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 21, 1934 when Father James J. Kane offered Madison's first Mass in Madison's Memorial Town Hall.
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hob awardsSisters of St. Joseph Maureen Faenza, left, and Theresa Fonti, co-founders and co-directors of House of Bread, attend a breakfast in Hartford’s Bond Ballroom Nov. 5, where they received lifetime achievement awards for the Hartford soup kitchen that has served tens of thousands of people since 1980. (Photo by Jack Sheedy)HARTFORD – Sisters Maureen Faenza and Theresa Fonti, co-founders and co-directors of the House of Bread, were honored at a breakfast in Hartford’s Bond Ballroom Nov. 5 with Hartford Business Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Awards.

They joined award recipients Edwin “Ted” May III, founder and chair of the First Tee of Connecticut; Joe Savage, president of Webster Bank; and Richard Sugarman, founding president of Hartford Promise, a scholarship provider.

Sisters of St. Joseph Maureen and Theresa founded House of Bread on Feb. 4, 1980, on High Street, when they began serving coffee and stale donuts to a handful of Hartford’s poor.

From its present location at 1453 Main St., it now includes a thrift shop and addresses such needs as hunger, shelter, transitional living, affordable housing, education and job training.

“I grew up in a family where hard work was very important,” Sister Maureen told the more than 250 people attending the annual breakfast, which was sponsored by CohnReznick, an accounting, tax and advisory group; and the Pita Group, House of Bread’s marketing group, which nominated the sisters.

Sister Theresa said that when they began 35 years ago, they didn’t foresee that it would grow from 17 people the first day to more than 1,800 meals a week today.

“We serve over 500 children every afternoon,” she said, referring to their Kids’ Café, operated in conjunction with local Boys and Girls Clubs. “We are a four-star soup kitchen. The dream unfolded because the need was here, and we responded to the need.”

During a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Ted Sergi, founding CEO and president of the Connecticut Science Center, Sister Maureen said, “I think we need to offer opportunities, to speak up for the young people and let them know that there is a place for them to give of themselves.”

Sister Theresa added, “I tell myself every day that I should meet everybody where he or she is.”

Dr. Sergi asked Sister Maureen for some final thoughts. Sister Maureen said, “Laugh more, worry less and appreciate every day.”

Dr. Sergi turned to the audience and said, “Take a minute to write that down.”

The event was moderated by Joe Zwiebel, president and publisher of Hartford Business Journal; Donna Collins, the Journal’s associate publisher; and Ed Kindelan, regional managing partner with New England CohnReznick.

For more information about House of Bread, go to

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.