My dear parishioners and friends of our parish community: Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and forever!
This weekend, July 26 and 27, 2008, we at St. John Parish, the “Mother Church of the Diocese of Norwich” offer special devotion to Good Saint Anne, Grandmother of our Lord Jesus Christ, Mother of the Ever Blessed Virgin Mary, and Patroness of the Diocese of Norwich.
July 26 is the Solemn Feast Day of St. Anne celebrated in the Catholic Church. As members of the Diocese of Norwich, the Feast of St. Anne always bring us great blessings, as she cares in a special maternal way, for Bishop Cote, the Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, Consecrated Religious, and the devout Lay Faithful of our diocese under her protection and care. How is it, that our Diocese of Norwich came to be placed under the mantle of St. Anne? The story is a wonderful one.
Pope Pius XII established the Diocese of Norwich on August 6, 1953. St. Patrick Church, on Broadway in Norwich, was named our Diocesan Cathedral, thus giving us St. Patrick, Bishop and Apostle of Ireland, as our Diocesan Patron. It was the Most Reverend Vincent J. Hines, J.C.D., the second Bishop of Norwich (1959-1975) who petitioned the Holy See at the Vatican in Rome to name St. Anne as Patroness of the Diocese of Norwich. It was felt that our diocese, though small in size, was filled with a large number of people from so many various ethnic backgrounds, besides the Irish.
The Diocese of Norwich contains Catholic faithful of French-Canadian, Polish, Italian, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and many other communities. Our diocese needed a very special Saint to unite us as a pilgrim people of God. Bishop Hines selected St. Anne,, and the Holy See granted the Bishop’s petition and named St. Anne the Secondary Patroness of the Diocese.
In 1966, at the request of Bishop Hines, the Holy See changed the parish in Ballouville, CT, from the Church of the Five Wounds to St. Anne Church. The faithful of the Norwich Diocese thus began a particular love and devotion to St. Anne. Statues and shrines were erected in churches, schools, homes, and institutions all over the diocese. Our people responded with great devotion and celebration of July 26 – ST. ANNE’S DAY!
Time and changing circumstances seem to dim the spotlight on St. Anne. Just two weekends ago, July 12 – 13, we learned of the sad news of the closing of St. Anne Church in Ballouville, and others in the Putnam Deanery due to changing demographics and the rapid decline of priests. In his letter to the faithful of Norwich, Bishop Cote ended with a prayerful plea of intercession to St. Anne by all of us this summer of 2008. Indeed, the spotlight grows brighter again asking for the help of our beloved St. Anne.
Let us confidently and lovingly ask for her powerful intercession for all our personal needs at this time. It’s a great opportunity to rediscover the maternal care of Good St. Anne, our beloved Patroness. May dear St. Anne place our cares before the throne of her Grandson, our Lord Jesus Christ!
A very Happy Feast Day of St. Anne!
Summer Blessings to you all!
Always, Father Jim