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 22, 1960 when ground was broken for St. Philip Church, East Windsor.
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rosary rally 059 webPeople recite the rosary while walking in a procession behind a statue of Our Lady of Fatima around the Waterbury Green as part of the 28th annual Rosary Rally on Oct. 1. (Photo by Jack Sheedy)WATERBURY – More than 200 people recited the rosary as they followed a statue of the Blessed Mother around the Waterbury Green Oct. 1, kicking off the 100th anniversary month of the first apparitions of Mary to three Portuguese children at Fatima.

It was the 28th annual archdiocesan rosary rally, held this year at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and organized by Lorraine Greski of Ansonia.

Father James Sullivan, pastor of Assumption Church in Ansonia, spoke on “Mary: How Humility Leads to God.” He outlined the seven heavenly virtues and their corresponding deadly sins: humility against pride, kindness against envy, abstinence against gluttony, chastity against lust, patience against anger, generosity against greed and diligence against sloth.

He stressed that sin is real, that we are all sinners and need forgiveness. He said, “The six most difficult words for a Catholic to say are, ‘Bless me, Father. I have sinned.’”

The rosary, he said, is a powerful tool to keep Satan at bay. He confessed that he does not say the rosary as often as he feels he should, but he is making an effort.

He said we should be saying, “I’m sorry for saying yes when I should have said no. I’m sorry for saying no when I should have said yes.”

He said, “The more we say no to self, the more we’re capable of saying yes to Christ. The more we go on saying yes to self and seeking a comfort level, then before you know it we find ourselves saying yes to things we should be saying no to and no to things we should be saying yes to.”

Father Christopher Ford, rector of the basilica, opened the program by saying he was pleased with the high turnout to celebrate the anniversary of Fatima.

He quoted St. John Paul the Great’s letter of Oct. 16, 2002, in his 25th year of his pontificate. Pope John Paul II was quoting Blessed Bartolo Longo when he wrote: “O Blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet chain which unites us to God, bond of love which unites us to the angels, tower of salvation against the assaults of Hell, safe port in our universal shipwreck, we will never abandon you. You will be our comfort in the hour of death: yours our final kiss as life ebbs away.”

Msgr. John J. Bevins, former rector of the basilica and now a senior priest, said, “Let’s hope that with your prayers, the Blessed Mother is going to be able to hold Jesus’ hand back.”

Elaine B. Atiyeh of Canton, former coordinator of the annual rally, said the event began in 1990 as a seven-day “Rosary Congress,” with conferences at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Atiyeh and Father Stanley Smolenski, then assistant pastor at St. Martha's in Enfield, organized a scaled-down rosary rally until 2002, she said.

Until recently, the event was held at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford. To keep the rally manageable, it was a one-day event, but it was still three hours long. In the past several years, the rosary rally has lasted about 90 minutes.

She said it was Father Ford’s idea this year to add a procession around the green, in addition to one inside the basilica.

Asked why she believes in the rosary, Atiyeh said, “We are Fatima people. We follow the message of Fatima. Marian people have a devotion to Our Lady and we respond to her requests. Her request was to pray the rosary.”

Elizabeth Kola, a New York resident who works in Waterbury, said, “It’s very important to honor Our Blessed Mother.”

She said, “My grandfather built a church in Kosovo dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima. On the day that I was born [in Kosovo], he had a vision that the Blessed Mother opened a special door for him and she welcomed him to the true life, heaven. I’m from a very Catholic and a beautiful family.”

Joyce Roslar attended with 11 other members of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Naugatuck. She said, “We are here to support world peace. We get to the Blessed Mother by praying. We do rosaries together and just to feel the spirit of Mary being there and coming to help us.”

Fellow parishioner Suzanne Rodrigues added, “We want to bring the world together for peace.”

Another parishioner, Sue White, said simply, “We need prayer.”

Peter Wolfgang, executive director of Family Institute of Connecticut, said this was the first rosary rally he has attended, but it was important because it marked the 100th anniversary of Fatima. Mary warned three small shepherd children then of the evils of communism, he said.

“The Soviet Union collapsed 25 years ago, but in a way cultural Marxism is still with us today, with all the attacks on the family and on human life in the womb and the true definition of marriage and other attacks against procreation,” he said.

“We very much still need our Lady of Fatima,” he said. “Mary is the strongest saint there is. She crushes the head of the serpent and she is the one who can defeat it if we stand with her and do as she says.”

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.