Surrounded by his brother priests, Archbishop Henry J. Mansell expressed thanks and appreciation for their dedication at an informal evening gathering of priests on Aug. 25 as part of ongoing activities to celebrate the Year for Priests."
At the event, held at St. John Vianney Church, which is named for the patron saint of priests and which overlooks Long Island Sound, the Archbishop used the metaphor of going down to the sea to reflect upon the beauty and value of the priesthood.
"We all have so much to learn of the tremendous value of each and every priest, part of the fraternity of priests in the Archdiocese of Hartford and part of the fraternity of priests across the world," he said during an evening prayer service.
We give thanks for that," he said, and realize "how much experience is present in this church today."
Calling for prayer for "this extraordinary fraternity," he also used the occasion to remember the priests "who have gone before us, upon whose shoulders we stand," as well as those who could not attend because of sickness and for other reasons.
"As we continue to celebrate this tremendous gift of the priesthood," he said, making special note of 42 seminarians now in formation, "we pray to continue to grow to be of service to the archdiocese as instruments of God."
"Using this as the opportunity in this Year for Priests setting," he said, "I thank you for all that you do and all that you are."
Father Joseph V. DiSciacca, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Bristol, who as the minister for priests helped coordinate the evening, said that the gathering was one of the of ongoing events this year to "celebrate the gift of the priesthood in the Archdiocese."
"It’s a very informal, relaxed day," he said, "but it gives us an opportunity to gather in fraternity and be in contact with the Archbishop."
The Year for Priests was announced by Pope Benedict XVI to run from June 19, 2009 to June 19, 2010 as an opportunity for priests to deepen their spirituality and build fraternity.
Following evening prayer led by cantor Bonnie Pepper and accompanied by Ezequiel Menéndez from the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford, the group of about 90 priests gathered for dinner.
Printed with permission from The Catholic Transcript, newspaper from the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn.