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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synagogue 6848 a web 2Faith leaders, including Archbishop Leonard P. Blair and Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Peter A. Rosazza gather with Rabbi Herbert Brockman before an interfaith service at Congregation Mishkan Israel in Hamden to go over the program and pose for a photo for the rabbi, who annually organizes the event in tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky)

HAMDEN — Archbishop Leonard P. Blair joined 20 religious leaders and clergy Jan. 13 for the sixth annual interfaith service paying tribute to the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at Congregation Mishkan Israel, where the civil rights leader spoke 56 years ago.

“Any occasion that brings people together in mutual dialogue is something we should always support,” said Archbishop Blair, who gave the benediction for the gathering. “It’s a chance for us to come together in a spirit of peace and non-violence.”

He was joined by Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Peter A. Rosazza, who offered a peace prayer during the opening moments of the service and recalled Dr. King’s dream of bringing people together.

“He knew that each person deserves respect … each life is of inestimable value,” Bishop Rosazza said.

The guest speaker was Stephen B. Bright, professor at the Yale University Law School and president and senior counsel at the Southern Center for Human Rights, who used the occasion to address the political turmoil that has resulted from the presidential campaign and election.

Bright, who praised the legacy of Dr. King, told the standing-room-only gathering, “Now what he fought for is in jeopardy.” He urged the congregation to speak out about such societal problems as a court system in need of reform, restrictive voting rights and bias against refugees.

Noting that “silence always helps the oppressor,” he encouraged his audience to speak out against injustice. “We always need to ask, ‘Could we be doing more?’” he said.

“Let us recommit … to open our eyes, ears and hearts to the needs of others so we can make this a better world,” said Bright.

Rabbi Herbert Brockman, who organized the annual event, event, said, “Our future is unclear,” he said. “There is so much negativity in the way people talk today…so much anger and fear. We need to care for each other and take care of each other.”

The service included hymns from an interfaith choir, a performance by the Davis School Children’s Choir and a performance of “Deep River” by Tiffany Jackson.

Congregation Mishkan Israel also welcomed 10 homeless guests, who were being housed by the Congregation from Jan 9-16 through the Abraham’s Tent program.

Also attending the service from the Archdiocese of Hartford were Father George S. Mukuka, judicial vicar pro tem on the metropolitan tribunal; and Father Timothy Meehan, who resides at St. Bernadette Parish in New Haven.

Father Meehan told the Catholic Transcript magazine that he was just feet away from Dr. King when he delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington in 1963, and later was part of the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965.

The legacy of Dr. King at Congregation Mishkan Israel dates back to Oct. 21, 1960, when he was invited to dedicate the community’s new synagogue. However, two days before he was to speak, Dr. King was arrested. The following year, the community invited the civil rights leader to be its guest preacher on Oct. 20, 1961.

To preserve his attendance as an historic moment, Congregation Mishkan Israel initiated the annual service following Dr. King’s assassination in 1968. Six years ago, the event became an interfaith service with invitations extended to faith leaders from Jewish, Catholic, Christian, Muslim, Baha'i, Unitarian Universalist, Quaker and other traditions.

A reform synagogue, Congregation Mishkan Israel is the 14th oldest Jewish congregation in the United States, and the oldest continuously operating one in New England.

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.