Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan came to Connecticut Sunday for three private fundraisers, and also made a surprise appearance at a Catholic church in downtown Hartford. Father Tom Gallagher told me Ryan attended the 10AM mass at St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church.
According to Father Tom, secret service agents came by the historic brownstone church at about 8AM, to inform him Ryan would be attending mass. Ryan sat in a pew surrounded by security, all of whom showed up in a motorcade of about five vehicles.
The priest also told me although Ryan’s presence was not mentioned in the homily, parishioners were well aware who was worshipping with them. “There was a buzz throughout the church,” Gallagher said.
St. Patrick-St. Anthony has an interesting relationship with the Catholic church. This is from a New York Times article in 2003, in anticipation of gay marriage being legalized in Connecticut:
In an October letter to each diocesan parish, the Hartford Archbishop, Daniel A. Cronin, asked all Catholics to sign a petition, endorsed by the diocese and sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and the Family Institute of Connecticut (a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy organization), against the proposed laws. The Franciscan fathers at St. Patrick-St. Anthony refused to read the letter to their congregation or circulate the petition.
The church does not perform gay marriage, but welcomes gay and lesbian parishioners, along with divorced people and other disaffected Catholics.
We don’t know why Ryan or his staff chose St. Patrick-St. Anthony. There are at least three other Catholic churches within a mile radius. Was it random, or a subtle sign that his view on gay marriage is changing? There was no media present, because we were told by the Romney campaign there would be no interviews or photo opportunities during Ryan’s visit to Connecticut.
After the mass, Ryan left for a fundraiser at the suburban home of Arnold Chase, a well known businessman, philanthropist, and son of Holocaust survivor David Chase.
Ryan, much to the chagrin of Republicans and the media, had no public events or photo ops. Read about that here: http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/romney-ryan-say-no-to-the-63/