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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nwc Matt LecoursRob Leeds web

WEST HARTFORD – Northwest Catholic High School welcomed two graduates who are also United States military veterans for a Veterans Day assembly on Nov. 11.

Retired Navy Capt. Robert Leeds, ’73, right, and Army Capt. Matthew Lecours, ’05, addressed the student body about their experiences in the military and how they have influenced their lives.

Captain Leeds entered the Navy via the Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Fla., after attending Providence College, and was commissioned an ensign in 1979.

He earned his Naval Flight Officer wings with a specialty in electronic warfare and was assigned to a Fleet Air Reconnaissance squadron (VQ-2) in Rota, Spain. He was ultimately named the commanding officer of that squadron. He was assigned to the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, but was out of the building that day. Capt. Leeds retired from the Navy in 2004 after 26 years of service and then stayed on at the Pentagon for eight years on the Navy staff specializing in the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle development.

He is now a volunteer docent at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum and is an associate scout for the San Diego Padres baseball team.

Captain Leeds spoke about the types of missions he flew and the places he traveled to over his Navy career. He said his experiences showed him “how the rest of the world lives and works… how we’re different and how we’re the same.”

The retired captain also spoke about the sacrifices made by those in the military – time away from families – and honored those he knew who died in service to the nation, saying that they made the ultimate sacrifice.

Captain Lecours began his military career as a member of the Army ROTC program at the Uni-versity of Scranton in Pennsylvania, where he studied political science. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Adjutant General’s Corps in 2009 and was stationed with the 10th Mountain Division, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, in Fort Drum, N.Y., where he was a personnel officer for a field artillery battalion.

Captain Lecours deployed for 13 months to southeastern Afghanistan, where he lived on a small forward operating base called FOB Azizzula. He was responsible for the soldiers as they moved around the battlefield, and his team helped soldiers get their awards, promotions and evaluations. Upon his return, the captain was a brigade personnel officer, maintaining the levels of 76 unique occupational specialties in a 3,700-person brigade. He now works for Bloomberg LP.

He spoke about the realities of his deployment to Afghanistan and the work he did – what the conditions were like, how soldiers celebrated holidays overseas and what it was like working with the people of Afghanistan. He emphasized that while not everyone is able to serve their country in the military, everyone can still serve their country by helping each other.

“I really enjoyed the presentation,” said Brittney Lundy, ’16. “It was really intriguing to hear about everything they’ve experienced.”

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.