Our Pastor

Fr. Henry Smolinski

Father Henry is proud to have had a thoroughly Catholic education from kindergarten (Sacred Heart School, New Britain, starting in 1946) through to completion of his second graduate degree (Iona College, Pastoral Counseling Division, New Rochelle, NY 1973-80)  -  as well specialized trainings: in local mental health and family counseling (’73- ’83) agencies,  in the corporate business world (Aetna Institute in Hartford 1984 – 92),  and CT State Public Health and Corrections programs (certified HIV and substance abuse counseling 1994-2012).  

He loved Biblical Studies so much that he took extra courses at the Catholic University of America (where he earned his Licentiate in the School of Sacred Theology in 1967), taking graduate courses in Hebrew in CUA’s Department of Semitic Languages.  There he became personally familiar with some of the leading scholars in Catholic biblical scholarship (like Msgr. Patrick Skehan, Fr. Roland Murphy,O.Carm., and Fr. Joseph Jensen, O.S.B.).  And in 1968 he was accepted as an Associate Member of the Catholic Biblical Ass’n. of America, headquartered at CUA (which membership he’s continued to this day).

Since his seminary days also, Father developed a great interest in the Church’s social justice teachings and involvements in today’s social problems and challenges.  He was part of the National Interfaith Seminarians for Civil Rights that prayed weekly at the Lincoln Monument in D.C. for months until the passage of America’s historic Civil Rights bill of 1964.  His seminary took part in the historic wake and funeral of President John F. Kennedy (while he was there). And he was active in the Interfaith Seminarians against the Vietnam War.  He also began his lifelong affiliation with the Catholic Worker Movement during those days (including meeting Dorothy Day at her Hospitality House in the Bowery of NY City).  Last but not least he began in his D.C. seminary days his lifelong interest and involvement in various movements of spiritual renewal in the Catholic Church, like the “Cursillos in Christianity,” the Charismatic Renewal, and Marriage Encounters.  Since the summer of 1966, when he served as a deacon at St. Michael’s Church in the North end of Hartford, developing programs for youth,  Father was active for 20 years in support of  developing Archdiocesan Offices of Black Catholic and Hispanic Catholic ministries.  He lived for 2 months in 1975 in Bogota, Colombia, studying Spanish at the Universidad Javeriana, to better equip himself for pastoral work in Hartford. And he lived for 2 weeks at the Cathedral of Kingston, Jamaica, in 1974 to learn more about the country from which came many of his parishioners at St. Justin’s Church in Hartford.  He also took 4 two-week vacations between 1969 and 1981 in Poland, visiting his relatives and becoming acquainted with Catholic life there.  One summer he made his annual 1-week retreat with the Polish Jesuit Fathers at the University of Lublin (where Pope John Paul had once been a professor). Another summer he was part of a troupe of Polish Folkdancers from the Hartford area who took part in an International Polish Folkdancing Festival in Rzeszow, Poland.   His most memorable overseas trip was his 2-week pilgrimage (starting 12-26-82) through the Holy Land sites in Israel (including saying Mass for a group of Polish nuns on Mt. Calvary, near the site of Jesus’ Holy Sepulchre).

You guessed it: Father’s favorite hobby is traveling to old and new places in the Americas, Europe and Asia.  A dream: traveling to Africa (e.g. one of his stepsons built a new home near Addis Abbaba in Ethiopia), China and India.

© Joe Bednarz 2012