Dear Parishioners and Friends,
In a recent article titled “Changing times: Closure of Catholic churches in Waterbury has some wondering if more are to come” published in the Waterbury Republican-American, Fr. James Sullivan, Rector of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, was interviewed about the merger of parishes in the Archdiocese of Hartford and other dioceses, and the effects it was having on Catholic life throughout New England.
Quoting Brandon Nappi, who teaches homiletics at Yale Divinity School, the article continued: “‘Catholicism has to be more than a beautiful nostalgic backdrop for your Sunday obligation.’ He pointed to Saint Patrick-Saint Anthony Church in Hartford, which was taken over by the Franciscan Friars in 1990. The Franciscans began an urban outreach ministry that Nappi said draws from nearly 50 zip codes. ‘They are really meeting people where they are and now they’re operating on all cylinders.’”
We shouldn’t be surprised that Saint Patrick-Saint Anthony is held up as an example of how a parish can meet multiple needs – not just spiritually but humanly as well. The friars who came here in 1990 looked around and saw many possibilities for ministerial outreach to those in need and harnessed the energy of people who could make it happen. Thus, the Franciscan Center for Urban Ministry was born and continues to provide much-needed assistance to people who would otherwise find it much more difficult to survive.
I often like to say that the Eucharist, the summit and source of our lives as Catholic Christians, affords us the opportunity and challenge to be bread for the world. What we share at Mass – the Eucharist, Bread of Life and Cup of Salvation – is the nourishment we need in order to nourish others. Once again, I commend and thank all of you who give of your time, talent and treasure to those who cannot provide for themselves. The recent mission collection for the Little Sisters of Mary Immaculate of Gulu, Uganda, as well as the clothing drive held last weekend for Ukranian and Haitian youth refugees are just two examples of your generosity and compassion.
While I was in Buffalo last weekend for the funeral of my brother-inlaw, John Kuebler, I had the opportunity to talk with my brothers, sisters and cousins about this incredible parish. Some of them were already familiar, through our live-streaming, with our beautiful liturgies and superb music ministry. But I was also eager to tell them about everything else that happens here that live-streaming doesn’t show.
My siblings started a little custom of getting together to celebrate each other’s 70th birthday. Next year will be mine, but it will also be my 40th anniversary of Ordination, so I have invited them to come to Hartford the second weekend of September to see for themselves what a wonderful parish we are.
You Can’t Go Home Again is the title of a 1940 novel by Thomas Wolfe. Although I’ve not read the book, the title has become something of a catch-phrase in modern America. It means that past times which are fondly remembered are lost to the past and cannot be relived. On the contrary, last weekend showed me that you can go home again, and my siblings and I did just that.
One of the stops we made following our brother-in-law’s funeral service was to our house in South Buffalo where we all grew up. We intended to just take a group photo in front of the house, but the current owners came out and welcomed us with open arms. Then they invited us inside to see how everything looked, more than 30 years after our parents sold the house.
Much of the interior was different, with some walls taken down, the chimney now exposed, and carpets and linoleum flooring taken up to reveal hardwood floors. But some things hadn’t changed, and for me it was the radiator seat in front of the the dining room window where I would sit with our dog Skippy, waiting for my father to come home from work. The biggest impression I had, however, was how much smaller everything looked, except for the chestnut tree by the street which was planted in the late 60’s and is now a full-grown tree. My final thought is that, while you can go home again, everything is going to look a lot different! But change is part of everyone’s life, for better or for worse, and it’s nothing to be afraid of.
Blessings on your week ahead!
Fr. Tim Shreenan, O.F.M.Pastor
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