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 23, 1976 when Archbishop Henry J. O'Brien passed away.
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MARYKNOLL, N.Y. – Maryknoll Father Robert R. Lefebvre died at Mission St. Teresa’s Residence in Maryknoll on May 28, 2016. He was 86 years old and a Maryknoll priest for 58 years.

He was born on Sept. 4, 1930, in Manchester, N.H. In 1941, his family moved to New Britain, where he attended St. Mary School and then St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield. After graduating in 1950, he entered the Maryknoll order.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Maryknoll College in Glen Ellyn, Ill. (1952). Father Lefebvre also held a bachelor’s degree in theology and a master’s degree in religious education from Maryknoll Seminary in Ossining, N.Y.

Father Lefebvre is survived by his sister, Constance Doyon of New Britain, and cousins.

Father Lefebvre professed his perpetual oath on June 7, 1956. After his ordination on June 8, 1957, Father Lefebvre was assigned to Tanzania, East Africa. He built a maternity hospital and served in a number of parishes in the Diocese of Shinyanga.

In 1972, Father Lefebvre was assigned to Indonesia. He represented the Indonesia Episcopal Conference on the Island of Galang, where the Vietnamese “boat people” were sheltered after their escape from the Communist government. He managed the financial donations forwarded through the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Soon after, he assisted Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in distributing food and medicine in East Timor. After East Timor was hit by an earthquake, Father Lefebvre  investigated damages and initiated programs to assist victims for the CRS office in New York.

From 1976-81, Father Lefebvre served as the English secretary to Archbishop Vincenzo Farano, the apostolic nuncio to Indonesia, as well as in a parish. He also ministered in a parish in the Diocese of Bogor, where he then developed and was pastor of two parishes.

Father Lefebvre was recalled to the United States and assigned to the Maryknoll Development Department in 1990. He was director of the Maryknoll Development House in New York City. He later was appointed director of the Eastern Area.

In 1994, Father Lefebvre was appointed procurator general for the Maryknoll Society with residence in Rome. He served as Maryknoll’s official representative to the Holy See and to the various congregations, councils and commissions of the Roman Catholic Curia of the Vatican in Rome.

Father Lefebvre returned to the United States in May 1997 and once again was assigned to the Development Department. In September 1997, he was assigned to a parish on the island of Eleuthera and then to a parish in the Archdiocese of Nassau, Bahamas.

Although he retired in 1999, Father Lefebvre remained active, serving as a judge/advocate on the Metropolitan Marriage Tribunal and continuing his ministry at St. Paul the Apostle parish until 2009, when he returned to Maryknoll.

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.