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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crs awiapoThomas Awiapo

BLOOMFIELD – The Archbishop O’Brien Library will team with the Archdiocese of Hartford’s Office for Catholic Social Justice Ministry in presenting a talk by Thomas Awiapo, a Catholic Relief Services (CRS) field expert, from 10:30 a.m. to noon Oct. 29. He will talk about his experiences with CRS.

One of four orphaned brothers, Mr. Awiapo says that he went to bed at night crying from hunger. Born into extreme poverty in northern Ghana, Thomas and his brothers crouched over a single bowl to share what little food they had.

Thomas’s two younger brothers eventually died from malnutrition. His older brother walked off one day never to be seen again.

“We’d wake up with no breakfast. We had no idea what lunch was. We cried for food,” Mr. Awiapo recalls.

One day, he smelled lunch cooking at a CRS-supported school and it changed his life. Like millions of children who have received meals provided by CRS, a daily meal lured him into the classroom and kept him coming back.

Today, Mr. Awiapo travels annually to parishes, schools and groups nationwide to tell his story to American Catholics as part of the CRS Rice Bowl Hunger Awareness Speakers’ Tour.

“I come from a family that knows nothing about education. I started to go to school simply to have lunch,” says Mr. Awiapo, who holds a master’s degree from California State University. He will share his story of the mud hut of his childhood and the school that he says “empowered me for life.”

The program, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary, 467 Bloomfield Ave., Bloomfield.

Refreshments will be served. The organizers recommend registration by calling 860-242-5573, ext. 2608 or 2623. Information about the program is available at 860-242-5573, ext. 2689.

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.