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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DARIEN – Shepherds Inc., an organization providing support to at-risk youth in Connecticut, recently marked its 15th anniversary with a dinner at Woodway Country Club, featuring New York Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira as guest speaker.

Shepherds reaches out to at-risk youth who suffer from inadequate financial and familial resources. Guidance counselors fear that they will fall through the cracks in inner city public schools, where dropout rates soar as high as 54.9 percent. Sponsors pay all or part of the students’ four-year tuition, and mentors provide guidance.

"The best and the brightest always have opportunities," said Barnet Phillips IV, Shepherds’ co-founder. "They can get themselves through high school and into college. We wanted to help kids who are at risk, who are not necessarily reading or doing math at grade level."

Shepherds has had a 12-year partnership with Notre Dame High School of West Haven, during which it has helped 69 young men.

Jonathan Kearney, Shepherds/Notre Dame of West Haven alumni speaker (’05), said, "I value those in Shepherds who have made a sacrifice for me to have a chance to do better." A 2009 graduate of Quinnipiac University who is pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree at Southern Connecticut State University, Mr. Kearney has returned as a mentor to his alma mater. He wants to be an architect and build a house for his mother.

Another student said, "I do not want where I come from to determine who I will become. I can do great things." Another student said, "My Dad always said that I would never make anything of myself so I want to prove that I can achieve goals, work hard and succeed in life."

Since its inception, Shepherds has offered hope to more than 270 students from Bridgeport, Danbury, Middletown, New Haven, Norwalk and Stamford. More than 90 percent of its 179 students have pursued higher education. Its current population is 91 students.

Shepherds is recruiting sponsors and mentors for fall 2014. To learn more about the program, call 203-367-4273, email or visit

"Becoming a sponsor and mentor is not an insignificant commitment, but it’s well worth it," adds co-founder Brendan Fisk. "It speaks to a person’s heart – to reach an inner-city kid and help them change their life. That’s the premise Shepherds is based on."

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.