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 16, 1978 when the first Mass was held at St. Monica Church, Northford.
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nadolny billboard0115 4 webOne of Father Edmund Nadolny's billboards, in Hartford adjacent to I-91 southbound. (Photo by Bob Mullen/The Catholic Photographer)

BLOOMFIELD – If you have noticed billboards that invite you to pray, “I love you – Jesus,” you have been drawn into Father Edmund Nadolny’s prayer billboard campaign to form a parish without borders.

 The blue and white billboards, which bear those words, a silhouette of Jesus and Father Nadolny’s name and telephone number, have been attracting attention for several weeks along Routes 8, 9, 89, 91 and 95 as well as some local roads.

“It can be read from two viewpoints. Either the driver is saying ‘I love you Jesus,’ or Jesus is saying, ‘I love you,’ explained Father Nadolny.

In either case, he said, it’s a prayer.

“Prayer is banned in the schools, but these billboards, so far, have not been banned,” said Father Nadolny, who retired last June from the pastorate of Sacred Heart Parish in East Berlin and now lives at the Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin Residence in Bloomfield.

He said that the campaign to encourage prayer outside of schools is being funded by private donations to his Good News Fund, which also has supported his numerous other evangelization and charitable projects over the past 35 years.

Father Nadolny said he gets several calls a day, day and night.

“Drivers are calling to give thanks for a short reminder to pray.  Many people are calling for prayers, like a man with cancer or the mother who was filled with tearful hope after reading the billboard on her way to visit her son in the Hartford prison on drug charges.

“A couple stood under the billboard while it was raining and called in the middle of the night asking for shelter,” Father Nadolny said.

Anyone who calls the phone number on the billboard, which is 860-335-2342, or emails Father Nadolny at fngoodnews@aol.com receives a small hand-held cross bearing the words, “I love you Jesus.”

Father Nadolny said he has 5,000 crosses to give away.

The billboard effort to build a parish without borders is just the latest of Father Nadolny’s many uses of the medium.

The priest, who will be 82 on Feb. 18, said he has been putting up billboards, on and off and to varying degrees, for 35 years.

The priest has been called “God’s salesman” by the Republican-American in Waterbury because his billboards have become such fixtures in the state.

Other billboards over the years have said, “Jesus, Mary, I love you,” “Thank you Jesus” and  “Lord, help me remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that you and I together cannot handle.”

“I did those when I had a parish, so now that I’m retired I’m building a different kind of parish, a parish without borders,” he said.

He is no stranger to the media. A former director of the Archdiocese of Hartford’s Office of Radio and Television, Father Nadolny’s voice and face are familiar to many people in the state.

A 1982 New York Times story about him said, “Father Nadolny quite likely is, other than Archbishop John H. Whealon of Hartford, the most public Roman Catholic in Connecticut.”

His website (fathernadolnygoodnews.com) lists a number of his Good News Fund’s current and past projects, including a donation of almost $260,000 to churches and schools in Mexico, Chile and other countries. 

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.