Tag 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!

Leonard P. Blair installed as archbishop of Hartford

Leonard P. BlairThe papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, representing Pope Francis in installing Archbishop Leonard Paul Blair, STD, as the 13th bishop and the 5th archbishop of Hartford today, the Constitution State.

The Archdiocese of Hartford is made up of three counties with more than 700,000 Catholics worshiping in 213 parish churches. As a diocese it was created on 28 November 1843 and elevated to be an archdiocese on 6 August 1953.

Paraphrasing the Nuncio, the season of Advent is a fresh beginning for a new journey of the people of God guided by the Good Shepherd. We pray that God will keep us firm in faith, joyful in hope and active in charity.

Archbishop Leonard Paul Blair, who spent 10 years in Toledo until now, generously accepted the work to be a new shepherd in Hartford, Connecticut.

Pope Francis writes to Archbishop Blair saying, that he is elected the new metropolitan archbishop of Hartford following what Jesus Christ exhorted Saint Peter to do, “feed my sheep.” Now walking in the path of St Peter Blaire is to have zeal for the flock, reading and hearing the voice of the Master in order to nourish this local part of God’s Kingdom in the same manner.

In his homily, Archbishop Blair said some things we could keep in mind,

memory: we are given the grace of memory of the Lord’s presence, of one’s personal journey, of how the Lord sought us out, and of our family. “I have seen much, learned, fear the Lord, for the Lord is our hope” (Sirach). Memory is at the service of mission.

mission: the installation of a bishop in the local church is lived in communion with the Church of Rome, and with all the baptized. Our mission is about the sharing of the Good News with others, it is a work of evangelization according to St Peter’s letter in which we read about the baptized who are called to a holy priesthood; that what we have been given is what we have received from the Lord. Our mission is to show the light of Christ to the world. Our faith is not about self preservation: be salt for the world, be an active member of the priesthood of the faithful lived in joy.

ministry: quoting Pope Francis who said that the Church is a field hospital where the Holy Spirit is active in each one of us; the struggle today has a lot of spiritual darkness, disorientation, and isolation; tenderness is absent. Our spiritual lack is a result of a flattering of the world, or its stress, a lack of care lived in mercy. Ministry is an expression of a life lived in holiness and hope. Ministry is service of the Gospel for all people.

We need to work on conversion, sinners who love much because they are loved first by the Lord. Are we witnesses to the love of Jesus Christ in concrete ways?

The crosier with which Blair is installed belonged to Bishop Lawrence S. McMahon, the 5th bishop of Hartford who served 1879-1893.

Five cardinals are present for the Mass today, along with other bishops, priests, deacons, religious and the great laity of the archdiocese.

May Saint Joseph’s courage and tenderness be with us, and pray for us.

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.

The Blessing of Oils

Henry J. Mansell blesses Holy Oils 26 March 2013.jpg

The rites for blessing the Oils used in sacraments always fills me with joy and wonder at how the Lord uses creation to communicate Himself. The rich sacramentality given by the Church concretizes the promise of Jesus to be present to us at all times, and in every way. The Holy Oils are symphony of grace. In the picture, Hartford archbishop Henry J. Mansell, STL, mixes balsam before he consecrates the key Holy Oil, Chrism, 26 March 2013, at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph.
Picture courtesy of The Catholic Transcript.
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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]yahoo.com.
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