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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pg5-school-mass-bannerspg5-school-Students carry colorful school banners in a procession at a “Back to School” Mass on Sept. 7 in the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford. (Photo by Karen O. Bray)

HARTFORD – Colorful banners and a procession in the Cathedral of St. Joseph were part of of a prayerful celebration of the kickoff of the school year on Sept. 7.

Archbishop Leonard P. Blair was the principal celebrant of the “Back to School Mass,” hosted by the Archdiocese of Hartford’s Office of Catholic Schools to inaugurate the 2014-15 school year.

After welcoming the nearly 1,500 people, Dale R. Hoyt, superintendent of schools, stood at the foot of the sanctuary to receive school representatives in a procession of Catholic school banners.

Dr. Hoyt said the banners “underscore the Catholic identity, mission, uniqueness and gifts represented by our schools.”

Addressing educators, parents and students, he described a “network of Catholic schools committed to a vision whereby the student encounters the living God; in which educators foster a culture of educational excellence, promote lifelong learning and develop the whole person; and one in which parents and educators partner.”

Archbishop Blair began his homily by saying how good it was to see all of the colorful banners displayed in the sanctuary, pointing out that they symbolized the drawing together of different types of people in harmony, in keeping with our Lord’s words: When we are together, he is in our midst and hears all our prayers.

Citing the story of Cain and Abel from the day’s Mass readings, the archbishop said the lesson is that “we are our brother’s and sister’s keeper, not just for the good of their bodies, but also for the good of their souls. The most neighborly thing we can wish for another person is that they know Jesus Christ and his church.”

He assured the congregation that heaven “is not a slam-dunk for anyone.”

The archbishop went on, “When God confronts Cain and asks, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ Cain lies and he says, ‘I do not know,’ and then he adds a snarky question back to God. He says, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’

“Now,” said the archbishop, “when you and I are [concerned] about something bad or mean that we have done to somebody else, aren’t we tempted to be a lot like Cain?

“Instead,” the archbishop continued, “when somebody does something to you at school, don’t walk away mad … don’t write them off … and, certainly, don’t talk about them behind their back. Pray to God for him to help them.

“In serious things,” the archbishop continued, “talk to your teachers; talk to people who might be able to help. It is not just about what you learn, but the kind of person you become. That’s the measure of a true education.”

Archbishop Blair then presided over the commissioning of Catholic school leaders, all of whom rose to pledge their commitment and service.

Each school’s representative then received a candle blessed by Archbishop Blair and emblazoned with the archdiocesan emblem and the benchmarks of Catholic school excellence. Schools will light these candles at key events throughout the year, in the words of Dr. Hoyt, “to remind us that we are the light of Christ.”

Audrey Pond, a sophomore at East Catholic High School, said that she appreciated Archbishop Blair’s message.

“If someone’s ever mean to you, don’t fight back … be nice to them. Especially in the world of technology, it’s sad how when you turn on the TV there’s sin everywhere. It’s good to go to a school like East Catholic where we go to Mass together every month and pray together every day.”

Mary Mitchell, a kindergarten teacher at Assumption School in Manchester, said, “I think it’s wonderful that they can bring all the different school communities together under one roof to celebrate another year in Catholic education. It’s always awesome to see how many Catholic parents choose a Catholic education for their kids.”

Students from Sacred Heart High School in Waterbury boarding their bus for home shared some thoughts. Brandon Arnold, a senior, said, “I was very excited to be here to welcome Archbishop Blair in this beautiful cathedral.” Katie Grendzinski, also a senior, was happy to have been among 10 from the school in the choir and among the 25 students present from Sacred Heart.

Information about the schools in the archdiocese is available at

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.