HARTFORD – Pope Francis has named the Very Rev. John J. Bevins, rector of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Waterbury, an honorary member of the papal household with the title of “monsignor.”
This traditional honor was conferred by the Holy Father at the request of Archbishop Leonard P. Blair of Hartford, on the occasion of Msgr. Bevins’ upcoming retirement as rector of the basilica after 57 years of priestly service in the Archdiocese of Hartford.
Ordained in 1958, Msgr. Bevins has been at the basilica for 24 years. He will celebrate his last Mass as rector there on Sunday, June 28.
He says that he will miss the interaction with his parishioners the most.
“They are very faithful, wonderful people,” he says.
Msgr. Bevins is a native of Waterbury. He will remain in the city in his retirement. He attended the former St. Francis Xavier School, now Francis Xavier Plaza, an affordable housing development, and Sacred Heart High School, both in Waterbury.
He said he is looking forward to cultivating his flower garden, a hobby that was passed down to him by his mother.
“I’ve been raising hardy plants, which don’t require too much attention. Now I can spend more time on other flowers and maybe even create a butterfly garden,” he says.
In addition to his assignment to the basilica, Msgr. Bevins was a chaplain in the United States Navy and also served at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford.
Archbishop Blair will celebrate the Vigil Mass at the basilica at 4:15 p.m. June 13 to present the official document from the Holy See to Msgr. Bevins.
“When the archbishop told me about this honor, I was flabbergasted. I am very grateful to him,” Msgr. Bevins said.