Category Archives: Archdiocese of Hartford

Saints Peter and Paul

The annual liturgical observance of the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul is an exceptional day for the Christian Church, especially the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. These saints represent for us the founders of the Church in Rome (but in reality the church universal–the church to the nations). Martyrs both; Peter and Paul knew Jesus Christ in very unique ways; both called all of humanity to seek the Lord and to submit to the Lord of the Harvest, the Good Shepherd who cares intimately for each of us.

The sole American metropolitan archbishop –among 23 others– to have received the pallium is His Excellency Archbishop Leonard Paul Blair. Three other archbishops will receive the pallium at another time.

Pope Francis’ is typical of his concern for our encounter with the Lord, and our discernment of how we live what has been given to us (the gospel, tradition, magisterial teaching). He calls you and me to attend to the experience of the apostles in their struggle to follow the Lord faithfully and with conviction. In many ways Francis echoes what Father Carrón of Communion and Liberation taught us in this year’s annual Fraternity Spiritual Exercises (2014) regarding the essential of Christian life: Christ and His mission. “Following” Christ, belonging to Christ is often replaced by our sin and temptation. But as Francis adeptly reminds, we follow the experience of Peter and Paul.

The Holy Father’s homily follows.

Francis at the statue of St Peter June 29 2014On this Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the principal patrons of Rome, we welcome with joy and gratitude the Delegation sent by the Ecumenical Patriarch, our venerable and beloved brother Bartholomaios, and led by Metropolitan Ioannis.  Let us ask the Lord that this visit too may strengthen our fraternal bonds as we journey toward that full communion between the two sister Churches which we so greatly desire.

“Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod” (Acts 12:11).  When Peter began his ministry to the Christian community of Jerusalem, great fear was still in the air because of Herod’s persecution of members of the Church.  There had been the killing of James, and then the imprisonment of Peter himself, in order to placate the people.  While Peter was imprisoned and in chains, he heard the voice of the angel telling him, “Get up quickly… dress yourself and put on your sandals… Put on your mantle and follow me!” (Acts 12:7-8).  The chains fell from him and the door of the prison opened before him.  Peter realized that the Lord had “rescued him from the hand of Herod”; he realized that the Lord had freed him from fear and from chains.  Yes, the Lord liberates us from every fear and from all that enslaves us, so that we can be truly free.  Today’s liturgical celebration expresses this truth well in the refrain of the Responsorial Psalm: “The Lord has freed me from all my fears”.

The problem for us, then, is fear and looking for refuge in our pastoral responsibilities.

I wonder, dear brother bishops, are we afraid?  What are we afraid of?  And if we are afraid, what forms of refuge do we seek, in our pastoral life, to find security?  Do we look for support from those who wield worldly power?  Or do we let ourselves be deceived by the pride which seeks gratification and recognition, thinking that these will offer us security?  Dear brother Bishops, where do we find our security?

The witness of the Apostle Peter reminds us that our true refuge is trust in God.  Trust in God banishes all fear and sets us free from every form of slavery and all worldly temptation.  Today the Bishop of Rome and other bishops, particularly the metropolitans who have received the pallium, feel challenged by the example of Saint Peter to assess to what extent each of us puts his trust in the Lord.

Peter recovered this trust when Jesus said to him three times: “Feed my sheep” (Jn 21: 15,16,17).  Peter thrice confessed his love for Jesus, thus making up for his threefold denial of Christ during the passion.  Peter still regrets the disappointment which he caused the Lord on the night of his betrayal.  Now that the Lord asks him: “Do you love me?”, Peter does not trust himself and his own strength, but instead entrusts himself to Jesus and his mercy: “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you” (Jn 21:17).  Precisely at this moment fear, insecurity and cowardice dissipate.

Peter experienced how God’s fidelity is always greater than our acts of infidelity, stronger than our denials.  He realizes that the God’s fidelity dispels our fears and exceeds every human reckoning.  Today Jesus also asks us: “Do you love me?”.  He does so because he knows our fears and our struggles.  Peter shows us the way: we need to trust in the Lord, who “knows everything” that is in us, not counting on our capacity to be faithful, but on his unshakable fidelity.  Jesus never abandons us, for he cannot deny himself (cf. 2 Tim 2:13).  He is faithful. The fidelity which God constantly shows to us pastors, far in excess of our merits, is the source of our confidence and our peace.  The Lord’s fidelity to us keeps kindled within us the desire to serve him and to serve our sisters and brothers in charity.

The love of Jesus must suffice for Peter.  He must no longer yield to the temptation to curiosity, jealousy, as when, seeing John nearby, he asks Jesus: “Lord, what about this man?” (Jn 21:21).  But Jesus, in the face of these temptations, says to him in reply: “What is it to you? Follow me” (Jn 21:22).  This experience of Peter is a message for us too, dear brother archbishops.  Today the Lord repeats to me, to you, and to all pastors: Follow me!  Waste no time in questioning or in useless chattering; do not dwell on secondary things, but look to what is essential and follow me.  Follow me without regard for the difficulties.  Follow me in preaching the Gospel.  Follow me by the witness of a life shaped by the grace you received in baptism and holy orders.  Follow me by speaking of me to those with whom you live, day after day, in your work, your conversations and among your friends.  Follow me by proclaiming the Gospel to all, especially to the least among us, so that no one will fail to hear the word of life which sets us free from every fear and enables us to trust in the faithfulness of God. Follow me!

Our Lady of Fatima

Fatima Statue in GuildfordOn May 13, 1917 three Portuguese children –Lucia dos Santos, Francisco and Jacinta Marto – playing at the Cova da Iria in the village of Fatima, saw a beautiful Lady which they described as being dressed in the ‘shining white of the Sun … indescribably beautiful face’. Her folded hands a rosary. The Lady told the children to return to that place every 13 months, promising to take them to heaven. She also asked them to pray the rosary for the intention of reparation of offenses against God and for the conversion of sinners. The children followed the advice.

In the third appearance, on July 13, the Lady asked the children to pray the Rosary for an end to the war and gave them a secret that consisted of three parts: the first was the vision of hell, the second referred to the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the third woman’s vision was flooded with Sun that counter-acts the forces of evil and the persecution of the Church by Governments atheists. “The good will be martyred,” said the Lady, “the Holy Father will have much to suffer and various Nations will be annihilated. Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, which will be converted, and the world will be granted a period of peace.”

On October 13, about 60,000 people in attendance saw the Sun spinning, known as “the Miracle of the Dancing Sun,” was seen as fast as a gigantic wheel of fire and dash zig-zagged across the sky. The whole thing lasted about ten minutes, then the globe returned to the point from which it was dropped.
Mary renewed her call to penance and prayer, commending devotion and consecration of persons to her immaculate heart.
It must be noted that on this date in 1981 the Turkish citizen Ali Agca shot Pope John Paul II. The bullet was deflected and the Pope later traveled to Fatima embedding that bullet in the Crown of the Virgin.
Francisco and Jacinta Marto, died in 1919 and 1920, were beatified on 13 May 2000. Lucia became a Carmelite nun and died on February 13, 2005 at 97 years old.
Tonight, at St George Church in Guilford, CT about 150 gathered for Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, the rosary and a procession with the Fatima statue on the town green (the pic above). The unique thing about this procession at St George’s is that it’s likely the only parish in the Archdiocese of Hartford, indeed in New England, located on a town green (in a former very Protestant area).

Laetare, Jerusalem

Santa Croce in GerusalemmeThe Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare  Sunday, has a special remembrance for me. Several years ago I had the privilege to live for a month at Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Rome, with the Cistercians. Sadly, the Cistercian existence at Santa Croce has ended with Pope Benedict’s suppression of this monastery. The parish continues. Nevertheless, it is a most blessed place. Praying in front of the Relics of the Holy Passion was a joy as well as seeing the pilgrims making their way to the basilica.

Santa Croce is the place where Saint Helena, the mother of Constantine spread the dirt she brought back from Jerusalem, spreading it, built a place for pilgrimage for those who could not go to the Holy Land. This basilica has some of the key interments of the Holy Passion of the Lord, plus one of the fingers of Saint Thomas who touched the glorious wounds of the Lord.

The texts for today’s Mass and Office were purposely composed for today, for this church!

Laetare, Jerusalem et conventum facite, omnes qui diligitis eam; gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristis fuistis, ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestra.

“Rejoice, O Jerusalem and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation.”

(Introit for the Fourth Sunday of Lent)

The Fourth Sunday of Lent, also known as: Laetare (Rejoice) Sunday, Rose Sunday (Dominica de Rosa, from a Papal tradition of blessing the golden rose on this day).This is mid-Lent Sunday, day called Refreshment Sunday as well as Mothering Sunday. The notion of rejoicing comes from the first words given to us by the sacred Liturgy when we sing the Introit.

The wisdom of Mother Church tells us that at the mid-point of Lent we take a look at what is going on with regard to our Lenten commitment: some Lenten observances are relaxed on this day: in places where the organ is silent, there is the playing of the organ at Mass, you may see flowers in church and you may relax a penance. Laetare Sunday is a day of mercy. The purple of penance is set aside while the clergy are vested in rose vestments a sign of joy.

In England, Laetare Sunday is also called Mother Sunday. What is meant by Mothering Sunday is the fact that the Christian faithful would visit their Cathedral on the Fourth Sunday of Lent to make their offerings to the diocesan mother church. While we, on these shores, do not observe Mothering Sunday but we do pray for the diocese and the mother church, the Cathedral. Here in the Archdiocese of Hartford, we recall the Cathedral of Saint Joseph, and the current Ordinary, Archbishop Leonard Paul Blair.

Leonard P. Blair appointed next archbishop of Hartford

Bishop-BlairPope Francis appointed Leonard Paul Blair, 64, as the 5th archbishop of Hartford, a community faith for nearly 175 years.

Archbishop designate Blair was ordained a priest of Detroit in 1976. John Paul nominated him an auxiliary bishop in 1999 and in 2003 he translated to Toledo, Ohio. He received word on October 17 that he was being appointed to Hartford while he was in Rome.

Blair succeeds Archbishop Henry J. Mansell who has been the Diocesan Ordinary of Hartford since 2003. Mansell turned 76 on October 10.

Academically, Blair is trained in the study of the Church Fathers and in Historical Theology from the Gregorian University, Rome.

His Excellency has served Jesus Christ and His Church as pastor, seminary professor, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Detroit and he’s been in the service of the Holy See. Additionally, he’s known to be a strong supporter of Pro-life gestures attempting to give a coherent Catholic vision and voice for life issues. For example, he has stood his ground against Planned Parenthood and the Susan G, Komen Foundation which supports the former. He’s clear on the theology of marriage proposed by the Catholic Church.

According to Vatican published statistics, the archdiocese  has an “area 5,926, population 1,996,000, Catholics 718,000, priests 393, permanent deacons 289, religious 818.”

The archbishop works on the doctrine committee, the evangelization and catechesis committee and was on the catechism subcommittee.

The new archbishop will be installed as the Archbishop of Hartford on Monday, December 16th, at 2pm, at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph, 140 Farmington Ave., Hartford. Vespers will be prayed Sunday.

As Archbishop Blair said, we begin all things with the words of the Church, Praised be Jesus Christ!

May Our Lady help to guide the new archbishop and the people of God.

Congrats to the newly ordained

new bport priests.jpgIn recent days several dioceses and religious orders have ordained men to the priesthood.

The priest is to “understand … imitate … and conform” his life to the Cross of Jesus. The bishop exhorts the man to be ordained to see that he believes what he reads, that he teaches what he believes and practices what he teaches.

Here is a random sample:
The Archabbey of Saint Vincent: 1
The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal: 4
The Order of Preachers, New York: 6
The Idente Missionaries of Christ: 1
The Archdiocese of Boston: 5
The Archdiocese of Hartford: 7
The Archdiocese of New York: 6
The Archdiocese of Newark: 5
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia: 3
The Archdiocese of Los Angelus: 2
The Eparchy of Newton: 1
The Eparchy of Saint Maron, Brooklyn: 2
The Diocese of Bridgeport: 7
The Diocese of Paterson: 9
Saint John Mary Vianney, pray us.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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