Supreme Court Decision On Marriage
“A Tragic Error” Says President
Of Catholic Bishops’ Conference

Washington (June 26, 2015) — 
 The U.S. Supreme Court decision, June 26, interpreting the U.S. Constitution to require all states to license and recognize same-sex “marriage” “is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The full statement follows:

Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable. Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.

The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female. The protection of this meaning is a critical dimension of the “integral ecology” that Pope Francis has called us to promote. Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.

Jesus Christ, with great love, taught unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. As Catholic bishops, we follow our Lord and will continue to teach and to act according to this truth.

I encourage Catholics to move forward with faith, hope, and love: faith in the unchanging truth about marriage, rooted in the immutable nature of the human person and confirmed by divine revelation; hope that these truths will once again prevail in our society, not only by their logic, but by their great beauty and manifest service to the common good; and love for all our neighbors, even those who hate us or would punish us for our faith and moral convictions. 

Lastly, I call upon all people of good will to join us in proclaiming the goodness, truth, and beauty of marriage as rightly understood for millennia, and I ask all in positions of power and authority to respect the God-given freedom to seek, live by, and bear witness to the truth.

A Glorious Celebration
of Ordination
to the Diaconate

By Reverend Gregory Galvin, Director of Priestly Vocations

The day arrived amid a magnificent blue sky, bright sun and St. Patrick’s Cathedral filled for the glorious celebration of Ordination to the Diaconate of three of our seminarians, Rev. Mr. Jeff Ellis, Rev. Mr. Thomas Griffin and Rev. Mr. Peter Langevin.

The joy in their eyes and in their faces was evident! The joy of family and friends who came to witness another and very important step towards Holy Priesthood, Ordination as a transitional deacon for the Church, was also clearly evident. For each man, Jeff, Tom and Peter, the journey taken in responding to the Call of The Lord, has been different and similar at the same time. Their backgrounds are different; Jeff coming from working for the government as a computer engineer; Peter having a background in Catholic education; Tom many years serving as a banker in different areas throughout the State of Connecticut. Each of these men has responded to our Lord generously and each of them looks forward with great anticipation to beginning his service to the Lord by serving His Church.

One of the poignant points about what it means to answer a call from the Lord was given in the Gospel reading from the Ordination. From Mark Chapter 12: 38-44 regarding the poor widow who gave all she had, Christ pointed out to his disciples:

“Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors…for they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood”. 

This is what each servant of the Lord is called to. Christ has asked Jeff, Tom and Peter - are you willing to give of your whole livelihood to serve in my name, to serve my bride, the Church, to lay your life down and to use the gifts my Heavenly Father and I have given you and will continue to give you through the Holy Spirit? Each of these men responded yes! 

Within the step of ordination to transitional diaconate, these newly ordained deacons will now more actively begin their service sacramentally by proclaiming the Gospel, sometimes preaching the Gospel, baptizing, witnessing the sacrament of marriage, assisting to bury the dead, distributing the precious blood at Holy Mass and bringing Holy communion to the sick and homebound. They take on a greater role of being an example of what it means to have a “heart of service for the Lord” by giving of themselves as completely as they can in preparation for being ordained a priest of Jesus Christ sometime next year, 2016. 

We ask that you keep each of our newly ordained deacons in your prayers along with Juan Aguirre who, God willing, may also be ordained a transitional deacon in the coming year, Frank Gilbert, Deacon Ron Blank, Mike Bovino and Sebastian, Dharen, and Michael, the three Colombian men coming to begin their English studies later this summer. 

Thank you all for your many prayers and please continue to both thank our God in prayer and continue also to beg him to continue sending us more good and holy priestly vocations.

“Let us pray that God the all-powerful Father will mercifully pour out the grace of his blessing on these, his servants.” Bishop Cote.

Bishops Call for
a V Encuentro

By Mother Mary Jude Lazarus, S.C.M.C., Diocesan Director Hispanic Ministry

On June 9, 2013, the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs convened pastoral leaders of the Hispanic/Latino community to engage once again in the process of Encuentro. Since the mid 1970’s, Hispanic Ministry in the United States has seen four national gatherings, called “Encuentros,” which have been profoundly instrumental in moving the ministry forward. It is an opportunity for in-depth self-study, beginning on the parish level, then moving to the diocesan and regional levels, and finally ending on the national level. On each of the levels the process ends with an event – Encuentro – which recognizes and celebrates what has been learned. Proposals are formulated and delegates appointed to take the proposals to the next level. At the final celebration, the national gathering, delegates from across the country work to synthesize the proposals which have been garnered from the different levels and put them together in a working document, with practical applications. 

The Encuentros have shaped Hispanic Ministry in this country. They have given it a focus and direction which has been important in guiding the ministry as the Hispanic/Latino presence continues to grow amid increasing challenges. They have given the Hispanic/Latino people the opportunity to interpret and to project into the future their own identity, presence, and contribution to the Church and to U.S. society as a whole. 

This Fifth Encuentro - V Encuentro - was convened in the context of the New Evangelization. Its primary objective is to discern the way in which the Church responds to the Hispanic/Latino presence, and to strengthen the way in which Hispanic/Latinos respond as Church. In particular, it will be a process of listening with close attention to the voice of the poor and marginalized and it will seek to build up the faith of young, second and third generation Hispanics/Latinos and to involve them in the life of the Church. The Encuentro will help to discern the Church’s best pastoral and evangelizing response to parishes, dioceses, and ecclesial movements, both at a regional and at a national level. 

The vision and theme of the V Encuentro is one of “missionary discipleship,” a spirit of accompaniment based on the Emmaus story from the Gospel of St. Luke. The V Encuentro calls for a continual pastoral conversation that allows the Church, consistent with its missionary nature, to respond with more fidelity and enthusiasm to the Hispanic/Latino presence in parishes and dioceses, thereby empowering the Hispanic/Latino people to live their discipleship more fully as joyful missionaries to the whole Church. Bishops Arturo Cepeda, Gerald Barnes, Nelson Pérez and Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller were elected by the Subcommittee to lead the Encuentro process. 

The national gathering of V Encuentro will take place in 2018, and preparations are underway. Last February, in Baltimore, Bishop Nelson Perez convened the National Team which will guide the process. Their first task is to create Regional Teams in each of the 14 Episcopal Regions, as well as Diocesan Teams. In April, the Conference of Diocesan Directors of Hispanic Ministry for Episcopal Region I – our Region – hosted an orientation/training session whose purpose was to give the participants more detailed information on the vision, purpose and process of the V Encuentro, to form the Regional Team, and to prepare them to form the Diocesan Teams. In attendance were pastors with their pastoral staffs and selected lay leaders in Hispanic Ministry from the Dioceses of Portland, Maine to Bridgeport, CT and of course, the Diocese of Norwich.

The event was facilitated by Alejandro Aguilar-Titus, chair of the Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs of the USCCB’s Secretariat for Cultural Diversity, Estela Villagrán, president of the National Conference of Diocesan Directors of Hispanic Ministry, and Dr. Hosffman Ospino, professor at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry. The day and a half event ended with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Cote. The first task of the Regional Team will be to form Diocesan Teams in each of the dioceses, in preparation for the grassroots consultation to take place in the parishes by the end of next year.