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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Obit-Johnson_MsgrCharlesBLOOMFIELD – Msgr. Charles Birkery Johnson, 78, of the Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin Residence, former rector of St. Thomas Seminary and former rector of the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford, died on Sept. 22 at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford.

He was the director of the Mission Office of the Archdiocese of Hartford at the time of his death.

Born on Nov. 8, 1932, in Manchester, he was the son of the late Charles H. and Rosalie (Riordan) Johnson. He graduated from St. James School in Manchester and studied at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield before completing his studies at the Basselin Foundation in Washington and The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

He was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Henry J. O’Brien on May 26, 1960, at St. Lawrence O’Toole Church in Hartford.

Then-Father Johnson assisted at St. Pius X Parish in Wolcott, St. Patrick in Collinsville and St. Brendan in New Haven from 1960-62, then became an instructor at St. Thomas Seminary in 1963. He was named vice rector of St. Thomas Seminary in 1975 and rector in 1980. He was appointed as administrator of the seminary in 1985.

He also was appointed as a minister of confirmation in 1985-86.

In 1995, he was appointed a prelate of honor with the title of monsignor.

In June 1986, he was appointed rector/pastor of the Cathedral of St. Joseph. In 1991, he was appointed to a three-year term as vicar for priests, a position to which he was reappointed in 1997 and 2000. In December 2001, he also served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in South Windsor.

Msgr. Johnson was appointed pastor emeritus of St. James in Manchester in September 2003. From 2005-2007, when he started a medical leave of absence, he was the administrator and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Wallingford.

Msgr. Johnson retired in September 2007, but became director of the Mission Office in September 2010.

He is survived locally by his cousins Mary Spellman of Norwich and Kevin Riordan of Simsbury, and by other cousins.

Archbishop Henry J. Mansell was the principal celebrant of a Mass of Christian Burial on Sept. 26 in the chapel at the Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary. Msgr. Gerard G. Schmitz, vicar for priests and president/rector of St. Thomas Seminary, preached the homily.

In his remarks, Archbishop Mansell said that the chalice used during the funeral Mass was given to Msgr. Johnson by his parents on his day of ordination.

Burial was in St. James Cemetery in Manchester.

Memorial donations may be made to St. Thomas Seminary, 467 Bloomfield Ave., Bloomfield, CT 06002 or to the Archdiocesan Mission Office at St. Thomas Seminary, 467 Bloomfield Ave., Bloomfield, CT 06002.


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.