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 email@example.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.