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 23, 1976 when Archbishop Henry J. O'Brien passed away.
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FatherJeffreyGubbiotti apr16 webFather Jeffrey Gubbiotti

HARTFORD – If you agree that the Archdiocese of Hartford needs more parish priests and you believe in the power of prayer, you’re invited to join the St. John Vianney Vocation Prayer Society, a new apostolate for “vocation advocates” that is being formed by the Office of Vocations.

The new apostolate will replace the former Serra Club, which has declined in membership in recent years. The Office of Vocations is inviting the remaining Serra members to join a new prayer group along with other new members who might bring fresh energy and new ideas around new events, said Father Jeffrey A. Gubbiotti, vocation director.

The prayer group is being named for St. John Vianney, who is known as the patron saint of parish priests. The members will be asked to pray for diocesan priests and deacons, married couples and religious brothers and sisters.

“We chose the name ‘St. John Vianney’ because he is the patron saint for all vocations, but our particular focus is for Hartford priests,” Father Gubbiotti said.

Why the emphasis on prayer when it comes to vocations?

“It’s all about prayer. It’s not just pious prattle,” Father Gubbiotti said. “A vocation is a mystery between the person and God. It’s not something that can be recruited. We need to pray to the master of the vineyard to increase the harvest.”

Members of the new society will commit to pray daily for vocations in any number of ways, including by praying the rosary or a decade of the rosary, specific vocation prayers and through their Mass intentions.

“We need them to pray in whatever way they are able to. Even someone who is homebound can participate,” Father Gubbiotti said. “There will be no dues, no meetings. What they can do is the real work at hand.”

Members will also be asked to attend at least one holy hour for vocations per year to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Holy Hours will be held around the archdiocese, and one is currently being planned for sometime in May, Father Gubbiotti said.

Members will also be invited to ordination events and days of recollection, which will allow them to meet, get to know and pray with the archdiocese’s seminarians. “It’s a little opportunity to feed each other in prayer,” he explained.

Just as important, members will also be asked to encourage new vocations by inviting individuals to consider the priesthood or religious life.

“If they see someone called to a vocation, they should offer that person an invitation,” Father Gubbiotti said. “Studies show individuals need at least three people to invite them before they explore the question” of whether or not they have a vocation.

An invitation to a vocation, “a simple little encouragement,” can come from anyone, Father Gubbiotti said. “It’s a personal invitation. That’s the key.”

What should members look for in future priests? “If they see any character traits they’d like to see in their own priest – someone who is kind, a good listener or good with kids – just put it on the radar screen for people,” he advised.

For prayer group members interested in taking a more active role, the Office of Vocations has created a sub-apostolate called the St. Thérèse Support Circle. Members of this segment will be asked to volunteer their time and talent to support vocation-related events.

Members can sign on to stuff envelopes, do data entry, make phone calls, usher at ordinations, read at holy hours or bake for receptions.

The archdiocese currently has 22 men in seven different seminaries, Father Gubbiotti said, and three candidates in the application process.

Several seminarians have answered the call to the priesthood after years spent in a secular career. According to Father Gubbiotti, the current group includes an attorney, a member of the Coast Guard, a scientist, a sportswriter, a real estate agent and a construction worker.

To join the St. John Vianney Vocation Prayer Society, email your name and contact information, as well as your parish name and location, to vocations@aohct.org or call 860-761-7457.  Information is also online at hartfordpriest.com.

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.