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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BETHLEHEM – Reverend Mother Placid (Patricia Ann) Dempsey, 85, consecrated nun of the Abbey of Regina Laudis, died Sept. 27, 2012, at the abbey after a long illness. Mother Placid was an artist, poet and guest mistress for over 50 years.

She was the daughter of William Ambrose Dempsey and Kathleen Costello Dempsey. She received her bachelor’s degree in art from Marymount College in Tarrytown, N.Y., in 1949. In both high school and college she was awarded honors for her art.

She entered the monastery as a postulant on Aug. 18, 1949, one of the first American postulants, and received the name Sister Placid as a novice. She was perpetually professed and consecrated on the feast of the Ascension, June 3, 1954.

Besides her other ministries, Mother Placid was a council member and postulant mistress for a number of years, as well as mistress of ceremonies. She helped write and present in Rome the abbey’s first constitutions.

Her work as monastic artist included painting, graphics, vestment design, enamel, wood, stone and concrete sculpture, and book illustrations, notably the covers of several of the Classics of Western Spirituality series. Her work has been exhibited in galleries in this country and Europe, especially in New York City and Paris. Her hand-carved Stations of the Cross grace the walls of the lower monastery chapel at the abbey.

Mother Placid designed scenery for several abbey plays as well as for buildings used for the abbey fair. She was instrumental in the development of monastic crafts and supervised the renovation of the Monastic Art Shop to include an art gallery and display space.

In the abbey, Mother Placid taught classes in monastic history and spirituality, philosophy and the Rule of St. Benedict. She was much influenced in her early life by the writings of Jacques and Raissa Maritain, whom she later met when they visited Regina Laudis in 1949. She maintained scholarly and spiritual friendships with psychiatrist and author Dr. Karl A. Menninger and with Caryll Houselander, the English Catholic author. Among her most cherished relationships was the one with renowned children’s book illustrator Tomie dePaola, who first went to Regina Laudis as an art student.

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.