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 20, 1971 when parishioners settled on a site for the new St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Oxford.
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archabbot lambert reillyArchabbot Lambert Reilly

HARTFORD – Mercy is a point of emphasis in this jubilee year of the Catholic Church. To that end, Pope Francis sent forth Missionaries of Mercy to spread the word and encourage the faithful to live a merciful life and seek forgiveness for their transgressions.

One of those special missionaries, Archabbot Lambert Reilly, a Benedictine priest, concelebrated a Mass April 10 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph with its rector, Father James A. Shanley. Archabbot Reilly is one of 125 priests in the United States chosen by the pope for this task during a special ceremony at the Vatican on Ash Wednesday.

The 82-year-old prelate didn’t seek the special designation but was nominated by the Archbishop of Indianapolis and approved by the Vatican. Archabbot Reilly said he is quite familiar with the Archdiocese of Hartford, having visited the Apostles of the Sacred Heart in Hamden several times. He also led retreats and parish missions at various churches.

He is retired as the archabbot of St. Meinrad Archabbey in southern Indiana.

“I’ve been coming to this archdiocese for 15 years,” he said. “I have had more than half of the American bishops on retreat” including Archbishop Leonard Blair and Archbishop Emeritus Daniel Cronin.

Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Peter Rosazza spent a sabbatical at St. Meinrad.

Archabbot Reilly is pleased to be spreading the word of mercy and said the church needs to focus more on that topic. He wants to see many more people benefit from the mercy that is available to them through the sacrament of reconciliation.

“There are a number of people who are afraid to approach the sacrament. The only sin that can’t be forgiven is the refusal to be forgiven,” he said.

“We speak of mercy as being God’s best face. It is totally of God. Mercy is love’s best face,” he added.

He further described it as love pushed to the wall. During his homily, he emphasized that even the Twelve Apostles were prone to weakness and sin and needed to seek forgiveness.

The key is that those who wish to receive mercy must first give it to others, including those they may deem unworthy of such a gift.

“If we want mercy, we must give mercy,” he said.

Archabbot Reilly said a jubilee year is the perfect time for Catholics to, as he put it, get their heads on straight.

The Missionaries of Mercy are empowered by the pope to forgive several serious sins that, until now, only the Holy See could forgive, such as willful desecration of the Eucharist and a confessor’s breaking of the sacramental seal.

Archabbot Reilly professed vows as a Benedictine monk in 1956 and was ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood in 1959. From 1995 to 2004, he served as the eighth abbot and fifth archabbot at Saint Meinrad. Following his resignation as archabbot, he returned to his work of preaching and retreats on issues of spirituality and prayer.

He has conducted parish missions throughout the nation and has been a frequent retreat master for Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in the United States and India. He knew the late nun well.

Archabbot Reilly is also an educator. He taught Latin and education courses at St. Meinrad College, Mount Sacred Heart College in Hamden and Penn State University. In the 1970s, he served as principal of St. Elizabeth High School in Pittsburgh and was a consultant to the Office of Education in the Diocese of Peoria, Ill.

He is also an author. Archabbot Reilly wrote Because There Is Jesus (Abbey Press, 1997), a collection of his homilies and conferences, and Latin Sayings for Spiritual Growth (Our Sunday Visitor Press, 2001), which offers spiritual reflections on some of his favorite Latin sayings and New Testament quotes.

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.