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 17, 1891 when Bishop Lawrence S. McMahon dedicated St. Bernard Church, Enfield.
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four standouts gianna prolife medal webSt. Gianna Beretta Molla medal (Photo by Bob Mullen)

HARTFORD – Archbishop Leonard P. Blair honored parishioners in the archdiocese for promoting awareness of respect for life – from conception to natural death – at the annual Respect Life Mass on Oct. 9 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph.

“One might say that it is the best of times and the worst,” Archbishop Blair told the congregation during his homily. “It’s the worst because … threats to life are being advanced on all fronts. The best because, by the grace of God, many upright people of good will are defending life and awakening the consciences of others to respect life.

“In the face of every threat, they remain steadfast in the belief that from each tiny child waiting to be born to individuals nearing death, all are precious, all deserve care and protection,” the archbishop said.

“Without God, without obedience to his commandments, we are nothing, never will be and never could be. This is a truth that our society is forgetting at its peril, not just in eternity but in this world, too,” he stressed.

“If, then, we are people of faith, we will understand and embrace being sent forth at the end of Mass,” the archbishop said to all, especially to the pro-life representatives being commissioned that day to go out and proclaim the Gospel of God’s love for man, the Gospel of the dignity of the human person and the Gospel of life.

At the Mass, the archbishop presented the St. Gianna Beretta Molla Award to four recipients for their sustained and dedicated commitment to protecting all human life. The award – a citation and bronze medal – was presented to Father Thomas J. Walsh, pastor of Most Holy Trinity  Parish in Wallingford; Thomas Dwyer, parish pro-life representative at St. Joseph Church in Bristol; and Thomas and Donna Finn, advocates for life and marriage.

The award is named for Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, a physician, working mother and wife who sacrificed her life to preserve the life of her child.

Father Robert J. Rousseau, director of the Pro-Life Ministry for the Archdiocese of Hartford, shared the accomplishments of each award winner with those in attendance.

Father Walsh has been a leader on numerous issues that impact the dignity of the human person. He has defended religious liberty and life at every stage. He attends the March for Life in Washington, D.C., each year and he founded a pro-life committee at Most Holy Trinity in Wallingford.

Mr. Dwyer has led his parish pro-life committee at St. Joseph’s in Bristol, and taught religious education for 10 years. He is committed to the 40 Days for Life campaign, which he helped organize in Hartford, and he continues to pray at the abortion clinic in Hartford year-round.

Dr. and Mrs. Finn have been the presenting team for the Engaged Encounter marriage preparation retreat for more than 30 years, and they coordinate the annual archdiocesan Marriage Enrichment Program. Together they wrote three books about Catholic marriage and human sexuality. Dr. Finn, a clinical psychologist, has testified at the capitol in defense of marriage and in opposition to physician-assisted suicide.

At the Mass, Archbishop Blair also commissioned new parish pro-life representatives for the Pro-Life Ministry. They were appointed by their pastors.

During the commissioning ceremony, dozens of representatives from throughout the archdiocese stood and pledged to work with their pastor to pray, educate, shape public policy and help men and women who may experience a pregnancy-related crisis and those grappling with end-of-life issues.

The archbishop presented the pro-life representatives with blessed candles as a sign of their witness.

In past years, pro-life representatives have worked to educate their parishes about any number of issues, including marriage, embryonic stem cell research, abortion, parental notification, assisted suicide, euthanasia, death penalty, assisted reproductive technology, chastity, and religious liberty and the HHS mandate.

Approximately 45 young adults from St. Paul High School in Bristol attended the Mass, and they stood and pledged to be Students for Life and to study the Gospel of life.

“I’m so happy to see St. Paul High School young men and women here, represented so beautifully and powerfully in our midst,” Archbishop Blair said.

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.