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 17, 1891 when Bishop Lawrence S. McMahon dedicated St. Bernard Church, Enfield.
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suzuki violin group lesson web 2St. Thomas the Apostle School in West Hartford will have an 80th Birthday Masquerade from 6 to 10 p.m. Oct. 21 at the West Hartford home of a school family. Organizers have invited current and former members of the school family to attend.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the school.

Information is available at or 860-236-6257.

St. Thomas the Apostle School was the first Catholic school in West Hartford. Constructed in 1937 with funds raised by parishioners of St. Thomas the Apostle Church, the red brick building located at 25 Dover Road still welcomes parish families today, as well as students from 16 surrounding towns.

The school opened in September 1937 with just three grades, but added an additional grade each year until 1943, when the first eighth-grade class graduated. It changed in 1989 as part of an archdiocesan restructuring of Catholic schools, offering prekindergarten through grade five .

Today, more than 200 students are enrolled with an average homeroom size of 16. The small class sizes are designed to allow students to be fully engaged in the learning process with daily differentiated instruction in math and language arts, in addition to science, social studies and religion instruction each day. Teachers still teach cursive handwriting and grammar, but also extend learning opportunities through the use of technology with iPads, SMART Boards and laptops. The religion curriculum has a strong emphasis on service, with students in every grade participating in outreach projects at the parish, city and global level throughout the year.

While many schools have experienced budget cuts that limit the arts and extracurricular programming, St. Thomas the Apostle boasts a full complement, including music, art, library, world language and gym each week. The science lab provides students in grades three, four and five opportunities to explore through hands-on experiments and projects. Nearly half of all students participate in the expanded music program, which includes Suzuki violin, piano, band and choir. After-school clubs are expansive as well, allowing students to extend their time with classmates to enjoy shared interests in sports, scouts, art, science, reading and much more.

The red brick school building looks newer than ever. Several renovations have taken place over the years, including the addition of a gym, a stage and four more classrooms. Recent renovations include wireless capability throughout the building, security upgrades, masonry restoration and a new roof.

The school still features such original design elements as high ceilings and a row of large windows in each classroom.

“As the current stewards of this historic building, we try to honor the old while we embrace the needs of our current students,” explained Colleen Whitty DiSanto, principal since 2002. Mrs. DiSanto has been at the school since 1994, when she was hired as a fourth-grade teacher. In 2016, Mrs. DiSanto was named Administrator of the Year for the Archdiocese of Hartford.

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.