GENERAL CONVENTION 2003


 

 

THE Flavor OF CONVENTION

Comments from other Deputations around the country

DRAMA AT CONVENTION: “Earnest” - Church of the Gesthsemane

 

 

AUGUST 9: NEW HAMPSHIRE DEPUTIES AND DELEGATES REPORT:

At the close of the final legislative session, the New Hampshire deputation honored the wishes of Convention leadership not to use floor time with personal privilege. The following is the statement we would have made - which we have posted to the Bishops and Deputies e-mail list.

On behalf of the clergy and lay deputation of the Diocese of New Hampshire, we express profound gratitude to the deputies and the leadership of this House. We thank this body for the dignity and respect with which it conducted the debate on consent to the consecration of our Coadjutor-elect - in the committee hearing and on the floor of this House. And we thank this body and its members individually for their courtesy and compassion - to the New Hampshire deputation and to one another. Together we have shown the world that the Episcopal Church is indeed a place where God's transforming love exceeds the utmost civility and changes the character of even the most passionate debate and disagreement. We are mindful that many in this body have taken great risks to support New Hampshire in seeking
consent to our election. And we thank God for their witness.

We are also aware that all of us go home to friends and parishioners, some of whom are thankful, others fearful, some deeply troubled, even angered by what we have done. We want this body to know that each member, deputation, and diocese will be in our prayers as together we encourage our fellow Episcopalians to hold to what we share in love - the bottom line: that Jesus is Lord and Savior - that the wideness of God's love and mercy wraps us all together, whatever our divisions and differences; and that in God's good time we will feast together at God's table. That is our hope, our expectation, and our assurance. God of love and mercy,
Hear our prayer.

AUGUST 9: Reflections from New Hampshire youth as they flew home:
Representing the minority of the diocese on this trip was scary at first. The youth in my group really pulled together to support each other. This convention taught me to stand up and be truthful about what I believe in. It's not easy being different and anyone who knows me knows different really is the word, but with support all of that seems so trivial. The youth on this trip bonded so very much. We act more like brothers and sisters than people who met only twice before. All that has been going on brings me back a year to the Episcopal Youth Event (EYE). There Robin Williams "Top Ten Reasons to be an Episcopalian" was read. The number one reason has always stuck with me. It is "No matter what you believe you are bound to find another Episcopalian who agrees with you." This was an amazing journey and I would like to thank all those who supported me but that isn't enough. I love all of you and thank you for always being there for me.
— Katie Trafton, Church of the Redeemer, Rochester.
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All in all the trip to the 74th General Convention was more fun than I had ever expected. I knew that I was gong to have fun, going with such a great group of kids. It's hard not to, but nowhere near as much as I did. Getting the chance to see how the Episcopal Church is legislatively run is one experience that I would not change. The past week, one that I don't think I could have lived any differently, was full of every kind of emotion. We experienced joy, relief, happiness, and many more feelings when Gene Robinson made it past the House of Deputies. The next day we felt anger, sadness, grief and more with the news that his hearing would be postponed and allegations were made against him. We still feel, for the most part, anger with the fact that the vote was postponed but more so that someone would do such a thing to such a nice man. This group had different opinions about the consecration of Canon Robinson. The feelings that have been expressed above are only one side of the situation. Through the disagreements the group was able to grow together and learn more through each other. — — Wright Smith, St. Peter's, Londonderry.
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There is a song in the musical "Grease" that says "We go together like rama lama lama kadinky....." If one was in our group, one could not help but have this song run through their head. What exactly rama lama lama kadinky..... is, the world may never know, but I think with our group, one gets a pretty good idea. We are all unique in our backgrounds, stories and personalities and because of this, each one of us enhances the qualities of the other. Who would have known that the crazy tatooer/quilter with purple hair would bond so well with the kid who wants to be a French chef and in the army? Who would have known that the boarding school prep could get to be so close to the bleach blonde swimmer? Who would have known? The answer is no one...no one but us, the youth from the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire. No one but us would have known, or will ever know what it was like to bond so well, to love so freely in our little group. No one else can see the depth of caring with which a hug was extended, or the meaning of a supportive pat on the back. No one else will see why this group of definitely different individuals love one another so deeply. No one, except those of us who experienced this magical feeling, who were able to love and be loved, show support and be supported, and to care and be cared about. They will never understand, but perhaps they can accept.
— Amanda Harris, St. Peter's, Londonderry.
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My friends would love for me to return home from spending a whole week at "church camp" and tell them that it was boring, too Godly, and that I went to church services three times a day. I know that they would love to hear all about the way-too religious people and how I had to attend Bible classes to better my understanding of theology. These were just a few comments that I got when I told my friends I was going to General Convention. And if I didn't get "What is that", it was "Oh, are there like gonna be any hot guys?" I know to them it sounded like a way not to spend a whole week of summer vacation.

To me it was the perfect opportunity to broaden my horizon in the Episcopal Church. When Pat Stelz first told me about it this past winter, I knew it was something I was more than interested in. And that only got stronger as the week approached and I found out exactly what I would be doing. I knew I was in for more than a great time when I met the nine other kids
that I would be going to General Convention with. It was amazing (and almost scary) how well we all got along. Yes, like in any group, there were downs, but there were 100X more ups. We could be completely silly, singing, excuse me, screaming random songs walking down the streets of Minneapolis, yet at the same time we were surprisingly able to put our serious faces on when we needed to. When we needed to be supportive of someone or something, we were, and when we needed to be respectful of opinions, we were. I have gained more than I could ever explain. I know what I have learned that is obvious about how the core of the Episcopal Church works.

I know what the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops is. I am still waiting to learn the things about myself. So far, what I have gotten out of General Convention is easy, the things I saw, heard, read, what it feels like to have 20 million cameras on you, and that my face has been in the national news. I won't realize the deep unseen, unheard, unread things until later, much later. So for now, I can tell my friends at home that General Convention wasn't a God camp, wasn't boring, and I only went to Eucharist 5 times the whole week. To me, this was such a cool and different way to spend a week of my summer. It was honestly a life-changing experience. I know when I get home, my life will return to normal, and I will soon be on my way to a very busy fall. The obsessive thoughts of General Convention will subside. Other new and exciting things will happen in my life and General Convention will seem a distant event. And then one day I will realize those unseen, unheard, unread things that I learned. Until then, I have many fond memories and 74 pictures to look at.
— Christina Flodin, St. Peter's, Londonderry.
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My first general convention was a blast! I was so nervous when we all first met and during the air plane ride, but once we got there I warmed up to everyone. We were all a great group and we bonded really well together. It was all a great experience and brought me closer to God and deepened my faith. From watching different hearings to the House of Deputies and Bishops and the Eucharist, it was all fantastic and a great learning experience. There were some difficult times for me and the group because of our different opinions, but we all gave and received the support that we needed. When we prayed it brought the group closer, I think. In the end though, I really am happy to be going home and bringing these wonderful memories with me. This is definitely an experience that I will never forget and will definitely want to do it again.
— Jill Lewis, Church of the Redeemer, Rochester.
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The path of a labyrinth is a peaceful and spiritual way to become silent from the loud and noisy world we are living in today. As you travel through and around the path, you start listening to your heart and mind. This gateway to God becomes an uplifting and fulfilling experience. Though most meditation is one of being still, this one uses the movement of body to become in tune with peaceful and glowing thoughts. During this trip, I walked a labyrinth for the first time. It was the most peaceful and quiet time I had in almost three days. Being pulled around and running all over General Convention I found the labyrinth a calming time before going through another rush of the day. I'm glad that time
was established.

With the knowledge I have now, I now know how to become calm at anytime whether, anxious, nervous, sad or even happy. This also gave me an idea. Maybe our parishes all over New Hampshire could start investing in them. This could show everyone another technique to find God in one self. In closing I would like to say thank you to our diocese, my parish, Pat, Jennie, Lauren (and Lucy for explaining the labyrinth to us). This was a wonderful experience. God bless,
— Andrew Cormier, St. James, Keene.
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"One time at God camp." "...and all I gots a moped." "...And this is a song for the lonely..." "I want you to want me..." So many jokes, so many memories, so much emotion. This group went through so much in such a short time. We experienced something that without this group you couldn't. This group was the most loving and accepting group I have ever met. Somehow when we came together we could put our different opinions away and have a heck of a time. Giving Lauren a surprise birthday party 7 months before her actual birthday where she had to stand on a chair and the whole restaurant sang to her was only part of the fun. I learned so much about the church, and how it works, I learned about integrity and how Gene has more integrity then anyone I know. I learned about people who will stop at nothing to try and stop people who have dreams and aspirations. I also learned a lot about myself and I felt that I renewed my faith. For the first time in my life I truly felt God. I could feel him watching over us. General Convention was an amazing place, one that I hope to attend the next time.
— Alex Broadbent, St. Paul's, Concord.
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At General Convention I experienced many things I will remember my whole life. The one that stands out the most is definitely when I was asked to speak for Gene Robinson at his hearing. Hank Junkin came up to me and asked if I would speak the next morning. I accepted without even thinking twice on what that would involve. I had to prepare and that's when it hit me "this is huge", I thought. I met with Mike Barwell who was to help with my speech. We organized the lay out and the whole time he was helping me, there was rock in my stomach. I was scared. Like any scared l5 year old, I called my mom. Yes, she helped but the group I came here with comforted and calmed me. After talking with them and being supported by them, the speech I chose to make seemed simple and fun, but the rock was still there. Later that night I sat down to write my speech, I think I rewrote it about 30 times before I was satisfied. Then I read it in front of my group. When I heard them clap the rock sitting in my stomach was carried out. Don't get me wrong I was still terrified but that helped. Walking through the doors to where I would speak was the part I will always remember. Tons of people and then I saw Gene and he was smiling. That made me
think, he doesn't look nervous, why should I be. Now the only thought I had to get rid of was "will I trip and fall as I'm walking up? Thank goodness I didn't. I shared my story and the experience I had with Gene and how great a guy he is. I don't seem to remember actually giving the speech. I'm not sure if I even blinked once. After people I didn't know congratulated me but most important Gene thanked me, then I knew I did a good job. I am so happy I accepted to speak. It is a lesson you can't learn without doing it and an experience not many people get during their life, never mind within the first l5 years of life.
— Jenn Lombardo, St. Paul's, Concord.

NH Editor's comment - I often hear folks refer to young people as 'the future of the church.' After reading the reflections above, does anyone doubt that they are the present - the very NOW of the church?

August 8: While weĂ­ve been debating sexuality and far-reaching economic justice issues, hundreds of hotel workers have been cleaning our rooms, washing our linens, scrubbing our toilets and handling all our "housework." TheyĂ­ve been doing this for us ever since we rolled into town. They make minimum wage, or just over.

In one small way we have a chance to make a real difference in a lot of lives: When you leave your room, remember to leave a buck for each day youĂ­ve been here, for the cleaning staff. Even 12 bucks wonĂ­t make much difference to any one of us, but if all 4,000 or so of us do this one small thing, itĂ­ll put $48,000 directly into the pockets of those who could really use the help.

— A member of the Diocese of Virginia

August 7: I believe one of the graces of this Convention is the way we dealt with each other. The secular media noticed that. The Dallas Morning News commented editorially on Aug. 7:

“…We have been struck by the calm and deliberative process the Episcopalians followed in reaching their conclusion. … Watching these Episcopalians of all beliefs reason their way through their disagreement on this issue could serve as a guidepost for the larger society. … Perhaps their thoughtfulness and mutual respect for one another on this issue will have a positive impact on how all of us Americans carry on our larger societal debates. At least we hope so.”

— Peter James Lee, Bishop of Virginia from CenterAisle.net

August 6: Bishop Jon Bruno (Diocese of Los Angeles) gave a presentation yesterday on the diocese’s Hands in Healing initiative to the Triennial meeting of the Episcopal Church Women. Bruno showed parts of the documentary video and public service announcements, widely shown in the Los Angeles area a few months ago, about the violence-prevention pilgrimage he and a group of young people took last year.

Bruno offered other Dioceses the help of the pilgrims and of his staff to help begin anti-violence programs. He said that a building in Highland Park used by St. Mary’s Convent, soon to be vacated, will be used to house a group of interns, who will live in community and work on anti-violence projects in the city of Los Angeles. For more information eMail: --Janet Kawamoto (Episcopal News - Los Angeles)

August 6: This afternoon, HOB/HOD held a Joint session for a presentation and distribution of the budget. The budget sheets were distributed throughout the hall to the sounds of familiar Beatles' tunes  - Can't Buy Me Love and A Hard Day's Night.  Eliciting major ovations was a lively Signer - not only did she translate the words of the song into American Sign Language, she rocked & rolled & did some fancy air guitar! It was a fun, light moment that cheered the joint session! Afterward, work and discussion on the budget continued.  -From the Diocese of New York

August 6: The Presiding Bishop asked the House of Bishops to make a list of the positive and negative aspects of approving Gene Robinson as Bishop of NH and then to pray over their list. Ted Eastman, a retired bishop,spoke about his list in the discussion - he said that he had a very long negative list and a very short positive list - but in praying over his lists, he became aware that all his negatives were coming from a place of fear, and his positive list was from a place of faith and hope - that decided it for him - he believes the church is about faith and hope. — The Rev. Ann K. Fontaine, Lander, Wyoming

August 4: The thing that strikes me most about General Convention is the atmosphere of prayerfulness that permeates our deliberations. Eucharist, sermon, group bible study, noonday prayers and meditation are a daily part of the routine. An open bible below the podium in the House of Deputies reminds us that we are a church under the authority of Holy Scripture. In our discussions and debates, diverse people of varied viewpoints seem genuinely open to one another in what our presiding bishop has termed "graced conversations." One senses the Holy Spirit among us, guiding us, leading us, and
directing us into the fullness of Christ's truth for the church.

The most controversial issues at this convention have to do with the authorizing a rite of blessing for same-sex couples and the ratification of Canon Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. Good and faithful people can and do disagree on these matters....

Finally, I feel privileged to be here at General Convention and to represent the Diocese of San Diego in one of the great decision-making bodies in our nation. Over 1,000 bishops and deputies are here from 109 diocese around the world-the United States but also Taiwan, Europe and Central America. We are a vibrant multi-cultural, multilingual and multiracial church that celebrates its diversity even as it affirms its unity in Christ. It has been said that the church is a group of people who have noting in common except Jesus Christ in whom they have all things in common. I agree. Despite disagreements on secondary matters, we Episcopalians at this General Convention are united in our commitment to Jesus Christ as God and Savior, and to reconcile the world in his name. — The Rev. Gary Nicolosi, San Diego

August 3: [New Hampshire] THE HOUSE OF DEPUTIES CONSENTS!
At a little after 3 PM, the House of Deputies turned to its special order of buisness for the day - resolution C045, Consent to the Election of The Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson as Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of New Hampshire. After 30 minutes of very orderly debate, in which pro and con speakers were recognized alternatively, there was a motion to vote by orders. This means that the clergy and lay deputies in each diocesan deputation voted separately. Each diocese has one clergy vote and one lay vote in a vote by orders. The vote is yes if a majority of the order in the diocese votes yes.

The vote is no if a majority votes no. The vote is recorded as divided if the vote is split - in most cases, if the vote is split 2-2. The debate continues for 15 more minutes, with two attempts to extend the time for debate defeated. When the vote was taken and finally counted over an hour later, the result was: Lay deputations: 63 yes, 32 no, and 13 divided.
Clergy deputations: 65 yes, 31 no, and 12 divided.

The final decision on Canon Robinson's election rests with the House of Bishops, which will take up C045 at 2 p.m. Monday. If the bishops grant consent, then Robinson will probably be invited to be seated in the House of Bishops that same day. The custom has been for the bishops to give seat and voice to bishops elect whose elections are consented to during General Convention.
Several powerful impressions of this day: 1) The very long line of supporters snaking around the edge of the House floor hoping to speak in support of consent to Gene's election. 2) The profound and sincere well wishes from all across this country and from our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean and Central America. 3) The respectful tone among all speakers on both sides of the question - even though many were passionate, all honored the decorum and tradition of the House in honoring one another. 4) The period of prayer which bracketed the debate and vote. The Chaplain to the Deputies still our frenzied hearts and reminded us whose we are and whose work we are about.
Canon Dyner, whose planned retirement, along with Bishop Theuner's, depends on the outcome of the consent votes, was observed making a valiant attempt to refrain from shouting, "Free at last!"

The following comments from Youth adviser Lauren Zimmerman and from Elizabeth Barwell, were penned prior to today's floor action. The NH Youth Presence visitors have promised to submit reflections on the consent process for posting to this site. They joined the deputation in our hospitality room after the Deputies' vote. Like members of the church throughout this country and in New Hampshire, while most are please with the results, some of our young people struggle with issues it raises. They have modeled for us and for the wider church, the commitment to stay and pray together, to keep talking about their joys and their concerns, and to continue working side by side to respond to God's call to servant ministry. This has been a profound experience for them and for the deputation watching and learning from them.

August 3: [New Hampshire] If the world were like the youth from the Diocese of New Hampshire:

After just four days the youth of this group have given me the vision of what our world could be---- through disagreements, exhaustion, flying shortcake, contact with people around the world and the celebrity treatment from being from the diocose of NH.

—Lauren Zimmerman, St. Andrew's Church, Hopkinton, N.H. (adult adviser)

August 3: [New Hampshire] Coming to general convention this year was a nerve-wracking experience. I had experienced doubts about my faith before coming, which concerned me. I was worried that I wouldn't enjoy this convention and that the diocese would have wasted money on me when another teen might have benefited more from the experience. This, however, was not the case. After two hours, I realized this trip would be wonderful.

Everyone in the group had bonded and an easy camaraderie had been formed. The next day, another step was taken in our relationships. Some of the youth had opposing views about the place of
homosexuality in the church. There was tension for only a short while .

uickly we talked about the problems with which we were faced. That grew into one of the most productive and supportive discussions I've ever been to. By attending hearings and panels our beliefs and ideas are challenged
daily. We're growing and understanding and most importantly, we're learning to love every one of our faults. Thank you for this opportunity, New Hampshire. Your support and prayers have made this an unforgettable experience.

—Elizabeth Barwell, [Youth Delegate] St. Andrew's, Hopkinton,N.H.

 

 

August 1: [New Hampshire] “The NH Youth tell me ........The operative word for their experience is
"awesome" - a word echoed by this editor, even though she is a four-time deputy. The witness of the whole church gathered in its amazing diversity is awesome indeed. Thanks be to God!”

July 30: [Los Angeles] Committee hearings began today on proposals to alter Title III of the church’s canons, or laws, the section that governs ordination to Holy Orders in the church. Certain resolutions before the Convention propose to abolish the requirement that candidates for the priesthood be ordained first to the “transitional” diaconate... Today’s hearing was crowded with delegates and others: ...... most speakers favored abolishing the transitional diaconate, although some spoke in favor of retaining the traditional structure. All committee meetings are open to anyone who wishes to speak to the relevant resolution, and the committee may alter the resolutions according to what is heard there.

.........(Offering from today’s Integrity ) Eucharist at St. Mark’s Cathedral will be the first offering for the newly-established Hopkins Fund for Global Mission, which will provide support for Integrity’s efforts at global outreach and support of mission work by and with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons throughout the Anglican Communion. The fund is named for Michael W. Hopkins, Integrity’s president since 1998. Contributions may be made by sending a check, marked for the Hopkins Fund, to Integrity, Inc., P.O. Box 1246, Bayonne, NJ 07002.

Bishop Suffragan Chester Talton (of Los Angeles), as chair of the House of Bishops committee on the election of bishops, is presiding at hearings concerning the ten priests whose elections to the episcopate occurred within the last four months, and therefore must be ratified by both houses of General Convention:

...... Works of art by Episcopalians from across the United States, selected by Episcopal Church Visual Arts, are projected on a screen above the altar each morning. All of the featured works will be displayed again on the last day of the Convention.

Artwork by Stefan Bell, whose mother is the Rev. Emily Bell (formerly of Fallon, Nevada), will be used at Friday’s Eucharist.

— Janet Kawamoto, reporting for the Episcopal News, Diocese of Los Angeles

FROM THE STREET— Comments on Convention from the Diocese of Virginia


I found the huge hall the size of an airplane hanger where the House of Deputies will be meeting, ....computers, screens, microphone stands, and other modern devices are being set up.

My committee: Dispatch of Business, met .....We grounded our opening time together in prayer and a Celebration of the Holy Eucharist. I was asked to read the Epistle for the day - that clearly spoke directly to us as we prepared to serve at General Convention.
"I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of Spirit in the bond of peace.”
(Paul’s letter to the Ephesians chapter 4, Bible, New Testament)

- Mary Glasspool, Maryland Deputation Chair

JULY 29 — First day of committee meetings: we trekked our way to the Hyatt, where all the committees began meeting schedules at 9 am. Most of them reviewed the legislation assigned to them and made at least preliminary decisions about the need to hold hearings on resolutions - usually those that are controversial or in which
a great deal of interest has already been expressed. Some committees - such as Ministry, Social and Urban Affairs and Program, Budget and Finance - have very heavy work loads, and will probably continue meeting through most of Convention. Others, including Stewardship and Development, expect to conclude their meetings by
the end of this week.

The Houses of Deputies and House of Bishops met jointly to hear opening addresses from Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and House of Deputies President George Werner. The two Houses then separated and the House of Deputies spent the next two hours in an orientation session. This is the second General Convention in
which the House of Deputies will be using electronic voting, so the orientation includes careful instruction on the use of hand-held voting keypads - it seems deputies need to be walked through the process of digitally pressing either #1 or #2.

Coadjutor-elect Gene Robinson met with deputies and youth visitors in a hospitality room at the Hyatt from 3-6 PM. Several "Ask Me About GENE" button wearers were also available to meet and greet. Gene himself wears a button reading, "I Am GENE." Some wags have referred to us as the 'GENE pool'.

— A Deputy from the Diocese of New Hampshire

 

“We are all amazed and grateful for the overwhelming response we get. Being from New Hampshire is a conversation stopper. We are finding an enormous amount of support for Gene's election. Our hosts from the Diocese of Minneapolis are particularly excited about it.

We are wearing 'Ask Me About Gene' buttons, and lots of people do ask. We were stopped on the street tonight by folks from Rochester [NY], where Gene was a very very close runner up in their episcopal election.

Much of downtown Minneapolis is connected by a system of skyways. Going outside is almost unnecessary - we can travel the two blocks from our end of the hotel to the convention center through the skywalk. Some of us scouted out the House of Deputies to see where our deputation will be seated. We are roughly in the middle, surrounded by Minnesota, Tennessee and Milwaukee. Alaska and West Virginia are in the front row of the grouping next behind us.“

Deputies from New Hampshire — July 28

 

July 29: I arrived at 11 a.m., and by mid-afternoon have registered as press and visitor, and begun to find all sorts of Connecticut people. The Convention officially opens tomorrow. There was an orientation this afternoon, for bishops and deputies. Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and House of Deputies President the Very Rev. George Werner each gave an opening address. While both speakers are truly looking forward to the business of the Church, they are also concerned about those who have talked about leaving, and hope God will grace the Convention with a way to stay together.

After the speeches, the bishops were dismissed and the deputies learned more about rules, procedures, and traditions of the House of Deputies. No "clicking" notebooks. No applause. Vote electronically by pointing a device that looks like a remote control at the front of the room, and pushing "1" for yes; "2" for no. Step up onto platforms to address legislation; your weight triggers a light to go on, and the president will call on you in turn...

Legislative committees are already meeting in the early morning and the evening, preparing to send legislation. The Social and Urban Affairs Committee... wants to have resolution A010, renewing the church's commitment to anti-racism work, be one of the first pieces of legislation on which deputies will vote. At the committee hearing, the chairman noted there will be an anti-racism program at General Convention on Sunday evening.

— Karin Hamilton - Diocese of Connecticut

 

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