Once again, the Archdiocese of Hartford is celebrating the jubilees of its priests, and this year, also of two archbishops working within the Church of Hartford. The archbishops are Henry J. Mansell, currently the Metropolitan Archbishop, and Daniel A. Cronin, Archbishop Emeritus of our great Archdiocese.
Archbishop Mansell is marking the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination and the 20th of his episcopal ordination. Archbishop Cronin is observing his 60th year in the priesthood and his 20th year since being installed as Archbishop of Hartford.
The priests who are marking various anniversaries of ordination include some outstanding leaders in the Church today. Brief biographies of all the jubilarians appear elsewhere in this issue of the Transcript.
Priestly and episcopal ministry were inaugurated by the Son of God Incarnate, Jesus Christ, for the welfare of mankind. This follows from Biblical doctrine reiterated by Vatican Council II to the effect that "it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear." (Gaudium et Spes, 22)
The dignity of the human being, in other words, is founded not simply on human nature itself, but moreso on the truth that, in Christ Jesus, God truly became man. Pope John Paul II, in his unforgettable philosophical/theological view of reality, expressed it this way in his popular book, Memory and Identity (2005): "Without the Gospel, man remains a dramatic question with no adequate answer." Hence, the "correct response" to the ultimate mystery of man has to be none other than Christ Jesus.
Such is the central message which the priest and the bishop proclaim to the world. It is a message especially needed in our Age of Absurdity, when crude, dehumanizing secularism has become an aggressive tool of godlessness.
The Archdiocese of Hartford has been graced by bishops and priests who understand the above-cited key question of our times; and who are not fearful of preaching about it. We have all been profoundly enriched by the homilies, talks and columns (the latter here, in the Transcript) of Archbishop Henry J. Mansell. We also have fond memories of the scholarly sermons of Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin, and of the columns he wrote for this newspaper. For their words of wisdom alone, we are all both stronger and grateful.
The priest-jubilarians celebrated in this issue have likewise added to our knowledge and appreciation of the mystery of humanity, as well as the only valid, enduring answer to this mystery. On the occasion of their jubilees, we readily thank the Lord for them all, without whom our lives would hardly have been as rewarding and alive. Hartford has always been respected for the caliber of its priests.
And a very special word of thanks is due to Archbishops Mansell and Cronin for their strong, continuing and enthusiastic commitment to the ministry of the printed word – the Transcript, which has served the Catholics of Hartford (andeyond) for almost a century and a half.
Ad multos annos to all!