Archbishop Henry J. Mansell Honored

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If you found yourself having a tough time finding some Christmas spirit, it was out there if you were headed to the Hartford Marriott Downtown very early Friday morning. There was the spectacular sunrise, hotel gorgeous decorations, and then the trio of carolers who greeted those headed to the Catholic Charities “Help & Hope Breakfast” where the spirit of giving was being honored.

And that honor was in the form of Archbishop Henry J. Mansell, the humble but beaming recipient of the Help & Hope Award.

“I’m just a good cheerleader,” smiled Mansell when asked about his contributions that merited such attention. “We all do a lot as far as helping people in need,” he insisted. “I just cheer people on to do those things.

The honor marked the beginning of an important week for the archbishop who on Dec. 19 will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his ordination.

“Time just goes by,” he grinned as he and keynote speaker, former UConn men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun shared stories. “It does go by faster as you get older,” said Calhoun, whose plans include Christmas with six grandchildren and vacation to Florida with his wife Pat. “I remember when a day seemed like a week and now, the days just go so fast.”

The season stirred other good memories in those who attended. Mansell said he recalls his favorite gift as a child, a sled he apparently used often even though he was living in New YorkCity.

“There are lots of hills in the city,” he grinned. “We knew where to find them.”

For Calhoun, it was a train set. “That’s a gift that means a lot to a guy,” he said. It must because it was the same memorable childhood gift mentioned by Bishop Peter A. Rosazza.

There were those who tried to be all grown-up claiming their best childhood Christmas memories were things like “the family all being together at the table” or “the seasonal spirit of giving.” Java would have none it given she still can remember receiving that coveted “Vicky” doll as though it were yesterday.

“Okay, okay,” acquiesced Catholic Charities CEO Lois Nesci, after she attempted to give a more spiritual answer.  “It was a stand-up doll,” she said good-naturedly. “I must have been 5 or 6 and was so excited when Santa left it for me on Christmas morning.”

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