVEN – Summer was in full swing at St. Aedan/St. Brendan Parish, where 33 children from kindergarten through eighth grade attended Vacation Bible Camp June 30 to July 3 and helped celebrate the camp’s 30th anniversary.

This year’s theme was Soul Train. Onlookers found it hard to decide who was having more fun, the campers or program director Deacon Joseph Ryzewski.

“I love trains,” said Deacon Ryzewski, wearing a train conductor’s hat, as he toured the renamed rooms in the St. Aedan Parish’s former convent – Hobo Junction, Round House, Way Station, Rail Yard and Salvation Junction. Plenty of activities also took place outside.

“We show how all roads lead to Jesus,” said Deacon Ryzewski. “[Through] stories from the Old and New Testaments, they learn how God has a plan for us, and Jesus ties it all together. God is our engine who helps to keep us on track, even as we go through the peaks and valleys of life.”

It was his wife Kathy who started the camp three decades ago with a group of St. Aedan’s parents. Since then, the Bible camp has drawn 2,400 children from the parish and neighborhood, who come to discover the treasures of the Bible through study, music, crafts, science, drama and other activities, even a sack race.

“I think it’s fun because that’s how I learn about religion and the stories in the Bible,” said Laura Nowalk, age 9, who travels from Virginia every year to stay with her grandmother and attend camp. “And I get to sing songs.”

The program is open to children of all faith traditions and is free of charge. Teen and adult leaders, teachers and aides volunteer their time for the week. Among them is Sister Jeanne Marie Vonder Haar, a member of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pastoral associate, who serves the inner-city parish with its pastor, Father Thomas Shepard.

“I think it’s been a blessing,” said Deacon Ryzewski on the success of the camp. “This is what we’re called to do as Christians, to spread the Good News.”

The parish had a celebration after a Mass on June 29 to recognize the camp’s benefactors, teachers and alumni and to kick off the weeklong program.

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.