Hartford Parish Bids Farewell to Pastor

Carol Harding Friar News

After a reception June 14 to thank James Hynes, OFM, for his years of service as a pastor of St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church in Hartford, this summary of his accomplishments and his impact was provided to HNP Today by a parishioner.

HARTFORD — When James Hynes, OFM, arrived at St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church here in 1999, he already knew some things about the parish. He knew that an open-minded spirit infused the church and that its motto exemplified the people who worship here.

He knew that people from 107 different zip codes worshipped here regularly, and that its ministries involved diverse groups of people. What he could sense without doubt was that this parish was a place where positive things were always happening.

When he was interviewed for Church Street Life in 2002, Jim said, “With the inauguration of the new volunteer ministry program … I hope that many parishioners would become engaged not only in the ministries of the church but also with agencies assisting the poor of our community.”

When his successor comes to Hartford now, nine years later, he will discover that much of what Jim hoped for has actually occurred. The hopes and Jim’s own clear vision, joined with his willingness to strike out in new directions, have resulted in real change and growth.

Hopes and Partnerships

This change and growth have indeed stretched beyond the four walls of the church, and fresh new avenues have been explored. Today, 54 ministries and five partnerships work to provide assistance to a needy population, both in Hartford and in Haiti.

Another partnership of significance has been forged with Mercy Housing and Shelter Corporation, and now Catherine’s Place provides housing for women who were living on the streets.

Here, they get food and guidance given by trained professionals. Partnership with the House of Bread provides outreach and practical assistance from the staff and from the St. Patrick-St. Anthony volunteers. Other partnerships, like the one with St. Joseph College, offer the Wellness Center, providing education and medical help.

Jim is also proud of the tremendous growth of parish youth programs. “It is much more diverse today,” Jim noted, “and every year, many more families are actively involved in it.”

According to Jim, another example of change and growth is the development of a strong lay leadership, who keep the programs thriving. Such diverse ministries as the Golf Committee, the Care Ministry, the Prayer Shawl Ministry and the lectors and altar servers, all serve in various capacities throughout the year.

Parishioners say that having a pastor move on is quite an emotional experience. When Jim’s first announcement appeared in the Sunday bulletin, many in the congregation were stunned. But his impact will remain long after he goes to Villanova University where he will be working toward  Master’s in Science Degree in church management.

In talking about his “moving on,” Jim said: “During the last nine years, I feel I have grown as a friar and as a priest. I have a deeper understanding of leadership and my personal faith has been nurtured because of the faith community here. Every time a friar leaves a community, it’s a reminder of why he came to the Franciscans and of his desire to serve, of his reliance on God to help with the transition to another community.”

Thoughts from Parishioners
As Jim moves on to his new adventure in the world of academia, we hope that he will know how very much we have benefited from the change and growth he has allowed us to share with him.

Many echo the sentiments of Sister Virginia Sheehan, SND, who said, “One of the essential gifts a pastor can bring is to break open the word of God so that it empowers us as a faith community to live the radical gospel message. Without question, Fr. Jim has that splendid gift and has eloquently shared it with us.”

That gift, so clear in Jim’s homilies, is a wonderful legacy for those who have been truly inspired by his words.

Claire Rossini commented: “What I will miss most when he leaves us are his homilies. He has a gift of starting small with an image, a memory, something seemingly ordinary and moving into a call for action or a vision of God at work in the world. He preaches with his entire being, and there’s a radiance to his presence that is truly inspiring. We are fortunate to have had him with us for nine years.”

Another person said, “We are very, very thankful to have met him and we will miss his presence greatly.”

— Carol Harding is a member of the St. Patrick- St. Anthony Newsletter Committee.